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Ask Allie – Long Necklaces

Hi Allie —

I love both your wardrobe blogs — thank you so much for putting the time in to do them! Do you have a recommendation for where I might look for a long chain-type necklace that will come down past the bust, almost to the waist? I don’t wear much jewelry at all, so I don’t have a set of go-to stores or websites to look for something like this.


Hi Amy:

I love long necklaces because they elongate the torso, make the neck look longer and thinner, and don’t draw as much attention to the bust. Thing is, one can see all the celebs rocking long necklaces, but when we look in stores, we can only find 16″ or 18” necklaces, 20” if we are lucky.

Image courtesy of Rose Blossom Cottage

Best bet, before you even go shopping is to measure what length will work on you. What seems right in a picture or on a jewelry card may end up being far too long or short for your frame. Also know that most necklaces come in standard lengths – I often look for necklaces that have a chain at the clasp that will allow a necklace to be lengthened an extra inch or two – that often makes the difference on a necklace dangling from my bustline or looking lovely with my outfit. The image above gives a general idea of how popular necklace lengths will hang on a standard female frame, this site and this site also give great information on different necklace lengths.

As for where to buy them, well I personally have the best luck in the least expected places. For years, my go-to store for long necklaces was Express – I could find fashionable chains and other costume jewelry at reasonable prices. Most recently, I have become a fan of the Norstrom half-yearly sale (though really they always have sale, especially online). At Nordstrom’s sales, I have always been able to find long chains from quality brands for the price that one can find at Claire’s Boutique. Speaking of Claire’s – I shouldn’t knock the store because I have found some very simple chains there that have given me years of use. I have also found some fabulous long necklaces – chains and tiny silver beads at H&M – their accessory selection changes almost weekly so it’s best to check in from time to time to see if they have anything that fits the bill. Finally, I often go to eBay when I need just a standard chain for a pendant or charm. I sometimes wear my wedding band on a chain, and being the mom of a jewelry-loving toddler, the chain has had to be replaced. I will search 30” silver box chain on eBay and find a ton of retailers offering such an item, usually with free shipping and prices that beat the shopping mall. If you know what length and what material you desire, eBay can be a great resource for finding long chains.

Readers, do you have any favorite necklace retailers?

Ask Allie: Wardrobe Maintenance

I have a silly question to ask you, how do you deal with ironing your clothes? my closet is full of garments that need ironing but as I have little space in it, every time I iron and put the clothes back in the closet, by the time I want to wear it, they’re all wrinkle again. I hate to iron piece by piece (because I hate to iron in general), I prefer to take one day and iron a few pieces and get over with it. Can you please give me some ideas?

I have a bin at the bottom of my closet (the Junque Trunke from Scout by Bungalow), in there goes anything that needs to be ironed, dry cleaned, repaired. Once a month on a Sunday after I put Emerson down for a nap I try to get these things cared for – I’ll replace the buttons, iron the shirts, bag up the clothes for the cleaners. Sometimes I get lazy with the complicated wrinkled pieces and toss them in the cleaners’ bag as well and let them deal with it (items with pleats and lots of detail). More often than not, I don’t buy things that wrinkle. Seriously, the only things in my wardrobe that get super wrinkled are two oxfords and a shirtdress, and both of them have been at the bottom of that bin for so long they are probably covered in dust. I don’t have time to iron, so I try to steer clear from wrinkly purchases.

I wonder if you might consider doing a post on out-of-season clothes storage. In a couple of your closet posts, you’ve mentioned that you store some clothes in your attic. I’d love to know how you store them and if you have any strategies or products you’d recommend for storing out-of-season clothes.

I have written about it here, here, and here. But really, up in my attic I have a bunch of clear plastic bins that are stacked in columns. I use a Sharpie on the front to label them size 10 clothes, size 8 and smaller clothes, winter tops, winter bottoms… that sort of thing. I also have a bin that holds out of season accessories (gloves, hats, velvet scarves, bathing suits, etc.). When Hurricane Irene decimated my closet I purchased a garment rack and plan to use that to store coats and dresses in the off season. I have a few hanging garment bags that I will use so those garments won’t get dusty, and I’ll use some cedar rings to keep the critters away.

You’ve mentioned before about how you baby your shoes, but can you go into more specifics? How often do you shine, clean, etc. What products do you use for this? What’s your shoe maintenance routine exactly?

Before Emerson, at least once a month I would sit down in front of the TV with a can of black shoe shine and my dad’s old brush and rag and polish all my black shoes (if you don’t have shoe shine products, Kiwi makes some great basic kits). I specifically chose black shoes over brown so it was easy to mindlessly polish them while watching Bravo or a rerun of Sex and the City. I also had a polish that was used to re-black heels and non-leather parts of shoes. Before each season, I would take shoe staples like boots and black pumps to the cobbler in the nearby mall to have them reheeled and if needed, resoled. They would also stretch the leather to cover up any nicks on heels and give them a really good polishing.

Now that my life is frantic, my shoes get polished… almost never. Before a wedding or big event, or if they got something on them. Now I work in the city and my shoes get quite a beating – they can easily go to the cobbler five times a season to be reheeled, and each time they polish them up and fix any nicks on the heels.

I do care about my shoes when they aren’t on my feet. As soon as I get home, I take off my “nice” shoes and put them on the stairs. When I go up, I take them and immediately put them in their proper box on the shelf in my closet. All my “nice” shoes are in boxes, labeled with a clear description. I have a bin on my closet floor that holds Chucks, flip flops, and that sort of thing. My boots are in the corner of my closet, I have old magazines rolled up in them to keep them from falling over and creasing. When it’s summer I store my boots in old pillowcases so they won’t get dusty.

What sort of hangers do you use? I have such a crazy assortment and I know that the metal ones from the dry cleaner are bad for your clothes. Why are they bad and what should I use?

I worked retail for 50 kazillion years (okay, more like a decade) and amassed quite the collection of those standard-issue black plastic hangers. They have removable grippers on the shoulders, divots for straps and dress loops, a hole to “monkey-hang” clothes, and swiveling hooks. Pretty darn near perfect. Thing is, I have been out of retail for a decade and these hangers are starting to fall apart.

I have started switching to velvet “huggable” hangers. The velvet fabric will grip slippery fabrics and wide necklines, and the slimline gives me more space in my closet. You can find them at discount stores like Marshall’s for a good price.

For heavy items, coats, and blazers I don’t wear regularly I choose molded hangers. These will prevent the “wings” that can happen from slimmer hangers, and will maintain the proper shape of the garment.

I prefer hangers with clips for my pants and skirts. I know many fold such garments over a hanger, but I end up losing the garment in my closet because I can’t see it easily. Also, if left there too long you end up with a crease. Also the eternal retail gal in me gets a kick out of seeing all my skirts and pants hanging in line with the edge of the hangers.

Metal hangers get a bad rap thanks to Mommie Dearest, but also because they aren’t meant for long-term storage. They are cost-effective for cleaners, but they can rust, stretch out lightweight fabrics, cause those “wings” and shoulder creases. However, don’t toss them out – many organizations need hangers for their charities, people on Freecycle are always looking for them, many dry cleaners will take them back and reuse them, and they can even be recycled!

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Ask Allie – To Jeggings, or Not to Jeggings?

htDear Allie,

I don’t know what to do about skinny jeans/ jeggings. They’re everywhere, and I don’t feel like they’re flattering on anyone, unless you’re built like a stick. Even then, I’m not so sure. But I’m feeling out of style now with my boot cut jeans. Do I need to invest in a pair of jeggings, or can I just ride out this trend and hope it disappears really, really soon? I lived through the decade of leggings and long tunics, and I don’t really want to revisit those days. What are your thoughts?


Dear Kathy,
Not everyone can wear every trend, and trends do not equate style. It is totally possible to look chic and stylish without adopting a single current trend.

Audrina Partridge in jeggings, courtesy of Denimology

I recently ordered myself some jeggings, thinking I would love how they looked with tall boots and a slouchy sweater. I imagined pairing them with booties and some of my shorter dresses so they would look a bit more like tunics. I got a pair in black, and one in dark indigo wash. I tried them on, was amazed at how comfortable they were – like heavyweight leggings.

Then I looked at my reflection in the mirror. I had paired the jeggings with some chunky strappy booties and a drapey tunic-length tee. And I looked ridiculous. The jeggings emphasized my chunky knees, my short stocky legs, my wide calves. I looked 20 pounds heavier and four inches shorter than I actually am. I didn’t look fashionable, I didn’t look cool, and I surely wasn’t showing personal style. The jeggings shall be returned.

The thing is, the world isn’t black and white, jeggings and boot cut. There are some fantastic jeans that hit the middle ground. Check out my post about the skinny jean trend to find out some alternatives that are out there.

I have found with time to stick to silhouettes that I know flatter, and follow trends with color and accessories. With denim, it’s easy to stay on trend by buying your favorite cut of jeans in just an updated hue. Maybe it’s distressed, maybe it’s whiskered, maybe it’s bleached or super-saturated. This way, you don’t sacrifice your personal style or figure but don’t look passé.

A decade ago, if I had Wardrobe Oxygen, I would probably be getting emails like this asking if boot cut is a trend and can a person get away with just sticking with their Levi’s 501 jeans. And you know what? They could have, and they could now.

Jennifer Hudson in skinny jeans/jeggings

Denim trends come and go, but some styles are classics. The boot cut jean is a very recent “classic,” as is the skinny jean. However a basic straight jean in a dark wash is always chic, always classic, and flattering on a large portion of female forms.

If you don’t know what jean silhouette works for your body, consider checking out the silhouettes that have been around more than a season or two. Levi’s 501s are style classics and have a more streamlined silhouette than many bootcuts, so they give the illusion of a skinnier jean without revisiting the ‘80s. The Gap’s Long and Lean jean has been a shopper’s fave for years and it’s clear why – the slight bootcut, the bit of stretch, the size of the pockets and the hem really lengthen and lean out a woman’s figure. Brands like Seven, Joe’s, J Brand, and True Religion have been popular because of little details that flatter a woman’s figure – it may be the dipped front waist, the angle of the back pockets, the slightly turned side stitching. Try on several brands, one person’s fave may be another’s figure destroyer. But often times the popular brands are popular because they are more universally flattering.

Good luck, and happy shopping!

Ask Allie: All About Undergarments

I really like how you look in the Lands End green dress, but it looks skimmy and I’m wondering if you have some undergarment suggestions. I usually have to wear some kind of bike shorts type thing (ah, chafing!) under dresses and skirts. However, the kinds I have often have the subsequent problem of waistband lines and bulges. Help?

Under my Lands’ End dress I wear these briefs from DKNY – they control enough without constricting and give a nice smooth line.  Bike shorts are nice on hot sweaty days but they do show with this dress.  I find if I slather my thighs with Body Shop’s Body Butter (my fave is Coconut), I can get through a work day or low-walking day without chafing.

Am I the only person who sweats DOWN THERE in the heat? Sometimes I get up from a seat and see an imprint of my butt and I am soggy after a walk in the summer. Is there a product to fix this?

