Fashion Fix: What to wear and where to find it

Network News

X Profile
View More Activity
Holly Thomas,Janet Bennett Kelly
Tuesday, November 2, 2010; 12:00 PM

_______________________

Holly Thomas: Happy Tuesday chatters! I'll be taking your q's about all things fashion- and beauty-related today. For our winners, we have a bronzing palette from LORAC and a set of brushes from MAC's new holiday collection. So let's get started!

_______________________

Black Cashmere Sweater Dress: Hello ladies! Love your chats. I recently bought a black cashmere turtleneck sweater dress for $20 at a sample sale. It's form-fitting and hits about mid-thigh. I was planning to wear it to a friend's holiday party with black tights and boots. In the meanwhile, though, could I get away with wearing it over ankle-length black leggings and black ballet flats in a more casual setting? I.e., would that look ridiculous or completely unfashionable? I'm 29 and about a size 4, if that helps. Thank you!

Holly Thomas: Your dress sounds very chic! For the more casual setting, you can definitely go with ballet flats and leggings, though I think opaque tights are a better choice (especially if you're on the petite side, since it gives you a long, lean line from head to toe).

_______________________

Boot care: Good afternoon! Thanks for the chats! I recently purchased a great new pair of boots (these in cognac: http://www.stevemadden.com/Item.aspx?id=42992) and love how they go with everything and can be dressed up or down. But I've been wearing them regularly for about a month, and they are showing wear pretty quickly, around the heels, toe tips, and where they slouch, since I walk about an hour a day in my commute. Any tips for keeping them looking good? I don't mind a bit of the worn-in look, but I still want them to look nice enough for work.

Holly Thomas: Those are lovely! I especially like the color. As for care, make sure you're polishing them regularly and using a good leather protector, especially as the weather starts to get wet and cold. A cobbler should be able to recommend a specific product for your boots -- Cobbler's Bench locations tend to be reliable, and there are several of them around the area.

_______________________

Saturday wedding: Hi ladies,Love your chats. I'm going to a day wedding this Saturday in Richmond and because I'm traveling directly from DC to the wedding location, I will be wearing a wrinkle-free knit dress in the car. It's a lovely slate color with a flattering neckline and goes to my knees--slim fitting (purchased from www.shabbyapple.com). I will wear tights (black, most likely), and a bright blue (in gradients of color) pashmina. What are your thoughts on my shoe options? This is not a matter of life and death, clearly. I already have backups in case I don't come up with anything new, but I just wanted to see what advice you had in store for a loyal reader.Thanks!

Holly Thomas: Since you're wearing black tights, a black pump or knee-high boot will be most flattering, for the same long-and-lean reasons I gave the chatter with the black sweater dress. If the dress hits above the knee (and you're on the tall side), a black ankle boot is another option; if the dress hits below the knee, a short boot will make your legs look shorter.

_______________________

bright tights: Can I wear bright tights (like red or purple) with black shoes and a black dress/skirt? What about other color hemlines? I am in my 40s so don't want to look silly.

Holly Thomas: If you're worried about bright tights making you look silly, try them with knee-high boots to limit the amount of color that's exposed -- a full leg of shocking turquoise could be a little overpowering. But a cute dress, tall boots and jewel-toned tights would look darling.

_______________________

Exercise tops: Where can I find exercise tops that fit a petite, but busty figure? I'm a size 6, but tried on a Nike tank top this weekend and the XL fit my bust. Of course the rest of the top was huge on me. The built-in bra is usually part of the problem. I appreciate any suggestions. Thanks!

Holly Thomas: Have you tried Athleta? The tops section lets you shop by bra zize, which might be helpful. For trying things on in person, you might want to browse a Lululemon or Lucy outpost.

_______________________

For boot care: I recommend you have a protective rubber half sole added to your boots and a rubber cap put on the heel since you do a lot of walking to and from work. This was recommend to me by my cobbler and its really helped in making my shoes and boots last. I am really bad about wearing down my heels.I have this done at Bethesda Shoe and Luggage Repair in Bethesda.

Holly Thomas: Great tip, thanks!

