Search Results for: label/feminism

Ask Allie: Feminism and Fashion

I don’t like wearing pants but as a feminist I feel I should embrace them. I want to be respected for my thoughts and not seen first as a woman but it’s hard to do so in a dress. Any tips on how to incorporate pants into the wardrobe of a petite plus sized apple shaped woman?

Feminism, according to Merriam-Webster is, “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” Nowhere in that definition does it state a woman has to look or dress in a certain manner to achieve that. You can be a feminist and shave your legs, wear false eyelashes, sky-high heels, and skirts and dresses of any length that you like. Feminism has no dress code.

If you want a pair of pants because YOU want them to make YOU happy, then consider:

  • Wide waistbands (they give a smoother look, be your top tucked in or not). A tab-style waistband gives the cleanest look and you don’t have to worry about whether or not a belt is needed.
  • The smaller and fewer the pockets, the better. Pockets add bulk and gape especially on apple figures. If the pants have front pockets, they should be small and not the type that slash open on or near the side seam of the pants. Steer clear of back pockets with flaps and other obvious details.
  • Choose a style without cuffs at the hem. Not only does a cuff shorten your figure, but it’s a detail that can look dated in a couple seasons’ time.
  • If in doubt, choose the size up and then have them altered to fit; tailors can narrow pants at the hips and thigh to better fit your apple figure.
  • Same with length; better to go too long and have a tailor (or even your local drycleaner) hem them to the right length to work with your favorite shoes.

Clothing is only one part of a person’s image and persona. A woman can be powerful, intelligent, a leader, a badass in most anything if she wears it with confidence.

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Fashion, Feminism, and my Daughter

When I found out I was pregnant, I remember doing the ring trick with my husband, already positive that I was carrying a boy. I lay on the bed and he hung my wedding band above my belly, the ring slowly went from side to side, then started moving in a lopsided circle. We joked that maybe it was twins, since the ring couldn’t make up its mind. A week or so later, the sonogram confirmed that we were in fact having a daughter.

When I told people, they usually commented on the wardrobe of my future child. People would say she would be the best dressed girl in town, that she would be a mini fashionista. I remember someone saying I should start a second blog called “My Onesie Today” to journal her itty bitty sartorial choices.

The thing is, when I realized I was having a girl, I decided I would NOT make her into a mini fashionista. Don’t get me wrong, there is some darn-patootin’ cute baby clothes out there. The thing is, I didn’t want to raise a child who felt her self-worth and level of attractiveness was based upon what clothing she put on that day.

I was raised by a woman who loved fashion, but I was given the freedom to dress as I wished. I can remember loving a too-small Redskins sweatshirt, a hideous bright pink and ivory acrylic ribbed turtleneck, and in middle school started creating my own sense of style by wearing sweaters as skirts, my bedroom curtain as a cummerbund, drawing all over my jeans. I saw fashion as something fun, something creative. I want Emerson to make her own decision on fashion – whether she too will find it fun and creative, or if she will find it pointless and just something to cover the body.

At two years of age, Emerson is a funny, smart, loving little person. Her hair is always in a fluff of curls and tangles on her head; she has yet to have a proper haircut, just a couple snips from my cuticle scissors to prevent a mullet. Her wardrobe is a combination of gifts from loved ones, 30% off sale merchandise from the Gap Give & Get promotion, and items I have collected from community clothing swaps, Freecycle, and consignment sales. She also wears clothes that I wore when I was her age – corduroy bell-bottom overalls, wool peacoats, hand-knit cardigans.

She has very few dresses because they just aren’t practical for a toddler who loves to climb, crawl under things, and run willy-nilly around a playground or the local lake. She wears lots of knits that can easily be laundered, lots of jeans that will protect her knees, and sturdy shoes that can survive being dragged on the ground while I push her on her tricycle.

I don’t purchase clothing for Emerson that has cartoon characters on it because I don’t want to use my child as free marketing for a company. With that, I don’t let Emerson wear clothes that say “Diva” or “Spoiled” or any other negative female stereotypical descriptions on them. I have to admit she does have a footed sleeper that says “Princess” but I got it off Freecycle practically new and she likes it because it’s green and has letters on it (she will point to them and say “R! S!”).

Emerson does know what she wears, and is at an age where she wants to make choices. We will hold up two tops and ask her which one she likes. I have learned that she likes the color purple, the color green, ruffles, and loves it when there is an animal on her shirt. I try to buy these if I can find them on sale because I want her to feel as though she has control over her appearance. In fact, the bike helmet she is wearing above she picked out herself.  I put out all the helmets in her size – ones with hearts, ones with skulls, ones with dinosaurs… she chose the one that was green, and looked like “an alligator.”

