Search Results for: label/j. crew

A J. Crew Bedtime Story

Yesterday I got the mail from the box while we were walking in the house after dinner. Emerson asked to see the mail, and got super excited when she saw the J. Crew catalog. She sat down on the couch and began to flip through it, completely ignoring any other magazine or catalog. At bedtime, she asked me to read it to her in place of The Berenstain Bears or Princess Matilda. After putting her to bed, I slipped the catalog in her bookcase on top of a pile of her larger books; the next morning when I went to wake her I found the J. Crew catalog and only the J. Crew catalog beside her bed. I put it back in her bookcase.

This is what I saw when she got up for her nap. At least she had a bit of variety.

However she wanted a repeat performance of last night for tonight’s bedtime story. I see Cafe Capris and Jackie Cardigans in our future…

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What I Wore: Mom Style

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

wardrobe oxygen what i wore ann taylor cashmere poncho

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

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

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

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Fighting Closet Fatigue – Winter to Spring Wardrobe Transition

The holidays are over and it’s normal to be sick to death of your current closet. You’re dreaming of warmer temperatures though you’re still bundling up in sweaters. When shopping for your wardrobe at this time of year, it’s smart to make purchases that you can wear now, but also wear months from now. Small updates that can refresh your current wardrobe and transition nicely into spring. These items have caught my eye and are great ways to get a touch of spring and new trends into your current winter collection.

spring 2015 fashion trends

  1. Printed Fabric Pumps. A statement shoe is a quick way to update the wardrobe. The gorgeous print on these pumps from J. Crew will go with everything in your wardrobe, from an LBD to your favorite pair of jeans. Right now, style with dark denim and a slouchy sweater in navy or black for brunch or a party at your friend’s house. Consider letting these shoes steal the show and pair with a black shift and opaque black tights. Come spring, style with white jeans, a dark blazer and striped tee for a fresh and classic look or pair with most any colored dress in your closet for a weekend wedding. The thicker heels makes these shoes more wearable and reviews state they’re comfortable and well made.
  2. Cotton Cable Sweater. A wool sweater may be warm a cozy, but it can get itchy and stifling once the temps rise. This sweater from J. Crew will be comfortable now with a layer (I have a cotton cable from Lands’ End and wear a knit or plaid flannel under it), and will be a great transition piece come spring. This sweater comes in classic navy but I like the crispness of the ivory. Pair now with a pleated or a-line skirt and tights for a modern take on collegiate chic; come spring pair with a twill pencil skirt and pumps, or go monochromatic with white or ivory jeans and nude shoes and touches of gold jewelry. If unsure, go up a size for the slouchy relaxed fit that will look great over skirts and with pants, jeans, and even shorts.
  3. Silk Paisley Square Scarf. Some of my favorite scarves are from Lands’ End; great quality, beautiful prints, and awesome prices (this one is currently on sale). A scarf can completely transform your wardrobe with a simple knot. I love folding square scarves into a triangle and tying “cowboy style” around the neck; adjust the knot to the length of drape you find most flattering. Just this past week I folded a square scarf this size into a long oblong a couple inches wide, wrapped around the neck and tied just the edges together in the front, then pulled at the fabric so it covered the knot and looked a bit messy; perfect tucked into the collar of a shirt or with a wider neck top and jacket. Tie onto the handle of your bag for a pop of color, if it doesn’t fit as a belt just knot on one belt loop for an accent, and wear in the classic “flight attendant” style with a striped boatneck, jeans, and a pair of canvas sneakers come spring.
  4. Silk Cotton Shirt in a Statement Color. There’s no better color to liven up a wardrobe than yellow and this shirt from Gap is full of spirit. You may argue that yellow is a very hard color to wear, but this is a statement piece that goes beyond coloring. Right now, slip under a gray or olive green sweater and pair with black trousers to add a pop of spring to your winter basics. When it warms, wear untucked with slim or straight dark denim, flats and gold jewelry. Come summer, wear this shirt tucked into a white pencil skirt or wear as a beach coverup. Size up for a slouchier fit; when wearing untucked don’t be afraid to unbutton another button and add modesty with a camisole and casually roll the sleeves. A color like this works best when it’s worn in a casual “oh this thing?” sort of way.
  5. Mixed Print Silk Top. The ‘Eliza’ top from Boden is a perennial fave by many including me. I have one and I love the flattering shape, the seasonless cut and fabric, and how it is so versatile. This print really called out to me because it would transition so nicely from now into the warmer months. Right now, pair with a navy cardigan and jeans or trousers; come spring lighten it with white jeans or a twill pencil skirt and bare legs. Also available in three other prints, this is a great wardrobe addition that looks fresh now but will become a closet classic.
  6. Dark Wash Straight Jeans. We’ve done skinny, boyfriend, distressed, coated, zippers, patches, high waist, low rise, and everything in between. It makes a classic fit and wash feel all the more modern and fresh. I’m a huge fan of Gap’s Real Straight jeans; they’re flattering to many different figures (I raved about them, Adrien at Looks Good from the back raved about them), they’re reasonably priced, and come in a bunch of different sizes and lengths. A straight leg is far more flattering with flat shoes than skinny or bootcut, and is still slim enough to fit into tall boots. No need to tell you how to wear a pair of jeans, just that denim doesn’t have to be so complicated. When you’re overwhelmed and frustrated by denim options, there’s nothing wrong with going back to a classic. Dark, crisp, and simple is always in style.
  7. Bucket Bag. This spring, the Bucket Bag and the Backpack have returned and are hotter than ever. Both styles are great for actually carting around your stuff, but a bucket is more versatile of a trend and likely to be in style longer. I was drawn to this bag by Deux Lux because it’s classic with a twist. I think the fringe is too much fun, and it keeps the bag from looking too basic without having it too crazy for most workplaces. Imagine it now with a black turtleneck sweater, dark jeans and tall boots. Come spring pair with white jeans and a chambray shirt or a simple black shift dress and flats. With two different strap lengths, this can be a shoulder bag or switch to being a crossbody. The price is nice making it a trend you can try without breaking the bank.
  8. Oversized Wayfarers. Ray-Bans are a classic, their Clubmasters, aviators, and Wayfarers have been in style for decades and likely many more to come. I’ve been drooling over these oversized versions of the classic Wayfarers. The traditional size looks a bit goofy on my head; the bigger size has a modern feel but isn’t so trendy you’ll regret the purchase in a year (and the more face your sunglasses cover, the more sun protection and the more you can get away without makeup on an early Sunday bagel run). These sunglasses are the type that are cool on 21 year olds and 71 year olds; care for them and they can last a lifetime. Envision them now with a beanie, parka with a fur-trimmed collar and warm boots; come spring wear with a striped tee and dark jeans or a simple frock and some Chucks for the weekend.
  9. Voile Dress. This simple dress from Splendid is so versatile. Right now, wear with black tights and booties, a denim jacket and a scarf looped around your neck. Come spring push up the sleeves and wear with bare legs and mid-calf or ankle boots, with a long pendant necklace and heels, or a beaded necklace and Birkenstocks. Available in four colors, I love the orange-red color, which looks so great with denim, white, black, olive, turquoise, and navy.
  10. Gold Fish Hook Choker. I believe in the power of a statement accessory that whispers instead of screaming. Last spring I purchased a simple gold cuff from Rebecca Minkoff and it has garnered more compliments than bolder more unique pieces in my jewelry collection and I haven’t tired of it. I feel this necklace from BaubleBar achieves the same effect for a really great low price. It is a style that could become a signature piece you wear almost every day; pair now over turtlenecks and come spring have it peek out of unbuttoned collars and add interest to simple crewnecks. To preserve the finish of gold costume jewelry, wipe down after wearing, don’t let it get wet, and store in a Ziploc bag.
  11. French Sailor’s Shirt. This is the time of year where you start realizing how worse for wear your knits may be. Stretched out, faded, stained, yellowed, and just not looking crisp any longer. When it comes to a wardrobe classic like a striped knit, it’s smart to buy quality so it stays looking great longer and lives through multiple wears and washings. LL Bean is known for quality and this heavier-weight knit does not disappoint. Available in five different colors and a broad range of sizes, my favorite is the navy stripe, a classic that will look so fresh now under a wool blazer and come spring with ankle pants and colorful flats.

