Search Results for: label/gap

Giveaway: Gap Skimmer Jeans – Save and Win!

Last week I featured the new Gap Skimmer Jean and how incredibly versatile and adorable it is. Many of you were interested in trying the Skimmer for yourself, well now’s your chance! From February 21 – 27, 2013, try the New Skimmer and get $20 off! When you try the New Skimmer at any Gap store, you’ll get an automatic $20 off any regular-priced pair.  What a fab promotion, I’m thinking I may have to grab a pair of their camo-print skimmers for spring!

Want even more encouragement to try these awesome new jeans? One Wardrobe Oxygen reader will win a $50 AmEx gift card that you could use to buy your Gap Skimmers!

How to Enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Gap Skimmers: Versatile Style for Now and Spring

I recently visited Gap and felt like a kid in a candy store. Adorable jackets, tons of stripes (we all know how I adore stripes), and fun jeans including their new Women’s Skimmer. Named because they skim the ankles as well as the body from waist to hem. I’m pleasantly surprised by how flattering the Skimmers are on my curvy frame. I tried on several variations and fell for the 1969 Dot Always Skinny Skimmer. I immediately thought of the outfit possibilities!

Jacket: Gap | Scarf: Ann Taylor (similar) | Shoes: Nine West (similar)

Sweatshirt: Alo | Shoes: Lands’ End (similar)

Jacket: Vince Camuto | Tee: Canvas Lands’ End (similar) | Necklaces: eBay | Shoes: Target (similar)

Sweater: Lands’ End via Gwynnie Bee | Shoes: Jessica Simpson (similar) | Cuff: Gap (similar)


The Skimmers are adorable with a sweatshirt and flats for weekends, or a slouchy sweater and platform heels for a night with the girls. For work I paired with Gap’s Striped Twill Zip Jacket, and for play the Skimmers are fab with an ivory blazer and bold gold necklaces. I can’t wait to style them for spring!


While I did receive compensation for this post, all opinions and text are my own.

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Open Letter to GAP (warning: LONG)

Dear Gap:

Do know I love you, and I have loved you for a very long time. When I turned 16 I headed to my nearby Super Gap (think it was a precursor to Old Navy) and turned in a job application. You never called (maybe because I was 16 and had no experience?) but it didn’t change my love for you.

One of the first outfits I recall purchasing was from that same Super Gap. Emerald green tee-shirt hiked up with a brown leather belt at the hips, an emerald and navy plaid cotton drop-waist skirt that puffed out quite nicely. My sister had a similar look in pink.

I still have that forest-green v-neck sweater I bought for my high school boyfriend Shaun (that is not Shaun in the picture). Remember it, with the wide stripes of navy, gray and ivory at the neck? It was 1992 and very preppy in a cool way. We broke up around Thanksgiving and I was secretly grateful for then I could keep the sweater for myself.

How about that pewter shantung a-line wrap skirt I found on the clearance rack for $9.99? The snap was missing but was otherwise perfect. I paired it with a black silk twinset and black ballet flats and felt like Audrey Hepburn. That skirt is sitting in my attic waiting for the moment when I again fit into a size 10.

Gosh, I am still sporting my forest green hoodie with the half-zip neckline that I got in 6th grade. Then it was paired with leggings and puffy socks, but now it goes with me on every camping trip and it thrown on every sick day. Other than the torn seam at the pocket, it looks almost brand new.

I did denim cheat a few times in high school and college. Guess, Calvin Klein and Express were shiny and attractive, but you were the one that always fit me best. You were always who I went running to when the others were too tight/too loose/too trendy.

After college my body became more… feminine and it seemed that the only store that accommodated my curves was you. I found jeans that were not only the right rise on my petite frame, but the right length to let me wear heels without either tripping over the hem or have my ankle bones show. Oh the original Lowrise Bootcut… I kept my first pair for two years after they tore at the crotch in some hope that the Denim Fairy would come and make them whole.

But Gap, you started betraying me. You modified the Lowrise Bootcut, making the denim stiffer and the legs slimmer. Don’t you know by now that I have “athletic” thighs? I still bought them, but instead of a custom fit, I had to do squats each morning to get them to be comfortable. It made me feel… the way Express started making me feel at the beginning of the new millennium: used… and fat. Then you discontinued the Lowrise Bootcut all together. Why, Gap? Why?

On one of those increasingly more rare occasions, I had the pleasure to work with a salesperson who was A. knowledgeable about your line, and B. helpful. She suggested I try your new Curvy line of denim, suggesting the Curvy Bootcut as a decent alternative to the Lowrise. The denim wasn’t as refined, the color not as hip, the fit not as exquisite, but it was good enough that I could again own a pair of jeans and not show my thong each time I sat or fear that my “athletic” thighs would bust a seam. I purchased a pair and wore them regularly, the denim molding to my figure with each wash and wear.

After a season of wear, my Curvy Bootcut was looking a bit ragged and the trends were heading toward more indigo of territory. I returned to you, hoping for a replacement pair. Yet again, you betrayed me by discontinuing this line as well! I tried every style in your store, finding them all to be built for someone else – a woman with skinny legs, no curve to her belly, and no junk in her trunk. When you chose to bring back this line, yet again it was altered to no longer fit a REAL curvy body.

What happened? Did I go to sleep and wake up to a world of stick-people? I looked around me and saw the same women as before – curvy, soft, natural and in desperate need of a decent-fitting pair of jeans. Beautiful women in jeans way past their prime – waistbands above the belly button, tapered ankles, dated stonewashed hues. Gorgeous ladies with muffin tops, exposed ankle bones, exposed undergarments and suffering legs in binding denim. Women who are clinging to old pairs because nothing current fits. Women who have succumbed to denim built for plastic mannequins and not human beings. Women with NEEDS.