With this, Emerson doesn’t wear barrettes, headbands, or ponytails because she hates them. Saturday, we were playing in my room and I put a ponytail on the very top of her head so she could see it in the mirror. She found it very fun, but 30 minutes later as we were walking to the playground, she saw the ponytail in her shadow and pulled it out. After, she sighed as though it was a great relief to be free of it.

This weekend, Emerson and I were downstairs playing and she decided she wanted to go upstairs. She scrambled up the steps and right to our bedroom, where she climbed up on the ottoman at my dressing table. She picked up a brush and rubbed it against her face and said, “Pretty!” The feminist in me freaked out for a minute – I didn’t want her to think that she had to wear makeup to be pretty. What am I doing to my poor daughter’s brain by putting on makeup in front of her? Am I making her feel that cosmetics are necessary to be pretty?

But then I thought, I wouldn’t freak out of she did a finger painting and said it was pretty, or if she planted a plant in the garden and said it was pretty. Just as I find fashion as something that is fun and creative, this is how I find cosmetics. Makeup artists are called artists because what they do is a form of art – in place of oils and acrylics, they use powders and creams. So I sat down on the ottoman, put her in my lap and let her play with my brushes, look at herself in the mirror and play.

She took the brushes and rubbed them against her face, her arms and told me they were soft. She rubbed them against my face and neck and said, “Thank you!” (She has yet to realize that others are to say that when she does something nice, but I knew what she meant and that she was trying to be loving.) She brushed them in her hair and said, “Smooth!” She opened her mouth, played wither teeth, her mouth. She stuck a finger in her nose, used a different finger to stretch up her eyebrow. She examined her face, crusty nose, crumbs of bagel and cream cheese in the corners of her mouth, a smear of cream cheese still on her forehead, her hair practically in dreadlocks, poking out in all directions. She smiled at her reflection and said, “So pretty!” and I had to agree.

She’s turning into a pretty awesome person.

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I am a Feminist Fashion Blogger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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International Women’s Day (AKA Why I am a Feminist)

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.
- Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler

I am a feminist.

When I tell people this, I get many reactions. People roll their eyes, state that feminism is passé, tell me I can’t be a feminist because I care about what I look like and that I love my husband. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just like the quote above, being a feminist means I support women, and that all women should be treated as people. People who have the same choices, options, and freedoms available to men.

I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman. 
- Anaïs Nin

I believe that a woman can be a feminist and still care about fashion and beauty, love men, love taking care of her home and her family. As a feminist, I believe I am a person – I deserve to do what I want, say what I want, enjoy what I want, and love who I want.

You don’t have to be anti-man to be pro-woman. 
- Jane Galvin Lewis

I married a feminist, a man who sees women as people, finds me to be his equal, and we enjoy a great friendship and partnership.

I’ve yet to be on a campus where most women weren’t worrying about some aspect of combining marriage, children, and a career. I’ve yet to find one where many men were worrying about the same thing. 
- Gloria Steinem

I enjoy fashion, and find it to be an art form as well as a way for women to express themselves and gain self-confidence and self-love. Every woman is gorgeous, clothing helps them showcase their internal as well as external beauty.

Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress. 
– Coco Chanel

Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day celebrates women’s successes across the globe, but also reminds us all of the inequities that still exist.

From the International Women’s Day site:

The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.

Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, “She doesn’t have what it takes.” They will say, “Women don’t have what it takes.”
- Clare Boothe Luce

I find that younger Americans feel that feminism is dead, or should be. They feel that women have become equal – they are now CEOs, astronauts, running for office, and Secretary of State. However a recent study showed that female surgeons make on average $27,000 less per year than their male counterparts; the White House stated earlier this year that women in all levels of education still make 25% less than men.

The world has never yet seen a truly great and virtuous nation because in the degradation of woman the very fountains of life are poisoned at their source. 
- Lucretia Mott

In other countries, rape is still used as a weapon of war, and women are often seen as property. We women need to support one another, educate one another, free one another. Feminism isn’t hairy armpits and man-bashing, it’s treating humans – all humans with the respect they deserve.

Today I ask you to start with yourself. Respect yourself. Be proud to be a woman, and of all the accomplishments you have made.

We have to have faith in ourselves. I have never met a woman who, deep down in her core, really believes she has great legs. And if she suspects that she might have great legs, then she’s convinced that she has a shrill voice and no neck. 
- Cynthia Heimel

You are beautiful, and so incredibly talented. Honor yourself, and all that you accomplish. Know that who you really are is amazing, and should be celebrated.

