Suggestion Box

Although I am ALWAYS open to reader suggestions, itโ€™s been a long time since I opened up the box, here. I wanted to make sure that every last one of your requests from the last suggestion box got addressed. And by now they either have been addressed, will be addressed in the coming weeks, or have been addressed in the comments of the previous SB post. Whew!

So. Any suggestions for advice-y, how-to, tutorial type things youโ€™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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  • Sarah Heath

    I would love to see how to accessorize the business casual “uniform.” Usually chino style pants (khakis here in the south) and a button front blouse or some form of the same (plain skirt and polyester jersey type of blouse). Specifically jewelry and shoes to tie your outfit all together.

  • Suze in CO

    The whole issue of athleticism and femininity has been discussed here before, but I’d like to see some specific tips/suggestions for how to use some of the traditional “froufy details” (lace, beading, embroidery, fluttery fabrics, etc.) on an athletic body without looking ridiculous.

    Lace is my weakness, with delicate beading a close second. But, more often than not, I feel silly wearing it because a lot of items that use these details are very much geared toward a smaller, slimmer body type that I just don’t own.

  • LK

    How about “How Not To Give Into Pajamas While In School”? Ways for college and grad students to stay stylish even with their busy schedule and tiny budget. This way everyone doesn’t end up just wearing their PJs to class! Comfy, affordable, but stylish.

  • Lynn

    How about how to find less expensive, quality clothes for those of us whose thirft stores do not have nice clothes? I admire all the bloggers who thrift successfully, but my small, southern college town stores have polyester, tired tank tops and children’s clothes. Some tips on shopping e-bay, on-line sales, etc. would be helpful.

  • Hi Sally! I really look forward to your post on boot height, which I understand is in the works. In general, I’m curious about anything you might say regarding proportion: how boots interact with skirts / dresses vs. pants, as well as waist definition and hemlines of tops / tunics / jackets. More specifically, in your Reader Request post on July 26, you mentioned learning about too-tall boots and your lower body proportions. I would love to know more about that, with pictures. Thank you!

  • Brigitte

    I always recommend tailoring for ill fitting clothes, but many of my friends find it hard to imagine the difference tailoring could make to fit, and why it would be worth the expense. I think it could be interesting to do a post (with pictures) of typical fit issues and how a tailor (or a friend with a sewing machine!) could help improve it.

    • Beth

      Second!

      • Molly

        I’d like to hear about this one too! I suspect that I often assume many fixable problems are never going to look right, even with a professional’s help, but that’s probably not the case.

  • Kate K

    I am at that age where everyone I know is getting married and so thus, I go to about four or five (or six or seven!) weddings a year. I have no problem dressing myself in every other arena of my life but when it comes to weddings, I’m stumped. I have no idea what fabrics are appropriately dressy enough or if I need take time of the wedding into consideration, and I always look back on what I wore and wish I’d worn something else. I’d love some tips on wedding wear!

  • Lara

    Is there a non-black alternative to the LBD? Black on my upper body depresses me, and I don’t like color blocking either. Then the modesty issue, sleeves and at least below the knee, please. So many beautiful LBD, but not for me. Any suggestions would be most helpful. I would like to second the request from Lynn re affordable quality. I live in a rural, struggling area, thrift stores here never have the sorts of things I see blogged about. Thanks!

  • Jenn

    I would love some tips and ideas for transitioning into wearing business casual and more heels/pumps/dressier shoes.

    I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for 2 decades – and most of my “dressing up” has been for church or military functions. On a daily basis, I normally wear casual clothes – because doing errands, cleaning, volunteering, and taking care of my children (6!) requires casual (but no pj’s or yoga pants allowed – my rule).

    However, I am starting my master’s in education and will be student teaching and teaching for real soon – all which require business casual every day! How do I make the transition without feeling overdressed? Especially in the southwest, where super casual is the norm (seriously – people wear shorts to the opera and theater here!)? I love to wear heels/pump, but I always feel overdressed…

  • Sally, you’re amazing at color pairings. A post about what accessories (shoes, jewelry, bag) to wear with a navy dress (solid navy, so no pattern mixing to give a hint!)?

    • Velda Hunter

      A post about finding trendy fashionable dressy shoes for women who have narrow feet? What choices are there for women who wear long narrow sizes (10 AA) other than loafers and comfort shoes? Where does one find heels one would wear on a fancy date or girls night out to a club?etc… It is easier to find narrow sized trendy shoes shorter than size 9.5 on specialty sites like 6 pm, Zappos, and Shoebuy, but longer sizes tend to have an over abundance of matronly comfort styles. Also, insoles and padding usually lack comfort and are not adequate enough to help a narrow foot feel good in a medium width shoe.

