Ask the Editor Vol.III, No. Fifteen

May 11, 2022

Headed somewhere this summer?  Need a new handbag to haul your essentials?  So does today’s questioner.

Hi Abra:

Love the blog, and I’m newly pregnant too, so loving the pregnancy recommendations! I am going on a trip to Greece in a few weeks and looking for a cross-body purse to carry that’s big enough to hold a bottle of water and snacks (see above—pregnant, must have snacks) but not too big and bulky since I’ll be walking around all day.

Any recommendations? Thanks! -Elizabeth

This sounds like a job for Madewell.  Their zip-top Transport crossbody tote will hold a standard water bottle.  Their medium Transport camera bag will also hold more than it first appears.

Another option?  A flat water bottle.  It holds 13oz and will fit in most medium-sized bags.

Hey Abra,

Hope you are well! I have a professional dress question for you. I’m working as a summer associate at a law firm this summer and I am on the hunt for comfortable and professional heels that I can wear every day (ideally black/taupe). Hoping to be in the $200 range, but willing to spend a bit more for quality. I would be so grateful for any suggestions.

Thanks in advance! Caroline

One thing before we get to your heel suggestions: Have you thought about wearing flats?

A basic pair of leather, point-toe flats will look just as professional as heels.  And if you don’t wear heels often, you don’t want to wind up miserable all afternoon or passing on after work events because your feet hurt.  I find my days go much smoother when my feet feel fine.

My number one suggestion for heels are these Marc Fisher block heels.  They’re stable, comfortable and easy to break in.  I also like the look of these snakeskin round toe pumps.

Another option?  Ann Taylor’s shoes are pretty comfortable.  Their Mila pumps are well-reviewed.  Their Eryn pumps are also popular.

Wide feet?  Trotters makes a basic kitten heel.

Abra,

Can you recommend a good blazer that isn’t too fancy for work?  I want something that looks modern and cool, not like a suit jacket I wore without the skirt.  My office transitioned to biz/casual but I still want to look like the manager.

Sincerely, AP

I have both the camel and black Banana Republic double-breasted, gold-button blazers (petite, tall).  I also own the ivory, which has a slightly thicker fabric (which I like better).  I wear them constantly, with everything.  I’m wearing the camel one today with jeans.  I wore the black yesterday with a dress.

Another option is a push sleeve blazer.  This Cinq a Sept is the dream (this brand is 100% awesome for blazers, I have two, I have sale alerts set up for more).  Both this Vince Camuto and Halogen are good mid-price options.

Lastly, you might think about blazers in colors, prints, or with embellishments.  This Cinq a Sept embellished blazer has a nice look, but it’s a little much for most of us.  Instead, buy a set of pins or brooches and put them on the lapel or shoulder.

For colored or printed blazers, try yellow or hot pink with a cool split sleeve.  For prints, try a subtle windowpane or an abstract check, which could work in a professional or casual office.

You can also dress blazers down with graphic tees, bright blouses, or distressed jeans.  Don’t be afraid to get creative if you have the freedom.

Hello,

You posted some writing pins last month to Instagram.  I didn’t buy them at the time.  What were they?

Sara

I write with two kinds of pens: marker tip “signing pens,” a throwback to my Capitol Hill days and these U Brands Catalina felt tip pens.  I like the U Brands ones so much it got me off of blue ink onto black (and I’ve only been writing in blue since elementary school).

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  1. Crystal says:

    @Caroline: Congratulations on your summer job! Longtime DC “Big Law” attorney (now with the feds) with a couple more recommendations for you. First, I strongly recommend good commuter shoes. I really like Rothy’s Points (size up!) because they are washable, take up almost no space in your carry-on if you’re traveling for work, can double as workday shoes, and look good with dark denim for casual Fridays (or your weekend). (Colors like black, camel, and many of the animal prints work well.) Second, for heels and flats (and sneakers!), I really appreciate the quality, style, and comfort of Cole Haan. Look for sales at places like Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack. Also, consider keeping some moleskin-type tape in your purse/desk in case you start to get blisters from your new shoes. I hope you have a great experience at your firm!

    • EMM says:

      I second Cole Haan – I asked one of my bougiest friends for luxury heel recommendations (I was planning to splurge on some classic Jimmy Choos or Manolos) and was shocked when she told me to skip those brands and get some Cole Haans instead. Best advice ever.

  2. elz says:

    Just got back from Greece and I used the Tory Burch crossbody, this one (now sold out https://www.nordstrom.com/s/tory-burch-foldover-crossbody-bag/4058858). It fit a small water bottle, snacks, passport, etc with room to spare. I’d suggest something that size. It was perfect!

  3. Andra says:

    I’m looking for a closed-toe, no more than 2″ heel shoe to wear with pants in the summer. I tend towards business casual (I work in education), so nothing too dressy. Thanks!

  4. ElizabEth says:

    Thank you for the recommendations! Never even thought of a flat water bottle, great idea!

  5. EMM says:

    For a future edition (the pin question reminded me) – any recommendations on places to look for a cardigan clip? A v chic woman in a meeting recently was wearing a cardigan draped over her shoulders with a gold & pearl chain link clip securing it in the gap between/below her neck (does that make sense?) and I’m obsessed with the idea. I’ve looked on Etsy, etc. but feel like I’m missing an obvious source.

  6. K-T says:

    I am a recent convert to dress shoes from French Soles NY. They are one of the few brands that make narrows (and presumably wides). Not cheap, but not ridiculous either. The leather is soft, yet still substantial. I bought them through Zappos.

  7. Amy says:

    Flats are a great choice for many.
    It’s unfortunate that many folks benefit from the perceived authority and professionalism of added height from heels. This can be especially true for young-looking women, and people who are <5’4” and/or slender or small overall.

  8. Jessie says:

    I just got back from Italy and used the Lo & Son’s The Pearl as my bag. It’s a crossbody that fits quite a bit in it and has 2 zippered compartments with a middle part that closes with 3 snaps, so that part also felt quite secure. It was perfect.

  9. Erica says:

    Another rec on shoes – Michael Kors makes a variety of colors, heel heights, and toe shapes in the flex pumps. They are the most comfortable heels I have ever worn, and at Macys they run about $100. I have five pairs (black point, navy suede almond, nude to me almond, ivory almond, and black patent almond).

  10. Meaghan says:

    Just received the cinq a sept blazer and it’s fantastic. Great recommendation. Thanks for suggesting this brand!

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