| Ask The Style Chefs: August 2006 Archives

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August 2006 Archives

Q. I recently purchased a Kooba bag, the “Marcelle” style in the Moss green color.   This bag was a bit of a splurge for me and I was so excited to find it and could not wait for it to arrive!  I was thinking that this bag would be something that would still be in style for the next few seasons.  However, since receiving it a week ago, and after having seen some of the fall magazines highlighting bags that are a “cleaner less detailed style”, I’m now wondering  whether this style - with the grommets all over the bag and handles, the laces and the outside pockets at each end - is something that is going to carry me through a few seasons or whether it is already “kind of out of style”.

Since I have not yet used the bag, I’m now wondering if I should return it and look for a style with less detailing and a cleaner sleeker appearance, or if this Marcelle bag that I purchased is a style that will still be fashionable through this year and into next year at least.   While I’d love to have the luxury of being able to buy the “hottest” bag each season as the celebrities do, that is not my reality…but I do want a great, fashionable quality bag that can carry me through a few seasons! Thanks in advance for your perspective! 
-Bag it or not? 

Koob-Wy65 V1-BigA. First rule of fashion—LOVE what you buy.  If you love it, don’t get caught up in the what’s in and what’s out list that fashion editors comprise.  Carry it with confidence.  Kooba is a great bag company known for their detailing and luxe leathers. While the grommets and lacing are evident, the bag isn’t overwhelmed with additional big buckles or oversized outside pockets that might make it trendy. It’s a great bag that should last a few seasons if well taken care of.  My only question would be the color—do you believe you have enough pieces in your wardrobe, including classic colored jackets and coats to use this as an everyday bag?  I adore that you’re choosing color, but you should have a backup bag (it needn’t be pricey) that is brown or black for some occasions.

Kooba Marcelle bag, $595 at

Q. I was just watching you on THE VIEW. My mom taught me “no white shoes, hats, etc.” before Memorial Day or after Labor Day.   Does this rule also apply to straw hats?  I live in NY and wear hats to church, temple, daytime weddings, etc.  Is straw ‘out’ in the fall?
-Labor day wonder   

0458757078412 Astl 300X400A. It’s time to put away the straw hats and straw bags.  Straw is definitely a “wear in warm weather material.” If you lived in a year round warm city, you could extend the wear and carry of straw items, but since the temps in NY will be changing, it is time to pack away your straw items. 

As for white, while most items like white sandals, white linen clothing and some white dresses should be stored for next season, feel free to wear your white jeans, white shirts and more all year long.  Designer Michael Kors has repeatedly remarked that wearing white jeans in winter with a black or camel cashmere turtleneck sweater is sleek and chic. And I agree.

shown here, White Saks Fifth Avenue Signature Lace-Trim Merino Cardigan, $298 at

Q. I just bought a beautiful cream cocktail evening dress. It has hints of gold through the dress (glitter) and some gold trim around the bust area as an accent.  I have cream shoes with a hint of gold (sandal with heel) and purchased a gold evening bag. Not much gold in the dress just hints through the outer lining.  My question is what color hosiery should I wear?  My legs are tanned but not very smooth looking so I think I should wear hosiery. So, what color do you suggest?  I will be wearing this around the end of September in Las Vegas for a night out on the town.  Help. 
–Leg Coverage   

Picture 1-4A. While I wish I could convince you to go bare legged for the occasion, I understand you feeling more confident in hosiery.  I am not a fan of flesh-toned hosiery since so many women choose the wrong color to match their skin color. I suggest a very sheer hose with a hint of gold shimmer, since Vegas is all about the glitz, or a very pale crystal, cream or sheer nude so your skin tone will show through.

shown left, Givenchy Body Gleamers Superb Panty Hose, $8.50 at

Joe-49Cc5136-BckQ. Last year I bought a ton of skinny jeans to wear either tucked in or cuffed big to show off my boot collection … I see that the tucked in look is still around, but is the big cuff?  I love that look but don’t want to do it if it is over…

-Skinny and Cuffed 

A. Go for it! The cuffed look is still in—most of us style gals agree the cuff should be about 5-7 inches thick. (P.S. try your cuffed skinny jeans with a pump too)

