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Movie Review: Something Borrowed

Last night Popsugar had free screenings of the new movie Something Borrowed in six different cities in the US. DC was one of them, and I had the opportunity to attend. The last time I saw a movie in the theater, I was pregnant. I think it was the first Sex in the City movie. I just never have the time or opportunity to go.

My husband and I have Netflix and usually put movies on our queue as soon as we see the trailers for the theater opening, but we try to choose movies that we would both enjoy, and I KNEW he wouldn’t be interested in Something Borrowed. I on the other hand, was really excited to see it.

I love to read, and I am not picky with my choices. Nonfiction, biographies, crime novels, self-help, cook books, psychological thrillers, poetry collections, Oprah’s book club; I am known for picking a book from my office’s communal library solely on the color of the spine. If the book sucks, I just trade it for a new one. I feel one can get pleasure and benefit from any reading material. And that includes chick lit. Sometimes you just need a good chick lit book.

Ginnifer Goodwin as Rachel & Kate Hudson as Darcy in Something Borrowed

A few months ago I read Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin, not even knowing that the movie was coming out. My sister had cleaned out her library when moving into her new house and donated books to my work library; Something Borrowed was one of them. I read it, and enjoyed it. Not too fluffy, enjoyable characters, pretty well-written for chick lit. I liked it so much I read the second book in the series, Something Blue.

Anyway, Something Borrowed was still fresh in my mind when I heard the movie was coming out. Then when I heard the cast (hello Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin, John Krasinski) I knew I would have to plan a girl’s trip to the theater. Just as I was considering plans, I got an email from Popsugar notifying me of this free screening in DC! Fate!

I met my sister around 6:30 at Mazza Gallerie. By this time there was already about 50 women in line. I was expecting to be one of the oldest women there, but it seemed the average age was 30, and lots of them were busy Tweeting and emailing about the event. At 7:15 or so they started filing us in; I then was able to see the line and how many folks were behind us. It snaked all over the lobby of the theater! In that line I saw fellow blogger Marta and her friend; it was great to run into her!

When we got into the theater, the only rows that had two seats together were the ones in the very front where you have to strain your neck to see the screen, and the very last row against the back wall. My sister and I got seats in the center of the back row.

How can you not love two chicks dancing to Salt-n-Pepa’s Push It?

And now on to the movie. It was good. Like really good. Like one of the best romantic comedies I have seen in a very long time. Like it should be ranked up there with Bridget Jones’s Diary. Maybe I liked it so much because I hadn’t seen a romantic comedy in a long time. Maybe I liked it because I read the book so recently and know the backstory. Many reviews online give this movie lukewarm ratings; my sister however agreed with me and thought it was utterly delightful. One has to keep in mind this isn’t the type of movie that is made to win an Oscar; this is a movie to see with your girl friends after margaritas and fish tacos or to rent on a rainy Sunday, bundled up in your bathrobe.

The four main characters of the movie – Spaghetti dinner in the Hamptons

Ginnifer Goodwin was adorable – charming, relatable, real. Kate Hudson was a great Darcy – she was over the top, overly confident, in your face and self-absorbed in a charming way. Colin Egglesfield was a great Dex, but really that character doesn’t have much depth. He was good looking, seemed smart and real. John Krasinski totally stole the show – he was so witty and endearing. Goodwin and Krasinski were the true stars of this film.

The stars of the film – Ginnifer Goodwin & John Krasinski

Recent trailers and online reviews can give you the summary of the movie; I have to say they did a fantastic job of adapting the book. Some portions changed (for example, Krasinski’s character was not in New York in the book), but those changes helped the plot move properly in film format and didn’t take away from the story. I really liked how real these people were – though they live in New York and lead different lives from me, I could see myself being friends with them, knowing people like them, acting in the manner in which they did. Often when movies are that “real,” it ends up being boring or not as entertaining. This movie was still fun to watch and easy to get wrapped up in the story (I have to admit I teared up once or twice and was tempted to clap at the end).

If you do go to see Something Borrowed, be sure to stay until the very end of the credits. As my sister and I were walking out of the theater, suddenly the credits stopped and the film continued. They have a little clip that hints at a sequel, and adaptation of Giffin’s Something Blue.



Have you seen the movie and/or read the book? What do you think?

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My Wardrobe Today – Thursday (and movie review)

Picture taken in the bathroom of Mussel Bar, where I had dinner last night.

Jacket – The Limited (no longer available), Black tankAnn Taylor, Lace skirtAnn Taylor, ShoesSofft “Pavia”, Bracelet – Anthropologie (no longer available), Bag – Mulberry for Target (no longer available)

This weekend Bethesda Row is hosting The Front Row, a series of fashion events.  Thursday night kicked off The Front Row with a screening of the documentary Bill Cunningham New York.  Today there are many trunk shows in boutiques along Bethesda Row, a fashion show and book signing by Kelly Cutrone.  On Saturday they are hosting the Chic Children event with all sorts of activities for the little ones.

Last night I attended the DC screening of Bill Cunningham New York.  If you haven’t heard of Bill Cunningham, it’s about time you did:

“Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.”
– Bill Cunningham

This is why I love fashion – fashion is a suit of armor to help you get through life, to have the confidence and strength for what comes you way. Caring about how you look is a way to express yourself, define yourself, and defend yourself. Bill Cunningham captures street fashion – he doesn’t care about celebrities, brand names, socialites.  He looks for the unique, the expressive, the beautiful.  He has been chronically fashion trends for over 50 years.  You can find his weekly slide show and commentary entitled, “On the Street” on the New York Times website.

And do look for a screening of Bill Cunningham New York at a theater near you; if one is not available put it in your Netflix queue so you get it once its available.  This film is a documentary about Cunningham.  You see how he works, but you also get a peek into who he is as a man.  There are interviews with fashion, art, and society greats like Patrick McDonald, Anna Wintour, Carmen Dell’Orefice, Tom Wolfe, Annette De la Renta, and Anna Piaggi.  The documentary was so well crafted, it lead up to a very emotional and powerful moment, but ended on a positive note.  I laughed, I cried, I wanted to see it again!

After the screening, there was a VIP after party at Mon Ami Gabi were we all could chat about the film, and get to know other fashionistas in the DC area.  I was honored to be the guest of Alison from DC Celine.  She invited me and Liz of So Much to Smile About to come and we had a fab time enjoying St. Germain cocktails and Georgetown Cupcakes.

