Search Results for: label/Project 333

Ask Allie: Styling A Red Sheath Dress for All Seasons

I recently purchased this Tahari red ponte long sleeve sheath and it fits like a glove. I am trying to incorporate more Project 333 rules into my wardrobe collection and I’d like to make use of it in every season (maybe not dead of summer). Could you offer some styling tips for every season on this classic yet bold piece?

This is a gorgeous dress – a versatile piece with a touch of something unique to keep it from being too basic or boring (reminds me a bit of my black Dobbin clothing dress!). And red is a great color because it works so well with different colors and with a switch of accessories can dress up or down quite well. Since the dress has long sleeves, I doubt it will be comfortable in the middle of August, but below I have created six looks with the red ponte sheath dress: three for cooler weather, and three for warmer weather.  Please know this advice would work for a dress of most any color, and with different necklines and sleeve lengths.

how to style a sheath dress

This group is warmer weather looks. Push up the sleeves for a bracelet length which will help you transition better into late spring or early fall, but also lighten up on accessories to balance out the heavier knit and color of the dress.

The first look is a classic – nude pumps are the perfect way to transition a fall or winter dress into warmer months. Continue the light classic feel with pearls; choosing a cluster necklace will give a more modern look than a classic strand of pearls and add more lightness to the top of the dress. A simple cuff and gold watch add shine but aren’t too over the top.

A great way to transition a jewel tone or primary bright into spring is to colorblock. Red with black feels wintry; red with pink or orange or turquoise feels fun and fresh. This dress has a seam waist which makes it perfect for switching up the silhouette with a skinny belt. I chose hot pink, but you could switch this out with aqua, coral, lilac, or French blue. The same holds true for the shoes – I picked orange because I’m an orange fan, but you could switch out for most any color or even a print that incorporates red or even just the color of the belt. With such a strong color mix, keep the accessories clean. A bracelet is all you need – I chose an enamel bracelet to continue the color combo but it could also be something smaller, simpler, and in just gold or silver.

Adding an oblong scarf changes the whole look of a simple dress and is quite versatile. Loop once around the throat and let the ends hang down your torso, tie the ends together to create an infinity scarf, or double loop and tie at the throat. While I paired this with camel shoes and wood beads, you could also pair with tall brown boots, brown croco or snakeskin pumps, or a brown heeled sandal.

how to style a sheath dress

This group is cooler weather looks and shows how the switch of accessories can provide a completely different effect for a different season.

The first look is a classic; come winter so many of us live in opaque black tights. I paired with a high heeled bootie, but you could easily switch out for a lower heel, a Chelsea boot, or a knee-high boot with a sleek silhouette. I chose a primarily black necklace to balance the dark black bottom half, but you could switch out for a chunky gold or silver necklace or a scarf.

I love red with leopard and this is a great way to style a red dress with leopard shoes. I chose a low block heel, but you could switch out for classic pumps or even ankle booties. Again, I added a skinny belt to switch up the silhouette; the addition of black also makes the look more wintry even though the legs are bare. This look could be switched with black shoes and a leopard belt. A tortoiseshell necklace complements the leopard without looking too matchy-matchy; you could switch out with gold or even go without a necklace.

A square scarf can also look great with a dress of this style. Tie “cowboy style” and have it drape in front or fold on the diagonal and tie at the throat. With a warm toned scarf, a pair of brown or cognac boots look great with the bright red. A bit of gold at the wrist ties the look together.

how to style a sheath dress

Adding a layer is a great way to change the look of a dress, and is also a way to stay extra warm in winter. A ponte dress has stretch and isn’t too bulky, making it possible to slip under sweaters and jackets.

Dress down your sheath dress by wearing a longer v-neck cardigan over it. Cinch with a skinny belt to highlight the waist. While I choose classic gray and black, most any color would work (and a leopard belt would be a fun touch). I styled with ankle boots, but this look could work with tall boots, pumps, and anything from a kitten heel to stilettos.

A blazer with some stretch works well with ponte; if you find a ponte jacket in the same material all the better! Again, I chose a basic color but you can switch out for another neutral or your favorite hue. A pair of tall boots complete the look for a chic winter office outfit.

I have a collarless jacket like this and love how it looks over a sheath, either as lightweight outerwear or to create an atypical suit. Classic pumps keeps the look elegant and streamlined.

#ShareAMeal and Help End Child Hunger

This past month I co-led the first meeting of our town’s new Girl Scout Daisies troop. While I may be busy with the blog and work, I feel it’s important to dedicate time to my daughter and other girls in our town and help them become caring, responsible members of the community. I remember my years as a Girl Scout – while it was a ton of fun, it also opened my eyes to all the different lives that girls my age lived. It’s never too early to educate children on show kids how they can help others and make a positive impact on their community and this world as a whole.

1 in 5 kids in america don't know where their next meal is coming from

Sixteen million children in the United States don’t get enough food. That’s enough children to fill 18,000 school buses and 223 football stadiums – and often you’d never be able to tell it by looking at them. These children could be in your town and maybe even in your neighborhood. Hunger can take its toll on everything, from their immune system, oral health and academic and social development. I don’t think it’s too early to educate Emerson and her fellow Daisies on the fact that she has classmates, neighbors, and even fellow Daisies who may sometimes go to bed hungry. And it’s not too early to teach them how they can help.

