| Ask The Style Chefs: July 2007 Archives

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July 2007 Archives

Q. I am seeing a lot of patent shoes for the Fall. I always thought patent shoes were only for Spring and Summer. What’s the best way to wear them? And, can I wear my red patent peep toes into September?
-Patent Potential

A. Patent leather shoes, accessories and even clothing with patent embellishments are a huge trend that continues into Fall. It escaped the “only wear” in Spring and Summer several years ago and now there are countless stylish options to wear all year long. So wear your peep toes this Fall and pair them with opaque tights when the temperature dips. And check out these shoes to shine in this Fall:

Stuart Weitzman
ChatupVince Camuto Heaven

Jessica Simpson 'Thalia' Bootie AK Anne Klein Willa

left to right:
1. Stuart Weitzman Chatup, $280 at
2. Vince Camuto Heaven, $125 at
3. Jessica Simpson ‘Thalia’ Bootie, $118.95 at
4. AK Anne Klein Willa, $79 at

Q. I could really use your help, my dear hubby is dragging me to a work event where he will be receiving an honor. Attire is “party elegant or business casual” and there will be cocktails followed by a sit-down dinner and “recognition presentations.” Can you translate? I feel like a sundress won’t quite cut it, but can I get away with a nice heavier knit skirt and a dressy sweater? And more importantly, what should my hubby wear? Help! My work is very casual and I don’t know what to do at a fancy corporate event like this!
-Business Befuddled

A. Well, you’re certainly excited about the night out. The term “party elegant” and “business casual” do mean different clothing suggestions. Since your hubby is being recognized, his best look would be to wear a suit or a sport jacket and pants. And since you’ll be on his arm all evening you need to compliment the look of your man receiving recognition even if you expect to be bored. A sundress sounds too cutesy, but a dress without spaghetti straps or a skirt and dressy top will certainly fit the evening dress code(s). And wear heels or strappy sandals with a heel.

Q. I am getting ready to go to college next month and I need to buy a backpack. I haven’t used a backpack for a very long time and I want it to be unique and stylish, but am having a hard time finding just that. Can you help me find a cute backpack? And preferably for under $200.
-Soured Search

A. There are plenty of backpack choices under $200 as long as you don’t need a top designer name or all leather. In fact, Jansport offers endless prints and patterns for the same style backpack at Kudos to you for looking for a way to keep the weight of your books distributed on your shoulders. There are basic flap or multi zip styles and some even come with pockets and attachments for an iPod plus drawstring top packs. If you’re still not satisfied, look for a large messenger bag.

Perlina Handbags
Duplex BackpackJansport
Big StudentBillabong Audry Backpack

Urboe 07High Sierra MiaBellino Luciano Backpack

left to right:
1. Perlina Handbags Duplex Backpack, $217.95 at
2. Jansport Big Student, $43.95 at
3. Billabong Audry Backpack, $39.50 at
4. OGIO Urboe 07, $63.95 at
5. High Sierra Mia, $26.99 at
6. Bellino Luciano Backpack, $66.60 at

Q. I’m going to South Beach, Miami for a week in August and I wanted some tips on what to wear around shops during the day, to the beach, and to dinner/bars in the evenings. I’m 21 years old, 5’3, and 125 lbs and usually shy away from crazy patterns. I want to look fresh! The big problem is that I’m on a college student’s budget…any ideas?
-Young and Style Uncertain

A. You are headed to South Beach, Miami which by clothing definition means sexy, skimpy and vibrant colors. This is the time to embrace a bright pattern, show a little skin with shoulders or legs and deal with sweltering heat. You can create a fun, flirty beach town wardrobe with a small budget by checking out sites like,,, and There are plenty of summer sales happening and you can use that to your advantage to pack stylish clothes for hot weather.

You’ll need a few dresses for day strolling on Lincoln Avenue or Ocean Drive plus dancing at the local hot spots. Shorts, minis, tanks and camis for morning walks to breakfast at places like News Café and jersey or cotton dresses that can work double duty as a cover up by day over your swimsuit and dinner attire by night. Pack your sunscreen, big sunglasses, bronzer or tinted moisturizer and you’re nearly ready to hit the beach.

Bra Cup Border DressMolly DressBorder Print Tube DressAiry cotton short halter dress

Bra Cup Smocked Cami9" chino shortCoco Halter 86981 Rd6220 Su07 M-1

left to right:
1. Bra Cup Border Dress, $22.50 at
2. Molly Dress, $44.50 at
3. Border Print Tube Dress, $34.50 at
4. Airy cotton short halter dress, $68 at (add a belt and sandals for night, and then wear it as a swim cover up the next day)
5. Bra Cup Smocked Cami, $15.50 at
6. 9" chino short, $29.50 (sale) at
7. Coco Halter, $19.50 at
8. Stretch chino mini, $39.50 (sale) at

animal print dressQ. I am attending a friends wedding in Chicago and just purchased the following dress for the event. Please note that the dress is longer on me. It ends about one inch above my knee. Do you think it appropriate to wear to a wedding? I am really unsure.

-Animal Print Wonder

A. Thank goodness it is longer on you. The dress is definitely working its sex appeal. It seems more fitting for a club than a friend’s wedding, sorry.

Q. What is appropriate for a funeral, must we wear black?

A. It is no longer necessary to wear all black. But certainly, dress in a conservative and respectful manner. You can wear a top and skirt, a dress or pants and top. I wouldn’t wear bright colors from head to toe. One part of your wardrobe should be a darker hue and avoid bright busy patterns.

Q. What would be a good choice of bottom for a solid gray slim fitting halter top this season? My lower half is heavier than my top but I don’t want to wear a skirt.
-Balance My Bottom

A. Black, grey, charcoal, navy and white are colors that will work with your new halter top. As for pants or Bermuda style shorts, avoid bottoms with embellishments, patch pockets or tapered legs. Wide banded pants will give the illusion of a smaller waist and hips and a smooth trouser style will balance your proportions especially ones with a slight flare. Plus, fewer pockets will lead to less bulk. Here are some options for you:

Alice + Olivia Wide Waistband Pant Parameter Pleated Denim Pant in MidnightWardrobe Stretch Denim Trousers

Karen Kane Cuffed PantsNanette Lepore 'Tantalizing' TrousersBilly Blues Stretch Herringbone Pants

left to right:
1. Alice + Olivia Wide Waistband Pant, $253 at shopbop,com
2. Parameter Pleated Denim Pant in Midnight, $215 at
3. Wardrobe Stretch Denim Trousers, $68 at
4. Karen Kane Cuffed Pants, $108 at
5. Nanette Lepore ‘Tantalizing’ Trousers, $215 at
6. Billy Blues Stretch Herringbone Pants, $88 at

Q. Today, I got sent home for unprofessional attire. I had on a suit jacket with capris. They were dress capris. Please, what is the exact difference between gauchos, capris and cropped pants?
-Feel Unfair

A. Before you worry about being sent home or have it happen again, find out your company’s wardrobe policy from human resources and sit down with your boss and discuss his/her expectations for your appearance. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.Any miscalculation in your wardrobe or appearance can affect your advancement in the company. With a few minor adjustments and little money spent, you can create an appearance that clearly shows your dedication to your job and where you want to go with your next position. There is truth behind the statement “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” - meaning, always dress better. If you don’t like the wardrobe policy at your job, which is obviously conservative, and don’t wish to adhere to the changes, then it’s probably time to look for a new gig with fewer restrictions.

As for the difference between gauchos, capris and cropped pants: Gauchos are wide calf-length pants that were copied in the late ’60s from Andalusian riding suits a la South American cowboys; Capris are slim fitting pants that end above the ankle, popular since the 1950s and named for the Italian resort island of Capri; and Cropped Pants fill the rest of the category of straight cut pants that end at various lengths from mid calf to ankle. And just to add a few other terms: Pedal Pushers are below-the-knee straight-cut pants that often have a cuff while Bermuda Shorts are just-above-the-knee shorts that fit close to the leg.

Q. Can you wear black shoes if you are wearing a dark blue shirt?
-Color Confusion

A. Yes, you can wear black shoes with a dark blue shirt - in fact, navy and black is a hot color combination this season and for fall. Navy, midnight and any dark blue shades are generally the most navy and black is a hot color combination this seasondifficult to try finding an exact match to your blue clothing, but an exact match can be boring. A safe bet is black, but don’t hesitate to try other color combinations like olive, burgundy, eggplant.

Q. Do you think pantyhose is a must with a knee length skirt in the office? I just started my first professional job and I’m 22. I am not really sure. Also I don’t know really how to ask because I work with all men which also makes me believe bare legs might be inappropriate. I really want to wear skirts but without looking slutty. I just feel I am too young for pantyhose.
-Leg Look

A. I understand your uncertainty and gold star to you for wanting to make the appropriate professional impression. Depending on what kind of job you have could determine if pantyhose are expected or not.I believe if your skirt is long enough, knee length and not a mini, then it should be acceptable to go sans hose during the warm weather months. Instead of asking a male coworker, stop by or call human resources and ask them if there are any written or expected wardrobe guidelines for both men and women. I’m not a fan of companies expecting women to wear pantyhose all year long especially during summer months when it’s hot and uncomfortable. I believe if your skirt is long enough, knee length and not a mini, then it should be acceptable to go sans hose during the warm weather months. I’m sure you won’t look slutty, just don’t wear a stiletto heel at the office.

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