Advice + Ask The Edit

Ask the Edit: A Roundup of Reader Questions

It’s been a while since I’ve tackled reader e-mails here on Capitol Hill Style.  In the frenetic mess that has been the pandemic, something had to fall off of my radar, and it was this.  But over the last week, I’ve had a fresh crop of them, so I thought I would answer a few.

Belle,

My office is requiring us all to wear masks all day, every day.  Do you have an affordable dupe for your Wolford silk mask?

Love it.  Don’t love the price.  KJ

These D’aire washable silk face masks are little easier on the wallet.  Jessie Zhao also makes a nice silk mask.  And, of course, there’s always Etsy.

Hi Abra:

This seems a strange request in the middle of the pandemic, but I need passport cover recommendations. My best friend will be relocating this summer for an assignment overseas and I’d like to get her a nice passport cover as part of her birthday gift this year. My Google searches have left me uninspired, so I would appreciate your always sleek and chic suggestions. 

Hope you’re staying well and enjoying your Session! Morgan

Ah … dreams of travel to places where a passport might be required.

If you want something very sleek and simple for <$75, Longchamp has a nice leather option.  This blush-leather option from Vida Vida has more of a clean, modern look.

Want it to hold more than a passport?  This metallic one from Boden snaps closed and has space for cards.  And this long leather pouch from Royce has an interesting shape with cool side zips for storage.  Want something more fun?  This Alice + Olivia cover is kind of cute.

Belle (Abra) –

I am going to trial in federal court at the end of March in a very conservative federal district. None of my nice professional suits fit anymore – thanks Covid. Due to the setting, I feel like I need something traditional. I’m a government attorney so I’m hoping to find something that isn’t too expensive. Any ideas?

Thanks in advance from a loyal reader!

First off, good luck on your trial.  That’s a big deal.

It is very hard to buy business suits right now.  Several shops that usually make them a priority are (understandably) switching to sweatpants instead.  But there are still a few places.

I am still shopping for most of my suiting at Ann Taylor.  Simple cuts, basic colors, everything is on sale over the weekends.  This notch blazer is my favorite, but I understand if it’s a little too relaxed for federal court.  In that case, try this shawl blazer.  And remember, it is easier to tailor pencil skirts than it is to tailor pants.  So if you size up due to COVID, you can tailor down if you decide to lose the weight.

If other readers are looking for suits that are a bit more fun, I’m thinking about this medium-green suit from Ann Taylor for spring.

Looking to splurge a bit on a new, post-COVID suit?  BOSS still makes the best ones.  If you’re new to this brand, I suggest reading the size guide carefully, and sizing up if you’re close.  I’m pear shaped, so I always size up in their bottoms.  I like this basic pinstripe suit and this simple navy one.

Belle:

Do you have a favorite concealer for acne?  I have some maskne spots that I need to cover.

April

I’ve been extremely happy with Tarte Shape Tape.  It doesn’t rub off easily, look cakey or get that crepe-y look by the end of the day.  I would give it a try, as they have many shades to choose from.  If you’re not ready to commit, start with a travel size!

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Leave a Reply to RKT · cancel comment

    19 comments

  1. RKT says:

    Banana Republic Factory continues to have some basic suiting in traditional cuts/colors at reasonable prices.

    https://bananarepublicfactory.gapfactory.com/browse/category.do?cid=1045346&nav=meganav%3AWomen%3AWOMEN%27S%20APPAREL%3ASUITS

    March 11, 2021/Reply
    • Becky says:

      I second the Banana Factory recommendation. They’re washable!! I think for a trial in a conservative district, you cannot go wrong with navy suiting. It doesn’t look like you’re going to a funeral or evening event like black and it’s more polished than tan, gray, etc.

      March 11, 2021/Reply
      • Becky says:

        I love my BR wool washable suit. Gave a speech to 100+ C suite women and felt super professional in mine!

