| Ask The Style Chefs: March 2007 Archives

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March 2007 Archives

Q. Similar to a few other writers, I have a formal wedding in DC in early May. I have a black cotton dress for the rehearsal dinner but it’s sleeveless and I would like something to wear over my shoulders.  I am not really the Pashmina type (they always look funny on me) or fashionably-brave enough to wear a capelet throughout the evening.  Any simple or elegant alternatives?
-No Pashminas Please 

A. Scrap the Pashmina and choose something fresher and more contemporary. Look for a fitted, cropped jacket in knit, cotton or eyelet style.  Or cute cardigan in a pattern will work as well.  Think of your cover up as a piece that works on it own with other pieces in your wardrobe and adds chic style with your little black dress.

For ideas, check out A Fresh Crop, our brand new style recipe featuring the hot new cropped jacket trend.

Q. I am attending a black tie wedding (4 pm, followed by evening reception) in London, England, in May.  I  bought a navy chiffon cocktail-length dress, but I am told that my head has to be covered for the ceremony.  I know that women wear hats to English weddings, but I thought that was for daytime ceremonies. What should I do with black tie?
- Indiana to London

A. OOOH, have some fun with wearing a hat and enjoy a proper English wedding. I adore the idea and you can have fun with the extra accessories. Channel your inner Diana, Fergie and Queen and set your sights on something that adds a bit of sophisticated prim to your look.  And be sure to stash a thin comb and a travel hairspray for hair touch ups once you’ve removed your chapeau for the reception.

Helen Kaminski Kaylee HatNordstrom Ribbon Trim Straw HatLouise Green Lace Hat

left to right: Helen Kaminski Kaylee Hat, $85 at (TIP: Try tying a navy satin ribbon around the hat to dress it up a bit); Nordstrom Ribbon Trim Straw Hat, $58 at; Louise Green Lace Hat, $225 at

Q. As I love fashion magazines, I have a huge stack of magazine clippings from over the years. All my attempts to organize all this have been unsuccessful.  Of course I have categories: want to buy, inspirations, information in fashion, entertaining, travel and home decor; however, I just don’t know the best way to catalog it and what I should save or trash in order to keep the stack under control.
-Stashing It 

A. Just like your wardrobe, you have to learn to consistently weed through and clean out seasonally. We girls at are constantly reorganizing our files, tear sheets and favorite pics. I live in a New York City apartment where space is tight, so I’ve got to be organized just to fit all my dresses in my closets and keep paperwork accessible. I loathe clutter so I built a nine drawer wooden filing cabinet just to help keep items in order. Another girlfriend who works in fashion has a tall white bookcase with magazine boxes organized by titles and months. Every two years she starts fresh. 

For inspirations and your buying cravings, you should put up a vision board so those items will always be fresh and in view. It’s also a great place to put up tear sheets from magazines and newspapers about restaurants you want to try or fun activities. You’ll likely change those items every month. You can have a share board custom made at I have a simple one with a white wooden frame and white fabric that fits perfectly on a wall in my foyer.  I tack up photos of dresses I adore, travel info, restaurants I’m planning to visit - and it’s a great place to also pin up airline e-tickets, small items like a local handyman’s number or the phone number of the deli that delivers.

Once you’ve figured out the most time sensitive items, then move onto organizing the rest, whether it be in a filing cabinet with hanging folders, a desktop file box or a magazine box filled with attractive folders.  Remember to label your folders so you can find items quickly.  For example, I organize my favorite home design tear sheets by wall colors I love, decorating ideas, artwork, and even by room (bedrooms, living rooms). As for travel, I’ve organized two ways and they both seem to work: I have simple folders from A-Z and on the front of each lettered folder I list the cities, countries, etc. that fit into the letter, or I simply organize by US, Europe, Caribbean and other locations.

One of my favorite sites for office gear is, it’s filled with items that are colorful and give work a look of whimsy.

