| Ask The Style Chefs: November 2005 Archives

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November 2005 Archives

AnthQ. I am trying to figure out what to wear to family gatherings during the holiday season. I need something that strikes a good balance of dressed up but somewhat casual so I look nice and pulled together but not over the top or inappropriately dressed. I would appreciate any suggestions you may have.
-Festive Dress

A. Keep it simple.  Don’t wear jeans.  If you want to be comfortable, avoid wearing a dress. The items that strike a good balance of festive, but not over the top, are velvet pants or a fitted velvet jacket, a camisole top with lace or in a silky fabric that can be worn under a jacket or a cardigan, a cardigan with details like beading and a skirt than can be paired with knee high boots.

shown right: the teahouse wrap and gray pants strike the perfect balance, $138 at

Q. Is it acceptable to wear socks with low-heeled mules?  The shoes are Rockports, black, and they look like loafers (without the back half, of course).
-Cozy Cover

A. It’s kind of like how we all own a few pairs of “granny panties” - comfortable underwear that we hope no one will ever see.  The key to wearing socks with mules is that your shoes need to be casual and your pants should be long enough to cover the back of your pants so only the front part of your loafers are seen.  What others can’t see (your socks) doesn’t matter and you’ll have warm feet this winter. 

Q. What websites can I shop for trendy but affordable apparel for juniors?
-Junior Budget

A. You have so many choices, many of which you can find on our sweet sites section.  Check out,,,,,,,, and Have fun shopping!

Q. I have recently moved to a cold state and thought it would be a great idea to get robes for my roommates for Christmas.  Now, I don’t want to spend a ton ($50 max) and one is for a girl and one is for a guy, so unisex options are great!  Can you think of a good place to order them from or any other great gifts for the roommates?
-Warm Them Up

A. You can find your roommates not only cozy fleece robes, but you can add in slippers or PJ bottoms all for under $50 at  I recently received a pair of PJs with Noel emblems on them and they‘ve become my instant favorite for winter. Check out these great Old Navy finds:
Performanc Fleece
robe, $29.50


Women’s Charm
Slippers, $10


Men’s Performance
Fleece Robe, $29.50

sleep bottoms, $12.50

moccasins, $12.50

NordQ. I loved wearing my wedding gown on my wedding day. It’s an ivory, strapless, floor-length Nicole Miller gown that I bought in the eveningwear section of Nordstrom, so it isn’t super bridal—no lace, beading or tulle, just sleek silk satin. Before I got married, I thought that by buying a white evening gown instead of a wedding dress I’d have more opportunity to wear it again, but anytime I consider wearing it, it seems too bridal. Should I just give up hope of wearing it again and pack it away for future generations, or is there any way I can accessorize it to make it less "here comes the bride?" Thanks for any help, I love your site.
—Always a Bride

A. Saving the dress for future generations is risky - a lot of care must be taken to store it properly and you can’t be sure your descendents will want to wear it, so my suggestion is to find a way to wear it again. If you can’t get the wedding march out of your head every time you slip on your white evening gown, consider taking it to a tailor and ask if the fabric can be dyed a darker color.  Or have a good tailor shorten the length of the dress to cocktail length and you’ll be assured that the dress will look different.  You should make a change since it’s likely that you’ll wish to wear the dress to an event with people who attended your own wedding.  Another benefit of making the change is that your dress and wedding memories will always be significant to that day.  Have fun mixing up color in your accessories like bejeweled strappy heels, a colorful clutch and dangling earrings. A pretty wrap or fitted cashmere cardigan can also help change the look of the dress.

shown left: use this Vera Wang A-Line dress as inspiration, $220 at

AsosQ. I live in a cold climate that guarantees snow from October through April.  I need a good pair of boots (usually two) to get me through the winter season.  Usually I purchase flat black ankle boots and sexier high-heeled black knee high boots for skirts or my longer pants when I need some lift.  However, seeing the new fall boot styles (like in your fall shoe guide), I’m thinking of branching out.  Most of the fabulous fall knee high boots are so pretty, it seems a shame to cover them up with pants. How do I wear these lovely boots?  Is it acceptable to tuck my jeans in them to show them off? Or am I still supposed to wear them completely under the pant leg?  I’m especially interested in those cozy casual boots!
- Boot Camp

