Search Results for: label/motherhood

Blogging and Motherhood

I have to say… motherhood isn’t really affecting my blogging. I know people are thinking that as that I have been pretty sporadic in my posting. But it’s not motherhood, it’s work and priorities.

Work has been busy, to put it mildly. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and I have a wonderful team that I work with and a great supervisor who appreciates a job well done and provides comp time (which almost completely covered that staycation I had the other week). Our clients are demanding, disorganized and drop things on us at the last minute, but are greatly appreciative that my team and I make them look flawless to the public or THEIR clients. So I am very busy, but outside of sometimes (like last night) getting home after E has gone to bed or sometimes (like this morning) leaving before I can do anything but feed E… I feel good.

The house is still coming together. Taking care of a parent’s estate, no matter the size, is not quick or tidy work. This past weekend was full of moving furniture, packing boxes, burying ashes. A positive look on the weekend – we were able to move in most of my husband’s dad’s furniture that we chose to keep. It is exciting to see his beloved books mixed with ours on his bookcases, and to eat at my husband’s childhood dining table (it is also exciting to have Craigslisted my dining set that I bought at IKEA in 1998… good set but good to have it finally gone).

Having three dogs… is three times the work of having one! A year ago if I had to get to work early, I would turn off the alarm, slip into the bathroom, dress in the dark, kiss the husband, shush Ruckus and be gone in 20 minutes. This morning, the alarm goes off and three dogs are dancing around as though they hadn’t been outside in 50 years. 12 sets of doggy nails on bamboo floors woke Emerson, so I fed her back to sleep. I try to shush them, have them go back on their beds but they weren’t having it so as I went down the stairs they all bounded down with me, went outside, and proceeded to bark their heads off (it’s 4:30 am) at a cat on the other side of the fence. So I had to round them up, feed them, give them their appropriate meds… and I ended up leaving a bit late and without breakfast.

There are many fun and exciting things taking place in my personal life. Very good friends have recently married, I will be the Matron of Honor in my best friend’s wedding Labor Day weekend, and officiant for my dear friend’s wedding Halloween weekend. So there are showers and bachelorettes to attend in the near future. Since we have a new house and a new baby, we are hosting an all-family (my family, my husband’s family from both his mother and his father’s sides) cookout this weekend.

With a social calendar like that, you can understand that when I get home, I do not turn on my computer! :)

The only thing blog-related that motherhood DOES affect is my wardrobe. I think I am even more concerned with finding pieces that have many functions. Dresses are great because I can wear them to work, to a bridal shower, to a daytime wedding, to a memorial service, to dinner out with the husband. Dresses also don’t require much thought or preparation. Oh, going to wear the blue print dress? I will then wear the red heels, the black bra, the black Spanx, the silver jewelry. Same thing goes for trousers – much more versatile than jeans. My gray/blue chinos from Gap can be worn to work, to a cookout, to walk the dogs. I have very few tops right now, so pretty much each one goes with one or two different bottoms and that’s about it.

I also need clothing that will allow me to pump at work and nurse when home or out and about. This cuts out a good 70% of current fashion, which streamlines my wardrobe and helps me stay on budget.

The body is constantly changing and morphing. I can feel the weight coming off, but it is making the sagging show much more. I think my double chin is more pronounced now that it isn’t bloated, the belly sags in a strange way, the arms are now a bit saggy and there is still more weight that needs to be lost. I know a lot of this can be cured with exercise and muscle toning, but I am just trying to stay afloat with what is currently on the schedule and haven’t found much time for proper exercise. I just try to walk a lot and do at least three sun salutations each morning to keep me limber. But with this changing body, I find skirts and pants very difficult to fit. Again a plus for dresses!

The only thing I really have seen change is my personal grooming – I could have time for regular pedicures, cut and color and baths where I slough off everything. The thing is… I would rather sit out on my deck having an omelet and a cup of coffee with my husband, my daughter cooing in her seat, the dogs basking in the sun than sit in a salon and get buffed and polished. To me, I find more rest and relaxation in my backyard. But that is a personal thing more than a Motherhood thing.

