Suggestion Box

Although I am ALWAYS open to reader suggestions, it’s been a long time since I opened up the box, here.  So. Any suggestions for advice-y, how-to, tutorial type things you’d like to see me cover? Topics you’re curious about or ideas you’d like to see explored? Pressing sartorial or body image questions? Let’s hear them.

A few quick administrative notes:

  • If you would rather e-mail than comment, just drop me a note! In fact, if you have a pressing/timely question, it’s better to e-mail. It takes me a while to get through the Suggestion Box questions, so I can’t promise a quick reply if you comment here.
  • If you ask about a topic that’s already been covered on the blog, I’ll respond in a comment and set you up with a link.
  • Try to keep suggestions general and topical. If you have a question about something personal or specific, you can e-mail me instead. (For example, “What are some ways to accessorize Little Black Dresses” will work better as a post topic than, “How should I accessorize my strapless, knee-length, belted, chiffon LBD for my high school reunion?”)
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42 Responses to “Suggestion Box”

  1. Tina

    I would love to hear your thoughts on how to wear gloves and where to find gloves at a reasonable price.

    I have a horse and paint so my hands look like I might be a mechanic. Also, my husband hates nail polish and I’m too busy to get manicures. And then there are the veins and the gnarly knuckles from arthritis. Do you think gloves might be the answer, or is that too over the top?

    And then there’s glove etiquette. Can you just leave them on all the time? (Is it okay to eat in gloves? Shake hands in gloves?) I’m going to a wedding in August, and I’d love to figure out a way to get gloves to work for me for that and other special occasions.

    • Harriet

      I also have gnarly hands from arthritis and a physical job and the answer is to just get over it. Nobody cares. You’ll draw more attention to yourself by wearing gloves at inappropriate times than by not looking like a hand model.

    • Susan in Boston

      Tina, although these gloves are sold for gardening, I wear mine with clothes occasionally. The colors are so fun that they fall into the category of funky accessories rather than what nice girls wear on Sundays, which is how I first met gloves. They come in two lengths, and you can wash them.

      If you buy them for gardening, don’t get green ones. You can easily lose them in the surrounding greenery if you peel them off for some reason.

      http://www.foxglovesinc.com/

      • Heidi L.

        Tina,

        For the summer wedding you could look for net gloves since they’ll be cooler,assuming they’d go with whatever you’re wearing.If you want gloves generally you can try places like Target where they do carry leather gloves in the winter or look for old/vintage ones in thrift stores or on e-bay or etsy.Depending on hand width,finger length etc if you’re not the ‘average” size finding leather(or fabric) gloves may be more tricky.However,if you’re ever in Europe they have stores that have gloves in a multitude of colors,sizes andcompostitions.This bit might not help you much,but there maye be sellers on-line too.

        Heidi L., accesory lover,with wide hands
        p.s. I finaly had to resort to buying gloves in Florence before I found some that fit.

  2. Laurel H

    Oh Sal, your timing is perfect. I was debating commenting on your outfit post from yesterday (Dressed for: Mixed Metals) because I didn’t think the outfit was working for me (I’ll explain below) but I didn’t want to seem critical. And I wasn’t sure how to suggest the topic to you! So here goes.

    1. My reluctance to post something critical made me think about how we as women are often reluctant to be critical of others. Oh sure, we’re critical of ourselves, and of others behind their backs in a catty way. But we’re often afraid to speak our minds lest we be seen of being critical of others. How often, in a business meeting, are we afraid to say what we feel when we don’t agree with others, or don’t want to be the only one in the room to say we don’t like something? So, how about a post on how women should hone our skills to be critical in a supportive, constructive way? I am often reluctant to post criticism of outfits on personal style blogs and I suspect others are, too. I don’t have a blog and I’m not putting pictures of myself on the Internet for all to see and comment, and have enormous respect for those who do, so I don’t want to be critical.

    2. The reason yesterday’s outfit wasn’t working for me is that I found the brown jacket was not enough of a contrast in tone with the brown pants, so they looked a bit “off”. (It could just be the lighting in your camera or my computer screen, but still…) So, how about a post on how to style brown? I’ve actually started avoiding buying brown-toned items because I find they’re too hard to style, compared with various tones of blacks and greys, which I find don’t need to be such a contrast or match.

    I hope you take my suggestions in the spirit of admiration and respect and the desire to create an honest, open, supportive community here!

