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

Hi Belle,

I’m looking for some new blogs to read.  Anything good you would suggest?  Something more like your blog, maybe.

Thanks. April

I don’t read as many blogs as I used to, but there are a few I really like.  My old standbys include: Extra Petite, Hitha on the Go, Wit & Whimsy, and The Stripe.  Some newer reads to check out would be Wardrobe Icons, a British online magazine, and The Vault Files.

Dear Abra,

Do you ever feel like you’re in just a total and complete clothing rut?  All I buy anymore is Banana and LOFT.  It’s just too easy to just hit the website during a sale and be done with my shopping.  Do you have any other shops that you love?  Somewhere in the mid-price range would be best.  I just need.something.different.

Please Help! Dressing the Same Since 2011

Right now, I’m having a love affair with UK retailers.  That country’s commitment to affordable fashions is appreciated.  Especially for those of us who need/want longer hemlines, sleeves and ladylike styles, the UK can’t be beat.

The dress selection at Marks and Spencer cannot be beat.  This combo shift dress is a good choice for the office.  For a party, this lacy, yellow dress is a stunner.  Another Brit retailer worth a look is Warehouse.  I buy their pieces through the ASOS website.  And lastly, Dune London has some great shoes and bags.

If you prefer to shop stateside, check out & Other Stories.  They have an ever-changing selection of on-trend pieces.

Hi Belle,

Do you have a good source for striped tees?  I need a navy and white one, but everything I fine is tissue thin.  Frankly, it’s BS that I can’t find a mid-weight tee anymore.  

Have fun in D.C.! Kas

Sing it, sister!  It’s so silly how so many retailers are making t-shirts out of one-ply toilet paper and trying to play it off like that’s just the hot style, now.  As if they’re not saving a fortune using inferior materials.  But I digress…

If I need stripes, there are only three places to go: Land’s End, LL Bean, and Boden.  Other than that, the choices are pretty limited.  If they don’t have what you’re looking for, I would try the Orvical brand.  They sell the classic Breton stripe in a wide selection of colors, but they sell out quickly during the summer.


I just started wearing makeup (I know, 32 is the new 14, right?), and I have everything figured out but eyeshadow.  Do you have anything that’s easy to apply and fairly idiot proof you can steer me to?  I’m not looking for a crazy smoked eye, just something for regular days.

Love the blog! Sara W.

The way I see it, there are two ways you can go: with a simple eye palette, or a neutral cream blush.

For the palette, Bareminerals makes a collection of neutral hues that I use whenever I do someone else’s makeup.  The colors are almost universally flattering and really soft.

Another option is to find a hue that works with your eye color (BHG can you help you out), and choose a palette just in that hue. I have hazel eyes, so purple palettes work best for me.  I like this Lancome Hypnose Palette or Clinique’s Ash Violets (the Clinique quad is an easy starting point for beginners.  Then, I would head over to YouTube to get some pointers on applying your new eye makeup.

If you want something even easier, the answer is a simple cream shadow.  This Maybelline Color Tattoo shadow is the easiest thing in the world.  On relaxed days, I smear the gold on my lids and walk out the door.  Revlon also makes a nice cream shadow in several more colors.  Prefer a matte shadow without any metallic?  Clarins makes a really great shadow that has build able color for day-to-night looks.



  1. Shelley says:

    I agree with you, I love British clothes as well, but their sizing has me a little stressed when buying online. I know they don’t do vanity sizing and you have to go up at least a size or three to find your correct fit . Any help you can provide in this area? I’m usually a 10-12 in US sizes. In pants almost always a 10 at banana Republic but some dresses I size up to a 12 if there are sleeves because I’m broad shouldered. Would that mean a 14 or 16 in UK size?

    May 23, 2017/Reply
    • Anna says:

      It isn’t that they don’t do vanity sizing, it’s just a different scale. Their sizes start at four, so you just go up two sizes. So if you’re a 10-12, you’d be a 14-16.

      May 23, 2017/Reply
  2. C says:

    I use E.L.F. smudge pots for cream eyeshadow. I haven’t tried the Mabelline, but it seems like a similar product.

    May 23, 2017/Reply
  3. Keilexandra says:

    I just bought the Modern Stripe Tee (or something like that) from Gap after happening across it in store. The material is totally opaque and thick, unlike many of their other striped tees right now. Highly recommend (and the white striped with navy colorway is selling out fast, I had to order my size online, although navy striped with white was well stocked in my store).

    May 23, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Thanks for the tip.

      May 23, 2017/Reply
  4. Meghan says:

    Thanks so much for the shoutout! So glad our (now ancient ;)) blogs brought us together! xx

    May 23, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      We’re truly OG bloggers.

      May 23, 2017/Reply
  5. Barbara Lisette says:

    I recently bought two dresses from BRASS. I am wearing the navy blue A-line shift today. The neckline is a little big, and I wish they offered petites. But what sold me was a) I was a basic that was affordable to upkeep and it is washable (the $10 a dress dryclean fee on a $55K salary was killing me), b) A low fuss dress for the Monday after working overtime all weekend, or when you are too tired for anything overly fitted.

    I too am mostly a Banana, AT girl. Also Halogen, Vince Camuto, and French Connection via Nordstrom.

