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Q. I’m 5’1" and would love a classic trench coat.  What style would look best and do they come in petite sizes?
-Small Coverage

A. A trench is always on my top ten list of classic pieces a woman should have in her wardrobe. I spent big bucks on my Burberry trench two years ago which I adore - and since it has a button-out wool lining, I can wear it all year long. I’ve truly gotten my “cost per wear ratio” down to low numbers with all the times I’ve worn mine. A trench can be ideal for nasty rainy weather, but also be that “go to” coat to wear over dresses or skirts when you need a polished appearance. For petite heights you should shop for petite sizes to fit you correctly in the shoulders, or look for more fitted styles that hit around knee length.

Petite Nylon Trench Coat Calvin Klein Short Belted Trench CoatMichael Kors Three Quarter Trench Coat with Removable Lining Gallery Three Quarter Trench Coat


1. Petite Nylon Trench Coat, $198 at anntaylor.com
2.  Calvin Klein Short Belted Trench Coat, $188 at nordstrom.com
3. Michael Kors Three Quarter Trench Coat with Removable Lining, $148 at nordstrom.com
4.  Gallery Three Quarter Trench Coat, $148 at nordstrom.com

Q. I am a 28 year old from India. I feel like I am stuck in a style rut. I am 5’ 2" and weigh about 140. I have an extremely curvy body  - slim waist and "big" everything else. I want to know what are the basics I should have in my wardrobe. I have never worn a skirt or a sleeveless top before because I feel I am too fat. I want to try out something new, but I am terribly confused.
-Body Discomfort

A. Your basics are similar to most women, regardless of their size. You need a pair of jeans (look for a boot cut style), white button down shirt, v-neck sweater, black pants, a coat that hits just above the knee, and heels and boots for Fall/Winter that have a medium size heel. Dress in more monochromatic colors - same or similar colors from head to toe - to elongate your look. Skip chunky and heavy jewelry. Avoid anything with ruffles and bows or thick sweaters that may add bulk. And skip skirts that hit mid-calf you’ll only look shorter. Look for tops that hit below your waistline and embrace vertical lines in tops and pants.

Make a point of shopping in petite departments of stores and seek out designers who offer petite sizes like Liz Claiborne, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Lands End, J. Crew, Petite Sophisticate and J. Jill.

Here are a few items to consider adding to your wardrobe:

Petite Donegal Tweed Military JacketBr526769-08P01V01Petite Collection Silk Blend Box Pleat SkirtPetite animal-print skirt

1. Petite Donegal Tweed Military Jacket, $159 at lizclaiborne.com
2. Petite shawl collar sweater, $68 at bananarepublic.com
3. Petite Collection Silk Blend Box Pleat Skirt, $128 at lizclaiborne.com
4. Wear this skirt with opaque tights and solid pumps or knee high boots. It probably won’t be nearly as mini on you. You’re only 28 so don’t dress too old for your size yet. Petite animal-print skirt, $78 at bananarepublic.com

Petite Collection Embellished Voile Empire DressPetite floral faux-wrap dressPetite lightweight wool A-line dressPetite feminine military coat

5. Add a cardigan to this dress for cooler temps. The wide shoulder “straps” will hide bra straps and give your better coverage. Petite Collection Embellished Voile Empire Dress, $298 at lizclaiborne.com
6.  V-neck styles are the most flattering for busty gals. Petite floral faux-wrap dress, $128 at bananarepublic.com
7. Dare to bare your arms in this adorable dress that can work for day or evening. Petite lightweight wool A-line dress, $148 at bananarepublic.com
8. Petite feminine military coat, $228 at bananarepublic.com

Q. I am going to my High School 10th Year Reunion. The theme is Havana Nights (we are in Miami, FL). I am 5’0”, plus sized and 28 yrs. old. My biggest issue is my abs. Empire cut dresses make me feel and look pregnant - it seems these are the only options of dresses cut for plus sized women I’ve found. I am Hispanic and short.
-Dress Crave

A. There’s no reason you can’t samba in style. While many designers are offering empire cut dresses and not just for plus size this season, there are still many options that will offer you a more flattering fit. Look for dresses that have wide banded waist areas or wide belts. And don’t forget the waist “flattening” capabilities of shapewear to help create a smooth illusion and a better fit of the dress. Check out some of these dresses to look hot and sassy at Havana nights from alight.com, kiyonna.com and silhouettes.com.

Future Floral Dress by Mlle GabrielleMadeline Rainbow Peacock Dress by Monif CFirst Blush Dress by Blue Plate

Lifes A Beach Dress
by Donna RiccoBorder Print DressRuched Surplice Dress

left to right:
1. Future Floral Dress by Mlle Gabrielle, $48 at alight.com
2. Madeline Rainbow Peacock Dress by Monif C, $238 at alight.com
3. First Blush Dress by Blue Plate, $54 at alight.com
4. Lifes A Beach Dress by Donna Ricco, $138 at alight.com
5. Border Print Dress, $59 at silhouettes.com
6. Ruched Surplice Dress, $116 at kiyonna.com

Q. I am 5’6” and weigh 135. I have had two children with one being a c-section and I have a small “pouch” left from the surgery. I do not like the way it looks in the current clothing I have. Do you have any advice on cute tops and shorts/pants that will cover the pouch and not make me look like I am pregnant again? I wear about a size 8.
-Belly Banish

Not Your Daughter’s JeansYou want to look for pants and shorts that aren’t on the down low, meaning: skip low rise styles. Jeans and pants that sit on your waist will give you a slimmer appearance. Look for bottoms that have a little Lycra to give you room to breathe while helping to slim. Check out Not Your Daughter’s Jeans, they have an endless variety that will slim your tummy. Don’t let the name throw you, these are not “mom jeans”, these are stylish bottoms that will give you good tummy tuck control.

Don’t forget about the infinite intimate apparel options that can help flatten your tummy so you can still wear what you want on the outside. Look at choices from Spanx, Barely There and Donna Karan The Body Perfect Collection which you can find at barenecessities.com and figleaves.com. Also, check out our style recipe Underneath It All for more slimming ideas.

As for tops, empire waisted tops can hide a tummy, but be aware that too much extra fabric can also billow out and make you look pregnant. Look for tops that have a bit of stretch again and be sure the tops are long enough to cover your stomach fully without rising up.

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

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