| Ask The Style Chefs: April 2007 Archives

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April 2007 Archives

Q. My fiance and I are having a civil ceremony this June in Philadelphia before he goes back to Iraq, on the same day as my college graduation. I want to wear a short white dress, but have not been able to find one that doesn’t seem too beachy. I want it to be special, but I will also be having a larger ceremony next year, so it doesn’t need to be too elaborate. What sort of dress will work for the two most important events in my life?
-Dress Duty

A. It will be a BIG day-wedding, civil ceremony or not, it’s your wedding, the day you exchange vows and then your college graduation as well. So choose a dress you’ll adore. You want your soon to be husband to gush when he sees you. You want him to remember the day and you in a beautiful white dress until he returns home safely to you.

Shift embossed beach dressWhite Cotton Sleeveless Dresses by Jill StuartSwiss-dot Sylvan dressLilly Pulitzer
Billie Eyelet Dress

Shift embossed beach dress, $125 at; White Cotton Sleeveless Dresses by Jill Stuart, $398 at; Swiss-dot Sylvan dress, $148 at; Lilly Pulitzer Billie Eyelet Dress, $298 at

Q. My older sister is a new mom who is turning 35 next month around the same time her son is turning 1- she just moved into a new house and stopped working at the end of last year. She used to be a true fashionista but has since fallen off the wagon being a new mom. She needs a pick me up and I would like do to something fun for her for her birthday— any suggestions on some fun mom trends to give her a little pick me up?
-Gift seeker

A. Time to take your sister out without the baby so she can relax and just be herself. Take her out for a girl date, whether it’s lunch or afternoon tea, or a night out for dinner and a performance like dance , music or comedy - get the girl laughing! You can also suggest dinner at someone’s house with just women and no kids, boyfriends or husbands.

As for gifts, I suggest a department store gift card and you take her shopping to use it, and maybe even set up an appointment with a personal shopper - they don’t cost a thing at department stores and will make her feel pampered and special. If you want to give her something more tangible, then I suggest mom-friendly wedges or ballet flats in a pattern or patent leather, a big bag that doesn’t scream “Mom” or a pretty necklace.

Here’s a few picks:

Cayman braided espadrillesBoutique 58 MelodyLisette printed-fabric ballet flatsStraw Tote with Beading

Cayman braided espadrilles, $160 at; Boutique 58 Melody, $110 at; Lisette printed-fabric ballet flats, $118 at; Straw Tote with Beading, $128 at


Choose a necklace with a yoga symbol or one with a meaningful word that reminds her to breathe, believe or know what comes around goes around. These from Haley Mindes and Helen Ficalora are incredibly stylish and addictive. Beth (a fellow style chef and also a mom) and I live in ours.

Q. I’m about to graduate from college, and have been doing a lot of interviewing at New York City PR firms. I know you’re supposed to dress pretty conservatively for interviews, but wearing a suit to an office where most people are dressed fashion/casual seems a little silly to me. What can I wear that is both fashionable and appropriate for my interviews?
-Currently Unemployed

A. Before you head to the interview, do some research on each PR firm regarding their client list. If their clients are fashion, beauty, media, internet or alcohol related then you can skip the suit. If the firms cover medical, financial arenas or products that you don’t necessarily know much about, then go slightly conservative. I haven’t worn a full suit in years, I don’t even think I own a suit anymore. For most PR firm interviews, I would suggest wearing separates like a stylish top, jacket and flat front pants with heels or wedge. You can also consider a skirt and top and, if not revealing, a dress (meaning: it has sleeves and doesn’t show cleavage). If you choose a suit, then be sure it fits your body well, isn’t boxy, and wear a colorful top or shirt underneath the jacket.

Here are some suggested looks:

French-stripe peacoat sweaterSemantiks 'City' Denim Pantsgyptian-cotton printed Katie cardiganNanushka Pleated Skirt

Try a pretty cropped jacket or cardigan with a skirt or slim trousers.

French-stripe peacoat sweater, $180 at; Semantiks ‘City’ Denim Pants, $68 at; gyptian-cotton printed Katie cardigan, $95 at; Nanushka Pleated Skirt, $198 at

 5371330Necessary Objects™ Full SkirtRetro dot cashmere shellMichael Kors Crop Pants

This white cropped jacket can be paired with a full polka dot skirt or cropped pants and patterned underpinning for chic alternatives to a suit.

Semantiks Sateen Pintuck Jacket, $138 at; Necessary Objects Full Skirt, $44 at; Retro dot cashmere shell, $89.99 at; Michael Kors Crop Pants, $69.50 at

To The Max! Notch Collar JacketTo The Max! Pencil SkirtSilk/cotton pintuck blouseSilk dot-print blouse

If you do opt for a suit, be sure to wear a colorful feminine top underneath to keep the look young and fresh.

