Fashion

Stop playing matchmaker

Fashion editor Tracey Ho Lung answers your style questions every week

Size 16 style
How do I disguise my large chest and stomach without looking matronly? I’m an older woman and a size 16, but still want to look current and stylish.

There’s no need to sacrifice style just because your body type is more Oprah than Madonna. To camouflage a large chest and stomach, a proper-fitting blazer or denim jacket is hard to beat. These classic pieces are not only versatile (they can be paired with jeans, pants or a skirt), but they work for any occasion – whether you’re running to a meeting or out to lunch. Make sure your blazer/jacket:

· skims just past the waist (to lengthen your torso and slim the look of your stomach)
· doesn’t pull at the chest (otherwise it’s too tight, drawing attention to your bosom)
· includes darts that give shape to your waist (for a slimmer silhouette)
· is made with stiffer cotton or wool (for a more structured look)

Labels such as Melanie Lyne, Jones New York and Louben all have blazers/jackets for larger sizes that fit the bill. TIP Pair these with pants that sit at the waist or slightly lower – high waists emphasize the bust and stomach.

Camisoles to the rescue

Whenever I wear a button-down shirt, it gapes between the buttons. I’ve tried wearing a larger size shirt, even a better bra, but nothing seems to help. I don’t want to give up button-down shirts, but I don’t want to flash my co-workers, either. What can I do?

Since buying a larger shirt size doesn’t seem to solve your problem (usually gaping holes are an indication to go up a size), work with the gaping instead of going against it. One stylish option is to undo the top two buttons and sport a camisole underneath your shirt. Go simple or choose one in a contrasting shade, pretty pattern or interesting trim detail such as lace, embroidery or ribbon. It’s a sure way to add interest to your everyday shirt and still be fully covered. I’ve got at least a dozen camisoles (plain and embellished – sometimes the same style in different colours) in my closet – they’re the perfect underpinnings for shirts, jackets and cardigans. Try out the extensive selection at Gap, Jacob and Banana Republic.

Petite but powerful

I’m 25 years old, four foot eleven and starting my first “real” job. What types of clothes can I wear without looking like a little girl playing dress-up?

When it comes to being vertically challenged, you’re not alone – the average height of a woman in Canada is five foot four (a measly five inches taller than you!). Show everyone that you’re coming from the boardroom and not the classroom with tailored items. Choose from a sleek blazer (opt for one to two buttons), cropped jacket, slim knee-length skirt (nothing too short – one to two inches above the knee is fine), sophisticated wrap cardigan (for more casual meetings) and straight full-length pants (these will elongate the look of your legs). Laura Petites and Sears’ private brand, Jessica, provide proportionally sized clothes – no more taking things in at the shoulders! You can also try stores such as Le Château or Urban Behaviour, whose suits offer a petite fit. Reserve anything cutesy (ruffled skirts, Peter Pan-collared shirts, Mary Jane-style shoes and white shirt and cardigan combos) for the weekends.

Stop playing matchmaker

I recently purchased a yellow-and-green tweed suit. I really love the mix of colours, but it’s been sitting in my closet because I don’t know what shoes will work. Can I wear tall black boots or green shoes? Help!!!

Remember, you don’t have to match your shoes to your outfit. I mean, how often could you wear green heels? In fact, your suit will fare better if you opt for a rounded-toe shoe (very ladylike!) in neutral shades such as warm beige or caramel, which are more versatile and flattering for a range of skin tones. Choose hosiery that matches your skin tone. I would avoid pairing this strong mix of colours and texture with tall boots. Black will be too harsh a shade, and anything pale may have you resembling a go-go dancer. Even in brown, tall boots may overwhelm this punchy colour combo. If you want to hold out for the warmer weather, spring ’05 brings loads of linen shoes (in various neutrals). We love the selection at Lindsay Perry in Toronto. Or try checking out the twill versions at Nine West.

Stop playing matchmaker

I recently purchased a yellow-and-green tweed suit. I really love the mix of colours, but it’s been sitting in my closet because I don’t know what shoes will work. Can I wear tall black boots or green shoes? Help!!!

Remember, you don’t have to match your shoes to your outfit. I mean, how often could you wear green heels? In fact, your suit will fare better if you opt for a rounded-toe shoe (very ladylike!) in neutral shades such as warm beige or caramel, which are more versatile and flattering for a range of skin tones. Choose hosiery that matches your skin tone. I would avoid pairing this strong mix of colours and texture with tall boots. Black will be too harsh a shade, and anything pale may have you resembling a go-go dancer. Even in brown, tall boots may overwhelm this punchy colour combo. If you want to hold out for the warmer weather, spring ’05 brings loads of linen shoes (in various neutrals). We love the selection at Lindsay Perry in Toronto. Or try checking out the twill versions at Nine West.

Stop playing matchmaker

I recently purchased a yellow-and-green tweed suit. I really love the mix of colours, but it’s been sitting in my closet because I don’t know what shoes will work. Can I wear tall black boots or green shoes? Help!!!

Remember, you don’t have to match your shoes to your outfit. I mean, how often could you wear green heels? In fact, your suit will fare better if you opt for a rounded-toe shoe (very ladylike!) in neutral shades such as warm beige or caramel, which are more versatile and flattering for a range of skin tones. Choose hosiery that matches your skin tone. I would avoid pairing this strong mix of colours and texture with tall boots. Black will be too harsh a shade, and anything pale may have you resembling a go-go dancer. Even in brown, tall boots may overwhelm this punchy colour combo. If you want to hold out for the warmer weather, spring ’05 brings loads of linen shoes (in various neutrals). We love the selection at Lindsay Perry in Toronto. Or try checking out the twill versions at Nine West.

Come back next Monday for another problem solved!