Search Results for: label/ASOS Curve

Kudos to ASOS Curve!

Kellie at And I Get Dressed (if you’re not reading her blog, you should, she’s fabulous!) shared a fall preview of ASOS Curve and I love the collection on many levels. But my favorite part is that the collection isn’t obsessed with making the model look thin.

asos curve fall 2014

There’s nothing wrong with not being thin, and I’m getting really tired of every brand and fashion expert focusing on this. While more and more brands are offering plus sized fashion and more experts recognizing that women in double digit dress sizes enjoy fashion and desire style, the focus seems to be on how to make our curvy bodies look leaner instead of how to wear fun, fashionable and event-appropriate quality clothing.

asos curve fall winter 2014

No matter what direction the stripes or the length of our skirt, we’re moving, living women who deserve to have as much fun with the contents of our closet as our slimmer sisters. We shouldn’t be restricted to “figure flattering” styles when fashion, especially this year, is just so much fun. Cool silhouettes, references to past decades, use of drape and texture… we deserve to enjoy whatever trend we like!

asos curve fall preview 2014

There’s nothing wrong with choosing fashion that slims the figure, but it’s nice to have options to choose what you want to wear, not what society thinks you should.  So kudos to you ASOS Curve for showing on-trend fashion that focuses on style instead of just trying to whittle a waist or lengthen a line (or give up on us and put us in cheap polyester prints). I think I’ll be picking up a few pieces from your line to add fun to my wardrobe!

Fab Faux Furs from ASOS

Fur is on trend this year… and it disgusts me. I can’t believe that it’s 2014 and people are comfortable wearing new fur garments and that magazines (WTF latest issue of Lucky) are still promoting it. I think by now we are all too aware how fur coats are made, and thanks to technology and improvements in fabrics we don’t need to wear the pelt of an animal to protect ourselves from the elements. In fact, faux fur has come such a long way there’s no need for real fur to achieve fun and fabulous fashion.

When it comes to low-cost but high-fashion faux furs, ASOS is the site to visit. They always have the greatest ideas – fun pieces, on-trend details and colors, and looks that will stand out in a crowd. I love shopping ASOS – shipping is free on orders over $25, returns are super simple and free, and if you get on their email list you’re notified of their regular sales and promotions. And international readers – a company that ships to most of you! These are the fab faux at ASOS that stood out to me:

leopard faux coats under 200 asos

For the leopard fans, head thee to ASOS! Every year they come out with at least one covetable faux leopard and I love their choices this fall.

  1. This faux leopard fur coat from River Island is classic cool and a great length and cut that will flatter everything from jeans to trousers to skirts. $189.50.
  2. The stand collar of this faux leopard coat from Only gives a vintage vibe and ups the glam factor. I like that it’s a softer print, making it easier to dress up. $170.55
  3. This leopard faux fur coat from New Look is the type that looks so chic thrown over your casual weekend attire. Simple jeans and sweater? Not any more when it’s topped with this glam baby! $104.21
  4. The subtle leopard print on this fluffy faux fur coat from ASOS’ house brand is utterly adorable and the type that will still be fun to wear years from now. The oversized collar adds glamour and fits with its vintage vibe. $161.08

fur trends 2014 faux asis

My favorite look for faux fur this season is the use of color. While previous seasons had chubbies in candy colors, this year has brought stripes, colorblocking, and patchworks in rainbow hues. Ans as expected, ASOS delivers this trend.

  1. Oh this collarless faux fur is utterly badass, from the hook and eye closure to the boxy fit to that amazing color combination. While I love how they styled it over a casual look, imagine this over an LBD for the holiday season! $151.60
  2. Be Cruella without hurting a single puppy in this black and white striped faux fur from Story of Lola. Zoom in on the detail of this coat, the mixing of textures and you’ll fall in love. What a statement piece! $151.60
  3. I’ll admit, seeing this coat on the ASOS site is what inspired this post! What a fun mix of colors and textures, and the length adds drama. Pastels are so hot this year for winter, but the addition of gray makes it a piece that won’t be dated come 2015. $189.50
  4. Oh this vest is so cool and unique. I adore the unexpected color combination, the unusual print, and the clean lines. Pair over a leather jacket or sweater coat for winter warmth, or belt over a turtleneck dress for a chic day look. $123.18

faux fur coats plus petite vintage

Vintage-inspired faux are in style and are a look that will still be chic seasons from now. ASOS not only has vintage-inspired faux furs but actual vintages pieces for sale (and no they’re not insanely priced!).

  1. I adore this pale gray faux monkey fur jacket. It’s the perfect topper for all your holiday dresses, but don’t be afraid to pair with jeans and boots for a downtown cool look. $113.70
  2. This plush camel-toned faux fur from ASOS’ plus size line Curve has that vintage vibe that will always make it look chic. This would look amazing paired with a turtleneck, dark jeans and boots, or a camel and cream wool dress. $123.18
  3. Pink isn’t what you’d usually consider a neutral, but this blush oversized faux fur from River Island is the shade that will go with absolute everything and the vintage look and oversized shape means it will look as chic with jeans as it does with a cocktail dress. $189.50
  4. Some trends are harder to carry off when you’re petite, and faux furs are one of them. Luckily ASOS realizes this and offers this vintage coat just for us shorties. With shorter sleeves and a trim fit, it won’t overwhelm a petite frame and will look classic for many winters to come. $132.65

Gwynnie Bee: Helping Women Feel Like Princesses Every Day

I think you all know by now how much I adore Gwynnie Bee, which is like Netflix for fashion. Sizes 10 – 26, you choose a plan based upon how many pieces you want to have available at a time. Return an item, get another. You can keep any item for as long as you wish, and even now purchase pieces you don’t want to return. Free shipping, free returns, popular brands that flatter a woman’s curves and embrace current trends, and plenty of reviews from fellow clients to help you better pick the right pieces for your figure and lifestyle!

Gwynnie Bee makes me feel princess with a limitless closet. In honor of Gwynnie Bee’s one-year anniversary, Gwynnie Bee asked me and fellow DC blogger and Gwynnie Bee fan Lexa from Lemmonex to do a photo shoot in our fabulous city featuring some of our favorite fashions from the company. Again Gwynnie Bee made me feel like a princess, having a photographer follow us around DC capturing me and Lexa shopping, walking past our favorite haunts, even sipping a cocktail at a local bar.

Shopping at Violet Boutique:  
Lexa in the AX Paris Stud Cuff Dress, me in the Simply Be Beaded Tunic Dress

Window Shopping in the Nation’s Capital: 
Lexa in the Spense Bird Print Shirtdress and me in the ASOS Curve Shift Dress in Animal Print
Happy Hour at Smoke and Barrel:  
Me in the Simply Be Geometric Print Tunic (my petite self rocked it as a mini dress), Lexa in the ASOS Curve Peplum Top in Dog Tooth

Ready for a night out in DC:  
Me in the Coldwater Creek Lace Scroll Dress, Lexa in the Kiyonna 3/4 Sleeve Scalloped Boudoir Lace Dress

Girls Night in the City:  
Lexa in the Coldwater Creek Fluid Wrap Dress, me in the Simply Be Printed Sheath Dress

For more photos from the day, follow me on Facebook!

It’s fun to feel like a princess when you don’t have to spend royal prices. Gwynnie Bee lets you play with fashion without the financial risk – shake your tail feathers in snakeskin, party in a peplum, stand out in sequins, wear a new color or silhouette without having buyer’s remorse. Borrow a piece for a day… or two months. The choice is up to you!

If you’re not a member of Gwynnie Bee yet, what are you waiting for? Get your diva on, and right now get a nice offer in the process! To celebrate Gwynnie Bee’s anniversary, new members receive an extra one month one garment upgrade + 30 day free trial (valid until March 7th at midnight). If you are already a member, refer your friends with your personal referral link to earn free months of Gwynnie Bee! If you’re not a member, click on this link and say Wardrobe Oxygen referred you to get the great deal!
Note: I do receive a commission on all new subscriptions to Gwynnie Bee when my name or Wardrobe Oxygen is mentioned.  I was not compensated to do this post, though the photographer hired for this shoot was the talented and hot as heck Karl Gary.

