| Ask The Style Chefs: September 2010 Archives

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September 2010 Archives

Q. I am a 58 year young woman and will soon be going out on the town with some people I do not know that well. We are planning an overnighter in NYC to take in some music and cocktails etc. The couple we are going with are younger than we are. I want to look stylish and age appropriate. I am plus size while the young lady is svelte. Needless to say I am a bit insecure about my figure. I would love help! Advice I have been getting ranges so much that I do not know which way to turn. (from jeans to leggings, flats to heels etc.)

0451797353099R__ASTL_300x400.jpgA. Sounds fun! For your night out in NY city, I would recommend a chic great-fitting dress. With a dress, you don’t need to worry about coordinating your top with your bottom, so all you need to focus on is shoes, bag and jewelry to look stylish and put together. Pair your dress with pumps or knee boots, whichever you feel most comfortable in, though I would definitely recommend a heel instead of a flat. Wear opaque tights or bare legs, whichever you prefer. Here are two looks for inspiration:

Q. I just bought a pair of leopard print shoes, and I need help! Other than a white shirt and black pants, what do I wear them with?

A. Leopard flats are a serious favorite of mine, so you’re asking the right girl! Over the years, I have collected no less than 6 variations of the leopard flat. I wear them with literally everything. They do look good with black and white as you mentioned, but they also look great with denim, red, camel, olive green, purple, orange, jewel tones… in fact, I can’t think of many colors a leopard print doesn’t go with.

This season, I’m particularly loving leopard prints paired with military-inspired pieces like cargo pants in khaki or olive green. I also love them worn with a ladylike camel coat or camel sweater and a pair of dark jeans.

The bottom line? Don’t feel boxed in to wearing your leopard with just black and white, they work with just about any color in your fall wardrobe!


Q. I am searching for a pair of control top leggings. I have plenty of regular leggings but have recently gained weight and would like to minimize my newly acquired hips, thighs and stomach. I have searched the internet but am having a hard time finding a pair that is not for maternity and not $100. Do you have any suggestions?

A. There are several control top and shaping leggings available, including denim leggings. Here are some of our top choices, from $29 to $76 at

Lisse Leggings: Shaping Control Top Leggings
Shape fx: Tummy Control Skinny Leggings
Miraclebody: Denim Shaping Leggings
Yummie Tummie: Knitted Shaping Leggings

Q. Are cargo pants in or over for the fall? If they are passe, is there something that has replaced them?


A. You will be thrilled to know that the military trend is marching right into fall, and that includes cargo pants. Whether you bought a pair of skinny cargo pants or a silky relaxed pair this summer, or are interested in investing in a few new pairs for fall, there are several ways to wear them this season.

Try pairing skinny cargo pants with a draped tank or t-shirt and a strong blazer. Finish the look with ankle booties or a platform pump. If you prefer a looser fitting cargo, look for one in a slinky knit or silky fabric which gives them a dressier appearance. Pair it with a slim fitting top and a this season’s must-have desert boot or lace-up bootie for a modern military look for fall.

Here are a few images for inspiration (click on each image to shop the look):

Q. I have a problem finding knee high boots because my feet are disproportionate to my body. Although I stand at 5’9, my feet are a size 7. This means that any knee high boots I try on are too small to zip around my calves. The other issue is that I’m only 24 and most of the wide calf boots I’ve found are matronly. Are there any boots out there offered in wide calf sizes that are also fit for a 24 year old?

A. There’s no need to sacrifice style when searching for a wide calf boot. Here are several different styles that we’re loving this season, all with a generous calf width:


Q. I really love the full skirt trend for fall but thus far, have been challenged to find affordable renditions of Louis Vuitton’s gorgeous silk and wool skirts. Any suggestions for finding wallet-friendly skirts and for keeping the look a bit more modern than ’50s?

A. Calf-grazing skirts ruled the Louis Vuitton runway for fall, as well as several other designers’ shows. Long and full, there is most definitely a ’50s influence to this skirt style. To give the look a modern spin, pair it with a simple, minimal top, or a sharp fitted jacket. Pumps, kitten heels or even flats are the ladylike shoe of choice to finish the look. Be sure to choose a hem length that flatters your leg, showing off the slimmest part of your calf and ankle.


