Fashion Fix: What to wear and where to find it

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Holly Thomas,Janet Bennett Kelly
Tuesday, December 14, 2010; 12:00 AM

Live online discussion about fashion and shopping.

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Need swimwear for a cruise: Do you have any suggestions where I can find swimwear during the off-season? I am going on a cruise in March, want to shop in Jan/Feb. I'd like to be able to try things on, so I'm not interested in online retailers. In particular, I want to find suits that have bra-like support - I'm a D-cup with an athletic figure but I don't want to wear anything that will make me look saggy.

Janet Bennett Kelly: South Moon Under, which has several locations in the area (Bethesda, Gaithersburg, Reston, Clarendon) , always carries swim suits -- bikinis, tankinis and one-piece suits. Check out their selection.

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walking shoes: hi- love the column! I need suggestions for good-looking walking shoes. Somehow every comfy walking shoe I try makes my sz 9 ft look like a selection from the "Alice the Goon" Popeye wear boutique! Thank you from DL -freezing in Pgh.

Holly Thomas: For winter, a flat ankle boot seems like a good choice -- this one from Sporto is cute in an outdoorsy/adventure-y way, and this one from Steve Madden is a bit more basic. As for brands of everyday flats, you might want to check out Cole Haan + Nike Air, London Sole and Aerosoles.

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gloves for small hands: I'm an adult woman with small hands. When I buy gloves, the fingers are about an inch too long. Children's Large fit well but aren't usually my style. I need to know where to find gloves that fit.

Janet Bennett Kelly: There's a site called madova that makes gloves to order. It's a company that's based in Italy. I've heard that women with small hands have had success ordering there. They are currently closed for the holiday. You might also try contacting Portalano, a company based in New York.

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Suede Coat Cleaning: I have a suede coat that needs to be cleaned. Any places you guys or chatters know of in the Montgomery County/DC area? Dry cleaners have said I needed to find a leather cleaner. Thanks!

Janet Bennett Kelly: I just called Parkway Drycleaning in Chevy Chase to ask. They will clean suede coats for a starting cost of $118. They send them out and it takes a period of 2 to 3 weeks for the work to be done. Caveat: the color may darken during the process.

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How do wear a sequined tank top: I have a black sequined tank with tuxedo-like ruffles and buttons down the front. I love it, but have a hard time figuring out what kind of skirt to pair it with. I've tried a high-waisted black pencil skirt, but the buttons show through the fabric. What would you suggest?

Holly Thomas: First, a random thought: This top sounds like it would look great with a great pair of dark-rinse jeans with a slightly flared leg and a boyish blazer to tone down the fancy vibe. If you want to wear it with a skirt, opting for a circle or tulip skirt that is only fitted at the waist (sort of like this) might help with the issue of the buttons showing. If you only want to pair it with a pencil skirt, you can always snip off the bottom buttons (or try taping over them before you tuck in the top).

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Odd Shoe Polish Colors: I have a pair of reddish brown shoes that I absolutely love for their ability to span the range between office casual and just plain casual. Unfortunately with such versatility I've worn them enough to scuff them up. They are a very red brown that I cannot find matching shoe polish for in either standard stores or at shoe repair places that I've checked. Any suggestions on where I can fix them up?

Holly Thomas: Have you checked online? ShoeshineKit.com has tons of polishes, leather dyes and more -- you should be able to find your shade of reddish brown there.

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looking hip at 60: How can a retired sixty something dress for a slower paced life and still look fashionable

Janet Bennett Kelly: One of the most important elements in looking fashionable is wearing clothes that fit you well. And, whatever you do, don't succumb to the track suit look for everyday wear.

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Holiday attire: I've got a black velvet dress (long sleeve, knee length, flared skirt, jewel neck) that I'm thinking of wearing on Christmas day (to church, visiting relatives, dinner at a friend of the family's). I may be wearing black, knee high dressy boots (with heel). Too funereal? Too Elvira? How could I make this outfit more festive? Or should I rethink the black velvet dress? (I'm mid-50s, if that matters)

Janet Bennett Kelly: I'm partial to velvet, but that said, you might want to dress up your look with accessories. I'm talking jewelry here. Do you have a sparkly necklace or earrings and some bracelets? You may want to change the look as you go to your different destinations. Keep it simple for church, but add some bling for visiting relatives and dinner at a friend's house.

