Ask Belle Roundup Vol. III, No. Twenty-Five

Aug 12, 2013

Hi Belle!

I’m moving to DC in a couple of weeks for the fall semester and I’ll be doing my internship at a lobbying firm. I have to pack both summer and winter clothes since I’ll be in DC through mid-December. I have some office-appropriate sweaters, but what else do you recommend for a California girl experiencing her first “real winter” in a professional setting?

Thanks! Sharon

The first item that jumped into my mind when I read this question was tights.  If you like to wear dresses or skirts, you need opaque tights and fleece-lined tights.  I like the Spanx brand, but my favorite are the Lux70 Denier Donna Karan brand.  I used to buy Commando tights in bulk, but after getting three sub-par pairs in a row, I’ve stopped wearing them.  I also like the Plush fleece-lined tights from Shopbop.

My winter wardrobe is mostly tights and dresses, but when I wear separates, I like to layer my fall pieces with a wool blazer to stay warm.  I would also recommend a warm wool coat.  I’d choose one that came down to mid-thigh and was a little bit big so that you can wear lots of layers underneath.  Lastly, I like high-heeled tall boots even with wide leg trousers to keep out the chill.

Hi Belle,

Any recommendations for organic (or as “green” as possible) skincare products? I’m becoming concerned with the seriously long ingredient lists in my products. Recommendations for sensitive skin would also be greatly appreciated!

Thanks, MC

I think you might be mixing up your terms.  It seems like you’re looking more for natural products than products that are made certified-organic, since those are very rare.  I would start with companies like Burt’s Bees, Yes to... and Simple.  There drugstore brands that try to be as natural as possible.  For a more expensive brand, I would look at Dr. Hauschka and Josie Maran, both of which pride themselves on being made with natural ingredients.

Also, some of my readers have suggested shopping for skincare products at Whole Foods or health food markets.  They tend to stock natural alternatives to common products.

Hi Belle!  

Love the blog and particularly appreciate that you always try to give ideas in a range of styles and prices!  I have a question and I’m looking for inspiration – I’ve got an outdoor wedding in 2 weeksand will be wearing this berry lace dress and these gold wedges.  And I’ll probably just carry a black Chanel bag.

I’m looking for some new accessories – I typically go for statement necklaces but with this neckline I’m thinking of some new bracelets and earrings.  Any suggestions for earrings and a bangle you’d pair with this dress?  I’d like to spend less than 200 and get something I can wear again.

Thanks!!  N

First, let me advise against the black Chanel.  The dress is lovely, the shoes are very light and summery, and a black bag is going to look heavy and forced.  Especially since it’s still summer.  Instead, try a gold, blush or cobalt clutch.  It’ll look fresher and prettier.

Now, for the earrings, I would look at a chain drop like these Betty Carre chalcedony earrings.  The daintiness of the chain pairs well with the lace, but the drops are current.  As for the bracelet, I like these Jules Smith wave stack bracelets or a simple cuff, like this RJ Graziano circle cuff.

More after the jump…

Hi Belle,

Quick question: You mentioned on Twitter that you were trying out the Zella leggings, what do you think of them?

Lindsey

I like the Zella Live In leggings for working out or wearing around the house.  I was curious whether I could wear them under other items, but I think the material, a stretchy poly, makes that impossible.  They’re great for the gym and lounging, but I’m going to stick with C&C California leggings for under my sweater dresses.

Hi Belle,  

I am about to start a fall internship on The Hill and am currently trying to put together my wardrobe.  Last year I bought summer and spring pieces for other work, but they are a bit brighter (ie. teal top, royal blue blouse, magenta skirt etc.) I figure I can tone down the bright tops with neutral skirts/trousers for August and September, but I am wondering, how much color is appropriate for an intern once Congress is in session? Am I stuck in gray? I am nervous about wearing magenta and being too much of an eyesore…

Thanks, Claire

There is no hard and fast rule about color in the workplace.  I wouldn’t recommend that you wear bright neon or that you pair your fuchsia blouse with your lime green skirt, but you can wear color in a professional space as long as you wear it intelligently.

Teal looks great with grey, like these 1035 trousers from J.Crew.  Royal blue is fabulous with black.  Magenta is a bit tougher, but you can try it with chocolate brown or camel.

Don’t be afraid to have a colored blouse or skirt and then mix in a complementary scarf, piece of jewelry or shoe.  Just make sure that one of your foundation pieces (top or bottom) is always a neutral.  Then have fun with accessories.  Just make sure not to wear your bright Chartreuse blouse on any day that you might be sitting behind your boss when he is on C-Span.  On those days, wear gray.

Belle.

Can you recommend a great blush?  I purchased a Clinique blush recently and it makes me look like I painted my cheeks with crayon.  Thoughts?

Julie

I only wear Bobbi Brown blushes.  They has a sheer, buildable coverage that’s always on point and the pigments are really well chosen.

Also, most women wear one shade of blush, I follow Bobbi’s rule (link to video tutorial) and wear two shades.  I wear the deeper plum blush on my cheekbones and a pop of pale pink on the apples of my cheeks (hues vary based on skin tone).  Two blushes gives you a flushed, pretty look like no other.  I also think that her fluffy blush brush is some of the best money I ever spent.  It applies just the right amount of color and doesn’t cake it on.