Nope, you’re not the only one. I often do a swipe of deodorant at my tailbone to prevent sweat from dripping down there, but I have never seen a product specifically for this. I feel that it needs to breathe, and while a “soggy” crotch may not be appealing, it’s better than clogging pores, stopping the body from flushing out bacteria, and all that jazz.

I recently tried Knockout Panties and think they are great for this issue. The crotch is 100% cotton and wicks away moisture, it also has odor-absorbing molecules. All this and they are relatively cute too. I have the Lacy Brief which is high enough to prevent a waistline in fitted skirts, has no VPL, and stay in place all day while keeping “down there” feeling dry and comfortable.

I hate having my bra show through tee shirts and you never seem to have that problem. What Tshirt bra do you wear?

I wear the Fantasie Moulded Smoothing T-shirt Bra – I have one in nude and one in black. Gives a good shape and is virtually invisible under knits, even white ones!  You can read about how I chose these bras here.

Do you have any recs for nursing bras? Feel free to direct me to the blog as I am sure you may have written about this.

My favorite nursing bras were from the brand Anita, which you can find at Nordstrom and many online bra boutiques. Some don’t like them because they are underwire and can supposedly affect milk production, but I never had that issue. I liked that they looked like normal bras, had a shape that didn’t have them show with v-cut and lower neck tops, and actually supported and defined my breasts instead of smooshing them into one lump. They aren’t cheap, but I know you can find them online for decent prices; also check eBay where I sold mine after I finished nursing and saw many more for sale in almost-new condition.

And I have written about nursing bras here:

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Ask Allie: Holiday Gift Advice

Dear Allie, I was wondering if you could help me, my best friend is really fashionable and I have no clue what to get her as a present. I was thinking you may be able to help me and suggest some gifts that fashionable women would like thank you.

I must admit it’s hard to buy someone a  “fashionable” gift. What is considered fashionable to one may be seen as tacky or against their personal style to another. We fashionistas are usually pretty self-sufficient folk and buy that which we desire or need to complete our personal style.  However, it’s sweet to buy a gift that shows you listen to and know your loved one.

I find luxury or pampering gifts to be good choices for fashionistas -a pair of leather gloves in a signature color, a fancy candle, a pashmina or scarf.  Also accessories are great that don’t have to be part of an ensemble – makeup bags and glasses cases in unique textiles or prints, monogrammed or personalized pieces, a winter scarf or earmuffs.  Fashion books are always a great choice, as are pieces from designer collections for non-fashion brands (Rodarte for Starbucks, Target + Neiman Marcus Holiday Collection, etc.).  I also recommend checking out the gift guides on other blogs – while I don’t do gift guides, most other fashion bloggers do and have their finger on the pulse of small, unique, and fashionable gifts.

Essentially, you want to get something that shows you know your friend and respect her passion, but doesn’t force her to sacrifice her style to wear it.  Think in terms of accents instead of the main dish, and you can’t really go wrong. 

My new husband has five nieces and nephews ranging in age from 2 – 8, any suggestions on a good Christmas gift for them? I’m at a loss and haven’t met most of them.

Books. You can’t go wrong with books. While a gift of books won’t give you the title of Coolest Aunt on the Planet, it will be used, enjoyed, and won’t get you dirty looks from their parents. As a parent, I am thrilled for any gift that doesn’t make noise, isn’t plastic, and doesn’t eat batteries. And as a parent, I know how quickly Emerson goes through books and a fresh story is always welcome.  A great thing about gifts for little kids is that even if it’s a duplicate it will be welcomed – kids up to five can trash books, and I know I love having second copies of Emerson’s favorites in the car or my mom’s house.  As for finding appropriate books for the age group, ask your local bookstore staff, or check out the Listmania on Amazon.

Joel D. Smith, my friend since college and now a newscaster in Baltimore recently wrote a children’s book called Santa’s Secret Deal, and it’s a great gift for kids. Joel’s book is about AnTas, an elf who gets upset over kids throwing their toys around and not respecting them. The story is engaging enough that Emerson made me read it to her for over seven nights in a row, with adorable cartoons and rhymes that stick with you. Not only that, there’s a pact at the end that one can do with the book recipient, making it personal and interactive. This book would be great for kids ages four and up. Santa’s Secret Deal is available on the book’s website (allow at least a week for delivery), many national and Baltimore book stores; the eBook version is available via Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

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Ask Allie: All About Me

I have received a lot of emails and comments lately asking about me instead of fashion – figured I’d cover a bunch of them in one single post. Enjoy!

Just wondering -are you still doing Weight Watchers? I miss the updates.

Yes, I am still doing Weight Watchers… sort of. Life has gotten really hectic lately so I am lucky to attend one meeting a month and find myself not sticking to the plan 7 days a week. However I really need to get back on track and you should start seeing updates again come April!

I think I know but I’ll ask. What do you think about males wearing jeans so baggy that the crotch is nearly to their knees? I see this style not only on teenaged boys but also on ‘adult’ men. At least they’re adult age!

I don’t find this trend flattering at all, but then when I was 17, I wore some darn unflattering trends and found “adults” who also rocked this look to be very cool. I don’t know why it has gained popularity (now it’s with skinny jeans when before it was just with baggy), I find the bum to be a very attractive part on a man’s body and hate when it’s destroyed by an unflattering trouser.

I have been reading you for years, since you worked for [previous employer]. I love you, and I will always love you and your blog but lately I have found your personal style to be a bit crazy, veering on clown-like. Don’t you feel that all these wild colors go against your mantra? Do you really think hot pink cropped jeans are “quality instead of quantity”??

While I do suggest a list of wardrobe staples that are primarily black, I regularly state that color is important in one’s wardrobe. I also believe in personal style, which means wearing that which feels right to you as an individual and properly expresses you and your personality. My life has changed quite a lot over the past few years, and I believe I am a happier and more confident individual than I was in 2005. My writing style has changed, and my personal style has changed and I think this is a normal occurrence for any individual. While wardrobe staples can remain the same for years – even decades, I believe one’s wardrobe should change as the owner changes with life experiences.

While hot pink cropped jeans may not be a classic wardrobe choice, they are made by a quality brand, are in a color I have loved for eons, and feel that they will get a lot of wear in the next year and can easily transition in different ways as the trends change. Thank you for being a loyal reader, and reminding me of how much I have grown in the past five years!

I love your blog. I find it really useful and inspiring. Like you I am a ‘skirt’ and ‘dress’ person and have enjoyed seeing how you put your outfits together. I was wondering however if you could give some insight on what you wear at the weekend or for casual occasions.

I am slowly working on getting my blog to be easier to navigate; I have recently made a tag for all weekend ensembles, will continue to update it, and hope to have links in my sidebar in the near future to better organize my outfit posts. Thanks for the push to get this done sooner rather than later!

Alison, why don’t you wear your hair curly more often? It’s far prettier when curly.

I too love my hair curly, but being a busy woman, straight hair takes less time and holds up better the second day. To get my hair to look actually curly or wavy requires several steps and about an hour each morning, and having my hair straight can be done in 10 minutes (and five minutes on Day 2). Don’t be surprised if you see it curly more often come summer – air drying and humidity are kind to my tresses and often make my hair look good with minimal manipulation!

Alison, no offense but what’s up with all the stripes? You must own 50 different striped shirts and they aren’t the most flattering choice for a woman with big breasts.

I love stripes so much, even my daughter wears them!

Stripes are classic, stripes can dress up for work or dress down for weekends, stripes add variety to a wardrobe of primarily solid pieces, and striped tees are a budget-friendly way to wear a popular trend. There are different sizes of stripes, I usually choose ones that have more white than dark, and have wide-spaced stripes. I find this combination is more flattering to curves than evenly-spaced or narrow stripes.

Are you going to Bonnaroo again this year?

 Bonnaroo 2011 – Allie sans makeup & in desperate need of a hot shower!

Nope, I will miss Bonnaroo terribly, but my husband and I are ready for a change. I just can’t do GA again, and VIP tickets are pretty pricey. This year we will be attending the Forecastle Festival in Louisville, KY. One of our favorite bands is My Morning Jacket, and this is a festival in a city I haven’t visited since college. Also we’ll be staying in a hotel instead of camping which is REALLY appealing to this 37-year old body!

This might be an odd question…but, how do you find cute at/right above the knee skirts? I know you are in the 5’3ish range, so only a couple of inches taller than me, but unless I buy a mini, knee length skirts are always below the knee on me. Is this from shopping in the petites? Or do you tailor?

99% of my skirts are petite – right now I am a 12 petite, though some 10s fit me better. A few brands work for me in regular sizes, but pencils are so figure-hugging that petite makes the hips and rear area show up in the right place.

A couple of my skirts are purposely not petite – at first thought I think of my a-line minis from Ann Taylor (beige, orange, leather). Since I am short and these skirts have a straighter line to them, a regular length makes them more work-appropriate without losing proper fit.

I often see you without your wedding ring. Everything okay with Mr. Allie?

Oh yes, things with “Mr. Allie” are better than ever! I got my eyes from my dad… and also his metal allergy. While I have less sensitivity to platinum than I do other metals, when my skin is very dry or I am battling other allergies, even my wedding set causes major irritation. As I have gotten older I have more issues with this allergy – you’ll see I wear earrings less often than I used to, don’t wear any costume rings, and don’t wear necklaces and bracelets for more than 10 hours or so.

What do you think about tattoos?

I have one, I designed it myself and while I don’t think the artist did the best job with it, I love it and am happy I got it.

I am writing to you to thank you for the inspiration and to ask you for tips on blogging. Also, how does one get traffic to come to the blog? Any advice would be appreciated.

I am the worst to ask how to get traffic to a blog – I started this blog as just a place to write down my thoughts and my audience has grown pretty organically. Don’t write for traffic, write first for yourself. Have a consistent voice, write with quality and not quantity. Have a simple looking blog so the content can take center stage. Be part of the blogging community – read other blogs and leave real comments (no “I love your blog here’s a link to mine” – that’s seen as poor blogging etiquette). Offer your reader multiple ways to access your content – the blog, Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, BlogLovin, etc. Blog regularly. Blog as if no one is watching. Be original, and be real.

Who is your style icon?

 Me with my mom and sister

My mom. She knows her personal style, and her figure and knows how to dress it. She keeps up with current trends and knows how to infuse those she likes without looking like a fashion victim. She has fun with color and fun with fashion.

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Ask Allie: Capsule Wardrobe of Neutrals

Allie, I love your capsules but I don’t wear color like you and your series. My signature style is shades of cream, black, gray, tan, and ivory. Could you do a capsule of neutrals?

I am in love with the idea of capsule wardrobes. However I’m terrible at choosing pieces that mix and match in interesting ways. Do you have any tips on choosing versatile pieces and building a small wardrobe that does a lot? And/or do you have any capsule wardrobes WITHOUT skirts?

I work in an office where it’s smart business casual, blouses and jackets and cardigans with pants and skirts and ‘nice’ denim allowed on Fridays. I feel my closet is a big mess of super casual, super dressy, and nothing in between and my coworkers are a stylish bunch. Any advice on how to get my work wardrobe on track?

I don’t wear skirts, but I have a feminine personal style. Any suggestions on a capsule wardrobe that will embrace both my inner Emma Pillsbury and my inner Ellen DeGeneres?

The past couple of months I have been gravitating towards more monochromatic ensembles, focusing more on shape and texture. So when I saw these questions in my comment box, I got excited to have reason to make a more neutral capsule!

For this capsule, I was thinking of a woman who works in an office that doesn’t necessarily expect suits every day, but to be more polished than chinos and a knit top. Embracing the “Emma Pillsbury meets Ellen DeGeneres” vibe, I mixed clean lines and classic separates with pussy bows, peplums, and other feminine touches.

Over 30 Possible Combinations

When many think neutrals, they feel they MUST have certain colors of trousers – black, gray, and camel. Thing is, these are great neutrals, but they aren’t always the most versatile. Over the years, I have seen the value of a pair of ivory or French vanilla trousers. They are amazingly versatile and don’t make you look any larger than gray or camel. Paired with black, it’s crisp and modern, but ivory looks great with colors as well as other neutrals like white, gray, tan, and olive.

A tweed or glen plaid trouser is also extremely versatile and adds a bit of interest to an ensemble made of neutrals. Mixing a more traditional menswear fabric with a pleated silk blouse or feminine leopard sweater always looks polished and chic.

You can keep a wardrobe neutral without making it boring by choosing accessories with polish and a bit of interest. While many fashion magazines will encourage pops of color (and you all know how much I love a pop of color), you can also accessorize neutrals with more neutral. A scarf with a soft print, a snakeskin shoe, a leopard haircalf skinny belt, a unique looking wedge boot – such pieces will take neutral separates and pull them into a cohesive and chic capsule.

The best part of neutrals is that quality separates can be found at most any pricepoint. I have a great black gabardine sheath I found at Target for $30, my favorite ivory trousers were found on the Ann Taylor clearance rack for less than $40. Neutrals are regularly on sale, and can better hide cheaper manufacturing. However, neutrals need to have great fit to keep them from looking dowdy – there’s nothing wrong with taking a $5 clearance rack or thrift store find to the tailor and spend an extra $20 to make it look like a million bucks.

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Ask Allie: Vegan Shoes with Style

I don’t wear leather and would love to find cute shoes that are cruelty-free.
Allie, would you please do a piece on vegan shoes? I don’t wear or use animal products and have a hard time finding shoes that are stylish and vegan. Do you know where I should look?
Have you considered a ‘Going Green’ post on cruelty-free fashion? I’d particularly be interested in footwear, thank you.

You ask, I answer! While I do wear leather, I know not everyone does and I respect that. I also am thrilled to see that over the years there are more brands who provide shoes that are not only cruelty-free, but are also quite stylish! Here’s a few companies I have found recently that offer fun, fashionable, and vegan footwear:

Click here for details on the shoes in the image

Moo Shoes
Moo Shoes is a vegan-owned business that sells an assortment of cruelty-free footwear, bags, tees, and other accessories. While they have an online boutique, they also have a shop in New York City. Moo Shoes carries everything from the vegan versions of Doc Martens to cruelty-free running shoes, to sexy high-heeled boots and heels. I love the nail head detail on ‘Jordan’ pump from Novacas, the ‘Angela’ strappy heel or the ‘Cassandra’ peeptoe (both from Klub Nico) would be perfect for every wedding and holiday party on your calendar, and the ‘Expoze’ wedge from Madden Girl is hot hot hot (you know I am partial to the leopard print version)!

While LuLu’s is not a cruelty-free retailer, they do have a surprisingly large and stylish selection of vegan shoes on their site. If you want the craziest and most popular footwear trends made from vegan products, this is your site. Wedges, platforms, booties, stilettos and more! The Qupid Luxe ‘Spirite’ heels are utterly awesome and I want them in my closet right away, the City Classified ‘Kodey’ flats let you have your cake and eat it too with an adorable Dalmatian print in cruelty-free materials, and the Mixx ‘Laura’ pump is begging for a night out on the town (or a fabulous New Years’ Eve bash).

Olsenhaus was founded by Elizabeth Olsen; her mission was to merge passions for design, fashion, function and being a voice for animals, the environment, transparent business practices and unwavering values in ethical and social responsibilities.  Her shoes are cruelty-free and utterly gorgeous.  I love the ‘Tahiti’ which is a blend of bootie and sandal, a neutral base with a pop of color that is unexpectedly versatile.  Get your boot fix with the ‘Beauty’ over-the-knee style which comes in a delicious indigo microfiber made from recycled TV screens. ‘Andromeda’ is a perfect bootie for fall, with the hidden wedge and clean lines it’s on trend and versatile enough to look great with pants and skirts.

Vegan Chic
Vegan Chic offers just what their name states – chic shoes, bags, and accessories that are vegan. They carry many popular vegan brands, including the previously mentioned Olsenhaus.  I love the ‘Oracle’ from Olsenhaus which is sleek, modern, and terribly chic, the Mary Jane from Pavilion is the perfect pair for the collegiate chic trends this fall, and the Spring Vegan Bootie takes a style that is very popular right now but offers it in a cruelty-free fabric.

Every shoe Neuaura sells is 100% vegan.  Neuaura never sells items with leather, fur, silk, wool, shell, or pearls, no animal by-products are ever used during manufacturing and/or finishing processes.  Not only that, they have a great selection of very chic and elegant footwear.  I love the ‘Aster’ oxford, which is unique with it’s variety of colors and cut-outs, but right on trend for this fall.  The ELM’ pump is the perfect classic pumps for everything from interviews to cocktail parties and has a fabulous pointed toe to elongate the leg.  And I love the rock and roll vibe of the ‘Ibis’ Mary Jane, which would look smashing with everything from a little black dress to distressed boyfriend jeans.

And now I ask you readers, do you look for vegan shoes and accessories? Where have you found fashionable cruelty-free footwear?

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Ask Allie: Comfy and Stylish Shoes

I have previously written about comfortable and stylish shoes, but each season new styles come out and readers come to be with new needs.

Dear Allie: I am at a loss w/ regards to finding cute but comfy everyday shoes- I am not a tennis shoe person. Most cute flats really aren’t supportive enough to walk around in while carrying a baby, etc. I am ashamed that I love my Crocs- but now that I am no longer pregnant and my daughter is not a newborn I feel there is no excuse for me to wear them anywhere than around the house, in the rain, etc… What are cute, supportive yet somewhat attractive shoes I can wear all of the time?

Dear Allie: I’m sorry, but I just can’t wear pumps. I am a BBW and I love to look stylish for work, but anything over a 2” heel is murder on my feet, my knees, my hips. Also my workplace is the government and pretty conservative. However I don’t want to wear granny shoes and I agree with you – us BBW look stupid and top-heavy in ballet flats (not like they have support any way). Where can I find comfortable work shoes that will work all day?

Dear Allie: You rarely mention animal-friendly or eco-friendly options for footwear. I believe you are a vegetarian so this surprises me. Would you let your readers know about some shoes that are vegan and kind to the earth? There are many comfortable and fashionable styles available.

Allie – I was hoping I might ask you a question about shoes for wide feet? My feet are wider than most womens across the toes and I really struggle to find quality shoes that are also comfortable and don’t leave my poor toes screaming for mercy by the end of the day. Do you happen to know of any good brands of shoes for girls with wide feet??

Hope these options will assist many of you in finding comfortable, well-made shoes that will care for your feet and your personal needs. I usually try to find low-cost options for my suggestions; many of these are over my standard $100 price point. The reason is your feet are the hardest working part of your body, and it’s near impossible to find comfortable, supportive, well-made shoes at bargain bin prices. I am all for checking out outlets for these brands, but I do stand behind my belief that shoes are something you should spend money on. A couple pairs that are good to you will last you for years and be very worth your money.

It really is possibly to find shoes that are friendly to animals and the environment while being comfortable and cute.

Simple is a brand that marries all of these with some terrific footwear. Their Women’s Jumper Certified Leather Mary Jane is made for walking with a technologically-advanced foot bed, plenty of arch support, and a cushy sole that will deflect hard and bumpy surfaces. The classic style will work with skirts, shorts and pants easily and can be worn through most any season. In brown, black and merlot red.

Earth carries many vegan shoes that are comfortable and cute. The Inhale is a casual flat with breathable microfibers and mesh uppers that will keep your feet cool and comfortable. They have included Negative Heel ™ technology which helps keep your body properly aligned, and it contains an anatomic shock-absorbing foot bed. In black.

You may have to walk many city blocks or fight public transportation for your commute, but that doesn’t mean you have to wear clunky clogs or corny Crocs to keep your feet happy. There are many shoes out there that are sleek, professional, suit-worthy and still kind to your tootsies.

ECCO is a company that makes well-made, supportive shoes in classic styles. The silhouettes are feminine and elegant while still considering foot health. Podiatrists often say a bit of a heel is actually healthier for the foot arch than a completely flat shoe. The Durango pump by ECCO has a wedge heel which distributes weight, eliminating hot spots on the bottom of the foot. Rounded toe gives plenty of room, and the subtle details make it elegant and a great choice with skirts or trousers. Available in black or whiskey.

Aerosoles is a great company that offers comfortable styles, many widths and sizes, yet has professional and stylish choices. The Ballistic slip-on is a classic office style with a low wedge heel, elegant hardware detail, and a nice range of colors that will add pizzazz to any conservative office attire. In black, tan, gray or dark red.

The Princess suede pump from Perlina is stylish, feminine, in fun colors and so nice to your feet. Shock absorbing outsole, leather sock lining wicks away moisture and allows the shoe to mold to the natural contours of the foot, and cushioned, leather-lined foot bed features latex foam padding for extended wear. In black, blue, brown, graphite, burgundy and pistachio suede.

Looking for a way to merge current trends and happy feet? There are many brands out there that slightly modify the trends so that they can be a podiatrist’s fave.

Dansko is known for having comfortable, well-made shoes that last for years. They also have really brought on some hip styles over the past few seasons. The Delilah Boot takes the current riding boot trend and makes it comfortable and supportive. Podiatrist-friendly heel height, flexible sole and removable leather foot bed adds to comfort. Available in black or chocolate.

Get on the Mad Men trend with these lady-like pumps with vintage styling from Sofft. The Kensington pump has a healthy heel height, rounded toe for tootsie freedom, and a cushioned foot bed. Available in black, brown, caramel and a gorgeous blue.

Booties and heeled oxfords continue to be the rage this season; Aerosoles has created their version of this trend with an extra cushioned foot bed and flexible rubber sole. Available in green, black, dark red and light brown.

You need a shoe that can work with jeans, with pants, for the office or the market. Every day is different, and you just don’t have the time or the budget to have a footwear collection that is equally as varied. No problem, there are some wonderful styles out there that will work with all sorts of attire, lifestyles and seasons.

ECCO has created a perennial favorite with their Bouillon Mary Jane. Feminine styling, yet having a rugged and flexible sole that can take miles of walking. The classic look works with jeans, capris, shorts, skirts and more. Always available in black leather, each season they offer more creative of choices such as silver, black patent or red.

I cannot stress the benefits of having a simple city boot in your wardrobe. They are easy to pull on with any pants or jeans, you don’t have to worry about what hosiery to wear, they keep your foot protected from the elements, are easy to polish up or re-heel to look fresh each year, and a simple cut will be stylish for years to come. The Blind Sight boot from Aerosoles fits the bill with sleek styling, a square toe to give toes room to move, foot-friendly heel height and width, and extra cushioned foot bed. In brown or black.

As a woman with wide feet, I can relate to this problem. As styles get more pointy, high, and snubbed, feet often get squashed. Here’s some great styles and companies that pamper the wider foot.

DUO, a company I adore for custom-width boots also has an extensive line of shoes in wider widths. I adore the Nicole – a wide-fitting low profile pump that comes in black suede or a flirty animal print. Cushioned insole and low heel makes this style chic yet utterly wearable all day. Check out their other styles, there are many to choose from that have wider widths than most brands. Unsure about your size? Contact their customer service to ensure you are getting exactly what you and your tootsies need.

Naturalizer comes in Narrow, Regular, Wide and Double Wide widths for their shoes. Looking at a size 8, I found 12 styles available in WW, one being the Creston Flat. This is a shoe I personally own and adore because it is wide, comfortable, flexible and low-profile. I wear these when assisting my husband on long photo shoots and when day tripping through city streets and museums. Available in red, camelot (camel) and tootsie roll (dark brown).

Ruby & Bloom is a company that offers current styles in Narrow, Regular and Wide widths. The Corrina pump has perforated contrast trim that gives a stylish spectator style, a stacked heel helps with weight distribution, and its height is all-day wearable. In black/dark brown, black/merlot, and black/gray.

Fitzwell is a company known for their extensive sizes (goes up to 12) and roomy wide width. Dozens of their styles are available on Zappos, but I really like the Rayna II wedge. A comfortable height of 2.5″, a wedge heel that helps distribute weight better, and a feminine silhouette. Available in black or brown leather, black, wine, or grey suede.

You may also wish to visit:
The Commuter Curse
Comfort and Style CAN Live Together in Harmony

Ask Allie: Finding The Perfect Pump

Hi Allie, I’m looking for a comfortable matte black pump. Something with a heel that isn’t TOO high or TOO low (but just right, like Goldilocks, LOL). I might be in my 50s, but I don’t want a shoe that makes me look older, nor can I wear 3″ heels. Any suggestions?

Ah shoe shopping – can be so much fun or can be so frustrating!  Since I am a busy working mom, I do the majority of my shopping online, and that includes shoes.  While answering your question, I will also give you a peek into how I find shoes online:

I love shopping Nordstrom online for shoes – not only do they have free shipping and free returns and no time limit for those returns, they also have a search-friendly site and a boatload of customer reviews. On, I went to Women, Women’s Shoes, then chose Pumps, and then chose less than a 3” heel. From there, I could narrow to just black and found:

I have this shoe in a higher heel and find them wearable all day. They are comfortable, classic, and not at all frumpy. Not only that, you get all this for less than $100!

Reviews say they run a hair large, but are cushioned and comfortable. The wide heel will keep you feeling stable, but the touch of gold keeps these pumps from looking frumpy or boring.

In a similar sleek silhouette as the “Flex,” this is a pump that will stay stylish for many seasons to come. Reviews say it runs a hair narrow, but one said she was able to wear them straight out of the box without a single blister!

Next stop was ShopStyle, where I clicked on Shoes, then Pumps, then narrowed by color, and then narrowed it to shoes under $250. You can also narrow by size, price, and if the shoes are on sale. While ShopStyle can be utterly overwhelming (without size I had 426 pages of black pumps), it covers more than one retailer online. In just the first 20 pages I found:

Naturalizer shoes are known for comfort, and these pumps have a N5 Comfort system footbed, which provides cushioning, support, and shock absorption with each step. Since these are available via Zappos, you have their free shipping and return policy, and over 20 detailed reviews from customers that can help you decide if these are a worthy purchase.

I have a couple pairs of shoes from Fitzwell and find them to be well made and very comfortable. Their heel is strategically placed to be the most supportive and to balance the foot. These shoes are on Amazon and sold by size, so if this isn’t your size, search the site for another listing. $89, eligible for Prime shipping and free returns!

Unfortunately since it’s via Loehman’s there’s not a lot of information on this shoe, just a great price of $69.99. However I did a bit of Googling and found that people find Tahari shoes to be very comfortable, yet occasionally run a hair long or narrow.

Finally I went to Zappos. While Zappos is known for their extensive selection, I often have a hard time weeding out decent shoes from all the crap or designer pieces. Usually they are my second or third destination, once I got a lay of the footwear land at other sites. Zappos is however, a place I regularly search for reviews of shoes – if I find the shoes I like at one retailer but don’t have enough information on them, I will check Zappos, and if Zappos has a competitive price, I will likely purchase from there. Here, I clicked on shoes, then heels, then pumps, black, and all styles under 3” heel that are under $200. You could further narrow the selection by size, width, fabric, and even occasion. Even with all my details, I still had 244 shoes to choose from. A couple nice ones:

This shoe gets mixed reviews, some saying the toebox is too short or stiff, but others finding the shoe to be perfection. The slight platform makes them look modern and also offsets the heel height, the shoe has an Adidas adiPRENE® heel and Adidas adiPRENE®+ forefoot cushioning which absorbs shock and enhances natural motion. All this for $110.

I have a pair of the Cole Haan Air series shoes, and find them to be stylish, well made, quality materials, and far more comfortable than standard shoes of a similar style. Cole Haan’s Air series has concealed NIKE AIR® technology which makes the shoe more comfortable for long days. One reviewer states they were transformed into Audrey Hepburn upon wearing these shoes – sounds pretty stylish to me!

Always nice to find a shoe that is available in a variety of widths! Vignotti shoes are trendy silhouettes rooted in classic, timeless designs. Cushioned footbed for additional comfort, and positive reviews from readers make these a good shoe to consider.

Finally, if I know a brand or style fits, I will search for the lowest price while still having a great return/exchange policy.  I will go directly to sites like who have great customer service and prices that can’t be beat.  I’ll also check eBay, and even have a few alerts set up for certain styles that I know I want.  Finally, I will Google a shoe brand and name or style number and see what pops up – sometimes they will be cheap at a site like Endless, Amazon, or Overstock, and sometimes I will even find bloggers who are selling the exact shoe I want in a “Shop My Closet” site.  Point is, don’t stick to one style of search, it is possible to find fabulous shoes that fit and flatter not only your body but also your wallet!

Note: Though shoes may be seen in patent, all styles shown are available in classic and versatile matte black leather.  I just had a hard time finding decent-sized pics for all!

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Ask Allie: Purses, Bags, and Totes

Dear Allie,
I don’t go out a lot, but each time I do I wish I had something other than my big day purse to take with me. What would be a good choice of bag that I can have for when I get invited to a bachelorette party or a wedding or my husband’s office Christmas party?

To have a bag that works for all those situations and to span seasons (and years) you will need to either go very simple, or choose something really unique.

As soon as I read your email, I thought of my patchwork clutch from Novica. It’s a mix of cotton and leather and it contains most every color in the rainbow. The bag is so unique and eye-catching it can dress up and down pretty easily – I have paired it with a LBD, and as you see in this post, wore it with a chambray shirt and wool skirt. A clutch is a smart choice because it’s a more timeless silhouette – bag shapes and sizes come and go but clutches have maintained popularity over the past decade and will continue to be popular and stylish.

Nicole Ritchie shows how a snakeskin bag can work with all sorts of colors and styles

Something out of snakeskin or leather (real or a quality faux) is a classic choice and will hold up over the years; however don’t rule out an unexpected finish. A twill or canvas bag with beading or feather detail can often be just as versatile. If there is a variety of colors, a print, or a statement color, you can have it work with most anything (even if the color of your dress is not in the bag).

If you would like something more classic, you can’t go wrong with a soft black leather clutch. Classic size (around a foot to 18” in length and slim) and silhouette (pouch or envelope). The leather should be soft, buttery, no funky glazes, no flashy details. This is the type of bag you can wear today and 20 years from today. You may have to pay more to find such a bag (or search vintage boutiques), but it will be a wardrobe staple for a lifetime.

Hi Allie–
I was advised by my physical therapist to consider wearing a cross-body bag, rather than a bag with a shoulder strap (to help with my neck/shoulder problems). However, I’m busty and feel uncomfortable with the ‘boobage issue’ created with a cross body strap. Any thoughts on how best to work with a cross-body bag?

Like you, I shied away from cross-body bags for years because of my large bust. They always seemed to accentuate them, falling right between the breasts, often pushing them to the side. However, once I became a city commuter, I realized how very necessary they can be. Now I have several cross-body bags in my collection. A few tips:

Be picky about the strap. My Brahmin handbag can be carried in my hand, worn as a shoulder bag, or the strap lengthened to become a cross-body. More often than not, it is worn across my body when I go to work so I can have hands free to hold onto a support bar on the Metro, read the paper, or hold a cup of coffee. The reason this bag works so well is because it is very narrow (about a half an inch), yet extremely sturdy (no chance of it breaking or cutting into my neck). The combination of narrow yet thick/sturdy helps with comfort… and it also helps with the ‘boobage’ issue by being too stiff to really slide between and under the breasts.

For smaller cross-body bags (I like to use these when going to concerts and festivals), I go the opposite route with a very lightweight strap. By being so lightweight of a bag and strap, it doesn’t fall between the breasts causing separation.

Reese Witherspoon in a Crossbody Bag

For a large heavy bag (daypacker, to carry your laptop), there are bags made with an usually wide strap which ends up working more like a sash across your body.

Adjust the strap. Sometimes one inch can make all the difference with a crossbody destroying the line of your figure. Look for an adjustable-strap bag so you can play in front of the mirror to find the perfect length for your body. For me, I find a longer strap (bag hitting lower on the hip) works better with my bust if the bag is heavy and large; I will do a shorter strap for smaller crossbodies.

Minimize. A big problem with current handbags is the size – the larger a bag, the heavier it will be, and the more room to hold everything except the kitchen sink. The heavier the bag, the more likely it will divide your body.

Look for the absolute smallest bag you can handle – if you need a bag to carry your laptop or iPad, find a slimline style to minimize bulk. If you don’t need a bag to carry your electronics, shrink the size all together. Seriously look over your bag contents – do you really need 5 lipsticks, 2 paperback novels, and that travel umbrella even though there isn’t rain on the horizon for weeks? I find it’s easier to organize and pare down when I keep my bag contents in smaller bags – one for cosmetics, one for purse essentials such as safety pins and gum, my wallet, and then my phone etc. When it is already compartmentalized it’s harder to justify a random addition.

