| Ask The Style Chefs: August 2010 Archives

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August 2010 Archives

Q. I’ve recently been on the hunt for knee high suede grey boots but wasn’t sure what I can pair them with. Any suggestions?


A. We’re loving gray suede boots this season, they’re the perfect neutral to wear with black, olive, denim and fall’s requisite jewel tones like red and purple. Knee high boots are best worn with dresses and skirts that hit above the knee, skinny jeans and leggings. Gray suede boots are the perfect investment to wear all fall and winter long - and again next year. Here are some styles to consider:

Q. I am wearing this dress to a (not super fancy) evening wedding in Connecticut this summer and also to a lower key wedding in Crete this fall. I’m looking for styling help - accessories, purse, layer, shoes? I do have a pair of neutral metallic peep toes that may work for the CT wedding. If you could help at all so I can get more out of this dress I would appreciate it! I’d love ideas for fun jewelry - and whether to wear simply earrings or earrings and necklace? I feel that there’s a lot of pattern in the dress.

A. You can do so much with this bold printed chiffon dress, it’s a great choice for not-too-dressy weddings - and one that you will get a lot of wear out of in the future. If the temperatures are warm, we suggest wearing it on its own with metallic strappy heels or your peep toes. You might want to bring along an evening wrap in case you get chilly. For jewelry, we recommend you skip the necklace and opt for dramatic drop earrings that incorporate one of the many colors in the dress. You can also add a pretty bracelet or cocktail ring. An evening clutch finishes the look.

For a more sophisticated look, try layering a tuxedo jacket or dressy black blazer over the dress and opting for black heels. You can also have fun dressing it down for a dinner out with friends with a denim jacket, leather jacket or boyfriend blazer and a pair of booties or wedge sandals.


Q. Joie makes some boots for fall that I love love love, but I can’t justify the price unless I can think of a bunch of ways to wear them. Can you recommend a couple of different ways to style these? Is it possible to wear them in a business casual office?

A. Lace-up boots, both tall and short, are a huge trend for fall. We’re loving them with everything from dresses and skirts to skinny jeans and leggings. You can certainly wear them to your business casual office with anything you would typically wear with a tall boot.

The military-inspired Joie Refugee boots you love are a bit of an investment at $535, but they’re sure to be your go-to boot this fall and winter if you do take the plunge. The great news is, there are many similar boots available for a lot less money if you like the look but aren’t too attached to the brand name. Check out these more affordable alternatives:

Q. I’m attending a wedding in October in the Berkshires in Lenox, MA. The wedding is in a historic mansion and is at 1 p.m. The bride is encouraging guests to wear fall colors, and said that her friends are wearing cocktail dresses. Cocktail dresses seems a little dressy to me for an afternoon wedding in artsy Lenox. Any suggestions for this 40 year old?


A. A cocktail dress typically refers to a shorter length dress, which is perfectly appropriate for a 1:00 wedding. And if the bride recommends a cocktail dress in fall colors, then you should do your best to honor her wishes. Here are some great age-appropriate dresses to wear to the wedding that you’ll surely wear again:

Q. I’m looking for cute and trendy carry-on baggage for a Europe trip. Any recommendations?

A. We found a great variety of chic and functional carry-on bags at Below are some of our favorite styles, each available in a wide array of colors and prints to suit your personal style.


Q. I love, love, LOVE my Ann Taylor Oasis Dot Print Dress so much that I’m seriously considering having a seamstress make me two more in other colors/patterns. I’ve found a seamstress, and the price seems reasonable, so I’m hoping you can give me some fabric suggestions. I really want to make sure that the finished dresses end up looking very polished and stylish, not like a DIY Home Ec project. I believe the fabric is silk georgette (although I could be wrong about that). I’m looking for fabrics to make two dresses: a fun, funky pattern in vibrant red and some kind of elegant neutral (either pattern or solid). Fabric suggestions (or even just suggestions for a good online source for designer fabric) would be greatly appreciated, as would any tips or suggestions for ensuring that my finished product is high style, not home-style.

make-your-own-dress.jpgA. I have often found myself loving the fit and style of a dress so much that I want to clone it in every imaginable color, print and fabric. However, I’ve never actually taken the plunge. Finding the right seamstress or tailor is essential, so you’re already halfway to the dress of your dreams. The next step is to find the right fabric. You are smart to consider looking for a similar fabric (silk georgette in this case) to ensure that the fit and drape is as close to the original dress is possible. Talk to your seamstress to see if there are any similar fabrics you can consider, such as chiffon or silk, and find out how many yards you will need to order for the finished product. Make sure you discuss whether a lining fabric is necessary as well.

Your next step is to scour local fabric stores or online shops for prints, colors and fabrics you like. Some popular resources for apparel fabric are:,,, and If you see a fabric you like, be sure to order a swatch so you can see it in person and show it to your tailor to be sure it will work for your garment. For your first experience, it’s best to stick with a solid color or a very small print - any oversized prints will be more difficult to work with and might not give you the finished look you want.

We’d love to hear from any of our readers who have successfully copied a favorite garment - what are your tips and resources?

Q. This fall, what is a good bet for a versatile jacket? I’m a lawyer but I work in an office that does not have a strict, traditional dress code. I’d like to buy something on trend that can function on weekdays and weekends.


A. Some of our favorite work-to-weekend styles this season include a belted military coat, a classic trench and a leather jacket. Here are some fall picks to wear until the cold winter temperatures arrive:

Q. I’m going to a HS reunion in an area that is beach casual. It’s a typical dinner and dancing type reunion. I want to look good, but not overdressed.

A. Want to wow everyone at your high school reunion? You can’t go wrong with a flattering, flirty dress or a sexy top worn with slim pants. Here are two looks for inspiration:


Q. I really love long double-breasted coats, but I’m worried it’ll make me shorter than I actually am. I’m Asian, short and small at 5’1. Which is the best type of everyday coat for someone of my size? If someone as short as I am were to wear such a coat, what should she wear on the lower half of her body to make her not seem so short? I’m also on a college student budget.


A. Long double breasted coats can be very difficult for petite women to wear without looking overwhelmed. A better option would be a cropped double breasted jacket or a coat that hits 1 inch above the knee or higher. Tapered, belted and empire waist styles will help define your shape and make you appear taller. The styles below are the best double breasted silhouettes for your figure, however, if you are determined to wear a long style, make sure it is cut slim to your figure (not oversized) and wear heels to elongate your legs for the best look.

Q. I have a dress that comes right above the knee and is pretty sheer. What would you suggest I wear under it? Do people still make “slips”?

slips-180.jpgA. To some, the thought of a slip sounds rather old fashioned, but it is often a necessity to wear under sheer or unlined clothing. Today’s slips offer many added benefits including shaping, slimming and smoothing your silhouette. Spanx, Sassybax and Flexees offer several shaping options from half slips to full shoulder-to-thigh slips. If you prefer a more traditional slip, there are many lightweight silky options, including some peek-a-boo slips with lacy details that are meant to be seen.

Whatever option you prefer, we recommend choosing a nude color which closely matches your skin tone so you’ll get the most wear out of it with a variety of skirts and dresses in your closet. Here are some of our favorite slips with a range of benefits and price ranges:

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