| Ask The Style Chefs: November 2006 Archives

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November 2006 Archives

Little Black Dress

Q. I have a good friend’s wedding to go to in March, and I’ve decided to use this as an opportunity to invest in a perfect little black dress. I’d like some ideas for dresses that are under $250 (I know I said “invest,” but I’m a girl on a budget!)  I’m interested in a dress that is classic and stylish and will be wearable for years to come to all sorts of events. I am also looking for a dress that will be flattering and slimming, as I’ve recently put on a little weight and am self-conscious of it (I’m 5’9“ and about a size 6-8). I’d really appreciate your help! You always seem to know the perfect thing to wear.
-LBD Classic

A. I recently shot a little black dress story and fell for many styles.  Here’s a few that fit your budget and will still be stylish five years from now.

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left to right, all available at Maggy London Beaded Matte Jersey Halter Dress ($138), Anne Klein Dress V-Neck Chiffon Dress ($192), Bianca Nero Bead Chiffon Dress ($272), Velvet Torch Shantung Tube Dress ($62). Also, check out for a huge variety of little black dresses.

Q. I’m so glad your website turned up in my Google search! I took your advice (archive) over the weekend for Date #2 to a football game. Date #3 is dinner at my date’s house. He is cooking and I’ll be bringing the wine and myself. This is a great opportunity to see what he is like - his style, his apartment, etc. It’s time for me to show him my casual, cute, funky side.  What should I wear? I am 31 and I like to dress classically with something funky mixed in - like jewelry or fun shoes. I usually can pick out outfits but with this date, I am nervous and can’t think straight!
-Great Date

A. Since it‘s about being cute and casual, go for items in your wardrobe that you can get comfortable in.  For example, clothes that you can be cozy on the couch while you’re spending hours talking and enjoying wine.  Wear dark jeans and a great camisole and wrap sweater or a great v-neck fitted cashmere sweater with velvet pants and ballet flats.  Perhaps the flats are patent leather or animal print. And don’t wear too many layers since you don’t want to get overheated and give the wrong impression if you need to take something off. And since your signature seems to be the jewelry, wear one of your favorite necklaces or pair of earrings, but nothing too chunky or oversized.  Keep your look pretty and feminine. And bring along a great bottle of wine and perhaps a mini pie or fresh baked cookies for dessert.

Q. Can I wear white panty hose or stockings in winter?
-Winter White

A. We’re not fans of white hosiery any time of the year unless you’re under the age of 11. White is rarely flattering on anyone and can often make legs look larger than they are.  There are so many options of sheer colors, “invisible” sheers and fun opaque tights available, so try to find an alternative to white. 

Earrings In or Out

Q. I know that chandelier earrings are out, but what should I be wearing for a fun going-out earring now? And are large necklaces still in? I have a few that are the big chain style from last season. Can I still wear them? What earrings do I pair with them? 
- Ear Wear

A. Yes, go ahead and wear your chain style necklace, I still wear mine.  Just go simple on the earrings, like little drop earrings in gold or silver or a thin hoop. As for your chandelier earrings, keep them since fashion is cyclical and everything always comes back in style. If you want more “pop” on your ears, check these out:

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left to right: Julie Sandlau Amethyst Cluster Oblong Hoop Earrings ($194) at, Calico Juno Bohemian Earring #7 ($84.99) at, Kipepeo Jewelry Frangipani Earrings ($64) at

Q. My boyfriend is about to be back from Iraq and we have a very special vacation planned.  I want to wear a cute little black cocktail dress, but I don’t know if I should wear hose, and if so, what color to wear.  I am extremely pale  and our vacation will be in December.  I don’t want to look like a fashion disaster! 
-Pale Writer 

A. Assuming you are going somewhere warm, skip the hose and be sure to wear some knockout intimates under your dress.  If you’re pale, consider a spray on tan.  I’m a big fan of Model Co. transparent spray on tan.  Just be sure to continually wash your hands and be light on the ankles, feet and elbows to avoid staining.  Or start applying a gradual skin glowing lotion now like the “tanning” or body shimmer lotions from Jergens.

P96122 Hero       200-21

ModelCo Tan Airbrush In A Can, $7 and up at

Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer, $5.99 at

Q. I am getting married in six months and I have picked out a nice dress that my bridesmaids will be able to get plenty of wear out of. The problem is, one of my girls likes it so much she wants to go ahead and wear it to an event next month. I will not be able to attend, but she, her husband, and my fiance will be going. Is it tacky for me to ask her not to wear the dress until after she has worn it in my wedding? I picked this dress specifically because I thought it was classy and could be worn again, but not before the wedding! Am I being ridiculous?
-To Wait or Not To Wait

A. Call your girlfriend and request that she hold off on wearing the dress until your wedding day.  Not only does it seem to pull away some of the initial glory from your special day, but what if the unforeseen mishap occurs like spilled wine, food stains or a ripped seam? Tell her that, while you understand the expense involved in buying the dress and your purpose was to make sure that the dress has an afterlife, you’d like it to occur after the wedding and to please respect your wishes.