    • Sally

      Laurel, I’ll definitely address your requests eventually, but also a quick note about critical comments on outfits:

      All constructive criticism is welcome here, and most AP readers know that for criticism to be constructive it must be phrased respectfully. (Clearly, you do, too!) I understand why you’d be hesitant to post criticism of style bloggers’ outfits for the reasons you’ve stated, and hesitate to do so myself for those same reasons. But also because I think that how we react to outfits is down to taste: No outfit is fundamentally, categorically bad or good.

      When we debate ideas here, opportunities arise frequently to change the minds of others or have our own opinions swayed. Those debates are often fraught with criticism of my ideas and commenters will engage with each other, too. But if I were to swing by someone’s blog to comment that I’d have worn different shoes? Since the blogger in question already wore the shoes she photographed, this type of comment feels moot to me. For what it’s worth, the constructive criticism comments that I find most useful are the ones that offer suggestions for “next time”: Next time maybe a lighter pair of pants, or next time more contrast between the jacket and pants. Instead of just saying “I don’t like this” or “I’d have done something different” this offers the person on the receiving end some specific options for the future. Just saying that you don’t like something registers your taste, and may land badly depending on how you phrase it. Instead, what would you have done differently and why?

      That said, while I appreciate your recognition of the fact that posting a full-body photograph on a website every day takes come chutzpah – and it does – most bloggers are well aware that they cannot expect everyone to like everything they do, say, or wear. If they want nothing but accolades, blogging probably isn’t the best idea!

      Criticism in other contexts – especially among women – definitely deserves its own post, which I’ll get to as soon as I can.

      Thanks for your honesty, lady!

      • Jennifer

        Sal,
        In contrast, I absolutely loved the jacket and the pants and thought they looked marvelous together. But I’d also love to see how they looked with one of your wonderful pairs of boots…maybe in the fall or winter. That rugged toughness I think would be complemented by some steam-punky or cowboy boots. Maybe just because your outfit reminded me of one of my favorite fictional characters, Capt. Mal from Firefly, and he carried off similar outfits with boots. Anywho, loved the metal mixing and pinned your outfit. 🙂

      • Laurel H

        All excellent points, as usual. I look forward to an eventual post (since you have so many great post ideas here!) on how women can and should offer constructive criticism. Thanks for your reply!

  3. Galena

    I like Allison at Wardrobe Oxygen’s capsule wardrobe posts (for example, what to pack for a business trip, a 2-week vacation, a wedding weekend, etc) and I’d love to see your take on things like that as well! Or posts similar to “insomniac sale picks” where you post different stores/websites you can find wardrobe staples or pieces you find yourself reaching for often (for example, a yellow cardigan, or good places to get colored belts, etc) – links to the specific pieces would be ideal, but even saying “this store is generally good for this sort of thing” would be a great narrowing-down for your readers. Speaking as someone with limited income, I would also LOVE to see posts on where you can get mid-quality but affordable pieces, or links included for cheaper options when you do posts similar to what I describe above (for instance, many of the “ISP” links are out of my price range, even on sale).

  4. A.B.

    I actually sent you an email asking you how to accessorize the seven black dresses that I own.

  5. Carolyn

    How to look good in workout clothes. Whenever I go to one of those classes like zumba, it’s full of these women in their coordinating gear and I just flail around in the back of the room in yoga pants and a t-shirt and feel out of place. How do you style workout clothes without just buying whatever the mannequin is wearing at lululemon?

    • Stephanie

      I’m not Sal and no doubt she has better advice then I do but I wanted to tell you that lately I’ve found some very cute gear at both kohls and old navy. I really love the exercise scorts with the pleats in the back for zumba. Every time I wear mine people tell me I move so well and I have to laugh bc its mostly the skirt.

  6. Monica H

    I would like to hear your perspective on style or wardrobe diversity. Often I feel like I have a few types of tried and true outfits, but feel ‘boring.’ And then I think, well, Sal always looks great and many of her outfits have a similar flavor, maybe it’s not that important? It seems you may have an interesting perspective on this.

  7. Brenna

    I love the look of a belt adding a waist to a shapeless outfit, but I hate the feeling of a belt squeezing me. I can’t stand the feeling of spanx or pantyhose either! What kind of belts would you suggest?

