Ask Belle Roundup: Reader Interactivity Edition

Sep 29, 2011

Every week, my inbox fills with “Ask Belles.”  Most of the time, I have the answers.  But, occasionally, I come up a bit short.  

So I thought that for this issue, I would let you ladies and gentlemen answer the queries.  This will either be awesome or a giant mistake.  I’m counting on you folks to make me look good, so let’s shoot for awesome, shall we?

Question No. One:

Dear Belle,

I’m 31, and I don’t use eye cream.  I feel like I need to start.  The problem is they all claim to work, care to weed out the losers?


Truth is, I don’t use eye cream.  I throw on a little Eucerin Aquaphor before bed and call it a night.  Hopefully, the readers will have some more helpful suggestions.

Question No. Two:



I’m going to Italy for my honeymoon late October, and I need a pair of shoes that will be comfortable for all day walking, but chic.  I will not be one of those Americans wearing sneakers!  Can you help?  I need something that will be versatile and under $150. 
Thanks!  Jamie

I’ve never traveled outside of the States, (I know, I know, it’s a tragedy…how can it be…yadda, yadda, yadda.) so my expert advice in this area is limited.  I like the Cole Haan ballet flats that Maria Sharapova designed, but some of the friendly-foreign travelers in the audience may have better suggestions.
Question No. Three: 
Dear Belle-

I love your blog, but I’m a bigger woman (size 14-16) and I need some specialized help.  When I lived in Nebraska, everyone was my size.  At least, it felt that way.  Now, I live in Charleston and I’m surrounded by these itty bitty girls.  I don’t want to lose weight, but I do want to dress better.  Any retailers that you can recommend that sell cute clothes in my size?

I know that most retailers (J.Crew, Talbot’s, etc.) sell clothes up to size 16.  But having never been that size myself, I’m not sure how the clothes fit or if there are better options out there.  Personally, I’d locate the nearest Nordstrom’s, make an appointment with a personal shopper and try a few things on.  Though, I will say, that for jeans, I’ve been hearing that the Cookie Johnson jeans are miraculous for women who wear larger sizes.  
So there you have it, three questions that I’m powerless to answer.  If you have knowledge to contribute, please share in the comments.  Please list which question you are answering at the beginning of the comment to make it easier to follow.  

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  1. ec says:

    For the reader looking for shoes for Italy, I'd reccomend Gap City Flats as a cheaper alternative to Cole Haans. I have a pair from a couple years ago that are quite cushiony, and if you add a gel insert, they're even better.

  2. lulu says:

    If you want something a little more heavy duty for the shoes I'd recommend the Privo line by Clarks.

    I'd chose one in leather like this one. Definitely a step up from sneakers…

  3. KLo says:

    1: I've just gotten some Dermalogica free samples & been pretty happy so far, but I don't know if it's the right way to go or not.
    2: I've tried on some Born flats that were really cute and felt like tennis shoes … they might be worth at least trying on.
    3: I'm 10-16 depending on the brand, cut & me. I've been really happy with Ann Taylor & Ann Taylor Loft, but you do have to buy online. However with free shipping, you can get all the great deals online.

  4. E says:

    For the Italy question – The key to not looking like “that American” is to wear boots. Every woman in Italy is in them past September (having lived there/vacationed there during the winter, trust me). I used to wear ballet flats, but honestly – you'll stick out like a sore thumb (not to mention get some horrible blisters…cobblestone).

    If you can find some nice zip-up flat boots, go for it! You'll fit right in. Congrats and enjoy your honeymoon!

  5. V says:

    To Question 3: I'm the same size, and thanks to vanity sizing (love you vanity sizing!) I can often fit into a L or XL or 12 or 14 at JCrew or Ann Taylor loft – I've found Loft to be especially forgiving. Stores like JCrew, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor Loft, etc often have more sizes online. I've had limited sucess at “fast fashion” places like Zara, H&M and F21, but sometimes they have larger sizes. Unfortunately, in my personal experience, it is much more difficult for me to put together a cute look than it is for one of my smaller friends – it's critical that everything fits perfectly and that the cut and fabric is quality. What could come off as classically simple or boho on a skinny girl will just look bland or sloppy on me. It's been a hard fact to learn, but often larger clothing (*not baggy* – clothing that doesnt pull or fit too snug) actually makes me look smaller. Best of luck to you!

