Search Results for: label/lingerie

Ask Allie: Nude Bras for Non-Beige Women

Do you know where I can find ‘nude’ bras for women with darker skin? I’m South Asian (& so naturally olive-skinned), but all the ‘nude’ bras I try on in my local shops are too light for my skin- it’s frustrating!

I know in your email you said this wasn’t necessarily post-worthy, but I think it is. With bras and shoes, I love how they say beige is “nude” yet such a small percentage of this planet is beige in color! I did a little sleuthing and found some bras that come in more than white, black, and bisque. I limited it to what are known as tee-shirt bras, since those are the styles that are best for wearing white, light-colored, or slightly sheer fabrics.

You also asked for more budget-friendly bras; bras are something I really think you should invest in, but I tried to find a broad range of prices, as well as sizes. All styles shown are from online retailers I know, like, trust, and have flexible return and exchange policies.

Nordstrom is one of my favorite places to shop because they have great variety, great brands, and great customer service. I also love all the customer reviews – really helps me decide on a purchase! However, I find their online selection of bras to be a bit lacking – not as many colors or sizes as in-store. They offer free shipping and returns so I looked for some non-beige options and found:

Calvin Klein ‘Seductive Comfort – Customized Lift’ Underwire Bra – On Sale for $28.90
This bra receives five positive reviews on the site, and comes in Dune (beige) and French Roast (online looks to be taupe but by the name I expect in real life it is more of a dark tan).

Chantelle Intimates ‘Basic Invisible’ Memory Foam T-Shirt Bra – $68.00
Two positive reviews, a bra brand I know and love, and it comes in Ivory, Beige, and Toffee.

Bare Necessities
Bare Necessities is my first stop online for bras and other underpinnings. Their selection is extensive, their prices competitive, and they have a reasonable return policy (60 days, $6.95 returns or DIY postage). Like Nordstrom, they have customer reviews to help you with your purchase. If I had ventured out of tee shirt bras, I probably would have found dozens of styles that offered more than beige. However in this category I found four:

Le Mystère: Dream Tisha Seamless Full Fit Underwire Bra – $47.99 – $69.00
Surprisingly, the “Nude” color is the one on sale; they also have French Roast (online it looks like a pretty classic brown color), and Natural (which has more of an olive tone than Nude).

Barely There: Invisible Look Underwire Bra – $35.00
A positive review, and comes in colors such as Brown Sugar (light brown), and Soft Taupe (looks a bit darker than beige).

Panache: Porcelain Lace T-Shirt Bra – $62.00
While reviewers say it runs almost a cup big, it still seen favorably. It comes in Mocha, which from other Panache bras I know to be a darker shade than beige.

Huit: Purely Irresistible Underwire Bra – $79.00
I don’t know much about this brand and there aren’t any online reviews, but I found it pretty, Bare Necessities says this is a great brand, and it comes in Cookie (light brown) and Nude.

Another go-to for me when shopping for lingerie online. HerRoom offers free shipping over $70 ($5 otherwise), and super-swift returns. Again, online reviews to help you choose the right item. They also have an extensive selection online and cater to the woman with the full bust. I love their Universal Cup Sizing, which is so helpful for a woman like me who may be an E in one brand, an F in another, and a DD in yet another.

Playtex Side Smoothing Wire-Free Bra – $26.25
Decent reviews, killer price, and it comes in Soft Taupe (looks like a typical beige) and Maple Leaf (which looks to be a dark taupe or dark honey color).

elomi Caitlyn Underwire Side Support Bra – $55.00
Fabulous reviews and from a brand that caters to the woman with the full bust. This bra has a bit more decoration than others in this post, but I still think it’s subtle to work in many situations. Available in some fun colors, as well as the skin shades of Nude and Truffle.

Simone Perele Andora 3D Full Cup Bra – $89.00
A few reviews state this bra runs a bit small and I have encountered similar with this brand. However, like the reviewers say the bra is comfortable and attractive – a rarity for full figured tee shirt bras. Available in a variety of shades including Linen (online can’t tell if this is gray or a taupey-ivory), Nude, and Café So French.

Fresh Pair
My best friend told me about Fresh Pair. Like Bare Necessities and HerRoom, they have a huge selection and reasonable return policy. However, Fresh Pair often has obscure and discontinued brands and styles available for rock-bottom prices. These deals may be final sale, but if it’s a brand and style you know, you may end up getting a pretty fabulous deal. Again, I stuck just to tee shirt bras in my search and stopped searching when I got to the clearance styles since they had fewer sizes available. If you extend your search criteria, I know you’ll find more in the color and size you need. I also found many styles previously mentioned from other sites (I always featured in this post the lowest price I found from all four sites):

Leonisa Absolute Support Push-Up Bra- $35.00
This bra doesn’t have any customer reviews and it’s a brand I am not familiar with, but I like the price and love that it comes in Dark Brown as well as Nude.

Now I would love to hear from you – where do you find bras that are darker than nude? What brands, stores and styles do you like best?

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Summer Lingerie Must-Haves

When summer arrives, I don’t just switch out my sweaters and long-sleeved shirts for tanks and shorts, but I also switch out my lingerie drawer. Sweat, heat, and lightweight fabrics just NEED different underpinnings. My lingerie drawer must-haves for when the temperature rises:

Summer lingerie essentials

Tee Shirt Bras

Slub knits, linen and linen blends, and cotton voile are brilliant in the heat and humidity, but are prone to transparency. Tee shirt bras are a must with such fabrics as they are slightly padded, molded in shape, and free of adornments to virtually disappear while providing modesty. I always have a couple in a color close to my skintone for white and light shades, and a black one to wear under dark colors. My personal favorite is the Fantasie 4510 Smoothing Balcony T-Shirt Bra.

Nude Slip

Warmer weather is far more comfortable with lighter weight fabrics, but these fabrics (even in darker colors) can be quite transparent, especially on a bright sunny day. Having a nude slip can prevent embarrassing exposure, and if you choose wisely it won’t add too much weight or heat. I love this slip from Calvin Klein, which skims the body without adding bulk under slim dresses and doesn’t cling even in high humidity. Free of adornments, it won’t ruin the look or line of your summer frocks. Adjustable straps and plenty of stretch make the slip comfortable and well-fitting.

A little tip: For years, my favorite summer slip was the cotton lining of a dress I thrifted but didn’t like. It came with a beige cotton slip only stitched in at the shoulders, so it was easy to snip it out. It was breathable, the right length, and virtually invisible under my dresses and cost about $4.

Another tip: Check eBay for traditional slips. I find gently used, vintage, and never worn half and full slips of all colors and styles for pennies on the dollar.

Nude Thongs

I know some of you despise thongs, but I find nothing better to prevent visible panty lines (VPL) with white or lightweight pants. The Godiva Thong from Hanky Panky is a new favorite; the nude color is a perfect match for my skin and the fabric seems to mold to my body, preventing shifting, wedgies, or cutting into my waist without feeling grody on a sweltering summer day.

Black Briefs

If I’m not wearing a pair of bike shorts or slip shorts under my sundress, you can bet I’m wearing a pair of black briefs. Also my undies of choice with denim shorts. My favorite is Hanro, they really are worth the hype and the money. They hold up great and last eons longer than cheaper versions from Target meaning it’s a better value in the long run, also they fit like a dream.  Another favorite is Knock Out! Panties, which have a moisture-wicking cotton gusset to keep you dry and comfy even if the rest of you is a sweaty mess.

Nude Briefs

Same deal, for white and light colored shorts and sundresses.  I forgot to mention Hanky Panky’s Retro Vikini Briefs, some of the most comfortable undies I have worn, and pretty lace that doesn’t dig or chafe even on the hottest summer day.

Black Bike Shorts

Bike shorts are brilliant under dresses and skirts for preventing chub rub and offering modesty. I recently reviewed Jockey’s Skimmies Slipshorts which are great for this, but you can also use most any bike shorts. Check out the comments on this post for a ton of great options.

A little tip: Pettipants are a pretty alternative and easily found at online lingerie shops. I have found many on eBay; there are sellers who offer overstock and sellers who make brand new product.

