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What I Wore: A Place for Everything with Dagne Dover

wardrobe oxygen what I wore dabne dover mini bag review dagne dover mini tote review wardrobe oxygen what I wore dagne dover bag review
Blazer: Ralph Lauren (thrifted – similar) | Tee: armor-lux (gift from reader – similar) | Jeans: NYDJ | Shoes: Cole Haan (similar) | Bag: c/o Dagne Dover

Reader Missy recently contacted me regarding the bag company Dagne Dover. She saw there was a pop-up shop taking place in DC and asked if I may be attending, and if so could I report back on what the bags were like in person. See, Missy has had the Dagne Dover Mini Tote on her wish list for months but was afraid to pull the trigger on such a pricey bag if she hasn’t seen and experienced it. Unfortunately I had plans the day of the DC pop-up shop so I contacted Dagne Dover to see if there would be another show in my area in the near future. To be honest I hadn’t heard of this brand before Missy’s email.  They were kind enough to send me one of the Mini Totes for me to experience and share with all of you.

Dagne Dover The Mini Tote Review

The Mini Tote from Dagne Dover is an incredibly smart bag while still maintaining style. Though it’s called a “Mini” you can tell from the photos that this bag isn’t small. However, it’s a manageable size that seems to easily hold much more than my biggest hobos or satchels. It’s not as tall or wide as my Brahmin satchel, but it holds twice as much and is far easier to access everything. There’s a removable cup of sorts to hold an umbrella or bottle of water, a padded pocket inside for a tablet or small notebook computer (I use it to hold my momAgenda and a book or my Kindle), and a zipper exterior pocket that can also hold a similarly sized device (I slipped in my tablet). There’s a pouch to hold sunglasses so they don’t get lost in the abyss, a detachable cord to hold my keys, and pockets to hold and easily access everything from my SmarTrip to my iPhone to my lipstick.  Missy asked if the bag can hold an 8.5 x 11″ document or folder and the answer is yes.  While it wouldn’t fit in any of the pockets, the main interior compartment is wide and deep enough to accommodate.  As I type this, I have 250 flyers of that size tucked in there and still room for my sunglasses, wallet, and the ability to access all the pockets.

Not pictured is a detachable adjustable strap that can make the Mini Tote a shoulder bag or crossbody. The strap is even smartly designed with padding where it rests on your shoulder! For my 5’3″ self I put the strap on the shortest setting and it was right at that comfortable hip place as a crossbody.  The built-in short straps do fit over the shoulder; I could fit it with a thin knit but found it too awkward with this outfit and impossible with a winter coat.  A slimmer woman may find it easier.  Full, the bag may feel too boxy for comfort under the arm, but the other day I slipped it over my shoulder for a quick trip to get lunch (my agenda, book, tablet, and umbrella were not in the bag).  I use the crossbody to get to the office so I can have my hands free to carry coffee or hold on when standing on the Metro, but I feel most comfortable at my height and weight to carry this bag in my hand as I did in this post.

After reading about these bags and the loyal fanbase, I really wanted to see the bag in person.  Why so much for a bag not out of leather?  Seeing it in person and using the bag, the price and loyalty is justified.  The bag is of coated canvas but it could easily be mistaken for Saffiano leather.  All the trim including the handles are of butter-soft Napa leather, the hardware is heavyweight and utterly gorgeous, and the pockets and added details are made with thought and care (a tight pocket for a Metro card, a deeper pocket for a SmartPhone, the ability to put the key cord on the side of your choice for easy access, etc.).  The more I used this bag the more I liked it; to be honest I wrote this post Sunday and came back Wednesday to edit it with more raving and detail.

I find Dagne Dover to be a perfect bag for the busy woman on the go. Unlike my other big bags, I find it a breeze to wear it across my body, unzip it and be able to see and access everything with one hand. Yes, you can hold a cup of coffee and be able to grab your sunglasses, you can hold a child on your hip and find your ringing phone, and you can quickly access your keys in a mall parking lot without having to put down your packages.  The Dagne Dover Mini Tote has a place for everything, with everything in its place.  If you have any questions about the Dagne Dover Mini Tote, please ask in the comments.  While Dagne Dover did send me the bag, this post is not sponsored and they knew I would be completely honest in my review and in replying to any comments.

