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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…

Q. I love layering my clothing, but sometimes it makes me look FAT. Any suggestions on light layering and layering for the fall?
-Desperately seeking slim 

A. This Fall is all about layering. To pull it off without adding thickness, stay away from bulky knits and multi textured fabrics. Be aware of your proportions and be sure to strike a balance. If you wear a shirt, vest and fitted jacket on top, then keep it slim on your bottom half by wearing a pencil skirt and platform pumps or slim pants and knee high boots.  Consider wearing waist cinching belts over your cozy cardigan and tank combo or keeping the layers minimal like a thin turtleneck under a dress with leggings.  If you believe you look bulky or big once you create your layered look, then you’ll certainly feel self-conscious all day.  Don’t sacrifice self-esteem just to layer your look.  And don’t forget, you may still have to fit a jacket or coat over your layers.

Below left, an example of layering without the bulk from the Max Azria fall runway
Below right, some unrealistic layering from the Marc Jacobs runway

(Photos: Marcio Madeira via

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Q. What is appropriate to wear to a wedding at a campsite on the lake in upper Michigan? The weather is warm during the day but chilly at night. They will have a large tent for the reception and the bride is wearing a traditional wedding gown and the groom is wearing a tux with Birkenstocks.
-Camp and cocktails 

A. Obviously, we’re not talking black tie.  There are still plenty of options. First off, skip high heels and choose a low kitten heel or wedge so you don’t sink into the ground.  Don’t wear anything long.  Consider a wrap dress, a dressier skirt and pretty top or a dress that is appropriate for a more casual wedding, but nothing you’ll be worried about getting a little dust or smidge of dirt on.  And bring a wrap like a Pashmina or a pretty cardigan.  If the dress is simple, look for a cardigan that has extra details like beading.

Hello Alison! I was just wondering when it is officially ok to wear velvet. It is now after Labor Day, but it is also about 78 degrees. Would it be ok to wear velvet now? Or would I just look silly if I did? 
-Confused in Indy

A. It’s a bit too early to slide on that soft, slightly shiny, luxe fabric.  Hold off until the temperatures drop in October, then wear it through February with abandon.

Gloves for black tie?

Q. Do you wear short gloves to an afternoon black tie affair? 

Picture 3-2A. Wearing short gloves all depends on the dress you’re wearing.  Black tie is black tie no matter if it’s afternoon or evening. While many women don’t even think of wearing gloves, it can be seen as a sophisticated and elegant look.  It works best with dresses that are sleeveless to 3/4 length sleeves since it’s best to see where the gloves end and a peek of some skin.

satin gloves, shown left, $40 at

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