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Nordstrom Clearance Sale – Best Buys Under $100

If you follow Wardrobe Oxygen on Facebook (which you should, I share lots of content there that I don’t share anywhere else and the discussions in the comments can get quite good), you know that Nordstrom is having a clearance sale, and I’m pretty impressed with what is available at a nice price. I felt this sale was so good and I was getting too annoying with my posts on Facebook that I had to share my faves here on the blog. A lot of these deals are better than Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale prices, and there’s a lot of winter must-haves available. Below I share my opinion on great buys and all are under $100:

Shoes:

Nordstrom has the best sales on shoes; if you stalk their sales you can get shoes up to 70% off, and unlike other sale sites, you can easily return any shoes that are wrong for free, and no sale is final.

  1. The ‘Oaklee’ Pump by DV for Dolce Vita is a great alternative to my now-discontinued silver pumps from Nine West, and a great price of $47.37. Also available in black leather, blush and red suede, this shoe gets rave reviews from Nordstrom customers.
  2. Another great shoe from DV for Dolce Vita is the ‘Posie’; that perfect suede wedge bootie that goes with every cut of denim in your wardrobe. In black and tan suede, this shoe can slip under straight and boot cut styles and will also look great with cuffed boyfriend and skinny jeans (add a ragg sock to fill in the space between jean and shoe). A wedge makes height easy to walk in, and the price of $49.96 isn’t too tough on your wallet.
  3. I’ve been a fan of the elegant ‘Moveover’ flat from BP. for a long while and regularly feature it in my capsule wardrobes. Right now, red and cobalt patent and silver leather are on sale for $33.46. If you’re looking for a holiday shoe that’s festive yet flat, this is for you. Pair the silver with a LBD or velvet ankle pants for a comfortable yet chic party look.
  4. I’ve always loved the look of Chuck Taylors but never found them comfortable… until I tried their Shorelines. The elasticized back plus a slightly different shape makes them a weekend favorite for me year-round. Three slightly sparkly colors of the Shoreline are on sale for $36.81 and would look great this winter as well as come spring and summer.
  5. Fun shoes are fine and good, but sometimes you need to be practical. The ‘Blast III’ snow boot from Trotters is subtle enough to handle your office commute, but sturdy enough to survive a tough winter. Available in four widths and only $57.40, this is a great winter buy.
  6. I own the ‘Marlie’ pump from Halogen in gray leopard and find it sexy yet quite comfortable. This sale has the black and red calfhair versions on sale for $60.26.
  7. I find BP. shoes to be quite comfortable and well made for their low prices. Their ‘Andover’ bootie is one of those classics that will look stylish now and years from now. Slip under jeans and more casual work trousers, or pair with tights and dresses. Available in cognac and black for $66.96
  8. Always nice to find a rainboot with some style! The ‘Devenport’ rain boot from MICHAEL Michael Kors looks like an engineer boot but will let you comfortably slog through slush and puddles. On sale for $76.97, these are the kind of boots you don’t need to take off as soon as you get to your destination.
  9. Doc Martens are a classic, and the ‘1460 W’ boot from them fits this season’s grunge theme, but is also a useful boot to wear under pants or over tights and leggings and stay warm and dry all winter. On sale for $80.77
  10. I adore these shiny silver or gold sneakers from MICHAEL Michael Kors – what a great way to add style without sacrificing comfort! On sale for $83.71, these will add shine and style to all your wardrobe basics.
  11. Hello, a knee-high wide calf boot under $100? Yes please! The BP. ‘Burton’ boot has moto-inspired details that are on trend yet a classic and the $87.06 price is very nice.
  12. For those who don’t have wide calves, the ‘Aragosta’ tall moto boot from Nine West is also pretty awesome, and has the awesome price of $88.89.

Bags and Accessories

  1. Nordstrom sales are when I pick up most of my scarves. They have great deals at that time, and you can find some pieces that end up being wardrobe favorites. I love this ‘Folklore Floral’ scarf from Tasha; both colors are pretty but I am partial to mustard. Imagine it peeking out of a leather jacket this fall or tied around your head or waist with a sundress this summer! Only $18.76 for a wardrobe gamechanger.
  2. Get the look of my silver cuff for a nice low price! This cuff from Nordstrom comes in silver and gold and is only $28.98. I’ve bought Nordstrom brand costume jewelry before and have always found it high quality.
  3. This Fringed Faux Pearl Necklace from Nordstrom will dress up basic knits in your wardrobe without being too ostentatious. The length is both versatile and flattering. $28.98
  4. For a bit more drama, this Faux Pearl Multilayer Necklace from Nordstrom is perfect. Classic but makes a statement, this would quickly dress up your office dress to be perfect for after-work drinks or a weekend wedding. $33.98
  5. The ‘Audrey – Mallory’ leather wallet from Lodis is begging to be a holiday gift for a woman on your list. A quality brand, a gorgeous color, and that perfect size to slip into a clutch or small purse, it’s a steal at $34.80
  6. Talk about a statement necklace! Buy this fringe necklace from Nordstrom because I told myself I am not allowed to, though I have been admiring it all season! Imagine it peeking out of the neckline of a wrap dress, or worn over a simple black turtleneck. This baby would even make a simple white tee shirt look glam. On sale for $40.80
  7. A black tote is a great item to have in your arsenal, this one from Sam Edelman has enough structure and the leather details to make it office appropriate. $58.80
  8. I love this ruana from Echo so much, and I can’t decide which color is best. Slip over a simple tank for a fun casual night out look, belt over a sweater and jeans, and this summer wear as a beach coverup. Once you have it, you’ll find so many ways to style it. $58.96
  9. Tis the season for the most perfect pashmina under the sun at a nice price. I only buy cashmere pashminas from Nordstrom during their sales. They’re the perfect weight, perfect size, and with over 30 colors to choose from you can find the perfect one for your wardrobe. $78.40
  10. I love oversized aviators, but they’re usually pricey. These from MICHAEL Michael Kors are perfect for those of us with big heads (or those who like the oversized look), have a classic shape and color, and the great price of $86.43.
  11. This leather shoulder bag from Halogen is simple perfection; while black is a safe bet I am also loving the Red Velvet shade. On sale for $88.80.
  12. A leather satchel under $100? Woo-hoo! It’s available in the same shades as the shoulder bag, can be carried in the hand or worn as a shoulder or crossbody and is only $94.80.

Clothing

While I could make a list of 500 great clothes and outerwear on clearance at Nordstrom, I stuck to the top 12 under $50.00.  However, I recommend you check out the entire clearance clothing department for there’s some amazing buys for lingerie, activewear, swimwear, sleep and loungewear, as well as coats and clothes and such in regular, petite, and plus sizes.

  1. Clearance time is when I stock up on tights at Nordstrom.  The DKNY Opaque Control Top Tights are on sale for $12, as are their Super Opaque tights (also on sale for $12) which add extra opacity and warmth.  DKNY tights are durable, well-made, not shiny, and I find fit my figure quite nicely.  If you’re a Spanx fan like me, their Tight End Tights are on sale for $21 and In Power Line Shaping Sheers are also $21.  Commando tights are durable and well made; their opaque tights are on sale for $25.50 and their Ultimate Opaques on sale for $27.
  2. This sleeveless drape neck top from Halogen is a wardrobe workhorse; in the summer pair with white jeans and metallic sandals for a night out look and come winter wear under your suits and cardigans for office style.  On sale for $23.40 in regular and petite sizes, it’s available in a rosy pink print, a subtle black and navy print, and classic black and ivory.
  3. I have this classic Three Quarter Sleeve Cardigan from Halogen and find it to be a good basic cardi with a nice fit; you can’t ever have too many of these come fall and at this price you can buy one to keep at the office or in the car.  Available in pink, plum, and a black and ivory ‘chameleon’ print for $27.60.
  4. This Open Front Cardigan from Bobeau is a must this season.  It’s style looks office appropriate but it’s easy to throw on over a tee for the weekend.  Without buttons, it’s easier to wrap and belt for a completely different look.  10 colors and prints available in regular and petite sizes for just $29.90.
  5. Another great cardigan, this one from Olivia Moon and it has a bit more of a drape and a nice nubby texture.  Available in plus sizes as well as regular and petite, I’m partial to the cream/black stripe. $29.40 for regular and petite, $33.98 for plus.
  6. It’s a jacket, and it’s a cardigan!  This plus size knit waterfall cardigan with faux leather sleeves from Jessica Simpson is one of those pieces that makes you look pulled together though you feel as cozy as if you were in sweats.  $34.49
  7. This Three Quarter Sleeve Wedge Dress from Gibson is one of those perfect dresses that can dress up or down depending on how you style it.  Pair with pearls and heels for a wedding, or wear with a pashmina and tall boots for a trip to the mall.  Available in black, blue, and burgundy for just $34.80.
  8. Caslon’s Pocket Tunic Sweater is perfect for pairing with skinny jeans and tall boots for the weekend, but some of the prints (and basic black) would also work nicely in a Business Casual office.  Available in regular and petite sizes for just $34.80.
  9. When you can find quality suiting pants under $40 it’s pretty exciting.  Halogen’s ‘Taylor’ pants are comfortable, nice quality, and an even nicer price during this sale.  The pants in Heather Taupe are a classic shade, available in regular and petite lengths, and only $39.49.
  10. It’s the time of year for corduroy, and these stretch cords from JAG are a perfect cut to wear with ankle booties or flats, or slip under tall boots. Four colors available in petite sizes for just $47.40.
  11. I love this long sleeve knit jacket from Caslon.  Moto details and colors that can work in the office as well as for the weekend, this is a great way to polish up basic knits and jeans or add warmth to workday dresses and blouses.  Three colors available for $39.90.
  12. Kut from the Kloth makes great fitting jeans and I think they hold up quite well too.  Bootcuts are back, and the ‘Natalie’ from Kut from the Kloth is a great cut and a great price at $47.70.  Available at this link in black, and this link in ‘Wise’ which is a more traditional jean color.

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale: What I Bought and What You Should Get!

