Search Results for: label/Sabina Leather Bag

Ask Allie: How to Clean a White or Light Leather Bag

I just splurged for a gorgeous cream and beige leather bag. But now I’m wondering, how do I best care for it? I’m almost afraid to take it outside for fear that it would get dirty. Is there a way to treat it so that it lasts longer? And what if I do get a spot on it? Are there any products that I should avoid using on leather?

I have a gorgeous off-white leather bag from Banana Republic, got it for an insanely low price on eBay. A year later I was embarrassed to carry it because it was so dingy and stained, mainly from propping a newspaper on it during my Metro work commute, but also denim dye transfer and a few splashes of coffee. I researched ways to clean it, and if I can offer any advice from my experience, try spot test cleaning the bag now in an inconspicuous spot to see how it reacts so you’re prepared when dirt happens. Below are processes I tried that didn’t ruin the finish of my leather bag:

  • Dish soap diluted in water, gently applied with a soft cloth and quickly blotted dry. This is a good method for occasional cleaning to prevent set-in stains since it’s gentle, easy, and you likely own all you need to do it. Err on the side of too little soap, and the cloth should be slightly damp, not soaking.
  • Spray hair spray and wipe off with a cloth – the hairspray often grabs the stain but not the dye; be sure to wipe off while it’s still damp
  • White Wizard Stain Remover – this stuff is amazing and good to have on hand for all sorts of stains in the closet and around the home
  • Ink stains can come out with a bit of plain white toothpaste and a soft toothbrush (I have a child’s toothbrush just for this); be gentle and try to scrub only the spot because it could affect the finish
  • Equal parts Cream of Tartar and lemon juice (fresh lemon juice seems to be gentler and doesn’t smear as much as bottled) gently rubbed into the stain, left for 10 minutes. Use a rag damp with diluted soap to remove and buff dry with a soft cloth
  • Chamberlain’s Leather Milk – This stuff is gentle and conditions as well as cleans. It’s another great product to have on hand, I’ve used it on our couches, vintage leather coats, boots, and more.

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Last Days of Leather

Blouse: Ann Taylor (similar) | Skirt: eBay (similar) | Booties: Miss Sixty (similar) | Bracelets: Nordstrom, Lauren Ralph Lauren, c/o lifetherapy | Necklace: Lillith” c/o Kristin Biggs, Stella and Dot

While I do believe in spring and summer leather (especially with the perforated styles that are so popular this season), we’re ending the days where I can get away with my black leather skirts. Today it’s going to be in the ’80s and was 70 when these pictures were taken. This skirt is actually cool because the weight has it stand away from the body and work a bit like a sun umbrella for my bottom half, but the look is just too heavy for the warmer months. I originally was going to wear this skirt with this blouse, but it reminded me too much of this outfit, which photographed nicely enough but made me feel like a box of Crayons. So I decided to switch out the skirt and give my heavy black leather a send-off until fall.

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Thursday: Laid Back Leather

Sweater: Ann Taylor | Pants: Ann Taylor (similar) | Shoes: MICHAEL Michael Kors | Necklace: “Lilith” c/o Kristin Biggs, Stella and Dot | Bracelet: c/o IN PINK

Today I got to work at 7am, which means I left the house at 6am, which means I got dressed in the dark while the rest of the family slept. On days like this I usually stick to a uniform – knit top, cardigan, slim knit pants or jeans and tall boots. This morning, one pair of boots was at the cobbler, another pair needed to be polished after being worn in salt and snow and all my jeans were sitting wet in the washing machine. So I slapped on my pleather pants and low heels. I had a good big hair day so was feeling very rock and roll though I only saw a dimly lit reflection in the mirror.  These pictures were taken around 3pm; I came home early for an appointment – sprayed some Neil George Detangler, scrunched and had Karl take a couple shots before I headed to the doctor. Not exactly what I envisioned at 6am and surely not in as crisp of condition, but at least it is more interesting than another striped shirt/slouchy sweater jacket or looped scarf/skinny jeans/tall black boots combo!

Speaking of looped scarf, I wear my “Ziraffe” from Nepali by TDM Designs at least once a week, I think it’s such a cool pattern and great accent to neutral ensembles. A few of you commented and emailed regarding the price of the scarves (though the price is for a good reason – learn more about the company in this previous post of mine), so Nepali by TDM Designs is offering Wardrobe Oxygen readers 25% off with the promo code wardrobeoxygen. This even works on their sale department where you can find scarves that originally retailed for $125 for as low as $25. If you don’t see any styles you like, check out their grab bag feature – you get to pick out the color and they pick the design (both current and past seasons) and grab bags can include bamboo, silk, cashmere, cotton, or wool scarves. Pretty sweet!

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What’s In My Bag?

This weekend when I was taking pictures of my haul from the Hobo International sample sale, I figured I should take some pictures of what is inside my own purse!

The bag of the day was my leather hobo from Sabina:

This is what I carry on a regular day – the only thing missing is my engagement calendar. Yes, I am living in 2011 and still carry a paper calendar (with small address book in the back of it)! Calendar missing because my husband was borrowing it to make sure he and I were on same page for the next few weekends.

