Search Results for: label/DUO Boots

What I Wore: Back in the Saddle

duo boots santana wide calf review vintage coach bucket bag brown duo wide calf boot review wide calf boots curvy blogger reviewDress: Old Navy | Bag: Coach via eBay (similar) | Bracelet: Rebecca Minkoff | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban | Boots: Santana c/o DUO Boots | Cast Cover: c/o CastCoverz

Well hey there everyone! Thanks for your positive vibes regarding the cast, while I’m still in a cast at least now it’s a short one and I regained use of my elbow! It’s okay, I’d rather be safe with the arm than sorry (again!). Thanks to CastCoverz who sent me a few covers to work now and when I’m in a brace (check out the other fun ones on Instagram); the goal was to have this one for the 4th of July but since I was still in a long cast at that point it’s now a great choice to better blend with denim and navy outfits! And this dress, well I wrote about the black print one here but liked it so much (and it went so low on sale) I got a second one!

And the boots… oh the boots! Anyone who has read this blog for a few months knows I’m a mega DUO Boots fangirl. I bought my first pair of wide calf boots from them back in 2007 and have always been impressed with their fit, quality, and stellar customer service. So when they approached me to do a collaboration I was psyched! I chose the Santana boot, which is an updated version of my old DUO Bern boots (now discontinued, and my pair is now my trusty music festival boots). The Santana is more sophisticated with a distressed finish and stacked wood heel. While I’m wearing them now with a dress, they’ll look great this fall and winter over skinny jeans or cords, and would also look great with tights and a dress or skirt. If you’re unsure of size, do contact them. I had a great phone call with DUO where we discussed the size of not just my calves but shins to ensure a great fit. While I love DUO for wide calf boots, their boot shafts are sized by centimeter, so it’s a great place to find quality boots for those with narrow calves or average legs!

Review – DUO Boots

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

The Duo Catalonia Boot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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DUO Boots – Fourth Time’s a Charm?

I walked on my toes as a child (and still as an adult when I am tired), and it built up muscles in unusual places. In high school while all my friends were sporting their Doc Marten boots, I had to settle for the shoe for it was the only style that fit. Right after college I found a pair of wide calf boots at a now-defunct store similar to DSW. They were a classic knee-high black leather boot that could actually zip, but by the end of the day I had big red welts down the zipper line and would often end up with bruises on my ankle bones from how tight they were. I didn’t care, it was the first time I could wear boots and I dealt with the pain… until the zipper busted on one boot and the price to repair was more expensive than a new pair.

I tried buying other wide calf boots, but they never fit over my ankles and shins. I took a pair I adored to a cobbler to see if they could stretch them, but they said they couldn’t do it to the extent that my legs needed it. Considering the girth was needed below the calf, it was impossible to put in an elastic gusset and not ruin the actual style of the boot.

Me & my DUO boots at Bonnaroo 2011

As you know, I have a pair of DUO boots and I positively adore them. For the first time in my life, I had a pair of boots that fit over not only my wide calves, but my wide shins and ankles. I wanted a pair of Frye Harness boots, and the Bern boot from DUO was a similar style that comfortably slide over not just my calves, but my entire lower leg. I have worn these boots to DEATH – they have been reheeled twice, the insoles replaced yearly. Each spring I use a leather waterproofing spray on them. I have worn them to work, and also to every music festival and outdoor concert I have attended. And now, they are about ready to kick the bucket (or be reserved ONLY for events like Bonnaroo).

Do note, DUO is based out of the UK, so delivery isn’t all that simple to the US. The boots come through customs, cost about $40 to ship, and require a signature upon delivery. If you’re not there when they are delivered, you and only you can go to the post office (with your driver’s license) to pick up the package. On top of that, if what you purchase isn’t right, you will have to fork over at least $40 to ship the boots back.

I was so pleased with my DUO Bern boots, I decided to order another pair (the Toledo). They took almost three weeks to arrived, came to my house when no one was home, so it took another week before I could get to the post office and claim them. And then they didn’t fit. While they would have most likely fit comfortably around my wide calves, they wouldn’t zip over my ankle bone. I contacted DUO, they offered to do an exchange that if I paid to return them, they would ship the replacement pair for free. I asked them for suggestions and they told me to order the Imperia (no longer available online), which ran wider in the calf (they asked me to send more measurements but I never did).

The boots were backordered, and when they arrived (this time to my office so I knew someone would be there to sign for them), I was on bedrest. I didn’t get the boots until two months later when I was back from maternity leave… and they didn’t fit. By this time, it was too late to return them to DUO. I kept them for a year, thinking with the loss of baby weight my legs would shrink enough for them to fit, but they never did and I ended up selling them on eBay at a loss.

Since then, I have tried other companies for wide calf boots but none seem to fit me in the lower calf/shin/ankle area. If I do find a pair that will zip up, I fear they will bruise me like that pair I had over a decade ago. Many wide calf boots aren’t of the best quality – sub-par suedes, tough leathers, and weird details that just make the boots look cheap. Like my DUO Bern boots, I want a pair of well-crafted classic boots that will look fantastic now, and years from now.

So I have decided to go back to DUO, and this time with proper measurements of all parts of my leg. I know from my Bern boots (and seeing the Toledo, Ravenna and Imperia in person) that the quality can’t be beat – soft gorgeous leather stitched to leather soles; details that are elegant and classic and not at all cheesy. Features you don’t notice are lacking on other wide calf boots until you try DUO – things like metal zippers in place of plastic, hidden elastic gussets behind more leather, soft boot shaft interiors and edges that don’t dig into the skin.

For my next pair of boots, I want a classic riding style. Essentially, I want my DUO Bern boot but knee-high, and possibly with a slightly higher heel. Very simple, very classic, wearable with skinny jeans or a skirt. And this time, I want them in black. I contacted DUO by email with my history of boots with them, and what I desired in a new boot. In less than 24 hours, I received this email in response:

Dear Alison,
Thank you for your email and your interest in our products. I am glad that you are happy with your Bern Boots. It is true that they are a great pair of Boots which have definitely become a classic at DUO.
Now, if you are looking for another pair to fit you as well as these but a bit longer, I would suggest you to have a look at the Catalonia on our website. http://www.duoboots.com/products/boots/detail/calf_fitted_boots/catalonia/1095/colour/38-tan_rustic_leather/

These have also been very popular. However, if you would like to give me your ankle, leg and calf measurements as well as your shoe size, I could advise you with more precision.
I remain at your service.
Best regards,
Virginie Ortuno
Customer Service Advisor
International 0044 1373 468180
0845 070 5588

A model in the DUO Catalonia boot

How fantastic of service is that? The Catalonia from the images, description and reviews sounds like utter perfection for me and my big ankles. However, to be safe I am going to measure my ankle, shins, and calves and send it in to DUO for a more precise recommendation. Now is a great time to shop from DUO because they are having free international shipping (though NOT free returns). Any time someone asks me about DUO, I tell them to take advantage of their great customer service – send them measurements, heck send them photos of your legs. Use the tools available to get the most perfect fit, and most perfect boot for you. While I have contacted DUO in the past, I never sent them measurements. Because of this, I have been burned.

Have you ordered from DUO lately? How was your experience?  By the way I will be sure to have a post once I receive my new boots!

Note: DUO does not know I am writing this post. I am not receiving any compensation for this post or future reviews of this company and their products.

