Yesterday I had the chance to pour over the latest collection for CAbi and there are so many gorgeous textures, silhouettes, and prints! My consultant Lisa Holt loaned me a few pieces to test drive this week, one was this sweater. At first glance I didn’t think I’d like it, but it fits great and I love a cardigan that looks good buttoned up (so many lose their style when you try to stay warm). The pictures don’t do the sweater justice, it gave me an hourglass shape so I emphasized it with my short pleated leather skirt.
Search Results for: label/Lisa Holt
On weekends, it’s so easy to resort to old jeans, sneakers, and a sweatshirt but there’s a lot of clothes out there just as comfy as sweats but with far more style. One thing I really like about CAbi is how the clothes can dress up or down and are comfortable enough to lounge in or run around town accomplishing errands. My weekend uniform is usually jeans and tall boots, a knit top and layering piece, so I styled these CAbi pieces to fit my weekend style. I don’t think the Shadow Sweater looks as good in these pictures as it does in person – it’s hard to tell but it’s a perfect circle with arms, really flatters the figure and has such interesting detail. The grays and taupes have a cool tone to them making them work great with colors like navy and plum. The Forum Tee is freaking brilliant, such a flattering cut that it looks awesome by itself with a pair of jeans and would even look cute with black pants and boots and a funky necklace for a night out.
A few other pieces from the CAbi line that I tried and liked but weren’t featured on the blog:
- Side Pocket Blouse – if it weren’t the same exact color as my skin, I would love it. Wear with a black bra underneath for a sexy night out look, pair with a cami and wear to work. It’s incredibly flattering of a cut, and machine washable even though it looks like silk chiffon.
- Ultimate Tank – this tank is deceiving, on the hanger it looked like a man’s undershirt, but Lisa told me it was sexy on the body. Lisa was right – it’s slightly sheer so you can go all-out sexy with a solid black bra peeking through, or layer with another cami. Racerback, but not so much you can’t wear most regular bras. A long length, but not clingy – would look stellar with skinny jeans or pants and booties and a bold necklace. Also looks cute peeking out from the White Shirt Tunic.
- Horizon Poncho – if I were 2″ taller I would buy it. Great colors, great cut, just not for a 5’3″ woman who needs to wear a larger size.
- Cocoon Top – Wear with jeans and heels for a night out with the girls, wear under a gray or black suit for the office. Very flattering print, cut, and fabric.
- Keys Please Top – Always love a blouse that looks professional yet it of a really wearable fabric. This is a very soft viscose/poly blend that feels like a perfectly worn tee, yet has all the polish to make it wearable to the office or even date night. Wear tucked in under a suit or cardigan for work, untucked with skinny jeans and heels for after hours.
- Ponte Legging – Love ponte, love the heave weight and great fit that didn’t suffocate my calves yet looked streamlined, and LOVED the little detail of ankle zippers (which was still comfortable when under tall boots)!
- Ponte Riding Pant – Runs a bit bigger than the leggings in the top, but still a great fit and the suede patches were a nice touch. They made me wish I had brown tall boots to wear with them, would look amazing with the Horizon Poncho.
Are you familiar with CAbi? What are your favorite pieces from the current season?
Note: I was not compensated for this or any of the recent posts on CAbi. All clothing was on loan from my consultant, Lisa Holt, and was returned to her at the end of the week. All opinions are my own.
I just got this top Friday and can see myself wearing it in so many ways. It’s matte jersey with a double-layer front and was on sale at Ann Taylor. Matte jersey is great for travel as it doesn’t wrinkle and dries quickly; this would look great under a suit, with a flippy skirt, a maxi skirt, and work trousers. Today I felt like I needed more than a pop of color so I decided to pair with neon cropped jeans. Black shoes seemed too harsh, nude shoes looked goofy, so I went with my favorite neutral – leopard. Go hard or go home, right?
Blue is the color of my outfit, not my mood. It’s a gorgeous day in DC, today rounds up the last of my crazy projects for the week, and I’m heading into the Thanksgiving homestretch!
This is another piece from CAbi that my friend and CAbi consultant Lisa loaned me. Navy is such a nice switch from basic black or gray, and this jacket in heather French terry could easily be a blazer with trousers or over a shift, or be a great lightweight jacket for early fall or spring. This is a size Medium, and you can see the sizing is generous yet tailored.
This is the second day I have worn this scarf (you can see yesterday’s outfit on Instagram) and this isn’t the last time you will see it. Soft cashmere like my favorite pashmina, but in bold shades of blue, black and gray. It’s an infinity scarf which makes it so darn easy to throw on and look put together. Both days I put it on just to ward off chill but ended up wearing it inside because it’s so pretty and soft!
Jacket – Caslon (similar)
Tank – Caslon
Jeans – CAbi Cropped Bree Jean, c/o Lisa Holt, CAbi Consultant
Shoes – Franco Sarto (similar)
Bracelets – Nordstrom, c/o Soft Surroundings
Hoops – Claire’s Boutique (similar)
Bag – Sabina (similar)
I was looking for a way to tame neon yellow jeans for the office, and by doing so I realize I ended up wearing a ton of hot trends! I’ve got the pop of neon, a touch of animal print, the gold “arm party,” a safari inspiration, and Revlon Lip Butter (Fig Jam). Even though I may be head-to-toe trends, I think it all balances out to an outfit that is fun yet Casual Friday-appropriate for a relaxed office. And speaking of office, I am SO GLAD to be back in it today. Working from home without my laptop and equipment was terribly stressful and I am happy to be surrounded by all my monitors and wires and gadgets!
Any weekend plans? I am going to hit up the HOBO Sample Sale on Sunday, but otherwise the weekend is pretty open. Looking forward to seeing what the weekend brings!
