Ask Belle Roundup Vol. IV, No. Thirteen

Mar 17, 2014

Dear Belle, 

How do you wash your tights?  I put mine in the machine and now they’re covered in pills and lint.  


Many manufacturers recommend hand-washing tights, but let’s be real, who has time for that?  I wash mine on warm/cold in an intimates bag like this one.  I also use Woolite detergent.

Also, here’s how to de-pill your tights: Step 1) Put them on.  Step 2) Take a sharp razor (one without the moisturizing strip) and gently, ever so gently, shave off the pills.  Step 3) Using a lint roller or packing tape, remove the remaining, now loosened, fuzz.

Hi Belle,

I’ve been seeing a lot of d’orsay pumps this season and I really like them. I’ve been thinking about buying a pair, but I’m not sure if it’s worth spending more than $100 if it’s just a trend that won’t last beyond this year. Do you think they’re here to stay and, if not, can you recommend a few pairs at a price point under $100?

Thank you! Maureen

D’orsay pumps have been around since the 19th century, so the style has staying power.  The most recent take on the D’orsay shoe features a pointed-toe, as opposed to the open-toe shoes that Sex and the City made popular.  I think that style has sticking power, but with any trendy shoe, I like to hedge my bets and choose an affordable option.

These basic black Sam Edelman’s are perfect for work at just $100 (they also come in beige).  I also adore these $33, silver metallic Marc Fisher pumps with the sculpted vamp.  I also like these Chinese Laundry pumps with a triangle-shaped heel; they come in red, grey or black.

Interested in flats?  Try this black and white striped pair from Chinese Laundry.  I also like these under-$25, ankle-straps from Charlotte Russe (in coral and black).  These Kayla flats from Halogen are also really chic with a metallic front and cognac leather heel.

Hi Belle,

Can you recommend a good highlighter?  I was using a liquid one from Benefit, but it made me breakout.  I’d like something with shimmer, but not shimmer, if you know what I mean.

Thanks, love the blog, TW

I do know what you mean. You’re looking for something luminous that won’t make you look like a prom attendee who went a little crazy with the body glitter.  I use Hourglass Ambient Light Powder.  I like that you can choose the hue that works best with your skin tone, which, in my case, is Ethereal Light.  If you’re looking for something more affordable, I like the Cindy-Lou and Mary-Lou luminizers from The Balm.


 I wear cardigans all the time and I need to replace a few from Target.  Are the J.Crew Jackie cardigans really worth the money?

Sincerely, K

At $65, if you can catch them on discount, the Jackie cotton cardigans are a great buy.  I’ve found that mine hold up quite well and the fit doesn’t warp over multiple trips to the cleaners.  Plus, they come in several colors, so you can always find one that works for you.

If you want to spend a little less, the J.Crew Factory store has the Clare cardigan, which is basically the same thing.  It comes in even more colors, and is priced at $29.50 + an extra 30%-off.  So that would be a great alternative for a price-conscious shopper.

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  1. Sofie M. says:

    For the question about cardigans: I can’t imagine spending $65 on a cardigan, but I managed to upgrade from Target to Gap Outlet cardigans and it only sets me back between $13.50 and $24 per piece, close to the prices at Target. Go to the Potomac Mills outlet mall and you can pick up Gap cardigans for around $20 on sale, and they seem to hold up better than the Target ones.

    I love Belle’s styles, but she sometimes does seem out-of-touch in terms of budgeting. (Who can drop that much money on a cardigan?)

    • Belle says:

      I don’t think it’s out of touch to suggest a $65 sweater, esp. with J.Crew’s frequent sales. If it were a $300 cardigan, I could understand your point, but if it’s a wardrobe staple for you, spending a little more might earn you a better cost-per-wear.

      • Sofie M. says:

        I guess it just depends on your budget and your priorities. My default is to go for something more economical (like the J Crew Factory piece), and I’d guess that your default is just at a higher price point. My assumption is that it’s a bit of a jump for someone who is currently buying wardrobe staples from Target (we’ve all been there, right?).

