Search Results for: label/What I Packed

What’s In My Bag: 15″ Dagne Dover Tote

Dagne Dover 15" Vermilion Tote review - Wardrobe OxygenI’ve been using Dagne Dover totes over a year and love them. Dagne Dover makes some of the smartest bags I have ever experienced; a place for everything and everything in its place. Without looking I can reach in and find my wallet, sunglasses, a pen, and more. Dagne Dover recently sent me their 15″ tote in limited edition vermilion and I’ve been using it daily as my work bag as well as my weekend purse. I wanted to give you a peek into all I can fit in this bag, as well as what you can usually find in any of my purses on a given day.

What Fits in a Dagne Dover 15" Tote - Wardrobe Oxygen What Fits in a Dagne Dover 15" Tote - Wardrobe OxygenThis is my “I need to get some blogging done and it won’t happen with all the chaos in my house” setup  so I can head to a nearby cafe and work a couple hours to get the blog ready for the coming week.  We have my 13.3″ HP x360 laptop (read about it on my blog in this post), my planner, sunglasses, two pouches, business cards, backup battery pack, keys on the included key cord, a note pad, multiple pens, and my wallet.  That round thing in the bag is a detachable waterproof holder for a bottle of water or umbrella; while there is a pocket on the side specifically for sunglasses I use this holder to hold mine as well as my current day lipstick so they’re corralled and easy to find even with one hand and the bag still on my shoulder.

What Fits in a Dagne Dover 15" Tote - Wardrobe OxygenThe shiny pouch (via my friend’s Ipsy subscription) is my cosmetics bag.  As you can see, I have a bit of a lipcolor issue.  Let’s see, there’s NARS Viva gloss, Revlon Romantic balm stain, NARS Pigalle, Revlon Really Red, and Lancome Le Carmin.  Hey, I like to be prepared and able to switch up my look!  I also carry a travel-sized mascara, liquid and pencil liner for touch-ups and to amp up my look if I’m heading out after a day at the office.  The L’Oreal Lumi Cushion foundation is a fave and it does a great job with mid-day touchups.  The Blistex lip balm is for Karl, the drugstore-generic version of Vaseline Rosy Lips is for me.  Drops for my contacts, some spray for my breath, a small comb and barrettes in case my hair stops behaving and I’m ready for a long day.

What Fits in a Dagne Dover 15" Tote - Wardrobe OxygenThe leopard pouch I’ve had since 2000. It’s from Arden B; I loved that store but even back then the only thing in that store that fit my body was their accessories!  I like that it’s furry; having all the items in my bag with a different texture makes it easy to fish in and find exactly what I need, even if I’m in a rush or it’s dark.  This bag holds all my randoms.  A pack of matches (never know when you’ll need a light), nail file, Tide to Go pen, a Leatherman, thumb drive (swag from a blogger event), a USB cord plug, emergency quarters for meters, safety pins, a random button I don’t know what from, emergency tampon, and a little gizmo my sister gave Emerson that turns chopsticks into tweezers (highly recommend).

At-a-Glance planner for blogger organizationI love the MomAgenda MyAgenda except for the fact that it’s 16 months instead of 12.  They end in December yet start in the summer so how can you end up using all of it?  I decided to go cheap and basic with this planner from At-A-Glance.  It’s not Instagram worthy (especially after being washii-ed up by Emerson) but it has the month and week views, pockets in the back, a spiral binding that lays flat, and it fits in most of my purses.  I’ve toyed with covering it with Contact paper or something but honestly… it gets the job done.  Rarely does anyone see it except when I decide to photograph it for the blog!  The pen is Jonathan Adler, I got it on clearance at TJ Maxx because the box was damaged.

Fossil Sydney Wallet review Fossil Sydney Wallet reviewI’ve had my second HOBO ‘Diane’ wallet for many many years and while it’s a perfect wallet (though others must not think so since they discontinued it), having it in black was a bad idea.  I can never find it in my purse!  It was also stretched out and worn with use so I got the ‘Sydney’ wallet from Fossil a few months ago.  This is a pretty great replacement; I like how it’s set up as I prefer to have different pockets for all my cards, one for business receipts and one for personal, and a separate one for bills.  It can be pretty stuffed and still snap shut and it comes in a nice variety of colors.

Dagne Dover 15" Vermilion Tote reviewMany complain that the Dagne Dover totes are heavy; while it’s not light as a feather especially with all this inside, it’s not a problem for me. I carry in my arms and also over my shoulder without issue. I love that the bag never tips over; it’s structured and has feet to keep it upright even if it’s heavier on one side thanks to electronics. It zips close to keep items protected, and the interior and exterior is easy to clean. My blue 15″ tote (seen here) has been on many travels, thrown on the floor and in the trunk of my car, been stuffed to the gills and still looks as fresh as this one. If you’ve been thinking about getting a Dagne Dover, now’s a great time.  They’re offering Wardrobe Oxygen readers 20% off their purchases with the code WOxygen20.  Code valid until May 16, 2016.

Ask Allie: Two Weeks in Europe, What to Pack?

Allie I found you on Pinterest through your list of what to wear to Paris. I’m going to England and Europe for two weeks and need help knowing what to pack. No offense, can my capsule have some actual color and no leopard? I love bright colors and want to fit everything in one suitcase. Can you help me?

what to wear to europe spring capsule wardrobe

When I travel I usually stick to primarily neutrals (okay to be honest, it’s primarily black) with a couple pops of color because I find it hides stains, is more versatile, and dresses up and down with ease. However, I do know I often rely too heavily on black so for this wardrobe is a base to showcase the colors and keep everything cohesive. Last year I made a capsule wardrobe of what to wear to England in the spring, but this capsule is for warmer weather and with brighter colors. I’ll admit I made this capsule a month ago but it got lost in my files and I hope isn’t too late for your travel. You didn’t specify what parts of Europe and England you’ll be visiting or what sort of activities you will be partaking in, so I made some assumptions and geared this towards sight-seeing, but also visiting nice restaurants and possibly staying with friends and family.

A jacket is a must when traveling; while I often feature trenches in capsules because of their classic elegance, an anorak can also work if it’s a longer length and has clean lines. Look for something water resistant which will also resist wind; a hood is a lifesaver and also provides warmth. Packable versions can handle being shoved into the bottom of a tote when seeing museums and will take up less space in your suitcase. This is an item where it’s a great idea to choose a favorite color; while it may not dress up as easily, it’s far more enjoyable to wear a cheery hue than khaki or black on a gloomy day!

Dresses and skirts are a great idea for travel; they take up less space, can dress up easily, and are quite comfortable and wrinkle-resistant if you choose fabrics carefully. Matte jersey, modal, silk jersey, and ponte are all fabrics that give and stretch to continue to look great after being shoved in a suitcase and then worn for several hours. Solids are less memorable and easier to mix and match. While the tee shirt dress and skirt are black, consider them base pieces to feature colorful tops and accessories. I love wrap dresses, which are figure flattering and usually made of matte jersey, a very travel-friendly fabric.

I recommend always bringing a pair of trousers as well as jeans. While jeans have become more commonplace across the globe, a pair of pants are an easy way to make your knits look more dressed up. Choosing a pair of pants in a ponte knit means they won’t stretch out or wrinkle with wear, and are easy to spot clean. A pair of leggings don’t take up a lot of room and are a godsend under dresses and skirts if the temps drop, are great to have for any athletic activities, and make for comfy loungewear. As for jeans, a hint of lycra stretch will be more comfortable for long bus rides or days on your feet.

With tops, go for pieces with a bit of Lycra which will resist wrinkles. A striped tee is quite versatile, can be tucked into a skirt, worn under a jacket with jeans, or left untucked with leggings. A flowing tank or shell in silk or a synthetic with a hint of shine can look casual with jeans or dress up nicely with the trousers or skirt. Knits with interesting necklines (scoop, surplice, etc.) immediately look more dressy than a standard tee and are also more flattering. A few tanks tucked in your bag are great for changing the look of a wrap dress, slipping under other tops for warmth, wearing under jackets and sweaters, or on their own if there’s a heat wave. As for cardigans and toppers, I recommend going with lighter knits which fit better in your bag and can more easily tuck into a tote if it gets warm. Merino wool is a great choice for warmth without bulk, plus it repels odors and water.

Accessories are a great way to switch up the look of a capsule wardrobe. A pashmina is a travel must – wear looped around your neck for the flight and have it as a blanket for the plane. Wear to change up your outfits, as a shawl when it’s chilly, or to cover shoulders when entering a house of worship. Scarves are a great accessory to purchase while on your trip – they don’t take up much space in your suitcase and each time you wear you will remember your vacation. A couple bold necklaces will dress up simple knits. A watch is stylish as well as handy. Bring along a slim belt in a contrast color to switch up the silhouettes of dresses, cardigans, and untucked tops. A pair of classic wayfarers are chic sunglasses that will go with everything in your suitcase. A tote and a small crossbody in black leather are all you need – use the tote as your carry-on or fold into your suitcase. The tote can be for sightseeing, lounging by the pool, and shopping. The small crossbody carries essentials close to your body to prevent pickpockets, but can also dress up for the evening. Tights and an umbrella don’t take up much room but can be very useful is the weather isn’t on your side.

As for shoes, if you keep them all around the same height they will work with skirts as well as all the pants and jeans in your capsule wardrobe. While sneakers seem like a smart choice for a lot of walking, you can find just as much support and comfort from brands like Sofft, Naturalizer, and Clarks yet a style that will be more elegant and more able to dress up. Depending on the time of year you attend, a pair of tall boots can be a great choice; protect with a waterproofing spray before you go and they will be great for inclement weather.

two weeks Europe what to pack what to wear

What I Wore: Spring Green

I am such a fan of green and this blouse from Dobbin Clothing is the perfect Kelly green for spring.  This is a tunic length blouse, so it also looks adorable untucked with some slim pants.  With wearable heels (seriously these shoes are uber comfortable all day) and a hat to sheild myself from the sun, I’m ready for outside brunch with my girl friends!

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What to Wear on an Alaskan Cruise

Via your emails, comments and contact form submissions, it seems as though many of you are planning cruises to Alaska in the next year and are wondering what to pack. I have written about what to pack for a cruise before, but that assumes that you are headed to a warm tropical locale. While the same fashion can be worn for formal nights on a cruise or when spending time on the ship, the main thing to factor is excursions.

Unlike a tropical cruise where excursions include zip lines, kayaks, and private beaches; an Alaskan cruise will have excursions that will require you to be prepared for the elements. The weather can be very different depending on where you are and what you are doing, so it is best to dress in layers. My husband and I took a cruise through the fjords in Norway and at some points I was freezing and other times I was frantically shedding layers to be comfortable in the warm sun. From what I have read and from what friends have told me, it seems that it can be quite similar to Alaska, where it can be downright frigid near the glaciers and in the middle of summer can be anywhere between 40 to 70 degrees during the day. Some ports like Juneau are more rainy than others, and Alaska can also be pretty windy (as can the ship deck).

What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise

Your main clothing can be pretty typical – a pair of jeans or pants, a long-sleeved tee or lightweight sweater and possibly a base layer (camisole or undershirt). However, what you put over all this is what’s important. A fleece jacket is great because it is warm, water and wind resistant. A hood will make it all the more versatile and can be your lightweight jacket for the entire trip. While most cruises provide ponchos, having a proper raincoat can be a very good thing – much warmer and more durable. I have a packable hooded raincoat from Calvin Klein (not mine, but a similar version) that I adore because it’s waterproof, windproof, long enough to cover the rear when sitting, cinches at the waist to ward off chill and flatter the figure, but is loose enough to comfortably layer over a sweater or fleece. Since it’s packable, it can handle being stuffed in a bag when the weather warms. Speaking of stuffing in a bag, having a packable tote or backpack is great for excursions so you have somewhere to stuff your coat when you get warm or store your souvenirs.

Hats are an instant way to be warm and protected and they don’t take a lot of room. A fleece beanie takes up no space and can protect your ears and scalp from wind and rain; a crushable bucket hat can not only keep you and your camera dry when taking photos in drizzle, but it can also double as a sun hat. A pair of lightweight gloves also take up little space in your suitcase and will be nice to have if you visit the ice fields. There will be sun, even if it’s hidden behind clouds so be sure to apply sunscreen and bring sunglasses. Alaska is known for its mosquitoes, so be sure to pack a bottle of bug repellant.

Shoes can make or break your adventure, so be sure whatever pair you take is properly broken in before your journey. While they may be adorable, this is not the time for Hunter boots. A hiking shoe or boot that is lightweight will make for easy walking and fewer blisters; one made with Gor-Tex will also be waterproof. If you plan on doing a lot of activities, you may want a second pair of walking or hiking shoes. This is a good time to invest in proper hiking socks – they are shaped, padded, and from high-tech materials (or good old merino wool) to keep your toes dry and warm all day.

Not every part of an excursion will have you fighting the elements; use your raincoat or fleece with an umbrella tucked in your bag for shopping and sightseeing. This is also a great time to have that packable bag to hold your coat or new purchases.

As for the rest of your clothing, bring your bathing suit – even though it’s chilly on land, the ship is often warm enough to take a dip in the pool or hot tub. Instead of a gauzy pareo, a thicker terry cover up may be a wiser choice for poolside. For daytime, pants and shorts with lightweight sweaters and knit tops will be good – layers will also be good on deck (as well as a pair of binoculars!). For evening, standard cruise attire applies. A handful of LBDs, cocktail dresses, or sparkly tops with dressy pants or skirt will get you through dinners and drinks at a bar. Finally, don’t forget the workout gear! Cruise ships have wonderful gyms and a workout can help with the longer days and different time zone!


Ask Allie: What to Wear to a Summer Funeral

I know it’s a somber topic, but I live in a hot climate and I have a relative who is ill and in hospice. I realized today that I have no idea what is okay for a funeral in a VERY hot climate.

what to wear to a hot summer wedding

The most important thing to factor when dressing for a funeral, is dressing out of respect. First, consider the religion of the service, then dress in a way that shows you understand the formality of the situation and that you know you are not the subject of attention. A good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t wear it to church or to an office where it’s Business Attire (not Business Casual), it’s not appropriate for a funeral.

These days, a sleeveless dress and bare legs is appropriate at most American funerals, especially when it’s a very hot climate. Consider a lightweight cardigan if there’s a service inside the house of worship and a hat to protect yourself from the sun at the grave site. If your shoulders are bared, your neckline should be very modest, the fit not too tight, and the hemline at the knee.

In your email, you mentioned a maxi dress and while it wouldn’t be inappropriate to wear a long skirt, many maxi dress styles these days are lightweight jersey and have low necklines. If you have one that is of a dressier fabric (cotton sateen, crepe jersey, linen, silk blend) and doesn’t show off your décolleté, it can work. Again, if you wouldn’t wear it to church or to work, I’d consider something else.

Pants are acceptable for less religious funerals, and can be far more comfortable in the heat. Linen trousers (not drawstring slouchy pants) with a silk or crepe shell is perfectly acceptable.

As for color, black is not necessary these days; as long as the color doesn’t scream “look at me!” it’s acceptable. Muted colors like navy, olive, plum, mauve, gray, taupe, and brown are acceptable. If you wear a print, it should be very subtle (watercolor prints, tone on tone). Again consider the religion before choosing the color; some only wear black, some wear white, and some encourage bright jewel tones.

As for fabric, as long as it’s not too casual (denim) or too formal (satin), it’s okay in such heat. Linen and cotton is acceptable if it’s in more formal of cuts and ironed before wearing.

Accessories set the tone for your outfit; keep the sparkly necklaces and statement shoes at home. A simple pair of leather shoes in a neutral, a delicate chain necklace or a strand of pearls, a leather bag free of adornments that complements the color of your outfit. If there is a grave site service, choose a wedge or flat shoe so your heels don’t sink into the grass. Though you may be seeing many people from your past, it’s not a high school reunion and not a time to show off your sartorial skills.

Finally, what you wear is not as important as your attendance. Few will even notice what you’re wearing; as long as you don’t dress to receive attention you will be just fine. My heart goes out to you and your family during this difficult time.

What I Wore: Pleats Please

Shirt: c/o InStyle Essentials | Belt: Vintage – Belonged to my Mom | Skirt: J. Crew Factory | Bracelet: Rebecca Minkoff | Shoes: Vince Camuto

I gotta say, style rules be damned, I love me a pleated chiffon maxi skirt.  I’m short, I’m overweight, and I don’t care.  I saw this one at J. Crew Factory and felt it was a perfect replacement for my beloved Ann Taylor maxi skirt, which now has a broken zipper, stretched to twice its original size and hasn’t held up well with time.  This new skirt is a 14, and I didn’t have to have the length altered.  I wore this skirt with the brilliant InStyle Essentials shirt (hello shirts sized by bra size!) for a more work-friendly look, but found it also looked fab with a simple gray Old Navy Vintage v-neck tee (see here on Instagram).  I love how skirts like this can dress up and down with ease and are nice and breezy for the upcoming warmer weather.

