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Q. I am an opera singer looking for formal gowns that have sleeves. Where can I find them? Seems like all the gown designers have forsaken the woman with unattractive upper arms! 
-Solo Style Seeker
A. You were right about dresses sans sleeves. I searched about 15 clothing sites and realized you’re up against a generous amount of gowns that are sleeveless and expensive. The best choices I found were all on edressme.com and nordstrom.com. Check out the “mother of the bride” sections to find the formal dresses you seek, many of them have sleeves and are still elegant and stylish.

eDressMe Private Label
Red Evening GownLace Mother of the Bride GownCelebrity Inspired Evening Dresses
by eDressMeLong sleeve Peach Mother of the BrideShort Sleeve Mother of the Bride Dresses
by Jovani

from edressme.com, left to right: eDressMe Private Label Red Evening Gown, $275; Lace Mother of the Bride Gown, $750; Celebrity Inspired Evening Dresses by eDressMe, $410; Long sleeve Peach Mother of the Bride, $640; Short Sleeve Mother of the Bride Dresses by Jovani, $550

JS Collections Brocade Jacket & Taffeta SkirtJS Collections Pleated Jacket & SkirtDavid Meister V-Neck Twist Front Jersey GownJS Collections Shadow Stripe Dress with BoleroCachet Mock Two Piece Sweater & Dress

from nordstrom.com, left to right: JS Collections Brocade Jacket & Taffeta Skirt, $348; JS Collections Pleated Jacket & Skirt, $198; David Meister V-Neck Twist Front Jersey Gown, $368; JS Collections Shadow Stripe Dress with Bolero, $228; Cachet Mock Two Piece Sweater & Dress, $198

Q. I am getting married in North Carolina in early October of this year. I am having a formal wedding and I wanted to know what ideas you can share with me for the informal rehearsal dinner the night before?
-Informal for Formal

A. Instead of having the typical dinner at a restaurant, which seems the norm these days, why not go for the fun factor and have a “clambake” in someone’s backyard? You can usually order the clambake “buckets” at gourmet food shops. Grill up corn on the grill and offer beer and wine chilled on ice in big buckets. Fill a backyard with oversized beach blankets, we love the ones at landsend.com and pile pillows for comfort. Put together a play list of music on your iPod of beach music from old Beach Boys and the Go-Gos to newer tunes. Perhaps even set up a volleyball net and croquet.

Or, skip dinner and have your rehearsal guests join you for afternoon tea. While they serve little sandwiches, no one ever seems to go hungry with the sandwiches, cakes, sweets and more that they pile on those multiple tiered serving dishes. And you can choose hot teas or iced tea.

For another casual, fun party, you could create your own mini Olympics by creating teams, having each guest wear a colored sash for their team and come up with games including baton races, sack races, hula hoop timing, count basketball shots in a minute and have chocolate medallions as prizes to signify gold, silver and bronze.

As a party favor you could offer a retro candy table, check out candycrate.com, and guests can fill up Chinese takeout containers that can be found at party stores with their favorite sweets.

Or, have a wine and cheese tasting party. Contact a good local wine shop or speak to a sommelier at one of your favorite restaurants to set up wine and cheese pairings. You can set up the get together at a happy hour time rather than the usual dinner hours. Have the wine merchant or sommelier guide people through the tastings and have all the accoutrements available like good baguettes, nuts, dried fruits and fruit pastes to work with the cheese.

Q. I love your site! I saw that you are from NYC and was wondering if you could help me… I need some boutique suggestions. I am coming to NYC this weekend and only have really Sat to shop. I was hoping to go to Greenwich or SoHo or anywhere and hit 3 or 4 smaller stores. (Rather than get lost on all the floors of Barney’s or haul up and down 5th Avenue or Madison Avenue looking at $2000 dresses.) I’ve been looking around but can’t seem to find a good guide of cute/hip boutiques in neighborhoods. The brands I like are Nanette Lepore, Juicy Couture, Cynthia Rowley, Ella Moss, James Pearse. I am a 35 year old mom of two — generally a size 8, tall. I went to the Nanette Lepore store last time I was there but then was at a total loss for anywhere else to go after that and ended up getting lost.
-Lost in New York