        • Belle says:

          What seems out of reach for one person is perfectly reasonable for someone else. Personally, I would rather own a handful of better quality pieces than several pieces that cost less, but also aren’t as well made. I buy inexpensive clothes when I don’t think I’ll wear a piece very often, but if I’m going to wear it a lot, I want it to look great for a long time. So I divide the cost of the garment by how many times I think I’ll wear it. More money out front might translate to a savings in the future if you don’t wind up replacing an item as frequently.

          People are always surprised that I don’t own a ton of clothes, but like you said, it’s about budget and priorities.

          • Sofie M. says:

            I think it’s a great point about cost-per-wear, but I think it’s incorrect to assume that there’s a linear relationship between price and quality. At some price point, you’re going to get diminishing marginal returns.

            For instance, my $13.50 Gap Outlet cardigans have held up for 2 years (so far). The J Crew cardigan costs almost 5 times as much – do you expect it to last for 10 years? If so, I am completely in the wrong, but I don’t think that’s the case.

            Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts, I really appreciated your responses!

        • Marisa says:

          I don’t think its out of touch for Belle to say that the J.Crew cardigans are a good buy, particularly when they are on sale…because that is what the reader asked. If the reader asked for suggestions for $20 and under cardigans, and Belle suggested something that was $100, that would be out of touch. The reader asked for advice, and Belle provided it honestly (which is why Ask Belle is one of my favorite features, of all blogs!)

    • Danielle says:

      Actually, I think Belle does a great job finding pieces at different price points and for different situations. I’m in a formal BigLaw office and can rarely even pull off pieces from the Gap without being dressed inappropriately for my office. Her mix seems perfectly in-touch to me: very nice but not designer for work, cheapies for trends. So many of the blogs that I used to love have become so “deal” and “comfort” focused, that they don’t work for formal offices like the one I work in 🙁

      There was a time in my life when I shopped Target for work basics and got all of my “nice” pieces from TJX and Marshalls–8 years later I still have many of those nicer pieces. I still shop TJX and Marshalls using blogs like this one as my rummage guide.

    • GingerR says:

      I like to buy August Silk cardigans. They fall in between Target and J Crew. They hold their shape fairly well. They are too warm outside on the hottest days but do very well in over air-conditioned offices.

      • Lily says:

        I had a black August Silk cardigan that I wore TO DEATH. They hold there shape well and it did eventually fad, but it lasted quite awhile before doing so. You can usually find them at TJ Maxx for a pretty good price too

    • B says:

      I own four Jackie cardigans, and I have paid closer to $40 for each of them. I think there is a noticeable difference between the J Crew outlet cardigan and the Jackie cardigan. Jackie is much better quality, in my opinion, and worth the money. I paid less for the J Crew outlet cardigan, but I stopped wearing it after one season. My Jackie cardigans have held up much better, through multiple washes (I wash them in the washing machine, but I don’t put them in the drier). The outlet cardigan was the waste of money and much more expensive per wear.

      • T says:

        I haven’t tried the Jackie cardi, but I just might based on this comment. I have NOT been impressed by the CLare cardi from the factory store, it doesn’t hold its shape well, and is a touch too short (and I’m only 5’4″, so short on me is a problem!). I have gotten some good cardi’s at jcrew factory, like the wool one I’m wearing now, but I would not suggest the Clare cardi.

        • Anna Dear says:

          Ditto – I believe the main difference is that the Clare is 100% cotton, and the Jackie has a bit of stretch to it. I’ve learned my lesson on the Clare’s too. I haven’t purchased a new Jackie cardi in years. I actually still have a Jackie cardigan that was purchased in the summer of 2007 when I was interning on the Hill. A navy Jackie from the same shopping trip bit the dust a year or two ago, but the green Jackie (and matching shell) is going strong 7 years later.

