Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle Roundup Vol. II, No. Thirteen

I did such a good job of clearing out the Ask Belles that I am left with just two in the queue that don’t require an individual response.  So if you have a question for Belle, send it to capitolhillstyle (at) gmail (dot) com.

Dear Belle,

Any suggestions for practical, stylish, simple, and sophisticated makeup/cosmetic bags? I need to replace one I received at Nordstrom years ago as a complementary gift, but I can’t find any I like!

Thanks! Ann

Last week, I mentioned that West Elm was selling some really fantastic makeup bags this holiday season.  So I would definitely look into their makeup bags and pouches. They come in a variety of simple shapes and a versatile metallic fabric with plastic lining, to protect from leaks and spills.

I also like the nylon cases from Marc Jacobs, but they can be pricey, so try to find one on sale if you can.  If inexpensive is what you’re looking for, a friend of mine swears by MOR cases.  You can buy a lovely trio of them for $25. I also like the fun design on this bag from Urban Outfitters.

But if you’re like me, and your makeup bags take more hits than Sugar Ray Leonard, you might think about investing in a men’s dopp kit.  They’re more durable and are made in classic designs with basic materials.  I like this one from Ben Minkoff, this canvas one from Tommy Bahama and this roomy under-$30 option from Calvin Klein.

Hi Belle,
Thanks for the great blog, I work in state politics and really appreciate all of your posts. The question I have is what is the best Oxford shirt for a girl that has larger ladies but is a smaller waist?  Everytime I go to look for a cute button down shirt, I end up having to try on L and XL so their is no gapping but then the shirt look huge on me.
Any Suggestions?
Thanks! Angela

I receive this question or one like it quite often.  The bottom line is that if one part of your body is larger than the rest, you need to buy clothes that fit that part and then, have the other areas tailored.  I am larger on the bottom, so I buy dresses in a larger size and have them tailored up top.  In your case, you need to buy a shirt that fits your bust, and then have the waist taken in to fit.  I know that the extra step of getting something tailored strikes many of you as a hassle and/or an unecessary expense, but retailers make clothes in generic sizes, very few women will fit the dimensions perfectly.

If you are just trying to prefent gaping at the bust in general, try The Shirt from Rochelle Behrens. 





  1. erika says:

    For the oxford shirts question, Rebecca and Drew makes buttondown shirts by bra size (both band and cup are taken into account), so they're designed to fit your bust-waist ratio. They also have some extra buttons in the bust area to prevent gapping. I have not gotten one since they're pretty pricey, but they're on my wish list.

    December 3, 2012/Reply
  2. N says:

    Angela – I'm also quite top heavy and a bit narrow-waisted. I've found Express blouses to have more room up top than most other brands, their v-necks particularly. Also, I'm sure you've heard this repeatedly, but making sure you're wearing the right bra size can do wonders for making clothes fit better off the rack.

    December 3, 2012/Reply
  3. K... says:

    Angela –
    I am big-busted with petite shoulders (32DDDD, aka 32G) so I suffer with this problem as well. So far, the best solution I have found is Brooks Brothers Fitted dress shirts with stretch. I still have to pin the placket, but at least the buttons don't look like they're going to pop off.

    BB Tailored shirts are slimmer in the waist than their Fitted shirts, but they are slimmer in the chest and hips as well.

    December 3, 2012/Reply
  4. K... says:

    Oh, and I second the recc for a professional bra fitting. (VS does NOT count.) Better fitting bras may not make your shirts button, but they will definitely make you look more fit.

    December 3, 2012/Reply
  5. Isabel says:

    As far as makeup bags go, Henri Bendel makes a great dopp kit with a few interior pockets for organization. It's also easy to wipe clean.,default,pd.html?dwvar_135094_color=6366&start=13&cgid=shop_accessories_cosmetic_bags

    December 3, 2012/Reply
  6. Anon says:

    Any recommendations for where to get a good bra fitting in the DC area?

    December 3, 2012/Reply
  7. Ellie says:

    Anon– Nordstrom in Pentagon City did very well for me.

