| Ask The Style Chefs: January 2012 Archives

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January 2012 Archives

Q. I walk to work every day in NYC and it can get pretty chilly! I’m tired of arriving at the office with hat hair, can you recommend some hats that won’t ruin my hair?

A. Look no further than a chic beret. Besides looking super cute, this classic hat style has minimal contact with your hair, so there’s less of a chance you’ll end up with flat, limp hair when you take it off. If static-y flyaways are a concern, stash a dryer sheet in your bag and lightly rub it over your hair to remove the static.

If berets aren’t your thing, earmuffs are the perfect hair-saving option and there are tons of cute faux fur styles available right now.

Q. I’m a size 16/18 and looking to add some stylish (but flattering) dresses to my work wardrobe. I work at a very fashionable P.R. firm, so I’m looking for dresses that are on-trend, not the usual plus size frumpiness I see everywhere. I love color and prints, can you give me some options?

A. Absolutely! There’s no reason why plus size women should have to settle for boring or frumpy. I found some really stylish work dresses for you at Here are some of my favorites, but it’s worth checking out their full selection:


Q. I have read over and over again that straight leg style jeans (without whiskering) are the most flattering jeans for most figures. I’m having a difficult time identifying a true straight leg jean, one that goes straight down from the widest part of the hip and does not taper. All the straight leg styles look skinny or tapered, which I don’t think would flatter my curves. Can you recommend a true straight leg jean!

A. Straight leg jeans can be flattering, but it is often said that a bootcut jean is the most flattering jean. However, a straight leg offers a fine balance between bootleg and skinnies, offering a sleek look. If flattery is what you are after, a dark wash (yes, without whiskering or distressing) is your best option. I love my Levi’s Curve ID straight leg jeans - they are a true straight leg and are super flattering and comfortable. Even better, they offer custom curve fits based on your unique proportions.

Q. I keep hearing that pastel colors are a trend for spring, does that mean I can’t wear all the bright colors and neon shades from last year?

A. Yes, delicate pastel hues are going to be big for spring 2012 in a way that they haven’t for several years. Look for soft sherbet colors like mint green and pale pink to add a sweet touch to your wardrobe. The good news is, bright colors, and yes, even fluorescents, will continue to be hot through 2012. In other words, when it comes to color, anything goes.


From the soft pastel hues seen at Chanel, Phillip Lim and Marc Jacobs to the
bold bright color at Nanette Lepore and Jason Wu, expect spring to bring the full color wheel for 2012.

Q. I received a brown sleeveless vest cardigan sweater for Christmas from my mother-in-law. I really like it, but I am having trouble figuring out what to wear under it. Please help!

A. There are a number of ways to wear your sweater vest. For underpinnings, look for jersey long sleeve tops and turtlenecks or silk and cotton button downs. If your vest is chunky or oversized like the options below, be sure your underpinning has a slim fit. You can wear your vest loose and open or style it with a skinny or wide belt. Have fun with this versatile piece!


Q. Is the military trend still in style? I have some great military jackets from last year and I’m not sure if I can still wear them.

A. Military is one of those trends that seems to be around every season in one form or another, so you’ll be happy to know that military is indeed still in style and will stick around for spring and summer as well. Look for military shirts and jackets as well as brass buttons, buckles and other military details.


Here are a few pieces to add to your wardrobe now:

Q. What accessories (jewelry, bag) should I wear with a black cocktail dress and silver sequin shoes? The cocktail dress has a round neck with a V neck in the back and black soft ruffle down the front.

A. The simple answer would be to suggest silver and black accessories, which would look lovely and chic. However, a black dress and silver shoes also offer the perfect opportunity to incorporate a pop of color. Here are a few suggestions for you to mix and match as you please:


Q. I want to purchase the Tape Yarn Pullover (in Ivory) from Anthropologie, but I really don’t know what to wear under it, or how to accessorize it. It has a loose, airy weave so I’m not sure what works! Please help!

A. Your best bet is to wear a white or ivory tank or camisole underneath, thought it’s not the warmest look for winter. You could also experiment with a colored tank, like the neon yellow option below, for a fun look. Another option is to wear it over a button down shirt or blouse so the collar and cuffs peek out.


Q. I was wondering about boot height (shaft height, not heel) to body proportions. Should shorter people avoid shorter (mid-calf/ankle) boots? If you are bottom heavy/athletic build, is it better to go with either really short, or really tall boots (eg knee or over-the-knee height)? I have a range of boots that vary in shaft height, and I’ve got thicker legs and find that mid-calf/lower boots make me look shorter/thicker waist down. Is that always the case, or am I just not doing it properly? I tend to wear all these boots with skinny jeans.


A. That is a great question! I’ve touched a little upon choosing the right shaft height for petite women in the past, but here is a more detailed primer on choosing the right boot for your figure. First, a lesson on boot shafts:

Boot shaft: This is the part of the boot that covers your legs.

Shaft height: The height of the shaft is measured from the inside seam of the boot where it meets the sole up to the top of the shaft.

If figure flattery is your primary goal when purchasing a boot, the key is to find a boot that hits just at the top of the fullest part of your calf, leaving a couple of inches between the top of the boot and your knee (depending how tall you are). If your calves are very full, a boot that hits mid-calf will draw attention to the fullest part of your lower leg, while one that hits just at the top of the calf will emphasize the slimmest part of your leg right below your knee. For petite women, a boot shaft that comes right up to your knee will effectively chop your legs in half, making you appear shorter, while a boot that hits an inch or more below your knee will make your legs appear longer.

There are, of course, exceptions to the above rule based on your body shape or boot type (for instance, a petite woman may be able to wear a tall boot shaft if the boot also has high heels, or a woman with full calves may be able to wear a mid-calf boot if she has long legs), but this is a great way to help determine your boot shaft “sweet spot”. To find your sweet spot, measure the length from your instep (the top of the foot, not your arch) to the top of the fullest part of your calf, this will be the shaft height you should aim for.

For ankle boots, a woman with fuller calves, an athletic build, or petite legs should look for low ankle boots that hit below the ankle bone and dip down on the instep for the most flattering look.

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