| Ask The Style Chefs: May 2012 Archives

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May 2012 Archives

Q. This season’s maxi dresses look so fun and comfortable, but at 5’3”, they usually overwhelm my frame. Any suggestions for wearing the maxi dress trend this summer without wearing 6” heels or looking like I’m drowning in fabric?

Q. Could you suggest a casual maxi dress for me. I’m petite 5’1 (2/4 on top 4/6 on bottom). Most maxis that I am finding have large prints or are shapeless.

A. There’s no avoiding the fact that maxi dresses are a huge trend again this year. Stores are filled with racks of maxis in a variety of silhouettes and prints. The good news is, there is a maxi out there to suit every figure, even petite women. Case in point? It’s arguable that petite celebs Nicole Richie and Mary Kate Olsen, both 5’1” tall, are largely responsible for the popularity of the maxi dress over the past few years.


Here are some tips for finding the right style maxi for your petite figure:

  • Look for maxi dresses that are suitable for your proportions. Petite departments are a good place to start, otherwise you may be forced to shorten the length of your dress.
  • Avoid overly voluminous styles, too much fabric will overwhelm your figure. Instead, look for lean styles.
  • Choose maxi dresses that are fitted at the top and empire waist. This will help elongate your lower half, making you appear taller.
  • Generally, monochrome colors or small prints and patterns are most flattering for petites, though some larger scale patterns may work.
  • Whenever possible, wear a wedge (even a small one) for a little added height.

Here are some maxi dresses that are suited to petite figures:


Q. I have a pool party coming up in a few weeks and I am super uncomfortable about wearing a swimsuit in front of everyone. I don’t plan on swimming, so can I get away with just wearing cute shorts and a top or a little sundress?

A. Absolutely! A casual sundress or maxi dress with sandals or shorts and a top with wedges are perfect clothing options if you prefer not to wear a swimsuit. Another option is to wear a swimsuit with one of this season’s must-have tunics or a pretty kaftan on top - even if you never remove your cover-up, you’ll still look “ready” for the pool. Here are some looks for inspiration:


Q. I was invited to a Memorial Day bbq party. The dress is casual, but I’m pretty insecure about my legs. What do you suggest I wear that is appropriate for the summery outdoor event that hides my legs? I don’t want to look overdressed or out of place.

A. Don’t fret! There are plenty of casual summer looks that don’t require shorts or short dresses. Lucky for you, the maxi has never been hotter, which means there are a multitude of maxi skirts and dresses available in every price point, and for every style. Pair a maxi skirt with a tank top, t-shirt, or even a little denim jacket if the weather is chilly. Or, opt for an easy maxi dress in solids or prints. If a maxi isn’t your thing, opt for slim white pants or cropped pants in a pretty print or color paired with the top or tunic of your choice. The good news is, you can look great and enjoy yourself while keeping your legs under wraps!


Q. I know shorts are a big trend this season, and I really love the look of shorts and a blazer. Can I wear it to my corporate casual office?

A. Shorts used to be a big no-no in the office, but relaxed rules of corporate dressing combined with increasingly chic ways to wear shorts have made it a feasible option for some. Here are some tips for determining whether you can wear shorts to work or not:

1. Check the office dress code - If you work in a corporate casual or creative work environment, shorts are more likely to be allowed. Forget about it for a conservative office.

2. Choose the right shorts - Look for shorts that have a more tailored appearance with a dressier fabric. No denim, cut-offs, or anything that looks too casual. If you’d wear them to the beach, forget it.

3. Choose the right length - The same way you wouldn’t wear a super short mini skirt to work (we hope), your shorts shouldn’t be too short or too tight.

4. Pair with dressier items - A blouse, crisp button down, or blazer will elevate the look of your shorts to make them more work-appropriate. No tank tops or strapless tops.

5. Choose the right shoes - A wedge, heel or flat is perfect. Avoid something too bare or beachy, and no flip-flops - ever.

Q. I recently got a job as a full time photographer at a large company. The dress code here is ‘corporate casual’ which means jeans are only acceptable on Fridays. This is a problem for me — as a photographer, I’m often climbing on stepladders, lugging around equipment, crawling around on the floor… I need to be able to move in my clothes, and pretty dresses and heels are not gonna cut it. I end up wearing black pants and various shirts/blouses every day, and it’s so boring! Do you have any suggestions how to inject some style into my life, while still being able to get the job done? Any wardrobe suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated!


A. For the warmer months ahead, I suggest investing in several pairs of slim cropped (capri) pants in a variety of colors and prints. J. Crew cafe capri pants are a personal favorite, they fit great and come in a variety of prints like leopard and polka dot as well as ultra bright, pale, and neutral solids. Cropped pants are really versatile and can be paired with summer weight sweaters, cardigans, little jackets, blouses, button downs and dressy tees. Even better, they can be worn with flats, wedges and pumps.


Bold prints make for fabulous bottoms, so try out unique motifs this season.

It's time to pack your suitcase and head to the shore. These warm-weather goods will carry you through the season in style.

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