Ask the Editor: Vol. IV, No. Twelve

Aug 3, 2023

From work bags to attire for a conference in Florida, this week’s mailbag was full of good questions.  So let’s get started!

Hi Abra,

I know you’ve posted before about your favorite carry on bags for a laptop, etc. But I don’t recall the brand.  Was it Lo & Sons?  Thank you and have a good trip!

Kim

When I started with the Legislature in 2019, I bought a beautiful leather bag to take to work.  But my office was on the fourth floor of a building where the elevators were always jammed in the morning, and carrying that leather bag up four flights of stairs nearly broke me emotionally.

Now, I keep a selection of non-leather bags.  My every day bag is the Lo & Sons OG 2.0.  This bag holds everything you need, plus you can absolutely beat the holy, living s**t out of this thing, and it will show no wear.  ZERO WEAR.  I have tossed mine about since 2019 and it still looks new.

Second, I keep a CALPAK Haven Leather look tote for when I want the look of leather without all of the heft.  It’s still a little heavy but it won’t break my shoulder.  And lastly, I have a Dagne Dover coated canvas Signature Tote (currently $69 off).  I like this bag because it just looks like a big purse.  I carried one through all of law school and through hundreds of classes and thousands of flights of stairs, I never had an issue.

Still want leather?  Don’t buy from Nordstrom or Bloomingdale’s.  Hit the Coach Outlet and the Kate Spade sale section or their Surprise Site.

Belle,

Can you help me find a gift for my intern?  She’s a little older than a regular intern (26) because she just came out of the military.  My boss and I are at a loss about what to get her.  She has already secured a job at State when she leaves.  We want to spend about $100-$125 because we’re all chipping in.

Sincerely, Leesa

Never underestimate the power of buying your intern a gift.  I still have the eagle bookends that my LD bought from the staff gift shop in the House.  Also, bookends are a surprisingly useful gift.  These marble ones are nice.  They’re not very personal, but it’s one of those things you can put in your next office to spruce the place up a bit.

Another great option is a leather pad folio.  If you’re in the House/Senate, Exec, etc. think about getting one with the seal on it.  It’s a nice thing.  If you want something else, I love Mark & Graham for these types of professional leather goods.  Their Commute Clutch is on deep sale right now, and it’s the perfect thing for a staffer who goes from meeting to meeting and needs essentials but doesn’t want to carry a bag.  If she uses an iPad or other tech gear, try this one.

Lastly, I have a refillable leather notepad that has gone with me to every job since 2017.  I love this thing.  

From the DMs:

One quick question, do you have a favorite acne treatment?  Mine is on fire and my regular serum is not tackling this breakout.

KL

No acne product I have ever used has worked better than the Dr. Jart sheet masks.  I put one on before bed, smear the leftover product into my skin once I’m done, and I wake up with smaller pores, smaller blemishes, clearer skin, and far less redness.  They’re $12 each, but worth every penny.

Hi Abra!

What would you recommend wearing to a legal conference in Florida in late summer where I have to speak on a panel during the day and entertain clients at a dinner in the evening? I’m tired of always doing the same boring black business suit outfit.

Thanks for your help!

If this were me, I would have outfits for my non-panel days and then a panel outfit.  My non-panel uniform would be a printed wrap dress and a white blazer.  I’ve been buying a lot of printed wrap dresses from Poshmark lately because my post-baby body is still here and it needs them.

And speaking of white blazers, my ivory Captain’s blazer from BR is currently on sale. This is a MUST BUY situation, and you know I’m not usually that blogger, but I have worn mine 1,000x rounding down.  Also comes in petite and tall, runs up to size 18.

For panel day, I would have a red or cobalt dress.  This is impact time.  Go shine!  If those colors are a bit bold for you a wine or dark green are also nice.

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  1. Danielle says:

    Hi Abra! What size of the Lo & Sons bag do you have? They offer both a medium and a large size. I’ve been debating buying one for years and I think I’m ready to go for it. Thank you so much!

    • Belle says:

      I have owned both the OMG and the OG. They were both big enough for work and travel needs. It just depends on how much “extra” space you want. The OMG is full once I put all my work-travel stuff in it. The OG still has room for a CVS run and a small container of takeout.

  2. Judy says:

    Will that large OG 2.0 bag fit my 15/16″ laptop? The website says it won’t but I am just curious what size yours is.

    • Belle says:

      I have a 13″, when my work laptop was 16″ I still used it, but I turned it vertical. The drop on the strap gave me enough room I could still sling it over my shoulders. But I could not zip the laptop compartment.

  3. Samantha says:

    I receive the M&G commuter clutch for Christmas and it is such a solid gift. It’s a great quality and perfect for quick errands/throw in a bag. Highly recommend!

  4. Mo says:

    Hi Abra, I previously ordered a captain’s blazer on your rec. Would love ideas of what to wear under it (on top) when I wear jeans on the bottom.Very casual tech company office but work in Legal so trying to walk that balance.Thank you!

  5. Judy says:

    I ordered that white BR blazer since you have mentioned it so many times. This may be a very silly question, but what do you typically wear it with? What blouses underneath and what color pants (or mainly with dresses)?

  6. Melissa says:

    For the letter-writer speaking on a panel, if I may – as someone who works with speakers, definitely go with the impact color, but I recommend considering pants. You’re typically on a stage (elevated), and all of it can get awkward quickly. Club chairs aren’t as bad, but barstool height seats are worse. It’s not always as fun, but I think pants are the way to go – great blouse/jacket, pants, great shoes. Also recommend crossing your legs at the ankles vs the knees. Good luck!

  7. Sheri says:

    Another gift option for your intern might be a piece of art (framed item, sculpture, etc.) that will work as office decor. Bonus points if you can find something that represents your work together.

    I am in my 50s in a senior communications role, and I still have a nicely framed b&w poster for a book I edited as a publishing intern in the late ’90s. Everyone I worked with signed the back of the poster with well-wishes. I’ve moved it from office to office through my whole career–these days it reminds me of senior colleagues, now retired, who had confidence in me.

    If you decide to go for leather goods, Levenger has nice options.

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