Last year I was in San Francisco, your stomping grounds. My job had me visit your hallowed halls and I even ate in your cafeteria and sat on your terrace and admired your view. I felt as though I was Home. I met one of your bigwigs and together we went to your flagship store to go shopping. I, a curvy petite brunette and she, a leggy blonde scoured all the many floors of your store for new fall jeans. On a whim, I picked up a pair of your denim trousers and in a size 12 Regular no less (at the time I was a solid 14 Petite). You know what? The FIT! For the first time since my affair with the Lowrise Bootcut a pair of your denim fit me as though they were made for my body. It didn’t hurt things to know I comfortably slid into a size smaller too. I left the fitting room to find that Leggy Blonde had also fallen for your denim trousers. The magic was back – your ability to dress all women and make us all feel great about our figures.

I wore the heck out of those denim trousers. I would hang them dry and iron them to press a crease down the front. I got rid of all my not-quite-right denim, slipping into the trousers at least once a week, of not more. Each time I wore them, I got compliments on the style, the color, and questions as to whether I had lost weight. I glowed; I had that look of love.

Even with careful maintenance, my denim trousers started to falter. The color began to fade, the hem began to fray, the fabric between the thighs started showing signs of much wear. I went to your website to buy a replacement pair but they were no longer available. I ordered an alternative and returned them before even trying them on – I could tell in the package that they wouldn’t flatter. The denim was too stiff, the slash pockets would bulge from my curves, the waistband would probably dig into me when I was sitting.

A couple weeks ago, I came back to you. You had updated your website and I eagerly logged on to see your fall collection. Your denim selection was extensive, but I didn’t see anything that was quite right… the straight leg trouser jean. No slash or patch pockets in front, no flap pockets in back. A clean look and a delectable color and finish. A worthy replacement to my San Fran pair, almost exactly like the original. I ordered them in haste and waited with bated breath for their arrival.

Finally, they arrived. They were even more beautiful in person. I put them on… and they fit well. Not as well as San Fran, but not too shabby. I liked the 2007 details – the detail on the back pockets, the tab waistband, the dark grainy wash.

Today I decided to finally wear them. I looked in the mirror and was pleased with the reflection.

I drove to work, and when I got out of my car, the tab waist unsnapped (there is an inner button, then an exterior snap for the waistband). Maybe I moved weird; I re-snapped the pants and walked to the building.

The pants unsnapped twice on the walk to the building and once in the elevator. As soon as I stood up from my desk chair to retrieve a document from the printer, my pants unsnapped again, having the denim tab stick straight out from my waist through the denim, making this wardrobe malfunction obvious to everyone around me. I used my document to cover my waist and rushed back to my desk, searching my purse for a safety pin. All I had was one of those little gold ones that attaches tags to garments. I attempted to use it to hold my pants together, but your denim was too strong and the pin bent and collapsed under the weight.

I was angry and could not wait to get home and throw these pants back in the box and send them back. Then I went to the local grocery to grab lunch. I was walking from my car, walking carefully and with perfect posture to keep the pants intact. I saw my friend Megan who was grabbing a drink from Starbucks. “Look at you Al, have you lost weight?”

Oh Gap, how you toy with my mind and heart. You KNOW I am a sucker for the weightloss compliment. I followed Megan to Starbucks and we chatted, your jeans staying snapped the whole time. Walked back to the car, jeans still on good behavior. Then walking back to the office building, and you unsnapped. TWICE.

You know what the problem is? These jeans were not made for a tummy. No tummy at ALL. If I suck in my stomach and have perfect posture, the jeans stay relatively intact. But if I move, walk, BREATHE they unsnap. A quarter of an inch more on the tab, and these jeans would have worked for a woman with a six-pack or with a bit of softness to her shape. But noooo…. Yet again you have betrayed the softer sex and made jeans that have us believe there is something wrong with US.

Gap, I know you haven’t been doing well financially and I would hate to see you go. I think of many great outfits in my past, and most had at least one Gap garment in it. But if you don’t stop and see the population of this country, you will fade away. You have Old Navy for the cheap basics and trendy pieces. Banana is great for the young professional and elegant staples for many ages. And you? You should be a guaranteed spot for great jeans, well-made tee shirts and a bunch of fun pieces to jazz up a wardrobe of staples. The last hoodie I got from you had two seams fray in the wash. My newest denim skirt faded after one round in the washing machine, and the new scoop-necked tees I got from you in a Large are too big and the Medium are like bodysuits. Your chance for survival is not going to be based upon white shirts by Doo.Ri, the European Collection (which I have tried many pieces and found them all to be cheap and weirdly made/styled) but from being reliable. You need to be a standard for American women (and women around the globe), but now you are a place I see many females walk right past in the mall to head to J. Crew, Eddie Bauer, Levis or a department store. No, you can’t compete with the high-end designer denim, but you still have a chance to hold onto your title as American Fashion Mecca. Just remember who it is you’re actually trying to dress. Your mannequins aren’t the ones with the money.

Love,
Allie

Recent Purchases: Hits and Misses

I’m slowly filling in holes in my wardrobe. Though I lost some weight from Whole30 I am still not the same shape and size I was last winter so I need to do a bit of purchasing. I’m also noticing how some of my “classic” items aren’t all that classic. For example, Monday morning I was wearing a cream sweater (see below) with cream trousers and thought brown shoes would be perfect. I went up on a shelf in my closet to pull out my “classic” brown suede booties and realized they have a hidden platform, a weird chunky toe that points up a bit, and the brown is very reddish (these are the booties I’m describing). Yep, they’ll be on eBay before the month is through! Anyway, below are items I have recently tried, some I have loved and kept and others that didn’t make the cut:

Halogen Zip Detail Leather Moto Jacket

Halogen Zip Detail Leather Moto Jacket

I have a green leather jacket, a blue leather jacket, and a fake leather jacket but I really want a black leather one that is a classic fit, classic cut, and can be something I wear for a long time. In high school I had a black biker jacket, I wore it all four years and into college. I still have it, but it’s a very dated silhouette and I’d like a simpler version. This jacket from Halogen appealed to me because there weren’t any funky details, it’s under $300 for real leather, and it comes in petite. A big issue with previously purchased jackets is the sleeves are too long (or with the faux leather, it has bracelet sleeves which makes it hard to wear with long sleeved clothes, and well, faux leather isn’t very warm).

