Ask the Editor: Vol. IV, No. Four

Feb 16, 2023

This week, let’s talk about crossbody bags, at-home manicures, bad hair color and more.  Because who doesn’t need a little advice from time to time?

Dear Abra,

I generally carry a small crossbody purse with my phone/wallet/keys/lipstick and minimal other items that I carry in my larger bag I carry to work, and that I carry on its own to work events, weekend errands, etc. I’ve had a black Kate Spade Jackson Mini Carli for the past few years, and have noticed it is showing a lot of wear and tear. Do you have any recommendations for a nicer small no-frills crossbody that can work for most occasions?

Diane

I am also noticing that a number of my basic pieces are showing wear.  So I’m glad I’m not the only one searching for replacement staples.

This Rebecca Minkoff Love Crossbody is the first bag that came to mind.  It has a modern look with stitched leather and black hardware.  If you like the look of a Kate Spade dome crossbody, this Morgan bag is a lovely piece. Other unique options include this Furla bag with a unique medallion and this Arlettis flap bag.

Looking for something under-$150?  This Madewell camera bag with a wide strap and this Niasin bag that has a bow handle, that’s surprisingly chic.

Hi Abra,

I need your help with my hair color. My stylist is out on maternity leave and her replacement gave me chunky highlights.  I can’t find anyone to see me on short notice but I have a weekend trip for the holiday.  How do I fix this?

Thank you for your advice, Poppy

My primary guidance would be to find a professional, but it looks like you’ve already tried and your search wasn’t fruitful.  So let’s talk about two possible avenues, one riskier than the other.

First, I would try glossing the hair.  dpHue makes a gloss conditioner that deposits hair color to freshen up your color.  It can also tone down a bad set of highlights.  You apply in shower and leave in for 3-20 minutes.  I would start in the middle and see where that gets me to, and adjust as needed.

If this first option does not work, then you can try an all over color.  But this path is fraught.  Choosing the right color and the right tools is key.  My husband became an expert hair colorist during the pandemic, so it doesn’t hurt to ask for help if you need it.

I like Madison Reed color for these types of dye jobs.  It’s available at Ulta and Target.  Their color looks natural and is virtually idiot proof.  The trick is to purchase the color closest to your base color and to leave it on a little longer than the box recommends.  I also recommend spending the extra $12 on the tool kit, it just makes the whole process easier.

Last tip, do not rush an at home dye job.  Put the kids to bed, lay out your tools, set a timer, give yourself the space to get this right.  Now is not the time to hack something together.  But be prepared to burn a towel, which will now be covered in color.

Okay, Abra, for real, what is your take on the ankle-height Mini Uggs. I know you hate the boots, but wear the slippers.  I’m kinda confused and need guidance because they are all over my feed.

— Elsa

I don’t hate Uggs.  I do believe, however, that they are slippers.  They are not for out of the house wear.  Period.  End.

I wear the Ansley slipper/loafer.  But the Ultra Minis that all over Instagram right now, and I think it’s a fine option for keeping your feet warm in these cold months.

Abra:

Thanks for keeping up the blog since the baby.  I have a fairly specific ask, but it’s one I think you can help with.  I need pants with no pockets and no front zipper.  My sons were born in July via c-section and my abdomen needs to recover.  Adding the bulk just looks bad and I don’t want to and the women’s clothing industry can’t make me. Please tell me there are options.

Emily M.

Lady, congratulations on keeping two human babies alive for half a year.  It’s a vibe.  But don’t worry about the pants, I have options for you.

Ann Taylor’s side zip pants all lay completely flat with no pockets or zippers.  They come in a thick, suiting-style fabric.  They come in black, tan, camel and wine.  You can also get them in ivory crepe.  Also in petite.

If you don’t need/want an office fabric, I am also wearing a number of ponte styles postpartum.  These NYDJ Sculpt Her flare pants (also in plus) are fantastic. They are so comfortable and easy to wear.  Also, these Spanx wide legs are nice as well.

Hello,

For the New Year, I resolved to save money on personal care — no more manicures, no more expensive facials, etc.  I want to paint my own nails at home because I miss the finished look.  Do you have a favorite at home manicure kit?

KR

I don’t, but a friend of mine, who paints her own nails every weekend does.  She is an evangelist for Dashing Diva.  You apply the stickers, file them to fit, and then back under a UV light.  They offer a starter kit with pale pink polish.  I have that and the red at home, for when I have time to do my own nails again.

Style

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  1. Amanda says:

    KISS Impress press-on nails are shockingly good for <$10.

    • Erin says:

      Yes these are great. Sometimes I need a little nail glue for an emergency fix, but they have good color options and stay on pretty well as long as you follow the application instructions.

  2. Tiffany says:

    Talk to me about Uggs when your kids are playing soccer in January. 🙂 It becomes about survival!

  3. Laura says:

    Lo and Sons Pearl for a crossbody! Holds everything I need, and it’s held up well 5-6 years on.

