| Ask The Style Chefs: May 2010 Archives

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May 2010 Archives

Q. I really want to wear the cute skinny belts on top of my cardigans. But whenever I try this look, the cardigan bunches around the belt, hiding my waist, and looking a bit sloppy. How do I prevent the cardigan from bunching? I’ve tried pulling the extra fabric taut behind my back, but it moves back by lunchtime…I would love any advice here.

OscardelaRenta-cardigan.jpgA. We’re big fans of the belted cardigan look, but must admit, it’s not always maintenance-free. Your belt and sweater typically need to be adjusted several times throughout the day, it’s just another way we women suffer for fashion sometimes! Even runway models aren’t immune to bunching as seen in this photo from the Oscar de la Renta pre-fall 2010 show.  

Your best bet for minimizing bunching is to stick with lightweight cardigans that fit close to the body. The bigger the cardigan, the more room there is for bunching. If you’re wearing the cardigan open with the belt, you may actually want to buy a size smaller than you typically wear.
Another trick is to use double stick tape on the inside of your belt, this will help prevent the cardigan from moving and slipping.

Q. I wear a lot of light weight sweaters, mainly cardigans over tees and tanks. I buy a lot of them and no matter the brand or price, they all seem to pill up almost immediately upon wearing. The wear mostly seems to be from my handbags. The wear is across the front if I am carrying a crossbody or on the shoulder and side if I am carrying a tote under my shoulder. It does the same thing whether I paid $20 or $120 for the sweater. What can I do? Thanks!

A. Unfortunately, it is a sad truth that most sweaters will pill eventually, typically from friction. I usually find that finer weave sweaters made of a cotton or linen blend tend to pill less than chunkier sweaters made of cashmere, wool or acrylic.

The best you can do is try to minimize friction as much as possible. Make sure the bags you are wearing have straps that are soft and rounded without any rough edges or seams. Or better yet, choose a hand held satchel instead. Be sure you are hand washing or dry cleaning your knits to prevent any further pilling.

Finally, there are some products you can use to gently remove pills and bring your sweaters back to life including electric sweater shavers, fabric combs and sweater stones, depending on your preference.


Q. I have an animal print (cream and brown) mid calf length dress that i need shoes for. My legs are heavy in the calf area and I am relatively tall (5’7”). I am not overweight but certainly not skinny.

A. You’re best shoe option is a nude colored heel or wedge sandal, without ankle straps. These will help to lengthen and visually slim your leg, while pairing beautifully with a cream and brown animal print dress. You may also want to consider hemming your dress so it falls closer to your knee (either at, below or just above the knee) since a mid-calf length tends to make calves look larger.


Here are some nude shoe options for you:

Q. I have read articles and advice on jean styles for women over 40 that has been stating that women over 40 should not wear jeans that have heavy embellishment or embroidery on them, especially back pockets. I also read that pocket flaps or buttons should be avoided. I am wondering if the style of jean that I wear is considered appropriate. I wear the Levi’s classic relaxed boot cut jeans in a medium dark wash. They do not have any of the above mentioned. The ones I wear also are a mid rise waist since I am a size 16. I have heard that the above mentioned styles should be reserved for 20-somethings. What do you suggest?


A. I don’t believe that women over 40 are relegated to “mom” jeans while younger 20-somethings get to wear the fun trends. There are exceptions of course, like some of the really destroyed or decorated styles which tend to look very young. More important than embellishment or embroidery is that you choose a denim silhouette which flatters your figure. Your shape should determine your jeans more than your age. While pocket flaps and embroidered pockets are perfectly fine for someone over 40, they are not a flattering choice for many women as they tend to enhance your rear.

The medium rise classic boot cut jeans in a medium to dark wash that you currently favor also happen to be one of the most universally flattering styles for a variety of figure types, regardless of age. If you feel good in them, wear them! Don’t worry too much about the trendy jean of the moment, wear what looks good on you. For more tips on finding the right jeans for your figure, check out our denim fit guide.

Q. I’m going to a wedding in Aruba and I’m not sure what to wear. Any suggestions for a Caribbean Chic or Beach Formal wedding?

A. Sounds like fun! Beach weddings are the perfect opportunity to invest in a pretty summer dress that isn’t so formal, so you’re more likely to wear it again. Embrace the island locale and search for a dress that is light, airy, colorful and unstructured - dresses that are too stiff or formal will look out of place in the tropics. Anything goes when it comes to length, from soft mini dresses to flowing maxi dresses, and don’t be afraid to show a little skin - even if it’s just a bare shoulder.

Pair your pretty dress with sexy metallic sandals or wedges and summery jewelry.