I have always felt that mothers can still maintain a sense of style, and even with this busy life I still believe it. Maybe one shouldn’t invest in sequins and the most delicate of silks, but it is possible to be professional, to be stylish, to be attractive, to be more than “just presentable.” I think most women have a busy life prior to children – long hours at the job, evenings out with friends and family, weekends dashing about town getting errands finished. A baby does affect your life in so many ways, but I think it’s less about fashion and more about priorities. But as I always say – said pre-Emerson and say now… you aren’t worth a thing to anyone if you do not take care of yourself first.

So I am logging off so I can get back to work. Tomorrow should start at a semi-reasonable time so I hope to capture a picture of what I am wearing. Today I am wearing my gray and yellow cashmere cardigan from Gap with a white ribbed tank, tan sandals from Lands End and my gray/blue chino trousers also from Gap. Silver chains, silver hoops, hair in a low ponytail with sideswept bangs. Tarte’s Blushing Bride, plenty of black mascara and some lip gloss. Good look for leaving the house at 5am. :)

Holding On To The Past

I become emotionally attached to clothing. I think many of us do – I surely see it when I do closet clean-outs and wardrobe makeovers. People who cling to dresses three sizes too small, jeans with zipper ankles, Doc Martens, concert tee shirts because they remind the owner of a happy occasion.

With a max of four possible weeks left in this pregnancy, I have started packing up some of my maternity clothes. I know a few pieces will still be worn a couple weeks after the baby, but I packed up the items from the warmer months, or the pieces that just won’t be likely to be worn any time soon (hello skirt suit and tankini).

My plan was to sell that which I didn’t really love, and carefully pack that which I did in the attic. I try to inventory that which goes in the attic – I make a list which goes at the top of the container for easy reference, and label the outside of the container so I don’t have to yank open everything to find last summer’s shorts.

Well a friend found out recently that she is pregnant and due in June. I just can’t let these nice clothes sit in an attic until whenever, if ever I get pregnant again. So I re-invetorized my maternity wardrobe, not separating for sale. I figure I will let her use whatever works for her, and then afterwards decide what to sell.

As my husband slept, I put my pregnancy insomnia to good use and locked myself in my closet (oh yeah baby, I so need to take a picture of my new closet for you guys – I can sit in it!) and re-went through all my maternity clothes that will not be in current rotation. Some I hardly realized I even owned, some I won’t miss (hello white jeans from Ann Taylor Loft that seemed to grow a size with every washing), and some… well some almost made me tear up.

As with regular wardrobes, there are just some pieces you purchase without much of a thought that become a major part of your life. For me, it was my pink print matte jersey dress from Motherhood.

It was August, I went to Rehoboth Beach with my mom and sister for our annual girls’ getaway. We stopped at the Motherhood Maternity outlet. I have despised maternity clothing stores my entire pregnancy and just looked at the over crowded racks of acrylic sweaters and wanted to run as fast as I could. My sister however started digging through racks, trying to find great style at a great bargain. She came across this dress. It was my size, and it was only $9.99. I am not one for loud prints, but I decided to try it.

It fit, and it was cute.

Two months later, it still fit and still was cute.

If it weren’t 40 degrees outside, it would most likely still be worn, still fit and still be cute.

This dress was an easy go-to piece for me. It flattered my pregnant figure, it was cheery colors, it didn’t itch or bind but made me look appropriate for baby showers, nights out, work, and anything where yoga pants weren’t allowed. Every time I wore it, I received compliments from strangers. People told me I was a cute pregnant person, and my skin was glowing. Each time I put it on, my husband would smile and tell me how beautiful I was pregnant.

It’s so tempting to keep it in the closet… maybe I can still carry it off with a cardigan and leggings? Maybe it would still fit post-baby? Should I really lend it to a friend – what if it gets damaged?

