Ask Alison

Get Savvy About Style

Let’s face it...sometimes you could use a little "oomph" in your style. A new way of looking at your wardrobe, a simple set of what works and what doesn't when wearing your clothes that aren’t about trends and a short checklist to help you when you go shopping. I understand! As a stylist, I share tips and tricks about style on a regular basis with clients and friends. Whether it’s getting a celebrity ready for the red carpet, helping a woman add some new pieces for Spring, getting a gal ready for her wedding or just helping a friend or client choose the perfect bra to wear with a party dress - yes, that happens! Because I know when I'm rocking the right outfit head-to-toe, I can't stop smiling. I believe every woman deserves to look and feel good in her clothes, so read on for my favorite tips and tricks to help you feel confident.

I'd love to hear from you, so please tell me #SimplyTheOne tip or trick that has worked for you.

First things first. Before I have a client try on new clothes, I start by ensuring that she has the right foundation in place that will make her look and feel better in her clothes. The perfect foundation begins with finding a bra that fits. So, I always check out her intimates first. I’m not being naughty; I just know that the right-fitting bra can help a women appear taller and slimmer and her clothes will look better on her. I’ve seen first-hand the remarkable effect the right bra can have on a woman.  Every gal needs a bra wardrobe that includes the t-shirt bra, the bra that works under sheer clothing, the bra that can help lift, support and smooth your body and, most importantly, they should all be comfortable & stylish. I recently found THE bra that covers that entire checklist from Barely There; it's their new Simply The One bra. Simply The One is the bra you'll turn to almost every day of the week because of its support, comfort and great variety of neutral colors that you can stock up on.

My top tips for your bras and intimates:

Never underestimate the powerful confidence of a super set of skivvies.

Your underthings shouldn’t be a distraction. You want a bra that stays in place, gives you support, doesn’t ride up or poke you. Barely There's Simply The One bras will get you dressed for every day of the week and every event. The Simply The One bra has the perfect combination of neutral colors to keep you feeling pretty and enhance how your clothes look and fit your body. It has Comfortwire technology, which means the wire is on the OUTSIDE so you don't feel it on the inside. It's made from one piece of soft fabric so you'll get a seamless comfort. Plus, Barely There has included one of my favorite features, convertible straps, which makes Simply The One the most versatile bra in my drawer. The convertible straps make it easy to wear with almost every outfit, whether it's a racer-back tank, halter dress or one shoulder style top. Simply The One is available instore at your local Kohl's or online at Kohls.com for $38.

Bra shopping is like shopping for swimwear or jeans—you have to try them on to the find the right flattering fit. You know this, but I'm telling you again, your breast size changes due to weight fluctuation, babies, workout routine and more. Go get ’em sized!

 

Bulges on your sides and back never look good. You may be wearing the right size bra, but the wrong style. This can happen even when you’re not overweight. So look for bras with a wider flat band, which will offer a smoothing effect. If I didn't have on the right bra, like Barely There's Simply The One, you'd see every line or small bulge through this dress, but thanks to its one-piece technology for truly seamless wearing and light foam cups which help shape and support this dress looks smooth.

            Cold weather, air-conditioned theaters, restaurants and offices can lead to an uncomfortable situation I call “your headlights are on.” No woman likes the unwanted attention of eyes on those. So instead of lots of padding, donning an extra sweater or sticking on nipple covers, avoid a thin or sheer bra. It may pretty, but you'll be distracted when you notice you're poking through and I've found those bras have a short "life," meaning they develop small tears or pulls in the fabric quicker.

I like the Carrie Bradshaw character from Sex and the City just as much as my girlfriends. I easily fall prey to watching the reruns for the fashion. Who doesn't!? But I'm not a fan of showing off the bra just as much as the clothes. When it comes to sheer types of clothing, you want to match your bra closest to your skin color so the bra seems to disappear on your body. And what doesn’t work is a white bra under a white t-shirt. Flesh toned and black bras will be your go-to bras.

 

And lastly, just like you go through your closet and clean out the clutter, do the same for your intimate drawers. Once or twice a year, empty your underwear and bra drawers and get rid of the ratty, pilled and grungy intimates. And toss the ones you haven’t worn in ages. Go buy a new bra that fits your body.

