| Ask The Style Chefs

ask us

( have a style question? email us )

Q. I am sending this question for my boss.  She is wearing a mid minidress and she wants to know the correct heels to wear with it.  Also, what is the lowest heel height to the maximum height that is appropriate?
-Heel Height

A. With a mini, there are plenty of options: she can wear ballet flats for a Mia Farrow in “Rosemary’s Baby” young look; or pair knee high slim boots with opaque tights; or wear peep-toes or high heels for an evening out look. If she is petite (5’3” or shorter), I would advise that she avoid heel heights over 3 inches since it will look like she’s grasping for height with a stiletto.  But generally, her heel choices will depend on what her activity is or where she’ll be going in her dress.  The more casual the plan, the lower the heel height.

Q. I recently began a new job that requires me to wear suits to work every day. Since colder weather will be approaching soon, I’m wondering what kind of a jacket is a good fit to wear on top of my suits. All of my present jackets are too small to fit over the rather bulky layers that the suit creates.
-Suit Cover

A. You’re looking for a true Fall/Winter coat that is meant to protect your clothing.  If you intend to wear pantsuits and some skirt suits five days a week, you’ll need a coat that falls past your hips to cover the suit jacket. A trench is a great option if you choose one with a zip or button-in lining.  Although a trench, even with a lining, will not keep you very warm in the middle of winter if you intend to be outside often. 

Also look for coats with a slight A-line cut to give you more room and choose one that is a size larger than your clothing since you are covering more bulk than just your body. Best chances of finding the right coat to fit over your suit is to do some shopping with your suit jacket in hand.  Fall jackets are usually lightweight wool or leather and meant for wearing over tops and thin sweaters.

Some suggestions:

Double-faced wool Bella coatCamelhair WalkerKenneth Cole REACTION Extended-Tab Coat

1. Double-faced wool Bella coat, $350 at
2. Camelhair Walker, $400 at
3. Kenneth Cole REACTION Extended-Tab Coat, $219 at

Larry Levine Double-Breasted Walker CoatLondon Fog Trapeze BalmacaanLondon Fog Long Trench Coat with Liner

4. Larry Levine Double-Breasted Walker Coat, $217.50 at
5. London Fog Trapeze Balmacaan, $198 at
6. London Fog Long Trench Coat with Liner, $158 at

Q. I need advice on warm weather career wear. I have been traveling to Florida and the Caribbean quite frequently for work lately. Being a young woman in the corporate world (I’m 23), I feel like I need to look extremely polished and professional to be taken seriously, but I don’t want to look and feel like a sweaty mess! Wearing a full suit would look a bit silly when men are usually in Tommy Bahama shirts. Any advice on what to wear in business settings for a full day in a hot and humid location? I’d love to be in tank tops and flat sandals, but that’s not an option.
-Girl Glow

A. You can still pull together a polished look sans the suit. Skip the high heels and wear lower heeled sandals so when you perspire tricky heels will be one less stress. Stylish Bermuda shorts with sandals or wedges and a stylish top that isn’t revealing has become more acceptable at the office during warm months and a skirt is always “airy” and more cooling. And since it is hot and humid, pack a few extra pieces just in case you have dinner with clients and you want to change into something fresh after getting sticky in one outfit all day. Look for short sleeve or sleeveless tops, but not tanks.

Look 1: try these feminine tops with a pleated chino skirt

Lux Ruffled Oxford BlousePrinted Laurel ruffle blouseSilk animal-print topChino A-line skirt

1. Lux Ruffled Oxford Blouse, $38 at
2. Printed Laurel ruffle blouse, $88 at
3. Silk animal-print top, $68 at
4. Chino A-line skirt, $69.50 at

Look 2: ruffle trim tops with a printed skirt

Ruffled oxford shirtLaurel ruffle blouseLiberty Fabric pop-on skirt

1. Ruffled oxford shirt, $39.50 at
2. Laurel ruffle blouse, $78 at
3. Liberty Fabric pop-on skirt, $75 at

Look 3: lightweight tops paired with Bermuda shorts

Circle Applique TopCity Stretch Shirt - Twist FrontClean pinstriped Bermuda shortsCity-fit lightweight wool twill bermuda short

1. Circle Applique Top, $68 at
2. City Stretch Shirt - Twist Front, $9.99 (sale) at
3. Clean pinstriped Bermuda shorts, $29.99 at
4. City-fit lightweight wool twill bermuda short, $98 at

