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Q. I will be attending college this upcoming fall and I expect my time to be filled with long hours at the library and coffee shops near by. Since I am just entering college, my spending limits are minimal but I still would like to keep my appearance stylish yet still comfy. Suggestions?

A. Comfortable, simple, affordable basics that mix and match easily and layer well should form the core of your college wardrobe. Start with a few pairs of jeans and long sleeve tees, then add in fitted blazers, boyfriend cardigans and chunky knit sweaters. Purchase a versatile coat and an edgy and trendy leather moto jacket as well as a roomy tote bag and handbag. Finally, add in some comfortable shoes you can walk in: cool trainers, ballet flats and a great pair of riding boots.

Here are some pieces to get you started building your college wardrobe:




gp498564-01vliv01.jpgQ. I bought a pair of linen/cotton wide-leg pants from Gap a couple of weeks ago. I bought them because they were really comfortable, but now I’m not sure what sorts of tops to wear them with. Can they work as both casual and dressy/work pants? I hope you can give me some suggestions as to what can be paired with them.

A. You’ll wear these cuffed linen wide leg pants for years to come, so it was a great purchase. Though somewhat tailored, you can wear them with casual items in addition to the expected work appropriate items.

For the office, tuck in a floaty feminine blouse and add a little cardigan or fitted blazer if the air conditioning is on full blast. Pair it with peep toe pumps, pretty wedges or t-strap sandals and you’ve got a great work look. On weekends, pair them with a simple tank and flat sandals for a relaxed casual look.

Here are two options for the office:

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Left: Pair a feminine blouse with a lightweight cardigan and a skinny belt. All from oldnavy.com

Right: A slimfitting short-sleeve belted sweater is also a chic option. From bananarepublic.com










Q. I am a 34D and love to wear sexy summer tops but I cannot go without a bra. Very few stores offer tops with built-in underwire bras. Do you have any suggestions?

A. Unfortunately, a large bust does limit your options when it comes to bare summer tops. This doesn’t mean you don’t have options, however. Here are some tips:

1. Layer a tank or camisole underneath tops that would otherwise show too much cleavage. Try the Hanro Perfectly Nude Microfiber Underwire Camisole.

2. Try some of the bra alternatives available for D-cups that give you the freedom to wear tops that would otherwise show your bra while still offering some support: Pure Style Girlfriends: Gather-the-Girls Adhesive Strapless Bra, Sassybax Very Bare Bra and Fashion Forms Adhesive Body Bra.

You are correct that built-in underwires are very difficult to find, however, several companies like Victoria’s Secret and Soft Surroundings do offer tops with built in bras, some of them underwire. You may have to forego the full support of an underwire, though, for the medium support of a shelf bra or soft cup built into tops. Here are some suggestions:

bratops.jpg1. Akana Strapless Tunic, $39.99 at whitehouseblackmarket.com
2. Twist-front halter Bra Top, $28 at victoriassecret.com (several colors available)
3. Pleated Bra Top, $88 at victoriassecret.com (several colors available)
4. Sparkle Underwire Halter, $39.99 at softsurroundings.com
5. Underwire Necklace Halter, $78 at softsurroundings.com (several colors available)



Q. I have recently moved to a chillier climate which means I still need a light jacket or sweater to go out on summer nights. The blazers and cardigans I wear to work seem too “buttoned up” for a night out with friends. Can you suggest some more casual, versatile pieces to layer over the summer tops I already own to keep me warm and looking fashionable when it gets breezy?

A. Our favorite items to pack along for chilly evenings are shrunken cardigans and lightweight scarves. Both roll up into small packages to tuck into a handbag or tote and work with everything from tanks, tees and feminine tops to dresses. Unless your work cardigans are boxy, they should pair perfectly with your more casual clothes - just open up the buttons and push up the sleeves a bit. As for jackets, everything from shrunken boyfriend styles to slouchy unstructured blazers work well.

Here are some visuals for inspiration:

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1. Dream V-neck cardigan, $78 at jcrew.com 
2. Lux Little Brother Blazer, $68 at urbanoutfitters.com
3. Metallic Ombre Linen Scarf, $24 at urbanoutfitters.com 
4. Geometric Jacket, $178 at anthropologie.com 
5. Herringbone école jacket, $198 at jcrew.com 
6. Daisy eyelet jacket, $278 at jcrew.com 
7. Hadley jacket, $118 at jcrew.com
Q. I just bought a Calvin Klein black pinstripe suit for a job interview, and I am trying to choose a white shell to wear under it. Since the suit is linen, I’m thinking a cotton/poly blend with a tiny bit of lace around the neckline or a viscose/nylon white shell knit. The knit looks good with the suit, but I’m wondering if a knit with linen “works”. I think it looks good, but I know mixing the right types of fabrics together can make a difference in the overall look. What do you suggest?

A. Basically, just avoid heavy fabrics, particularly wool or thicker fabrics. A thin knit or light blend will work with your suit, but be willing to consider a variety of tops to pair with your suit in the future once you nab the job, from patterned white on white to chic tops with collars in bold colors. Don’t just settle for the safety of black and white. Here are some white tops you might like:

brshawl.png alfani.png 915436_fpx.jpg 1. Shawl-collar textured blouse, $64 at bananarepublic.com

2. Alfani Short-Sleeve Polka-Dot Mesh Top, $59 at macys.com

3. Nanette Lepore Women’s Jamming Eyelet Top, $215 at bloomingdales.com

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