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Q. I am attending a black tie wedding (4 pm, followed by evening reception) in London, England, in May.  I  bought a navy chiffon cocktail-length dress, but I am told that my head has to be covered for the ceremony.  I know that women wear hats to English weddings, but I thought that was for daytime ceremonies. What should I do with black tie?
- Indiana to London

A. OOOH, have some fun with wearing a hat and enjoy a proper English wedding. I adore the idea and you can have fun with the extra accessories. Channel your inner Diana, Fergie and Queen and set your sights on something that adds a bit of sophisticated prim to your look.  And be sure to stash a thin comb and a travel hairspray for hair touch ups once you’ve removed your chapeau for the reception.

Helen Kaminski Kaylee HatNordstrom Ribbon Trim Straw HatLouise Green Lace Hat

left to right: Helen Kaminski Kaylee Hat, $85 at (TIP: Try tying a navy satin ribbon around the hat to dress it up a bit); Nordstrom Ribbon Trim Straw Hat, $58 at; Louise Green Lace Hat, $225 at

Q. I’m so sick of carrying two bags to work.  Usually, it’s my purse and another tote bag for mail, magazines, lunch or whatever.  And when I bring my laptop into work, that’s three bags total!  It’s just too much! Every bag I find big enough seems too athletic or “LL Bean” looking which is just not my style.  Any ideas on one classy, stylish bag I can use for work? 
-Need to Subtract 

A.  You need the perfect carryall for just about everything.  We call that the BIG bag.  You should stick to one large bag that holds the items that were originally in your purse, plus the mags, mail and lunch. Then for the few times you carry your laptop, get yourself a stylish laptop bag or padded sleeve.

When filling your new BIG bag, be aware that we women tend to fill all that extra space with everything we own, making the bag too cumbersome and heavy to carry comfortably. Pare down to just the basics you need for every day. You don’t need to carry all your cosmetics, just powder, lip color, gloss and hand cream.  Keep any other additions or nonessential items in your desk drawer, even if it means buying duplicates to keep at home and at work.

I’ve chosen a few bags that I believe will help you carry your daily needs:

Hype Handbags Cheyenne SatchelMarc by Marc Jacobs King Pin Forbidden ShopperMichael Kors 'Yacht Club Large' Shopper

L.A.M.B. Devon ToteMichael Kors Big Valley North/SouthB17159 A-1

left to right: Hype Handbags Cheyenne Satchel, $173 at; Marc by Marc Jacobs King Pin Forbidden Shopper, $388 at; Michael Kors ‘Yacht Club Large’ Shopper, $348 at; L.A.M.B. Devon Tote, $650 at;  Michael Kors Big Valley North/South, $368 at; Cole Haan Paige Collection Large Convertible Tote, $425 at

Laptop sleeves and cases, keep your choice simple and sleek:

Talene Reilly Reese Laptop ToteCase Closed Bob w/Fashion Girl LiningKara B Laptop Bags The Euro Briefcase,

Timbuk2 Quilted Laptop Sleeve-LargeMango Tango Faux Croc Laptop BagAcme Made Designer Slim

left to right: Talene Reilly Reese Laptop Tote, $230 (sale) at lunaboston;  Case Closed Bob w/Fashion Girl Lining, $50 (sale) at; Kara B Laptop Bags The Euro Briefcase, $86.95 at; Timbuk2 Quilted Laptop Sleeve-Large, $35.95 at; Mango Tango Faux Croc Laptop Bag, $49.99 (sale) at; Acme Made Designer Slim, $149.99 at

Q. Would you pair a black shirtdress with a navy blue leather belt, or are the colors too closely matched? Should I opt for a more contrasting color?

A. I love the idea of a contrasting color like red, burgundy, olive green or even white when the weather turns warm. Here are a few options that would look great with a black dress:

Cynthia Rowley Leather Obi Belt Two Tone Obi Belt Patent Leather High Waist BeltLeatherock Wide Patent Leather Belt

left to right: Cynthia Rowley Leather Obi Belt, $78 at;  Two Tone Obi Belt, $78 at;  Patent Leather High Waist Belt, $68 at; Leatherock Wide Patent Leather Belt, $68 at

Gloves for black tie?

Q. Do you wear short gloves to an afternoon black tie affair? 

Picture 3-2A. Wearing short gloves all depends on the dress you’re wearing.  Black tie is black tie no matter if it’s afternoon or evening. While many women don’t even think of wearing gloves, it can be seen as a sophisticated and elegant look.  It works best with dresses that are sleeveless to 3/4 length sleeves since it’s best to see where the gloves end and a peek of some skin.

satin gloves, shown left, $40 at

Bridal fashion sizing

Q. I am going to be a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding this fall. She is letting us choose the style of the dress but she chose the color.  Cool, I thought.  The problem is that my size is not my size. Ok, I wear a 6 or 8 in all my pants, jeans, suits and dresses whether it’s Joe’s Jeans, Moschino, Gap, BCBG, or Cynthia Vincent, etc.  BUT the dress people at David’s Bridal told me my size is a 14! I’m flipping out.  I could never fit into a 14. I’m 137 pounds. So tell me, what is with these gown companies? 
-Schizophrenic Sizing 

A. Ouch! You’re not the first to have that “sticker shock” when reading the size label on the dresses or have the bridal salesperson looking at your body and suddenly claim a size horrifically larger than you’ve ever seen grace your curves. It seems cruel. BUT, don’t get hung up on the size of your dress.  Do you think you’re going to get a shake down at the wedding and someone’s going to scream out the size on the label? Most bridal designers offer their dresses in larger sizes with the assumption that the dresses for both bride and bridesmaid will be tailored to specifically fit her body shape, whether it be to hold and support larger breasts and a slim waist or fit a girl with a small bust, but with curvy hips and thighs.  So stop flipping out and know that you won’t get the pat down and be forced to divulge the size to your friends and, perhaps, beau.

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