  6. Kate says:

    This is too funny, I just wrote an article about not dressing like a tourist.

    When I am traveling I always wear flats. Any cute ballet flats will do. You won't look like you're about to go for a jog, in fact you'll look very chic.

    On my last trip in March, I brought 2 pairs of flats: a pair of black leather Juicy flats (I know I know) which were uber comfortable, and a pair of Sam Edelman flats.

    Sam Edelman flats are my absolute favourite, but can be pricey. The best place to buy flats is Nordstrom Rack if you have one near by, the discounts is always really good. If not Zappos is always a great place to get shoes.

  7. C says:

    Re: dressing for curves. Go here for some ideas. Granted, they're rarely DC-Professional appropriate, but it gives you some suggestions for finding gems.

  8. Montana says:

    Best shoes/boots for cobblestones, city walking:
    I would get one pair of Keen shoes and one pair of their boots. No flip flops or sandals! Beaches will be closed because the water will be cold by then.
    Lightweight cardigan/jacket a must

  9. S. L. says:

    A few thoughts on shoes in Italy: First, flats are great, but avoid the ones with super-thin, barely-there soles. You'll probably walk on a lot of stone floors & cobblestone streets, so you'll need some support–which can still be cute. I actually wore a pair of Rocket Dog flats with a thin-but-not-too-thin rubber sole all over Rome for a week, and then all over London for another week, and my feet felt great at the end of both trips. I realize Rocket Dog isn't high style, but they worked for what I needed at the time.

    Second, if you're going in October, buy your shoes pronto and start wearing them as often as you can before you go. The last thing you need on your honeymoon is blistered feet from walking mile after mile in new shoes (been there, done that, no fun). If you can't get your shoes pronto, take plenty of gel pads/bandaids/whatever you use to prevent/treat blisters.

    Third, for Italy you can definitely err on the side of fashion-forward and more dressy than the typical tourist in DC. So go for the chic (like the flat boots E describes), and have fun!

  10. W says:

    Hey, Italy traveler!! You will be so happy in anything by Merrell. Look at their new arrivals…they are super cute, and not big clunky sneakers. My personal recommendation is the Siren Sport. I went all over Europe in those and my feet never hurt once.

    The maria sharapova by Cole Haan that Belle mentions are comfortable but not comfortable enough for an entire day of sightseeing. Pack them in your bag for something to slip on for dinner.

  11. LM says:

    For the Italy shoes question, I also highly recommend flat boots. As long as you've broken them in (wear them a few times before you leave and even around the house to help stretch them), they'll be your most stylish and comfortable option. I have a particular love for the Corso Como brand. They're not incredibly cheap, but they're very comfortable and will last quite a while. Piperlime sells them (free shipping and returns!) and you can usually find them on Amazon.

  12. R says:

    I know boots are bulky (read: a packing nightmare), but flats at the end of October might not cut it, especially in the early morning or late evening, even in Italy. For casual and comfortable, less bulk and in-style, get a pair of flat ankle boots and make sure they match the color and style of the clothes you're bringing….or even better, wait til you get there! You won't have to fit them in your luggage (at least initially),It's a great excuse to shop, you can people-watch for inspiration, and you'll have a souvenir from your honeymoon you can wear all winter long.

  13. mndaln says:

    I love love love The Limited if you're on the border between sizes…they sell their suits up to a size 16 and are absolutely amazing. Also- don't completely reject Lane Bryant- jeans are AWESOME. New York and Co. also has really great sales and sells sizes up to an 18. Hope this helps!

  14. Erin says:

    For a response to question two, I would recommend some sperry top-siders. I love mine and wear them all the time while traveling to Europe. They are so comfortable, they go with shorts, skirts, and jeans, and they are great in case of a rain storm! I would go for a neutral color. Have a great time!