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What I Wore: Tin Man

Jacket: ASOS (similar) | Tee: Old Navy | Jeans: Gap | Shoes: Bass “ELY-3″

It’s nice to take a break from heels every so often, but finding flats that fit is hard for me.  From years of toewalking, I have thick padding on the balls of my feet and high arches so my feet are… not really wide but tall/puffy.  My pinky toes fall out of most flats because they are so short, my feet don’t curve like most shoes so Chucks and loafers cause pain after a couple hours, and lace-ups are usually too streamlined and hurt the top of my feet.  I’ve tried on dozens of oxfords and brogues and none of them fit feet like mine.  So when I saw these shiny silver ones from G.H. Bass & Co I had to try them.  I’ve had luck with Bass shoes in the past, and was pretty excited that they had them in a finish that was more my style.  Finally, oxfords that fit!  They took a day to break in, but now they’re quite comfortable.  So comfortable, I think I have a new pair of concert shoes.  I’ve worn them to work peeking out from under a pair of trousers, but this more how I wear them on the weekends. I’m looking forward to wearing these in, while they’re fun now all shiny (Karl calls them my Tin Man shoes), I think they’ll look pretty great come spring weathered and worn.

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Ask Allie: Plus Size Retailers with Style

Hi Allie, I hope you can help. Where I live, there’s [well-known chain retailer that have plus sized clothing] but that’s it for plus size fashion other than Walmart and none of these stores have clothes I really like. I know you do a lot of shopping online, where do you suggest for plus size fashion where I can return by mail but also know what I get won’t be junk or ugly. Help! I really want to create my personal style and not be stuck with what is available.

I don’t know why retailers feel that women over a size 12 only want to wear polyester cabbage roses and bedazzled tunic sweaters. I understand that plus size fashion needs to be cut differently to flatter the figure, but why does that mean over the top embellishments, cheap fabrication, and dated silhouettes? Luckily some retailers realize this and offer fantastic fashion in extended sizes, and many of them have stellar online shops! Here’s some of my favorites:

Available in US sizes 10 – 22, ASOS Curve focuses on current trends cut specifically for plus size women. Not only that, they have free shipping and returns! Here you can find hot styles like peplums, leather, brocade, and faux fur and from my experience, the quality is equal or better than similarly-priced retailers (H&M, Urban Outfitters, Zara, Express). I love that their looks are flattering – not a muumuu or polyester cabbage rose in sight. ASOS Curve is a great resource for party dresses as they are youthful and on-trend while being reasonably priced.

Simply Be doesn’t have free shipping, but they do have a flat rate and provide SmartLabels for quick returns. But Simply Be is another great resource for on-trend plus size fashion. From faux leather pleated skirts and silver cropped pants to blazers; work attire, club attire, and dresses by Simply Be, you can find a varied collection of wardrobe staples and trendy closet additions.

This is not your mother’s Lands’ End – the retailer has stepped up their game by offering on-trend fabrics and styles and even brought Curvy Girl Guide founder and blogger Brittany Gibbons on board as an advisor.  While they have the wardrobe staples of turtlenecks and knit pants, Lands’ End also has some pretty fantastic dresses and career wear. Their quality can’t be beat, their customer service is phenomenal, and while returns aren’t free, they can be taken back to Sears.

Eloquii is the new kid on the block, the plus size line from The Limited.  It had mixed reviews from plus size bloggers at first, but they seem to be gaining steam with more consistent sizing and quality and I know some friends who have purchased from them and are mega fans.  Eloquii also provides SmartLabels for easy returns, though returns do need to be completed within 30 days.  For those who have an Eloquii store near them, they do accept online returns at retail locations.

If you read this blog, you KNOW I love Nordstrom. Free shipping, free returns, fabulous selection of brands, amazing sales and customer service. On top of all that, Nordstrom has a pretty great selection of plus size designers and styles! Vince Camuto, DKNYC, MICHAEL Michael Kors, Calvin Klein and more are available, and they also have extensive customer reviews to help ensure you find a piece that will fit your figure and lifestyle nicely.

I can’t rave enough about Gwynnie Bee – a program that is like Netflix for plus size fashion. For a reasonable monthly fee, you can borrow plus size clothing with free shipping and free returns. Keep a piece as long as you like, return one and get another back lickedy split. Gwynnie Bee’s selection is quite varied and continues to improve as the business grows; you can find everything from work dresses and blazers to leather jackets and sequined pencil skirts at Gwynnie Bee. I love that you can test-drive a trend – try a one-shoulder blouse or wrap dress and if you don’t like it, return it for something else! Right now Gwynnie Bee is offering one free month to Wardrobe Oxygen readers – click here to sign up (be sure to mention Wardrobe Oxygen), and click here to learn more about Gwynnie Bee.

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Focus on Blogger Fashion: Heart, Print & Style

Not until a little over a year ago, did I admit I was based out of Washington, DC (I used to have a pseudonym and just say I was somewhere on the Mid-Atlantic). Once I admitted my location, I decided to make an effort to get to know my fellow DC fashion bloggers. Thanks to the Capital Area Fashion and Beauty Bloggers, I have met so many fashionable bloggers in this city.

I met Vivi of Heart, Print & Style at one of my first blogger meetups, and immediately loved her fabulous sense of style, as well her sweet personality. On top of that, we realized we only live a couple miles from one another! Every time I visit Vivi’s blog or see her at an event, I am wowed by how she translates current trends to fit her figure and personality.

This holiday season, many of you have asked how to carry off hot trends, sequins, and sparkle when you are plus sized or have curves. I asked my friend Vivi to share some of her recent party looks, and how she makes popular trends work for her figure.

Vivi on Shopping:

“I have a love-hate relationship with shopping. I get excited about the task but once I get there, I lose interest immediately. Usually when I plan to shop, I already have in mind of what I want. Window shopping live, in person is not one of my favorite past time; I enjoy ‘window shopping’ online.”

“I can spend hours in a thrift store scouring for unique items. It’s a bit more exhilarating to shop there than at retail stores. You never know what you will find!”

“[My second favorite place to shop] is Old Navy. One main reason why I love the store so much is because their XXL tends to run a bit big. That is a HUGE plus (no pun intended) for me since I have a sizable chest and all my weight is distributed to my middle area. My favorite online retail store is ASOS. If you want to be ahead of the fashion curve in ANY size (regular, petite and plus size), ASOS is the place. Their accessories and bags/purses section is just amazing. And finally, ASOS has THE BEST clearance sale around. Regarding shoes, I shop at Avenue, Lane Bryant and a couple of online stores like Simply Be and Evans. Each store offers classic and trendy shoes for my 10WW feet. I buy all of my lingerie from Lane Bryant.”

Vivi on Making Trends Work for Her Figure:

“The best advice I’ve heard is to always know what works best for your body. Also, you must know your body type. Like for me, my body type is an apple: smaller on top and the bottom, bigger in the middle. I barely have any hips and my butt is non-existent. Because of this, I tend to gravitate toward items that I know will hide the middle area a bit more; blazers, cardigans, vests, jackets – anything that I can layer over a dress or a blouse. Speaking of dresses, I go for those that have a slight empire waist, not too form-fitting, and highlights my chest area (v-style or low u-style). If the dress is form fitting, I’ll layer it with a blazer, etc. If the dress is shapeless, I add a belt. Having small hips, I need to create an illusion of a hour glass figure and a belt accomplishes that. For bottoms (skirts, pants, jeans), it’s all about a high waist to prevent the dreaded ‘muffin top’.” 

“I am a lover of color and print. Color and prints can work for anybody, in any shape; the key is finding the item that can work best for your body. The same applies to the popular trends you see today – sequins, velvet, plaid, polka dots, bright pants, maxi skirts, mixing prints, etc. As long as you know your body type, you can definitely make it work!”