_______________________

nylons or not: I have an interview next week and will be wearing a suit, with a skirt that hits at my knee. I usually do not wear nylons; but, have never interviewed in the fall before. Is it okay to go stocking free or should I wear skin-tone nylons?

Holly Thomas: I think you can go stocking-free, at least as long as the job you're interviewing for isn't ultra-conservative. If it is, try sheer or opaque black tights and pumps.

_______________________

For the chatter seeking exercise tops: I've had great luck with exercise tops and sports bras at Nordstrom. They don't carry many brands, but they will fit you properly and find you a model that's appropriate for your exercise activities. Just a suggestion!

Holly Thomas: Thanks for the suggestion!

_______________________

Slate dress follow-up: Holly,Thanks again! Just for your own viewing pleasure, this is the dress: http://www.shabbyapple.com/skins/Skin_1/ftf/images/popups/apple/70.jpg I'm 5'6", so I'm neither tall nor short.Have a great day!

Holly Thomas: Very cute! I think knee-high boots would look great with this.

_______________________

Mid-Calf Boots: What are your opinions on mid-calf boots on a petite/short person? Ankle boots won't work for me and knee high boots look funny b/c of my knees. They're mid-calf moto-inspired boots. Thanks!

Holly Thomas: The Jil Sander fall runway featured some amazing mid-calf flat leather boots -- I may have swooned a little when I saw them. Mid-calf boots can work on a petite person, but I'd follow some simple guidelines -- keep your color palette muted and neutral, match your tights to your boots (if you choose to wear tights), and aim for a shorter hemline to make your legs look as long as possible.

_______________________

Hideous Plaid Fad: When will this awful plaid fad end? Don't know about DC but here in NYC it looks like the city vomited plaid. It's particularly bad on the men because they seem to wear the same pastel plaids that women are wearing. It's OK to have that one plaid shirt in case you ever find yourself on a hay ride, but that's it.

Holly Thomas: I happen to like plaid (and may or may not be wearing a boy's plaid button-down at this very moment), but you're right, it's a verified trend, which means it's everywhere. As with any trend, moderation is key -- and so is the artful mix, so if you're wearing plaid, layer it with other fabrics, textures and prints to freshen it up. And men should definitely not be wearing pastel plaid right now -- it's November.

_______________________

Is it okay to go stocking free or should I wear skin-tone nylons? : NEVER wear the skin-tone ones. Oh how I hate them.

Holly Thomas: I agree, but a lot of conservative workplaces in the city require them, unfortunately. I'd choose sheer black over sheer nude any day.

_______________________

exercise tops : Title 9 has a good selection, too. www.titlenine.com

Holly Thomas: Another tip for the exercise-top shopper ... thank you!

_______________________

Gloves: Hi ladies, great chats! I always tune in every week. This time, my question for you is, where can I find a pair of warm gloves that hit longer than at the wrist. I'm not talking about opera gloves, just regular gloves are too short so there's a gap between my jacket sleeves and the gloves. Many thanks!

Holly Thomas: Longer gloves are making a comeback this season, thanks to the emphasis on all things ladylike. You should be able to find pairs at J Crew, H&M, Zara and the like ... maybe Forever 21, though I found their accessories section to be a little lacking when I was there last weekend.

_______________________

Boot and shoe care: I found adding the rubber half soles and tips to expensive new boots and pumps not only improved wear but also added traction while walking. Since it's not a cheap upgrade, I only have it done for the really good stuff!

Holly Thomas: Thanks!

_______________________

Night wedding in November: Hi ladies, perfect timing! I am going to a wedding in November that includes a church ceremony in the afternoon, followed by drinks and dinner in the evening. What the heck do I wear? I don't want to show too much skin (it's freezing, and someone else's wedding), and I have a deep seated aversion to wearing black to weddings (thanks mom). Any hints given those parameters? I'm 25 size 4. And my BF isn't invited :( Help!

Holly Thomas: A simple sweaterdress or knit wool number will keep you warm and covered up -- how about this one from J Crew?

