Search Results for: label/Olay Good Life Bucket List

Olay and my Good Life Bucket List

Hi my name is Alison Gary and I’m 37 years old.
I’ll be 38 in January.
And I’m darn proud of my age, my life, my self.

In the past, I wasn’t very kind to my skin. Drinking more beer than water, going to sleep with my makeup still on, visiting tanning beds on a daily basis, even washing my face with hand soap. But as I have gotten older, I have realized the importance of caring for my skin. Yes, it will keep it looking younger, but it will keep it feeling and looking healthier, and that’s what my body deserves. I care for my skin, and I believe I am aging with grace. In celebration of Olay’s 60th anniversary, Olay continues to empower women to challenge what’s possible and to be proud of their age. Olay is encouraging and rewarding women for checking items off their bucket list– not in the negative aspect of the bucket list but in the empowering aspect of ‘I’m knocking things off my list—living a good life’. Olay and BlogHer asked me to share my own bucket list accomplishments. Being 37, I have a few wrinkles, a little less elasticity, but in trade I have some amazing life experiences under my belt:

  • I created a human being (and a pretty awesome, smart, and funny one at that)
  • I traveled to many places I dreamed of back in school – Italy, France, Norway, Costa Rica and more
  • I’m an ordained minister and have married several wonderful couples
  • I taught myself how to use computers – from being an English major in the decade where a Brother word processor was pretty hi-tech and going straight into jobs that didn’t require computers, it still amazes me that I now work in digital communications and keep a relatively modern blog
  • I made good on a promise to myself. Always wanting to write but afraid to have it outside my journals, I read The Artist’s Way in 2005 and committed to blogging on a regular basis. I have been mighty good over the past 37 years at having great ideas but letting them go by the wayside, and this blog is the first project I have started and continued on my own

A great aspect of this blog is it forces me on a daily basis to notice myself. It’s easy to get so caught up in work, family, and life to forget who we are, and that we deserve self-care. Blogging reminds me that I am one of the good things in my good life, and I deserve to care for my appearance, my body, my soul. It reminds me that I am 37, and I am beautiful and proud of my age and accomplishments.

This giveaway is now closed.  Stay tuned, I will have more great giveaways in the future!

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#ShareTheGood with Goodwill Industries Week


I’m taking a break from outfits and Ask Allie advice posts for a little PSA. This week is Goodwill Industries Week; not only that this year Goodwill of Greater Washington is celebrating its 80th anniversary serving the DC area community. For those who have been reading Wardrobe Oxygen for a while you know Goodwill is one of my favorite charitable organizations. While you can donate that which has outgrown your home, wardrobe, or life to them; while you can head to Goodwill for some amazing deals (one person’s castoff is another’s treasure), but I love that Goodwill helps people find jobs. And not just any people – people who live in our community, people whose kids go to our schools, people sitting next to us on the Metro or standing in line behind us at the grocery store.

Goodwill of Greater Washington’s primary mission is to provide free job training and employment services to people with disadvantages and disabilities. Their goal is to give the populations they serve the tools they need to become self-sufficient. In 2014, Goodwill directly affected the lives of more than 3,000 of our neighbors while diverting over 25 million pounds of material from local landfills through their donation program. In addition to training and placing people into jobs, providing consumers with access to quality, low cost goods, and acting as one our region’s largest recyclers, Goodwill is also a job developer. With each new store and donation center that Goodwill opens, 25-30 new jobs are created.

If you could walk in someone else’s shoes for just one day would you help them?

If you’d like to learn more about Goodwill of Greater Washington, find their nearest store or donation center, or get involved, please visit or download their free mobile app from the iTunes app store.

A Life, Replotted: Finding the Edge

chelsea henderson for wardrobe oxygen

“I’m not bound by time” I used to say in my 20s when asked why I didn’t wear a watch. Now in my 40s, I still don’t wear a timepiece, but to say I’m not connected to the unavoidable ticking of the clock is far from the truth.

I time nearly everything I do. Obviously, I have to keep meticulous time of the yoga classes I teach. They run for 45, 60, 75 or 90 minutes, and before class starts, I assign a “trigger song” on my playlist, a song to signal it’s time to wind my students down. For my consulting firm, I bill clients to the quarter of an hour and detail how long I worked on what project. I maintain a timesheet app for one of my projects; there is little I find more depressing than getting an email from the app asking if I forgot to turn off the timer when the answer is no. I may have the luxury of working from home, but part of what I’m adjusting to is I’m on all the time.

In yoga teacher training they taught us to seek the balance between effort and ease. That is to say, if your practice doesn’t feel like work, push a little harder. But if you find yourself struggling, take it down a notch. In yoga I embrace this lesson, but in the rest of my life I have trouble with the stepping back part of the equation. It all came to a head last week when I taught eleven yoga classes, billed 45 client hours and had the kids for all but two days. It took a minor breakdown to get it; in order to strike a balance, I have to know where my edge is. And once I recognize where the edge is, I have to respect the boundaries to keep myself off its ledge.

So as I write, this column is 36 hours late, I haven’t practiced yoga yet today and my laundry basket overflows. But I spent time in the garden, had a rained out barbeque with dear friends and watched Star Wars: A New Hope with my younger son. To maintain the point between effort and ease, I decided to not check email. My professional life abounds, but it’s just one part of who I am. And for other aspects of my life, I have to save time on and off the clock.

chelsea hendersonChelsea Henderson is an aspiring novelist and recovering Capitol Hill staffer. When she isn’t sneaking time to finish writing her second book, she advocates on behalf of clean energy and environmental policy, reads, practices yoga, and single parents her perpetually hungry pre-teen boys. She also periodically contributes to her lifestyle blog, the Chelsea Chronicles and is intermittently good at Twitter.

Review and Giveaway – Olay

I’m not afraid to admit the behind-the-scenes actions I take to feel feminine and beautiful on a daily basis. The steps I take to prevent sweat, smell, and yes, unwanted facial hair. Every two weeks I pull out my tube of smelly white cream and slather it over my upper lip. I hate it; it stinks, it often causes redness and breakouts, and usually leaves that part of my face numb for the rest of the day. Not an enjoyable act, but it gets the job done.

So when BlogHer contacted me asking if I would like to try the New Olay Smooth Finish Facial Hair Removal Duo, I jumped at the chance.

I read that New Olay Smooth Finish Facial Hair Removal Duo is a uniquely formulated two-step system designed to gently, yet effectively remove unwanted facial hair, leaving skin smooth, conditioned, and visibly hair free. This gentle hair removal system contains a Skin Guarding Balm, applied before the removal cream, that hydrates the skin to minimize irritation, redness, and other tell-tale signs associated with hair removal creams. It sounded like perfection!

This weekend I tried it out. The box comes with two products: a tube of the Skin Guarding Balm and a tube of the Hair Removal Cream. The balm is a stick, similar to lip balm; I applied a thin layer to my upper lip and rubbed it in completely. Then I applied the cream for six minutes. After six minutes, I removed the cream with a washcloth.