37 US states reported more than 20 percent children in food insecure households

When SheKnows and Uniliver informed me of Project Sunlight, I asked to be part of their campaign so I could share it on my blog. Launched in November of 2013, Project Sunlight is an initiative from Unilever that is focused on encouraging people to create a brighter future for children – by taking small steps to live sustainably, use less and share even more. Unilever Project Sunlight believes a future is possible where every child has a healthy and happy childhood and it was natural for this mission to extend to another important cause – child hunger in America. Unilever Project Sunlight believes that even the smallest act – whether it’s sharing a meal, donating time or money, or volunteering – can make a difference when multiplied over time and help build a brighter future for children.

22 million children in the US rely on food stamps as their primary resource to acquire food

Unilever has partnered with Feeding America, which serves more than 12 million children every year. By teaming up with organizations like this, Unilever is better able to help in the effort to improve the health and well-being of families and children in need across the country. With the help of Feeding America’s vast network of 200 food banks nationwide, Unilever has been able to contribute nearly 30 million meals to families and children over the past five years.

enable Javascript to watch this video

Mahatma Gandhi was quoted with saying, “Be the change you wish to see in the world” and it’s a great way to see your value in this life. You CAN make a difference, your decision to be that change WILL create the change in the world. And when it comes to childhood hunger, you CAN be a positive change for this world, and quite easily. For some ideas on how to help, I encourage you to click this link to view or download an incredibly useful toolkit from Unilevel Project Sunlight that provides a ton of ways to be involved in a manner that fits your life, your budget, your comfort level. From facts on child hunger to links to #ShareAMeal, this PDF can help you turn the tables on child hunger. We will be using this resource as a family and as a troop to be the change we wish to see in the world and do our part to end child hunger. And I’d love you to make the comments of this post an additional resource – share ways you have helped end hunger in your community, your experiences with food insecurity, ways people can make the change they wish to see in this world regarding child hunger.

About SheKnows’ Hatch, the Hatch Hunger Project and Unilever Project Sunlight:
SheKnows’ Hatch teamed with Unilever Project Sunlight to help families build awareness and take action around child hunger in America. The facts are startling: 16 million kids living in the United States don’t know where their next meal is coming from. That equates to one in every five children – enough to fill 18,000 school buses and 223 football stadiums. On average, those who live in food-insecure households have only $36.50 to spend on groceries every week. That means that 80 percent of children may not understand the everyday struggle their peers – many of whom could be their own friends or neighbors – confront when there’s not enough food on the table. The Hatch Hunger and Project Sunlight video and workshop aims to create empathy by showing kids what it means to shop for healthy, filling meals for an entire week on a thrifty budget. It teaches important math and teamwork skills. Finally, it is about action, empowering kids to have a positive impact on their community to Share A Meal with a family in need and donating food and canned goods to local food banks.

Ready to Wear Beauty with MaryKay® and Project Runway®

I’ve been a fan of Project Runway® since the very first season. I love the creativity that takes place under pressure, the judges input, and who doesn’t adore Tim Gunn? One of the coolest parts of each Project Runway challenge is how in just a short span of time the beauty teams are able to take the contestants’ visions and make them a reality. Mary Kay® is the Official Beauty Sponsor of Project Runway® Season 13 and it’s cool to see an accessible brand known for everyday beauty create such creative, intense, and high fashion looks. MaryKay® asked if I’d like to experience their makeup collection, and with MaryKay Global Makeup Artist Luis Casco’s direction and recreate some looks from Season 13 of Project Runway®.

marykay project runway emerald smoke

The “Emerald Smoke” face: click the image to view the instructions to create and shop this look.

I first tried Casco’s “Emerald Smoke” look, a bold face that is perfect for the upcoming fall season. I loved how this look is totally out of my comfort range, and loved how the colors could work on a variety of skintones. I’ll be honest, I’m clueless when it comes to makeup, especially eye color application so it was great to have on the MaryKay® site instructions from Luis Casco and videos showing how to achieve this season’s bold eye looks. I’ve always wondered how people achieve a really intense color that blends nicely; with Casco’s instruction I learned a cream shadow base will help colors pop on the eyelid. I’ve used MaryKay® before, but this experience has me loving a few new products. Their Cream Eye Color is a great consistency that blended well, didn’t crease, and was long-lasting. Meadow Grass gave a subtle hint of color on my lids that made my brown eyes stand out and would be wearable for any day, but when I applied MaryKay® Mineral Eye Color in Emerald over it I suddenly had bold intense jewel-like lids. Per Casco’s instruction, I then added their Mineral Eye Color in Lime in the inner thirds of the eyes and it really did brighten the whole look. I’ve tried MaryKay® LashLove Mascara before and am always a fan. It lengthens, separates, and doesn’t bother my contacts-wearing eyes. One coat is perfect for day, but a couple coats gives the drama needed for the “Emerald Smoke” face. MaryKay Project Runway When I received the products to create “Emerald Smoke” the lipcolor and blush scared me; even in the middle of summer I have fair skin and felt that the deep plum shades would look clownish on me. I applied their Cream Blush in Cranberry and while it looked extremely dark on my skin, when I blended it I found it looked quite pretty – more dramatic than my normal blush, but perfect with such a bold eye. The True Dimensions® Lipstick in Mystic Plum and Lip Liner in Cappuccino is an intense look, but again it balanced the bold emerald eye and I could see myself wearing this lipstick come fall with a more subtle rest of the face. I like the creamy formula and how it made my lips look more hydrated and plump.

graphic eye

The “Graphic Eye” face: click the image to view the instructions to create and shop this look.