  • Ali G

    A section on how to know when guys clothes fit properly would be great! I loved the post your husband did on thoughtful, supportive ways to talk to a guy in your life about improving his style, but I would also love some help knowing when things fit fantastically, some good bargain finding tips for men’s clothes, and some nice details to look for in men’s clothes, as this is completely new territory for me. Thanks!!

    • Sal

      I’ll get him on it!

    • Molly

      Sounds good. A post (or link) to figure-flattering men’s clothes would be awesome. How does one minimize love handles or a beer belly? I know how I’d do it on a woman, but I’m not sure what to recommend for a guy.

  • Heather

    -I’d love to see some suggestions for keeping clothes neat while you are wearing them (like keeping pants waistbands from rolling and getting ugly, chinos from getting all wrinkly and ugly, etc)

    -Ways for us big chested girls to hide our bras in the summer without having to wear matronly tanks- we love cute little sundresses too!

    -As always, the hunt for inexpensive, wide calf boots.

    -Ways to wear flats with fancy dresses.

    -What I need right now- a big (ie a water bottle and an ipad) canvas crossbody purse with LOTS of exterior pockets. Haven’t found the perfect one yet!

    -Stylish sun protection. (that doesn’t make you hotter!)

    -Working in trendy items from the previous season.

    -Recommendations of good affordable tailors and shoe repair places in the Twin Cities.

    -Strategies for dealing with temporary sudden body changes- swollen feet due to the heat wave, what to wear when you’ve sunburnt your back, oops ate too much salt and my pants don’t fit, lunch baby, etc…

    • Gisele

      These are brilliant suggestions! Styling previous season trendy items is especially good. And I never heard of “lunch baby” before but I LOVE it.

    • Sal

      Wow. This is a lot! Here are some posts that answer a few questions:

      Covered-up warm weather looks: http://www.alreadypretty.com/2011/05/covered-up-warm-weather-looks.html

      Crossbody bags: http://www.alreadypretty.com/2012/06/insomniac-sale-picks-large-leather-crossbody-bags.html (see end for other recommendations, since you’re looking for canvas)

      The best tailors and repair people in the TC aren’t cheap. I don’t think you can get both. Tom’s in St. Paul is the best tailor I’ve ever found. The gal who does alterations through Blacklist Vintage is cheap, but I wouldn’t take super complex jobs to her. Fast Eddie’s is fine for easy shoe repairs. I’m working with George’s in St. Paul (next to Tom’s) on more complex repairs now, and hear nothing but glowing reviews of their work.

      I’ll tackle the others eventually!

  • Cee

    It would be wonderful if you could address issues about dressing ‘unusual’ combinations. For example, broad shoulders and a small bust, or a larger tummy and a flat bottom. I think often styling advice is based on the presumption that if you have one feature, it will be paired with another. Of course, we all know we carry our breadth, length and weight in lots of different ways. (Sorry if this is too specific!)

  • may

    Not sure if you have done this already, but perhaps some rules or guidelines about age appropriate clothing and/or style. As I am now in the latter part of my 30s, with more discretionary income, I am spending more money on quality clothing pieces. I love some of the trends and styles now like skinny jeans – I’m fortunate I can wear them confidently; however, I am sometimes second guessing whether I will perceived as trying to look too young. I am quite petite so sometimes that is something petite women often do, wear clothing from the junior department per se, and rather than making it look classy and pulled off, it looks like they are trying to be a 20-something year old when clearly they are not.

  • I notice that any time I try to ‘pin’ one of your posts, none are pin-worthy b/c there is no picture associated with them.

    is there something wrong on my end?

    • Sal

      Hmmm, I’m able to pin my own posts and photos just fine … anyone else having this issue?

  • Wynne

    Hi Sally,

    I’d be very interested in hearing your take on Elizabeth Cline’s book “Overdressed,” in which she talks about:

    – the ethics and environmental impact of fast fashion – not just H&M and Forever 21, but also Gap, Old Navy, most department store brands.
    – supporting local designers. I live in a city that has some local folks, so if I am wise about money, I can afford to spend more to get a locally-made outfit. I wonder about how to encourage this in people who don’t live near designers. (I should clarify, I live in a small Midwestern city, so finding these people has been a combination of good luck and diligence.)
    – the overall decline in quality in everything but the highest-fashion brands.
    – the lost art of making, tailoring, and mending our own clothes

    I guess each of those could be a topic in and of itself, too ๐Ÿ™‚

    Keep up the great, inspiring work!

    Wynne

    • Theresa

      I second Wynne’s choice. I love clothes, but am conflicted by just those issues that Wynne has already mentioned.