After those six minutes, I was a New Olay Smooth Finish Hair Removal Duo convert.

I have used many different drugstore depilatories, and they all were the same cream in different boxes. Olay is the first one to be drastically different. The Skin Guarding Balm really does work; it ensures that the hair remover doesn’t touch and irritate your skin. As for the actual hair removing cream, the scent is hardly noticeable.

New Olay Smooth Finish Hair Removal Duo didn’t cause redness, irritation, breakouts, or numbing of the skin. It just left smooth, happy, hairless skin. As a busy working mom I find this awesome; now I don’t have to block out time on the weekend so I can heal in the privacy of my home, I can do it in the morning while getting ready for work. Gentle on my skin and it simplifies my beauty routine? Who could ask for more?  How about getting this product for free? Today is your lucky day, BlogHer and Olay are offering one Wardrobe Oxygen reader a $50 gift card!

How to Enter:

To be entered for a chance to win, please leave me a comment explaining how you express your inner beauty through your beauty routine!
No duplicate comments.
You can enter to win up to two (2) times, using any combination of the following methods:
  • Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  • Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  • Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  • For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

The sweepstakes runs from 1/3/2012 – 2/3/2012. This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here.  Also be sure to visit the Promotions & Prizes page on where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win! Good luck!

While we’re on the subject of looking good, you might want to check out the “Looking Your Best” posts in the Life Well Lived section of There are some great tips and expert posts!

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#Blog4Good: Suppporting Goodwill Come Rain or Come Shine

A while ago, to maintain balance (and my sanity), I decided to stop attending blogger events unless they were really worth it.

An event for Goodwill is always worth it.

Why Goodwill? Because this January, the unemployment rate in the District of Columbia was at 8.1% compared to 5.5% just six years ago; the unemployment rate in DC’s Ward 8 is 18.9% and is one of the highest in the country. The people Goodwill serves want to work, but lack the skills, education, resources or opportunity. A purchase from Goodwill can offer the resources to get these people back to work.

Last week I sloshed my way through a torrential rainstorm to the Pepco Edison Place Gallery for the VIP Launch Party of #Edited4Goodwill, a spring Trunk Show featuring some of the very best fashion from local Goodwill locations. Racks and racks of curated fashion for men and women, bags, and shoes galore.

Shocker, I’m checking out the shoe selection!

I eyed an amazing embroidered silk caftan but knew I was too short to even consider it; my friend Alison tried it on and even Catherine Meloy, President and CEO of Goodwill Greater Washington and Debbie Jarvis, Vice President Corporate Citizenship and Social Responsibility of Pepco told her she HAD to get it, it was so perfect (see on my Instagram). My friend Deb went home with adorable pink studded Sam Edelman flats and I was thisclose to buying a buttery soft black leather jacket but held off knowing it’s not the right time of year for such a piece. I saw brands like Victor Costa, Cynthia Rowley, and Ralph Lauren, and amazing vintage one of a kind pieces like the caftan Alison got, as well as an adorable navy summer dress.

Check out her fab pink heels – Goodwill score!

A clear example of how a purchase from Goodwill was shared at this event. A representative from Goodwill Young Professionals Council stated that the adorable pumps she wore were purchased from Goodwill for just $20; that one shoe purchase can provide an hour of one-on-one resume building (and by the way, those shoes mentioned were a still in stock style from J. Crew!).

A view of the crowd socializing and scoring great fashion.
Perusing the racks with Alison and Deb holding the leather jacket I almost purchased

It was fun to connect with other fashionistas and fashionistos who know that you can have great style and make a difference at the same time. I will always make time for Goodwill, come rain or shine because Goodwill is a way to look good and do good at the same time.

May 4th through May 10th marks Goodwill Industries Week, an annual celebration of Goodwill’s mission to provide free job training and employment services to people with disabilities and disadvantages. In support of Goodwill Industries Week, I am participating in #Blog4Good – a social media campaign designed to help put the most vulnerable members of our community back to work by devoting a blog post this week to explain how Goodwill impacts lives and communities in the Washington, DC area.

We support #blog4good to help end unemployment

Images via the Goodwill of Greater Washington Facebook page .

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My Personal Mertaugh List

I am a huge fan of How I Met Your Mother, I feel this show is highly underrated. Every time I watch an episode, I fall more deeply in love with it.

Roger Mertaugh Lethal Weapon Danny GloverA recent episode was called, “The Mertaugh List,” after Danny Glover’s character Roger Mertaw in the Lethal Weapon movies. Many times in those films, Mertaw would catch himself having to do something and he would say, “I’m too old for this s**t.” Ted had created his own “Mertaw List” of things one shouldn’t do after a certain age. Barney decided to do all of them, and made a list of things that they were too young to do (which Ted then decided to do).

My husband and I have been using this catchphrase ever since, seeing and experiencing things, and saying, “that is SO on the Mertaugh List!” This morning in the shower, I was thinking about how certain fashion should be on the Mertaw List. I went to Facebook and saw a friend of mine was selling many of her old witty sayings tee shirts on eBay – one thing that I feel should be on anyone’s personal Mertaw List. With that, I decided to share my personal style Mertaugh List:

Allie’s Style Mertaugh List:
Witty tee shirt– Any tee shirts with witty sayings

– Any pants or shorts with writing on the bum

– Going braless

– Embellished jeans – embroidery, blinged-out pockets, bleach spots, fabric insets, purposeful holes and tears, etc.

– Baseball caps when not at a sporting event

belly button ring– Belly button rings

– With that, piercings anywhere other than the nose and ears (and the nose better be very small or for cultural reasons)

– Cheap bras that are bought because they look pretty, not because they look pretty AND lift & separate

– Any skirt or dress that can’t let me pick up something I have dropped on the ground and still maintain some dignity

– Lacrosse shorts

home hair color– Having a bad dye job – be it blue or blonde, there is a point where no matter your favorite color of crayon, you better have some serious talent or else leave it to the professionals

– Anything tight enough to show the dent where your cleavage is, where your belly button resides, the separation of your butt cheeks, or the cellulite on your thighs

– Cheap boots – tall boots made of obvious pleather, stretchy microfiber, faded suede; boots with flimsy buckles, plastic heels, cheesy details; boots that are too loose, too short, too tall. Cheap shoes can often times be played off as good quality; cheap boots are too much of a focal point to get away with it

Messy updo ponytail– Messy updos and ponytails – the type made with an elastic or *gasp* a scrunchie while talking, eating, driving, or doing something else where your mind and time is focused on anything but your hair

– Cheap club tops

– Hello Kitty/Disney/Warner Bros.

Gossip Girl Ray ban Sunglasses– Ray Ban Wayfarers

– Anything from Hot Topic

– Gummy bracelets

What is on your personal Mertaugh List?

