I could have just called this post “A Few of my Favorite Things!” I’m such a sucker for plaid flannel shirts, it’s the college grunge Eddie Vedder obsessed gal inside still getting her sartorial moment in the sun. This skirt I’ve had for a few years now and love it; I’ll wear it now with bare legs and come winter I’ll wear it with tights as I did here last winter. These shoes… well if you’ve been reading for a while you know I’ve been rocking them (and replacement pairs) since 2010, first seen in this post. The bag is a new purchase I mentioned here and adore, and oversized Ray-Ban aviators have become my signature sunglasses (and Karl’s too, we share pairs!).
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When I was a baby, I had curly hair. As I got older and my hair got longer, I forgot that I had natural ringlets, and instead cursed my frizz. When I was in middle school, I took my waist-length hair to a salon, armed with the latest issue of Teen Magazine that featured Tiffani Amber-Theissen with a long layered style. I left with a dated flippy feathered look thanks to my natural curl and raced home to sob uncontrollably in my room. I soon cut it off into a bob, which stayed curly thanks to a lot of L.A. Looks gel.
I kept a variation of this look through most of high school (barring the time I chopped it all off to look like the lead singer of Roxette), the intensity of my curl dependent on what damage I did to my tresses with box dye and Sun-In. Since then, I have had stylists from time to time coax out the curl, but it never was actual ringlets without using crunchy crispy hair products or a hot tool. My hair is fine, but there’s a good amount of it. It can get weighed down easily, go frizzy easily, part in the middle and feather a la my middle school head quite easily. To get my hair curly took too much time, it was far easier to take a dryer and round brush to it.
Salon 46 in Alexandria, Virginia contacted me regarding their one-year anniversary. They were having a party to celebrate, and wanted to know if I would like to get a cut and color and attend their bash. Considering my last sponsored hair experience I was a bit hesitant. However, with some Googling and Yelping, I found Salon 46 received rave reviews and stylists who were expert in dealing with all forms of curly hair. I decided to take a chance and check out a popular salon in NoVA.
The plan was to have my hair done before the party, but my schedule has been so weird with the government shutdown, we couldn’t find a time that worked. Instead, I arrived early the day of the party and had them style my hair. My stylist was Bridgid, who from my online sleuthing I knew to be an expert with curly hair. Bridgid was so nice and down to earth, and as a fellow Curly Girl, she knew how to take my rainy-day Kip Winger frizz and turn it into big sexy curls for the evening fete. While being styled, I got a chance to know some of the other stylists and was thrilled to find them all so friendly, so open, so welcoming. This is not a salon of snobs. The salon itself is gorgeous, decorated in soft mint and coral in a clean and airy yet cozy manner. They offered me a glass of wine while I was styled, and after I made myself comfortable next to their fireplace and rested my feet on an adorable crocheted pouf.
The party was a blast, it was fun to meet so many of Salon 46’s loyal customers (all who had magnificent tresses) and get to know the staff better. We dined on yummy appetizers, they filled the hair washing stations with ice and beer, and offered a sangria bar with each one named after a hair color.
The next day, I returned to Salon 46 for my cut and color with Bridgid. We chatted the day prior about what I wanted, and I said I looked forward to re-finding my natural curl. The curls seem to work pretty well in the humid summer months, but when the air gets cold and dry my hair is rough frizz instead of ringlets. I also mentioned how I was thinking of adding some lighter tones to my hair which I thought may be more flattering to my 38-year old pale and dry skin. Other than that, I left it in her capable hands.
Bridgid took her time and clearly explained what she was doing and why, how she was styling it and what products she used. She cut off about an inch, and removed a lot of heaviness to let the curls spring up. She painted on highlights and used a demi color and glaze for even color and shine. She taught me how to twirl segments of damp hair with product, pinching the ends, and working in a zig-zag manner to coax out curl but not end up with a flattening obvious part. She dried my hair with a diffuser, but said the curls would be even better if I gave them time to air dry. When she finished, my head was a mass of springy, glossy curls. Curls I hadn’t seen before without curling irons and far more shiny and natural looking than anything I had before.
I told Bridgid I do like to still do my hair straight or wavy, so she cut to make it work no matter the texture. Since my visit to Salon 46, I have styled my own hair straight once, wavy, once, and curly twice and can do a pretty good job of replicating what she did thanks to her training. It’s fun to have curls in winter, something I don’t think I experienced since I was a baby.
I had an amazing experience at Salon 46, and know you would too. If you live in the DC/NoVA area, check them out online or on Facebook. They have plenty of parking in back and are Metro-accessible. Tell them Alison from Wardrobe Oxygen sent you, and if you’re a Curly Girl like me, be sure to ask for Bridgid!
Internet shopping can be sketchy. You may not receive what you ordered, it may be packed so clumsily that it arrives damaged… if at all. Quality doesn’t always match the photographs and return policies may make it more worth your while to stick with your defective purchase.
Much of this is because it’s very cheap for a company to start up online. No rent to pay, no utilities, no need for stock or employees even. The entire business can take place in a person’s dining room during the commercial breaks of an episode of grey’s Anatomy.
Sometimes… one can be blown away by a small internet company. It may be the quality, the prices, the variety, the service. In the case of Custom Glam Girl, I have to say it’s because of All Of The Above. This is probably why this company has been big enough to be featured in many magazines, TV shows and be sported by many celebrities (none of this I knew when I found the site).
My husband and I are friends with a dear couple; the husband is one of three sons and they all have the last name “Jones.” Growing up the brothers were always lumped together as “The Jones Boys” and when they grew up, they all went and got tattoos in Old English script that say, “Jones Boy” on their forearms. When I found out that our friends were pregnant with a boy, I knew I needed to get them some piece of baby clothing stating this on the front.
While trolling the internet, I found Custom Glam Girl. Unlike many of the other baby sites, this one didn’t just carry cutesy blue and pink frilly pieces with hearts. They had more rocker looking ideas, and that was more appropriate for this couple and their son-to-be. Though their site was extensive (and their site easy to navigate), I didn’t see exactly what I was looking for. I called their toll-free number and was immediately connected to a really peppy and friendly agent. I told her what I was looking for, Told her the style of font, the wording and how I wanted it placed on the onesie. She was patient with me and quite helpful and friendly. I placed the order late on April 6th, the agent told me that it would be about 1-2 weeks for processing and shipping. I feared I was cutting it very close for the shower on the 23rd, but kept my fingers crossed.
I had nothing to fear, the onesie came in on the 13th. It wasn’t cheap knit, it was well made, thick, and the screen-printing was solid and not likely to peel or fade after a couple of washings (check out the picture that I took after it arrived). Not only did it arrive in a heavy plastic shipping bag, it came with a legible packing slip AND a free gift! I received for free a silvertone necklace with a heart with wings and matching earrings.