Hi, Allie!
I have recently started a new job in the finance industry at a more “corporate” location as opposed to “business casual.” With my new position my manager wants me to bring my work laptop home with me each day. I have been carrying both my purse and small laptop bag each day, along with a water bottle, and if I pack my lunch a lunch bag. I’m looking into consolidating it all into just one bag. Do you think it would be better to get a laptop/tote bag with a padded section for the laptop and carry all my necessities in it, or should I get a basic work tote that would be large enough for all my stuff and buy sleeve to protect my laptop? Do you have any suggestions for a work bag that would accommodate carrying a laptop daily?

I guess it depends on you and your lifestyle. I personally have a laptop bag that I use for everything when I need to carry my laptop. My work laptop is pretty large and integral to me being productive at work, so I have chosen to have a bag that best supports and protects it. It’s not glamorous – it’s black microfiber and clunky, but it keeps my bag safe and looks professional for onsite client meetings.

If I had a smaller standard-size work laptop, I would consider a sleeve, but the problem is that a sleeve can slide around in a non-structured bag, making it feel heavy and clunky and possibly stretching out your purse. I have carried my netbook in a sleeve in my structured leather J. Crew tote – the netbook and sleeve fit perfectly in the large center zipper compartment leaving plenty of space for my personal purse contents. I can then slip out the netbook and carry a lighter bag to after-work events or a lunch meeting.

As for your lunch… it may be hard to find a bag that can carry that and everything else. My laptop bag is the size of a piece of carryon luggage and I still can’t seem to fit more than a Lean Cuisine in there, and if I do I don’t have room for a water bottle. With all the padding to protect your laptop, it becomes hard to carry everything in one without dragging around a bag the size of a small child. It may less cumbersome to just carry your lunch separately.

Before you decide you need to consider:

  • The size of your laptop – is it standard (meaning it’s easy to find a sleeve and easy for it and the sleeve to fit in a standard-size bag)
  • How often you need to carry your bag sans laptop (lunch or client meetings, after-work events where you can slip your laptop in the trunk of your car, etc.)
  • How much walking will you be doing – would it be more practical to get a rolling laptop bag? I know my laptop with it’s cord and extra-large battery is ridiculously heavy and I have considered getting a rolling bag to transport it and all my other essentials. With such a bag, also carrying your lunch wouldn’t be an issue.

A few laptop bags I have seen that are stylish while being professional:

The MobilEdge Milano Tote

MobilEdge Milano Tote – This bag holds a lot without looking bulky or as though it was purchased at REI. Online reviews state the faux croco finish looks quite nice and expensive in person. The strap is long enough to fit over your shoulder even while wearing a winter coat. While the version I link to fits a 17” laptop, there are other retailers (like this one) who have the same bag for a 15” laptop. This is regularly rated as a top choice for professional women (if you like it, Google it to find the best price as it is available on a variety of online shops).

McKlein “Deerfield” Laptop Tote – A very sleek modern look, Italian leather, and a variety of amazing colors makes this 17” laptop bag a winner. Special compartments for business cards and pens, while still having room for essentials such as a wallet, cosmetic bag, and bottle of water. The dark red would be quite elegant with classic gray and black suiting, while the choice of other colors could be a fun choice for more creative offices.

Piel Multi-Pocket Laptop Tote – This one even has a side pocket specifically for a water bottle! This bag gets rave reviews from business travelers which means it would have all the space and organization for one who wants to use this in place of a separate purse. Available in classic brown, black and cognac as well as a few subtle shades that would also work in most professional settings.

Royce Leather Cosmopolitan Computer Brief – Very simple style, tons of pockets for all your essentials, and a size to fit most standard-size laptops. While black is a safe bet, I really like the red to add a conservative pop of color to a corporate wardrobe.

While there are thousands of different types of bags out there, I chose ones that were pretty conservative in silhouette and made to be primarily a laptop bag. If you find that a sleeve or a rolling bag is more appropriate for your needs, do check out these sites that have a great variety of bags:

  • eBags – a fave of mine because of the extensive customer reviews
  • Kolobags – amazing variety of fashionable bags designed for laptops and other technology
  • McKlein USA – laptop bags specifically designed for women
  • – quite a large selection of work-appropriate laptop bags
  • – I have a laptop bag from there that I got at 75% less than a similar (and same brand) bag at Macy’s. If you know what you want, this site is worth a gander.

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Ask Allie: Staying Organized

I noticed you have a paper calendar as well as a smartphone in your tote bag. How do you organize your to- dos (both work and home) and your appointments using both? I go back and forth between paper and digital and can’t seem to find a good fit, I’d love to know how someone else does it. Thanks! (Oh, and I am a big list maker!)

Once Emerson was on the scene, Karl and I realized we needed a way to synchronize our schedules. No longer would a post-it note or text work, we had a human being who needed at least one of us 24/7. And with my day job, his freelance photography, and my blog, our life was like a game of Tetris. Once Emerson was old enough for dance classes and play dates it got insane.

Everywhere I read recommended Google Calendar for families.  So one weekend I set it up and added the times for all our classes, meetings, after-work events with my personal Gmail email and Karl’s Gmail email. I forgot that brands I work with send Google Calendar invites to my Wardrobe Oxygen email, so I had to include that one too. I then had my phone show things from both my work Outlook calendar and Google calendar. Thing is, Karl doesn’t love being attached to his phone and doesn’t sit at a computer all day like me so when he had appointments, he’d email them to me and I entered them. On top of that, like you I am a list maker. I often make bullets of what to discuss on a call or list of what to take for an event and I couldn’t easily access them or update them with everything on my phone. This was not saving us time or keeping us more organized.

I went back to my paper planner and was much happier. Our front door is steel, and it became Command Central, with magnets holding post-it note reminders, appointment cards, and such. I’d send Karl an email each Monday with the week’s schedule. It was not perfect, but it was easier than Google Calendar.

Wardrobe Oxygen: How We Stay Organized as a FamilyA couple months later I went to a kid’s birthday party and the family had a gigantic dry erase board calendar in their dining room. It was magnetic; they’d write down events, pin field trip permission slips and theater tickets to it, had markers of different colors to represent each family member. It wasn’t anything that would get oohs and aahs on Apartment Therapy but I found it utterly brilliant. That weekend I was at Target and saw they had magnetic dry erase calendar squares (think these may be the same ones) and purchased two and a few markers in different colors. I made one for the current month and one for the upcoming month. Pink for Emerson, orange for me, blue for Karl, black for high priority. We hung them up in the kitchen just a few steps from the front door at a height where even Emerson can access them.

I kept the paper calendar because on it I add work and blog-related events that don’t affect the family; it has a week at a glance which I use as my blog editorial/meeting calendar as well as a mini journal. I also liked how portable it was; first thing at work I lay it open on my desk. Once a week I synchronize the calendars to be sure we’re on the same page. The only things I put on my electronic calendar/Outlook are weekday things that affect just me: phone calls, concerts, after work events. The only work things I put on the paper or magnetic calendars are things that require me to get to work super early or leave unusually late or where I need to be offsite.

At work I live by Outlook. I schedule phone calls, schedule due dates, schedule all sorts of reminders. It’s funny, at my last job I lived by Outlook Tasks but now I put tasks as appointments.  My day job is a lot of meetings, webinars, and calls and we schedule them by looking at coworkers’ availability. By scheduling my tasks on my Outlook calendar, I schedule in time to get them done and don’t end up working extra hours to catch up.

I also go paper at work.  I have a five-subject spiral that sits on the edge of my desk and goes with me to every meeting. Each day I start a new page with the date in the upper right corner and make a task list. There’s something so delicious about physically crossing things off a list. I put a post-it on that page so I can easily find it; behind it I will have notes from meetings, projects, and things from that day’s activities.  Each day gets a fresh page and anything not crossed off from the previous day’s list goes to the top of that list.  These spirals are like a journal and since they’re in chronological order I can easily go back a month or two and refer to notes.  If for some reason I don’t have my spiral on me, I transfer any notes into the book behind the right date’s page to keep order.

I like to doodle.  A lot.  While there’s plenty of pen doodles in my spiral, I have a stack of Xerox paper and a cup cull of colored pens and fine tip markers on my desk for more elaborate doodles for long conference calls and when my brain is full and I need a break to regain my mojo.

Wardrobe Oxygen: How We Stay Organized as a FamilyAfter a couple months with the magnetic calendars we were in love… and we wanted more. One month in advance wasn’t enough, so I went back to Target and bought what I thought were two more of the same tiles. They were not the same. Different size, and while the first two are Sunday through Saturday, these were set up Monday through Sunday. We put them up under the ones seen and they were too low; when we tried to remove the ones we currently have up our wall paint started peeling. And having calendars with different week setups was a quick way to go insane.  We also found the colored markers weren’t necessary and decided to stick to just black and two boards. We kept the front door as Command Central; it’s visible and just a few steps from the calendar so the combination works for us.

If I could go back, I’d buy four all at once or consider three and a fourth to be a cork or magnetic board the same size. Especially with a kid, we often have to plan far in advance and I often wish I could keep the previous month up for at least a week.  The reason the paint was peeling from the wall is because these boards come with thin and cheap mounting tape squares so we added 3M Command strips to keep them up.  The Command strips work great but did not want to cooperate and leave the walls nicely.  So two it is for now.

It’s nice to have your dry erase markers as fine tipped as possible, and attached to your calendars. We found some that hung from a magnet by a chain, but they were too thick of tips. Each of our boards has a pen clip on top where we keep a marker; there’s a few calendar boards that have ledges for pens and erasers but again consider your space (for us a ledge would likely cause a lot of bruises in our narrow kitchen).

For magnets I highly recommend these which I found on Amazon. They’re small, can be used for color coding people or activities, and are uber strong. And we don’t have an eraser; a finger or the edge of a dish towel works for small edits and at the end of the month I clean the board with a bit of white vinegar and an old rag.

Everyone’s life is different, and while I love technology Karl doesn’t. Going ‘old school’ with our calendars makes the most sense for us. I love having the paper planner for lists, for a blog editorial calendar, and as a bit of a journal (I keep all my old planners like some keep diaries). Sure, there’s some work to ensure we’re synchronized, but I actually like that because it forces us to communicate, review, and be aware.

How do you keep your household calendar? Do share your ways in the comments as your tips may be the exact thing a fellow reader needs in her life!

Ask Allie: Fashion Advice for a Petite SAHM

Dear Allie,
I am currently rocking the awful “mom” look aka yoga pants and huge t-shirts and I am so over it! Could you direct me to a few classic pieces to start my wardrobe? I am a stay at home mom with two under two, so I need a practical look. I live in Ohio where the weather is always changing. I am very petite (5’ and less than 100 lbs). I also have trouble finding comfortable shoes that look stylish and fit my size 5 feet. Any advice?
– Megan

Dear Megan,
I am so glad you realize that one can be an active mom while maintaining style. I recently wrote an article on about new mom fashion, but will offer some basics that should get you on track without looking like a mom, or like a college student:

Dark Straight Jeans
A dark straight jean is classic, can be worn any season of the year, looks more polished than lighter washes, and doesn’t need a fancy label to look chic. Having a straight leg means this jean should work with most any length or style of top in your wardrobe – simple tanks and tees, longer tunics, blazers and cardigans, blouses tucked in or left untucked. Add a bit of spandex so that you won’t be showing your undergarments or cutting into your stomach when crawling on the floor after your little one.