Then I think of those tapered jeans, sequined tanks and fuzzy snowflake sweaters in the closets of my clients and friends. Those pieces that people hang on to from when they were smaller, younger, more daring, more sociable. They hardly ever see the light of day, and if the owner does get down to that size or back to that lifestyle – the item no longer is flattering or stylish. This dress, which got me through so much of my pregnancy may be something I find utterly repulsive in a couple of years. This dress, which brought me confidence and happiness could provide joy for another mother-to-be instead of collecting dust in my closet or attic.

Some times I think about clothes I no longer own and wish I still had them. Why did I get rid of my The Smiths tee shirt? Those perfectly worn vintage jeans from Moondoggies in College Park, that ivory Victorian lace blouse I used to wear with just a simple bra (oh yeah, the early ’90s – but I could sport it now with a camisole!)? Then I remember – I got rid of them because it was time. I know I don’t donate and toss willy-nilly, so there must have been a good reason. Maybe they were damaged, maybe they went out of fashion, maybe my memories of the garment are better than the actual thing.

Maybe we all are holding onto the past in our closets. Last night I took everything from my old closet and moved it into my new one, switching our dry cleaning hangers for proper ones, having everything hang in the right direction, and re-examining that which I felt deserved precious closet real estate. I ended up removing about five items that just were not proper style or quality. The year is ending, just a couple of weeks and we will be in 2009. What in your closet is not worthy of your new year self?


Motherhood Maternity: Pink print matte jersey dress
Callisto: Tan heeled sandals
Silver cuff

Washed and conditioned
Dried with round brush

Laura Mercier: Flawless face kit in Sand
Nars: Blush in Orgasm
Pop Beauty: Shadow palette for Brown Eyes – the khaki and celadon blended on lid
Cover Girl: LashBlast mascara in Rich Black
Clinique: Almost Lipstick in Black Honey


Motherhood Maternity – Pink print matte jersey dress
Ann Taylor Loft – Hot pink cotton cardigan (not in picture)
Sofft – Black patent Mary Jane flats

Washed and Conditioned
Matrix Curl.Life Contouring Milk
Hair dried with diffuser, curling iron to unruly pieces

Laura Mercier – Flawless Face Kit in Sand
Nars – Blush in Orgasm
Clinique – Long Wear Lipstick in Beauty
Pop Beauty – Shadow palette for Brown Eyes – Khaki on lid
Maybelline – UltraLiner in black, brow powder in Dark Brown
Cover Girl – Lash Blast mascara in Rich Black

If You’re Not Going to Listen to Me…

I often get emails and comments about how I don’t know how it is to be a stay at home parent, what it is like to be the parent of multiples. That my posts about fashion, style, and quality wardrobe pieces aren’t realistic for a woman with that profession and lifestyle. And yes, you’re right, I am not a parent of multiple children, and I do work outside the home.

For those who don’t feel as though I understand their situation, I encourage you to read this wonderful post by Meagan Francis at The Happiest Mom Shopping, Showers & Self-sacrifice: The Lesson of the Blue Dress An excerpt from her post:

…I got home and learned of a Facebook status update that’s been making its way around the mom world:

“I traded eyeliner for dark circles, salon hair cuts for ponytails, designer jeans for sweat pants, long hot baths for lucky if i get a shower, late nights for early morning cartoons, designer purses for diaper bags and I wouldn’t change a thing!! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Repost this if you don’t care what you gave up and will continue to give up for your children!”

Fellow moms, I have a problem with this kind of self-congratulation disguised as self-deprecation.
It’s not that I have anything against pony tails or diaper bags. I love pony tails. They’re cute and practical. Ditto diaper bags. I’m also not negating that motherhood is time-consuming and shifts a woman’s priorities (not to mention her budget) in a major way.
It’s just the idea that a pony tail is a sacrifice motherhood demands. That our kids are somehow better off if we live in sweats. The thing is, our kids did not ask us to give up our purses or our daily showers. Going without a bubble bath doesn’t make us better mothers.
Maybe designer jeans never were your thing anyway (they never were mine) or you couldn’t care less about giving up eyeliner. Then it’s no big deal. If you’re comfy in your sweats, fantastic! But unwashed hair or sloppy clothes isn’t a sign of virtuousness. Sacrificing the things that make us feel feminine or happy or heck, just human simply because we are mothers isn’t helping anyone in the long run.
I think that moms have a hard time investing in ourselves. Whether it’s spending more money on the clothes that we feel great in, or taking the time to do our hair, anything that could be considered shallow or frivolous or even overly feminine is supposed to fly out the window once we take on the Grave, Deep, and Meaningful job that is motherhood. We’re not really women anymore, we’re like asexual, frizzy-haired superheroes who live to sacrifice everything–even small things like showers, for crying out loud–for our children.
Image courtesy of The Happiest Mom