  8. Roxane

    What’s the difference between accessories that “go” and ones that are “matchy-matchy”? For example, if you’re wearing all silver accessories (necklace, bracelet, shoes) is that matchy-matchy? Would you need to mix metals to have things that “go” and still stay metallic? Or, in another example, since your bracelet and necklace in your brown “Mixed Metals” outfit posted yesterday had the same mix of colors, is that matchy-matchy, or do they go?

    I wonder which assumes the need for a large supply of accessories (and thus perhaps a larger budget) – being matchy-matchy or having things that “go”. (Of course, if you stick to a very small color palate, this isn’t an issue.)

    I’m more interested in this philosophically or in seeing examples. I’m happy with both in my own looks and have a sense of when I think things are too unrelated or too much all the same.

  9. Jennifer

    One suggestion I’ve often thought of is listing comparable items in plus sizes. I know you’re not plus-sized and that the reader asking in your insomniac post may not be either, but I hate to look through a cool post, like the one on shirt dresses, and not find a single one that will fit me. Also, listing maybe one or two plus options on some of your own outfit posts would be nice. I’ve noticed some plus-size bloggers do this~list a plus-sized equivalent piece and then a regular-sized equivalent with their outfits. I know you’re supportive of body diversity. I would really appreciate any such steps to include us plus-sized folks.

    Also, I know you’ve done a few in the past, but I would appreciate some posts on menswear or dressing men. I occasionally like to buy pieces for my (big and tall) brother or average-sized bf.

  10. Roxane

    A second question: The standard fashion advice for older women (over 40) regarding jeans always seems to be to go for a more formal look (dark wash, lack of trendy decoration, etc. etc.). I understand this if the question is about how to wear jeans in a business-casual outfit or another “dressy” look. What is it about being “older” that means “not casual” in a particular way? (You linked to a post about wearing “nostalgic” t-shirts in a grown-up way that took a similar approach – paring them with more formal elements, particularly blazers.)

    I’m not talking about throwing on poorly-fitting jeans with a bland, stretched out t-shirt (since most of us interested in fashion aren’t looking for that). And the seriously acid-washed stuff can stay in the 80s, as far as I’m concerned.

    I’m almost 42, and the whole reason I own jeans is to be casual. I wear them with scuffed up boots or funky shoes, graphics-tees (something else I’m supposedly too old for), or to dress down something sparkly or glam. None of my jeans (all-boot leg or straight) are very dark.

    Thanks.

  11. Ruth Slavid

    Hi Sally, this may look like a very specific request but i think it is more general. What do you wear with ‘difficult coloured’ or in this case ‘difficult plus white’ coloured clothes? I recently bought this skirt from Boden http://www.boden.co.uk/en-GB/Womens-Skirts/Below-Knee-Skirts/WG487/Womens-Riviera-Skirt.html which is brignt orange and white. The model is wearing it with a light blue shirt but that looks rather random to me. Her shoes are orange too, but you know that in reality they would be a different orange. So what do you wear with something two-coloured without it looking random – especially if it is a shouty colour that doesn’t go with its near neighbours (unlike say greys or blues which often go well together). I was really dull and settled for a white t-shirt and black sandals on first wearing. But I think it is a general problem with clothes where there is no way to pick up the main colour. It’s always somehow difficult as well to incorporate clothes which aren’t your ‘core palette’. You might feel adventurous, but they just don’t go with anything. Maybe it’s a summer problem – in winter one can always cope with loads of black.

    • Patricia

      I’d love to see a post about how to style bright skirts too! I just bought a J. Jill Hawaiian-print pink-and-white skirt that I ADORE, but have so much difficulty styling… it’s the perfect length and weight for summer and I absolutely don’t want it to turn into a closet orphan! LOVE the orange on that Boden skirt, by the way.

  12. Patricia

    1) I know you mentioned a little while ago that soon you’d write a post about the benefits of matchy-matchy– yes please! I’d also love to see that expand into something about the different attitudes and situations when matchy-matchy works, as opposed to more contrast (if that makes sense?).
    2) Can you maybe talk a bit about DIY clothing alterations? I’m not sure if that’s something you do with your own clothes often, but I know I’ve seen you recommend snipping off belt loops and the like… what options do you tend to utilize in terms of making off-the-rack clothing work better for you (either on your own or with tailoring, although I know you’ve already written a few great posts about tailoring)? Is it worth it buying something not-quite-perfect and making it your own?