Labor Day has come and gone, my white jeans have been packed away (I’m old school and will wear ivory and winter white but not true white pants this late in the year), and I feel that these neon yellow cropped jeans are ready to also be packed up. Don’t get me wrong, I think that neon can continue into the fall, but to have a summery fabric AND silhouette in one piece… well I just think wearing them after this week is trying too hard to hold on to the past. I won’t be wearing scarves and tall boots, snuggling up to my Pumpkin Spice Latte quite yet, but I think it’s time for transitional clothing. Whether I like it or not and whether or not it’s hot out, it’s September and fall is coming.
Any great plans for the weekend? We have another photo shoot tomorrow, and Sunday I am excited to have breakfast with my best friend. Life has been so incredibly hectic lately, I feel as though I haven’t seen her in eons and friendships cannot thrive over email and texts. She recently left the law practice she worked at to go on her own and I am so excited for and proud of her for it… can’t wait to toast her over some coffee and diner food! Then after that, K and I are going to see The Jesus and Mary Chain at 9:30… I wish I still had my Doc Martens from high school for that show!
CAbi recently contacted me and asked if I’d like to style a few of their pieces. Yes please! I have been a fan of CAbi for a long while since my dear friend Lisa became a consultant for CAbi and introduced me to the line. The clothes fit so well, it always amazes me that my petite curvy frame can rock the same CAbi pieces as my tall slim friend Lisa. I decided to take this opportunity to try a few things that aren’t typically me and asked to try their Dressed Up Sweatshirt. Gotta say I like it! It’s sheer so I have a black cami underneath, but not super sheer that it looks inappropriate at the office. I love the mixed pattern, and am always a sucker for any animal or snakeskin print. I originally imagined this top with their Fleather Skirt (which I also got and adore and will feature soon), but today I was feeling more relaxed and decided to pair it with dark denim.
I can’t recommend eBay for bags enough. There’s so many people out there who buy and baby bags and then tire of them after a season or so. I wanted a plain black leather tote that could pack into a suitcase if need be, but look nice enough for work. I found this one on eBay; the leather is super soft, it’s unfinished inside which makes it light and easy to pack but the straps are thick and sturdy. Single pocket inside to hold keys and cell phone, structured bottom, straps that fit over a winter coat and a magnetic closure. All that for $20 and it even came in a dust bag. If you know a certain brand or even style number/name search eBay before paying retail and you can save big.
After my first experience with Carol Anderson by Invitation (CAbi) clothing, I really wanted to see the fall collection. Many of you readers told me that I needed to see more of this line, that they did have dresses and skirts, that their collections coordinated not just within each other for a season, but across seasons and years. That CAbi deserved a second look.
So this Sunday I hosted a CAbi party. For those who haven’t heard of CAbi, it’s a line of clothing that is sold at home parties, a la Pampered Chef or Silpada. Carol Anderson used to sell her line of clothing at department stores like Nordstrom, but soon was frustrated that shoppers couldn’t experience her entire line, only that which the buyers decided was best for their stores. She decided to go independent, and CAbi was born.
My CAbi Party
An hour before the party was to start, my consultant Lisa showed up. She had two collapsible rolling racks, and at least four giant canvas garment bags holding all the clothing. On one rack, she had one piece from the entire fall line, separated by collection (this season each collection is named after a movie); on the other rack were duplicates of the line in different sizes. She covered both racks with a black CAbi-logoed drape, but not before she invited me to pull a couple pieces from the line to change into. As she said, it’s easier to see how the clothes fit and look if you see them on a human body. I immediately was drawn to the Classic Shirt, and after not really liking any of the skirts on me (and knowing the pants would be too long for my petite frame), I grabbed a pair of the Classic Jean. I dashed upstairs for an application of red lipstick to finish the look. When I came down, Lisa had set up two full-length mirrors in my house, and had a basket full of order forms, catalogs, and pens. She even had two pairs of hot pink reading glasses and a CAbi calculator! Lisa also had style boards – big black posters with pictures of the clothing being modeled in different combinations.
At 3pm, my friends started showing up. I must say, it’s hard asking friends to attend a party like this – you know you are expected to drop some cash at the end of the affair. I found CAbi to be even more difficult because of the high pricepoint. I told my friends I didn’t expect them to buy anything, I just wanted their opinions on the clothing, and wanted to experience a CAbi party. Eight friends ended up at my house – for me I found this to be a perfect size.
Once we were all settled in, finished hugging one another hello and all were armed with a glass of wine, Lisa began her presentation. She gave a brief history of how CAbi came to be, and told us a bit about her experience as a consultant. Unlike many other at-home party consultants, I didn’t feel as though she was trying to force me into being a consultant, but she still made the job and the company sound appealing. Lisa then presented me with a CAbi canvas tote as my hostess gift (I am such a sucker for reusable bags, and this one is big and sturdy!).
Lisa presented each collection individually, pulling out pieces, hanging pieces over one another to create looks. The rolling rack had a bar off the front over the drape so she could hang the garments while mentioning them. She not only showed the pieces, but explained a lot of the thought process behind them – why there was certain seaming, why a ruffle was placed where it was, how a piece could be worn in multiple ways. It was interesting to know that not each CAbi piece is made to fit the same exact fit model, and that seams and details are not just to look pretty, but to specifically flatter a woman’s figure and help with what Lisa called “situations” (soft belly, soft arms, etc.). Every so often, Lisa would ask me or my mom to come up and model a piece so my friends could see how different it looked on a human body.
While this part of the party was really helpful, informative, and thanks to Lisa quite entertaining; it does take a long time. There is far more to display and discuss than say at a Pampered Chef party. And unlike kitchen gadgets, you really need a good description and visual for clothing. We also kept asking questions about sizing, washing instructions, and garment details, which added to the length of the party. Lisa did a good job of answering our questions and showing all the clothing without making us bored. You could tell how much she believes in CAbi and the clothing.
After the presentation, Lisa took the drapes off the racks and we got to try on the clothes. The main rack had primarily size medium clothing, while her other rack had larger and smaller sizes (CAbi runs XS – XL or 0-16).
