Q and A

nude hosiery

Fashion Q&A: Wearing Winter Hosiery Well

Fashion Q & A: Wearing Winter Hosiery Well Q: I love your book and website! Here’s my latest question: I own an upscale business in a conservative area. I try to look professional but don’t have to be too stuffy! I always wear skirts, never pants. Since traditional hose are “out”, in winter I usually wear black tights. Now I find that some outfits just don’t seem to look good with the tights. I have one skirt that is a dark teal color. For some reason it looks frumpier than my other clothes with the tights. (I do make sure to keep pencil skirts at a perfect knee length—that helps against frumpiness!) What else can I wear? I always wear black shoes because I have a fitting problem and my shoe choices are limited. Help! A: Great question for our January post as many women struggle with this same issue. Here are some tips: My first question for you is what are you topping the teal skirt off with? If it is a blouse or other lighter weight top, I can see how the tights would feel frumpy. The name of the game when choosing hosiery for any outfit is to connect them to the weight, style and color of your overall outfit. Tights can feel frumpy if the top half of your outfit is lighter in weight and/or color. Adding a sweater can often balance the weight of the tights. Alternatively, sheer, off-black hosiery with the teal skirt will give you a slightly lighter (and less frumpy!) look if you are wearing a lighter weight sweater or something like a shirt with a cardigan or pull-over sweater with the skirt. If you layer the look with a sweater, a black one will help balance black hosiery. Boots and tights with a teal skirt and heavier black sweater is a stylish look too. Heels can also combat feeling too frumpy in skirts. A suede pump with tights often does the trick for me. I have a great pair of suede, wedge heel booties that are my current go-to shoe for “de-frumping” skirts and dresses this time of year. Teal is such a great color and does play nicely off black in the winter months. As you move into spring, nude hosiery (and a nude or navy pump if you can find them to fit and flatter your feet and legs) will transition this color nicely if the fabric is not too heavy. Finally, on the topic of “traditional hose”: like you, many women believe they are “out” of style but they really are not. Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Hanes are a few good companies that have perfected the color of their nudes and they look great when you want a natural look and the polish that hosiery provides. Our stylists Carolyn Lieberman and Sarah Zengo (pictured at right) are both wearing nude hosiery at an early spring benefit we hosted. I think you will agree that they both look great! While I personally wear tights most often in cool weather, I wear traditional hosiery year-round. In the summer, I sometimes need the formality that hosiery provides (speaking at conferences, etc.). Smoky gray and navy hosiery are both current winter favorites of mine. I have a brown and navy dress that is slightly shorter than I normally wear. Navy sheer hosiery and navy pumps look much nicer than nude hosiery with this outfit this time of year. The navy offers more coverage and connects both the hem of the dress and the shoes with my legs better. Last word: Experiment with all sorts of hosiery colors and textures by using the formula outlined above. Hosiery really can up your style quotient when incorporated effectively. Don’t dismiss it too quickly!

Fashion Q&A: Wearing Winter Hosiery Well Read More »


Fashion Q&A: Sport Jackets and Jeans

Fashion Q & A: Sport Jackets and Jeans Q: Is the sport-jacket-and-jeans look on its way out or in? A: It came and went and is now back again! The key to the look this time around is to be sure each component is casual and connected to the other. Opt for a blazer that is rugged as opposed to one that looks like it was borrowed from a suit. A crisp, dark wash jean looks sharp with a blazer and button down for casual Friday. Go with boots or shoes with a bit of an edge and shirts and sweaters that are less conservative than what you might pair with suiting. Last word: Don’t even think about a navy blue blazer with gold buttons paired with jeans!  

Fashion Q&A: Sport Jackets and Jeans Read More »

Fashion Q&A: Keeping Warm at Work

Fashion Q & A: Keeping Warm at Work Q: I am always cold in my office. Is it appropriate to wear ponchos, shawls and wraps while I am working? I’ve been wearing these for a while and have been getting some weird looks! A: Although the layering looks you are describing are indeed warm and fashionable, they are still considered outerwear and are not the best choice to help keep you warm indoors, especially in professional business environments. If you have a job that requires you to interact with others, you want to select apparel that instantly communicates that you are focused on your job and the work at hand. Wearing any kind of outerwear all day long does not set a business tone and can be distracting to others. Since many do not consider this type of clothing to be appropriate, you also risk alienating people you work with or having them question your judgment. Clothing that wraps around your body like a blanket can also look sloppy and can pose safety issues as anything that drapes and falls can get caught in a variety of machinery and office equipment. To keep warm, think layering traditional office attire — knit tops under blazers, cardigan sweaters over shirts and blouses. We’re also big fans of silk underwear and tights as both provide a thin, warm layer that does not create any extra bulk. Good luck!

