Search Results for: label/bra advice

This is Not a Bra

This is not a bra.
 
This isn’t a bra either.
 
This may be labeled as a bra, but it doesn’t act like one.
 
This may be considered a bra, but it’s a bra for very specific athletic activities, and ONLY for those specific activities.


What’s the point of this post?

Whether you are an AA or an FFF, unless you are 12 years old, you need a proper bra. Breast tissue, unless supported by silicone or saline, doesn’t sit up on its own. When you are younger, it will have some bounce and your skin will have enough strength to hold the breasts up a bit. However with time, babies, weight loss and gain, your breasts will sag a bit. To keep the skin and tissue in great shape, and to flatter whatever figure you have, it is imperative to wear a proper bra. And the above examples are not proper bras.

A bra that fits and flatters, lifts and separates will do wonders for your figure, the fit of your clothing, your opinion of your body. A supportive, well-fitting bra can make you look ten pounds slimmer, three inches taller, five year younger. It can also reduce back pain, improve your posture, and help you when struggling in the fitting room for clothing to flatter.

Many women who like more relaxed and casual attire feel that wearing a sports bra or tank with shelf bra will “do.” That their clothing is loose enough for one to not notice. My dear, we notice. Women with small breasts often feel that a bra is pointless; they go without or wear little lacy triangle bras just for a bit of modesty in a breeze. No matter your size, such underpinnings do not give shape to your breasts, and do not flatter.

If you are feeling a little less than pleased with your figure or your wardrobe, before you run out to the mall or your local Jenny Craig location, consider a bra fitting with a professional. There are many boutiques in metropolitan areas that specialize in bra fittings; major department stores such as Lord and Taylor and Nordstrom also have bra fitters on site. Do not feel obligated to purchase a bra after the fitting; only buy that which you need and at a price you can afford.

One doesn’t need a dozen bras, just a handful so you can let them breathe between wearings. One in black, at least one in a color as close to your skin color as possible, one that is adjustable/strapless/appropriate to formal and special attire. The rest is icing on the cake, so instead of purchasing many cheap bras, buy few and buy looking for quality. Baby your bras – hand wash (or if you must, wash on the gentle cycle in the machine in a lingerie bag), line dry.

Who cares what you’re wearing on the outside if you’re not flattering and highlighting your body? Take some time and care with your underpinnings and you will be amazed how much better your entire wardrobe will look and fit!

Ask Allie: Capsule Wardrobe for Business Travel

I loved your SAHM capsule – any chance of you doing something similar for the Road Warrior? I have worked with the concept but still am missing a few pieces that I can’t for the life of me figure out what they are.

I got a new job in November that will have me traveling quite a bit this spring. I will visit client sites, and will be away from home for up to three weeks at a time. I haven’t had to travel for work before more than a couple days or a conference and have no clue how to do this. My coworker is a man and he says he keeps his suitcase always packed and ready to go, how does a woman make three weeks of professional clothing fit in one carry on suitcase? HELP!

In my past career lives, I did travel for business. While I was never away for more than a week, I often saw the same clients multiple times in a month, and often only had a week between trips before I was again on the road. It may seem daunting to look professional and pack smart, but it is possible. These days professional attire is found with Lycra, spandex, and fabric blends that make it comfortable and travel-friendly. Matte jersey, stretch wool, ponte knit, crepe, and gabardine can be your friend when you are a road warrior. I made a sample capsule wardrobe based upon my experiences with business travel. Only the suit in this capsule is high-maintenance fabric; pack wrapped in dry cleaning bags to prevent wrinkles, hang up as soon as you arrive and it should be okay for the big presentation. The rest are work-appropriate separates that all have some sort of stretch to keep them looking great right off the plane or train or out of the suitcase.

Over 30 outfits with only 14 garments (details):

 

Lots of ponte separates. I’m a ponte addict, I can’t deny it. Heavyweight knit that works year-round, doesn’t wrinkle, and can be machine washed. Pretty spectacular. On top of that, it looks refined enough for the workplace. In this capsule I have black ponte pants, an ivory ponte blazer, black ponte dress, black ponte top, and gray ponte skirt. Since they are the same fabric, they mix and match with ease and the combinations looks more like ensembles. Ponte is also great when you have to fly or take the train and immediately head to a business meeting – you won’t be full of wrinkles and will be comfortable sitting for long spans of time.

Strategic pops of color. While it seems smart to pack an entire suitcase of neutrals, that can look pretty boring pretty quickly. Choosing suit shells and soft jackets or cardigans in colors will stretch your neutral capsule further. Mix two for a bold look, or just have one piece to give a neutral you already wore a new life. The choice of color is dependant on your personal style and profession. For more conservative fields, consider softer or more traditional hues; if you’re in a creative field you can amp up the color and even add more to the capsule.

Stick to solids. While prints can break up a wardrobe monotony, they are also so incredibly memorable that you can’t easily wear the same print twice with a client. If you are in a more casual or creative field, you can consider a print like leopard for some accessories, but having solids for your Road Warrior wardrobe means you can likely wear the same garment twice in a week without a client being the wiser.

Choose pieces that can dress up and down. While you may be meeting with clients and needing a professional wardrobe, not every moment of your day is suit-worthy. Maybe you’re meeting colleagues for happy hour, or your client is taking you to a baseball game. Be ready without having to stuff a suitcase with a casual wardrobe. A striped tee with a flattering neckline and fabric can be dressed up under a suit jacket, or paired with jeans and flats for a barbecue or sporting event. Pair the jeans with the cardigan for a casual meal, or with the ivory blazer (maybe tuck a band tee shirt or simple tank into your suitcase) or just a sweater shell with pashmina or statement necklace for drinks at a neighborhood bar.

As for dressing up, a ponte or crepe dress can work for the office or for a cocktail party. The black dress I featured could work with a blazer or cardigan by day and with red lips and mascara will make it perfect for an evening affair. Use the pashmina as an evening wrap.

Pack smart accessories. While I am all for having a large accessory collection for changing the look of wardrobe staples, when you’re a Road Warrior you need to keep your wardrobe to a minimum and keep it super easy. A statement necklace that isn’t too sparkly or too arts and crafty can jazz up a classic suit, or dress up a work dress to look cocktail appropriate. A pashmina can be your travel blanket on the plane, add interest to a simple dress or ensemble, be your evening wrap for a cocktail party, and ward off chill in overly air-conditioned office buildings. If you know you will be there longer, consider wearing tall boots on the trip for they will give a completely different look to skirts, dresses, jeans and narrow pants. Finally, choose a structured and polished bag to be your purse, your carryon bag, as well as your work tote. Find one that can hold both your laptop as well as a bottle of water and copy of InStyle for the flight.

Pack repair and care supplies. Stitch Witchery, a small sewing kit, bar of Ivory soap or a small bottle of laundry detergent, Shout Wipes or Tide-to-Go pen, safety pins, a black Sharpie (covers snags in tights and fabric, tears in leather, etc.), lint remover. When I used to travel on business, I had my toiletries kit already packed and ready to go with mini versions of all my beauty products, and I also had an emergency outfit kit in a small bag with these essentials. Both stayed in my suitcase when I was home, only removed to replace that which ran out. This way, I never forgot them and was already ready for any situation (or any stain). Most hotels have a shine cloth for shoes and an iron to get out wrinkles and fuse Stitch Witchery.

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Summer Sartorial Rules for Corporate America

These days it can be confusing when trying to dress for the office. With retailers showing “secretary” dresses that hardly cover one’s behind, painted-on pants paired with blazers, and cleavage-baring blouses with suits, you wonder what actually is acceptable these days. Add to this a sweltering hot summer, and one could easily stray in the wrong sartorial direction. From one corporate employee to another, here’s some rules on summer office fashion that apply to you whether you’re a cubicle dweller or reside in the corner office.

Even if they’re metallic or beaded, they’re still flip flops. And if they’re flip flops, they don’t belong in the office. Period.

A cardigan doesn’t make a strapless dress work-appropriate. Seriously ladies, we can still tell it is strapless. This also goes for low-cut dresses, spaghetti straps, and every other dress more appropriate for happy hour on the terrace than the boardroom.

If I couldn’t wear spaghetti straps when working at the mall, you can’t wear them to the office. When I worked in apparel, even at trendy companies like Express, we had a dress code. That dress code restricted many things like sneakers, but it also restricted revealing attire such as spaghetti straps. If I couldn’t be a 21-year old in Express with spaghetti straps, you sure as heck shouldn’t be an adult with them at work. It’s just not professional.

Even if your bra strap is the same color as your tank, it doesn’t make it invisible. A peach racerback tank with peach bra straps is still a shirt exposing bra straps. A navy x-back sundress with a navy traditional bra is still a dress exposing your lingerie. I commend your attempt, but it’s still not appropriate for the office.

Hemlines shouldn’t rise with the temperature. Your skirt should be near your knee, not near your rear. If you can’t bend down to pick up your pen or sit on a standard chair without fear of flashing, your skirt is too short.

A hoodie is not an appropriate layer for offices that blast the A/C. Even if it’s cashmere, if it zips up the front, has two pockets and a hood, it’s not professional looking. Switch to a cardigan, pashmina, or soft jacket.

White is almost always transparent. I personally think thin white cotton and twill and light-colored linen should not be worn to the office, but if you do, wear with skin-colored seamless undergarments. No lace, no bows, no stripes, and not even sheer (the better to see the cotton crotch and waistband, my dear). If it’s a dress, wear a slip, if in doubt, don’t wear it to work.

