| Ask The Style Chefs: April 2006 Archives

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April 2006 Archives

Q. I came across your site and thought it was just great. I am going to my brother-in-law’s child’s christening. They are having a get-together at a restaurant after the church at about 3pm.  I was planning on wearing a simple v-neck, short-sleeved wrap dress (black) from Express, size 1/2.  It fits real nice and is knee length.  Should I just wear a simple black pump (I have a black leather pair with an ankle strap or do I avoid the ankle strap).  Or should I wear an open toe, but I wanted to avoid the pedicure, this week my schedule is real hectic.  And I am not crazy about open-toe shoes with pantyhose, and I wanted to wear pantyhose because I don’t have a tan right now. If you could suggest an actual shoe or website, would be great. Or should I just go with the simple slacks and dressy top?  I thought a dress was more appropriate, because I have two young girls 3 & 5 and I am dressing them in fancy dresses that I bought them for Easter.  Should my husband wear a suit? We are from New York but the christening takes place in Baltimore.
-Toes not ready to peep 

A. Go for the dress and wear something that gives more of a hint to the nicer weather like an open toe sandal or peep toe, and if you can’t get a pedicure just put on some nail polish and deal, since nobody’s going to be really eyeing your toes.  If you can’t bear to expose your toes, then choose a sling back and skip the hose.  I’m not a big fan of hosiery unless it’s tights or sheer black in the winter.  And don’t fret about not having a tan, it’s only April and unless you live in Florida we are all still looking a bit pasty so everyone will look the same.  Why not buy the Jergens moisturizer that gradually tans your skin without messy stains? You can find it at your local drugstore and by the time the christening date arrives you should have a nice glow. 

As for your husband, I don’t think a suit is necessary.  A shirt, nice slacks and a sport jacket will be spiffy enough.

Q. I’m a 24 yr old aspiring stylist. I absolutely love fashion! You name the magazine and I probably have a subscription. I’d love to start my own personal shopping/styling business. Although I don’t have a background in fashion or degree in fashion I still think that I could do well. I got my niece ready for her winter formal and I only spent $96.00. Fifteen of it was spent on her dress. She looked fabulous.

Do you have any advice on how I can get started in this field or who I can talk to about getting started. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.
-Fun Fashion Fanatic 

A. Love a girl with passion.  Now it’s time to focus your passion towards your goal of creating a personal business. Start small.  Keep your day job and make time on nights and weekends to build your shopping business. To start, do you want to work in-house for an upscale department store or boutique as a personal shopper, create a loyal client list that trusts your expertise and sense of style?  Or start on weekends by creating a comprehensive list of all the boutiques, shops and department stores, break it down by neighborhood, prices, designers offered and even restaurants in the neighborhoods. Meet with managers of these establishments and be friendly, build a relationship. 

For styling you’ll need photos of your styling work.  Are there any photographers that are trying to get work for their portfolios?  Offer your services for free.  You’ll both get something out of the shoot. Create a website offering your personal shopping, perhaps even shopping tours of different neighborhoods with a stop for lunch or afternoon tea. Create a postcard that can be left at different boutiques, bookshops and especially hotels in the area plus contact women’s groups-PTA, junior leagues, red hat societies- to let them all know you are available to be a personal shopper.  At hotels, meet with the concierge and let him or her know the details of your business so they might suggest it to guests.  Be savvy enough to shop for both women and men. And then of course there’s always the opportunity to learn the business by assisting a fashion editor/stylist on shoots—get the lay of the land by doing the grunt work (ironing, lugging trunks and boxes, pinning clothes) which quite frankly, I still do.

Q. How do you wear the metallic gold, silver, bronze shoes?  What goes best with them?  I have heard that you can wear them like a neutral, but I still can’t figure out which shoe looks best with what color clothes.  I like gold with green, but when it comes to other colors I am at a loss.  What color should you wear with yellow? Silver, gold, bronze? How about blue?  Does it depend on the shade?  What about pink?  Please help!
-Clueless About Color   

A. I’ve said that metallics are like a neutral, but in truth they do so much more than a neutral.  A cream shoe with a yellow dress is fine, but a gold sandal with a yellow dress is sexy. Here’s my metallics 101: gold works best with green, red, orange and soft colors like beige and khaki;  cooler colors like blue and gray look best with silver; brown looks good with bronze or gold; white and black and even pink work with multiple metallic shades.