  15. JP says:

    I am very hard on my flats and so am constantly cycling through pairs, so I have some experience. The Dr. Scholl's Habit flats are by far my fave (I have it in black reptile:–the ever-so-slight wedge gives you nice height, but it's super comfortable, even over a full day of walking. Plus they're much, much longer-lasting than the others. The SE Sam Edelman ones are comfortable, but a little thin and wear kind of quickly. The the AK Anne Sport ones ( are unbelievably comfortable, but despite the rugged-looking treads on the bottom, they wear through quickly too.

  16. Casey says:

    For the Italy ? – I second Erin's advice on the top-sider – I've worn the “angelfish” ones (i think that's what they're called) with a TON of padding, and they are awesome. I've shlepped all around Europe and NYC in them. Also, another “dressier” option is by Corso Como – their new “ballasox” shoes are SOOOO great – It's hard for me not to wear them every day to work. Nordstrom in Pentagon City carries them, as does nordstrom online.

  17. E says:

    Ok I'm sorry, but Merrells? Clarks? Borns and Keens? In Italy? Please don't do that.

    I've lived in a few different cities in Europe and I'll be honest, you can nearly always tell the Americans by their footwear (ie any and all of the above brands). People who live in European cities walk miles and miles every day (unless they're super extra wealthy and then they MIGHT take cabs) and they don't feel the need to wear ugly shoes just because the shoes are comfortable.

    I've walked around on cobblestone streets in any and every type of (fashionable) shoe. To me, the secret is all about the foam or gel insert. Maybe take the insert with you to the shoe store to make sure the shoe isn't too small with the insert in.

    A good-looking boot is always a safe bet, but I don't feel like flats should be excluded – I never had any problems walking around on cobblestones all day in ballet flats and if it's still quite warm they might be a more comfortable alternative to boots. In Paris (I don't know about Italy on this) you may occasionally see French women (generally under 30) wearing Converse or Bensimon canvas sneakers. Those are acceptable if you must.

  18. Ash says:

    #1 Check out Perricone MD's Hypoallergenic Firming Eye Cream. Great for preventing fine lines.

  19. A says:

    If you buy Pumas, you can wear sneakers all day long and no one will think you're an American.

  20. Sarah says:

    Italy Traveler – I'd recommend flats by Gentle Soles – I have a pair of their penny loafers in a soft, natural leather color and they are probably the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn. On top of that, penny loafers are a chic, casual alternative to a ballet flat if youre tired of those. Congrats on your wedding and have a wonderful trip to Italy!

  21. Katherine K says:

    I just wrote a post and think it deleted it, so I apologize if this is a repeat:

    1) Eye cream. A good general-purpose moisturizer is Clinique's Moisture Surge, which I've been using for a few years (after switching from the Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, which I used since I was a teenager – I'm 29.) I've been using it for so long that I can't tell you whether it “works” or not, but I don't have any lines, so take that for what it's worth!

    2) Chic travel shoes. I walked around Paris earlier this year in Sofft flats, and my feet felt great!

  22. e says:

    #2 — Have to completely agree with the boot recommendation. Also, I was surprised when I lived in Europe to see that women mixed neutral boot colors (black boots with a brown dress, brown boots with navy pants, etc) more fluidly than we do here. So yes they are bulky to pack, but you can probably get away with bringing just one.

    Have so much fun on your honeymoon!

  23. H says:

    For the shoes, I completely agree with E, I think they key to not looking touristy is to take fashionable, broken-in flats or flat boots and improve them. I'd start with making sure they're broken-in, and then adding Dr. Scholl's For Her Hidden Arch Supports. You'll never see them even in a sandal, and they make a huge difference. They should also fit most shoes since they don't go under the toe or heel, just nestle in your arch, but double-check before you leave. Target has them for $6, but they are also in any CVS or Walgreens:|13450962&CPNG=health%20beauty&ci_sku=13450962&ci_gpa=pla&ci_kw=

    I'd also recommend Band Aid Blister Block sticks. I get blisters easily and I'm a huge wuss about them, but a swipe of this before you put your shoes on or when you start to feel sore makes it so much more bearable. I keep one in every purse now. You can find them in any CVS or Walgreens, but they're on Amazon for under $5:

    If you get a blister, these are magical, I always keep extra packs around:

    For the larger lady, I feel your shopping pain, I used to be that size as well. Gap is good if you can find their nicer-quality pieces, as are Ann Taylor and J. Crew. But for nicer clothes, I absolutely lived in Tory Burch. More expensive, but also far better fabric, design, and fit. The line goes up to a 14 which fits like a 16.

