Ask the Edit: Vol. V, No. Five

Feb 1, 2018

I don’t usually write to Ask the Edits in a week, but a lot of good questions came in after Tuesday’s post, and I really wanted to answer them.  Today, we’re talking about salary requirements, crewneck sweaters, hoop earrings, and more.

Hi Abra:

In search of a staple, a gray crew neck pull over sweater.  I’ve been wearing a jcrew factory one for the past couple of years, but of course, it did not last.  Where do you recommend shopping for sweater staples, that will last?

Thank you! Erica 

If you’re looking for staple sweaters, one of the best sources is Everlane.  In grey, they offer a linen crewneck sweater, a pima cotton micro-rib sweater, and in their cashmere sweater.  These sweaters run from $60 to $100, a reasonable price for a good-quality staple sweater.

Another option is Bloomingdale’s.  They have two in-store brands, Aqua and C by Bloomingdale’s, that both have good products.  This Aqua cashmere sweater has a relaxed look to it.  This C sweater in charcoal is also lovely.  Most of the sweaters at Bloomingdale’s are on sale right now for less than-$75.

One last place to look is Talbot’s.  The clothes are good quality.  They come in petite and plus sizes, as well as misses.  They have a cashmere grey crewneck for $36 right now.


I had my makeup done for a wedding and the makeup artist put highlighter pencil under my brows and and a few other places, and it really looked great.  My eyes were closed, so I didn’t see what she used.  Do you have a favorite highlighter?  And do you know how to apply it?


I use this L’Oreal dual-ended highlighter.  It has both a matte and shimmer formula in one pencil.  For a creamier formula, try Clinique Chubby Stick.  As for where to apply it, try this handy chart.


Huge fan of your blog. I was hoping you might have some thoughts on a Tory Burch bag I’m debating for spring.  Love the bag, love the size but for the price, I’m hesitant as I’ve had Tory Burch bags before and been disappointed with the quality.

Any thoughts on something similar? Jennifer

It’s a cute bag, but if you’ve been disappointed in the quality in the past, I say skip it.  If it’s the tassel detail you like, let’s see if we can find something similar.

This Elizabeth & James tassel crossbody has a cool modern look.  This $48 vegan crossbody from Free People is a bit more relaxed, but still lovely.  For something more expensive, this Kate Spade has a good look to it.

Want to hack your way into a tasseled crossbody?  Buy a great crossbody, Dagne Dover’s Andra for example, and add a tassel, like this Mark & Graham tassel.  Or you can hunt around on Etsy for a cheaper accessory with a similar look.


Do you have any recommendations for hoop earrings?

– Margaret 

Right now, my favorite hoop earrings are these hug hoops from Melissa Joy Manning.  If you’re looking for something more traditional, let’s go shopping.

These thin Melissa Joy Manning hoops are a nice size, neither small nor large.  These small Gorjana hoops are a nice, affordable option.  For something more unique, try these disc hoops, these square hoops, or these clip-in hoops from Etsy.  Want large hoops?  Try these Sphera inside-out hoops.

Prefer silver?  These J.Crew leaf hoops are great.  For a great basic, try these Shashi hoops.

Hi Belle!

I’m a 60 year old trying to find a outfit/dress for a a family member’s spring college graduation in Massachusetts. Any suggestions??

– A>F>

Since it’s someone else’s graduation, you want to look great without standing out.  After all, it’s not your day, you don’t want your outfit to be a distraction in photos.  But you still want to look good.

May weather can be unpredictable; so I recommend sleeves.  This Etsuko dress in dark teal is a classic that can be worn in any season.  Boden’s Kaia dress and Rhiannon dresses are both good options.  I also like this Leota circle flare dress and this cobalt Tahari dress are both worth a look.

Plus-size?  Try this Lafayette 148 Paige shift or this printed Geo Bars flare dress.

Hi Abra,

I have a background non-profit work and am currently job hunting because there is no room for growth in my current position. One frustration in my search is that very few job postings list a salary range. Do I inquire on the salary range before submitting an official application or is that off putting? I don’t want to make a bad first impression, but I also don’t want to waste my time applying for a position that comes with an entry level salary. Do you have any advice? Thanks! Love the blog!

– Mackenzie 

First off, do not ask before you submit an application.  That would be considered rude by many, presumptuous by most.  I would either ignore that e-mail or drop your resume out of the pile.

Second, there are websites that post salary information for many companies.  Start with Glassdoor.  Even if they don’t have that specific company, they may be able to give you an industry estimate.

Lastly, I don’t have to tell you how low salaries in the non-profit arena are.  That’s the nature of the beast.  If your concern is that you don’t know if a position is entry-level, than that’s an issue.  If the title is murky, and you can’t sort it out from the description (5+ years experience, management experience required, etc.), then that is a question you can ask.  Call the front desk, say you’re considering applying for the position titled X, and ask the receptionist that it’s entry level.

