Ask the Edit: Vol. V, No. Thirty-Fourth

Dec 19, 2018

Holiday gifts for assistants and Secret Santas, plus bridesmaids dresses you might wear again, and “nude lipsticks.”  You asked, I answered.  It’s time for Ask the Edit.

Hi Abra-

I’m getting married in April and still haven’t picked out bridesmaid dresses for my outdoor desert wedding.  I want to make sure the dress is something the bridesmaids will wear again and would like to keep it in the $200 or under range.

I’m flexible on the dress color and am leaning toward navy/dark blue. This is the dress I like best so far. Ideally I’d like to buy a dress that’s not a “bridesmaid” dress since I think the dress will look better and be better quality. I love your style and am hoping you can help… Any ideas for me? Thank you so much!


As a former bridesmaid, while you can try to buy a dress that your attendants will wear again, they probably won’t. Even dresses that I could have worn again, I didn’t.  So focus on the look you want for your wedding and finding something that will be comfortable to wear all day.  (Also, God bless you for keeping it under-$200.  I once had to decline bridesmaid duties in a wedding where the dress was almost $1,000.

Likely is a company that makes a number of dresses in simple, modern cuts.  I like the one shoulder dress and the layered strapless dress.  Both are under-$200 and, if you hunt around, available at enough stores that you can usually find them on discount.

Other options?  If you’re looking for lace, this Bardot dress is cool.  I like this Ralph Lauren sheath dress with an illusion yoke and beaded trim for something fancier.


Can you help me find a good nude lipstick?  Color’s not my thing, but my lips are so pale I need something.  No gloss please.

Been reading since 2009!  Love the blog.  Kathy

My favorite slightly pink “nude” is Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk.  For a cheaper dupe, Maybelline makes a line of “buff” lipsticks that suit many skin tones.

For my darker-skinned readers, Refinery29 has some suggestions.  One of my girlfriends swears by Rimmel Coffee Shimmer.


I’m lawyer in a cold climate metro area. I desperately need a shoe that will keep my feet warm, while still being sleek and stylish with my suit in a courtroom. I prefer flats because commuting with files on a train is no fun in heels. Help please!

– Amanda 

This is tough.  My first question is: pant suit or skirt suit?

If it’s a pant suit, I would try something in the style of these Row Ambra Boots.  A flat pointed ankle boot would allow you to wear thick socks and keep your toes warm.  These Matt & Nat boots give you a similar look for MUCH less.

A skirt is more of a challenge.  I sometimes wear tall boots with my skirt suits, but I wouldn’t wear them to court.  For court, I would commute in a pair of Aquatalias and change into heels later.  With the right pair of booties, you could put in a foot warmer.


I need a last minute gift for a book club Secret Santa on Saturday.  What have you got?


The Sipski Wine Glass Holder for your shower is a popular gift.  It’s useful, but it’s a gag gift.  Which I think is the best Secret Santa gift to give.

Amazon also has a list of “last minute” gifts with free one-day shipping.  A single Tile is a great gift for people who lose their keys or want to keep an eye on a pet who runs away.  My neighbor gives dashboard cell-phone mounts, which is a good idea for people who don’t have GPS or listen to podcasts while they drive.

Hi Abra:

I have a wonderful legal assistant and would love any suggestions on a holiday gift for her. I don’t know her extremely well since I haven’t been at my firm for too long, but she has been extremely helpful and patient with me as I transition to the new firm.

– Emily 

Back when I had assistants, my preferred gift was a holiday trinket and some cash.  What do I mean by a holiday trinket?

This locket frame ornament from Mark & Graham is a lovely gift for anyone who is hard to buy for.  I also like this rustic wood Christmas sign and these Santa’s Reindeer mugs from Pottery Barn.  Holiday gifts like this are appropriate for someone who you don’t know very well and who might be hard to shop for.

To a gift like that, I add some cash.  Not a gift card, cash.  Why cash?  When I was younger, I thought cash was tacky.  But when someone assists you at your job, a cash gift becomes like a bonus.  And who doesn’t want their boss to show their appreciation with a year-end bonus?

Not into cash?  You probably know this person well enough to choose a gift that will be useful to her.  Perhaps something she wears regularly (I had an assistant who loved big necklaces) or a hobby she is involved in (one of the court reporters likes rock climbing, so we bought her a gift card to her gym).  Any gift that shows you take an interest in her as a person is a good gift.