I love Nordstrom. Great selection of brands and sizes, great customer service in stores and online, free shipping and returns, and when I worked retail it was the most serene place in a mall. My morning coffee drink came from their Espresso Bar, my afternoon salad from their Café, and my shoe wardrobe and made up face from their fabulous staff on the main floor. I got rid of all my store credit cards years ago but held onto my Nordstrom card because of the perks. Reward notes for cash off purchases, free alterations, exclusive in-store events… and early entry to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale which starts July 18th!

Last Thursday I shopped the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale early, but in a different frame of mind from previous years. Usually I use it as Back to School shopping, plotting out my personal style and wardrobe for the upcoming seasons, choosing pieces that will become signature. My blue leather and green leather jackets and my pleated leather skirt are all previous Anniversary Sale purchases.

But this year? I’m going to work as much as I can with what I already have. I think back and really LIKE what I already own, so I only need a couple things to fill holes and incorporate a couple trends. So here’s what I purchased:

halogen flared ponte skirt bp print tassel trim poncho
dkny lace curves shaping brief nordstrom logo tea towel

  • Halogen Flared Ponte Skirt: I bought a similar ponte skirt from Halogen last year and wore the HECK out of it.  So much, it’s covered with pills and stretched out.  At only $29.90 I figured I could splurge on a replacement.
  • BP. Print Tassel Trim Poncho: I’ll buy a whole wardrobe of great work and going out clothes and then realize I’m freezing and have to take Emerson to dance class or just want to throw on a layer when watching TV.  Depending on the quality and fit, this could also be a Casual Friday look with a merino sweater, jeans and boots.  Only $24.90.
  • DKNY Lace Curves Shaping Brief: I love these things, they don’t suck in as much as Spanx, but smooth the belly enough for slightly clingy dresses and to give a good shape with skirts and trousers.  They’re comfortable and cute too!  The lace back prevents VPL.  With one arm, I’ve ended up stretching out my black one so I’m getting a replacement at the $13.90 sale price.
  • Nordstrom Heritage Collection Logo Tea Towel: I DID say I loved Nordstrom!  I also love dish towels, and apple green is one of the accent colors in my kitchen.  At just $6.70 I couldn’t resist!

That’s not to say there aren’t a heck of a lot of other amazing items that are part of the sale, just things I don’t need right now. However these guys caught my eye for being great deals (all under $100), great staples, or great pieces to update your wardrobe for the fall and winter.  Catch them while they’re still available!

Wardrobe Basics:

Accessory Updates:

  • Cara Spike Hinge Cuff: I’ve been wearing the heck out of my Rebecca Minkoff cuff (also on sale!) which is a similar concept.  This one is available in silver, gold, and hematite and on sale for $17.90.
  • Kendra Scott “Deanna” Pendant Necklace: An elegant and classic necklace that looks hip now but stylish for years to come.  Available in six different colors, on sale for $51.90.
  • Halogen ‘Marlie’ Calf Hair Pointy Toe Pump: Gosh I wanted to justify buying these shoes!  However, I already own a very similar pair.  I own a pair of Halogen shoes and find them pretty decent quality and they hold up well.  Two leopard prints to choose from plus berry and black.  $59.90
  • Tasha Chain Mesh Collar Necklace: I was THISCLOSE to buying this myself, and will likely regret not snagging it.  Totally badass, available in gold, hematite, and silver and on sale for $37.90
  • Hobo ‘Zara’ Patent Leather Crossbody: My sister has this bag and it’s the perfect size to carry all your need without bulk; it’s become her Night Out bag and I’m tempted to snag one for myself.  Black, Camel, Red, and on sale for $64.90.
  • Halogen Leather Crossbody Bag: I love a good leather bag that’s free of logos and trendy details.  This bag is one you can have an enjoy for many years without looking dated.  Black, blue, and camel on sale for $78.90.
  • Louise et Cie ‘Azalya’ Mini Wedge Flat: Gray leopard calfhair with a cute bow detail, a tiny wedge that makes it even nicer for the office.  Medium and wide widths available. $69.90
  • BP. ‘Burton’ Moto Boot: A cool looking knee-high leather boot under $100.  $89.90

Incorporating New Trends and Silhouettes:

  • Bellatrix Faux Wrap Front Blouse: I’ve written before about draped tops, and I think they’re great on their own, or under a blazer.  I have a Bellatrix blouse and find the quality nice; this top comes in basic black and five fun prints and is on sale for $39.90.
  • Chelsea28 Fit & Flare Skirt: Another item I was THISCLOSE to purchasing.  The midi skirt is still hot for fall, and looks so cute with simple sweaters.  The creamy color will modernize the black and gray currently in your closet.  $58.90
  • Vince Camuto Lace Panel Cardigan (Plus): So simple, but the lace detail really takes your outfit up a notch.  $88.90
  • KUT from the Kloth ‘Lincoln’ Faux Leather Drape Front Jacket: A great way to jazz up weekend knits or wear as a soft jacket to the office.  It also gets good reviews on the site.  Available in black and chocolate and on sale for $59.90.
  • Foxcroft Graphic Jaquard Cardigan (Plus): I love the preppy print and can see it on the weekend with a Breton tee and jeans and at work with a simple shell and trousers.  I have a Foxcroft cardigan and find them very well made. $76.90
  • Halogen Leather Front Shell:  Buy this for me, because I want it soooo bad! Pair with jeans, a pleated chiffon skirt, a pencil skirt, under a cream blazer.  Regular and petite sizes, $98.90.
  • Sejour ‘Metropolitan’ Faux Leather Front Peplum Top (Plus): Ignore how it says peplum, it’s more of a fit and flare.  This top could be paired with a pencil skirt for work or rocked for evening with black skinny pants or dark jeans and heels.  $78.90

A Nordstrom Update

The day after my previous post about Nordstrom, I was contacted by their Corporate Communications department via email and then by telephone. Today Chris from Nordstrom and I had a lovely call during my lunch hour and I have more insight concerning the change in shipping styles and policies for the company.

Before, if the Nordstrom warehouse didn’t have your Via Spigas or Rachel Palley in stock, you would be told that. Tough tootsies, mamacita. Now what Nordstrom does is their system will check all the Nordstrom stores to see if one of them has your item in stock. This means you have a better chance of getting the item you desire and not seeing the dreaded “Out of Stock” message. Also, Nordstrom is working with some retailers so they can deliver the item directly from THEIR warehouse, instead of having it shipped twice –first to Nordstrom, and then to you. Think Amazon.com.

This process has been going on for about a year, and Nordstrom is working hard to improve and perfect the process. However in the mean time, if you order five things, they could possibly come from five different stores (or a mix of stores, warehouse and the brand’s headquarters). Chris from Nordstrom asked for the order number for the order I referenced in my post. He was able to see from his computer that the tights and bracelet came from headquarters, the shoes from a store, and the earrings directly from the manufacturer (what they call a “drop ship vendor”).

When Chris realized that big box only held that tiny jewelry box and knew that the shipment came from a “drop ship vendor,” he said he would be contacting the vendor to comment on this and hope that they will use less packing materials in the future to be consistent with Nordstrom’s style and beliefs.

Yes, Nordstrom has Green methods and beliefs. They work hard to be eco-friendly and are proud to be a landfill-free at headquarters. Chris informed me that Nordstrom has ordered some new shipping materials – new box sizes and even some small shipping pouches for accessories and other small objects. We Nordstrom customers will be seeing this change in the future.

And in the future, the shipping process should be streamlined – they will be able to comingle store and warehouse items in shipments.

Thanks Nordstrom, for taking the time to contact me and answer all of my questions. I am still a loyal customer and look forward to the changes in the future!

What I Wore: Old School Allie

wardrobe oxygen what I wore Red Fossil Leather Erin Satchel wardrobe oxygen what i wore fossil red leather bag wardrobe oxygen what I wore ann taylor stripe tee loft pants fossil bag
Tee: Ann Taylor | Pants: LOFT | Scarf: Liberty London (similar) | Bag: c/o Fossil (similar) | Watch: Citizen | Bracelets: Nordstrom, Rebecca Minkoff (similar) | Shoes: Cole Haan (similar)

I wore this outfit last week to work and I felt very Classic Allie. My sister bought me this scarf a few years ago when she visited London and I love pairing it with stripes. And well, we all know I love stripes! I put away laundry this weekend and was floored how I have a drawer of almost all striped tees, but I wear them all and they all have different purposes, fits, and colors. This one I recently picked up at Ann Taylor; I like the notched hem and leather elbow patches which makes it look a bit more polished than a traditional tee, and I liked the sale price!

Recent Purchases – Nordstrom

I cleaned out my purse last weekend and found $80 worth of Nordstrom Rewards. I felt this was a sign so I decided to check out Nordstrom’s sale department. Here’s what I I liked, and what I didn’t like so much:


As you can tell from this post, I liked this skirt.  It’s a weird fabric – sort of cheapy spongy polyester knit, sort of ponte.  It’s redeeming factor is that it is fully lined, which gives it a nice weight and keeps it from clinging too much.  Side hidden zipper, zipper pocket detail – these are FAUX pockets which was a bit of a disappointment. But the skirt comes in a variety of sizes and lengths (and other prints too, some which are on sale, some which are not) and I think can dress up or down with ease.  I like the python print – I think it will look fantastic with bright colors, yet also look classic with a crisp white shirt or black turtleneck sweater.


If I were six feet tall, I might like this dress.  A size Large made me feel as though I was a child playing dress-up in my mother’s closet.  The neckline went to the bottom of my ribs, the waistband was near my hipbones, and there was at least a foot of fabric pooling on the floor even though I was standing on my toes.  Yes, I am petite (5’3″), but I can usually carry off dresses like these with only a minor trimming of the hem.  I can’t even tell you how the dress looks because my reflection made me look as though I wrapped myself up in a curtain.


The green color is just as fantastic in person as it is on the website.   However the bag is just plain weird and cheap looking.  Shiny nylon with really fake looking leather trim.  The strap is very stiff and the buckle to adjust the strap doesn’t seem to vibe with the style of the bag itself.  The gold details are REALLY shiny, very fake looking.  The logo for the bag is on the back, and it’s a big green enamel heart with gold trim – totally not my style.  I wanted something bigger than my Hobo International “Libby” bag to have for concerts and events when I want my hands free, and a place for everything (camera, phone, lip gloss, ID, cash).  This is not the bag. 