  13. Lynn

    This may sound silly, but how do you flat iron short hair without burning yourself or having ridges in your hair? My hair is slightly longer than yours and so far I have burned my ears and fingers. I also get ridges from starting too low.

    My second question would be how can petite women wear tunics successfully without leggings? How long should a tunic be and what kind of pants work well with a tunic?

  14. Andrea

    I would be interested in a post on how different hairstyles interact with outfits. How much does wearing hair down vs. in a bun affect the formality of an outfit? How much can the hairstyle you wear with an outfit change the overall look? I always seem to wear my hair the same way with the same pieces, and I’m not sure why I only ever visualize those things with those hairstyles. (I’m also contemplating a major hair change right now, so hair is on my mind a lot recently.)

  15. Portia

    Hello! I love reading your blog daily and have gotten tons of good advice from it. I would really like to know more about:

    1) How to style and care for curly hair (your recent post about curly hair made me happy, and while I would love to embrace my curls, they are extremely unmanageable :()

    2) How to deal with oily skin (any tips, products, etc. you can recommend? Currently I wash my face once a day, use powder – which wears off after half an hour – and oil wipes)

    Thank you!

  16. J

    1. I know you’ve talked about it in the past, but I’d love some more advice on how to get inspired about new color pairings.

    2. What about advice for when your sense of what’s flattering is self-contradictory? Most advice only addresses one dimension at a time, and sometimes the applicable bits of advice directly contradict one another.

    To give an example – I am very chesty but also have a tiny waist and an hourglass figure. Sounds easy: cinch in that waist with a belt. But I am also tremendously short-waisted and can’t wear anything but the narrowest belt at my natural waist. Therefore I should wear a very narrow belt, or wear the belt a little on the low side where I am still fairly slim. But I’m also short…

    I imagine that many women struggle with this same type of problem, and I’d love to get your advice.

  17. Melinda

    I’d be interested in a post on purses and bag. I always feel ridiculous carrying any kind of purse. If it’s big, I imagine myself as a 4 year old girl playing dress up. If it’s small, it just seems too twee and fiddly. I admire women who can carry contrasting colored or interestingly structured bags as if they are natrual parts of their wardrobe (instead of, oh-god-I-need-somewhere-to-stick-my-wallet-and-phone). So I’d like to see sort of a “Getting Started for the Bag Wary” post.

    • Brenda

      Second this.

      Also, more about cross body bags and how to wear them in different situations, for example, traveling, for work (educational environment, which is not too formal), grocery store.

      Is it possible to have just one purse for everything/most of life, please? I hope so.

  18. Lauren

    How about: how to wear capris or ankle pants stylishly, without looking frumpy. What lengths are flattering to the leg? (you may have covered this before, but I’ve searched without success – so redirects welcome!)

  19. Annabeth

    Would be interested in seeing articles about:

    1) Tricks for working with extremely pale skin. I’m very, VERY fair – to the point where, when I go without makeup, total strangers ask if I’m not feeling well. I’ve adopted the strategy of playing up my paleness rather than hiding it, but would always be happy for more tips about that.

    2) Realistic tips for varying up your look in truly hot climates. You’ve done a similar sort of article, but adding short cardigans or scarves is just not a realistic suggestion for people like me. My town has about five months a year with temperatures AND humidity over 85. I do what I can varying up jewelry, sandals and purses but would value more thoughts.

    3) Information about retailers who specifically work with long-waisted women. I prefer dresses to any other form of clothing, but more and more manufacturers seem to have settled on a very short-waisted silhouette as “standard.” (For instance, ModCloth stuff almost never has a waist that’s more than halfway down my rib cage, and eShakti offers customization for every element of a dress except the waist measurement.) Knowing retailers who offer multiple good options for the long-waisted would be a boon.

    4) Reviews of fashion “rental” businesses. I used Rent the Runway for a big event a few months ago and was thrilled with the results. I’ve browsed a few other fashion lending sites, but they don’t all offer the extremely extensive reviews that RtR does. Would love to learn more about more options!

  20. jill

    Sally, I would love some advice on how to add a third color to an outfit. I just bought a turquoise and brown suit, and I love the colors together. But the jacket needs a cami or top under it, and I don’t know what color to add… and I’m thinking I would carry that color to shoes?