  • I learned from my sister to keep everything in pouches for easy switching of bags and organization of tiny items.The aqua pouch (a freebie from an Estee Lauder gift with purchase) is for cosmetics, the leopard faux fur (bought at Arden B in the late ’90s) is for my “emergency kit.”  
  • The sunglass case carries my silver aviators from Ray-Ban – classic, lightweight, my regular go-to shades.  
  • The black box with the teardrop on it are my business cards – I got them from MOO and the box has little dividers so in there I can store my mini cards, my full-size cards, and my “real job” cards.  I also have a place to store cards I collect from networking events.
  • I always carry two memory cards – when my husband takes my picture in the morning I hand him one, he takes the pics, gives it back to me and I edit photos on my lunch hour at work.
  • Eclipse gum – it was on sale at the grocery store and I have a dozen of these packets everywhere.  I like that they can’t fall out of the case and get all grody on the bottom of my bag.
  • Two retractable pens so they don’t ink up the inside of my bag
  • SmarTrip card – a given if you live in the DC area.
  • A notepad to capture ideas, SKU numbers so I can go online and find it cheaper, and random ideas.  I have had this same notepad for years and love going through it and remembering different moments in the past.
  • My wallet – you can see the inside of it at this post.
  • Keys – I used to have a bigger keyring, complete with a flash drive but recently simplified.  House, car, office.  The rest are stored at home.
  • Camera and phone.  A given.
  • Not seen – my snack.  I usually carry a 100-calorie pack of almonds or a Weight Watchers bar in my bag to I don’t succumb to a high-fat treat in a moment of weakness, but had yet to replace from eating the last one a couple days prior.

The contents of the leopard pouch – hair thingies when I can’t take it any longer, a Tide-to-Go pen because I am always spilling on myself, contacts rewetting drops, Bliss Spa lotion (this has a smell that doesn’t make me want to gag), a lighter (I don’t smoke but back from my wedding coordinator days I carry one because there always seems to be a situation where one can be useful), BodyGlide (for days when my shoes or thighs are rubbing), Sephora comb (the BEST! My sister got this for me one year for Christmas and it doesn’t cause static like other plastic combs.), face wipes (they also take off makeup, and have even taken stains off clothes in a pinch), crayons (have toddler, will entertain).  I usually have a few quarters in here as well in case of an unexpected parking meter.

My cosmetics pouch, which is in need of replacement – Urban Decay De-Slick (for oil slicks without too much makeup), Philosophy The Supernatural in Beige (for long days as a makeup refresher – goes over other makeup without looking cakey), Colgate Wisps (I keep a toothbrush and paste in my office, but when out and can’t brush I always have a couple of these in my bag), Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm in Rose (works as a blush in a pinch), two Smashbox lip glosses (one bright pinkish red – Tease, one shimmery sheer pink – Radiant), black Avon eye pencil, DiorShow black mascara, Tarte Indellible Wink in black (black shadow on one side, liquid liner on the other).  With this kit, I can redo my face before an after-work event, freshen up my face mid-day, or easily take a day look and glam it up for evening.

***

Not too exciting.  I keep my purse pretty simple and organized, even more so now that I have a child.  With Emerson I often also carry a wetbag with some cloth wipes and a diaper in case of emergencies, a sippy cup, a couple toys, maybe a pair of mittens.  It’s far easier to keep her stuff separate from mine by having all my stuff compartmentalized. On a work day, I may also add a book, a small travel umbrella, and my travel mug after consuming my coffee (I put a page from the newspaper in it to keep it from leaking and then can compost or recycle the paper at the end of the day)

How do you keep your bag organized?  If you have a post about the contents of your bag, be sure to link to it in the comments!

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Little Bits of Luxury: Leather Gloves

I remember as a child, my mom always had cashmere-lined leather gloves for winter. They fit her… well like a glove! I would try them on and they didn’t fit; though I had smaller hands at the time, the gloves had molded to her slender fingers, the shape of her palm. I felt having gloves like this, ones that winter after winter became more and more of a custom fit was an example of elegance, being a stylish adult.

And now I am an adult, and I own three pairs of cashmere-lined leather gloves. I have a pair of Coach ones I found at TJ Maxx almost a decade ago, a pair from Nordstrom that are “tech” and let me use my smartphone without removing my gloves, and a bright purple pair that my mom bought me for Christmas a few years ago. A few years ago I had the opportunity to check out a new Nordstrom Rack and they provided me with a gift card to enjoy it. One of the things I bought with it was something I wouldn’t normally buy but had always wanted – elbow-length leather gloves (with a knit insert for better fit). I received a vintage broadtail lamb coat from my semi-grandmother and the coat has bracelet-length sleeves and begged for longer leather gloves. I’ve only worn the gloves with the coat once (my life isn’t exciting enough for regular wears of vintage fur) but I felt so glamorous with the combination.

Cashmere-lined leather gloves just SOUND like a luxury, and they can be extremely pricey. But if well cared for, a pair can last you for many many years. And there are ways to find them for far less:

  • Shop off-season. Right now department stores have their winter accessories on sale. This is when you can find leather gloves for half price. Just look at the selection currently available at Nordstrom and Macy’s!
  • Shop discount stores. TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Nordstrom Rack, Overstock… such places are brilliant for accessories like gloves. They always seem to have a good supply and you can find some real gems like unique colors or designer brands for low prices.
  • Quality, not quantity. My mom only owned one pair, and when they got too worn we would get her a new pair for Christmas. There’s no need for 50 pairs in different colors and styles, one pair is enough and can be your signature look and have the time to mold to perfectly fit only your hands. Take your time, find a pair that is the color, the shape, the material that best fits your personality and winter wardrobe. Don’t use them for making snowmen or clearing off your car (I have a cheapy water resistant pair in my glove compartment just for that), but wear them otherwise with gusto, knowing each wear makes them more and more perfect just for you.