Fashion Q&A: Keeping Warm at Work Read More »


Fashion Q&A: Shopping for Dress Shirts

With its interactive component, our Dressing Well Blog has replaced our monthly Fashion Q&A postings. We are leaving this section of our site live so that you can have access to our Q&A archives. Each month we will feature a popular Q&A from the archives that is relevant to the season at hand. If you have something you want to know to help pull together your wardrobe with style and confidence, ask away! We are actively seeking to make our blog as interactive as possible and will be incorporating site visitor questions and comments.   Fashion Q & A: Shopping for Dress Shirts   Q: I’ll be shopping for dress shirts this weekend. I do not want to have custom shirts made so please do not suggest that! Any guidance as I head to the mall? A: We call dress shirts the centerpiece of male attire. When they fit, flatter your natural coloring and frame your face well, your style soars. Here are a few tips for shopping for dress shirts: Get MeasuredOver half the men we work with are wearing the wrong shirt size. Even if you think you’re in the correct size, get professionally measured–neck and sleeve–as a standard practice before investing in a new shirt wardrobe. You should be able to get two fingers between your neck and the collar. Tighter than that, and you’ll look uncomfortable and strained. And while you’ll certainly be more comfortable if the collar is loose, your professional presence will start to erode if the neck of your shirt is too big; you’ll look sloppy as opposed to crisp and polished. The shirt sleeve should cover the end of your wrist and extend about a half inch beyond a jacket sleeve. Like the collar of your shirt, you don’t want your sleeves to be too loose either. Play around with the buttons above the cuff, and choose to go a little tighter with the fit as opposed to too loose. Body Fit Matters TooPay attention to the fit of dress shirts through the body, too. Even if you’re not super slim, fitted dress shirts are the current style and can likely be sourced in your size. We have been very successful getting our male customers who are carrying weight through their mid-section into less boxy, more flattering shirts than they thought possible given their size. Many brands offer slim cut shirts for bigger men that truly fit. Best part: a slimmer cut shirt will visually take pounds off your frame without necessarily having to go to the gym! A slimmer cut shirt also sits better under today’s more trim-fit suiting. Wrinkle Free OptionsWhen you wear suits, we suggest wearing shirts that are 100% cotton. Partner with a reputable dry cleaner for laundering and professionally pressing them if you’re not good with an iron. In the Boston area, we recommend Anton’s Cleaners. Non-wrinkle fabrics are a good option if you work in a business casual setting and want to launder your shirts at home. The Details MatterWhile there is certainly a wide range of shirt collars to consider, a modest “spread” collar is an easy choice for most men as it works well with both tie and non-tie looks. The “button-down” collar is the most casual of all shirt collars. In our humble (smile!) opinion, it is slightly dated to wear it with a tie and formal suiting. Pair shirts with a button-down collar with jackets, sweaters, dress slacks, jeans and khakis and wear them on days when you don’t need a tie. The shirt sleeve cuff should be loose and extend to the end of your wrist. The cuff of your shirt should extend about half-an-inch beyond your jacket sleeve. Move Beyond WhiteWhen we shop with a client for dress shirts, we typically start with white. Blues in a variety of shades and patterns are a great first choice when adding color. Lavender (i.e. a light shade of purple) is our second favorite color to add as it looks as good with dark neutral suiting as blue does. We like certain shades of peach, yellow and tan, too, but find them a little more difficult to add as you want to be sure the tones work with individual coloring as well as core wardrobe basics – suits, jackets, pants and sweaters. Extra TipBefore you add any more dress shirts to your wardrobe, vow to ditch the ones that no longer fit, are stained, or are no longer needed – amen!

Fashion Q&A: Shopping for Dress Shirts Read More »

