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Q. I’m hosting a holiday party and I’m having trouble finding the right look. I’m going to wear a dark denim jean (AG ballad). For shoes, I would like to wear a sleek pump or bootie. I can’t find a figure flattering top. (I’m short and a little curvy on the bottom). I would also consider a v neck cashmere sweater with a great statement necklace (which I don’t have either). Can you please help me pull a outfit together.

A. I host a holiday party every year and have learned a thing or two about dressing the part (sometimes the hard way). The most important thing is to be comfortable — hosting a party is hard work! Choose pieces that are chic, dressy, yet completely unfussy. You don’t want a lot of dangly bits or anything too constrictive. I also always wear something lightweight — the kitchen can get hot and there’s nothing worse than feeling warm and sweaty in a sweater or blazer.

My foolproof outfit? A pretty blouse, skinny pants or jeans and a not-too-high heel. Comfortable shoes are a must since you’ll likely spend most of the party on your feet. No need to forego heels, however, just choose a shoe that’s manageable for you. Some people can stand for hours in pointy-toe stilettos, but not me. A 3-inch heel or so is my max.

Finish your look with a sparkly holiday-worthy earring or pretty necklace that doesn’t hang too low. Here are some pieces to consider to wear with your dark denim jeans.

Q. I am attending a friend’s wedding at the end of November and I have a great dress but I’m worried about outerwear. The wedding is going to take place at a ski resort in the mountains so there’s a good chance for snow and I don’t have a dressy coat to wear to the event. This is clearly an investment piece but are there any that you could suggest on a budget? Thanks!

A. I have mixed feelings on whether one needs a dress coat in her wardrobe. Sure, it’s a nice thing to have, but is it a necessity? Not really. Presumably, you will go straight from the car to the venue where you will check your coat almost immediately upon arrival — in other words, you will spend very little time “being seen” in your coat. A classic long wool coat, especially in a dark color like black, would certainly suffice if you already have one in your closet. Another option (if you dare) is to wear a ski parka over your party dress — a favorite runway trend for designers year after year.

However, if you prefer the more traditional route of investing in a dress coat, then I would suggest a faux fur coat. It’s warm, stylish, dressy, and you can even wear it with jeans throughout the winter. Below are some faux fur options as well as some wool dress coats to try.

Q. I have so much trouble figuring out what to wear to work this time of year in between summer and fall seasons. Can you help?

A. Summer to fall transition season is tricky for everyone. Post Labor Day, our summer sundresses suddenly don’t seem appropriate, even though it might be 75 degrees out. It’s also too soon for sweaters and other fall clothes — so what’s a girl to do? Here are some ideas of what to wear to your work events in September:

In the first look, pair your floral dress worn all summer long with a lightweight blazer and pumps to perfectly bridge the gap between seasons. Another no-fail idea is a short-sleeve dress with leather detailing. Finally, cropped pants and a blouse are an easy combination worn with flats or heels; add a jacket, sweater or cardigan if the weather is cool.

Q. I’m going to a wedding on June 15 at a country B&B in Vermont. It’s a very intimate - only 30 guests - outdoor ceremony with a dinner afterward but no real “reception” or dancing. The bride said “there is no dress code” when I asked. What on earth do I wear? The B&B is kind of upscale/expensive, but she kept stressing the wedding was low key. Also, I’m bringing my 6 month old son, so I don’t want to wear anything too expensive or fine materials that would get ruined. Thank you!!

A. For a low-key summer wedding with no dress code, it’s time to bring out your prettiest little summer dress. Since it’s not black tie, or even cocktail attire, you can wear anything from a short flirty dress to a long summery maxi. Take advantage of the country outdoor/indoor setting and look for bright colors and pretty prints. A strappy sandal or wedge completes the look. Here are four dresses to inspire you.


Q. I’m a student and on a really tight budget. I want to buy a few items for spring to update my wardrobe. Can you recommend a few trendy but affordable items?

A. Absolutely! Sometimes all it takes are a few high impact pieces to freshen up your look for a new season. (Start by checking out our Spring 2013 Trend Report for an overview of what’s hot now.) We put together a 5-item shopping list to give you an instant update:


Start with a piece of statement jewelry. A colorful stone necklace like the one shown above or statement earrings will do the trick. Stripes are huge for spring and this Gap academy blazer looks great with just about anything and doubles as a light jacket.

Jeans are a mainstay for any college student; make yours printed and cropped this season for a cool update. We particularly like this soft floral pair for under $50. If you haven’t heard, leather is making a surprise appearance for spring. This vegan leather flared mini is an affordable take on the trend and perfect for date night or when you want to dress up a bit.

Sixties-inspired chunky low heels are making news this season and this pair features a gleaming silver metallic heel. Add to that a touch of chic snakeskin and you have one must-have pair of shoes.

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