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Q. I am an outdoorsy girl with a sometimes non-existing sense of style.  I have booked a flight to join some fashionable friends in South Beach, Miami this August for a long weekend of martinis, dining out and hitting the clubs.  I am very excited about the trip but already anxious about what to wear.   I don’t have much of a budget, and would love to know what kinds of pieces to keep my eye out for.  Can you help?
-Sporty Vs. Spice   

A. Miami, particularly South Beach, is a town filled with body conscious people. And while LA and NYC may seem similar with people in fashionable clothes and heading off to the gym, yoga or Pilates, South Beach is a town filled with people showing off their bodies.  And in August it will be hot, hot, hot. So to keep cool and look cool, you’ll need to be a bit daring by showing off a little skin and while still showing off a stylish look.

Silk Printed Halter DressOff Shoulder Trapeze Top Skinny Crop Zipper Jeans

Scarf Print Beaded CamiRubbish Linen Blend ShortsCalvin Klein 'Kimora' Sandal

left to right: try a sultry summer dress like this Silk Printed Halter Dress ($99) from ardenb.com; or pair a sexy top like this Off Shoulder Trapeze Top ($58) with Skinny Crop Zipper Jeans ($118), both from ardenb.com; or try this Scarf Print Beaded Cami ($78) from ardenb.com paired with Rubbish Linen Blend Shorts ($28) from nordstrom.com.  Pair all with sexy espadrilles like these Calvin Klein ‘Kimora’ Sandal ($94.95) from nordstrom.com or cork wedges and you’re set!

Black DressQ. I am trying to get lots of use out of a great little black dress I recently purchased. My first question is about the material - it is a "blister wool" dress. Can I wear this is in spring and summer or only winter? Second, I did not buy the jacket/blazer that goes with the dress but I do need something to cover up with. Would a simple white cashmere cardigan work or do you have any other suggestions? Finally, one of the ways I would like to wear this dress is with fantastic red shoes. I just purchased a pair of the new Stuart Weitzman "Linda" red shoes. I’m trying to decide whether to keep the shoes or not. Would these red patent leather shoes overpower the dress? Most importantly, if I did wear these red shoes, do I have to also wear red accessories (necklace, earrings) or could I wear pearls or a sparkly clear necklace? Do accessories usually need to match the shoes or relate to the shoes in some way if the shoes are a standout color like red? And could I wear the white cardigan or should I go for a nice black cashmere cardigan or something else to keep warm? Thanks for any advice!!
-Little Black Dress Lover

A. You’ve got several more months’ wear with this dress, particularly since it’s a shift tank style. You’re thinking like a true style gal by adding spunky red patent peep toes (keep the shoes) and with your willingness to pair a variety of separates with the dress to stretch your options. Think sophisticated one day and workwear the next.  I’ve picked out several options that will go from work to parties to nights out with girlfriends or guys. As for jewelry, don’t be stuck wearing matching red accessories. Wear gold for simplicity or bigger gold (as in a chunky chain or cuff) for evenings out, pearls for your inner Audrey Hepburn or a patterned silk scarf for Parisian flair.

Frenchi Cap Sleeve Crop BoleroCynthia Rowley Leather Obi BeltAnother Line Animal Print Stretch Belt

Polka-dot merino cardiganStuart Weitzman
LindaCharles Gray Mini Portrait Jacket

left to right: Frenchi Cap Sleeve Crop Bolero, $28 at nordstrom.com; Cynthia Rowley Leather Obi Belt, $78 at nordstrom.com; Another Line Animal Print Stretch Belt, $48 at nordstrom.com; Polka-dot merino cardigan, $95 at jcrew.com; Stuart Weitzman Linda, $245 at zappos.com; Charles Gray Mini Portrait Jacket, $258 at nordstrom.com

Q. Similar to a few other writers, I have a formal wedding in DC in early May. I have a black cotton dress for the rehearsal dinner but it’s sleeveless and I would like something to wear over my shoulders.  I am not really the Pashmina type (they always look funny on me) or fashionably-brave enough to wear a capelet throughout the evening.  Any simple or elegant alternatives?
-No Pashminas Please 

A. Scrap the Pashmina and choose something fresher and more contemporary. Look for a fitted, cropped jacket in knit, cotton or eyelet style.  Or cute cardigan in a pattern will work as well.  Think of your cover up as a piece that works on it own with other pieces in your wardrobe and adds chic style with your little black dress.

