| Ask The Style Chefs: September 2006 Archives

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September 2006 Archives

Q. I like the idea of wearing tall boots with short skirts so my legs don’t freeze!  However, I think it looks best when the calf of the boot is slim and hugs your lower leg.  All of the boots I have tried on are too big for my calves (and I do not have slim calves.) Are the boots supposed to be loose around your leg?
-Leg Space 

A. It all depends on the style.  Generally, most boots are meant to hug your calves, unless they are a slouchy style. It also depends on whether you’ll be tucking in jeans, in which case you might need a little extra room. I, too, have had endless problems finding boots that fit my calves - there always seems to be a gaping space.  The best solutions I’ve found have been in suede styles that you pull on rather than zip up.  I found gorgeous styles from Stuart Weitzman (pricey) and I found a great leather style that cinches just above the calf from Cole Haan.  And the only boots that I’ve found in the last year that almost hug my calves are from Sacco - they usually make the same styles each year with a different heel height.


Stuart Weitzman ‘Bootpoint’ Boot
$475 at 


Cole Haan Collection ‘Gali Air Short’ Boot
$385 at 


Sacco ‘Masha’ Boot 
$325 at

What about you? Let us know if you’ve found boots that fit small calves…

On400615-00P01V01Q. I recently picked up a cute denim vest at old navy, since it was 50% off, I was wondering if I missed the trend and now I would look silly wearing it. I know to stay away from a denim jean/denim vest combo (BAD!!) but I thought with a cute pair of tan corduroys and a white shirt, it might look stylish. What do you think?   

-Not a Cowgirl 

A. I bought a denim vest from Old Navy as well - the fitted pointed bottom version (shown right, still available as of today for $12.99 at 

Your cords will be fine with your vest.  But also try it with tweed or herringbone pants or a skirt plus the button down shirt and add one oversized piece of jewelry like a chunky beaded necklace or a big cuff bracelet. Also try a colorful blouse or a short puffed sleeve top.   Here are some suggested looks to consider with a vest, denim or otherwise:

0416356011292 Astl 300X400


P11150450 Ph Hero

Q. My best friend is getting married in January in Florida by the bay. The bridesmaids have long strapless taupe tissue taffeta strapless gowns with a wide black sash that accents the natural waistline and ties in the back forming a long trail. And it has a bit of fullness to it. We are so confused as to what type of shoe to wear. Should we go black and strappy to match the sash? We are stumped about what shoes are appropriate for the style dress and time of year and colors. Please help! 
-Shoe Stumped

A. The simple choice is a strappy black heel that you can all wear again and perhaps you can each choose your own style.  You can narrow your choices by deciding together on a heel height and whether you want to wear open toe or closed toe. When it comes to weddings, it doesn’t seem to matter the time of year or city since it’s all about dressing up and looking great.  And with the wedding indoors, it doesn’t matter if your toes show. 

Another option is to choose a soft taupe or gold heel with perhaps a little rhinestone detail. Since black is easy, I’ve given a few suggestions if you opt to wear a little color:


Nina ‘Flo’ Pump
$78.95 at


Calvin Klein ‘Milan’ Sandal
$129.95 at

Q. I have always wondered and had a problem when looking for blouses in Plus size stores - instead of having mostly vertical stripes or stripes that are diagonal and meet in the middle to minimize a large bust, they all mostly have loads of horizontal stripes! I am surprised that designers for these stores seem oblivious to this. A few of the horizontal stripes may look okay under a nice fitting blazer or sweater but not alone. Where are all the vertical and diagonal stripes?
-Stress for right stripes 

A. Yes, I wonder as well why plus size collections inevitably include horizontal stripes.  But there are some designers that get it. Lane Bryant is one of those companies that always offers a wide selection of contemporary looks and plenty of vertical, diagonal and chevron stripe styles.  I’ve picked out looks from several brands that I hope will help minimize and add style to your wardrobe.


striped kimono-style tunic,
$44.50 at


mitered-stripe shirt,
$44.50 at

562873 Hi

grey lurex stripe twist
front 3/4 sleeve tunic,
$42 at

Q. This is my daughter’s first homecoming and I have a few questions for you:

1. What type/color shoe should she wear.  Her dress is lime green with sequins of blue green and a deep pink color all over it.   Any suggestions?

2. Her date is 6’ 1“ so should she keep the shoes higher?

3. As for her date, would black be just about the only color of suit/tux he could go with and would it be perfectly acceptable for him to wear a matching lime green tie?  Also, what color shirt can he go with that would be different, considering he is wearing a lime green tie. I am new at this and want it to be extra special for them.

