Search Results for: label/Rachel Zoe

Review and Giveaway: Jockey Preferred by Rachel Zoe Collection

BlogHer recently contacted me and asked if I would like to try out and review a curated line of shapewear and intimates from Jockey that celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe calls “Major Must Haves.” I didn’t have to think twice about saying yes. I respect Rachel Zoe’s business decisions and partnerships, Jockey is known for quality yet budget-friendly intimates, and I believe quality shapewear can transform a woman’s figure and how her wardrobe works with her body.

Each carefully selected piece from this collection features Jockey’s trusted expertise in creating comfy yet stylish solution-based lingerie combined with Rachel Zoe’s well-known style and sophistication. This new collection from Jockey is supposed to mirror Rachel Zoe’s fashion aesthetic and is made to make the most of your curves and what is in your closet. I received the High Back Scoop Neck Tank, the Slip Shaper, the Tummy Short, the Modern Modal Thong and Bikini, and the Modern Nylon with Lace Boyshort.

When the box arrived I was immediately impressed. The fabric was high quality and rivaled shapewear I own from pricier department store brands. The shapewear has a patented 3-panel design to help slim the figure while staying comfortable. While the thong and bikini were pretty traditional Jockey, the boyshorts were adorable – a silky candy-pink body with berry lace trim. I was impressed by the modern silhouettes and pretty yet comfortable textiles.

The first day, I tried the Tummy Short, which I received in size Large and in a tan color. I should have sized down; it was so loose there wasn’t any control taking place. However, the legs kept rolling up on me. The fabric felt nice, my dress didn’t cling to it, and I didn’t have panty lines, but I wonder even with a smaller size if the construction would have truly slimmed my tummy.

The next day, I tried the High Back Scoop Neck Tank in black. This piece is supposed to control the midriff and get rid of back bulges. It has straps wide enough to cover a bra. This piece fit really well, was comfortable, and didn’t roll up like many control tanks I have tried before. However, I didn’t find it controlled my midriff, and the half-shiny/half-matte construction made me wonder what exactly I could wear it for (maybe as a camisole under a wrap dress?).

What I did like was the Slip Shaper, which I also received in black. I have always shied away from such shapewear, not finding it appropriate for my body or personal style. However, I found the Slip Shaper to be great under a pencil skirt because it didn’t ride up, didn’t add bulk, and smoothed the whole torso without causing a muffin top at the waistband. The silicone gripper at the hem actually worked to keep the slip from riding up. However, again, this wasn’t firm control and mainly smoothed my figure rather than changed my shape or minimized my curves.

This collection from Jockey is well made, good looking, and a great price, but it isn’t hardcore shapewear. I would recommend this collection for the woman who is just looking for light control – smoothing of lumps and bumps instead of sucking and streamlining. I found the collection to wash well and maintain its shape, and other than the Tummy Short, everything stayed in place without sagging or rolling throughout the workday.

Rachel Zoe’s “Major Must Haves” from Jockey are now available in major retailers,
Jockey outlet stores, and on Jockey.com.

Giveaway

This giveaway has now ended and the winners have been notified.  Thanks for entering!

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True Fashionista: Zoe

I was a pretty creative teen when it came to fashion and style. I wore sweaters as skirts, sewed some of my own clothes, embellished and drew on my denim, even pulled down one of my bedroom curtains to fashion it into a cummerbund for a school dance. I’m eternally grateful that my parents gave me the freedom to express myself sartorially; while it made for some awkward social moments at the mall (strangers can be so cruel) it helped me be strong, believe in myself, and take risks.

I’m always thrilled to come across a blog of a younger woman or teen who has a bold and clearly defined personal style. I know it’s not easy at that age to buck the norm, and I understand the passion and creativity and drive that goes behind such outfits. Some young bloggers you can see are still feeling things out and finding their way, and others you can clearly understand their message and can be in awe by their voice and maturity. When I came across Zoe Schlacter’s blog, Girl With The Flower, she stopped me in my tracks with her incredibly creative, unique, and inspiring personal style. I subscribed, I became a huge fan, and asked her to be part of my True Fashionista series.

Zoe has always been a fan of fashion, in fact her second post on her blog, Girl With the Flower is from December 2009 when she met Tim Gunn. It’s fun to scroll through her archives and see her personal style progression. Doing so you see that Zoe has always been a step ahead of the rest – her outfits in 2009 and 2010 look very much like what many personal style bloggers are wearing today, and I can bet that her current ensembles will be imitated in a couple years.

“In middle school, I went through an awkward insecure phase, like most middle-schoolers do. I wasn’t quite as daring then; it’s been a gradual progression up until now. I’m becoming more courageous with what I wear, and I’m more confident in myself.” (source)

Zoe doesn’t just put together creative outfits, but she is also an artist. She shares many of her photography concepts (like those googly eye images in her header), film projects, textiles she has designed, and handcrafted headpieces on her blog, and even has an Etsy store where she sells her unique headbands and other wearable art. She has been featured in Teen Vogue, Nashville Scene, the front page of Chictopia, and Metromix and I can bet that’s just the beginning of this fashionista’s deserved press.

I look forward to Zoe’s continued pushing of sartorial boundaries, and her inspiring mix of art and fashion. I was honored to have Zoe be a part of my True Fashionista series and asked her the same five questions I ask of each participant; her answers:

How would you describe your personal style? 
I cant really classify my style into one genre, but I like things that are colorful and patterned and shiny. I really love everything floral; I’m a big fan of flowers.

Where did you get your passion for fashion? 
I’ve always been really interested in visual art. My parents are creative people, and they’ve always been really supportive of my creative endeavors. I started getting into fashion when I was about ten or so, and I’ve gradually become more and more courageous in my fashion choices over the years. I got into fashion for the wrong reasons; when I first became conscious of my appearance, it was to fit in… to be like everyone else… to be beautiful to others. My passion for fashion has evolved into something more meaningful. Now, I dress for myself, and I wear things that make me happy. Additionally, my interests in visual art and fashion have coincided in recent years, and treat fashion like another form of art.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration? 
Recently, I’ve been interested in Japanese street style… everything “kawaii.” And I’ve been inspired by Frida Kahlo for a long time now. I admire her art, and I admire her ability to stand up for her unusual viewpoints.

What is the difference between fashion and style? 
Fashion is on runways; style is what’s in your closet.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style? 
Don’t be afraid to try new things, and don’t be afraid to go with your gut instinct when making clothing decisions. If you want to develop a personal style truly your own, you need to stop caring what others think of you. You have to do it for yourself- not for other people.

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The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style. Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion. These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you. Stay tuned, there will be a featured True Fashionista every Friday. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments you never know she may end up being featured!

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Jockey Skimmies Slipshort – An Unbiased Review

Jockey Skimmies Slipshort Review

I’m a gal who deals with chub rub (chafing between the thighs especially during hot weather); when I saw so many bloggers recently promote the Jockey Skimmies Slipshort I was curious. I receive free product in exchange for reviews on Wardrobe Oxygen and know how hard it is to be unbiased in such a situation.  I decided to buy a pair with my own money so I can be as honest as I like and share with you!

Truthfully, I expected to be disappointed in the Skimmies because I’ve tried the Jockey “Preferred by Rachel Zoe” line before and was not impressed (and had to write a sponsored review hence my desire to try on my terms). But my beloved black Kmart bike shorts from 2007 (have never found a worthy replacement) are getting threadbare and summer is here so I was ready for a replacement to wear under dresses and skirts to prevent chafing.

There are four types of the Jockey Skimmies – regular, anti-static, wicking, and short length. I decided to go with the regular, and because I’m petite, also grabbed a pair of the short length. I purchased both in Light (beige) and both in size Large (Jockey says this is equal to a 10-12 or panty size 6, but reviews online said these slipshorts run large).

Both are made exactly of the same material, and fit pretty much the same except for leg length. On my size 14, 5’3″ frame, the regular ended 2.5” above the top of my knee, the short 6.5” above my knee. As for the fabric, it’s opaque enough in case you have a Marilyn moment you won’t look as though you’re wearing cutoff pantyhose but obviously more lingerie than gym wear.

The Pros:

The fabric is awesome, it is silky enough to have knits slip over it, but doesn’t get gross with sweat and heat. The waistband doesn’t bind at ALL, they feel as though I’m not wearing anything. The legs don’t dig and there aren’t any visible seams; you could wear these under lightweight pants and slim knit dresses without any lines. “Light” is a perfect match to my light to medium skintone. They don’t stretch out at the waist or legs and they don’t make me feel hotter with an extra layer.  The Large is extremely comfortable from top to bottom.  I need to again mention how utterly comfortable these are, you truly feel as though you’re wearing nothing at all.

The Cons:

They claim to have a cotton gusset, but it doesn’t seem like it; it’s same color, nubby, and doesn’t breathe any better than the rest of the slipshort. This means on a hot day with a lot of walking, it can get a bit… swampy down there.

