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Q. I am a 28 year old from India. I feel like I am stuck in a style rut. I am 5’ 2" and weigh about 140. I have an extremely curvy body  - slim waist and "big" everything else. I want to know what are the basics I should have in my wardrobe. I have never worn a skirt or a sleeveless top before because I feel I am too fat. I want to try out something new, but I am terribly confused.
-Body Discomfort

A. Your basics are similar to most women, regardless of their size. You need a pair of jeans (look for a boot cut style), white button down shirt, v-neck sweater, black pants, a coat that hits just above the knee, and heels and boots for Fall/Winter that have a medium size heel. Dress in more monochromatic colors - same or similar colors from head to toe - to elongate your look. Skip chunky and heavy jewelry. Avoid anything with ruffles and bows or thick sweaters that may add bulk. And skip skirts that hit mid-calf you’ll only look shorter. Look for tops that hit below your waistline and embrace vertical lines in tops and pants.

Make a point of shopping in petite departments of stores and seek out designers who offer petite sizes like Liz Claiborne, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Lands End, J. Crew, Petite Sophisticate and J. Jill.

Here are a few items to consider adding to your wardrobe:

Petite Donegal Tweed Military JacketBr526769-08P01V01Petite Collection Silk Blend Box Pleat SkirtPetite animal-print skirt

1. Petite Donegal Tweed Military Jacket, $159 at lizclaiborne.com
2. Petite shawl collar sweater, $68 at bananarepublic.com
3. Petite Collection Silk Blend Box Pleat Skirt, $128 at lizclaiborne.com
4. Wear this skirt with opaque tights and solid pumps or knee high boots. It probably won’t be nearly as mini on you. You’re only 28 so don’t dress too old for your size yet. Petite animal-print skirt, $78 at bananarepublic.com

Petite Collection Embellished Voile Empire DressPetite floral faux-wrap dressPetite lightweight wool A-line dressPetite feminine military coat

5. Add a cardigan to this dress for cooler temps. The wide shoulder “straps” will hide bra straps and give your better coverage. Petite Collection Embellished Voile Empire Dress, $298 at lizclaiborne.com
6.  V-neck styles are the most flattering for busty gals. Petite floral faux-wrap dress, $128 at bananarepublic.com
7. Dare to bare your arms in this adorable dress that can work for day or evening. Petite lightweight wool A-line dress, $148 at bananarepublic.com
8. Petite feminine military coat, $228 at bananarepublic.com

Q. I love your column and thought you might have some ideas for me.  I recently moved to Brooklyn and we are pretty much here to stay. We love the city and my husband and I are both in creative fields that have a lot of opportunities here.  Problem is, I am in the process of changing careers into a creative field from a business one. Also, very soon I will be in school so funds will be limited.  I am stunned by the kinds of clothes women wear in the city and how they can afford to have these amazing budgets, look totally unique and put together. I am almost reluctant to leave my house sometimes I feel so dingy. Any pointers on how to get out of this? A bit about myself - I am a confirmed minimalist, I have a lot of black and white in my closet, I have recently purchased some yellow and green tops but I am also trying to lose some weight so I can’t really go out and buy a huge wardrobe, maybe a few pieces that will last me through my last 10 lbs.
-Fitting In

A. Stop being a scaredy cat and get out and join the locals. Embrace your minimalist style and beef it up with accessories. Wear your black and white plus those new yellow and green pieces and pair them with a new pair of boots, colorful enamel bracelets, a printed scarf and a belt that has a cool buckle. You needn’t pay big bucks for all your new wardrobe pieces.  True New York chic gals mix up a wardrobe with good quality classics, a vintage piece or two and certainly super trendy, cheap tops from H&M and Forever 21.  Plus, make a few trips a year to Century 21, Loehmanns and TJ Maxx.  We’re willing to take chances!

Take your black turtleneck sweater (which I’m sure you own) and pair it with wide leg denim trousers, a fitted jacket and high heeled boots. Pair your white button down with the same denim trousers and add a menswear vest and pumps. Take your turtleneck and wear with a black pencil skirt or A-line skirt and add a wide belt cinched at the waist. And when you’re ready to discover some new designers, stop by Bird in Brooklyn for cool labels like Lover and Karen Walker. The key is to stay comfortable and not overdone while trekking between school and your new creative infused job.

