Today has been insanity. I got dressed thinking this would be a normal work day, but while getting my purse together I get a text that the office has been closed due to a water main break. In between these pictures I am furiously emailing my team creating a plan of action. While I do occasionally work from home, the majority of what I do requires technology in my office, and they weren’t letting people in the building. I tried driving to work to pick up at least my work laptop but a train was stalled on tracks across the road to get there, so more furious emails and I turned around and came home. Luckily I work with some pretty phenomenal people who care about the team and our clients and we worked together to get all work accomplished today. I can’t believe I am saying this, but I look forward to being back in the office tomorrow. With all the craziness I guess this outfit was perfect for it makes me believe for a minute that I am in a tropical location sipping a pina colada!
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The other day I was chatting with Kat from Ginger, Adorned on Twitter. She got this tutu and I mentioned this skirt and she suggested wearing them together… and so I did! Adds some fun volume and I love how it peeks out from under the skirt. I often get all hot and uncomfortable at social events and decided to prepare accordingly with a short-sleeved top. Speaking of social events…
Tonight is the opening night party for The Shoe Hive‘s pop-up shop “Hive on the Hill“ at Tabula Rasa on Barracks Row. The event starts at 7pm and there will be drinks, noshes, and tons of gorgeous shoes and accessories. Alison of DC Celine and I are co-hosting and we each made a gift list of some of our favorite pieces from The Shoe Hive. It would be great to see you there!
I love a black bootie. In these cold winter months, pair with thick black tights and stay warm while making your dresses and skirts look on trend and chic. Slip under trousers for more warmth than pumps but with the same level of dressiness. Come spring and summer, wear with bare legs for a modern, fresh look. Booties provide a level of stability not found in sandals and pumps; I can recall many times when I had to run to catch a light (or catch up with my uber-fast walking boss) and was glad I was wearing my ankle booties. And the way they can take a simple shift or a floaty frock and make them look hip and cool is awesome.
I’ve had a pair of tough black booties in my wardrobe for years and they are the hardest working shoes in my wardrobe. This spring, the black ankle bootie is a hot trend and there’s a ton of great styles to fit every person and their personal style. Ones that have caught my eye…
1. Via Spiga ‘Fabrizie’ – Clean, sleek, modern… this peeptoe bootie is an elegant choice that will be so stylish this spring but become a wardrobe staple for seasons to come. Have it peek out of work trousers, pair with an LBD, or wear with boyfriend jeans and a blazer. You’ll be amazed how many different outfits these booties will complete.
2. Brooks Brothers Dress Booties – Don’t judge Brooks Brothers by their dated reputation. While they are a destination for preppy and conservative attire, they also are a great resource for well-crafted fashion that marries classic style with a bit of edge. These booties are a perfect example; the subtle cutouts keep it from looking boring and the pointed toe elongates the frame and looks elegant.
3. Seychelles ‘Overjoyed’ – Gathered suede, cutouts, and a wedge heel create a unique bootie that will become a closet favorite. The closed toe makes it easy to pair with trousers for the office, but the cutouts make it sexy enough for Date Night or to be paired with a festive frock.
4. Trouvé ‘Hallie’ – Don’t be surprised if you see me sporting these booties in a future outfit post, they’re totally calling my name! The twisted cut-out leather, the subtle hardware and straps, I think they’re so unique and would look amazing paired with more classic looks.
5. Vince Camuto ‘Effel’ – I own these booties and adore them. They’re surprisingly comfortable and versatile; I’ve paired with jeans, casual trousers, and dresses of every length in my closet. I love the gladiator feel and the wearable heel height. Also they come in wide width and are on sale for a pretty nice price.
6. Ted Baker ‘Narill’ – Gotta love a tough looking bootie with a wearable heel height! The gold details at the toe and heel add such elegance; this bootie can dress up for work easily but look great with dresses or even distressed denim. Karl recently got a pair of Ted Baker boots and we’re both impressed by the quality and attention to detail.
7. Bella Vita ‘Lake’ – These have lower than a 2” heel if you factor in the platform; available in multiple widths this is a shoe that looks chic while being utterly comfortable. The lower vamp is more flattering to short legs and thicker ankles; the wood heel keeps the shoe looking modern.
8. Corso Como ‘Winnona’ – The cross strap provides a more flattering cut for those with thicker ankles and the rounded toe will better flatter feminine and vintage personal styles. This bootie would look great with jeans as well as flared and flippy skirts.
9. Via Spiga ‘Nessa’ – This is an elegant classic that has been in style for many years and will continue to be stylish. This bootie would look great now with opaque tights; when the weather warms let them peek out from skinny jeans. Come spring pair with everything from office attire to your favorite LBD. With the hidden platform the heel isn’t as hard to wear as it looks!
10. Pour la Victorie ‘Zuri’ – Gosh I love the chunky black buckle on these booties; so chic and so easy to style! The closed toe make them more versatile and easier to wear in cold weather, but will still look amazing with skirts and bare legs or boyfriend jeans.
11. Vince Camuto ‘Vamelia’ – The slimmer back strap of this peeptoe bootie may prove more comfortable to some and adds a bit of elegance to an otherwise tough shoe. A chunky heel is more comfortable for standing and walking, yet it’s not so chunky that it will look dated in a year.
