Search Results for: label/Ecco Footwear

Spring Style with ECCO (Plus a Giveaway) [Sponsored]

Sometimes brands approach you about a partnership and it’s a perfect fit. I was contacted about doing a sponsored post with ECCO and I was psyched. I’ve featured ECCO shoes before (here and here for example) and think it’s a great brand that marries classic style with comfort. They asked for me to style one of their shoes and one bag here on the blog.

ecco bag 1 ecco bag 2Top | Skirt | Bag: c/o ECCO

Before this partnership, I didn’t know that ECCO made bags. I shouldn’t be surprised that they do, and that they are elegant, classic, and high quality. I received the ECCO Felicity Crossbody in a neutral Saffiano leather. It’s a nice sized bag from nice materials, but it’s hard to properly gauge it because it is not the color or style of bag I would normally choose for myself. It’s a size big enough to carry all your purse essentials yet slim and streamlined. Everything inside stays safe and dry too, thanks to the soft fabric lining water-repellent lining. I decided to style the ECCO Felicity Crossbody with a classic look to highlight its traditional lines. I’m glad for this partnership with ECCO because I found that they make nice bags. My first choice for this campaign was the ECCO Sculptured Clutch, which is made of buttery leather and is the shape and style that will work all seasons of the year and be chic for years to come.

ecco sho9es 1 ecco shoes 2Dress | Necklace (similar) | Hat (similar) | Shoes: c/o ECCO

The ECCO Touch 45 Cross Wedge is a comfortable sandal. I had recently ordered this turquoise dress and saw it next to the shoes and LOVED the color combination. Considering the comfort and versatility of this shoe, I decided to style the ECCO Touch 45 WS for a summery vacation look. I like the look of the ECCO Touch 25 T-Strap which is a wedge sandal of a similar height, but thinner straps that give a more feminine feel that may prove more versatile. Available in four colors and a variety of fabrics, it’s the perfect blend of comfort and style for spring and summer.

The craftsmanship of this bag and these sandals is classic ECCO and a reason why this brand is a favorite of mine. The shoes are comfortable straight out of the box and crafted to offer comfort and style for years. I encourage you to check out the ECCO site and see the other styles they have available. And if you’re a fan of ECCO like me, today’s your lucky day!

What’s your favorite spring shoe trend? Tell me below in the comments for a chance to win an ECCO shoe card worth up to $250!


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

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 4/2/15 – 4/30/15.

Be sure to visit the ECCO brand page on where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

We All Have Those Days

Jacket: Rubbish | Tank: Ann Taylor (similar) | Jeans: Gap | Shoes: c/o ECCO | Bracelets: JewelMint, old, c/o lifetherapy | Sunglasses: Gas Station in Kentucky | Watch: c/o WatchCo

This morning I decided to make an outfit around my new watch. WatchCo let me pick a watch of my choice, I haven’t worn one in eons and have been wanting one, so I picked one of their Citizen watches. I Instagrammed my watch-filled arm party the other day but haven’t yet featured it on the blog. So my hair was damp, I put in some beach waving stuff I never tried before, and decided to go up in the attic, grab some warm weather clothes and create an ensemble. Well actually, I decided I wanted to wear my white shirt with my Banana Republic red skirt. I know I said the white shirt was too big, but my body is bigger than it was last year so I thought it may work.

The shirt is a no-iron style but everything needs a bit of heat after being shoved in a Rubbermaid bin for a few months. So I got all steamy in the attic, then whipped out the iron which got me even more steamy. And Emerson’s asking what I am doing, can she watch, can she try, can I teach her. And time is ticking, I need to leave for work. I’m hungry, I’m short on time, I’m sweaty and I just showered and I try on the shirt… and it still is too big. It looks too crisp, too much like I am wearing my husband’s shirt. I try a black boatneck tee with elbow-length sleeves. Too severe of colors. I try a striped tee, felt too cliche. I try the white shirt with cropped pants and feel fat and frumpy. But this time my hair has started drying in crispy curls a la 1989 Alison. And Emerson wants Bunny Fruit Snacks. Please. Please. Please. Please. Pleasssssseeeeeee Mommy I NEEEEEEED BUNNNNNY FRUITTTTT SNACKKKKKKSSSSSSS!

So I told Emerson I needed a moment, if she could go into her room and pick out her outfit for the day. I calmly closed the door, locked it, and slammed a pillow a dozen times into the bed and screamed a bit into said pillow and stripped off all the clothes that made me hot and feel fat and laid down spread eagle on the bed and did some yoga breathing until I literally and figuratively calmed down. And then I just grabbed what was sitting on the cedar chest at the foot of the bed – jeans I wore this weekend, a tank that was just washed and not yet put away, a jacket I have been deciding whether to keep or not. Grabbed a barrette to hold back my mall bangs, put on enough makeup to not have coworkers ask if I was okay and moved on.

We all have those days. And while this outfit is NOT what I should be wearing to work, it’s not awful. It makes me glad that I regularly purge my wardrobe of stained, stretched out, faded, and super duper unflattering clothes. Because we all have these days, these days where we say (pardon my French) FUCK IT and just put on clothes so you’re not arrested for indecent exposure. And life’s a lot better when those fuck it clothes doesn’t make you even more miserable and stressed out.

Take care of yourself, and prepare for those fuck it moments. Get rid of the unflattering, the poor condition, the pieces that give you low self esteem. Slowly build up a wardrobe of loungewear that is flattering as well as comfortable, weekend clothes that you can wear outside your home and backyard. You’ll thank yourself when the next time one of these days hits.

And this jacket? I guess it’s a keeper!

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In the morning, I ran to get my hair cut and colored in the nearby town, and then run a few errands. Olive ribbed tank from J. Crew, white ribbed tank from Old Navy, Joe’s Jeans in “Provacateur,” brown stacked flops from J. Crew, silver hoops from The Icing, silver cuff.

Hair was brushed out but on the second day; blew the bangs straight.

Makeup was Body Shop bronzing powder in Light as face color, Max Factor Lash Perfection mascara on curled lashes, Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Pink Afterglow.

Kathleen did her magic – all I told her is that I wanted to go darker and that I wanted heavier bangs. I trust her, and was not disappointed. Choppy layers that can work straight, wavy or curly, fun sideswept bangs, and a very rich multi-tonal color of dark brown that looks closer to what I was born with.

Got home and had to dash to get dressed. Friday night I had a friend over so I didn’t have time to play dress-up and figure out my theater outfit. Thank you soooo much to everyone who wrote in suggestions, you guys are awesome and have good ideas! For the one who suggested my Old Navy dress… I completely forgot about it. I had set to wear my black cashmere tank from Banana Republic and my orange-red shantung full skirt also from Banana (seen here), but when I saw how spiffy and sleek my husband looked (flat front gray tropical wool trousers from J. Crew, white tailored shirt from some brand sold at Mens Wearhouse, black blazer from… J. crew? Not sure…, black slip-on sleek shoes from Ecco) I decided my outfit may look a bit like a costume. I tried a few different skirts, but settled on the black matte jersey dress from Old Navy, my red stone necklace, my leopard peep-toe heels from BCBgirls,silver hoops from The Icing, and silver cuff natch. :-)

Didn’t have to do my hair since it was done by Kathleen my talented stylist. She used the Pureology line on me, and swears by it for protecting color. I bought the shampoo and conditioner and once I can wash my hair (was told to go as long as humanely possible without washing) I will be using it and let you k now how it is.

Same makeup as earlier, just a re-touch of the bronzing powder, a bit of Smashbox Soft Lights in Tint on my cheekbones, a medium line of Maybelline Ultra Liner in black on the top lash line, a quick swipe of Maybelline Great Lash waterproof mascara in black over existing mascara, Body Shop Lip and Cheek Tint with Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Pink Afterglow over it.