Q. Well, here I am, 75 (and a half), and still not exactly a fashion plate and increasingly wondering what IS appropriate attire for my age. Even my favorite - jeans - seem to have been taken over by the very young, very fit, who can wear the low waistlines I could wear years ago. I love, love, love flat knee high boots but have never owned a pair. I’m 5’5”, 130 pounds. Would I look ridiculous stepping out in a pair of those boots I’ve so long longed for?


A. Yes! You can absolutely wear flat knee high boots. In fact, a classic riding boot can be a very sophisticated look, suitable for someone of any age. Avoid styles with trendy embellishments like studs or excessive hardware, as these tend to look more youthful. Try pairing a simple, clean boot with slim jeans (yes, you can wear those too!) or pants and a button front shirt and blazer for a gorgeous age-appopriate look. Now is the perfect time to shop for knee high boots which are not usually considered a summer item, so there will be many styles available on sale.

Q. I’m going to be attending a wedding this summer that is at an extremely formal/fancy venue. Although they didn’t list attire, I am told by the bride that a long dress would be the most appropriate. Knowing this crowd, the guests will be dressed to the nines so I want to make sure I don’t look out of place. I want to spend $120 or less if possible, but I know it is hard to find an evening dress for that cost that doesn’t look like i’m in a cheap fake satin prom dress. I also don’t want to buy something that I’ll never wear again. I’m 5’3, small chest, tiny overall. Please help!

A. I’m not sure I agree that only long gowns are appropriate for a formal wedding; an elegant cocktail dress is usually appropriate as well. However, since the bride specifically mentioned a long dress, it’s best to accommodate her wishes if possible. The good news? We found several options in your price range that won’t look like you’re wearing a cheap prom dress or a tacky bridesmaid dress. The bad news? There’s a good chance you won’t wear your dress again - at least until you receive another invite for a formal affair.

Our favorite pick from the options below is a simple, classic strapless long dress. We found two options that are under $100 which leaves some extra money for a fabulous necklace and some chic shoes. The silhouette and dark color make even a simple shape and not so expensive fabric look elegant, and you’ll be more likely to wear it again than a more fussy dress.

Q. I’m a Chiropractic Student so day to day I’m in lecture and adjusting lab and moving around a lot. Lately I have really loved the leggings trends. They are so easy to move in and I can be comfortable in class for long periods of time but still be able to work on my pateints without any contraints-and usually still pull together a cute outfit. I know leggings are still in style for spring but I can’t find any tops that I can wear with mine that aren’t really low cut and when I’m adjusting a patient I have to be modest. I know I can always just wear a long t-shirt or put a sweatshirt on over whatever I’m wearing but I want some more options. Could you please give me some ideas as to either types of tops I could wear. Thanks so much!

A. We’re all for dressing comfortably, as long as you still look neat (not sloppy) - especially if you are working on a patient. Leggings can be a great option worn with tunic tops and some of this season’s short dresses. If you’re concerned with exposing too much with a low-cut top, simply layer a tank or camisole under your top to avoid any issues. Here are some tops and dresses to wear with your leggings, add a pair of ballet flats and you’ve got a look that is stylish and comfortable:


Q. Ok, this is another “I love how this looks on other women, but can I pull it off?” question. Gladiator sandals- love ‘em! My concern with wearing them is that I’m a curvy gal with curvy legs and thicker ankles. I’ve always gone by the fashion book of never wearing sandals that cut off my leg line. Does this mean that gladiator sandals are a no-go for me?

Specifically, I’m considering purchasing these (holla at my plus-size online outlet Fashion Bug!), but since they’re pretty ankle-restrictive I’m considering giving them the Roman thumbs down.

A. You’ll have to keep your Roman thumbs down, I’m afraid. Your instincts are correct that ankle strap gladiator sandals are a no-no for curvy women with thicker ankles. However, that doesn’t mean you have to forego the trend entirely. There are plenty of gladiator options that don’t climb up your leg, offering a more flattering alternative. Instead, look for slim straps that hit around your ankle bone or lower. And since the gladiators you were looking at were such a great price, we’ve found some equally affordable picks for you - all under $50:

Q. I work in San Francisco where it is sunny but Cool and windy in the Spring/Summer. Do you have any suggestions on outerwear/jackets/coats to wear during the summertime to keep warm, look put together and fashionable?   

A. This summer, opt for a lightweight boyfriend blazer, safari-inspired jacket, lightweight trench, or a summer leather jacket to ward off the chill indoors or out. For casual weekends, our favorites are the hot-again denim jacket (ideal for dresses and skirts) or a military jacket (paired with shorts, skinny pants and dresses). Here are some affordable and stylish options for you:


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