The second look was titled, “Graphic Eye” and this was a look I have always loved on others (and think I recall from Project Runway) but never thought I could carry off myself. Thanks to Luis Casco’s instructions, I was able to try it out. The Mary Kay At Play™ Bold Fluid Eyeliner in Blue My Mind is a gorgeous color and made quite an impact without looking too crazy. I was impressed by the quality of the MaryKay® brushes; their Eye Crease Brush makes a big difference with shadow application and gave a natural contour to the upper lid while being perfect for a touch of color below the eye. Mary Kay® Ultimate Mascara™ in Black is another winning mascara (though it can’t compete with my beloved LashLove), and I have been using Mary Kay® NouriShine Plus® Lip Gloss for over a year in various colors and found Au Naturel to be just as lovely and a great topcoat for lipsticks and stains. “Graphic Eye” is actually a pretty wearable look, and the bold blue could easily be replaced by a different color or just be a classic black cat eye. Having such instruction available makes runway beauty more of a reality for us beauty-application newbies! While these aren’t everyday looks, it was fun to recreate looks from my favorite television show and have a bit of the MaryKay® and Project Runway® beauty experience in my own home! If you’d like to experience the same, I have just the giveaway for you! Which of these looks would you most like to try? Leave an answer in the comments below for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card and a collection of Mary Kay® products to create one of the looks featured + some beauty essentials.

You can visit Mary Kay® on Project RunwayFacebookYoutube, and of course, their website for more ideas and information! 

Sweepstakes Rules:  No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
1.  Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
2.  Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
3.  Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
4.  For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

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. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 9/4/2014-10/7/2014. Be sure to visit the Mary Kay brand page on where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

Shopping with Intention and Changing Shopping Habits with #Project333

Reader (and friend after all these years) Linda made me aware of the blog, Project 333. Project 333 is a minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for three months. Linda has been really interested in minimalism, and recently I have been as well. Linda asked me to think about what 33 pieces from my wardrobe I would save from a fire.

As the next three months are spring/summer, I had to get into the warmer weather state of mind. I went through my outfit posts from last summer and thought about what was currently in my wardrobe. I wanted to consider work of course, but also casual weekends and the occasional date night, concert, wedding, or other social occasion. What I came up with:

Gray leather hobo purse (Banana Republic) | Black leather clutch (HOBO Bags) | Black Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses | Vintage brown leather belt | Black leather and stretch wide belt (Lauren Ralph Lauren) | Black pumps (MICHAEL Michael Kors) | Tan sandals (Softspots) | Orange heeled sandals (Naturalizer) | Black flip flops (Reef) | Black silky slouchy tee (Leith) | Black and white striped shirt (Armour lux) | Printed V-neck tee (OBEY) | White ribbed tank (Caslon) | Chambray shirt (Target) | Gray V-neck tee (Old Navy) | Orange Ikat-print cotton sheath (Maggy London) | Black twill skirt (Limited) | Gold and white floral cotton skirt (Talbots) | Black blazer (Limited) | Orange matte jersey drapey camisole (Ann Taylor) | Black ponte dress (Felicity + Coco) | Pink jersey maxi dress (Gap) | Black cardigan (Only Mine) | Black trousers (Tahari) | Boyfriend jeans (Gap) | Black and white striped tank (Ann Taylor) | White jeans (Kut from the Kloth) | Distressed denim shorts (Target) | Silk Scarf (Liberty) | Cadet blue zebra-print long scarf (Nepali by TDM) | Silver cuff | Silver chain with personal charms | Statement necklace (Etsy)

Trying to use images available in Polyvore, this is only a representation of my actual items (for example the floral dress represents my orange Ikat-print dress). I have linked to the actual pieces when they have been featured on my blog or Instagram (the zebra scarf to the site, the pink dress to an image I found online). However I think this collage gives the right effect.

When thinking what to keep, the most important thing was to have appropriate attire for work. I am lucky to work in a relaxed business casual office, where jeans are acceptable on Fridays and colored denim can make a pass during the week if it’s crisp, saturated color, and dressed up like pants. With this collection, I was able to create 40 different work ensembles for a possible 60 days in the office during a Project 333 period of time.  (I know the actual project suggests swapping only three items at the end of the period of time, I am just trying it in this manner for now.)

What this exercise really did was make me realize how woefully inadequate my current wardrobe is. My body has changed, but I have also had a transition in my personal style. With the warming temperatures, I am finding my closet more and more frustrating, the pieces I currently own so mismatched. I’m trying to buy less, and just filling holes, but it feels as though there’s more holes than current wardrobe. This made me realize that instead of filling holes, I maybe need to start from scratch in some ways. Not buy what works, but what is right. Knowing that the whole season will only be 33 pieces (including shoes and accessories – even sunglasses!) is a relief. When you see it’s only 33 pieces, you don’t feel as much as though you’re going to go bankrupt to dress for a season. I looked at this collection above and felt I could really live with these pieces, and only needed a few minor changes to make it perfect.

