Q: Nail polish colors are an easy and ageless accessory, plus a great way to be "on trend." Do you have some seasonal tips for fingers and toes?
A: Absolutely. During winter's long stretch of cold weather and dark days, most people opt for dark, cool nail colors to reflect the season. True black polish is edgy but may feel a bit too goth for some. Dark grays with blue undertones and subtly sparkly gunmetals offer versatile alternatives.
Pantone recently announced that Marsala is 2015's color of the year. This rich, dusty burgundy is a perfect choice for winter nails. If you want something lighter and brighter, metallics and glitter polishes are tons of fun. Gold nails are particularly trendy this season.
Q: What is resort wear? Is it a peek at the spring fashions, a look at what's to come? Resort wear always seems over-the-top and ultraexpensive. Even though I travel in January and February, I rarely go somewhere warm and tropical. Should I pay more attention to resort wear?
A: Resort is shown on the runways before spring ready-to-wear, and typically hits the racks in January. The primary market is wealthy folks heading to warm climates for winter vacations, which explains the high prices. The timing is based on the assumption that these folks are so fashion-forward that they completed their winter wardrobe shopping back in late summer and early fall. Now they're ready for some sun and fun, and need new clothes so they can tan in style.
For decades, resort options were created by higher-end retailers, but not by high-fashion designers. Lilly Pulitzer is a classic example, and J. Crew would often crank out a few options. But starting in the 1980s, Dior, Gucci and the like began showing collections. Now there's an entire season of runway shows built around resort. You'll notice that "resort" and "cruise" items show up at some midmarket retailers, too. Stores have discovered that presenting new collections more frequently creates more sales, so they've added imaginary seasons such as "pre-fall" and "resort" to their design calendars.
If you're not a snowbird yourself, this collection may not appeal. Some of it will seep through to mall stores, so you can't avoid it entirely, and it does offer a hint at the spring offerings and trends. But if you don't plan to jet off to the Amalfi Coast anytime soon, you can tune out all resort-related hubbub.
Q: Soft, drapey pants and fancy sweatpants are everywhere this season. How can I style them for winter wear?
A: A fine question, and quite a tricky one. We'll work from the ground up.
Most drapey pants are slightly cropped and look best worn with pumps or other low-vamp, heeled shoes. Other footwear options are challenging: Tuck them into your tall boots and you risk looking like a pirate. Wear them with pretty pumps and you risk losing your feet to frostbite.
Drapey pants with ankle cuffs are your best bet. They taper naturally and gradually, which makes them easier to pair with enclosed, high-vamp footwear. Tuck the cuff into the top of tall ankle boots and scrunch it a little. Or pull a cute sock halfway up the cuff and pair with low booties or "shooties." You can also try them with muted socks and sneakers, although this works best with styles that end below the ankle bone.
Drapey pants and fancy sweatpants have a bit more volume than classic pant shapes, so opting for fitted or structured tops will create balance. This pant silhouette looks fantastic with a fitted graphic tee and utility jacket, a chunky turtleneck sweater or a slim-fitting long-sleeved top and cozy scarf. You can even play with juxtaposition by doing a sequined blazer, silk blouse or other fancy top.
But unless you're headed to the gym, skip the sweatshirts. Use your top choice to remind the world that these are fancy sweatpants, thank you very much.
Sally McGraw is a Minneapolis-based personal stylist and creator of the Already Pretty (alreadypretty.com) blog. Her fashion advice appears on this page once a month. Send your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.