Search Results for: label/inclement weather

Friday: Deceiving Weather

Jacket: Gap | Tee: J. Crew (similar) | Jeans: NYDJ | Scarf: c/o Nepali by TDM Designs | Boots: Duo (similar) | Bracelets: Nordstrom, “Emerson” c/o Kristin Biggs, Stella and Dot

I woke to birds chirping, and a gorgeous sunrise through the trees. As I got ready, the sun was brighter and it looked like a beautiful spring day. Notsomuch in DC, this morning was COLD! I huddled in the car with my coat wrapped around me while my husband got his camera ready and I didn’t want to take my coat off. However the day is to warm up into the 50s which is warm enough for a little four year old to race around a playground in her parka; think Daddy may be gifted with a nap today!

Since my recent haircut, I have been having a hard time figuring out how to style it. I now have bangs that start at the very top of my head, and more extreme of layers in the front. I like to give my hair a vacation and let it go natural, but each time I did I ended up looking like Roseanne Rosanadanna. Today I added Redken Ringlet and some argan oil and de-frizz serum, let it air dry almost completely, carefully dry the rest with a diffuser, and then the super frizzy parts I wrapped around a curling iron without using the clamp. There’s no way I can survive the warmer months flat ironing my hair, figure I better start training it now!

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Monday: Sweater Weather

Coat: Via Spiga
Sweater: Ann Taylor
Jeans: NYDJ
Boots: DUO (similar)
Lipstick: Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Romance

I can’t believe that just Friday I was wearing boots, wishing the weather was actually cool enough to warrant them, and today I am wearing a coat and considered gloves! Oh DC weather, you always keep us on our toes!  Speaking of coat… this was a major score at TJ Maxx.  I saw it on Nordstrom and put it on my wish list hoping it would drop further on sale, and then found it for almost half of the Nordstrom sale price!  I have plenty of heavy winter coats, but didn’t have a mid-weight coat.  This is perfect for this time of year and come early Spring, and I like that it’s not plain black and is a length that works with dresses as well as pants.

Very quiet day in the office so I dressed down.  I planned on wearing this outfit yesterday (with this scarf) but ended up not going out.  I had to recover from Virgin FreeFest (details in future post), Emerson had a bit of a meltdown, and life was just too hectic to add to it.  I got in a much-needed nap and we as a family snuggled on the couch under an afghan and watched The Lorax.

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Tuesday – Boot Weather

Sweater – Ann Taylor (similar, previously worn here)
Jeans - Kut From the Kloth (this year’s version)
BootsDUO “Catalonia”
Bracelets – Nordstrom (these, these, these), c/o t+j Designs, Lauren by Ralph Lauren, JewelMint
Hoops - Claire’s (similar)
Bag – Sabina (similar)
Umbrella – birthday gift (similar)

Today I woke to a torrential downpour – I planned on wearing a variation of this outfit, but no way was that going to happen in a monsoon. I woke up later since I showered and picked my outfit the night before and ended up scrambling to pull something together last-minute. By time I left the house, it was a pretty standard rain and once I came above ground out of the Metro the sun was out and the clouds were dissipating. Guess I could have gotten away with that original ensemble!

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Winter Weather and Commuting: Style Tips

Wind, rain, snow, and sleet can wreak havoc on a morning commute… and your commuting style. When it comes to dressing for inclement weather I learn so much from my fellow DC office workers and commuters. Some is what not to wear, but more often than not it’s tips and tricks on how to stay protected, comfortable and stylish when the weather outside is frightful. This week is cold, rainy, a bit windy and down-right gross in DC; here’s some things I’ve learned on my walks to work:

Go Monochrome. Walking up the escalator from the Metro, I was behind a woman in all shades of blue and green. Teal tweed wool coat that almost hit her knees, dark jeans tucked into seafoam wellies, indigo leather tote, and a navy umbrella. The monochromatic look made each separate look so cohesive, so purposeful, and like a true ensemble. I am not a fan of wellies  (how often does one deal with water over the ankle when walking to the office anyway? And I am not asking those of you in Seattle and similar climates or those in rural areas…)but with her look… it worked. I could imagine flats or booties in that indigo tote ready to be slipped on once she reached her desk.

The other day, I saw a woman in a black belted wool coat, a raspberry chunky infinity scarf, plum knit beanie, and deep purple wellies. None of the colors were the same, but the consistent color story made the ensemble cohesive and downright stylish. If each piece was a different color the chunky knits and shiny boots would have looked childish; the consistent color gave it polish and professionalism.

Have Neutral Commuting Shoes. I was walking behind three women chatting with one another. They were varying sizes, ages, and personal styles but all had one thing in common – black tights or pants and black flats. I could tell that these were their commuter shoes – they didn’t quite match their outfits, they looked well worn, and pretty comfortable. However, by them being the same color as their legs the shoes weren’t on display and didn’t take away from their outfits. I turned the corner and saw two women waiting for the light to change – one had gray tights and red flats, the other had black pants and yellow patent flats. While their shoes were in better condition than the women in black, their shoes looked just as out of place as a pair of white sneakers. While it’s tempting to add “fun” to a pair of shoes you only wear on your commute, it can really detract from your personal style.

Own a Tiny Umbrella. While many companies claim that they sell travel umbrellas, what it essentially means is a non-Mary Poppins style that has a collapsible shaft. However, some brands sell really small umbrellas that are reliable, but take almost no space in your purse or laptop bag. While you want a durable umbrella that can survive strong gusts, having this little bitty umbrella tucked at the bottom of the bag is a lifesaver for unexpected showers or if you accidentally leave your big umbrella on the train.

Have a Spare Pair of Gloves. Same reason as the umbrella. Especially handy when the bus is late, you have to carry large things home, or you need to hold the rail on the train and you don’t want to catch the flu. While I have gloves in my two work coats, I have lost a glove on the commute, have changed coats last minute, and have many times wished I had a pair tucked in the bottom of my purse or laptop bag.  Since I got another pair for Christmas, I have remedied this situation.

Wear a Hat. While you may be more likely to get Hat Head, a hood flies off in the wind, and the weather will already destroy your hairstyle. Having a hat, be it a cloche, beanie, fedora or otherwise will keep your ears warm, your hair in place, and your body far warmer than a bare head. If you loosely tuck your hair in your hat, you’ll be less likely to get dents in your ‘do.

Wedges Rock. While they give a bit of lift, they are far kinder on the foot when standing, walking, and even dashing across the street to make a light. I see many women who seem to have wedge commuter shoes – they don’t have to worry about cuffing their trousers but have more comfort than heels. Wedges have come back en vogue, be they on pump-like professional shoes or a pair of trainers or TOMS.

Own a Water-resistant Winter Coat. When there’s frigid temperatures, there’s often precipitation, and it’s not always fluffy white flakes. A wet wool coat can be a drag; if you purchase a quilted, waxed, or water-resistant fabric coat, you will be far more comfortable on those days that are both cold and wet. Choosing a style with a unique detail (read this post for great examples) will prevent you from looking as though you just came from the slopes.

