Style + Ask the Edit

Ask the Edit: Vol. V, No. Eight

Work separates instead of suits, a Great Gatsby wedding, at-home manicure tips and more on today’s Ask the Edit.


I’m realizing that I should probably have something resembling a suit in my closet, even though I rarely need to dress that formally. I’d like to be able to mix and match items, like dresses, pants & tops, blazers, to resemble a suit. Any tips

– Robyn 

I would recommend buying a suit.  If there is any chance you’ll need one, you should have one.  But let’s say your committed to mixing separates…

You need to choose a color palette — navy, grey, brown, black.  I always choose black because I prefer it.  This way all of your pieces will coordinate.  Look at the tops and blouses you already own and choose your separates accordingly.

Lastly, don’t try to coordinate a blazer with a skirt or pants of the same color that aren’t a suit.  You may not notice in your closet, but slight variations in color and fabric can make separates that aren’t a suit look weird together.  It’s easier to coordinate intentionally different textures and colors.  Here are three examples.

Outfit 1: Black trousers + black blouse + white-and-black tweed blazer. (Tweed is an essential for blending pieces.  It goes with everything (except more tweed) without looking too matchy.)

Outfit 2: Light grey dress + dark grey blazer.  (Mix tones of a single color for a chic look.)

Outfit 3: Navy skirt + blush blouse + blush jacket.

Hi Belle,

Can you or the readers suggest a washable dupe for these pants in black?

Love Theory, love the slim full-length fit of these, love the stretch fabric; cannot do dry-clean only.

Thanks! Lora

The closest pair I found were these WHBM pants.  Also in plus and petite.  And in rainforest green, which I think I need now.

Hi Belle,

A friend of mine has a Great Gatsby-themed wedding coming up and has asked the guests to join in with themed attire. I’m just wondering, how can I join in the fun without looking like I’m wearing a costume? Any ideas?

Thanks, Ashley

One option struck me: a satin gown in a classic color with the right accessories.

I think a satin slip gown is a nice homage to the flapper era without the sequins.  This Halston dress and this chili-colored Off5th dress caught my eye.  Add a faux-fur stole or a caplet for extra jazz.

If you’re not feeling the stole, a headpiece would be a nice addition.  This $10 jewel-rhinestone piece if great.  This rhinestone option from Etsy is also nice.  Want to go all in?  This flapper headpiece with feathers is fun.

Other little details include a dramatic minaudière clutch or a jeweled shoe.

Hi Abra,

You mentioned you paint your own nails, how do you treat your cuticles?  I’d like to start doing my own manis and pedis, but I’m not sure how to get the salon look.

Thanks, Georgia

Essie Cuticle Oil is an affordable product that you brush on to heal and keep your cuticles looking great.  If you want to focus on removal, Orly Cutique will remove cuticles and stains.  Instead of a scissor, I prefer to just nudge my cuticles out of the way with this cuticle stick.  This YouTube video can teach you how to do a killer at home manicure.

I’m looking for a trench coat for spring. I looked back at your posts from the past but the ones I loved were all sold out, and ASOS is pretty picked over. Can’t decide between a classic tan or a black. Looking around the $100 price point. Any suggestions?

– Amber 

For black, this BB Dakota trench looks like a winner.  This NY & Co. trench has a classic design that will go with anything.  But the look of this JCPenney (I know, right?!) trench was the best.

For classic tan, H&M makes a classic trench. If you love in a wet climate, this water resistant Calvin Klein is worth a look.  The best construction in this price point likely comes from this ASOS coat from Vila, which is fully lined.

Hi Abra,

I need a new pair of wide leg jeans.  I know, I’m the last one wearing non-skinny jeans.  They don’t have to be really wide, just something beyond slim and more even than bootcut.  Thanks.


I keep hearing rumors that wider leg openings are coming back, but the promises don’t fully materialize.  Skinny jeans are fine, but I’d like a bit more variety in my wardrobe.

NYDJ has a nice trouser jean (also in plus-size).  7 for All Mankind makes a wonderful wide leg called the Dojo, which has been my favorite for years.  If you’re looking for affordable denim, my secret spot is  It’s a bit of an Easter Egg hunt, but it’s worth it.



  1. Jae says:

    @Lora- keep the dry-clean only pants you love and just use Dryel in-home dry cleaner sheets instead of taking things to the dry cleaner. I’ve been using them for 10+ years and have never damaged anything. $10 allows you to clean up to 40 pieces. It’s like magic.

    February 21, 2018/Reply
    • Melissa says:

      I’m curious about these – do they actually clean (like remove stains/spot, de-grunge armpits) or are they more of a light refresher?

      February 21, 2018/Reply
  2. MOnica T says:

    I like the Paige Skyline Straight for my non-skinny jeans. They run long for someone who only wears flats, but after being hemmed look long and lean and just the right amount of wide. They look great over regular boots where there is no tucking in happening.

    February 21, 2018/Reply
  3. Christina says:

    For the Great Gatsby wedding – totally understand not wanting to be costume-ey. But if you do decide to go a more literal route, Amazon has a bunch of really inexpensive options that are very well reviewed. A coworker bought one of these to wear for a themed party and was pleased with the quality for the price. Just search “flapper dress” and you’ll get a bunch of different options. Could be a good in a pinch if you don’t find something you love and would want to wear again.

    February 21, 2018/Reply
  4. Jill says:

    For the black washable pants, I have a NYDJ pair from a couple of seasons ago at Nordstrom. Maybe they still make a version. Not too expensive and Nordstrom hemmed them. Comfortable and wash beautifully.

    February 21, 2018/Reply
  5. Kellie says:

    I can’t stand the trend of Gatsby-themed anything. Has anyone ever actually read the book? The whole thing is a manifesto against the hedonism of the Jazz Age.

    February 22, 2018/Reply
    • J says:

      Thank you. Perplexed and alarmed by how such a somber warning has become ubiquitously trendy.

      February 22, 2018/Reply
  6. LTH says:

    @Lora – I have the pants linked below and am AMAZED at how well they behave. Machine washable, resilient, immune to wrinkles, and truly flattering. I found the petites too short and the regular too long, but Nordstrom does hemming for free. These are my go-to work pant. I turn them inside out, use Abra’s vodka/water spray bottle technique to refresh between washes and minimize fading.

    February 22, 2018/Reply
  7. BN says:

    I love the Essie cuticle oil but what process do you use? Meaning, when I put it on, it’s very wet and takes a very long time to absorb, so I’m basically stuck for quite a while w/o the ability to do anything with my hand. The practical result is that I rarely use it. Thoughts on how to get more out of it?

    February 22, 2018/Reply