    • Sarah says:

      I used to always try to get the best deal and felt guilty if I didn’t buy something at the lowest price possible. But now that I’m nearing 30 years old, I realize that dressing well is actually very important to me. To do that, I need to be willing to spend money (keeping in mind my overall budget, of course). It’s really freeing and empowering to shop for myself and see it as a good thing, rather than a no no. Just another perspective! Sometimes it pays to be a tight wad, and sometimes it’s really nice to give yourself permission to buy nice things. I’ve been in both situations.

    • Beth says:

      Belle suggested a $65 cardigan, cautioned you to wait to buy it on sale, and put up a cheaper option for those who thought $65 was too much to spend. How is that being out of touch?

  2. PetiteCocotte says:

    I’ve had a pair of Spanx reversible tights for the past two years that have held up great. (I have worn them on average two or three times per week during the winter months and wash them weekly in a lingerie bag in the washing machine with Woolite). They outlasted several cheaper pairs of tights from Target, Old Navy, etc. so I decided this winter to invest in two more pairs of Spanx tights. The upfront cost was high, but given that they’ve lasted the last four months, they’re low maintenance and I don’t have to keep buying replacement tights, the cost is worth it.

  3. Lauren in Cleveland says:

    As for the great cardigan debate – I used to be a devoted J. Crew Jackie wearer. However, I’d recommend Nordstrom’s Abound brand, which you can find at Nordstrom Rack. I see no difference from the J. Crew Jackie, but the price is better.

    I wear my cardigans to death, and I was going through them in a season. That’s why I wanted to find something at a more reasonable price point.

    • SB says:

      I was going to say, I don’t really like the feel of my Jackie cardigans. They feel cheap to me for how much I’m spending on them. (And the factory cardigans are even worse). I much prefer Nordstrom’s Halogen brand cardigans. They’re about the same price as the Jackie on sale, but have a lot more weight to them and are softer.

  4. MKEGal says:

    Does anyone have recommendations for longer cardigans? I have a long torso and never like how J. Crew items fit me.

    • Belle says:

      Have you tried Ann Taylor or LOFT? I’ve seen a lot of cardigans there that are longer. They also make items in tall lengths, that might be a solution for you.

    • Jessica says:

      I have the same issue with J. Crew – a lot of the tops/cardigans end a little too short for my torso. I also only like crew neck cardigans, and I’ve had a lot of luck with the (nicer) ones from Old Navy.

    • Emilie says:

      I am a pretty strong devotee to Land’s End for basics, especially basics that need to be a bit longer. Their cardigan is about $56 full price, currently comes in 21 colors, and comes in Tall, Petite, & Plus in addition to traditional sizing. Plus, if you get one that seems to be showing wear way too early, a lemon if you will, you can return it without hassle.

    • CH says:

      Loft! I usually like cardigans to fall below my hip (whereas the Jackie hits just at my hip) and Loft has a lot of options in that length, plus there’s almost always a sale/promo code.

  5. Caroline says:

    I always wash my tights by hand– it takes 30 seconds, tops, and the tights are dry and ready to wear again by the next morning. Even after stumbling home at 3:30am last Saturday I managed to do this, so really, it’s not a big deal at all.

  6. NJ says:

    Does anyone have opinions on knee-highs with d’orsay flats? I don’t like wearing work shoes without socks/pantyhose/tights, but the d’orsay cutout always looks strange with knee-highs or pantyhose.

  7. Katrina Hill says:

    I just have to vouch for the Jackie cardigan. I bought one navy blue, size medium about 9 years ago. I understand the sizes run a bit bigger now, but that cardigan has withstood regular washes in the machine and tumbly drying. It has not pilled or faded, the buttons are still shiny, and the fit has not stretched, at all, ever, even after 3 wears in a row, in the summer. It still looks perfectly current and goes with everything. I’ve always thought about buying more, but the one is still going strong, so is enough for me. It is the gold standard for me. Best $65 I’ve ever spent.

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