AdviceStyle + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle Roundup: Vol. IV, No. III

Dear Belle,

After avidly reading your blog for years now, I’ve joined the corporate world and have been converted to the world of wrap dresses.  I bought one from the BR-Issa collaboration earlier this fall and I love it.  

I’m looking to add more to my collection, but it seems that every one that I find is made largely of poly blends (and they FEEL like it).  I’d really prefer cotton blend or a soft knit jersey.  Do you have any suggestions of where I can find some throw-on-and-go dresses that will suit a professional office but won’t leave me sweating at my desk in a static-cling dress?  I’d like to spend less than $150, if possible.

Thanks for all the inspiration! D

Wrap dresses are one of my favorite pieces for relaxed work days or coffee meetings.  I also wear them on days when I’m not feeling my best and can’t stomach the thought of wearing snug-fitting work attire.

The first dress that I have to promote is this Michael Kors wrap-effect, silk-jersey dress ($120).  The regular-size dress comes in berry, and the plus-size dress comes in emerald green.  It’s one of my favorite pieces.

I would also recommend checking out this geometric-printed Raoul dress on sale at Off5th.  I tried on this Ivy & Blu faux-wrap dress at Nordstrom last week and was happy with the fabric.  They also make a short-sleeve faux-wrap with a wide waistband that comes in regular and petites.  And while I haven’t seen them in person yet, I am curious what the fabric on this Banana Republic Gemma dress feels like.

Dear Belle,

I’d like to find a great cross body bag for an upcoming trip where I will be doing a lot of walking. I’ve realize that I only own large, structured satchels and totes. Do you have any cross body purse suggestions that lean towards classic or preppy and are under $75?

Thank you – love your blog! Anon

If you’re looking for a classic cross body, I found this forest green one at Forever21 for $20 (it also comes in an oversized black version).  I also like this flap-cover Vera Wang bag in charcoal grey.  This black bag with a simple gold bar is the epitome of classic.  And this Erin bag from Fossil is a bit more than you wanted to spend, but it has a great shape and comes in several colors.

Want something a bit trendier?  This Jessica Simpson bag with zipper details is sweet.  I also like this BP saddle bag that bridges the gap between modern and classic.

Hi Belle,

Such a fan of your site! I am a fan of costume jewelry pieces that help pull an outfit together and make it look sharp. These are often long gold necklaces, pendants, station necklaces, etc. Recently, I’ve noticed some of my pieces are looking dingy. Particularly where the chain makes contact with my skin/oils around my neck.  

I’ve tried cleaning them by lining a pan with aluminum foil, laying the jewelry in it and covering with hot water with baking soda dissolved in it to no avail. Hoping you have a good suggestion for how I can removed the “tarnished” look from these various metals to refresh the look of these pieces.

Thank you! Karen

Cleaning jewelry is really a pain, and I too have been disappointed by the aluminum foil and baking soda trick.  My solution?  A tarnish removing cloth.

I found mine at Bed, Bath and Beyond, but I’m not sure what brand it is.  I found this tarnish removing fabric and this jewelry polishing cloth on Amazon.  Just rub-a-dub-dub, and the tarnish comes right off with a bit of elbow grease.

And if you want to prevent tarnish on pieces that you don’t wear often, check out these storage bags that prevent tarnish and corrosion.

Hi Belle,

I’ve been reading a lot about facial oils.  You mentioned them in a post last week but you didn’t explain them.  Can you tell me why I need one?  And which one should I buy?

Skincare Challenged

Facial oils fall into two categories: cleansing oils and treatment oils.  Cleansing oils are exactly what they sound like, oils that are used to remove makeup and “wash” skin instead of soap.  They’re less-drying than soapy cleansers, and if you’re getting older, a facial cleansing oil can keep your skin looking supple and healthy.

I’ve tried the Clinique Take Off the Day oil, and it works well, but wasn’t great for my combination skin.  This Josie Maran Argan cleansing oil was more to my liking.  And my former facialist swears by this SK-II cleansing oilNeed a drugstore brand?  Garnier has leapt to the front of the line with this $6 offering.

As for treatment oils, they come in many shapes and sizes but Allure does a great job of laying out the benefits of using an oil.  I use two different oils to treat two different concerns.  I use this Josie Maran Light Argan Oil when my skin gets too dry for my liking.  I also use the Ole Henriksen Pure Truth oil because it’s packed with antioxidants and gives my skin a boost of Vitamin C.  And if you’re looking for a drugstore brand, this L’Oreal Glow Renewal oil is being advertised one HGTV like it’s life-giving liquid gold.



  1. elizabeth says:

    I have the Banana Republic Gemma dress in multiple colors and love it. It is washable, and the fabric has enough weight to it to hide lumps and bumps. I am 5’4″ and while that is far from tall, I prefer the length of the tall size which hits at/below my knees for my conservative work environment.

    January 14, 2014/Reply
  2. Kelsey says:

    For the past month I have been using the oil cleansing method. Clean at night, moisturize with same oil, and a cold water rinse in the AM. I am smitten. The oil cleansing method has provided me better acne and wrinkle treatment than any other product I have tried. Best part – it’s cheap. I mix 1/3 tablespoon caster oil with 2/3 tablespoons carrier oil (almond) and a drop of Tamanu oil for acne. Details here and here

    January 14, 2014/Reply
  3. A says:

    I love my BR Gemma dresses! I bought a long sleeved one two years ago and then a basic black in this season’s 3/4 sleeve style. The fabric is great, they are a true wrap which I prefer but do need a cami underneath to make them work appropriate. Recommend for sure!

    January 14, 2014/Reply
  4. DSL says:

    If you wear jewelry often, this cleaner from the sharper image is absolutely worth it.

    January 14, 2014/Reply
  5. lwillis says:

    I’ve always heard SK-II products are supposed to be great, especially for acne sufferers (like me). I was surprised then to see the first ingredient in that oil is mineral oil. Doesn’t seem like that would be great for skin?

    I like the Origins Clean Energy cleansing oil a lot.

    January 14, 2014/Reply
  6. Addison says:

    Here’s my question about washing and moisturizing with oils at night, does it soak in completely? I did a coconut oil treatment on my hair overnight once and even though I wore a shower cap and covered my pillow with a towel, the top sheet ended up with a big oil stain where it must have been pulled up all the way to my chin. Does the same thing not happen to pillow cases after moisturizing with oil? Because if it’s asamazing as it sounds I’d love to try it.

    January 14, 2014/Reply
    • RMR says:

      I don’t actually use moisturizing oils at night, but during they day I use 4-6 drops of oil MAX. I highly doubt this would leave any residue on your pillow.

      January 14, 2014/Reply
    • Kelsey says:

      With the oil cleanse – you massage the oil into your face and then “steam” your face. Place a hot washcloth on your face until it cools. Repeat 3-4 times. (Less time consuming than it sounds). The hot washcloth opens your pores and releases oil + dirt. After I clean my face my skin feels dewy, but not oily. If my face feels a little dry, I massage a little oil onto the dry areas. I have had no issues with it staining my sheets.

      January 15, 2014/Reply
  7. RMR says:

    Crunchy Betty (see above post) is awesome! Her LUCID oil (moisturizing) has been really life changing for my hormonal acne prone skin. Highly recommend. You can purchase it from her etsy store and she includes the recipe so you can make it yourself later (but at $20+ dollars I’m willing to simply reorder).

    January 14, 2014/Reply
    • Kelsey says:

      I did not know about her Etsy shop! Thanks for mentioning.

      January 15, 2014/Reply
  8. says:

    If you can find it, the Dooney and Bourke triple zip in leather is great. I’m not big on this brand, but you mentioned preppy look. I bought one in silver and love it. They had more choices in the summer/fall – metallics and a variety of dark leathers – sometimes they are on sale at Macys if you look in store. Leather is soft and worth the price.

    January 14, 2014/Reply
  9. Betty Behrens says:

    I own 3 Gemma dresses, all in Tall. I am 5’7″, and the tall hits just below the knee. They are a jersey knit, soft cottony fabric with a good weight to hang nicely.

    January 14, 2014/Reply
  10. Kate says:

    I ordered the Gemma dress this summer and have been pretty pleased with it overall — I love that the fabric feels smooth and substantial but is still machine washable. I’m 5’9″ but ordered the dress in the regular size, not tall; on me, it hits just above the knee. As a warning, the neckline plunges pretty deeply and probably requires either a cami or a few extra stitches for conservative environments.

    January 14, 2014/Reply
  11. RoseAg says:

    For a trip where you’ll be walking and likely outdoors a lot I’d check out LeSportsSac at for a crossbody bag. They’re lightweight, mostly under $75, usually have multiple zippered pockets, and can be stuffed into a carry on bag.

    January 14, 2014/Reply
  12. Miz Swizz says:

    I have a leather Fossil crossbody bag that I love. If you live near a Fossil outlet, you should take a look. I think they tend to run about $80, but it seems like there’s always some sort of sale.

    January 15, 2014/Reply
  13. Elena says:

    For crossbody bags:
    I’ve always found the unless the bag is very little and will never get heavy, the narrow straps tend to dig into my shoulder and it’s not comfortable after a while. If you’re going for more of an all day bag (water, umbrella, electronics etc etc) then I would look for one with a wider strap. I’ve had luck at Marshalls of all places for good bags at a discount.

    January 15, 2014/Reply