The Workday Reading: May 26, 2017

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1) How to have hard conversations when you don’t like conflict. (HBR)

2) Okay, this off-the-shoulder striped bikini is pretty cute and very summery.

3) Foolproof ways to end a bad date. (ManRepeller)

4) H&M is having a huge sale. Check out this $20 denim jacket and $18 striped dress.

5) How to meaningfully connect with colleagues and stay well-connected. (First Round)

6) Must Haves at Gap: a crisp, white dress, this chic straw hat, and this eyelet skirt.

7) How Trader Joe’s can make a profit on $2 bottles of wine. (Business Insider)

8) These striped knotted sandals from Sole Society should be on everyone’s list.

9) One woman’s response to her sexist co-worker (I thought both parties were unprofessional). (Refinery29)

10) Score big at the Half-Yearly with this $15 silver clutch and this $27 cognac tote.

11) Easy Memorial Day recipes you can pull together at the last minute. (Bustle)

12) Summer Hair Tip: Apply Drybar Triple Sec to wet hair for texture and hold.

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What I’m Drinking. Follow me to watch my Instastory about Barmini’s cocktail tasting menu.

How I’m Organizing. This necklace hanger keeps them visible and untangled.

What Boggled My Mind. Why anyone would steal trucks full of walnuts.

What I Should’ve Bought Long Ago. This Hot Tools curling iron.

What I’m Loving. Being in D.C. for a few days.

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10 Fab Half-Yearly Dresses Under-$125

It’s the second most wonderful time of the year–the Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale is here!!!  Instead of sorting through thousands of pieces, I decided to pull the 10 best dresses for under-$125.  Because who doesn’t love a deal?  From cocktail to casual to the office, here are the dresses that qualify as a steal.  This sale sells out quickly, so don’t dawdle!

Keyhole Stretch Sheath Dress ($89)

Tahari Jersey Shift Dress ($71, also in petite)

Floating Whispers Shift ($78)

Eliza J Pocket Dress ($78, in five colors)

Karen Kane Maxi ($76)

Maggy London Palm Leaf Dress ($65, also in petite)

Maggy London Scuba Dress ($85)

Whisper Light Midi Dress ($118)

Chelsea28 Mixed Lace Dress ($98)

The Workday Reading: May 24, 2017

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1) How to respond when you see sexism in the workplace. (Fortune)

2) This Merona belted satchel is nothing but clean lines and ladylike style.

3) Five tiny tweaks that will transform your skin. (Vogue)

4) Net-a-Porter Sale Must Haves: A Lapis Lazuli cuff, a red DvF dress, and a Vince blouse.

5) The Skimm Is The Ivanka Trump of Newsletters. (Slate)

6) Etsy Finds: a dainty letter ring, a rose quartz pyramid pendant, and Lapis drops.

7) Finally, a fashion editorial picks on men’s attire.(NYTimes)

8) This eyelet Vera dress is made of dreams, but this JOA is affordable and similar.

9) How to push employees without stressing them out. (Harvard Business Review)

10) Want to try Drunk Elephant’s products (or buy travel sizes)?  You need this kit.

11) Monica Lewinsky eulogizes Roger Ailes and the culture he promulgated. (Marie Claire)

12) Pink is really in for spring/summer, and this short-sleeve Trina Turk blouse is fab.

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What I’m Watching. Dame Helen Mirren’s bawdy, funny graduation speech.

What I Found Interesting. Bill Gates talking about your most important commodity, time.

What Moved Me. Mother for Hire.

What I Bought. This Polaroid Zip photo printer that fits in your pocket.

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Fashion & Beauty Queries: Vol. IV, No. Seventeen

Hi Belle,

I’m looking for some new blogs to read.  Anything good you would suggest?  Something more like your blog, maybe.

Thanks. April

I don’t read as many blogs as I used to, but there are a few I really like.  My old standbys include: Extra Petite, Hitha on the Go, Wit & Whimsy, and The Stripe.  Some newer reads to check out would be Wardrobe Icons, a British online magazine, and The Vault Files.

