Free for the asking
There's a lot of free advice out there that can help save you time and money. A visit to the concierge desk at the Owings Mills Mall can yield all kinds of useful tips. The manager, Dede Glassband, or her assistant are delighted to share the information they gather daily about the mall's stores.
They can tell you which store has leggings on sale for $15, how much they were before they were marked down, where to find the latest sling-back shoes at a price you can afford and even which men's store is offering a special discount on suits that day.
For Anne Klein II fans, there's another free service worth knowing about -- Anne Klein II's At Your Service consumer hot line. Experts at the other end of the line can give you advice on what hose to wear with the designer's new spring colors, how to mix in new items with garments from last season and help you track down which store in your area is carrying particular clothes that you like. Call (800) 451-6900 weekdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Polishing your image
According to the Kiwi Brands shoe care company, sales of its products typically strengthen during a recession, as consumers take more interest in maintaining their existing shoes rather than buyingnew ones.
To help your shoes survive the upcoming spring showers, Kiwi's experts recommend spraying the leather uppers of your shoes after each polish with a weatherproofing agent such as Protect- All, which repels oil and water, and applying something stronger to the soles, like Kiwi Wet Pruf.
Water damage can be minimized if you remember to dry shoes slowly and away from direct heat, and an application of mink oil can help work out any stiffness that does result from exposure to the elements.
If you do nothing else, even something as simple as a regular shine with paste polish can do much to prolong the life of your footwear.
Hemming and hawing
One of the most popular wardrobe-stretching tips fashion advisers are offering women this spring is to hem up their old skirts a fewinches. Not every skirt will look better shorter -- the best candidates remain straight-cut skirts -- but some gently gathered skirts are effective cut short and flaring just a few inches beneath the season's new longer fingertip-length jacket.
If you love your long skirt, don't tamper with it. Great variety in hemlines promises to be the norm. The very designers who shocked the world with mini skirts five years ago have tired of the short and tight and are experimenting now with mid-calf lengths.
Saving In Style welcomes questions and suggestions. Write Catherine Cook, Fashion Editor, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md.