Sizing of CAbi Clothing
While I am usually a Large or 12/14 in most retailers, I found that I was comfortable in Medium and 10 in CAbi. One of my friends had a hard time accepting the fact that she looked best in a 0 or size XS in CAbi clothing. Friends who usually wear larger than a 16 found that there were pieces of CAbi clothing that fit and flattered their frames.
When I first experienced CAbi clothing in March, an issue I had was that they didn’t offer petite and long sizes. With the fall collection, I saw that a couple styles of jeans and pants came in regular and long lengths. I mentioned before that I wore the Classic Jean during the party – the Classic Jean comes in regular (32” length) and long (35”). The regular was a perfect length for me if I was wearing heels. Unfortunately, they do not have any of their tops in petite or long lengths – yet again I drooled over their gorgeous jackets but didn’t even consider purchasing one because I would have to spend so much on alterations. Even in a Medium, every single jacket was at least 2” too long in the arm.
I also mentioned in my original post that I was surprised that CAbi didn’t offer plus sizes. After seeing my friends try on CAbi, I am a bit more forgiving. CAbi clothing runs large; a woman who wears an 18 or 20 shouldn’t completely rule out the line. She may be surprised at how well many pieces may fit and flatter.
Styles of CAbi Clothing
When I checked out CAbi clothing this past spring, I was dismayed to see there weren’t that many skirts or dresses in the collection. This fall they had one dress (Faux Wrap Dress) and five skirts (one maxi, one mini, and three that are designed to hit right above or at the knee). I tried the Faux Wrap Dress on in a Medium and while it fit me in the shoulders and length, it was too tight in the body and arms, and I think a Large would have been too big. If I had a smaller bust or was more toned, a Medium would have fit my 5’3” frame quite nicely. The only skirt I tried on was the Vogue Skirt, and found a size Medium fit me perfectly. Not only that, I found it to be incredibly flattering. The pleating is very strategic, making it unique looking, but also kind to curves. While it’s cotton, it looks like a wool blend; I think the cut would look lovely with a top tucked in, but also with a fitted untucked top.
As I saw in March, you really need to try on CAbi clothing to get the full feel of each garment. Pieces I thought were utterly fugly on the hanger were really flattering on my body; in turn pieces I thought I would like didn’t hang properly on me when I tried them on. While a piece would look ridiculous on me, it would look fabulous on a friend with a completely different shape. The Ponte Bootlet pant in Medium made it around the party – four of us with completely different shapes, sizes, and heights tried it on and liked how it fit (if I was an inch taller or shorter I would have bought them).
And speaking of Ponte… you all know how much I love this fabric. Well CAbi had over a dozen separates in black and charcoal Ponte! Sleeveless shells (both plain and embellished) to pair with a skirt for an elegant dress-like look or with pants for a work ensemble, a trench that could be a lightweight fall jacket or a chic alternative to a blazer, a simple pencil skirt, and pants in multiple cuts and lengths. Lisa informed us that they carry Ponte clothing all the time, so you can mix and match with pieces from previous seasons. They also have a lighter-weight version of Ponte for Spring/Summer.
I was very curious about the denim. With my weight loss, I am at a point where I have very few jeans that fit. I found the Classic Jean to fit extremely well. The denim has a lot of stretch, but a heavy, sturdy feel that looked polished and felt great. The waistband was comfortable – slightly wider than usual, curved so it didn’t dig into my tummy when I sat and I didn’t have to hitch them up every time I stood. No goofy embellishments, washes, or labels. I would have purchased them except I didn’t like the stonewashed color (they only had a dark rinse wash in one style, which was too skinny for my frame), and my friend told me that they had started to sag in the rear over the course of the party (love honest friends!). However, the jeans are really well made, nice weight and quality of denim, and flattering yet classic cuts. My friend with a longer, leaner frame looked fantastic in the Contemporary Jean and Lisa looked great in the Bootlet Jean. While it’s nice that some styles come in long lengths, it would be great if they also considered petite lengths (the styles that didn’t come in lengths were far too long for me to wear and I wouldn’t be able to wear the regular length with flats or kitten heels).
I fell in love with CAbi’s jackets this past spring and I did again this fall. My friend and I agreed that the Studio Jacket and Cameo Cardigan looked very Rachel Zoe, the Editor in Chief Jacket was drool-worthy, and I know I will be snagging the Chinchilly Jacket from my mom (she bought it at the party) at least once this winter. Again, I wish they came in petite sizes.
The knits are brilliant. Their camis have adjustable straps, and all of their tees have strategic rouching and wrapping to flatter the figure. Other than the slub-knit tees, the white knits are opaque – no bra straps or belly buttons showing through! The Slouch Tee looked ho-hum on the hanger, but on it looked incredibly chic and expensive – think one of those amazing tees that an Olsen twin would wear shopping. I really liked the Button Up Tee – a button-down shirt made out of jersey. Again, a piece that looks far better on the body than the hanger.
I like CAbi. I think the quality is stellar – can rival brands like Talbots or Ann Taylor in that regard. I liked the mix of trendy and classic pieces, and loved how pieces from this season not only mix and match with one another but with other seasons. I love how they show how the pieces work in different combinations, giving inspiration for ensembles.
Have you attended or hosted a CAbi party? What did you think of it?
Note: While CAbi was aware that I was hosting a party, they did not ask me to host one nor did they ask me to write this post. All opinions and decisions are 100% my own.
One of you can win a Tolani scarf that has been seen on the likes of Jessica Alba (pictured), Sienna Miller, Vanessa Minnillo (pictured), Halle Berry and Mary-Kate Olsen.
The Tolani scarf is courtesy of chickdowntown.com, an awesome site that sells hip women’s designer clothing from the likes of Black Halo, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Diane Von Fürstenberg and Vera Wang Lavender Label.
