Style + Ask the Edit

Ask the Editor: Vol. III, No. 18

This week, we’re covering pencil skirts for work, hair clips from the ’90s, t-shirts for summer and more.  Let’s dive into the mail bag and get started.

Hi Abra,

It’s too hot and humid to wear my hair down in DC and my go to up do involves twisting my hair into a big butterfly clip. Where do you shop for butterfly clips that are maybe more stylish than what’s on offer at CVS? I’d like to at least pretend I’m not reusing the same updo from high school.

Thanks! SK

Yes, butterfly clips are back.  High school fashions have come full circle.  It’s a lot to process.

If you’re looking for a more modern style, Madewell has several.  This light tortoise clip is a great option.  Anthropologie also offers a four-pack of some modern styles, including the square jaw clip.  And if you have fine hair like mine, these clips from Nordstrom will keep it all in place.

Need tips on how to style your hair with clips?  This video shows three hair styles using jaw clips.


Do you have a recommendation for a weekend bag that isn’t leather?  I’m tired of carrying a suitcase on overnights, but leather is heavy and is tough to haul through the airport.



My first thought was either the Lo & Sons Catalina bag in canvas or the Cuyana Triple Zipper Weekender also in canvas.  Both bags have good storage, are light when carried, and are designed to pack up with ease.  The Lo & Sons is a more affordable bag, the Cuyana is more of a splurge.

Another option would be a nylon bag.  These have the benefit of being very durable.  At just $70, this big, cognac-colored Ted Baker bag is a good option for any trip.

Also, Dagne Dover’s neoprene Landon Carryall comes in five sizes and multiple colors.  So you can definitely find a combination that meets your needs.

Hello, Abra:

I know this is boring but I wear a t-shirt and shorts or jeans all summer.  I don’t like dresses.  I don’t want gauzy blouses.  I need my wardrobe to be very set-it-and-forget-it.  But I’ve been thinking I could up my t-shirt game.  No logos or graphics. This isn’t what you usually do, but maybe you can help.


If a simple wardrobe works for you, it works for you.  But let’s see if we can “up your game” on the t-shirt front.

This Wit & Wisdom tee (also in plus) from Nordstrom has a slightly puffed sleeve and a v-neck, so it has a little something extra.  In fact, this in-house brand has a lot of great tees that are worth checking out.  Some have subtle prints, others have different cuts.

Boden always has a few t-shirt options.  They have this simple square neck top. I also like the slight ruffle on the sleeve of this scoopneck.  And don’t sleep on this t-shirt with a crochet accent on the yoke.

LOFT always has a few options in cool colors or new cuts.  I really like the summery vibe this one with eyelet on the bib is giving off.


Can you help me replace my pencil skirt?  I need something a little stretchier but still professional.  

Thank you so much. D

I own this Ann Taylor Ponte Pencil skirt.  I find it to be more comfortable and more forgiving than your average wool skirt.  Yet, no one can really tell the difference.

Spanx has a ponte pencil in misses and plus-size that is made from a thicker material.  If you need lots of color options, Calvin Klein has you covered.

And if I could make one more suggestion, it’s not a pencil, but Chico’s has a skirt they designed to be traveled in that’s kind of like if an a-line midi and a pleated skirt had a baby.  It has a swingy style, a pull-on waistband and is under-$75.  It’s an amazing skirt for work.

From Instagram DMs:

Can you recommend a hiking boot that isn’t hideous?  I need a pair for a team building trip in August, but everything is awful.

I only buy Merrell boots. Their Moab boot/shoe is waterproof, and sleek in all black.  If you want ankle support get the Moab 2.

Two things about hiking boots: 1) Break them in. You do not be the first time you wear them to be on the trail; 2) The socks you choose are as important as the boots. My family all wear Smartwool socks.  Also, if it’s a long hike, I recommend insoles.

Lastly, if you have lots of hikes or plan on hiking more in future, think about buying a Camelbak.  I hate carrying water when I hike, and this lets me do it hands free.

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  1. Rebecca says:

    +1 for having a hydration pack of some sort while hiking. Getting packs for all of us – including my kid (when he was about 5-6) – was a total game-changer for us in terms of getting outside and active.

