Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle Roundup Vol. III, No. Fourteen

Hi Belle,

I just bought this dress for an upcoming grad school formal(ish) and, as someone who normally shies away from patterned anything, was hoping for your advice on shoes, accessories, and styling.  I’m about 4 inches shorter than the model, so the dress hits me a wee bit lower on the calf.

Thank you – love the blog! Kay

First off, avoid the hideous, clunky wedges the model is wearing.  *shudder*  Also, it’s important that you decide where you want the dress to hit you.  I would suggest having it tailored so that it is just lower than your knees.  This should be a fairly inexpensive alteration.

As for styling, I would choose a pointy-toe heel, as opposed to a round one.  This dress is sleek and sexy, and it needs a pointier toe.  I found this pump in a printed, black sheer; it’s an interesting take on a classic.  I also like the black crystals on this under-$40 pump.  If you want to bring in the ankle strap trend, these black pumps with a pewter toe-cap are chic.  And I also found these black, leather pumps with a low-cut vamp for a more modern feel.

A clutch is the right bag for this.  I’d suggest black or grey.  This black clutch has monochromatic sparkles, so if you choose that, a plain shoe is best.  I also liked these pleated box clutch with a lucite “stone” on top.  And this $40 grey clutch has a similar embellishment and a faux-snakeskin texture.

For the jewelry, I would wear a long black earring and a black ring.

Hi Belle,

Love your blog! I recently gained about 5-10 pounds, and while I don’t have a problem with how I look (and have barely moved up one size), my clothes have obviously started to fit a bit more tightly. I’m a little too bootylicious for all but two of my suits, and as junior staff at my company I prefer to dress a bit more formally than the wrap dress + blazer I’ve been rocking lately. Is there anything I can do short of purchasing an all-new suit wardrobe?

Thanks, E

You have two options, but they hinge on one question:  Will you stay 5-10lbs heavier for longer than a couple of months?  If so, then you should have your suits let out.  A decent tailor should be able to give you extra room provided there are seam allowances large enough.  If not, then the solution is shapewear.

I have yet to drop the weight that I gained in the latter part of 2012, so I’ve been wearing Spanx again.  The shapewear you choose depends on where you’ve gained the weight.  If it’s in your waist-area, then you should try a high-waist shaper with or without thigh-shaping.  If it’s in your hips and thighs, you can try the Spanx “power” shaper or a contouring slip.  However, if you’d like all-over shaping, you can try the shoulder-to-knees suit.

Also, I would recommend buying a larger-sized suit at a consignment store or from the sale rack.  When you lose the weight, you can have it taken in to fit.


Can you give me some suggestions for non-cakey bronzers with a natural color?  I want to look sun-kissed, not Jersey Shore.

Thanks! Mer

For the money, I don’t think you can go wrong with a Bobbi Brown bronzer.  Whether you choose matte or shimmer brick, a light application will give you the perfect amount of bronze.  Need a drugstore choice?  I’ve heard good things about Rimmel London’s bronzer.

Bronzer, however, is mostly about how you apply it.  For bronzer, you want a full brush with soft, plush fibers.  This will give you a lighter sweep.  I like this poufy one from The Body Shop.  Or, if you have a steadier hand, try a fan brush.

As for where to apply it, some women make the mistake of applying it to the entire face, but this is incorrect.  This how-to will show you how to apply bronzer and blush so you get a more natural look.

More Ask Belle responses after the jump…

Dear Belle, 

I’m wondering if you know of a resource for scoring some good-quality, non-frumpy clip-on earrings.  I have some pretty intense allergy issues (even the hypoallergenic earrings are a no-go for me) so if I’m going to wear them at all, they have to be clip-on.
Love your blog, Ginger
Both Kate Spade and Anne Klein make simple, faceted studs.  I also like these Anne Klein shell-shaped earrings, and these Vince Camuto chevron earrings (both come in silver and gold).  These two-step drops are pretty, as are these three-step drops.  And if you want color, I like these orange ones, these pink hoops and these cluster earrings with seafoam accents.