        March 11, 2021/Reply
  2. Diane says:

    Re: suits in federal court. I found myself in a similar scenario having to go to trial 5 months and then 16 months after having a baby. I had to buy new suits both times. I found Talbots to have a good mix of conservative but also a relaxed cut that was comfortable. I went with skirts and dresses with a jacket, haven’t tried them on lately to see if they’re worth taking in.

    March 11, 2021/Reply
    • Janine says:

      Fellow government attorney here. +1 for Talbots, which has worked well for me for conservative suits. I’ve picked up a handful of professional pieces there over the past year at deep discounts.

      March 11, 2021/Reply
  3. E says:

    Thank you so much for saying “if you decide to lose the weight.” I’ve never seen that on a blog before–a neutral statement on weight fluctuations without the assumption that of course everyone wants to lose weight.

    March 11, 2021/Reply
  4. Brett says:

    I just purchased the Ruby Blazer from J. Crew Factory and was pleasantly surprised with the fit and quality for the price point. They don’t appear to have a matching skirt, much to my chagrin, but they do have a matching pant, if that’s conservative enough for your district.

    March 11, 2021/Reply
  5. BN says:

    LOVE when you do reader questions! Thanks (and do more please) 🙂

    March 11, 2021/Reply
  6. Lisa says:

    I ordered the Etiqa Soft Fit Mask from a Korean online store after reading an enthusiastic rec from a Singaporean in the middle of summer (they know sweat and humidity!). It’s amazing, and because you can hand-rinse in the sink and it’s quick-dry, you can get away with just 1 or 2 masks even with daily use. Looks like it’s available on Amazon now! I was going to say that the caveat is it’s pricey, almost as much as your Wolford after shipping, but now it’s only $23 with free shipping so DEFINITELY worth it! https://www.amazon.com/ETIQA-Soft-Mask-Small-Mint/dp/B08N6YN8G8?th=1

    March 11, 2021/Reply
  7. Katie says:

    Granted I’m a paralegal, so you can’t see my legs behind the bar, but I’ve noticed even in district court, women are foregoing nylons and dressing slightly less conservatively. Last summer our opposing counsel wore a nice dress with a silk scarf while questioning witnesses. Though I would never wear anything other than a suit to court, I still thought she looked perfectly appropriate. Speaking of Ann Taylor, I have the suit you linked and have worn it during trial in federal court multiple times.

    March 11, 2021/Reply
    • katie says:

      I should clarify that I have the black blazer. I wouldn’t wear green to court. 🙂

      March 11, 2021/Reply
  8. LA says:

    +1 for Talbots, and I would also recommend eBay if you have a good sense of your size in a particular brand. Lots of older J. Crew suiting on there, before things got completely Jenna-fied.

    March 11, 2021/Reply
  9. Jamie Patton says:

    For concealers I love that cle de peau stick. It’s not cheap but it works so perfectly and I don’t need foundation or anything else when I use it.

    March 11, 2021/Reply
  10. E says:

    I was gifted the Dagne Dover travel wallet for my passport and I could not recommend it more. It has mutiple pockets (in case your friend juggles mutiple passports) and fits cash, cards, and ID. It’s also incredibly chic and branding is minimum. https://www.dagnedover.com/collections/accordion-travel-wallet

    March 12, 2021/Reply
    • Kay says:

      Agree!! As an American who has lived overseas, being able to carry your passport in a wallet is key. Some countries may require you to have identification to enter buildings, buy things, etc and only accept a passport or local ID (ie, a residency card). If you don’t have a local ID (these take time and lots of paperwork to get) you need to carry your passport.

      March 12, 2021/Reply
  11. Meghan says:

    Thank you for all the advice! I found a black suit at Von Maur (the Midwestern version of Nordstrom in less populated states) and bought both the skirt and pants that went with the blazer. I alternated between the two during the week-long trial. I defended my local government employer in a federal civil rights case and received a favorable verdict this afternoon. Feeling motivated to treat myself to one of these other suits now!!!

    March 29, 2021/Reply