Olay Regenerist MicroSculpting Cream Review and Promotion

Review and Giveaway – Olay Ultra Moisture Body Wash

This winter has been relatively mild – hardly any snow and few frigid days. However, my skin feels otherwise. While I have been able to spend some days this winter walking through Washington, DC, with only a light jacket, my skin has been as dry and flaky as it was during last year’s Snowpocalypse. I have been trying a variety of body lotions and creams, but nothing really seemed to do the trick. When I was asked to review Olay Ultra Moisture Body Wash, I jumped at the chance, hoping it would help make my skin happy again.

Olay Ultra Moisture Body Wash is a soap-free formula that has the equivalent of more than a jar or moisturizer in every bottle. Not only that, Olay Ultra Moisture Body Wash contains shea butter, a natural moisturizer that I know the skin absorbs more easily than many popular synthetics. The body wash is thick, and you only need a little bit to get a ton of lather. The fragrance is light and smells expensive, like a line sold in a high-end department store (fragrance didn’t linger post-shower).

I could feel the hydration while lathering – the suds were creamy, yet they rinsed away clean. A squeaky-clean feeling after showering is not what you want, but neither do you want a greasy film; Olay Ultra Moisture Body Wash created that happy medium of smooth clean skin without feeling greasy. After my first shower with the Body Wash, I used my regular moisturizer. The next shower, I decided to see how my skin looked and felt sans additional moisturizer. I was amazed that my skin felt soft and hydrated, enough so that I went without lotion all day.

After a second shower with the product, my skin felt so amazing I was able to go without lotion…and even wear bare legs with a skirt! Seriously, this product hydrates THAT well! My husband has even become a fan; the other day he asked me to touch his elbow. “I don’t think it has ever felt like this,” he said, rubbing the much-softer skin. He doesn’t use post-shower lotion, so I bet it is a drastically different change for him.

A week of use, and I now regularly go without post-shower lotion. Time is of the essence as a working woman and mom, and I love having to spend less time on my beauty routine yet still end up with the same results. Rarely do you find a budget-friendly product that also gives you more time to focus on life! My skin feels better now with Olay Ultra Moisture Body Wash than it did when I was trying every moisturizer in the book. No flakes, no scales, no dryness – just soft, smooth, clean skin!

If this sounds awesome to you, well, now it’s your turn to try Olay Ultra Moisture Body Wash. BlogHer and Olay are offering one Wardrobe Oxygen reader a $50 Visa gift card that you can use toward your own bottle of this skin-softening goodness! Just leave me a comment letting me know how you simplify your daily routine to carve out more “me time.” For example, I love using this moisturizing body wash because it leaves my skin feeling great without spending time on post-shower moisturizing.

How to Enter:
This giveaway is now closed.

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Ask Allie – My Beauty Products

I am not a beauty blog, and I don’t claim to be an expert. However, after mentioning my beauty routine in a previous post, I have received many emails and comments wanting to know more about what beauty products I use. Today’s post will be about my medicine cabinet.

Though we had our house remodeled over two years ago, we still don’t take showers in the new master bathroom. There seems to be some place where it’s leaking, and we need to seal it properly… and just haven’t gotten around to it. So while I use this bathroom for getting ready in the morning and before bed, I actually take showers in the hallway bathroom. So my medicine cabinet only holds the items I use at bed, in the morning, and when doing my hair post-shower:

A. Get My Hair Did

  • L’Oreal EverPure Smooth Frizz-free Serum. I bought this… wow maybe two years ago? I bought it when I ran out of my BioSilk serum, and that I milked a travel-sized bottle for a couple of years. I don’t wear this often because I think it usually makes my hair look greasy, not shiny. However, it’s great when I’m past due for a hair trim – I’ll add it to the ends before letting it dry.
  • Pureology Texture Twist. Sometimes I love this stuff, sometimes I hate it. Lately I have been adding a veeeery tiny bit to damp hair, scrunching and letting it air dry. It’s very sticky, so it keeps curls curly when it’s humid out. I don’t like it for much else because it’s so thick and sticky and makes my hair feel strange.
  • Frederick Fekkai Luscious Curls. This stuff rocks, this is probably my fifth tube of this product. A pea-sized amount, scrunch, let hair dry and you have lovely soft, shiny waves and curls without any stickiness.
  • Jonathan Create Motion. It’s a cream gel, so it has the best of both products. Not too heavy, not too light, not too sticky. I got this as part of a Birchbox-like program that is now defunct, and since I don’t use it every day this tube has lasted me almost two years. It’s worthy of a re-purchase, I like that it gives more hold than Luscious Curls, but does a similar thing. I also like using it before blowing out straight, and it helps hold any heating tool styles.
  • TRESseme Heat Tamer Spray. I don’t use this as often as I should. It gets rave reviews online, and I got it when I was trying to make waves with a flat iron. Many YouTube beauty vloggers swear by this product, I find it sometimes makes my hair too soft.
  • Salon Grafix Spray Powder Shampoo. I have reviewed this before. This is my third bottle, I like it so much.
  • Jonathan Product Silky Dirt. I bought this for me, my husband took it over. He adores this for a soft hair look and he loves the regular Dirt when he wants a mussed look.

In the far right corner is Jonathan Dirt, a replacement brush head for my Clarisonic Mia, and a bottle of bath and Body Works body lotion from a hotel (sometimes use it as a hair styling product). Far left next to the serum is some Sally Hansen hair remover – every 2-3 weeks, does a great job of getting rid of the ‘stache without irritation or redness.

B. Hydrate!

  • Some random tube of a hydrating mask. I don’t know the brand offhand, I don’t know where it came from. I don’t think it accomplishes much but my husband loves masks and uses it.
  • CVS Night Cream. It’s a cheaper version of RoC.
  • Olay Beauty Fluid, SPF 15. I ran out of moisturizer while in Vermont and picked this up when I went into town. It’s light, it has some SPF, it’s fine.
  • Olay Definity Eye Cream. I like this eye cream because it doesn’t leave the skin greasy; it really absorbs quickly so I don’t have to wait before applying makeup.

C. Washing Up

  • Clarisonic Nourishing Face Cleanser. It’s gentle, it’s creamy, it doesn’t strip the skin but I am not in love. Doesn’t take off makeup and is very pricey for not wowing me.
  • Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser. My husband picked this up because he too doesn’t like the Clarisonic cleanser. It tastes terrible, it’s hard to rinse off, but boy does it do a great job at removing makeup. This stuff can even take off waterproof mascara and liquid liner.
  • Clarisonic Mia. I bought it as a birthday present to myself but was never immediately wowed. After a recent article on Un Femme d’un Certain Age I started using it again, either with face wash when I haven’t taken off my makeup, or alone on clean skin. It does make products like the Clarisonic face wash work better, and hopefully it will help my skin texture and clarity.