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Ask Allie: What to Pack for England

I will be going to London for two weeks. I was told it was cold and overcast the whole time. We will be in London for much of the time, but will be going to a lot of sites all over the south of England: Bath, Avebury, Glastonbury, Salisbury, etc. I need to pack (ideally in a weekender and 21″ carry-on) a 2 week capsule with lots of separates for lots of layering and comfortable but adorable shoes for spring. Do you have any ideas?

Sounds like a wonderful trip! England’s weather can be unpredictable, so it’s smart to pack layers. You also want to pack for whatever comes your way; while your tour may include lots of sight-seeing you may have time to go to a nice restaurant, the theater, or a nightclub with your friends. And while you want to be comfortable, that doesn’t mean you have to pack a bag full of zip-off cargo pants and sneakers.

This capsule is geared towards a Soft Autumn who is tall, which you mentioned you were. Instead of black as a base color, I used brown, which works well for a traveling wardrobe. Depending on your itinerary, you may wish to switch the Chelsea boots for better shoes or boots for hiking and walking; I recommend adding comfort insoles to the tall boots as well as a coating of waterproofing spray. A pair of tall boots will keep you warm, keep you dry, and add polish to a simple jeans and tee shirt outfit. The flats add variety and can dress up a look in a jiffy.

When creating this capsule, I thought of a packable hooded raincoat I own; I had trouble finding a good image of one for this collage that was not black. The coat featured may look like a classic trench, but it too is a packable lightweight hooded raincoat. For a jacket you want something lightweight, focusing on repelling wind and water; warmth can come from wearing layers underneath. However, do bring accessories to add warmth without taking up too much space in your luggage. A cap and gloves can do much to stay warm and can even be tucked into your day bag; a pashmina can be a warm scarf as well as an evening wrap or chic way to dress up a tee shirt; a sturdy travel umbrella is a must.

Speaking of a day bag, a crossbody with adjustable strap can change to shoulder bag for evening affairs. Look for one that has enough room for a travel umbrella and bottle of water, pockets to carefully store your essentials, and a secure main closure.

As for clothing, two pairs of pants are plenty for two weeks: jeans for casual excursions, and a heavier weight pant with stretch to dress up or for warmth. I also added a pair of leggings which could be worn under the pants for warmth, but can also be worn with the dress or skirts for variety. Don’t think skirts have to be reserved for fancier events; with leggings or tights and boots they can make for comfortable and stylish day wear. For tops, two sweaters, preferably from merino wool (keeps you warm, wicks sweat, slightly water repellant, and much more) is sufficient. With layers (a mix of tanks and tees in a variety of sleeve lengths and necklines) offer variety and the ability to peel layers if the day warms up. Pack one “fun” top for a night out on the town. If you have room, you may want to add a fleece which can be a sweater alternative or another jacket.

What to Wear What to Pack for a Trip to England - Wardrobe Oxygen

BlogHer 2015 Conference: What I Wore

sheknows blogher 2015 experts among us conferenceWhile I plan to share a complete recap of the conference, first and foremost we have to talk clothes, right? I spent some time before heading to BlogHer looking for blog posts about what people packed and wore to the conference and while hundreds of people attend every year few seem to really delve into what was in their suitcase for their trip. I read it should be business casual, wear flat shoes, and no one really cares. And I know that, but if I’m going to be passing out my business card every five minutes telling folks I am a FASHUN BLOGGER I better as heck look the part!


Agenda: Drive to NYC from DC through sideways walls of rain on the Jersey Turnpike. Karl drove, Waze and I were the navigators, Emerson oblivious in the back listening to “Baby” by Justin Beiber on repeat

What I Wore: Gap Sexy Boyfriend Denim Shorts in bleached wash, J. Crew Factory striped bracelet-sleeve knit top, silver Birkenstocks

The conference didn’t start until the next day but we decided to get there a day early so I’d be rested, ready, meet with some non-BlogHer companies, and see the city a bit with the family.

Agenda: Attend Getting Gorgeous (a fashion, beauty and mom expo)

What I Wore: The same exact outfit I wore in this post, with the addition of bright red lips and my Rebecca Minkoff leopard calfhair Mini M.A.C.

10518277_873034399416777_660158929_n 11427259_477267629114055_426649860_nI met up with Sarah from Style It at the expo, she and I got linner and did a bit of shopping. We then headed to my hotel, we met up with Karl and Emerson and the four of us went to dinner.


Agenda: See a bit of New York before I had to put on my blogger hat. The weather was gorgeous – bright blue sky, very low humidity, and a slight breeze.

What I Wore: White sleeveless slub v-neck from Old Navy, my favorite DIY distressed denim shorts from Target, a red bandanna for a bit of color and my trusty SoftSpots sandals that have gotten me through many a music festival and day of sight-seeing

11745677_10153006069123372_2094542584896651631_nI loved the shirt when I got it but feared it shrinking so I line dried it.  I hadn’t worn it again until this trip and it got wonky and lost it’s appeal.  I still wore it because it was comfortable and breezy and I wasn’t trying to be fashion blogger at this time, just mom getting her child through Times Square without being lured in by the fake Spongebobs and Elmos wanting $5 for a photo (totally reminded me that episode of Kimmy Schmidt)

Agenda: Meeting in the hotel lounge with a brand, check in for the BlogHer conference, attend the Evening at the Expo (where I got most of the swag I’m offering in this giveaway)

What I Wore: The Dead Weather Band tee (neck and sleeves cut for a more flattering fit), my pale pink Vince Camuto blazer, Gap Real Straight jeans (ankle length, rinse wash), silver name hoops, my silver Nine West ‘Flax’ pumps and the Rebecca Minkoff bag

11325009_673815589419206_943203045_n 1389158_450349201813986_1261274895_n

I just HAD to take a picture with Aquafresh Man!

11751864_10153006070588372_550626062511441115_nI left the expo early to have dinner with the family. After just three hours my feet were killing me so I switched into my SoftSpots sandals.

Agenda: StyleCaster suite, the only “fashion” event on my agenda that was part of the BlogHer conference. I slipped back on the silver heels and reapplied my lipstick and went as-is.


Agenda: Jam-packed day starting at 8am full of learning sessions, keynote speakers, and a few meetings with companies and brands.

What I Wore: Black Loveappealla jumpsuit, J. Crew Factory denim jacket, Vince Camuto ‘Effel’ sandals (link to similar that’s still in stock), Dagne Dover tote (c/o, they were awesome enough to send me the bag for the conference), silver name hoops

11375123_1875145992709770_908905493_n11375355_926726464032859_396820134_nI wore this look until about 6pm when I got back from a client meeting a few blocks away. While it was comfortable (and the shoes, as always, were comfy), I found wearing a jumpsuit that had to be closed at the bust with a safety pin AND a denim jacket AND a tote bag AND a pair of Spanx (and for a period of time another tote full of swag) was far too much for using public bathrooms all day. Note to all, dress for the ability to pee quickly in close quarters!

Agenda: Invited to a sneak preview of a sitcom coming out this fall and meet one of the stars.

What I Wore: My Plenty by Tracey Reese orange and black print jersey maxi dress, J. Crew Factory denim jacket, my SoftSpots sandals

11745626_10153006069083372_8705408457771523788_nI also wore this after the event to walk down the street and get a pizza for family dinner. We had a wild hotel party with ginger ale and America’s Got Talent, but honestly I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!


Agenda: Another long day filled with sessions, speakers, and racing from floor to floor.

What I Wore: My crazy floral Etsy maxi dress, yellow Born ‘Myndy’ sandals, and Dagne Dover tote

Alison Gary of Wardrobe Oxygen at BlogHer 2015This dress served me really well. Some recognized me from Getting Gorgeous because it was also a bold print and I stood out in a crowd. It was comfortable, and when I told people I was a blogger they usually guessed right off that my niche was fashion. Also, wearing orange I coordinated with all the conference branding, and it made for a really great photo against the BlogHer garden wall.

Agenda: End of event party at Pier 84, hosted by McDonald’s, where Boyz II Men were performing, also starring DJ Spider and Nick Cannon

What I Wore: Black Loveappella jumpsuit, Aerosoles ‘Screen Saver’ sandals in red, my silver name hoops, and because my hair was NOT behaving and I knew I’d likely get sweaty dancing, my red bandana tied into a headband, Rebecca Minkoff purse


Bad blogger, didn’t get an outfit photo in, but I did get a photo with the fabulous Georgette!

My hair was NOT behaving so a headband was good. It was also good because it was a bit humid and I can’t help but dance when I hear Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.” 30 minutes into this surreal experience (it was like the VIP section at a music festival with all you can eat McDonald’s and an open bar full of flavored vodkas and most of the attendees are moms who really needed a girl’s night out) I was sweaty, my hair was cray, and I was glad for the bandana and also my Ray-Ban aviators.

11221630_10153006069748372_8295468623758138328_oI wore the same thing when I went to dinner with Karl and Emerson later that evening.


Agenda: Heading home

What I Wore: My Make Art Not War tee shirt, distressed Target shorts, silver Birkenstocks, and a denim shirt around my waist in case it got chilly in the car

We woke up by 7, were on the road by 9, and home by 1pm! And of course, I always pack things that don’t get worn…

What I Didn’t Wear: My Karen Kane jumpsuit (I planned to wear it to the McDonald’s party), distressed jeans, white jeans, my black spaghetti strap jersey midi sundress from LOFT (thought I may wear sight-seeing but never had the chance), a gray Old Navy vintage v-neck (it was backup).

What I Would Do Differently Next Time

  • More Color. Wearing the black jumpsuit Friday was like blending into the wall. Have a signature thing when you go to a conference, that matters more than being stylish or trendy or cool. Funky glasses, a blue streak in your hair, wild patterned Vans… it doesn’t have to be your outfit specifically but it’s good to have something to have you stand out and be a consistent concept through all the days. If I had worn a funky print Friday I would have created a signature look that people would have remembered. If I could do it over I would have worn Wednesday’s outfit on Friday.
  • More Casual Saturday Night Look. I packed my Karen Kane jumpsuit for it, figuring it’s comfortable and festive but by the time the evening came it felt too formal. Also… by the time that night came there was no way in hell I was wearing even ½” heels! I re-wore my other jumpsuit and no one could tell because this time it wasn’t under a denim jacket and also NO ONE CARES. No one is taking a tally of your wardrobe, so go ahead and re-wear the same things if they’re clean and you’re confident in them.  But if you like fancy, go fancy. There were women there in shorts and tee shirts and I saw a few in cocktail dresses and heels.  The general idea was festive summer party – lots of sundresses, rompers, cute tops with cropped pants and no one judged if you were wearing fugly but uber comfy shoes by this point.
  • Not Worry About My Figure. I have NO IDEA why I felt the need to wear heavy duty Spanx Saturday. I felt like a stuffed sausage and it made going to the bathroom more complicated. The other days I did wear a light control (I love these from DKNY), but more to prevent jiggling than to try to change my size. There are women in every single size and shape you can imagine at BlogHer and the only thing anyone notices is if you are having fun and are friendly. SERIOUSLY.

At one of the panels, a speaker was being asked how she became successful. Attendees wanted her fame, her sponsorsorships but they didn’t have the technical know-how, the equipment, the training on editing, etc. etc. Her answer to all of them was GET OVER YOURSELF. She wasn’t being rude, she was being RIGHT. We are what holds us back. We can say it’s lack of money or time, that we’re too busy taking care of others, our job is a beast, the kids suck us dry, we’re a caregiver and have nothing left for ourselves. I’m not going to be one of those fitness people who say those are all excuses NOW GO DO 50 BURPEES!!!! but they are choices. We can make excuses as to why we are in the situation we are in, and that’s fine but we need to remember this is OUR life, it does not belong to another. Don’t miss out on a good time because you’re too wrapped up in thinking you’re not stylish enough, not thin enough, not firm enough, not young enough. That’s all crap, and it was clear at BlogHer that, to paraphrase Audrey Hepburn, the prettiest people were the happiest ones. No one cared what you were wearing (except to be able to find you in a crowd and recognize you from one day to the next), they cared who you were.

So if you’re reading this post trying to figure out what to wear to BlogHer or a similar conference, be sure to put YOU in your wardrobe. Anyone can wear that dress, but it’s you who makes it special. And above all else, WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES!

What to Wear: Dreading a Semi Formal Summer Wedding

I have been invited to an out of town wedding. It’s outdoors, in the Texas heat, on the grass and the invitation advises us to choose our footwear carefully. The attire is semiformal. I’m a pear-shaped thirty-something who is most at home in jeans, tees and skate shoes and I like to hide my midsection the most. My bust line is large and embarrassing. I normally stick to loose fitting garments that swallow me up and my look could best be described as “tomboy” or “please don’t notice me”. To say that this is my worst nightmare is an understatement, but I’m determined to try a dress and even wedges because this is my best friend’s wedding. I’d like to spend no more than $100 on the dress and up to $50 on the shoes. Semi-formal is kind of vague to me, and all I know is that it’s just shy of prom and nicer than church clothes. Is there a list of do’s and don’ts for what counts as semiformal?

I usually pare down my Ask Allie requests, but I kept the majority of your email because I think many can relate to your feelings about formalwear (or semi-formalwear) and their figures. Even I, who loves a frock, freaks out when I have to go to an event where I need to dress up and start questioning my figure.

Semiformal is really very open-ended. You’re right, it’s nicer that most church clothes, but not a prom dress. This actually gives you a TON of options, and the ability to purchase a dress that could be worn again.

Before we get to the dress, I want to discuss what goes UNDER the dress. I have a very large bust, and it isn’t firm and perky, but I don’t call it embarrassing. But I have before… before getting a professional bra fitting. This isn’t going to Victoria’s Secret or Lane Bryant and having a college kid wrap a tape measure around your sweatshirt. It’s worth it, if you have one nearby, to visit a bra boutique or high-end department store’s lingerie department. It’s not just about size, but the bra brand, the bra shape, and type. When I found The Bra, I no longer found my bust embarrassingly big. In fact, my chest looked smaller and my whole body looked more trim. I get sized every year, and I now know what kinds of bras to get (for me, I like a molded cup because it gives lift and makes me look perky and firm without being bigger). As for the bottom half, if you don’t usually wear control garments now is NOT the time. It’s going to be hot and you will be stressed. However if you ever deal with “chub rub” consider a pair of Skimmies or Undersummers (haven’t tried but a friend highly recommends them). Not only will they stop chafing, they will help your dress drape better.

Now, on to the dress. Since you’re not usually a dress gal, I recommend buying something very simple in a fabric and color you can wear again. A solid color dresses up more easily than a print and is easier to wear to multiple events without looking like a one-trick pony. After writing this you got back to me and expressed interest in a printed dress so I added some that I felt were more classic in pattern that could be worn year-round.  Sleeveless or cap sleeves will be comfortable in the Texas heat and also look appropriate in the middle of winter for a dressy event.  I know you mentioned you like covering your arms but arms are the same size whether swathed in fabric or bare; it’s going to be hot and there’s nothing less stylish or attention-getting than looking uncomfortable. For fabrics, there’s no need to get beading, sequins or satin to be semi-formal. Your shoe, bag, and jewelry choice can take a simple matte jersey church dress and make it cocktail-appropriate.