  24. Dr. Jean Grey says:

    A bit of, hopefully, constructive criticism. Belle, I think you should have picked questions that you could actually answer. Or maybe, one you could answer. This blog was three questions with three answers that basically amounted to, “I don't know.” Or, you could have just thrown up the questions to your readers to answer in the comments, which they basically did. Just something to consider.

  25. annie says:

    re: shoes: the most important part of comfortable shoes is not getting the shoe that's comfortable for your neighbor, but the shoe that fits you well and doesn't pinch or slip in any places. for me, that shoe is the cole haan flat. they're obscenely comfortable and look very nice. i suggest going to your nearest cole haan outlet (killer deals) or nordstroms and just try several pairs on.

    question for E (commenter two up from mine): if you don't like all the suggestions already given, why don't you insert your suggestion? it's not terribly useful to hear “those suck” without an alternative.

    re: bigger sizes: again, the most important thing is fit. i'm anywhere between a 10 and 16. i don't find j. crew dress clothes to be flattering. i prefer business clothes from brooks brothers and nordstroms. they're expensive, but high quality and fit me well. ann taylor and talbots have a wide selection, but they use a lot of polyester and the quality isn't as good.

  26. MidwestChic says:

    #1 I moisturize like crazy, and I have found that Pond's cold cream works wonders on my skin.

    #2 Sperry top-siders for sure! They are made to get wet (read: rainy Europe) and they are insanely comfortable. I second the “angelfish” style, since they slip on… but the “bluefish” style might be better for so much walking.

  27. Nessa,

    I have taken many clients to Nordstrom and put them in Cookie Johnson jeans. They are fabulous. Also, their selection in larger sizes is pretty good. I have also had excellent luck taking my clients to Talbot's. Before you say, “Hey! Talbot's is for older ladies!” I have to let you know that they have totally revamped their clothing and I want several pieces that they have to offer. I put their jeans on a client of mine that was a 16 or 18 and she looked FABULOUS. Like she just lost 20 pounds. Hope this helps!


  28. Belle says:

    Dr. Jean Grey: Did you read the post? It says in the second paragraph that these were three questions that I don't have good answers for and specifically asks my readers to answer them. That was the whole point of the exercise.

    I added what little expertise I had to offer and then asked others to help out. The reason my readers answered the questions is because I asked them to.

  29. VA says:

    European women do wear sneakers – they just wear really cool, sleek ones. I went to Italy and Greece earlier in the year and the most common shoes I saw on women my age were Asics Tigers and suede Pumas in dark colors. I took my gray pair of Asics and didn't feel out of place.

    I definitely second taking a pair of chic flat boots as your “dressy shoes” that could work with both jeans and dresses. I know they're bulky, but roll up tee shirts, undies, etc and stuff them in the boots as you pack to save some space.

    The best tip, whatever shoes you get, is to break them in first! I took a pair of the much-lauded Privo shoes to France a couple years ago without wearing them first and ended up with bleeding blisters on my heels after a couple hours. No bueno and my own fault for thinking it would be a good idea to wear brand-new shoes on vacation.

    My other tip is not to worry too much about looking like a tourist. Unless you speak perfect Italian, have the city map and guidebook memorized, and don't take any pictures of the Colosseum, the locals are going to figure you out, no matter what shoes you're wearing 🙂 Have a fantastic time!

  30. E says:


    … I did give other suggestions. Gel/foam inserts, fashionable ballet flats, pretty boots, and two different brands of sneakers that I see Europeans wearing out and about. And I didn't say I hated all of the suggestions already given. I just disagreed with a select few.

