Ask the Edit Vol. IV, No. Thirty-Eight

Dec 5, 2017

On this week’s Ask the Edit metallic nail polish, riding boots that last, casual dresses for Christmas parties, de-puffing your face, and more…

Hi Abra-

I’m a longtime reader of your blog and finally decided to pull the trigger and ask for help! I keep buying relatively affordable (~$150) riding boots to wear during the winter months in DC which end up lasting one season before they start looking scuffed and need to be replaced.

Do you have any recommendations for quality, supportive riding boots? I’d be willing to pay more for longer lasting boots. I’ve looked at some “comfort” options but most of those boots aren’t as stylish as I would hope they’d be. I also usually end up having to buy wide calf boots which further limits my selection. Thanks for your help!

– Emily 

You really can’t go wrong with a pair of Frye boots.  You can find discounted pairs like these Lindsay riding boots in black or these Melissa boots in brown.  Frye’s are well-known for their quality, and that as they age they usually end up looking better than they did new.

Another brand I’ve heard good things about is Aquatalia.  Their Geneva boots have a simple, chic look to them.  M.Gemi also has a wonderful Stalla Boot with a buckle detail.  Cole Haan also makes a nice boot.  I own a couple of pairs of their shoes and they’re quite comfy.

To keep your boots looking lovely longer, use Jason Markk’s water and stain repellent.  I also like his quick wipes for an easy cleanup after a slushy commute.  Those products and regular shines should help preserve them beyond a single season.


My brother’s Christmas party is a semi-casual affair but a BIG deal.  I need a cool dress that says “I just threw this amazing thing on and gave it no thought.”  What do you have?  

Thank you, Kath

I own this burgundy Theory panel sweater dress and it is incredible in person with high-heeled tall boots.  I know, they picture doesn’t look that great, but in person, whoa.  The swingy skirt and seamed bodice is very slimming.  I bought this dress because the second I put it on, I felt impossibly thin.  It also comes in black.

I also love this MM LaFleur Tina Dress that is flattering and Christmas-y in a holiday red.  I’ve posted this ivory BB Dakota sweater dress before, but it’s worth mentioning again.  Black tights, black boots, and a wonderfully relaxed updo will make it shine.  Other great options include this Eliza J fit and flare in green and this rose gold Leith sweater dress.

Plus-size?  I love this flounce sleeve crepe sheath from Talbots and this Adrianna Papell knit sheath.

Hi Belle,

I am on my second attempt at lash extensions. My first try of a full set drove me nuts and I went home and trimmed them as they were so obvious. I am now trying a partial set which looks better but still took too long to have applied, at least for my busy schedule.

Is there a way to apply half lashes at home?  I’ve tried MAC lashes and they look great but I worry about damaging my lashes when I remove them.

Have loved your blog for the past 4 years.  Judy

I tried lash extensions once, and I was amazed at how long they took to apply.  I don’t have a whole morning to lay, unmoving having lashes glued on.  No thanks.

If you’re concerned about damaging your lashes, follow the Bustle’s advice.  They lay out how to apply them and remove them to minimize damage to your real lashes.

MAC makes great lashes, but just as important as the lashes, is the glue.  I like the Duo glue with the brush on applicator.  It’s easier to apply than many formulas I’ve tried.  After the glue, you need the right tutorial.  I trust Lisa Eldridge’s advice implicitly.

Personally, I’m going to start using Latisse in the New Year to try to grow my own lashes.  My friend who writes The Escape feature, Sarah, uses it and her lashes look amazing.


My lobbying job involves lots of late night parties this holiday and it’s showing on my face.  How do I depuff my eyes and face?  Especially my eyes.  Everything feels swollen.  It’s gross. 

Please help. Lia

First, drink water and try to avoid salt.  If you’re not getting much sleep, and your imbibing regularly, you need to hydrate and cut out as much sodium as possible.

Second, no product de-puffs like Preparation H.  Many skincare brands sell expensive eye creams to take the puff out, but this still works the best.  I like the formula with aloe; it’s soothing.