This item arrived the same day that I got a package from American Apparel. Unlike Custom Glam Girl, American Apparel is a global company with stores as well as their internet shop. The items from American Apparel came thrown into a bag, the bag covered with writing via a Sharpie, the packing slip crumpled the bag looked as though it was sealed in the dark (all crooked and stuck upon itself and smooshed). The fabric of the onesie from Custom Glam Girl was better quality than the tees I got from American Apparel.
The onesie cost $19.95, which I felt was reasonable for the quality (higher quality than the one I got from Snapfish), and shipping was a standard $5.95. This company sells most anything you could get personalized, from tees and hoodies to engraveable flasks in a rainbow assortment of colors. I have bookmarked this site for future reference and think it’s a great place to get a fun and creative gift for someone!
I recently found out that I am going to have a baby girl. I was never a tomboy, but I was also never girly… pink makes me gag, and there was no lace on my wedding dress! I nearly never wear make-up and wash and wear my hair. Just based on my own personal taste, my daughter will not be wearing girly stuff by my own choice.But what if she is girly? How do I help her, from as early as possible, walk the fine line between feminine, modest (that’s super important to me), and positive about her body image? Do you think I need to be focusing on something like that as early as … gulp .. birth? If so, what can I do to help her?
I am a pretty girly girl. I like pink, love makeup, and while there was no lace on my wedding dress there were Swarvoski crystals and a little tiara in my hair. However, when I found that I was having a girl I was just as freaked out as you. For while I may be pretty “girly”, I didn’t want to have my daughter feel that she too had to be that way. I wanted to create an environment where she could be anyone she wanted to be, wear what she liked, and feel confident without having to fit into society’s silly expectations of what a girl should be like.
We painted her room a pale yellow, a color that would work for a boy or a girl. The majority of the clothes and even cloth diapers we bought were in gender neutral shades. We bought books and toys and equipment that would be appropriate to any baby regardless of gender. Heck, we even gave her a gender-neutral first name. As a baby, it was easy. I didn’t put bows on her head, I didn’t put her in frilly dresses, didn’t pierce her ears. But as she got older, it got a bit tougher for try as I might, Emerson became a girly girl.
However, it’s not the same girly that I am. She likes her hair short because she hates to brush it or wear elastics or barrettes in it, but she loves putting on crowns, hats, and headbands. She loves princesses and fairies even though I don’t encourage such books or movies. But like me, she has a passion for accessories, and is very definite about what she wears. She’s very confident, very sure of herself. She sings off-key at the top of her lungs, dances into corners of tables, and trips over her two feet on a daily basis, always laughing it off. She’s very affectionate, blowing kisses and hugging friends and acquaintances while I am more reserved and shy. She’s a neat freak – can’t stand sticky fingers or toys on her bedroom floor, while I have been a slob all my life. While she may be girly, she has a personality and interests completely different from mine.
My husband is the stay at home parent, and he is surely not girly. He keeps his hair short and washes it with a bar of soap, lives in cargo shorts and band tee shirts, and is most comfortable out in nature on a bike or hiking in the woods. He doesn’t know what a color wheel is, hates the color pink, and before Emerson didn’t know a single name of a Disney princess. And like me, he finds her to be a completely different person with completely different interests from him.
Your child, whether she loves pink or hates it, will be her own unique person with her own unique interests. While she may learn from you, she will also figure out things on her own, be it from who she was before she came into this world, or through experiences in society. While you may have some influence on her interests, she will still be completely herself. And through her growth and development as an individual, you will find yourself learning from her – it is amazing how wise a toddler can be, and what you can learn about yourself by looking into your baby’s eyes.
While I let Emerson fly her sartorial flag and have made her tutus and crowns, I still want her to be a child, not a young woman. I don’t let her wear clothing with logos or messages, don’t let her wear makeup, and teach her that her body is something to be treasured and belongs to her. She is not a diva, she is not a princess, she is a toddler. I am a feminist and want to raise my daughter believing that she deserves to be treated as a human being, and shouldn’t have to act a certain way or not be able to do certain things because of her gender. While I buy her dresses and skirts, I believe I do it in a way that lets her be a little kid, and as she gets older will teach her that she can hone her personal style and embrace her femininity while remaining modest. My mother raised my sister and me to wear what we wanted and believe what we wished, we still understood modesty and dressing to respect the wonderful body we had been given – I hope I am doing the same with Emerson. I never speak badly about my body around her, never discuss weight or the appearance of others. We as parents tell her that who she is and what she does is what makes her and other people beautiful and at least at this point, she believes it, and believes in herself.
Do what feels right to you as a parent, and it will be what is best for your daughter. Give her the space to find herself yet educate her on what you know, and whether she’s fascinated by astronomy, insects, swimming, drawing, frogs or fairy princesses, she will let you know and guide you in the process.
And the biggest surprise to me as a parent? A lot of this is already inside you and doesn’t appear until you have a little soul to care for and raise. I have said before that when I gave birth to Emerson I also delivered “Service Pack B” to figure out how to deal with a baby. Before Emerson, I feared babies, never changed a diaper and only held one or two (usually after being teased by a friend who was a mother). When pregnant, I feared I would never figure it out, but hours after she was born I was changing her diaper like a pro and holding her in a way that I knew was secure and comforting. As caring for an infant came pretty naturally to me and my husband, so did understanding her as an individual. And I know that “Service Pack B” will come to you as well and you will be a fantastic mother. Worrying about this now shows that you truly care about your child being her own person, and that in my opinion is one of the most important aspects of being a great parent.
Note: I know this is a pretty personal subject and not necessarily fashion related, but it is one that has been asked by my readers more than once. For that reason I decided to make this a post and not just a personal reply. I do not claim to be the best parent in the world and one should not consider my word gospel – it’s just my experience as a parent, and I hope it can help other parents out there.
Dress sharply and they’ll remember the outfit; dress impeccably and they’ll remember the woman.
- Coco Chanel
The other day I was sitting on the subway across from an attractive woman. She was wearing a yellow sheath dress in a heavy textured/boucle weave – something I could see on a stylish professional woman like Michelle Obama. In her lap were two pristine Louis Vuitton bags – one purse and one tote. She was wearing a gold watch that looked expensive, a few gold rings, bracelets and a pair of gold hoops. On her feet were black patent leather Tory Burch flats (a popular commuter shoe in Washington DC).
Her outfit probably cost in the thousands… yet she looked cheap. Why?
It’s all in the details.