  31. Dr. Jean Grey says:

    Belle, I admittedly did not read the beginning or end of your post. I skimmed right to the Q and A, then spouted off. Apologies. A better title may have helped.

  32. BlueFish says:

    Cool idea Belle! I liked reading through all the suggestions. Here are my inputs:

    1.) I usually go to the drug store and look at the different eye creams, check the reviews on my phone while still in the store, buy a couple, and return the ones I don't like. I'm 31 and use eye cream at night and during the day – one with SPF and then one that's thicker at night (no SPF then). I've read a number of different things about eye creams – don't use regular moisturizer because it can enlarge your skin cells and make eyes look puffier, apply with your ring finger and dab the product on (not on the lid) to avoid pulling the skin, and use one with SPF during the day. Sorry I don't have specific brands that I've knocked off the list – when I run out, I try new ones. Finding the right concealer that works with the eye cream du jour has been more of a problem for me!

    2.) I just got back from a trip to Montreal and Quebec City (lots of cobblestones, construction, and diverse terrain) and brought three pairs of excellent flats to wear during the day – the brands are Me Too, Clarks Privo, and Sofft. I bought all of them at TJ Maxx heavily discounted and broke them in before the trip. I walked between 6-8 miles a day including riding the Bixi rental bikes and running down subway stairs to hop on a train and I switched them out every day so my feet wouldn't hurt. Never been to Italy, but women in Spain and France (and most international cities) wear flats and flat boots during the day and switch them out for serious heels at night. The women I see wearing heels during the day are going to and from work, the grocery store, etc. and not walking long distances day in and day out the way you will be. Bring moleskin in case you get blisters (and to prevent them).

    3.) I suggest this blog for store ideas: – Allie's a great writer and gives women of all sizes good advice about finding high quality items that work with your figure (I think she worked in retail for many years, too). She's also easier to relate to than many of the fashion bloggers out there because she's been everything from a size 16 or 18 to a size 10 and she openly talks about her weight “removal” process post-baby. She doesn't compare herself to other women or put her body down which I love.

    Thanks Belle, this was fun!

  33. C says:

    Dudes! To prevent blisters, NOTHING works better on feet (or inner-thigh rub) than body glide. If you're a runner, you already have some, but if not, pop into City Sports or Fleet Feet or any marathon-gear store and pick up a little stick. It fits in your bag, it lasts nearly all day, and has no scent. At first, I thought it was going to be a fail, but blisters – even in my worst shoes – are entirely in my past!

  34. A says:

    Dr Jean, Belle's first few sentences explain that she specifically chose questions she did not know the answers to, and asked readers with knowledge of these topics to give their recommendations instead.

  35. Nancy says:

    Question No. 1: A good eye cream

    I've tried my fair share of eye creams (my mom gave me some for my 21st bday and I'm now 30). I used to rave about one called Gigi Organics Eye Cream, but haven't been able to find that one anywhere recently…*sigh* My favorite right now is Ole Henriksen Ultimate Lift Eye Gel which is $38 at Sephora:

    Another suggestion I would have for someone looking for a good eye cream is to go to sephora and look at the different options they have there. They are great about giving samples so you can test out different products. Last time I went searching for a new eye cream, I told them what problems I wanted to address and they gave me three different samples that all had enough product to last me over a week for each. I discovered the Ole Henriksen one and have been using it since. 🙂

  36. E says:

    Flat boots can be worn on the plane. A little bit of annoyance during security but then you don't have to worry about packing weird.

    Also apparently there are two different “E” commentators? My bad.

    But really, don't bring ballet flats to Italy. If you do, Italians will STARE at your feet. No one wears them in Fall/Winter, truuust me. Bring some boots and your problems are solved.

  37. Joanna says:

    I actually have a follow up question after reading this post. Can you tell me more about the personal shoppers at Nordstrom?? I've been saying lately that if I could have professional help for one thing it would be a personal shopper but I feel like I could never afford one. I want to dress better and build a solid wardrobe but I admit I'm maybe lacking motivation to do a ton of searching/trying on and having a personal shopper to help me figure out what looks best on me personally would be amazing!