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Duo Boots – Dealing with an Exchange, Return, or Repair

I have a bit of a love affair with DUO, a boot company located in the UK. It started several years ago with my first pair of boots from them – the “Bern”, a pair of classic boots that are similar to the famous Frye “Harness” boot. I had always wanted a pair of Fryes, but my wide calves (and wide shins) made it impossible. With a bit of Internet searching, I came across DUO and took a chance (you can read about my first experience with them here). So glad I did!

Wearing my DUO “Bern” boots earlier this year

A couple years later I decided to use an annual bonus to buy another pair of DUO boots. Unfortunately, they didn’t fit properly due to improper measurement on my part and my mistake of not utilizing their fabulous customer service for advice. I went to exchange the boots and it ended up costing me $40 in shipping. The replacement boots came to my office while I was on maternity leave; by time I was able to try on the boots my body had changed drastically and the boots didn’t fit. I chose to sell the boots on eBay rather than deal with another costly return across the pond.

I must admit that experience in 2008/2009 left a bad taste in my mouth. It wasn’t the fault of DUO, but it just seemed too expensive to purchase boots from an overseas company. However this past winter I desperately wanted a pair of black riding boots. Learning from my last DUO order, I decided to email them and ask their opinion. I not only measured my calf, but also my shin and my ankle and even took pictures of my legs. I informed DUO of what I desired, how the “Bern” boots fit, and the issues I had with other boots. They suggested the Catalonia (read about my experience here and here).

Wearing my DUO Catalonia boots

Since then, I have been a happy camper with my DUO “Catalonia” boots. Quality leather, classic style, great fit. I did get them altered at my cobbler to taper at the top, but that was due to my leg height, not the boot itself. However after a month or so of wear the left zipper broke. I was devastated – I just dropped a couple hundred on these boots and then additional fees for alterations. Would they repair the boots since I had them altered? I emailed DUO and they asked me to mail the boots to assess the situation.

I no longer had the boot box, so I just stuck them in a square box. I was going to send Priority Mail, but the woman at the post office said it would be cheaper if I used a regular box (I just covered the box with craft paper). The cost was a bit over $25, the weight low enough that I only needed to fill out the short customs form.

DUO contacted me once they received the boots. They apologized for the zipper breaking and asked that since I had them altered, did I want a new pair or have the current pair fixed? They had already sent the boots to their repair person, but were waiting for my reply. Oh, and they asked how much I had to pay for shipping. I told them the exact amount, didn’t have to show a receipt or do anything and in a couple of days that amount was back on my credit card. Less than two weeks later, my boots arrived looking like new, in a brand new boot box.

So for those who are hesitating on buying from DUO because they are in the UK or you fear the shipping fees for repairs or exchanges, not to worry. If the exchange or return is due to DUO, they will cover the cost. As always, DUO is quick with the emails and will work with you to find the best boot for your wide calves (or narrow calves!). If you take advantage of their customer service you will be less likely to need a return or exchange. And if by chance there is an issue… I can attest to the fact that DUO will do everything they can to remedy the situation!

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Worth The Money – My Love Affair with Duo Boots

As I mentioned in a previous post, I would soon be providing you with a review of my newest boots from Duo – a company that specializes in all sizes of calf boots. I had purchased from them in the past and was highly impressed with the customer service and the quality of the product (as I type this I am wearing my Bern boots from them!).

Last season I decided with a work bonus to splurge on another pair of boots made for my wide calves. I wanted a sleek and classic tall black leather pair that would look great with dresses and skirts. As with my order of the Berns, I entered my foot size (39) and my calf size (45 – yeah, I am so past the point of department store’s ideas of what an extended calf boot should be) and the style that seemed to fit my personal style.

Less than two week later, a gorgeous pink-wrapped box was waiting for me at the post office (do note that orders to the US require signature – if you are not home it will go to your local post office. And from the post office you must be there with ID to sign – not your mom, your roommate, your husband. I have learned now to send the boots to my job where a receptionist is always available to sign). I opened it to find glossy, elegant, fabulous boots… that wouldn’t zip up past my ankle bone. What the heck? I held the boots closed and could see that they would fit around my calf bone, but just not from ankle bone to that point. I contacted Duo by email and received a response in less than 48 hours.

The super helpful customer service agent was sorry the boots did not work, and suggested some styles that may be more flattering and fit better on my petite yet chunky legs. I had asked about two styles in my original email, she openly admitted one style would not fit my frame, the second would probably be good, but a third and different style (the Ravenna) is one of the most popular styles for women built like me.

At the time, I decided to return the ill-fitting boots and wait until fall to get a pair. By then, they hay have other styles I like better, trends, may change, my calves may shrink overnight…

A few weeks ago, I received the email that Duo was having free international shipping and I saw that as a sign and ordered the Ravenna boots.

They arrived to my office… they were gorgeous, a classic look, well made. They zipped up past my ankle bone, but not much farther. Holding the leather closed, I could see that they would be plenty roomy in the calf muscle, but the rest of the leg was at least a full inch too thick. Frustrated, I send another email to Duo. Not even two hours later I receive a response:

Thank you for your email. I have had a look at your blog and seen how pleased you were with your Bern boots, so I’m very sorry that you have had these sizing problems since.

We have had feedback in previous seasons about needing more styles with more room in the lower calf area and mid-August we changed to our new 2008-2009 range. I have been trying on boots this afternoon to gauge the fit and there are 3 styles that I would recommend.

The Macerata boots are a straight cut riding style in gorgeous quality leather which do not taper in too much at the ankle and might be a good fit for you in your calf size as they are generous all the way up the leg.

The Potenza boots in black are more of a western style but they are coming up larger in the lower leg according to the feedback that we have had over the past month or so.

Finally, the most generous boots that we have in the lower leg are the Imperia boots as there is lots of room above the ankle in these; even with the 1940s detailing they are still classic with a small heel and very wearable.

If you still have concerns about the sizing, if you can provide me with the measurement of the lower calf area that is causing the problem as well as your upper calf measurement I would be happy to go and measure any other styles that you might be interested in.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Um, how often do you encounter such personalized, caring and detailed customer service from a company? The letter was longer, and mentioned that she visited my blog, saw the Bern boots on me and agreed they were a good fit, looked up the size of the Berns that I kept to ensure I re-ordered the right calf size, and even offered free shipping on the next pair that I ordered.

This is why I return to Duo. I am so impressed with their dedication to their clients, the quality of their product, the variety of styles, and that they seem to really care about me, and not just my money.

I haven’t chosen a replacement pair, but do know when I do… you will all get a full review of them!

What I Wore: Perfect Pomegranate

Wardrobe Oxygen What I Wore: Lysse Damaris Top and Dagne Dover Tiny Tote Wardrobe Oxygen What I Wore: Lysse Damaris Top and Dagne Dover Tiny Tote Wardrobe Oxygen What I Wore: Lysse Damaris Top and Dagne Dover Tiny Tote Wardrobe Oxygen What I Wore: Lysse Damaris Top and Dagne Dover Tiny Tote
Top: Damaris Top c/o Lyssé | Jeans: Old Navy | Boots: Santana c/o DUO | Bag: Tiny Tote c/o Dagne Dover | Lipstick: Mary Kay True Dimensions in Mystic Plum | Coffee: Vigilante 😉

The older Emerson gets, the busier my weekends. Girl Scouts Daisies, dance classes, birthdays, homework (yes kindergarteners have homework!), play dates are all scheduled with errands and chores tucked in the free moments. I keep my weekend looks like a uniform so I can save my brain power for the tasks at hand. A pair of stretchy jeans, footwear that will be comfortable all day, and a top with stretch that will look great even after seatbelts, sitting, and being squashed into parkas. Lyssé sent me this top recently and the gorgeous berry color (they call it Pomegranate) keeps my look from being ordinary. This is one of my favorite colors, almost the same shade as our kitchen! Since my Saturdays are usually a two bag day (one big tote for Daisies stuff, ballet outfit, etc. and then my purse) I’ve recently switched to this adorable gold bag from Dagne Dover. It’s small and cute but well designed like its bigger sister to hold everything and have all the contents easily accessible. Got my coffee and I’m ready to take on the world of a five- almost six-year-old!

