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

Hi Belle,
I recently started a new job in a casual office, meaning jeans everyday is the norm.  I feel like I wear sweaters and booties everyday, and am getting bored.  I guess I am looking for some shirts to change things up.  Any suggestions?  Tall sizes, please.


I would start by extending the pieces you already have.  In other words, layer up.

I love this long, olive vest from Club Monaco.  For something less expensive, try this $50 Romeo & Juliet vest.  If olive isn’t your thing, try this navy vest from Sugarlips.

Another option is a leather jacket, like this white funnel neck one from Nordstrom.  Or pick up this BB Dakota classic with a shawl collar.  Need a tall option?  Try this Muu Baa jacket.

If you want new pieces, I would look into some casual dresses.  I like this cocoon sweatshirt dress from Anthropologie.  This funnel neck chunky sweaterdress would look great with leggings and this Gorjana pendant necklace.  In tall sizes, this simple, black swing dress is perfect for layering.

Hi Belle,

My navy pencil skirt is on its last legs.  I want to buy two new ones to replace it, a basic one and something cooler than that.  Any suggestions for either skirt? I’d prefer something in the $150 or less range.

Good luck on the bar! Amy

Let’s start with the “cool” skirt.  This Iris & Ink skirt has a fluted hem midi-skirt that’s pretty fun.  Antonio Melani has a similar look that’s knee-length.  I also like this Kobi Halperin wrap-front skirt with a bow-belt accent.

For the basic one, you can’t go wrong with the Ann Taylor Seasonless Pencil Skirt.  And I’ve always been a big fan of the T Tahari pencil skirts for their simple fit and affordable price.

Plus-size?  This Calvin Klein pencil skirt is a good basic.  For something a little different, try this Briggs gored skirt that has a bit of flare to it.  Petite?  Try the Ann Taylor pencil, and this BR layered-pleated skirt.

Hi Belle,
I am looking for cute, inexpensive and warm loungewear pants. I am always cold and usually wear unflattering fleece leggings. Zella’s live in leggings are not warm enough for me. Please help! Thanks. Good luck with the bar exam!  – JL

These Make + Model track pants are like a sleek pair of sweatpants.  They might work.  Also, these Topshop velvet joggers don’t have the saggy rear-view that so many joggers give you.

If you want to stick with leggings, I would recommend Uniqlo Heattech leggings.  They’re super affordable, and lined with fleece to give you a warm base layer.  I bought a pair for skiing (not that I’ve seen a run all winter thanks to the bar!).  Athleta also makes a PolarTec Line that’s specifically meant for winter runners; I would give that a look, too.

Hi Belle,

I will be making a trip to Florida with the boyfriend to visit his parents in March. They live close to the beach and spend a lot of time there, so we will be doing the same. I’m excited, but I’ve only met them a handful of times and the thought of wearing a swimsuit around them is a little stressful. Any tips for places to buy a well-made swimsuit? I’m a curvy girl, so want to make sure I’m keeping my assets up top and bottom in check!

Thank you! Erin

Swimwear is so hard to find.  My only recommendation would be to order a bunch of suits from Shopbop or Zappos and try them all on in the comfort of your home.  Instead, let me recommend a fantastic cover up.

For Cuba, I bought this long, white coverup from LOFT, and it was the buy of the trip.  Perfectly beachy, but also pretty and functional.  Sadly, it’s sold out, but this Skin Skin caftan and this OdlR cotton caftan look similar.  I also love this Natori kimono sleeve caftan from Nordstrom rack in grey.  And this Ellen Tracy printed caftan for $39 is pretty cute, too.

I prefer the long caftan to a short cover-up because you can wear it anywhere.  As long as it’s not super sheer, you’re covered up enough, but still dressed for the beach.  You can wear it to a casual lunch or to run a quick errand.  It’s definitely a poolside, beach staple for me.

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26 Comment

  1. Reply
    February 14, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    Erin, Modcloth sells a lot of retro swimsuits that provide good coverage. I bought an Esther Williams “Bathing Beauty” one-piece (it comes in tons of colors and cute patterns), and it kept me comfortably covered while chasing after kids at the pool last summer.

    1. Reply
      February 14, 2017 at 2:00 pm

      Good suggestion, thanks.

      1. Reply
        February 14, 2017 at 2:06 pm

        Yes! I second the Esther Williams suits. I bought them specifically for vacationing with the in-laws. They are great quality.

  2. Reply
    February 14, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    I’d highly recommend the Athleta PolarTec leggings. I am also always cold, and I find they do an excellent job keeping me warm without bulk. I’ve even worn them with tunics/sweater dresses and boots for a cute casual look. I loved my first pair so much I bought a second.

  3. Reply
    February 14, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Lands End swimsuits get recommended a lot for their quality and size range, and they actually have a lot of cute options. I’ve had one of their bikinis for several years and it has held up well.

  4. Reply
    February 14, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    I recommend Lands End for high-quality swimsuits for curvy women. Some of their stuff is admittedly frumpy/basic, but there are some cute things too. I have their slender tunic one-piece ( which is pretty cute and definitely well made. I typically wear bikinis but this is a good one piece when you want to be more covered up.

    1. Reply
      February 14, 2017 at 6:38 pm

      Yeah, they’re my go-to honestly. I really wish more places would make bra-cup sized swimwear! I really like their tankinis since you can mix and match to get something you’re comfortable with, plus you can return in-store at Sears.

