The Dispatch: January 17, 2017

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1. What being a morning person or a night owl says about you. (Levo)

2. For bargain shoes, I hit Macy’s.  These Callisto suede kitten heels are $31, and these INC lace up pumps are $69.

3. Why salary negotiations are more successful when you don’t feel pressure to negotiate. (Fast Company)

4. I would totally wear this bright orange drop-waist AT skirt with a dark navy blouse.  Bold.

5. Don’t have a standing desk? Burn fat and feel more alert by standing up for frequent short bursts. (Real Simple)

6. This discounted Sandro blazer in berry is a great deal.  This peplum Rebecca Taylor is also worth a look.

7. 10 Real Reasons You Don’t Have to Be Afraid to Change Careers. (Refinery29)

8. These red Kate Spade flats have just the right amount of whimsy, and are perfect for Valentine’s Day.

9. Couples share the one argument they have over and over again (like, put.your.damn.shoes.away). (Broadly)

10. This Kate Pave Coil Ring is the perfect dupe for the gorgeous Anita Ko ring I have been lusting after.

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Morning Line: January 17, 2017

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I love open cardigans.  You can dress them up, dress them down.  Wear them open and casual, or belt them for a more structured look.  This Striped Open Cardigan ($79) has a great mix of neutrals and a good length to it.  I would wear it for weekends with these distressed black jeans and an ivory shirt.  For work, I would go with a grey sheath dress and a pair black booties.

Looking for a neutral draped cardigan?  More options in all size ranges in the comments.

The Dispatch: January 13, 2017

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1. Advice to the new White House staffers from the former staff.  Some real gems in here. (Time)

2. I may not be ready for spring, but I am ready for this cute BR skirt with pink trim.

3. What breast cancer can look and feel like. (Popsugar)

4. Can’t get enough of this lavender v-back pencil dress.  Also loving this double layer wiggle dress.  Both $68.

5. I’m the only single person in my friend group — here’s why. (Refinery29)

6. These Bronzallure rose gold and black hoops are fabulous.  The coordinating ring just moved to the top of my list.

7. The significance of a lucky outfit. (Racked)

8. I kind of love the medal print on this Boden shirtdress.  Their Posy shirtdress also comes in great, bold prints.

9. A high school assigned girls in AP English to go on a date as homework.  My AP homework was to read ‘Portrait of the Artist’. One of us got cheated, not sure which. (The Cut)

10. Flare leg pants are back! (More on that next week.)  And these Alice + Olivia flares are just perfect.

11. New breeding program designed to keep moderate Republicans from going extinct. (The Onion)

12. Loving this Passionate lingerie set for V-day.  We’ll be talking about lingerie for every comfort level on the blog next week, don’t miss it!

13. Why you should be planning for 2018, not 2017. (Medium)

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Is this the Perfect Leather Laptop Bag?

Finding a great work bag is a challenge.  I adore my Lo & Sons OMG, but when I take it to court, I always feel underdressed.  I wanted something in leather, but the Lodis Audrey Brera bag, while great, is a little too bulky.  I thought about a Dagne Dover Charlie tote, but the fear that something might slip out the open top was too great.

Then, last month, I spotted the most amazing Dagne Dover laptop bag on Hitha’s blog, and was like, “I need this.  I need this, right now.  Where is my wallet?”

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The Dagne Dover Simone Bag ($395) is the best leather laptop bag I’ve come across.  It’s not to big, not too bulky, and has sleek messenger style that keeps it from being to staid.

As you can see, I have it in the grey and rose gold, which is selling out fast.  But if I had too pick again, I would get the black leather with black hardware. Ya know, all black everything.  Let’s have a look inside.

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The inside has a generous number of pockets given that this is usually where bag makers cut corners.  There’s a laptop compartment, a center compartment, and a small compartment with pen, cell phone, and change holders.  All Dagne Dover bags also come with a leather leash for your keys so you never lose them in your bag.  Handy.

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I carry all of these essentials, plus a notebook, water bottle and datebook in my bag.  It will also hold letter-size folders.  I still haven’t found a solution for legal-size folders besides bringing an extra tote bag, but I will, oh, I will.