The jacket is well made, and like all the other Halogen leather pieces I own, very soft. This isn’t a classic biker jacket with the notched collar, but with a moto snap collar and then the wide placket to be able to zip up the jacket. The details are subtle so it’s a piece that will stand the test of time. A petite large fit me nicely, and I am usually a generous 12 or slim 14 in coats and need bust space. The sleeves weren’t too tight with a lightweight sweater, and the lining was soft against bare skin.

But I returned it. I didn’t LOVE it, and honestly, it looks so similar to my green leather jacket. It’s a little too polished for what I want; right now I want something that can wear a bit, dress up maybe with a midi skirt, but mainly be what I throw on with a tee shirt and jeans. While this is a great price for a high quality leather jacket, I am still looking for the right one for me.

Halogen Varsity Pleat Skirt

Halogen ‘Varsity’ Pleat Skirt

During the Nordstrom Anniversary I purchased this skirt to replace this skirt from Hinge that I wore to DEATH last winter. Yeah, no. The skirt emphasized everything I’d like not emphasized and I realized it’s because the flare is right from the waist. So I returned it and decided to try this skirt from Halogen; the pleats start lower and are better managed (no belly pleating).

This skirt runs small. I purchased a 12 (my normal size in Halogen) and regular (more length for work) and I could hardly pull it over my rear and I couldn’t zip it more than an inch. Oh, and the description doesn’t mention that it’s textured, like a mini waffle weave.

The Vince Camuto Notch Collar Cape is so odd I had to share multiple photos

Vince Camuto Notch Collar Cape

I briefly mentioned this cape in this post, but think it deserves a proper review, especially since I wrote a review over a week ago on Nordstrom and it has yet to be published, and because other Wardrobe Oxygen readers mentioned the same issue with it.

While I own a lot of Vince Camuto and think they’re a great choice to wear runway-inspired trends without spending a ton, they sometimes go too cheap or get a trend completely wrong. This is one of those times. The cape is made out of a suiting-like material (and a cheap scratchy suit at that) and lined only in acetate; this isn’t outerwear but more like a weirdly shaped blazer. And it is weirdly shaped; I ordered a Large and it was huge on me, I looked as though I was in the Talking Heads. On the models the button seems to be near their navels, on me it was closer to my crotch; buttoned the collar gaped and looked cheap and unbuttoned it tented out. The armholes were very low down, I couldn’t get my hands out unless my arms were bent, and then only the first half of my forearms. No way could I reach the pockets. Mega fail.

LOFT Custom Stretch Trouser Pants Marisa Fit

LOFT Custom Stretch Trouser Pants – Marisa Fit

I now own two pairs of these pants. I wore them here in black, and now I also own navy. These pants are the perfect work pant. You can machine wash them (I line dry, I hang by the legs, making a crease and a clean look by matching the seams to one another and using the weight of the pant to make the legs taut), they’re stretchy, yet hold their shape all day and through multiple wears, look professional/pair nicely with blazers, and the lack of lining does make them not as polished but more comfortable for business casual offices. Though they have belt loops, the waistband is very flat so it doesn’t look bulky under fitted knits. The pockets are ridiculous, I can’t even fit a credit card in them but again, no bulk. I purchased the 14 petite and they are a comfortable fit and comfortable length with mid-height heels. The Marisa Fit is best for me because while I have a booty, I don’t have a very hourglass shape. The Julie Fit of these pants is better for curvy frames, and the Zoe Fit is great for straight shapes with smaller booties; they all come in Regular, Petite, and Tall. All this and under $80 (and then LOFT is always having some sort of promotion!).

lands end lofty sweater

Lands’ End 3/4-sleeve Lofty Blend Cable Pullover Sweater

I thought I ordered a Large, I ordered a Medium. It fit, but it fit too well to the point of looking dated.  I think if I exchanged it for Large Petite I’d like it better.  This sweater is very soft, perfect for those who can’t deal with wool and scratchier fabrics. The knit is tight so no need for an under layer for modesty. It looks expensive and elegant, a classic. This sweater would look nice with jeans, but I think can dress up and look quite lovely with a button-front shirt underneath, or paired with a pencil skirt or work trousers. However, I mentioned this sweater in my post where I was looking for a fisherman sweater and this sweater is NOT that. This is a tailored, ladylike sweater. A great sweater, but you won’t be mistaken for Ernest Hemingway in it for sure!

lands end drifter sweater

Lands’ End 3/4-sleeve Button-back Cable Boatneck Drifter Sweater

Gotta love it when the sale item is the one you like best! I cheated a bit with this sweater, I had borrowed the lavender version of it from Gwynnie Bee this summer. From Gwynnie Bee, I ordered a Large and it was a bit too heavy and boxy for me. However, in cream I thought a Large would be quite Hemingway-esque. But like the other Lands’ End sweater I seemed to flake out and ordered a Medium (what I wear in Lands’ End for most knits and dresses). When it first came I thought it was too fitted to accomplish my goal, but I tried it with different items in my wardrobe and decided this size is more flattering and versatile. I wore it this weekend sightseeing with my Gap Real Straights rolled like boyfriend jeans and my Converse Shorelines and as mentioned above, wore it to work with cream tropical wool trousers and booties. I’ve styled this sweater at home with my pleated leather skirt and also like it over a denim shirt. It has a boatneck and gold buttons in back which makes it look a bit more expensive and special than a traditional cable, but may limit your styling. At the time of writing this, there were still lots of sizes available in Petite, Regular, and Plus.