12. Dr. Scholl’s ‘London’ Bootie – A beautiful grain to the leather and wood heel gives a casual but classic feel that will look as chic with jeans as with casual sundresses. With a memory foam footbed, this is a comfortable boot that will get years of wear.
13. Alice + Olivia ‘Giovanna’ – Um hello star cutouts, how utterly adorable? This is another bootie you shouldn’t be surprised seeing me wear this year, I love the classic fit but the unexpected cutouts. This is a statement shoe that will improve any outfit!
14. Naughty Monkey ‘Angle Tangle’ – I love a wedge bootie, it’s more comfortable than a standard heel and gives a tough badass vibe. Hardware can quickly make shoes look cheap or dated, but the hardware on these booties is simple and necessary to create a rock and roll feel; these would look amazing with a simple sheath or shift or paired with skinny jeans.
15. Madewell ‘Sylvian’ – It’s one part bootie, one part sandal, one part clog and I love all of it. Reviews say this shoe is surprisingly comfortable and it’s brown and black combo is fresh and casual, perfect for spring.
16. Jeffrey Campbell ‘Jovita’ – The perforated leather not only looks cool but keeps you cool in the summer months. A wedge heel adds comfort a tough gal feel. This bootie would look great with dresses but also peeking out of trousers.
Once I got new glasses, I wanted more. A pair of red frames to channel my inner Sally Jesse Raphael, a funky blue or green pair to jazz up all-black ensembles, a funky shape to show personality at the office. I had heard a lot of great things about Warby Parker and decided to try a pair of frames from them.
Warby Parker Eyewear’s mission is to offer reasonably-priced fashionable frames. On top of that, for every pair of Warby Parkers sold, a new pair is given to someone in need. Warby Parker is also proud to be a carbon-neutral company.
Warby Parker has a try-on program where you can pick five frames and try them on at home. They will ship the glasses to you for free and offer free return postage; I decided to take advantage of this program and see if I could find a new pair of signature prescription frames.
The Warby Parker site is very easy to navigate; click on your gender and then whether you desire optical or sunglass frames. From there you can choose material, color, frame shape, and width. From experience, I know my face is pretty wide, so I stuck to the medium and wide styles of frames. Since I already have a pair of tortoiseshell frames, I stuck to more unusual colors.
The glasses arrived quickly in a sturdy shipping box, and then a lovely navy linen box. Each pair of glasses was in its own compartment, wrapped in plastic and labeled with its name. Each pair of Warby Parker frames has the brand and style name inside on the temple. I found the quality to be stellar, especially for the price. These frames rival the more expensive designer styles I tried at my nearby glasses shop. The return process is simple – peel off the self-adhesive UPS label and drop it in a nearby UPS drop box. I couldn’t be more impressed with Warby Parker and their process… except that my face is too big for them.
Maybe I should have tried men’s frames, but I felt that almost every pair I tried (except for the Bensen, and they just weren’t a style I was looking for) was just a hair too small for my face. I often have this issue not just with glasses, but sunglasses as well. In fact, when I got my new glasses, they were the only ones I liked after trying on about 20 pairs – each other pair seemed just a bit too small for my face shape, even some of the men’s frames I tried.
So if you have a normal to small-sized noggin, I encourage you to try Warby Parker. The Warby Parker at-home program is completely free so you have nothing to risk; if you find a pair you like you can feel good that not only will you look great, but your purchase will also be doing good. As for me, I will have to look elsewhere, my head is just too big to be hipster.
Note: Warby Parker has no idea I am doing this review and I was not compensated in any way for it. I just decided to try the brand and share my experience with you!
One of you can win a Tolani scarf that has been seen on the likes of Jessica Alba (pictured), Sienna Miller, Vanessa Minnillo (pictured), Halle Berry and Mary-Kate Olsen.
The Tolani scarf is courtesy of chickdowntown.com, an awesome site that sells hip women’s designer clothing from the likes of Black Halo, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Diane Von Fürstenberg and Vera Wang Lavender Label.
I am so excited, because you KNOW I love scarves, and these beauts from Tolani are fabulous!
How to enter:
Send an email to email@example.com with the word “TOLANI” in the subject.
In the body of the email, please provide your name and mailing address (I promise these addresses will only go to me – except for the winner, and will be deleted once the contest is over). Winner will be chosen by random.
Contest ends Friday, March 20th, 2009 at midnight ET. Winner will be contacted by email. Scarf will be mailed out from chickdowntown.com. Sorry international readers, but the contest is only open to those in the United States.
Get to know chickdowntown.com:
Facebook (friend “shop chickdowntown” and/or become a fan of the chickdowntown page)
YouTube (chickdowntownTV.com or youtube.com/chickdowntowntv)
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
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:
Bedhead tamed with curling iron
Flipped head upside down, shot hair with Matrix Sleek.Look hairspray and left wild
Laura Mercier: Flawless Face Kit in Sand
Maybelline: Brow powder in Dark Brown, Shadow quad in Mocha Motion
Body Shop: Eye color in Soft Black
Cover Girl: LashBlast mascara in Rich Black
Bare Escentuals: Buxom lip gloss in Dolly
Nars: Blush in Orgasm
Last night I had another wave of domesticity and made zucchini bread and muffins (see below). The zucchini is still so plentiful in Maryland (and so cheap at the farmer’s market!) that I just had to grab a few to make some treats!
