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
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.

HerRoom
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!

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!
-Rhonda
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

Bijte:
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.

Glamourmom:
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:
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!

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!

    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:

    Image hosted by Photobucket.com
    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:

    Image hosted by Photobucket.com
    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.

    A Proper Bra Fitting – My Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     Me in my original bra

     
    Me in the bra I purchased

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

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

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

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

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

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

    THIS is a strapless bra!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Monday

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

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

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

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

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

    Outlet Mall Shopping

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


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

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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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

    Scrimp or Splurge – What’s Your Number?

    scrimp or splurge

    Tuesday’s post about white tee shirts got me thinking. I believe we all have a number, that price we won’t cross for certain items for our closet. I often read interviews with style icons and they’ll say how they scrimp for X but splurge for Y, and often I feel the complete opposite about those items. That our numbers are personal based upon our age, our figure, our lifestyle, our budget. They are as unique as our personal styles.

    While I wouldn’t have spent over $30 for a tee shirt two years ago (maybe $45 if striped or embellished), I now obviously will drop $80 for a plain white v-neck to stop the hunt and finally be satisfied. I couldn’t imagine spending more than $75 on a pair of jeans (but owned over a dozen pairs), but now don’t even blink at a $100 pricetag; though I now only own a handful of pairs.

    On the other hand, some things I won’t pay as much for now that I used to. I can recall putting designer wool and leather coats on layaway because I considered them a worthy investment; now I buy my coats on clearance in the spring and don’t care the label inside as long as I like how it looks on me. Most of my makeup bag contents are from CVS, and I’ve learned some natural budget-friendly products like witch hazel, coconut oil, and jojoba oil do just as well as the high-end skincare lines.

    The part missing from the tee shirt conversation was lifestyle and budget. What are the white tee shirts worn for, and how much can you spend on clothing in general? For some people $150 is a drop in the bucket, for others it’s the food budget for a month. For some, a white tee shirt is a piece of fashion as important as an It Bag or designer jeans while others just see it as what they slip on under their sweaters or wear on weekends with shorts.

    So I ask you, what are your numbers? What’s the max you’d pay for a pair of jeans? A winter coat? A pair of tall boots? A handbag?  A dress to wear to a wedding or gala event? Where do you scrimp and where do you splurge? I know there’s such a variety of people who read this blog, this conversation would be interesting to highlight your unique lives and personal styles, but also help me know what to share on Wardrobe Oxygen in the future!

    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 Coastal.com

    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.

    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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    Ask Allie: What to Wear Under Fitted Knit Dresses

    I have been following your blog for awhile now and bought many things from your recommendation; the latest one is a dress from Dobbin. However, I need the correct undergarments. I put on the Jockey shorts (also your recommendation) but the seams show. I have tried Spanx and they are a bit too constricting. Any advice as to what I can wear under dresses so I can incorporate them into my wardrobe?

    fitted dress underwear control garment

    As I write my response to you I’m wearing a wrap dress I bought from Old Navy that needs just the right light control garment to smooth my figure, gently hold me in without gas pain and without visible seams. Like you, I find I need underpinnings like this in my arsenal to wear under my Dobbin ponte dresses, my Karen Kane jersey dresses, and other frocks that need that special something. Here’s my favorite light control garments that I wear under fitted and knit dresses:

    DKNY Under Bust Bodysuit

    This is what I’m currently wearing with my dress. I have three of these babies – one in nude for light colored dresses, one in black for dark colored dresses, and one in the most gorgeous fuchsia because it was on clearance and I couldn’t resist. While this suit has seams, they are in logical places that match up with seams of most dresses. The rear has a wide lace band so there’s no VPL, and I LOVE that it can be comfortably worn with any bra from my lingerie drawer. The straps are adjustable, which is a perk for my short-torsoed self, and it’s actually PRETTY.

    The crotch has a hook and eye opening that I find utterly ridiculous to try to maneuver, especially when in a public restroom trying to handle heels, strangers’ germs, and a fitted dress hiked up around my waist. I don’t unhook it with each visit to the lavatory but instead just slide the whole garment to the side, hold in place as I take care of business. But really that’s the only negative aspect of this garment.

    This is not a Spanx-like control garment. In fact, it doesn’t do a lot of gut sucking. What it does do is smooth the figure. No indentation of a belly button, no segmentation from the waistband of panties or tights, no VPL. My body is the same size, but it appears to be firmer and smoother under clothing.

    DKNY ‘Lace Curves’ Shaping Brief

    I’ve written about this garment before because I’ve been a fan for many years. This is pretty much the same thing as the bodysuit, but it ends at the waist. Same lace back, same smoothing but not gut-sucking capabilities, and same ability to not look like Bridget Jones scary pants. Seriously, pair with a pretty bra in the same color and you feel retro bombshell.

    Unlike the bodysuit, the shaping brief does have a waistband, and depending on your figure and softness, it may show. I find this piece best for skirts or dresses with a defined waistband. Also know they do stretch out with time; pairs I’ve had for a year still look great but slowly get bigger even with careful laundering. I buy a new one when Nordstrom has them on sale (not on clearance now but have been part of their Anniversary sale), and have found them at a nice price on Bare Necessities.

