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Q. I have a black tie bat mitzvah to attend and I’m stumped.  I have a knee length black velvet dress.  It is covered in tiny sparkles.  I have dressy black sling backs with a closed toe to wear.  My question is, what hose would go?  What’s in style?  Do I wear sheer or opaque?  Textured or plain?  Black or nude?  It will be cold too. 
-Cover Me 

I have three suggestions that would work: 

1. Choose a black lace patterned hosiery that is still thin, not a thicker tight texture, like Jonathan Aston’s Fleur tights. This works if you feel the outfit needs a little more oomph.

2. Choose a nude hose—the best, best version I have found is the Hanes Silk Reflections Transparent hosiery - truly invisible.

3. Black sheer hosiery, perhaps a pair with a back seam, like Falke’s High Heel back seam pantyhose

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Q. Thanks for this great site!  We are hosting a wedding at our ranch this summer. Although it will be an elegant catered  event, it is still on a ranch.  We are planning to mow a wonderful path to the ceremony site at the top of a pasture.  Seating will be on hay bales. I am concerned that people might not dress appropriately for the walk to the ceremony site or to sit on hay.  What wording could you suggest for an invitation that would alert the guests? The wedding couple does not seem to think this will be a problem, but will take advice.
-Ranch Hands

A. Best laid plans can sometimes go awry when suddenly a guest sinks their Jimmy Choos into the dirt or a piece of hay gets stuck in a sheer bit of dress fabric. Always better to prepare guests ahead of time rather than surprise them. My suggestion is to add something about the ranch wedding with hay bales and outdoor grounds on the invitation itself.  A good spot would be on the directions to the ranch included with the invite.  A simple line can be added that while the wedding will be “black tie” or “festive”, guests will enjoy an authentic ranch environment with seating on hay bales for the ceremony.  I would suggest that the hay bales have blankets or thin cushion coverings - unless the guests wear jeans (which I’m assuming is not what you have in mind), sitting directly on the hay may pose a problem for anyone wearing silk, chiffon or delicate fabrics.

If the wedding couple has set up a website, which seems to be the norm these days, they could include a description of the upcoming wedding day along with tips for guests like, “you may wish to bring along a low heeled shoe for a walk on the grounds” or “guests will enjoy a genuine ranch environment for the ceremony with seating on hay bales.” If the couple does not wish to consider these suggestions then they should certainly ask the groomsmen and bridesmaids to spread the word.

 5162668-1-2Q. I have a dance coming up for my college dorm and I have my eye on a dress very similar to the one you featured in your July 15th answer (the Nicole Miller border print tie front gown).  However, my chest is medium-large, any recommendation for what to wear underneath? It’s pretty low in the back and front.  Or should ample chests avoid such dresses? I love the print and think the rest of the dress is flattering.

-In Love with a Dress But Not Sure if it Loves Me Back   


A. For a dress similar to this one, you definitely need a specific, supportive strapless bra.  I’m hoping that perhaps the straps on the dress you’ve chosen have slightly wider shoulder coverage.  You need a strapless bra that is plunge style and either adheres to your skin or has a dipped band in the back. Here are two styles that fit small, medium and large busts:

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The Clearly Natural strapless underwire bra from The Natural offers a practical solution to your backless dilemmas. The supportive cups clip to a transparent strap at the back and a clear, adjustable halter strap is included for additional support. Available up to size 36DD and 38D. $46 at


The Jezebel Caress Strapless Bra features contour cups for shaping and support, a plunge front and a low back. Available up to size 38D. $27 at

Also, check out our newest style recipe, Underneath It All, for a complete guide on what to wear underneath your sexiest clothes. You’ll find several of our favorite bras for low cut dresses.

Q. I have just discovered your site and it is now marked as a “Favorite.”  Wow!  I will be attending my best friend’s engagement party in mid-February.  It is an evening party, thrown by a very wealthy family at their home, which only begins my troubles.  The guests will be a mix of old friends and people with whom I would like to network.  I am an attorney, but I would like to wear something fun that makes a good impression.  HELP!  Also, a little help on what the husband should wear… the invite does not indicate a dress code.
- Party Wear Perfection

A. Since the party is for your best friend, you should make a good impression and dress up for the fete.  Even though you hope to network, this is a festive occasion, so you want to avoid anything resembling workwear. Ask your girlfriend what she intends to wear and use that as a guide while shopping at the store or sifting through your closet.  A little black dress or a patterned wrap dress will surely do the trick, or wear a pretty top and skirt. Be sure nothing is too revealing and wear some great heels and knockout jewelry.

Your husband should wear a sports jacket, button down shirt, tie and nice pants.  He can always remove the tie if the guests are dressed more casually.  Have fun!

Q. I have my own engagement party to attend at the end of this month and have no idea what to wear.  The theme is basically an Après Ski Party, but I really cannot wear just a turtleneck or be all bundled up.  I will be switching between inside and outside and it probably will be below freezing.  Any ideas for a cute, somewhat sexy, outfit without looking too much like that Pillsbury doughboy?
-Pretty Not Puffy

A. You want “Ski Bunny” with warmth.  Start with a pair of boots that can translate from sitting by the fire to walking outside in chilly temps. If you have warm feet and good gloves or mittens, you can pop outside for quick moments without sacrificing your look.  And instead of a coat, why not have a down vest that’s not too puffy nearby.  Choose a stylish cashmere sweater, layer a knit or silk camisole underneath and wear a skinny cord pant or a skirt with tights and nubby socks to peek out the top of your knee high boots. Here are some sweater options:

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left to right: BCBG Max Azria Chunky Cardigan, $118.80 (sale); Max Studio Metallic Striped Tunic and Chunky Rib Sweater, $98.99 (sale) + $218; Aqua Cashmere Car Coat Sweater, $178; Alice + Olivia Long Wrap Sweater, $149.99 (sale) - all at

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