We must trust our own thinking. Trust where we’re going. And get the job done. 
- Wilma Mankiller

We women often feel it is wrong to be proud of our accomplishments, take time out to pamper ourselves, seem the slightest bit selfish. However when you care for yourself, you are showing others that you deserve such care. You show subordinates at work that a woman can love herself and climb the career ladder, you teach your children that a woman can be smart and strong and still be true to herself and a great parent. When you love and respect yourself, those around you realize it and give you more respect.

I became a feminist as an alternative to becoming a masochist. 
- Sally Kempton

And take the time today to support your fellow women. Mentor an intern at the office, send an email of encouragement to a local female politician, teach your child about a famous female trailblazer, donate your time or money to a program that promotes support for women in your community or another part of the globe. Doing this will help fellow women, but also make you feel even more amazing and strong than you already are.

I can promise you that women working together – linked, informed and educated – can bring peace and prosperity to this planet.
- Isabel Allende

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Instead of an Outfit…

Today I’m wearing a pretty cute outfit – a gorgeous jade green drapey jersey top courtesy of Gwynnie Bee (one of their new arrivals), with these jeans from Jag which are utterly brilliant, and my leopard flats. I didn’t take pictures because I decided to use that time to have breakfast with my family. I adore this blog, but am finding it’s taking more and more time and am trying to look for ways to better schedule my time without losing quality (either in life or in blog content).

Speaking of which, I will be having theme days on the blog so you’ll sort of know what to expect. Don’t worry, I won’t be having Wishing for Designer Bags Monday or Instagram Friday, but I will continue to do an Ask Allie every Wednesday that is about pairing and styling clothing, and will continue to have the True Fashionista series each Friday. I’m also toying with having Saturday posts that are more like this – random ramblings and updates that can’t fill an entire blog post on their own. Outfit and advice posts will obviously continue, but I am not going to kill myself to churn them out on a daily basis. Likely they will still be daily, but I am taking off some of the pressure I have placed on myself as of recent.

I finished Stacy London’s book this week and I can’t stress enough how awesome it is. While I feel it’s a bit goofy to have her constantly use trendy phrases like amazeballs, the content is spot-on and really gets to the heart of the matter why many women are in a sartorial rut, fear or hate fashion, and believe style is only possible for the rich and thin. Even if you know your personal style, this book is a great read.

I forgot to mention on here, but I also finished Caitlin Moran’s book, How to Be a Woman. I know she got some justified flack this past weekend on Twitter, but I still think she’s pretty inspiring and her book is a good read. I think if it was 100 pages shorter it would have had more impact, but I think it’s a great memoir about her life and her view on feminism. If you think feminism is passé or a bad word, consider checking this book out and you may change your opinion. I’d call it Feminism Light, which isn’t a bad thing – it actually makes it digestible and clear to those who hear the word and think only of these characters from Portlandia:


I love fashion and beauty, I find it charming when a man holds a door for me, I admire and respect mothers who choose to stay home to raise their children, and I spent much of my pregnancy barefoot in the kitchen (the cold ceramic tile did wonders for PUPPPS), but I am a feminist. And I am betting if you are reading this blog, there’s a feminist inside you too!

I desperately need to get to the salon. I miss my stylist Kathleen desperately, and I am also doing bad things to my hair like dying it at 4am with a box of Natural Instincts that I found in the back of the linen closet and trimming bangs with cuticle scissors. Such antics were fine at 25 but not so cute at 37.

I’m really excited for this Tuesday. My friend Maria, who is also a blogger and PR person is working with DC Wine Week to host Red, Burgundy, and Plum: A Night of Fashion and Wine at Lost Society DC. Open wine bar, yummy food, fashion, and some of the most fabulous people in the city – I can’t wait! I’d love it if you came as well, and considering who is hosting this event I KNOW it’s going to be fabulous!

This weekend is our dear friends’ son’s birthday party and Emerson can NOT wait. Since their son’s birthday is so close to Halloween they make the event a costume party. While she said she wanted to be a “princess witch… or a princess pirate” for Halloween (figure both include a black tutu and a crown and the rest is her imagination and choice between “Yo Ho Ho!” or her crazy “diabolical laugh”) I couldn’t pass up the great deal on a bee costume from Old Navy. On sale and then I had a coupon for an additional 30% off so it ended up being about $10. Emerson is Princess Bumble Bee today and I bet tomorrow as well, and can’t wait to be in full bee regalia Saturday.

