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Guest Post at Already Pretty

I love Sally McGraw and her blog Already Pretty. She has an amazing sense of style, and gives wonderful advice that works for most any woman. If I lived closer to the Twin Cities, I would totally have her as my favorite shopping partner!

Sally asked me to do a guest post on her blog about pregnancy chic and I was happy to oblige, and honored to be considered. You can check out my post here!

Guest Post at Already Pretty

I love Sally McGraw and her blog Already Pretty. She has an amazing sense of style, and gives wonderful advice that works for most any woman. If I lived closer to the Twin Cities, I would totally have her as my favorite shopping partner!

Sally asked me to do a guest post on her blog about pregnancy chic and I was happy to oblige, and honored to be considered. You can check out my post here!

Guest Post: Drugstore Makeup Faves

By Lexa Lemieux

The past several months I have drastically revamped my makeup routine. I had been doing the same things for years. Unfortunately, the same old was not working for my changing face. At 33-years-old, I know I am far from old (my nose stud tends to agree!), but with the appearance of fine lines and some duller skin, I knew something needed to change.

Allie was one of the first bloggers that I ever got “hooked” on years ago and I am so happy to call her a friend. Of course, being my friend, she has had to hear about my revitalized makeup obsession. When she asked for a guest post, I knew exactly what I was going to write.

Money doesn’t grow on trees and bourbon doesn’t pay for itself, so I have really come to love drugstore cosmetics. They have changed so much over the past ten years and they are just as good as their high end cousins. I hope my obsession can keep a few extra bills in your pocket.

Primer: Rimmel Fix and Perfect Pro Primer keeps the slip sliding at bay and costs a fraction of the price of high end brands…and even some of its drugstore counterparts. Just make sure to grab the “Pro” version in Rimmel’s offering. It makes a difference. Trust me.

Eye Shadow Primer: I need to go with Rimmel again here. Their Exaggerate Undercover Shadow Primer gets the job done. All smooth, no slippage.

Foundation: Revlon ColorStay has true staying power and does not oxidize. No one wants the dreaded orange face hours after applying what looked like the perfect base.

Under Eye Concealer: Maybelline’s Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Concealer and Treatment is the best drugstore under eye concealer out there. With minimal creasing in fine lines and a brightening effect, I like it more than most of my high end options.

Concealer: Cover Girl & Olay Concealer Balm is great for breakouts, redness around the nose and other skin imperfections. Creamy without being sticky, it is suited for the job.

Setting Powder: Coty Airspun Loose Face Powder will likely kick your nostalgia into high gear, but the stuff has been around forever for a reason. I adore it. For best effect, I find applying it with a velour puff is a better option.

Brows: I prefer filling in lightly with a shadow instead of a pencil; Wet ‘n Wild (a really underrated brand that is not the junk of your teen years) is a good choice here. Just grab a matte shade that is a few shades lighter than your brow shade if you are a brunette or a few shades darker if you are fair haired. I then set my brows with Maybelline Great Lash Clear Mascara.

Liquid Eye Liner: I have been wearing black eyeliner since I was 13 years old. (Sorry, Mom.) Hands down, my most beloved brand at the drugstore is the L’Oreal Lineur Intense Felt Tip Liner in Black Mica. I was a Lancome disciple for years, but honestly? This may be better. The pen doesn’t try out as fast and the flow of the liquid is incredibly smooth.

Eyeliner Pencil: The NYX Retractable Eye Liner in Black doesn’t smudge, glides easily on the water line and doesn’t rub off on your lids. I am sold.

Mascara: The Maybelline Great Lash Lots of Lashes in Black is a new obsession. The key here is the get the “Lots of Lashes” version of this iconic product; the funky wand really helps volumize.

Eye Shadow: I have to admit that this is one area where I really find it pays to spend a little extra cash. I love to layer color and want highly blendable pigment. That being said, the Almay Intense I-Color Bold Nudes Kit is very, very good. Also, you don’t need to follow the suggestions of what one to use depending on your eye color like it is gospel. That is just a smart marketing gimmick.

Blush: Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso is ah-ma-zing. And…shhh…it is a perfect dupe for NARS Orgasm that may be a little better. It has a touch less shimmer so it is easier to avoid disco ball face.

Bronzer: The NYC Smooth Skin Bronzing Face Powder in Sunny is impossibly cheap and I was a real skeptic. I kept hearing over and over again that it was the way to go, though. Alas, this is the way to go. Warming, not orangey. Just a great product.

Highlight: I like to hit the apples of my cheeks and the bridge of my nose with a quick highlight for a glow; it tricks people into thinking I am not ready to drop over from exhaustion. I am a huge fan of the Revlon Highlighting Palette in Rose Glow.

Lipstick: I tend to do a more dramatic eye, so I go fairly understated and sheer on lipstick. I love the Rimmel by Kate Lasting Finish Matte Lipstick in 113 (a lightish nude color) a perfect shade.

Lipgloss: NYX. NYX. NYX. I am such a NYX lip gloss junkie. The NYX Mega Shine Lip Gloss in Beige (it is a pink color, which makes no sense) is a holy grail item for me.

Lexa Lemieux is a leather wearing, make up loving feminist living in Washington, DC. Her apartment and her life are equally messy but things are never boring. And yes, she did just say what you were thinking. You can find her on twitter, instagram and her neglected, but still loved by her, blog.

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Guest Post – Accessories for Fall/Winter

Hello all! I’m DWJ from The Art of Accessories and I’m so excited to be able to do a guest post for Wardrobe Oxygen and Allie! I thought we’d talk about a great accessories wardrobe because accessories really can be just what you need to inject new life into your closet without buying more clothes. Now a complete accessories wardrobe…that can be HUGE! So I thought I’d just narrow it down to what my favorite things to accessorize with for fall/winter are right now.

DWJ rocking black and colored tights

Black Tights: Black tights can instantly add more polish to ANYTHING in your closet. I’m serious. When in doubt, I pull on a pair of black tights with my skirt and black heels and I feel more chic. It’s also a great way to help stretch those summery dresses into fall. Add tights and a great cardigan and you’ve got layers to keep you warm and cozy when it’s chilly. My favorite are by Hue, they’re super dark and last for a few winters!

Colored and Textured Tights: I’m kind of in love with We Love Colors tights. They have a rainbow of colored tights to go with every mood and any outfit in my closet. Stuck in a rut with black dresses and skirt? Add a pop of royal blue with your tights. Love this season’s dark romantic floral print dresses? Add a dusty pink or burgundy tight to give your outfit an extra touch of romance. Textured tights help give a monochromatic outfit a bit more interest and colorful fishnets can give your date night outfit a bit more WOW factor.