My Wardrobe Today – Friday

Jacket - Limited (at least 10 years old – similar)
Tank - Caslon (similar)
Necklace – J. Crew via eBay
JeansGap “Long and Lean” via the DC Sip & Swap
Shoes - Miss Sixty “Jaiden”
BraceletsLauren Ralph Lauren and Ann Taylor

So um… two things going on here. You’ll see that not only am I wearing my engagement ring, but also my wedding band! I was able to get it on this past weekend and have been wearing ever since. I haven’t been able to fit it since my first trimester and even then it was a tight fit!

Second… these jeans? I picked them up in a rush at the DC Sip & Swap and got home, hoping they would run large. I couldn’t even get them over my butt and thighs. This morning I was looking for my old Gap Essential jeans, thinking maybe I could cuff them like boyfriend jeans. Digging through the “To Donate/Swap/eBay” bag I found these jeans and gave them a chance. They FIT! Me, in a size 10 pair of jeans? This hasn’t happened in YEARS! Happy Friday to me!

This weekend is my friend’s baby shower, and there is a blues music festival in town. Otherwise pretty free. I hope me and the fam can relax, get this bug past us 100% (Emerson is pretty sick again and my husband is also battling it). What are your plans for the weekend?

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Spring Wardrobe Additions

Now that the cast is off and the swelling has gone down, I can finally get into the spring fashion spirit! Here’s a few things I have recently purchased and like very much:

1. Well all know my adoration for stripes; when I saw this shirt at J. Crew Factory was only $21 I had to try it. I love the fit, the shape, the fabric, everything. It’s tempting to get it in gray as well!

2. I don’t ever shop Walmart, but I was on vacation in a small town where it was the only place to go to get a pair of shorts for Emerson. While there, I found these shorts by Faded Glory for $12.94 and I must say they’re pretty great. Good length that is comfortable yet not dowdy, a bit of stretch so they’re flexible but also keep their shape, and a nice non-dorky wash. Totally got rid of the cheesy neon skinny belt and will likely do an at-home distressing on them, but not too shabby. As with any shorts, I went a size up for a better fit.

3. I don’t own this EXACT shirt from Boden, but unfortunately the one I got is no longer on the site. This shirt featured is the Eliza Top, and I own the Eliza, but in a cerulean and navy stripe (yep MORE stripes!). I absolutely positively LOVE this shirt; I love silk but hate washing it (this shirt is machine washable); I like ¾ and bracelet-length sleeves now to protect my scar but stay breezy (this shirt has it), and I love a top that is casual like a tee but can dress up for work (wearing it right now with a pair of trousers and pumps, looks great tucked into a pencil skirt, and this weekend wore with boyfriend jeans). The Eliza Top from Boden is a regular in their collection and a great addition to many wardrobes!

4. I now own five pairs of Nine West’s Flax pump (black, natural, silver, peacock print, red and black spotted haircalf). I know that seems a bit insane, but it’s a pretty perfect shoe. Single sole, pointed toe, walkable heel height, and a nice price. I’ve been wanting a “nude” leather pointed toe pump for over a year, but find each pair is too pale, too dark, too pink, too something for me. The Flax’s Natural Leather is a pretty perfect shade for me, and I love having a shoe that looks great with both pants and skirts.

5. Another silky shirt with an in-between sleeve length! This is the Sophie Blouse from Dobbin Clothing, and while it has the same basics I like from the Boden Eliza Top, it gives a completely different effect thanks to the details. Slightly crinkled silk, gold buttons down the front, and blousy sleeves. The color makes it work with black, brown, ivory, and denim quite nicely. I often wear this blouse untucked with dark wash narrow jeans, but also wear to work tucked into ivory tropical wool trousers.

6. I mentioned my desire for delicate gold this spring, and I am still loving my Rebecca Minkoff cuff; I also picked up this dangly but not too jingly bracelet from Nordstrom for $24; it doesn’t look cheapy, it’s stretchy and doesn’t get in the way when I type.

7. This Panama hat is only $17 from J. Crew Factory. Runs a bit wide, but I like that because I can twist up my hair and tuck it in the brim to keep my neck cool (or hide bad hair).

8. Me and my Lifetherapy bracelets – it’s an addiction! I love turquoise, I have a few bracelets from the company in blue (see here) so it brightens up my current collection, and this one has an Aquarius symbol! I like that these bracelets are just one long cord; I’ve been known to also wear them as a long necklace with tanks in the summer!

9. Seriously, the Converse Shorelines are my jam! I’ve missed having casual tennis shoes for spring and summer, and these are so easy to slip on, no heel blisters, and no looking as though I’m wearing shoeboxes on my already chubby feet.

10. Linen always looks like such a mess on me.  Well this spring I’ve given up being crisp, and have embraced the casual wrinkled-ness of linen.  My J.Jill white linen big shirt is great knotted over distressed jeans, and these pants (the Julie fit from LOFT) I love with a simple cotton knit sweater, silk blouse, or with a denim shirt.

***

Outfit posts have been few and far between because it was slow and difficult getting dressed with the arm, and honestly pretty depressing. I gained weight and lost muscle being so sedentary during my time on disability, and just putting on a tee shirt could leave me in tears. And then, much of my wardrobe didn’t work with the cast, only having one arm to put myself together after using the bathroom, the stiff swollen arm and all that jazz. But I feel SO much better, have much more flexibility and less swelling and am feeling like myself again. So stay tuned, for actual posts of me wearing these new pieces!

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Review and Giveaway: J.Jill Uncomplicate Me This Spring

I learn so much from you readers: sites to visit, beauty products to try, and clothing brands to check out. Many of you have raved about J.Jill and how the brand carries quality pieces in regular, petite, tall, and women’s sizes. With spring upon us, I’ve been looking for warm weather clothes to add to my wardrobe. When BlogHer and J.Jill approached me to try out J.Jill’s linen collection, I was excited.Many of you have raved about J.Jill’s linen collection in how it washes and wears so well. Linen is one of the oldest fabrics still in use today; it was first used in Egypt where it was prized for its purity and cleanliness. Today, linen is loved for its breathability, easy care (machine washable and dryable or dry cleaned), and durability – a great linen piece can last for years of wear because it’s 2-3 times the strength of cotton and just gets softer and better with time.

This spring, J.Jill is offering Linen in a Whole New Light. Their popular linen collection is updated with fresh details, blended knits, and watercolor effect prints that offer new ways to experience the fab fabric. J.Jill’s linen blend fabrics include rayon to increase the fabrics’ softness and provide luster and drape; and cotton for softness, a cool touch, and to minimize shrinkage (J.Jill’s linen can take a tumble in the dryer!).

