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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’m going on a first date to a restaurant that describes its attire requirement as dressy-casual. I understand that means no jeans, but what are other ideas of what I should wear. Since it is a first date, I don’t want to overdo it and I want to be comfortable, but appropriate. Also, I’m in the Midwest, so it’s cold here.
-First Date Stumped 

A. While I understand you don’t want to overdo it, there’s no reason you can’t still dress up a bit.  I believe part of the fun of dating is dressing up and having fun with your wardrobe—it’s not your work clothes and it’s not the clothes you wear with your girlfriends. I’m a big fan of wearing a dress on the first date.  A simple jersey dress with a wrap sweater or trim fitting cardigan sweater, tights and knee-high boots.  It keeps you warm, it’s not overly dressy and you still show you put effort into your attire.  If not a dress, then wear a skirt, tights, knee high boots and a pretty top.  Skip the pants on the first date, you can always wear dark jeans and a cute nubby sweater on a date to a movie.

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left to right: Ya-Ya Swan Sweater, $345 at; Rebecca Taylor Jeweled Cardigan, $284 + pencil skirt, $190 at; Diane von Furstenberg Besos Cardigan, $172 (sale) at; James Perse V-Neck Long Tunic and Stretch Turtleneck, $79.99 (sale) at

Q. My boyfriend and I are celebrating our two year anniversary in March.  I’ve recently come off worker’s comp and I have put on quite a bit of weight.  I’m 5’8“ and I weigh about 160-165 (I used to weight 130).  The restaurant that we’re going to mandates that he wear a jacket.  I’m wondering what I should wear.  I’m a heavy girl now, so I can’t fit into those form-fitting dresses anymore.  I’m trying to lose weight, but I know I’m not going to accomplish anything in a month’s time.  I was thinking a black dress, since black is a slimming color.  However, should I wear a dress or would a skirt and nice top be okay?  Just remember, he has to be in a suit.  Please help me.
- Dressy Date Jitters 

A. Wear a dress. This season’s multitude of empire waist and kimono style dresses look great on curvy figures and are perfect for concealing a few extra pounds.  Just choose a dress that drapes well and will move with your body. And you can always wear a sexy undergarment that will also help smooth and slim your figure if you feel you need a little extra help. 

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left to right: Sweet Pea by Stacy Frati Empire Waist Dress, $98; Maggy London Matte Jersey Dress, $108; BCBG Max Azria Knot Front Jersey Dress, $240; Maggy London Matte Jersey Dress, $118 - all at

Some sexy shapers:


left to right: Wolford Lace - Up sheer tights, $68.60 (sale) at;  Spanx All The Way Up High-Waist Pantyhose, $28 at;  Bali Lace Convertible All-In-One, $41.60 at

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