Dress for Success

Real women have real fashion quandaries. Here’s how to tackle them, one real woman, one real quandary at a time.

Who: Kris Swenson, 43, optometrist

My friends and I frequently have conversations about what 43-year-olds should wear. Our conclusion is always “I don’t know.” I have trouble finding the right fit, especially with dresses. After I had cancer surgery, I was unable to wear heels, so it’s hard to find shoes to go with dresses, too.

Before (right): Kris substituted graphic prints for color in her wardrobe, and couldn’t find a dress that fit her shape.

First Impressions: Maybe my goals are unrealistic. When I first saw the dresses on the hanger, I thought, “I would never pull those off the rack.” But then I zipped them up: I felt so comfortable and they fit. I need to be more daring and try more things on in the stores.

Our Stylist’s Take: This look is timeless, sophisticated, and sexy. It’s appropriate for day, for dinner, for the theater, or playing a bit of Sex & The City with girlfriends. We’ve taken her look up to the same level as her sophistication.

Kris’s Conclusion: I have hard time saying that I looked good, because I’m Norwegian. But I looked good! I really did! I felt good and I had a very, very fun time.


  • The Dress: Anne Klein, $420. The Boot: Cole Haan flat boot, $495; both from Bloomingdales, Mall of America, 952-883-8800, bloomingdales.com
  • Burgundy feels modern this season and injects sophisticated color into Kris’s wardrobe. It brightens up her face more than a print.
  • A darker bottom and belt are slimming; it nips in the waist and creates a flattering silhouette.
  • This boot is flat, yet it pairs well with jeans, skirts, and dresses. The tights are of the moment and comfortable.

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