Have Matching Bags. I regularly see this woman on the train who has a gray leather purse and gray leather tote. The combination is so lovely and she doesn’t look as hunkered down with multiple bags. Today walking to work, I saw a woman with a red leather purse and a red and navy print microfiber tote for her yoga mat and likely workout clothes. If you need to carry more than one bag, having the two bags match or coordinate really does add polish and cohesion to your ensemble. I wrote about work totes here, but this is something I hadn’t before considered and will be thinking about the next time I am purchasing a tote or everyday purse.

You Never Know Who You Will Bump Into. So you’re wearing a power suit and have a pair of sensible pumps tucked into your bag, yet on your commute you’re wearing a knit cap with earflaps and cat ears, have a hot pink sparkly faux fur snood, and sequined boot liners under your polka-dot wellies. And then you bump into your CEO at Starbucks. Sort of defeats the purpose of your power suit. If your job is a career, work doesn’t end when you walk out of that office door, and if you work in a city you are very likely to bump into a colleague on the train or street corner. Consider this when shopping for accessories and outerwear and have them match the professional style you show in the workplace.

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The Best of 2014, Swag Edition

I have often written about the difficult parts of blogging, but there’s some pretty sweet parts too. The friends that have been made with fellow bloggers, readers, and even some brands. The ability to get paid for a hobby or passion. And yeah… swag. We bloggers can get a lot of free stuff. Granted, that free stuff isn’t without strings – we get with the expectation that we will share with you folks (with stipulations on number of photos, links, social media touts, first born…). Because of this, I have become pickier with what swag I’ll actually accept. In the past I’ve been stuck trying to be tactful in a mention of a subpar something and I don’t want to have to do that again.

PicMonkey Collage

But not all swag is wack, and through blogging I have learned of some awesome companies and many pieces I have received for free have become some of my favorite pieces in my wardrobe. Since it can be hard to tell in posts which C/Os are truly adored, I’m going to share the best items I have received this year and why.

DUO ‘Santana’ Boots

I did a little squeal of joy when DUO finally contacted me. I’ve been writing about this high quality footwear brand for almost a decade and have purchased two pairs of their custom width calf boots with my own money. So this fall when they asked me to pick a pair of boots to feature on the blog, it wasn’t hard to say yes. I chose the ‘Santana’ boot in brown leather and they have become a weekly wear. In fact, I am wearing them right now as I type this post! The quality of leather is fantastic, and it’s nice to get stylish yet classic boots that fit my very large (44cm) calves and thick shins. These are especially flattering because they’re a bit shorter than knee-high, hitting at a better place on my petite frame. The color and subtle distressing rival Frye boots and I find them to be comfortable enough to walk and stand in them all day. A bit of a backstory – since I tore my left calf muscle last year my calf is even BIGGER than before so when I ordered my normal size in DUO they were too tight. DUO was amazing about the exchange, I spoke to them on the phone, we discussed how it fit to determine the correct replacement size, and they were so super nice and helpful. It’s so great to work with a company that you can feel cares about their customers.

Adora Bags Leather Tote

Guess this one is a bit unfair because it hasn’t yet been featured on the blog (yet!), but it’s darn awesome. I’ve loved the looks of the unfinished edge simple leather totes that have been in style, but couldn’t justify buying once since I already own totes that work as well (even if they don’t look as nice). So when Adora Bags contacted me and offered to send me a tote I was psyched. They come in black, a gorgeous blue, and a rusty orangey natural color; I chose black thinking it would be the most practical and timeless. The leather is insanely delicious – tumbled but soft. The straps sturdy and fit over my shoulder while wearing my parka yet short enough to carry in my hand. The shape isn’t too structured, but not a lumpy sack. It comes with a removable pouch on a strap so it can be an easy-access pocket for essentials, or pulled out to be a clutch. Mine also came with a little empty book/agenda in the same leather which was a lovely touch. This is a true tote, it wouldn’t really make for a great handbag, but it’s a good size for an overnight trip, a carryon bag, or for running errands. It’s handmade in Italy, smells divine, feels luxurious, and makes me carting 250 flyers for the Girl Scouts or returns to Ann Taylor feel a bit more posh. And speaking of customer service, they followed up with me to ensure the bag came in perfect condition and have been so lovely to work with. A super nice company.

Karen Kane Jersey Pants

Before my arm broke, Karen Kane contacted me and asked if I’d like some pieces from their Spring collection. I got a pair of wide-leg drapey pants from them they year prior and wore the heck out of them so when I saw their blue paisley jersey pants I knew I had to have them. I envisioned them with a drapey jersey top in white, lots of silver jewelry, flat sandals and a hint of a tan come Summer, but I ended up wearing them quite a lot while convalescing. They were one of the few bottoms I owned that weren’t pilled and faded yoga pants that I could get on and off with my left hand, were comfortable enough to rest in them, but felt sassy enough in them if a friend came to see how I was doing. Even better, since I lived in them they went in the washer and dryer dozens of times yet are still as rich in color, no pills, no shrinkage, and looked cute enough that when I was healed I did pair them with a drapey top and silver jewelry! Obviously the pants they sent me are no longer available, but these look to be the same pants in a different print. And we all know I love Karen Kane, in fact it was hard to pick one item from them to feature. I love the black drapey jersey dress they sent me and the lace overlay dress from them was not only a fave of mine, but I loaned it to a friend to wear to a wedding! Karen Kane continues to have my heart and a place in my closet.

SOREL Joan of Artic Wedge Boot

In my sponsored post I stated I was a fan of SOREL boots and I have been, but I’ll be honest – they never fit over my calves. So when they asked me to do a sponsored post with their boots I was excited… and terrified. Last year I did a footwear post with a brand and the boots they sent did NOT fit my legs and I had to cobble together a wonky outfit to make it work. But after last winter and my broken arm, I couldn’t pass on a pair of quality boots that are made to handle inclement weather. So I chose this style of boot, figuring it laced up and was softer leather higher up so it could possibly flex over my ankles and shins. I also ordered a half size bigger than usual to give a bit more space. And well, I’m glad I took the risk. In the post I wore the boots folded down because they did look a bit goofy laced up on my legs, but I have been wearing them both ways. I wear them folded down, cuff my jeans, and have rag socks slouched between the two for warmth and a bit of a ‘90s vibe. But I also wear them laced up which may look weird but feels comfortable and wear my pants over them to hide the tops. However when it snowed the other week, I laced them up over a pair of jeggings and had my wool socks peek out over the tops of them and while no one would give me an award for figure flattery, it looked casual cute. The boots are super grippy, super comfortable, waterproof, and warmer than my other boots. They stay at the front door because I wear them so often now that the temps have dropped and I know once it gets icy they may not leave my feet.

