Ask Belle Roundup Vol. 14

Aug 8, 2011

Belle,

Here’s my question: other than nude heels, what shoes go with a navy blue suit or navy pants? 

Thanks! Lauren

I get this question a lot.  The answer is surprisingly simple, but people like to over-complicate things.

I like grey shoes with navy.  I live beige or chocolate brown shoes with navy.  And, I like black shoes with navy.

Wait.  What?!?  Navy with black shoes?  Isn’t that totally faux pas?

No, it’s not.  In winter, you can wear navy suits with black shoes as long as you wear darker separates (blouses, cardis, etc.).  Don’t believe me?  Ask Donna Karan.

Belle,

I know you struggle with your hair in the D.C. humidity.  Do you know of a hairspray that can combat the weather without looking like I went crazy with the Aquanet?

Kay

David Babaii for WildAid (Amazon, $14)

I have never tried this product.  But on Friday, after dinner at Grafiatto, Miss M insisted that we swing by Bed Bath and Beyond to see if they had it in stock.  Because, as she put it, she dreams of this hairspray.  And that is a glowing recommendation from a woman who throws out lackluster beauty products by the thousands every year.

Belle, 

I absolutely love your blog and has always thought about submitting an “ask Belle” but never knew what to ask.  My boyfriend and I got invited to a wedding in mid August.  I am kind of stumped on what to wear.  It is a Friday night wedding, and the dress is “formal”.  If it was a day wedding I would think a great summer sun dress, and if it was black tie I would think long.  But for a Friday night formal wedding I can’t decide

I need help on what to wear!

Thanks,

Alexandra

To ensure that you are formally dressed, you want to keep an eye on the fabric your dress is made from.  You’re looking for chiffon, silk, satin or an overlay of sequin or lace.  So no cotton and no linen, like you said this isn’t a day time wedding.

The wedding is also not black tie, so skip the full length gown.  A knee-length or just above knee-length dress is what you’re looking to wear.  

If it were me, I would also avoid bright colors or pastels.  If it were me, I would choose a jewel tone, navy or grey.  No black.  Too many people wear lbds to weddings because they just don’t know what else to wear.  Don’t be that woman, think outside the (black) box a bit.

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  1. Belle says:

    Evie- That's why I argued against black tie. Most people who are going for BT will say so so that it's clear. If you wear a nice cocktail dress, you should be fine.

  2. k-t says:

    FYI: “formal” after 6 PM is black tie or white tie. Formal daytime attire is morning coat for gentlemen.

  3. ~M says:

    It's after 6. What am I? A farmer?

  4. mascara_queen says:

    +1 for the Jack Donaghy ref.

  5. DC Celine says:

    Belle, recognize fully that this might be too much for some readers, but I also am a huge fan of a bright shoe with a VERY conservative navy pant or dress/skirt. For example, would love a navy highwaisted trouser or skirt + camel cashmere (or lambswool, for those w/out the dough) T + deep red patent pumps. Or a kelly green shoe with a navy shift dress. For the anti-black + navy crew, also remember that any patent leather shoe changes the neutral black to a color, I think.

  6. Belle says:

    k-t- While you are correct, those are the rules, I don't think most brides are aware of that. It might be a good idea to drop the bride (or the MOH or groom) a line and check.

  7. Evie says:

    For an evening wedding, especially when they have already given the directions “formal” for the love of God don't bother the bride, or anyone else affiliated with the wedding about what you should wear. It's self-involved. Belle's suggested fabrics and colors are just fine. You also can never go wrong following basic etiquette, whether the bride has thought about it or not (as the hosts of the party, the bride and groom – or their parents, or whoever sent the invitation, have the responsibility for thinking about the etiquette involved. If they haven't and are unsatisfied with what you wear, that's their problem. If you disappoint, it will be a five second conversation between them on the way to the honeymoon, if that.)

  8. betsy says:

    what about navy pumps with a navy suit? too obvi?

  9. VA says:

    I think most brides would be happy to explain their wedding “dress code” if a guest asked politely – as long as you aren't calling the day before the wedding asking what to wear. A simple “I know different people have different definitions of formal – are you thinking cocktail dresses or long gowns?” isn't a burdensome question.

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