D. My Eyes! My Eyes!
I wear contacts. Here’s my case, here’s my solution (I ran out so am using my travel size for now).

E. Get My Nails Did
I am not a big nail person, I never wear polish on my hands and often go sans color on my feet. These are the basics – polish remover, clear topcoat to maintain a pedicure, and a lovely sheer pink that will make nails just look healthy and complete without color. I usually keep any colorful polishes in my dressing table.

F. So Random
This tumbler from my kitchen holds all the little random things in one place:

G. Brusha Brusha Brusha

  • My husband uses a Sonicare, I kick it old school with a cheapy toothbrush. I should switch to a Sonicare, but I just ENJOY a regular toothbrush. I have one here, one at work, one in the bathroom downstairs. I brush my teeth 4-5 times a day and replace my brushes regularly.
  • Dental Floss. Yep, I floss. My dentist is very proud of me.
  • NTIs. Nothing sexier than a couple with matching mouthguards to prevent tooth grinding. His and Hers.

H. Holy Grail

  • Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel. This stuff is awesome. I sometimes use this after cleansing to calm my face, I use it in the morning to remove dead skin and leftover moisturizer. If I accidently put on eye cream before my contacts, I use this to remove it so I won’t goop up. I also use it as a body refresher, wipe my décolleté and back of neck to feel fresh when dashing out of the house. My husband also uses it as a toner. It’s gentle, it’s a pleasant scent, and it’s natural. Score.

Next to the witch hazel is one of our three toothpastes. This was from Bonnaroo (travels well, won’t explode in heat – think it’s Colgate but when I went to peel off the safety packaging the whole label peeled off). We also have some tube of Tom’s of Maine that is almost gone, and a new tube of Crest 3D White because my husband believed the hype. It’s new, so I don’t know yet whether it will take our coffee- and wine-loving chompers to pearly white-ness… will keep you posted.

J. Got Sweat?
Does one household really need four different deodorants? Guess so. I switch between Dove formulas for day (find if I stick with one too long it stops working). For night I was using CertainDri but it seemed to stop working so I switched to Dove Clinical. The Dove is almost out, so I’ll go back to CertainDri until the bottle is empty and go back to Dove. The yellow is Arm & Hammer, my husband switches between that and the blue Dove.

And when you turn around from the sink you see the bathroom’s second door. I didn’t want this door. The bathroom is half in the master bedroom, half in our office. The contractor and my husband thought a second door would be useful if we used the office as a guest room, if we tried to sell the house. We never use the door – there’s furniture in front of it in the office and it’s a waste of space in the bathroom that could be used for a proper cabinet. So this is how I use it:


This over-the-door rack was originally purchased for the powder room on the main floor. I envisioned umbrellas in the basket, lightweight jackets and such on the hooks. We don’t have a closet on the main floor, so figured this would be a great alternative (we have a coat rack near the front door that is always overflowing). When I realized this bathroom has no wall space for a proper cabinet, I put this here for a “temporary fix.” Two and a half years later it’s still here. Usually there’s towels hanging there, but I took these pictures on laundry day.

In the top are all the things that don’t fit in the medicine cabinet:

  • Listerine
  • Hairspray (Elnett and Jonathan spray)
  • More contact lenses (the big box of more is in the linen closet in the hallway but I keep one box of each at the ready)
  • Diffuser (came with the dryer)
  • Brushes (two are missing from this photo – one is in the other bathroom, and one has disappeared because Emerson finds brushes to be playthings)

While the hooks hold damp towels, they also hold all my appliances:

  • Remington S9950 Shine Therapy Moisturizing and Conditioning Digital Ceramic Hair Straightener. This one was favored by many beauty vloggers back when I was trying to make waves with a flat iron. I don’t think it gives my hair shine, but it has a thermostat so I can control the heat level and I like how narrow it is – does a good job with making waves as well as straightening bangs without a weird bump at the hairline.
  • Hair Dryer. This one sucks and burns my hand if I use it too long, but I won’t buy a new one because this one gets the job done. When it dies, I will buy a new one.
  • Vidal Sassoon 1 inch Curling Iron for Fine Hair. It has a tight clamp so it holds fine hair in place. Can control the heat level and a cord that never gets all twisted up. Not bad, though if it dies I want to replace it with my sister’s – whenever we travel I use hers (think it’s a Conair) and it’s awesome.
  • Charging cord for my Clarisonic Mia.

Oh and yes, photobomb by Emerson who was using her potty as a cave for her bath toys.

Whew, are you still here? Still reading? I am impressed! So that’s my bathroom in a nutshell. Not a lot of fancy, fun, and glamorous things but things that get the job done. Still need to get a proper day moisturizer and face cleanser, but I’m frugal and wait until the current bottle or tube is completely empty. So keep sending me your recommendations, I am noting all of them and they will help me when I do finally purchase!


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A Life, Replotted: Dressing the Part

chelsea henderson for wardrobe oxygen

I used to have a closet full of dresses. Expensive dresses. I justified the investment (doesn’t that sound better than splurge?) because not only were they appropriate professionally, but one dress required little thought in the morning, whereas a two-piece suit also required a blouse option, and three wardrobe components were two too many for me to coordinate when also getting my young kids ready for school. Yeah, that’s what I told myself every time I handed over my credit card. “I need this dress. It will make my life easier.”

To complement all those dresses, I had a closet full of pumps. I’m ashamed now to admit how many pairs of shoes I once owned. I freely handed over the plastic for these too, all in the name of looking the part. Speaking of looking the part, I never went to work in lower than a three-inch heel, unless of course it was casual Friday, and I could get away with riding boots and skinny jeans.

Sigh. Skinny jeans. I didn’t wear any other style of denim.

“Oh, check out Chelsea’s shoes today,” co-workers would gush as I walked by their offices. “Chelsea can get away with wearing jeans to work. She just wears them differently.” The compliments fueled me to try even harder, and a vicious circle of vanity and debt was created.

My Life in Shoes

Then I left the face-numbing job in a stressful industry to pursue the crafts that fulfill me. I no longer wake up at the crack of dawn to figure out what dress-shoe combination to put on for the day. And since it really isn’t comfortable to sit at my home office desk in skinny jeans, I’ve traded those in too. In fact, I’ve cycled out of my closet most of the wardrobe I once spent so much time and money in cultivating.

“I used to be so intimidated by how you dressed,” my best friend admitted to me over drinks one night. It saddened and shocked me, but also got me questioning: why I was as obsessed with my clothes as I used to be?

The truth is, my clothes provided body armor. If I looked confident, I’d be confident, or convincingly act the part. I could walk into a meeting in the U.S. Capitol and be taken seriously. Not that I ever wasn’t. The crazy thing about insecurity is it’s often unwarranted. But I wasn’t fulfilled in my profession, so I compensated with budget busting clothing purchases and used my miserable job to justify the expense.