Cleavage isn’t appropriate, no matter the season. Somehow, those who understand office attire let everything literally hang out come summer. Low-cut tanks, deep Vs on wrap dresses, strapless tops under cardigans… and none of it is appropriate for the office. If you wouldn’t show your décolleté in December, you also shouldn’t in July.

Dress code still applies. If it’s business casual, that means nice pants and skirts with refined tops or a simple dress. It does not mean chino Bermudas, seersucker sundresses with flip flops, logoed tee shirts with capris, tropical printed maxis with beaded sandals, or super-short cotton skirts with ribbed tanks. This is your office, not a tiki bar. You can beat the heat without dressing for Margaritaville.

Dress for respect. Again, this is your place of work. This is how you pay your rent, buy groceries and gas, and where you should be striving to move up the corporate ladder. Dress the part, no matter how hot it is outside.

For some suggestions on appropriate office attire, please visit:

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A Bra Fitting with Soma Intimates and a Giveaway

Soma contacted me and asked if I’d like to come to their boutique at the Westfield Montgomery Mall and get a bra fitting and try their Enhancing Shape Bra. I heard about this bra through InStyle, who considers it to be the solution for “ski slope” (the gap at the top of bra cups). I’ve always been a busty woman, but after years of breastfeeding, age, gravity, weight loss and gain, I’ve lost some of my breast volume and was interested in a bra that would address this issue and improve the allover shape of my bust.

Soma Intimates Bra Fitting

In 27 sizes from cups A-DDD there’s a Soma Enhancing Shape Bra for many women; the padded comfort straps and cushioned hook and eye closure ensures the bra is comfortable all day, while the smooth style makes it invisible under fitted knits. In eight solids and four prints this bra is anything but boring.

Wardrobe Oxygen Soma IntimatesSoma Intimates Enhancing Shape Bra

Visiting Soma Intimates was a pleasure; though it was a busy Sunday afternoon, the boutique was well staffed so each of us customers received quality assistance and an unrushed experience in the fitting room. I was partnered with Karien, who took me to a spacious fitting room to determine my bra size. She had me remove my shirt but I kept on my bra as she used a tape measure to size me. Karien then went out to the sales floor and brought back bras in the size she determined and one a cup smaller since the Enhancing Shape Bra does occasionally run big for some. We found that a 38D fit me best, and as you can see from my fitting room selfie above, the bra was pretty much invisible under Soma’s Smoothing Seamless Cami. The bra did give a look of fullness to my bustline without making it look bigger (and without the dreaded “quad boob”), and the bra is super comfortable. No digging in the back, I can’t feel any of the hardware, and I wore the bra all day and there wasn’t any discomfort under the arms or in the shoulders. I was tempted to get the Light Nude which was very close to my skintone and would make for a perfect tee shirt bra, but sweater weather is here and I decided to indulge in the black and white Indulgent Lace pattern which is so beautiful and can be worn under thicker fall and winter clothing without showing. It’s fun to have pretty bras that are also useful!

Soma Intimates Westfield Montgomery Mall Maryland

Karien (pictured above, I had to get a photo with her after such a pleasant bra shopping experience!) was so knowledgeable about bras in general, proper fitting, and of course knew the Soma collection inside and out. I loved how all the employees I interacted with were so friendly and professional, knowledgeable but not pushy. They told me about their Get Gorgeous Parties where you and at least three of your friends can schedule an event at your local Soma boutique to get fitted, all of you receive 15% off your purchases (or you can choose to donate that 15% to your favorite charity), and you receive a free bra for hosting. I also signed up for Love Soma Rewards, a free program where you earn points towards cash rewards, birthday gifts, exclusive offers, and free shipping when you shop online. After my experience at Soma, I know I’ll end up a regular customer!

Giveaway

If Soma sounds great to you, then today’s your lucky day! One Wardrobe Oxygen reader will receive a $60 gift certificate to Soma to use on their own Enhancing Shape Bra or any other merchandise from the brand. To enter, leave a comment letting me know what color of the Enhancing Shape Bra you’d choose if you won. Giveaway ends November 2, 2014 at 11:59pm ET. Winner will be chosen by random and must have a valid email address (in comment, signed in as guest in Disqus, or in Disqus profile). Winner will be contacted by email; if winner does not reply to notification email within 48 hours a new winner will be chosen. Winner may use gift certificate online or in Soma Intimates boutiques.

To learn more about Soma, click here to find your local boutique, click here to get their catalog, or visit them on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest. And if you live in the Maryland/DC area, I highly recommend you visit the Soma Intimates location at Westfield Montgomery Mall!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Soma via Burst Media. The opinions and text are all mine.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Soma. The opinions and text are all mine.

My Bra Had a Baby!

As you know, I am on the search for new lingerie.  My bras are too large and my underwear is too old and un-pretty.  Well after being measured, it seems that I am still the same band size (though am close to going down) and down one cup size.  So I checked out Nordstrom’s sale department online to see what I could find in my new size.

These are the two bras I received.  THEY ARE THE SAME SIZE.  Same band, same cup.  One is Natori, one is DKNY

Seriously, doesn’t it look like Mama Bra & Baby Bra?

Seriously DKNY, WTH?  The Natori fit great and I am actually wearing it today and wore it Saturday.  It made my brown dress fit better because my bust wasn’t so… busty.  I couldn’t feel it on, and it hides under knits.  Total win.

The DKNY, I put it on just for giggles.  You know how a too-small bra may give you quad boobs from overfill?  Well this bra, I had overfill in my armpits, on top and even under the wires!  Talk about a major FAIL!  A funny fail, but a fail nonetheless.

Backless Bra for Busty Gals?

backless bra Maidenform

Maidenform has launched the first-ever completely backless bra. The Breakthrough™ Backless Bra, a one-of-a-kind design, allows women of all bust sizes, and especially large-busted women, the chance to take advantage of this season’s sexy backless fashions. As a woman with a bust on the larger size, I wonder if this bra really could support and allow me to wear outfits with lower backs.

From the Maidenform Press Release:
Backless fashions are all the rage this spring! From special occasion to ready-to-wear, designers are including sexy backless styles in all of their spring collections. But who can really wear these fashions? Most women today are in desperate need of bra support! The first ever Breakthrough™ Backless bra by Maidenform® is here in time to offer women all the support they need this spring.

Thanks to the ABC’s hit reality series “American Inventor”™ — from “American Idol” producers FremantleMedia North America, Simon Cowell’s Syco Television and Peter Jones TV Ltd. – our fashion worries will soon be over. Originally created by runner-up contestant Elaine Cato, the new Maidenform Breakthrough™ Backless Bra is the first product ever to be brought to mass market. This new foundation features a completely backless construction with silicone wire channeling that prevents slippage. Now women don’t have to shy away from the latest backless fashion trends and can feel sexy, feminine and supported – all at once!

A born entrepreneur and single mother of two, Elaine Cato was not afraid to put her invention to the test. Like the producers and judges on “American Inventor,” Maidenform immediately saw the undeniable promise of her creation, working diligently with her to bring the design to fruition and later to mass market. Today, the Breakthrough™ Backless Bra, armed with Elaine’s concept, has created an undergarment aimed to perfectly round-out every innerwear wardrobe.

backless bra MaidenformThe Breakthrough™ Backless Bra features light-weight microfiber fabric that is soft to the touch, with seamless molded foam cups that deliver smooth shaping under clothes. Combined with a two-way stretch technology, the bra provides a maneuverable fit with excellent flexibility. Designed with the full-figured female in mind, the bra allows women with even large busts to flaunt their sexy backs like never before!

“During the warmer seasons, women crave those backless styles,” says Norah Alberto, Maidenform’s Senior Style Director. “To help these women bare their back for spring we are launching the new Breakthrough™ Backless Bra which delivers the perfect complement to everyone’s bra closet and is the answer to so many women’s style dilemmas.”

At a suggested retail price of $32 (though currently only $25 if you pre-order on the Maidenform Web site!) and sizes ranging from 34B to 38DD, I plan to try it out and I will be sure to come back here and let you guys know what I think!

Advice, Insomina, and Rachael Ray

I wrote a post many moons ago, before Emerson was a twinkle in my eye, where I gave advice to new moms on what to wear. I got mega flack from it. Angry mothers emailed me, left comments, even stopped me on the street to tell me I have no idea what I was talking about. If I am not a mother, I can’t possibly understand what a mother deals with.

I apologized to the moms, but I felt the feedback was a tad harsh. I had dealt with a busy schedule, a job that left me messy and stained at the end of the day, I had friends who were mothers, I had been a personal shopper for new mothers. Heck, I even did some reading on the subject before writing the post!

This weekend I wasn’t feeling well, I ended up waking at 3am and couldn’t get back to sleep. I watched some random crap on OnDemand, and then switched to the OWN network and caught an episode of the Rachael Ray show. A mother of several children was asking for advice regarding how to fly as a family without the rest of the plane hating their guts. Her children were sweet, but they would fight and scream and get bored and antsy. Rachael began her advice, comparing this mother’s situation to when Rachael flies with her dog.

I now understood why those moms went off on me for my fashion post.

A mother with insomnia and a Twitter account… a dangerous combination

Rachael Ray turned me into one of those irate moms emailing me over my clueless fashion post. It’s not like those without children can’t “get” it. It’s that no mother will appreciate parenting advice when it comes not only from someone who doesn’t have children, but someone who makes it sound as though having a pampered pit bull is the same as having three children under the age of 10.

