Ask the Editor: Vol. IV, No. Six

May 18, 2023

I’m still digging out after my return from Montana.  It’s amazing how much of your life needs maintenance and cleaning when you disappear from it for four months.  So here are three questions that came into the mailbag this week.

Hi Belle!

I am attending a trade show in a few weeks where I will be working at my company’s booth. The dress code is: company polo (dark grey), with black pants or dark jeans and “cool” shoes. Do you have a suggestion for some shoes that I can wear for 8 hours that will still look cute? What I really need are some cute sneakers.

Also, do you have any suggestions for how to dress up my outfit a bit? One of my coworkers wears a scarf tied like a flight attendant would wear, but I don’t want to steal her style.I carry some extra stomach weight, which the polo shirt is not very flattering on. I’d like to draw attention elsewhere.

Thanks! Hope

At a prior employer, I staffed a convention booth for 8-hours at a time.  It was taxing on my feet.  After the second convention, I started bringing a Gorilla-mat like product with me (because I needed to wear professional flats).  This is also a good option if you use a standing desk.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to wear casual shoes, cool sneakers may be an option.  For ladies with larger feet, I own these Air Jordans and I love them, but they are only available in men’s sizes.  This is the only time wearing size 9 has been a benefit to me. A friend who is a convention warrior, offered up either Allbirds, these Naturalizer low-profile lace ups or these Naturalizer Soul slip-ons.  For my money, I recommend Cole Haan sneakers, especially these with the gold and leopard accents.

As for how to style the look, I prefer the Kate Middleton — the polo with the fitted jacket over it.  Depending on your work, you might need a blazer or a jean jacket might work.  For denim, I would wear a white or dark jacket.  Need a blazer?  Go for a classic, fitted shape for that preppy vibe.  I like this Khloe blazer with a ruched sleeve for something different.

For more suggestions on how to wear polos, Practical Pip has some suggestions on how to wear a regular polo that may be useful to you.  It’s a longer video, but there are some tips regarding pant styles, accessories, and the like.

Belle,

I’ve reached the age where everyone I know is buying a house. Can you give me an idea for a housewarming gift under-$50?  I’m looking for something small that I could stock in a closet and then take to friends’ homes when I stop by for a party or wine.  I hate being caught without a gift the first time I visit a friend’s new home.

Sincerely, Kirsten

A match striker is one of my go-to housewarming gifts.  Almost everyone can use one, so it has utility.  And it looks nice sitting on a coffee table.

This Farmhouse Pottery one is popular.  Anthropologie stocks this match cloche in a tall and short size (the long matches in the tall side are cool).  They also stock this colorful cement striker.

Along these same lines, an electric lighter is also a good gift.  This is the one I own.

Hi Abra,

First, thank you for all of the effort that you put into this blog.  It is one of my favorites.  Second, I have a style question for you.  I am taking my two girls (13 and 8) to the Taylor Swift concert in Seattle in late July.  I have no idea what to wear.  I’d like to look stylish, but not like a 43 year old mom trying too hard. 

Suggestions appreciated! Megan

Some long time readers may recall the early days of this blog when I was very hard on style choices that I felt were inappropriate.  Unreasonably hard.  But in the wisdom of my middle-aged years, I have softened my position on “faux pas” attire in certain circumstances, and one of them is concert attire.  Why?  Because concerts are supposed to be fun; so why not wear a costume-like outfit and add to the experience?

That being said, I have seen a lot of Instagram content about Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour and the accompanying attire for women and kids.  Some outfits looked nicer than others.  Here are some suggestions based on the nice ones I’ve seen.

First, let me say this is not a concert where you want to wear a romper.  The bathroom lines are the stuff of legend.  So leave the romper at home.

Second, bright colors are a great way to have fun while choosing something appropriate for a woman over age 29.  This Ted Baker top would like nice.  If you’re going to be outside, you want a cotton top like this bright pink top or this pink and green floral.  I also like this eyelet yellow top and this green-floral peplum top.  Want a dress?  Try this smocked cobalt dress or this gauze dresses in several bright colors.

Third, speaking of dresses, this is the time for a knee-length or almost knee-length dress.  Why?  A mini dress can be tough to sit in, climb stairs in, etc.  A maxi can get dirty, hot, or just generally get in the way.  If I were going to Eras, I would choose a cotton mid-length dress like this M&S Tiered Dress or this midi t-shirt dress.

Fourth, by second outfit option would be a comfortable pair of shorts with a button up top.  These chambray shorts give you the look of denim with the feel of athletic wear.  As for the top, I would choose this rainbow stripe gauze option and add a pink earring for something fun.

Fifth, if you want to wear a basic outfit, you can find a lot of T-Swift gear on Etsy.  This Lover tee is popular.  Then, add a fun earring or a cool hair accessory.  You and your girls could wear the same accessories for a fun twinning moment.

Lastly, if you are going to be indoors and want to go all out, this sequin dress or this pink wrap dress is a nice choice.  I also like these gold shorts or these sequin shorts.  Or if you want to break my first guideline, this Broderie lace romper is adorable, but problematic on a bathroom trip.

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  1. HW says:

    I second the electric lighter! I have this one in silver (https://www.amazon.com/USB-Lighter-Company-Electric-Rechargeable/dp/B093RBRBB7), and it looks so sleek.

  2. Colleen says:

    I absolutely love how practical these questions are today. For the person working an expo booth, I just want to share that compression knee highs can be awesome if you work your pants so that you can’t see much of them. Standing all day in any shoe is no joke.

  3. LC says:

    I went to the Taylor Swift concert and was comfortable wearing a sequin jacket over a colorful pink/purple dress, with white sneakers. I could always reuse these items for other occasions.

  4. A says:

    For what it’s worth, I went to Eras in Philly and the only time bathrooms were really a problem was when we first entered. Leaving during the show was no prob at all, and my friend wore a jumpsuit. That could also be venue specific. Also for whatever it’s worth, everyone was wearing sequins, feathers, tulle, etc regardless of age, so if this is your chance to wear something ridiculous, I think you’ll have the full support of your fellow concert goers!

  5. Erica says:

    My go-to house warming gift is a self-inking return label address stamp. It’s in your under-$50 range, is unique, and useful…especially if the recipient sends holiday cards annually!

  6. Megan says:

    Excellent suggestions for the Taylor Swift concert. Thanks for taking the time to answer my question!

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