To depuff your whole face, there is nothing better than a jade roller.  I’ve been using one of these for years, and it’s now becoming the thing.  This Shiffa roller is the gold standard, but you can find a good one on Amazon for less.

Byrdie has a tutorial on how to use your roller to reduce swelling in your face.  I also recommend keeping it in the fridge for extra cooling.


Do you have a favorite metallic nail polish?  I think I want to wear sparkle instead of red this Christmas.


Penny Talk from Essie is a great coppery polish.  My favorite gold is Glitzerland from OPI.  If you prefer a glitter polish, I use this Smith & Cult as an accent.  Silver isn’t my favorite, but I sometimes wear a sparkly charcoal/pewter like this OPI Lucerne-tainly.

Hi Abra,

I’m super allergic to most earrings. I’ve found 14k gold is the only material I’ve been able to wear without irritation. Last year I invested in a pair of gold bars with tiny diamonds, and a pair of double gold bars that crawl along my earlobe a bit. I like both, but sometimes I want to wear JEWELRY! I get so jealous of tassel earrings and ear crawlers.

I bought these and wore them to a wedding, felt fabulous, and then had to take them off after an hour or so. Can you find me some fashionable earrings that have gold or surgical steel posts and don’t cost $500?

Thanks for what you do, I love reading your blog every day. EM

Baublebar says that these Amadea earrings have surgical steel posts.  In fact, many of their styles seem to be made with surgical steel.  I like these Anastasia earrings the best.

For 14k gold, these stylish Freida Rothman drops come in at an acceptable $87.  These lapis and gold earrings are pricier at $317, but very beautiful.  For something trendy, try these Rebecca Minkoff tassel chandelier earrings.

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  1. Michaela says:

    I love Blondo for boots! They’re like Aquatalia at a lower price point. Because they are waterproof, they hold up well. Some styles are classic enough to wear with tights and skirts at the office, so I live in mine all winter.

    • Heather says:

      Agree. I love my Blondo flat riding boots for winter with skirts and dresses. I have also had my Aquatalia boots resoled a couple of times. You cannot beat Aquatalia for a warm insulated boot that looks fabulous. I clean and polish my boots several times a season and get them resoled; I just had to throw out a pair of JCrew boots that I had purchased in 2002 (back when their boots were fantastic). It was a sad day.

      • Kim says:

        BLONDO ALL THE WAY. I have two Frye boot styles. The leather is so delicate I really can’t wear them in winter/wet weather. I wore my Frye Melissas during the winter last year and took great care to clean them, waterproof and condition them..aaaand they look like shit now 🙁 my Blondos have been amazing. They continue to look amazing and professional.

  2. Sarah says:

    A tip for Emily: I also have big calves for my foot size and used to always look at wide calf boots. One day I fell in love with a pair of Frye boots that I could *technically* zip up but they were TIGHT. Like if I walked too long in them, my legs felt tingly probably because of reduced blood flow kind of tight. I took them to a cobbler and he was able to stretch the calves out and now they fit perfectly! See if you can find a good quality cobbler in your area and ask them if they can stretch boots out. They should be able to tell you how many inches they can do for a given pair of boots. Changed my life!

    • anna says:

      Frye has wide calf options. My calves are just wide enough that most boots are snug, but I got the Frye Melissa in wide and they fit perfectly. Since Frye tends to run narrow, their wide calf sizes aren’t too big, more like on the wider side of average.

  3. JeN says:

    When you buy your new boots, pick up a shoe shine kit. Ask your grandpa (or google) how to keep your shine and fix scuffs. Shoes that have regular cleaning and shine maintenance end up with the BEST patina and will last much longer.

  4. Jen says:

    Aquatalia is having a crazy good sale on the ‘Geneva’ boot — $149! marked down from $595

  5. kate says:

    To the first question: BUY THE BOOTS AT THE FRYE STORE! They will service and repair your boots for FREE. You have to buy them through Frye and not through a place like Nordstrom. Take the time at the register to link the purchase to your name and email, and keep the receipt. I have two pairs of riding boots from Frye. One is five years old and in great condition because I’ve had them serviced. The other is two years old and starting to show signs of wear, but I know they will come back looking brand new once I take them in. Frye Store! Frye Store! Worth the trip to Georgetown! Their customer service is great!