Per this post, you can see I like this coat and have added it to my wardrobe.  It’s a great classic trench, but with flattering details.  It comes in petite, it’s not as shiny as one would think from the picture on the web, it’s single breasted, it’s not super long but long enough to be flattering with skirts.  There is a nice lining which will keep one warm on breezy fall days.  Water resistant.  The only thing I don’t like are the weird little metal grommet detail on the pockets – I find them superfluous and they make the jacket look a bit more casual and cheap.  However for such an otherwise lovely jacket for less than $90, I can ignore the grommets!


Just as cute in person as the picture on the web.  Unfortunately my foot is just too fat for them.  It’s not just that my foot is wide, but it’s too tall/full to fit into the shoe properly.  A shame, since it’s an elegant silhouette – a trendy shoe style but in a cut that would make them wearable and stylish seasons after the heeled loafer has left the fashion magazines.  Don’t let my fit issues sway you – I have unusually chubby feet and these shoes are only $64.90 – what a deal!


The jury’s still out on this one.  On one hand, it fits nicely in the shoulders and back; on the other hand the button is a bit too low for my petite frame.  It’s a nice stretchy ponte fabric that could dress up with a pencil skirt or look cute with a tank and jeans.  However, the button is strange (military-inspired pewter) and I would have to replace it; also the lining on the rolled sleeves is sheer and you can see the red through it (the other colors wouldn’t be as much of an issue).  It just feels cheap; I will need to try this with different things in my closet to see if it deserves a place in my collection.

The Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale is in full effect – have you scored any great deals from it?

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An Open Letter to Nordstrom

Dear Nordstrom,

I love you. You KNOW I love you. The only store credit card I still own is for you. When I worked retail and had a stressful day, I didn’t smoke a cigarette in the parking lot. I didn’t get a drink at the bar. I walked into Nordstrom. I breathed in the cool perfumed air, listened to the pianist near the beauty department, wandered around the shoe department. This calmed me down better than anything else. And really, I would prefer an Ice Storm from your Espresso bar over a Frappucinno any day.

I love shopping online with you – your site has great customer reviews, it’s clean and easy to navigate, you have a wonderful selection of larger sizes and shoes. Your return policy is fantastic, and truly it makes me spend MORE because you excel at customer service.

However lately you are upsetting me. A lot. So much, I am wondering if I should continue an online relationship with you. Nordstrom, it’s not your quality or your service, it’s your shipping.

A year ago, I knew I could place an order on a Monday and have it on my doorstep by Friday. Usually the order all came in a sturdy cardboard box, smartly packed with minimal supplies but maximum protection of my new goodies. Occasionally a beauty product or pair of shoes would come separately from a store instead of your warehouse. Even so, the item came quickly, and was packed well with minimal shipping supplies. I often kept the shipping boxes you sent – they were perfect for storing items in my closet or attic, and were far sturdier and reliable than shipping boxes from other online retailers. I felt good knowing that I could recycle or reuse most of the shipping materials.

I don’t see this any more with Nordstrom. I will place an order and be told that everything is in stock, and then get an email a few days later telling me an item won’t be available for WEEKS. Items come separately, and it sometimes takes over two weeks to get items from the date of supposed shipment. I can place an order on Monday and on Friday may get the top I ordered, the next Wednesday receive the jeans, then Friday maybe the shoes… if I am lucky. If multiple items arrive the same day, they are usually packaged separately. One in a UPS padded mailer, another in a lightweight cardboard box, another in your old-school sturdy well-made shipping boxes.

The two boxes I received from Nordstrom – all that packaging for those teeny-tiny items…

Take for example my recent purchase from you. On November 5, I placed an order for a bracelet, pair of earrings, pair of tights and a pair of leather booties. On November 10, I received two boxes on my doorstep.

The first one was a standard heavyweight box. Inside was… one little pair of tights and one little jewelry box with my new earrings. The other box was almost large enough for the booties and I thought maybe they arrived (was hoping they would come in time for the blogging event with Last Call). Nope, instead in that box was a lonely little jewelry box with the bracelet. Both boxes came from the Nordstrom warehouse, not a store. Today it is November 16 and I JUST received the booties at my door, in yet another separate cardboard box. I am not home, so do not know how these shoes have been shipped.

Nordstrom, I have to think that this process for shipping must be costing you a pretty penny. All these separate shipments from all over the country at different times. The cost for shipping, and all the cost for shipping materials. Not only that, but I am completely disgusted by the amount of materials you now use to deliver orders – three large boxes, shipping paper, plastic for these three separate shipments that could have easily all fit in one box. The amount of trees to make all this cardboard, the fuel used to manufacture the boxes and then to ship these boxes to me.

I hate having my items take so long to get to me, but I honestly would rather everything show up late and in the same box, than this stupid parade of cardboard. But then really, if you are going to start taking two weeks for shoes to arrive, I don’t see the point in choosing you over Zappos or another online retailer.

I love you Nordstrom, I really do. Because I love you, I tell you this. I want to help, but I don’t know how this relationship can continue if you keep going down this path.

XOXO,
Allie

The Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale

Nordstrom’s half-Yearly Sale is going on, and I encourage all of you to check it out online! Think your wallet can’t handle a purchase from this shopping Mecca? Think again. When you hit the link on their site for the sale, there are categories for purchases, and one is “Under $30.’ Yes, you can find dozens upon dozens of accessories, lingerie, workout clothes, shoes and cute regular, plus and maternity clothes for under $30!

I have been good lately. Really good. I have not visited malls, I haven’t even virtually window shopped online. I have decided to survive the winter with the wardrobe I currently own. I am the same size as last winter, and my clothing is basic enough that it doesn’t look dated. However this morning as I was getting ready for work and then an after-work event where I am going to see Andre Leon Talley speak, I realized my wardrobe is a bit… tired. Sweaters with fuzz balls, stretched out sleeves, slightly misshapen from multiple trips through the gentle cycle. Pants with hems resewn several times and often still held together with safety pins or Stitch Witchery. Linings that are torn and hang on my legs like chaps. Buttons missing, fabric snagged, and just over worn and tired. I feel good about my shoes, and I love my new bag for the fall/winter. My makeup is fun, my accessories are good, but the basic clothing is a bit too basic and a bit too boring.

Today when I had a slow point in my work day, I decided to check out Nordstrom online. I passed a Nordstrom on my last business trip and saw the signs for the sale. Figured it was as good a time as any to do take part in some retail therapy. Let’s add that through Gold Points I get 15 points for each dollar spent at the site, and if I use my Nordstrom card, I get double points toward gift certificates through the store (if you know you can handle credit cards and pay them off monthly, it’s worth it to invest in these types of cards. I have gotten hundreds of dollars for free at Nordstrom over the decade because of this feature).

I have been wanting a motocross-inspired jacket out of a vintage-looking leather. Stand up collar, zip front, crackled leather in either black or dark red. Every jacket I have seen and liked has been way over $250 – way too expensive for my budget. In the Half-Yearly sale I found a great version from Caslon for only $160, and it looks like a piece I have owned for decades. Just what I was looking for! I got some dangle sterling earrings for $24 (originally far more), two tops that are weekend or going-out appropriate (depending on the rest of the outfit) that were both under $35 (and originally over $50), and a really cute dress that is multi-season fabric and less than $40 (originally $75). I know, still a lot of money, but I am being realistic. There is a good chance that many of these pieces will not look good on me once they arrive, I also know that I NEED a jacket, not just want one. I have wanted earrings like this for over a year but can’t stomach the prices I have seen for sterling lately, and well the rest… I have been going out more lately and each time I get ready for an evening with friends I have a minor panic attack because my wardrobe is almost entirely Business Casual and not Fun with Girls Casual. So my hope is these three things will cost less than anti-anxiety pills or trips to the therapist’s couch!

So head over to Nordstrom and see if you may be able to find some of your Needs or Wants But Can’t Affords in their Half Yearly Sale. Happy Shopping!

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale: What I’m Loving

Oh Nordstrom, I just can’t quit you! Great selection, phenomenal customer service, and awesome deals such as your Anniversary Sale! I have a Nordstrom Card so I had early access to the sale but restrained myself, only getting a few more pairs of Hanky Panky Retro High-Waist Thongs and this skirt, but here’s some items from the sale that caught my eye:

Sale Price: $119 (regularly $188)

It’s hard to find a single-breasted trench with classic styling, even harder to find one with a hood (come on, our heads also get wet in the rain!). This one from Michael Kors has a look that will be chic now as well as years from now, comes in classic black and khaki or you can be bold with red, and it also comes in Petite!

Sale Price: $39.90 (regularly $62)

After my friend Morgan raved about this bra, I have been wanting to try it. Unfortunately Nordstrom doesn’t have it in my size, but maybe they have it in yours!

Sale Price: $6.90 (regularly $11)

Okay I lied, once I started writing this I remembered I ordered another pair of these in black. By far my favorite tights – they are a medium weight, fit great, don’t sag mid-day and are durable enough to last more than one season.

Sale Price: $24.90 (regularly $38)

My other favorite tights – these are just as durable as the ones from Nordstrom but with famous SPANX® control. I love that they are high-waisted so you don’t get cut in the middle and have a seamless look under sheaths and fitted pieces. I have walked barefoot on concrete in these and haven’t gotten a snag – another brand that will last more than one season.

Pants Sale Price: $176 (regularly $265); Jacket Sale Price: $259 (regularly $395)

Theory is known for making incredibly well-fitting suiting, but the price can often be hard to swallow. With these sale prices it is more reasonable, and with such classic styling, this suit is a wardrobe staple that will get much use for many occasions and for many years.

Note: If you also want a skirt for the suit, the Theory ‘Golda – Tailor’ Pencil Skirt is on sale for $129 (regularly $200).

Sale Price: $48.90 (regularly $74)

I wrote about my love of Foxcroft shirts before, and this is a fantastic deal for a classic white wrinkle-free button-front. Wear now with the sleeves rolled (or even with the hem tied!); wear come cooler months in the traditional way with everything from suits and pencil skirts to jeans and stilettos.

Sale Price: $52.90 (regularly $79)

These trouser jeans are brilliant! I love the smooth pull-on waist – why bulk up your midsection with buttons and zippers if you plan on wearing an untucked blouse? I have Jag Jeans and love them – great fit, good quality denim, and they keep their shape and color nicely. I also love that they are free of logos and embellishments – just clean, stylish denim.