Bra with Pretty Straps

I don’t think it’s stylish to purposely show your underpinnings, but summer clothes often cause bra straps to show no matter how careful you are. I’m not talking about wearing a straight bra with a racerback tank (PLEASE don’t do this, wear a racerback bra or buy one of these gadgets), but traditional tanks and camisoles sometimes slip and you get a peek. Instead of showcasing your nude tee shirt bra, having a bra in a pretty color and with attractive straps can make it less awful. This spring and summer I picked up this bra, but love the leopard straps on this one.

Strapless Bra

Comfortable and supportive strapless bras DO exist, check out my post on a bra fitting to see proof! Since realizing this, my summer wardrobe has grown exponentially. I recommend getting one similar to a tee shirt bra – very simple, smooth, one that will disappear under your clothing. As for color, it depends on your wardrobe. I choose one in nude (the Fantasie 4530) since I wear more light colors in the summer, but if your wardrobe is mostly dark colors a black one would be wiser.

What are your warm-weather lingerie must-haves?

Wednesday, Thursday, and Lingerie Advice Sought!

A view of DC streets this morning – glad I take public transportation!

I know I have been a slacker the past two days regarding photos. Yesterday was my Lands End sailor shirt with my Gap denim trousers, my brown croco sandals from Sofft, and a turquoise necklace from Tarjay. Not bad, but nothing awesome.

Today was actually photo-worthy, but the morning was utter insanity. If you live in the DC area, you probably experienced the insane rainstorm – Metro stations flooded, trees went down, rain was coming sideways. The sky was as dark as night. I am wearing my black Jones New York tee shirt dress, my Duo boots (perfect for such weather since the only Wellies I find decent are Hunter and they don’t fit over my calves). I put my really big H&M scarf on, my silver cuff and a long silver chain. I was letting my hair air dry, but then the storm came in and I had to go get the dogs from outside and never fully got my hair or makeup done before it was time to head out. Hair is a bit… rained on and makeup is mascara and lip gloss from my purse. Think I need to carry a bit more in my cosmetic bag from now on…

Anyway, I wanted to ask you readers about lingerie. As my body has been slimming down and I am nursing Emerson less, I am seeing a major need for new lingerie. We’re talking the whole shebang – undies, bras, control garments.

I would be horrified if anyone had a peek into my current lingerie drawer. I have three nursing bras from Anita And all are well worn and sad), three of my beloved Chantelle Senso bras – two nude, one black. All three have been repaired by me to stick back in a wayward underwire, and all three are a bit too large (they are lightly padded so if you poke it, it will now dent because I don’t fill it like I used to). I have two Spanx Higher Power – one nude, one black but they are looking very well worn. As for panties, I will admit I have a few pairs of Granny Panties (hi-cut cotton briefs), some lacy boyshorts from discount places like TJ Maxx and Marshalls, and two pairs of moisture-wicking black bike shorts that I wear under sundresses – they prevent chub rub and prevent VPL.

Anyway, I need a lingerie overhaul. Right now since my body is still transforming, I think I only want to invest in undies, maybe one control garment, and one bra. When I remove some more weight, I will invest in a bit more. But I was wondering what are your faves? What works well for large yet well nursed breasts, and a curvy figure with a very soft lower tummy? I figure it can help me narrow down the search. I know I will need to be re-fitted and plan to include that with my shopping trip. I thank you in advance and will be sure to report my findings!

Sexy and Supportive Lingerie for Valentine’s Day [Sponsored]

Sexy and supportive lingerie for large busts and curvy figures featuring Hanky Panky, Elomi, Ashley Graham and more via Wardrobe OxygenValentine’s Day season is the perfect time to refresh your lingerie drawer. Whether or not you like typical lingerie or wear it, this is the time of year when brands bring out the limited edition styles, colors, and prints and replenish their stock after the holidays. You’ll find the best selection of sizes, and often find unique versions of your favorite bras, panties, and other underpinnings. And once you’ve stocked up on the staples, consider treating yourself with a fun or frilly something that will make you feel fancy, even if it’s under jeans and a heavy sweater! Those of us with large busts, soft curves, or who wear plus sizes have it especially hard when trying to find pretty, flattering, and supportive lingerie. Valentine’s Day is the season for us, when brands come out with functional and fashionable underpinnings in more than beige, black, and ivory. Nordstrom asked me to share my picks for Valentine’s Day lingerie; they have an amazing selection of sexy and supportive lingerie, my picks:

Hanky Panky

hanky panky lingerie - supportive and sexy lingerie for Valentine's DayHanky Panky is a favorite of mine. Their Retro Vikini Briefs are my day-to-day undies; I find them comfortable and also super cute. Year round I can find Chai and Black, but thanks to the holiday Nordstrom also has them in four other candy heart colors (I am so stocking up!).  The ‘Retro Thong’ from Hanky Panky in my opinion, is the best thong out there. The high rise prevents lines or rolling down, and the shape is really comfortable and never causes wedgies. Again, thanks to Valentine’s Day there’s four additional colors to choose from outside the basic neutrals.  My friend who has more of a pear shape swears by Hanky Panky’s Boyshorts. I haven’t tried them, but based upon the raving reviews at Nordstrom my friend isn’t the only one who finds them extremely comfortable and flattering.

A fun addition to Hanky Panky undies is a matching lace camisole. I wear my regular bra under it if I’m slipping this under my clothes, or I wear it alone if Karl and I are lucky enough for an overnight babysitter. While my breasts aren’t as perky as they used to be and prefer to have some support, it seems the lace of the Hanky Panky camis camouflage a bit and make me feel more like a Botticelli than a deflated baby incubator. With the camis, I find with my soft curves I am happier when I size up so it skims instead of hugging my curves

Hanky Panky has some limited edition prints for the holiday; my favorite is the cross-dyed camisole and matching boyshorts, though the St. Chapelle print cami and boyshorts are a close second.  And if it’s your style, complete the look with Hanky Panky’s ‘Signature Lace’ garter belt!


Elomi lingerie for full busts and soft curves - Wardrobe OxygenElomi is a wonderful brand for large breasts. Pretty colors and styles and a great fit gives us busty gals plenty of sexy yet supportive options to choose from. It’s hard to find chemises and babydoll gowns when you require bust support; Elomi takes care of this with pretty confections like their ‘Anushka’ Underwire Babydoll Chemise. Available in cup sizes from F-H, this gorgeous red and black number will heat things up for the holiday (or have you feeling like a soap opera star when even lounging on your sofa with a glass of wine).  If you love the look of the ‘Anushka’ chemise, complete the look with the coordinating briefs, matching thong, or half-cup bra.

For retro allure that also provides full-bust support, you can’t go wrong with the ‘Raquel’ underwire bra, which is available in two colors and cup sizes E-JJ and the coordinating lace briefs.

Ashley Graham

Ashley Graham lingerie for large busts and plus sizesPlus size model Ashley Graham has her own lingerie line, and it’s just as stylish and flattering to curves as you would hope and imagine. These pieces are sexy, but actually wearable under clothes as well as on their own. One that caught my eye is the Underwire Bodysuit. I own a piece from another brand similar to this and it’s a favorite for Date Night because it will smooth the tummy but look pretty fantastic at the end of the evening. I love that this one has removable garter belts.

This beautiful red and black mesh and lace bra is sexy, supportive (sizes C-DD), and is convertible so it can work with all sorts of styles of tops and dresses. Complete the look with the matching briefs.

This purple and black lacy full coverage bra is seriously gorgeous and comes in cup sizes C-H. Complete the look with these high-cut briefs that look demure in the front but have a full lace back (sexy, and preventing panty lines – win/win!).

Dita von Teese

dita von teese lingaerieAnother celebrity turned lingerie designer, and another line that is sexy yet supportive and available in extended sizes. The ‘Starlift’ bra has a retro pinup feel to it, and the bright ‘Dita Red’ color makes it oh so lovely. Available in C-E cups.  The matching briefs are high-waisted, but have a sheer back and a super fun tassel detail in the front.