This recipe is based off one I found on All Recipes, but totally eye-judged and modified to fit what was in my kitchen. I am not a huge baker because I just am not good with precision. Breads like this are as baker-like as I get!
2 average-sized zucchinis, grated (dollar store grater that I have had for over a decade – used the finer grating. This made a little over 2 cups)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon (didn’t measure, just guessed, could have been a touch more)
1 teaspoon nutmeg (again totally guesstimated)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup white sugar (slightly more, thought had at least a cup on hand but ran out)
2 tablespoons honey (again totally guessed, I squeezed it right in the bowl when I realized I was out of white sugar and my brown was old and solid as a brick)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract (again I eyeballed this)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees
- Grease and flour whatever pants/tins you are using (I used one 8×4 loaf pan and one six-muffin metal tin)
- Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, nutmeg and cinnamon into a bowl.
- Gently fold in walnuts and chocolate chips (putting them in the flour mixture kept them from sinking to the bottom while baking)
- Beat eggs, applesauce, vanilla, sugar and honey together.
- Add sifted ingredients to creamy mixture (I did this opposite due to sizes of bowls being used and there was no issue)
- Stir in zucchini, pour into pans
- Now, recipe says to bake 40-60 minutes or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. I have an unusually small stove so I have to be super careful with times. Ii ended up taking my muffins 12 minutes and my loaf 24 minutes to be properly baked.
- Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes, remove bread and then let completely cool.
This original recipe can be completely modified. As you can tell, I switched out oil for applesauce and ended up with great results. The original recipe asks for 2 1/4 cups of sugar which seems like way too much. I had already planned on dropping it to 2 cups, half brown and half white but due to my snafu, honey came in and did just as well. I think 2 whole cups may have been TOO sweet, but then I did have chocolate chips.
You can do without the nuts, without the chocolate, instead use pine nuts, coconut, a can of drained crushed pineapple, raisins, you name it. I have read how people have used blackstrap molasses or agave nectar for sweetener. Some people have done half zucchini and half banana, some have used yellow squash, I have heard people add pumpkin pie filling instead of oil/applesauce… you can really be creative!
Tonight I am using my last two zucchinis and making six more muffins and another loaf – this time with the pineapple and coconut. Yummolicious!
This top is perfect for this weather – billowy and breezy for the commute, but enough coverage that I don’t freeze to death in the office. This is totally the kind of top I buy, wear once or twice, and tire of the print because it’s too memorable. Love that with Gwynnie Bee I can wear it once or twice, and then return it for something new without buyer’s remorse. Interested in trying Gwynnie Bee? Use this link, tell them Wardrobe Oxygen sent you and get a 30 day free trial of the program.
I just got these glasses Friday evening but have already fallen in love. When I got new glasses back in December, I wanted something classic, stylish without being trendy, something appropriate for work as well as every day. My Issy and La “Gloss” frames are perfect for that, but now I want more frames, and fun frames. I love the bold look of these, and it’s exciting to find frames that are big enough for my ginormous noggin. I did get these frames for free (review here), but I would totally order from Coastal.com again. Great prices, good service, and shipping is lightening fast. In fact, if you go to this link (not an affiliate link, not getting paid to share, just me being jazzed about sharing this with you) and pick any of these frames and add your prescription and use the code FIRSTPAIRFREE you get… well your first pair free! You do have to pay for shipping (which is around $9.00), but what an awesome steal of a deal. It’s always good to always have a spare pair or a fun pair that gets you out of your comfort zone.
Speaking of great deals, I have been wearing my Lifetherapy bracelets quite a lot and get so many compliments on them. They have offered Wardrobe Oxygen readers 20% off on ALL Lifetherapy products (body care as well as jewelery). Use code WARDROBEOXYGEN at checkout; this code is valid until 7/1/2013.
Last week I featured the new Gap Skimmer Jean and how incredibly versatile and adorable it is. Many of you were interested in trying the Skimmer for yourself, well now’s your chance! From February 21 – 27, 2013, try the New Skimmer and get $20 off! When you try the New Skimmer at any Gap store, you’ll get an automatic $20 off any regular-priced pair. What a fab promotion, I’m thinking I may have to grab a pair of their camo-print skimmers for spring!
How to Enter:
Accessories can transform the most basic wardrobe staples and make pieces a cohesive outfit. I just received this necklace from Ruth Barzel Jewelry Design and while it is BEGGING to be styled with an LBD for the holidays or worn with a beautiful silk blouse, I thought it could really make a statement with a simple white shirt and dark jeans. I haven’t carried my Brahmin bag in a while, and I thought the bright blue really made the emerald necklace pop!
If you like this necklace and the other beautiful pieces I have featured from Ruth Barzel Jewelry Design, well today’s your lucky day! One Wardrobe Oxygen reader will win a $100 store credit to Ruth Barzel Jewelry Design!