    I'm glad I found your blog recently because it's helping me see outfits together and think of things that I want/need. I like that you include things that I could wear to work as I feel a lot of fashion blogs include clothes that I could never wear to the office. I love your three ways posts too! Thanks!

    Hope you're feeling better!

  38. Montana says:

    I have the best suggestion! Have a couple of Bell's choice cocktails – you won't care about your feet, eyes, or what you're wearing! Almost Friday!

  39. BT says:

    Keihl's Avocado Eye Cream is amazing at night- a little much during the day though. I love Alchimie's Superpulse during the day because it isn't greasy at all, smells like blueberries and absorbs really quickly so i can still wear makeup.

  40. Dr. Jean Grey says:

    JoAnna, I did the personal shopper thing. Overall, a good, helpful experience. I don't think she ever really understood what I wanted or was looking for, but it was REALLY nice to have someone run around and bring you new outfits that you wouldn't have thought to put together for yourself. I loved not having to run and fetch things.

  41. VS says:

    #3) I understand how hard it can be to find clothing in your size, and I guess I'm most curious as to why you don't want to lose weight? Even losing a few dress sizes can make a huge difference in the way your clothes fit you, and would give you so many more flattering options that you're looking for. Of course, staying healthy is most important, and if you are 6 feet tall, then a size 14 would probably be healthy, but if you're 5'4 and a size 14, and you're worried more about your clothes being flattering, and not your health, I'd suggest seeing a nutritionist or fitness expert or doctor to help you – not a fashion blog.

  42. V says:

    Wow VS, there are a million reasons why she might not be interested in losing weight, and they're all personal and legitimate for her. She asked for advice about shopping for her size, not a lecture.

    To #2, I would highly recommend hard-soled boots with a comfy sock and insoles as well. I studied abroad in a city with a lot of cobblestones and literally had bruises on to soles of my feet after wearing flats one day! Boots all the way!

  43. Jen says:


    This post from Corporette may help.

    I used a personal shopper from Nordstrom's recently. I needed new bras, a dress for a wedding, and a suit for work. She had several choices ready at my appointment. When things didn't fit, she found alternatives. She would say when she thought something worked or didn't. She picked things that I would not have picked up myself, and a few of those were really great. Her services are free, but I assume that she does make some commission on the items purchased (she added her own tag to the price tag when ringing things in).

    Overall, I found it really useful.

  44. EAC says:

    For question #3. Seriously?!! I've been plus sized all my life,currently size 16 and have never had problems finding cute clothing. Firstly, all major department stores, from Saks on down have plus size departments. For on line options, look into, Castaluna, Bluzik, ASOS Curve, Simply Be, Igigi, MonifC, Svoboda Jeans, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, City Chic, and Kiyonna (those are just half of the stores I have listed in my favorites. You didn't indicate whether you were looking for business or casual clothing, so you will just have to use your editorial eye.

    For plus size bloggers, check out Fatshionable, Frocks and Frou Frou, Gabifresh, Fatshionchic, Beauty Fash The Curvy Chronicles and LoveBrownSugar. Most of these bloggers skew a little young and you might not like their particular fashion asthetic, but they'll provide some shopping inspiration at the very least.

  45. Jes says:

    VS: I don't think that was a necessary question at all. As a young woman who is 5'2″ and a size 12/14 (or 16 depending where), if i wanted a lecture or health advice then I would not have asked Belle. I, personally, do not want to lose weight because I love the clothes I own, the way I wear them, and I feel very sexy and confident. While my height/weight comparison does not put me in a healthy range, I do run and work out every day and I eat very well.

    That being said, Neesa/Question3, I get a lot of my clothes from Gap, Banana Republic, JCrew, LOFT, and Nordstrom. When I got my first job that required me to dress professionally, I went to a number of department stores and asked for a personal shopper. I didn't buy everything they suggested, of course, but it was nice to see the many, many options I have to flatter my figure. I come from a family of larger women and have grown up surrounded by very, very thin friends but I know what looks good on me and I love my size. Its just a matter of going to a store and knowing what will work best for you (and being realistic in what some stores may/may not offer)

  46. Ms. C says:

    Thanks, Belle, for providing content while you are sick. This is a great idea.