What I Wore: Mom Style

wardrobe oxygen what I wore weekend style gap ann taylor wardrobe oxygen what i wore duo boots

wardrobe oxygen what i wore ann taylor cashmere poncho

Poncho: Ann Taylor | Tee: J. Crew Factory (similar) | Jeans: Gap | Boots: c/o DUO Boots | Bag: c/o Fossil (similar) | Bracelet: CC Skye (similar)

It’s starting to feel like fall, so I HAD to whip out this poncho from Ann Taylor and my tall boots! While I’ll miss summer, I do enjoy fall fashion and it’s been great to sleep with the windows open and add an extra quilt to the bed!

This poncho was a splurge, but as I said in this post, it’s a classic that will look great for many years. I knew I’d wear it in a casual manner like this for errands and weekend “Mom Style,” but also think it would look elegant in the office over blouses and trousers. I was excited to see these boots match this bag from Fossil; I haven’t featured it on the blog since this post but am really feeling brown leather this season.  The bag is big enough to carry everything I need for a weekend on the go!

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What I Wore: Weekend State of Mind

Wardrobe Oxygen What I Wore Weekend Mom Style featuring Ramones Tee and NYDJ Wardrobe Oxygen What I Wore Weekend Look featuring NYDJ Wardrobe Oxygen What I Wore NYDJ Ponte Jacket and Hayden Jeans
Jacket: c/o NYDJ | Tee: had forever (similar) | Jeans: NYDJ | Boots: DUO (similar) | Bag: Rebecca Minkoff (similar) | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban | Cuff: had forever (similar)

When the weekend comes, I don’t have time to plan out outfits.  I have created a weekend uniform: jeans, a knit top, and a topper. It’s easy to choose sweater coats and cardigans in the fall, but a stretchy jacket like this ponte number from NYDJ is just as comfortable but more refined. This is the type of piece that can work for the office with trousers as well as dress down with a tee shirt for the weekend. With a lot of stretch that can help me chase after a kindergartener on the playground, and a big cup of caffeine to give me energy to go all day, I’m ready for any given Saturday or Sunday!

Boot Scootin’

Shirt: Gap | Skirt: c/o Soft Surroundings | Boots: DUO | Bracelets: c/o lifetherapy, c/o Soft Surroundings, made by fellow Inforooster | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

Another day that started with rain. Too hot for tall boots and skinny jeans, so I decided to whip out my festie boots. I bought these from DUO Boots in 2007 and I still adore them, though now they have become more of bum around boots. They have gone to a few Bonnaroos, parties in the parking lot at several concerts at Merriweather, went with me to Forecastle fest and are often the boots I slip on when going out in the yard to hang laundry or play with Emerson. Not really typical work footwear, but it’s Friday and they’re pretty well hidden under this skirt and will keep my feet dry as I stomp through puddles!

Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the crazy holiday season and crazy beginning of 2013 but I am craving a vacation right about now and yesterday I got a fabulous care package from Lifetherapy with some products from their “Vacation” line.  This morning’s shower was with the Vacation body wash and then I used the Vacation lotion and added the matching Pulse Point Oil Roll-on Perfume to my wrists and behind my ears. It’s a warm but feminine blend that smells a bit like vanilla, a bit like sandalwood, a bit like coconut, and makes me want to sip a fruity drink while under the shade of a palm tree on a beach.  It’s one of those fragrances that works when you get hot and sweaty – some fragrances smell too strong or too wrong in the heat of summer, but this one just seems to get more… mature and right.  I liked it when I put it on but it felt a bit too girly for me (I usually wear Burberry London perfume and Neutrogena Body Oil for moisturizer), but by time I got to the office I was quite the fan, and I love the travel-friendly perfume oil bottle!

Can I just say I wish Ray-Ban made more of the fun versions of their aviators in the 62mm size for us big-headed folks?  I want the fun green lenses, but they’re only in the normal-headed size.  However, I did find the all-black ones on eBay for a sweet price and just got my email yesterday that they have shipped out.  Can’t wait for them to arrive!  This is my biggest tip for designer sunglasses – if you know the model number, the size and details check eBay to see if you can find them for less.  There may be some sketchy folks on there, but there’s also a lot of companies that sell overstock or old styles on there for really good prices and some people who are just selling things they no longer want that are in almost-new condition.

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Lazy Tux

Blazer: The Limited (similar) | Tee: Old Navy | Ascot: Belonged to my Dad | Silk Bracelet: c/o lifetherapy | Boots: DUO (similar) | Jeans: NYDJ | Lipstick: Revlon Matte in “Really Red”

I prefer rain to blustery cold days, especially in April. April showers bring May flowers, right? It rained all night and was still gloomy and wet when I left for work so I wore boots to be on the safe side.

Still playing with this hair, today is Day 2, I curled large sections with a standard curling iron, angling away from the face. Finger combed, then added Jonathan Silky Dirt for a piecey/Mandana from Rachel Zoe Project sort of look. The bangs are still wrong, I need to make an appointment with my stylist to fix this cut, but I just have not had the time. Even this weekend is booked solid but I need to figure it out before I go on a 2am hacking spree with my cuticle scissors!

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend, thank you so much for all your support, emails, comments, and tweets this past week. I blog because I love it, and because I love all of you. I love connecting with you, knowing my writing benefits you, and making new friends through technology. I seriously adore all of you and am so incredibly grateful to have you in my life!

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The Best of 2014, Swag Edition

I have often written about the difficult parts of blogging, but there’s some pretty sweet parts too. The friends that have been made with fellow bloggers, readers, and even some brands. The ability to get paid for a hobby or passion. And yeah… swag. We bloggers can get a lot of free stuff. Granted, that free stuff isn’t without strings – we get with the expectation that we will share with you folks (with stipulations on number of photos, links, social media touts, first born…). Because of this, I have become pickier with what swag I’ll actually accept. In the past I’ve been stuck trying to be tactful in a mention of a subpar something and I don’t want to have to do that again.

PicMonkey Collage

But not all swag is wack, and through blogging I have learned of some awesome companies and many pieces I have received for free have become some of my favorite pieces in my wardrobe. Since it can be hard to tell in posts which C/Os are truly adored, I’m going to share the best items I have received this year and why.

DUO ‘Santana’ Boots

I did a little squeal of joy when DUO finally contacted me. I’ve been writing about this high quality footwear brand for almost a decade and have purchased two pairs of their custom width calf boots with my own money. So this fall when they asked me to pick a pair of boots to feature on the blog, it wasn’t hard to say yes. I chose the ‘Santana’ boot in brown leather and they have become a weekly wear. In fact, I am wearing them right now as I type this post! The quality of leather is fantastic, and it’s nice to get stylish yet classic boots that fit my very large (44cm) calves and thick shins. These are especially flattering because they’re a bit shorter than knee-high, hitting at a better place on my petite frame. The color and subtle distressing rival Frye boots and I find them to be comfortable enough to walk and stand in them all day. A bit of a backstory – since I tore my left calf muscle last year my calf is even BIGGER than before so when I ordered my normal size in DUO they were too tight. DUO was amazing about the exchange, I spoke to them on the phone, we discussed how it fit to determine the correct replacement size, and they were so super nice and helpful. It’s so great to work with a company that you can feel cares about their customers.