We took the Metro and it was not even a block to the little restaurant (I don’t know if there are even 20 tables in the place). The menu seemed different from the one online and the only entrees that were vegetarian were spaghetti with tomato sauce (yawn) and a risotto with corn and truffle shavings. My husband and I chose the risotto, we shared a bottle of Pinot Grigio (not sure the label, our friend chose the wine) and had a nice, yet not inspiring or overwhelmingly unique meal. We then walked not even three blacks to the Kennedy Center where my friend and I sidestepped grates in our heels (she too wore a black sheath and heels) while the men tromped over everything and got there in time to marvel at the acre-sized curtains in the lobby and get a cocktail in the Terrace Bar prior to the performance.

The performance was great! As I said, I had never seen The Phantom of the Opera other than the movie. Back story – 1992, for Christmas I got my first boom box with a CD player in it, and with it two CDs – Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera. For several months until I got my high school arsenal of REM, Depeche Mode, Pearl Jam and Nirvana, I listened solely to these two soundtracks. Come 2007, I am silently singing along to this performance and even a tear came down my cheek at finally seeing live what I had in my head 15 years ago. I think also seeing Shakespeare in Love the night prior made the theater experience that more intense.

Our friends live in Virginia and parked at the theater; it was a gorgeous night and declined their offer to drive us to the Metro and decided to hoof it. All in all a lovely evening!

Ask Allie: Comfy and Stylish Shoes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ask Allie: Denim-based Office Capsule Wardrobe

I really like the capsule wardrobe posts that you have been doing. Would you consider doing one for a jeans work environment? Our company recently switched policies to allow casual dress everyday, as long as the jeans are dressier.

My last three places of employment have allowed jeans as long as they were dressed up. This post I wrote about work-appropriate denim is a great start in figuring out which jeans are considered business casual, and which are best left for weekends and evenings. For a denim-based capsule wardrobe, I recommend at least three different silhouettes and washes. For this capsule, I chose a dark wash of a traditional cut (straight, bootcut, etc.), a denim trouser which is a bit more refined and usually has a wider leg, and then a novelty piece. Depending on your personal style, it could be a subtle brocade print, corduroy, velour, or even a dark color like oxblood, black, or olive green. With all your work jeans, narrow and slim is acceptable with longer tops but skin tight is never appropriate.

Twenty Possible Combinations:

The best way to make jeans versatile is to have a variety of footwear. Narrow jeans look drastically different with flats than they do tucked into tall boots. Since you wrote in your email that you recently had a baby, I chose shoes that are more comfortable – a low-heeled boot, flat with arch support (I actually own these very flats from Ecco and find them extremely comfortable and cute), a wedge which is easier to wear than a standard heel.

Accessories can really transform an outfit – a tunic sweater is slouchy cool alone, streamlined when cinched with a wide belt. Thinking of my own wardrobe, I added a patterned skinny belt and a statement-making wide belt because I find these two types of belts to be the most versatile and best at transforming wardrobe staples. Scarves give denim a chic vibe – a patterned silk scarf with anything from a tank and cardigan to a striped tee makes a look instantly sophisticated, a lightweight pashmina adds interest and is a makeshift shawl in drafty offices.

Also since you said you recently had a baby, I chose fabrics and silhouettes that have stretch, are comfortable, and can look polished without being super fitted and structured. These pieces will also work if you lose any weight in the next couple of months – you can tuck in, belt, and adjust as your body changes. I stuck with solid colors because they are more versatile and less memorable. I used a lot of neutrals with pops of extreme brights, which always look so great next to denim.

When wearing jeans, it’s more important to think about what is on top. While one could carry off a simple knit top with pants or a skirt, with jeans such a top could easily veer into cleaning-out-the-garage territory. Soft-structured jackets, sweater coats, and cardigans help make jeans look polished as well as making more narrow silhouettes office-appropriate. All of these pieces would easily work with pants and skirts as well if there are days where you need to dress up for a visit from corporate or clients.

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Ask Allie: Commuter Shoes for Summer

I have to wear comfortable shoes during my daily commute, as I walk 20+ minutes each way. Okay looking shoes/boots are easy enough to find for the cold winter months but I’m at a loss for summer. Flip flops aren’t an option as I have high arches and can’t stand feeling of something between toes. Gym shoes are too dorky. Any ideas?

I am so glad to find a fellow woman who won’t wear flip flops on her commute. Not only do they not provide arch support and can be deadly on slick sidewalks (and feel weird between the toes), but they are just plain tacky looking with your corporate attire. Keep the flip flops to the backyard barbecues and beaches!

I also am anti-the beaten-down ballet flats; this morning when walking to get coffee, I overheard two women discussing their commuting shoes. A woman said she loved ballet flats from Gap, but admitted she was on her fifth pair in two years because they got, “Super gross, super fast.” I’m glad that she would replace them once they got “gross,” but think it would make more sense to invest in a higher-quality shoe that could survive more than a couple months. There are great quality summer shoes out there with comfort and arch support, here’s a few that have been on my radar:

I like that this pair of Ecco shoes isn’t your typical ballet flat which is free of structure and support. This shoe has a proper sole and a tiny bit of a heel to put your foot in a more comfortable position. Leopard is an unexpected neutral that will go with almost everything in your closet. This shoe also comes in solid colors.

I have a pair of Cole Haan shoes with Nike Air Technology and can attest to the fact that they are really comfortable, wearable for long spans of time, and great for walking. These adorable bow flats from Cole Haan have miles of style and great reviews for comfort when walking. While black is a safe bet, I am partial to the red for a fun pop of color on your commute.

A driving moc or loafer is always a classic choice, and looks fresh with everything from menswear-inspired trousers to flippy sundresses. I love the orange color, which screams summer and would also look smart come the weekend with twill shorts or cropped pants.

When I was pregnant, I had a flat from Naturalizer very similar to these. They were utterly amazing – so supportive, comfortable, and fit right out of the box. These may not be the most chic of flats, but your feet will be happy by time you finish your walk and the color is subtle enough to not destroy the look of your ensemble.

I own these sandals and adore them. They are so comfortable, they have become my sightseeing shoe and even wear them when attending concerts when I know I will be standing the whole time. While they have an ankle strap, once you wear them twice you don’t need to unfasten to get on and off, which makes it easy for commuting. I also like the covered toe, which will keep your feet clean and your pedicure intact when walking down city streets.

Very similar to the Ventura, but with a different heel or sole. I love that this shoe comes in widths so you can ensure a comfortable fit from the get-go.

Great selection of colors, great reviews on comfort and the ability to walk for miles in them. I like the adjustable straps for a custom fit, and love that they are under $100.

Do you have a favorite commuting or walking shoe?  Please share in the comments!

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Ask Allie: Best Boots for Plantar Fasciitis

I’ve been searching your web site for info on boots – how to find a good pair that doesn’t hurt when worn all day, for example. We will be moving to northern Michigan (think: SNOW) to retire in a few years, and by that time I would like to have a good pair of boots. But if I’m going to spend extra money for good quality boots, I just want a pair that I will want to wear a lot. What brands do you recommend for problem feet? I have plantar fasciitis and large feet with large big toes, medium width.

When shopping online it’s hard to know what will work before it arrives on your doorstop. That’s why, for unknown brands and styles I stick to companies that have free shipping and liberal return policies:

  • Zappos – Free shipping, and you have 365 days to decide to return (and returns are also free). To try from Zappos, it’s important to wear socks and try them on a clean carpeted floor; they do not take back worn shoes. I’ve been known to order a pair and have them sent to my office and wear them around the workplace which is clean and carpeted. If they go home, there’s a chance that they will get dirty, dog hair, or never gotten around to being returned.
  • Planet Shoes – A great site for eco-friendly, vegan, and USA-made footwear, Planet Shoes has free shipping and free returns on unworn merchandise if sent back within 90 days of purchase.
  • NordstromNordstrom has a stellar shoe department, free shipping, and free returns. While it’s unethical to return clothes you happily wore, it’s nice that with Nordstrom if you get a pair of shoes you think are comfortable but then say wear sightseeing and end up with pain, you can still return them.
  • Online Shoes – While returns cost $7.95, exchanges are free at Online Shoes and they have categories for footwear such as orthotic-friendly and up to 4X wide shoes and healthy-feet brands like Rockport, Dansko, Cobb Hill, and Sofft. It’s a great site if you’re more familiar with a brand and its fit but wish to try a new style in their collection as they have selection and also customer reviews.
  • The Walking CompanyThe Walking Company’s return policy kind of sucks, but if you have a store nearby (and there’s one in Ann Arbor which you mentioned in your email), you can return in stores for free. The Walking Company breaks down book categories by style and brand like other retailers, but also by comfort level with a specific category just for plantar fasciitis.