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What’s In My Bag: Forecastle Edition

This is the second in a series about my experience at the Forecastle Music Festival. I already wrote about what I wore, I will also be writing a festival recap.

For my first Bonnaroo, I purchased the Kelty “Tecate” hydration pack. I wanted something small that would fit pretty much between my shoulder blades, and this did the trick. Problem is, once the bag has a full bladder of water, there’s not much room to hold anything else. Over time, I have switched to attaching a Camelbak reusable bottle to the bag’s strap with a carabineer – this makes it easy to refill, I can take a sip without detaching the bottle, and I have plenty of backpack space for festival necessities.

Since 2007, this bag has attended four Bonnaroos, a trip to Vermont, various hikes around the region, a few smaller local festivals and now Forecastle. My husband says it’s bad luck to wash your hydration backpack; I have only washed it once when a bottle of bug spray exploded in it. It was fun to pull it out of the closet and see it still coated in Tennessee dust from Bonnaroo 2011. The buttons I have gathered from different festivals – I lost two since last Bonnaroo and will have to get some new good ones soon!

This year my husband and I said we were “festing like a boss.” Over time we have learned what is a necessity, and what is superfluous; what will increase our comfort level without leaving us burdened with a heavy bag. Never during the festival did I feel I lacked for anything, and had many people wanting to try out our chairs!

What’s in my Bag:

  • Packable poncho. My sister got this one for me several years ago from Bed Bath and Beyond; it’s fun to have a change from the typical blue, yellow, or clear ponchos and it’s a ripstop fabric that has held up nicely over the years.
  • Alite chair. This thing is totally awesome. It’s the size of a Camelbak reusable bottle and not only fit in my Kelty bag, but also the J. Crew tote I carried the first night. Not too tall to piss off those in the field behind you, but tall enough to keep you out of the mud and dirt; you can also recline in it for a very comfy outdoor concert experience!
  • Sunglass case. I wore my sunglasses until sunset, but didn’t want to get them scratched or lost. Ray Ban makes a nice slimline case that makes it easy to fit in the bag. I also had the cleaning cloth tucked in it.
  • Saline solution. I used to carry moisturizing eye drops, but usually I just need something to wash funk out of my contacts or rehydrate if it has been a long day. I have found that saline solution does it better.
  • Barrettes and elastics. I start the day with hair down, but if it gets too hot, too sweaty, too whatever it’s nice to be prepared. I usually do a messy updo and clip back my bangs, but I always want extras in case I lose or break one, or if a fellow attendee is in need.
  • Safety pins. I even take a couple diaper pins which could secure heavier fabrics or even hang things from my backpack.
  • Pen and Sharpie. Pen to jot things down or share info with new friends, Sharpie in case I meet an artist and want their autograph.
  • Plain lip balm. With SPF.
  • Tinted lip balm. Give the sweaty bare face a hint of color.
  • Philosophy mineral foundation. This is only there in case I get a chance to say, meet a musician and get a photo op, go backstage, end up leaving and going to a place where a sweaty bare face may be a bit much. It can go on sans mirror and look like me, just a bit more polished and it doesn’t itch or drip when I sweat.
  • Gum. One pack of minty, one pack fruity. A day in the heat, drinking a lot of water and the occasional beer can leave a gross feeling and taste in your mouth. Gum is amazing, and you can make a ton of friends by offering gum to those around you!
  • Business cards. To share contact information with new friends.
  • Face sunscreen. Small so it fits in the bag, dry so it will go on the face and stay there. One in our group will carry a can of spray sunscreen for all of us for the day.
  • Comb. My sister got this one for me from Sephora and I adore it.
  • Non-essential wallet stuff. On my person will be my ID, cash, and credit card. However, in my bag I will have things such as my insurance card or fan club membership card and festival schedule.

Not seen: carabineer holding my Camelbak water bottle

And here’s how everything fits in the bag. There’s still room to fit a can of sunscreen, a bandanna, a snack. There’s bungees on the back so I can attach a tee shirt if I buy one, or even strap my empty water bottle back there (I tuck the base in the mesh pocket to keep it from jangling around). Sometimes I take a waterproof blanket or groundcloth instead of a chair; for that I usually bungee it to the outside of the pack. If I know I will be using grody porta-potties I will have a sandwich bag of Clorox wipes and one of toilet paper.  If it’s a more rural festival, I will also pack a headlamp.

Wearing my backpack with Camelbak bottle attached – hands free to dance… or enjoy a beer!

My husband says I look like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle with my “shell” on my back, but it’s very comfortable, doesn’t dig into my shoulders, nicely disperses the weight, and I can dance without having to put my stuff on the ground.

I know many may find this to be excessive; I see many a festival attendee having a great time with just that which is in their pockets or a small crossbody bag. And it’s true, you can have a blast without all these creature comforts. I personally like to have these creature comforts so I can better enjoy the shows and not have to spend unexpected cash on things like disposable ponchos or bottles of water. It works for me, and it helped me have a fantastic time at Forecastle!

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What’s In My Bag? Clutch Edition

Yesterday I carried a clutch to work and a reader emailed me asking,

How can you carry such a small bag to work? My work bag is almost the size of a suitcase to hold all I need, and yesterday there was a chance of rain in DC. I’d love to see what is in your clutch and smaller bags so I can see how I can pare down my own work bag. Thanks Allie!

