Style + Ask the Edit

Ask the Edit: Vol. 5, No. Thirty-Two

Happy Friday! Let’s dive right in to some reader questions.  From bridal jewelry to knee-high boots and arm tights, we have a little bit of everything.  You asked, I answered.

Belle –

Not sure if you can help with a “rush request” but I’m getting married and looking for sapphire/dark blue colored drop earrings and a necklace of shorter length. I tend to wear more gold than silver. Having a hard time finding stuff!

– Shannon

Let’s start with the necklace. On the pricey side, I found this lovely Yi Collection sapphire necklace.  In the under-$200 category, I struggled to find something lovely in yellow gold.  This Suzy Levian sapphire drop necklace in white gold is gorgeous.

For earrings, I found these Off 5th hoop-drop earrings that are nice mix of glamour and simplicity.  For something fancier, try these cushion-cut drops from Zales.  For something under-$50, try these sapphire and pearl drops from TJ Maxx or these ornate white metal ones from Etsy.


So I never ask for advice on these types of things but I am seriously struggling to find a good briefcase/tote for work that will fit my huge work computer.

I need a tote/briefcase, preferably with an attached longer strap, that will fit my 15″ computer, a couple of small files, and other necessities. I also need it to be court appropriate. I love the Cuyana Work Satchel, but would much rather spend in the $300-$350 range than $500. Desperately need your help!

Tired of searching, Morgan

It is becoming more and more difficult to find laptop bags equipped for 15″ laptops, and as personal computers get smaller and smaller, this trend will continue.  But let’s see what we can find.

This Mark & Graham Harvey briefcase holds a 15″ laptop.  The Dagne Dover Legend Tote also holds a 15″ laptop (also in other colors).  Also, the Lodis Audrey satchel is a great choice.

For something under-$200, I love the vegan leather bags from Matt & Nat.  I like their Schlepp tote in wine, and their Parallel tote in charcoal.  They’re very sleek and professional looking.

If you like the Cuyana work bag, their Trapeze satchel also holds a 15″ laptop.  It’s slightly more affordable than the work bag at $395.

Hi Belle,

I just got a job offer that will (almost, but not quite) double my salary, so I’m looking for a celebration gift to myself.  Maybe a M.M. le Fleur dress?  Maybe a nice handbag?  Ideally something under $300, but you sometimes have posts with splurge items. What would you buy?


I am a big believer that if you want to splurge on something, it should be a practical splurge.  So go to your closet, and assess which pieces are your most worn, most loved, and best fit for your life.  If it’s a pair of black shoes, upgrade the shoes.  If it’s a sleek dress, upgrade the dress.

For my wardrobe, what I wear the most are dresses.  My favorite MM. LaFleur dress is the Akiko; it’s the easiest to dress up and down.  I’ve worn mine a ton, and somehow, it still looks great.

Hi Belle,

I turn 40 this Fall and am celebrating with a trip to California wine country.  I’ve never been and could use some style guidance.  The plan is to visit a bunch on vineyards, and it looks like weather there is mid to upper 70’s.  Any recs on outfits that travel well, are comfortable for indoor/outdoor, and have plenty of sleeve flexibility for maximum drinking?

Just kidding on the last part.  Thank you!

If it were me, I would be looking for a maxi-wrap dress.  They’re comfortable, adjustable and you can layer on jackets as needed.  Plus, you can wear flats, so you won’t have to navigate in heels.

This Free People dress is nice, with a bright blue color.  This Express dress comes in solid black.  I also like this polka dot wrap dress and this Wayf pink wrap dress.

Another option would be comfortable jean with a nice top.  I like this scalloped Broderie top for a hint of late summer.  For a fall-style, try this Trouve surplice top.

If other readers have been to wine country, please add your recommendations in the comments.

Hello, Abra:

Today I learned of the existence of Spanx’s arm tights, and I’m on the fence about them. What’s your opinion? Smart option? Terrible look? I am waffling between “those are genius!” and “those are sort of tacky…”

– Nicole

Spanx Arm Tights is a top with sheer or decorated sleeves that you wore under sleeveless blouses.  They also come in plus-sizes.  The Arm Tights come in several colors from olive to burgundy to black.  You can also find their body suit with a dotted print fabric.

Last year, I ordered a pair of the arm tights in ivory cable-knit to wear under an ivory dress.  They looked okay, and gave me the ability to wear the dress without a jacket, which was nice.  But the color match was off a bit, and it showed.  With a black dress, they might coordinate better.

This is one of those situations, where there is no right answer.  If you like the look of the arm tights and they make your wardrobe more versatile, do it.  If you think they look a little tacky, skip ’em.

Hi Abra!

My hunt for black knee-high leather boots I can wear to work in the winter has been going on for ages and I am hoping you can help bring it to an end! I fear what I’m looking for may be a bit of a unicorn, but here goes: nothing with a rounded toe or very chunky of a heel (this combo feels too casual) BUT I also hate very pointy toes with a stiletto heel (too hooker-ish).

