| Ask The Style Chefs

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Q. I love your website. I have gotten rid of a lot of things in my closet and seriously need to build a new wardrobe. I was wondering what basic pieces I need to have. If you could add a section to your site that shows great basic finds would be great. I am a curvy petite.
-Shapely Figure

A. First off, make it simple and shop from designers that cater to your size so you don’t have to spend even more money heading to the tailor. offers pants in both petite regular and petite short, plus stylish dresses, suits, tops and more. J. Crew, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Liz Claiborne, Gap and Jones New York also make petite sizes.

The classic list of items every woman should have in her wardrobe hasn’t changed much in 25 years, but it’s what you add in that injects your own personality. It can mean colors that brighten or deepen your skin tone, tops with added details or accessories that help liven up a white button down.

I consider the top 10 classics to be:

  1. Well fitting white button down shirts.
  2. Long sleeve and short sleeve shirts, primarily v-neck which is most flattering.
  3. Trench coats. For your size be sure it doesn’t overwhelm your height. Look for belted versions to help define your waist and a style that you can wear with suits, dresses and jeans. A truly versatile style will also have a zip out or button out wool lining.
  4. Black pants. Nowadays, it’s also good to have navy, chocolate, khaki and white for choices all year.
  5. Dark denim jeans. A pair that can be dresses up with heels for evening and ballet flats to run around doing errands.
  6. Turtleneck, v-neck and cardigan sweaters in black and other various colors.
  7. One good suit, but if your career doesn’t require a suit, then just buy a good blazer that you can pair with trousers and jeans. It is a polished look to wear a button down shirt, blazer and dark jeans.
  8. Dresses. Go for a wrap style and a v-neck dress that is fitted on the top half and has an a-line bottom half.
  9. Skirts. For a curvy, petite figure look to score a-line shapes and avoid full skirts and straight up and down pencil styles.
  10. Additional tops that have flirty features, but are not laden with ruffles and bows. Too many girly features on a petite figure can make you appear like a little girl rather than a woman.

Q. Stumbled onto your web page while looking for a jean jacket for my wife.  She had this beautiful Gap cropped, longer sleeved jean jacket with pearl snap buttons and a paisley cotton inside liner (size M) w/ 1969 collection logo on it. I think it may have been a special edition because it cost around $160 and most items don’t cost that much from the Gap. It has since torn and I want to replace it as a gift but can’t find it anywhere.  Do you know where I can buy or locate this jacket?  I contacted Gap and they said they don’t make it any more.  Need help.  Would pay almost anything.
-Pulling Threads

A. No slam dunk on this one, sorry.  My search came up empty, but you may have better luck finding a gently worn replicate on ebay. If the jacket cannot be repaired by a tailor and you’ve exhausted your search, then it’s time to shop for a new jean jacket. This is not necessarily the prime time for jean jacket shopping season, but I did find some styles that may appeal to your wife.

Lauren Jeans Co. Classic-Fit Denim JacketLucky Brand Jeans Denim Dark Wash Jacket82535 Bl8821 M Hol07Ppolo2-4114573 Alternate4 V330

1. Lauren Jeans Co. Classic-Fit Denim Jacket, $109 at
2. Lucky Brand Jeans Denim Dark Wash Jacket, $45.99 at
3. Classic stretch jean jacket, $98 at
4. Tamara Denim Jacket, $109 at

Q. I read your advice religiously, but I’ve never had an opportunity to ask a question myself.  Now I have a rather important one.  I’m a 21-year-old medical student about to begin my clinical rotations in New York hospitals, so I’m finally expected to dress the part of a respectable physician.  As a student, I’m effectively broke, making finding nice looking suits rather difficult.  I’m 6 feet tall, usually a size 8 in jeans, with a DD bust, so I’m also rather proportionately odd.  Do you have any suggestions as to where I can find suits worth investing in?  What type of work wear ought I be seeking out in order to look my best?  
-Clinically Confused

A. On an “effectively broke” budget, it may be smart to buy two suits and then invest in separates like skirts, pants and jackets that can be swapped with other pieces. Add in some well fitting button down shirts that keep your look crisp and professional plus some good sweaters.  You’re a 21-year-old doctor that will probably be wearing a doctor’s coat over your clothes, so a suit jacket may not be necessary everyday. I looked for suits and some additional pieces that will help give you a look of a respectable professional and kept it all under $250.