J.Jill Pure Jill Indigo Knit Easy Dress

It has been hard finding clothes that work with my cast; something that fits over it, is easy to put on, something uncomplicated. Knit dresses have been great with the cast so I decided to try the Pure Jill Indigo Knit Easy Dress. When it was cold I wore the dress with leggings, tall boots, and a scarf for an easy casual look. With the temps rising, the dress is great for running errands with a pair of tennis shoes or Capri leggings and ballet flats. This is a Large Petite.

J.Jill Linen Big Shirt and Perfect Tank

I’ve wanted a white linen shirt; as soon as I heard about this opportunity I checked out J.Jill’s Linen Big Shirt. I ordered a Petite Large, which fit perfectly… except it didn’t fit over the cast. I went to the store and exchanged it for a Regular XL, which gives it a true big shirt look and fits over my right arm. For this weekend look I paired it with the J.Jill Perfect Tank (size Petite Large) and an old favorite pair of jeans. This shirt would look great knotted over a pencil skirt, belted over skinny jeans, or under a cropped top for a trendy silhouette. I must say the Perfect Tank is exactly that; having a petite tank is a game changer; it still has enough length but the neckline doesn’t gape and my bra straps stay well covered. The tank is an opaque, smooth refined knit that could dress up to be a shell under a casual blazer or paired with a full midi skirt and sandals. I liked this tank so much I got a second one in black!

Interested in checking out J.Jill’s Linen collection to uncomplicate your spring wardrobe? I’ve got two ways for you to do it for less!

Promotion
Use promotion code BLOGHER at checkout and get 30% off one full-priced item! This code is valid through May 21, 2014.

Giveaway

One Wardrobe Oxygen reader will win a $100 J.Jill gift card! To enter leave me a comment letting me know what is your favorite spring look!

Sweepstakes Rules:
No duplicate comments.  You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.  The Official Rules are available here.  This sweepstakes runs from 4/3/2014-5/27/2014.

Be sure to visit the J.Jill brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

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Live. Learn. Get Linen.

I don’t like looking like a mess. Because usually… I am a mess. I’m the gal with coffee spilled on her shirt and her hem held up with safety pins so when I have the ability to control the situation… I do. I buy wrinkle-free button front shirts and still iron them, I have a repair kit in my purse with a Tide to Go pen, fashion tape and plenty of safety pins, and I usually choose a stretchy knit over something crisp that can be creased before I get to the office.

But messes happen, and with time I’ve learned to accept them and make them work. When I think about this evolution, I think of this brilliant series of commercials by the diaper company Luvs. My favorite of the bunch:

Life happens. Messes happen. You can restrict yourself until the cows come home to prevent a mess, or you can accept them, learn from them, and improve. With my experience I’ve learned that it’s okay to have a wrinkle or two, and this year I FINALLY embraced linen.

I have J.Jill to thank; when I was part of their Linen in a Whole New Light promotion this spring, I realized that some linen looks pretty good even when it’s rumpled. My white Big Shirt from them was something I chose because it fit over the cast, but has become a summer staple (see me wearing it on Instagram) because it protects me from the sun and is actually more comfortable in the heat than a stretchy tank top. I bought a pair of lined linen trousers from LOFT earlier this year; they’re machine washable which gives them an all-over purposeful wrinkled look straight from the dryer that looks cool with cotton voile tops and simple tanks and makes the creases from sitting less noticeable.

how to style linen summer

By incorporating linen I’ve learned some ways to wear it without looking like a messy paper bag:

  • Go White. White linen for some reason looks crisper than colors, and fresher than beige. The sun also reflects, hiding the wrinkles. Pair with a print that has white in it so the eye notices that more than any creases. These trousers from NYDJ (1) come in regular and petite lengths (and a few colors in plus) and are a classic cut that can dress up and down with ease. Choose a longer blouse or sweater to hide the jean-inspired pockets to dress up, or wear with a simple striped tank and sandals for the weekend.
  • Choose a Print. Prints take focus and disguise wrinkles. A print with lines and sharp angles really help hide creases, and one with a white ground reflects more light, diffusing lines. I’m loving this Ikat print dress from J.Jill (2), it comes in petite, tall and women sizes and has pockets deep enough to replace a purse for trips to the farmers market or a wine festival. Add a cardigan and pumps for the office, strappy heels for a shower or fundraiser, and casual sandals for the weekend.
  • Get Slouchy. If it’s oversized or slouchy, the wrinkles are part of its charm. I love this relaxed linen tunic from Garnet Hill (3); the rolled sleeves and longer look will be even more chic with a rumpled finish. Pair with ankle pants and pointed toe flats for a casual office, wear with denim shorts and sandals for running errands, even take on your beach vacation and let it work double duty as your beach coverup!
  • Choose a Blend. Linen blended with another fabric isn’t as prone to wrinkles. If you choose cotton, silk or another breathable fabric you can still keep cool in the summer heat. I’ve worn the “Taylor” fit of trousers from Halogen and find them quite flattering; this cropped version (4) has the slouchy vibe that’s hot this season without being passé by next summer. Available in regular and petite lengths and up to a size 16 (the line runs generous, if you’re between sizes you likely can go down), these can dress up for work with a blouse and pumps or be chic for drinks with a boxy linen tank and strappy heels.

It’s ridiculous to suffer for fashion rules. It’s hot out there, you’ll look far more stylish if you’re happy and comfortable with a few creases than restricted and sweating for the sake of style!

T.J.Maxx 1000th Store comes to Washington DC

Today marks a momentous occasion for T.J.Maxx – their 1,000th store opens. It also marks a momentous occasion for all DC fashionistas – this store is in our very city at Metro Center!  Last night I had the opportunity to get a tour of the new T.J.Maxx and learn a bit about the company.

The new DC T.J.Maxx is FABULOUS. I have been a “Maxxinista” since middle school (even scored one of my prom dresses at T.J.Maxx!).  I love how I can find designer and on-trend pieces for less and how I know that discount price doesn’t mean sub-par quality.  I have been to a good dozen different T.J.Maxx stores over the years. This one blows the rest out of the water. When you enter the doors, you see a few accessories, but when you take the escalator down, you are amazed at the incredible size (over 28,000 square feet!) and airiness of the store. A huge jewelry area with display cases full of on-trend necklaces and bracelets leads you to well-organized departments for clothing, shoes, menswear, children, beauty, luggage, and home.  I also loved the displays – mannequins, display cubes and T-fixtures to break up the rolling rack monotony and showcase really great pieces.

Hey, I recognize those stripes and that chevron knit! Click the images to see them larger.

The T.J.Maxx at Metro Center has The Runway – a department that showcases high-end designer clothing and accessories at fabulous T.J.Maxx discount prices. T.J.Maxx doesn’t like anyone to state what brands are featured, but these pictures hopefully will give you an example of the amazing designers available!

Shoes, shoes, shoes! I was in love with their extensive shoe selection, the brands totally impressed me!

