Search Results for: label/How to Wear Denim Trends

The Bandana is Back!

Some trends come on the scene that make me wonder what designers and street style icons were smoking or ingesting when they decided on them. And recently, a lot of trends were impossible to recreate on a budget. I’m loving how so many trends this spring and summer are honestly achievable on any budget; it’s less about the logo and more about the look.

Bottom Row, Left to Right: Louis Vuitton via GQ | Stockholm Street Style | Vanessa Jackman | The Blab

And one of those trends is the bandana. That white-pattered cotton scarf you can pick up at the dollar store or take from your college Halloween costume is now an on-trend accessory. I’ve always loved the classic bandana print and prefer a cotton scarf to a silk one, so I am thrilled about this trend. But how do you wear a bandana without looking like an extra from a John Wayne movie?

    • Create a Contradiction. A bandana with a chambray shirt is cliché, a bandana with a leather moto jacket or a silk blouse or a crisp blazer is unexpected.

 

  • Keep it Crisp and Classic. For now, keep your pink and purple bandanas in the drawer and stick to classics like navy, red, and black. These should also not be the weathered, worn, and torn bandanas you use to mop sweat when gardening or to hold back your hair on a camping trip. The classic color and the crisp finish makes the bandana purposeful and not a leftover from cleaning out the garage.

 

 

  • Simplicity is Key. Leandra Medine’s all-white outfit with the bandana tucked into the collar of her shirt is a fabulous example of how to wear a bandana this spring. Minimal color, no competing prints, use the bandana as you would a silk Hermes scarf and let it take center stage.

 

 

  • Get Creative. A bandana doesn’t have to be worn knotted in back and draped in front. Check out The Not Vanilla’s post and how she wore it knotted around her throat, and even as a purse and wrist accessory. I recently rolled a bandana , wrapped it twice around my neck and had it peek out of a white button-front shirt; I think it’s fun to spice up a monochromatic look with a bandana tied to a single belt loop at the front of a pair of trousers; don’t be afraid to use a bandana as a headband, kerchief, headwrap, or tied around your ponytail.

 

Last week when I shared my outfit featuring a bandana, I received a few styling questions from you folk:

    • When You Have Short Hair. If you’re draping the bandana in front and the “ears” are peeking out making you feel as though you’re wearing a bib, consider a bit of fashion tape to hold them down. I keep all those tiny safety pins that hold garment hang tags and find them great for a situation like this (I pin the “ears” to the underside so they don’t ruin the line of the scarf).

 

  • When the Bandana is Too Stiff. A brand new bandana can be as stiff as a piece of paper, and often have hard creases in it. Before trying anything, wash it and throw it in the dryer, preferably with bulky items that would make it bounce around a lot. This often does the trick. If it’s still too stiff for you, an overnight soak in fabric softener or vinegar will soften cotton without fading the fabric. Rinse and tumble dry.

 

 

  • When You Want a Bigger Bandana. I desired this very thing to have more variety (and to double-look around my big neck). On eBay I found “Texas Size” bandanas which are 27” (most are 22”). If you search for 27” bandana, you’ll find that many online stores like Amazon offer them, which will give you the length you desire.

 

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How to Wear Wardrobe Classics with This Fall’s Trends

I really promote having a closet of wardrobe classics here at Wardrobe Oxygen, but I think it’s also important to add zest to your sartorial staples with seasonal trends that catch your fancy. This fall, there are so many trends that are extremely wearable and can really add interest to your wardrobe classics. Here’s a few of this season’s trends that I think will update all the basics in your closet!

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Leather Jacket

Leather is hot hot hot this fall, and I couldn’t be happier. I have already added two leather skirts to my wardrobe this season, and am looking for a leather jacket and possibly a leather top. While all leather is en vogue right now, a leather jacket is a piece that will not update your wardrobe for the season, but can easily become a wardrobe classic for many seasons to come.

A leather jacket is more of an investment piece – while there are many faux versions on the market, most of them look like faux, and they don’t insulate and fight wind as well as leather. Also a real leather jacket will age nicely, getting softer and molding to your figure. If you choose a style that is either pretty simple and streamlined or incredibly unique (signature color, exaggerated details, etc.) this can be a piece you wear for years.

Biker-inspired jackets are back en vogue though they never really left the fashion scene. A blazer is also a great look that is trendy now and will still be stylish next winter. While black is always chic, this is a great season to try an unexpected hue like oxblood or dark green. Pair with everything from knits and jeans on the weekend to using as a blazer to toughen up office-appropriate sheath dresses.

Cap Toe Shoes

I saw this trend start earlier this year and was pretty excited. I love when fashion grabs hold of a trend that is extremely simple to replicate at any pricepoint. The small addition of a cap to a pair of heels or flats take them from ordinary to extraordinary. While this is a popular trend for fall, it’s not necessarily one that will be seen as passé in a couple months’ time. I recently splurged on a pair of suede Mary Janes with a gold cap toe, but I have seen cap toe shoes everywhere from Chanel to Payless. Not only that, you can DIY a pair of cap toe shoes quite easily! I do recommend if these shoes are for the corporate environment to spend a bit more – cheap shoes often look that way, wear more quickly, and you can lose credibility or authority speaking to clients in cheap-looking shoes.

Wear cap toe shoes in place of your traditional flats or heels – a pop of color or shine will add depth to your classic ensemble. I love the look of tone on tone cap toes, it’s a great alternative to a classic leather ballet flat!

Wine-colored Lips

It is amazing how lipstick can completely transform not only one’s face but her entire ensemble. Adding a new color of lipstick to your beauty routine will quickly give a new life to your wardrobe classics. This season lips are the color of wines – deep reds, dark berries, and rich plums. While glosses were hot for the summer, this fall lips are more creamy. Stain balms, creamy or matte lipsticks and lip crayons take center stage; pack up your high-shine glosses and shimmery sticks for spring. Lipsticks can come at most any pricepoint, and I do find that department store brands do usually have longer wear and are better to your lips, but there’s some great drugstore products out there that will let you try this trend for less. I have the Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Romance (deep red) and Crush Begun (dark wine) and love them for their longevity, and of-the-moment stain with a hint of shine look.

Colored Skinny Jeans

This summer brought denim in candy colors, this fall the colored denim trend has continued but with shades more appropriate for the season of falling leaves. Skinny stretchy jeans in Bordeaux, navy, dark green, mustard and brown are being paired with slouchy sweaters and ballet flats, blazers and booties, and knits with tall boots. This is a trend that can easily transform your closet of wardrobe staples without paying an arm and a leg. While colored jeans are available from most any designer at all sorts of pricetags, I am a fan of the Old Navy Rockstar skinny jeans – at less than $30 they can help you update your wardrobe classics for very little money.

 

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Summer Fashion: How to Wear the Hottest Denim Washes

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

Rinse, Resin, or Dark Denim:

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

Raw Denim:

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

Trouser Denim:

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

Stonewashed or Enzyme Wash Denim:

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

Faded Denim:

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

Acid Washed Denim:

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

Dirty or Sulfur Wash Denim:

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

Garment-dyed Denim:

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

Sandblasted Denim:

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

Vintage or Aged Denim:

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

Some great denim tips and DIYs from around the Internet:

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Ask Allie: How to Style a Denim Skirt for Fall

I bought this denim skirt and this summer I wore it with a T and TOMS but I don’t really know how to wear it now that it’s getting cold without looking like a school teacher. Advice?

Denim skirts are one of those items that seem like a perfect wardrobe staple, but once you have it you realize it’s quite hard to style without looking dated or costumey. A few tips on how to style a denim skirt like this and have it look modern, fresh, and not at all like a school teacher.

