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Review – Hobo International Sample Sale

It’s great living in the DC area – access to amazing FREE museums, living within an hour of three major airports, one of the best concert venues in the country (I love you 9:30 Club!), all the convenience and options of a major city, yet close proximity to the ocean, the bay, wineries, and farmland.

However as a blogger, I sometimes feel left out when I get all these emails from PR folks telling me about great sample sales taking place in New York, London, and Los Angeles. What about DC? Where’s OUR sample sales?

Well Hobo International is based out of Annapolis, Maryland and I found out they had a sample sale this past weekend. Score! I adore Hobo bags – they are stylish without being trendy, well made, and fit my personal sense of style. I follow Hobo on Twitter and the week prior to their sample sale they had a Twitter contest where a few followers could win 50% off their entire purchase at the sale. And moi? Winner winner chicken dinner!

Annapolis isn’t too far from where I live – I actually passed my “bachelorette pad” on the way (lived in Annapolis prior to moving in with my husband). My mom, Emerson, and I arrived about 20 minutes prior to them opening the doors for the sale and there was a good dozen of folks ahead of me. These were serious shoppers – women in sneakers, sans purses and handbags, ready to shop. I probably would have been better off without a toddler in tow, but I didn’t have anyone to watch her and Emerson is pretty chill in chaotic situations and don’t mind crowds.

The sale was well managed – many Hobo International staff on hand to pass out shopping baskets, answer questions – one even offered to watch Emerson so I could shop! Instead, my mom and I took turns – one would watch Emerson while the other would do a mad dash around the sale, toss things in the basket. We would switch, and then while watching Emerson, could look through what we picked up, decide if it was purchase-worthy and put back that which we decided against keeping.

After about 30 minutes (time flies when you’re running around like a mad woman, surrounded by leather goods and other mad women!) we were DONE. Emerson had been fantastic but was starting to whine and I didn’t want to torture her any longer. We had collected a nice haul and felt accomplished so my mom took E to the car and I headed to the register.

And now on to the most important thing – my haul:

Emerson likes the pretty pink belt

- The Libby in Pumpkin
- The Penelope in Maroon
- The Bartola in Stone
- The Sadie wallet in hot pink patent
- The Valentina clutch in cobalt patent
- A belt that perfectly matches the Penelope (same leather and same hardware)
- A skinny hot pink patent belt (not on site)
- A skinny mint green leather belt (not on site)

My mom got a handbag, a belt, a wallet, and a little business-card holder/keyring combo thingie. Our purchases combined came to just over $200! How utterly insane is that? Seriously folks, if you live in the Annapolis area, this sale IS worth attending. Some items were previous seasons, but you can see three bags I got (and possibly my mom’s – can’t recall the style) are current colors and styles on sale on the Hobo International site.

As soon as I got home, I switched all my purse essentials over to the Penelope – here you can see how much this bag holds – a full-size book (which I will be reviewing soon), my “Diane” wallet from Hobo, sunglasses, camera, SmartPhone, engagement calendar, cosmetics bag and more!

Keep tabs on Hobo International via Facebook or Twitter and you will know when their next sale will take place!

P.S. I met a blog reader at the sale!  So hectic, no chance to really talk.  However it was great to meet you! :)

Note: Everything written in this post is my own opinion – I did not receive compensation to write about Hobo International, and was not asked by them to write. I attended this sale purely as a customer and paid for everything I received at the sale.

Ode to my Hobo International Wallet

I was slow to get on to the quality leather goods train. I worked for five years for Express, and so during that time I seemed to buy a new bag every month when they gave us 55% off. When I lived with my sister, our apartment’s hallway was decorated with my purse collection. Cow print, red snakeskin, sequins, beading… you name it I had it. But all of them were cheap and either destroyed or dated by the end of the season.

My wallet was no exception. For YEARS I lived with a microfiber wallet from The Limited. I think I paid $9.99 for it, I remember grabbing it from the lucite sale bin on the counter while buying a few pairs of their Drew trousers. It was… fine. I liked all the pockets and compartments. When it broke, I will admit I “fixed” it with some black electrical tape that I thought matched the patent trim quite nicely.

I know. I know.