Along with chi chi brands, T.J.Maxx has a lot of popular department-store brands, and styles that are currently popular and available at regularly-priced retailers. Unlike department stores who purchase new merchandise monthly or quarterly, T.J.Maxx buyers are shopping weekly, reacting to the most current trends for up-to-date fashion. Each store receives around 10,000 new pieces each week, so your local T.J.Maxx can be a completely different store each time you visit. T.J.Maxx doesn’t just buy from big brands, they have over 15,000 vendors they work with, which means you may find big covetable brand names, or you may find a unique leather bag from an independent designer in Florence or a beautiful bowl crafted from a beachside Thai artist.  I can attest to this, owning a gorgeous hand-painted tablecloth from India that I found at T.J.Maxx and would never be able to find at any local retailer.

Liz from So Much to Smile About showing off an adorable popular designer dress she found at T.J.Maxx

T.J.Maxx may have low prices, but they do not have low quality. Over 85% of merchandise in their stores is current – anything from last season is marked and priced as such (except for items that don’t change with the trends like holiday gift wrap). Also 95% of T.J.Maxx merchandise is first quality (same quality you find at department stores), that other 5% is marked as such and has a lower ticket price.  I saw the same dress I bought at Nordstrom last month on a rack for almost 50% of what I paid. 

The new Metro Center T.J.Maxx is located at 601 13th St, NW and is open 9:30am to 9:30pm Monday-Saturday and 11:00am to 8:00pm on Sundays. I encourage you to check it out, and be sure to report back to let me know what great deals you scored!

Note: I did receive a gift card for attending the store preview, but was not asked to write this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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What I Wore: Ikat Believe It

Jacket: LOFT (similar) | Tank: c/o J.Jill | Pants: LOFT | Shoes: Nine West | Bracelet: Rebecca Minkoff | Lipstick: Korres Guava Lipstick in Wine Red

I swore off LOFT for a while, the quality had really gone downhill and the sizing was inconsistent. However, this winter I tried them again and found some great wardrobe staples that were the quality I remembered from before and a 14 petite pant, especially in the “Julie” cut fits me quite nicely. I haven’t really been a pants person in recent years, but after being in a cast so long I really enjoy more effortless clothing and pants allow me freedom. I’ve been gravitating towards more pants for the workweek, and have to say most of the pants I now own are LOFT.

While I paired the pants in this post with an ivory jacket, I wore them to work with a black boatneck tee (see here on Instagram) and out to dinner with a bright green silk drapey sleeveless top.  Crazypants can be versatile!

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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!

Concert Review: Jim James at the 9:30 Club

When I was in high school I obsessed over certain bands and singers. Sometimes it was because their lyrics spoke to me, their beats could make me dance all night… but usually it was because of image. Some hot guy mourning over a girl, a badass woman with a nose ring singing about female empowerment. The image always did it for me, it was that thing that got me emotionally invested in an artist.

I’ve written about my reconnection to music before, but a big difference in my new love of music and old is the lack of the visual. I’m not turning on MTV every day after school, I’m not seeking out videos on YouTube or Googling pictures of artists. Often, I find band recommendations from the pages of Rolling Stone or Bust, or through friends or music forums. I often download music or add to a Spotify playlist based solely on the artists’ name or title and maybe a brief paragraph or “sounds like” description.

While there are some artists I find even better with the visual (well HELLO Father John Misty), many I prefer without the visual to muddy the message. One I think of the most is Jim James and My Morning Jacket. I find this man and this band utterly brilliant – simple yet poetic lyrics, creative songs, ability to play so many different instruments, music that is entertaining, thought-provoking, catchy, yet unique. As for appearance? I don’t care what they’re wearing, I don’t care what they look like, I don’t really care one way or another about album art and have seen very few videos. I just love Jim’s voice, the lyrics, the sound, the whole package.

My mediocre Instagram photos; for far better shots of the show see Brightest Young Things‘ article

This past Tuesday, I went with my sister and husband to see Jim James perform solo at the 9:30 Club. We’re such big fans of MMJ that we’re fan club members, and got there early for primo location during the live event. The show did not disappoint – Jim James is a genius and also a stellar performer. I think the show blew Karl’s mind; he’s not the type to get all gaga over anything, but is a giggle teenager when it comes to Jim James. I had a blast, he was SO good, so engaging with the audience, did a fan-geek encore with solo, MMJ and Monsters of Folk songs (as well as a couple covers). In my eyes, James can do no wrong and I can’t wait to see him again at Forecastle Fest this July.

I go to see concerts these days to see the artists do what they do best – perform their music. Jam out, see the skill on their instruments, hear voices without computer enhancement, experience the unexpected. When I was younger, I geeked over musicians hoping to touch them, make eye contact, have a bit of a fantasy in my head along with the songs. Now, I just want to go on the ride that comes with the music, and the scenery is in my mind. I think this is why I have become a major geek over Jim James and My Morning Jacket; I think they encourage this sort of fandom. They want us to think, they want us to journey, they want us to be surprised and elated and excited and they feel these emotions with us through the concert.


If Jim James is heading to a venue near you I encourage you to get a ticket. He’s hitting up venues much smaller than MMJ would perform at, and not many know him by his name meaning the crowd is friendly yet passionate. I hadn’t been to a show since Superbowl weekend and this show was just what the doctor ordered to get my music mojo back and have me in the swing for festival season!

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Jockey Skimmies Slipshort – An Unbiased Review

Jockey Skimmies Slipshort Review

I’m a gal who deals with chub rub (chafing between the thighs especially during hot weather); when I saw so many bloggers recently promote the Jockey Skimmies Slipshort I was curious. I receive free product in exchange for reviews on Wardrobe Oxygen and know how hard it is to be unbiased in such a situation.  I decided to buy a pair with my own money so I can be as honest as I like and share with you!

Truthfully, I expected to be disappointed in the Skimmies because I’ve tried the Jockey “Preferred by Rachel Zoe” line before and was not impressed (and had to write a sponsored review hence my desire to try on my terms). But my beloved black Kmart bike shorts from 2007 (have never found a worthy replacement) are getting threadbare and summer is here so I was ready for a replacement to wear under dresses and skirts to prevent chafing.

There are four types of the Jockey Skimmies – regular, anti-static, wicking, and short length. I decided to go with the regular, and because I’m petite, also grabbed a pair of the short length. I purchased both in Light (beige) and both in size Large (Jockey says this is equal to a 10-12 or panty size 6, but reviews online said these slipshorts run large).

Both are made exactly of the same material, and fit pretty much the same except for leg length. On my size 14, 5’3″ frame, the regular ended 2.5” above the top of my knee, the short 6.5” above my knee. As for the fabric, it’s opaque enough in case you have a Marilyn moment you won’t look as though you’re wearing cutoff pantyhose but obviously more lingerie than gym wear.

The Pros:

The fabric is awesome, it is silky enough to have knits slip over it, but doesn’t get gross with sweat and heat. The waistband doesn’t bind at ALL, they feel as though I’m not wearing anything. The legs don’t dig and there aren’t any visible seams; you could wear these under lightweight pants and slim knit dresses without any lines. “Light” is a perfect match to my light to medium skintone. They don’t stretch out at the waist or legs and they don’t make me feel hotter with an extra layer.  The Large is extremely comfortable from top to bottom.  I need to again mention how utterly comfortable these are, you truly feel as though you’re wearing nothing at all.

The Cons:

They claim to have a cotton gusset, but it doesn’t seem like it; it’s same color, nubby, and doesn’t breathe any better than the rest of the slipshort. This means on a hot day with a lot of walking, it can get a bit… swampy down there.

