Ask the Editor: Vol. III, No Thirteen

Mar 24, 2022

The sun is finally out and I feel like a new person.  Sort of.  Mostly?  I don’t know, I’m trying to think positive thoughts this week because my day job is a torrent of deadlines and the Zags play at 4:00PM, and I could use some emotional sunshine.  So let’s answer some reader questions.\

Hi Abra,

My office just lifted our mask rules for vaccinated employees.  For the first time in three years, I’d like to buy a lipstick, since people will see it now.  Any great ones I should try first?

LeeLa

First, let me give you my little-bit-o-luxury splurge pick.  I am smitten with the Gucci Rouge de Beaute Glow and Care Lipstick.  The formula is heavily pigmented, but wearable.  It’s moisturizing, easily touched-up or reapplied, and fades without giving you that 80s-supermodel lipliner look.

My favorite shade is Rosewood, a near universal pinky-beige. I also just bought Diana Amber since I wanted to try a red.

Second, if you love a drugstore-priced wonder, you have to try the Ulta Gloss Stick.  I picked one up in Buggin’ – a berry/wine color – and it’s awesome.  A hint of light-wearing color that looks a lot like Clinique Black Honey for under-$10.

Hi Belle,

Congrats on your pregnancy! So excited for you.

Do you have any suggestions for pregnancy-safe facial sunscreens?  Seems like most of the mineral-based ones are chalky and leave a white cast.  I have combo skin that can be acne-prone.  Looking for something to wear daily to work and layer under makeup, and light enough to withstand summer metro commuting.

Would love your perspective. Thank you! Elizabeth

Abiding by “pregnancy safe” guidelines is one of the most exhausting parts of being pregnant.  What one “expert” says is fine, another one is totally against.

Add to this the fact that most of those pregnancy safe articles are just a way for magazines and apps to sell you stuff (I’m looking at you, What to Expect), and I decided early on that, I would take advice from my OB and check labels, but I was not going to obsess about this or be shamed by people on social media who spot a hairspray on my bathroom counter and rush to DM me about how I’m killing my child.  Our society is way too comfortable policing the choices of pregnant women and mothers in the name of helping them, and I am not here for it.

But, on the topic of sunscreen…

I’ve been wearing this natural Suntegrity sunscreen and primer for about four years, and I intend to use it during pregnancy with the blessing of my OB.  A friend who is a dermatologist with three kids also recommended the Supergoop Mineral SheerScreen.

Hi Abra,

My office is easing back to in-person, and a formerly business dress code is being relaxed to business casual. I’ve always preferred shoes (like oxfords) or boots that I can wear real socks with, for several reasons, and after 2 years of WFH outfits and being truly comfortable, I decided I’m really not going back to pumps and uncomfortable ballet flats.

Do you have any recommendations for cool sneakers or sneaker like shoes that wouldn’t look too out of place with business casual outfits like fitted black pants, blouse, and blazer? Is all black or all white the way to go? For reference, my male boss often wears jeans, a button down, sometimes a blazer, and sort of khaki colored Allbirds.

Would love any suggestions you – or other readers – have! AJT

If you plan to wear black pants, I would wear black sneakers.  With jeans, any color will do.

When trying to choose a cool sneaker, I shop where the cool twenty-somethings shop: Shopbop.    For a sporty black choice, try these Veja SDUs.  Or follow your boss’s lead and go with the all black AllBirds, which will have a lot of fans in the comment section.

Personally, to get through the latter half of pregnancy, I’ve decided to wear some combination of the Veja low-top sneakers with metallic accents and the Rothy’s sneaker in leopard (yes, I know they look line the Vans our boyfriends wore in 9th grade, everything old is new again).  And I may finally pull the trigger on these Gucci Bees, after all, I’m gonna be 40 and pregnant, I’ve earned them.

Abra/Belle:

Can you help me find a curling iron that doesn’t suck? I bought one at CVS and the clamp fell off after three days.  It’s a $40 item for gosh sake!  Just a 1.25″ would be great.

Liza

A lot of influencers push the $100+ curling iron, but I do not.  I only buy Hot Tools.  I just replaced my own 1 and 1/4-inch curling iron after five years, so you’ll get the wear out of it.  Most hairdressers you visit use Hot Tools because they take a licking and keep on ticking.

Also, if you’re curling every day, get yourself some DryBar Hot Toddy.  It’ll keep the heat from frying your ends.

Abra,

I gained 30-lbs in the past year.  Some COVID, some a sudden breakup with my girlfriend.  My employer is bringing us back to the office April 1, and the dress code is jeans only, no leggings or athletic attire.  I cried trying on my jeans.  I am not ready.  I need help.  Please help.

Broken Rivets in Bloomingdale

To start, let me say that I’m sorry you’ve had a hard year.  Maybe going back to the office will help you restart.  So let’s find you some pants that fit.

My favorite jeans right now is the J.Crew Toothpick (also in plus) in a light wash for summer and the Wit & Wisdom Ab-solution jean, which gives you the look of a late-90s bootcut without the low rise that we all fought so hard to abolish, but the young ones are bringing back.

My other recommendation would be the NYDJ pants from this morning’s post.  They feel very forgiving and lovely, but they look like work pants.

Also, as much as your employer thinks they may be able to spot athletic attire, these Athleta Brooklyn Ankle pants (also in plus) look like real pants and fit like workout wear.  My Mom wears hers with twinsets and button-ups and no one knows they’re not khakis.  She owns the navy and twill color.  So feel free to push the boundary a bit here.