    • Jennifer says:

      Frye also has a store location at Tysons Corner Center, accessible via the Silver Line, for those in the Washington, DC area.

  6. Orla says:

    Bought a pair of Tommy Hilfiger riding boots in 2015 and they have lasted two Irish winters, with daily rain and walking miles in a commute. Super comfortable, and have held up so so well! The sole shows little to no wear. Plus I get a lot of compliments on them! I think DSW has a similar style on sale right now.

  7. Claire says:

    Don’t forget they make magnetic eyelashes so they may be easier than pulling off glued lashes. Just a thought

  8. Katie says:

    PSA, 15% off at ShopBop for new customers who purchase via the app with code 15foryou !

  9. Kim says:

    On the topic of earrings, you could always see if you can buy 14k gold earring hooks from amazon or someone who sells jewelery making supplies and see if a jeweler or etsy designer can switch just the hook from a pair that you like (or ask an etsy designer to see if they can customize just the hook)

    • Jill says:

      Interesting. I remember reading that painting the earring post with clear nail polish can help.

    • Allison says:

      I do this all the time! It takes a couple minutes and a pair of needle nose pliers to switch out the earring hooks. I’m allergic to everything except titanium and 14k gold, as far as I can tell. I’ve also tried painting the posts with nail polish, but it only lasts a wear or two so I’ve given up on it.

      If you are buying from a smaller operation, like someone at a craft fair, if you tell them about their allergies they will frequently switch out the hooks for you right there.

    • Yup! Great option! I have a nickel allergy and can only do yellow gold and silver. I’ve found that white gold irritates me. I keep telling my husband that maybe platinum earrings are in order for the holidays… for science of course!

      I ordered a bunch of gold and silver hooks from etsy and swapped out everything I could. I made myself a pair of kickass tassel earrings recently from pre-made tassels and some beads.

      I have several pairs of earrings from Nordstrom Rack including sterling silver studs from Judith Jack, some gold drop earrings with silver posts, and some lovely pieces from Freida Rothman (gold over silver).

      • Pat says:

        I switch out my all of my hooks with ones that are gold. After awhile, you know which ones you can transfer over easily I do not coat the hook with clear nail polish. My ear knows that there is sterling silver in there – it is not worth the pain.

    • Claire says:

      My sister in law is terribly allergic to everything but platinum so she swaps the hooks out for niobium ones! They’re totally inert, come in lots of anondized colors to match whatever jewelry you pick, and are very affordable.

  10. MK says:

    Does anyone know if Frye boots have removable insoles? For any shoes that I’m going to spend time walking in, I have to replace the existing insole with an orthotic.

  11. Sara says:

    EM may have already tried this, but I swear by Vaseline for my sensitive ears/earrings. I also cannot wear anything that isn’t sterling silver, platinum or 14k gold without irritation. However, if I put a small amount of Vaseline on the parts of the earrings that will touch my ears as well as inside the hole (to the extent I can) it works for me. If I don’t do this…. ouch. I can sympathize.

  12. Catherine says:

    EM, I have the same problems with metal allergies. But I recently discovered that all of Banana Republic’s earrings are made with surgical steel. They don’t always say it on the website, but the physical packaging does and I’ve never had a problem with them.

  13. k-t says:

    Another brand of weather-proof dressy boots is La Canadienne. More affordable than Aquatalia. Most of their styles are conservative, i.e., classic and enduring, rather than trendy or fashionable. I’ve had my La Canadienne riding-style boots for at least five winters and they are in great shape. Spending more for weather-proof boots will help them last longer than regular leather boots. If they aren’t weather-proof, you really should let the leather dry completely between wears (at least 24 hours), which is not practical for you daily commuting boots. You might luck out on a pair of a previous year’s style on 6PM or another sale site.