For ideas, check out A Fresh Crop, our brand new style recipe featuring the hot new cropped jacket trend.

Q. One question I’ve never seen asked or addressed by stylists is what the perfect length for pants/jeans/slacks is, no matter what the trend (floods, capris, etc.) is. Would you tell me whereabouts on the foot or ankle they should rest?
-Long & Short of It
 

A. Pants always look better than capris or shorts.  As for length, the longer length is more flattering.  Pants should cover the tops of shoes or pumps with just the front of the shoe showing.  Unfortunately, we all wear different heel heights, so when you have pants hemmed you need to figure out if you’ll wear a heel or flats/sneakers with the pants. Generally, we wear our dress pants with heels and we succumb to flats and sneakers with our khakis and casual wear.  Jeans are the trickiest since we wear them with everything from flip-flops to 4 inch heels.  Choose your best looking dark pair for heels and your favorite all-around pair to wear with sneakers, flats and kitten heel heights, then hem them appropriately.

Q. I will be celebrating my upcoming 24th birthday by going on a weekend trip to Las Vegas with my girlfriends.  I normally dress in a very preppy manner and need help finding pieces that are more appropriate for Vegas as opposed to Connecticut.  I must admit that I am the conservative dresser within my group of friends and would like to look stylish, trendy, and young for once so I can fit in with my girls in Sin City. 
-Sin City STyle

A. Since it’s only a weekend, you won’t need much to add a little sass to your preppy wardrobe. Though “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” you are going with friends who will remember and won’t hesitate to remind you.  So be aware of any behavior that you may regret later.

For day, cute colorful skirts and tops work just fine, and you probably already have these in your wardrobe. And of course, a bathing suit for lying by the pool. What you need help with is your party attire for going to a show or playing blackjack. Pack your dark jeans and add a sultry top with details like sequins or something that fits your body and shows just a hint of skin like a bare shoulder. I’m sure I don’t have to even say this to you, but here goes: no midriff-baring tops. 

Then add a fun cocktail dress and heels. Not the kind of dress you’d wear to a wedding, but a fun jersey mini dress or tunic style. Bring along a medium to high heel sandal or wedge and you can wear the same heels with both the dress and the dark jeans and top. Add a jacket, since it gets cold in the desert and those hotel casinos are always air conditioned to keep you awake and gambling.

Some dress picks to give you inspiration:

Lux Printed Deep V Kimono DressLux Flutter Sleeve DressSolid Egyptian cotton boatneck dress

left to right: Lux Printed Deep V Kimono Dress, $58 at urbanoutfitters.com; Lux Flutter Sleeve Dress, $58 at urbanoutfitters.com; Solid Egyptian cotton boatneck dress, $98 at jcrew.com

some sexy tops to pair with a jacket or cardigan and dark slim jeans with heels:

Bow Detail Halter TopOne Shoulder Trapeze TopGrosgrain Cross Back Strap Camisole

left to right:  Bow Detail Halter Top, $48 at ardenb.com;  One Shoulder Trapeze Top, $58 at ardenb.com; Grosgrain Cross Back Strap Camisole, $59.99 (sale) at armaniexchange.com

some cropped jackets and cardigans to layer over your top or dress:

Lux Cropped Dolman Jacket,Empire Waist Tie Front JacketSoft Side Cardigan

left to right: Lux Cropped Dolman Jacket, $48 at urbanoutfitters.com; Empire Waist Tie Front Jacket, $128 at ardenb.com; Soft Side Cardigan, $148 at kennethcole.com

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