Semi Formal Plus Size Dresses Under $100

Plus Size Semi Formal Dresses Under $100Below are dresses I found that are under $100, work with a sturdy bra, don’t show off the bust or belly, and flatter a pear shape. Not only that, all of these dresses have free shipping and great return policies so you can try more than one without regret:

  1. This pink fit and flare dress from City Chic is likely COMPLETELY out of your comfort zone but hear me out. A color can hide the figure better than all black. When you wear this, people will notice the dress, not your bust or your belly or anything else. The neckline is flattering but high enough to cover all cleavage. The sleeves are that length that works year-round and isn’t too hot for a Texas late summer. Pink is a flattering color on many skintones, giving you a glow and causing people to ask if you just got back from vacation, got a haircut, or maybe lost weight. The best way to hide yourself is to let something else take the spotlight. Let the dress speak for you. Not only that, a dress like this can handle very simple shoes and doesn’t really need jewelry.
  2. Bit more subtle, but just as festive, the Slow Dance Serenades dress from ModCloth is elegant and festive and quite versatile.  It can be worn on its own with nude, pink, or soft metallic shoes, could be glammed up with the addition of a skinny belt in pink or a sparkly or metallic finish, or made wintry with darker shoes and a pashmina wrap.
  3. This dress from London Times is black, which some question for weddings but I have never seen an issue, especially if it’s a wedding not in a house of worship. The embellished yoke at the top makes it dressy enough for the event, the fit and flare style will skim right over your midsection without drawing attention and flatter your curves, and the neckline minimizes your bust and lets you wear a traditional bra.
  4. The scallop neckline of this dress from City Chic is utterly adorable, but high enough that it won’t draw attention to your bustline. Again, the fit and flare style will minimize your midsection and balance your figure. This is a dress that can be dressed up or down and can look chic and tres French with just a simple bracelet or sparkly stud earrings or a red lip, but no need for more than one.
  5. At first glance this dress from Christopher & Banks doesn’t seem semiformal. You can see me wear it here, and none of these looks are dressy. But ponte is an amazing fabric that dresses up and down quite nicely with a switch of accessories. Add a sparkly statement necklace, a clutch, and dressier shoes and you’re wedding-ready. What’s great is this dress can be worn again for everything from church to a baby shower to a funeral to a holiday cocktail party.
  6. This dress from ASOS is made of a slinky fabric that won’t add bulk and move with you on the dancefloor. The open neckline flatters without causing you to have to purchase a new bra or show off your chest. This dress would look great with a little bit of sparkle at the ears or wrist; if you feel bold a skinny belt with sparkle would be a nice touch.
  7. This dress from ModCloth has a very flattering neckline but not too low to show off too much, and a full back to let you wear any bra you choose.  A fit and flare shape and a feminine pale pink floral pattern is perfect for a summer wedding, consider playing up the red in the dress with red shoes, or a red clutch (but not both, that would be a bit much).  Come winter you could wear this dress with black shoes and a black wrap or shrug.
  8. A wrap style dress is so flattering for a pear shape, but the neckline is often too low to feel comfortable for those with large busts. This dress from Le Bos has a higher neckline but the soft chiffon overlay keeps it feminine and romantic. Both colors are lovely and versatile and would only need a bit of sparkle at the ears or wrist with a clutch and dressy shoes to be perfection.

Shop Plus Size Semi Formal Dresses:

Outdoor Wedding-Friendly Shoes Under $60

I’m glad the invite stressed the importance of shoes; nothing will ruin a good time better than wobbling around, sinking into grass, and ruining a favorite pair of footwear.  Wedges are a brilliant choice for such an event, but don’t be afraid to consider dressy flat shoes; especially with this being an outdoor event, it won’t look wrong to keep your feet low to the ground.  Also it’s okay for such a situation to have a shoe that may at first look more office-appropriate; a peeptoe, almond toe, or sandal wedge or flat in patent leather (as long as it’s a covered wedge and not cork/wood/straw) can look quite festive.  A few shoes I found under $60 that would be great for a semi formal outdoor wedding:

  1. The BP. ‘Roxie’ wedge sandal is adorable, if I had a reason I would buy them in a heartbeat! Great reviews, and a sparkly style that will add a level of festive formality to any ensemble, but also be super cute paired with jeans for a night out.
  2. Don’t discount a sandal for such an affair.  A sparkly one will show that you understand the tone of the event but you’ll be standing tall on squishy ground.  The ‘Kelisha’ from Nina has a slight but wide heel that will keep you stable on grass, comes in three colors, and will be able to be worn again with maxi dresses and jumpsuits.
  3. Payless is a fave for budget-friendly comfortable shoes.  This peeptoe low wedge has a bit of bling on the front which makes it festive; the ivory color isn’t too bridal and would look cute with many of the floral dresses featured above.
  4. The ‘Valaria’ Wedge sandal from Nine West comes in three patent leather colors and has a very comfortable 1.75″ wedge height; on Amazon you can find some sizes and colors under $60 and no option is over $80.
  5. The ‘Franzea’ wedge sandal from Nina is sparkly but not bridal and would look great not just with your semiformal wedding guest look, but even a pair of jeans for a Girls Night Out. Two metallic shades available.
  6. A patent peeptoe wedge is a simple neutral shoe that would let your dressy frock take center stage.  The ‘Hartley’ from CL by Chinese Laundry comes in black and nude patent and receive positive reviews.
  7. While kid leather isn’t usually considered semiformal, the jeweled details and strappy style of the ‘Kaley’ ankle strap wedge from CL by Chinese Laundry makes the grade and would be a secure and comfortable choice for an outdoor wedding.
  8. Another low wedge but with wider of straps for comfort, the ‘Karaveta’ wedge from Rampage comes in two subtle metallic shades and is a shoe that can work year-round with dresses of all lengths and even pants and jeans.

Shop Flat and Wedge Semiformal Footwear:

Accessories to Complete the Semi Formal Look

Sometimes all you need is the right accessories to take a simple dress from your closet and make it semiformal.  I can’t recommend a signature or statement clutch or evening bag enough; something with a bit of sparkle or a unique pattern even when paired with a printed dress can take your look to the next level and add a festive and formal touch.  A sparkly statement or bib necklace is a great way to elevate a not-so little black dress or other dark-colored frock already hanging in your closet.  A sparkly stud earring – an oversized faux gem has a lot of power without overwhelming your look.  Below I have carousels of some great accessories I have found around the web that are budget-friendly and will take your look to the semiformal level.

Shop Budget Friendly Semiformal Jewelry:

Shop Budget Friendly Semiformal Bags:

What I Wore: Ikat Believe It

Jacket: LOFT (similar) | Tank: c/o J.Jill | Pants: LOFT | Shoes: Nine West | Bracelet: Rebecca Minkoff | Lipstick: Korres Guava Lipstick in Wine Red

I swore off LOFT for a while, the quality had really gone downhill and the sizing was inconsistent. However, this winter I tried them again and found some great wardrobe staples that were the quality I remembered from before and a 14 petite pant, especially in the “Julie” cut fits me quite nicely. I haven’t really been a pants person in recent years, but after being in a cast so long I really enjoy more effortless clothing and pants allow me freedom. I’ve been gravitating towards more pants for the workweek, and have to say most of the pants I now own are LOFT.

While I paired the pants in this post with an ivory jacket, I wore them to work with a black boatneck tee (see here on Instagram) and out to dinner with a bright green silk drapey sleeveless top.  Crazypants can be versatile!

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What Every Man Needs in His Wardrobe – Updated for 2010

A few years ago, I wrote the post, “What Every MAN Needs in his Wardrobe.” Since then, I seem to get comments and emails about it every month, and it has been mentioned in many articles on sites all over the Web.

What Every Man Needs in his Wardrobe

Men’s fashion is so difficult because it is so simple. A man can’t feign style with trendy colors, bold accessories, or an It Bag. A man has a harder time making a Tarjay purchase cut it in the corporate world. Men’s retailers don’t help the situation – with women’s retailers we can tell that Mom Jeans are passé because they can only be found at cheaper Big Box retailers; men can find all sorts of Fashion Don’ts at the nicest brands and shops.

However just as with women, if a man has a very simple base wardrobe of staples, he can get away with adding some trendy or fun pieces to the mix without looking like a fashion victim. Purchasing quality, classic pieces means one’s wardrobe can stand the test of time and be far more versatile.

Re-reading my list of wardrobe staples for men from back in 2006, very little has changed. The good thing about men’s fashion is that it isn’t as quickly changing as that for women. Jeans you buy in 2007 will most likely be stylish in 2011, and silhouettes don’t change as drastically as those for women. However some trends have happened that aren’t TOO trendy, and can adjust the staples for any man. So let’s revisit that list.

Here’s a recap of the original list from 2006:
1. White dress shirt
2. Bootcut jeans
3. Black merino v-neck sweater
4. Flat front gray trousers
5. Black blazer
6. Gray suit
7. Solid-colored polo shirts
8. Flat front chinos/khakis
9. Sandals
10. Longer chino shorts
11. Casual crew neck sweater
12. Black slip on loafers
13. Euro sneakers
14. Wool coat
15. Black dress belt

1. Crisp White Cotton Shirt. This is a given. Every man needs at least one of these, as that they are so versatile and look best when very white, very crisp. Over the past couple of years, trimmer cuts have taken center stage. If you are a lean gentleman, do not let your white shirt balloon around you – this look will completely kill any style. European brands like French Connection offer narrower cuts, American retail favorites like Banana Republic and Gap also offer dress and casual shirts in fitted silhouettes.

If you are tall, look for brands that cater to tall men. My husband is a big fan of the Banana Republic line for Big & Tall men – the quality is good, and the cuts really do fit far better than standard brands. If you are shorter, you will always be better off heading straight to a shop like Brooks Brothers or a department store to get the right length of arms along with right size of neck.

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2. Comfortable Bootcut Jeans in a Semi-dark Color. This is one of the items that has changed the most drastically since the original post. Jeans are a wardrobe staple for most any person on this planet and retailers know this. Styles in denim change faster than with any other type of garment.

The mentioned relaxed bootcut jean is still a decent choice – it’s not too trendy, yet not dated. However since then other cuts and washes have become classics.

A very dark crisp jean, often called “rinse” in color or described as “rigid”, “selvedge”, or “raw” denim has become a classic for men as well as women. This is not a dark wash, but a deep, even dark indigo where the denim looks untouched. Often the inside seams are stitched in red, and the denim is far heavier-weight and stiff than most jeans in the store. In a slim, straight or slight boot cut, this look can be a great staple for most men. Adding the slight bootcut or a more relaxed cut is a good choice for very tall and lean men, as well as for shorter or heavier men. You want to balance out your shape, so you don’t look top heavy. A great classic choice for this type of jean is the Levi’s 501.

The vintage jean is a jean that is supposed to look as though it has been weathered through use. This jean doesn’t have the pronounced whiskering I mentioned in the original post, but all-over wear. We’re not talking shredded jeans a la the Glam Rock days, but something that looks as though a farmhand took a pair of raw denim and wore them for an entire season out in the fields. This look can be a bit looser and more relaxed than the dark denim, but it is still not baggy or loose. Again, a straight or slight boot cut will be your best choice.

Jeans now can be cuffed, but you are treading into trendy territory with this choice. If you don’t feel confident in knowing how to cuff your jeans in a fashionable manner and only plan to cuff to achieve the proper length, I encourage you to instead buy the right length or head to a tailor to have them properly hemmed (ask them to keep the original hem or at least hem style so it doesn’t look as though Mommy did it for you). If you know your length, many online retailers offer extended lengths and waist sizes online so you can get the right fit from the get-go.

3. A Black Merino V-neck Sweater. Yeppers, this is still stylish. Just be sure it fits you, and isn’t overly baggy. The only thing that has changed in the past few years is that cuts are now more trim. If you have some meat on your bones, don’t try to hide it with an oversized sweater, but don’t go too skinny. A straight fit in your regular size will actually make you look more slim than something that is baggy.

In the original post, someone commented that cashmere is a better choice. Cashmere is always in style, but it requires a bit more upkeep. If your budget and lifestyle can handle cashmere, by all means choose it. However most men I know are better off with a sweater that can handle being thrown in a hamper or sent to the cleaners to be cared for. Cashmere is best cared for with hand washing and being laid flat to dry. If you don’t have the life for that sort of care, it’s okay. Merino wool is a wonderful alternative and holds its shape great, wear after wear.

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4. Flat Front Tropical Weight Wool Trousers in Gray. Another classic. My only suggestion is that if you are deciding between cuffs and no cuffs, go without the cuffs. Cuffs are being seen less and less and are becoming something that is trendy – let those pants be stylish for many years to come and choose to go without cuffs, or any other trendy embellishment.

The narrow pant has become very stylish in the past couple of years. If you are reading this for clothing advice, I recommend you do NOT go for the narrow pant. The narrow pant is a hard look to pull off and can only be worn with certain shoes, certain tops, and on certain shapes of men. Keep it simple, keep it classic, stick to a flat front, standard leg, standard length.

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5. A Black Suiting Blazer with Three Buttons. Classic. Simple. Just keep with current trends and keep it well-fitted. Get it properly tailored to fit your body – it will make you look more muscular, more fit, more trim if you have a well-fitting jacket.  As for figuring out fit, I love these tips from a Suitable Wardrobe and this link for sizing from SuitUPP – every man should bookmark them, print them out and take with you to the tailor when you get your jackets fitted (for no jacket fits properly off the rack – sorry to tell you guys, but it’s worth it to get them tailored.

When I originally wrote this, I chose black over navy for the same reason I choose black as the base color for my list of women’s wardrobe staples – it’s easier. You can’t get the wrong shade of black, and with black you always know what color shoes to wear. Navy is a wonderful choice for a blazer – it is classic and elegant, but the problem is navy can look more like blue if the wrong shade, navy will show the fabric better so if you don’t have high quality fibers it will be obvious, and often people pair navy with colors that don’t compliment well (hello black trousers). If you can find a dark navy of quality fibers, it is a worthy replacement of black. But if you’re unsure, stick with black for it’s safe and in this day and age, considered as versatile as navy.

6. A Gray Suit. Yep, this is still a classic. Far more versatile than any other color available, and more likely to look elegant in five years. Make sure it is tailored to fit you properly, and it should work for most any event that life throws in your direction.

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7. Three Solid-colored Polo Shirts. There are more hip, more trendy, more fashionable choices than polo shirts, but nothing that is as timeless, budget-friendly, and versatile. My only update is again about fit – keep it trim (not tight) and be sure the length is correct. I constantly see men who have polo shirts that barely cover their belts, and other men who wear ones that hang to their knees. The current look is no longer baggy, so even if you are short and stocky, you should be able to find a polo shirt that doesn’t look like a dress. Tall men, almost every online retailer offers long lengths – you can easily get a few polos on sale at J. Crew or Gap and replace your belly-baring tops.

Keep your polo shirts looking better for longer and don’t wash them with your jeans, towels, or any athletic wear with grommets or Velcro. My husband washes his with other knits and they don’t fade or stretch out as quickly.

8. Flat-front Chinos in a Khaki Color. Still a classic. If you wear khakis for work, keep one pair that is only for social events. Often I see men at weddings and happy hours with stained or snagged chinos, and it’s obvious they are the same ones they wear on the job.

Again I have to mention length. It’s better to get them too long and have them hemmed than go too short. Any drycleaner can hem your pants and get them back to you in a couple of days. J. Crew and Lands End are two of many retailers that sell unusual lengths online. J. Crew even offers a raw hem so you can have them hemmed by your own tailor for the perfect length.

9. A Pair of Sandals. Magazines and Web sites will talk about all sorts of other summer shoes, but if you are a Fashion Freshman, I don’t suggest many other trendy alternatives that are out there.  I recommend checking out Zappos, a site with a HUGE selection of shoes. When I recently searched for men’s leather sandals, they had 545 options. It is possible to find a pair of thong or slide sandals that look manly, will be comfortable, and be a great choice with shorts or jeans.

10. Longer Shorts in Olive or Khaki. I am not saying your shorts should hang past your knee. You’re looking for that happy medium that is between the thigh and the knee. The baggy look is out guys, so pass on the pleats, the millions of cargo pockets and any pair that can’t stay on your hips without a belt. A heavier-weight chino will keep a crisp, sophisticated look.

I mentioned cargo shorts as a good alternative, but since that original post cargo shorts have started going out of style. I really think every man need a clean, crisp pair (or three) of cargo-free chino shorts. It’s far more modern, flattering, and stylish.

11. A Casual Sweater with a Crew Neckline. There are a lot of thin cotton sweaters out there that end up clinging to your tee shirt, stretching out in the wash, blousing out weird at the hem. It’s better to have fewer sweaters in your closet and know that the ones you have fit well, launder well, and will keep their shape and color. If you buy quality, this sweater can still be one you love to wear a decade from now.

If you have this crew sweater, you can definitely branch out with necklines. More v-necks, a shawl collar, etc. Start with crew, a crew is a wardrobe staple and a good first choice to build your proper wardrobe.

12. Black Leather Slip-on Dress Loafers. These are so versatile, you may even want a second pair. Seriously.

And with the new dark, crisp looks in denim, these loafers can now be worn with that type of denim and look stylish.

13. A Pair of Euro Sneakers or Rugged Leather Oxford Shoes. This is probably the only item on this list that has really changed over the years and isn’t still considered a perfect wardrobe choice. Really, that’s to be expected – a shoe like this is more of a novelty piece and will change with the times and trends. You’re looking for a casual shoe – something more socially acceptable than an athletic sneaker, but not as dressy as the black loafer. .

A popular choice for this type of shoe is the Converse All Stars “Chucks” sneakers. In black, with a low rise, these are a wonderful choice to add to your wardrobe. My husband’s friend has a pair of loafers, but they are a dark brown with a more rugged sole that look great with his chinos and jeans. I love the look of engineer boots or chukkas – a great choice with this season’s trim dark jeans.

Pick a style that works with your personal style. Into the music scene? Consider some Doc Martens. A bit preppy? How about some Sperry Topsiders? Like sports? Instead of a pair of old Nikes, consider some Adidas “Shell Tops” (just be sure they stay in immaculate condition). Desert boots are a good choice if you have more of a beachy or boho sense of style.