I am so excited, because you KNOW I love scarves, and these beauts from Tolani are fabulous!
How to enter:
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word “TOLANI” in the subject.
In the body of the email, please provide your name and mailing address (I promise these addresses will only go to me – except for the winner, and will be deleted once the contest is over). Winner will be chosen by random.
Contest ends Friday, March 20th, 2009 at midnight ET. Winner will be contacted by email. Scarf will be mailed out from chickdowntown.com. Sorry international readers, but the contest is only open to those in the United States.
Get to know chickdowntown.com:
Facebook (friend “shop chickdowntown” and/or become a fan of the chickdowntown page)
YouTube (chickdowntownTV.com or youtube.com/chickdowntowntv)
Recently CAbi had a contest where you could enter to be a “Real Model” for them. For those not familiar with CAbi Clothing, at the back of their catalog they have non-models featured wearing their fashions. Often it has been Consultants for the brand, but this spring they decided to feature customers with their consultant. My consultant Lisa and I thought it would be fun to enter as we are body opposites and have been friends since the ’90s, way before she started selling CAbi.
We didn’t win the contest, but we had a blast getting together one beautiful Sunday morning to photograph ourselves in the Spring 2012 CAbi clothing line – here’s pictures from our shoot!
I am LOVING the bright neon cropped jeans, and all the nautical touches in the spring collection. It was really hard deciding what to wear, for so many pieces from the Spring 2012 collection are so cute and so very wearable!
If you haven’t heard of CAbi before, check out my post on my first experience with the line, and my first time hosting a CAbi show. And if you are in the DC/Maryland area and are interested in learning more about the line or hosting a party, feel free to contact my friend Lisa!
Note: CAbi didn’t ask me to write this piece, and I wasn’t compensated in any way for this post.
Once I got new glasses, I wanted more. A pair of red frames to channel my inner Sally Jesse Raphael, a funky blue or green pair to jazz up all-black ensembles, a funky shape to show personality at the office. I had heard a lot of great things about Warby Parker and decided to try a pair of frames from them.
Warby Parker Eyewear’s mission is to offer reasonably-priced fashionable frames. On top of that, for every pair of Warby Parkers sold, a new pair is given to someone in need. Warby Parker is also proud to be a carbon-neutral company.
Warby Parker has a try-on program where you can pick five frames and try them on at home. They will ship the glasses to you for free and offer free return postage; I decided to take advantage of this program and see if I could find a new pair of signature prescription frames.
The Warby Parker site is very easy to navigate; click on your gender and then whether you desire optical or sunglass frames. From there you can choose material, color, frame shape, and width. From experience, I know my face is pretty wide, so I stuck to the medium and wide styles of frames. Since I already have a pair of tortoiseshell frames, I stuck to more unusual colors.
The glasses arrived quickly in a sturdy shipping box, and then a lovely navy linen box. Each pair of glasses was in its own compartment, wrapped in plastic and labeled with its name. Each pair of Warby Parker frames has the brand and style name inside on the temple. I found the quality to be stellar, especially for the price. These frames rival the more expensive designer styles I tried at my nearby glasses shop. The return process is simple – peel off the self-adhesive UPS label and drop it in a nearby UPS drop box. I couldn’t be more impressed with Warby Parker and their process… except that my face is too big for them.
Maybe I should have tried men’s frames, but I felt that almost every pair I tried (except for the Bensen, and they just weren’t a style I was looking for) was just a hair too small for my face. I often have this issue not just with glasses, but sunglasses as well. In fact, when I got my new glasses, they were the only ones I liked after trying on about 20 pairs – each other pair seemed just a bit too small for my face shape, even some of the men’s frames I tried.
So if you have a normal to small-sized noggin, I encourage you to try Warby Parker. The Warby Parker at-home program is completely free so you have nothing to risk; if you find a pair you like you can feel good that not only will you look great, but your purchase will also be doing good. As for me, I will have to look elsewhere, my head is just too big to be hipster.
Note: Warby Parker has no idea I am doing this review and I was not compensated in any way for it. I just decided to try the brand and share my experience with you!
Brown wood cuffed trousers from Ann Taylor. Blood orange silk knit scoop tank from Banana Republic. Denim blazer from Ann Taylor. Two orange glass chip strands of beads from beachside boutique. Brown snakeskin pumps from Ann Taylor.
Hair is second-day dirty, large barreled curling iron applied in places for piecey/wavy look. No additional product.
Makeup is i.d. Bare Escentuals foundation and concealer. Nars Orgasm blush. Light dusting of Damson shadow from The Body Shop on the lids and under the lash line. lashes curled, lots of MAC X mascara. Thin layer of black Maybelline Ultra Liner liquid liner. Aveda tinted balm in a spicy bronze color on the lips.
Today I am wearing my glasses – dark purple plastic frames from Gucci, a la Lisa Loeb.
Dear Allie:I am getting back into the workforce after five years as a SAHM. I’m really excited, but am having a hard time finding nice work clothes. I am a size 18, 5’5” and an apple and all I seem to find are lowcut dresses and polyester pants. Do you know where I can find suits and work clothes like dresses and blouses for my size?Why are all plus sized suits made out of polyester? Where can I find a suit that is equal in quality and price to J. Crew but goes above a size 16?I was recently promoted and my new position requires me to travel on business several times a month. For such trips, I will need to wear a suit while at the office I can usually get away with casual pants or even nice jeans. While I have a great wardrobe of business casual pieces, it is proving difficult to find more corporate of attire for my size (I vary between a 20 and 22). Do you know of any retailers who specialize in suiting and corporate attire for plus-sized women?Hi Allie, I need to improve my look at work. We’re allowed to wear anything we want but I don’t want to look like a slob any more and think if I look good I may be more likely to get a raise or promotion. I’m 5’7”, a size 20 with a large bust and don’t even know where to start looking for nicer work clothes. HELP!