This is not the denim skirt you may have worn in the early ‘00s. Back then, I had several denim skirts: distressed, dark and narrow, a-line and short, and everything in between. I went two ways, Lita Ford (would wear with engineer boots and a band tee or tank), or Faux Professional (with a blazer or ribbed turtleneck and knee-high heeled boots… and sometimes fishnets). This go-round with denim skirts, neither is really the trend. The goal, as it has been with fashion for a few seasons, is a bit of a juxtaposition. Hard with soft, dressy with dressed down. This should be in mind when styling your denim skirt.

How to wear double denim denim skirt shirt


This first look has become the hottest way to rock a denim skirt, thanks to Rihanna. Seen this summer wearing double denim with a leather baseball cap and pumps, this is a great way to make a denim skirt look modern and fresh. To make the look better for the cooling temps and to balance the distressed denim, I paired the look with tough black leather ankle booties and a leather wrap bracelet.  Throw a leather moto jacket over it when the temps drop even more.

what to wear denim skirt fall winter


A true juxtaposition is pairing beat up denim with luxurious silk. Balance the roughness of the skirt with a blouse with feminine details. Ruffles, puffed sleeves, or a pussy bow is the perfect pairing; elegant croco pumps and a leopard clutch continue the juxtaposition, making the styling obviously purposeful.

how to style denim skirt fall winter


This final look is the cool weather version of what you’ve been wearing all summer. Switch out the tee for a chunky cableknit sweater or a chic sweatshirt and the TOMS for sturdy boots for a cooler weather casual look that’s high on style and current trends.

Instead of treating a denim skirt like your jeans or denim shirt, consider it an embellished or creative fabric piece. Instead of having the top be the feature, keep the colors neutral so the skirt can take the spotlight.  By changing your outlook on the classic denim skirt, you’ll find so many new ways to style it in a modern way!

Ask Allie: How to Style a Kilt

I have a knee-length red plaid woolen kilt I picked up on a college trip to Scotland almost 20 years ago. I trek it out once a season or so, usually around the holidays, but I like it and am trying to think of ways to get more wear out of it beyond the expected “Going to the Nutcracker” kind of look. Any ideas?

Yes, that skirt deserves to come out more than once a year! However I do understand the issue with looking too holiday, as though you’re wearing a costume, or trying to be Mid Life Crisis Britney. The best way to wear accomplish this is to style it as though it is not a kilt. Steer clear of traditional pairings and add something unexpected and it will look fresh and modern.

how to style a kilt women

Gray will tone down the red and keep it from feeling Christmas-y. While a cashmere crewneck and white button-front is pretty classic, pairing the look with modern black leather ankle boots keeps it current. Hair and makeup can really make this look; keep both relaxed and a bit disheveled. Beachy waves and a bit of kohl will go a long way and look far more modern than polished hair and red lips.

how to style a kilt scottish woman

Add a bit of a tough edge to your classic kilt with leather. A black leather jacket and biker boots will be a modern contrast. Unlike the above look, style such an ensemble with very polished hair and face to keep it from looking like a costume; smooth hair with red lips and gently flushed cheeks will look fresh.

how to style a scottish kilt women

A bit of purposeful rumpling will take a look from prep overload to modern cool. A gray tweed blazer with a tailored fit is a great pairing for your kilt; roll the sleeves and maybe pop the collar to keep it from feeling like a uniform. A classic Breton tee is a pattern that will mix nicely with the plaid and also keep it from feeling too much like a uniform. A pair of tall boots with a solid heel will finish the look and keep you warm.

How to Wear Radiant Orchid

Every year Pantone comes out with a color of the year and the whole fashion world gets all riled up. Sometimes it’s a color that’s fun and flattering and easy to incorporate, sometimes it’s a big WTF and everyone rants on their blogs and Twitter about how the color SUCKS and they will BOYCOTT it and Pantone is CLUELESS and…

…here’s the thing. No one is putting a gun to your head and telling you to listen to Pantone. If you went through 2013 without a single bit of Emerald in your wardrobe, you’re not alone. Style comes from knowing yourself and expressing it, not from jumping on every trend bandwagon. And if you look like death warmed over in a pinky-purple sort of hue, then please PLEASE do not buy any Radiant Orchid. While I do own some pieces in this color (such as this sleeveless ponte dress from Dobbin Clothing), I doubt I will run out and buy a bunch more in this shade. It’s just not me. Emerald however, though it is passé by Pantone standards, will still be one of my favorite colors and will always have a place in my heart and closet.

Was my title something catchy that would increase pageviews and get me some SEO from Google searches? Eh maybe, though the title was written after the first two paragraphs of this post and I still didn’t have a decent title. And really, I wrote this post because… the way to wear Radiant Orchid is to wear it ONLY IF YOU LIKE IT. If you don’t like it, if it doesn’t flatter you, you don’t need to pair a scarf in its color with a mustard sweater (though I believe that combination would be gaw-geous), or wear it in a skirt with a navy blouse (another pretty pairing), or as a shell under an espresso brown pantsuit (fab), or as shoes with a pumpkin wool dress (how amazing would that pairing be?). Just don’t wear it, don’t buy it, and you can still (I PROMISE) be an incredibly chic and current and stylish human being.

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Trends I Will Never Wear – It’s Not You, It’s Me

I often find myself in a bit of a quandary when you readers ask me for my fashion advice. The thing is, I don’t always like the same things as the masses. What I find to be stylish may be downright fugly to some, and what you may find to be chic may make me shriek.

I try to be diplomatic, but there are just some trends I can’t get behind. They may be hot in your part of the planet, or you are a woman who can really rock the look – if so by all means wear it with pride. However I don’t think any time soon you will see me promoting these trends:

Fashion Trends I Won't Wear - I


Tory Burch flats. They are flats with a big shiny gold logo on the top. I don’t care how popular they are, I don’t understand paying such money to promote a brand. Tory should be paying YOU to wear those shoes.

Coach logo-fabric bags. See above.

Denim cutoffs with tights. I lived the early ‘90s already, I just can’t do it again.

Flatforms. I hate to say this because I said I hated peeptoe booties and now I own a pair. But I just don’t think I can support flatforms… or that they can support me. I am a klutz, these are begging to land me in the ER.

Fashion Trends I Won't Wear - II


Vera Bradley. I agree, the prints can often be quite gorgeous, but when I see quilted fabric I think of… quilts. They will always look like bags you use to carry toiletries in your suitcase (or your knitting) to me.

Sublimation prints. I don’t understand how this trend began. Did a designer accidently have their shirts wrinkled before being screenprinted and try to play it off as though it was on purpose? Was it someone everyone follows like Karl or Marc or… Tory? Otherwise I can’t understand the appeal of wearing a shirt that looks as though it was a mistake.

Visible bra straps (as well as visible underwear and complete bras). I don’t care if it’s part of the look or came down so-and-sos runway this past season, it always looks undone to me. My mom raised me to always have my underpinnings hidden, I just can’t let go of that fashion rule.

Embellished denim. You won’t find me in jeans with embroidery, Swarvoski crystals, silkscreening, cut-outs, or creative washes. These are trends that are just that – trends. I feel that purchasing a pair of blinged-out denim is a waste of money because in two months the trend will be over and it will be a whole new pocket/wash/detail that is “hot.”

Fashion Trends I Won't Wear - III


Sleeveless trench coats. I know many stylish women who have rocked these this spring and summer, but I will never be one of them. I wear coats when I want to stay warm or dry. This is also why I have never owned a fleece or puffer vest.