So I have dropped Weight Watchers. I never go, and lately my husband has been on a cooking kick, flying through the amazing recipes in this book. We haven’t gone full vegetarian again, but we’re going meatless during the week and cutting down on eggs and dairy. Our goal is to make animal products a treat instead of something we gobble without thought. We’re both finding that our vegan meals are far more filling – we eat half of what we regularly consume and are left sated – no growing tummies, no sluggishness, just not hungry any more. The gym at my new office building opens up next week so I hope to stop by there a couple times a week. I honestly don’t care if I remain this size for the rest of my life, I just want to be healthy and strong and have a good quality of life for as long as possible. I can tell when I have gained and my body just doesn’t perform as well, but I also realize that getting smaller requires a major life change and I am accepting that I just don’t have the time or desire right now for that. Virgin FreeFest reminded me of how strong I was – while I was worn out the day after, I was proud at how I kept going the whole day without being fatigued, in pain, or needing to rest. I love that I can go on a hike for two or more hours with my husband and keep up without pain or stress, and I love that when I am eating healthy real food I sleep better and my skin looks and feels amazing. For me, that means more than the size of my jeans.

A proper post will happen tomorrow, but for today you get my random ramblings. I’d love to hear from you – what book should I read next (just ordered the Beth Ditto memoir, but I usually read two books at a time)? TV season has returned, what show should I add to my DVR? What fun things have you been up to?

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Ask Allie: Are Heels Feminist?

You regularly claim that you are a feminist, but then you always recommend heeled shoes to your readers. This contradiction has bothered me for a while, as I find heeled shoes to be a tool to hold women back. High heels not only cause foot pain and disfigurement, but they make women sexual objects and oppress them literally (try keeping up with a man in his flat shoes). As a feminist, I would think you would want to use the power of your blog to encourage women to dress in a way to be powerful and equal.

I am a feminist. I am a feminist who loves heels and makeup and skirts. I love that I have a choice in what I wear, and that what I wear can better express the person I am. I believe clothing and accessories are a fabulous way for a woman to express her personality and to help her realize how utterly gorgeous and wonderful she is. As a feminist, I think she can do it in the way she finds best.

Orthopedists have proven that a slight heel is healthier for the arch and your back than a completely flat shoe. That being said, I wear heels because they make me feel tall and they make me feel powerful. Not in a sexual way, but in a way that I walk differently, I stand differently, and I like how that feels. I personally don’t like how I feel in flat shoes – I pronate more, my arches hurt, it doesn’t flatter the type of clothes that I like, and it doesn’t feel true to my personal style.

I recommend heels because… well it is a personal blog and I am influenced by my own style and tastes. I also recommend them because most women I meet like at least a bit of a heel – just as a suit and tie makes a man look and feel dressed up or professional, a pair of shoes with some heel makes many women feel more dressed up. A pair of heels can oppress a woman if she isn’t comfortable in them, and the last thing I would ever recommend is for a woman to wear something that makes her feel oppressed, uncomfortable, or untrue to herself.

I think expecting a woman to not wear something because of her beliefs is just as oppressive. Read my blog, you will never see me recommending one to wear something to attract a man or be sexy – I don’t believe in dressing to please another person. I write about wearing clothes to please yourself, to be true to yourself, to fit your lifestyle and personality. A woman is powerful when she feels good in her skin, and good in that which adorns her skin. Be that a skirt or pants, heels or flats, it isn’t my place or your place to tell her what makes her feel powerful. I write advice, not gospel. I often offer flat-shoe options, and I often admit that my advice may not be universal. But I don’t believe for an instant that because I enjoy something different from you that I am any less of a feminist or doing my fellow women a disservice. For the definition of feminism is the belief that women are equal human beings, and that means that we women have choices, the right to choose the option that is best for us, and not be judged by our sisters for that choice.

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FFB Blog Event: Dressing Like a Feminist

This week’s topic for Feminist Fashion Bloggers is, “How do you express your feminism in the way you dress?”

I found this question difficult to answer. I don’t think about any message I wish to portray when I get dressed every morning. But then I thought, I do think about you, my blog readers when I get dressed. I want to show that you don’t have to be a size 4, 22 years old, or 5’9” to look stylish and feel beautiful.

The average American woman is 5’3”, she wears a size 14. Yep, that’s me. I have brown hair, brown eyes, beige skin. I am neither fat nor thin, not remarkably tall or short. I am typical.

