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Ask the Expert: Your Fashion Questions Answered!

Posted by on Sep. 26, 2012 at 11:04 AM
  • 7 Replies
1 mom liked this

CafeMom welcomed Hayley Phelan to The Lounge and she's answered your fashion questions!

Hayley is a fashion writer, shopaholic and proud Canuck whose childhood dream was to move to New York City and get paid to write about her favorite things (Mission Accomplished!). She is currently the Fashion News Editor at, and her work has appeared in Elle, and Teen Vogue.


Cake.Lady askedI am going to be a licensed real estate agent next month. That means I'll have to shop for some professional clothing. My issue is that I'm 26 years old, and I find professional office attire to be stuffy and uncomfortable. What are some styles that would still be considered professional, but be comfortable and stylish?

Hayley answered: Congratulations on becoming a real estate agent! Shopping for a new profession can be tricky--but it can also be fun. Remember that looking professional doesn't have to mean dressing boring or stuffy. And luckily, the dress codes of many work environments have loosened up (especially for women), so there are plenty of stylish options. I would invest in a great pair of black, ankle-cropped, fitted work pants. Make sure you opt for a pair that has some stretch so you'll still be comfortable moving about your day (psst Gap has some good options). Then you can have a little fun with your top: Why not try a classic, feminine secretary blouse? Or how about a brightly patterned silk button-down? A pretty blouse and cardigan is another great option. As for footwear, I would divest in a great pair of black flats (the pointy-toe version is all the rage this season) and a pair of kitten heels or low wedges you can actually walk in. Voila! Chic, comfortable and professional style.

Samanthamommy askedIs black really a slimming color? Do you recommend Spanx?

Hayley answeredYes and yes! Wearing head-to-toe black is always a surefire way of looking slimmer. If you're not that into black, try wearing head-to-toe navy or dark grey, the lesson here being that monochromatic looks won't break up the lines on you body--you'll look taller and leaner. Spanx are great for times when you're wearing something particularly form-fitting like a pencil skirt of body-conscious LBD, however they may not be practically for everyday use.

Madelaine askedCan we still wear summer clothing into fall and look fashionable?

Hayley answeredAbsolutely! All you have to do is master the art of layering. Got a pretty summer blouse you don't want to stop wearing? Pair it with jeans, a cardigan and then coil a chunky scarf around your neck and you're autumn-ready. If it's summer frocks you want to wear, pair them with black opaque tights, boots (or closed toe flats) and a sturdy jacket. You'd be surprised how fresh even a white lace summer frock looks with black tights. 

copperswifey askedAre riding boots still in style? 

Hayley answeredDefinitely. Riding boots are like ballet flats: Their popularity may wane here and there but they'll never be 'out.' They're classics!

quirky_mama asked: If I can only afford one good new piece what would be the top thing to get to help me stay on trend for fall?

Hayley answered: Invest in an amazing coat this fall, and you'll feel so polished and poised every time you walk out the door, it won't even matter what you've got on underneath! Military, color-blocked and minimalist styles are particularly in this season. 

sydney_106 askedI have THE question! My son is 14 months and although I've lost most of my pregnancy weight, I still have a small "pooch" in the front. You know the area - right below my bellybutton! What can I wear to hide this problem area? I couldn't wear anything trendy last fall because nothing fit! I'd like to celebrate my hard-earned weight loss!

Hayley answered: Sydney, meet peplums. They're your new best friend. A peplum is defined as "a short flared, gathered, or pleated strip of fabric attached at the waist of a woman's jacket, dress, or blouse." But all you need to know is that they allow you to define your waist, and conceal your little trouble area. And lucky for you: They were all over the runways this season.

mother31985 askedAre mix patterns going to be in style this fall?

Hayley answeredMixed and head-to-toe patterns were one of the biggest trends on the runway this fall. One of the things I love about this trend is that it encourages women to have fun with their wardrobe and mix and match items they wouldn't normally think would go together--it's all about having an anything goes sort of attitude. I would edge into this trend, by experimenting with the items already in your closet, and coming up with new ways to wear them, pairing a floral blouse with a striped skirt, for instance, or wearing paisley pants with a polka-dot sweater. Just be honest with yourself about what's working and what isn't, and make sure you pick an appropriate place to wear this fun and bold look (ie probably safe to keep the trend out of your word wardrobe).

elasmimi askedDue to issues with balance and with several other medical conditions, I have been advised to wear only orthopedic shoes. This sort of does away with any halfway fashionable clothes. Any ideas for an uber comfy shoe that looks decent enough to wear on the rare occasion I really should wear a dress? 

Hayley answeredMore and more brands are starting to realize that while women may love the way heels look, they don't necessarily love they way they make them feel. Some of my favorite brands that offer heels with ample support and comfortable soles are Naturalizer, Cole Haan (which uses the same technology in Nike Air running shoes) and Aerosoles--they have plenty of stylish, and comfortable options for you to try one. Opt for a low-wedge or chunky heel for extra comfort and support.