Thank you so much Vivi for sharing your personal style with us!  To learn more about Vivi of Heart, Print & Style please visit her blog; you can also find her online at:

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Ask Allie: Plus Size Rocker Chic

Allie, why does every retailer want fat girls to dress up like children or shower curtains? I am a size 20, 5’6” tall and 32 and I am sick to DEATH of every store being full of skater skirts covered in puppies or polyester shapeless dresses covered in Hawaiian flowers. I know that us bigger girls look good in vintage silhouettes but I feel like an idiot in a costume. Where can I shop for my personal style? I like hard rock, my husband rides a Harley, I work in a professional setting, I like martini bars as much as I like a dive bar. I want to be cool, I want to show my rock side, but I want to look sophisticated too.

Based upon the rest of your email, I know you live clear across the country from me and I find it such a shame because I think you and I would get along quite well. We’ll drink martinis and bitch about fashion while we rock out to an awesome local band on stage. But I know there’s so many other women out there reading this wishing they too could be part of this hypothetical Girl’s Night Out because they too can’t find their personal style available in their size.

I could tell you to find a seamstress, to learn how to sew, to scour the racks at your nearby thrift or vintage shop, but if you are like me you’d rather spend that time on the back of your husband’s Harley. So I am going to share what I am doing, using some awesome plus size bloggers for visual inspiration.

Over the past year, my personal style has transitioned and it is going in a more edgy, rocker direction. And like you, it’s still important for me to dress appropriately for work, and to have a sophisticated feel to everything I wear, be it for the office or after hours. When I realized I wasn’t really the person to wear a lemon-printed skirt or an adult tutu with pearls, I decided to make a list and slowly build up my wardrobe with what fits the current me. That list is still long because it has been a hard road to find pieces that fit my personal style as well as my figure and budget but I have found some alternatives and workarounds:

Tough but Sweet style from Curvy Girl Chic

Focus on Accessories
You can take a simple twinset and skirt and make it twee, or you can make it edgy and it’s all due to accessories. A bootie in place of a pump, a cuff instead of a delicate link bracelet, a chunky chain in place of a bubble necklace, a studded hobo over a candy-colored handbag. You’ll see in more recent outfit posts that I’m not usually wearing my colorful jewelry, have narrowed down my shoe collection, and use fewer clutches and usually a large slouchy black or gray leather bag. I even switched from elegant and on-trend tortoiseshell glasses to oversized black Wayfarer-style ones which are more bold, modern, and not at all cutesy.

I have a black matte jersey shift with puffed sleeves, I’ve owned it for several years. I have worn it before with peeptoe heels and a skinny patent belt with bow detail. I’ve also worn it with all black accessories and a biker jacket. This week I wore it sans belt with leopard haircalf pointed flats, a paisley scarf tied at the throat, and a bunch of chunky silver and leather cuffs on the wrist. It’s just an example of how accessories can transform very basic pieces.

Create a Color Story
Earlier this year, I was thinking about my wardrobe and what I like, what I REALLY like in it. I realized my favorite pieces are in black, white, gray, and shades of blue (especially navy and indigo). I looked at what I pinned on Pinterest and it was a lot in these colors, with the occasional pop of red, orange, or hot pink. So I stopped buying things in every other color. I decided to “brand” myself with this color story. It’s professional, it’s modern and classic, it can easily look rocker chic but also look boardroom-ready.

A lot of color in the closet is pretty to look at, but it’s hard to create an edgier look. Not only that, a simpler palette will better define your personal style, making that black skater skirt suddenly look tough, a touch of lace look badass. Think about what colors you gravitate towards, and what pieces you already own and love to death and start playing with a simpler color story.

Glam Rock via GabiFresh 

Boost the Beauty
With my change in personal style, I realized I needed a change in my hair and makeup. Before, I did a lot of “pretty” – big soft waves with caramel and auburn highlights, soft brown shades on the eyes and glossy pink lips. It just didn’t fit my personal style. Since then, I have cut down the highlights and added darker lowlights, I played with bangs, and my standard face is liquid liner, lots of lashes, and a soft red pout. Now that I am trying to maintain a manicure, I stick to a nude or else a dark bold color like gray.

Your clothing says a lot, but your hair and makeup is your signature, what separates you from other women in the same jeans and tee shirt. Be it nail art, a signature hot pink lip, a purple streak in your bangs, or flushed cheeks, there’s nothing wrong with wearing the same look each day and having it define your personal style. A switch in your beauty routine is often what you need to make a look more appropriate to your personality.

Shop Outside your Retail Comfort Zone
I can’t stress this enough to all women, regardless of age or size. The world doesn’t stop at Lane Bryant. Yes, it’s a popular retailer where you can find great pieces, but there is plus size clothing available at other places… places you may not have considered just a year ago. Lands’ End has amazing dresses as well as separates, Coldwater Creek is constantly improving and is having a new denim line this fall, Torrid may seem to be for younger women but they have some pretty adorable pieces that can incorporate into a professional woman’s closet. Companies like Simply Be, ASOS Curve, and H&M are offering on-trend fashion in extended sizes, and many of them are perfect for a gal with a rock-n-roll vibe. I also highly recommend checking out plus size bloggers; they often know about the best retailers before anyone else and can show how they truly look on a larger frame instead of on a size 10 “plus size” model.

You never know, you may find a new favorite retailer, or be surprised that an unexpected shop has staples and novelty pieces you have been craving for seasons! It doesn’t hurt to look, and these days more and more retailers have free or simple shipping/return policies!

Rockin’ Style via Margie Plus

Quality, not Quantity
You don’t need a whole new outfit for every day of the month. It’s better to rewear the same pieces over and over that perfectly fit your personal style, than spend money with items that “make do.” I think back about my black shift with the puffed sleeves – each time I consider buying another LBD I think about it, how versatile it is, and put that other frock back on the rack.

When you own and purchase fewer items, you not only hone your personal style, but you have more fundage to buy quality pieces that are perfect for you. I learned to step away from Old Navy, where I could easily drop $50 on knits and random accessories that are lucky to get two wears, and save that money towards a badass leather jacket that will give me years of wear and dozens of compliments from strangers. Another pair of jeans that don’t fit quite right, or highlights from a nice salon in town? A bag of baubles from Forever 21, or a signature sterling silver ring that is the cherry on top of your new wardrobe?

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What I Wore: Blame Megan

size 14 petite blog latico red purse stripe dress
Dress: ASOS | Bag: Latico via MYHABIT (similar) |  Bracelet: CC Skye via MYHABIT (similar) | Shoes: Converse ‘Shoreline’

There are many friends in my life that I met through this blog, and one is Megan. Though we live on opposite coasts, we were pregnant at the same time, emailed back and forth over maternity fashion and breastfeeding, and became friends. One day she messages me these $89 Jason Wu shoes on her MYHABIT waitlist that came available. I had heard of MYHABIT but tried to steer clear from such sites because I didn’t NEED anything. But $89 Jason Wu heels had me curious enough to check it out and I became a fan.

I still try to steer clear from MYHABIT and other sites because it’s too easy to get caught up in the excitement of the bargain and buy things you don’t need or even really want, but it’s a fab site to find brands you already like at great prices. I like Latico bags; the leather is high quality, the styles simple and timeless, the price extremely reasonable for the quality, the brand has a cool rock and roll history, and they’re not covered with logos. Last year I wanted a red bag, and found this one on MYHABIT for around $40. This Spring, I realized I had a $20 credit at MYHABIT (refer friends and get credit, FYI my links are referral ones) and got this over $100 bracelet for just $9. So if I have someone to blame for this weekend look, it’s my bloggy friend Megan!

What I Wore: Nice Splash of Paprika

Top: ASOS Curve c/o Gwynnie Bee | Skirt: Halogen (similar) | Leather Bracelet: “Pilar” c/o Lulu Avenue | Shoes: Miss Sixty (similar) | Bag: Rebecca Minkoff (similar) | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

I’m quoting Diana Vreeland because I feel a bit like a trend salad today, but I honestly don’t care. This top came in my latest Gwynnie Bee box and before I tried it on, I was imagining it with skinny black ponte pants. But once I tried it on, I wanted to emphasize the volume and liked the leather with the houndstooth. And then well… you can’t get a new purse and not show it off! Leopard and houndstooth and modified peplum and pleats and booties and… oh my! Let’s just say it’s a nice splash of paprika!