To The Max! Notch Collar Jacket, $138 at; To The Max! Pencil Skirt, $88 at; Silk/cotton pintuck blouse, $64 at; Silk dot-print blouse, $68 at

Q. You site is so helpful!!! I had a baby a few months ago and I am in my friend’s wedding next month. The bridesmaid dress is thin satin, and body skimming, and it is not forgiving to any body issues! My stomach is not big or fat, but not where I’d like it to be for this dress. I have that little pouch under my belly button and it is quite obvious in this style of a dress. I need help on an undergarment that will help me to feel confident in this dress. A bra cannot be worn with this dress, I think it is too low cut in the front for even a strapless bra. So I plan to have bra cups sewn in, and I need something for the stomach area, something that won’t show under the very thin fabric.
-Hide my Pouch

A. I empathize with your dilemma. Many brides choose dresses without trying them on themselves to see how it fits a body. Thin satin is not forgiving. You need an undergarment that rises above your belly and also avoids panty or stomach lines.

These work well to give complete all over coverage to flatten tummy and smooth all over. It should come high enough under the dress to avoid lines going across, but the dress length has to be longer:

 The Body Wrap: Firm Control Strapless Long Leg Body Briefer Spanx: Higher Power High Waisted Power Panty

left to right: The Body Wrap: Firm Control Strapless Long Leg Body Briefer, $78 at; Spanx: Higher Power High Waisted Power Panty, $34 at

 The Body Wrap: High Waist Control Thong

This may help avoid panty lines while still going over waist to flatten the tummy.

The Body Wrap: High Waist Control Thong, $34 at

 Spanx: All The Way Up High-Waist Pantyhose

If you intend to wear black sheer hosiery then this should work.

Spanx: All The Way Up High-Waist Pantyhose, $28 at

Q. I have a wedding to go to in 2 weeks and I bought 2 dresses. One is white with black roses on it with a big black band under the bust. It’s a halter style. While it’s not all white, people are telling me that I shouldn’t wear it. The other is black (strapless) with small white flowers on it, I prefer the white one but I don’t want to upset the bride in any way.
-Dress Confusion

A. Don’t let your friends swoop down and eat away at your confident style. The dress you’ve described clearly is not a white dress, so feel free to wear the white and black patterned dress and dance the night away.

Q. I have purchased a dress for my son’s wedding. I vowed I wouldn’t wear beige, because it washes me out. I basically did though. The color is called light cafe and is strapless. What color jewelry would you recommend?
-Beige Begone

A. Here’s a few questions to answer before I can help. Why did you succumb to a color that you clearly know washes you out? Are you trying to blend into the background rather than shine with the rest of the party? Were you shopping alone or did you have “help” from a friend? Can you return it? IF you fell in love with the dress and had to have it, then we have options. Realize that this is your son’s wedding, so you should adore the dress and feel confident in it all day. Look for jewels that have shine, sparkle or color. Dangly earrings with a bracelet and cocktail ring or stunning earrings with a necklace that hits around the collarbone are the best fits for a strapless. Gold tones with diamonds, real or faux, will give off shine. If you need color, then think amber and soft tones of pink, blue or green. Here are some suggestions:

50 Carat Green Garnet Briolette 14K Gold NecklaceAriella Collection Oversize Cushion Cut Ring301-E95-Y-1Mother of Pearl Necklace

left to right: 50 Carat Green Garnet Briolette 14K Gold Necklace, $250 at; Ariella Collection Oversize Cushion Cut Ring, $78 at; Yellow Sapphire Diamond Earrings, $182 at; Mother of Pearl Necklace, $190 at

Q. My friend and I are having a disagreement about tights. She loves wearing dark opaque tights with dresses and skirts and is insecure about showing bare legs. She wants to continue wearing them in the spring and summer. I say tights are too heavy when the temps hit 80. What do you say?
-Heat Squeeze

Laundry by Shelli Segal 'Rachel' Slim ShortsA. Ding, ding, ding-you are correct! While your friend may have seen some photos in a magazine that encouraged her to continue wearing tights all year, she should know that many of those magazine editors don’t follow the style they show in the pages. Tights in the summer heat are just too, too hot. And talk about the sweat and uncomfortable factor. Knee length skirts and shorts will surely be more comfortable and still cover most of her legs when it gets hot. For an office gig or special event, if she still feels uncomfortable, she can pull on sheer hosiery.

Laundry by Shelli Segal ‘Rachel’ Slim Shorts
$148 at

Q. I am getting married in November (Australia) so it will be coming into summer there. I have 3 bridesmaids and want them to look and feel beautiful on the day, but I am unsure what style dress I can get to suit all of them. Bridesmaid #1 is 5’2, medium-large bust, curvy, with a defined waist and a big bum. Bridesmaid #2 is 5’2, small busted, slim athletic build with a bit of a bum. And my 3rd bridesmaid is average height (5’ 7), large busted, defined waist and a big bum. They all have nice shapely calves and I was wondering if a tea length dress would suit them, or would it cut them off? Am I better off with a full-length dress for them? I am in a full-length gown, which is quite formal and elegant. Will tea length dresses clash with me?
-Bridesmaid Dress Dilemma

A. I hope to help you and other brides-to-be with dress shopping, as well as help the girls you choose to be in your bridal party.  I can’t make this clear enough to brides-to-be: your bridesmaids don’t have to wear the same exact dress to look good on your wedding day. Choosing the same color, fabric and length with just slight variations in the dress style can be the right combination to make everyone happy and allow them to look their best.