A Fabulous Hat: I do not believe in being cold and if I don’t have a hat on I’m guaranteed to be shivering whenever I’m outside. Since the weather is getting chillier and your mother always said cover your head when it’s cold, I find a great hat is a must. Find one that you love and rock it! My personal favorite is the fedora. I actually bought a men’s fedora when I was in NYC and I think it is the coolest hat I’ve ever owned. I also keep a few stretchy tam style hats to throw in my purse and have on hand at all times. Plus, they’re great when you’re having a bad hair day.

Scarves: I’m all about scarves for adding a dose of color or glamour to an outfit. I go from camouflage to giraffe print throughout the winter because it perks up my winter coat and brightens up my day. I love a circle scarf, because then you don’t have to worry about it coming unraveled or getting caught on something. It instantly looks chic when you pull it on.

Image courtesy of La Mimi

Gloves: Every since I saw Confessions of a Shopaholic I’ve been obsessed with finding the perfect colorful leather glove. My favorite color is green, so ideally that’s what I want but I’d say go for a great contrasting color to your winter coat so the gloves really do stand out. I recently picked up a great hot pink leather pair at Marshalls for $16! You can’t beat a great deal on leather gloves.

A Great Winter Coat: Depending on your climate, you can spend a lot of time wearing your winter coat, so why not make it a good one? I try to not just stick with basic black or grey and go for a vibrant green, pink or yellow. Why? Because it makes me smile when I’m on a train filled with black coats and I’m wearing apple green. Winter can already be drab and dreary; don’t let your outerwear bring you down too.

Read more from DWJ at her blog, The Art of Accessories or follow her on Twitter (@theaofa).  
Thanks again DWJ for the guest post, and for reminding me to pull out my purple leather gloves – they really do make the season brighter and more stylish! 🙂

Guest Post – Committed to Consciousness – The Case for Ethical Fashion

One of the topics requested in the reader survey is tips for purchasing ethical fashion.  I’m still learning, so I reached out to my friend KC Sledd, a DC fashionista with a conscience to write a post on the subject.  I look forward to your comments on this post; also share if you have any specific questions or topics regarding ethical fashion you would like addressed in a future post.

committed to consciousness: the case for ethical fashion by KC Sledd for the blog Wardrobe OxygenIt’s not easy to be an informed consumer. In fact, it can be downright disheartening, particularly when it comes to something you love.

For example: Fashion. I lovingly sketched clothing designs in the margins in my notebooks as a child, I cried when I first touched Chanel, and my mother bought be a Marc Jacobs handbag for my 18th birthday because she knew it would complete me (it did).

I typically subscribed to the cost-per-wear principle, and frequently eschewed Forever 21 for after-Christmas sales at Saks; however, I still indulged in inexpensive impulse buys pulling at my wallet from J. Crew, H&M, Ann Taylor, and more. How could I turn down the siren call of $5 t-shirts or handfuls of wear-once sundresses for that weekend trip? Behind the giddy high of scoring a bargain, a tiny voice scratched at me, wondering how these clothes could be so cheap.

In April 2013, I found out.

Bangladesh has approximately 5,000 garment factories that employ more than 4.5 million people—80 percent of them are women. Many of these women come from rural villages and have little education, and earn around $37 a month.

On April 24, 2013, an eight-story garment factory called Rana Plaza collapsed on the outskirts of Dhaka, killing at least 400 people and injuring many more. It is the worst disaster in the history of the garment industry. Workers at this factory produced clothes for brands such as Primark, a British retailer, and Joe Fresh from Canada. Authorities warned that the building was unsafe, and factory owners responded by threatening to fire people who did not carry on working as usual. Almost 3,000 people, most of them female garment workers, are believed to have been in the complex when it suddenly came down.

I am a feminist and a shopper, social change in stilettos. My personal convictions, I realized, were at odds with the clothes on my back. As an advocate for women, I couldn’t support an industry that threatened them. And I certainly couldn’t feel good knowing that what I was wearing, stylish as it may be, came out of hurting someone else.

From then on, I committed to doing my best to support brands I could feel confident and positive about wearing. It’s not always easy, and I haven’t always succeeded, but that’s why I believe in conscious consumerism. If we can add a layer of knowledge, of understanding, of empathy, to our shopping we can be more confident feeling good and looking good in our clothes. And that truly is something to love.

Where can you turn when you’re looking to invest in your own ethically styled look? Here are a few of my favorite spots:

  • Zady: The leader in conscious consumerism, Zady exclusively retails “slow fashion” for men, women, and the home. Zady also recently launched its own in-house label of American-made, ethically sourced closet essentials.
  • Everlane: Best source for classic trousers and tops perfect for work AND made transparently in factories around the world. I live in their Ryan tees and button down shirts, and both my husband and mother have gotten Everlane cashmere sweaters for Christmas.
  • The Reformation: L.A.-based retailer known for super sexy dresses. They use deadstock, or vintage, fabric for beautiful gowns or grab-and-go weekend minis.
  • H&M: Including H&M might be controversial, but I believe in their commitment to the environment and ethical production as a company. The Conscious Collection reuses fabric and renewable materials. Bonus tip: Recycle any fabric (read: old clothes, socks, and dirty dishtowels) at your local H&M and they’ll give you a discount for your next purchase.
  • Verdalina: A Richmond, Virginia boutique with an expertly curated collection of eco-fashion goods.

KC Sledd - Guest post on Wardrobe Oxygen Committed to Consciousness - the Case for Ethical FashionKC Sledd is a mostly healthy blend of Peggy Olson, Olivia Pope, and Pepper Ann. She thinks about communications for a living and believes that every pair of black ankle boots is a special snowflake. She and her husband live in Washington, DC with their two cats. You can follow her on Twitter at @kcesledd.

Guest Post: How to Care for Sweaters and Knitwear

When I went to New York City this summer, I met Miriam Mades from the company AlterKnit New York. As someone who believes in quality over quantity and knowing that leading a great life sometimes means a wardrobe gets damaged, I was thrilled to learn about this company. Like me, they believe in quality, and preserving it. From replacing the torn lining in a suit jacket to reweaving a Missoni sweater so one could never tell there was a snag, Miriam and her team do it all and with extreme care and pride in their work. Many of you reach out to me asking how to care for certain garments; it made sense to get advice from the pros so I asked AlterKnit New York to share their tips on caring for knits.

Expert advice on how to care for and launder sweaters and knitwearAt AlterKnit New York, we take care of clothes every day coast to coast. After working on so many favorite pieces we have a lot of experience with damaged clothing. The most important thing we tell everyone is to CLEAN your clothes. Nothing is full proof but cleaning your clothes and then storing them properly, especially at the end of the season, will give you a good chance that your knits will remain hole free.  You have choices when it comes to cleaning. Wash on delicate in your machine, hand wash in the sink or send them to your dry cleaner. But PLEASE clean them- your clothes will thank you.

Do you wash everything by hand?