Ruth Barzel makes all her unique pieces in the United States and is a local-yokel to me. Not only that, she’s an awesome human being! While I love the Emerald Quartz Nugget Statement Necklace I’m wearing here, I also love wearing her Blue Quartz Pendant Necklace and wear her Mixed Metal Chain Bracelet on a weekly basis. Ruth has offered all Wardrobe Oxygen readers 20% off her entire store, just use code OXYGEN20. This discount will be in effect until the end of November, 2013.
How to Enter:
Please use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. This contest is open to both US and international readers. Contest ends November 30, 2013 at midnight ET.
Have you heard of The Lipstick Index? This phrase was coined by the chairman of Estée Lauder to explain why their sales went up after 9/11. From the late ‘20s and into the start of the Great Depression, the economy went down the tubes yet cosmetic sales rose.
Time and time again, when the economy is down, women find budget-friendly ways to still feel fashionable and beautiful. And when the economy is good, the masses clamor to get the hottest trend they can at the highest pricepoint they can afford.
I understand this, and I too have bought a trendy accessory or beauty product to make me feel better, feel fashionable. And it works. It’s amazing how a new color of lipstick or some fun nail art can change your look as well as your outlook. However, it’s important to understand that these budget-friendly trends are just that – trends.
We seem to be living in a time where people are sacrificing quality for quantity. Cheap polyester dresses that don’t fit quite right, sky-high platforms that tear heels to shreds, neon accessories that will be passé come October. We’re spending $30 a month on mystery boxes of travel sizes of beauty products or mediocre-quality shirts and accessories. We’ll buy Starbucks every day, but balk at the idea of spending three figures on a pair of shoes or trousers that will be en vogue years from today.
I encourage you to do an experiment – for the next month track all the money you spend on nail polish, fun lipstick colors, self-tanner, Starbucks, super trendy jewelry, and novelty clothing (witty tee shirts, pieces that can only be worn for specific situations, fast food fashion a la Forever 21). Don’t stop your regular routine, just gather up the receipts and a month from now, tally them and see how much you spent.
How much was it? Enough for a cashmere sweater? A pair of perfectly-tailored trousers? Designer jeans that make your rear look amazing? A classic designer bag? Black pumps that are chic, slightly sexy, and wearable for eight hours straight?
With Weight Watchers I often have an internal debate with food – which is more important, short-term pleasure or long-term satisfaction? The same could be said for fashion. There is nothing wrong with trendy splurges – in fact I recommend them to keep wardrobe staples looking current. However take a good look at your closet, your dressing table, your makeup bag – are all those quick fixes keeping you from achieving quality personal style?
Dear Allie:I am getting back into the workforce after five years as a SAHM. I’m really excited, but am having a hard time finding nice work clothes. I am a size 18, 5’5” and an apple and all I seem to find are lowcut dresses and polyester pants. Do you know where I can find suits and work clothes like dresses and blouses for my size?Why are all plus sized suits made out of polyester? Where can I find a suit that is equal in quality and price to J. Crew but goes above a size 16?I was recently promoted and my new position requires me to travel on business several times a month. For such trips, I will need to wear a suit while at the office I can usually get away with casual pants or even nice jeans. While I have a great wardrobe of business casual pieces, it is proving difficult to find more corporate of attire for my size (I vary between a 20 and 22). Do you know of any retailers who specialize in suiting and corporate attire for plus-sized women?Hi Allie, I need to improve my look at work. We’re allowed to wear anything we want but I don’t want to look like a slob any more and think if I look good I may be more likely to get a raise or promotion. I’m 5’7”, a size 20 with a large bust and don’t even know where to start looking for nicer work clothes. HELP!
I am not sure why the world thinks women over a size 12 don’t hold professional jobs. They must think that with the poor selection of career wear for plus-sized women. While quality suits and stylish business casual clothing does exist, it’s hard to find. Below I feature some brands who realize that just because you wear a larger size doesn’t mean you wish to sacrifice style, quality, or professionalism.
If you’re plus sized, I’m sure you already know about Lane Bryant, Avenue, Ashley Stewart, One Stop Plus/Woman Within/Roamans/Jessica London, and other retailers who specialize in plus size fashion. Below are some suggestions on brands I know who aren’t the typical shops, and who provide quality, well-crafted and stylish career wear in plus sizes
I know, I know, Nordstrom again? Thing is, they offer a great selection of quality brands and style for plus sizes. MICHAEL Michael Kors, Rachel Palley, Calvin Klein, Karen Kane, Eileen Fisher, Tahari Woman, Vince Camuto, Kenneth Cole… all these brands and more are offered in plus sizes at Nordstrom stores and online.
Unlike many other department stores who think a woman in a size 22 dress wants a muumuu or a flowing polyester pantsuit, Nordstrom buyers find brands and pieces that are in the same vein of style as the rest of the store. Great colors, fun silhouettes, lots of options. Nordstrom has free shipping and free returns, will perform alterations onsite, and have personal shoppers that can help you secure a professional wardrobe for your job.
Macy’s is another department store who offers a fantastic selection of brands and styles for plus sizes. Alfani, Calvin Klein, Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Jones New York, and then their in-house brand INC International Concepts are great resources for great plus size office wear. Like Nordstrom, Macy’s provides a good amount of real estate in most of their stores for plus-sized fashion.
Macy’s always has promotions for discounts and shipping deals. Macy’s has a great return and exchange policy, where you can return by mail or at any nearby store.
