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Q. I’ve always been confused about the "unofficial" end of Summer, Labor Day, and the "official" end of Summer, Sept. 22nd. Do I put away all my lightweight summer whites and tropical prints and straw accessories at the beginning of the month, or can I wear them for a few more weeks? Also, what about my big white leather handbag and short off-white trench? Have these things run their course? I live in San Francisco where the warmest months of the year are generally September and October.
-Warmed Up

A. For every stylish girl, it really depends on where in the country they live.  We New Yorkers have still been sporting white cotton skirts and dresses since the temperatures are hovering in the 80s.  If you live in a city that’s succumbing to serious heat and humidity, you get a free pass to continue wearing cotton whites. And by the official end of summer, you can then pack away your tropical prints, espadrilles and straw accessories. As a San Fran resident, you can carry your handbag a little longer and as for your trench, pair it with darker colors like black and navy to give it a sophisticated look and extend the length of wearing it into Fall when afternoons and evenings turn chilly.

Q. Is it still not fashionable to wear white after Labor Day?
-Wear White

A. Take notes, ladies. Once and for all, you can wear white all year long. Wear your cotton whites until the official end of summer in late September, and in very warm locales you can stretch it even further past that date.  When the weather turns chilly, pair your white jeans with dark hued tops and turtlenecks. White jeans, a black cashmere sweater and boots worn with a trench looks super chic. Designer Michael Kors has been telling women for years to keep their white jeans accessible all year long. And once it’s cold enough that you need a jacket everyday, then turn to your “Winter” whites of wool, wool blends, cords or cashmere jackets, pants and sweaters.

Here are some winter-appropriate whites:

Scooter Brown Babydoll JacketPleated Back Funnel Neck CoatCashmere turtleneck sweater


1. Scooter Brown Babydoll Jacket, $110 at nordstrom.com
2. Pleated Back Funnel Neck Coat, $248 at bloomingdales.com
3. Cashmere turtleneck sweater, $148 at jcrew.com

Design History Bobble Stitch CardiganBeth Bowley Long Wool CardiganFavorite-fit stretch vintage trouser cords

4. Design History Bobble Stitch Cardigan, $158 at nordstrom.com
5. Beth Bowley Long Wool Cardigan, $242 at nordstrom.com
6. Favorite-fit stretch vintage trouser cords, $79.50 at jcrew.com

Q. I am quite small on top (just under b-cup) and I’m in a wedding in September. Bridesmaids will be wearing long black strapless satin gowns. I have always had trouble keeping strapless dresses up without puffing out my chest all night, and even when they are tailored just for me they still seem to fall down eventually or keep me pulling and adjusting constantly. I’m wondering if there is some kind of bra or chicken cutlet type insert that will keep my dress up and as a bonus make me look like I have more in that department as well. Many thanks!
-B-cup Bridesmaid

A. I know your annoyance first hand. I still remember raising my hands while dancing at my prom and my dress dropped down for a quick expose. Thankfully, I was speedy with my hands and no one noticed, but what a drag it can be to fidget all night.

Due to many past dress adjustments I went searching for the best strapless bras. I found three styles that work for me:

* One from Victoria’s Secret that doesn t give me any extra in the breast department, but stays in place

* For a little "somethin’ somethin’" I always reach for my Wonderbra strapless that stays in place and gives me sudden cleavage. It has built in side padding to create lift and cleavage and the interior of the bra "sticks" better to your body.

* A third option for coverage is an adhesive bra from Fashion Forms that basically sticks "chicken cutlets" onto your breasts for strapless coverage and adds a little more to your cup sie.

While you say a bra is not necessarily the answer, you may want to ask a tailor to sew a bra into the dress to help keep it up. There are also adhesive bands just like those on strapless bras that can be sewn into the top band of the dress to help stick it to your body. My other suggestion is to get matching fabric to the dress, and with the bride’s blessing, have thin spaghetti straps added to the the dress to avoid your impending concerns. Just be sure the fabric matches and it doesn’t diminish the style of the dress.

Q. I am a 20 year old going to study abroad in Italy next semester, and I will need a super warm and hopefully a very stylish coat.  I like the look of Urban Outfitters and the juniors clothing at Nordstrom.  Is there anywhere I could get a nice coat for around $200? I stumbled across your website a few days ago while doing some Google searches in my pursuit of a coat.  I am completely amazed!
-Coat Pursuit

A. You’ll have to be quite savvy in your choice when you require one coat at an affordable price for a fashion-oriented country. For a semester abroad in one of the most stylish countries on earth, you’ll need a versatile coat that moves fluidly from day to evening, from jeans to skirts. Wool is your best option for warmth and style. If you need more warmth than these coats provide, layer up underneath. You can even add a cool wide belt with some of these coats to change up the look:

GUESS? Sculpted CoatGUESS by Marciano Wool Blend Military Coat

Esprit Snap-Front Coat With Hood Lux Double Breasted Peacoat
$125.00

1. GUESS? Sculpted Coat, $148 at nordstrom.com
2. GUESS by Marciano Wool Blend Military Coat, $168 at nordstrom.com
3. Esprit Snap-Front Coat With Hood, $177.75 (sale) at macys.com
4. Lux Double Breasted Peacoat, $125 at urbanoutfitters.com

Q. I’m about to move to New York City and have been pondering what boots would be good to get for fall and winter. I need something practical (that I can walk in for long distances, possibly in inclement weather) but stylish.  I’ve liked the flat knee-high boots with rows of buttons that I’ve seen around occasionally. Any advice on where to get a solid pair for preferably under $200 dollars?
-Concerned Pedestrian

A. A high heel just won’t do for trudging around the city, whether it’s sunny or streets filled with slushy snow. Keep to a low heel or flat, buy a few pairs of cashmere blend socks to keep your feet warm and slip on a knee high pair of leather boots like the options below for under $200. If you plan to only buy one pair of boots for a New York winter, then skip trendy looks and stick with a pair that will work with many items in your wardrobe. These are cool enough for the whole boot to be seen so whether you wear your new wide length trousers over the boot or tuck your jeans or cords into the boot, these pairs are made for all day trekkin’:

Aerosoles 'Override'Kenneth Cole Reaction Buddha LugTimberland Merevesi Tall Boot

1. Aerosoles ‘Override’, $144 at aerosoles.com
2. Kenneth Cole Reaction Buddha Lug, $199.99 at shoes.com
3. Timberland Merevesi Tall Boot, $199.99 at shoes.com

Naturalizer 'Sidney'Nine West OrabellaSudini 'Throttle' Boot

4. Naturalizer ‘Sidney’, $105.99 at shoes.com
5. Nine West Orabella, $136.20 at zappos.com
6. Sudini ‘Throttle’ Boot, $199.95 at nordstrom.com

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