The regular length Skimmies didn’t ride. AT ALL. I wore them for 11 hours straight and they didn’t shift or sag or bunch, they stayed exactly in place, even when I got hot and sweaty, even after walking for 20 minutes straight. However they are so long on me that they can only be worn with midi and maxi skirts.  Even a knee-length skirt is too short if I climb stairs or cross my legs.

The short Skimmies… they ride.  When I stand from my chair I want to tug at them, when I walk a block I want to tug at them. The good thing is that it’s usually only one leg at a time that rides up so I still end up without chub rub, but if you don’t get a chance to tug down that one leg and sit again, both will ride up and they become useless.

Final Verdict:

Close… and closer than anything else I have tried but not perfect. I like them enough that I’m going to try the wicking version in black, and for long days and music festivals will likely wear a pair of cotton underwear under them. However for shorter dresses, I’ll wear my one pair of short Skimmies but I’m still on the hunt for something better.

Have you tried the Jockey Skimmies Slipshorts? Do you have another product you find perfect for battling summer chafing and chub rub?

What My Brain Has Been Absorbing – Spring 2013

I’m not going to become a lifestyle blog, but I have read and seen and listened to some pretty fantastic and interesting things lately (and some not so awesome but popular things) and wanted to share. My friend Nicole calls her music reviews All Up in My Earholes and I love that; this is my less catchy way of describing what media I have been enjoying…

Grace: A Memoir by Grace Coddington
Of course I had to read this. My mom got it for me for my birthday and I was SO EXCITED! It was on every stylista’s must-have holiday gift list, it had to be good, right?

Eh… I think it was on everyone’s list because they needed more orange-colored fashion books in their colorblocked bookcases, or because it’s a book that adds contrast to the solid black Manolo that is placed upon it for a home shoot. I feel that Coddington phoned it in until around page 275 when she began sharing tales of her time at American Vogue. Only then, did we see a peek into her personality and get fun stories about her colleagues. The entire time I read it, I felt that she wrote the book purely because she became a household name after The September Issue and some publisher told her to do this so she could have a cushy retirement. I always liked her work in Vogue and The September Issue really made me like Coddignton as a person; this book made me like her less. If you read this book, I’d love to hear your view on it.

Goats
There are some movies that are just so charming they stick in your brain for a long time. You remember parts almost as though you lived them. This happens often for me with books, but rarely for movies; I can think Little Miss Sunshine, Amelie, The Science of Sleep, Waitress, a few others. Well now I can add Goats.

Maybe it’s because I live in a hippie town with some folks who remind me of characters in this movie, maybe because I like goats, but I found this movie utterly charming. It’s a movie I would re-watch on a rainy Sunday, curled up in an afghan. This isn’t a movie with suspense or passionate love or an exciting twist but I loved it, and think I loved it because it meandered the way in which it did.

Regions of Light and Sound of God by Jim James
Fear Fun by Father John Misty
My husband has a habit of wearing an album out. He’ll put six CDs in his car’s stereo and not switch them out for six months, and will play one album on the iPod or Spotify until he knows all the lyrics. While this can be good (really getting to know a new band or learning the lyrics of cool songs), it can get you to the point where you never want to hear the band again (sorry Tool fans, but thanks to Karl I have had enough Maynard for the rest of my existence). So when I hear an album 40 times and still look forward to hearing it again, it’s gotta be pretty unique and pretty good.

I don’t think any of you are surprised that I love Jim James’ solo work (he’s the lead singer of My Morning Jacket). The thing is, the first time I heard it I felt very meh. The second time, I liked it. Now that I am on the 40th listen, I am a mega fan. This is why I like My Morning Jacket so much – there’s depth and weird little things you notice each time you listen that makes you like it more, makes you think more, makes you react differently each time. The same holds true for this album. I’d love to write more, but I can’t hold a candle to those who write music reviews professionally, and those I have read I agree with wholeheartedly.

And now we turn to J. Tillman, the crazy and obnoxious and weirdly sexy ex-member of Fleet Foxes and now performing at Father John Misty. A friend whose music tastes I respect mentioned he was playing Fear Fun nonstop so I decided to check it out. This was another album that did better with Karl playing it on non-stop repeat. I went from feeling ambivalent to becoming a mega fan and am psyched to see him in May at The 9:30 Club. I would never compare Father John Misty to MMJ, but this album is another where each time you listen you catch something else; with Tillman it is his lyrics. And then if you head to YouTube and watch some of the videos of his live performances and interviews you too many find him weird, obnoxious, but strangely sexy.  Again, if you want more detail about the album, check out professionally written reviews, I have found most to be favorable.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I am totally the type to pick up a book or download an album purely because someone I follow on Twitter or Instagram mentioned that they liked it or are reading/currently listening to it. And I did that with this book. I knew nothing about it, didn’t know the plot, never read anything before by the author, didn’t know it was considered a YA novel, just so happened I had finished my current book on Kindle and just got paid and downloaded it after seeing it on social media. And I couldn’t read it fast enough, I was so engrossed and in love and interested to see how it ended and I cried and I even cried just thinking about the book a week after finishing. After months of reading just for work or blog with a random chick lit or 50 Shades of Crap tossed in, it was a lovely change and made me make the switch back to the occasional emotional and well-written novel for a break from the 9-5.

The Sweet Valley Confidential “The Sweet Life” Series
If you’re around my age, you likely gobbled up every book from the Sweet Valley High Series while in high school. You knew they were sort of lame and cliché and unrealistic and a teenager’s version of a Lifetime Movie but you didn’t care, they were fun. The Sweet Valley Confidential series came out, got bad reviews and I wasn’t very interested. And then I saw a SVH mention on the forums of GOMI, went to check them out in the Kindle store, saw the first of the series was only $1.99 and decided to read. And I read the entire The Sweet Life series. And I want that part of my life back.

I HAD to keep reading to see what happened. And what happened wasn’t very interesting or very well written. I understand if you too feel the need to read them, I fully get it. But don’t say I didn’t warn you…

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Giveaway: Gap Skimmer Jeans – Save and Win!

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

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

How to Enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Gap Skimmers: Versatile Style for Now and Spring

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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Future Past Present: Holdin’ On To Band Posters

Our home is a constant work in progress. Even though the remodel/addition was almost four years ago, we are yet to be fully settled. I guess having a kid can do that. We have also had a few family changes – the passing of my father-in-law just two months before Emerson’s birth, the recent move of my husband’s grandparents from their family home to assisted living… these have caused us to acquire a lot of new things. Things that mean a lot, but don’t really have homes. It’s hard deciding what gets real estate in the house, what gets stored for now, and what leaves forever. Hard from a style point… and also an emotional point.

It seems every weekend we’re rearranging wall hangings, moving pieces to the attic, posting items on Freecycle. It often seems like a real-life game of Tetris. Last week I brought home the artwork from my office as we moved locations and I no longer have a wall to hang them. I realized the frame holding my map of DC is the perfect size for the signed My Morning Jacket poster we got at Forecastle. Not only that, but the clouds in the print are the same color as our bedroom walls. My husband saw that as fate and admitted after many many months that he doesn’t like the paintings of his dad and himself on the bedroom wall, it creeps him out. So we took them down in hopes to find a new home in the house, and for the short term, put up the poster. We decided to frame the rest of the concert posters we have collecting dust in a cardboard tube and make a gallery wall in the bedroom.