The Lee Slender Secret 5-pocket Jean is a classic style that is great for women who may have a bit of that baby pooch still left. Oprah recently rated them as a top jean, and reviews state that these jeans in petite are not needing of hemming for those who are 5’ tall. $29.99


Levi’s 512 jean is a straight, classic style that is made for a woman’s shape. Their Perfectly Slimming 512 Jean has the Lycra to keep your body looking smooth, and giving you the flexibility you need to keep up with your children. Again, this jean is rated great for the really petite woman – they run short so you won’t have to spend an arm and a leg on alterations. $40.00

A Versatile Trench
When the weather is chilly one day, hot the next, and rainy the third it’s hard to be prepared. A simple trench or mac in a water-resistant fabric that is lined will keep you looking stylish yet comfortable on those in-between days.

The Sunshower Coat from Lands End is a favorite – it’s a classic style, breathable, and wrinkle-resistant. Lands End is known for their quality and service so you know you will get a great piece that will give you years of wear. Khaki is a safe bet, but a more memorable color like their Wine Grape will look great with neutrals, make your skin glow, and will give you a sunnier outlook on the day, even if the sky is cloudy. $99.50

Macy’s Style&Co brand offers great style for a reasonable price. This double-breasted trench has a shorter length that won’t dwarf your petite frame, and the soft sage color will look great with neutrals, but be a fresh change from beige and black outerwear. $79.00

Solid-colored Seasonally-appropriate Tops
Toss the oversized tees and stiff striped button-downs. It’s easy to be comfortable, get dressed in an instant yet look great if you have an arsenal of flattering, well-fitting knits in your size and colors you adore. Wash on the gentle cycle, line dry and these pieces can give you years of great wear. Look for pieces with 5% spandex or more – they will be more likely to keep their shape, not need to be ironed, and maintain their color longer than 100% cotton tops. For winter, I love merino wool because it acts like a knit in keeping its shape and flattering the figure, and can also be washed on the gentle cycle.

Ann Taylor LOFT is a fave of many petite women thanks to their extensive collection, reasonable prices, and truly petite sizing. Their Petite Twisted Boatneck Tee is a fashionable version of the comfy tee shirt. The neckline adds drama to a casual day look, and would fantastic under a cardigan or casual twill blazer. Great colors like Balsam Green and Ocean Depths will complement dark denim, khaki, white, gray, and black. $19.50

I love Nordstrom’s Caslon line – great wardrobe basics of great quality. The petite Caslon Ballet Neck Tee is a feminine and flattering twist on a simple knit top – the ¾ sleeves make it wearable almost year-round and a scoop neck is lovely on most every woman’s figure. $24.00

A Casual Blazer
A great way to jazz up simple tees and jeans is with a casual blazer. If it’s unlined and has a bit of stretch, it’s as comfortable as a hoodie but with far more polish.


Ann Taylor LOFT’s Petite Urban Twill Blazer is a great choice. The grosgrain trim gives it a unique, higher-end look, and in navy it would go with most any color tank or tee in your closet. $69.99

The striped blazer from Banana Republic would look amazing with neutral tanks, tees, and bottoms. It would also look quite chic with a pop of color underneath – try candy pink, blood orange, or apple green. The standup collar elongates the frame, making you look taller. $149.99

A Trendy Knit
Right now, striped tees are a hot look – this is a great way to add some variety and current fashion to your wardrobe without looking passé in a season. Striped tees look great with a simple denim or twill skirt, under a blazer, with shorts, capris, jeans, and even dressed up with a fuller skirt or with trousers. Add a bit of contrast with a turquoise or coral necklace, or a cardigan in a color like leaf green, tangerine, or yellow.

This black and cream striped boatneck from Lauren by Ralph Lauren isn’t your ordinary tee shirt – the silver buttons and boatneck make it a refined piece that would look great with jeans, and also with a white twill skirt for spring outings. $59.50


I own the Striped Sailor Tee from Ann Taylor and adore it – the scoopneck is flattering, the knit heavy and durable, the epaulets give a bit more style and panache. It comes in three colors. $38.00

A Not-so Little Black Dress
I have a black wrap dress from Old Navy that I bought years ago on clearance. I wear it with leggings and flats around the house, with heels for a wedding or funeral, with tall boots to work. It’s so versatile, and the matte jersey is a fabric that stretches, gives, washes easily, and looks timeless and seasonless.

The Petite Gemma Wrap dress from Banana Republic is a great choice – ¾ sleeves work year round, and a true wrap style means you can cinch the waist for a more custom fit. $98.00


Merona for Target has really come a long way in the past year – the quality has improved immensely, and the style is quite on-trend yet classic. The Merona Petite Faux Wrap Knit Dress is a great choice – the empire waist hides any post-baby pooch, and makes it dress up or down with ease. $20.98

It often impossible to find size 5 footwear in stores, however the selection is pretty impressive online. Sites like Nordstrom and Zappos have a great selection of smaller sizes that are still stylish and comfortable. I recommend investing in:

  • A sandal with a low wedge heel (more comfortable than heels, able to wear with shorts or with a dress).  The “Amber” wedge-heel sandals from Munro is a great summer choice – uber comfortable, thin elegant straps, will look great with skirts and dresses of all lengths, as well as shorts, trousers, and cropped pants. Munro is known for comfort and quality – these shoes should be wearable even for a day of sightseeing or a trip to Disney World. $179.95
  • A pair of ankle boots you can slip on with jeans and a sweater (low heel, brown or black depending on your wardrobe – more versatile than flats as that they can dress up and also be waterproofed for rainy days).  The “Wisteria” by Merrell has a wedge heel which is comfortable when standing or walking for a long period of time, but can still be paired with casual trousers. They get great reviews for comfort. $140.00
  • A pair of tall riding boots (wear with dresses, over jeans and you will be amazed how they will transform wardrobe basics into something stylish – waterproof them for more versatility).  These riding boots from La Canadiene are so classic – waterproof Italian leather, moisture-wicking lining, memory foam insole, low heel, elegant styling. These are boots you buy now and will still be wearing a decade from now. $256.00
  • A pair of simple black leather pumps for those times when you do need to dress up (they work with pants, dresses, and even with your dark jeans for a Date Night or drinks with your girl friends).  The Nuncio pump from Nine West is a classic pump that will look elegant year-round and years from now. 2.5” heel, elongated toe, and available in narrow and wide widths. $69.95

For additional petite inspiration, check out:

Ask Allie: Where to Sell Used Clothing?

I’m wondering if you have any resources or suggestions for someone who is trying to minimize their closet. I’m moving towards capsule wardrobes and limiting my shopping, so this is leaving me with some very high-quality items (though not necessarily designer) already in my closet that I’d like to sell to get some money back, especially since a few of them have never been worn or worn only once! Over the years I’ve donated bags and bags of clothing, but for these purchases I thought putting a little extra time into it could get me some money back. Tips? Where to start?

selling used clothing online tips how to

This is a post where I’d like to ask you, the readers to share your suggestions. I have my suggestions but even I am wondering if there’s better ways to pare down one’s wardrobe and recoup some of the original cost. Here’s some suggestions:

Selling Clothes on eBay

eBay has been my most successful avenue for selling quality clothing that isn’t necessarily designer or a recent season. I make sure to have multiple photos of the item in natural light without a flash – full front, full back, photo of the tag (proves the brand, proves the size, and also many brand loyalists can recognize a year or season by the style of the label), photo of any details (fly, style of buttons, cuffs, close-up of applique or fabric texture), and a photo of any flaws. When it comes to flaws, be upfront from the get-go; it’s not worth it to sacrifice your rating on eBay. My description has as much detail as possible – the fabric, length of skirt in inches, size and how it fits me with my measurements, and I also offer styling suggestions (I wore it with X, it looks great with opaque tights and tall boots in winter but also with sandals in summer).

When it comes to listing price, don’t assume a bidding war will happen on your piece, especially if it’s a lesser known brand or more than a season or two old. Don’t price it any lower than you’re willing to take; nothing worse than having to go through the process to ship out an item for 99 cents, especially when you know you could have received more in a tax write-off for a charitable donation. eBay often has promotions where you can also offer Buy it Now for free; when that happens I always choose that as well and offer it for a price I hope to get but not an unrealistic one. To get an idea for prices, search eBay for similar items and brands and see what they’re going for. If you see one is sold by an eBay-er with a lot of sales, click on their profile and you can see recent sales and prices likely of similar items to what you’re hoping to sell.

Be firm with what you are willing to do and not to do in your listing. For example, I state no returns or exchanges and shipping only to the United States. However, I do offer other methods of shipping they can request it upon winning the auction

For shipping, I use the eBay calculator and labels; I can print the labels at home, go to and schedule a pickup, and not have to wait in line at the post office. If you wish to ship Priority Mail, you can order shipping containers for free from While it’s tempting to get an item out in the smallest and cheapest packaging possible, don’t scrimp and sacrifice the quality of a piece. I have received leather skirts shoved into tiny boxes that are bent and creased and necklaces broken upon arrival because they were barely wrapped in newspaper and mailed in a standard envelope. You’ll end up losing money if you have to return payment for an item that arrives unwearable, so take the time to pack carefully. I have a box in my closet that’s full of shipping supplies I gather from online purchases. I save plastic shipping bags, tissue paper, bubble wrap, and useful sizes of nice-looking boxes just for eBay sales and in my storage box I also have a Sharpie, packing tape, and a pair of scissors so I have everything I need for an afternoon of shipping. If you wish to do this long-term, I recommend adding a little something extra to the packing – wrap in the same color tissue paper, safety pin a business card to the garment tag, show a little care and it can help your customers actually leave reviews, leave better reviews, and come back to see what else you’re selling.

Selling Clothes on Poshmark

I haven’t used Poshmark… yet. However, I know my friend Alyson at The Average Girl’s Guide uses it often and raves about it all the time so I asked her to share her thoughts on the site:

“I’m obsessed with selling on Poshmark. There are definitely pieces you know will sell fast, and others you need to wait for the right buyer. I personally don’t post anything under about $10 because I find that the time it takes to post (though just 2-3 minutes), plus any back and forth, packaging and dropping off, is not worth the eventual payment. I rather donate. That said, items from J. Crew, Lululemon, Tory Burch, Rebecca Minkoff all do really well, though I’ve sold everything from Gap, Target, Old Navy, TJ Maxx pieces, you name it. Think about posting the right time of year… posting a sweater and boots will probably not sell now unless you mark it really low, where going through your closet for springy pieces you’re no longer into could result in extra spending money.”