FYI: The links in this post are for Missy to Share + Score with Dagne Dover.  I wouldn’t have known about this brand if it wasn’t for her.  You can learn more about the Share + Score program on Dagne Dover’s site, but if you are interested in purchasing one of their bags I encourage you to use one of the links on this post and support a fellow Wardrobe Oxygen reader!

My Wardrobe today – Thursday

Ponte collarless jacket - Banana Republic Outlet (similar)
Striped tee - LOFT
Ponte bootcut pantsLOFT
Bag – Sabina (similar)
Pashmina - c/o Pashmina International
BootiesCole Haan “Air Talia”

Ugh, another rainy day in DC! My old raincoat from LOFT is now too big – totally swimming in it. I recently ordered this trench in black from Nordstrom and wish I ordered it a week sooner so I could wear it today!  Instead I made do with an umbrella and a cozy scarf!

My hair is finally getting used to the new cut (got last Wednesday) – this morning I let my hair air dry sans product, then did big sections with a curling iron, a bit of Elnett to set.  So far so good on this soggy yucky day!

Another busy work day, and heading into a busy evening!  I will be at Simply Soles in Georgetown from 6-8 for the Presenza media event.  Will you be there?

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My Wardrobe Today – Friday

Black tuxedo jacket – Ann Taylor (no longer available)
Quarry Print TankAnn Taylor
Jeans - Not Your Daughter’s Jeans “Marilyn”
Black bootiesCole Haan “Air Talia Bootie”
Gold and crystal necklace - Ann Taylor LOFT (no longer available)
Gold and crystal bracelet – Anthropologie via eBay

Sorry for the dark pictures, this morning was very dark and gloomy. However the day has brightened a bit and I am looking forward to this weekend. There is a music festival in town on tomorrow and I hope to hit a mall on Sunday!

Have a great weekend everyone!

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What I Wore: Leopard with Stripes

wardrobe oxygen what i wore talbots leopard coat wardrobe oxygen what i wore stripes and leopard wardrobe oxygen what i wore leopard coat talbots alison gary wardrobe oxygen
Coat: c/o Talbots | Tee: Armor-Lux | Jeans: NYDJ | Booties: Cole Haan (similar style, same brand) | Bag: c/o Fossil | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

I shared this Talbots coat in my Talbots Fall Look Book post and was so excited when they sent me one as a gift! This is more of a coat than an indoor jacket; it’s the perfect choice over dresses, blouses and trousers, but I love how it glams up a classic weekend look. I’ve always been a fan of mixing leopard with stripes (see here and here), and this coat’s fuzzy texture adds an additional layer of interest. This coat is a 12 Petite, lined and cozy enough for a brisk fall day; add a pashmina at the throat and leather gloves and it will be just enough until the weather gets frigid!

Current favorite red lip is actually two colors – I start with Revlon Matte Lipstick in ‘Really Red’ and top with Revlon Colorburst Lacquer Balm in ‘Enticing.’ I find if I start with the Pixi lip primer/liner first, pat it in my finger, apply the lipstick and let it dry/set a bit, I keep the color all day and the Lacquer Balm refreshes it and adds shine.

My Wardrobe Today – Friday

Jacket - Caslon (similar)
Tee - Ann Taylor (similar)
Jeans - NYDJ
Booties - Cole Haan “Air Tailia”
Bracelets - Tarnish, UTAC, boutique in Rehoboth Beach
Silver hoops

I have been having neck and left shoulder pain that radiates down into the center of my left arm. I think it has to do with the way my office desk/chair is set up – I moved my monitor and lowered my chair and it has helped a bit, but this morning I woke in pain again… and just didn’t have the desire to pull together a creative ensemble. Love this jacket – goes with so much and can make a very frumpy jeans and tee shirt look not quite so frumpy.

I had a great time last night at the Refinery29 party at Madewell!  I wasn’t able to stay long, but it was wonderful to see blogging friends, meet some bloggers for the first time, and revel in the amazing style that many posses in our lovely Nation’s Capital!  If you were there and took photos, be sure to link in the comments as I didn’t capture any myself!  I did find these great photos on the blogs The President Wears Prada, So Much to Smile About, and A Lacey Perspective but would love to see more!