Dobbin Clothing Sophie Silk Crepe de Chine Blouse in Leopard Print

We all know I love me some Dobbin Clothing, but I’ve mainly stuck to their dresses. This year I tried their tops and I am a mega fan. While the green silk tunic they sent is lovely, this leopard blouse has become a closet favorite and I wear it almost weekly. I tuck it in and wear it with black or ivory trousers, I wear it untucked with skinny jeans or black ponte skinny pants and boots. It’s a top that works when I’ve gained a bit, but also looks lovely when I’ve lost a bit. It says dry clean only, but I have put it in a lingerie bag on the gentle cycle and it has come out quite nicely. I like the gold buttons, the mate crepe finish, and how the leopard is elegant, not cheesy. As with all the other Dobbin Clothing I own, the quality is stellar and it’s a piece that’s stylish now and likely will be stylish for many years to come. And from a blogger standpoint, they are one of my favorite companies to work with!

Talbots Leopard Coat

Talbots sent me their fall look book and it impressed me so much I shared it on the blog with all of you. You all reacted so positively (and I’ll be honest, clicked those affiliate links in the post and bought a lot of Talbots merchandise) that I let Talbots know how successful a post it was. And they asked me what size I wore and sent me this coat in thanks. I wore it in this post, but if you follow me on Instagram you know I wear it quite often. It looks great with jeans, is chic with workwear, and has become one of the coats I wear with dresses for evenings out. I got a 12 Petite and it fits as though it was tailored to my frame; the fuzzy texture gives an almost vintage feel but is a classic piece.

Dagne Dover

I don’t usually reach out to brands, call me a “Rules Girl” but I like to be approached by brands instead of cold pitching (I mentioned this before). But when you guys ask me about a brand unknown to me, I do my homework. And I did my homework with Dagne Dover, reading reviews online and being bold enough to email them. They were awesome, replied in less than a day with a super sweet email and the offer to choose the bag of my choice. We’ve stayed in communication and I look forward to sharing more from the brand in the future. They’re a small brand, but one with heart and one that makes well-made and cleverly designed bags. I’ve had really demoralizing experiences reaching out to brands, but my experience with Dagne Dover has given me confidence to keep doing it with companies that seem like a good fit for this blog.

CastCoverz!

I spent about 25 weeks this year in a cast. If you’ve ever worn a cast, you know how utterly disgusting they can be. While my second doctor replaced them bi-weekly for me, they still got sweaty and dirty and stinky and grubby. My sister told me about CastCoverz! and I bought two long-arm covers to make my broken arm a bit more stylish – I got leopard print (naturally), and a sparkly disco gold one. I featured them in a post , CastCoverz! saw it and offered to send me covers for when I graduated to a short arm cast. That short arm cast came in the middle of the summer when there was no way to keep my cast looking halfway decent after a day or two. The cast covers didn’t make the cast any hotter, but they covered the grubbiness with fun patterns and color while keeping my cast from scratching me and wearing against my knit tops. When Karl broke his foot at the end of the summer, CastCoverz! was sweet enough to send him two boot covers. While their cast covers (and other supplies for those in casts or wearing crutches) are awesome and high quality, what won me over was CastCoverz! customer service and kindness. Everyone I interacted with, from the person on the phone to Annette the owner were so genuinely kind and cared for me be it when I was any old customer, or when I was a blogger promoting their products. Amazing company run by amazing people.

Boden Ravello Silk Top

I had a partnership where I was provided a specific amount of money to spend at Boden and I was PSYCHED. However it was when I had my cast and when I had gained a lot of weight and I worried I wouldn’t be able to find anything to fit properly. But it’s Boden, and Boden is awesome. I had to call them to place my order and chatted with the sweetest person on the phone. We discussed everything from my arm to my bust size to my weight gain and she helped me pick this top (and a basic striped tank because I love stripes and I couldn’t afford at the time to spend more than the store credit). And well, I freaking LOVE THIS TOP. I wear it ALL THE TIME. And every time I wear it someone raves about it. The colors are amazing, the fit is great, and it’s one of those tops that looks cute tucked in or left out, that shows I go in under the chest, and doesn’t make my arms look like hamhocks. The post where I featured it doesn’t do it justice; I had JUST gotten off my cast a day or two prior and was feeling pretty darn awful and was just glad to fulfil an obligation. But if you follow me on Instagram you know how often I’ve worn this top and I likely will wear it to death again this coming spring.

Reebok Skyscape Sneakers

This is another post that took place right after my cast came off and I was in a very dark place emotionally and uncomfortable place physically. But I signed contracts and had to comply. So Karl rolled out his white backdrop, took pauses between my cryfests and makeup reapplications, and we got it done. Another behind the scenes being a blogger – one ad network contacted me the year prior about partnering with “an athletic footwear company” and had me fill out a form to be considered. Then a couple months later, a different ad network contacted me and asked if I’d like to be considered for a campaign with Reebok. Well I said yes to both, and come to find out both were for Reebok Skyscape and set to take place the same week. So the second company who contacted me to confirm my participation, I declined explaining the situation. They’re a great company and understood, and told me to let them know when the shoes arrived so they could mail me a return shipping label. They arrived, I contacted them, two weeks later they finally got back and said don’t worry about it, I could keep them. Well what the heck am I going to do with two pairs of black Reebok Skyscapes with pink soles? At the time, I didn’t know if I’d even wear the pair I wore in the post. And now it’s December and you couldn’t pry BOTH pairs of Skyscapes from my dead cold hands. These things weight nothing and fold easily making them the best commuter shoes. They are uber cushy and cozy, flexible, but have grip on slick sidewalks. One pair I keep at home, one pair is at the office, and these are the sneakers I take with me when I travel because of size and weight and comfort level. I’ll admit I don’t love the pink details; both pairs came with pink and black laces so I switched them to black. Not only that, one pair I took a Sharpie to the pink grommets and exposed sole. I did this so I could wear them with my outfit for Halloween, but it does make them less athletic-shoe looking and have become the ones I slip in my bag (like I did last night) to put on after a long day in heels. They are utterly awesome shoes and while I didn’t get the hype when I wrote my post, I totally get it now.

 

Please don’t think that because I didn’t mention an item or brand here I think it’s bunk. Far from it. I think I’ve gotten better and better over the years in picking the appropriate brands to partner with so I can provide completely honest and positive reviews. I feel truly honored to partner with such amazing companies, and proud that I can introduce them to you. The older I get, the more I experience ageism and sizeism as a blogger when connecting with brands. When I feature a brand, it’s usually after establishing a relationship with them and making sure they understand you all, Wardrobe Oxygen’s audience. While swag is pretty cool, what’s cooler is the relationship I have built with all of you. I want to maintain your trust, I want to continue our honesty, and I want to be able to continue to introduce you to the companies who respect the Wardrobe Oxygen reader and deserve your attention.

April Showers Bring…

It is difficult to be protected from the elements and still look chic. Difficult… but totally doable. Using the same steps as one would to create a functioning, classic wardrobe, one can collect all the necessities to be dry, warm, and protected without sacrificing style. It is possible to weather the weather with style.


Working in a metropolis, I experience pot holes, puddles, swiftly-moving rivers in wide gutters, slippery sidewalks and treks to public transportation through all sorts of precipitation. I see all sorts of ways that women protect themselves and their wardrobe from rain (and dirty splashes from the street) – some great, some not-so-great.

