Search Results for: label/blogger meetup

Blogger Burn-out: How to Get Reinspired for the New Year

The fabulous Kat at Ginger, Adorned recently asked on Twitter what fellow bloggers do to get through burnout. It reminded me that I had started a post on this very subject a few months ago but never did anything with it. Kat inspired me to finish my thoughts, and made me realize that my experience may help those of you who have a blog, site, or similar project.

I’ve been blogging for over seven years, and have experienced writer’s block and burnout more times than I can count. I have almost shuttered Wardrobe Oxygen a couple times, and if you go through my archives can see many times where I just went MIA because I had nothing to offer. Over the years I have gotten better at finding ways to quickly get out of a blogging rut, below are the ways I fight blogging burn-out and writer’s block.

Write for Yourself. When I am in a rut, I open up Word or a journal and just write. Maybe it’s a list of what I’d love in my dream wardrobe, possibly it’s documenting a dream I remember, a rant about a situation at work or in the blogosphere, maybe it’s some random rambling fiction that I make up as I go. Just putting the fingers on the keyboard or the pen to the paper is the important part – making the words. Then I save it to my desktop or close the journal and move on. A day or so later, I re-read what I wrote and often learn a lot from it. Sometimes it turns into a blog post, often it gives me a fresh view of how my mind works and recharges the writing part of my brain. Sometimes it’s just nice to write just for yourself; it’s freeing. You can be wild and creative and sloppy and silly and not even make sense like running down a hill screaming and laughing. We all need a bit of wild and silly and sloppy in our life from time to time.

Check Your Stats. Can’t think of a topic for a post? Hit up your blog stats and see what keywords are bringing people to your site, and what are the posts with the highest traffic. The keywords are great for a new topic, the popular posts give you an opportunity to revisit that topic and add detail or update for the new year. Not only this, seeing how your reader’s mind works helps you know what to deliver to keep them as readers.

Create a Series. Maybe it’s a Friday link-up, possibly it’s a monthly feature on a brand or fellow blogger. Having a series means at least one day a week or month you have guaranteed content. Keep it simple and keep a uniform template to these posts so your readers get that it’s a series and they will look forward to it. Often the content of the series will inspire you in other ways in regard to blog content.

Be Real. While it’s lovely to look at gorgeous photos of gorgeous outfits and collages of drool-worthy goodies, it’s also nice to know about the person behind the blog. Have writer’s block? Why not let your readers know and ask them what they would like to see or read on your site. Why not write a post about your life instead of your wardrobe – it brings depth to why you wear what you wear or why you feature the fashion and style you do on your blog. A great example of this is Alison at The Average Girl’s Guide – she has a “Vent Sesh” series where she steps away from style and vents about something in her life. This provides a great human element to her site, and also engages her readers to also vent and realize they aren’t alone in their personal frustrations.

Do a Review. You don’t have to just review what brands send you in the mail. An honest review that you’re not paid for can be quite refreshing these days in a blogosphere. Maybe your top five beauty products, your experience at a new mall in town, or even a concert or restaurant you recently attended. Even if you always write about fashion or beauty, the occasional review of a book, CD, concert, restaurant, or exhibit can be refreshing and help your readers understand how your mind works.

Poll Your Readers. Facebook pages and Twitter accounts are a great way to promote your blog, but they are also a great way to connect with your readers on a more intimate and honest level. Use your social media channels to ask your readers what they want more of. Maybe use Formspring or Survey Monkey to get anonymous feedback or what they like, dislike, and want more of. Accept that you may get negative feedback, but negative feedback can push you to improve your blog and toughen your skin. Such feedback can really help you step back and assess yourself, your blog, and its future as well as inspire you to write.  I did an anonymous survey when I changed the direction of this blog a few years ago and the feedback was invaluable; some a bit painful, some brought happy tears, all of it inspiring.

Step Away from Social Media. I sometimes take a Twitter break so that I can be a better blogger. Spending a lot of time with fellow bloggers can get you competitive, make you doubt your direction or ability, and get you frustrated. By taking a vacation from social media (as well as your blogroll) you can get back to the person you were when you started the blog. Returning to writing for passion instead of fame can quickly bring back your blogging mojo and the best way I have found is to distance myself for a short bit from my peers.

Start, Stop, and Save. I must have a couple dozen half-written posts on my computer. I start, I lose track, I save and close it. Sometimes I come back in a week when I have inspiration, sometimes it’s even a year. Heck, this post started six months ago, I was re-inspired by Kat, went back to it, closed it and came back a couple days later. You don’t have to write everything in one sitting, sometimes the best inspiration comes after letting an idea marinate for a bit.

Talk About It. I remember a few months after having Emerson I was burned out. Fried to a crisp. I had no desire to blog any more, no time, nothing. I had a baby blog, my personal style blog, my fashion advice blog and I just wanted to delete all of them and run screaming from my laptop. At the time I was part of a monthly women’s circle and that month we met at my house. We were drinking wine and chatting about life and I shared my frustrations with them. One suggested I pare down, concentrate on just one, maybe merge them together. I couldn’t believe I had never thought of that, and within a month I had merged the two fashion blogs and dropped being a proper baby blogger. Gosh, it was so freeing, and it brought back my enthusiasm for the craft. I also have a group of amazing fellow bloggers I consider friends; they (especially my dear friend Alison) are there for Gchat, an email, a drink after work to vent about blogging, to discuss the technical aspects, and to reinspire. Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns or frustrations, your loved ones or a fellow blogger may know just the thing to get you back on track!

And now I ask you, what do you do to stop writer’s block or get over blogger burn out?

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Guest Blogger at In My Professional Opinion

In My Professional Opinion LogoHi all, I recently was asked to be a guest blogger at In My Professional Opinion!

I love this blog and the two authors – Melissa Street (who has become a good blogging friend of mine) is a mom and professional, freelance makeup artist with 20 years of experience in the film, television and live event industries; Aileen Wrench has worked as a Strategic Marketing Professional for 13 years. The two offer very valuable advice on beauty and products from their “insider view.”

Piggy BankMy guest post is the second in a series of posts about How to Be a Budget Bombshell.

Many of us are feeling the pinch due to the current economic situation, and I have always believed that style can be found at any budget level, so I find this series of posts very beneficial to any woman.

I encourage you to go visit In My Professional Opinion (and check out what I wrote). Hope you find it entertaining and helpful!

Guest Blogger at In My Professional Opinion

In My Professional Opinion LogoHi all, I recently was asked to be a guest blogger at In My Professional Opinion!

I love this blog and the two authors – Melissa Street (who has become a good blogging friend of mine) is a mom and professional, freelance makeup artist with 20 years of experience in the film, television and live event industries; Aileen Wrench has worked as a Strategic Marketing Professional for 13 years. The two offer very valuable advice on beauty and products from their “insider view.”

Piggy BankMy guest post is the second in a series of posts about How to Be a Budget Bombshell.

Many of us are feeling the pinch due to the current economic situation, and I have always believed that style can be found at any budget level, so I find this series of posts very beneficial to any woman.

I encourage you to go visit In My Professional Opinion (and check out what I wrote). Hope you find it entertaining and helpful!

Blogger Fashion Trends

Fashion blogs are wonderful resources for fashion inspiration. Real women wearing real clothing from off the rack. It’s far easier to replicate a look worn by your favorite blogger than to imitate the fashion of Sienna Miller or the latest spread in your issue of Vogue.

However, not all blogger fashion is flattering on everyone, and just as with shoots for your favorite glossy magazine – that which is in a photograph may not translate well into real life. As with fashion magazines, one must use fashion blogs for inspiration, but not gospel.

