Search Results for: label/DIY

True Fashionista: Erica

Growing up, my mom made a lot of my sister and my clothes. Easter dresses, corduroy overalls for playtime, Halloween costumes, even my prom dress was made by my mom. When my mom was a single career girl in New York, she sewed the majority of her office fashion (and even made a patchwork bedspread from the remnants that I use to this very day). Though my mom tried very hard to teach me how to sew, I mainly use my sewing machine for repairs and simple crafts. However, I am so inspired by those who use their sewing skills to hone their personal style, and make fashion work for their figure and budget. When I consider a blog like that, I immediately think of Erica B.’s D.IY. Style, where the talented Erica Bunker has blogged her sewing skill and personal style for almost eight years. And since I found Erica’s blog many years ago, I have been a fan and found her to be creative, talented, inspiring, chic, and a True Fashionista.

“How many times have you seen clothes in an upscale department store or a posh boutique and cringed at the sight of the price tag?” asks Erica Bunker on her blog. She caught herself saying to herself, “I could make that!” and so she does, recreating popular trends and silhouettes and providing tips on how she customizes the patterns to fit her body and looks on the runways.

“What’s point of sewing if you can’t make it your own?”
                  Erica Bunker


I love how Erica shares where she gets her inspiration, be it yellow for spring, the current Balenciaga print ads, something she saw on Pinterest, or a pair of Tibi trousers that she saw on the runway during Birmingham Fashion Week. She goes into her thought process, how she alters the style, the pattern, why she chooses the colors, the notions, the linings and how she would change it if she used the pattern again.

Erica is proof that you don’t need to have a designer budget to dress in a designer manner. She shows what we hear time and time again – a custom tailored fit will increase the style of a piece and make it look more expensive. She learns from her projects, knows her body, her personal style and how to dress for her here and now. She knows fashion, design, and designers and how to interpret them and learn from them.

Erica’s talent and style is inspiring and awesome, she’s has been a regular in my blog reader for years and I am so honored to have her part of my True Fashionista series. I asked Erica to answer the same five questions I ask of each True Fashionista; her answers:

How would you describe your personal style?
I’d describe my style as colorfully classic, feminine (but not girlie) yet current. I love classic pieces in bright hues and pieces that are cyclical. I know that when I invest the time into tailoring a jacket or a coat, I’m going to wear it for the next 10+ years. But I also love mixing in current trendy pieces.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
My passion for fashion began when I was a little girl. My favorite day was Sunday. That was the day I could get all dressed up for church. Those frilly dresses and patent leather Mary Janes were everything!

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
I live for Pinterest, street style and personal style blogs. I’m not so much into watching what celebrities are wearing. I’m inspired by the way regular ladies pull an outfit together without a stylist and a glam squad.

What is the difference between fashion and style?
Great question! I feel fashion relates more to buying the trends and labels. Style is how you put it all together and wear it. Style sets you apart from everyone else.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
The advice I’d give is to step outside of your comfort zone. Try things you’ve never worn before. Add color to your wardrobe. Just go to a store or boutique and try on and take pictures. Take your time and build your wardrobe, you don’t have to do it over night. Read blogs! Find someone whose style you love and follow them.


The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style. Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion. These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you. Stay tuned, there will be a featured True Fashionista every Friday. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments you never know she may end up being featured!

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Ask Allie: Comfort Shoes and Personal Style

Dear Allie,
Due to foot issues I can’t wear most stylish shoes. In fact, I now only wear [specific brand of shoe] which is a lace-up that looks like old lady shoes. They’re ugly but they give freedom to walk and stand for longer periods of time without pain. I won’t sacrifice my health and comfort for fashion but feel quite frumpy, any advice?

I agree with you – no one should sacrifice health or daily comfort for style. Dress for your soul, not your shoes. Seriously, pretend your feet and shoes don’t exist and dress in a way that gives you joy. This way, people won’t focus on your shoes and if one does, it’s clear they are worn for health reasons and not because you lack personal style.  You’ll be amazed – when you don’t focus on your shoes, others will be less likely to as well.

Creative Ways to Update Leather Shoes from Across the Web:  

And there’s nothing wrong with jazzing up a pair of your shoes. I think of my friend Amethyst, who wears comfort shoes. She has ones that look as though they are owned by elves, have painted designs and embellishments that fit with her bohemian personal style. If these shoes are a daily feature, make them feel and look more like you. Pinterest has so many ideas on how to embellish shoes with painted details, adding studs, glitter, and other decorations you can take those “old lady shoes” and make them more fun, funky, and fabulous.