I use this blog to celebrate my typical exterior, and show how an “average” woman doesn’t have to look average. I use this blog to help other women find their personal style. My personal style won’t be the same as any other woman’s, but maybe it can inspire another to get outside her box, embrace her figure and her personality through her dress.

Clothing is a wonderful way to express yourself – a walking billboard of your passions, your thoughts, your beliefs. For some women, clothing is a way to show their religion or cultural heritage; for other women, clothing is a way to express their passion for music or a certain era of time environmental concerns. Clothing has a way of making the wearer feel powerful, feel graceful, feel confident, feel unique. Clothing can be a suit of armor – having a wardrobe of workhorses/wardrobe staples means you are ready for whatever life throws your way; you can spend less time in front of the closet and more time living.

Clothing is something that we all have to wear to participate in everyday society; we should use it as a tool to properly express and showcase ourselves. As a feminist, I choose clothing that makes ME feel good, makes ME happy, flatters my figure, but also my soul.

I have never dressed in a manner to attract a mate. I fully believe that a mate is attracted to a person who is beautiful to them in every sense. At work, I wear what makes me feel confident, not what seems to be the office uniform. I respect etiquette and cultural expectations because I respect my company, my family, and the hosts of events I attend; I don’t dress to please others.

I dress to show how much I love this amazing body. I honor it with garments that flatter and feel good. I share my spirit and my artistic side by wearing colors that please me, combinations that may not necessarily go with the runway trends but go with my heart. I wear jewelry and clothing that belonged to (or were made by) family members because it makes me feel good to honor them and thank them for such gifts that were passed down to me.

When I get dressed each morning, I think about this blog. I don’t care if someone likes or hates my outfit. Instead, I think about how I may inspire another woman to realize that she can be smart AND stylish, a wonderful mom AND a person who follows her passions, a strong person and a fashionable one. You don’t have to sacrifice style for substance.

Click here to see the other posts by fellow Feminist Fashion Bloggers.

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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.

Scrimp or Splurge – What’s Your Number?

scrimp or splurge

Tuesday’s post about white tee shirts got me thinking. I believe we all have a number, that price we won’t cross for certain items for our closet. I often read interviews with style icons and they’ll say how they scrimp for X but splurge for Y, and often I feel the complete opposite about those items. That our numbers are personal based upon our age, our figure, our lifestyle, our budget. They are as unique as our personal styles.

While I wouldn’t have spent over $30 for a tee shirt two years ago (maybe $45 if striped or embellished), I now obviously will drop $80 for a plain white v-neck to stop the hunt and finally be satisfied. I couldn’t imagine spending more than $75 on a pair of jeans (but owned over a dozen pairs), but now don’t even blink at a $100 pricetag; though I now only own a handful of pairs.

On the other hand, some things I won’t pay as much for now that I used to. I can recall putting designer wool and leather coats on layaway because I considered them a worthy investment; now I buy my coats on clearance in the spring and don’t care the label inside as long as I like how it looks on me. Most of my makeup bag contents are from CVS, and I’ve learned some natural budget-friendly products like witch hazel, coconut oil, and jojoba oil do just as well as the high-end skincare lines.

The part missing from the tee shirt conversation was lifestyle and budget. What are the white tee shirts worn for, and how much can you spend on clothing in general? For some people $150 is a drop in the bucket, for others it’s the food budget for a month. For some, a white tee shirt is a piece of fashion as important as an It Bag or designer jeans while others just see it as what they slip on under their sweaters or wear on weekends with shorts.

So I ask you, what are your numbers? What’s the max you’d pay for a pair of jeans? A winter coat? A pair of tall boots? A handbag?  A dress to wear to a wedding or gala event? Where do you scrimp and where do you splurge? I know there’s such a variety of people who read this blog, this conversation would be interesting to highlight your unique lives and personal styles, but also help me know what to share on Wardrobe Oxygen in the future!

Little Bits of Luxury: The Series

With age comes wisdom. It’s taken a while, but I have learned to truly buy quality instead of quantity. I unsubscribed from most retail emails so I am not wooed by 50% off (if I didn’t need it at full price, I don’t need it now), I rarely enter a mall because I know myself and I will leave at least $100 poorer with bags full of things I don’t need and will likely collect dust. When I visit a store like Target or TJ Maxx I have a written shopping list that will be a visible reminder to stay on track. And in the past year, when I have added to my closet I have looked for what I can remove – to store for the future, to donate, to sell, to admit defeat and cut up into rags.