“If possible, take photos of yourself wearing the item — it really helps! — and be sure to label everything accurately and thoroughly. Lastly, be mindful of price. It’s just like how they say people who try to sell their homes on their own always have unrealistic selling prices; I’ve seen the same on Poshmark. Remember, you’ve likely worn something or it’s not brand new. If someone can go into J. Crew and buy a similar brand-new item for what you’re selling your used button down (and remember, buyer pays shipping) then you’re too high.”

Selling Clothes on Consignment or to Resale Boutiques

Back when I worked in apparel, before the start of each new season I would take bags and bags of clothing (hello employee discount, dress codes, and the need to wear current pieces) to a shop near where I worked. They would buy on-trend pieces for half the price they’d sell it for on their salesfloor, and a bit more if I was willing to take store credit.  I’ve used stores like this off an on since and know many friends who visit them every season.  I know there’s stores like this all over the country, from Buffalo Exchange to Plato’s Closet.

Appearance matters when trying to sell your clothes at such a store. Dress stylishly, and even if you have enough clothing to put in a lawn and leaf bag, instead choose a nice tote (I used my LL Bean Boat and Tote), or shopping bags from a “cool” retailer (think Anthropologie instead of Old Navy). Make sure the clothes are clean, folded nicely, ironed if necessary, and free of stains and damage.

And seriously, no damage. A tiny bleach dot that never bothered you when you wore it will be too much damage for the store to take. The wearing on the backs of your jean hems is only cool if the rest of the jeans are distressed. All buttons should be in place, tags still in place, linings still attached.

Know the store before you bring in your clothes. There’s no point in bringing in a bag of J. Crew if the store focuses on vintage fashion. Not only that, you’ll know if they already have enough Jackie Cardigans and will likely refuse yours, even if it’s like new.

Where To Sell Gently Worn Quality Clothing?

And now I ask you, what do you suggest to this reader? Have you used Twice, Threadflip, or Tradesy? Had any success with Craigslist or a local listserv? What do you find to be the most successful way for you to sell gently worn clothing?

If you have a storefront on Poshmark, etc. feel free to share it in the comments below, your castoff may be another’s must-have!  Do know any non-fashion related shops or obvious spam links will be deleted.

Ask Allie: Questions About Wardrobe Oxygen

Hi Allie, I love your blog! Have you ever thought of doing a link-up post every week? I’d love to know what you read online through the week I bet it’s very inspiring!

I love your website! I am however, having a little difficulty doing searches in finding recommended clothing and accessories links. Have you ever thought about doing a monthly “Great online finds” link?

Have you ever considered doing videos? I think it’s the part missing from your blog – we love you Alison, and it would be great to see you moving in your clothes and talking about them and seeing you in 3D. You should consider it.

My friend suggested I contact you. I am looking for help with my wardrobe and I heard you do virtual wardrobe consultations but I don’t see anything on your website. How much do you charge?

Have you thought about having a schedule for your blog posts? Say, Ask Allie Wednesday, Home Design Thursday, Link Friday? While I love your blog, I don’t always relate to all of the content and having a schedule would help me know when to visit and when not to. Don’t take this the wrong way, I really do love your blog and think you are doing a great job I think this could improve your blog even more.

I wish you posted more weekend outfit looks. I don’t work in an office and can’t relate to pencil skirts and blazers. Your weekend outfits seem more my speed.

I think all of these ideas sound amazing, and I wish I could do them all. In fact, I have considered all of these ideas over the past few years, and have even done some of these (used to have a Tuesday Tip, did virtual wardrobe consultations, had more weekend outfit posts). The problem is I just don’t have enough time.

My family is top priority, and with all my responsibilities I still feel that I don’t get enough quality time with them. Second priority is my full-time job. While I love blogging and do make a small bit of money from it, my full-time job is what keeps my family afloat – it pays the mortgage and car payment, gives my family health insurance, and is reliable income (and is something I really enjoy doing). Along with this, I have a house to maintain, two dogs, a community I care about, friends I adore, and a desire for a social life and the occasional event away from the computer.

Two years ago, I almost shuttered Wardrobe Oxygen because I felt I didn’t have the time to properly maintain and update it. That is when I merged my outfit blog with my fashion advice blog – this was a way to simplify things and save time without sacrificing quality for you. However, there’s still only 24 hours in the day and there are some things I just can’t accomplish while still having a good relationship with my family and remaining a productive employee at my job.

Each day, even if I don’t write a post, I do something to improve this blog for you. Maybe I will try to improve tagging and searching, possibly I will go back to old posts and clean out the typos and replace broken links and images, maybe I am doing research for an upcoming post. When I have insomnia, I don’t lie in bed staring at the ceiling – I get up and write. I LOVE blogging, I love connecting with all of you, and it makes my day when you contact me and let me know what you think of Wardrobe Oxygen.

As I find better ways to manage my time and simplify processes, I will add more features to this blog. You all have such wonderful suggestions, and I do read them and take them to heart. You never know, I may implement one of your suggestions in the near future!

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Ask Allie: Should I Go to Coachella?

A friend of mine has an extra ticket to Coachella and asked if I want to go. I’ve never been to a music festival in my life, though I do objectively think I like good music. Is it all going to be “kids” and not my scene? What should I wear/pack? We aren’t camping, we are staying in a hotel.

Though I have been to many different music festivals, I have not attended Coachella. However my good friend Nicole has been the past couple of years and has had a blast. Like you, she stays in a hotel instead of camping. And like you and me, she is not a “kid” and isn’t into the stereotypical festie scene. I say go, you’ll have a great time and have a great story to share with your friends and your kids once they’re old enough to consider attending a similar event. You will see people of every age and walk of life. Don’t base a festival by the photos you see on the Internet, photographers love to capture that which will increase pageviews or look crazy/cool/fashionable.

Since you’re staying in a hotel, packing is far simpler. Treat it as if you were going to a day festival like Columbia’s Wine in the Woods or Virgin FreeFest. You want to dress and pack to be able to be away from your hotel for the entire day but no need to act as though you’re going on an expedition to the wilderness. But again, don’t base your fashion on the pictures you find on the internet of half-dressed college kids and celebrities. You can seriously wear anything and look fine; dress to fit your current closet and for comfort.

Shop similar: top | shorts | sandals | hat | sunglasses | bracelet | bag

This outfit embraces the boho style of California without looking like a costume. Wear a tank or bathing suit under the top when it’s warm, put it back on when in the shade or when the sun goes down. Denim shorts are a popular choice for music festivals because they can take a beating, but be sure they’re a bit slouchy and loose so it’s easy to slip them on and off when you’re sweaty in a hot cramped porta-potty. Sandals are fine for a festival, I wear them often, but be sure they are well broken in beforehand to prevent blisters. A hat and sunglasses are a must; a crossbody bag or backpack is the best choice to carry your essentials as it leaves your hands free to hold a drink, take a picture, or dance.

Shop similar: dress | sneakers | hat | sunglasses | shirt | bag

I love wearing cotton dresses to music festivals; they float away from the body, dry quickly, and are comfortable in the heat. Consider a pair of bike shorts underneath for both modesty when sitting on the ground, and to prevent chafing. A pair of canvas sneakers like Chucks or Supergas are great for a festival and look adorable with a girly floral dress. Such a dress looks great with a big sun hat and tortoise frames, carry a denim shirt to put on when the sun sets and the temperature drops.

Shop similar: top | pants | shoes | hat | sunglasses | jacket | bag

I love how flowy lightweight trousers and track pants are in style, they are comfortable in the heat and perfect for a music festival. In a breezy fabric, a pair of pants like this protect you from the sun, from chafing, and are uber comfortable. Pair with a drapey tank or tee for breezy style, lightweight shoes like TOMS or sandals will finish the look. A well-worn denim jacket stuffed in your locker or bag will not only keep your warm later in the day, it makes for a pretty good groundcover when sitting on the grass.

As for a bag, look for one that is comfortable to wear for long periods of time and leaves your hands free. I have a small backpack I take to festivals, but I have also done a crossbody purse and even a fanny pack. Each person has different needs when at a music festival, but I think these are the essentials:

reusable water bottle (take in empty) sunscreen | wet wipes (to sanitize hands before eating as well for gross porta-potties) | bandana (sun and dirt protection as well as much more) | extra hair ties or barrettes | ear plugs (you can get the disposable ones, I have these Hearos and they’re great and come in a carrying case) | cash (as well as a credit card and your ID and insurance card) | Sharpie and notepad and/or business cards (get autographs, write email of a new friend, etc.) | gum or mints | lip balm with SPF | cell phone with a battery case or a juice pack

For more information, visit my previous posts on music festivals:

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Ask Allie: What Scarf with a Wrap Coat?

Hey Allie, you mentioned wanting a wrap coat this winter on the blog so I thought it might be appropriate to take this moment to send you some pics of the wrap coat I bought last winter and have been struggling to style – and ask for your advice! I really like the exaggerated collar and slightly fifties style flared skirt but with so much of the neckline very exposed I find it difficult to know what to wear underneath that won’t clash with the style. I also find it can be hard to wear a scarf with it without making the collar look scruffy… (and I’m never sure what kind of colour scarf doesn’t clash with the green?)

what scarf with wrap coatThe reader in her green wrap coat

A wrap coat is tougher than most outerwear to style with scarves, but not impossible, especially with the current trends in winter accessories. Currently, the ginormous scarf look is on trend, which is a look that would flatter the style of this coat quite nicely.

itsmydarlin coreykingston

When searching for photos to illustrate my suggestions, I found these beautiful photos of Corey Kingston on the blog It’s My Darlin’ and the collar of Corey’s coat reminded me of yours. It looks as though she took a classic pashmina and wrapped it around and tucked the ends into the coat. The cashmere of a pashmina would nicely flatter the fabric of your coat and keep you quite warm. You mentioned in your email that you are drawn to jewel tones and I don’t see any reason why that wouldn’t work with this color of coat; a pashmina in a deep red, mustard, pumpkin,berry, or rich purple would look glorious against the green.

pashmina with wrap coat

A tone on tone look would also be quite lovely, as seen by the Crown Princess Letizia of Spain with shades of tan, and the blogger Awed By Monica in shades of gray. You can do this with shades of green, choosing a deep emerald, forest green, or a lighter shade like avocado or peridot.

scarf with wrap coat how to style

The pictures above of Bethenny Frankel and Elizabeth Banks show that your scarf doesn’t have to be a solid, and it doesn’t have to be a pashmina. You can use most any type of scarf, as long as there’s a lot of fabric. It can be an oversized square folded in half, a long oblong looped multiple times around your neck, or a wide rectangle. When I look at the print of your coat, I immediately think of classic patterns like plaid and paisley. An oversized tartan scarf like this one from Acacia Scarves (a company run by the blogger Jaclyn Day) in bright red with lots of white or ivory to keep it from looking heavy would be a lovely partner to your coat. This could be tucked into your neckline, or with so much volume could be worn on the outside, complementing your coat’s exaggerated collar. A paisley print scarf would also be a lovely choice with your coat; one with a touch of green but jewel tones like blue and purple would be very pretty.

what scarf with a belted wrap coat

Tucking a classic scarf into your collar isn’t the only option for a wrap coat, as evidenced by the women in these photos. To the left, model Emily Senko, per the blog Vanessa Jackman, shows how an oversized infinity scarf can look quite chic and would be another great way to incorporate a jewel tone. While most infinity scarves are knit, I think a faux fur one could also look great with your coat.  I also think an oversized cowl like this one from DC-based company DeNada Design would be a pretty choice and would likely be big enough to cover the entire neckline. To the right as seen on the blog Hanneli, fashion designer Vika Gazinskayas wears a scarf in a manner that looks more like a blouse. You can achieve this by taking a large square, folding into a triangle, tying the ends behind your neck and tucking everything inside your coat. Depending on the weight and size of the coat, this could be a drapey cowl, tucked smooth into a look like Vika, or a cozy funnel neck. For this look you can do a print or color of most any type; choose a silk in fall and switch to wool or cashmere when the temperature drops further.

