StyleBakery.com | Ask The Style Chefs

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Q. I will be traveling in Paris the month of April.  Is it appropriate to wear a black velvet jacket dressed down with jeans in April?  Also, is it too early to wear linen or white jeans?
-Packing Panic 

A. Skip the black velvet in April, it’s past the cold weather time frame for for this plush fabric.  White jeans work all year long, pair them with a black sweater for a crisp look or a bright colored lightweight cashmere sweater or even a striped long sleeve top.  And it’s too early for linen, wait for 80 degree days instead.


Q. As I love fashion magazines, I have a huge stack of magazine clippings from over the years. All my attempts to organize all this have been unsuccessful.  Of course I have categories: want to buy, inspirations, information in fashion, entertaining, travel and home decor; however, I just don’t know the best way to catalog it and what I should save or trash in order to keep the stack under control.
-Stashing It 

A. Just like your wardrobe, you have to learn to consistently weed through and clean out seasonally. We girls at StyleBakery.com are constantly reorganizing our files, tear sheets and favorite pics. I live in a New York City apartment where space is tight, so I’ve got to be organized just to fit all my dresses in my closets and keep paperwork accessible. I loathe clutter so I built a nine drawer wooden filing cabinet just to help keep items in order. Another girlfriend who works in fashion has a tall white bookcase with magazine boxes organized by titles and months. Every two years she starts fresh. 

For inspirations and your buying cravings, you should put up a vision board so those items will always be fresh and in view. It’s also a great place to put up tear sheets from magazines and newspapers about restaurants you want to try or fun activities. You’ll likely change those items every month. You can have a share board custom made at shareboards.com. I have a simple one with a white wooden frame and white fabric that fits perfectly on a wall in my foyer.  I tack up photos of dresses I adore, travel info, restaurants I’m planning to visit - and it’s a great place to also pin up airline e-tickets, small items like a local handyman’s number or the phone number of the deli that delivers.

Once you’ve figured out the most time sensitive items, then move onto organizing the rest, whether it be in a filing cabinet with hanging folders, a desktop file box or a magazine box filled with attractive folders.  Remember to label your folders so you can find items quickly.  For example, I organize my favorite home design tear sheets by wall colors I love, decorating ideas, artwork, and even by room (bedrooms, living rooms). As for travel, I’ve organized two ways and they both seem to work: I have simple folders from A-Z and on the front of each lettered folder I list the cities, countries, etc. that fit into the letter, or I simply organize by US, Europe, Caribbean and other locations.

One of my favorite sites for office gear is seejanework.com, it’s filled with items that are colorful and give work a look of whimsy.

Cargo™ Office Box Set
Spice RedBrother Ptouch PT-1950 USB-Ready LabelerDesktop FileMatrix Letter-Size Interior File Folders

Library Project CaseTranslucent Magazine FilesBristol Bay Three-Drawer Letter/Legal File CabinetM.O. Expanding Desktop File

left to right: Cargo Office Box Set Spice Red, $58.96 at organizeeverything.com; Brother Ptouch PT-1950 USB-Ready Labeler, $69.99 at staples.com; Desktop File, $30 at seejanework.com; Matrix Letter-Size Interior File Folders, $5.49 at containerstore.com; Library Project Case, $16.99 at containerstore.com; Translucent Magazine Files, $7.99 at containerstore.com; Bristol Bay Three-Drawer Letter/Legal File Cabinet, $229 at homedecorators.com; M.O. Expanding Desktop File, $19.95 at seejanework.com

Q. I am attending a black tie wedding (4 pm, followed by evening reception) in London, England, in May.  I  bought a navy chiffon cocktail-length dress, but I am told that my head has to be covered for the ceremony.  I know that women wear hats to English weddings, but I thought that was for daytime ceremonies. What should I do with black tie?
- Indiana to London

A. OOOH, have some fun with wearing a hat and enjoy a proper English wedding. I adore the idea and you can have fun with the extra accessories. Channel your inner Diana, Fergie and Queen and set your sights on something that adds a bit of sophisticated prim to your look.  And be sure to stash a thin comb and a travel hairspray for hair touch ups once you’ve removed your chapeau for the reception.