Recently, I have seen a few fashion trends that have been widely accepted by fashion bloggers. They are fun and a great way to mix up the wardrobe, but don’t always translate well into the real world.

Layering
Bloggers will pair tall boots with knee socks and tights, a skirt, an oxford, a sweater, a blazer, a scarf, and a belt. Maybe the fashion blogger will cuff the blazer so the sleeves of the sweater and shirt are highlighted, the scarf looped around their throat with the collar of the oxford peeking out at their chin. The layers look amazing, the combination of textures and colors are inspiring and fresh.

You’re motivated, and head to your closet. You pull out that button-down shirt that gaps at the bust, knowing it won’t be a problem under your merino v-neck. You grab your navy twill blazer that always looks a bit frumpy when worn with a simple shell, your denim skirt, those argyle tights you haven’t been brave enough to wear, your Frye Harness boots and a pair of gray cashmere knee socks. Put it all on, and top with a red skinny belt and that amazing scarf you got last Christmas from your Aunt.

You look like a combination between a homeless woman and Ralphie’s brother Randy from A Christmas Story.

It’s okay, it’s not just you. Many women can’t carry off layers and look as lovely as Kendi Everyday or Sarah from Wearing it On My Sleeves. I can’t. I have large breasts and full upper arms and a short neck. I too would look like Randy from A Christmas Story if I wore more than two layers. It’s okay – it doesn’t make us flawed and it doesn’t mean we can’t learn something from their personal style.

If you can’t carry off multiple layers, you can still find inspiration from the look of layering. I love wearing a pashmina or scarf at my neck – this will give the look of layering without the bulk on my torso. An embroidered scarf with a smooth sweater, a silk patterened scarf tucked into the neckline of a crisp oxford – you are still getting that combination of patterns, textures, and color but you’re working with your own personal figure.

If you are petite and/or curvy, you may find that layers shorten your figure. To elongate your legs but still want the layers for warmth, consider having your layers all in the same color. If you have black tights and black boots, your legs will look longer and slimmer than if you have multiple colors. I have wide calves and know that the tights with socks with boots look is NOT good on me. To stay warm I still wear all three, but just have the socks short enough that they are hidden by the shaft of my boot.

Colored Tights
Visit the We Love Colors Friends blog and you will see tons of gorgeous fashion bloggers showing off their personal style incorporating candy-colored tights. Fashion bloggers are famous for taking a very simple, muted outfit and adding pop to it with legwear in ruby, garnet, emerald, or amethyst. What a great way to jazz up your old LBD and a pair of black shoes? You follow suit and buy yourself some tights in mustard, teal, and magenta.


Tania of What Would a Nerd Wear or Rebecca from The Clothes Horse ROCK the colored tights look. However I have many a time seen a woman on the street who has colored tights on, and it just looks bizarre. The other day, a woman was next to me, waiting for the light to change so she could cross the street. She had on a black wool coat, a brown plaid pleated skirt, bright pumpkin-colored opaque tights and brown T-strap pumps. Sounds cute? Well in real life, those orange tights looked a bit strange and cartoon-like and totally took away from the adorable shoes (and possibly the rest of the outfit hidden under her coat).

This doesn’t mean colored tights don’t translate well into the everyday – it just means you need to assess your entire look. When you look at yourself in a full-length mirror, what do you see first? If your tights are screaming for all the attention and you don’t notice your lovely face, your amazing dress, your fabulous shoes… maybe the tights aren’t the best choice. Accessories are created to accentuate and improve your look, not steal the show. A colored tight can really make pieces a true ensemble, you just need to take into consideration your personality and your wardrobe – it will help you realize if fire engine red is perfect, or if you would look better with a dark maroon.

Unexpected Pairings


Keiko Lynn or Terra at Stylish White Female are amazing examples of beautiful women with a true knack for pairing the unexpected. Lace tights with a plaid skirt? Check. Floaty cocktail dress with biker boots? Check. These fearless fashion females know their way around their wardrobes, their figures, and their personal style and can mix and match like nobody’s business.

This doesn’t mean that in everyone else’s wardrobe anything goes. I often see fashion bloggers try to replicate these looks and instead of looking modern, they look as though they got dressed in the dark. Mixing textures, fabrics, and genres is an art, and it takes time and practice to perfect it. The best way to incorporate this concept into your personal style is to start small.

A great way to start with this concept is to layer a tough jacket over a sweet dress. A biker jacket with feminine lines is a great piece to get this effect – it can be paired with a simple tank and jeans, but also will look quite nice with a sundress with a full skirt or a frilly frock. See how it looks, and really assess how you feel in this combination. If it feels more like a costume than an ensemble, that’s okay. But if you feel good in it – take it to the next level. Try a pair of biker or cowboy boots with a classic sheath, or for your next night out on the town switch out the black top and dark jeans for a silk camisole and a leather jacket, or even a corporate blazer with a frilly shell. With time and experience you will soon be rocking multiple fabrics, textures and genres like a pro!

Belting Everything


Sydney at The Daybook is the Queen of the Belt. She is able to make any outfit look cohesive with a bit of nipping and cinching at the waist. She makes belts seem effortless and a necessary accessory to pull together an outfit. Audi at Fashion for Nerds is another Queen of the Belts, but she rocks belts in a completely different, but incredibly awesome and stylish manner.

Yesterday when I was getting dressed, I thought of Sydney, Audi and the other fashion bloggers who rock the belts with unexpected outfits. I tried a vintage brown leather belt over my gray merino and denim pencil skirt – I thought it would tie in my boots and show off my shape.

I looked as though someone belted a pillow. It was all wrong. The sweater pleated and bunched, bloused out and made me look thicker and shorter than I already am. I decided it was the belt and tried a wider belt, a more narrow belt, a woven belt. All were wrong, wrong wrong. I went sans belt and was a better and more stylish woman because of it.

This doesn’t mean I (or you!) can’t switch up a look with a belt. You just need to know your belting limitations. Try belts in different widths and materials, and also try them at different locations on your torso (I am partial to a wide elastic belt right below the bust – hits at my smallest part and makes my legs look long). A certain belt may look amazing with one outfit, and ghastly with another. Play around with accessories… and if you aren’t one that looks beautiful when belted – it’s okay. Not every woman looks good in every trend. Rock those you can rock, and leave the belts to fashion bloggers like Audi and Sydney.

Shorts in Winter

Oh the winter short – it has been available for the past couple of years. Tweed, wool, distressed denim and this year leather, paired with tights or patterned stockings it can be utterly chic. Claire from Faboo and Le Blog de Betty are two fashion bloggers I think of when I think of winter shorts. Both of them make the look so lovely and effortless.

Last week I was shopping and came upon a woman in winter shorts. She was petite – short, slim, adorable. She was wearing a cream ribbed turtleneck sweater, brown tweed cuffed shorts, brown textured tights and brown ankle booties. She looked as though someone ate the legs of her trousers.

Like mixing textures and genres, it is a fine art to master the winter short. It’s all about proportions – the right length and fullness for your figure, the right pieces with it, the right location. One misstep and you look as though your upper half is in Minnesota and your bottom half in Miami.

As with any other trend, start small and conservative. A black wool short with black tights and black sleek booties will give a nice cohesive line and the focus won’t be on your shorts, but your ensemble. Again, wear this look and see how you feel. Do you feel ridiculous, or do you feel fierce? from here you can develop your winter short skills with colors and other fabrics (I personally love the leather look!).

What is your favorite trend that you learned from a fashion blogger?  Have you been able to incorporate it into your personal style?

Stylish Blogger Award

The lovely Two Preps in a Pod has given me the Stylish Blogger Award.  Thank you so much!

I have to say I don’t usually do memes or awards, but it’s a slow Sunday, I am on hold with Comcast because my home phone isn’t working, and I’d love to share the love with some of you fabulously stylish women out there in the blogosphere!