No. Somethings are suited for washing exclusively by hand. Others fare well in the machine. Some stuff we only dry clean. For sweaters we like to encourage a mix of hand washing and dry cleaning. But again, as long as you a re cleaning we are happy!

How should we store sweaters?

Please don’t hang them in your closet. The shoulders will start to get out of shape due to the stress points caused by the hanger. Plus the weight of the fiber can also stretch out the body length. Just fold them like you would a t- shirt. If you need to remove any creases you can gently steam them out with the low setting on your iron.

When the seasons change you can store them in a breathable sweater bag with some cedar blocks or sachets for extra good measure. We don’t like suffocating them in a plastic bin because we don’t have proof that this method works plus we can’t stand the smell that the bin leaves on the clothes.

Any other knit wear tips?

Get a fabric shaver. Removing pills will help your garments look new and also deter any proteins from lodging in the fibers—its the proteins that critters like moths and silverfish are attracted to.

You need to be careful with a shaver. Use them on a true flat surface…i.e. yes you should use your ironing board. It might be a pain to drag it out but it will less of a pain then the hole you could make by shaving on an uneven surface.

Finally, when you do a snag, pull or small hole…get it to us before the hole gets bigger. So many times we get huge costly repairs that could have been prevented if the garment had gotten to us sooner.

At the end of the season double check all your knits for holes. If you see any holes sooner rather than later is the best time for repair by a professional. After fixing so many holes, we know that the sweater that gets sent to us in November most likely had the holes in July. We know nobody wants to see feel or touch their cashmere fisherman sweater in the hot summer days but getting a head start of refreshing your wardrobe before the autumn season arrives will be worth it.

A note on fine knits.

We work on very fine gauge knits as well. Fine gauge knits are more delicate and often holes start as a snag or pull…like you would get on a pair of pantyhose. Plus, when its is warm out we tend to take fine gauges with us to places where the temperature will fluctuate. Like a night out at the movies or eating in a restaurant. Its easy to get these caught on jewelry or other accessories. So be extra careful with them. If you get a pull don’t worry we are here for you!

Shop the Post:

After meeting Miriam and learning more about AlterKnit New York, I know this to be a company I would trust with replacing the brittle lining in my dad’s Korean War flight jacket, to repair my grandmother’s baby blanket, or to take an expensive designer knit piece and make it look like new.  AlterKnit New York takes their time, chooses the best method to ensure the piece looks as perfect as possible.  They perform moth hole and snag repair, invisible mending, reweaving, heirloom restoration, restyling of pieces, alterations, and much more.  See examples here.  While they are based in New York, they have customers across the country and will provide you with a pre-addressed shipping label and maintain communication.  I was so impressed with this company, I asked them to write this piece.  I was not compensated for this post.

How To Dress After Losing Weight (Guest Post)

Yes, that’s right, occasionally we do something right with our lifestyles and lose 15 pounds, two dress sizes and reshape our bodies! This happened to me a few years ago when I quit smoking. Three months after I quit, I started doing aerobics twice a week, went on a semi-diet and lost 15 pounds, gained a waist for the first time in 10 years and have more or less kept it off through a pregnancy and various other life changes. I’ve also cut my hair from super-long to chin length, changed its color and am now over 40, the years when bodies begin to change in other ways and sometimes not for the better….. I’m stronger, healthier and more confident than ever before, and I would say it shows because of the clothes I wear.

Many ladies take large-size dressing down to their smaller size without success. You may see them out and about – clothes that may still fit somewhat around one part of the body but don’t fit well, hang baggily, are dated, may have been expensive when they were first purchased but are still held onto like security blankets. Excuses are made, closets are full of things you don’t want to wear, you stand for several minutes in front of the closet every morning trying to think of something that makes you look like the person y`ou now are. This post is how to emphasize your gains as well as your losses!

Michelle ObamaPick one body part you have worked hard to improve and emphasize it. Got great arms now due to weightlifting? There’s a reason Michelle Obama wears a lot of sleeveless items when being photographed, when most of us look 10 pound heavier! She works hard for those muscles and likes to wear things that emphasize that body part.

I started wearing wrap dresses, higher waists and really anything that defined a waist again. I used to have a lot of quasi-maternity style dresses – my sister and I call them “fitted and then vaaaaaague….” and those went to Goodwill almost immediately. Once I was asked all the time if I was pregnant, now it rarely happens.

Keep a close eye on proportion. One thing I discovered is that although I am petite and a size 10/11, I can look even thinner if the proportion is right. Wide-legged pants call for a sleeker top. Blousey top calls for a pencil-like or straight skirt, or narrower pants.

I will often wear a swing-style cropped suit jacket with a dark straight skirt, and it makes me look a lot taller. Being more fit means you can feel confident about being sleeker.

Great Fitting JeansShop for or tailor basics you need to replace first. One thing I see thinner people do a lot is to keep wearing their old jeans. That stiff fabric makes them look a lot heavier than they really are – it’s time to invest in either getting them tailored to fit you or new pairs. Same thing with suits – if you really really love it and it’s not dated, get it tailored.

Don’t forget the foundation garments. When you lost weight, did The Girls get smaller too? I even had to buy new panties! I didn’t lose so much weight that my shoe size changed, but for some of you this may be something you need to invest in! Lucky you! I do still need the control top tights in the winter, but it’s more so that they stay up rather than that I need the firmness per se. Although that never hurt anyone….

Kate Winslet Tailored DressTailored items make everyone look thinner. When we are heavier we wear a lot more stretch fabrics, and especially if you’ve lost inches, that stretch fabric hangs oddly and is ill-fitting. I had some great pairs of jersey pants and dresses that when I decided to ditch ’em, I replaced them with more tailored items. Not only was it a way to present a more professional image (I wanted to also advance my career with my new look), the additional seaming and pressed creases in the tailored pieces allowed me to make straight lines where I wanted them to be, and to be more polished overall.

So congratulations! You’ve worked hard to drop that weight, and every little bit counts. Whether it’s 10, 20 or 70 pounds, celebrate your accomplishment, your new life and your new body and rock it with the clothes you wear!

KayBug, guest blogger and avid Jazzerciser, cyclist and very occasional power walker/jogger on the dreaded treadmill.

Interested in being a guest blogger on Wardrobe Oxygen? Send me an email with your idea and your qualifications!

Guest Post: Which Necklace with Which Neckline?

Guest post by Rosana Vollmerhausen of DC Style Factory

which necklace with which neckline - styling tops and dresses right accessory by Wardrobe OxygenI gave a talk recently about necklaces and necklines. It’s a typical question we get here at DC Style Factory: Go long? Go choker? Go statement?

The easiest necklaces to wear with just about any neckline is a longer one. The length of the necklace clears any v, scoop, drape or boat neckline. Whether you decide to go longer or shorter, you don’t want your necklace bumping up against your neckline. So either select one that is about an ½ an inch to an inch above your neckline or one that drops under your neckline at least several inches.

