In the January edition of our fashion advice column “Ask Megan,” Style Coach Megan LaRussa Chenoweth of Megan LaRussa tackles readers’ questions about cleaning out your closet, how to style oversized sweaters, rocking over-the-knee boots and more.

Ask Megan

Style Coach Megan LaRussa Chenoweth of Megan LaRussa

I really love the idea of wearing an oversized sweater, but I don’t want to add bulk or look too voluminous. How do I pull off this look yet still look polished and chic?

The oversized sweater has made a major comeback this season! Once a thing of the ’80s, this cozy yet dramatic knit is back in full force. The conundrum is how to rock this sweater without looking bulky or frumpy.

There are three main ways to pull off this winter look without looking lost in your clothes:

1. Half-tuck the sweater.

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The half-tuck accentuates the waist so that the wearer isn’t swallowed up by the sweater. Images: Anthropologie | Anthropologie

2. Cinch & belt the sweater.

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Cinching the sweater with a belt flatters the figure. Image: Nordstrom

3. Toss on a tailored third piece over the sweater.

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A tailored third piece such as this quilted vest elevates these basics and lends structure to the overall look. Image: Talbots

Check out the full details of these three styling tricks, along with more inspiration images, on my blog.

It’s the new year, and I’m ready for a fresh start with my wardrobe! What are your tips for cleaning out and organizing your closet? I don’t know where to start!

You’re not alone in feeling overwhelmed with where to start with your wardrobe! It can feel like a huge undertaking to tackle your closet and get your wardrobe to a happy, streamlined and stylish place. The most important piece of the style puzzle is having a step-by-step game plan to get you the exact results you desire.

RELATED: If You Never Wanted a Style Coach, We Bet You Will Now …

Step 1: Determine your personal style and body type to ensure you are cleansing the right items from your wardrobe. The foundation of real, effortless style is understanding your authentic look and silhouette. These two factors will help you quickly assess the items in your closet — and in the stores — that match your body type and desired style, so that you know what to keep and what to toss.

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A closet cleanse is the perfect way to kick-start your new year.

Step 2: Grab a notebook and pen, hop into your closet and start cleansing! Be very methodical. Start in one section and work your way through piece by piece. Ask yourself questions such as, “If I were shopping today, would I buy this item full price?” and “What do I like or not like about this garment?” Get specific. And of course make sure each item passes the body type and personal style test! We only want items that reflect your best self in your closet.

Step 3: While cleansing your closet, determine what you need and make a shopping list. Make notes of anything important (a.k.a. something you wear a lot) that needs to go so that you can then replace it with a better version. This running list will become a shopping list and will give you structure and guidance when you hit the stores post-cleanse.

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As you clean your closet, take notes so that you are armed with a shopping list of your wardrobe’s specific needs.

To help you kick-start your shopping list, check out my 5 Must-Have Basics Every Woman Needs in Her Closet so that you can go ahead and add these to your list. These essential basic pieces will help you create a versatile wardrobe that can easily be mixed and matched for all occasions!

Most of the people I see wearing over-the-knee (OTK) boots have suede transfers on their jeans. But even while trying them on in the store, the color stained my fingers. I don’t want the extra fuss and irritation after spending hundreds of dollars. Any tips on how to sensibly wear and style OTK boots?

First, let me say I love how detail-oriented you are to notice the suede color and fabric transferring onto denim. That can be quite an issue for suede lovers, whether it’s a pair of boots or a purse. If you have your heart set on OTK suede boots, then I’d highly recommend using a spray suede protector all over the boots before you wear them. It’s very important to let the boots dry overnight before touching or wearing them. By protecting them, you are also sealing in the color and material to help prevent suede transfer.

Another option is selecting a pair of regular leather OTK boots, instead of suede. I personally have a pair of black OTK leather boots, and they have never transferred color or material onto my jeans or hands.

As for how to rock this on-trend boot style, the most important tip I can give you is to keep it all in the same color family! If your OTK boots are black, then stick with skinny jeans in a darker hue like black, dark wash or charcoal. We want to use the OTK boots to elongate your silhouette, so the color family rule is very important.