I am not sure why the world thinks women over a size 12 don’t hold professional jobs. They must think that with the poor selection of career wear for plus-sized women. While quality suits and stylish business casual clothing does exist, it’s hard to find. Below I feature some brands who realize that just because you wear a larger size doesn’t mean you wish to sacrifice style, quality, or professionalism.
If you’re plus sized, I’m sure you already know about Lane Bryant, Avenue, Ashley Stewart, One Stop Plus/Woman Within/Roamans/Jessica London, and other retailers who specialize in plus size fashion. Below are some suggestions on brands I know who aren’t the typical shops, and who provide quality, well-crafted and stylish career wear in plus sizes
I know, I know, Nordstrom again? Thing is, they offer a great selection of quality brands and style for plus sizes. MICHAEL Michael Kors, Rachel Palley, Calvin Klein, Karen Kane, Eileen Fisher, Tahari Woman, Vince Camuto, Kenneth Cole… all these brands and more are offered in plus sizes at Nordstrom stores and online.
Unlike many other department stores who think a woman in a size 22 dress wants a muumuu or a flowing polyester pantsuit, Nordstrom buyers find brands and pieces that are in the same vein of style as the rest of the store. Great colors, fun silhouettes, lots of options. Nordstrom has free shipping and free returns, will perform alterations onsite, and have personal shoppers that can help you secure a professional wardrobe for your job.
Macy’s is another department store who offers a fantastic selection of brands and styles for plus sizes. Alfani, Calvin Klein, Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Jones New York, and then their in-house brand INC International Concepts are great resources for great plus size office wear. Like Nordstrom, Macy’s provides a good amount of real estate in most of their stores for plus-sized fashion.
Macy’s always has promotions for discounts and shipping deals. Macy’s has a great return and exchange policy, where you can return by mail or at any nearby store.
Talbots Woman comes in sizes 12-24 regular and 12-22 petite. Each season they offer several styles of suit separates so you can mix and match for the perfect career look. Talbots also specializes in business casual looks, with tailored trousers, well-crafted skirts, polished knits and sweaters and even shoes and accessories.
While many retailers hide their plus size department in a dusty corner or keep it only online, Talbots often has separate stores just for their Woman line, or else it gets plenty of real estate in their mixed-size store. Talbots is phenomenal with customer service, seeking out sizes at other locations, taking returns in-store, and giving you honest feedback and offering suggestions at the fitting room. When I was a size 18, Talbots was my go-to store, where I knew I would find quality, style, and a supportive staff.
Jones New York
While Jones New York is a department store staple, they also have their own online boutique that has a large selection of career wear in extended sizes. Since you have to return by mail (they offer a pre-paid shipping label), it’s good to try out JNY in a store to know how it fits, and then go online to find a larger selection.
Kiyonna knows how to dress a woman. They make well-made pieces that are stylish and flattering to a plus-sized figure. No muumuus and garish prints here, Kiyonna offers beautiful dresses, and also a beautiful selection of separates. While their bottoms are very basic, they are well-made and classic. Some of their tops can run on the sexy side, but many are great pieces for business casual environments or fabulous shells under suits. Their return policy is pretty standard but I hear their sizing is quite consistent so once you know how you fit in Kiyonna you won’t have to make as many returns and exchanges.
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 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.
Like Lands’ End, Eddie Bauer mainly focuses on casual weekend fashion. However, like Lands’ End they have a few stand-out pieces each season for career wear. Eddie Bauer often focuses on easy-care pieces, and you’re likely to find wrinkle-free suiting, no-iron button-front shirts, and machine washable trousers and dresses. Eddie Bauer offers free exchanges and accepts returns by mail (they will provide a pre-paid shipping label or you can send by your own method) or in store.
I’m quick to head to Overstock to find a toaster oven or an area rug, but I have now learned to go to this site for fashion. Popular brands like Tahari, Kasper, Calvin Klein, and Ann Klein are featured by Overstock, and at nicer prices than at the department store. While some of the styles offered on Overstock are a bit strange, you can also find some gems – often pieces being sold right now at your nearby Belk or Macy’s. Overstock has customer reviews, ridiculously cheap shipping, and a reasonable return policy.
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!
Lisa at Blonde Thoughts tagged me for this meme. Thanks Lisa!
Four Jobs I Have Had In My Life
2. Assistant at a florist
3. Manager of a shop that sold fraternity and sorority merchandise
4. Sales associate at Garden Botanika (remember them?)
Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over and Over
2. Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion
Four TV Shows I Like to Watch
1. America’s Next Top Model (guilty pleasure!)
2. Project Runway
Four Places I Have Vacationed
1. Costa Rica
Four Of My Favorite Dishes
1. My mom’s recipe for macaroni and cheese (addictive!)
2. the Athenian Omelet at Plato’s Diner
3. A salad with goat or blue cheese, some nuts, fruit… lots of interesting textures
4. Almost anything Mexican, Thai or spicy
Four Places I Would Rather be
1. At the beach
2. On my deck in my backyard
3. At the National Gallery of Art
4. At an outdoor cafe with a glass of white wine, fun finger food and a gaggle of friends
In the morning, I ran to get my hair cut and colored in the nearby town, and then run a few errands. Olive ribbed tank from J. Crew, white ribbed tank from Old Navy, Joe’s Jeans in “Provacateur,” brown stacked flops from J. Crew, silver hoops from The Icing, silver cuff.
Hair was brushed out but on the second day; blew the bangs straight.
Makeup was Body Shop bronzing powder in Light as face color, Max Factor Lash Perfection mascara on curled lashes, Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Pink Afterglow.
Kathleen did her magic – all I told her is that I wanted to go darker and that I wanted heavier bangs. I trust her, and was not disappointed. Choppy layers that can work straight, wavy or curly, fun sideswept bangs, and a very rich multi-tonal color of dark brown that looks closer to what I was born with.