Start with a two-option suit consisting of a tailored jacket, great fitting pants and a slim skirt. In addition to your two suit choices, you can wear any of the 3 pieces as separates paired with other items in your wardrobe. This will be your biggest investment.

90804 Wb4628 M Hol0790807 Wb4628 M Hol0786013 Bk0001 M Hol07

Super 120s collection from, available in several colors and sold as separates ranging from $118 to $240.

Add in some stylish knits to layer over crisp shirts to pair with your pants and skirts. The shirts can be worn alone as well.

Slim stretch shirtBCBG Max Azria Empire Waist Smocked TopShort-sleeve chainlink blouse

Cotton short-sleeve darted blouse3/4 Sleeve Puff CardiganWool Lycra Crepe Collared Pullover

1. Slim stretch shirt, $59.50 at
2. BCBG Max Azria Empire Waist Smocked Top, $145 at
3. Short-sleeve chainlink blouse, $68 at
4. Cotton short-sleeve darted blouse, $58 at
5. 3/4 Sleeve Puff Cardigan, $88 at
6. Wool Lycra Crepe Collared Pullover, $158 at

Closet Clean Up

Q. I need your advice. I’m in the middle of purging my closet of outdated fashion styles I’ve had since 2005. I am a 29-year old female. I would like to know if peasant skirts are items to be kept or thrown out. I currently own a white-tiered peasant skirt among several others. Also, I’m wondering if I need to add my denim and black tailored gauchos to the "junk" pile.
-Clear Out

A. Fashion is cyclical. Eventually, everything makes a comeback. Just cut down on how many items from several years ago you intend to save and of course they need to be in good condition. I suggest you keep only one item of those trends since it’s not like a Diane Von Furstenberg patterned wrap dress that was big in the ’70s and still strong for the last eight or more years.

The white-tiered peasant skirt will work with tanks tops, flip flops and a swimsuit at the beach next summer or while on vacation somewhere hot and sunny. Less scrutiny at the beach than on a city street. Toss the other skirts, when the trend comes back in full swing you’ll surely find new versions you prefer. As for the guachos, I’m skeptical on a reason to keep them. True gauchos are wide leg and almost resemble the flow of a skirt, they are not slim like cropped pants. I have owned gauchos, first as a kid, then once again a denim pair about four or five years ago. I no longer have them. Gauchos require solid style attitude. So if they look good on you and you can’t bear to donate them, then fold them, store them and wait for the fashion resurrection a few years from now.

Q. I have recently discovered your website and I love it! As a stay-at-home mom of 3, it’s hard to stay connected to the world of fashion.  When dealing with kids, I find it much easier to use a purse with an extra long strap so I can wear it crossed over my torso.  This may not be the style right now but it makes my life easier when I don’t have a bag falling (or being pulled) off my shoulder.  The problem is that it is really hard to find a stylish purse that can work this way.  I never have time to change out my purse, so I need one that will work for day and evening.  I’m also on a pretty tight budget.  I would really appreciate any suggestions you have!
-Strap On

A. Usually all that we carry in our bags during the day isn’t needed for a night out. However, for your specific needs, I found shoulder bags with an additional strap to wear like a messenger bag by day so you can be hands free and still stylish enough to head out in the evening. You just may have to cut back on stuffing essentials for the kids in the bag as well.

Big Buddha Groupie BagPerlina Spare Change Round ShopperXhilaration® Large Tote Bag - Black Geo Flower

1. Big Buddha Groupie Bag, $84 at
2. Perlina Spare Change Round Shopper, $210 at
3. Xhilaration® Large Tote Bag - Black Geo Flower, $8.99 at

Xhilaration® Tote Bag - Gold Matte Circles Eileen West Italian Garden Satchel

4. Xhilaration® Tote Bag - Gold Matte Circles, $9.99 at
5. Eileen West Italian Garden Satchel, $268 at

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