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Q. I am attending a Military ball in about two weeks. I have found a gorgeous red satin dress. It has a low V neck, and a low back, fitted through the bodice, then A-lines down to my ankles. This is the second formal affair I have attended in fourteen years…. so I am kind of out of the loop when it comes to evening etiquette. I have no idea what color shoes I can wear, what jewelry would look good with it, makeup??? Should I steer clear of red lipstick? I’d like to do a smoky/evening eye…. would that look OK? I have auburn hair and brown eyes. I do live in HI, so I do have a summer tan. Any advice would be of great help. I am 32, but I don’t want to look like a young hooker or teen.
-Red Bliss

A. You won’t look like a hooker or teen, the dress sounds just right for the event.  I’m always happy when people choose color instead of black.  Choose gold metallic strappy heels or something strappy with jewels or crystals - you can choose black satin if it has something added to it.  As for jewelry, go for the earrings as your emphasis—colored beads or cubic zirconia or faux diamonds. They don’t have to be big or dangly—just elegant. I like the idea of a soft, smoky eye, just keep the rest of the makeup natural. And if you choose a red lipstick (I’d suggest a gloss or a lip stain + gloss), make sure it works looks good with your skin tone, not the dress.

Steal Eva Longoria’s and Lauren Graham’s red carpet style with these pieces from

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Q. I like the idea of wearing tall boots with short skirts so my legs don’t freeze!  However, I think it looks best when the calf of the boot is slim and hugs your lower leg.  All of the boots I have tried on are too big for my calves (and I do not have slim calves.) Are the boots supposed to be loose around your leg?
-Leg Space 

A. It all depends on the style.  Generally, most boots are meant to hug your calves, unless they are a slouchy style. It also depends on whether you’ll be tucking in jeans, in which case you might need a little extra room. I, too, have had endless problems finding boots that fit my calves - there always seems to be a gaping space.  The best solutions I’ve found have been in suede styles that you pull on rather than zip up.  I found gorgeous styles from Stuart Weitzman (pricey) and I found a great leather style that cinches just above the calf from Cole Haan.  And the only boots that I’ve found in the last year that almost hug my calves are from Sacco - they usually make the same styles each year with a different heel height.


Stuart Weitzman ‘Bootpoint’ Boot
$475 at 


Cole Haan Collection ‘Gali Air Short’ Boot
$385 at 


Sacco ‘Masha’ Boot 
$325 at

What about you? Let us know if you’ve found boots that fit small calves…

On400615-00P01V01Q. I recently picked up a cute denim vest at old navy, since it was 50% off, I was wondering if I missed the trend and now I would look silly wearing it. I know to stay away from a denim jean/denim vest combo (BAD!!) but I thought with a cute pair of tan corduroys and a white shirt, it might look stylish. What do you think?   

-Not a Cowgirl 

A. I bought a denim vest from Old Navy as well - the fitted pointed bottom version (shown right, still available as of today for $12.99 at 

Your cords will be fine with your vest.  But also try it with tweed or herringbone pants or a skirt plus the button down shirt and add one oversized piece of jewelry like a chunky beaded necklace or a big cuff bracelet. Also try a colorful blouse or a short puffed sleeve top.   Here are some suggested looks to consider with a vest, denim or otherwise:

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Q. My best friend is getting married in January in Florida by the bay. The bridesmaids have long strapless taupe tissue taffeta strapless gowns with a wide black sash that accents the natural waistline and ties in the back forming a long trail. And it has a bit of fullness to it. We are so confused as to what type of shoe to wear. Should we go black and strappy to match the sash? We are stumped about what shoes are appropriate for the style dress and time of year and colors. Please help! 
-Shoe Stumped

A. The simple choice is a strappy black heel that you can all wear again and perhaps you can each choose your own style.  You can narrow your choices by deciding together on a heel height and whether you want to wear open toe or closed toe. When it comes to weddings, it doesn’t seem to matter the time of year or city since it’s all about dressing up and looking great.  And with the wedding indoors, it doesn’t matter if your toes show. 

Another option is to choose a soft taupe or gold heel with perhaps a little rhinestone detail. Since black is easy, I’ve given a few suggestions if you opt to wear a little color:


Nina ‘Flo’ Pump
$78.95 at


Calvin Klein ‘Milan’ Sandal
$129.95 at

Q. I have always wondered and had a problem when looking for blouses in Plus size stores - instead of having mostly vertical stripes or stripes that are diagonal and meet in the middle to minimize a large bust, they all mostly have loads of horizontal stripes! I am surprised that designers for these stores seem oblivious to this. A few of the horizontal stripes may look okay under a nice fitting blazer or sweater but not alone. Where are all the vertical and diagonal stripes?
-Stress for right stripes 

A. Yes, I wonder as well why plus size collections inevitably include horizontal stripes.  But there are some designers that get it. Lane Bryant is one of those companies that always offers a wide selection of contemporary looks and plenty of vertical, diagonal and chevron stripe styles.  I’ve picked out looks from several brands that I hope will help minimize and add style to your wardrobe.


striped kimono-style tunic,
$44.50 at


mitered-stripe shirt,
$44.50 at

562873 Hi

grey lurex stripe twist
front 3/4 sleeve tunic,
$42 at

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