Saturday night we were hanging out in our bedroom after Emerson went to sleep, listening to music, drinking wine, and looking at the poster on the wall. It’s amazing how a change of wall art can transform the entire energy of a room. Karl kept examining the poster, and said he wanted to cut it up and put the toy together. I said we couldn’t, it’s a signed poster, and a memento from a great weekend. He said we have a second one (one for each ticket…) so we wouldn’t be SOL.

But then I saw life in 50 years. Emerson has just had us move to assisted living, or just got home from one of our funerals. She pours a glass of wine and walks around the empty house she grew up in, overwhelmed by all the stuff. She comes up to our bedroom, it still smells like us, and her mind is full of memories of being a kid, waking us up, family snuggle on Sunday mornings, playing with my makeup at my dressing table. She walks around the room, reminiscing. She stops at the framed poster, and thinks, I always wanted to know what that toy would look like. Fuck it, I’m going to do it. She grabs a pair of scissors and a glue stick and sitting on our bed or on the floor, puts together the toy. She then has a pang of regret, realizing she destroyed something that meant a lot to her parents. As she goes to clean up her mess and put the frame back together, she sees there are other sheets in the frame… a second poster! She laughs and cries at the same time, and puts the frame together and carries it downstairs to put with the other items that will transfer to her home.

We decided to slip a note into the frame, letting the next owner (be it Emerson or another) know it’s okay to cut up the poster. That we wanted to do the same, but held off so the next owner could enjoy it. I hope it does end up being Emerson, and I hope it does give her a bit of joy and a laugh at a time when she may really need it.

It’s hard to see loved ones get older, be hospitalized, placed in nursing homes, die. Karl and I have had quite a lot of that in the past two decades. Through all this loss, we have seen how family truly shapes you – it helps define you, understand why you are the way you are. And one can’t realize how truly wonderful life is without some pain for contrast. We’ve found laughter in the tears with the crazy things we have found while cleaning out our loved ones’ belongings, it feels good to possibly provide the same for Emerson just at the time she may need it. Now I understand why our families held on to so much stuff – you never know which little thing will be sentimental, emotional, or necessary for your next of kin.

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How My Morning Jacket Changed My Life

It was 2006, my husband’s good friend plays the guitar and his birthday was coming up. My husband decided to get him a concert DVD of a guitarist that is well-respected but one that he may not already know. Doing a bit of Googling, Karl found My Morning Jacket and purchased Okonokos. The night of our friend’s birthday, we watched the DVD. The friend, who is more into rock and metal wasn’t too thrilled. But me… my life was forever changed.


I fell madly and passionately in love with My Morning Jacket – it was as though all the styles and genres of music I loved most were melded into one band. The sound was refreshing, engaging, unique, intense. It brought me back to my high school self.

Do you recall seeing this girl at the 9:30 Club in the late ’80s and early ’90s?

In high school, music defined my life. I would go to the 9:30 Club without even knowing what artist was performing, just for the rush of live music and learning new tunes. Merriweather Post Pavilion felt like my summer home. I would go to Kemp Mill Records or a record shop in Georgetown and pick albums based upon the look of the cover, sometimes buying duds and sometimes finding new favorites. Freshman year of college, I roomed with a girl who preferred R&B, and we would play “Janet” by Janet Jackson on repeat (and saw her in concert two nights in a row). I can remember hanging out in my friends Brian and Joel’s dorm room, listening to the first seconds of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” over and over to hear that Mac truck zoom on the speakers.

Then sophomore year came, and I was living off-campus, working two jobs, and rushing a sorority. Music went on the back burner, and was mainly DMB and the Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction soundtracks – essentially, whatever I heard while downing cheap beer at one of the local bars. The busier I got, the less I listened to music. I think my senior year I only purchased three CDs – Jewel, The Wallflowers, and Seven Mary Three. When I entered the retail world after college, music was the two-hour playlist that corporate sent us once a month – to this day I know all the lyrics to most any pop Christmas song (or anything retailers considered a holiday song, such as this one). I would usually drive to work with the radio off, trying to have a moment of calm before the insanity that is a shopping mall.

When I left the apparel world, I went into an office setting, where I had more time to listen to music. At first, I started with popular FM-radio music, but learned about a few new artists thanks to coworkers. I downloaded iTunes and got an iPod in 2005 and bought a few “best alternative songs of the year” compilations to try to learn about what was out there that I couldn’t hear on VH1 or DC101. And then I saw Okonokos and I realized that the years where I didn’t really have music in my life were years where I just didn’t feel right… feel like myself. I always felt transient, disconnected, unsure of myself. This was seen in what I wore, how I spent my downtime, even how I performed at work.

I even went to Bonnaroo when I was pregnant – one of my best Roo experiences!

I researched My Morning Jacket after that night of Okonokos, and through that, learned about the Bonnaroo Music Festival. I also found Inforoo, a forum dedicated to those who attend Bonnaroo, and through that learned about so many other artists (and amazing people who lived for live music). Me, my husband, sister, and that guitarist friend went to Bonnaroo together in 2007 where we saw artists from pretty much every genre under the sun perform live and blow our socks off. We have been to Bonnaroo several times since, and this year will be going to Forecastle, a music festival where My Morning Jacket is the curator and headliner.

Me & my husband tailgating before the 2011 MMJ show at Merriweather Post Pavilion

Since then, music is again a major part of my life. Since having Emerson, concerts are the way that my husband and I enjoy a monthly date night. We have playlists for cooking breakfast on a Sunday morning, and a different one for when we eat the meal. The latest issue of Rolling Stone is read before Elle or Bazaar, and we’re always on the hunt for new artists to add to the iPod. Music defines the good moments, and helps get through the bad. There is a soundtrack for all aspects of my life, and it makes each event fuller and more colorful. Music has introduced me to some of the most amazing people, and is a wonderful art I can share with my child. Music has helped me come back to who I really am… and if it weren’t for My Morning Jacket I may still be lost.

What do you have in your life to keep your grounded and true to yourself? Have you ever felt as though you got off track, and what did you do to get back?

Note: To remember which Metallica song we listened to back in college, I asked my friends on Facebook. Brought back many memories, and my friend Joel said I had to mention my haircut from that period in time, which was long and relatively normal, but shaved in back underneath.  He said I was, “the safest bad ass” he knew at that time, and I take that as a major compliment.

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My Weekend (and Concert Review)

This was an awesome weekend. I had plenty of fun time, family time, friend time, relaxing time.

The weekend began early – I worked from home the first half of the day and then took off the second half so I could get ready for the Neko Case/My Morning Jacket concert.  My Morning Jacket  is my FAVORITE band, so you know I was excited! We got pit tickets (I am a major MMJ dork and am a member of Roll Call – their fan club so I got early access to ordering tickets) and there were five of us going together so we decided to tailgate prior.

What I Wore: Denim cutoffs from Old Navy, a bold printed rayon tank with a black studded bib/straps (picked up at Downtown Cowgirl in Rehoboth), my Softspots sandals, Hobo International “Libby” bag in pumpkin.

 
Almost the entire group – somehow I never got a picture of our friend M with me!

My friend S picked up kabob goodies from a restaurant near her home – lamb, chicken, veggies and all-necessary tzatziki sauce. Her husband M brought moonshine – it was berry flavored, with strawberries and blueberries floating in it and was in an old-school Bell jar. I normally would steer VERY clear from moonshine, but I filled a glass ¼ with it, and the rest with club soda and I must say it was pretty darn berrylicious!  I felt so chi chi sitting in the Merriweather parking lot with an oversized plastic wine glass full of moonshine cocktail!  Oooh la la!