Longer necklaces, much like v-neck tops, lengthen your neckline, which in general is more flattering. Chokers shorten your neckline, which sometimes can sometimes be a more challenging style to wear. If you are petite, pay attention to how long the long necklace goes. Right below the bustline is good – grazing your bellybutton is too long.

Here is quick, easy guide for selecting which necklaces go best with which neckline.

V-neck Top

Wear with:

what necklace v-neck top

Smaller drop/pendant necklace that flows into v of the top

Shop Smaller Drop and Pendant Necklaces:

what necklace v-neck top

Longer non-pendant necklace that clears the v of the top and flows with the draping.

Shop Long Non-Pendant Necklaces:

Pass on: Wearing with a choker, which shortens your neckline and counteracts to the lengthening effect of the v shape.


Wear with:

what necklace scoop neck top

A statement necklace that mimics the curved shape of the neckline covers expose neck/chest surface area.

Shop Statement Necklaces:

Pass on: A choker that will leave too much empty surface area and not cover enough neck/chest area.

Boatneck Top

Wear with:

what necklace boatneck top

what necklace boatneck top

A longer necklace, which draws attention up and down, and balances the high, horizontal neckline.

Shop Longer Necklaces:

Pass on: A choker/collar necklace that will bump up against with the neckline.  A statement necklace higher up on the neck that will grab and pull at the horizontal neckline.

Collared Button-down Shirt

Wear with:

what necklace button collared shirt

A statement necklace under the collar for a “brooch” effect.

what necklace button collared shirt

A statement under the shirt with some color peeking out.

Pass on: A long necklace that will compete with the vertical button placket on the shirt.


Wear with:

what necklace crewneck shirt

A longer necklace that lengthens your neckline since the high neckline of the crewneck top shortens it.

what necklace crewneck shirt

A statement necklace that “creates” a new, longer neckline. Select a statement necklace that covers the top of the crewneck.

Pass on: A collar necklace; it just further shortens your neckline.


Wear with:

what necklace strapless

A shorter statement necklace that leaves about 1/2 an inch of space between the necklace and the neckline, a longer necklace that clears the neckline, or the two together as pictured!

what necklace strapless

Another fun option is to wear with a collar necklace.

Shop Collar Necklaces:

There are a multitude of other necklines and variations on necklines, but just remember, you simply want the necklace you choose to make sense with the neckline of the top. If you are fussing with it too much or it just doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t. But selecting the right necklace can really make a difference in adding polish, personality and finish to your look. Happy accessorizing!

DC Style Factory is a personal styling and shopping business based in the Washington, D.C. area. The company creed is that style is for anyone who wants it – regardless of size, age or budget. Clients include high-profile experts in the public eye who need polish for television appearances and stay-at-home moms juggling carpool. Our job is to prepare them to look and feel good for different events in their lives no matter how big or small.

Stylist and owner, Rosana Vollmerhausen, has had more than a decade of fashion retail and styling experience, including owning, running and buying for an award-winning boutique in Washington,D.C. She has styled local fashion events and photo shoots, and has written expert fashion tips for local publications. Her true passion, though, is one-on-one work with clients, building wardrobes that make sense for where they are in their lives. As a wife and mother of three, she is a firm believer that you don’t have to sacrifice personal style because life is busy. If key wardrobe pieces make sense for who and where you are, personal style can be accessible to anyone who wants it.

Learn more about Rosana and DC Style Factory at or on the blog at

Guest Post: For The Love of Dressing

By Christen Kinard

As far back as I can remember, I have wanted to dress differently.

Wait. I take that back. For a brief period between the ages of ten and thirteen I wanted desperately to disappear. (Didn’t we all?)

But that anomaly aside, I have strived to set myself apart…sartorially speaking. As a child, I wanted nothing to do with a garment if it wasn’t pink and/or sparkly. My preference being “and,” of course. I wore heels in high school when everyone else wore sneakers. In college, I went through a monochromatic phase wherein I had a closetful of literal head-to-toe outfits in the exact same shade of red. I’m glad to say that phase has passed.

What hasn’t passed is my love of dressing. Not just of clothes. Anyone can love beautifully made clothes. Hell, one can even love poorly made clothes. My passion is dressing. The process by which I translate how I feel and who I want to be on any given day. And it does change. Frequently, in fact. A creative process of self-discovery and self-expression. Cheesy? Perhaps. But nonetheless true.

It is difficult, however, to truly set oneself apart when you purchase the same Gap dress, Banana Republic heels, and Nine West shoes as every other woman your age. You know you’re stuck in a rut when your colleague excitedly exclaims that she has that same cardigan and the same espadrilles!

Just out of college and new to the area, my shopping excursions were limited to malls and department stores. While I always found clothing to buy, I rarely found clothing to love. Since then, I have discovered the abundance of locally owned boutiques in this area.

I began swapping out my cotton cardigans for brocade tuxedo jackets. Pointed kitten heels and ballet flats for patent flatforms and asymmetrical booties. The little black dress for the not-so-little black dress. Granted, my style was bound to change as I aged. And of course, my closet is peppered with the occasional Nordstrom find. I’m pretty sure I even have a few Forever21 leftovers. But the heart of my wardrobe…the part that really says “me”…comes from these small businesses with carefully curated selections and invested owners. The same small businesses that helped me regain my vision, my inspiration, and my love of dressing. (So much so that I made it my career too.)

While the bulk of my shopping is done in the two-mile radius in which I live (also known as Old Town Alexandria), I have found a wealth of worthy boutiques everywhere from Middleburg to St. Michaels. We all get stuck in fashion ruts, and they can be difficult to climb out of. But consider paying a visit to the shop around the corner, even if parking is a little more difficult than at the mall. Your wardrobe will thank you.

Christen, also known as @LaRueNeuve, is the brains behind Alexandria Stylebook, a website which promotes local design, beauty and fashion. And as of April 1, she will be joining The Shoe Hive, a locally-owned shoes and accessories boutique, as manager and buyer.

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Guest Post: Music for a Neverending Winter

By This Is Our Jam

As it becomes later in March, we’re just SO over winter at this point — and we can only imagine that as a victim of black ice, Allie agrees with us! Doesn’t the universe know that it just needs to warm up and stay spring-like — and that a St. Patrick’s Day snow storm is just not okay?

In honor of Allie’s broken wrist, we’ve come up with a playlist to say “screw you!” to winter. Take a listen, and join us in our anti-snow dances. We’ll even take some of the DC area pollen in exchange for permanently warmer weather. And you know that’s desperation.

