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Q. I am attending a Business Holiday party.  I do not want to wear a dress. The party is at a very nice house with about 80 people and the dress code is holiday casual.  I have a black velvet sport coat, black velvet trouser pants and black open toed patent leather heals and a red patent leather clutch to carry but I am not sure what blouse to wear, I somewhat like to look sexy but not sleazy any suggestions.
-Festive Fun

A. Sounds like you have a festive holiday outfit to wear to the party. So all you need is a slightly sexy top that works with your velvet ensemble and red clutch.  I’ve found multiple tops that have shine, sheen, sex appeal and are attractive all on their own if you choose to take your velvet jacket off and get jiggy with it.

Ruffle Front Empire BlousePlaid TubeSilk braided halter topSolid silk Elizabeth halterAlice & Olivia Beaded V Neck Top

1. Ruffle Front Empire Blouse, $58 at
2. Plaid Tube, $39 at
3. Silk braided halter top, $78 at
4. Solid silk Elizabeth halter, $88 at
5. Alice & Olivia Beaded V Neck Top, $297 at

Diana Long Strapless DressQ. I just discovered your website and love it… My question is: I’m attending a black tie affair with my husband in January. I have purchased a long, strapless, satin black dress from Ann Taylor that I love for this evening event. We live in a very cold area- what kind of coat should I wear? I have several long, wool coats (one is a pea coat, another is plain) but they seem too casual. I won’t wear fur. Also, what length should the coat be?

-Coat Cover

A. I admit sometimes I have sacrificed warmth in order to wear the shoes or dress that’s best for the occasion. I figure, I’m going from the car or cab straight to the event. And I walk quite fast so even if I had to park a car, I can be quick to get into the destination.  That said, it doesn’t mean I enter looking like a schlub. I choose the best jacket or coat that works with my outfit. So say something nice to your husband and perhaps he’ll drop you at the door of the party while he parks the car and say thank you a few extra times. It’s hard to find a long enough coat to work with a formal gown and even if you bought one, I don’t know if you’d wear it enough to be worth the investment. So look for a dressier style coat whether long or short to pair with your gown and pretty gloves and scarf if needed.

 Tulle Funnel Neck Coat Kristen Blake Fluted Sleeve CoatMackage Cape
INC International Concepts® Double-Breasted Empire-Waist CoatJuicy Couture Faux Fur Swing Coat

1. Tulle Funnel Neck Coat, $78 at
2. Kristen Blake Fluted Sleeve Coat, $248 at
3. Mackage Cape, $369.99 at
4. INC International Concepts® Double-Breasted Empire-Waist Coat, $74.81 at
5. Juicy Couture Faux Fur Swing Coat, $448 at

Q. I really like the look of tucking my jeans into my boots.  However, whenever I try to do this I think it just looks wrong.  I feel like I always end up with a bulge from the jeans (even with my skinny jeans). Is there a correct way to get the look?  Also what boot do you recommend to achieve this look?
-Baggy Knees

 Images 200 3711A. We all have that same issue. Usually it’s easier with skinny jeans, but the moment we sit down and get comfortable the jeans start rising in our boots and suddenly it’s baggy jean syndrome when we stand. An old school trick that comes from the horsey set is to attach stretch clips under you foot to either side of your jeans to hold them down when you sit down or move around. It’s a way to get the look that comes from breeches without looking like a throwback from the ’80s. Check out for pant clips.

Q. I am a 22 year old student working at a bookstore. Some days I work in the cafe where our uniform is all black, and others I work on the book floor where the uniform is dress/business casual, basically just no jeans. I am 5’1" and a size 16. I want to look unique but professional on the book floor, and also need some color! I am having trouble because I love the girly bows and knits and vintage looks out right now, but don’t want to look too young because of my stature. One other concern I have is that I have a large chest, and don’t want to have a lot of cleavage showing, but don’t want to be completely covered up in a turtleneck.
-Black & Color

A. You have to be careful if you’re petite and busty with bows and ruffles that can add extra bulk and attention. I adore that you want color since one job requires an all black wardrobe. I stuck with top choices in a variety of styles, all bright colors and no turtlenecks. And always wear a good supportive bra that is smooth under your clothes - it can make a big difference in how your clothes fit.

Modal Scoopneck Tee w/ Flirty TiesSatin TrenchStudio 1940® layered metallic sweater Rocawear Brown Knit Houndstooth Trim Belted Top

1. Modal Scoopneck Tee w/ Flirty Ties, $66 at
2. Satin Trench, $99.50 at
3. Studio 1940 layered metallic sweater, $26.99 at
4.  Rocawear Brown Knit Houndstooth Trim Belted Top, $58 at

Untitled1-2Q. I really enjoy your column - I get such useful advice, and now I have a question of my own…  I just bought this orange felted wool skirt. It seemed so fresh and fun with its mod styling, but I would really like to be able to wear it to work in my business casual office.  I tried it on with a cream sweater and brown boots and felt like a Thanksgiving centerpiece!  Help. What can I wear with this without being over-the-top?
-Color Me Happy 

A. I bought the same skirt in the bright blue color, so while you may be looking for ways to tone down the look, I am embracing the color and happy vibe I’m sure it will give off. I’m surprised you felt like a turkey centerpiece when you chose such neutral pieces to wear with the skirt. Perhaps you need to just grin and bear it when you walk out the door until a few steps later when you’ll feel the confidence kick in for making a bold color choice. Brights will always get more attention, that’s why I adore orange at times for the fun mood it puts me in.  How can anyone be sour in orange?  I’ve pulled together options for toning down the look to pair with your brown boots, plus a brighter color (that may just be the one you receive the most compliments wearing!) Walk tall. 

Wool-blend dolman-sleeve sweaterStriped cashmere antler sweaterCosy WrapCircle Applique Top

1. Wool-blend dolman-sleeve sweater, $128 at
2. Striped cashmere antler sweater, $99.99 at
3. Boden Cosy Wrap, $104 at
4. Circle Applique Top, $68 at

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