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BlogHer Life Well Lived – Finding Inspiration

BlogHer asked me to answer their Life Well Lived Looking Your Best question,

“What are your favorite resources for inspiration on style, fashion, beauty and living life well?”

 

Books

I love reading books because they force me to create images in my head. While a novel may state that the protagonist is a brunette or wearing a navy dress, the rest of the description is truly up to me. I envision each character – how they dress, they walk, they talk and I think about why I chose that trait. It’s a great exercise to see style beyond what is on the television, and also to see how I look at style. From this, I often get inspiration for my own wardrobe.

Along with novels, I also love style books. This past weekend I finally got around to reading Ari Seth Cohen’s book Advanced Style and it was so inspiring. These fabulous women with fabulous personal style, making their own rules and looking gorgeous while doing so. The book has very little text, but each quote gave me such food for thought.

Magazines

If you read this blog regularly, you know I love Real Simple. They show wearable fashion at reasonable price points, and each issue ends up adding some new item to the shopping list for Target, Sephora, or Drugstore.com. Through Real Simple I have learned about life-changing night creams, skin-clearing gentle face washes, and lip glosses that make me actually like lip glosses. I also learn ways to simplify my life and daily routines, giving me time to actually life my life and not be a machine.

While I love Real Simple for showing great pieces that are buyable now, I do love falling into the fantasy that is in high-end fashion magazine spreads. I could look at a Vogue spread for an hour, creating characters, imagining situations, and also trying to see into the stylist’s head as to why she put things together in the way she did. Letting my mind wander on a spread gives me a lot of inspiration for my own wardrobe – creative pairings and unexpected additions.

The Street

Yesterday I passed a woman on the street in lavender skinny jeans, a white v-neck tee, and a gray tweed blazer. The look was so simple, but so fresh and crisp it made me want a pair of lavender jeans in my life. Washington DC isn’t necessarily known for its fashion, but every day I see women who push sartorial boundaries, or who take class and style up a notch.

For every woman in an ill-fitting polyester suit and pair of worn-down TOMS there is one in a perfectly tailored vintage blazer or one-of a kind frock. I also see women who give me ideas for my beauty routine – natural waves, fresh dewy skin, or a shock of color on the lips, eyes or even in the hair. These women give me inspiration, and regularly help me shop within my own closet for completely new ensembles.

We want to know, what are YOUR favorite resources for inspiration on style, fashion, beauty and living life well?  Visit BlogHer and let us know in the comments!  Also be sure to enter the Life Well Lived sweepstakes, where you could win an iPod Touch!

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#Blog4Good: Suppporting Goodwill Come Rain or Come Shine

A while ago, to maintain balance (and my sanity), I decided to stop attending blogger events unless they were really worth it.

An event for Goodwill is always worth it.

Why Goodwill? Because this January, the unemployment rate in the District of Columbia was at 8.1% compared to 5.5% just six years ago; the unemployment rate in DC’s Ward 8 is 18.9% and is one of the highest in the country. The people Goodwill serves want to work, but lack the skills, education, resources or opportunity. A purchase from Goodwill can offer the resources to get these people back to work.

Last week I sloshed my way through a torrential rainstorm to the Pepco Edison Place Gallery for the VIP Launch Party of #Edited4Goodwill, a spring Trunk Show featuring some of the very best fashion from local Goodwill locations. Racks and racks of curated fashion for men and women, bags, and shoes galore.

Shocker, I’m checking out the shoe selection!

I eyed an amazing embroidered silk caftan but knew I was too short to even consider it; my friend Alison tried it on and even Catherine Meloy, President and CEO of Goodwill Greater Washington and Debbie Jarvis, Vice President Corporate Citizenship and Social Responsibility of Pepco told her she HAD to get it, it was so perfect (see on my Instagram). My friend Deb went home with adorable pink studded Sam Edelman flats and I was thisclose to buying a buttery soft black leather jacket but held off knowing it’s not the right time of year for such a piece. I saw brands like Victor Costa, Cynthia Rowley, and Ralph Lauren, and amazing vintage one of a kind pieces like the caftan Alison got, as well as an adorable navy summer dress.

Check out her fab pink heels – Goodwill score!

A clear example of how a purchase from Goodwill was shared at this event. A representative from Goodwill Young Professionals Council stated that the adorable pumps she wore were purchased from Goodwill for just $20; that one shoe purchase can provide an hour of one-on-one resume building (and by the way, those shoes mentioned were a still in stock style from J. Crew!).

A view of the crowd socializing and scoring great fashion.
Perusing the racks with Alison and Deb holding the leather jacket I almost purchased

It was fun to connect with other fashionistas and fashionistos who know that you can have great style and make a difference at the same time. I will always make time for Goodwill, come rain or shine because Goodwill is a way to look good and do good at the same time.

May 4th through May 10th marks Goodwill Industries Week, an annual celebration of Goodwill’s mission to provide free job training and employment services to people with disabilities and disadvantages. In support of Goodwill Industries Week, I am participating in #Blog4Good – a social media campaign designed to help put the most vulnerable members of our community back to work by devoting a blog post this week to explain how Goodwill impacts lives and communities in the Washington, DC area.

We support #blog4good to help end unemployment

Images via the Goodwill of Greater Washington Facebook page .

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How to be a Stylish Woman in her Thirties

Years ago I wrote a piece on the Closet Cleanout for women over 30, and then an update on that post. Many complained that it was too extreme, dated, ridiculous, judgmental, whatever. Since writing that piece, style has changed a lot. To make this more timeless, I decided to focus less on the specifics and more on my eternal beliefs for being a stylish woman over 30:

1. Pack Away the Crazy Statement Necklaces. I know they’re fun, they’re cheap, they’re an easy way to add a pop of color to a simple knit. Thing is, they’re over, dunzo, passé and by wearing them you sacrifice your style.

The great thing with accessories, is that you can jump on a new trend bandwagon without breaking the bank. However, if you decide to go down the trendy accessory highway, you need to know when to get off. Pearls never go out of style, you can wear diamond (or CZ) studs every day of the year, but a lot of larger flashier pieces of jewelry go with the trends. If a Dannijo or J. Crew piece is being recreated in Claire’s or Charlotte Russe it’s time to let the trend go.  If you love big, flashy, and bold jewelry I can relate – shop craft festivals, Etsy, and shop on your travels to acquire a collection that is as unique as you and far more timeless.

2. Better No Boots than Cheap Boots. Seriously ladies, I know boots are expensive and I know how hard it is to find a pair when you have wide calves or narrow calves or wide feet or need orthotics or are very petite or very tall. I get it. And I get when you have that feeling of euphoria when a pair actually fits everywhere, you want to strut up and down the street and style every piece of clothing in your wardrobe around them.

The thing is, when the boots are cheap pleather or trying desperately to look like a designer version or is trying to distract the eye from shoddy construction with a pound of buckles and baubles… it doesn’t matter how well they fit. They look cheap and tacky, and they will ruin your style.

I have hard to fit legs, I understand the issues and the desire to have boots.  But if you can’t afford quality and style and fit in one pair… it’s better to go without any pairs. Save your money, you don’t need a closet of boots if you can find one pair that does it all.

3. Find a Tailor. You’re not an undergrad anymore, and it is not acceptable to have your blazer sleeves swallow your hands or have your trousers drag in puddles. For simple alterations like a pant hem, your nearby dry cleaner can usually do the job quite nicely and for a nice price. However, when it comes to tailoring suiting, preventing waist gap on trousers, or nipping in a dress I strongly suggest you visit Yelp or a nearby suiting or bridal boutique and get advice on a local reputable tailor or seamstress.

4. Invest in Your Edges. When you’re 30, you can still carry off a top from Forever 21, a pair of cheap jeans, a wacky thrift-store score. However, you are no longer a teenager or poor college student, and you need to take care of the edge details: hair, hands, bag, shoes.

When I was in college, I could go a year without a haircut. I’d often trim off split ends with a pair of cuticle scissors and had been known to sport a crazy cut or new color that I did in my bathroom at 3am. I could carry off crooked bangs or a botched dye job with some fun makeup, a couple barrettes, and confidence. The thing is, when you’re over 30, such things don’t look edgy, they look sloppy.

Take care of your hair; this doesn’t mean you need a $200+ salon visit every month, but get a proper cut, quality color (if applicable), and keep it maintained. If you keep slicking back your hair into a bun or ponytail it may be life telling you it’s time to hack it off and choose a lower-maintenance style. You can still be edgy and wacky and different, but do it with a bit of polish and more care.

5. Take care of your Hands. This is something I put off until the end of my 30s and I wish I hadn’t. If you’re a nail and cuticle biter like me, consider regular manicures, taking NAC (with your doctor’s approval), or even hypnosis to break the habit. If you work a lot with your hands, keep your nails short and your polish long-wearing or else naturally colored or buffed so chips aren’t as much of a factor. Moisturize regularly; hands show age and weather-related stress faster than any part of the body.

6. Purchase a Quality Bag. In my 20s I had a different purse for every day of the month. I’d buy one to go with a certain dress or pair of shoes, caring more about the fun than quality. The older you are, the cheaper that cheap bag will look. I don’t expect you to buy a Birkin, or even a bag with a designer name, but look for quality over trendiness or color.

Faux leather looks the fakest when on a bag; with all the stitching and angles the material catches the light and has more chance for stretching and tearing. If you don’t wish to carry a leather bag, consider a bag of a higher quality fabric or a durable material like microfiber. Avoid wacky glazes and finishes, too much bling, or obvious logos; even if you can afford the real deal logos always cheapen a look and they look dated far faster than plainer styles.

Once you have your bag, care for it. Use cuticle scissors to trim fraying straps, invest in a leather conditioner, stuff with paper and store in an old pillowcase when not in use, don’t overstuff it and when you get home, don’t hang it full from its straps (weakens the straps and alters the shape of the bag). Cobblers can perform repairs on handbags and even replace handles, zippers and re-dye exteriors.

7. Care for your Shoes. Be they from Prada or Payless, care for your shoes. Let a day go between wearings so they can air out and retain their shape. Get them reheeled and resoled when necessary. Polish to keep a nice shine. Consider commuter shoes to keep your best footwear protected from city streets. Don’t shop for trends but your actual lifestyle and needs, purchasing the best quality your wallet can justify. It’s better to have one great pair of well-maintained black pumps than a rainbow’s worth of heels.

8. Find a Cobbler. Speaking of shoes, a cobbler can be your best friend, right after your tailor. A cobbler can stretch too-tight shoes, add an elastic gusset in tall boots, reheel and resole years-old shoes to make them look brand new, and much much more. You’re old enough to start buying quality, and that means having a team who can protect your investment. it’s far easier to stomach a high price for a pair of boots when you know that for about $25 each fall you can have them looking brand new and prepared for the weather.

You’re old enough to care for your shoes, and you should. Unless you can afford to toss your footwear after each season (and if you can why the heck are you reading my blog?), it’s worth your time and money to baby them a bit. Let a professional help you extend the life and style of your footwear.

9. Get Professionally Fitted for a Bra. A professional bra fitting doesn’t mean the teenager working at Victoria’s Secret. Go to a higher-end department store’s lingerie department or a bra boutique and get sized. Invest in bras that better the bust you have; no matter your size a proper bra can enlarge, reduce, lift, separate, and make all your clothes fit better. Get measured once a year; your body changes with age, exercise, weight, and life experiences.

While we’re discussing bras, care for them properly. If you must machine wash them, do it on the gentle cycle in a lingerie bag. Always line dry, bras should never go in the dryer. Replace when they get stretched out, and be sure to own more than one so you can let them rest between wears (extends the life of the bras).

10. Wash your Face. Wash your face every evening. Seriously, it’s worth it. If you’re too tired or drunk or whatever to accomplish this, put a packet of facial cleansing cloths on your nightstand so you can swipe with your eyes already closed. You’re at the age where things like clean and moisturized skin now can drastically affect how your face looks in a decade. Along with this…

11. Moisturize. Moisturize your face. Moisturize your body. Apply hand cream on a regular basis. Use conditioner. Baby your body; as I mentioned above you’re at the age where what you do now may not seem important but it will affect how you look in ten years. Your 40-something self will thank you.

12. Wear Sunscreen. I spent my college years in a tanning bed, and my post-college summers baking on the shores of Dewey Beach. I was tan and felt I looked healthy and hot with a glow to my skin. And then at 29 I acquired my first age spot. A decade later, I have wrinkles and stretch marks in unfortunate locations and dark spots on my face, chest, and legs. I feel extremely lucky that I haven’t gotten melanoma from my bad habits.

It doesn’t matter your skin color, your ethnicity, or if it’s cloudy… wear sunscreen. Not only will it help prevent skin cancer, it will keep your skin looking younger, softer, and healthier far far longer. Learn from my mistakes.

Do you have any advice for women who have reached their Thirties?

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Long Time, No Blog!

I’m baaaaaack!!!!

My arm surgery May 22nd went great. The arm had rebroken so my doctor had to put in a new bigger plate, a bone graft, and an implanted bone stimulator that will be removed in a few months. For two weeks I was just in a splint to let the sutures heal and swelling subside, this past Friday I got a cast (and if you follow me on Instagram you know it’s bold and bright and has become my summer signature color!) and Monday I returned to work at 100%.

Writing is slow going with my right hand (and yep I’m right-handed) in a cast, Dragon Software is great for text but not for the formatting and linking needed for posts, so blogging will continue but not on a daily basis… more like 2-3 times a week. I’m much faster on my phone, so be sure to check me out on Facebook and Twitter!

And if you’re visiting the actual site you’ll see it looks a bit different. I meant to have this change take place early spring but… well arms take priority! I’ll write a separate post about it soon, but after NINE YEARS (this month is my blogoversary!) I finally made the jump from Blogger to self hosted on WordPress. There’s still some quirks (you may notice a bunch of comments missing from recent posts, they’ll return soon, if you don’t see a link to comment click on the title of this post and you’ll get to the area), if you find anything weird or frustrating do let me know. But the hope is with this change, once I have both arms at 100% I can make this site easier to navigate, search, and view on different devices. Let me know what you think!

If you’re reading this, thank you so much for sticking around. It has been a crazy year so far, but I can just feel the positivity for the rest of 2014. Would never think a second arm surgery would brighten my outlook, but it gave me a chance to really stop and think about the blessings in my life. And I do feel blessed, and one reason is you. Gosh I love you guys, and I love this blog, and I can’t wait to get back into the swing of things!

Love,
Alison

She Takes After Her Mom…

She understands that a woman can be a feminist…

And still love beauty and fashion!
Feminist tee shirt available at CafePress

What NO WOMAN Needs in Her Wardrobe

I do not care if you are a size 2 or a size 22, some fashion is just WRONG WRONG WRONG. It may look lovely on the Marc Jacobs runway, but in reality – just pass Go. You will find that same article of clothing on the clearance rack in three weeks.

In general, if something is super hot haute, it’s not worth your money. Those of us reading (and writing!) this blog are not billionares, we need pieces that can last more than one wear, that can blend with our current wardrobe, that do make us look like fashion victims.

It’s Fall 2005. The magazines and fashion shows have brought us gorgeous colors, luxe fabrics and adorable shoes. They have also brought us several no-nos. I have accumulated a few “trendy” and “classic” fashion don’ts.

1. Leggings.
Micha Barton and Sienna Miller may be wearing them under dresses and denim cutoffs, but that doesn’t mean they translate to every day wear in suburbia. Honestly, look at these girls. Do they really look better in those leggings than say, a bias cut crepe cocktail dress or even a pair of low-rise jeans? Leggings look worse alone. They may be comfy, they may be easy, but they are far from flattering. They hug to your not so pretty curves and make you look like an ice cream cone. The only thing they are making look slim are your ankles. Skinny ankles makes any middle look larger. Tight fabric on a rear makes one’s backview bigger. Leggings are a no-no. Even at the gym – go with yoga pants. You’ll be more comfortable and look better too.

2. Classic Fit Jeans.
These are the jeans that start at your belly button or a smidge above. Relatively slim fit, though sometimes a bit more relaxed in the hip/thigh/seat area. Finishing to a slim fit right at the top of the shoe. Back in the late 80’s, early 90’s these jeans often had a zipper at the ankle to ensure the slim fit on the leg. In the mid-90’s these jeans often came with slits on the ankle. Runways may show higher waistbands or slimmer legs, but these jeans will never be fashionable or flattering. Jeans at the belly button or higher may make the waist look small, but will make the area between there and your crotch look – inflated. Normal women usually carry a bit of padding in that area already – why wear jeans that draw attention to that? As for the slim leg – see my comment on leggings. Skinny legs make what is perched on those legs seem larger. No one wants to make their butt, thighs, hips AND belly look bigger!

3. Tunic Sweaters.
But they go so well with leggings! If you think this, please return to #1. One may think that tunic sweaters cover a multitude of sins. They are cozy. They cover the ass. They’re comfortable. Yes to all of them, but you can find comfort and ass coverage other ways. Sweaters are bulky. They hit the breasts and head straight down. They bunch up on the butt. They make everything look bigger and more… vague. Is that a firm bust or a sack of potatoes under that tent? Who knows with all that yarn. Tunics make a person look shorter. They make the top part look unusually large and stocky. Often said tunics come with turtlenecks which make you look as though you have a shrunken head and huge body. No, they are not acceptable with leggings, with jeans, with a mini skirt (though that lookw as hot in the 80’s) or with anything else. Find comfort in a sweater that does not go past your hips and does not dwarf you in fabric. By having less fabric, you look smaller.

4. Athletic Style Clothing for Non-Athletic Events. this is not attire for the mall, for the movies, for the grocery store. Why is it that women feel the need to wrap their body in noisy plastic material that can double as a Halloween costume of the Michelin man? I think these pieces are popular for the same reason tunic sweaters are popular. They are big, they are comfortable, they cover. Yes they cover, like a tarp covers up a pile of firewood. It’s about as attractive as well. Not to be mean, but it seems that the heavier we women (and men!) are, the more we migrate toward athletic wear. it doesn’t make much sense, and it looks ridiculous. Anyway,. who wants to make swish swish sounds as they walk anyway? If you want comfort, try a knit zip-up hoodie with yoga pants. You can still have comfort, but you wills till have your figure and your self respect.

5. Dressing Like a Child.
This seems to happen first to new moms. I understand you want to bond with your child, but that does not mean you have to dress like him. Yes, you like Mickey Mouse or the Tazmanian Devil. That does not mean it has to be appliqued on your back. I like Barbies, I have a collection, yet I do not own a single piece of clothing with Barbie on it. Why? Because I am an adult. I can show my whimsy and fun through my actions, not though poorly fitting clothing with silkscreening. If you are old enough to have sex with your Significant Other and produce a child, you are too old to dress like a preschooler.

6. Fake Designer Duds From Last Season. But you don’t read the fashion mags, you have no clue what is hip and what is passe. Then why are yousporting those pink shearling boots, a white pleather purse with rainbow logos and a fake lock hanging from the zipper, a newsboy cap in an itchy tweed, a terrycloth smoked top tube dress/tunic over torn jeans? If you can’t stay current, if you don’t have an unending wardrobe budget, don’t try to fool others with knock-offs. They rarely ever look legit, and usually by time the knock-off hits the stores, the fashionistas have discarded the original. A hint – if they are selling a version in Wal Mart or Payless Shoes, it’s probably passe. The way to show money is to use it wisely. Watch TV and the Internet. Read magazines. If the hot color of the season is purple, buy something purple, but something that if worn next season doesn’t scream “LAST YEAR!!!” The hot thing is turquoise jewelry? Buy a necklace, not a purse, belt, cowboy boots and tiara of turquoise. If it seems extreme and is in a discount store, it’s usually because it has had it’s fifteen minutes of fame and needs to be retired. If it’s in every single department store in every department and on every shopper, it means it will be at Goodwill in a year. So take your ponchos, faux Ugg boots, “I’ve Got The Golden Ticket” tee shirts, sunglasses with the rhinestone heart on the lens, anything Dukes of Hazzard, green pleather shoes/belt/purse/headband combo and donate or discard. You will look much more trendy without these “fashion victim” pieces.

A tip is if you are uncomfortable with fashion and fads, go basic. Pants in solid neutrals like black, khaki, camel, gray and brown. Tops in basic styles and solid colors you like looking at on a regular basis. Coats and blazers should be simple, clean lines. I have a wool coat I bought in 1998 and still wear and get compliments on. I have sweaters I wear that I bought in college. The reason I can achieve this is because I bought basics. I didn’t fall to the trends of shoulder pads, applique, tassels or bows.

Shoes need to be updated regularly – rarely does a pair of boots from 1995 look current now. Same with purses. Unless you go high-end and baby them, these two pieces will show wear and show their fashion season after a year or two. Every year you should reassess your shoe and bag collection. What needs to go to the cobbler? What needs to be tossed? You can wear cheaper clothes if your shoes and bag look smart. Get them reheeled, keep them polished. Watch the trends for heel and toe boxes. If you can’t afford every trend, go with clean, simple lines. 1-2″ heel, not chunky, not skinny. A toe box that is neither terribly round or pointy. Forego the platforms, the embellishments, the funky fabrics. Leather for day, crepe for night and you’ll be safe for a few seasons.

My Blog, My Choice

No pics today.

My husband took pictures this morning… but I don’t like how they look. Shirt ended up a bit untucked, belt looks better IRL than in a still, and I am a sweaty mess. I guess this is the real Allie, but I don’t feel like sharing it. Every time I have an “off” day (which happens to all mere mortals), it gets plastered on a dozen different forums where people criticize my gut, my cankles, my fivehead saying, “THIS woman is giving fashion advice?” I have been blogging for six years, I am used to criticism, I know it’s a part of being a fashion blogger. However, sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming for anyone, even someone who knows it’s par for the course.

I am the first to say if you choose to put yourself on the internet, you have chosen to have yourself scrutinized. You made this decision to have a public lifestyle, and if you can’t handle the mean comments, the snark, and the criticism, the heat… then get out of the kitchen. But even moi, who has a pretty tough skin, can sometimes want to scream at the computer, “ENOUGH ALREADY!”

I have cellulite and wrinkles and flat hair in this humidity. I have a gut, which existed pre-pregnancy and is even more pronounced now that I have had a child and have no time or desire for a zillion crunches a day. Today my hem is held up with a safety pin because I didn’t have time to tackle it with Stitch Witchery, which holds up most of my hems these days. A good percentage of my wardrobe is being held hostage at the dry cleaner’s because I have spent my clothing allowance for the month and can’t afford to pick them up until August. I have big calves, and big ankles and my knees are lumpy and scarred from far too many disastrous bike rides as a child and drunken escapades as a college student. I enjoyed tanning beds far too much as a young adult and have the wrinkles and age spots to prove it. I have bad posture, soft arms, I chew my cuticles, and I am in need of a root touch-up.

I have never claimed to be perfect, and I have never claimed to be an expert. I write this blog in hopes it can help some women feel better about themselves. To help the fashion clueless gain some insight into how style evolves. To offer suggestions on how to update a current wardrobe to make it more useful, more personal, more effective. To show fellow women that you do not need to be rich or thin or young to be stylish.

I blog for those who want this help, want a virtual friend who will offer suggestions and ideas they may have not thought of before. For gorgeous fashion, there is The Glamourai or Atlantic-Pacific or Sea of Shoes. For beautiful women, there is Keiko Lynn or Fashion Toast or Karla’s Closet. For professional fashion advice, there are amazing books by folks such as Bridgette Raes, Tim Gunn, or Nina Garcia.

For suggestions from an average woman who has been a size 4 and a size 16 and everything in between; who has worked in creative and conservative offices and knows how it can be to have a body and life change from having a child, deal with wide calves and large bust; has been a personal shopper and wardrobe consultant for women of all ages, shapes, sizes, and lifestyles… then read my blog. Feel free to like what I write, or hate it immensely. Tell me when I am wrong, offer suggestions on how to improve my style or my blog content, I encourage and appreciate such feedback. But please, tell it to my face.  In the words of an ’80s psychotherapist, “Help me help you.” 

A blog only shows a small portion of a person. The blog owner chooses that which she wishes to share with the world. I usually am pretty good with sharing myself warts and all, but today I just don’t want to open myself up for more criticism. I made the choice to not share. I have bad days… and I have feelings.  I am after all, human.

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Cool New Blog…

One of the coolest things about blogging is making new friends all over the world. I have been blogging since early 2005 and have made friends that I have met, that I have gotten to know on a personal level, and that have helped me become a better blogger.

One of these friends is Melissa Street, a very talented professional makeup artist. I don’t know who found whom first, but we have communicated via blog comments, email and social networking for quite a while. I have learned so much from her – cosmetic brands to try out, products that have changed my life, etc. And just wait until Emerson is big enough to sport the adorable “Gucci Gucci Goo!” tee shirt Melissa got for her! :)

Anyway, Melissa has a new blog entitled, “In My Professional Opinion” and I adore it. Melissa has over 20 years in the TV and film industry, so has a great idea of what beauty products can really work for special events or every day wear. Her blog isn’t just high-end lines; Melissa will mix drugstore with higher end brands.

I have learned a lot from Melissa Street; I hope you will check out her blog and enjoy it as much as I have! :)

Blog Action Day

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

What if every blog wrote about the same topic on the same day? what impact would it have? What change could us bloggers make?

This coming Monday, October 15th join me and over 10,000 bloggers and write about the same topic – the environment. A topic that we’re all talking about, and many of us want to do more to help.

From Blog Action Day:
On October 15th – Blog Action Day, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind.

In its inaugural year, Blog Action Day will be co-ordinating bloggers to tackle the issue of the environment.

What Each Blogger Will Do
Bloggers can participate on Blog Action Day in one of two ways:

1. Publish a post on their blog which relates to an issue of their own choice pertaining to the environment.

For example: A blog about money might write about how to save around the home by using environmentally friendly ideas. Similarly a blog about politics might examine what weight environmental policy holds in the political arena.

Posts do not need to have any specific agenda, they simply need to relate to the larger issue in whatever way suits the blogger and readership. Our aim is not to promote one particular viewpoint, only to push the issue to the table for discussion.

2. Commit to donating their day’s advertising earnings to an environmental charity of their choice. There is a list of “official” Blog Action Day charities on the site, however bloggers are also free to choose an alternate environmental charity to donate to if they wish.

And that’s it.

I really cannot think of a single theme blog who cannot write about the environment and not have it be relevant to their topic and their readers. I know the majority of you who do read this blog write somewhere else – you may have your own blog on fashion and beauty, a personal online journal, maybe a Facebook or MySpace page where you sometimes post your thoughts. I encourage all of you, no matter the size of your readership to participate or at least promote this campaign.

And if you do take part, leave a comment with a link to your blog so we can all share in your ideas and thoughts!

Closet Clean-out – The Woman in Her 30s

There are certain points in a woman’s life when it’s time for a major closet clean-out. Just before college, after finishing school, when drastically changing careers…

And when you hit your 30s.

Why am I concentrating on your 30s and not other age? Well the 30s are a crazy time – it’s a time when you usually have established yourself in your career, you often times have found a life partner, possibly have started having children. Usually your residence has become a home – a place you care about and where you have put down some roots.

You aren’t 25 any more and you feel it in almost every aspect of your life. Do you feel it in your wardrobe?

No matter how young you can pass for or how many hours you spend in the gym, when you are over 30 you look ridiculous trying to dress like a 25-year old. Now this doesn’t mean once that birthday hits you have to chuck all your indie labels and head to Ann Taylor; it just means you need to add a bit of polish, refinement and respect to your look. You’ll be surprised – a proper closet clean-out in your early 30s will improve your reputation at work, your chances at finding a mate, and will actually make you look younger and more confident.

The standard Closet Clean-out for a Woman in her 30s.
What to Toss:

1. Half your rubber flip-flop collection. If you read this blog regularly, you know I am not a huge fan of flip flops. They aren’t safe, they aren’t healthy, and they ruin the look (and sound!) of most outfits. However, if you read my other blog you know I own a couple pairs and wear them regularly.

Whether I like it or not, flip flops are convenient. Easy to slip on, cheap, comfortable for short errands and puttering around the house, pool, and beach. The perfect barbecue footwear.

However, they are not proper footwear, and shouldn’t be worn as such. Flip flops are not worn by stylish women outside of the above mentioned locations. This means no flops for work, no flip flops for the mall, no flops for dates, no flops in place of proper footwear. Flip flops are the shoes of adolescents and when they are worn by a woman, they look tacky and out of place.

No need to toss every pair, just half your collection. Keep the black or brown ones that are in fabulous condition and are made with structure (well-made straps, thicker sole, etc.), and go ahead and keep a pair in the same color as your swimsuit. It’s also okay to keep a pair with your college mascot or those classic Adidas “shower shoes” for exactly that – showers at the gym and situations where it’s not the best idea to be completely barefoot. However toss any pair that has beading, sequins, clear straps, printed soles, or obvious logos. Any of the cheap flops from Old Navy or the drugstore that are barely padded, the ones you bought to wear under your gown on your wedding day, the ones that were only $2.99 at Express five years ago, the ones that are practically worn through and you have worn since your lifeguarding days in college… they all need to go. Smelly, worn flip flops are not the way to keep a memory. Dig up a picture of you and your friends at the beach when you wore those flops and frame it in honor of the flip flop retirement. Your feet, your sense of style and eventually you will thank me for this advice.

2. Ironic tee shirts. Fake vintage soda pop ads, Hello Kitty, Care Bears, plays on words, glittery phrases telling the world how sexy, spoiled or fun you are… they all should go in the donation bag STAT. I don’t care if you only wear these around the house or to the gym – I KNOW you have other shirts that can fulfill this duty and do not have messages on them. If not, get thee to Target and buy two or three. They are less than $10, have feminine shapes, fun colors and will survive many washings.

A stylish woman doesn’t have to tell the world what type of person she is, or what brand she is wearing. A stylish woman also doesn’t proclaim her hobbies or fetishes on her bosom. A woman who wears these sorts of shirts in public looks desperate and like a fashion victim. Don’t fall prey to trends – from now on purchase tees and casual wear that are free of logos, embellishment or silkscreening. They won’t age as quickly, and won’t be as likely to age you.

3. Any top made out of denim. This means denim bustiers, chambray shirts, denim shells, vests, cropped little jackets, and all those other pieces that you have been holding on to since the mid ‘90s because someone made you think that denim was classic. This also includes any tops that are partially made of denim (denim collar, denim patches, band, etc.).

Denim is not classic. Yes, the traditional denim jacket comes in and out of style, but each time it is slightly different and a bit harder to pull off when you’re not 21. Unless your lifestyle warrants a sturdy denim jacket or you are considered by many to be a True Fashionista, it’s best to get rid of the denim jackets as well. Nothing ruins the line of a sweet dress, or the style of a simple outfit faster than a denim jacket (especially in a dated wash or silhouette). Getting rid of this excess denim will make your look far more polished, stylish and flattering.

4. Miniskirts (and skorts… and shorts). Okay okay, skorts are a brilliant invention. Looks like a skirt, but has shorts underneath to keep you properly covered (and they also prevent chafing). However, skorts always look like skorts, and skorts always look too much like what little children wear. Skorts have not been in fashion for many years, no matter what QVC or that mail-order catalog tells you. Donate them all.

As for short shorts… they haven’t been in style for years, they aren’t flattering on any normally shaped woman and are uncomfortable to boot. Chino, denim, seersucker, jersey… no short should end right below your bum unless you are under the age of 14.

The same holds true for miniskirts. You may have the greatest legs this side of the Atlantic, but that doesn’t mean you are flattering yourself in a thigh-skimming skirt. Super short skirts look desperate, dated and wrong on the majority of women on this planet. That being said, a short skirt is different from a mini. A skirt that is an inch above the top of your knee is short – a skirt that is an inch below your bum is mini. Rock your great gams in a short skirt every day of the year, they can be quite flattering and sexy (and elongate the leg); however get rid of the minis – they are not doing anything for you.

Note: The combination of short skirt and high heel is never stylish. Nothing taller than a 3” heel with a skirt above the knee, and consider a boot or wedge to balance out all that exposed leg. A basic pump with a short skirt is very ZZ Top and not a polished look for anyone.

5. Cheap bras. No matter your size, a cheap bra is not a flattering bra. It’s time to get rid of any bras you bought at a non-lingerie or department store (hello H&M), the mesh or stretchy lace ones that provide zero support or shape, the ones that are falling apart, the one you bought because it matched those panties that have since been tossed but the bra is so comfortable and it doesn’t matter because you only wear it on weekends… you know you own some of these bras and they aren’t doing you any favors.

You’re an adult now, and it’s time to invest in adult lingerie. Go to a specialty or high end department store and get fitted. This does NOT mean Victoria’s Secret – you are looking for a well-trained professional who specializes in lingerie. After being fitted, you can choose to shop at that store, or go elsewhere that is more in line with your income. Invest in a few skin-colored smooth bras that disappear under knits and light colored clothing, a great bra for styles you often wear (plunging necklines, halter tops, racerbacks, low backs, strapless), and one or two in black or skin color that lift, separate and shape you into a feminine beauty. Once you have these bras, treat them with care. Hand wash them with a product made for such delicate fabric, and have them air dry. If you don’t have the time for hand washing, wash on the gentle cycle of your machine in a lingerie bag. If you baby these bras, they will last far longer, maintain their shape and elasticity and baby you back.

Once you have a proper base bra collection, you can then slowly add to it with lacy, racy and frilly confections. Even those these pieces are less versatile, they should be purchased considering how they shape you and how they are fashioned. Spending money on quality lingerie will save you money in the long run, and nothing makes you look thinner or more youthful than a properly lifted bust line!

6. Laura Ashley Dresses. Church dresses, Laura Ingalls Wilder dresses, granny dresses, prairie dresses… I have asked many fashion experts for the proper term of these sorts of dresses and no one can come up one. This may because they have been out of fashion for so very long of a time!

These are the dresses that are often made of rayon or challis, bias cut or with an empire waist and hang from mid-calf to ankle length. In the early ‘90s they were often spaghetti strap and worn alone as a sundress or paired with a baby tee. Usually these dresses are seen with tank-style straps or cap sleeves. They are sometimes solid on color, but usually in floral print (hence the “Laura Ashley” term).

No matter your sense of style, these dresses are no longer stylish. As with denim tops, these are not classic pieces and look dated and frumpy on any woman of any age. Yes, the bias-cut dress may be flattering to your hourglass frame, and yes that floral print may remind you of your childhood bedroom. That doesn’t mean it is the attire of a stylish or polished woman.

It is possible to have a conservative wardrobe without succumbing to the Laura Ashley dress. It is also possible to show off your feminine style without having these dresses in your wardrobe. Consider separates, sheath dresses, and dresses with a more retro style (belted with a full skirt). They can be just as conservative, just as feminine and just as flattering without looking as though you are an extra from Little House on the Prairie.

7. Cheap polyester skirts. During my many years of retail management, personal shopping and visual merchandising I worked for the clothing company Express. Express was the go-to store for many college and post-college aged women in the late ‘90s because they offered affordable variations of runway styles, trendy suiting, and wearable date and clubwear. One of their most popular items was the mesh-overlay skirt. Many other retailers carried this same garment and it was seen on almost every American woman at some point during the late ‘90s to early ‘00s. This skirt was straight, often with an elastic waist and usually fell just above to the middle of the knee. The lining was a stretchy lycra or a thin polyester acetate, the top layer was a mesh usually in a graphic print, often embellished with rhinestones or embroidery. These skirts were paired with bra tanks and flip flops in summer, with ribbed turtlenecks and tall boots in winter. They were fabulous because they were cheap, trendy, machine washable and versatile.

I remember I had a taupe acrylic v-neck stretchy sweater (the “Jet Sweater” from Express) that I paired with one of these sheer skirts – it had a red under layer and a black, ivory and taupe abstract leaf-print top layer. I wore this ensemble to work, to bridal showers, on dates, to church. I found it to be elegant yet hip, trendy while classic. When the skirt no longer fit, I packed this set in a steamer truck in case I got back down to this size. I opened this steamer trunk two years ago and this “elegant ensemble” now looked cheap and sad.

That’s what these skirts look like to the rest of the world. They are not flattering (they show every curve and bump), they usually hit at a weird place on the leg, the fabric goes with little other than the poly tops and acrylic sweaters that were sold during the same era, and they look very dated and cheap.

Invest in one or two pencil or a-line skirts that hit at the slimmest part of your leg. Get one in black, gray or brown and another in a fun color or print. If you choose a sturdy fabric with a bit of stretch, the skirt will work in almost every season and be resistant to wrinkles. You will find it will easily take the spot where these cheap skirts used to reside and you will look thinner, more elegant and more modern.

8. Club Tops. You know what a club top is – it’s that little beaded, sequined or shiny synthetic wonder you picked up for $12.99 at some store you usually wouldn’t shop at. One of those stores in the mall with too loud of music, overcrowded jumbled racks organized by price point, fitting rooms that don’t have doors or mirrors (and smell a bit like Fritos), and the rest of the customers are under the age of 17. You were probably shopping with a bunch of friends and went in for giggles and was overwhelmed by the incredibly low prices or the fantastic bling (and neckline) of the top. It’s stretch satin, polyester mesh, Lycra. It has rhinestones, sequins, beading, lace cut-outs or maybe all four. It is near impossible to wear with a bra or the couple of days before your period. It’s a top that you don’t mind having a bit of beer spilled on it, possibly your “Get Lucky” top.

Well a stylish woman doesn’t own tops like this and doesn’t really need them to get what she wants out of an evening. One can be utterly sexy without looking trashy or cheap. Consider a silk camisole in a flattering rich color that is low on embellishments, but high on style. Tube tops have come back in style – a blouson one in silk or silk jersey shows skin while showing elegance. A chiffon or silk wrap blouse shows off your waistline and your décolleté while still showing your sense of style. You will find if you purchase more elegant of evening tops you will require fewer in your closet. Switch up the look with accessories – gold hoops and bangles one night, diamond studs another. Surprisingly, higher quality evening attire will save you money in the long run.

9. Cheap suiting. This includes unlined jackets, jackets that have such a sheen they catch the light, tight trousers that show VPL, overly trendy lapels and leg widths, short tight suit skirts, short skirts with long jackets (go ahead and sing it with me), and anything that has embroidery, fur trim, decals, or sequins attached to it.

You most likely aren’t applying to work at Amanda Woodward’s agency, so there really isn’t a place to wear this sort of “career wear.” Working for those few years for Express I sold and purchased much of this attire (also got quite a lot from other retailers such as Arden B and Bebe). Melrose Place and then Sex and the City were the hot shows to watch and take fashion cues from. Suiting got very creative, and very sexy. It was easy to care for since it wasn’t lined, stretchy so it showed off my curves, and mixed and matched with much of my bar and club attire. It was great to have when working retail for I gave the appearance of being a professional and yet still a fashionista.

Problem is that sort of suiting doesn’t work in most parts of the retail world. Unless you work in fashion, retail, beauty or a very creative firm, cheap and sexy suiting is a no-go. As for cheap suiting – it’s better to show up in a sweater and trousers than an ill-fitting and cheaply fashioned blazer. Cheap suiting gives off the same impression as the cheap club tops – you are desperate and you are not the cream of the crop.

I highly encourage every woman to invest in a classic black pantsuit if she ever has the reason to dress up outside of the home. You never know when you will be asked to speak in front of the PTA, go on a job interview, attend the funeral of a loved one, represent your company at a trade show or convention. The pants work alone with blouses and sweaters in your collection, the jacket should be a classic enough style to work for many seasons without looking dated (keep the buttons black and the pockets covered and to a minimum). Many stores that specialize in career wear have great end of season sales and often maintain the same fabric though many years so you can build up a budget-friendly collection of mix and match career wear.

If you are going on an interview or starting a new job tomorrow and all you have is that boxy brown unlined blazer with the gold pinstripes and double-breasted buttons… unless the dress code specifies a full suit you may be better off in a crisp white tailored shirt, a dark skirt or pair of trousers, simple leather pumps and a strand of pearls. A polished woman wishes to always give the best impression and sometimes it is better to be appropriately underdressed and than inappropriately dressed.

You may also wish to visit:
The Staples For Every Woman’s Wardrobe
Dressing for Your Interview
What if I Hate Shopping?
Black Doesn’t Make You Look Slimmer, it Only Makes You Look Boring

Modern Technology and the Anonymous Blog Commenter

I am not terribly tech-savvy when it comes to blogging. I am still on Blogger for my blog, I don’t know much about how to optimize this blog for search engines, I have never used Photoshop. However, I do know that in 2012 it’s pretty hard to truly be anonymous on the Internet.

I don’t delete comments on this blog unless they are hurtful to others – nothing racist, nothing about my family, nothing against a certain group of individuals. Also if you write about something that may embarrass or offend another I will delete it. But go ahead and critique my outfit, say I’ve gained weight, or that you disagree with my post. I have chosen to put myself on the Internet, and with that you have the right to your opinion. And even if you write a comment saying I am stupid, fat, ugly, or annoying I will post it – you have the right to your opinion since I made the choice to put myself out there.

But do realize that you’re not completely anonymous. All these comments above come from the same IP address, and as you see, this same IP address has been leaving non-constructive comments for over a year on my blog. I also like to see that this commenter replies to his or her own comments, acting as though he or she is different individuals. This is just a snippet of what she has left.  And yes, all of these comments have been published on my blog and this person will continue to be published on my blog if she or he decides to leave a comment.

Per Wikipedia, “An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a numerical label assigned to each device (e.g., computer, printer) participating in a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication.” And so dear Ella/Ainsley/Meredith/Andy/Sandy/Lizzie, your computer is letting me know you are all the same person, and you need to get out and find a new hobby.

It’s fine to not like me, I do not expect the whole world to. I don’t blog in hopes of winning some virtual popularity contest.  There’s a lot of things about me that are really annoying – you don’t know the half of them because you don’t have to deal with me in real life or on a daily basis. But to keep coming back to the same blog over and over and over again, thinking up new names and email addresses to leave comments that rarely give food for thought, constructive criticism, or a well-crafted opinion is a pretty lame hobby. Read a book, volunteer in your community, invite a friend for coffee, or if you really do think your style is better than mine… show it with your own blog.  And go ahead, link to it in my comments, I’d love to check it out.

I’m not calling out just this one individual, but all of you who “hate read” blogs. I’ll admit, I do occasionally check out a train wreck online, and yes, I occasionally visit GOMI. There’s some crap out there on teh interwebs, and talented people who snark on that crap. But the mean-spirited comments that lack constructive feedback are so lame. If you think I have fat legs, you’re not the only one – I fully agree. Telling me they are fat doesn’t change things, but telling me what you think I should wear instead could make a difference. I have often changed my wardrobe or purchased new things based upon reader comments and feedback.  Go ahead and snark, and go ahead and snark on me. But do it with style and intelligence. If you can’t manage that and don’t understand how the Internet works, I recommend you get yourself a new hobby.

Love,
Alison

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The Writing’s on the Wall… of my Blog… (Meme)

So I was visiting my friend Nicole’s blog (won’t link because she likes her job – and not for them to read her blog) and she did a meme that involves handwriting.

Interest piqued!

I used to get failing grades in handwriting when in elementary school.  I hold writing utensils in a weird way, where I have two to three fingers on top of the pen, versus the standard one finger (I say this is a good thing since Princess Diana and Michael Jackson both supposedly held writing utensils in the same manner).  This caused my handwriting to slant in 50 different directions.  I would come home with that mushy wide-rule paper with big red slashes through it, showing my crooked illegible cursive.

I decided to embrace my handwriting, make it an art form, love it for what it was.  I love my handwriting, and I LOVE to write.  I write in journals not to pen my thoughts, but for the relaxing meditative results of pen to paper.  I prefer old-school college-rule spiral notebooks (the more subjects the better) and a black pen with a medium tip that just glides across the paper.  Seriously, I dig my Bic.

So the meme is – write the answers to these questions on a piece of paper:

  1. What’s your name/your blogger name?
  2. What’s your blog’s name/URL?
  3. Write “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” (original meme forgot the word brown)
  4. Favorite quote?
  5. Your Favorite song?
  6. Your favorite band/singers?
  7. Anything else you want to say?
  8. Tag three to five other people.

As you see above (if you can read my handwriting), I am tagging everyone who wants to participate.  I would love to see your handwriting!  Blogging is a great way to connect with fab people from across the globe, but we rarely get to know regular in person things about our blogging friends – what we sound like, how we laugh, what our handwriting looks like.  Gosh in this day and age, how many of us still write on a daily basis?

I want to know you better!  If you do this meme, come back here and let me know so I can get to know you better!

And if you would like to know more about what your handwriting says about you, check out these links:
http://www.personalityquiz.net/innertraits/handwriting.htm
http://www.3smartcubes.com/pages/tests/handwriting_analysis/handwriting_analysis_instructions.asp
http://handwriting.feedbucket.com/

#Blog4Good with Goodwill Greater Washington

In honor of Goodwill Industries Week, I am taking part in #Blog4Good, a campaign to highlight Goodwill of Greater Washington‘s mission to end employment by supporting and training the unemployed and underemployed in our area.

Thrifting has become a hot way to look on trend and hone your personal style. I embrace this trend because it’s budget friendly, it keeps clothing out of landfills, and it helps others. Goodwill of Greater Washington’s primary mission is to provide job training and employment services to people with disadvantages and disabilities. They strive to provide the populations they serve with the tools they need to become self-sufficient.

In 2012, Goodwill of Greater Washington directly affected the lives of more than 3,200 locals who found re-dignity that comes with being a contributing member of our society. Goodwill is also responsible for diverting more than 20 million pounds of trash from DC-region landfills through their donation program. This is just stats for my area, imagine how much good Goodwill does with their 2,650 retail stores and shops across the country and Canada!

Visit the Goodwill of Greater Washington website to learn more about its mission and programs that are being recognized during Goodwill Industries Week. You can also follow the DC Goodwill Fashionista (and the Spanish version too!) and share your stories on Twitter with the hashtag #blog4Good. If you desire to shop or donate, you can find your local Goodwill at Goodwill.org.

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Why I Blog my Daily Outfits

I don’t take pictures of myself because I think I am beautiful, or young, or a fashion maven. I don’t think I am perfect. I take pictures of myself because I am not perfect. I share my daily outfits because there aren’t enough examples out there of women who are not a model size, or model height, or have a model face who embrace fashion. I take these pictures to show you don’t have to be any of these things to have personal style, to have fun with fashion, and feel beautiful. All women deserve to realize how fabulous they are, and clothing is a great way for women to express themselves and flatter their body. I hope with each outfit post I motivate a fellow woman to try color, to embrace fashion, and find her own personal style.

If you think I post my pictures because I am a narcissist, you’re dead wrong and obviously not reading the text that accompanies the photos on this blog. And if you think I’m in love with myself… well you’re correct and I am damn proud of that fact. If you stop hating on other people, you may have the time to get to know yourself a bit better and realize you’re worth loving as well!

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UPDATED: Closet Clean-out – The Woman in Her 30s

One thing with having a blog for this long is that some of my “classic” fashion advice stops being classic. While one may try to buy pieces that will work for decades, few pieces really accomplish just that – shoulders slightly change, the taper on a skirt will increase or decrease over a decade, and items that seemed to be utterly passé return as “fashion staples.” So every so often, I revisit some of my old posts and update them for the new decade.

I have seen a lot of forums and sites complain about my post “Closet Clean-out – The Woman in Her 30s.” They find it too limiting, and out of date. I did write it three years ago, so let’s take another look at that list, and how it fits for women in 2011:

You aren’t 25 any more and you feel it in almost every aspect of your life. Do you feel it in your wardrobe?

No matter how young you can pass for or how many hours you spend in the gym, when you are over 30 you look ridiculous trying to dress like a 25-year old. Now this doesn’t mean once that birthday hits you have to chuck all your indie labels and head to Ann Taylor; it just means you need to add a bit of polish, refinement and respect to your look. You’ll be surprised – a proper closet clean-out in your early ‘30s will improve your reputation at work, your chances at finding a mate, and will actually make you look younger and more confident.

The Standard Closet Clean-out for a Woman in her 30s – Updated for the New Decade

What to Toss:

1. Half your rubber flip-flop collection. Oh this one gets a lot of flack. Am I really asking you to toss ALL OF YOUR BELOVED FLIP FLOPS??? Nope, read it again – I wrote HALF of your rubber flip flops, and note I say RUBBER. There is a difference between a leather flip flop and a cheapy pair from Old Navy, there is a difference between the silver thongs that look so great with your maxi dress, and your smelly pair of Havaianas that have seen far better days.

Keep your Reefs and your Rainbows, but thin out the collection. No need for a pair to match every top in your wardrobe for flip flops are not real footwear.  The more pairs you own, the more likely they will creep into everyday fashion.  Keep a pair that matches your bathing suit, a pair for running out into the yard, a standard black or brown pair in great condition for casual events.

Flip flops are for the beach, the pool, the neighbor’s cookout. They are not street shoes. They are terrible for your foot health, they are dangerous on an escalator, and they look tacky when trying to pretend to be true footwear. Instead, look for flat sandals or leather thongs which are just as easy and comfy, but far more stylish.

2. Ironic tee shirts. Again, another item that gets folks up in arms. So you keep your Hello Kitty tee shirt just for trips to the gym, or your Star Wars shirt just for trips to the grocery store and Home Depot. Don’t you see people when you go to these places? Anytime you leave your home, you have a chance with destiny. Dress for it. Don’t let people make assumptions about you.

Ironic tees are perfect for events like Comic-Con or a music festival; an event where like-minded people get together. These are places where such a tee shirt will be appreciated. When an adult woman heads out into public wearing a tee shirt with Tigger on the front, she will not be taken seriously, no matter how intelligent or composed she is.

3. Any top made out of denim. I type this the same day I ironed my relatively new chambray shirt. Who would have thought that in three years denim shirts would have made such a big comeback? Obviously not me.

So denim is back in, but that doesn’t mean every woman should hold on to her Express denim jacket from 2001 or her L.L. Bean chambray shirt from college. The silhouettes are washes are slightly different this time around, and style is in those tiny details. Unless you are the queen of vintage and can rock Brenda Walsh’s wardrobe in a new and funky way, keep your denim shirt shopping to a minimum. As a 36-year old woman, I chose to purchase only one denim-ish shirt this season, and went with a version from Target so I didn’t make a big investment. Denim went out of favor just a few years ago… and I have a good feeling it will be passé again in a couple years more.

4. Miniskirts (and skorts… and shorts). So shorts are back as well. Leather shorts on starlets, silk shorts on fashionistas, and candy-colored chino ones on anyone who loves J. Crew. Shorts are great when it’s hot out, and they are easy fashion for casual weekends.

The thing is, no matter how much you hit the gym, your 30-something gams won’t be as fab as your 20-something ones. Gravity, desk jobs, spending too many hours on your feet… these take a toll on a woman’s legs and thighs. So wear the shorts and even wear the shorter skirts, but be realistic. Make sure you can sit and pick up something from the ground without flashing the world, do the fingertip test (one should never wear a skirt that is shorter than her longest fingertip when arms to her side), and if unsure, choose the longer version for more versatility (mini skirts and shorts are not professional looking nor appropriate for weddings and religious events).

One item I would add to this list that I would not have in ’08 are the distressed denim mini skirts. While this was a fun look a couple years ago with a fitted tee and beaded necklace, this look now is dated and a bit Rock of Love. Instead choose denim cutoffs in a flattering length or a dark denim refined skirt, free of tears and bleach spots.

And as for skorts? Leave them to the tennis players.

5. Cheap bras. Read my recent post on getting a professional bra fitting. Look at my before and after photos. Read the comments from fellow readers. A quality bra that fits can totally transform not only your look, but your posture and health. You’re an adult, and you deserve quality underpinnings that support and flatter this beautiful adult body.

6. Laura Ashley Dresses. Another item that has gained popularity thanks to the vintage fashion darlings. I know some women (the blogger La Petite Marmoset comes to mind) who looks utterly adorable in a Laura Ashley dress. She knows how to rock it with some big chunky sandals, a hat, and a crazy accessory. She inherently knows how to make it work for her, make it look modern.

If you’re reading this, you probably don’t have the innate creative fashion sense of these vintage fashion bloggers. That’s okay, neither do I. And for that, we must steer clear of the polyester rayon challis calf-length dresses covered in calico prints.

7. Cheap polyester skirts. I still see these skirts being sold in some department stores like Kohl’s and PC Penney and it makes my stomach turn. A polyester tube of fabric covered with a tube of polyester mesh is not a flattering look on ANYONE. For a similar and more stylish look, consider a pencil skirt. I have found some great pencil skirts at all price points of stretchy Ponte de Roma, stretch denim, lined wool crepe, sturdy chino, lined silk and more.

8. Club Tops. Club tops are slowly disappearing from retailers (unless you shop at Frederick’s of Hollywood) but what is in their place are the teeny tiny camis that can’t be worn with a stitch of underpinnings. Be they spandex tubes or flimsy silky camisoles with lingerie straps, they can be seen as sexy… or desperate.

In my original post I mention both camis and tube tops as good alternatives, which can be seen as a conflict with the paragraph above. The difference is that I mention pieces that are flowing, blouson, silk. You don’t need to show off the indentation of your belly button to be sexy. Elegance and confidence are far more sexy attributes to show off.

9. Cheap suiting. Cheap suiting still exists, I see it in every discount retailer and on the Victoria’s Secret website. Unless you work at a very high-powered corporation or on The Hill, you probably don’t need to wear a suit to work every single day. Invest in one or two simple, basic suits in colors like black and gray so they can mix and match and work year-round. For other days, consider separates – trousers that don’t cling to your rear, skirts that hit around the knee, blouses and dresses that aren’t too tight.

If you do need to wear a suit every day, again choose quality and subtle colors so you can get away with wearing each piece more often. Break up the monotony with blouses and shells and subtle accessories.

And per my original post, shop career-friendly retailers in their sale departments for reasonable prices, and if you are torn between a cheap suit and a crisp shirt and skirt or trousers… go with the latter. Fit trumps uniform for interviews, business meetings, and corporate events. You will lose credibility faster in an ill-fitting polyester suit than in a blouse and trousers that fit and flatter.

What else I would add to this list:

  • Cheap pleather bags. This isn’t saying you can’t use vegan bags, but look for bags that are well-made. No more patent-leather designer knockoffs from Target, vinyl blinged-out purses from Payless, and NEVER pay for a fake designer bag (read this if you’re still considering fakes, & do a little Googling to see the true cost of purchasing fakes). If you can’t afford a designer bag, you’re not alone. Choose bags with fewer details – less metal, fewer studs, fewer trends. Go to the classics – even a small L.L. Bean Boat and Tote can be a chic summer handbag. Buy vintage – it’s en vogue and a stylish way to recycle and reuse while staying on budget.
  • Belly rings. Unless you are one who rocks piercings and body modification, little rhinestone belly rings are past their prime.
  • Silly Bandz/Cause Bracelets. My daughter wears Silly Bandz, and she is two. As for cause bracelets, my husband is a cancer survivor, but my Livestrong bracelet has been tucked very far in the back of my jewelry box for almost a decade. You can show your support for a cause without wearing rubber around your wrist.

Do not think that once you have your 30th birthday you have to dress in all gray with skirts past your knees. On the contrary. The point of this list isn’t to make you a Stepford Thirty-something, but to help you be realistic with your wardrobe. Show your personality with color and prints, use your post-college paycheck for some fabulous pumps or a well-made handbag. Notice what you are drawn to, and work on creating a signature look. Every woman’s personal style is different, instead of hiding behind your dated and inappropriate closet pieces, embrace this new stage of your life and find that look that is unequivocally, completely you.

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FFB Blog Event: Dressing Like a Feminist

This week’s topic for Feminist Fashion Bloggers is, “How do you express your feminism in the way you dress?”

I found this question difficult to answer. I don’t think about any message I wish to portray when I get dressed every morning. But then I thought, I do think about you, my blog readers when I get dressed. I want to show that you don’t have to be a size 4, 22 years old, or 5’9” to look stylish and feel beautiful.

The average American woman is 5’3”, she wears a size 14. Yep, that’s me. I have brown hair, brown eyes, beige skin. I am neither fat nor thin, not remarkably tall or short. I am typical.

I use this blog to celebrate my typical exterior, and show how an “average” woman doesn’t have to look average. I use this blog to help other women find their personal style. My personal style won’t be the same as any other woman’s, but maybe it can inspire another to get outside her box, embrace her figure and her personality through her dress.

Clothing is a wonderful way to express yourself – a walking billboard of your passions, your thoughts, your beliefs. For some women, clothing is a way to show their religion or cultural heritage; for other women, clothing is a way to express their passion for music or a certain era of time environmental concerns. Clothing has a way of making the wearer feel powerful, feel graceful, feel confident, feel unique. Clothing can be a suit of armor – having a wardrobe of workhorses/wardrobe staples means you are ready for whatever life throws your way; you can spend less time in front of the closet and more time living.

Clothing is something that we all have to wear to participate in everyday society; we should use it as a tool to properly express and showcase ourselves. As a feminist, I choose clothing that makes ME feel good, makes ME happy, flatters my figure, but also my soul.

I have never dressed in a manner to attract a mate. I fully believe that a mate is attracted to a person who is beautiful to them in every sense. At work, I wear what makes me feel confident, not what seems to be the office uniform. I respect etiquette and cultural expectations because I respect my company, my family, and the hosts of events I attend; I don’t dress to please others.

I dress to show how much I love this amazing body. I honor it with garments that flatter and feel good. I share my spirit and my artistic side by wearing colors that please me, combinations that may not necessarily go with the runway trends but go with my heart. I wear jewelry and clothing that belonged to (or were made by) family members because it makes me feel good to honor them and thank them for such gifts that were passed down to me.

When I get dressed each morning, I think about this blog. I don’t care if someone likes or hates my outfit. Instead, I think about how I may inspire another woman to realize that she can be smart AND stylish, a wonderful mom AND a person who follows her passions, a strong person and a fashionable one. You don’t have to sacrifice style for substance.

Click here to see the other posts by fellow Feminist Fashion Bloggers.

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The Old Fashion Blog She Ain’t What She Used to Be: Why Blogs Change

blogging

You’ve been a blog reader for a long while, long before every single girl in America with a Rebecca Minkoff Mini MAC started one. You’ve had favorites who really spoke to you, but lately their blogs are disappointing. What happened to that awesome blog from 2007, 2009, or even 2012 that you loved so much? I’ve been blogging since 2005 and have made friends with many fellow veteran bloggers. We all hear this complaint from old readers that our blogs have changed, they miss the old us. Here’s some of the reasons why our blogs ain’t what they used to be:

Audience Growth

It’s easy to be brutally honest and candid when you’re writing for an audience of 30. But when that audience grows to 3,000 or gosh even 300,000 you start questioning what you choose to share. On top of it, it gets weird when your blog life merges into your real life: work clients mentioning they read your blog, local politicians emailing an “Ask Allie” fashion question, distant relatives “Liking” your blog on Facebook, the mom of your daughter’s friend asking if the birthday party the two of you are at will end up on Instagram.  Suddenly those pageviews become real people who have influence on your day job, your child, your community, you and your family’s future.

It’s not always easy to realize when your favorite blog has grown in popularity. Sure, they may have a few more sponsored posts or followers on social media, but sometimes when the increase in traffic is viral (Google searches, a link on a popular site or feature in a newspaper) that traffic can be hidden to the average blog reader but can cause the blog writer to have a minor freakout when she sees her Google analytics and make her more careful with what is shared.

Personal Growth

When I started my blog I was 29 and thought I knew everything. I had a very definite opinion and voice on this blog, a voice I created envisioning my posts someday becoming a book. As my audience grew, I occasionally did things to be controversial to increase traffic because that bit of growth was so addictive. With time, I’ve gotten to know many of you as people I care about instead of exciting numbers, and my voice and direction for this blog has changed because of it.  I also feel that with age comes wisdom and experiences that have changed who I am, my priorities, and my voice.  A lot can happen in the years you’ve been following a blog: marriage, divorce, children, job change, religion or spiritual change, moving to a new location, weight loss or gain, health issues… all of these changes will affect not just the blog’s content but how content is delivered.  As a blogger grows and experiences things, her voice will change with that personal development.

Life Changes

When I was pregnant I started a baby blog. I thought it would be a great way to journal the journey into motherhood, and maybe I’d publish it into a book that my child could enjoy when she was older. I shared all the vegetable and fruit she was supposed to resemble in my body, a very detailed birth story, problems with breastfeeding, experiences with cloth diapers and baby led weaning. It was all fine and good until she got to the age where she was being potty trained and I realized… this isn’t a sweater, this is a human being that is being raised in the era of the Internet. Do I really want to be sharing her bodily functions with the world? Should I be sharing ANYTHING about her for that matter? She doesn’t really have a say, and I’m here writing posts about her to garner attention and income. I made the blog private, and soon after shut it down completely.

My fashion blog also changed because of Emerson. My personal life no longer belonged just to me. While many readers had become friends, I knew there were a lot out there who were complete strangers, and I knew some readers didn’t like me very much. It felt very wrong to put my family and personal information out there to the universe, not knowing who was reading it and what they were doing with it. It’s a very weird experience being a blogger; the most intimate posts and details are the ones that get the most feedback and “likes.” It’s tempting to share more to get more positive feedback, but there’s this weird point where you wonder if you’re having special family moments for your family or your readers; if you’re infringing on your loved ones’ privacy by sharing that which involves and affects them.  I’ve chatted with many bloggers who also struggle with this balance.

Lack of Comments

The old blog commenter, she ain’t what she used to be either. With RSS readers, mobile phones, and social media, comment areas have become a wasteland of, “Cute shoes, check out my blog!” and spam for Viagra and Louis Vuitton. While my subscribers have quintupled in the past three years, the comments on many of my posts have dwindled down to a trickle. It’s hard to be real when you feel you’re talking to a wall. I’m grateful to you readers who do leave comments, and I’ve built up my Facebook community to have a platform to get real with those who use it to follow me and other blogs.  But because comment fields have become a place for trolls, spammers, and self-promoting bloggers instead of a venue to interact and get to know readers, many bloggers are shutting down comments all together. I never wish to do that, but the longer I blog and the larger my audience the more I understand their choice. And this gets to my next reason…

The Anonymous and the Creepy

I’m not talking about the activist group, I’m talking about the ability for blog readers to be unknown. Anonymous comments, fake email addresses, tools to hide IP addresses and where they clicked from to get to your blog. Having anonymity gives people a feeling of power, and they sometimes abuse it. This isn’t about the anonymous comments or emails that say you’re ugly or fat; I’m talking about those who take it to the next level. Many of us deal with strangers who have threatened our lives, our careers, or our families and some have acted upon it, contacting places of work, blog advertisers, spouses, and neighbors to harm us in some manner.

Some other readers don’t try to be malicious, but they cross the line from loyal and loving reader to downright creepy. There’s a difference between being a fan and being a Stan, and this doesn’t just happen to the more famous bloggers. I know from experience and conversations with my peers that this happens to bloggers of all size and genre of audiences. We don’t talk about it because we don’t want to look ungrateful or as though we have a big head but it still creeps us out.

When you choose to be a blogger, especially one who works to grow her traffic and monetizes her site, you’re choosing to be a public figure. However, when things start getting upsetting and you’re not famous enough for an entourage to filter out and protect you from it (or have the bankroll to justify dealing with it), you can’t help but have it affect what you choose to share on the blog.

Numbers Don’t Lie… or Do They?

We bloggers have a kazillion tools at our disposal to know about our blog traffic. We can see general demographics, location, and we can see which posts are shared the most. If you see that posts about a certain subject perform better (more shares on social media, higher traffic that day, other bloggers linking to it, more sales from your affiliate program, more traffic from search engines), you of course are going to write about that subject more often.

With the reduction in comments and an increase in traffic, stats are what bloggers go by to gauge the temperature of their audience and choose the direction of the blog. If you feel a beauty blog is writing too much about her home décor, it’s likely because her home décor posts are getting the most traffic. Most bloggers try to be authentic, but provide content they believe their audience desires, and we have to use our numbers to figure that out.