Helen Kaminski Kaylee HatNordstrom Ribbon Trim Straw HatLouise Green Lace Hat

left to right: Helen Kaminski Kaylee Hat, $85 at neimanmarcus.com (TIP: Try tying a navy satin ribbon around the hat to dress it up a bit); Nordstrom Ribbon Trim Straw Hat, $58 at nordstrom.com; Louise Green Lace Hat, $225 at neimanmarcus.com

Q. Similar to a few other writers, I have a formal wedding in DC in early May. I have a black cotton dress for the rehearsal dinner but it’s sleeveless and I would like something to wear over my shoulders.  I am not really the Pashmina type (they always look funny on me) or fashionably-brave enough to wear a capelet throughout the evening.  Any simple or elegant alternatives?
-No Pashminas Please 

A. Scrap the Pashmina and choose something fresher and more contemporary. Look for a fitted, cropped jacket in knit, cotton or eyelet style.  Or cute cardigan in a pattern will work as well.  Think of your cover up as a piece that works on it own with other pieces in your wardrobe and adds chic style with your little black dress.

For ideas, check out A Fresh Crop, our brand new style recipe featuring the hot new cropped jacket trend.

Q. I’m so sick of carrying two bags to work.  Usually, it’s my purse and another tote bag for mail, magazines, lunch or whatever.  And when I bring my laptop into work, that’s three bags total!  It’s just too much! Every bag I find big enough seems too athletic or “LL Bean” looking which is just not my style.  Any ideas on one classy, stylish bag I can use for work? 
-Need to Subtract 

A.  You need the perfect carryall for just about everything.  We call that the BIG bag.  You should stick to one large bag that holds the items that were originally in your purse, plus the mags, mail and lunch. Then for the few times you carry your laptop, get yourself a stylish laptop bag or padded sleeve.

When filling your new BIG bag, be aware that we women tend to fill all that extra space with everything we own, making the bag too cumbersome and heavy to carry comfortably. Pare down to just the basics you need for every day. You don’t need to carry all your cosmetics, just powder, lip color, gloss and hand cream.  Keep any other additions or nonessential items in your desk drawer, even if it means buying duplicates to keep at home and at work.

I’ve chosen a few bags that I believe will help you carry your daily needs:

Hype Handbags Cheyenne SatchelMarc by Marc Jacobs King Pin Forbidden ShopperMichael Kors 'Yacht Club Large' Shopper

L.A.M.B. Devon ToteMichael Kors Big Valley North/SouthB17159 A-1

left to right: Hype Handbags Cheyenne Satchel, $173 at zappos.com; Marc by Marc Jacobs King Pin Forbidden Shopper, $388 at eluxury.com; Michael Kors ‘Yacht Club Large’ Shopper, $348 at nordstrom.com; L.A.M.B. Devon Tote, $650 at  eluxury.com;  Michael Kors Big Valley North/South, $368 at nordstrom.com; Cole Haan Paige Collection Large Convertible Tote, $425 at colehaan.com

Laptop sleeves and cases, keep your choice simple and sleek:

Talene Reilly Reese Laptop ToteCase Closed Bob w/Fashion Girl LiningKara B Laptop Bags The Euro Briefcase,

Timbuk2 Quilted Laptop Sleeve-LargeMango Tango Faux Croc Laptop BagAcme Made Designer Slim

left to right: Talene Reilly Reese Laptop Tote, $230 (sale) at lunaboston;  Case Closed Bob w/Fashion Girl Lining, $50 (sale) at ebags.com; Kara B Laptop Bags The Euro Briefcase, $86.95 at zappos.com; Timbuk2 Quilted Laptop Sleeve-Large, $35.95 at zappos.com; Mango Tango Faux Croc Laptop Bag, $49.99 (sale) at ebags.com; Acme Made Designer Slim, $149.99 at acmemade.com

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