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Q. I love your website. I have gotten rid of a lot of things in my closet and seriously need to build a new wardrobe. I was wondering what basic pieces I need to have. If you could add a section to your site that shows great basic finds would be great. I am a curvy petite.
-Shapely Figure

A. First off, make it simple and shop from designers that cater to your size so you don’t have to spend even more money heading to the tailor. offers pants in both petite regular and petite short, plus stylish dresses, suits, tops and more. J. Crew, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Liz Claiborne, Gap and Jones New York also make petite sizes.

The classic list of items every woman should have in her wardrobe hasn’t changed much in 25 years, but it’s what you add in that injects your own personality. It can mean colors that brighten or deepen your skin tone, tops with added details or accessories that help liven up a white button down.

I consider the top 10 classics to be:

  1. Well fitting white button down shirts.
  2. Long sleeve and short sleeve shirts, primarily v-neck which is most flattering.
  3. Trench coats. For your size be sure it doesn’t overwhelm your height. Look for belted versions to help define your waist and a style that you can wear with suits, dresses and jeans. A truly versatile style will also have a zip out or button out wool lining.
  4. Black pants. Nowadays, it’s also good to have navy, chocolate, khaki and white for choices all year.
  5. Dark denim jeans. A pair that can be dresses up with heels for evening and ballet flats to run around doing errands.
  6. Turtleneck, v-neck and cardigan sweaters in black and other various colors.
  7. One good suit, but if your career doesn’t require a suit, then just buy a good blazer that you can pair with trousers and jeans. It is a polished look to wear a button down shirt, blazer and dark jeans.
  8. Dresses. Go for a wrap style and a v-neck dress that is fitted on the top half and has an a-line bottom half.
  9. Skirts. For a curvy, petite figure look to score a-line shapes and avoid full skirts and straight up and down pencil styles.
  10. Additional tops that have flirty features, but are not laden with ruffles and bows. Too many girly features on a petite figure can make you appear like a little girl rather than a woman.

Q. Stumbled onto your web page while looking for a jean jacket for my wife.  She had this beautiful Gap cropped, longer sleeved jean jacket with pearl snap buttons and a paisley cotton inside liner (size M) w/ 1969 collection logo on it. I think it may have been a special edition because it cost around $160 and most items don’t cost that much from the Gap. It has since torn and I want to replace it as a gift but can’t find it anywhere.  Do you know where I can buy or locate this jacket?  I contacted Gap and they said they don’t make it any more.  Need help.  Would pay almost anything.
-Pulling Threads

A. No slam dunk on this one, sorry.  My search came up empty, but you may have better luck finding a gently worn replicate on ebay. If the jacket cannot be repaired by a tailor and you’ve exhausted your search, then it’s time to shop for a new jean jacket. This is not necessarily the prime time for jean jacket shopping season, but I did find some styles that may appeal to your wife.

Lauren Jeans Co. Classic-Fit Denim JacketLucky Brand Jeans Denim Dark Wash Jacket82535 Bl8821 M Hol07Ppolo2-4114573 Alternate4 V330

1. Lauren Jeans Co. Classic-Fit Denim Jacket, $109 at
2. Lucky Brand Jeans Denim Dark Wash Jacket, $45.99 at
3. Classic stretch jean jacket, $98 at
4. Tamara Denim Jacket, $109 at

Q. I need more formal business suits – think Washington politico or federal agent.  I’ve been down the J.Crew and Banana Republic roads (I own a basic black Banana suit that I love), but where else should I look/try?
-Suit Search

A. Your suit may have to be conservative, but it doesn’t have to be boring.  Look for well-tailored, well fitting suits that step beyond dull box cuts.

Tahari by ASL Solid Skirt SuitTahari by Arthur S. Levine Plaid Skirt Suit & CamisoleGARFIELDMARKS Pinstripe JacketTheory "Andy Albers" Suit Jacket, Blouse, and Pants

1. Tahari by ASL Solid Skirt Suit, $140 (sale) at
2. Tahari by Arthur S. Levine Plaid Skirt Suit & Camisole, $320 at
3. GARFIELDMARKS Pinstripe Jacket, $394 and ‘Lori’ Pants, $194 at
4. Theory "Andy Albers" Suit Jacket, Blouse, and Pants at

Q. I’m such a huge fan of your website, please keep up the fantastic work!  I was wondering where I could find a classic checkered houndstooth coat very similar to the one Charlotte had in season six of Sex and the City. Most of the ones I see are modern variations of it, and I’d like a classic look.

A. While I am a big fan of Sex and the City, have seen the whole series and watch the reruns late night, I don’t know exactly which coat you are describing. I still went in search of a range of classic wool houndstooth coats that may appeal to you:

Plaid Winter Wool CoatCynthia Steffe Houndstooth Trench Charles Gray Belt Front Coat
 ABS by Allen Schwartz Plaid Trapeze Coat Mackage Wool Houndstooth CapeletSoia & Kyo Billy Plaid Coat

1. Plaid Winter Wool Coat, $99 at
2. Cynthia Steffe Houndstooth Trench, $210 at
3. Charles Gray Belt Front Coat, $290 at
4. ABS by Allen Schwartz Plaid Trapeze Coat, $407 at
5. Mackage Wool Houndstooth Capelet, $357.90 at

6. Soia & Kyo Billy Plaid Coat, $350 at

Q. I LOVE your column and how you offer such nice advice at a variety of prices.  I’m writing to you for help for my friend, who’s on the hunt for the perfect sweater dress. She tried on some of my sweater dresses (two that are currently sold at the Gap), but, since I’m not even 5’2" and she’s about 5’7", they were too short on her.  Do you know of any nice sweater dresses that: 1) wouldn’t be too short on her, 2) are simple enough that could be mixed into a few different outfits (she likes the color brown), and 3) are relatively cheap (since we’re both graduate students)? 
-Cozy Cover

A. I found several sweater dresses that should be long enough for your 5’7” friend to wear with tights and heels or boots, pair with slim jeans or belt at the waist for a different vibe. And only one is over $100. Stay cozy!

 Lux Funnel Neck Sweater Dress Paul Frank Vanessa Sweater DressThe Kingston Sweater Dress By Triple 5 Soul

Aqua Cashmere Turtleneck DressMaria Sweater Dress

1.  Lux Funnel Neck Sweater Dress, $68 at
2.  Paul Frank Vanessa Sweater Dress, $86 at
3. The Kingston Sweater Dress By Triple 5 Soul, $88 at
4. Aqua Cashmere Turtleneck Dress, $168 at
5. Maria Sweater Dress, $44.50 at

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