The regular length Skimmies didn’t ride. AT ALL. I wore them for 11 hours straight and they didn’t shift or sag or bunch, they stayed exactly in place, even when I got hot and sweaty, even after walking for 20 minutes straight. However they are so long on me that they can only be worn with midi and maxi skirts.  Even a knee-length skirt is too short if I climb stairs or cross my legs.

The short Skimmies… they ride.  When I stand from my chair I want to tug at them, when I walk a block I want to tug at them. The good thing is that it’s usually only one leg at a time that rides up so I still end up without chub rub, but if you don’t get a chance to tug down that one leg and sit again, both will ride up and they become useless.

Final Verdict:

Close… and closer than anything else I have tried but not perfect. I like them enough that I’m going to try the wicking version in black, and for long days and music festivals will likely wear a pair of cotton underwear under them. However for shorter dresses, I’ll wear my one pair of short Skimmies but I’m still on the hunt for something better.

Have you tried the Jockey Skimmies Slipshorts? Do you have another product you find perfect for battling summer chafing and chub rub?

Lazy Tux

Blazer: The Limited (similar) | Tee: Old Navy | Ascot: Belonged to my Dad | Silk Bracelet: c/o lifetherapy | Boots: DUO (similar) | Jeans: NYDJ | Lipstick: Revlon Matte in “Really Red”

I prefer rain to blustery cold days, especially in April. April showers bring May flowers, right? It rained all night and was still gloomy and wet when I left for work so I wore boots to be on the safe side.

Still playing with this hair, today is Day 2, I curled large sections with a standard curling iron, angling away from the face. Finger combed, then added Jonathan Silky Dirt for a piecey/Mandana from Rachel Zoe Project sort of look. The bangs are still wrong, I need to make an appointment with my stylist to fix this cut, but I just have not had the time. Even this weekend is booked solid but I need to figure it out before I go on a 2am hacking spree with my cuticle scissors!

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend, thank you so much for all your support, emails, comments, and tweets this past week. I blog because I love it, and because I love all of you. I love connecting with you, knowing my writing benefits you, and making new friends through technology. I seriously adore all of you and am so incredibly grateful to have you in my life!

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Plus Sized Work Attire Options

Dear Allie:
I am getting back into the workforce after five years as a SAHM. I’m really excited, but am having a hard time finding nice work clothes. I am a size 18, 5’5” and an apple and all I seem to find are lowcut dresses and polyester pants. Do you know where I can find suits and work clothes like dresses and blouses for my size?

Why are all plus sized suits made out of polyester? Where can I find a suit that is equal in quality and price to J. Crew but goes above a size 16?

I was recently promoted and my new position requires me to travel on business several times a month. For such trips, I will need to wear a suit while at the office I can usually get away with casual pants or even nice jeans. While I have a great wardrobe of business casual pieces, it is proving difficult to find more corporate of attire for my size (I vary between a 20 and 22). Do you know of any retailers who specialize in suiting and corporate attire for plus-sized women?

Hi Allie, I need to improve my look at work. We’re allowed to wear anything we want but I don’t want to look like a slob any more and think if I look good I may be more likely to get a raise or promotion. I’m 5’7”, a size 20 with a large bust and don’t even know where to start looking for nicer work clothes. HELP!

I am not sure why the world thinks women over a size 12 don’t hold professional jobs. They must think that with the poor selection of career wear for plus-sized women. While quality suits and stylish business casual clothing does exist, it’s hard to find. Below I feature some brands who realize that just because you wear a larger size doesn’t mean you wish to sacrifice style, quality, or professionalism.

If you’re plus sized, I’m sure you already know about Lane Bryant, Avenue, Ashley Stewart, One Stop Plus/Woman Within/Roamans/Jessica London, and other retailers who specialize in plus size fashion. Below are some suggestions on brands I know who aren’t the typical shops, and who provide quality, well-crafted and stylish career wear in plus sizes

Nordstrom
I know, I know, Nordstrom again? Thing is, they offer a great selection of quality brands and style for plus sizes. MICHAEL Michael Kors, Rachel Palley, Calvin Klein, Karen Kane, Eileen Fisher, Tahari Woman, Vince Camuto, Kenneth Cole… all these brands and more are offered in plus sizes at Nordstrom stores and online.

Unlike many other department stores who think a woman in a size 22 dress wants a muumuu or a flowing polyester pantsuit, Nordstrom buyers find brands and pieces that are in the same vein of style as the rest of the store. Great colors, fun silhouettes, lots of options. Nordstrom has free shipping and free returns, will perform alterations onsite, and have personal shoppers that can help you secure a professional wardrobe for your job.

Macy’s
Macy’s is another department store who offers a fantastic selection of brands and styles for plus sizes. Alfani, Calvin Klein, Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Jones New York, and then their in-house brand INC International Concepts are great resources for great plus size office wear. Like Nordstrom, Macy’s provides a good amount of real estate in most of their stores for plus-sized fashion.

Macy’s always has promotions for discounts and shipping deals. Macy’s has a great return and exchange policy, where you can return by mail or at any nearby store.

Talbots
Talbots Woman comes in sizes 12-24 regular and 12-22 petite. Each season they offer several styles of suit separates so you can mix and match for the perfect career look. Talbots also specializes in business casual looks, with tailored trousers, well-crafted skirts, polished knits and sweaters and even shoes and accessories.

While many retailers hide their plus size department in a dusty corner or keep it only online, Talbots often has separate stores just for their Woman line, or else it gets plenty of real estate in their mixed-size store. Talbots is phenomenal with customer service, seeking out sizes at other locations, taking returns in-store, and giving you honest feedback and offering suggestions at the fitting room. When I was a size 18, Talbots was my go-to store, where I knew I would find quality, style, and a supportive staff.

Jones New York
While Jones New York is a department store staple, they also have their own online boutique that has a large selection of career wear in extended sizes. Since you have to return by mail (they offer a pre-paid shipping label), it’s good to try out JNY in a store to know how it fits, and then go online to find a larger selection.

Kiyonna
Kiyonna knows how to dress a woman. They make well-made pieces that are stylish and flattering to a plus-sized figure. No muumuus and garish prints here, Kiyonna offers beautiful dresses, and also a beautiful selection of separates. While their bottoms are very basic, they are well-made and classic. Some of their tops can run on the sexy side, but many are great pieces for business casual environments or fabulous shells under suits. Their return policy is pretty standard but I hear their sizing is quite consistent so once you know how you fit in Kiyonna you won’t have to make as many returns and exchanges.

Ann Taylor
If you enter an Ann Taylor store, you may think they don’t care about anyone over a size 12. However online they go up to size 18 and XXL on the majority of their pieces. I also find Ann Taylor runs a bit large and many of my readers have agreed that their size 18 can often fit a size 20 woman.

Ann Taylor regularly has promotions for free shipping and percentages off select items – it’s smart to sign up for their emails or follow them on Facebook or Twitter so you stay updated. Their online selection can sell out pretty quickly when they have such sales, so shop early. While Ann Taylor doesn’t offer free returns, they do accept returns even of larger sizes in any store. And if you have to do a return, check out their sale rack where I have regularly seen larger sizes from other women who have made returns.

Lands’ End
Lands’ End may not be the retailer you would think for career wear, but they do have a pretty great selection of workwear staples. While their summer selection is more geared towards shorts and dresses, they always have a good selection of blazers and coordinating bottoms and come the cooler months have an even greater selection of suiting and work-appropriate pieces.

Lands’ End often has promotions for discounts and free shipping so sign up for their emails to get the latest news. Lands’ End also accepts returns at Sears stores which makes shopping with them even more convenient.

Eddie Bauer
Like Lands’ End, Eddie Bauer mainly focuses on casual weekend fashion. However, like Lands’ End they have a few stand-out pieces each season for career wear. Eddie Bauer often focuses on easy-care pieces, and you’re likely to find wrinkle-free suiting, no-iron button-front shirts, and machine washable trousers and dresses. Eddie Bauer offers free exchanges and accepts returns by mail (they will provide a pre-paid shipping label or you can send by your own method) or in store.

Overstock
I’m quick to head to Overstock to find a toaster oven or an area rug, but I have now learned to go to this site for fashion. Popular brands like Tahari, Kasper, Calvin Klein, and Ann Klein are featured by Overstock, and at nicer prices than at the department store. While some of the styles offered on Overstock are a bit strange, you can also find some gems – often pieces being sold right now at your nearby Belk or Macy’s. Overstock has customer reviews, ridiculously cheap shipping, and a reasonable return policy.

TJ Maxx
While most of my local discount big box retailers will have some plus size fashion, it’s usually a small section, messy, and full of strange pieces I wouldn’t be caught dead in. Not so for TJ Maxx, who usually carries higher-end brands than similar stores, and they usually have a larger and better organized plus size department.


Where do you find stylish and well-made plus size career wear? I’d love to know your suggestions!

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Behind the Scenes

I don’t think people realize the behind the scenes of being a fashion or style blogger in 2013. While I don’t know how it is for other bloggers, here’s a peek into may daily life as a part-time fashion blogger.

