Entries Tagged as 'Ask Belle'
Since this is a blog geared primarily to 20- and 30-something women, I receive a number of e-mails regarding stylish maternity wear. This is a topic about which I know precious little. Luckily, Capitol Hill Barbie, whose blogs I have been reading since 2005, knows a lot about the subject. The following guest post makes a great jumping off point for those of you who are navigating the precarious world of maternity fashion.
Congratulations! Both on the pregnancy and the newfound reason to buy a whole new wardrobe! Just kidding…kind of.
I’ll start off by saying that maternity suits are really hard to find. I do firmly believe that you get a little bit of a pass on being as formal as everyone else when it comes to workwear when you are pregnant. No one really expects you to have your normal closet depth when you are growing another person, and most days you could get away with one notch down on the formality ladder. However, I understand that if you are going to court, or a very high level meeting, etc., a suit is important.
If you just found out that you are expecting and it’s your first baby, you have some time before you need to think about for reals maternity clothes. I would encourage you to get a Bella Band, which is this stretchy tube of fabric that allows you to wear your pre-pregnancy pants unbuttoned for a while. You will be the envy of all your friends, male and female. You’ll also probably be able to get away with your regular suit jackets for another few weeks as well depending on how your rib cage/bust area is growing.
Next, get ready to invest. I know the temptation is to say, “I’m only going to wear it for 9 months, so I’m not going to spend a lot,” but don’t do it. You are going to wear the everloving crap out of your maternity clothes, plus, you’ll need them after you give birth (sad but true). And you don’t want to buy super cheap stuff that will look cheap and worn out after a few wearings.
If you work in a professional office, I would buy at least one good full suit in a neutral color like this black suit from Jules and Jim, this slim legged black one from Olian, or this tie front one from Maternal America. Some other good brand names to look for are Ripe, Noppies, and Isabella Oliver.
Then, I would get a pencil skirt, another basic jacket, dress pants in a grey or navy, and a sheath dress (love love love this one from More of Me Maternity). These things will let you mix and match so you can always have a jacket and dress bottom without needing a full suit.
Double Duty. Once you have solid basics, you can fill in as needed throughout your pregnancy with less expensive tops and dresses from Gap Maternity, Loft Maternity, Topshop or Asos. These will work under blazers, for more casual days at the office, and when you are not at work. Also, don’t rule out everything in your closet or at the store just because it’s not “maternity.” There are lots of open cardigans, long blouses and t-shirts in the stores these days that will look fine on a pregnant body. (Editor’s Note: A friend wore size 12 DvF wrap dresses for her entire pregnancy and then put them up on eBay afterwards.)
Sales. A lot of great maternity retailers are have big sales pretty frequently, like Isabella Oliver, Belly Dance Maternity, and Figure 8 Maternity. Shopbop has a pretty sweet maternity section for denim and dresses and they typically have a sale or some kind of promotion happening all the time. If you are a little farther along or willing to spend now, you can find some great deals on basics.
Also, keep an eye on Gilt children’s section or Zulily because they often have maternity wear on sale, although I have heard that some lines like Rosie Pope produce lower quality clothes for those sites, so make sure you can return any piece if you don’t like it.
Keep in mind. One huge factor to remember when shopping for maternity clothes is that your body changes every day. Every.single.day. So something that fit you on Tuesday is now a total peep show on Thursday. Heels ok on Monday? Well, Friday afternoon is a totally different story.
Make sure that you are comfortable and covered. Try scarves over shirts that are looking a little low cut, invest in cute flats that are a little big and use an gel insert until you need the room, a maternity slip or shapewear piece goes a long way, and wrap dresses are indispensable. Dress the body you have that day, not the one you had before you got pregnant. And have fun!
If you have any maternity advice to share on stores you liked or clothes you wore to death, leave your thoughts in the comments. Because this is definitely one of those areas where other women are your best source of information. Thanks, Capitol Hill Barbie for the post, and don’t forget to check out her blog, Baby Steps in Heels.
I am looking for suggestions for what to wear to a professional networking function that is held at an outdoor sporting event (here, a baseball game). Men have it easy and can throw on khakis and a golf shirt, but I have trouble each time I need to put something together. Any tips?
Men have it so easy. They put on a new tie with yesterday’s suit and call it a new outfit. Not that I’m jealous…okay, I’m insanely jealous. But regardless, dressing well for sporting events that are also professional events can be tough.
There are two schools of thought on this matter. The first says to wear a shirt that supports the local team with a nice pair of jeans, good flats and a nice, casual tote. I, however, subscribe to the school of though that says you should treat the game like casual Friday and wear a comfortable but presentable jersey dress and casual shoes. Keep the accessories to a minimum and lighten the makeup a bit.
I wear this Loft dress on the weekends, and it would work well for a game. So would this striped dress or this red one (provided you’re attending a Nats game). And if you’re style is on the preppy side, try a polo dress.
If a dress isn’t for you, you can recreate the outfit from last week that featured a pair of chino shorts and a cotton button up blouse. And if you don’t want to wear shorts, and I wouldn’t blame you, try a pair of ankle-length chinos. Not high-wader capris, but pants that touch the ankle joint.