Got home and had to dash to get dressed. Friday night I had a friend over so I didn’t have time to play dress-up and figure out my theater outfit. Thank you soooo much to everyone who wrote in suggestions, you guys are awesome and have good ideas! For the one who suggested my Old Navy dress… I completely forgot about it. I had set to wear my black cashmere tank from Banana Republic and my orange-red shantung full skirt also from Banana (seen here), but when I saw how spiffy and sleek my husband looked (flat front gray tropical wool trousers from J. Crew, white tailored shirt from some brand sold at Mens Wearhouse, black blazer from… J. crew? Not sure…, black slip-on sleek shoes from Ecco) I decided my outfit may look a bit like a costume. I tried a few different skirts, but settled on the black matte jersey dress from Old Navy, my red stone necklace, my leopard peep-toe heels from BCBgirls,silver hoops from The Icing, and silver cuff natch.
Didn’t have to do my hair since it was done by Kathleen my talented stylist. She used the Pureology line on me, and swears by it for protecting color. I bought the shampoo and conditioner and once I can wash my hair (was told to go as long as humanely possible without washing) I will be using it and let you k now how it is.
Same makeup as earlier, just a re-touch of the bronzing powder, a bit of Smashbox Soft Lights in Tint on my cheekbones, a medium line of Maybelline Ultra Liner in black on the top lash line, a quick swipe of Maybelline Great Lash waterproof mascara in black over existing mascara, Body Shop Lip and Cheek Tint with Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Pink Afterglow over it.
We took the Metro and it was not even a block to the little restaurant (I don’t know if there are even 20 tables in the place). The menu seemed different from the one online and the only entrees that were vegetarian were spaghetti with tomato sauce (yawn) and a risotto with corn and truffle shavings. My husband and I chose the risotto, we shared a bottle of Pinot Grigio (not sure the label, our friend chose the wine) and had a nice, yet not inspiring or overwhelmingly unique meal. We then walked not even three blacks to the Kennedy Center where my friend and I sidestepped grates in our heels (she too wore a black sheath and heels) while the men tromped over everything and got there in time to marvel at the acre-sized curtains in the lobby and get a cocktail in the Terrace Bar prior to the performance.
The performance was great! As I said, I had never seen The Phantom of the Opera other than the movie. Back story – 1992, for Christmas I got my first boom box with a CD player in it, and with it two CDs – Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera. For several months until I got my high school arsenal of REM, Depeche Mode, Pearl Jam and Nirvana, I listened solely to these two soundtracks. Come 2007, I am silently singing along to this performance and even a tear came down my cheek at finally seeing live what I had in my head 15 years ago. I think also seeing Shakespeare in Love the night prior made the theater experience that more intense.
Our friends live in Virginia and parked at the theater; it was a gorgeous night and declined their offer to drive us to the Metro and decided to hoof it. All in all a lovely evening!
When I go into a store, the first place I look is the clearance or sale rack. I don’t want to be tempted by full priced items when a good equivalent is available at half the price in the back of the store. Even when planning my wedding I first scored sample sales and discount bridal shops before even looking at a single full-priced gown. It is better to buy quality instead of quantity, but just because it’s on a sale rack does not mean it’s poor quality or lacking style or fashion.
Take Your Time
Clearance racks are a mess. Why waste good salespeople hours in cleaning up the back of the store when the real money making is in the front displays of new product? Because of this, do not limit your search to the section designated with your size. Take the time to flip through all the racks. You may find a size 10 amongst the size 2s or a great size Small blouse hidden amongst size 14 blazers. Grab everything that even remotely appeals to you, and a few things you would not usually consider. The best way to spend money on trendy pieces and unusual finds is to pay for them at a discount – less buyer’s remorse.
Sizes Can Be Deceiving
Sometimes items are on sale racks because they are missized. I have tried on size 6 jackets that are too big for me and size 14s that are skin tight. Don’t just look at the label – pull the item from the rack and see if it may possibly fit. Often the missized items are at a super reduced price because they are being looked over.
Consider a Tailor
I decided to write this post because of my clearance rack prize of yesterday. Sueded cotton trench, hip cut, gorgeous color, originally $179 on sale for $29.99. No obvious flaws but the coat was too large for me – I am petite and it is not. It is an XL and a generous cut, I am not. I bought the awesome bargain after trying it on and seeing that the shoulders were fitting decently, though the sleeves were past my fingers, the waist was too big and the length too long. I took it to my local dry cleaner and for $35 she is shortening the arms and hem and nipping in the waist. So for $65 I got a $179 jacket that is perfect for the upcoming fall.
Sleeves that are too long, hems dragging on the ground, gaping waists and baggy jackets can all be easily fixed by a neighborhood tailor or dry cleaner. They can also replace missing buttons, broken zippers and some torn seams. If the price is right, often the tailoring still keeps the garment at a discounted price. I have bought suiting pants 75% off just because the zipper is broken, a suede blazer at 80% off because the lining had pulled away from the jacket body.
Do not invest in garments that are stained (salespeople usually try to remove the stains with a cleaning fluid, if it’s still stained it probably won’t come out in the wash or at the cleaners), torn (resewing a seam may make the item fit differently), irregular (remember quality is key – no one should be wearing a sweater with two different sleeve lengths) overly large (tailor costs will be insane and the true look of the garment will be lost) or too small (don’t buy for the body you hope to have, buy for the current you. Also tailors can’t make things larger – there’s usually not enough fabric at the seams and if they attempt the fit of the garment will be compromised).
If You Don’t Love It…
Don’t buy it. Would you buy it if it were full price? If the answer is a quick “no” leave the item in the fitting room. Just because an item is cheap does not mean you can scrimp on cut, style or fit. A 50% markdown does not justify a gaping armhole, an unflattering color or even a staple that you really have enough of already. The world sees you and your outfit, not the reduced price. They don’t know if what you bought cost $200 or $20, they just know it doesn’t look good, doesn’t flatter your body or your personality. Every dollar in your wallet is precious, don’t waste it on crap. If you can’t imagine the item with at least two other things in your closet, it’s not worth your time or money.