So with this award, I am to share five things about myself. 

1. Like GatorGirl, I too am a fast reader.  I can finish a book in a day if I take the Metro to work and take a proper lunch hour.  I go through at least one book a week, while also reading the Washington Post Express each morning as well as my magazine subscriptions and Google Reader full of blogs.

2. My most unstylish thing about me is that I chew my nails and cuticles.  I swear, once I get the weight off with Weight Watchers, I am going to treat myself to a couple sessions with a hypnotist, accupuncturist, SOMEONE who can help me rid myself of this icky habit.  In college I used to get acrylic tips so I couldn’t gnaw, but now I jsut try to hydrate as much as possible so I don’t have the tempting hangnails.

3. Like GatorGirl’s husband, I was in the Greek system in college.  I was in Alpha Chi Omega, and was even the Social Chairperson for a year!  It’s funny because my freshman year I had half my head shaved, wore a lot of black and even had pink hair for a bit.  Then I moved off campus with a friend who was in a sorority and she convinced me to Rush.  I didn’t join her sorority, but one where the girls seemed to be real people, not Barbie dolls, were still fun and cool, and loved me and my half-shaved head.

4. I have been blonde.  Twice. 

5. I don’t have a middle name.  My parents couldn’t think of something that sounded good with my first and last name.  So when I got married I had my name legally changed so that my maiden name because my middle name.

And now I get to tag five very sassy styleistas!
Fabulous Chelsea at Bright Side Dweller
The lovely Budgetnista
The ever-cute Work With What You’ve Got
Chic Kimberly at Fab Finds Under $50
Beautiful BoutiqueGirl at Things a Boutique Owner Sees

Guest Blogger – My Sister

I often speak of my sister, and occasionally she appears in some of my photos from events. Well yesterday she emailed me about her outfit and I thought… why not have her take pictures of herself and share? Backstory – My sister Debbie is three years younger, she works in advertising in Washington DC and lives in the city in a very cute apartment. Currently living the single life, she has a far more active social calendar than I and is my personal going-out guru for DC and the first person I go to for a style second opinion.

And her full-length mirror used to be mine – it’s from the Express stores – remember when they had a French theme? When they switched to a more modern look we employees got to go home with all the old furnishings. The mirror is in the shape of Venus de Milo. I love it!

From Debbie:

This dress arrived a couple weeks ago, but I’ve been waiting for the perfect day to wear it. Then I was running late this morning and knew that a dress would be a lot faster than separates so I threw it on.

Brown and cream giraffe print wrap dress from Kiyonna. Cream lace trimmed camisole underneath from Ann Taylor Loft, bought several years ago. Tan peep-toe pumps from Steve Madden, bought last spring. Gold link necklace (given to me by Alison – she has two others) doubled around my neck. Bronze leaf bracelet made by my great-aunt.

"
Hair was washed and conditioned with Garnier Fructis Body & Volume, then added John Frieda thermal protection hair serum and some Pantene Texturize moussing foam wax. Blown dry with ionic ceramic dryer and then ran a ceramic straightener over it several times. A couple of hits of John Frieda 100% Shine glossing mist – sprayed from arm’s length – finished it off.

Make-up is philosophy the present for primer, Trish McEvoy Even Skin foundation in 2, Cover Girl Clean pressed powder, L’Oreal True Match blush in C1-2 – baby blossom, Urban Decay shadow primer potion, Benefit Babe Cake eyeliner in black, DiorShow mascara in black, Laura Mercier lip stain in mulberry with Revlon Super Lustrous lip gloss overtop in Cherries in the Glow. Normally I don’t wear this red of lipstick to work, but the dress just seemed to ask for it.

Why Bloggers Close Their Comments

Don’t say douchey, it’s misogynistic.

Don’t judge that woman on the Metro, I feel so bad for her, she’s just riding minding her business and you’re critiquing her looks.

You’re being insensitive to those who have trouble finding fashion – you need to consider those with disabilities, in wheelchairs, who are over a size 26, have deformities, fashion isn’t easy for all.

I know you said your daughter isn’t into arts and crafts but why not buy her an easel for Christmas?

You need to check out your thyroid because of your puffy face/thinking hair/weight loss/weight gain.

That “age spot” on your cheek may actually be melanoma and you should get it checked out by a doctor.

I know you liked that book but I didn’t and found the author offensive, I am disappointed in you promoting such trash.

You sound so young and naïve when you discuss your feminist leanings; you don’t understand what we older women went through for you folks and the way you trivialize feminism hurts my heart.

When discussing your daughter you often say I instead of we, maybe you should be nicer to your husband and give him some control in the parenting relationship.

I feel bad for your husband, you really emasculate him on your blog.

You should let your daughter’s hair grow, she looks like a boy.

I expected more from you.

I am disappointed in you.

I am disgusted by you.

I can’t follow you any more, you hurt my heart.

Why my friend suggested your blog I will never know, you have no clue what it’s like to be plus size. You’re not even plus size, you don’t know what it’s like for me.

I wish your blog was like it was five years ago.

I miss the old Allie.

I wish you wouldn’t talk about being a parent, I have had three miscarriages and love your blog but each time you mention Emerson it really hurts. If you don’t stop I will have to unsubscribe.

Why don’t you feature more clothing for tall women? I am tall and feel left out of your posts.

I hate that you feature leather/heels/fur/sulfates/meat/feminism/Obama on your blog/Twitter feed/Instagram, mentioning that hurts my feelings/gets me ragey/is misogynistic/offensive/insulting/unfair to some minority population.

You should feature more Country music on your blog.

Can you do a review of Brand X? I am thinking of buying but want to know what you think.

Why don’t you wear more JC Penney/Kohl’s/Target/Walmart? I can’t afford/fit in/support X brand that you wear and your pricepoint/style/shopping habits don’t help me.

I can’t relate to your blog.

I don’t like your style.

I wish you would burn those booties.

You don’t look good in jeans.

You shouldn’t wear midi skirts. No offense.

You should cut your hair/dye your hair/grow your hair/wear your hair curly/wear your hair straight/grow out your bangs, it would be more flattering.

Are We Human, or Are We Blogger?

I am not a journalist, I am a blogger.

In 2013, the two can be quite similar. There’s bloggers who have regular writing jobs with newspapers and magazines. Award-winning journalists maintain personal blogs. Some blogs have a team of writers and editors. Some publications crank out content so quickly they don’t get the attention and editing they really need.

I started blogging in 2005, and though I have updated Wardrobe Oxygen over the years, I still see myself as an old-school blogger. I write what comes to mind while I condition my hair or drive home from work. I often write frantically during a lunch hour, publish, and then later edit out the glaring typos or the errors my readers note. I write for a message, not a Pulitzer. I don’t want anyone to confuse Wardrobe Oxygen for a magazine or a newspaper or a glossy online publication. The content may have a few rough edges, but it’s original, it’s mine, and it’s from my heart.

I don’t have an editor. Sure, sometimes I send posts I think may seem controversial to my sister or closest friends for a sanity check, but 99.9% of the posts that go up here are reviewed only by moi.

I don’t have a copy writer. I do the research myself, create my own graphics, try to write in a manner that isn’t robotic or redundant, is infused with my personality without being too casual.

One of my most popular posts has a mega typo in the hyperlink because throughout the entire post I misused a word a dozen times. I was inspired by a moment,  came home and wrote furiously on my husband’s laptop and hit PUBLISH. The next day, I realized I wrote about self-depreciating comments when I meant self-deprecating. A reader kindly informed me of my error, I thanked her, updated the post.