    #1 – EYE CREAM
    I started using eye cream when I moved from a very humid east-coast environment to the dry altitude of the Rocky Mountains. I've come across two treatments that work incredibly well and I alternate between them: 1) PeterThomasRoth, Power K Eye Rescue. I use this when i'm lacking in the sleep department or my eyes are looking a little rough (1-3 times per week). It is expensive but a little goes a long way and because I alternate, a little pot will last me all year. 2) Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado. This feels amazing and serves as my general upkeep eye treatment that I use most nights. The skin around my eyes has never been so soft. Lara, if you have a Nordstrom near you go to the Kiehl's counter and they will give you samples of anything. Then you can try it out and see if it is for you.
    Also, Lara, I use Vitamin E oil or Almond oil as an eye make-up remover. It's cheap at health food stores and helps add much needed moisture to the sensitive area.

    I'll echo everyone else here and vote for a pair of flat/wedge boots and ballet flats. If you want to be more fashion forward you could trade out the ballet flats for a cute pair of brogues. Brogues will give your outfits a little more sartorial umph (umpf?) while remaining a comfortable option. Just remember the most important part: break them in before you go!!

  47. L says:

    VS – You need an attitude adjustment.

    With regards to eye cream, I play tennis with a 40 year old who looks like she's in her late 20s. I asked her what eye cream she uses and she swears by but says don't pay full price. I just bought it and havent noticed a huge difference yet but I am in my mid 20s so I may be jumping the gun here.

  48. Anon says:

    #2 Why do you care if you look like an American? If you went for a jog, you'd wear shoes appropriate for the activity, regardless of how the people around you are dressed. If you're going to Rome and Florence, you will walk more than you have ever walked in your life. If you make the most of your time there, you'll be walking 12 hours a day. I would suggest wearing clothes and shoes that can hold up to 12 hours of walking and will be flattering in photos. Forget about looking European. It'll be obvious you're American regardless of your shoes. And if your fiance is like 95% of men, he will prefer you wear comfortable shoes than complain about how your feet hurt and you need a cab.

    Also, wear layers. I went in January and there were sunny, 60 degree days when I didn't even need a coat. And there were days when my raincoat and umbrella rescued the day.

  49. DC Atty says:

    1. Eye cream. I think it depends upon what problem you are trying to address and even then, in my opinion, finding one that works is like searching for the Holy Grail. My derm recommended Elastiderm and I have been using it for about six months. I can't say that I see much difference, but then my challenge is undereye puffiness as opposed to dark circles and/or wrinkles.

    2. Shoes for Europe. I still remember my first trip to Italy the first 2 weeks of November. We were visiting Pompeii. It was raining very hard and so windy that umbrellas were useless. I was wearing jeans, a waterproof rain slicker (with hood), and mink-oiled moccasins. I was comfortable and dry. A fellow traveller was wearing nice slacks, high heels, and a blazer — she had been told by her travel agent she should “dress up” because the Italians do. What nonsense. I recommend Minnetonka moccasins, Sperry TopSiders, and Naturalizer flats. I also second the recommendation for the Blister stick; I always carry one. Just don't worry about looking like an American; you will give yourself away somehow. (I hate sneakers on principle and never wear them except to play tennis.)

  50. ALC says:

    #3. Calvin Klein!. Their clothes are true to size, flattering, and reasonably priced. Online has a larger size selection but I usually do just fine at their outlet store. ASOS is good as well. I've had mixed experiences with J Crew and Banana Republic though.

  51. Anonymous says:

    OK this is more for people who commented on the shoe/travel question than the person who actually asked the question. I just don't understand why you wouldn't want to dress up when traveling in Europe. Obviously tourists will do things that make them stand out, but that doesn't mean you should advertise the fact that you're a tourist even more by wearing shoes/clothes no Italian would be caught dead in (or by talking really loudly or walking with your nose literally in your guidebook). I mean, i kind of feel like not making any attempt to blend is just asking to be pick-pocketed. To me, trying to blend a bit when traveling is just more comfortable (and probably safer) than sticking out like a sore thumb. And since when will being in Europe automatically mean that you'll be doing so much more walking than you've ever done in your entire life that you may as well just wear hiking boots because otherwise it will just be too difficult? Don't a lot of us live in DC? Where we walk/metro all the time? The Italians are walking everywhere as well, and you certainly don't see them in topsiders.