If you have plantar fasciitis, you want to find a shoe with good arch support, plenty of cushioning, and a shock-absorbing heel. This can be achieved with a shoe brand and style that provides this, or a shoe that has room for an insert to achieve these goals. Brands like Aravon, Dansko, ECCO, Naot, and Orthaheel are highly rated by those with plantar fasciitis, while brands like David Tate, Munro, Cougar, and Cobb Hill are known for being orthotic-friendly and are more likely to have a roomy toebox for your toes. Searching online, these are tall boots I found that are a classic style, well-rated brand, and would work for plantar fasciitis.

keen tyretread boot

KEEN Tyretreat Boot

With KEEN’s metatomical footbed design, this boot cradles the foot, has excellent arch support, a shock-absorbing polyurethane midsole, and still room for orthotics. Reviews say these are as comfortable as a pair of sneakers and roomy in the toes. Made with waterproofed leather, this classic style comes in black, brown, and tan; there’s also a waterproof version in black and tan that has seam-sealed construction and a moisture wicking lining which would be even better for a snowy climate.

naot viento boot

Naot Viento Boot

This is a classic leather riding boot with simple styling that will be fashionable for seasons to come. What makes this and other Naot boots special is the anatomically shaped cork and latex footbed that molds to your unique foot shape with wear. The footbed also features arch support for pronation control, a heel cup for added stability, hallux support to prevent foot slippage, and an elevated footbed center to release pressure in the joints located in the central area of the foot. Naot claims that wearing this boot, you’ll gain better posture, balance and body alignment. Available in black and brown leather, while this boot isn’t waterproofed, some waterproofing spray and regular maintenance can protect them from occasional splashes and interaction with salt.

Cobb Hill Britney Boot

Cobb Hill Britney Boot

Cobb Hill, a New Balance Company, sent me some of their shoes to try earlier this year and I was highly impressed by the comfort and support of their shoes. The Britney has a stability shank embedded into the midsole which supports the arch and helps create a smoother gait; the TR outsole provides traction control while absorbing shock and maintaining stability. Though the Britney does sport some ankle straps and hardware, the look is still classic enough to withstand footwear trends. As with the Viento, I recommend prepping this boot with a waterproofing spray.

naya abira boot

Naya Abira Boot

The Abira is a classic riding boot in buttery leather with a cushioned footbed that massages the foot with every step and a rubber outsole that delivers long-lasting durability on a variety of surfaces. The foot is roomy enough to fit an orthotic, and the style can dress up or down quite nicely. Naya is a brand known for quality and comfort but can often be found on discount sites like 6pm; when researching this post I found the boot almost 50% off in tan on 6pm.

Now I wish to hear from you readers; any suggestions for this reader? Do you deal with plantar fasciitis? If so what shoes and boots have you found that are supportive, comfortable, yet still stylish?

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
Facebook (friend “shop chickdowntown” and/or become a fan of the chickdowntown page)
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Good luck!

Ask Allie: Fashion Advice for a Petite SAHM

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

For additional petite inspiration, check out:

Shop My Closet – On Poshmark!

WardrobeOxygen on PoshmarkI’ve been saying for a while that I needed to get off my tuchus and sell all the clothes I don’t currently wear. While I may clean out my closet I do have a dirty secret… I have bins and bags full of clothes in my attic (and there were a couple full contractor bags in my home office). I regularly donate career wear to a charity and have Freecycled and donated all my maternity clothes and clothes that are in “well loved” condition, but the nicer stuff I’ve been holding on to.

No more. All this clothing is doing no one favors being boxed and bagged up in my attic. A couple weekends ago, my best friend came over and for eight hours we dug through three bags. All pieces were photographed, packed up, labeled, and ready to ship. While I have used eBay and a Shop My Closet blog in the past, this time I decided to use Poshmark. My friend Alyson has raved about it for a long time and many of you have told me you use it with great success. It seemed simpler than eBay too.

For the past two weeks I have been using Poshmark and I have become as big of a fan as my friend Alyson! It’s an app-based program; while you can visit Poshmark on your computer, to buy and sell you need to do it on your phone. As a seller, I think this makes the process uber easy – my pictures are already on my phone so I can easily upload them, write a quick description, and even answer questions and negotiate counteroffers. I’ve found the customers to be more… reasonable than on eBay. You’re not usually expected to offer 5,000 measurements for a $6 LOFT tee, people are super friendly and quick to share and comment, and while I have had a couple ridiculous counter offers (no, I will not sell that NWT original retail still in the store $250 item for $15), in general it has been a friendly and painless experience.

Tips for Selling on Poshmark by Wardrobe OxygenA couple of you saw on social media that I was on Poshmark and have joined to buy and sell. If you’re interested, if you use this link and code PMZYS you’ll get $5 off your first order and I too will receive a $5 credit (find me, I am wardrobeoxygen).  There’s no auction or bidding, you can counter-offer and some sellers (myself included) offer  “bundling” where you can purchase multiple pieces from a seller at one time and save on shipping ($4.99/order).  If you’re interested in selling on Poshmark, here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • Be Honest.  Like other selling sites, Poshmark has a rating system.  Buyers can give you up to five stars for orders.  It’s not worth it to ruin your reputation by trying to pass off replicas, lie about the condition of a garment, or its original price.
  • Provide Details.  Is it an XL but fits more like a L?  How did you style it?  If you recall the original style name or number or even color name, include it.  While Poshmark won’t let you write a novel, you can offer quite a lot of information.  The more details you provide, the more likely the item will sell and the more likely the buyer will get what she expected and leave you a favorable rating.
  • Take Good Photos.  I use my iPhone 6s and take the pictures in natural light near a window.  For Christmas I got this dress form; it’s not high quality (in fact I cracked the base the day my friend and I were on a Poshmark selling spree and it’s now held together with packing tape) but it gives a better idea of how an item will fit than lying a sweater on your bed or floor.  If you have a photo of you wearing the item, include that too.  I also search the internet for stock photos of the item.  A mix of all three is a great way to get an item sold.  Poshmark lets you upload four photos per item with the first photo being your cover photo.  I’ve found the most successful cover photos are those with me wearing the piece.  If you don’t have a photographer taking your picture in items for a blog, a mirror selfie in a well-lit room is still good (and you can cut off your head in the photo if you wish to be anonymous).
  • Stock Up on Free Priority Mailers.  Your post office has Priority Mail Tyvek envelopes and boxes for free; these are perfect for shipping out your orders.  Included in the cut Poshmark takes from your sales (20%, or $2.95 if the item sells for $5 or less) is a shipping label.  When you make a sale, Poshmark emails you this Priority Mail label.  You can order shipping bags and boxes from for free but know it takes up to two weeks to receive your order.  If you have a post office nearby, grab a few to get your sales going.
  • Take Care with your Sales.  I fold nicely, wrap in tissue, tie with a bit of curling ribbon, and carefully slip into the box or bag.  I got a pack of cheap tissue paper; you only need 1-2 pieces per order.  The curling ribbon I purchased when I attended a baby shower where all presents were to be wrapped in blue.  That yet-to-be-born baby is now 5 and as you see in the photo above, there’s still plenty left even though every shower and birthday present since the shower had turquoise ribbon on it.  I bought some rolls of packing tape, and because I’m a dork like that, ordered some cheapy business cards from VistaPrint (this is a referral link that will give you $10 off your first order) that thank the buyer for her order, have my name and my Poshmark address on them.  The overall cost is minimal, but it makes the experience much nicer for the recipient.
  • Raise Your Rates.  Poshmarkers LOVE to counter-offer.  Consider this when making your prices.  It’s worth it to up the price a few dollars to be ready for a counter-offer (if you accept a counter-offer the item sells immediately to that individual).  Also, if you have stagnant items that don’t want to sell, you can then lower the price without too much heartache.  A plus to lowering the rate is anyone who “liked” the piece will end up receiving reduced shipping.
  • Be Quick with Communication.  If someone asks for additional details or makes a counter-offer, be polite and reply within 24 hours.  Since Poshmark is on your phone, it’s easy to quickly type in a response and move on with your day.
  • Follow the Rules.  Don’t accept sales through PayPal or offline.  Don’t try to sell used makeup or clutter Poshmark with items they don’t allow to be sold on their app (home goods, electronics, health and wellness products, used underwear and makeup).  Don’t label something a blouse when in fact it’s one of those belly wrap things that spam social media.  And don’t call something Chanel-esque or like Louis Vuitton – that’s a trademark violation and such names can only be used if the item is legitimately from that brand.
  • Be Part of the Community.  Share other people’s sales (I only share that which I actually like), follow other accounts, leave comments and reply to comments.  Poshmark is very social, and by being part of the community you’ll get a larger audience to see your closet, resulting in faster and more sales!