Ask Allie – How to Accessorize a Sheath Dress

I have received so many emails recently asking for fashion advice. I figured I would share the questions and responses with you readers – what helps one may help many!

Dear Allie:
I have found my figure looks great in simple sheath dresses and I recently realized I have a good 8-10 of these in my wardrobe. What do I need to accessorize them so I don’t look like “The Sheath Lady”? I don’t really own a lot of accessories right now.  Thanks!

I think a sheath dress is one of the easiest things for a woman to accessorize. The classic, no-frills silhouette can be completely transformed based upon what accessories you choose to add to it.  I too love sheath dresses and find them flattering on many figures.  Ones in crepe, suiting fabric, silk, cotton and linen blends and in solid colors can be extremely versatile.

Classic – A strand of pearls (18-20”) and glossy leather pumps. This can take a solid colored sheath and make it appropriate for work, for a wedding, for a date night, house of worship (depending on how conservative – pack a cardigan or pashmina), a luncheon… most anything. If all else fails, this is a perfect go-to outfit when you don’t know your event or audience.

Elegant – A long strand of pearls or a gold chain with occasional crystals, delicate strappy heels, a clutch and you are ready for an evening event.

Summery – A wooden bangle bracelet and some sandals with wood or cork heels in a skin tone. Simple, stylish, current.

Preppy – Top the sheath with a cardigan tied at the shoulders, or a square scarf tied at the throat. Add a canvas tote in a candy-colored hue.

Weekend – A necklace of plastic or wood beads in a complimenting color, and a pair of leather thong sandals. Add a floppy straw hat and you are ready for the farmer’s market or winery.

Double – duty – Try a fitted white button-down shirt or a sleek black turtleneck under your heavyweight solid-colored jumper. Just today I saw a woman on the street in a dark gray sheath of suiting fabric; underneath she had a white shirt with puffed sleeves and a stand collar. She paired it with black patent heeled Mary Janes and some fantastic dark framed glasses and looked professional yet stylish.

Cover it Up – A “boyfriend” or longer cardigan and a skinny belt can transform a simple solid-colored sheath dress into something completely different (and much more comfortable in an over-air conditioned office).

Blingy – Choose one to three broaches and place over the heart in a cluster, like a corsage. Have all the pins of a similar family – all crystals, all cameos, all enamel. Let it be the focus and choose simple pumps, flats or slingbacks for the feet.

Change the Silhouette – Add a skinny belt and your sheath can end up looking like a completely different dress. Depending on the shape, you may also be able to do the same with a wide elastic belt either at the waist or right under the bust.

Dancing Queen – Planning on painting the town red tonight? Pair your sheath dress with some animal print or metallic heels and either a chunky bangle bracelet or a pair of dangly earrings. An envelope clutch will finish the look.

Switch up the Shoes – Always wear your sheath dresses with black pumps?  Consider a chunky heeled sandal for summer.  When it cools, try pairing your dress with a pair of tall (or even ankle!) boots.  Always wear heels?  Why not try a pair of flats with a girly feel?  A quick change of footwear can often times make all the difference.

Ask Allie: Capsule Wardrobe for Cruise and Resort Evenings

I LOVE your wardrobe capsules. They are always amazing. I would love to see a simple mix and match capsule for evening. Specifically, I just returned from a 10-day cruise of the Caribbean. It was amazing, with one glitch. The evening dress code was smart casual; and on a cruise ship this is more dressy than I expected (I’m from California, where jeans are cocktail attire!). I was woefully underdressed with dowdy shoes. I usually travel with black and white clothing, but a color capsule would be awesome too!

While I haven’t been on a cruise for a few years, I have experienced the issue of “smart casual” and formal nights on cruise ships, and understand how hard it is to dress appropriately for the situation. Not only are you dealing with limited luggage space, but you have folks from all over the globe dressing in all sorts of different manners. I found it’s best to pack simple garments and statement-making accessories.

Three years ago, I was asked to be in my friend’s wedding and she let me pick any black dress I desired as my Matron of Honor gown. I got a black matte jersey maxi dress from Calvin Klein that had twisted straps that were thin but thick enough to cover my bra, a faux wrap skirt, and a self-tie belt. I wore that dress for the wedding with black heeled sandals and a statement necklace. A few months later I attended a destination wedding in Charleston, South Carolina and wore that same dress with flat gold sandals, gold dangly earrings, and an armful of gold bangles. I also wore that dress with beaded earrings and a weathered brown leather belt and brown leather thongs. My point is that such a dress is surprisingly versatile. Choosing a silky jersey (Rachel Pally dresses fit the bill, are a classic style and come in a broad range of sizes) or matte jersey (Calvin Klein continues to have great options season after season) maxi dress means you can dress it up or down with ease and it will travel well (few wrinkles, any you get can come out easily if in the room with a hot shower).

Here I took a simple black maxi dress and showed how a switch of accessories can completely transform it. I know you mentioned comfort shoes in a different part of your Ask Allie request, so I chose shoes that aren’t sky-high. The wedge can easily be lower or even flat – another perk of maxi dresses is that they look great with flat shoes and said shoes aren’t the focal point of the ensemble.

A black maxi dress is a great choice if you have a formal night, but many cruises and resorts just require “smart casual” or “festive” attire. This capsule wardrobe helps you pack light but with many options:

  1. Maxi skirt with sequined tank and black sandals
  2. Maxi skirt with orange top and gold sandals
  3. Maxi skirt with a simple neutral tank or tee in your luggage, gold belt and gold sandals
  4. Black jersey pants with sequined top and black sandals
  5. Black jersey pants with orange top and black sandals
  6. Black jersey pants with sheer top and black sandals
  7. White jeans with any of the three tops and gold sandals (add the hoops, bracelet, and belt for discothèque drama)
  8. Black jersey tee shirt dress with black sandals
  9. Black dress with gold belt and gold sandals
  10. Black skirt with any of the tops and either sandals

This can be dressed up with a different choice of shoe (a heel is always seen as more formal), switching the pants to a tuxedo or shantung cigarette pant, the skirt to something sparkly, the dress to something more form-fitting or dramatic in silhouette. However, I used this based upon my own experiences on cruises and at resorts, where some nights you will find folks in full-length gowns, the other nights in club attire or sundresses. Solid colors and fabrics like matte jersey and stretch silk look elegant while being travel-friendly and versatile. These pieces can also be worn during the day – the orange top would be adorable with olive chino shorts, either of the skirts with a simple tank top, the dress could even be a beach coverup.

Choosing a single concept for accessories lightens your luggage load – I chose gold jewelry because it’s easier to find decent-looking costume pieces and instantly adds glamour. I really believe in a long necklace of chain or sparkly beads like jet – it really changes the silhouette of any ensemble and can make the simplest dress look chic. The addition of a belt, be it a scarf cummerbund, a leather obi, or a gold chain can quickly change the shape of a dress, add definition to a monochromatic ensemble, or dress up a simple tank and maxi skirt. Using color sparingly and thoughtfully will give extra miles to neutral pieces – the skirt could easily be switched to a neutral or a bold hue, the orange top could be a print or another dressy fabric, all the black pieces could be gray or ivory. This just gives an example of how very simple pieces can create an elegant and festive evening wardrobe for a vacation.


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Ask Allie – Wide Calf Boots for Petite Women?

Hey Allie,

I have been liking the equestrian boot with tucked in jeans look, but I don’t know if I can pull it off. All equestrian boots I see online look really tall and I’m only 5’2”, and let’s say the not so slim side. I was hoping you could recommend something that may work for me. Do they make equestrian liked boots that aren’t super tall?


Hi Elvira:

As a fellow petite woman, I understand your issue. I remember a few years ago, found a fantastic pair of tall black boots that actually fit my calves, but had to stop wearing them because they dug into the back of my knees, causing major welts and sores. If the lower half of my legs were only an inch shorter, I would have been able to wear them. I have seen this happen far too many times – if I can find a boot that fits the width of my legs, it doesn’t fit the length.

However, there are some great options out there.

First thing, measure your leg. Most boots describe how tall and wide the shaft is. Then you can immediately cross off certain styles or brands for being too tall or narrow in the calf. You will find not all brands or styles are the same, and some styles do run a bit shorter. Usually a shaft height of 14” or so works best for petite women. Sometimes that which is called “mid calf” will be the right height for your leg.

As for width, there are many chic riding boots out there with elastic gussets. Elastic will help your leg feel comfortable in a tall boot and make it easier to slip on. The Riding Chelesa boot from Frye has a 15” tall shaft that may work for your height (most riding boots are 16”) and elastic gussets that are kind to a wider calf while still looking stylish.

Also if you find the boots of your dreams but they are a tad snug, you can get them stretched. Cobblers can add up to an additional two inches in a boot shaft without sacrificing style or quality. This process ranges in price depending on what part of the country you are in, but I have never heard of it costing more than $50 (usually closer to $20).

I have forever been a fan of Zappos – they have such an extensive selection, free shipping and returns and amazing customer service. I never hesitate to call them for additional information on an item I find on their site. Zappos carries great brands known for wider calves like Fitzwell and Ros Hommerson, and had plenty of equestrian-inspired boots. Today when searching “Wide Calf Boot” I found over 103 styles.

DUO Boots is a UK-based company that specializes in wide-calf boots. You can search their site by calf and shoe size, and then read very detailed descriptions and customer reviews on different styles. I have the Bern which is a similar style to the Frye Harness boot, which comes mid-calf. Just by looking at the images on this site, you can see that some styles are taller, others are shorter. They carry very classic styles that will be on trend for years to come. If you are unsure, DUO’s customer service is quite amazing, they respond to emails with speed and much detail and can help you find a style that will fit your body and personal style. The only downside of DUO is that they are a UK-based company which means shipping and returns are QUITE the bear.

Wide Widths is a fantastic site, one I have shopped from for ages. Their site is nicely organized by heel heights as well as style of boot. When looking at riding boots, I found many elegant styles with a 14” tall shaft. As that is a US-based company, there aren’t as crazy of shipping costs. I have deal with their customer service by phone as well as by email and find them incredibly informative, helpful, and understanding with returns.

Hope this helps!

Readers, where is your place to go for wide calf petite boots?