Ask Belle Roundup Vol. III, No. Forty-One

Dec 9, 2013

Hi Belle!

I’m looking for some good winter accessories. I love the idea of a cashmere hat, but am picturing my hair either standing straight up from static or completely plastered to my head. I’m considering ear warmers, but most of the ones I’ve found have either been puffy hot pink disasters or super masculine and ugly. Do I just need to deal with having frozen ears?

Hope you can help! Barbara

If you’re sold on ear warmers, I like these cashmere-blend Ralph Lauren earmuffs ($58).  I’ve also seen a number of fur and faux-fur muffs on the market.  Or just go for the classic reverse ear-warmer, and choose this Winterlude faux-suede one.

Prefer a hat?  There a few styles to consider.  I’m partial to this Jonathan Adler beret.  I also like this Laneus cable-knit beanie and this very sleek Coldwater Creek cloche.  As for that static problem you mentioned…


How do you fight staticy winter hair?  I look like I stuck my finger in a light socket.

Thx! Alex

Static is a pervasive and annoying problem during the colder months, but there are a few solutions.

Dryer sheets can help you control staticky hair, just rub them on your combs and brushes.  Frizz-reducing products, like Moroccan Oil Frizz Control, will also help.  If I’m in a bind, I’ll rub a little lotion on my hands and then run my fingers through my hair.  And if you’re struggling with static on your clothes, don’t forget to keep a small can of Static Guard in your desk.

Dear Belle,

Thank you for your posts on holiday party attire.  I’m searching for a sequin blazer to wear to a party.  I’m looking for one that costs less than $150.  Thanks a bunch!


Sequin blazers look great paired with simple cocktail dresses or a silk tank and jeans.  If you’d like a fully sequined blazer, I found this collarless Michael Kors blazer.  I also like this silver jacket with a black collar from DEPT.

You could also try a blazer with a sequin collar, like this one from Grace Elements or this white one from BB Dakota (also in plus-size).  Or go for a blazer with sequin sleeves, like this one from Mango.

Hi Belle,

Now that I’m out of the “broke college girl” phase in which I only used soap, hand lotion, and the occasional bottle of Apricot Scrub on my face, I’d like to start a real skincare (a good cleanser, moisturizer, toner, maybe a Clarisonic, etc.) for my face. However, with so.many.options out there, I’m having a hard time deciding what expensive products are worth it and which ones aren’t. Could you give some advice for building an initial skincare plan? I have combination skin that is mostly clear, but gets some acne when the seasons change.

Thank you thank you!


Let’s start with face wash.  You don’t need to splurge on soap unless you have a specific skin concern like rosacea, eczema or acne.  For your first time out, try Cetaphil or the mild cleanser from Clinique.

If you like masks, I would recommend the Origins Charcoal Mask or the either the GlamGlow purifying mask or the scrubbing mask.  Then, if you’re in your late 20s, I would spend some money on a serum.  I like Skinceuticals and isClinical.  Serums are used for anti-aging and aid cell regeneration.  If you’re over 30, it’s time to choose a serum  or gel with retinol.

Beyond that, you can decide whether you want to spend a lot or a little on moisturizer.  I have sensitive skin, so I splurge a bit on an Ole Henriksen moisturizer with antioxidants.  If your skin has no special concerns, save a bit, and try Cerave facial moisturizer or Simple protecting moisturizer with SPF.  (If you don’t want to wear separate sunscreen, find a facial lotion with it built-in.)

If you want to start a new skin regimen, you can also buy a set from the same brand.  I think Philosophy, Ole Henriksen or Origins would be a good place to start.  All of these kits provide the basics to get you started.


My new job requires a lot of travel.  My old suitcase isn’t small enough to fit in the overhead and my employer hates waiting at baggage claim.  Do you have a favorite carry-on bag?

Thank you, love your blog.  V

I don’t travel as much as some CHS readers, but I definitely have a favorite.  The glories of the Samsonite Spinner Collection cannot be overstated.  Whenever I have to travel with my other suitcase, I wonder how I ever lived without multi-directional spinning wheels.  I own this cloth suitcase, but I’ve been considering upgrading to one with a hard outer shell.

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  1. I don’t really get how a cloche or a beret can really keep your ears warm (which is also my concern), because it just covers your head but maybe I am missing something.

    As someone who lives in Canada (just got snow today!), earmuffs are best for when it is cold but not snowing (snow melts on your hair and then you freeze).

    A hat for me is the only way to go but something not tight and stretchy would be these fur bomber hats that keep the snow off but don’t squish your hair down.

    I myself have a cashmere cap and a coat with a hood on it so my ears stay warm but my head also stays dry.

    As for carry-on bags, I second the recommendation for a 360-wheel spinner. They are SO much easier to drag through the terminals. My only gripe with them is they don’t come with brakes for the wheels, so if you use the metro like I do, they kind of slide all over the place on the bus or subway while you struggle to hold them still.

  2. Addison says:

    I rarely wear hats but recently decided it was too darn cold to walk to work without one. I tried on several styles that I thought looked stupid on until I found a slouchy beret. It has elastic all the way around, but my fine, naturally curly hair still looked presentable after a little fluffing. It’s also made out of a chenille type material which I think creates less static.