Adora Bags Leather Tote

Guess this one is a bit unfair because it hasn’t yet been featured on the blog (yet!), but it’s darn awesome. I’ve loved the looks of the unfinished edge simple leather totes that have been in style, but couldn’t justify buying once since I already own totes that work as well (even if they don’t look as nice). So when Adora Bags contacted me and offered to send me a tote I was psyched. They come in black, a gorgeous blue, and a rusty orangey natural color; I chose black thinking it would be the most practical and timeless. The leather is insanely delicious – tumbled but soft. The straps sturdy and fit over my shoulder while wearing my parka yet short enough to carry in my hand. The shape isn’t too structured, but not a lumpy sack. It comes with a removable pouch on a strap so it can be an easy-access pocket for essentials, or pulled out to be a clutch. Mine also came with a little empty book/agenda in the same leather which was a lovely touch. This is a true tote, it wouldn’t really make for a great handbag, but it’s a good size for an overnight trip, a carryon bag, or for running errands. It’s handmade in Italy, smells divine, feels luxurious, and makes me carting 250 flyers for the Girl Scouts or returns to Ann Taylor feel a bit more posh. And speaking of customer service, they followed up with me to ensure the bag came in perfect condition and have been so lovely to work with. A super nice company.

Karen Kane Jersey Pants

Before my arm broke, Karen Kane contacted me and asked if I’d like some pieces from their Spring collection. I got a pair of wide-leg drapey pants from them they year prior and wore the heck out of them so when I saw their blue paisley jersey pants I knew I had to have them. I envisioned them with a drapey jersey top in white, lots of silver jewelry, flat sandals and a hint of a tan come Summer, but I ended up wearing them quite a lot while convalescing. They were one of the few bottoms I owned that weren’t pilled and faded yoga pants that I could get on and off with my left hand, were comfortable enough to rest in them, but felt sassy enough in them if a friend came to see how I was doing. Even better, since I lived in them they went in the washer and dryer dozens of times yet are still as rich in color, no pills, no shrinkage, and looked cute enough that when I was healed I did pair them with a drapey top and silver jewelry! Obviously the pants they sent me are no longer available, but these look to be the same pants in a different print. And we all know I love Karen Kane, in fact it was hard to pick one item from them to feature. I love the black drapey jersey dress they sent me and the lace overlay dress from them was not only a fave of mine, but I loaned it to a friend to wear to a wedding! Karen Kane continues to have my heart and a place in my closet.

SOREL Joan of Artic Wedge Boot

In my sponsored post I stated I was a fan of SOREL boots and I have been, but I’ll be honest – they never fit over my calves. So when they asked me to do a sponsored post with their boots I was excited… and terrified. Last year I did a footwear post with a brand and the boots they sent did NOT fit my legs and I had to cobble together a wonky outfit to make it work. But after last winter and my broken arm, I couldn’t pass on a pair of quality boots that are made to handle inclement weather. So I chose this style of boot, figuring it laced up and was softer leather higher up so it could possibly flex over my ankles and shins. I also ordered a half size bigger than usual to give a bit more space. And well, I’m glad I took the risk. In the post I wore the boots folded down because they did look a bit goofy laced up on my legs, but I have been wearing them both ways. I wear them folded down, cuff my jeans, and have rag socks slouched between the two for warmth and a bit of a ‘90s vibe. But I also wear them laced up which may look weird but feels comfortable and wear my pants over them to hide the tops. However when it snowed the other week, I laced them up over a pair of jeggings and had my wool socks peek out over the tops of them and while no one would give me an award for figure flattery, it looked casual cute. The boots are super grippy, super comfortable, waterproof, and warmer than my other boots. They stay at the front door because I wear them so often now that the temps have dropped and I know once it gets icy they may not leave my feet.

Dobbin Clothing Sophie Silk Crepe de Chine Blouse in Leopard Print

We all know I love me some Dobbin Clothing, but I’ve mainly stuck to their dresses. This year I tried their tops and I am a mega fan. While the green silk tunic they sent is lovely, this leopard blouse has become a closet favorite and I wear it almost weekly. I tuck it in and wear it with black or ivory trousers, I wear it untucked with skinny jeans or black ponte skinny pants and boots. It’s a top that works when I’ve gained a bit, but also looks lovely when I’ve lost a bit. It says dry clean only, but I have put it in a lingerie bag on the gentle cycle and it has come out quite nicely. I like the gold buttons, the mate crepe finish, and how the leopard is elegant, not cheesy. As with all the other Dobbin Clothing I own, the quality is stellar and it’s a piece that’s stylish now and likely will be stylish for many years to come. And from a blogger standpoint, they are one of my favorite companies to work with!

Talbots Leopard Coat

Talbots sent me their fall look book and it impressed me so much I shared it on the blog with all of you. You all reacted so positively (and I’ll be honest, clicked those affiliate links in the post and bought a lot of Talbots merchandise) that I let Talbots know how successful a post it was. And they asked me what size I wore and sent me this coat in thanks. I wore it in this post, but if you follow me on Instagram you know I wear it quite often. It looks great with jeans, is chic with workwear, and has become one of the coats I wear with dresses for evenings out. I got a 12 Petite and it fits as though it was tailored to my frame; the fuzzy texture gives an almost vintage feel but is a classic piece.

Dagne Dover

I don’t usually reach out to brands, call me a “Rules Girl” but I like to be approached by brands instead of cold pitching (I mentioned this before). But when you guys ask me about a brand unknown to me, I do my homework. And I did my homework with Dagne Dover, reading reviews online and being bold enough to email them. They were awesome, replied in less than a day with a super sweet email and the offer to choose the bag of my choice. We’ve stayed in communication and I look forward to sharing more from the brand in the future. They’re a small brand, but one with heart and one that makes well-made and cleverly designed bags. I’ve had really demoralizing experiences reaching out to brands, but my experience with Dagne Dover has given me confidence to keep doing it with companies that seem like a good fit for this blog.

CastCoverz!

I spent about 25 weeks this year in a cast. If you’ve ever worn a cast, you know how utterly disgusting they can be. While my second doctor replaced them bi-weekly for me, they still got sweaty and dirty and stinky and grubby. My sister told me about CastCoverz! and I bought two long-arm covers to make my broken arm a bit more stylish – I got leopard print (naturally), and a sparkly disco gold one. I featured them in a post , CastCoverz! saw it and offered to send me covers for when I graduated to a short arm cast. That short arm cast came in the middle of the summer when there was no way to keep my cast looking halfway decent after a day or two. The cast covers didn’t make the cast any hotter, but they covered the grubbiness with fun patterns and color while keeping my cast from scratching me and wearing against my knit tops. When Karl broke his foot at the end of the summer, CastCoverz! was sweet enough to send him two boot covers. While their cast covers (and other supplies for those in casts or wearing crutches) are awesome and high quality, what won me over was CastCoverz! customer service and kindness. Everyone I interacted with, from the person on the phone to Annette the owner were so genuinely kind and cared for me be it when I was any old customer, or when I was a blogger promoting their products. Amazing company run by amazing people.