Q. I absolutely love your column on StyleBakery. Here’s my situation: I work in an office with absolutely no dress code. People wear anything from flip flops and sweat pants to traditional business casual wear. I’m a 23 year old graphic designer, and one of the youngest ones here. As I try to advance in the company, I’d like my wardrobe to reflect that I’m professional and ambitious, and still be able fit in with the VP who wears golf skirts, or the Director who wears trousers and a button-down. Any ideas?
-Office Uncertainty

A. Sweat pants at work - really?  Clearly that person would rather be home on the couch.  Don’t follow that person’s lead for wardrobe cues. You’re in a creative field where many have obviously taken liberties with no dress requirements. Avoid the influence of others’ unfashionable wardrobes and make your workplace wardrobe consistently stylish with dark denim trousers, fitted jackets, cool sweaters, a sweater dress belted at the waist, wrap dresses or comfy jersey styles and add a tweed pair of pants as well.  Looking good and getting the job done well will advance your career further than just getting the job done in sweats and flip flops.

Tees for Layering

Q. Do you have any recommendations for which stores or brands have great layering tees for fall clothes?  I have seen a lot of examples of layering thin long sleeved shirts under dresses, sleeveless sweaters, vests, etc.  Where can I find shirts thin enough that they won’t bunch up under the other pieces?
-Tees Please

A. I’m with you on avoiding bulk this Fall/Winter. Layering is key and a great way to continue wearing some Summer pieces like sheer tops and dresses. Some of my favorites include J.Crew’s tissue thin or tops with stretch, Splendid, American Apparel, and C&C California. And thankfully many of these brands are cutting longer lengths to help give coverage when paired with lowrise pants.

Long-sleeve crewneck tissue teeBaby Rib 3/4 Sleeve Boat NeckSheer Rib 3/4 Sleeve V-NeckC&C California Basic Long Sleeve TeeStretch cotton solid turtleneck tissue tee

1. Long-sleeve crewneck tissue tee, $32 at jcrew.com
2. Baby Rib 3/4 Sleeve Boat Neck, $21 at americanapparel.com
3. Sheer Rib 3/4 Sleeve V-Neck, $34 at americanapparel.com
4. C&C California Basic Long Sleeve Tee, $55 at bloomingdales.com
5. Stretch cotton solid turtleneck tissue tee, $29.50 at jcrew.com

Q. I am going to France with my girlfriends in November and trying to figure out what clothes to take with me that are comfortable for travel/exploring, but also fashionable enough that I don’t feel like a total dork in France.  And I need boots that are comfortable yet stylish and maybe the same standards for a pair of walking shoes? I am 24, so I do not have much money to spend.
-French Fashion

A. Well you certainly want to be fashionable, but not overdone.  Stick to classics and you’ll be successful in fitting in with the French. Pack thin merino or cashmere turtleneck sweaters or v-necks to layer over button down shirts. Dark jeans, denim trousers, wool-lined pants like a nubby tweed pair and a dress that can easily transition from day to evening. Layer the dress with a sweater and wide belt for day and wear alone with great accessories at night. Add a fitted stylish blazer jacket, one that isn’t meant for a suit. Pack one solid colored coat for the whole trip with a hem that hits just above or a few inches below your knee so it will work with your entire packed wardrobe. If you choose to bring an additional outerwear piece, then go with a fab leather jacket.

Keep accessories simple—leather gloves, a pretty scarf and a wrap to wear with your dress at night if it’s chilly indoors. Pack a few fun jewelry pieces like an enamel bracelet, charm or beaded necklace and an oversized ring plus a few sets of varying size earrings. You’ll need a day bag with pockets inside to carry camera, credit cards, sunglasses, etc. and a clutch for evening. And certainly get ready to treat yourself to a few items over there. While the US dollar is not strong in France, a girl has got to do a little shopping when with girlfriends!

Here are a few suggestions for your feet that will look tres chic with just about anything you pack:

'Edie' shearling-filled boot,'Stella' bootKenneth Cole Reaction Make Love

1. ‘Edie’ shearling-filled boot, $225 at bananarepublic.com
2. ‘Stella’ boot, $248 at bananarepublic.com
3. Kenneth Cole Reaction Make Love, $159 at piperlime.com

Simple, toned down “sneakers” for walking when you want to give your boots a rest. These work while athletic sneakers won’t do.

Poetic Licence Desert StarCole Haan Air Kayden SneakerCole Haan Air Keegan Slipon

4. Poetic Licence Desert Star, $70 at piperlime.com
5. Cole Haan Air Kayden Sneaker, $152.06 at zappos.com
6. Cole Haan Air Keegan Slipon, $168.95 at zappos.com

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