Style + Ask the Edit

Ask the Edit: Vol. V, No. 19

Eye creams, spring cardigans, intern attire, and more.  You asked, I answered.  Remember to submit your questions to capitolhillstyle (at) gmail.com.  (Yes, still rocking the vintage address.)

Hi Abra,

I’m looking for a 3/4 sleeve lightweight button up cardigan in pure red (not orangey red or pinkish red). Something similar to the Nordstrom Halogen cardigan, which unfortunately does not come in red. Thanks!

– Christine 

Yes, the Halogen cardigan is one of the best.  The only true red, 3/4 cardigan I could find is this Susina cardi for $20 at Nordstrom Rack.  Talbot’s also makes a true red but not in 3/4.

Hello Abra,

I’m getting married in July and I’m really struggling with bridesmaids gifts. I’m lucky to know these seven amazing ladies who are dear friends and sisters, and come from dramatically walks of life (we’re talking fancypants lawyers to globetrotting bloggers living out of a backpack). We’re in our 30’s, so everyone has meaningful jewelry they already wear regularly. What is something you would like as a bridesmaids gift? We’re getting married in San Francisco, so I am planning to include a nice wrap to coordinate with their dresses, unless you think that look is too old fashioned? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 

N

A nice wrap is a good gift.  Just choose something in a neutral hue that they could wear again.

The best gifts I’ve heard of friends giving are gifts that are useful and beautiful.  For example, a great canvas beach bag/leather tote is a good gift. You could go as simple as Land’s End or as expensive as Everlane’s Day totes.  You can have them personalized or not.  I prefer not, since I’m not all about a monogram, but some ladies are into it.

Also, jewelry boxes or travel pouches make good gifts.  This Pottery Barn jewelry box comes highly recommended.  These Graphic Image pouches are nice.  I also like Mark & Graham’s oversized pouch and tech envelope.

Hi Abra,

Can you recommend a good eye cream?  I’m Asian, so I don’t need a lot of face products at 32, but my Mom is insistent I use eye cream.

TW

I don’t use an eye cream myself.  Too many okay ones that didn’t live up to the hype long term.  I do use these eye Wander gold eye masks after a long week or a sleepless night.  But besides that, just a good moisturizer.

We just had this conversation in our Facebook community group, and I know a lot of the readers had suggestions.  So if you haven’t joined us yet, now might be the time.  The group usually has pretty awesome suggestions.

Oh, and I always wear sunglasses and get my eyes checked regularly.  Squinters get eye wrinkles.  Remember that.

Abra,

I travel frequently for work for meetings and events. I’m in search of dresses that are a shift or a-line silhouette yet still professional looking so I can be a little more comfy on planes and trains when traveling and going straight to meetings. Nothing worse than being in tight pencil skirts for long flights! Any ideas?

– Annie 

Pencil skirts on airplanes, ugh.  I don’t even want to think about the wrinkles.

This Karen Kane a-line dress is a good choice.  I also like this Brooks Brothers ponte dress with a scallop trim.  This Banana Republic ponte shift is also a good choice.  Plus-size?  Try this ABS a-line dress in black or this green Eliza J dress.

If you have a bit of money to spend, MM Lafleur has some great options.  I like this Pauline Dress and this Ellis dress are both good choices.  Their Georgia dress is also a summer go-to for me; it could not be more forgiving.

Hello,

As a future hill intern I feel like I have a million questions for you, but here are two to start.

How do you feel about sweater blazers? They seem to be the perfect hybrid between blazer and cardigan but I rarely see them mentioned?

Also, specific to the hill, who pays for coffee when you ask someone (higher up) to get coffee with you? Is it the younger person because they asked? Or do they pay separately because the intern is young and probably poor?

Thanks so much! – jane 

Let’s take these questions one at a time.

There are some nice options.  I like this J.Crew Factory cardigan in beige.  But a sweater blazer feels like a half-measure between a blazer and a nice cardigan.  I would rather see someone in a relaxed blazer like this  Express boyfriend blazer or in a great, drape cardigan than a sweater blazer.  But if it works for you and your wardrobe, it’s not wrong, just not my preference.

As for coffee, if you invite a senior person and this is a networking session, you should offer even though 99% of the time they say no thanks and pay separately or cover yours.  If it’s just an afternoon, “Hey, let’s get a coffee,” then expect to pay separately, no need to offer.  If they offer to pay for yours and the offer seems sincere, let them.  People bought us coffee when we were broke interns and we are happy to pass on that kindness when we can afford it.