  52. Aly says:

    Another good option for Italy I think would be a pair of brogues, especially if you already have a well broken in pair.

  53. gingerr says:

    It's pointless to try and look like an Italian in Italy because you will fail. You aren't an Italian.
    The goal is to look nice. So skip shoes that belong in a gym or a river or a ball room, unless you're going to those places on your vacation.

    Europeanwalking shoes are as clunky as Merrell or Keen (well maybe not Keens). I like Merrell clogs because they have a thick rubbery sole. If it's wet they're slightly raised off the ground and you wont get wet right off.

    If you want to try and look European check out Ecco brand shoes. They're from Europe.

  54. Becky says:

    My favorite shoes for international travel, and DC walking, and work, and just about everything else, are my Clarks Un.Beam flats. They're ballet style, but with great support, and they come in different widths. They run quite a bit long, at least in wide width, but when you find a pair that fits, you'll end up wearing them everywhere. I've walked 10 miles in one day in these shoes without complaint. I have the champagne color, which is actually a muted gold. The graphite color is also nice. (I'll admit that some of the other colors look like they could be a bit dowdy.) I travel a lot for work, and these are my go-to shoes: dressy enough for the office, comfortable enough to wear with jeans, cute enough for a night out, cushioned enough for serious urban adventuring.

  55. Becky says:

    Re: Eye cream: After being excited with the results of argan oil hair serum, I decided to buy some pure argan oil to use on my skin. I had heard great things from friends who had lived in Morocco, but I wasn't convinced my skin wouldn't become an oily greasepit. Let me tell you, I am a total convert now. My skin has never looked better, and that includes my eyes. While not exactly an eye cream, it's an affordable and natural option that just might work for you.

  56. k says:

    Eyes, face, and neck miracle potion: Embryolisse lait-creme concentre

  57. Noelle says:

    To question 1, the best eye cream I've ever used (or, the ONLY eye cream that's ever seemed to work) is Skyn's Icelandic Relief Eye Cream. It's a bit pricey ($45 for a half ounce jar) but it lasts forever. I bought it in March and have used it once or twice every day since then and I still have over half left. It's available at Sephora, and they should give you a sample so you can try it out before you buy it.

  58. KC says:

    European vacation walking is different than US work walking. Here, we walk to public transportation (granted, maybe a long ways), walk to work, maybe walk all over the building or walk to lunch, and then walk home. While this is a lot of walking, the rest of the time most of us are sitting at a desk in front of a computer. And at worst, you're walking on 300 year-old cobble streets. In Europe, you could be walking on 600 year-old cobble streets and you walk all day non-stop. It's just not comparable. Italians work too, so although they may walk more than US workers, there is still a period of the day when they're sitting at work. They probably don't walk as much as tourists. Wedge boots are nice because they keep the soles of your feet off of the uneven street, and don't have heels to fall in cracks and gaps.

  59. Jamie says:

    Thanks for all the tips- I'm going with chic flat boots on the plane and lots of insoles and blister block! Belle- thanks for taking my question!

  60. Jen says:

    Great post, even better responses.

    Q #3- Calvin Klein has the best dress and suiting options for larger sizes. CK clothing can also be easily found at discount venues like Filene's and Burlington. Old Navy is a great resource for basics like camis, jeans and T's.

  61. ConfusedEuropean says:

    Re question 2:Just wanted to add that over here, we've been having a pretty warm autumn so far. That can change quickly, but you probably wouldnt want to take just boots.
    And while most people wont be able to tell that youre American from the shoes youre wearing (we wear sneakers too, gasp!), they will as soon as you come within earshot. But I dont reall see the problem with that anyway, so just relax and have fun!

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