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Q. I have several “big” events this year. The first is a late-July family wedding in the Midwest that won’t be terribly formal. The second is my (gulp) 20-year high school reunion on September 1 in Phoenix, which also won’t be terribly formal, and the last is the wedding of my closest friend in Santa Fe on September 8, also not formal, but probably dressier than the other events. I would like to have one dress to wear to each since there will be entirely different people at each event. The problem is that the first event is smack in the middle of summer, and the last event is just in the very beginning of fall. I was leaning towards a halter-style neckline dress with an empire waist (I am short and curvy and find this style highlights the shoulders and bust while hiding my non-flat tummy) and have fallen in love with a chiffon one that is black with white polka dots. Will this be too summery to wear to the September 8 wedding? If so, do you have any other suggestions of dresses in the style described that would be in a color and fabric that is more seasonless?
-Multi-Function

A. Your black and white polka dot choice will certainly work for all three events. I like that you thought beyond a simple black dress and chose a pattern. With none of the same people at any of the events, you have multiple options. A little black dress can be switched in a myriad of ways with different accessories and heels while a patterned or colored dress makes a fresh and more stylish impression. I found several flattering options for a petite, curvy figure:

Sexy Red Dresses
from edressme new yorkAdrianna Papell Floral Silk Halter DressAdrianna Papell Floral Silk Halter DressMaggy London Print Charmeuse Halter DressMaggy London Silk Chiffon Halter Dress

left to right: Sexy Red Dresses from edressme new york, $42 at edressme.com; Adrianna Papell Floral Silk Halter Dress, $178 at nordstrom.com; Adrianna Papell Floral Silk Halter Dress, $179 at nordstrom.com; Maggy London Print Charmeuse Halter Dress, $178 at nordstrom.com; Maggy London Silk Chiffon Halter Dress, $148 at nordstrom.com

Q. I am a size 14-16 and I am 5’8” and work in a bank. We have strict rules on no back or tummies to be revealed when bending over and raising your arms. Where can I find reasonably priced tops and pants that give enough rise and length to be professional? I also wear jeans on casual days and my jeans sit just below my waist. I need a pair that doesn’t cling to my thighs so I have wiggle room.
-Clothes Don’t Fit

A. I scoured our online sources for professional choices that will give you coverage in the front and back. For waist coverage, wide bands around the waistline can be flattering. Plus the new belted and tunic styles are stylish and cut longer and belted styles will help create an illusion of a smaller waist. Or try one of this season’s cropped jackets over a longer tunic or tank. For pants, look for styles that have a slightly wider leg. If you opt forjeans, trouser styles are flattering with a wider leg cut, they look more professional - plus you can dress them up for a night out.

Belted tunic with button detailVivid print cap-sleeve blouseBelted railroad-stripe shirtEyelet cotton pique jacket
Semantiks Faux Wrap Sweater Solid Chelsea wide-leg pant Svoboda 'Kate' Stretch Denim Trouser Jeans Jones New York Collection Flat Front Crepe Pants

left to right: Belted tunic with button detail, $24.99 at lanebryant.com; Vivid print cap-sleeve blouse, $44.50 at lanebryant.com; Belted railroad-stripe shirt, $39.50 at lanebryant.com; Eyelet cotton pique jacket, $79.50 at lanebryant.com; Semantiks Faux Wrap Sweater, $58 at nordstrom.com; Solid Chelsea wide-leg pant, $49.50 at lanebryant.com; Svoboda ‘Kate’ Stretch Denim Trouser Jeans at nordstrom.com; Jones New York Collection Flat Front Crepe Pants, $99 at nordstrom.com

Q. I just found these fabulous Paige Denim jeans at Nordstrom Rack and bought them because they seriously fit like a dream! They are ivory—when is it OK to wear them? In my opinion, they look great with spring colored tops, a cute, fitted dark denim jacket and tan strappy sandals. But can I wear them in summer and fall? What’s the rule with off-white?
—Dreaming of Jeans

A. You’ve bought a pair of jeans you can wear all year just by changing the fabrication of your tops. In summer, pair your new jeans with tanks, camisoles, short sleeve tops and tees and add sandals. In fall and winter, pair them with darker hued sweaters, tops and fitted jackets and add boots.

Q. I will be going through sorority recruitment this summer and need help finding some appropriate clothes. Clothing is among the many ways a person is judged and I need some help of what to wear that is appropriate and stands out in a good way. Can you suggest any fun yet classy outfits? Thanks very much.
-Girl in a Rush

A. It will be summer so you’ll be dealing with hot temps and you want to look cool. First step is to make a list of the types of activities you’ll be involved in, including meet and greets, interviews and parties. Look for stylish tops to pair with chic shorts and espadrilles, sundresses with great earrings, big cuff or a beaded necklace, and skirts with a top and wide belt. And incorporate espadrilles, strappy sandals and cute ballet flats with your outfits.

Try pairing colorful accessories with a simple dress that can be dressed up or down:

V-neck jersey knit dressGlass-bead necklaceFrosted Palmetto bangle

left to right from jcrew.com: V-neck jersey knit dress, $88; Glass-bead necklace, $25; Frosted Palmetto bangle, $65

You can’t go wrong with a flirty floral dress. Or pair a white patent belt with this simple eyelet dress:

Velvet Torch Scoop Neck Empire DressRuby Rox Eyelet Shirtdress Patent Leather Skinny Belt

left to right: Velvet Torch Scoop Neck Empire Dress, $52 at nordstrom.com; Ruby Rox Eyelet Shirtdress, $52 at nordstrom.com; Patent Leather Skinny Belt, $29 at ardenb.com

Mix and match feminine tops with skirts:

Free People Coarse Cotton Tie TopGabby TunicGina Top

Pindot skirtAnchor mini

left to right: Free People Coarse Cotton Tie Top, $68 at urbanoutfitters.com; Gabby Tunic, $32.50 at delias.com; Gina Top, $26.50 at delias.com; Pindot skirt, $118 at jcrew.com; Anchor mini, $69.50 at jcrew.com

Finally, add some cute top & shorts combinations for casual days:

Coco Halter  $26.50 7" chino shortFree People Pool Side Blossom7" chino shortFree People Scarf Cami5" chino short,

left to right: Coco Halter, $26.50 at delias.com; 7” chino short, $39.50 at jcrew.com; Free People Pool Side Blossom, $59.99 at urbanoutfitters.com; 7” chino short, $39.50 at jcrew.com;; Free People Scarf Cami, $58 at urbanoutfitters.com; 5” chino short, $39.50 at jcrew.com

Q. I love all of your helpful advice! I am writing because lately I have been longing for a sweater dress, in a slightly shorter length (above the knee, but not obscenely so). The problem is most that I find are too thin/sheer, or simply cost an arm and a leg. I love the ones from Vince with the pockets, but they are too pricey. I don’t mind paying more for a wardrobe staple but not for something as trendy as this. I am looking for something in the $50-150 range, any ideas?
-Bare Knit

A. We’re past the season for all the sweater dress best picks. I found very few at this time of year that fell within your price range since this time of year is really about sundresses. Go with the warm weather looks instead and come Fall you’ll have multiple knobby knit picks.

 5389712Jpers2001717878 201X396Yayaa1050812560 201X396

left to right: Kersh Kimono Sleeve Tunic, $78 at nordstrom.com; James Perse Long Short Sleeve Cardigan, $188 at shopbop.com; Ya-Ya Swahili Beach Marine Dress, $184.80 at shopbop.com

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