Me & Alison from DC Celine

 

Liz’s fab shoes from Banana Republic  
(she hosted an event at Banana before the movie; check out her blog for details!)

Liz, Alison, Me

I had met Liz before at a couple DC Fashion Blogger events; Alison I had yet to meet even though I had been reading her blog for years and we are virtual friends through Twitter and blog comments. It was awesome to finally meet, she’s as great as I expected and she has the greatest husband too (not in the pics since he was the photographer).  A lovely experience, I only wish I could attend tonight’s events at Bethesda Row.  If you’re going let me know, and be sure to come back with a recap!

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My Head is Too Big to be Hipster: A Warby Parker Review

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.

Me in my new glasses – Lafont’s Issy & La collection, the frame is called “Gloss”

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!

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Saturday

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!

Week Recap

I have been loving the library at work. We have a couple tall bookcases in the kitchen on my floor of the office – coworkers drop off books they no longer want, take what looks interesting, bring it back when finished. Sometimes I know who dropped the books (like a coworker I think is fab came in last week with a big shopping bag and I couldn’t wait to see her haul), some I wonder (hrm, who loves Debbie Macomber so much that there’s freaking 20 of her books there? ), and sometimes there’s a clue (plane flight ticket stub from the Deputy Director, receipt from a bookstore near one of the other offices, etc.). I think this collection is extra-special to me because I know a coworker read it, and I work with an amazing group of intelligent, curious, open-minded, well-traveled and well-read folks.

I recently finished, I Was Told There’s Be Cake by Sloane Crosley. Crosely often writes for the NYT, and this book is a collection of essays about her life. Think Sedaris, but instead it’s a Vegetarian Jewish recent college grad. Some of her pieces I found to be terrible cliché, others were well written, funny, and made me want to write more. Not a must-read at all, but I found it inspiration to get back to my journal writing and it was excellent Metro Commute reading (can stop when transferring trains or when at destination without feeling major pains of regret and longing).

Right now I am reading Mister Posterior and the Genius Child by Emily Jenkins. This story takes place from the point of view of an eight-year-old girl in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The more I read, the more I am interested in knowing how this story ends. I am on page 261, it ends on page 295 so I will be finished with the book before I finish my evening commute. I think the reason I like the book so well is that it really does feel like the voice of a child that age. I could see myself thinking and doing the same things at that age. The child isn’t horribly abused, burdened, wide beyond her years like children who are the voice in many novels. It’s hard to review for I am at a point where I really have no clue how this book will end. I have enjoyed the ride so far…

This weekend my husband and I saw the movie Buddy. It’s a Norwegian film with subtitles, and is currently available through the Sundance Channel on Comcast OnDemand. The protagonist Kristoffer (played by the uber cute Nicolai Cleve Broch – seriously Google Images him) is utterly charming, and we found this movie to be a great date movie that both hub and wife enjoyed.

Saturday night we went to my sister’s for dinner. She steamed clams, had sautéed some green (tasted and looked a bit like bok choy to me – oh the adventures of farmers market shopping!), crusty bread, wine, and these adorable macaroni and cheese cupcakes. We returned the favor last night when my husband slow cooked a roast from the farmer’s market on the grill and paired it with biscuits and peas. I am so happy that she lives so close that we can have family dinners like this on a regular basis.

Sunday I volunteered at my community’s baby and kid swap. What the event is, bring your old baby and kid stuff (clothes, shoes, toys, books, nursing equipment, maternity clothes, etc.) and take what you need. Whatever is left over at the end of the event is donated to charity. We have this event a couple times a year and I always volunteer because I think it is such a wonderful act. This time, we had a couple tables set up at the community farmers market. A lot of people who didn’t donate came by and were shocked we were giving away things for free. A couple families were so excited, one woman with four children was tearing up and wanted to give a donation. I said her contribution was having me lug less stuff to a thrift store at the end of the day. I could see the clothes her kids were wearing seemed very worn and the older kids had pants and coats that were too short.

I brought a lot of clothes and shoes that Emerson had outgrown and weren’t of sentimental value and not in any condition that I could sell on eBay (currently selling some of her like-new shoes on there to make fundage for new pairs). Lots of very nice stuff, all in good condition. In turn, I got some fantastic stuff for E – a pair of lavender snowpants, a couple cute dress/legging combos and some tops in 2T and 3T, two like-new fleece sleepers in 2T (she is currently wearing 18-24), a pair of gently worn Stride Rite Mary Janes, a rashguard shirt for this summer, a Vimse Imse swim diaper, and two wooden puzzle toys. My portion post-swap I gave to my neighbor who works at a DC public school – she says parents come and can’t even afford diapers for their babies or shoes for their school-aged children. She was thrilled for the three lawn & leaf bags of leftovers, and I was thrilled to know they were going to people who will appreciate them.

I won tickets to see Jonsi in concert at the 9:30 Club on Tuesday night. If anyone is interested, there are still tickets available for that night. I think it will be a fun show!

Tomorrow I am also meeting with a woman who is doing a project about fashion blogging, sponsored by Microsoft Research. Kinda cool, I am looking forward to it and reading the results once she is finished. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Thursday I have the opportunity to check out the new Neiman Marcus Last Call Studio in Rockville, Maryland. They are having a press event that morning and the Grand Opening is the next day. I will be sure to come back and report all about it!

I can’t believe we’re already neck-deep into November. I don’t even want to THINK about Christmas until I have had my fill of Thanksgiving turkey (yeah, decided, well told my mom I wouldn’t go back to vegetarian or pescatarian until after the holidays) but it’s hard not to. I have already gotten email requests from my mom for my Christmas list, and everyone wants to know what Emerson needs. We’ve decided to get Emerson a play kitchen because she is really loving her little pots and pans and pretends to drink tea all the time. I have decided to get the Kidkraft Retro kitchen because it’s not too gaudy and will fit in the corner of our dining room where we can see her from the living room or the kitchen. My mom has already bought her some new pots and pans and I have been scoping out fake food kits that don’t include stuff like hamburgers and bacon.

I have already requested off the time between Christmas and New Years but don’t think we’ll have the money to go anywhere. However after this very busy and chaotic year, it will be nice to have a Staycation with my lovely family. And if it snows, well Emerson is now prepared with her new-ish lavender snow pants!