LEAVE A COMMENT

    18 comments

  1. Niki says:

    For N and her bridesmaids . . . I would pick out something small but meaningful for each of them. There isn’t going to be a one-size-fits all gift that will be useful for everyone and, as someone who hates stuff for stuff’s sake and is trying to get rid of stuff, I would not even want a bridesmaid gift. It doesn’t have to be expensive – the best gifts are the ones that show you truly know the person and what they want/like as opposed to a one-size-fits all gift. I imagine that your backpacking across the world friend doesn’t want something else to carry around!

    April 30, 2018/Reply
  2. Jean says:

    The best bridesmaid gift I’ve ever received is when the bride helps pay for the cost of the day. If you can cover hair, make-up, nails, or shoes (especially if it’s something you are requiring your bridesmaids to do/wear) I think that is much more appreciated then a gift.

    April 30, 2018/Reply
  3. Laura says:

    On the bridesmaid gift issue (with the street cred of having gotten married last year), I’d suggest paying for their hair and makeup, or treating everyone to a manicure/pedicure or a pre-wedding massage.. Almost all ladies love to be pampered.

    April 30, 2018/Reply
  4. Eleni says:

    The best bridesmaid/MOH gift I received was the bride treated for a mani/pedi, hair, and makeup for the wedding day. Such a nice treat!!

    April 30, 2018/Reply
  5. Christina says:

    For the bride-to-be, my advice would be to free yourself of trying to find a gift that works for everyone and to just buy individual gifts at the same price point. I found it much more fun to shop for individual gifts, and I was excited for my friends to open each thing that I thought they’d really like.

    April 30, 2018/Reply
  6. Allison says:

    A friend of mine bought all of YSL lipstick as a bridesmaid’s gift, I loved it. We each had a shade that worked for us and each was different. (Helps that my friend group is very diverse I guess.) She just went through our facebook profiles with the woman at the beauty counter, who recommended colors. I agree with the comments on hair and makeup. I think a personalized gift is a nice idea, but I was stressed out of my mind with planning a wedding and picking out four perfect individual gifts was too much. I got my bridesmaid’s some elegant Kate Spade studs (Pearls with a gold woven rope like halo) that they could wear with their dresses, my one mistake was not buying myself a pair! I love them and when I see them wearing them now (was married three years ago) I get envious, haha.

    April 30, 2018/Reply
  7. Meghan says:

    Just want to add to the chorus about treating your girls to something as part of their expenses for the day– mani/pedis, hair, makeup, etc. My best friend did this for us, and I really appreciated it. Still my favorite bridesmaid gift I’ve received!

    April 30, 2018/Reply
  8. Colleen says:

    The best bridesmaid’s gift I ever received was the gift of professional hair and make-up services on the day of the wedding. I think this works especially well if bridesmaids are not local to the wedding venue. It’s one less thing for them to worry about prepping for or packing on their return trips.

    April 30, 2018/Reply
  9. Julia Leonard says:

    For Annie the globetrotter –

    Several years ago my mother bought me a quick-dry “travel dress” from REI, of all places. I laughed at the time, but it has become a regular part of my work wardrobe, not just on travel days. It’s just a little grey sheath with a cowl neck.. I don’t think they sell that exact dress anymore but something like this: https://www.rei.com/rei-garage/product/133444/royal-robbins-metro-melange-shift-dress.

    Might not work for formal meetings, but if you can go with business casual, it’s a great way to be comfy and avoid wrinkles, stains and the other headaches of airline travel.

    April 30, 2018/Reply
  10. Jules says:

    I agree with Jean below about paying for the expenses. I did not give my bridesmaid a ‘gift’ per se (and I never received one when I was a BM)
    But i paid for all their lodging for the week and their hair and makeup. They were infinitely grateful since they all had to travel far for my wedding. We also gave out funny custom trucker hats as party favors and many of our guests still wear them, 6 years later 🙂

    April 30, 2018/Reply
  11. Kay says:

    For Annie the Globetrotter,

    I also travel a lot for work and far, and sadly more than once I have landed after delayed flights and had to head directly to meetings. Nothing like three continents and 40 hours of travel to make you feel haggard and gross. I know you asked for skirts and dresses, I typically don’t travel in those because I get way too cold on planes and hate my skin touching the seats. But I am slightly obsessed with two different travel pants and wanted to share.

    The first is for long flights I wear teh Athleta La Viva Pants, they don’t actually tie at the ankle and the tie at the top isn’t noticeable. I wear them because they look nice, especially if you happen to run into a colleague in the airport, yet are comfortable. I wear them with a plain t-shirt, nice cardigan/light jacket, and scarf (summer or winter). It looks nice without also being totally impractical for 20 plus hours of flying.

    https://athleta.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=1089603&pcid=1067743&vid=1&pid=964562012

    If it’s a shorter fligh, and I am headed into a meeting quickly I stick with the Foster Pants from MMlaFleur. They are literally the best thing for traveling work pants. Again I also carry an extra top, a t-shirt for the plain, something nicer for the meeting. I also wear the Deneuve top a lot off the plane. It travels easily, isn’t too heavy if you are going someplace warm, yet still covers you if you are in a freezing plane.

    https://mmlafleur.com/shop/foster-black
    https://mmlafleur.com/shop/deneuve-cream

    April 30, 2018/Reply
  12. raq says:

    The best bridesmaid gifts I have received were unexpectedly paying for hair/makeup, kate spade simple stud earrings, and along the lines of Belle’s suggestion- a Medium LL Bean tote with extra long handles that I use ALL THE TIME

    April 30, 2018/Reply
  13. IRMCK says:

    We couldn’t afford to pay for everyone’s hair and makeup on the day (and most of my ladies did their own). I got everyone different LL Bean canvas bags, customized to suit their taste. I also got them all different pearl earrings, again to suit their taste. My college roommate who live in Manhattan liked much different things from my friends in law school. It was honestly just easier, not to mention more fun, to think of them as individuals than as a group.

    April 30, 2018/Reply
  14. Janine says:

    I’d add that Lands’ End ponte dresses are comfortable and fairly professional, particularly if you throw a blazer on. I haven’t travelled in one, but they don’t wrinkle much.

    April 30, 2018/Reply
  15. Chloe says:

    For the bridesmaids – I had 7 as well and I got a mix of silver earrings (plus a necklace for my MOH) that I picked especially based on their tastes (more extravagant vs my friend who only has two pairs of earrings, etc.) They were from this shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/balance9?ref=l2-shopheader-name. LOVED the quality. I agree with personalized gifts, but with a twist! I did these, and then wine glasses (we were all late 20s when I got married, plus my sister was early 30s) that I had something fun put on them like a palm tree for my beach-loving friend or music notes for my friend who used to jam out with me to boy bands when we were younger … and I got kimono robes (ordered them super early from Amazon for a steal…just took two months!). Spent about $50 per bridesmaid I think. I veered from anything that had our wedding date on it … great day for everyone, but it felt weird giving them something with our wedding date or wedding hashtag or whatever on it past the day. Personal opinion 🙂 Good luck!

    April 30, 2018/Reply
  16. J says:

    Bridesmaid gifts: As a bridesmaid, I always appreciate getting treated to hair and /or makeup, but I really recommend at least a small, tangible gift that can be used semi-regularly. It’s nice wear a pair of earrings, use a mug, or wear a robe and think of my friends and their weddings. Also, something that can get overlooked in the craziness is heartfelt cards. My typically reserved best friend wrote me a beautiful card about how much she valued our friendship and it meant so much!

    Sweater blazers: I hate jackets and only ever wear them to court. But my two sense is, when you need to be in a jacket, you need to be in a jacket. Any other time a cardigan works. There are a few times where you can fudge it a little, but only after you’ve really gotten to know an office.

    Coffee:It’s been a while since I’ve been on the hill. so someone please correct me if I’m wrong. Agree with the advice above with one addition. When I ask someone junior to me for coffee and plan to pay, I generally order first and when I’m asked if I want anything else, I’ll motion to the co-worker and say “whatever she’s having” and then once the other person orders I just pay. Definitely affirmatively offer if you’ve asked someone to a networking type coffee, but if someone asks you, just let them order first and they’ll either offer or they won’t and it’s not awkward.

    April 30, 2018/Reply
  17. Cait says:

    There’s so many awesome bridesmaid recommendations here already but to throw one more in – I love gifting and receiving silver compacts, they are something most people wouldn’t buy themselves, easy to pack to take home and they will always remember where they came from. Kate Spade has some cute options for about $30 each.

    May 1, 2018/Reply
  18. Mary G. says:

    Re: Bridesmaid gifts – not sure of your budget, but the Cuyana travel pouches are always a winner, and you can personalize them.

    https://www.cuyana.com/leather-travel-case-set.html#ecru

    May 1, 2018/Reply