A collection of questions from real readers*
Q. If an invitation states "Cocktail Attire," does the man wear a tux or a dark suit? I assume the woman wears any dressy ensemble she looks "great" in. Your input on this subject would be greatly appreciated.
A. Cocktail attire technically means a suit for men, and a cocktail dress for women, which usually means a short dress (preferably not career wear). I prefer a little black dress -- and depending how formal you think the event is, you can glam it up with accessories. Of course you have lots of leniency in what you wear -- a dressy pantsuit, a lovely skirt and top, etc. Everyone interprets the meaning of dress requests differently. (Note to readers: Dressing for Special Occasions for more info)
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Q. I need a suggestion. I just bought a solid light grey dress that falls above the knee. The styling is simple. I plan on wearing it to the weddings and other such occasions this summer. What color/type of shoes would go best with this dress?
A. Shoes should be at least the same color intensity or darker than the dress (not lighter) as a general rule (there are always exceptions) You should be able to find tons of grey-appropriate shoes (since it's such a hot color). I'd suggest you go for a little shine (not bead and glitter, just a little of metallic leather maybe) There's everything from silver to pewter available. I'd also recommend sandals because they jazz up most dresses and look so feminine. The heel height is totally up to you.
Q. I'm attending a summer wedding and have a dilemma as to what to wear with a parchment/gray seersucker jacket. Any suggestions for shirt/pant choice? I was going to go with a white linen or white pinpoint shirt. And while I'm at it, what color tie... and can it be other than a bowtie?
A. I think the white shirt can be either fabric. As for pants, keep the palette light. Go for stone (very light khaki), bone, off-white. You definitely do not need a bowtie. Go for a summery tie (make sure it's not too dressy) in a fabric like linen. Keep the colors light, maybe a combo of light blue and khaki or even pastels. As long as you keep the total palette light, you'll have a very pulled-together, sharp look.
Q. I will be going to my first opera. Needing your help! I have no clue what to wear.
A. There usually isn't a dress code for attending the opera, unless you're attending opening night, which is when the big arts patrons dress to the nines. In a sophisticated metropolitan city, there will likely be people more dressed up than other parts of the country. I'd suggest you do what most of us do when in doubt -- go for the little black dress. If you have something sleeveless or short sleeve, just add a shawl, wear your hair and makeup just a little more special than usual and choose appropriately dressy shoes and handbag. If it's like most events, you'll see people wearing everything from jeans to tuxes.
Q.Where can I find some sites that sell boy's school uniforms? All I need are navy pants, sweaters, white polos, etc. Any ideas? Thanks for your help.
A. You have several options online, with my #1 choice probably being Lands End (quality is usually good.
Full figure teen
Q. My daughter is a young, full figure teen. I am looking for catalogs where I can buy clothing for her without squeezing her body in tight garments.
A. Some of the junior catalogs now have added sizes up to a 3XL which means your daughter can wear the same things all of her friends wear. Try these catalogs online (and they also have offline versions available): Delia's and Girlfriends LA.
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*Some questions and answers are edited for brevity and spelling and to conceal identifying information of the readers.