  4. Andrea says:

    I love Sally Hansen Miracle Gel system for an at-home manicure that lasts. No UV needed, you just apply 2 coats of polish followed by the gel top coat, and they have a decent selection of colors available at Target and drugstores.

    For toes, this system lasts me as long as a legit salon gel manicure. On hands, I’ve found that it lasts longer than regular polish but not as long as pro gel (although this could be operator error-I don’t paint my hands a lot so my technique leaves something to be desired haha).

    • Allison says:

      +1 for the Miracle Gels! They don’t strip my nails down like salon gel manicures. They definitely aren’t as bulletproof and thick-feeling as salon gel, but I can touch them up easily and they do last longer than regular polish.

      • Jenn S. says:

        The difference here isn’t the product, but the prep: an uncomfortable amount of salons do nail prep for gel manicures far too aggressively. You generally don’t do that to yourself at home.

  5. Maggie says:

    To the first question, I also carry a small crossbody in a larger bag to work, and use the crossbody for night events or weekends. I’ve had a Lo&Sons Pearl crossbody for at least 5 years that looks as good as the day I bought it! I actually bought a black one a few years ago on sale for fear one day they’d stop making it. Best purchases I’ve ever made. https://www.loandsons.com/products/pearl-nappa-leather-black-gold-lavender

  6. e says:

    +1 for Dashing Diva! Because they are stickers you can “start and stop” application – that’s a major reason I never get around to actually painting my nails these days. And they look great on. They don’t really chip, just eventually fray a little so you peel them off. Once you can get over the silly name they are a really great product.

  7. Laura says:

    To the mom looking for pants with nothing in the front, if you are looking for comfy leggings, Beyond Yoga makes adorable legging that come up higher than most and are super supportive. I suspect it’s because most of the tops they sell are crops, but whatever the reason is, they are super soft and cosy for new moms. They can be a tad pricy, but the sale section is usually well stocked. They also have joggers.

  8. Erica says:

    Regarding har highlights — I would SERIOUSLY resist the urge to correct in the short term with an at-home option. This can often create more difficulty for a stylist next time you go to the salon, and can take years to work past. I understand you may not feel comfortable going back to the same person, but can you call the salon manager and explain your dissatisfaction? Perhaps they can set you up with someone else at the salon to do a correction–likely at no cost to you. Otherwise, unless it is completely unbearable, I would make the soonest appointment you can and wait it out. In the long run it will be better.

    • paula says:

      I second the hair comment. As a professional, I highly recommend not covering up highlights at home. It will make it very difficult to correct when you do get back into the salon. The stylist will not be able to see where the highlights were and bleach over bleach is not healthy for your hair. On another note, nails are not painted, they are polished. Walls are painted. 😉

    • sbe says:

      Agree!!! No permanent or semi-permanent dye over your current highlights. The other suggestion of a gloss over the highlights to tone them down a little (it sounds like they were too light/too bold??) would be helpful. Because a gloss is quick (30 minutes), it is possible you could get in at other salons if you called around and asked for *just* a gloss. Some salons will even sell you a gloss to take home and apply yourself. If not, at a quick run to Target or Ulta, you’ll find a few options either for color-depositing conditioner or gloss to lightly tone the color down until you can get back in and have the color corrected at the salon that you went to for the highlights in the first place.

  9. RR says:

    The Olive & June kits are great if you want to paint your own nails. Everything you need and good quality nail polish. For gel, the Beetles kits are good. For dip, try Gelish. I haven’t tried Dashing Diva, but have used Ohora with great luck if you’d rather go the gel sticker route. Color Street is actually really good for non-UV nail stickers.

  10. LS says:

    Emily, I didn’t have a c-section but I do have a super painful abdominal injury. I fell in love with Universal Standard for pants. They have a ton of different styles of ponte pants, all pull on, no front zipper. Mine have very small on seam zip pockets but no bulk.

    I also bought a PACT corduroy pants in the fall. They do have a zipper front but an elastic back that makes them way more comfortable for me to wear. Possibly sold out but they are called the Cafe Corduroy pant if you look on posh.

  11. Joanna says:

    Adding the Everlane Dream Pant to the no zipper pants list. They look professional, come in a few colors, comfy and affordable.

  12. RG says:

    I’m obsessed with the Dashing Diva nail stickers. They have a line that doesn’t require UV light curing and that lasts for a couple weeks, easily. I’m trying to avoid UV lights/gel manicures now that the skin cancer data is clearer 🙁

    • Allison says:

      Ohhh which line is this? Their website is confusing, I can’t tell what’s what, but I would love something fast that lasts, and doesn’t require UV.

      • Anna says:

        The ones that say “Gloss” don’t require a UV light. Unfortunately, most of the ones I’ve seen in the store have designs, which isn’t my jam, but I was able to eek out two manis from the plain stickers. They work really well and look just like polish (but better!). It took me a while to get them on, but you can always start and stop. Plus, I’ve got an infant, so waiting on wet polish just isn’t gonna happen.

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