Dear Belle,

I am in search of a pair of pointy black flats.  Patent leather is fine, but I really need a pointy toe so I can wear them with pants.  Round toe shoes look like bedroom slippers when I wear them with my wide leg pants.  I’d like something under $200.

Love the blog, thanks!  Justine

I haven’t tried them on yet, but a lot of women like these BP Moveover flats for $50.  I also think these D’orsay flats from Carvela are nice if you want to engage in the trend.    If you’re in the mood for suede, these Via Spiga’s are lovely.  And I really like these simple Ivanka Trump flats in patent.

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  1. Megs says:

    MC for organic skincare you absolutely must try Juice Beauty. My sensitive acne prone skin has never looked this good. It is available online (juicebeauty.com) and at some Ulta and whole foods stores.

  2. CH says:

    Also a fan of Juice Beauty! I like their cleanser, serum, and peel. I order my products from SkinStore when I have a 20% off promo code.

  3. SJ says:

    It’s not a high end brand AT ALL, but I still swear by NYX Cream Blush (https://www.nyxcosmetics.com/p-25-rouge-cream-blush.aspx). I’ve shopped around and it’s one of the best I’ve found, comes in a small, easy-to-carry size, and is very blendable. I use Tea Rose and it’s perfect.

  4. Lexi says:

    Highly recommend Spirit Beauty Lounge for great, natural products. http://Www.spiritbeautylounge.com

  5. Kathy says:

    Another recommendation for natural products: 100% Pure cosmetics. I started transitioning away from chemicals last year and this is one of the best brands I’ve found. BTW a great place to assess the toxicity of the products you’re using is the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.

  6. SG says:

    Boden also has pointy black flats, new for the fall; I haven’t tried them on, but they’re on my to-buy list:

    https://www.bodenusa.com/en-US/Womens-Shoes-Boots/Flats/AR591-BLK/Womens-Black-Pointed-Flat.html

  7. BarefootBodhi says:

    I also have somewhat sensitive, acne-prone skin, and I use either water or a gentle natural soap to wash (with my hand-crocheted bamboo/silk blend washcloth), then I tone with Thayer’s alcohol-free rose witch hazel toner. For day, I use tarte’s Amazonian clay tinted moisturizer; at night, I smear on Medicine Mama’s Apothecary Bee Magic (the less-expensive version of Egyptian Magic). Yes, it’s greasy, but I actually find that my skin is smoother and less congested when I use it regularly. I also have a tarte eyeliner pen, and I tend to get Burt’s Bees tinted lip balms and glosses. I also have some lipstick from Hemp Naturals. If you’re in the DC area, Whole Foods and MOM’s Organic Markets are my go-to stores. I sometimes drunk-shop the WF cosmetics aisle when I go out with my best girlfriend, which is how I acquired most of my lip gloss.

  8. m says:

    Glad to see you advocate an alternative to the Chanel for wedding attire.

    I went to a wedding recently where the bride (yes, the bride!) was carrying a huge silver quilted Chanel flap as she did the rounds greeting each of the tables. So tacky!

  9. Kendal Melvin says:

    @MC, check out Tata Harper- https://www.tataharperskincare.com/

    Her products are 100% natural and organic. She has been featured in Vogue, Allure and a few others. I have used her products off and on (supporting my local economy- I can attest, her home base is here in Vermont) and they are GREAT!

    Good luck!

  10. Caitlin says:

    As a Boston girl, I had a little chuckle at the first question’s “real winter” line.

    Scarves will become one of your favorite accessories- practical and colorful.

    • Belle says:

      As a Montanan, I did too. But I didn’t want to be to snarky about it. By CA standards, this is Antarctica.

  11. Ginger R. says:

    Sometimes it gets cold in November/December, but many years Winter waits until January to arrive. A California girl could probably get by with a raincoat-weight coat for the internship and a light jacket for off-hours. Bring a hat/scarf/gloves in case it’s wet and chilly but stay citified. An umbrella can be very helpful.!

  12. e says:

    I love love love the boots. I didn’t know that Land’s End made shoes. I feel like I am constantly on the hunt for the perfect boots (I’m short, with short legs, so many are too tall in the shaft.) Thank you for the tip!

    • m says:

      Land’s End also makes wide version of boots with larger calves, good for ladies (*raises hand*) with hard-to-fit chunkier calves.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Nars’ Orgasm is by the best blush I’ve used. It’s a great shade for many skin tones.

    • Anna says:

      Agreed. I’m pretty pale and was worried it might look ruddy or too shimmery on me. It just add the loveliest flush, and is really hard to over-apply – huge difference from my other Nars blush, Desire, which looks great on my skin but with which I have to have a VERY light hand.

  14. Shelley says:

    As a Californian, I sympathize with the intern. I didn’t mind having to buy clothes for every season in DC, but it’s the storing them in my tiny place that’s a hassle. I had to double my wardrobe. Oh and the layers I wear to leave the house and then entering a store and it’s 90 degrees inside. Or having to take off all those layers to try clothes on if I’m clothes shopping! Ugh.

    And the Simple products contain parabens so I would steer clear of them if you’re looking for green products.

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