Search Results for: label/Autumn

What I Wore: Autumn Brights

Wardrobe Oxygen wearing a Talbots Skirt and carrying a Dagne Dover tote Wardrobe Oxygen wearing a Talbots Skirt with Dagne Dover tote and Hermes scarf Wardrobe Oxygen wearing a Dagne Dover tote with Hermes scarf and Talbots skirt Wardrobe Oxygen in Talbots and Dagne DoverSweater: Halogen (plus option) (XL) | Skirt: c/o Talbots (14) | Tights: Commando | Boots: Jessica Simpson (on sale!) | Scarf: Hermès via MYHABIT (similar concept) | Bag: 13″ Tote c/o Dagne Dover

I’m a bit of a MYHABIT addict.  I find the most amazing pieces at the most amazing prices.  Not only that, when someone uses your referral link, they receive a $20 store credit and you do too!  I collected store credit for a year and treated myself to a Hermès scarf on clearance. How else would I ever be able to afford an Hermès? And it’s all my favorite colors too!  When putting away the scarf in my closet, I saw the color of the skirt was in the scarf and had to pair the two.

This cashmere sweater from Halogen is a mega bargain.  It’s a quality weight, a classic style (straight, a tad longer than usual with slits on the sides to look cute untucked with slim pants or jeans), and reasonable price.  Halogen cashmere sweaters can vary from year to year; I have bought some that are transparent and pill, and some that are thick, lofty, and soft.  This year has been a good one for Halogen cashmere, it’s tempting to get another one in a fun color.

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What I Wore: Autumn in the Summertime

Gwynnie Bee Review London Times Fit and Flare Dress Gwynnie Bee Review London Times Fit and Flare Dress Gwynnie Bee Review London Times Fit and Flare DressDress: London Times via Gwynnie Bee (similar, similar) | Bag: Hobo (similar) | Earrings: Argento Vivo (similar) | Bracelet: Gorjana | Shoes: Nine West

This is one of those dresses that works almost year round. While I wore it on a steamy workday, I could imagine it come fall or winter with opaque tights, and even with a cardigan or soft jacket, especially with this autumnal print. The fabric is great because it doesn’t cling and has brilliant seaming, gathers, and folds to really flatter the figure. This summer has been extremely busy and I often have to decide whether to do something necessary like laundry or get more than a couple hours of sleep. It’s a godsend to come home from a long day at work and see one of Gwynnie Bee’s well-known white boxes sitting on my front step. With this dress, I didn’t even have time to open the box until the morning and was thrilled to see it fit and gave me something fresh to wear to work. I sent back the dress the next day (no need to launder) in the postage-paid bag and the day after got a shipping confirmation that another piece from my virtual closet was heading my way! If you’re interested in trying Gwynnie Bee, click this link for my personal referral code and receive your first month free!

As for the last picture? Karl couldn’t resist getting one with the backhoe in the background!

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Pantry Cleaning Recipe… Welcome Autumn! Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Caps

Two portobello caps
One peach (though could be replaced with dried apricots, raisins or a small apple)
About two cups leftover cooked brown rice
Leftover half of a roll of goat cheese with fig (could easily switch with regular goat cheese, even use cream cheese… any soft cheese)
Half of an onion, chopped (I used a sweet yellow onion)
Cayenne pepper
Last dregs of a beer (like 3-4 tablespoons)
Spray olive oil
Brown panko bread crumbs (I always have these on hand)
One veggie kielbasa sausage (can be replaced with any other faux or real meat), chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Spray fry pan with olive oil, sauté onion until translucent
Add sausage, two grinds of nutmeg and three shakes of pepper, stir occasionally on low-medium
Add the bit of beer for moisture, and also so you can toss the bottle into the recycling bin and clean up the living room.
Add peach, chopped (used peach because it was over-ripe and on hand)
Add rice
Put portobellos in oven on cookie sheet and let heat up for 5-10 minutes
Add goat cheese to mixture in fry pan and take off heat. Use wooden spoon or spatula to mix.
Overfill the mushroom caps with the mixture. Drizzle bread crumbs on top and ten spray with olive oil
Put back in oven for 10 minutes or until melty and heated through.

Serve with some sort of squash. I found a very cool looking one the size of a small eggplant that was green and yellow stripes that was $1.50 at the market. I cut in half, scraped out the seeds, added a bit of butter, maple syrup and brown sugar to the wells and cooked for 45 minutes on 350 degrees in the oven. Occasionally spread around the sugar butter mixture so it would soak through nicely. Wish I took a picture, the meal looked as good as it tasted!

My fashion for Friday – Old Navy yoga pants and tee shirt, husband’s Tool hooded sweatshirt. Me sans makeup, feeling boo boo kitty. Tres chic…

Didn’t get a flight to Florida, but feeling better. My sister is coming over today. Yesterday I forced myself to take a shower, get dressed and fixed up and get out of the house. Though I felt like being a slug on the couch, getting creative with what was on hand in the kitchen was very therapeutic. I love cooking for my husband, it’s like serving him a meal of love. He has been so great through all this and so understanding when I get all hormonal. He loved the meal (is a mushroom fan) and it was nice to cook something so seasonal.

Guest Post: How to Care for Sweaters and Knitwear

When I went to New York City this summer, I met Miriam Mades from the company AlterKnit New York. As someone who believes in quality over quantity and knowing that leading a great life sometimes means a wardrobe gets damaged, I was thrilled to learn about this company. Like me, they believe in quality, and preserving it. From replacing the torn lining in a suit jacket to reweaving a Missoni sweater so one could never tell there was a snag, Miriam and her team do it all and with extreme care and pride in their work. Many of you reach out to me asking how to care for certain garments; it made sense to get advice from the pros so I asked AlterKnit New York to share their tips on caring for knits.

Expert advice on how to care for and launder sweaters and knitwearAt AlterKnit New York, we take care of clothes every day coast to coast. After working on so many favorite pieces we have a lot of experience with damaged clothing. The most important thing we tell everyone is to CLEAN your clothes. Nothing is full proof but cleaning your clothes and then storing them properly, especially at the end of the season, will give you a good chance that your knits will remain hole free.  You have choices when it comes to cleaning. Wash on delicate in your machine, hand wash in the sink or send them to your dry cleaner. But PLEASE clean them- your clothes will thank you.

Do you wash everything by hand?

No. Somethings are suited for washing exclusively by hand. Others fare well in the machine. Some stuff we only dry clean. For sweaters we like to encourage a mix of hand washing and dry cleaning. But again, as long as you a re cleaning we are happy!

How should we store sweaters?

Please don’t hang them in your closet. The shoulders will start to get out of shape due to the stress points caused by the hanger. Plus the weight of the fiber can also stretch out the body length. Just fold them like you would a t- shirt. If you need to remove any creases you can gently steam them out with the low setting on your iron.

When the seasons change you can store them in a breathable sweater bag with some cedar blocks or sachets for extra good measure. We don’t like suffocating them in a plastic bin because we don’t have proof that this method works plus we can’t stand the smell that the bin leaves on the clothes.

Any other knit wear tips?

Get a fabric shaver. Removing pills will help your garments look new and also deter any proteins from lodging in the fibers—its the proteins that critters like moths and silverfish are attracted to.

You need to be careful with a shaver. Use them on a true flat surface…i.e. yes you should use your ironing board. It might be a pain to drag it out but it will less of a pain then the hole you could make by shaving on an uneven surface.

Finally, when you do a snag, pull or small hole…get it to us before the hole gets bigger. So many times we get huge costly repairs that could have been prevented if the garment had gotten to us sooner.

At the end of the season double check all your knits for holes. If you see any holes sooner rather than later is the best time for repair by a professional. After fixing so many holes, we know that the sweater that gets sent to us in November most likely had the holes in July. We know nobody wants to see feel or touch their cashmere fisherman sweater in the hot summer days but getting a head start of refreshing your wardrobe before the autumn season arrives will be worth it.

A note on fine knits.

We work on very fine gauge knits as well. Fine gauge knits are more delicate and often holes start as a snag or pull…like you would get on a pair of pantyhose. Plus, when its is warm out we tend to take fine gauges with us to places where the temperature will fluctuate. Like a night out at the movies or eating in a restaurant. Its easy to get these caught on jewelry or other accessories. So be extra careful with them. If you get a pull don’t worry we are here for you!

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After meeting Miriam and learning more about AlterKnit New York, I know this to be a company I would trust with replacing the brittle lining in my dad’s Korean War flight jacket, to repair my grandmother’s baby blanket, or to take an expensive designer knit piece and make it look like new.  AlterKnit New York takes their time, chooses the best method to ensure the piece looks as perfect as possible.  They perform moth hole and snag repair, invisible mending, reweaving, heirloom restoration, restyling of pieces, alterations, and much more.  See examples here.  While they are based in New York, they have customers across the country and will provide you with a pre-addressed shipping label and maintain communication.  I was so impressed with this company, I asked them to write this piece.  I was not compensated for this post.

Thursday: Little Bit of Leopard

Sweater: Gap
Pants: LOFT (similar)
Boots: DUO (similar style from same brand)
Necklaces: Ann Taylor
Silver cuff 
Bag: Sabina (similar)

Yesterday I wore a cardigan, jeans and flats to work and froze. Today I’m not taking any chances. This morning I woke up shivering; by time I left the house it had warmed up a bit but it was still sweater/fleece hoodie weather. It is truly Autumn in this area and I don’t feel ridiculous pulling out my boots before October since my office still has the A/C blasting!

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This is my trusty black jersey wrap dress from Talbots, my black leather “Maryland” boots from Ros Hommerson, silver chain from Ralph Lauren, silver cuff bracelet with green stones from Anne Koplik Designs, silver earrings from Treehouse.
Makeup is Laura Mercier Secret Foundation, Estee Lauder Nutritious foundation in Intensity 3.0, Cargo Matte BeachBlush, Maybelline Shine Seduction in Blushed Bass, Body Shop shadows in Slate and Soft Black, Cover Girl LashBlast mascara in Rich Black, Avon Glimmersticks in Midnight.
It is colder today – sure feels like Autumn!  I even took out my green pashmina to ward off chill as I waited for the morning train!


Now that my sister lives a half a mile away from me, we walk together many weekday mornings.  We meet at a halfway point in the neighborhood around 6am and this morning was so cold we thought our ears were going to fall off!  Autumn has officially arrived, and with it come the closed-toe shoes!

White ribbed tank from Gap, my black New York & Company trousers, gray fuzzy cardigan from Kenzie (which I bought last winter to fit over my pregnant belly and still love as a slouchy cozy coverup), black city boots from David Tate, silver necklaces from Ann Taylor and Ralph Lauren, silver cuff and silver earrings from Treehouse.
Hair was washed and conditioned last night and let air dry.  This morning when we went walking I put into a loose ponytail without brushing or combing.  When I got home I let it out and let it dry and then hit a few of the raggedy pieces with a curling iron.  I really want to let my hair grow long and let it get back to being curly – a very casual/beachy sort of look.  Then if I want some polish I can use a curling iron to make it into softer waves or straighten it with a round brush.  I hope to have a couple more inches in time for next summer.  With my next cut I plan to have the bangs angled a bit more so that they blend better into the hair when curly – right now they are sort of blunt (and too long) so that they have to be straightened or else they part in the middle and act weird.
My makeup is the classic look for me, but I did a smokey eye with Slate and Soft black shadows from The Body Shop and Avon Glimmersticks in Midnight along the lower lash line.
I will probably be buying a new mascara this weekend when I hit up Target – any suggestions on something that gives even more bang and intensity than Cover Girl’s LashBlast?

Ask Allie: Styling a Summer Dress for Fall and Winter

Can you possibly help style Loft’s Lou & Grey Ottoman Stripe Dress in Intense Burgundy? Love the dress but am struggling with what to wear in the cooler months of Autumn. Thanks SO much!

What a cute dress (also available in two other color combinations), how did I miss this during my many trips to LOFT? It is a great transitional dress, and quite a versatile color combination. Here’s a few ideas to wear the Lou & Grey Ottoman Stripe Dress as the weather gets colder:

How to Style a Summer Dress for Fall and Winter featuring the Lou & Grey Ottoman Stripe Dress from @LOFT

The easiest way to transition a short-sleeved dress for fall is with a denim jacket and boots. This year, denim jackets are prevalent in stores, so you can find a fit and wash that works for you. With the color of this dress, you can do anything from distressed light denim to a crisp dark resin finish. As for boots, any height will do, go with what looks most flattering for your body type. I chose a shorter boot to balance the volume of the dress, but if the dress is shorter on you or not as full a knee-high style would also work. Here, color is also up to you; brown, gray, camel, or black would work, but if you choose black be sure it’s a more casual boot (not super shiny, lower heel, rounder or chunkier toe) to complement the casual style of the dress. To add some warmth, sweater or cable tights in a color similar to the shoe (gray with gray, brown with brown or camel, gray or black with black) would fit the casual feel nicely.

How to Style a Summer Dress for Fall and Winter featuring the Lou & Grey Ottoman Stripe Dress from @LOFT

Who’s to say your layers have to be over the dress? A thin fitted turtleneck is a great way to extend your summer dresses into the cooler months. For this look I kept the under layers consistent with opaque non-shiny tights to match the turtleneck. A pair of booties adds some heft to the bottom of your figure to balance the casual style and volume of the dress.

How to Style a Summer Dress for Fall and Winter featuring the Lou & Grey Ottoman Stripe Dress from @LOFT

A long cardigan or sweater coat would work really well with a dress of this type. To make it dressier enough for a business casual office, I decided to stick with all black. A sleeker bootie with a heel will dress up the look without looking out of place. A smoky eye would add an artistic edge to the look; a pendant necklace would be a nice way to add interest and a bit of your own personal style.

How to Wear It: Feeling Fall in a Warm Weather Climate

“I will be wanting wear fall long before fall actually happens down here. I really want to wear the “marsala” and “olive” that are on trend, but have been coming up short at my usual places for top pieces. I was hoping for a top I could wear to community meetings (business casual) with dark trousers or a pencil skirt. I have an enormous collection of silk scarves to add punch to plain.”

“I am jealous of all the bloggers already wearing boots and sweaters! I live in Texas and there’s no way I could survive wearing things like that but I want to feel fall. Any suggestions on what to buy to get the feel of fall fashion but not really heavy or warm?”

“I live in Florida and it’s still hot and will be warm all winter long. While many of my peers wear white, pastels, and cotton voile all year long I yearn for a seasonal wardrobe. I’d love your suggestions on pieces I can incorporate into my wardrobe that won’t be too heavy yet give the feeling of Fall.”

how to incorporate fall fashion trends into a wardrobe for a warm climateI don’t know about you, but here in the DC area it’s still pretty warm and humid. While we’ve had a couple days that have been cool enough for a denim jacket or light layering piece and many evenings perfect for sleeping with the windows open, more often than not it’s still a bit like pea soup when stepping outside. But that doesn’t mean I’m running around town in sandals, white cropped pants, and Madras tops.

warm weather fall blouses and tops via wardrobe oxygenShop The Look:
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The first email is from K, a longtime reader, and she has the right idea. Stick with your cropped pants, pencil skirts, and cotton trousers but look for tops that will give a more Autumnal feel. There’s no need to have those tops out of wool or cashmere; you can get the feel of fall in color, tone, and details. These eight tops give you an idea of what I mean: darker colors associated with fall, silky fabrics that look appropriate this time of year no matter the climate, yet sheer pieces or shorter sleeves that will keep you cool even if the temps are high.

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Shoes are another way to get the feel of fall even if it’s still warm outside. Those of us who get colder winters are jealous of your ability to rock a dress with boots and bare legs! Everything from ankle booties to knee-highs look great with dresses and also can help Autumn-ize your summery frocks.

Shop Autumnal Accents:

Simple switches to your wardrobe can offer maximum impact without changing your comfort level. Darker washes of denim, closed-toed shoes, brown and black leather shoes and accessories, switching pink lipstick for a dark berry, adding some lowlights to your hair, choosing darker colors and textured fabrics like suede and calfhair, adding a scarf or heavier/more solid of jewelry. Fall fashion is far more than cableknit and tweed; it’s easy to incorporate elements of this season’s fashion trends and still be comfortable no matter your environment.


Blogging Love – Interview!

I was honored to be interviewed by Elle of the new blog Label Ho. Elle’s discusses fashion and her personal style on this site. I love supporting fellow fashion and style bloggers so I jumped at this chance to have us get to know one another better!

You can check out the interview here.

I loved the questions she asked (and if you go back in her archives, you can see her answers to the very same questions!). The name of her blog cracks me up. It reminds me of when I was Editor of my high school yearbook. I had such the fight with the sponsor over the proper spelling of this word. “If you add an ‘e’ it’s suddenly a garden tool!” (Let’s not even get into why this word was in my yearbook – let me just state that my high school was a fabulous one where I learned Japanese and was in International Baccalaureate courses, but it wasn’t in the most chi chi of neighborhoods.)

Since she interviewed me, I decided to ask her a few questions as well. Get to know Elle!

Name: “Elle,” author of Label Ho, a fashion and personal style blog

Why did you start blogging? What could be better than writing and posting about something you love? I thought it would be a fun hobby and a great way to connect with other fashion-minded people.

Favorite item in your closet: An authentic vintage Gucci handbag circa the 70s. I love that its suede and doesn’t have the GG logo plastered all over it. I found the bag at a thrift shop and its in immaculate condition. Best of all, I got it for an excellent price!

Favorite Web site to visit: They have pretty comprehensive coverage of what’s going on in the fashion world, delivered in quick, short posts. I also like that they post great outfits that members of their community put together. I’m fascinated with seeing what people put together.

Top five items on your style wish list for this season: I can only think of three since I think I pretty much have most of my key pieces already:

1. Another pair of dark bootleg jeans. I’ve pretty much worn my favorite pair so much (Joe’s Jeans in the Honey fit) that the color’s faded significantly.

2. More dresses. I’ve purchased a few already, but I just can’t get enough. They’re so easy to pull on in summer.

3. A pair of wide-leg jeans. I’ve tried on a ton of different ones, but still haven’t found a flattering fit.

Ask Allie: Styling Navy for Fall and Winter

I purchased a buttload of navy items over the summer that I would love to transition into fall/winter. During the summer, I wore the skirts and blouses with a pair of navy high heeled Mary Janes and bare legs. For the fall/winter, I don’t know what to wear on the bottom. What color tights and shoes/boots should I wear?

I steered clear of navy for so many years because of this very reason. I didn’t want to buy navy shoes, my brown shoes looked too casual, black was deemed inappropriate and cognac was nearly impossible to find in stores. Well it’s 2014, navy is a hot color and there’s so many options to now wear with it!
navy with black

The old rule no longer applies, you CAN wear navy with black! Pair a navy dress or skirt with black tights and shoes and the look is quite fresh and modern. With this look, I treated the navy skirt as if it were any other color, and had black tights and booties anchor it. This is a good example of transitioning summer and early fall pieces into the cooler months.

navy with black shoes

For this second look, I show that black shoes with navy is no longer passé. Again, treating navy as a color instead of a neutral, the shoes become the neutral with navy trousers and a colorful blouse.

navy with brown

Navy and brown have always been a popular pairing, but it doesn’t have to look old fashioned or conservative. In this look, I took a navy dress that would be worn in summer with sandals or a pair of canvas TOMS and made it more appropriate to this time of year. Choosing camel or cognac provides a bit more contrast and feels youthful; a change of belt and Western-inspired accessories gives a completely different feel to the shirt dress.

navy with brown shoes

Brown and navy can look quite professional. To add some warmth on cool autumn days, consider a pair of sleek brown leather boots with your navy skirts and dresses. A bit of a heel and a slim profile best flatters a trim skirt and looks more professional than flat riding boots. No need to have your bag match your shoes, you can match the navy if you wish or incorporate a statement color like mustard, green, or red.

navy with gray

But black and brown are not your only options. Gray is a hot hue this fall and a wonderful pairing with navy. To give a clean modern look, I paired a simple navy sheath with gray tights and booties; a gray scarf pulls the look together and makes a sleeveless dress seasonally appropriate.

navy with burgundy merlot wine red color

Neutrals don’t have to be the only pairing for navy. I love wearing navy with a burgundy or dark red color, the combination is classic and perfect for fall. This is a way to wear the navy Mary Janes you stated you already own; consider adding another small bit of burgundy to your look to make it cohesive; a skinny belt added to the dress pulls the look together without being too matchy-matchy.

Talbots Fall 2014 Preview

Talbots sent me their Fall 2014 look book and it was so yummy I just had to share it with you! Fall collections can often look too collegiate or too dreary for my tastes, so when something comes down the pike that is fresh yet still classic and wearable, colorful yet tasteful it catches my eye. And when it’s available in regular, womens, petite, and tall? Autumnal heaven!

talbots 2014 lookbook animal jacquard

I love an animal print, and Talbots Brushed Animal Jacquard Jacket and Pencil Skirt do not disappoint. The texture of the material makes the leopard luxe instead of flashy. Partnering with red and black is another classic move that makes these pieces chic now and wearable for seasons to come.

talbots 2014 lookbook blue peacock

Hello blue! It’s refreshing to see cerulean and teal on the scene after so many seasons of chambray and navy and I love seeing a cool tone featured in autumn. Talbots’ Boiled Wool Coat in Blue Topaz makes a statement and would be a delight during the gray days of winter. I love a feather print almost as much as a leopard and am going gaga over this Peacock Feather Pencil Skirt and Feathers Talbot Cashmere Sweater. While both are styled here with other shades of blue, I can see them easily work with black, navy, and camel staples already in my closet.

talbots fall 2014 lookbook crimson jacket

Red is a fall standard, but the intensity of this crimson makes it stand out. A collarless jacket is quite flattering, and I love that this Double-Faced version reverses to a mulberry hue. And the Printed Tree Silhouette Dress is one of those prints that I wouldn’t tire of quickly; I could see it worn over a white collared shirt, with black tights and tall boots, or even worn come spring with nude heels.

talbots fall 2014 lookbook blush pink

Pastel hues are hot for fall this year, and Talbots has embraced this trend with classic style. I love how they paired their Canyon Pink Double-Faced Coat with graphic black and white; I think this is the type of jacket that could dress up nicely over a cocktail dress or dress down with a Breton tee and cuffed jeans. Speaking of cuffed jeans, how adorable is this weekend look? I love the Pink Blush Marianne Jacket dressed down like this, but can also envision it for the office with gray, camel, black, or ivory.

talbots fall 2014 lookbook sweaters

But what made me drool the most in this look book were the sweaters. The Cabled Dolman Sweater seen here in Almond has such a flattering silhouette and also comes in seven other shades. The Drawstring Shoulder Bag is a cheaper alternative to the leather buckets that have been seen everywhere this season and the tassel detail keeps it from looking to utilitarian. And let’s have a collective gasp for the Cabled Curved-Hem Sweater in Green Spruce (also comes in four other shades); this is the first item I’ve seen all summer that makes me look forward to fall! While it’s styled here with plaid trousers and pumps, I’d be wearing this baby with skinny jeans and ankle boots all winter long!

What do you think of this collection from Talbots? What looks or trends are you looking forward to wearing this fall?

Outlet Mall Shopping

Yesterday I visited a major outlet mall in my area. Over a mile of stores – some with great bargains, some with great piles of crap. There have been many stories about discount stores – how some of the product is not on sale, the clothes are made specifically for the outlet and are not the same quality that the brand name usually delivers, etc. After all that, you find designer duds for less, when is it worthwhile to spend, when should a bargain be passed by?

If it doesn’t fit well for $300, still doesn’t fit well for $150 and even for $65, don’t buy it. Just because it’s a great bargain does not make the fit any better. Shoes that are too tight or too big, jackets that pull at the back, pants that would be lovely if you just lost 15 lbs., no matter the bargain these items should just stay on the rack.

If the jacket’s sleeves are too long, the skirt’s hem at an awkward length, the shoulders a bit too big, these things can be altered easily by a tailor. You must be in love with the piece and find multiple places and ways to wear it to justify the tailor expense. I found a cream silk linen suit at a discount store – the suit fit perfectly except for a broken zipper and too long of sleeves and legs. I bought the suit for $65, regularly $350, and for $40 had the zipper and hems all modified. I have worn the suit to work, to religious events and as separates for three years. That purchase was worth the added tailoring expense.

Often times the items at the discount store are there because they are leftover from last season. When it comes to classic pieces like suits, dresses and knits, this is not a problem. A blue merino v-neck is lovely almost every year, and more lovely when 50% off. The problem comes with the trendy p[pieces.

If Lindsay, Mischa, Nicole or Chloe was wearing it last spring, it’s a good chance that piece is passé now. Pass on the embellished jeans, the metallic leather bags, the rainbow-hued sunglasses and most other accessories. Just because it’s on sale does not mean it is a good buy. When it comes to scouring outlets, your best deals are the ones that will last through more than one season. Sweaters, suits, outerwear, cocktail dresses, leather goods and most shoes are great bargains if you find quality and value in the same item.

Name Brands
Just because you found a pair of Manolo Blahniks for $100 at the Saks Fifth Avenue outlet does not mean they need to be purchased. Do they fit your current style? Are they comfortable? Are they current or classic?

We have all seen the label whores – those women with a Coach purse, Jimmy Choo shoes that JLo wore last year, Baby Phat jeans, a Bebe tee with the rhinestone logo, Chanel sunglasses and a Pucci scarf in her hair. These items weren’t bought for the quality or the style. They were bought because a stranger could spot the brand a mile away. She looks trashy, obvious and victimized by fashion. None of these are appealing. Labels do not suddenly make you well dressed or well liked.

If you can find a Furla bag for 40% off and it suits your style as well as lifestyle – then go for it. If you are buying a bag purely because it’s Prada and you don’t like the style, size or fabric… well you have become a label whore.

Don’t buy that jacket just because it’s designer. Pretend that it is an unknown label – do you still like it? Do you still find it attractive and necessary? If not, put it back on the rack. That goes for ill-fitting designer duds, last season’s “It Bag,” obvious logo advertising (if it’s that obvious, it will be that obvious from last season – not worth your time or money) and damaged designer goods.

Damaged Goods
Many discount retailers sell the irregulars from a label. Some irregulars can barely be seen by the naked eye – may be an incorrect dye lot or the wrong buttons sewn on a jacket. Some may work in your favor – pants cut too short or sleeves that are too long or too narrow. Often times these stores received the garments that were damaged in production, transit or through many jaunts to the fitting room. Broken zippers, missing buttons, fabric snags are all defects that can easily be repaired or covered up if the price and style is right. However there are other defects that are not worth the purchase, no matter how low the price. Runs in nylon, stains, button holes at the wrong height, linings that do not align with the trouser, two pieces stitched together from two different dye lots. Even if it is Versace, it will look like Gallo Clothing on you if it is this defective.

Buying in Bulk
I used to be a huge fan of buying in bulk – find a tee shirt you love, buy it in eight colors and three of white and black. Flattering trousers? Buy one in every color. I then found that my wardrobe was like one big uniform… one big boring uniform. Mixing basics with fun pieces offers versatility, ease but individual style.

At outlet malls, buying in bulk is a good idea. Yesterday I was at the Banana Republic outlet and found high quality stretchy tees in tons of colors – $9.99 each. I bought one in black, one in white, one in gray and one in red. These shirts can be worn with jeans on weekends, with a little skirt for happy hour with the girls or under a suit for work. I found a great pair of wool trousers at Off Fifth, bought them in brown, gray and black. They were so standard and fit so amazingly well (and were only $39.99 each) that it was worthwhile to buy every color I liked. I knew with my work and lifestyle I would find regular use for such trousers. Another time I found a pair of really cute studded pointy heels from NYLA. They were 75% off and tres cute. I decided to buy them in hot pink, ivory and black, thinking that if they fit well, they would get much use. I was imagining sparkly tops and designer jeans with the ivory, a sexy power suit with the black, and envisioned an outfit a la Carrie Bradshaw for the pink. I took them all home, have worn the pink ones multiple times, and have barely touched the other two. I don’t wear designer jeans with sparkly tops on a regular basis, and don’t own a single chic black power suit. Those two shoes have barely seen the light of day. Consider your current lifestyle when considering to buy in bulk – items that look too familiar may not be worn and too many of the same thing may make them all too boring to regularly wear. Also, if you don’t wear red patent stilettos now, you probably won’t after purchasing a pair.

In conclusion, don’t buy just because of a label, or just because of an amazing price. Less money for an item is still money, and money should be spent carefully. Be willing to take the time to find quality purchases, not pick up every shiny bauble that sort of resembles what Gwen or Jessica wore last Spring. Fashion is not about the specific item, but the allover look. A Louis Vuitton bag or a pair of Chanel sunglasses will not make you a fashionista, the pairing with appropriate and complimentary pieces is what takes you from being a label whore or a fashion victim to fashionista status.

Ask Allie: What to Pack for England

I will be going to London for two weeks. I was told it was cold and overcast the whole time. We will be in London for much of the time, but will be going to a lot of sites all over the south of England: Bath, Avebury, Glastonbury, Salisbury, etc. I need to pack (ideally in a weekender and 21″ carry-on) a 2 week capsule with lots of separates for lots of layering and comfortable but adorable shoes for spring. Do you have any ideas?

Sounds like a wonderful trip! England’s weather can be unpredictable, so it’s smart to pack layers. You also want to pack for whatever comes your way; while your tour may include lots of sight-seeing you may have time to go to a nice restaurant, the theater, or a nightclub with your friends. And while you want to be comfortable, that doesn’t mean you have to pack a bag full of zip-off cargo pants and sneakers.

This capsule is geared towards a Soft Autumn who is tall, which you mentioned you were. Instead of black as a base color, I used brown, which works well for a traveling wardrobe. Depending on your itinerary, you may wish to switch the Chelsea boots for better shoes or boots for hiking and walking; I recommend adding comfort insoles to the tall boots as well as a coating of waterproofing spray. A pair of tall boots will keep you warm, keep you dry, and add polish to a simple jeans and tee shirt outfit. The flats add variety and can dress up a look in a jiffy.

When creating this capsule, I thought of a packable hooded raincoat I own; I had trouble finding a good image of one for this collage that was not black. The coat featured may look like a classic trench, but it too is a packable lightweight hooded raincoat. For a jacket you want something lightweight, focusing on repelling wind and water; warmth can come from wearing layers underneath. However, do bring accessories to add warmth without taking up too much space in your luggage. A cap and gloves can do much to stay warm and can even be tucked into your day bag; a pashmina can be a warm scarf as well as an evening wrap or chic way to dress up a tee shirt; a sturdy travel umbrella is a must.

Speaking of a day bag, a crossbody with adjustable strap can change to shoulder bag for evening affairs. Look for one that has enough room for a travel umbrella and bottle of water, pockets to carefully store your essentials, and a secure main closure.

As for clothing, two pairs of pants are plenty for two weeks: jeans for casual excursions, and a heavier weight pant with stretch to dress up or for warmth. I also added a pair of leggings which could be worn under the pants for warmth, but can also be worn with the dress or skirts for variety. Don’t think skirts have to be reserved for fancier events; with leggings or tights and boots they can make for comfortable and stylish day wear. For tops, two sweaters, preferably from merino wool (keeps you warm, wicks sweat, slightly water repellant, and much more) is sufficient. With layers (a mix of tanks and tees in a variety of sleeve lengths and necklines) offer variety and the ability to peel layers if the day warms up. Pack one “fun” top for a night out on the town. If you have room, you may want to add a fleece which can be a sweater alternative or another jacket.

What to Wear What to Pack for a Trip to England - Wardrobe Oxygen


I never like my haircut on the second day. When you get it colored, you can’t wash it. I am terribly particular on what products I use and how I style it. My stylist is very talented with shears and color, but I don’t particularly like the way she styles it. Curly hair is a bit frizzy, straight hair is a bit too straight and flat. Get color and you can’t wash for 48 hours, leaving the limp hair product in the whole time. I do the best I can with what is in there and count down the hours until I can wash it and style it the way I like best.

I changed the color. I felt as though I was getting too blonde. I have done actual blonde before, and had the crazy skunk stripes of blonde in the late 90’s. Looking back at photographs, neither were flattering. I feared I was becoming one of those women who has highlights overtaking her natural color. Thank goodness my stylist Kathleen saw the same thing I did. We decided to do less honey, more chocolate and auburn and bring it back to a brunette look for fall. Also added thicker bangs. The more I have bands the more I like them on my face. I think this will be a good cut for the autumn.

Anyway, the outfit. Ivory lace top with satin ribbon belt from Banana Republic. Ivory camisole from Express. Denim trousers from Ann Taylor. Silver and pearl dangly earrings from… some brand that sells at Lord and Taylor. I considered them for my wedding and never got around the returning them. And then my black leather thong heels from Mossimo.

Hair is second day dirty, though I must say the shampoo person at the salon gave me the biggest darn head and neck massage with the shampoo and conditioning. Very nice, got a good tip. This morning I hit it all with the curling iron and then brushed it out. Not loving it, but I know it will be good in a few days.

Makeup is L’Oreal True Match foundation, Physician’s Formula mosaics bronzer, a bit of Nars Orgasm blush, Revlon ColorStay shadow quad in neutral – ivory on the inner corners and bow bone, khaki on the lid, chocolate in the crease and very thinly along lash lines. Two coats of L’Oreal Voluminous mascara in black. On lips is another Body Shop lipstick in shade 12, this one is Damson. I find it to be more warm in tone, but I like it. Imagine blending terracotta and plum together with a very subtle shimmer. As a Winter, I still find it flattering. I put it on at 7:30, it is 11:30 and I still feel it and slightly see it on my lips. not bad for a traditional lipstick and me eating a piece of toast and a cup of coffee and talking and yes, even licking my lips.

What I Wore: It’s Myne

myne heidi dress hobo bags clutch zippers myne heidi dress review

Dress: Myne | Bag: Hobo Bags (similar) | Shoes: Nine West | Glasses: Zenni Optical | Bracelet: Had forever (similar) | Lipstick: Revlon ‘Certainly Red’ | Ear Cuffs: Etsy (here and here)

I wrote about this dress in this post. A lot of you wanted to see me in it since I am a very different shape from the model, but it has been too cold to bust out this lightweight silk dress until now. When I bought it I figured I’d style it with peeptoe ankle booties and my wide silver metal plate belt, but once spring arrived I decided I liked it a bit more stripped down. The dress is by the brand Myne, and each time I read the label I say, “It’s MINE!” in the whiny voice I use when I read Emerson her book, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Share.  As an FYI, this is a size 10; I originally got a 12 but found it too long for my petite stature.  The 10 fits comfortably but the belt that came with it is too small (no biggie, the belt is kind of ugly and cheap looking).

If you signed up for my monthly Style File newsletter you know that I recently got these glasses. They’re huge, they’re bright, and they’re a lot of fun for a very low price (hello prescription lenses under $30!). I’ve been wearing a lot of red lately – I’ve been doing a red lip almost all winter and have been choosing OPI’s Big Apple Red as my nail polish of choice for almost a year. It made sense if I was going to buy some funky glasses to have them in my current signature shade!

Special Dedication Going out to ALL the Fine Honeys…

Last night my husband started a new book and noticed the dedication at the beginning. We were discussing who we would dedicate a book to, and he asked who was deserving of a dedication for my blogs. It got me thinking of who I should thank for my passion for fashion and sense of style…

I’d like to thank Mrs. Green, my 6th grade teacher who wore the most gorgeous jewel tones and funky jewelry. She showed that style didn’t come from the pages of a magazine but from your soul.

Express FashionI’d like to thank Stephanie Ahlbridge (sorry if I spelled that incorrectly, and I know you are now married but don’t know your married name) who was the most fabulous salesperson at Express in Laurel Mall. You sold me everything new that was shipped to that store, knew what would and wouldn’t work for my body before I even took it to the fitting room, and was such a good saleswoman you sold me on working for that company for five years.

I’d like to thank my dear friend Megan, whose passion for fashion has inspired me for a decade. You made the hell on earth which is working retail fun, and always gave me your honest opinion when I was “going way too far in left field,” keeping my style unique without scaring away customers.

Project RunwayI’d like to thank my husband who has always supported (and encouraged!) my style decisions, good or bad. You helped shave my head, dye my hair magenta, distress my jeans and cut up my tee shirts. You gave me 75% of the closet and let your suits and shirts smoosh to the left, and know not to touch my laundry for fear of shrinking another Banana Republic merino crewneck. Oh, and you sit through Project Runway and even cheer on my favorite designer! You are fabu, I love you even more than my pink heels!

