I work in a kitchen, and I have to follow certain clothing guidelines when I’m there: hair tied back and covered with a headband, hat, or hair net; no open-toed shoes (or shoes that I care about, because they’d get covered in food in a heartbeat); no bare shoulders. I’m stuck in a rut of “bun with cloth headband, whatever T-shirt is clean, dirty Vans, and jeans or shorts depending on the weather.” It’s really boring and it bums me out! Do you have any ideas for how to spice it up at a service industry job? —E., Boston

My first part-time job was at a pizza parlor, where we had a similar dress code, though they provided a T-shirt as a sort of half-assed uniform. But there were no rules about accessories, so I figured wearing a spiky bracelet wouldn’t be a problem…until one day, when a customer called to say he’d found a CONE-SHAPED METAL OBJECT in his pizza! Luckily, my ass was not fired, and even MORE luckily, the dude didn’t choke! Still, that doesn’t mean a gal can’t look like a soldier of style while she’s in the kitchen flipping burgers or tossin’ pizzas!

Since you can wear any shirt you want, stock up on a few basic shoulder-covering black tunics (because a sauce stain on a black shirt looks way more chic than one on a white shirt, TRUST). Maybe something like this or this?

I know you’re probably like, “A black T-shirt, really, Marie? You couldn’t think of anything more INNOVATIVE AND UNIQUE?” But imagine if you paired your black tee with some fun leggings, like these Clashist ones or these food-patterned ones, which are quite a steal at $12 each. It won’t be that big a deal if you get splatters on them, since they’re pretty inexpensive and they already have food all over ’em!

As for shoes, I’d stick to Vans or Converse, since those are already way better-looking than traditional gramma work shoes, but switch out the laces for cuter ones (here are some good options).

If you wanna make your kitchen garb extra-kitschy, wear a cool apron! Go on a thrift store hunt for something like this adorable number or custom-make your own!

I’m going to turn 18 real soon. Since it’s kind of a milestone birthday, I’d like to look especially nice when I hit the town. I don’t want to wear something that’ll make my dad wince or stop me from dancing to my full potential, but I want to look smokin’, particularly by emphasizing my legs. Any suggestions? —C., 17, Dublin

Happy birthday!!! Even though I think you should wear anything you gawtdang want, I get not wanting to piss off a parental unit. You gotta pick and choose your battles in that department, ya know? My mom STILL gets mad at me for wearing skirts that are “too short,” and I’m way above 18! LET ME LIVE, FANNIE (aka my mom)!! I am absolutely thrilled to help you figure out something to wear that’s hot and danceable, but also won’t make your papa’s jaw hit the floor.

Pairing a skirt with lacy tights or fishnets would be totally hawt AND provide coverage. Target has a good variety of lace and netted tights. As for dresses, I think a bodycon with a really fun print, like this one, or a black dress with embellished lace, like this li’l beaut, would be totally slamming. Here are some other choice picks for a night out:

From left to right: caged black dress, $48, LuLu*s; lip-patterned dress, $30, Pixie Market; cutout dress, $19, LuLu*s.

From left to right: black windowpane dress, $48, LuLu’s; lip-patterned dress, $30, Pixie Market; cutout dress, $19, LuLu’s.

This strapless skater dress is also a real cutie, and you can throw a lightweight motorcycle-style jacket (this guy, perhaps?) over it if you want more coverage. Hope you have the best time ever!

My obsession with long socks is at an all-time high. My parents won’t let me spend more than $20 of my birthday money on socks, so do you know of knee-high/long options in my price range? —Ava, 14, Maryland

I’m happy to meet someone else who loves socks as much as I do! Us SOX LOVERS are lucky because there are so many choices out there. Whatever length you prefer, you can find a pretty rad assortment at relatively decent prices! After all, we ARE building an extensive collection, are we not?

Hansel From Basel is a cool indie legwear company that puts one style on sale each month, a sock of the month, so keep that in mind for deals on unique prints. We Love Colors is another favorite: They have EVERY SINGLE COLOR sock you could want, in plenty of different heights! Their solid knee-high socks are a true bargain at $4 a pop, while their thigh-highs are only $8 (I actually wore my red ones today!). These GoJane cat-face thigh-highs are so adorable—and less than $12 a pop. OR, how’s about this moustache pair? At Dolls Kill, you can get these happy-face socks for only five bucks, too! Then there’s Sock Dreams, which sells SOOO many *dreamy* (and affordable!) socks. You will go WILD!

Some other socks that will knock your…never mind. Some other cool socks:

Clockwise from top left: over-the-knee socks, $11.50, ASOS; Lincoln socks, $12, ModCloth; kitty socks, $9.50, Urban OG; diamond socks, $11, GoJane; striped socks, $9.50, ASOS; dotted socks, $10, ModCloth.

Clockwise from top left: over-the-knee socks, $11.50, ASOS; Lincoln socks, $12, ModCloth; kitty socks, $9.50, Urban OG; diamond socks, $11, GoJane; striped socks, $9.50, ASOS; dotted socks, $10, ModCloth.

I wish I could see what you wear them with!

Do you have any suggestions for affordable sandals that are cute enough that no one will notice or care about the size of my feet? —C.J., 15, CT

My shoe size is nine, which is above average, and I occasionally get annoyed about this very issue when I’m out shopping and find the cutest pair of vintage heels, and they’re way too small! But, honestly, it’s really no biggie, since there are plenty of cute sandals to fit our feet. I actually just wore some cute UFO-themed sandals today—a brand called Miss L-Fire makes them. They have the coolest, crazy-looking sandals ever, like these! These are kind of pricey, though, so let’s find you some sweet chanclas that won’t break the bank!

Far left, top to bottom: slingbacks, $23, Kohl's; shell sandal, $32.50, Iron Fist. Center, top to bottom: yellow wedges, $52, B.A.I.T. Footwear; silver sandals, $24, ModCloth. Far right, top to bottom: floral sandals, $20, ModCloth; jelly sandals, $30, BC Footwear.

Far left, top to bottom: slingbacks, $23, Kohl’s; shell sandal, $32.50, Iron Fist. Center, top to bottom: yellow wedges, $52, B.A.I.T. Footwear; silver sandals, $24, ModCloth. Far right, top to bottom: floral sandals, $20, ModCloth; jelly sandals, $30, BC Footwear.

All of these styles are adorable and affordable, so even if you still feel a little self-conch, everyone will be complimenting you on your bomb-ass footwear style! Get out there and enjoy the sun, BB! ♦

Looking for some style counsel about bowties, bandeaus, and basically anything/everything else? Email your questions to Marie and her cabal of fashionable pals at [email protected] Please let us know your first name (or nickname), your age, and where you live.