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Back by popular demand?: Are you back for good?? I was sad to see your chats end.Question about tights: are there any brands out there that have a lower rise or wider waistband that prevents the dreaded muffin top? My main gripe with tights/hose is that they visibly and uncomfortably cut into my stomach (and I'm thin). Thanks!

Janet Bennett Kelly: So, mostly for specific occasions, like holidays.As for your tight dilemma, have you tried Wolford? They're expensive, but they last and they're sooo comfortable.

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New Years Eve in Las Vegas: I am looking for an outfit to wear for dinner dancing and gambling on New Years. I have seen a lot of glitter tank dresses, but as a 35 year-old who is not stick thin, I worry that this season's look may make me look like a streetwalker. Any suggestions for something that is fun yet not too over the top?

Holly Thomas: You're right to steer clear of the glitter tank dress. I'd choose a comfortable-but-chic sweater dress or a draped silk shift and add some fun jewelry -- here are some options from LOFT, Gap and a couple from Target, including this exclusive convertible Rachel Pally design which will give you a few more options post-NYE.

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HELP! Non-LBD Question: Good afternoon ladies. I went out of my LBD comfort zone this year and bought a deep pink matte sequin sheath-style cocktail dress. While I love it, it has been relegated to only hanging in my closet because I cannot for the life of me figure out what to wear with it in terms of shoes. (Please God do not say clear plastic... ) Any help with shoes and accessories would be greatly appreciated.

Janet Bennett Kelly: You don't want your shoes to compete with your dress, so I'd choose black satin or navy, if you could find any in that color. Is the dress strapless? If so, a dangly, chandelier-type earring would work best.

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Hooray!: I don't have a question -- just glad you're back today!

Janet Bennett Kelly: Thanks so much! We really appreciate that.

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New Year's Eve question...: I found an adorable, sparkly sequin bronze one-shoulder dress from Forever 21 for $16. However, that is where the inspiration ends...I cannot figure out what sort of shoes I should wear. I have black, red, or brown dressy shoes. I'm the hostess, so I don't have to worry about the cold. I'm assuming I should keep jewelry minimal. Help?

Holly Thomas: Black opaque tights or black sheer hose plus nice black pumps or ankle booties, and you're good to go. Since the neckline is the focus, I'd choose some simple, classic earrings -- studs, hoops or a very simple chandelier -- and either a bracelet or a couple of chunky rings. Have a great time!

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Cocktail Dress Color: Hi FF! Thanks for taking my question. I am going to a party this Saturday & I was thinking about wearing a light sky blue cocktail dress. Would that appropriate color to wear for holiday party or should I go to another color? Thanks again!

Holly Thomas: Light sky blue is an unusual choice for a holiday party in mid-December -- I'd save that particular dress for a spring or summer shindig and choose something that feels a bit more seasonally-appropriate for this event. Jewel tones, basic neutrals or metallics are all good options.

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Washington, DC: I was lucky enough to score an invite to one of the White House holiday parties for fed staff. I need something to wear! Where can I find something festive yet appropriate, WARM, and affordable (would like to spend under $80) that is metro-accessible? I am a woman in my 30s, average height, carrying about 5 extra pounds around the middle, if that helps.

Janet Bennett Kelly: look-see.

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You're Back???: Yay! Holly told us during the GOG that Fashion Fix had been cancelled. I'm thrilled that's not true! I'm going skiing in UT in a few weeks and am trying to figure out what to pack, in addition to my ski clothing. We're probably going out to dinner a few nights and probably will be doing some apres ski bar hopping. I'm thinking cozy sweaters and jeans. Any other suggestions? Things I shouldn't forget? The key to looking like a cute ski bunny?