These days, I don’t need designer dresses and sky-high heels to bolster me. I’m just as happy to put on yoga pants and a sweater, a look I often take from desk to mat to casual dinner with my best friend. It’s nice to know I don’t intimidate her anymore. And likewise, I’m no longer scared of my credit card bill. Living authentically is not always easy. People question my choices, and the old attachments can still present temptation (oh, Frye boots). But a nourished soul grounds me more than any outfit ever did.

chelsea hendersonChelsea Henderson is an aspiring novelist and recovering Capitol Hill staffer. When she isn’t sneaking time to finish writing her second book, she advocates on behalf of clean energy and environmental policy, reads, practices yoga, and single parents her perpetually hungry pre-teen boys. She also periodically contributes to her lifestyle blog, the Chelsea Chronicles and is intermittently good at Twitter.

Good News

My sister is out of surgery, currently in recovery. She had a meningomia, they were able to remove 100% of it. We hope to see her in the next hour or so.

Thank you so much for all your well wishes, thoughts and prayers. I feel so blessed to have connected with you all through this blog. Thank you. Thank you so much!

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Good Morning…

Emerson and I are chillaxing this morning. She has been on a bit of a feeding frenzy – yesterday it seemed as though I constantly fed her from dawn to dusk. Well, not constant feeding, but constant fussiness between the feedings so there was no break. Somehow she realized we were a bit exhausted, and she decided to take a three-hour nap after the 8pm feeding and since then has been taking naps between eats. Whew! I got a few rounds of sleep and now I am letting my husband crash for a few hours. He decided to crash on the couch downstairs so Em & I are hanging out in the bedroom, which means I have time to hop on the Internet while she coos in her sleep next to me.

Camera is downstairs; must say these pictures are from last week but she doesn’t look like this any more. She has gotten so much bigger, and now makes so many more awesome facial expressions – smirks and smiles and such. She has also grown into that nose more… she is all cheeks (good eater!).

Tomorrow is my 34th birthday. It’s funny, usually I would be considering drinks with the girls, sushi or some cool restaurant with the husband, my annual gift to myself (usually from Sephora). This year… my best friend Shelly said we could go for pedicures (close enough to home that we could dash between feedings), and on the actual day I plan to go to Target.

I know, TARGET? But do keep in mind that I have been in the house with Emerson for almost three weeks, only leaving for the pediatrician or my own doctor appointment. Spent a week prior in the hospital, and before that I was on bedrest for like a month – again only leaving the house for hospital appointments. Through all this my house has been renovated and I am in desperate need of certain things like shower curtain rods, bath mats, trash cans, deodorant and razor blades. I look forward to wandering through the aisles, getting what I need and checking out what’s new. Maybe I’ll even get a decaf latte from Starbucks on the way home!

My mom is coming over that night with dinner – her fabulous mac and cheese and spinach (since I am on a spinach kick) and dessert. My dad used to always get me a Boston cream pie for my birthday. Well I asked her to get me one. He passed away in ’98 and I think I have only had that dessert once since. Often I see my dad in Emerson’s face, especially when she yawns or looks concerned. It would be nice to start up that tradition again.

As for my present to myself, I can’t think of any material item I really want or need right now that is pampering and indulgent. I know… not too much fun especially for this type of blog. But really, life is pretty good and I want for nothing. Once I head back to work, I may be craving some new clothes or a fab lip gloss but right now I have what I need to be happy.

For those who asked, I will be going back to work full time; since my husband works for himself (photographer and yoga instructor) and makes his own schedules, he will be staying home with Emerson. My mom will watch her if he has any shoots that are during the day, but he plans to try to keep classes and shoots to evenings and weekends.

I know my birth story was scary to many who have yet to have children. Do know it’s less than three weeks after the fact and I am feeling pretty good and for over a week have been pain meds free. I won’t go into details, but I can tell I am healing well and progressing nicely. I would do it all over again in an instant for the end result that is squirming and cooing on the bed next to me. :)

A Life, Replotted: Finding My Path

chelsea henderson for wardrobe oxygen

In my adult life, I’ve been an English as a Second Language Teacher, a school administrator, a Capitol Hill staffer, an environmental advocate, and an energy lobbyist. I’m also a single mother, a wannabe writer and an intermittent blogger with the best of intentions to post more frequently. I’ve toyed over the years with becoming a stylist and spin instructor, and I’ve interviewed (albeit unsuccessfully) for two CEO positions.

To say I was lost is an understatement.

A year and a half ago, driving to work one morning, the left side of my face and neck went numb. I thought I was having a stroke. A doctor friend I texted (yes, while driving) ran me through a series of tests.

“You aren’t having a stroke. You’re having a panic attack,” he determined. “You need to find a stress reliever.”

That numbing sensation returned every time I hit the same intersection in my daily commute. A friend suggested we go to yoga; I reluctantly said yes, kicking and screaming internally the entire way to the studio. Then, as I lay in savasana (corpse pose) at the end of the class, I started sobbing. Call it an epiphany, a reawakening or just a moment of clarity: the stress of my job was killing me, and I had to get out of it.

I left my lucrative high-pressure job and founded my own one-woman policy consulting firm. Between some strategic budgeting, a separation package and a few clients I picked up, I made the financial transition work for my family. But the tug to leave the career I’d spent eighteen years cultivating was strong; I found myself spending less and less time seeking policy clients and more and more time on the yoga mat and working on my novel.

Fast forward to today. I have written not one but two novels, both of which I’m in the process of pitching to literary agents. By the end of January, I will have completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training certification. I also manage a boutique fitness studio and get paid a small sum to write for an energy policy blog.

My income is not the highest it’s ever been. We don’t eat out much, and I didn’t take a “real” vacation in 2014. I’ve consigned many of my old work duds and the heels I used to don religiously Monday thru Friday. I don’t mind spending most of my time in loungewear. I write and practice yoga daily; hope to add yoga teacher and author to my bio; and I’m home when my kids get out of school.

What else do you need to know about me? Someday I will tell you about how my son got his name. Let’s just say it involves a certain handsome brooder from literature. I love wine, books, red lipstick and George Clooney, though I’m trying not to let his recent nuptials depress me. And whatever walk of life you find yourself in, I’m here to inspire, cheerlead and support. I recoil at the label midlife crisis. For the first time in my life, I feel authentic.

I look forward to sharing tidbits of my journey here.

chelsea hendersonChelsea Henderson is an aspiring novelist and recovering Capitol Hill staffer. When she isn’t sneaking time to finish writing her second book, she advocates on behalf of clean energy and environmental policy, reads, practices yoga, and single parents her perpetually hungry pre-teen boys. She also periodically contributes to her lifestyle blog, the Chelsea Chronicles and is intermittently good at Twitter.

A Life, Replotted: On Dating

chelsea henderson for wardrobe oxygen

It’s been longer than I care to admit since I’ve sat across the dinner table from an eligible bachelor and felt that indescribable spark that marks the sign of good chemistry. While I was writing my first book – then the second – and taking yoga teacher training, I put romance not only on the back burner, but shoved the prospect of dating way into the back recesses of my emotional pantry. I had other priorities, legitimate demands on my time and energy.