Q. I’m the Maid of Honor at a wedding near Baltimore at the end of September. The bride asked that I wear a navy dress (there is one other attendant). It’s an early afternoon wedding followed by a reception that will be over by 7 p.m - although I’m sure we’ll move the party elsewhere.  In reading your advice, I like your suggestions. I’d like to wear a sandal with a slim heel.  2 1/2 to 3 inch heel is best for me. Do you think metallic is too much for the afternoon? Too cocktail-y? The dress is a short silk Sophia dress from J Crew - hits below the knee. I was going to buy the Eleanor silk D’Orsay in navy from J Crew but they are expensive and sold out in my size. Maybe my hesitancy about metallic is because I don’t own any metallic currently. I guess I need to get over my “disco is dead” mentality. The wedding is not so formal - the groom is wearing a suit rather than a tux. Can you make a suggestion?
- Fear of Metallics

A. Get over your fear of metallics — while some trends come and go, this one is here to stay.  Metals give “oomph” to so many outfits that otherwise may just have been “nice”.  Go out and buy a pair of silver heels for the wedding - it’s always better to look a bit dressier.  No matter that the wedding is an afternoon gig, you’ll surely look fabulous and I guarantee you’ll wear the heels again, from glitzing up a little black dress or pairing it with a skirt or even dark jeans. Embrace the shine and maybe even hum a little Abba or Bee Gees in your head while you shop!

Q. I’ve got a beautiful yellow (more formal) dress with sequins and beading on it that I’m wearing to a gala. It’s short and I want a shoe that’s equally as beautiful and showy. I’m at a loss as to what color the shoe should be.  A white, strappy shoe? I would love to punch up the color with a bright red shoe. 
-Color Wanted 

3034-335413-DA. Yikes! Go with glam and choose a strappy metallic gold or champagne color. You’ve already got on yellow, so definitely skip considering red shoes, it will only distract from your fab dress.  Stick with a glamorous head to toe look.

Caparros Jalena Multi Metallic sandals, $62.95 at 

Q. I’m looking to add a splash of animal print to my winter wardrobe with calf-hair Steve Madden flats (Bunni). Can you wear open-toe wedge flats during the winter? Should you wear hose with them? I fell in love with the flats, but I don’t know how long I can wear them.
-Open-toe or no go

827-325340-DA. The best way to wear open toe shoes in the colder months is to wear them with hosiery - opaque hose or ribbed and textured tights. This look usually works best with peep toe styles like your Steve Maddens.  Try for a great variety of tights.

Steve Madden Bunni flats, $82.95 at 

Q. Hello! I saw you on “The View” providing fashion advice. You seem young and full of experience. I am mailing you in hopes that you can help my daughter and me.

My problem is that I am approaching 50 years old and I have to this day, NO FASHION SENSE. I feel badly because I have a daughter who is in high school and I so badly want her to be current on the latest fashions and look put together. I also want that for myself, but can’t seem to find anyone in the area that is willing to assist me with these concerns. Can you help me or at least help my daughter become fashion conscious?
-Seeking Style

A. There are so many ways to find and develop your style and have fun spending time with your daughter while doing it.

Picture 1-3 1-Start picking up the latest fashion magazines, the big Fall issues will be jam packed with all the latest trends for Fall. Our favorites are Lucky (realistic choices and price picks), Marie Claire (famous for their splurge vs. steal pages), InStyle and Elle. Sit down at your kitchen table over an afternoon snack or a “just girls” dinner and peruse the pages of the magazines. Tear out the pages with your favorite photos, whether it be the whole outfit, or even just one piece or accessory, and start building a style file. Ignore the prices of the garments when making your choices. This is just the start.

2-Reguarly visit sites like ours (of course), since we choose realistic options from websites, and check out others like and where you can watch fashion shows and see photos from the runway shows from all over world.

3-Spend a day or more walking through your local mall and just visiting shops you don’t normally walk into. You may discover a designer that peaks your interest. Take a look at the mannequins in the stores and see how the stores dress them in various designers.