I realized the issue with my post wasn’t about the advice – I defend it and when I became a mom still found my suggestions helpful. The problem with my post was my tone, my attitude, the way my words pretty much said, “Stop making excuses and get yourself a new shirt, you tacky woman.” How Rachael Ray may have had decent suggestions for this mom, but they were missed because that mom was probably like me, seeing red after hearing how you should wear your kids out, like how Rachael lets Isaboo run around the yard a few times before getting in her crate.

Once I became a mom, I felt the whole world seemed to have advice for me or was judging me. Judging my choice to breastfeed, judging my choice to go back to work, judging how I carried my baby, how I dressed me baby, and how I dressed myself. Geez Louise, I just tore a human being out of my body two months ago, I’m glad the two of us are alive, I really don’t have space in my brain right now for a coordinated and clean ensemble. Since then, I try to remember to not give advice on a topic I know nothing about. Clothing is only one part of the puzzle, but the person in those clothes is the most important piece.

So thanks Rachael Ray, for reminding me about the most important aspect of advice – the person who is asking for it. And my suggestion to you? How about a Mom blogger as a guest correspondent for parenting segments?

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Ask Allie: Creating a Bra Wardrobe

 

Allie, I hope this isn’t too personal but you have large breasts and they always look great no matter what you wear. Can you let me know more about your bra collection? What styles work best for you?

I breastfed my son for three years and my breasts are now saggy. I know you breastfed Emerson, but your breasts look perky even in fitted tops, what bra do you wear?

What kind of bra do you wear with all these spaghetti strap dresses?

I can’t stress this enough – get a professional bra fitting. Sure, there’s instructions online on how to do it yourself, and chain stores like Victoria’s Secret claim to be bra experts, but you will get a better and more honest fitting, especially if you are large busted or have special needs, if you go to a bra boutique or lingerie section of a high-end department store. Who cares what brand you’re wearing or what trends you’re sporting if your foundation isn’t its best?

Seriously, I don’t believe in scrimping on bras. Go ahead, get cheap jeans, cheap tops, cheap dresses. But things that you wear every day and determine the look and fit of everything else deserve the money, time, and effort. If need be, get fitted and don’t buy anything but note the brands, style number, and size and look for it cheaper online, but the same size but a different brand won’t necessarily fit the same or give you the same shape and lift. And while I am preaching, just because it looks online that you and I have similar figures, I still stress you should get fitted and find the right style for YOU. Some bodies are built for Bali, others look wonderful in Wacoal.

That being said, here’s my bra wardrobe:

Molded Tee Shirt Bras – Two Nude, One Black
I have two in nude because I mainly wear nude in the summer, and you shouldn’t wear the same bra two days in a row, and often one is hanging from the shower curtain rod drying while the other is on my body. These are my everyday bras, worn under blouses, sweaters, tee shirts. They are free of bows, jacquard, lace, or any adornment that would show through a lightweight white tee. The straps are plain as well so if one peeks out of a neckline it’s not as obvious. I strive to have the nude be my nude color, but find the less I allow sun to tan my skin, the harder it is to find a good match.

I do not own a white bra because I don’t see the point – it positively glows under white shirts, and is dreadful under a black knit. My skin isn’t white, so there’s always going to be a contrast. Black under dark colors, nude under the rest.

I choose a molded cup because I think it gives my breasts a nice lifted, youthful shape. I also find the extra support awesome when it’s that time of the month and my breasts are 50 pounds each. Also, less issue with headlights, which can be darn sexy and a natural occurrence but not the best for the office.

What I Own: Fantasie Moulded Smoothing Tee Shirt Bra and the Fantastie Esme

Molded Strapless Bra – One Nude
The type of bra I get has removeable straps, so it can be strapless, but can also be halter, crisscross, one shoulder. Again, I like molded because of the shape, and I think it makes a strapless bra more natural looking and more comfortable.

And yes, large-busted women can find strapless bras that stay up, hold breasts up, and don’t hurt after an hour of wearing. This is when I again stress getting yourself fitted, I have spent hundreds on disappointing strapless bras and with one try I found my Holy Grail strapless at a bra boutique.

I don’t wear strapless bras often enough to find a need for more than one, I choose nude because it’s the most versatile.

What I Own: Simone Perele Velia Strapless Plunge

Sports Bra
I’m not one to workout on a regular basis – I’ll wear a normal bra for yoga and walking, but sometimes you need a bra that can handle high impact and sweat. I choose black because it usually DOES end up being seen, and I think it looks less bra-like in black.

What I Own: Freya Active Underwire

Bras That May be Seen
I have two bras that I call “fun bras.” One is red with violet lace overlay and lacy violet straps, one is a molded cup, but a berry color with lace detail and prettier and slimmer straps. Both have matching panties, and a couple other pairs of underpinnings that coordinate nicely. Both I got on clearance because I can wait on these.

These are worn when I want to feel a bit more sassy, and are also worn when I wear pieces that sort of work with an exposed bra strap. I don’t usually promote visible lingerie, but sometimes when you’re walking to the farmer’s market on a hot July day, you wear a breezy hot pink cotton voile camisole with denim shorts, and a berry bra strap, aviators, and a straw hat just seems to work.

What I Own: Josie Etoile Underwire and Wacoal Embrace Lace Tee Shirt Bra

And that’s it. Six bras, and I must admit some of them seem to collect dust from time to time. I replace the nude bras every 6-8 months because they get grody, the others every year or when they start to get misshapen, lose elasticity, or my size changes.

Bra Tips:

  • Be gentle with your bras. Hand wash if possible. If you’re like me you’d end up with crusty stinky bras before you have time for hand washing, so put in a lingerie bag and wash on the gentle cycle and hang them off a hanger on your bathroom shower curtain rod until they’re fully dry.
  • Don’t turn one cup inside-out to be able to fold your bra in half – let them lie flat in your drawer so one boob doesn’t get misshapen.
  • Your bra should be comfortable on the middle hook, then you can go to the tightest hook when it gets a bit stretched out and then when that’s stretched out it’s time to get a new bra.
  • Your straps should not be what is holding up your bra. If your back strap is up over your shoulder blades or you have mega dents in your shoulders from your bra, you need a different size.
  • Quad boob is not sexy. If your breasts are being dented by the top of your bra cup, you’re wearing the wrong size or the wrong style.
  • Not every woman can wear a demi or balconette, not every woman can wear a molded cup, not everyone looks best in unlined. Just because your best friend’s boobs look great in a certain bra doesn’t mean yours will. Your breasts are like you – unique and wonderful and deserving of custom style.
  • Quality, not quantity. You don’t need 50 bras, honestly you only need two… maybe a few more if you do sports or wear strapless dresses. Buy quality, get professionally fitted, care for them and enjoy better fitting clothes, people saying you’ve lost weight, and less back and shoulder pain!

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A Proper Bra Fitting – My Experience

I believe a woman should be fitted for a bra every year. Our bodies are constantly changing with age, weight loss and gain, changes to our exercise routine, childbirth and nursing and so much more. Getting properly fitted for a bra does not mean heading to your local Victoria’s Secret to have a teenager who works 4 hours a week try to figure out your size and get you to buy a bra at that store, even if your size isn’t in stock. Getting properly fitted doesn’t mean trying to measure yourself at home and cross your fingers that your online purchase fits.

What it means is going to an expert who can measure you, and then offer you a few styles and brands to try so you can find not only your band and cup size, but the specific type of bra that gives you the best shape, support, and style.

I have been putting off being fitted for far too long; the last time I was fitted was a little over a year before I got pregnant. Since then, I lost weight, carried a child, nursed it for over two years, gained weight, and lost it again. My breasts were sitting like deflated water balloons in my molded-cup bras, they were obviously the wrong size and on top of that, stretched out and in need of replacement.

My community parenting group scheduled a bra-fitting party at A La Mode in Annapolis, Maryland and I jumped at the chance to go. I had been meaning to be fitted but kept putting it off… too busy, not enough money, too lazy. The event was yesterday and it was amazing.

A La Mode Intimates in Annapolis 
Click for a larger version (and to see my mom being rung up at the counter!)

I had heard of A La Mode before, but never visited. They have a new location at the Annapolis Towne Center and it is gorgeous. Bright and airy, yet romantic. The sales area is broken into little rooms which made shopping more fun, and you felt less on display when fingering a lovely charmeuse camisole or reading about nursing bras. Through curtains is their lounge. They set up a lovely little spread for us of brie with crackers and grapes, wine and ice water. They had a couple chairs, a couch and coffee table that were surrounded by gigantic fitting rooms with large mirrors and flattering lighting.

Rebecca assisted me; she whipped out her tape measure and in about three seconds flat had measured me over my shirt. From that she brought me a bra to try. I didn’t look at the brand, I didn’t look at the size, I just tried it on. And I was amazed. My breasts looked smaller, firmer, younger. I had a waistline! Then I looked at the tag…

When I was last fitted, they said I was a 38D. When I got pregnant, my breasts grew and I made the decision to go to 38DD. After Emerson was born, I seemed to be at 38DD and stuck with the same bras. As I have lost weight and stopped nursing, my breasts shrunk. I bought a 38D but kept falling out of the top, and it irritated me under my arms. I went back to my 38DD bras which looked crazy, but at least were reliable.