Do you know of any almond toe, moderate-thickness heeled boots that might fit the bill? Looking for something classic and elegant and will pay between $500 and $750. Thanks so much!

– Christine 

Needle in a haystack shopping is often a recipe for disappointment.  The goal has to be to get as close as possible without letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

I found these Adrienne Vittadini boots.  They have a pointed toe, but it’s not witch-shoe pointy.  The styling is also really sleek.  These Calvin Klein boots have a similar look.  Both pairs are under-$300.

These Frye Boots have a narrow stacked heel, but it’s narrow, not wide.  These Love Stud leather boots have a tapered heel and a square toe.


I am getting married in November 2019 and obviously that means people now feel free to give me all sorts of advise BUT what is the best night time eye cream that I should be using? I have dark circles and am not 21 anymore. Thanks! You’ve never steered me wrong before!

– Whitney

I have never found an eye cream that I felt had miraculous results.  The closest I’ve come is this Dr. Brandt 24/7 Retinol Cream.  It brightens and reduces/prevents wrinkles.  But dark circles are a challenge, that I’ve never found a topical solution for.

There are many causes for dark circles.  Some readers have seen a reduction from taking allergy medication, since sinus swelling can make them worse.  Others have had good luck with cosmetic fillers like Restalyne or Juvederm to improve the density of the tissue.  As for myself, if I need to reduce the look of dark circles, I use a cooling eye mask and Preparation H.

All of this is to say, see an aesthetician about your dark circles.  If you’re not ready to go the cosmetic route., do what you can to brighten the eye area with a serum, and tell your makeup artist to get the good concealer.

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  1. Cee Cee from KY says:

    Christine, at that price point I would be checking out Aquatalia. I think they have exactly what you’re looking for in a number of colors and styles. I would personally go with their waterproof suede. I found them years ago via Kate Middleton. Carried at Nordstrom, Bergdorf, etc.

    September 21, 2018/Reply
    • LS says:

      Came here to say the same! What you described is Aquatalia’s go-to style.

      September 21, 2018/Reply
    • Norcalgal says:

      +1 for Aquatalia. I have a knee high black suede pair with an almond toe and I get compliments every time I wear them. Only caveat would be if you have a wide foot. They’re Italian, so fits a narrow foot and slimmer calves best (I’m 5’10” 140# with an 11N foot).

      September 22, 2018/Reply
  2. Cee Cee from KY says:

    Christine, at that price point I would be checking out Aquatalia. I think they have exactly what you’re looking for in a number of colors and styles. I would personally go with their waterproof suede. I found them years ago via Kate Middleton. Carried at Nordstrom, Bergdorf, etc.

    September 21, 2018/Reply
  3. JW says:

    For Christine – the person looking for a tote to fit her 15″ laptop – I was in a very similar position several months ago and went with a Matt and Nat bag that I picked up from Nordstrom Rack and am happy with it. Price was my big driver in looking at bags – my 15” laptop is older, and I’ll likely replace it with a smaller personal computer in the next 2 years, so I didn’t want to have an investment piece that was way too large for my needs – and after a solid month or so of looking, the bags that fit 15″ laptops are really, really big. Not what I would choose if I had a smaller computer. The Mat and Nat bag has held up really well, gets lots of compliments, and I’ll have no qualms with ditching it as soon as I get a smaller computer 🙂

    September 21, 2018/Reply
  4. NK says:

    For Nicole– I bought the black spanx arm tights a year ago and wear them under black and mostly black sleeveless dresses all the time! They are a little sheer on me so the exact shade of blackness doesn’t have to match and I really enjoy wearing my sleeveless dresses without a blazer.

    In the past I’ve tried thin black t-shirt underneath and the arm spanx are more sleek and there’s no bunching issue around the waistline. As another alternative you could also try a bodysuit as they are everywhere again.

    September 21, 2018/Reply
  5. LS says:

    Morgan – regardless of whether you’re into ethical fashion, Lee from StyleBee just did a round up today of 10 bags to fit 15″ laptops at few price points.

    September 21, 2018/Reply
  6. Meghan says:


    With that budget, I’d look at Aquatalia. I got your unicorn boots at Nordstrom Rack 2 years ago, I wear them in Northeast Winters and they hold up beautifully. I’mm including a link to boots that are similar to mine:

    September 21, 2018/Reply
  7. Christina says:

    For Napa, Belle gives great recs but also you should check out Hitha’s post on her trip to Napa:

    (Her blog is also a complete delight, if you’re not already a reader.)

    Happy birthday!

    September 21, 2018/Reply
    • Belle says:

      It is definitely delightful. Her book is great too.

