Style + Ask the Edit

Ask the Editor: Vol. V, No. Two

And we’re back with your reader questions.  Today, we’re covering office-appropriate pedicure colors, peep toe flats for work, cardigans as blazer alternatives, and more.  You asked, I answered.  Let’s play Ask the Editor!


You wrote a post a long time ago about cardigans that were substantial enough to function as an alternative for a blazer.  I bought every single one.  Is it time for a redo?  Help a struggling deputy chief out!


If you need a blazer for work (lawyer for court, senior hill staff with meetings, consultant for presentation), there is no cardigan substitute.  But on a more relaxed day, choosing a cardigan with structure, and pairing it with professional separates is an option.

The closest jacket sub on the market is the Sant Ambroeus Jardigan from MM LaFleur.  It’s structured, but still relaxed.  If your body type demands something longer than high-hip length, try their Woolf Jardigan.  Both come in a selection of great colors for all your professional needs.

Next, we have the substantial shawl cardigan.  This Three Dots cardigan is a great jacket alternative because of its shape and weight.  The heavy material and short shape give it more structure than your average cardi.  I also like this olive Zadig and Voltaire cardigan.  This Max Studio cardigan is a hair more relaxed, but at just $20, close enough.

Another option is to take a belted cardigan, like this Express Wrap Front Cardi, and add a more substantial belt.  For the olive, I would choose cognac.  For this grey cardigan from Press, I would go with a snakeskin belt.

The trick to making the belt work is to buy the belt in sizes larger than you normally wear, men’s belts work too.  And the more structured belt keeps the sweater from looking like a bathrobe.

Hi Abra –

I’m receiving my MBA next month and to celebrate the occasion I picked up this MM LaFleur dress. I want shoes to be on the unique side/a twist on classics – ideally under $200. Thanks!

– Kira 

For shoes, the store with the most unique footwear, that’s still work appropriate, is Boden.  Their plum-colored Renee flats and Ines t-strap pumps are both classic with a twist.  I also love the idea of that dress with these Vince Camuto slingbacks in a slightly metallic platinum color.

Not what you were looking for?  I think pale grey and red together.  Try these Athena Alexander kitten heels.


My curling iron finally died last week.  10 years, RIP.  Can you recommend a good curling iron?  Something in the 1″ to 1.25″ range?  

Good luck with wedding planning.  Raechal

I own this Hot Tool 1 1/4″ curling iron with the gold barrel.  It heats up quickly, and has a selector switch to control the temperature of the barrel.  It’s a good quality curling iron for under-$50.

Hi Abra,

Could you help me find black (preferably patent leather), peep-toe, d’orsay flats?

I work in a business casual office and as the weather starts to warm up in DC, I’m looking for work-appropriate shoes that I can wear with more summery work attire. My typical work flats feel out of place with the more summery clothes but most of my sandals feel too casual for the office!

If you have other ideas for work-appropriate, preferably flat, summer-time footwear beside my very specific request, I always welcome your recommendations!

xx, JK

First question first.  These Sam Edelman flats caught my eye because they’re a great sandal alternative.  This Journee Collection flat is also a nice sandal alternative.  For something more professional, these Naturalizer flats are good option, as are these mesh polka dot flats.

Other suggestions?  I like these Sam Edelman d’Orsay flats in oatmeal.  These modern slingbacks from Franco Sarto in blush are nice.  I also like these perforated slingback flats in taupe.  For a more professional option, this Cole Haan Ramsey flat is in the Anniversary Sale.

Hi Abra,

You talk a lot about nail polish that is an acceptable professional shade to wear on your fingernails. Now that it’s getting into spring, open toed shoes are now a thing, that is if you don’t live in Montana where it’s supposed to snow 1-2″ this weekend. What, if any, do you consider professional toenail polish colors?

Thanks! Catherine

In some offices, the most adventurous color you can wear is pale pink.  Yes, these places still exist.  And for those offices, I recommend Jin Soon Muse.

Beyond that, I don’t think pedicure color options are as limited as fingernail options.  Partially because, your toes aren’t as visible.  And because if your toes are out where people can see them, you probably don’t work in a pale pink-only office.

For a neutral color, I like Modern Love from Deborah Lippmann.  It’s a dusty mauve that is pretty, yet subtle.  If you’re into beige or neutral nails, I also like Zoya Nude.  But I’m not sure I would wear it on my toes, since you might come out looking you have a skin condition.  #realtalk

I also recommend a simple red, like Essie Rock the Runway.  You can go full raspberry with Orly Berry Intuitive.  Or deep purple with NARS Purple Rain.  Those are the colors that I typically have on my toes.

Want something a little different?  A friend is wearing the chocolate milk shade OPI You Don’t Know Jacques, and it’s an interesting alternative to black for those who typically go to the dark side.

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  1. AM says:

    Gotta jump in and HIGHLY reccomend the Beachwaver for a curling iron – I’ve had mine for over 2 years and I love how easy it is to use, and you don’t get weird kinks in your hair like with a traditional curling iron. It may take a time or two to get used to it, but afterwards it’s so fast and easy to curl your hair!

    July 24, 2019/Reply
  2. SaraH says:

    Would you please explain more what you mean by “The trick to making the belt work is to buy the belt in sizes larger than you normally wear.”?

    July 25, 2019/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Sure. The sweater will be bulky, esp. over layers of clothes. So if you’re a M, you need a L or XL. I’m a S belt in most brands, but I have two L belts to wear over layered sweaters. You can buy a belt hole punch at Amazon if you need to get another hole to make it size right.

      July 25, 2019/Reply