A. That’s what is so fun about boot-wearing this season, you can wear your boots both ways.  Pants tucked into your boots look hip and cool, while long pants worn over the boots so just the front of the boots show is sleek and chic.  Be sure to choose a skinnier-style pant when tucking in (no loose fit or flared styles). To keep pants inside your boots wear socks that are tall enough and thin enough to fold and tuck your pants or jeans into.  You can also find many textured and colorful socks to fold up over the top of your boots to add even more style.

shown right: Faux Fur Collar Stilleto Boots, $66.50 at

Q. I was just wondering if nail polish color and purse color should be in contrast to one another? Also can multi-colored purses be carried everyday? And should light colors or dark colors be worn during fall/winter?
- Purse-onal Questions

A. To answer your multiple questions:

1. Don’t bother with questions about nail color matching your bag unless it’s a specific event that you’re dressing up for. We’ve headed into Fall so give your toe color a break and keep to light colors since few people will see your tootsies. To avoid garish looks with your fingernails, choose colors that aren’t too dark and no funky colors like blue or green.

2. Your everyday bag can be multi-colored, but if the colors are pastel you should hold off and carry in the Spring.

3. When it comes to colors for Fall and Winter, it’s most important to find colors that look best with your skin tone.

Q. I’m looking for a cute hat to wear on cold and rainy days that won’t leave me with terrible hat head (i.e. no tight fitting, knit hats). I am looking for a newsboy cap or a fedora-type hat. I know they’re very hot right now and can be found almost everywhere, but my problem is, I have a small head and most hats are too big for me. Even hats that are labeled "small" are too big. I need a hat that won’t blow off on windy days or when I’m riding my bicycle. Can you help me find an adjustable or small size hat?
-Hat Attack

A. I’ve never had your problem - most hats are too tight on my head so I’m always looking for the medium or large size.  And I, too, like them a little loose so I can “try” to avoid hat head.  But if you’re looking to be able to keep that hat on when it’s windy or when you’re riding your bike, you need a hat with a buckle so it’s loose on some days and tighter on others.   Before shopping for a hat, especially online, take measurements of your head so you can find the right circumference or diameter that will fit.  And don’t assume that a knit hat is not right for you, I have a knit newsboy cap that is loose on top, but fits around my forehead so my hair doesn’t get flat.  Also, don’t forget to spray a little hairspray on hair or in the hat to avoid static and loose fly-aways during the dry, crackly months of winter.

Twill Cabbie with Buckle
adjusts for all head sizes
$18 at


Suede Cabbie with Buckle
adjusts for all head sizes
$19.99 at


Burberry Wool Bucket Hat
check out their hat size
guide for the right fit
$195 at


Q. I am taking my husband to the VA Symphony for his birthday. What would be appropriate to wear for both of us?
-Wear to Where

A. When it comes to events like the Symphony, Opera, Ballet and Theater, I recommend that people dress well for the occasion.  It’s not often that you spend much more than the cost of a movie ticket for a night out with your husband, so it’s a chance to dress up rather than wear your favorite jeans.  And what girl doesn’t like to receive compliments for looking pretty? For your husband, a sport jacket, button down shirt, tie, nice pants and well-shined shoes will be appropriate. For you, wear a dress or a skirt with details like beading and a cashmere sweater or even a velvet suit.  There are always options for a ladylike, chic look and sometimes it can just mean adding a printed scarf or long earrings to a simple solid colored dress.  And wear great heels! 

Q. I’m a mom of an 18 month old and 4-year-old boys. I want to graduate from a diaper bag to an everyday tote. I’m trying to find a basic black leather tote (with inside pockets that holds my cell phone and sunglasses) that isn’t over-embellished with decorative items. Have any suggestions on where to look?
-Bag It All

A. Now that you don’t plan to carry a dozen diapers, baby bottles and toys, you need a sophisticated, classic tote that will last for several years and not go out of style.  I’ve picked out several stylish totes that can carry your essentials as well as a bit of the baby gear. For a variety of totes that won’t put a dent in your budget and aren’t over embellished check out these sites:,,,, and

Leather tote
$198 at

MICHAEL Michael Kors
Double Zipper Tote
$298 at


DKNY Urban Fusian Shopper
$185 at

If you still feel as if you need more pockets and compartments for all your essentials, try adding a Purseket organizer. It comes in several sizes with many different fabric options and can be moved from bag to bag when needed.
$16 to $22 at

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