Janet Bennett Kelly:

Holly Thomas: Fashion Fix is still canceled -- this is a special holiday chat, so we won't be back on the regular Tuesday schedule. But we will occasionally host special chats like this one! I just wrapped a Trend Report column for January 2 on retro ski-inspired duds, so keep an eye out for that -- for your trip, look for shearling-trimmed ankle boots, a knit pom-pom hat, cute Fair Isle sweaters and a chunky knit scarf.

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Dressing for an Outdoorsy New Year's Eve: Are you back for good? I've missed the chat! I will be in Santa Fe, New Mexico for New Year's Eve this year. We will probably go out to dinner and wander around town afterward. How can I make my outerwear look festive when we're wandering around outside? I have a purple and silver scarf--something like that?

Janet Bennett Kelly: A metallic scarf would also work well and maybe some hair adornments, too.

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Tights & Leggings: Hi Ladies-I'm submitting early because of work. Can you and/or your readers suggest a tight and legging that is thick and warm (as realistically as tights can be warm) for the winter months, especially on particularly cold days like today, but that won't add huge bulk to your leg?Thanks so much!

Holly Thomas: As for tights, my personal favorites for cold days are from Wolford and Spanx. Today I'm trying out the newest offerings from Cuddl Duds (this and this, specifically) and they're keeping me pretty warm so far. If you're going to be outside for any long stretches of time, try Under Armour's Outdoor tights under your jeans or regular leggings. Just remember to slip them off once you get to the office, lest you pass out at your desk.

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Pants and Boots: Hello everyone-can you all suggest a black pant that would be work appropriate that I could wear with boots? All of my work black pants are a bootcut-style that obviously looks ridiculous tucked into boots. Keep in mind I am 5'7" and a size 10. Thanks!!

Janet Bennett Kelly: If you want to wear your boots tucked in, you need a skinny or a tapered leg. Would black skinny cords be appropriate for your workplace? I think that Gap sells those.

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All black outfit for Christmas party: I'm 10 lbs overweight. I don't want to buy anything new for Christmas Eve since I've vowed not to buy another outfit until I lose the weight, but my family and some friends all dress up and gets together for a party. The only thing I've got that fits me that is dressy is a sheer black sweater (crew neck with some velvet trim) + black pants. I'm going to wear it with a black tank. But all black for a Christmas party seems so wrong. What should I do?!

Holly Thomas: I say this at least once during every chat, but the secret is accessories -- you can look incredibly chic in all-black if you pile on the glitz. Choose either one statement necklace or mix several layers of chain necklaces, an armful of bangles or a couple fingers' worth of flashy cocktail rings, and a beautiful clutch. A colorful pump is another way to spice things up, and you won't have to worry about them not fitting once you've hit your ideal weight.

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But, why?: But why is fashion fix cancelled? There are days I just feel like the post goes out of its way to drive away women. I had come to look forward to a weekly fashion fix - and I felt there were plenty of questions and a budding community. Forcing it into GOG doesn't work at all (not the least because I don't read GOG because I don't go out that much, but I do get dressed every day!). At least tell us if there is any appealing this decision to the powers that be?

Holly Thomas: Thanks for weighing in! Not sure what can be done about it at this point, but you can always email us your thoughts at fashion@washpost.com and we'll pass them along.

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Wolford Tights: You always recommend Wolford but their L is probably a M by American standards and they dont offer an XL in many of their tights. A curvier girl may want to try Spanx tights. Besides the control, they are also really well made and last for a long time, even after machine washings.

Holly Thomas: Thanks for joining us -- I'm a big fan of Spanx's offerings, and the ones I have have lasted for years.

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re: Tights & Leggings : I've been wearing Spanx footless tights under my jeans and it's been helping me stay warm. Haven't needed to take them off at work. One problem, I also wear them underskirts with my boots and they are really long on me so I have to bunch them up at the bottom so thy don't look wrinkly between the boots and my skirt. I like wearing the footless tights with socks because for some reason that's easier on my painful feet (bunions, neuroma). Footed tights always end up hurting my toes.