Fashion Q&A: Thickening Waist Line

Fashion Q & A: Hiding a Thickening Waist Line Q: My waist line is thicker than ever! Even though I weigh only a few pounds more than as I did last year, many of the tops and sweaters I used to love wearing this time of year now seem to be calling unflattering attention to my bulges. Do I have to get rid of all of my tops to avoid this new figure challenge or are there some tricks to wearing them in a more flattering way? A: We feel your pain! As we age, our bodies change in many different ways. Thickening waist lines are where many of us see it first. While you might want to shop for some tops that provide a looser fit (Eileen Fisher, Chicos and JJill are brands that come to mind that offer a relaxed fit for a variety of sizes), here are some of our best tricks to make what you already have look better: Get Fitted. If you have not been fitted for a new bra in a while, make it a point to do so. You can literally take 5-10 pounds off your mid-section with the proper support and lift, especially if you are short-waisted which many thick-waisted women are. If your mid-section weight gain is not too dramatic (and it does not sound like yours is), new bras should also shift the fit of the tops in a more flattering way. Camisoles Work Wonders. While you are in the underwear department, ask your fitter to educate you about what’s new in shape wear. Every brand under the sun now offers camisoles and other liners that are geared towards slimming the middle. Some women don’t mind extra support. The Spanx brand is known for this type of foundation. Others find these enhanced products to be too uncomfortable and restrictive. We find even a slim camisole with a small percentage of lyrca or spandex can smooth you out, especially when paired with the right bra. To tuck or not to tuck. If you are currently tucking your tops in, untuck them and pair them with a boot-cut pant or skirt with a slight flare at the knee to instantly relax your look and call attention away from your middle. Your torso will look longer and thinner — promise! If you’d like a little more waist definition, try some big, bold belts with this type of look. If they are wide enough, belts can often provide coverage for unwanted weight gain while adding style. Camouflage by Layering. Jackets, sweaters, vests and other layering pieces are great for hiding waist weight. Long scarves draped loosely over tops that are tight can hide a bulging mid-section beautifully and are very much is style right now. The Magic of Dark Tops. Finally, many of your darker tops are probably concealing your mid-section weight better than you think. Light-colored tops obviously draw more attention to all parts of your upper body, especially the mid-section. You can probably retire many of these for good. Even if your darker tops feel “clingy” — chances are, no one else will notice!

Fashion Q&A: Thickening Waist Line Read More »

Fashion Q&A: Too Much Black and White?

Fashion Q & A: Too Much Black and White? Q: Is there such a thing as having too much black and white in a wardrobe and not enough color? Color confuses me so I most often wear black and white, but I don’t want to look dated or boring! A: We have many very stylish clients who build their entire wardrobes with black and white separates. These two neutrals look sharp together, travel well, are easy to find at a variety of price points and make getting dressed a snap. The key to keeping this type of wardrobe fresh and up to date is to add silhouettes and shapes each season that are most in style. For instance, when pants got skinny, our clients in this category added several fresh pairs of “skinny” pants in both black and white. When tees got longer, they followed suit. Also, you don’t want too much black or too much white so combining the two colors (actually neutrals!) does take some thought. A black belt on a white dress, a white shawl over a black dress is the way to add some signature style. All the fashion magazines are actually applauding black and white this spring as a sophisticated fashion choice. We are seeing lots of black and white stripes in the marketplace. Adding a few pieces that sport this pattern might be all you need to do to update for the season sensibly and with style. Finally, if you do want to add a pop of color, red and yellow look great with black and white – even if you add just a scarf or pair of shoes in one of these hues!  

Fashion Q&A: Too Much Black and White? Read More »

Fashion Q&A: Sockless in the Summer

Fashion Q & A: Sockless in the Summer? Q: I don’t like to always wear socks with my loafers in the summer. As a senior executive, I know socks need to stay on during business hours. What about the weekends? Can you give me some guidance? A: Here’s the skinny on socks vs. non-socks for men in warm weather from our professional prospective: You are correct about always wearing socks on business days. In our opinion, it is never appropriate to go sockless at work. On weekends (and for off-site work and social functions during the week), you can forgo them with a little prep. First, be sure your feet are super clean and dry. Any moisture can cause bacteria, which causes odors — one of the reasons some men will never forgo socks with any type of loafer. If you do forgo socks with your loafers, be sure to dry your loafers between wearings. To absorb moisture, cedar trees work well as do dryer sheets stuffed in the toes. When you are wearing loafers with shorts, it is best not to wear socks. Sperry Top-Siders (aka boat shoes) are meant to be worn sockless with shorts and look nice with traditional shorts in the summer. For guys who want to avoid the whole socks vs. no socks question with their loafers — we often recommend this style of shoe to be worn with shorts in warm weather if it fits with the client’s personal style. Extra bonus — “top-siders” (also called “dock siders”) are currently very much in style so you should have no problem finding a pair if this idea appeals to you. They are more casual than a traditional loafer and, therefore, naturally complement the more casual look of shorts. Obviously, if you are going to an event that is on the dressy side, any loafer or top-sider you choose to wear with shorts should be in excellent shape. A lot of our male clients ask us what is the best sock or non-sock option with khaki pants and a polo shirt. I personally like to see socks with this type of more conservative pant outfit — I think it is more polished. It’s a preppy look to go without socks when wearing pants and loafers so you risk the possibility that others will perceive you as slightly collegiate (and sometimes, as I hear from time to time when my corporate clients are prepping me to train their sales force, even elitist.) Take these sentiments with a grain of salt and do what is best for you! It is always my goal to present relevant and thorough insights about any topic we are asked about. Finally, the easiest sock color to wear with a light pair of khaki-colored pants and a brown loafer is brown. You want to coordinate socks with your shoes first. Loafers in the brown family (cordovan included) look best with traditional khakis and are more casual than a black pair of loafers. Black loafers coordinate best with black socks and lightweight black pants in the summer months. In my opinion, they are too harsh with khaki-colored pants made of any fabric (aka cotton or lightweight wool.) Good luck! I hope these tips guide you in making good style choices this summer.