Yesterday I carried this bag:

And here are the contents:

  • Sunglasses (not in case which I don’t recommend on a regular basis)
  • Comb
  • Keys
  • SolarOil for my cuticles (trying to stop chewing them, and this helps keep them soft and less pick-able)
  • Umbrella
  • Urban Decay De-Slick powder
  • Engagement calendar with address book
  • Two phones (work and personal)
  • Retractable ball-point pen

In the pockets I have:

  • SmarTrip card
  • Check card, emergency credit card, driver’s license, insurance and AAA cards, cash
  • Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Rose (the lip color I wore yesterday)
  • Kohl eye pencil (what I wore yesterday)
  • Tide-to-Go pen
  • One Kleenex 
  • Camera memory card

So while it doesn’t hold all my regular purse contents, it’s everything I need for a day away from home!

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What’s In My Bag? (and what is in yours?)

I shared the contents of my purse a few months ago and since have realized the post took at a very minimalist point of my life. 2012 has been extremely busy, many days where I would be away from the home for 12 hours or more, traveling to three different locations without being able to stop home. Because of that, my purse contents have grown.

Today I am carrying my yellow leather tote from Nordstrom (last seen here). I love this bag because it’s more polished looking than a reusable tote, but can carry just as much. Along with all these contents, I also had a frozen meal and a return to Ann Taylor tucked in here, and could still fit the bag comfortably over my shoulder. I highly recommend Nordstrom brand bags – they are well made, stylish without being trendy, free of logos, and very reasonably priced (I got this one on clearance).

The contents of my bag:

I used to carry crayons for Emerson, but they got really grody over time. Lately she has been so creative, she can make a toy out of the most random things; I can give her a napkin and a pen and she has a blast.  However, you can usually find a small toy or action figure deep in the bottom of most of my purses.  My Metro SmarTrip card is in my jacket pocket, or else it would be in that front pocket with my keys!

So what’s in your purse?  I’d love to see – if you decide to do a blog post or Twitter pic sharing the contents of your bag, come back here and leave a link in the comments!

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Breaking Fashion Rules – Patent Leather and Suede

Dear Allie,
I see you wearing your black patent leather Mary Janes all winter long – I was told that patent leather is a material that should only be worn in warmer months. I am from New England, maybe the rule is different in the South?

Hi Allie,
I am seeing lots of suede sandals, and I have several pairs of suede pumps, including peep toe. Is suede in summer OK? (I live in Florida, btw.) It always seems like a “winter” material to me, but maybe I’m wrong.

Ah, yet another situation where I believe rules are often meant to be broken!

When rules like these (and the ones about navy or brown pairing with black) were created, fashion was far more black and white. Trends were far more specific, there were fewer options available for purchase, and fewer True Fashionistas who pushed boundaries and changed the rules for the rest of us.

Patent Leather
Unlike what many fashion Websites and bloggers state, it was NEVER considered a material specific to fall and winter. The original fashion rule was that unless you were under six years of age, patent leather was only to be worn from Easter to Labor Day.

Women who wear patent in winter: Keira Knightley, Michelle Obama, and Mary-Kate Olsen
Via {here} and {here} and {here}

These days, patent leather shoes come in a variety of styles, many far more appropriate for the winter months. With patent leather, the style more than the fabric dictates whether the shoes is seasonally appropriate. I have a pair of black patent peeptoes that will not see the light of day until Spring, yet I wear my black patent Mary Janes with a dark red chunky heel almost weekly during the colder months. The difference is that the Mary Janes have a wintry feel with the heavy heel in a dark color and the closed toe.

Mary Janes are the perfect cold-weather patent shoe. In black they are a fun option for dresses and tights, and a dark color like plum or Bordeaux will add a much-needed pop of color on a dreary December day. Patent leather booties can add dimension to a monochromatic pants ensemble, and croco-embossed patent heeled loafers are a great contrast to tweed and heavier fabrics.

Pairing patent leather shoes with opaque hose continues the wintry feel and makes the shoe even more seasonally appropriate. This does not mean you can “winterize” any patent shoe with a pair of heavy tights – consider the silhouette first, then accessorize. A rule of thumb – if there is the opportunity for a lot of exposed foot (slingbacks, peeptoes, strappy, etc.), the shoe would probably look more appropriate come spring.

Suede
Suede was another fabric that collected dust in the back of the closet until the Tuesday after Labor Day. However the past decade has turned this rule on its head. Suede these days has become a big player in Spring runway collections and now the appearance of suede in stores usually means that spring is right around the corner.

Women rocking suede in summer: Kate Moss, Kate Hudson, Blake Lively
via {here} and {here} and {here}

The way to make suede look appropriate for summer months is to look to the designers who have made is warm-weather appropriate. They haven’t used suede willy-nilly, but have been very specific with the use.

For suede to look appropriate in summer, it needs to feel light. Colors like tan, beige, and light gray; strappy open styles that expose a lot of skin; lightweight suedes that drape on the body and are truly comfortable and wearable in warmer months.

I have a pair of nude suede platform peeptoes that I can’t wait to wear come spring – they are the perfect shoe for brightly colored sundresses, and look great with denim. I used to have a tan suede “denim” jacket that was my favorite spring coat – it was soft, lightweight, and looked great over dresses or paired with casual jeans.

This doesn’t mean all suede looks great for warmer months – again it’s about making it look seasonally appropriate. A pair of black suede boots or brown suede platform pumps would look terribly out of place when paired with bare legs and breezy cotton dresses – keep the silhouette appropriate to the season and the fabric will usually work as well.