So what are your plans for the weekend? Emerson and I have swimming class tomorrow, and Sunday our community is having their semi-annual baby clothing swap – we set up a table at the Sunday farmers market – everyone brings the clothing and equipment for babies and children that we no longer need and do a free swap. It’s a great way to clean out the closet and get new pieces for the season, and it’s always fun to see a littler child on the playground wearing Emerson’s old dress or tee shirt. Nice to see such pieces get a second life (and anything not taken is donated to a local charity!). I’ll be manning the table for a couple of hours – I love the opportunity to catch up with Emerson’s friends’ parents and hopefully enjoy a nice fall day!

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What I Wore: Casual Camel

hsn iman leather jacket love cortnie bag iman leather jacket hsn
Jacket: IMAN Platinum Genuine Leather Soho Chic Quilted Jacket c/o HSN | Tee: Ann Taylor (similar) | Jeans: NYDJ | Shoes: Cole Haan (similar) | Bracelet: Rebecca Minkoff (similar) | Bag: Love, Cortnie | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

Oh this weekend was GLORIOUS! After a ton of snow and sub-zero temps it was nice to be able to take a break from the parks and lug-sole boots! HSN sent me this jacket from their Spring Fashion Collection, The Fashion Edit.  I originally thought it could work with the dress I wore last week, but it fits me more like outerwear than an accent piece.  With the warmer weather, I could finally wear this jacket with a pashmina at my throat and be comfortable!

This jacket is quite lovely, very soft buttery leather and luxe details. It comes in six colors, regular and plus sizes, and the price is amazing for such quality.  One thing I love about HSN is how beautifully things are packaged.  No stuffing everything into a plastic bag, pieces are wrapped with tissue, sealed in stiffer plastic cellophane.  This jacket came on a padded hanger that was wrapped in tissue and all the gold details also wrapped in tissue.  I understand it’s hard to tell what is true and fiction when a blogger receives free merchandise from a brand, but I am seriously impressed with HSN and they quality and brands they offer, and am glad they reached out to partner with me.

This post is not sponsored by HSN. They were kind enough to send me this jacket in hopes I could style it in a previous outfit post. I felt it looked best on its own and chose to wear it in this manner and feature it on the blog.

What I Wore: Old School Allie

wardrobe oxygen what I wore Red Fossil Leather Erin Satchel wardrobe oxygen what i wore fossil red leather bag wardrobe oxygen what I wore ann taylor stripe tee loft pants fossil bag
Tee: Ann Taylor | Pants: LOFT | Scarf: Liberty London (similar) | Bag: c/o Fossil (similar) | Watch: Citizen | Bracelets: Nordstrom, Rebecca Minkoff (similar) | Shoes: Cole Haan (similar)

I wore this outfit last week to work and I felt very Classic Allie. My sister bought me this scarf a few years ago when she visited London and I love pairing it with stripes. And well, we all know I love stripes! I put away laundry this weekend and was floored how I have a drawer of almost all striped tees, but I wear them all and they all have different purposes, fits, and colors. This one I recently picked up at Ann Taylor; I like the notched hem and leather elbow patches which makes it look a bit more polished than a traditional tee, and I liked the sale price!

Basic Black and White

Blouse: Jones New York c/o Gwynnie Bee | Jeans: NYDJ | Shoes: Cole Haan | Necklace: Cameron Pendant c/o Kristin Biggs, Stella and Dot | Watch: c/o WatchCo | Bracelets: c/o Lifetherapy, Nordstrom, had forever | Glasses: c/o Coastal.com

This top is perfect for this weather – billowy and breezy for the commute, but enough coverage that I don’t freeze to death in the office. This is totally the kind of top I buy, wear once or twice, and tire of the print because it’s too memorable. Love that with Gwynnie Bee I can wear it once or twice, and then return it for something new without buyer’s remorse. Interested in trying Gwynnie Bee?  Use this link, tell them Wardrobe Oxygen sent you and get a 30 day free trial of the program.