Hi Abra,

How is your nephew doing?


Thank you for asking!  Baby G is doing very well.  He’s putting on weight and making sure his parents get no sleep.  We’re still waiting on the hospital bill to see if he’s a half-million-dollar baby, but focusing on how grateful we are to Seattle Children’s Hospital for getting him well and how much he looks like his Auntie Abs.  (Seriously, the boy has my nose.)

{image found here; this post contains affiliate links that may generate commission for the author}

Ask the Edit, Style

share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Mac says:

    For the Bride seeking bridesmaid dresses: My bridesmaids wore this dress in the taupe color at my wedding at a wildflower nature center in Austin. The price is awesome and the quality is pretty much the same as a $200 bridesmaid dress from some of the online sellers I’ve had to use a bridesmaid in other weddings. Nobody wants to wear the bridesmaid dress again but at least with the cost of the dress and alterations it didn’t break the bank!

    Hope this helps:

    • Eri says:

      The guideline for bridesmaid dresses for my friend’s wedding over the summer was long, Navy dresses and everyone could pick their own – everyone looked gorgeous and were able to pick styles that were flattering and potentially re-wearable. She did require approving the dress chosen, but it was fun to see what people found.

      A few others picked Lulu’s dresses (not the linked above, but similar) and they all looked great and their dresses come in a variety of colors. One note – the “navy” for her dress looked dark online, but was more of a royal blue color – so their fabric colors are not consistent across styles. Even for matching, if the sizes work for everyone, their dresses are affordable enough most people wouldn’t mind a one-use dress.

    • NEENS says:

      Was a bridesmaid this summer and the bride sent us an inspiration picture of the color scheme she wanted (mix of pastel/neurals) and just asked we send a pic of the dress before purchasing. Many of us purchased from Lulu’s and I have reworn (as a wedding guest) because it was a style that is flattering to me that I would have chosen for myself anyway. Loved that the dress was under $100 too.

  2. Jessica says:

    So happy to hear your nephew is doing well!

    Any friend that would ask me to spend $1k on a dress is no friend at all. That’s seriously insane.

  3. pompom says:

    If I need a special bra for it, I’m never ever rewearing it. To many women, strapless just doesn’t work, let alone exist, so re-wearability will probably come in a more classic/simple shape and strap arrangement.

    • Sydni says:

      Exactly! If you have any bridesmaids who are plus size or busty, you may want to ask them what strap styles work best for them. If I have to wear strapless/one shoulder I will be uncomfortable all day. Halters are even worse, so much stress on the neck! If you are thinking black, maybe pick a length (cocktail, tea/midi, or evening) and let the bridesmaids find something black in a style they like?

    • Denise says:

      So I have to admit, I had no idea that strapless was simply *not an option* for some people until a girlfriend and I were talking about it. And I’m in my early 40’s. If you don’t have that issue (I’m a 32 band, D cup) there’s no way to know! And now I’m thinking back and cringing at my choice of strapless, red dresses at my wedding 15 years ago!

      • POMPOM says:

        Please don’t cringe!!! I’m sure they were beautiful and your girls’ girls looked great. I think the lesson here is simply to be aware and be flexible, that’s all. Not a universe in which my 36 I (yes as in eye) gals will find a strapless bra or dress that will work, but I know that and can clearly and matter-of-factly communicate that to a bride or salesperson. The awareness piece comes in once it’s been said! That’s all.

        I love all these other dress options so much, to be clear, I just know I couldn’t wear them.

    • CC says:

      I came here to make a similar comment. In addition to being uncomfortable/possibly unwearable, that dress the writer suggested is going to show a LOT of cleavage for people with larger chests. Depending on the person they might feel really exposed in that dress–I know I would.

      • Anna says:

        That dress is beautiful, but unless it is impeccably tailored and well-built, it can go so wrong. Between, the straplessness, the off the shoulder sleeves, the material, and the lack of seams, patterns, or texture to hide imperfections, there are so many ways it can look terrible on someone who doesn’t look exactly like the model – who herself has probably been pinned and clipped into place and hasn’t sat down for more than three minutes.