Well a couple years ago, Nordstrom had one of their lovely half-yearly sales and I saw a mustard-colored Hobo International wallet in the sale bin. It had everything I desired – change purse with two sections, a place for bills, a window for my ID, places for credit cards, and tons of space for randomness. I loved the color too – different without being gaudy, fun without being overly trendy, and easy to find at the bottom of a deep dark slouchy purse.

Since then, my Hobo International wallet has seen some hard times. It experienced leaking bottles of pumped breast milk, a tube of toothpaste that decided to commit suicide, my endless collection of medium-tipped black ball point pens that I carry in case I have the desire to write about bad fashion on the road, and some Orbit gum that melted while my bag was stuffed in the glove compartment during Bonnaroo.

I gave all my change to a homeless dude this A.M.; usually my wallet is bulging with quarters for meters and when I am thisclose to the right fare for the Metro…

I try to clean it up, and I keep on trucking with my beloved wallet.  

Because it is perfect

And I don’t think Hobo International makes this wallet any more. There are many other lovely wallets on their site, but none in the same style as my baby.

I found out that Hobo International is having a Sample Sale later this month, and their headquarters is in Annapolis, Maryland. I am totally making the trek to it. Maybe I will find a replacement wallet, maybe I will find a new bag for winter. Whatever I get, I bet it will be as well made and smartly designed as my lovely mustard wallet!

My Haul – Hobo International Sample Sale

Saturday I attended the Hobo International Sample sale at their warehouse in Annapolis Junction. Last year I attended and ended up with quite a lot of scores (see my post from last year). This year I planned on being far more frugal – I knew I needed a replacement wallet (yep, still using the same wallet from this post), and was thinking maybe a small crossbody or clutch. That’s about it.

Who is that hiding behind the rack of mini crossbodies?

Then my sister was seen by a Hobo International employee while she was watching over this little fashionista and was given a 50% off coupon. This extended the money I budgeted for the day and I got a couple more goodies…

My haul from the Hobo International Sample Sale

The “Diane” wallet isn’t as popular as Hobo’s famous “Lauren” but it is PERFECT for me and my lifestyle. I dug through their bins and only found this one – while I would have preferred a color and smooth leather, I couldn’t beat getting an almost $100 wallet for $25, and based upon all the years I have been loving my last “Diane” I knew it was a good use of my money. I love the layout – a place for all my cards, a pocket behind it for bills. The window pocket holds my ID and business cards, and then the change purse portion is divided so I have one part for change and the other for coupons and loyalty cards.

You can see from my outfit post yesterday that I also got this clutch. I don’t know the name of it, it looks most similar to the “Cristel” but not quite. This also was $25 at the sample sale. I love how one side has zippers but the other is smooth – two looks in one clutch!

This bag (Hobo International “Jude”) I wasn’t planning on getting. My sister had it and I thought it was awesome, but she decided she didn’t really need it. She’s not the type to change her bags with her outfits, and I am. and I have been saying I would like a more casual bag in a bright color. This bag ended up being $60, which is an awesome price compared to the current retail for $248!

And the final bag I got was the “Dove” in red. I had been admiring this bag on the Hobo International site for a while and was excited to get it for around $25 at the sale. It has the cute chain and leather strap, but the strap neatly tucks into the bag to be a clutch. My sister ended up getting the larger version of this bag (the “Birdie”) which makes an adorable oversized clutch.

Emerson rocking out at the sample sale

I went with my sister who got the Birdie and a small berry colored patent crossbody; also went with my mom who got an adorable black glazed leather handbag. My sister and I each got a pair of sunglasses which were $9 at the sale. It was a successful trip for all!

Did you attend the Hobo International Sample Sale? What did you get?

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What I Wore: Monet

gwynnie bee spruce sage dress review hobo bag red leather clutch

outfit blog size 14 mom over 30 wardrobe oxygen

Dress: Spruce & Sage c/o Gwynnie Bee | Shoes: Nine West “Flax” | Bracelet: Nordstrom | Bag: Hobo Bags (similar) | Cast Cover: c/o CastCoverZ! | Lipstick: NARS Red Square

Emerson said this dress looked like rose petals underwater. I said it reminded me of a Monet, she quickly agreed which freaked me out because we haven’t really taught her that much about artists. A Monet fan in a past life? Besides the dress being a pretty print, it’s pretty comfortable too. It’s fully lined, but the lining is a bit stretchy and not as hot as a traditional acetate one. While this would look cute with a skinny belt or shoes in one of the great colors of the print, I decided to keep it simple with nude pumps and a fun little bracelet.  And this bag was a Hobo Sample Sale purchase that has given me years of happiness; it has a chain strap making it uber versatile and an unexpected classic.