And the things I purchase are better quality too. Now I am no Martha Stewart, so for me quality is likely Nine West, Etsy, L’Oreal. But I have learned it’s not about the name on the label, but how the piece works with my life and performs in the long run. Be it bras, BB cream, baking dishes, or boots I research, save, and buy the best within my budget. This also goes for luxury items (and items that are luxurious just to me). I have never admitted being a minimalist, and with age I have learned that some luxury items just make life better (and are far kinder to the body than cupcakes and nachos). I’ve also learned that luxury can come at all pricepoints, and some of the best indulgences are quite kind to my wallet.

I’ve found that series on this blog are some of my most popular posts on Wardrobe Oxygen. And so my newest series will feature little luxuries I indulge in, and how I budget for them, and why they are worth it. I hope you enjoy!





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What I Wore: Real Red

Dress: Belle c/o Dobbin Clothing | Bag: “Erin” Satchel c/o Fossil | Tights: Nordstrom | Boots: Ros Hommerson  | Bracelets: had forever, Nordstrom (similar) | Watch: Citizen c/o WatchCo | Coat: Via Spiga

Fossil was kind enough to send me this bag and I immediately fell in love with the color. It’s not cherry, it’s not tomato, it’s not ruby or oxblood or any other fancy terms. It’s as clear and true of a red as a crayon. I checked the bag’s label and it’s called Real Red. I like that, no crazy made-up name, just what is exactly is. This bag is pretty phenomenal, and perfect for a commuter like me. Two side zipper pockets to hold things like farecards and lip balm, and inside there is a zipper pocket on one side, and the other side five different pockets to hold anything from a Smartphone or your keys to business cards and a pack of gum. And in this bag I have my wallet, Kindle (did you enter my Kindle giveaway?), makeup bag, myAgenda, sunglasses, gloves, journal, and two reusable containers to hold my lunch. Impressive! The crossbody strap is adjustable to become a shoulderbag, or it can be removed. I know this bag is going to be used quite a lot this season!

I never understand why street style models and bloggers wear their coats on their shoulders like a cape.  How can they move their arms?  Why not just put on the coat?  Then I realized on cold days I do this very thing – I wear the coat like a cape from the house and over my shoulders until Karl gets ready to take pictures.  This way my outfit doesn’t get as rumpled and I’m less likely to mess up my hair.  Karl got this picture of me in the coat at the beginning of the shoot and it showcases the coat I bought last winter on a whim and still adore a year later (and it’s still available at Nordstrom and now on sale!).

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What I Wore: Issa for Banana Republic

I’m not a fan of designer collaborations. I don’t understand clamoring for a cheaper version of a designer piece. I don’t want a glued-together pleather bag or ill-fitting polyester blouse no matter what name is on the label. However, once the Issa Collection came out for Banana Republic I was intrigued. Banana Republic already has good quality and fits me relatively well, and the pieces in the collection were things I would buy no matter the designer. I liked the kimono dresses, and felt this print was one I would wear now and five years from now, in spring and in winter. For those considering this dress, I chose a 14, and yes, they do run short (it’s veering on not work appropriate and I am 5’3″). However it’s made extremely well, a heavy matte jersey that feels good and is a style that I think would work if I gained or lost weight. And you know me, I waited until it was on sale, Banana Republic was having a big sale, and I had reward dollars!

And how great is this bracelet? Wearing gold jewelery? No problem! Silver? No problem! Everything goes with this piece from Ruth Barzel, and I love that it’s rock and roll while still being elegant. I’ve been wearing this bracelet a ton lately (check my Instagram for proof), I like it mixed with other bracelets, but with such a bold dress, I felt it looked best all by itself.

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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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Contest: Tolani Scarf from chickdowntown.com

jessica alba tolani scarfTo celebrate me coming back to work and to blogging, I have a great contest for you readers!

One of you can win a Tolani scarf that has been seen on the likes of Jessica Alba (pictured), Sienna Miller, Vanessa Minnillo (pictured), Halle Berry and Mary-Kate Olsen.

The Tolani scarf is courtesy of chickdowntown.com, an awesome site that sells hip women’s designer clothing from the likes of Black Halo, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Diane Von Fürstenberg and Vera Wang Lavender Label.

I am so excited, because you KNOW I love scarves, and these beauts from Tolani are fabulous!

vanessa minnillo tolani scarfHow to enter:
Send an email to mywardrobetoday@gmail.com with the word “TOLANI” in the subject.
In the body of the email, please provide your name and mailing address (I promise these addresses will only go to me – except for the winner, and will be deleted once the contest is over). Winner will be chosen by random.