“I wish you would open your heart to finding someone special,” my best friend said to me one night. With yoga teacher training consuming every kid-free weekend, I knew I didn’t have the capacity to devote to a new person.

“When I’m done with teacher training,” I promised. “I’ll make an effort.”

Thus far my attempts have fallen flat. has provided me with nothing but blogging fodder. What’s with all the guys who pose by their cars? I didn’t know so many men in the DC metro area liked to chillax. Am I too picky? Maybe. But I’m not willing to settle for anyone less than exceptional. Frankly, I’d rather spend my evenings going to my favorite yoga class or writing the next chapter of my book than having a boring drink with a mediocre guy who randomly capitalizes nouns (e.g. special Lady) in his profile.

Honestly, I’m fine with my solitude. Sort of.

I get it. The right guy isn’t going to find me if my nose is always pointed toward a yoga mat, book or computer screen. But in the spirit of full disclosure, I might be a little scared to open up. If the last guy I dated had worked out, I doubt I would have written my first book. But then again, if I hadn’t suffered the heartache inflicted by the guy before him, I might never have written my first book. It’s the ultimate catch-22.

So I check my matches everyday. I signed up for Hinge. And that incredibly hot man who started dropping in to classes at my regular studio? One of these days, maybe I’ll get the nerve to put my mat next to his.

chelsea hendersonChelsea Henderson is an aspiring novelist and recovering Capitol Hill staffer. When she isn’t sneaking time to finish writing her second book, she advocates on behalf of clean energy and environmental policy, reads, practices yoga, and single parents her perpetually hungry pre-teen boys. She also periodically contributes to her lifestyle blog, the Chelsea Chronicles and is intermittently good at Twitter.

Ask Allie: Creating a Wardrobe Wish List

How do you go about making a ‘wish list’ for each season? I’m at a loss as to how to kick it off. In fact, I’m not even sure what I want. I know what I like when I see it but I don’t know that I can conjure it up in my head first.

First things first, before you create a wish list be sure your closet holds only that which you can wear. You can use this post on honing your personal style through a closet clean-out as a guide.

Once you have cleaned out your closet in this manner, you should have a better idea on what is missing, what you need to make the current closet more cohesive. Before you have wishes and dreams, you need a secure foundation. Clothes to get you dressed for work, for ordinary social events, for the grocery store and your son’s playdate.

Once you have that, you’ll get a feel for your personal style. With a wardrobe full of things that fit and work with your life, you’ll start gravitating toward certain pieces because they make you feel great or are so perfect for your life. Note these feelings, be it in your mind or in a journal. Be aware of colors, patterns, cuts, and silhouettes that feel right and those that garner compliments (sometimes a great piece doesn’t get a compliment, but you may get one about how you have lost weight, look rested, possibly changed your hair when you didn’t).

Only then, should you be able to craft a wish list. Each season you’ll pull out the clothes you already own, try them on, see what still fits and flatters and what holes are in your wardrobe. As you scroll through blogs and flip through magazines you’ll see current trends. This is the perfect time of year because every fashion website is sharing what is hot for the season; check Harper’s BAZAAR,, Glamour, Fashionista.  Note what appeals to you, be it a certain color, a popular pattern, a fresh new accessory or silhouette. It’s not about if you can wear the exact item or afford the specific designer, it’s about using it as an idea launching pad.  Can a similar item or trend work with your wardrobe and personal style? Sometimes it’s better to admire than to own.

When you do have down what you like and will work with what you have and who you currently are, make the list and carry it with you. Don’t veer off course, use your wish list to stick to your budget as well as your personal style. Cross off items as you get them, and adjust as you actually try such pieces and find a better alternative.

Personal style is not something you figure out over night, in fact it is something that is improved by taking the long route. Baby steps, small revelations will make the most impact over time and help you figure out not just your current style, but what items you desire to better hone it. Best of luck!

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A Life, Replotted: on perseverance

chelsea henderson for wardrobe oxygen

It occurred to me that I haven’t yet detailed a timeline of what happened after the day my face went numb on my morning commute except to share that I found yoga, writing and a happier way of life.

In a moment of despair, I googled “MFA creative writing” and instead found a less life-altering and cheaper commitment than three years of higher education: an online Stanford University writing class titled “Novel Writing Back to Front” taught by novelist Caroline Leavitt. I typically suck at endings (blog posts or relationships) so it sounded like the perfect class for me.

Except I didn’t register in time. My heart sunk. “I just need to incorporate writing into my daily routine, like exercise,” I told myself. Did I do that? No. A month later, I was contemplating how to hold myself accountable when my phone buzzed with an incoming message. It was Stanford University. The universe had intervened. I was in off the waitlist.

The course had started. I immediately emailed the instructor to ask what I had missed. “Oh, nothing,” she assured me. “We’re getting to know each other on the message board. The first assignment is due Friday. Just 750 words from anywhere in your novel.”

Oh great, you mean the novel I hadn’t started writing yet? I got to work. Eventually those first 750 words evolved into the second chapter of my book. I used each assignment as an opportunity to deepen the storyline. And while I’d convinced myself I couldn’t possibly write the final chapter of a story before I had the rest of the plot figured out, I soon devised the perfect ending. By the time the class concluded, my novel was halfway written. In the two months that followed, I finished it. I devoted two more months to revisions and edits, with the continued help of Caroline, who doubles as a manuscript consultant.

“Start pitching it to agents,” my father (also an author) advised. And I did. All summer and fall. I had some nibbles, but publishing is a tough industry and fewer than three percent of debut novelists emerge from the “slush pile” where manuscripts from unknown writers linger. To take my mind off the disappointment, I started writing a second novel.

chelsea henderson

In November, I received the most thoughtful rejection in the history of rejections. Literary agent Barbara Collins Rosenberg loved my (first) novel, but thought she’d have a hard time selling it to publishers. She’d been following my blog and read about my second book in the making. “If you don’t have representation by the time you finish the second book,” she wrote. “I’d love to read it.”

I finished writing the second book in January, and in February, I re-pitched Barbara. She requested the full manuscript and a week later, she offered me representation on novel number two. Yes, my second novel written could  be the first published.

Reader, I have an agent!

At any step of the way, I could have thrown in the towel. But I didn’t let rejection interfere with my dreams. Even with an agent, the road ahead remains steep. However, with Barbara advocating for my story, I can worry less and instead direct my energy toward a productive use of time.

That is to say, I’ve started writing the sequel.

chelsea hendersonChelsea Henderson is an aspiring novelist and recovering Capitol Hill staffer. When she isn’t sneaking time to finish writing her second book, she advocates on behalf of clean energy and environmental policy, reads, practices yoga, and single parents her perpetually hungry pre-teen boys. She also periodically contributes to her lifestyle blog, the Chelsea Chronicles and is intermittently good at Twitter.

