Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle Roundup Vol. II, No. Eight

Belle –
I just looked at my fall / winter closet and realized that everything is dark – brown and black – ick! Can you suggest a few staple pieces that are colorful and bright? I’m looking at more the Hill Staffer price point.
Thank you so much!


There are very few pieces of clothing that you can wear only in summer (white cotton dresses, white shoes, pastels, etc.).  For the most part, you can mix your summertime brights and bolds into your cold weather wardrobe without issue.  Just layer the brightly hued pieces with neutrals and knits.  But if you are looking for a few suggestions, here you go.

From Left to Right, TopShop Peplum Top ($48) // Splendid Fine Knit Sweater ($63) // Darling Parks Dress ($93) // Tippi Sweater ($79) // H&M Blazer (in store only, $32) // Mango Fitted Wool Dress ($99)

My preference for fall colors starts with jewel tones: emerald, amethyst, sapphire, ruby etc.  Then, I move into muted earth tones: rust, oatmeal, sage, mauve.  Then, I pick up the trendier colors: mustard, oxblood, teal. Just identify the color you like, and then go searching for it.  And if you already have a lot of black and brown, look for pieces that will utilize what you already own to make outfits.

Belle –

I actually ordered the same pair of boots as you (Ciao Bella Tabby/Tad) in cognac a bit ago, and am glad to see that I have someone to ask: how do you keep them in good shape for years?  Do you have a waterproofing system or everyday care regimen that you might recommend for those, and other leather, boots?


I take all of my new shoes to the cobbler before I wear them.  He treats and waterproofs them for me.  If you want to do it at home, Frye makes a leather protecting spray that you can buy for under-$10.  You also need to remember to get the shoes treated once or twice per season, and shined regularly.  I don’t know why so many women think that men are the only ones who have to shine their shoes, but that is completely false.

Hi Belle,

My older brother is getting married in October, and while my day-of-dress is all set, I’m in the market for a dress for the rehearsal dinner.  It should probably be “nice date night,” not too casual but not black tie.  Ideally, I’d like a long-sleeved (or 3/4, or short, just not sleeveless) dress, above the knee, and no more than $100-150.  I’m open as far as fit and color are concerned, though it’s the bride’s night so maybe something a bit more understated.  Oh and, I’m twenty-two, if that at all affects the style hunter-gatherer process… Can you help?!

Thanks, G


Badgley Mischka Sequin Jersey Sheath ($132) // Adrianna Papell Lace and Mesh Sheath ($138) (plus size $160) // Adrianna Papell Pleated Illusion Sheath ($158) (similar plus size dress $99)// Pisarro Nights Sequin Cowlneck ($188) (similar dress in plus size $260)

I think the best place to look for dresses in that style and price range is probably Nordstrom.  Adrianna Papell and other brands they carry make a lot of sleeved cocktail dresses, whereas most other retailers equate cocktail with sleeveless and strapless. 

I especially liked the peacock lace Adrianna Papell in the middle and the Pisarro nights dress in sequined mocha.  If you want to keep things modest with sleeves, I think it’s good to incorporate lace and sheer illusion so that you don’t wind up looking matronly.  And if you want to add some sequins for good measure, I certainly won’t hold it against you.

Ask Belle is a fashion advice column that runs every Monday afternoon.  Have a question for Belle?  Send it to capitolhillstyle (at) gmail (dot) com.



  1. Ellen says:

    Any recommendations on a good cobbler in the area? I live in NOVA but don't find going to one on DC. I have yet to find one so I bring my shoes up to NJ to get worked on when I visit my parents! Anything is closer than that!

    September 17, 2012/Reply
  2. Chill says:

    For Ellen in NOVA: Alexandria Shoe Repair & Leather Service, 124 N Fayette St. I brought them my mom's old handmade cowboy boots…they looked like new when I got them back (and now I wear them).

    September 17, 2012/Reply
  3. P says:

    Ellen – there is a great little leather shop on Rte 7 in Falls Church – Bedo's Leatherworks ( They do great work and are super friendly and helpful. After purchasing a pair of leather boots last fall, I took them in just to ask for advice on how to care for them and make them last, and they were so helpful. I've also brought purses in for repairs and they did a great job. I highly recommend them!

    September 17, 2012/Reply
  4. Caroline says:

    I tried on the H&M blazer (in oxblood, not gold) yesterday and was seriously considering it. I'm petite, and it's hard to find blazers that are cut small enough for my tiny frame, but this one was and the quality was great for $30. I went back and forth debating about whether to get it, and ultimately didn't because I couldn't think of anything I own besides a black dress (or black pencil skirt) that I could wear with it. It's not the most versatile thing in the world, that's for sure.

    September 17, 2012/Reply
  5. L says:

    Tried on the same blazer and thought it was very long on me. I'm not petite either. I'm a very average 5'5″.

    Also, I just saw the pink bunny ears iPhone case in my office elevator. Was the highlight of my generally crummy day.

    September 17, 2012/Reply
  6. LS says:

    I live in NOVA too and I use Sam Torrey Shoe Service on Lee Highway. I've had heels repaired, shoes and boots shined, etc. They also have a nice selection of inserts. I've been very happy with the results and prices are reasonable for NOVA.

    September 17, 2012/Reply
  7. gingerr says:

    The rehersal dinner dresses could probably show up again for Christmas parties.

    September 17, 2012/Reply
  8. Anna says:

    As someone attending an October wedding as a plus one, I'm curious as to what the dress for the day itself looks like and welcome for suggestions for what would be appropriate. Catholic church for the wedding and vineyard for the reception, hill staffer price point, please!

    September 17, 2012/Reply
  9. Caroline says:

    L, that's interesting that you found it too long. I'm 5'2″, and short-waisted, so these things are usually long on me but this one wasn't.

    September 18, 2012/Reply