As for the new purse… I have liked the Rebecca Minkoff Mini M.A.C.s for a very long while, but hesitated because… well because every other person under the sun is carrying them, it seems to be as much a blogger necessity as Karen Walker sunnies. But then I thought it’s pretty stupid to not buy something I like just because everyone else has played it out. And then when I saw it in leopard pony hair, silver hardware, and ON SALE (no longer available at Nordstrom.com but check in their stores) I decided to get it. And when everyone else has moved on from this bag to another must-have, I’ll still be rocking the heck out of it because it pretty much is everything I love all rolled into one. And for those who have considered this bag, in it I have my wallet (which is stuffed like most moms), a cosmetic bag (which is also stuffed), my Momagenda, phone, keys, two pens, headphones, and sunglass case all in the main portion; two lipsticks, pack of gum, and SmarTrip card in the front pocket. The only thing not in here that I usually carry is a small umbrella, and I had to carry my book in my hand for the subway ride. the strap is comfortable as a shoulder bag, but also a good length for a crossbody, and the strap can be removed to make it into a clutch.

As for this top, it fits really nicely, is lined in the front, but not the back so I had to wear a camisole to work.  However for a night out, the sheerness is subtle, a black bra under will give coverage without looking hoochie-mama, and it would look great with skinny black pants or jeans.  The neckline doesn’t gape, keeping everything under wraps.  I’ve also considered trying the top with a wider black leather belt for a different effect.  Gotta love Gwynnie Bee, I would have never tried this top if I didn’t have the luxury to borrow and return without buyer’s remorse!

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Monday: Elephant

Shirt: ASOS Curve c/o Gwynnie Bee | Pants: Ann Taylor | Shoes: MICHAEL Michael Kors | Lipstick: Revlon Matte in Wine Not | Silver cuff, silver chain with personal charms, silver chain with crystal pendant

I can’t rave enough about the new arrivals at Gwynnie Bee. Sequins, leather, peplum, and some of the most fun prints. As soon as I saw this elephant print shirt I had to add it to my Gwynnie Bee virtual closet! Ensembles like this are perfect for weekends or days when I am running late – lots of details, but simple pieces that are quite comfortable. This top would also look cute with skinny jeans tucked into black engineer boots, and I toyed with wearing a leopard haircalf cuff with it for some fun pattern mixing. Think the shirt would also look great under a black boyfriend blazer with black heavyweight leggings or narrow pants and a pair of flats (maybe leopard print!).

here’s still a few days to take advantage of Gwynnie Bee’s free trial promotion. Through November 30, 2012 if you sign up for Gwynnie Bee and mention Wardrobe Oxygen you get a free, 30-day trial subscription (up to three items at a time). Cancel on or before your 30 days are up and you won’t be charged a thing (Gwynnie Bee will need their clothes back though). Just request an invite (the site is invite-only at this time), tell them that Wardrobe Oxygen referred you, activate your account, browse around and give it a try. You will receive an email with the invite and the trial instruction.

If you celebrated, how was your Thanksgiving weekend?  Thursday, we went to my mom’s house for our traditional Thanksgiving feast.  This year we got a local, hormone-free, happy life turkey from Ferguson Family Farm via our local farmers market and boy, does it taste better than the standard grocery store Butterball!  Each year we have the same side dishes – boiled pearl onions, peas, mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls, cranberry sauce.  I usually make green bean casserole but decided to be a bit healthier this year (and be dairy-free) and made broccoli rabe in garlic olive oil with red pepper flakes.  Sunday was my husband’s paternal side of the family reunion in Maryland and we had a great time catching up with loved ones and Emerson had a blast making crafts and playing with her cousins.  The rest of the weekend wasn’t relaxing but it was productive – got a lot of cleaning done (you can see my closet cleanout on Instagram), bought a new TV since ours decided to die the day before Thanksgiving, and had a lot of QT with Karl and Emerson.

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Contest: Tolani Scarf from chickdowntown.com

jessica alba tolani scarfTo celebrate me coming back to work and to blogging, I have a great contest for you readers!

One of you can win a Tolani scarf that has been seen on the likes of Jessica Alba (pictured), Sienna Miller, Vanessa Minnillo (pictured), Halle Berry and Mary-Kate Olsen.

The Tolani scarf is courtesy of chickdowntown.com, an awesome site that sells hip women’s designer clothing from the likes of Black Halo, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Diane Von Fürstenberg and Vera Wang Lavender Label.

I am so excited, because you KNOW I love scarves, and these beauts from Tolani are fabulous!

vanessa minnillo tolani scarfHow to enter:
Send an email to mywardrobetoday@gmail.com with the word “TOLANI” in the subject.
In the body of the email, please provide your name and mailing address (I promise these addresses will only go to me – except for the winner, and will be deleted once the contest is over). Winner will be chosen by random.

Contest ends Friday, March 20th, 2009 at midnight ET. Winner will be contacted by email. Scarf will be mailed out from chickdowntown.com. Sorry international readers, but the contest is only open to those in the United States.

Get to know chickdowntown.com:
Facebook (friend “shop chickdowntown” and/or become a fan of the chickdowntown page)
Twitter (twitter.com/chickdowntown)
YouTube (chickdowntownTV.com or youtube.com/chickdowntowntv)

Good luck!

What I Wore… Sort Of…

Some days, I pull together an outfit, check out my reflection and feel pretty darn sassy. Heck, I’m proud of myself – short bit of time, kid role-playing that I am Mary Poppins and she Jane Banks (second time reading the book chapter a night), dog begging to go outside, kid begging to eat chocolate for breakfast and anything more than jeggings, a blazer and tee shirt is an impressive feat. Thursday morning was one of those mornings.

What I Wore: 
Top: c/o Gwynnie Bee  | Pants: Tahari | Jacket: Halogen | Shoes: MICHAEL Michael Kors “Flex” | Purse: Rebecca Minkoff (similar) | Bracelet: Had forever (similar) | Ring: Argento Vivo (similar) | Lipstick: Revlon Matte in Really Red

Gwynnie Bee sent me a black and off-white vertical striped tank from ASOS Curve that I had worn to work the previous week with dark jeans and a black blazer, but it was an early day and I didn’t get pictures for the blog. However the top was so cute, I wanted to feature it in an outfit post on the blog and wanted to create a new outfit that did NOT feature jeans since my last few outfit posts were with denim. The top is long on me; last week I half-tucked it and it looked cool, but half-tucking in a skirt looked strange. So I tried my black Tahari Hazel pants and I liked it. Now I just needed some color.

I recently bought this jacket from Nordstrom. Green, leather, moto style… um it’s all my favorites rolled into one! I tried it on… and I really liked the look. My hair was second day and I thought had a bit of a messy rocker look, decided to wear contacts, black liquid liner and an oxblood lip. And my eyes were being very Allergy Season and my contacts were itchy so I switched to my glasses (of course already did my makeup so it was a hot mess getting out the contacts, eyes were watering, mascara was smearing, you allergy sufferers and contacts wearers know the drill). And then I couldn’t find my oxblood colored lipstick so I went with dark red.  Added my silver cuff and a silver “cigar band” ring on my thumb.

So I got Emerson settled with breakfast and turned on Nick Jr. I switched from my gray leather bag to my Rebecca Minkoff because I felt it would be fun with this look, and Karl and I hustled outside to take the pictures. It was a bit earlier, so we kept having to stop as kids were walking to school, cars were driving by, trucks were backing up, dogs were taking a crap right next to me. We laughed through it, but were getting short on time so we didn’t take a ton of pictures and rushed through the ones we did.

I got to work, put the memory card in the card reader and… oh Holy Donatella, I look like a hot mess. My hair looked as though I went for a ride in a convertible and had a strange orange hue to it. My glasses were steamed up so you can’t see one eye in almost all of the photos. My pants got all bunched up in the crotch area from putting down and picking up my bag and all that jazz and I looked as though I was wearing a suiting diaper. The shirt bloused weird and ended up looking crooked in the photos. Oh, and I had Revlon Really Red on my teeth in most of the shots.

