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Q. I absolutely love your column on StyleBakery. Here’s my situation: I work in an office with absolutely no dress code. People wear anything from flip flops and sweat pants to traditional business casual wear. I’m a 23 year old graphic designer, and one of the youngest ones here. As I try to advance in the company, I’d like my wardrobe to reflect that I’m professional and ambitious, and still be able fit in with the VP who wears golf skirts, or the Director who wears trousers and a button-down. Any ideas?
-Office Uncertainty

A. Sweat pants at work - really?  Clearly that person would rather be home on the couch.  Don’t follow that person’s lead for wardrobe cues. You’re in a creative field where many have obviously taken liberties with no dress requirements. Avoid the influence of others’ unfashionable wardrobes and make your workplace wardrobe consistently stylish with dark denim trousers, fitted jackets, cool sweaters, a sweater dress belted at the waist, wrap dresses or comfy jersey styles and add a tweed pair of pants as well.  Looking good and getting the job done well will advance your career further than just getting the job done in sweats and flip flops.

Q. My husband’s Christmas party is a Hawaiian theme.  What can I wear that doesn’t make me look like a tourist?  The idea of a boxy Hawaiian shirt is making me cringe.  I’d like something that has a nice fit and style, as well as an outfit I could wear after the fact.  I’m 5’ 5" and a size 8, so I’m too heavy for spaghetti strap anything.  It’s the fall, I’m in the Midwest, and I’m having a hard time finding anything floral.
-Lucky Luau

A. It’s a tough time of year when you want flora and fauna to give the illusion of “I’m happy in Hawaii” and don’t want spaghetti straps on a dress. I say "dress" because it will be simplest to find a dress that has an ode to summer feel than a skirt or top with a summery design.  And believe me, I tried. I found some dress solutions that will fit your size 8 frame and all you have to do is wear them with a halter style bra which is easy to find or buy one of those convertible multi-bras. Then add heels and have your husband buy you some flowers so you can put a blooming flower behind your ear or in your hair if you pin it up.

 Adrianna Papell Floral Silk Halter Dress Donna Ricco Sleeveless Double V-Neck DressTiered Floral Halter Dresses Lux Silk Embroidered Dress


1.  Adrianna Papell Floral Silk Halter Dress, $178 at nordstrom.com
2.  Donna Ricco Sleeveless Double V-Neck Dress, $138 at nordstrom.com
3. Tiered Floral Halter Dresses, $85 at edressme.com
4.  Lux Silk Embroidered Dress, $58 at urbanoutfitters.com

 

Q. I bought a new pair of gray pants to wear this winter, but I’m not sure what color tops I can wear with them. I tend to look better in warmer colors, but is it okay to pair yellow undertones with the cool of gray? What will look best with the pants without washing me out?
-Gray Lady

A. Get your gray on with a multitude of colors. I find that gray and brown bottoms lead to a richer mix of styles and colors than your basic black. Gray and brown can be a canvas while black can sometimes just be a backdrop; a color you settle for when you don’t want to take a chance. Gray can look lovely and feminine with pink, lavender, yellow and baby blue and rich with burgundy, olive and hunter green. Paired with teal it can add a bit of color to your face, while a navy pairing looks sophisticated. Since the gray is on your bottom half, you really needn’t concern yourself with looking washed out. Choose top colors that enhance your skin tone and have a flattering fit.

Here are some pretty tops to pair with your gray bottoms:

Emma Ruffle Top  Lux Daydream Blouse Deity Satin Blouse

1. Emma Ruffle Top , $34.50 at delias.com
2.  Lux Daydream Blouse, $29.95 at urbanoutfitters.com
3.  Deity Satin Blouse, $48 at urbanoutfitters.com

Laundry by Shelli Segal Washed Silk Wrap BlouseWalter Leopard Chiffon BlouseSemantiks Printed Silk Blouse

4. Laundry by Shelli Segal Washed Silk Wrap Blouse, $195 at nordstrom.com
5. Walter Leopard Chiffon Blouse, $143 at nordstrom.com
6. Semantiks Printed Silk Blouse, $78 at nordstrom.com

Q. I’m a preschool teacher and 40 something mom.  But I like to be hip and trendy.  I need ideas to wear to work while it is still warm.  I can’t bear wearing tennis shoes and capris like all the other teachers. We can’t wear jeans or shorts, and most of my heels won’t work on the wood chipped playground.  Any ideas?  I’ve got fall covered with tights, boots, flats, and dresses, but it’s this in-between hot and cold season that has me stumped.
-Still Warm in Kansas

A. Well, you certainly already own the flats that can be worn now, so slip into them. As for bottoms, you can wear cotton pants instead of jeans or shorts and how about some knee length skirts with lightweight cotton tops. And when it gets a little chillier just add a thin jacket or cardigan for recess.

Here are a few layered looks to take you through the fall:

Solid deep V-neck vestSophie peacoat sweater Favorite-fit stretch vintage trouser cords

1. Lilah shirt in satin-stripe floral, $98 at jcrew.com
2. Solid deep V-neck vest, $39.99 at jcrew.com
3. Sophie peacoat sweater, $148 at jcrew.com
4. Favorite-fit stretch vintage trouser cords, $79.50 at jcrew.com

Striped scoopneck waffle hoodieFleece trapeze coat,Khaki striped wide leg pants

Layer a button down top under this striped hoodie and add the fleece peacoat for chillier days on the playground .

1. Striped scoopneck waffle hoodie, $26.50 at gap.com
2. Fleece trapeze coat, $59.50 at gap.com
3. Khaki striped wide leg pants, $59.50 at gap.com

BCBGMAXAZRIA Empire Poplin Shirt Womyn 'Olivia' Stretch Twill Pants

1. BCBGMAXAZRIA Empire Poplin Shirt, $138 at nordstrom.com
2. Womyn ‘Olivia’ Stretch Twill Pants, $154 at nordstrom.com

Q. I am attending a close friend’s evening wedding in late October. I have chosen a deep turquoise strapless bubble hem dress for the event. I am, however, unsure how to style this for a cool fall evening. Should I wear tights and heels? What kind of cover-up should I wear?
-Wear With What

Love Quotes ScarvesA. For a wedding, many of us will brave the chilly temps to wear great heels and bare a little leg for evening. You will be inside 98% of the time so you can still wear your favorite peep toes or even a strappy if that’s what looks best with the dress.  For weddings, I advise skipping a wedge heel since they hamper a girl that likes to do a lot of dancing.

If you are concerned that your legs will have a permanent case of goose bumps, then wear sheer hosiery in a color that matches either your heels or the dress.  Although turquoise sheer hosiery may be too ”Versace-like” for the wedding crowd. As for the cover-up, you’ll need a jacket to cover you from car to ceremony and ceremony to reception. A trench, ¾ length light coat or even a cropped jacket will do. When indoors, if you get a little chill, look for a lightweight wrap like one from Love Quotes. It will keep your look feminine and pretty whereas a wool wrap in October may look heavy.

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