tonia-measuringTonia Tagliaferro is an award-winning fashion stylist whose New York-based company, Art of Dressing, is dedicated to empowering women to become savvy and sophisticated about what to wear to fit their body style, weight and lifestyle. Among other things, she provides signature services as wardrobe consultation and evaluation, corporate speaking, closet auditing and organization, and personal shopping. We are proud to launch her new weekly blog, “ TONIA SAYS,” in which she will respond to a sampling of the many questions she will receive from readers. Straight forward answers and advice on body image, dressing do’s and don’ts and the things people really struggle with inside. She’s funny, self-aware and more open than you’d ever expect. She will answer those questions not published, to your e-mail address, so be sure to include it. Only your initials and the town in which you live will appear in the blog and no one, except Tonia, will see your URL. Please e-mail your question(s) directly to her at artofdressingllc@gmail.com.

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(Click on the “plus signs” below to see what Tonia says.)
Dear M.B.: Nothing makes you look more out of style than outfits that are too “matchy-matchy”. Unlike what you learned a long time ago, follow these simple new rules to update your look effortlessly: Don’t match your shoes and handbag; Try using nude shoes; wearing black in the summer is okay; mixing two different patterns looks fresh; black and navy work well together brown and black look great; Metallic is NOT just for evening; and costume jewelry is in so mix your bracelets and necklaces.
Dear C.L.: Funerals are respectful occasions and part of being respectful is dressing appropriately for the service. It is also important because it shows respect for the deceased and for the other loved ones attending the service. Age and position in the family should dictate a higher degree of dress. Wearing strictly black no longer applies unless you are a family member. Traditional colors like navy, purple, gray and earth tones work well. Although a person’s death should be grieved, it is appropriate to celebrate the person’s life with a subdued color. It is nice, too, to wear what the person who passed would have liked to see us in. Denim and athletic wear may be appropriate or comfortable for casual activities but should never be worn to a wake or a funeral. Shorts or sandals are never acceptable. Wear what is tasteful and conservative. A sexy dress, even in black, is not appropriate. The most important thing women should remember is not to wear anything too tight or low cut. Not only is it disrespectful, but it would also make you look trashy. You want to be remembered as being supportive for the family, not for what you wore. The rule for skirts and dresses is knee length or longer. Think basic, simple pencil skirt, trouser, or a suit you might wear to a job interview. It is acceptable to wear dress pants with a nice top, although wearing a jacket will pull the outfit together. Your shoulders should be covered for some churches. Keep your jewelry and accessories simple and to a minimum. Your shoes should be in a subdued color and not show your toes. Keep makeup understated.
Dear P.K. You bet! A few tips for sculpting and tweezing. While your eyebrows are the frame of your face, it’s important to create the shape that works best for you. There are basically three shapes that most brows fall into: a full arch; a subtler arc; or a straighter brow. Many brow experts will try to create an arch where you don’t naturally have one. Work with what you have and get the best shape that works for you. If you are not sure what your shape is because you have plucked and tweezed them so much, look at a picture of yourself from when you were young so you can remember your natural shape.

Dear Sarah,

Don’t try and find the time to put on a little make up, make the time to ready your self for the day. You don’t want to leave the house looking like you just rolled out of bed. It can take you less than five minutes to apply moisturizer, a little mascara, blush and lipstick. It will make you look and feel more confident. It will show the world that you care about how you look. You’re worth the time it takes. Make up does has a shelf life. Usually, you can tell when it’s time to get rid of it when it dries out or it smells bad. Mascara and Liquid Eye Liners usually last about 3 months. Liquid Face Makeup, Cream Eye Shadow, about 6 months. Powder Face Makeup, Powder Eye Shadows, Pencil Eye Liners, Lipstick, and Lip-gloss, about 2 years.
Hope this helps.

Think young. Be unpredictable. Don’t explain and don’t complain. Go for a natural look in beauty. Don’t wear your skirts too short. There’s nothing worst than looking like you’re trying too hard to look young. It will only age you. Choose solid colors like camel, red, gray, khaki and especially black and white. In fact, when in doubt, go for black and white. You can’t go wrong with a combination of elegance, modern and chic. Go for un-fussy chic, minimalist, functional designs and details. Zippers are far more youthful than aging gold buttons. Don’t get too thin and don’t gain too much weight! Don’t overdo the glitz! Drink lots of water and get a good night sleep. Maintain a good optimistic attitude, be grateful, and smile.