Boden Ravello Silk Top

I had a partnership where I was provided a specific amount of money to spend at Boden and I was PSYCHED. However it was when I had my cast and when I had gained a lot of weight and I worried I wouldn’t be able to find anything to fit properly. But it’s Boden, and Boden is awesome. I had to call them to place my order and chatted with the sweetest person on the phone. We discussed everything from my arm to my bust size to my weight gain and she helped me pick this top (and a basic striped tank because I love stripes and I couldn’t afford at the time to spend more than the store credit). And well, I freaking LOVE THIS TOP. I wear it ALL THE TIME. And every time I wear it someone raves about it. The colors are amazing, the fit is great, and it’s one of those tops that looks cute tucked in or left out, that shows I go in under the chest, and doesn’t make my arms look like hamhocks. The post where I featured it doesn’t do it justice; I had JUST gotten off my cast a day or two prior and was feeling pretty darn awful and was just glad to fulfil an obligation. But if you follow me on Instagram you know how often I’ve worn this top and I likely will wear it to death again this coming spring.

Reebok Skyscape Sneakers

This is another post that took place right after my cast came off and I was in a very dark place emotionally and uncomfortable place physically. But I signed contracts and had to comply. So Karl rolled out his white backdrop, took pauses between my cryfests and makeup reapplications, and we got it done. Another behind the scenes being a blogger – one ad network contacted me the year prior about partnering with “an athletic footwear company” and had me fill out a form to be considered. Then a couple months later, a different ad network contacted me and asked if I’d like to be considered for a campaign with Reebok. Well I said yes to both, and come to find out both were for Reebok Skyscape and set to take place the same week. So the second company who contacted me to confirm my participation, I declined explaining the situation. They’re a great company and understood, and told me to let them know when the shoes arrived so they could mail me a return shipping label. They arrived, I contacted them, two weeks later they finally got back and said don’t worry about it, I could keep them. Well what the heck am I going to do with two pairs of black Reebok Skyscapes with pink soles? At the time, I didn’t know if I’d even wear the pair I wore in the post. And now it’s December and you couldn’t pry BOTH pairs of Skyscapes from my dead cold hands. These things weight nothing and fold easily making them the best commuter shoes. They are uber cushy and cozy, flexible, but have grip on slick sidewalks. One pair I keep at home, one pair is at the office, and these are the sneakers I take with me when I travel because of size and weight and comfort level. I’ll admit I don’t love the pink details; both pairs came with pink and black laces so I switched them to black. Not only that, one pair I took a Sharpie to the pink grommets and exposed sole. I did this so I could wear them with my outfit for Halloween, but it does make them less athletic-shoe looking and have become the ones I slip in my bag (like I did last night) to put on after a long day in heels. They are utterly awesome shoes and while I didn’t get the hype when I wrote my post, I totally get it now.

 

Please don’t think that because I didn’t mention an item or brand here I think it’s bunk. Far from it. I think I’ve gotten better and better over the years in picking the appropriate brands to partner with so I can provide completely honest and positive reviews. I feel truly honored to partner with such amazing companies, and proud that I can introduce them to you. The older I get, the more I experience ageism and sizeism as a blogger when connecting with brands. When I feature a brand, it’s usually after establishing a relationship with them and making sure they understand you all, Wardrobe Oxygen’s audience. While swag is pretty cool, what’s cooler is the relationship I have built with all of you. I want to maintain your trust, I want to continue our honesty, and I want to be able to continue to introduce you to the companies who respect the Wardrobe Oxygen reader and deserve your attention.

My Must-Have Shoes for Fall and Winter

In the warmer months I get creative with my shoes. Yellow wedge sandals? Why not? Silver Birkenstocks? An unexpected staple! But come fall and winter, my shoe collection gets far simpler and more utilitarian. This is my current cold weather shoe wardrobe for 2014/2015:

 

must have shoes fall winter

1. Sneakers. Now that I’m walking almost every morning, my sneakers have become some of my favorite shoes. These aren’t the exact ones I have but a similar style and price to my discontinued and nicely discounted New Balances via 6pm. New Balance fits my chubby feet and short toes.

2. Brown Riding Boots. Pictured are the DUO Santanas, the very boots I have (seen here and here). As a petite woman, I love how these boots are a bit shorter, elongating my leg and ending at a comfortable height. As a woman with large calves, shins, and ankles I love how these boots fit comfortably (you order DUO boots by the centimeter so they’re a great choice for narrow, average, or wide calves and the customer reviews help you narrow down the styles best for your specific leg shape). I wear these over skinny jeans or with tights and skirts or dresses.

3. Black Heeled Booties. For many years I have worn the Cole Haan Air Talia bootie (discontinued, very similar and cheaper option) and while I still have and love (in fact just got back from the cobbler for a reheeling), the round toe looked weird with fuller trousers. I just picked up the ‘Coolen’ from Jessica Simpson and love the pointed toe, sleek heel, and the wider top that is more comfortable with my thicker ankles and shins. I wear under jeans and trousers, but also over skinny jeans and with tights and dresses.

4. Statement Heels. Last winter I picked up a pair of silver pumps from Nine West (no longer available, similar concept) and was surprised by how much wear I got with them. They add some fun to dark jeans, jazz up an LBD, and look cool peeking out of black trousers for an evening out. The closed toe is more comfortable on frigid nights but the pointed toe, high heel, and silver color makes them dressy enough for most affairs on my social calendar.

5. Wedges. A wedge is far easier to wear for long periods of time; these are my go-to when I know I’ll be on my feet but still want a bit of lift. The booties I have are the Nine West ‘Lottie’ which are discontinued (and not as tall as the one pictured), but this one from Anne Klein is similar in style. I wear with black tights and dresses, but have also worn under fuller trousers where the wedge isn’t as prominently on display.

6. Leopard Pumps. I have more than one pair of leopard pumps, but the ones featured are the Nine West ‘Ugogirl’ which are my newest leopard purchase and my current fave. A leopard shoe is extremely versatile and adds interest to an outfit of neutrals (which I often wear in the winter; hello black with more black and maybe a splash of denim). I like that these have a chunkier heel giving me more support, but a pointed toe which elongates my short frame.

7. Stylish Waterproof Boots. SOREL sent me these boots in September (review here) and they’re a great option for folks like me who have all her pants hemmed for heels. These can tuck under trousers or be laced up over skinny jeans and the grippy sole makes me feel more secure on slick DC sidewalks.

8. Casual Winter Boots. I picked these Treton boots up last winter on clearance at 6pm and they’re one of the best winter purchases I have made. Lined with shearling, the boots are super cozy and comfy. The wide opening makes them easy to slip on over thick socks and when still half-asleep letting Cindy out in the morning. I keep these at the backdoor to go to the compost and let out Cindy; slip leggings inside them and my track or snow pants over them for snow shoveling or sledding, and often slip them over skinny jeans to walk Cindy or a quick run to the grocery store or Starbucks. Previously I had a pair of duck boots (RIP), and even earlier (and likely somewhere in my attic or at the bottom of my office closet) I wore Tims.  Winter happens and function trumps fashion when it comes to weather.

9. Classic Black Pumps. I wear these almost year-round with skirts, dresses, and trousers. Come the coldest months I switch out to booties, but these still hold a place in my closet for the occasional client meeting or day wedding.  My personal favorites are MICHAEL Michael Kors ‘Flex’ and Nine West ‘Flax’.

10. Tall Black Boots I actually have two pairs; a black flat riding boot I bought two years ago from DUO Boots (very similar, same retailer), and a sleeker heeled boot with an almond toe that I got at Wide Widths almost a decade ago (same style, same retailer).  I wear riding boots over jeggings, leggings, skinny jeans several days a week come winter.  I use a protective spray on them so they keep me dry and salt doesn’t eat away the finish.  Tall boots are warmer than trousers alone; I usually add warmth with a pair of knee-high wool or cashmere socks (and sometimes a sock liner for extra tootsie insulation).  Heeled boots are worn with tights to make dresses bearable past Thanksgiving.