Talbots Woman comes in sizes 12-24 regular and 12-22 petite. Each season they offer several styles of suit separates so you can mix and match for the perfect career look. Talbots also specializes in business casual looks, with tailored trousers, well-crafted skirts, polished knits and sweaters and even shoes and accessories.
While many retailers hide their plus size department in a dusty corner or keep it only online, Talbots often has separate stores just for their Woman line, or else it gets plenty of real estate in their mixed-size store. Talbots is phenomenal with customer service, seeking out sizes at other locations, taking returns in-store, and giving you honest feedback and offering suggestions at the fitting room. When I was a size 18, Talbots was my go-to store, where I knew I would find quality, style, and a supportive staff.
Jones New York
While Jones New York is a department store staple, they also have their own online boutique that has a large selection of career wear in extended sizes. Since you have to return by mail (they offer a pre-paid shipping label), it’s good to try out JNY in a store to know how it fits, and then go online to find a larger selection.
Kiyonna knows how to dress a woman. They make well-made pieces that are stylish and flattering to a plus-sized figure. No muumuus and garish prints here, Kiyonna offers beautiful dresses, and also a beautiful selection of separates. While their bottoms are very basic, they are well-made and classic. Some of their tops can run on the sexy side, but many are great pieces for business casual environments or fabulous shells under suits. Their return policy is pretty standard but I hear their sizing is quite consistent so once you know how you fit in Kiyonna you won’t have to make as many returns and exchanges.
If you enter an Ann Taylor store, you may think they don’t care about anyone over a size 12. However online they go up to size 18 and XXL on the majority of their pieces. I also find Ann Taylor runs a bit large and many of my readers have agreed that their size 18 can often fit a size 20 woman.
Ann Taylor regularly has promotions for free shipping and percentages off select items – it’s smart to sign up for their emails or follow them on Facebook or Twitter so you stay updated. Their online selection can sell out pretty quickly when they have such sales, so shop early. While Ann Taylor doesn’t offer free returns, they do accept returns even of larger sizes in any store. And if you have to do a return, check out their sale rack where I have regularly seen larger sizes from other women who have made returns.
Lands’ End may not be the retailer you would think for career wear, but they do have a pretty great selection of workwear staples. While their summer selection is more geared towards shorts and dresses, they always have a good selection of blazers and coordinating bottoms and come the cooler months have an even greater selection of suiting and work-appropriate pieces.
Lands’ End often has promotions for discounts and free shipping so sign up for their emails to get the latest news. Lands’ End also accepts returns at Sears stores which makes shopping with them even more convenient.
Like Lands’ End, Eddie Bauer mainly focuses on casual weekend fashion. However, like Lands’ End they have a few stand-out pieces each season for career wear. Eddie Bauer often focuses on easy-care pieces, and you’re likely to find wrinkle-free suiting, no-iron button-front shirts, and machine washable trousers and dresses. Eddie Bauer offers free exchanges and accepts returns by mail (they will provide a pre-paid shipping label or you can send by your own method) or in store.
I’m quick to head to Overstock to find a toaster oven or an area rug, but I have now learned to go to this site for fashion. Popular brands like Tahari, Kasper, Calvin Klein, and Ann Klein are featured by Overstock, and at nicer prices than at the department store. While some of the styles offered on Overstock are a bit strange, you can also find some gems – often pieces being sold right now at your nearby Belk or Macy’s. Overstock has customer reviews, ridiculously cheap shipping, and a reasonable return policy.
While most of my local discount big box retailers will have some plus size fashion, it’s usually a small section, messy, and full of strange pieces I wouldn’t be caught dead in. Not so for TJ Maxx, who usually carries higher-end brands than similar stores, and they usually have a larger and better organized plus size department.
Where do you find stylish and well-made plus size career wear? I’d love to know your suggestions!
In the morning, I ran to get my hair cut and colored in the nearby town, and then run a few errands. Olive ribbed tank from J. Crew, white ribbed tank from Old Navy, Joe’s Jeans in “Provacateur,” brown stacked flops from J. Crew, silver hoops from The Icing, silver cuff.
Hair was brushed out but on the second day; blew the bangs straight.
Makeup was Body Shop bronzing powder in Light as face color, Max Factor Lash Perfection mascara on curled lashes, Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Pink Afterglow.
Kathleen did her magic – all I told her is that I wanted to go darker and that I wanted heavier bangs. I trust her, and was not disappointed. Choppy layers that can work straight, wavy or curly, fun sideswept bangs, and a very rich multi-tonal color of dark brown that looks closer to what I was born with.
Got home and had to dash to get dressed. Friday night I had a friend over so I didn’t have time to play dress-up and figure out my theater outfit. Thank you soooo much to everyone who wrote in suggestions, you guys are awesome and have good ideas! For the one who suggested my Old Navy dress… I completely forgot about it. I had set to wear my black cashmere tank from Banana Republic and my orange-red shantung full skirt also from Banana (seen here), but when I saw how spiffy and sleek my husband looked (flat front gray tropical wool trousers from J. Crew, white tailored shirt from some brand sold at Mens Wearhouse, black blazer from… J. crew? Not sure…, black slip-on sleek shoes from Ecco) I decided my outfit may look a bit like a costume. I tried a few different skirts, but settled on the black matte jersey dress from Old Navy, my red stone necklace, my leopard peep-toe heels from BCBgirls,silver hoops from The Icing, and silver cuff natch.