Here are some budget friendly long full skirts to try this season:

Q. I will be traveling to Italy this November, spending time in Florence and Rome. Mindful of keeping room in my luggage to bring back lots of goodies, I am struggling with what to pack. So far, I purchased these boots and I am interested in building a number of looks (casual and slightly more dressy) around them. I hope to avoid looking like a typical tourist (jeans and tennis shoes). I am petite (5’2” and 110 lbs.) and am comfortable in most colors. Please share some suggestions for affordable outerwear (light-to-medium weight), pieces for layering, and what kind of pants/leggings to wear.

A. Your boots were a great purchase - comfortable and chic. To coordinate with your boots, your best bet is to pack a few pairs of skinny jeans and leggings to pair with some mix and match pieces to layer on top. Pack a leather jacket and a scarf and you should be ready for any weather. Add a cute day-to-evening dress that works with your boots and you’ll be set.

Here are some pieces in a neutral palette that will help you to create several different looks. The knit dress can be worn with bare legs or tights, or wear it as a sweater with the jeans and leggings. Add a belt over the dress and cardigans to vary the look:

Q. Once again I revisit an issue I deal with every winter. After enjoying sixty or so pairs of sandals in the warmer months, I find myself limited with just a couple of pairs of shoes during the winter. I am not talking about special occasions, just the everyday, work, running around, comfortable but good looking (heeled) shoes. Even though I live in a somewhat mild climate, we still face many days of cold and rain and need to keep our toes warm. When it’s miserable outside and I put on yet another pair of black or dark pants, the natural choice is black shoes. As I find most closed toe shoes uncomfortable (too narrow, toe box too low) and comfort shoes are flat and frumpy I am thinking of another solution. Since peep toes of every style are so abundant right now, how about wearing them with tights of the same color?

I love shoes, but find winter so uninspiring. Would you please offer some solutions as well as more color options for the lower half that are more exciting than black?

A. You’re in luck, this season brings with it some fun and exciting new shoe trends, as well as some great neutral alternatives to black. Here are some of our favorite trends to liven up your fall/winter shoe wardrobe:

Peep-toe ankle boots - The perfect answer to changeable temperatures is the peep-toe ankle boot. Wear it with everything from skinny jeans to a dress. When the temperature is chilly, opt for tights or hosiery in a similar hue to your boots.

Suede desert boots - My personal favorite of the new fall trends, the updated version of the classic desert boot comes complete with chunky heels, comfortable wedges and even platforms. Opt for an earthy color like olive green, smokey gray or neutral camel as the perfect alternative to your usual black. The best part about this shoe is its versatility: it looks great with bare legs and a dress or skirt, tights and a dress or skirt, and of course pants and jeans.

Biker boots - A low heeled motorcycle-inspired boot is the ultimate in comfort (no concern for narrow toe box here). Try them with leggings, skinny jeans, a dress or a skirt. Black, brown and even gray are the colors of choice.

Flats - Whether rounded or pointy toe, girly flats continue as a foot friendly, yet stylish, option. Try an animal print or rich fall color as an alternative to black to liven up your dark pants.

Q. I am in love with the socks and heels trend, but I just don’t know if I can pull it off! I don’t want to look like someone wearing socks and sandals (a definite fashion faux pas), but most of the women I’ve seen sporting the trend have looked fabulous! What do you think? Is it worth trying and how do you suggest going about it?

A. We’re loving this trend this season also (check out this recent post in StyleBakeryTeen), but it can be a bit tricky to pull off. Keep in mind that wearing socks will visually cut off your legs, so if you’re not willing to lose a few inches of leg height, this trend may not be for you. Here are a few tips for successfully wearing socks with heels:

  • Choose thin socks made with a nylon blend. Cotton socks tend to be too thick and can stretch out or sag.
  • Make sure the top of the socks hit at a slim part of your ankle or calf for the most flattering look.
  • The easiest way to wear the look is to match your sock color to your shoe color.
  • Your skirt or dress hem should be short - mid thigh or higher.

A good pair of socks is a fairly inexpensive investment, so this is an easy way to experiment with your fall look. Have fun with it!

Here is some styling inspiration from a recent J Crew catalog:


Some celebrity inspiration courtesy of Rihanna and Leighton Meester:

photos courtesy of and

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