Will I be taking part in Project 333? No, at least not now. My blog is my part-time career. I have made my outfit posts a way to offer inspiration and creative ideas for fellow women who may have similar figures or lifestyles. I also use the posts as a way to feature brands I like or have just learned about. However, Project 333 really forced me to look at what I buy and why I buy it; it has also transformed how I plan to shop and dress myself this year. You can expect to see a change in future purchases (as well as more items I will likely be selling on eBay – follow me on Facebook for updates when I am having sales).

The horrible tragedy in Bangladesh really got me thinking about what I buy. One can’t just blame H&M or Forever 21 for such situations, bargain basement to high end designer lines ship their manufacturing and/or fabric weaving to other countries where it can be done for far less. We expect to get more for less and to accommodate, retailers sometimes do shifty things to still make a good profit. Be it purchasing used, or purchasing darn near perfection to reduce how often I spend, I’m trying to make a difference. Project333 really forces one to shop with thought, with a plan, with intention. Imagine if we all shopped with intention instead of in desperation, purchasing good enough, using shopping as therapy or entertainment.  Imagine our wardrobes, they would be full of quality, well-fitting pieces, signature items, pieces that both flatter and inspire.

This won’t be my only post on this topic, I plan to think about what I wish was in my closet for the 333 Project, and how I plan on taking the lessons learned from this with me as I do shop, and how it will affect my fall/winter wardrobe.

What do you think of Project 333? How does it make it look at your current wardrobe and your shopping habits?

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

If I could Start Over: #Project333 Inspiration Update

With my first Project 333 post it got me thinking about what I should have in my closet versus what is currently in there. I love using Polyvore to feel out an idea or capsule wardrobe – seeing the pieces together sans models or distracting backgrounds helps me imagine mixing and matching and seeing them on my body instead of another’s. After making the set of my current wardrobe choices if I did do Project 333, I made this set of what would be better choices:

You can see it’s not drastically different. Still have the white jeans, the black pants, the boyfriend jeans, the silky slouchy tee and of course an Old Navy Vintage v-neck tee. But I realized I needed what I had, but slightly different. Let’s take the striped top for example. I have a TON of striped shirts, but none are quite right for the summer. I have short sleeved, but it’s a boatneck, or it’s a scoop but the stripes are too small, or it’s sleeveless, or has too long of sleeves for the warmer months. Or black skirts – I have one in taffeta, or a pencil that’s a bit too tight and short for versatility. My black ponte dress is cute, but a bit too low-cut to work at the office without a scarf or jacket.

I saw the need for more versatile tops.  I like having a drapey silky sexy top to wear with white jeans for a Date Night or concert, but my current one can’t be worn really anywhere but there.  Something like the gray silk top in the collage above could be worn to work tempered with black pants and a scarf, or under a blazer.  I also realized how many times I wish I had a long gold statement pendant – something unique but no color so it can dress up or down and be a classic.  I recommend them constantly but I don’t currently own flat gold sandals and need to replace them.

As I mentioned in my Summer SAHM wardrobe post I find printed dresses to be better for summer than solids, and I don’t have many that are prints right now because I haven’t found many I like. I realize the reason may because I am shopping by pricepoint more than actual style. The older I get the more I am realizing that sometimes you need to spend more on an item to get what you actually want, and in the long run you spend less because you stop buying “almost not quites”.

I just don’t want to shop like I used to. I could spend an hour scrolling through online shops for entertainment, for boredom. I’d look for something that would fit and flatter, but also look cool on the blog. Brighter colors, unexpected silhouettes, a statement accessory. While I love you folks, it’s pretty silly to shop for the blog and not for life.

So this potential wardrobe is very very similar to the last one, but a bit harder working, versatile, and polished. It’s inspiring me for this season to be more thoughtful with my shopping, be it quality, quantity, where it was made. Knowing I’m buying less means it’s easier to stomach a higher pricetag.

Next step is gutting my closet.  Last week  I went into the back of my closet to get my black matte jersey maxi dress to wear to a wedding and I learned two things: the matte jersey maxi dress looks dreadful on me now (had it altered to fit the year Emerson was born and well, the breasts and shoulders are very different now), and I forgot about a black drapey handkerchief hem dress I got on clearance at Ann Taylor last fall. While I was thrilled to find the dress (and wore it instead to the wedding and loved how it looked), I was horrified to have items in my closet I didn’t know about. Come on Alison, you know better and that’s what you constantly preach! So a closet gutting is in order, knowing there will be huge holes and lots of empty space and possibly a panic attack about how few pieces I have for summer. But I think with closets less is more, fewer pieces means less drama in the mornings and fewer opportunities to make things work or buy things I don’t need to make the “almost not quites” work.

As for the Polyvore set, it has transformed my shopping list and is a visual reminder of how my wardrobe SHOULD and CAN look I look forward to seeing how this exercise progresses…

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Attention Washington DC Area Women…

For this month, bring your gently used career wear to any nearby Zips Dry Cleaning location, and they will donate it to Suited to Succeed, a non-profit that assists women in transition from training programs and unemployment to self-sufficiency by providing free professional clothing and workshops. We all have some random suits and dresses in our closet that we hang on to but don’t really need or wear; why not simplify your closet and help a fellow woman in the process? Goes pretty well with the recent closet-gutting project!

