Posts Tagged: dresses

Reader request: What’s the best way to add formal wear to my wardrobe?

By IN Find Clothes You'll Love

how to add formal wear to your wardrobe

A reader asks:

“I have travel and I have a few dressy work functions, both unusual events for me. I am excited about these and want to buy special things to wear, but then I wonder whether these purchases will end up just sitting unused in my closet because they are too specialized apart from my daily wear. How do I enjoy my special events without ending up donating my barely used things to charity 2-3 years from now?”

There are a few different ways to approach incorporating special event wear into your wardrobe. Choose the option that resonates most with you (and works best with your budget and lifestyle).

How to incorporate formal wear into your wardrobe

Long term. This is probably the most traditional approach. Buy one really amazing investment piece, whether that’s a formal gown or the ubiquitous LBD, and keep it for as long as possible.

By design, such garments will sit unused in your closet for long periods of time, but that’s OK; they’ll be waiting for you when you need them. If you attend one such event a year for several years, your investment will have paid off.

Short term. With this approach, you are less concerned with how long you will own your special purchase or how many times you will wear it. Instead, you’re planning for the immediate set of events you know you need the clothing for. When those are over, you can decide whether you’ll need your purchase any time soon.

If you don’t? Take a page from Marie Kondo, thank your garments for their service to you at these special events in your life, and let them go: to a friend or to a consignment store or to charity. (Many cities have prom dress drives that accept gently used formal wear; this is also a good option if you have a bridesmaid dress hanging in the back of your closet.)

Temporary. Forget about buying anything—rent! You’ll spend less overall, and you’ll have access to labels far above your budget ceiling (for most of us, anyway). Rent the Runway is the most well-known, but other options include Lending Luxury in the U.S. and Girl Meets Dress and Dream Wardrobe in the U.K. Or do a search on “women’s formal wear rental” or “women’s formal wear hire.”

And then there’s a slightly unusual hybrid approach: buy just one really great dress for multiple events in a short time span. Sound impossible? This writer was a wedding guest at 10 weddings in one year, in one dress. The secret, of course, is accessories.

Say goodbye to “I have nothing to wear”! Get step-by-step help editing your closet of the clothes you no longer need and filling it with style for the way you live. It’s all included in your instant download of “No More Yoga Pants: How to Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your Style”, the Frantic But Fabulous wardrobe makeover workshop.

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The Little (Non) Black Dress

By IN Advice, Find Your Style, Flatter Your Body, Style Q&A

The Little (Non) Black Dress
[Little Red Dress, Anne Klein // Little Royal Blue Dress, Tahari // Little Bright Blue Dress, Calvin Klein]

A reader writes to ask:

If I get a non-black LBD, what colors/cut/fabrics would be a best bet for nearly year-around use?

While the non-black Little Black Dress may seem like a contradiction in terms, it’s not if you think of the LBD as being Your Wardrobe Staple Dress. Keep the “little” and the “dress,” but toss the “black” if it’s not your style (or if you want to mix it up with a second option).

For a year-’round fabric, you really can’t go wrong with a natural fiber. Wool crepe is often suggested because it has a nice drape, and I think it could work in summer, too, since you will probably be wearing an L(N)BD in the evening and/or inside and there’s not much fabric to one, anyway. (That would be the “little” part!)

As for colors, any jewel tone, such as an emerald green, royal blue or rich red, will work in the same universal way that black does. To get ideas, think about the colors you see celebrities wearing on the red carpet. My favorite L(N)BD is turquoise—but you could even opt for a Little White Dress in summer.

The cut is whatever works best for your shape. Alternatively, there are some universally flattering options: look for a style that fits across the smallest part of your torso, and a you can’t go wrong with a v-neck. (This is why the fit ‘n’ flare style works so well for most bodies.) The simpler the silhouette, the more likely it will be to stay in style—and in your closet—for a long time to come.

Learn more about how to dress for your figure, clean out your closet and create outfits that are fab, not drab, in No More Yoga Pants: How to Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your Style, the Frantic But Fabulous style workshop. This easy-to-follow system includes how-to guides, worksheets and a checklist of wardrobe essentials. Get started today!

Capsule wardrobe: 10 starter career dresses

By IN Create Outfits, Find Your Style, Less Frantic Mondays, Personal Style, Working Mom Style Resources

capsule wardrobe: 10 essential career dresses

Less Frantic Mondays: Tips and tricks for getting dressed and creating working mom outfits with less hassle and more fun.Dresses are a great foundation of a working woman’s wardrobe. Think of it as one-step dressing: Instead of building an outfit out of individual items, pull out a dress and shoes and bam, you’re done.