Sale Price: $169.90 (regularly $248)

Talk about a fashion statement! Leather is going to be major again this fall, and this jacket does leather right with a classic silhouette and a subtle use of the material. This would look hot with jeans and a simple striped tee, and would also be a perfect coat for dresses and skirts.

Sale Price: $45.90 (regularly $69)

Jazz up weekends with a cevron stripe in place of your classic solid; this sweater would also look great for the office over a button-front shirt and paired with a pencil skirt and tall boots. I love all the color combinations, but am partial to the Navy Peacoat/Pear stripe (pictured).

Sale Price: $64.90 (regularly $98)

What a fun fall jacket! The stripes will surely make a statement, and would look great with jeans on the weekend or over a brightly-colored dress and black tights for the office.

Sale Price: $84.90 (regularly $128)

I am always on the hunt for a classic-cut blazer made of a heavyweight knit. It’s not as constricting or bulky as a classic blazer, but still can give that professional look at the office. Not only that, it dresses down nicely and looks great with a cami and jeans for a night out. If you desire color, this blazer is also available in teal for the same sale price.
Note: Make it a sassy suit with the Sejour Ponte Knit & Faux Leather Skirt (Plus) on sale for only $49.90 (regularly $78)

Sale Price: $51.90 (regularly $79)

A great alternative to the blazer or cardigan, this piece mixes both for around $50. Again, a bunch of great color combinations – do note one reviewer says the mustard is more of a lime color.

Sale Price: $84.90 (regularly $128)

Peplums aren’t going away any time soon, and this piece is relatively budget-friendly for it also including the hot leather trend. I love the exposed zipper int he back too!

Sale Price: $149.90 (regularly $228)

This is a fantastic price for a leather skirt. Classic shape but with fun details like zipper pockets. I recommend you size down as leather skirts always stretch.

Sale Price: $59.90 (regularly $88)

If you don’t like this print, search the site for there are several others to choose from. I think this is a beautiful and versatile blouse that would look great untucked with jeans or tucked into trousers or a skirt for the office. Also love that it comes in petite sizes.

Sale Price: $26.90 (regularly $36)

I have it, I love it, and this price is pretty great.
I didn’t cover beauty, shoes, or accessories since those are such personal purchases and sizes and colors are limited. But do check them out, there’s some fabulous deals for fall and winter!

As a reminder, Nordstrom has free shipping and returns every day. If you first go through Ebates you will also get 5% cash back on your entire purchase! What are you getting from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale?

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Nordstrom Rack – My Latest Shopping Experience

I recently had the opportunity to check out a local Nordstrom Rack, see their fall selection and do a little shopping. Continue reading to hear what I thought about the store, the selection, and what I ended up buying!

Continue reading…

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Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale – Allie’s Picks

If you read my blog, you know I adore Nordstrom. Great brands, great customer service, clean restful stores, easily-navigated Website, and great prices.

Yep, you read that correctly. Nordstrom has great prices.

Whether it’s their brands Caslon or Halogen for on-trend yet wallet-friendly pieces, to their constantly refilled sale department (or Nordstrom Rack), to their regular prices often being a hair lower than their competitors, I find Nordstrom to be a place where I can find fashion for a reasonable price.

Nordstrom has their Half-Yearly Sale just before the start of the next big fashion season and it’s a great time to get sale pieces for a bigger discount, or current items for a temporarily lower price. I have purchased during Nordstrom’s Half-Yearly sale items that a month later cost 25% more and are still in high demand. Right now the Nordstrom site has over 50 pages of women’s clothing and accessories for their Half-Yearly sale; I know from past experience that there is even more selection in the stores and the online list may grow. Here’s some of my picks under $100 from the Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale:

Gotta love getting a suit for under $100! This cropped little jacket and clean-line trousers makes a wonderful summer suit, or are great separates. Pumice would look amazing with a bright pink or coral colored top; the Dark Indigo keeps with this season’s denim trend but in a refined work-appropriate way. Add the Halongen ‘Sheen’ Bermuda shorts for a cute summer short suit ($39.90).

I always need a new cardigan each spring – though it may be blazing hot outside, it gets chilly in air-conditioned offices, restaurants, and public transportation. These little blazers are a great way to incorporate a hot new color into your wardrobe without spending a bundle, and this version gets great reviews from customers. I’m digging “Rainforest” with this season’s oranges and pinks, and you can’t go wrong with “Poppy” to complement denim, chambray, and all the neutrals in your wardrobe.

Speaking of cardigans… I just referenced this same cardi in my Savings.com post this Monday! I was writing about how to get Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP look for less and used this cardigan as a cheaper alternative to the Aubin + Wills version on Net a Porter… and now it’s on sale! A classic piece that would look great this spring and summer with white shorts and capris, and lovely come fall with a pencil skirt and tall boots.

I own this same shoe in silver and love how delicate yet wearable they are. The thin straps dress this shoe up, yet the snakeskin makes it wearable for day or night. A classic style at a really nice price.

I have both of these in champagne; bought them at the last half-yearly sale. The strands are super long so doubled up they are still at a length that gives a nice hang past the bust; triple them for a short necklace in the collar of a shirt. These are high quality glass pearls; nice and heavy, even color, knots between each bead, a silver tag at the back of the necklace. I wear one of each size together and add a gold chain necklace for some depth and texture. You’re not a kid anymore; if you can’t afford real pearls this is an elegant and mature alternative.

Halogen Seamed Knit Skirt ($38.90 – $39.90)

I have this skirt in blue; my sister has it in Fever Pink and we both love it. The Fever Pink and Chalet Green are $38.90; in Black it is $39.90. This is a classic Ponte de Roma fabric, flattering seaming, a simple pencil skirt silhouette that can be worn year-round. It says to dry clean, but I machine wash mine on the gentle cycle in a lingerie bag and let it air dry and haven’t had any issues.

When I was writing my GOOP Look for Less article, I happened upon this dress and found it utterly perfect. Soft rayon-spandex blend, classic silhouette, flattering sash at the waist. Could jazz it up with a contrast-color tank peeking out underneath, switch out the self-belt for a wide elasticized one, cover with a cardigan or jacket, pair with heels or flats. Black is always a wise choice, but you may be amazed at how versatile the pink can be!

Over and over again, Paige’s ‘Hidden Hills’ bootcuts are rated as some of the most flattering jeans out there, especially for women with curves. To find them in a really elegant, classic wash and a price under $100 is fantastic! Check out the reviews, women of all shapes and sizes rave about these jeans; grab them at this price while they are still available!

I own this jacket in the Rosemary color – wore it Monday in fact! It’s lightweight, on-trend, has great detailing and a very nice price. Snap it up while it’s still in stock!

Yep, wearing these today. They are a classic style, can handle a run in the washer and dryer, and they aren’t see-through. Great quality stretch denim that keeps its shape through the day.

I have this bag in a pumpkin color that I nabbed at last year’s Hobo International sample sale and I love it. It’s tiny, but it can fit my SmartPhone or camera, along with a lip gloss, ID, money, gum, and a couple other essentials. The muted brass hardware makes it work with any jewelry in your wardrobe, and Hobo is known for making quality leather goods. Basic black is versatile, but colors like Citrus can add a great punch to spring and summer ensembles.

If the price is nice, it’s smart to shop now for fall and winter wardrobe pieces. These shoes from Steve Madden are feminine, stylish, yet classic. This is a style that won’t be going out of fashion any time soon. Adorable with retro looks, as well as with opaque hose, a pencil skirt and turtleneck. I have a pair of patent Mary Janes and find they go with so many different looks in my closet!

This is the time of year to buy a trench; they seem to be on sale everywhere! I have owned trenches from Gallery for decades and love their quality workmanship, elegant details, and classic lines. This version is available in black, red, and olive. However check out all of the sale for there are many trenches available in other colors, lengths, and shapes. This one just struck my fancy because I liked the length and fun color choices.

To all you city commuters, take a gander at these shoes. In place of your beat-up ballet flats that smell, your Reef flip flops, your over-played Tory Burch flats with the backs bent down… how about some adorable patent-leather penny loafers? I am LOVING the Tangerine Patent, but really I don’t see a single color I don’t like in the collection. These are a wonderful choice for a commuting shoe: tuck in your bag and slip on for your walk home. What’s great is they look cute all the time – pair with pants and capris for a modern take on the preppy look; they would also be a lovely contradiction to a floaty midi-length skirt.

There are tons of other amazing items available at the sale; I just chose some basics that were available under $100. Have you shopped the Nordstrom Half-yearly sale yet? What scores did you find?

BTW, don’t forget to first go to Ebates before you head to Nordstrom – this way you can get 5% cash back on your entire purchase!  SCORE!

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Spring has Sprung in my Closet

Spring has sprung here in DC! Hooray for bare legs, packing up the hats and mittens, and being able to expose elbows and toes! With each change of season, there’s usually a change of wardrobe. I’ve found that closet organization has been good physical therapy for me; the pinching of clips to hang skirts, holding the weight of a full hanger, folding scarves and jeans. With my arm, this process has been extremely slow, but that time is great for really thinking about what is in my closet, what I really need, and what I really need to remove from my collection.

The trends this spring and summer are so refreshing; after seasons of bright and bold, fitted and funky there’s a move to subtleness, quality, detail, and drape. I saw it on the runways, I see it in the stores, and I feel it in my heart. I started gravitating toward simpler pieces and colors in 2013, but desire it even more in 2014, especially after my broken arm. After six weeks predominately in loungewear, I crave dressing, but simple, easy, yet elegant dressing. Here’s a peek into my Spring/Summer mindset:

For clothing, it’s not terribly different from the past, but now it feels more cohesive. I’m liking (1) midi-length skirts, but somehow they look more right on me when part of a dress. I have pretty much this same dress; last summer’s LOFT collection, and know it will get a ton more wear this year. (2) White feels really right this year, even before Memorial Day. I’ve been wearing white jeans, boyfriend jeans, and pants quite a lot already (if you’re new to white outside of summer, start simple by pairing it with black). Each season I end up having a signature color without even thinking about it and based upon my closet, this season it’s (3) orange-red.  I type this while wearing a linen sweatshirt of this color, and desire a shift dress like the one pictured.  I’m really digging classic trousers this spring, paired with everything, from blouses to sweaters to tee shirts; I’m on the hunt for the perfect pair in (4) navy.  I’m loving how there’s a trend towards draping and purposeful slouchiness this season and have been gobbling up things that are (5) off the shoulder; I’d pair a top like this with slim white jeans.  I also like the trend of purposeful draping, a top like this (6) can be worn with jeans for a night out, or slipped under a suit for the workweek.  I’m always happy when weathered, worn, and distressed denim (7) are on trend; they please my inner Lita Ford and love the contrast with more classic pieces.  And it wouldn’t be my wardrobe if it doesn’t have a few striped shirts (8) in it!