My Favorite Necklace

The cool wood necklace I snagged from my mom, brown merino bracelet sleeved v-neck sweater from The Gap, French vanilla colored cuffed trousers from Ann Taylor, Brown snakeskin pumps, six skinny gold bangles from Target.

Makeup is Bare Escentuals, bronzer on cheeks, fawn shadow, the brown powder for my brows used as a shadow – crease and along lash line. Origins bronze tinted balm, mascara.

Not too exciting, I slept through my alarm from staying up all night watching Project Runway.

Take Charge of Your Closet: Less Shopping, More Style

Wardrobe Oxygen: Journaling your way to personal style

I bought these two skirts (link and link) from LOFT, and I love them, but I cannot figure out how to style them! Nothing I have seems to look right. (I could use a wardrobe overall to begin with. I feel like I have tons of stuff, and spend too much on clothes all the time, but most doesn’t work unless I get something else to go with it, so I end up wearing the same things over and over anyway.) I think these skirts would look better with some kind of tucked-in shirt, but then it emphasizes the belly, which I don’t want to do. And I’m not sure what shoes to wear with them either. I was attending my daughter’s sports banquet last night, and I pulled out half my closet and ended up wearing something else I’ve worn a hundred times. I need an intervention.

Girl, I’m hosting a closet intervention for you. If you still have the tags on those skirts RETURN THEM. You had an opportunity to wear them and you didn’t. That is a BIG sign – you don’t NEED them. I get it, both of those skirts are super cute and I can see your thought process – they’re funky and cool yet have a classic fit, they’re not too boring but not too crazy, they’ll be so versatile!

When I saw your email I thought, sure, I can style these a ton of ways to de-emphasize the belly, to be appropriate for fall, for winter, for spring. But will that benefit you? I’ll likely style them with things you don’t already own, which will encourage you to purchase more items, which very well may not go with anything else but that skirt.

The most important part of the email I read was, “…wearing something else I’ve worn a hundred times.” There’s nothing wrong with wearing the same thing over and over. I wear this black dress all the TIME, at least twice a month for years and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, there’s something quite chic about having pieces that are so great you keep reaching for them time and time again.

However, if you’re reaching for things that don’t fit, you don’t like, or don’t make you feel good you need to make a change. But skirts like this aren’t going to do it.

I mentioned in a recent post how I journaled about my wardrobe, and I found it extremely helpful in determining what I REALLY needed for the season. It could be a good exercise for you to know where to go with your current wardrobe.

Take Charge of your Closet: How to find personal style, buy less, and love what you wear by Wardrobe OxygenTake Charge of Your Closet: A Journaling Exercise

Take one page and write down everything in your wardrobe right now that you love. Things that work well for you and your life and make you feel good. This may be one or two items, or you may have to write sideways in the margins to fit it all. There’s no wrong way to have this page look so be honest.

Next page, list all the almost right items. The wrap dress that looks great but doesn’t have enough fabric in front. The jeans that fit awesome but have a weird color that goes with nothing. The suit that you need and wear all the time but you don’t love the cut of the jacket. The black sheath dress that is looking a little worn from the dozen wears each year for the past five years. The black pumps that are too high of a heel but otherwise awesome.

Don’t think about what you wish you could afford, wish you could fit, wish you had the lifestyle to wear. That has nothing to do with this exercise, nor achieving personal style. No dress, no skirt, no garment of any type will change your life or who you are on the inside. This goal is to get to the point of having a successful closet- items you wear, you like, and work for your lifestyle. Your closet needs and final product will look completely different from anyone else.

So you have these two pages with items written on them. Look at them, and see themes.

For me, on the first page I saw the theme of printed maxi dresses, straight cut jeans that worked with flatter shoes, and blazers. These items work for my lifestyle – a long printed dress is great for blogging events, nights out, concerts, and parties. I like that the focus is on the print, not my figure, and I can wear comfortable shoes underneath. Blazers work for the office, weekends, and nights out and dress up my beloved band tee shirts. I have boyfriend, girlfriend, bootcut, jegging but I always reach for the same Gap Real Straights and wear them rolled, unrolled, with pumps and with sneakers. These items work with my figure, my lifestyle, my personal style, and this list shows I already own enough of these items.

The second page is even more telling. This page may share items that need to be replaced because of wear or body changes, it will also show the disconnect between who you are and who you think you are. For me, it helped me admit I am not the same size I was a couple years ago, and I need to replace some items that if they fit, would fill holes in my wardrobe. But it also showed me that I am not being honest with myself. I keep buying leather jackets but I never wear them; they’re too stiff, too hot to replace a blazer, too fussy, and often make me look like a linebacker. I buy statement pumps – red leopard, peacock print, black and white dotted calfhair… and I never wear them. Outside of my silver pumps, I usually find black or nude works best. I had far too many work dresses – while I had many I loved and had on the first page, the second page was full of dresses that are too tight, too big, the neckline not flattering, the sleeves the wrong length, the color hard to carry off. And finally, there was a regular at Studio 54 living in the back of my closet. Or at least you would think so based on the amount of sequins, glitter, and faux fur I had in residence.

