Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle: Roundup Vol. 9

Dear Belle,

I just started my first new job, and I need clothes.  The problem is, I hate the generic J.Crew and Banana Republic look.  Do you know of any other brands in that price range that I won’t see on every.other.staffer?


Yes, it does get a bit frustrating when all of your co-workers own the same cardigan/flats/suit that you do.  If you’re looking for a good, Hill Staffer friendly brand, try Antonio Melani from Dillard’s.

The quality of the pieces is comparable to a Banana Republic or White House, Black Market, but the dresses, skirts and tops are just a bit more interesting.  The line is basically a Kay Unger/Nanette Lepore/Banana Republic hybrid.  And it’s my favorite place to find reasonably-priced work dresses for summer.

They have a great selection online, however, I find that the prices in the stores are better.  And since the nearest Dillard’s is in Richmond, that can be a bit of an issue.  My advice?  Find the piece you like, guesstimate your size, and then call the store to see if the dress is in stock and on sale.  If it is, have them ship it.  If not, pick it up online.


I’m the maid of honor in a wedding later this summer and the bride chose this awful mint green dress that costs almost $300.  I DO NOT want to pay that kind of money for a dress that makes me sick to my stomach.  How do I tell her that I hate the dress and ask her to pick something else?

-broke as a joke

While we all wish that our soon-to-be-married friends would choose dresses that looked good on their bridesmaids, they usually choose something that we would never pick for ourselves.  That being said, the answer to your question is that you don’t tell your friend that the dress is awful.

When you agree to be a bridesmaid, you sign on for the ugly taffeta, the odd looking updo, the cheap shoes and the pricey plane ticket.  It’s in the job description.  So you don’t get an opinion on the dress, but you already knew that. 

If the money is truly an issue, ask if you could find something similar in a wallet-friendly price point.  Most brides will understand that cost is an issue, but to make it work you’ll probably have to find another, cheaper mint green dress.  But understand that if the wedding is in less than two months, and if other members of the bridal party have already purchased their dresses, you’re probably stuck.

I have never once worn a bridesmaid’s dress that I actually liked.  Never.  But I buy them, I make them look the best they possibly can on the day of, and then I donate them to Goodwill.  It’s the circle of life.

Dear Belle,

The D.C. weather has turned my skin into a mess.  It’s oily.  It’s dull.  It looks like every pore is about to burst at the seams.  I need help! 

Tell me what I need to buy and I’ll do it.  Money is no object.  I’m desperate.


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Every woman NEEDS a Clarisonic.  Everyone.  You wouldn’t believe the number of friends who wait to purchase this product for like a year after I recommend it, and then say to me, “You were right the Clarisonic is amazing. I can’t live without it.” 

Why they doubt me, I don’t know.  But the Clarisonic is a must own.  And while $149 for the Mia may seem like a lot of money, this thing will pay for itself.  You’ll need fewer facials, fewer beauty products (proper exfoliation = better absoprtion = less usage) and you’ll just look that much better. 

I received one as a gift three years ago and I still love it every time I use it.  So buy one for yourself.  Ask for it for a gift.  If you’re a guy, buy one for your girlfriend/wife/Mom.  Every woman needs one.


    leave a comment

  1. anonymous says:

    I bought a cheaper dupe of the Clarisonic, Nutrasonic, about 3 weeks ago. I don't know if the Clarisonic is much better, but I'm very happy with the results of my Nutrasonic. This was one has a body brush and 4 levels and is comparable to the more expensive ($220?) version of the Clarisonic. I haven't broken out once since I've used it. My blackheads have dramatically decreased too.

    It's available on Amazon for ~$80. I have a Costco membership so I bought it for more because of the unwritten lifetime warranty.

    June 13, 2011/Reply
  2. LT says:

    I knew I had seen that tan dress featured in the first post somewhere before: Length%26sp%3D4%26spc%3D353

    Antonio Melani must be a Tahari brand?

    June 13, 2011/Reply
  3. Ms. B says:

    The dillards line runs pretty much true to size.

    June 13, 2011/Reply
  4. Dr. Jean Grey says:

    Big second on the clarisonic. I have the Mia. It works great. I've never felt like I was missing out by not buying the full size. I think the smaller one looks much cuter on my bathroom sink, too. ­čÖé

    June 13, 2011/Reply
  5. VA Gal says:

    Count me as another fan of the Antonio Melani line. I'm also a fan of the Halogen line at Nordstroms. Oh, and Talbots. For a while, their clothes were kind of frumpy, but I've been finding some good items there lately. And I love that everything they make also comes in petites! There are some things that just do not go through alterations at the tailor very well.

    June 13, 2011/Reply
  6. Allison says:

    Belle, Perfect advice about the bridesmaid issue. I think many women don't consider the real commitment that being a bridesmaid is when they are making it.

    June 13, 2011/Reply
  7. anonymous says:

    Not sure where to post these questions, but I was wondering, as a staffer are you able to bring your own lunch to keep in your office?

    June 13, 2011/Reply
  8. Belle says:

    Odd query, but okay. I guess that depends on what you're bringing. We have fridges so a lot of my coworkers pack lunch. I don't since the 15 minutes a day that I take to get lunch is my only time away from my desk.

    June 13, 2011/Reply
  9. Molly says:

    I looked into the Clarisonic Mia and ended up getting the Oil of Olay version instead – $30-40 and cheaper replacement heads:

    I've been using it for 4 months and not had to change the batteries yet, so that's not an issue. (And I find it kind of odd, but awesome.) Has anyone used both? Am I really missing out? I love it, and can't see what the difference between the two products would be to justify the $100+ cost differential.

    June 13, 2011/Reply
  10. Chris says:

    Big endorsement on the Clarisonic. Totally worth the money, even if you end up paying full price. I haven't broken out since I started using it. Leaves my skin really clean and feels soft, not dry. I think it's also helping some acne marks to lighten/heal. Get it today!

    June 13, 2011/Reply
  11. L says:

    I got my Clarisonic Mia last week and LOVE it. Your many plugs for it helped convince me to take the plunge. I also love Antonio Melani. If I remember, I'll come back and post my sizes for J Crew/Antonio Melani.

    June 14, 2011/Reply
  12. R says:

    I ordered the MIA last night. I found your argument quite convincing.

    June 14, 2011/Reply
  13. Anon says:

    This is sort of a generic comment, but I don't think this blog's skincare advice is written for someone with sensitive skin. I have tried the clarisonic and even just once a week used gently, it irritates my skin. If you have sensitive, oily skin, I would suggest just wearing a powder during the summer and exfoliating a few times a week with a washcloth in the shower. My routine is the same in the winter, except I add moisturizer in the morning.

    In my experience, piling on product after product and constantly trying new things is a skin irritant. It's best to stick with what your skin knows and not overdo it on product. My pores have never been smaller, and my skin tone more even, than when I switched to just powder about a year ago.

    Dealing with acne comes up a lot on this blog. If you truly have acne, Accutane is a miracle cure. I saw a friend go from serious acne to perfect skin within 8 months.

    June 19, 2011/Reply