11. Slippers with a Rubber Sole. My shearling mocs from Lands’ End are what I put on as soon as I get home from work, have at the side of my bed when I go to sleep, and the first thing I put on when I wake. I like having a rubber sole so I can step out to the recycling bin or mailbox but also to not slip and slide on our hardwood floors and stairs. To keep down utility bills, I wear a cap and these slippers all winter long when indoors and these are uber comfortable.

What are your must-have shoes for fall and winter?

What I Wore: Casual Sparkle

POPSUGAR Must Have Box Review POPSUGAR Must Have Box Review POPSUGAR Must Have Box Review
Sweater: Lands’ End (on sale!) | Scarf: Spun by Sparkle Luxury c/o POPSUGAR Must Have Box | Necklace: ‘Sydney’ Pendant by Sparklepop c/o POPSUGAR Must Have Box | Jeans: Gap | Bag: Tiny Tote c/o Dagne Dover | Boots: ‘Santana’ c/o DUO | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban | Watch: Citizen | Bracelet: Nordstrom

This past Friday was our department’s end of year/holiday potluck and I wanted to add a bit of a festive touch to my casual Friday attire. The most recent POPSUGAR Must Have Box made that super easy! I received the December box and was highly impressed, several goodies that I truly liked. This is the second time I’ve had a chance to review the POPSUGAR Must Have Box and both times the contents have blown me away. This scarf from Spun Scarves retails for $62, and this pretty necklace from Sparklepop retails for $42 and were both in December’s box along with a $37.50 Dauville Bowl from Canvas Home (utterly gorgeous, on my nightstand to hold change and hair accessories), a $24 long-wear lip lacquer from Smashbox (not my color but a really nice formula), $4 gift tags from the Etsy store Knot & Bow (very cute), and a $14.95 cupcake mix from Williams-Sonoma (haven’t yet tried, likely will use for Emerson’s birthday next month). Not too shabby for a box that is $39.95 for a monthly subscription. And right now with code DEC14SELECT you can save $10 on a three-month subscription (expires 1/2/15). I’ve had the chance to try out some other subscription boxes before but POPSUGAR to me has been the best value, providing products you’d actually want totally a price that far exceeds the cost.

I can’t believe this sweater hasn’t yet been featured in an outfit post! I know I’ve written about it a ton, it has been on Instagram, and made a tiny appearance for Halloween but this has become one of the hardest working pieces in my wardrobe this fall and winter.  While it’s usually paired with jeans like here, I have also dressed it up with ivory trousers, and as I planned in this post, worn with a flippy black skirt.

Anyway, back to the potluck! We’ve had a tough end of the year, our department is merging with another office and there’s been a lot of change, people moving, some leaving, some changing departments and it was so nice to have us all together in one room, eating home-cooked food made with love, laughing and having a good time together. I feel really lucky to work with such an amazing group of people that are brilliant, hard working, but also have the biggest hearts.

POPSUGAR provided me with a complimentary POPSUGAR Must Have box. The opinions I have shared about the box are my own and POPSUGAR did not tell me what to say or how to say it.

Friday: Real Housewife

Tee: Armorlux (gift from reader)
Vest: c/o Karen Kane
Jeans: Jag
Boots: DUO Boots (similar)
Necklace: LOFT chain and pendant from eBay
Earrings: Vince Camuto
Bracelets: Nordstrom, Ann Taylor, Ralph Lauren, misc.
Bag: Sabina (similar)

My husband saw me in this outfit and said I looked like a Bravo TV housewife. I guess with the gold, the fur, the boots, it is a bit Real Housewives! When I left the house, I had straight hair, straight bangs, and felt I was channeling a bit of Patti Smith. Though the rain had stopped, it was still so wet and humid outside that by time I got to the sidewalk my hair had all curled up. By time I was at the Metro, I felt like Veronica Lake – my bangs had become part of the rest of my hair and I had deep waves. Lovely, but with a walk from the station to my job those waves just became a hot mess and now I am typing with a topknot. Oh well, it’s Friday!

Isn’t this vest fun? I want to sip cocoa at a ski lodge, wearing it with a cram turtleneck. Karen Kane always amazes me with their fashion – it’s a ton of fun yet translates well for real life. Their fall collection is pretty fantastic – sequins, leopard print, jewel tones, and more!

And I have to share the beauty which is these jeans. I have other pairs of Jag jeans and I really like how they fit, hold up, reasonably priced, and are pretty classic looking (no bling, logos, etc.). These have a smooth waistband – sort of reminiscent of maternity jeans but they curve to fit a woman’s body and give a smooth line under fitted knits. Comfortable and brilliant!

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What I Wore: Bandana Badass

Tee: Leith | Jacket: ASOS (similar) | Bandana: Vision Street Wear (similar) | Jeans: Gap | Shoes: Vince Camuto

The bandana is back this season, and it gives me an opportunity to pull out some oldies but goodies like this one from Vision Street Wear. It’s always fun to take something old from the wardrobe and give it a new life with new trends.

Though my cast is off, my arm is still healing and my hand isn’t strong enough to perform many daily tasks.  Clothing is still best when it’s a bit loose, but I’m liking jackets because they cover the still healing scar and provide some protection.  Adding the jacket and the bandana make me feel less like an invalid and more like a badass!

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Spring Wardrobe Additions

Now that the cast is off and the swelling has gone down, I can finally get into the spring fashion spirit! Here’s a few things I have recently purchased and like very much:

1. Well all know my adoration for stripes; when I saw this shirt at J. Crew Factory was only $21 I had to try it. I love the fit, the shape, the fabric, everything. It’s tempting to get it in gray as well!

2. I don’t ever shop Walmart, but I was on vacation in a small town where it was the only place to go to get a pair of shorts for Emerson. While there, I found these shorts by Faded Glory for $12.94 and I must say they’re pretty great. Good length that is comfortable yet not dowdy, a bit of stretch so they’re flexible but also keep their shape, and a nice non-dorky wash. Totally got rid of the cheesy neon skinny belt and will likely do an at-home distressing on them, but not too shabby. As with any shorts, I went a size up for a better fit.

3. I don’t own this EXACT shirt from Boden, but unfortunately the one I got is no longer on the site. This shirt featured is the Eliza Top, and I own the Eliza, but in a cerulean and navy stripe (yep MORE stripes!). I absolutely positively LOVE this shirt; I love silk but hate washing it (this shirt is machine washable); I like ¾ and bracelet-length sleeves now to protect my scar but stay breezy (this shirt has it), and I love a top that is casual like a tee but can dress up for work (wearing it right now with a pair of trousers and pumps, looks great tucked into a pencil skirt, and this weekend wore with boyfriend jeans). The Eliza Top from Boden is a regular in their collection and a great addition to many wardrobes!

4. I now own five pairs of Nine West’s Flax pump (black, natural, silver, peacock print, red and black spotted haircalf). I know that seems a bit insane, but it’s a pretty perfect shoe. Single sole, pointed toe, walkable heel height, and a nice price. I’ve been wanting a “nude” leather pointed toe pump for over a year, but find each pair is too pale, too dark, too pink, too something for me. The Flax’s Natural Leather is a pretty perfect shade for me, and I love having a shoe that looks great with both pants and skirts.

