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On400615-00P01V01Q. I recently picked up a cute denim vest at old navy, since it was 50% off, I was wondering if I missed the trend and now I would look silly wearing it. I know to stay away from a denim jean/denim vest combo (BAD!!) but I thought with a cute pair of tan corduroys and a white shirt, it might look stylish. What do you think?   

-Not a Cowgirl 

A. I bought a denim vest from Old Navy as well - the fitted pointed bottom version (shown right, still available as of today for $12.99 at oldnavy.com). 

Your cords will be fine with your vest.  But also try it with tweed or herringbone pants or a skirt plus the button down shirt and add one oversized piece of jewelry like a chunky beaded necklace or a big cuff bracelet. Also try a colorful blouse or a short puffed sleeve top.   Here are some suggested looks to consider with a vest, denim or otherwise:

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Q. I love layering my clothing, but sometimes it makes me look FAT. Any suggestions on light layering and layering for the fall?
-Desperately seeking slim 

A. This Fall is all about layering. To pull it off without adding thickness, stay away from bulky knits and multi textured fabrics. Be aware of your proportions and be sure to strike a balance. If you wear a shirt, vest and fitted jacket on top, then keep it slim on your bottom half by wearing a pencil skirt and platform pumps or slim pants and knee high boots.  Consider wearing waist cinching belts over your cozy cardigan and tank combo or keeping the layers minimal like a thin turtleneck under a dress with leggings.  If you believe you look bulky or big once you create your layered look, then you’ll certainly feel self-conscious all day.  Don’t sacrifice self-esteem just to layer your look.  And don’t forget, you may still have to fit a jacket or coat over your layers.

Below left, an example of layering without the bulk from the Max Azria fall runway
Below right, some unrealistic layering from the Marc Jacobs runway

(Photos: Marcio Madeira via style.com)

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Joe-49Cc5136-BckQ. Last year I bought a ton of skinny jeans to wear either tucked in or cuffed big to show off my boot collection … I see that the tucked in look is still around, but is the big cuff?  I love that look but don’t want to do it if it is over…

-Skinny and Cuffed 

A. Go for it! The cuffed look is still in—most of us style gals agree the cuff should be about 5-7 inches thick. (P.S. try your cuffed skinny jeans with a pump too)

Q. Hello! I saw you on “The View” providing fashion advice. You seem young and full of experience. I am mailing you in hopes that you can help my daughter and me.

My problem is that I am approaching 50 years old and I have to this day, NO FASHION SENSE. I feel badly because I have a daughter who is in high school and I so badly want her to be current on the latest fashions and look put together. I also want that for myself, but can’t seem to find anyone in the area that is willing to assist me with these concerns. Can you help me or at least help my daughter become fashion conscious?
-Seeking Style

A. There are so many ways to find and develop your style and have fun spending time with your daughter while doing it.

Picture 1-3 1-Start picking up the latest fashion magazines, the big Fall issues will be jam packed with all the latest trends for Fall. Our favorites are Lucky (realistic choices and price picks), Marie Claire (famous for their splurge vs. steal pages), InStyle and Elle. Sit down at your kitchen table over an afternoon snack or a “just girls” dinner and peruse the pages of the magazines. Tear out the pages with your favorite photos, whether it be the whole outfit, or even just one piece or accessory, and start building a style file. Ignore the prices of the garments when making your choices. This is just the start.

2-Reguarly visit sites like ours (of course), since we choose realistic options from websites, and check out others like style.com and instyle.com where you can watch fashion shows and see photos from the runway shows from all over world.

3-Spend a day or more walking through your local mall and just visiting shops you don’t normally walk into. You may discover a designer that peaks your interest. Take a look at the mannequins in the stores and see how the stores dress them in various designers.

Picture 2-54-Good department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Bloomingdales have personal shoppers. Don’t hesitate to meet with one, they’re free! In fact, go ahead and choose more than one store. When you meet with the personal shopper, explain your concerns, talk about your budget, your size and shape and your daily lifestyle, and add in any upcoming events. Ask her for an assessment and advice. She can direct you to specific designers that fit within your budget and fit for your and your daughter’s body shape and size. She can also take you around the store and make wardrobe suggestions. And when new items come into the store that she believes will be right for you or your daughter, she can contact you and sometimes hold the items until you can get to the store. This same advice can work with a small boutique in your town as well.

5-Other places to shop to help build a stylish wardrobe beyond the well known stores are web sites - I’m a fan of shopbop.com and couturecandy.com. Also try visiting good consignment stores and vintage shops where gently worn clothes are resold. I have snagged some great finds like Gucci sling backs and a Carolina Herrera bag at a deep discount at a consignment store just outside New York.

6-Start building a style by purchasing and wearing classic, simple cut pieces. Don’t purchase trendy items right away unless they’re inexpensive. Find a way to be stylish with a white button down shirt and dark denim jeans by wearing a printed scarf or beaded necklace and a bold belt. Pair it with peep toe wedges or knee high boots. Accessories can have a huge influence on a wardrobe of basic, but good quality pieces. A black sweater with a black pencil skirt can look stylish when worn belted with a patent leather belt and worn with patterned tights and suede pumps in a rich color like teal or burgundy.

7-Don’t be daunted. Fashion is meant to be fun! Dare to make some mistakes. Take an afternoon and go through each other’s closet. Keep what you love and give away those that you don’t, whether to a thrift store for Good Will or into the garbage. Make sure your closets are organized and that you can see what you actually own.

Picture 38-And look around to friends, family and even acquaintances to see whose style you admire. Ask them about which designers they prefer, where they shop and where they find the best deals. We adore the Back Room at Loehmanns and the Italian leather bags are great buys at TJ Maxx and Marshalls.

9-Try on all the clothes you buy and find a good tailor or seamstress to fit clothes to your body. Usually a good dry cleaner has a tailor on the premises. The simplest top or jacket can look flawless when it’s fit to your body. I see mine on a regular basis - I won’t settle for clothes that don’t fit right. It’s worth it to settle when you feel more confident in clothes that look good on your body.

10-If you feel you have some body flaws - a bit of tummy or thighs that don’t seem as firm as they were in your 20s - don’t hesitate to wear shapewear under your clothes. We love Spanx, Bali and Donna Karan pieces. Intimate shapewear can instantly smooth out lumps and bumps and nobody but you has to know.

NOW go have some fun, keep an open mind, laugh loud and often and think of this as a chance to bond with your daughter.

shown here, some looks from jcrew.com - a great resource for classic pieces with a modern spin that can be creatively combined to reflect your personal style

Q. I love the look of skinny jeans. How should I wear them—with what tops and shoes—so that I don’t look like I’m trying to be my teenage daughter? Or should I just skip this look entirely as I had already worn it in the ’80s?
-’80s Comeback

Gp380714-01P01V01A. I have been telling women for years to avoid tapered jeans. Unless you’re slender and have barely-there hips, you’ll only accentuate your hips, butt and thighs and will not look taller. That being said, there are ways to wear this season’s skinny jean in a flattering way. I bought skinny stretch cords and dark jeans for Fall to specifically wear with my mid-calf and knee-high boots. Skinny jeans allow you to slip on your boots over the pants without tucking in or folding. You suddenly look chic, not bunchy. Another way to wear the skinny jean is to pair it with a longer tunic style top or fitted short sheath (just covering your butt and hips) and wear a wide belt slung on the hips or at your waist.

For more jean tips, check out our latest Dream Jeans denim guide.

shown here, Gap Skinny Fit jeans, $58 at gap.com

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