From these two pages, you can get a clearer and literally more black and white description of your closet. You can see trends, you have declared what you love and left off that which you don’t. You’ve admitted your shopping mistakes, and have an exact list of items that need to be repaired or replaced. And you also have a starting point for building a successful closet.

Step One:

Your first step? Get rid of the things that didn’t make the grade on either sheet of paper. If you didn’t think of it during this exercise, it’s because it’s not important. Remember, no one’s keeping track of how many pairs of jeans you own, no one cares if you wear the same black pants to work twice in one week, and even though those heels are utterly drool-worthy, they’re not benefitting anyone collecting dust on your closet shelf. The less in your closet, the more you can think and style outfits.

Step Two:

Next, look at that second page and see what can be repaired or modified. Instead of buying more, spend some time on Yelp or community Facebook groups and find a seamstress or tailor who can shorten those jeans a half inch, nip that blazer in a hair and shorten the sleeves, sew those hip pockets closed, and repair the zipper on that dress. Why replace when you have something almost perfect already in your closet? Along with this, it doesn’t take much skill to replace buttons. I do this quite often, switching out gold for the same color as the blazer, upgrading a cardigan with pave balls, or switching out basic horn for something that makes more of a statement.

Step Three:

Now that you have made the most of your current wardrobe and worn it, it’s time to be honest and recognize the holes in your closet. For me, I saw a clear need for a black crewneck sweater that worked tucked in or left out. I had a stretch merino one from Banana Republic I wore and loved for almost a decade, but it was looking worse for wear and was a bit too snug for my comfort. I also saw the need for a statement pencil skirt. While I had my Ankara midi and maxis and my yellow wool a-line, I wanted something that had texture, drew attention, and had a slim silhouette to work with jackets, sweaters, or tee shirts. I also saw that I had just too many striped shirts, but not enough non-striped casual items for weekends.

From all this, you have a proper shopping list. And you have a current wardrobe that works well enough for now that you can shop slowly and with care. Seriously, it’s okay to keep wearing the same thing over and over. I bet you’re already doing it now, but don’t realize it because you start each morning with a full closet you flip through. I say this as I am wearing the same exact boots and dress today, a Tuesday, that I wore just this past Thursday and will likely again wear next week. Style comes from quality, not quantity.

Step Four:

Before you throw everything into a bag and send it off for donation, see if there’s any way to benefit from these items. Do any still have tags still on them? If you purchased online and the store has a lenient return policy, you can score a mailing label (or pay for shipping) and print out your order confirmation and still return the piece. Some stores will take items past the return time for store credit. And I am having a ton of success selling on Poshmark (check me out, I’m wardrobeoxygen and you’ll find all the things that didn’t pass muster from this journaling project – use code PMZYS for $5 off your first order).

We live in a time of excess, where bloggers convert whole rooms of their homes into walk-in closets to accommodate their extensive collection of clothing and accessories. There’s no need for so many clothes. Style doesn’t come from what you have but how you wear it. It’s not wearing the same thing over and over, it’s creating signature style. It’s not having an empty closet, it’s a curated capsule wardrobe.

There’s a definite rush with the purchase of a new garment – the feeling of promise, a new start, a new style. But this rush is temporary, and often poses more problems and frustration along the way. Purchasing more than we need not only hits the pocketbook, but also the psyche. Closet orphans, the need to adopt new trends, keeping up with the Jennifers, having a collection of clothing for a life or body different from your own, and the guilt and depression of having to resort to something you’ve worn a hundred times… your life is too precious to waste time and heart over such things. Having a curated and successful wardrobe isn’t quick, but the process to get there is liberating. Now go find your receipt and return those skirts!

Business Blue

Blouse: Ann Taylor | Pants: Tahari | Shoes: MICHAEL Michael Kors “Flex” | Necklace: Etsy | Watch: Citizen | Bracelets: Had forever, Nordstrom, JewelMint | Bag: Brahmin (similar)

Some days I just want to look a bit more corporate, be it for a client meeting or just to steel myself for a difficult project. While this blouse looks very office-worthy, it has a nice shirttail hem so it will look nice untucked with white jeans, or even belted with a skinny belt. I also like it with its sleeves rolled for a more casual effect. While I liked the slouchiness of a Regular, I went with a Petite Large to have the neckline more office-friendly and the sleeves a proper length.  And gosh, how can I resist an outfit that encourages use of my Brahmin??

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Thursday: Keefing Up With Appearances

Jacket: Ann Taylor (similar) | Tee: eBay (DIY cut neck) | Pants: LOFT (similar) | Boots: DUO (similar) | silver cuff and necklace | Bag: Steven by Steve Madden | Lipstick: Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Romantic

Today is a tough day at work – big project today that has been causing me and many of my coworkers some stress. Will all turn out well, but we’ll all be super excited when it’s over. And speaking of which, this evening my friend Nicole and I are going to see Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at the 9:30 Club. I think this is my fifth or sixth time seeing her, and I know it will be a fun time. Just what I need after a hectic day, some girl time with Nicole (and Grace!), a couple cocktails, and some strength from Keef!