I just got these glasses Friday evening but have already fallen in love. When I got new glasses back in December, I wanted something classic, stylish without being trendy, something appropriate for work as well as every day. My Issy and La “Gloss” frames are perfect for that, but now I want more frames, and fun frames. I love the bold look of these, and it’s exciting to find frames that are big enough for my ginormous noggin. I did get these frames for free (review here), but I would totally order from Coastal.com again. Great prices, good service, and shipping is lightening fast. In fact, if you go to this link (not an affiliate link, not getting paid to share, just me being jazzed about sharing this with you) and pick any of these frames and add your prescription and use the code FIRSTPAIRFREE you get… well your first pair free! You do have to pay for shipping (which is around $9.00), but what an awesome steal of a deal. It’s always good to always have a spare pair or a fun pair that gets you out of your comfort zone.

Speaking of great deals, I have been wearing my Lifetherapy bracelets quite a lot and get so many compliments on them.  They have offered Wardrobe Oxygen readers 20% off on ALL Lifetherapy products (body care as well as jewelery).  Use code WARDROBEOXYGEN at checkout; this code is valid until 7/1/2013.

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My Wardrobe Today – Monday

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

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

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

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

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Plus Sized Work Attire Options

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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What I Wore: It’s Myne

myne heidi dress hobo bags clutch zippers myne heidi dress review

Dress: Myne | Bag: Hobo Bags (similar) | Shoes: Nine West | Glasses: Zenni Optical | Bracelet: Had forever (similar) | Lipstick: Revlon ‘Certainly Red’ | Ear Cuffs: Etsy (here and here)

I wrote about this dress in this post. A lot of you wanted to see me in it since I am a very different shape from the model, but it has been too cold to bust out this lightweight silk dress until now. When I bought it I figured I’d style it with peeptoe ankle booties and my wide silver metal plate belt, but once spring arrived I decided I liked it a bit more stripped down. The dress is by the brand Myne, and each time I read the label I say, “It’s MINE!” in the whiny voice I use when I read Emerson her book, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Share.  As an FYI, this is a size 10; I originally got a 12 but found it too long for my petite stature.  The 10 fits comfortably but the belt that came with it is too small (no biggie, the belt is kind of ugly and cheap looking).

If you signed up for my monthly Style File newsletter you know that I recently got these glasses. They’re huge, they’re bright, and they’re a lot of fun for a very low price (hello prescription lenses under $30!). I’ve been wearing a lot of red lately – I’ve been doing a red lip almost all winter and have been choosing OPI’s Big Apple Red as my nail polish of choice for almost a year. It made sense if I was going to buy some funky glasses to have them in my current signature shade!

Tuesday: Sign of Fall

Cardigan: Halogen
Blouse: Ann Taylor
Skirt: Halogen (similar)
Tights: Nordstrom
Shoes: Cole Haan
Bag: Hobo
Lipstick: Cover Girl Lip Perfection in Embrace

You know it’s fall when I break out the tights. While many adore hosiery and look for any chance to wear it, I’m more comfortable in bare legs. However the weather has gotten chilly and the office still seems to be cranking the A/C so the tights came out of storage!

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Ask Allie: What Flat Shoes Look Good with Socks?

I need flat, stylish shoes that I can wear with socks on chilly fall and winter days. I love the way that ballet flats look but obviously socks don’t work with them. I have low, black, ankle boots with a kitten heel, but need to mix it up with some other work-appropriate shoes (meaning, no boots that you’d wear jeans tucked into). I’ve looked at some driving mocs but haven’t found any that are cute/stylish and age-appropriate (34). Help!

Socks
First things first, the type of sock you wear makes a major difference. Men are used to this, and have dressier socks to wear for work, and more casual socks for weekends. For a sock to work with flats, you want something that is sleek, fits snugly to the ankle, doesn’t slouch down, has a refined finish. Trouser socks are a safe bet – they’re made to be slim and professional looking. While some may seem like glorified knee-high pantyhose, others look great and add a bit of warmth. I am a big fan of the Spanx Perfectoe Trouser Socks – they are moisture wicking and double layered which adds some padding to the tootsies and extra warmth come winter. They also don’t leave red rings on my calves after a work day. DKNY also makes some nice microfiber trouser socks which are more opaque, keep their shape better, and launder better than most other brands I have tried. Both brands come in standard dark neutrals that will work with most trouser and shoe colors.

