Capitol Hill Style

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 by Belle

Ask Belle Roundup Vol. IV, No. Thirty-Two


Hi Belle,

I recently bought this dress in seashore to wear to a summer wedding but unlike in the picture, it looks like I am wearing a sack when I put it on! I was thinking of belting it, any suggestions on color and shoe pairings?

Thanks! TT

First, even if you’re trying to add structure to a dress using a belt, you may still need to tailor it.  In this case, even just taking a shapeless dress in an inch or two can make a huge difference.  Because if you add a belt to a dress that looks too much like a sack, you won’t help anything.

For a dress in a bold blue, I would add a wide belt in either grey or cognac/medium brown.  Whether you choose grey or brown for the belt, I think a flesh-toned shoe is best.  I like these Pour la Victoire ankle-strap sandals.

If you wanted to add some colorful accessories, I would choose either a coordinating aqua bracelet or a contrasting coral earring.

Hi Belle,

I’ve always been pear shaped. Recently I’ve put on a few pounds and they’re – you guess it – on my butt. I need a couple new pairs of jeans to make me feel good again! Help!

Thank you!! NS

Whenever you gain weight, regardless of where you gain it, it should change how you dress your body.  After a long vacation or a visit from my parents, I break out the flowy tops and a loose-fitting dresses.  Concealment is the name of the game.  In the case of weight gain in your tush, you have a slightly different calculus: am I concealing or am I embracing?

If you’re on team bootylicious, I would go for a skinny jean.  Not a jegging, not an uber-skinny like one would find at AE or the like, but a skinny jean that could even be considered a slim or straight jean.  My favorite jeans, as a pear-shaped person, are the Paige Skyline Skinny Jeans or their Straight Leg jeans (on Anniversary Sale for $119).  If you need something cheaper, you may need to try on many pairs, but I would start with the Lucky Sweet n Straight jeans.

If you prefer the concealment route, I would suggest a bootcut or slim bootcut to balance out the disparity in proportion.  AG Ballad jeans are a great choice, they have a bit of bootcut, but don’t cross the line into flare.  I also like 7 for All Mankind’s mid-rise Kimmie jean for a wider leg opening.  You can usually find these jeans, and all 7 products on sale for under-$100 if you do a bit of Googling.

Plus-size or petite?  Leave your thoughts on the best jeans in the comments, jean shopping is something that requires first hand knowledge to be helpful.

Hi Belle,

Do you use a pedometer or a Fitbit? I would love to start using a pedometer (one that I could swim laps with would be awesome), but they aren’t especially stylish, and they also seem a little unprofessional, depending on the situation. Do you have a stylish pedometer? I work in a business casual setting.

Thank you, and good luck with your classes. M

Last summer, I used my FitBit religiously.  It was a great way to hold myself accountable for getting off my ass.  Then, I broke it.  This year, since I’m driving more, I haven’t replaced it.  However, I love the new Tory Burch for FitBit accessories, esp. the gold pendant necklace and the navy bracelet, so I think I’m going to put one on order.

As for the style aspect, so many people wear pedometers or Fuel Bands now, that I think it doesn’t matter so much.  I don’t think it’s unprofessional, and as long as whichever model you choose doesn’t beep during my meeting or flash in a distracting way, I don’t care.

If you want one you can wear to swim laps, a friend of mine owns this Shine Sport Watch, you can wear it while swimming and it will track your entire workout.  It also looks pretty chic for a pedometer.


My black twin set is worn out and I need a new one, but can’t seem to find any in the stores. Any ideas for me? I prefer petite sizing because regular cardigans are too long, and v necks seem to look better on me than crew necks.

Thanks, Lisa

Twinsets seem to go in and out of style, but there are a few retailers you can count on to stock them.  J.Crew always has them, but crewnecks only.  But I think your best bet here is going to be Land’s End.  They stock cotton crewneck twinsets, and cashmere crewneck twinsets at reasonable prices.  They also have every color imaginable, and offer misses, petites and plus.

If you must have a v-neck, I think you could also put together a twin set from their separates.  This v-neck sweater vest seems to go with this v-neck cardigan.


I hope law school is going well out west. After five years in the workforce, I finally have my own business cards and I’d love a cute holder for them. When I looked around for one, all I could find were very masculine silver business card holders. I’d love to find one that was nice, feminine, and professional without being cutesy for under $50. I have no strong feelings about materials or color. Any ideas? 

Thanks! -Allison

For my business card case, I went the non-fancy route and picked up a $5 aluminum one off Amazon. (It’s far too likely that I’ll lose it to carry something nice.)    Kate Spade also makes a cute $20 case that is just whimsical enough without being unprofessional.

Another great option is a leather case.  I like this snakeskin print case from Leatherbay (shocking, right?) and this fold-over card holder which comes in several colors and can be monogrammed.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 by Belle

10th Commandment: July 22


Who doesn’t get excited about inexpensive work basics?  This week, the morning post will feature work basics with under-$100 prices.

rsz_screen_shot_2014-07-20_at_73629_pmHalogen Suiting Basics in Regular and Petite (Pants, $58; Jacket, $99; Skirt, $46)

I tried on a few things at the Anniversary Sale this weekend.  These suiting pieces are a great buy at this price.  The quality is as good or slightly better than Banana Republic’s pieces.

Halogen also makes a suit in a brown weave (blazer and skirt).  They also make a basic black suit (blazer and skirt).