I wake and grab my phone and head to the bathroom. While I pee, brush my teeth, and straighten my hair, I read emails, reply to comments and mentions on my blog’s social media channels. I need to stop after 30 minutes, because if not this could go on for over an hour. Time zones across the globe mean you can receive 20 emails at 3am asking to buy a text link, improve your SEO, or gift you with a scarf and ten more at 4am trying to spam your comment sections with links for cheap Fendi bags.

I try to figure out an outfit. I have that gifted scarf I need to incorporate before the end of the week, I have to wear that dress for that brand before the month is through but it looks stupid with tights and it’s only going to be 45 degrees that day. I already wore black for my last two outfit posts, if I do it again I’ll be hit with a dozen comments asking me if I’m depressed or gained weight or having marital issues. If I wear more than one c/o item in the outfit, will I be seen as a sell-out even though I really really like those c/o pieces? As I pull something together, I am thinking about what I will write, what the title will be for the post.

I go downstairs and start the outfit post – I write the title, get all the links for the products. I usually use ShopSense for my affiliate links because it’s profitable, easy to use, and they don’t harass me all the time with emails on how to improve my results or added widgets and giveaways and such. However, if ShopSense doesn’t have my link, I have to take some extra time to find that item online. I write a bit of the copy, just to get the ball rolling, tag the post, and do all the blogging back-end stuff.

On days when I don’t have to be at work super early, my husband drives me to the metro to save costs and reduce the number of cars on the road. He brings out his camera, I give him a memory card, pictures are taken in our court or the street nearby. He shoots about 12 pictures. Pose, pose pose, pose, pose, pose. Okay get up close for detail shots. I don’t see any of the pictures, he pulls out the memory card and I slip it in my purse and we drive off. While in the car or when waiting at the Metro for the train I may Instagram my outfit, and will again check emails and mentions on social media. Karl makes a joke about how I’m addicted to my phone, I laugh, guzzle coffee, and keep scrolling because it’s not something I can do once I get to work.

When I take my lunch break, I eat it at my desk so I can work on the blog. I upload the pictures to my desktop, delete the ones with my eyes closed or where I have five chins, and quickly use PicMonkey to adjust the color, clone out Emerson’s handprint on my pants, and resize. Load the pics, finish the copy, and post all within about 15 minutes. My posts are automatically mentioned on Twitter, but I have chosen to manually share on Facebook because I can then add a photo, tag brands or fellow bloggers and make it a bit more personal. I also share on Pinterest – I feel goofy promoting myself but I’ve found over the past year that many people have found my blog because of that.

If I still have some time leftover (I rarely get full lunch hours), I’ll check my Google Doc for comments from my comment form, check out blogs I follow on Feedly, reply to some emails, chat with folks on Twitter. In all honesty, this time is usually taken up with emails, and not emails from readers.

Can I write a guest post where I throw in a bunch of links for my brand but not pay you?
I will offer you $25 to write a sponsored post on your site with 50,000 links about casinos or weightloss products or a brand of clothing that is derogatory towards women.
I’d like to give you $50 to put a bunch of crazy code in your sidebar which looks like an innocent button ad, but will in fact destroy your SEO and improve mine tenfold.
I have a scarf I’d like to send to you (always scarves!!) for free, but you need to feature it within two weeks, share it on every social media channel under the sun, use a special hashtag and link to this specific page. 
Your price is too high for advertising, how about I give you $30 and some SEO tips for a giant ad in your sidebar that will be there for three years? 
Have you had a chance to try out the skincare you didn’t ask to receive in the first place and when can I expect a review on your blog?

Even though Alexa and Quantcast and my Advertise page exist and you sent me your stats in the last email, can you please again give me all the statistics on your blog for the past year, specific stats that you’ll have to dig up on Google Analytics so I can see if your blog is worthy enough for me to send you a bracelet? 
Sorry, we cannot send you a pair of our shoes to review, but here’s a high-res image of it, I’ll be sending the shoes to a blogger who may have a much smaller audience but is younger and thinner but I hope you will still write about us and be sure to mention us on social media!

At the end of the workday, I am often rushing out of the office to get home in just in time for Karl to leave to teach. The days where he doesn’t work, I’d love to leave on time so we can have dinner together as a family, but usually I stick around at work for another hour. I catch up on things without the office bustling with people, but I also get blogging done. All that behind the scenes stuff – updating ads and links, making new Pin-able images for old posts that still get a lot of traffic, creating Polyvore sets for upcoming posts, creating posts and scheduling them for the future. I don’t get time like this often, so when I do I try to bang out at least one or two posts.

As soon as the Metro is aboveground, I’m on my phone checking emails and social media. Again, writing myself an email of tasks to accomplish. I get home, put my phone on the charger and spend time with Emerson. I give her a bath, put her to bed, and usually go right to my laptop where I deal with 50,000 more emails of companies wanting text links, to send me stuff, do giveaways, have me mention their brands or events, or speak on their panel. It’s tempting to delete every single one, but you never know what PR person can give you your next big break. I delete the ones that are obviously sent to 500 bloggers at once, but reply to all that are personal or make an effort.

When I’m home, I try to answer all the emails from readers, but I’m trying to do that more on weekends because I’m finding the personal interactions before bedtime really mess with my sleep patterns. For every compliment, there’s someone telling me I am fat or tacky, my child is ugly or my husband is gay. For every email that asks an honest question about fashion or style, there is one where someone is pouring out their entire story and hoping I can fix their life. For every email thanking me for my advice, there’s someone telling me my advice is wrong, damaging, or offensive. It’s hard; I love how my blog helps women so when I get such feedback it’s hard to not take it personally or change yourself.

I rarely read books anymore that don’t serve a blog purpose. I read fashion and style books, fashion and lifestyle magazines. I need to keep current with trends, style beliefs, up and comers. You all will hit me with some major whoppers of comments and questions and it reminds me that to be a good blogger you need to be well-informed on your subject. Every so often, I throw in a chick lit or crime novel to keep the fashion and style reads from being work.

Saturday mornings, Karl teaches yoga and Emerson and I have an hour or two before her ballet class. We eat breakfast on the couch, she usually playing ABC Mouse on her computer or apps on my phone, me with laptop and a fashion-related show on the TV. Project Runway, Rachel Zoe Project, It’s a Brad Brad World, something on the DVR I saw when going through The Guide. I get a post done, this is usually when I do capsule or more creative posts because I’m fresh, I can see nature outside my window, and I have little cold toes tickling me under the afghan and a warm furry dog on my feet.

Sundays, I usually do administrative work on the blog. Update graphics, coding, my social media channels. I know I do a lot less of this stuff than many bloggers, as I don’t know PhotoShop, don’t know the intricacies of SEO, and hell, I’m still on Blogger because I’m lazy.  I’ll send invoices to advertisers, reply to emails I have been avoiding, and the emails from you readers that deserve a bit more time and thought. I try to stick to viewing my stats on Sundays because it can be quite addictive, depressing, and cause competition.  Sundays is also when I start crafting the True Fashionista posts. I take over a week to finish those, since I pretty much stalk the bloggers online, finding where they have been mentioned, where they get their inspiration, what makes them so interesting. I try to do this while Emerson sleeps and Karl watches his sort of TV (Dual Survival, Vikings, etc.). Sundays are also when I clean up my bedroom – it can get pretty trashed trying to figure out outfits in a rush (and planning ahead just never feels right to me), so I put all the rejects away and do a bit of thinking about what I will wear for the upcoming week.  If things are going well, this is when I take the time to truly visit other blogs.  I find that lately I don’t have enough time for this, and I miss it terribly.

For someone to blog consistently, it has to be a passion.  It’s not just posing in a park with a clutch purse, at least it isn’t any more.  I think of big full-time bloggers who regularly have events to attend, retail headquarters to visit, interviews to conduct and I think they must work more than 50 hours in a week to keep it going and to stay in the black. Being a for-profit blogger can be a very isolating, soul-selling, and exhausting profession, especially when to be successful you have to hide all that under a gleaming white smile and pair of covetable heels.  I can’t imagine how it is for those who have chosen to make their blog their full-time job.  When you start dissing a blogger for being too big, a sell-out, for turning off comments or being distant, realize you don’t know what is actually going on behind the scenes.

This will be the last post about the business of blogging for a while (at least until I get riled up again).  Thanks for letting me vent and share, but I want to get back to the fun stuff – fashion and personal style!  Next week I have a few more beauty reviews and I’ll have some outfit posts as well!  Thanks for sticking through!  

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Hosting a CAbi Party – My Experience

Some of the CAbi Fall 2011 Collection

After my first experience with Carol Anderson by Invitation (CAbi) clothing, I really wanted to see the fall collection. Many of you readers told me that I needed to see more of this line, that they did have dresses and skirts, that their collections coordinated not just within each other for a season, but across seasons and years. That CAbi deserved a second look.