Les Misérables: My Worlds Collide

When I realized:

Was also:
The 16-year old in my heart swooned.

Yesterday was a wonderful Christmas.  We hosted for the first time; Karl made some sort of breakfast casserole, had fresh fruit and my mom made her awesome coffee cake.  Emerson had so much fun and loved what Santa brought.  For lunch, Karl made potato leek soup.  We all then took naps, and then I went to see Les Misérables with my mom and sister.

Les Misérables received mediocre reviews and I can understand why (I read a review where they found the cinematography “pretentious” and I totally got that), but the teenager in me was in heaven. When I got my first CD player for Christmas in 12th grade, the first two CDs I got were the soundtracks for Cats and Les Miz. I have seen it performed several times and know all the songs by heart. I felt the casting was pretty fabulous (oh Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter made me so happy, even Anne Hathaway was wonderful) and as soon as I saw Enjolras on the big screen my inner teenager practically fainted in her seat. While I am a big Gossip Girl fan, the character of Trip didn’t do much for me. However, Aaron Tveit as Enjolras was perfection. I haven’t been to a movie in the theater in far too long… to have my return be for Les Misérables was perfection.


Who would have thought that Trip Van der Bilt would be the leader of a revolution?

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Contest: Tolani Scarf from chickdowntown.com

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

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

The Tolani scarf is courtesy of 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!

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

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

Get to know chickdowntown.com:
Facebook (friend “shop chickdowntown” and/or become a fan of the chickdowntown page)
Twitter (twitter.com/chickdowntown)
YouTube (chickdowntownTV.com or youtube.com/chickdowntowntv)

Good luck!

This Weekend

Didn’t take many photos at all. Sorry guys.

Saturday started off with yoga class. I wore these new knit separates I got from C.enne.v Couture (review to come). Sillky-soft black jersey short-sleeved hoodie and cropped drawstring pants with a white ribbed tank from Old Navy underneath.

Afterwards, we had a few friends over. The plan was to have a couple beers then walk down to the town’s Labor Day festival. Rides, games, live music… well friends showed up late, people felt tired and sluggish so it became a spaghetti and movie night in our living room instead.

Sunday I went to breakfast with my husband. I wore my faux-wrap matte jersey dress from Maggy London (shown here) with my black leather heeled thongs from Mossimo, hair air dried and random, just mascara and a bit of lip gloss.

That day my husband was away at a bachelor event, so I had the house to myself. I did a bit of cleaning, wrote some, walked the dog, got some new music for my iPod and puttered around outside. Very nice. Went to dinner with my mom and then we walked down to the town center for the festival. I wore my teal cotton babydoll top from Old Navy with my Joe’s Jeans and brown stacked flops and my necklace made of seaglass. Hair still random, makeup still minimal.

Monday we went to a cookout at my husband’s cousin’s house and I wish i took a picture. Hair looked great – washed and conditioned and a bit of Jonathan Silky Dirt. slightly straightened/dried the bangs and let the rest air dry and it looked really nice – messy in a good way. Wore my black cotton wrap shirt from Ann Taylor, olive ribbed tank from J. Crew, my black city shorts from the Gap Outley, black heeled leather thongs from Mossimo, green and silver bead necklace from… I think Burlington Coat Factory, silver hoops and cuff bracelet. Makeup was Body Shop bronzing powder in Light, Pop Beauty’s shadow set for brown eyes – the light khaki on lids and the dark khaki in the crease and along lash lines. Lashes curled and two coats mascara, on lips was Maybelline Shine Seduction Glossy Lipcolor in Blushed Bass.

Who Wants a Year’s Worth of Free Shoes?

When I feel bad I like to treat myself. Clothes never look any good… food just makes me fatter… shoes always fit.
-Rose Feller, from the movie In Her Shoes

It’s true, no matter what size we are, we can usually find a pair of fabulous footwear to make us feel sassy, feminine, powerful and pretty. No other accessory can transform a look, or the wearer with such intensity.

Footprints International free shoesReader Jacqueline recently told me about a company she is part of – Footprints International. We have all been exposed to the at-home parties for Pampered Chef, Partylite, and even I used to even be a consultant for The Body Shop at Home. Those parties are fun because you get to sip cocktails with your girlfriends while shopping or playing with gadgets or beauty products. Well imagine if you could have a shoe store come to your home? Well Footprints International allows you to do just that.

Jacqueline is having the most fabulous contest going on right now, and I just had to share it all with you:

Footprints International wants to know, in 200 words or less, why you adore your shoes. What is it about wearing a fabulous pair of shoes that excites you, makes you feel beautiful, or puts a smile on your face? All contest entries will begin: “I adore my shoes because. . .”

The Grand Prize winner will receive 12 pairs of fabulous Footprints International Shoes – yes, that’s the equivalent of a pair a month for a year with special surprise bonuses throughout the year. The Grand Prize winner will also receive a special shoe gift arrangement filled with shoe goodies.

The First Prize winner will receive six pairs of Footprints International Shoes, plus a gift arrangement; and Second Prize winner will receive three pairs of shoes, plus a gift arrangement. All pairs of shoes are at a value of up to $50.00 each. The Contest ends at 11:59:59 P.M. PT on March 31, 2008. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.

To enter, visit our website at http://www.footprintsinternational.com/. Please indicate her name (Jacqueline) at the end of your entry. As our special gift to you, for entering our contest, you will receive a 20% discount on your next purchase from Footprints International. See complete rules for this contest at http://www.footprintsinternational.com/.

For more information about Footprints International, stop by Jacqueline’s blog, Give a Shoe Party. Good luck to all who enter!

UPDATE:
Footprints International has extended the contest deadline to April 16th. Winners will still be announced on May 1st.

Monster N-TUNE HD Headphones Review and Giveaway

Now that we have Emerson, there’s less time in our lives for hobbies and pastimes. As I recommend with your wardrobe, Karl and I have chosen quality, not quantity when it comes to our interests, and one we both love and share is music. Once a month or so we have a Date Night of dinner and a concert, we play music when cooking and cleaning, and have playlists for most any activity. We love that we can share this pastime with Emerson and see her interest in music develop with time.