This dress is a perfect example of why I love Gwynnie Bee; it’s a pretty dress that I kept for more than one wear, but it’s the type of dress I would purchase and then grow tired of before the season is through.  With Gwynnie Bee I can keep and wear as long as I wish and the return for a new dress to love!

HOBO Sample Sale Summer 2012 – My Haul

I love HOBO Bags – they are well-made, not overly trendy, not covered in logos, and have a clean look that fits with my personal style. I also love that HOBO is based out of Maryland, where I have lived almost all my life. Since they are based out of Annapolis, Maryland I have easy access to their semi-annual sample sales. Once or twice a year, HOBO opens up their warehouse to sell off samples, discontinued styles, damages, and overstocks. This weekend I attended my third HOBO Sample sale, and yet again I left with fabulous bags at fabulous prices!

Last HOBO sample sale, I went on the first day and it was utter insanity. So many people showed up, we had to wait for people to leave the warehouse to get in. Once in, it was a flurry of women grabbing bags and wallets left and right and I found it pretty overwhelming. Also since I went on a Saturday morning while my husband teaches, I had to bring Emerson. A sample sale is NOT a place for a toddler, she was having too much fun and my family and I were having too much trouble keeping up with her to properly shop. This year my friends, family and I went first thing on Sunday – we knew it wouldn’t be as good of selection, but figured it would be worth it to be toddler-free and most likely have fewer attendees.

While the selection was reduced greatly by attending on Sunday, we practically had the warehouse to ourselves. Not only that, all remaining merchandise was reduced further in price, and they were having “Light Blue Light Specials” every 15-30 minutes where they would have a whole table or rack of bags at a steep discount. While there may not have been as many brand-new styles in the warehouse, it was still brimming with beautiful bags, wallets, belts, sunglasses and other accessories.

Look it’s my HOBO Dove and for only $29!

After the sale with my bag of goodies!

What I Bought:

Sorry for the quality of the photo, I forgot to take pics yesterday and just snapped one this morning before I left for work.  But what I got:

  • HOBO Marlow in Yellow – it’s an old style and no longer available online, but I love the retro look to it and heck, a leather handbag for $29? Yes please!
  • HOBO Finch in Black – this bag is still selling online for $188, I got it for $29 (you can see me carry it in this post).  I love how you can tuck in the handle to make it a classic clutch.  While I have this black clutch, and this patent black clutch, I didn’t own one that was solid leather and could dress up.  Problem solved!
  • HOBO Alton in Taupe – this is a mini version of my beloved black leather HOBO clutch (seen here), it was one of their Light Blue Light Specials for $9
  • HOBO Libby in Silver - This shape sells online for $65, got for $9.  I already have this bag in Pumpkin (see here) and love the size – it can fit my iPhone, keys, lipstick, and my ID and some cash, looks cute hanging from my shoulder or as a crossbody.  The silver makes for a fun yet secure festive purse that I could carry to a wedding or a club.
  • HOBO Camel tiny crossbody (NOT the Morgan) - $29.  I wanted a casual crossbody for weekends or the occasional concert that was not black and not a statement color.  This one is small, but when unfolded could hold a bottle of water.  While the receipt says Morgan and the tag’s SKU claimed it was a Morgan, even the cashier knew that was not correct.
  • HOBO snakeskin clutch - can’t find online, got for $29.  Like the Finch, it has a handle that can tuck inside to make it a classic clutch.  I’ve been wanting another printed clutch to work for those times when a solid is too stark, or I need just a bit of texture or interest to a simple ensemble.  
  • Three belts - $4 each.  I have this belt that I got at a HOBO sale a couple years ago and I LOVE it.  I found the same one in an acid green, and a very similar style in navy with a gold buckle, and burgundy with a pewter buckle.  Expect to see these quite a lot on the blog in the future.