I’m not offended when you let me know I make an error. Let me know when I used depreciating instead of deprecating, or when I said an image was of Mia Farrow when it was actually Jean Seberg. Giving me the heads up educates me, and improves the blog experience for fellow readers. We bloggers will make mistakes, we’re not perfect, and we rarely have someone to edit and provide feedback on our content.

I must say, I have never confused depreciating for deprecating since that comment. Thanks to you readers, I will never again confuse median and average, will always know the difference between Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, and of course Mia Farrow and Jean Seberg.

However, when you call me stupid for misusing a word or phrase, having a grammatical error, or mis-labeling a celebrity’s photo, you’re not helping anyone. You look like an asshole, and you end up having me focus on your asshole-ness instead of learning from you. This is not the New York Times, this is a blog written by a woman who has a family and a full-time non-blog job. A woman who feels as though she writes relatively well, but with her limited time would rather write freely than obsess over whether every paragraph is structurally perfect.

Now, if you find issue with the grammar on a professional site, by all means call them out. But if you choose to read blogs, love them for their occasional human imperfection.

Sincerely,
Alison

P.S. I wrote this in fewer than ten minutes, so I KNOW there will be errors (including two in this P.S. that I have already fixed post-publishing!).  Bring it on people, bring it on!

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Before I was a Fashion Blogger

I shared this link on Twitter and it brought up many memories of old music, old memories, and old fashion. I remembered going to a Creed concert in the ’90s (I KNOW!), wearing overalls and a bandanna over my two pigtails (double I KNOW!). It made me start to think about my personal style pre-blog – how was it before I started sharing it online.

I hit up my dusty MySpace page (too bad I didn’t keep my Friendster account) and found a few great sartorial blasts from the past.

Before I was a fashion blogger…

…I wore pastel pink to my rehearsal dinner (for the record the twinset was cashmere and those pants were brocade and cropped – all from Banana Republic).

…I wore a matte jersey maxi skirt in Paris (and took matching matte jersey pants, cardigan, tunic, tank, and short skirt to mix and match).

…and cargo pants in Norway (the horror!).

…I wore a lace tank with jeans to a nightclub (and had WIRE HANGERS in my closet!).

…and off the shoulder tees from Express to beachside bars.

…I loved Go Fug Yourself in the early days and purchased their tee shirt each year.

…I wore white shorts with sneakers.

…I always loved bright colors…

…and I loved anything with sequins or sparkles (still do!).

…I always wore my silver cuff (still do!).

…and wore boat shoes as grunge (that’s my dad with me).

…I wore denim vests and Toast of New York lipstick (and cut my hair like Kelly Taylor).

Going through these pictures, my personal style hasn’t changed that dramatically over the years.  While I did cave to a few trends (many that weren’t that awesome), I always liked strong accessories, black with bright colors, and solids over prints.  As I have gotten older, my style has become more refined (fewer flip flops and cargo pants, more pencil skirts and pumps), and more consistent (again, no cargo pants and definitely no lace tanks from Ann Taylor with distressed denim)

How has your personal style evolved over the years?

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Reader Question – Canadian Style Bloggers?

Hi Allie,

I love your style, but some of the shopping tips don’t help me because I live in Canada. We do have the Old Navy/Gap/Banana Republic thing here, but no Nordstroms and I’d never even heard of Ann Taylor before I read your blog. I don’t live close to the border, so cross-border shopping isn’t an option, and I hate all the extra fees I have to pay to have something shipped here.


Are you aware of any bloggers who do something similar to you: know the online deals and good finds, but for Canada? I’m sure I can eventually find them, but the internet is so vast I could waste a lot of time searching. And sometime Google just doesn’t cut it.

Thanks for what you do!

Dionne

What say you oh fabulous readers?  I have to admit, I have some style blogger faves, but I often don’t even notice where they live on this planet.  I am slammed with work today so I wanted to send this question out to the blogosphere – what are your favorite Canadian bloggers who photograph their daily outfits and talk about where they shop?  I look forward to the responses, and seeing if there are some more fabulous blogs that I need to put on my blogroll!

A Valentine to My Favorite Fashion Bloggers

{via}

A Valentine, to my favorite bloggers:
To Sal and Deja Pseu, who keep it positive and purposeful, who inspire and motivate.
To Ashe, Alyson, and Wendy, who truly know the meaning of community when it comes to blogging. They regularly inspire me with their tweets and interactions with their readers and fellow bloggers.
To E, who is the epitome of DC fashion – class and elegance with a touch of the unexpected. Tasteful and appropriate yet never boring and never one to blend into the woodwork.
To Liz, who proves that you can become a successful fashion blogger quickly while remaining humble, graceful, and professional. 
To Jentine and Christine, divas of thrifting, who are proof that you don’t need to spend a million bucks to look like it.  They make me want to skip work and head to Goodwill!
To Kasmira, who has been keeping it real on her blog since 2006 (and earlier on Wardrobe Remix), and has rocked her colorful personal style consistently through all the changes to the blogosphere.
To Kimberly, who is inspiring with her Weight Watchers success and her amazing ability to create fabulous style for very little money.

To DWJ, and Vyque, who keep me laughing on Twitter and at local fashion events, and prove you can make friends through the Internet.
To Alison and Morgan, who I forgot I even met through blogging, they have just become wonderful people in my life who by chance are talented writers.

To those I didn’t mention, but know that they have my heart!

Blogging is a wonderful hobby, pastime, choice of vocation. It allows one to share her passion and opinion with the world, and through it make new friends and be inspired daily by her peers. I am so grateful every day you wonderful bloggers in my life – you motivate me, support me, entertain me, humble me. Thank you so much!

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I am a Feminist Fashion Blogger

Up until this past summer, I didn’t really advertise that I was a blogger, especially a fashion blogger. Yes, most of my friends and family knew about the blog, but I didn’t really show it off. I feared the repercussions – folks finding me superficial, jobs finding me unprofessional, acquaintances feeling uncomfortable around me if they weren’t dressed in their very best.

The Summer of 2010, I had some very deep thoughts about blogging and my life in general. After having Emerson, my priorities have changed, and my “me” time has nearly disappeared. It seemed stupid, selfish, ridiculous to continue blogging. I hated my body, hated clothes on it, and cared more about things like expecting women being educated about their childbirth rights than what colors were hot for the season. I remember I hosted my monthly women’s circle, I was sitting on the floor talking to them about my blog, stating how I felt more passion for women’s rights than I did about fashion. One of my friends looked at me with a face that I knew was true compassion, understanding, and a bit of concern and it hit me. She was looking at me that way because she knew I loved to write, I loved to blog, and if I stopped blogging I would stop a passion.

That look reminded me that my blog was never about the latest runway style or how to get the look for less. It was always about women – empowering women, helping them see their true beauty and majesty. I wasn’t a fashion blogger, or a style blogger, I was a feminist blogger.

At first, I didn’t really want to write about feminism. To many, this is a dirty word, an outdated word, a word associated with women who hate men, hate fashion, and just plain hate. Over the past five an a half years I have gotten to know my reader base, and I know that we don’t all share the same political or religious or cultural beliefs. I respect your personal beliefs, and don’t want my personal beliefs to stop you from finding benefit to my blog. I have tried very hard to keep my opinions to myself so that I won’t offend or anger anyone.

However I think that the word feminism has a negative connotation because many do not really understand the term. As that the goal of Wardrobe Oxygen is to help fellow women find their personal style and realize how gorgeous they are, it really is a feminist fashion blog. Clothing can be a way to suppress women, but it can also be a way to empower them. I often call a wardrobe a suit of armor because it is a way for a woman to express herself, to feel confident in social situations, to define herself without having to say a word, to feel and be strong.