This bra was a 36F
F as in Frank
F?!?! 

How could that be? I have these deflated, smaller breasts! An F?? But this bra was a perfect fit, it almost felt as though I wasn’t wearing a bra, it was so comfortable. Rebecca informed me that different countries have different bra sizing methods. The US goes from D to DD and then skips E for F, but Europe skips DD and goes straight to E. In the UK they use both single and double letters. This means that a bra from Wacoal, a bra from Elomi, and a bra from Chantelle may fit the same but have different cup letters on the label.

Rebecca checked the bra on me, informed me that the straps shouldn’t really be doing the support (which I do, tightening my straps in an attempt to lift), the bra itself will do the work. She showed me how the band should sit low on my back, not up near my shoulder blades – this prevents your skin from pouring over the bra, and also helps with support. She asked me my bra needs (something that is invisible under thin knits, something that won’t show when I wear a scoop neck, and something that gives me a great shape) and came back with a couple more bras to try. I am a fan of the molded cup and she brought me some of those, as well as a couple other types I may not have considered. I got plenty of time to try on by myself, I didn’t feel as though a salesperson was breathing down my neck, yet if I just said, “Rebecca?” she was right there to bring a different size or color.

 Me in my original bra

 
Me in the bra I purchased

I had two bras that I loved, but unfortunately they didn’t have either in a skin color.

The Winners:
Fantasie Moulded Smoothing T-shirt Bra. Very basic, but gives amazing shape. No lace, no frills, no nothing so it’s invisible under knits. Incredibly comfortable, with incredible lift. I fit a 36DD.

Fantasie Ava. Another simple t-shirt bra, but with a bit of lace detail and pretty straps. Again, I fit best in a 36DD.

I don’t need two black bras right now, so I chose the one with the thinner, less-decorative straps (makes more sense for summer with sleeveless tops). A La Mode will let me know when the bras are back in stock in skin colors.

I went to be rung up… and remembered I needed a strapless bra. Since Rebecca had helped me try on a good dozen different bras, it was easy for her to guess which styles and brands would work best for me. She handed me a skin-colored strapless and I tried it on. Did you know that there are strapless bras out there that are comfortable? I put on my shirt and came out into the lounge to show the other women in my group. “THIS IS A STRAPLESS BRA!” I exclaimed, and they all ooohed and aaahed because really my bust looked almost as good in this strapless as the Fantasie bras above. On top of that, this strapless has straps that can be attached, so you can make it a one-shoulder, criss-cross back, halter or standard bra.

I tried on another strapless, but it didn’t compare to this one in regard to fit and comfort.

THIS is a strapless bra!

The Winner:
Simone Perele Velia Strapless Plunge in Praline. I wanted a strapless that wouldn’t peek out of a sweetheart or surplice neckline and this one did the trick. I tried it last night with my new Gap maxi dress I was going to return because it can’t be worn with any bras I own. Now the dress looks adorable and I am still uber comfortable!

Now this strapless is more than I have EVER paid for a bra… but to have a strapless that is invisible under thin knits, hides under plunging necklines and is so comfortable that I am wearing it all day today as a standard bra… sounds like a worthy investment to me! Also with researching online, I found that A La Mode’s prices are competitive with what I found at department stores and online boutiques (I paid the same price for this bra as it is listed on the Simone Perele site Bare Necessities, Neiman Marcus, and HerRoom).

The benefit of going to a bra boutique or lingerie department of a higher-end department store is you will find an educated bra specialist, and a large variety of brands and sizes. When you visit your nearby Victoria’s Secret, all you have to choose from is Vickie’s bras. Your breasts are just like every other part of your body – unique. What may be Holy Grail jeans to one woman may be terribly unflattering on you; the same holds true with bras.

Bras aren’t cheap. As Rebecca said yesterday at the bra fitting, “You get what you pay for.” Before Bonnaroo, I was desperate for a bra and went to Target and got one from their Gillian and O’Malley line. It itches, it makes my breasts look a bit square in shape, and come the end of the day I can’t WAIT to get it off. I have purchased bras at Frederick’s of Hollywood that lifted my breasts practically to my neck, but I found them horribly uncomfortable after a couple hours, and they would fall apart after a few months (even with proper laundry care). A bra that properly fits, supports, and is comfortable will completely change your figure, your posture, the way your clothes fit. This morning, I wanted to wear a light-colored top and put on my old nude bra. It was… fine. I then tried the new strapless and I looked as though I had lost ten pounds and was five years younger. Seriously, this is the difference between and okay bra and a great bra.

So what are you waiting for? Get yourself fitted, and get yourself some quality bras. You won’t regret it!

Note: I was not compensated in any way for this post; A La Mode did not contact me or know I was going to write this post.

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My Experience with the Backless Bra by Maidenform

As you know, I mentioned the Maidenform Breakthrough Backless Bra a couple of posts ago. I received a press release from Maidenform and was excited to try this. As a woman with large breasts, many fashions are impossible for me to wear because my bra would be showing. The concept of a backless bra geared toward busty gals seemed to be too good to be true.

It is.

The bra arrived this weekend. It is a molded cup bra and as soon as I saw the wide yet shallow cups, I had a feeling it wouldn’t work for my breasts. Molded cups don’t work for all shapes of large breasts, especially if those breasts are natural and have some age; many molded-cup bras are made to cover, but not support and lift. Second concern was the straps – all elastic, and very narrow. Now narrow straps are great for sleeveless and tank styles of tops, but those of us with large busts know they usually don’t provide enough support. Being of all elastic also means they will usually provide less support and quickly stretch out.

The bra looks like a classic bra in front, but the straps attach under the arms where the bottom/side of the cups are located, instead of on a back band. No rubber or adhesive to keep the bra in place, no weird gizmos, just a little bit of useless silicone on the underwide portion. The bra goes on like a backwards vest, over each arm.

On me, the bra sat away from my body because of the size of my bust. When I tried to lift and place my breasts in each cup, they just slid down so they were hanging below the underwires. I moved my arm to readjust the cups and the strap slid down my arm. Went to slide up the strap and my breast fell out of the cup. I bent over and the entire bra pulled away from my body. Stood up and I now had breasts under the bra, and straps hanging down my arms. Oh gosh, imagine if I actually left my bedroom in this contraption! I suppose this backless bra would work if you were very very thin with sharp protruding shoulders and shoulder blades and had very very small breasts. Anyone else… don’t even waste your time or money.

This morning I received an email from Maidenform asking me to complete a survey regarding my experience with the bra and I was very honest and very detailed with my response. I hope everyone that tried this bra does the same.

My Favorite Simple Style Tips

Over the years I have learned a few things from trial and error, many from fellow bloggers, and a heck of a lot from you readers. A few style-based lessons I have learned that have improved my life that I thought may also help you:

Apply Dry Shampoo Before Bedtime. Colored dry shampoo can drip and gets on my hands if I forget and scratch my head and “invisible” dry shampoo makes my brown hair look ashy. One of you readers suggested I try applying dry shampoo before bedtime and let it work its way into my roots while I sleep. Brilliant! I prefer Klorane Dry Shampoo because it has a soft mist and subtle smell, but this also works with cheaper brands like Salon Grafix and Suave. I apply, I don’t really rub in so I go to bed looking as though I have gray roots. However when I wake… awesomeness. Enough time for it to really work in, not leave an ashy look, it’s not as sticky/dry feeling and gives that dry/full look I desire.

Buy Leather a Size Too Small. Leather stretches. Even lined leather stretches. My lined pleated leather skirt I almost returned because I bought a 10 and it was skin tight and I couldn’t fully zip it. So a couple days after work, I came home and changed into it. Made dinner, watched TV, and stretched it out enough to zip. Three nights and the skirt was ready to wear to work. Since then, the skirt has grown even more to where it sort of sits on my hips. Same holds true for leather pants – all my size 10 leather pants (that I shall wear again!) are actually 6 and 8 because they stretch and I broke them in with this method.

Buy Boots a Half Size Too Big. A little more room in the boot means you can wear thick cozy socks without an issue. Come winter, I often wear a pair of knee-high socks and then a pair of thick snuggly anklets over them so I have warm tootsies; the extra space gives my feet plenty of room to wiggle with all the layers.

When Line Drying Pants, Hang Upside Down. Fold the legs seam to seam and hang them in this manner, use those hangers with clips, and the waistband won’t stretch out and you end up with a nice clean crease down each leg.

Store Costume Jewelry in Plastic Bags. Fake gold and silver tarnish easily, and don’t shine back up like the real thing. If you store in Ziploc baggies (or save the plastic bags from purchases and shipments) you can see what you have and also make it look nicer longer. This especially holds true for rhinestones, which can dull over time. So you don’t have a pin-worthy jewelry collection, but at least your collection will last more than one season!

Polish Silver Jewelry with Toothpaste. Works so well, gets the job done fast, and you don’t have to dig around under your kitchen sink for the solution or in your junk drawer for the polishing cloth. Paste, not gel. Rub with your fingers, rinse off, dry with a towel or soft cloth.

Get Out Any Stain with Peroxide and Dawn. Here’s the recipe, and yes, it works like a charm on most any fabric, stains old and new.

Wash Your Makeup Brushes Regularly. When is the last time you washed your makeup brushes? I wash mine once a month with baby shampoo, swirl them on the bottom of the sink to get out the suds, and let dry on their side with the brushes hanging over the edge of the counter or back of toilet so they get good air flow. Try to not get the metal part of the brush (where the bristles are attached) wet, but wash regularly for better pigment, more even application, and fewer breakouts.

Coconut Oil is Awesome. I get allergic reactions to metal from time to time, usually on the back of my neck or on my fingers. This especially happens on my hands, and I’ll end up with raw, red, flaky and burning skin. I have tried cortisone, prescription creams, and the only thing that has really worked is coconut oil. Take off my wedding bands, apply some coconut oil, go to bed and wake up with happy skin. I also use it on my hands and elbows as an intense moisturizer, as well as a hair conditioning treatment. My friend also told me it cleared up her Keratosis Pilaris (those little bumps on the back of upper arms). We use coconut oil in place of butter and most oils at home, so it’s easy to stop in the kitchen and scoop some out for beauty use. Google or Pinterest search coconut oil and you will be amazed by all its health, beauty, pet and home benefits!

Don’t Fold Your Bras. It’s so tempting to fold your bras, especially if they have molded cups, but this stretches them out and changes their shape. Lay them flat in your drawer and they will maintain their shape longer and be less likely to have the wires poke out of the fabric.

Stitch Witchery. It’s the bomb. Tear off a strip, stick it in a fallen hem, can even make it work with your hair iron. Good stuff.

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Ask Allie: Interview Outfit Advice

I am interviewing for my medical residency postgraduate training position and had a fashion query. I got these really flattering black pants from Ann Taylor but wasn’t really comfortable with the short length of the blazer for they didn’t cover my bum; would a boyfriend blazer work or would it be too casual?

A true “boyfriend” blazer is oversized. The name comes from some outdated idea that women are smaller than their obviously male partners and if we put on their clothes, we’d find them oversized and slouchy. A “boyfriend” blazer often has rolled sleeves, shoulder pads, and a squarer shape, along with being longer (often hitting low hips to below the rear). A true “boyfriend” blazer wouldn’t be the best choice for your interview as it would be too casual.

However, you provided a link to two blazers that while they are called “boyfriend” by the company, they actually are not. These jackets are tailored with seaming to nip in at the waist, proper buttons, and look to hit mid-hip. If in a more refined fabric (classic suiting, gabardine, wool, triacetate, etc.) such a style would be quite appropriate for your interview.

Since the piece comes from a different retailer, instead of trying to have both in the same color, consider purposeful contrast. This way it won’t look mismatched. Since your trousers are black, consider a jacket in taupe, tweed, dark plum, even ivory or cream. If you choose a lighter color jacket, be sure it is well-fitting and consider a dark-colored or black blouse underneath to make the look more professional and cohesive.

I just bought a great black pantsuit but have no idea what to wear underneath. What looks more sophisticated for an interview, a button-front shirt, a silky tee, or a knit shell? Do I have to tuck it in?

All three are great choices, dependent on the actual piece, your body, and the interview. Button-front shirts can give a crisp, professional look if you have the figure. I don’t recommend them for interviews if you are busty or have a soft belly as they can be unflattering and gape when you sit. However if you have the personality or figure for such a shirt, it’s a classic choice; I recommend tucking it in for a professional look.

Silk tees, blouses, and knit shells are all great choices for interviews. This doesn’t mean a refined tee shirt, an old sleeveless sweater with fuzz balls on it, or a red satin blouse. Something that is in crisp, pristine condition, a professional silhouette (no cleavage or skin tight), and a flattering color.

Speaking of color… color is a GOOD thing! What you wear under your suit is a good way to show your personality. Be it a frilly ivory blouse, a pink cashmere tee, crisp gray button-front, or a dark red silk knit tank, it’s a simple way to add some of you to your interview look.


My boyfriend bought me [statement necklace from J. Crew] and I love it. Can I wear it with a gray pantsuit and pink shell for a job interview?

I suggest you don’t. While the necklace is gorgeous and on trend… it’s a bit too trendy for an interview. While I do encourage you to wear jewelry and add a bit of yourself to your interview outfit, a necklace that makes such a bold statement may speak louder than you and your resume. Who you are and what you can offer to the company is the priority during an interview; you don’t want to look as though you care more about what you wear than what you say. Consider a smaller, or less flamboyant necklace to add a bit of interest, but not take the spotlight.

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Legit Music Festival Fashion Advice

Oh April, the time of year where every fashion blog and website claims to be an expert on what to wear and take to a music festival yet fails miserably. As soon as I see a romper or designer picnic blanket recommended I know that author has never attended a music festival, nor likely an outdoor concert.

Now I don’t claim to be some sort of expert and hey, you may be double-jointed and find wearing a romper and peeing in a steaming hot porta-potty easy, but here’s my tips for attending a music festival:

1. Read the FAQ. Before you start packing, see what you’re allowed to pack and what the festival organizers suggest. Many do not allow umbrellas, even the small travel type. Quite a few do not allow detachable lens cameras, glo-sticks, or chairs of any height . The festival planners will be able to let you know if there’s access to drinking water, shade, lockers, charging stations, and more.

2. Expect a lot of Sun. Even if the festival is in a grove of trees, expect to be doused with a ton of sun. Bring a floppy hat, large sunglasses, a bandanna you can dip in water to cool off or tie around your neck to protect it, wear sunscreen and bring more. I like the spray sunscreen because it doesn’t have to be rubbed in and you can spray as you walk to the next stage performance. The higher the better – I can wear SPF 50 for an entire festie weekend and still go home with a tan. Seriously, nothing ruins a festival experience faster than a raging sunburn.

The sun not only can exhaust you, but it can also quickly exhaust your electronics. Keep your phone out of the sun and bring a charger for a long hot festie day will sap your battery. Don’t expect to find an outlet; plan ahead with a pre-charged battery backup or bring a solar charger. Do note that many festivals have poor cell reception, so have a Plan B if your original idea for organizing with friends involve texts.

3. Prepare to Walk. You can easily walk a half mile from your campsite to see a performance, and walk five miles in just a couple hours around the festival grounds. Not only that, the ground will be bumpy, can have sharp grass or rocks, very well will be muddy or dusty. Wear shoes that are comfortable for long spans of time. I wear old boots with new insoles, but a pair of desert boots, sneakers with arch support, athletic sandals or a canvas slip-on with a good insole will also do well. Bring a second pair of shoes in case your first pair gets wet or ruined, and bring socks (you may find them dorky looking but may be glad to have them Day 2 after Day 1 gave you blisters or sunburn).

4. Pack to Dance. And to walk, and drink beer or water, to chat, to eat an arepa while racing across the grounds to catch up with your friends, to use a porta potty. Use a bag that can handle all that without cramping your style. Fanny packs are back and great for day fests or places that don’t need a lot of equipment to be comfortable for long spans of time. For longer festivals far from camp, consider a small backpack or a crossbody that doesn’t dig into your shoulders when completely full.

5. Leave Designer at Home. A stranger may accidently step on your Karen Walker sunnies and your Design Within Reach throw blanket may get lost in a muddy mosh pit. A festival is a place where people dance and mosh and run and do it all while on little sleep and often lots of alcohol or drugs. Protect your much-loved items and leave them home; a festival is a perfect place for a chic DIY tie-dye bedsheet and truck stop sunglasses.

6. Stay Hydrated. Bring a water container – be it a Camelbak backpack with bladder or a reusable bottle, make sure whatever you have can hold at LEAST 22 ounces and you refill it often. Dehydration can happen quickly when you’re in the sun, heat, drinking, and dancing. Protect yourself, and keep the fun times going with regular water replenishment.

7. Prepare for Porta Potties. No rompers, no overalls, no jumpsuits unless you don’t mind stripping naked in a hot overflowing porta potty with a broken lock. Sundresses are awesome; slip a pair of bike shorts underneath to prevent chafing and to provide modesty when sitting on the ground. I like looser beat up denim shorts that look better with the dirt of the day and don’t stick to sweaty skin.

Along with that, tuck some toilet paper and maybe some Clorox wipes in your bag so if you encounter a grody or unstocked porta potty, you’re set.  I put a little of each in Ziploc baggies; if my friend is holding my bag while I go in, I just grab a bit of each and tuck in my bra strap so my hands are free.

8. Have fun! The fashion mags and sites will lead you to believe that a visit to Coachella or Bonnaroo is the sartorial moment of the year. Yes, some may treat it as such, but the rest of us dress to enjoy the real purpose of the festival – the music. Go ahead and wear fun jewelry or a boho-inspired tunic or a cut up band tee shirt, but dress in a way that doesn’t require you to check your reflection every hour, lets you run and dance and lie in the grass and sit in the dirt. I promise you, the majority of the people at the festival won’t care what you’re wearing, they’ll care more about how you’re feeling and enjoying the event!

For more about music festivals, feel free to visit my previous posts:

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Ask Allie: Winter Hosiery Advice

Winter is here for the foreseeable future. For years now, I have forced myself to wear dress pants to work in the winter months. I have cute dresses that sit in my closet and I tell myself that maybe this week will be the time I wear them! But alas, they sit in my closet unworn. So here is where I need your help.

I am a size 12/14. What tights can I buy that will fit correctly, be comfortable and stay up throughout the day? What color tights are appropriate for what color schemes? When is it appropriate to wear navy, or brown over black or even gray. What about sheer tights?  Thanks for helping me face my fears!

