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Q. I’m looking for a designer, rather large/roomy tote to carry around for school. The hard part is that I really want a zipper wall that goes down the middle inside the bag so my books/binders can stand upright and not fall over and also to separate my wallet/makeup-bag from my books. I have searched furiously online with barely any luck. My price range is up to $450 I would say. Any suggestions!?

A. This proved to be tougher than we thought! Here are three chic options that contain the center zip compartment you’re looking for. And if any of our readers have other suggestions, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

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LeSportsac Lexie Tech Tote

$120 at shopbop.com

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Hayden-Harnett Catalina Slouchy Laptop Brief

$473 at haydenharnett.com

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Lodis Accessories Milano Tote With Laptop Pocket

$279 at zappos.com


Q. I’ve got a bit of a style conundrum. Every style “guru” I’ve read recommends adding a belt to make a waist appear thinner or more shapely. How do I do that if I’m built like Jennifer Lopez? Without a full skirt, the belt just highlights the prominence of my bum, which is not something that I’ve ever wanted to do. I’m tired of always wearing a full top (babydolls, men’s oxfords, tunics) with wide leg jeans or capris. I’d like to be cute once in a while. Any ideas?

A. Belts may be a huge trend this season, but that doesn’t mean they are for everyone. Cinching your waist tends to accentuate your bust, hips and rear - something not all of us are interested in. Women that are thick in the middle or short-waisted may also have trouble finding a flattering way to wear a belt. There are a few tricks, however, to wear a belt without drawing too much attention to your JLo-esque assets:

  • A thick belt draws more attention to your waist and anything above or below it (your bust and hips/rear); try wearing a skinny belt worn at your natural waist instead. (#4 below)
  • Look for a belt that is a similar color to your clothing (#2 below)
  • Look for a top that provides balance to your bum: a blousy shirt with a wide open collar, a boat neck top, etc. Try belting the top and letting it drape over your hips instead of tucking in the top and belting your pants. (#1 and #2 below)
  • Wear a slim-fitting top with a belted full skirt to camouflage your rear (#6 below)
  • Look for drapey dresses belted slightly higher than your natural waist (#3 below)
  • Try wearing your belt hip-slung (#5 below)

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1. Lafayette 148 New York Stretch Cotton Geri Blouse, $328 at saks.com
2. Madison Marcus Silk Lunar Top, $245 at saks.com
3. Sleeveless silk ruched dress, $148 at bananarepublic.com
4. Ribbed shawl cardigan, $89 at bananarepublic.com
5. Ribbed cardigan & wide-leg jean at bananarepublic.com
6. Belted high-waist skirt, $48 at gap.com
Q. I am loving this season’s focus on belts but I am having a lot of trouble adding this stylish detail to my wardrobe. I see beautiful belts everywhere I shop but the small is always too large to fit around my 27” waist. The petite stores near me seem to only carry ‘mom-style’ utilitarian belts. I want to wear patent leather and double-wrap belts too!! Can you suggest a store or online sites that have stylish belts for smaller waists?

A. It wasn’t easy, but we found a slew of belts to suit your small waist (see below). If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, you can always bring a size XS or S belt to a shoemaker and ask him to add an extra hole for you. Or look for Ring style belts that don’t have any holes at all and are easy to adjust.

Q. I recently bought a pair of really cute yellow flats on a whim, but now they’re collecting dust inside my closet because I can’t find anything to wear with them. Could you recommend something?

Q. I recently received a cute Italian leather purse, which I love…the problem is, it’s yellow. I’ve tried to add it to outfits, but always end up leaving it behind for something less vibrant. What can I wear with it this summer and can I carry it into fall as well?

yellowbag.pngA. Kudos to both of you for choosing yellow accessories, one of our favorite looks this summer! Whether it’s a pair of yellow shoes or a yellow handbag, you can wear it with so much more than you might think (just not together please - matching yellow shoes and handbags are just too much!) For the most part, you can wear yellow with pretty much anything - navy, denim, white, brown, red, orange and sometimes even black.

Check out some of the looks on these pages for some examples of accessorizing with yellow:


As you can see, we’re really loving yellow this season. And the best part? You can wear your yellow shoes and handbags through the fall.
Q. I am looking for a stylish, sturdy bag to carry my laptop and paperwork as I trek from one meeting to another. I want something that’s not your basic black briefcase, but that is large and sturdy enough for everyday use for a long time.

-Bag Lady


A. Laptop bags aren’t necessarily the most stylish bags to carry everyday, but I did find big enough handbags that would carry and still protect your laptop plus specific bags built to carry your computer. Plus, these bags will carry all of your other essentials as well. I’ve categorized big bag and laptop bag, now you choose.

Big enough to carry your laptop and daily essentials:

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1. Foley + Corinna Glazed Jet Setter Jr Tote, $528 at shopbop.com
2. Rebecca Minkoff Market Tote with Scarf, $675 at shopbop.com
3. Jill Stuart Handbags Noho Victoria Tote, $402 at shopbop.com
4. Tory Burch Embossed Lux T Jordana Tote, $495 at shopbop.com

Bags with specific interior pocket to hold your computer:
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1. Knomo Josselin, $299 at zappos.com
2. Knomo Toyah, $254 at zappos.com
3. Nine West Laptop Tote, $99 at ninewest.com
4. Francesco Biasia ‘Nika’ Laptop Satchel, $538 at nordstrom.com
5. cinda b Takin’ Care of Business, $96 at ebags.com

Target also has a nice selection of laptop bags at affordable prices:
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1. Mango Tango Quilted Faux Suede Laptop Bag, $44.99
2. Mango Tango Canvas Stripe Laptop Bag, $39.99
3. Mango Tango Faux Croc Laptop Bag, $47.99
4. Mango Tango Faux Leather Quilt-Lined Laptop Carrying Case, $59.99
5. Isaac Mizrahi for Target® Notebook Computer Tote, $39.99

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