As a feminist, I believe women should be treated as equal human beings (see my post last week about being a feminist). Women are not men, but women have the same intelligence, creativity, ingenuity, business savvy, quick-thinking, resolve, and ability as men. We should have the same opportunities available to us, and be given the opportunity to decide what we want in our life, instead of having it be decided for us. I think Wardrobe Oxygen is a perfect platform for educating women on the true meaning of feminism, and how one can be a feminist without going against one’s personal beliefs (or hating fashion).

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Guest Blogger at DC Goodwill Fashionista

If you read Wardrobe Oxygen regularly, you know I love boots.  I recently was a guest blogger at the DC Goodwill Fashionista and wrote about some fabulous boots for this season.  Check it out!

I also have many new posts in the works so head back soon for fresh new content!

Blogging Behind the Scenes: Why Do Bloggers Wear That?

Now that blogging has become mainstream, friends ask far more questions about the business of blogging. I figure if they have these questions I bet a lot of you do too, so I am going to have a series answering them. Blogging can be a pretty hush-hush business, lots of negotiations, networking, and competition to achieve success, be it fan-based or financial. I’ve never been one to keep secret about the business of blogging; while my experience may not be the same for all bloggers, I hope my insights can help you understand why bloggers do some of the things they do.

blogging behind the scenes

One of the most popular questions I get are about what me and fellow bloggers wear and outfit posts in general. A few answers to those questions…

How Do Bloggers Get Free Clothes?

Blogs are pretty powerful marketing. A blogger has an audience, know-how to have her posts show up high in Google for specific searches (known as SEO – search engine optimization), and several social media channels where she promotes her posts, and has the know-how to get those touts to the largest audience possible. Sending a blogger a $50 sweater or even a $500 bag is much cheaper than buying ad space, and it has a higher return on investment (ROI).

I’m neither comfortable nor very successful at pitching myself to brands. However any good blogging conference or advice site will encourage bloggers to reach out to brands, sell themselves and their blog, and ask to partner (free clothes, ad space, sponsored posts or social media content, etc.). This often works, the PR person or brand representative will appreciate the gumption and the ability to get their product out to a new audience in a relatively easy low-cost manner and offer to send some clothes to be styled in an outfit post or featured in a gift guide.

Brands also reach out to bloggers directly, or through ad networks who organize sponsored content. The bigger your audience, the more emails you receive offering samples, merchandise, or partnerships. Sometimes you just get an email introducing you to a brand and a general statement about contacting for more information; you can reply back and do a pitch and sometimes they bite, sometimes they do not.

It sounds like a blast to have free clothes be shipped to you, but you need to remember you are dealing with businesses who are treating you like a business person. There is an expectation that anything you receive free you will promote on your site or social media. PR folks talk, and those who accept gifts but don’t promote them will soon get a bad reputation. Also, those who do a great job at promotion and are easy to work with are more likely to get more opportunities in the future. You’re not receiving gifts, you’re receiving a form of income to perform a job.

Why Is That Blogger’s Clothes Too Small?

When partnering with a brand, 99% of the time you receive the free clothes in the mail. A brand will send you a piece and either expect it to be mentioned within a month, or you will have signed a contract promising the piece to be featured very soon. And very soon sometimes means within 48 hours of receiving the item.

As I think all of you have experienced, even if you purchase an item from a favorite brand you regularly wear, that doesn’t mean the piece you bought online or pulled from the rack will fit the way you hoped. Add to this brands you are unfamiliar with, your first (and second and third and fourth) choice out of stock so needing to go outside your sartorial comfort zone, no time for alterations and you can often end up with a piece that just doesn’t fit.

Being larger than many standard bloggers yet not quite plus size, I’ve learned to say no to a lot of free clothes. PR folks will claim their size Large fits a 12/14 but once in hand you find it doesn’t even fit over the shoulders or hips. I’ve learned that if in doubt, size up. It’s easier to cinch a piece with a belt or strategically placed binder clip than try to Spanx and pose my way into a too-tight garment. But even so, we’ve all been stuck with a piece that doesn’t fit and a deadline to make. Your favorite blogger’s photos may all be in profile to hide an unzipped skirt, a clutch may be hiding camel toe, a blazer hiding the fact that a dress isn’t buttoned in back, a half-tuck hiding too low of a rise.

Why Is That Blogger Wearing That Ugly Dress?

There’s a couple reasons why your favorite blogger with a very clear personal aesthetic suddenly shows up in an outfit post wearing a piece that just does not look like something she would ever wear:

  • Money. When a brand offers you a heck of a lot of money to feature their product, you can justify most anything. It’s only one outfit post where I’m wearing a neon yellow tulle mini-tutu with pink roses glued on it, if I style it with a moto jacket and biker boots it may look ironic. No one will remember and I’ll bring home the bacon. I’ll compensate with a really good outfit the next day. Obviously this doesn’t always fly, and if you do it too often you lose your personal style as well as credibility.
  • Contractually Obliged. A brand you love and wear wants to partner with you. Yes! Now you can get that dress you’ve been drooling over for weeks for free! You sign the contract… and then are told to choose from two specific pieces, two you’d never get caught dead in. Do you go back and say no, break contract and likely future partnerships with this brand or do you make it work?
  • Pictures Lie. You’re working with a new brand, you see what looks to be a great piece on their site and request it. When it arrives it looks like the picture on the site… if you squint and are in low light. Your post is to go live that week and you’ve already been paid for your post. Again, do you break contract and refund the money or make it work?
  • Out of Stock. I recently partnered with a great brand. They let me choose anything from their New Arrivals to style. Everything I wanted to wear in my size was out of stock. My SIXTH choice was what we settled on, and luckily when it arrived I liked it and felt good styling it. But this is the reality; your favorite blogger may have wanted to wear what fit her style but her style wasn’t available at the time of posting.

What Do Bloggers Do With All Those Clothes?

I’ve read on message boards how readers find it inappropriate to sell gifted clothing. The thing is, clothing is income to bloggers; we receive it in exchange for performing a service. You may think that it isn’t work to take a picture of yourself in a dress and put it on Instagram, but it is something that brands will pay good money for. The blogger is agreeing to be a spokesperson and is being paid. And I believe that blogger has the right to do as she wishes with her income from a job.

Why Do Bloggers Always Wear Sunglasses?

Sunglasses hide a multitude of sins… and derpy faces. So many photos Karl takes are awesome except for my facial expression. Sunglasses make a derpy d’oh face look dreamy or more candid; underneath the shades likely one eye is closed and the other is looking way off to the right. Also, many of us are shy even with having our husband/boyfriend/tripod and hidden remote shooting us. Sunglasses let us hide and not look so “deer in the headlights” in our photos.

Not only that, if you consistently wear the same sunglasses they become your signature. A signature piece makes you stand out from the other bloggers, but also signature pieces are regularly purchased by readers. A reader may not be able to afford or fit in a blogger’s dress but sunglasses fit most everyone.

Derp camouflage and increased revenue. Win-win!

Why Do Bloggers Wear So Many Accessories?

