Capitol Hill Style

Thursday, December 18, 2014 by Belle

Gift Guide: Five Last-Minute Secret Santa Gifts

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Yesterday, I got a frantic text from a friend, “My office holiday party is Friday afternoon. White Elephant + No gift = Save Me!”  Here are a few inexpensive, last-minute gift ideas for people you don’t really know that well.

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Knock Knock Notepads ($9)

Knock Knock makes humorous notepads for almost any occasion.  This “Another Meeting” pad is good for work; I also like the Paper Voodoo Doll option.

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Bluetooth Camera Shutter Release ($10)

Set up your phone to take family photos from a distance or use remote to take a “selfie on a stick.”  This would also make a good stocking stuffer for a photo-obsessed teenager.

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Kikkerland Multi-Tasking Tool ($6)

This handy gadget contains a screwdriver, a wrench, a bottle opener, a box opener, a ruler, and more.  It’s made of stainless steel and fits in your wallet.

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Funny Straws ($5)

Krazy or Funny straws are a cheerful, lighthearted gift.  I think all 80s/90s children have fond memories of them.  And even if the recipient doesn’t use them, she probably knows a child she can give them to.

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A Lump of Coal in Tin ($9)

Over a decade ago, my younger brother gave me a lump of coal for Christmas.  He was so proud of his cheeky gift, and we all had a good laugh about it.  In fact, that lump of painted coal still sits on my dresser.

A lump of coal is a fun, non-specific holiday gift that works for any recipient, whether you know the person or not.  It’s good for a chuckle and it doesn’t lose its sparkle when you re-gift it.

Lastly, if none of these gifts work for you, I’ve had great luck with items from the As Seen on TV shop.  You can usually find Chia Pets, Bacon Bowl makers, Instant Picture Hangers, and the like at Walgreen’s or CVS.

Thursday, December 18, 2014 by Belle

Ask Belle: Cocktail Dress Alternatives

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Dear Belle,

I have three post-Christmas parties to attend.  It’s weird.  It’s not a New Year’s party, it’s not a Christmas party.  I get the feeling the dress code for all three is somewhere between cocktail and business, but the last thing I want is to buy another damn cocktail dress.  What can I wear instead?  

If you told me I could go naked, I probably would at this point.  Save me.  Steph

Oh, honey, I know the feeling.  I once had six weddings in the same summer, with the same friend group.  By August, a few of us were swapping dresses because the thought of purchasing one more occasion dress was about as appealing as Pap-smear.  But never fear, I have an idea…

What about a really fun skirt?  Like sparkly or swingy or flirty.  The kind of piece that you could wear with a message tee or a silk camisole or simple sweater and still rock it out.  Here are some suggestions.

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Shoptiques Tulle Skirt ($59)

There are few occasions in life when a tulle skirt is appropriate, so why not take advantage of the one before you?  This skirt has a wide waistband, a fun shape, and a good price.  I also like this midi-length skirt from Bailey 44 (also in white).  This JOA skirt has a full shape, no pleats, and a cool striped detail that looks like there are ribbons running through the skirt.

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Endless Rose Sequin Mini-skirt ($39)

I love this sequin mini-skirt so much that it has me asking questions like, “Am I too old for a mini-skirt?” and “What party can I wear this to?”  I just love the mix of metallic hues and the stripes.  Piperlime also has a similar version in black that runs in sizes up to XL.

Want something with sparkle, but a bit on the longer side?  This BCBG sequin-panel skirt is phenom.  Need something under-$50?  Wallis has you covered (just don’t wear it with those shoes).

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DvF Scotia Lace Pencil Skirt ($97)

Lace is another great option for semi-formal parties or fancy dinners.  This skirt from DvF also comes in black.  I also like this full skirt in a creamy ivory lace.  I’d also consider this Topshop skirt with a lace overlay.  It gives you the length of a pencil skirt with the sultriness of a mini.

Thursday, December 18, 2014 by Belle

Ask Belle: In Search of Trouser Jeans

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Hi Belle,

I found your blog a few months ago and it saved my life when I was interviewing for jobs.  My office allows us to wear jeans on Friday, but skinny jeans aren’t permitted (for women or men, THANK GOD).  You’ve talked about ‘trouser jeans’ in the past, and I’m not sure what those look like.  I don’t want to end up in bell bottoms so I hope you can point me in the right direction.  

With thanks, Ailee

Imagine ladies’ suit trousers made of denim, and that’s what trouser jeans should look like.  Here are some options:

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NYDJ Isabella Jeans ($114)

With a wider leg opening, a dark, uniform wash, and a not-too-fitted cut, these jeans are the quintessential trouser jean.  The denim is of a lighter weight for winter or summer wear.  And the style is flattering and forgiving (because whose waistline doesn’t need a bit of forgiveness during the holidays?).  These jeans also come in petite, tall, and plus sizes.

In the over-$100 price range, I also like the AG Angel Bootcut Jean, which is a bootcut/trouser hybrid.  The 7 for all Mankind Dojo jeans are another good option, and they’re on sale for $85.  Lastly, give the the Joe’s Curvy Bootcut Jean a look.  A few friends with tough-to-fit figures had good luck with the Joe’s option.

Need something under-$100?  Gap’s Long & Lean jean and their Perfect Boot Jean are both good options (in tall and petite).  LOFT also has a modern trouser jean in a very dark wash. Banana Republic also makes a sleek denim trouser.  Plus-size?  Try these jeans from Eddie Bauer.

Thursday, December 18, 2014 by Belle

Morning Line: December 18

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Last week, I broke the heel on my grey pumps while stepping out of my car.  I went to two department stores looking for a replacement pair to no avail.  Luckily, the Internet never fails me.

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L.K. Bennett Florete Pump ($325)

Middle Cubicle

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Cole Haan Kyle Pump ($149)

I also like these Michael Kors pumps in embossed leather with a metallic accent.

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BCBG Gaminka Pump ($59)

These H&M Pumps are also a nice under-$25 choice.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 by Belle

Gift Guide: Chic Storage Pouches

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Deux Lux Elle Pouch ($45)

I love leather pouches.  I organize my handbag and school bag with pouches like this one (medications in one, pens in one, etc.).  This Deux Luxe pouch is nice.  I also love this gorgeous eggplant bag from Yoox.  And these metallic West Elm pouches are my favorite.

Prefer something not made of leather?  J.Crew has a cool metallic canvas bag.  But these personalizable pouches from Mark & Graham may be the best ones I found.  I love the neutral black and tan colorblock.

Copyright © 2006, Capitol Hill Style. All rights reserved. The opinions expressed on Capitol Hill Style by Belle, a guest blogger
or those providing comments are theirs alone. They do not reflect the opinions of Belle's current employer, Belle's
previous employers or any groups or organizations with which she is affiliated.

Updated for 2014