For accessories, I’m craving fewer pieces, fewer necklaces, and again am drawn to orange-red accents.  Thinking about my faves, I saw they are sort of lumped into three categories:

  • Vacation Inspired: I love white Panama hats and fedoras, I know they’ve been in style for a while and may be less trendy but I think they’re quite classic and these days I’m doing all I can to protect myself from the sun.  I love them with jeans and striped tees, I love them with sundresses, and I love that they hide bad hair days!  I’m also loving my new Converse Shorelines, which make Chucks finally comfortable for me.  With the elasticized back and lower profile, they’re comfy and easy to slip on and off.  Aviators are always my favorite, as are scarves.  Now that bandanas are back in style, I’ve been pulling out my collection of them and square scarves and using them to jazz up simple knits.
  • Bold Silver:  This is nothing new, silver is my signature metal and I’ve been wearing my big sterling cuff for 17 years.  Now I’ve added a pair of silver Birkenstocks to my wardrobe, increasing my silver.  I love mixing shiny silver with a more relaxed material; the bracelets from Lifetherapy are a fave of mine.  I have several of them and love looping one of their wrap bracelets (especially in this season’s signature color of orange!) over the cuff to switch it up. 
  • Classic Gold: When my arm was in a cast, I relied on a watch since pulling out my phone was more difficult.  I’ve come to really like the convenience and style, and adore my Citizen Ciena Eco-Drive.  I recently got this cuff from Rebecca Minkoff which is smaller than what I’ve been known to wear and I like it.  Again, been wearing a lot of square scarves, be they around my throat, tied in my hair, or hanging off my purse.  I got a pair of Nine West “Flax” pumps in Natural and they’re a great nude pump, a comfortable height and go with almost my entire wardrobe.

My makeup has also been influenced by my time with a cast; it’s hard to have precision with your non-dominant hand. While I spent much of the winter with bold lips and liquid liner, lately I’m more into a subtle smoky eye, bronzer over blush, and glossy lips in a more natural hue. Miracle Skin Transformer has become my go-to while dealing with a broken arm since it’s so easy and so many beauty products in one.  I’m a mascara junkie and I love Too Faced’s Better Than False Lashes enough to buy a second time. It’s not a product to use when you’re short on time, but they do make my lashes look lusher than any other brand.  I got the Urban Decay lipliner in Naked as a freebie with a Beauty.com order and I use it almost daily with a natural colored gloss (adoring NARS Viva).  And then the original Naked palette from Urban Decay is still a fave for a no-makeup makeup look, a soft smoky eye, or to even replace liner.


Has spring sprung in your closet?  What are you loving this season in regard to trends or new to you classics?

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What I Wore: Real Red

Dress: Belle c/o Dobbin Clothing | Bag: “Erin” Satchel c/o Fossil | Tights: Nordstrom | Boots: Ros Hommerson  | Bracelets: had forever, Nordstrom (similar) | Watch: Citizen c/o WatchCo | Coat: Via Spiga

Fossil was kind enough to send me this bag and I immediately fell in love with the color. It’s not cherry, it’s not tomato, it’s not ruby or oxblood or any other fancy terms. It’s as clear and true of a red as a crayon. I checked the bag’s label and it’s called Real Red. I like that, no crazy made-up name, just what is exactly is. This bag is pretty phenomenal, and perfect for a commuter like me. Two side zipper pockets to hold things like farecards and lip balm, and inside there is a zipper pocket on one side, and the other side five different pockets to hold anything from a Smartphone or your keys to business cards and a pack of gum. And in this bag I have my wallet, Kindle (did you enter my Kindle giveaway?), makeup bag, myAgenda, sunglasses, gloves, journal, and two reusable containers to hold my lunch. Impressive! The crossbody strap is adjustable to become a shoulderbag, or it can be removed. I know this bag is going to be used quite a lot this season!

I never understand why street style models and bloggers wear their coats on their shoulders like a cape.  How can they move their arms?  Why not just put on the coat?  Then I realized on cold days I do this very thing – I wear the coat like a cape from the house and over my shoulders until Karl gets ready to take pictures.  This way my outfit doesn’t get as rumpled and I’m less likely to mess up my hair.  Karl got this picture of me in the coat at the beginning of the shoot and it showcases the coat I bought last winter on a whim and still adore a year later (and it’s still available at Nordstrom and now on sale!).

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My Wardrobe Today – Monday

Tee - LOFT
Skirt – Ann Taylor (bought on eBay 5 years ago for $14.99, no clue how old, label style unfamiliar to me)
TightsNordstrom
BootiesCole Haan
Scarf – c/o Nordstrom Rack
BagSabina
Silver cuff

I forgot to set my alarm last night. My body woke me up at 7:15 (glad it wasn’t 8:15) and I had 45 minutes to get myself together and out the door. I had pulled this skirt out of my stash of potential winter things and a month ago it was just too tight, too short, and I thought I would re-eBay it. I pulled it on this morning since it was sitting on the cedar chest at the foot of the bed… and it fit! Only thing wrong is I guess the hem dry rotted and has fallen out while wearing (easy to fix). Very excited to have another leather skirt in my arsenal!

New bag – I had $40 in Nordstrom rewards, saw this bag for $129 and decided to try it.  I have wanted a bigger bag to carry my netbook and such, and wanted a soft black purse (currently have my Banana Republic one which is that textured hard leather like a football). Love the bag, so soft, holds so much, necessary front pocket (with magnet closure) and hey… gotta love such a quality bag for only $89!

Sorry for the delay in posting, work has gotten really hectic. Glad I stocked the office fridge with Lean Cuisines because that’s the only way I get to eat anything. The only time I have left my desk is to hit the printer or the bathroom (and refill my water bottle!). Whew, what a crazy couple of weeks!

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My Wardrobe Today – Tuesday

Black Knit Moto Jacket – Gap (no longer available online but you may find in their stores in black or gray)
Black Ponte Dress with Exposed Back Zipper – LOFT (no longer available online which is a shame because I LOVE LOVE LOVE this dress!)
Belt – Ann Taylor (bought a couple years ago)
Black Patent Mary Janes – Nine West (see below)


Shop your closet, folks. Shop your closet!

I have been spending this week doing a hardcore closet clean-out.  I dumped everything out of my bureau and only put back that which I like.  I made one bag of things to donate, and one bag of things to put on eBay.  Now I am working on my closet.  I took everything out that is too small, too big, too ugly, too worn.  There’s a pile of items to repair, and then I added to my two bags.

I am putting all my shoes in boxes on the shelf, because the floor of the closet it a bit of a No Mans Land. My dogs sometimes like to take a nap in there, my husband uses it as a place to throw things and close the door when people come over, I often find Emerson’s books and toys hidden in corners… anyway it’s a bad place to keep shoes. I opened each box to ensure the shoes inside match the label on the outside… and found these shoes!

Long-time readers may remember them. I saw them at Nordstrom a couple years ago and HAD TO HAVE THEM. They only had them in 7. I ordered them, and they were far too small. I started searching online for these shoes from another retailer and found then for half the price of Nordstrom, but only in an 8. I ordered them anyway… and they were too big. I think I wore them twice, both times bad experiences with rubbing, blisters, and carefully shuffling from Metro to office. After that, I shoved them in the box, stuck them in the back of the closet and figured I would eventually put them on eBay.

Well last night I found them and tried them on… and now they fit! Not only do they fit, they are pretty comfy! I am so excited because on my shopping list I had a pair of patent Mary Janes. Granted, I wanted all black with a pointy toe and a slimmer heel, but these are pretty stellar. I had a stranger stop me on the street and ask me who made my shoes and two coworkers said they are “Fierce.” Hooray!

Tonight I hope to finish the closet and this weekend hope to tackle the attic. After that I will be posting even more stuff on eBay – check it out!

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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Woman Cannot Live on Ribbed Tanks Alone…

I went shopping this weekend with my sister, and a bit by myself. I was not nearly as successful as I had hoped to be….

Mall #1:

  • Black ribbed tank, Caslon (Nordstrom – got one last year and it has held up amazingly well)
  • Gray ribbed tank, Caslon (Nordstrom)
  • Pair of black Hanky Panky thongs (Nordstrom – love these, they are sexy and comfortable and durable!)
  • Coral surplice-front sleeveless top, Banana Republic (I think I will return it; my sister loved it on me, I like the color but I don’t LOVE me in it… hanging in the closet right now with the receipt safety-pinned to the label)
  • Other Attempts:
    • I did try on some of the new BCBG collection and was impressed with the cut, though they still do not cater to a large bust (tried on a Pucci-inspired dress in black, white and turquoise and the synthetic fabric went sheer over my bust due to the straining of the fabric).
    • I tried the David Khan jeans because they had them in Petite at Nordstrom and I do like them very much, but I didn’t want to lie down with them and then marry them and possibly bear children with them. I need to feel this for jeans that are over $150. I could date them for a long while, but I didn’t feel the PASSION… I shall keep looking!
    • A floral baby-doll top at Torrid. Oh gosh, please remind me to NEVER try on anything with elastic at the armholes! So bad on me!

