Ask the Edit: Vol. II, No. 3

Welcome to the last weekend of Blogust Recess!  I’ve been taking it a little easy around here, a) so I could get a break post-IVF, and b) so I could catch up on work.  Today, I filed my last outstanding piece of work for my day job, which felt great. So I’m clear to head to the lake this weekend and answer a few reader questions before I go.

Hi Abra,

Do you have any tips for dresses to wear to a wedding in mid-October? I haven’t purchased dresses in 2 years and I’m lacking confidence about where to look and what the style trends are now.

Suggestions in the cocktail/semi-formal range would be great.

Thanks so much! Kate 

I totally get it. I’ve been two one wedding in two years, and I have one in October that I’m struggling to find a dress for, so let’s go shopping.

One of the issues with dress shopping is the trends right now are all over the place.  The early-90s are back.  But most retailers just seem to be throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks, as no one really knows what the future holds.

The Outnet is always a good place to go looking for a nice dress at a nice price.  I love this navy Badgley Mischka dress.  And I’m totally smitten with this sheer-accented dress from Sachin + Babi.

Bloomingdale’s is also a go-to for me.  This BCBG maxi dress is in a great cinnamon color for fall.  Also, for the right kind of wedding, this gold sequin party dress would be a total stunner.  I also adore this dotted dress from ba&sh, and surprisingly, this leather dress from BCBG.

Plus-size? I had a surprisingly difficult time finding cocktail dresses in plus.  This cobalt wrap dress is great for a relaxed wedding.  This XScape dress with lace appliqués is truly stunning.  This hunter-green one is also gorgeous for fall.

Need something under-$100?  This drop dead gorgeous one shoulder and this great halter maxi are both at Express.  This simple, navy dress from ASOS is also a good option.

Hey there Abra-

I’m in a wedding in November and am on the hunt for a black-tie bridesmaid dress in black. (I might be able to get away with some very small non-black details.)  All the places I normally hunt have particularly low inventory so I’m really at a loss to find anything under $500 which isn’t too matronly but will flatter a post-baby body that has some extra weight in the tummy and breasts.
Any ideas you have would be incredibly appreciated!

You birthed a human being and you deserve to feel fabulous.  The easiest way to make that happen is likely to buy a dress you like one size up and have it tailored to fit.  It’s an additional expense, but for something like this, well worth it.

This Badgley Mischka dress in stretch jersey caught my eye; the one shoulder is popping.  This similar Calvin Klein is also nice.  And the slit in this Aqua gown keeps it from being matronly.  All of these will require a supportive strapless bra, I’m told this is the best one by large-chested women who know.

You could also choose a really simple gown and have it tailored impeccably.  Then, you add a jaw-dropping earring and no one will see anything but awesomeness.

Lastly, if I had to buy a black evening gown right now, there’s only one place I would go: Solace London.  This one shoulder, this off the shoulder, both are stunning.  These are gowns you’ll wear time and time again.

Hello, Abra:

Can you suggest a good pair of earrings that aren’t too fancy to wear every day?  I want to get my wife a gift and she loves your blog.  Want to spend about $200.  She likes gold, no dangly earrings and no fake diamonds.  Also, no Amazon, we’re a union household.

Fast shipping is also appreciated. 

A Grateful Guy

Missoma is a great place to start.  I love their beaded mini-hoops and claw stud earrings.

Another good option in that price point is Bony Levy.  These cable studs and knot earrings are both good options.

Also, these Ginnette-NY earrings are just over your budget, but very pretty and cool.

Don’t mind doing a little hunting?  Wolf & Badger is an awesome shop with a good selection of <$200 stud earrings.  This moonstone pair is very fresh, and I love these hexagon earrings with a real diamond accent.


I know you have acne, and I need your help desperately.  I am back at the office, mask all day and it’s like I’m 15 again.  I actually cried yesterday when I had to take photos with my kids for their first day of school.  Help.


Oh honey, the feeling of not feeling confident in your appearance is the worst.  But don’t worry about the photos, they make FaceTune for that.  Just lightly touch them up and move on.

As for the skin issues, let me walk you through it.

Face wash isn’t about stripping your skin dry, it’s about balancing it.  The Low PH Gel Cleanser is a good place to start because it won’t harm your skin’s natural barriers.  I use this squalene and tea tree cleanser to keep mine clean but hydrated.

Now, you want to look at a weekly treatment or one that can be used in emergencies.  I like both the charcoal origins mask and the Out of Trouble mask.  They both do a good job, and one tube lasts a long time.  But my favorite, life-saving acne mask is from the Clearing Solution from Dr. Jart, and it’s a one time use sheet mask.  A half-hour on my skin and this will shrink and smooth almost anything I throw at it.  The next morning, things look much better.

