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Q. I’m attending a wedding in October in the Berkshires in Lenox, MA. The wedding is in a historic mansion and is at 1 p.m. The bride is encouraging guests to wear fall colors, and said that her friends are wearing cocktail dresses. Cocktail dresses seems a little dressy to me for an afternoon wedding in artsy Lenox. Any suggestions for this 40 year old?


A. A cocktail dress typically refers to a shorter length dress, which is perfectly appropriate for a 1:00 wedding. And if the bride recommends a cocktail dress in fall colors, then you should do your best to honor her wishes. Here are some great age-appropriate dresses to wear to the wedding that you’ll surely wear again:

Q. I’m looking for cute and trendy carry-on baggage for a Europe trip. Any recommendations?

A. We found a great variety of chic and functional carry-on bags at Below are some of our favorite styles, each available in a wide array of colors and prints to suit your personal style.


Q. I love, love, LOVE my Ann Taylor Oasis Dot Print Dress so much that I’m seriously considering having a seamstress make me two more in other colors/patterns. I’ve found a seamstress, and the price seems reasonable, so I’m hoping you can give me some fabric suggestions. I really want to make sure that the finished dresses end up looking very polished and stylish, not like a DIY Home Ec project. I believe the fabric is silk georgette (although I could be wrong about that). I’m looking for fabrics to make two dresses: a fun, funky pattern in vibrant red and some kind of elegant neutral (either pattern or solid). Fabric suggestions (or even just suggestions for a good online source for designer fabric) would be greatly appreciated, as would any tips or suggestions for ensuring that my finished product is high style, not home-style.

make-your-own-dress.jpgA. I have often found myself loving the fit and style of a dress so much that I want to clone it in every imaginable color, print and fabric. However, I’ve never actually taken the plunge. Finding the right seamstress or tailor is essential, so you’re already halfway to the dress of your dreams. The next step is to find the right fabric. You are smart to consider looking for a similar fabric (silk georgette in this case) to ensure that the fit and drape is as close to the original dress is possible. Talk to your seamstress to see if there are any similar fabrics you can consider, such as chiffon or silk, and find out how many yards you will need to order for the finished product. Make sure you discuss whether a lining fabric is necessary as well.

Your next step is to scour local fabric stores or online shops for prints, colors and fabrics you like. Some popular resources for apparel fabric are:,,, and If you see a fabric you like, be sure to order a swatch so you can see it in person and show it to your tailor to be sure it will work for your garment. For your first experience, it’s best to stick with a solid color or a very small print - any oversized prints will be more difficult to work with and might not give you the finished look you want.

We’d love to hear from any of our readers who have successfully copied a favorite garment - what are your tips and resources?

Q. This fall, what is a good bet for a versatile jacket? I’m a lawyer but I work in an office that does not have a strict, traditional dress code. I’d like to buy something on trend that can function on weekdays and weekends.


A. Some of our favorite work-to-weekend styles this season include a belted military coat, a classic trench and a leather jacket. Here are some fall picks to wear until the cold winter temperatures arrive:

Q. I’m going to a HS reunion in an area that is beach casual. It’s a typical dinner and dancing type reunion. I want to look good, but not overdressed.

A. Want to wow everyone at your high school reunion? You can’t go wrong with a flattering, flirty dress or a sexy top worn with slim pants. Here are two looks for inspiration:


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