I also have much success with knee socks, which come up past the widest point of your calf, ensuring they don’t slide down. Also the extra height prevents a visible line in thin or more fitted trousers, and you get a couple more inches of warmth.

You don’t have to stick to boring black, gray, and brown socks. Again, take a cue from your male colleagues and have some fun with your footwear. Since only a sliver is seen, it’s a great way to add a pop of color or do some pattern mixing without being too extreme. A gray and black pattern is a subtle look; a classic pattern like leopard, polka dots, argyle, or houndstooth is chic; a solid bright like candy pink or aqua can brighten a gray winter day.

Shoes
Okay, we’ve covered socks… now on to shoes! I agree with you, I don’t think ballet flats work with socks. The look is awkward. However, there’s a lot of styles this fall that do work really well with socks:

Be a modern-day Katharine Hepburn with a pair of smoking slippers.
Left, from top to bottom: jcp | Cole Haan | J. Crew | VC Signature | Dorothy Perkins | Franco Sarto

The Smoking Slipper
With the higher vamp and the loafer-esque silhouette, a smoking slipper works quite well with hosiery. I’d stick to a dark color that matches the shoe or trousers since the shoe has a very unique silhouette and most smoking slippers come in a print or unusual material. Pair with menswear style trousers and a crisp white shirt or fitted sweater and channel Katharine Hepburn.

 She may be wearing loafers, but you can achieve Audrey’s sleek look with this season’s oxfords.

The Oxford or Brogue
The oxford or brogue shoe isn’t going away any time soon, and that’s good news for those of us wanting flats that pair with socks. While some styles of oxfords can seem heavy and manly, there’s also many sleek and feminine styles out there. While an oxford looks great with most any cut of trouser, it’s fresh and feminine with a slim and slightly cropped pant (the better to showcase your legwear, my dear!). Pair narrow black pants and black socks with a printed or textured oxford and be a modern-day Audrey Hepburn.

Driving mocs look great with the feminine version of menswear, take a cue from Olivia Palermo’s look.
Left, from top to bottom: Cole Haan | Cole Haan | Geox | Cole Haan | C. Wonder | VANELi

The Driving Moc or Loafer
You mentioned this style and I agree it’s perfect with socks, but it is hard to find a more youthful version. It comes down to color – most mocs look the same, but if you choose a fun hue, it automatically looks younger and more hip. Don’t be afraid of a lighter color for winter – a bone, pale gray, or winter white moc can be quite modern looking this season. Be inspired by Olivia Palermo’s style and wear them with a feminine version of menswear in soft neutrals.

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Monday – Emerald Green with Silver

Blouse - Talbots (similar)
PantsTahari “Hazel”
BootiesCole Haan “Air Talia” bootie
Belt - Express circa 1998 (similar)
Silver cuff (similar)
Silver hoops (similar)

How was everyone’s weekend? I was super productive this weekend, accomplishing a lot of cleaning and errands. Even so we had time to hang out with my sister on Saturday night and I had breakfast with my sister and best friend Sunday morning.

I know few still watch Saturday Night Live; we still enjoy it in the Gary household. While I felt Lindsay Lohan was terrible as host this week, Jack White was utterly brilliant, and we really enjoyed this skit:

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Ask Allie: The Perfect Black Pump

Dear Allie,
Could you please recommend some specific black pumps that could make good staples? I like cute shoes but also sometimes walk up to 2-3 miles in the course of a work day (between walking to/from the bus, stepping out for lunch, etc) and would like to find a shoe that I can wear all the time without getting blisters, twisting an ankle, etc.
Thanks,
Emily

I think a pair of black pumps just like this are such a must for most women’s wardrobes! You can pair with skirts, dresses, pants and even some capris; they can be worn to your cousin’s wedding, a job interview, or a night out on the town. Such a shoe staple makes most sense if they can be walked in all day (or danced in all night!). Here’s some suggestions I have found online:

If you read Wardrobe Oxygen, you know I am a major fan off Sofft shoes. They are stylish yet incredibly comfortable and well-made. I have sandals that are several years old, have worked very hard yet still look great and I know I can wear them all day and through the night without any pain.

