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The Best of 2014, Swag Edition

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

PicMonkey Collage

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

DUO ‘Santana’ Boots

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

Adora Bags Leather Tote

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

Karen Kane Jersey Pants

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

SOREL Joan of Artic Wedge Boot

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

Dobbin Clothing Sophie Silk Crepe de Chine Blouse in Leopard Print

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

Talbots Leopard Coat

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

Dagne Dover

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

CastCoverz!

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

Boden Ravello Silk Top

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

Reebok Skyscape Sneakers

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

 

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

Style with Substance: Karen Kane

One of the best parts of blogging is getting to know brands on a different level. Not just a label in a boutique or department store, you learn the story behind the name, their purpose, their history, and sometimes, they become friends.

I heard of Karen Kane before I started blogging, it was a brand I’d see at the mall, just like all the other garments wearing some woman’s name. The alliteration was catchy, I figured it was made up to represent the ideal customer for the brand. But thanks to my blog I got to know that Karen Kane is a real woman who cares for and designs for fellow real women.

karen kane history

A little Karen Kane history, learn more at this link

Karen Kane has been a California Girl since she was 9 years old, attended the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in LA, and after graduation got a job as a pattern maker for a sportswear company. In 1979 Karen and her husband Lonnie begin the clothing brand Karen Kane out of their garage. After just one year the company reaches $1 million in sales. In 1986, their son Michael was born. To combine work and personal life, they brought Michael to work with them every day. Michael is now the Director of Marketing and the super nice person I work with when partnering with the brand (he even “likes” my Facebook page!). Karen and Lonnie still run the business. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to work with a company that sees me as a person, not just a blog, and who understands how Wardrobe Oxygen’s readers are different from another blog with different interests and needs.

karen kane blog love

My favorite Karen Kane outfits that have been featured on Wardrobe Oxygen

Before many other brands, in 1999 Karen Kane launched a Women’s division after hearing requests from their customers. And as of 2013, over 95% of Karen Kane’s collection is manufactured right here in the United States. The clothes are high quality, comfortable, true California style with a touch of femininity and sex appeal. Many of my wardrobe favorites, such as this dress, these pants, this dress, and this jumpsuit (sorry for the bad photo, I’ll have to do an outfit post in it soon, they still have it in stock!) are from Karen Kane.

This season I’m admiring the Studded Wrap Dress, Safari Jacket, Gold Sequin Front Dress, and can’t wait for this spring when Karen Kane will be offering jewelry and hats! I know I will be adding more Karen Kane to my closet this season and for many seasons to come.

I had a Small Business Saturday series before my surgery, but since then have realized how I love many brands who aren’t small but still have heart. I’m changing this series to Style with Substance and will be featuring brands who offer great fashion with great ethics or goals.

Winner: Karen Kane

I know I am late in posting this, but wanted to share the winner of the Karen Kane contest! One of you won a $200 Karen Kane shopping spree and time with a Karen Kane personal stylist!

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Review and Giveaway – Karen Kane

How would you like to win a $200 shopping spree and personal styling event with Karen KaneClick here to hear about my experience with Karen Kane fashion and how you can win!

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Karen Kane: Summer of Color Promotion

Karen Kane knows how to make maxi dresses – I have this same dress in black and adore it. When Karen Kane contacted me to let me know that they were having their three best sellers for summer available in some new colors, I knew I had to get one! They were kind enough to send me their Julie Maxi Dress in Dark Coral, which is begging to be worn on my annual trip to Rehoboth Beach or to a destination wedding! Karen Kane also has their Pleated Maxi Dress and Buttoned Tie-Top also available in limited edition summer colors (as well as classic black and white).

Want your own Julie Maxi Dress or any of the three styles mentioned? Karen Kane is offering 30% off to all Wardrobe Oxygen readers with the code WARDROBEOXYGEN30!

Rarely can you get a discount on brand-new limited edition items at Karen Kane so this is an awesome deal (and be sure to visit Ebates first and get 5% cash back on your purchase!).

Happy shopping!

Note: The discount code only works on the Buttoned Tie-Top, Pleated Maxi Dress and Julie Maxi Dress (links to those items in post).