Her hair was not fresh – she had obvious roots and raggedy edges. She pulled it into a messy low ponytail with a cheap Goody elastic (you know the ones with the gold threads through them?). Her shoes were scuffed and looked as though the backs sometimes were stepped down on and they had their share of being stuffed into an overfull tote. Her nails were manicured, but a flat salmon pink color that neither flattered her skintone nor the current trends. Her blush was too red, her eyeliner too pronounced. Her dress was a twinge too tight – puckered slightly at the bust, caught the bottom curve of her bum. All these details combined with the first paragraph details took expensive and lovely pieces and made it all into a very ordinary and cheap looking ensemble.
So what can a woman do to look as though she is worth a million… whether she is or not?
I don’t understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little – if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that’s the day she has a date with destiny. And it’s best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.
- Coco Chanel
Who cares who made your purse if your skin or hair is a mess? The best investment is the body you have – no matter your dress, you will be wearing your hair, your face and your skin. Great skin doesn’t have to come from $200 bottles of potions and monthly spa treatments. Cut back on the sodas and spirits and add more water to your diet. Be sure to wash off your makeup before you go to bed. Don’t overwash your skin – your skin should never be tight after cleansing. Visit a dermatologist if you have skin concerns. Take the time that you use to peruse celebrity gossip Web sites and read up on cosmetic ingredients – irritation, acne and redness can often be due to an allergic reaction in a product you use.
As for your body, keep it exfoliated, keep it hydrated inside and out, and love it no matter its shape. It is far easier to love the body you have if the skin is soft and happy. Again, see a dermatologist and read up on ingredients to be sure you are purchasing the right products.
Hair is the accessory you wear every single day – to work, to play, for formal events and trips to the market. Why is it that we will spend hundreds on jewelry, a pair of boots or a bag but will sacrifice our Crowning Glory to Great Clips and whatever box of Dark Golden Brown that was on sale at CVS? If your budget cannot afford professional color treatments, research brands that are gentle and natural looking. Invest in a highly-recommended conditioner. Take vacations from the heating tools so you aren’t fried. Reconsider that champagne blonde/cherry red/blue-black hue – a softer shade may be much more flattering, require less maintenance and look more rich.
If it’s a bad hair day – no need to hide under a hat (or Goody elastic). There are ways to work the tresses without screaming to the world that you had no time for a shampoo or roots touch-up. Dry shampoos are back en vogue and can be found at many specialty retailers and online beauty boutiques. Colored ones not only are less obvious on darker shades, but they also help hide roots. Thanks to Gossip Girl, even those over 21 can sport headbands and look chic. A skinny plastic one with teeth in black, blonde or tortoise can hold back too-short bangs and make a bit of slick look purposeful. A low ponytail right at the nape always looks chic – if you take a piece of your own hair from the bottom of the ponytail, you can wrap it around the elastic and secure it with one Bobby pin and make Goody look glam. Finally, make time for your hair – get off the computer, get away from the TV, wake up 15 minutes earlier. It is amazing how much more sunny your outlook is on life when you feel confident about your appearance.
Fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportions.
- Coco Chanel
Shoes make the man… and the woman. Shoes should be appropriate to the outfit first, then worry about quality, and brand name should be last on the list. The woman on the subway would have looked far more chic if she was wearing tan leather sandals. They could have been flat or with a slight chunky heel or wedge and been just as comfortable as the Tory Burch flats, but have coordinated with the outfit far better. We live in a society right now that is very caught up in brand names; often those brand name items don’t serve us much of a purpose. Flats are great with a flowy dress, a pair of capris, your favorite jeans. But if you have curves and are wearing a straight-fitting dress, flats will make you look as though you were cut off at the ankle bone.
Once you have your shoe collection, no matter the pricepoint you should take care of them. Get them reheeled and resoled at a local cobbler. Keep them in a place where they won’t get dusty or tripped over. Store them properly when out of season. I had a pair of black boots I bought at Payless five years ago and I just had to retire them a year ago. They had a chic narrow heel, an elongated toe, the pleather was soft and looked like a more expensive patent. They were less than $20 but looked perfect with certain trousers for nights out on the town. I babied them as much as I did my designer pumps, and in turn they gave me many years of great use (and compliments!).
I love luxury. And luxury lies not in richness and ornateness but in the absence of vulgarity. Vulgarity is the ugliest word in our language. I stay in the game to fight it.
- Coco Chanel
If cheap, go neutral. Yellow, green, and pink are hot colors this season, but if the item is of cheap quality it will look it far faster than the same piece in black, tan, beige or gray. Those black boots from Payless that I owned also came in racy red and navy. One may think that the red would be fun with black trousers or neutrals, but the red LOOKED as though they were $14.99 pleather boots from Payless, while the black just looked like boots. I have found many a great dress at Target, but the ones that survive to the next season are those in very neutral colors. Colors can easily fade, can easily look dated, and better show shoddy workmanship or lower-end fabric.
Fashion passes, style remains.
- Coco Chanel
Minimize the trends. The rich are stylish; those who WANT to be rich are trendy. Steer clear from obvious logos, extreme trends and anything that is worn by Paris, Lauren, Lindsay or Britney. You don’t want the look of the moment – the rich and stylish never adhere to extreme trends (and if they DO adopt a trend, they do it small or in a neutral hue). Buy a cardigan in the hot color of the season, switch up your lip product, consider a statement necklace or cool bracelet in the popular metal of the moment. There are ways to update your look without making yourself look like a fashion victim.
In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.
- Coco Chanel
In turn, those who always have the latest look get lost in the shuffle. Your expensive Tory Burch flats are yet another pair hopping onto the subway or into a cab. That monogram Coach purse is so popular, every lower-end designer is making a knockoff of it. Let’s not even get into Ugg boots… point is – trends are not stylish, and they do not make you look wealthy or successful.
Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.
- Coco Chanel
Accept your size, and your budget. Sample sale items that are a size too small, hot designer shoes on sale that are an inch taller than you feel comfortable wearing, oversized sweaters because you haven’t come to terms with your new shape (and gosh that sweater is cashmere!)… these are not items that make you look stylish or rich.
When accessorizing, always take off the last thing you put on.
- Coco Chanel
One less ring, one less chain, that cardigan around your shoulders, that anklet. The rich and stylish keep it simple. The woman on the subway would have been far more elegant if she had worn only that expensive watch, and not the five gold bracelets on the other wrist.
Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress.
- Coco Chanel
There is nothing more appealing than a vibrant woman. Are you sitting down reading this? Well pretend you have a string coming from the top of your head that is lifting you gently from the ground. Sit up – you are a phenomenal woman. Good posture improves the fit of your clothing, how you are perceived by others, and how you end up feeling. Every time you look at your reflection – find that one part of you that is unique and you love. Get off the computer and get into your community. Ask a neighbor or coworker for a book suggestion and try an author or genre you have never before experienced. Take five minutes every evening to think about your day – it may be in meditation, in prayer, with a journal or just as you doze off. Think about the positive things, how you impacted those around you, and how this world is different because of your interaction with it. Who cares what or who you are wearing if you aren’t an interesting, involved and positive woman!