But sometimes it’s not appropriate to blast your music to the world. Be it me working from home, taking the Metro to work, or when Emerson is taking a nap, it’s nice to have a great pair of headphones that don’t distort the music. So when BlogHer and Monster Headphones asked if I would like to review a pair of Monster N-TUNE HD On-Ear Headphones I jumped at the chance.

Monster sent me a pair of their candy green N-TUNE HD On-Ear Headphones and I gotta say, I was excited (green is one of my favorite colors!). Unlike the on-ear headphones I use at work, I find these lightweight, comfortable, and durable.

Designed with the input of Nick Cannon, the Monster N-TUNE HD On-Ear Headphones provide the perfect sound for music, emphasizing beats and bass. These headphones feature a built-in ControlTalk remote so if you use them with your smartphone, you can easily pause your tunes to receive a call. I found that with these headphones, I could play music as loud as I liked without distortion, or the music bleeding out and being heard by those around me. In turn, you can turn the music down low but still hear all the detail. I think the sound is better than my friend’s headphones promoted by another popular musical artist. Seriously, the sound is so good, it’s addictive. When I can’t find my headphones it’s usually because Karl has snagged them to watch a movie on his phone or to listen to tunes while working out or doing yard work.

The Monster N-TUNE HD headphones also have a noise cancelling feature which is great when working from home; I must admit I sometimes even wear them without listening to anything just to muffle out distractions. And wearing them is comfortable; I actually catch myself forgetting that they are on! I also love that the cord is detachable/reusable, means no tangling and easy to pack away. The whole packaging of these Monster headphones are brilliant and perfect as a holiday gift – sturdy box with magnetic closure, a beautiful presentation of the headphones, storage pouch, brand sticker and more marketing. I think anyone would be impressed to get this box under the Christmas tree or for another holiday!

Giveaway:
The giveaway is now closed and winners have been notified.  Thank you for entering!

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Weekend Update

Friday night Karl and I went to bed before the sun set. My body woke me at 6am, I got up, brushed my teeth, stretched some… and then went back to bed until Emerson came in to wake us around 7:30.

We got up, Karl went off to teach and Emerson and I had our Saturday morning routine. We ate oatmeal and blueberries, she watched Veggie Tales (girl LOVES this show, more than any other show or movie, not even sure where she saw it for the first time), I read my crappy but addictive book (above and review soon). I gave her a new glitter tattoo (she wanted to look like Daddy).

We went to Emerson’s dance class. She showed off her tattoo, I chatted with the great parents of her classmates, she listened to her teacher and learned new things. I’m really glad they all signed up for the summer, it’s a nice group of kids that get along so well, and we parents get along too.

We then went to Starbucks. I usually get coffee, but I had accrued 12 stars on my Starbucks app so got a free drink and splurged on a Caramel Light Frappucinno. Emerson had her standard pink cake pop and cup of water.  We chatted about class and what she wanted to do that weekend.

We came home, Emerson changed into play clothes, and I headed out for some time alone. Finally got my hair cut and colored (first cut since the disaster cut), then went and got my brows waxed. Sitting all foiled, I read People and Us Weekly and all kinds of junk I normally don’t read.

Karl grilled salmon and made massaged kale salad for an early dinner. Emerson started yawning at 6pm so we went up early for a bath and bedtime. Karl and I snuggled on the couch and started watching Sherlock but I started getting sleepy around 8:30 so we went upstairs and read in bed and I was asleep before 9:30.

Sunday, we spent time with friends and family, I went to the farmer’s market for the first time this season and even got in a 30 minute power nap later in the day.

I’m feeling better, and I am so thankful to all of you. Your sweet words, advice, personal stories have truly helped and I know I am not alone. I truly love you guys, and feel so blessed that we have connected through this blog. Thank you.

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Basic Black and White

Blouse: Jones New York c/o Gwynnie Bee | Jeans: NYDJ | Shoes: Cole Haan | Necklace: Cameron Pendant c/o Kristin Biggs, Stella and Dot | Watch: c/o WatchCo | Bracelets: c/o Lifetherapy, Nordstrom, had forever | Glasses: c/o Coastal.com

This top is perfect for this weather – billowy and breezy for the commute, but enough coverage that I don’t freeze to death in the office. This is totally the kind of top I buy, wear once or twice, and tire of the print because it’s too memorable. Love that with Gwynnie Bee I can wear it once or twice, and then return it for something new without buyer’s remorse. Interested in trying Gwynnie Bee?  Use this link, tell them Wardrobe Oxygen sent you and get a 30 day free trial of the program.

I just got these glasses Friday evening but have already fallen in love. When I got new glasses back in December, I wanted something classic, stylish without being trendy, something appropriate for work as well as every day. My Issy and La “Gloss” frames are perfect for that, but now I want more frames, and fun frames. I love the bold look of these, and it’s exciting to find frames that are big enough for my ginormous noggin. I did get these frames for free (review here), but I would totally order from Coastal.com again. Great prices, good service, and shipping is lightening fast. In fact, if you go to this link (not an affiliate link, not getting paid to share, just me being jazzed about sharing this with you) and pick any of these frames and add your prescription and use the code FIRSTPAIRFREE you get… well your first pair free! You do have to pay for shipping (which is around $9.00), but what an awesome steal of a deal. It’s always good to always have a spare pair or a fun pair that gets you out of your comfort zone.

Speaking of great deals, I have been wearing my Lifetherapy bracelets quite a lot and get so many compliments on them.  They have offered Wardrobe Oxygen readers 20% off on ALL Lifetherapy products (body care as well as jewelery).  Use code WARDROBEOXYGEN at checkout; this code is valid until 7/1/2013.

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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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What My Brain Has Been Absorbing – May/June 2013

I find when I am uber stressed and frantic about the tiniest thing in life, it’s often when I am not making time for extra-curricular activities. I don’t mean dodge ball or drinking, but books and music and movies and other media. Ways to shut down the hyper chatter in the brain and fill that space with a different story that makes you think, analyze, calm the eff down. Here’s some of the things my brain has been absorbing the past month…

The Shouting Matches – Grownass Man
In the winter, I want deep music. Things I can listen to in the chair in my bedroom while I sip a hot beverage and look at the stark naked trees outside the window. Come summer, I want some fun tunes that sound great turned up to 11 on a turntable or my car stereo. If there’s some deep philosophical message in the lyrics, awesome, but it’s more about feeling happy and free and badass in my aviators with all the windows rolled down.