So yeah… today you get a collage of what I wore instead of the full thing. I want to be real and honest with you folks, but I’m not going to air my dirty laundry, or post pictures of me that don’t do my outfit justice!

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Ask Allie: Plus Size Wardrobe Staples

Dear Allie, I found your wardrobe staples post many years ago and it changed my life. I cut my closet in half but finally had the right clothes for everything. Since then, I have had two children and some health issues and I’m now a size 22. I gave up on fashion the past five years but my New Year resolution is to get back in shape and in style. Thing is I go to the mall and I can’t find anything on your list, everything is so ugly and old looking and cheap in plus sizes. Help!

My first suggestion to you is to get the heck out of the mall. While more and more brick and mortar shops are offering plus size fashion, most neighborhood malls have pretty slim pickings. Shipments are done by a buyer, one who just looks at generic demographics and statistics for the store, mall, and zip code and makes general decisions on whether to feature more plus size or less, more suiting or more weekend wear, more formal dresses or cotton sundresses. While you could drive around town to find plus size fashion Mecca, you could also head to your computer.

I hardly ever enter a mall anymore because I find them frustrating, messy, and overwhelming. When I do visit, I plan out my trip and head first to my go-to stores where I know the clothes fit my body and my personal style. Then if I still have some energy left, I’ll investigate other retailers. However, I find far more luck sticking to online retailers. Better selection of styles as well as sizes, easier to find discounts, and I can try on pieces in my bedroom with flattering lighting and proper shoes and undergarments.

I did a little searching online and was able to quickly find all the wardrobe staples I suggest in plus sizes. These days many retailers offer free or near-free shipping and returns; I did a review of my favorite plus-size retailers here. Keep in mind that this time of year is awesome for deals, but awful for selection. We’re entering inventory season, and every retailer tries to have as little merchandise as possible for inventory to make the process easier. If you’re looking for bargains you’re likely in luck, but if you’re striking out in sizes, wait until mid-March when spring collections will be stocked in the stores.

In the collage above, I left out the wool coat and accessories from the staples list because I find them relatively easy to find and likely you have the accessories already in your collection. Here’s a list of some of my go-to retailers for specific plus size fashion:

I also recommend you check out some plus size blogs and forums. I personally am not part of any boards or forums so I suggest you lurk some and find a good fit. While there are so many blogs out there who showcase their fabulous plus size personal style, here are few plus size-specific blogs I find to be quite helpful in reviewing lines and offering fashion suggestions. I also recommend reading their blogrolls and comments for additional blogs and online resources:

I’m so happy that you are using this year to care for yourself. Everyone deserves to feel fabulous and you’re gorgeous no matter your dress size. Dressing to flatter your current figure and personal style makes you feel confident and helps showcase your beautiful self. Don’t let the malls get you down, head online and you may find just what you were looking for!

Readers, I look forward to your comments on this subject, as I am not an expert.  Where do you find plus size wardrobe staples?  Who are your favorite plus size bloggers?  What online resources do you recommend?  

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Fantasy Fashion Closet for Spring 2013

Last fall, I made a similar list and you all were quite helpful with finding some of the pieces. I also found creating such a post useful in that it helped me define my personal style for the upcoming season. To see all my wants together is very telling and helps me know what direction to go in with purchases, what to bring into my closet that season, and what to keep packed away for next year.

Full Skirt with Pockets. Lightweight cotton, proper waistband, hits just below the knee, full but not too full (like my Talbots skirt). In fact, I thought I found the perfect skirt, from Talbots, via eBay. It was supposedly yellow and the image made it look like a light springy mustard shade that I thought would look fantastic with navy and white striped tees, or a simple white tank and raffia belt. Nope, the color was more like pea soup or baby diaper. Not sure what to do with it, because it is a bit yellow (in that baby diaper sort of way), but not in a way I would want on my body (or anywhere else in my life). I don’t think dying it will give a good result, but I’m holding on until I find some creative way to make it fabulous. And until then, I am looking for a full skirt with pockets.

Crisp White Shirt. Wow, this seems to be on my list every season. Last year Foxcroft was kind enough to send me one, but it’s a bit too big and looks a bit sloppy when not knotted at the waist. I don’t want skin-tight, I just want a feminine fit that still closes properly at the bustline and is not transparent. Oh, and no chest pockets – I have enough going on up there.

Dark Ankle Jeans. I don’t want skinny, I don’t want bootcut, I want dark, saturated real denim with weight, a classic style, that hits at my ankles so I can wear them with flats. Easier said than done with my wide calves and solid thighs. Think I may need to get a pair tailored to work.

White Ankle Jeans. Same fit and weight as the dark denim, but in pure white with white seams and few details.

Maxi Wrap Dress. I have loved the DVF ones for a long time and recently saw this one on Style Pantry and now I crave one. Either black or green, or some fun print that can dress up and down. Do I need this? No, but this is a FANTASY closet!

Western Shirt. I have a chambray shirt that is well-loved, but would like a shirt that is a bit more fitted, and has snaps and Western seaming and details.

Short-sleeved Ponte Dress. I’d like something sort of like this dress I own, but not as deep of a neckline, a skirt that hits just below the knee, and has pockets. ASOS has a similar concept but no pockets and from ordering this ponte skirt from them I can bet right now that this dress will be too long in length and torso. If ASOS has Petite 10, I’d be all over it. As for color… black of course is great but would also love navy, a shade of green, maybe coral. Something I can dress up for work with a scarf and heeled sandals or wear on a weekend with leather thongs.

Beaded Flat Sandals. Many moons ago, I had the most perfect leather and beaded thong sandals. I got them from Victoria’s Secret, but they were from another brand. They fit my wide feet, were comfortable, and looked great peeking out of jeans or with sundresses. I wore them to death… and die they did in a stinky broken threads and missing beads death. A couple weeks ago I went into Ross and found some beaded sandals in an 8W for $12.99; I was wearing boots and socks so I didn’t try them on but bought them. They are… fine. They are faux leather and look like it and wrinkle strangely on top and I would just like a new pair like my old pair from ten years ago to pair with beat up jeans and that Western shirt.

Gauzy White Tunic. Feel the vibe going on here for spring? I want a white gauzy shirt with white embroidery on it, three-quarter sleeves that aren’t too fitted but aren’t batwing. A tad sheer, but not too sheer to wear with a nude tee shirt bra. Something that hits mid-hip, slits on the slides so it doesn’t hug the bum. Something to throw on with denim cutoffs or jeans, or even belt and wear with a maxi skirt.  In fact, I owned this very shirt in college and lost it, it was from Contempo Casuals and far cooler than the store name.

Wedge Sandals. I just ordered these from Sofft and they are too metallic. I’d like either a beige/tan color or a muted metallic that can work with dresses as well as jeans. Flats aren’t comfortable for me for long periods of time, and a slight wedge makes sandals more appropriate for the office. Nothing too high, straps not too skinny to dig into my toes, no slingback (I don’t have enough curve in my ankle to hold up the sling), no ankle strap, no fake laminate on the wedge to pretend it’s wood or cork (though real cork would be warmly welcomed), just a simple wedge sandal for spring.

Whether I buy these things is another story. Often when I actually start dressing for the season, I find some of these items not necessary or inappropriate for my life. However this is the direction I am going in for spring – a bit boho, a bit classic, a lot of solids in clear colors mixed with denim and neutrals and the accessories taking center stage.


What are you feeling for spring?

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Review – DUO Boots

In my last post about DUO boots, I discussed my previous experiences with this company that offers wide calf boots in sizes up to 50 centimeters in diameter. I mentioned how DUO Boots chatted with me via email offering their suggestions on the best boots to fit my need (a low-heel tall black boot with classic styling that could work over skinny jeans as well as with dresses and skirts), and my body (petite, wide calves as well as large shins and ankles). DUO suggested the Catalonia, a classic riding-style boot that is known for being generous in the ankle. With DUO Boot’s free international shipping I decided to get myself a pair.