You can’t do your job if you’re not comfortable.  It makes work unnecessarily hard to wear uncomfortable clothes.  So buy what makes you feel good, and if you decide to lose the weight later, that’s your business.  If you decide not to, you have pants that don’t pinch.

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  1. E says:

    Mineral Sunscreen. I wear the Neutrogena Healthy Defense Sensitive Skin moisturizer and have for a decade (only the sensitive one is mineral). Wore it all through pregnancy too. Good SPF, all mineral, my sensitive skin does not react to it and it works great. I do not wear makeup everyday and have not noticed a white cast, but ghostly pale is my natural pigment so YMMV.

    Jeans. I get the plus sizes, but they come in all sizes I believe, check out Charter Club Cambridge pants at Macy’s. I have them in both the black pull on pant and the denim. I’ve since moved back into what were my baggy (size 35) gap jeans, but the black pants are the only ones I wear to work now. Feel like leggings, look like real pants, machine washable (I hang to dry) and very reasonably priced and often go on sale even more.

  2. Rebecca says:

    Sunscreen: Tatcha Silken is my favorite. It’s a combination physical/chemical formula, without a white cast, and it layers beautifully under makeup. I wear it year-round, even in swampy DC summers. I’ve tried others over the past year, and came back to this one, despite its high price. For me, it’s worth it.

    +1 for Abra’s recommendation to ask your doctor.

    Also worth noting: pregnant people are not involved in a lot of medical research, because they’re a protected group. The overall effect of this lack of knowledge is a very cautious (overly cautious?) stance that minimizes risk.

  3. Diane says:

    +1 for the Gucci Rouge de Beaute Glow and Care Lipstick in Call It A Day/Rosewood, which I purchased per recommendation from this site. Best lipstick I’ve ever owned, and I am blonde/neutral undertones. I can see how it would look great on everyone.

  4. Holly says:

    I love biossance for all products, including their sunscreen. All products are EWG verified ????

  5. J says:

    Re jeans— I am curvy and the only jeans that have ever fit me well are Kut from the Kloth. May be worth a try. I also honestly wear a lot of dresses and skirts which are more comfy on my hips and thighs than pants. I second you though, reader, I am dreading dressing for back to the office!

  6. Jill says:

    On jeans/pants, I also recommend all things NYDJ. I have a pair of the black stretchy pair of pants from years ago that have worn well. Got them at Nordstrom, which hemmed them nicely. I also love Loft jeans with a little stretch. Truly comfortable and inexpensive.

  7. HW says:

    The ever-shifting, loosely-tethered-to-science pregnancy safety guidelines (that always ended up siding with denying the pregnant woman something because “we don’t know, but wouldn’t you rather be safe?” without regard to comparing the size of any affect or the pros/cons of *not* doing the thing) were my #1 frustration. If you’re pregnant and feel similarly, I am *begging* you to check out Expecting Better by Emily Oster (and everything else she writes), which is directed at exactly this problem and attacks if from a perspective of sound statistical analyses. I had tabs in the food chapter bookmarked, and it was the reason I started having (certain kinds) of sushi again. YMMV, but I was so sad I hadn’t discovered until I was midway through my first pregnancy.

    • Sheryl says:

      Was going to comment this exactly! Emily Oster really clarified the evidence behind the pregnancy “recommendations” so that I could make my own decisions- and I am a physician who could not understand the data (spoiler there isn’t much).
      She also has an excellent substack.

    • NS says:

      Thirded. This book gives you the framework to make a decision, instead of prescriptive rules that never work in every situation. And best of all, she has written two more books about early childhood.

  8. AJT says:

    Thanks for the sneaker recs!! Will be spending my weekend looking through options on Shopbop 😉

  9. Melissa says:

    Re: Sneakers.

    Several years ago I was at a wedding and the female photographer was was wearing a suit, tshirt, and the suede Cole Haan Zerogrande oxford sneakers. I still think about how effortlessly cool – and comfortable – she looked. Personally I think athletic looking shoes have no place in a office, but these are a perfect blend of sneaker comfort and professional style.

    https://www.colehaan.com/zerogrand-wingtip-oxford-blazer-blue/W14474.html

  10. E says:

    Re: sunscreen. I’m also pregnant and early on I panic-bought the Biossance mineral sunscreen. It’s GREAT. I use it alone, under makeup (lasts all through my work day & doesn’t do anything weird to my makeup, even though I’m prone to oiliness; super easy under-layer), etc. It blends in perfectly, no white cast. I thought it was a little pricey for mineral sunscreen but I’ve barely made a dent in it (and bought it back in December). Hope that helps!

  11. Anon says:

    Paula’s Choice makes a great mineral sunscreen/moisturizer that blends well and never makes my acne prone skin break out.

  12. Allison says:

    AJT- We are in the same boat. I think cool sneakers with cropped slacks and a sharp blouse is a great look. I love rag and bone sneakers, you can find them on sale often. Also, look at high end retailers in the mens sales section, I have some veja high tops that I got for a steal because they are a small men’s size. personally, I love navy slacks with dark green or oxblood sneakers. Key is keeping them clean, work sneakers aren’t weekend sneakers. Also, get some great low socks so the look is intentional, not nurse. (Nurses are awesome, but you get what I mean.)

  13. ERica says:

    Re: Needing new work pants…
    First, so sorry to hear about your year. My 2022 has not been the start I hoped for (yet), either. Sending healing vibes your way!

    I recently purchased the Good American “Always Fits,” which are jeans, not jeggings, real denim that are designed to fit a range of four sizes. My pair fit comfortably when at was that the top of the range and *still fit* even though I’ve dropped two sizes and I am towards the lower end of the range. Perhaps a good option if you foresee efforts to lose the weight as something you want to pursue.

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