Fashion & Beauty Queries: Vol. IV, No. Sixteen


My company puts on a black-tie awards Gala in LA every year and I usually use Rent the Runway. This year, the dresses are all the same as last year and I just can’t find anything I like. Do you have any suggestions on formal dresses? I would love something fun and modern! Also, I need it to not break the bank. I’m looking for something around $100, if that even exists.

Thanks, Madeline

If your budget is firm at $100, I would tell you to hit up a consignment store or two.  That price, for a formal dress, is a bit of a reach.  This is not to say there isn’t a diamond in the rough to be found, it’s just going to take more searching than you’re probably on board for.

The only store that I would really recommend in the $100 price point is ASOS, but they’re stylists are so good it’s tough to tell how the dress will look on you.  This mink-colored gown could be awesome.  I also would give this hot pink cold-shoulder dress a try (depending how bold you’re feeling), but again, could be awesome, could be awful.  It’s tough to tell with ASOS sometimes.

If you can adjust your price range to the <$200 level, I am obsessed with this gold lace overlay Papell gown.  It’s a nice mix of glam and grownup.  The sale section at Saks always has a few gowns in this price range; I like this off the shoulder ABS.  Also, it’s probably the flowing one shoulder and modern print, but this Halston dress just says “Los Angeles” to me.


I’m taking your advice and re-wearing some dresses to a spate of summer sorority sister weddings.  I just need a could of new clutches and new earrings, like big earrings.  Any suggestions for either?  Both?  Looking to spend under $50 on each.

Keep up the fight.  Livvy

If there in different years, I don’t know why you can’t restyle dresses for weddings.  If I only have one or two in a summer, I always wear something I already own.  If we push it to three, or the wedding is in a difficult-to-dress-for locale, I’ll pick up a spare.  But if you’re strapped for clothing cash, spend on your every day clothes, and save on the special occasion stuff.  Also, if you have a friend who wears the same size, share dresses.

As for clutches, I am loving this extremely versatile black-and-white-stripe resin clutch.  I also like the look of leopard print with summer pastels; it’s modern and unexpected.  For something with more pep in it’s step, try this brightly adorned, beachy Merona clutch or this of-the-moment rattan clutch.

For earrings, you cannot go wrong with a sophisticated pair of long drop earrings like these from Charming Charlie.  I also like these delicate millennial pink earrings from Dorothy Perkins.  For something unique, try these black metal pave drops or these small, but impactful ear jackets from Baublebar.

Dear Belle,

Do those makeup setting sprays actually work?  I have an outdoor wedding coming up and I don’t want my smoky eye to melt onto my dress.  Your reviews are the only ones I trust when it comes to beauty since you’re one of like two bloggers who buy their own stuff.  Please tell me one of them works.


I’ve only tried one of the setting sprays, Urban Decay’s All Nighter Makeup Setting spray.  I wore it to my brother’s wedding, which was also outdoors, and it kept my makeup (and the bride’s) in place from about noon until a little after midnight.  They also make a De-Slick version, which I recommend if you have oily skin.  And the best part is they come in “travel” sizes, so if you don’t need it for more than special occasions, you don’t have to overspend.

If other readers know of any good brands, leave your thoughts in the comments.



  1. Meghan says:

    I swear by the Urban Decay setting spray. It’s going to change your life. It’s how I manage to make it through AZ summers and still look vaguely presentable at 6pm.

    May 9, 2017/Reply
  2. molly says:

    I recommend an eyeshadow primer if you’re worried about melting eye makeup. I’m cheap and use this e.l.f. one, and it works really well – noticeable difference compared to when i don’t use it:

    May 9, 2017/Reply
  3. strin012 says:

    For formal gowns, I recommend hitting department stores’ closeout places, like Nordy Rack and Off 5th. The best one, though, is Dillard’s (if you’re near one). There is one in my hometown, which always has a good selection and unbelievable prices. The list of locations is here:

    May 9, 2017/Reply
    • Elle says:

      I second the Rack and Off 5th, and would add in Neiman Marcus’ Last Call. Just today I saw some terrific gowns at the Rack

      May 9, 2017/Reply
  4. Amy says:

    RE: Setting sprays. I’ve tried the UD All Nighter and while I like it, I wear (the significantly cheaper) NYX Dewy Finish Setting Spray on a daily basis. It locks my makeup in place for long days. I have oily/combo skin so I’m usually using a lot of matte products, but when I use the NYX setting spray on top, it works magic on my makeup – melding everything together and bringing a skin-like finish back to anything that starts to look overly matte or powdery. I definitely recommend it.

    May 9, 2017/Reply
    • Pressley says:

      I second the NYX Dewy Finish Setting Spray. It will keep your face on for a full day (and I live in the humid South).

      May 9, 2017/Reply
      • Anne says:

        This is what I wear too! It works great and is about $8.

        May 9, 2017/Reply
    • Liz Shapiro says:

      I also have found some great gowns at Tj Maxx and Ross!

      May 13, 2017/Reply
  5. Lauren says:

    Re: gowns. I’ve had really good luck with Lulu’s. A lot of their stuff looks young, but if you’re willing to dig through there are some gems.

    May 9, 2017/Reply
  6. Ashlee says:

    Make Up Forever makes a great setting spray that I’ve used for years. I’ve worn it to outdoor summer weddings and it’s a lifesaver on days when I have to be ‘on’ at work. It’s a little pricey but you can buy a travel size that’s pretty reasonable and convenient. It perfects my makeup and doesn’t make my combination skin greasy.

    May 9, 2017/Reply
  7. Nicole says:

    I love UD All-Nighter, but have recently discovered the Loreal Infallible Makeup Extender Setting Spray is definitely a “dupe”. I was trying to get my makeup budget under control and online research led me to this. I think it works just as well, if not better, and the price is great. Highly recommend!

    May 9, 2017/Reply
  8. A says:

    NYx setting spray and urban decay is great. Try Nordstrom rack for gowns.

    May 9, 2017/Reply
  9. Sydni says:

    I’m also in AZ, and like Meghan said, getting makeup to last all day in Summer here is rough. In addition to setting spray, I recommend using a make-up extending facial primer under your foundation (I prefer a water-based formula in Summer as the silicone-based feel heavy and melt-y) and eye shadow primer. UD All Nighter is also one of my fave setting sprays. I haven’t used the NYX Dewy, but the NYX Matte finish is great and it’s cheap. Another one I really like for outdoor use is Supergoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist with SPF 50. It can be reapplied throughout the day to keep up your sun protection without ruining your makeup. It comes in different sizes, like the Urban Decay, if you only need it for special occasions.

    May 9, 2017/Reply
  10. NK says:

    Big fan of the UD all nighter. I use it every day that I wear makeup. Haven’t tried the NYX but definitely will now!

    May 10, 2017/Reply
  11. Ramona says:

    Try Zara. Affordable and fashionable dresses.

    May 10, 2017/Reply
  12. Julie says:

    I’m a fan of UD all nighter. I tried the de-slick (I have oily skin), but I didn’t work as well. Recently they came out with a setting spray “Cooling” which has worked really well for the hotter days we’ve had so far.

    May 12, 2017/Reply
  13. sherry @ save. spend. splurge. says:

    If you want a great product that gets rid of shine for 12 hours (tried and true), I bought the Becca Primer and it is AMAZING. I pat it on over my foundation after I am done, and it controls oil and shine like you wouldn’t believe. My skin looks fresh even after 12 hours of working and walking and sweating.

    For actually setting makeup, I use the Kat Von D translucent (also a good buy) to set my foundation. Both work beautifully together.

    May 23, 2017/Reply