The Duo Catalonia Boot

The boots were backordered, but DUO let me know that before I even placed my order. They kept me posted via email on their status and arrived two days before I expected them. I had them delivered to my office so I would ensure a person would be there to sign for them (DUO is based out of the UK and you need a signature for delivery).

I got them… and they didn’t fit. While I ordered a size 39 UK/8US (same size as my Bern boots and most of the shoes in my closet), my feet were positively swimming in them. I also went down a few centimeters from my Bern boots because I knew they stretched, and well I went down too far – could hardly zip the left boot. I emailed DUO asking what I could do – the last time I had to exchange with them I had to pay $40, deal with customs at the post office, and it wasn’t worth the hassle.

Well DUO has updated their return policy – they sent me a link to fill out a return. My card was charged $20, I repackaged the boots in the heavy shipping bag they came in, and DHL came to my office and did the rest. While the $20 return fee sucks, it’s not that dramatic compared to so many other US-based online retailers in return for international shipping, front-door service, and stellar customer service.

And in less than two weeks my new boots arrived. This time, they fit great. The only thing was the boots did a weird pirate-sort of thing at the top (see above). This happens because my calf is so much wider than my knee, and I am on the short side. I had noticed this in the original pair, and before exchanging researched to see if a cobbler could actually taper the boot to not bow out so much. They could, and so I took my new Catalonia boots to my cobbler.

My cobbler refused to taper the boot shaft, saying it would ruin the boot. “Legs don’t curve that way.” The thing is, my legs curve that way. So I went to another cobbler who didn’t bat an eye at my request, asked me to put on the boots, even suggested I put them over my jeans to ensure there’s room for that, got on his knees and measured. The Catalonia has a back seam so the alteration is virtually invisible.  Two weeks and $45 later I had boots that curved with me (see above). Was so impressed with the price and ease, I am taking an old pair of “pirate boots” in to be cleaned up and tapered.

And now the review of the actual boots:
The DUO Catalonia is a pretty classic-styled riding boot with a low heel, rounted toe, and pull tabs at the top of the shaft. I don’t believe my pictures do the leather justice for it is very soft and supple – the boots look expensive. There isn’t a single bit of blatant hardware on them which I love – the zippers and pulls are black, the elastic gussets are black, the wood heel is stained black.

DUO rarely shows a photo the inner view of their boots, because that is where they hide the zipper and gussets. Like my Duo Bern boots, the Catalonia has a sturdy metal zipper and two horizontal gussets 6.5” long; these gussets will stretch with the leg so you don’t always have a bit gap of elastic showing (see above).

The foot itself runs HUGE – I am a 7.5 wide or 8 medium and I was swimming in an 8. Even with a size smaller, my foot still has a lot of room and I can comfortably wear really thick socks. The ankle area will slouch on many – this is not a stiff leather boot and it is roomy in the ankle – this is not a boot for someone who wants a sleek, fitted style. The boot is unlined, but the leather inside is soft and brushed. DUO boots aren’t known for their cushy insole, but I just buy a pair from Target to make them more wearable all day.

The boot is tall – if I was a half inch shorter they would probably dig into the back of my knee when walking or sitting. Do keep this in mind if you are petite (I am 5’3” and find most petite pants to be a hair short if not in complete flats).

I have worn these boots a LOT in the past week – almost every day. They are very comfortable, and look great slipped over jeans and leggings. I also wore them with my gray White House Black Market dress and it looked cute; you can also see here when I wore them with a pencil skirt. The leather has stretched slightly – just enough that they have molded to my leg and foot. They cost me $250, a price I find extremely reasonable for such quality, style, and fit.

DUO Boots is known around the blogosphere for making wide calf boots, but they make boots of any size – if you have very narrow calves this is also a great place to shop. Before dropping dough, I recommend you contact them by email – they reply usually within 48 hours and can give you specific advice on boots to ensure you get a style that will fit you best. And for those in the US who were turned off by the old shipping and return policy – consider giving DUO another try, you’ll be pretty pleased with the change.

Note: I did not receive any compensation from DUO for this post; DUO didn’t know I was writing this nor do I even think they knew I was a blogger when I placed my order.

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My Head is Too Big to be Hipster: A Warby Parker Review

Once I got new glasses, I wanted more. A pair of red frames to channel my inner Sally Jesse Raphael, a funky blue or green pair to jazz up all-black ensembles, a funky shape to show personality at the office. I had heard a lot of great things about Warby Parker and decided to try a pair of frames from them.

Me in my new glasses – Lafont’s Issy & La collection, the frame is called “Gloss”

Warby Parker Eyewear’s mission is to offer reasonably-priced fashionable frames. On top of that, for every pair of Warby Parkers sold, a new pair is given to someone in need. Warby Parker is also proud to be a carbon-neutral company.

Warby Parker has a try-on program where you can pick five frames and try them on at home. They will ship the glasses to you for free and offer free return postage; I decided to take advantage of this program and see if I could find a new pair of signature prescription frames.

The Warby Parker site is very easy to navigate; click on your gender and then whether you desire optical or sunglass frames. From there you can choose material, color, frame shape, and width. From experience, I know my face is pretty wide, so I stuck to the medium and wide styles of frames. Since I already have a pair of tortoiseshell frames, I stuck to more unusual colors.

The glasses arrived quickly in a sturdy shipping box, and then a lovely navy linen box. Each pair of glasses was in its own compartment, wrapped in plastic and labeled with its name. Each pair of Warby Parker frames has the brand and style name inside on the temple. I found the quality to be stellar, especially for the price. These frames rival the more expensive designer styles I tried at my nearby glasses shop. The return process is simple – peel off the self-adhesive UPS label and drop it in a nearby UPS drop box. I couldn’t be more impressed with Warby Parker and their process… except that my face is too big for them.

Maybe I should have tried men’s frames, but I felt that almost every pair I tried (except for the Bensen, and they just weren’t a style I was looking for) was just a hair too small for my face. I often have this issue not just with glasses, but sunglasses as well. In fact, when I got my new glasses, they were the only ones I liked after trying on about 20 pairs – each other pair seemed just a bit too small for my face shape, even some of the men’s frames I tried.

So if you have a normal to small-sized noggin, I encourage you to try Warby Parker. The Warby Parker at-home program is completely free so you have nothing to risk; if you find a pair you like you can feel good that not only will you look great, but your purchase will also be doing good. As for me, I will have to look elsewhere, my head is just too big to be hipster.

Note: Warby Parker has no idea I am doing this review and I was not compensated in any way for it.  I just decided to try the brand and share my experience with you!

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True Fashionista: Audi

Many readers contact me telling me that because of their job, they can’t dress to match their personal style. Many also tell me that once they hit 30, they don’t feel that they can show their personal style at work because it won’t be seen as professional or serious. When I get such emails, I often send these women a link to Audi’s blog, and that is a big reason (other than thinking she’s utterly fabulous and stylish) why I asked her to be part of my True Fashionista series.

Audi from the blog Fashion for Nerds is a scientist. She’s over 40. She isn’t one to fit in with the crowd. She loves to travel, loves living in San Francisco, and makes hats in her spare time. She has tattoos, and I am terribly jealous that she has been to Burning Man. She is able to have all this and be professional at work AND true to her personal style. She’s proof that you can be stylish and smart; a professional and a sartorial badass.

I have been reading Audi’s blog for many years and one thing that I love about her style is that while it is unique, it is never a costume. Audi can wear knee-high lace up boots, a harness, a scarf decorated with skulls and it looks polished and sophisticated. She understands not only herself, but her environment and knows how to merge the two.

A big part of why Audi’s style works so well is because she wears it with confidence. I often think of street style blogs – what the subjects may wear may not conventionally make sense, but their posture, their stance, and their visible confidence is the finishing touch that makes the look perfection. Audi carries herself with pride and confidence and it makes her fashions even the more fabulous.

