| Ask The Style Chefs: April 2009 Archives

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April 2009 Archives

Q. I have a pair of Coach tie-up ribbon espadrilles from quite a few seasons ago. Can I still wear them?

A. Absolutely! Tie-up espadrilles are a classic that never go out of style, so have fun wearing them with dresses, skirts, cropped pants and more. To prove our point, here are variations on the classic from $25 to over $800!

251663_MAIN_LB_1.jpg.gifQ. I am looking for a spring jacket that I can wear everyday. I have seen a ton of cute trench coats, but I still need something even more casual. I love this jacket from Built by Wendy but cannot afford it. I found a somewhat similar jacket at J Crew but it won’t be available for another two months! By then, it will no longer be needed! Can you please help me find similar affordable jackets?  

A. Based on the two jackets you mentioned, you’re looking for a super casual anorak or cargo/safari/military style spring jacket. We found several affordable options for you:

Q. In shopping for summerwear, I have yet to buy into the maxi dress phenomenon. I see stars (Angelina Jolie, Katie Holmes) in them all the time, and they are all over my favorite stores but I worry about purchasing one for myself because of my large chest and plus size shape. I feel like a maxi dress is a nice way of calling something a muumuu! Is there anyway to avoid looking preggers in one of these?

A. The maxi dress continues to be a big trend this season. Maxi dresses are meant to fit loosely, so they’re a great option for curvy women, and there are many plus size options available. Here are a few tips to help you find the perfect maxi for your plus size/chesty shape:


  • Make sure that the fabric flows loosely over your body - you don’t want any pulling or gathering over your hips or tummy - but make sure there isn’t too much fabric so it looks like you’re wearing a muumuu.

  • Look for styles that fit your chest well and allow you to wear a supportive bra underneath. You probably want to avoid spaghetti strap styles which tend to fit smaller chests.

  • Bold patterns are ideal for camouflaging lumps and bumps, so don’t be afraid of prints and color.

  • If you’re on the shorter side, wear wedge heels, espadrilles or the new chunky heeled gladiator to add some height and elongate your figure.

The surplice front maxi dress shown here ($89.50 at is a great style for you to try. It has ample room up top for a large bust, a flattering empire waist style and a gorgeous boho print that’s right on trend. It’s loose without having too much extra fabric.

Here are some more plus size maxis for you to try:

Q. I’m one of those petite women (5’4) who never wears heels. I have never needed them before: all of my friends are approximately the same height. Until recently, I accidentally tried a pair in a store, and my outfit looked so much more together! I thought I should give it a try. However, I’m very self-conscious in heels. I’m aware that I’m suddenly taller than my friends, and it feels strange to stand a few inches higher than them. I think it hits them as well. Someone commented on my sudden tallness when I wore a pair of sneakers with 1.5-inch platform. How do I start wearing heels without alienating myself?

newheels.jpgA. Congratulations on trying your first pair of heels! You are so right - heels really DO help to pull an outfit together, with the added benefit of making your legs look longer and more shapely. While the right flats can also be chic, there’s no denying that some outfits cry out for a heel.   

Since friends come in all shapes, sizes and heights, there is no reason that you should feel uncomfortable if you suddenly appear a few inches taller than your friends. In fact, I’m guessing that once your friends see how great you look in heels and how flattering they can be, they just might hop on the heel bandwagon and join in. Not only are you suddenly taller and thinner, you’re also a trendsetter!

To ease into wearing a heel, you might want to start small. Some women feel more comfortable in a wedge heel, while others prefer a sturdy stacked 2 or 3 inch heel. Whichever you choose, we say, be confident and stand tall!

Here’s a cute video on How to Walk in Heels to help you out:

Q. I purchased a white pattern light transparent dress for Easter, bought myself a full slip to avoid panty lines, but then ended up not wearing the dress because I wasn’t sure if I should wear underwear under the shaper slip. Does the shaper replace the underwear? I wouldn’t want anybody to see my bare butt under the dress when I was outdoors on a sunny day. Thanks.