Yesterday was a wonderful Christmas. We hosted for the first time; Karl made some sort of breakfast casserole, had fresh fruit and my mom made her awesome coffee cake. Emerson had so much fun and loved what Santa brought. For lunch, Karl made potato leek soup. We all then took naps, and then I went to see Les Misérables with my mom and sister.
Les Misérables received mediocre reviews and I can understand why (I read a review where they found the cinematography “pretentious” and I totally got that), but the teenager in me was in heaven. When I got my first CD player for Christmas in 12th grade, the first two CDs I got were the soundtracks for Cats and Les Miz. I have seen it performed several times and know all the songs by heart. I felt the casting was pretty fabulous (oh Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter made me so happy, even Anne Hathaway was wonderful) and as soon as I saw Enjolras on the big screen my inner teenager practically fainted in her seat. While I am a big Gossip Girl fan, the character of Trip didn’t do much for me. However, Aaron Tveit as Enjolras was perfection. I haven’t been to a movie in the theater in far too long… to have my return be for Les Misérables was perfection.
Who would have thought that Trip Van der Bilt would be the leader of a revolution?
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 chickdowntown.com, 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!
How to enter:
Send an email to email@example.com 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 chickdowntown.com. Sorry international readers, but the contest is only open to those in the United States.
Get to know chickdowntown.com:
Facebook (friend “shop chickdowntown” and/or become a fan of the chickdowntown page)
YouTube (chickdowntownTV.com or youtube.com/chickdowntowntv)
Yesterday was No Judgment Day, where we mothers should stop judging one another and support each other. I was honored that Redbook asked me to write a piece for No Judgment Day, and you should be seeing more pieces from me on Redbook’s site in the future. I encourage you to read some of the other posts on Mamarama, Redbook’s Mom Blog Council.
Yesterday I spoke at The PR News Media Relations Next Practices Forum. They had a panel of journalists and bloggers share what they wanted to receive from PR folks and those in PR were able to ask us questions. I must admit I was a bit nervous – this was the first time I did public speaking as a blogger that wasn’t about fashion and I was on a panel with some pretty impressive folks. But I think it went extremely well; I not only was able to share my experiences with getting pitches but I learned from my fellow panelists and those PR folks in the audience. And of course we need to talk about fashion! I wore this dress from Dobbin with this pendant, and these shoes from Boutique 9 (which are gorgeous but too high for wearing all day, just a little FYI. Will keep for nights out or days where I sit more at work).
I am down to m last pair of contacts and decided to get an eye exam and a new pair of glasses. Picking them up today, and the contacts won’t be ready for later so you may see a few outfit posts of me in google googles! I haven’t gotten a new pair of glasses since 2004 (seriously!) so it will be good to give my eyes a rest from contacts… and I think I’ll be having too much fun with this and getting another pair of frames or two in the next year!
I have really enjoyed being without a TV for the past week or so. We bought our TV a few years after we moved here and it has been very good to us but the fan died the day before Thanksgiving. Since then, we have entertained ourselves with the computer or iPhone and even Emerson has gotten used to it. Makes me wish I didn’t buy a TV on Black Friday (it will be delivered this coming week). I didn’t even miss Gossip Girl that much, and got much more reading and sleep as a result!
Off to take Emerson to ballet and run a few errands. If all goes well we may get our tree this weekend! What are your weekend plans?
Your challenge – until Memorial Day (we’re talking only 12 days, 10 if you exclude today and the 26th) be good to yourself and your fellow woman. What do I mean?
1. Accept that you are a woman, not a moving mannequin. Of COURSE you will have some softness, bumps and lumps in various places. Moaning over them, cursing them and tugging at them doesn’t make them disappear and just ruins your mood, which affect your appearance. Every time you are ready to scowl at your reflection, stop in your tracks and find something you are happy about. Fabulous pedicure? Feminine ankles? Stop-in-your-tracks lashes? Maybe you are starting to see results from your new gym membership, or are always told you have the most infectious smile. Those who have high self esteem are seen as being more attractive to others – for a week allow yourself to accept and heck… even LOVE yourself and see how reactions will change!
2. Go a week without the rags. Can you do it, a week without TMZ, Perez, InTouch and OK!? A week without guessing who’s cellulite is being pictured on the front of the Inquirer, and what It Girl was caught sans makeup (or panties) the day before. Why do we find such entertainment in finding fellow women not look their best? It doesn’t help our appearance, or our soul. You may find a week without the gossip sites and rags may actually make you feel better about yourself.
3. Before you judge, try to place yourself in her shoes. “Omigod, did you see what SHE WAS WEARING?” “That woman should NOT be wearing that with HER figure.” “What a fat-ass, her skin is disgusting, wow she looks so old for her age!” How many times have you caught yourself whispering something similar to your friend (or whispering it to yourself)? Often times, those we judge we judge unfairly. Possibly that woman has a medical condition, is pregnant, just gave birth, is going through a nasty divorce, is cramming for The Bar, had a death in the family, had her house burn down and is wearing donated clothes… gosh the reasons could be endless and extreme. Thing is, we are so harsh on our fellow woman without stopping to wonder WHY, or to offer assistance. Have an acquaintance who can’t style her way out of a paper bag? Instead of gossiping about her tapered chinos over mojitos with your friends, offer a makeover day with a shopping trip (or a shop in her closet day). See a stranger at the fitting room admiring her reflection while you know that dress does nothing for her hips? Instead of sneering or giggling, why not gently offer her your opinion and an alternative choice?
No woman WANTS to look unflattering, she usually doesn’t have a clue how to change her style or get out from under her personal woes. Try to get into her shoes and think, if you were she, what would you like to hear or what would you need at that moment? You never know when karma will come back and assist you during a time of need.
One week of being considerate and compassionate to your fellow woman, and to your self. Amazing how one week can totally change your outlook on life and alter your priorities. Start the summer off great by detoxing your mindset. I challenge all of you to try this and come back and let me know how it went!
Black cashmere tank from Banana Republic, black ponte jacket from Banana Republic Outlet, Chinese red shantung skirt from Banana Republic (definite theme here!), leopard peeptoe heels from BCBGirls, gold necklace from Express, gold bangles from Ralph Lauren.
Hair was washed and conditioned, dried with my Croc wet-to-dry iron. No products.’
Makeup is L’Oreal True Match concealer in W1-3, Benefit’s That Gal, philosophy The Supernatural in Beige, Nars blush in Orgasm, Revlon ColorStay shadow quad in Neutral Khakis – ivory over whole lid. Lashes curled, two coats Cover Girl Lash Blast and one of Imju Fiberwig. Maybelline Ultraliner in black on top lash line and on lips is some Revlon Shiny Sheers in a sheer red that I left at home by accident so do not have to read the label.