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

Friday – Saturated Stripes

Dress – Calvin Klein (similar)
Booties – Miss Sixty (similar)
Bag – Sabina (similar)
SunglassesMarc by Marc Jacobs

Yesterday I was at work very late, and this morning I got started on a project very early. Such a schedule means a dress – simple way to look polished with very little effort! I know I wore this same exact outfit recently, but it’s easy (and love that this dress went in the washer and dryer and ended up looking this great!).

What are your weekend plans? Tomorrow night my husband and I are going to have a Date Night – my mom is watching Emerson, we’re heading into the city for dinner and then to see Band of Skulls at the 9:30 Club. Can’t wait!

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

Sick Day

I stayed up all night coughing a layer off my lungs. Good times.

Today my husband went for a hike with his best friend, and I am trying to purify the home. Laundry, change the sheets, sterilize the bathroom, a quick run of the vacuum (after watching Project Runway, of course!).

White terry robe from Land’s End. The BEST bathrobe ever! So sturdy and warm and cozy (be warned – they run large). Under it is a black ROOR tee-shirt belonginf to my husband. On the bottom is a pair of my husband’s boxers from Banana Republic. On my feet are these hideous ankle socks my mom bought me for the 4th of July – red and white stripes with a blue square of stars on the top of the foot.

Blogging Love – Interview!

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

You can check out the interview here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What I Wore: Favorites

Wardrobe Oxygen wearing a J. Crew Factory denim jacket and leopard skirt and Nine West silver pumps Wardrobe Oxygen wearing a J. Crew Factory denim jacket and leopard skirt and Nine West silver pumps Wardrobe Oxygen wearing a J. Crew Factory denim jacket and leopard skirt and Nine West silver pumps Wardrobe Oxygen wearing a J. Crew Factory denim jacket and leopard skirt and Nine West silver pumps Wardrobe Oxygen wearing a J. Crew Factory denim jacket and leopard skirt and Nine West silver pumpsJacket: J. Crew Factory (XL) | Tee: Etsy (L) | Skirt: J. Crew Factory (14) | Bag: HOBO (similar) | Bracelet: Had forever (similar) | Earrings: Amazon | Shoes: Nine West

This fall I did a journaling project where I wrote on one page all the things in my wardrobe that I truly love.  Items I’d grab in a fire, that I’d keep even if I won the lottery and could replace my entire closet.  This was a great project because it really made it clear the type of things I like (printed maxi dresses, striped shirts, leopard print anything, dark or distressed denim) the things I keep buying THINKING I love them but I don’t (leather jackets, work trousers, non-leopard printed shoes), but the best is it really helped me see what I was missing in my wardrobe.

I was missing a leopard skirt.  I had one a few years ago that was almost right, but it was too short and had a wrap style to it.  I wanted a classic straight or pencil skirt, and I wanted a fabric that had heft and texture, and the print wasn’t too brown or yellow.  So when I saw this skirt at J. Crew Factory and they were having 40% off I got it.  While I styled it here for a look I’d wear for a night out or a blogger event, this skirt is pretty versatile.  I know I’ll wear it to work with my black cashmere crew and opaque tights, a denim shirt, a silk blouse in a bold color.  It’s lined, the fabric has a great texture, and it’s a classic pattern but in a cool tone that works with my wardrobe of primarily cool neutrals and silver.  And the price was way lower than I thought I’d have to pay for such an item in my wardrobe!

This look is a bunch of favorites, items that made the page in the journal.  And come on, how funny is this shirt?  It may be about Karl Lagerfeld but considering who my husband is, it’s a favorite in the tee shirt drawer!

Shop the Look:

Outlet Mall Shopping

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Life, Replotted: On Renewal

chelsea henderson for wardrobe oxygen

It’s been twenty years since I’ve reported to a classroom on the Tuesday after Labor Day in an outfit carefully chosen ahead of time, but I still associate September with renewal. New classes. New clothes. New pens. New notebooks. And most welcome, a change of season.

In September, the weather can reach 75 degrees and be sunny during the day but cool down to the 50s after sunset. Sweaters, scarves and tall boots gradually make their way to the front of the closet, while swimsuits move to the off-season drawer. The trees start to turn my favorite shades of red and orange. I make Julia Child’s housewarming recipe for boeuf bourguignon. My kids go back to school (well, in August, technically) just at the time when their constant refrain “I’m bored” was about to drive me crazy.

Yes, I love September.

But this year, the silence my boys left in their wake is deafening to me during the day. While at first I welcomed the ability to work committedly at my desk, uninterrupted by requests for lunch, play dates and rides to the pool, a few weeks into the semester, I feel distracted by my own lack of new activity.

Normally I’d satisfy this emptiness with a new sweater or pair of shoes, but in the spirit of economizing and finding a more permanent sense of fulfillment, I’ve opted for a challenge. My personal writing has taken a toll. With the exception of this monthly column and the occasional post on my own blog, I haven’t focused on writing for me all summer. I’m changing that equation. Every day, no matter how busy, I will dedicate at least an hour to working on old or new material. After all, if I want to call myself a writer, I actually have to write. In the last week, this renewed commitment to my craft resulted in taking on an overhaul of my first novel. I’d started this project in May and shelved it when the day job overtook my calendar. I’m refocusing, strengthening this initial stab at fiction writing while opening my heart to inspiration for the next great project.