My Style Tips:

The most important tip I tell everyone:

Every trend is not for every body! All trends do not work for all people. Wear only the trends that suit you. So try it on before you buy it.

You’ll never be asked to leave a party because you’re overdressed. Everyone appreciates a chic gal. Compliments will occur guaranteed! It's when you underdress that people whisper.

Too tight is never right. If you can’t breathe or there’s a bump or bulge - leave it behind.

Don't fall prey to what I call "sale psychosis." I've walked into many of my client and celebrity closets and see tags hanging on clothes long after they buy the item. When I ask them the story behind the purchase they always tell me it was on sale. Only buy an item that you adore whether it's on sale or full-price. And ladies, if you regret the purchase then return it, don't waste your money on clothes that go unworn.

Get out of your jeans once in a while. Dress like you’re trying to impress someone you’re attracted to or take on the role of a stylish celeb. Just walk with confidence and skip the sneakers. There are too many options from lace-up brogues to slip-on flats that are comfortable enough to run errands or dash after the kids.

I've styled a few looks with the new love of my life, Barely There's new Simply The One bra available at Kohl's. As you can see, it works for every look - date night, work, party or weekend.

    

    

Choose heels more often, even if they’re only one inch—they change the shape of your body and your attitude.

The right alterations can make an outfit go from ho-hum to wow. You don't have to spend a fortune to get a dress hemmed or a shirt nipped in on the sides. Sometimes taking items you already own and tweaking them suddenly gives them a "new" life in your wardrobe. For example, remove the sleeves of a dress or hem a long skirt to knee length. Find a good tailor or seamstress in your town or city. Your local dry cleaner probably has one.

When dressing up, wear bottoms that rise over your belly for the smoothest lines under tops. For jeans, skip the low rise and choose a mid-rise style.

Always try clothes on.  All designers cut differently and even the same designer may have different fits from skirts to pants. You want clothes that fit and flatter not just scream color or the designer name. Remember, there is no fashion police on the street pulling you over and checking your labels or size. I wear brands from all price points and mix them up along with vintage finds and items I've swapped with girlfriends. And I have clothes in four sizes in my closet due to the way different brands cut their clothes. I don't care and neither should you.

A-line skirts are THE answer to just about every body type.  Whether you’re curvy, slender, have hips, want a waist or are trying to hide your thighs.  An A-line skirt will create a waist, fall nicely to your knees and hide practically anything you need it to. The A-line dominates my skirt rack!

 

Excessive details can add weight.  Patch pockets, ruffles, big buttons, epaulettes, wide collars—they all add extra “weight” and accentuate what you have underneath.

Play up your good parts.  Great gams, buff biceps, a long neck, a pretty face or beautiful hair need to be highlighted by your outfit. 

Remember that style is very different from fashion.  Find what works for you - whether it is classic, eclectic, edgy or romantic - and go full throttle!

Girlfriends, this is truly the MOST IMPORTANT:

Smile and make eye contact - it's harder for someone to be critical of your clothes when you are lovely and interesting!

 

 

#sponsored

Q. I’ve just taken a new position with a company that will require quite a bit of business travel. Any tips for a gal that will soon be traveling to multiple cities?

