Q: I’d like to hear from you about women’s watches. I see people with such a variety of styles. In the past couple of years I’ve seen so many women wearing big men’s watches. What is up with that?

A: It’s true that large-faced, menswear-influenced watch styles have been favored for several years, and they’re still more desirable than slimmer, delicate styles. Because borrowed-from-the-boys and “athleisure” looks are hot, it makes sense that watch styles would skew masculine and sporty. Those who opt for slimmer, more ladylike watch styles tend to wear them on the same wrist with a pile of bracelets.

According to Harper’s Bazaar, colorful watches (especially ceramic models) are the trendy style for summer, although most fashionistas will downshift into neutrals for fall. Silvertone metals — sterling, stainless steel or white gold — are beating out warm golden tones nowadays, although vintage classics in all colors are always en vogue. If you can’t afford a real-deal Cartier Tank or Rolex Oyster, look for less expensive versions with the same scale and features.

Q: I would love to get more use out of my favorite dresses, but their necklines and sleevelessness make them a little revealing for everyday. I would love to figure out how to wear shirts or sweaters or something over them so that I’m basically just wearing them like a skirt with a top. When I try stuff it just looks a little wonky! The bottom of the shirt hits at a weird place or the fabrics/textures look odd together. Do you have suggestions?

A: I do indeed, and they might surprise you.

I’m guessing that your top-and-dress combos looked odd because the proportions were off. As a loose rule, tops worn with skirts should be a bit shorter than tops worn with pants. With a skirt, an untucked top should hit about two fingers’ width below your navel. With pants, an untucked top should subdivide your butt or hit two to three fingers’ width above your crotch point, whichever looks better to your eye.

Finding skirt-length tops has been nearly impossible for ages. But now? Crop tops have returned, and they’re different from their ’80s and ’90s predecessors. Some are very short indeed and clearly designed to show some skin, but others are longer and look more like regular tops that are slightly short in the body. The right length, shape and cut can be perfect for layering over dresses or wearing untucked with skirts. Try Nord­strom and Kohl’s for cute and affordable options.


Q: I’d love some advice for women who are hard on their clothes. I’m a stay-at-home mom who spends a lot of time outdoors with kids and dogs, in the garden, in the kitchen, making art, etc. I have a lot of fun, funky clothes in my wardrobe that have been relegated to “special occasions only” because if I wear them on a daily basis I’m afraid they’ll end up stained and torn. How do you build a wardrobe that will take a beating and isn’t just jeans and T-shirts?

A: I hope you can nudge some of those fun, funky items back into rotation. “Saving for good” can mean that clothes you love remain pristine but unworn. It might feel better to risk the stains than it would to continue looking at them longingly whenever you open your closet door.

I would point all women who are hard on their clothes toward the streetwear offerings from athletic-wear companies. Title Nine, Athleta and Toad & Co. are great brands because everything they sell is washable, wrinkle-proof and designed to be used hard and long. Yes, there are yoga pants, but there are also skorts, cute wicking tops, cargo pants and cozy tunics.

The combination of tunics and leggings works with flats or sneakers for summer, and looks chic and contemporary with boots for fall and winter. Cotton-blend leggings and washable tunics can become wardrobe staples for women leading active and messy lives.


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 questions to tellus@startribune.com.