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Q. I’m going to South Beach, Miami for a week in August and I wanted some tips on what to wear around shops during the day, to the beach, and to dinner/bars in the evenings. I’m 21 years old, 5’3, and 125 lbs and usually shy away from crazy patterns. I want to look fresh! The big problem is that I’m on a college student’s budget…any ideas?
-Young and Style Uncertain

A. You are headed to South Beach, Miami which by clothing definition means sexy, skimpy and vibrant colors. This is the time to embrace a bright pattern, show a little skin with shoulders or legs and deal with sweltering heat. You can create a fun, flirty beach town wardrobe with a small budget by checking out sites like wetseal.com, delias.com, jcrew.com, oldnavy.com and urbanoutfitters.com. There are plenty of summer sales happening and you can use that to your advantage to pack stylish clothes for hot weather.

You’ll need a few dresses for day strolling on Lincoln Avenue or Ocean Drive plus dancing at the local hot spots. Shorts, minis, tanks and camis for morning walks to breakfast at places like News Café and jersey or cotton dresses that can work double duty as a cover up by day over your swimsuit and dinner attire by night. Pack your sunscreen, big sunglasses, bronzer or tinted moisturizer and you’re nearly ready to hit the beach.

Bra Cup Border DressMolly DressBorder Print Tube DressAiry cotton short halter dress

Bra Cup Smocked Cami9" chino shortCoco Halter 86981 Rd6220 Su07 M-1

left to right:
1. Bra Cup Border Dress, $22.50 at wetseal.com
2. Molly Dress, $44.50 at delias.com
3. Border Print Tube Dress, $34.50 at wetseal.com
4. Airy cotton short halter dress, $68 at jcrew.com (add a belt and sandals for night, and then wear it as a swim cover up the next day)
5. Bra Cup Smocked Cami, $15.50 at wetseal.com
6. 9" chino short, $29.50 (sale) at jcrew.com
7. Coco Halter, $19.50 at delias.com
8. Stretch chino mini, $39.50 (sale) at jcrew.com

animal print dressQ. I am attending a friends wedding in Chicago and just purchased the following dress for the event. Please note that the dress is longer on me. It ends about one inch above my knee. Do you think it appropriate to wear to a wedding? I am really unsure.

-Animal Print Wonder

A. Thank goodness it is longer on you. The dress is definitely working its sex appeal. It seems more fitting for a club than a friend’s wedding, sorry.

Q. What is appropriate for a funeral, must we wear black?

A. It is no longer necessary to wear all black. But certainly, dress in a conservative and respectful manner. You can wear a top and skirt, a dress or pants and top. I wouldn’t wear bright colors from head to toe. One part of your wardrobe should be a darker hue and avoid bright busy patterns.

Q. What would be a good choice of bottom for a solid gray slim fitting halter top this season? My lower half is heavier than my top but I don’t want to wear a skirt.
-Balance My Bottom

A. Black, grey, charcoal, navy and white are colors that will work with your new halter top. As for pants or Bermuda style shorts, avoid bottoms with embellishments, patch pockets or tapered legs. Wide banded pants will give the illusion of a smaller waist and hips and a smooth trouser style will balance your proportions especially ones with a slight flare. Plus, fewer pockets will lead to less bulk. Here are some options for you:

Alice + Olivia Wide Waistband Pant Parameter Pleated Denim Pant in MidnightWardrobe Stretch Denim Trousers

Karen Kane Cuffed PantsNanette Lepore 'Tantalizing' TrousersBilly Blues Stretch Herringbone Pants

left to right:
1. Alice + Olivia Wide Waistband Pant, $253 at shopbop,com
2. Parameter Pleated Denim Pant in Midnight, $215 at couturecandy.com
3. Wardrobe Stretch Denim Trousers, $68 at nordstrom.com
4. Karen Kane Cuffed Pants, $108 at nordstrom.com
5. Nanette Lepore ‘Tantalizing’ Trousers, $215 at nordstrom.com
6. Billy Blues Stretch Herringbone Pants, $88 at nordstrom.com

Q. Today, I got sent home for unprofessional attire. I had on a suit jacket with capris. They were dress capris. Please, what is the exact difference between gauchos, capris and cropped pants?
-Feel Unfair

A. Before you worry about being sent home or have it happen again, find out your company’s wardrobe policy from human resources and sit down with your boss and discuss his/her expectations for your appearance. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.Any miscalculation in your wardrobe or appearance can affect your advancement in the company. With a few minor adjustments and little money spent, you can create an appearance that clearly shows your dedication to your job and where you want to go with your next position. There is truth behind the statement “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” - meaning, always dress better. If you don’t like the wardrobe policy at your job, which is obviously conservative, and don’t wish to adhere to the changes, then it’s probably time to look for a new gig with fewer restrictions.

As for the difference between gauchos, capris and cropped pants: Gauchos are wide calf-length pants that were copied in the late ’60s from Andalusian riding suits a la South American cowboys; Capris are slim fitting pants that end above the ankle, popular since the 1950s and named for the Italian resort island of Capri; and Cropped Pants fill the rest of the category of straight cut pants that end at various lengths from mid calf to ankle. And just to add a few other terms: Pedal Pushers are below-the-knee straight-cut pants that often have a cuff while Bermuda Shorts are just-above-the-knee shorts that fit close to the leg.

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