Funny how tights have been around for so long and are such a necessity, yet are so complicated, uncomfortable, and downright overwhelming for many! I’ll admit, I shop winter dresses and skirts thinking about tights – will the garment go with tights? Will I need to purchase a new style or color for them? As I am the same size as you and have in the past been just as overwhelmed by hosiery options, here’s some tips I use?


My Favorite Brands of Tights:
I have become extremely picky with my tights purchases. I have found that if I purchase quality when on sale, the price isn’t too terrible and the tights will last more than one season. I don’t like tights that cut me in half, have such intense control tops that I get gas pains by lunch, or stretch out so much I have baggy ankles. My favorites:

  • Spanx Super durable, super opaque, and keep their shape. They have so many variations, I find the more Spanx-y types (high waisted, split gusset, lots of control) are more worth the money as they are made of better materials and keep their shape longer. While they are control garments, they are relatively comfortable. Their “regular” tights I find to not be as good – they cut me in half and stretch out.
  • DKNY – I have MAJOR love for DKNY hosiery. Their super opaque tights are exactly that – completely opaque, but not shiny or textured or weird. They don’t cut my body in half, they hold their shape and don’t fall down, and have even survived accidentally being washed and dried with a load of jeans. Not only that, DKNY has petite plus sizing, which is utterly fantastic.
  • Nordstrom – These are standard-issue opaque tights – not super opaque but not stockings/sheer. While they are considered control top, they don’t really do much for that but the control top does keep the tights from falling down. I don’t have issue with them cutting me in half, and if you hand wash or gentle cycle in a lingerie bag and drip dry, they will last at least one season, sometimes two. I don’t know if this year the quality is as good as previous years as I have had my tights run a bit more this winter, but that just may be my clumsy self.

What Color Tights?
In my lingerie drawer, I have four pairs of black (two regular, one super opaque, one with control top), one pair of brown, and one pair of gray. I really stick to neutrals because I find colored tights to not fit my personal style nor flatter my curvy yet petite legs. To elongate my legs, I usually match my hosiery to my shoes, this also helps with figuring out what color tights to pair with a dress or skirt.

  • Black is a safe bet – for many seasons, designers have been showing opaque black tights with everything from frothy white frocks to neon leather pencil skirts. A relatively opaque leg with black shoes is a neutral and a good base for most prints and fabrics. Black however can be harsh and may be too overpowering for delicate prints, pastels, and soft neutrals.
  • Brown is a good alternative for those who find black too strong or wear primarily neutral or softer tones. Brown is also easy to find at retailers, though you want to look for a color that is the right amount of cool or warm to complement your wardrobe as well as your footwear (see here).
  • Gray is also a great alternative for those who find black too harsh and is regularly found at mass retailers. Gray is a subtle way to break up a primarily black ensemble (see here), and I have found it to be a color that is flattering to most figures. I love gray with pastels, deep jewel tones, as well as other neutrals.
  • Navy has always been a color I love but find difficult. However, these days navy has become quite chic when paired with black. Navy tights can be a great alternative to gray, adding interest to an all black or neutral ensemble. Navy is also great for vintage lovers since many prints from previous decades incorporate navy. However, navy isn’t really a neutral for hosiery unless you have a lot of navy in your wardrobe. You will rarely find shoes to match, and like brown it comes in so many shades veering from dark bright blue to almost black.
  • Fun colors… are fun. Some people can really carry them off, as seen in this post I did about blogger fashion trends. However, I find you need to be extremely comfortable with your personal style and hosiery to wear them well. As that you’re a tights newbie, you may want to stick to neutral shades until you get the hang of it.
  • Patterned hosiery I put in the same category as color – you need to be comfortable with both hosiery and your personal style to properly style them. I have worn patterned hosiery a totally of ONE time on this blog because I just don’t feel as though they look right on me, though I see women rock them on a regular basis and look phenomenal. As with any fashion, if you feel awkward in something, I don’t recommend wearing it. Confidence is the best accessory!

Hosiery Denier
Denier is a term used to measure the opacity or thickness of hosiery. The higher the number, the thicker or more opaque. Sheer stockings are usually around 10 – 15 denier, while opaque tights are around 40 denier or more.

  • Sheer Hosiery/Stockings went out of vogue for quite a while, but thanks to runway shows featuring sheer black legs and the Duchess of Cambridge wearing them with her classic personal style, such hosiery has again become acceptable.
  • Black stockings can look a bit too sultry for day if worn incorrectly – it’s important to note shoe and skirt height and style – a more conservative hemline and heel will balance the hose. 
  • Skin-colored stockings, it’s important to wear something as close to your skin as possible – even if you are pale, it’s better than artificially-colored legs that resemble ice skaters. Luckily companies like Frangi Pangi exist that offer a multitude of shades to better fit the many different colors of us women. As for any other color of sheer, I leave those to the True Fashionistas who are able to take the unusual and make it look natural and fabulous!

How to Stay Warm?
There are fleece-lined tights, but I’ll admit I have never found any that fit my petite curvy frame properly. I know of many a woman who doubles up her tights to stay warm through the winter (not only do you have better wind protection but more opacity!). A long commuter coat, tall boots, boot socks, and even legwarmers can do much to keep you comfortable when heading to the office. But now I ask you readers who live in far colder climates than me, what do you do to stay warm, comfortable, and stylish when wearing skirts and tights in winter?

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Ask Allie: Holiday Gift Advice

Dear Allie, I was wondering if you could help me, my best friend is really fashionable and I have no clue what to get her as a present. I was thinking you may be able to help me and suggest some gifts that fashionable women would like thank you.

I must admit it’s hard to buy someone a  “fashionable” gift. What is considered fashionable to one may be seen as tacky or against their personal style to another. We fashionistas are usually pretty self-sufficient folk and buy that which we desire or need to complete our personal style.  However, it’s sweet to buy a gift that shows you listen to and know your loved one.

I find luxury or pampering gifts to be good choices for fashionistas -a pair of leather gloves in a signature color, a fancy candle, a pashmina or scarf.  Also accessories are great that don’t have to be part of an ensemble – makeup bags and glasses cases in unique textiles or prints, monogrammed or personalized pieces, a winter scarf or earmuffs.  Fashion books are always a great choice, as are pieces from designer collections for non-fashion brands (Rodarte for Starbucks, Target + Neiman Marcus Holiday Collection, etc.).  I also recommend checking out the gift guides on other blogs – while I don’t do gift guides, most other fashion bloggers do and have their finger on the pulse of small, unique, and fashionable gifts.

Essentially, you want to get something that shows you know your friend and respect her passion, but doesn’t force her to sacrifice her style to wear it.  Think in terms of accents instead of the main dish, and you can’t really go wrong. 

My new husband has five nieces and nephews ranging in age from 2 – 8, any suggestions on a good Christmas gift for them? I’m at a loss and haven’t met most of them.

Books. You can’t go wrong with books. While a gift of books won’t give you the title of Coolest Aunt on the Planet, it will be used, enjoyed, and won’t get you dirty looks from their parents. As a parent, I am thrilled for any gift that doesn’t make noise, isn’t plastic, and doesn’t eat batteries. And as a parent, I know how quickly Emerson goes through books and a fresh story is always welcome.  A great thing about gifts for little kids is that even if it’s a duplicate it will be welcomed – kids up to five can trash books, and I know I love having second copies of Emerson’s favorites in the car or my mom’s house.  As for finding appropriate books for the age group, ask your local bookstore staff, or check out the Listmania on Amazon.

Joel D. Smith, my friend since college and now a newscaster in Baltimore recently wrote a children’s book called Santa’s Secret Deal, and it’s a great gift for kids. Joel’s book is about AnTas, an elf who gets upset over kids throwing their toys around and not respecting them. The story is engaging enough that Emerson made me read it to her for over seven nights in a row, with adorable cartoons and rhymes that stick with you. Not only that, there’s a pact at the end that one can do with the book recipient, making it personal and interactive. This book would be great for kids ages four and up. Santa’s Secret Deal is available on the book’s website (allow at least a week for delivery), many national and Baltimore book stores; the eBook version is available via Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

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Ask Allie: Weight Watchers Advice

Hi Alison-
I decided to (return) to Weight Watchers. While you are doing fabulously on it (YAY YOU!!!), I am not…(BOO ME!!!). I think I am following the plan but nothing is happening. Would you consider sharing some of your habits-maybe even a couple of menu samples-like what you eat in a couple of days? It would be a huge help to me…and probably others.
Warm regards,
Keri

Hi Keri:
I loved your email because I have totally been there. Not sure if I have mentioned this before, but this is my fourth time doing Weight Watchers. Once in high school, once right after college, once about a decade ago and then now. Being with Weight Watchers so often and for so long has taught me some major tips for more success:

1. Drink Water. I know Diet Coke and coffee are 0 PointsPlus but they do affect how your body removes weight on the plan. While I too consume diet sodas, tea, and water, I try to limit it to one (max two on bad days) cups a day, and take a day off once a week where I drink just plain water.

Not only do I drink water, but I drink a LOT of it. Above is a picture of my work water bottle, recently emptied by moi. It holds 32 ounces and I won’t go home until I have filled and consumed this twice. I find the bite valve on Camelbak bottles helps me drink faster, and benefits the klutz in me from destroying a stack of important work papers. I have another two of these bottles at home, I fill another and consume it during dinner, and fill it again to be beside my bed and I consume half before I go to bed, half once I wake.