Are you on Poshmark?  I’d love to hear your experiences and feel free to share your closet in the comments!

Comfort and Style CAN Live Together in Harmony!

It really is possible to be chic AND comfortable. Just with everything else in life that is good, you need to work hard and do your homework. Sure, ratty sweats and a fake pair of Uggs will be cozy on a winter day, but is that really the “book cover” you wish to present to the world? Making conscious decisions and shopping carefully, you can achieve great personal style and comfort within one wardrobe.

The Long Walk
So you’re a city girl and trek several blocks from your apartment to your office. Or maybe you live in a town where you can reach the grocery, bank and post office all on foot. Possibly you are a college student where you log a few miles a day trekking around campus. Whatever your reason, your life doesn’t have room for 4” stiletto heels and bondage-like pencil skirts.

This doesn’t mean you have to wear white tennis shoes or dowdy orthopedic loafers around town. These days almost every brand of shoe has a style made for comfort.

Tall boots are still the rage, but lucky for us they are now being shown on the runways and in the magazines with low to no heel at all. This leather boot from Born merges current trends with utter comfort and even classic style for a pair of boots you can put miles and years in easily.

These booties from Gentle Souls are sleek enough to pair with your work attire, but with a low yet grippy heel and sole and a flaxseed pouch under the insole for support and comfort, you’ll be able to walk all over town in utter comfort.

ECCO is a great brand known for making study and comfortable footwear. Take that reputation with a drool-worth red patent Mary Jane style, and you have form AND function that would work with dresses and pants in almost every season. Red is the unexpected neutral that will work with almost your entire wardrobe – from brown to black to gray to denim, red is a great jolt of color that will boost your entire look.

For clothing, look for pieces that have lycra for stretch. A pair of boots over skinny jeans is a classic casual look for weekends or the campus, but can be terribly uncomfortable if the jeans are rigid and the boots are binding. Lycra will also give you a more custom fit.

Moisture-wicking pieces will help with the cold outside to warm outside transition and the energy used to hike up those hills in town. Tops like this Teelicious V-neck from Athleta will work under all your sweaters and help wick moisture from the body, keeping you warm and dry.

Baby It’s Cold Outside
To get from your door to your car you have to pass two-foot piles of rock-hard thawed and refrozen snow drifts, black ice and puddles of salty muck. Each day is an adventure just to get out the driveway, let alone slip and slide on the sidewalks to your destination. You laugh at suede booties and peeptoes, and seriously consider investing in snowshoes or ice-climbing boots to survive the season.

No need to sacrifice style or succumb to neon-hued marshmallows on your tootsies, there are great options that are weatherproof, insulated AND have good traction on the ice.

This weatherproof leather boot from Merrell offers style and a sticky leather sole for traction. Merrell is a company known for their high-quality action sports and outdoor gear as well as their comfort. This boot has a breathable mesh lining and an elastic gusset to these babies will fit over your jeans or your coziest knee socks with ease.

This waterproof short boot from Sudini is sleek enough to be worn once you reach the office, not just for the frigid trek to the building. The flexible sole helps with traction and getting around comfortably, and the removable insole means you can upgrade to an insole with more support or cushioning to make the time on your feet even more pleasant. Available in black or brown and a variety of foot widths, this bootie could work in almost any woman’s wardrobe.

Make warmth the these of your look with these tall boots from North Face. Paired with a chunky fisherman’s sweater and skinny jeans or a wool sweater dress and thick tights or leggings, these waterproof, Primaloft-lined boots can be stylish AND comfortable on the coldest and snowiest winter day. Best of all the TNF Winter Grip ™ outsoles are known to have amazing traction on ice, snow and slush.

As for clothing, layers are a great way to stay warm and still be comfortable. You can throw on a sweater or hoodie under your coat, and always remove it and tuck it in your bag if your destination has the heat blasting. Look for thin yet warm outerwear that will help you move comfortably, while protecting you against the elements.

I recently purchased this reversible down coat from Lands End for my commute. The longer length keeps me toasty warm even if I am wearing a skirt, is water-resistant, and a sleek design made specifically to not add bulk to a woman’s frame. Remember a scarf, gloves and hat to protect the areas where heat escapes. I love a pashmina in place of a scarf – it adds a nice shot of collar at the neckline, can double as a wrap if your destination is drafty, and the soft cashmere feels great against wind-chapped faces.

Jane of All Trades
You want a shoe that will look sophisticated, professional, even possibly dressy without making your toes screech in pain. Asking too much? No, not these days with modern technology and wonderful materials that can offer great classic style and all-day comfort.

Cole Haan has partnered with Nike to create their Air line of shoes. These shoes have the beautiful style, class and quality Cole Haan is known for, but have Nike Air technology carefully hidden in the sole to provide extra cushioning. This suede and patent leather peeptoe pump is an elegant color and style that would work with skirts or trousers and be great three seasons of the year.

These dress boots from Clark offer the style of a traditional heeled city boot, but hidden in the sleek design is a soft foam footbed, a rigid ABS heel for easy walking on a higher heel, an SSR outsole with EVA-filled forepart to reduce load lift and extends the life of the boot, and cement construction where the upper is adhered to the outsole using a bonding agent, which creates a lightweight, flexible shoe.

My Head is Too Big to be Hipster: A Warby Parker Review

Once I got new glasses, I wanted more. A pair of red frames to channel my inner Sally Jesse Raphael, a funky blue or green pair to jazz up all-black ensembles, a funky shape to show personality at the office. I had heard a lot of great things about Warby Parker and decided to try a pair of frames from them.

Me in my new glasses – Lafont’s Issy & La collection, the frame is called “Gloss”

Warby Parker Eyewear’s mission is to offer reasonably-priced fashionable frames. On top of that, for every pair of Warby Parkers sold, a new pair is given to someone in need. Warby Parker is also proud to be a carbon-neutral company.

Warby Parker has a try-on program where you can pick five frames and try them on at home. They will ship the glasses to you for free and offer free return postage; I decided to take advantage of this program and see if I could find a new pair of signature prescription frames.

The Warby Parker site is very easy to navigate; click on your gender and then whether you desire optical or sunglass frames. From there you can choose material, color, frame shape, and width. From experience, I know my face is pretty wide, so I stuck to the medium and wide styles of frames. Since I already have a pair of tortoiseshell frames, I stuck to more unusual colors.

The glasses arrived quickly in a sturdy shipping box, and then a lovely navy linen box. Each pair of glasses was in its own compartment, wrapped in plastic and labeled with its name. Each pair of Warby Parker frames has the brand and style name inside on the temple. I found the quality to be stellar, especially for the price. These frames rival the more expensive designer styles I tried at my nearby glasses shop. The return process is simple – peel off the self-adhesive UPS label and drop it in a nearby UPS drop box. I couldn’t be more impressed with Warby Parker and their process… except that my face is too big for them.