For busty girls,  look for halter styles or wider straps to hold up and cover a bra better. For “big bum” girls, look for the skirt portion of the dress to be an A-line cut which will help define the waist and hide the bum and thighs. Cocktail or tea length gives girls the best chance of possibly wearing the dress again and makes it easier to hit the dance floor.

Other tips:

• Please, no shades of color (each girl wearing a different color dress-I’ve never seen it work).

• If you choose a black cocktail length dress that is simple and chic, your bridesmaids will have a better chance of wearing it again rather than tossing it in the “I can’t believe she made me wear this” donation pile.

• Choose a dress style that works best for most body shapes. Don’t make a curvy girl wear a column style. A-line dress styles are most flattering. Empire dresses are sweet on slender or proportioned girls, but can make petite girls look too young and other girls look pregnant.

• No dyeable shoes. Consider giving a shoe color choice to your bridesmaids and let them buy their own. Some girls can’t wear a really high heel while others wouldn’t attend a party without them. They may already have that color in their wardrobe and it will lessen the burden on their bank account.

• You can make suggestions of jewelry, but unless you’re giving the girls a gift of jewelry to wear with their dresses, don’t expect them to buy accessories as well. If you do give your bridesmaids gifts, please try to mix it up by choosing various colors or slightly different gifts so they all don’t feel or look like clones.

• Don’t make your bridesmaids spend a fortune on the dress. Every girl doesn’t have a bundle to pay for a dress, heels, gifts galore, bridal shower, bachelorette party and perhaps travel costs. Be kind to their cash flow.

• Don’t ask every girl you think is your good friend to be a bridesmaid.  Many hope to just come to your wedding and have a good time in their own dress choice without additional responsibilities.

Q. I am 21 years old and have been often told that I look like I’m 15! I want to look my age and dress up a bit with heels but I always end up wearing t-shirts, jeans and sneakers because I can never put together a girly, comfortable outfit. How can I achieve a look to show off the older girly side of me while being comfortable at the same time?
-21 going on 15

A. When you get to be in your thirties, you’ll be thankful that you look younger, so take care of your skin to prolong the 6-years-younger look.  I can’t make this suggestion stronger: make sure there is sunscreen in your daily moisturizer.

On to clothes…you seem to know what is appropriate for your age, but you keep grabbing what feels safe. Dark jeans are stylish for every age, but add a strappy heel or patent wedge with a cute top for a Saturday night out. For day, make gradual changes by wearing a skirt and a dress at least once a week.  They can be casual, flirty pieces, but guaranteed you’ll feel more like a girl then a young tomboy.  As for sneakers, each time you go to tie them on, make a switch and slip on a cute flat instead.  And be sure you sport colorful or stylish “trainers” with your jeans rather than your sneakers meant for running or to the gym. Stylish New Yorkers would be lost without two pairs of run-around fun sneakers in our closet that are just meant for pairing with weekend wear.

Start with causal dresses or skirts that you can wear with sandals or espadrilles and you’ll be well on your way to dressing your age:

Lacoste Colortip Crossback DressFree People Diagonal Floral Print DressRuby Rox Ruched Poplin Tube Dress

Necessary Objects™ Seersucker SkirtKira Skirt  $34.50 Lux Knit Deep V Tie Back Dress

dresses and skirts, left to right: Lacoste Colortip Crossback Dress, $145 at; Free People Diagonal Floral Print Dress, $128 at; Ruby Rox Ruched Poplin Tube Dress, $48 at; Necessary Objects Seersucker Skirt, $48 at; Kira Skirt,  $34.50 at; Lux Knit Deep V Tie Back Dress, $29.99 at at

Candy Sandal  $36 Miss Sixty Strappy Ankle Wrap SandalBP. 'Congo' SandalLibby Flat  $36

shoes, left to right: Candy Sandal, $36 at;  Miss Sixty Strappy Ankle Wrap Sandal, $85 at  at; BP. ‘Congo’ Sandal, $59.95 at;  Libby Flat, $36 at

Q. My girlfriend and I are having a debate about these Spring work horses. I maintain that they have been in the forefront of style for so long, they are going out, out, out, with the Bermuda or walking short replacing them.  She debates with the truth that stores are still selling them.  I am also very tired of them and I think they are not attractive on all of us.
-Looking for an Out

A. I am not a big fan of the Capris either, but alas stores are still selling loads of them.  I find it a personal preference for most people.  It should come down to fit and length depending on your shape and height.  If one wishes for something lighter to wear then go for the walking short or Bermuda short.

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