    • A.J. says:

      also have fine/curly hair and my favorite is a chenille slouchy beret. (winter cred: Southerner living in Norht Dakota.)

  3. BN says:

    The BEST earmuffs are by 180s — they are sleek, many have headphones built in or bluetooth capability, and they won’t mess up your hair. Plus, they collapse for easy storage in your pocket. (No, I do not work for them — I just have a few pairs and love their product!)

  4. Christine says:

    Frequent travelers should invest in a good carry-on suitcase, such as Tumi, Hartmann, L.L. Bean, or others (not Samsonite). These bags will last much longer and work better than less expensive brands, which will save you money and hassle in the long-run. They also come with excellent warranties. Look for one that’s expandable, has a secure place for your suits, and doesn’t weigh too much. Four wheels are nice but not essential. Check them out at a store, then look for online deals or outlets to save $100+. My Hartmann is still going strong after 7 years. The handle broke once, but the company fixed it for free; they can also repair other parts as needed.

    • FF says:

      Hartmann is a good brand, but LL Bean is made by the same company who makes Samsonite. Most luggage brands are made by the same two Asian manufacturers.

      I logged 200k+ in miles this year and my Samsonite luggage held up fine. I’ve found that if you carry on and you don’t overstuff your suitcase, it will look new and be in good shape for a longer period of time.

      • Christine says:

        Thanks FF, that’s good to hear about your experience with Samsonite. I’d heard other stories about having to throw luggage away after only a year. My recommendation of LL Bean was based largely on their amazing warranty policy of replacing anything that does not hold up, anytime.

  5. Christine says:

    This is for V who asked about suitcases — check out Road Warriorette’s blog here:

    A few years ago I started a job that required regular travel and I struggled with everything from what to pack to what to put it in to whether to check it. Anyway, Road Warriorette was a life saver. She travels a ton for work and reviews/recommends particular products and also provides guidance on what/how to pack most effectively.

    • Thank you Christine!!

      I have the Victorinox Werks 20in, and love it. It’s so light, but holds so much. I also love my Lo and Sons OG bag and would recommend it to anyone who travels.

  6. Lindsay K says:

    My work requires extensive international travel, often to locations without easy access to laundry/dry cleaning. My go-to is a Heyes roller (I’m constantly shocked how much the 20″ fits while still being a carry-0n), my Lo & Sons OMG bag, and a folding suit holder(which fits inside the carry-on. I use a simple eagle creek version from the container store.

  7. Anna says:

    It’s my dream to find a headband, preferably cashmere, with a button, snap, or velcro closure. All the cute ones I’ve seen don’t come apart, so you have to slide them off, messing up your hair and creating even more static.

    • Whitney says:

      I would avoid Velcro – If it doesn’t perfectly line back up you will continually be catching your hair on it.

      • Anna says:

        I agree, priority number 1 is finding a headband that opens and that’s been impossible thus far, so I’ll take what I can get 🙁

    • RoseAG says:

      When you find it I want one too!

      I have a cashmere watch cap that I wear when working out outdoors. It’s wonderful. If it’s wet I put a baseball cap over it. Keeping your head warm can make a huge difference in how comfortable you are outside.

  8. A.J. says:

    I would recommend a hard side. Carry-on size may not always mean your bag will fit in the overhead bin of a small regional jet, so you’ll have to gate-check it. I remember feeling quite relieved to look out the window to see my hard side bag in the rain knowing my belongings would be dry, whereas my fellow travelers’ probably wouldn’t be.

  9. CH says:

    I read a tip, which makes a lot of common sense, that if you’re going to throw down some money on one or two skincare products, it’s better to splurge on a product that stays on your skin (like moisturizer, serum, or eye cream) and spend less on things that are going to end up down the drain (cleanser, masks). Just my two cents.

  10. chelsea says:

    I recommend Paula’s Choice skincare. No out of this world claims, reasonable prices, and you can get samples of everything to try for a week or 2 before you buy.

  11. Sarah says:

    A few years ago my husband (then boyfriend) got me this carry-on and it has been a godsend. It’s cute without being cutesy and has 4 wheels so you can wheel it in front of you. I get compliments on it a lot.

  12. erica says:

    Re: Skincare. Get a clarisonic. I have never had cleaner skin without that annoying dryness. I feel like after I use it, my moisturizer seems to absorb better, like it’s melting into my skin. Seems dramatic, but really…it’s good.

  13. Montana says:

    Greetings All,

    I happen to love fur (mink, etc) Hatbands! They really do not mess up your hair and keep your ears warm!! And it looks good on all women and very classy!!

  14. Elle says:

    Instead of splurging on skincare, I’d splurge on a dermatologist visit. Since skincare regimens vary greatly from person-to-person, they’ll know what’s best for your skin type and you won’t waste money buying products you’ll never use.

  15. thelugage says:

    Never even heard of a “cloche” until today but i definitely agree with your Samsonite recommendation. in my opinion you can’t go wrong with either that or a Briggs & Riley. period. they have some good choices on – and a comparison chart i like to refer to. Have you ever owned a Travelpro?

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