Rain Boots

I remember several years ago, I received a Garnet Hill catalog in the mail and ooohed and aahed over the adorable rain boots for children that were made to look like frogs and ladybugs. “Oh wow, I wish they had those in adult sizes!” I remember gushing to a friend. She agreed that they were utterly adorable.

I may have said that, but really… I didn’t MEAN it. And now, on every street corner I see adult women heading to work or the market in Wellies decorated with Hello Kitty, candy-colored polka dots and yes… even in boots made to look like ladybugs. These boots are easily found at any big box retailer for a very low price – they do a great job at protecting the feet from rain and slush and have a grippy bottom that helps one from slipping on slick and wet surfaces. That being said… they are NOT stylish. Nothing will kill your look more than a pair of gaudy, chunky childish rain boots.

So what does one do? Well I am not anti-Wellies all together, but I feel that they should be treated like any other staple in a woman’s wardrobe – well made, well cut, and of a simple solid color. Follow in the footsteps of Kate Moss with a pair of classic black or olive Wellies. The classic boot is from the company Hunter, however you can find great rain boots in simple colors and silhouettes even at your local Target. Do know, no matter what the salesperson tells you, a pair of quirky boots will not tell the world that you are a fun or quirky personality – a pair of loud boots only make you look loud.

And for those of you who grab rubber footwear as soon as the meteorologist says there is a 10% chance of drizzles… there is no reason. Consider purchasing a waterproofing product to protect your boots and then you don’t even have to think about sacrificing style for rain. Rain boots are only necessary when there is a lot of precipitation and chance for large puddles and splashing (or walking on grass/dirt). For other occasions… just look where you’re walking and you and most of your footwear should fare just fine.

(First photo – Kate Moss.  Second photo – Woman on the street in Washington, DC)

Umbrellas

Love bright cheery colors and prints on a dark and dreary day? Why not bring those prints to the top part of your body? Nothing is more pleasing to the eye on a gray day than a cheery umbrella in a spring hue. A fabulous umbrella will help you stand out in a crowd and is a far better way to express your personality. You can go for your favorite color in a solid hue, show your feminine side with a floral, or your modern edge with a bold pattern.

I highly recommend investing in a well-made mini umbrella that will cover you and your bag, open with one hand, but fit easily into your purse or laptop satchel. Real Simple magazine has reviewed umbrellas (reviews here and here) and can give you some ideas on well-made collapsible umbrellas. Then you will always be prepared without having to lug around lots of rain equipment!

Rain Coats

Rain coats and trenches are also a great way to bring color and personal style to your look.

A solid trench or mac in a flattering hue can brighten any rainy day. Colors like Robin’s egg blue, blood orange, berry, and brick red are unexpected neutrals that will add personal style to your ensemble. As a person who finds herself wearing a lot of black and gray, I love being able to balance it out with a pop of a color like orange or purple in my inclement-weather accessories.

Want to go classic with tan or black? Show some spunk with a brightly-colored coat lining. Lots of coats these days come with fantastic polka-dotted, animal print or paisley linings. This is also a fun way to incorporate the color you may have chosen for your umbrella or scarf.

Many retailers are showing prints and stripes in rainwear; these can be fun but they are fads that won’t look fresh by time next spring rolls around. Do yourself a favor and stick with classic details and solid colors – a well crafted trench, even in an unusual color will get you years of mileage (and miles of style).

A single-breasted style is the most universally flattering. Trenches are the most classic look, but a well-cut single-breasted coat sans flaps and belts will often be a better choice for women with curves.

Your inclement-weather wardrobe should follow the same guidelines as your personal wardrobe – build from basics that are well made. From there, add quality accessories in colors that make you smile and show your personal style.

Wednesday – Black and White and Red All Over

Sweater – Banana Republic (similar)
Shirt – c/o CAbi
Pants – Ann Taylor (similar)
ShoesMichael Kors “Flex”
Silver cuff (similar)
LipstickNARS “Heatwave”

Last week it felt like summer, this week it has returned to typical DC March weather – windy and chilly.  Glad I kept my sweaters in the closet!

Today I will be walking from my office to Georgetown to meet my sister for her follow-up MRI (proving she is tumor free!) so I wanted to wear comfortable shoes – these pumps are perfect for this – work-appropriate yet can handle a 20 minute walk in the city.

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Contest: Tolani Scarf from chickdowntown.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck!

Ask Allie: Fashion Advice for a Petite SAHM

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

For additional petite inspiration, check out:

My Head is Too Big to be Hipster: A Warby Parker Review

Once I got new glasses, I wanted more. A pair of red frames to channel my inner Sally Jesse Raphael, a funky blue or green pair to jazz up all-black ensembles, a funky shape to show personality at the office. I had heard a lot of great things about Warby Parker and decided to try a pair of frames from them.

Me in my new glasses – Lafont’s Issy & La collection, the frame is called “Gloss”

Warby Parker Eyewear’s mission is to offer reasonably-priced fashionable frames. On top of that, for every pair of Warby Parkers sold, a new pair is given to someone in need. Warby Parker is also proud to be a carbon-neutral company.

Warby Parker has a try-on program where you can pick five frames and try them on at home. They will ship the glasses to you for free and offer free return postage; I decided to take advantage of this program and see if I could find a new pair of signature prescription frames.

The Warby Parker site is very easy to navigate; click on your gender and then whether you desire optical or sunglass frames. From there you can choose material, color, frame shape, and width. From experience, I know my face is pretty wide, so I stuck to the medium and wide styles of frames. Since I already have a pair of tortoiseshell frames, I stuck to more unusual colors.

The glasses arrived quickly in a sturdy shipping box, and then a lovely navy linen box. Each pair of glasses was in its own compartment, wrapped in plastic and labeled with its name. Each pair of Warby Parker frames has the brand and style name inside on the temple. I found the quality to be stellar, especially for the price. These frames rival the more expensive designer styles I tried at my nearby glasses shop. The return process is simple – peel off the self-adhesive UPS label and drop it in a nearby UPS drop box. I couldn’t be more impressed with Warby Parker and their process… except that my face is too big for them.

Maybe I should have tried men’s frames, but I felt that almost every pair I tried (except for the Bensen, and they just weren’t a style I was looking for) was just a hair too small for my face. I often have this issue not just with glasses, but sunglasses as well. In fact, when I got my new glasses, they were the only ones I liked after trying on about 20 pairs – each other pair seemed just a bit too small for my face shape, even some of the men’s frames I tried.

So if you have a normal to small-sized noggin, I encourage you to try Warby Parker. The Warby Parker at-home program is completely free so you have nothing to risk; if you find a pair you like you can feel good that not only will you look great, but your purchase will also be doing good. As for me, I will have to look elsewhere, my head is just too big to be hipster.

Note: Warby Parker has no idea I am doing this review and I was not compensated in any way for it.  I just decided to try the brand and share my experience with you!