I remember Oprah once complaining about having to pee so much when drinking the recommended amount of water, and it’s true… for the first week or so. Then the body seems to get used to it and you don’t have to go to the bathroom quite as often. But drinking this much water and mainly water helps me remove – the weeks where I slack on drinking are the weeks I don’t lose.

2. Track EVERYTHING. I don’t use the paper trackers, I use eTools. I leave a tab with it open all day at work, and I track everything from the spoonful of my daughter’s macaroni and cheese to the Hershey’s Kiss I pilfered from my boss’ candy bowl. If in doubt, I average up with PointsPlus. On weekends, I will note what I ate in my little purse notebook and once at a computer, will log into eTools and jot it down.

3. Don’t Use Your Weekly/Activity Points. I learned this from a Lifetimer at my meeting – she said the weeks where she used those points she wouldn’t lose or even gain. While some weeks I go over my daily allotment (hello date nights and holidays!), usually I pretend that all I have are my daily PointsPlus. If I exercise, that’s just icing on the cake, not an excuse to indulge. If I plan in advance, I will exercise to justify going over, but never use the weekly points allotment.

4. Eat a PointsPlus Breakfast. When I start my day with a banana and a cup of coffee, I am pilfering my boss’ candy dish by 10am. If I eat a smart, slow-burning breakfast I am sated until lunch and have fewer cravings come that time. My two go-to breakfasts are a low-carb tortilla wrap of Egg Beaters, a shmear of Laughing Cow and some fresh spinach, or else a serving of instant oatmeal with a tablespoon of cheese (or a Laughing Cow wedge) and a side of some fruit.

5. Have Meal Staples. I can easily go an entire week having oatmeal for breakfast, Subway 6” turkey with mustard and a bag of Light Lays for lunch, a small can of pineapple for snack, and then whatever my husband made for dinner. It’s not exciting, but I know the PointsPlus in my head, the food tastes good and I am satisfied. When I try to get too creative and I am stressed and short on time I end up eating crap.

6. Get the Family on Board. It’s hard to stick to the plan when your husband wants ribs, your kids want chicken fingers, your besties want an order of mozzarella sticks with their margaritas and your coworkers decide to go to lunch at McDonald’s. Let people know you’re on Weight Watchers, and say if they love you, they will support you.

My Weight Watchers leader regularly says there is no reason why they whole family can’t be on the plan, even if they aren’t dieting and it’s so true. If you love yourself enough to choose healthy food, why are you killing your loved ones with crap?

7. Get Sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep you are more likely to binge, your body doesn’t metabolize things properly, and you get wicked cravings. Do as I say, not as I do because lately I have NOT been getting enough sleep and I can tell not just by yawning and having haggard skin, but having more trouble with dropping weight.

***

As for what I eat, as I mentioned I have two stock breakfasts. I usually drink my coffee on my commute, which I “decorate” with a tablespoon of real cream and one Splenda, though I am slowly weaning myself to black coffee.

The people at Subway near my office know me very well. At Subway I eat the bread I like (they are all pretty much the same PointsPlus value), I get turkey because it’s so low in PointsPlus and I enjoy it, I get mustard, vinegar and almost every single vegetable available. Sometimes I will indulge in a small bit of light mayo, or even will get cheese, but I have learned to adore the sandwich as-is. I also get the Lays Light chips, which is 2 PointsPlus and I usually stick a couple inside the sandwich. When I bring my lunch, it is either leftovers, or else a Lean Cuisine. I usually have a few frozen meals stuck in the work fridge in case I get stuck at work, forget my leftovers, etc.

For dinner, my husband usually is in charge. Once a week we get Chinese, and I get hot and sour soup and steamed rice. My husband finds it disgusting, but I don’t eat the fried noodles, but instead stick the rice in the soup and eat it like a sloppy entrée. My husband and I will share a serving of steamed vegetarian dumplings. This is 14 PointsPlus if I eat it all, but I usually have half the soup mixture left over for lunch the next day. On other days, it’s a real variety, but we eat a LOT of vegetables. The other night, my husband made Shredded Buffalo Crockpot Chicken , which I ate on a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce, with a side of baby carrots, celery sticks, and pepper slices, and I put 2 tablespoons of fat-free ranch dressing on top. My husband ate his on top of rice with a beer and far more dressing, but we were able to eat together and chat about how delicious the chicken turned out and mine was only 13 PointsPlus.

We use the crock pot a lot, and don’t usually eat Weight Watchers recipes, but instead look for low PointsPlus value normal recipes (or lower PointsPlus versions). Lots of seafood, since we love it and it is usually lower PointsPlus value. The fridge always has apples, baby carrots, some sort of leafy green, and crunchy veggies like celery and peppers. I also do a lot with dips – salsa with a bit of fat free sour cream with crudités, ranch dressing on salads or over chicken, we always have several types of vinegars in stock, as well as a variety of hot and Asian sauces. And again the water – making myself consume 22-32 ounces while eating dinner forces me to slow down and I often end up not eating the whole serving on my plate.

I do feel goofy giving advice since I have been so slow with weight removal, and I don’t always follow that which I preach. However when I do everything that is posted above, I do lose, and lose consistently. I hope you find this helpful, and best wished on your journey!

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Wednesday, Thursday, and Lingerie Advice Sought!

A view of DC streets this morning – glad I take public transportation!

I know I have been a slacker the past two days regarding photos. Yesterday was my Lands End sailor shirt with my Gap denim trousers, my brown croco sandals from Sofft, and a turquoise necklace from Tarjay. Not bad, but nothing awesome.

Today was actually photo-worthy, but the morning was utter insanity. If you live in the DC area, you probably experienced the insane rainstorm – Metro stations flooded, trees went down, rain was coming sideways. The sky was as dark as night. I am wearing my black Jones New York tee shirt dress, my Duo boots (perfect for such weather since the only Wellies I find decent are Hunter and they don’t fit over my calves). I put my really big H&M scarf on, my silver cuff and a long silver chain. I was letting my hair air dry, but then the storm came in and I had to go get the dogs from outside and never fully got my hair or makeup done before it was time to head out. Hair is a bit… rained on and makeup is mascara and lip gloss from my purse. Think I need to carry a bit more in my cosmetic bag from now on…

Anyway, I wanted to ask you readers about lingerie. As my body has been slimming down and I am nursing Emerson less, I am seeing a major need for new lingerie. We’re talking the whole shebang – undies, bras, control garments.

I would be horrified if anyone had a peek into my current lingerie drawer. I have three nursing bras from Anita And all are well worn and sad), three of my beloved Chantelle Senso bras – two nude, one black. All three have been repaired by me to stick back in a wayward underwire, and all three are a bit too large (they are lightly padded so if you poke it, it will now dent because I don’t fill it like I used to). I have two Spanx Higher Power – one nude, one black but they are looking very well worn. As for panties, I will admit I have a few pairs of Granny Panties (hi-cut cotton briefs), some lacy boyshorts from discount places like TJ Maxx and Marshalls, and two pairs of moisture-wicking black bike shorts that I wear under sundresses – they prevent chub rub and prevent VPL.

Anyway, I need a lingerie overhaul. Right now since my body is still transforming, I think I only want to invest in undies, maybe one control garment, and one bra. When I remove some more weight, I will invest in a bit more. But I was wondering what are your faves? What works well for large yet well nursed breasts, and a curvy figure with a very soft lower tummy? I figure it can help me narrow down the search. I know I will need to be re-fitted and plan to include that with my shopping trip. I thank you in advance and will be sure to report my findings!

Reader Advice Wanted: Great Jeans

A request from my friend Karin, who is petite, slim but with some lovely feminine curves. I haven’t had any luck with jeans lately, and was wondering if you fabulous women may have some suggestions:
If anyone has recommendations for (not skinny!) jeans that aren’t reminiscent of a plumber but at the same time are not mom jeans, let me know. Bonus points if such jeans (i) come in short or petite, and (ii) are less than $75.

I figured answers would be useful to other readers too, so why not post it on here? I thank you all in advance. :)

Ask Allie – Bra Tanks for Large Busts

Reader April came to me with a question I have been asked many times:

Just out of curiosity, have you ever found a shelf bra tank top for larger busted women? I like to wear them to bed, so I want something soft with a bit of support. But I can’t find tops with enough “shelf” to cover my larger bust and wide straps like a traditional tank. Is it hopeless?

No April, it’s not completely hopeless, though it is a really tough struggle to find that which is comfortable, attractive and actually does as it claims.

I had a hard time finding classic wide-strapped tanks with built-in bras. When I asked those in the lingerie “know,” I was told it is because wide straps do not support properly. A wider strap does not have the thickness or the proper structure/weight dispersion to offer large-bust shape support. Spaghetti straps, as with bra straps dig in when the bust is not properly supported. If there is no support, all weight is placed on the straps. If the tank, camisole or bra has proper support built in, a thinner strap will not be uncomfortable.

To assist all women who want to comfortably and elegantly (meaning not fall out of one) wear a tank or camisole with shelf bra, here are a few that readers or I have tried, or get great ratings for support, comfort and style:

Bravissimo Strappy Top With Built-In Bra: Bravissimo is an awesome company in the UK, made specifically for women with large busts. Not only do they have a great line of bras, but they carry clothing (including button-down shirts and dresses) made for women who may be large busted yet not plus sized.

This tank is a simple basic that could work around the house with yoga pants, with a little cotton skirt for a beachside barbecue, or even under a suit for work.