I work in a casual office setting and am in need of a flat black sandal for the summer. I’m specifically looking for a shoe that doesn’t leave my whole foot exposed (like those thongs with heel straps) or one that isn’t really a sandal (think peep toe). I’m also tall without shoes so I want something with low to no heel (I’m a fan of the very low wedge or flats). I went to a store the other day in hopes of finding one, but was absolutely overwhelmed by the options. I left with my head spinning and no shoes. Can you recommend a few inexpensive options? Thanks! Lindsay
I didn’t see much available in black that would qualify as ‘inexpensive’, but I did find a few things. This pair of Dolce Vita sandals are a good choice, or these open-toe, black D’orsay flats from Nine West. In the ‘also worth a look’ category are these gunmetal and black Cole Haans, and these low wedges with a strappy, closed toe.
I’ve been seeing a lot of skinny rings on Pinterest, and I am obsessed with thin bands on every finger. Can you offer some suggestions on where to find them? Lena
Skinny rings are everywhere right now, including on my fingers. Gorjana makes nice ones. I especially like this set of thin stacking rings and this sea-inspired set with a starfish and a sand dollar. But if you’re looking for style and selection, you need to be on Etsy. This tiny chevron ring and this hammered metal ring with open-work are my favorites.
More Ask Belles on a-line skirts, cool weather gear and where to donate clothes, after the jump… (more…)
With the heat and humidity of summer in DC fast approaching, I’m looking to update my wardrobe with a few cool,casual pieces that I can wear to concerts at Yards Park, Nats games, shows at Wolf Trap, etc.. I love skirts and dresses but it seems like so many summer styles tend to look fairly young in their design and prints. I’m 30 years old – I should no longer wear sundresses from the juniors’ section of Target. But I also don’t want to wind up in khaki capri pants like my mother. What do you suggest?
I celebrated (?) my 31st birthday a few weeks ago, so I know exactly what you’re talking about. You don’t feel old, per se, but you do feel “too old” to do or wear certain things. You certainly don’t see me breaking out a halter top mini-dress or slathering on hot pink eyeliner. But that certainly doesn’t mean you can’t wear clothes that are vibrant and colorful, it just means you need to be more conscientious of cut and style.
From Left, J.Crew Swiss Dot Shirt ($88) and 4″ Chino Shorts ($35) // Modcloth Stroll Dress ($45) // Tory Burch Tunic ($275) and AE Skinny Jeans ($40) // Fringed Boho Scarf ($9) and Alexander Wang T-Dress ($94) // Quiksilver Chula Vista Maxi Dress ($60)
Look One. I love the look of a crisp white shirt and a pair of brightly colored shorts. I chose a cotton voile Swiss dot, but a regular cotton button up will work too. And I also love these looser-fitting ‘skort’ shorts from Loft.
This look is more stylish look than just a t-shirt and chino shorts, which always strikes me as a bit uninspired. This look is more polished, and I like to roll the sleeves a bit, pop the collar just in the back and either tuck in the shirt or tie it together in the front. To complete the outfit, I’d add a straw fedora, some tan sandals and a pair of aviators.
Look Two. There is nothing wrong with wearing sundresses in your 30s. Maybe not the full-skirted, mini-dresses with side cut-outs from Target, but a flirty sundress with a sophisticated cut is a great choice. This verdant sundress with substantial straps and a cute shape would be lovely for a casual date or for just running errands and grabbing lunch.
I’m usually not a fan of the empire waist, but I really like this white sundress. This blue jersey tank dress is nice too, and I really like the coral print on this Dorothy Perkins dress.
Petite? I adore the bright color of this printed dress. Plus-size? This printed dress is really cute.
Look Three. Tory Burch’s tunics may not be cheap, but they have a California chic look that is perfect for women of any age. Wear them with white denim or shorts for a crisp summer look. They also make great swimsuit cover-ups.
Want a tunic in a lower price point? I love the colors on this tunic and this one has a classic shape and pattern.
Look Four. On Saturday mornings when I need to pull myself out of bed and run to meet friends, a t-shirt dress with a scarf is my fall back outfit. It’s comfortable, it’s easy and it has a relaxed style to it.
Alexander Wang makes a great t-shirt dress, but if you’re looking to spend less, Land’s End makes a dress with slightly longer sleeves and I love this striped dress from Nordstrom. Petite ladies might like this dress from Velvet, and plus-size readers should check out this adorable Modcloth dress.
How great is this scarf? And at $9, too. I also loved this bandana print scarf and this brightly colored mosaic scarf.
Look Five. I am absolutely smitten with this cotton voile maxi dress from Quiksilver. The embroidery, the cut of the straps, I love everything about it. It’s just so light and airy. This Kimchi Blue dress has a similar look, but a more substantial strap.
If this dress is a bit too revealing for your taste, this one has a v-neck and bright yellow stripe around the bottom. I also liked this printed racerback maxi, and this striped jersey dress.