Holly Thomas: Thanks for the tip!

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Winter Shoes?: I have two kinds of shoes for going out and work: stiletto heels and flats. However, the stiletto heels are no good for winter weather snow and ice, and the flats usually make me look like an oompa-loompa. I wear tailored pants and skirts to work - what are your suggestions for stylish yet walkable shoes for winter?

Janet Bennett Kelly: How about boots? Depending on how tailored your pants are, you can tuck your pants into them or wear them over your trousers. If you don't want to wear boots, plenty of shoes now have rubber soles so you can navigate the slippery sidewalks. Look at Cole Haan's selection.

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GOG is not a good a fit: I also agree--I thought that Fashion Fix became a little family and I feel uncomfortable sometimes asking for beauty/fashion advice while other's are asking for the best beer in town (not that I'm not interested but it should be a different forum). Any insight into why the cancellation?

Holly Thomas: I feel your pain -- we're trying out the GOG option to see how it works, but you can always email us, post on Facebook or send a message on Twitter if you have a beauty/fashion dilemma we might be able to help solve.

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dressing for holiday parties: Hi Janet,Hi Holly,Thank you taking my question,I'm submitting early because of time restraints!! I have a couple of partys to attend thsi weekend,one is fairly casual and I can get away with wearing some nice jeans with a bright splash of a Christmas color-red sweather or blue sparkly knit top with jeans.My day after Christmas party is more formal,so I was thinking of an after 5ish dress in black and gray.Is that too boring or should I look for something more colorful?? I'm in my 50's,5"4,very curvy and hippy.What do you think?? It's going to be very cold also,so I don't like sleeveless dresses.Thanks.

Janet Bennett Kelly: I love topping a dress with something in black velvet. It immediately dresses things up.

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Style makeover: Are there stylists out there that can do a "What Not to Wear"-type makeover? That is, they help fix your make-up and hair as well as your closet.

Janet Bennett Kelly: I haven't heard of stylists that do both. Any chatter out there know of a stylist that does makeup and hair as well as clothes?

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sky blue: But sky blue is a good holiday color. It's not as typical as jewel tones, but there is plenty of sky blue around this time of year - it sort of invoke snow, if you will. Looks awesome paired with white/cream and silver. I say go for it. you'll stand out, but if it is a flattering color for you, you'll stand out in a good way.

Holly Thomas: If the party was in January, I might agree -- but if you're the lone pastel in a sea of jewel tones, metallics and neutrals, you're going to feel like an oddball. If sky blue is flattering, odds are so is silver, ivory or dove gray, and all of those are more holiday-party-appropriate choices.

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Is the Post trying to reduce their readership?!?! + sky blue: I'm happy to see you back today and with you were still weekly. Favorite chats-- a reason to check out the Post daily-- keep disappearing. Craziness!Question-- I'm not the poster who wanted to wear the sky blue cocktail dress but it's my favorite color and I feel I look best in sky blue. What more fall-winter appropriate shade/s would you recommend?Second question-- Is silverish jewelry a no-no with brown shoes or should I stick to gold?

Holly Thomas: Just posted an answer that should help with your first question. For the second, I think that gold tends to look better with brown, but you should choose your jewelry based on what flatters your skin tone, not your shoes.

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Boots and Leggings: As usual I am coming in at the tail end of a fashion trend! I recently lost some weight and now feel ready to wear the whole long (and I do mean long -- like mid-thigh) sweater with leggings look. However, I'm 40, and don't want to look like I'm trying too hard to be young. I thought wearing appropriate boots might be one way to make it work; I'm guessing nothing too high-heeled? Any suggestions? Or should I just abandon this look? I'm 5'2 and about 105 lbs, size 2-ish, if that helps.

Janet Bennett Kelly: Hi, there, That's my opinion.

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Light Blue Dress: I actually think that the light blue dress COULD work if paired with black pumps, black opaque tights, and a very thin black turtleneck underneath (like the tissue tees from J crew).

Holly Thomas: The light blue dress is getting some support from the audience ... thanks for weighing in!