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True Fashionista: Pearl

We “old school” bloggers stick together. We remember when the fashion blogosphere was much smaller, less commercial, and just about sharing personal style and connecting with like-minded folks across the globe.  While we may lose touch a bit from time to time, there’s always a place in our hearts for one another.   Pearl Westwood is one of those “old school” bloggers who I have followed over the years. While she has always had killer style, it has been so much fun to see her hone it over the time on her blog, Fashion Pearls of Wisdom.

Pearl really knows herself, and how to use clothing to express it. Her look shows that she is an individual, celebrates it, yet has a passion for fashion. Pearl epitomizes what I think of as British fashion – edgy, eclectic, yet relaxed.  The Brits see the fun in fashion, yet take it quite seriously.  It is no surprise that Pearl’s favorite fashion designer is Vivienne Westwood.

Pearl’s blog Fashion Pearls of Wisdom doesn’t just feature her personal style and recent purchases, but breaks down the latest looks and runway shows, analyzing the concept, thought, and designer. Pearl understands and respects the talent and history behind fashion.  She will often feature a designer I had never heard of but instantly love and respect thanks to her analysis.  I love how she will drop a fact about an obscure brand or a designer’s collection from a decade ago as easily as many speak of reality TV or current events.  Sharing of such information isn’t for Pearl to show off her immense fashion knowledge, but because she loves and lives fashion.

While Pearl is quite aware of what is current in fashion, she stays true to her personal aesthetic, and only takes on the trends that adhere to her personal style.  I think what I admire most about Pearl’s style is how consistent it is.  Consistent isn’t a bad thing – one look at Pearl’s blog and you can see that her style is anything but boring.  But she knows herself, what she likes, and what she wishes to say with fashion and is always true to herself.

Enough of me raving about Pearl, here’s her side of the story.  As with every other True Fashionista, I have asked her to answer the same five questions:

How would you describe your personal style?
‘Like Vivienne Westwood vomited all over me’ is how one friend likes to describe me ha ha good job we share a wicked sense of humour! I hold my hands up and have to admit Vivienne Westwood features heavily in my wardrobe, I just love everything about her designs. I don’t think there is any other designer who pushes the boundaries quite liker her and the fact that many of her pieces come with political messages, such as to save the rainforests, they have have meaning as well as style. Mixed in with that are other carefully chosen designer pieces and a stack of vintage. I don’t really care where my clothes come from, it’s not about the label, but about how they look. I would rather have one thing that I am totally obsessed with and wear everyday than a bag full of things I wasn’t all that fussed about. My key items are jackets particularly vintage sequin ones, ankle socks and crazy heels.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
You know I’m not really sure, it has always been something I was interested in. My mum says I get it from my maternal grandmother, who I sadly never met and since my mum is totally glam herself I would say it runs in the family. I think my mum really helped by encouraging me to experiment with fashion as a child, when I was a kid she would braid multi-coloured ribbons into my hair so I could look like 80’s pop star Boy George!

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
I gobble up everything and anything fashion, from runway shows, glossy magazines and hundreds of blogs it is my job to know about all the latest trends and I love to learn so I can’t deny this has influence on me. But what I really find inspiring is vintage shopping, just getting to examine beautiful and unique things sets my imagination off. I also really like to see what other people are wearing, I find it fascinating how two people can wear the same thing in such a different way. I admire people who dress for themselves regardless of current trends such as Dame Vivienne Westwood and the late Anna Piaggi. I try to take all this on board to feed my own imagination but most of all the one thing that inspires me are the clothes themselves. Nothing can beat that feeling of finding a item which you just fall for head over heels, be it for it’s beauty or unusual construction, the pieces that you put on and want to twirl around in, fashion should be fun above all else.