Fashion Q&A: Sockless in the Summer Read More »

Fashion Q&A: Wardrobe Basics

Fashion Q & A: Wardrobe Basics Q: I have recently lost weight and trimmed down two sizes. I need to build a new wardrobe. What are the basics pieces to start with? Can I do this on a reasonable budget? Editor’s Note: This month’s question is being answered by consultant Karen Costa. Karen is available for virtual consulting — a great way to get prompt, specific fashion advice no matter where you live. Follow this link to learn more about how our popular virtual consulting program works. A: Congratulations on your weight loss!!! It must feel wonderful to be down two sizes. The important thing in this economy is to make clothing and accessory purchases that give you maximum flexibility in you wardrobe. The following are some of the basic pieces that I suggest you shop for first. Great pair of black pants (A real wardrobe builder.) Buy two and have one hemmed to flats and one hemmed to heels.     Trouser or boot leg jeans in a dark rinse. Buy two and hem one for flats and one for heels.     White shirt updated with 3/4 sleeves     Twin sweater set in cashmere or a good prima cotton blend. Look for colors like purple, coral and lemongrass.     Sheath dress with short cardigan jacket or safari inspired shirtdress.     Short belted trench coat     Black patent ballet flats     Black heel     Black tote All of the above items can be found in stores and online sites this spring. I especially love finding classic pieces at Talbots, Ann Taylor, Nordstroms and Macys. Check out their websites for ideas and watch for sales! Use accessories to add a pop of color and an element of fun to your basic wardrobe. Look at Target, H&M, JCPenney and Kohl’s for the latest trends at affordable prices. Happy shopping!

Fashion Q&A: Wardrobe Basics Read More »

Fashion Q&A: Casual Pants

Fashion Q & A: Casual Pants for Work Q: In the warmer months, my company’s dress code allows for more casual attire. Even though jeans and capris are allowed from Memorial Day to Labor Day, I think they’re too casual and don’t plan to wear them. Do you have any insights into what makes certain casual pant choices too casual for the office? A: Many of our private clients who work outside the home have a healthy selection of casual pants in their wardrobes. Many of them report getting ready for work and staring at them, wondering if they can (or should!) wear them on the job. The following guide will help you decide whether to slip on casual pants or whether to leave them at home when dressing for work. Remember, common sense prevails. Check with your HR department if you need some more clarification about how any of these fabrics and styles fit into your particular business culture. Jeans: Jeans have come a long way in the century-and-a-half since Levi Strauss secured the pockets of his “waist overalls” and sold them from his San Francisco dry goods store. These days, jeans come in a plethora of cuts, colors and styles, and are the garment of choice for a variety of casual situations. In many industries, jeans, in any color, remain inappropriate for most business situations. The problem is that while some folks look great in them and they understand the importance of making sure they are presented professionally, others will always look sloppy and, well, too casual in them. Also, you have no control over how customers and colleagues view jeans. If your office does allow jeans, be smart about how you present yourself in them. Khakis: With the casualization of the American workforce over the past decade, khaki pants are not just worn in the warmer months anymore. In fact, entire industries claim them as their unofficial “uniform” all year round. If you choose to wear yours for work on business casual days, be sure they are in excellent condition. If you look like you are ready to rake your lawn in them, they are probably too casual for even the most relaxed business environment. Khakis made out of 100% cotton generally do not wear as well as those made of lightweight wool, or a combination of a synthetic fabric (like polyester) with the cotton. If you do choose to wear 100% cotton styles, consider having them dry cleaned if you aren’t disciplined enough to keep them wrinkle-free on your own. Dry cleaning can also give them a longer shelf life. Capris: Capri pants (generally defined as ending mid-calf) are considered a very casual summer dress pant choice and are not the best pant length to wear in most business environments because they tend to scream “take me to the beach, please!” Having said that, a cropped pant (defined as ending just above the ankle) can be okay for work if they are presented professionally. An open toe, business-appropriate shoe can give cropped pants a more professional look than overly casual or overly dressy sandals, especially if they are paired with a well-coordinated business-appropriate top or jacket.

Fashion Q&A: Casual Pants Read More »

Scroll to Top