Dresses can also serve as foundation pieces, too. Wear these closet essentials layered under a blazer or cardigan, or over another top. Some creative mamas have even paired long skirts under shorter dresses, creating a whole new look for both items.

10 starter career dresses

This capsule wardrobe of 10 dresses can jump start a brand new career wardrobe, or guide you in a major closet overhaul.

The five classic dress styles will work for any office and a range of body types. This capsule is in complementary shades of black, grey, red and burgundy, but you could choose all brights, all neutrals or even all black.

  • Sheath. Is there a more classic career dress? Simple and close-fitting, it’s always modern and makes a great basic to pair with blazers. (Think Joan on “Mad Men.”) Versions with ruching or tucking at the waist are an option if you’d prefer to camouflage your middle. Pear mamas, a print on top and solid on the bottom may give you the balance you’re looking for.
  • Basic black. The office version of the LBD, a simple black dress in your favorite silhouette can be worn with anything and everything. You can’t go wrong with a black dress and a string of pearls for timeless elegance.
  • A-line. Especially flattering to apple or inverted triangle body shapes, the A-line is similar to the sheath with a bit more width in the skirt.
  • Wrap. Popularized by the ever-fabulous Diane von Furstenberg, a wrap dress in jersey fabric is chic, elegant and (maybe best of all) comfortable. Because it cinches at the waist, it’s universally flattering. (Smaller busted mamas, if you’re worried about gapping, this is where double-sided tape is your friend.)
  • Flare. Also called the fit ‘n’ flare, this silhouette takes the A-line one step further with swingy fullness in the skirt. Because the skirt is less fitted, it’s looks good on most bodies.
  • Shirtwaist. Sometimes called a shirtdress, this style first became popular in the ’50s (Think Betty on “Mad Men”). The men’s tailoring details in the fitted bodice make it perennially career appropriate and the fuller skirt, like it does for the flare style, works for all shapes.

If you’re not sure what dress shapes are best for you, try them on! Let the mirror be your guide. You’ll likely find more than one style that suits you.

And unless the garment you buy fits you perfectly right off the rack (often a rare feat!), you’ll want to take it to the tailor. Make sure it fits the widest part of your body and have the rest taken in. For example, I’m up to two sizes smaller on top than on the bottom, so I’ve had every one of my fit ‘n’ flare dresses altered. For a relatively small fee, I get a dress with a custom fit.

If you’re on a budget, keep in mind that you will likely find most of these styles at your local vintage and consignment shops. (What’s better than a new DVF wrap dress? A vintage ’70s DVF wrap dress!)

Then learn more about how to dress for your figure, clean out your closet and build capsule wardrobes in the Frantic But Fabulous style workshop—including a checklist of closet essentials, like dresses.

What to wear to a bat or bar mitzvah

By IN Create Outfits, Find Your Style

What to wear to a bar or bat mitzvah

Earlier this month I traveled to North Carolina for the bat mitzvah of my college roommate’s daughter.

This required two things: accepting the fact that I am old enough to have a friend with a 13-year-old, and figuring out what to wear since I’d never been to either a bat or bar mitzvah before.

Facebook to the rescue! I solicited advice from my Jewish lady friends and this is what they suggested.

What to wear to a bat mitzvah

First, understand that there may be several events over the course of a weekend, with the bat mitzvah itself typically taking place on a Saturday and held at the family’s synagogue. There is usually a reception event the same day, and there may also be a shabbat dinner Friday night. Dress for each event can vary depending on where the event is held.

  • For the bat mitzvah service: Dress nicely; think of what you might wear to a wedding or to another house of worship, like church. Keep on the conservative side: cover your shoulders and avoid flashy or bright clothes.
  • For the reception: Start with your invitation; it may have dress suggestions. Or ask the mother of the honoree. In many cases, this will be the dressiest event of the weekend, especially if it’s held in a venue like a ballroom. Some are dinner dances where a cocktail dress would be appropriate and my friend Hallie attended at least one that was black tie optional! Bring your dancing shoes: this is a festive occasion.
  • For other events: If you are invited to a dinner after services on Friday night before the day of the bat mitzvah ceremony, the dress code is the same as the ceremony. Because it’s in the evening, you could choose a party dress, but you could also opt for the same outfit you’re planning to wear to the service.

Since I was traveling to this event, I played it safe by bringing more options than I strictly needed, just in case I got there and found out the other guests were dressing up a lot more (or a lot less) than I was. I kept everything in the same color family so I could bring a limited set of shoes and accessories.

