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Q. Can I carry a black patent leather handbag in the winter?  My mother said only in the Spring.

A. Where have you and your mother been hangin’? Have you not had access to magazines, TV or walked in a department store lately?  I’m not trying to be harsh, but patent leather has saturated the runways, magazines and is available in some form or fashion in just about every store. So let your mom know what the old rules no longer apply and you can sport your black patent leather bag all year long.

Q. Can you give me a few ideas of current fashion trends that work for those who are short-waisted? I’ve heard that wrap sweaters and dresses are good choices. How about wearing longer tops, or using one of the many options for wearing belts?
-Lost on Length

A. To start with, avoid this season’s high-waisted pants. Instead, choose pants and skirts that are low-waisted, hip huggers, hipster pants and low-slung.  Also, pants and skirts without a waistband will usually sit lower. Don’t hesitate to choose pants that have details like cuffs or decorative taping along the sides that will bring the eye downward and create the illusion of length.

Pair shorter skirts with longer jackets to balance your proportions. Wear tops like sweaters, tunics and jackets that hit below your waist, but hit above your behind or you risk shortening the look of your legs.

As for accessories, choose skinny belts that are the same color as your top and wear them below your natural waist to further lengthen the line of your upper body. Dresses are a great choice since they can create the illusion of a longer torso, especially wrap dresses in a pattern that keeps the eye moving. Generally, the wrap part around the waist will sit lower on your body.

Q. A business associate had a colleague comment on the fact that she was wearing a navy suit which is only appropriate in summer.  The suit was modern, tailored with belt and year round weight.  She was wearing a soft blue shell under. Your thoughts on navy in fall and winter?

A. When did navy become appropriate only for summer months? If it were navy linen, then heck yes, put it away until next year, but clearly the business colleague doesn’t have much fashion knowledge.  Navy is an all year round color. It if weren’t, what would men do since they seem to live in navy suits all year long?  For women, we’re lucky we can wear navy in winter as wool dresses, slim cashmere sweaters, navy plaid pants, navy pinstriped pencil skirts…  You can pair navy with plum, burgundy, olive, ruby, purple and more to give the color richness in winter.

Q. Can I wear black sheer hose and traditional black suede pumps to an after work event with the dress below? Or is that too dated looking? Or should I wear a trendier platform-y, peep-toe pump with tights? Can I wear tights with traditional black suede pumps? Or is that too early ’90s?
-Black Mix

200710301204A. Wow, you’re sounding quite flummoxed. For an after work event, you may want to go with a trendier pair of shoes like a peep toe with opaque tights. The point of an after work event is to take a small step away from office  conservative garb without overstepping and baring too much. While black sheer hose and suede pumps will be just fine, I think you can get a little more stylish with this dress. I also like the idea of opaque tights since this dress seems a bit mini.

Q. Do nude or black hose make thick calves look thinner?
-Color Choice

A. Hosiery, no matter the color, is a compression type garment that helps smooth the look of your legs so that clothes fit better. For a slightly slimmer look, choose black hosiery or even black opaque will do a little more to create the illusion of thinness.

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