My last post wasn’t a cry for attention or support. Negative comments don’t faze me – these people don’t know me in real life, and they are reacting because of something in their life that causes them to be angry. But what I found the most interesting in one of the negative comments I shared, some of the comments on that post, and emails I received since then is that many women seem to find it to be a bad thing to love themselves.
Seriously ladies, you SHOULD love yourself. There is a difference between loving and respecting yourself and being a narcissist. There’s a difference between self-confidence and being self-absorbed. Just because you believe in yourself, find yourself smart and attractive doesn’t mean you’re self-centered or a bitch. It means you’re healthy.
Let’s stop comparing ourselves to one another – didn’t you ever hear that people are like snowflakes and no two are alike? Let’s stop attacking those who are too thin, too old, too fat, have had plastic surgery, need plastic surgery, go grey, dye their hair, wear something you find to be too weird or too over the top or too boring. And let’s stop hating ourselves while we’re at it.
I may love clothes and pretty things, but there’s a hippie core to my heart and that core doesn’t understand why people spend so much energy bringing negativity into the universe. You don’t know how long of a life you have, why spend time talking crap about others… or talking crap about yourself? Humans are pretty fascinating creatures, she who you may snark on in real life you may find to be your long-lost kindred spirit. That person you attack may be going through some pretty heavy personal things that are affecting her appearance and her attitude.
This Saturday when I met Lisa at the Westfield Style Lounge, she said something pretty powerful. I always preach the need to be pulled together even when going to the grocery store because you never know when you will bump into an ex, the person who interviewed you the day prior for a new job, have a date with destiny. Lisa said dressing nicely inspires others – those who see you looking fierce at the grocery store will be motivated to follow your example.
Be proud of yourself, and be proud that you love yourself. You’re a pretty spectacular person. And let others know that you’re not ashamed to love yourself, you very well may inspire another to do the same!
Recently I wrote this post about shirts for full busts. I mentioned a company, Rebecca & Drew, who specializes in shirts for women with large busts. I admitted I had never tried the company so I couldn’t comment on their quality or customer service.
Recently reader Lisa contacted me, letting me know that after my post, she placed an order with Rebecca & Drew. She was kind enough to send me her review and I wanted to share it with you readers who have the same issue with finding well-fitting tailored shirts:
- Bra size (duh-why didn’t anybody else think of this??);
- Shoulder width; and
I ordered a long sleeve shirt in white, size 34D, narrow shoulders, regular length. First, let me say I was very impressed with their customer service. I got an email the next day suggesting that I might want to order the long length if I was over 5’3″. I emailed back and said that I would like to change the order to a long. I got a nice email confirming and one day later I had my new shirt!
The style is great. Princess seaming in the front is very slimming and gives the shirt a nice structure. And….NO GAPING!!! Yup, it’s true. I put it on and tried bending over, reaching, stretching, anything I could think of and not one bit of a gap or pull between the buttons!! And yes, that was without pins, tape, or anything else to hold it together!. My husband thought the shirt looked great on me, too.
A couple of other thoughts. The fabric was a bit sheerer than I would have liked. Not so much that I would send it back, but I wish it was a bit heavier. Second thing–this baby fits like a glove. It really emphasizes curves (in a positive way), but more so than a typical shirt. I think that’s because it actually fits the bust without being huge all over.
All in all I’m quite happy. This is the first shirt I’ve had in years that really fits. It was $150 (free shipping, no tax). Not cheap, but to have one great shirt that absolutely fits? Priceless.
Thanks so much Lisa, for sharing your experience with Rebecca & Drew! Your review makes this company sound all the more awesome!
A month ago, I had the opportunity to learn more about the partnership between Stacy London’s Style for Hire company and Westfield Malls. This weekend, I had a chance to see this partnership in action.
Style for Hire has created a pop-up shop in select Westfield malls (right now Westfield Montgomery in Maryland, Westfield Trumbull in Connecticut, and Westfield Garden State in New Jersey though it will eventually be in more locations) called the Westfield Style Lounge. The shop is stocked with fresh fashions from various retailers within the mall and is staffed by a Style for Hire stylist and an assistant. These certified Style for Hire personal stylists offer free 15-minute style consultations to help you shop for a specific event, update your wardrobe for the season, or just offer a fresh eye to your current personal style. The Style for Hire personal stylists do NOT work on commission, so you know you will receive honest feedback and quality suggestions.
This Saturday I had the pleasure to meet with Lisa Tumbarello, Style for Hire personal stylist at the Westfield Montgomery Style Lounge. She walked me through a typical style consultation, and then answered all the questions I had about Style for Hire and the Westfield Style Lounge.
The Westfield Style Lounge Experience
One can either schedule an appointment for the Style Lounge from the Westfield website (preferred method), or if there is availability, can do a walk-in appointment (right now the Style Lounge is only open on weekends at Westfield Montgomery). The consultation begins with a conversation – what are your style needs, what are your favorite parts of your body and what do you see as trouble points, what is your personal style. I really liked that one’s normal personal style is considered as many stylists and fashion books forget this important detail.
Once the stylist understands you and your fashion needs, she will pull pieces from the style closet. The closet is updated every few weeks with fresh fashion from across the mall. Style for Hire makes sure that the pieces chosen are in-stock at the mall, are versatile yet fit the current trends of the season. When I visited they had a great variety of retailers including Gap, Banana Republic, Sandwich, Michael Kors, White House Black Market and Clarks. Most of the brands the Westfield Style Lounge features have extended sizes (tall, petite, plus), and the stylists know the mall inside and out so can suggest other retailers who will have similar pieces in your specific size.
