Capitol Hill Style: Ask Belle

Entries Tagged as 'Ask Belle'

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 by Belle

Ask Belle: Office Appropriate Sandals


Dear Belle,

With summer on the horizon, I’m searching for a pair of sandals that I can wear to the office.  I work for the government, and my department has a professional dress code, but I’d like to find sandals that I can wear on casual days.  A lot of my coworkers just wear flip flops and I don’t think it looks very professional so I hope you have another suggestion.  Thanks for your blog, good luck with your move.  


First off, unless you work in a very casual office, flip-flops are not acceptable work attire.  In my opinion, there are so many stylish sandals that have a “dressier” feel that wearing the same shoes you wear to the beach or pool deck just isn’t necessary.  Here are a few shoes that would be better for casual Fridays or recess days than flip-flops:


Seychelles Strappy Flats ($80) // Braid Away Flat Sandal ($45)

Closed-toe Sandals are a great option for the office.  They cover the front part of the foot and have more substance than many sandals.  Seychelles also makes a cognac-colored sandal with a Huarache like weave for $72.  And if you want something inexpensive, Charlotte Russe makes a gladiator-style sandal with a closed front for $25.  I also like these favorite delicatessen sandals for $25.


Klub Nico Garcia Sandal ($137) // Splendid Atlanta Sandal ($98)

Peep-toe sandals with closed heels are another good option.  They have a more conservative look and when worn under pants, you can barely tell they’re not flats.  This pair from ModCloth has a cut-out floral design for a bit of whimsy.  And these Edelman Brina flats with a pointed-toe are on my favorites list for the season.

If you want a lighter shoe, but your office is so professional that you can’t swing a sandal of any kind, a slingback is a good option.  These closed-toe, suede numbers from Sole Society are really cute, as are these basic Corso Como slingbacks.  And even though I don’t usually go for bows, these Nine West peep-toe slings are pretty.

Lastly, if you’re going to wear open-toe or open-heel shoes to work this summer, you need to keep your feet in shape.  You don’t need to paint your toes if you don’t want to, but they need to be cleaned, trimmed, and filed.  The biggest thing women seem to forget when wearing shoes that show skin is keeping the callouses and dry skin off their heels.  Buy a Ped Egg and your feet can look sandal ready in a jiffy.

Monday, April 21, 2014 by Belle

Ask Belle Roundup Vol. IV, No. Eighteen


Hi Belle, 

My law school graduation is in a few weeks, and I’m looking for a dress to wear under my gown.  Something light would be good, since the gown is so heavy.  I’d also like it to be knee-length or close to it and under-$200.  Any suggestions?

Thanks, Bev

My first suggestion about graduation attire is not to choose a strapless dress.  You’ll probably be taking a lot of photos, most of them head shots and you can wind up looking naked.

I would choose a short sleeve dress, like this chevron Collective Concepts dress from Piperlime or this stretch eyelet dress from J.Crew.  If you lose the bow belt, this printed Jones New York dress would be cute.  And this Felicity and Coco dress with cap sleeves is great for spring/summer (also in petites).

If you want to go the sleeveless dress with cardi route, this Wallis oval spots dress is adorable.  This Ralph Lauren white pointelle dress is also great and 25%-off with code FRIENDS.

Plus-size?  I like the look of this Land’s End dress with short sleeves and a square neck, the plum color is gorgeous.  They also make this elbow-sleeve floral dress that I wish came in misses sizes.

Dear Belle,

My makeup bag is looking grim and I want to purchase a few new eyeshadows to spice things up.  What is your favorite brand/colors?  I usually wear brown and gray and I want something with color.

Thanks! Love the blog! Aimee

My favorite shadows are Stila.  Good staying power, excellent color saturation. My favorite shades are Oasis (a pale gold) and Cassis (a royal purple).

If you want a drugstore option, I like the cream shadows from Maybelline Color Tattoo.  I also like the baked eyeshadows from elf who offer this lovely palette for $10.

Hi Belle,

I need a short coat for spring.  Not a trench, a hip-length coat.  I thought it would be easy to find one that cost less than $150.  I was wrong.  Please help, it’s still cold in Colorado.

Thank you, DB

Quilted jackets are a nice option for chilly weather.  Zara has a really nice looking one in navy for sale right now.  You could also try a short anorak like this two-tone one from Vince Camuto.  Or go for the trendy option and select a bomber jacket like this navy one from NYDJ.

Dear Belle,

You mentioned on Twitter that you buy hair sunscreen to protect your highlights. Where do you get it?  My wallet thanks you for saving my highlights from becoming streaks this summer.

xoxo, Kelly

I like Aveda Hair Veil, just remember to turn on your bathroom fan before you spray it.  Your nasal passages will thank you.  For a drugstore alternative, try Ion sun protection spray from Sally.

Thursday, April 17, 2014 by Belle

Ask Belle: Racerback Cocktail Dresses


Hi Belle,

I’m searching for a dress for a friend’s wedding next month.  I’d like something with a racerback silhouette, but all I’m finding are casual dresses and maxis.  I’d like to spend under-$100 so I might be asking too much.