      • Thirded – I haven’t yet read “Overdressed”, but I’d be really interested in a post on the ethics of fashion (both in terms of humanitarian conditions of workers, e.g. http://www.labourbehindthelabel.org/ and in terms of cost to the planet). I think things are starting to move in the right direction, with more awareness of these issues, but there’s still a long way to go before we can be confident that the clothing we buy is cruelty-free and planet-friendly.

        I’d also be really curious about the history of garment production (although I’m afraid I can’t recommend any sources, maybe other readers can?) – presumably once upon a time most clothing was made in the country it was sold in, or at least a neighbouring country. I wonder when garment manufacturing became a globalised thing?

    • Emily

      I would love to see this as well!

  • Would love to hear how you go about searching for specific items (clothes, shoes, accessories, etc) on the web. For example, how do you search for your insomniac sales picks? Do you search at specific stores or do you use a general search engine site? Any tips on how to find new online stores that fit someone’s particular tastes and budget? Would love a post devoted to learning online search skills!

  • Danielle

    As someone in possession of a rather dramatic hourglass figure, I struggle to find clothing that fits my generous bust (32H/34G) and relatively small waist (29-30 in). I prefer more fitted, tailored looks but I either have to purchase clothes 2-3 sizes too big in order for them to fit my bust or simply settle for loose, baggy clothes that do not flatter my figure. My sewing skills are up to basic alterations, but nothing more. I am a college student with a very limited clothing budget, so I usually can’t afford custom clothes or more expensive alterations. As a result, I typically end up in jeans and an ill-fitting t shirt. I want to dress more formally for class out of respect for my professors (and my lovely body). Where do I start?

    On an related note, I am considering investing in a custom wool coat for winter but I have no idea how to go about it. Any advice?

    I second Wynne’s inquiry about your take on Elizabeth Cline’s Overdressed! It was a fascinating read.

  • Barb Ballenger

    I’d love your thoughts on bicycle chic. I ride my bike to work each day and would rather ride dressed for work than dressed like a professional cyclist. There’s lots to consider when choosing bikeable clothes that look great and can get me from errand to errand or from work to cross-campus meetings. I wonder what others do and would love to see the community discuss the role clothing, hair care and makeup play in using our bodies to get us where we need to go — whether walking or riding.

  • LG

    No suggestions here, because you always come up with things I wanted to know about but didn’t know I wanted to know about until your wrote about them. :0)

    For instance, I am still thinking about the “shoe vamp” post you did a few weeks ago. It was of such great help!

    • Sal

      Thank you, LG! How sweet of you!

  • Jane

    Sun-protection clothing options other than big floppy hats.

    Concert tee’s. How to wear my beloved old classic band/concert tee’s with something other than jeans.

  • Elizabeth

    I would love to see business casual done right for a new mom. That means hard working clothes that can stand up baby spit-up, while still being stylish at work. Of course, expense is a big one here as well as most moms will forgo new clothes for their little ones. Thrifting is extremely hard as there is little time for it!

  • Christy

    I’d also like to hear more about boots! And I have a maybe-sorta too specific request, but I’m really struggling here.

    I just moved to Seattle and I’m trying to find my first pair of boots (ever!) in anticipation of fall weather. But I’m super short, and have skinny legs, and for the life of me I can’t find any simple, flat boots w/ a narrow calf. I’ve ordered like fifteen pairs from Zappos and had to send them all back because they hit my knee and it looked like I was swimming in them. Even though I don’t know much about boots, I’m pretty sure that’s not cute. ๐Ÿ™‚

    So I guess I’d like to learn as much as possible about boots — how to style them, where exactly tall boots should hit on the leg (an inch below the knee? two inches?), and resources for finding oddly-sized boots. Thanks!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi Christy, have you checked out DUO Boots? I haven’t tried them personally, but I understand you can configure every feature: size, width, length, color, heel. http://www.duoboots.com
      Good luck!

  • Sofia

    If you haven’t coverd it already, I’d love to read a post on different sleeve styles, lenghts, shapes…

    • Sal

      In the hopper right now!

  • Natalie

    I love the site. I have seen you cover this a little but, but I would love to see some more ideas on where to get QUALITY accessories. I love the leather belts and scarves you feature, but I never find them at thrift stores, and they cost a fortune at department stores. I would love to see some of your strategies on when and where to shop for them.

  • Emmy

    I’d love a post on getting back to loving clothes (or just the link to a post if you’ve already got one!). I used to spend hours planning out my outfits and trying new combinations, but I’m so busy these days that I resort only to throwing on what’s worked in the past. The worst part is, I’m only 22. Full time school and having three jobs is bad for my wardrobe health.

  • I would love to see more on Fair trade and USA made resources for clothing, Particularly for men.