Beyond the dress code, I found these articles helpful for understanding the etiquette of being a first-time guest at a bat mitzvah.


No More Yoga Pants: The personal style transformation system that will teach you how to dress better, shop smarter and reclaim your style!Learn how to build a wardrobe of the clothes that flatter your unique beautiful body with “No More Yoga Pants: How To Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your Style,” the fun, easy-to-follow personal style workshop series. For less than the price of a new pair of jeans, you can look like a million bucks. Get started today!

Try this: Cool colors for cool weather

By IN Find Clothes You'll Love, Find Your Style, Try This Thursdays

Modcloth weekly challenge: 10.3

Try This Thursdays: Something new to try in your working mom style life, like an item to wear or buy, a specific outfit combination to discover in your wardrobe, or even a thing to do.This week’s ModCloth Polyvore challenge was just that, a challenge. The item to build an outfit around was the strapless green Mint Cute Dress, not the most obvious choice for an autumn look.

But summer clothes can transition to winter with some simple changes.

  • Contrast soft colors with bold. In this case, I chose a rich plum to play off the mint of the dress. That suggested the scarf in a similar palette. The bag and earrings are in a bolder shade of green.
  • Add layers. Of course! Here, a super ladylike cardigan fits the romantic style of the bow-accented dress.

If I could pick any green ModCloth dress for a cool weather outfit? Probably this one. Simple, elegant and flattering on lots of bodies.

Try this today: Like this look? Try recreating it with similar items from your own closet. Or search Pinterest or Polyvore for other outfits featuring green dresses or cool colors.


Learn how to create outfits like these with No More Yoga Pants: How To Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your Style, the step-by-step style workshop. Learn at your own pace, and on your own schedule. For less than the price of a new pair of jeans, get instant access today and start dressing better tomorrow.

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Working mom outfit of the week: Shady in red

By IN Create Outfits, Find Your Style, Personal Style, Work It Wednesdays

Outfit idea: Red shirtdress and leopard print accessories
// the outfit [level 4/client meeting] //
dress: H&M [similar] pumps: Ivanka Trump belt: Macy’s [similar] necklace: Kate Spade [similar here, here]

Work It Wednesdays: Working mom outfit photosRed might not seem like a neutral, but I find that I can wear this dress with a wider range of accessory colors than I had originally expected, from contrasting black to lots of leopard, like this.

I thought about wearing my leopard print flats, too but it seemed like a bit much, so I opted for a neutral nude.

Other ideas for mixing this dress with accessories: all silver, in a contrasting color, under a belted shirt or blazer.

Or I could go all red. The dress has a belt of the same fabric and I have both red flats and red pumps. Then again, like the all-leopard idea I discarded, that might be a bit “too too”!

  • Fab mamas: What do you think? Would all red work or be too matchy matchy? What other colors or patterns would work with a red dress?

Note to self: Don’t take photos in the full shade with sun in the background …


No More Yoga Pants: How to Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your StyleLearn how to create outfits that fit your body, your budget–and your busy life–with “No More Yoga Pants: How To Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your Style,” the step-by-step personal style transformation system.

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Working mom outfit of the week: Brown and black

By IN Create Outfits, Find Your Style, Personal Style, Work It Wednesdays

Working mom office outfit idea: Tan fit 'n' flare dress, black/brown accessories
// the outfit [level 4/client meeting] //
top: Banana Republic [similar] dress: Calvin Klein [similar] sandals: Nine West [similar here, here] belt: Target [similar] scarf: Givenchy [similar]

Work It Wednesdays: Working mom outfit photosThe shape of this fit ‘n’ flare dress is always flattering, yet I don’t wear it very often. Maybe it’s because whenever I pull it out, I feel like the neutral palette needs to be amped up with color or contrast to keep from being too bland.

This time I went with a mix of dark brown and black accents: the pattern in the scarf, the two-toned cage sandals.

The wide belt adds definition at the waist (and more detailing) and II like the way the T-shirt layered underneath gives the dress the appearance of cap sleeves.

But I wonder: if a dress requires this much “decoration” to seem interesting, isn’t it a candidate for the To Be Edited pile?

  • Fab mamas: What makes you decide to clean something out of your closet? If it bores you, does it have to go?

No More Yoga Pants: How to Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your StyleLearn how to create outfits that fit your body, your budget–and your busy life–with “No More Yoga Pants: How To Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your Style,” the step-by-step personal style transformation system.

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