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Q. I recently began a new job that requires me to wear suits to work every day. Since colder weather will be approaching soon, I’m wondering what kind of a jacket is a good fit to wear on top of my suits. All of my present jackets are too small to fit over the rather bulky layers that the suit creates.
-Suit Cover

A. You’re looking for a true Fall/Winter coat that is meant to protect your clothing.  If you intend to wear pantsuits and some skirt suits five days a week, you’ll need a coat that falls past your hips to cover the suit jacket. A trench is a great option if you choose one with a zip or button-in lining.  Although a trench, even with a lining, will not keep you very warm in the middle of winter if you intend to be outside often. 

Also look for coats with a slight A-line cut to give you more room and choose one that is a size larger than your clothing since you are covering more bulk than just your body. Best chances of finding the right coat to fit over your suit is to do some shopping with your suit jacket in hand.  Fall jackets are usually lightweight wool or leather and meant for wearing over tops and thin sweaters.

Some suggestions:

Double-faced wool Bella coatCamelhair WalkerKenneth Cole REACTION Extended-Tab Coat

1. Double-faced wool Bella coat, $350 at jcrew.com
2. Camelhair Walker, $400 at bloomingdales.com
3. Kenneth Cole REACTION Extended-Tab Coat, $219 at macys.com

Larry Levine Double-Breasted Walker CoatLondon Fog Trapeze BalmacaanLondon Fog Long Trench Coat with Liner

4. Larry Levine Double-Breasted Walker Coat, $217.50 at macys.com
5. London Fog Trapeze Balmacaan, $198 at nordstrom.com
6. London Fog Long Trench Coat with Liner, $158 at nordstrom.com

Q. I need advice on warm weather career wear. I have been traveling to Florida and the Caribbean quite frequently for work lately. Being a young woman in the corporate world (I’m 23), I feel like I need to look extremely polished and professional to be taken seriously, but I don’t want to look and feel like a sweaty mess! Wearing a full suit would look a bit silly when men are usually in Tommy Bahama shirts. Any advice on what to wear in business settings for a full day in a hot and humid location? I’d love to be in tank tops and flat sandals, but that’s not an option.
-Girl Glow

A. You can still pull together a polished look sans the suit. Skip the high heels and wear lower heeled sandals so when you perspire tricky heels will be one less stress. Stylish Bermuda shorts with sandals or wedges and a stylish top that isn’t revealing has become more acceptable at the office during warm months and a skirt is always “airy” and more cooling. And since it is hot and humid, pack a few extra pieces just in case you have dinner with clients and you want to change into something fresh after getting sticky in one outfit all day. Look for short sleeve or sleeveless tops, but not tanks.

Look 1: try these feminine tops with a pleated chino skirt

Lux Ruffled Oxford BlousePrinted Laurel ruffle blouseSilk animal-print topChino A-line skirt

1. Lux Ruffled Oxford Blouse, $38 at urbanoutfitters.com
2. Printed Laurel ruffle blouse, $88 at jcrew.com
3. Silk animal-print top, $68 at bananarepublic.com
4. Chino A-line skirt, $69.50 at jcrew.com

Look 2: ruffle trim tops with a printed skirt

Ruffled oxford shirtLaurel ruffle blouseLiberty Fabric pop-on skirt

1. Ruffled oxford shirt, $39.50 at gap.com
2. Laurel ruffle blouse, $78 at jcrew.com
3. Liberty Fabric pop-on skirt, $75 at jcrew.com

Look 3: lightweight tops paired with Bermuda shorts

Circle Applique TopCity Stretch Shirt - Twist FrontClean pinstriped Bermuda shortsCity-fit lightweight wool twill bermuda short

1. Circle Applique Top, $68 at bodenusa.com
2. City Stretch Shirt - Twist Front, $9.99 (sale) at nyandcompany.com
3. Clean pinstriped Bermuda shorts, $29.99 at gap.com
4. City-fit lightweight wool twill bermuda short, $98 at jcrew.com

Solid Halter with Tucked PleatesQ. I fell in love with this dress from Cache in red, but the store only had my size in leopard print which isn’t my style. They could special order it in red, but I saw they offer it in the chocolate brown on the website and now I am second guessing whether to buy the bright red. Is it too much for anything other than Vegas or could I wear it to weddings and fancy dinners? 