Picture 2-54-Good department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Bloomingdales have personal shoppers. Don’t hesitate to meet with one, they’re free! In fact, go ahead and choose more than one store. When you meet with the personal shopper, explain your concerns, talk about your budget, your size and shape and your daily lifestyle, and add in any upcoming events. Ask her for an assessment and advice. She can direct you to specific designers that fit within your budget and fit for your and your daughter’s body shape and size. She can also take you around the store and make wardrobe suggestions. And when new items come into the store that she believes will be right for you or your daughter, she can contact you and sometimes hold the items until you can get to the store. This same advice can work with a small boutique in your town as well.

5-Other places to shop to help build a stylish wardrobe beyond the well known stores are web sites - I’m a fan of and Also try visiting good consignment stores and vintage shops where gently worn clothes are resold. I have snagged some great finds like Gucci sling backs and a Carolina Herrera bag at a deep discount at a consignment store just outside New York.

6-Start building a style by purchasing and wearing classic, simple cut pieces. Don’t purchase trendy items right away unless they’re inexpensive. Find a way to be stylish with a white button down shirt and dark denim jeans by wearing a printed scarf or beaded necklace and a bold belt. Pair it with peep toe wedges or knee high boots. Accessories can have a huge influence on a wardrobe of basic, but good quality pieces. A black sweater with a black pencil skirt can look stylish when worn belted with a patent leather belt and worn with patterned tights and suede pumps in a rich color like teal or burgundy.

7-Don’t be daunted. Fashion is meant to be fun! Dare to make some mistakes. Take an afternoon and go through each other’s closet. Keep what you love and give away those that you don’t, whether to a thrift store for Good Will or into the garbage. Make sure your closets are organized and that you can see what you actually own.

Picture 38-And look around to friends, family and even acquaintances to see whose style you admire. Ask them about which designers they prefer, where they shop and where they find the best deals. We adore the Back Room at Loehmanns and the Italian leather bags are great buys at TJ Maxx and Marshalls.

9-Try on all the clothes you buy and find a good tailor or seamstress to fit clothes to your body. Usually a good dry cleaner has a tailor on the premises. The simplest top or jacket can look flawless when it’s fit to your body. I see mine on a regular basis - I won’t settle for clothes that don’t fit right. It’s worth it to settle when you feel more confident in clothes that look good on your body.

10-If you feel you have some body flaws - a bit of tummy or thighs that don’t seem as firm as they were in your 20s - don’t hesitate to wear shapewear under your clothes. We love Spanx, Bali and Donna Karan pieces. Intimate shapewear can instantly smooth out lumps and bumps and nobody but you has to know.

NOW go have some fun, keep an open mind, laugh loud and often and think of this as a chance to bond with your daughter.

shown here, some looks from - a great resource for classic pieces with a modern spin that can be creatively combined to reflect your personal style

Q. I love the look of skinny jeans. How should I wear them—with what tops and shoes—so that I don’t look like I’m trying to be my teenage daughter? Or should I just skip this look entirely as I had already worn it in the ’80s?
-’80s Comeback

Gp380714-01P01V01A. I have been telling women for years to avoid tapered jeans. Unless you’re slender and have barely-there hips, you’ll only accentuate your hips, butt and thighs and will not look taller. That being said, there are ways to wear this season’s skinny jean in a flattering way. I bought skinny stretch cords and dark jeans for Fall to specifically wear with my mid-calf and knee-high boots. Skinny jeans allow you to slip on your boots over the pants without tucking in or folding. You suddenly look chic, not bunchy. Another way to wear the skinny jean is to pair it with a longer tunic style top or fitted short sheath (just covering your butt and hips) and wear a wide belt slung on the hips or at your waist.

For more jean tips, check out our latest Dream Jeans denim guide.

shown here, Gap Skinny Fit jeans, $58 at

Q. What are some good websites to find plus-sizes for a woman in her 40s?
-Plus Size Style

0454650782074 Astl 300X400A. Shopping for a curvy girl is a delight these days with so many chic options available. Check out sites like,,,,, and the plus size departments at and As for department stores, I’ve always liked the styles offered at and Salon Z at Many designers like Ellen Tracy, Dana Buchman, Lafayette 148, Eileen Fisher and Sigrid Olsen select various styles from each collection and offer them in plus sizes.

shown left, Lafayette 148 Tweed Jacket and Stretch Wool Pants from Salon Z at

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