What is the difference between fashion and style?
Ah the ago old question! I think anyone can go out and buy fashion but it takes style to be able to wear it well. That said everone has their own opinions on what defines the two. Personally I love fashion, I love a new trend and I love getting dressed up. Perhaps it is more to do with your attitude, you could wear a bin-bag and be stylish so long as you had the confidence. I am reminded of a story about Vivienne Westwood, when she had gotten caught out in the rain whilst riding her bicycle to a meeting. Ever the DIY advocate Vivienne had fashioned herself a hat out of one of her store carrier bags to save her hair getting a soaking. Pulling up under the window to park her bike, those she was meeting laughed and ridiculed her, even taking a photography and publishing it in a mocking way. So Vivienne went and embroidered that very photo inside her couture clothing, the eccentric lady with a plastic bag on her head grinning at you as you handed over thousands of pounds to her. I think we can safely say it was Vivienne to get the last laugh. Have faith in yourself and take your own opinion, it is you who has to wear the clothes at the end of the day.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
Enjoy it! I actually started my blog because I wanted to record the style journey I was on. Having had an interest in fashion for many years it wasn’t until I finished my undergrad degree at uni and I guess started to grow up that I really found myself conscious of fashion again. I was on a personal journey as I had to decide on my career and also a journey of self discovery as I finally lost the weight I had been wanting to shift for the past couple of years. Suddenly fashion became something I was able to play around with instead of just having to wear whatever I could find to fit. I realise now that most of my problems with fashion had been in my own head, it was more to do with confidence than dress size. So now I would advise everyone to stop worrying about what anyone else thinks, stop worrying about all the ‘style rules’, pick and choose what tips you like and get out there and start having fun. If you want to wear bright pink and orange do it! If you want to go into a designer boutique do it, don’t be intimidated. Have no fear!

Thursday: Keefing Up With Appearances

Jacket: Ann Taylor (similar) | Tee: eBay (DIY cut neck) | Pants: LOFT (similar) | Boots: DUO (similar) | silver cuff and necklace | Bag: Steven by Steve Madden | Lipstick: Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Romantic

Today is a tough day at work – big project today that has been causing me and many of my coworkers some stress. Will all turn out well, but we’ll all be super excited when it’s over. And speaking of which, this evening my friend Nicole and I are going to see Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at the 9:30 Club. I think this is my fifth or sixth time seeing her, and I know it will be a fun time. Just what I need after a hectic day, some girl time with Nicole (and Grace!), a couple cocktails, and some strength from Keef!

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My favorite blogs to visit:


My Favorite Over 40 Fashion Blogs

After my post about MORE Magazine I started thinking about the inspiration I find on the Internet. While I don’t think blogs are a worthy replacement to a quality magazine, I find my regular style inspiration comes from my peers.

Inspiration doesn’t have to come from someone your same age, but as we age our tastes do change and it’s wonderful to see fellow women on the other side of 40 find their personal style and share it with the world. Blogs make it so you can see how a woman thousands of miles away was creative with the same jacket or a similar dress you have in your own closet, and can empower you to be a bit more creative and personal with what you choose to wear every day.

While I follow the blogs of several chic women over 40, I kept this post just to those who live in the United States and have blogs that primarily focus on their personal style and what they wear. I see quite a growth in over 40 blogs in the UK and Australia but the US has yet to catch up. There’s some truly terrific style here in the States and I wanted to showcase it in hopes it may inspires some fellow Americans to embrace their own style, follow and promote these bloggers, and show that our country doesn’t believe style has an expiration date!

Best Fashion Blogs over 40 - The Rich LIfe on a BudgetAdrienne at The Rich Life on a Budget

Best Over 40 Fashion Blogs - Mrs American MadeAna at Mrs. American Made

Best Fashion Blogs over 40 - Style at a Certain AgeBeth at Style at a Certain Age

Best Over 40 Fashion Blogs - My Small WardrobeCarelia at My Small Wardrobe

Best Over 40 Fashion Blogs - Style NudgeCherie at Style Nudge

Best Fashion Blogs Over 40 - Senior Style BibleDorrie at Senior Style Bible

Best Over 40 Fashion Bloggers - Erica Bunker DIY StyleErica at Erica Bunker DIY Style

Best Over 40 Fashion Blogs - Grown and Curvy WomanGeorgette at Grown and Curvy Woman