    June 27, 2022/Reply
  2. Lucy says:

    The Camelbak link goes to a toddlers’ t-shirt. 🙂

    June 27, 2022/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Well, that’s very strange.

      June 28, 2022/Reply
  3. T says:

    The Lems Boulder boot is my ride or die. Love the leather of the “weathered umber” and how it looks better the more it ages.

    June 27, 2022/Reply
  4. Bre says:

    Re: Q1
    $35 for a hair clip made my heart skip a beat. I’ve bought several from Miss A that look very similar to the options posted here. Plus their makeup blenders rival the Beauty Blender for a tiny percentage of the price.

    June 27, 2022/Reply
  5. Jill says:

    For stylish hiking boots, check out Danner Mountain Light boots. They’re a very cool retro style: brown leather, red laces. Fit is an individual thing, of course, but these shoes are comfortable for me and they transition well to post-hike beers and burgers.

    June 27, 2022/Reply
  6. Chloe says:

    Hi! I absolutely LOVE my Jemma bag for a weekender. It’s not as roomy as the Lo and Sons Catalina which I also own, but it’s easier to transport as it has a good shoulder strap or can use the handles, and lots of compartments to stay organized. It also comes with a shoe bag and a cosmetic case. It really is a true WEEKEND bag though – I’ve tried to jam 3ish nights of stuff in there and it just doesn’t work. For that, I go to shoving everything I can think of in my Lo and Sons haha.

    Also, I am 34 and 100% feel you on the jaw clip. This is still my go to. I recently bought some metal/vintage looking barettes on amazon (I think it was a smaller pack than this, but something like this – and I do feel like they are more ‘grown up’ than a bobby pin pouf or a big jaw clip.

    June 27, 2022/Reply
  7. E says:

    Can’t recommend the Landon carryall enough, I have the largest size. It’s lightweight but fits a ton. It doesn’t look odd if it’s under packed and is comfortable to carry over the shoulder. I use to always carry a roll aboard and its the only bag I travel with now.

    June 28, 2022/Reply
  8. Wendy says:

    TJ Maxx and Marshalls in the DC area have the cutest and big selection of hair clips — all shapes sizes and colors

    June 28, 2022/Reply
  9. Lindsay says:

    An ugly hiking boot is 1000x times better than blisters and raw heels. I would suggest getting fitted at a place like REI where you can take them on some test hikes and return them if they don’t work. I’m definitely a function over form person when it comes to outdoor shoes, so take it or leave it.

    Also, if you’re only going a short distance, you might want to look at trail running shoes. They won’t have ankle support, but would still have traction on the trail and are maybe less ugly.

    June 28, 2022/Reply
    • Julia says:

      I came to say exactly what Lindsay said. Hiking boots are one place where I will always, ALWAYS sacrifice style for function. But unless you work for Black Diamond or something, I would guess that for a team building excursion, a trail runner or hiking shoe will accomplish what you want, and also be both cheaper and more fashionable.

      June 30, 2022/Reply
  10. Elizabeth Millsaps says:

    This T-shirt is my “I am not wearing workout clothes” for zooms. It’s a great price and has held up in the wash well.

    June 28, 2022/Reply
  11. katie says:

    obsessed with this bag for weekends – also taking it to the hospital when I deliver in a few weeks –

    I have it in beige, it has somehow NOT gotten dirty, and has a great compartment for shoes and dirty clothes. OBSESSED!

    June 28, 2022/Reply
  12. Michaela says:

    It’s not “up your game” but I recently refreshed my tshirts with Nordstrom everyday v necks and have been very impressed with the quality (including white) for $19. I also got a Zella Ava tshirt that I like the color of a lot.

    June 28, 2022/Reply
  13. k-t says:

    Love, love, love my Camelbak backpack. That said, my most recent North Face backpack purchase has a laptop sleeve that also works for a bladder. There is a hook to hold it, and a port to thread the hose. So if you already have a backpack with those features, you can just buy a bladder.

    I am guessing that a team building trip doesn’t require serious hiking boots. Waterproof trail runners would probably be fine, possibly even Keens. If the terrain has lots of sharp rocks under foot, you might be happier with a hiking boot though. Definitely go to an REI, LL Bean or similar outdoors store to try them on. Zappos has some, if you really can’t get to a store.

    June 29, 2022/Reply