Not Fashion Related: Creating a Bug Out Bag

So the world didn’t end on December 21st. I never thought it would, but all the hype did get me thinking about the future. While I do think my family and I have a good plan for hurricanes and natural disasters, we never had prepared Bug Out Bags (also known as Go Bags). A Bug Out Bag is a bag you have prepped that will take care of you if you have to leave your house without notice and get by sans creature comforts for three days or so. This could be for a zombie apocalypse, alien takeover, Mayan apocalypse… just kidding, it’s for situations you don’t even want to imagine but could happen. Even FEMA suggests that everyone have a bag at the ready to get out of Dodge just in case. So this past month, I created Bug Out Bags for my family.

If you Google Bug Out Bag or Go Bag you will find a kazillion ideas on what is necessary in such a bag; each person’s needs are different and your needs will vary based upon your climate, family, health, and personal needs. In fact, Googling such a topic may freak you out a bit – there’s some major doomsday preppers out there and their “necessities” may be scary and/or overwhelming. I see a Bug Out Bag as less something to protect me on the Oregon Trail or from an alien takeover and more something to keep me and my family safe and healthy during a disaster until we have a safe and healthy place to rest.

I honestly don’t see what the harm is in preparing for a disaster in this way. I’d rather be safe than sorry, especially now that I have a human life for which I am responsible. We have stored our Bug Out Bags where we keep our emergency supplies (which is also where we meet in the house in case of an emergency). Nothing in the bags will expire any time soon nor is needed on a daily basis. Here is an example of what I have in our bags.

Adult Bug Out Bag: While online lists will encourage you to buy a Molle or Alice military backpack, you can honestly use any bag you have around the house. Again, something is better than nothing, and it doesn’t make sense to go into debt for something you hopefully will never need to use.  My bag is a backpack I already owned but never use. You don’t want it so heavy you can’t run or walk long distances in it, and something that will be comfortable when worn for long periods of time. Chest and waist straps will help with comfort and support.  Some things you may want in your bag:

  • Change of clothes (something easy to get on and off, warm if you’re in a cold climate, and something that can dry quickly or handle the elements)
  • Poncho (if you get a sturdy reusable one it can double as a tarp or a makeshift tent)
  • Flashlight (a crank one is great so you don’t have to reply on batteries)
  • Water (at least three liters)
  • Food (Clif bars, bags of tuna, Datrex bars, something that won’t spoil but has lots of energy)
  • Toilet paper
  • N95 Respirator face masks (sounds scary, I know, but I even would have liked these during the dusty years at Bonnaroo)
  • A sleeping bag (get one for backpackers since it will be light and take up less space)
  • Mylar blankets
  • Immodium AD, some pain reliever, and any meds you or your children are on
  • Bandanna
  • Purification tablets for water
  • Swiss Army Knife and/or multitool
  • I have some paracord, heavy-duty diaper pins, duct tape, dental floss, needles and a pair of cuticle scissors to be able to mend and jimmy-rig things if need be
  • Fire starter/waterproof matches
  • First aid kit
  • Waterproof note pad and pen
  • A metal cup or small container (like from a Boy Scout mess kit) to carry food and water and heat if necessary
  • Toothpaste and brush, some sort of soap (I like Dr. Bronner’s because it can be used for body, hair, and even clothes and dishes), feminine care needs, pack of personal wipes, hand santitizer or sanitizing wipes
  • Can opener (these are tiny, cheap, and get the job done)
  • Compass
  • A couple trash bags and Ziploc bags
  • Weather radio (even better if it’s solar or crank-powered so you don’t have to worry about batteries)
  • Phone charger (in case you get to somewhere with electricity; I also have this solar charger but I don’t always keep it in my bag)
  • Emergency whistle

Child Bug Out Bag: If your child is old enough to wear a backpack, he should have his own bag. You want to keep it light and comfortable, and be less about survival and more about a feeling of normalcy in an emergency situation. Emerson has this bag from Deuter, which will also make for a great backpack for school, camping, or everyday. I taught her it is an emergency camping bag; I had her try it on, snapped the chest strap and we ran around the main floor of the house playing chase to see if she could wear it and move quickly yet comfortably. I also had her try the whistle and told her the whistle is when she gets separated from us when camping. She now knows that if we need to go emergency camping, she is to wear this bag, but didn’t get freaked out about the whole process.  Some things good for a kid’s bug out bag:

  • Change of clothes
  • Diapers or pull-ups (if applicable) or toilet paper
  • A small favorite toy or two
  • A paperback book
  • Crayons and coloring book
  • Emergency whistle
  • Small flashlight
  • Water
  • Poncho
  • Food (unlike we adults who understand the importance over flavor, it’s good to have some snacks your kid would like – granola bars, fruit leather, candy that won’t melt, honey sticks, crackers, etc.  If younger, have formula/baby food.)
  • Laminated card with parents’ names, address and phone numbers as well as a couple other contact folks who are further away (relative in neighboring state, family friend in town an hour away)
  • Face mask
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste, little pack of moist wipes/personal cleansing cloths
  • If your child is big enough to carry it, you can add a child’s backpacking sleeping bag


Office Bug In Bag: What if you’re at work in the city when something happens? Do you have what you need to be able to get back home to safety? I know my office is about 17 miles from home and I know two walking routes to get there. I have a bag with these things at the ready in case I need to hoof it out of the city:

  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Compass/map
  • Knife/multitool
  • Poncho
  • Face mask
  • Mylar blanket (while it can keep you warm, it’s reflective and can also be used as a beacon)
  • Water
  • Food
  • Headlamp
  • First aid kit
  • Personal care (hand sanitizer, toilet paper, etc.)
  • Bandanna

There are likely things that are missing and things I would never use if such a situation would occur, but I can sleep a bit better at night knowing that my family is a bit prepared if the worst were to happen.  Many of these things you can find at your local CVS or grocery store or may already be hanging around your home. Many of these things I found on Amazon for ridiculously low prices. I know most Bug Out Bag lists online have far more on them than my list, but I am working with my budget, my ability to carry a bag, and I guess a little bit of hope.  It’s better to have some than none, so create as much of a bag as you can with the funds and supplies you currently have.