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MICHAEL Michael Kors Faux Wrap Maxi Dress

This is not something I needed, but per my post Wednesday, something I bought to hopefully wear to a wedding.  I really wanted this in blue but it was out of stock so I ordered it in black, 12 Petite. I ordered for the wedding, but thought the fabric and style would make it year-round wearable and versatile enough to dress up and down.  Glad I ordered petite because this dress is LONG! Like even in petite I’d need to wear heels to not have a train long. And that’s not where the fail ended for me. The sleeves are a weird length (longer on me than in the photo) that look too casual for the rest of the dress (and tight too), the neckline was so low I’d have to pin to hide my bra, and the wrapping in the middle added bulk instead of flattering my curves.  A plus is that it fit nicely in the torso and over my hips and rear; the fabric is opaque and heavy enough to not cling.  I’m glad I didn’t get the blue because I may have fallen in love so much with the color I would ignore the faults in the dress.  I think this dress would look far better on someone who is taller, and I think it’s made for a woman with her curves below the waist; some hips would really make the skirt flow nicely.

So now I want to hear from you, have you purchased anything lately that is phenomenal? Anything so awful fellow readers should get a warning? I learn so much from all of you, I’d love to know what’s on your radar!

What I Wore: Style Meets Comfort [Sponsored]

wardrobe oxygen what i wore payless stylemeetscomfort Wardrobe Oxygen What I Wore #Payless #StyleMeetsComfort Wardrobe Oxygen What I Wore #StyleMeetsComfort Payless
Jacket: LOFT (similar) | Tee: Ann Taylor (similar) | Jeans: Gap | Bag: c/o Handbag Heaven | Shoes: Comfort Plus by Predictions ‘Karmen’ available at Payless

Many of you ask me to recommend footwear brands that offer comfort and style at a reasonable pricepoint. So when Payless ShoeSource contacted me regarding their comfort line, I knew I had to review it for you!

Comfort Plus by Predictions and Dexflex Comfort are Payless lines of shoes that come in regular and wide sizes 5 to 13. With memory foam insoles and flexible outsoles, these shoes are uber comfortable for walking and standing all day. When I visited my nearby Payless location I was really impressed by how these lines incorporate popular fall fashion trends. From pointed toes to leopard print, classic oxfords to booties and “shooties,” one can find on-trend shoes for work and play. I chose the ‘Karmen’ round-toe pump in wine, a hot color this season. The suede-like finish looks great peeking out of suiting trousers, paired with work dresses, but for this post I chose to dress them down with boyfriend jeans.

The shoes really are as comfortable as they claim. I wore them one day to work and found them comfortable enough to take a brisk walk of a few blocks on my lunch hour and didn’t get any blisters, rubbing, or hot spots. Standing was also comfortable; I got stuck standing the majority of my Metro commute home and wasn’t shifting my weight the whole trip like I usually do. All this comfort, seasonally-appropriate style, and less than $30! I’m glad to find Payless as a source for budget-friendly comfort shoes!

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

What I Wore: Buffalo Girl

Wardrobe Oxygen What I Wore Plaid and Leather Wardrobe Oxygen What I Wore Leather and Plaid Wardrobe Oxygen
Shirt: Gap (on sale!) | Skirt: Halogen (this year’s version) | Shoes: Miss Sixty (similar) | Bracelet: Rebecca Minkoff (similar) | Bag: Isabella Fiore via MYHABIT | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

I could have just called this post “A Few of my Favorite Things!” I’m such a sucker for plaid flannel shirts, it’s the college grunge Eddie Vedder obsessed gal inside still getting her sartorial moment in the sun. This skirt I’ve had for a few years now and love it; I’ll wear it now with bare legs and come winter I’ll wear it with tights as I did here last winter. These shoes… well if you’ve been reading for a while you know I’ve been rocking them (and replacement pairs) since 2010, first seen in this post. The bag is a new purchase I mentioned here and adore, and oversized Ray-Ban aviators have become my signature sunglasses (and Karl’s too, we share pairs!).

What I Wore: Mom Style

wardrobe oxygen what I wore weekend style gap ann taylor wardrobe oxygen what i wore duo boots

wardrobe oxygen what i wore ann taylor cashmere poncho

Poncho: Ann Taylor | Tee: J. Crew Factory (similar) | Jeans: Gap | Boots: c/o DUO Boots | Bag: c/o Fossil (similar) | Bracelet: CC Skye (similar)

It’s starting to feel like fall, so I HAD to whip out this poncho from Ann Taylor and my tall boots! While I’ll miss summer, I do enjoy fall fashion and it’s been great to sleep with the windows open and add an extra quilt to the bed!

This poncho was a splurge, but as I said in this post, it’s a classic that will look great for many years. I knew I’d wear it in a casual manner like this for errands and weekend “Mom Style,” but also think it would look elegant in the office over blouses and trousers. I was excited to see these boots match this bag from Fossil; I haven’t featured it on the blog since this post but am really feeling brown leather this season.  The bag is big enough to carry everything I need for a weekend on the go!

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What I Wore: Air Flow

wardrobe oxygen what I Wore Gap Real Straight Jeans Karen Kane Messh Top Nine West Pumps wardrobe oxygen what I Wore Rough Tumble bag Ray Ban Aviators Nine West Flax wardrobe oxygen what I wore Gap Real Straight Jeans Karen Kane Top Rough Tumble Bag

Mesh top: c/o Karen by Karen Kane (similar) | Tank: c/o J.Jill | Jeans: Gap | Shoes: Nine West (similar) | Bag: Rough & Tumble | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban | Bracelet: Had forever (similar) | Lipstick: MaryKay ‘Mystic Plum’

If you follow me on Instagram you know I wore this look to work Friday. Karen Kane was sweet enough to send me this awesome mesh sweatshirt this spring but then the whole cast situation made it impossible to wear. Once the cast came off this was one of the first long-sleeved tops I made sure to wear.  The jeans are the ones from Gap I mentioned in this post; after some weird years I find Gap to again be a destination for quality but reasonably priced denim.