Dear Abra,

Do you ever feel like you’re in just a total and complete clothing rut?  All I buy anymore is Banana and LOFT.  It’s just too easy to just hit the website during a sale and be done with my shopping.  Do you have any other shops that you love?  Somewhere in the mid-price range would be best.  I just need.something.different.

Please Help! Dressing the Same Since 2011

Right now, I’m having a love affair with UK retailers.  That country’s commitment to affordable fashions is appreciated.  Especially for those of us who need/want longer hemlines, sleeves and ladylike styles, the UK can’t be beat.

The dress selection at Marks and Spencer cannot be beat.  This combo shift dress is a good choice for the office.  For a party, this lacy, yellow dress is a stunner.  Another Brit retailer worth a look is Warehouse.  I buy their pieces through the ASOS website.  And lastly, Dune London has some great shoes and bags.

If you prefer to shop stateside, check out & Other Stories.  They have an ever-changing selection of on-trend pieces.

Hi Belle,

Do you have a good source for striped tees?  I need a navy and white one, but everything I fine is tissue thin.  Frankly, it’s BS that I can’t find a mid-weight tee anymore.  

Have fun in D.C.! Kas

Sing it, sister!  It’s so silly how so many retailers are making t-shirts out of one-ply toilet paper and trying to play it off like that’s just the hot style, now.  As if they’re not saving a fortune using inferior materials.  But I digress…

If I need stripes, there are only three places to go: Land’s End, LL Bean, and Boden.  Other than that, the choices are pretty limited.  If they don’t have what you’re looking for, I would try the Orvical brand.  They sell the classic Breton stripe in a wide selection of colors, but they sell out quickly during the summer.

Abra/Belle,

I just started wearing makeup (I know, 32 is the new 14, right?), and I have everything figured out but eyeshadow.  Do you have anything that’s easy to apply and fairly idiot proof you can steer me to?  I’m not looking for a crazy smoked eye, just something for regular days.

Love the blog! Sara W.

The way I see it, there are two ways you can go: with a simple eye palette, or a neutral cream blush.

For the palette, Bareminerals makes a collection of neutral hues that I use whenever I do someone else’s makeup.  The colors are almost universally flattering and really soft.

Another option is to find a hue that works with your eye color (BHG can you help you out), and choose a palette just in that hue. I have hazel eyes, so purple palettes work best for me.  I like this Lancome Hypnose Palette or Clinique’s Ash Violets (the Clinique quad is an easy starting point for beginners.  Then, I would head over to YouTube to get some pointers on applying your new eye makeup.

If you want something even easier, the answer is a simple cream shadow.  This Maybelline Color Tattoo shadow is the easiest thing in the world.  On relaxed days, I smear the gold on my lids and walk out the door.  Revlon also makes a nice cream shadow in several more colors.  Prefer a matte shadow without any metallic?  Clarins makes a really great shadow that has build able color for day-to-night looks.

Tuesday Shoes-Day: Ann Taylor’s May Pumps

Welcome to Tuesday Shoes-Day, the new feature where I show you a pair of shoes that’s captured my heart (and probably my credit card).  For our first pair, we have these fabulous, simple Ann Taylor May patent, block heels ($128 + discount).

These simple spring/summer shoes are extremely versatile.  Jean, from Extra Petite, wore them to our brunch date last fall and ever since, I have been lusting after them.  So I am so, so very glad that Ann Taylor restocked them.

The heel height is a demure 2″, but all the better to walk in, I say.  These shoes are very comfortable.  However, when you’re breaking them in, you will need some Pre-Heels spray or chafe balm on your toes.  The front strap needs some break-in work before you really put them to the test.  After that trial period, though, they are good to go.

If you need a bit more heel, Ann sells a very similar shoe in a 3.5″ heel.  Also, if you’re not into the chunky heel, they have a kitten heel in a thinner stiletto.  I own these as well, and they’re almost as comfortable and just as versatile.