-Hotel Hopping

Alison: I, too, am a girl on the go and have learned several ways to try to make life a little more comfortable while visiting multiple cities. Get yourself a good bag that has multiple pockets for just about everything. With pockets you’ll be able to find essentials faster. And consider skipping a leather bag since it will get scuffed up faster with all the shoving underneath the seat in front of you on the plane. I used to buy a new big bag each season at TJ Maxx or Marshalls since they have so many designer labels, but I’d be bummed when they got dirty. I have been using a travel bag from Baggallini for the last six months and it's saved me plenty of shoulder pain. The bag fits my laptop inside the bag so I don’t have to carry another bag just for my computer plus holds magazines, a book, and all my other essentials like snacks and toiletries that I carry on board. I bought the bag on ebags.com and it comes in multiple colors choices plus has a pull up handles and wheels. I was very picky on finding a stylish bag that fit under the seat, saved me carrying anything extra and didn't look stodgy. When booking hotels using online sites, request a quiet room on a high floor away from elevator . Nothing makes for a bad night sleep with an early wake up than listening to the elevator opening all night, the ice machine chugging and noise from the freeway outside your window. Also, a room on a higher floor can mean quiet and safety for a woman. Don’t give up your workout, just find new routines to do on the road . Most hotels have fitness centers, bring along your swimsuit for a pool workout, ask the hotel for a nearby park with running trails or bring a stretch band and workout in your room and do walking lunges down the hotel hallways (I’ve gotten over the embarrassment factor). When your meetings are over or after you’ve checked in, get out of the hotel and explore the city . This is easy when you’re doing business in a big city like San Francisco, Chicago or New York. Skip the car and walk around. Portland has the waterfront to explore, you can walk around West Hollywood in LA, get a cupcake at Toast, shop the boutiques on Third Ave and hike in Runyon Canyon or head to the fisherman’s wharf in Seattle and try several food options from various vendors and stop by the aquarium. The point is, don’t get stuck in your hotel room every time. It’s inevitable in some cities when you’ll have to do with room service and the TV, but if you can get to a local restaurant, then indulge that time with a good book. If you’ll be choosing from the room service menu, then check to see if the hotel has any restaurants on the property and you can usually choose from their menu, but have it delivered as room service. I’ve indulged that way several times at the Grand Hyatt in Tampa Bay from Armani’s and Oyster Catchers restaurants. As for traveling on the plane, comfort is crucial. I usually wear the same “uniform” which consists of a stylish t-shirt or button down, pants or dark jeans, a sweater or cardigan (usually thin cashmere), a wrap that works double duty as a blanket and flats. And I have a blow-up neck roll since it takes up no space in my bag rather than lugging a stuffed one. Always have a good book, paperback is lighter, and a rotating menu of magazines. I’m always tearing out pages of decorating ideas, restaurants to try and a new pair of shoes or jacket to track down. While I have the new iPhone which has helped my business needs tremendously, my iPad is a must for movies to watch when my book bores me and the flight seems endless.

 

Question: How can we tactfully encourage my daughter's soon to be mother-in-law and sister-in-law to have their hair & make-up done for photos and the wedding? They normally like "the natural look". I have set up hairdresser and make-up to come to the bridal suite to specifically work on the close relatives. Also, how do I approach payment for themselves? -Donna, NY

Alison: Awkward is right! First let me ease some of your concern by saying that the majority of posed wedding photos with family are full length which means that you won't be able to see up close whether makeup is good or not. Instead it will just come across whether they look attractive or not.  And that's for others to judge. Also, when it comes to choosing photos that will be printed larger to be displayed in frames in your daughter's home with her husband, I guarantee that besides one or two photos with family or bridesmaids/groomsmen the prints that she will choose will be her favorites of just her and her husband.  You may end up choosing a few photos to display in your home as well, but again you'll choose the prints that have you and your daughter looking best because let's be honest-that's what's most important to you. As for all the photos that end up in the album, you and your daughter will look at it often once it's completed, but after friends have seen it when they happen to be at the house, the excitement will die down and then it will be brought out just once in a while. Again, it's the photos that are hung on the walls or in frames on display that will be seen and those will likely be just bride and groom. So I hope that helps diminish some of the wedding stress.

Next is the phone call or face-to-face with the in-law members you'd like to get H & M done.  The best way to approach these women is to join them in on the excitement of the wedding preparations.  Example conversation:  "Hi Jane, we're so excited about Mary's upcoming wedding so she and I wanted to join you and your mom in on the beauty of that day. She and the bridesmaids are getting their H & M done and we were able to get a great deal on all of us getting similar treatment. I don't know about you, but I'm no pro with a makeup brush so when they offered a deal to help us look good in the photos I thought it was a great idea. And I know Mary wants us all to join in on the glamour part of the day. The H & M team quoted me a price of $$ per person. I wish I could pay for all of us and I know that H & M can be pricey, but we'd love for you to be with us when we're all getting ready. A true gals bonding experience. I'll bring the champagne and we can sip the bubbly while we get ready."