5. Another silky shirt with an in-between sleeve length! This is the Sophie Blouse from Dobbin Clothing, and while it has the same basics I like from the Boden Eliza Top, it gives a completely different effect thanks to the details. Slightly crinkled silk, gold buttons down the front, and blousy sleeves. The color makes it work with black, brown, ivory, and denim quite nicely. I often wear this blouse untucked with dark wash narrow jeans, but also wear to work tucked into ivory tropical wool trousers.

6. I mentioned my desire for delicate gold this spring, and I am still loving my Rebecca Minkoff cuff; I also picked up this dangly but not too jingly bracelet from Nordstrom for $24; it doesn’t look cheapy, it’s stretchy and doesn’t get in the way when I type.

7. This Panama hat is only $17 from J. Crew Factory. Runs a bit wide, but I like that because I can twist up my hair and tuck it in the brim to keep my neck cool (or hide bad hair).

8. Me and my Lifetherapy bracelets – it’s an addiction! I love turquoise, I have a few bracelets from the company in blue (see here) so it brightens up my current collection, and this one has an Aquarius symbol! I like that these bracelets are just one long cord; I’ve been known to also wear them as a long necklace with tanks in the summer!

9. Seriously, the Converse Shorelines are my jam! I’ve missed having casual tennis shoes for spring and summer, and these are so easy to slip on, no heel blisters, and no looking as though I’m wearing shoeboxes on my already chubby feet.

10. Linen always looks like such a mess on me.  Well this spring I’ve given up being crisp, and have embraced the casual wrinkled-ness of linen.  My J.Jill white linen big shirt is great knotted over distressed jeans, and these pants (the Julie fit from LOFT) I love with a simple cotton knit sweater, silk blouse, or with a denim shirt.

***

Outfit posts have been few and far between because it was slow and difficult getting dressed with the arm, and honestly pretty depressing. I gained weight and lost muscle being so sedentary during my time on disability, and just putting on a tee shirt could leave me in tears. And then, much of my wardrobe didn’t work with the cast, only having one arm to put myself together after using the bathroom, the stiff swollen arm and all that jazz. But I feel SO much better, have much more flexibility and less swelling and am feeling like myself again. So stay tuned, for actual posts of me wearing these new pieces!

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Vendor Review – Duo

I am always on the look for a pair of boots that fit my large calves, yet still have great style. Like plus-sized clothing, this combination is hard to find. Seems that all boots for larger calves are boring styles or totally tacky and/or dated.

A reader told me about Duo, a UK-based company that prides themselves on having an extensive selection of boots for almost every size calf. I headed over to their site and was utterly amazed at the selection. Yes, like other companies they have the standard tall boot in black and brown and a few selections I wouldn’t get caught dead wearing, but so many choices that were current and stylish, I had a hard time choosing which style to try.

I ended up choosing the Bern in caramel brown (photo from site), which I felt most closely replicated the classic Frye Harness boot that I covet but can’t pull up over my ankle. With the ability to size the boot shaft in centimeters, I was able to get a more custom fit than with inches. Converted into American fundage, the boots ended up being $238 with shipping – not cheap but equivalent to high-quality brands in the states that do not cater to my leg shape (and cheaper than Frye!). If these boots were as great as I had read, the price will be nothing for years and years of happy wear.

The boots arrived in less than two weeks, but were sent registered post and required a signature from me (not the husband) to pick up. Since the post office is open only when I am at work, it took a bit longer to get my purchase. No worries, better than leaving them out in the rain on my front porch.

Do note – the return policy is only ten days from receiving and the shoes need to be in mint condition if you do plan to send back. Be sure to wear them on carpeting to try them out at first.

The packaging is excellent – heavy plastic shipping bag that can easily be reused for returns. The box was sturdy and the boots carefully wrapped and protected. And the leather… these are GORGEOUS boots. The color was called Caramel Brown, but the shade is more of a tan – almost the same color as my legs (photo taken by moi). At first I feared this color would look strange and not match anything, but I think the lighter color was actually more flattering with large calves – not drawing attention to the size of the leg but the style of the boot. Like the Frye Harness boot, these boots look cool out of the box, and will look awesome in a couple years after some wear and tear.

The shaft is fleece-lined, and the footbed is leather. The stitching is well-done and high quality. The zipper is sturdy and has an elegant zipper pull. There are elasticized gussets at the back of the shaft for flexibility – if I had recalled this feature, I could have gone a centimeter or two smaller (one should already go a centimeter or two smaller than your measurement as that leather does stretch over time). However, I wanted a casual look and the looser fit seems to work.

Friday night I wore the boots around the house for movies and pizza and unlike previous “wide-calf” boots, these didn’t dig into my legs, leaving track marks from the zippers cutting into flesh. Not only that, they were comfy on the feet – good support and decent cushioning. I gave the boots the true test the rest of the weekend – wore them to tailgate for my college homecoming football game (five hours on my feet on concrete) and then Sunday at a luncheon and then a general-admission concert (five more hours standing on concrete). After all that, my feet felt great, my calves were happy and the boots still looked beautiful. The only problem was that the insole/footbed had pulled up a bit and the adhesive stuck to itself, making it lump under my heel. I was planning on replacing the insoles with more supportive ones anyway, so I just unstuck, put back in place and was fine. This happens often with me and boots – I will not judge the quality on this one teeny snafu.

Final verdict? I am a Duo fan and plan on shopping from them again in the future. The international shopping, high ticket price and the strict return policy may seem daunting but the quality and fit make it all worthwhile!

A Wide Calf Boot Update

So as you know from many previous posts on here, I have wide calves and have dealt with many companies trying to find tall boots that fit and flatter my larger-than-average legs. Many of you have suggested having a cobbler stretch traditionally-sized boots, but to give you some perspective, the last boots I ordered that fit had a 45 cm calf… that’s around an 18″ shaft for Americans. Most regular boots are 14-15″ and a wide calf boot in stores like J. Crew and Ann Taylor is usually around a 16-17″ shaft. I know many many of you readers have the same issue – the “wide calf” boots available aren’t wide enough or the selection plentiful enough.

Well since my last review of specialty bootmaker Duo and plus size retailer Silhouettes, I have been doing some more boot shopping, searching for the Holy Grail of Wide-Calf Boots, and I wanted to share my experiences with you.

wide calf bootsSilhouettes
After the great experience with my brown suede boots from Silhouettes, I decided to try a few more styles. End of the season sales made their average selection suddenly look delicious. I ordered a classic camel tall leather boot with wood heel, and a slouchy black leather tall boot (see below left). As that I usually wear a 7.5, I ordered an 8 and WW for both pairs. Boots are often better fitting if a half-size larger than usual, and my brown suede boots from there were 8WW.

The camel ones were HUGE, I mean HUGE! I didn’t even have to unzip them to get them on. The foot was also far too large, as that these boots were not just wide in the calf but in the foot too. Very confusing as that they were the same brand as the brown suede ones I already owned. The leather was very stiff and if it was stamped with the “Real Leather” logo, I would wonder if these were a synthetic fabric. The toe was rounder than expected – not as classic of a look as I would have desired. I wished that Silhouettes offered the size of the boot shaft like Wide-Widths and Duo.

wide calf bootsAs for the black ones, well I almost kept them. The leather was buttery soft and had a rocker look to them with the cuff, the slouchiness and the glossy finish. The toe was a bit snub and round (a longer, pointier, squarer or platform toe would have enhanced the rocker look and made them look more expensive), but in general an attractive boot that looked more expensive than its pricetag.

However yet again, they didn’t fit correctly. The left leg was a teensy bit big – nothing I couldn’t deal with. however the right leg – I was SWIMMING in it. I really fought over whether to keep and see if a cobbler could alter to fit, or return. After factoring in the slouchy/gathered leather of the style, I decided it would probably be too expensive to alter and returned them as well.