This Is Our Jam is the (mostly) musical brainchild of three friends who, once upon a time, changed their GChat statuses a lot. Krista, Kristen, and Stacey love to share music, YouTube gems, and other assorted thoughts with the world. Whether new music we’ve just discovered at a DC concert or old throwbacks from childhood, we have a lot of jams that we think the world should hear. We don’t define ourselves as a critical music blog (we leave all the detailed critiques and musical theory to musicality experts), but rather we aim to be an entertaining source for both finding new music and re-discovering songs and artists that may have gotten buried in your iTunes library.  Follow This Is Our Jam for tunes, assorted thoughts, and so much more online, on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

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Guest Post: Birchbox x Rent the Runway Georgetown Launch Event Recap


Birchbox’s new location, located on the bottom floor of Rent the Runway

Last Friday, Nov. 6, I had the opportunity of representing Wardrobe Oxygen at the grand opening of Birchbox in the Rent the Runway store in Georgetown. The event started at 9 a.m., so naturally, I got there way too early (8 a.m. in fact…), but fortunately, M Street has a great selection of stores, so I window shopped (and plotted my post-event trip to Georgetown Cupcake) to pass the time.

The event took place on the bottom floor of the Rent the Runway shop, and when I arrived, I was instantly greeted by every member of the Birchbox staff (they were so welcoming!). The main part of the event was the featured “Build Your Own Box” table, which allowed each guest to create a Birchbox of their own. I was amped – free stuff and food all before 10am?! Every college student’s dream.

Birchbox has a mission to help its subscribers find products that they love. Each month, subscribers receive deliveries of beauty or grooming samples, which are tailored based on your personal preferences. With this new store, customers are now able to physically select their options and subscribe to a Birchbox in person! This was definitely a change of pace from my past experiences with Birchbox. Growing up, my sister received a Birchbox subscription as a Christmas present, and I was always envious when she got her monthly box in the mail. Before long, I began commandeering the items she didn’t want, and eventually, my mom loved the idea of Birchbox so much that she got a subscription of her own! Looks like I’m the last Balimtas girl to jump on the bandwagon…

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Left to right: Stila Huge Extreme Lash Mascara, Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser, Madamia Weightless Moisture Leave-in Conditioner, I am Juicy Couture Perfume, and Esfoliante La Da Corpo Tocca Body Scrub!

At this kickoff event, each guest was able to pick an item from five different sections: hair, skin, makeup, fragrance, and body. My selections included samples of the Macadamia Professional™ Weightless Moisture Leave-In Conditioning Mist, the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser, the Stila Huge Extreme Lash Mascara, the Juicy Couture I Am Juicy Couture Eau de Parfum, and the TOCCA Esfoliante da Corpo Nourishing Body Scrub – Bianca. Not being that hip to a lot of these items, I was a little nervous at first. I’m the kind of gal who typically buys her cosmetics from the local Target or CVS, so having all of these brands in front of me was a little overwhelming. But, with the helpful hints from some of the Birchbox employees, I carefully made my selections, and so far, I’ve used each of the samples I picked out. And I adore all of them!

Now, to be perfectly honest, I’ve never really cared much for body scrub or skincare treatments besides the standard acne treatment and drug store body wash I use on a regular basis (can you tell I’m a little new to this game?). But after using the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser, I’ve discovered a whole new meaning to skincare. After just one use, my skin felt fresher, more exfoliated and rejuvenated. Immediately after, I yelled to my sorority sisters, “you guys, come try this stuff it’s life changing!” Needless to say, the sample size I received only a week ago is now gone.

The TOCCA Esfoliante da Corpo Nourishing Body Scrub – Bianca was also perfect for getting all of the dirt and grime off after a long day. Which is nice, especially after a rough week of classes. After a couple uses, I felt a noticeable difference between using this and the soap I use when I shower. And although I’ve mainly stuck to body sprays in the past, the Juicy Couture perfume was clean, feminine and lasted hours on end, which came in handy after running around in DC all morning! I may never go back to the standard body sprays I’ve been using for years and years. Looks like Birchbox may have changed me for good.


Me with my very first Birchbox! It really was the best day ever!

While I’m not a huge fan of body scrubs and lotions, I do take pride in my makeup and hair. The Stila Huge Extreme Lash Mascara was a nice change of pace for me, as I have generally stuck to other mascaras in the past. I was gifted with naturally long eyelashes (shout-out to my mom for that one), and this mascara really accentuates that quality! And while it gave me tremendous length on my lashes, it didn’t clump up, which allowed for a more natural finish.

And as someone who has very fine hair, I was elated to stumble upon the Weightless Moisture Leave-In Conditioning Mist. It made my hair feel softer and thicker, which is something that I’ve found hard to achieve with other hair care products. Also, it was an easy fix to regenerate my hair without showering. As someone who basically has every minute of her day scheduled, this was nice to spray quickly and then be out the door.

After browsing the Birchbox event for awhile, I had a few moments to ask some of the employees some questions, including the store manager, Anna Fraser. She mentioned that Birchbox and Rent the Runway originally partnered together because both began as e-commerce, but aspired to enter the retail world in stores. Birchbox currently has a year partnership with Rent the Runway and has since opened up stores in New York and Georgetown.

I loved having the opportunity to represent Wardrobe Oxygen at this event and give some insight on some of the products I received! This will definitely be a store I’ll be returning to, especially since it’s right by some other great shops on M Street. To learn even more about Birchbox or their new location in Georgetown, be sure to visit their website here.

Leyla Balimtas for Wardrobe Oxygen: Birchbox x Rent the Runway Georgetown Recap
Leyla Balimtas is a Junior Communications – Public Relations major at the University of Maryland College Park. She is the Vice President of Public Relations for the Gamma Theta chapter of Alpha Chi Omega, a tour guide with Maryland Images, and a member of the Science and Global Change Scholars program. Leyla is the Blog Assistant for Wardrobe Oxygen.

Guest Post – The DC Goodwill Fashionista

I am a huge fan of thrifting – it’s a great way to shop on a budget, and I have found some ridiculous fashion scores at thrift stores.  

My favorite thrift store chain is Goodwill – they do an amazing job at organizing their locations, the money goes to such a great cause, and we lucky DC-area folks have the DC Goodwill Fashionista – a blog that brings high style to thrifting, and offers many amazing promotions and events to support the cause and show how fashion is available at your local Goodwill. 

I asked the DCGF if she would be willing to share some of her “tricks of the trade” for a successful thrifting experience:

Even after all these years, I find myself decoding the great mysteries of the Goodwill experience to the uninitiated. Case in point, two days ago a friend of mine mentioned that she’d seen something about Goodwill posted on a social networking site. And how totally awesome it was that I wrote a fashion blog for them. And how they have a great mission. She practically leaped at the chance to say all of this to me, but then concluded that she personally never shopped there. Wait – huh?

Actually, this happens all the time. People love the work that Goodwill does in their community. They love to donate their gently used goods. And they love an opportunity to be a part of the fashion scene by reading the blog or joining the Facebook page. But when it comes to actual shopping in the stores…that’s a different matter entirely.