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14. A Wool Winter Coat. Still a classic, and still a wardrobe essential.

15. Black Leather Dress Belt. If you own #12, you need #15.

Additional Items You Should Have in your Wardrobe:
1. Oxfords shirts in blue and white. These shirts are different from the dress shirt. They are more casual, have a heavier textured weave, button-down collars, and aren’t meant to be worn with a suit. Go for a trim cut, and you can wear them tucked in with jeans and pants, or even untucked with chinos or shorts. If you have a sense of flair, feel free to stray from the basic blue and white – real men DO wear pink, and other hues are hot and surprisingly versatile. This sort of shirt also looks great under a sweater come winter. For summer, here’s a great link that tells you how to roll up your cuffs.

2. Other casual button-down shirts. Right now, the button-down shirt is hot, as long as it’s the right fabric and fit. Shirts shouldn’t be blousy, and they shouldn’t have texture or shine. The vintage look is hot for casual wear. Plaids have come back in style, and we’re talking cotton, and not grunge-era flannel. Stripes are great too.

Before I stated that short-sleeved dress shirts are goofy. I still believe that. However, since the original post, fashion has made great strides with the short-sleeved casual shirt. For lean men, the semi-fitted button down in plaid is a nice look; for stocky men the more casual beachy short-sleeved shirt in chambray or a lightweight cotton looks great untucked with shorts or chinos.

3. A light blue or French blue dress shirt. Same rules apply as for the white dress shirt.

4. Ties. Just as stated before, solid for more formal events, stripes for work, patterns and more casual fabrics for festive occasions. Please get your ties cleaned occasionally, and especially after any event that includes cigars and/or large consumption of alcohol. Nothing worse than a stained or rumpled tie. And for some wonderful tutorials, here is a fabulous site that shows you with diagrams as well as videos on how to tie a tie with the four most popular knots (I recommend four in hand for pretty much any affair, Half Windsor for the more formal affairs).

5. Dress socks. Your black SmartWool socks are NOT a choice when wearing a suit. You should own at least two pairs of socks that are meant to be worn with suits. As a rule, have your socks match your pant, not your shoe.

6. A leather wallet. Get rid of your Velcro-closure one from Billabong, and get rid of the one you have had since you high school graduation. A man’s wallet is like a woman’s purse – it should be well cared for, not overstuffed, and match your sense of style. Regularly remove receipts, business cards and other things that will make it be the size of a Dagwood sandwich.

7. Bathing trunks. Keep it simple – simple print or a solid. Trim but not tight, length similar to the abovementioned shorts.

8. An umbrella. This is not some swag you got from your last work conference. Get a travel one that will fit in your laptop bag, and can withstand fierce winds. My husband and I have a couple from Lands End that are classic, sturdy, reliable. Black is a safe bet, or you can add some color to your look with a muted plaid or solid color.  Any woman will tell you that she would find it terribly gallant for a man to pull out an umbrella to protect her during an unexpected rainshower…

9. Sunglasses. It’s time to retire the Oakleys (or keep them for sporting events and the most casual of situations). Variations of the classic Aviator or the Wayfarer are popular now, but I recommend you visit a high-end department store or sunglass boutique in the mall to try various styles to find what fits your face as well as your lifestyle.

10. White tee shirts. You should own a couple crisp, well-made white tee shirts to wear under things. Those Hanes ads with Michael Jordan are right – the cheap tees that buckle at the neck look terrible. Be sure to wash your white tees with other whites, use some oxygen cleaner or line dry to keep them white.

11.  Casual belt.  If your casual shoes are black, look for a more casual black belt.  If they are brown, look for brown.  My husband always has luck finding casual belts on clearance at Banana Republic that are well-made, timeless, and budget-friendly.

Since the original post about what every man needs in his wardrobe, I have added several Web sites and blogs to my Blogroll that specialize in Men’s Style.  Unlike me, their expertise is in men’s fashion, and I trust them for advice and input on new trends.  Do check them out.

What Every MAN Needs in HIS Wardrobe

Reader Valerie asked me to discuss what every MAN needs in his wardrobe. Like women, men are bombarded with tons of overly trendy, unflattering and plain bad options in fashion. Men get stuck in ruts too, and don’t find the time or importance for worrying about what they wear.

My husband is 6’5”, has a 36” inseam, but is slim (34” waist). For years he has stuck to one or two pairs of Levi’s jeans (he liked the baggy style from his high school days because he believed it covered up his slim build and “no-butt” shape), cargo shorts even in Summer, and plenty of tee shirts with band and surfing logos on them. When he dressed up he had a navy blazer bought at a Today’s Man Going Out of Business Sale and one pair of tan dress pants. He’d wear the same tie to weddings that he wore to his high school graduation over a decade earlier.

A few months ago he was promoted to a manager position in his company. This required him to wear collared shirts, ties, jackets and nice shoes on an almost daily basis (the off days he could downgrade to a polo and khakis). He finally realized that he was a 30-something professional dressing as a teenage skater boy. He needed a new wardrobe, but didn’t want to break the bank. What’s the point of a raise if it’s all spent on a new wardrobe?

We did our homework – men’s magazines, looking at websites of classically stylish men’s clothing websites, observing what subtly stylish celebrities wore.

1. Crisp white cotton shirt They do sell shirts that are not see-through; invest in one. This is crisp cotton, not an oxford. Take this shirt to the cleaners to keep it’s fresh look unless you want to spend forever sprinkling, ironing and starching. To have it the most versatile style, forego any detail on pockets, a button-down collar or any other trimmings. Unless he is a cufflink-type of guy, go with traditional buttoning of the cuffs. Where to wear: with suits for interviews and more dressy of events (weddings, theater, etc.), with khakis for a more casual affair, with jeans and a blazer for parties and social occasions.

2. Comfortable bootcut jeans in a semi-dark color – Confused? So were we when looking for new jeans for my husband. What works with a tucked in shirt or a casual sweatshirt? What looks modern without being overly trendy? The best color is darker than stonewashed. A traditional bootcut ends up being too tight on thicker men, and look awkward on tall slim men. Gap carries a style called “standard fit” that I have seen look great on tall men, short men, stocky men and slight men. It has the stylish cut, but the room in the thighs and rear so that they don’t look too cowboy or too hipster.

3. A black merino v-neck sweater A lightweight black merino sweater can look refined, elegant and even dressy. With a collared shirt and suiting trousers a man is ready for a party or dinner out. With a white tee and jeans or khakis, one is ready for a trip to mall or a business-casual office. The lightweight merino dresses up nicely and doesn’t get lumpy over collared shirts.

4. Flat front tropical weight wool trousers in gray – Black can be too severe, tan will look dated and cheap if not the right quality, brown and navy aren’t terribly versatile. Gray works all four seasons and compliments most other colors in a wardrobe. With a collared shirt, a blazer, a matching suit jacket, a sweater or even a polo, these pants will get much wear. Pleated pants may seem like a safe bet, but they add bulk to heavier men and look odd on slender figures. Pleats are passé, your best bet is to choose a flat front or no more than one or two pleats.

Your pants should make a bit of a bend where the ankle meets the foot. Many men wear their pants either too long or too short. If pants are too long, it doesn’t cost too much to get them hemmed at the local dry cleaner’s. As for cuffs, they are optional for all but the very short – short men should stay away from cuffs because they cut the leg and make one look even shorter.

5. A black suiting blazer Paired with matching trousers, a black suiting blazer creates an elegant ensemble for a formal event. With the gray wool trousers it’s perfect for a business meeting. With jeans and a collared shirt, it’s hip at a club or party. Keep it simple – no fancy fabrics, colorful or glitzy buttons, trendy details. The more subtle, the more stylish and the more versatile.

A three-button single-breasted jacket is a classic and flattering style for all shapes. A rule of thumb with buttons I saw once on What Not to Wear – Sometimes, Always, Never. Sometimes you can have the top button buttoned when standing, always button the middle button (your choice), and the bottom button should never be buttoned, no matter what.

6. A gray suit – Now you can cheat and have a blazer in the same fabric as the tropical weight wool trousers, or have a separate suit. Like the black blazer, keep it very simple and subtle. This suit should be able to be worn to a wedding or an interview. If there is a pattern, pinstripes or detail it will be memorable, and it won’t be timeless. Again, the jacket should be single breasted with two or three buttons.

7. Three solid colored polo shirts – Little boys and college kids wear striped polos. Adults wear solid colors. Look around you at the men who wear stripes, and those who wear solids. Who look to be in better shape and better dressed? You’ll see the more elegant and trim looking men are in solids.

As for colors, that is up to you. However I recommend one in gray, navy or black. This is a simple neutral that is flattering and classic and a bit dressier than other colors. As for the others, pick colors you enjoy. My husband has a sage green that looks great with khaki, navy and gray, and a dark plum that is an unexpected neutral that looks great with olive, khaki, gray and black. Wear with khakis or tropical weight wool trousers for business casual jobs, with cargo shorts for a summer cookout, with jeans on the weekend.

8. Flat front chinos in a khaki color (AKA khakis) – Please stop buying pleated khakis. They do not look good on anyone, and they make men look unfashionable. As for the khaki color – this is the most versatile and flattering. Lighter colors (often called stone) are not as popular and do not look appropriate past Labor Day. Darker and more yellow colors (British tan, taupe, sand) are memorable and often look more casual. As with the gray trousers, have them to the length where they make a bend (or “break”) where the ankle hits the foot.

Khakis look great with everything. Pair with a black blazer and white shirt for dinner, with a polo for work or a day on the links, with a collared shirt or sweaters for casual affairs. These pants will be so versatile, I recommend you buying two pairs. They are so neutral, no one will realize they are two of the same pants. You do not want these too stiff, or too tight. J.Crew offers a style called “relaxed fit” that is very flattering on many shapes and sizes of men. The chino fabric is lightweight enough that it doesn’t crease or bunch, but is refined enough for work, dates and social occasions.

9. A pair of sandals – I do not mean Birkenstocks and I do not mean those woven hurrache-style shoes. A simple sandal or thong in brown leather will be worn almost daily come summer. With shorts and tees, with jeans and a polo. There is nothing more attractive than a man in a crisp white shirt, well-fitting khaki chinos and a stylish pair of leather sandals in the summertime. Sandals will replace your Tevas and flops for casual affairs, sneakers with your shorts and jeans in the warmer months.

10. Longer shorts in olive or khaki – Get rid of the pleated shorts that are 4” above your knee, the faded navy and black chino shorts that you have owned since college, the beat up and threadbare stone-colored cutoffs. These shorts are a clean line without being too stiff, longer without looking sloppy. The ones shown have a 9″ inseam. The shorts should land close to or at the knee, but not below.

11. A casual sweater with a crew neckline – Keep it simple. No stripes, argyles, or overt details. A cableknit in navy, a Shetland in charcoal, a ribbed commando-style (featured) in a dark green. It should cover the wrists even when arms are extended, cover the waistband of pants even when stretching, and be a trim fit – not slim, but not overly baggy. Think refined, classic, simple. The color should be one you enjoy and you find flattering, without being too strong. Navy instead of royal, olive or forest instead of bright green, russet instead of red. This will be the most versatile with all your bottoms. These colors go with khaki, with gray, with denim. A crew neckline will look nice with a collared shirt or on it’s own.

12. Black leather slip-on dress loafers – The best buy I have ever made for my husband. Being a slip-on style, they can transition from dress to casual with ease; a laced-up oxford can often seem too prim. These shoes look great with an oxford shirt and khakis for Thanksgiving dinner at the grandparent’s house. With his suit for work, or for a wedding. With the merino v-neck and trousers for a party at a friend’s house. These shoes go with every pant in my husband’s wardrobe except jeans, and fit every occasion where pants other than jeans are appropriate. On top of that, they are comfortable!

13. A pair of Euro sneakers or rugged leather oxford shoes – These are what you wear when you can’t wear the black loafers. Euro sneakers are leather, subtle in color and sleek in design. They are a dressier version of traditional tennies. If Euro sneakers are not your thing, consider a pair of sturdy oxfords – my husband has a pair of brown lace-ups from Merrell that have contrast stitching, sturdy laces and a chunky sole. My good friend has stayed tried and true to his black Dr. Martens for the past two decades. Like Euro sneakers, these shoes can fill in where the black loafer cannot – with jeans and to dress down khakis.

14. A wool winter coat – The parka is great for cold days, and the fleece is an easy layer for weekends. However for work, for evening, and for special occasions you need something not made of Gortex. A wool coat in black, charcoal or dark navy will get years of wear. Consider a traditional peacoat style – it works well with jeans and tee shirts or with suits. A single breasted style will make a thicker man look leaner and a shorter man look taller. As with the rest of these wardrobe basics, keep it simple. Buttons should be the same tone as the coat, collars and shoulders should not have adornments. A simple lining is good for moderate climates, consider a Thinsulate lining for those residing in the more northern of states.

15. Black leather dress belt – you need something to keep up those khakis and tropical weight wool trousers. A dress best is not like your casual belts – the leather is stiff and glossy. The buckle is polished and minimal. The whole style is slim, sleek and refined. The rugged brown leather belts with the hammered steel buckle is fine for the weekends, but should never be paired with suits or nice trousers. Your belt should always match the color of your shoes – as that I have only recommended black dress shoes, you will only need a black dress belt.

Additional Items You May Need:

  1. A bathing suit in a simple pattern or solid that hits near the knees, without going below the knee
  2. A French blue dress button-down shirt
  3. Ties – stripes for work, solids for formal affairs, patterns for festive occasions. You should own at least two.
  4. Casual button down shirts – for work with khakis, for play with jeans. Look for wrinkle-resistant styles so they can be easily washed and dried. Subtle stripes, solids in colors you enjoy and fit your personality, muted plaids. These shirts should be tucked in, one button unbuttoned without an undershirt, two buttons unbuttoned with a tee shirt underneath.

What to Remove from Your Wardrobe:

  1. Any jeans with bleached out areas, sandblasted, or stonewashed
  2. Any classic fit, overly baggy or tapered jeans
  3. Short sleeved dress shirts – these look goofy on everyone. If you’re hot, roll your sleeves
  4. Plaid flannel shirts as work shirts – just because you tuck it in does not mean it is work or socially appropriate. Flannels are for casual affairs: camping, cold nights and weekends in the yard (my husband asked me to include Pearl Jam concerts)
  5. Tee shirts with witty logos/cartoon characters/lewd jokes – these are corny, crass and tacky. Silly shirts are for college kids, not adult professionals.
  6. White socks unless you are performing an athletic activity.
  7. Sports jerseys unless you are attending a sporting event, participating in a sporting event, or going to a sport-themed party. Rappers can carry off a sports jersey for a red carpet event; until you have the bankroll of a rapper, you cannot dress like one. You will look childish or goofy.
  8. Sweatpants with elastic at the ankle. Any sweatpants or athletic bottoms should be reserved to the gym and your home when you don’t have guests. However, traditional elastic sweatpants are horribly unflattering and tacky.
  9. That brown leather bomber jacket you have had since college. It was hip in the 90’s, it is NOT hip today.
  10. Athletic sneakers with shorts. Invest in some leather or athletic-inspired sandals. Sneakers with shorts look ridiculous and immature. Traditional sneakers are only for athletic events.
  11. Denim shorts. NO buts about it, there is NEVER a good time to wear denim shorts.
  12. Cliff Huxtable sweaters. Get rid of the jewel tones, the funky patterns and textures. Solids are safe and flattering. The crazy patterned sweaters look dated.
  13. Mock turtlenecks. Whoever invented these should be shot. The only version of turtleneck you should be wearing would be on the ski slopes or part of a chunky sweater. There is never an appropriate place for knit mock turtlenecks

What Every Man Needs in his Wardrobe: My Two Cents by Terry

what every man needs in his wardrobe

Many of you have asked for an update to my post, “What Every MAN Needs in his Wardrobe.” And I have been saying to myself that it’s about time I updated it.  Since the last update in 2010 (original in 2006), men’s fashion has changed pretty drastically, from casual footwear to the cut and wash of denim.  I began the process, but then decided it would be more authentic and accurate if written from the perspective of a man interested and aware of style.

When deciding who would be best for the job I immediately thought of Terry S., the man behind Terry’s Two Cents. Terry’s has real-life attainable personal style, he knows how to dress for the workplace and the everyday in a current manner without being too trendy or too out there. As a husband, father, and a job in higher education, Terry understands the sartorial needs of many men. Let’s see what Terry thinks of my 2010 list (click to read the details and the whys to each piece) and how he would adjust it for 2015:

what every man needs in his closet

The lovely Alison has graciously asked me for my “two cents” on updating her 2010 post of what every man needs in his wardrobe. Naturally, I jumped at the chance. Here is her original list, and my thoughts on whether I agree or disagree with it, as well as any changes I’d like to make.