Old Navy:

  • Coral ribbed tank
  • White ribbed tank
  • Camouflage-print Bermuda shorts (in a size 10! Love that vanity sizing at old Navy!)
  • Other Attempts:
    • The sundresses in the ads that are under $30 but now on sale for $24? Yeah, buy them only if you have short legs, small boobs and a wide torso. The dresses were too short for my 5’3” frame, no room made for breasts, and you could see the underwire, connector between the underwire and most of the cup of my bra in the Large and the XL wouldn’t stay on my shoulders, it was so wide in shape.
    • The linen Bermudas are super cute, but run super small. So small, I just couldn’t fathom going up 1-2 sizes for a comfortable and flattering fit.
    • Sorry, Old Navy tanks are just not as nice as the Caslon ones. Their color selection right now SUCKS, but I am a sucker for coral and my J. Crew white ribbed tank should be burned.
    • There are a TON of dresses in Old Navy right now, made to fit a taller person with smaller breasts. There is a sleeveless v-neck fine jersey one that comes in black, brown, coral and leaf green. It is a gorgeous dress that could work for work, play, a beach cover-up or even a wedding. If you are over 5’5” I encourage you to check it out; I believe it’s under $30. There are knit ones with adjustable spaghetti straps that are also quite lovely (I almost bought the gray one but decided it was too revealing in the bust area).
    • Dark denim cuffed jeans – They fit, they were dark with the selvage… they hit at the WORST place on my leg… right at the top of my very wide calf. These jeans made me look as though I had gained 30 pounds all below the belt. So bad.


Mall #2 on Lunch Break Today:

  • Coconut Body Butter and Body Scrub, the Body Shop (I was out, I had received a gift and didn’t want it so made an exchange).
  • Coral scoop-necked longer tee, Gap (um, yes I already own this same very tee but it was $6.99 and I accidentally put my current one in the dryer making it not as crisp so I felt it was a good purchase).
  • Hibiscus zip-up heavy canvas/fleece hoodie with a distressed look, Gap (I do not own a single hoodie and wish for one for brisk mornings walking the dog, camping trips, bumming around the house. It was $12.99 and a pretty color and a good fit).
  • Black stretch twill trousers, Caslon (Nordstrom – petites section, they are $68, unlined, come in olive and brown and beige and black. They had white in regular length and if I find them in Petite will snag them. They are a perfect length for me even with heels, they hug the butt in a “look at my new thinner butt!” way and not in a “I am a hoochie mama!” way. They are begging to be ironed with a nice crisp crease down the front, and they do not need to be dry cleaned so I am looking forward to them being a new pair of work pants (with a jacket or hip-length top) or weekend pants (with anything… looked cute even with my ribbed tank and necklace in the fitting room!). These pants were not on the Nordstrom website this weekend; they have a very wide waistband with double hook-and-eye and a button.
  • Other Attempts:
    • All of Ann Taylor is navy. This sucks, because I do not own navy pants, nor navy shoes. I refuse to buy navy or brown in large quantities for the need to adjust my shoes and accessory wardrobe to accommodate the colors. Long ago I decided my neutrals would be black, white, stone, cream and gray. For these, I have shoes. I will not go into debt for a beautiful navy printed silk top, and I do not like camel or tan shoes on me.
    • Gap has what looks like dark denim cutoff shorts at around Bermuda length. Oh no, they are culottes. They are not gauchos, they are culottes. They are AWFUL and made me giggle in the fitting room. I would like to see them be flattering on SOMEONE. Not fit, not seem hip, but actually be FLATTERING. I can’t imagine it.

American Apparel Website:

  • The scoop-necked ribbed tees I wore the heck out of last summer, though this summer I invested only in the royal blue and the bright orange.
  • Other Alternatives:
    • Nothing. Everything else on that site is a bit strange or slutty. Almost bought a pair of legwarmers but thought better of it.

J.Crew Website:

  • Bright light green tissue-weight merino boatneck sweater
  • Bright orange/coral v-neck Egyptian Cotton sweater
  • Pair of jeans… will see if they look good.
  • Other Alternatives:
    • Nothing really. Not to impressed so far this season.

Things I am Jonesing For Now That I Have Ventured to a Mall:

  • Pretty much the entire catalog I received from Athleta. I love this catalog! It makes me want to go rock climbing or something.
  • A white wrap shirt with stretch that will fit nicely over my bust (no cami, maybe a small safety pin, a nice clean look).
  • Dark jeans with a real strong crease down the front and some stretch
  • A fabulous pair of peep-toe wedges that make people gasp with jealousy and desire.
  • A crisp green scent of perfume… considering the new Chanel Chance Eau Fraiche as that I have worn Chance in the winter and loved it.
  • A longer top, sorta hippie, sorta sheer, maybe white with embroidery. Tried a close attempt of this idea on at Gap, but it had such a low v-front it would need a cami… not too wearable in humid Eastern Seaboard summers. I want to wear it with jeans and sandals.
  • A new pair of comfy black shoes that can be worn for photography shoots, wedding coordination and not make me look dorky.
  • A new black synthetic cami that hugs the body (not cotton)
  • A big skinny pair of silver hoops
  • Some new yoga pants and maybe a top that isn’t an old fitted tee. This is something I now do 4-6 times a week, I want to treat my dedication with something better than old faded sweats.
  • A crinkled linen dress, preferably with a surplice neck, empire waist, in khaki or black or indigo… something that can be worn with heeled sandals and a necklace for a summer wedding, made work-appropriate, or fine with flops for dinner at the beach.
  • White stretch twill pants with a clean straight leg and a nice crease down the front. Heck, if there is a matching blazer I’ll snag that too!

Amazing how a trip to the mall can totally transform your ideas! I will take your lsit of makeup suggestions this week to a lunch-break Sephora venture!

How to Shop: eBay

For a long time, I was terrified of eBay. I didn’t understand it, and felt that I could easily be scammed by sellers who were passing off fakes as authentic, taking my money and not sending me items, pretty much getting screwed by the whole process.

A few years ago, I fell madly in love with the Sandhurst hobo bag from Banana Republic. I went into the store often to drool over it. I would stand in front of a mirror, hold it in my hand, sling over my shoulder, and admire my reflection. However, I just couldn’t afford the price. A friend suggested I look for it on eBay. I did, found a seller who had the exact style and color I desired and was able to get the bag brand new in its dust cover for 30% off the retail price.

After that I was hooked on eBay for brand-name accessories. If I loved a certain necklace from J. Crew or bag from Rebecca Minkoff, I would get the style number and name, the color, the measurements, and then head to eBay. Often times I could find it, and for far cheaper than retail.

I don’t claim to be an eBay expert, but many of you have asked about how I go about shopping on the site. Here’s some of my tips and tricks for navigating eBay:

Accessories on eBay


Shopping for Accessories on eBay

When You Know Exactly What You Want
So you want the Essex bag from Kate Spade? Before you buy retail, head to eBay. There are lots of reasons why people are selling items on eBay. Maybe they got it as a gift or won it in a contest, possibly they are thinning out their collection, maybe it’s a store sample, and yes maybe it’s hot or a fake.

The search function on eBay is pretty robust. I usually start by typing in the brand and style name into the search function (you can often find this info on Google if you don’t already know it). If that doesn’t give me the results I desire, I will make the search broader and just enter the brand name, and then the type of item (handbag, jewelry, sunglasses, etc.). Often times sellers do not know the style name or number, so by adding that to your search you may end up with zero results.

I then search through the selections and in a separate browser tab/window, open any that fit my criteria. I then look at each different auction. Are they really the same item and color? What is the condition of each? Who has the better options and price for shipping? What are their return policies?

I look at the seller – I care less about how many thousands of sales they have had, and more on the quality of their feedback. I go and read the feedback; I am especially interested in negative and neutral feedback. Recently I purchased a blouse from a seller who claimed the item was New Without Tags, never worn, pristine condition. When I received it, it was missing a button. I left neutral feedback, as that the blouse was as described except for the fact that a very important button (cannot be replaced) was missing and this was not in the description. The seller contacted me, angry about the neutral feedback and asked for me to return the blouse and remove my feedback. I again looked at her feedback and saw that in the past six months she had two other neutral feedbacks from folks stating their items were not quite as described. I chose to leave that feedback to warn future customers; I wonder how many either didn’t notice their purchase’s flaw or accepted the seller’s offer to return the item and remove the feedback.

Once I find the item and seller that I like, I stop and think, what is the maximum amount I would pay for this item? I then write it down so it is more concrete. I bid, and I NEVER go over that number. eBay will let you know when you are close to being outbid and when you have been outbid, and it’s so tempting to add a couple more dollars just to stay in the game. DON’T. I have a friend who admitted she spent $50 more on an item on eBay than it cost in the store just because she got caught up in the thrill of the auction. I feel that if you are bidding within 30% of the actual retail price for something on eBay it’s usually not worth it. Wait until you get a store coupon so you have the customer service to go with the item in case there is an issue/need for repairs or a return.

Nine times out of ten what you are bidding for on eBay you don’t need in the first place, so if it’s not in your price range, let it go. Seriously, let it go.

Once you get your item, carefully open the shipping package and inspect it from head to toe. Does it match the photos and description of the item? Were you extravagantly overcharged for the shipping? If you are happy, leave quick and detailed feedback about the shipping, the price, the quality, the communication of the seller. If you find an issue, let the seller know; she may offer a quick solution. If you’re wildly unhappy, don’t keep it to yourself – let the seller know and let the world know with your feedback. Feedback isn’t just for the seller, it’s for future customers, future yous who want to buy and know they are getting their money’s worth.

When You Don’t Know What You Want
You can search more general terms like “Stella and Dot ring” or “Ann Taylor” and then use the eBay-offered categories to break down to jewelry or shoes or bags. From there you can usually break it down even further by color, size, and specific type of item. I usually don’t, and let my mouse do the walking through dozens of pages of auctions while I eat my lunch or wait for a friend to arrive. If you don’t know what you want, it’s good to really take a tour because you may be pleasantly surprised with what you find. A search for peacock-feather earrings ended up finding me a great dress for Bonnaroo; a search for a charm bracelet got me my Anthropologie crystal bracelet.

As with others, investigate your seller, and write down a final price. Be sure to check shipping prices – sometimes they are so high (or coming from overseas) that it’s not worth it to wait for it to arrive, or you might as well buy it retail.

Clothing on eBay


Shopping for Clothing on eBay

I hardly ever go outside my brand comfort zone on eBay. I shop brands whose fit I know is consistent. It is either something I have already tried on in a store, or a designer with whom I am very familiar (hello Ann Taylor). Keep in mind, even your go-to brand (hello Ann Taylor!) changes its sizing over the years – you may be an 8 at that brand, but if the item is five years old you may find an 8 to be a bit snug.