It’s not that my friend – and others like her – are afraid of resale items, or don’t live close to our stores. It’s that mostly they feel overwhelmed. Like my friend told me, “I think it would be fun to go in a Goodwill store, but I wouldn’t know where to start!” Aha! She feels overwhelmed by the selection and doesn’t know where to start. It’s a common problem for newbies. Ha.

I’ve given out some of this advice before, but it bears repeating. Hitting up a Goodwill or thrift store or garage sale, or really any place that merchandise isn’t arranged into rows of identical items in a variety of colors and sizes, can be a scary thought. That’s why I tell people these three tips to keep in their back pocket – literally, if needed! – in order to have a great experience when they shop second-hand for the first time:

1. Determine ahead of time which department(s) you want to visit. Although it’s fun to scour the whole store for that next treasure, take it easy on your first few trips. Identify ahead of time what you might want to purchase – say, a frying pan or a black dress – to help you zero in on that area. Our stores are easily labeled by departments to make it easy to find what you want. And if you don’t find what you’re looking for and you still feel like you want to browse for something else, go right ahead!

2. Be flexible in your expectations. If you go in saying that you only want to purchase a floor-length red sequin gown in a size 6 Petite, well, you might come out disappointed. Because we rely on donations to supply our stores, you never know what might be on the racks from day to day. Which means that particular dress might not be on the rack, but similar styles or colors or sizes are often available. On the flip side, there might be a dress so fabulous that you haven’t even imagined it yet!

3. Learn the best days of the week to shop. If you want the best selection of the freshest merchandise at your local Goodwill, chances are you’ll find it on Tuesday mornings. Why then? Well let me put it this way: the weekends are high-volume times for donations, but it takes a day or so to process all of them. Ergo, Tuesday mornings are the best! If you shopped the week before, but didn’t find what you were seeking, check back in on Tuesday for all of the new goods we’ve put on the floor.

I hope those tips encourage you to take your first trek to a Goodwill. And if you’re a seasoned shopper like me, it’s still always good to keep in mind the best times to shop, and to remind yourself that you never know what’s waiting on the racks and aisles! It’s an exciting adventure for me every time I step into one of our stores, and I hope these tips will help YOU to have many great experiences like that, too!

And for those savvy thrifters in the DC area, Goodwill is having a Sweetheart of a sale:

On Valentine’s Day, all donated goods (basically everything in the store) will be 50% off at the new Goodwill Retail Store located in Falls Church, VA (2936 Annandale Rd Falls Church, VA 22042).  How awesome is that?  Happy thrifting!!

Guest Post: Four Ways to Look Better in Photos Instantly

Guest post by Insana Collins

As a portrait photographer, it’s my job to make sure that the people I photograph look their very best. This means that every photo session becomes a mini lesson in taking better photos, and I encourage my customers to remember them for every photo they take in the future. Here are four ways that you can be better prepared for your next photo session.

1. Relax

Some people start off with the, “Do I look alright?” face, with body language to match. Sure, I’m over exaggerating by shrugging my shoulders in the photo below, but the point is: the camera can see how nervous you are about getting your picture taken. But if you relax as if you’re just talking to an old friend, your photos will look that much better. So how do you relax? Draw in a deep breath, and as you slowly let it out, your shoulders will drop. And bonus: your face will appear less tense.


2. Smile

Sounds obvious, right? Well, for starters, this is a tip mostly for men. Let us see those pearly whites! Check me out below: I’m in exactly the same good mood in both photos, but in the first image, you’d never be able to tell. I look like someone ate my sandwich. In the second image, I look like I got it back.


3. Turtle

Every person I’ve ever photographed is now familiar with this term and they remember exactly what to do in subsequent shoots when I holler, “Turtle!!” All it means is to push your face forward, like a turtle might. It increases the space between your jaw and your neck, which reduces chin fat and makes everyone on the planet appear thinner. Some people have naturally awesome jawlines (ie. models) but for the rest of us, we must remember to turtle. Push your face forward, then move your chin down, just a tad.


4. Angle your Body

This tip is for anyone who wants to look thinner in photos. When your photo is taken, your first instinct is to stand square towards the camera. But if you angle your body at 45 degrees, and turn your face back towards the camera, your waistline will appear thinner. Check out the images below. It may be subtle, but depending on the outfit, the lighting, patterns in your clothes, etc., it can make all the difference.


Guess what? Posting these tips has already got me thinking about Four More Ways to Look Better in Photos, so stayed tuned! If these tips have truly helped you look better in your photos, comment below, or send an email to

Insana Collins is an award-winning photographer and has been working as a photographer and writer in the DC area since 1999. She studied journalism at the University of Maryland at College Park and her specialties include portraits, weddings and events, and commercial photography. Clients include radio and TV personalities, realtors, business owners, musicians, newlywed couples, moms, dads, and children. She also mentors amateur photographers and teaches photography skills to local Boy Scouts.

Learn more about Insana Collins and see more of her work at or on the blog at

Guest Post: Redefining Personal Style through Friendship

By Erin Twitty Johnson

I spent a couple of years, in retail management, specializing in resale. There is a lot of freedom in your wardrobe when you work in resale. A lot. I stretched out into it. I met all that freedom right at the edge of crazy, and it felt like home.

And then.

I decided to take a job as a usability analyst. For the first time in a long time, I had to dress like a professional. And it was terrifying. I had become accustomed to dressing with no rules. I had to find a way to navigate my personal style in a direction that was work appropriate, but still felt true. Still felt like me. I have always felt I say a lot with my clothes, and I don’t like the idea of not saying what I mean.

I had no idea where to begin. I struggled to get dressed every day. I felt lost in my own closet. My husband encouraged me to move towards basics, but I hate basics, they have always seemed so boring. So I started nowhere. I made do with what I had, supplemented with a couple of blazers from Zara. And I thought about it. For a few months.

I started by simply taking a look around at my girlfriends and co-workers. What were they wearing? What did I like? Dislike? Who was consistently dressed in a way I found appealing? I narrowed the list down to three friends who always looked amazing, and chose to focus on them.

Jessi, Stevie and Vicki. Paying close attention to Stevie’s style was nothing new, to be honest. I have always paid close attention to what Stevie is wearing and copied as much of what she was doing as I could. I never even bothered to hide it. She just knows what she’s doing. She’s a rock and roll bohemian princess. She is amazing. She has evolved in our time together to become a much classier, high fashion version of the girl she was when we met. Her style would be the anchor. To bring the old into the new.

Jessi and Vicki though. They were something else. I started to watch what they were wearing. And something started to show up as a pattern. They were wearing basics. A lot of them. I liked what they were wearing, and on them, basics seemed wonderful. They served as building blocks, holding together outfits with amazing jackets, or show off shoes. And they were never boring.

But I had no idea how to translate what they were doing into my own closet. My husband and I went shopping several times, he pointed out basics and suggested things to try on. And I hated all of it. It was so defeating. I knew what I wanted but I didn’t want it.