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Wednesday: Gold Accents

Sweater: Banana Republic (similar) | Shirt: CAbi (similar) | Skirt: CAbi (similar) | Tights: DKNY | Shoes: VC Signature | Necklace: eBay

Omigoodness it is COLD today! Saturday we were running around sans coats and today it’s in the 20s. Crazy DC weather! I was actually in the mood to wear some color, but the weather made me seek out warm layers and that ended up being more black. I love this skirt because it’s a sweater so it’s warm, but it’s a tad big and rides up. I didn’t realize until after these pictures how much it had ridden up, swear that here in the office it’s down near my knees. And don’t worry folks, my heavy Lands’ End parka, hat, scarf, and gloves were waiting for me in my warm car to my left.

I never had a chance to mention it, but Monday I had the opportunity to attend the Inauguration. My sister was able to get tickets for the Orange section (standing but on the Capitol grounds). While it was an exhausting day, it was awesome to be there for the swearing in, surrounded by fellow happy supporters. I have plenty of pictures on my Instagram, and while that very day I said I wouldn’t deal with the craziness again, as my friend Insana wrote on Facebook, if a woman ended up president, I would be back!  Just next time I would bring foot warmers to slip in my boots.  I was toasty warm everywhere except my sad little toes.

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Weekend Sale Shopping

Sales, sales, everywhere is sales… yes I am changing the lyrics to this song (which is a cover of this original) but there’s some insanely good sales going on this weekend that I just HAD to share with you.

Old Navy – 25% Off

At Old Navy, get 25% off your entire purchase with the code TREAT. Code is valid until the end of the 18th. A few restrictions: not valid on Everyday Steals, Hot Deals, Clearance (anything ending in $0.97 or $0.99) or Today Only Deals.  I think this top is an office attire staple and I love the variety of colors available; this chunky turtleneck would look great with skinny jeans or ponte pants for the weekend; I love the leather-look pockets on this dress (and love that it comes in regular, tall, and petite!).

Banana Republic – Up to $50 off Full Priced Items

Up to $50 off full price dresses, jackets, sweaters, and more. Note this doesn’t include their Monogram collection or leather jackets. No code necessary, deal through October 18.  I love their Gemma Wrap Dress and this print is something that would look great all seasons of the year; this lace pullover is fantastic – wear over a white shirt for the office and a camisole for a night out!  Other favorites on promotion:

Ann Taylor – 50% Off Tops, Shoes and Accessories

I know, right? 50% off? Get thee shopping, pronto with code STYLE50, this deal ends October 20th.  I think this bird print shirt is amazing, this faux leather pocket cape looks even better in person, and their buttoned-up boiled wool cape is so awesome, I wish I could justify the purchase (for the record, I’ve tried it on, it fits great, I am a Large Petite).

LOFT – 40% Off Tops and Sweaters

No specific date that this is to end and no code needed. Do note it’s not valid on Lou & Grey merchandise, but it IS valid on in-store purchases as well as online.  It does feel that LOFT is constantly having deals, but they’re also constantly getting in new merchandise that doesn’t seem to last long online.  So if you see it and love it, get it while you can!  I’m loving this belted cardigan, and think this variation on the chambray shirt would look modern and fresh with jeans or a midi skirt.  Some other pieces I like that are on promotion:

Lands’ End – 25 to 30% Off

Lands’ End is my go-to for quality yet reasonably priced winter weather gear. They have two promotions going on right now. Get 30% off select “fall essentials” (not sure exactly what that is but seems like a lot) with code LEAF, PIN 9223 through October 20th. But you can also get 25% off all full-priced merchandise with code MAPLE and PIN 1610 through October 21st. I love my packable down vest so much, I’m seriously considering this packable down jacket from Lands’ End and can’t decide between the polka dots or basic black. I’ve also had this Sport Knit skirt in black in my shopping cart for a while and may pull the trigger now that it’s 30% off.  These and a few other pieces I’m admiring:

Madewell – 30% Off Sale Merchandise

Madewell continues to impress, and a 30% off sale prices makes it easy to buy some fab fall and winter fashion. Use code PICKMEUP, which is valid through October 20th.  I love the classic look of their Otis boot, the unique color and slouchy coolness of their Firelight Pullover, and the perfect color and shape of their Berliner Satchel.

J. Crew – 30% Off Sweaters and Outerwear

Code SHOPFALL will give you 30% off at J. Crew through the 19th of October.  Their Majesty Peacoat truly is perfection and a classic piece that will be chic for years to come; their Jackie Cardigan is always a popular piece and nice to get on sale; and I am loving the pale lavender shade and the cool size zips of this lambswool sweater.

J. Crew Factory – 40-50% off Outerwear and an Additional 30% Off Clearance Merchandise

One of my favorite stores for great style at great prices; 30% off clearance makes it even nicer! Use code YAY30 through the October 19th to save.  As for the deal on outwear and cold-weather accessories, no code is needed.  Some of my favorites like this camo tee (imagine it with something dressy like a sequined or lace pencil skirt or under a denim jacket), this adorable flared leather skirt in black or brown, and this pleated maxi which I own and adore.  As for outerwear, I love the color and details of this coat, find this long hooded belted puffer to be something any city commuter would love, and think the price is nice on these leather tech gloves.

Any sales I missed?  Share them in the comments!

Plus Sized Work Attire Options

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Winter 2006 – Wardrobe Essentials

1. A Pair of Tall Boots. If you do not own a pair now, this is the season to purchase some. Kitten heels, flats, high heels, laces, suede, pointy toe or flat, they all seem to be stylish and in stock at every store.

Boots may seem like a major purchase as that most real-leather styles start around $200. The thing is, boots, if good quality, do not go out of style. If they are babied (keep them protected, stored properly, get them reheeled and resoled before each season) they will last you a very long time. My mother has a pair of boots that she purchased in 1962 and still wears (and still receives compliments on them!). Do not settle; it seems that every clothing store, shoe store and department store will have at least a couple varieties.

If you find that tall boots are too tight on your calves, do check out the stores I have listed in the sidebar for fuller figured women. Many offer high-quality boots in varying calf sizes. Mainstream stores like Naturalizer and J. Crew have also realized that not every woman has a 13” calf and also now offer larger calf sizes.

As for color, consider your wardrobe. I personally only own black boots as that I wear mainly black, bright colors, white and silver accessories. My friend who is blonde and prefers neutrals and pinks found a dark camel pair appropriate for her style; my coworker who has dark auburn hair and has a bit of a vintage feel to her J. Crew and Banana Republic staples recently invested in a chocolate brown leather pair with a wood stacked heel.

2. A Slimmer, Darker Jean. No, I am not telling every woman to toss her jeans and buy a pair of skin-tight black stovepipe jeans a la Kate Moss. These thin jeans do not look good on most shapes. What I am suggesting is a darker, cleaner jean. Less whiskering, bleaching and distressing, and no crazy flare, super low rise or baggy leg. These jeans are almost shaped like pants, they are straight or with a very slight boot cut, they are clean, maybe creased and they look expensive (even if they are not).