Again, there’s a few reasons why we pile on the accessories for our outfit posts:

  • Money. We have ways to see what pieces we feature are clicked and purchased. And well, accessories are super popular. Budget-friendly, fits a variety of sizes and personal styles, and fun, accessories are an easy way for a reader to get her favorite blogger’s look. Pile on the bracelets and you’re going to make more money from your affiliate programs.
  • You Like Them. If you read the comments, you’ll see many are about accessories. You like how we chose to style a look with a certain shape of bag, certain combination of bracelets, an unexpected use of a scarf. You comment on how you love that we keep wearing that bracelet, how it’s our signature (see sunglasses). You ask what happened to that necklace we haven’t worn in a month. When you pin pictures from our outfit post, more often than not you pin the detail shots – our wrist holding a Starbucks cup, our hand holding a clutch, our waist featuring an interesting belt, our profile showing an ear cuff. We want to feature what you want to see.
  • They Hide a Multitude of Sins. Sunglasses hide derp face and dark circles, wide belts hide ill-fitting frocks, statement necklaces draw attention from a cheap skirt, a sparkly wrist and awesome clutch take center stage and let a cheap jacket recess into the background. And Pinterest is proof positive that if an outfit is sparkly enough, people will like it even if it doesn’t fit, flatter, or coordinate.
  • Kill Two Birds with One Stone. So many gifted items, so few daylight hours to stand in traffic and pretend to hail a cab. This also answers the “why is everything in that look gifted?” question. You agreed to feature that dress from Brand A, that bag from Brand B, the belt from Brand C, the watch from brand D, and the midi rings from Brand E. Eh, they look pretty good together, might as well get them all in one post and make everyone happy.
  • Stand Out in a Crowd. Especially in this day and age of Brand X sending the same sweater to 50 bloggers to style the same week, accessories are the way to add your personal touch to a look. Leandra Medine of Man Repeller was known for trademarking the term Arm Party, Danielle Bernstein of WEWOREWHAT wears aviators in most every photo. Accessories can help define a blogger’s unique personal style in a land of sameness.

Have a Blogging Behind the Scenes question? Leave it in the comments and I may answer it in a future post!

Blogging Behind the Scenes: Why Do Bloggers Do That to their Site?

It’s easy as a blogger to think the majority of your audience is either in your field of work (PR, social media, blogging), or very familiar with the business of blogging. But the thing is, even though the majority of comments may come from those in your field, the majority of those reading quietly don’t know much about what goes to make your blog run; many have never seen another blog other than your own.  I often get questions from readers as to why I or other bloggers do some weird, stupid, or odd things. I’ve never been one to keep secret about the business of blogging; while my experience may not be the same for all bloggers, I hope my insights can help you understand why bloggers do some of the things they do.

blogging behind the scenes

Today’s post is about the blog itself – the format, the template, and how you readers access it.

Why Do Bloggers  Make me Click to Read More?

As blogs grow in popularity and improve their layouts and templates (often replicating those of magazines), more and more are choosing to truncate their posts, offering a link to read a post in its entirety. There’s a few reasons why bloggers do this:

  • Front Page Organization. Many bloggers, especially those with long posts or lots of photos choose to truncate their posts to keep the main page of their blog clean and organized. Having a single photo and a bit of text gives enough for readers to decide if they wish to read more. Many bloggers choose to have their most recent post in its entirety on the main page, and then truncate any old ones to save space. Blogs that are clean and well organized do better in regards to gaining readers and also gaining brand partnerships/making money.
  • Faster Loading. If a blogger chooses to use a ton of big high-resolution photos in a post, it can slow down the load time for a blog. By having each load on its own page, it speeds up load time. Honestly, I think this is a dated reason; with bloggers self-hosting and having access to user-friendly (and free) tools like PicMonkey to reduce the file size of photos without losing size or quality, it really shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
  • Content, not Current. If a blogger doesn’t post with regularity, having an “old school” layout of full posts in chronological order can quickly show that their site is not recently updated. Choosing to have all posts truncated without visible dates encourages a visitor to choose to read based upon content, not what is newest. This is also used by bloggers who have phenomenal content that isn’t current; by being able to bring it up front it gets a second life and a new audience.
  • Pageviews. When a brand or company approaches you to do a partnership, they always ask how many pageviews (how many times a month a page on your blog has been opened/viewed) you receive. When you sell adspace on your blog, you figure out the price by CPM (cost per mille/thousand). Pageviews matter, and there’s a lot of ways we bloggers try to get more pageviews. I often link to previous posts in my posts, I have the widget at the bottom of posts that suggests other content you may wish to peruse, and many use the “click to continue” to increase pageviews.

Why Do Bloggers Change their Layout? I Can’t Find Anything!

While you hate the new layout, newer blog readers love it. They like to be able to just read beauty posts or articles on home décor and want to bypass the book reviews or posts about motherhood. They want to know the life behind the blogger and want to easily find their social media accounts.

Creating a magazine-like layout is good for the person who wants to grow from blogger to editor of a website or web magazine. If you build it, they will come. New visitors will be impressed because even if there’s only 500 pageviews a month it LOOKS as though it’s big and important. But also there’s room to add columnists and new topics and whatever new-fangled trend hits the blogosphere without affecting the look and functions of the site.

I recommend readers pipe up when they don’t like something new on a site. We bloggers don’t know unless you tell us, analytics only show part of the picture. We don’t want you to stop visiting because it’s hard to navigate or hard on the eyes. In turn, please also let us know what you do like so we can be sure to keep it up!

Why Can I Only Read Part of a Blog Post on Feedly/by Email?

You find a blog you adore. You choose to subscribe to the blog via an RSS reader like Feedly, or even subscribe by email. You go to read the first post through your subscription tool and the text cuts off before the first paragraph is finished. There’s two reasons for this:

  • Scrapers. Back in the day, weird blogs would pop up that would steal content from bloggers. You could tell by the formatting that they were scraping the RSS feed and dropping it right in their site. They’d do this to make money off adspace, text links, and other weird things I never ever got. It happened to me quite often, and for a while I truncated my RSS feed to prevent it. However, Google has gotten smart and ad revenue isn’t what it used to be so these blogs hardly exist anymore. Truncating your feed to prevent scrapers in 2015 is the equivalent of still having the blog-standard comment tool of a hard-to-read captcha and moderating comments just to prevent possible spam. While it still will happen from time to time, it doesn’t make sense to inconvenience your actual readers for the chance of an issue.
  • The Full Experience. While it’s fine and good to have a bunch of subscribers (brands and PR folks do ask for those numbers), blogging success comes down to the actual blog. Here is where people are more likely to click on links, here is where people can comment and be part of the community, here is where the reader can truly see how the blogger wants the content to look and be laid out. Visiting the site gives the reader the full experience.
  • Pageviews.  For some it’s just about increasing those pageviews to impress brands and advertisers.

Why Do Bloggers Have Newsletters?

Google Reader disappeared. Facebook has changed their algorithms so you may not see posts from your favorite blog. Who knows in a few years which social media sites will still be in existence (hello Friendster). Creating an email list means the blogger can stay connected even if Blogger or WordPress or Tumblr is no longer, if Facebook and Twitter become the next MySpace, if BlogLovin decides to move onto greener web-based pastures. It’s a security measure to ensure they can keep in touch with you.

Another reason is why I started one – there’s more content than what I can put on this blog. I need to consider that while I have many long-time readers, each day I get new ones. Each new post is my calling card for a minimum of 24 hours, the way someone will judge my site. The newsletter is a place where I can share random thoughts and ideas, reviews and rants and it’s only once a month, and to an audience who has made a decision to subscribe and read it. And in a way I am using it for the same reason as the previous paragraph – I similar types of content on Facebook and Twitter but have seen with the changes in algorithms and increase in popularity of these tools that engagement has dropped drastically. I think my blabbering gets lost in the crowd. A newsletter is just to those who care about my blabbering, and I am not competing with Upworthy or Buzzfeed.

Why is EVERY SINGLE LINK an Affiliate Link?

On my blog, if I link to merchandise, more often than not it’s an affiliate link. That means if you click on the link and buy something, I make a commission. Some bloggers (including me when I am contractually obligated to), use a tool that lets you monetize your Instagram photos; you can sign up for a newsletter and get links to all the merchandise seen in the photos. And some bloggers (me included) use affiliate links when discussing merchandise on Twitter and Facebook.