I love the mix of the black and white toile satin, lace edging, and sheer mesh details on the ‘Sheer Witchery’ bra. This is a piece that is utterly gorgeous yet shaped to be a functional everyday bra. C-F cups available.  The coordinating high-waist briefs have sexy sheer accents and a control panel to smooth the tummy.

Chantelle Intimates

chantelle intimatesEach time I get a professional bra fitting, I end up finding a Chantelle bra that is a top favorite. The brand is not cheap, but they make utterly gorgeous yet wearable bras in larger sizes. It’s nice to find a bra that can be invisible under a fitted tee yet look sexy when that tee is taken off. And whether or not my underpinnings are seen by others, it just feels good to wear attractive yet supportive and comfortable lingerie! While I don’t own the uber-sexy ‘Satine’ Underwire T-Shirt Bra, I have other t-shirt bras from the brand and adore them. Tempted to get this beautiful red and black number which comes in cup sizes B-F.  Complete the look with the ‘Satine’ bikini.

Want something a bit more demure? The ‘Opera’ push-up bra from Chantelle is so feminine and pretty yet still has plenty of sex appeal and comes in A-DD cup sizes. The coordinating ‘Opera’ hipster briefs are so gorgeous with so much pretty detail, yet a wearable and comfortable shape.

I can’t resist an animal print, and the ‘C-Chic Sexy 3645’ Underwire Demi Bra has a subtle leopard print and lace detail that merges fashion and function perfectly in C-F cup sizes. The coordinating Brazillian panties are super sexy but would be nearly invisible under the most fitted of knits.

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Ask Allie: Lingerie and Loungewear for Large Busts

Dear Allie,
You have big boobs like me, what do you wear as pajamas? This might be TMI but I hate pajamas because they don’t lift my boobs and it makes me look sloppy and definitely not sexy. My boobs are too big for PJ pants and a tank, and in a nightgown my boobs are down to my tummy. What do you wear?
Thanks, Ashley
Hi Alison:
Love your style but would love to see what you wear for loungewear. After work or for bed, what do you wear that is stylish and flattering to your body? I know you can’t be wearing sweats like me, I need inspiration from a fellow woman with curves!
Please help, I am in a new relationship and want some lingerie that isn’t corsets and g-strings but everything is either made for girls with small breasts and firm young bodies, or else for porn stars. Is there any happy medium? Any suggestions on brands that would make me feel pretty and not trashy?

Oh my dear women, I feel your pain. The Victoria’s Secret catalog arrives in your mailbox, you flip through page after glossy page of beautiful women in comfy pajama pants and tank tops, cute printed pajama sets, feminine chemises and you think, “What about me?” While their loungewear is gorgeous, it’s geared towards the firm or the slight. Loungewear trends aren’t kind to a woman with curves – knit and flannel drawstring pants aren’t terribly flattering, and a shelf bra in a standard tank can be downright ridiculous on a woman larger than a C cup.

With this new post-baby body I have been on the search for loungewear and sleepwear – pieces that are feminine and flattering but I can still answer the door or enter Emerson’s room when she has a nightmare. Garments that are comfortable, but also supportive. It has been a challenge, but there are some brands out there that create such sleepwear and loungewear:

Two Figs:
Two Figs is a San Francisco-based brand of sleepwear specifically created for women with breasts of a D cup or larger. Founder Deb Figge had the same desires as us – loungewear and sleepwear fit and flatter a woman with a large bust. The pieces are sized by bra band size (1= 30/32 band, 2=34, 3=36, 4=38).

Two Figs was fabulous enough to send me their Two Figs Empire Camisole and Shorts to review and I have to say I am highly impressed. The camisole has a structured shelf bra inside that truly fits and supports my 36E bust. The straps are adjustable for a custom fit. The lace band below the bust whittles the waist and creates a true hourglass frame. The stretchy silky fabric glides over curves and doesn’t roll at the hem. The shorts are adorable – retro-inspired tap pants that don’t cling to the bum and hips. I loved the separates – this camisole would be equally adorable with a pair of silky or modal pajama pants for a true loungewear look. While this collection is sexy and feminine, you don’t have everything on display and your curves are properly supported and flattered.

Composed of custom Swiss lace and lustrous materials, Two Figs’ collection of camisoles, chemises, gowns and bottoms is engineered to satisfy the expectations of the woman who has long deserved more from her sleepwear. The quality of Two Figs is stellar, the style classic yet feminine. Two Figs is available in specialty lingerie boutiques – see their site for locations

While researching this topic I also came across the brand Bijte, a US-based lingerie brand created specifically for busty women. Bijte specifically caters to women who are not plus size, but have full busts. Bijte garments are designed to fit women sized 4 – 14, with cups sizes from C to F.

While their pieces are considered to be more along the lines of lingerie than loungewear (they specialize in camis, babydolls, boyshorts, briefs, and thongs), pieces like their Triangle Lace and Silk Mesh Cami could be paired with traditional lounge pants for a comfortable ensemble, or worn with the boyshots for a sexier look.

One great thing about being a nursing mom was finding bra tanks that actually fit my large chest. I could be one of those women in plain flannel pajama pants, a tank, and fuzzy slippers sipping coffee and reading the paper on a Sunday morning! The thing is, nursing tanks LOOK like nursing tanks. Often you can see the cutout through the top layer of the bodice, and there’s those plastic clasps right there on the straps. Glamourmom realized that women loved their tanks even if they weren’t nursing and made a non-nursing version. They look like traditional bra tanks, but have a built-in soft cup and fit up to DDD cups.

Soma Intimates:
Soma Intimates prides themselves on lingerie and loungewear that is not only beautiful, but comfortable. They have a line of sleepwear called Cool Nights that keeps you cool and dry (wonderful for hot flashes or if you’re like me and sleep next to a person that radiates a ton of heat). The camisoles in this line have soft cups built in for shape and soft support.

All sleep camis, gowns, and chemises from Soma Intimates have at least an empire waist and gathers for some bust shape, if not a soft cup bra.

Bravissimo is a UK company that specializes in lingerie, sleepwear, and swimwear for women up to a KK cup. Though they are in the UK, they do ship to the US (read shipping and return details prior to ordering).

Pieces like their Lace Nightdress and Silk Nightdress are feminine and flattering while offering a built-in wire-free bra. Their pieces are sold by bust size for a custom fit.


Do you have a large bust? Where have you found flattering yet supportive lingerie and loungewear?

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Weight Watchers Update, Lingerie Update, and Some TMI…

I would like to thank Weight Watchers for making thongs comfortable again. I don’t think I mentioned this much on my blog in the past, but pre-pregnancy I was a thong sort of gal. Never worried about VPL, didn’t show through light colored trousers, didn’t ride up and cut my butt cheeks in half, thongs were great. I especially loved my thongs by Hanky Panky – they were cute and comfortable and Nordstrom always had some deal on them during their Anniversary sales.

Then my belly expanded with a developing fetus, and my little stretch lace and mesh thongs couldn’t handle it. They rolled down below the belly, which caused the back to either roll down or give me a wedgie. I switched to boyshorts. By third trimester I was wearing good ‘ol cotton Granny Panties – a nice high cut brief several sizes larger than my Hanky Pankies or Cosabellas.

After giving birth, the belly shrunk… a bit. When you give birth to a baby, the belly is still there, it’s just not firm. So instead of a basketball, I had a FUPA. FUPAs and thongs do NOT mix. They get caught in that weird space between the postpartum belly and the rest of you. And getting REALLY TMI, the last thing you want after having a baby is a wedgie or anything even slightly resembling such a thing.

So for the first year of Emerson’s life, I mainly wore cotton high cut briefs. After a few months, I did buy a couple lacy boyshorts, but they usually sat at the most awful place on my belly, and I found that they would often be too tight in the waist to accommodate my new hips and rear, and if it was comfortable on the bottom, it would fall down at the waist.

Over the past few months I have been able to find pretty underwear that isn’t Granny Panties. A few microfiber, silky and lacy numbers, still covering the rear and front, but a bit more feminine. The body was seeming to settle in, and I could find underwear that I could really really wear!

And then I started Weight Watchers, and these semi-feminine undies started looking weird on me. So I went up in the attic, and just for giggles pulled out my Hanky Panky “Retro” high-waist thongs (which never were that high waisted on me). A couple weeks ago, they were wearable but not comfortable and rolled down when I sat. They went to the very very back of the lingerie drawer.