Update your bag every few months switching out things that expire, cold weather necessities (gloves, hat, hand warmers) for warm weather ones (sunscreen, bug spray, sun hat), etc. This way you also remember what is in the bag and what you may want to add/remove as your life changes. Remind your family about where to meet in case of an emergency, and the importance of leaving these bags alone so they are always at the ready. It may seem a bit obsessive, but a little preparation now could save you if, in the words of preppers, the SHTF in the future.

UPDATE: I can’t believe I forgot to mention a pet bug-out bag!  We have food, water, and collapsible bowls for Cindy plus a leash; don’t forget that your pets too need sustenance in an emergency!  Thank you all for the reminder!

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Ask Allie: Styling a Brown Leather Jacket Four Ways

I have a lovely brown leather jacket. However, I don’t wear it as often as I’d like because I’m unsure of how to pair it with my mainly black and grey wardrobe. Any tips to point a girl in the right direction?

There is nothing more chic than pairing brown leather with other neutrals like gray and black. In fact, this look is very on trend this season, giving a luxe and casually refined look. I’m not sure what type of jacket you own, so I chose a pretty neutral style for some sample outfits. Hopefully these examples will show that in fact, a brown leather jacket is a perfect pairing for your mainly black and gray wardrobe!

When I previously wrote about breaking the old rule of pairing black with brown, I used a picture of Anne Hathaway. I have always remembered how classic and chic she looked in a brown leather jacket, black turtleneck, jeans, and tall brown boots. I did a variation of this look considering you likely don’t have much brown in your wardrobe. This look uses brown as an accent color just as you would blue or red. With a base of black and gold accessories, the brown is luxe and the quality and style of the jacket is the focal point.  I added a dark shadow for a smoky eye which adds toughness and a current trend. This sort of look could easily be changed with traditional indigo denim, or brown boots of any height.

Shop this look: Jacket  | Pants | Shirt | Belt | Necklace | Bracelet | Flats

 One of my favorite ways to wear my leather jackets is to pretend they are blazers. It’s a great way to give your jacket some more mileage and make it work-friendly. A white shirt tucked into gray trousers is a classic and elegant look as well as a perfect base for interesting accessories. Leopard flats are brilliant because they are neither black nor brown, neither suede nor leather. This way you don’t need to try to figure out what to pair with a unique color jacket or when you’re mixing neutrals. I added a skinny belt in the same color as the jacket to make it look more like a blazer and less like outerwear; gold accessories add elegance and keep the look from being too masculine.

Shop this look: Jacket  | Jeans | SweaterNecklace | Ring | Boots

I think this ensemble clearly shows how chic brown looks with gray. A simple cashmere or merino crewneck and narrow jeans is a weekend classic; pair with brown boots of any height for a cohesive look. A pearl necklace adds a glamorous touch and makes the neutral combo look even more luxe.

Shop this look: Jacket  | Sweater Dress | Earrings | Scarf | Lipstick | Boots

This ensemble shows how a leather jacket can be paired with a skirt or dress. I chose a black sweater dress but this could be switched for a sheath or shift dress in black or gray. A silk scarf that incorporates the color of the jacket pulls the separates together into an actual outfit; pairing the scarf with riding boots gives an equestrian feel which is both timeless and in style this season. Simple gold earrings and an on-trend dark red lip completes the look.

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Blogger Favorite Beauty Buys of 2013: Mixed Bag Edition!

At the end of each year, I share what I found to be the best beauty buys from the past 12 months. Some are new products, some are just new to me. Many of you tell me you find the posts incredibly helpful, and I must say I also find them helpful when I read them on other blogs. This year, I decided to ask my favorite bloggers to share their single favorite beauty product from 2013 and I must say their choices have made my shopping list a mile long! I was honored to have so many bloggers share their faves, I have broken it down into six editions; this one is the lovely women who couldn’t narrow it down to one item.  Be it for the lips, eyes, face, or even fragrance, here’s their top picks:

“I’m a bit of a whore for concealer and my favorite this year by far is Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer. It’s super pigmented and stays put so it’s great for undereye circles. Like Marianne (see below), I’m fickle when it comes to makeup but I’ve rebought Maybelline The Colossal Mascara several times this year and it’s definitely become a staple. It’s black-black, holds curl and it’s cheap! Finally, Clinique Almost Lipstick in Chic Honey is my favorite lip product of 2013. This color is a bit of an update on the classic Black Honey, but still sheer and easy to apply in the car without a mirror when you’re running late to work. (Um, not that I do this. Much.)”

“For skin, Kiehl’s Midnight Midnight Recovery Concentrate. It’s not cheap, but a little bit goes a very long way, and a small bottle lasts forever. It smells amazing, and my finicky skin feels like the proverbial baby’s bottom in the morning.

For color, Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Romantic. Your recommendation, obvi, and one of my finds ever. So much impact for so little money – and key for this lazy makeup girl – so little effort. A few swipes (so easy to apply, it’s mirrorless), plus a pat or two of powder, and I go from exhausted mama to grownup.”