Soon the foliage will fall from the trees and the first frost will cover blades of grass. I will cave in and buy a new sweater or three, but in the meantime, I’ve got a book to revise.

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.

Tuesday: Fact of Life

Dress: Gap
Cardigan: LOFT (similar)
Boots: Fitzwell
Necklace: Gift
Bag: Sabina (similar)

I was tempted to title this post DONT CURR; today is that kind of day. Instead the theme to The Facts of Life played in my head – you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the Facts of Life. Well today’s outfit is a fact of life – some outfits aren’t fun or chic or terribly flattering, but they get the job done. This is more of a weekend look for me, but it was raining cats and dogs this morning, I have a complicated project today at work, and I really didn’t care too much how I looked doing it. Revlon’s Matte Lipstick in Wine Not makes the look a hair more purposeful, but really I’m just glad I have had my coffee and got to the office without a car driving in the gutter and splashing me from head to toe!

FYI, this dress does shrink in the wash.  I washed on cold and tumbled dry on medium and it shrunk most everywhere.  Personally, I like the fit much better than before (size Large regular) though wish I still had that extra half inch of length. Speaking of which, this dress is currently on sale and Gap is offering 30% off today (code THANKYOU).

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

My Wardrobe Today – Tuesday

Silk blouse – Ann Taylor (similar)
Pencil skirt – Calvin Klein (similar)
Mary Janes – Franco Sarto “Lotion” c/o Nordstrom Rack
Necklace – Boutique in Rehoboth Beach, DE

Crazy that just a couple months ago this shirt was too tight to button! I have had this blouse (and the same one in emerald green) for YEARS (at least six see the first time I wore the green one on this blog here) and I can’t imagine not having them in my wardrobe.  Ann Taylor has similar colored silk blouses this year, but I love how these have a classic silhouette that won’t be out of fashion in a year (or six!).

A couple of weeks ago, I helped my friend Izolda with one film from her One-Minute Movies project.  Well the film is finished!  If you ever wanted to know what my voice sounds like, check out Mrs. Butterman in the film below (I do love myself in pink!).

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

My Wardrobe Today – Wednesday

An early morning for me, and another where my husband had a shoot and my mom came over to watch Emerson.  I love my mother, but I don’t love the pictures she takes for my blog.  I think she gets flustered, because she is actually a very good photographer.  The one at the top was the best out of the pack, and it was after I ran my fingers through my hair in frustration and realized I was running very late.

Sweater – Ann Taylor
Denim pencil skirt – Ann Taylor
Necklace – Ann Taylor (gosh, spotting a trend?)
Shoes – Franco Sarto

Hair is next day, I brushed it and hit the dryer and round brush to any bedhead.  Makeup is Max Factor Pan-Stik, Revlon ColorStay shadow quad (the gray one), Nars blush in Orgasm, Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage and lipstick in Pink Champagne, DiorShow mascara in black.

I am working on a new project at work that is testing my creative skills.  Nice to stretch my limits, but it’s a bit stressful.  May be MIA tomorrow and the first half of Friday to take care of it.  But do make sure you stop by Wardrobe Oxygen – I am running a giveaway on a collection of five tights for fall!

The Return of Foxcroft Style Stars (and a Giveaway!)

Last year I had the opportunity to head to NYC and style a photoshoot for Foxcroft Collection. I’ve been a fan of their no-iron shirts for a while (and love that they come in Plus and Petite), and it was fun to support them with this project. And it wasn’t any old project either. To celebrate their 25th anniversary, Foxcroft invited teachers from NYC’s P.S. 159 Bayside to model their silver anniversary collection and be Foxcroft Style Stars.


For the second year, Foxcroft is celebrating the hard work and dedication of New York’s public school teachers with Foxcroft Style Stars 2014. Twentywomen from P.S. 31 in Brooklyn, a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, received the star treatment.  L’Appartement Prive Salon hosted the teachers for the day of pampering: hair consultations and styling by celebrity hairstylist Laurent Dufourg, and a custom wardrobe from Foxcroft.

foxcroft style stars

Janet Zukowski, who has taught at P.S. 31 for over 30 years, said the day was “magical.” Zukowski continued, “We felt appreciated and were treated royally. I think it was a once in a lifetime kind of event.”  Laurent Dufourg, who has worked with celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Sophia Loren, and Tina Fey enjoyed styling the teachers, stating, “Working with these ladies is extremely rewarding because they leave the salon feeling like a million dollars. I love it. It is very satisfying.”

Foxcroft Collection will reveal the 2014 Style Stars as the center of their back-to-school digital campaign, launching this month. The campaign will showcase the ladies dressed in the brand’s latest looks for fall, which will be highlighted on the Foxcroft Collection homepage. You can shop their looks at this link and get 20% off the pieces (valid until 8/20/14)!


You can have a bit of the Foxcroft Style Star experience for yourself! Please visit Foxcroft Collection and in the comments below let me know your favorite blouse. One Wardrobe Oxygen reader will win the blouse in the style and size of her choice!

Giveaway ends August 31, 2014. Giveaway is open to residents of the USA only, and winner will be chosen at random. You must have a valid email address in your Disqus profile/signed in with a valid email address or else include it in your comment to be eligible. No need to provide size, if you are the winner we will contact you for details.  If winner doesn’t reply to winning email within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.  Good luck!