Today I started off thinking I was going to wear a dress so I slipped on a pair of black microfiber briefs that would be VPL-free and also good coverage in case of a strong gust of wind. Then I switched to my denim trousers, and feared VPL. So I tried on a pair of my thongs. I figured that the trousers would at least keep them from rolling down all day long.

I just went to the bathroom and realized… these thongs are comfy! No wedgie, no rolling, no digging anywhere! So a big thanks to Weight Watchers for letting me become a thong girl again!

Seasonless Black Trousers

A pair of black trousers in a seasonless fabric is a necessity to any woman’s wardrobe. What deems a fabric “seasonless?” This means the pants are not wool, they are not cotton. They are most likely a blend of fabrics, usually a good portion synthetic. Ann Taylor has a seasonless fabric they call Triacetate. Express’ seasonless fabric is called Microtwill. J.Crew (and many other brands) calls their version Gabardine. All different fabrics, all seasonless. Maintains it’s shape, often has a bit of stretch, has a slight texture or sheen (great for dressing up and dressing down!), and sort of blends into the background. Not only should these tousers be seasonless, they should be eventless (if that is a word). You want trousers that can go from work to a happy hour to a cocktail party to an interview, to a night club. What cut achieves this? A bootcut leg, not tight, but not Palazzo pants (those pants that look like a skirt on each leg). A tab waist if often a good choice. You never need to worry about a belt, it lies flat under fitted, untucked shirts, yet looks smart with a tucked in oxford. Due to a tab-wait trouser having a wider waistband, it is less likely to cut into the torso, creating a spare tire above the waistline. Very flattering on women with hips, bellies, rears, or straight shapes.

These trousers should not have front pockets. I do not care what your body shape is, front pockets ruin a smooth line and make trousers look more casual and less versatile. These pockets often bow out, wrinkle under the tousers, and look messy. They can make Kate Moss look like Kathy Bates. Back pockets are okay, as long as they are small besom pockets, and not patch pockets (again, detroy the versatility and make the trouser more dated and casual).

Examples of good trousers:

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Yes, I said these trousers should be black, but I chose a lighter color so you could see the detail. The bootcut leg adds a modern look to the pant, elongates and slims the leg. This is an example of a tab waist. See how it is a wider waistband, less likely to cut into the middle. The lack of pleats, seaming and pockets in the front minimizes a belly and gives a smooth line. The strong crease down the front elongates the leg and gives a long, lean look. See how you could see these pants with an oxford and matching blazer with pumps for work, a beaded camisole and pointy toed heels for a night club, a cotton v-neck sweater sweater and some boots for a jaunt to the mall. These pants are from Ann Taylor, and are a cotton/rayon/spandex blend (rayon gives it the seasonless fabric, strech gives it the smooth fit wear after wear).

Here is a great example from Lane Bryant:

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These pants are a seasonless nylon/rayon/spandex blend. They are cut just below the waist (reduces the look of tummy bulge), have a bootcut leg, and smooth lower torso. These pants would look great with strappy heels, a beaded shell and matching jacket for a cocktail party, or a merino turtleneck and some crocodile pointy boots for lunch with the girls. At the time of writing this, these trousers are on sale for $20, regularly $45. You really can find stylish classic pieces for a steal at your local mall. I cannot stress this point enough.

The point is that with the right black trousers, you can dress for almost any event. I have black trousers I purchased five years ago, and still wear weekly. They do not have to cost a lot, most of the trousers I buy on sale and get for less than $50.00. Do keep in mind that though a bargain is always great, black trousers is one thing you do not want to look cheap. They will be worn more than most anything else in your wardrobe, so don’t settle for a chintzy fabric with a cheap sheen, a pair that wrinkles easily, isn’t lined, isn’t the right length, the right cut, the right anything. I do believe in buying in bulk. If you find the trousers of your dreams, you may wish to invest in a second pair in black, and possibly a third pair in another versatile color (gray, brown, tan, white). Consider this especially if you buy the matching suit jacket. I purchased a pair of amazing trousers and the matching jacket at Ann Taylor four years ago. I often wore the trousers without the jacket. One day my dog jumped up to greet me as I returned home from work, his claw got caught in the fabric and ended up snagging and tearing the thigh of these coveted trousers. Ann Taylor no longer makes pieces in this same fabric, so I have a lovely well-fitting jacket and no trousers to match. Since then, I always buy two pairs of pants for every suit jacket, allowing one pair for every day wear, and one pair to preserve to wear with the jacket or for special occasions.

As for care of these pants. I will let you know ahead of time that often these pants say “Dry Clean Only.” I DESPISE spending money on dry cleaning. I end up taking my clothes to the cleaners and forget to pick them up for two weeks. Most of the knits and sweaters I purchase I ignore this “Dry Clean Only” label and wash in Woolite on the gentle cycle of my machine and hang to dry. I have tried this with trousers, and rarely have had good luck. They end up wrinkled, losing that nice front crease and long line. They look cheaper, they often get tighter, the legs shorter (often leaving the lining the same length, which is NOT a good look!), the threads weaken, leaving the potential for an embarrassment the next time you sit down. I have a stain remover I actually purchased in the lingerie department of a department store. I spot treat with that or a Shout! Wipe (always have 5 or 6 in my purse – available at your grocery store in the detergent aisle) and then take them to the local discount dry cleaners. Every so often, they get a better cleaning at the higher end dry cleaners. This may seem like a pain, especially if you have children, a busy schedule, a tight budget. I must tell you this is an investment. If you take care of your clothes correctly, they will take care of you in return, looking gorgeous and lasting for years. Though it may be more appealing to buy all clothing that can take a tumble in the washer and dryer, you lose that polished look, that classic look, the look that shows you care what you look like and others should as well. If you can’t go beyond Tumble Dry Low, you will have a hard time following the closet rules of this book.

Friday Favorite: Hanky Panky

Wardrobe Oxygen Friday Favorite - Hanky Panky Lingerie and SleepwearIf you’ve read this blog for a while you know I’m a Hanky Panky devotee. Since having Emerson and now having a soft lower belly, I am a big fan of their “Retro” line, which has a higher rise. Their Retro Thong is the most comfortable thong I have ever worn and I love that it’s lacy so it looks pretty while still being soft and stretchy. Their Retro Lace V-kini is my everyday favorite underwear. It’s the perfect height, the lace makes them sexy, but they’re breathable, stretchy, soft, don’t roll down or ride up in back.  Every nSale I stock up on the discontinued colors on sale and every year when I get my annual bonus at work I buy a few pairs.  If you were to open my lingerie drawer, a good 40% of it would likely be stretchy lace in a multitude of colors, all from Hanky Panky.

So when Hanky Panky reached out and asked if I’d like some of their latest collection I was thrilled. While I am quite familiar with their panties and thongs, I had yet to branch out and try any of their other items.

Did you know Hanky Panky carries sleepwear? I had seen their lace chemises and babydolls, but didn’t know they had more traditional pajamas and gowns in Supima® cotton, organic cotton, silk, jersey, and of course their signature lace.

Hanky Panky Supima Cotton SleepwearI know many of you have asked about brands that sell 100% cotton sleepwear so I requested their Supima® Cotton Sleep Set. Made in the USA of 100% cotton knit, this tank and matching shorts set is simple luxury. Other than the tiny bow detail on the tank, this set is pretty utilitarian but that’s what I like about it. They’re extremely soft and silky, wash well, and feel great. I got a size Large; as a busty and curvy size 14 they fit, but I think I’d be more comfortable in a size larger. I’d recommend if you’re unsure to size up.

Hanky Panky has several styles of sleepwear in this Supima® cotton; gowns and nightshirts with and without sleeves, tank pajamas, and this fabulous poet nightshirt that would be perfect for fall.

