Ask Belle Roundup Vol. III, No. Eleven

Apr 9, 2013

Hi Belle,

Now that the weather is finally pleasant and warm, I’m going to be walking to work much more often. I would love to find a pair of shoes that are supportive and breathable, but not fashion faux-pas (of the white tennis shoe variety). Do you have any suggestions for cute commuting shoes?

Thanks! KH

If breathability is an issue, I would start with the Geox brand.  The soles are rubber, so they absorb shock making them comfortable.  They also are perforated so air will circulate and keep your feet dry and comfortable.  I love these beige ballet flats with a black toe cap, these beige and snakeskin flats and these gray toe cap flats.

I also found these open-toe black flats with a modern bow accent that would be lovely for work.

I’m always looking at women’s shoes on my commute to see what they’re wearing.  I see a number of women in shoes from French Sole, others in Yosi Samra flats and a lot of (mostly Southern) ladies in driving mocs.  I also see TOMS ballet flats quite frequently.

As for myself, I just bought these Corso Como flats.  I’m still breaking them in, but so far, so good.

Hi Belle!

Love the blog! 

I was wondering if you could offer me a little help with graduation dresses. I graduate from The Catholic University of America, here in the District, in May. I am looking for a dress to wear under my cap and gown for graduation Saturday 5/18 and that I can then wear to dinner with my family (I made a reservation at La Tomate).

Suggestions? Thanks. Sarah

First off, I give the same advice to all ladies graduating this year, no.strapless.dresses.  You’ll get hot, remove your cardigan and then you’ll look naked in nearly every photo you take.

Secondly, when possible, buy a natural fabric.  It’s not easy, but it can be done.  And if you’re graduation is outside (it’s so wrong how many D.C. schools hold this event outside), a breathable fabric is critical.  (If it’s not possible, spray your dress with a vodka and water dilution, purchase aerosol deodorant, go sleeveless and carry baby wipes and a mini-deodorant for touch ups.)

For your situation, you can’t do better than a cotton sheath.  Choosing a timeless and classic piece like this will allow you to express your personality through accessories while dressing for the occasion.  I LOVE this white lace sheath with waist detail that comes in regular and petites.  This printed sheath with contrast belt is also fantastic.  I also like this cobalt petite sheath with pleated shoulder.

Frankly, almost anything in the Nordstrom “work dress shop” would be a good choice.  But remember that this is also a party, so wear something that feels celebratory to you.

Hi Belle,

It’s about to be summer (though the weather might currently disagree). Where are good places to buy cute/conservative one pieces besides JCrew? I’m no longer young/skinny enough to pull off a bikini but the JCrew one piece selection is already running out of colors and sizes.

Thanks, Monica

My squishy mid-section will need a one piece this year as well.  Too many Girl Scout cookies, not enough time to work out.  That’s for sure.  And while J.CREW has some lovely options (I like this one and this one), they do sell out somewhat quickly.

Shopbop has a lot of stylish one pieces, though they tend to be on the pricey side.  Zappos also has a lot of athletic and style options.  I can find anything at Nordstrom.  Also, if you want a one-piece with a bit of sex appeal, try PacSun.  I especially like this one with a flouncy top to give me the illusion of cleavage, emphasis on illusion.

Also, don’t forget about the tankini.  They were big in the 90s for their more modest two-piece look, and Victoria’s Secret has some nice choices in this style.

Belle, 

If you could only have three skincare products, which three would you choose?

Cierra

I cannot live without my iS Clinical Active Serum.  It has great anti-aging benefits, and it really helps keep my acne flare ups to a minimum.  It’s my favorite product.

I would also choose my Ole Henriksen Express the Truth moisturizer; it’s nourishing without being too heavy.  And I love, love, love Kiehl’s Creme de Corps body lotion.  I used to have really dry skin, and it gave me the baby softest skin ever.

Oh, and if I could get a skincare tool to go with all of that, it’s the Clarisonic with the acne brush head and the acne soap.  If you have breakouts, even if you don’t buy the machine, buy the soap.  It’s the only acne soap that I’ve ever used that clears skin but doesn’t turn it flaky and dry.

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  1. Kristin says:

    I had a baby last year, so I’ve been wearing one pieces as well. Boden has really cute one pieces and tankinis. They are made well are very flattering!

  2. Anna says:

    Alcohol and water solution? Intriguing. Please explain!

  3. SQC says:

    Question about commuting shoes. I walk to work two miles each way. Those flats are cute and look like they have rubber soles, but they’re too thin and lack enough structure to walk four miles a day in. (Not to mention whenever I wear shoes like that they get scuffed up badly really quickly.) Clark and Merrell make shoe models that are supportive but not exactly tennis shoes. But they’re still pretty ugly and stick out like a sore thumb. Would love to hear from people who have better commuting shoe ideas.

  4. SQC says:

    Oops, take back my previous reply. I see a couple brands there I haven’t tried yet that look like they could be good.

  5. Andrea says:

    Love Lands’ End suits- I got this on in store (in Sears) but looks like it is only available online in plus-sizes now. https://www.landsend.com/pp/womens-plus-size-lela-beach-bandeau-one-piece-swimsuit~238645_-1.html

  6. Valerie says:

    I second Belle’s recommendation for Victoria’s Secret tankinis. They’re good because you can buy the top and bottom in two different sizes (if you’re bustier on top but smaller in the hips, or vice versa). Some of the tankini top designs even allow you to fit by bra size.

  7. Jill says:

    Ditto Bella’s point to stay cool for graduation in DC. I dressed my son in an adorable outfit for my law school graduation, and it was soooo hot, his grandma ended up taking off his pants so he wouldn’t overheat. So every picture I have with him, he’s bottomless!

    I don’t recommend the bottomless look for CHS readers, but for a 2-year-old boy it was okay.

    • r says:

      The first time I read this comment, I thought you wrote: “I dressed my son… for HIS law school graduation.” That turned even weirder when I got to the pants-removal line! Glad to hear he’s only 2 🙂

  8. SG says:

    I agree with Belle’s recommendations for commuter flats, and would add the J. Crew Cece leather ballet flats as well:

    https://www.jcrew.com/womens_category/shoes/ballets/PRDOVR~64408/64408.jsp

    They breath well enough (I have worn them when needing to walk a total of 3 miles every day to and from public transportation in the summer), and they hold up very, very well. They have good support for regular-arched feet. I’ve had my pair for about 2.5 years and they still look and feel lovely. Plus, the leather is soft enough that it will stretch just enough to accommodate your feet, but not so much that your feet will start to flip out of them.

  9. Yang says:

    I love your site, eventhought I don’t work in Capital Hill. I work in Finance in LA and still appreciate your advice. I like the Banana Republic Ashley Bow Flats. I’m also a huge fan of the Brazillian brand Melissa. They are the cuter versions of crocs.

  10. Vivian says:

    iS serums are incredible. Last summer my neck was irritated from a new dress and resulted in an itchy rash/blemish situation. The iS clinical serum helped it within 1 day! It is pricey but worth it if you have problem skin.

  11. The GEOX flats are wonderful. I work in the legal sector and love them to pieces. They are perfect for my short walk from my parking garage to my government building!

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