Separates still work in the business world


Since I graduated from business school eight years ago I have bought separates, each one carefully planned to coordinate with the others in my wardrobe.

Now I see many magazines featuring dress after dress, and I feel I will be completely out of fashion unless I buy one.

I recently quit my job and am constantly going on interviews, so I want to look as up to the minute as possible.

My boyfriend, who is a financial analyst, tells me I shouldn't be splurging and that a conservative suit is the only way to go for an interview.

What do you think, and what sort of dress should I buy?

This is one of those rare times when you can have your cake and eat it too.

Dresses today are as versatile as separates. Designers keep women like you in mind when they create them.

You'll find many that can be worn with a jacket, just as you do with a top and pants or skirt. The look is as conservative as you need.

Choose a dress with a narrow fit in a soft fabric.

A neutral color is best because neutrals spell longevity and versatility.

I am 6 feet tall and my boyfriend is five inches shorter (with his shoes on). He gets embarrassed standing next to me when I wear heels and wants me only in flats.

I am about to give in, but first would like to know if high heels are still as fashionable as they were last fall.

Also, when will flats come back in style?

For answers, I went to Joan Helpern of the New York company Joan & David.

She is a designer who believes that, while women should keep their eye on fashion, personal style comes first.

"Flat is back already," she points out. "You'll find plenty of flats in the collections for both summer and fall."

Helpern suggests you look for "the scooped pump, the TTC snipped-toe ballerina, the soft moccasin, the fresh, easy tie on a crepe sole and driving shoes.

"Driving shoes are newer than ever in patents and metallics such as bronze," she says. "Texture is also important, especially in natural finishes -- pythons, lizards and crocodiles."

She adds that once you decide to wear only flats check the lengths of your skirts and pants, as they may well be too long.

"The right proportion is essential. It will make your outfits snappy."

Elsa Klensch is style editor for Cable News Network. She 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, 218 S. Spring St., Los Angeles CA 90012. Or she can be reached on the Internet at

Pub Date: 5/28/98

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