LeiOKeOla askedI'm 36, 5' 2.5"'s , am a hairstylist with no style , have a stomach that appears 5 1/2 months pregnant, bubble butt, hips going on, and a small chest frame 38b/c. Shopping isn't fun for me. I get discouraged . Please Help. 

Hayley answeredI can imagine shopping isn't fun for you--but it has nothing to do with your size. It's that you're looking at all the negatives! When it comes to body image, everyone--and I mean everyone--has issues, and i know firsthand how easy it can be to get caught up on them. But shopping can and should be an experience in self-love and self-transformation. That being said, it can be hard to break the body-hate cycle, so I would begin by experimenting with shopping online. You can try the clothes on in the comfort of your own home, and if they don't work, most online stores will allow you to return them and some will even pay for the shipping back. But along with improving your wardrobe make sure you are also working to improve your body image--feeling confidence and comfortable in your own skin is essential to have good style.

MrsNocke askedI love fashion but now with 2 kids, have a hard time having extra money to put full outfits together. Any advice about giving a plain outfit some pop without spending too much money?

Hayley answeredThe best way to spice up an outfit is with killer accessories that can be worn a multitude of ways. Try investing in a pretty  scarf in a color or pattern you love. You can wrap it loosely around your neck, use it as a belt, or tie it the French way for an outfit that has the certain je ne said quoi. 

danizeo askedI love being comfortable more then fashionable but I do want to look nice, My look consists mostly of yoga pants or leggings with tee shirts. What are other items that would fit into my comfort zone but would also look more polished?

Hayley answeredYou may not guess it from my job title, but I'm with you on the comfort thing: I don't care how fashionable something is, if it doesn't feel good to wear, or to move around in all day, count me out! That being said, there are plenty of fashionable options that are also comfortable. Try on a pair of jeans with considerable stretch (or jean leggings), trust me they are more comfortable than you might imagine. Or try a pair of silk, printed pants--you'll feel like you're wearing pajamas in public but you'll look like a million bucks!

elizabooks askedIs there anyway to be fashionable and warm this winter? I tend to get very cold and most winter wear that I find are very thin-even the turtlenecks. I have been wearing military ploy-pros (thermals) under my sweaters for warmth. Could you recommend some brands where I won't have to wear six layers?

Hayley answeredUniqlo has an excellent line of super high-tech, super warm undergarments called Heat Tech. From underwear and socks to t-shirts and turtlenecks, everything in the line is super thin (meaning you won't feel bulked down by layers) but thanks to new, cutting-edge technology, the fabric actually works with your own body heat to generate heat and make you feel warmer.

rskinner1122 askedI'm 30 years old and I have a two year old and one year old and I am expecting another. Needless to say my body has been taken over for a good three years now! lol I have gained a lot of weight and nothing seems to look cute anymore on me. I am a short girl so its hard to find pregnant styles that look good on me. I was going to try skinny jeans but I'm not sure if that would work with being pregnant. Please help.

Hayley answeredYou can definitely wear skinny jeans while pregnant--in fact they're a great staple for any modern maternity wardrobe, allowing you to show off your bod without constraining your stomach. Brands like Paige, Citizens of Humanity and Lucky Brand make good skinny maternity pairs.

momofkandb askedCan you wear white after labor day? Or is that rule still standard?

Hayley answeredYou can absolutely wear white after labor day--in fact white was one of the most popular colors on the fall 2012 runways. Just make sure you keep the fabric and style season-appropriate. Be wary of anything that reads too beachy--eyelets and cotton voile are tricky--while white denim and white knitwear are the easiest ways to wear this trend.

countrygirlkat askedI hate wearing anything with heels! Are flats just as nice or are there times where I just need to suck it up, lol?

Hayley answeredI'm a big fan of flats myself and I think that even for fancier affairs they can work. Ballet flats or pretty embellished sandals actually look really fresh when paired with a pretty cocktail frock. For occasions where you feel you really should wear heels, go for low wedges or a kitten heel--they're relatively comfortable and they'll give you that extra inch or two of height. 

by on Sep. 26, 2012 at 11:04 AM
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Replies (1-7):
by Member on Sep. 27, 2012 at 12:59 AM

fun read :)

by on Sep. 29, 2012 at 8:40 PM
1 mom liked this

Love it :)

One more question- what's the best affordable baby clothing brand? 

by Bernadette on Oct. 2, 2012 at 2:53 PM
Awesome advice! Thank you.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
by Member on Oct. 7, 2012 at 2:03 AM

If you have a Sam's club near you, I recommend going there for Carter's. It's a great quality and at Sam's you can get the stuff for about $5 for a whole outfit. 

Quoting Sandy.A:

Love it :)

One more question- what's the best affordable baby clothing brand? 

by on Oct. 9, 2012 at 8:41 PM

Good questions and answers.

by on Sep. 17, 2013 at 11:16 AM

The advices you gave are the best, I am pregnant and my OD told me to take care when buying perfumes as they could contain harmful substances that could affect the fetus. Can you suggest me a good EDT perfume that does not have toluene?

by on Sep. 22, 2013 at 2:17 PM
This is interesting! Thank you :)
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