A. Ooh, you’ll have a great visit. Stick to downtown. The three neighborhoods you want to visit are SoHo, NoLIta (which is just east of SoHo) and the Lower East Side which is farther east of NoLIta and all walkable. There are great shops in all of those areas including Cynthia Rowley, Alice + Olivia, Tory Burch, Tracy Feith, Mayle, Olive & Bette, Calypso, Nanette Lepore, Foley & Corinna and much more. The best way to see it all in one day—and it is completely possible to enjoy a day of shopping and walking—is to do a little mapping out ahead of time. Start in SoHo and break for lunch in NoLIta or the Lower East Side. Get more detailed info by going to citysearch.com and clicking on shopping and the neighborhoods you want and then you can map out your destinations.

Some good lunch or dinner spots:

NoLIta: Café Habana (small Cuban restaurant, always popular), Bar Marche (lovely little restaurant with great food-I love the fish tacos, good salads as well), Rice to Riches (mod designed place for rice pudding in every flavor imaginable—just go and sample a few flavors)

Lower East side: Clinton St. Bakery (on Clinton off of Houston), and a great fun dinner spot is Stanton Social on Stanton St. near Ludlow (yummy food served tapas style—a great chance to try lots of different foods and the drinks and dessert as delicious as well- it can be a little loud though)

Q. I’ve never been a big jewelry wearer, but I realize how much it can pull together an outfit. My style is really classic and casual, and I’d love to find a very delicate, simple gold necklace with a small charm that I can wear with (almost) anything. I don’t have a whole lot to spend, but I want something nice. Any ideas? 
-Jewelry-less

A. Well, gold doesn’t come cheap and if you want to wear it with most everything in your wardrobe, it’s worth it to invest in a great necklace that will last you “forever” rather than something that will fade and turn another color. There are plenty of choices that don’t cost your paycheck. Look for a gold chain with a pendant or charm that is delicate and feminine alone on it’s own, but also think of it as a layering piece that you can wear with another gold necklace of another length. I found several lovely choices for you:

Gorjana Three Petal NecklaceNordstrom 14k Gold Pendant NecklaceTiffini Dooris Luna NecklaceGiles & Brother Small Sparrow Necklace
Gold Vermeil Small Lotus Disc Pendant NecklaceJulie Sandlau 18K Gold Plated Sterling Silver Clear Crystal Locket and Leaf Charm NecklaceGold Vermeil Coral Branch Necklace on Double Chain

left to right: Gorjana Three Petal Necklace, $95 at shopbop.com; Nordstrom 14k Gold Pendant Necklace, $98 at nordstrom.com; Tiffini Dooris Luna Necklace, $180 at tiffinidooris.com; Giles & Brother Small Sparrow Necklace, $200 at shopbop.com; Catherine Weitzman 18k Gold Vermeil Small Lotus Disc Pendant Necklace, $88 at blueluxe.com; Julie Sandlau 18K Gold Plated Sterling Silver Clear Crystal Locket and Leaf Charm Necklace, $180 at blueluxe.com; Pade Vavra 22KT Gold Vermeil Coral Branch Necklace on Double Chain, $99 at blueluxe.com

Q. I have been searching the web for this answer and came across your website. I am hosting a 50th wedding anniversary party for my parents at a very nice banquet facility. I have purchased a tea length, thin strapped, mauve colored dress, (with jacket), that is very sheer. The dress does have a “slip” of the same color underneath but you can still see my legs right through the dress. I heard about the Spanx brand undergarments and purchased the Higher Power bodysuit in nude color and will also be wearing a strapless bra under this ensemble. My issue is that you can still see my legs and I do not feel comfortable with this at all. Is it appropriate to be seen like that? Do I find/purchase a longer slip to go underneath? Do I go without? Do I wear nude nylons with my strappy sandals?
-Wary of Baring it

A. Slips do tend to be an item of the past. And it seems like you are doing quite a bit of intimate layering already. As long as the most intimate parts of you are covered then you should feel confident to walk around the party.

And nylons with a strappy sandal is generally a no-no unless you wear a peep toe. You don’t want to “scream” that you are wearing hosiery so the less strappy the better.

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