Best Over 40 Fashion Blogs - More Than TurquoiseJamie at More than Turquoise

Best Over 40 Fashion Blogs - Mama in HeelsJanise at Mama in Heels

Best Over 40 Fashion Blogs - Elegantly Dressed and StylishJess at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish

est Over 40 Fashion Blogs - Style CroneJudith at Style Crone

Best Over 40 Fashion Blogs - J'adore CoutureKim at J’Adore Couture

Best Over 40 Fashion Blogs - The Silver StylistLisa at The Silver Stylist

Best Over 40 Fashion Blogs - Accidental IconLyn at Accidental Icon

Best Over 40 Fashion Blogs - Chic Over 50Shauna at Chic Over 50

Best Blogs over 40 - Fifty Not FrumpySusan at Fifty, Not Frumpy

Best Blogs over 40 - Une FemmeSusan at Une femme d’un certain age

Summer Fashion: How to Wear the Hottest Denim Washes

Denim is always in style, but the wash of your denim can go in and out of fashion. This summer, many washes or finishes of denim that have been considered dated have come back en vogue. With such a large variety of denim washes available at your favorite retailer, it can be confusing how to wear them with the rest of your closet. Different washes look better with different colors and silhouettes, here’s a primer of the most popular denim washes and what they nicely pair with.

Rinse, Resin, or Dark Denim:

This is a deep indigo denim, free of any fading, whiskering, or distressing. It can vary from dark navy to a blue-black shade, and is often a stiffer fabric. This is a classic wash, and quite versatile. A dark rinse denim is a great choice for Casual Friday as it looks far more polished than other washes, and the stiffer denim gives a more refined silhouette. I love dark denim with everything from pastels and neons to crisp brights and neutrals. Dark denim can also be paired with a variety of fabrics, from your favorite well-worn tee to silk and lace.

Raw Denim:

Raw denim hasn’t been treated, washed, or altered in any manner. It is crisp, rigid, but will eventually customize to your body. The color will be similar to rinse denim, so you can pair it with most anything. To keep the color rich, only wash when necessary, turn inside-out, and line dry.

Trouser Denim:

This is a lighter-weight denim, or cotton dyed to look like denim. Sometimes it is in a traditional jeans silhouette, often it is cut with a wider leg to more resemble classic trousers. Denim trousers can come in a variety of colors and finishes (they often are found with a subtle shine or sparkle finish to them), a deep indigo or black hue is the most classic and is more likely to work with your office dress code. Wear with a blazer and knit tank for a casual alternative to a suit, pair with a Breton-striped tee for a sailor-inspired classic ensemble, or with a silky camisole for a night on the town.

Stonewashed or Enzyme Wash Denim:

This is a wash that was very popular in the ‘90s but is now often associated with “mom jeans.” Stonewashed denim is more blue than indigo, and has subtle fading from being washed with pumice stones or enzymes. I don’t recommend stonewashed denim unless you are a True Fashionista, but if you already have it in your wardrobe and love it, pair with very modern or trendy silhouettes to make it look purposeful. Wear stonewashed skinny jeans with a white boyfriend blazer and tan ankle booties, stonewashed boyfriend jeans with a striped off the shoulder slouchy tee and red ballet flats, stonewashed sailor-cut jeans with a black boatneck and platforms.

Faded Denim:

Faded denim is back in fashion, but it’s still a very tricky wash to wear without looking like “mom jeans.” I suggest you wear it only if you have a very modern silhouette to the jean or are a True Fashionista. To keep this wash looking current this summer, pair with pastels and an “arm party” of bracelets.

Acid Washed Denim:

This wash of denim has made a return, along with everything else from the ‘80s. This wash looks best with ‘80s-inspired colors – neons, bright pastels, or solid black for a “mall punk” effect. Though acid-washed denim has returned, that doesn’t mean you can whip out your oversized denim jacket from high school. This wash is best worn either tongue-in-cheek (high-waisted cutoff shorts with a retro tee), or very narrow and modern (skinny jeans with booties or a canvas shoe like Chucks or TOMS).

Dirty or Sulfur Wash Denim:

This is a denim that has a slight brown, yellow, or green cast to it. It can be subtle or quite definite. This is a color of denim that isn’t as versatile – paired with the wrong color and it can look very dated or mismatched. In fact, sulfur denim on a fellow commuter inspired this post! Pair with black to showcase the color, or with neon or a pastel where the tinge will make the top really pop.