Audi is the queen of the carefully edited closet. While she never shows the same exact outfit twice, you see the same pieces being used over and over, each time getting a new look. Pairing a biker vest with skinny cargos one day and a maxi skirt the other, you hardly realize it’s the same piece. Audi carefully purchases, be it a Helmut Lang dress, a Botiker bag, or an H&M top. And whether it’s ASOS or Alexander McQueen, those pieces get much wear over the years, having new lives as her personal style evolves.

I was so thrilled Audi was willing to be a True Fashionista for Wardrobe Oxygen; here are her responses to the same five questions I ask to each woman in this series.

How would you describe your personal style?
It can be all over the map, but the outfits I feel are really “me” are those that could be described as rocker professional, by which I mean that they look polished and tidy, but have plenty of rebellious elements such as skulls or leather, or that show my tattoos.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
As a kid I used fashion as a means of creating a persona that I didn’t really possess; I was quite shy and reserved all though high school, and dressing in a bold way gave me an air of self confidence. By the time I hit my 20’s I had become genuinely confident, but my style only fully developed once I stopped working in the lab and was able to wear nice clothes to work without having to worry about being uncomfortable all day with my lab coat on over my outfit.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
Everywhere, really; other bloggers, people I see on the street, friends, coworkers, window displays, runway shows, magazines. Sometimes it’s just a color combination that I like, sometimes it’s an individual item that strikes a chord, and other times it’s an entire outfit.

What is the difference between fashion and style?
Fashion gives us the individual elements: the colors, shapes, patterns, textures, and genres that strike our collective fancy for a particular period of time. Style is how an individual puts those specific elements together.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
I think the most important thing is to have an idea of what you want your wardrobe to say about you. If you want to come off as relaxed and approachable, then think of a few examples of people whose style appears that way to you, be it celebrities or people you know. Then start experimenting, understanding all the while that your style will morph over time as you find the garments that make you look and feel your best. The other thing to remember is that it’s one thing to admire a look on someone else, but it’s quite another to wear it yourself; before you buy a new item, ask yourself if you love it for you or if it’s better being loved from afar.

***

The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style. Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion. These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you. Stay tuned, there will be a featured True Fashionista every Friday for the next few weeks. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments!

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Ask Allie – Age, Weight, and Wearing Sleeveless Tops

As we women age (almost 60), and our arms aren’t as firm, should we avoid sleeveless altogether?
-Celeste
I am a size 20 and have read that I shouldn’t wear sleeveless or strapless dresses because I am plussize. Is this true? It’s hard to find cute clothes with sleeves that don’t make me look like my grandma, I am 22. What do you think?

- Jessica

I get this question often. I feel that no, you should not shy away from sleeveless pieces if you feel good in them. Often what you hide you end up emphasizing. Also, that which you find to be a glaring issue is not as obvious to others.

Women over 60 who look fabulous in sleeveless tops:
Diane von Furstenberg, Sally Field, Susan Sarandon, Gloria Steinem

Plus size women who look gorgeous in sleeveless dresses:
Beth Ditto, Queen Latifah, Nikki Blonsky, Mo’Nique


A few tips:

  • Stay clear from cap sleeves. Cap sleeves usually hit at a very unflattering place on soft arms. It hides the curve of the shoulder and ends right at a large part of the arm. 
  • Watch cut-out or racerback sleeveless tops. A true sleeveless top can be quite flattering, but more sccoped-out or tank styles can make a soft arm look larger. A scooped-out armhole shows the under-arm skin, back skin, and any softness in the shoulder, which can just emphasize the look of extra skin.
  • If you do a short sleeve, consider one that hits the middle to bottom of the upper arm. Like a cap sleeve, a short sleeve can cut your arm at a very unflattering point, making it look wider and softer.
  • Color makes a difference. Wear colors that flatter your skintone, which will make your arms look healthier, and actually slimmer and more firm. A good example is white – while white is a popular basic, it is a pretty difficult color for many to carry off, and it can make an arm look more pale, more wrinkled, less toned. If you want to wear a color like white, consider it as a bottom layer or wear with a sleeve.
  • Distract the eye. A scarf or necklace with your top will draw the eye from your arms to your accessory. 
  • Reduce the prints. While prints can often trick the eye in a good way (such as hiding curves), it isn’t that kind to the skin that is exposed. Prints can emphasize pale or crepey skin, and highlight your arms (or any exposed appendage).
  • Balance the outfit. An exposed arm is more on display if it’s paired with a tight dress and a short skirt. Using structured pieces on the bottom (straight leg jeans, crisp twill cropped pants), and cleaner lines for the top (not a lot of ruffles or chiffon or clinging knits), the figure as a whole is balanced. If you are more one to wear flowing fabrics, you can still achieve balance with a skirt that hits at the knees or longer, and by wearing heavier knits like stretch wool and Ponte de Roma.
  • Consider your accessories. If you are exposing your arm, you can trick the eye into thinking the arm is smaller and more firm by your choice of accessories. Small, delicate pieces can make an arm look larger, while bigger, structured pieces can make one look smaller. A large bag, a scarf looped around the neck, a chunky bangle bracelet – these pieces can really help balance out the body when wearing sleeveless garments.

I often use my mother as a style example, and I have to again for this situation. My mother is in her ‘60s and regularly wears sleeveless pieces and looks amazing. While she regularly practices yoga and is very active and fit, gravity and time of course has affected her skin. When she wears sleeveless tops, she wears bright jewel tones, accents her outfit with a statement necklace, and balances the lack of sleeves with a crisp structured pair of pants or shorts and a larger bag. She always looks smart, polished, and confident when wearing sleeveless pieces.

Don’t let your body restrict you from wearing what you love, and what is practical. When it’s hot, it’s hard to restrict yourself to sleeves. Come shopping for a formal affair, it’s very difficult to find fashions that are not sleeveless (or not dowdy). Try different silhouettes and mix it up with different accessories and I think you will be pleased with the result!

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Plus Sized Work Attire Options

Dear Allie:
I am getting back into the workforce after five years as a SAHM. I’m really excited, but am having a hard time finding nice work clothes. I am a size 18, 5’5” and an apple and all I seem to find are lowcut dresses and polyester pants. Do you know where I can find suits and work clothes like dresses and blouses for my size?

Why are all plus sized suits made out of polyester? Where can I find a suit that is equal in quality and price to J. Crew but goes above a size 16?

I was recently promoted and my new position requires me to travel on business several times a month. For such trips, I will need to wear a suit while at the office I can usually get away with casual pants or even nice jeans. While I have a great wardrobe of business casual pieces, it is proving difficult to find more corporate of attire for my size (I vary between a 20 and 22). Do you know of any retailers who specialize in suiting and corporate attire for plus-sized women?

Hi Allie, I need to improve my look at work. We’re allowed to wear anything we want but I don’t want to look like a slob any more and think if I look good I may be more likely to get a raise or promotion. I’m 5’7”, a size 20 with a large bust and don’t even know where to start looking for nicer work clothes. HELP!

I am not sure why the world thinks women over a size 12 don’t hold professional jobs. They must think that with the poor selection of career wear for plus-sized women. While quality suits and stylish business casual clothing does exist, it’s hard to find. Below I feature some brands who realize that just because you wear a larger size doesn’t mean you wish to sacrifice style, quality, or professionalism.

If you’re plus sized, I’m sure you already know about Lane Bryant, Avenue, Ashley Stewart, One Stop Plus/Woman Within/Roamans/Jessica London, and other retailers who specialize in plus size fashion. Below are some suggestions on brands I know who aren’t the typical shops, and who provide quality, well-crafted and stylish career wear in plus sizes

Nordstrom
I know, I know, Nordstrom again? Thing is, they offer a great selection of quality brands and style for plus sizes. MICHAEL Michael Kors, Rachel Palley, Calvin Klein, Karen Kane, Eileen Fisher, Tahari Woman, Vince Camuto, Kenneth Cole… all these brands and more are offered in plus sizes at Nordstrom stores and online.

Unlike many other department stores who think a woman in a size 22 dress wants a muumuu or a flowing polyester pantsuit, Nordstrom buyers find brands and pieces that are in the same vein of style as the rest of the store. Great colors, fun silhouettes, lots of options. Nordstrom has free shipping and free returns, will perform alterations onsite, and have personal shoppers that can help you secure a professional wardrobe for your job.

