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Q:  My fiancee and I have been invited to a Bat Mitzvah reception, and she is planning on wearing a red/burgundy MaxMara dress, kind of a low cut wrap around design.  The discussion with her has been around what type of jewelry or accessories does she need to complete this outfit.  A single strand of pearls was the initial thought, though she has recently been given advice to shun any type of necklace and just go with stunning earrings.  What are your thoughts on this, as it is important that she look absolutely incredible in front of my family and ex-wife.
- Proud Beau


 A. I own many wrap dresses with low v-neck styling - I’m a big Diane Von Furstenberg fan.  Generally, dresses that have a wrap/v-neck style look best with a necklace that drops down, meaning a necklace that follows the shape of the V.  A necklace that wraps around the neck like a single strand of pearls or other kind of single strand ends up cutting off the lengthening effect of the dress. Don’t get me wrong, I love pearl necklaces — multi-strand for drama and single strand for the feminine sophistication. But you’ve got to be savvy with the message of your pearls, you’re aim for your fiancee to be a sophisticated lady in her appearance to your family can flop and end up looking dowdy or too conservative.  As a girl (all fab women are girls to me) in her 30’s, I like that I can wear a single strand of pearls with a straight-across-the-chest strapless black cocktail dress and I’d give Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” a run for her money, but if I put those same pearls with one of my DVF wrap dresses, I’d fall flat.  My readers would wonder where my pinache went! 

My suggestion for your fiancee’s wrap dress is a dangly pair of gold and beaded earrings or a more modern version of traditional gold hoops and skip a necklace altogether.  If there’s any arm exposed, then maybe add a wide gold cuff on the wrist.  If it’s a necklace you’re set on, then look for something gold that drops down towards the cleavage with some shape and beading.  Here are my suggestions:


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Leaf Branch Charm Necklace
$65 at mrejewelry.com
301-E29-Gf

Triple Hoops
$112 at tiffinidooris.com
301-E82-R

Ruby Pebble Earrings
$234 at tiffinidooris.com

Q. I just bought a pair of platform-wedge espadrilles that lace up the ankle with grosgrain ribbons. They’re lovely, I just can’t figure out how to tie them! I have small ankles and tying the ribbon into a bow looks hilariously floppy. Is it OK to just tie a knot? In front or back? Is there some other clever way to fasten them? Help! You’re the best!
-Tie it Up

A. I bought some wedge espadrilles last summer and waited two months after their purchase to finally put them on due to the tie-up issue.  Every time I put them on, I felt a little silly.  Ultimately, I wrapped them criss cross style around my leg and tied them in a bow in the back of my calf and skipped (sort of) out the door to receive many compliments.  Try tying them as expected and end with a bow, which you can double knot, so the bow appears smaller on the back of your calf (and so you don’t feel like a 5 year old with a bow in the front.) You can knot the ribbons if you wish, but you may end up with long dangling ribbons, risking the chance of stepping on them and tripping.

Q. Do you have any suggestions as to where I might find colorful, cute luggage?  I am traveling to France in the spring, and I would really like to find something that is not black or dark brown.  It needs to be large, as I will need to stuff three weeks worth of clothing and souvenirs into it.  I had a fuchsia DVF suitcase however, it broke and I need to find a replacement.

A. I traveled on 20 flights from Thanksgiving to New Years and that meant learning to travel light and finding the right carry-on bag for my book, magazines and pocket video recorder and a suitcase that’s easy to find on the carousel.   Black is a big NO NO for suitcase colors - unless of course you want to waste time at the airport or worry that someone with the same style walks away with your precious cargo. I watched a guy chase after a woman who mistakenly had done just that in O’Hare airport!
I’m a big fan of finding the big names and a big range of luggage for less at stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls.  There’s a fabulous new line of printed luggage pieces from gap.com. Also, check out styles from macys.com, overstock.com, ebags.com and tumi.com.

Here are a few suggestions:

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Delsey Helium Lite
100 Luggage Collection
$30 to $130 at
macys.com

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Polo Ralph Lauren
2000 Rugged Collection
$151 to $459 at
macys.com

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Atlantic Altitude 24"
Expandable Upright
$64.99 at ebags.com

Q. I want to break into fashion, but I haven’t graduated school yet, and I’m married.  But for the past few years I’ve been wanting to design clothing and have others wear them.  Now that’s all I ever seem to talk about.  I get so upset because nobody will help me, and I feel that I’m so lost, it seems as though it’s completely taken over me.  Please help me on how I’m able to get my fashions out there.  Thanks.
-Fashion Break

A. First question: are you in school studying fashion design?  If not, why not if that’s your passion?  If you’ve just realized that designing is your dream and you’ve still got some courses left, meet with an adviser about taking some marketing, advertising or business courses that will help you develop a plan on how to reach customers or employers when you graduate.  Many colleges offer co-op opportunities that allow you to make money at a job and receive college credit as well.  Or how about an internship? Either way, next question: do you know how to sew, make a pattern, drape a muslin? This is where the co-op or internship fits in.  Work with a dressmaker, a tailor or seamstress in your city or town.  Buy some patterns and visit fabric shops and start making your own clothes and see if you get compliments on the fit, color choices and fabrics.  Take apart or reconstruct clothes you already own.  Pay attention to detail and check out what other designers are doing each season.

Also, realize that not every great designer creates their own collection; many work for other designers to learn the business and build a resume.  Many get those jobs with minuscule starting salaries.  And there are many people who hold regular jobs, but become custom clothiers (meaning they can create great skirts, tops, dresses, etc. each season in different fabrics or customers go to them with specific needs) on the side until they can financially sustain themselves.

It’s great to be hyped up and excited about taking on a new career or challenge and remember, it’s your dream so go after it, but don’t assume that other people are there to give you a helping hand.  Some people may be holding back on encouragement or giving support until they see you take steps towards actually realizing your goals. Do some research, good luck and stay jazzed about your dream.

Q. I just bought a pair of brown and off-white plaid capris and an off-white sweater to wear with them.  My dilemma is the shoes…what kind of shoes can I wear with them?  And do tights look ok with them?
-Putting My Best Foot Forward

A. I’m not a big fan of capris during the winter months unless they’re a true cropped pant or gaucho that you can wear with knee high boots, in which case you’ve got many choices. Unless they’re a short length, stick with flats, wedges and kitten heels - and preferably worn with bare legs.

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Steve Madden Sybel
$63.95 at zappos.com

165461Seychelles ´Habit Forming´ Pump
$74.95 at
nordstrom.com

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Taryn Rose Bijou Flat
$380 at nordstrom.com

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