  • Brenda Marks

    Similar to the wedding question: I’d like some thoughts on day versus going out to dinner clothes. I wear dresses and jackets/blazers to work, and they seem dressy enough to wear out to dinner. I’d like to pick up some ideas for adding a little “wow” so that my dinner outfits still feel like me, but they also feel a little special. P.S. In the Portland, Oregon area, so many people wear jeans to everything and tank tops are common in the summer, even at fancier places. I need to blend in a little, too!

  • auzzi

    I am not sure if this has been covered but my fashion dilemma is that I am a style schizophrenic: I like the idea of having a distinct style/aesthetic and having all my clothes and accessories share this style (similar to your post on style aesthetics) but my problem is I can’t choose just one style! Somedays I like the preppy look of button downs and rugby stripes, other days I feel like wearing the 1970s boho-Woodstock look, other times I want to emulate the minimalist all black Parisian-chic look…. and there are other looks that I love. The problem is that this schizophrenia is not cost-effective or time-effective: I buy clothes from different style aesthetics but they don’t necessarily go together (or I don’t know how to make them work together). At the same time, I wonder if I would get bored if I dressed with the same style every day, and if this approach would not reflect who I am. Still yet, I would like to look grown-up and feel put together, and having a distinct style I feel is one way of accomplishing this. What do I do??? I feel like I have a fashion sickness and I need to be cured!

  • This might sound really elementary, but could you do a post on how to match a neckline with a necklace? For example, which necklines look best with chokers, which with multi-strands, or which necklaces are best for v-neck shirts, which for button-downs. Necklaces are my favorite accessory, and I have a decent collection of ones I love, but pairing them with necklines always makes me unsure and confused.

  • Erin

    How about chic tech accessories for work? For school? ie. How to pick the appropriate laptop bag for what situation/outfit? I’m having a hard time picking 1 bag that does it all, or tend to just pick black as a default. Do I buy a huge bag for toting everything + laptop to work? 2 bags? Do I buy a casual laptop bag for weekends? How do you choose these things? I have a 17″ Macbook.

  • Dee

    I have a topic idea that I think might elicit some interesting and possible funny stories: Have you ever WORN a fashion trend before it was known to be the lastest trend in your city or town? If so how did you feel? Did you feel really trendy or did you feel odd when you realized no one thought you were in style? This didn’t happen to me but a few years ago I did see someone wearing what I thought was an odd style and thought “maybe that is the style in NY or CA and it hasn’t made it here yet”…sure enough that was the case!

  • SamiJ

    How to minimize a big belly with accessories. I love the way your belts look. But can I ever wear one? How wide should it be? I don’t have much of a waist, so what types of waistlines/belts can I wear?

  • Olga

    I love your blog, and I enjoy every post you choose to write!

    I would love to see a post about a client makeover with before and after photos. I know that you offer style consultations, and it would be interesting to see the process and the results. Perhaps you have a clientwho agrees to be featured on your blog?

    • Sal

      I’ll ask, Olga! It’s a pretty private process for many, but I think I have a couple of clients who might be willing to share.

  • Keilexandra

    I’d love to see a post on how to “balance” foot size, both small and large. Especially small! At 5’2.5″ and 120 lbs, I feel like my size 5 feet are disproportionately small. This is especially apparent when I wear heels or high-vamp shoes (e.g. oxfords, TOMS), and even more so now that I am finally spending money on good-quality shoes in my size rather than a size too large. Wearing shoes that fit is much more comfortable, but it also makes my feet look smaller… and unlike most women, I think my feet are already small enough!

  • Sarah V

    I would love to get your take on what to wear for a long flight. I want to look nice but be comfortable and not get too hot.

  • MJ

    I’d love suggestions for blogs for teenage girls. I have a soon to be 13YO who is very clothes conscious & I’m looking for blogs that will help spark her creativity in an age appropriate way.

  • Angela

    Sorry that I’m late to the game, but I’d love another post about your shopping budget/habits – it’s been a long, long time since the last one and I think it’s something a lot of women would find interesting/relevant.

  • Molly

    I’d be interested in a post on what clothing problems are “fixable” and what isn’t, especially when thrifting. Sometimes I’ll bring home a shirt that is too tight in the arms, thinking I’ll make them into flutter sleeves or something, but then I have no idea where to begin. Being a crafty person with too little time, I often hang onto clothes that I might be able to do something with someday, and then of course they never see the light of day again. So please, give me some sense on what is TOO much work to fix something. Replacing all the buttons? Removing or covering up a stain on an otherwise beautiful garment? Hemming some pants or a skirt? Taking in a waist? Changing the style of sleeves that are the wrong length or width? Replacing a zipper? Sewing some pockets shut? What’s easy to DIY, what’s cheap to have someone else do for you, and which problems are best left on the rack?