So this Sunday I hosted a CAbi party. For those who haven’t heard of CAbi, it’s a line of clothing that is sold at home parties, a la Pampered Chef or Silpada. Carol Anderson used to sell her line of clothing at department stores like Nordstrom, but soon was frustrated that shoppers couldn’t experience her entire line, only that which the buyers decided was best for their stores. She decided to go independent, and CAbi was born.

My CAbi Party
An hour before the party was to start, my consultant Lisa showed up. She had two collapsible rolling racks, and at least four giant canvas garment bags holding all the clothing. On one rack, she had one piece from the entire fall line, separated by collection (this season each collection is named after a movie); on the other rack were duplicates of the line in different sizes. She covered both racks with a black CAbi-logoed drape, but not before she invited me to pull a couple pieces from the line to change into. As she said, it’s easier to see how the clothes fit and look if you see them on a human body. I immediately was drawn to the Classic Shirt, and after not really liking any of the skirts on me (and knowing the pants would be too long for my petite frame), I grabbed a pair of the Classic Jean. I dashed upstairs for an application of red lipstick to finish the look. When I came down, Lisa had set up two full-length mirrors in my house, and had a basket full of order forms, catalogs, and pens. She even had two pairs of hot pink reading glasses and a CAbi calculator! Lisa also had style boards – big black posters with pictures of the clothing being modeled in different combinations.

At 3pm, my friends started showing up. I must say, it’s hard asking friends to attend a party like this – you know you are expected to drop some cash at the end of the affair. I found CAbi to be even more difficult because of the high pricepoint. I told my friends I didn’t expect them to buy anything, I just wanted their opinions on the clothing, and wanted to experience a CAbi party. Eight friends ended up at my house – for me I found this to be a perfect size.

Lisa showing off the Curl Wrap Tee

Once we were all settled in, finished hugging one another hello and all were armed with a glass of wine, Lisa began her presentation. She gave a brief history of how CAbi came to be, and told us a bit about her experience as a consultant. Unlike many other at-home party consultants, I didn’t feel as though she was trying to force me into being a consultant, but she still made the job and the company sound appealing. Lisa then presented me with a CAbi canvas tote as my hostess gift (I am such a sucker for reusable bags, and this one is big and sturdy!).

My mom modeling the Corporate Jacket

Lisa presented each collection individually, pulling out pieces, hanging pieces over one another to create looks. The rolling rack had a bar off the front over the drape so she could hang the garments while mentioning them. She not only showed the pieces, but explained a lot of the thought process behind them – why there was certain seaming, why a ruffle was placed where it was, how a piece could be worn in multiple ways. It was interesting to know that not each CAbi piece is made to fit the same exact fit model, and that seams and details are not just to look pretty, but to specifically flatter a woman’s figure and help with what Lisa called “situations” (soft belly, soft arms, etc.). Every so often, Lisa would ask me or my mom to come up and model a piece so my friends could see how different it looked on a human body.

While this part of the party was really helpful, informative, and thanks to Lisa quite entertaining; it does take a long time. There is far more to display and discuss than say at a Pampered Chef party. And unlike kitchen gadgets, you really need a good description and visual for clothing. We also kept asking questions about sizing, washing instructions, and garment details, which added to the length of the party. Lisa did a good job of answering our questions and showing all the clothing without making us bored. You could tell how much she believes in CAbi and the clothing.

After the presentation, Lisa took the drapes off the racks and we got to try on the clothes. The main rack had primarily size medium clothing, while her other rack had larger and smaller sizes (CAbi runs XS – XL or 0-16).

Sizing of CAbi Clothing
While I am usually a Large or 12/14 in most retailers, I found that I was comfortable in Medium and 10 in CAbi. One of my friends had a hard time accepting the fact that she looked best in a 0 or size XS in CAbi clothing. Friends who usually wear larger than a 16 found that there were pieces of CAbi clothing that fit and flattered their frames.

When I first experienced CAbi clothing in March, an issue I had was that they didn’t offer petite and long sizes. With the fall collection, I saw that a couple styles of jeans and pants came in regular and long lengths. I mentioned before that I wore the Classic Jean during the party – the Classic Jean comes in regular (32” length) and long (35”). The regular was a perfect length for me if I was wearing heels. Unfortunately, they do not have any of their tops in petite or long lengths – yet again I drooled over their gorgeous jackets but didn’t even consider purchasing one because I would have to spend so much on alterations. Even in a Medium, every single jacket was at least 2” too long in the arm.

I also mentioned in my original post that I was surprised that CAbi didn’t offer plus sizes. After seeing my friends try on CAbi, I am a bit more forgiving. CAbi clothing runs large; a woman who wears an 18 or 20 shouldn’t completely rule out the line. She may be surprised at how well many pieces may fit and flatter.

Styles of CAbi Clothing
When I checked out CAbi clothing this past spring, I was dismayed to see there weren’t that many skirts or dresses in the collection. This fall they had one dress (Faux Wrap Dress) and five skirts (one maxi, one mini, and three that are designed to hit right above or at the knee). I tried the Faux Wrap Dress on in a Medium and while it fit me in the shoulders and length, it was too tight in the body and arms, and I think a Large would have been too big. If I had a smaller bust or was more toned, a Medium would have fit my 5’3” frame quite nicely. The only skirt I tried on was the Vogue Skirt, and found a size Medium fit me perfectly. Not only that, I found it to be incredibly flattering. The pleating is very strategic, making it unique looking, but also kind to curves. While it’s cotton, it looks like a wool blend; I think the cut would look lovely with a top tucked in, but also with a fitted untucked top.

As I saw in March, you really need to try on CAbi clothing to get the full feel of each garment. Pieces I thought were utterly fugly on the hanger were really flattering on my body; in turn pieces I thought I would like didn’t hang properly on me when I tried them on. While a piece would look ridiculous on me, it would look fabulous on a friend with a completely different shape. The Ponte Bootlet pant in Medium made it around the party – four of us with completely different shapes, sizes, and heights tried it on and liked how it fit (if I was an inch taller or shorter I would have bought them).

My mom in the Ponte Trench Coat

And speaking of Ponte… you all know how much I love this fabric. Well CAbi had over a dozen separates in black and charcoal Ponte! Sleeveless shells (both plain and embellished) to pair with a skirt for an elegant dress-like look or with pants for a work ensemble, a trench that could be a lightweight fall jacket or a chic alternative to a blazer, a simple pencil skirt, and pants in multiple cuts and lengths. Lisa informed us that they carry Ponte clothing all the time, so you can mix and match with pieces from previous seasons. They also have a lighter-weight version of Ponte for Spring/Summer.

I was very curious about the denim. With my weight loss, I am at a point where I have very few jeans that fit. I found the Classic Jean to fit extremely well. The denim has a lot of stretch, but a heavy, sturdy feel that looked polished and felt great. The waistband was comfortable – slightly wider than usual, curved so it didn’t dig into my tummy when I sat and I didn’t have to hitch them up every time I stood. No goofy embellishments, washes, or labels.  I would have purchased them except I didn’t like the stonewashed color (they only had a dark rinse wash in one style, which was too skinny for my frame), and my friend told me that they had started to sag in the rear over the course of the party (love honest friends!). However, the jeans are really well made, nice weight and quality of denim, and flattering yet classic cuts. My friend with a longer, leaner frame looked fantastic in the Contemporary Jean and Lisa looked great in the Bootlet Jean. While it’s nice that some styles come in long lengths, it would be great if they also considered petite lengths (the styles that didn’t come in lengths were far too long for me to wear and I wouldn’t be able to wear the regular length with flats or kitten heels).

My friend and I both in the Editor in Chief Jacket

I fell in love with CAbi’s jackets this past spring and I did again this fall. My friend and I agreed that the Studio Jacket and Cameo Cardigan looked very Rachel Zoe, the Editor in Chief Jacket was drool-worthy, and I know I will be snagging the Chinchilly Jacket from my mom (she bought it at the party) at least once this winter. Again, I wish they came in petite sizes.

The knits are brilliant. Their camis have adjustable straps, and all of their tees have strategic rouching and wrapping to flatter the figure. Other than the slub-knit tees, the white knits are opaque – no bra straps or belly buttons showing through! The Slouch Tee looked ho-hum on the hanger, but on it looked incredibly chic and expensive – think one of those amazing tees that an Olsen twin would wear shopping. I really liked the Button Up Tee – a button-down shirt made out of jersey. Again, a piece that looks far better on the body than the hanger.

Summary
I like CAbi. I think the quality is stellar – can rival brands like Talbots or Ann Taylor in that regard. I liked the mix of trendy and classic pieces, and loved how pieces from this season not only mix and match with one another but with other seasons. I love how they show how the pieces work in different combinations, giving inspiration for ensembles.

Have you attended or hosted a CAbi party?  What did you think of it?

Note: While CAbi was aware that I was hosting a party, they did not ask me to host one nor did they ask me to write this post.  All opinions and decisions are 100% my own.

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Covet Fashion: Finding Personal Style on Your Phone

I blame Megan.

Megan is a friend I met through this blog. We were pregnant at the same time, she contacted me, something pregnancy-related, and soon a friendship grew. Though we live across the country from one another, we stay in touch via social media. One day, Megan posted a link to my Facebook page asking if I had seen the app, Covet Fashion. I had not. I’m not one to play games on my phone – my apps are useful or social media-related, except for a couple fun/educational ones for Emerson when she gets fussy during an extra-long meal at a restaurant. But I trust Megan’s taste, so I checked out Covet Fashion


My name is Alison Gary, and I am a Covet Fashion addict.

Covet Fashion is an app available on Apple mobile devices, and will soon be available on Android.  Playing Covet Fashion is like grown-up paper dolls with real-world designer duds. You get to create your own avatar (and they don’t look like Bratz dolls, but actual humans), choose your hair, makeup, skintone, and style her in current season clothing and accessories from over 80 hot designer brands like Rachel Zoe, Dannijo, Joie, Rebecca Minkoff, J Brand, and Nanette Lepore. You get feedback on your looks and can win virtual money and designer pieces for your virtual and even your real closet.

Example of some of the events you can enter

The main part of Covet Fashion are the events. These change daily, and are pretty interesting. Maybe it’s a rainy day in Paris and you are going to the Lourve, possibly you’re attending a Cynthia Rowley event and need to wear a piece from her current line, maybe you’ve been invited to a presidential gala, possibly you’re going apple picking. You are provided with the scenario, occasionally specific details (wear orange, incorporate pumps and a blazer, wear a piece of Fallon jewelry or Madison Harding boots), and how much you can earn from entering the event. Use the virtual money for entering to purchase pieces for your closet. Fellow Covet Fashion users vote on your outfit, and a score of four stars or higher earns you a new addition to your wardrobe (something special that cannot be purchased with virtual cash). To earn tickets to attend events, you vote on other Covet Fashion users’ looks for these events.

Two outfits I made for events – the score received and the prize won.  As you can see, you receive extra credit for wearing current season and previously unworn pieces from your wardrobe.

The app reminds me of the life of a personal style blogger. As a blogger, you are asked to attend events based upon your audience size and influence (tickets), you are often asked to wear a certain type of item (event specifics), paid to attend (cash for entering event), and if your look is really great you will be rewarded with more blog traffic and more swag from the company (prize). There’s the friendly style competition, checking out one another’s outfits (voting), and supporting friends in the blogosphere (connecting with Facebook friends).

A peek into my virtual closet on Covet Fashion, and some of the outfits I created in the app.

Covet Fashion is also a virtual way to define your own personal style in the real world. You have such an extensive selection of items to buy – do you buy what looks fun, or what will work with what is already in your wardrobe? Do you style yourself in a way that makes you happy, or will garner the highest votes? With time, you learn to shop knowing what sort of events will be in your future, and how to get a high score while still being true to your personal style. Not surprisingly, my virtual closet on Covet Fashion is full of leather, black, and bold silver accessories.

What I also like about Covet Fashion is that you’re exposed to new designers and can imagine how pieces could really be styled before buying them. Sure, that dress on the hanger in your favorite boutique is cute, but how would it look with your new suede ankle booties? Would it look good as a tunic over leather leggings? How will it hang when worn under a biker jacket? Would that dress look better with soft waves, or a messy updo? Not only that, if you see something you really love on Covet Fashion, you can click “Buy Online” and be taken to a site where you can purchase that very garment for your real-life closet.

I’m still not a “game gal.” I’ve never played Angry Birds or Words with Friends, and find Kindle to be my most-used app when a flight is delayed or I’m on the Metro… but I do love me some Covet Fashion. I love the competition, I love the real-world fashion, and I love that Megan introduced me to an app that helps define my personal style and have fun at the same time!

This post brought to you by Covet Fashion, but do know I was using the app way before they contacted me and all opinions in this post are 100% mine.

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Contest: Tolani Scarf from chickdowntown.com

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

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

The Tolani scarf is courtesy of chickdowntown.com, an awesome site that sells hip women’s designer clothing from the likes of Black Halo, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Diane Von Fürstenberg and Vera Wang Lavender Label.

I am so excited, because you KNOW I love scarves, and these beauts from Tolani are fabulous!

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

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

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

Good luck!

Ask Allie: Finding Personal Style

Dear Alison,
 
I’ve been trying so so so hard to find my own personal style…and it’s not working. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I get dressed in the morning, sometimes several times before I find an outfit that I think works, and feel okay about. And it seems like the second I get to work I feel disgusting and hate what I’m wearing and wish I could go back home and switch into something that would make me comfortable, namely a pair of old jeans and baggy shirt. Is this normal??? I read your blog and several other style blogs every day. I watch What Not to Wear marathons. I see things I like. I try to keep my wardrobe simple, like you suggest. But it has me in tears. I don’t know what to do. I feel like something is wrong with me!

Everyone has days where they feel fantastic in the mirror, but feel disgusting by time they arrive at their destination. Me included. It’s really bad when I think I put together an outfit that feels so awesome, get to work, look at the memory card from my husband’s camera and think, “Why in the world did I allow myself to leave the house in this?” I look awkward, I feel awkward, and I can’t wait to dash home and get into my version of your old jeans and baggy shirt (which is my favorite tee shirt and a pair of lightweight cropped cargo pants from Express circa 1999 – here’s a pic of the winter version with a cardigan). The best thing to do is learn from these days, what I call wardrobe mistakes.

Learning from Wardrobe Mistakes

What made you feel disgusting? Was it the fabric? The print? The silhouette? Was it too fussy? Too boring? Too extreme? I often feel the worst when I wear an outfit that is too… done. Too matchy-matchy, too complicated. Button-down shirts in stiff cotton often make me feel awkward, short flippy skirts make me self-conscious, flats remind me that I have very thick ankles and calves and feel even more short and squat than I already am. While I love blue and it flatters my complexion, I don’t feel as… me in it come mid-day as I do when wearing a warm color.

Take these wardrobe mistakes and use them as lessons on what not to wear, and what not to purchase. Don’t let history repeat itself.

To Thine Own Self Be True

I often feel wrong when I try too hard to embrace current trends. I see another blogger with a similar figure carry off cropped jeans with ballet flats so I try it, wear it, and feel miserable. Every store seems to be selling a certain style of skirt and I buy one to find I wear it only once for feeling so out of my element. It’s hard to know where to draw inspiration, when to embrace a trend, and when to let it pass.

When trying out a new trend or silhouette, I recommend doing it solo. This is not a time for your girl friend’s opinion in the fitting room at Macy’s or the saleswoman’s suggestion at LOFT. Peer pressure can steer you off course and make you spend money you shouldn’t. Hit the restroom, freshen your makeup, get a cold drink and spend time alone in that fitting room. If it’s a crummy, stinky, cramped fitting room get the heck out of there. Try the trend in another shop that has more space, better energy, better lighting. Then if you do indeed like a mullet skirt or cropped boyfriend jeans you can return to the first shop and get the exact style/price you desire. I often shop places with flexible return policies so I can take pieces home, try them with the proper shoes and undergarments and see how they work with what is already in my wardrobe.

Point is, your best friend may tell you that you look great in pink, but you feel like Petunia Pig in the shade. A saleswoman doesn’t know your lifestyle and may suggest a white linen dress when you know it will end up creased and covered in marinara by noon. If a trend, color, silhouette or brand makes you feel wrong, don’t buy it. I really believe it’s better to wear what you own which may not be exciting rather than spend money on clothes you have to force yourself to like or feel right in.

Baby Steps

I adore What Not to Wear and as I mentioned before, I have totally drank the Stacy London Kool-Aid. However, makeover shows and books make one feel she needs to do a complete makeover all in one whirlwind weekend in New York City. Even Stacy and Clinton would agree that such a drastic change is not a good idea. Take baby steps. Assess your current wardrobe – what are the worst offenders or the biggest holes in your closet and tackle those first. Don’t go out and purchase 5 pairs of shorts, instead buy one pair and see how you like them and how the color and silhouette works with your body, your wardrobe, and your personality. Let new pieces marinate in your wardrobe before you bring in new garments. See how they resonate with you, how they improve or don’t improve your personal style. Personal style is a marathon, not a sprint. The reason the personal style of the women on the blog Advanced Style is so awesome is because these women have had a lifetime to hone it!

Seek Professional Help

If you were building a home from scratch, you would consult an architect. If you’re building a wardrobe from scratch, consult a personal stylist. While I try to provide advice, it is very generalized to assist multiple people at once. A personal stylist will come to your home, get to know you as a person, assess what you already own and help you build a strong foundation.

When many think of stylists, they think of Rachel Zoe dressing celebs for awards ceremonies and red carpet events. However, stylists have become more commonplace and have prices that the average person can afford. I wrote about the Westfield Style Lounge and Style for Hire here, and I think they are great services to help everyday women get on the right track. Many of your favorite fashion bloggers are also stylists; see if there’s one in your town you can hire for a closet consult or shopping trip. Many malls and higher-end boutiques will know the names of reputable stylists in your area.

The difference between a stylist and a stylish best friend is that a stylist is trained to not project their tastes on you, and will guide you in the right direction when you feel that everything in your closet should be burned. A personal stylist doesn’t usually work on commission with a store, so he or she will find the stores that fit your body, your budget, and your personality. A personal stylist also knows where to shop in your area, being quite familiar with the merchandise and staff. While a personal stylist may seem like a crazy expense, an hour or two may be all you need to move in the right direction towards finding your personal style and can cost quite less than several wardrobe mistakes.

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Ask Allie: How to Make Wardrobe Classics Look Trendy

I spend my days in a pretty casual office, where even the managers wear jeans and t-shirts, so my minuscule capsule wardrobe has remained something I use only for date night and visits to relatives. My company is sending me to the corporate HQ and I need to dress professionally.

I am blonde and my wardrobe staples are khaki. I love the idea of the fitted white oxford shirt and nice heels with my khaki staples. Problem is, when I have these clothes on I look professional, confident, put-together… and about 20 years older!! How can I wear the classics and still look like an up-and-coming star-employee of an edgy internet start-up company?

I think your question is one that many small wardrobe folks battle with. A wardrobe full of hard-working classics that mix and match with ease, but can feel a bit dowdy or boring, especially when dealing with creative types. However, there are many trendy and stylish people who have a similar wardrobe.  When you analyze the wardrobes of style icons you will see they too have a closet of classics, and they are usually in a neutral shade.  Here’s a few examples of current-day style icons who wear very classic looks, and what they do to look current and fashionable.

Gwyneth Paltrow – Fit

On the red carpet, Gwyneth Paltrow often wears very edgy and modern gowns. However off the red carpet, Paltrow is known for her very clean and classic wardrobe. She’s not one to wear a lot of color, accessories, or embellishments and doesn’t jump on every trend bandwagon. The way she makes her very basic wardrobe look modern and hip is by having a very keen eye for fit. Paltrow regularly wears slim pants, structured jackets with strong shoulders, and slim sheath dresses. Everything has been tailored to perfection to best flatter her lean frame. The slim silhouettes and perfectly hemmed trousers and skirts make classics look quite chic and very modern.

Rachel Bilson – Accessories

Rachel Bilson’s look is young and fresh, but her personal style is surprisingly classic and simple. Over and over, she wears the same sort of silhouettes – styles that work now and would also work a couple years from now. Bilson keeps her personal style on-trend and covetable by adding accessories to the mix. She is known for bold booties with everything from skinny jeans to floaty frocks, looping colorful chunky scarves and pashminas at her throat come winter, and carrying a statement bag – be it a clutch or an oversized hobo. If you remove her jackets, bags, and shoes you will see her core wardrobe is quite timeless and simple. The addition of accessories adds edginess and a youthful vibe.

Michelle Obama – Color

Michelle Obama will occasionally add current trends and edgy designers to her wardrobe, but in general her personal style is quite classic. What makes her stand out in a crowd and be seen as a style icon is her great use of color. The First Lady’s closet must look like a rainbow, for she hardly wears neutrals or pastels. Her silhouettes are usually classic – most often you will see her in ladylike full and pencil skirts paired with fitted blazers or cardigans or a classic sheath dress. However she doesn’t shy away from any color – from school bus yellow to fire engine red, FLOTUS has worn it and worn it well. For you, you can make it a signature color or colors to go with your khaki-based wardrobe staples.

Kate Moss – Defined Personal Style

Kate Moss is known as a fashionista, but when you break down her wardrobe, it’s quite simple. Moss has a uniform of a tiny dress or skinny jeans and trousers paired with a blazer. What makes it style icon-worthy is how her personal style is so clearly defined. Kate Moss loves rock and roll and it’s clear by who she marries, what social events she attends, and how she dresses. Her classic ivory pantsuit will have very square padded shoulders and be paired by platform high heels; a typical date night ensemble of little dress and blazer is made edgy with snakeskin print and satin lapels. Even for red carpet events, Moss chooses either short and sparkly, or long and flowing with a ’70s vibe.  She keeps the color palette simple, the silhouettes classic with a rocker vibe, and shows her personal style with tiny touches that all add up to big fashion.

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A Minty Miss – My Experience with StyleMint and JewelMint

If you follow fashion and beauty bloggers, I’m sure you have heard of JewelMint, StyleMint, and ShoeMint. These are celebrity-sponsored sites that offer a monthly “showroom” of pieces based upon your personal style.

You start by filling out a survey of your personal style – are you more Zara or J. Crew? If you’re getting a pedicure would you rather read InStyle or Cosmo? From this, the Mint site decides what from their collection is most appropriate to your taste and creates your custom showroom. The collection is updated each month, so you have new pieces to choose from.

The idea is fabulous – jewelry designed by Kate Bosworth and her stylish friend, shoes picked for you by Rachel Bilson, tees via the Olsen twins (and skincare via Jessica Simpson, though I won’t be discussing BeautyMint site in this article).

All of these sites are subscription sites – once you make your first purchase, your credit card is on file and you will be charged every month. You have the first five days of the month to dash to their site to say “skip this month” or else you will be charged the monthly cost ($29.99 for Style and JewelMint, $79.99 for ShoeMint).

Last year, I won a “gift certificate” to JewelMint. I had a devil of a time trying to figure out how to use it, and realized in essence it was just a free credit for the site. I went to the site, and wasn’t too impressed with the options – my skin doesn’t react well to rings not made of silver or platinum, I am not really an earring person, and I don’t like delicate necklaces. However, they had a green pendant on a longer gold chain that looked promising.

My JewelMint necklace

The necklace came quite quickly, and I was impressed with the packaging. A glossy mint green box with magnetic closure, the necklace was carefully displayed on a velvet-covered foam box insert. The packaging was so pretty and luxe, I felt I was getting an item from a high-end designer. Then I opened the box… and was underwhelmed. The necklace was… fine. The quality was average to below average – lightweight, a weird color of gold that looks fake even from several feet away, an odd length of chain. A stylish friend said it looked like a piece from Forever 21 and I had to agree.

My JewelMint bracelet

JewelMint has a referral program – get others to join with your custom URL and you get free credits towards more jewelry. I ended up acquiring four credits in 2011. Each month I would go to JewelMint to use my credits, and leave with nothing. Seriously, I could get free jewelry and couldn’t find a single thing I would actually wear. Last month I saw a gold link bracelet that looked promising and used a credit towards it. Again, the piece arrived very quickly, and in quite luxe packaging. And again the piece is underwhelming. While this bracelet is a better color of gold, it’s still lightweight, simplistic and should cost less than $29.99. I have heard from friends and fellow bloggers that pieces have turned their skin green and have broken in just a couple months’ time.

Even with my less-than-awesome experience with JewelMint, I was curious about StyleMint. I respect Mary Kate and Ashley’s personal style and taste. Also,the blogger A Girl in Boston had the StyleMint “Venice” tee and I liked how it looked on her. I also got an email from StyleMint for a discount on my first purchase so I decided to give the site a go.

Based on the size chart on StyleMint, I got a size 5/XL. With my shoulder, arms, and bust I usually err on the side of too big with tees to get a flattering and work-appropriate fit. While I felt the cut of the “Venice” tee would be cute with jeans on weekends, I was also hoping to wear it sucked into pencil skirts for an office-worthy ensemble.

As with JewelMint, the purchase arrived quickly and was wrapped with care. At first glance, the tee looked pretty nice – a soft lightweight knit that had a luxe, silky finish. Unlike cheapy big box retailer tees, there was care to have the stripes line up at seams. I liked the neckline – a slim hem that would look appropriate with a blazer or for casual wear.

The other night I tried on my tee… and it was huge. HUGE. The sleeves were so long they went past my fingertips, the neckline gaped and displayed a bra strap, and the swing cut made it look like a maternity piece. With all these Mint sites, returns are accepted but it cannot be worn, washed, must be in its original packaging, you need to contact them for a shipping label, and while shipping is free there is a $5.95 restocking fee.

I looked at the label – 100% cotton (though online it says 50% cotton, 50% modal), though it said to wash on gentle and lie flat to dry. I decided to throw it in the washing machine and dryer in hopes it would shrink. It did – not a lot, but enough to make it wearable. I was pleased to see that the color did not fade, and the knit held up nicely through the machines.

Me in the StyleMint “Venice” tee

Yesterday I wore this tee, and I like it… okay. It’s a beautiful color scheme, and a unique silhouette, but I don’t know if it’s really worth it for a tee sight-unseen, especially with the return process. The swing style is a bit too short to be flattering on most – even my sister agreed that a couple more inches would make the style more wearable (able to tuck in), and more flattering. It’s nothing dramatically awesome, and by looking at this month’s options, I don’t really know if any of them are. While the price is reasonable for a designer brand tee shirt, I don’t really consider StyleMint to be a designer brand, just associated with designers/style icons.  I would rank the quality and style to a store like Gap or LOFT.

