Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle Roundup Vol. II, No. Three

Hello Belle,

I don’t know about you, but I love Kate Middleton’s style.  It’s classic, yet stylish and her “everyday” outfits never appear over the top.  Most recently, I saw a photo of her at one of the Olympic games. She was wearing a bright blue Stella McCartney dress paired with a simple navy blazer.  

However, I’m having difficulty trying to find a similar dress.  I was looking for something with the same sleeves and to be work appropriate, knee length.  I’d prefer not to go over $50, seeing as the blazer is a bit pricey, but I could do $80, if necessary. If you time, would you mind helping in my search? 

Thank you. Megan


Since you’re shopping in a lower price point, at the end of the summer season, you may need to choose a dress that is close but not nearly identical.  The dress on the left has the defined waist and the bright color of the Stella McCartney original but lacks the sleeves and the neckline.  The dress on the right has the neckline and the sleeves but not a muted color and a shift shape.  

If it were me, I would choose the dress on the left as I think a structured dress will look better under a blazer.  Plus, the dress on the right is a bit more casual friday than mid-week work day.

Dear Belle,

I have a decent wardrobe with most of the “staple” wardrobe items; however, most of my clothing was purchased on a budget and is not of the best quality. I would like to slowly add more quality pieces to my wardrobe while weeding out the budget items.

I still have a limited budget, but I would like to add a couple of high-quality pieces for the Fall. Ideally, I’d like to spend $200 or less.

Do you have any recommendations for Fall clothing/shoes/accessories within this budget? (I plan to ask for the J. Crew suit you recommended for Christmas).

Sincerely, Megan

This is a great question. 

My advice to you, since you do not have a lot of money to spend, is to identify the two or three pieces in your wardrobe that you wear most frequently.  Do you wear your navy pencil skirt all the time?  Does your black cardigan rarely leave your shoulders?  Have those peep-toe pumps melded to your feet?  Once you know which pieces you wear the most, you’ll know which pieces you should upgrade.  

Upgrade the pieces that get the most wear first to get the most bang for your buck.  Then, once your key pieces are replaced with better quality, more stylish alternatives, identify the one or two pieces that you’d really like to have–like a fitted pencil dress or a silk blouse.  

It might take a couple of years to upgrade your wardrobe this way, but if you choose pieces that are well-made and take care of them, one day you’ll look in your closet and love everything you own.  Slow and steady wins the race.


My younger sister will begin her residency interviews this fall and, evidently, it’s an all day production that involves touring the hospital.  She is wearing navy suiting (J.Crew 120’s) and needs a nude shoe – a very comfortable nude shoe that can go the distance.  I was thinking a low wedge might be nice (she prefers to wear a pant suit) but we’re both having trouble locating one.  A low nude heel or kitten heel would work too.


If the interviews are in the fall, I don’t know that nude is your best color option.  I occasionally wear nude shoes with skirts into October, but with pants, the looks is a bit jarring.  I think a chocolate brown, a medium or dark grey or a navy would all be more appropriate, seasonal choices.  Back when I was still wearing pants suits (a skirt is just much more flattering on me), I wore chocolate brown pumps with navy.

Lola Cruz Closed Toe Slip Ons ($108) // J.Crew Valentina Pump ($238) // Navy Court Suede Shoes ($120) // Danielle Ancaranie Closed Toe Slip Ons ($138)

A few quick points, all of these shoes are pointed-toe.  They lengthen the leg line and look better with trousers.  Also, I put up these navy pumps because you asked for kittens, but frankly, they’re a bit matronly.  I prefer, this patent leather Jones of New York pair, it’s a good basic 3″ heel.  And lastly, if you find a pair that you like, that don’t pinch, buy a pair of Dr. Scholl’s gel inserts. They really help.



  1. Parker - Boardroom Belles says:

    @ Megan, Unfortunately this is a bit more expensive but looks very similar to the Stella McC
    and this one is very similar to KM's engagement dress:

    August 6, 2012/Reply
  2. Parker - Boardroom Belles says:

    @Nude Wedge Shoe Seeking : Clavin Klein's Saxton Wedge is super comfortable and available in tons of colors, this is a light taupe that works great w navy and might be a bit better than totally nude. The gray one is also really nice:

    August 6, 2012/Reply
  3. Olivia says:

    For the interview shoes, I would definitely recommend a thin wedge, like the Cole Haan Air Talia Wedge 40. I can walk around for hours in them without discomfort. You can hardly tell they're a wedge under properly fitted pants, because the wedge narrows in the back. Love love love.

    August 6, 2012/Reply
  4. Tanya N says:

    I went with charcoal gray wedges from Nordstrom for my residency interviews last fall/winter, of course no longer on the website (also with a navy suit). I interviewed well into January in wind, rain, and snow so I liked the little added stability of a wedge. And yes, comfort is key, those tours will often be lengthy, walking stairwells and the like.

    August 6, 2012/Reply
  5. J says:

    For the medical resident, I'd suggest the Cole Haan Air Tali wedge in nude or dark brown.

    August 6, 2012/Reply
  6. L says:

    Great news is that the Tahari dress on 6pm is only $42.99 but only sizes 10 and up are left.

    August 6, 2012/Reply
  7. CynthiaW says:

    Megan – I know that part of the excitement of upgrading is being able to wear things right away, but have you thought of upgrading your summer clothes first? Since it's the end of the season you can buy much nicer pieces at a lower price point than if you hit the new arrivals for fall. I don't know where you live, but in Texas we'll still be wearing summer clothes for another two months anyway.

    I pretty much upgraded my whole wardrobe this way – a combo of shopping the end-of-the-season sales and shopping at higher end consignment stores.

    August 6, 2012/Reply
  8. Beth says:

    Pointed toe + 3″ does not equal comfortable in my book.

    August 7, 2012/Reply
  9. Ellie says:

    My 4″ pointed toe shoes were one of the most comfortable pairs I owned. Can't judge a shoe just by looking at it!

    August 7, 2012/Reply
  10. APW says:

    As far as heels are concerned, while I know they are pricey, my AGL heels have been worth every penny I splurged for them. They look fabulous and I have worn them hundreds of times. They come in a variety of colors and styles, and I cannot rave about them enough.

    August 7, 2012/Reply
  11. m says:

    Megan — JCrew has a cobalt blue dress that looks similar to Kate Middleton's. It's $200 but is wool and also comes in petite sizes. It's the Teddie dress, item 47465.

    August 7, 2012/Reply
  12. Sharon S. says:

    I've had a ton of success lately with Anne Klein shoes! I can wear them all day at work and out to happy hour anywhere in DC without feeling pain. DSW carries a lot of different styles of them.

    August 7, 2012/Reply
  13. Jill says:

    Probably goes without saying to break in the shoes (lightly) before wearing for a grueling day. I read somewhere that the Queen (speaking of royalty) has someone break in her new shoes for her. No royal blisters. The rest of us just clomp around our own apartments/houses before going out in new shoes.

    August 7, 2012/Reply
  14. Tsampamama says:

    For the person looking for great pumps that are comfortable, I just bought a pair of snakeskin Calvin Klein pumps with 3.5″ heels and a small platform in front. The snakeskin is an interesting shoe that ups your look and the comfort on this baby is changing my life. I could walk in these forever! These are mine (I'm from Canada) and I got them at half off:

    Hope this helps you!

    August 8, 2012/Reply