The Shouting Matches does that. It is a perfect album for 5:15 when stuck in one of DC’s many traffic circles. You’re not embarrassed to have it blaring out of your window, your hand is hanging out of the car patting the door in rhythm, or when you actually can go over 15 miles an hour you may have your hand wind surfing to the beat. With that, I hate to tell you who is the lead singer of this band.

Do you ever love a band without knowing its history, then look them up online and they’re now ruined for you? Kinda happened to me with The Hold Steady, happened to K with Eels, and I feared if I let K know that Justin Vernon of Bon Iver fame was the singer of The Shouting Matches, he wouldn’t adore the album any more. But you know what? It kinda added to the album. We’re not big Bon Iver fans (though I must say I love this Tumblr), but knowing that someone so passionate about the art of music was behind this feel-good album ended up making us feel good. Anyway, it’s on Spotify, check it out but be sure all four windows in your car are rolled down before pressing Play.

Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
I am guessing more of you have heard of Vampire Weekend than The Shouting Matches, and there’s 50 kazillion more reviews of this album online that are better written than any drivel I can compose, so I’ll keep it short. I’ve always liked Vampire Weekend. I’m sad I hardly saw more than one song when they were at Bonnaroo in 2008, and I think this album is their very best. The band has matured with time, while keeping their signature sound. And this is another album that is great to listen to in the car with the windows down, your left hand surfing the air, your hair getting stuck in your lip gloss and you don’t care, you’re singing so loud.

Dawes – Stories Don’t End
I didn’t like Dawes. I didn’t get them. But they’re playing Forecastle so I added their album as a Spotify playlist. And I tried listening to it, and I just wasn’t feeling. I had already heard this ten years ago at a bar in Dewey Beach, 20 years ago at an Ocean City bar, and 25 years ago when riding in my older friend’s beat up Mustang convertible. Doesn’t mean it’s bad, just mean that it’s not for me.

Well Karl heard them and fell madly, passionately in love. Out came this guy I didn’t know, and I have known him since 1993. How did I not know he was a closet Jackson Browne and Bruce Springsteen fan? How did I not know that CCR was as much the soundtrack of his childhood as Zeppelin, The Beastie Boys and Run DMC? Well Dawes helped me understand my husband a bit better, and with that I decided to understand the appeal of Dawes.

I will never be the president of the Dawes Fan Club, but I get the appeal, and it is good summer music. I look forward to their performance at Forecastle, and am hoping it’s nice weather with a slight breeze, the sky getting golden, a cold beer in my hand, the river in the background when it happens. Because Dawes begs for a beachy, Outer Banks-esque situation to truly appreciate their tunes.

It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll – Jo Wood
I’m listening to NPR on the way to work and Garrison Keillor comes on and I have to change the channel. No disrespect to his fans, but his voice gives me the willies. I changed to DC 101 and Elliot Segal was interviewing Jo Wood, the woman who was with the Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood for 30 years. She was cute and bubbly and reminded me a bit of Sharon Osbourne and I figured her story had to be pretty good to be married into that band for so long and survive. So I got the book.

I liked the beginning of the book, when Wood tells of her early years as a model in London. I even gave her a pass when she left her first child from her first marriage with her parents to travel the world and party like a rock star. And then… I felt her to be the sad aged version of Band Aids.

Throughout the book I felt such pity for her. She worked so hard to be The Cool Girl that she had no self. I just found her life, even the early years, depressing. Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll can be awesome, but there’s a point where it gets a bit tedious and desperate. I read these thoughts of 50-something woman and I felt as though I was reading the memoir of a proud yet naive 22-year old. Maybe I’m extra Judgy McJudgerson because I am a mother and cannot IMAGINE doing the things she did when making a choice to create human beings (and yes even though many of her pregnancies were “oops” I find that she made that choice to be “oops” about pregnancy), but I didn’t find this book fun or awesome and I didn’t find her to be some brave heroine at the end.

Maybe it’s her style of writing, but I found her craving the desire to be seen as cool and sexy more important than anything else.  I was disgusted by how she’d laugh off John Belushi masturbating while talking to her on the phone and other situations where she was made into a mindless sex symbol and she enjoyed it.  How any ridiculous or dangerous situation was okay if it was full of laughs.  How proud she was when famous people would think she was cool, or how she hobnobbed with trendy celebrities.  At the end of the book, Wood writes, “…if you’re constantly treated like a cosseted child, you can sometimes start to behave like one, too,” and I agree, but I think Wood acted like a cosseted child even before her lifestyle encouraged it.

If you like to read about the rock and roll world, read Keith Richards’ Life; now that’s an awesome book about the Stones lifestyle. It’s long as heck and full of things I would never ever do, but it was good, and well-written. I even learned life lessons from it.  This book felt like a way for Jo Wood to cling to the limelight just a teeny bit longer.

The Great Gatsby (Movie and Book)
I see a movie in the theaters maybe once a year. Since I see them so rarely, I am quite picky. I saw Les Misérables at Christmas, and on Mother’s Day I went to see The Great Gatsby with my mom and sister.

I liked it. I hoped I would love it passionately as I do Moulin Rouge, but it didn’t get a fire in me like that film. However, it did make me respect Leonardo DiCaprio as an actor. He was spectacular. I also found the music to be far more subtle than with Moulin Rouge, but quite the supporting act that really pulled the film together and gave it a modern edge. If you didn’t see it in the theaters, it’s worth a rental once it’s on DVD but it won’t be in my Top Ten favorite movies, or even Top 50.

After seeing the movie, I wished to revisit the book. I have read it several times, but the last time was during or soon after college. When looking for the soundtrack on Spotify, I came across the audiobook of the novel and proceeded to download it so I could listen to it data-free on my work commute. It did make me realize that the film stayed quite true to the novel, but it also made me realize that the book is so great because of what your mind does with it. Most books are this way… it’s hard to have someone else’s imagination paint the picture for you, and The Great Gatsby has such descriptive writing to paint such a clear picture in your own mind. So if you haven’t read the book lately, go to your library or that dusty shelf in your living room and pick it up. Or if you’re a Spotify addict like me, search the title and find the audiobook. The movie can’t hold a candle to your own mind.