Low prices are typically the result of an end-of-season sale that the demand was less than expected, that the style is going out of fashion, or that it is damaged or ill fitting.
Never buy something just because you can’t resist the low price. Be sure you like it and more importantly, that it fits properly and flatters your figure. There are lots of ugly styles out there revealing the mistakes of designers. Manufacturers dump those styles and ill-fitting merchandise into discount and outlet stores, so be careful. Don’t be fooled by fancy labels. Trendy pieces on sale are usually an indication that the style is about to fade. Stick to classic pieces of good quality. Buy less but better quality. Retailers today are using the mark it up to mark it down game. Have a general idea of what the item is really worth by comparing items in stores or on line.
Check the return policy. Too often, I weed out my client’s closets and find numerous items with tags still hanging that are no longer returnable. Try things on at the store or return what is not working right away. Why have hundreds of dollars in sale merchandise that doesn’t suit you. Less is more. Your guidelines are good judgment and taste. Happy hunting.

Dear R.S. Wearing the right outfit for an outdoor wedding, beach, garden, or intimate back yard setting is key to keeping cool and looking great. Whether it’s a garden wedding or beach wedding, don’t assume it requires a more casual dress. Think casual chic, wearing something feminine and classy. For smaller intimate occasions always go for understated and elegant. For a formal look, you can never go wrong with a little black dress and jewel accessories, like great chandelier earrings, but don’t over do it.
Keeping your make up and jewelry light will keep you from melting in the heat. Wearing a wedge will keep you from sinking in the grass.

T.R. Scarsdale, N.Y. People, especially men, assume who you are by the way you dress and will treat you accordingly. The first rule is choosing the appropriate outfit for the occasion. Find out where you are going and get a feel for how other women would usually dress in that environment. Don’t copy them, just get an idea of what you might see, then choose clothing that reveals your true or desired persona.
Don’t show too much skin. Less is always more. There’s a fine line between classy and trashy. You will look sexier in a classy outfit rather than a trashy one and you will be sending the right message. Your goal is to attract men but not encourage a sexual invitation. Men are driven by their hormones and only need to see a little bare skin to feel motivated. Showing your bare legs, neck and ears will signal your availability but won’t invite a sexual attack. Revealing too much will attract a lot of men, but the wrong men. Remember you are just looking to attract the right man. You only want to allure and arouse his curiosity or interest. Men are hunters and are wired to enjoy challenges. If you are trying to attract a man, always dress feminine and never wear deep red or burgundy. Using red in your accessories is okay. It looks sexy but not intimidating. Strong colors will not make you look unapproachable and will scare him away. Shades of pink are very inviting to a man and work for many completions. Be your self, dress comfortably and focus on having a great time.

T.R. Scarsdale, N.Y. I happen to agree with your mom. Flip-flops carry lots of germs and don’t support your feet, especially as they wear out and form to the shape of your feet. The University of Miami emergency mobile flip-flop lab tested some footwear and found that there were more than 18,000 bacteria on just one pair of flip-flops. Even more shocking than the number of germs were the type represented — bacteria from fecal matter, skin and respiratory germs. One pair of 6-year-old flip-flops had germs that cause yeast infection and diaper rash. Germs can be especially problematic if you have an open cut or blister on your foot, or if you handle your flip-flops a lot with your hands. A subway station’s public restroom can harbor about 13,900 different bacteria. Avoid touching your flip-flops and your unwashed feet as much as possible. Consider reserving those flip-flops as part of your beach or poolside attire only. Remember to always wash your hands after touching them.
Dear V.L. Never. You didn’t start with gray hair and don’t have to end with gray hair. You’re worth the time and money it takes to look your best and to feel good about yourself. By age 50, half of the population has lost the color in 50% of their hair. Going gray will add ten years to your look. Men and women, who look stunning, or debonair with gray hair, have grayed very early and are fortunate to have beautiful silvery, shiny gray hair. As we age, our skin loses pigment so our hair has to compensate to compliment our skin tone and facial features. It’s important to add color to hair, brows, cheeks, and lips. However, be sure to keep in subtle. There’s nothing more aging than hair that is too dark, especially shoe polish black. Doing it in stages will conceal the tell tale sign of coloring and it will also allow you to go longer between touch ups. If you are a brunette, lighten your base color one shade and if you are blonde, go one shade darker. Salt-and-pepper can look great but still requires maintenance. Try using a shampoo with a violet hue that reduces the yellow tint often found in the mix. Color will also add dimension and make your hair look thicker. Be good to yourself and make the time to look and feel your best.
Dear B.R. I understand your frustration as I have witnessed the same in both men and women, typically with younger people. I have to blame college students who started this trend. Apparently, they would rather look stupid than take that extra two minutes to find pants and a shirt. Pajamas are not clothes for wearing outside unless you are getting your newspaper from the front walk. The only statement wearing PJ’s in public makes, is that you are lazy and don’t care enough about yourself to make the effort to at least throw on a pair of jeans and a tee shirt. So America, get dressed and the PJ’s home. Have some dignity!
Dear T.S. Following a woman can definitely give her the creeps so it’s best to try and establish eye contact in the store rather than follow her in a parking lot. Once you make eye contact, smile and see if she returns the smile. If she doesn’t, it may not be a good sign. Find an opportunity to speak to her to see if she has interest. Compliment her and see how she responds. If it’s favorable then ask a question rather than make a statement. For example, rather than say, “What a beautiful day”, say, “Beautiful day isn’t it”. Or, “do you shop here often”. If she answers your question with another question, then she’s interested in engaging in a conversation, if not, move on buddy. There are plenty of other beautiful fish in the sea.