- Alison, DC Celine

- Angelica, Clarendon Moms

“My favorite beauty buy is Parachute coconut oil. I am obsessed with what it does for my hair and skin. I have always heard about all the benefits of coconut oil but like everything I assumed it was just a lot of hoopla. I have naturally dry hair and skin (probably because I dont drink enough water) and this has been a life saver.

I also am in love with Pink Sugar Eau de Toilette. I was at the movies a few months ago and this lady sat next to me and I immediately was drawn to the way she smelled. So much so that I just had to ask what she was wearing. She told me about this perfume and I immediately got on the internet and was ordering it. It definitely has a super sweet scent but everyone remarks positively on it.”

- Jennifer, Comme Coco

“I’m a pretty fickle pickle when it comes to beauty products, constantly moving from one favorite to the next, but for 2013 a few products stand out. First of all, my Clarisonic Mia has been a game changer. I almost feel like I wasn’t getting my face completely clean before I started using it. On the makeup front, I switched to a full coverage foundation (Smashbox Studio Skin 15 Hour Wear Foundation) and whoa. It looks natural, stays on ALL day, and I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to tinted moisturizers! Lastly, this year I splurged on the Urban Decay Naked2 Palette and I use it almost every day. I love that I can go from natural to dramatic all in one product, and the colors are rich and lasting.”

“My Favorite Beauty Buy: Kiehl’s Mint Lip Balm. This lip balm is the best remedy for chapped lips and it also smells divine. I wear it all the time. I also use a tiny bit before applying lipstick especially during the winter months.

Lola’s Favorite 2013 Beauty Buy was Kiehl’s Cuddly-Coat Grooming Shampoo. After a luxurious 5-minute bath with this shampoo, Lola feels beautiful and her coat is incredibly soft and shiny.”

- Rosa (and Lola!), Rosa Loves DC

I always say I learn the most from you, readers.  Some of my Holy Grail beauty products are ones you recommended in the comments.  So let me and everyone else know, what were your best skincare buys in 2013?

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My Wardrobe Today – Monday

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

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

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

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

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What I Wore: Time for Tights

Sweater: Halogen | Skirt: Halogen (similar) | Tights: Spanx | Shoes: Nine West “Lottie”  | Necklace: Etsy | Bag: Sabina (similar)

I can’t believe it, finally it feels like fall!  This morning I woke up and could see my breath!  Out came the tights for the first time, and I felt quite comfy wearing leather and cashmere!

This bag was bought on clearance last year and I adore it because it can hold EVERYTHING. Lunch, hardcover book, sunglasses and glasses, bills to pay at lunchtime, power cord I need to bring back to the office… you name it, it’s in there and the bag doesn’t stretch out or look overloaded.  Good clearance buy!

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What I Wore and a Giveaway – Ruth Barzel Jewelry Design

Shirt: c/o Foxcroft | Jeans: Gap | Shoes: Halogen (similar) | Necklace: c/o Ruth Barzel Jewelry Design | Watch: Citizen c/o WatchCo | Bag: Brahmin (similar)

Accessories can transform the most basic wardrobe staples and make pieces a cohesive outfit. I just received this necklace from Ruth Barzel Jewelry Design and while it is BEGGING to be styled with an LBD for the holidays or worn with a beautiful silk blouse, I thought it could really make a statement with a simple white shirt and dark jeans. I haven’t carried my Brahmin bag in a while, and I thought the bright blue really made the emerald necklace pop!

Giveaway:

If you like this necklace and the other beautiful pieces I have featured from Ruth Barzel Jewelry Design, well today’s your lucky day! One Wardrobe Oxygen reader will win a $100 store credit to Ruth Barzel Jewelry Design!

Ruth Barzel makes all her unique pieces in the United States and is a local-yokel to me.  Not only that, she’s an awesome human being!  While I love the Emerald Quartz Nugget Statement Necklace I’m wearing here, I also love wearing her Blue Quartz Pendant Necklace and wear her Mixed Metal Chain Bracelet on a weekly basis. Ruth has offered all Wardrobe Oxygen readers 20% off her entire store, just use code OXYGEN20.  This discount will be in effect until the end of November, 2013.

How to Enter:
Please use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. This contest is open to both US and international readers. Contest ends November 30, 2013 at midnight ET.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
As a reminder, if you can’t wait for the giveaway to end and want to get yourself some jewelry from Ruth Barzel, use the code OXYGEN20 at checkout for 20% off your order!

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Monday: The Wild Frontier

Sweater: Frontier Sweater” c/o Lisa Holt, CAbi
Skirt: Halogen (similar)
Tights: DKNY Super Opaque
Shoes: Miss Sixty (similar)
Bag: Sabina (similar)

Yesterday I had the chance to pour over the latest collection for CAbi and there are so many gorgeous textures, silhouettes, and prints! My consultant Lisa Holt loaned me a few pieces to test drive this week, one was this sweater. At first glance I didn’t think I’d like it, but it fits great and I love a cardigan that looks good buttoned up (so many lose their style when you try to stay warm). The pictures don’t do the sweater justice, it gave me an hourglass shape so I emphasized it with my short pleated leather skirt.