Q. I’ve just taken a new position with a company that will require quite a bit of business travel. Any tips for a girl that will soon be lugging a laptop to multiple cities?
-Hotel Hopping

Ibiza Convertible Flight ToteA. I, too, am a girl on the go and have learned several ways to try to make life a little more comfortable while visiting multiple cities. Get yourself a good bag that has multiple pockets for just about everything. With pockets you’ll be able to find essentials faster. And consider skipping a leather bag since it will get scuffed up faster with all the shoving underneath the seat in front of you on the plane. I used to buy a new big bag each season at TJ Maxx or Marshalls since they have so many designer labels, but I’d be bummed when they got dirty. I have been using a travel bag from Hayden-Harnett for the last six months and it’s worked like a charm. Plus, it fits my laptop in a soft sleeve inside the bag so I don’t have to carry another bag just for my computer.

When booking hotels using online sites, request a quiet room on a high floor away from elevator. Nothing makes for a bad night sleep with an early wake up than listening to the elevator opening all night, the ice machine chugging and noise from the freeway outside your window. Also, a room on a higher floor can mean quiet and safety for a woman.

Don’t give up your workout, just find new routines to do on the road. Most hotels have fitness centers, bring along your swimsuit for a pool workout, ask the hotel for a nearby park with running trails or bring a stretch band and workout in your room and do walking lunges down the hotel hallways (I’ve gotten over the embarrassment factor).

When your meetings are over or after you’ve checked in, get out of the hotel and explore the city. This is easy when you’re doing business in a big city like San Francisco, Chicago or New York. Skip the car and walk around. Portland has the waterfront to explore, you can walk around West Hollywood in LA, get a cupcake at Toast, shop the boutiques on Third Ave and hike in Runyon Canyon or head to the fisherman’s wharf in Seattle and try several food options from various vendors and stop by the aquarium. The point is, don’t get stuck in your hotel room every time. It’s inevitable in some cities when you’ll have to do with room service and the TV, but if you can get to a local restaurant, then indulge that time with a good book. If you’ll be choosing from the room service menu, then check to see if the hotel has any restaurants on the property and you can usually choose from their menu, but have it delivered as room service. I’ve indulged that way several times at the Grand Hyatt in Tampa Bay from Armani’s and Oyster Catchers restaurants.

As for traveling on the plane, comfort is crucial. I usually wear the same “uniform” which consists of a stylish t-shirt or button down, pants or dark jeans, a sweater or cardigan (usually thin cashmere), a wrap that works double duty as a blanket and flats or cute kicky sneakers. And I have a blow-up neck roll since it takes up no space in my bag rather than lugging a stuffed one. Always have a good book, paperback is lighter, and a rotating menu of magazines. I’m always tearing out pages of decorating ideas, restaurants to try and a new pair of shoes or jacket to track down. While I have the new iPhone which has helped my business needs tremendously and means I can listen to music without bringing my iPod, I also bring my Archos video recorder. It’s a slightly larger screen than my iPhone and I can download multiple movies and TV shows to watch when my book bores me and the flight seems endless.

Q. I am going to my High School 10th Year Reunion. The theme is Havana Nights (we are in Miami, FL). I am 5’0”, plus sized and 28 yrs. old. My biggest issue is my abs. Empire cut dresses make me feel and look pregnant - it seems these are the only options of dresses cut for plus sized women I’ve found. I am Hispanic and short.
-Dress Crave

A. There’s no reason you can’t samba in style. While many designers are offering empire cut dresses and not just for plus size this season, there are still many options that will offer you a more flattering fit. Look for dresses that have wide banded waist areas or wide belts. And don’t forget the waist “flattening” capabilities of shapewear to help create a smooth illusion and a better fit of the dress. Check out some of these dresses to look hot and sassy at Havana nights from, and

Future Floral Dress by Mlle GabrielleMadeline Rainbow Peacock Dress by Monif CFirst Blush Dress by Blue Plate

Lifes A Beach Dress
by Donna RiccoBorder Print DressRuched Surplice Dress

left to right:
1. Future Floral Dress by Mlle Gabrielle, $48 at
2. Madeline Rainbow Peacock Dress by Monif C, $238 at
3. First Blush Dress by Blue Plate, $54 at
4. Lifes A Beach Dress by Donna Ricco, $138 at
5. Border Print Dress, $59 at
6. Ruched Surplice Dress, $116 at

get the scoop

subscribe to our free weekly email! rss feed follow us on Twitter! Like us on Facebook! Follow us on Pinterest!

like us on facebook!

subscribe + win


Around the Web: