The Ten: November 30, 2016

snip20161129_17

***

1) Maybe cursing at work isn’t as taboo as you thought (I couldn’t agree less.). (Popsugar)

2) I’m kind of in love with this Louise et Cie satchel; we all know how I feel about a snakeskin print.

3) Childless, but not quite by choice.  How not making a decision is a decision. (Refinery29)

4) Antonio Melani does it again, this black and pink sheath is so pretty, as is the kick-pleat skirt on this navy suit.

5) Decades in the making, the writing of Fidel Castro’s obituary. (The New York Times)

6) I found two pieces of jewelry at Nordstrom that I have to have: this Soko Horn Line Ring with a gorgeous natural look, and this sleek Jules Smith Tulum Cuff that is perfect for layering.

7) Meet the glammed-out, kickass attorney fighting ‘revenge porn’ and empowering her clients. (New Yorker)

8) If you need cocktail dresses, look at H&M.  I love this longsleeve, white lace dress and this simple LBD.

9) Six things you need to know about job hunting when you’re already employed. (The Everygirl)

10) At $1.19, every woman I know is getting this brilliant nail polish holder in her stocking.

*image found here.

Let’s Talk: Gift Guides 2016

 

Each holiday season, my daily blog reading is overcome by gift guides.  While some are helpful and fun, the prevalence of poorly edited 30-item guides, fully sponsored guides, and ones with clickbait-y titles like ‘Gifts for the Outdoorsy Modern Man’ and ‘The Feminist Girl Boss Wishlist’ has really turned me off this year.  But since December starts tomorrow (eek!), I thought I would just ask you ladies what type of gift guides you find most (or least) helpful.

In past years, I’ve handled gift guides in a variety of ways.  Some years, I crafted the traditional collages filled with subject or recipient specific items.  Sometimes, I crafted guides based on price point.  And one year, I posted a single gift idea at the end of each work day.

My friend Meghan, built her gift guides as a list this year.  There’s always the traditional collage.  Or I could build them using photo widgets featuring snaps of each item, like in this post on Shopstyle.

Beyond format, what kind of gifts do you need help with?  Co-workers and friends are always popular Ask Belle subjects.  I also have emails asking for boyfriend gifts and sibling gifts.  And each year, there’s at least one post filled with inexpensive White Elephant/Secret Santa gifts.

It seems silly of me to spend hours crafting gift guides that may not help anyone find good gifts.  So leave your thoughts in the comments about which formats work best and who or what you’re shopping for this season.

Belle’s Pick Six: The Bah Humbug Edition

It’s been both a very long year, and a very short year.  I blinked and it was graduation; I took a nap and it was Thanksgiving.  I’ve never been a person who loves the holidays.  For years, I’ve watched the women in my life bake, decorate, and celebrate their way through the holiday season.  I wish I felt that magical holiday spirit sometimes, but it’s just not me.

Surprisingly, I fell in love with a man who loves the holidays.  I mean loves them.  He bought Christmas lights that he can program with an app on his phone.  If I’d let him, there’d be a 13′ tall inflatable Santa in my front yard.  And he keeps trying to buy the dogs reindeer costumes, though I don’t think they’ll be as into the idea as he is.

Regardless of my Scrooge-like tendencies, let’s talk about the holidays anyway.  After all, just because the holidays aren’t my cup of eggnog (that stuff is a waste of good bourbon), doesn’t mean they’re not yours.

snip20161101_20

fa1565cda5017626cc50c79f2a304555

Need a quick, crowd pleasing appetizer for a dinner or cocktail hour?  Need it to look like your contribution took hours, but you threw it together in 10-minutes?  You need a cheese tray.

While my preferred configuration uses slightly different ingredients (see here), this photo perfectly illustrates how a good cheese tray should be arranged using a mix of colors and textures.  Need the hardware?  I have this wooden platter from Target and it is plenty big enough.  You’ll also need a good quality set of cheese knives and some chic serving dishes.  I like these marble dipping bowls, but glass prep bowls will work also.

*photo found here.

snip20161101_22

Velvet is everywhere this winter season.  The smooth fabric is being used in everything from cocktail dresses to chokers.  For me, the only way to wear velvet is on your feet.

_13285662

These incredible velvet pumps from Deimille ($390) are sublime.  They’re sparkly, moody, and perfectly festive.  If you’re looking for something sleeker, the brand’s Della Pia pumps ($345) have a mix of black and burgundy with a seriously chic bow at the back.

Need something on the under-$100 side?  These $38 Michaella tie-ankle pumps from Target are a lot of fun.  ASOS has both these simple London Court Shoes ($49), and these seriously on-trend Sassi Heels ($61).

snip20161101_24

margo-me-october4573

Once the wet, snowy weather hits, I am the Queen of the Updo, Conqueror of Humidity, Lover of Bobby Pins, First of Her Name.  There is simply nothing I hate more than showing up to work, coffee, or a party with my humidity-flattened hair pressed to my head.  Gross.

This hairdo tutorial from Margo & Me is a bit more involved than my daily updo, but it’s perfect for a holiday gathering.  Need something with less labor involved?  Try the five-minute fancy ponytail or this simple chignon.  I also like this topsy-turvy half-up hairdo.  As for how I keep my updo in place, I spritz bobby pins with a bit of my favorite hairspray to tame flyaways.

snip20161101_26

f8b99fb8423cd84100b0b20d1cecafe2

I love sequins, but in my mid-thirties, holiday parties may be the only appropriate place to wear them.  And while this modern look with sequin bustier may be high fashion, it’s probably not right for any of the holiday gatherings on my list.  Instead, I like this Needle and Thread blouse with embroidered sequin flowers.  This Miss Selfridge blouse with white sequins on white sheer is positively gorgeous.  Or try this rose-gold sequin t-shirt from H&M.  Plus-size? Try this black INC blouse with a sheer yoke.

*image found here.

snip20161102_28

Because I was in junior high in the 1990s, I’ve had some difficulty coming around to the choker-necklace trend.  Who doesn’t remember the scoop neck peasant dresses with choker necklaces and army boots of yore?  But while I have to suppress the LSD-like flashbacks of Seventeen magazine and ‘My So Called Life’, even I have to admit there are some lovely necklaces for sale right now that would be perfect for the holidays.

snip20161129_12

BaubleBar Andra Crystal Choker ($68)

snip20161129_13

Chan Luu Embellished Choker Necklace ($110, in three colors)

snip20161129_15

Fine Rocks Choker ($68)

snip20161102_29

snip20161129_16

Unless you have a makeup artist on call (or live in D.C., and can pop into the Birchbox makeup studio in Georgetown), you’re probably on your own for your holiday party makeup.  But have no fear, Bobbi Brown is here.

Whether you want ‘Party Eyes’ (above), ‘Smokey Eyes’, or simple ‘Classic Eyes’ her must-have Everything Eyes palette gives you all the product you need and the tutorials.  I just picked up her Luxe Eye Palette and it was worth every penny.  Need more help than a step-by-step list can provide?  Bobbi has some of the best YouTube videos out there.

The Range: November 29, 2016

With holiday parties on the horizon, I thought a metallic cardigan might be a good look for an office party.  It’s certainly better than an ugly holiday sweater covered in snowmen or Santas.

Corner Office

snip20161128_11

Alice + Olivia Oatmeal/Copper Cardigan ($250)

Cubicle Farm

4113348451673_007_b

Eda Shimmered Cardigan ($148)

Intern Desk

8013438_fpx-tif

Charter Club Metallic Open Front Cardi ($65)

Plus-size: Lauren Plus Geometric Cardigan ($104) Petite: Charter Club Cardigan ($59)