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nxna237.jpgQ. I am going to wear a tea-length black dress to a 6:00 p.m. wedding reception that calls for cocktail attire. I’m only 5’3” and don’t want to “shorten” the look of my legs. This being the case, would you advise not wearing a t-strap shoe (or even a shoe with a thin ankle strap)? Would a slip-on shoe be better?

A. Tea length dresses tend to hit somewhere between your knee and your ankle, or mid-calf. Since you are petite, a t-strap or ankle strap shoe will likely shorten the look of your legs. To make your legs look as long as possible, opt for a strappy shoe or pump that covers as little of the top of your foot as possible.

Q. My husband and I will be attending an evening gala that is cocktail chic. What type of clothing is cocktail chic? Any suggestions for both of us?

A. “Cocktail Chic” is similar to “Cocktail Attire” but with a little extra room for interpretation. Typical cocktail attire consists of short party dresses for women and dark suits for men. Cocktail Chic includes these items but can also include more creative combinations like a dressy top and pants for women or sport coats and blazers for men. Listen to the “chic” part of the dress code and wear something stylish and modern, rather than safe and classic.

A few suggestions for you:

Q. I have to attend three weddings in November - one which is an optional black tie. I didn’t know November was such a popular wedding month! I’d like to get a dress that I can wear to all three…without spending a FORTUNE. Something trendy and gorgeous! I like black and bright colors and have auburn hair and fair/medium skin tone. Everything out there seems like it is still summery…also can I still wear sandals in November?

A. How lucky you are that you’ll be getting so much use out of one fantastic dress! You mentioned that one wedding is optional black tie, but we’re not sure if the other two weddings are more or less dressy. Below are some affordable options that can be dressed up or down for a multitude of occasions. Pair them with strappy evening-worthy sandals, some fantastic jewelry and you’re ready to dance the night away.

Q. I have a lovely red satin dress that I would like to wear to a wedding but I am a little worried because everything I read says not to wear a red dress to a wedding…is this still true? Or is it an outdated taboo? I plan on wearing silver strappy shoes…but I am not sure how to do my makeup?

A. There are many who believe that wearing black (too funereal) or wearing red (too attention grabbing) to a wedding are big faux pas. I, however, am not one of them. To me, a little black dress is eternally chic, whether worn to a wedding or any other affair. As for red, in most cases it should be fine, provided it’s not too lowcut or too sexy. The idea is not to steal the attention from the bride, so a super sexy and revealing dress in red (or any other bright color for that matter) is not appropriate. If your dress, accessories and behavior are tasteful, there should be no issue with the color of the dress.

To address the second part of your question: yes to silver strappy heels. Your makeup and hair should be simple and sophisticated in colors that work for your complexion.

Here are three gorgeous red dresses to wear to a wedding or other dressy affair:

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Lauren by Ralph Lauren Cutaway Crepe Dress

$152 at nordstrom.com

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Anne Klein Dress Stretch Satin Sheath Dress

$178 at nordstrom.com

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Maggy London Beaded Silk Chiffon Dress

$158 at nordstrom.com

Q. Bare legs or hosiery at a black tie optional wedding? I’m wearing a simple black dress with a lovely shawl. Also, I have a beautiful pair of patent leather pumps with a peep toe but think maybe I should wear a closed toe shoe? Thanks for your advice.

hosieryorno.gifA. Feel free to skip the hosiery for your black tie optional affair if you feel more comfortable. As for shoes, peep toes are also acceptable, just be sure to have an immaculate pedicure.

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