Ask Belle Roundup Vol. IV, No. Seven

Feb 4, 2014


Last spring, I bought a great pair of nude-to-me shoes at DSW, but they’re too beat up to wear again.  Can you help me find a nude shoe with a heel under four inches?  My budget would let me spend $150 or less.  


If you’re looking for a truly basic nude-colored shoe, the Michael Kors Flex Pump is a great buy at $98 (also in black and burgundy).  These Sam Edelman pumps are 3.25″ high with a cute tonal-snakeskin inset on the heel.  Last year, Nine West made a basic pump that came in several skin-toned hues, but if they intend to release them for spring, they haven’t yet.

Need something under-$50?  These Ivanka Trump Amoro pumps come in two shades of beige.  These heels from Madden Girl come in a nude shade, but I think I like the dark, stormy grey the best.

Looking for something a bit more unique?  These Sam Edelman Othello pumps have a cool look and a snakeskin accent.  Joe’s popular, uber-chic Laney pump now comes in a beige-colored suede.

Hi Belle,

I’ve been hunting for a black blazer for a long time.  I need to spend under-$100, but I’d prefer to spend under-$75.  Everything I find in that price range either has 3/4 sleeves or is too short.  Can you help me find a classic blazer?

Loved your SOTU coverage! Haki


Zara Cool Wool Blazer ($79) // Calvin Klein Single Button Blazer ($99) // Trouve Three Pocket Blazer ($58)

Zara is my favorite place to find blazers for under-$125.  I’m impressed with the quality of the blazers I’ve purchased from there, and the cut is very flattering.  This gathered shoulder blazer is one of my favorites, and if you’re looking for spring color, this coral jacket is fabulous.

Calvin Klein makes a decent jacket in classic shapes.  Take one to a competent tailor and you wind up with a piece that looks much more expensive than it is.  If you’re bustier, consider this two-button blazer.  Plus-size?  CK has the same jacket in your size.  They also make blazers in petite sizes.

Nordstrom has some lovely choices.  This Trouve blazer is a great option.  The brand also makes this sleek and chic reversible blazer.  And this Vince Camuto jacket is a great basic for $90.

Still looking?  Keep an eye out for blazers at ASOS.  This slim-lapel jacket comes in $83.


Love your blog!  I need your help finding a face scrub that will exfoliate my skin without tearing it off.  My face is really sensitive.  What would you recommend?


If you’re looking for gentle exfoliation, a toner might be your best option.  I like Clinique’s Clarifying Lotion, which comes in different strengths from mild to high test.

Not what you’re after?  Dermalogica makes a Daily Microfoliant, which scrubs but isn’t harsh.  You might also try a scrubber with beads instead of sugar, salt or grains.  I like Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Scrub, but if you need something cheaper, try Clean & Clear Morning Burst scrub.

Dear Belle,

Can you help me find a cool pair of aviator sunglasses that cost less than $50?  I can’t afford the Ray-Bans you’ve written about.  Is there a good brand that makes a cheaper pair?

Thank you! RS

Be wary of buying really cheap sunglasses.  They shield your eyes from light, so your pupils open.  But they don’t have the UV-protection that you need, so they allow damaging UV rays to get deeper into your eye where they can cause a lot of damage.

Kenneth Cole makes a decent pair of sunglasses for under-$50.  I also like these Sole Society mirrored aviators, and their white-metal aviators.  I also love these Jessica Simpson aviators with tortoise accents.

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  1. emily says:

    For blazers – JCPenny Woolworth line is very inexpensive and machine washable. I got one in December and have been happy with it. I would also recommend their pencil skirts, they are a better fit and lined (which is more than you can say for a lot of major retailers).

  2. JD says:

    For gentle exfoliation, try adding baking soda to your regular cleanser a few times a week, just enough to make a wet paste. Works wonders for me, and it’s practically free.

    Btw, there are some concerns that plastic exfoliating microbeads are damaging to ocean life. I don’t know enough to say anything more than that with any degree of certainty, but it might be worth investigating if this is important to you.

    • Doesn’t baking soda strip your skin’s acid mantle?

      I know that a lot of exfoliating creams use baking soda in there but I stopped after I realized how abrasive it was.

      What works for me is the Clarisonic Mia 3 times a week in the morning (sensitive head brushes).

      • JD says:

        I’ve never had a problem with baking soda and my acid mantle, but your comment inspired me to look around online, and a lot of people echo your concern. Interesting. It usually fizzes a bit when I mix it into the cleanser, so I wonder if the alkalinity is neutralized before I apply it. Oh well, it works great for my sensitive skin.

  3. Mrs Type A says:

    For cheap nicer sunglasses check Marshalls & TJ Maxx. I got a pair of Kenneth Cole ones there for like $30 that are fantastic.

    • Anna says:

      Nordstrom Rack too. I got my Marc by Marc Jacobs for $35. They had a lot of Cole Haan and Kate Spade pairs the last time I looked too.

  4. Chelsea says:

    For sensitive skin, do not use the Clean and Clear – you’ll feel like your face is about to fall off. Boots Expert Sensitive Smoothing Scrub is an excellent choice for sensitive skin.