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Thursday Rant

I guess I am setting myself up for blogging failure. Yes, I have great readership, but my blogs are not considered “successful” in many people’s eyes because I hardly make a cent off of them. I don’t get weekly freebies from retailers, I don’t bring in the big bucks from my minimal ads, I blog for… you, and not for me.

Well I guess in all honesty it is for me. I do love to write, I love to shop, and I love to tell people my opinion. I love to make fellow women feel good about themselves, and I love it when I get a comment or email that tells me I made a difference in a person’s life.

But unlike many blogs that have been around less time than I, I am not profitable. I know fellow bloggers who have been able to go to part-time or quit their job all together from the success of their blogs. Ads alone bring in a huge portion of their income, and affiliates help even more. Retailers contact them, offering free goods and money in return for praise on their blog. They promote products they have never used, $1,200 purses they can never afford, fashions that fit a very small minority of the population. They have fancy banners and avatars and glossy ads for Sephora and Nieman Marcus and Strawberry Net all over their page, receiving profits per click. They offer links for that designer bag, receiving a percentage from each bag sold to that online boutique.

Now I would love nothing more than to be able to quit my job and write. I would love to write a book based on this blog, and have always dreamed of being a personal shopper and wardrobe consultant. However I am an adult with a mortgage, a car payment, student loans and yes… a conscience. I cannot and will not ever promote something I do not believe in.

Retailers, feel free to send me samples of your stuff, and if I like it, I will be more than happy to review it on here. I will offer links to your website, may show myself wearing your product. But if your product is sub par or inappropriate for my audience, I will not write about it. Or, I may warn you readers to stay away from these vendors. I have no fear.

I also can’t advertise that which I think is just wrong, like a $1,200 purse. A lipgloss that costs $40 and is nothing better than Revlon’s Super Lustrous line. Clothing that does not go over a size 10.

If I can’t afford or fit it, I’m betting the majority of you can’t either.

Reports have shown that there is an influx in purchasing of designer goods and experts believe it is linked to the influx of bloggers writing about said products. I know when I was in middle school I just HAD to have a Liz Claiborne purse and a Forenza roll-neck sweater because everyone else had it. Gosh, Betsy and Heather had both and look at how pretty and popular and blonde they were? Maybe if my stubby, brunette self had both I would be just as popular and glamorous.

I saved up for both because my parents couldn’t afford those sorts of things. I sported my white Forenza roll-neck sweater with my navy Liz Claiborne purse with the navy trim, and that day at lunch, my friend tripped and spilled chocolate milk all over me, permanently staining that beloved sweater. Soon, I realized people liked me whether or not I wore designer duds. Instead of worrying about the label, I worried about the fit and how it expressed my personality. To the 8th grade school dance when the rest of the girls wore ruffled dresses, I wore a black mock turtleneck, black harem pants, black suede booties and my brightly-printed bedroom curtain pinned around my waist like a cummerbund. That was the first time a “cool boy” asked me to dance. And that was when I realized money does not equal style, labels do not equal fashion, and I will never be a slave to them. And I hope none of you ever will either.

Decades later I am the author of this blog. I am still stubby, I am still a brunette, and I am still lacking designer duds in my closet. Yes, it feels amazing to own a designer garment or a coveted beauty item – I’m not going to say I don’t enjoy my DiorShow mascara, my Joe’s jeans, or would love nothing more than to strut around town in a pair of Jimmy Choos. But you know what? I am happy in my skin, happy in my heart and still getting looks from the “cool boys.” I may not be a financially successful blogger, but when I get an email from you guys that says you’re happier as a woman because of some of my advice… I feel like the richest blogger in the world!

My Tuesday Night

When I was in high school, I had a friend named PJ. PJ moved to the area in the middle of high school and brought with him a whole new world of music, literature, and art. Before I met PJ, my music knowledge and experience was pretty limited; whatever played on the Top 40 stations or the relatively mainstream Alternative music I could hear on DC’s WHFS. To this day, every time I start up my iPod or attend a concert, I think of PJ.

I had this same tee shirt in high school and literally wore it until it fell apart. Image via toddicus.com

When PJ found out I liked The Cure, he introduced me to The Smiths. He took me to see Morrissey in concert. He made me tapes of bootlegged R.E.M. (my favorite band at the time) or mix tapes with bands I had never heard before like Hüsker Dü, Bauhaus, and Joy Division. He saw that I liked The Sundays so he gave me a cassette of Cocteau Twins’ Heaven or Las Vegas.

To this date, The Smiths is one of my favorite bands, and Heaven or Las Vegas is by far my favorite album. When I am stressed, I listen to Heaven or Las Vegas. When I am sad, I listen to it. Even when I was in labor, I listened to it on my iPod and it instantly calmed me. It brings to mind memories of driving in PJ’s old VW Beetle on a sunny day, sitting in my childhood home’s backyard, listening to my Walkman while writing in one of my many spiral notebooks, high school Saturday mornings where I could lie in bed until noon listening to music, reading, dozing.

Last night I went to see Jónsi at the 9:30 Club in DC. I won the tickets from a local paper; otherwise I probably wouldn’t have gone. I mean, I like Sigur Rós, and I like Jónsi – even have his solo album. However I haven’t really listened to it deeply. The first half of this year I spent researching and listening to artists on the Bonnaroo lineup, since then I have been in a bit of a music rut and haven’t given appropriate time to my new music.

My sister and I made it a GNO affair last night. We headed to Marvin for mussels and wine. We then stopped by a bar or two for another drink and conversation. We ended up missing the opening band – Mountain Man and arrived just as Jónsi started his set. Because of this, we ended up downstairs near the bar to the left of the stage, surrounded by folks ordering beers and the smell of burned nachos. Jónsi’s set started slow, and my sister admitted she wasn’t “feeling” it. I told her to hang on until 10pm and if she still didn’t like it, we could leave then.

Image via TBD.com

The crowd opened soon after this conversation and we were able to wiggle in about ten feet from the stage, still to the left. Suddenly the whole experience changed for the better. The air was cooler (and free of the smell of scorched cheese), it was dark, most of the people around us were quiet and focused on the performance. We were surrounded by the dark, the music, as well as the movie being projected on the back and side walls. And the music became more layered, more exciting, more intense.