And this bag I continue to adore; no need to buy a trendy brand name to enjoy high quality and style.  I found Rough & Tumble on Etsy and am thrilled to see they are growing, now with an e-commerce site.  A woman-owned business with everything made here in the USA?  Yes please!

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Today’s History Lesson – Old Navy and Me

SuperGap was the pioneer outlet store – a cheaper version of the famous Gap brand, it sold lower-priced versions of their wardrobe staples and irregular and damaged pieces from the classic Gap stores. Growing up in middle-class America, our first stop for back to school shopping was at the nearby SuperGap, getting “name brand” clothing for a reasonable price. If it weren’t for SuperGap, my 6th grade and on wardrobe would consist of poorly-thought out fashions from Bradlees’ located just a mile down Greenbelt Road.

The nearby strip mall had a SuperGap. As soon as I turned 16, I turned in an employment application there, in hopes to get a job there and a discount on high school must-haves – jeans, hoodies, rugby shirts and ragg socks. I was never called for an interview but my friend Wendy, who had previous experience at Sears did get a job there.

SuperGap eventually changed to Gap Warehouse and carried less factory-store items and more irregulars and returns from the traditional Gap locations in the fancier malls. Hours were spent after school, pouring through rounders and racks for jeans and sweatshirts that fit and didn’t have obvious garment flaws.

A few years later (1993, the same year I graduated from high school), SuperGap shut down, but opened up at the end of the same strip mall, with the new name – Denim Supply Company, a brand name under the new Gap Warehouse subsidiary of Gap. Wendy by now was an Assistant Manager and I was able to get the lowdown on the change. Supposedly Gap was doing an experiment in a select few markets – this lower-end Gap that had their own brand, own label, own line of clothing. Not a Factory Store, a separate entity added to the Gap brand.

From a 1993 article in the New York Times:

In an internal memo, the company said the “Gap Warehouse collection was created specifically to improve the productivity of 48 of our current Gap stores ‘which have been an undervalued asset in our company,’ says Mickey Drexler, president of Gap Inc.”

Analysts said the new merchandising strategy was a good way for Gap to compete with other purveyors of basic merchandise without eroding the image of its Gap brand.

For more than a year, Gap stores have marked down prices of their basic merchandise to compete with the department stores and discounters that have begun selling their own versions of Gap staples: T-shirts and blue jeans.

[The Gap is] confronted with the question of whether they’re doing basics or whether they’re doing fashion,” said Heidi R. Steinberg, a retail analyst at Lehman Brothers. “If they stick with basics at Gap, then they’re competing with Wal-Mart and Target, where you can buy Fruit of the Loom all-cotton T-shirts for half the price they are at the Gap.”

“Gap Warehouse clothing will be priced lower than Gap brand clothes because the company is using manufacturing techniques and fabrics that are less expensive. Athletic Department sweats, for example, are 59 percent polyester and 41 percent cotton, while Gap sweats are 100 percent cotton. T-shirts are double-stitched instead of triple-stitched, and there is less detail over all, analysts said.

The company, based in San Francisco, said the new line was not likely to cannibalize the sales of Gap brand clothing because it would appeal to a different type of customer. Robert F. Buchanan, a retail analyst for Alex. Brown & Sons, said mass merchants like Wal-Mart and Kmart were gaining a bigger share of the market for basic clothes, and their customers were different from those who have shopped at the Gap.

“The Gap already has two types of customers: those who shop its store at full price, and those who are looking for sale items,” he said. “There’s a third customer who hasn’t shopped there, and that’s where a lot of the basics business is going.”

A few years later, it seems this experiment worked for Denim Supply Company/Gap Warehouse as that this location (and all others across the county) shut down and a few months later, right next to the old SuperGap location (which was now an H&R Block) they opened an Old Navy, which exists to this day.

Old Navy fit the feeling of the time – the grunge era, where it was cool to not spend money on clothing; where fashion came from thrift stores and not from higher-priced specialty and department stores.

Named after a bar the Gap CEO visited in Paris; Old Navy Clothing Co. was the new member of the Gap company (though the original name was going to be Elevator, Monorail or Forklift, to evoke the industrial bare-bones concept of the store). Unlike lower-priced peers like Sears and Kmart, Old Navy combined cost-affordable apparel with great ambiance – loud popular music, quirky ad campaigns and colorful store décor within a warehouse-inspired core. Old Navys were put in lower-rent strip malls (like my nearby Greenway Center) instead of higher-cost malls to help keep prices low and target the appropriate customer – the customer who also shops Wal-Mart, Kmart and Toys R Us. They also did it by taking the staples of Father Gap, but recreated them with cheaper materials, stitching and fabrication (a CNN Money article from 1996 quotes an Old Navy customer as noting that denim shirts from Old Navy are only washed once before selling, versus Gap shirts being washed three times. This difference ensured consistent color in Gap shirts, but a far lower cost to create the Old Navy version).

Years later, we forget when Gap Warehouse ended and Old Navy began. Old Navy, like Target and Starbucks has become a standard in the culture, language and lifestyle of Americans. What was a random experiment by The Gap in attempt to revive slumping sales has become a necessity in the wardrobe of all income levels and ages of our society. I mean, who these days doesn’t own at least a tee shirt or pair of lounge pants from Old Navy?

In honor of my favorite discount fashion Mecca, here are a few links about Old Navy that may interest you:

Sarah Conley from StyleIT reviews the Plus Sized holiday line (cashmere anyone?) on the site Coutorture.

I know I Googled to find out after seeing it the first time… didn’t like Old Navy’s sweater commercial, but fell in love with the song. It’s “The Way I Am” by Ingrid Michaelson (saw an interview with Ingrid on VH1 and no, she didn’t get any free sweaters for having her song in the ad).


Bronwyn from Mommy and Maven reviews the pieces from Old Navy that she encountered on her latest jaunt to the store.


Anyone recognize the cute brunette in this Old Navy commercial? It’s Vanessa Hudgens in her pre-High School Musical days.