    • B says:

      Yep. A strapless bra is OK for a few hours for me, but I can’t wear it all night and definitely can’t dance in it. To echo everyone talking about sizes: I’m a 14-16 but sizing can vary so much I wore a Kennedy Blue 14 in one wedding, J.Crew 18 in another, Badgley Mischka 16Tall from Rent the Runway in a third. This is why bridesmaid dresses exist with multiple neckline options and more inclusive sizes in the same fabric – so everyone can pick a flattering style and look cohesive. I’ve never reworn a bridesmaid dress, and am a fan of the rental experience as long as your girls can coordinate and be on top of it. We had to have a different size rushed for one bridesmaid when neither size she had ordered worked, but it came in plenty of time and worked out just fine.

  4. Meg says:

    for the bridesmaid dress…keep in mind that a lot of places don’t have a particularly large size range (the first 2 dresses linked stop at a size 12). You sound like you’re more concerned about your bridesmaids’ comfort than a particular style, but it’s a thing that some people don’t realize or think about. I have a friend who was in a wedding for a bride that insisted on dresses from J Crew, which stop at like size 12. My friend was the only member of the bridal party above that size, and it was a super shitty experience for her to have to tell the bride she couldn’t fit into the dress, and have the bride insist anyway. Say what you will about David’s Bridal (I’m not their biggest fan) but the vast majority of their dresses go up to size 26 or so.

    • Pam says:

      I’ve seen some weddings where each bridesmaid chooses the style dress most flattering to them, but in the same color. I’ve also seen bridesmaids who’ve all rented from rent the runway. You get a a large size range and for less than 200 you can feel like a million bucks, look great in photos. And not have it in your closet looking back at you forever

  5. Glad to hear the nephew is doing well!

  6. Denise says:

    First and foremost – good news on your nephew! As the mother of a 4 pounder, I think…the small ones are the best 🙂

    On the bridesmaid dresses, I have rented Likely dresses before and been very happy with the quality. For me a thick strap or one shoulder will always get more re-wear than a strapless, but i’m in my early 40’s so there’s that 🙂

  7. BON says:

    For the bride, please skip the off the shoulder dress. I had to wear one in a wedding and was miserable. Undergarments were tough to find and I had to keep readjusting all night.

  8. Xat says:

    Let your wedding party choose their own attire. I mean wear whatever they want to wear, not just “buy any style dress in my chosen color from this store”, or even “anything blue in any shade”. I truly mean they should wear whatever they want. Assigned wedding costumes seem so weird to me now.

  9. SherYl says:

    Some years ago, I was in a destination wedding that used these dresses from amazon- they were so cheap and looked AMAZING. We all had to get them altered, of course but the price of the dress made it all very reasonable (considering the cost of attending the beautiful but very far off wedding…)

Join The List

Stay up to date on the latest from Capitol Hill Style!


The Edition: No. 374

Yes, it’s back.



Recent Posts

Styling White for Fall and Winter

A white or cream business suit is a great choice in the summer, but who needs to spend hundreds of dollars on a suit that they can only wear three months of the year? Here’s how to restyle your white or cream suit for fall/winter. Cream Suits vs. White Suits // For my money, a […]



The Range: A Suit for Work

Have you ever just forgotten about a brand? Like had a brand completely fade from your memory, only to reappear and make you wonder how you ever forgot? For me, that’s LK Bennett.




Top Posts, Workday Reading | July 19, 2024

The Edition: No. 374

Yes, it’s back.



Career Style, Posts, Style, Work | July 18, 2024

Styling White for Fall and Winter

A white or cream business suit is a great choice in the summer, but who needs to spend hundreds of dollars on a suit that they can only wear three months of the year? Here’s how to restyle your white or cream suit for fall/winter. Cream Suits vs. White Suits // For my money, a […]



Features, Posts, The Range | July 18, 2024

The Range: A Suit for Work

Have you ever just forgotten about a brand? Like had a brand completely fade from your memory, only to reappear and make you wonder how you ever forgot? For me, that’s LK Bennett.



Features, Posts | July 16, 2024

What I’m Really Buying on Prime Day

I will probably not open Instagram for the next two days. The Prime Day madness is just too thick. 90% of the items being promoted are things that I’ll throw away in two months (or less). But there are a handful of things I will use and are grateful to grab at a discount, here […]