Maybe I should have tried men’s frames, but I felt that almost every pair I tried (except for the Bensen, and they just weren’t a style I was looking for) was just a hair too small for my face. I often have this issue not just with glasses, but sunglasses as well. In fact, when I got my new glasses, they were the only ones I liked after trying on about 20 pairs – each other pair seemed just a bit too small for my face shape, even some of the men’s frames I tried.

So if you have a normal to small-sized noggin, I encourage you to try Warby Parker. The Warby Parker at-home program is completely free so you have nothing to risk; if you find a pair you like you can feel good that not only will you look great, but your purchase will also be doing good. As for me, I will have to look elsewhere, my head is just too big to be hipster.

Note: Warby Parker has no idea I am doing this review and I was not compensated in any way for it.  I just decided to try the brand and share my experience with you!

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Who Wants a Year’s Worth of Free Shoes?

When I feel bad I like to treat myself. Clothes never look any good… food just makes me fatter… shoes always fit.
-Rose Feller, from the movie In Her Shoes

It’s true, no matter what size we are, we can usually find a pair of fabulous footwear to make us feel sassy, feminine, powerful and pretty. No other accessory can transform a look, or the wearer with such intensity.

Footprints International free shoesReader Jacqueline recently told me about a company she is part of – Footprints International. We have all been exposed to the at-home parties for Pampered Chef, Partylite, and even I used to even be a consultant for The Body Shop at Home. Those parties are fun because you get to sip cocktails with your girlfriends while shopping or playing with gadgets or beauty products. Well imagine if you could have a shoe store come to your home? Well Footprints International allows you to do just that.

Jacqueline is having the most fabulous contest going on right now, and I just had to share it all with you:

Footprints International wants to know, in 200 words or less, why you adore your shoes. What is it about wearing a fabulous pair of shoes that excites you, makes you feel beautiful, or puts a smile on your face? All contest entries will begin: “I adore my shoes because. . .”

The Grand Prize winner will receive 12 pairs of fabulous Footprints International Shoes – yes, that’s the equivalent of a pair a month for a year with special surprise bonuses throughout the year. The Grand Prize winner will also receive a special shoe gift arrangement filled with shoe goodies.

The First Prize winner will receive six pairs of Footprints International Shoes, plus a gift arrangement; and Second Prize winner will receive three pairs of shoes, plus a gift arrangement. All pairs of shoes are at a value of up to $50.00 each. The Contest ends at 11:59:59 P.M. PT on March 31, 2008. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.

To enter, visit our website at Please indicate her name (Jacqueline) at the end of your entry. As our special gift to you, for entering our contest, you will receive a 20% discount on your next purchase from Footprints International. See complete rules for this contest at

For more information about Footprints International, stop by Jacqueline’s blog, Give a Shoe Party. Good luck to all who enter!

Footprints International has extended the contest deadline to April 16th. Winners will still be announced on May 1st.

Ask Allie: Personal Style with a Health Condition

I have multiple health conditions which make dressing nicely difficult. The two hardest are that 1. I can’t wear pants (or tights!) of any type and 2. I can only wear a few “comfort” shoes. Mainly Algeria Palomas. I can get by with some cute Merrell flats or Uggs for a very short time, if I’m not going to be on my feet much. That’s literally it for footwear. I am also a true plus size – size 20, and have trouble fastening very small buttons. So I tend to default to this skirt (because I freeze a LOT, my skirts are almost all this long), a tee or sweater, and my Palomas or Uggs depending on snow or not. Oh, and a cane. I desperately want to look more stylish but have no idea HOW with my limitations!

Style doesn’t come from being able to wear a certain silhouette, brand, or garment. Style comes from creating a look that works with your lifestyle and your personality. When I read your email I thought of my friend Amethyst who I featured in my True Fashionista series. She has foot issues and prefers long skirts and comfortable, flowing fabrics but she has a very defined personal style and aesthetic. Her style may not be for you, but she shows how you can create style no matter your personal situation.

While I regularly mention statement shoes and how a certain silhouette, heel height, or color can complete a look, I don’t believe a woman HAS to have a certain shoe to be stylish. As I wrote in this post, “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.” A couple ways to create personal style:

Focus on Accessories

Many style icons are known for keeping their outfits simple, and showing their style through the details. Choosing a wardrobe of simple basics, and then incorporating great accessories is a way to make your specific sartorial needs create personal style.

fern mallisWhen considering this concept I thought of Fern Mallis, the creator of New York Fashion Week and for a decade, Executive Director of CDFA. Her actual wardrobe is pretty simple and sticks to the same shapes and silhouettes, but her personality comes with her choice of accessories and her signature glasses.

Style Tips with a Health Condition - achieving personal style when health issues require certain fashion and footwear
Shop the Looks: Red Sweater | Denim Skirt | Necklace | Red Shoes | Black Turtleneck | Black Skirt | Silver Skinny Scarf | Silver Cuff | Black Shoes | Gold Sweater | Denim Skirt | Chain Necklace | Bangle Bracelets | Sparkly Shoes

With these three looks I kept the wardrobe simple – sweaters and knits with long skirts but they create a stylish impact thanks to the use of accessories. I think the Algeria Palomas are great shoes because they do come in so many different colors, textures, and patterns so you can incorporate your personality into shoes that are good to your feet. Why not make them part of your signature style? Each look has a different pair of statement Palomas and I used them to create the color story and choose accessories to finish the look. As you see, you’re not stuck to one style or concept because of your shoes. Whether they’re pointed toe stilettos or comfort shoes, they can still make a fabulous statement and define your style. This is a great way to try different styles and find what feels you.

Create a Signature

Once you know what style/s fit your soul, you can create a signature style. A funky haircut, a wardrobe of amazing scarves, cool necklaces you buy from local artisans, a wrist of bangles, eye-catching glasses… all of these are examples.

lynn dellWhen considering this concept I thought of the late Lynn Dell, who was a boutique owner and seen on the blog and in the documentary Advanced Style. Dell had a very signature style, but it was created with her amazing choice in accessories. Hats, scarves, jewelry, and on-point lipstick gave an effect of glamour and sophistication while still remaining comfortable in soft knits and relatively sensible shoes.

Have Fun with Fabrics

Awesome prints and textiles aren’t just for the slim and trim. Whether you’re wrapped in black jersey or a floral jacquard, you will have the same body. If you’re comfortable with it, have fun with amazing textiles that are still easy to wear, warm, and work with your health situation.

suzy menkesWhen considering this concept I thought of journalist and fashion critic Suzy Menkes. Well respected in the fashion arena, Menkes is regularly seen in jackets, scarves and tops in beautiful prints, luxe fabrics with sheen, and embroidery, styled with simple dark colored knit separates (and her signature hairstyle!) . She exudes personal style without needing to adopt the runway trends she reviews.

All three of these style icons may not be your shape, your age, or your style.  They are just examples of women who have not sacrificed comfort or health to achieve style.  Your style may be more youthful, less colorful, more simplistic, more elaborate… it’s not about recreating or replicating but gleaning inspiration.

Personal Style is For Everyone

Personal style isn’t just for the thin, the rich, the young, the healthy, the mainstream. It may not be as easy but it is possible for all of us. One woman’s style is not the same as another. We are all snowflakes, whether it is our body type, our lifestyle, our specific needs, or what makes our soul sing. Whether we have a studio apartment or a palatial estate, we figure out how to make that house our home. Your body is your home, and it deserves to be styled in a way that celebrates its beauty while keeping it comfortable and safe. I hope this post can get your creative juices flowing. I wish you much success and joy as you embark on your style journey!