1. Crisp White Cotton Shirt

ABSOLUTELY. Every single man should have at LEAST one of these in his wardrobe. Narrow and more tailored cuts are preferred.

2. Comfortable Jeans in a Semi-dark Color

I agree with having a dark wash jean, but I’d even say that also owning a pair of light wash jeans are great as well. Jeans are extremely versatile, and can be used to be casual, or even dressy. Some people may not like bootcut, so I always recommend going with what is comfortable to you. Slim, or even straight legs are great. Stay away from going too baggy.

3. A Black Merino V-neck Sweater

Yes. I’d even go to add a red and/or a blue one to this. Most men are a little hesitant to experiment with color, and a sweater is a great way to try it out. It can also give your look a little something extra when going with a color.

4. Flat Front Tropical Weight Wool Trousers in Grey

Agreed. I would go with a medium weight so that they could be worn year-round without worrying about being too hot or too cold. Flat front is definitely more modern than pleated, and grey is pretty versatile.

5. A Black Suiting Blazer with Three Buttons

A great blazer is ALWAYS a good choice to have in the wardrobe. Personally, I prefer two buttons instead of three, as it tends to look better on just about all body shapes and sizes.

6. A Grey Suit

Yes. A charcoal grey suit should be a great first (or even only) suit for men. It has a little bit more versatility than a black suit, and should be every bit as timeless and classic.

7. Three Solid-colored Polo Shirts

I’d even go further to say four: black, white, and two colors you like to wear. Usually something like red and blue are safest, but this is another great way to experiment with colors.

8. Flat-front Chinos in a Khaki Color

Absolutely. While the grey trousers are great for more dressy looks, khaki ones are great for more casual looks, and still look dressier than wearing jeans.

9. A Pair of Sandals

Definitely, especially for the summer months. What’s better than rocking a beach-inspired dressy look of your white button up shirt, sleeves rolled up partially, khaki chinos, and a good pair of leather sandals?

10. Longer Shorts in Olive or Khaki

Longer shorts are definitely great. I like to wear shorts that either to right to the knee, or an inch or so above the knee. Any shorter might make them look like they’re too small, and longer cargo-type shorts aren’t really that stylish nowadays. Definitely in khaki. I’d also lean more toward a grey pair over an olive pair.

11. A Casual Sweater with a Crew Neckline

Sometimes. To me, crew necklines for sweaters tend to be more limiting. If pairing them with a collared shirt, you will only be able to see the collar, so forget wearing a tie with it. If having to choose, I’d go with a v-neck sweater first.

12. Black Leather Slip-on Dress Loafers

Yes, yes, YES. Great way to even instantly dress up a fairly casual look, and also great to showcase some crazy socks (like I like to wear).

13. A Pair of Euro Sneakers or Rugged Leather Oxford Shoes

Yes. I personally prefer these type of sneakers over athletic ones, because you can dress them up and still look put-together.

14. A Wool Winter Coat

Absolutely. I’m a personal fan of either a peacoat or a car coat. Both are classic and timeless.

15. Black Leather Dress Belt

Agreed. I would even go further to add a brown leather dress belt as well. Or, even better, a reversible belt. Kill two birds with one stone.

What would I add to the list?

16. Trenchcoat

These are about as timeless as one can get. Super stylish, and they NEVER go out of style. It might be tempting to go for one in color, but I would recommend sticking with the traditional khaki color. If you can find one with a removable liner inside for the colder months, that’s even better.


Terry's Two CentsTerry is a husband, father, Apple techie, stylist, geek, gamer, Starbucks drinker, people watcher, fashionisto.

Read more about his two cents on life and style at his blog, Twitter, and Instagram.

BlogHer 2015: A Conference Recap

sheknows blogher 2015 experts among us conferenceI’ve been blogging a decade and I’ve never attended a blogging conference. While I love Wardrobe Oxygen and do see it as a job, my day job and family take precedence and I just couldn’t justify using my hard-earned PTO to fly across the country alone to network with bloggers and brands. But this year, BlogHer was in New York. And this year I turned 40. And Wardrobe Oxygen turned 10. And Emerson turned 6, which is a great age for travel and new experiences. So when I mentioned the BlogHer conference to Karl he suggested the three of us head to the Big Apple together. On my birthday this past January I bought my conference ticket and booked our room at the Hilton Midtown.

And then I proceeded to forget about it. Birthdays, final arm surgeries, my blog anniversary party, most everything else took priority. Next thing I knew it was two weeks until we were leaving and I hadn’t done any planning. What did I have to pack? What was I going to WEAR??? To add to my panic, when I received the email from BlogHer that Boys II Men were performing at the closing party I realized OMG OMG OMG I had our hotel reservation set to check out Saturday!  I tried to update our reservation online but the hotel was sold out.  I called Hilton and thanks to my old job requiring me to travel so often I was a HHonors member and was able to get a deluxe room for Saturday night and at the standard room rate (note to all, join those free honor programs, it can’t hurt and can help in a pinch!).

Then to add to my piss-poor planning panic, after talking to Hilton and updating our reservation I was in Emerson’s room with her.  She forgot to X out the previous day on her calendar so we got a marker and did it together and discussed upcoming events.  I reminded her of our upcoming trip to New York and noticed “Sleepover at Grandma’s” on the Sunday after BlogHer.  OMG OMG OMG that sleepover is because Karl and I had tickets to My Morning Jacket.  Did I really double-book BlogHer and MMJ?  You KNOW my love for this band, but even if I did decide to miss the show for BlogHer, my tickets were bought through the fan club and at Will Call, I wouldn’t even be able to sell them or give them to a friend!  I FREAKED.  I went into our room and Karl was in there, I started discussing options – we could leave after my last session Saturday, get home that evening, and still be rested and fresh for the concert the next day.  We could leave right after the closing party, drive through the night, sleep in late and then go to the concert.  I have an old expired license, maybe my sister could take that or my passport and pick up our tickets and sell them or give them to a friend, we do look an awful lot a like.  I started crying (let’s also add I had PMS, insomnia the night prior, and a very stressful project at work) and Karl remembers during my freak-out I said, “But I love My Morning Jacket more than blogging!”  Yeah, don’t think I’ll ever live that down.  I texted my sister about my predicament and she reminded me that the concert was the FOLLOWING Sunday.  Yep, I went bonkers and never checked any of the other calendars in the house to realize I wrote sleepover in the wrong Sunday box on that damn Frozen calendar.

I got sleep, my period came and went, the project went well at work, and somehow I got my act together.  The weekend before we left I washed all the clothes in the house, got a mani and pedi and brow wax, took plenty of bedroom mirror selfies and texted to my sister for outfit advice, and got packed by Sunday night.  New York City, here we come!



A peek into our hotel room, and Emerson dressing up “like a fashion blogger.” I didn’t know fashion bloggers wore the paper covers for hotel drink glasses on their heads, I need to get with that look STAT! You can also see to the left the ever-growing pile of swag.

When pricing taking Amtrak from DC to NYC, we found it was pretty much the same price to take our fuel-efficient car and park at the hotel. Having our car gave us control over when we would arrive and leave and gave us more space for luggage so we decided to drive. It was only a three and a half hour trip, even driving through insane sideways walls of rain on the Jersey Turnpike. We arrived around 1pm Wednesday and check-in at the Hotel Midtown was super friendly and fast. I’m not really sure what a standard room looks like but our HHonors-upgraded room was clean, spacious enough for three people, on the 22nd floor and had a nice view. Wish it had a fridge and coffee maker but otherwise the room had great energy; Karl hates hotels but found this one really comfortable and restful and we all enjoyed our time there.

As mentioned in my “What I Wore to BlogHer” post, we arrived the day before the conference and I went to Getting Gorgeous.  Getting Gorgeous was a big expo hall full of vendors. The main vendor was Restalyne Silk, and they had a roped-off area where they were doing on the spot injections, makeup touch ups, and had a lounge area with non-alcoholic beverages and small treats like macarons and mini cupcakes. Bali was there, offering bra fittings and recommendations and each attendee who got sized received a free bra that would be mailed to their residence in the near future. Trollbeads had a station where you could pick a leather cord and bead and make a bracelet. Chobani let you decorate a lunchbox with chalkboard stickers and pens and when I mentioned my yogurt-loving daughter was back at the hotel, they gave me an insulated bag stuffed to the gills with all their squeezeable yogurt products for kids. The event was weird and overwhelming to me.  I’ve been blogging for 10 years and have gotten over the excitement of swag.  I came with my Rebecca Minkoff Mini M.A.C. which was far too small to hold all the crazy crap vendors were shoving in my hands, and the place was noisy and crowded and full of people who were hell-bent on getting as much free crap they could possibly hold.  I was glad they provided a reusable tote when leaving; it too had a bunch of stuff in it, but gave me the ability to carry home all this randomness.  Seriously, I came with acne skincare (I have no acne), a baby blanket and hooded towel (I have no baby), and 50 Chobani products (and no hotel refrigerator).  However, I met up with Sarah, she introduced me to a few people, and I got out and about in New York and got a bunch more stuff to add to my ‘Snag my Swag’ giveaway!


Before the conference festivities started, I had a meeting with NYC-based company AlterKnit (stay tuned, I’ll be sharing more about this company in a future post) so I headed down to the lobby lounge and had a glass of wine with the owner and our quick meeting went much longer than planned because she’s such a cool woman with such a unique company and we just had a blast chatting about fashion, our retail backgrounds, and much more. This was so great; I SUCK at pitching myself, networking, and schmoozing. This brand reached out to me seeing I’d be in NYC, she was kind enough to meet me at the hotel, and it put me at ease for the rest of this networking/conference trip.

I planned on meeting some fellow attendees from a private Facebook group for the conference at the hotel bar and also wanted to see the keynote speaker but my chat with this brand went long so I went up to the 3rd floor and checked in for the conference and got my big bag of swag. I knew I’d be getting even more swag that evening so I went up to the room and dropped off the tote and then went back down to Evening at the Expo.

As I mentioned before, Evening at the Expo is insane. Two floors of vendors each outdoing one another with better swag and promotions. I had no idea how big it would be, even though many told me to bring additional luggage for swag. People were PREPARED, some even had rolly carts and backpacks to carry their swag. I thought it was weird until I started walking through and realized how incredibly brilliant they were. I played Plinko at Dunkin Donuts and won a reusable cold beverage sipper, had my face scanned at La Roache-Posay to see my sun damage and received some samples, ate a bit of ice cream at Baskin-Robbins, picked up some flash tattoos for Emerson at WordPress, and saw a ton of familiar faces and passed out a ton of business cards. While the majority of attendees were awesome, there were some swagaholics there bulldozing through the crowd and freaking out over tubes of toothpaste and it was a bit overwhelming. I started on the main floor and grabbed a glass of champagne but only got halfway through when I realized it was almost 7pm. I promised to have dinner with Karl and Emerson so I took my bulging bag of swag and raced back upstairs.

After just four hours in my pumps were plenty and I switched into my SoftSpots sandals even though they didn’t “go” and we walked a couple blocks to Rue 57. Karl and Emerson had checked out Central Park while I was away and they too were a bit exhausted with achy feet. Dinner was amazing, but Emerson wasn’t feeling well and didn’t have any appetite. We wrapped it up a bit quickly so we could get her back to the room. After a warm bath she felt better and fell asleep pretty quickly.


I took a lot of selfies in the mirrors across the elevators while waiting for one to arrive. I took this one on my way to the StyleCaster suite.

Once she was asleep, I left again for the StyleCaster suite. This seemed to be the only fashion-specific event at BlogHer so I felt I HAD to attend. I put back on my pumps, fluffed my hair, reapplied my lip gloss and arrived around 9 (the event went from 8-10). The suite was so full, there was a line outside and we couldn’t go in until others left. After 30 minutes in line I got in. It was a small living room area, same size dining room area, a bar separating a kitchen area, and then a long hallway to a bedroom. It had to be at least 80 degrees in there and wall to wall people. The living room was full of people frantically typing on their phones, at the half wall between the living and dining room was a woman Periscoping her experience with a selfie stick. In the dining room was a huge machine where you could get your BlogHer tote silkscreened with an image on the back – sunglasses, palm trees, that sort of thing and more people making selfie videos for social media. Along the wall was a make your own taco station which considering the crowd, heat, and that I was there over an hour after the event started looked pretty sketchy and anyways I was full on steak tartare. I was offered a glass of champagne but instead asked for club soda on ice and blew on the drink to send cold air towards my face as I walked down the hall to see what was in the final room. To be honest, I can’t recall what was going on in there, but it wasn’t anything that looked appealing enough for me to wedge myself through the bodies to experience. It seemed the swag from the event was camo-printed flip flops that looked the size and style to be for men and even though they were huge and not terribly fashionable, attendees were stuffing pair after pair in their bags as though it was the Lily for Target collection. I had enough, my club soda and I raced to the elevator and within a half hour had showered and was in my jammies in bed hoping the next day at the conference would be better.


Breakfast was at 8am; I forgot to set an alarm but I also forgot to close the curtains that evening and we all woke up with the sun. Karl went down to the lobby to score us some coffee and that journey took 45 minutes. I think everyone had the same idea! I got ready, kissed the fam, and headed down to the 3rd floor Ballroom.  I didn’t come with anyone and hadn’t coordinated with anyone for breakfast, which I actually liked. I showed up, went through the buffet, and then found a seat at an empty table (I was there pretty early, like 8:15). As the hour went by, my table filled up with an incredibly diverse group of women. A boomer humorist, a pair of women who have a health products business and blog, an erotica writer… this is starting to sound like a “…walked into a bar” joke but it really was that crazy diverse! After was the welcome from the folks at SheKnows and BlogHer, and then the keynote speakers – Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chavez and journalist and Starfish Foundation founder Soledad O’Brien. However I had set up a 9:15 meeting with another company. He was running late, I had yet to get the lay of the land, I ended up on the second floor of the Expo hall to find his booth and wait for him and saw a couple vendors including RealTimes. RealTimes reached out to me before the conference and asked me to make a 60-second video with their product for them to show at their booth. I got there and there was me on their big screens! It was a totally surreal experience and if you follow me on Instagram you saw a bit of it. Here’s the video below in its entirety; RealTimes is a pretty cool tool that makes it uber easy to take your photos and videos and create a gorgeous polished video right from your phone. Not only that, it’s easy to share with friends and family.

So I finally met up with the rep from the company but by this time I was running late for a session with Amazon. He was kind enough to race all over the hotel with me as I was trying to figure out where the hell this session was. I couldn’t find it ANYWHERE and once I figured it out, I had missed it as well as Speed Dating (a way for newbie conference attendees to get to know one another). It was time for the first learning session so I shook the rep’s hand goodbye and went off to find my next destination.

There were a ton of interesting sessions, but I decided on Personal Brand for Creatives. The session was to help people “clarify their true personal brands.” I was a few minutes late and slipped in the back and found a seat. Ten minutes later, I was, as they stated in the welcome, voting with my feet and walking out the door. It may be because I’ve been blogging for so long, it may be because I heard almost the same Stepford Blog advice at rewardStyle MasterClass a few weeks prior, or it may be because I couldn’t take them saying, “like ummmmmm, like soooooo, like wow, like” any more but I had to get out of there right away. I ended up walking out at the same time as Jeniese. I had never met Jeniese before but I knew her blog and style and Sarah had virtually introduced us and was excited to catch up with her. We headed to lunch where we joined Georgette and Sandra and got pretty decent seats for the next keynote speaker – Gwyneth Paltrow. I’ve never been a Gwyneth lover or hater. She’s not really on my radar. But I must say her discussion with BlogHer co-founder Elisa Camahort Page was pretty awesome, candid, and relatable!

After lunch I said goodbye for now to my new friends and raced to my next session. Again, it was hard to choose a topic, but I decided to go hard or go home and went with Blog to Book. I’ve wanted to write a book since I was in elementary school and it’s the reason why I started a blog. The session description said it would, “…dig into the three components that are now a necessary part of any prospective author’s toolkit: content, a proposal, and your platform.” The three panelists were very different and reached their book deals in very different ways. I loved hearing their stories and liked them as people (and now want to read all of their books), but I didn’t feel as though I left with any concrete tools that will help me reach any goal.

I was starting to feel very OVER this conference. The crowds, the meh sessions, and oh my GAWD all the people oblivious to the world around them taking up the middle of aisles, speaking loudly in sessions, using selfie sticks, and doing whatever they wanted to get the content they desired for their blog or social media. I don’t want to be one of these people. I don’t want to miss life because I’m so busy documenting it. I won’t want to be the asshole with the selfie stick bumping into people to try to get my good side in good light. Any hint at considering Periscope or Snapchat went completely out the window seeing all these rude folks being utterly insane with their phones and tablets. I decided then and there if tomorrow’s first session was also meh I was leaving the conference and spending the rest of my time with my family seeing the city.