Maxi dresses at the office. I see fashion bloggers rock this look all the time but I just wonder what sort of workplace they have. I know DC is a bit more conservative than other cities, but I always find it weird when I see a woman on the street in a maxi dress, flat sandals, and then a cardigan to attempt to make their beachside-barbecue getup look more professional.

What trends will you never follow, no matter how popular they become?

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Ask Allie: How to Wear Peplums

Dear Allie, can you give some pointers on how to style a peplum top? I see girls in my office wearing them and they’re super cute, but with skinny black pants, I (and, to be honest, some of my coworkers), end up looking like I’m wearing a skirt that’s too short with black leggings.

How do I balance wanting to show off my shape with not wanting something so full that I end up looking 3 sizes larger than I am? Thanks in advance!

Peplums, we all thought they would be a flash in the pan but from the look of things they’re here to stay, at least through the spring and summer. Here’s some tips on how to wear a peplum top so you don’t look as though you’re wearing a micromini with tights.

A pencil skirt is slim enough to show the shape of the peplum, but not as skinny as skinny pants so you have some shape. A work-appropriate pencil skirt is actually more of a straight skirt, ending right around your knee. Having the exposed leg below will actually make you look more covered and the peplum more appropriate.

Who says you can only pair a peplum with a skinny pant or skirt? Many a blogger (Atlantic-Pacific, me, Delusions of Grandeur, even Olivia Palermo) have successfully paired a peplum with a fuller skirt and found it to be quite an adorable silhouette. The key is to have the peplum out of a softer fabric (jersey, ponte, silk, sweater knit), so it works more like a ruffle than a shelf.

I have the Tahari “Hazel” pants and adore them because they are slim in the rear and on the thighs, but then gracefully flare out above the knee. This way they aren’t too bulky at the top, but still keep me from looking like a lollypop. I wore these pants with a peplum before and liked the look. A pant of a softer fabric (gabardine, silk, lighter-weight suiting fabrics) will drape nicely and not add too much bulk at your midsection. Consider a belt at the seam of the peplum top for additional definition.

Denim, even when skinny, never looks as skinny as regular trousers. A heavyweight pair of jeans in a classic shape (straight, mini bootcut) or a lightweight pair in a fuller silhouette (sailor, trouser) balances a peplum top quite nicely.

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How to Wear the Sheer Fashion Trend

Everywhere you look, chiffon is taking center stage. From see-through tee shirts to maxi skirts with short slips, the sheer trend is hot for summer. One of the most popular variations of this trend is the sheer blouse; it can be an easy way to incorporate this trend into your daily wardrobe. However, without proper planning a sheer blouse could prove to be a wardrobe mistake.

Here are some tips on how to wear a sheer blouse this summer and make it appropriate for day or for play.

Vintage-inspired Blouse

Lace trim, puffed sleeves, pussy bow at the throat – these are blouses that evoke an earlier time. The silhouette is perfect for pairing with a pencil skirt for the office or with jeans and heels for happy hour. How you wear it determines whether it ends up looking appropriate for either situation.

For Day: If the blouse is a solid color, a camisole in the same color will offer modesty and intensify the hue. If it is a print, a nude camisole or one in a lighter color in the print will offer coverage without sacrificing the pattern in the fabric.

To keep things professional, choose a bra that either matches your skin or else the color of the camisole so that it doesn’t show. A camisole in a silky fabric will keep the blouse from sticking to it or bunching. Even though the blouse covers your décolleté, be sure the camisole provides proper coverage – no extreme cleavage, cropped styles, or backs lower than your bra strap. While your blouse may be sheer, it isn’t invisible and your skin will show. On the other hand, a wide-strapped or tank-style layer can ruin the line of the blouse – choose a camisole with straps no wider than a bra or slip to maintain the vintage vibe.

For Play: A solid black bra with full coverage is a sexy way to wear such a blouse – it’s also a cheeky way to play up the prim, vintage silhouette. If you have one, you could also wear a solid bustier. A black or nude camisole is a good option for those who desire more coverage. As with the day option, a slim strap and silky fabric will provide the best effect.

Sheer Tee Shirt

A tee shirt in chiffon, gauze, or a very weathered jersey is a fun addition to the wardrobe. It’s a creative alternative to a classic shell under a work blazer, and is more sexy and stylish than a traditional knit jersey. Here’s how to make such a garment look chic.

For Day: If you work in a creative or casual office, a classic tank top is a great base layer for such a shirt. Choosing a tank in the same color is a safe bet, but this is a great opportunity to try a variation of colorblocking with a tank in a contrast shade or a shade slightly lighter or darker than the tee. The transparency of the tee will create a fun third color for the torso. If you wear the tee untucked, you can either wear the tank untucked for a continuation of the color, or tuck in the tank for a different effect over the color of your skirt or trousers. If you’re wearing under a suit, both the tank or camisole and the tee should be tucked in for a more classic effect.

For Play: As seen in the image above, a bandeau or tube top in the same color will give the necessary modesty without sacrificing the style of the sheer top. The graphic line of a tube or bandeau will complement the sporty cut of a tee shirt and keep it fun and feminine. If the top is off the shoulder, you could also choose a tank top in most any color for a “Flashdance” feel.

Sheer Tunic

Maybe it’s a lacy babydoll dress or a gauzy peasant blouse, possibly it’s a menswear-inspired shirt or an oversized tank – the sheer tunic is a hot look this summer. In a creative office, such a piece could be worn with skinny pants or leggings and for evening or weekend it would look fresh with distressed denim shorts or a pair of denim stovepipes.

For Day: Wearing a tank or camisole in the same color will make an otherwise sultry piece look day-friendly. A gray lace peplum top with gray tank and narrow black trousers could work in many corporate settings if the tank has good coverage and is of a refined fabric (not a ribbed cotton tank, something smooth and possibly with a bit of poly or Lycra to give a silky finish). You could also match the base layer to your skirt or pants, such as a teal sheer tunic with a navy shell and navy trousers. If the piece is printed, stick to the tips for a vintage-inspired blouse and go with a base layer that doesn’t compete with the pattern. Even with these tips, sheer tunics can often be inappropriate for the office – one doesn’t want to look like a fortune teller, a hippie, or a club kid in the workplace. If you aren’t sure, keep the piece for play.

For Play: With such a piece, all things are go. A boho-inspired peasant top would look best with a delicate or feminine base layer (solid bra, skinny-strap camisole, lacy spaghetti-strap tank). Vintage-inspired and modern pieces look great with most anything – this is the time when pattern and color mixing can really work. Consider wearing a floral-print tunic over a leopard-print cami, a sheer red top over a blue tank and green mini skirt, a black lace tunic over a paisley-print tube dress. If you wish to play up the silhouette or fabric of the tunic, consider a bra or camisole free of details and in the same color, black, or a color close to your skin.

Do you like the sheer trend? What is your favorite way to wear such a wardrobe piece?

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Ask Allie: How to Wear Eyelet

Hi Allie, I have an a-line eyelet skirt that my cousin gave me. It’s very pretty but I don’t know how to wear it without looking like Annie Oakley. Any suggestions?

Thanks,
Rebecca

Dear Allie,
I know you recently wrote about how to wear white before Memorial Day, but I just don’t know how to wear it at all, even in the summer. I have this gorgeous white eyelet dress that I fit into again, it’s sleeveless and knee-length with a belt. White shoes look weird, black shoes look harsh. Any suggestions? Should I switch out the belt or wear something underneath?

-Carolina

Oh eyelet, how pretty yet difficult you can be. Carolina and Rebecca, do know you are not alone in trying to figure out how to wear this fabric without looking like a preschooler or as Rebecca said, Annie Oakley. Personally, I steer clear of eyelet for this very reason; just thinking of the fabric reminds me of Easter dresses my mom would sew for me and my sister.