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Belted Coats: Hello Holly and Janet, I lost a little bit of weight since last winter and my long wool coat is not as fitted as it used to be around the waist. I saw a lady the other day that had a regular belt that you would wear with your jeans, around the waist of her coat. Is that fashionably acceptable? Because that would really solve my problem instead of buying a new coat.

Holly Thomas: I like this look, especially if you choose a wide patent leather or a cool, beat-up vintage version (depends on your style, obviously). If you decide to add a belt, you might want to ask a dry cleaner/tailor about adding a few string loops to keep the belt attached once you take off the coat (or you can do this yourself if you're the least bit handy with a needle and thread).

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I thought this chat was canceled! and question: I thought you'd been canceled! So excited to see you! Tonight I'm wearing a deep navy blue silk cocktail dress. Can I wear silk-like black shoes or should I wear grey leather ones?

Janet Bennett Kelly: Gray leather ones are not dressy enough for that blue silk number. I'd suggest the silk-like black ones.

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deep pink holiday dress: Yay for you for going with a great color. As for shoes, don't forget metallics are always a great choice - depending on the actual color, silver or gold might work.

Holly Thomas: Thanks!

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Holiday Parties and boots: I hate carrying my dress shoes in a sack to a party when it is too messy to go outdoors without boots. Is it Ok to wear dressy boots and keep them on during the party? Usually the host has a rug at the door to wipe them on.

Janet Bennett Kelly: Sure. If you've got dressy boots that you like, don't take them off at the door. Show them off.

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Any chatter out there know of a stylist that does makeup and hair as well as clothes?: Those PR Partners places do that. Have not tried it.

Holly Thomas: PR at Partners does hair and makeup, but I don't believe they do fashion styling ... adding hair styling into the mix makes for a serious hat trick, and I don't know of anyone in the area who does all three.

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Bronze dress?: I bought a bronze one-shoulder sequined dress for New Year's Eve - hey, it was cute, and it was $16 from Forever 21. However, now I'm stuck for what kind of shoes to wear. Black strappy shoes? Red? Silver? Warmth isn't a factor, as I'm the hostess, and I won't be out in the cold.

Janet Bennett Kelly: I'd go with the strappy black suggestion. If you want metallic, try to find something in the bronze family that would go with your dress. Not a fan of red shoes.

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miss my fashion fix!: Hi, I suppose this is all a done deal, but is there any appeal to get the fashion chats back? I miss my Tuesday fix! And it seemed like there were a variety of questions, and lots of audience participation, so they were popular, and a sense of community was growing, with other posters helping others out with some dilemmas. I never read the GOG chat, because it's just too much and I can't keep everything straight and don't want to read lots of posts about going out just to find the questions on fashion. I feel like, despite Robin G, the Post has just never taken fashion seriously and is completely ignoring, as usual, female readership. So this is my appeal! I miss you and want you back, and if you won't or can't come back, can you at least say if I should be mad at the post for dissing fashion?

Holly Thomas: You all are warming our hearts today. It's helpful to hear what you have to say, and we'll make sure the messages are passed along. We don't want anyone to be mad (it's the holidays, don't be mad!), we just want to keep hearing from and interacting with you in any way we can.

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Tights: While they don't compare to Wolford, I've had pretty good luck with DKNY and Hue tights--look for control tops without the seam--that'll help reduce the red marks from squeezing

Janet Bennett Kelly: For the chatter in search of tights that don't give muffin top, this chatter likes DKNY and Hue.

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Black Pencil Skirt: Please help, I need a good black pencil skirt for a holiday party on Saturday. I am having trouble finding a good version of this basic.

Holly Thomas: Target has a bunch of options here, and I particularly like this one.

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Swimwear for cruise: For the person heading out on the cruise needing swimwear, this may be a stretch, but the outlets in Rehoboth Beach have stores with swimwear, particularly California Sunshine (all swimwear!). It may be too far, but it's definitely a fun day or weekend trip, plus lots of stuff is open at the beach. And you don't have to deal with the summer crowds!