Garment-dyed Denim:

When jeans are dyed after being sewn together, you get a saturated color free of the white threads typical in denim. Most colored denim is garment-dyed, but there are also jeans out there in indigo shades that go through this process. Such jeans can either look quite refined and can pass as business casual trousers, or look quite cheap. I only wear garment-dyed denim in non-traditional denim colors because I find navy jeans to look strange on me. However if you do like them, I recommend you keep the rest of your colors classic – navy and white stripes, white, cream, or pair with chambray to give it a more modern edge (yes, the Texas Tuxedo is back en vogue!).

Sandblasted Denim:

These are the jeans that are blue on the sides, but may be almost white on the front and back. They truly look as though they were sandblasted while on your body. Baggy sandblasted denim had its heyday, and right now sandblasted can look very dated unless you are a True Fashionista. If you adore your sandblasted denim, consider a DIY project and made them look vintage (see below) with some shredding and fraying.

Vintage or Aged Denim:

This is a trend from my past that I am thrilled has made a return. Whether they come right off the shelf or are bought in your neighborhood thrift store, vintage-looking or truly vintage denim is worn, weathered, and occasionally has rips or frayed spots and edges. Cuff for a “boyfriend” look and pair with a blazer and band tee shirt for a modern weekend look. Wear with a crisp white shirt and some killer heels for a fabulous happy hour ensemble. Go boho with a simple ribbed tank, colorful beads, and leather sandals. As long as the jeans have a flattering cut (nothing hanging off the rear, too short, dragging on the ground, too tight, has holes in the bum), vintage jeans can be quite versatile.

Some great denim tips and DIYs from around the Internet:

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My Wardrobe Today – Monday

Sweater – Ann Taylor (similar)
Pants Ann Taylor
Shoes – Nine West (similar)
Bracelet – Anthropologie (similar)
LipstickRevlon ColorStay Ultimate Lipstick in Top Tomato

I rarely post the same exact outfit twice, but the last time I wore this outfit the pictures were pretty blurry.  Also, it’s such a simple ensemble, perfect for a morning where I don’t feel terribly creative.

How was everyone’s weekend? Friday night we went for sushi with my sister; I had plans to attend a neighbor’s party that evening but was just too tuckered out from the week. Saturday was pretty relaxed – that evening we had my sister over and made DIY pizzas. Sunday we were supposed to go to my friend’s house for a Superbowl party but both Emerson and my husband woke feeling sick. So while they slept most of the day I got a lot of laundry-based chores accomplished.

I washed all the laundry in the house, sewed buttons onto garments that were lacking them, fixed some split seams and dropped hems, ironed a few pieces that were too wrinkled to wear, hung up all the clothes that were still in baskets.  Made me realize how many red, pink and orange items are in my closet!

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Blogging Love – Interview!

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

You can check out the interview here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outlet Mall Shopping

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

True Fashionista: Katherine

February 2011, I attended my first blogger event. A few fashion and beauty bloggers in the DC area decided to get together for cocktails and brainstorming. From that happy hour, CapFABB was created. Also thanks to that happy hour, I got to know Katherine Martinez, blogger, business owner, designer, and True Fashionista.

Katherine always amazes me when I see her – she will take the item I will laugh at on the racks at the thrift store and see the beauty in it. She will rework it, accessorize it, pair it with unexpected pieces and bring out the garment’s beauty. She is able to take those Jessica McClintock granny dresses I wore in middle school and make them look badass with chunky shoes, studded accessories, and a DIY asymmetrical hem.

Katherine shares her incredible eye for style and vintage with Co-Creative Director Ashley Turchin at their shop La Petite Marmoset. They have a boutique here in DC, an Etsy shop, and have their pieces sold at some of the coolest shops in the DMV.

As soon as I thought of this True Fashionista series for the blog, I thought of Katherine. She knows herself, her style, and wears clothes, no matter how crazy or strange, without them wearing her. Not only is she creative, talented, and stylish, but she is one of the warmest and nicest people I have met in the DC fashion scene.  Her smile lights a room and she’s always a blast to spend time with.  I asked her the same five questions I will be asking of all True Fashionistas in this series, here are her answers:

How would you describe your personal style?
I would describe it as (it is now cliché to call this a cliché) eclectic– I like to mix vintage pieces with modern basics. I tend to gravitate towards things that are what I like to call “beautifully ugly”— that is, at first glance, your reaction might be, “Who ever thought it was a good idea to wear that thing?” Beaded, fringed, leather, sequined, and bright are always on my mental checklist when hunting for vintage.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
My mom says that from the time I was little when we went shopping I knew exactly what I wanted, despite her efforts to put me in turtlenecks and jeans. My abuelita and other women on my dad’s side of the family all are creative and like to sew, so that helped grow my love for DIY fashion.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
All over the place! I follow many blogs and am always checking my favorite online stores to see what vintage pieces can translate to those looks— I also am inspired by old movies and ad campaigns. Musicals from the ‘40s and ‘50s are my favorites because the costumes were so over the top!