With the return of chambray, friendship bracelets, calico prints, and all things from the late ‘80s or an episode of the original Beverly Hills 90210, we’re also seeing a return of eyelet. Both of you women have items in your closet that would probably be highly coveted in a trendy vintage boutique. There are ways to wear it without looking like a child, a pioneer, or a Saved By the Bell reject.

How to Wear Eyelet:

Tough but Sweet. Diamonds and denim, leather and lace. There’s a reason why these combinations are so popular. Pairing a girly fabric with a tough one balances the two out. Take that eyelet dress and pair it with a wide leather belt with lots of metal hardware and some beat up engineer boots. Wear that eyelet skirt with a leather biker jacket to balance it out.

Go vintage. Is the piece a vintage silhouette? Then play up the cute factor. Wear the eyelet skirt with a wide belt and a blouse with puffed sleeves or a bow at the neck. Wear the dress with a ponytail tied with an oblong scarf and carry a frame clutch bag. Without adding too many touches, you can make your eyelet piece look purposefully retro without verging on costumey.

Go neutral. Wear your eyelet dress with some tan sandals and a tan woven belt and very simple jewelry. The eyelet skirt with a pale yellow tank and tan flat sandals, a slim gold bangle bracelet. Accentuate the fabric, show off the detail, let it steal the show and let everything else fade into the background. Think breezy, light, summery.

What Not to Do:

  • Pair with denim. This is a quick way to look like an extra from Little House on the Prairie if you are unsure of what you are doing.
  • Wear with white shoes. I don’t really believe in white shoes unless you are a nurse or a bride; a pair of tan or beige shoes are far more versatile, on-trend, and will make your legs look miles long.
  • Pretend it’s not eyelet. So many times I see women try to play off eyelet clothing as just plain cotton. They pair it with crisp button-down shirts in primary colors, knit tops with surplice necklines, fitted sweaters in candy-colored hues. Eyelet is a unique fabric, and should be treated as such. When you try to ignore the fact that it is textured and often a floral print, and a distant cousin of lace you’re setting yourself up for sartorial disaster. Embrace the eyelet, or leave it on the hanger.

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How to Look Current: Fashion Trends to Keep or Retire for 2014

We’ve had a few crazy seasons of fashion, where color, statements, and whimsy were embraced. And I think that’s great, it gave women a true opportunity to have fun with fashion, to embrace something new and step out of the box that we were in for quite a long while. But when a trend is good, it often ends up becoming too popular and ends up losing all the charm that made it popular in the first place.

I don’t believe in chasing every fashion trend, and I believe that if something really fits with your personal style you can wear it even after it has left the retail stores. Look at a street style blog (or Advanced Style my favorite site for style inspiration) and you’ll see many a fashionista sporting last year’s hemline, heel height, color, or It Bag with amazing style. But if you haven’t yet defined your personal style, it’s good to be aware of trends, and to know when to let go of passing trends to stay current. Wearing trends past their prime overshadows any progress you have made in defining your personal style. With a new season upon us, I ask you to reexamine the trendy pieces in your wardrobe and decide if you’re wearing them because they help define your personal style or if you’re riding a trend train that has already left the station.

Bubble Necklaces. When there’s a display in Walmart featuring these necklaces in every color of the rainbow for only $5.00, it’s time to let the trend go. Bubble necklaces were great, they added a wonderful pop of color to a neutral outfit and really dressed up a simple knit top or dress. Heck, I wore my red bubble necklace to death (see here and here). But this style of necklace is no longer popular. J. Crew started the bubble necklace trend, and you won’t find anything on their site that even slightly resembles them. Look at celebs and style bloggers and you’ll see they aren’t wearing them any more.

Alternative: If you desire a big pop of color on top, consider a scarf; for spring a gauzy lightweight scarf won’t add too much bulk or heat and can look very on trend. If you desire a longer necklace, consider a chain with a pendant (a horn, crystal, or natural-inspired piece is current but not too trendy). If you like the bold statement, statement necklaces are still popular, but they’re shorter and more about pastels and sparkle than big pieces of primary-colored plastic and enamel.

Shop this look: skirt | scarf | bag

Chevron. Oh gosh, has chevron been popular! From infinity scarves to maxi skirts to area rugs and cell phone covers, I think chevron print will always be synonymous with the beginning of the ‘10s. Chevrons remain popular for those with a preppy personal style but for others the print may look quite dated.

Alternative: To achieve the clean look of chevron stripes, consider classic straight stripes. This season I’ve seen a lot of mixing stripes, be it different colors, or a mini stripe mixed with a larger bolder one. If you’re looking for a scarf to jazz up wardrobe staples, consider a fun floral, or a mixed-print scarf. But don’t be afraid to leave the crispness of chevron and try something a bit softer, more unexpected, or subtle. You may find the transition to be a refreshing change!

Sock Buns and Topknots and Barbie Hair. This season is letting hair be hair, with all its bendy, unruly, wacky glory. The slicked back, very crisp looks are over, and we should all celebrate. It has been a few years of hard hair to achieve without a lot of hot tools and many have resorted to falls and extensions to make it work. Retire the fake hair and keratin treatments and allow your hair to show its true self. Let it be long, cut it into a pixie, or consider the lob – a long bob that is long enough for a quick ponytail but not so long it takes an hour to perfect.  A good way to see the change in hair trends is to look at Taylor Swift; Google pictures of her in 2013 and see thick straight bangs and long hair.  This year she has allowed a bend, texture, and even cut off some of that length.

Alternative: If you wish to put up your hair, allow it to be relaxed and a bit messy. Consider putting it half up and allow it to be disheveled a la Brigitte Bardot. Let it be down, and embrace your Bad Hair Day. I type this with what I have decided to call Diane von Furstenberg Hair; my hair is frizzy, it parts in the middle and likes to feather away from my face. This spring I am going to allow it to do it more instead of forcing it into submission with bangs and perfectly crafted waves or curls.

Shop this look: bucket bag | earrings | shoes

Neon. Don’t get me wrong, neon is still a fashion statement in 2014. However, we just went through a period where everyone was wearing big neon yellow statement necklaces, hot pink patent platform pumps, Breton tees done in acid green and fluorescent yellow, and lot of clear and Lucite neon accessories. It was a popular way to dress up a little black dress or make denim and chambray really pop. The thing is every time neon shows up, it comes on too strong and ruins the moment for everyone. Keep the neon tank, the skinny belt, the cashmere sweater but instead pair them with gray, khaki, and olive for an unexpected and more luxe look.

Alternative: Consider not needing that pop of color. Omigod, did I just WRITE THAT? Yes, it is possible to have your outfit look cohesive without a bright belt or necklace or shoe or bag or lip or jacket. After seasons of BRIGHT and BOLD and POP it’s a breath of fresh air to have an ensemble that isn’t carefully crafted and held together with accessories.  If you do desire color, consider a pastel or an icy pale version of the fluorescent brights; they seem subtle but can add much impact to your look!

Shop this look: blue dress | yellow dress

Peplum. I remember peplums from the ‘80s and swore I wouldn’t revisit the trend… and then I bought a peplum top and a peplum dress. I found the trend to be very wearable and an easy way to update the wardrobe. While I don’t think you have to burn every peplum in your closet, I don’t recommend purchasing any more of them and retiring the Judy Jetson-esque stiff extreme peplums you may own.

Alternative: Draping. An asymmetrical hem or draping and rouching can add that level of interest and architecture that made peplums so popular and at the same time flatters curves and camouflages areas you wish to not be on display.

