| Ask The Style Chefs: June 2011 Archives

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June 2011 Archives

Q. I’m going to a 40th birthday party at night (6:00-10:00). The invitation says ‘black tie, flip flop’ affair — at a house in Florida on the bayou. What to wear?

A. This party dress code is a new one for me, but such a fun one to tackle! Black tie and flip flops sounds like the summer answer to “creative black tie” or “denim and diamonds”. My suggestion? Throw on a pretty, summery cocktail dress with, yes, flip flops! Don’t be afraid to go for the glitz with sequins. Guys can have a lot of fun with this dress code too: a tuxedo jacket, t-shirt, and bow tie with jeans and flip flops.

Here are a few dress/flip flop combinations for you:


Q. I hate swimsuit season. I’m invited to a few pool and beach parties this summer but I absolutely loathe putting on a swimsuit for various reasons (cellulite, some unwanted pounds, etc.) What can I wear to a pool party besides a swimsuit that won’t look out of place?


A.I can definitely sympathize since I’ve never been 100% comfortable wearing a swimsuit either. However, it’s important to remind yourself that no one has the perfect body! We all wish we could be slimmer, taller, tanner, more toned, etc. It took me a while to realize that I’m my worst critic and that no one is judging me for the way I look in a swimsuit. By avoiding wearing a swimsuit, you could be missing out on a lot of fun!

The bottom line? Confidence is sexy. So if you feel good about yourself and try to push your insecurities aside, I promise you, no one will notice the few extra pounds you may have gained over the past year. That being said, there are a few things you can do to feel more confident and look your best in a swimsuit:

  1. Find the swimsuit that flatters your figure. Forget about trends, swimsuits are all about fit, so it’s important to find the right swimsuit for your figure. And don’t be discouraged if you need to try on 50 swimsuits before finding the one that works best for you, it’s worth it!
  2. Look for slimming swimsuits. Hidden tummy panels and strategically placed details can work wonders for your figure - and your confidence. Here are some chic and slimming swimsuits worth trying.
  3. Try self tanner. A little color is a great way to help camouflage cellulite, spider veins or anything else that might add to your insecurities. Here are the best self-tanners to try this summer.
  4. Wear a wedge. Heels are not a great look at the beach or the pool, but a summery wedge espadrille is the perfect way to lengthen and visually slim your legs.
  5. Wear a gorgeous cover-up. Who says you have to wear a swimsuit the whole day? Save the suit for the water and wear a chic cover-up when you’re on dry land. Skip the t-shirt and shorts and opt for a glamourous caftan, dress or tunic instead.
  6. Stand up straight. Just like your mother told you, it helps to have good posture. You’ll look taller and more slim in seconds!

Q. I bought this Robbi & Nikki dress months ago for a summer wedding. Now that the weather is warm and the wedding is approaching, I have three questions. First, what jewelry would you recommend to wear with this for the wedding? I’m not sure where to draw the line considering the beading. (Also, it’s an outdoor wedding in the country, so the dress code it somewhat fluid.) Second, for this outdoor country wedding, what kind of shoe do you recommend? No one likes to sink their stilettos in the sod. Third, I love the way this dress looks and feels, so I want to get more wear out of it. There is an anniversary party for my parents coming up later this summer, but it’s a brunch. Can I dress this down to be brunch appropriate? In these pictures they add a belt which seems to do the trick, but I wanted to know if you have any other suggestions.


A. You picked a pretty dress that can definitely be worn multiple ways. For the outdoor country wedding, you should look for gold or bronze metallic wedge to pair with your dress to keep your heels from sinking into grass or sand. Add a little color with your jewelry and handbag. Pretty earrings and a chic bracelet or cocktail ring are all that you need since a necklace would compete with the drapey neckline and beaded embellishments.

For your parents’ anniversary brunch, a pair of wedges or a heeled sandal and a belt will add daytime flair to the dress. You can also layer everything from a cardigan or blazer to a denim jacket or military vest over the dress to dress the look down even further.