Bravissimo’s line is not cheap, but I have never heard anything but the most wonderful reviews for their quality and customer service.

Glamourmom’s Built-in Bra Glamourtank: Glamourmom has been known for a while for a company that sells stylish and well-fitting nursing tanks. Due to popular demand, they have now come out with a non-nursing tank with some of the great features from their classic tank.

The tank has a soft cup bra and an elastic shelf to provide more support and shape than a classic shelf bra, adjustable straps, and even mesh pockets if you desire more enhancement (hello chicken cutlets) or help (hello nursing pads or pads to cover “highbeams.”

Glamourmom is offering 10% off if you purchase two or more tops and they always have a money back guarantee.

Soft Surroundings’ Cotton Underwire Cami: Underwire can often be seen as painful, but reviewers have told me this tank is really comfortable while giving a decent amount of support, shape and coverage.

Adjustable straps mean you won’t be hanging to your belly button or pouring out of the neckline. The built-in underwire bra goes completely around the torso, offering good and even support and a smooth line.

As with regular bras, this garment should not be tossed in the wash and dryer with other casual knits. Best to wash in a lingerie bag on the gentle cycle or hand wash, and let air dry. This will help it keep its shape and elasticity.

All American Comfort ™ Bra Tank from Woman Within: Hailed as a great lounge tank by those with larger busts, this bra comes in fun colors, a broad range of sizes and is a really great price.

Some say quality is equal to it’s $14.99 price tag, but for a casual lounge tank, you usually will find the same quality at your local Big Box retailer.

The top is made for the larger busted woman, so it provides far more coverage than a classic bra tank. Many use it as a cami under lower-cut tops to provide cleavage coverage.

Valmont Lace Trim Bra Camisole from JMS: Pretty, supportive, colorful, great range of sizes. I have friends who own literally a dozen of these tanks and consider purchasing more because they are so comfortable and supportive.

The tank runs snug in the torso, so it’s most popular as a base layer, under a jacket, or for those with a true hourglass frame.

Ask Allie: Fashion Advice for a Petite SAHM

Dear Allie,
I am currently rocking the awful “mom” look aka yoga pants and huge t-shirts and I am so over it! Could you direct me to a few classic pieces to start my wardrobe? I am a stay at home mom with two under two, so I need a practical look. I live in Ohio where the weather is always changing. I am very petite (5’ and less than 100 lbs). I also have trouble finding comfortable shoes that look stylish and fit my size 5 feet. Any advice?
- Megan

Dear Megan,
I am so glad you realize that one can be an active mom while maintaining style. I recently wrote an article on Savings.com about new mom fashion, but will offer some basics that should get you on track without looking like a mom, or like a college student:

Dark Straight Jeans
A dark straight jean is classic, can be worn any season of the year, looks more polished than lighter washes, and doesn’t need a fancy label to look chic. Having a straight leg means this jean should work with most any length or style of top in your wardrobe – simple tanks and tees, longer tunics, blazers and cardigans, blouses tucked in or left untucked. Add a bit of spandex so that you won’t be showing your undergarments or cutting into your stomach when crawling on the floor after your little one.

The Lee Slender Secret 5-pocket Jean is a classic style that is great for women who may have a bit of that baby pooch still left. Oprah recently rated them as a top jean, and reviews state that these jeans in petite are not needing of hemming for those who are 5’ tall. $29.99



Levi’s 512 jean is a straight, classic style that is made for a woman’s shape. Their Perfectly Slimming 512 Jean has the Lycra to keep your body looking smooth, and giving you the flexibility you need to keep up with your children. Again, this jean is rated great for the really petite woman – they run short so you won’t have to spend an arm and a leg on alterations. $40.00

A Versatile Trench
When the weather is chilly one day, hot the next, and rainy the third it’s hard to be prepared. A simple trench or mac in a water-resistant fabric that is lined will keep you looking stylish yet comfortable on those in-between days.

The Sunshower Coat from Lands End is a favorite – it’s a classic style, breathable, and wrinkle-resistant. Lands End is known for their quality and service so you know you will get a great piece that will give you years of wear. Khaki is a safe bet, but a more memorable color like their Wine Grape will look great with neutrals, make your skin glow, and will give you a sunnier outlook on the day, even if the sky is cloudy. $99.50

Macy’s Style&Co brand offers great style for a reasonable price. This double-breasted trench has a shorter length that won’t dwarf your petite frame, and the soft sage color will look great with neutrals, but be a fresh change from beige and black outerwear. $79.00

Solid-colored Seasonally-appropriate Tops
Toss the oversized tees and stiff striped button-downs. It’s easy to be comfortable, get dressed in an instant yet look great if you have an arsenal of flattering, well-fitting knits in your size and colors you adore. Wash on the gentle cycle, line dry and these pieces can give you years of great wear. Look for pieces with 5% spandex or more – they will be more likely to keep their shape, not need to be ironed, and maintain their color longer than 100% cotton tops. For winter, I love merino wool because it acts like a knit in keeping its shape and flattering the figure, and can also be washed on the gentle cycle.

Ann Taylor LOFT is a fave of many petite women thanks to their extensive collection, reasonable prices, and truly petite sizing. Their Petite Twisted Boatneck Tee is a fashionable version of the comfy tee shirt. The neckline adds drama to a casual day look, and would fantastic under a cardigan or casual twill blazer. Great colors like Balsam Green and Ocean Depths will complement dark denim, khaki, white, gray, and black. $19.50

I love Nordstrom’s Caslon line – great wardrobe basics of great quality. The petite Caslon Ballet Neck Tee is a feminine and flattering twist on a simple knit top – the ¾ sleeves make it wearable almost year-round and a scoop neck is lovely on most every woman’s figure. $24.00

A Casual Blazer
A great way to jazz up simple tees and jeans is with a casual blazer. If it’s unlined and has a bit of stretch, it’s as comfortable as a hoodie but with far more polish.



Ann Taylor LOFT’s Petite Urban Twill Blazer is a great choice. The grosgrain trim gives it a unique, higher-end look, and in navy it would go with most any color tank or tee in your closet. $69.99

The striped blazer from Banana Republic would look amazing with neutral tanks, tees, and bottoms. It would also look quite chic with a pop of color underneath – try candy pink, blood orange, or apple green. The standup collar elongates the frame, making you look taller. $149.99

A Trendy Knit
Right now, striped tees are a hot look – this is a great way to add some variety and current fashion to your wardrobe without looking passé in a season. Striped tees look great with a simple denim or twill skirt, under a blazer, with shorts, capris, jeans, and even dressed up with a fuller skirt or with trousers. Add a bit of contrast with a turquoise or coral necklace, or a cardigan in a color like leaf green, tangerine, or yellow.

This black and cream striped boatneck from Lauren by Ralph Lauren isn’t your ordinary tee shirt – the silver buttons and boatneck make it a refined piece that would look great with jeans, and also with a white twill skirt for spring outings. $59.50



I own the Striped Sailor Tee from Ann Taylor and adore it – the scoopneck is flattering, the knit heavy and durable, the epaulets give a bit more style and panache. It comes in three colors. $38.00

A Not-so Little Black Dress
I have a black wrap dress from Old Navy that I bought years ago on clearance. I wear it with leggings and flats around the house, with heels for a wedding or funeral, with tall boots to work. It’s so versatile, and the matte jersey is a fabric that stretches, gives, washes easily, and looks timeless and seasonless.

The Petite Gemma Wrap dress from Banana Republic is a great choice – ¾ sleeves work year round, and a true wrap style means you can cinch the waist for a more custom fit. $98.00



Merona for Target has really come a long way in the past year – the quality has improved immensely, and the style is quite on-trend yet classic. The Merona Petite Faux Wrap Knit Dress is a great choice – the empire waist hides any post-baby pooch, and makes it dress up or down with ease. $20.98

Shoes
It often impossible to find size 5 footwear in stores, however the selection is pretty impressive online. Sites like Nordstrom and Zappos have a great selection of smaller sizes that are still stylish and comfortable. I recommend investing in:

  • A sandal with a low wedge heel (more comfortable than heels, able to wear with shorts or with a dress).  The “Amber” wedge-heel sandals from Munro is a great summer choice – uber comfortable, thin elegant straps, will look great with skirts and dresses of all lengths, as well as shorts, trousers, and cropped pants. Munro is known for comfort and quality – these shoes should be wearable even for a day of sightseeing or a trip to Disney World. $179.95
  • A pair of ankle boots you can slip on with jeans and a sweater (low heel, brown or black depending on your wardrobe – more versatile than flats as that they can dress up and also be waterproofed for rainy days).  The “Wisteria” by Merrell has a wedge heel which is comfortable when standing or walking for a long period of time, but can still be paired with casual trousers. They get great reviews for comfort. $140.00
  • A pair of tall riding boots (wear with dresses, over jeans and you will be amazed how they will transform wardrobe basics into something stylish – waterproof them for more versatility).  These riding boots from La Canadiene are so classic – waterproof Italian leather, moisture-wicking lining, memory foam insole, low heel, elegant styling. These are boots you buy now and will still be wearing a decade from now. $256.00
  • A pair of simple black leather pumps for those times when you do need to dress up (they work with pants, dresses, and even with your dark jeans for a Date Night or drinks with your girl friends).  The Nuncio pump from Nine West is a classic pump that will look elegant year-round and years from now. 2.5” heel, elongated toe, and available in narrow and wide widths. $69.95

For additional petite inspiration, check out: