AdviceStyle + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle Roundup Vol. IV, No. Four

Hi Belle,  

I’m trying to find a structured, black, leather satchel that’s appropriate for work. Currently, all of the bags I own are either too large (tote-sized) or too small (clutches) to carry to work on a daily basis.  I have a birthday coming up and would like to splurge on a nicer bag, preferably under $400. 

Any suggestions or recommendations?  Thank you! -A

I’m a sucker for a satchel.  Here are a few medium-large satchels that make excellent work bags.

rsz_1screen_shot_2014-01-20_at_93809_amRalph Lauren Taylor Satchel ($268) // Minkoff Mini MAB Satchel ($395) // Folli Follie K Satchel ($225)

In the $200 to $300 range, this Ralph Lauren satchel and this Folli Follie satchel are both excellent choices.  The Lauren satchel has three pockets for keeping organized, if you need some help in that area.  Also, if this size is a bit too large for you, the Folli satchel comes in a smaller size.

On the top end of the price range is the Minkoff Mini MAB.  This might be the best handbag that I have ever purchased.  It wears well, looks great and is a true classic.  I also like this Minkoff Amorous satchel for its unique shape, and this Marc Jacobs satchel with a detachable body strap.

Need something under-$125?  J.Crew Factory has this lovely Dorset satchel, and Jessica Simpson has this distinguished-looking Hadley satchel.  And I like the look of this nylon Steve Madden satchel.

Dear Belle,

On your suggestion, I bought a khaki trench two years ago.  I love it, but I’d like a dark one for variety.  Can you help me find one in black or navy?  I’d even consider gray as long as it’s not light gray.  My price range is under $300.

Thanks! Savannah

This Ellen Tracy trench comes in all the colors that you’re looking for and costs under-$100.  This black Michael Kors trench has a slightly military look to it, which gives it a modern edge.  And this black DKNY trench’s classic look comes in regular and petite.

If it’s navy you’re after, this ASOS classic trench is a great choice at $111.  As for the grey, this Via Spiga trench is a good place to start.

Also, this is a bit off topic, but someone asked for single-breasted trenches last week.  If that’s what you’re after, check out this Gallery trench with detachable hood and this inexpensive London Fog trench.

For plus-size, this Michael Kors coat is a good choice, as is this Kristen Blake coat.  Petite? The Ellen Tracy trench mentioned above comes in your size.  And if you’re tall, try Banana Republic.


I’ve focused the past year on professional clothing and shoes and have found myself woefully devoid of acceptable flats. I had a great pair of black semi-flats (similar look to these here) but I’m having trouble finding a good replacement pair.

While we are discussing flats, I would love a recommendation for brown/tortoise shell flats. I wear my tortoise shell pumps a good bit and always get compliments, I’d love something that I could wear on casual work days or on the weekends. 

I love your blog! Lizzie

Sliver wedges aren’t as popular this year as they probably were when you bought your shoes, but I found these Figure It Out flats at DSW.  I also like these Splendid ankle strap flats.  Pointed-toe flats are my preference because they make legs look longer, so I’d also look at these toe-cap Michael Kors flats and these under-$50 Dolce Vita d’orsay flats.

As for the tortoise flats, they can be tough to find.  These tasselled flats from Sperry were the only ones that I could find that aren’t priced like Manolos.  But if you like wedges, I’d check out these Taryn Rose peep toe wedges in tortoise.

Hi Belle,

I want to thank you for the way you post plus size options.  I need a lace cocktail dress for my sister’s wedding.  She wants me to wear a dark color that’s not black, so maybe navy or green?  I haven’t found anything in the stores and I’m hoping you can help.

Thanks again, Frankie

For a classic look, I’d start with this Adrianna Papell dress.  I’d also look at this Marina dress with v-neck and short sleeves.  However, if you want something that has a more relaxed fit, this Jessica Simpson tiered shift might be a good option.  And if it’s just a bit of lace that you’re after, this stunning Xscape dress has lace cap sleeves on a pleated dress.

Looking for something similar in misses?  This sleeveless Charles Henry dress is a nice choice, as is this Adrianna Papell.  For petites, try this London Times dress with a lace back.  Tall?  This Banana Republic dress is a good option.

Hi Belle,

I just moved to humid Seattle from Wyoming, do you have a favorite hairspray to combat the moisture in the air?  My curls are frizzing and falling at the same time.  

xo, Elise

My favorite hairspray is Big Sexy Play Harder Spray.  I’d also give DryBar Money Maker flexible hold a shot, if you’re looking for something in the mid-hold range.  And if you need a drugstore brand, you need Freeze-It.

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  1. Shaunta F says:

    To Frankie,

    I understand and appreciate the plus-size clothing options as well. I found myself in a similar situation last year as far as a dress for a wedding. I have a great recommendation for you if you want black and a little pop of color. This dress was amazing and I received a ton of compliments on it. Here is the link:

    January 20, 2014/Reply
  2. Heidi says:

    Dear Belle
    I have been reading your post on trench coats – perhaps you could do a third? I work in a conservative office, i.e. skirt length is at the knee or slighly under and I would like to find a knee length trench, I dream of this one but would not like to pay over 500

    January 21, 2014/Reply
  3. Emily says:

    I purchased the red Folli Follie satchel off of a previous CHS recommendation and LOVE it. I get compliments on it on a daily basis. It’s a great bag, with high quality material. My favorite part about it (which I couldn’t really tell from the pictures) is that the metal on it is rose gold, which I think is a lovely extra touch.

    January 21, 2014/Reply
  4. V says:

    Frankie – The Tadashi lace dresses are beautiful:

    January 22, 2014/Reply
  5. Victoria says:

    Frankie: You need Kiyonna.

    January 22, 2014/Reply