Want to know what thought process goes behind Old Navy’s packaging? The DieLine interviews Jason Rosenberg, Senior Packaging Designer for Old Navy about the new packaging he created for the men’s and boy’s divisions.

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!

A Minty Miss – My Experience with StyleMint and JewelMint

If you follow fashion and beauty bloggers, I’m sure you have heard of JewelMint, StyleMint, and ShoeMint. These are celebrity-sponsored sites that offer a monthly “showroom” of pieces based upon your personal style.

You start by filling out a survey of your personal style – are you more Zara or J. Crew? If you’re getting a pedicure would you rather read InStyle or Cosmo? From this, the Mint site decides what from their collection is most appropriate to your taste and creates your custom showroom. The collection is updated each month, so you have new pieces to choose from.

The idea is fabulous – jewelry designed by Kate Bosworth and her stylish friend, shoes picked for you by Rachel Bilson, tees via the Olsen twins (and skincare via Jessica Simpson, though I won’t be discussing BeautyMint site in this article).

All of these sites are subscription sites – once you make your first purchase, your credit card is on file and you will be charged every month. You have the first five days of the month to dash to their site to say “skip this month” or else you will be charged the monthly cost ($29.99 for Style and JewelMint, $79.99 for ShoeMint).

Last year, I won a “gift certificate” to JewelMint. I had a devil of a time trying to figure out how to use it, and realized in essence it was just a free credit for the site. I went to the site, and wasn’t too impressed with the options – my skin doesn’t react well to rings not made of silver or platinum, I am not really an earring person, and I don’t like delicate necklaces. However, they had a green pendant on a longer gold chain that looked promising.

My JewelMint necklace

The necklace came quite quickly, and I was impressed with the packaging. A glossy mint green box with magnetic closure, the necklace was carefully displayed on a velvet-covered foam box insert. The packaging was so pretty and luxe, I felt I was getting an item from a high-end designer. Then I opened the box… and was underwhelmed. The necklace was… fine. The quality was average to below average – lightweight, a weird color of gold that looks fake even from several feet away, an odd length of chain. A stylish friend said it looked like a piece from Forever 21 and I had to agree.

My JewelMint bracelet

JewelMint has a referral program – get others to join with your custom URL and you get free credits towards more jewelry. I ended up acquiring four credits in 2011. Each month I would go to JewelMint to use my credits, and leave with nothing. Seriously, I could get free jewelry and couldn’t find a single thing I would actually wear. Last month I saw a gold link bracelet that looked promising and used a credit towards it. Again, the piece arrived very quickly, and in quite luxe packaging. And again the piece is underwhelming. While this bracelet is a better color of gold, it’s still lightweight, simplistic and should cost less than $29.99. I have heard from friends and fellow bloggers that pieces have turned their skin green and have broken in just a couple months’ time.

Even with my less-than-awesome experience with JewelMint, I was curious about StyleMint. I respect Mary Kate and Ashley’s personal style and taste. Also,the blogger A Girl in Boston had the StyleMint “Venice” tee and I liked how it looked on her. I also got an email from StyleMint for a discount on my first purchase so I decided to give the site a go.

Based on the size chart on StyleMint, I got a size 5/XL. With my shoulder, arms, and bust I usually err on the side of too big with tees to get a flattering and work-appropriate fit. While I felt the cut of the “Venice” tee would be cute with jeans on weekends, I was also hoping to wear it sucked into pencil skirts for an office-worthy ensemble.

As with JewelMint, the purchase arrived quickly and was wrapped with care. At first glance, the tee looked pretty nice – a soft lightweight knit that had a luxe, silky finish. Unlike cheapy big box retailer tees, there was care to have the stripes line up at seams. I liked the neckline – a slim hem that would look appropriate with a blazer or for casual wear.

The other night I tried on my tee… and it was huge. HUGE. The sleeves were so long they went past my fingertips, the neckline gaped and displayed a bra strap, and the swing cut made it look like a maternity piece. With all these Mint sites, returns are accepted but it cannot be worn, washed, must be in its original packaging, you need to contact them for a shipping label, and while shipping is free there is a $5.95 restocking fee.

I looked at the label – 100% cotton (though online it says 50% cotton, 50% modal), though it said to wash on gentle and lie flat to dry. I decided to throw it in the washing machine and dryer in hopes it would shrink. It did – not a lot, but enough to make it wearable. I was pleased to see that the color did not fade, and the knit held up nicely through the machines.

Me in the StyleMint “Venice” tee

Yesterday I wore this tee, and I like it… okay. It’s a beautiful color scheme, and a unique silhouette, but I don’t know if it’s really worth it for a tee sight-unseen, especially with the return process. The swing style is a bit too short to be flattering on most – even my sister agreed that a couple more inches would make the style more wearable (able to tuck in), and more flattering. It’s nothing dramatically awesome, and by looking at this month’s options, I don’t really know if any of them are. While the price is reasonable for a designer brand tee shirt, I don’t really consider StyleMint to be a designer brand, just associated with designers/style icons.  I would rank the quality and style to a store like Gap or LOFT.

These Mint sites are great if you have a pretty standard size or personal style and crave something new each month. However, they can quickly become expensive if you aren’t quick to manage your memberships. Unless you tell them otherwise by the 5th, these sites will charge your card each month, whether or not you purchase anything.

The cancellation process for these different sites vary – for StyleMint you need to call them during business hours, for JewelMint you can send them an email. I sent an email today and within a couple of hours, they replied saying it had been done. I was pleased to find it so simple, no attempt at wooing me back with discount codes, just a cancellation notice and request to rate the customer service experience.

I have not tried ShoeMint because I am a hard-to-fit person. I know certain brands fit me best, and prefer to have the ability to try the shoe on in the store.


Have you joined any of these Mint sites? What are your experiences with the product or the service?

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Woman Cannot Live on Ribbed Tanks Alone…

I went shopping this weekend with my sister, and a bit by myself. I was not nearly as successful as I had hoped to be….

