Capitol Hill Style

Thursday, August 21, 2014 by Belle

Ask Belle: Bucket Bags


Several of you have written in asking how I feel about the drawstring bucket bags that are popping up everywhere.  I like them as a fashion forward casual bag.  But I wouldn’t spend much money on one.  (It appalls me that some bloggers are touting the glories of a bucket bag from Italy that costs almost $800.)  Here are my favorite under-$100 bucket bags.


Old Navy Bucket Bag ($30)

Simple, casual, under-$50…everything I want in a bucket bag.  It comes in deep tan, black and pine-green.

I also like the structure of this pale tan Mango bag.  This Kate bag from Need Supply Co. has pierced leather that makes it very chic-looking.  This lipstick red bag from Urban Outfitters is a good size.  And lastly, I found this black-and-white printed bag, which I thought was kid of fun.

Thursday, August 21, 2014 by Belle

Ask Belle: White Denim Now and Later


Hi Belle:

I hope your August is going well! I wanted to email you with a perennial question: can one wear white jeans after Labor Day? I am interested in buying a pair of them, especially since so many stores have them discounted now, but am worried about the wearability factor come September. What are your thoughts on this supposed fashion rule? Any tips for wearing them into the cooler weather? 

Thanks so much! Rory

Maybe the easiest way to answer this question is with visual aids.


Jeans: Paige Skyline Skinny Jeans ($179)

These Paige jeans are my everything.  I have a serious saddlebag issue, and they’re the only skinny jeans that don’t make them look enormous.  Need something under-$100?  Try these Ann Taylor jeans or these Old Navy Rockstar jeans.  Petite?  Try these $79 Michael Kors jeans.  Plus-size?  These Jones New York jeans look promising.

Left, Blouse: Otte Sophie Top ($185) // Necklace: Charlene K Turquoise Necklace ($138) // Bag: Switch It Up Tote ($59) // Earrings: Chloe Stud Earring ($38) // Ring: Tira Open Ring ($38) // Shoes: French Connection Hallie Sandal ($50)

August is for white denim and bright colors.  One of my favorite summer color combos is turquoise and coral.  Looking for more Martha’s Vineyard, less Miami Beach?  Try this yellow, dot-printed top from Ann Taylor and these navy stud earrings.

The real star of this show is the inexpensive reversible tote.  It’s coral on one side, cognac on the other.  Prefer a different combination?  Try this $48 Street Level Tote that comes in four options.

Right, Sweater: Merino Wool Tippi Sweater ($80 + 25%-off) // Earrings: Kenneth Cole Hoops ($24) // Bag: Sole Society Marlow Tote ($59) // Bracelet: Blu Bijoux Cuff ($34) // Shoe: Sole Society Wynn Bootie ($80)

This is a good outfit for early fall.  In D.C., that’s October.  In Montana, that’s next week.  Adjust accordingly.

I chose grey, but you could also got with a camel sweater or a black-and-white printed one (don’t miss it!).  I also like these sweet booties.  I think they’re phenomenal.  But if you want something more basic, don’t miss these Splendid Lakota booties.

I also added green accessories to create a rich-looking color combination.  And given the affordability of the bag and the bracelet, it would be a great pair of items to own.

Bottom, Jacket: IRO Cym Tweed Jacket ($485) // Sweater: Cashmere Tee ($138 + 25%-off) // Boots: Steve Madden Tall Boots ($169) // Scarf: Grey Leopard Scarf ($30) // Earrings: Minkoff Studded Drop Earrings ($68)

For the deepest months of winter, wear your white jeans as you would your blue jeans.  Here, I paired them with a black tweed jacket and a navy blue sweater.  This is still one of my favorite color combos.  I chose the grey leopard scarf with hints of blue and black to pull the palette together.

Need a cheaper tweed jacket? Try this Halogen jacket or this sale-priced Rebecca Taylor jacket.  Petite?  This Halogen tweed jacket comes in your size.  Plus-size?  Try this pale grey tweed zip jacket.

Thursday, August 21, 2014 by Belle

10th Commandment: August 21



Nine West Grounded Pumps ($89)

How hot are these Nine West pumps?  At 3.5″, they’re a bit above my preferred heel-height, but still in the realm of office appropriateness.  The color palette is so good.  They would be perfect with a black or an ivory dress.

Nine West has a number of affordable choice for fall.  I like these chic ankle-strap pumps in bold red.  And  I love these open-toed shoes for dinner or cocktails–they look great in every color.

Need boots?  Look no further.  They have casual cognac ankle boots in both flat and high-heeled styles.  They also have a great, buckled flat boot that comes in six basic colors and materials. All three pair are simple and perfect for fall.  I also love these suede high heel ankle boots in black, they’d be perfect with tights.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 by Belle

SOS: Facial Cleanser



I have a confession: I am a collector of face wash.  A closeted goo hoarder.  My cupboards and cabinets are full of expensive cleansers, cheap cleansers, bar cleanser, liquid cleansers.  I should open a store.

