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Q. I bought a cable knit scoop neck sweater dress in winter white that is about 18 inches, so it hits above the knee. I have NO idea what to wear on the bottom- tights? If so, what color? Boots? Flats? [I’m 6 feet tall, so I love flats.] I have a pair of flat black riding boots, but I don’t know how well that will go with winter white.
-Shed Some Light

A. Go for a bold contrast of black and white. Wear black opaque tights with black knee high boots or black pumps (or flats in your case). You can do the same with some textured brown tights and add brown boots or a patterned flat, wedge or pump in brown hues. Also consider playing with color for casual days with burgundy or hunter green tights and heels or boots.

Q. Any suggestions for a sophisticated prom dress? Should it be black? What length?
-Prom Pinache

A. A black dress or a long dress doesn’t guarantee sophistication. You need to look for a dress that is appropriate for your age, doesn’t show off too much skin and fits your personality. I had fun finding multiple styles that are sophisticated, feminine and perfect for prom.  My extra tips would be to make sure you go light on the hairspray, don’t wear too much makeup and be sure to blend below your chin. Rah, Rah!

Black Strapless Holiday Dresses
by Sue WongShort Black Dress by JovaniSequined Strapless Dresses
by Betsy JohnsonDKNY Jeans Juniors Ruffled Satin Halter Dress

 Ruby Rox Tube Party Dress with TieNavy Ruched Bodice Long Gowns
by BCBG MAXAZRIALavender Mist Chiffon Evening Gowns
by BCBG MAXAZRIAEdressme 1983 26555455

1. Black Strapless Holiday Dresses by Sue Wong, $372 at edressme.com
2. Short Black Dress by Jovani, $440 at edressme.com
3. Sequined Strapless Dresses by Betsy Johnson, $425 at edressme.com
4. DKNY Jeans Juniors Ruffled Satin Halter Dress, $89 at macys.com
5. Ruby Rox Tube Party Dress with Tie, $66 at nordstrom.com
6. Navy Ruched Bodice Long Gowns by BCBG MAXAZRIA, $440 at edressme.com
7. Lavender Mist Chiffon Evening Gowns by BCBG MAXAZRIA, $480 at edressme.com
8. Silver Prom Dresses by Faviana, $258 at edressme.com

Q. I love your website. I have gotten rid of a lot of things in my closet and seriously need to build a new wardrobe. I was wondering what basic pieces I need to have. If you could add a section to your site that shows great basic finds would be great. I am a curvy petite.
-Shapely Figure

A. First off, make it simple and shop from designers that cater to your size so you don’t have to spend even more money heading to the tailor. Petitesophiticate.com offers pants in both petite regular and petite short, plus stylish dresses, suits, tops and more. J. Crew, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Liz Claiborne, Gap and Jones New York also make petite sizes.

The classic list of items every woman should have in her wardrobe hasn’t changed much in 25 years, but it’s what you add in that injects your own personality. It can mean colors that brighten or deepen your skin tone, tops with added details or accessories that help liven up a white button down.

I consider the top 10 classics to be:

  1. Well fitting white button down shirts.
  2. Long sleeve and short sleeve shirts, primarily v-neck which is most flattering.
  3. Trench coats. For your size be sure it doesn’t overwhelm your height. Look for belted versions to help define your waist and a style that you can wear with suits, dresses and jeans. A truly versatile style will also have a zip out or button out wool lining.
  4. Black pants. Nowadays, it’s also good to have navy, chocolate, khaki and white for choices all year.
  5. Dark denim jeans. A pair that can be dresses up with heels for evening and ballet flats to run around doing errands.
  6. Turtleneck, v-neck and cardigan sweaters in black and other various colors.
  7. One good suit, but if your career doesn’t require a suit, then just buy a good blazer that you can pair with trousers and jeans. It is a polished look to wear a button down shirt, blazer and dark jeans.
  8. Dresses. Go for a wrap style and a v-neck dress that is fitted on the top half and has an a-line bottom half.
  9. Skirts. For a curvy, petite figure look to score a-line shapes and avoid full skirts and straight up and down pencil styles.
  10. Additional tops that have flirty features, but are not laden with ruffles and bows. Too many girly features on a petite figure can make you appear like a little girl rather than a woman.

