Ask the Edit Vol. IV, No. Thirty

Oct 18, 2017

Hi Belle,

Can you help me find a black high heel boot and/or bootie for the office?  Everything I find is NOT appropriate for an office in the State Department. Help. Also, I need to spend less than $150.


Let’s start with some kitten heel black booties. The Donald Pliner Faie booties and these Via Spiga Aurora booties are good basics.  Adrienne Vittadini makes a bootie with lovely details.

As for tall boots, those are tougher to find in your price range.  This $200 pair of Sam Edelman’s are lovely.  Aerosoles also has a great pair (with a stable looking heel) for $159.   The best under-$100 pair I found are these Carlos Santana boots.


Leopard scarves, yay or nay? I have one and it just feels like too much.

Love your blog! KL

A leopard scarf is a great add.  Hell, I think leopard anything is a great add to basic neutral pieces.  But that doesn’t mean it’s a great add for every outfit or a great add for you.

If you don’t feel like a leopard person, than go with that.  Just because other people like it doesn’t mean you will.  Maybe you like bright colors or geometric prints or chunky knits.  Pick the accent trend that you feel good about.

If this is just a styling problem, then here is my advice: Keep It Simple.  Leopard scarf with a simple black sweater.  With a white/ivory sheath.  With jeans, a white tee, and a black blazer.  Start simple, branch out.

Need a leopard scarf?  This $19 one from Nordstrom is my favorite right now.  Chic, unfussy, not tacky leopard in an affordable package.

Dear Abra/Belle,

My fiance and I are having a courthouse wedding.  It just feels right for us, it’s not about the money.  My soon-to-be MIL is complaining and offering to buy me “any dress I want” if we have a big church wedding.  It’s so tempting.  This is out of your wheelhouse, but would you do?  You gave me some advice about first dates three years ago and it was just what I needed.  

Also, if I could ask another question, would you wear a short dress to a civil ceremony?  

Sincerely, A

The hardest thing in life is to tell people you love, no.  This woman is your fiance’s family, and about to be yours.  She’s overstepping.  She probably doesn’t think she is, because parents have dreams for how their children’s big life events will and should go, but she is.  The only people who get a primary opinion about your wedding are you and your man.  I would talk to him first, how would he handle this?

Don’t complain about his mom, just ask him as the subject matter expert how to talk to her about this.  You probably need to do it together.  And you need to do it as a united front.  This is your choice, this is why you’re making it, and you’re doing it together.  I’m sorry, this sucks, but it gives you a chance to handle a problem together in a productive way.

As for a dress, wear what you want.  I mean, I wouldn’t break out a huge, Cinderella style ball gown with a 20′ train, but there is some room here.  If you go for a short dress, there are great options.  A sleek one like this Roland Mouret.  A party dress like this Unique Vintage dress.  Want a long dress?  BHLDN has some lovely ones, this simple Sawyer dress would be nice.

My best advice, doled out from the dozens of brides I know, is just be you.  Have the wedding that feels like you and will feel like you 20 years from now.  As one of my friends told me when I asked her about this, “You and your hubs are the focus, fight to be the focus, but don’t overlook people.  You can include people without making them decision makers.”

Hi Abra, 

Quick question, have you tried the Beachwaver?  It looks like the easiest curling iron ever, but is it good?


I just bought it because Grace raves about it (and I had a coupon to Ulta), so I’ll report back.

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  1. Sof says:

    I was also recently on the hunt for tall, heeled boots to wear to work. I settled on two pairs (both under $150) from 6pm, and can update you when they arrive which one is the keeper!

    Boot #1 –

    Boot #2-

    A few years ago I had some Nine West heeled boots in the same style as the Sam Edelman ones above, and they were so uncomfortable because the heel was too thin. I’m hoping to have better luck with a chunkier heel this winter.

    • Sof says:

      The verdict: the Calvin Klein boots are the winners. The Michael Kors ones didn’t look as professional in person, maybe because the ankle section wasn’t very well defined so didn’t fit quite as well. However, the Michael Kors did have better traction. Both fit well on my 13.5″ calves.

  2. Valerie says:

    @Cailey- more suggestions for tall black leather boots under-$150. I’ve found surprisingly nice faux-leather tall boots at Target. I like this Aerosoles pair for $80 (they’re also available in black suede): They also have a good selection of booties with a high but not too-high heel.

    Another brand I like is Franco Sarto (usually at Nordstrom or Nordstrom Rack). Their tall boots are very streamlined and classy, with a tall but walkable stacked heel. I bought these for $150 a few years ago and they’ve held up remarkably well:

  3. Allison says:

    One suggestion for a courthouse wedding, you may be surprised at how fast the whole thing is, so make a plan to do whatever you want afterwards that will mark the occasion for you two meaningfully. Also remember that you will want at least some pictures, and courthouses usually feel like a dingy office building, take a minute to do that outside or at another location even if you don’t want to hire a photographer. My husband and I were sole witnesses for our best friends, we snuck in champagne to the courthouse and ate cake in the park next door. I brought my professional camera that I barely know how to use, and they were very appreciative. Also props to staying true to yourself and your man.

  4. joy says:

    Two comments:

    1. A wedding dress is tiny percentage of the cost of the wedding. Average wedding runs at least $20,000 in the US these days, many more. Her offering you a dress does not take care of the significant cost, of the wedding that you don’t even want.