  5. 1. I love that you made it a point to make sure that people know you can’t buy cheap sunglasses and get away with it because you will damage your eyes. At least 100% UVA/UVB.. although the best are the ones who are also polarized (as per my eye doctor’s advice).

    But polarized lenses are pricey. My advice would be to get on Ebay or Craig’s list and buy them secondhand. That’s how I got my Raybans for $30.

    2. The Clarisonic Mia for exfoliating is quite good. I buy the sensitive brushes and I love them. I just don’t overuse the Mia, I do it 3 times a week in the morning to brush off dead skin cells, not daily like I used to.

    • Anna says:

      I bought a decent pair of polarized lenses at Walgreen’s for around $20. I needed them for kayaking and other water activities during a vacation in the Keys and didn’t want to sacrifice a nice pair to the ocean.

  6. Becky says:

    I second the earlier comment about microbeads being damaging to aquatic ecosystems. Basically, they wash down the drain and into rivers, lakes, and oceans. And since they don’t biodegrade, they get eaten by fish and poison them. (More info here if you’re interested:

    Baking soda is a great exfoliant. So is using a facial cleansing brush like the Clarisonic – I find it to be gentle but really effective. I’ve also used African black soap as an exfoliant. Just leave it on your face for 5 minutes and then wipe away gently with a washcloth. Shea Terra Organics makes a good version.

  7. Colleen says:

    I second the TJ Maxx recommendation. I’ve also had a ton of luck at the Saks Outlet if there’s one in your area. If you hit it at the right time, you can get designer shades for under $75 and many for under $50. I bought some Chloe shades with UV protection last spring for about $60 there and LOVE them.

  8. lindsey says:

    Skinceuticals micro-exfoliating scrub is awesome. I think diatomaceous earth is the scrubber, so I assume this doesn’t have the negative environmental effects of the plastic beads? It’s a very fine grain and the gentlest I’ve found. I haven’t tried baking soda, that’s a good idea.

    • JD says:

      Diatomaceous earth definitely does not have negative environmental effects — it’s made of fossilized diatoms, microscopic algae. Also good for killing ants without poisoning your pets!

  9. Anna says:

    Most cheap sunglasses nowadays have 100% UV protection. They usually have a sticker on them saying so. I don’t remember where, but I saw one of those consumer report investigation type shows that compared cheap and pricey pairs, and the cheap pairs provided just as good, sometimes better UV protection. Obviously, I’d be wary of sunglasses sold on the street, but I can’t remember the last time I saw a pair at a brick and mortar store (CVS included) that didn’t say 100% UV Protection.

  10. Jess says:

    I have those same madden Girl heels – surprisingly comfortable and you can get them in wides on Zappos, if needed.

  11. I use Biore’s Pore Unclogging Scrub and it has gentle exfoliation from microbeads (though I never knew about their lack of biodegradability, crazy!). I have sometimes sensitive skin and have never had a problem with this scrub. My face is not red after using it and it cleans really well (no more dirt or makeup on the cotton ball when I use toner aferwards). Plus it’s like $7 at the drugstore.

  12. rar says:

    I have semi-sensitive skin, and I’ve had really good luck with the Boschia facial polish. I haven’t tried, but First Aid Beauty (FAB) also has a similar scrub gentle enough for everyday use.

  13. GingerR says:

    If you’ve already had a pair of shoes that you wore out in a season that’s a sign that buying a higher quality pair in the same color/style is a safe bet. As long as the new pair you buy are comfortable to wear you should go for the best quality you can find, even if it’s towards the upper end of your budget.

  14. Kris says:

    I’d really recommend checking out the Skin Care forum on Reddit ( for exfoliation tips from people with similar skin types. The moderators on the forum are all incredibly knowledgeable and contributors aren’t allowed to post things as fact without a peer-reviewed article to back it up.

    One recommendation that I got from them was to use a chemical exfoliator instead of a mechanical one like the Clarisonic or an abrasive face wash, and my skin has been so much happier in the bitter New England winter. I currently use the St. Ives Exfoliating Pads (, which are amazing. The best thing about them is that you can focus on particular areas of your face while avoiding more irritated areas.

    • tiaracara says:

      I’ve been really happy with St. Ives Green Tea scrub- not that harsh and I use it every day. It isn’t that easy to find, hit or miss at RiteAid or Target- so I usually order it from Amazon/

  15. Joanna says:

    I agree about the cheap sunglasses. I was told to only buy polarized. Worth the investment. Some accessories are ok if cheap but not sunglasses. My Mom got skin cancer on her eyelid a few years back. Protect your eyes!

  16. Addison says:

    I have two Calvin Klein blazers. They have full length sleeves and they’re not cropped or embellished in any way. I got them both at Macy’s which includes CK blazers in their “everyday values.” Most are under $90.

  17. Kate says:

    I own the Trouve three pocket blazer Belle posted, and would definitely recommend it. Flattering drape, keeps its structure, but has a fair deal of stretch to allow for arm mobility. Found it at Nordstrom Rack last month for $40, so check there if you’re interested, but it’s still certainly worth $58.

  18. Cecile says:

    If you have a coach outlet nearby they’re having a sale and I just got BEAUTIFUL aviators for $45!

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