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Friday: Diva Zebra

Dress: Felicity & Coco | Jacket: c/o Karen Kane | Tights: Nordstrom | Shoes: Nine West (similar) | Belt: Lauren Ralph Lauren | Lipstick: Revlon Matte “In the Red”

Some days you just want to dress like a diva. Karen Kane sent me this jacket a couple months ago and while I have worn it on weekends with jeans and a colorful scarf, I have yet to wear it to work. This morning I tried belting it, and really liked the result – gives it a completely different effect!

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What I Wore: Not So Little Black Dress

karen kane wrap dress love cortnie bag review size 12 14 fashion blog petite mom

Dress: c/o Karen Kane | Watch: Citizen c/o WatchCo | Bracelet: Nordstrom | Bag: Love,Cortnie | Shoes: Nine West ‘Flax’

I adore Karen Kane for comfy, flattering pieces with a bit of sex appeal. Karen Kane was kind enough to send me this dress a long while ago (talking no cast on my arm part of the year), and I have worn it so many times, though this is it’s first appearance on the blog. It’s jersey, so it dresses up and down with ease. Here I wear it for Date Night with pumps and a clutch, but I’ve also worn it on the weekend with my silver Birkenstocks and a pair of aviator sunglasses. The draping is in all the right places, and the fabric never wrinkles, making it great for travel or long days.

As for the clutch, isn’t it awesome? It’s by Maryland blogger and bag designer Cortnie Elizabeth. I’ve been wanting one of her bags for a long while and finally pulled the trigger when I saw this unexpected leopard print (and we all know I love leopard!).

What I Wore: Air Flow

wardrobe oxygen what I Wore Gap Real Straight Jeans Karen Kane Messh Top Nine West Pumps wardrobe oxygen what I Wore Rough Tumble bag Ray Ban Aviators Nine West Flax wardrobe oxygen what I wore Gap Real Straight Jeans Karen Kane Top Rough Tumble Bag

Mesh top: c/o Karen by Karen Kane (similar) | Tank: c/o J.Jill | Jeans: Gap | Shoes: Nine West (similar) | Bag: Rough & Tumble | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban | Bracelet: Had forever (similar) | Lipstick: MaryKay ‘Mystic Plum’

If you follow me on Instagram you know I wore this look to work Friday. Karen Kane was sweet enough to send me this awesome mesh sweatshirt this spring but then the whole cast situation made it impossible to wear. Once the cast came off this was one of the first long-sleeved tops I made sure to wear.  The jeans are the ones from Gap I mentioned in this post; after some weird years I find Gap to again be a destination for quality but reasonably priced denim.

And this bag I continue to adore; no need to buy a trendy brand name to enjoy high quality and style.  I found Rough & Tumble on Etsy and am thrilled to see they are growing, now with an e-commerce site.  A woman-owned business with everything made here in the USA?  Yes please!

Shop the Post:

Thursday: Comfortable Corporate

Blazer: c/o Karen Kane
Tank: Ann Taylor (similar)
Pants: Tahari
Shoes: Michael Kors
Necklace: Boutique in Rehoboth Beach (similar)
Bracelet: c/o IN PINK

Have a few meetings today so needed to look professional, but felt a bit under the weather last night so had restless and little sleep. Lycra to the rescue! Each piece in this ensemble is stretchy and comfortable but still maintains a level of professionalism.

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Making a Splash

Dress: c/o Karen Kane | Necklace: Boutique in Rehoboth Beach (similar) | Watch: Citizen c/o WatchCo | Bracelets: Indigo Spiritual and Focus c/o Lifetherapy; “Emerson” c/o Kristin Biggs, Stella and Dot; had forever | Shoes: MICHAEL Michael Kors

After the tragedy in Bangladesh, I am trying to be more conscious of where my clothes are made and under what conditions. I have always been a fan of Karen Kane for creating comfortable, flattering, and stylish clothes for a broad range of sizes, but am even bigger of a fan because their clothes are made in the US. While Karen Kane is a pretty big company that is sold in major department stores, working with them is like working with a small company. I get emails from Karen’s son,they have a very personal and intimate Instagram account where you actually see Karen at work, and they strive to please their customers. I saw this dress and knew it would be flattering and I was right. I like that the knot in the front is self-tie, so you could just tie it once, knot it tight, or do what is most flattering to your own figure.

And while this dress is utterly fantastic, I can’t ignore Emerson’s amazing fashion sense. She truly has talent in putting together great outfits. My mom recently got her a kit with a play hair dryer, curling iron, brush, and such and now Emerson has to “get ready” before she leaves the house. I may have created a monster, but at least she’ll be a stylish, creative, and independent monster!