Tuck them into your boots and wear with a sweater for a jaunt to the mall. Wear with sassy heels and a blouse for a night out on the town. Pair with boots and a velvet blazer for a smart Casual Friday look. Stretch is acceptable, but do not confuse stretch for allowing tight. A stylish woman will not have painted-on jeans, no matter how fabulous her figure. Tight is trendy, tailored is eternal. Stretch will help the jeans keep their shape and be more comfortable. This also helps jeans keep their dark wash. Consider letting them hang-dry to maintain the color and size. A bit of distress at the seams (or crease, if there is one) can add to the personality of the jeans, but the holes, tears, rhinestone appliqué and zipper embellishments can be left on the rack.

3. A Work Dress.
I know I mentioned it before, but I have to mention it again. I have not seen dresses be so flattering, so acceptable for all situations and so plentiful in stores in a very long time. Dresses can make bumps turn into curves, boy figures into goddesses. A great dress can transcend trends and become a staple for many years to come.

The shirt dress has come back, and luckily in many variations. A heavy jersey fabric will glide over curves, a stiff poplin will create curves for those who are lacking them. A style just at or above the knee will make a woman look taller, a style hitting at the calf will make a tall woman look less leggy. Wrap styles whittle a waistline, skinny belts accentuate a small waist and wide stretchy belts with leather or suede buckles define a figure.

Not only shirt dresses are popular. Jumper-style dresses nod to childlike fashions of the 70’s and look great over turtlenecks and blouses. Kimono-inspired dresses hide a multitude of sins and look feminine and elegant. A-line, tent and bell-shaped styles are very modern and fun on slight figures. There is a dress (or five!) that will look great on every figure. This dress will work at work, at church, for a social occasion or a night out with the girls. Pair with boots or pumps for work or strappy heels for play.

4. Your Own personal “It” Bag. I am not telling you to go out and get a Fendi, a Marc Jacobs or a Balenciaga if your budget cannot afford it. You don’t even need to invest in a Coach, Kooba or Kate Spade; or a Kenneth Cole, DKNY or Fossil. I remember last winter my sister sported the coolest looking purse. It was a dark teal color with contrast stitching and silver hardware. She received raves from all her friends about how cool it was and such a great color. Where did she get it? Payless Shoe Source for $14.99. Point is, an “It” bag does not have to be dripping with logos or cost more than your home.

So what IS and “It” bag? It’s a bag that makes a statement. It’s a bag that has as much oomph, personality and style to look amazing just sitting on the table by itself. It is a little bigger than what you may be used to, but that’s so it is noticed.

Oomph and personality do not equal gaudiness. Pass on the fringe, studs, embroidery and patchwork unless you have a true designer bag. Brass or silver hardware is fine, as long as it is regulated to buckles, zippers with purpose and clasps. The bag should be big enough to hold your planner or a book or a larger water bottle, but not all three. We are not looking for carry-on luggage, but a daily handbag that can stow your essentials without overpowering your frame. For a petite woman, a bag that is 12” in length and 7” in height may be appropriate. Just realize this is not the season for a wallet on a string or the traditional crocheted Le Sak. As for fabric, leather is on all the runways, but suede is popular, canvas mixed with leather is seen often, and if you cannot afford or stomach leather, look for stylish pleather. Some washed PVC and faux croco bags look just as authentic as the real thing and hold up much better during inclement weather. Unless you are a Kate Spade devotee, it is time to give your microfiber bags a vacation. This is a season of luxe, and a square techno-fiber bag is not appropriate.

As for color, almost everything is acceptable, as long as it is not pure white (ivory and winter white is acceptable), metallic (that is last season and too “bling” for this season’s looks) or a bright shade. Black, brown, camel, olive, dark red, dark purple, plum, mallard blue, mustard and charcoal are all very popular this season. I personally have invested in a dark camel leather hobo-style bag with brass hardware for my daily “It” bag, feeling that it is a nice contrast to my wardrobe of red, blue and purples and doesn’t conflict with either brown or black shoes. My mom purchased a dark red pleather bag with contrast stitching, a more traditional shape and a silver buckle holding the main flap in place. My dear friend found a fabulous large framed bag in a very dark glazed berry leather with dark silver hardware and is sporting that and a brown suede hobo with no trim but a gold-capped suede tassel from the zipper pull. All are larger than last season, more substantial and have more charm and personality than the diminutive bags or blingy giant totes of previous seasons.

5. A Great Pair of Trousers. This is the season of trousers. These are a bit more than your standard Editor pants from Express. These are pants that make an outfit. That can be worn with a simple sweater or shirt but will be an OUTFIT. Be it Audrey Hepburn or Katherine Hepburn your channel, the look is defined and a bit retro. Full legged tweed trousers with a cuff and defined waist with a feminine ruffly blouse, skinny black cropped pants that are paired with ballet flats, winter white fluid pants that stand out against a black jacket and heels, high-waisted pinstripe menswear-inspired trousers with a crisp white shirt. These pants make a statement.

Consider your shape and size when you consider these type of pants. High-waisted full-legged trousers will not look best on a petite zaftig frame, and skinny cropped pants may just look a tad shrunken on a long lean figure. If you are afrais to shy from your standard flattering cut, consider a different fabric, print or color. Winter white is big this season and pops against black, brown and the dark romantic colors that are in the stores. A conservative tweed with a surprising ribbon of green, pumpkin or salmon can look fresh added to your current wardrobe of blouses and blazers. A basic black trouser updated with a tuxedo stripe will freshen up your standard white shirt and black pumps.

6. A White Shirt. Be it a standard crisp cotton button-down, a tuxedo-inspired version with oodles of ruffles, a silken one with princess sleeves and pearl buttons or a stretch poplin wrap style with French cuffs, all are hot for this season.

Shirts with a bit of lycra will refrain from wrinkling through the day and will be less likely to tug at the bust and shoulders. If you are short waisted, no matter your height consider a petite version (do you find your shirts often bunch at the lower back? Try petites – Ann Talyor carries up to a 16 petite in many of their shirts). Many brands like Rebecca and Drew now offer sizes according to bust-size, preventing gaping at the buttons.

White shirts do not need to be tucked in. Curved hemlines and tailored shapes are made to be worn untucked and can look elegant with trousers, jeans and skirts. Accessorize with pearls, gold chains or a beloved scarf. If the shirt has detail (ruffles, pintucks, decorative buttons) minimize the accessories and let the shirt be the focus.

7. A Wool Coat. This is not a wool jacket, this is a COAT. A jacket that is anywhere between thigh-length and calf-length. It is a stylish, elegant coat that works with jeans as well as a cocktail dress. This coat is a necessity unless you live in warmer or tropical climates (where I would recommend a trench in it’s place).

The cost should not be the focus this season, this season is about luxe details. Find detail in scarves, gloves, bags and shoes. Your coat should be a canvas for the rest of your look. Consider single-breasted, this is flattering on most shapes and elongates the body. Look for a more tailored shape, no matter your size a heavy coat will be more flattering if it glides against your shape instead of hiding it. Wrap styles are better for trenches and lighter-weight fabrics so look for a more simple style. To help reduce bulk, look for high-tech linings like Thinsulate that will add warmth without the padding.