Final Verdict: I really adore this bag.  It holds just enough to be practical without weighing you down.  I still use my Lo & Sons OMG when I travel, because it holds more and I’m not as concerned about damaging it, but I’ve been carrying this bag for a few weeks now, and it’s a winner.

Disclosure: I purchased this bag with my own money, and this post is not sponsored in any way.  I’m disclosing because, years ago, Dagne Dover was nice enough to give me one of their canvas laptop tote bags to review.  The guidelines are a bit fuzzy, but since I had a past relationship with the brand, better to be safe than sorry.

Pick Six: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…

Last week, we were doing some New Year cleaning when I inadvertently exposed my secret shame to my boyfriend.  He opened up the hallway cupboard–also known as the “blog cupboard”– and discovered a large plastic crate filled with hundreds of beauty samples.  Next to it, was a pile of black and white striped Sephora bags.  And behind it, another box filled with full-size beauty products that I’ve either been meaning to try or give away to friends.

As I explained to him, I do not have a Sephora problem.  Sure, I check their new arrivals multiple times per week.  And sure, I get every free extra they will allow me.  And sure, I might be two lotions away from being able to open my own skincare pop-up shop, but I am completely in control.  Or something like that.

Since I’ve changed up my skincare routine a bit over the past year, let’s talk about the six other products that are the stars of my medicine cabinet (besides this one, since I sang its praises last week).

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Need to remove your makeup without overdrying your skin?  This Boscia Makeup Breakup Cleansing Oil ($32) will even remove waterproof makeup without overtaxing your skin.  I’ve given up on makeup-removing towelettes (because they’re expensive, and I just end up washing my face, anyway), and I just use this cleanser and a muslin cloth to remove my makeup at the end of the day.  I like the muslin because it doesn’t exfoliate like a washcloth would.

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If there’s one product that has eluded me over the years, it’s the perfect moisturizer.  My heart belongs to Tammy Fender, but I simply can’t afford to keep that relationship going.  And so I fall in and out of love without cheaper brands faster than a teenage starlet.  My latest crush is La Roche Posay Intense Light Hydraphase ($36).  It has hyaluronic acid to combat dry skin, and is formulated to provide all day moisture.  I still write Belle ❤️ Tammy on my notebooks, but this relationship should last at least until the spring.

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Several years ago, my old dermatologist told me I was exfoliating too much.  So while I was enjoying my daily Clarisonic cleansing, my skin wasn’t getting the time it needed to replenish itself.  I still use my Clarisonic on my neck, décolletage and shoulders, but I’ve switched to the Luna Foreo Mini ($99) for my face.  First off, you only have to charge it every 300 uses.  Second, the silicon tips and oscillation provide a mild exfoliation without overdoing it.  And last, it is so much easier to clean, and there are no brusheads to buy.  I use it to give my gentle morning cleanser a boost.

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Late night?  Early morning?  Avoid sallow, tired skin with the Tony Moly Banana Sleeping Pack ($17).  It smells divine and it really works.  I find it too heavy for every day use, but once a week or so, I treat myself.  I don’t know how this product works, but it absolutely works.

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When I have a breakout that is getting away from me, Dr Jart’s Clearing Sheet Mask ($9) is the product that starts moving my skin back in the right direction.  Made with salicylic acid and tea tree oil, this sheet mask treats breakouts and nourishes skin.  I also bring one with me when I travel so that I can limit my liquids and gels to TSA approved sizes.  Also, when I’m done with it, I’ll cut it up and use the pieces on my chest if I’m having a breakout there.

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This Ole Henriksen Ultimate Lift Firming Serum ($55) is the newest addition to my beauty routine.  My dermatologist recommended that I look for a serum with copper in it to stimulate skin renewal and firmness.  So I immediately went to the product line that I love most.  I’ve only been using it two weeks, so I’m not ready to render a final verdict on effectiveness, but I like it so far.  I’ll post a deeper review once I’ve emptied the bottle.