Lastly, I don’t use a spot treatment.  Instead, I use a serum that prevents and treats acne (either Ole or isClinical), and CosRX spot patches to drain the gunk out of my blemishes.

Lastly, you have to heal any dark marks that have formed.  (I know, it’s a process, but peace of mind is worth it.)  This PTR Niacinamide cream is a miracle for dark marks and uneven tone.

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  1. Anon says:

    Micellar water & the Ordinary’s niacinamide/zinc serum have been game changers for my acne. The Aztec clay mask has also made a big difference when I have a breakout. And I definitely second the cosrx patches for specific pimples!

    September 2, 2021/Reply
  2. Diana says:

    I highly recommend getting a prescription from your dermatologist for a Clindamycin gel. It worked better than anything else when I was dealing with acne as an adult.

    September 2, 2021/Reply
  3. Jackie says:

    I am also attending a wedding in October and struggling to find a dress so this post is timely. I ordered this dress from J.Crew in 2 sizes hoping it works:

    There have been no reviews so always makes me nervous…but can’t beat the 40% off sale.

    September 2, 2021/Reply
  4. RR says:

    For skin care, allow me to recommend the following regimen based on ingredients recommended by Jordan Harper instagram:

    Cleanse, Toning (The ordinary glycolic), Vitamin C (like Cerave renewing vitamin C), Moisturizer/SPF with niacinamide (La Roche Posay double SPF)

    Remove makeup, then cleanse, Follow with Toning (The Ordinary Glycolic), Retinoid (Differin 0.1%) and MOISTURIZE.

    After your skin in used to this, can add vitamin C before retinoids in evenings as well as lactic acid/salicylic acid in morning after vitamin C. But this will be initially quite drying so ease into the ingredients. For melasma, I add azelaic acid from Paula’s choice after vitamin C in the morning.

    September 2, 2021/Reply
  5. Emma says:

    Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid has made a huge difference in my maskne. My breakout cleared so much faster when I stopped wearing face makeup.

    September 2, 2021/Reply
  6. Cait says:

    Thank you Abra, and everyone who shared their skincare recs! I’m dreading this second winter of wearing a mask all day in the office. My skin gets super dry in the winter, but I also get terrible maskne year round (even with silk masks, clean masks, etc.), so I’m stocking up on everyone’s recommendations!

    September 3, 2021/Reply
  7. Marie says:

    Another maskne skincare rec! Sulfur has been one of the BEST tools I’ve found specifically for mask-related acne. Peter Thomas Roth makes a sulfur acne mask, and while it’s both a bit pricey and a bit smelly, using it either as a spot treatment or an area treatment has made a huge difference.

    Also, seconding the rec for a Clindamycin gel prescription. Putting that on before your mask will keep the bacterial growth(and by extension, the acne) at bay.

    September 3, 2021/Reply
    • Kelsey says:

      I second the recommendation for a sulfur mask for acne (I bought one on Amazon). Works much better than charcoal for me. The key is I don’t cover my whole face with it, often I will just do the mask covered areas, a couple times a week.

      September 3, 2021/Reply
  8. Denise says:

    Every time I attend a wedding I rent my dress from Rent the Runway. I’m also part of their subscription service and while I’ve had a couple of hiccups from the company, i have used them on an doff for 5+ years without major catastrophe. I recently attended a wedding out of town (first one in 2 years!) and got so many compliments! I also complimented another guest who informed me ‘Oh, thank you, it’s Rent the Runway’! Got into a long discussion about it and ended up giving out some referral codes, haha. So if you’re feeling adventuresome try it out! I will say that it seems to get the best reviews from women who are average height or petite – many tall reviewers have issues with dress length.

    September 3, 2021/Reply
  9. Jess C says:

    Another maskne tip – do not use actives in your morning routine if you will be wearing a mask all/most of the day! The humidity from your breath/sweat will increase the effectiveness of any active ingredients (vit c, acids, etc) and can cause irritation or sensitized skin. Keeping it simple and light during the day, and then treating (gently, if your skin is angry) at night has helped me!

    September 3, 2021/Reply
  10. Cecilia says:

    A great tip I received from my wedding makeup artist (and experienced aesthetician) was to have several cleansers and to use what your skin needs that day. I rotate between a simple cleanser (Acure Brightening Cleansing Gel), something for acne (Aveeno Positively Radiant skin brightening daily scrub), and something rich and creamy for a moisture boost (Skinfood Egg Perfect Pore Cleansing Foam) depending the time of year and what my skin most needs.

    September 7, 2021/Reply