_______________________

RE: Exercise Tops: Ah, just when Tuesday was gettin' me down, Fashion Fix saves the day! For the chatter seeking exercise tops, try www.titlenine.com. Clothing for all types of sizes and activity levels. I've had good luck with their sports bra selection.

Holly Thomas: Thanks -- and glad to be of service!

_______________________

Know what looks great on all outfits today?: An "I Voted" sticker :)Happy Mid-term Election day to all the Fashion Fix readers. And since tights are the necessary accessory this fall/winter, for those not wanting to blow a pretty penny on Wolfords (I have yet to try and actually really want to!), I suggest Dress Barn opaque tights--these are sturdy and stylish, believe it or not. Other good brands are Hue, available at department stores and some Targets; brands that DSW carries (Anne Klein, Steve Madden, Betsy Johnson); and Express.Happy shopping.

Holly Thomas: Thanks for joining us!

_______________________

source for longer gloves: Talbots has some longer knit and and leather gloves. If you "Like" the store on Facebook they frequently offer discounts.

Holly Thomas: Two good tips in one ... thanks a bunch!

_______________________

RE:Gloves: The lady asking for longer but not opera length gloves should stop by talbots.com. (I've been eyeing these as well). http://www.talbots.com/online/browse/product_details.jsp?id=prdi25159&mode=search&backurl=%2Fonline%2Fsearch%2FsearchResults.jsp%3Fquestion%3Dgloves%26trail%3D%26pageNum%3D0%26addFacet%3DSRCH%253Agloves%26removeFacet%3D

Holly Thomas: Ooh, those are lovely. For the thrift-minded, I just bought a similar pair from Unique Thrift in Wheaton.

_______________________

not so skinny jeans: Any advice on a 46 year old 5'4" pear shape of average weight who wants to try a straighter jean than a bootcut but is scared of skinny?

Holly Thomas: Go for a slim, straight-cut jean in a dark rinse -- Gap's Real Straight style is one option (although they're on the skinny side), and Levi's has tons of straight-leg styles right now.

_______________________

The problem with tights: You recommend black tights a lot, but I don't think that's a good look for those of us with skinny legs. Light-colored tights and sheer nylons are better because they'll show muscle definition in the calf, but I for one feel like Minnie Mouse in black (or dark) tights.

Holly Thomas: That's a good point, though I think sheer nylons are really hard to modernize. A charcoal or dove gray is a good alternative to the standard black opaques.

_______________________

Longer Gloves: Target has some nice leather ones (lined) that go well past the wrist for about $18. I have several pairs from previous years that hold up well, and for the price you aren't kicking yourself if you lose one.

Holly Thomas: Thanks!

_______________________

Longer gloves: Just saw some nice longer-length leather gloves at SYMS. Some had cashmere lining. Cole-Haan was one of the brands.

Holly Thomas: SYMS for longer gloves ... thank you!

_______________________

RE: Gloves: For the chatter looking for longer gloves, try Etsy. There are tons of sellers that will make gloves to your exact specs -- endless colors, textures, etc. Plus, you'll feel good supporting small businesses!

Holly Thomas: Thanks for the great suggestion!

_______________________

Night wedding in November-again: Thanks for the tip! I love the Jcrew dress you sent too. I have something similar already actually, but wondered if it wasn't too "officey"? I want to look festive/dressy but not sexy I guess, and am just not sure where that middle ground lies. Thanks for your thoughts!

Holly Thomas: I think you can make it look less "officey" with some fun jewelry or even a jeweled hairpiece/headband ... have a great time at the wedding!

_______________________

Evening Wedding in November Suggestion: What about throwing the perfect shrug over your choice of a party dress? There are some lovely options out there, such as this one: http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/3144718?origin=keywordsearch&resultback=1035 that will keep you both warm and covered-up while looking perfectly elegant.

Holly Thomas: Thanks for this!

_______________________

40s Jeans: I suggest you stay away from Levis--they're designed for those with minimal butt. Try Not Your Daugher's Jeans. I found some at Nordstrom Rack for $30 or so. Dark rinse, comfortable fit without the Mom Jeans look,straight but not skinny legs.