Contest ends Friday, March 20th, 2009 at midnight ET. Winner will be contacted by email. Scarf will be mailed out from chickdowntown.com. Sorry international readers, but the contest is only open to those in the United States.

Get to know chickdowntown.com:
Facebook (friend “shop chickdowntown” and/or become a fan of the chickdowntown page)
Twitter (twitter.com/chickdowntown)
YouTube (chickdowntownTV.com or youtube.com/chickdowntowntv)

Good luck!

Wednesday


Black cashmere tank from Banana Republic, black ponte jacket from Banana Republic Outlet, Chinese red shantung skirt from Banana Republic (definite theme here!), leopard peeptoe heels from BCBGirls, gold necklace from Express, gold bangles from Ralph Lauren.

Hair was washed and conditioned, dried with my Croc wet-to-dry iron. No products.’

Makeup is L’Oreal True Match concealer in W1-3, Benefit’s That Gal, philosophy The Supernatural in Beige, Nars blush in Orgasm, Revlon ColorStay shadow quad in Neutral Khakis – ivory over whole lid. Lashes curled, two coats Cover Girl Lash Blast and one of Imju Fiberwig. Maybelline Ultraliner in black on top lash line and on lips is some Revlon Shiny Sheers in a sheer red that I left at home by accident so do not have to read the label.

I am not really sure what is going on with the layout of my posts; I have not done anything different so it must be that Blogger is being stupid again.

This outfit is inspired by Catie’s contest at Cuffington. This outfit makes me fabulous inside… though notsomuch when I walk past my reflection in a window. I adore this skirt, it is so much fun and the color is awesome. The cashmere tank is really thick and I have had it for years and got it for like $10 on the clearance rack. Jacket has given me many miles and I love its versatility and the shoes… oh I love these shoes so much I have two pairs of them! All that is missing is my silver cuff, this great green ring I bought at a Ren Fest and my wedding tiara and I would be wearing almost all my favorite things! :) Too bad this skirt isn’t the most flattering (the one my husband says makes me look like Mimi from Drew Carey) or I would wear it every week! :)

Thursday

Black stretch v-neck from Banana Republic, white twill cuffed cropped pants from Casual Corner, black leather thong heeled sandals from Mossimo, multiple skinny silver bangles from Ann Taylor Loft, black leather and silver necklace from Chico’s.

Hair is weird. In the shower I was considering loose messy waves and the front feathered out. Yeah, I watched Jessica Simpson’s stupid new video and was slightly inspired. So I added Frizz-Ease Dream Curls Spray, blew hair straight letting it do as it pleased, twisting some pieces. It ended up looking damaged and gross. I continued blowing, using a paddle brush, that made some difference. I then blew the front with a round boar bristle brush and then applied bioSilk so it didn’t look as much like straw…. not my best hair day.

Makeup is L’Oreal True match foundation in C3, MAC Studio Stick concealer, Physician’s Formula Magical Mosaics bronzer for color and powder, a bit of Nars Orgasm blush. Eyes is the ivory shadow from Revlon’s ColorStay Neutral shadow quad, then The Body Shop’s 08 (Granite) in the lids and along the lash line. lashes curled via Shu Eumura and two coats of L’Oreal Voluminous mascara in black applied. On lips is Sally Hansen’s diamond lipgloss in a hot pink (the label with the name fell off).

Friday Favorite: The Body Shop Satsuma Shower Gel

body shop satsuma shower gel

From fall 2001 to the beginning of 20014, I was a trainer for The Body Shop stores. After many years in apparel and merchandising I desired a change. I was making a concerted effort to get out of debt, and it would be easier without temptation around me and the need to be dressed in the latest and greatest (hello all-black dress code!). And it worked, I not only got out of debt, but I learned a lot about skincare and ingredients, how to be profitable and philanthropic at the same time, and finally how to properly apply eye shadow!

When I worked for The Body Shop back in the early oughts, we would burn fragrance oils in an aroma jar at the front entrance. I learned quickly that a blend of Satsuma and Exotic oils would bring in customers from all over the mall, and it would be easy to sell them a jar, bag of candles, those two oils and much more. After two and a half years with the company I couldn’t stand the smell of Exotic but I never tired of Satsuma. After leaving the company I’d still buy the shower gel and glycerin soap bars. It’s a sweet orange scent that doesn’t get weird, isn’t too fruity or pungent, and is a nice pick-me-up in the morning. But with time I forgot about Satsuma and moved on to new brands and different scents.

When my arm broke, I realized simple things like squeezing shower gel onto a pouf or washcloth were nearly impossible. I went on a hunt for spray and pump products that could be used with one hand and came back to The Body Shop. I ordered a bottle of Satsuma shower gel… and I don’t think I’ll go back to any other bath products!