I am not really sure what is going on with the layout of my posts; I have not done anything different so it must be that Blogger is being stupid again.
This outfit is inspired by Catie’s contest at Cuffington. This outfit makes me fabulous inside… though notsomuch when I walk past my reflection in a window. I adore this skirt, it is so much fun and the color is awesome. The cashmere tank is really thick and I have had it for years and got it for like $10 on the clearance rack. Jacket has given me many miles and I love its versatility and the shoes… oh I love these shoes so much I have two pairs of them! All that is missing is my silver cuff, this great green ring I bought at a Ren Fest and my wedding tiara and I would be wearing almost all my favorite things! Too bad this skirt isn’t the most flattering (the one my husband says makes me look like Mimi from Drew Carey) or I would wear it every week!
I am so glad you realize that one can be an active mom while maintaining style. I recently wrote an article on Savings.com 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:
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.
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!
This weekend was pretty fun and event-packed! Saturday after my husband got back from teaching yoga, the three of us walked to the nearby elementary school for their Spring Fair.
I remember such fairs from my childhood – tossing ping pong balls into bowls to win goldfish, buying a new book from the Scholastic stand, getting my face painted. Saturday was supposed to be rainy so they moved their fair into the multipurpose room, but didn’t lose any of the fun. Emerson had a BLAST! She had a butterfly painted on her cheek, searched for hidden treasure in a sand pit, made a mask, got her nails painted, and yes… got two books from Scholastic (shocker, one was a Fancy Nancy!).
I didn’t get a picture of my outfit at home, but captured a MySpace-esque shot in the bathroom of the bar. This is a new dress from NY & Company (Solid Keyhole-Back Knit Dress – not sure why it’s called knit because the fabric isn’t very stretchy)- it has a pretty fun keyhole in the back, and curved shirttails and sleeve hems. Not uber-fabulous quality, but a simple style in a fabric that can work most months of the year.
The opening band was We Are Augustines, who I didn’t know before the night. They were a fun band to see, felt like a local band who just made it big and they were super excited to be playing at the 9:30 Club. Very heart-felt group of guys who really enjoyed performing for us.
I saw Band of Skulls at Bonnaroo this past summer, but it was at my least favorite tent and I couldn’t really see, just stood in mud in a sweaty crowd. However, they sounded great so when they came to DC I knew I wanted to see them and wanted to be sure to get up front to actually see the performance. We got there early enough to find a great spot on the floor surrounded by true fans. Band of Skulls was phenomenal – one of the best live shows I have seen in a long while. If you haven’t heard of Band of Skulls, you may be surprised that you know a few of their songs, thanks to them being featured in a Ford commercial, The Hangover movie trailer, and episodes of shows like True Blood and Gossip Girl. My husband and I can listen straight through Baby Darling Doll Face Honey over and over, and are starting to really dig their latest album, Sweet Sour. They are pretty classic rock, a bit of rockabilly and great harmonizing of their voices, I encourage you to check them out!
Sunday I planned on being very productive around the house, but when my sister asked if I wanted to go see The Hunger Games with her, I jumped at the chance. As you know, I loved the series of books, so I was excited to see how they adapted it for the movie. We were excited to find out my best friend and her husband had the same idea and were able to meet up with them at the theater. I didn’t think the movie was the best film of all time, but I found it enjoyable, true enough to the book, and my friend who hadn’t read the books said he still found the movie to be enjoyable.
We continued the movie theme that day – after Emerson’s nap we let her see Tangled and she loved it. Girl loves anything to do with fairies or princesses and Tangled kept her attention the entire time, lying on the floor eating popcorn. We have yet to take her to the theater to see a movie, but after last night, I think we’ll have to do it soon – she would LOVE the experience!
How was your weekend? What did you do?
I originally wrote my staples for a woman’s wardrobe almost a decade ago, and finally put it on a blog almost five years ago. I have been a size 4 and a size 16 and no matter my job or lifestyle, these staples were always essentials in my wardrobe. Knowing many women over the years – be they clients of mine when I was a stylist, friends or family – these simple items worked on virtually all of them, regardless of their age, their figure or their lifestyle.
Fashion experts will toss around catchphrases like “wardrobe classic,” “fashion essential” or “investment piece” all the time, but it rarely holds true. A white shirt may seem classic, but if you are one of the lucky few women who looks good in white and a button-up, you will find that either the cut of the collar will look dated or the cotton will yellow before a decade is through. Pencil skirts have been in style for decades but the actual silhouette of the skirt does change from season to season.
It also is hard to find a garment that not only stays stylish from year to year, but also flatters your ever changing figure. Just as you need to be refit for bras every year because your bustline changes, as does the rest of your body. You may have remained a perfect Size 6 since your senior year of high school, but with age, life events and activity, different parts of you will spread, will sag or will become more firm.
We may feel that we purchase classics, but five years later these simple pieces just may not seem as useful or flattering as they once did. I always suggest that people reassess their wardrobe each season – replace that which has not held up, donate that which is no longer flattering and fill any “holes” in your closet (need another pair of black pants, want to get a cardigan to update a dress, etc.).
Well it is time to reassess my original list of wardrobe essentials. As we head towards a new decade, what is still relevant and what needs to be updated for the times?
Here’s a recap of the list from 2005:
- Black Tailored Pantsuit in Seasonless Fabric
- Black Seasonless Trousers
- Dressy Jeans
- Black Heeled Boots
- Black Leather Pumps
- Not so Little Black Dress
- Silver Hoop Earrings
- Black or Grey Merino V-neck Sweater
- Trendy Skirt
- Trendy Jacket/Blazer
- Slim V-neck Sweater in Signature Color
- Signature Accessory
- Sparkly Evening Shell or Top
- The Perfect Tee – or Two
- Well-fitting Wool Winter Coat
- Great Fitting Bras
- Panty Line-free Underwear
- Pashmina or Wrap
- Clutch Purse
- Daily Purse
- Sexy Shoes that Can Be Worn for at Least Five Hours
1. Black Tailored Pantsuit in Seasonless Fabric. When I wrote this list, I found a black pantsuit essential, and had one in my closet at all times since my junior year of college. I may have worked retail, creative, corporate but always found a use for a black suit. I would pair it with a sparkly top for a cocktail party, was so relieved to know it was ready in my closet for an unexpected interview or client meeting. If I was visiting a house of worship or a daytime event, I knew the black suit would usually work with a silk blouse or fine knit shell. I would use the suit as separates.