What is the difference between fashion and style?
I think fashion is something that is fleeting, changing by the minute (in today’s online world it seems like by the second), and something that, with enough money, anyone can purchase. I think money can’t buy style— style is more personal and depends on the individual. Style is what makes the same designer top look gaudy on one A-list celebrity but effortlessly chic on another.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
Find pieces that work for your body— once you know what works, experiment away with colors, prints, and fabrics! Look for inspiration online, but put your own spin on it. I think the biggest mistake people make is getting discouraged when the latest trend doesn’t look good on them– having a solid foundation in knowing what basic pieces make you look and feel your best can allow you to seamlessly incorporate new elements 🙂

My Wardrobe Today – Monday

Black scoop teeAnn Taylor
Black, pewter, and ivory print silk skirt – Ann Taylor (no longer available online but found on the sale rack this past Friday at my local store)
Black pumps – Nine West “Madeup” (no longer available – similar)
Red belt and bag – Hobo International (neither available, similar bag)
Bracelets – Ann Taylor (no longer available)

Um, this skirt is a size 10.

A SIZE 10!

It was in the 12 Petite section of my local Ann Taylor and I just grabbed it. I tried it on (they were having 40% off sale prices so you know I ran into a fitting room with like 50 things!) and thought it was a tad snug in the waist, but nothing uncomfortable and I liked the semi-full skirt and the fabric. Not until I got home did I realize the size! So the skirt isn’t a fitted style and the waist is elasticized but I still found it terribly exciting!

In other news, as you can tell from the first picture I dyed my hair.  Yeah, it’s dark.  I feel a bit like Elvira.  As I mentioned before, I went on a bit of a Tarjay spree and bought some things I wanted to return, but my husband accidentally tossed the receipt.  One of the things was this hair dye.  After decades of DIY hair color, I decided to leave my color in the capable hands of Kathleen at Bananas salon and have been happy ever since.  No missed spots, no obviously-from-a-bottle color, no stained towels.  I am quite due for a color touch-up, but hated the idea of spending the money and then have my hair fade at Bonnaroo next month.  So I bought a box of semi-permanent dye (Natural Instincts) to tide me over until mid-June.  I then changed my mind, fearing a horrible color or process.

When the receipt was lost, I decided to work with what I purchased, wearing the chambray shirt, and using the hair dye.  And this is the result.  I figure it will fade after a few washings, and well… it does cover my roots and the gray!  It is also a cheap way for me to realize that darker hair may have looked great on me in the past, but I find it very aging on me now.  My skin looks far better with some highlights and brightness in the hair!

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What I’m Loving – Zoya Nail Polish

I am not one to wear polish on my fingernails. I chew and pick (though working very hard to stop this habit), and I just don’t want to draw attention to my hands. However I do like a nicely pedicured food, especially come spring and summer.

Since having Emerson I have neither the time nor money for regular salon visits – I think my last professional pedicure was over a year ago. Having to go DIY, I have started buying things like nail polish, and really checking out quality, brand ethics, and ingredients.

Through this, I have found and fallen in love with Zoya polishes. Zoya polishes are vegan friendly, free of toluene, formaldehyde, Dibutyl Phthalate, and camphor. All this, and over 300 colors to choose from!

If you “Like” Zoya on Facebook, you will be the first to know about many of their promotions. A couple months ago, they had a great promotion where you could pick any three colors and get them for just the price of shipping ($6.95). I got a Isla (classic dark red with some shimmer), Ibiza (a dark sparkly navy), and Kelly, which is not green but a gorgeous shade of creamy cool-toned gray.

Kelly is my new favorite. I want to paint my bedroom in this gray, own clothes in this gray, and I love wearing it on my toes.