While the stylist pulls pieces and creates ensembles on the dress form, she gets to know your tastes and educates you on good silhouettes for your body and how to incorporate trends. Lisa pulled a simple white ponte sheath from Banana Republic, mentioned how the seaming would flatter my figure, and paired it with a coral beaded necklace and pair of purple wedge sandals to show how pops of different colors is on-trend and takes the simple dress to another level. She also showed how to mix patterns in a subtle manner that would be wearable even on weekends to the grocery store.
When you find pieces you like, the assistant will note them on an iPad. At the end of the consultation, the pieces you liked will be emailed to you or printed out for you on-site. The printout has your stylist’s name and contact information on top; below you will find photos, retailers, and prices of all the items you liked. You can then head to those stores and show the staff your print-out for easy shopping.
If by chance there is not an appointment after yours, you can easily have access to a free Stacy London-trained and certified personal stylist for up to an hour who can even leave the shop and go shopping with you. However, I couldn’t believe how much we were able to accomplish in just 15 minutes. With the Westfield Style Lounge, personal stylists are no longer for the rich and famous. And if you like your consultation at the Westfield Style Lounge, you can book that Style for Hire personal stylist for an additional session. Your personal stylist’s contact will be on the top of your email and printout; you can go to the Style for Hire site to learn the rates for the stylists, times of availability and services offered.
The Westfield Style Lounge is located on the main floor on the Nordstrom wing (right in front of J. Crew). The Lounge will remain in Westfield Montgomery Mall until the first week of July, and will hopefully return come fall. You can learn more about the Trumbull and Garden State Westfield Style Lounges on their websites, and you may see a Style Lounge coming soon to your nearby Westfield mall!
Style For Hire
Lisa made a fantastic point about the price of a personal stylist – we have all purchased that fashion mistake. Maybe it was a suede fringe jacket, or a pair of flatforms, maybe it was a delicate lace blouse when you’re more of a wash-and-wear woman. One session with a personal stylist is about the same price as one fashion mistake, yet it will provide you with ideas and education to be a better shopper, work with what is already in your closet, or dress for a specific event. Style for Hire also offers Shopping Tourism – you and a group of friends can book a stylist to give you a tour of the best boutiques in a city. What an awesome idea for a bachelorette party! Men, don’t feel left out – the Westfield Style Lounge and Style for Hire assists gentlemen with consultations, personal shopping, and closet audits.
Style for Hire personal stylists rage in price from $65 – $250 based on level of experience. All stylists are trained and certified by Stacy London, so you will receive a well-educated stylist and a consistent experience. On the Style for Hire website you can read the bios of the stylists to find one whose personality best fits you. The site also has reviews from previous customers which helps you find the perfect personal stylist.
Lisa Tumbarello works full-time as a personal stylist for Style for Hire, and travels from the Pennsylvania border to Northern Virginia. She works with any budget, and told me she has even taken clients shopping at thrift stores to show them how to buy a quality wardrobe on a budget. I really enjoyed my time with her – she’s extremely warm, personable, and real; I felt I could be honest with her and receive honest feedback in return. If you feel that you could use a little extra assistance with your personal style or shopping for an upcoming event, consider Style for Hire.
Note: I did receive a gift card from Westfield. However, the decision to write this post and all ideas expressed within are entirely my own.
Reader Lisa recently contacted me asking, “How do you shop? I mean literally, how do you find what you need? when is the best time to go? Do you trust yourself or the salesperson? How do you build a wardrobe from scratch with workable pieces? How do you decide how much money to budget?”
When discussing fashion with women, I realize that most people are clueless about fashion because clothing shopping can be so overwhelming, demoralizing, and just plain not fun. It’s hard to have a grip on your personal style when you dread shopping for fashion.
Lisa, I thank you for your honest question, and I am going to create a series of posts about this exact topic – how I shop. I may love fashion, but I have not always enjoyed shopping for it.
I really learned to shop by being a salesperson. I worked for almost a decade in retail, most of that time in apparel where I worked my way up from sales associate to personal shopper to manager to visual merchandiser. I worked in about a dozen different malls and boutiques in the DC area over that time, women of all income levels, ages, sizes, and lifestyles. I saw what they did right, saw what they did wrong.
I knew their bad habits – maxing out their credit card and returning a week later with 90% of their purchase. Wearing items only once and admitting to me that they give trash bags on a monthly basis to Goodwill or their friends. Getting stuck in a rut and only wearing the same exact silhouettes/brands/colors even though a different choice would probably be more flattering or appropriate. Showing extreme fear and rejecting any help, assuming all salespeople were either mocking and judgmental, or only caring about making a commission.
I also learned good habits from these women:
- Visit your favorite shop often – get to know the salespeople on a personal basis (ensure more honesty at the fitting room, heads up on sales, holding of new items in your size and calling you to try on before others, etc.)
- Stalk the sale racks
- Start in the back of the store – that’s where the sale clothes are usually located
- Purchase in bulk if it’s a staple and it’s perfection
- Don’t buy it unless you love it and really see a purpose for it
- Spend on your hair, shoes and bag – they make the most impact and are worn a heck of a lot more than a pair of designer jeans or a beautiful dress
- Buy trendy pieces cheap – you can always find the must-have scarf, beaded necklace, or belt at lower-end shops and get the same effect
- Never shop on an empty stomach
- Wear the right undergarments
- If you’re not positive, put it on hold – come back after a latte, a stroll around the mall, a discussion with your best friend, a good night’s sleep
- Be honest – with your salesperson, your self, your wallet
I may have left retail in 2003, but the lessons I learned have stayed with me ever since.
In future posts, I will discuss how I find inspiration for my wardrobe, how I go about choosing items, where I shop and how I shop a store, how to look great and stick to a budget, how to get the most out of your friendly sales staff, and more. Not every woman is the same, and not every woman’s shopping rules and tips will work for another. But hopefully these posts will helpful to some!