Mall #1:

  • Black ribbed tank, Caslon (Nordstrom – got one last year and it has held up amazingly well)
  • Gray ribbed tank, Caslon (Nordstrom)
  • Pair of black Hanky Panky thongs (Nordstrom – love these, they are sexy and comfortable and durable!)
  • Coral surplice-front sleeveless top, Banana Republic (I think I will return it; my sister loved it on me, I like the color but I don’t LOVE me in it… hanging in the closet right now with the receipt safety-pinned to the label)
  • Other Attempts:
    • I did try on some of the new BCBG collection and was impressed with the cut, though they still do not cater to a large bust (tried on a Pucci-inspired dress in black, white and turquoise and the synthetic fabric went sheer over my bust due to the straining of the fabric).
    • I tried the David Khan jeans because they had them in Petite at Nordstrom and I do like them very much, but I didn’t want to lie down with them and then marry them and possibly bear children with them. I need to feel this for jeans that are over $150. I could date them for a long while, but I didn’t feel the PASSION… I shall keep looking!
    • A floral baby-doll top at Torrid. Oh gosh, please remind me to NEVER try on anything with elastic at the armholes! So bad on me!

Old Navy:

  • Coral ribbed tank
  • White ribbed tank
  • Camouflage-print Bermuda shorts (in a size 10! Love that vanity sizing at old Navy!)
  • Other Attempts:
    • The sundresses in the ads that are under $30 but now on sale for $24? Yeah, buy them only if you have short legs, small boobs and a wide torso. The dresses were too short for my 5’3” frame, no room made for breasts, and you could see the underwire, connector between the underwire and most of the cup of my bra in the Large and the XL wouldn’t stay on my shoulders, it was so wide in shape.
    • The linen Bermudas are super cute, but run super small. So small, I just couldn’t fathom going up 1-2 sizes for a comfortable and flattering fit.
    • Sorry, Old Navy tanks are just not as nice as the Caslon ones. Their color selection right now SUCKS, but I am a sucker for coral and my J. Crew white ribbed tank should be burned.
    • There are a TON of dresses in Old Navy right now, made to fit a taller person with smaller breasts. There is a sleeveless v-neck fine jersey one that comes in black, brown, coral and leaf green. It is a gorgeous dress that could work for work, play, a beach cover-up or even a wedding. If you are over 5’5” I encourage you to check it out; I believe it’s under $30. There are knit ones with adjustable spaghetti straps that are also quite lovely (I almost bought the gray one but decided it was too revealing in the bust area).
    • Dark denim cuffed jeans – They fit, they were dark with the selvage… they hit at the WORST place on my leg… right at the top of my very wide calf. These jeans made me look as though I had gained 30 pounds all below the belt. So bad.


Mall #2 on Lunch Break Today:

  • Coconut Body Butter and Body Scrub, the Body Shop (I was out, I had received a gift and didn’t want it so made an exchange).
  • Coral scoop-necked longer tee, Gap (um, yes I already own this same very tee but it was $6.99 and I accidentally put my current one in the dryer making it not as crisp so I felt it was a good purchase).
  • Hibiscus zip-up heavy canvas/fleece hoodie with a distressed look, Gap (I do not own a single hoodie and wish for one for brisk mornings walking the dog, camping trips, bumming around the house. It was $12.99 and a pretty color and a good fit).
  • Black stretch twill trousers, Caslon (Nordstrom – petites section, they are $68, unlined, come in olive and brown and beige and black. They had white in regular length and if I find them in Petite will snag them. They are a perfect length for me even with heels, they hug the butt in a “look at my new thinner butt!” way and not in a “I am a hoochie mama!” way. They are begging to be ironed with a nice crisp crease down the front, and they do not need to be dry cleaned so I am looking forward to them being a new pair of work pants (with a jacket or hip-length top) or weekend pants (with anything… looked cute even with my ribbed tank and necklace in the fitting room!). These pants were not on the Nordstrom website this weekend; they have a very wide waistband with double hook-and-eye and a button.
  • Other Attempts:
    • All of Ann Taylor is navy. This sucks, because I do not own navy pants, nor navy shoes. I refuse to buy navy or brown in large quantities for the need to adjust my shoes and accessory wardrobe to accommodate the colors. Long ago I decided my neutrals would be black, white, stone, cream and gray. For these, I have shoes. I will not go into debt for a beautiful navy printed silk top, and I do not like camel or tan shoes on me.
    • Gap has what looks like dark denim cutoff shorts at around Bermuda length. Oh no, they are culottes. They are not gauchos, they are culottes. They are AWFUL and made me giggle in the fitting room. I would like to see them be flattering on SOMEONE. Not fit, not seem hip, but actually be FLATTERING. I can’t imagine it.

American Apparel Website:

  • The scoop-necked ribbed tees I wore the heck out of last summer, though this summer I invested only in the royal blue and the bright orange.
  • Other Alternatives:
    • Nothing. Everything else on that site is a bit strange or slutty. Almost bought a pair of legwarmers but thought better of it.

J.Crew Website:

  • Bright light green tissue-weight merino boatneck sweater
  • Bright orange/coral v-neck Egyptian Cotton sweater
  • Pair of jeans… will see if they look good.
  • Other Alternatives:
    • Nothing really. Not to impressed so far this season.