  21. jill

    By the way, it’s fun to read everyone else’s ideas. Thanks for doing this!

  22. Susan in Boston

    How about seven approaches to the same dress for different purposes–from throwing it on to run out for milk in the morning to wearing it to a nice occasion–using the same very limited set of accessories–say one scarf, one jacket or sweater, one item of jewelry, and one pair of shoes. And maybe a belt.

    This is sort of a packing for traveling problem, but I think it’s helpful to imagine the possibilities of a piece when funds are limited and you want to spend them on something that’s versatile.

    One more restriction: the dress can’t be black.

  23. Dona

    I’m curious about how to shop/what to shop for when you are trying to lose weight. I know people, sometimes, say to wait until you get closer to your goal weight, but I’m not patient. I wonder what are some good garments that you can wear when your weight is fluctuating, whether up or down.

    Thanks!
    Dona

  24. Stephanie

    I’d love some additional tips on putting together a travel wardrobe. I’m off to Paris with the family for 7 days soon. Also how to pack a cute outfit to change at the gym. I often shower and get ready for the rest of my day there.

  25. S

    I’d love some help with my current crisis – how to dress in early pregnancy. It’s too early to tell everyone, but I already have a noticeable bump. I’ve always been thin and don’t know much about dressing to disguise a tummy. As a paranoid first time/older mom, I want to keep my pregnancy on the down low until I’m sure everything is OK. After that I’m going full belly! Thanks so much for any guidance.

  26. Gerri

    I would love a post about why they don’t make dresses with sleeves anymore?? I am 50 and am ok with my shape but I do I have arm flab that I don’t like to display. It makes my upper half look heavy. Why can’t I find dresses with flattering sleeve lengths for summer (about midway to elbow)? I’m so tired of having to buy shrugs and jackets then coordinate them over all my dresses. I have a few dresses that fit great and are flattering but need different lengths/cuts/colors of shrugs and jackets. It’s discouraging. Do designers do this so we have to buy more clothes? We have hot humid summers so wearing my regular jackets doesn’t work. Any insights/advice about this would make me so happy!

  27. Kristin

    If you haven’t done one before, maybe a post about what aspects of clothing are typically considered “young”, which ones are “old” and which ones can be variable? Sometimes I get confused when someone identifies something that I like or a store that I frequent as “old lady” or “twee” when I don’t see it that way at all. Then it makes me wonder if I’m managing to inadvertently age myself or look childlike by my wardrobe choices.

  28. Christine

    I’d love to see some posts exploring regional differences in dressing. That would be fun and useful! Perhaps you could leverage your reader base to help fill in the details.

  29. J

    DO you have any ideas about how to keep cotton skirts and dresses from sticking to your legs and underthings ( I wear the jockey shorts -don’t know what material they are – when I wear skirts and dresses) and the static sprays don’t work and I am avoiding my dresses because anytime I wear them, they bunch between my legs when I walk! Not attractive! Thanks!

  30. Mollie

    Hi Sal,

    Thanks for opening up the box! I’ve been seeing lots of women wearing these patterned pajama like pants, e.g., http://www.espritshop.ch/damenmode/hosen/trend-sommerhosen/seidige-print-hose-063EE1B009_344

    I love the relaxed look but as someone with hips and thighs I’m not sure how to pull it off. I’d love some advice on this specific trend, and perhaps more generally how to wear relaxed, unstructured garments when one is not model thin. And to take it to another level of abstraction: what to do when the clothes/cuts that I find meet my figure flattery goals (for me fitted but not clingy) don’t match all the aesthetics I’d like to include (interesting structures, relaxed fits).

    Thanks so much!

  31. Passerina

    Hi Sally! I’d be interested in hearing more about your process of wardrobe cultivation. As someone with both a limited budget and a tiny, closet-less apartment, I often face difficult decisions about what to buy, sell, and/or give away. You’ve written about this a number of times, but I think it would be much more useful if you had examples, either from yourself, your clients, or interviews with fellow bloggers. How do you organize your closet? How do you develop an interesting sense of style when you have only a few pieces to work with? How do you stay out of a style rut?

  32. Hayley

    Hi Sally, I’d be interested in knowing if you’ve ever had any pair of shoes altered in any way, and if you have any tips. I’m considering getting a pair of leather boots taken in a bit at the top around the calf area.