It reminded me of the first time I heard Heaven or Las Vegas on a CD – the blanket of sound, the layers of music, the angelic voice. I felt buoyant, lifted up, full of joy and gratefulness. I feel goofy using such a description for a concert, but Jonsi’s performance was lovely. Utterly love-erly lovely (by the way, the Washington Post felt the same – read the review of Monday’s show here).

PJ died the summer after his freshman year of college. He fell asleep behind the wheel driving home from work. PJ and I dated for a short time in high school, but we remained friends after that and pen pals when he went off to college. I still have the silver ring with the Yin-Yang symbol on it that he gave me in high school, and I will always keep the music education he gave me. Last night I thanked PJ for opening my mind, and having it that I experienced such a great show.

Tuesday’s Tip – Making the Clearance Rack Your Friend

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.

Recharging my Batteries

wardrobeoxygen1

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and after that, several days of the BEST SALES EVER!!! Even with the SALE SALE SALE madness I am taking a break from the computer. I don’t have any posts scheduled, and apart from some scheduled tweets and maybe a picture or two on Instagram, I won’t be on social media.

2014 has been a wild ride, that’s for sure. And I am so thankful for my health, my family, and all of you who have stuck with Wardrobe Oxygen through the highs and lows. And I want to take this holiday to slow down and enjoy it all.

While the blog has been doing phenomenal (hello all you new subscribers and followers, I am so psyched to have you on this journey with me!), the day job has also been super busy. We’re going through some big changes at our company which are exciting, a bit nerve-wracking, and adding more work to my already overflowing Outlook calendar. And while this blog is my passion, my day job is what pays the bills while also holding a very large part of my heart. And on top of it, there’s a 6’5” guy and a 3’9” gal at home who I want to spend as much time with as possible.

I’m betting a lot of you can relate to this. Everyone I talk to has mentioned how crazy life has been. Where did the time go? How is it already the end of November? Omigoodness it’s almost CHRISTMAS and then 2015! It’s going to be go time from now until the kids go back to school in January (and for me, not until February thanks to January being the month of almost my whole family’s birthdays).

Last year I was go go go and figured I could rest once Valentine’s Day arrived. And then Valentine’s Day weekend I broke my arm which affected the rest of the year not just for me but my family, my friends, and my job. You can’t predict your future, you can’t rely on reaching that light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes you just need to force a stop, a recharge of your batteries.

So Wardrobe Oxygen will go dark until Monday so I can slow down and enjoy the holiday sans blog and sans day job. Thursday we will spend at my mom’s with almost 20 friends and family (my family and Karl’s together!). This weekend we have no concrete plans and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I hope to sleep until a crazy-haired little person in Hello Kitty pajamas crawls in bed with us and finally wakes us with too many jabs in the back with bony elbows and knees. I look forward to watching a movie, either in a dark theater as a trio or curled up on the couch under an afghan crocheted by my mom. I want to wash all the laundry in the house and finally get the summer clothes out of the office and into the attic. I want to take a walk without a scheduled end time, having it during daylight so I can see nature around me and maybe go off the path and roam into the woods. I want to have a cup of coffee go cold in my hands because I got lost in thought. I want to waste some time and not feel guilty or stressed. Even if it’s five minutes wasted, I want to waste those five minutes with delicious abandon.

You can’t properly help others if you don’t help yourself first. I’ve always said that, but I learned that lesson completely this year. Thanksgiving is a special holiday for us Americans, a time where we should stop and count our blessings. Let’s use this holiday to be thankful for the beautiful things in our lives, but also take a bit of time for ourselves to recharge and refresh. Whether it’s waking an hour before everyone else so you can sip a cup of tea in silence or putting the kids to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual to have some moments for a bubble bath, see if you can find a way to “waste time” and recharge your battery this weekend. You deserve it, and those who love you will benefit from it.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Love,
Alison

Living the Savvy Life Promotion

My friend Melissa Tosetti is the founder of The Savvy Life, a great site that gives tips on how to live a full life without living past your means. I have learned so much from her site, as well as her recent book, Living the Savvy Life (you can read my review of the book here). I am honored to be partnering with her and many other fabulous online budget-savvy folks (hello Flylady!) for the promotion below.

I own Living the Savvy Life and find it a great resource for anyone (and hey, it’s cool that I am mentioned on page 191 of the book!). I encourage you to check out the promotion below, you won’t be disappointed!

and receive $190 in Free Bonus Downloads
Offer valid July 12th-13th, 2011

For details including how to take advantage of the offer visit www.LivingtheSavvyLife.com.

Melissa Tosetti, the author of Living the Savvy Life – The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Smart Spending and Rich Living has created a brand new online program that brings the international best seller to life.

Melissa is launching the new program with a special limited time offer. Purchase a copy of Living the Savvy Life from Amazon.com on July 12th – July 13th and you will receive a one month free subscription to the Living the Savvy Life Coaching Program. The new program guides you step-by-step, day-by-day to gain control of your finances, focus your spending on what you truly want and enjoy your life to the fullest.

As an added incentive, some of her savvy friends (like me!) have offered valuable downloadable gifts (worth $190) for free to help you on your savvy path.

Additional Bonus Gifts
  • Free copy of The Working Woman’s eCookbook from Leanne Ely of Saving Dinner ($20).
  • Free 90 Day Membership to FFIT at home, an online exercise, nutrition and support program ($149.85).
  • Free copy of Healthy Beauty Spy, the phone app that helps you choose healthier beauty products while you shop ($2.99).
  • Free French Breakfast & English High Tea Menu and Recipe Guide from The Rich Life on a Budget. (unavailable anywhere else).
  • Free Article on the 10 Must Have Wardrobe Staples and How to Wear Them from Alison Gary of Wardrobe Oxygen (unavailable anywhere else).
  • Build Your Own Control Journal – Instruction Manual courtesy of Marla Cilley, The Flylady.
  • Favorite Savvy Websites Directory compiled by Melissa Tosetti

For additional details including how to take advantage of the offer visit www.LivingtheSavvyLife.com.

Remember, this offer is only valid for July 12th- 13th, 2011.

