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CIAA 2012: Fashion do's and don'ts 

For the past couple of years, I've attended a variety of CIAA events, from parties and networking events to the tournament games and simply socializing in the lobby of the Westin Hotel. As entertaining as this is and no matter how much fun I have (and I do really enjoy myself), there's one thing I'll never quite understand: the female dress code. I think it's high time someone shed a little light on the style challenges that simply don't have to be.

One of the biggest and most recognizable mistakes is wearing uncomfortable shoes. Every year, without fail, I see a beautiful young lady walking around Uptown in super high heels — "slue-footed and tippin'" as my friend Zeek would say. If men recognize your feet are killing you, ladies, please believe it's not attractive. As women, there are certainly some things we are willing to sacrifice for fashion; however, the ability to comfortably walk upright shouldn't be one of them.

Here's a suggestion: Why not start the day off wearing flats? There are a myriad of stylish options to choose from, like the always classic ballet flats, boots with a small chunky heel or even trendy new wingtips.

Flats are boring, you say? Well, they certainly don't have to be! Since the malls, especially SouthPark, will be flooded with shoppers and those who are obsessed with The Cheesecake Factory, this is the perfect time to check out Urban Outfitters. They have an awesome selection of stylish and comfortable footwear options. Also, if you're a fan of Tom's shoes, they're the perfect combination of comfort and style, plus purchasing them supports a great cause. And, to satisfy the "attention snatcher" in you, the classic Tom's style is available in a sparkly glitter fabrication in black as well as other pop colors like red. My advice is to save your feet a lot of stress and aggravation during the day when you'll be doing most of your walking by waiting until the night parties to break out those six-inch platforms.

Something else important to consider when dressing for CIAA events is the weather. Last year, I attended an event at the Harvey B. Gantt Center, and based on some of the partygoers' attire, I wondered if I had somehow missed the memo that March is now actually a summer month. The Queen City, if you've failed to notice, is one of those North Carolina towns where the weather can change pretty drastically from one day to the next. I'm talking 60+ degrees today and in the 40s with crazy wind gusts tomorrow. Sometimes these changes can be seen from day to night, literally.

Ladies, I know you may think you've found the perfect party look, but now is not the time to dress as if it's 90 degrees out. It's still February/March. You know your grandma would tell you to "Put some clothes on before you end up with the walking pneumonia!" Seriously, I know we want to look our best, but there are ways to accomplish this in a very classy way without appearing "seasonally challenged" or scantily clad.

Try layering on a few different pieces, for example, throw on a blazer over your LBD (Little Black Dress) like the pictured found at Lipp Boutique, paired with a stylish scarf. But don't forget your tights: Bare legs on a potentially freezing cold day is not attractive. Not only will layering help you to stay warm in unpredictable weather, but it also allows you the opportunity to shed a few items when things heat up after a drink or two and you're ready to get your dance on. Where do you store these items I'm suggesting you shed, you might ask? Well, that's what coat check was designed for, people! I'm just saying.

Lastly, when it comes to makeup, remember there is a difference in a day look and an evening look. Like my friend and personal makeup artist Joy Randall says, "Keep it fresh and romantic during the day. Night time is when you want to do your drama with smoky eyes and a statement lip color." Wearing a bright red lip is one of the biggest trends in cosmetics right now, but keep in mind, everything isn't for everyone.

My general rule of thumb is to always take a very honest look in the mirror before you head out on the town. It's also a good idea to consult your most critical, yet stylish, girlfriend for confirmation. Believe me, a little input from a good friend goes a long way. Happy CIAA 100th Anniversary, everyone, and welcome to the Q.C.!

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