Q: I did a capsule wardrobe this summer and loved the simplicity of a pared-down wardrobe. What items should I add in or rotate for fall?

A: Capsule wardrobes are all the rage right now with the shift toward stylish minimalism. Assuming you already have some basics like slacks, tanks, pullover sweaters and dresses, I’d say get some jackets into the mix. Blazers have their uses, but utility jackets and asymmetric-zipper moto styles are great if you can do a slightly edgy, casual look. Go for ponte, twill or even leather.

Longline blazers are hot for fall, too, so if that style suits you, add one to your capsule to vary your silhouettes. Speaking of long lines, tunics and leggings offer a great alternative to simple tops and bottoms, and the pairing is ideal for fall wear. Add a cozy scarf and tall boots to complete the look.

If you’re thinking of shifting your capsule in a different direction altogether, consider a new color scheme. You may have been wearing mostly light, bright colors for summer but a darker palette will feel more seasonally appropriate as days shorten and temps drop.

Q: I have relatively thin thighs, largish hips and a not entirely flat stomach. This means every time I buy jeans, I have to choose between jeans that fit my thighs (but give me muffin top) or jeans that fit my waist and hips but sag in the butt/thighs/knees. I know I could avoid this by wearing skirts, dresses or a different cut of jeans … but I love my skinny jeans! Any advice?

A: Yes: Befriend a tailor.

In the past few years, denim designers have produced a few styles made to accommodate curves, but most of these focus on figures with smallish waists and large hips and rears. Some of these styles — Old Navy’s Curvy line or Levi’s Curve ID — might work for you, but it sounds like the differential in question is not waist-to-hips but hips-to-thighs. High-waisted skinny styles with high stretch content — Karen Kane’s Zuma jeans or Gap Factory’s High Rise Legging — will prevent muffin top and may work for your figure, but if those are still baggy in the thighs, you might just have to have them taken in.

It’s always easier to tailor from large to small, so buy jeans that fit perfectly in the waist and hips where you’re larger, and have them taken in at the thighs where you’re slimmer. Irritating, I know, but alterations are frequently the only way to achieve a truly perfect fit.


Q: I still wear some stuff I did in my first job out of college and I find some of my favorite clothes at Old Navy, but I know I should probably be shopping elsewhere. How do I transition my starter wardrobe from my 20s to my working wardrobe for my 30s?

A: A tricky but important question! There’s certainly nothing wrong with buying basics at affordable mall stores like Old Navy — solid cardigans, layering tops, dark-wash jeans for casual Friday — but you might want to start looking elsewhere for your more noticeable pieces.

When you wear blazers, skirts, blouses or dresses they tend to define your look: These garments are eye-catching and prominent in a way that simple layers, sweaters and classic pants will never be. It’s also easier to tell when they’ve been made from cheap materials, so buying higher quality is well-advised. Moving forward, make sure your blazers, skirts, blouses and dresses are well-made and classic. Hit consignment stores if you’re on a tight budget.

Consider color, too: Jewel tones and dusty colors tend to look more expensive than primaries, so keep the former and cull the latter from your wardrobe.

Finally, upgrade your shoes, bags and accessories when you can. Accents may seem inconsequential, but they’re often the first things that observers notice. A cracking pleather handbag that’s sprouting loose threads at its seams or an overly shiny bib necklace that screams “bargain bin” can distract from an otherwise classy outfit.


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.