Treat your pinstripe pant like you would a solid gray pant. While todays look is mixing textures and prints, don’t over the print. Choose a simple print. Solids look great as well, like red, purple, pink, and burgundy, black, or navy for the Fall. If you go with a print top, keep your accessories at a minimal and let it be all about the top. If you pair it with a solid colored top, add more accessories or a print scarf that ties in the gray and the color you are using. A pinstripe pant also looks great with a crisp white linen shirt. Add a silver necklace and earrings. Change it up and wear a white tank top with a colored jacket. If you go with a black, white, or gray top, add color to you shoes or handbag.

Dear M.S.

There is nothing worse than a 45-year-old shopping in the junior department. Junior clothing is meant for juniors with junior bodies. Wearing junior styles will tend to make you look like an older woman who is trying too hard. Belly shirts, tight skirts, and cheap clothes look trashy. On the flip side, wearing things that are too big, ill fitting, or too basic will tend to make you look older. It is very challenging to find a middle ground. Find some great basic pants, skirts, and tops and jackets with a twist that scream quality and fit well. Then add a little punch by adding color or texture. Let your personality come through. If you’re not sure what look you’re after, find a look you like on a celebrity or someone you admire and emulate it.

Dear L.W.

While genetically your body shape will stay the same, no matter what size you wear or how old you are, there are better alternatives. Embrace and accept what you look like and dress in a way that flatters your figure. Hiding behind your clothing is never the answer. Wearing things that are too long will only accent the width of your hips. The key is to find a pair of pants or jeans that fit well. Don’t let size matter. Sometimes a larger size can make you look smaller. Pants that are too tight or too low in the rise will create a muffin top and will limit the tops you can wear. Be sure the width of the pant is not too narrow or it will make your bottom look larger in comparison. Satisfy your two trouble areas first and wear a belt if the waist is big. Try on a shorter top that is not too tight and let it hit you at about the hipbone. With a good fitting pant, you can even tuck in your shirt, wear a belt, and tie in a shorter cardigan that cascades in the front but is shorter in the back.

Dear J.B.
To begin the transition, go out with just one other friend, rather than a group of guys, as you will be more approachable and taken more seriously about looking for that someone special. Be sure your tee shirt is crisp and clean and free of any graphics, especially beer or bar logos. Your jeans should not be too long and should fit you properly. Wear nice shoes for evening, or clean nice sneakers for afternoon. Boating shoes are also acceptable. If the weather permits, wear a linen blazer perhaps black, over a crisp white tee shirt. Be sure you are clean-shaven and groomed. Looking like you make the effort into how you look, tells the world you care about yourself. Don’t overdue the jewelry or cologne. Be sure your haircut that represents who you are. Be kind, be gentle and be patient. And more importantly, be yourself. Don’t try to hard. The “girl next door” is looking for a guy who is “real”. Ask the universe to bring you the girl of your dreams. Then when it feels right, go for it. Good luck.

Dear R.S.
Don’t worry about what He should wear. Think about what you are going to be wearing. Create the mood you are seeking in the message you are sending in your dress. Remember that beauty is a presence of mind, a strong body and a glow from the inside. Try to recall what attracted him initially. If you’re so worried about what He should be wearing, then you are already too controlling. That is definitely not what attracted him to you on the onset. Be alluring, flirt with him, laugh at his jokes, and allow him be the man and I guarantee you will have a great time.

Dear T.G.
Summer is a great time to wear dresses. Both long and short are in style. Maxi dresses are great so long as they are not too big. Choose a more slender flattering style. Short dresses are fun and flirty. Flats work with both lengths but heels, will naturally sway your hips and lend to a sexier look. If you are under 25, more fitted styles will look racy with heels but if you’re over 40, be careful you don’t want to come across looking trashy. The middle ground between a short and long dress is a ¾ length, which will make your legs look curvy. Show your ankles and at least half of your calf.