Q. Stumbled onto your web page while looking for a jean jacket for my wife.  She had this beautiful Gap cropped, longer sleeved jean jacket with pearl snap buttons and a paisley cotton inside liner (size M) w/ 1969 collection logo on it. I think it may have been a special edition because it cost around $160 and most items don’t cost that much from the Gap. It has since torn and I want to replace it as a gift but can’t find it anywhere.  Do you know where I can buy or locate this jacket?  I contacted Gap and they said they don’t make it any more.  Need help.  Would pay almost anything.
-Pulling Threads

A. No slam dunk on this one, sorry.  My search came up empty, but you may have better luck finding a gently worn replicate on ebay. If the jacket cannot be repaired by a tailor and you’ve exhausted your search, then it’s time to shop for a new jean jacket. This is not necessarily the prime time for jean jacket shopping season, but I did find some styles that may appeal to your wife.

Lauren Jeans Co. Classic-Fit Denim JacketLucky Brand Jeans Denim Dark Wash Jacket82535 Bl8821 M Hol07Ppolo2-4114573 Alternate4 V330

1. Lauren Jeans Co. Classic-Fit Denim Jacket, $109 at macys.com
2. Lucky Brand Jeans Denim Dark Wash Jacket, $45.99 at amazon.com
3. Classic stretch jean jacket, $98 at jcrew.com
4. Tamara Denim Jacket, $109 at ralphlauren.com

Q. I read your advice religiously, but I’ve never had an opportunity to ask a question myself.  Now I have a rather important one.  I’m a 21-year-old medical student about to begin my clinical rotations in New York hospitals, so I’m finally expected to dress the part of a respectable physician.  As a student, I’m effectively broke, making finding nice looking suits rather difficult.  I’m 6 feet tall, usually a size 8 in jeans, with a DD bust, so I’m also rather proportionately odd.  Do you have any suggestions as to where I can find suits worth investing in?  What type of work wear ought I be seeking out in order to look my best?  
-Clinically Confused

A. On an “effectively broke” budget, it may be smart to buy two suits and then invest in separates like skirts, pants and jackets that can be swapped with other pieces. Add in some well fitting button down shirts that keep your look crisp and professional plus some good sweaters.  You’re a 21-year-old doctor that will probably be wearing a doctor’s coat over your clothes, so a suit jacket may not be necessary everyday. I looked for suits and some additional pieces that will help give you a look of a respectable professional and kept it all under $250.

Start with a two-option suit consisting of a tailored jacket, great fitting pants and a slim skirt. In addition to your two suit choices, you can wear any of the 3 pieces as separates paired with other items in your wardrobe. This will be your biggest investment.

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Super 120s collection from jcrew.com, available in several colors and sold as separates ranging from $118 to $240.

Add in some stylish knits to layer over crisp shirts to pair with your pants and skirts. The shirts can be worn alone as well.

Slim stretch shirtBCBG Max Azria Empire Waist Smocked TopShort-sleeve chainlink blouse

Cotton short-sleeve darted blouse3/4 Sleeve Puff CardiganWool Lycra Crepe Collared Pullover

1. Slim stretch shirt, $59.50 at jcrew.com
2. BCBG Max Azria Empire Waist Smocked Top, $145 at bloomingdales.com
3. Short-sleeve chainlink blouse, $68 at bananarepublic.com
4. Cotton short-sleeve darted blouse, $58 at bananarepublic.com
5. 3/4 Sleeve Puff Cardigan, $88 at armaniexchange.com
6. Wool Lycra Crepe Collared Pullover, $158 at maxtudio.com

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