ROI

When I started blogging, I’d maybe change my blog’s background or font color but that’s about it for admin work, and that was more for fun. But blogging’s come a long way baby, and to stay relevant you’ve got to keep up with the times. This means templates that are clean, easy to navigate, and mobile-friendly. Images that are high quality but not so big it takes ten minutes to load a page. Ways to connect on social media and by email. Maintaining content not just on the blog but on social media. All of this takes time and some know-how. That know-how takes more time to learn, or a very nice person who will do it for a very nice price. Oh, and that awkwardly long blogspot.com URL has GOT to go, which means hosting fees and all that jazz. There’s gotta be a return on investment to make it worthwhile to successfully blog in this day and age.

As blogs have become more popular and more professional, it takes even more time to make a blog successful financially. Advertisers don’t just pick a blogger who writes about their brand. They look at the numbers, see how influential a blogger is on social media, and yes, how pretty the brand will look on that blogger and her blog. They don’t just contact you and offer a free dress, now there are expectations for number of photos, word count, Pinterest boards, shares on social media, videos and content for their sites and social media. A regularly updated media kit and plenty of contracts and conference calls.  Things that worked great in 2013 are archaic in 2014; advertisers want their brand featured on the latest and greatest and expect more with their partnerships.

And the ways to make money on blogs have changed dramatically. Two years ago, most of my income came from sidebar ads. Took only a couple of minutes to install the code, and it didn’t interfere with my content.  In 2014 though my traffic is much larger than it was in 2012, I make a third of what I did with sidebar ads. Money is now from affiliate links and “native advertising” (sponsored posts and partnerships).  And sponsored posts continue to be more complicated – create a corresponding Pinterest board, lead a Twitter chat, create a DIY tutorial, make a video, have X amount of original photos and a minimum word count of Y.  All of this used to be handled with a couple emails, now brands request phone calls, Skype sessions, proposals, and contracts.  This means we bloggers need to work more hours and change our content just to make the same money we used to.  To keep a blog from being one gigantic ad, you need to work extra hours to fill the space between sponsored content with authentic stuff, which makes that ROI harder to achieve.  Vicious cycle, no? And you wonder why all the “good” blogs shutter.

In Summary…

If you are still reading a blog you read five or more years ago, it’s because that blogger is passionate about blogging. They’re still here because they love it, and because they love you.  In the internet world, if you don’t keep up with the times you might as well be Geocities, Friendster, or LiveJournal. And in the real world, if you’re the same exact person you were five years ago, you need to step away from the computer and live the real life. Blogs are special because they’re (usually) written by humans, not corporations. And humans change and grow, make bad decisions, feel pain and sadness, and learn from mistakes. Our blogs grow with us, and I’m pretty sure my peers would agree that we’re so honored that you have stuck with us through it all.

As for me, I’d love to hear from you. Wardrobe Oxygen is NOT what it was even a year ago, and it will continue to change. But let me know what you love, what you hate, what you miss, and what you wish I’d start including. With Disqus (the tool I use for comments) you can sign in as a guest and use a fake name and email if you wish to be anonymous; I also have a comment form where you can put in a fake email and name if you wish. I also take feedback on Twitter and Facebook. There’s no point in having this site if you don’t enjoy it. I look forward to connecting with you, and I look forward to the future of this blog and your part in it!

Hair Update: How to Style Blunt Bangs

As you know from a previous post, I got a haircut I didn’t expect or necessarily like. It has been a learning experience since then, trying out new products, tools, and methods to style the new ‘do. One of the biggest changes is I now have thick blunt bangs. With naturally wavy hair, it’s not easy to keep the bangs looking great. So when BlogHer asked me if I wanted to choose a video from their extensive BlogHerTV collection and recreate one of their beauty or hair tutorials, I was thrilled. Even more thrilled when I found this video on how to style blunt bangs from Lorenzo of the Warren-Tricomi salon in Los Angeles.


The video instructs that to get great blunt bangs, dry bangs in a sweeping back and forth motion with a paddle brush. This was actually how I was drying my bangs before, but thanks to the video I have added flat ironing with a fine-toothed comb and a fine mist of hair spray to set. Amazing how these added details really improved the look of my blunt bangs, and also kept them looking good for a longer period of time!

If you too are rocking the blunt bangs, I encourage you to check out the video above to get some useful styling tips. And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win $100!


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Life Well Lived – Day to Night Beauty

Recently BlogHer asked some bloggers about our beauty shortcuts – It’s the end of your day and you’re rushing to get ready for an evening out. How do you create a nighttime look in just a few minutes? This is something I deal with often as a full-time working mother as well as a fashion blogger – I often run from an 8-11 hour work day to an evening blogging event or date with my husband. I have learned ways to make a day look quickly and easily transition to evening.

Day to Night Makeup


In my purse I have a small cosmetic bag with essentials to amp up my daytime makeup. A travel-sized tube of volumizing mascara, a black kohl pencil, a creamy lip balm, and a flame red lipstick. What I am wearing determines whether I amp up the eyes, or amp up the lips.

If I am wearing dark colors or a modern silhouette, I usually choose to get a rocker vibe with an intense eye. I will slowly circle my eyes with the kohl liner, use a warm ring finger to smudge a bit, and then add a few coats of mascara to up the intensity. For the lips I will keep it simple with the pinky-brown lipcolor I wore during the day.

If I am wearing bright colors, I find a red lip makes what could be seen as a day look instantly look evening-appropriate. I have a long-wearing red lipcolor so I don’t have to bother with constant reapplication (or lipstick on my teeth or the cheek of the person I air kissed); I use my ring finger to add a thin layer of the lip balm to my eyelids – this makes the face look dressy without sparkle or shimmer. the balm then goes in my bag to keep the long-wearing lipstick shiny and feeling soft all night.

Both makeup updates only take a couple minutes and can completely transform not just my face but my entire ensemble.

I loved reading the other bloggers’ responses to this question – lots of great tips on how to create an evening look in a jiffy. If you too would like to learn other bloggers’ tips for keeping for a quick day-to-night makeup transition, I encourage you to check out this post. While there, share your own personal tips for a quick day to evening look!

While visiting BlogHer, be sure to enter the Life Well Lived Moments Sweepstakes – share your Life Well Lived Moment and you may win $250!

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Review and Giveaway: J.Jill Uncomplicate Me This Spring

I learn so much from you readers: sites to visit, beauty products to try, and clothing brands to check out. Many of you have raved about J.Jill and how the brand carries quality pieces in regular, petite, tall, and women’s sizes. With spring upon us, I’ve been looking for warm weather clothes to add to my wardrobe. When BlogHer and J.Jill approached me to try out J.Jill’s linen collection, I was excited.Many of you have raved about J.Jill’s linen collection in how it washes and wears so well. Linen is one of the oldest fabrics still in use today; it was first used in Egypt where it was prized for its purity and cleanliness. Today, linen is loved for its breathability, easy care (machine washable and dryable or dry cleaned), and durability – a great linen piece can last for years of wear because it’s 2-3 times the strength of cotton and just gets softer and better with time.

This spring, J.Jill is offering Linen in a Whole New Light. Their popular linen collection is updated with fresh details, blended knits, and watercolor effect prints that offer new ways to experience the fab fabric. J.Jill’s linen blend fabrics include rayon to increase the fabrics’ softness and provide luster and drape; and cotton for softness, a cool touch, and to minimize shrinkage (J.Jill’s linen can take a tumble in the dryer!).

J.Jill Pure Jill Indigo Knit Easy Dress

It has been hard finding clothes that work with my cast; something that fits over it, is easy to put on, something uncomplicated. Knit dresses have been great with the cast so I decided to try the Pure Jill Indigo Knit Easy Dress. When it was cold I wore the dress with leggings, tall boots, and a scarf for an easy casual look. With the temps rising, the dress is great for running errands with a pair of tennis shoes or Capri leggings and ballet flats. This is a Large Petite.

J.Jill Linen Big Shirt and Perfect Tank

I’ve wanted a white linen shirt; as soon as I heard about this opportunity I checked out J.Jill’s Linen Big Shirt. I ordered a Petite Large, which fit perfectly… except it didn’t fit over the cast. I went to the store and exchanged it for a Regular XL, which gives it a true big shirt look and fits over my right arm. For this weekend look I paired it with the J.Jill Perfect Tank (size Petite Large) and an old favorite pair of jeans. This shirt would look great knotted over a pencil skirt, belted over skinny jeans, or under a cropped top for a trendy silhouette. I must say the Perfect Tank is exactly that; having a petite tank is a game changer; it still has enough length but the neckline doesn’t gape and my bra straps stay well covered. The tank is an opaque, smooth refined knit that could dress up to be a shell under a casual blazer or paired with a full midi skirt and sandals. I liked this tank so much I got a second one in black!

Interested in checking out J.Jill’s Linen collection to uncomplicate your spring wardrobe? I’ve got two ways for you to do it for less!

Promotion
Use promotion code BLOGHER at checkout and get 30% off one full-priced item! This code is valid through May 21, 2014.

Giveaway

One Wardrobe Oxygen reader will win a $100 J.Jill gift card! To enter leave me a comment letting me know what is your favorite spring look!

Sweepstakes Rules:
No duplicate comments.  You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.  The Official Rules are available here.  This sweepstakes runs from 4/3/2014-5/27/2014.

Be sure to visit the J.Jill brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

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