I’d like to thank my sister, even though she hid my first Banana Republic sweater because she spilled Jungle Juice on it at a high school party, and even though she used to hide one of my shoes back in elementary school to get back at me. You have such a great sense of style, are always my GO TO for fashion advice (and life advice) and I terribly miss living with you so I could shop out of your closet or get a last minute Debbie Seal of Approval on my outfits.

Color Me BeautifulI’d like to thank Carole Jackson – her book Color Me Beautiful was my Bible back in elementary school. She showed me that what you wear does really matter – it affects how people perceive you and how you carry yourself. Though my freckles, brown hair and eyes (and my love for orange) may make one think I am an Autumn, my ability to wear bright emerald and royal blue like nobody’s business shows I am actually a Winter.

I’d like to thank the women of French Chic, who remind me on a daily basis (or at least when I have time to visit the message board) that style is not just about what one wears, but the woman who wears it.

My MommyFinally I would like to thank my Mommy, who made me the style-obsessed woman I am today. She taught me that looking great doesn’t have to cost a lot, a look can be totally transformed by accessories, and everything is better in color (including Kleenex). You have an amazing personal sense of style, and I am forever thankful for you teaching me how to properly iron a shirt and how to sew.

Who has inspired you?

Little Bits of Luxury: The Series

With age comes wisdom. It’s taken a while, but I have learned to truly buy quality instead of quantity. I unsubscribed from most retail emails so I am not wooed by 50% off (if I didn’t need it at full price, I don’t need it now), I rarely enter a mall because I know myself and I will leave at least $100 poorer with bags full of things I don’t need and will likely collect dust. When I visit a store like Target or TJ Maxx I have a written shopping list that will be a visible reminder to stay on track. And in the past year, when I have added to my closet I have looked for what I can remove – to store for the future, to donate, to sell, to admit defeat and cut up into rags.

And the things I purchase are better quality too. Now I am no Martha Stewart, so for me quality is likely Nine West, Etsy, L’Oreal. But I have learned it’s not about the name on the label, but how the piece works with my life and performs in the long run. Be it bras, BB cream, baking dishes, or boots I research, save, and buy the best within my budget. This also goes for luxury items (and items that are luxurious just to me). I have never admitted being a minimalist, and with age I have learned that some luxury items just make life better (and are far kinder to the body than cupcakes and nachos). I’ve also learned that luxury can come at all pricepoints, and some of the best indulgences are quite kind to my wallet.

I’ve found that series on this blog are some of my most popular posts on Wardrobe Oxygen. And so my newest series will feature little luxuries I indulge in, and how I budget for them, and why they are worth it. I hope you enjoy!

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What I Wore: Real Red

Dress: Belle c/o Dobbin Clothing | Bag: “Erin” Satchel c/o Fossil | Tights: Nordstrom | Boots: Ros Hommerson  | Bracelets: had forever, Nordstrom (similar) | Watch: Citizen c/o WatchCo | Coat: Via Spiga

Fossil was kind enough to send me this bag and I immediately fell in love with the color. It’s not cherry, it’s not tomato, it’s not ruby or oxblood or any other fancy terms. It’s as clear and true of a red as a crayon. I checked the bag’s label and it’s called Real Red. I like that, no crazy made-up name, just what is exactly is. This bag is pretty phenomenal, and perfect for a commuter like me. Two side zipper pockets to hold things like farecards and lip balm, and inside there is a zipper pocket on one side, and the other side five different pockets to hold anything from a Smartphone or your keys to business cards and a pack of gum. And in this bag I have my wallet, Kindle (did you enter my Kindle giveaway?), makeup bag, myAgenda, sunglasses, gloves, journal, and two reusable containers to hold my lunch. Impressive! The crossbody strap is adjustable to become a shoulderbag, or it can be removed. I know this bag is going to be used quite a lot this season!

I never understand why street style models and bloggers wear their coats on their shoulders like a cape.  How can they move their arms?  Why not just put on the coat?  Then I realized on cold days I do this very thing – I wear the coat like a cape from the house and over my shoulders until Karl gets ready to take pictures.  This way my outfit doesn’t get as rumpled and I’m less likely to mess up my hair.  Karl got this picture of me in the coat at the beginning of the shoot and it showcases the coat I bought last winter on a whim and still adore a year later (and it’s still available at Nordstrom and now on sale!).

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What I Wore: Issa for Banana Republic

I’m not a fan of designer collaborations. I don’t understand clamoring for a cheaper version of a designer piece. I don’t want a glued-together pleather bag or ill-fitting polyester blouse no matter what name is on the label. However, once the Issa Collection came out for Banana Republic I was intrigued. Banana Republic already has good quality and fits me relatively well, and the pieces in the collection were things I would buy no matter the designer. I liked the kimono dresses, and felt this print was one I would wear now and five years from now, in spring and in winter. For those considering this dress, I chose a 14, and yes, they do run short (it’s veering on not work appropriate and I am 5’3″). However it’s made extremely well, a heavy matte jersey that feels good and is a style that I think would work if I gained or lost weight. And you know me, I waited until it was on sale, Banana Republic was having a big sale, and I had reward dollars!

And how great is this bracelet? Wearing gold jewelery? No problem! Silver? No problem! Everything goes with this piece from Ruth Barzel, and I love that it’s rock and roll while still being elegant. I’ve been wearing this bracelet a ton lately (check my Instagram for proof), I like it mixed with other bracelets, but with such a bold dress, I felt it looked best all by itself.

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