Q. I have fairly sensitive/fair skin, so I am addicted to self-tanner.  Lately, however, self-tanners are irritating my skin.  What is a good self tanner that is also easy on sensitive skin? 
-Irritating Irritation

B000Bh81Sa.01-A3Jvdwo73Dmqmo. Pe25 Scmzzzzzzz A. Self tanning can definitely irritate skin with extended use.  Our beauty editor, Mickey Williams, suggests you start tanning at night before bed, or time the duration you wear the tanner. Maybe plan a Wednesday where you wake up early to tan, and then make sure you are near a shower after about three hours. Most irritations start when the chemicals in self-tanners react to your own body chemistry after extended exposure. 
If tanning at night, make sure to use darker bed sheets or a light layer of darker pajamas. Mickey likes using Comodynes Convenient Cosmetics Self-Tanning Towelettes. They absorb right into the skin without a messy residue to leave behind on sheets. One towel goes a long way, so make sure to use them conservatively. 
And lastly, Mickey says ff you simply must wear your facial tanner throughout the day, use a tanner that is tinted to look like a light foundation. Biotherm’s Sunfitness Autobronzant SPF 12 actually melts right into your own complexion with a minimal amount of coverage. The lower SPF makes way for less sunscreen irritants and the tint doubles as a foundation so you will not have to mix makeup with tanning.

Q. I have been very frustrated by my inability to find fashionable jeans that fit those of use who wear bigger — but not “plus” — sizes. I am generally an 8 or a 10 but I find that I can’t fit into the biggest size made by most premium denim brands, generally a 32. If I can even get them over my admittedly large hips and thighs, the waist inevitably gaps by many inches, far too much to fix through alteration. No one who looks at me would say I’m obese, but I certainly felt that way after spending a good 2 hours in an upscale department store recently. Must I resign myself to Gap or Lee jeans from here on in? I’d really like to have a pair of sharp jeans that I can wear in a professional situation, and Wranglers just don’t cut it.
- Jeans Disjointed 

A. I feel your pain - jeans and swimsuits are THE HARDEST items to shop for and the most disappointing when you can’t find your dream purchase.  I have left many dressing rooms feeling like a reject when I couldn’t find a pair that fit me. 

First, make sure you are trying on the most flattering fit for your figure. Look for jeans with a slight flare to balance out your hips and thighs and avoid tapering or skinny jeans at all costs.  Be sure the jeans have pockets. Also, think about denim with stretch— or Lycra—one of the greatest inventions put into women’s clothes. Don’t bring a girlfriend with you unless she is super stylishly savvy and honest. And don’t assume that expensive jeans are more worthy - I have jeans in my drawer from Old Navy for $20 to Citizens of Humanity for nearly $200 and plenty of price points in between. I love them all for different reasons, whether it’s the fit, the length or the wash. It’s more important to find the right fit that looks good on your body than spending the big bucks for the latest “hot” jean. 

As for designers to look for, there are so many brands out there, it’s hard to keep up with the claims. Before you become hardened towards jeans, go shopping at these stores:  Lucky Brand Dungarees (they have claimed they can find you a great fitting pair in four try-ons) and Levi’s, where you’ll find a wealth of sizes and fits with knowledgeable salespeople. Or, head to a store that has a designated area just for the jeans with pros on staff that know all the styles. In New York we have Barneys with their Jeans Bar - I adore the guys at Barneys co-op, they are honest and can remember the difference between my first pair and my fifteenth.

Most importantly, be patient. Even if you have to try on 50 pairs to find the perfect one, it will be worth it!