If you live in Maryland or DC, I highly recommend you check out the HOBO sample sales - follow HOBO on Facebook, sign up for their emails, and you too could score some amazing deals on fabulous leather goods!  Maybe next time I’ll see you there!

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International Women’s Day (AKA Why I am a Feminist)

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.
- Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler

I am a feminist.

When I tell people this, I get many reactions. People roll their eyes, state that feminism is passé, tell me I can’t be a feminist because I care about what I look like and that I love my husband. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just like the quote above, being a feminist means I support women, and that all women should be treated as people. People who have the same choices, options, and freedoms available to men.

I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman. 
- Anaïs Nin

I believe that a woman can be a feminist and still care about fashion and beauty, love men, love taking care of her home and her family. As a feminist, I believe I am a person – I deserve to do what I want, say what I want, enjoy what I want, and love who I want.

You don’t have to be anti-man to be pro-woman. 
- Jane Galvin Lewis

I married a feminist, a man who sees women as people, finds me to be his equal, and we enjoy a great friendship and partnership.

I’ve yet to be on a campus where most women weren’t worrying about some aspect of combining marriage, children, and a career. I’ve yet to find one where many men were worrying about the same thing. 
- Gloria Steinem

I enjoy fashion, and find it to be an art form as well as a way for women to express themselves and gain self-confidence and self-love. Every woman is gorgeous, clothing helps them showcase their internal as well as external beauty.

Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress. 
– Coco Chanel

Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day celebrates women’s successes across the globe, but also reminds us all of the inequities that still exist.

From the International Women’s Day site:

The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.

Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, “She doesn’t have what it takes.” They will say, “Women don’t have what it takes.”
- Clare Boothe Luce

I find that younger Americans feel that feminism is dead, or should be. They feel that women have become equal – they are now CEOs, astronauts, running for office, and Secretary of State. However a recent study showed that female surgeons make on average $27,000 less per year than their male counterparts; the White House stated earlier this year that women in all levels of education still make 25% less than men.

The world has never yet seen a truly great and virtuous nation because in the degradation of woman the very fountains of life are poisoned at their source. 
- Lucretia Mott

In other countries, rape is still used as a weapon of war, and women are often seen as property. We women need to support one another, educate one another, free one another. Feminism isn’t hairy armpits and man-bashing, it’s treating humans – all humans with the respect they deserve.

Today I ask you to start with yourself. Respect yourself. Be proud to be a woman, and of all the accomplishments you have made.

We have to have faith in ourselves. I have never met a woman who, deep down in her core, really believes she has great legs. And if she suspects that she might have great legs, then she’s convinced that she has a shrill voice and no neck. 
- Cynthia Heimel

You are beautiful, and so incredibly talented. Honor yourself, and all that you accomplish. Know that who you really are is amazing, and should be celebrated.

We must trust our own thinking. Trust where we’re going. And get the job done. 
- Wilma Mankiller

We women often feel it is wrong to be proud of our accomplishments, take time out to pamper ourselves, seem the slightest bit selfish. However when you care for yourself, you are showing others that you deserve such care. You show subordinates at work that a woman can love herself and climb the career ladder, you teach your children that a woman can be smart and strong and still be true to herself and a great parent. When you love and respect yourself, those around you realize it and give you more respect.

I became a feminist as an alternative to becoming a masochist. 
- Sally Kempton

And take the time today to support your fellow women. Mentor an intern at the office, send an email of encouragement to a local female politician, teach your child about a famous female trailblazer, donate your time or money to a program that promotes support for women in your community or another part of the globe. Doing this will help fellow women, but also make you feel even more amazing and strong than you already are.

I can promise you that women working together – linked, informed and educated – can bring peace and prosperity to this planet.
- Isabel Allende

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Current Sales and Giveaways – Shop and Save!

I don’t usually write about sales since I have many international readers, but there are some REALLY good deals going on right now (and a cool giveaway too!):

LOFT and Ann Taylor: 40% Friends and Family
40% off your entire purchase (including sale) in stores and online for both LOFT and Ann Taylor – use code FRIENDS at checkout. Starts today and continues through November 13, 2011

Lands End: 25% off Outerwear and Free Shipping
Ends TODAY (November 9, 2011) To get the discount online, use code SHIPOUTERWEAR and PIN 2198

Lands End and Lands End Canvas: 25% Friends and Family and Free Shipping
25% off site-wide, including Lands End Canvas, and free shipping, no minimum. Code: FAMILY SAVE and PIN: 1142. Runs from November 10 – 15, 2011.