FYI, I totally thought I could carry off pumps today, but after taking pictures and walking to the car I realized my leg is still not strong enough and I switched to my black Cole Haan sandals.  Maybe next week!

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Wednesday: Lazy

Shirt: Target (similar) | Jeggings: c/o Karen Kane | Boots: DUO (similar) | Necklace: Years old (similar) | Silver cuff

I feel ridiculous posting this outfit on a fashion blog. I mean REALLY, I even have a hair elastic on my wrist!  I was so lazy this morning, I tried to straighten the placket of this shirt with my flat iron, and it’s pretty clear that it didn’t do that stellar of a job. I was planning on getting to work by 7am to work on a project before the office got distracting, but Emerson woke hearing me in the shower, Cindy started barking at some animal in the woods behind the house, I couldn’t find my iPhone, and well life happened so I ended up leaving over an hour later than expected and since Karl was driving me to the Metro… might as well take some pictures. So now you see what I wear when I wake up at 5:45 to leave the house at 6:20 and have no in-person meetings. Tres glamorous, no?? 

The one cool thing about this ensemble is the necklace. E from District of Chic recently wore a squash blossom necklace that is so amazingly gorgeous, but it reminded me that I too had a squash blossom necklace somewhere in the depths of my house. Over the holiday season, Karl and I did some serious cleaning and I found it in a rarely-used tote bag in the office closet.  I promise to wear it with a far better ensemble in the near future, it deserves it!

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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

Nordstrom
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
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
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
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.

Overstock
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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Could Fry an Egg

Top: c/o Karen Kane | Pants: Tahari | Shoes: Nine West (similar) | Bracelet: c/o Lifetherapy | Hoops: Argento Vivo | Glasses: Derek Cardigan 7003 c/o Coastal.com

I think this weather was more the type where you could steam an egg rather than fry it. DC has been a few days of heat, rain, heat, rain and it’s hard to pull together a work-appropriate ensemble and not sweat through it by time you reach the office. Karen Kane sent me this top and I positively love it; it’s one of those tops that looks far better in person. The fabric is actually linen, but a lightweight slub fabric that is comfortable in the humidity and drapes so nicely. I’ve worn it before with the black pants for an easy early-morning outfit, and also like it with white jeans.  It does say dry clean only, but I washed on gentle in a lingerie bag and let it air dry and it turned out nicely.

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Monday: Gray with Green

Dress: c/o Karen Kane
Tank: Caslon (similar)
Boots: Fitzwell
Sunglasses: Ray-Ban
Bag: Sabina (similar)

This morning I felt rushed so I grabbed this dress from Karen Kane. I have worn it before, but this is the first time on the blog. While I love the concept of a sweater dress, I usually find them too clingy; this one has a flattering fit and flare silhouette which makes me have a waist but hides the lower tummy.

As for the green in the title, it’s because of the “Jalepeno” Chevy Spark that GM loaned me for the week! When they asked me what type of car I’d like to try, I asked for something with a bunch of fun gadgets, good on gas, and perfect for city driving. While the Spark has four doors, it’s quite compact and I can zip around city streets and park at cramped meter spots with ease. I drove it to work today and can’t wait to play with it more!

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Friday – Military and Maxi

Black jersey maxi dress – c/o Karen Kane
Cargo jacket – Caslon (similar)
Necklace – eBay (similar)
Booties - Miss Sixty (similar)
Bracelet – Ann Taylor (similar)
SunglassesMarc by Marc Jacobs
Bag – HOBO (similar)

As soon as I got this dress from Karen Kane I knew it would be a summer wardrobe staple. Silky jersey knit with a flattering surplice neckline and banded empire waist, and molded cups! I know you women understand the appeal of cups in a summer dress – while I am not one to usually go bra-less, I feel I could with this dress and still look shapely and appropriate. I did get the dress shortened because I know I will usually be wearing it with flat sandals once late spring and summer arrive!

What are your weekend plans? With St. Patrick’s Day landing on a weekend, are you planning on taking part in any green-themed festivities? We don’t have any plans for tomorrow, but I am excited to meet with a two fellow DC bloggers on Sunday evening for wine and blogging chat!