Q. I have a question about weather wear.  I live in NYC and have just taken a job that is more administrative by nature, and therefore I’m having to build a business wardrobe for the first time.  I have a 45 minute daily commute involving a train, a bus and lots of street walking.  I’m at a loss for how to get to work looking neat and put together on mornings that are rainy, wet and muddy.  Specifically, how to keep the cuffs of my pants dry and clean.  I wear a lot of wide leg cuffed dress trousers.  Can I buy those stylish Wellies and tuck my pants in them for the commute?  I wear a women’s size 11 and have difficulty finding my size, and then finding a pair with a large enough calf to tuck my billowed trousers into.  Are there other options available to me besides Wellies to keep my feet and pants dry?  Help!
-Wet in NYC 

A. Banish rainy day blues with colorful, fun rain boots or loafers that will add style to your outfit or at least give you a smile thru your lengthy commute.  If one of these options is not to your liking, then go for traditional Wellies or even rubber riding boots that look quite sleek with a skirt. The boots and Wellies will give you enough room to tuck in your pants and arrive at your office clean and dry.

11099 DtTamara Henriques
cowboy rainboot
$98 at
Sperry Top-Sider
Pelican Boot
$66.95 at
Sigerson Morrison skimmer
$91.95 at
Bt-Toile-Lg-1Tamara Henriques toile boot
$118 at

Q. I am looking for trendy summer shoes/sandals that have a closed toe (I don’t like my toenails to show).  I want something that looks like a sandal without being one. I love wedges and low heels.  I can’t wear really high heels. Flats are okay too.  I need a variety as I lost a lot of weight and all my shoes are too big! Plus, I won’t spend more than $50 on shoes.
-Kickin’ it on a budget

A. So I’ve completed the mission: checked out multiple shoe sites and and hopefully fulfilled your request of no toes, not a high heel, but a wedge is fine and not over $50. And congrats on the weight loss!

174876Volatile Footwear St. Tropez Sandal
$44.95 at

24488BC Footwear Charisma Sandal
$49.95 at

985-246477-D-1Yellow Box Banjo
$56.95 at

Q. I have a micro mini that I bought in Vegas years ago and I love it, but now that I just turned 30 I’m thinking I should get another one that isn’t so micro but still has sequins. There is one that I like that is gold and bronze colored and I know a crisp white dress shirt would look good but are there any other options? I’m used to wearing the black micro one with a fitted black blazer so my effort to move up to a slightly more conservative look is leaving me a bit confused. As a former ballerina I have the legs to wear daring looks so no worries there. Thank you in advance!
-Leggy Issues 

A. First off, 30 is not 50.  I’m jealous—I’d love to have fab legs to be able to wear a micro mini with my only concern being my age.  It sounds like you’re wearing the micro mini stylishly with a blazer rather than trashy with a tight revealing top.  You obviously have a thing for sequins, so I’m going to say buy the new slightly longer skirt so you get 10 more years of sequins and perhaps wear your micro mini at least one more time at a party for a proper send off.

66126 Gr7216Q. I’m attending a friend’s beach wedding in Australia this May.  I will be wearing the J Crew Grace Silk Faille dress in lime green.  My friend said it will be a lagoon setting so I should wear dressy flats or low heeled sandals.  Any recommendations on a good pair of shoes to wear with my particular dress?
-Wearin’ it low

A. Since you’re sticking to a low heel or flat, I’d suggest looking for a gold sandal and perhaps something with details like beading to keep the whole outfit looking festive for the wedding.

3832-212899-DKate Spade Boisterous
$298.95 at

1733-173970-DNicole Miller Fedora
$123.95 at

3034-237270-DPelle Moda Cadee sandals
$115.95 at

Q. I am the matron of honor for my best friend’s up and coming wedding.  I would like to know if it is appropriate or inappropriate for me to wear a cream color dress with silver/blue trim for the rehearsal dinner.  Please help…I have been struggling with this decision. Thank you for any help or advice that you can give me.
-Dress Stress

A. Why are you fretting?  It sounds like you’ve taken careful consideration by choosing an elegant dress for the rehearsal dinner.  Slip on the dress, accessories and a gorgeous smile and enjoy the dinner.

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