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A Night With Andre Leon Talley

Last night I went to the Corcoran in Washington DC to see Andre Leon Talley give a lecture on his opinions of the Spring 2007 lines and to have a Q&A. For those who have never heard of this man before, Talley is the Editor at Large for Vogue. He has been there since 1983, previously working for Women’s Wear Daily and other fashion powerhouses in New York, and was part of Andy Warhol’s entourage.

Andre looked dapper in a black suit, dove gray shirt with white collar, gray silk tie and white pocket scarf. He wore burgundy socks and black flats with pave “Ben Franklin” buckles that were custom made for him by the designer who originally designed the shoes for Jackie Kennedy and her sister Lee Radziwill. He started the lecture with a slide presentation he created of his favorite collections from the Spring 2007 shows in New York, Paris and Milan. It was fascinating to see the clothing as we see it in Vogue, and then see the models backstage and how real the clothing seemed to be on relaxed women chatting and giggling. Suddenly sequined bikini bottoms with a silk blazer seemed wearable, and not just art on the runway. We also learned some inside stories behind the collections and designers. Vera Wang’s father passed away less than 24 hours before her show. Talley told the story of how she received the call from her father’s caretaker and dashed to his bedside in time to say goodbye, then raced back to New York to conduct her show. Miuccia Prada’s collection may have seemed to be full of unrealistically short dresses that no person on earth could carry off. In fact, a few days before her show the skirts for the collection arrived and she didn’t like them. Instead of sullying her collection with incorrect skirts, she just sent the models down the runway in only the tunic tops. Suddenly the strange collection of ultra-minis and skinny leggy models seemed to work – you focused on the gorgeous jewel tones of the silk tops and how they were cinched with an unexpected rough-hewn leather belt. Knowing the back story made the collection all the more beautiful.

It was also funny to hear Talley speak of Vera Wang as “Vera.” An elegant name for a simply elegant woman, but when her first name is used alone suddenly I imagine a blonde waitress chomping on gum and screaming, “Kiss my grits!” It really humanized Wang. Talley was discussing Wang’s fame, how she originally was an editor and was getting married and couldn’t find an appropriate gown. She designed her own and ended up getting into the business, now having lines of china, crystal, lingerie, and even clothing at Kohl’s. “What next Vera, Vera Wang coffins?” Talley laughed when speaking of a recent conversation with Wang and her new business ventures.

Talley has elegant and sophisticated tastes; the lines he found the best of a “super bad” season were classic standards like Balenciaga, Chanel, Ralph Lauren and Versace. Lots of white, platinum and silver metallic pieces, 1940’s inspiration and great textures. The theme for shoes was as he put it “ugly.” Large clunky sandals with huge platform heels and studs holding the leather to the wood soles. Dancer-inspired flats with lots of elastic straps. Very tall platform wedges with patent leather peep toes. “This Spring it’s all about the ugly shoe. Get yourself an ugly shoe,” Talley told the crowd to gales of laughter.

After the slide presentation, Talley took questions from the audience. I was expecting an audience full of well-dressed fashionistas but was surprised to see quite a variety of attendees. College kids in jeans, older women in artistic home-crafted designs, elegant socialites of the city in all ages, and many women who look as though they are interested in and learning about fashion, heading to the Corcoran after a long day at their government job. Women in couture, women in chain store pieces, women in vintage, women in Target. Talley noted some well-dressed women in the audience and asked them to stand. One was in a black and white heavy tweed shift with a foldover collar. She wore it over a lightweight white ¾ sleeve tee and carried it off with black flats. He loved the texture and the simplicity of the outfit. She admitted that she bought the dress at Antrhopologie. The second woman was in an off-white puff sleeved chiffon dress with a full skirt. The dress was covered with black oval polka-dots. She had a very large Fendi-inspired black patent belt around her waist, black tights and black heeled Mary Jane shoes. She admitted that the dress was vintage and the belt from Target. A cheer came up from the crowd when she mentioned Target and Talley smiled and said, “Oh I love Target, I love Tar-jay, I got there all the time!” Another cheer from the crowd.

Talley skirted away from the tougher questions, and didn’t really admit much about his personal opinions or thoughts. When asked about the movie The Devil Wears Prada, Talley said he never saw the movie nor read the book so he could not discuss it in any manner. He did admit that Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue did attend opening night and found the film “entertaining.” Talley would not discuss the thinness of models in the industry today, stating that he feels that designers should be able to use any model they feel shows off their clothes best. He noted that Prada did use unusually thin and leggy models this season, but designers like Jean Paul Gaultier use models of varying heights, weights and bust sizes. When asked about the show Project Runway, he admitted that he has never seen an episode and that he watches little television other than the news. “The McLaughlin Group is the best show on television, I love the McLaughlin Group!” He also admitted loving Hardball with Chris Matthews.

The conversation changed to fashion, the current trends of American fashion and more specifically, the lack of care and respect in today’s fashion. This is something that bothers me as much as it did the woman in the fur vest in the front row who asked the question. She was most concerned with the fashion of Americans in places like airports. Talley believes that we live “in a spin-cycle world” and need to accept that. He told a story of him and Diane von Furstenburg visiting the Google headquarters and one of the first rooms he saw at the complex was a Laundromat. He found it brilliant that the employees were able to bring their clothing to work to clean and believes that is the way of America. Talley believes that a woman does not need to spend a fortune to look stylish, that one can update her wardrobe just by changing accessories. He said for Spring a woman should invest in some colorful flat shoes, a beaded necklace and a fabulous bag. He disagreed with an audience member who said that style is all about self-confidence. I agree with Talley, some people have oodles of confidence but terrible style. He was most impressed by simple, classic, basic outfits in the audience and during this conversation noted the outfit of a woman in her 40’s in the back row. She was wearing a basic black suit, but an elaborate necklace of varying lengths of jet beads. The accessory made the outfit.

After the Q&A session, the audience adjourned to the hallway where a reception was set up just for us. High-top tables wrapped in orange organza, waiters passing out feta and watermelon skewers, grilled shrimp and chicken . Bars were set up serving sparkling water, club soda, chardonnay and a signature-tini with a ginger/orange flavor and color. DC magazine passed out their latest issue. The crowd was 90% female, everyone checking out one another’s attire and chatting about the lecture. After about 20 minutes Talley came out to the reception, signing autographs and shaking hands. It was a wonderful evening, well put together, and I found Andre Leon Talley to be a funny, passionate and charming man. I am glad I was able to experience it.