Plus Sized Work Attire Options

Dear Allie:
I am getting back into the workforce after five years as a SAHM. I’m really excited, but am having a hard time finding nice work clothes. I am a size 18, 5’5” and an apple and all I seem to find are lowcut dresses and polyester pants. Do you know where I can find suits and work clothes like dresses and blouses for my size?
Why are all plus sized suits made out of polyester? Where can I find a suit that is equal in quality and price to J. Crew but goes above a size 16?
I was recently promoted and my new position requires me to travel on business several times a month. For such trips, I will need to wear a suit while at the office I can usually get away with casual pants or even nice jeans. While I have a great wardrobe of business casual pieces, it is proving difficult to find more corporate of attire for my size (I vary between a 20 and 22). Do you know of any retailers who specialize in suiting and corporate attire for plus-sized women?
Hi Allie, I need to improve my look at work. We’re allowed to wear anything we want but I don’t want to look like a slob any more and think if I look good I may be more likely to get a raise or promotion. I’m 5’7”, a size 20 with a large bust and don’t even know where to start looking for nicer work clothes. HELP!

I am not sure why the world thinks women over a size 12 don’t hold professional jobs. They must think that with the poor selection of career wear for plus-sized women. While quality suits and stylish business casual clothing does exist, it’s hard to find. Below I feature some brands who realize that just because you wear a larger size doesn’t mean you wish to sacrifice style, quality, or professionalism.

If you’re plus sized, I’m sure you already know about Lane Bryant, Avenue, Ashley Stewart, One Stop Plus/Woman Within/Roamans/Jessica London, and other retailers who specialize in plus size fashion. Below are some suggestions on brands I know who aren’t the typical shops, and who provide quality, well-crafted and stylish career wear in plus sizes

I know, I know, Nordstrom again? Thing is, they offer a great selection of quality brands and style for plus sizes. MICHAEL Michael Kors, Rachel Palley, Calvin Klein, Karen Kane, Eileen Fisher, Tahari Woman, Vince Camuto, Kenneth Cole… all these brands and more are offered in plus sizes at Nordstrom stores and online.

Unlike many other department stores who think a woman in a size 22 dress wants a muumuu or a flowing polyester pantsuit, Nordstrom buyers find brands and pieces that are in the same vein of style as the rest of the store. Great colors, fun silhouettes, lots of options. Nordstrom has free shipping and free returns, will perform alterations onsite, and have personal shoppers that can help you secure a professional wardrobe for your job.

Macy’s is another department store who offers a fantastic selection of brands and styles for plus sizes. Alfani, Calvin Klein, Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Jones New York, and then their in-house brand INC International Concepts are great resources for great plus size office wear. Like Nordstrom, Macy’s provides a good amount of real estate in most of their stores for plus-sized fashion.

Macy’s always has promotions for discounts and shipping deals. Macy’s has a great return and exchange policy, where you can return by mail or at any nearby store.

Talbots Woman comes in sizes 12-24 regular and 12-22 petite. Each season they offer several styles of suit separates so you can mix and match for the perfect career look. Talbots also specializes in business casual looks, with tailored trousers, well-crafted skirts, polished knits and sweaters and even shoes and accessories.

While many retailers hide their plus size department in a dusty corner or keep it only online, Talbots often has separate stores just for their Woman line, or else it gets plenty of real estate in their mixed-size store. Talbots is phenomenal with customer service, seeking out sizes at other locations, taking returns in-store, and giving you honest feedback and offering suggestions at the fitting room. When I was a size 18, Talbots was my go-to store, where I knew I would find quality, style, and a supportive staff.

Jones New York
While Jones New York is a department store staple, they also have their own online boutique that has a large selection of career wear in extended sizes. Since you have to return by mail (they offer a pre-paid shipping label), it’s good to try out JNY in a store to know how it fits, and then go online to find a larger selection.

Kiyonna knows how to dress a woman. They make well-made pieces that are stylish and flattering to a plus-sized figure. No muumuus and garish prints here, Kiyonna offers beautiful dresses, and also a beautiful selection of separates. While their bottoms are very basic, they are well-made and classic. Some of their tops can run on the sexy side, but many are great pieces for business casual environments or fabulous shells under suits. Their return policy is pretty standard but I hear their sizing is quite consistent so once you know how you fit in Kiyonna you won’t have to make as many returns and exchanges.

Ann Taylor
If you enter an Ann Taylor store, you may think they don’t care about anyone over a size 12. However online they go up to size 18 and XXL on the majority of their pieces. I also find Ann Taylor runs a bit large and many of my readers have agreed that their size 18 can often fit a size 20 woman.

Ann Taylor regularly has promotions for free shipping and percentages off select items – it’s smart to sign up for their emails or follow them on Facebook or Twitter so you stay updated. Their online selection can sell out pretty quickly when they have such sales, so shop early. While Ann Taylor doesn’t offer free returns, they do accept returns even of larger sizes in any store. And if you have to do a return, check out their sale rack where I have regularly seen larger sizes from other women who have made returns.

Lands’ End
Lands’ End may not be the retailer you would think for career wear, but they do have a pretty great selection of workwear staples. While their summer selection is more geared towards shorts and dresses, they always have a good selection of blazers and coordinating bottoms and come the cooler months have an even greater selection of suiting and work-appropriate pieces.

Lands’ End often has promotions for discounts and free shipping so sign up for their emails to get the latest news. Lands’ End also accepts returns at Sears stores which makes shopping with them even more convenient.

Eddie Bauer
Like Lands’ End, Eddie Bauer mainly focuses on casual weekend fashion. However, like Lands’ End they have a few stand-out pieces each season for career wear. Eddie Bauer often focuses on easy-care pieces, and you’re likely to find wrinkle-free suiting, no-iron button-front shirts, and machine washable trousers and dresses. Eddie Bauer offers free exchanges and accepts returns by mail (they will provide a pre-paid shipping label or you can send by your own method) or in store.

I’m quick to head to Overstock to find a toaster oven or an area rug, but I have now learned to go to this site for fashion. Popular brands like Tahari, Kasper, Calvin Klein, and Ann Klein are featured by Overstock, and at nicer prices than at the department store. While some of the styles offered on Overstock are a bit strange, you can also find some gems – often pieces being sold right now at your nearby Belk or Macy’s. Overstock has customer reviews, ridiculously cheap shipping, and a reasonable return policy.

TJ Maxx
While most of my local discount big box retailers will have some plus size fashion, it’s usually a small section, messy, and full of strange pieces I wouldn’t be caught dead in. Not so for TJ Maxx, who usually carries higher-end brands than similar stores, and they usually have a larger and better organized plus size department.

Where do you find stylish and well-made plus size career wear? I’d love to know your suggestions!

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Trying Le Tote: My Experience with the Clothing and Accessory Rental Company

You all know my love for Gwynnie Bee, but many of you have asked if there is a similar program for those who are smaller than a size 10. Le Tote is also a clothing rental company, but with a different concept.

A review of Le Tote by Wardrobe Oxygen. Opinion as a size 14 and discussion on whether the clothing is a good fit for women over 35.Le Tote helps you curate a box of not just clothing but accessories. For a $49 monthly fee, you receive a box with three garments and two accessories. You can keep items as long as you wish, and anything you love you can keep forever and Le Tote will charge your card. Send items back, and get news ones – you have unlimited Totes for your subscription fee. If you love and choose to keep everything in your shipment you get a free month of Le Tote. Le Tote wants you to love what you receive; you fill out a style profile upon joining, you can customized your delivery and know exactly what you will receive, and Le Tote has stylists on staff to help choose the perfect items for you and your personal style.  Not only that, when you go to the page for a certain item, you can see photos from other Le Tote members wearing the piece, helping you decide if it’s a good choice for your figure.

I received the opportunity to try out Le Tote free for one month. When you join, you will fill out a survey about your size and style and from that certain items will be suggested. However, you can look at all items available and add anything you desire to your virtual closet. Unlike Gwynnie Bee, you can choose exactly what items will arrive in your next shipment – this is great if you’re planning around an event or travel. Like Gwynnie Bee, shipping is free and return packaging and shipping label is included. While it’s called Le Tote, my items arrived in a sturdy Le Tote branded box, wrapped in tissue. Le Tote is big on communication – you’ll receive emails and texts when your next tote is ready to customize, when it ships, and more. You have the ability to control what kind of communication you receive.

le tote review

A few of the Fall 2015 New Arrivals at Le Tote

Le Tote features popular department store brands like Vince Camuto, Max Studio, French Connection, and BCBGeneration and some lesser-known brands that I have seen at TJ Maxx and Marshall’s. While Le Tote offers clothing up to an XL or 16, pickings get slim when you go larger than an L or 10. While the majority of the vibe of Le Tote is relaxed simple fashion, they do offer a few cute dresses or jumpsuits for a night out, and lots of separates that would be office appropriate.