I currently do not have a black suit in my wardrobe. I have been at my current job for two years and have only had ONE occasion where a suit could be useful, and I was able to wear a dress and closed-toed shoes and looked completely appropriate. When I speak to many women my age, they say that they do not own a suit. Many find suits to be stuffy, to be uncomfortable, to evoke images of lawyers and politicians.
The thing is… now that I do not own a suit, I find so many times when it would be useful and a perfect choice. That work situation – yes I looked appropriate in a black wrap dress and pumps, but a suit would have made me look more like a manager and less like a subordinate. The room was cold and it was a hot summer day – a suit would have been great – throw the suit over my arm as I walked to the conference, slip on the jacket when I feel the chill of the A/C. As for other situations, a black suit would have been great for my friends’ daytime wedding. They married outside in a garden and had the reception at an elegant restaurant. If I wore a sleeveless or short-sleeved blouse, I would have been comfortable at the outdoor portion, but nicely covered for the indoor reception. I had my daughter with me and placed her in a baby carrier. Wearing a baby with a dress isn’t the best look – the carrier hikes up the skirt, yanks open the neckline and armholes and a dress is never the best attire when crawling after an active baby. A suit would have given me just as much polish with more coverage and moveability. I will be speaking in front of an audience in November, and it’s not work related. I really could wear anything I desire, but a suit gives one the air of authority and competence and provides a bit of personal armor for a time when I will most likely be nervous. And the Le Smoking is not going out of fashion any time soon – a black suit with a silk camisole is always chic and always a great choice for that holiday gala, evening wedding or fancy date.
A black suit does not have to be dowdy, and I really discourage you from purchasing one that has too conservative, masculine or boxy of a shape. Single breasted, notch collar, a seasonless fabric with nice drape, a silhouette that skims your curves, a pant leg that can work with loafers or kitten heels. This will ensure such a suit can move from day to evening yet still look polished, classic, elegant.
2. Black Seasonless Trousers. I don’t think this needs to be explained. Many people are anti-black in a wardrobe and I respect that; however when you are new to building a wardrobe, black is a great neutral that can dress up, dress down, work with most any color, match shoes with ease and hide a multitude of sins (figure flaws or that dribble of salad dressing at lunch).
I must admit I haven’t shopped in an Express in years, but I do know such pants can be found in most every shop in your local mall. I recently acquired a great pair from New York and Company for a song, and have a pair I bought at Ann Taylor a few seasons ago that are still in heavy rotation in my wardrobe.
As for silhouette – no need to stick with bootcut, though this is still a cut that is flattering to those with curves and those who are petite. Straight cuts are also a great choice – you are looking for a flat front, a waistband that becomes invisible under knits, a leg opening that works with boots or with heels. The skinny trouser is currently all the rage and it is quite cute with the right top and figure, but it is not a wardrobe staple. You need a simple pair of black pants that will work for work, for play, for romance, for business and everything in between. A flat, straight or slightly bootcut trouser will be your best bet.
3 and 4. Jeans, Jeans, Jeans. When this was written, jeans were a top priority in any fashionable woman’s wardrobe and they would pay out the nose for them. No one blinked an eye when gossip rags would state that an It Girl paid upwards of $500 for a pair of dungarees. Brands like True Religion, Seven (now found at stores like Lane Bryant and Express), Paper Denim and Cloth and Hogan were brands as familiar as Marc Jacobs and Chloe. It was important to have a certain look to your jeans, no matter your budget.
Luckily the tides have changed and it is no longer expected to own jeans that cost as much as a month’s rent. Those It Girls are now often seen in classic Levi’s or distressed pairs from a vintage store. This doesn’t mean everyone should run out and purchase a pair of stovepipes or boyfriend jeans, but it means that there are more options out there than tacky, over-embellished knockoffs of chi chi brands.
The style is the same – keep them dark, keep them crisp, keep them free of adornment. The jeans-buying process can be more stressful and exhausting than the purchase of anything in your wardrobe. But if you keep at it and find denim nirvana, it is totally worth it. Great jeans can make you look taller, slimmer, firmer and more stylish.
5 and 6. Black Leather Shoes. Oh gosh, the emails I receive about shoes! How dare I encourage women to purchase heels, how dare I mention an animal-based product, why only black and why not brown?
First to all of you – I am not telling people how to dress. This site, and these posts are advice for those who desire it. I believe women should dress in a manner that makes them feel good and in clothes that garner them the respect and admiration that they deserve. If you feel that your current wardrobe achieves that, kudos to you. You may stop reading. For the rest…
Heels change a woman’s posture – it pulls back her shoulders, lifts her bottom, tightens her calves. It changes her walk and makes her look taller and leaner. Society sees heels as the female equivalent of a suit and tie – a wardrobe addition that may not necessarily be comfortable but adds a level of formality to attire. And a low heel is actually more comfortable and healthy for the foot than a flat.
Black is chosen because this wardrobe list is based off of black. Black can go from day to night and from season to season more easily than any other color of footwear. Black isn’t as hard to match with other blacks as say brown or tan. And leather is chosen because leather can be polished, repaired, dressed up or down. Leather lasts longer because it can breathe and can be maintained. If you are vegan or don’t believe in leather, there are great alternatives in faux leather and microfiber. However these alternatives are less likely to last in your wardrobe (they crack, stain, stretch out and stink) and they often aren’t as versatile.
The cut is the same – very classic, not overly pointy, tall, round, chunky, etc. Keep it simple and it will stay stylish for far longer.
7. The Black Dress. I have written about this piece many times. I believe it still holds true. I understand some religions frown on wearing black for weddings and other occasions – before you wear black to a religious event, do ask the host or someone familiar with the family’s culture what is appropriate. However many events (including most church weddings) will find a black dress to be completely appropriate and not at all somber. Tone is made with how you wear black, not the color itself.
8. Silver Hoop Earrings. Again, many criticize this choice, but it is a simple way for the accessories-shy person to branch out and jazz up an outfit. If you have feelings that another earring choice is more stylish/cool/flattering/appropriate, you probably don’t need this list.
9. Black or Gray Merino V-neck Sweater. Okay, it doesn’t HAVE to be a v-neck. There are some lovely round necks out there. The thing is, some round necks are too wide, too deep, too high. Square necks are not flattering on many figures, and crewnecks are not doing favors to any woman with a short neck, thick neck, large chest, broad shoulders or soft arms. V-necks are always available, v-necks don’t really go out of style, v-necks layer nicely with button-downs, shells or camisoles, and v-necks flatter the female figure.
10. Trendy Skirt
11. Trendy Jacket
12. Sweater in Signature Color
13. Signature Accessory. Ah, another piece I no longer have in my wardrobe. Well, let me be truthful – there are about six lovely skirts in my closet but none of them fit my postpartum body. I have yet to purchase a new skirt because I can’t find a silhouette that will change with this ever-changing body, fit my personal sense of style and flatter. And yet, I have survived the past nine months of existence.