…There’s nothing wrong with being a mom who likes designer jeans. Or who takes time for her daily bubble baths. Or who applies eyeliner. Or refuses to carry a diaper bag (ever noticed that diapers fit just fine in purses?) Or who, like me, decides to splurge on something as selfish as a dress she feels fantastic in.

We’re worth it. I promise. And you know, I think our kids would agree.

Meagan Francis is the parent of five children, and a writer who has had her work in publications such as Parenting, Parents, American Baby, and Pregnancy.  She is the author of four books, including The Happiest Mom: Ten Secrets To Enjoying Motherhood, which will be published in April of 2011.


Motherhood Maternity – Black turtleneck sweater
IGIGI – Black slink knit wide-leg trousers
Sudini – Black leather booties
Ann Taylor – Gold necklace and hoops

Second day, just brushed

Laura Mercier – Flawless Face Kit in Sand
Nars – Blush in Orgasm
Pop Beauty- Shadow palette for Brown Eyes – khaki on lids
Maybelline – UltraLiner in Black, brow powder in Dark Brown
Avon – Glazewear Lipwear in Juicy Apricot
Cover Girl – LashBlast mascara in Rich Black

My other bargain from the Motherhood Maternity Outlet in Rehoboth Beach – only $9.99 and super soft! The pants were given to me by a friend – with a safety pin they work as maternity pants. Pretty cool since now the only shoes that fit me are these booties and my Duo boots and I had an important conference today where I had to dress in a manner more professional than casual leather boots and I am down to just a couple of black pants that are all in need of a washing. I caved in and ordered some new shoes in a wider and larger size, they should arrive next week. I had to return the round-toe wedges from Report – after two wearings with bare legs and a few wearings around the house in socks they still tear up my ankles to the point that I can’t wear any other pumps for two weeks. Not cool at all.

Well the conference went really well – I was in charge of a major aspect of it (my first real time with this company where I was the one in charge of such an important event) and it went quite well. BIG relief; the prepping has been stressful the past week and I am glad to have it over and done with. Now I better sign off and get ready to work on the next project! :)


Motherhood Maternity – Soft black turtleneck sweater
Ann Taylor Loft – Bootcut jeans
Naturalizer – “Creston” flats in black
Silver hoops and cuff

Washed and conditioned night before; air dry
Fixed bedhead with curling iron

L’Oreal – True Match foundation in C3
Laura Mercier – Loose translucent powder
Nars – Blush in Orgasm
Clinique – The light shadow from the Like Mink eye shadow duo
Maybelline – UltraLiner in Black, Shine Seduction lip gloss in Blushed Bass
Cover Girl – LashBlast mascara in Rich Black

Pregnant women – do NOT hem or alter any clothes until they are the size you fit into. These jeans were waaaayyy too long and I had them hemmed. They were still too long as 12 weeks. Now they are highwaters and I hardly have any other jeans that still fit in the hits/are comfortable in the tummy. Learn from my mistake.

Hope you all have a great weekend! We plan to have lots of house stuff take place and I may be going to the theater with my sister tomorrow night!

Friday Through Monday

Hello everyone! Back and slightly rested from my beach getaway with my mom and sister!

Friday we left around 11am and made really good time. For the trip down, I didn’t really focus on my look – I hadn’t showered and spent the morning packing and getting the house ready for my departure so I only really cared about comfort.

When we got to the hotel and settled in, we decided trekking to the beach with chairs and all was too much so we took advantage of the hotel’s pool and sundeck. Took a nice nap and then we headed out for dinner, drinks (water please!) and roaming around town.

Old Navy: Gray jersey maternity dress
H&M: Silver necklace
Callisto: Tan heeled sandals
Silver hoops and cuff

Washed and conditioned with Pureology Volumizing
Matrix Curl.Life Conditioning Milk
Dried hair with hotel dryer (no diffuser) so it wasn’t super curly
Straightened bangs a bit with curling iron

Cover Girl: Tinted Moisturizer in Light/Medium, LashBlast mascara in Rich Black
Cargo: Matte BeachBlush in Tenerife
Clinique: Shadow Duo in Mink
Avon: Luxury Eye Liner in Black
L’Oreal: Infallible lip gloss in Coral Sands

We had dinner at a really nice Italian spot, and then went to one of our favorite bars where we had some cocktails (I had water), and we got to see the Olympics opening ceremony with a crowd of patriotic folks (and a few making it into a drinking game). It was a cool experience when the US came out, the whole bar stood up and cheered and clapped.

Saturday, we had breakfast and got an early start at the beach. The weather was gorgeous – a cool breeze, few clouds, and the water wasn’t freezing. We left the beach for lunch, but otherwise stayed out there all day thanks to an umbrella and SPF 30 sunscreen.

No picture, but I wore my black Liz Lange for Target tankini, my orange “Kate Dress” by J. Crew as a coverup, and my Reef flip flops.

Saturday night, we went to dinner at a really eclectic restaurant where I had fabulous tomato artichoke bisque and zucchini fritte and a “Nojito” alcohol-free cocktail that was utterly delicious! Oh yes, I took a picture of it – it tasted as good as it looked!! :)

We did a bit of shopping, lots of walking and People Watching, ice cream for dessert and back by midnight (we were all exhausted). The weather was so lovely, we really enjoyed walking around town seeing all the pretty homes.

New York and Company: Red jersey dress
Reef: “Sandy” Flip Fops
Vintage Red Stone Necklace
Silver hoops and cuff

Washed and conditioned with Pureology
Matrix Curl.Life Conditioning Milk
Let hair air dry and left as-is

Same as Friday night

Sunday was horrific weather – rain off an on, cold, and even some hail!

Old Navy: Black Bermuda shorts, gray knit wrap tee
Reef: Black “Sandy” flops
H&M: Silver necklace
Silver hoops and cuff

Day 2, bangs straightened with curling iron

Same as the rest of the weekend

We did a bit of shopping around Rehoboth and then headed to the outlets. We planned the outlets ahead of time marking which stores we actually cared about seeing so we could save time and not spend more than we desired. On my list was Motherhood and Children’s Place (naturally), my mom wanted to see Coach, Jones New York and Chico’s, my sister wanted Coach and Gap Outlet. We also wanted to hit J. Crew and Banana Republic, but passed due to weather and time.

We got some $1.99 and 99 cent goodies for the baby, I got a sweater and dress from Motherhood (both were $9.99 each!), got my hubby some socks and boxers, my sister got a gorgeous purse and a sweater. We had a light lunch, and then got on the road.

The trip home was insane – that morning a poultry truck fell off the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and all westbound lanes were shut down and there was over a 10 mile backup. We decided to head up Route 1 to Wilmington, DE and then take 95 South back home. Problem was everyone else was doing the same thing and it took almost seven hours to get back to the DC area (with a stop for dinner, gas and leg stretching). Through the whole trip, it rained off an on – often times very heavy and with hail. Insane! However I was in bed before 11:30 pm so I was good for today. :)

Motherhood: Matte jersey dress (my new $9.99 frock)
Silver hoops and cuff
Callisto: Tan heeled sandals

Day 3

Cover Girl: Tinted Moisturizer in Light/Medium, LashBlast mascara in Rich Black
Cargo: Matte BeachBlush in Tenerife
Maybelline: UltraLiner in Black, Shadow quad in Mocha Motion – light huds blended on lid
Revlon: Shiny Sheer in Sheer Plum Drop

Style Icon – Laura Bennett

I don’t know how many of you watch Project Runway on Bravo, but I highly recommend it. It is not your typical reality show – it follows 16 new and fledgling fashion designers through a competition full of weird challenges that push their creative limits. In the past season, one of the finalists, Laura Bennett caught my attention and the attention of many women. She was the mother of five (and a sixth on the way), an architect, a fashion designer, and an impeccably groomed and turned out woman. Lack of sleep, pregnancy and stress of the show never made her look waver – she always had on lipstick, groomed hair and “amazingly glamorous” clothing. While other designers would head to the studio in sweats and tees, Laura would be wearing a beaded cocktail gown and heels.

The Washington Post has a wonderful column called I’m Still Me. It’s geared toward mothers, offering advice on how to survive motherhood and still be hip, stylish, current and a human being, not just a baby-machine. I may not be a mother, but I read this column and have learned much from it. This month Jill Hudson Neal interviewed Laura Bennett. I encourage all of you moms, and women who feel too busy for style to read this article. Ms. Bennett discusses her style “uniform,” making it possible for her to be chic and still be a mother of 6, a wife, and a successful career woman.


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.

Guest Post: How to Care for Sweaters and Knitwear

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

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

Do you wash everything by hand?

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

How should we store sweaters?

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

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

Any other knit wear tips?

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

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

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

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

A note on fine knits.

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

Shop the Post:

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

This Weekend and Monday

This Weekend:
Saturday was an errand day – we pretty much were moving from 8am until 8pm. House cleaned, laundry completed, headed to every store and bank necessary… it was exhausting but really productive and necessary. I ended up crashing around 9pm. I wore a pair of Motherhood Maternity jeans with the Secret Fit Belly that I got on eBay for $6, an olive knit top with a twisted/knot look in front that was donated from a friend, and a black cami underneath.

Sunday was my baby shower. It was scheduled for last weekend but had to be postponed because of my father-in-law. Still there were 30 loved ones who could still come and it was an amazing event. My sister, mom and dear friend Shelly did a beautiful job – fresh flowers in every room, the most delicious food and punches (heard the alcohol one was divine – just know the virgin one was tres yummy with raspberries and blackberries floating in it!). The coolest thing was a baby onesie painting station. They hung a clothesline across the dining room and had blank baby onesies, hats and tee shirts and a bunch of sponges, brushes, paint pens, puffy paint and fabric paint to get creative. Some of the most ADORABLE pieces were creative – I didn’t know I had such crafty friends! :) Here’s a pic of me making one, and the final results!

I feel so blessed to have so many generous and loving friends and family – we feel well prepared for the baby with everything received. And of COURSE she got some fabu outfits! We got many necessary things, fun things, items moms said are “must-haves,” and some homemade and personal pieces. My husband’s cousin made a gorgeous quilt of the prettiest colors and had a patch on it that made mention of my husband’s deceased father as being the baby’s grandfather. So sweet, I just couldn’t keep in the tears at that point.

As for me, I wore the same thing I wore on Wednesday, but did it with a smokey eye. Since those are the only shoes that really fit, I didn’t have much choice! :) BTW thank you all for the Marshall’s suggestion for another pair of those shoes. I went to one Marshall’s and they didn’t have that shoe but they did have a few other pairs by Sofft for around $39.99. None that fit, but I will go to another location this week!

And then today – wearing shoes I should really give up but can’t until I find another black pair with at least a teensy bit of a heel (don’t want to spend to hem all the pants I own).

Old Navy Maternity – Gray jersey top, black ponte trousers
Sudini – Black leather booties
H&M – Silver necklaces
Silver cuff

Next day, dryer and round brush to smooth

L’Oreal – True Match foundation in C3
Nars – Blush in Orgasm
Maybelline – Shadow quad in Mocha Motion
Body Shop – Eye Color in Soft Black
Cover Girl – LashBlast mascara in Rich Black
Bare Escentuals – Buxom Lip Gloss in Dolly

Weekend and Monday

The Weekend
Friday was exhausting – work was busy, so many personal things to attend to… got home and had to deal with Verizon AND activate the husband’s new Blackberry (I own the account) with a tech who had no clue what she was doing. Had a seat on the couch and next thing I knew it was midnight and I hadn’t eaten dinner or anything.