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To elongate your silhouette, keep your skinny jeans in the same color family as your OTK boots. Image: Pinterest

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If you have a new pair of suede OTK boots, use a spray suede protector all over the boots before you wear them and let it dry overnight before touching them. Image: Net-a-Porter

For more practical ways for any woman to rock OTK boots, check out this article.

I have read in fashion magazines that leggings are a great look, and skinny jeans are a sharp look, but to never, ever wear “jeggings.” What is the difference?

This is one of my favorite topics to discuss and debunk! I’ll first share with you the difference between the three types of bottoms, then give you the rundown on how to wear each style.

Leggings are typically a pull-on garment that does not have zippers or pockets. This style pant is often stretchy and can range from thin to thick material. Leggings are quite comfortable, and with our world turning towards comfort and “athleisure,” they have become quite popular. But I’m here to share with you that leggings are not pants. Leggings are not meant to be worn to work, lunch with friends or dinner out with a loved one. Their purpose is simple. Leggings are perfect for working out, yoga or lounging at home. We have seen more and more fabulous ladies turning towards wearing leggings and tunics, and this does zero for any woman’s figure, not to mention this look is not in style.

RELATED: How to Wear Leather Pants, Tights & High-Low Style: Ask Megan

Jeggings are a hybrid of pants and leggings. They typically are legging material but have either faux or real pockets and a front closure. This style of pant is more appropriate to wear outside of the home or gym, but you do have to follow some basic guidelines to keep it appropriate and chic. The jegging style that works best is the one made of ponte knit material. This magic material is both comfortable and appropriate for wear outside of the home as it’s thicker, allowing one to wear a real top — not a tunic — with them.

Skinny jeans are the most wearable of the trio! They are made of regular denim, often stretchy and look good on most body types. They can be just as comfortable as leggings but are more appropriate as they are made of denim, have pockets and a front zipper closure. All in all, skinny jeans are also going to be the most versatile too!

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This dark wash denim skinny jean seamlessly pairs with a velvet blazer and chic loafers. Image: Pinterest

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A classic skinny jean, dressed down, is a wardrobe workhorse. Image: Nordstrom

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These ponte knit skinny pants with zip pockets are a staple. Image: ShopStyle

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These skinny jeans are given a rock-and-roll twist with a studded leather jacket and open-toed shoes with striking gold hardware. Image: Atelier Doré

I have been following your Instagram, and I adore the outfits you put together for yourself! You have a way of styling casual, comfy outfits that still look pulled together. How do you put together a casual yet polished outfit?

Merci beaucoup for following along on Instagram! I love nothing more than sharing easy-to-emulate outfits, especially casual ones, to show my stylish community that you don’t have to wear leggings or athleisure to be comfy and casual.

The No. 1 rule for creating pulled together, casual outfits is the magic of the third piece. A third piece can mean many things, but typically it is a blazer, cardigan, vest, denim jacket, scarf, great necklace, etc. Anything that is layered over your casual top or dress to pull the look together is ideal.

In the summer months this can be challenging, but this is where elevated basics come into play. An elevated basic is one that has interesting texture, color, pattern or details to keep it from feeling basic and boring. By combining a few elevated basics, like a fun top and a pair of interesting shorts, you create a stylish and polished casual look.

Now that you know the secret to feeling put together daily, I’d suggest reviewing your wardrobe to see if you have these types of pieces readily available in your closet. If not, make a shopping list, and start building a wardrobe that allows for more versatility and polish.

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In the summer, Megan says to forgo the layers of a third piece for an elevated basic. “An elevated basic is a piece that has interesting texture, color, pattern or details to keep it from feeling basic and boring,” says Megan, and these vibrant shorts are the perfect example. Image: J.Crew

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A blush-toned quilted vest and a striking statement necklace are third pieces that take each of these looks to the next level. Images: Megan LaRussa Instagram

Something as simple and versatile as a classic jean jacket can do wonders for an outfit. Finding third pieces you love will revolutionize and multiply your wardrobe options. Image: Nordstrom

Have fashion questions? Ask Megan! Submit your own fashion-related questions for possible inclusion in this monthly column by emailing [email protected]

To learn more about Megan LaRussa, or to view style-coaching options, book an appointment or sign up for the Style Yourself Chic Society, visit meganlarussa.com.

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