| Ask The Style Chefs: November 2008 Archives

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November 2008 Archives

Q. I was wondering what kind of jacket or cape I could wear over a sleeveless satin dress for a holiday party? I was also thinking of wearing one of those large shawls that hang low to drape around it. I would like something to cover my arms and keep me warm for the evening. I thought the short jackets I own might make the dress look funny.

A. Skip the shawl this season and opt for one of these options instead:

1. Add a skinny belt over your dress to enhance your waist and layer a cashmere cardigan over it. Alternatively, you can wear the belt over the cardigan. This look also works with a long cardigan that ends just above the hem of the skirt, worn open with a cinched belt to complete the look. Dress up the outfit with a statement necklace, tights and party pumps.

2. A fitted tuxedo jacket is a modern option to layer over your dress this season.

3. A cropped faux fur jacket is chic and party perfect.

Chic Vegan Boots

Q. It’s getting colder, and I really want to purchase a pair of boots. However, as a vegan, it is hard to find a stylish pair of non-leather boots. Do you have any suggestions for a cute pair of vegan boots?

A. Nowadays, it’s easier than you might think to find vegan shoes and boots from mainstream designers, just look for labels that say 100% synthetic or man made materials. We can’t vouch for the environmentally-friendly nature of these mostly plastic products, but you can rest assured they don’t contain animal products. Just take that extra step, be a good consumer and check out the labels that list the materials.

Without knowing what style of boot you are looking for, we’ve found a good variety of casual, dressy, tall and short styles:

odl.jpgQ. I have been very surprised lately to see a lot of sheer hose in magazines - is sheer hose back “in”?

A. In addition to the opaque tights you’ve come to love, sheer hosiery has made a return to style this season. Designers are showing everything from sheer black and colored hosiery to sheer shiny, glossy styles and textures. Whether you choose to play it safe or take some risks, the good news is, virtually anything goes when it comes to hosiery this fall.

If you’re looking to invest in a few pairs, check out - they’ve got a huge selection of sheer, opaques, colored hosiery and more.
Q. I have been looking for the perfect bag for quite a while. The problem is when I find one I like, it’s always very expensive. I would like to find a bag that I can use everyday: medium sized, slouchy, over the shoulder, and preferably brown. I would like to try to spend less than $200, if it’s possible. Any suggestions?

A. Thanks for the challenge, this one was fun! We found a slew of brown slouchy everyday bags for you, check them out below. By the way, you need not feel boxed in by brown - a dark red or even dark purple offers the same neutral versatility but with a bit more “pop”.

Q. As the days get colder and colder here, I have been strongly considering purchasing a jacket/coat to wear for the rest of fall, before hardcore snow-weather sets in. My two issues are style and price range. I am on the short side (5’3”-ish) and the top half of my body is heavier than the bottom half. I’ve tried pea coats and other double-breasted styles in the past and they made me look heavier. I’ve considered trench coats, but they seem to make me look even shorter and pudgier. Given my grad student budget and the failing economy, I would like to stay within a price range of $50 or under, though $40 and under would be ideal. Any suggestions?

A. You should definitely avoid double breasted style, as they will not only make you look wider, but shorter as well. Other styles to avoid include long coats and belted coats that would accentuate a thick middle. Now that we’ve gotten what you shouldn’t wear out of the way, let’s focus on what styles will flatter you most. Your best bet is to look for coats that hit just above your knee with an empire waist to create the illusion of height. Choose a semi-fitted single breasted style to create a slim silhouette while avoiding adding unnecessary bulk.

Now that you know what kind of coat to look for, let’s address your price. A fall coat that looks great can be tough to find for under $50. In fact, we found only two in your price range and style (see below). Consider spending just a bit more - a coat that fits great in a classic style will be worn for many years and is a great investment.

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Annabelle Linley 3Q Coat, $7.99 at; Wool Coat, $39.80 at; Wool-Blend Duffle Coats, $69.50 at

Q. For Christmas, I will be spending a week with my boyfriend and his family in Philadelphia, which is wonderful except for the fact that I’m from Texas and the coldest it ever gets around here is about 60°! What can I wear that will be super cute but still allow me to stay warm?! Oh, and of course because of the bag restrictions I can’t really pack a ton of stuff because of the weight. Every day will be pretty casual except for the night of the Christmas party… Ahhh… I have no idea… PLEASE HELP!

A. The great news is, you can create a week’s worth of outfits with just a few key additions to items you likely already own. Let’s start with your casual attire: the idea is to impress without looking like you are trying too hard. Pack a couple pairs of your favorite jeans and invest in a few chic and cozy sweaters, including a few cardigans that you can layer over some tanks or tees from your closet. Add a pair of ankle boots (which you can easily wear in Texas with jeans or dresses) in a color that works with all of your outfits and some simple but striking jewelry and you’re good to go. Here are 2 casual looks incorporating jeans to give you ideas (both from

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Without knowing how dressy your Christmas party is, your best bet is to pack a cute dress (perhaps something you already own), a pair of tights, some glamorous heels and great jewelry. If your dress is short sleeved or sleeveless (this is perfectly ok by the way, even if the weather is cool), then pack a cashmere cardigan or wrap to ward off the chill.

The only other item you’ll need to pack is a chic but warm coat that easily transitions from day to evening.


dress: Flutter-sleeve dress, $150 at; coat: GUESS by Marciano Barrel Shape Coat, $148 at

Q. Would a black pencil skirt be appropriate to be incorporated into a holiday party outfit? Any ideas for completing the outfit?

A. You can absolutely dress up your black pencil skirt for a holiday party or evening out, it’s a great way to get mileage out of this classic work piece. Add a dressy top, sparkly accessories and glam shoes and you’re ready to go. Here are two ideas to get you started (click on each item for purchasing info):

Q. I’m looking for a hooded toggle jacket for this winter - do you have any suggestions?

A. But of course! We love this casual chic trend also. And the best part is, you don’t have to spend a fortune. Here are some affordable options for you:

Q. My girlfriends and I were shopping this weekend, and noticed a lot of winter white pants. These are great, but we are looking for a winter white skirt. I saw one in J. Crew, but it was too short and not really work-appropriate. Ideally, it would be wool, knee length, and pencil or A-line. Any suggestions? Thanks!

A. Ooh, so chic. Many women overlook the crisp appeal of winter white or ivory. We found a few pencil and A-line wool skirts that would look great at work.

Q. I have a dilemma. I’ve been searching for riding boots for months! I just can’t seem to find a pair that hits below my knees. They’re all too tall. Are there any options for petite women with normal-sized calves?

A. Several of us here share your plight - many riding boots are simply too tall for women who are 5’4” and under. Boots that hit at or above the knee can ruin the proportion of your legs, making them look even shorter. Your best bet is to seek out boots that have a 14” shaft or smaller (the shaft is the part of the boot that covers the leg, measured along the inside seam of the boot). Or better yet, measure your leg so you know exactly what shaft height you need before you begin your search. To measure: measure the height of the inside of your leg, starting at your instep to below your knee.

We sought out some chic options for you that are 14” or shorter, good luck!

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