As for color, black and brown are safe, classic choices. Like purses, dark muted colors are neutrals this season. A camel, deep plum or ivory coat can look quite smart. Do not get too trendy with this coat; a coat should be able to last you for many years. Because of this fact, look for quality. Lower end wools and wool blends often are lint-magnets and get balled up under arms and places that are rubbed often. Places like Burlington Coat Factory and TJ Maxx often have wonderful quality (and often designer) coats at reduced prices.

Saturday

In the morning, I ran to get my hair cut and colored in the nearby town, and then run a few errands. Olive ribbed tank from J. Crew, white ribbed tank from Old Navy, Joe’s Jeans in “Provacateur,” brown stacked flops from J. Crew, silver hoops from The Icing, silver cuff.

Hair was brushed out but on the second day; blew the bangs straight.

Makeup was Body Shop bronzing powder in Light as face color, Max Factor Lash Perfection mascara on curled lashes, Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Pink Afterglow.

Kathleen did her magic – all I told her is that I wanted to go darker and that I wanted heavier bangs. I trust her, and was not disappointed. Choppy layers that can work straight, wavy or curly, fun sideswept bangs, and a very rich multi-tonal color of dark brown that looks closer to what I was born with.

Got home and had to dash to get dressed. Friday night I had a friend over so I didn’t have time to play dress-up and figure out my theater outfit. Thank you soooo much to everyone who wrote in suggestions, you guys are awesome and have good ideas! For the one who suggested my Old Navy dress… I completely forgot about it. I had set to wear my black cashmere tank from Banana Republic and my orange-red shantung full skirt also from Banana (seen here), but when I saw how spiffy and sleek my husband looked (flat front gray tropical wool trousers from J. Crew, white tailored shirt from some brand sold at Mens Wearhouse, black blazer from… J. crew? Not sure…, black slip-on sleek shoes from Ecco) I decided my outfit may look a bit like a costume. I tried a few different skirts, but settled on the black matte jersey dress from Old Navy, my red stone necklace, my leopard peep-toe heels from BCBgirls,silver hoops from The Icing, and silver cuff natch. :-)

Didn’t have to do my hair since it was done by Kathleen my talented stylist. She used the Pureology line on me, and swears by it for protecting color. I bought the shampoo and conditioner and once I can wash my hair (was told to go as long as humanely possible without washing) I will be using it and let you k now how it is.

Same makeup as earlier, just a re-touch of the bronzing powder, a bit of Smashbox Soft Lights in Tint on my cheekbones, a medium line of Maybelline Ultra Liner in black on the top lash line, a quick swipe of Maybelline Great Lash waterproof mascara in black over existing mascara, Body Shop Lip and Cheek Tint with Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Pink Afterglow over it.

We took the Metro and it was not even a block to the little restaurant (I don’t know if there are even 20 tables in the place). The menu seemed different from the one online and the only entrees that were vegetarian were spaghetti with tomato sauce (yawn) and a risotto with corn and truffle shavings. My husband and I chose the risotto, we shared a bottle of Pinot Grigio (not sure the label, our friend chose the wine) and had a nice, yet not inspiring or overwhelmingly unique meal. We then walked not even three blacks to the Kennedy Center where my friend and I sidestepped grates in our heels (she too wore a black sheath and heels) while the men tromped over everything and got there in time to marvel at the acre-sized curtains in the lobby and get a cocktail in the Terrace Bar prior to the performance.

The performance was great! As I said, I had never seen The Phantom of the Opera other than the movie. Back story – 1992, for Christmas I got my first boom box with a CD player in it, and with it two CDs – Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera. For several months until I got my high school arsenal of REM, Depeche Mode, Pearl Jam and Nirvana, I listened solely to these two soundtracks. Come 2007, I am silently singing along to this performance and even a tear came down my cheek at finally seeing live what I had in my head 15 years ago. I think also seeing Shakespeare in Love the night prior made the theater experience that more intense.

Our friends live in Virginia and parked at the theater; it was a gorgeous night and declined their offer to drive us to the Metro and decided to hoof it. All in all a lovely evening!

Tuesday’s Tip – Making the Clearance Rack Your Friend

When I go into a store, the first place I look is the clearance or sale rack. I don’t want to be tempted by full priced items when a good equivalent is available at half the price in the back of the store. Even when planning my wedding I first scored sample sales and discount bridal shops before even looking at a single full-priced gown. It is better to buy quality instead of quantity, but just because it’s on a sale rack does not mean it’s poor quality or lacking style or fashion.


Take Your Time
Clearance racks are a mess. Why waste good salespeople hours in cleaning up the back of the store when the real money making is in the front displays of new product? Because of this, do not limit your search to the section designated with your size. Take the time to flip through all the racks. You may find a size 10 amongst the size 2s or a great size Small blouse hidden amongst size 14 blazers. Grab everything that even remotely appeals to you, and a few things you would not usually consider. The best way to spend money on trendy pieces and unusual finds is to pay for them at a discount – less buyer’s remorse.


Sizes Can Be Deceiving
Sometimes items are on sale racks because they are missized. I have tried on size 6 jackets that are too big for me and size 14s that are skin tight. Don’t just look at the label – pull the item from the rack and see if it may possibly fit. Often the missized items are at a super reduced price because they are being looked over.


Consider a Tailor
I decided to write this post because of my clearance rack prize of yesterday. Sueded cotton trench, hip cut, gorgeous color, originally $179 on sale for $29.99. No obvious flaws but the coat was too large for me – I am petite and it is not. It is an XL and a generous cut, I am not. I bought the awesome bargain after trying it on and seeing that the shoulders were fitting decently, though the sleeves were past my fingers, the waist was too big and the length too long. I took it to my local dry cleaner and for $35 she is shortening the arms and hem and nipping in the waist. So for $65 I got a $179 jacket that is perfect for the upcoming fall.


Sleeves that are too long, hems dragging on the ground, gaping waists and baggy jackets can all be easily fixed by a neighborhood tailor or dry cleaner. They can also replace missing buttons, broken zippers and some torn seams. If the price is right, often the tailoring still keeps the garment at a discounted price. I have bought suiting pants 75% off just because the zipper is broken, a suede blazer at 80% off because the lining had pulled away from the jacket body.


Do not invest in garments that are stained (salespeople usually try to remove the stains with a cleaning fluid, if it’s still stained it probably won’t come out in the wash or at the cleaners), torn (resewing a seam may make the item fit differently), irregular (remember quality is key – no one should be wearing a sweater with two different sleeve lengths) overly large (tailor costs will be insane and the true look of the garment will be lost) or too small (don’t buy for the body you hope to have, buy for the current you. Also tailors can’t make things larger – there’s usually not enough fabric at the seams and if they attempt the fit of the garment will be compromised).