Camisole Shaper Slip.pngA. What a great question. Whether or not to wear underwear underneath shapewear is a personal decision, though I am from the camp that does. There are many women who go bare underneath stockings, Spanx, etc. However, going bare underneath a slip is a bit risky - it’s really no different than going panty-less under a dress or skirt. So, to be safe (and sanitary), you’re better off wearing a seamless thong or panties under your shaper slip.

Cass Luxury Shapewear: Camisole Shaper Slip
$128 at

Q. I’ve been shopping for a pair of heeled black strappy sandals, but not gladiator-style, with a 2- to 3-inch heel max.

A. It does seem that gladiator styles are everywhere, doesn’t it? We searched and found some classic black strappy sandals for you with 2 or 3 inch heels, check them out:

Q.I have a question about cardigans… I’m not sure how to pull them off without looking/feeling too “old”. How many buttons should be closed, what should be worn under them, and with what shoes and jeans? I want to look trendy and not like a teacher. :) Thanks so much!

A. It’s no secret that we love cardigans in all shapes and sizes. In fact, we’ve written about them often, including here, here and here. While some cardigans tend to look classic, ladylike and somewhat mature, there are so many fun and young ways to wear a cardigan. Below are some ideas:

Whether you choose a long boyfriend style cardigan or a cropped ladylike cardigan, the above images prove that it’s all in the way you wear it. There are no hard and fast rules as to how many buttons to button or whether to wear it open, it all depends on your personal style. Typically, a buttoned up crew neck cardigan tends to look just that, buttoned up (and probably too mature). Instead, try wearing it open over a basic tank top, a feminine blouse or a pretty dress.

Cardigans are perfect paired with everything from jeans (skinny styles to baggy boyfriend jeans) and trousers to shorts and cargo pants. Shoe choices are endless, depending on the rest of your look. So grab a cardigan that suits you and have fun with it!

Q. It’s the middle of April already and I am having so much trouble getting motivated to get in shape for swimsuit season. Any suggestions?

A. We’ll admit it, we’re also guilty of letting our fitness regimes slide during the cold months. After all, living in boyfriend cardigans, boyfriend blazers and chunky sweaters all winter long, it’s easy to hide a multitude of sins. Now that warm weather is around the corner, there’s no camouflaging those extra pounds in spring’s skin-baring clothes.

If the thought of swimsuits, sleeveless dresses, tank tops and shorts isn’t enough to motivate you to hit the gym and switch to healthier snacks, we’ve always found that investing in a fitness wardrobe is a great way to encourage you to resume your daily workouts.

Here are some chic but functional pieces to get you started on your road to fitness:

Q. I’m going to be attending a funeral soon, but I have no idea what to wear. I’ve never been to a funeral before, but I know that attire should be conservative. I don’t want to look like too mature, since I am young. Do you have any suggestions?

A. I’m sorry to hear about your loss. Dressing for a funeral doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might think. The idea is to dress respectfully and somewhat conservatively - this obviously means no bright colors or sexy silhouettes. While you don’t need to wear black, it is safer to stick with dark colors like black, brown or navy. A dress, suit or skirt and top is the most appropriate. A dress is probably the most age appropriate choice for you, and you won’t have to worry about coordinating separate pieces, making it much easier to put together your outfit. We recommend a dress with a hemline that hits around your knee; sleeves are preferred, but if your dress is sleeveless, plan to wear a cardigan or wrap. It’s a good idea to have a simple conservative dress in your wardrobe anyway, not only for funerals, but for potential job interviews, etc.

As for shoes, a closed toe or peep toe pump is most appropriate. Avoid any sexy or really strappy sandals. You can most likely skip wearing hosiery, unless you feel more comfortable wearing tights or stockings.

Here are a few ideas for you that cost less than $150 and are age-appropriate:

Q. I have a ring dilemma. I wear a family heirloom diamond engagement ring on my right hand ring finger so it isn’t assumed to be an engagement ring. I always wear it, but have some cute “fashion” rings - obviously not engagement or wedding rings - that I would like to wear at the same time. Is there any reason why I can’t wear them on the left hand ring finger? Thanks for your advice.

A. Nope, there’s no reason at all that you can’t wear your fun rings on your left hand ring finger. If that’s where they fit best, then that’s where you should wear them. Just for fun, here are some of our favorite cocktail rings for spring:

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