I love the red but I’m afraid it might be too showy and I might be better off with the espresso color, but I already own a few black dresses and feel that brown might now be different enough. I look great in both browns and reds and have medium dark brown hair and eyes. Should I take the plunge for a red satin dress or should I keep it conservative with the espresso color? Help, I’m confusing myself!
- Vegas Glam or Sophisticated Dull?

A. This is truly a personal decision. You should choose the one that gives you confidence. I love red for its eye-catching appeal and its ability to stand out in a sea of little black dresses. It is certainly siren red, but the chocolate carries some seductive, definitely not dull, sophistication. With the chocolate you could wear bronze, beige, animal print pumps and even plum, burgundy and olive green. With the red you could pair gold, red, black and silver. My suggestion is to make a list of upcoming events where you plan to wear the dress and compare the accessories you have to work with both color choices to switch it up for each occasion. If you want to get the most “life” out of the dress, go with the longer list.

Q. In a few short weeks, I will be moving to Minnesota for veterinary school. I have lived in California all my life, and I was wondering what new basics I will need in my wardrobe (other than coats!) to make it more functional in the changing seasons. I’m on a tight budget, but I’d love to hear what you recommend.
-Cold Weather Wardrobe

A. Cozy, comfortable, warm sweaters, layered over long sleeve tops, button down shirts and thin knit turtlenecks. Corduroy and wool lined pants, wool or knit skirts with opaque tights and at least two good pairs of boots-one with super foot warming powers and the other pair stylish enough for every day wear with a low heel or nearly flat bottom. You’ll need to clean them continually due to the salt used to melt the snow and slush on the streets and sidewalks.

Look for various sweaters to break up the monotony of always bundling up. Choose a long belted sweater, a chunky cable knit and a few basic v-necks and cardigans. Splurge on a few pairs of cashmere or cashmere blends socks if your feet get easily cold like mine.

Here are few under $100 sweater suggestions:

UO Rugby Stripe CardiganLux Reykjavik SweaterFree People 'Colonel' Sweater CoatCalvin Klein Jeans Crochet Cardigan

Esprit  wrap belt sweaterCambridge cable cardiganFeatherweight merino turtleneck sweater

left to right:
1. UO Rugby Stripe Cardigan, $54 at urbanoutfitters.com
2. Lux Reykjavik Sweater, $54 at urbanoutfitters.com
3. Free People ‘Colonel’ Sweater Coat, $98 at nordstrom.com
4. Calvin Klein Jeans Crochet Cardigan, $89 at nordstrom.com
5. Esprit wrap belt sweater, $59.50 at espritshop.com
6. Cambridge cable cardigan, $89 at jcrew.com
7. Featherweight merino turtleneck sweater, $76 at jcrew.com

Q. I could really use your help, my dear hubby is dragging me to a work event where he will be receiving an honor. Attire is “party elegant or business casual” and there will be cocktails followed by a sit-down dinner and “recognition presentations.” Can you translate? I feel like a sundress won’t quite cut it, but can I get away with a nice heavier knit skirt and a dressy sweater? And more importantly, what should my hubby wear? Help! My work is very casual and I don’t know what to do at a fancy corporate event like this!
-Business Befuddled

A. Well, you’re certainly excited about the night out. The term “party elegant” and “business casual” do mean different clothing suggestions. Since your hubby is being recognized, his best look would be to wear a suit or a sport jacket and pants. And since you’ll be on his arm all evening you need to compliment the look of your man receiving recognition even if you expect to be bored. A sundress sounds too cutesy, but a dress without spaghetti straps or a skirt and dressy top will certainly fit the evening dress code(s). And wear heels or strappy sandals with a heel.

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