StyleBakery.com | Ask The Style Chefs: March 2009 Archives

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March 2009 Archives



Q. The ankle strap seems to be back this year. Could you please show a few examples of how to wear these sandals so they do not visually shorten your legs.

A. You’re right, the ankle strap is everywhere this season in many variations, from thin and ladylike to thick and rocker-inspired to wraparound gladiator-style. You are also right that they have a tendency to visually shorten legs. Here are some tips for wearing ankle straps:

anklestraps3.jpg

1. Flat gladiator styles that often wrap more than once around your ankle can be a tough style to pull off for women with short legs or muscular calves. Look for lighter colors that closely match your skin tone like the model in look 1 above. Wear them with dresses, skirts or shorts that hit above the knee to make your legs look as long as possible. Or, wear them with maxi dresses that cover most of the leg anyway.

2. Look for ankle straps that hit below the ankle, like the pair in image #2. As you can see, they actually dip down towards the foot, giving you an extra inch or two below where the typical ankle strap hits.

3. Look for skinny straps in light colors like the pair in image #3. This will prevent the straps from visually chopping your leg at the ankle. Again, opt for a hemline above the knee. You can also try wearing them with cropped or rolled pants that hit just above the ankle or just below the wider part of your calf.

4. This season’s newest trend is the chunky cage heel which often comes in dark colors and features thick ankle straps - a tough look for anyone with less-than-slim calves or short legs to wear. This style looks best worn with minis or short shorts which allow as much leg to show as possible. As with other ankle strap heels, you can also wear them with cropped or rolled pants that hit just above the ankle or just below the wider part of your calf.

Q. I’m seeking Spring/Summer shoes that are appropriate for a formal office environment and that do not look stuffy outside of the office. I live in the city where walking can not be avoided so they need to be comfortable enough to be worn all day (standing, seated, or walking) , stylish enough to be considered a bit sexy, and between 2 3/4 - 3.5” high. Closed toe preferred or minimal toe. I’m flexible on color as long as they look good for summer.

A. Here are some (relatively) comfortable pumps and peep toes to wear to a conservative office that are cute enough to wear after hours.

Q. I wear suits to the office. I have several brown pantsuits and skirt suits I’d like to brighten up with accessories. Suggestions?

A. Brown is the ideal neutral to use as a base for your work wardrobe. It pairs well with a multitude of colors including pink, blue, orange, yellow, purple, nude and white, and looks great with colorful or animal prints.

The easiest way to brighten up your suit is to wear a colorful printed top underneath the suit jacket. Invest in a colorful, yet versatile, bag like the yellow options shown below. Jewelry, shoes and belts are also great ways to add color. Below are some ideas for you (just don’t wear them all at the same time!)


Sergio Zelcer Women’s Cat Peep Toe Slingback $182 - Endless.com
Banana Cream Tote $188 - Anthropologie
Twisted Seed Bead Necklace - Green $14 - Target
Nordstrom Cabochon Drop Necklace $78 - Nordstrom

Q. What kind of shoes can you wear for Spring and Summer if you don’t like the way your toes look? I see some really ugly toes sticking out of cute shoes and I don’t want to be one of those people!!

A. Footwear options for spring and summer tend to be toe-baring, but don’t fret, there are some beautiful options that will conceal your toes in the warm weather. Some of our favorites include strategic cutouts and perforations which give you the feel of a sandal in a closed-toe style:


Q. I have a skirt similar to the one featured in Ask Us (what to wear with a short, full skirt). I, too, am petite, but I’m curvy, so I don’t think horizontal stripes or lots of ruffles would work for me. I’m a size 4-6 in skirts, but I’m a 32F on top. Have any advice for the more voluptuous woman?

A. If you’re petite with a full bust, it’s best not to tuck your shirt into your short full skirt, as this will emphasize your bust and give you the appearance of a short waist. Instead, wear fitted v-neck or scoop neck tops that hit mid-hip for the most flattering silhouette. Darker tops will also help to deemphasize your bust. Cardigans, fitted blazers and jackets are also good options for you. Experiment with a skinny belt worn slightly below your natural waistline, but only if it’s flattering for you. Here are a few more ideas:

If you’re petite with a full bust, it’s best not to tuck your shirt into your short full skirt, as this will emphasize your bust and give you the appearance of a short waist. Instead, wear fitted v-neck or scoop neck tops that hit mid-hip for the most flattering silhouette. Darker tops will also help to deemphasize your bust. Cardigans, fitted blazers and jackets are also good options for you. Experiment with a skinny belt worn slightly below your natural waistline, but only if it’s flattering for you.