And then we went to Zara. And something clicked. I found tees in shades of grey and black and they drape on them was so pretty I didn’t mind. And a blazer in dark grey jersey. I had found the thing that separates bad basics from good. Fit. I found great fitting tees at Zara and Everlane and stocked up.

My new go-to look consists of a black or white t-shirt, black ankle pants or dark wash denim, and a blazer or long cardigan. It sounds boring, I know, but the truth is that it just highlights all of my great shoes, jackets and jewelry. I can wear as many accessories as I want, and not look overdone. And it’s so easy and quick to get dressed in the AM now! I feel like myself again. And I owe it all to a few girlfriends and the joy of good basics.

Erin used to blog (and you may recognize her from my True Fashionista series), but now she takes selfies in the bathroom at work.  Follow her on Instagram!

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Guest Post: Dress Like You Mean It

By Alison Santighian

When we don’t feel well,…OK…when I don’t feel well, I want to hide. I want to bury my head under the covers, close my eyes, and not see a thing. I don’t want to lay eyes on anyone, let alone myself. Whether I’m under the weather physically, or whether I’m under a cloud of some kind, or even when I’m just plain old exhausted from life’s demands, well, I want to play ostrich.

Years ago, when I felt like that, and when life still called for me to show my unwilling face in public, I would rifle through my drawers and find my most comfortable and often baggiest, least flattering sweat suit-like garb. (My most frequent use of such clothing? Exam days in college. I mean, who would want to dress for success after an all-nighter?)

Yup, I was hiding. Ostriches, I’ve got you covered.

Then, way back in 1994, I spent a year abroad, studying at a German university. I was in full-on ostrich mode, having just lost my beloved grandmother, never mind being unseen in a place that didn’t care about fashion (yes, the Germans really can be that bad). To top it off, the university where I was claimed an especially anti-establishment bent, which meant anyone who tried to wear anything other than black and huge scarves was cast as “The Man.”
I was in ostrich heaven, wearing the most unflattering garments known to man. My boyfriend at the time, who didn’t even care for style particularly, told me I was frumpy. Or at least that my clothes were. I didn’t care (really, I swear I didn’t). I was wearing what I wanted to wear.

Then we broke up.

Needless to say, I went into full on ostrich mode, truly not caring what I looked like. Comfort and ease were the name of the game. I couldn’t even tell you, at this point, what any of those clothes were.

Then I met an Italian. From Rome.

One day, maybe I’ll tell the interwebs the rest of the story, but we’ll just focus on one thing here. L, in his Roman wisdom and his Italian eye, asked me one day why I was wearing what I was, and why I didn’t dress up a bit. Somehow, from L (vice from the previous Englishman), it was simply a logical question. I can even see where we were standing in my teeny little student’s “efficiency.” He proceeded to look through my clothes and find something for me to wear for dinner.

He picked out the best that I had: a blush cotton crewneck J. Crew sweater and a pair of most likely ill-fitting khakis. The ensemble probably washed me out to no end, and certainly didn’t flatter my 21 year old body with its beloved but boxy shape, but it was better than sweatpants.

From that day on until the day I left Germany, I dressed. I even dressed to travel home on the plane. Again, I had very little that was even remotely stylish, but it was what I had. When I got back to university in the States, too, I found myself dressing. No longer did I pull an all nighter, then go straight to class in my PJs. No longer did I hide, but rather, I dressed. I pulled myself together. I showered. I brushed my hair, and occasionally even put on makeup (I still default to makeupless, though).

When I needed to steel myself, whether because I was ill or because I’d procrastinated a paper, I pulled myself together. I found that I felt stronger, better, and more capable of taking on whatever lay ahead because I bothered.

Two decades, a husband, and two “beans” later, I still subscribe to what L taught me: instead of hiding, I put myself forward in the best way possible. Now, when I’m fighting a cold, I default to reliable, but polished, ensembles. I have a navy bracelet sleeve sweater that always makes me stand taller. I have a pair of mid-height patent blush pumps that go with everything and pull me together. I have a three-step makeup routine I can do in my office parking lot (translucent powder, sheer red lips, and mascara). I might not feel at my best, but because I feel presentable – and usually look acceptable to everyone but me – I can take on the world.

About Alison Santighian:

With my first DC Celine blog post in December 2005, it turns out I’m one of the pioneers of the DC fashion blogging scene. With writing and fashion being my love, and not my day job, I’m a mistress at balancing work and play. My husband and I don’t believe badass has an expiration date, so we hit concerts, shows, restaurants, and openings as often as we can. All of those, and two “Beans,” now 6.5 and 4, keep me running, but they don’t burn calories. In 2012, I decided to get healthy and strong, and started telling my “healthy me” story out loud on the interwebs, and it turns out people wanted to hear it. In 2013, Weight Watchers honored me with a short feature, “Losing in DC.” 2 years after starting to get control of my health, my relationships with food show up in my Instagram feed as much as fashion and my Beans do.

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Guest Post: Covered Style, Fashion in the Middle East

By Kim Kash

I live in Saudi Arabia, where Muslim women cover their hair (and sometimes their whole face except for their eyes) and wear loose-fitting, long garments.  I’m an American living on a very large, international compound where women do not have to cover. So I am hardly an expert on Saudi women’s fashion. However, I’ve been here for several years and spent plenty of time outside the compound covered up in what I call my “Invisibility Cloak.” Here, then, are my observations about Saudi women’s fashions.

First, a note: I’m talking here about women’s fashions when they are in public. In the U.S., women dress with the most care when they are going to be out and about. At home, likely as not, you’ll find us in sweatpants. In Saudi Arabia, women wear the cute stuff when they’re spending private time with family and friends, and cover it all up in public. The shopping malls are full of fun, young, sexy fashions—but you’ll never see a Saudi woman wearing any of that out on the street or even in offices or restaurants. So what I’m discussing here is the fashion that you see here on the street.

In much of the Muslim world, women are free to use lavish color and pattern to create their own signature look. However, in Saudi Arabia, women wear black abayas (think of a graduation gown or a choir robe). They cover their hair with a black hijab, which is the drape that goes over the head and under the chin so that the face is tightly framed. Some also wear a niqab, which veils the face and leaves just a small slit for the eyes.

One might think these women give up on making any kind of fashion statement. On the contrary; many Saudi women create their own distinctive style despite the monochromatic color scheme. Many do it with beautiful abayas, trimmed with Swarovski elements, beaded sleeves, sequins, and other very formal decoration. In Saudi Arabia, it is perfectly normal for a woman to wear an abaya with sparkly trim to the grocery store or the shopping mall. The sweep and drama of the long black cloak is very formal, and many women make good use of this.