Not only do I love the clementine scent, I love how it doesn’t dry my skin. It doesn’t scent my skin, so no competing with perfume or lotions but it does scent the main floor after a hot bath or shower. Even Karl uses it! A little goes a long way; I bought a 25 oz. bottle in February and just hit the bottom of the label and that includes all the times I indulged in very bubbly baths. While it’s a perfect summer scent, I know I’ll love it in the colder months too. A little bit of sunshine with every shower or bath!

My Wardrobe Today – Tuesday

Black Knit Moto Jacket – Gap (no longer available online but you may find in their stores in black or gray)
Black Ponte Dress with Exposed Back Zipper – LOFT (no longer available online which is a shame because I LOVE LOVE LOVE this dress!)
Belt – Ann Taylor (bought a couple years ago)
Black Patent Mary Janes – Nine West (see below)


Shop your closet, folks. Shop your closet!

I have been spending this week doing a hardcore closet clean-out.  I dumped everything out of my bureau and only put back that which I like.  I made one bag of things to donate, and one bag of things to put on eBay.  Now I am working on my closet.  I took everything out that is too small, too big, too ugly, too worn.  There’s a pile of items to repair, and then I added to my two bags.

I am putting all my shoes in boxes on the shelf, because the floor of the closet it a bit of a No Mans Land. My dogs sometimes like to take a nap in there, my husband uses it as a place to throw things and close the door when people come over, I often find Emerson’s books and toys hidden in corners… anyway it’s a bad place to keep shoes. I opened each box to ensure the shoes inside match the label on the outside… and found these shoes!

Long-time readers may remember them. I saw them at Nordstrom a couple years ago and HAD TO HAVE THEM. They only had them in 7. I ordered them, and they were far too small. I started searching online for these shoes from another retailer and found then for half the price of Nordstrom, but only in an 8. I ordered them anyway… and they were too big. I think I wore them twice, both times bad experiences with rubbing, blisters, and carefully shuffling from Metro to office. After that, I shoved them in the box, stuck them in the back of the closet and figured I would eventually put them on eBay.

Well last night I found them and tried them on… and now they fit! Not only do they fit, they are pretty comfy! I am so excited because on my shopping list I had a pair of patent Mary Janes. Granted, I wanted all black with a pointy toe and a slimmer heel, but these are pretty stellar. I had a stranger stop me on the street and ask me who made my shoes and two coworkers said they are “Fierce.” Hooray!

Tonight I hope to finish the closet and this weekend hope to tackle the attic. After that I will be posting even more stuff on eBay – check it out!

The Return of an Old Friend

I guess everything does come back in style if you wait long enough.

Anyone remember Generra? Hot brand of the 1980s most famous for creating the much loved Hypercolor shirts. I remember Generra well; my family was too poor for name brands and I found a yellow canvas pullover with lots of grommets and drawstrings and New Wave embellishments at a yard sale for 75 cents. Though yellow has never been my color and the top was at least two sizes too big, I wore that thing every week because I owned a popular label.

Generra, Outback Red, Benneton, Esprit, Guess?, Forenza… brands that were as much a necessity to a young girl in the 80s as a Liz Claiborne purse and matching wallet. How is it that brands like these that were such a hot commodity ended up being fodder for discount superstores and cheesy mail order fashion catalogs? Who decides when a brand is hot, or when it is not?

Many of these oldies yet goodies have tried to make a comeback. Heck it works for hair bands, why not for the clothes that complimented the Aqua Net? Gloria Vanderbilt and Jordache had their fifteen minutes of fame a couple of seasons ago. We saw the return of jelly shoes, clear vinyl bags, high waists, neon colors, even mullets.

But Generra? They aren’t having just fifteen minutes of campy fame. They are back, and they are far better than ever. Every hot boutique online and in town has a few of their pieces, there is even an in-store Generra boutique at Henri Bendel. This isn’t a flash in the pan, Generra has slowing been taking over the past couple of years, being seen on the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Hudson, Alexandra and Theodora Richards and also having their moment at New York Fashion Week 2007.

I like it when brands make a comeback. I may not purchase Lacoste, Burberry, Generra or Le Tigre, but I admire their tenacity and impressive marketing skills. I find Generra’s new line to be a bit too utilitarian for my tastes, both in cut and color; but am excited to see an old friend back up on the runway. Now I just need to dig through my mom’s attic to see if I can find that yellow canvas pullover with the grommets…