These pumps from Sofft are a very classic style – nice round toe to keep your tootsies comfortable, cushioned footbed, and a thicker heel to give stability and to better disperse body weight. These shoes come in Narrow, Regular, Wide, and Double Wide so there should be a great fit for anyone! (currently on sale for $58.90 on Nordstrom)


I have a pair of Cole Haan Air shoes and they are utterly amazing. They have Nike technology in them so they are more cushioned, flexible and wearable than similarly-styled shoes. My booties from Cole Haan are a high pointy heel, yet I can wear them for 12 hours without any pain.

These pumps from Cole Haan’s Air line are such a perfectly classic style. 2.5” stacked heel, rounded toe, free of any details that will make them passé in a year. Cole Haan Air shoes usually come with a strategically cushioned insole, flexible leather and rubber sole, and smart technology to place the heel where it can disperse body weight the best. They aren’t cheap shoes, but they are so well crafted and elegant, they can be a wardrobe favorite for a decade. ($197.95)


I am a big fan of pointed toe pumps. As someone with chubby feet, I feel they actually give my toes more space and are structured to normally be more flexible and wide than classic almond shapes. This classically elegant shoe by Ivanka Trump reminds me of my uber-comfortable pointed-toe kitten heels from Nine West. This is a shoe that will look great with trousers as well as a dress, and the pointed toe and slim heel makes them dress up with ease.

The reviews show that many find them to be very comfortable and a great wardrobe staple. ($119.95)

Naturalizer does a great job of marrying comfort with style. These shoes are not exception. They look very similar to many popular brands, but have the great Naturalizer quality and fit. The slight platform of the Lennox keeps them on trend, while also minimizing the height and discomfort of the heels. Signature N5 construction and padded insole will keep you comfy all day or night. ($78.95)


Another adorable pointed-toe kitten heel pump. So glad this silhouette is back en vogue – it’s feminine yet totally wearable all day. Available in patent or regular leather, these shoes will be a style you will keep continuing to reach for with each ensemble.

It’s rare to find a pair of shoes on Zappos that has a 5-star rating, but the Diema Pump has just that from 68 different reviewers. Says a lot for the quality and comfort of these shoes. ($89.00 at Calvin Klein website)

Readers, what say you? What are your favorite brand of classic black pumps?

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Blogging Love – Interview!

I was honored to be interviewed by Elle of the new blog Label Ho. Elle’s discusses fashion and her personal style on this site. I love supporting fellow fashion and style bloggers so I jumped at this chance to have us get to know one another better!

You can check out the interview here.

I loved the questions she asked (and if you go back in her archives, you can see her answers to the very same questions!). The name of her blog cracks me up. It reminds me of when I was Editor of my high school yearbook. I had such the fight with the sponsor over the proper spelling of this word. “If you add an ‘e’ it’s suddenly a garden tool!” (Let’s not even get into why this word was in my yearbook – let me just state that my high school was a fabulous one where I learned Japanese and was in International Baccalaureate courses, but it wasn’t in the most chi chi of neighborhoods.)

Since she interviewed me, I decided to ask her a few questions as well. Get to know Elle!

Name: “Elle,” author of Label Ho, a fashion and personal style blog

Why did you start blogging? What could be better than writing and posting about something you love? I thought it would be a fun hobby and a great way to connect with other fashion-minded people.

Favorite item in your closet: An authentic vintage Gucci handbag circa the 70s. I love that its suede and doesn’t have the GG logo plastered all over it. I found the bag at a thrift shop and its in immaculate condition. Best of all, I got it for an excellent price!

Favorite Web site to visit: FabSugar.com. They have pretty comprehensive coverage of what’s going on in the fashion world, delivered in quick, short posts. I also like that they post great outfits that members of their community put together. I’m fascinated with seeing what people put together.

Top five items on your style wish list for this season: I can only think of three since I think I pretty much have most of my key pieces already:

1. Another pair of dark bootleg jeans. I’ve pretty much worn my favorite pair so much (Joe’s Jeans in the Honey fit) that the color’s faded significantly.

2. More dresses. I’ve purchased a few already, but I just can’t get enough. They’re so easy to pull on in summer.

3. A pair of wide-leg jeans. I’ve tried on a ton of different ones, but still haven’t found a flattering fit.

Outlet Mall Shopping

Yesterday I visited a major outlet mall in my area. Over a mile of stores – some with great bargains, some with great piles of crap. There have been many stories about discount stores – how some of the product is not on sale, the clothes are made specifically for the outlet and are not the same quality that the brand name usually delivers, etc. After all that, you find designer duds for less, when is it worthwhile to spend, when should a bargain be passed by?


