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Q. Can you please help me with what to match with a straight black (plain) dress that I am wearing to a friend’s “Second Annual Tea Party.” The dress has a wide black belt, and I would like to know if red shoes would match well or if I should stick to black. Also, I’d like to find a cute hat to match, but am not sure about what colors to include in the hat - I don’t think wearing ALL black is what I want.

As for the gloves, I will probably wear black lace or shear gloves, but have no idea what length would be best. The dress is sleeveless. Do you have any suggestions? It would be much appreciated.

A. Adding color is a must. Red heels or sandals would help give the outfit a little “kick” whereas wearing all black would appear quite somber for a girly tea party. Sandals or pumps in just about any color or pattern will help lift the black. As for a hat, it suddenly is becoming harder to find a cute hat when stores are beginning to fill up with Fall clothes and accessories, but a wide brimmed straw hat with a pretty ribbon will do the trick. Or skip the hat and choose a headband in a pattern that can pick up the color of the shoes and break up the monotony. As for gloves, stick to wrist length styles since it is a day event and opera length or 3/4 are meant for dressier occasions.

Eric Javits Squishee® Straw Cap L Erickson Wrap Link Headband
Cotton-gathered headband 63325 Na6488

left to right:
1. Eric Javits Squishee® Straw Cap, $150 at
2. L Erickson Wrap Link Headband, $45 at
3. Cotton-gathered headband, $19.50 at
4. Classic straw hat, $49.50 at - add a colorful solid or print wide ribbon

Q. What should my 26 year old son wear to a beach wedding in San Diego?
-Beach Boy

A. Beach weddings are generally a more casual, colorful affair and men should avoid dark colors. Best looks are khaki, cream or tan lightweight dress pants or linen pants worn with a colorful button down shirt. He can wear a full light colored lightweight suit or linen sport coat with a colorful shirt and tie (or no tie), but he may be hot at the beach. And consider wearing nice leather thong sandals to maneuver through the sand. If the reception heads indoors, then have a pair of dress shoes to change into.

Ppolo2-3495016 Standard V330Ppolo2-3421495 Standard V330

left to right:
1. Classic-Fit Pinpoint Oxford, $49.99 (sale) at
2. Classic-Fit Gingham Poplin, $79.99 (sale) at
3. Façonnable Long Sleeve Classic Fancy Poplin Check Shirt, $125 at
4. Slim fit stretch poplin dress shirt, $59.50 at

Q. I am seeing a lot of patent shoes for the Fall. I always thought patent shoes were only for Spring and Summer. What’s the best way to wear them? And, can I wear my red patent peep toes into September?
-Patent Potential

A. Patent leather shoes, accessories and even clothing with patent embellishments are a huge trend that continues into Fall. It escaped the “only wear” in Spring and Summer several years ago and now there are countless stylish options to wear all year long. So wear your peep toes this Fall and pair them with opaque tights when the temperature dips. And check out these shoes to shine in this Fall:

Stuart Weitzman
ChatupVince Camuto Heaven

Jessica Simpson 'Thalia' Bootie AK Anne Klein Willa

left to right:
1. Stuart Weitzman Chatup, $280 at
2. Vince Camuto Heaven, $125 at
3. Jessica Simpson ‘Thalia’ Bootie, $118.95 at
4. AK Anne Klein Willa, $79 at

Q. I could really use your help, my dear hubby is dragging me to a work event where he will be receiving an honor. Attire is “party elegant or business casual” and there will be cocktails followed by a sit-down dinner and “recognition presentations.” Can you translate? I feel like a sundress won’t quite cut it, but can I get away with a nice heavier knit skirt and a dressy sweater? And more importantly, what should my hubby wear? Help! My work is very casual and I don’t know what to do at a fancy corporate event like this!
-Business Befuddled

A. Well, you’re certainly excited about the night out. The term “party elegant” and “business casual” do mean different clothing suggestions. Since your hubby is being recognized, his best look would be to wear a suit or a sport jacket and pants. And since you’ll be on his arm all evening you need to compliment the look of your man receiving recognition even if you expect to be bored. A sundress sounds too cutesy, but a dress without spaghetti straps or a skirt and dressy top will certainly fit the evening dress code(s). And wear heels or strappy sandals with a heel.

Q. I am getting ready to go to college next month and I need to buy a backpack. I haven’t used a backpack for a very long time and I want it to be unique and stylish, but am having a hard time finding just that. Can you help me find a cute backpack? And preferably for under $200.
-Soured Search

A. There are plenty of backpack choices under $200 as long as you don’t need a top designer name or all leather. In fact, Jansport offers endless prints and patterns for the same style backpack at Kudos to you for looking for a way to keep the weight of your books distributed on your shoulders. There are basic flap or multi zip styles and some even come with pockets and attachments for an iPod plus drawstring top packs. If you’re still not satisfied, look for a large messenger bag.

Perlina Handbags
Duplex BackpackJansport
Big StudentBillabong Audry Backpack

Urboe 07High Sierra MiaBellino Luciano Backpack

left to right:
1. Perlina Handbags Duplex Backpack, $217.95 at
2. Jansport Big Student, $43.95 at
3. Billabong Audry Backpack, $39.50 at
4. OGIO Urboe 07, $63.95 at
5. High Sierra Mia, $26.99 at
6. Bellino Luciano Backpack, $66.60 at

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