These Mint sites are great if you have a pretty standard size or personal style and crave something new each month. However, they can quickly become expensive if you aren’t quick to manage your memberships. Unless you tell them otherwise by the 5th, these sites will charge your card each month, whether or not you purchase anything.

The cancellation process for these different sites vary – for StyleMint you need to call them during business hours, for JewelMint you can send them an email. I sent an email today and within a couple of hours, they replied saying it had been done. I was pleased to find it so simple, no attempt at wooing me back with discount codes, just a cancellation notice and request to rate the customer service experience.

I have not tried ShoeMint because I am a hard-to-fit person. I know certain brands fit me best, and prefer to have the ability to try the shoe on in the store.


Have you joined any of these Mint sites? What are your experiences with the product or the service?

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

Once I got new glasses, I wanted more. A pair of red frames to channel my inner Sally Jesse Raphael, a funky blue or green pair to jazz up all-black ensembles, a funky shape to show personality at the office. I had heard a lot of great things about Warby Parker and decided to try a pair of frames from them.

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

Warby Parker Eyewear’s mission is to offer reasonably-priced fashionable frames. On top of that, for every pair of Warby Parkers sold, a new pair is given to someone in need. Warby Parker is also proud to be a carbon-neutral company.

Warby Parker has a try-on program where you can pick five frames and try them on at home. They will ship the glasses to you for free and offer free return postage; I decided to take advantage of this program and see if I could find a new pair of signature prescription frames.

The Warby Parker site is very easy to navigate; click on your gender and then whether you desire optical or sunglass frames. From there you can choose material, color, frame shape, and width. From experience, I know my face is pretty wide, so I stuck to the medium and wide styles of frames. Since I already have a pair of tortoiseshell frames, I stuck to more unusual colors.

The glasses arrived quickly in a sturdy shipping box, and then a lovely navy linen box. Each pair of glasses was in its own compartment, wrapped in plastic and labeled with its name. Each pair of Warby Parker frames has the brand and style name inside on the temple. I found the quality to be stellar, especially for the price. These frames rival the more expensive designer styles I tried at my nearby glasses shop. The return process is simple – peel off the self-adhesive UPS label and drop it in a nearby UPS drop box. I couldn’t be more impressed with Warby Parker and their process… except that my face is too big for them.

Maybe I should have tried men’s frames, but I felt that almost every pair I tried (except for the Bensen, and they just weren’t a style I was looking for) was just a hair too small for my face. I often have this issue not just with glasses, but sunglasses as well. In fact, when I got my new glasses, they were the only ones I liked after trying on about 20 pairs – each other pair seemed just a bit too small for my face shape, even some of the men’s frames I tried.

So if you have a normal to small-sized noggin, I encourage you to try Warby Parker. The Warby Parker at-home program is completely free so you have nothing to risk; if you find a pair you like you can feel good that not only will you look great, but your purchase will also be doing good. As for me, I will have to look elsewhere, my head is just too big to be hipster.

Note: Warby Parker has no idea I am doing this review and I was not compensated in any way for it.  I just decided to try the brand and share my experience with you!

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Giveaway – Shopbop and 3.1 Phillip Lim

Shopbop.com is a fantastic online shop where you can get designer fashion with free worldwide shipping and free return shipping.  Their variety is amazing – you can find designer necklaces from artists like Alexis Bittar, sunglasses from the ever-fabulous 3.1 Phillip Lim, or clothes from hot designers like Missoni and Rachel Roy.  Seriously, check out the extensive list of designers at Shopbop!

Well Shopbop is offering one My Wardrobe Today reader a $100 gift card to their store!

Saturday

In the morning, I ran to get my hair cut and colored in the nearby town, and then run a few errands. Olive ribbed tank from J. Crew, white ribbed tank from Old Navy, Joe’s Jeans in “Provacateur,” brown stacked flops from J. Crew, silver hoops from The Icing, silver cuff.

Hair was brushed out but on the second day; blew the bangs straight.

Makeup was Body Shop bronzing powder in Light as face color, Max Factor Lash Perfection mascara on curled lashes, Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Pink Afterglow.

Kathleen did her magic – all I told her is that I wanted to go darker and that I wanted heavier bangs. I trust her, and was not disappointed. Choppy layers that can work straight, wavy or curly, fun sideswept bangs, and a very rich multi-tonal color of dark brown that looks closer to what I was born with.

Got home and had to dash to get dressed. Friday night I had a friend over so I didn’t have time to play dress-up and figure out my theater outfit. Thank you soooo much to everyone who wrote in suggestions, you guys are awesome and have good ideas! For the one who suggested my Old Navy dress… I completely forgot about it. I had set to wear my black cashmere tank from Banana Republic and my orange-red shantung full skirt also from Banana (seen here), but when I saw how spiffy and sleek my husband looked (flat front gray tropical wool trousers from J. Crew, white tailored shirt from some brand sold at Mens Wearhouse, black blazer from… J. crew? Not sure…, black slip-on sleek shoes from Ecco) I decided my outfit may look a bit like a costume. I tried a few different skirts, but settled on the black matte jersey dress from Old Navy, my red stone necklace, my leopard peep-toe heels from BCBgirls,silver hoops from The Icing, and silver cuff natch. :-)

Didn’t have to do my hair since it was done by Kathleen my talented stylist. She used the Pureology line on me, and swears by it for protecting color. I bought the shampoo and conditioner and once I can wash my hair (was told to go as long as humanely possible without washing) I will be using it and let you k now how it is.

Same makeup as earlier, just a re-touch of the bronzing powder, a bit of Smashbox Soft Lights in Tint on my cheekbones, a medium line of Maybelline Ultra Liner in black on the top lash line, a quick swipe of Maybelline Great Lash waterproof mascara in black over existing mascara, Body Shop Lip and Cheek Tint with Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Pink Afterglow over it.

We took the Metro and it was not even a block to the little restaurant (I don’t know if there are even 20 tables in the place). The menu seemed different from the one online and the only entrees that were vegetarian were spaghetti with tomato sauce (yawn) and a risotto with corn and truffle shavings. My husband and I chose the risotto, we shared a bottle of Pinot Grigio (not sure the label, our friend chose the wine) and had a nice, yet not inspiring or overwhelmingly unique meal. We then walked not even three blacks to the Kennedy Center where my friend and I sidestepped grates in our heels (she too wore a black sheath and heels) while the men tromped over everything and got there in time to marvel at the acre-sized curtains in the lobby and get a cocktail in the Terrace Bar prior to the performance.

The performance was great! As I said, I had never seen The Phantom of the Opera other than the movie. Back story – 1992, for Christmas I got my first boom box with a CD player in it, and with it two CDs – Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera. For several months until I got my high school arsenal of REM, Depeche Mode, Pearl Jam and Nirvana, I listened solely to these two soundtracks. Come 2007, I am silently singing along to this performance and even a tear came down my cheek at finally seeing live what I had in my head 15 years ago. I think also seeing Shakespeare in Love the night prior made the theater experience that more intense.

Our friends live in Virginia and parked at the theater; it was a gorgeous night and declined their offer to drive us to the Metro and decided to hoof it. All in all a lovely evening!

Tuesday’s Tip – Making the Clearance Rack Your Friend

When I go into a store, the first place I look is the clearance or sale rack. I don’t want to be tempted by full priced items when a good equivalent is available at half the price in the back of the store. Even when planning my wedding I first scored sample sales and discount bridal shops before even looking at a single full-priced gown. It is better to buy quality instead of quantity, but just because it’s on a sale rack does not mean it’s poor quality or lacking style or fashion.


Take Your Time
Clearance racks are a mess. Why waste good salespeople hours in cleaning up the back of the store when the real money making is in the front displays of new product? Because of this, do not limit your search to the section designated with your size. Take the time to flip through all the racks. You may find a size 10 amongst the size 2s or a great size Small blouse hidden amongst size 14 blazers. Grab everything that even remotely appeals to you, and a few things you would not usually consider. The best way to spend money on trendy pieces and unusual finds is to pay for them at a discount – less buyer’s remorse.


Sizes Can Be Deceiving
Sometimes items are on sale racks because they are missized. I have tried on size 6 jackets that are too big for me and size 14s that are skin tight. Don’t just look at the label – pull the item from the rack and see if it may possibly fit. Often the missized items are at a super reduced price because they are being looked over.


Consider a Tailor
I decided to write this post because of my clearance rack prize of yesterday. Sueded cotton trench, hip cut, gorgeous color, originally $179 on sale for $29.99. No obvious flaws but the coat was too large for me – I am petite and it is not. It is an XL and a generous cut, I am not. I bought the awesome bargain after trying it on and seeing that the shoulders were fitting decently, though the sleeves were past my fingers, the waist was too big and the length too long. I took it to my local dry cleaner and for $35 she is shortening the arms and hem and nipping in the waist. So for $65 I got a $179 jacket that is perfect for the upcoming fall.