Hanky Panky Signature Lace CamisolesWhile I have many bottoms in Hanky Panky’s signature lace, I never tried the tops. Many of you have raved about them saying they are flattering on soft curvy bodies and even flatter a large bust so I had them send me their Signature Lace Classic Camisole. You were right, this camisole is pretty amazing, even with a soft body and large breasts. I felt very sexy wearing it (size XL) with a pair of the Retro Lace V-kini in the same color. The lace is so soft you can comfortably sleep in it. However, this camisole can do more than be underclothes.

I wore the camisole over a bra, and it gave me the lacy look I desired from a bralette. I wore a white shirt over it with an extra button unbuttoned to show a hint of lace. I wore it instead of a solid cami under a dress that has a bit too low of a neckline and it gave a completely different effect. I wore it over a solid black cami and tucked it into a long silk skirt for an evening look. I never thought a sheer lace camisole would be such a wardrobe workhorse. And it has been laundered at least three times (gentle cycle in lingerie bag and hung up) and looks like new.

In the past I have also tried Hanky Panky’s BARE line and they really are like wearing almost nothing.  They’re not my favorite as they’re a bit too thin and can shift especially on a body with soft curves, but I always have a pair of the BARE thongs in my drawer as they completely disappear even under white linen, don’t feel gross when it’s hot and humid, and are more comfortable than any other brand.  I know many of you have raved about Hanky Panky’s slips and slip shorts for not getting static cling and coming in a lot of sizes and lengths.

Shop My Picks from Hanky Panky:

It’s nice to have the opportunity to try new items from a brand I have loved and worn for over a decade. I know Hanky Panky’s quality and fit, I know that if laundered properly their underwear will last for years. I now know that quality and fit extends past their panties and thongs. I love that they are committed to quality, they carry a broad range of sizes, they have every bit of their pieces made in the USA, they support several charities, and they strive to be environmentally responsible. There’s a reason why Hanky Panky has been around since 1977 and continues to be a cult (and personal) favorite!

Jumpsuits that Fit, Flatter, and Let You Pee

I’m a jumpsuit fan. I’ve been rocking this jumpsuit from Karen Kane for a couple years, and now that every retailer has jumped on the jumpsuit train, I’ve been adding to my wardrobe with some great one-piece outfits that look great for the office, a night out, or even running errands on the weekend. Every time I feature a jumpsuit on the blog or Instagram I always have at least one person say they never thought a soft curvy person or a petite person could carry off a jumpsuit. And I always have at least one person comment on the issue with jumpsuits and needing to use the restroom.

Shopping Guide: Jumpsuits that fit, flatter and let you pee by Wardrobe Oxygen

Ladies, you can wear a jumpsuit no matter your shape or size. And ladies, there ARE jumpsuits out there that let you pee without ten minutes of procedure and a friend to assist.

A couple months ago, HauteLook had DVF on clearance. I love Diane von Furstenberg the woman and I also love Diane von Furstenberg the fashion so I was excited to possibly score some more DVF for my wardrobe at a reasonable price. I was even more excited to see some DVF jumpsuits featured and available in a size 14. I frantically clicked BUY before it sold out and a couple days later a black and white printed DVF jumpsuit was at my front door. I raced upstairs and tore open the bag. Ten minutes later I was crying, sweating, had several pulled muscles and was swearing a woman who I consider a hero. I bet a lot of you are laughing, nodding your heads, recalling similar experiences when trying to take off jumpsuits. But not all jumpsuits are created equal, and from my experience the fit, comfort, and pee-ability of a jumpsuit has nothing to do with the name on the label or the price on the tag. A few tips to find a great jumpsuit:

Seek Stretch: Jersey and Lycra-infused Jumpsuits

My Karen Kane jumpsuit is a nubby-crepe textured stretch that is low on shine and can look dressy quite easily. The bodice is a wrap or surplice style so the neckline can stretch a lot for quick removal when changing or using the restroom. There’s a built-in camisole for modesty but it’s only on the front of the jumpsuit, making the bodice still loose enough to easily slip on and off.

I have this jumpsuit from Loveappeala and I adore it. I wore it to work with a wide belt and caged sandals with a slight heel, but many weekends you’ll see me wearing it with a pair of Converse Shorelines or my Birkenstocks. It has a couple pleats on the bottom to keep it loose and comfortable and again, it has an easy wrap-style bodice.

Shop Printed Jumpsuits:

From my experience, if you’re between sizes, size up. Jumpsuits often run short in the torso and are prone to cling on the bum; stretchy jumpsuits don’t have to have a slim fit so sizing up can add comfort and better drape on your lower half. My local dry cleaner was able to shorten my Karen Kane jumpsuit for only $10 and I have had tailors and dry cleaners adjust the length of straps and even take in seams on jersey pieces for just a few dollars.

Fabric makes the difference whether you can wear a stretchy jumpsuit to a wedding, the workplace, or if it’s best left for the bar or a beach barbecue. Matte jersey, crepe jersey, and silk jersey have a more elegant finish, hold dye better providing a richer color, and are less clingy making them better for dressier or more formal situations. If you feel a jumpsuit may be inappropriate for the office, you’re probably correct. Even crepe jersey jumpsuits can be clingy, especially on the rear, and often have silhouettes or details that may be too trendy for an office setting. A wrap-style dress with an added cami can look appropriate at work, but a jumpsuit with the same bodice may be seen as unprofessional. Always steer on the side of conservativeness when considering a work wardrobe.

Shop Plus Size Jumpsuits:

Tee-shirt fabric, jersey, and fabrics that have been smocked (stitched with elastic so it is stretchy) are best left for casual settings. The same holds true for strapless, spaghetti strap, and in my opinion, most sleeveless jumpsuits are best kept for times outside the office (no, adding a cardigan will not make it suddenly look corporate).

Non-Stretch Jumpsuits that are Bathroom-friendly

The reason I had a panic attack and pulled muscles in that DVF jumpsuit was because I needed to be Houdini to be able to take it off and I had just finished a bottle of water. Jumpsuits are stylish, and we women like wearing stylish clothing to social events, and social events usually have beverages. I don’t care how utterly adorable or flattering a jumpsuit is, if you can’t pee without an entourage or double-jointed capabilities you shouldn’t purchase it. That doesn’t mean you have to rule out all non-stretchy jumpsuits. Some can actually be quite wearable and accessible.

Shop Tall Jumpsuits:

I have a sleeveless silk-like jumpsuit with a jewel neck that fits a bit more like coveralls. Loose straight torso with a drawstring waist and wide cropped legs, I’ve worn it to the office with heels and worn it on the weekend with flat sandals. The reason it works is because it has buttons from neck to navel and those buttons are easy to work and that perfect space where you don’t get a flash of my bra when I stretch. I also have a spaghetti strap jumpsuit from Karen Kane that also works because it too has a drawstring waist and the bodice is loose enough to slip over the shoulder.

Shop Casual Jumpsuits:

I’m short, I’m fat, and there’s no way I can wield a back zipper without pulling a muscle. Hell, trying to take on and off a jumpsuit with a side zipper also has its issues, especially when in a public bathroom without a full-length mirror. The only jumpsuits I’ve found that are non-stretchy and have a zipper that can work in a jiffy are spaghetti strap or strapless jumpsuits. These styles require a shorter zipper and can often be twisted a bit when getting the zipper started. Also look for styles with smocked or elasticized panels which help with getting on and off.

Shop Dressy Jumpsuits:

Before dropping coin, drop the jumpsuit. Try a few times – can you honestly slip it on and off in a rush? Could you do it in a cramped bathroom stall at a bar or concert venue or wedding ballroom? Do you need to be careful about tiny hooks and eyes or too-tight button holes? Be realistic, you have no idea how long that bathroom line may be or how you may be feeling that evening. No jumpsuit is cute enough to risk an accident or wardrobe malfunction.