-Helpful Mom


A. What a helpful Mom you are!  Here are my suggestions:

1. Her shoes can be a metallic blue or green, or a great pink to match the sequins, since finding lime green will be just about impossible and would be overkill with the color of the dress. If you can’t find one of those colors, then consider a gold metallic stappy heel.

2.  She should wear high heels to be closer in height to her date, but not so high that she’s sacrificing comfort and teetering so high she may fall.

3.  A black suit/tux is always classic - and let’s skip wearing a lime green tie since it is probably not his cup of tea.  He can wear a great colored tie that matches one of the sequin colors, like blue. Or traditional black tie always works and it is not necessary that his tie match her colors.

Q. I love layering my clothing, but sometimes it makes me look FAT. Any suggestions on light layering and layering for the fall?
-Desperately seeking slim 

A. This Fall is all about layering. To pull it off without adding thickness, stay away from bulky knits and multi textured fabrics. Be aware of your proportions and be sure to strike a balance. If you wear a shirt, vest and fitted jacket on top, then keep it slim on your bottom half by wearing a pencil skirt and platform pumps or slim pants and knee high boots.  Consider wearing waist cinching belts over your cozy cardigan and tank combo or keeping the layers minimal like a thin turtleneck under a dress with leggings.  If you believe you look bulky or big once you create your layered look, then you’ll certainly feel self-conscious all day.  Don’t sacrifice self-esteem just to layer your look.  And don’t forget, you may still have to fit a jacket or coat over your layers.

Below left, an example of layering without the bulk from the Max Azria fall runway
Below right, some unrealistic layering from the Marc Jacobs runway

(Photos: Marcio Madeira via

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Q. I am a hostess for my friends’ wedding and we were asked to wear an ivory/winter white suit.  I am not a shoe connoisseur and I have been pulling my hair out trying to find a pair of comfortable yet stylish closed toe, low heel shoe for the occasion - but it seems as though those are not popular colors.  I have been to numerous stores and even checked many websites but have had no success.  Is it appropriate to wear a black shoe and if so, what kind (patent leather, soft leather, etc…)?  
-Confused and frustrated   

A. I knew I could help you find choices beyond black to wear with your light colored suit.  The point is to keep the look soft and sophisticated.  Black can sometimes seem harsh. Look for ivory, taupe or beige, or other soft colors like caramel, tan or a pale gold or bronze metallic pump.  I’ve found a few picks that suit your needs (the right color, low heel and closed toe) that won’t break the bank.


Stuart Weitzman Hampton
$218 at


Fitzwell Sandy
$59.95 at


Gabriella Rocha 1437 Vivian
$64.95 at

Bridal fashion sizing

Q. I am going to be a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding this fall. She is letting us choose the style of the dress but she chose the color.  Cool, I thought.  The problem is that my size is not my size. Ok, I wear a 6 or 8 in all my pants, jeans, suits and dresses whether it’s Joe’s Jeans, Moschino, Gap, BCBG, or Cynthia Vincent, etc.  BUT the dress people at David’s Bridal told me my size is a 14! I’m flipping out.  I could never fit into a 14. I’m 137 pounds. So tell me, what is with these gown companies? 
-Schizophrenic Sizing 

A. Ouch! You’re not the first to have that “sticker shock” when reading the size label on the dresses or have the bridal salesperson looking at your body and suddenly claim a size horrifically larger than you’ve ever seen grace your curves. It seems cruel. BUT, don’t get hung up on the size of your dress.  Do you think you’re going to get a shake down at the wedding and someone’s going to scream out the size on the label? Most bridal designers offer their dresses in larger sizes with the assumption that the dresses for both bride and bridesmaid will be tailored to specifically fit her body shape, whether it be to hold and support larger breasts and a slim waist or fit a girl with a small bust, but with curvy hips and thighs.  So stop flipping out and know that you won’t get the pat down and be forced to divulge the size to your friends and, perhaps, beau.

Gloves for black tie?

Q. Do you wear short gloves to an afternoon black tie affair? 

Picture 3-2A. Wearing short gloves all depends on the dress you’re wearing.  Black tie is black tie no matter if it’s afternoon or evening. While many women don’t even think of wearing gloves, it can be seen as a sophisticated and elegant look.  It works best with dresses that are sleeveless to 3/4 length sleeves since it’s best to see where the gloves end and a peek of some skin.

satin gloves, shown left, $40 at

Hello Alison! I was just wondering when it is officially ok to wear velvet. It is now after Labor Day, but it is also about 78 degrees. Would it be ok to wear velvet now? Or would I just look silly if I did? 
-Confused in Indy

A. It’s a bit too early to slide on that soft, slightly shiny, luxe fabric.  Hold off until the temperatures drop in October, then wear it through February with abandon.

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