Salary is something that’s dependent not only on the job, but on the quality of the applicant.  If I get into an interview and someone asks what my salary requirements are, I tell them my current salary, but also state, “I’m sure there is a salary band for this position, and given my qualifications, I’d like to be at or near the top of that band.”  Almost no one is going to disclose salary until you get to the interview phase, if you feel that’s a waste of your time, than you’re tilting at windmills.

The worst that happens is you get an interview, hear a low number, and gracefully bow out because the salary doesn’t match your current requirements.  Send them a thank you for their time, and move on to the next one.

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  1. KS says:

    Re: salary requirements – surprised to hear that you would share your current salary in an interview. Unless you’re in a role where your current salary could be found on Legistorm, probably best to not answer – it shows your hand to the interviewer and reduces your bargaining power. Better to say “My salary requirement is $X.” or “I’m looking to make $X in my next position.” or “I would need $X to consider leaving my current role.”

    • e says:

      I agree with this. Also worth noting that sharing current salary with a prospective employer is one way that the gender wage disparity continues.

      • Allison says:

        You’re sometimes forced too. In my interview for my current job, the hiring manager told me that she would not move me forward in the process unless I would answer her question as to what my current salary was. I kept repeating, I would like to be paid a competitive salary for this role and my qualifications, which based on my research is, “$XYZ”. She got frustrated with me, never great, and repeated that without knowing current salary she would hang up the phone and I would not hear from them again.

        • EH says:

          Yikes! Glad you ultimately got the role, but that was incredibly unprofessional on her part.

        • Jenn S. says:

          Allison, your experience in that interview process would have raised a red flag for me. To me, that’d be a sign that place isn’t a good fit (for me).

        • Lexi says:

          And that would’ve been a big, red flag about the company culture. On the nonprofit employer end, I like putting the salary range out there in the job posting so as not to waste anyone’s time. But I realize that’s not done in the private sector.

        • Belle says:

          Allison, I would have checked the state law on that one. If she’s within her rights, I think I still would have contacted her HR dept. or a supervisor. If someone doing the hiring for my company was threatening to hang up on applicants, I’d want to know it.

          • Allison says:

            It’s actually a fantastic job and a wonderful culture, which is why I stuck through the bad interview process. (And a big pay raise and exec title for me.) I had been trying to get a job at this company for 5 years before I finally did, and had enough colleagues here to know what the culture was like. She was a real bad egg, and doesn’t work for us anymore. She didn’t actually do anything that violated employment law in this state, but it was in bad taste. Once I started hiring, I wanted to be sure my recruiter didn’t do that to my candidates, she didn’t. I think it’s easy to say, oh that’s a red flag you shouldn’t interview there anymore, but I’m glad I didn’t judge the whole company off of one recruiter.

    • Rachel says:

      I also want to note that more and more states and cities – including NYC, recently – have passed laws which make it illegal for an employer to ask for your salary history. In my experience, that still doesn’t stop them from asking, but do know that the employer can’t force you to disclose that information in those places, and you definitely shouldn’t work there (and should also consider reporting them to the appropriate government agency) if they do.

    • Ashley says:

      Also adding that is now illegal in many states, including New York, to be asked your current salary in an application process.

      • LS says:

        Was just going to chime in to say this. And totally agree on the gender disparity. Feel free to reference that reason. If they don’t respect that, run far far away.

        On the positive side, what I’ve actually experienced is companies being worried they’re going to lowball me so much that I dismiss them immediately. I say calming things to assure them that won’t happen (and mention the gender disparity if I need to) and it’s been fine.

    • Belle says:

      I think this is a different calculus for me because every salary I’ve ever had is publicly available information — my House salary and lobbying salary are both available via Google.

      • KS says:

        Sure – but even then, let them look it up! If they really need to know they’ll figure it out (it’s their job!), but it’s no benefit to you to hand it over.

        • Belle says:

          I understand your argument, if I were applying for work off Hill, I wouldn’t say. But there’s also a difference between asking for your “salary requirements” and asking for your last salary. If I have a good idea what this job pays, I’m going to ask for the max.

    • Tina says:

      I was coming here to write the EXACT same thing. I NEVER disclose my salary information when applying for jobs. I recently got a $40k increase applying for a new job and had I told them what I was currently making, there is no way in hell they would’ve given me that salary. Let them tell you what they think you’re worth based on the position and decide whether that number is something you agree with or something you want to walk away from.

  2. Clara says:

    I like the look of Melissa Joy Manning earrings. Do they get caught in things with the open hoop (i.e hair, pulling on sweaters)?