Tips for Buying and Wearing Jumpsuits:

  • Size up. Unless it’s a non-stretchy fitted style, you can usually go up a size without it affecting the line of the piece. This will reduce cling on the bum and give a bit more fabric in the bodice to be able to get on and off with ease. A dry cleaner can adjust hem and strap length for little money.
  • If you’re petite, try the regular version (and if you’re regular consider tall). Again, jumpsuits can run short in the torso, and very short in that space between waistband and crotch. I’ve found regular jumpsuits to often fit me better in the body.
  • Seek stretch. Whether the whole jumpsuit is made of jersey or just a portion, stretch will make it easier to work with and be more forgiving to your figure.
  • Avoid VPL. I have yet to see a jumpsuit that doesn’t at least skim the rear. It’s easy to worry about lifting the bust and whittling the waist and forget about the back view. Seamless undergarments, thongs, and even bike short-style undergarments will give a smooth finish for the jumpsuit (I often wear my Skimmies under jumpsuits).
  • Reference your underwear drawer. Don’t buy a strapless jumpsuit if you don’t have a comfortable and flattering strapless bra (and they do exist). Don’t try to cover up bra straps by wearing a tank or tee under a jumpsuit meant to wear on its own. Same with halters, spaghetti straps, cutouts, open backs, and the rest. That jumpsuit may look hella cute on the hanger, but without the right underpinnings you won’t get the right effect. Don’t try to reinvent your lingerie drawer or redesign your figure, there’s another cute jumpsuit out there that’s perfect for you and your current wardrobe!
  • Consider your shoes.  A wide-leg jumpsuit needs a substantial shoe – a wedge, caged sandal, or platform is a good choice to balance the width.  In turn, a narrow leg or banded leg jumpsuit needs a more delicate shoe.  Just as you do with a dress, factor in footwear.  Don’t think because you have a long leg you can get away with old flats or sandals; a shoe makes the man and the woman!

Why Would Someone Pay $150 for a White Tee Shirt?

expensive tee shirt designer worth the price

When some things become popular I really wonder what trendsetters were smoking. This is especially true when commonplace things have a fancy name slapped on them and they’re suddenly worth $500. I’m not going to spend my hard-earned money to advertise YOUR brand, especially if I can find similar at Target for a bundle less. This is how I have felt about tee shirts for a long while. Somehow, that which was purchased from Hanes or Fruit of the Loom is now worth $150 just because some hot designer decided to add it to his collection. No thank you.

When I was in college, my favorite v-neck (when you’re short and busty, v-necks are a godsend) came in a two-pack from Kmart and did just fine. When they got grubby, I’d bleach them, and replace them when they started to yellow. They were a classic, and looked great with my grunge, then preppy/minimalist aesthetic. After college, I was a visual merchandiser for Express and fell hard for their “Metro” v-neck tees. Does anyone else remember these beauties? I had them in a rainbow of colors, but a half dozen in white (the ones from the Mariana Islands were a bit thinner but still opaque and had a better fit over my curves. Yeah, I was that much of a fan of these tees). For my early ‘30s I bounced around budget-friendly retailers and nicer brands found at Marshalls and TJ Maxx. Most of these tees would last a season at most. When I switched to a desk job, I found white tees at my corporate attire stores; Ann Taylor was often where I’d find tees of high quality, though not always the best fit.

And here I am, a couple months from 40 and I’m realizing I have spent a boatload of money on white tee shirts that have never satisfied. Too thin, too tight, too boxy, too stretchy, not stretchy enough, just plain wrong. Hrm, maybe there is something to that $150 “perfect” tee shirt. If it truly IS perfect, it could end up saving me money in the long run. I’m no longer a sloppy young kid who will destroy my tee shirt at a bar crawl or tailgate, I’ll keep the cheap tees for weekends but would like an awesome white tee for concerts, to wear under jackets, to pair with a sequined pencil or taffeta ball skirt. You know, that casually cool tee that looks perfectly worn and slouches in just that right way.

The Tees I Tried:

So I did my own white tee shirt science experiment, trying on and ordering over a dozen different shirts ranging in price to see if I could find my Tee Shirt Holy Grail and if a fancy brand and crazy pricetag does make for a better shirt. I originally planned to share each tee and rate it, but I learned from this process that a simple tee shirt is a very personal purchase. Like a pair of jeans or a tee shirt bra, what is Holy Grail for one is incredibly awful for the other. But what I did learn:

  • Price Does NOT Equal Quality. I was horrified by the quality of some of the pricier tee shirts. J Brand and James Perse both surprised me by the mediocre quality and construction for the price, especially after reading rave reviews from some of my favorite bloggers. An Old Navy Vintage V-neck, if you removed the tag, could be mistaken for many of the $60 – $90 tees I tried, showing that you don’t need a fancy label to get a good tee shirt.However, more expensive tee shirts more often than not had features that made them worth the money, and provide a better fit. Some had back seams, which really improved fit for my curvy figure. Some had no seams, which gave a more refined look and trimmer fit. A big place I noticed the difference was in sleeve length and width; more expensive tees had attention to detail and better fit in this area. Shoulders fit and didn’t just round into sleeves, necklines were made with care, not too wide or low but still a flattering and modern cut. A lot of them had cotton blends that made them drape better or have a different finish (for example this tee from A.L.C. was blended with cashmere, which helps explain the higher price).
  • Don’t Assume You Know Your Size. I wear a 12/14 and I have a large chest. Many of the brands known for expensive/fancy tees I knew didn’t sell clothing in my size, so I assumed their Large would be equivalent to an 8/10. For example, rag & bone’s Large is supposedly a 10/12 yet I found is almost too big for me (the Medium fit but too tight for my comfort). What is slouchy loose on a tall willowy model may be the perfectly not too fitted tee for a shorter curvy woman.
  • Just Because It’s a Tee Doesn’t Mean You Can Abuse It. Whether it’s from Target or T by Alexander Wang, if it’s a Holy Grail tee for you, treat it like fine silk. These aren’t your father’s Fruit of the Looms, they’re a thinner cotton, often a blend, cut specifically to glide over a woman’s curves or slouch in just the right way. Throw them in a machine and let them tumble dry and no matter the cost you may end up with a misshapen dish rag. I recommend washing in a lingerie bag and letting air dry. If like me you don’t have room for a drying rack, do NOT line dry your tee. It will grow and likely end up with bumps in the shoulders. I take two pant hangers and fold it over both of them so it balances the weight and doesn’t end up with bends. Once dry, it can handle a couple minutes in the dryer to soften and get rid of any wrinkles.
  • Tee Shirt Bras Exist for a Reason. The current trend of tees is thin and broken-in, which can make a tee a bit transparent. A nude-to-you tee shirt bra (my favorite one), free of lace and decoration can become virtually invisible even under slub knits.
  • Know Your Tee’s Purpose. There’s tees to wear to the gym, tees to wear gardening or cleaning out the garage, tees to wear to your friend’s house with leggings and an oversized flannel shirt to watch movies. But then there’s tees that can replace a going out top for a night at a bar, tees you wear under a blazer for Sunday brunch or a casual office place, and tees you wear to dress down a more glamorous piece like a sequined jacket or my previously mentioned taffeta ball skirt. Know WHY you need such a tee shirt in your wardrobe before you shop so you get the right fit, neckline, and opacity.
  • No One Needs a $150 Shirt. Seriously, if you’re perfectly happy with the tees your currently own, don’t go trying on designer tee shirts. Your life will be perfectly lovely and stylish without having one in your wardrobe.  One thing I did learn from reading the reviews on tee shirts during this process is how people shop for all the wrong reasons.  Just because you own the tee shirt that your favorite actress or blogger owns doesn’t mean you will look the same in it, or carry it off with the same panache.  Just because a certain brand is in your wardrobe doesn’t mean you’re fashionable.  It’s okay to be inspired by another person, but you will never be fashionable if you’re purchasing to imitate another or to impress with pricepoint or brand.  Style comes from knowing yourself and dressing the part, if you feel a tee shirt over a certain pricepoint is utterly ridiculous no matter the fit, that’s knowing your personal style.  Stick to that, be true to yourself, and your style will shine.
  • As for me, I ended up buying two white tee shirts:

  • rag & bone “Classic V” (size Large) $80.00 – This isn’t tight, but it’s not sloppy or boxy. It’s sheer, but you can’t see my nude tee shirt bra (or belly button or the mole on my back) through it. It’s longer, which makes it easy to tuck in, but it seems to gather/slouch on my hips far better than any other long tee I’ve tried. The V is the perfect length for me (I was looking for a going out tee, not something that would be worn to work). The shoulders and sleeves fit perfectly, and the back seam gives the whole shirt a better drape and fit.
  • Free People Shredded Muscle Tee  (size Large, but I was tempted to size down to Medium and would if it was a darker color) $58.00 – This is a novelty tee for me, I mean who really NEEDS a shirt riddled with holes? I bought it at the end of August and loved it untucked with distressed denim shorts and my silver Birkenstocks for weekends, but now that it has gotten colder I’ve paired with slim jeans and booties for a night out with the girls, and also wore under a blazer for brunch and loved how the distressed tee contrasted with a traditional jacket. This is boxy, but the neck fits nicely (no need to stretch it out like I have to with so many crewnecks yet doesn’t fall off the shoulder), you can’t see my bra when I raise my arms, and it’s thin without being Saran wrap.
  • And now I’d love to hear from you, how much have you paid for a tee shirt? And if you’ve found your Holy Grail tee, please share in the comments along with your general body type. Your Holy Grail very well may be the tee another reader has been looking for all her life!