Arm Parties. You all KNOW I love my bracelets. With large breasts and a metal allergy that makes earrings uncomfortable, my wrist is a way to play with jewelry and add color or shine to an outfit. But even I, the bracelet junkie, am paring down. This doesn’t mean get rid of all your bracelets, but wear fewer at a time. I used to wear my gold Citizen watch with a bangle, a chain bracelet, a stretch bracelet, and a bead one; now I pair it with only one or two pieces.

Alternative: Quality, not quantity. Stop buying the cheap flash, and save your pennies for a piece that really speaks to your personal style and makes a statement without yelling. As to what it is, it doesn’t really matter this year; you can wear any color of metal, any textile, any shape as long as it works with the rest of your wardrobe and isn’t paired with 20 other ones.

What trends are are you glad to see retiring this spring?  Which trends will you continue to embrace because they fit your personal style?

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Ask Allie: How to Dress for a Wedding Without a Dress Code

I have a wedding to go, and ever since the wedding where I dressed fancier than the bride (I wore a simple velvet sheath!) I have a horror of wearing the wrong thing. The wedding is at 4, with cocktails, dinner, and reception to follow, all at the same venue, an “event center.” Essentially a ballroom. I did email the bride and she just said “We don’t really have a dress code. Not black tie but not sweats and a t-shirt. Well, there’s a LOT in between there. Jersey maxidress? Sparkly mini? My feet are likely to be swollen so I’m leaning toward something I can wear flat sandals with, but other than that I’m kind of at a loss what to wear.

Event planners and brides to be… please understand that a dress code isn’t snooty or pretentious, it’s a helpful guide for loved ones who want to ensure your event is great. A specified dress code will reduce stress on your guests and ensure you don’t end up with anyone in black tie or sweats and a tee shirt!

That being said, this is the type of event where I pull out my black crepe sheath dress. Sleeveless, simple neckline, skims the figure, hits the knees; it’s simple and easy to dress up or down. For a wedding that starts at 4pm you can accessorize a dress in a multitude of ways to make it look festive yet appropriate for a crowd in khakis or a dancefloor full of sequins.  Of course, the dress does not have to be black, but it’s a color you often already have in your closet.

You mentioned the desire to wear flat sandals, and for a wedding at an event center I’d keep flat sandals to a midi to maxi length dress or skirt. While traditional jersey maxi dresses would likely be too casual for a wedding at this hour, one in matte jersey or with a chiffon overlay would be perfect and just as easy to fit in with a more casual or more dressy crowd.  Again, black is not the only color; a bright or pastel hue would be quite festive and appropriate for an August wedding.

Both types of dresses are extremely versatile. A lined sheath in crepe, triacetate, silk, or a blend can be worn to work, dressed up for a cocktail party with strappy heels and sparkly jewelry, or made more casual with nude pumps and wood accessories (see my post on how to style a black sheath four ways). A matte jersey or chiffon maxi dress can also lead multiple lives; I wore a black matte jersey maxi as the matron of honor at a relatively formal wedding, then wore to a garden wedding with gold flat sandals and even wore to a bridal shower with brown sandals and wood and leather jewelry. Not only that, these fabrics are seasonless making a dress purchased in the summer wearable for holiday parties on your event calendar!

Ask Allie: What to Wear to a Summer Funeral

I know it’s a somber topic, but I live in a hot climate and I have a relative who is ill and in hospice. I realized today that I have no idea what is okay for a funeral in a VERY hot climate.

what to wear to a hot summer wedding

The most important thing to factor when dressing for a funeral, is dressing out of respect. First, consider the religion of the service, then dress in a way that shows you understand the formality of the situation and that you know you are not the subject of attention. A good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t wear it to church or to an office where it’s Business Attire (not Business Casual), it’s not appropriate for a funeral.

These days, a sleeveless dress and bare legs is appropriate at most American funerals, especially when it’s a very hot climate. Consider a lightweight cardigan if there’s a service inside the house of worship and a hat to protect yourself from the sun at the grave site. If your shoulders are bared, your neckline should be very modest, the fit not too tight, and the hemline at the knee.

In your email, you mentioned a maxi dress and while it wouldn’t be inappropriate to wear a long skirt, many maxi dress styles these days are lightweight jersey and have low necklines. If you have one that is of a dressier fabric (cotton sateen, crepe jersey, linen, silk blend) and doesn’t show off your décolleté, it can work. Again, if you wouldn’t wear it to church or to work, I’d consider something else.

Pants are acceptable for less religious funerals, and can be far more comfortable in the heat. Linen trousers (not drawstring slouchy pants) with a silk or crepe shell is perfectly acceptable.

As for color, black is not necessary these days; as long as the color doesn’t scream “look at me!” it’s acceptable. Muted colors like navy, olive, plum, mauve, gray, taupe, and brown are acceptable. If you wear a print, it should be very subtle (watercolor prints, tone on tone). Again consider the religion before choosing the color; some only wear black, some wear white, and some encourage bright jewel tones.

As for fabric, as long as it’s not too casual (denim) or too formal (satin), it’s okay in such heat. Linen and cotton is acceptable if it’s in more formal of cuts and ironed before wearing.

Accessories set the tone for your outfit; keep the sparkly necklaces and statement shoes at home. A simple pair of leather shoes in a neutral, a delicate chain necklace or a strand of pearls, a leather bag free of adornments that complements the color of your outfit. If there is a grave site service, choose a wedge or flat shoe so your heels don’t sink into the grass. Though you may be seeing many people from your past, it’s not a high school reunion and not a time to show off your sartorial skills.

Finally, what you wear is not as important as your attendance. Few will even notice what you’re wearing; as long as you don’t dress to receive attention you will be just fine. My heart goes out to you and your family during this difficult time.

Ask Allie: Capsule Wardrobe for Cruise and Resort Evenings

I LOVE your wardrobe capsules. They are always amazing. I would love to see a simple mix and match capsule for evening. Specifically, I just returned from a 10-day cruise of the Caribbean. It was amazing, with one glitch. The evening dress code was smart casual; and on a cruise ship this is more dressy than I expected (I’m from California, where jeans are cocktail attire!). I was woefully underdressed with dowdy shoes. I usually travel with black and white clothing, but a color capsule would be awesome too!

While I haven’t been on a cruise for a few years, I have experienced the issue of “smart casual” and formal nights on cruise ships, and understand how hard it is to dress appropriately for the situation. Not only are you dealing with limited luggage space, but you have folks from all over the globe dressing in all sorts of different manners. I found it’s best to pack simple garments and statement-making accessories.

Three years ago, I was asked to be in my friend’s wedding and she let me pick any black dress I desired as my Matron of Honor gown. I got a black matte jersey maxi dress from Calvin Klein that had twisted straps that were thin but thick enough to cover my bra, a faux wrap skirt, and a self-tie belt. I wore that dress for the wedding with black heeled sandals and a statement necklace. A few months later I attended a destination wedding in Charleston, South Carolina and wore that same dress with flat gold sandals, gold dangly earrings, and an armful of gold bangles. I also wore that dress with beaded earrings and a weathered brown leather belt and brown leather thongs. My point is that such a dress is surprisingly versatile. Choosing a silky jersey (Rachel Pally dresses fit the bill, are a classic style and come in a broad range of sizes) or matte jersey (Calvin Klein continues to have great options season after season) maxi dress means you can dress it up or down with ease and it will travel well (few wrinkles, any you get can come out easily if in the room with a hot shower).