Change for Good: Dry Brushing

While I was on disability, I went down a bit of an internet rabbit hole (well I went down quite a few because there’s not much else to do when hopped up on Percocet and on bed rest but let’s stay on topic). I was looking into natural looking and gradual sunless tanners (the results can be found in this post), but many articles and reviews I read discussed the importance of exfoliation before application, and a few recommended dry brushing.

the benefits of dry brushing

Oh yeah, dry brushing! I used to do that back when I worked for The Body Shop! I was a trainer for the company so I ended up trying every product we had including the body brush (FYI that painfully stiff natural body brush isn’t for lathering your back even though they advertise it as such) but when surrounded by hundreds of beauty products and being young and able to look fresh after six cocktails and three hours of sleep, I didn’t stick to much of a skincare regimen. But now in my late 30s and full of painkillers and chemicals from surgeries, the detoxification and skin improving properties of dry brushing sounded mighty appealing.

As I mentioned in this post, I read the eBook The 10-Day Skin Brushing Detox after seeing so many rave reviews for it online and purchased this $10 body brush. Once the brush arrived in the mail, I started dry brushing the very next day. I started with a very light touch – that brush can feel pretty scratchy on the skin! But with time, you find you can handle and even enjoy a rougher brushing and may adjust the method to your needs. I wake, use the toilet, and right away dry brush. If I wait, I end up having on clothes or moisturizer or sweat from walking or it just seems like a burden. But keep the brush in the bathroom (it has a loop, I hang it on the back of the door), strip, brush, and move on. Within a week it should be as much habit as brushing your teeth.

I start with my left leg, brushing from the tips of my toes up to my hips, the side, and then my rear. Then the other side. I then do my arms from tips (or cast), to shoulders, putting focus on my elbows which get dry. I then brush my neck from face down, circles from the middle of my breastbone out to my arms, light brushing over the breasts, brushing from below the breasts to the abdomen, counter-clockwise on the abdomen, then from the pubic bone up (over the “mama pooch” and post-baby stretch marks). Sometimes I do my face (light stroke on side of nose from forehead to chin, then three swipes from nose out, then other side), sometimes I just go straight to back of neck and shoulders, try to scratch as much of the back as possible, and another go at the bum to tackle the cellulite.

The Benefits of Dry Brushing

The external benefits: Your skin needs less moisturizer – if you forget to lotion up after a shower it’s not that noticeable. Your skin will look more taut; I noticed this most on my thighs, hips, and upper arms. You will have a glow, thanks to better circulation, and that glow lasts all day. Fewer ingrown hairs and if you have Keratosis Pilaris it can help reduce it without inflammation. Many find their cellulite is reduced and it supposedly helps prevent spider and varicose veins.

The internal benefits: Many of us live pretty sedentary lives sitting at a desk all day and driving in cars. Dry brushing helps the body detoxify itself through the skin and the lymphatic system, something that your body may not do as well as it should with your lifestyle. Pregnant women are encouraged to dry brush to prevent swelling and edema. I find that dry brushing gives me a buzz that works like a small cup of coffee and helps me be motivated to go on my morning walk.

I’ve been dry brushing almost daily since June and my skin looks younger, firmer, and healthier than it has in years. I now look forward to it, and have increased pressure. Oh, and to go back to the original reason I started dry brushing, it does exfoliate the skin perfectly for an even sunless tan or to better absorb any moisturizer!

Have you tried dry brushing? What do you think of it?

Listening to Life with a Capital L

In 2004, I got fired from my job. I was managing a very busy, high volume and high profile shop and was also a trainer for new managers for the company. I took off a long weekend before the holiday rush to do some planning for my wedding that following summer, and recruited a couple managers from neighboring shops to cover shifts for me. I returned to the shop to find that not a single deposit had been made in my absence, the safe overflowing. I gathered up all the bags, dashed to the bank and deposited them before the mall opened. When the next staff member arrived that evening, I headed to the back to reconcile the deposits. Just as I noticed one deposit slip was missing the phone rang. It was the corporate office.

People were questioned, people were suspected, and one stopped showing up to work mysteriously but the money was never found. And while everyone knew it wasn’t me who took the money, I was the store manager, a leader within the company, and had to set an example. After the holidays (of COURSE, had to have me to get through the Christmas rush), my boss came to visit, gave me a hug, and handed me my walking papers.

I drove home in a daze.  I was a great employee, I’ve always been proud of my work ethic.  And now I had been fired from a job I poured all my blood, sweat and tears into.  But I soon realized this was a GOOD THING. I was free! I had worked in some aspect of retail for over a decade and it was wearing me down. That Christmas all the gifts I received from my loved ones had one thing in common – they were designed to reduce stress. It was clear I was near my breaking point.  I would work 20 days in a row without a break, I’d leave work at midnight and have to be back at 5am and had an hour-long commute. I was getting varicose veins and living off Mountain Dew and venti Frappucinnos. I wasn’t doing what was best for me and my future so Life with a capital L intervened.

Instead of spending those six weeks unemployed with a bottle of wine by my side, I celebrated my freedom. I wallpapered our bathroom with my dad’s old playbills from the ‘60s and ‘70s. I cleaned out my closet, my attic, and every drawer in the house. I went to the gym. I planned the rest of our wedding (and was even more diligent about having it all be on a budget), taught myself enough HTML to make a “bio” for my TheKnot profile, and I got my nose pierced.

2004-02 alison and karl

February 2004

No matter what company I worked for, how liberal or creative or funky, dress code always stipulated no visible tattoos or piercings other than ears unless for religious purposes. So hells yeah Life with a capital L, give me freedom and give me holes in my face! I went to the place where I got my tattoo, I knew they did piercings and I knew the place was clean.  It hurt like hell. It hurt more than when Karl and I got all cutsey college grunge couple and together went to get our cartilages pierced, and it hurt more than all the times I self-pierced my ears in high school (even more than the time I pierced my ear with a safety pin and it got stuck in there for two weeks and got infected). But screw The Man, I was now a badass face-pierced woman.

Until a week later when I was drying my face with a towel, the stud got caught in the terry and the nose ring was yanked out. I tried to get it back in, Karl even tried, fighting back bile as the nostril got inflamed and began to bleed, but no success. The next day I was at the door of the tattoo parlor before it opened but the piercer said it was too late; the hole had already healed and they’d have to pierce through scar tissue to get it back in. And I thought the original piercing was bad, this pain almost made me faint. But dammit, I am going to be a badass with my nose ring!

Funny, that “badass” nose ring didn’t seem to even be a blip on the radar of those companies who interviewed me during those six weeks of freedom, as I received a few great offers and took one at a firm only five miles from home. A week into working there I made mention of my nose ring in a conversation with colleagues and they all looked at me in surprise, none of them had noticed I even had one.

A couple months later, I was on the phone with a client, my elbow on the edge of my desk, twirling my nose ring when I lost my balance, my elbow fell off the desk and my hand yanked the stud right out of my nostril. Just as Life had intervened when I was fired from my job, I felt Life with a capital L was doing so again.