I tried out LeTote at the end of August and had a very hard time finding anything I wanted in my first collection. The accessories weren’t my style – very delicate, simple, a bit too trendy, and as a 40 year old professional, a bit too young and cheap looking for my taste. The clothing felt very… basic. One thing I love about Gwynnie Bee is that it often forces me out of my comfort zone and introduces me to new brands, silhouettes, and prints. Le Tote is simple clothing, which could be amazing for one who doesn’t like or have the time for shopping or really isn’t into fashion but felt too simplistic for me. I ended up going with a black and white striped knit tee shirt inspired dress, a spaghetti-strap midi dress, a blazer, a delicate necklace with a pave circle, and a pair of ear jackets.

Everything fit like Juniors. The black and white dress was a nice heavy weight and well constructed, but so short it hardly covered my bum. The midi dress was a gorgeous teal color and one of those convertible pieces that has a smocked bodice that can be worn with the adjustable straps, styled strapless, or slid down and turned into a maxi skirt. It was fine, but it really felt like something I’d see on the rack at TJ Maxx for $19.99 in 50 different colors. The jacket was very tight in the arms and shoulder, unlined, and just looked and felt cheap. The same with the accessories; the necklace was pretty but looked like it was from Claire’s Boutique and the earrings were a weird overly yellow shiny gold that just looked too cheap for me. The only piece I wore was the teal midi dress, and it was because I was going to be outside volunteering at a fair and knew it would be hot out. It was perfect for such a situation, but not awesome enough to keep or even wear a second time.

I hate to dismiss Le Tote because it truly could be a great option for some. If you are a size 10 or smaller, if you’re not terribly tall or petite, if you’re under 35 and you’re looking for a reasonably priced way to add a bit of variety to your wardrobe without looking too trendy or outlandish, Le Tote could be a great option. The price is also pretty great – it’s easy to spend this much on a sweater or casual dress that only gets worn a handful of times; with Le Tote you get three garments for the price of less than one plus two accessories to complete the look.  And like Netflix, send back and get another one right away.  Le Tote could prove to be a great way to shop and build a wardrobe as the company will adjust recommendations based upon your reviews and what you choose to keep. Just don’t expect to find any garments that will stop people in their tracks, transform your personal style, or find a ton appropriate for weddings and more formal social occasions. Their fall collection looks more promising and stylish than their summer selections, if you did want to try such a service this looks to be a good season to do so.

If you’re interested in trying out Le Tote, use code LTWO20 and receive 20% off your first month’s subscription.  Code expires October 31, 2015.

Have you used Le Tote? What are your thoughts on the clothing and accessories rental service?  Do you think it’s worth it for me to try it again?

Ask Allie – How to Accessorize a Sheath Dress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday’s Tip – Making the Clearance Rack Your Friend

When I go into a store, the first place I look is the clearance or sale rack. I don’t want to be tempted by full priced items when a good equivalent is available at half the price in the back of the store. Even when planning my wedding I first scored sample sales and discount bridal shops before even looking at a single full-priced gown. It is better to buy quality instead of quantity, but just because it’s on a sale rack does not mean it’s poor quality or lacking style or fashion.

Take Your Time
Clearance racks are a mess. Why waste good salespeople hours in cleaning up the back of the store when the real money making is in the front displays of new product? Because of this, do not limit your search to the section designated with your size. Take the time to flip through all the racks. You may find a size 10 amongst the size 2s or a great size Small blouse hidden amongst size 14 blazers. Grab everything that even remotely appeals to you, and a few things you would not usually consider. The best way to spend money on trendy pieces and unusual finds is to pay for them at a discount – less buyer’s remorse.

Sizes Can Be Deceiving
Sometimes items are on sale racks because they are missized. I have tried on size 6 jackets that are too big for me and size 14s that are skin tight. Don’t just look at the label – pull the item from the rack and see if it may possibly fit. Often the missized items are at a super reduced price because they are being looked over.

Consider a Tailor
I decided to write this post because of my clearance rack prize of yesterday. Sueded cotton trench, hip cut, gorgeous color, originally $179 on sale for $29.99. No obvious flaws but the coat was too large for me – I am petite and it is not. It is an XL and a generous cut, I am not. I bought the awesome bargain after trying it on and seeing that the shoulders were fitting decently, though the sleeves were past my fingers, the waist was too big and the length too long. I took it to my local dry cleaner and for $35 she is shortening the arms and hem and nipping in the waist. So for $65 I got a $179 jacket that is perfect for the upcoming fall.

Sleeves that are too long, hems dragging on the ground, gaping waists and baggy jackets can all be easily fixed by a neighborhood tailor or dry cleaner. They can also replace missing buttons, broken zippers and some torn seams. If the price is right, often the tailoring still keeps the garment at a discounted price. I have bought suiting pants 75% off just because the zipper is broken, a suede blazer at 80% off because the lining had pulled away from the jacket body.

Do not invest in garments that are stained (salespeople usually try to remove the stains with a cleaning fluid, if it’s still stained it probably won’t come out in the wash or at the cleaners), torn (resewing a seam may make the item fit differently), irregular (remember quality is key – no one should be wearing a sweater with two different sleeve lengths) overly large (tailor costs will be insane and the true look of the garment will be lost) or too small (don’t buy for the body you hope to have, buy for the current you. Also tailors can’t make things larger – there’s usually not enough fabric at the seams and if they attempt the fit of the garment will be compromised).

If You Don’t Love It…
Don’t buy it. Would you buy it if it were full price? If the answer is a quick “no” leave the item in the fitting room. Just because an item is cheap does not mean you can scrimp on cut, style or fit. A 50% markdown does not justify a gaping armhole, an unflattering color or even a staple that you really have enough of already. The world sees you and your outfit, not the reduced price. They don’t know if what you bought cost $200 or $20, they just know it doesn’t look good, doesn’t flatter your body or your personality. Every dollar in your wallet is precious, don’t waste it on crap. If you can’t imagine the item with at least two other things in your closet, it’s not worth your time or money.

The Return of the Pant

Thank you, Fashion Gods, for shining down on us so brightly this season. After seasons and seasons, years and years of jeans being the wardrobe staple, pants have come back as a wardrobe must-have. Slim fit, wide leg, men’s style, cropped, long, even Bermuda shorts are all over the runways, in the magazines and on the racks at the local mall. I couldn’t be happier, and you should be too.

But why, you ask. Jeans are great – they are comfortable, they are easy and with the way fashion has been of late, they can go from Wal-Mart to work to an upscale night club all with the change of shoes and bag. Well, that is true if you have a model’s body and a celebrity’s budget. But for the rest of America, the jeans look has not been pretty.

Jeans are NOT comfortable. How can a stiff, stitched double layer of heavy cotton punched with metal buttons and closures feel good on your belly while you sit? How many gyrations, squats and shakes do you do every morning to get your jeans over your thighs, hips and rear? Those who do not partake in The Denim Dance – do you have a full-length mirror and a hand mirror? Take a look at your rear view – how saggy is the denim below the pockets? Are the pockets even located on your bum any more? Jeans that look hip and fashionable are rarely comfortable, and those that are comfortable are far from flattering.

Denim does have it’s perks – it hides stains, it’s heavy so it hides cellulite and other body sins, it doesn’t wrinkle and goes with most colors. However, walk through your local mall or sports arena – you will see that most women just do not look good in their jeans. They are the wrong color, wrong length, wrong cut, wrong fit, wrong brand. Unlike a pair of black trousers, you cannot get away with cheap jeans looking expensive. We are fully aware that those jeans are not designer, even with the gaudy Bedazzling on your rear. Like a designer purse, the money is in the details. You cannot find those details in a pair of LEI’s, Mudds or Arizona jeans, try as you might.