Donna, while you want everyone to look fabulous, this invite you offer to the in-law ladies should focus on the bonding time while prepping and the glamour that we all don't get a chance to partake in regularly.  If they say yes, you must include them in the group experience or else you face backlash of the having them feel like the ugly ducklings. So what happens if they balk at the price? You're next step is with grace and tact to let them know you'd like to pay half the price to have them be a part of it. (And that means more money out of your pocket.) You can't pressure them to pay or get H & M done if they don't want to do it. And nobody wants an uncomfortable wedding day. And while you may not care what they say behind your back it will be tense if you pressure them.  So if they say no, then with a smile say, "We'll miss you and your mom behind the scenes, but look forward to us all looking lovely for the photos." And why not go one step further and invite them to to join you when you're all getting ready even if they don't partake in the H&M. I’m sure they’ll get the hint and hopefully take a little more time getting ready for Mary's wedding.

Ask Alison

Alison, I was thinking about getting the Sam Edelman Roza spiked pumps. The material is velvet and I want them for spring/summer. Does it matter wearing velvet shoes? -Katiana

Hi Katiana, The Roza heels are definitely statement making pumps for now thru early Spring, but velvet is considered a "heavy" fabric for summer. So when summer arrives put your Roza's on the shelf until Fall and switch to heels in vibrant punches of color to make an outfit stand out. Eric Rutberg, $235, Piperlime.com            Thaddea by Enzo Angiolini, $129, Piperlime.com

Ask Alison

Alison: Have you found any sources for cute back-to-school clothes for plus-sized little girls? My daughter was in tears this week right in the middle of the girls' rounders at Old Navy, because they were just the clothes she would like to wear to school, only not sold in her size. (All they have for "plus" sizes is the khaki or the navy school uniform--have you seen that awful pleated teflon skirt? UGH!) She is a 16 1/2 up top, and a 14 1/2 for bottoms, 55" tall, 122 pounds, and 9 years old. Thank you, Kimberly

Answer: Wipe away those tears and grab a seat in front of the computer with your daughter. It's time to shop online. First stop is LandsEnd.com for sweaters, super cute denim skirts which your daughter can dress up with colorful tights and boots and a myriad of classic polo dresses and floral t-shirts. The sizes go up to 18 1/2. Next stop is Zappos.com. Here you can narrow your search to girls clothing, choose a category like tops or dresses and then choose your size and voila-it will show you photos of all your options.  I plugged in size 16 and 18 found soooo many cute tops from flowy bohemian styles to trendy prints from well-known designers. And most of what I found was under $40 unless it was a dress. I know it's tough and there are fewer shopping choices above a size 14, but I hope I was able to help you find a few stylish items for your daughter.

Dress for son's wedding

Ask Alison:

Hey Alison! Been keeping up with you, girl! So cool how many people and places you are charming with your sweet self. You are rockin' it! Way to go. My oldest son is getting married in July, outside at a country club. It is a 4pm ceremony. As you might recall, the ladies are large! I have dropped from a size 22 down to a 16 since I saw you last, but am still on the heavy side. What would you suggest? And what about a hat? I so appreciate any ideas! -Becky, Keystone Heights, Fl

Answer:

Hey Becky, Outside in July means there will be heat and humidity to deal with, especially if we're talking about Florida. If indeed the country club is in Florida then I would suggest skipping the hat unless it's lightweight, medium to wide brimmed raffia in a pale woven color. Then you can add a ribbon or flower of your choice to match with your dress. While we're still letting thoughts of Kate and William dance in our heads remember that affair was held in a cool interior and most women dressed in conservative suits. The hats were fun, but most of the outfits were a bit dull. Most important is to choose the dress and you can think about a hat later since depending how long the ceremony runs it can lead to a hot, perspiring mess under the hat and flattened hair.
As a mother of the groom you do not and should not feel required to match with the colors of the bridal party. So your first choice is long or cocktail length? Then choose colors that best suit your skin tone. Next, get yourself some good shapewear  from a smooth, but supportive bra and another item to smooth out any lines and lumps from appearing when you slip on the dress. You know it and I know it, no matter what our size, shapewear helps. In fact bring the bra and shapewear with you when you shop or order several dresses via online and get dolled up in your house and see what works best from jewels to heels. While it is the bride’s day to shine you still want photos to remember that you too looked good and to make your son proud.
So here are a few of my top suggestions:
Cocktail Length:
This dress is not white and not close to white, just in case you were concerned. I think the fabric would hug your body nicely and it looks quite chic.
V-neck platinum cocktail dress
DavidMeister.com, $525, but I found it at LaGrandeDame.com for $160
A satiny fit-and-fare dress with embellished pockets. Add silver or gunmetal heels.
OC by Oleg Cassini Portrait Collar dress
This dress won't hug your hips or thighs while still accentuating your waist.
Tadashi Shoji Dance Dress
Saks.com, $415
Ruffles, ruching and pleating.
Adrianna Papell Ruched Dress & Bolero
A strong, but sophisticated deep blue that can be dolled up with accessories.
Cybelle Cocktail Dress
Igigi.com, $162
Jewel tone stretch satin v-neck cocktail dress that offers a flattering neckline.
While I am usually not a fan of brown this cut is flattering for the neckline and the room it gives in the waist and hips.
Stretch taffeta cocktail dress
Long versions:
Good color for a summer wedding and should move easily on the dance floor.
David Meister Jersey Cowl Neck Gown
Saks.com, $330
This is one of those dresses with the right accessories like gold strappy sandals and jeweled drop earrings that you could look young and gorgeous.
Celebration Wrap dress in jade.
Igigi.com, $155
Certainly age appropriate and still stylish for mom of the groom. The ruching and wrapping can help hug your curves.
Tadashi Shoji Asymmetric Drape Gown
Saks.com, $312
Skip how young the model looks and think about your face instead. This could swish and sway around guests and make a lovely, approachable look.
Estrella Hyacinth Violet Gown
Igigi.com, $275

Ask Alison:

I need help finding a white bandeau to wear with a new maxi dress this summer. -Laura (New York City)

Answer:

Laura, So simple. If you feel your maxi is too low cut and you need a little coverage and perhaps some oomph of support try these simple, but still pretty bandeau tops. And you'll avoid the uni-boob effect. Thanks, Alison DKNY Classic Beauty lace trimmed bandeau Nordstrom.com, $28 White lace bandeau Topshop.com, $26 Free People Scalloped lace bandeau Zappos.com, $28 Barely There Bandini-this style comes in white and the straps easily hide next to the bandini. BarelyThere.com, 2 for $26 Have a question for Ali? Send to: Ali@alionthego.com

Ask Alison--Question: While I absolutely love my champagne colored wedding dress, it is a bit heavy and I've begun to wonder how I'm going to get through the day and night in it. I was so happy to find a beautiful and affordable dress, but do I sacrifice a night of dancing to still look pretty in my wedding dress?  Any advice? -Randi (Los Angeles)

Answer: Don't fret!  Haven't you heard of a change of wardrobe?  Celebrities do it all time for awards shows and performances so why not take a cue from their style page. I had my glorious Lloyd Klein couture gown for the wedding, the amazing photos and through the first dance and meal. THEN, it was time for the party to begin and I made a dress change.  I had a short Valentino dress that was similar to my pink/peach wedding gown.  This is not the time to throw on just any cocktail dress and definitely not an LBD. It would be ideal to continue the elegant look of your wedding with a dress that is within the same hues of your gown yet shorter, lighter and easier to move in, particularly for the dance floor. Have a beautiful day and hit the dance floor and cut the cake in one of these under $400 options, many of them I found through thefind.com.