Hi Belle,

Would love your help with accessories, an area where I feel my knowledge is lacking.
I am a 5’4″ plus-size woman and the attached photo is the dress I’m wearing this Memorial Day weekend to my brother’s wedding. It’s an informal affair.  What would you suggest for jewelry?  Definitely want a bracelet, no bangles because the jingles will be distracting. Post earrings and necklace or no necklace and bigger earrings? Should I try to match the turquoise and/or red or go with silver?
Thank you, Kate

For a bracelet, I would try a gold cuff, but I’d spend less than-$100.  This large gold cuff is chic, but if it’s too much, I would try this geometric cuff.  I also like this wave bangle and this twisted cuff.  But this bubbly-filigree cuff is my favorite.

Also, since the dress has so much color and pattern, I would skip the necklace.  Instead, how about a red earring?  I like these bamboo hoops, these straight drops and these more opulent drops.  If you want studs, try these or these. 



  1. Leigh says:

    Belle, do you never have rolling issues with your shapewear? I can’t wear anything that isn’t a full ‘suit’ because it either rolls up or rolls down. Could this be a size issue?

    April 29, 2013/Reply
  2. Belle says:

    Leigh, sometimes I do. Mostly in the stomach area. I find it is worst when I’ve put on a bit more weight than usual, so maybe you need to size up?

    April 29, 2013/Reply
  3. HH says:

    Ginger: If you haven’t already looked for vintage clip-on earrings, they can be a great option. I have pierced ears, but I like to wear clip-on earrings because you can wear larger earrings without your earlobes being stretched in an odd way. Perhaps something like one of these?

    April 29, 2013/Reply
  4. B says:


    If you can make it to Old Town, there are several antique stores FILLED with super cute vintage clip on earrings. I found a great pair of Dior ones there a few years ago. The best part is that they are all really reasonably priced- usually $15-$30

    April 29, 2013/Reply
  5. Dulcinea says:

    My favorite bronzer application tip is to put on a pair of sunglasses and very lightly apply the bronzer around the bottom and top of them, as well as your nose/temples (or just use the sunglasses to make a mental outline of where the bronzer should go, then take them off so your color vision isn’t skewed).

    The idea is to look like you have been cruising around in your convertible wearing sunglasses, and just gotten a bit of sun-kissed glow.

    April 29, 2013/Reply
  6. GingerR says:

    I buy shape-ware a size bigger. For me it’s less about squeezing me down a size than it is smoothing and tightening. The extra size helps it be comfortable enough I can stand to wear it all day.

    Generally I think that if you’ve gained weight, it’s better to move up a size, or two. Nothing looks tackier than a gal squeezed into a dress that’s too small. Too tight clothes are uncomfortable to wear, get stretched and torn across the backside and don’t present the kind of cool, competent look that a professional woman needs to project.

    April 29, 2013/Reply
  7. Beth says:

    Errrr, are those wedges hideous with that dress or hideous period no matter what? What if they were wine colored? Just wondering.

    April 30, 2013/Reply
    • Belle says:

      To me, the wedges are so huge and clunky and heavy that they swallow her up. All I can look at is the bricks she’s wearing on her feet. If they were lower and sleeker, okay, but at that height, in that style, they are a bad contrast with such a light, sleek dress.

      April 30, 2013/Reply
  8. Beth says:

    PS. I have found, almost always, that 7 pounds equals one size. For me. For years. 5 pounds is almost a size and 10 pounds is definitely one size. Unless her clothes were loose at her current size and she grew into them.

    April 30, 2013/Reply
  9. Pancakes says:

    For the clip on earrings: I’ve never tried these, so I don’t know if they work, but there are such things as clip on earring converters that snap onto a pierced earring back and make them clip-ons. I have no idea about the mechanism, but I did see some when I was at Claire’s the other day. I promise I was looking for extra earring backs there…not shopping for rainbow skull jewelry.

    April 30, 2013/Reply
  10. Alicia says:

    Speaking as someone with metal sensitivity issues, the problem is likely nickel. Even hypoallergenic earrings contain it. (In fact “hypoallergenic” is a marketing tool as far as I can tell). Try looking for earrings made of titanium or niobium. I’ve had decent luck on Etsy finding cute nickel-free earrings. Bare in mind that titanium and niobium are more expensive metals and you’ll likely be paying for hand-crafted items, so prepare to spend more than you would in a regular store.

    May 3, 2013/Reply