Off to the concert! We headed to the right side of the pit since we knew that’s where Jim James usually stands when performing. We caught 75% of Neko Case’s show. Before this concert I liked Neko Case. She’s not totally my thing, but I have some of her songs on my iPod. Well after her set, I am a major fan. That woman is oozing talent, and she has the sort of talent that will just increase with age.

Between sets I got a chance to check out the crowd around me. I guess my husband did too because he whispered to me, “I think we found our tribe.” I don’t find myself to be a really unusual person, but I always feel as though I stick out in most group settings (except with my closest girl friends, maybe that’s why we’re buds!). I’m overdressed or underdressed, too shy or too outgoing, older or younger, too liberal, too hippie-dippy, too preppy, too something. But this crowd was like a bunch of Allie and Mr. Allie clones. I even saw many faces that looked familiar – I think I went to college with them.

I did recognize one girl from college. She looked so familiar but I couldn’t place her until my sister admitted she too recognized her. I worked with her at the fraternity/sorority merchandise store (as did my sister). She was in a different sorority that was known for stuck-up snobs but she was always very sweet and real. In fact, she almost convinced my sister to join her sorority instead of mine (I don’t think so lady!). She was there, with a bouncy shoulder-length bob, an a jersey dress with a Morrocan-inspired print on it. She looked just like she did in college, except she was 14 years older and a few sizes larger. And with these changes she looked BETTER. She looked fun and spunky just as she did at age 21, but smarter and more confident. I said to my sister, “If I have aged the way she has, I’m a happy gal.” Seeing her and this entire crowd was a real eye-opener.

It’s hard to get older, especially when you partake in activities you also enjoyed when you were younger. At a concert in GA, I feel the age of my knees, my feet hurt, my back aches a bit. I get annoyed when someone sloshes beer all over my sandals and I wonder if folks are looking at me wondering what this old fogy is doing at a show. It was so awesome to be surrounded by our “tribe” – people our age, people who have the same passion for music that we do. We got to know our neighbors, some who had traveled cross-country to see My Morning Jacket. People who knew more about the band than we did, and were happy to drop their knowledge on us. As the concert progressed, we worked as a team, holding one another’s spot when people dashed for the bathroom, kindly asking rowdy folks to take it elsewhere, giving each other big grins during amazing parts of songs. It was a wonderful reminder that age should never stop you from doing what you love, and that instead of seeing myself as the old fogy at the concert, I should see myself as the woman who is still cool and still rocking it even though I’m a 36-year old suburban mom.

 When he went to my right, I was even closer!

So anyway, back to the concert. It. Was. Amazing. Seriously one of the best shows (or maybe THE best show) I have ever experienced. They are so incredibly talented, and Jim James is quite the performer. I was just three people from the stage, and Jim would come right up to the edge, hang over the crowd and make eye contact with all of us. The whole crowd was such strong fans of the band, it made the experience all the better – we cheered together, threw our arms in the air together, whooped and cheered together. It was quite a fabulous experience and I am an even bigger MMJ fan because of it!

After the concert we got all old school and went to a Denny’s for a midnight breakfast. I had my first Moons Over My Hammy in over a decade!

Saturday was rainy and glum, we ended up going to Annapolis Mall after we all took naps so we could have a dry (and free) place for her to burn off energy. It is amazing what malls will provide to lure people in to shop.

What I Wore: Another pair of Old Navy cutoffs (so cheap and basic), white ribbed tank from Caslon, beige crocheted sweater from Ann Taylor, my Softspots sandals (in fact, same outfit as seen here but different shoes)

 “Daddy want shoes?” What kid wouldn’t want bedazzled light-up sneaks with Dora on them? (Sorry kiddo, the answer is no.)
Having a blast in one of the play spaces in the mall

We hit two different play spaces, giving Emerson places to crawl and jump and run for two hours straight. And nope… I didn’t shop! I walked through Nordstrom and we went through Lord & Taylor but I didn’t want to spend and I had no temptation. This is a pretty big feat for me; for many years I avoided malls all together. One reason is because I spent far too many years working in them, but the other reason was because I could always justify buying something and my wallet took a beating. I have spent many years planning out my mall visits to keep them short and well-scheduled to avoid temptation (and hyperventilating and flashbacks from my retail days) but this trip was unexpected. I didn’t even think about it until my husband made a joke on the way home that the only bag I had was my leftovers from California Pizza Kitchen. It felt really good to know that I had gotten over all my mall-related issues!

Say CHEESE!

Sunday is Farmers Market Day in our household; even though the sky was still gray we still strapped Emerson in the backpack and headed to the town center. Fresh berries, greens, bacon, and of course some peach ice cream for Emerson from Simple Pleasures. It began to rain so we dashed into the local café to stay dry and enjoy some live jazz.

What I Wore: Navy cotton sundress from J. Crew (spaghetti straps, drop waist, small floral print), Softspots sandals (my husband calls them my Farmers Market shoes because I bought them to be able to walk places like the market)

“Talking on the phone” at Aunt Debbie’s house

We went home to put E down for a nap and my husband and I made BLTs and watched a movie. When Emerson woke, we took a walk and stopped by my sister’s to say hi and check out her newly decorated bathroom (now I want a lilac-colored room!). Went home where I made some kickass marinara and we had a simple spaghetti dinner.

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2013 Music in Review

As you know, Karl and I bond over music. About once a month, we get an overnight babysitter and have a date night of dinner and a concert. Our big yearly vacation is to a music festival, our house is full of vinyl and CDs, our phones and iPods with MP3s, one of the best splurges on our home remodel five years ago was outdoor speakers so we can listen to our tunes on the back deck. I thought I’d do a little 2013 music recap post, sharing the best things I experienced music-wise this year.

Favorite Music-related Stuff of 2013:

Spotify
This year we upgraded to a Spotify subscription and we adore it. I know, Spotify pays a millionth of a cent in royalties to artists, but the way we use it is to check out new and new to us artists, and then we buy the album. Spotify has a lot of smaller artists so it has been a great way to explore lesser-known musicians and I love the “Discover” feature which has introduced us to a lot of new bands.

Vinyl
Karl’s dad Chief (what we all called him, a nickname from when Karl was a little kid) was a music geek, he went to concerts with us, his car was littered with CD cases, and he could spout so much music knowledge we’d call him Google Chief. When Chief passed away unexpectedly at the end of 2008, we inherited his album collection, and you can bet it was a pretty impressive collection. We had a few records of our own, but never listened to them. We couldn’t get our turntable to fit in our entertainment cabinet, we never listened to music in the office, the albums collected dust.

At the beginning of 2013 we bit the bullet and bought a turntable; we chose the Ion Audio iPTUSB Portable USB Turntable because it was cheap, was portable (even battery operated so we take it down to the fire pit in our backyard), had a built-in speaker, and could turn records into MP3s. I gotta say, we haven’t made a single MP3 from it, but we use the heck out of this little guy. It usually resides in our bedroom which is next to the office/album room, but we have carted it all over our house and even taken it on trips with us. We plan on investing in a higher quality turntable, but for now it gets the job done.

Then, I hit the mother lode of all Freecycle scores (yes even better than my brand new IKEA chair and compost bins)… my friend’s parents decided to give away their record collection. I didn’t at the time know it was her parents, but when I pulled up I recognized the house and her dad. We left with four wine crates of vinyl in good to excellent condition with awesome music from the late ‘50s all the way through the mid ‘80s (if you followed me on Instagram back then you likely remember me sharing all the amazing albums).