I thought this as I raced upstairs to the Amazon suite, which I finally found. I walked in and my blood pressure immediately lowered. The staff was peppy, but not manic. And I realized one thing that was missing that transformed me – daylight! The suite was full of windows and the sun was streaming in. It was 3:30pm by this point and it was the first time I had seen the outside since I left the hotel room that morning. I got there a bit early and instead of taking a seat in front, I went near the back where there was a couch and got a spot next to a wall, armrest, and a window I could comfortably look out. The room was beautifully decorated, very airy but festive. The room started to fill, but everyone seemed as chilled out as I was feeling that moment. One of the employees from Amazon came over, she recognized me and told me how much she liked my blog and capsule wardrobes. Dee ended up sitting next to me, I loaned her my phone charger and we talked fashion blogging, photography, and monetization. The presentation was beneficial; I’ve been part of Amazon’s affiliate program, Associates, for many years but don’t make much money from it. I know many bloggers who find it to be their best source of income but couldn’t figure out how. I learned about some nice looking and useful tools they’re rolling out later this year and learned more about the Fashion division at Amazon.

After the session, my new Amazon buddy came over and we chatted a bit more in depth and I shared my issues with the Associates program and how other programs were easier and faster to find links and make widgets (like those rotating image carousels I’ve started using in posts for shopping the looks or finding related products). She said this was super helpful and did I have time to walk down to Amazon’s NYC headquarters and chat with some of their developers and folks on their Fashion team? Um… heck yeah! It was nice, we spent about an hour and I was completely honest with them about how yes, I do want to make money on the blog but no, I don’t want to be spammy and make this site a shill-fest to do so. I let them know that you readers keep me in line – you call me out when I make bad sponsorship decisions (doubt I’ll be partnering with a car or kitchen appliance company again!), you tell me when I make it harder for you to peruse the site or when my pricepoints are too high. I’m not going to sacrifice your trust in me for a few bucks. They got it, and unlike a lot of other affiliate programs I’ve used they thought that was awesome and showed me tools that not only look good and aren’t intrusive, but are pretty useful. Expect to see some of them used by me in the future, I look forward to your honest feedback.

I walked back to the hotel around 6pm and the streets were full of folks getting off work. The weather was gorgeous and I likely strutted down the street, I felt great. Also, I was outside! Fresh air! And while I was completely surrounded by people for the first time all day I felt I was alone and loved it. And then it clicked. The “it” I’ve come to call Festival Mode.

No matter how many times I go to a music festival, the first day is overwhelming. The crowds, the smells, the walking. Oh gosh, all these young kids, I feel so old, I feel so fat. Oh gosh I have to race here, race there, can’t miss this show, can’t miss that meetup! I dash around, a crazed woman cracked out on FOMO and the day ends either with a headache, an argument with Karl, or me passed out asleep on a blanket in some field. Then the next day I wake up and remember that this event is on my terms. I stop worrying about not being this or that, I stop stressing out about sticking to a schedule. It’s not about what I can’t but what I am. I wear what makes me feel confident, I let the day take the reins instead of an Excel spreadsheet, I embrace my independence and have a blast.

Walking past Radio City Music Hall that afternoon I finally hit Festival Mode and was ready to rock this conference! I had missed the Voices of the Year Community Keynote and Reception but that’s okay. I’m not going to stress on what I missed but focus on what I will experience.  I went upstairs, took a shower, got dressed, and was ready for the next adventure on my schedule.

josh peck blogher 2015

I royally impressed my 21-year-old cousin with this photo

At 7:30 I was scheduled to see an early screening of Grandfathered, a sitcom coming out this fall starring John Stamos and Josh Peck. I got there a bit early and the Voices of the Year reception was still happening so I grabbed a plate of finger food and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. I went into the viewing room, got a seat in the front row, and enjoyed a very funny show with very nice eye candy starring as I had my nice little snack. After, Josh Peck came out and answered questions and then got his picture taken with all the attendees. I’m too old to go all gaga for him (he was the Josh from the kids show Drake & Josh) but a lot of the attendees were mega fangirling. He handled it so well, he was so funny and charming and made the best off the cuff jokes. For example, the host said, “we have a question from Corinne from The Feminist Feline…” and he cut in and said, “that’s my favorite site!” It was even funnier when they read her question and it was her asking him for his hand in marriage!



There’s me at the end of the table! Photo via SheKnows.

Instead of regular breakfast in the ballroom, I signed up to attend the SheKnows Influencer breakfast. I was recently accepted into this program and knew jack about it. The breakfast was in the same exact size and layout suite as the one for StyleCaster but with only about a dozen in attendance it was far more comfortable. They had a photographer set up in the bedroom to take headshots, and in the dining room they had breakfast burritos and plenty of coffee and juice. I sat down with a few other bloggers (Jenni, Kat, James, and Mitch) and we had such an animated conversation I ended up not learning anything about the Influencer program! Julie and Jenny just said come back for the afternoon ice cream social and we could chat then.

I had a makeover session scheduled at the Infusium 23 booth but had so much fun chatting with other bloggers I was late. No biggie, I’m in Festival Mode, so I went to the ballroom where The Pitch was taking place. The Pitch was an opportunity for some female entrepreneurs to share their 60-second speech and answer questions from a panel of successful women in business. Then we the audience could vote for the winner via Twitter. It was such a cool and inspiring session, the amazing programs and products these women created and how passionate they were. It was hard to pick a favorite, Majora Carter, one of the most inspiring, won. Learn more about her program, Start up Box, here.

On to the next one… my next session was Video Content Development and Storyboarding. Yep, I plan on getting into video this year! And I have to say this panel was amazing. I wrote three pages of notes. The panelists were Jenni Chiu of MommyNaniBooboo (who was also at the Influencers breakfast and super nice person), Melissa Haggerty from SheKnows, and Kim Holderness who you may know from her family viral hit video, “Christmas Jammies.” These women kept it real. They didn’t speak generalizations but gave concrete advice, offered specific equipment to purchase, real tips on monetization and SEO. But the best part of the panel was over and over Kim Holderness would reply to questions with, “GET OVER YOURSELF.” As I mentioned in my last BlogHer post, she wasn’t being a jerk, she was just reminding us to stop letting perfection hold us back. We don’t need fancy equipment or editing skills or good lighting. We just need to do it. And it was such a good slap in the face for me. I hold back on a lot in life because I don’t think I am ready or good enough. And I just need to get over myself and DO. I left feeling really positive and inspired.  When I stepped out I saw my friend Stephanie from Popnod.  She took my picture in front of the BlogHer plant wall for this great project she’s doing.

I then headed back to the Expo. I had yet to really see all the vendors. I started on the second floor, said hi to the Infusium 23 folks and they apologized for not being able to fit me in later and gave me some products and coupons. I walked past the RealTimes booth and again my video was up there and someone said, “OMIGOD THAT’S YOU!” and it felt totally surreal and I giggled. I met a company who makes really stylish glasses for people like me who sit in front of computers all day and we shared contact information – I think they’re a smart fit for the blog and I’ll see if I can get some discount or giveaway from them for you all. I met with an affiliate program I occasionally use and gave them my honest thoughts about their site and how awkward it is and why I hardly ever use it. I went back downstairs and played Plinko again to win Karl and Emerson matching pink Dunkin Donuts sunglasses.  However, most of the vendors at the Expo were not appropriate for Wardrobe Oxygen.  In fact, I found there was a major disconnect between the women I met at the conference and the brands.  I met so many women who blogged about things other than motherhood and housekeeping, yet most of the vendors were geared towards moms, frugal living, and bargains for the home.  The women in attendance were savvy businesswomen, even if their blogs are solely hobbies; yet vendors pushing their affiliate programs were SHOCKED that I not only knew what Alexa was, but my blog’s monthly visitors, bouncerate, and pageviews off the top of my head.  As a fashion and beauty blogger, I could count the vendors on one hand that were appropriate for the blog.

I decided to miss lunch and Christy Turlington Burns speaking and instead left the hotel and went to lunch with Karl and Emerson. They both agreed I seemed like a different person from the day before. I felt like one. I wasn’t stressed, I wasn’t panicked and I wasn’t doubting myself. The crowds weren’t annoying me, I was taking the positive and ignoring the negative and having fun. After lunch, I headed to the second session which was also about video. This panel… not as useful. It seemed both general and too specific for me who has yet to publish a single video so in the words of Elisa Camahort Page, I voted with my feet and left.

I went back to the SheKnows suite for their second SheKnows Influencers meeting, and this time I was able to talk to Julie and a bunch of the other amazing people like Liz.  Seriously, I have never met a company that has such wonderful personalities.  All so different, so unique, opinionated, and warm.  Big fan.  I did a quick video about who I am and what I am an expert in and again enjoyed being in a room that had windows.  After this get together, I went back to the hotel room, Emerson and Karl were there taking naps and I decided to join them. Took a quick 30-minute rest, a shower and got ready for the evening.

BlogHer 2015 closing party image via WetPaint

See the guy kinda in the middle of the audience in the electric blue shirt? My short self was standing next to him! (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for McDonald’s via wetpaint)

Chartered buses took BlogHer attendees to Pier 84 where the area was cordoned off. We showed our bracelets, had our lanyards scanned and entered what sort of reminded me of the VIP section of a music festival. There was a huge stage, a couple gazebos with outdoor furniture, tables with colorful Lucite chairs, mats out on the grass. The event was sponsored by McDonald’s and there were these cute boys in red tee shirts that said “I’m Lovin’ It!” with lucite trays full of Cheeseburgers, Chicken McNuggets, and McFrappes. There was a DJ on stage playing popular pop tunes with the occasional throwback mixed in. The weather was lovely, we were next to The Intrepid and could see folks lining up for ferry. I grabbed a cheeseburger and headed to the open bar, where there was an insane selection of SVEDKA flavored vodkas you could mix with McDonald’s regular and strawberry lemonade and other beverages. I grabbed a drink and took a walk around this surreal environment. I danced a bit, People Watched behind my Ray-Ban aviators, and then went out to the water’s edge to see the view and take a breather from the hyper color and intensity of it all. Then they announced that Boyz II Men were taking the stage.

THIS is why I stuck around Saturday and had a mild panic attack over Emerson’s calendar error. I graduated from high school in 1993 and Boyz II Men were EVERYTHING then. While I was late getting to the stage, once a lot of bloggers got their selfies with the band in the background and SnapChatted a bit of the show, they dispersed and I could move forward. They sounded pretty good, and at first they weren’t into it and I felt like it was an obligation for them before they headed to Atlantic City that evening for a show they actually DID want to do. But when all the selfie sticks went down and the crowd left were actually interested they too seemed more interested. They did four songs and the audience loved it. And yep, I too did a selfie, but tried to keep my phone out of other people’s faces.

But after they left the stage, I was ready to go. I had two very sweet vodka drinks and a room temperature cheeseburger and had no desire for more. The shuttles weren’t going back to the hotel yet so I used my Uber app and got a ride home with two other bloggers staying at the Hilton. I got back just in time to catch Karl and Emerson getting ready to go to dinner; we decided to finish the trip off with a bang and went to a steakhouse where I enjoyed a NY Strip, broccoli, and a glass of Cabernet that was hella better than McDonald’s and got to hear all about Emerson’s exciting adventures in the city.

A few things I recommend taking to BlogHer or a similar conference:

  • A surge protector. There’s never enough outlets in a hotel room and they’re always hard to reach under furniture. We plugged this one under the desk and had plenty of outlets in easy reach.
  • External battery pack. I got this one and it held juice for several days and took my phone from 10% to 75% in the time it took Gwyneth to do her keynote. Worth it.
  • A Sharpie.  Sharpies are great for writing on really glossy business cards (write on each card you get some sort of trigger to help you remember the person associated with the card) and marketing materials.  I had plenty of pens but found I used my Sharpie at least once a day.
  • Notebook.  I totally thought when I went I’d be taking my laptop and live-blogging or at least typing at a lot of the sessions.  Newp.  That thing is heavy, the wireless was spotty, and most sessions you don’t have a desk or table in front of you.  I brought an old-school composition notebook which was utter perfection – lightweight but a hard cover making it easy to jot down notes from my lap.  Also I could tear out a page to write a note for another attendee without ruining it.
  • Business cards with your photo on them. Take 200, you’ll likely come home with some but you’ll pass out more than you expect. Others are doing the same and once you get home it’s easy to forget who was the person associated with the card. Get some with your photo (and a recent one where you look like you) and be sure the colors and branding match your blog so you’re easy to remember.  I made my business card design on PicMonkey (Google the pixel size of specific business cards you’re ordering to make your graphic fit nicely) and then had them made by MOO, who not only provides gorgeous high-quality cards that stand out in a crowd, they send them in a nice box that keeps them from getting all bent up and grody in your bag.
  • Water. Take a water bottle with you. Stay hydrated. Yes, there’s water machines around but a little Dixie cup isn’t enough to keep you functioning at your best.  A reusable bottle is great since there were plenty of stations where you could refill it.
  • Flat shoes. Even if you’re a heels girl like me, you NEED flat shoes, and I don’t mean ballet flats or cheap flip flops. You want some structure and cushioning because you’re going to be on your feet a lot.  I wore my SoftSpots a lot and loved how the Aerosoles Screen Saver sandals had thin delicate straps but didn’t dig and they had super cushy soles. Along with this, have shoe variety so your feet get a break each day with the change.
  • Space for swag. When they say you need a separate suitcase for your swag, they’re right. I ended up using a reusable tote provided at one of the booths, but if you’re taking public transportation plan ahead with plenty of space for what is worthy to take home.
  • A smartly designed tote. This is not the place for your adorable little crossbody. You want a structured bag that can sit upright when placed on a table, slips over your shoulder comfortably, and has a place for everything. I took the Dagne Dover tote and it was brilliant; I ended up not carrying around my laptop but I did have a notebook, pens and Sharpies, water, business cards, my phone, my battery pack, a makeup bag, a snack, mints, and the occasional unexpected swag and this bag kept it all organized. I could grab a pen or business card without having to remove the bag from my shoulder and dig around. Saved time and I looked far more polished than rummaging around squatting on the floor.

Would I Go to BlogHer Again?

I don’t know. I didn’t learn a ton, and while I met some amazing and wonderful people it wasn’t really my niche for blogging so I don’t think it benefitted me professionally or creatively. I think if I was a personal blogger I would go every year because the conference is really set up to help bloggers get their voice heard. The conference was extremely well organized, it was a lot of fun and the BlogHer and SheKnows people are AMAZING, but as a fashion blogger I’d likely take a pass and try a different conference next year unless there was a special event fitting my niche or I was asked to speak on a panel. But I am so glad I did go, it was a great experience and it left me feeling inspired and renewed!

Ask Allie: Capsule Wardrobe for Cruise and Resort Evenings

I LOVE your wardrobe capsules. They are always amazing. I would love to see a simple mix and match capsule for evening. Specifically, I just returned from a 10-day cruise of the Caribbean. It was amazing, with one glitch. The evening dress code was smart casual; and on a cruise ship this is more dressy than I expected (I’m from California, where jeans are cocktail attire!). I was woefully underdressed with dowdy shoes. I usually travel with black and white clothing, but a color capsule would be awesome too!

While I haven’t been on a cruise for a few years, I have experienced the issue of “smart casual” and formal nights on cruise ships, and understand how hard it is to dress appropriately for the situation. Not only are you dealing with limited luggage space, but you have folks from all over the globe dressing in all sorts of different manners. I found it’s best to pack simple garments and statement-making accessories.

Three years ago, I was asked to be in my friend’s wedding and she let me pick any black dress I desired as my Matron of Honor gown. I got a black matte jersey maxi dress from Calvin Klein that had twisted straps that were thin but thick enough to cover my bra, a faux wrap skirt, and a self-tie belt. I wore that dress for the wedding with black heeled sandals and a statement necklace. A few months later I attended a destination wedding in Charleston, South Carolina and wore that same dress with flat gold sandals, gold dangly earrings, and an armful of gold bangles. I also wore that dress with beaded earrings and a weathered brown leather belt and brown leather thongs. My point is that such a dress is surprisingly versatile. Choosing a silky jersey (Rachel Pally dresses fit the bill, are a classic style and come in a broad range of sizes) or matte jersey (Calvin Klein continues to have great options season after season) maxi dress means you can dress it up or down with ease and it will travel well (few wrinkles, any you get can come out easily if in the room with a hot shower).

Here I took a simple black maxi dress and showed how a switch of accessories can completely transform it. I know you mentioned comfort shoes in a different part of your Ask Allie request, so I chose shoes that aren’t sky-high. The wedge can easily be lower or even flat – another perk of maxi dresses is that they look great with flat shoes and said shoes aren’t the focal point of the ensemble.