Talbots: 50% off Jackets and Outerwear and Free Shipping No Minimum
This promotion ends TODAY – works on all full-price jackets and outerwear, including vests.  Use code COLD.

Hobo International: Win a Lomo Bag and an iPad!
“Like” Hobo International on Facebook and enter their giveaway. When it asks how you heard about the giveaway, say you learned about it from Wardrobe Oxygen! Contest ends December 9, 2011

Hobo International: Sample Sale
Live in the Annapolis, Maryland area? Hobo International is having a sample sale at their Annapolis headquarters November 19th and 20th 10:00am – 6:00pm I went last year and got some amazing deals on beautiful leather bags, wallets, and belts (see here). Get there early, a line starts to get in! Hobo International is located at 9025 Junction Drive, Annapolis Junction, MD 20701

Nordstrom: Half-Yearly Sale
They seem to be adding new things almost daily, so check often. Nordstrom now has free shipping and free returns, which makes it easy for those of you not near a store to take advantage of the deals!

Do you know of any other great deals taking place now? Please share with others in the comments below!

Note: By mentioning me as the referral with the Hobo International contest I too may win the bag and iPad; by mentioning the Lands End Friends & Family I may be able to win a $25 gift card. I doubt I will get either because I didn’t race to share this info, but wanted to keep you on the up-and-up!

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My Wardrobe Today – Monday

Sweater – Vince Camuto (similar)
Skirt – Ann Taylor (similar)
Tights – Nordstrom
Cuff – Gap (similar)
Shoes – Miss Sixty (similar)
Bag – Hobo International “Jude”

Feeling so much better today than I did on Friday, however still not 100%. Getting there!

This weekend was really nice – Saturday evening we went to a neighbor’s house where we adults had dinner and our kids had a blast together. Yesterday, I went to the mall with my sister – I didn’t plan on buying anything, but ended up getting a bangle bracelet, a bag, and a skirt. I find some of the best accessories at the cheapest places – the bangle is big and green and fun and I found it at The Icing; the bag is a small emerald green patent “Kelly” inspired bag with a crossbody strap that was less than $20 at Forever21 – not something I would wear every day, but great for concerts and events when I need a smaller bag (and the color is phenomenal!)

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Contest: Tolani Scarf from

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get to know
Facebook (friend “shop chickdowntown” and/or become a fan of the chickdowntown page)
Twitter (
YouTube ( or

Good luck!

My Wardrobe Today – Friday

Sweater- Kensie (three years old)
Gray and taupe striped wrap teeAnn Taylor (for some reason can’t find online though I just got it)
JeansNot Your Daughter’s Jeans
Gray leather shoesMiz Mooz
Gray leather bagHobo International “Bartola”
Brushed gold necklace and bracelets – Ann Taylor (no longer available)

Dude, Husband, can’t you tell me when my clothes are all crooked?  This is the only picture I could show you because it seemed my top was a bit askew from carrying/nursing/car-seating Emerson.  Side all hiked up, bra showing… good times.

Anyway, it’s FRIDAY!  I can wear jeans, I can be casual, and it’s not too cold out.  The snow we were supposed to get was a light dusting on the grass, cars, top of the toolshed.  Enough to be pretty, like confectioner’s sugar; not enough to cause any drama with the folks in DC who do not know how to drive in any sort of weather.

Tomorrow is Emerson’s second birthday – golly how time flies!  We are going out to lunch tomorrow – us, plus my mom and sister.  Sunday we are having a party – just family and our closest friends who are like family.  We wanted to keep it very small, but even keeping it to such a small group we’ll have over 20 folks (and four boys under the age of 5 – ack!).  Haven’t do0ne anything yet to prepare other than share emailed idea with my sister.

Since Emerson’s birthday is so close to Christmas and she doesn’t fully “get” these holidays, we are asking folks to just bring a book as a gift to add to her library.  Girlfriend has more than enough toys, and with her new kitchen, has hours of fun sans television.  As parents, our birthday present to her is a little table and chairs to go with her kitchen.  We already gave it to her since the big is GINORMOUS and we just didn’t have room for it.  We have a little something for her to open on tomorrow.  But books is perfect, because Emerson is a voracious reader and we read her four books at bed, at least one at naptime and several during the day.  She has her favorites, but is always interested in new reading material!

