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.

Item of the Week: The White Blazer

I had planned to launch a new feature called Tuesday Shoes-Day, today.  The trouble is that the Ann Taylor website is currently down.  So we’ll have to trudge through until it’s back up.  Because what good is it to post an awesome pair of shoes if no one can buy them?

I adore a white blazer.  It is my summertime office must-have.  I wear it over a striped top with jeans on casual Friday.  I pair it with any and all sheath dresses.  I love it with black for a classic look, but you can really wear it with any color.

This H&M Blazer comes in at a very affordable $55.  If you’re new to the white blazer game, this is where I would start, and then you can upgrade as needed.  This Calvin Klein one-button blazer is a great, well-made basic at a good price.  I also recommend this white blazer from Mango.

Looking for something with a bit more pop?  This flare-sleeve white blazer is a fun option.  This scallop-edge blazer from Draper James is cute.  I also like this tie-cuff blazer from Marks & Spencer.

Plus-size?  I am obsessed with this tie-front blazer.  For something simpler, I would go with this Tahari ASL blazer.  Petite?  Land’s End has several white blazers in stock.

Need advice on how to style your white blazer?  Check back on Thursday to see three ways to wear it.

The Workday Reading: May 22, 2017

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1) Questions to ask before agreeing to be a bridesmaid. (The Bustle)

2) This blush pink (super comfy) Kors heel is on my wish list for summer.

3) Why emojis could prove intent in a court of law. (Quartz)

4) Jazz up last year’s work dress with this $39 Halogen belt or their $29 bow belt.

5) Ways to make working from home healthier. (Because I’m Addicted)

6) Old Navy Must Haves: This flirty dress, this striped tee dress, this eyelet trim top.

7) Women just aren’t into the “marriageable male” anymore. (WaPost)

8) Dillard’s is the place for summer work dresses. I love this grey striped dress.

9) Four simple bits of advice for succeeding at your career. (Fortune)

10) This Anthro ruffled poplin blouse and striped shirtdress are just right for summer.

11) When you love your friend, but hate her social media presence. (The Cut)

12) Need a crossbody? Try this sleek one from Vince Camuto.

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What I’m Exchanging. Expensive makeup removing wipes for these washable microfiber cloths.

What I’m Watching. The political documentary, “Get Me Roger Stone.”

When You Need a Monday Pick Me Up. Watch my Mom’s dog rolling in the snow (yes, there’s snow in MT).

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The Workday Reading: May 19, 2017

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1) How to stay positive in a toxic work environment. (Career Contessa)

2) If this pore extracting pomegranate mask works, I’ll take a lifetime supply.

3) The truth is out about Instagram, and users are over “the algorithm.” (Daily Mail; HuffPo)

4) H&M Must Haves: A sunny yellow dress, a printed v-neck blouse, and knot-front shorts.

5) The right way to make friends at work. (Business Insider)

6)  Try rocking the one-piece with this green high neck and hot red suit from Aerie.

7) Are childish men the reason women are having children later? And why you shouldn’t waste a woman’s time if you’re not sure you want to have children. (NY Post; Stuff)

8) M&S Must Haves: The perfect cardigan, a cute-casual red dress, a white, dipped-hem blouse.

9) How to diffuse conflicts at work. (The Everygirl)

10) This mini cinema lightbox is a fun, inexpensive gift.

11) What happens when feminism is no longer fashionable? (Closet Heroes)

12) New Store Alert! Check out these awesome heels and lace-up sandals from & Other Stories.

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What Blew My Mind. What 2,000 calories looks like at a restaurant vs. at home.

What My OCD Bought. Cord management sleeves and cable clips for my desk.

What I’m Done Watching. Just finished The Arrangement (bingeworthy).

What I’d Like to Learn. How to make a delicious pan sauce.

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