Things I am Jonesing For Now That I Have Ventured to a Mall:

  • Pretty much the entire catalog I received from Athleta. I love this catalog! It makes me want to go rock climbing or something.
  • A white wrap shirt with stretch that will fit nicely over my bust (no cami, maybe a small safety pin, a nice clean look).
  • Dark jeans with a real strong crease down the front and some stretch
  • A fabulous pair of peep-toe wedges that make people gasp with jealousy and desire.
  • A crisp green scent of perfume… considering the new Chanel Chance Eau Fraiche as that I have worn Chance in the winter and loved it.
  • A longer top, sorta hippie, sorta sheer, maybe white with embroidery. Tried a close attempt of this idea on at Gap, but it had such a low v-front it would need a cami… not too wearable in humid Eastern Seaboard summers. I want to wear it with jeans and sandals.
  • A new pair of comfy black shoes that can be worn for photography shoots, wedding coordination and not make me look dorky.
  • A new black synthetic cami that hugs the body (not cotton)
  • A big skinny pair of silver hoops
  • Some new yoga pants and maybe a top that isn’t an old fitted tee. This is something I now do 4-6 times a week, I want to treat my dedication with something better than old faded sweats.
  • A crinkled linen dress, preferably with a surplice neck, empire waist, in khaki or black or indigo… something that can be worn with heeled sandals and a necklace for a summer wedding, made work-appropriate, or fine with flops for dinner at the beach.
  • White stretch twill pants with a clean straight leg and a nice crease down the front. Heck, if there is a matching blazer I’ll snag that too!

Amazing how a trip to the mall can totally transform your ideas! I will take your lsit of makeup suggestions this week to a lunch-break Sephora venture!

Tuesday and Shopping Update

Sorry for pics before my hair was dry.  Running a bit late today, and with this humidity, my hair was still a bit damp even by time I got to the office!

 Now it’s all full and beachy waves and goes far better with the dress.

Dress: LOFT, picked up during their Friends & Family event last week
Belt: Vintage
Shoes: Sofft
Bracelet: Twisted Silver

I actually bought quite a lot of stuff from Ann Taylor & Ann Taylor LOFT for their Friends & Family event.  And all is going back except this dress (which I honestly think will look better next week when I’m not all PMS-y bloated).

What I got from LOFT:
Petite Abstract Waves Woven Dress – This is the dress I am wearing.  I have to say if I didn’t have the F&F discount and a store credit, this dress wouldn’t be worth it.  It’s polyester, and that weird textured crepe polyester that from far away may look like silk but once you touch it you know it’s synthetic something.  Super super simple pattern, no fancy details.  The waist is elasticized and covered with a black grosgrain ribbon which on its own looks very much as though something is missing.  The dress has side pockets which is what made me consider returning this dress – the pockets make the sides stick out a bit weird, and make it look as though it’s junk in my trunk and not extra fabric.  I may use Stitch Witchery to close them up.

However I kept this dress because it’s lightweight, it’s summery, I know it will look better if I lose weight or bloat, and my husband told me I look hot in it. :)

Petite Flutter Silk Dress – I saw this in several magazines and thought it looked gorgeous.  Also thought it could be a nice red wardrobe replacement for my “secretary dress.” 

First, the dress doesn’t flutter.  It’s packed so those ruffles lie completely flat.  Smooshed flat, and the ruffles have raw edges so it just looks as though the dress is inside-out.  I tried hanging the dress in the bathroom while I took a shower, thinking the steam may help flutter up the ruffles but no, they still looked awful.  Oh, and the dress is see-through, like could see the lace on my skin-colored bra.  And petite?  I actually had to double-check the label and packing slip because this “petite” dress hot me mid-calf.  FAIL.

Pleated Collar Shell – This doesn’t seem to be still in stock, and may be because it was on sale.  Anyway, it is a lightweight cotton voile (like my lovely JNY top), looked to have a deep notch v-neck with a multi-ruffled stand collar.  The color was called Poppy Red, which looked more like hibiscus or watermelon to me.

This was NOT petite but it fit like it.  Raised my hands and you could see my belly.  It fit nicely over the bust, but was tight over the midsection (when does THAT happen?).  The collar didn’t stand as well as I would like because the fabric was so soft.  And the neckline didn’t fall open so it looked like a high-necked shell with a deflated clown collar.  Another FAIL.

What I got from Ann Taylor:
Denim Pencil Skirt – At the time of my order, they didn’t have 14 petite in stock.  And after the skin-tight scary denim skirt I recently got from Gap, I was thinking maybe I should stick with 16.  No 16 petite.  So I ordered 16.

Yep, I am a 14 petite.  This skirt is far too big.  Even though I was swimming in this skirt, and even when I pulled it up to my ribcage it still hit below my knees, I knew it was a good choice.  So good I am going to exchange it.  The denim is heavy enough to not be clingy, but not so heavy that it looks stiff.  It has fantastic seaming that enhance a curvy figure, a tiny kickpleat, a gorgeous dark hue that looks like real denim, but is totally work appropriate.  I hate that my local Ann Taylor doesn’t offer petites over 12 in their shop, so I have to order online.  But I really think the 14 petite will be a great fit and just what I have been looking for.  WIN.

Petite Cotton/Silk Blouse - No longer online but it was on mondo sale at the time of Friends & Family.  Anyway, it is a gorgeous bright pink, is a non-stretchy cotton/silk blend shell with size zipper at the bottom side.  The scoopneck is trimmed with small stiff ruffles.  Fully lined.

If I wore suits on a regular basis, I would keep this top.  The neckline is super flattering, the color and fabric gorgeous, it fit well, slightly loose in the body but no bra showing under the arms and more of a conservative fit perfect for Corporate America.  However alone, it looked like a suiting shell.  It is seamed, very tailored, and I couldn’t make it look fun with trousers, skirts, or jeans.  Not a FAIL, but not an Allie WIN.

Coralized Micro CZ Pendant Necklace – The one I got is no longer online, but it’s sorta similar to this.  The one I got has a longer, thinner chain and is solid gold with little CZ dots, no mother of pearl in the center.  I think it’s a cute pendant, like the old brushed gold look, and can totally see it this fall with simple dresses and come winter it will be fab with a merino turtleneck and a pair of dark slim jeans.  the chain is adjustable, which is always a big plus with me.  I always have major success with Ann Taylor jewelry!

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.

A Proper Bra Fitting – My Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Me in my original bra

 
Me in the bra I purchased

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS is a strapless bra!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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!