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

Nov 20, 2013

I have a lot of e-mails to clear out and Ask Belle questions to answer, so this week we have two Ask Belle Roundups.  Hopefully, it will make a dent.

Dear Belle, 

Most of my work clothes are dry clean only and the cost of laundering my clothes is becoming too much.  Have you tried any of those at home dry cleaning products?  Do they work?

Love the blog!  Janice

I tried Dryel, but I found it left a musty odor on the clothes that I didn’t like.  Instead, I keep Woolite Dry Cleaning Cloths in the house for emergencies.  And if you own a lot of dry-clean-only items, you need  The Janie Dry Cleaning Stick from Container Store.  It’s perfect for frequent business travelers.

Update: I should have mentioned this originally, a commenter made me think of it.  If you send out clothes because they’re wrinkled, even though they’re still clean, buy a steamer.  Whether you choose a handheld model or a stand-up model, you can save yourself time and money.  Plus, you never have to worry about burning a dress with your iron again.

Hi Belle,

Are you still loving the Zella leggings?  I want to buy a pair but at that price, I want to be sure.


Still loving them. In fact, I bought two more pair.  The Zella Live-In Leggings are incredibly thick, strong and comfortable.  And best of all, even though they’re athletic attire, they feel like the best cotton leggings you have ever worn.  They also come in plus-sizes.

My leggings have been through the wash two or three dozen times since I bought them and they still look great.  They’re one of my favorite purchases.

Dear Belle,

I’m having a problem that I hope you can help me with.  I only wear cotton briefs and I don’t want to be converted to wearing a thong, but I know I need something to smooth out vpl.  I went to Macy’s to buy a pair of Spanx and was overwhelmed by how many there were to choose from.  Can you give me a Spanx 101 lesson?


Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 2.08.07 AM

In Power Line Super Shaper ($38) // Slimproved Power Panties ($32) // Slimproved Higher Power ($38)

The first thing you need to decide when buying a pair of Spanx is which parts of your body are you trying to smooth and cinch.  The Higher Power Spanx, as you can see, sit higher on the torso and are longer in the thigh.  The Power Panties (what I wear) fit more like tights and are cut off mid-thigh.  Spanx also makes products that cover just the stomach and tush, full body suits that look like old-time swimwear and slips that suck and smooth everything.

The second thing to decide is how much slimming you need.  If you’re just looking for VPL elimination and some smoothing, than the Power Panties should be fine. If you want high-test, you need the In Power shapers.

I like the Slimproved line because it isn’t as thick as the original line.  However, I loathed, hated and despised the Spanx Girl Shorts.  The issue is that the legs of the shorts roll up and create an unsightly and uncomfortable line.  They also don’t do much slimming.  I recommend sticking to the snugger fitting fabric that stays in place.

Dear Belle,

I decided to buy myself a really good hair dryer for my birthday.  I want something with a lot of power that will give me a professional quality blow dry and last for years. I remember your tweets about your T3 dryer catching fire, can I ask what you replaced it with?  How much should I spend?

Thank you so much for answering my last email! EL

Tis true, my T3 Featherweight ($200) died an ugly death.  I replaced it with a Rusk Speed Freak Dryer ($98), which I found by going to the blow dryer bar at Ulta and just trying them all.  It has good speed and power for a fast dry.

I would also look at the DryBar Buttercup dryer ($190) from Sephora, my friend just purchased it and her exact words were, “I’m.OBSESSED.”  If they’re using it at the most successful blow dry chain in America, it must be good.  Also, a lot of people are talking about this new Harry Josh blow dryer.  I haven’t seen it or tried it, but it is in every beauty magazine and blog I read.

I would advise you to spend what you’re comfortable with, don’t blow the budget on a blow dryer, but most of the dryers with a great reputation at around $150-$200.

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  1. APW says:

    I have had great luck with my BayBlissPro hairdryer. It has great power and adjustable heat settings. They sell them at Bed, Bath, & Beyond and you can use a 20% off coupon. Also sold on Amazon:

    • Alison says:

      Definitely second the BayBliss recommendation! I use the Twin Turbo — this was recommended to me by the guys at Ray Beauty in NYC (they know everything about dryers) and this is also the model that they use at Oscar Blandi. Fantastic quality and a great value. I’ve had 3 or 4 over the last 10 years, and they only reason I have to replace them is because of operator error. I’m really rough on my dryers and they see repeated drops on the floor, in the toilet, etc.

      Great tip about BB&B and the 20% coupon, thanks!

  2. Sarah says:

    What differentiates a $20 dryer from a $200 dryer?

    The type of spanx you need really is dependent on your body type. I am pretty small but carry extra weight in my stomach. The spanx that cover the stomach but do not come all the way up to the bottom of my bra cause a roll to form above the band. Best to go and try a lot of different styles making sure to try them under clothes to get a true idea of how they fit.

    • Belle says:

      I think the major differences are motor quality, air vs. heat and durability. Most cheap blow dryers super heat the air to make up for less powerful motors. As a result, your hair gets more heat and becomes more damaged/dry. So if speed is a concern for you, you can get a much faster, less damaging blow dry with an expensive dryer. If you can’t afford that, buy a dyer with a standard shape and width barrel and then buy an attachable concentrator. That will help improve dry time.

    • Guest says:

      I’m pretty sure the dry bar model is just the “Bio Ionic Powerlight NanoIonic Pro-Dryer – Blow Dryer” which can be found on Amazon for ~135, FYI!

  3. CH says:

    I love the Zella leggings. They are completely opaque and substantial. I think they’re intended for sports, but they also look good with boots and a long sweater.

  4. BN says:

    1. How often should I be dry cleaning my dry-clean-only items? 2. The one factor that causes me to frequently send them out is wrinkles. Is there a safe way to get them out (assuming I should not be ironing my dry-clean-only stuff)? Thanks!

    • Belle says:

      Buy a steamer. Even a handheld one will help, it’ll save you a fortune. Saves me a fortune. Should have mentioned that in the post. Drat.

      I send mine out every 4 wears or so.

      • BN says:

        Can you suggest a brand? Or just let me know which one you use? I have friends with steamers who say they dont work and I’d rather spend the money on the proven product 🙂 Thanks!!

  5. Mo says:

    Another vote for the Zella leggings, I’ve had a pair for over a year and bought a second pair 6 months in so I would never be without a clean pair.

    Also, I love my Sedu 4000i blowdryer. Came recommended by a friend at Vogue (for whatever that is worth.) Small enough for travel, too!

  6. Carolyn says:

    Definitely going to check out the Zella leggings!

    I’m adding to this already substantial list of hair dryers the Elchim line of dryers. My stylist of 6+ years (before she left me forever and moved to St Louis, no I’m not bitter) suggested it to me a year ago when she was moving. You can find them on Amazon for under $100 – this is the one that I own and L O V E LOVE LOVE:

    The heat/air settings are very controllable and it gives my hair (a giant thick wavy, but not cute wavy, trust me, mane that frizzes if not dried properly) a great smoothness and shine. It also has cut down on my straightening time when I take the time to properly blow it out section by section with a roundbrush.

    I find it to be a wonderful product and well worth the $75-100, especially considering that professional stylists use them for years and years. Mine is just over a year old and in fantastic shape with regular use. My sister, friends, mom, aunt, and even a few cousins-in-laws have purchased it and we’re all really happy with it.

  7. meaghan says:

    I have the Twin Turbo 3500. It’s $126 on Amazon. Probably more than $200 retail. I love it. It’s also what my hairstylist uses.

    My gym has several blow dryers for community use, all the sort you can get at Target. If I forget my dryer, I use the community one–and you can really tell a difference. Huge difference in speed (the Twin Turbo cuts my drying time almost in half), power, and frizz. I’m forever spoiled. So, for what it’s worth, I think it’s well worth it to pay up for a good dryer.

    I should add that this dryer is heavier than what you’d get at Target–but you can feel a difference in quality, if that makes sense. And, since it’s much faster, I think it evens out. Also, the cord is super long and really durable.

  8. Marissa says:

    If all you’re looking for is to reduce VPL, I would use these instead of Spanx:

    Unlike Spanx they’re super breathable, really easy to put on, and I usually forget I’m even wearing them. I don’t know how well they would work under fitted pants but they’re great with dresses and skirts.

    • Jill says:

      Also, Target has a less expensive version of Spanx. Maybe not quite as well-made but maybe worth trying out as you decide what you like. I bought the lightweight ones because I wanted them for a warm weather dress. That’s a consideration, too — whether you intend to wear them in warm or cold weather. Even the lightweight ones are pretty warm. I couldn’t imagine wearing a heavier pair on a hot day.

  9. Jen says:

    I want to put in a vote for the Harry Josh blowdryer. I know it’s expensive, but as we all know, sometimes expensive is worth it. The blowdryer is much lighter than most (your arms will thank you!), dries very quickly, and best of all doesn’t damage my hair.

    I used to hate blowing my hair out straight because it got so brittle and my arms got so tired. Now I can blow my hair out daily and it looks as good as ever!

  10. E says:

    I was just with my boyfriend at Hugo Boss and the manager said you should not dry clean suits more than four times a year (I also imagine men wear their suits more than women do since they all look the same and they can get away with it!) His advice was to air out your jacket if you perspired at all and to use a steamer to get out the wrinkles. He says dry cleaning suits more that this will cause them to get a “sheen.” I’ve been putting my jackets on a hangar after I wear them and hanging them up on my shower bar for a day or two so they steam and air out.

    • Jill says:

      I’ve noticed the sheen on men’s suits on Capitol Hill. It can happen at home when ironing on the outside of certain fabrics, such as wool. Helpful to use an old washcloth or something as a press cloth and/or iron inside out, where you can. Not that I iron much.

  11. erika says:

    I love my zella live-in leggings also, but I have a white dog and his little hairs are like harpoons and just won’t come out! I recently got lululemon’s wunder under pants in luxtreme. omg! besides being super comfortable, my dog’s hair actually won’t stick to them! in case anyone else has pets you should check them out. they have them on their website, not sure if they are in the stores are not. they are not the standard material – it’s called “interlock power luxtreme”.

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