Here are two looks for inspiration:

Q. I just bought a pair of brown topsiders, and I have no idea what to wear them with. I’m not actually particularly preppy, and I feel like a poser in a polo and khaki shorts… any outfit ideas I can incorporate these shoes into?

A. Boat shoes (or topsiders) are making a comeback this season, along with the ladylike loafer. Of course they look great with nautical-inspired clothing (see Blake Lively below), but the trick to wearing your new topsiders in a non-preppy way is to wear them with anything you might wear with a ballet flat: skinny or cropped pants, short skirts, and even summery dresses like the Karen Walker runway look below.


In addition to the traditional brown topsiders you bought, there are plenty of fun colors and even wedge styles available this season. Here are some of our favorite boat shoes worth trying:

Q. I just saw this picture of Michelle Williams wearing a white sundress and denim jacket. I love the entire look! Can you help me recreate it? My budget is limited, so please make it affordable.

A. Is there anything Michelle Williams doesn’t wear well? She is most definitely at the top of our list of best dressed celebs, she even manages to look great off the red carpet. This breezy look is the perfect casual summer look, right down to her ethnic woven bag. We put together a great replica using items that are each under $85. Enjoy!



Q. My husband and I are hosting a beach party for his work district at our home. Could you give me some ideas on outfits that would be appropriate and stylish for this event? I want to look pulled together, but casual, and comfortable. Maybe a casual dress and lower wedges?

A. You are most definitely on the right track! I would suggest a printed tunic, caftan or maxi dress and espadrilles or flat sandals. To me, a fun, tropical print conveys a festive, beachy theme, ideal for the host to wear. Some fun, summery jewelry and a pretty hat will complete the look. Here are some ideas for inspiration:


Q. I’m so bored with my plain black wallet. For something that I use literally every day, I want to invest in something more stylish that will make me smile every time I take it out of my handbag. Can you recommend some stylish wallets?

A. So true! For something that we use every day, surprisingly little thought goes into choosing a wallet. Of course, it must be functional and have all the right slots inside to hold all of our cards, but it should be stylish, too! We hunted down some of the best wallets around, and since it’s Cheap Chic Week at StyleBakery, many are under $100 — but I couldn’t resist sneaking in some splurges, too.


Q. I’m a recent grad, about to start a job at a company with an “office casual” dress code. I have spent the past two years interning at companies with a strict business attire dress policy, so I am having trouble figuring out what to wear on my first day. I know that the office I’ll be working at is casual enough for jeans, but I’d love to look as professional as possible without going overboard. Any tips for a first-day outfit? I’d love your help!

A.Congratulations on your new job! And lucky you for landing one with an office casual dress code. The important thing to note when dressing casually at the office is that you still want to look neat and professional. If jeans are allowed, don’t wear them with a t-shirt and flip flops! Instead, opt for “nice” jeans with a ballet flat or chic shoe and a feminine top or even a little jacket or cardigan. Even if some of your colleagues are dressed a little sloppy, you will be taken more seriously if you project a neat, stylish, professional appearance.

For the first day, it is best to dress a little nicer, perhaps a shirtdress or wrap dress and heels. Then, you’ll have the opportunity to see how the rest of the office dresses and you can adjust your look from there. Here are two looks for inspiration to wear on your first day. Good luck!


Q. I recently purchased a couple pairs of summer wide legs pants from Anthropologie (Worker Bee Trousers and Chambray Carpenter Pants) both in an ivory or beige. I’m having trouble finding the right tops that will complement them. So many of the tops have a lot of volume and length and I feel I need something a little more fitted on top for my 5’2 inch frame and wider leg pants. I am hoping to pair something with more visual interest than just a plain t-shirt. Can you give me some ideas? I love your site!


A. You’re instincts are spot on, you want to look for a fitted top to offset the volume of your pants. Try tucking in a pretty blouse or opting for one of this season’s new crop tops. A pair of wedge or chunky sandals will also help to flatter your petite frame. Here are a some ideas for inspiration:

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