Sleeves that are too long, hems dragging on the ground, gaping waists and baggy jackets can all be easily fixed by a neighborhood tailor or dry cleaner. They can also replace missing buttons, broken zippers and some torn seams. If the price is right, often the tailoring still keeps the garment at a discounted price. I have bought suiting pants 75% off just because the zipper is broken, a suede blazer at 80% off because the lining had pulled away from the jacket body.


Do not invest in garments that are stained (salespeople usually try to remove the stains with a cleaning fluid, if it’s still stained it probably won’t come out in the wash or at the cleaners), torn (resewing a seam may make the item fit differently), irregular (remember quality is key – no one should be wearing a sweater with two different sleeve lengths) overly large (tailor costs will be insane and the true look of the garment will be lost) or too small (don’t buy for the body you hope to have, buy for the current you. Also tailors can’t make things larger – there’s usually not enough fabric at the seams and if they attempt the fit of the garment will be compromised).


If You Don’t Love It…
Don’t buy it. Would you buy it if it were full price? If the answer is a quick “no” leave the item in the fitting room. Just because an item is cheap does not mean you can scrimp on cut, style or fit. A 50% markdown does not justify a gaping armhole, an unflattering color or even a staple that you really have enough of already. The world sees you and your outfit, not the reduced price. They don’t know if what you bought cost $200 or $20, they just know it doesn’t look good, doesn’t flatter your body or your personality. Every dollar in your wallet is precious, don’t waste it on crap. If you can’t imagine the item with at least two other things in your closet, it’s not worth your time or money.

Wednesday

Black puff-sleeved sweater from Banana Republic (got from their sale rack this past weekend), black and cream knit circle skirt from Rachel Palley, black tights from DKNY, black heeled oxfords from BCBGirls, silver cuff.

Hair is second day, I straightened the bangs, left the rest as bedhead and even in creased the bedhead look by flipping head over and hitting with some hair spray.

Makeup is Napoleon Perdis primer, L’Oreal True Match concealer in W1-3, Benefit’s That Gal, philosophy The Supernatural in Beige, Nars blush in Orgasm, Body SHop’s Sheer Lipcolor in Sheer Pink, Body Shop eye color in Slate on lid, Soft Black in crease and along lash lines. Two coats of Cover Girl’s Lash Blast in black on curled lashes.

Wednesday

Royal blue scoop tee from American Apparel, black and ivory print knit skirt from Rachel Palley, black round toe heels from Jessica Simpson, silver cuff bracelet.

Hair is second day, straightened with straightening iron. Bit of BioSilk on ends to smooth.

Makeup is L’Oreal Bare Naturale foundation in true Beige, Body Shop bronzing powder in Light over cheeks and on collarbone, a bit of Nars blush in Orgasm on apples of cheeks. Eyes is ivory shadow from the Revlon ColorStay shadow quad in inner corners and along brow bone, a bit of taupe shadow from Maybelinne ExpertWear shadow quad in Mocha Motion on lids. Lashes curled and Cover Girl’s Lash Exact mascara in black applied. On lips is L’Oreal’s Glam Shine Sorbet in Jubilee.

Monday

Dark red scoop tee from American Apparel, black and ivory print knit skirt from Rachel Palley, black open-toe heels from Steve Madden, silver cuff bracelet.

Hair was washed the night before and allowed to air dry without product. Bangs blown out dry with round brush, rest of hair had a straightening iron ran through it for a bit of smoothness.

Makeup is MAC MoistureBlend foundation, Body Shop stick concealer, Phycian’s Formula mosiacs bronser for color and powder, a bit of NARS Orgasm blush, on lips is Revlon ColorStay lipcolor in Burgundy. Eyes is Revlon ColorStay shadow quad in neutral – ivory in corners and brow bone, khaki on lid. Two coats of Body Shop Define and Lengthen mascara and Maybelline’s Ultra Liner in black on top lash line.

Seasonless Black Trousers

A pair of black trousers in a seasonless fabric is a necessity to any woman’s wardrobe. What deems a fabric “seasonless?” This means the pants are not wool, they are not cotton. They are most likely a blend of fabrics, usually a good portion synthetic. Ann Taylor has a seasonless fabric they call Triacetate. Express’ seasonless fabric is called Microtwill. J.Crew (and many other brands) calls their version Gabardine. All different fabrics, all seasonless. Maintains it’s shape, often has a bit of stretch, has a slight texture or sheen (great for dressing up and dressing down!), and sort of blends into the background. Not only should these tousers be seasonless, they should be eventless (if that is a word). You want trousers that can go from work to a happy hour to a cocktail party to an interview, to a night club. What cut achieves this? A bootcut leg, not tight, but not Palazzo pants (those pants that look like a skirt on each leg). A tab waist if often a good choice. You never need to worry about a belt, it lies flat under fitted, untucked shirts, yet looks smart with a tucked in oxford. Due to a tab-wait trouser having a wider waistband, it is less likely to cut into the torso, creating a spare tire above the waistline. Very flattering on women with hips, bellies, rears, or straight shapes.

These trousers should not have front pockets. I do not care what your body shape is, front pockets ruin a smooth line and make trousers look more casual and less versatile. These pockets often bow out, wrinkle under the tousers, and look messy. They can make Kate Moss look like Kathy Bates. Back pockets are okay, as long as they are small besom pockets, and not patch pockets (again, detroy the versatility and make the trouser more dated and casual).

Examples of good trousers:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Yes, I said these trousers should be black, but I chose a lighter color so you could see the detail. The bootcut leg adds a modern look to the pant, elongates and slims the leg. This is an example of a tab waist. See how it is a wider waistband, less likely to cut into the middle. The lack of pleats, seaming and pockets in the front minimizes a belly and gives a smooth line. The strong crease down the front elongates the leg and gives a long, lean look. See how you could see these pants with an oxford and matching blazer with pumps for work, a beaded camisole and pointy toed heels for a night club, a cotton v-neck sweater sweater and some boots for a jaunt to the mall. These pants are from Ann Taylor, and are a cotton/rayon/spandex blend (rayon gives it the seasonless fabric, strech gives it the smooth fit wear after wear).

Here is a great example from Lane Bryant:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
These pants are a seasonless nylon/rayon/spandex blend. They are cut just below the waist (reduces the look of tummy bulge), have a bootcut leg, and smooth lower torso. These pants would look great with strappy heels, a beaded shell and matching jacket for a cocktail party, or a merino turtleneck and some crocodile pointy boots for lunch with the girls. At the time of writing this, these trousers are on sale for $20, regularly $45. You really can find stylish classic pieces for a steal at your local mall. I cannot stress this point enough.

The point is that with the right black trousers, you can dress for almost any event. I have black trousers I purchased five years ago, and still wear weekly. They do not have to cost a lot, most of the trousers I buy on sale and get for less than $50.00. Do keep in mind that though a bargain is always great, black trousers is one thing you do not want to look cheap. They will be worn more than most anything else in your wardrobe, so don’t settle for a chintzy fabric with a cheap sheen, a pair that wrinkles easily, isn’t lined, isn’t the right length, the right cut, the right anything. I do believe in buying in bulk. If you find the trousers of your dreams, you may wish to invest in a second pair in black, and possibly a third pair in another versatile color (gray, brown, tan, white). Consider this especially if you buy the matching suit jacket. I purchased a pair of amazing trousers and the matching jacket at Ann Taylor four years ago. I often wore the trousers without the jacket. One day my dog jumped up to greet me as I returned home from work, his claw got caught in the fabric and ended up snagging and tearing the thigh of these coveted trousers. Ann Taylor no longer makes pieces in this same fabric, so I have a lovely well-fitting jacket and no trousers to match. Since then, I always buy two pairs of pants for every suit jacket, allowing one pair for every day wear, and one pair to preserve to wear with the jacket or for special occasions.

As for care of these pants. I will let you know ahead of time that often these pants say “Dry Clean Only.” I DESPISE spending money on dry cleaning. I end up taking my clothes to the cleaners and forget to pick them up for two weeks. Most of the knits and sweaters I purchase I ignore this “Dry Clean Only” label and wash in Woolite on the gentle cycle of my machine and hang to dry. I have tried this with trousers, and rarely have had good luck. They end up wrinkled, losing that nice front crease and long line. They look cheaper, they often get tighter, the legs shorter (often leaving the lining the same length, which is NOT a good look!), the threads weaken, leaving the potential for an embarrassment the next time you sit down. I have a stain remover I actually purchased in the lingerie department of a department store. I spot treat with that or a Shout! Wipe (always have 5 or 6 in my purse – available at your grocery store in the detergent aisle) and then take them to the local discount dry cleaners. Every so often, they get a better cleaning at the higher end dry cleaners. This may seem like a pain, especially if you have children, a busy schedule, a tight budget. I must tell you this is an investment. If you take care of your clothes correctly, they will take care of you in return, looking gorgeous and lasting for years. Though it may be more appealing to buy all clothing that can take a tumble in the washer and dryer, you lose that polished look, that classic look, the look that shows you care what you look like and others should as well. If you can’t go beyond Tumble Dry Low, you will have a hard time following the closet rules of this book.