One of the biggest arguments in the beauty biz is whether you should splurge on an expensive cleanser or if any old product from the bottom of the drugstore shelf will do.  Proponents of the cheap stuff will tell you that you’re just washing it down the drain anyway.  But I’m advocate for finding a cleanser that you feel treats your skin right, because everyone’s skin has different needs.


Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser ($75). When the fine ladies at TH sent me some samples a few months back, I never thought this would be the product that I would love enough to buy with my own money.   It’s $75 face soap for heaven’s sake.  But I did some shuffling in my beauty budget (adios morning serum!), and found the money.  Why?

This soap has a gentle exfoliation like nothing I’ve ever seen.  It doesn’t strip the skin.  It doesn’t leave you feeling dry.  If just lightly removes dead cells and makeup residue.  It also leaves my skin feeling bright and fresher.  So now, I’m the weird girl who eats PB&J but uses $75 face soap.  Sweet.

Ole Henriksen Melting Cleanser ($34). If you wear full-face makeup and waterproof mascara every day, this cleanser is worth a try.  I picked up a sample last week and it’s the most effective all-in-one cleanser that I have ever used.  It works a bit differently because it’s a jelly, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll love it.  I also fall hard for any product loaded up on vitamin-C.

Philosophy Purity Made Simple ($23). This cleanser is the department store cleanser of choice for the sensitive skin set.  It’s gentle, but effective.  No dyes, no perfumes, no fancy extras.  Just a pure, pH-balanced, sudsy soap to take off most makeup.  (Never worked on my mascara, but few things do.)


Cerave Foaming Facial Cleanser ($13). The current trend is toward cleansers that don’t lather, since the same ingredients that produce bubbles can also strip skin. But some women just need lather.  If you’re one of those ladies, you need this foaming cleanser from Cerave.

This is my travel cleanser and my fall back.  It converted me from Cetaphil because it’s just as gentle, but sudsy.  Plus, it has hyaluronic acid to keep skin moisturized.

Yes to Carrots Daily Cream Cleanser ($8). For every woman who loves lather, there is one who craves a creamy cleanser.  This Yes to Carrots formula is rich and luxurious, but not heavy.  Like most of the cleansers mentioned in this post, it’s paraben free.  It also has aloe vera and shea butter for ladies with dry, sensitive skin.

Body Shop Pomegranate Cleanser ($14). While I like this cleanser, it is not for ladies with oily skin.  I use it in the winter to give my skin a burst of antioxidants without depleting what little oil my combination skin can hold onto on a windy January day.  If you need something for combination or oily skin, try the Body Shop’s Tea Tree cleanser.  Both products are inexpensive alternatives to the pricier Origins or Boscia brands.

So do you splurge or save when it comes to cleanser?  And regardless of price point, if you have one that you love share it in the comments.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 by Belle

Under-$100 Transitional Multi-Taskers


Since moving out West, I’ve had to learn to dress down for occasions that I would have dressed up for in D.C..  And it’s weird.  I still relish any opportunity to break out a good dress or a tailored suit or cocktail attire, but they’re further and fewer between.  But I still want to look nice and dress well, so what’s a girl to do?

To make it through the early fall months, I’ve picked up a few pieces that bridge that fine line between dressy and casual.  The kind of pieces that can be dressed up or down by changing shoes, bags and separates.  Multi-taskers.  Here are a few of my favorite inexpensive, versatile pieces.


Pim + Larkin Knit Minidress ($89)

I can wear this dress today with colored flats and a simple tote.  I can wear it in September with bare legs and ankle boots.  And I can wear it after the snow flies with tights and knee-high boots.  It’s simple, it’s easy, it’s a must have.


BR Embossed Top ($69, petite and tall)

I bought this top in both ivory and black.  I loved the black, and returned the ivory.  Why?  The fabric is on the thin side, which is no problem in the darker color, but deeply annoying in the lighter one.

I like the texture and the puff sleeve.  I’ll wear this with skinny jeans, colored trousers and pencil skirts all fall long.  Come winter, I’ll layer it under white blazers and chunky cardigans.


Tinley Road Ava Blazer ($89)

Leather and leather trims are huge for fall.  I don’t want to splurge on them myself, because they’re not going to be staple pieces.  But a fun blazer like this with the notched collar and a rolled sleeve spices up basic tops and tees.  You can also layer it over dresses for warmth on a chilly fall night.


Halogen Seamed Pencil Skirt ($69, also in petites)

This is this skirt’s third appearance on the blog.  I love it that much.  The berry and teal hues are the perfect wear in multi-season colors.  Wear them now with lighter neutrals or pastels.  Wear them in the fall with charcoals, camels and navy.

The quality is excellent for a skirt twice this price, the fit is awesome and I’ve already worn mine a half-dozen times since I bought it last month.  Great purchase.

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Updated for 2014