Ask Gretta: Black Tie Weddings and Self-Help Books

Our style savvy source Gretta Monahan answers your fashion inquiries!

I have to go to a black tie wedding with some very high-society people in November. I'm 20 years old and I don't know what to wear. I don't want to look old and I don't want to look like I'm going to prom either. What do I do?! -Kyndra

Hi Kyndra, The good news is: black tie means it's impossible to be overdressed! Since you're young, that leaves a lot of options at your disposal. I agree — steer clear of anything prom-like, so no full length gowns or crinoline petticoats! An above the knee dress is a good way to go, it's youthful but can also be quite sophisticated depending on the cut and color you decide to go with, not to mention your choice of accessories! If you're not trying to make a statement, the darker the color, the more conservative and traditional your look will be. It's always a safe bet to use jewelry and a great shoe to jazz up a little black dress; you'll feel out of place among the stylish, high society set.

Happy Shopping! XOXO-Gretta

After 28 years as a staff hospital registered nurse, now retired, with time to wear nice things, I find I have 2 large walk-in closets packed with clothes that I can't mix and match together. Any self-help books coming out soon to help women like me who needs the extra push to dress nicely? -Pat

Hi Pat, Now that you have the time to go through and re-analyze your wardrobe, I think you'll find what you already own can be more versatile that you initially thought. Sometimes all that it requires is a new pair of eyes, so invite a friend over and go through your clothes over a bottle of wine. Eliminating what absolutely will never work will help to unearth old treasures that have gotten lost in your closet's clutter. In terms of self-help books, though, I would recommend reading both Tim's book, A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style, as well as InStyle magazine's Instant Style. I think both books give a good overview of what you need to be doing and how to get the look you want.Have fun!

XOXO-Gretta

As a plus-sized woman, it's incredibly difficult for me to navigate the fashion world. I'm 25, but it seems like my choices are either to dress like a teenager or like an old woman! So, I have two questions - are there any good shops for a young woman with curves, and what sort of silhouettes should I be looking for? -Nikki

Hi Nikki, My favorite stop for a girl with curves is this fun website, www.kiyonna.com. They put together some great looks and even if you don't end up ordering, I think it's a perfect place to get ideas as to what sorts of things to look for at department and specialty stores. Without knowing your body type, the trick to a stylish look is always quite simple: highlight your best features and conceal your worst. If you're bottom heavy, try to steer clear of pants and find a-line skirts and dresses that will highlight your waist and de-emphasize your hips and thighs. If you're top heavy, look for tops that have asymmetric lines (like wrap tops) which help to minimize your bust. I don't think size means you have to sacrifice style; there are plenty of looks that look terrible on a size 4, just as there are plenty of looks that look terrible on a size 14. It's about finding that balance and knowing what will work on your body! Get some ideas and hit the fitting rooms!

XOX-Gretta

Hi Gretta, I am a huge fan of the show, and just love you and Tim. I have a fashion question. I'm 37 years old and a recent breast cancer survivor. Because of my surgeries and treatment, I have many scars (some of which are visible when wearing certain shirts). I feel like I'm relegated to wearing turtlenecks and round collar shirts only. When I have any other type of neckline on, I feel as if I get the "I'm so sorry for you" stares. Any suggestions on tops or necklines that would allow me to feel youthful and fashionable while still concealing my scars? -Stacey

Stacey, While you're still recovering and healing, I think that concealing your scars will help you to have confidence in your body and feel less conspicuous among those who know what you've been through. That said, I think there are a variety of tops out there that will help get you past feeling trapped in a turtleneck for the time being. Feminine blouses are a good alternative for you — in fabrics like silk and chiffon, and with details like pin tucking and bows, there are some really beautiful ways to wear a button-up shirt. I would also look for modest scoop necklines — they're not quite a "crew," high at your neck, and not a "v," but a nice in-between that will highlight the femininity of your collar bone. Loose turtlenecks that are modest "cowl necks" (not dropping too low) are another variation to look for. My best tip is the scarf! Scarves are huge right now — both summer and winter weights, and that's a look you can use to conceal your scars if you did want to rock a v-neck.

Congratulations and best of luck!

XOXO-Gretta

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