Style + Ask the Edit

Ask the Edit: Vol. V, No. Ten

Graduation gift suggestions, how to treat body acne, whether business suits must be dry cleaned together, and more in this week’s Ask the Edit.


I am looking for good quality and affordable tights (nude or really any color). I am looking for something that is comfortable and won’t fall apart after a few washings (I either wash by hand or use a laundry bag). Any suggestions are appreciated!


I think Spanx make the best tights on the market if you’re looking for black.  Other readers swear by the Commando tights, but I struggle to keep them up.  For budget options, I like Berkshire’s microfiber tights.

Need “nude” nylons?  I own two pair.  The first are these Wolford nylons that have been washed six times and are still in good shape.  The second are these Donna Karan tights that have only been washed once.

The key to washing tights is to use a laundry bag and gentle soap on the delicates cycle.  Some washers employ the spin cycle for delicates, I turn that on low or off.

Hi Abra,

Your blog continues to be a livesaver! I’m headed to a Florida bachelorette next month, and am looking for a swimsuit coverup that can go from the beach/boat to the street. My must-haves are not too short, not too sheer, coverage for my easily burned shoulders, and not white. Under ~$75 would be ideal.

Thanks so much! Nicole

My preferred cover-up is either a cotton voile maxi dress or a short t-shirt dress.

I know you said no white, but by way of example, this ASOS crinkle maxi would be my ideal beach coverup.  This sage and pink maxi dress is another good choice.   The best places to find these types of dresses in your price range are typically at your destination.

For t-shirt dresses, this v-neck Socialite dress is perfect.  This C+C California tee dress, and this Michael Stars tee are both nice.  Plus-size? Try this Land’s End dress.

Just want a traditional cover-up?  This red and pink Heidi Klum is cute.  I also like this J. Valdi Portofino cover-up in a fun print.

Need sun protection?  Check out a brand called Mott 50.  The fabric protects you from the sun’s rays.


I’m headed to a close friend’s wedding in Wyoming in June. (She grew up on a ranch. I did not.) The dress code is casual and they suggested boots.

What’s a cosmopolitan gal to do?  Rae

Typically, I wouldn’t recommend that a non-native don boots.  But if they recommend boots, then it’s fine to wear them to the wedding.  I didn’t grow up on a ranch, so even though I was born out West, I only wear my boots to the rodeo (when everyone wears them).

Ariat is a good brand.  I like this pair.  I wouldn’t recommend buying them day of, as cowboy boots typically need to be broken in.  For something under-$75, these tan boots are nice.

Pair the boots with a summery dress, and you’re all set.  Just remember it gets cold at night, so you’ll need a jacket.


For the last few weeks, my back and chest have been covered in acne.  I’ve never had body acne before, and I don’t know how to treat it.  Please help.  I have a spring break trip in two weeks.


First off, have you changed your hair care products recently?  Just using a different shampoo or conditioner can give you acne.

Second, you need to exfoliate. this Alba clarifying peel-mask is good.  I also like this Clean & Clear deep exfoliating scrub both work well.

After that, start using anti-bacterial soap.  Old school Dial works the best.  And post-shower, use an acne treatment like CosRX one-step peel pads.

If your skin starts to get really dry, stop everything except the Dial soap and just spot treat the acne.

Hi Belle,

How often do you wear your suit pieces as separates? I recently invested in a few suits for a work trip. Now that the trip is over and I’m back in business casual mode, I find myself wearing the blazers much more often than the skirts and pants.

My mother once told me to always dry clean both pieces of a suit at the same time. Is that a rule you follow? It doesn’t seem like a problem now, but I guess I can envision my suit jackets getting worn out faster than the bottoms due to overuse.

Do you have any suits that you only wear as a full outfit?

Thanks! Marissa

I have two suits that I never wear unless I’m wearing both pieces.  Then, I have two (one black, one grey) that I sometimes wear the pieces separately.  But I always dry clean them together.  If they wear unevenly, a color disparity will form over time.

When I was wearing suit jackets all the time, I just bought two Zara blazers to pick up some of the slack.


My cousin & sister in law are both 21 and graduating from college this May, and I bought each of them a purse/backpack, one in gray and one in pink.

I’d like to fill it with a few essentials for post-college life. Thus far, I have a Target giftcard, Starbucks giftcard, and the bag itself. I was thinking essential everyday earrings to wear to work? Any suggestions for those or other ideas? Scarves? Skincare essentials? What would you fill it with to make it an awesome graduation gift? Thanks!!

– Jenny 

I think some slippers would be a great addition.  Some face masks and gel nail polish would be nice.  And perhaps, a microfiber makeup removing towel (these really are a miracle for getting off stubborn makeup without wipes).

For the working-world essentials, maybe a chic notebook from Appointed.  I’d also add some shoe insoles to give their feet a break.  And maybe a phone accessory, like this Popsocket cell phone stand.

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  1. L says:

    Regarding Body Acne, I have found’s AHA (10% Glycolic) to be the absolute best in treating it. It’s $20 for a tube that lasts ages. Seriously, mine lasted 2 years with nightly use. My esthetician also recommended Stridex in the red box, which is amazing for ingrowns, but the AHA is next level. I have been plagued by cystic acne on my face and chest/back for 10+ years. Please give it a try.

    March 6, 2018/Reply
  2. Nora says:

    My dermatologist told me to get Hibiclens for my body blemishes – it’s sold over the counter, but you have to look kind of hard for it (I ended up ordering mine from, I believe). It has cleared it up in a big way!