Also, if you missed the Halogen seamed pencil skirt that I mentioned in Friday’s post, it’s definitely worth a look.  I bought it in the berry and the teal.  A very well-made item for $46.

Plus-size? I would look at Macy’s first.  They have a good selection of suit pieces from various brands that fall in the under-$100 price range thanks to the sale.

Monday, July 21, 2014 by Belle

State of the Blog: Manic Monday



My parents were in town this weekend, so I’m behind on my homework.  Sadly, law school takes precedence over the blog.  But I’ll be back tomorrow with some under-$100 work basics, a four ways on Wednesday and a Two Ways that you won’t want to miss.  See you then!

Also, check out this Banana Republic dress I bought this weekend–it’s pale pink, faux-leather and awesome.

Friday, July 18, 2014 by Belle

10th Commandment: Nordstrom Anniversary Sale



Zella Live In Leggings ($33)

For me, the best thing in this sale are the Zella Live-In Leggings.  I bought three pair.  I wear them around the house every night and every weekend.  They’re thick, age well with repeated wear and wash, and the wide waistband makes them super comfortable.  Now, onto some of my other favorites.

Work Dresses.  Who couldn’t use a great basic dress at a great price?  This chic Vince sheath comes in a medium-charcoal and a mulberry color.  This Classiques Entier dress with short sleeves comes in three great colors.  Want a splurge choice?  Burberry forever.

Need something under-$100?  You’re in luck.  This Taylor pintuck dress has a really sleek, modern look.  Don’t miss this simple Cali sheath from T Tahari with a slimming colorblock style.  And this Marc New York cap-sleeve dress is one you can wear for years to come.

Plus-size?  This simple Eliza J shift is a classic.  Petite? This cobalt sheath (also in misses) is incredible.

Shoes. The sale has a great selection of simple work pumps, pumps for days.  These basic Cole Haan pumps are worth a shot.  The Halogen Marlie pump is a great under-$75 basic.  I also love them in the grey leopard color.

Need fall boots?  These Via Spiga Cecil boots and these Cole Haan Carlyle boots are a bit pricey, but worth it.  For and under-$150 option, these casual Sam Edelman boots are a fantastic option.


Halogen Seamed Pencil Skirt ($46, also in petite)

Aside from the leggings, this skirt is the buy of the sale.  It is a fan.tas.tic basic.  It comes in all of my favorite fall colors–black, camel, berry, teal–and a cool navy and black colorblock option.  It’s like Nordstrom’s design people gave me a present.

Work Shop. If you don’t know where to start with the sale, hit the work shop.  Some great blazers, tops and pants.  They also have some inexpensive suiting options like this Halogen option.  But my favorite piece is this Halogen Mixed Media tweed jacket, perfect with black separates or with jeans.

Casual Clothing.  Need jeans?  My favorite pair of Paige Skyline jeans are in the sale.  I also like this Drape Neck sweatshirt from Caslon for a fun way to wear jersey.  I also like the star-print on this Halogen blouse for something a bit different under my casual jackets and cardis.

Friday, July 18, 2014 by Belle

Belle’s Weekly Reading: July 18, 2014




1) This Hairpin article, “What happened when we gave our daughter my last name” is fascinating.  Some of my friends decided to give their daughter her last name and their son his last name.  They didn’t get the kind of pushback the article describes, but they do have to explain why their children have different last names sometimes.

2) If you need something beautiful to look at, this silvery J.Mendel gown yielded an audible gasp.

3) Esquire has a thought-provoking article on pit bulls and the culture of fear that surrounds them.  If you love dogs, this is a must read.

4) I’m also done decorating my apartment. I recently purchased this bone-inlay tray from One Kings Lane.  I also love this chunky, cable-knit throw.  Now, if I could just figure out how to hang these wine glass shelves, the bar would be finished.

5) A Virginia man has claimed a section of land in Africa in order to create a kingdom, so that his daughter can be a real princess.  Wonder what he’ll do for her Sweet Sixteen?  Or her wedding?

6) Banana Republic has some amazing shoes right now.  These simple sandals should be on every late summer wish list.  If you want leopard, this is the best under-$125 pump for sale right now.  But my favorite shoe is this navy heel with an exaggerated vamp–so sexy.

7) I have love/hate relationship with the blog Cupcakes & Cashmere.  But I really loved her recent post on using flea market finds, esp. the idea of using salt cellars to hold rings and earrings.

8) A $21 marble butter keeper, the thing you never knew you always needed. (I also found a $9 ceramic option.)

9) The NYT says scrunchies are making a comeback. It’s okay. I let out a blood-curdling scream too.

10) I’ve developed a sudden need for a flirty, printed summer dress.  This French Connection dress is wonderful.  Land’s End has an incredible navy dress with a small pink, geometric print.  This soft grey and white Tahari Tyra dress is one of the best things I’ve seen all summer.

11) In this week’s episode of Things That Will Make You Laugh at Humanity: People saw a photo of Steven Spielberg on the set of the 1993 hit Jurassic Park and thought he hunted and killed a dinosaur.  No, really.

12) A friend of mine wore a short dress to her wedding in May and raved (and I mean, raved) about Michael Kors Leg Shine.  She said, “I wanted a lightly bronzed glow.  I did not want to look too tan or wear body glitter.  The leg shine gave me a fresh-from-Cancun glow.  I’ve worn it every day since.”

13) Lastly, The Washington Post has a piece titled, “Our unrealistic views of death, through a doctor’s eyes.”  I found the piece to be filled with hard truths, but maybe honest thoughts we need to hear.

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Updated for 2014