Holly Thomas: Good feedback, thanks for tuning in!

_______________________

Friendship Heights: Long gloves: Nordstrom's accessories department. I got the BEST pairs of long gloves there last season, and they appeared to have some in this year, too. I have a number of coats that are either bracelet length or just past the elbow sleeves and needed some. They were all under $40, too, and have held up beautifully.

Holly Thomas: Lots of votes for Nordstrom's long gloves ...

_______________________

Re: GLOVES: I have these Nordstrom leather gloves that are delicious and a worthy splurge--not too long, not too short, perfectly classy. http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/3145078?origin=category&resultback=912

_______________________

the J.Crew dress photo: she's pairing that dress with scrunched up socks and ankle boots. It feels like 1993 all over again. Is it true? Should I pull my floral Elaine Bennis dress out of the closet and throw it on with my boots?

Holly Thomas: Ha, I knew that would get some comments! Oxfords and ankle socks are like plaid -- all over the place and hated by many. On certain people (um, mainly Alexa Chung) it can look cute, but it's definitely a case of choosing fashion over figure-flattery.

_______________________

Advice for wearing nude nylons: If you do have to wear nude nylons (which I do for work) skip the drugstore brands and find a pair with the lowest dernier number, which measures the sheerness of nylons. Hue makes nylons in a range of sheernesses(?), and they are much less obvious.

Holly Thomas: Very true -- also stay away from pairs that are extremely shiny or several shades away from your natural skin tone.

_______________________

Levi's designed for those with minimal butt?: As someone who has QUITE a flat rear end, any other suggestions for those of us with minimal butts? Jean shopping is even worse than swimsuit shopping for me! (Tried on Lucky's slim fit this weekend, had the dreaded wrinkling in the back of the thigh.)

Holly Thomas: You need jeans with lots of stretch -- try The Limited, J Brand, Up Against the Wall and Gap, for starters.

_______________________

skin-tone hoisery: Please discuss/explain the issue with skin-tone (nude, taupe, coffee, whateve) hose. I admit to being fashion-backward, if I have any fashion direction at all, but this level of "hate" surprises me (and makes me wonder if people have been pointing and whispering when I wear sheer stockings with a skirt). Do you only wear tights or colored (e.g., blue, black, grey, white, whatever) hose all year? Including summer? FWIW, I don't go bare-legged wtih a skirt. Just can't do it.

Holly Thomas: We only have 5 minutes left, so here's the quick explanation: Nude hose tend to look dowdy because they're either overly shiny or overly matte -- they don't look anything like a natural leg, which is the effect they're supposed to create. As another chatter pointed out, the very well-made versions look best. For what it's worth, bare legs (or spray hosiery, which minimizes veins, etc) are becoming the norm in spring and summer, and for cold months, colored/patterned/textured tights are popular. But your workplace, age and personal preference should influence the decision, as well ...

_______________________

Jeans - fitting problems: For all those chatters with jeans problems, it might be worthwhile trying Denim Bar. I know their brands are a bit more pricey, but it may be worth it to some to have one pair of great jeans...

Holly Thomas: Thanks! National Jean Company is also worth a visit ...

_______________________

Levi's Jeans: I have to disagree with the previous commenter! I too have a butt, and have a few pairs of Levi's jeans, and I love them. Yes, two are on the low waisted side, but another is not low at all, and has zero risk of showing crack. There are so many different types of Levi's, you just have to look to find a pair that works for you.

Holly Thomas: Thanks for joining in!

_______________________

For Minimal Butt: Try Hudson Jeans. They do not come cheap, but everyone has complimented mine. My husband was amazed that a pair of jeans could make such a difference.

Holly Thomas: Thanks!

_______________________

Elaine Benes: Funny the chatter should mention her: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/19/fashion/19ELAINE.html

Holly Thomas: Amazing ... this made my day!

_______________________

Necklaces: I have a very, very ample busom and I am 5 ft 2. What types/lengths/textures necklaces should I wear that would minimize or complement my chest?

Holly Thomas: A simple pendant necklace with a long chain will work best, and you might also try a chunky collar-style necklace that fits closely around your neck. Steer clear of anything long + chunky, heavily layered pieces and bib-style necklaces.