By the way, don’t forget to enter to win a gorgeous hand-painted scarf from Scarves by Maria!

My Wardrobe Today – Monday

Blouse – c/o CAbi
Skirt – Gap (similar)
Shoes - MICHAEL Michael Kors
Necklace - Ross (similar)
BagHobo International (similar)

This bag is one of the things I purchased at this weekend’s Hobo International sample sale in Maryland. I went just wanting a wallet, and I did find one (the “Diane” in black), but I also have been wanting a leather clutch (see this post). I found this beauty at the sale and loved the idea – the other side is smooth leather, just a seam down the center. You can wear the zippers out for a more rocker look, or have the smooth side out for a classic option. I was finished shopping at that point, and then my sister was given a 50% coupon by a Hobo International employee… so I went back for more! I’ll have a post about my haul tonight or tomorrow (left my camera at home).

This weekend was nice – my sister, mom, Emerson and I started Saturday early with the Hobo sale; after we all went to brunch at our favorite diner. Headed home, put E down for a nap and started cleaning the bedroom. I don’t know about you, but for us the bedroom is the last room in the house to get TLC since no one sees it but us. Emerson was exhausted from the day, did some quiet playing in her bed and then napped hard for a few hours so I got a whole five hours to finally put all the clothes back in the office and get the room back in order post-hurricane. SUCH a good feeling!

Sunday Emerson and I went to my friend’s house for a playdate with her two kiddos. We had a great time and it is always awesome to get a chance to hang with her (we’ve been friends since high school!). Came home, got some freelance writing finished, did laundry and cleaned bathrooms and then my sister and a friend came over for dinner – husband made an insanely delicious meatsauce for pasta and garlic bread too! We opened a bottle of wine a friend gave as a gift and watched the majority of the AMAs. All in all a lovely weekend!

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Thursday – One Step Colorblocking

DressCalvin Klein
Coat - LOFT (similar)
Silver cuff (similar)
Silver hoops (similar)
Booties – Miss Sixty (similar)
Clutch - Hobo (similar)
Sunglasses – MARC by MARC JACOBS

This evening I am going out right after work, needed an outfit that could survive all day sitting at my desk and shoes that could handle a night on my feet; this outfit fits the bill with a comfy wrinkle-resistant knit and my trusty Miss Sixty booties. I planned on wearing this dress with black opaque tights and my black suede platform pumps, but it’s in the 70s in DC today so that combo will just have to wait! BTW, if you like the dress it’s only $44… and who can resist one-step colorblocking?

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My Wardrobe Today – Friday

Sweater - Gap (similar)
BeltLauren Ralph Lauren
Skirt - Ann Taylor (similar)
Tights - Nordstrom
BootiesVince Camuto
BanglesLauren Ralph Lauren
BagHobo International “Bartola”

I haven’t carried this bag in quite a while. I love it, it’s the main reason why I went to last year’s Hobo International sale and was excited to get it for such a great price. Yet I seem to forget about it. I knew a brown bag with this outfit would be far too matchy matchy, and thought the gray with the brown tortoiseshell strap would complement the look pretty well.

This weekend I will be helping my husband with a photo shoot, and I am going to “Estrogen Brunch” with several of my girl friends. I try to organize one of these girl brunches every so often so we can catch up, chill and enjoy one another’s company over delicious diner omelets. This Sunday there’s going to be at least 10 of us, can’t wait!

What are your weekend plans?

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My Wardrobe Today – Friday

Blouse - White House Black Market
Belt - Hobo International (similar)
Skirt - Ann Taylor (no longer available online)
Shoes – Nine West (similar)
Bag - LOFT (similar)

Had a late night last night (concert review to come) and feeling it today. The combination of a shrunken wardrobe and no sleep means I end up wearing the same blouse I wore last Friday! Whoops!

What are your plans for the long weekend? We have a couple cookouts, I have a playdate with a friend and her kids, and hope to do a bit of shopping!