  14. Michelle says:

    I have the same problem as EM- I can wear very few brands of earrings without irritation. I think J.Crew (unfortunately) are some of the worst on my skin. Tory Burch, however, are GREAT for me! Try to catch a pair on sale and see if you can tolerate them. I also find that the lighter the earring, the better, and also the less metal that actually touches my earlobe, the better. So that means nothing with like a big jewel on my earlobe, but small posts with dangly bits work ok. Hope this helps!

  15. Keilexandra says:

    I’m allergic to nickel and especially sensitive in my ear piercings. The styles might be a bit too minimalist for you, but check out Mejuri — all of their metals are hypoallergenic. I buy a lot of stuff from indie designers, too.

  16. MM says:

    Re: metallic nail polish, I have to put in a plug for one of my very favorite colors: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Terra Coppa.

    The color looks a little weird on the website, but it’s definitely less orange and more rose gold/copper in real life. I almost always get compliments on it when I wear it! I love it because it goes with everything like a neutral (and isn’t flashy or gaudy) but is more fun and interesting than a typical blush.

    I also recently bought Adrenaline Crush ( on a whim and was pleasantly surprised by it. It looked like a dark silver color in the bottle, but once I put it on the color was almost impossible to pin down: sort of slate, sort of rose gold, almost purple-y in some lights. Much more interesting color than I expected!

  17. Mallory says:

    For a more casual boot, I recently purchased a pair of Sorel Major Tall boots and they are FABULOUS. They’re waterproof and have a good, sturdy sole. They’re last year’s style but, depending on your size, still available on Amazon (

  18. Brandi says:

    For Emily’s boot problem, it’s also worth pointing out that there is a PHENOMENAL cobbler out in the Vienna area. He’s saved shoes that I thought were beyond saving a few times, and he’s incredibly reasonable. George’s Shoe Repair on Lee Highway. 100% worth the trip out – I took my boots to him this fall because the zipper fell apart, and he replaced it, cleaned up the scuffs and polish, and reheeled them for $20.

  19. Mpls says:

    Question on the Theory dress: how is the sizing? Theory generally runs small on me but in something with a lot of stretch, I don’t want it to look baggy?

  20. SN says:

    I can endorse the recommendation for La Canadienne. I bought a pair of their riding boots to visit a client in upstate NY in the winter, and they were not only perfect to wear on the plane immediately after purchase, but chic, kept my feet warm on the long drive from Montreal, and are still looking great after 4 years! I like the French-influenced styling-yet they are tough enough for Canadian winters too! They are slightly more expensive but worth every penny. Mine still look great! I will never buy another brand of riding boot now.

  21. Brianna says:

    re: EM earring problem

    I have an allergy to nickel and try to get the earrings that say “nickel free” at that helps a lot!

    Earlier this year I started applying a coating to my earrings that aren’t nickel free or had irritated my ears previously. And it worked for me!! It’s not expensive ($15) and well worth the chance if you have some earrings on hand that you would like to try out.

    ProtectaClear 1 Oz. Clear, Protective Coating for Metal.

  22. Sally says:

    My Aquatalia Orso riding boots are one of the best clothing investments I have ever made. I have narrow feet and calves and they fit and wear beautifully. I have walked miles in them in total comfort.

    Even though my Aquatalias were not offered in a narrow width, I am able to wear them in a medium because I wear Smartwool Light Hiker socks underneath. If you have never worn these socks under boots, do yourself and your feet a big favor and give them a try!

  23. Shelly says:

    So question on using preparation H to depuff the bags under your eyes: Do you just dab it on directly on the bags? That might be a silly question!

  24. Re: Eyelashes and falsies and so on…

    Skip all that nonsense and use EyEnvy Serum. You can read about my experience with it here. People actually ask me if my eyelashes are real (AND THEY ARE)

    It is amazing, I don’t even need to curl my lashes any more, just a bit of mascara and they’re so long, they curl on their own.

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