Magazines aren’t free. Books aren’t free. Blogs technically are free, but it takes a lot of time and yes, money to make quality blogs run. Ad revenue is hardly anything these days so it’s all about affiliate income. The money I make from those links make it so I can continue to run Wardrobe Oxygen and justify the time and money spent on it. I regularly feature merchandise that doesn’t have an affiliate link because I like it and want to share it with you. But if I can make money off a link without sacrificing the quality of the content, I am going to and I don’t blame any person who does the same.

You however, are the one in charge. You can choose whether or not to click on those links. If a blogger features an item and doesn’t share where it’s from and won’t answer your request for information and just tells you to click the link, you have the choice to click the link or Google that image until you find the information yourself. There are many bloggers who choose not to monetize their sites, if it makes you uncomfortable to know your blogger is making money from the entertainment, inspiration, or advice she is offering you there are plenty of other bloggers in the Internet sea.

Why Do Some Bloggers Have the Same Photo Twice in Posts?

This usually happens when they have a WordPress blog, set an image as the “Featured Image” but because they don’t see it in their editor, they add the photo again. Also some themes with a slideshow or featured image widget on the main page cause this issue.  Often this duplicate only shows in the RSS feed/email so the blogger may not even know about this issue. Don’t be afraid to send a friendly email to tip her off!

Why Do Bloggers Have Ten Photos of Practically the Same Thing?

While the photo of the blogger looking off into the sunset may resonate with some, the photo of the blogger smiling right into the camera may resonate with others. A blogger wants to have photos that nicely feature all the items worn in the post plus full-length photos to show the entire look. On top of this, if brands have gifted merchandise or paid for the post to be written, they will want a certain number of photos featuring their merchandise. Finally, Pinterest. Yes, your favorite time-suck is a big reason why bloggers have photos a certain size, have ten of the same photo, images with the title on them, etc. Pinterest is a fantastic way to reach a new audience, and just as the looking off into the sunset photo may resonate best with a reader, it may be just the photo to be liked, repinned, added to a popular board, or introduce a new reader to the blog.

Why Do Blogs Have that Floating Bar at the Top of the Page?

If you’re reading this post on my actual blog, as you scroll down the page a white bar will appear at the top of the blog. There’s a mini version of my logo, a couple links to different places on the blog or my social media channels, and a search field. Many blogs and websites have this, be it like mine, a request to sign up for their newsletter, or some other call to action. I chose to add it to my site because I find it very useful when on other blogs. I visit a new blog and really like what I see; without having to scroll back to the top of the page I can click and follow the blogger on Instagram or Twitter, subscribe to her email, or visit her ‘About’ page. If I click on a link to a specific post and am scrolling down and want to see more of this blog, I don’t have to scroll up – I can just click ‘Home’ or the logo and bounce right back to the front page. And you wouldn’t believe how many emails I’d get before having it asking what the link was to my social media channels, or how to subscribe to the blog. Once I added the floating menu, I never received another email of that sort. And finally, it’s great marketing. While you’re reading you’re always seeing the logo or name of the site. You’re consistently seeing links to get the newsletter or follow on Facebook. There’s a better chance you’re going to click on that link or remember that blog’s name.

Have a Blogging Behind the Scenes question? Leave it in the comments and I may answer it in a future post!

Focus on Blogger Fashion: Heart, Print & Style

Not until a little over a year ago, did I admit I was based out of Washington, DC (I used to have a pseudonym and just say I was somewhere on the Mid-Atlantic). Once I admitted my location, I decided to make an effort to get to know my fellow DC fashion bloggers. Thanks to the Capital Area Fashion and Beauty Bloggers, I have met so many fashionable bloggers in this city.

I met Vivi of Heart, Print & Style at one of my first blogger meetups, and immediately loved her fabulous sense of style, as well her sweet personality. On top of that, we realized we only live a couple miles from one another! Every time I visit Vivi’s blog or see her at an event, I am wowed by how she translates current trends to fit her figure and personality.

This holiday season, many of you have asked how to carry off hot trends, sequins, and sparkle when you are plus sized or have curves. I asked my friend Vivi to share some of her recent party looks, and how she makes popular trends work for her figure.

Vivi on Shopping:

“I have a love-hate relationship with shopping. I get excited about the task but once I get there, I lose interest immediately. Usually when I plan to shop, I already have in mind of what I want. Window shopping live, in person is not one of my favorite past time; I enjoy ‘window shopping’ online.”

“I can spend hours in a thrift store scouring for unique items. It’s a bit more exhilarating to shop there than at retail stores. You never know what you will find!”

“[My second favorite place to shop] is Old Navy. One main reason why I love the store so much is because their XXL tends to run a bit big. That is a HUGE plus (no pun intended) for me since I have a sizable chest and all my weight is distributed to my middle area. My favorite online retail store is ASOS. If you want to be ahead of the fashion curve in ANY size (regular, petite and plus size), ASOS is the place. Their accessories and bags/purses section is just amazing. And finally, ASOS has THE BEST clearance sale around. Regarding shoes, I shop at Avenue, Lane Bryant and a couple of online stores like Simply Be and Evans. Each store offers classic and trendy shoes for my 10WW feet. I buy all of my lingerie from Lane Bryant.”

Vivi on Making Trends Work for Her Figure:

“The best advice I’ve heard is to always know what works best for your body. Also, you must know your body type. Like for me, my body type is an apple: smaller on top and the bottom, bigger in the middle. I barely have any hips and my butt is non-existent. Because of this, I tend to gravitate toward items that I know will hide the middle area a bit more; blazers, cardigans, vests, jackets – anything that I can layer over a dress or a blouse. Speaking of dresses, I go for those that have a slight empire waist, not too form-fitting, and highlights my chest area (v-style or low u-style). If the dress is form fitting, I’ll layer it with a blazer, etc. If the dress is shapeless, I add a belt. Having small hips, I need to create an illusion of a hour glass figure and a belt accomplishes that. For bottoms (skirts, pants, jeans), it’s all about a high waist to prevent the dreaded ‘muffin top’.” 

“I am a lover of color and print. Color and prints can work for anybody, in any shape; the key is finding the item that can work best for your body. The same applies to the popular trends you see today – sequins, velvet, plaid, polka dots, bright pants, maxi skirts, mixing prints, etc. As long as you know your body type, you can definitely make it work!”

Thank you so much Vivi for sharing your personal style with us!  To learn more about Vivi of Heart, Print & Style please visit her blog; you can also find her online at:

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Blogger Favorite Beauty Buys of 2013: Lip Edition

At the end of each year, I share what I found to be the best beauty buys from the past 12 months. Some are new products, some are just new to me. Many of you tell me you find the posts incredibly helpful, and I must say I also find them helpful when I read them on other blogs. This year, I decided to ask my favorite bloggers to share their single favorite beauty product from 2013 and I must say their choices have made my shopping list a mile long! I was honored to have so many bloggers share their faves, I have broken it down into six editions; this one focuses on lip products.

“My favorite beauty buy of 2013 is my Givenchy “big girl” lipstick. While browsing in Sephora one day I realized that I’d be turning 30 soon, and as such my lipsticks needed to start having more gravitas. It’s a highly pigmented lipstick that goes on surprisingly smooth. The color lasts for hours on end, which never happens with my “lesser” lipsticks. Plus, the tube is encased in leather – so it looks great on my vanity, too!”