Zoya polishes are a bit thinner than your classic polish, but that doesn’t affect it’s quality. I find I need at least two coats for a nice finish, but find Zoya doesn’t chip as fast as some other polishes, and it keeps its shine and look for weeks. In fact, I have been doing the Lazy Woman’s/Busy Mom’s pedicure for the past couple of weeks where all I do is layer some more polish over what I already had to fill in the space from growing nails and chips from trimming the length. The coverage is even, it’s not lumpy, doesn’t chip and looks… well, polished!

I like purchasing products that are made ethically, and with less chemicals. I love it when such products are also of excellent quality. I find my Zoya polishes rival OPI, Essie and all my other old favorites.

Have you tried Zoya? What do you think of it?

My Wardrobe Today – Monday

Chambray shirt Merona
White jeansKut from the Kloth
Brown croco-embossed T-strap sandals – Sofft (no longer available – similar material)
Thread braceletseBay seller
Beaded bracelet – Express circa late ’90s
Silver braceletUntil There’s a Cure
Silver cuff
Glass necklace – purchased on trip to Italy

This is a pretty casual outfit for me to wear to work.  I bought this shirt a couple weeks ago without trying it on in the store.  Got home and didn’t like it.  I put it and the receipt on the dining table so I could go to Target that weekend and return it and my husband didn’t realize, threw the receipt away and the shirt in the laundry.  So I ended up with this shirt!

I actually wore this same outfit last night; there was a weekend music festival in town and last night we went to dinner at the local cafe to listen to some bands.  It’s more of a weekend look for me, but I wasn’t feeling especially creative this AM.

And I know,. white before Memorial Day?  One reason I got these jeans is because they are such thick, heavy denim.  I feel that the weight and texture make them wearable before summer.

I just got these jeans last week and am not sure about them.  As mentioned, they are a nice thick denim with a slight texture to them that just makes them look more premium.  No crazy details, no bling.  These are petite, but a perfect length for me to wear with heels.  They have stretch, but don’t stretch out during the day.  The only thing is there is no contour for the waist.  I think they go straight up from the crotch and when I sit or bend over the pants don’t move with me, causing Plumber’s Crack.  I am wearing them with a belt, which is keeping them in place, but I have to cinch the jeans a bit which is NOT flattering with a shorter or tucked-in top.

This is a reason why I haven’t had any great white jeans in the past couple of years.  They stretch out and make me look as though I am wearing a diaper by lunchtime, or else they are so sheer you can see my nude thong through them.  If they are more rigid of denim, they often times seem to have a weird shape (too tight in legs, too wide in hips).  These are the best of the bunch, and the price was reasonable.  Will have to try Blue Collar Catwalk’s DIY on these so they can have more of a contoured fit!

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What I Wore: It’s Myne

myne heidi dress hobo bags clutch zippers myne heidi dress review

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

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

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

Little Bits of Luxury: The Series

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

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

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

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What I Wore: Real Red

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

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

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

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What I Wore: Issa for Banana Republic

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

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

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My Wardrobe Today – Monday

Skirt – Ann Taylor (bought on eBay 5 years ago for $14.99, no clue how old, label style unfamiliar to me)
BootiesCole Haan
Scarf – c/o Nordstrom Rack
Silver cuff

I forgot to set my alarm last night. My body woke me up at 7:15 (glad it wasn’t 8:15) and I had 45 minutes to get myself together and out the door. I had pulled this skirt out of my stash of potential winter things and a month ago it was just too tight, too short, and I thought I would re-eBay it. I pulled it on this morning since it was sitting on the cedar chest at the foot of the bed… and it fit! Only thing wrong is I guess the hem dry rotted and has fallen out while wearing (easy to fix). Very excited to have another leather skirt in my arsenal!

New bag – I had $40 in Nordstrom rewards, saw this bag for $129 and decided to try it.  I have wanted a bigger bag to carry my netbook and such, and wanted a soft black purse (currently have my Banana Republic one which is that textured hard leather like a football). Love the bag, so soft, holds so much, necessary front pocket (with magnet closure) and hey… gotta love such a quality bag for only $89!

Sorry for the delay in posting, work has gotten really hectic. Glad I stocked the office fridge with Lean Cuisines because that’s the only way I get to eat anything. The only time I have left my desk is to hit the printer or the bathroom (and refill my water bottle!). Whew, what a crazy couple of weeks!

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Contest: Tolani Scarf from

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get to know
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Good luck!