Janet Bennett Kelly: Good suggestion, and you're right. It would make a fun day.

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Shoe polish: Check out the colors in Kiwi mahogany and cordovan for a rich reddish brown.

Holly Thomas: Thank you!

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RE: Vegas NYE: For the Vegas NYE woman, I would NOT recommend a sweater dress. I was there last year and most of the other women in the casinos/restaurants were wearing cocktail dresses. I wore a purple satin shift dress (not too form-fitting) with sparkly jewelry and pumps and fit in pretty well (I'm 26 and not stick thin either).

Holly Thomas: Thanks for the firsthand advice!

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For black velvet dress: For church, you could wear a colorful scarf or pashmina--that would tone down the black, but still be festive and appropriate for church. Then after the service, put on the bling for the rest of the day.

Holly Thomas: Good idea, thanks!

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Sequined top gal: Another option for wearing it with a high waisted skirt is to keep it untucked and cinch with a belt, like a black patent leather one.

Holly Thomas: An idea for the sequin top + pencil skirt scenario ... thanks!

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WARM TIGHTS: Target has fleece-lined tights that are warm and don't add bulk. They had the word "brushed" on the label. I know higher end version exist too, but I don't know which brands off-hand.

Janet Bennett Kelly: For the chatter looking for warm tights without the bulk, this chatter likes Target's fleece-lined tights.

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Ski Trip Question---: Also, what beauty products should I bring? Sunscreen and chapstick of course but do you have a recommendation for cold weather moisturizers and makeup but won't cause my oily skin to break out?

Holly Thomas: Kiehl's makes some of the best cold-weather moisturizers on the market. Try the Ultra Facial Cream for face and the new Creme de Corps Soy Milk and Honey Whipped Body Butter for everywhere else.

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Yay!: Is the fashion chat back or is this some internet hoax?

Holly Thomas: No to both questions ... we'll have special-occasion Fashion Fix discussions every now and then, but the weekly chat is still cancelled. We'll be back around Valentine's Day, and then again when it's time to talk spring fashion!

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Fashion chat: Well, I'd rather see the Fashion Chat integrated with the GOG chat, than have it disappear all together. But I don't think its a great fit. Could we all just agree to meet on your Facebook page at noon on Tuesdays?The other aspect to the Fashion Chat is that it helps local businesses, as you both recommend a lot of them for shopping, tailors, cleaning, accessories, makeup, etc. I felt the chat provided a good boost to the local economy. We want you back!

Holly Thomas: A meetup on Facebook at noon on Tuesdays sounds delightful -- we'll create a discussion board and see how it goes next week. Thanks for the idea!!

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I love Kiehl's Creme de Corps: And the new soy milk and honey one sounds awesome!

Holly Thomas: It's delish!

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In Support of Fashion Fix: Just wanted to add my voice to the scores of women chiming in to support Fashion Fix. I think I had more questions to ask here than any other chat and always appreciated the advice. Editors: please bring it back to weekly!

Holly Thomas: Thanks!

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WAPO drop of FF: Could it be the cost of the giveaways they object to? I do not think anyone of your fans would mind not having a prize.

Holly Thomas: Giveaways don't cost a thing ...

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Love the fashion chats, but...: I too would love to go back to a weekly fashion chat, but let's not make this about the WaPo appealing to female readers. Women also read about politics, finance, and sports, and as we often see, men too like to ask questions about what to wear. It's just about welcoming all kinds of people to the discussion groups and to the paper. Happy holidays to all!

Holly Thomas: Good point, thank you!

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Holly Thomas: Time to wrap up! Thanks so much for joining us today -- the chatter who suggested Target's fleece-lined tights gets the American Apparel polishes; the one who recommended Rehoboth's outlet shops for swimwear gets the MAC holiday kit; and the one who suggested a satin dress as opposed to a sweater dress for a Vegas NYE gets the LORAC train case! Email us at fashion@washpost.com to claim your goodies. Happy holidays, everyone -- and let's try Tuesday at 12 on Facebook and see how it goes!


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