Cargo™ Office Box Set
Spice RedBrother Ptouch PT-1950 USB-Ready LabelerDesktop FileMatrix Letter-Size Interior File Folders

Library Project CaseTranslucent Magazine FilesBristol Bay Three-Drawer Letter/Legal File CabinetM.O. Expanding Desktop File

left to right: Cargo Office Box Set Spice Red, $58.96 at; Brother Ptouch PT-1950 USB-Ready Labeler, $69.99 at; Desktop File, $30 at; Matrix Letter-Size Interior File Folders, $5.49 at; Library Project Case, $16.99 at; Translucent Magazine Files, $7.99 at; Bristol Bay Three-Drawer Letter/Legal File Cabinet, $229 at; M.O. Expanding Desktop File, $19.95 at

Q. I will be traveling in Paris the month of April.  Is it appropriate to wear a black velvet jacket dressed down with jeans in April?  Also, is it too early to wear linen or white jeans?
-Packing Panic 

A. Skip the black velvet in April, it’s past the cold weather time frame for for this plush fabric.  White jeans work all year long, pair them with a black sweater for a crisp look or a bright colored lightweight cashmere sweater or even a striped long sleeve top.  And it’s too early for linen, wait for 80 degree days instead.

Q. I’m going on a camping trip this summer for 5 days. It won’t be too intense- just some light hiking that could be done in tennis shoes. How I can I look cute and chic, but manage to stay cool in the heat?
-Hot & Sticky

A. When it comes to camping you want to be cool and comfortable. Dresses and skirts won’t do, you’ll worry about getting them dirty, especially when you’re active.  You need cute shorts and tops, 1-2 pairs of cotton pants to cover your legs at night when the bugs come out and a hoodie for the same reason, socks that cover your ankles when hiking, tees and tanks you can change quickly if you get sweaty and a swimsuit if you’ll be near a body of water.

Belted Sateen Shorts Ben Sherman 'Mimi' Polo ShirtWaffle-Knit Hoodies

rench Connection 'Madame Butterfly' Sleeveless Top 5366337Roll-Up Cargo Capris

left to right: Belted Sateen Shorts , $26.50 at; Ben Sherman ‘Mimi’ Polo Shirt, $54 at; Waffle-Knit Hoodies,; French Connection ‘Madame Butterfly’ Sleeveless Top, $88 at; Free People ‘Benjis’ Big Pocket Shorts, $68 at; Roll-Up Cargo Capri

Black DressQ. I am trying to get lots of use out of a great little black dress I recently purchased. My first question is about the material - it is a "blister wool" dress. Can I wear this is in spring and summer or only winter? Second, I did not buy the jacket/blazer that goes with the dress but I do need something to cover up with. Would a simple white cashmere cardigan work or do you have any other suggestions? Finally, one of the ways I would like to wear this dress is with fantastic red shoes. I just purchased a pair of the new Stuart Weitzman "Linda" red shoes. I’m trying to decide whether to keep the shoes or not. Would these red patent leather shoes overpower the dress? Most importantly, if I did wear these red shoes, do I have to also wear red accessories (necklace, earrings) or could I wear pearls or a sparkly clear necklace? Do accessories usually need to match the shoes or relate to the shoes in some way if the shoes are a standout color like red? And could I wear the white cardigan or should I go for a nice black cashmere cardigan or something else to keep warm? Thanks for any advice!!
-Little Black Dress Lover

A. You’ve got several more months’ wear with this dress, particularly since it’s a shift tank style. You’re thinking like a true style gal by adding spunky red patent peep toes (keep the shoes) and with your willingness to pair a variety of separates with the dress to stretch your options. Think sophisticated one day and workwear the next.  I’ve picked out several options that will go from work to parties to nights out with girlfriends or guys. As for jewelry, don’t be stuck wearing matching red accessories. Wear gold for simplicity or bigger gold (as in a chunky chain or cuff) for evenings out, pearls for your inner Audrey Hepburn or a patterned silk scarf for Parisian flair.

Frenchi Cap Sleeve Crop BoleroCynthia Rowley Leather Obi BeltAnother Line Animal Print Stretch Belt

Polka-dot merino cardiganStuart Weitzman
LindaCharles Gray Mini Portrait Jacket

left to right: Frenchi Cap Sleeve Crop Bolero, $28 at; Cynthia Rowley Leather Obi Belt, $78 at; Another Line Animal Print Stretch Belt, $48 at; Polka-dot merino cardigan, $95 at; Stuart Weitzman Linda, $245 at; Charles Gray Mini Portrait Jacket, $258 at

Q. I was wondering if you had any suggestions for a birthday gift for my boyfriend of a month. He is eighteen and I want to get him something that he’ll really appreciate but nothing too over the top. 

