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Take the outfit with you when you shop for the belt


Q: I saw a photo of a striped sweater worn with a floral skirt in a magazine. I have duplicated the look at a price level I can afford. But, unlike the model, I need a belt to pull the look together on my not-so-slim figure.

The main colors of the outfit are green, blue and a bright pink. What color belt should I buy?

A: The only way to choose the right one is to take the sweater and skirt to the belt department of a store and try different colors against them. Don't be shy about experimenting.

Often the color that looks best is not present in the outfit you'll wear it with. If you get desperate about the choice, try white. White belts are one of the big fashion statements for spring and summer. If you're not sure about the width, slip into a fitting room and try the outfit on.

Remember that favorite saying of fashion editors: "You can never be sure it's right until you are wearing it."

Q: One of my favorite ways of entertaining is a Sunday brunch. As a working woman I find it easy and relaxing. The dressing is usually casual. I put on a caftan or loose pants and a sweater, hTC and I tell my friends not to dress up, to wear jeans if they like.

But last month my husband asked me to have a brunch for his boss and wife. I went to more trouble than usual, and when it came to dressing I decided to wear one of my workday suits. As the brunch was for business I felt more professional and comfortable in it.

My best friend says, however, that I changed the mood of the party by wearing a suit, making it stiff and formal. She says it's my home and I should do what I always do, no matter who comes to the party. What do you think?

Q: I turned to New York designer Jennifer George for advice for you. She's a wife, mother and great hostess as well as a businesswoman.

She agrees with your friend. "A business suit is just too stiff for a casual event like a brunch in your own home."

She suggested these alternatives:

"I like the idea of three-piece dressing to maintain formality, but only in soft materials. For example, a silk georgette suit -- jacket, T-shirt and easy skirt -- that is very feminine but still looks tailored.

"Another option might be a T-shirt with loose, comfortable pants that have a softly tailored look. I also like the look of a great white shirt over narrow pants or trousers."

What you should not wear is a caftan. It's more appropriate for the beach or for casual evenings.

Elsa Klensch welcomes questions from readers. While she cannot reply individually, she will answer those of general interest in her column. Send questions to Elsa Klensch, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Times-Mirror Square, Los Angeles, Calif. 90053.

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