Didn’t have to do my hair since it was done by Kathleen my talented stylist. She used the Pureology line on me, and swears by it for protecting color. I bought the shampoo and conditioner and once I can wash my hair (was told to go as long as humanely possible without washing) I will be using it and let you k now how it is.
Same makeup as earlier, just a re-touch of the bronzing powder, a bit of Smashbox Soft Lights in Tint on my cheekbones, a medium line of Maybelline Ultra Liner in black on the top lash line, a quick swipe of Maybelline Great Lash waterproof mascara in black over existing mascara, Body Shop Lip and Cheek Tint with Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Pink Afterglow over it.
We took the Metro and it was not even a block to the little restaurant (I don’t know if there are even 20 tables in the place). The menu seemed different from the one online and the only entrees that were vegetarian were spaghetti with tomato sauce (yawn) and a risotto with corn and truffle shavings. My husband and I chose the risotto, we shared a bottle of Pinot Grigio (not sure the label, our friend chose the wine) and had a nice, yet not inspiring or overwhelmingly unique meal. We then walked not even three blacks to the Kennedy Center where my friend and I sidestepped grates in our heels (she too wore a black sheath and heels) while the men tromped over everything and got there in time to marvel at the acre-sized curtains in the lobby and get a cocktail in the Terrace Bar prior to the performance.
The performance was great! As I said, I had never seen The Phantom of the Opera other than the movie. Back story – 1992, for Christmas I got my first boom box with a CD player in it, and with it two CDs – Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera. For several months until I got my high school arsenal of REM, Depeche Mode, Pearl Jam and Nirvana, I listened solely to these two soundtracks. Come 2007, I am silently singing along to this performance and even a tear came down my cheek at finally seeing live what I had in my head 15 years ago. I think also seeing Shakespeare in Love the night prior made the theater experience that more intense.
Our friends live in Virginia and parked at the theater; it was a gorgeous night and declined their offer to drive us to the Metro and decided to hoof it. All in all a lovely evening!
When I go into a store, the first place I look is the clearance or sale rack. I don’t want to be tempted by full priced items when a good equivalent is available at half the price in the back of the store. Even when planning my wedding I first scored sample sales and discount bridal shops before even looking at a single full-priced gown. It is better to buy quality instead of quantity, but just because it’s on a sale rack does not mean it’s poor quality or lacking style or fashion.
Take Your Time
Clearance racks are a mess. Why waste good salespeople hours in cleaning up the back of the store when the real money making is in the front displays of new product? Because of this, do not limit your search to the section designated with your size. Take the time to flip through all the racks. You may find a size 10 amongst the size 2s or a great size Small blouse hidden amongst size 14 blazers. Grab everything that even remotely appeals to you, and a few things you would not usually consider. The best way to spend money on trendy pieces and unusual finds is to pay for them at a discount – less buyer’s remorse.
Sizes Can Be Deceiving
Sometimes items are on sale racks because they are missized. I have tried on size 6 jackets that are too big for me and size 14s that are skin tight. Don’t just look at the label – pull the item from the rack and see if it may possibly fit. Often the missized items are at a super reduced price because they are being looked over.
Consider a Tailor
I decided to write this post because of my clearance rack prize of yesterday. Sueded cotton trench, hip cut, gorgeous color, originally $179 on sale for $29.99. No obvious flaws but the coat was too large for me – I am petite and it is not. It is an XL and a generous cut, I am not. I bought the awesome bargain after trying it on and seeing that the shoulders were fitting decently, though the sleeves were past my fingers, the waist was too big and the length too long. I took it to my local dry cleaner and for $35 she is shortening the arms and hem and nipping in the waist. So for $65 I got a $179 jacket that is perfect for the upcoming fall.
Sleeves that are too long, hems dragging on the ground, gaping waists and baggy jackets can all be easily fixed by a neighborhood tailor or dry cleaner. They can also replace missing buttons, broken zippers and some torn seams. If the price is right, often the tailoring still keeps the garment at a discounted price. I have bought suiting pants 75% off just because the zipper is broken, a suede blazer at 80% off because the lining had pulled away from the jacket body.
Do not invest in garments that are stained (salespeople usually try to remove the stains with a cleaning fluid, if it’s still stained it probably won’t come out in the wash or at the cleaners), torn (resewing a seam may make the item fit differently), irregular (remember quality is key – no one should be wearing a sweater with two different sleeve lengths) overly large (tailor costs will be insane and the true look of the garment will be lost) or too small (don’t buy for the body you hope to have, buy for the current you. Also tailors can’t make things larger – there’s usually not enough fabric at the seams and if they attempt the fit of the garment will be compromised).
If You Don’t Love It…
Don’t buy it. Would you buy it if it were full price? If the answer is a quick “no” leave the item in the fitting room. Just because an item is cheap does not mean you can scrimp on cut, style or fit. A 50% markdown does not justify a gaping armhole, an unflattering color or even a staple that you really have enough of already. The world sees you and your outfit, not the reduced price. They don’t know if what you bought cost $200 or $20, they just know it doesn’t look good, doesn’t flatter your body or your personality. Every dollar in your wallet is precious, don’t waste it on crap. If you can’t imagine the item with at least two other things in your closet, it’s not worth your time or money.
