Ask the Editor: Vol. IV, No. 1

Jan 4, 2023

It’s a New Year, so let’s dig into the reader mail bag to answer a few questions.  From conference cocktail attire to

Hello,

I am attending a legal conference in DC in mid January for the first time since January 2020 and need a few new outfits for the numerous nighttime cocktail receptions and dinners, or at least recommendations on modern ways to wear what I have. Do you have any recommendations?

Diane

I would start by going through what you already have.  Recently, I had to try on a bunch of work clothes to see what fit and what I still wanted to wear.  That narrowed down my choices (quickly).

If you have dresses that you like, I recommend adding a stylish belt or jazzing up other accessories.  Nordstrom has a few lovely choices — I like this bow belt from Kate Spade, a skinny knot belt, and this wrap belt.  Another option is a pair of chic earrings.  Or add a fun blazer over a simple dress; I’d choose this sequin blazer or this white tuxedo blazer.

Looking for a new dress to wear?  I like the versatility of this knit midi dress.  (Pair it with tall boots and a cool pair of earrings.)  This Reiss off-the-shoulder dress can be adjusted depending on how much deep shoulder action you want to give.  I also really like the flutter sleeve on this Maggy London dress (though I would probably shorten it to knee-length).  Plus-size? The lace pattern on this City Chic dress isn’t your traditional, boring floral.

Abra,

Can you help me find a pair of earrings that I can wear every day?  A dainty earring with a little bit of sparkle would be nice.

TZ

This Trinal stud from Missoma is one of my favorite pairs.  For something a bit edgier, try these small spike studs.

Dear Belle-

I am presenting at a conference for medical professionals in April and I have no idea what to wear. The audience is primarily male managers & directors that deal with medical equipment – their day to day wardrobe is khakis and a polo or button down.

What do I wear to present? I’ve never felt very comfortable in suits (5’2, plus size), probably because they really aren’t cut for my body, and I work from home (guessing my leggings & tunic daily uniform won’t cut it), so I’m feeling at a loss. I need to be comfortable on my feet all day (no heels) and want to look polished but not so overdone that I stand out in a negative way.

Any guidance would be appreciated!

Thanks, Jess

In this situation, you have two options: 1) a simple dress in a relaxed color (no black, no red) or 2) a pair of trousers with a blouse and sweater jacket.

For choice number one, I like this cobalt dress (for <$75) and this London Times dress with a button waist.  Both dresses are professional, but not stuffy.  Plus-size ladies should try this printed wrap dress.

For choice number two, I like this plaid sweater blazer (also in plus size) with a navy blouse and pants.  J.Crew’s Chelsea blazer is also nice; I like it with this dark brown blouse.

Dear Abra,

It’s that time of year when I buy a planner and hope it solves all of my problems.  I’ve tried several over the years, but I’m hoping you have a suggestion for an “adult” planner.  No pink, no sparkles.  What have you got?

Jai

This Container Store planner comes in a pale tan with metallic accents.  One of my former co-workers swears by the Day Designer planners.  Prefer something customized?  This Etsy seller can make you one to your exact specifications.

Belle,

You posted some underwear that you wore during pregnancy.  I’m 19 weeks, and mine no longer fit.  Which ones did you like?

H/E

The Proof light absorbency underwear were my primary choice (also in plus).  For the last few weeks, I wore these Motherhood Maternity briefs.  The low rise made them easy to wear without pinching.

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  1. Lauren says:

    I can vouch for the Day Designer for Target planner! I have used it for ~4 of the last 6 years, and the years I didn’t, I regretted it. They have some floral covers, but also more basics, and the 5×8 size weekly/monthly is perfect for carrying to and from work, etc. daily! Enough room for daily notes/plans without being cumbersome in terms of hourly planning (though they have a daily version as well, if you want that).

  2. Anna says:

    I loved the kindred bravely under the belly bikini undies so much I bought two more packages and they’re pretty much all I wear still three months pp. Bonus, if you have a C-section, they sit under the scar.

  3. MC says:

    I love the planner from Wisdom Supply Co. https://www.wisdomsupplyco.com/collections/products-new/products/2023-zero-waste-weekly-planner-1

    Best one I’ve tried-I love the layout AND it’s compostable!

  4. k says:

    For the reader getting ready to present at a medical conference – your best bet is to wear a topper. It doesn’t have to be a “suit” and these days a full suit would feel a bit overdone to my eye. However, having attended these types of conferences in healthcare for going on 20 years, the completer piece of a jacket or a great sweater jacket like Abra described, is key for establishing visual credibility. It can be worn over a dress, skirt, or pants, but wear the jacket. I don’t know whether it’s because in healthcare we equate white coat with authority or what, but a speaker without a jacket does not carry the same gravitas.

  5. RKT says:

    Jess,

    You might check out the items that are on sale on Nordstrom from City Chic. I haven’t tried the brand, but it showed up in some searches for me and seemed cute. While some items are more evening, there are jackets and dresses that could work for a conference/toned down presentation, if that was a look you liked. Unfortunately, nothing seems to be specifically petite. But several of the “minidresses” would actually be cute for work if they were knee-length on someone, so that might be an option too.

  6. Mary says:

    I love my Planner Pad. It has a monthly overview page and weekly pages. The weekly view is spread across 2 pages, and there are areas at the top where you can group your tasks before assigning them to a day. I prefer the personal size (6.75 x 8.5 inches) and the green color. $33.95 at Amazon.
    Hope this helps!

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