Same holds true for the trendy jacket. I am still nursing, and because of it I still have nursing-sized breasts. Jackets that fit my bust do not usually fit my waist and shoulders. I could tailor, but since my body is constantly changing that which fits like a glove one month will be utterly wrong the next. So I have held off.
Some suggestions I made aren’t necessarily stylish any more – I have since donated that denim blazer and even though you may love animal prints, a leopard-spotted pencil skirt may be downright tacky on some people.
So does that mean one does not NEED a trendy skirt or jacket? In this case, I say yes… but only under the condition that you have an alternative. Woman cannot live on wardrobe basics alone. If you swim in a sea of black pants and solid v-neck tops in neutral tones, you are losing your identity. Items like trendy skirts, statement necklaces and funky blazers bring YOU into your wardrobe. If you are using this list to build from scratch, then I say these items are a must-have. For help with finding your personal style check out these posts:
14. Evening Top. Those who say they don’t need a top like this are often those who are dressed inappropriately for an event. I see you women – you in the oxford and chinos at a wedding, in a cotton sundress at your company’s holiday party at the hotel ballroom, in a dowdy suit at your nephew’s Bar Mitzvah. You are the women who frantically run to the mall three hours before your blind date and grab the first printed sequin-embellished polyester knit top you find on the racks.
So, you may only wear this top once a year at most. You don’t date, you don’t go to nightclubs or bars with your girl friends, you don’t have a social calendar full of cocktail parties and gala events. That’s okay and totally normal. But occasionally… I bet this top would be a better choice than what you pull from your closet.
That dark red silk top I mention in the original post? Yep, I am still wearing it. Last May I was the officiant at a dear friend’s wedding. For the ceremony I wore my black pantsuit and under I wore this cranberry silk top. After the recessional, I removed the jacket and added some darker lipgloss and was ready to hit the dance floor with the other guests. Earlier that year, I was invited to the theater with a group of friends. I wasn’t sure how formal everyone else was going to dress – in DC people will wear full-length gowns or jeans to the theater. I decided to wear this red silk blouse with wide legged black drapey trousers, black jet bead necklace and some strappy silk heels. This outfit was perfect for dinner before, was comfortable when seated in the theater, and worked when we decided to grab some cocktails at a bar after the show. I have worn the top to holiday parties at hotels and studio apartments, on dates with my husband at chain restaurants and romantic little bistros. You will be surprised how many times a sparkly top can fit into your current life.
15. The Perfect Tee. I think this is a given for all women, regardless of lifestyle. Donate all those faded, stretched-out, oversized, undersized tees and grab a couple that really look good and make you feel good.
One thing that has changed a bit – styles have become more refined over the past couple of years. In 2005 a stylish woman could easily wear a fitted tee or tank with a summer skirt and sandals and look polished. These days, you need a bit more effort. These tees are not replacements for merino sweaters in that they are as professional or formal. They are still great wardrobe staples to wear on weekends, under jackets, with casual skirts and jeans and trousers, they just have taken a backseat to more refined fabrics in regard to current style.
16. Well-fitting Wool Winter Coat. So you live in Florida, or Thailand, or Guam. You really don’t need a wool coat. If so, please disregard. However if you live somewhere that requires a coat, it’s a wise choice to invest in a well-fitting wool one. Add Thinsulate lining, a pashmina at your throat, gloves and a hat and you can brave even the coldest climates when dashing from car to destination.
For those in the Northwest and colder parts of the globe – keep your puffers. I don’t want anyone to catch hypothermia. This coat is a coat for the days when a puffer isn’t required, and when you do need to look more polished (evening affair, job interview, etc.).
17. Great Fitting Bras and 18. Panty Line-free Underwear. I would think this is a given but as I walk the streets of this great country, I see that it is not. Please ladies, do yourself a favor and get a professional to fit you for bras, and check out your back view in a full-length mirror. Who care what you spend on the rest of your wardrobe if you ruin the line and look with your undergarments.
19. Pashmina. If you don’t have one, go get one. They always have them at a great price at discount marts like Filene’s Basement and TJ Maxx. You will find so many uses for it. Right now I have one at work for chilly days, and I wear my other ones all the time when there’s a slight breeze, in place of winter scarves and as a shawl with my dresses.
20. Clutch Purse. Your regular daily handbag is NOT appropriate with a cocktail dress, even if it is of black leather. Just as with the sparkly top, if you purchase quality and a classic style, you won’t need more than one and it will be okay if you only use it once a year.
Just this past weekend I went out for my friend’s bachelorette party. We went to dinner and then bar hopping. I wore a black top, black pants, black heels and then to add to the look, a printed clutch. The clutch transformed these wardrobe basics. I had worn this same ensemble to work and to a more casual group gathering. What brought this to Festive Evening status were the accessories, and the clutch was the cherry on top.
21. Daily Purse. Your purse and your hair are the two accessories you wear pretty much every day. Spend money wisely – keep these items well cared for, maintained, current and ensure they are flattering to you and your lifestyle. I know a purse is a given – it’s not so much having a purse but what purse you have.
22. Sexy Shoes. I don’t think this wardrobe staple has become passé or will any time soon.
And yes, I am still rocking those Pucci-printed heels I mentioned in the original post. In fact I loaned them to a friend and she also received tons of compliments on them.
23. Sunglasses. Also a classic. Trends come and go, so if you want to be the height of fashion with your sunglasses, I don’t recommend spending an arm and a leg. Classic styles like aviators and large black plastic frames can be found at any pricepoint.
As you see, this list hasn’t really dated all that much. The examples may look at bit 2005 come 2012, but the concepts will most likely hold true. Get your inspiration from catalogs and shop windows; subscribe to one fashion magazine so you are still hip to the current trends in accessories, colors and silhouettes. And always, be true to yourself. One who copies is never stylish. This list is a platform, a place to start on your journey to personal style. As you become more confident with yourself and your wardrobe choices, you may see that a few of these staples are pushed to the back of your closet. That’s okay, not every woman or her life is the same. But I hope this list can get you on track and help you gain confidence and along the way, you find your personal style.
I guess everything does come back in style if you wait long enough.
Anyone remember Generra? Hot brand of the 1980s most famous for creating the much loved Hypercolor shirts. I remember Generra well; my family was too poor for name brands and I found a yellow canvas pullover with lots of grommets and drawstrings and New Wave embellishments at a yard sale for 75 cents. Though yellow has never been my color and the top was at least two sizes too big, I wore that thing every week because I owned a popular label.