Last week it felt like summer, this week it has returned to typical DC March weather – windy and chilly. Glad I kept my sweaters in the closet!
Today I will be walking from my office to Georgetown to meet my sister for her follow-up MRI (proving she is tumor free!) so I wanted to wear comfortable shoes – these pumps are perfect for this – work-appropriate yet can handle a 20 minute walk in the city.
Same dress as yesterday, same hair, same makeup! the only change is that I am wearing my silver cuff bracelet and a silver and seagreen glass bead necklace from Target. I also tossed my black Naturalizer flats in my bag because I am joining my company’s Walking Club for 20 minute walks at lunch.
Hair is acting a bit different because I used the Dove conditioner for Darkened hair. Makes the hair very soft to the point of unmanageable. It was a free sample, heading to get my hair cut tonight and will probably buy some new shampoo and conditioner if my bank account will allow it…
Have you ever seen footage of Filene’s Running of the Brides? This was like that, but with less stripping of clothes in the center of the room and more black clothing.
I brought an XL LL Bean Boat and Tote overflowing with lots of great pieces – clothes from my now-defunct Shop My Closet as well as a few other pieces that no longer fit or no longer fit my personal style. While the Sip and Swap team organized all the donations, we attendees got to enjoy downtown Clarendon. Then we came back for the official beginning of the swap.
I was excited to meet many bloggers I have respected and read for a while, such as District of Chic, Megan Nielsen, Fasshonaburu, Cardigans & Couture, whippedSTYLE, and La Rue Neuve. I also got to catch up with DC blogger buddies like Heart Print and Style, So Much to Smile About, and MartaFacts. We sipped wine, chatted, caught up… and didn’t realize that there were some rabid swappers in attendance.
I love this video from Quarter Life, which shows what the swap was like when they opened the doors. Since I was wearing a blue maxi dress, it’s pretty easy to see me in the video (I am in the center left, and it takes me a while to come in because I wasn’t expecting Running of the Brides). There were rolling racks along the sides of the large room, tables separating jeans from blouses from skirts from trousers. The stage at the back of the room held jewelry, scarves, shoes, and other accessories.
By time I got into the room, it was packed with women who were throwing anything they could reach into their bags. Fabric was flying, a few were stripping down to bike shorts and sports bras to try pieces and throwing back into the crowd the pieces that didn’t work. It was crazy. I headed to the stage, figuring I would have a better chance finding good jewelry than clothing that would fit. I grabbed a mother of pearl bangle bracelet and a strand of pearls, turned around to apologize for bumping into someone, turned back and 90% of the jewelry was gone. I figure someone must have swept it all into a bag. I grabbed some bright purple beads, figuring I could take off the thread and repurpose, or give to Emerson as costume jewelry.
The crowd started thinning, I saw women with those giant blue IKEA bags overflowing, women crouched in corners hugging their scores. A woman walked by with two huge totes overflowing and a few items tucked under her arm. I guess I was looking with my mouth agape because she defended herself by saying, “What? I have three kids I need to dress.”
This was the swap in a nutshell. Many women who were there to donate, hope to get one or two good things, and mingle. And then there were those who were out for the kill, leaving no prisoners. I didn’t let it get me down, I went expecting to not find anything, so I ended up being pleasantly surprised. I met some awesome readers of Wardrobe Oxygen (so great to meet you, I love it when readers introduce themselves!), some awesome bloggers, and the fabulous women of The Swapaholics and Goodwill. And really, I didn’t go for the items, I went for the experience. And the experience taught me that I would definitely attend next time… but next time I’ll be sure to put down the wine glass and wear flat shoes!
What I got:
- A gold beaded frame clutch – when I got home I realized its actually a wallet, but I can fit my cell in it and it will still snap shut and not look ridiculous
- Navy twill pants from Ann Taylor in like-new condition, wide waistband, flat front, straight legs, very classic
- Dark denim sailor-inspired jeans from LOFT that will fit like a dream in five pounds
- A strand of 30” small ivory pearls that look really nice (quality costume)
- A slim gold bangle with mother of pearl panels
- The purple necklace (which Emerson sported this weekend)
- A pair of perfectly faded and distressed Levis 515s that do not fit and probably will never fit so I will be passing on to someone else
- A black LOFT jersey dress that must have been shrunken in the dryer because it hardly covers my rear (will be re-donated)
- A black jersey MICHAEL Michael Kors top that looked cute but wasn’t my style – I gave it to my mom who totally rocks it
Have you ever been to a swap? What did you think?
One thing bloggers get flack for is wearing too many c/o (courtesy of) items. How can a reader tell your true personal style or find you inspiring when you have a completely gifted outfit? I guess it depends on the blogger, but over the years I have learned to not accept every free thing that is offered to me. It does water down your personal style, it makes you seem less credible… and between you and me it is a pain to them take these gifted items that aren’t really your style and try to style them in a good way for the blog. I have had mornings when I have cried over not knowing how to make a garment or accessory look decent, and I feel guilty to my readers and to the brand that was kind enough to send it my way.
