Ask the Editor: Vol. IV, No. Five

May 9, 2023

Friday, we drove back from Montana, the Jeep packed with our possessions.  And by “our,” I mean Sloane’s.  Okay, okay, my shoes may have taken up a little room, but between the pack-n-play and the high chair, we were pressed for square footage.  Add in the fact that we needed to prep for an out-of-town guest, and I did not get the full-weekend of blogging I had hoped.  Regardless, there’s always the mailbag, so let’s pull out a few letters and get to work.

Belle-

I happened to come across your blog- searching for style inspiration to revive my work wardrobe.  Your content is fabulous and keep your chin up as we all go through our bodies transforming during different seasons in life.  I work in a professional setting that is becoming more casual overtime.  I find blazers restricting and would love to find layering pieces (cardigans?) to wear in lieu of a blazer. I’d prefer something fitted vs. a boxy style that is so in lately.

Any ideas? LPS

The boxy cardigan is really having a moment on the racks at Madewell and other “on trend” retailers.  It’s not my favorite look either, tbh.  So let’s see if we can find something else.

My first suggestions, if you work in a more professional office, are the Woolf and Sant Ambroeus Jardigans from MM LaFleur.  Both have the stretch of a knit with the structure of a blazer.  I also like that both are machine washable — in a bag, with no unbagged items to grab hold of it, on delicate, with Woolite — because baby formula gets on literally everything.  Both come in a wide variety of colors.

If you prefer a more cardigan cardigan, you have to decide if you want shorter or longer styles.  Longer is a bit more casual, a bit cozier, a bit more relaxed.  Shorter styles are a bit more structured, a bit more office maven, a bit more proper.

On the shorter side, I like this v-neck Halogen cardigan.  It fits very close to the body, so you’ll want to size up if, like me, you don’t love having your body on display or you want to layer it over other pieces. For a preppier look, there is the Jackie crewneck cardigan from J.Crew and its Factory equivalent.  This & Other Stories wrap cardigan is a long time favorite as well, the colors are very fun.

For a longer look, obviously my favorite option is the Juliette sweater blazer (also in plus).  I wear that topper over everything.  This Nordstrom Everyday Open Front cardigan and the Miller cardigan are both good options.

Hi Belle,

I’m heading to Pakistan for work at the end of April.  Two weeks, and I’m starting to make a packing list.  However, I’m at a loss of what to wear on the plane.  20+ hours of travel time, so I want to be comfortable but I need look semi-professional as well.  Thoughts? 

Thanks! Megan

Sadly, I missed this question when it first came in, but I do have plane outfit suggestions for long haul flights.

First, let’s talk about matching, gauze coords.  These wide leg gauze pants and button up top would be so comfy.  Add in a cozy cardigan, and you’re pulled together, but not constricted.  And when traveling to a Muslim country, you would be covered enough to avoid any issues.

Second, my Mom and I both wore long sleeve, jersey maxi dresses on our last international flight.  Layer on a long cardigan, and you’re basically wearing a nightgown that looks like a dress.

Dear Abra, 

Can you recommend a tinted lip balm from a clean beauty line?  I would love something with a bit of plumping, but I may be asking too much.  I just can’t bear to wear lipstick in the hot weather.

Kaylee

I did not think I would be able to find this fairly specific request either, but amazingly, Summer Fridays makes such a product.  If you prefer it in a stick, Lawless has a very similar product.

Hi Belle/Abra:

I have a to go to a Christening in April in NYC at St Patrick’s Cathedral. I’m at as loss on how to dress as someone who is not affiliated with a church nor has every been to a Christening. I also don’t live in NYC and the idea of the crowd at this event is intimidating. Having been working from home since 2019 (went on maternity leave right before the pandemic) I feel like I have nothing to wear.

I’d like to keep the whole outfit under $200 if possible but am willing to spend more if pieces can be used again.I always appreciate your honesty and practical style advice. As a mom of three, I’m also sending a lot of positivity your way, first baby was the biggest of learning curves for me and I wish you and your family well!

Thank you, SS

Again, I missed this question when it first came through, but attire for religious events can be a challenge, especially when someone isn’t an adherent.  As one of my agnostic friends reminded me prior to another friend’s Roman Catholic cathedral wedding, “I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of any faith, so please put the dress code on the invitation.”

In my world, a christening is an event that requires a dress.  I prefer something with sleeves, so I can skip a cardigan.  This cobalt dress from Zappos could be reworn as a work dress.  This modern floral dress from Nordstrom is also nice, as is this one in a springy color palette.  I also really like this polka dot dress in a classic navy and white.

Plus-size? This eyelet dress is lovely.  I also like this chiffon maxi dress.

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  1. Jamie says:

    Both the lip balm links go to a (very cute) dress.

  2. Lily says:

    “In my world, a christening is an event that requires a dress”
    I would so very definitely need guidance.

    PNWer here would be in nice jeans and a classy fleece and *embarrassed* af.

  3. Catherine says:

    I’ve grew up religious and am still active in the Church; I definitely agree with the level of formality required for guests at a christening/baptism! Abra’s dress choices are lovely and spot on.

    I would say though that a dress isn’t required; in most churches dress pants and a blouse with sleeves would be totally appropriate.

    • Belle says:

      A pair of wide leg crepe pants and a nice blouse would work most places. I go to church with a woman from the South, so nearly every Sunday requires a dress.

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