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

Hi Belle,

After gaining a little weight in my lower half, many of my sheath work dresses are slightly more snug than usual. Not bodycon by any means, but enough to make me question if it looks inappropriate for work. Do you have a rule of thumb for assessing how tight or loose a sheath dress should fit? I’d rather not have to buy new dresses if I can still get wear out of these.

Thank you! NS

To quote Edith Head, “A dress should be tight enough to show you’re a woman, and loose enough to prove you’re a lady.”  But sometimes it’s hard to know if your dress is too snug.  Here are some good rules of thumb.

1) The dress should skim the body, but not squeeze or pull across the body.

2) If the skirt rides up when you walk, it’s too tight.

3) Pinching the edge of the dress, there should be at least some loose fabric.

4) You should be able to wear the dress without Spanx.

Sometimes there’s enough extra seam in a dress that you can have it let out, so you don’t have to buy new.  If not, you’ll have to decide whether you plan to lose the weight or simply size up.  If you’re not sure, I would buy a couple of inexpensive wrap dresses.  You can wear them now, and then if you lose the weight, they’ll still fit. The RealReal always has a good selection of under-$100 DvF dresses to choose from.

Memorial day has come and gone which means summer is finally here. With it, comes the office AC. It’s only been two weeks since our northeast office switched it on and I’ve been frozen everyday no matter what I wear. Figured others might be feeling the same.

Would love any thoughts you might have for finding an affordable cozy jumbo sweater this time of year, or any other solutions you’ve found for surviving the office freezer!

My best chilly office tip is to buy a heating pad.  Yes, a heating pad.  You lay it across your chair and sit on it.  It provides a surprising amount of warmth.  Another option is a foot warmer.

Beyond electric solution, a cozy sweater is always an option. My preferred sweater is the MM. LaFleur Morandi.  It’s unfathomably warm, but it’s a bit pricey.  Another option is a good cocoon sweater; I like this $23 Halston shawl collar and this stone-colored cardi from ASOS.  Another great option is Nordstrom’s Bobeau Long Cardigan.  Plus-size? Try this Junarose Cardigan.

If neither of those is the right option for you, a cashmere shawl is a good choice.  Just elegantly drape it over your shoulders.  I love this one from Alexander McQueen.  For something affordable, try this Cuccia Italia ombre wrap.

Hi Belle,

I love the fruit prints that I keep seeing everywhere.  The trouble is that I can’t find anything in my price range.  Can you help me find some fruit print pieces, maybe a cardi or a dress, for less than $100?  Maybe just a little over?  Lemons, cherries, something like that.  

Love the blog, AS

The fruit prints are a really fun thing for summer.  They can add a little whimsy to your outfit, but since it is such a trendy thing, you’re right not spend too much on it.

I thought this lemon-print Leslie Fay shirt dress was a great piece (it also comes in plus-sizes).  Lord & Taylor also has a lemon-print cardigan that’s really cuts (it also comes in plus size, as well).  This Unique Vintage cherry print dress is also a lot of fun.  Express has a cute cherry print top you could wear under a red cardigan.   It’s a little more than you wanted to spend, but this Rails strawberry print shirt has been on my wishlist for a bit.

Dear Abra,

You’ve said before that you’re obsessed with big hair, so I think you’re the right person for this question.  Do you use mousse or something else?  


I really choose my products depending on the day, and the hairstyle I’m going for.  But on an average day, I’m using KMS Add Volume Texture Cream.  You rub it into your hair from the ears to the ends to add lift.  It’s a milder take on big hair.

Prefer your lift at the root?  You have two options, mousse or texturizing spray.  I’m a big fan of the Pantene Volume Mousse for fine hair.  Use a silver dollar size amount and work it into the hair from the crown to the front, and then pull it through the ends.  For volume and texture, spray Drybar’s 3-in-1 onto the roots when the hair is wet, and then dry.



  1. Yael @ Nosherium says:

    eShakti has some cute (and some unfortunate) whimsical prints. I like that they are customizable so I don’t have to have them hemmed.
    Pineapple: https://www.eshakti.com/shop/Dresses/Pineapple-print-surplice-poplin-dress-CL0045995
    Cherries: https://www.eshakti.com/shop/Dresses/Cherry-print-pleated-crepe-dress-CL0049121
    Not fruit but my favorite: https://www.eshakti.com/shop/Dresses/Bird-print-cotton-knit-sheath-midi-dress-CL0048892

    June 7, 2017/Reply
  2. Cheets says:

    I use a heating pad year round. I’ll also drape a blanket over my legs if I’m feeling really cold, but that may be a know your office thing. I work in a very casual office in a secluded area of the building so I could wear a Snuggie and people probably wouldn’t notice. I’ll also take quick breaks during the day to warm up in the sun.

    June 7, 2017/Reply
  3. Monica T says:

    “A dress should be tight enough to show you’re a woman, and loose enough to prove you’re a lady.”

    My only problem with this quote is some of us have a body that never looks “ladylike” unless you’re wearing a paper bag. And that’s just unflattering. I’ve seen posts that talk about how you shouldn’t be able to see the undercurve of your chest or bum, and I can’t even imagine what I could wear that wouldn’t show that! So yes, it shouldn’t be bodycon, but a well tailored skirt or shirt on me might be less “ladylike” than Edith would like.

    June 7, 2017/Reply
    • Jenn S. says:

      I agree on this point. I understand what the Edith quote is trying to convey, but unless I resort to a bespoke wardrobe, that is pretty much not achievable for me except for an A-line Calvin Klein dress I own that, while pretty and flattering, just feels a touch too June Cleaver for work.

      Never bodycon, but never indecent. Also, I wear Spanx with a lot of workwear not to pull me in but to eliminate VPL.

      June 7, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I don’t buy that nonsense about under curve. I’m just saying their should be a little extra fabric when you pinch the seams. Also, if you look at some of the dresses Edith made for Marilyn Monroe, they weren’t exactly sacks.

      June 7, 2017/Reply
      • Jenn S. says:

        No criticism to you. I don’t think the quote is all bad, just perhaps not realistic for all body types. And, yeah – Marilyn wasn’t really known for dressing conservatively.

        June 10, 2017/Reply
  4. effie wong says:

    Loft also has a new arrival for lemon print dress/top/short, the dress is my favorite.

    June 7, 2017/Reply
  5. Leigh says:


    Check out the Moon River summer collection…so many delicious lemony prints.

    This dress is especially swoon-worthy:


    June 7, 2017/Reply
  6. Kate says:

    I couldn’t find them online, but Loft Outlet has some really cute cherry print shorts!

    June 8, 2017/Reply
  7. MH says:

    OMG Belle!! I cannot thank you enough for this post. I cannot believe how many people I’ve seen on the street in the last week who have violated every one of those rules. I have seen so many ill fitting dresses, visible SPANX as well as full on butt cheeks. These are all “work outfits” as well. It perplexes me why people show up to work in these things. We all have those outfits we;d love to fit into again, but sadly cannot. There is no shame in sizing up or losing weight. I’m not trying to be catty, but a little modesty does a long way, especially for a work outfit.

    June 15, 2017/Reply