The only time I will go outside my complete comfort zone is with vintage clothing, and then I have to have very detailed clothing measurements in the description. If you have questions, ask them! Ask the seller for a photo of the back view of the dress, ask if the skirt is lined or what type of slit it has in the back. Ask if it’s more of a midnight navy or a dark blue, and ask for the fabric content. If you are unsure of the year, ask to see a photo of the label (most retailers slightly change the logo or look of their label every couple of years – you can often Google to find a timeline of the brand’s logo). It sucks to receive an item that isn’t want you believed it to be and go back and realize the seller didn’t misrepresent, you just filled in the blanks without asking.

I prefer a seller who has multiple pictures of an item, and of the actual item, not a JPEG lifted off of Google Images. This way I really know I am getting what I desire.

eBay Shopping Support

PayPal: If you don’t already have a PayPal account, you will need one to shop on eBay. I prefer PayPal to credit cards for online shopping because I have less chance for identity theft. PayPal is very user secure and friendly, and you can easily set it up to your checking account (or multiple bank accounts) so when you have a $0 PayPal balance, it will just withdraw right from your bank.

PayPal can be used at so many other sites online (hello Etsy, drugstore.com,Lands End Canvas and Zappos and more!) that it makes sense to have an account with them.


eSnipe: I haven’t used eSnipe in a while, but loved it back when I was looking for my Sandhurst bag. My hairdresser told me about it, and it has helped me score some great prices on eBay auctions. Instead of having to constantly stalk your auction to ensure you have the highest price, eSnipe will do it for you. Tell them your maximum price that you are willing to pay and in the last couple of seconds of an auction eSnipe will bid on your behalf, helping you win the auction, and not go above your budget.  FYI, eSnipe is now only free for a trial period, and then has a slight cost.

Ebates: I have a love affair with Ebates.  Sign up for free, visit Ebates before heading to most online shops and get cash back on your purchase.  They have popular online retailers like Sephora, Nordstrom, Target, Ann Taylor and Old Navy, but Ebates also gives you 1-4% cash back on all purchases on eBay! 

Ebates gives you an actual check once a quarter, no points to redeem, no gift cards, actual cash.  No spam, no strings, just 30 seconds for money back.  Be sure to sign up and visit Ebates each time before you head to eBay!

Some eBay Acronyms to Know:

  • NWT – New with Tags. This means the tags should be ATTACHED unless otherwise stated in the description
  • NWOT – New without tags. This means new condition, an item could be found at a store like this. No perfume, no dog hair, no creases from wear.
  • NWOB – New without box. (everytime I see this acronym I think NKOTB)
  • NRFB – Never removed from the box
  • EUC – Excellent used condition. Means like-new, though not as perfect as NWOT.
  • MNT – Mint condition (again doesn’t mean new, but is closer to NWOT)
  • VGC - Very good condition.  This means the item was worn, but is still in wearable condition (no stains, holes, etc.)
  • GUC or GU – Good used condition. This description has many shades of gray and it’s important to know details, see detailed photos and ask questions to fill in the blanks.
  • NBW – Never been worn
  • TTS – True to size
  • S/S or SS – Short-sleeved
  • L/S or LS – Long-sleeved
  • FB – Feeback
  • DBL – Double
  • FP – Fixed price
  • GBP - Great British Pounds
  • ITF – Impossible to find (often used in title for limited-edition pieces)
  • VHTF – Very hard to find (ditto, often in auction titles)

eBay Etiquette
Leave feedback. No matter what you purchased, or how many times you shopped from the same seller, leave feedback for every individual purchase you make. Many people make their living off of eBay auctions, and your feedback supports their livelihood. Feedback also helps your fellow shoppers, letting them know who to trust, and who to avoid.

Pay promptly. If you don’t have the money, you shouldn’t be bidding in the first place. When I win an auction, I pay within 24 hours. I have sold on eBay and it’s frustrating to have to chase down a customer to beg for your money. Not paying promptly is like being rude to your waiter – he will care less about pleasing you and you may get spit in your soup… or a delayed shipment.

Pay. Again, if you don’t have the money, you shouldn’t be bidding. Winning an auction and then never paying won’t just give you negative feedback, but will also screw over the seller. There is a lot of steps a seller has to take to prove that you didn’t keep up your end of the bargain, to get back their selling fee, and finally be able to re-list the item. A good month could go by and that’s possibly the rent or grocery bill for that seller.

If something unexpected happens where you just can’t pay… contact the seller. Let them know as soon as possible. Don’t hide and ignore the invoices you will receive. Bad things happen to good people, we have all been there. Don’t leave your seller high and dry.

Accept the seller’s terms. As a previous eBay seller, nothing is more frustrating than having a person from Belgium try to bid on an item when I clearly stated I only ship to the US. I have had sellers try to pay via money order when I write that I only accept PayPal, ask me to ship FedEx when I use USPS, request I take the item off auction and just sell it at a reduced price to them. Read the description, all the fine print. It doesn’t hurt to ask if it’s a small change (offer to pay additional for expedited shipping or delivery to Canada from the US), but remember these are people, not major corporations. They don’t have the time, resources, money or desire to be your personal valet.

Have you had success shopping on eBay?  What are your tips and tricks for navigating the site and getting great fashion deals?

Please visit my other “How to Shop” posts:

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Ask Allie: Fashion Advice for a Petite SAHM

Dear Allie,
I am currently rocking the awful “mom” look aka yoga pants and huge t-shirts and I am so over it! Could you direct me to a few classic pieces to start my wardrobe? I am a stay at home mom with two under two, so I need a practical look. I live in Ohio where the weather is always changing. I am very petite (5’ and less than 100 lbs). I also have trouble finding comfortable shoes that look stylish and fit my size 5 feet. Any advice?
- Megan

Dear Megan,
I am so glad you realize that one can be an active mom while maintaining style. I recently wrote an article on Savings.com about new mom fashion, but will offer some basics that should get you on track without looking like a mom, or like a college student:

Dark Straight Jeans
A dark straight jean is classic, can be worn any season of the year, looks more polished than lighter washes, and doesn’t need a fancy label to look chic. Having a straight leg means this jean should work with most any length or style of top in your wardrobe – simple tanks and tees, longer tunics, blazers and cardigans, blouses tucked in or left untucked. Add a bit of spandex so that you won’t be showing your undergarments or cutting into your stomach when crawling on the floor after your little one.

The Lee Slender Secret 5-pocket Jean is a classic style that is great for women who may have a bit of that baby pooch still left. Oprah recently rated them as a top jean, and reviews state that these jeans in petite are not needing of hemming for those who are 5’ tall. $29.99



Levi’s 512 jean is a straight, classic style that is made for a woman’s shape. Their Perfectly Slimming 512 Jean has the Lycra to keep your body looking smooth, and giving you the flexibility you need to keep up with your children. Again, this jean is rated great for the really petite woman – they run short so you won’t have to spend an arm and a leg on alterations. $40.00

A Versatile Trench
When the weather is chilly one day, hot the next, and rainy the third it’s hard to be prepared. A simple trench or mac in a water-resistant fabric that is lined will keep you looking stylish yet comfortable on those in-between days.

The Sunshower Coat from Lands End is a favorite – it’s a classic style, breathable, and wrinkle-resistant. Lands End is known for their quality and service so you know you will get a great piece that will give you years of wear. Khaki is a safe bet, but a more memorable color like their Wine Grape will look great with neutrals, make your skin glow, and will give you a sunnier outlook on the day, even if the sky is cloudy. $99.50

Macy’s Style&Co brand offers great style for a reasonable price. This double-breasted trench has a shorter length that won’t dwarf your petite frame, and the soft sage color will look great with neutrals, but be a fresh change from beige and black outerwear. $79.00

Solid-colored Seasonally-appropriate Tops
Toss the oversized tees and stiff striped button-downs. It’s easy to be comfortable, get dressed in an instant yet look great if you have an arsenal of flattering, well-fitting knits in your size and colors you adore. Wash on the gentle cycle, line dry and these pieces can give you years of great wear. Look for pieces with 5% spandex or more – they will be more likely to keep their shape, not need to be ironed, and maintain their color longer than 100% cotton tops. For winter, I love merino wool because it acts like a knit in keeping its shape and flattering the figure, and can also be washed on the gentle cycle.

Ann Taylor LOFT is a fave of many petite women thanks to their extensive collection, reasonable prices, and truly petite sizing. Their Petite Twisted Boatneck Tee is a fashionable version of the comfy tee shirt. The neckline adds drama to a casual day look, and would fantastic under a cardigan or casual twill blazer. Great colors like Balsam Green and Ocean Depths will complement dark denim, khaki, white, gray, and black. $19.50

I love Nordstrom’s Caslon line – great wardrobe basics of great quality. The petite Caslon Ballet Neck Tee is a feminine and flattering twist on a simple knit top – the ¾ sleeves make it wearable almost year-round and a scoop neck is lovely on most every woman’s figure. $24.00

A Casual Blazer
A great way to jazz up simple tees and jeans is with a casual blazer. If it’s unlined and has a bit of stretch, it’s as comfortable as a hoodie but with far more polish.



Ann Taylor LOFT’s Petite Urban Twill Blazer is a great choice. The grosgrain trim gives it a unique, higher-end look, and in navy it would go with most any color tank or tee in your closet. $69.99

The striped blazer from Banana Republic would look amazing with neutral tanks, tees, and bottoms. It would also look quite chic with a pop of color underneath – try candy pink, blood orange, or apple green. The standup collar elongates the frame, making you look taller. $149.99

A Trendy Knit
Right now, striped tees are a hot look – this is a great way to add some variety and current fashion to your wardrobe without looking passé in a season. Striped tees look great with a simple denim or twill skirt, under a blazer, with shorts, capris, jeans, and even dressed up with a fuller skirt or with trousers. Add a bit of contrast with a turquoise or coral necklace, or a cardigan in a color like leaf green, tangerine, or yellow.