  5. Reply
    February 14, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    For the best suits for curvy ladies, I can’t recommend Esther Williams Swimwear enough! Stick with the 1-piece – the highrise bottom bikini is mostly just a cute idea rather than cute in practice, and stick with a solid color (my favorite from them is emerald) for maximum figure flattery.

  6. Reply
    February 14, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    Freya swimwear’s tops are similar to a regular bra support wise. They have a wide range of band and cup sizes. Sadly, as with regular bras cup size and cuteness seem to be inversely related.

  7. Reply
    February 14, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    I love this blog but I am straight up baffled by your response to Ashley (question #1). She asked for links to tops and you gave her vests, jackets, and dresses and not one top?

    1. Reply
      February 14, 2017 at 4:09 pm

      I must have misread the question. I thought she was asking for pieces to wear with her tops. I’ll update it later.

      1. Reply
        February 14, 2017 at 4:13 pm

        Thank you! I am having the same conundrum with my closet and am looking forward to the list of tops!

        1. Reply
          February 15, 2017 at 9:58 am

          I recommend the Loft Utility Blouses and their similar popover blouses. They are always styled formally in the store and online, so don’t be put off by that. They look killer with a great jean or casual pant, and some fun shoes. And while I’m not sure they come in actual Tall sizes, they run pretty long.

  8. Reply
    February 14, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Swimsuits for all has cute, affordable retro styles, but I wouldn’t recommend them if you’re above a B or C cup. If you need underwire to feel comfortable in a bra, even the styles with underwire probably won’t feel sturdy enough.

  9. Reply
    February 14, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    Any good places to shop for swimwear now that Victoria’s Secret no longer offers swimwear? I loved how they offered cup sizing and underwire bikini tops and you could buy separate sizes for tops and bottoms.

    1. Reply
      February 14, 2017 at 8:14 pm

      I’m liking Athleta. They have so many styles of separates and lots of color options (patterns too, if you want ’em). And if you watch for the end-of-season sales you can pick up pieces for cheap. I like having extra bottoms because hot tubs can cause some serious damage.

      1. Reply
        February 15, 2017 at 8:00 am

        I second the Athleta recommendation! Good quality to last several seasons. My suits get a lot of use because of the backyard pool, and they hold up well. Also good coverage for when you need the girls contained while chasing the kids. Buy on sale!

  10. Reply
    February 14, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    JL, I also am always cold. I really love the LL Bean Polartec Power Stretch Tight ( I was shocked at how warm they are. I’ve also worn them skiing and thought they were great for that too.

    Erin, I swear by Athleta’s swimsuits. They have a number of suits that are bra sized with underwires and have a bunch of different cuts in tops and bottoms.

    1. Reply
      February 15, 2017 at 10:13 am

      Tripled! I also like that their cuts are more athletic rather than sexy– which might make the OP feel a bit more comfortable around her boyfriend’s parents!

  11. Reply
    February 14, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    Erin, you may want to bring light layers. In March, there will be cool breezes off the water and at night. I often don’t get all the way down to my bathing suit in March, especially in north Florida/the panhandle. Have fun!

    1. Reply
      February 15, 2017 at 9:37 am

      It depends what part of Florida you’re in. Next week the highs are going up to the mid-80s in Miami. By March, unless there’s some sort of freak cold front, you can expect temps to be in the 70s and 80s. The water might still be chilly, at least for locals, but it will be fairly warm otherwise, even at night.

  12. Reply
    February 14, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    Seafolly also makes great swimsuits with coverage! I normally prefer bikinis but bought a great retro Seafolly swimsuit at Anthropologie for a trip with my boytfrkend’s family. Just be sure to try them on because I believe they are in Australian sizing.

  13. Reply
    February 15, 2017 at 9:54 am

    If you are under a DDD or F, ASOS makes great bathing suits for the curvaceous body, but above that, you’ll barely be holding in what’s up top. Forever 21 (surprisingly) has great curvy suits. I am in the G/H range, so I stick with Panache, Freya, and Fantasie swimsuits–all bra sized and pretty well built–and they haven’t steered me wrong. They have some really lovely one pieces and tankinis, if you’re looking for more coverage. I’ve gotten the best deals by shopping on Bare Necessities and then looking for cheaper on Amazon, especially for past season’s suits. They are obscure enough that no one knows what season it is from when you’re on the beach (if you care).

  14. Reply
    February 15, 2017 at 11:15 am

    For swimsuits, I would recommend Aerie of all places. They have super cute one-pieces in a range of sizes and the quality of the suits are great (and very reasonably priced!).

  15. Reply
    February 15, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    A few things that I wished someone had told me before I went to visit my now husbands parents in South Florida:
    1) Even though people go to Florida for vacation…visiting family isn’t really a vacation. I had images of sitting on the beach reading and dinning outside but that has never happened.
    2) Unless it is late March it could still be too chilly for a bathing suit. Definitely get a good cover up-you will probably live in that.
    3) Inside will be freezing due to over air conditioning. You will need sweaters.

  16. Reply
    February 15, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    I found some AMAZING fleece lined leggings from ModCloth. They are super cozy and I wear them literally everywhere, from work to my couch, to ski trips. And I am always cold too. For only $20, you can’t really go wrong trying these. They are opaque, flattering, WARM, and supportive 🙂

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