I must say, the return policy for Silhouettes is pretty good- 30 days and you can try them out before you return them – no need to pussy-foot around your carpeted rooms not really getting a feel for the footwear. My card was credited the amount in less than a month, no hassles at all. Silhouettes also offers a toll-free assistance line and email address – something I will take advantage of this fall when I return to my quest to find tall boots. Possibly they would have been able to advise me on which size to choose to get a custom fit.

eBay/Silhouettes
Loved my brown slouchy suede boots from Silhouettes, I headed to eBay to see if I could find the same boots in a different color. As I have mentioned before, there are many sellers offering new and gently used wide-calf boots. I found one who had my brown boots in purple. Purple, how fun! Nice splash of color with my predominately black winter wardrobe, and one of my favorite hues. Ordered the same size and width as my brown boots…

They arrived quickly, pristine in the original box. Same quality of suede, same exact style number.

They didn’t fit. First, they were way too snug on my feet. Second, I couldn’t zip them over my ankle bone. What the heck? I put them up against my brown boots to compare. Same stamps inside, same shape, same cut but the purple boots were shorter, slimmer, all over a smaller boot. Honestly, they looked like a size 7 regular-width calf. My lesson? Ask the seller where they got the merchandise. Maybe these were irregulars that Silhouettes discarded…

wide calf bootsRoaman’s
A fellow blogger tipped me off that Roaman’s offers a decent selection of wide-calf boots, and their descriptions of sizes and circumferences pretty detailed. I decided to order the Plus-calf Leather Boot by Step Up Comfort (see below left). I desired a taller heel and more modern style, but the price was great (sale) and I found an awesome coupon online that made these boots a DEAL with free shipping. Again, I ordered 8, but this time went with M as that the description said these boots would really stretch to fit.

wide calf bootsThe shoes arrived quickly… and didn’t look at all like the picture. No where in the description, or in the zoomed image of the boots did the site explain that the black leather had a weird glaze on it to make them look old, gray and as though someone spilled milk on them and let it dry. Dull, crackle finish, and the boot was slightly taller in the front than in the back. This may be for comfort, but I felt as though it made it look more like a pirate, than a work boot.

Went to put them on… and these were too small! Yet again, couldn’t zip them up over the ankle bone. However my friend ordered the same boots and they did fit her perfectly. Hers also had the weird milky glaze, but she also got the coupon and sale price and felt they would be fine enough and the low heel perfect for tromping around the city.
Roaman’s also has a great exchange/return policy – 90 days, satisfaction guaranteed. They had a UPS pre-paid label enclosed so I was able to easily drop off the box at my nearby UPS Store. They too credited my card very quickly and there were no hassles.

wide calf bootsDuo
I had had great success with Duo before, but was trying to find a cheaper alternative. After all my return and shipping costs from these previous vendors, I realize I should have stuck with a company I knew and trusted. On top of that, Duo was also having a sale on a large portion of their selection, and many sale boots were exactly what I was looking for!

I chose the “Toledo” in black (below left), which had a mid-height heel and a classic look. I went back to my previous order’s email confirmation and typed in my shoe and calf widths and processed my order. The boots arrived two weeks later from across the pond, and they didn’t fit. Like TOTALLY didn’t fit, couldn’t even get my foot in the boot! I look at the order form and realize that stupid me mixed up the sizes – I ordered my foot size (39) for the calf and calf size for the foot! Lesson learned? Double and triple check your order if you are purchasing from an overseas company or one who doesn’t provide size numbers you are familiar with!

wide calf bootsI contacted Duo and told them my issue. Less than 24 hours, I received an email from them and we began an email dialog on which boot would be the best choice for my shape. The customer service representative informed me that the “Toledo” would probably be a bad choice for my shape as that I have large ankles and shins as well as calves, and that style is for “more delicate of legs” (the site did mention this style was best for petite legs and I though that meant short legs and though it was a perfect choice). She asked me which other styles in my size I liked and I sent her the names. From them, she described the boots in more detail, and how they would fit and look on my body. She reminded me that Duo is always available by email or phone to offer advice on the proper boot for any person’s body. Lesson learned? Ask before ordering!

With all this information, I have decided to suspend my quest for the Holy Grail of Wide Calf Boots until late Summer/early Fall when all shops will be full of their new selections. Right now sizes and styles are slim, and I don’t want to be forced into purchasing that which is okay, and not awesome. However now I know to ask questions, ask questions, ask questions and double-check my order before hitting “Submit!” And of course, when I resume this journey I will be sure to keep you all updated!

Other posts on Wardrobe Oxygen about Wide-Calf Boots:
– It’s All About the Boots – Silhouettes and eBay
– Vendor Review – Duo Boots
– From Allie’s Mailbag – Where to Find Extended Calf Boots
– Tall Boots for Wide Calves

The Weekend

Saturday started as usual – feed and play with the dog, head to yoga, and then had tea at the local cafe with my mom and hubby to talk about our week. Ran a few errands.

My sister and my husband’s friend came over and we hung out until the evening, when we headed to Columbia for our friend’s birthday.

I was sad about the J. Crew dress, then Friday night at Target I found this dress on clearance for about $20; it’s from the Isaac Mizrahi line. Made of a heavy pique knit, it is the same silhouette, but a kangaroo pocket in front instead of the band with buttons. Score! Paired it with my trusty “Bern” boots from Duo, my seaglass necklace from Ross and my silver cuff.

Hair washed and conditioned, added pureology’s PureVolume Blow Dry Amplifier and then dried with a paddle brush, a round brush to smooth bangs.

Makeup is Smashbox Photo Finish primer, Revlon ColorStay Under Eye Concealer in Light Medium, philosophy The Supernatural in Beige, Cargo Matte BeachBlush in Tenerife, Revlon ColorStay shadow quad in Neutral Khakis – khaki on lid, chocolate and olive blended together in crease and along lash lines. Lashes curled, a coat of Cover Girl LashBlast in black with Imju Fiberwig over it. On lips is Revlon Shiny Sheers in Sheer Cocoa Glaze.

We ended up hitting a local pub to celebrate my friend’s birthday with about 25 of his other friends and loved ones. It was a very fun and chill evening.

Sunday, I went to breakfast with my sister, mom and husband. No pictures; wore my dark denim skirt from Gap, my black merino crewneck sweater from Banana Republic and my Duo boots. Hair second day, makeup minimal.

The rest of the day was pretty boring: chores around the house, some yoga in the living room, watched Layer Cake and 3:10 to Yuma with the hubby and had leftovers for dinner. Changed from the denim skirt to a pair of black yoga pants from ProSpirit for such festivities.

Wide Calf Boot Resources

wide calf boot online shopping resource

One of the biggest keywords that bring people to Wardrobe Oxygen is wide calf boots. As a curvy cusp to plus sized petite woman with athletic legs, I’ve never been able to walk into a shoe store and find boots to fit my wide calves. But over time I’ve found some spectacular online resources to buy stylish wide calf boots to fit and flatter my figure!

Posts on Wide Calf Boots:

Outfit Posts featuring Wide Calf Boots:

DUO Boots Santana Boot in Brown Leather:

DUO Boots Catalonia Riding Boot in Black Leather (no longer available – similar):

Ros Hommerson Maryland Heeled Boot in Black Leather (I had this boot tailored by a cobbler to narrow at the top of the shaft):

Fitzwell Bit Wide Calf Boot in Black Tumbled Leather:

DUO Bern Boots in Tan Leather (no longer available – similar):