This black and cream striped boatneck from Lauren by Ralph Lauren isn’t your ordinary tee shirt – the silver buttons and boatneck make it a refined piece that would look great with jeans, and also with a white twill skirt for spring outings. $59.50



I own the Striped Sailor Tee from Ann Taylor and adore it – the scoopneck is flattering, the knit heavy and durable, the epaulets give a bit more style and panache. It comes in three colors. $38.00

A Not-so Little Black Dress
I have a black wrap dress from Old Navy that I bought years ago on clearance. I wear it with leggings and flats around the house, with heels for a wedding or funeral, with tall boots to work. It’s so versatile, and the matte jersey is a fabric that stretches, gives, washes easily, and looks timeless and seasonless.

The Petite Gemma Wrap dress from Banana Republic is a great choice – ¾ sleeves work year round, and a true wrap style means you can cinch the waist for a more custom fit. $98.00



Merona for Target has really come a long way in the past year – the quality has improved immensely, and the style is quite on-trend yet classic. The Merona Petite Faux Wrap Knit Dress is a great choice – the empire waist hides any post-baby pooch, and makes it dress up or down with ease. $20.98

Shoes
It often impossible to find size 5 footwear in stores, however the selection is pretty impressive online. Sites like Nordstrom and Zappos have a great selection of smaller sizes that are still stylish and comfortable. I recommend investing in:

  • A sandal with a low wedge heel (more comfortable than heels, able to wear with shorts or with a dress).  The “Amber” wedge-heel sandals from Munro is a great summer choice – uber comfortable, thin elegant straps, will look great with skirts and dresses of all lengths, as well as shorts, trousers, and cropped pants. Munro is known for comfort and quality – these shoes should be wearable even for a day of sightseeing or a trip to Disney World. $179.95
  • A pair of ankle boots you can slip on with jeans and a sweater (low heel, brown or black depending on your wardrobe – more versatile than flats as that they can dress up and also be waterproofed for rainy days).  The “Wisteria” by Merrell has a wedge heel which is comfortable when standing or walking for a long period of time, but can still be paired with casual trousers. They get great reviews for comfort. $140.00
  • A pair of tall riding boots (wear with dresses, over jeans and you will be amazed how they will transform wardrobe basics into something stylish – waterproof them for more versatility).  These riding boots from La Canadiene are so classic – waterproof Italian leather, moisture-wicking lining, memory foam insole, low heel, elegant styling. These are boots you buy now and will still be wearing a decade from now. $256.00
  • A pair of simple black leather pumps for those times when you do need to dress up (they work with pants, dresses, and even with your dark jeans for a Date Night or drinks with your girl friends).  The Nuncio pump from Nine West is a classic pump that will look elegant year-round and years from now. 2.5” heel, elongated toe, and available in narrow and wide widths. $69.95

For additional petite inspiration, check out:

Blogging Love – Interview!

I was honored to be interviewed by Elle of the new blog Label Ho. Elle’s discusses fashion and her personal style on this site. I love supporting fellow fashion and style bloggers so I jumped at this chance to have us get to know one another better!

You can check out the interview here.

I loved the questions she asked (and if you go back in her archives, you can see her answers to the very same questions!). The name of her blog cracks me up. It reminds me of when I was Editor of my high school yearbook. I had such the fight with the sponsor over the proper spelling of this word. “If you add an ‘e’ it’s suddenly a garden tool!” (Let’s not even get into why this word was in my yearbook – let me just state that my high school was a fabulous one where I learned Japanese and was in International Baccalaureate courses, but it wasn’t in the most chi chi of neighborhoods.)

Since she interviewed me, I decided to ask her a few questions as well. Get to know Elle!

Name: “Elle,” author of Label Ho, a fashion and personal style blog

Why did you start blogging? What could be better than writing and posting about something you love? I thought it would be a fun hobby and a great way to connect with other fashion-minded people.

Favorite item in your closet: An authentic vintage Gucci handbag circa the 70s. I love that its suede and doesn’t have the GG logo plastered all over it. I found the bag at a thrift shop and its in immaculate condition. Best of all, I got it for an excellent price!

Favorite Web site to visit: FabSugar.com. They have pretty comprehensive coverage of what’s going on in the fashion world, delivered in quick, short posts. I also like that they post great outfits that members of their community put together. I’m fascinated with seeing what people put together.

Top five items on your style wish list for this season: I can only think of three since I think I pretty much have most of my key pieces already:

1. Another pair of dark bootleg jeans. I’ve pretty much worn my favorite pair so much (Joe’s Jeans in the Honey fit) that the color’s faded significantly.

2. More dresses. I’ve purchased a few already, but I just can’t get enough. They’re so easy to pull on in summer.

3. A pair of wide-leg jeans. I’ve tried on a ton of different ones, but still haven’t found a flattering fit.

Outlet Mall Shopping

Yesterday I visited a major outlet mall in my area. Over a mile of stores – some with great bargains, some with great piles of crap. There have been many stories about discount stores – how some of the product is not on sale, the clothes are made specifically for the outlet and are not the same quality that the brand name usually delivers, etc. After all that, you find designer duds for less, when is it worthwhile to spend, when should a bargain be passed by?


Fit
If it doesn’t fit well for $300, still doesn’t fit well for $150 and even for $65, don’t buy it. Just because it’s a great bargain does not make the fit any better. Shoes that are too tight or too big, jackets that pull at the back, pants that would be lovely if you just lost 15 lbs., no matter the bargain these items should just stay on the rack.

If the jacket’s sleeves are too long, the skirt’s hem at an awkward length, the shoulders a bit too big, these things can be altered easily by a tailor. You must be in love with the piece and find multiple places and ways to wear it to justify the tailor expense. I found a cream silk linen suit at a discount store – the suit fit perfectly except for a broken zipper and too long of sleeves and legs. I bought the suit for $65, regularly $350, and for $40 had the zipper and hems all modified. I have worn the suit to work, to religious events and as separates for three years. That purchase was worth the added tailoring expense.


Style
Often times the items at the discount store are there because they are leftover from last season. When it comes to classic pieces like suits, dresses and knits, this is not a problem. A blue merino v-neck is lovely almost every year, and more lovely when 50% off. The problem comes with the trendy p[pieces.


If Lindsay, Mischa, Nicole or Chloe was wearing it last spring, it’s a good chance that piece is passé now. Pass on the embellished jeans, the metallic leather bags, the rainbow-hued sunglasses and most other accessories. Just because it’s on sale does not mean it is a good buy. When it comes to scouring outlets, your best deals are the ones that will last through more than one season. Sweaters, suits, outerwear, cocktail dresses, leather goods and most shoes are great bargains if you find quality and value in the same item.


Name Brands
Just because you found a pair of Manolo Blahniks for $100 at the Saks Fifth Avenue outlet does not mean they need to be purchased. Do they fit your current style? Are they comfortable? Are they current or classic?

We have all seen the label whores – those women with a Coach purse, Jimmy Choo shoes that JLo wore last year, Baby Phat jeans, a Bebe tee with the rhinestone logo, Chanel sunglasses and a Pucci scarf in her hair. These items weren’t bought for the quality or the style. They were bought because a stranger could spot the brand a mile away. She looks trashy, obvious and victimized by fashion. None of these are appealing. Labels do not suddenly make you well dressed or well liked.


If you can find a Furla bag for 40% off and it suits your style as well as lifestyle – then go for it. If you are buying a bag purely because it’s Prada and you don’t like the style, size or fabric… well you have become a label whore.

Don’t buy that jacket just because it’s designer. Pretend that it is an unknown label – do you still like it? Do you still find it attractive and necessary? If not, put it back on the rack. That goes for ill-fitting designer duds, last season’s “It Bag,” obvious logo advertising (if it’s that obvious, it will be that obvious from last season – not worth your time or money) and damaged designer goods.


Damaged Goods
Many discount retailers sell the irregulars from a label. Some irregulars can barely be seen by the naked eye – may be an incorrect dye lot or the wrong buttons sewn on a jacket. Some may work in your favor – pants cut too short or sleeves that are too long or too narrow. Often times these stores received the garments that were damaged in production, transit or through many jaunts to the fitting room. Broken zippers, missing buttons, fabric snags are all defects that can easily be repaired or covered up if the price and style is right. However there are other defects that are not worth the purchase, no matter how low the price. Runs in nylon, stains, button holes at the wrong height, linings that do not align with the trouser, two pieces stitched together from two different dye lots. Even if it is Versace, it will look like Gallo Clothing on you if it is this defective.


Buying in Bulk
I used to be a huge fan of buying in bulk – find a tee shirt you love, buy it in eight colors and three of white and black. Flattering trousers? Buy one in every color. I then found that my wardrobe was like one big uniform… one big boring uniform. Mixing basics with fun pieces offers versatility, ease but individual style.


At outlet malls, buying in bulk is a good idea. Yesterday I was at the Banana Republic outlet and found high quality stretchy tees in tons of colors – $9.99 each. I bought one in black, one in white, one in gray and one in red. These shirts can be worn with jeans on weekends, with a little skirt for happy hour with the girls or under a suit for work. I found a great pair of wool trousers at Off Fifth, bought them in brown, gray and black. They were so standard and fit so amazingly well (and were only $39.99 each) that it was worthwhile to buy every color I liked. I knew with my work and lifestyle I would find regular use for such trousers. Another time I found a pair of really cute studded pointy heels from NYLA. They were 75% off and tres cute. I decided to buy them in hot pink, ivory and black, thinking that if they fit well, they would get much use. I was imagining sparkly tops and designer jeans with the ivory, a sexy power suit with the black, and envisioned an outfit a la Carrie Bradshaw for the pink. I took them all home, have worn the pink ones multiple times, and have barely touched the other two. I don’t wear designer jeans with sparkly tops on a regular basis, and don’t own a single chic black power suit. Those two shoes have barely seen the light of day. Consider your current lifestyle when considering to buy in bulk – items that look too familiar may not be worn and too many of the same thing may make them all too boring to regularly wear. Also, if you don’t wear red patent stilettos now, you probably won’t after purchasing a pair.


In conclusion, don’t buy just because of a label, or just because of an amazing price. Less money for an item is still money, and money should be spent carefully. Be willing to take the time to find quality purchases, not pick up every shiny bauble that sort of resembles what Gwen or Jessica wore last Spring. Fashion is not about the specific item, but the allover look. A Louis Vuitton bag or a pair of Chanel sunglasses will not make you a fashionista, the pairing with appropriate and complimentary pieces is what takes you from being a label whore or a fashion victim to fashionista status.