_______________________

RE: flat butt jeans: The Mossimo juniors line at Target doesn't have much rear room. I have a pair that's about 5 years old and I get compliments on them every time I wear them! They were only about $20 and I like them better than my almost-$200 pair. Unfortunately, I think quality has declined in recent years but they're still pretty good. And dirt cheap!

Holly Thomas: Great tip, thanks for joining us!

_______________________

flat butt addendum: I also disagree that jeans with stretch are good. I find that they're worse - they stretch out but don't snap back, resulting in a saggy rear. Not cute.

Holly Thomas: Occasional washing on a delicate cycle and air-drying should help them bounce back into shape. It's more important to keep them out of the dryer, as high heat will damage the fibers that make them stretch and snap back.

_______________________

Consignment shoes?: Hello fashion gurus,I know there are lots of consignment shops in the area and a lot of them cater to different crowds. Which one would be best to consign a few pairs of Ferragamo shoes (not the total conservative ones with the grosgrain bows) and Furla purses? I was thinking Inga's in Palisades, but maybe that shop in Bethesda instead? Thanks!

Holly Thomas: Try Inga's, Second Chance in Bethesda and Secondi in Dupont.

_______________________

Tights: For the person from last week's chat looking for inexpensive but good-quality tights, I really like Target's Merona brand. They range in price from $5-7, and are great. Lots of styles/prints to choose from. I especially appreciate that their "talls" really are made for tall women!

Holly Thomas: Thanks!

_______________________

Re: Acne from last week: I usually read the transcript and wanted to offer another suggestion to the chatter with mild acne. I also have mild adult acne and have tried SO MANY products in the past. The best I have found is the Murad acne line. I stopped looking for new products after trying it and have used it for years now. You don't necessarily have to use the entire regimen, the most important are the clarifying cleanser and the acne gel. Wash twice a day and use the gel at night. I have had people ask me what I use to keep my skin so clear! I buy it at Ulta or Sephora.

Holly Thomas: Thanks for following up ...

_______________________

Pants fit ?: I've been noticing that pants are styled to be more close-fitting (other than the leg opening) this year. Is this true or is it just me?

Holly Thomas: Not just you -- straight-leg and form-fitting pants are enjoying a revival this season, mainly due to designers' focus on the late 70s/early 80s.

_______________________

DIY winter wardrobe: Yesterday afternoon I bought an awesome dark orange wool with a brown and red thread through it to make a skirt and a great heavy knit with a mauve, grey, and black print to make a wrap dress, both at Hancock Fabrics. I've always been able to sew, but have been taking pattern making classes at the G Street Fabrics at Seven Corners and am feeling much more confident about my abilities and my work isn't looking homemade anymore. If you can sew or would like to learn I highly recommend their classes. They have a ridiculously huge course catalog that includes courses geared specifically towards men. http://www.gstreetfabrics.com/Classes/

Holly Thomas: Good for you, that's an excellent fall/winter project. Enjoy!

_______________________

men's jeans for flat butts: Do you know of any men's jeans that are good for guys with flat butts? My fiance is about 5'11", and wears 36x30 jeans (though i think they are slightly too big on him) and is constantly showing 3" of boxers. Even if he wears a belt. I'd really like him to find some grown up jeans, but his lack of a rear end is making this difficult.

Holly Thomas: Try Nudie, Diesel and J Brand ...

_______________________

Holly Thomas: Wish we could keep going, but we're all out of time today! Thanks for all your great questions and suggestions -- the first chatter to recommend adding a rubber half sole/heel caps to winter boots gets the LORAC palette, and the one who told us about pattern-making classes at G Street Fabrics gets the MAC brushes. Send your mailing info to fashion@washpost.com and we'll get those out you. I'll be back online next Tuesday to take your questions again, and in the meantime, you can always connect with us via email, Facebook and Twitter!


© 2010 The Washington Post Company

Discussion Archive

Viewpoint is a paid discussion. The Washington Post editorial staff was not involved in the moderation.

Network News

X My Profile