    2. The Beachwaver is amazing. And I have ZERO skill with regards to hair/makeup and it is so easy and effective. I felt so frivolous buying such an expenseive curling iron. But it is worth it, and they have a warranty.

  5. a says:

    Oh my gosh, if you are not inclined to do a big church wedding, don’t do it just for a fabulous dress. Even for those who want big weddings, there are are so many unanticipated headaches (caters, music, floral arrangement’s, spats between the parents, drama about the seating chart…) No dress is worth it.

  6. Jess says:

    Skip the wedding! I’ve been married 16 years, and if I could go back and do it over I would totally do the courthouse thing! Our wedding was only $6,000 but honestly, I don’t remember much of it, and even at that cost I don’t think it was worth the money.

  7. Brianna says:

    I highly recommend the curling iron I link below. I loved it so much that when I left mine behind at an airbnb I purchased it again immediately! I’m not really great at doing anything to my stick straight ultra long hair but this curler really just works! Plus it’s inexpensive ($40). I love that it doesn’t clamp the hair so you don’t get crimp marks. I always get tons of compliments when I use it. And for some reason because it works so well on my hair, I can do loose Victoria secret-esque curls while I wait for my coffee to brew.

    Highly, highly recommend.


  8. Monica T says:

    It’s a dress you will wear once, and a single day that begins your entire married life – that’s where the real work starts. Don’t do it for the dress, and don’t do it to please your future mother-in-law. If you as a couple decide that maybe you want to meet somewhere in the middle between courthouse elopement and ginormous church wedding, then tell your mother-in-law you appreciate the offer but no thanks, and then meet her in the middle anyway.

  9. Amy says:

    I had a courthouse wedding and my advice would be to definitely hire a professional photographer. I posted on craigslist looking for a photographer and got tons of replies. I hired the cheapest one (I think it was $250 for 3 hours) and he turned out to be awesome (he was a professional photog who was looking to break into wedding photography). It was raining so he suggested we go in a nearby museum and we got some spectacular photos from that.

    Some people do wear long dresses, which seemed a little strange to me. I wore a short off-white dress from the bridesmaid section with a cool sash I found on etsy and some killer heels.

    Don’t feel like you can’t bring guests though, most places allow up to a set number. Make a reservation and go for a nice brunch afterwards. I felt on such a high after that moment; it would have felt weird to go home and do laundry or something.

  10. AMANDA says:

    I had a big wedding AND a courthouse wedding (for cross-state legal purposes) and the courthouse wedding is by far my fondest memory. It was so special. Be true to yourself!

  11. Sam says:

    My husband and I had a civil ceremony in a garden near the courthouse and I bought a short, lacy dress from BHLDN that I loved and was appropriate for the occasion. I even wore it again when we had our marriage blessed in the church the following year. I have never been a gown kind of gal. Do what feels right for you, not what someone else requests of you.

  12. CX says:

    As someone who had the <ten person wedding in a park that she wanted… and then was backed into a huge reception in my in-laws's home state, you really need to consider how much time and commitment the big wedding will take vs. how strongly you feel the need to pacify your future in-laws. Unless she's throwing in a full-service wedding planner and paying for everything, not even a $20k dress (that you'll wear once, as everyone has noted) would begin to make up for the costs and constant emotional labor of planning a big effing wedding.

  13. crockett says:

    Do not have a large wedding for the dress! The cost and headaches are not worth it if it’s not important to you and your future husband. My husband and I wanted our ceremony to be more private so we got married in a small chapel with a few family members and friends and had a large, casual party a few hours later. His mother did not understand and didn’t like it, but it was perfect for us. She got over it. Also, it’s his parent, he needs to stand up to her.

  14. Cait says:

    If you let your mother-in-law “buy”you this time, it sets a precedence that she can buy her way into whatever decisions you and your fiance make as a couple.

    Looking at a new house? She’ll give you money for one closer to her…etc, etc.

    You’ve made a decision that is best for you guys, don’t let someone try to tempt you into a grand affair simply for a dress. Like others have mentioned, the costs of a larger wedding go WAY beyond a fabulous dress.

    I highly recommend checking out a destination court house wedding to NYC. You just need 24 hours in between applying for the license and the ceremony itself. The courthouse (the clerk’s office) is actually pretty fabulous and you will see the most interesting people ever. Ditto to other posters that recommended a pro photographer…google elopements/courthouse weddings and you will some truly gorgeous ideas.

    Congrats and best of luck!

  15. katherine says:

    Cailey, have you started work yet? I think you’ll find there’s a broad range of definitions of “appropriate” at the Department. I’m sure whatever boots you’re looking at will be just fine :).

  16. HH says:

    A – I wore a short dress for our small (17 people, total) wedding in a local park and would’ve loved to have all of the fun options that are out there now. Mine was above the knee and in retrospect, I wish it had been a bit longer since it looks a bit off in the photos.

    Belle and the other readers had such great thoughts on this question, so I’ll just add that my husband and I are still really happy that we had a small wedding that was on our own terms.

  17. sarah says:

    Hi Abra!

    In re Adrienne Vittadini, since reading in April that the Ivanka Trump brand was being sold under the AV label, I’ve basically turned away from the AV brand when I see it, in an effort to shop with my dollar. What do you know about the status of that at this point?


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