  3. Sof says:

    As someone who hires for a non-profit, let me tell you what I do: Our job postings don’t share salary for dumb bureaucratic reasons, but in the email scheduling a phone interview or at the end of the first phone screen I share what the salary range is. I don’t want to put people on the spot, so I mention that it’s “just to give you an idea of whether we’re in the same ballpark.”

    I almost never want to hear what someone makes at their current role, and I’m shocked that people offer it up so freely. It can be far too easy to get anchored to that number and offer a lower salary than I might otherwise have been willing to do.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for answering my question (about the Tory Burch bag)!

  5. AK says:

    Chiming in as a grad student who just spent an entire semester studying negotiations and influence in salary negotiations. I’m also a big advocate of not revealing your current salary unless backed into a corner.

    If you expect that you’ll be asked about salary in an interview (and generally, you should expect some discussion of salary, especially if you’re on a second interview or later), you’ll want to be prepared with a few pieces of information walking in. First, really do your research. Look at how much the company/industry pays people in similar positions (Glassdoor is excellent for this, as is Fairygodboss). Consider your experience and skills compared to others in the industry or what’s listed in the job posting. After doing this research you’re going to want to have in mind your ideal salary and keep that number close to the vest. You’re then going to have your “reservation price” in mind; this is the number at which you absolutely decide to walk away from the negotiation (but again, don’t reveal this to the party you’re negotiating with). Finally, you’re going to want to prepare a starting point for negotiations; something like “I’m understand that the salary range for a job at this level in this field is $xxx to $zzz. Given my experience and skills, I believe a salary of $yyy is appropriate”. Start higher than your ideal salary, but not so high that they’ll balk or walk away themselves. As you negotiate, keep in mind both your target salary AND your reservation point; knowing when you should just walk away is just as important as knowing what your ideal salary is.

    Another thing I think is frequently forgotten during negotiations is that non-salary compensation and benefits are sometimes easier to negotiate for. Not getting the salary number you want? Try inquiring (politely, but firmly) about additional paid leave, 401k matching, bonuses, timing of your first review/salary increase, tuition reimbursement, childcare allowances, relocation expenses, etc. Sometimes companies have really strict ranges for salary that can’t be negotiated by the hiring manager, but they might be able to work out a compromise of non-salary benefits to close the deal and keep all parties happy. Good luck out there!

  6. Mallory says:

    For folks looking at nonprofits (especially small-to-mid-sized ones that might not have a big presence on websites like Glassdoor), look up their IRS 990 forms! You should be able to find them for free on websites like GuideStar or Charity Navigator as they are free and public record.

    Why look up their tax forms, you say? First of all, they’ll give you a good understanding of the size of the organization’s budget. Second, they list the compensation of the highest-compensated/key employees. With some very simple research, you can see if the Executive Director’s salary is lower than what you’d leave for, if they’re paying for benefits at all, what the total salary pool is for their employees. It’s not a science, of course, because funding may have changed from the prior year, but it’s always a good starting point.

    • Callie says:

      I second the recommendation to review the organization’s 990.
      I’d also recommend looking up as much information as possible about the hierarchy of the organization — either on their website or through other sources — so you can gauge where the position you’re applying for is relative to the overall organization. You can also ask about the department’s reporting structure during the interview (or even prior to applying), which will also help you determine where the position falls within the organization.

  7. Sally says:

    Regarding the crossbody bag, I bought the Cuyana “Mini Tassel Bag” last September and have been carrying it almost daily since then. I have been very pleased with the quality. The pebbled texture of the leather keeps it from showing any scratches and the zipper has held up beautifully from much wear and tear.

  8. k says:

    I have to chime in about the Talbot’s cashmere sweater. I bought six last year in their year-end close out, and I’m incredibly disappointed in the quality. The entire sweater began pilling after the first wear—they looked like something I’d been wearing for years. And they got holes where they rubbed over the button of my pants after just a few wears. I’m glad I got them on sale, but I still feel like I paid too much.

  9. Keilexandra says:

    I bought the Midi Hoops in gold vermeil from Mejuri last year, and they’re my most-worn earrings. Classic, affordable, AND the hypoallergenic promise is actually true. I have extremely sensitive ear piercings and have worn these earrings so much that the part which goes through my ear is visibly discolored, yet I haven’t had an allergic reaction. From this I deduce that the base alloy used underneath the gold vermeil really is nickel-free.

  10. Lauren says:

    As far as staple sweaters go, I’ve been buying men’s Banana Republic Crowne is, v-necks, and turtlenecks for years. They hold up so much better than the women’s sweaters, are usually thicker, and have longer sleeves (which is a huge plus for me). I wait until there’s a 40% off sale or I stock up at the outlet. I’m not especially busty, so the cut may not work for everyone, but it’s been a game changer for me!

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