If You Don’t Love It…
Don’t buy it. Would you buy it if it were full price? If the answer is a quick “no” leave the item in the fitting room. Just because an item is cheap does not mean you can scrimp on cut, style or fit. A 50% markdown does not justify a gaping armhole, an unflattering color or even a staple that you really have enough of already. The world sees you and your outfit, not the reduced price. They don’t know if what you bought cost $200 or $20, they just know it doesn’t look good, doesn’t flatter your body or your personality. Every dollar in your wallet is precious, don’t waste it on crap. If you can’t imagine the item with at least two other things in your closet, it’s not worth your time or money.

What I Wore: Peacock Feathers

Dress: J. Crew Factory Store | Necklace: Etsy | Shoes: Nine West “Flax” | Rings: Etsy, vintage via Etsy, gift from Emerson (she won playing skee-ball this past weekend)

Emerson and I were both excited by our new shoes and found it necessary for Daddy to photograph them! I’m not one to buy Emerson everything she sees on TV and we actually try very hard to have Emerson NOT see commercials, but she saw an ad for Sketchers Twinkle Toes almost a year ago and has been obsessed ever since. They have everything she loves in this world all rolled into one pair of hideous yet utterly amazing shoes that if I were 4 (or 6, or 14, or heck… even college age), I would do most anything for. So when I saw this pair for $24.95 at the Sketchers outlet in Rehoboth, I caved. As for my shoes? Well they were only about $20 on Amazon and I am as much a sucker for peacock print as I am for leopard!

This weekend was the annual Girls Weekend to Rehoboth – me, Emerson, my sister and mom.  We had a great time – the weather was spectacular Saturday, we had great food, lots of laughs, Emerson had some memories made, and of course we did a bit of shopping at the fun boutiques and outlets.  This dress is one of my purchases, it is such a classic silhouette, my favorite fabric, and a wonderful price.  I hardly ever shop J. Crew any more – their quality is inconsistent, their prices insane on many pieces, and I hate wearing the same thing 500 other bloggers are wearing.  However, I love the outlet because they seem to carry more classic pieces – they had a dozen different not-so-LBDs in the store, half a dozen variations of the denim/chambray shirt, and great variety of blazers and pants.  I tried to be good, the only other thing I got was a v-neck sweater for fall.  However, I did find some AH-MAY-ZING pants in a boutique near the beach which I hope to have hemmed and on the blog quite soon!

Note: Dress link updated with the actual dress I am wearing from the J. Crew Factory site.  Also in the comments are a few more links to find the peacock shoes!

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Basic Black and White

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

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

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

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

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My Wardrobe This Weekend

Oh the weather was FANTASTIC this weekend! I love weekends in fall that are so crisp and clear and have weather mild enough that you can go outside and enjoy the beauty of the season!

Saturday, our friends Nicole & Ryan invited us over for a cookout. Very casual affair, didn’t change from what I was wearing earlier in the day to the playground and for being around the house.

Sweater – Ann Taylor (no longer available)
TeeLands End Canvas
JeansNYDJ “Marilyn”
Boots - DUO
Necklace – Vintage (have had the pendant for about 20 years, used to wear on a necklace cuff)
EarringsArgento Vivo
Silver Cuff
Beverage – Woodchuck Hard Cider (so appropriate this time of year)

Emerson is totally taking after her father and is all legs.  Her 2T dresses and pants are too big, but her 18-24 month clothes are getting pretty short.  I have been putting her in dresses with jeans lately so that she can get wear out of these clothes I bought her, she can stay warm, and not look bootylicious.  This is what she wore to the cookout on Saturday.

Sunday was another beautiful day.  We started it at the farmer’s market where we stocked up on dark leafy greens and Zeke’s Coffee.  No full picture of me, here’s a self-portrait with Emerson (who is wearing another dress over jeans).

Cardigan SweaterAnn Taylor LOFT (not same but similar style)
Tank - Caslon for Nordstrom (not available now but will be available prob come spring)
Jeans - Ann Taylor LOFT
Boots - DUO

Necklace – Vintage
EarringsArgento Vivo


One of the vendors had some turkeys there and Emerson was totally entertained by them. They made me even more certain that I am going back to being a vegetarian. I know the purpose of their visit to the farmer’s market was to show how happy and healthy their turkeys are, and those turkeys looked very well cared for and relatively calm and confident, but it just made me feel even more guilty.

Last night I used this recipe to make collard greens.  I never ate collard greens growing up, I think the first time I had them was in high school when having dinner at a friend’s house.  I found them gross – very greasy, all brownish-green and weird.  Collard greens are healthy, and CHEAP at the farmer’s market so I bought some yesterday to try cooking. 

It was GOOD!  In place of the crushed red pepper, I added three mini hot peppers from the bundle we also bought that AM at the market.  I didn’t add the tomatoes, added more garlic than asked (think I used four cloves), and used chicken broth since there was an open carton in the fridge that needed to be used before it expired.  I also added a splash of cider vinegar.  If you cook for about 10 minutes, they greens end up a bright emerald shade and are still a bit crunchy but delish.  If you like the classic buttery-soft collard greens, you can cook from 40 – 60 minutes.  I did half at the 10 minutes, and then the rest we simmered for over an hour for two different options.  Quite delish, and not at all bitter!

My Wardrobe Today – Tuesday

Dress – Eliza J (no longer available – similar. Also recently saw this dress at Ross for around $20)
Belt - Another Line c/o Nordstrom Rack
Shoes – Nine West (no longer available – similar)

I miss my closet! It SUCKS trying to figure out what to wear every morning from a crowded rolling rack in my home office, with pieces monkey-hung six down. I have no clue what I own, I don’t have a mirror nearby, and I just get overwhelmed. Today they were to come and start repairing the roof, but it’s raining off and on, will be doing such for the rest of the week so I fear repairs will be delayed.

Not to be Negative Nelly all over this post, but the sound of rain falling on a tarp covering a huge hole in your roof is not pleasant. It made getting to sleep and staying asleep very difficult last night. I have been trying to stay positive about this whole experience (no one was hurt, little material damage, yadda yadda) but it’s starting to get to me. While it really isn’t a big deal (again, no one was hurt and my house is still liveable), it reminds me of when I was on bedrest for pregnancy. Everyone asks a ton of questions, constantly bringing it up, and they keep sharing their horror stories of missed water damage destroying a home, second hurricanes coming, etc. which just stresses me out more. I can’t wait until this is all over and done with (and note to all, if your friend is on bedrest while pregnant, don’t tell her stories of HELLP, placenta previa and abruption, and early labor and forced C-sections. Just bring her magazines and snacks and come by to say hi.).

This weekend I started feeling under the weather on Saturday night, by Sunday early evening I was full-blown sick. Chills, body aches, sinuses freaking out, eyes hurting, fever. Sunday Emerson woke with the same thing I had so we were sicky poos together all day on yesterday. Today I am better, though still sniffling and feeling grody. While Emerson’s nose is running like a faucet and she is pretty low-key, she too seems to be feeling better today.

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