I don’t feel guilty wearing gifted items. One, it’s a lovely perk for working hard on this blog, but two it’s such a great chance to showcase lesser-known amazing brands. I for one may never have known about Dobbin Clothing if they hadn’t contacted me and sent me a dress. Dobbin Clothing has now become such a fave of mine – high quality garments made with fine fabrics from European mills but created here in the US of A. They pride themselves in making tasteful stylish workhorses for your wardrobe. The women behind Dobbin Clothing are just as lovely as their creations too!
So yeah, there’s a lot of c/o above… but every c/o up there is one you have likely seen before or will likely see many times again because I love the pieces and I find they fit my personal style. Each piece above I would purchase with my own money if I was able. I think with blogs, it’s less about how one gets a garment or accessory and more about how they style it and whether it fits their style and message.
UPDATE: Like this dress? This is the “Nora” by Dobbin Clothing, and they are offering all Wardrobe Oxygen readers 20% off it, in black or red. Use the code WARDOX20 at checkout to get 20% off the Nora Dress in black or red. No expiration date, but this code cannot be used in conjunction with the first-time buyer code.
Two years ago, I tried out eShakti and didn’t have the most perfect of experiences. So when they contacted me last month asking me to try the line again but do a custom fit dress, I was excited. Many of you said the fit of the dress was bad because it was a straight size, so the idea of a custom dress appealed to me. At home, I had my husband measure me and entered it all into the eShakti site. Less than two weeks later, the dress arrived. And yes, the fit is MUCH better. No bra showing under the arms, the waist is at the right place for my petite figure, plenty of room for my bust and no chance of a strap slipping throughout the day. However, I just don’t think the dress is very flattering on me; my husband said I looked like a milkmaid or a beer wench. The fabric is very stiff and the entire dress including the bodice sticks out from my body making the dress look more like a costume. I think such a fabric may work better on a taller person who can better balance the volume. The dress doesn’t seem to be on the site any more, it has a square neckline in front, a v-neckline in back, a size zipper (though I didn’t need it to get it on), and pockets. The black are ribbon stripes sewn onto the navy dress; there is one of these ribbons defining the waist which is sits just above my belly button.
While today is springlike in DC, there’s still a chill in the air. I tried a traditional cardigan and it looked a bit too twee on me; this wrap cardigan not only make the ensemble fit better with my personal style, but also cinched in the dress. I have to say, this dress will be pretty awesome in the hot humid months of summer but I’ll have to do some tinkering with it so it is a bit more flattering. The fit issue could be my fault – maybe the measurements weren’t accurate, and maybe I chose the wrong style dress. Have you used eShakti? What have you thought of the experience?
Looking at how often I write and tweet about coffee, you’d think I was a coffee connoisseur. Notsomuch. When I hit my local coffee shop I ask for it plain and big because all the –inos overwhelm me. At home, Karl is the master of the coffee domain. I have no idea how to use the French press so I rely on him to fuel my caffeine fix. Lately I have been working more early mornings and I have to stop by the local coffee shop or fast food drive-through to get my cup of Joe because I just can’t figure out how to make a decent cup of coffee. You know what would be a perfect holiday gift for me? A super simple single-serve coffee maker that would make a great cup of coffee every time.
Enter TASSIMO™, who was awesome enough to send me the TASSIMO™ T55 Single Cup Brewing System JUST at the perfect time. I was working a lot of long days and hated spending so much on take-out coffee or watching Karl make me a cup still bleary-eyed in dawn’s early light. No needing to wait until the holidays to become a coffee-making expert!
The TASSIMO™ Brewer is super easy to use too. Add water to the reservoir in back, insert your TASSIMO™ T DISC in the top, and press start. The built-in technology INTELLIBREW™ scans the barcode on each T DISC to identify precise brewing instructions with the exact temperature, water, and time duration, so each and every drink is perfect every time. This Home Brewing System isn’t just for a cup of joe–the TASSIMO™ can also make cappuccinos, lattes, hot chocolate, tea, and more. One of my favorite features is how quickly it heats water; for little energy you can have a piping-hot cup of water for soup or tea in seconds.
TASSIMO™ sent me a few T DISCS to get started, and it’s fun to make hot chocolate, cappuccinos, caramel latte macchiatos, or espressos by myself and know it will be delicious. With well-known brands like Twinings, Gevalia, and Maxwell House partnering with TASSIMO™ for their T DISCS you know the quality and the flavor is great. I love that there are great limited edition flavors like Peppermint Hot Chocolate and Peppermint Mocha for the holidays!
If you’d like to unlock a perfect cup with TASSIMO™ this holiday season, they are offering some great deals on their site. With Cyber Monday code TACYMON3 you can get 20% off T DISCS; you also get 20% off Brewers and with each Brewer purchase, you will receive two free packages of T DISCS (valid in the US only on TassimoDirect.com. Cannot be combined with other offers . Limit one coupon redemption per customer. 20% T DISC discount limited to 6 T DISC packages. 20% Brewer discount limited to two Brewers. Offer only valid on 12/2/2013 until 11:59PM PST).
If you miss the Cyber Monday Deal, brewers and T DISCS are also available at Bed Bath & Beyond and Amazon.
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