    A Proper Bra Fitting – My Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    This bra was a 36F
    F as in Frank

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

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

     Me in my original bra


    Me in the bra I purchased

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

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

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

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

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

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

    THIS is a strapless bra!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Okay, I am a loser.

    I am wearing exactly what I wore yesterday. The only thing different is my underwear – though still nude, and still Victoria’s Secret and still a thong (the only way to go with light colored trousers!).

    Oh, I took a shower. So similar hair, though freshly washed.

    But really, who cares? The only person I am seeing both days is my husband and the only thing he ever notices is if I am wearing a ribbed tank/wifebeater (he hates them) or lingerie (he likes it) or a skirt (he remembers I have legs). If the clothes are clean, why not??

    Ask Allie: All About Bras

    The bras that I recently purchased came with care instructions, stating that I should hand wash them in a delicate detergent specially formulated for bras and fine lingerie. Any thoughts on what I should use? Also, it states that I should avoid wearing a bra more than twice between washings, and to not wear a bra for two consecutive days. How true do you find these statements to be?

    What detergent do you use to wash delicates and bras? I hear Woolite is the worst, but then I hear Woolite is the best.

    I was my bras in a lingerie bag on the gentle cycle of my machine, cold water, and hang to dry. Hook all hooks to prevent any snagging, and make sure the washer isn’t overloaded.

    For detergent, I use Biokleen, which is what I use for all laundry, be it Emerson’s pajamas, my husband’s workout gear, or my lingerie. Gentle, versatile, reasonably priced, and good for the planet. Woolite has petroleum-based ingredients which can eventually break down synthetic fibers; you’re better off using something like baby shampoo than Woolite. You can get a bottle of baby shampoo at the dollar store and use to wash lingerie, any hand washables (I use to wash my pashminas) and even your makeup brushes.

    As for how often you wear bras, giving them a day of rest keeps the elastic in good shape. Overwearing a bra can make it lose its shape, have straps stretch out too soon, and break down the fibers.

    How many bras does a woman need? How many different types of bras do you have and do you think you are missing any styles for a versatile collection?

    I have molded tee-shirt bras that I wear almost every day – two in beige, one in black. I also have the same bras but not molded – one beige, one black and these are for weekends. I have a beige strapless bra that has hooks to connect clear or beige straps (good for one-shoulder or racerback tops). I have three “fun” bras that are also molded cup, but are in pretty colors and have thinner and prettier straps – these I wear when I want to feel sexy, or when I am wearing a thin-strap top in the summertime. Finally I own one sports bra. I don’t feel as though I need any bras, in fact the non-molded ones hardly ever get any wear (they were bought on accident anyway – I knew the online price was too good to be true!).

    How often do you wear a bra before you wash it? When is it time to get rid of a bra?

    I do lingerie wash each weekend, and there’s at least one bra in there. I guess I wear a bra for a week (2-4 wears) before being laundered.

    As for when it’s time to retire a bra, you can tell even though you don’t want to. The cups aren’t shaped the same, the straps keeps falling down and you need to tighten them, you’re on the tightest hook but still feel as though you need more support. I don’t find that bras really do their job after a year of regular wear. This summer I replaced my bras purchased last summer and put the new next to the old and could truly tell the difference – the old bra had a thinner band, longer straps, the cups had become more… horizontal in shape, the inside of the cups had pilled fabric. A new bra will change your posture, your figure, will make you look thinner, taller, and have your clothes fit better. If you’re questioning it, I bet it’s time for a replacement. While you’re there, get yourself fitted again, women’s shapes change regularly and you may need a different size to better accommodate your current figure.

    The closest bra boutique is three hours from me, what do you do when you live somewhere where your only bra store choices are Victoria’s Secret and Walmart? I’m a big girl, and I know Victoria’s Secret won’t carry my size.

    A coworker told me about True&Co, which is a site that will virtually fit you for a bra, you pick out a few styles you think you would like and their bra fitting experts will choose some and send you a box. You then have a week to try the bras, send back what you don’t like and keep what you do. It’s like Warby Parker for underpinnings and it perfect for those of you who live far away from high-end department stores and lingerie boutiques. In fact, I have yet to try True&Co and would love to hear from those of you who have tried this company!

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    Blogging Love – Interview!

    I was honored to be interviewed by Elle of the new blog Label Ho. Elle’s discusses fashion and her personal style on this site. I love supporting fellow fashion and style bloggers so I jumped at this chance to have us get to know one another better!

    You can check out the interview here.

    I loved the questions she asked (and if you go back in her archives, you can see her answers to the very same questions!). The name of her blog cracks me up. It reminds me of when I was Editor of my high school yearbook. I had such the fight with the sponsor over the proper spelling of this word. “If you add an ‘e’ it’s suddenly a garden tool!” (Let’s not even get into why this word was in my yearbook – let me just state that my high school was a fabulous one where I learned Japanese and was in International Baccalaureate courses, but it wasn’t in the most chi chi of neighborhoods.)

    Since she interviewed me, I decided to ask her a few questions as well. Get to know Elle!

    Name: “Elle,” author of Label Ho, a fashion and personal style blog

    Why did you start blogging? What could be better than writing and posting about something you love? I thought it would be a fun hobby and a great way to connect with other fashion-minded people.

    Favorite item in your closet: An authentic vintage Gucci handbag circa the 70s. I love that its suede and doesn’t have the GG logo plastered all over it. I found the bag at a thrift shop and its in immaculate condition. Best of all, I got it for an excellent price!

    Favorite Web site to visit: They have pretty comprehensive coverage of what’s going on in the fashion world, delivered in quick, short posts. I also like that they post great outfits that members of their community put together. I’m fascinated with seeing what people put together.

    Top five items on your style wish list for this season: I can only think of three since I think I pretty much have most of my key pieces already:

    1. Another pair of dark bootleg jeans. I’ve pretty much worn my favorite pair so much (Joe’s Jeans in the Honey fit) that the color’s faded significantly.

    2. More dresses. I’ve purchased a few already, but I just can’t get enough. They’re so easy to pull on in summer.

    3. A pair of wide-leg jeans. I’ve tried on a ton of different ones, but still haven’t found a flattering fit.

    Outlet Mall Shopping

    Yesterday I visited a major outlet mall in my area. Over a mile of stores – some with great bargains, some with great piles of crap. There have been many stories about discount stores – how some of the product is not on sale, the clothes are made specifically for the outlet and are not the same quality that the brand name usually delivers, etc. After all that, you find designer duds for less, when is it worthwhile to spend, when should a bargain be passed by?

    If it doesn’t fit well for $300, still doesn’t fit well for $150 and even for $65, don’t buy it. Just because it’s a great bargain does not make the fit any better. Shoes that are too tight or too big, jackets that pull at the back, pants that would be lovely if you just lost 15 lbs., no matter the bargain these items should just stay on the rack.

    If the jacket’s sleeves are too long, the skirt’s hem at an awkward length, the shoulders a bit too big, these things can be altered easily by a tailor. You must be in love with the piece and find multiple places and ways to wear it to justify the tailor expense. I found a cream silk linen suit at a discount store – the suit fit perfectly except for a broken zipper and too long of sleeves and legs. I bought the suit for $65, regularly $350, and for $40 had the zipper and hems all modified. I have worn the suit to work, to religious events and as separates for three years. That purchase was worth the added tailoring expense.