“I have to credit Birchbox (even though I have a love-hate with them) for helping me discover my new ‘can’t live without’ beauty product. I’m addicted to lip balm. Don’t tell me that I should stop using it and my lips will eventually regulate themselves. That just doesn’t work for me. I keep one in my bedside table. I store a tube in the car. I have one in my purse, one in my desk, even one in the junk drawer in my kitchen. Usually, I’m not picky. ChapStick. Burt’s Bees. Carmex. But then Birchbox sent me the Jouer Lip Enhancer. At $14 a tube, it’s pricier than I usually pay, but it’s so worth it. This one I keep in my purse and use sometimes in lieu of lipstick when I know I’m going to be running around and won’t have time for lip maintenance. Its very soft color gives just enough hue to make me look awake, and the texture is delicious. If only it didn’t run out so darn quickly!”

“My favorite beauty buy this year wasn’t something new or trendy, but rather something that is always reliable and almost sort of utilitarian. I can’t live without color (red, preferably) on my lips, and Stila Stay All Day liquid lipsticks in Fiery and Beso are my go-tos. While most liquid lipsticks are drying and cakey, Stila’s feel like velvet on my lips and stay put forever. (I use jojoba oil to gently dissolve it at the end of the day!) I feel like you can’t go wrong with anything Stila, but these babies are a standout product for me. They truly really embody what a liquid lipstick SHOULD be.”

– Erin, Zero Style

“I had to think about this for a while but my favorite beauty buy of 2013 has to be my NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Lodhi. I’ll admit, I totally purchased this coral lip color on a whim and I never thought it’d become a staple in my small cosmetic bag but I was proven wrong. I love the color and it enhances my complexion (if you have fair skin, I highly recommend). I also love the formula. It’s easy to apply on the go and I love the creamy satin finish. It even fades well. Seriously, this lipstick can do no wrong!”

“My favorite beauty buy of 2013 is my Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in a Blackberry (#640). I don’t wear lipstick on a daily basis, but it is an evening and weekend staple I use to finish off my look. This darker shade of lipstick is a departure from the reds and dark pinks I usually favor but I’m feeling it! As my makeup routine becomes more minimal and my skin care routine becomes more important, I see lipstick as being a go-to beauty buy for years to come.”

– Shen Dove, Shen Dove Style 

“Best beauty buy from 2013 is Velvet Matte NARS lip pencil in Cruella.”

– Tashira, Politics and Fashion

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

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Blogger Favorite Beauty Buys of 2013: Haircare Edition

At the end of each year, I share what I found to be the best beauty buys from the past 12 months. Some are new products, some are just new to me. Many of you tell me you find the posts incredibly helpful, and I must say I also find them helpful when I read them on other blogs. This year, I decided to ask my favorite bloggers to share their single favorite beauty product from 2013 and I must say their choices have made my shopping list a mile long! I was honored to have so many bloggers share their faves, I have broken it down into six editions; this one focuses on haircare.

“I LOVE Tigi Bed Head Rockaholic Fun Times Flexible Hairspray. Soft hair that doesn’t move, perfect for ponytails. Totally stays in place all day without looking like your hair is frozen, and doesn’t have an odor some others do!”

“My hands-down favorite product is UNITE’s 7SECOND Leave In Conditioner/Detangler. I’ve never used a product on my hair that works so well. This detangler is a bit on the expensive side for me, but a little goes a long way and one bottle lasts for a few months. I strayed to a different product over the summer, used it once, and went back to my old standby.”
– Ashley, Ashley in DC

“Mine would have to be Carol’s Daughter Monoi Anti-breakage Spray. My hair can have a mind of its own. It snarls really easily and can get super dry. A healthy dose of this really helps the curls!”
– Emily, Capital Style
“It’s got to be Bumble and bumble White Hair Powder (dry shampoo). I got it at Salon 46 in Old Town and it’s been a life saver this year. With a new baby and a 4 year old to look after, time is of the essence. I wash my hair 1-2 times per week, then touch up with this to create different looks and styles. It’s absolutely BRILLIANT! I like the added texture it gives my hair, and really with this, you don’t need much hairspray to keep hair in place. I look fresh and ready to go!”

– Maria, Very Busy Mama

“My all time favorite beauty product of 2013 has to be the Garnier Volumizing Anti-Humidity Hair Spray. After looking for, finding and loving a John Frieda version that was discontinued (how could they??), I was at a loss with what to buy as I am just not really a beauty product kind of woman. I tried this Garnier on a whim (well that and I had a coupon) in the #2 and I loved it enough to try the #3 which has turned out to be my complete go-to. It has just enough hold to still style a look but can also nail down all those stray hairs or get you that hair to make you closer to God. Favorite product, hands down. And it’s under $4!”

– Sydney, Chic Stripes

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

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Blogger Favorite Beauty Buys of 2013: Skincare Edition

Last week I did my annual post sharing what I found to be my best beauty buys from the past 12 months. Some are new products, some are just new to me. Many of you tell me you find the posts incredibly helpful, and I must say I also find them helpful when I read them on other blogs. This year, I decided to ask my favorite bloggers and fashion experts to share their favorite beauty product from 2013 and I must say their choices have made my shopping list a mile long! I was honored to have so many bloggers share their faves, I have broken it down into six editions; this one focuses on favorite skincare products. 

Jojoba oil! Hands down it is the best thing I have ever used on my skin and my must have product. I use it to wash my face, remove makeup and as a moisturizer. Jojoba oil it isn’t actually oil but a wax ester. This wax ester is very similar to human skin oil (sebum). You would think that jojoba oil would create oilier skin, but it does the opposite and tricks the skin into producing less oil vs. more. It’s great for acne prone skin for this reason because unlike skin products that strip the oil, and therefore makes the skin produce more oil, jojoba oil balances the skin, plus your skin feels super soft. You can use jojoba oil on its own or to throw a few drops into your moisturizer or cleansing products. What I do is wash my face with Jojoba to remove all my makeup. I follow that with a very hot washcloth over my face for 30 seconds and wipe away all the makeup and dirty oil on my skin. After that I use a basic cleanser (my favorite is Purpose soap) and a few drops of jojoba on my Clairsonic Mia to exfoliate. I follow that up with a good anti-aging moisturizer and eye cream with a few drops of jojoba thrown in.”

“I struggle with hormonal acne and I am convinced that Mario Badescu’s entire acne line is going to change my life. My skin is clearer and healthier than it’s been in years, and I swear by the Buffering Lotion and Drying Mask to knockout those deep cysts on my neck and chest! 

– Katie, Hems for Her 

“My favorite beauty buy of 2013 was the Anti-Puffy Eye Serum by Garden of Wisdom. It was my favorite buy as I have tried several anti-puff serums, creams, gels, etc. and this one isn’t loaded with chemicals. The serum is very smoothing and I feel (when used regularly) that is actually helps reduce my under eye puffiness. A little goes a long way, so it’s worth every penny!”

– Meagan Kyla, Coffin Kitsch

“As a devotee of the oil cleansing method (OCM), I’m also a fan of serums and oils for keeping skin balanced. This year, I ponied up for this Vitamin C Active Moisture Serum by Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics. Yep, it’s spendy. But BOY is it worth the price. This stuff has balanced my combination skin, eliminated several problematic dry patches, and helped even out my texture and tone. And a little goes a long way, so your dollars are well spent!

– Sally, Already Pretty

L’Oreal Youth Code Texture Perfector Serum. I have never had a serum delivery such immediate results without fanfare. I have always struggled with the texture of my skin, trying every Clarisonic device and chemical exfoliant. Nothing has affected the surface of my skin like this product. It doesn’t leave a film, fill pores, or color correct, but somehow it makes a big impact. There’s only one application left in my bottle and I’m picking up another one ASAP!”

– Sarah, Style IT

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



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Blogger Favorite Beauty Buys of 2013: Mixed Bag Edition!

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

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

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

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

– Alison, DC Celine

– Angelica, Clarendon Moms

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

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

– Jennifer, Comme Coco

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

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

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

– Rosa (and Lola!), Rosa Loves DC

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

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