Q. I love the advice you give and hope you’re able to answer my question. I have a couple of cute, retro style high heel peep toe shoes that I got this summer. I would love to be able to continue wearing into fall. I know generally speaking, hosiery with open toe shoes are a no-no. But I’m in my 20’s and think I might be able to get away with wearing peep toe heels with cute stocking. What’s your take on stockings with peep toe shoes? 
-A Toe Show 

A. My take is simple—this year it seems everyone will embrace a fun attitude with hosiery and tights. Wear your peep toes with opaque tights or even sheers, just be sure the sheers are sheer to toe and not sandalfoot.

Q. I am attending a non-traditional wedding (no suggested attire, but the bride is wearing a cocktail dress). I have a vintage silk sheer dress that is a bit of a tartan pattern with a metallic gold thread running through. It is just below the knee. It would look great with gold shoes … but the hose? It will be very chilly up here mid-December. I will likely wear a dark (burgundy or black) full slip under the dress (it is totally sheer), but I am stuck on what to wear on my legs. Bare legs are not an option!
-Bare Not

19283 Hsrphtssw02 H040306MA. Hanes has an invisible sheer to toe hosiery that truly made me a believer when I had a model wear them with strappy sandals on a cold evening shoot in Times Square.

Hanes: Silk Reflections Transparent Sheer To Waist Pantyhose
$8.95 at

Q. Living in New York, I am surrounded by stylish women. I’d like to adopt some of the popular styles, such as jeans tucked into boots and pencil skirts with heels, but I have a, shall we say, ample lower half and I’m not sure I can pull it off. Can pear-shaped girls wear those styles? Any advice on how to make it work?
-Curvy in NYC 

100506 Ashlee 200X400A. There are ways to make those trends look good on a curvy shape. If you’d like to sport jeans tucked into boots, look for a pair of jeans that are slimmer cut towards the ankle. BUT here’s the deal—these jeans are specifically to be worn with boots and a knit top or sweater that covers the hips or gathers around the hips.  Or wear a longer style button down that isn’t boxy in cut and wear it untucked and add a fitted vest.  You want to balance the top half with your bottom half without drawing too much attention to your curvy hips and thighs.  Ashlee Simpson’s look shown here would look great on a curvier girl.

As for the pencil skirt, there are styles that are cut straight rather than fitted.  While a-line skirts are truly best for just about everyone’s shape, particularly curvy girls, if you wish to try out the pencil skirt trend, look for fabrics that hug, slim and smooth your figure.  And don’t hesitate to add a little help underneath!  We’re big fans of Donna Karan’s Body Perfect shapewear pieces and Spanx undergarments since they are thin, comfortable and slim and smooth out all those imperfections.

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Both of these pencil skirt options from offer a figure flattering silhouette with added control properties that smooth and slim your shape. left to right: Fit & flare skirt (also available in plus sizes), $39 and Control pencil skirt, $39

Ashlee Simpson photo via InStyle

Q. You always have wonderful advice.  I am attending a wedding in MI.  I am planning to wear a black satin dress with a black lace overlay.  The dress is knee length and has cap sleeves.  I can always do black hose and black shoes but I like to be a little more fun.  What do you think about red or an animal print?  And what kind of hose or bare legs?   Could I do silver?  I am not as young and thin as I used to be, I am also fair skinned.  I just did not know if bare legs would still be ok for me.
- Seeking Fun and Festive

A. I always opt for bare legs when I can get away with it.  Why not moisturize your legs with a lotion that has a bit of shimmer or glow to add a bit of color to a pale leg?  If you feel more comfortable with hosiery, then wear black sheer hosiery.   There are some new styles with a black back seam that are better than your average sheer hosiery, or choose a subtle black pattern on sheer.

As for shoes, you seem to have the right idea—skip animal print with the lace—a bit much.  Look for black patent (a huge trend this season and so festive and fun), or metallic in either silver or gold.  You may also find a black heel in velvet or satin that has lace or crystal embellishments.

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left to right: Michael Kors Leg Shine, $32 at; Steven by Steve Madden ‘Giddie’ Pump, $98.95 at; Velvet Bow Pump, $34 at

(for more party shoes, check out our new Holiday Hot List style recipe)

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