    Often times the items at the discount store are there because they are leftover from last season. When it comes to classic pieces like suits, dresses and knits, this is not a problem. A blue merino v-neck is lovely almost every year, and more lovely when 50% off. The problem comes with the trendy p[pieces.

    If Lindsay, Mischa, Nicole or Chloe was wearing it last spring, it’s a good chance that piece is passé now. Pass on the embellished jeans, the metallic leather bags, the rainbow-hued sunglasses and most other accessories. Just because it’s on sale does not mean it is a good buy. When it comes to scouring outlets, your best deals are the ones that will last through more than one season. Sweaters, suits, outerwear, cocktail dresses, leather goods and most shoes are great bargains if you find quality and value in the same item.

    Name Brands
    Just because you found a pair of Manolo Blahniks for $100 at the Saks Fifth Avenue outlet does not mean they need to be purchased. Do they fit your current style? Are they comfortable? Are they current or classic?

    We have all seen the label whores – those women with a Coach purse, Jimmy Choo shoes that JLo wore last year, Baby Phat jeans, a Bebe tee with the rhinestone logo, Chanel sunglasses and a Pucci scarf in her hair. These items weren’t bought for the quality or the style. They were bought because a stranger could spot the brand a mile away. She looks trashy, obvious and victimized by fashion. None of these are appealing. Labels do not suddenly make you well dressed or well liked.

    If you can find a Furla bag for 40% off and it suits your style as well as lifestyle – then go for it. If you are buying a bag purely because it’s Prada and you don’t like the style, size or fabric… well you have become a label whore.

    Don’t buy that jacket just because it’s designer. Pretend that it is an unknown label – do you still like it? Do you still find it attractive and necessary? If not, put it back on the rack. That goes for ill-fitting designer duds, last season’s “It Bag,” obvious logo advertising (if it’s that obvious, it will be that obvious from last season – not worth your time or money) and damaged designer goods.

    Damaged Goods
    Many discount retailers sell the irregulars from a label. Some irregulars can barely be seen by the naked eye – may be an incorrect dye lot or the wrong buttons sewn on a jacket. Some may work in your favor – pants cut too short or sleeves that are too long or too narrow. Often times these stores received the garments that were damaged in production, transit or through many jaunts to the fitting room. Broken zippers, missing buttons, fabric snags are all defects that can easily be repaired or covered up if the price and style is right. However there are other defects that are not worth the purchase, no matter how low the price. Runs in nylon, stains, button holes at the wrong height, linings that do not align with the trouser, two pieces stitched together from two different dye lots. Even if it is Versace, it will look like Gallo Clothing on you if it is this defective.

    Buying in Bulk
    I used to be a huge fan of buying in bulk – find a tee shirt you love, buy it in eight colors and three of white and black. Flattering trousers? Buy one in every color. I then found that my wardrobe was like one big uniform… one big boring uniform. Mixing basics with fun pieces offers versatility, ease but individual style.

    At outlet malls, buying in bulk is a good idea. Yesterday I was at the Banana Republic outlet and found high quality stretchy tees in tons of colors – $9.99 each. I bought one in black, one in white, one in gray and one in red. These shirts can be worn with jeans on weekends, with a little skirt for happy hour with the girls or under a suit for work. I found a great pair of wool trousers at Off Fifth, bought them in brown, gray and black. They were so standard and fit so amazingly well (and were only $39.99 each) that it was worthwhile to buy every color I liked. I knew with my work and lifestyle I would find regular use for such trousers. Another time I found a pair of really cute studded pointy heels from NYLA. They were 75% off and tres cute. I decided to buy them in hot pink, ivory and black, thinking that if they fit well, they would get much use. I was imagining sparkly tops and designer jeans with the ivory, a sexy power suit with the black, and envisioned an outfit a la Carrie Bradshaw for the pink. I took them all home, have worn the pink ones multiple times, and have barely touched the other two. I don’t wear designer jeans with sparkly tops on a regular basis, and don’t own a single chic black power suit. Those two shoes have barely seen the light of day. Consider your current lifestyle when considering to buy in bulk – items that look too familiar may not be worn and too many of the same thing may make them all too boring to regularly wear. Also, if you don’t wear red patent stilettos now, you probably won’t after purchasing a pair.

    In conclusion, don’t buy just because of a label, or just because of an amazing price. Less money for an item is still money, and money should be spent carefully. Be willing to take the time to find quality purchases, not pick up every shiny bauble that sort of resembles what Gwen or Jessica wore last Spring. Fashion is not about the specific item, but the allover look. A Louis Vuitton bag or a pair of Chanel sunglasses will not make you a fashionista, the pairing with appropriate and complimentary pieces is what takes you from being a label whore or a fashion victim to fashionista status.

    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.


    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.

    Could Fry an Egg

    Top: c/o Karen Kane | Pants: Tahari | Shoes: Nine West (similar) | Bracelet: c/o Lifetherapy | Hoops: Argento Vivo | Glasses: Derek Cardigan 7003 c/o

    I think this weather was more the type where you could steam an egg rather than fry it. DC has been a few days of heat, rain, heat, rain and it’s hard to pull together a work-appropriate ensemble and not sweat through it by time you reach the office. Karen Kane sent me this top and I positively love it; it’s one of those tops that looks far better in person. The fabric is actually linen, but a lightweight slub fabric that is comfortable in the humidity and drapes so nicely. I’ve worn it before with the black pants for an easy early-morning outfit, and also like it with white jeans.  It does say dry clean only, but I washed on gentle in a lingerie bag and let it air dry and it turned out nicely.

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    My Bra Had a Baby!

    As you know, I am on the search for new lingerie.  My bras are too large and my underwear is too old and un-pretty.  Well after being measured, it seems that I am still the same band size (though am close to going down) and down one cup size.  So I checked out Nordstrom’s sale department online to see what I could find in my new size.

    These are the two bras I received.  THEY ARE THE SAME SIZE.  Same band, same cup.  One is Natori, one is DKNY

    Seriously, doesn’t it look like Mama Bra & Baby Bra?

    Seriously DKNY, WTH?  The Natori fit great and I am actually wearing it today and wore it Saturday.  It made my brown dress fit better because my bust wasn’t so… busty.  I couldn’t feel it on, and it hides under knits.  Total win.

    The DKNY, I put it on just for giggles.  You know how a too-small bra may give you quad boobs from overfill?  Well this bra, I had overfill in my armpits, on top and even under the wires!  Talk about a major FAIL!  A funny fail, but a fail nonetheless.

    What I Wore: It’s Myne

    myne heidi dress hobo bags clutch zippers myne heidi dress review

    Dress: Myne | Bag: Hobo Bags (similar) | Shoes: Nine West | Glasses: Zenni Optical | Bracelet: Had forever (similar) | Lipstick: Revlon ‘Certainly Red’ | Ear Cuffs: Etsy (here and here)

    I wrote about this dress in this post. A lot of you wanted to see me in it since I am a very different shape from the model, but it has been too cold to bust out this lightweight silk dress until now. When I bought it I figured I’d style it with peeptoe ankle booties and my wide silver metal plate belt, but once spring arrived I decided I liked it a bit more stripped down. The dress is by the brand Myne, and each time I read the label I say, “It’s MINE!” in the whiny voice I use when I read Emerson her book, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Share.  As an FYI, this is a size 10; I originally got a 12 but found it too long for my petite stature.  The 10 fits comfortably but the belt that came with it is too small (no biggie, the belt is kind of ugly and cheap looking).

    If you signed up for my monthly Style File newsletter you know that I recently got these glasses. They’re huge, they’re bright, and they’re a lot of fun for a very low price (hello prescription lenses under $30!). I’ve been wearing a lot of red lately – I’ve been doing a red lip almost all winter and have been choosing OPI’s Big Apple Red as my nail polish of choice for almost a year. It made sense if I was going to buy some funky glasses to have them in my current signature shade!

    Little Bits of Luxury: The Series

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

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

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

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