In keeping with this formal look, many women wear very dressy, high-heeled shoes as their everyday footwear. (The shoes are also usually also in black). Alternatively, teenagers and younger women often choose surf and skate-inspired shoes to wear with jeans under their abayas. Interestingly, I haven’t often seen girls wearing overtly masculine-looking sneakers, such as Vans that are clearly styled for boys. Usually they are sporty but also bright and girly.

Statement-making designer handbags are the fashion accessory in Saudi Arabia, along with watches that cost as much as a compact car. At Moda Mall, the ultra-high-end shopping mall just over the causeway in Bahrain, shoppers with discerning taste and deep pockets can shop at Burberry, Breitling, Cartier, Dior, Dolce and Gabbana, Armani, Fendi, Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Rolex, Tiffany, Valentino, Van Cleef and Arpels, and Versace, to name only the most easily recognizable labels. As in the U.S. right now, many women carry very large purses with prominent designer labels.

Big, blingy, and black are the watch-words for savvy Middle Eastern sunglasses shoppers. A pair of oversized movie-star sunglasses really does look glamorous on a woman whose hair is swathed in a dramatic black scarf.

Under those sunglasses, a stylish Saudi woman’s face is often heavily and artfully made up. Few western women could pull off smoldering, dark eye makeup and false eyelashes in the office. Here a heavily made-up daytime look doesn’t even raise an eyebrow. So to speak. Nails are also often carefully and dramatically manicured.

There is a very distinctive, exotic scent that many have come to associate with the Middle East. Traditional perfume shops here sell “oud,” a scent derived from the Southeast Asian agarwood tree. Oud can be worn as a perfume (there are blends for men and for women) or burned in a special oud burner. Western perfumes are also popular here, and many women (men too) apply it liberally every day. Expensive designer perfumes, of course, are also popular. Then again, half an aisle at my local supermarket is given over to cheapie perfumes and colognes. Scent is so popular with young Saudi men that if they stopped selling Axe here, Unilever might go into a freefall.

Kim Kash is the author of Ocean City Lowdown: A Jamie August Novel (2013). She also wrote the bestselling Ocean City: A Guide to Maryland’s Seaside Resort (2009), and is currently writing the next installment in the Jamie August series. Kim divides her time between Maryland and the Middle East, working as a freelance writer for American and Middle Eastern clients. For fun, she cooks, travels, practices yoga, and climbs.

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Guest Post: Spring Essentials That Won’t Break the Bank

By Rosana Vollmerhausen

A question I often get from clients interviewing me is if I shop only at Saks and Nieman’s. The answer is… no and no. As a personal stylist/shopper, my clients are real people with jobs, families, busy lives and real-world budgets. Living and working in the DC area, even those clients that can afford to splurge, still want the most bang for their buck.

They recognize that how you present yourself to the world does matter — whether it is in business or off-duty. They know that looking and feeling good often go hand-in-hand. But they also know that it’s got to make sense in terms of time and money.

Even if I am shopping at a higher price point, there are still some wardrobe pieces I don’t advocate spending a fortune on (white t-shirt – I will never, ever spend more than $30 on a white t-shirt). And sometimes, your budget that season is just that — budget.

This spring, I am finding a myriad of affordable, well-made and on-trend options that will update and add “spring” to any wardrobe. Here are my picks for this season’s must-haves that won’t leave your budget in ruins.

The full midi skirt – Midi skirts are one of those trends that has been kind whispering from the fashion side stage for several seasons now. The frump factor was just too high for it to really break into the mainstream. It’s finally time though. Time to give the midi a day in court. To mitigate any potential frump, stick with pointy-toe, low-contrast shoe (metallic, nude, animal print) to elongate your leg line. Then prepare to enjoy a fun, feminine, alternative to a-line or pencil skirts.

My pick is this Asos skirt in a rich, forest green — the color of the season. Pair with a lighter mint green top, a fun scarf or necklace and some neutral pumps.

The dressy track pant – An oxymoron you ask? How in the world can a track pant be dressy? Pants are getting more relaxed this season (wide leg!) so prepare to give your skinnies a little rest.

The pastel pink of the Wayf pair at Nordstrom (on sale for $28) with a white tee, that new white blazer from Loft (see below) and snakeskin pumps makes for the perfect spring evening out.

Slip on sneaker – Oh joy! The wedge sneaker’s position on the shoe-trend throne has been usurped. In its place…the much more comfortable and sensible and, in my opinion, aesthetically pleasing, slip-on. You’ll see many designer (priced) versions, but can’t beat original Vans.

Can’t wait to wear with dark rolled jeans, a bateau-stripe tee for days out and about with my three kids.

The white jacket – I have been a broken record for years when it comes to the white blazer. Sometimes the white blazer jacket can feel too dressy. And then if it’s a denim style…too casual. This LOFT option (now 40% off $98!) has a nubby texture that feels more relaxed, but the tailored body and mandarin collar keeps it dressy enough for work.

Shift blouse – We all know what a shift dress is. The shift blouse is the same silhouette but made into a top: boxy fit, t-shirt style. With the relaxed athletic-style trouser, a pencil skirt, the fuller midi skirt, boyfriend jeans…the options are endless.  Find at Madewell and Modcloth.

The floral pump – It doesn’t take much more than a great pair of colorful pumps to add polish to a pair of jeans or punch up a neutral day dress. I recently fell in love with a pair Manolo Blahnik floral pumps, but not the price tag. These Ivanka Trump pumps make the same statement. And, while the heel height will be gentler on your feet, the price tag will be kinder to your wallet.

Flower in Spring clothing always felt too…precious. But with boyfriend jeans and an oversize white boyfriend blazer? Perfect mix of masculine/feminine elements.

The red bag – I often get the question: How can I easily look pulled together? The simplest way to add polish to your look, no matter the season, is to add a red bag. Jeans and tee? Red bag. White blazer, buttondown and cropped khakis? Red bag. Black shift dress and pumps? Red bag. I think you get the idea.

This Zara mini messenger bag gets the job done. For day, use as a crossbody. For dressier events, tuck the strap and use as a clutch. Insta-chic.

Voila! Now you are ready for spring…and have enough left over to tuck away for that summer vacation.

Rosana Vollmerhausen is a personal stylist serving hundreds of men and women in the DC area since 2009. Her diverse clientele have included stay-at-home moms, attorneys, lobbyists, diplomats, college graduates entering the professional workplace, business executives and more. She has been featured as a wardrobe and fashion expert in The Washington Post, The Washingtonian, on NPR and more. A working wife and mother of three, she is a firm believer that you don’t have to sacrifice personal style because life is busy. If you have the right wardrobe pieces that make sense for where you are in your life, personal style is accessible to anyone who wants it. You can learn more about her personal shopping and styling services at or follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Guest Blogger at In My Professional Opinion

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

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

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

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

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

Guest Blogger at In My Professional Opinion

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

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

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

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

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

Guest Blogger – My Sister

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

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

From Debbie:

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

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

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

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