Macy’s
Macy’s is another department store who offers a fantastic selection of brands and styles for plus sizes. Alfani, Calvin Klein, Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Jones New York, and then their in-house brand INC International Concepts are great resources for great plus size office wear. Like Nordstrom, Macy’s provides a good amount of real estate in most of their stores for plus-sized fashion.

Macy’s always has promotions for discounts and shipping deals. Macy’s has a great return and exchange policy, where you can return by mail or at any nearby store.

Talbots
Talbots Woman comes in sizes 12-24 regular and 12-22 petite. Each season they offer several styles of suit separates so you can mix and match for the perfect career look. Talbots also specializes in business casual looks, with tailored trousers, well-crafted skirts, polished knits and sweaters and even shoes and accessories.

While many retailers hide their plus size department in a dusty corner or keep it only online, Talbots often has separate stores just for their Woman line, or else it gets plenty of real estate in their mixed-size store. Talbots is phenomenal with customer service, seeking out sizes at other locations, taking returns in-store, and giving you honest feedback and offering suggestions at the fitting room. When I was a size 18, Talbots was my go-to store, where I knew I would find quality, style, and a supportive staff.

Jones New York
While Jones New York is a department store staple, they also have their own online boutique that has a large selection of career wear in extended sizes. Since you have to return by mail (they offer a pre-paid shipping label), it’s good to try out JNY in a store to know how it fits, and then go online to find a larger selection.

Kiyonna
Kiyonna knows how to dress a woman. They make well-made pieces that are stylish and flattering to a plus-sized figure. No muumuus and garish prints here, Kiyonna offers beautiful dresses, and also a beautiful selection of separates. While their bottoms are very basic, they are well-made and classic. Some of their tops can run on the sexy side, but many are great pieces for business casual environments or fabulous shells under suits. Their return policy is pretty standard but I hear their sizing is quite consistent so once you know how you fit in Kiyonna you won’t have to make as many returns and exchanges.

Ann Taylor
If you enter an Ann Taylor store, you may think they don’t care about anyone over a size 12. However online they go up to size 18 and XXL on the majority of their pieces. I also find Ann Taylor runs a bit large and many of my readers have agreed that their size 18 can often fit a size 20 woman.

Ann Taylor regularly has promotions for free shipping and percentages off select items – it’s smart to sign up for their emails or follow them on Facebook or Twitter so you stay updated. Their online selection can sell out pretty quickly when they have such sales, so shop early. While Ann Taylor doesn’t offer free returns, they do accept returns even of larger sizes in any store. And if you have to do a return, check out their sale rack where I have regularly seen larger sizes from other women who have made returns.

Lands’ End
Lands’ End may not be the retailer you would think for career wear, but they do have a pretty great selection of workwear staples. While their summer selection is more geared towards shorts and dresses, they always have a good selection of blazers and coordinating bottoms and come the cooler months have an even greater selection of suiting and work-appropriate pieces.

Lands’ End often has promotions for discounts and free shipping so sign up for their emails to get the latest news. Lands’ End also accepts returns at Sears stores which makes shopping with them even more convenient.

Eddie Bauer
Like Lands’ End, Eddie Bauer mainly focuses on casual weekend fashion. However, like Lands’ End they have a few stand-out pieces each season for career wear. Eddie Bauer often focuses on easy-care pieces, and you’re likely to find wrinkle-free suiting, no-iron button-front shirts, and machine washable trousers and dresses. Eddie Bauer offers free exchanges and accepts returns by mail (they will provide a pre-paid shipping label or you can send by your own method) or in store.

Overstock
I’m quick to head to Overstock to find a toaster oven or an area rug, but I have now learned to go to this site for fashion. Popular brands like Tahari, Kasper, Calvin Klein, and Ann Klein are featured by Overstock, and at nicer prices than at the department store. While some of the styles offered on Overstock are a bit strange, you can also find some gems – often pieces being sold right now at your nearby Belk or Macy’s. Overstock has customer reviews, ridiculously cheap shipping, and a reasonable return policy.

TJ Maxx
While most of my local discount big box retailers will have some plus size fashion, it’s usually a small section, messy, and full of strange pieces I wouldn’t be caught dead in. Not so for TJ Maxx, who usually carries higher-end brands than similar stores, and they usually have a larger and better organized plus size department.


Where do you find stylish and well-made plus size career wear? I’d love to know your suggestions!

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Saturday

In the morning, I ran to get my hair cut and colored in the nearby town, and then run a few errands. Olive ribbed tank from J. Crew, white ribbed tank from Old Navy, Joe’s Jeans in “Provacateur,” brown stacked flops from J. Crew, silver hoops from The Icing, silver cuff.

Hair was brushed out but on the second day; blew the bangs straight.

Makeup was Body Shop bronzing powder in Light as face color, Max Factor Lash Perfection mascara on curled lashes, Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Pink Afterglow.

Kathleen did her magic – all I told her is that I wanted to go darker and that I wanted heavier bangs. I trust her, and was not disappointed. Choppy layers that can work straight, wavy or curly, fun sideswept bangs, and a very rich multi-tonal color of dark brown that looks closer to what I was born with.

Got home and had to dash to get dressed. Friday night I had a friend over so I didn’t have time to play dress-up and figure out my theater outfit. Thank you soooo much to everyone who wrote in suggestions, you guys are awesome and have good ideas! For the one who suggested my Old Navy dress… I completely forgot about it. I had set to wear my black cashmere tank from Banana Republic and my orange-red shantung full skirt also from Banana (seen here), but when I saw how spiffy and sleek my husband looked (flat front gray tropical wool trousers from J. Crew, white tailored shirt from some brand sold at Mens Wearhouse, black blazer from… J. crew? Not sure…, black slip-on sleek shoes from Ecco) I decided my outfit may look a bit like a costume. I tried a few different skirts, but settled on the black matte jersey dress from Old Navy, my red stone necklace, my leopard peep-toe heels from BCBgirls,silver hoops from The Icing, and silver cuff natch. :-)

Didn’t have to do my hair since it was done by Kathleen my talented stylist. She used the Pureology line on me, and swears by it for protecting color. I bought the shampoo and conditioner and once I can wash my hair (was told to go as long as humanely possible without washing) I will be using it and let you k now how it is.

Same makeup as earlier, just a re-touch of the bronzing powder, a bit of Smashbox Soft Lights in Tint on my cheekbones, a medium line of Maybelline Ultra Liner in black on the top lash line, a quick swipe of Maybelline Great Lash waterproof mascara in black over existing mascara, Body Shop Lip and Cheek Tint with Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Pink Afterglow over it.

We took the Metro and it was not even a block to the little restaurant (I don’t know if there are even 20 tables in the place). The menu seemed different from the one online and the only entrees that were vegetarian were spaghetti with tomato sauce (yawn) and a risotto with corn and truffle shavings. My husband and I chose the risotto, we shared a bottle of Pinot Grigio (not sure the label, our friend chose the wine) and had a nice, yet not inspiring or overwhelmingly unique meal. We then walked not even three blacks to the Kennedy Center where my friend and I sidestepped grates in our heels (she too wore a black sheath and heels) while the men tromped over everything and got there in time to marvel at the acre-sized curtains in the lobby and get a cocktail in the Terrace Bar prior to the performance.

The performance was great! As I said, I had never seen The Phantom of the Opera other than the movie. Back story – 1992, for Christmas I got my first boom box with a CD player in it, and with it two CDs – Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera. For several months until I got my high school arsenal of REM, Depeche Mode, Pearl Jam and Nirvana, I listened solely to these two soundtracks. Come 2007, I am silently singing along to this performance and even a tear came down my cheek at finally seeing live what I had in my head 15 years ago. I think also seeing Shakespeare in Love the night prior made the theater experience that more intense.

Our friends live in Virginia and parked at the theater; it was a gorgeous night and declined their offer to drive us to the Metro and decided to hoof it. All in all a lovely evening!