Saturday started with yoga at home, then ran a few errands, and then we shot a wedding. It was an outdoor event – ceremony and reception so I wore a steel gray jersey dress from Old Navy (will see again soon), silver jewelery and my nude heeled sandals from Callisto. Hair was wash and go with two clips due to the humidity; makeup was thin line of liquid liner, mascara and Clinique’s Black Honey so I could sweat and run around and still look semi-polished.

Sunday was also pretty busy. Started with breakfast out with family, then my husband had a photo shoot at a farmer’s market. Did shopping there and then at the grocery. Headed home to clean and cook up some dishes for dinner that evening.

We then headed to Wolf Trap in Virginia for a concert – Black Crowes and Grace Potter & The Nocturnals.

We had a picnic dinner at Wolf Trap – my sister made chicken and corn bread, I made a Greek pasta salad and brownies, our friends made a couscous and veggie dish and cake, we had plenty of wine (and sparkling lemonade and water for me).

The concert was great – Grace Potter’s set was too short to savor but the Black Crowes were phenomenal and Chris Robinson’s voice was amazing. Grace Potter was signing autographs for over two hours after her set – we got to meet her (and take a pic with her where we both look like major goofballs). She loved my necklace and we chatted about good places to get jewelery and told me my husband was hot. :)

For the first half of Sunday I wore my black Bermudas from Old Navy Maternity (previously said they were Gap – incorrect), a black crew maternity tee from Gap, my Liberty scarf and black flops and an updo. Second half of the day, I wore my red dress from New York and Company with silver jewelry and black flops and air-dried hair.

As I was switching a load of towels my husband tossed in the washer to the dryer, I saw a purple print cotton garment… the Kohl’s top I was thinking of returning with the tag (now wet and shredded) still attached! I guess it got stuck in with the laundry… well I tossed it in the dryer and it came out pretty well – softer fabric and no grody smell. Guess I am keeping it! :(

Oh Baby for Motherhood/Kohl’s – Cotton babydoll top
Gap Maternity – Bootcut jeans
Callisto – Nude heeled sandals
J. Crew – Gold Necklace
Twisted Silver – Gold Bracelet
Ann Taylor – Gold Hoops

Air Dry
Pulled back with two barrettes.

Philosophy – The Supernatural Color Correctors in Light
Cargo – Matte BeachBlush in Tenerife
Maybelline – Shine Seduction in Blushed Bass, brow powder in Dark Brown
Body Shop – Eye Shimmers in Warmth
Imju Fiberwig

I didn’t get to bed until 1:30am and woke at 5:30 to get my morning routine finished… however it didn’t go quite as planned and I was running a little late. Jiffy hair and makeup… but I guess it’s good because I am getting my hair cut tonight so it will be properly cleaned and styled then!

Trying Le Tote: My Experience with the Clothing and Accessory Rental Company

You all know my love for Gwynnie Bee, but many of you have asked if there is a similar program for those who are smaller than a size 10. Le Tote is also a clothing rental company, but with a different concept.

A review of Le Tote by Wardrobe Oxygen. Opinion as a size 14 and discussion on whether the clothing is a good fit for women over 35.Le Tote helps you curate a box of not just clothing but accessories. For a $49 monthly fee, you receive a box with three garments and two accessories. You can keep items as long as you wish, and anything you love you can keep forever and Le Tote will charge your card. Send items back, and get news ones – you have unlimited Totes for your subscription fee. If you love and choose to keep everything in your shipment you get a free month of Le Tote. Le Tote wants you to love what you receive; you fill out a style profile upon joining, you can customized your delivery and know exactly what you will receive, and Le Tote has stylists on staff to help choose the perfect items for you and your personal style.  Not only that, when you go to the page for a certain item, you can see photos from other Le Tote members wearing the piece, helping you decide if it’s a good choice for your figure.