Please help! Jen

Asking too much?  Never!  We have the whole Internet available to us, let’s go searching.


Trouve Ponte Midi Dress ($98) // LOFT Tulip Skirt Dress ($89) // ASOS Pencil Dress ($85) // Amy Matto Becca Dress ($78)

Ah, racer back goodness and all under-$100.  Nailed it!  But seriously, given that it’s wedding season, here are my favorite places to search for party dresses at reasonable prices.

ASOS, always, ASOS.  This flirty, strappy chiffon dress from Warehouse is perfection.  I also love this Oasis dress with a gorgeous coral color and collar embellishments.  They also have a wide selection of plus, petite, tall and maternity dresses.

Bloomingdale’s offers an under-$150 section that’s full of good stuff.  This deep blue dress from Coast has an interesting shape and a great look to it.  And this Michael Kors one-shoulder is a truly unique LBD.

Zara.  If you need to spend under-$100, Zara offers styles and prices that will suit you perfectly.  This navy dress with frilly sleeves could do double duty, casual with flat sandals or cocktail with strappy heels.  This dress with a knotted back detail is pretty fantastic.  And if it’s drama in the back that you want, don’t miss this racerback dress in a bold red with cut-outs in the back.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 by Belle

Ask Belle Roundup Vol. IV, No. Seventeen


Dear Belle,

I have a lot of weddings to attend this year, five in all.  Four of them are cocktail attire and one is casual.  I have dresses aplenty, but I need a pair of shoes to wear that will work with anything and everything.  Suggestions?


Metallics are always a good choice.  I like something with skinny straps so they don’t overwhelm the look.  Since you didn’t specify a price range, J.Crew offers both this ankle-strap pair and this Dirty Dancing-esque cage sandal in the under-$250 price point.  I also love these gorgeous, understated pewter Pelle Moda slingback sandals for around $150.

Looking for something less expensive?  Try these silver Caparros ankle-strap sandals or these Charles David Bezel sandals.  But my favorite are these  Steve Madden Dussty Sandals in gold, which have a very Kate Spade look to them.

Hi Belle,

I saw on the news that it’s spring where you are, but it still feels like winter where I live.  How long can I wear tights and boots before it becomes faux pas?  

Thank you!  KW

I usually hang up my boots and tights around April Fool’s Day, though with the unseasonably cold weather, I’ve pushed that boundary a couple of times.  But wearing tights and boots is more weather dependent than date dependent.  So here’s my new rule:

If you have to wear a winter coat to tolerate the temperatures, than boots and tights are fine regardless of the date.  If it’s just a bit nippy and it’s after April 1, whether you wear tights is your choice but, no boots.  If you most of your compatriots sporting bare legs, it’s time to hang up the leg wear until October.

Hi Belle,

I love the blog! Do you have some quick tips for getting my feet into sandal shape?  I’m on a tight budget and don’t want to fall into the pedicure trap.  Once you pop, you can’t stop on the pedis.


First off, I recommend a PedEgg to remove calluses and dry spots with minimal effort.  Secondly, to prevent calluses from forming, try a product like Bag Balm to prevent dryness and cracking.  Lastly, to get the skin in shape, I recommend Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil.

Once you have everything prepped, I recommend Deborah Lippman Gel Lab base and top coat for a long-lasting polish application.  It’s a great product that keeps your polish looking pristine longer.

Dear Belle,

I’m on an intern budget but need to buy clothes to wear to my new job.  Can you recommend a few stores where I can find professional clothing cheaply?  I went to the outlet mall to look around but everything was cotton mini skirts and ripped jeans.

Thanks for your help and your blog, Amy

H&M would be a great place to start.  They make a wide variety of types and styles.  This chiffon blouse is perfectly appropriate for work in comes in several colors.  I also like this black fitted blazer, it’s a great basic.  And don’t miss this printed teal dress for something a bit more unique.

I would also try Zara for blazers and Nordstrom for under-$100 skirts.  Limited has great suits for the price (please take a pass on the capri pants).  And if it’s dresses you’re after, LOFT has a few nice options, like this tulip skirt dress, as does J.Crew Factory.

Lastly, don’t forget to keep an eye out at Target.  Their Merona and Mossimo lines often have basic blazers, skirts and dresses for under-$50 prices.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 by Belle

Ask Belle: Finding Under-$200 Handbags


Hi Belle,

I need a new handbag, something that I can wear to work or on the weekends.  I’m looking in the $200 range, so something nicer than my Limited tote but not as expensive as Rebecca Minkoff or Coach.  

Thanks for the help!

If you are searching for bags under-$200, I think Nordstrom has a great selection.  To answer your specific question about a professional bag that is relaxed enough to be carried during casual times, I like this Michael Kors Jet-Set Chain Tote (great colors) or this Elliott Lucca satchel (a great mid-price brand.

Looking for something under-$100?  I think Zara has the best selection.  This Mini-City Bag is lovely, as is their City Bag with Zips.  It’s also a great place to buy fashion-forward bags like the bucket tote.

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Updated for 2014