Fit
If it doesn’t fit well for $300, still doesn’t fit well for $150 and even for $65, don’t buy it. Just because it’s a great bargain does not make the fit any better. Shoes that are too tight or too big, jackets that pull at the back, pants that would be lovely if you just lost 15 lbs., no matter the bargain these items should just stay on the rack.

If the jacket’s sleeves are too long, the skirt’s hem at an awkward length, the shoulders a bit too big, these things can be altered easily by a tailor. You must be in love with the piece and find multiple places and ways to wear it to justify the tailor expense. I found a cream silk linen suit at a discount store – the suit fit perfectly except for a broken zipper and too long of sleeves and legs. I bought the suit for $65, regularly $350, and for $40 had the zipper and hems all modified. I have worn the suit to work, to religious events and as separates for three years. That purchase was worth the added tailoring expense.


Style
Often times the items at the discount store are there because they are leftover from last season. When it comes to classic pieces like suits, dresses and knits, this is not a problem. A blue merino v-neck is lovely almost every year, and more lovely when 50% off. The problem comes with the trendy p[pieces.


If Lindsay, Mischa, Nicole or Chloe was wearing it last spring, it’s a good chance that piece is passé now. Pass on the embellished jeans, the metallic leather bags, the rainbow-hued sunglasses and most other accessories. Just because it’s on sale does not mean it is a good buy. When it comes to scouring outlets, your best deals are the ones that will last through more than one season. Sweaters, suits, outerwear, cocktail dresses, leather goods and most shoes are great bargains if you find quality and value in the same item.


Name Brands
Just because you found a pair of Manolo Blahniks for $100 at the Saks Fifth Avenue outlet does not mean they need to be purchased. Do they fit your current style? Are they comfortable? Are they current or classic?

We have all seen the label whores – those women with a Coach purse, Jimmy Choo shoes that JLo wore last year, Baby Phat jeans, a Bebe tee with the rhinestone logo, Chanel sunglasses and a Pucci scarf in her hair. These items weren’t bought for the quality or the style. They were bought because a stranger could spot the brand a mile away. She looks trashy, obvious and victimized by fashion. None of these are appealing. Labels do not suddenly make you well dressed or well liked.


If you can find a Furla bag for 40% off and it suits your style as well as lifestyle – then go for it. If you are buying a bag purely because it’s Prada and you don’t like the style, size or fabric… well you have become a label whore.

Don’t buy that jacket just because it’s designer. Pretend that it is an unknown label – do you still like it? Do you still find it attractive and necessary? If not, put it back on the rack. That goes for ill-fitting designer duds, last season’s “It Bag,” obvious logo advertising (if it’s that obvious, it will be that obvious from last season – not worth your time or money) and damaged designer goods.


Damaged Goods
Many discount retailers sell the irregulars from a label. Some irregulars can barely be seen by the naked eye – may be an incorrect dye lot or the wrong buttons sewn on a jacket. Some may work in your favor – pants cut too short or sleeves that are too long or too narrow. Often times these stores received the garments that were damaged in production, transit or through many jaunts to the fitting room. Broken zippers, missing buttons, fabric snags are all defects that can easily be repaired or covered up if the price and style is right. However there are other defects that are not worth the purchase, no matter how low the price. Runs in nylon, stains, button holes at the wrong height, linings that do not align with the trouser, two pieces stitched together from two different dye lots. Even if it is Versace, it will look like Gallo Clothing on you if it is this defective.


Buying in Bulk
I used to be a huge fan of buying in bulk – find a tee shirt you love, buy it in eight colors and three of white and black. Flattering trousers? Buy one in every color. I then found that my wardrobe was like one big uniform… one big boring uniform. Mixing basics with fun pieces offers versatility, ease but individual style.