I received the opportunity to try out Le Tote free for one month. When you join, you will fill out a survey about your size and style and from that certain items will be suggested. However, you can look at all items available and add anything you desire to your virtual closet. Unlike Gwynnie Bee, you can choose exactly what items will arrive in your next shipment – this is great if you’re planning around an event or travel. Like Gwynnie Bee, shipping is free and return packaging and shipping label is included. While it’s called Le Tote, my items arrived in a sturdy Le Tote branded box, wrapped in tissue. Le Tote is big on communication – you’ll receive emails and texts when your next tote is ready to customize, when it ships, and more. You have the ability to control what kind of communication you receive.

le tote review

A few of the Fall 2015 New Arrivals at Le Tote

Le Tote features popular department store brands like Vince Camuto, Max Studio, French Connection, and BCBGeneration and some lesser-known brands that I have seen at TJ Maxx and Marshall’s. While Le Tote offers clothing up to an XL or 16, pickings get slim when you go larger than an L or 10. While the majority of the vibe of Le Tote is relaxed simple fashion, they do offer a few cute dresses or jumpsuits for a night out, and lots of separates that would be office appropriate.

I tried out LeTote at the end of August and had a very hard time finding anything I wanted in my first collection. The accessories weren’t my style – very delicate, simple, a bit too trendy, and as a 40 year old professional, a bit too young and cheap looking for my taste. The clothing felt very… basic. One thing I love about Gwynnie Bee is that it often forces me out of my comfort zone and introduces me to new brands, silhouettes, and prints. Le Tote is simple clothing, which could be amazing for one who doesn’t like or have the time for shopping or really isn’t into fashion but felt too simplistic for me. I ended up going with a black and white striped knit tee shirt inspired dress, a spaghetti-strap midi dress, a blazer, a delicate necklace with a pave circle, and a pair of ear jackets.

Everything fit like Juniors. The black and white dress was a nice heavy weight and well constructed, but so short it hardly covered my bum. The midi dress was a gorgeous teal color and one of those convertible pieces that has a smocked bodice that can be worn with the adjustable straps, styled strapless, or slid down and turned into a maxi skirt. It was fine, but it really felt like something I’d see on the rack at TJ Maxx for $19.99 in 50 different colors. The jacket was very tight in the arms and shoulder, unlined, and just looked and felt cheap. The same with the accessories; the necklace was pretty but looked like it was from Claire’s Boutique and the earrings were a weird overly yellow shiny gold that just looked too cheap for me. The only piece I wore was the teal midi dress, and it was because I was going to be outside volunteering at a fair and knew it would be hot out. It was perfect for such a situation, but not awesome enough to keep or even wear a second time.

I hate to dismiss Le Tote because it truly could be a great option for some. If you are a size 10 or smaller, if you’re not terribly tall or petite, if you’re under 35 and you’re looking for a reasonably priced way to add a bit of variety to your wardrobe without looking too trendy or outlandish, Le Tote could be a great option. The price is also pretty great – it’s easy to spend this much on a sweater or casual dress that only gets worn a handful of times; with Le Tote you get three garments for the price of less than one plus two accessories to complete the look.  And like Netflix, send back and get another one right away.  Le Tote could prove to be a great way to shop and build a wardrobe as the company will adjust recommendations based upon your reviews and what you choose to keep. Just don’t expect to find any garments that will stop people in their tracks, transform your personal style, or find a ton appropriate for weddings and more formal social occasions. Their fall collection looks more promising and stylish than their summer selections, if you did want to try such a service this looks to be a good season to do so.

If you’re interested in trying out Le Tote, use code LTWO20 and receive 20% off your first month’s subscription.  Code expires October 31, 2015.

Have you used Le Tote? What are your thoughts on the clothing and accessories rental service?  Do you think it’s worth it for me to try it again?

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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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

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