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What I Wore on Instagram

Fingers crossed the cast comes off tomorrow. Once that happens, after taking the longest shower and scrubbing my body from head to toe, I’ll resume outfit photos. But in the mean time I’ve been sharing my (almost) daily outfits on Instagram and I had to share here because there’s been some fun new things.

I’ve become pretty good with this cast, I’m now flexible enough to get on non-stretch tops and dresses and zip and button jeans. The other day I even buckled my sandals all by myself and I can now unhook my bra without turning it around to the front of my body! This opened up my wardrobe even more, and has made getting dressed a bit more fun. What I have been wearing:

wardrobe oxygen instagram

Top row: Karen Kane Contrast Lace Dress which is lightweight for summer but a style that can be worn later in the year; Felicity and Coco high-low hem knit dress with an old belt from Hobo Bags; Flor faux wrap dress via Gwynnie Bee

Middle row: Dobbin Clothing Jackie dress in navy with leopard pumps from Ivanka Trump; this weekend I cut off the longer layers of my hair (and am tempted to cut off more!); typical weekend look – black tank from Caslon, these denim shorts, silver Birks and my Rough & Tumble bag

Bottom row: Karen Kane dress from last year (last seen here); my beloved Eliza J dress (seen here and here); Fourth of July in a LOFT sundress from last year and a J.Jill necklace

I look forward to sharing here on the blog soon, and thank you for your patience and support. And if you want to send any strong bone/cast-free vibes my way I’ll happily take them!

What I Wore: Zebra

Tank: c/o Karen Kane | Skirt: The Limited (similar) | Shoes: Fitzwell “Aurora” | Watch: Citizen c/o WatchCo | Bracelets: Nordstrom, had forever, J. Crew via eBay | Necklaces: eBay | Lipstick: Maybelline Color Sensational Vivids in Vibrant Mandarin | Rings: Etsy | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

Sunday, I cleaned out my closet. With travel and busy schedules, my closet was looking very much like my high school bedroom, where I no longer knew the color of my carpet due to the piles of clothes, shoes, and junk. In cleaning, I found this fabulous top that Karen Kane was kind enough to send me a couple months ago. It’s a Medium when I normally wear a large, and I am thrilled it comfortably fits over the bust but is a bit snug over the booty. I did my belt trick and created a bit of a peplum. The fabric is perfect for the humidity as it doesn’t cling and floats with any passing breeze.

These shoes are a STEAL at 6pm. I like Fitzwell because they have extended sizes (wide widths and wide calfs for their tall boots), but they also have strategically placed heels to reduce pressure and to make it easier to walk with such height. First day wearing them and no issue walking to the office, pretty impressive!

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Friday: Real Housewife

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

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

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

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

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Monday: Casual Monday

Jacket: Ann Taylor (similar) | Tee: Banana Republic | Jeggings: c/o Karen Kane | Scarf: c/o Nepali by TDM Design | Boots: DUO (similar) | Sunglasses: Gas station in Kentucky

Many of you have the day off, but my office is still open. Since most of our clients are government agencies, days like today are pretty great for playing catch-up without the phone ringing all day or meetings back to back. Also since the government is off work, we can dress in a more casual manner. This is my weekend uniform, in fact I wore this same scarf with a different striped shirt and different jeans yesterday. This scarf is insanely soft – I have other cashmere scarves but this one feels like a cloud.  Karl even threatened to snag it, it’s so cozy!

As an FYI, Nepali by TDM Design is offering Wardrobe Oxygen readers 25% off their entire site (including sale and grab bags) with the promo code wardrobeoxygen!

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Friday: Wishful Thinking

Blouse: Bellatrix
Camisole: H&M (similar)
Denim Leggings: c/o Karen Kane
Boots: DUO (similar)
Necklace: Ann Taylor (similar)
Bracelet: c/o IN PINK

The past couple of days have been HOT. What happened to the days of pashminas, tall boots, and breathing in a hot mug of tea? Today it’s supposed to go up to 82, but I’m dreaming of fall weather and wearing my boots in revolt. At least the sheer top will keep me from being overheated, and the office thermostat still thinks it’s steamy 24/7 so I’m comfy indoors.  Call it wishful thinking!

What are your weekend plans? Tomorrow I am going to the Virgin Mobile FreeFest with some friends, Sunday a friend is having an Oktoberfest party that we plan on attending. Are you going to the FreeFest? if so let me know and maybe we’ll meet up! I can’t wait to see Jack White – he better behave!

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