      September 21, 2018/Reply
  8. Katherine says:

    For Morgan, I bought the Matt & Nat Tacoma messenger bag in black a few months ago and have been loving it. Fits my 15″ laptop plus a nice big file or two. Perfect for court. It might be bigger than what you’re looking for but I love being able to fit everything I need in one bag.

    September 21, 2018/Reply
    • Morgan says:

      Just wanted to tell you that this looks like a great option and I think it is what I am going to try! Fingers crossed! Thank you!!

      September 26, 2018/Reply
  9. Mary says:

    I spent a week in Napa last fall. Either Belle’s or Hitha’s suggestions (link in Christina’s comment) are good. I think what I saw the most was skinny jeans, cute top, booties, with a long cardigan or lightweight jacket for layering. You definitely want to have layering options. Temperature varies so much in the valley, but is overall mild.

    September 21, 2018/Reply
  10. J says:

    For the dark eye circles, also go to your doctor and get yourself checked out to make sure it’s not a medical issue. If it’s just aging, I’ve had luck with more sleep and keeping hydrated. And really good concealer; I went to Sephora to learn how to better apply it for my circles.

    For wedding jewelry, another Kate Middleton fan here. Kiki McDonough does small diamond huggie earrings in gold and you can add a sapphire drop to them. Or you can search Etsy for something similar since the Kiki McDonough ones are above my price point.

    September 21, 2018/Reply
  11. SJ says:

    I, too, was searching for the perfect bag to fit a 15″ laptop and much more, while also looking sleek (my bags would always turn into shapeless masses with all the stuff I put in there). Behold, the Lo & Sons Seville Tote. It comes in 13″ and 15″, has SO many handy pockets, and detaches from the beautiful shell so that you can swap out shells, wash the interior (genius!), etc. I get so many compliments, and no matter what I put in there, it maintains its structure.It’s pricey, but with such items I typically try to find it on Poshmark. I was able to score it for less than $200, brand new with tags!

    September 21, 2018/Reply
  12. B says:

    I love Hitha’s guide. It depends a little on where you’re going – I dress a little nicer/hipper in Napa, a little more casually in Sonoma. Also note that in the fall, it gets very cold at night, and warms up considerably during the day. I was just out there for 5 days this past week. It was 72 and sunny, and down to 49 at night. I wore casual summery dresses, though in another month I’d probably be going with jeans, sweater, and a slimline puffer with cognac booties. I’ve heard it’s very hot this weekend – check the weather right before you go. If you’re going out into the vineyards on tours, I’d go jeans and flat boots. I personally wouldn’t wear a maxi dress to vineyards. You could pull one off if you’re doing a splurgy meal in Yountville, but I’d probably choose slim black pants, a black sweater or lace top, slightly louder jewelry for dinner. I would wear the polkadot maxi Belle recommends on the Napa side, it’s maybe too much for Sonoma. I like her suggestions for tops, as well. Overall, I’d aim for the elevated weekend look of whatever your typical style is for Napa, or cute fall jeans looks if you’re headed to Sonoma.

    September 21, 2018/Reply
    • B says:

      **puffer vest

      September 21, 2018/Reply
  13. LYdia says:

    La Cannadienne boots are made from an incredible waterproof suede, and keep my always cold feet toasty warm in the wet winter, as well as are long lasting and comfortable. I buy them on sale when I can find them, but do check out this brand. You will not regret it! I have five pairs going strong.

    September 21, 2018/Reply
  14. Rachel says:

    Hey Everyone!
    When visiting wine country in CA (I’ve been to all the regions surrounding Napa) it all depends on what area you’re visiting.Napa “proper” is very commercialized and you can easily get away with wearing dresses and heels, although I would recommend doing flats. At night, Napa has cute areas for dinner where you can do the heels. Napa is insanely expensive to taste wine and dine BTW!

    As far as going to Vineyards that surround Napa (Santa Rosa, Russian River, etc- which I love), I would recommend doing jeans/cigarette pants and a cute top with either walkable flats or cute sneakers. Some Vineyards will give you a tour of the vines and you’ll be walking in dirt. In addition, Vineyards have sitting areas and entrances that aren’t always paved (cute patios outside that have that Sandy ground). All the areas have quaint downtowns where you can do the dress thing. Also, bring a light cardigan or wrap for the evening, it can get chilly. 🙂

    Hope that helps!

    September 22, 2018/Reply
  15. Jen says:

    Christine, if you’re still reading, the Cole Haan Arlean Boot fit the bill for me. I had similar specifications, and now they’re under $200.

    September 22, 2018/Reply
  16. Drago Cucina says:

    Nicole: I bought the Spanx arm tights in black and then another brand in peacock, navy, black , and white. These are a bit thicker but not bulky. I’m a believer. I have a few sleeveless dresses and tops and arm tights make them more wearable. I also like them with my wrap dresses. They act as a camisole and provide better arm coverage.

    September 23, 2018/Reply