Q. For the past few years, I have been looking for a spring jacket that I can wear to work and still wear on the weekends. I have yet to see anything that really catches my eye. Can you please offer some insight?

A. I assume you are referring to outerwear and not a blazer or jacket intended to wear as part of your outfit. Your best option for a spring coat to wear to work and on weekends is one of our favorite wardrobe must-haves: the trench coat. Look for one that hits above your knee - it will easily pair with everything from work dresses and suits to casual jeans and cropped pants. We’re loving bright colors and pretty patterns this season, but basic black and khaki are nice options also.

Here are some styles you’ll want to wear 7 days a week:

Q. I’m looking for a lightweight cardigan sweater that can be worn over long sleeves now and over tanks when the weather warms up. I’m looking for quality knitwear, the last cardigan sweater I owned fell apart after a season of wear. Basically I would love it to be grey (my current alternative to black) lightweight, machine washable (I have clothes that sit in a bag for months waiting for the trip to the dry cleaner) and if at all possible no more than $100, but I would pay a little more if it is well made (maybe, possibly made Stateside to support local economy). I’ve looked high and low and need some expertise on where can I find such an item.

A. You got it! Below are some gray cardigans (mostly under $100) that can be worn now and when the weather warms up. We only selected cardigans that can be machine or hand washed (no “dry clean only” options). Thin sweaters, which are your best option, tend to be more delicate, so be sure to hand wash them or use the delicate cycle on your machine; dry them flat to retain the shape - this should prevent them from falling apart after one season of wear.

Q. I bought this “Susanna” skirt pictured below from Delia’s for spring, and I’m not quite sure what to wear with it. It’s a bit high-waisted, which I’m not used to. I’m very petite (5’3, 100 lbs) so i was trying to find something that would add some curves. The website shows girls wearing it with hoodies but I think that looks a little ridiculous (plus I’m 28 - looking for more of a pulled together, fashiony look). Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

A. Great find! Short, full skirts are a big trend this season and there are many ways to wear them that don’t look too young. Here are 3 ideas for you:

  1. Wear a simple fitted shirt over the waist band and then add a belt at the waist if you want to dress it up further, skip the belt if you prefer a relaxed casual look.
  2. Tuck in a pretty blouse. You can also add a belt at the waistband here if you like.
  3. Pair a belted jacket (great for adding curves) or little cardigan over a tank top or tee shirt.


Q. I recently purchased this vintage-inspired dress for a black tie wedding. I’m looking to accessorize it with shoes and a bag. I want a vintage-inspired look without looking like I’m attending a theme party. Can you help me out? P.S. I’ll be wearing the dress without the straps.

A. What a gorgeous little black dress - and such a great price! Though it is vintage-inspired, you can wear it so many different ways, including modern, it’s a great addition to your wardrobe that you’ll likely wear for years to come.

Below are some shoe and bag suggestions with the vintage feel that you’re looking for. For jewelry, you might want to consider strands of pearls or a chunky large-bead short necklace. A brooch is also an option that you can wear at your hip or above your heart. 

Q. I recently bought a white twill blazer from Old Navy and would like some casual ideas on what to pair it with. I live in Florida and don’t have to wait til it warms up to start wearing it. Seems like it should be a no brainer and would work with just about everything but you always offer great ideas that I would never think of!

A. A white blazer is a great wardrobe addition this season, and yours from Old Navy is not only versatile, but affordable too! I applaud your decision to start wearing your blazer now - that old rule about not wearing white before Memorial Day is so outdated. To wear your white blazer casually, think of it almost as a replacement for a jean jacket, wearing it with day dresses, cargo pants, jeans, skirts, etc. Here are a few outfit ideas for you:


1. pair your blazer over a casual dress and wear with wedge sandals
2. wear casually over cargo pants and a ribbed tank, worn with flat sandals
3. layer over a printed blouse (it’s ok if the jacket is shorter than the blouse) worn with skinny jeans and heels
4. wear with a tee shirt, lightweight scarf, boyfriend jeans and ballet flats

(click on the above items for purchasing information)

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