    March 6, 2018/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I thought about using this as well, but one of my readers pointed out that it’s used to kill bacteria in Operating Rooms. So if bacteria become immune to it through exposure, then it will be useless for it’s main purpose. So I’m not using it.

      March 6, 2018/Reply
    • Mary says:

      I’m a little late to the conversation, but wanted to add a note about this. I had surgery a few months ago and had to shower with Hibiclens twice before heading to the hospital. It leaves your skin feeling very sticky at first, but is also super drying. It might be helpful in knocking out acne if you use it a couple times as jump start, but I can’t imagine using it on a regular basis.

      March 8, 2018/Reply
  3. LHW says:

    In regards to boots, I’ve heard great things about Tecovas. They have a waterproof bootie that may work well for the wedding and weekends.

    March 6, 2018/Reply
    • R says:

      My husband is from Texas and only wears boots. He bought a pair of Tecovas last year, and bought a second pair within the past few months. They’re really beautiful boots, and he says they are very comfortable with some breaking in – he’s walked many many miles in them! I can’t speak to their women’s boots, but we’ve had good experience with the men’s.

      March 6, 2018/Reply
  4. Jen says:

    Regarding the backpack gifts (great idea!), I would add a hammer & screwdrivers. They’ll need both to put together first apartment furniture and hang decorations. I was given these when I graduated, and still use the same set today. I can’t say the same for many of the other gifts I got way back then!

    March 6, 2018/Reply
    • Mary G. says:

      I second a small tool kit and chic notebook! I would also suggest a small umbrella and face oil blotter sheets.

      March 6, 2018/Reply
    • D says:

      Ikea has a fabulous little set that’s so handy! Google for the Fixa set. It’s only $8 and I’ve been using it for years. My husband’s heavier tools are in the garage and we keep this set in the house for simpler projects.

      March 6, 2018/Reply
      • RKT says:

        I’d give them a good kitchen knife, or knife set. My uncle gave me a great bread knife after college and I still have it decades later!

        March 6, 2018/Reply
        • Anon says:

          I came here to second the call for a good knife, or three: one good chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a serrated knife. It’s super helpful to have a couple of these more expensive necessities taken care of. Not to mention, it’s much safer to work with a sharp/good knife.

          March 7, 2018/Reply
    • Jules says:

      YES to the toolset! It’s not something typically gifted to girls (ugh stereotypes) but holy moly the toolset I was given was a LIFESAVER after college. It’s not a glamorous gift, or one that I was really excited about receiving in the moment, but boy was I glad to have them!
      Other things might be a chic/cute keychain to upgrade from the dorm/college apartment keychain, a simple sewing kit, and again, a non-glamorous gift, but I really appreciated when a family friend gave me a Costco sized pack of toothbrushes lol.

      March 6, 2018/Reply
    • Megs says:

      Along the same lines as the toolset — A year of renter’s insurance. It’s really reasonable (~$100/year) but not something you think to buy for yourself…until you wish you had it!

      March 6, 2018/Reply
  5. Anna says:

    For black tights, I like Hue’s super opaque tights – not the ones with control top. They have just enough hold up top without being too restrictive, are soft, don’t have a sheen, and are really black. Commandos are nice, but they aren’t very sturdy.

    March 6, 2018/Reply
    • D says:

      Ditto this rec!

      March 6, 2018/Reply
  6. M.L. says:

    In follow-up to last week’s laptop bag post:

    As a PSA to those interested in Cuyana as a laptop bag, check out their new tote organizer insert. It releases tomorrow, but you can find it by Googling. I’ve been on the fence about their totes only because I prefer a structured bag, and this may do the trick for that. I’m guessing similar inserts are available elsewhere for less but appreciate the design and quality of these.

    March 6, 2018/Reply
  7. Kate says:

    Love Tecovas as a non-work boot. For a summer wedding in Wyoming go with a mid-shaft boot. You will be glad you did. Take a look at the Jami/Tecovas. Wouldn’t recommend black for summer, but most of the ladies wear what they have. All true boots can be pricey, so I wouldn’t just purchase them for the wedding. Once you have broken these in you will be shocked how often you go for them on the weekend. Lots of Brands and looks. Check out Pinterest for barn/western weddings. It’s casual for a reason, usually there’s a really good time being planned. It’s about the couple and the party, not the ceremony. And Belle has the weather right. Most likely HOT during the day, but once the sun goes down you will be glad you have a jacket at the very least. Put a blanket in the car for around the fire pit.

    March 6, 2018/Reply
  8. Annie says:


    March 6, 2018/Reply
  9. Msmarymary says:

    I found that washing and conditioning my hair at the beginning of my shower instead of the end really helped clear up acne on my back and shoulders (and my hairline, come to think of it).

    For the soon to be college grads, I’d also add a gas station gift card or public transit pass. My dad lent me his gas card for the first month I was on my own in a new city for my first real job. With all the other new apartment, new job, new life expenses it was so nice not to worry about gas money.

    March 6, 2018/Reply
  10. eMILY says:

    I had a flare-up of back acne a couple of years ago. My doctor recommended taking warm baths a couple times a day. I also added a few drops of tea tree oil to the water. This helped significantly and Iv’e used this trick ever since.

    March 6, 2018/Reply
  11. LGK says:

    Grad gifts: +1 to the simple, practical toolset. Also +1 to the gas card/transit pass. Related: a really comprehensive first aid kit for the car. I’ve been re-using and restocking mine for years. Slightly more fun but no less practical: a new bathrobe, with a monogram to punch it up a little. I love my Waffled Robe from H&M ( – they don’t monogram, obviously, but you could take it to a local dry cleaner or tailor.

    March 7, 2018/Reply