Ask Belle Roundup: Vol. III, No. Thirty-Three

Oct 14, 2013

Dear Belle,

My commute to work is several miles so I carry a pair of heels in my purse and wear flats.  How should I store my shoes during the day?  Keep them in my purse?  I ask because I only have one drawer and I don’t want to get everything else in there dirty.

Tips? Toni

If you can’t afford a bag with a built-in shoe pocket, like the Lo & Sons OG or OMG, buy a shoe bag.  You can go for something fancy, or just pick up some nylon drawstring bags.  Just make sure to shake the water and dirt off of them before you store them away.

Another option is to store them in the bottom drawer of your desk.  I used to keep two or three pair in mine.  Much better than having an unprofessional-looking mountain of shoes under your desk.

Hi Belle,

Love the blog and have been following it for a while now :). I found this amazing Rag & Bone blazer that is to die for. It fits like a dream, has just the right touch of edge and professionalism, all over amazing. Only problem is that I’m not sure I can see myself dropping $550 on it. I realize it’s probably a long shot, but I was wondering if you’d come across anything similar at a lower price point.
 
Thanks!! Alexis
The closest thing I found is this Zara combination tuxedo blazer with the leather collar.  I also found this Vince Camuto jacket with some cool details and the leather accents you’re looking for.

Hi Belle,

I’m a big fan of your blog and I’ve seen you work your magic for other requests in the past. I’ve rather unfortunately fallen in love with this trench from Burberry but I don’t have a chance of ever owning it. I specifically like the shape of the collar, length, and the clever hood (something that’s missing from so many trenches). Could you please help me find something in a sub-$150 price range?

Thanks so much! Sonja

A hooded trench for less than $150?  I found this Fly Front Trench from Ellen Tracy–the hood is stored in the collar when not in use.  This Asos double-breasted trench, and this single-breasted Michael Kors number.  Plus-size? Try this Heritage trench from London Fog.

Don’t need a hood?  The J.Crew Icon Trench is what I wear, but London Fog also makes a nice trench for under-$150.

Bonus Tip: If you’re buying a trench, you want the fabric to have some substance to it.  Also, pay attention to the quality of the buttons and buckles. Cheap plastic looks bad no matter how good the styling and fabric are. But if you find a good trench with sub-par buttons, you can pay to have the swapped out without too much expense.

More Ask Belle questions and answers after the jump…

Dear Belle: Can you recommend a chambray shirt that can be worn with both casual pants–white jeans, cords, etc–and also with skirts and pants that are not quite so casual?  I would like to add a chambray shirt to my wardrobe but many of them look sloppy because of the cut or the degree to which they have been “faded.” (For these reasons, I did not have any luck at Madewell, which I know is the maker of the shirt you featured in some November 2012 posts.)>Your blog is fabulous! Thanks. Sally

Both Theory and Eileen Fisher make chambray blouses that have no fading or whiskering, but they’re pricey.  In the mid-price range, I found this Keeper chambray shirt from J.Crew (25%-off with code SHOPNOW).  And in the under-$50, Old Navy makes a decent chambray shirt that I wore for a few seasons, and this NY & Co. pullover looks pretty good.

Hi Belle – 

One of my best friends has asked me to be a bridesmaid in her outdoor wedding in November in Texas. She wants each woman to choose her own gold dress. How do I find a dress that will look beautiful, but not showy? And any suggestions to keep warm during the reception? 

Thank you so much! Emily

For the reception, I would invest in a cashmere wrap.  You can choose ivory or another shade. (For a less expensive option, try this pashmina.)  You could also pick a cashmere cardigan in a shade like wine or a jewel tone.

As for a dress, when searching for gold dresses on the Internet, you actually need to Google “champagne dresses.”  Lesson learned.  During that search, I found this BCBG Morgane dress and this very sparkly Modcloth dress.  I also found this cowl-neck Ralph Lauren, jersey dress.  And this $35 Dorothy Perkins dress with a cool wrap detail and cap sleeves.

Also, if you by “showy” you meant overly sexy, then I think the dresses above will work.  However, if you meant too “look at me, look at me” for a bridal party, I wouldn’t be so worried about that.  After all, your friend, the Bride, is putting you in gold and asking you to pick your own dress.  She strikes me as a woman unconcerned about being “shown up” at her wedding.

Dear Belle,

I’m “college poor” but searching for a pair of knee-high riding boots. I’d like a black pair that cost under-$50. A lot to ask, but maybe you’ve seen something good.

Love the blog! Sierra

Ah, college, I remember it…well, I’m pretty sure I went.  It’s all a blur.  But I distinctly recall using change from the cup holder to buy makeup, so I feel your pain.

As for your boot predicament, I can only suggest boots that look good online.  Whether they are well made with materials that doesn’t feel like a Tupperware bin, that’s up to you to figure out.

To start, I spotted these R2 Honduras boots with a mix of faux leather and stretch, and a cool look to them.  Forever 21 also has these Easy Rider boots.  And Fergalicious sells these just-a-bit-over-the-knee Tiara boots for a very respectable price.

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  1. Morgan says:

    Hmmm how timely. Lo & Sons is 25% off today – code “COLUMBUS2013”.

    Happy Shopping!

  2. Emily says:

    Belle, just a head’s up, the link that says Dorothy Perkins takes you to the BCBG dress. I had a bit of a sticker shock there, after reading it was $35!

  3. GingerR says:

    For the boot shopper. I bought a pair of boots from Target several years ago and have been pleased with them. Look online. I see several pairs of tall boots with “online price” listed, that tells me they aren’t in stores.

    • JBinDC says:

      I second the Target recommendation. I bought a pair of Frye look alikes from their Merona brand and have been very pleased with the way they wear.

  4. SparkyK says:

    Also for the boot shopper – these boots are listed at $100, but they regularly have sales. I snapped up a pair when they were 55% off for a couple days, and love them. I got them in brown, but black is also available.

  5. K says:

    If you’re looking for a long, more formal gold dress, I do actually recommend David’s Bridal. I usually have a problem with their cookie cutter look but I was just forced into a champagne sweetheart strapless gown for a friend’s wedding and ended up finding it easy to alter and timeless enough to keep in my closet. Something basic might help avoid the too showy problem

  6. KM says:

    Just a little advice for the bridesmaid – former Texan here. I was in an outdoor wedding last November in Austin, and it wasn’t even remotely cold. I was in a sleeveless dress for the rehearsal and the wedding and was just fine. Have fun!

    • Cynthia W says:

      Although I hope that she’s in the southern half of the state – Dallas and the Panhandle can be quite chilly in November. As can Houston, but it’s not as likely. We always joke about the RenFest – you’re either going to boil or freeze.

  7. Alexis says:

    Thanks, Belle! Really appreciate it!

  8. Jss says:

    Probably a little late to comment about trenches here, but Nordstrom is offering 25% off on some of their “classics”, including Burberry. While it doesn’t put any trenches in the $150 range… If you truly adore a timeless piece, it might be the time to try investment piece shopping. Only you know what you can afford, but as someone who is often rationalizing that I “can’t” afford something, when I add up my expenditures over a couple of months of impulse shopping on sale items, etc., I could have purchased a Burberry trench, etc. if I’d shown some restraint and a shopping game plan! It’s hard to stick with but “doing without” feels a lot better every time you slip on a piece you know will be with you for the long haul.

  9. Catharine says:

    LL Bean makes a great trench, as well! I think it’s about $130, and very good quality.

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