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What I Wore: Slithering Snake

Jacket: Halogen (similar) | Sweatshirt: c/o CAbi | Jeans: Gap | Shoes: Fitzwell (similar) | Necklace: c/o Kristin Biggs, Stella and Dot | Bracelets: Nordstrom (similar), had forever | Lipstick: Revlon Matte in Wine Not | Bag: Banana Republic via eBay (similar)

CAbi recently contacted me and asked if I’d like to style a few of their pieces. Yes please! I have been a fan of CAbi for a long while since my dear friend Lisa became a consultant for CAbi and introduced me to the line. The clothes fit so well, it always amazes me that my petite curvy frame can rock the same CAbi pieces as my tall slim friend Lisa. I decided to take this opportunity to try a few things that aren’t typically me and asked to try their Dressed Up Sweatshirt. Gotta say I like it! It’s sheer so I have a black cami underneath, but not super sheer that it looks inappropriate at the office. I love the mixed pattern, and am always a sucker for any animal or snakeskin print. I originally imagined this top with their Fleather Skirt (which I also got and adore and will feature soon), but today I was feeling more relaxed and decided to pair it with dark denim.

I can’t recommend eBay for bags enough.  There’s so many people out there who buy and baby bags and then tire of them after a season or so.  I wanted a plain black leather tote that could pack into a suitcase if need be, but look nice enough for work.  I found this one on eBay; the leather is super soft, it’s unfinished inside which makes it light and easy to pack but the straps are thick and sturdy.  Single pocket inside to hold keys and cell phone, structured bottom, straps that fit over a winter coat and a magnetic closure.  All that for $20 and it even came in a dust bag.  If you know a certain brand or even style number/name search eBay before paying retail and you can save big.

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What I Wore: Blame Megan

size 14 petite blog latico red purse stripe dress
Dress: ASOS | Bag: Latico via MYHABIT (similar) |  Bracelet: CC Skye via MYHABIT (similar) | Shoes: Converse ‘Shoreline’

There are many friends in my life that I met through this blog, and one is Megan. Though we live on opposite coasts, we were pregnant at the same time, emailed back and forth over maternity fashion and breastfeeding, and became friends. One day she messages me these $89 Jason Wu shoes on her MYHABIT waitlist that came available. I had heard of MYHABIT but tried to steer clear from such sites because I didn’t NEED anything. But $89 Jason Wu heels had me curious enough to check it out and I became a fan.

I still try to steer clear from MYHABIT and other sites because it’s too easy to get caught up in the excitement of the bargain and buy things you don’t need or even really want, but it’s a fab site to find brands you already like at great prices. I like Latico bags; the leather is high quality, the styles simple and timeless, the price extremely reasonable for the quality, the brand has a cool rock and roll history, and they’re not covered with logos. Last year I wanted a red bag, and found this one on MYHABIT for around $40. This Spring, I realized I had a $20 credit at MYHABIT (refer friends and get credit, FYI my links are referral ones) and got this over $100 bracelet for just $9. So if I have someone to blame for this weekend look, it’s my bloggy friend Megan!

Monday

Same dress as yesterday, same hair, same makeup! the only change is that I am wearing my silver cuff bracelet and a silver and seagreen glass bead necklace from Target. I also tossed my black Naturalizer flats in my bag because I am joining my company’s Walking Club for 20 minute walks at lunch.

Hair is acting a bit different because I used the Dove conditioner for Darkened hair. Makes the hair very soft to the point of unmanageable. It was a free sample, heading to get my hair cut tonight and will probably buy some new shampoo and conditioner if my bank account will allow it…

What I Wore: Navy and Black

Sweatshirt dress: Leith | Fleece tights: Amazon | Boots: Ros Hommerson | Bag: Rough & Tumble | Coat: Lands’ End (similar) | Gloves: Nordstrom (similar) | Scarf: c/o Her Fashion Box

With the weather this frigid, my priority is not to look fun or fashionable at work, just to be warm. My desk is surrounded by windows which makes for a sunny workplace, but I’m regularly chilly. No meetings today, so a fleecy-on-the-inside sweatshirt dress with fleece tights. So perfect, I’m rewearing the same darn look from Saturday (see Instagram).  I’ve always loved navy with black and am so happy to see that this combo is being embraced on the runways and the retail stores.

The bag is new, a gift I gave myself for my birthday.  I’ve been trying to shop small, local, with more thought and Etsy is a great place to find such businesses.  I came across Rough & Tumble Bags and fell in love.  Made in Norway, Maine by Natasha Durham, Rough & Tumble Bags are high quality leather, crafted with care, smart, chic, but trend-free.  I’ve always preferred a bag that doesn’t scream a logo, a fashion trend, a designer.  A bag that I can carry now and a decade from now.  I think this bag does just that.  My black leather hobo from Sabina was bought on clearance at a very nice price, it’s a nice bag, but it’s not quite perfect.  I dreamed of a black leather bag with shiny silver hardware that could be a crossbody or a shoulder bag, zip close, be big enough to be my purse for a long flight holding all my essentials, but be a comfortable everyday purse.  A bag that will get worn over the years, but that weathering will just add character.

This is the Rough & Tumble Large Hobo Pack; it’s a shoulder bag, a crossbody, even a backpack.  It zips close with a clean pocket-free exterior, but inside is where the magic happens.  A pocket for an 11″ laptop, a large size zipper pocket like most bags but with a smaller pocket inside, a pocket for your iPhone, a pocket for your passport, a pocket for your business cards, a couple other pockets for other things, a removeable keyfob, a light colored lining so you can find all your stuff.  And with a quick switch this bag can become a backpack, which is awesome for travel!  All this, and the price is far less than what you would pay for a mass retail bag of a similar size and quality, made in the USA, supporting a woman business owner.

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