    Hope this helps a little!! Lately I have not been impressed with anything at the Loft which is unfortunate.

    May 23, 2017/Reply
  6. Caitlin says:

    Marks & Spencer also has a really great selection of bras for maternity/nursing and post-surgery that are functional and pretty too. And extra large sizes (G, H cups).

    May 23, 2017/Reply
  7. AAR says:

    On the striped tee– I got a fantastic one at Ann Taylor within the last month. Three-quarter sleeve and a ballet neckline. Completely opaque, and polished enough for the office on Fridays.

    May 23, 2017/Reply
  8. Maddy says:

    Belle, totally unrelated, but I know you’re a fan of MM LaFleur. They just launched a plus-size line and I’m ready to make my first purchases. Do you have an affiliate link or promo code? I want to make sure you get credit for introducing me to the brand.

    May 23, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I do not. But I hope you like them. IF you have any questions about sizing I suggest taking your measurements and calling. Sometimes dresses fit a little differently than the size guide suggests. I often have to call to see if something is forgiving in the hips or not.

      May 23, 2017/Reply
  9. Gem says:

    As a Brit I’m so amused by all the love for Marks and Sparks.

    It’s declined in quality a lot and is generally seen to have lost its way on the UK high street. Its a bit of a granny shop. It’s ok for shoes, lingerie and the occasional basic item, some of the home stuff is fantastic, and the food is good.

    Basically, as a thirty something Brit I only go in M&S if I’ve been given a voucher, need a gift for an older relative or want service station food.

    May 23, 2017/Reply
  10. Nicole says:

    Re: t-shirts. Honestly I pick up basic tees at Target. You can get them on sale for $5-8. Some colors are pretty thin, but then they also sometimes have some thicker colors/patterns. I have gotten 3/4 sleeve, boatneck tees, in a nice stripe, the last 2 summers. They usually only last a season, depending on how gentle I am with washing and drying, but at that price, I don’t really have to care. Plus if I sweat or anything gets spilled on them, again, no big deal. Also at Christmastime I picked up a nice striped tee for my mom from their Plus Size Ava & Viv line. I think I paid maybe $12? It’s a nice thickness and has held up nicely for the last ~6 months.
    I am also a fan of the Boden tees, but since I can just swing through and pick them up while I am getting all of my other shopping done, it makes pretty easy at Target.

    May 23, 2017/Reply
    • Jen says:

      +1 on the Target boatneck tees! I restock regularly, they are my staple t shirt great fit and weight.

      May 26, 2017/Reply
  11. Jennifer says:

    Regarding blogs, I feel as if I’ve spent waaaayyyyy too much time looking at wannabe models and their outfits of the day along with instagrams of avocado toast. Everyone needs a little brain candy (although this one is good candy because it has articles and other useful things). I’m deleting those bookmarks to spend time on weightier fare – The Atlantic and The New Yorker. I’m also a longtime reader of Vanity Fair (because they had the better photos of Pippa Middleton’s wedding).

    May 23, 2017/Reply
  12. Jack says:

    Yeah.. British clothes are pretty awesome! Make sure to check out some other brands too like; River Island, Top Shop, Monsoon

    May 24, 2017/Reply
  13. Kathryn says:

    I think a clothing rut is going to be unavoidable this summer. I went to a ton of stores the other day and there were RUFFLES EVERYWHERE. Ruffles, white eyelet minidresses, and other things in a style I can only describe as “preppy baby.” Loft was the only place that had a good selection of fun, comfortable, work-appropriate styles, and in gorgeous jewel tones to boot. It’s [another] summer of Loft over here.

    May 24, 2017/Reply
  14. Grace Atwood says:

    Thank you SO much for the shout-out!!! Made my day that I’m one of your regular reads… have been reading yours for years and years now! XO

    May 24, 2017/Reply
  15. Lauren says:

    Re the eyeshadow question— The real key to eyeshadow is getting a good brush. I find that newbies (myself included) tend to start with much larger brushes than they need and then end up with uncontrollable eyeshadow.

    The hands-down best eyeshadow brush for basic application on your lids is the MAC 217 (or Sigma E25, a nearly-identical dupe). It’s very forgiving and is just the right size for a sweep on your lids.

    For starters, apply a dab of foundation on your eyelids to even the skin tone. Apply your regular powder on your brow bone (no need to do anything special– just make sure you cover the area when you apply to the rest of your face), and use the MAC 217/ Sigma E25 to gently sweep the neutral hue on your lids only. Don’t get crazy and start applying shadow up near your eyebrows unless you get a better handle on it or pick up a side job as a birthday clown.

    Next step up is applying darker shadow along your upper lash line with a pencil-shaped brush to simulate a soft eyeliner. If you get it too dark to too jagged just blend a little with the base shadow you used on your lids. I really recommend using this method to darken your lash line since it’s so forgiving to apply this way and looks sooooo much more sophisticated than jagged eyeliner.

    May 25, 2017/Reply
  16. Katharine says:

    Another great source for striped t-shirts is Amour Vert. Classic styles, generally a good size range, and not paper thin, hallelujah! They are, admittedly, a little on the pricier side, but these things last, unlike the tissue paper parading as shirts that you find at so many retailers these days!

    May 29, 2017/Reply