Since then, we have bought new records, have gems at thrift stores, and some of Karl’s yoga students have brought him albums from their collections as gifts. After Emerson goes to bed, we regularly hole up in our bedroom listening to records and decompressing. Often we bring down the turntable and play records when we have friends for dinner, and the turntable is so easy and Emerson so technologically inclined that she will often spend an afternoon rocking out to Alvin and the Chipmunks, Disco Mickey, or one of those, “BONG turn the page!” records that accompanied books and hasn’t scratched a single album. I love the portability and sound quality of digital, but there’s something so beautiful and comforting of a vinyl record.

Favorite Albums of 2013:
Here’s a roundup of my favorite albums this year – some are new releases in 2013, some are just new to me. I won’t go into deep reviews because that’s what Pitchfork and Sterogum and Rolling Stone and Consequence of Sound and all the other great music sites and publications are for.

  • The London Souls – The London Souls. Listen with friends in the kitchen while drinking red wine and preparing dinner.
  • Drenge – Drenge. Listen when you’re cleaning a bathroom or raking leaves or pounding the elliptical.
  • Lorde – Pure Heroine. Lorde’s album is far more than “Royals.” Listen at pretty much any time.
  • The Sea and Cake – Runner. Listen to while driving on a sunny day on a smooth highway that lets you comfortably cruise over 55 MPH.
  • Savages – Silence Yourself. Listen to when in the car by yourself after a shitty work day. Play it loud.
  • Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends. Listen after the kids have gone to bed and you have an hour to just get lost in thoughts, hear the words and maybe check out a few of their videos on your phone and have a conversation with a friend or your partner about what you think of it all.
  • Father John Misty – Fear Fun. Love me some FJM, saw him live twice this year and would see him again if he came to town. Listen when doing something else, then listen again when you have some time to hear the lyrics. Listen with a friend so you can discuss the man and the music.
  • The National – Trouble Will Find Me. It took this album for me to understand and love The National. I like listening to this when driving in the morning, it helps me relax and think.
  • Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg. He has a brand new album out and it’s good, but it feels like a lot of the same. I’m partial to the original. Saw him live, think he sounds even better in person. Listen when you may normally rely on classics like Dylan.
  • HAIM – Days are Gone. Listen when making pancakes on a Sunday morning and the sun is shining through the kitchen window and you already had your cup of coffee. Then listen to again when you’re driving to run errands later in the afternoon.
  • Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City. It took their third album for me to come around. Listen when you got to leave work early, the sun is still up and rush hour traffic hasn’t really started yet.
  • M.I.A. – Matangi. Listen when you have a project at work you don’t want to do but have to power through.

Favorite Concerts of 2013:
As for live performances, I saw quite a few, but my favorites for 2013:

  • Jim James at 9:30 Club, April 2013. Well this is a duh if you know me. Didn’t hurt that Karl “finger rimmed” Jim James and got mocked on a message board for being an obnoxious hipster and it was a fun and fabulous date night for us kiddos.
  • Bombino at the Forecastle Music Festival. Best part of music festivals is discovering new artists. Never heard of Bombino but found their performance at the fest amazing and ended up researching them, buying some of their music, and loving them.
  • Father John Misty at 9:30 Club, May 2013. Even with a freshly torn calf muscle, the show was amazing and my adoration of J, Josh, Joshua, FJM grew immensely.
  • Robert Plant at the Forecastle Music Festival. Bucket list and he exceeded my expectations. Wish it didn’t rain because I think it would have gone longer.
  • My Morning Jacket at the Americana Festival, Merriweather Post Pavilion (not pictured). As an MMJ fan who has seen them several times, this ranks as one of my top performances by them. First time I saw them in the daylight, and they were an opener, not headliner. Imagine your favorite band on stage for a high school talent show, it felt like that and was awesome and fun.
  • Morrissey at Strathmore, January 2013. Haven’t seen him live since 10th grade, thanks to Emily for selling me her tickets and making a gal’s dream come true.
  • Clutch at 9:30 Club, December 2013. I haven’t gone yet, but based upon every other time I’ve seen Clutch (including same time same venue last year, a great Christmas gift from my sister along with overnight babysitter), I know it’s going to be hella amazing.

And now I ask you your favorites of 2013. I have learned about so much great music from all of you, and I know you have learned from each other. Share in the comments your favorite songs, albums, artists, shows, and gadgets from the year!

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A Life, Replotted: Dressing the Part

chelsea henderson for wardrobe oxygen

I used to have a closet full of dresses. Expensive dresses. I justified the investment (doesn’t that sound better than splurge?) because not only were they appropriate professionally, but one dress required little thought in the morning, whereas a two-piece suit also required a blouse option, and three wardrobe components were two too many for me to coordinate when also getting my young kids ready for school. Yeah, that’s what I told myself every time I handed over my credit card. “I need this dress. It will make my life easier.”

To complement all those dresses, I had a closet full of pumps. I’m ashamed now to admit how many pairs of shoes I once owned. I freely handed over the plastic for these too, all in the name of looking the part. Speaking of looking the part, I never went to work in lower than a three-inch heel, unless of course it was casual Friday, and I could get away with riding boots and skinny jeans.

Sigh. Skinny jeans. I didn’t wear any other style of denim.

“Oh, check out Chelsea’s shoes today,” co-workers would gush as I walked by their offices. “Chelsea can get away with wearing jeans to work. She just wears them differently.” The compliments fueled me to try even harder, and a vicious circle of vanity and debt was created.

My Life in Shoes

Then I left the face-numbing job in a stressful industry to pursue the crafts that fulfill me. I no longer wake up at the crack of dawn to figure out what dress-shoe combination to put on for the day. And since it really isn’t comfortable to sit at my home office desk in skinny jeans, I’ve traded those in too. In fact, I’ve cycled out of my closet most of the wardrobe I once spent so much time and money in cultivating.

“I used to be so intimidated by how you dressed,” my best friend admitted to me over drinks one night. It saddened and shocked me, but also got me questioning: why I was as obsessed with my clothes as I used to be?

The truth is, my clothes provided body armor. If I looked confident, I’d be confident, or convincingly act the part. I could walk into a meeting in the U.S. Capitol and be taken seriously. Not that I ever wasn’t. The crazy thing about insecurity is it’s often unwarranted. But I wasn’t fulfilled in my profession, so I compensated with budget busting clothing purchases and used my miserable job to justify the expense.

These days, I don’t need designer dresses and sky-high heels to bolster me. I’m just as happy to put on yoga pants and a sweater, a look I often take from desk to mat to casual dinner with my best friend. It’s nice to know I don’t intimidate her anymore. And likewise, I’m no longer scared of my credit card bill. Living authentically is not always easy. People question my choices, and the old attachments can still present temptation (oh, Frye boots). But a nourished soul grounds me more than any outfit ever did.

chelsea hendersonChelsea Henderson is an aspiring novelist and recovering Capitol Hill staffer. When she isn’t sneaking time to finish writing her second book, she advocates on behalf of clean energy and environmental policy, reads, practices yoga, and single parents her perpetually hungry pre-teen boys. She also periodically contributes to her lifestyle blog, the Chelsea Chronicles and is intermittently good at Twitter.