SO keep your jeans for weekends and return to the trouser for other aspects of your life – your body will thank you.

Pants are elegant. This season they are shown in a multitude of styles, so there truly is a cut for every body type. The lighter weight fabric and lining glides over the body like an expensive silk slip. Rolls and bumps become feminine curves in trousers. Legs are lengthened, bellies are minimized, and your old twinset is revitalized.

The most universally flattering style is a flat front, straight leg. The pants should skim, not hug your curves. A tab waist is very comfortable and minimizes a belly. I recommend staying away from slash front pockets – they bow out on most feminine shapes and ruin the line of the pants. For back pockets, coin or flap ones are good at hiding the rear, lack of pockets makes a rear look more shapely. Stay away from patch pockets – they cheapen the look of the pants.

Think Katherine Hepburn, Rita Hayworth. Would you ever see these women schlepping around in jeans? Pants made them elegant, feminine yet strong. Pants defined their look and people covet that look decades later. A well fitting pair of pants will make everything in your wardrobe look upscale. A pair of white pants with a fitted tee in a jewel tone and some strappy heels looks appropriate for lunch. Take that same tee with jeans, and you look dressed to wash your car. A white shirt with jeans can often look hokey, but a white shirt with black trousers and a necklace looks elegant, crisp and classic. Your cozy black turtleneck with jeans is homey and basic; your cozy black turtleneck with cream cuffed trousers is chic and perfect for work.

Switching from jeans to pants will suddenly make you look five pounds slimmer. Denim may hide a multitude of sins, but it also adds a thick layer to what you already carry on your frame. Rears look larger under patch pockets, wasitlines look thicker, hipps look wider. In a pair of men’s style trousers with a lining, suddenly dumpy looks zaftig, bumpy looks feminine, and curves are apprecieated for their feminine beauty. Like jeans, you are still able to cover up all that you wish to hide from the light of day, but unlike jeans, you are able to celebrate the rest of you.

The Pants to Buy for This Season (and for the rest of your life):

White Trousers – Just below the belly button, flat front, minimal back pocket, preferably no front pockets. A clean line, straight, possibly wider at the bottom. Preferably no cuff – it will make the trousers more classic. These pants should be lined and of a heavy fabric – cotton, twill, sateen. Look for a fabric with a hint of lycra – this will prevent wrinkles. You want a crisp look – a crease down the front of the leg will elongate. Put your hand in the pants and hold them up to the light – if you can see your hand, put the pants back on the rack. You should not be able to see your underwear, the seams of the lining, anything but crisp, clean white. The length should be long – they should all but cover the heel of your average height of shoe. Once you find these perfect pants, buy a second pair if possible. Somehow the days you wear white pants your kids will do finger-painting in daycare. Also, follow the washing instructions to the letter – sometimes bleach yellows fabrics and dry cleaning can make it gray.

What to wear them with: Blazer and shells or twinsets for work, fitted tees for weekends, optic-print or jewel toned halters and tanks for play. Peep-toes, heeled sandals, wedges, thongs and even retro sneakers look great with white trousers. White lets you be creative with your footwear – pair a black button-down shirt with white pants and coral snakeskin pumps or gold strappy wedges.

Chinos – Not your everyday Dockers, these chinos are hip, flattering and can go from work to picnic. Same as the white trousers, you want a slightly lower rise, a straight or fuller leg, minimal pockets. The best colors are traditional khaki or stone. Anything darker or lighter will not transfer from year to year as easily. Again, the length should be long – almost skimming the ground in flat shoes, and covering most of the heel in higher footwear.

What to wear them with: Chinos are the Skipper if white trousers are Barbie. They look great with a shell and blazer too, but the blazer would be of a more casual fabric like twill or denim. Instead of silk halters, pair chinos with a tube or tank top in jersey or cotton. Chinos are the more spunky and casual relative to your white lined trousers. They will take up many of the roles that your jeans had, but will look far more flattering and chic.

Neutral Cropped Pants – These are not the skin-tight pedal pushers of a few seasons ago, nor are these the pleated baggy capris in the J. Jill catalog. The cropped pant this season is straight, crisp, not tight but not baggy. There are many styles in the store, but unless you have a perfect figure, I recommend investing in a pair with tab front or jeans-style closure, only coin pockets in the front, any pockets in the back, hit at calf-length, skim the hips and then fall straight down. A sturdy fabric like chino or stretch twill will get you the most mileage. Black is a great color that will dress up or down, but olive green is a popular neutral this season that really makes bright colors pop (and gives you more versatility in what color shoes to wear).

What to wear them with: Again, they can be dressed up for work with a blazer, twinset or a button-down shirt. They can be made casual with a tank or tee in a bright color. For play, pair the pants with a baby-doll style strapless top or a classic halter in jersey, or get bold with a beaded chiffon camisole. Cropped pants look great with anything from ballet flats to leather thongs to the stacked wood sandals this season to gladiator sandals. Keep it clean, crisp and classic to make the cropped pants look less Soccer mom and more Fashion Plate.

Black Pants – This should be a year-round staple. You want a seasonless fabric like gabardine, crepe or triacetate. The pants should be lined so they fall gracefully from your curves. No pleats, slash pockets or adornments – these pants need to be basic, elegant and timeless. Like the white pants, you want these to be long – they should all but cover the heel of your average height of shoe.

What to wear them with: Gosh darned everything in your wardrobe! A crisp white oxford, a candy colored blazer with a shell, a twinset, a silk knit tee in your favorite color, a black and white optic-print tank, a matching blazer for a classic suit, any sweater or knit. As for shoes, you can go from classic black pumps to snakeskin mules to strappy gold heels. Like white pants, these trousers will showcase your footwear, but unlike white trousers, you can let your outfit shine with a pair of classic black shoes to blend in with the bottom half.

Some Trouser Don’ts
Even though you love your white pants, that does not mean you should go out and buy a pair of white shoes. White shoes are to be left to nurses and the very skilled and trained fashionistas. If you are like most of America, step away from the white leather sandals and head toward an unexpected neutral like silver or bronze.

Don’t treat your trousers the way you treated your jeans. If the label says to dry clean, I recommend that you do. They may go through a spin in the washer with Woolite just fine the first time, but too many cleanings like this will disintegrate the seams and lining, remove the crisp creases and make the entire pant misshapen. I have also washed a pair of pants and ended up with the pant shorter than the lining – not a stylish look. With quick and cheap dry cleaners on almost every street corner, leave the cleaning to the pros (though you can spot clean with Shout Wipes and Dryel).

As with any garment, make sure the top compliments the bottom. Don’t wear a baggy top with full pants unless it’s Halloween and you are dressing up as the Michelin man. On the other side of the coin, do not pair slim pants with a fitted top – it is not stylish to look like a tramp.

Make sure you have the right length. One should not see your ankle bone unless the pants are purposely cropped. You should not be stepping on your pants either. That may have worked for jeans, but pants are made to look clean and crisp. If they are too long, take them to the cleaners or a tailor – they can hem them for a very reasonable price. Also look at the websites I have posted on the side – there are companies that specialize in petite, long AND fashionable clothing.

Don’t wear pleats, don’t wear faded clothing, don’t wear hems held up with safety pins or staples, don’t wear winter fabric in the spring (wool, tweed, velvet). Don’t have VPL (visible panty line – invest in some seamless, skin- colored undergarments). Don’t be afraid to go up a size for a good fit – unlike jeans, pants do not always “grow” throughout the day, and the seams are more delicate. If you are squeexing yourself into a 10 for vanity’s sake, try the 12 and just cut out the tag when you get home. As tailors can easily hem a pair of pants that are too long, they can take in a waistband that is too wide. Buy pants to fit your largest part and the rest can be let in. If you invest in good fabric, good cut and if necessary, good tailoring you will have trousers that you can wear year after year and always look smart and chic.

How to be a Stylish Woman in her Thirties

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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