Alison, you don’t need a nose ring to be a badass. Don’t try so hard, just be.

I often get caught up in the need to define my personal style. How can I spew fashion advice when I don’t have some covetable wardrobe or enviable and defined personal style? What a hack. If I just had some cooler clothes, if I created a more minimalist wardrobe, if I dieted down to a size easier to fit and shop, if I got an edgy haircut, a new pair of boots, a new designer bag. And then I think of those months of the nose ring. That nose ring didn’t make me any cooler, in fact few even noticed it. What made me badass during that period was making lemonade out of that big lemon of losing my job. Seeing it as an opportunity, not a failure. Taking advantage of that forced staycation, doing things I had been meaning to do and jumping on ideas that came to me while brushing my teeth or driving to the gas station. The nose ring wasn’t badass, but the reasoning behind it was. I didn’t have to wear my badass on my sleeve or on my face, I didn’t have to try so hard, I just had to be.

You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone. If you’re trying to impress, I can tell you right now you’re failing. Cool comes from inside, from confidence, from knowing yourself. And when you know yourself, listen to yourself, and believe in yourself that’s when personal style shines. And that my dear, makes you a badass.

Let’s be a bunch of badasses in 2015, shall we? Let’s own this life, and let’s do it for our badass selves.

Too Much of a Good Thing

I am getting lots of emails and comments from women excited about the spring trends. They are wondering how to fit all of them into their current wardrobe and want to know my opinion.

I agree, there are some really wonderful trends this year that can add a lot of style and personality to a simple wardrobe, that are flattering and wearable.

But do know, you do NOT have to follow any trends if you do not want to! A stylish woman is not a slave to trends; she only accepts those that she honestly enjoys.

That being said, if there is a trend that does fit your personality, your lifestyle and your wardrobe… too much of it can be a bad thing.

Yesterday on my way home I popped into Filene’s Basement. My eyes hurt from the carnival of colors in the bag section; bags women were grabbing up as though they were free. There were patent clutches, patent slouch bags, patent frame bags in bright orange, lipstick red, canary yellow, apple green. These bags had the hip patent, the current shape that is in style, the popular bright colors and plenty of shiny hardware to boot. The yellow was the most popular, and I overheard one girl saying to her friend, “a yellow patent bag is the must-have for Spring.”

Please ladies, this is how Ugg boots, leggings, distressed denim skirts and giant white plastic sunglasses become items of disgust. A magazine or a TV show tells everyone they are new and fresh and Paris or Lindsay or Sienna (or all three) is seen running around town in it. Suddenly every teen girl and her mom go out to buy that item, thinking that owning it will mean they will suddenly have a bit of the “It Factor” that these celebs have. Cheap versions are sold at big box retailers to supply the demand and now every female in a mall seems to be wearing these items as though they are a mandatory uniform.

I would be so saddened to see yellow be ruined in this manner. It is exciting to see a fresh new color for spring, but if you abuse it’s powers, it will be the next Ugg boot. Yellow is for a solid-colored, well-made dress, a spring coat, a pair of peeptoe heels or round-toe girlie flats. It’s for a skinny belt over a cardigan and pencil skirt, or even a tube top to wear to that summer concert. It is not a color that should be made into everything under the sun, and honestly becomes quite hideous in large quantities and out of ostentatious fabric. Unless you are a really artsy girl who lives in primary shades and cartoon-inspired accessories, you do NOT need a big yellow patent purse.

Speaking of patent leather and its cheaper cousins… again in moderation. A patent clutch is a great piece to use for nights out and with a dress for a day wedding; I find a pair of black patent heels a useful and stylish addition to a woman’s wardrobe, and adore the look of a patent accent like a belt against more subdued fabrics. However unless you are a True Fashionista, you should not be sporting any larger pieces of patent leather. I don’t care what Hayden Panettiere is shelling out for Dooney & Bourke or what they put on page 234 of Vogue, it’s not stylish. It is a fashion victim look waiting to happen. A large piece in this sort of material can easily look cheap and easily look dated. Yes, we have been wearing patent leather for decades and almost every woman reading this probably remembers her black patent Mary Janes from grade school, but large doses of patent will not stay in style for many seasons. A pair of shoes or a small accessory will add style and shine to your wardrobe; a large piece will be the equivalent to… well to Ugg boots in less than a year.

A new season should not be a time for manic shopping. Slowly look through magazines and store windows, and as with any other time of the year – only purchase that which you love. The world will still rotate and you will still be quite stylish if you decide to not purchase any yellow, green, patent, enamel jewelry, floral pieces, metallic leathers or safari-inspired garments this season. Shop in moderation, and if you find a trend you love, don’t abuse it to the point that the rest of the world will despise it. Your fellow women will thank you.

Wicked Beauty: A ‘Good Enough’ Face

Wicked Beauty by Phyllis Bourne for Wardrobe Oxygen

My name is Phyllis, and I’m a hard-core beauty junkie.

An overflowing cosmetics bag and make-up littered vanity attest to this fact. Yet, most days my face does not.

I feed my addiction regularly. There’s nothing I love more than filling department store and online shopping carts with flawless foundations, eye shadow palettes and mascaras promising extraordinarily long eyelashes. In my mind’s eye, I see myself in front of the bathroom mirror gliding a new liner across my eyelids to form a sultry cat eye. I imagine brushing on a limited edition bronzer-blush duo to give myself the prettily flushed cheeks of the airbrushed models in magazines.


Then my alarm clock goes off. After hitting the snooze button several times reality sets in. All I have the time or the energy to do most mornings is grab a lip gloss from my overwhelming mountain of make-up and hurriedly swipe it on.

Every year I vow to do better, but like most New Year’s resolutions my intention to paint on a perfectly made-up face each morning rarely lasts beyond the first week of January. However, I started this year prepared. I’ve pared down my make-up collection to my favorite items, reducing a mountain of make-up to a hill, a very big hill.

Next, I selected five products – tinted moisturizer, concealer, lip gloss, mascara and blush. Together they’re what I call my good enough face. The result can’t compare to the flawless looks of social media make-up divas, but the products take less than five minutes to apply, cover a few flaws and leave me looking fresh and polished.

Again, good enough.

As a multi-published author with looming deadlines and hundreds of blank pages to fill, I’ve learned that sometimes I have to let go of little picture perfection and embrace big picture good enough to get the job done.

So this month consider giving a five product, five-minute face a shot. I’ll bet when you catch a glimpse of your reflection during the course of the day, you’ll find your good enough face – got the job done.

Phyllis BourneA Harlequin romance author and former newspaper crime reporter, Phyllis Bourne writes to feed a growing lipstick addiction. When she’s not at the computer, she can be found at a cosmetics counter or her favorite hair salon spending the grocery money. She lives in Nashville with an understanding husband, who in one kiss can discern the difference between department store and drug store lip gloss. Check her out online at