A black maxi dress is a great choice if you have a formal night, but many cruises and resorts just require “smart casual” or “festive” attire. This capsule wardrobe helps you pack light but with many options:

  1. Maxi skirt with sequined tank and black sandals
  2. Maxi skirt with orange top and gold sandals
  3. Maxi skirt with a simple neutral tank or tee in your luggage, gold belt and gold sandals
  4. Black jersey pants with sequined top and black sandals
  5. Black jersey pants with orange top and black sandals
  6. Black jersey pants with sheer top and black sandals
  7. White jeans with any of the three tops and gold sandals (add the hoops, bracelet, and belt for discothèque drama)
  8. Black jersey tee shirt dress with black sandals
  9. Black dress with gold belt and gold sandals
  10. Black skirt with any of the tops and either sandals

This can be dressed up with a different choice of shoe (a heel is always seen as more formal), switching the pants to a tuxedo or shantung cigarette pant, the skirt to something sparkly, the dress to something more form-fitting or dramatic in silhouette. However, I used this based upon my own experiences on cruises and at resorts, where some nights you will find folks in full-length gowns, the other nights in club attire or sundresses. Solid colors and fabrics like matte jersey and stretch silk look elegant while being travel-friendly and versatile. These pieces can also be worn during the day – the orange top would be adorable with olive chino shorts, either of the skirts with a simple tank top, the dress could even be a beach coverup.

Choosing a single concept for accessories lightens your luggage load – I chose gold jewelry because it’s easier to find decent-looking costume pieces and instantly adds glamour. I really believe in a long necklace of chain or sparkly beads like jet – it really changes the silhouette of any ensemble and can make the simplest dress look chic. The addition of a belt, be it a scarf cummerbund, a leather obi, or a gold chain can quickly change the shape of a dress, add definition to a monochromatic ensemble, or dress up a simple tank and maxi skirt. Using color sparingly and thoughtfully will give extra miles to neutral pieces – the skirt could easily be switched to a neutral or a bold hue, the orange top could be a print or another dressy fabric, all the black pieces could be gray or ivory. This just gives an example of how very simple pieces can create an elegant and festive evening wardrobe for a vacation.


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Ask Allie: Wedding Guest Attire

Hi Allie! I just bought this dress for an upcoming wedding reception (cocktail attire for women, black-tie welcomed for men). I would love to hear any ideas you have on how to accessorize it in order to glam it up. Thanks for any feedback! -Saundra

Dress via Ann Taylor

What a lovely dress, I love that icy lavender color! This is a great dress for such an event and very easy to glam up. A couple ideas:

– Silver Sparkle. Delicate silver strappy heels, delicate chandelier earrings of silver or white gold and diamonds (or CZs), a coordinating bracelet, be it a thin pave bangle or a chain of silver with crystals. Add a bit of subtle shimmer to your face with a highlighter on the brow bone, inner corners of the eyes, cheek bones, and the bow of your lips.

– Golden Glam. Some nude heels in a dressy fabric like silk – could be a strappy sandal, a D’Orsay heel or a platform peeptoe with a blingy shoe clip. Choose one accessory to make the statement – a large crystal-encrusted bangle or cuff, or a sparkly statement necklace; just have the metal be gold. Hair in a soft updo and a bit of shimmery golden tan hues used for the face.

– To-die-for Tonal. If you can find a great necklace with crystals or stones in the same pale lavender color, it can really glitz up this simple dress. Keep everything else very simple – nude dressy heels, simple hair, pretty makeup. If you really want another accessory, have it be your purse which could be a clutch in a metallic gray snakeskin or a subtle print that picks up the color of the dress.

This dress is of a formal fabric; if you have formal shoes and up the ante a bit with your makeup (darker lashes, bit of shimmer, etc.) you already are appropriate. Take a cue from celebs when they walk the runway – usually the dress makes the statement and the accessories only highlight. They usually only have one statement accessory, whether it’s a jeweled cuff or a pair of fantastic chandelier earrings.

Though it’s tempting, don’t try to match the color of the dress with your makeup – this lavender is so beautiful and so icy you can go with a bronze/gold subtle shimmer concept, a classic face with liquid liner, a simple fresh face with stronger lip.

Don’t be afraid to use a bag that doesn’t “go” – this is a look that can add some real personality to your look. I have a pale yellow snakeskin clutch that I use quite often even though I don’t own anything that color in my wardrobe. I find it is an unexpected pop of color that works so well, and the pale color makes it more dressy and versatile than typical black. A clutch in a texture (beading, embroidery) or print (snakeskin, a Pucci-inspired silk) can be far more versatile and stylish than a “basic” bag in black, silver, or gold.

Hi Allie:
I’ve been invited to two weddings this summer. Neither wedding is formal, but I would like to look nice. Do you have any suggestions for what would look appropriate, but fun?

I love being invited to casual weddings because it’s a great chance to wear fun fashion that doesn’t seem to have a proper place anywhere else in Real Life. As soon as I read your question I thought of maxi dresses.

Maxi dress via Mossimo for Target

Last summer I had a cotton maxi dress from Target that was a bright coral and white print. Being cotton, it was comfortable and also very versatile. I wore it to many an event with flat sandals and a long strand of turquoise beads; I even would wear it sans jewelry with a pair of flip flops for hanging out with friends. A plus to maxi dresses is that you keep your legs protected from the sun and from mosquitoes, and it’s easier to sit on the ground and not be exposed.

A maxi dress in a gauzy or cotton fabric would be festive choice for these weddings. To not try to overshadow the bride, keep accessories very simple and pair with flat sandals. Wearing your hair down and casual will make it feel more beachy and less bridesmaid.

Dear Allie,

I am a bridesmaid in a wedding this summer – it’s a destination wedding on the beach. We are allowed to wear anything we want as long as it’s black. Do you have any ideas on what would travel well, be comfortable in the heat, and would work with shoes that won’t sink into the sand? Thanks so much! – Dana

When I read your question I thought of what I wore to my friend’s wedding in November ’09. It was a spaghetti strap black maxi dress from Calvin Klein, and I paired it with big gold earrings, a pile of gold bangle bracelets, and wore flat gold sandals and my hair loose at my shoulders. When I put together the outfit, I thought about how great it would be for a tropical vacation.

Maxi dress via Ann Taylor LOFT

A maxi dress is a great choice for a beach wedding because you don’t have to worry about the breeze taking your skirt for a ride, and it makes it easier to sit in the sand or a low chair without feeling exposed. With a long skirt, you also don’t have to worry about a tall shoe to balance out the dress.

Matte jersey is a fabulous fabric for travel as that it doesn’t wrinkle, packs up small, and is easy to spot clean with a Tide to Go pen (or a little Ivory soap and then an overnight air dry). Matte jersey is also figure flattering – it has stretch but doesn’t cling to curves. It can be found at most any pricepoint and retailer – I have matte jersey dresses from Old Navy and Target, and found my black maxi dress at Macy’s on sale for less than $100.

If you pair with dressier sandals and jewelry, a dress of this fabric can easily go from casual to formal. However, keep the location in mind and don’t try to get too stuffy with heavy statement necklaces, formal updos, or lots of makeup. Embrace the beach and consider beaded chandelier earrings, stacks of bangles, or longer pendant necklaces and let the shore breeze have its way with your hair!

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How to Create a Formalwear Capsule Wardrobe

Wardrobe Oxygen: Creating a Formalwear Capsule Wardrobe. Buy less and have more style with these tips of creating a collection of pieces to be ready for any formal event.In my dressy fashion emergency kit post, Lisa mentioned in the comments that the post needed an image of a capsule wardrobe. It’s funny, I write about capsule wardrobes all the time, but didn’t even think of this emergency kit being a capsule wardrobe! I decided to elaborate a bit in a separate post as I think this is a brilliant way to be ready for formal and dressy occasions without spending a lot or increasing the size of your closet.

Trends are constantly changing, but they seem to go at a slower pace when it comes to formalwear. This is to your advantage because you can build a formalwear capsule wardrobe slowly, with care, and while perusing sale racks, consignment shops, and thrift stores. I have many pieces in my formalwear capsule wardrobe that date back to my college days or were passed down to me by my mom; there’s something to be said for old Hollywood glamour – it never goes out of fashion!

When it comes to a formalwear capsule wardrobe, the clothing is actually the smallest part. With a good wardrobe of accessories, you can dress for most dressy occasions with a simple not-so little black dress. Sleeveless is the easiest to transition seasons and look dressy, but the dress can any type of sleeve that makes you comfortable. I also mention it’s a not-so little black dress. While the “LBD” is a popular term, few people actually look good in a little black dress. A simple sheath, a fit and flare, a bias-cut column, a long-sleeved shift… all of these are not only figure flattering but more versatile than a little slip of a frock. The importance is fabric; you want a fabric that can dress up nicely without being too memorable or too season-specific. Silk, taffeta, crepe, gabardine, matte jersey, silk jersey, lace overlay… these are all fabrics that can dress up or down with ease. They will catch the light without overwhelming and make for a great canvas for your complete formal work of art.

For those who don’t like dresses, separates can work. A formal pantsuit or female tuxedo, often called Le Smoking, is a chic alternative. I also included a formal skirt, which can really be quite versatile (pair with a crisp white shirt, a cashmere tee, a sequined or beaded shell, a tailored velvet blazer, a silk blouse in a festive color). The point is having a base that is appropriate and versatile. Such a skirt is most versatile at midi length as it can be day or night appropriate. With both the pantsuit and the skirt, you want to err on the side of dressy fabric that is still seasonless. Silk and variations like shantung, moire, and Dupioni, taffeta, and synthetics that give an elegant finish and have a bit of a sheen that picks up the light and looks formal.

Wardrobe Oxygen: How to Create a Formalwear Capsule Wardrobe

Shop the Look: Sheath Dress | Skirt | Silver Necklace | Pink Necklace | Barrettes | Belt | Black Bag | Pink Bag | Nude Bag | Mascara | Lipstick | Rollers | Faux Fur | Pashmina | Black Shoes | Glitter Shoes | Nude Shoes

Once you have your base, you’ll see how your choice of accessories can completely transform your look, giving you outfits for dozens of events all months of the year. In this capsule wardrobe, I show how a collection of accessories can give you a variety of dressy looks with varying levels of festiveness and formalness.

The easiest way to dress up a look is to add some sparkle. A statement necklace is an easy way, and an item that can be found at a multitude of retailers for a variety of pricepoints. This is also a way to add some color if the event is centered around a holiday or theme. Other ways to add sparkle is by adding a skinny belt (I just bought this glitter belt from Talbots to add to my formalwear capsule wardrobe) or hair accessories.

A change in your bag is a quick way to go from desk to drinks with a not-so little black dress. Again, this is a great opportunity to add some sparkle. Don’t be afraid to have fun with your bag; this is a great way to infuse your personal style in a formal look. This is also a great way to add an accent or signature color; for this capsule wardrobe I used pink as the signature color but any hue would work! I suggest having more than one bag; such bags are often found at thrift stores and you can find adorable ones that look elegant at teen accessory stores, especially around prom time. As you see from this capsule, I chose a nude, a black, and a color to have the most versatility in regard to seriousness as well as time of year.

Shop this Capsule Wardrobe:

As I mentioned in my previous post, your choice of outerwear can make or break your formal look. If you own a longer wool coat, that can work just fine (consider purchasing a sparkly brooch and wear it on the lapel). A faux fur is a budget-friendly way to add glam to your ensemble; I have found fabulous faux and vintage furs at thrift stores for very little. In my personal formalwear capsule wardrobe, I have a black hooded faux fur from a thrift store, a Persian lamb I inherited from my semi-grandmother, and a fur stole that has been in my mom’s family for a long while. For warmer weather, a pashmina or stole is a great choice and a wonderful way to add color (or even more sparkle!) to your look. Stoles, wraps, and pashminas are pieces that really don’t go out of style; I have a black crepe wrap with long silk fringe trim and embroidery of peacocks on it that I bought on clearance at Express in the late ‘90s; I still wear it and every time I get compliments and people wondering where I got it and if it is vintage.

Shoes are a way to finish a look, and your shoe is especially important when making a more basic dress look formal. For this capsule, I included the three most popular styles of evening shoes – a D’Orsay heel, classic pump, and a delicate strappy heel. While a heel gives a more formal feel, do not sacrifice health or comfort for fashion. Keep the shoe as delicate as possible (straps, open sides, etc.) and choose a shiny fabric (glitter, silk, satin, rhinestones, even patent leather gives a dressier feel).

Though one doesn’t usually include beauty products in a capsule, such items can provide as much or more impact than a garment. In my original post I discussed the merits of a red lip; for those who are more comfortable with cosmetics may also wish to up the glamour with dramatic lashes. I don’t have the skill or patience to apply false lashes but love DiorShow for a lush look. I’ve also had great success layering mascaras – a coat of lengthening, then a coat of a volumizing formula, then lengthening again. And as mentioned in my original post, a pack of cheapy Velcro rollers from the neighborhood drugstore can give body and soft waves for anything from bobs to waist-length tresses.

Wardrobe Oxygen: How to Create a Formalwear Capsule WardrobeTo show how such accessories can truly create a variety of looks, I took the formal skirt (the one I own I found on Poshmark for only $35, you can see me wearing it in this post) and created four different looks with the same accessories in the formalwear capsule and a variety of different tops. The lighter colored accessories help a black skirt look appropriate in warmer weather, the darker ones add sophistication and a serious tone for more conservative events, and glitter is perfect for a party or happy event.

Creating a formalwear capsule wardrobe will help you be ready for any events that pop up on your calendar, but also save money and achieve more style with less clothing. Shop slow, shop with care. Spend money on quality and tailoring instead of trends when it comes to the base (dress, pantsuit, skirt) and be more fun and trendy when it comes to the accessories since they get less wear. Soon you will have a hardworking and versatile capsule wardrobe for any formal or dressy occasion that comes your way!

Be Ready for Any Formal Event: The Fancy Fashion Emergency Kit

The Fancy Fashion Emergency Kit: Be ready for any event on your social calendar with a few simple wardrobe items!It’s the holiday season… and that means likely you’ll get invited to an event that requires an outfit a step above jeans and ankle boots. Don’t blow your paycheck on a dress you’ll never wear again – that’s not smart and truthfully that’s not stylish. Here’s how to buy less, but still look utterly chic for whatever fancy event life throws your way:

Find Yourself a Not-so LBD

All the fashion advice books recommend a little black dress (LBD). Thing is, when you’re not young and little, the idea of a little black dress is laughable. However, I support the concept of having a great black dress in your wardrobe ready to dress up or down depending on your social calendar.

the power of accessories one dress three ways and how to extend your holiday formal wardrobeMany years ago I had a v-neck sheath dress in Ann Taylor’s suiting fabric. I also had a black synthetic dress with a plunging neckline and asymmetrical hem. Then I had a black matte jersey shift with puffed sleeves. Now I have a black crepe jersey jumpsuit and a black silk drapey dress. All different silhouettes and fabrics but all accomplish the same thing – they flatter my figure and can glam up in an instant. I recommend going more basic with the style than trendy or extravagant – you want a dress that isn’t super memorable, won’t be dated in a year, and can handle accessories. This is your canvas, not your complete masterpiece.

This dress is not made out of jersey knit, ponte knit, or cotton. This is a fabric with a bit of lustre or sheen, that clearly can be an evening piece but isn’t too formal or seasonally specific. Bypass the velvet, satin, and sequins and consider crepe, silk, a jersey with a crepe finish or that is blended with silk, lace overlay, or some suiting fabrics like gabardine or triacetate.

Shop Not-so Little Black Dresses:

Many will state how black is too somber, it’s aging, unflattering. I hear you, I understand, and to that I say you clearly know yourself and your personal style and I recommend you purchase what you find to be an equivalent. A soft dove gray, a deep plum, rich indigo, a dark teal. This is not a time for brown or navy which can read too daytime or Corporate America; choose a color that is luxe, rich, and festive yet versatile and not too memorable.

This is a dress that deserves a good portion of your budget, or some serious stalking of thrift stores and clearance racks to get the best quality for the money available. A lined dress will hang better and hold up better after many wears. Pay the extra to have it tailored so it fits impeccably; a seamstress or tailor can also put in extras to make it perfect – little slips of ribbon to keep your bra straps from showing, dress shields so you can keep your cool, and an adjustment of the hem so it hits at the most flattering point with your favorite shoe height.

how to transform a simple black dress into multiple dressy looksAnd now, you have a dress that can work for all sorts of events, from networking happy hours to black tie optional weddings.. and of course all your holiday parties!

Fancy Fashion Emergency Kit

I highly recommend having some accessories in your wardrobe ready to glam up your not-so little black dress or make even a simple blazer and jeans look fun and festive for a night out on the town. These are those “desk to drinks” pieces bloggers always talk about and prove the power of accessories. Purchasing a few timeless accessories will be far cheaper than a new frock, and can have multiple lives working for all sorts of outfits in life. My recommendations for your fancy event arsenal:

A Sparkly Bag

Wear a black sheath with your leather handbag and you’re ready for the boardroom. Switch it out to a sparkly little evening bag or clutch and you’re ready for the ballroom! What’s great about this accessory is it doesn’t have to be expensive. I’ve found many a sparkly statement clutch at thrift stores, handmade by an Etsy seller, or even at mall shops geared towards females decades younger than I.