    Spanx Tight End High Waist Tights

    I’ll tell you a little secret; one of the perks of durable tights is that you can go commando under them. They’re opaque enough for it, and they can handle being laundered so often. This really reduces the segmentation and lines that can happen under garments.  I wear these tights on their own quite often because they suck in a bit but not nearly as much as the brand’s actual control garments, and the waist is high enough that it doesn’t cut me in the middle. If you’re someone who doubles up hosiery for extra opacity, control, or warmth; this is a great pair as they don’t shift and they can handle it without stretching out. And as I mentioned at the beginning, they’re super durable and can handle being machine washed on gentle in a lingerie bag (or even a run in your stockinged feet across concrete to catch a dog chasing down the mailman).

    DKNY High-Waist Control Top Tights

    I also like these tights from DKNY, and for all the same reasons mentioned for Spanx. These do run a bit tighter in the elastic top, but I actually like that because it gives an even smoother line from ribcage down. DKNY’s tights come in Plus Petite which is a nice feature that I wish more brands would embrace. But these tights are durable enough that this fall I’m wearing a pair I purchased in 2012.

    So now I ask you readers, what do you find works best under fitted knit dresses?

    What I Wore: Real Red

    Dress: Belle c/o Dobbin Clothing | Bag: “Erin” Satchel c/o Fossil | Tights: Nordstrom | Boots: Ros Hommerson  | Bracelets: had forever, Nordstrom (similar) | Watch: Citizen c/o WatchCo | Coat: Via Spiga

    Fossil was kind enough to send me this bag and I immediately fell in love with the color. It’s not cherry, it’s not tomato, it’s not ruby or oxblood or any other fancy terms. It’s as clear and true of a red as a crayon. I checked the bag’s label and it’s called Real Red. I like that, no crazy made-up name, just what is exactly is. This bag is pretty phenomenal, and perfect for a commuter like me. Two side zipper pockets to hold things like farecards and lip balm, and inside there is a zipper pocket on one side, and the other side five different pockets to hold anything from a Smartphone or your keys to business cards and a pack of gum. And in this bag I have my wallet, Kindle (did you enter my Kindle giveaway?), makeup bag, myAgenda, sunglasses, gloves, journal, and two reusable containers to hold my lunch. Impressive! The crossbody strap is adjustable to become a shoulderbag, or it can be removed. I know this bag is going to be used quite a lot this season!

    I never understand why street style models and bloggers wear their coats on their shoulders like a cape.  How can they move their arms?  Why not just put on the coat?  Then I realized on cold days I do this very thing – I wear the coat like a cape from the house and over my shoulders until Karl gets ready to take pictures.  This way my outfit doesn’t get as rumpled and I’m less likely to mess up my hair.  Karl got this picture of me in the coat at the beginning of the shoot and it showcases the coat I bought last winter on a whim and still adore a year later (and it’s still available at Nordstrom and now on sale!).

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    What I Wore: Issa for Banana Republic

    I’m not a fan of designer collaborations. I don’t understand clamoring for a cheaper version of a designer piece. I don’t want a glued-together pleather bag or ill-fitting polyester blouse no matter what name is on the label. However, once the Issa Collection came out for Banana Republic I was intrigued. Banana Republic already has good quality and fits me relatively well, and the pieces in the collection were things I would buy no matter the designer. I liked the kimono dresses, and felt this print was one I would wear now and five years from now, in spring and in winter. For those considering this dress, I chose a 14, and yes, they do run short (it’s veering on not work appropriate and I am 5’3″). However it’s made extremely well, a heavy matte jersey that feels good and is a style that I think would work if I gained or lost weight. And you know me, I waited until it was on sale, Banana Republic was having a big sale, and I had reward dollars!

    And how great is this bracelet? Wearing gold jewelery? No problem! Silver? No problem! Everything goes with this piece from Ruth Barzel, and I love that it’s rock and roll while still being elegant. I’ve been wearing this bracelet a ton lately (check my Instagram for proof), I like it mixed with other bracelets, but with such a bold dress, I felt it looked best all by itself.

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    My Wardrobe Today – Monday

    Tee - LOFT
    Skirt – Ann Taylor (bought on eBay 5 years ago for $14.99, no clue how old, label style unfamiliar to me)
    TightsNordstrom
    BootiesCole Haan
    Scarf – c/o Nordstrom Rack
    BagSabina
    Silver cuff

    I forgot to set my alarm last night. My body woke me up at 7:15 (glad it wasn’t 8:15) and I had 45 minutes to get myself together and out the door. I had pulled this skirt out of my stash of potential winter things and a month ago it was just too tight, too short, and I thought I would re-eBay it. I pulled it on this morning since it was sitting on the cedar chest at the foot of the bed… and it fit! Only thing wrong is I guess the hem dry rotted and has fallen out while wearing (easy to fix). Very excited to have another leather skirt in my arsenal!

    New bag – I had $40 in Nordstrom rewards, saw this bag for $129 and decided to try it.  I have wanted a bigger bag to carry my netbook and such, and wanted a soft black purse (currently have my Banana Republic one which is that textured hard leather like a football). Love the bag, so soft, holds so much, necessary front pocket (with magnet closure) and hey… gotta love such a quality bag for only $89!

    Sorry for the delay in posting, work has gotten really hectic. Glad I stocked the office fridge with Lean Cuisines because that’s the only way I get to eat anything. The only time I have left my desk is to hit the printer or the bathroom (and refill my water bottle!). Whew, what a crazy couple of weeks!

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