At outlet malls, buying in bulk is a good idea. Yesterday I was at the Banana Republic outlet and found high quality stretchy tees in tons of colors – $9.99 each. I bought one in black, one in white, one in gray and one in red. These shirts can be worn with jeans on weekends, with a little skirt for happy hour with the girls or under a suit for work. I found a great pair of wool trousers at Off Fifth, bought them in brown, gray and black. They were so standard and fit so amazingly well (and were only $39.99 each) that it was worthwhile to buy every color I liked. I knew with my work and lifestyle I would find regular use for such trousers. Another time I found a pair of really cute studded pointy heels from NYLA. They were 75% off and tres cute. I decided to buy them in hot pink, ivory and black, thinking that if they fit well, they would get much use. I was imagining sparkly tops and designer jeans with the ivory, a sexy power suit with the black, and envisioned an outfit a la Carrie Bradshaw for the pink. I took them all home, have worn the pink ones multiple times, and have barely touched the other two. I don’t wear designer jeans with sparkly tops on a regular basis, and don’t own a single chic black power suit. Those two shoes have barely seen the light of day. Consider your current lifestyle when considering to buy in bulk – items that look too familiar may not be worn and too many of the same thing may make them all too boring to regularly wear. Also, if you don’t wear red patent stilettos now, you probably won’t after purchasing a pair.


In conclusion, don’t buy just because of a label, or just because of an amazing price. Less money for an item is still money, and money should be spent carefully. Be willing to take the time to find quality purchases, not pick up every shiny bauble that sort of resembles what Gwen or Jessica wore last Spring. Fashion is not about the specific item, but the allover look. A Louis Vuitton bag or a pair of Chanel sunglasses will not make you a fashionista, the pairing with appropriate and complimentary pieces is what takes you from being a label whore or a fashion victim to fashionista status.

Thursday – Neon Colorblocking

Jacket - Vince Camuto
Tee - Ann Taylor
Pants – LOFT (similar)
BootiesCole Haan
Cuff (similar)
Pendant (similar)
Bag – c/o Handbag Heaven

It is a very dreary day today in DC… perfect weather for the brightest pieces in my closet! I got this tee at the Ann Taylor Friends and Family event the other week and have to admit it is the only thing I liked. While at first glance this season’s Ann Taylor collection is right up my alley, I find many of the fabrics to not be nice enough for the pricepoints, the silhouettes a bit too racy for the workplace, but the styles not trendy enough to make them be right for after hours. I’m not really sure who the current Ann Taylor woman is, but it doesn’t seem any more to be me. Did you buy anything at the recent Ann Taylor Friends and Family event? How do you feel about their current season collection?

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My Wardrobe Today – Wednesday

Cardigan - Ann Taylor (similar)
Blouse - White House | Black Market (similar)
Pants - LOFT (similar)
Belt – Ann Taylor (similar)
BootsCole Haan “Air Talia”

You know those days where you wish you could go to work in your pajamas? Yeah, today is one of those days. Thanks goodness for ponte, which is work-appropriate yet as cozy as yoga pants. And this cardigan was an impulse purchase from the clearance rack last year that has totally been worth the money. I wore it this weekend with a white tank and a cobalt crinkled gauze oblong scarf with jeans, and have worn it to work several other times.

I have been dealing with a cold off an on for about a week – it has been tough to shake because it seems each time I get well, Emerson gets sniffly. This morning, my husband woke up coughing and sneezing so it looks as though it will make another cycle through the Gary household. Le sigh.

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My Wardrobe Today – Tuesday

Shirt - c/o CAbi
SkirtAnn Taylor
TightsNordstrom
ShoesVince Camuto
Bracelets – swap event, Ann Taylor, Lauren Ralph Lauren
Necklace – boutique in Rehoboth Beach

I wrote this post before ever owning anything from Vince Camuto. When I saw these booties on sale I felt it was fate – since the hurricane destroyed my only pair of brown shoes I decided to get these babies. While they are a bit tight on the top of my foot (I have especially chubby feet), the suede is very soft and supple and I can feel them easing to the shape of me as the day progresses. As for standing in them… they are more comfortable than my Cole Haan booties with Nike Air technology! They seem really high but there is a hidden platform that helps greatly. Very sturdy on my feet, a really great shoe that if they go on sale even further I may pick up another pair in a different color or material!

Trench - DKNY
Faux fur collar - H&M

While yesterday was near 70, today is quite chilly.  Good for me, another chance to wear my H&M fur collar!

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