| Ask The Style Chefs: August 2007 Archives

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August 2007 Archives

Q. I need advice on warm weather career wear. I have been traveling to Florida and the Caribbean quite frequently for work lately. Being a young woman in the corporate world (I’m 23), I feel like I need to look extremely polished and professional to be taken seriously, but I don’t want to look and feel like a sweaty mess! Wearing a full suit would look a bit silly when men are usually in Tommy Bahama shirts. Any advice on what to wear in business settings for a full day in a hot and humid location? I’d love to be in tank tops and flat sandals, but that’s not an option.
-Girl Glow

A. You can still pull together a polished look sans the suit. Skip the high heels and wear lower heeled sandals so when you perspire tricky heels will be one less stress. Stylish Bermuda shorts with sandals or wedges and a stylish top that isn’t revealing has become more acceptable at the office during warm months and a skirt is always “airy” and more cooling. And since it is hot and humid, pack a few extra pieces just in case you have dinner with clients and you want to change into something fresh after getting sticky in one outfit all day. Look for short sleeve or sleeveless tops, but not tanks.

Look 1: try these feminine tops with a pleated chino skirt

Lux Ruffled Oxford BlousePrinted Laurel ruffle blouseSilk animal-print topChino A-line skirt

1. Lux Ruffled Oxford Blouse, $38 at
2. Printed Laurel ruffle blouse, $88 at
3. Silk animal-print top, $68 at
4. Chino A-line skirt, $69.50 at

Look 2: ruffle trim tops with a printed skirt

Ruffled oxford shirtLaurel ruffle blouseLiberty Fabric pop-on skirt

1. Ruffled oxford shirt, $39.50 at
2. Laurel ruffle blouse, $78 at
3. Liberty Fabric pop-on skirt, $75 at

Look 3: lightweight tops paired with Bermuda shorts

Circle Applique TopCity Stretch Shirt - Twist FrontClean pinstriped Bermuda shortsCity-fit lightweight wool twill bermuda short

1. Circle Applique Top, $68 at
2. City Stretch Shirt - Twist Front, $9.99 (sale) at
3. Clean pinstriped Bermuda shorts, $29.99 at
4. City-fit lightweight wool twill bermuda short, $98 at

Q. I’ve just taken a new position with a company that will require quite a bit of business travel. Any tips for a girl that will soon be lugging a laptop to multiple cities?
-Hotel Hopping

Ibiza Convertible Flight ToteA. I, too, am a girl on the go and have learned several ways to try to make life a little more comfortable while visiting multiple cities. Get yourself a good bag that has multiple pockets for just about everything. With pockets you’ll be able to find essentials faster. And consider skipping a leather bag since it will get scuffed up faster with all the shoving underneath the seat in front of you on the plane. I used to buy a new big bag each season at TJ Maxx or Marshalls since they have so many designer labels, but I’d be bummed when they got dirty. I have been using a travel bag from Hayden-Harnett for the last six months and it’s worked like a charm. Plus, it fits my laptop in a soft sleeve inside the bag so I don’t have to carry another bag just for my computer.

When booking hotels using online sites, request a quiet room on a high floor away from elevator. Nothing makes for a bad night sleep with an early wake up than listening to the elevator opening all night, the ice machine chugging and noise from the freeway outside your window. Also, a room on a higher floor can mean quiet and safety for a woman.

Don’t give up your workout, just find new routines to do on the road. Most hotels have fitness centers, bring along your swimsuit for a pool workout, ask the hotel for a nearby park with running trails or bring a stretch band and workout in your room and do walking lunges down the hotel hallways (I’ve gotten over the embarrassment factor).

When your meetings are over or after you’ve checked in, get out of the hotel and explore the city. This is easy when you’re doing business in a big city like San Francisco, Chicago or New York. Skip the car and walk around. Portland has the waterfront to explore, you can walk around West Hollywood in LA, get a cupcake at Toast, shop the boutiques on Third Ave and hike in Runyon Canyon or head to the fisherman’s wharf in Seattle and try several food options from various vendors and stop by the aquarium. The point is, don’t get stuck in your hotel room every time. It’s inevitable in some cities when you’ll have to do with room service and the TV, but if you can get to a local restaurant, then indulge that time with a good book. If you’ll be choosing from the room service menu, then check to see if the hotel has any restaurants on the property and you can usually choose from their menu, but have it delivered as room service. I’ve indulged that way several times at the Grand Hyatt in Tampa Bay from Armani’s and Oyster Catchers restaurants.

As for traveling on the plane, comfort is crucial. I usually wear the same “uniform” which consists of a stylish t-shirt or button down, pants or dark jeans, a sweater or cardigan (usually thin cashmere), a wrap that works double duty as a blanket and flats or cute kicky sneakers. And I have a blow-up neck roll since it takes up no space in my bag rather than lugging a stuffed one. Always have a good book, paperback is lighter, and a rotating menu of magazines. I’m always tearing out pages of decorating ideas, restaurants to try and a new pair of shoes or jacket to track down. While I have the new iPhone which has helped my business needs tremendously and means I can listen to music without bringing my iPod, I also bring my Archos video recorder. It’s a slightly larger screen than my iPhone and I can download multiple movies and TV shows to watch when my book bores me and the flight seems endless.

Q. I am going to my High School 10th Year Reunion. The theme is Havana Nights (we are in Miami, FL). I am 5’0”, plus sized and 28 yrs. old. My biggest issue is my abs. Empire cut dresses make me feel and look pregnant - it seems these are the only options of dresses cut for plus sized women I’ve found. I am Hispanic and short.
-Dress Crave

A. There’s no reason you can’t samba in style. While many designers are offering empire cut dresses and not just for plus size this season, there are still many options that will offer you a more flattering fit. Look for dresses that have wide banded waist areas or wide belts. And don’t forget the waist “flattening” capabilities of shapewear to help create a smooth illusion and a better fit of the dress. Check out some of these dresses to look hot and sassy at Havana nights from, and

Future Floral Dress by Mlle GabrielleMadeline Rainbow Peacock Dress by Monif CFirst Blush Dress by Blue Plate

Lifes A Beach Dress
by Donna RiccoBorder Print DressRuched Surplice Dress

left to right:
1. Future Floral Dress by Mlle Gabrielle, $48 at
2. Madeline Rainbow Peacock Dress by Monif C, $238 at
3. First Blush Dress by Blue Plate, $54 at
4. Lifes A Beach Dress by Donna Ricco, $138 at
5. Border Print Dress, $59 at
6. Ruched Surplice Dress, $116 at

Q. I am the mother of the groom at an August wedding. I am wearing a light pink dress with 1 or 2 strands of pearls, pearl earrings, pearl bracelet. My question is, can I wear shiny silver strappy sandals that have a rhinestone on top? If not, what color shoe would be best? I was thinking bone but aren’t shoes supposed to be the same color or darker than the dress?
-Accessory Uncertain

A. That’s a lot of pearls to be sporting. Shoes no longer have to be the same color or darker than the dress. There are many variables these days to mix up and add sass to an outfit. Wearing silver sandals with rhinestones will help give your outfit a dressier appeal. Cream can also be worn and many times can give a sophisticated look, but the silver will be more youthful.

Solid Halter with Tucked PleatesQ. I fell in love with this dress from Cache in red, but the store only had my size in leopard print which isn’t my style. They could special order it in red, but I saw they offer it in the chocolate brown on the website and now I am second guessing whether to buy the bright red. Is it too much for anything other than Vegas or could I wear it to weddings and fancy dinners? 

I love the red but I’m afraid it might be too showy and I might be better off with the espresso color, but I already own a few black dresses and feel that brown might now be different enough. I look great in both browns and reds and have medium dark brown hair and eyes. Should I take the plunge for a red satin dress or should I keep it conservative with the espresso color? Help, I’m confusing myself!
- Vegas Glam or Sophisticated Dull?

A. This is truly a personal decision. You should choose the one that gives you confidence. I love red for its eye-catching appeal and its ability to stand out in a sea of little black dresses. It is certainly siren red, but the chocolate carries some seductive, definitely not dull, sophistication. With the chocolate you could wear bronze, beige, animal print pumps and even plum, burgundy and olive green. With the red you could pair gold, red, black and silver. My suggestion is to make a list of upcoming events where you plan to wear the dress and compare the accessories you have to work with both color choices to switch it up for each occasion. If you want to get the most “life” out of the dress, go with the longer list.

Q. I am performing a civil ceremony for my friends and their 50 guests on the beach in North Seattle. The ceremony will be outside and the reception inside. I have many dresses but none of them seem appropriate. I own a strapless embossed J.Crew beach dress in sundried tomato, a pink 3-ply J.Crew silk empire waist dress (very classy) and a brown embossed J.Crew beach halter dress that may be too revealing in the cleavage.

I feel like one of my dresses should work but I seem to find reasons why none of them will. I worry about looking too fancy for a beach wedding. I like the idea of wearing either the strapless or the pink J.Crew dress, but I don’t know what shoes to wear. One idea I have is to find some dressy flip-flops to wear for the ceremony and then change into heels for the reception.
-Closet Confusion

A. There is no reason to buy a new dress when you clearly have several good options. Instead, buy new sandals and pull together great accessories to give a dress you’ve worn already a boost. For an outdoor ceremony with sand, grass and water involved, wear pretty flat sandals and switch to heels when you head to the party inside. Skip the word “flip-flop” whenever mentioning “wedding” in them same sentence, instead think thong sandal.

Nine West
ZapitDolce Vita
Aegean-17Stuart Weitzman Chaingang
Matisse 'Escape' O-Ring SandalMatisse 'Naive' Thong

left to right:
1. Nine West Zapit, $82.95 at
2. Dolce Vita Aegean-17, $87.95 at
3. Stuart Weitzman Chaingang, $174 at
4. Matisse ‘Escape’ O-Ring Sandal, $74.95 at
5. Matisse ‘Naive’ Thong, $99.95 at

Q. I have been a faithful Spanx consumer from the get go. In the summer I wear the footless or the power panties and I have tried all of their camisoles. But recent purchases reveal that the new boy pant shorts roll up as do the high waist ones. The camisoles are the worst. Have they changed designers? I have been wearing Flexees camisoles and they are great. I love the Flexees boy shorts but they do not come in small. Any suggestions?
-Intimate Changes

A. I find boy shorts (or as many designers refer to them now: ”girl” shorts) to roll up my butt as well. I like the one from Hanes, but for hip and thigh shaping, the bike short styles usually work best. I’ve had great results on real women makeovers with Donna Karan The Body Perfect collection and Flexees as well. I found two boy short styles in small from Flexees so perhaps the store you’ve been buying from hasn’t purchased them in smaller sizes. Two of our favorite intimate internet shops are and, so check out the multiple options online. My partners, Jen and Beth, at StyleBakery also like Sassybax camisoles for the breast support and torso slimming effects, plus they’re virtually invisible under your clothes. The camisoles come with and without underwire.

 Flexees: One Fabulous Body Boyshort Flexees: One Fabulous Body Sew Free Moderate Control Boyshort Sassybax: Torso Trim Underwire Trim Camisole Donna Karan Hosiery: The Body Perfect Collection Level 1 High Waist Embrace Brief

left to right:
1. Flexees: One Fabulous Body Boyshort, $25
2. Flexees: One Fabulous Body Sew Free Moderate Control Boyshort, $16
3. Sassybax: Torso Trim Underwire Trim Camisole, $75
4. Donna Karan Hosiery: The Body Perfect Collection Level 1 High Waist Embrace Brief, $40

Q. In a few short weeks, I will be moving to Minnesota for veterinary school. I have lived in California all my life, and I was wondering what new basics I will need in my wardrobe (other than coats!) to make it more functional in the changing seasons. I’m on a tight budget, but I’d love to hear what you recommend.
-Cold Weather Wardrobe

A. Cozy, comfortable, warm sweaters, layered over long sleeve tops, button down shirts and thin knit turtlenecks. Corduroy and wool lined pants, wool or knit skirts with opaque tights and at least two good pairs of boots-one with super foot warming powers and the other pair stylish enough for every day wear with a low heel or nearly flat bottom. You’ll need to clean them continually due to the salt used to melt the snow and slush on the streets and sidewalks.

Look for various sweaters to break up the monotony of always bundling up. Choose a long belted sweater, a chunky cable knit and a few basic v-necks and cardigans. Splurge on a few pairs of cashmere or cashmere blends socks if your feet get easily cold like mine.

Here are few under $100 sweater suggestions:

UO Rugby Stripe CardiganLux Reykjavik SweaterFree People 'Colonel' Sweater CoatCalvin Klein Jeans Crochet Cardigan

Esprit  wrap belt sweaterCambridge cable cardiganFeatherweight merino turtleneck sweater

left to right:
1. UO Rugby Stripe Cardigan, $54 at
2. Lux Reykjavik Sweater, $54 at
3. Free People ‘Colonel’ Sweater Coat, $98 at
4. Calvin Klein Jeans Crochet Cardigan, $89 at
5. Esprit wrap belt sweater, $59.50 at
6. Cambridge cable cardigan, $89 at
7. Featherweight merino turtleneck sweater, $76 at

Q. Can you please help me with what to match with a straight black (plain) dress that I am wearing to a friend’s “Second Annual Tea Party.” The dress has a wide black belt, and I would like to know if red shoes would match well or if I should stick to black. Also, I’d like to find a cute hat to match, but am not sure about what colors to include in the hat - I don’t think wearing ALL black is what I want.

As for the gloves, I will probably wear black lace or shear gloves, but have no idea what length would be best. The dress is sleeveless. Do you have any suggestions? It would be much appreciated.

A. Adding color is a must. Red heels or sandals would help give the outfit a little “kick” whereas wearing all black would appear quite somber for a girly tea party. Sandals or pumps in just about any color or pattern will help lift the black. As for a hat, it suddenly is becoming harder to find a cute hat when stores are beginning to fill up with Fall clothes and accessories, but a wide brimmed straw hat with a pretty ribbon will do the trick. Or skip the hat and choose a headband in a pattern that can pick up the color of the shoes and break up the monotony. As for gloves, stick to wrist length styles since it is a day event and opera length or 3/4 are meant for dressier occasions.

Eric Javits Squishee® Straw Cap L Erickson Wrap Link Headband
Cotton-gathered headband 63325 Na6488

left to right:
1. Eric Javits Squishee® Straw Cap, $150 at
2. L Erickson Wrap Link Headband, $45 at
3. Cotton-gathered headband, $19.50 at
4. Classic straw hat, $49.50 at - add a colorful solid or print wide ribbon

Q. What should my 26 year old son wear to a beach wedding in San Diego?
-Beach Boy

A. Beach weddings are generally a more casual, colorful affair and men should avoid dark colors. Best looks are khaki, cream or tan lightweight dress pants or linen pants worn with a colorful button down shirt. He can wear a full light colored lightweight suit or linen sport coat with a colorful shirt and tie (or no tie), but he may be hot at the beach. And consider wearing nice leather thong sandals to maneuver through the sand. If the reception heads indoors, then have a pair of dress shoes to change into.

Ppolo2-3495016 Standard V330Ppolo2-3421495 Standard V330

left to right:
1. Classic-Fit Pinpoint Oxford, $49.99 (sale) at
2. Classic-Fit Gingham Poplin, $79.99 (sale) at
3. Façonnable Long Sleeve Classic Fancy Poplin Check Shirt, $125 at
4. Slim fit stretch poplin dress shirt, $59.50 at

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