Here I took a simple black maxi dress and showed how a switch of accessories can completely transform it. I know you mentioned comfort shoes in a different part of your Ask Allie request, so I chose shoes that aren’t sky-high. The wedge can easily be lower or even flat – another perk of maxi dresses is that they look great with flat shoes and said shoes aren’t the focal point of the ensemble.

A black maxi dress is a great choice if you have a formal night, but many cruises and resorts just require “smart casual” or “festive” attire. This capsule wardrobe helps you pack light but with many options:

  1. Maxi skirt with sequined tank and black sandals
  2. Maxi skirt with orange top and gold sandals
  3. Maxi skirt with a simple neutral tank or tee in your luggage, gold belt and gold sandals
  4. Black jersey pants with sequined top and black sandals
  5. Black jersey pants with orange top and black sandals
  6. Black jersey pants with sheer top and black sandals
  7. White jeans with any of the three tops and gold sandals (add the hoops, bracelet, and belt for discothèque drama)
  8. Black jersey tee shirt dress with black sandals
  9. Black dress with gold belt and gold sandals
  10. Black skirt with any of the tops and either sandals

This can be dressed up with a different choice of shoe (a heel is always seen as more formal), switching the pants to a tuxedo or shantung cigarette pant, the skirt to something sparkly, the dress to something more form-fitting or dramatic in silhouette. However, I used this based upon my own experiences on cruises and at resorts, where some nights you will find folks in full-length gowns, the other nights in club attire or sundresses. Solid colors and fabrics like matte jersey and stretch silk look elegant while being travel-friendly and versatile. These pieces can also be worn during the day – the orange top would be adorable with olive chino shorts, either of the skirts with a simple tank top, the dress could even be a beach coverup.

Choosing a single concept for accessories lightens your luggage load – I chose gold jewelry because it’s easier to find decent-looking costume pieces and instantly adds glamour. I really believe in a long necklace of chain or sparkly beads like jet – it really changes the silhouette of any ensemble and can make the simplest dress look chic. The addition of a belt, be it a scarf cummerbund, a leather obi, or a gold chain can quickly change the shape of a dress, add definition to a monochromatic ensemble, or dress up a simple tank and maxi skirt. Using color sparingly and thoughtfully will give extra miles to neutral pieces – the skirt could easily be switched to a neutral or a bold hue, the orange top could be a print or another dressy fabric, all the black pieces could be gray or ivory. This just gives an example of how very simple pieces can create an elegant and festive evening wardrobe for a vacation.



 

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Nightime to Day: How to Wear Formal Fabrics Before 5pm

I can’t help but think of the jingle for for the now-defunct Citizen’s Bank of Maryland when I see today’s evening for day fashion trends. Daytime, nighttime, Saturday too… current trends are encouraging fabrics and embellishments that had previously been reserved for after 5pm.

How does one wear evening fabrics for daytime without looking inappropriate?

Intention

I think intention makes the difference between looking as though you’re walking the runway or the walk of shame in last night’s cocktail dress. Knowing that a lace pencil skirt is NOT the same as one of wool gabardine, and not trying to wear it as such. Being very aware of how fabrics change when they hit the light, when you walk in them, and balancing formal fabrics with those that complement or downplay their formality.

Fabric Choice

A luxe fabric will look ridiculous if paired with the wrong type of fabric. Unfortunately there is no black and white rule about what to wear with evening fabrics. A crisp white shirt will look splendid with a pair of hot pink shantung cropped pants, but will be utterly awkward with a beaded chiffon midi skirt. That same crisp shirt in black could easily look too casual and scruffy for those pants. Here’s some suggestions on pairings with formal pieces:

With glitzy skirts (sequins, beading, metallic lace or brocade):
1. Crisp white shirt – tightly woven cotton ironed to perfection. Sleeves crisply rolled or left cleanly buttoned at the right place on the wrist. Just a couple buttons unbuttoned – not too low, just enough to elongate the neckline. So accomplish the white shirt, it needs to be very white, very crisp, very well tailored. Steer clear of ruffles, pintucks, or anything resembling a tuxedo – you need to downplay the formality of the skirt.

Blogger Stylish Curves mixes sequins with chambray

2. Denim or dark chambray – if the shirt has a crisp shape and body to it, denim or chambray can be an amazing pair with formal fabrics. Denim has been a popular pairing with glitzy fabrics since the Studio 54 days – it is just important how to do it. Keep it crisp, keep it free of fancy washes, embellishments, or unusual silhouettes. If it is denim, have it fit to a tee; if it’s chambray it can be a bit more relaxed in shape but not sloppy. Choose a medium to darker shade – faded denim and chambray can easily look messy and dated. If you roll the sleeves, roll them evenly; always iron so it’s not too drastic of a contrast with the skirt.

3. Cashmere and merino – Cashmere is a natural pairing with formal fabrics – it’s a luxe fabric, but unlike sequins and silk it doesn’t reflect light. Merino is a tightly woven wool knit that is a more budget-friendly option (and easier to care for). A classic silhouette such as a fitted crewneck or turtleneck is a wonderful choice with formal fabrics. As with denim, steer clear of fancy silhouettes, embellishments, or baggy shapes. The key to making this look day-worthy is having a day-worthy sweater – something hanging off the shoulder, with a deep neckline or details like puffed sleeves will be too evening-like to work.

With flouncy skirts (lace, chiffon, tulle):
1. Cashmere or merino – same rules apply here.

2. A tailored jacket – I love wearing my tiered ivory lace skirt with a fitted black suiting blazer – it really tempers the cutsey factor of the dressy fabric. The jacket should be a very classic fabric – gabardine, worsted wool, linen. It should fit well – no boyfriend shapes with such a skirt. Again, you are balancing the flounce of the skirt with a structured piece on top.

Blogger Not Dead Yet Style pairs her chiffon skirt with a boxy sweater

3. A boxy top – A great way to keep that skirt from making you look like a prima ballerina is to balance it with a boxy lightweight sweater or knit. This tempers the froth, and makes the combination look purposeful, not as though you just dashed to the office after a performance of Swan Lake.

With Dressy Pants (silk, shantung, velvet):
1. Crisp white shirt – again, it’s a perfect piece to balance such busy-ness on the bottom.

2. Merino or Cashmere – keep it simple, keep it crisp. Turtleneck, crewneck, boatneck, simple tee. Choose a color that is subtle – this is not the time for colorblocking. Black, gray, brown, olive (surprisingly elegant with muted metallics as well as pinks and purples) are all smart choices.

Blogger Fashion Zen makes chiffon pants work for day with a simple tee and chunky shoes

3. Refined tee shirt True Fashionistas can carry off the look of a simple tee with formal pants. This look is very dependent on the right shoes and accessories – I don’t recommend everyone grab a Hanes and a pair of silk cigarette pants and head to the office. It is a real balance of fabrics and silhouettes and this balance varies from woman to woman.

With Glitzy Tops (sequined tanks, beaded tops, lurex cardigans):
I find many of these sorts of tops to rarely be day-appropriate. Unlike a beaded pencil skirt, which has the shape and structure of a traditional daytime piece, a beaded top just screams Club Top. However, with some very careful pairing and choice in sparkly blouse, it can work.

1. A light-colored topper – A white blazer with white sequined tank and jeans or trousers can work because of the pale hue. A gold lurex cardigan with a soft gold silk cami and camel blazer can be quite chic with denim or ivory trousers. Using the luxe fabric to create a pale-hued monoblocking trend makes sparkle and shine more daytime-appropriate. Stick with pale shades – ivory, dove gray, cadet blue, blush pink, peach, pale gray-green – this will keep the sparkle subtle and more luxe than nightclub.