Embroidered strapless flowing dress by Sue Wong-$368 Bloomingdales.com and SueWong.com

Embroidered mid-driff dress with organza petal skirt by Sue Wong-$388 Bloomingdales.com

Strapless chiffon dress by ABS-$330 Bloomingdales.com

Ivory Rosette Dress by Blush-$238 SimplyDresses.com

Lace strapless dress by Alecon, $280 Amazing-Wedding-Dress.com

A-line lace dress by Alecon, $279 Amazing-Wedding-Dress.com

Making Plans

by Marcello (our guest guy writer) Q: I’ve been dating this guy for about a month – and every time we make arrangements to get together he asks me what I want to do or where we should go. Why is he asking me all the time? Call me old-fashioned, but I think a man should know what he wants to do and where to take me. Am I crazy? - Mary, Coldwell, NJ A: From the tone of your question, Mary, I’m wondering if he isn’t a bit intimidated. I should think that if he were the one who asked you out in the first place, he would have had an idea of what he wanted to do on the first date. Did you reject his ideas out of turn? There’s nothing wrong with a man wanting to inquire what you might like to do or eat – especially if you don’t know each other. If, however, after a few dates he continually defers to you to make the call he’s either: a. concerned you won’t like his choices b. a wimp c. both If you like him, despite his lack of creative input, take a moment to ask him about it. Tell him that you would like to hear his thoughts on the matter – and that you will agree to join him. You never know…perhaps he’s been sitting on a vast wellspring of activities – and now that you have made it clear you’re willing to hear them – a flood of exciting possibilities will be unleashed onto your calendar(s). Have a question of your own to ask our guy? Send it to Marcello at askourguy@alionthego.com
Need a fix? An emergency fashion fix, I mean. It happens to all of us at one time or another. You're running to meeting and you snag your hose. Or you're at a party when you notice your shirt button about to pop off. It seems like wardrobe malfunctions always occur at the most inconvenient times from fallen hems to stuck zippers. I’ve got tips for solving your own fashion emergencies and what you’ll need in you own at home kit or items to toss in your bag. Makeup Stains Quick - find a baby! Okay, so you can't hold someone's baby the whole night to cover up a makeup stain. But you can use baby wipes to remove or reduce makeup stains on clothing. They also come in handy for removing lint from clothing and dirt from shoes. Deodorant Marks on Clothes You pull on your favorite little black dress, slip on your stilettos, grab your clutch and head for the door. A last look in the mirror reveals white marks on your dress. No time to change. Instead grab a handy Gap-Pal sponge and wipe away the chalky stain. Find it on, Gal-Pal.com. What you don’t want to do is rub it with a paper towel or a wet cloth. Fallen Hems For a make-do hem in a hurry, use short pieces of masking tape or duct tape to fix a fallen hem. Lighting professionals and musicians usually use duct tape or gaffer's tape for their equipment, so locating some at an event shouldn't be tough to do. And you can always keep these products from Bristols6.com and Hemmingmyway.com for creating quick hems on your jeans and pants. Panty Hose Runs A small run in your panty hose can soon develop into a full-fledged tear. Use clear nail polish to stop a run in its tracks. Hair spray is another good short-term solution. Falling Bra Straps or the Uncomfortable “headlights” There's nothing more annoying than having to keep pulling up your bra straps. Double-sided tape can fix that problem in a hurry. Get yourself a handy little box from Hollywoodfashiontape.com. Use a small safety pin to fix a broken bra strap. From headlights when wearing a sheer bra or no bra turn to the silicone covers that companies like Fashion Forms.com and Bristols6.com make. They lightly stick on, are completely comfortable, can be worn multiple times and immediately a woman’s confidence rather than trying to hide. Stuck Zipper Stuck zippers can be a real nuisance. Try rubbing a bar of soap or a wax candle onto the problem area. With a little manipulation, the zipper should come unstuck. Loose Buttons/Fraying Button Threads A loose button can quickly turn into a missing button. Dab the top of the button with a little clear nail polish to prevent it from completely falling off. Sweater Snags Step away from the snag with your hands up. However tempting it may be, do not cut or pull the snag, for it will result in an unraveled mess. Instead, take the tip of a closed pen or even a safety pin (just don’t stick yourself), and push the snag back through the inside of the sweater. Knot the snag on the inside of the sweater and help secure it with a dab of clear nail polish. Pilling Sweater Don't just stand there pulling lint of yourself like a monkey! Rub a piece of Velcro along the pilled fabric to remove those unattractive balls. No Velcro? Get a fabric shaver or sweater comb on TheFind.com.

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