Generra, Outback Red, Benneton, Esprit, Guess?, Forenza… brands that were as much a necessity to a young girl in the 80s as a Liz Claiborne purse and matching wallet. How is it that brands like these that were such a hot commodity ended up being fodder for discount superstores and cheesy mail order fashion catalogs? Who decides when a brand is hot, or when it is not?
Many of these oldies yet goodies have tried to make a comeback. Heck it works for hair bands, why not for the clothes that complimented the Aqua Net? Gloria Vanderbilt and Jordache had their fifteen minutes of fame a couple of seasons ago. We saw the return of jelly shoes, clear vinyl bags, high waists, neon colors, even mullets.
But Generra? They aren’t having just fifteen minutes of campy fame. They are back, and they are far better than ever. Every hot boutique online and in town has a few of their pieces, there is even an in-store Generra boutique at Henri Bendel. This isn’t a flash in the pan, Generra has slowing been taking over the past couple of years, being seen on the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Hudson, Alexandra and Theodora Richards and also having their moment at New York Fashion Week 2007.
I like it when brands make a comeback. I may not purchase Lacoste, Burberry, Generra or Le Tigre, but I admire their tenacity and impressive marketing skills. I find Generra’s new line to be a bit too utilitarian for my tastes, both in cut and color; but am excited to see an old friend back up on the runway. Now I just need to dig through my mom’s attic to see if I can find that yellow canvas pullover with the grommets…
One of the best parts of blogging is getting to know brands on a different level. Not just a label in a boutique or department store, you learn the story behind the name, their purpose, their history, and sometimes, they become friends.
I heard of Karen Kane before I started blogging, it was a brand I’d see at the mall, just like all the other garments wearing some woman’s name. The alliteration was catchy, I figured it was made up to represent the ideal customer for the brand. But thanks to my blog I got to know that Karen Kane is a real woman who cares for and designs for fellow real women.
Karen Kane has been a California Girl since she was 9 years old, attended the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in LA, and after graduation got a job as a pattern maker for a sportswear company. In 1979 Karen and her husband Lonnie begin the clothing brand Karen Kane out of their garage. After just one year the company reaches $1 million in sales. In 1986, their son Michael was born. To combine work and personal life, they brought Michael to work with them every day. Michael is now the Director of Marketing and the super nice person I work with when partnering with the brand (he even “likes” my Facebook page!). Karen and Lonnie still run the business. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to work with a company that sees me as a person, not just a blog, and who understands how Wardrobe Oxygen’s readers are different from another blog with different interests and needs.
Before many other brands, in 1999 Karen Kane launched a Women’s division after hearing requests from their customers. And as of 2013, over 95% of Karen Kane’s collection is manufactured right here in the United States. The clothes are high quality, comfortable, true California style with a touch of femininity and sex appeal. Many of my wardrobe favorites, such as this dress, these pants, this dress, and this jumpsuit (sorry for the bad photo, I’ll have to do an outfit post in it soon, they still have it in stock!) are from Karen Kane.
This season I’m admiring the Studded Wrap Dress, Safari Jacket, Gold Sequin Front Dress, and can’t wait for this spring when Karen Kane will be offering jewelry and hats! I know I will be adding more Karen Kane to my closet this season and for many seasons to come.
I had a Small Business Saturday series before my surgery, but since then have realized how I love many brands who aren’t small but still have heart. I’m changing this series to Style with Substance and will be featuring brands who offer great fashion with great ethics or goals.
There is nothing more unattractive than a woman who says she is unattractive.
A woman usually claims she (or that which she is wearing or that which she said or made) is unappealing because, A. she is begging for attention and compliments (“oh no it’s true, you ARE utterly fabulous!”), but is usually because, B. she doesn’t trust and love herself enough. Either way, it’s not charming, it’s not stylish, and it’s not attractive.
And if you want a compliment or a suggestion, stop fishing for one with a self-deprecating comment. Find a good friend and ask that person what they think. How do you really look in that dress? Why do I have a hard time looking good in photographs? Do you think I look better in green or red? Only then will you know if the response is honest, or stated to make you feel better. Trust the feedback from those who care about you, and use it to develop and gain confidence and poise.
And remember, you ARE a fantastic human being! You have wonderful exterior and interior traits that make you unique and charming and loveable. Surround yourself with people and things that make you feel and look good and you will need less self-deprecating comments.
This weekend was pretty busy – Sunday I hosted a bridal shower for my best friend. I hope to have pictures from that event a little later in the week. I wore the same dress that I wore on Thursday, same shoes too.
Anyway, on to today…
Old Navy – Two white ribbed tanks layered for opacity, black ponte trousers
Halogen – Teal knit jacket
Ralph Lauren – Silver necklace
Sofft – Black patent T-strap sandals
Silver hoops, cuff and chain with wedding band
Next day, brushed out
Estée Lauder – Double-Wear Light Foundation in Intensity 2.0
Nars – Blush in Orgasm
Pop Beauty – Shadow palette for Brown Eyes – the taupe and celadon blended
Cover Girl – LashBlast mascara in Rich Black
Maybelline – UltraLiner in Black
L’Oreal – Color Juice Stick in Berry Spritzer
It is tres hot and humid in the DC area, but my office is very chilly. Only way i can get away with layers like this!
No pictures on Monday because I haven’t put up the new mirror, and I drove myself to work early in the AM.
I wore my black jersey sleeveless wrap top with the ruffle trim from Ann Taylor and my ivory tropical wool trousers from Talbots. Freshwater pearl necklace that my sister gave me as a gift and black kitten heel sandals from Banana Republic. Hair curly.
Here is Tuesday:
Blown out semi-straight
Estee Lauder – Nutritious Vita-Mineral Makeup in Intensity 2.0
Nars – Blush in Orgasm
Revlon – ColorStay shadow quad in Neutral Khakis, ColorStay lipcolor in Rich Raisin
Maybelline – UltraLiner in Black
Cover Girl – lashBlast mascara in Rich Black
Straightened with round brush and dryer on dry hair
Body Shop – Vitamin E Face Mist to prep/hydrate the skin
L’Oreal – True Match foundation in C3
Stila – Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer (the two mixed together)
Philosophy – The Supernatural Color Correctors in Light
Nars – Blush in Orgasm
Revlon – ColorStay shadow quad in Neutral Khakis (just the ivory)
Maybelline – UltraLiner in Black
Cover Girl – LashBlast mascara iN Rich Black
Clinique – Long Wear lipstick in Beauty
This is the same dress as my navy print one. I liked the other one so much, I went back and found it in black AND for less than $30! Seriously, Talbots is having some ridiculous sale items right now. I also got some ivory flannel wool trousers in a very classic cut for less than $20, originally $148. They are five pounds away from fitting well, and for that price I figured I could break my rule of buying things I do not yet fit into.