Learning to dress like a 30-plus-year-old isn’t all that difficult, though it feels like a massive paradigm shift. Focus on finding pieces with bold colors but sophisticated cuts, and remember that as you age, fit becomes even more critical.
How do you determine whether shirts should be tucked or untucked when wearing a skirt or slacks? I have a flat behind so I prefer to have blouses be untucked but then I feel sloppy. Are there general guidelines regarding styles are acceptable or not? Do you have any additional advice for me (besides doing squats)? :)
Thanks in advance! Kara
I almost always tuck in blouses and button-up shirts. I do not tuck in t-shirts or sweaters.
For me, the deciding factor is usually the hem. Is the hem straight cut or can you see shirttail? If it’s straight, I probably won’t tuck. If there’s a visible shirttail, odds are high that I’m tucking.
I know some people are against front-tucking (GOMI calls it the “shame-tuck”), but I think there are some women who can pull it off. And I think it works well with skinny denim (when you don’t want your whole backside visible) or with shorts.
The best advice I can give you, however, is to stand in front of the mirror and try the look both ways. Does it look better tucked or untucked? Would it look better if I tucked this in? What if I added a belt? Sometimes you need to take a minute in front of the mirror and play around with your look.
My teeth are in serious need of whitening. Do you have a whitening toothpaste that you like? Do those strips really work? I’m hesitant to spend $50 on teeth whitener if it doesn’t do the job. I’d love to know how you keep your teeth white.
Thank you in advance! Erica
For toothpaste, I like Rembrandt’s Deeply White. It prevents tartar, restores enamel and has peroxide for whitening.
I’ve used Crest Whitestrips and they do work. If you have sensitive teeth, I would caution against the 2-Hour Express kit. My teeth hurt for days after I used it. But the regular Crest Whitestrips Professional Effects line works well.
At home, I use the GoSmile Whitening System. It comes with 12 whitening ampoules (four uses) and a UV lamp to whiten teeth using the same process you see in dental offices. I’ve also used the ampoules as a stand alone and like those a lot. And if you’re looking for a good deal on them, Gilt Groupe typically has the best prices and selection. (Not a member of Gilt? Click here to join.)
But if you really don’t like to spend money on beauty treatments, Pinterest has a lot of recipes for at home whitening using baking soda and peroxide.
My question is to do with summer sandals. I wore the Jack Rogers classic Navajo sandal in silver and gold before they exploded and now are EVERYWHERE. So of course, I don’t want to wear them anymore. Do you have any suggestions for gold/silver casual summer sandals?
Metallic sandals are my summer staple. I wear them everywhere. Here are a few of my favorite pairs:
Silver. I love these DvF sandals and these Vera Wang thong sandals, both on sale. Surprisingly, the three best-looking pairs I found were under-$50.
I love the embossed animal skin on these sandals from DSW, and these strappy Nine West sandals. But my favorite are these mixed-material sandals from Target. I don’t even like silver, and I think I need those.
Gold. There are a lot of cute sandals in my preferred metallic this season. I like the simple, minimalism of these Anna Baguera sandals. These Erika Sol sandals are modern with a hint of California cool, as are these Rebecca Minkoffs.
In the under-$75 category, I’m a big fan of these BCBGeneration sandals with a mix of cognac and gold. These toe ring sandals look like something from Ancient Rome. I also like these inexpensive Forever21 sandals.
Rose Gold. These gladiator flats are kind of cool. I also think these Loeffler Randall kitten heels are perfect for cocktail hour. And these Jeffrey Campbell sandals are more art piece than shoe.
I am dying in this heat and humidity. How do you stay dry?
Sincerely, Sweaty and Miserable
Two words: Aerosol Antiperspirant Deodorant. During the summertime, you need to keep more than your underarms dry.
What do you recommend using to keep make-up lasting throughout the day? I wear Bobbi Brown foundation, spot concealer, and powder, but by the time an 11:00 morning meeting comes around, my blemishes are showing, and it doesn’t look like I have anything on my face. I also want to keep a somewhat “natural” look. I have oily skin and am very prone to breakouts. Thanks for your help!
Mid-day Makeup Melt is a real problem. But you actually have two separate issues here.
For keeping blemishes, under-eye circles and imperfections covered, you need to set your spot concealer. I apply Laura Mercier’s Secret Camouflage with her special brush and then, I lightly tap on translucent powder with your fingertip to set the concealer in place. This helps my acne stay covered.
As for primer, I like NARS Oil-Free Pro-Prime. It does a great job of holding makeup in place. I also use their eye makeup primer.
If you need a drugstore brand, I have friends who swear by Boots No. 7 Primer($10). And if you’re willing to think outside the box, I keep reading about women who use Monistat Anti-Chafing Gel as a makeup primer, which makes sense since it’s meant to keep skin dry all day.
And lastly, if you really want to freeze your makeup in place, you should look into a makeup setting spray. A friend who does makeup professionally uses Urban Decay’s De-Slick for oily skin and All Nighter for regular skin. And while I didn’t like Mally Beauty’s Poreless Face Defender for daytime wear, I wore it to an outdoor event a few weeks ago, and I was shocked how matte and fresh it kept my makeup.