2. Denim – again, denim balances dressy fabrics beautifully. A sequin-embellished cardigan can look too twee with a pencil skirt and pumps, but if worn on Casual Friday with dark crisp denim and simple camisole, it can be quite charming.

3. A complete suit – if you wear a classic gray, tan, or taupe suit with a light-colored glitzy top, it can work for day time. The subtle colors balance out the sparkle, and end up adding texture and interest to a classic boardroom ensemble. Black and ivory don’t work as well – they can easily veer into cocktail party attire.

Style Choice

When wearing these formal fabrics, it’s very important to balance them out with the silhouettes and styles of coordinating pieces. The reason I often mention denim and crisp white shirts is because they have very structured, classic, and day-appropriate shapes. Choosing pieces that contradict your dressy piece will make it look intentional and appropriate.

Blogger 9to5Chic makes a dressy skirt day-appropriate with a preppy sweater & shirt combination

Schoolboy prep, severe modern, rocker chic – these are trends that contradict formal fabrics and balance them for daytime. A prep school-inspired blazer with a frothy chiffon skirt, a leather biker jacket with a sequined pencil skirt, distressed denim with a Victorian-inspired lace blouse, tweed cuffed trousers with a beaded cashmere sweater – the mix is the key to making this trend work.

Shoe Choice

Again, success in wearing evening fabrics for daytime is all about intention. You can’t rock a crisp white shirt and champagne-colored sequined skirt with a pair of black interview pumps, you can’t wear velvet trousers with your driving mocs. While you don’t want to wear overly casual or conservative shoes with such garments, you also don’t want to show up at the office in silk D’Orsay pumps or metallic heeled sandals. As with the fabric pairings, you want something that properly tempers the formality of the garment.

EmileM on LOOKBOOK.nu balances her frothy skirt with booties

A shoe with some substance (caged sandal, platform pump, ankle bootie, wedge) usually is the best choice. Wearing an on-trend shoe with some heft shows that you are dressing with intention – your ensemble was put together with purpose, you didn’t accidently throw on your bridesmaid dress instead of your gray wool jersey shift. Color is also important – as with the sweaters and tops with dressy fabrics, you want your shoe to be a color to balance, not draw attention. Black, gray, and taupe are all wise choices that show substance and intention. Steer clear of any additional glitz – keep zippers and hardware to a minimum, and leave your shiny fabrics and crystal embellishments for evening affairs.

Pieces that Don’t Translate for Daytime

Glitzy jackets – I got the most adorable black sequined jacket off eBay for $12.99. Round neck, hidden hook and eye closure – cut more like a classic cardigan but all black sequins with black beaded trim. In my head, I saw it with a simple white tank and flowing trousers for work, maybe mixing patterns with a black and ivory dotted silk shirt underneath and ivory pants. Then I tried on the piece, stood in daylight instead of my bedroom and realized I looked like Corporate Liza Mineli.

Unless you work in a creative field, sequined and beaded jackets don’t work for daytime. A bit of sparkle – some beading on the trim of a blazer, a sequined tonal pattern on the front of the cardigan – this can work in less conservative offices and environments. However a full-on disco ball should be left to after 5pm.

Cocktail dresses – I know your best friend told you that the bridesmaid dress you bought for her wedding could be worn again. She didn’t mean it could be worn to the office. I have written about this before, but no matter what cardigan or blazer you put over that satin number, it’s still a cocktail dress and it should be worn only for cocktail affairs.

This seems to be the crime against formal fabrics that I see the most – women on the streets of DC in ruched silk dupioni sheaths, trying to tone them down with opaque tights, a structured blazer and sensible pumps. Women in black lace overlay v-neck cocktail frocks covered paired with wrap sweaters and tall boots. I don’t care what Lucky claims you can remix, a cocktail dresses are extremely hard to transform into day attire.

Blogger Style Pantry tempers a chiffon maxi with a denim blazer


Frothy maxi skirts – When I see Style Pantry’s personal style, I swoon. This woman has an amazing knack for dressing down formal pieces (and knows how to wear color too!). She can totally and completely rock a chiffon or lace maxi skirt with a simple denim shirt and make you feel as though you can do it too. And you can… if you work in a very creative field and are a True Fashionista. The rest of us? Keep the ballskirts for the holiday fetes.

Formal shoes – Please leave your silk, satin, and velvet pumps and peeptoes, your rhinestone-encrusted and metallic delicate strappy heels in your closet until evening. Even if your pump is black, if it is of a formal fabric it is not daytime appropriate.

Most Important Tip!

Do as your supervisors do, not as your favorite fashion does. While many of us will sport sequins, satin, and shantung during the daylight hours, that doesn’t mean it is acceptable in every place of work. I always quote the supervisor I had when I was a visual merchandiser, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” Notice what those in higher positions are wearing – even if they aren’t as fashion-minded as you, do you think they would wear such fabrics if they were? If you work in an office of wrinkle-free chinos and pique polos, these sorts of garments may be pushing the envelope a bit too far.

If you wish to test your office environment, start small. A silk blouse in an unexpected color, a statement necklace with crystals and glitz, maybe a sparkly skinny belt over your sheath dress. See how it goes over – if you are receiving a lot of comments on how “bold” or “fun” your outfit is, that is often the polite way of saying you may have gone too far. A true test is an honest compliment by a superior… or even more – a day without a single person batting an eye. An office is not a runway – never let your outfit overshadow your talent.

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Ask Allie – How to Wear a Coat/Reclaim an Artsy Side

Hi Allie,

I am the very lucky recipient of a short, boxy and gorgeous Persian Lamb wool coat. However, as a working mom of five with basically a wardrobe of fleece, canvas winter coat, ratty old Coach tote…well, I don’t know how to wear it. It is soft, warm and light, but I feel like it is too dressy for any of my ‘ensembles.’ Also, the jacket is black and typically I’m wearing brown.

Can a great coat go with anything? Or does it look weird to mix in a really nice jacket with a pretty rough wardrobe? I’d love it if this coat could get me back to the artsy wardrobe I used to have…but then I’m also now 43 and not sure what to wear anymore…

Thanks,
Sarah

Hi Sarah:

What a lucky duck you are, that coat sounds fabulous! I am betting from the description is is vintage? 

Though it does sound fab, I must agree, it wouldn’t be the best accent to a wardrobe of fleece and canvas.

However, you mention that you wish you could get back to your artsy wardrobe – I think this coat is in your possession for this sole purpose – to bring you back to your true self, and reclaim your true personal style! Many people (myself included) can be inspired by a single garment and build a successful and satisfying wardrobe off it.

Such a coat can be shown off with very simple casual wardrobe pieces. Dark jeans with a straight silhouette, turtlenecks in deep solid colors, fitted tee shirts in solid colors, denim skirts with thick opaque tights, tall boots, narrow cords in ivory or gray. Slowly replace your worn pieces in your wardrobe with situation-appropriate equivalents in quality fabrics and rich colors for a great base wardrobe that works alone or with this fabulous coat.

Use this coat as a catalyst for your artsy wardrobe – when shopping, think of the coat. Think WHY you think it is so gorgeous, and so inspiring. Is it the texture? The vintage styling? The way it is a statement piece? When you see an accessory that hits you in the same way as the coat, it may be the perfect piece to tie together your garments into an artsy wardrobe. Buy less, but buy quality so the pieces can last through many wears and washes.

As for black with brown, it is actually quite a stylish look right now. A black Persian lamb coat has its own texture and sheen and can work with most anything. I can see it with an ivory turtleneck, dark jeans, brown tall boots and brown leather gloves, or with a brown crewneck and tweed trousers for very basic day looks. And this coat does sound perfect for any time you do wish to dress up – a simple sheath would look positively glam with it!

It is never too late to reclaim your personal style. The best way to do it is to rid yourself of all the items in your wardrobe that are ill-fitting, damaged, worn, or just plain NOT RIGHT. Then slowly build up a base wardrobe of simple pieces that can work most anywhere for any situation (check out my list of wardrobe staples for any woman). Once you have an established base wardrobe, you can start infusing your personal style with prints, accessories, and statement pieces that will showcase your beautiful body AND artistic side!

Good luck, and enjoy your coat!

-Allie

How to Rock a Crop Top

How to Style a Crop Top

The crop top is back. I know, I know, I hear your moaning through the Internet. I wore crop tops in high school when I was channeling Kelly Kapowski, when this trend showed up on runways I KNEW it was one I would not revisit. However, brilliant style bloggers across the globe have been proving that anyone can carry off a crop top this summer, and here’s some tips on how to rock the crop without looking like a Fly Girl:

Pair with a High-waisted Bottom

When a crop top is partnered with a skirt or pant that starts above the belly button, a crop top can be downright flattering. The smallest part on a woman’s body is usually at the bottom or right below the rib cage; a crop top and high-waisted bottom highlight this area, and your sliver of skin flatters in the same manner a wide belt does. Having the visible skin so high prevents muffin top, and showing your belly button or post-baby stretch marks. While this pairing can work with most any type of top and bottom, the combination of a fitted top and fuller skirt or pants is both figure flattering and on trend (and with a fitted top there’s no chance you’ll flash your bra). Great examples of this trend can be seen on Jay Miranda and Girl With Curves.

Wear Over a Dress

Gosh, why didn’t I think of this? I’ll admit, seeing this outfit on The Classy Cubicle was when I started realizing crop tops can look modern and be age-appropriate. Treat a boxy crop top like a cropped jacket and pair with a simple sheath to update your workweek wardrobe staples or to freshen up your Date Night LBD. Also on Refinery 29, they featured an editor wearing a striped tank dress with a different striped crop top over it and the combination was fun and very wearable.

Layer over a Longer Top

You’ll see retailers have already thought of this combination, styling mannequins in this manner and also selling shirts that create this effect. I love this top from Vince Camuto; it looks like two tops, achieves the crop top look, but has enough coverage to wear at more casual workplaces or weekends when you don’t want to flash a ton of skin.

Get Matchy Matchy

When the top and bottom are the same color and/or fabric, the flash of your midsection isn’t as obvious and doesn’t feel so risqué. Mindy Kaling wore a jacquard crop top and skirt to an event and it worked because it was a matched set, the skirt was high, and the sliver of skin showcased the slimmest part of her figure.

Play with Volume

Not every crop top is fitted, and a bit of volume can make this shorter silhouette far more wearable.  The Tiny Closet shows how a floaty crop top can be quite flattering; while the post linked has her wearing it with higher-waist pants, she wears this top often with all sorts of bottoms. The August Diaries pairs a boxy crop with a high-low hemline with a skirt that is fitted on top, creating a balanced silhouette. I love this eyelet crop top with matching full maxi; both pieces in the same color gives a feel of a dress, the cropped top flattering the figure in the same manner as a belt. Adding volume is a great way to balance your frame and keep cool as the temps rise.

 

What do you think about the return of the crop top? Are you willing to try this trend?

 

From GetRichSlowly.org: How To Stop Buying Clothes You Never Wear

This week, Get Rich Slowly featured an article by staff writer April Dykman entitled, “How to Stop Buying Clothes You Never Wear.”  This article takes ideas from  fashion designers, writers and bloggers and creates a how-to for all people, regardless of age, lifestyle and gender.  I think this article is a great resource for any person who is looking to clean up her wardrobe or wishes to start shopping smart.  I also think this article is great because Dykman linked to Wardrobe Oxygen! :)  I am honored to be part of a great article which is on a wonderful Web site!

Go check out Get Rich Slowly, and April Dykman’s article!

What I Wore and a Giveaway – Ruth Barzel Jewelry Design

Shirt: c/o Foxcroft | Jeans: Gap | Shoes: Halogen (similar) | Necklace: c/o Ruth Barzel Jewelry Design | Watch: Citizen c/o WatchCo | Bag: Brahmin (similar)

Accessories can transform the most basic wardrobe staples and make pieces a cohesive outfit. I just received this necklace from Ruth Barzel Jewelry Design and while it is BEGGING to be styled with an LBD for the holidays or worn with a beautiful silk blouse, I thought it could really make a statement with a simple white shirt and dark jeans. I haven’t carried my Brahmin bag in a while, and I thought the bright blue really made the emerald necklace pop!

Giveaway:

If you like this necklace and the other beautiful pieces I have featured from Ruth Barzel Jewelry Design, well today’s your lucky day! One Wardrobe Oxygen reader will win a $100 store credit to Ruth Barzel Jewelry Design!

Ruth Barzel makes all her unique pieces in the United States and is a local-yokel to me.  Not only that, she’s an awesome human being!  While I love the Emerald Quartz Nugget Statement Necklace I’m wearing here, I also love wearing her Blue Quartz Pendant Necklace and wear her Mixed Metal Chain Bracelet on a weekly basis. Ruth has offered all Wardrobe Oxygen readers 20% off her entire store, just use code OXYGEN20.  This discount will be in effect until the end of November, 2013.

How to Enter:
Please use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. This contest is open to both US and international readers. Contest ends November 30, 2013 at midnight ET.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
As a reminder, if you can’t wait for the giveaway to end and want to get yourself some jewelry from Ruth Barzel, use the code OXYGEN20 at checkout for 20% off your order!

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Friday: Denim Day!

Sweater: Ann Taylor (similar) | Shirt: CAbi (similar) | Jeans: c/o Liverpool Jeans Company | 
Boots: DUO (similar) | Silver cuff

It’s FRIDAY!! I know I only worked three days this week, but it was so hard getting back into the grind. It’s nice to have a little break to recoup and get properly back into the swing of things. However, this weekend is Emerson’s 4th birthday party and I have done diddly other than send out invites and make a grocery list. Tonight we’ll be taking down the tree, tomorrow cleaning like mad people and trying to whip up some decor or theme, and Sunday we’ll be overloaded with family and toddler friends. Last year we invited three of Emerson’s friends to her party, this year we asked her who she wanted there. It’s fun to have her at an age where she has favorite friends and knows them and is excited to “be a hostess” to them!

Since it was an early day, no fancy husband photos, just a MySpace-esque shot in the office bathroom. However I couldn’t pass up on an outfit post because I have fallen madly in love with Liverpool Jeans. Last week I wore their Sadie Straight Jeans, these are their Abby Skinny Jeans. I must admit when I opened the package and saw they sent me skinny jeans my heart fell. I usually can’t pull skinny jeans up over my calves, they are so wide. If I can shimmy them on, they looked painted on and highlight all the aspects of my legs that I don’t want highlighted. I was really surprised that they fit, aren’t cutting off circulation to my feet, feel great on, and don’t stretch out so much during the day that I can slide them off without unbuttoning (hello Old Navy). Liverpool Jeans slim and lift like other popular brands, but with a lower pricepoint and cute details like Beatles lyrics printed on the inside. I love that they hold their shape during the day – no exposed undies or baggy knees by lunchtime. Over the holiday break I pretty much lived in my two pairs of Liverpools. Liverpool Jeans are currently available at Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Dillard’s, Amazon, as well as 1600+ specialty boutiques across the country; also if you ‘like’ Liverpool on Facebook you can get your own pair of jeans by entering to win their weekly giveaway. They’re pretty active on Twitter and Pinterest too!

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