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My Wardrobe Today – Thursday

Tee – Ann Taylor (similar)
Cardigan – Only Mine (similar)
Skirt - c/o CAbi
Cuff - Gap (similar)
Booties - Miss Sixty (similar)
Scarf - Liberty of London (similar)
Bag - Hobo International “Dove”

Yesterday I had to get to work early so no outfit pic (except for my sad bathroom shot on Instagram).  But I wish I kept that outfit for today.  After work I am meeting my husband and our friends for dinner at Eatonville and then going to see The Kills at the 9:30 Club.  Yesterday with my striped tee and jacket, I wore my narrow black ponte pants from LOFT tucked into my black DUO boots.  A perfect outfit to survive a very long day, and comfortable shoes to stand at a GA show.  So today I knew I had to wear those boots or the booties above to have a good evening, and I needed to wear knits so I wasn’t a crinkled uncomfortable mess by 8pm.  This outfit isn’t my absolute fave, but I can take the scarf off for the show and the cardigan if I get warm and not look half-dressed.  Also it gives me a chance to use one of my newest Hobo International purses that I got at their fall sample sale – I love this one because I can tuck the strap in and change it into a clutch; it’s small enough to slip under my arm, but big enough to hold everything (my umbrella even fits in it!).

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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.

My Wardrobe Today – Thursday

Black merino stretch crewneckBanana Republic (bought eons ago and on their clearance rack)
Ivory and black wool skirtAnn Taylor
Black tightsSpanx Tight End Tights
Ivory pashminaPashmina International
Silver cuff

I know, those boots again!  I am in need of some new winter boots but have yet to find any worthy of my money – style and comfort.  We’ll see what the Birthday Fairy brings me later this month…

Tried the curly hair again today.  Still feel a bit like Dominic West in Rock Star.  I swear I was born in the wrong decade – my hair makes some mean mall bangs, can look like a body wave with little effort, and when straight it likes to part in the center and feather out a la Valerie Bertinelli.  Need to coax out those curls!

My Wardrobe Today – Friday

Blazer – Limited (similar)
Shell – LOFT (similar)
Skirt - Halogen
Shoes - Mossimo for Target

Today is a day where I liked my outfit much more in person than I do in these pictures.  I am excited to finally wear these shoes from Target (yes Target!).  They are a nubuck finish and surprisingly walkable for such a high heel.  I am such a fan of leopard shoes – I now own four pairs! If you are looking for any, seriously check out Target – they have a few different styles and look very similar to higher-priced brands.

Tomorrow I plan on going to the Hobo International sample sale – I went last year and made out really well. I am in need of a new wallet and maybe a small crossbody that is bigger than my Hobo “Libby.” That’s about it – no real need and with the holidays around the corner my focus is shopping for others. Will you be there?

Sunday I have a playdate scheduled with a friend and her kids, but otherwise the weekend is pretty open and I am grateful for that. I got a migraine last night – first one in I believe over a year and it was a very painful reminder that I need to SLOW DOWN. So that is exactly what I will do the next two days!

What are your plans for the weekend?

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My Wardrobe Today – Thursday

Olive cargo jacket – Caslon (no longer available – similar)
Navy and white stripe knit tank – H&M (similar)
Dark stretch jeansJag Jeans
Black and cork heeled sandals – Payless (no longer available online)
Black leather studded bracelet – picked up in a boutique in Rehoboth Beach
Pumpkin Leather Purse - Hobo International “Libby”

Just as I had my stride with getting my personal style back after having a baby… a hurricane tackles my closet. While most clothes are salvageable, they still need to be cleaned and most need a professional to handle it. So I am working with a shrunken closet and I feel that the result isn’t the consistency I like. Ah well, a challenge for me to overcome! So for now, I look as though I am going to a wedding one day, and game night at a friend’s house the next!

The biggest reason why I went casual today is because tonight my husband and I are going to see The Hold Steady at the 9:30 Club. I haven’t seen them before, so when they came to town I had to get tickets!  I needed something that would work for a quiet day at work, dinner, and then a general-admission show.  How awesome to find comfortable enough heels for this day from Payless!  And this bag from Hobo International is one of my best buys in a long time – it can fit my phone, my smallest point-and-shoot camera, lip gloss, ID and cash with no problem – the perfect concert bag!

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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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