Shop Sparkly Bags:

Your sparkly bag is an opportunity to show your personality. Got a bit of goth in your blood? How about a minaudière with a skull clasp? Is pink your favorite color? Rock a beaded clutch in your favorite shade. I love silver and have a rock and roll streak to my style; my choice is a chain mail clutch with a skinny chain so I can switch it to a shoulder bag.

Whether you paid $5 or $500 for the bag, take care of it. Especially if it has metal parts, store it in a cloth bag (or old pillowcase); if it’s a soft shape pack with tissue paper when not in use so it won’t crease.

A Sparkly Necklace

While I am a fan of glittery chandelier earrings and love a great statement bracelet, the best piece of jewelry to have in your arsenal is a sparkly necklace. Right now, such necklaces are easy to find everywhere and at every pricepoint. Unlike delicate bangles and stud earrings, no one expects the faceted stones around your neck to be real, so don’t be afraid to go bit and bold.

Shop Dressy Statement Necklaces:

While I am a big fan of silver, this is a time where the color of the metal does make a difference. The contrast of gold with clear crystals adds a level of formality that silver doesn’t really achieve. If you’re more the type to wear pearls, consider the occasional pavé bead or a crystal brooch to hold the strands together. Sparkle is what is going to take your look from Politician’s Wife to Belle of the Ball.

Delicate Shoes in a Shiny Fabric

My go-to is a pair of gold strappy kitten heels; I’ve had them for years and find the thin straps and delicate yet danceable heel looks great with short cocktail dresses or peeking out from under long gowns. In the past I had purple satin heels with an ankle strap and fabric rosette at the toes, a pair of silver strappy heels, and black silk D’Orsay pumps with a crystal detail at the toe.

Shop Festive Formal Shoes:

A heel will look more formal than a flat, but function trumps fashion. A slight wedge, a D’Orsay flat, or even a more supportive flat that has a sparkly adornment and made of a dressier fabric will give the proper effect.

The point is, your shoe can really determine the level of formality for your look. A pair of black pumps you wear to the office could work in a pinch for a more formal dress, but will take a simple frock and make it office attire. Another plus to this is if you purchase smartly, you can get a style that works for years (my heels were purchased when I was pregnant with Emerson), and you can also shop slow and find them on sale (mine were from Banana Republic and I got on clearance for less than $40).

Red Lipstick

If you’re comfortable wearing makeup, it’s a quick way to elevate your look. If you’re usually a Chapstick sort of gal, a red tinted balm will be subtle yet effective. If you usually wear a more neutral color, consider a soft red (I am a fan of Revlon’s Just Bitten Kissable Balm in Romantic, you can layer to intensify the color). For a makeup fan like me, there’s nothing like a classic red pucker to add a festive feel to a black dress!

Polished Hair

A formal event is not the time for your daily ponytail. Sure that young celeb wore a ponytail on the runway, but she paired it with a million dollars’ worth of diamonds and a designer gown. By taking a bit more time with your hair, you can take the simplest of dresses and make it look elegant.

When I had long hair, I would put my dry hair in Velcro rollers (super reasonable price). I’d part my hair in three sections; the middle one (like a Mohawk) I’d split into 3-4 sections. The front one I’d roll towards my forehead, the other ones towards my back. I’d use the biggest rollers on the top of the head. Then the side sections I’d roll towards my shoulders. I’d blast them a bit with my hair dryer, and then leave them in as I got dressed and did my face. I’d roll them out, use my fingers to rake out the curls, then use a bit of glossing serum (less is more; rub on the fingers and start at the tips and the back of the head) to finish the look.

Now that I have shorter hair, I often rely on sparkly accessories to tame the waves and flips. I have a rhinestone Bobby pin from the late ‘90s I still use quite often to pin bangs that are growing out or to hold hair behind my ear. A sparkly barrette or headband (again can be found at drugstores and teen accessory shops for very little) can do a lot for hair that won’t behave. But often, just ten minutes more on your hair can add miles to your formal look.

An Evening Coat or Wrap

You’re in a beautiful silk dress that fits you to a T, styled with a sparkly crystal necklace, silk heels, and a beaded clutch in your hand. Cue angels singing. And then you put on your red Land’s End parka. Cue sad trombone. Even if you’re only wearing that coat to the front door, it is your first impression.

If your coat is wool and hits the thigh or lower, it can work as your evening coat. Consider adding a sparkly brooch to the lapel or wearing with a silk scarf instead of your crocheted muffler. My favorite evening coat is a faux fur I found at a thrift store for $10; for that price I risked and paid off by machine washing it to make it shiny and not smell like mothballs. Coats are a great off-season purchase; I have a cream wool long coat I found at TJ Maxx for less than $50.

If it’s not that cold out, a pashmina is a great alternative to a jacket. It’s also a great alternative to your winter scarf; once you remove your coat you’ll still have it to wrap around yourself if the ballroom is drafty.

The Most Important Accessory

The most important accessory is you. Confidence makes more of an impact than the designer who made your dress or the height of your heels. Laughing, having fun, dancing and participating is more memorable than the most beautifully done makeup application or supermodel locks.

Ask Allie: Plus Size Wedding Guest Dresses

All my friends are getting married, I have six weddings already that I know I am or will be invited to and I know more are coming. I’m single and haven’t had a boyfriend in two years and on top of that I’m a size 20 while all my friends are tiny. I don’t want to go to these weddings and get stuck at the single people table and be the sad lonely fat girl but I know I need to go. Any advice on what to wear to boost my confidence?

It doesn’t matter what you wear to these weddings, if you feel you are a lonely fat girl and sit at that singles table looking sad you will look like a sad lonely fat girl. The best way to get through these weddings and life in general is to have a blast. When you live life completely it shows; it alters your face, your posture, your energy. So put on your favorite lipstick, slip on some heels (and a pair of ballet slippers tucked into your purse for the end of the night), and rock your fabulous self in a dress that is as full of life and joy and you and the event you are attending.

My personal recommendation is to steer clear of black unless it is a defining factor in your personal style. While black is versatile and acceptable at most American weddings these days, it can have one think you’re uncomfortable in your skin or depressed. Many choose black because they feel it looks slimming but it’s not going to make you look drastically different and can give the wrong impression. On the other hand, don’t wear anything too crazy flamboyant; the day isn’t about you and you can still look fun and vivacious without too much bling or cleavage. A bit of shape is far more flattering to the figure than a loose tent and shows you know style and you know your body. And I can’t stress this enough – don’t be afraid to spend money on this dress. If you choose wisely and it’s not the same exact crowd at every event, you can wear it several times over the wedding season and also bring it out for holiday parties. The harsh truth is those of us who are larger or softer need to take more care with our purchases. Buy quality pieces, invest in tailoring for a custom fit. We’re not built like mannequins and cheap fabric, unlined garments, and poor fit can make us look bigger and sloppy. If between sizes, go up a size and then hit your local bridal boutique to find someone to tailor it to a custom fit. A few dresses that have caught my eye and I would think perfect for weddings:

plus size wedding guest dresses

  1. Calvin Klein Ruffle Front Sheath Dress: The chartreuse color is phenomenal; if you think you’re too fair to wear such a color look up pictures of pale fashionistas like Nicole Kidman who have rocked this hue. Pair with hot pink or tomato red lips and nude heels, with a statement shoe in another bold color and lots of lashes, or go glam with metallic heels and sparkly earrings. The fabric is the type that can dress up and down with ease and work all seasons of the year.
  2. ASOS CURVE Premium Placed Nautical Mesh Insert Dress: I love the bold pattern of this dress, the flippy skirt, and the fresh color combination that would be so nice at an outdoor wedding. Let the dress make the statement with nude shoes and simple accessories, or pump up the look with a bold pout and shoes. No need to stick to a nautical choice of red; orange, pink, Kelly green, and yellow would all look fantastic with this frock.
  3. Carmen Marc Valvo Floral Jacquard Cocktail Dress: This is an elegant dress that will make a statement without shouting. Keep it simple with nude or soft metallic heels, make it more formal with a rhinestone belt, or add a pop of color with D’orsay heels or a skinny belt in a signature shade (hot pink would be awesome). This dress is also available via Rent the Runway.
  4. Adrianna Papell Gardenia Dress: Tailored without being tight, a pleated skirt that is begging you to be twirled on the dancefloor, and a bunch of customer reviews stating this dress is perfect for a wedding makes this dress a winner. Wear as-is with nude or soft metallic shoes or add a bit of shine with a sparkly or metallic skinny belt.
  5. MYNT 1792 Sequin Stretch Asymmetrical Drape Dress: Don’t let the description fool you, these tiny sequins give more of a look of liquid metal than Studio 54. The silver is surprisingly versatile and can be dressed up and down with a change of makeup, hair, and accessories. In the winter wear with a black clutch and shoes; come spring choose a nude shoe to lengthen the leg and let the dress steal the spotlight.
  6. Little Mistress Floral Placement Skater Dress: This sweet dress is feminine, flirty, and figure flattering. Perfect for a spring wedding, you can also pair with a cardigan and wear to the office. Don’t be afraid to switch out the belt for one that better fits your personal style or to dress up and down the frock.
  7. Marina Rinaldi Plissé-Panel Dress: I know, more chartreuse! But it’s a seriously versatile color. Wear this dress with the included gray ribbon, switch out for a metallic or sparkly belt, or choose a belt or sash in a bold contrast color like cobalt, orange, or hot pink. The cut of this dress is also very flexible if you’re like me and may gain or lose weight throughout the year.
  8. ASOS CURVE Hitchcock Pencil Dress: Va-va-va-voom! This dress will surely make a statement, and the color makes sure you won’t blend in with all the other frocks on the dancefloor. Adjustable straps give a better fit, and the dark green works year round. Wear in the warmer months with nude or soft metallic, but bring the dress back out this winter and pair with black or sparkle for holiday fetes.

If you are unable to spend for a dress, consider renting.

  • You all know I am a fan of Gwynnie Bee – they are like Netflix for fashion. For a monthly fee you can rent everything from jeans to blazers to sweaters to dresses for work or play. The customer reviews help you decide which piece will work best for your figure and personal style, and you can send back a piece quickly in the pre-labeled shipping bag and get a new one from Gwynnie Bee in a jiffy.
  • Another option is Rent the Runway who now offers plus sizes. This is an especially great option if you’re attending a more formal wedding and don’t want to drop hundreds on a gown you’ll likely never wear again. However, Rent the Runway has dresses appropriate for weddings of all formality and the rental price is that of a cheaper dress that may not make as great of a statement. With stylist notes and plenty of customer reviews with photos, you can get a good feel of what dress would be perfect for your occasion.

Ask Allie: Which Jeans with Which Boots?

Can you give me some guidance about which boots to wear with which jeans? There are skinny jeans, straight-leg jeans, mini-boot cuts, boot-cuts, boyfriend jeans, cropped jeans, jeans that people cuff above the boot, jeggings, and everything in between. There are ankle boots, cowboy boots, mid-calf boots, knee-high boots, UGGs, shooties, and fakers (they look like boots from the front but the back is open like a mule/clog). Which jeans do I pair with which boots so that I look proportional and not like a farmer? And when do I tuck the jeans inside the boots, and when do I leave them out?

how to style jeans boots which wear

Boots and jeans should be easy… I mean we’ve been wearing the combination for eons, right? But with all the different leg widths, lengths, and boot styles you may feel as though you need to get an advanced degree in footwear/denim matching!

Skinny Jeans

The skinny jean is a heavier weight than a jegging (legging made out of a lightweight stretchy denim), has all the trimmings of a typical jean (pockets, zippers, belt loops, etc.), but has a very narrow fit. What was originally found to be a cut only models could carry off, skinny jeans are now a commonplace silhouette worn beautifully by women of all shapes and sizes.

The skinny jean is perfect for tall boots, be they over-the-knee heeled boots, flat riding boots, cowboy boots, calf-height harness boots, or a slouchy suede wedge. The skinny jean hugs the leg making it less likely to bag at the knee or wiggle its way out of the boot shaft. The slim silhouette makes the bulk of a boot look more elegant, and works with the chunky and slouchy knits this season.

The skinny jean is also perfect for ankle booties. Be they short harness boots, lace-up combat boots, or ankle-high cowboy boots, a skinny jean tucks into the boot nicely and shows the shape of your calf above the boot’s opening. If you find your jean likes to wiggle out of booties, consider tucking the hem into a pair of socks; they also sell suspenders specifically for this purpose!

If you are going to wear UGGs or similar shearling or thick boots, I think they look the best with skinny jeans. Again, the bulk of the boot is balanced by the slim silhouette of the denim, elongating your legs and keeping you from looking like the Michelin Man.


As mentioned earlier, jeggings are like skinny jeans but with legging details. Usually a lighter weight fabric with more stretch than your typical stretch denim, jeggings often are without front pockets, a proper zipper, and sometimes have an elasticized waist. Since jeggings are such a thin fabric, they look best with tall boots that cover a bit of the body and balance the frame. I’d offer the same advice I did for skinny jeans, but add that you should also consider what you wear on top. Jeggings are best with tunics, longer cardigans, and jackets that hit around the hip to again balance the fabric but also provide some modesty.

Straight Jeans

The straight jean is a classic and flattering to most figures. That being said, it can be one of the hardest to style with boots. Often times too loose to tuck into tall boots, too baggy to slip into ankle booties, you may feel you’re stuck with flats when wearing straight jeans. In fact, a straight jean is a perfect partner for the slim-heeled booties and shooties that have been hot the past two seasons. Sort of a blend between a pump and an ankle boot, shooties have a lower vamp, a slim streamlined silhouette, and slip nicely under a straight leg jean letting the toe and heel peek out.

When it comes to straight jeans, the best boots are those that are meant to go under the jean’s leg. Wedge boots, granny boots, city boots, Chelsea boots, and shooties are often made with simple openings and elastic gussets to make them easy to slip on and off, but not as attractive on display over your jeans. The medium leg opening keeps your jean from dragging on the ground and covering your entire boot and gives a nice break at the front of the shoe.

Bootcut Jeans

No matter the size (hello mini and baby boots), bootcut jeans are named that because they flare out a tiny bit at the bottom to make room for a pair of boots to be worn underneath. With this bit of flare, you can carry off harness and cowboy boots without their shape showing through your jeans. Many women give their tall boots a second life (and give themselves a bit of warmth in the winter) by wearing their slimmer tall boots under bootcut jeans.

You mentioned “fakers”, those boots that are actually mules, and I think they are perfect for bootcut jeans because the extra width makes it less likely that the hem will slip under the heel, and it hides the back of the shoe. For such a shoe, a bit longer of a hem is good because it will better hide the mule back, keep your foot warm, and flatter the bulkier style of the boot.

Bootcut jeans also look great with ankle boots and shooties… if worn UNDER the jeans. Bootcut jeans (no matter how mini the bootcut) have too much volume to tuck them into any style of boot. The extra fabric will be uncomfortable wrapped around your ankle and show bulk. Remember the reason for this silhouette and wear boots under your bootcut jeans.

Cropped and Boyfriend Jeans

This is a cut of denim that is far harder to carry off with boots, and I often recommend the pairing to just True Fashionistas. However there are two popular manners in which to pair shorter jeans with boots…

A slim cropped or capri jean can pretend to be a full-length skinny jean when tucked into tall boots. This is a great way to get extra mileage out of your summer jeans; white and pale colors look seasonally appropriate when half covered with brown or black leather and topped with a wintry knit or jacket. I have been known to do this trick; I recommend wearing knee socks to keep your shins warm in the winter and also to hold down the jeans so they don’t bag at the knees.

Baggier cropped jeans like boyfriend jeans can get a downtown cool vibe when paired with a heeled ankle bootie. I’ve worn my ankle booties with a wooden heel with my boyfriend jeans and like how the extra height and slight platform balance the fullness of boyfriend jeans. A slim, sexy bootie, caged heel, shootie, or a lower vamp with a chunkier heel or wedge is the best choice for boyfriend jeans.

To provide balance, I recommend having a sliver of skin show between the jean and the boot. This elongates the leg, makes the combination more purposeful and on trend.

Cuffed Jeans

I know many people carry off this look, but I find it just as hard to carry off as those who wear tall boots under cropped pants. For every one woman who looks utterly awesome in this combination, there’s 30 women who look as though they got dressed in the dark.  I can’t offer advice that is universal, and recommend that unless you feel confident carrying off this trend, stay away until boot and jean styles have morphed over seasons to make it easier to pair.