"I recently moved from Philadelphia to Maui. I miss pants and jackets! Is there any way to adapt cooler-weather trends when every day feels like mid-July?"
When in Rome, do as the Romans do! I'm not saying that you have to abandon your Philadelphia wardrobe and wear a muumuu. Warmer temperatures can bring out a disheveled look that is less than polished. The best way to incorporate your Philadelphia items is by layering, an all-season savior — especially as you go from air-conditioned homes and offices to the hot outdoors. Be mindful of footwear. Lightweight ankle boots and closed-toe flats are appropriate in all climates.
"I work with kids all day, so comfort is a must, but I'm over jeans and tees. I've got a closet full of great vintage pieces that never see the light of day. How can I incorporate them into my work wardrobe?"
My fabulous friend and colleague Ada Calhoun is the mother of an energetic 6-year-old boy, and she is always in vintage. In fact, the dresses give her more agility and freedom of movement than the separates do. She always looks chic and stylish. When she wants the lift that a heel provides, she more often opts for a wedge because of the stability that it offers. So, excavate the vintage pieces from your closet, play with the various options that you have for head-to-toe looks (and take some risks here), and enjoy the "new" you.
"In your book A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style, you talk about French and Italian style. I love both, but I feel that French style favors a slimmer, boyish body type, while the Italians accommodate a more curvaceous figure. Does your body type dictate which look is better suited to you, or is there a way to work with both, regardless of your figure?"
When it comes to French- and Italian-inspired fashion, please rid your mind of any biases about body types. Instead, focus on tailoring versus draping. Basically, are you a Cleopatra (tailored) or a Helen of Troy (draped)? The French and Italian references are more about affect and attitude than specific items of clothing. Both cultures possess a joie de vivre sexiness and an unbridled confidence. Their differences are demonstrated in subtlety and nuance — think Catherine Deneuve versus Sophia Loren. It's all about the style with which you navigate the world.