    December 3, 2012/Reply
  8. N says:

    @Anon, Nordstrom in Pentagon City has been tremendously helpful. There is one older saleswoman specifically who has helped me half a dozen times. They also have a wide selection online with free shipping & returns, so if you're a difficult size (34H here), you can order online and return to the store or by mail with no problems.

    December 3, 2012/Reply
  9. m says:

    Count me in too as a fan of Nordstrom Pentagon City. The size I was wearing was WAY off, and having the correct size bra does wonders. Even better, it's Nordstrom, so they're sincerely happy to help and don't pressure you to buy.

    December 3, 2012/Reply
  10. EK says:

    Yet another recommendation for Nordstrom Pentagon City, with the caveat that if you fall in love with a particular brand (for me, Natori) and you know your real size, you can often find those pieces at better prices elsewhere. The Nordstrom fitter, while exceptional at getting me into the right size, also told me that “Natori never goes on sale,” which may be the case at Nordstrom but isn't on sites like Rue La La.

    December 3, 2012/Reply
  11. m says:

    @EK and Anon — Nordstrom also turned me into a Natori addict. I usually buy from and occasionally from Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack — it DOES go on sale. I stocked up during the Anniversary Sale.

    December 3, 2012/Reply
  12. K... says:

    For an initial bra fitting, I suggest you get fitted at least 3 different places. Every boutique (and every fitter) has different specialties and biases, and there is no way to know in advance whose advice will work best for you.

    Nordstrom is great place to start. They have a good selection of sizes and styles and the nicest fitters, but their brand selection is limited.

    Intimacy is great for pretty bras in bigger cup sizes (with bigger prices to match). Great selection of high-end European brands. Pushy fitters, but they know their stuff.

    Local specialty boutiques are often hidden gems. They often have spotty size/color selection, but they are the best places to try on reasonably priced brands in extended sizes.

    December 3, 2012/Reply
  13. Kaylee says:

    Coup de Foudre is an amazing option for a fitting if you're in DC. They tend to carry pricier brands, but the fitters are skilled and the bras hold up well. I bought two bras when I was fitted there and then bought a few more of the same bra on FWIW, I'm a 32 G or 34 F, depending on the brand.

    December 3, 2012/Reply
  14. E says:

    I have to second @K. I have this same issue (36DDD) and have found that I really like the Brooks Brothers Tailored fit. It's the slimmest fit in shirt they have BUT try sizing up. (Really it's just a number on a tag. Cut it out if it bothers you) I've found that if I size up 1 size from my standard Fitted size, they fit perfectly.

    My recommendation is to buy dozens of shelf-bra cotton/spandex camis and wear them under the shirt. I do this, or wear a scarf or vest that covers the gapping parts.

    Once you've been fitted for a bra and know your size try Bare Necessities. They will innundate you with emails once you've bought there, but the sales are awesome. And I prefer being able to shop by bra size.

    December 3, 2012/Reply
  15. Anie says:

    I'm totally seconding Express Classic fit button-ups. I'm fairly busty—36.5 bust, 29.5 waist—and their Classic button-ups fit well in the waist with no gapping.

    December 4, 2012/Reply
  16. balletgirl1980 says:

    For the Cosmetic Bags, I bought a canvas/nylon bag at Ikea. They come in three different sizes and four colors if you don't want a print. So far they have held up great. My small one has two pockets inside and 2 on the outside.

    December 4, 2012/Reply
  17. Phoebe says:

    For cosmetic bags, I really like the ones currently at J.Crew. They are a good size and look quite sophisticated, yet fun. Same with the ones at Kate Spade.

    December 5, 2012/Reply
  18. Katie says:

    +1 on the Brooks Brothers recommendation. I have the same issue, plus I have short arms (not quite regular, not quite petite). I spent an hour trying on various fits and sizes. I found the fitted style worked best although I needed to go up one size for my conservative workplace. (The classic style was too boxy and the tailored was too tight in the bust.) You can usually get them for around $60 each if you buy 2. Otherwise, they are close to $100 for a single shirt. Also, regardless of the brand, you may want to try various necklines. Shirts with a “v” neckline do not pull as much on the bust as crew necklines. BB's Spago cut is an example of a v-neck that is not inappropriately low.

    December 6, 2012/Reply