A. A month is such a short time to consider anything over the top and you are still a teenager, so money is probably tight.  How about dinner at a place that he’ll enjoy and an activity like bowling or billiards and darts?  Remember, most guys don’t want to feel stiff in a fancy restaurant when they’d rather wear their jeans. Or, if you have a little extra cash, then get him the Ipod shuffle for $79 and skip the activity and order in pizza, his favorite DVDs (those action flicks) and bake him a cake.

Q. I love going to clubs and parties because I enjoy dancing. I carry the bare minimum (leave the cell phone in the car) because I like to club uncluttered so that I can dance up a storm. However, I do want to take my car keys, cash and credit card and not all my outfits have pockets. Strap purses often slide off my shoulder when the dancing gets fun and up tempo. Are there any small purses that can be attached to a belt or dangle safely from my wrist? Please suggest some hands free purse styles.
-Dancing Queen

A. It’s definitely a girl dilemma and annoyance to want to dance freely, but have to handle a small bag. It’s bad enough we have to deal with crowds and sweaty guys sidling up to us, and have to worry about losing our bags if left in a pile.  You need a tiny bag that you can hang on your wrist or attach elsewhere, but still look stylish. I’ve found a few items that will help you hit the dance floor without a worry.

Julie K Lula BagMoe Bags Tiffany in Pale Gold Rouged SilkMarc Jacobs Quilted WristletMadiedeluxe-Goodies-3-16-07-3

Coach Hamptons Pebbled SwingpackAvery Griffin Croc Belt BagMichael Kors Pouch BeltCloe's Clutch in Black

left to right: Julie K Lula Bag, $165 at; Moe Bags Tiffany in Pale Gold Rouged Silk, $187 at; Marc Jacobs Quilted Wristlet, $350 at; Madie Deluxe Ring Wristlet, $28 at; Coach Hamptons Pebbled Swingpack, $138 at; Avery Griffin Croc Belt Bag, $187 at; Michael Kors Pouch Belt, $85 at; Cloe’s Clutch in Black, $23 at

Q. I am getting married in June of this year and I have no idea  what color dress to wear to the rehearsal dinner.  Should I wear white since I’m the bride or should I match my dress to the colors of the wedding and bridesmaid dresses?  Is there any color you are not supposed to wear?? 
-Bride to be Best Dressed 

A. Don’t fret over matching your dress colors to the colors chosen for the tablecloths and flowers. And skip the idea that you need to wear white two days in a row, unless you find a darling white eyelet dress that you will adore wearing throughout the summer, since I would expect you to wear the rehearsal dress many times in the future. Shop for a spring dress that you adore, fits your body well and don’t worry if it’s a bit dressy, since you are the bride.  Here are a few suggestions, that I would wear myself:

Catherine Malandrino
Square Neck Dress with Tulip SkirtBeth Bowley Eyelet DressDallin Chase
Silk Lurex Joe DressCoral Eyelet Strapless Dresses from Tibi

Donna Morgan Empire Waist SundressEliza J Dot Jersey Dressj crew Solid Felice garden dressCalvin Klein Cowl Neck Knit Dress

left to right: Catherine Malandrino Square Neck Dress with Tulip Skirt, $425 at; Beth Bowley Eyelet Dress, $220 at; Dallin Chase Silk Lurex Joe Dress, $320 at; Coral Eyelet Strapless Dresses from Tibi, $378 at; Donna Morgan Empire Waist Sundress, $98 at; Eliza J Dot Jersey Dress, $98 at; Solid Felice garden dress, $125 at; Calvin Klein Cowl Neck Knit Dress, $138 at

Q. I am going to Nashville for a wedding in mid-May.  Can I wear a white skirt to the rehearsal dinner even though it is before Memorial Day? 
-White Wonder

A. It will all depend on the temperature in Nashville at that time and the material of the skirt. No linen, and no too-thin cotton. If it’s warm and the rest of your outfit isn’t too “light” then you can probably pull it off.

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