Search Results for: label/music

Recap: Virgin Mobile FreeFest

Each year I clear my calendar for when Virgin Mobile FreeFest tickets are available. It’s a mad scramble using my SmartPhone, multiple browsers, and Facebook but I usually score at least a pair. And each year, something comes up where I end up not going. This year I didn’t score tickets… but I actually attended!

I kept trying to win tickets, entering contests weekly. It seemed all my friends were going and it would be great to go with them. The thing was we didn’t have babysitting available for the whole day and through the night. So when my sister asked if I wanted to be her date with her extra ticket, Karl said I should go and he’d stay home with Emerson. As it drew closer to FreeFest day, more friends were bailing due to work schedules, family emergencies, and other conflicts. It ended up being me, my sister, and our friend Tiffany who went together.

What I Wore: I wanted to be comfortable for 10 hours straight so I worried more about comfort than style.  I wore my blue-gray Old Navy Vintage V-neck, Karen Kane jeggings, my black DUO riding boots, and in my bag was a cotton plain shirt from Lands’ End Canvas.  When it got super windy I put a bandanna (vintage Vision Street Wear) on my head.  Aviators, silver jewelry, and last minute switched from my crossbody to my festival backpack (smart decision).

My sister wanted to arrive in time to see Allen Stone. While I had heard his name, I couldn’t place him and didn’t care one way or another whether I saw his show. We had a late start but arrived before his set, and was able to get a place down center in the Pavilion for it. And I am so glad we did. Allen Stone looks like a grown up Napoleon Dynamite with his oversized glasses, toothy smile and long blonde curls, but he sounds like a young Chris Robinson (from the Black Crowes). While he did two covers (a great rendition of Tell Me Something Good and a bluesy yet hokey version of Bob Marley’s Is This Love), what really stood out were his original songs. Great voice, great songs, great energy… Allen Stone has a new fan!

Who I Saw: I bumped into Tammy from A Loyal Love, Emily from Capital Style, and we met Jason Holt (the drummer for Allen Stone)

After Allen Stone, we headed for the Festival Stage which was in a field back behind the ordinary Merriweather Post Pavilion grounds and caught the majority of the Portugal. The Man set. I know I have Portugal. The Man on my iPod, but I haven’t really listened to them in a while and was pretty impressed by their set. Enough that I added more of their tunes to one of my Spotify playlists. I got pretty close during their set and after they finished I was right on the rail and planned on staying for The Dismemberment Plan, but my friends were hungry so we went to grab lunch.

Who is that short person behind the guy in the furry red hat?  Oh yeah, that’s me in the audience at Nervo!

It was around 4pm and I really wanted to see Santigold so we headed back to the Festival Stage. We ended up passing through the Dance Forest and Nervo was on stage. There was a perfect path from the grass right into the crowd and without any wiggling I ended up almost on the rail. The show was super fun, though the crowd was young enough to be my children. We didn’t care, we danced and jumped and had a blast. However, I decided to leave so I could get a decent spot for Santigold.

This is where I made a major festie mistake – I left without my friends and without a way of contacting them. In just three hours, I had completely drained my phone battery just trying to get reception. I guess this was also a major festie mistake by Virgin – their festival WiFi was practically nonexistent. I was able to get it once at 1:30 or so, and never again. There was no reception for my AT&T phone, and same for those I met who were on Verizon, Sprint, and T Mobile. Maybe it was a calculated plan by Virgin to get people switch to them as their provider? Anyway, with a dead phone in my back pocket, I hoofed it back to the Festival Stage.

Being alone and a woman over 35 has its advantages at a festival. No one messes with you because you could be their mom and you must be cool to be at a festival, and if solo it’s easier to wiggle into a crowd without pissing anyone off. At Santigold I had tall boys regularly see me behind them, and offer me the space in front of them to see better. Within minutes I was only about 10’ from the rail on the left side of the stage. I hadn’t see Santigold live before and have loved her for a while. She didn’t disappoint and she still has a big fan in me.

The fabulous Alabama Shakes

After Santigold, I decided to head back towards the pavilion since I figured at least my sister would want to see Alabama Shakes and they were already playing. I wandered a bit and decided the best chance to see someone I knew would be to stand at the bottom of the lawn, center, right along the sidewalk. I saw fellow blogger Tammy from A Loyal Love; she let me borrow her phone to text my sister my location, but she didn’t get it or didn’t see me. I decided them to enjoy the show and a bit of people watching. Alabama Shakes rocked it, but I didn’t expect otherwise. I saw them at Rams Head Baltimore a few months prior and I recommend seeing them to anyone – truly awesome.

After Alabama Shakes, I decided to stop looking for my friends and just have fun riding solo. We all were adults and knew where the car was, we had all attended many shows and festivals in the past so I knew each of us would likely see the solo experience (I later learned that Debbie and Tiffany got separated soon after losing me) as a blessing and adventure. I headed back to the Festival Stage to catch part of Nas’ set… but soon left. While Nas sounded great, the crowd totally sucked. A lot of jerks, a lot of drunk kids, a lot of aggression. I decided to just wander. I got a beer, moseyed through the lawn, soaked up the atmosphere. I walked past the pavilion where ZZ Top was ready to perform and thought… there’s no other show I REALLY have to see so maybe I’ll check out the situation to get in the pit for Jack White.

I ended up in line along the right side of the pavilion for Jack White with some hardcore fans and ended up catching ZZ Top’s set. I wouldn’t have normally stayed for ZZ Top but was glad I saw it. Those guys are PROS. Their set was tight, they understood their crowd and played the right songs at the right time. They sounded amazing, and I knew my father in law would have been pleased that I saw the performance. I also met some nice people in line and had the opportunity to use my age to my advantage.

While standing in line, some guys started walking right past us, wiggling between our line and the seats. I asked them where they were going. “Getting in line to see Jack White.” I told them we had been waiting for the past hour and the line ended back behind me. They said, “Whatever lady” and tried to push past me. Maybe it was the beer, but I stood my ground and said, “Do you know who I am?” They looked at me, and the lead guy looked a bit scared and said, “Oh, sorry, I didn’t realize” and walked away. Thank goodness they didn’t ask who I actually was! But seriously, if you think you’re too old for such events, stop and think how badass you look having confidence and walking through all those teenagers. You’re not old, you’re what they wish they could be in 15-30 years. Wear that with honor!

Jack White did every song I could desire – songs from White Stripes, Raconteurs, the Dead Weather, and his solo album!

So finally they started letting us in to the pit. There were already a bunch of people in the pit (VIP? Fan club?) so we tried to find the best places possible. I ended up being right in center, again about 10’ from the rail. Unfortunately though I was close, I had about eight men over 6’ tall in front of me. I had a woman to my left who was about 5’ tall and a woman slightly in front of me to the right who was about my height. We all craned our necks from left to right and if the wind was just so we could see Jack White between shoulders. The pit was pretty packed – there wasn’t any dancing and I couldn’t even raise both hands over my head, but the crowd was pretty awesome… for the most part.

We all had our spots and were getting settled. The guys realized us shorties were behind them and didn’t sway too much. Jack White and his all-female white-gowned band were killing it, and this guy in a Hillbilly Casino Tennessee jacket starts pushing through the crowd. The guy next to me was very zen about it – he told his friends to let Hillbilly Casino go, don’t ruin your own good time getting angry over one human. I liked his mindset… but then Hillbilly Casino tried to get past the tallest guy in the crowd (me and a new friend called him Michael Phelps because he had a similar build and face shape) and NotMichael put out his hand and stopped him… in front of me.

I wasn’t super stressed, Hillbilly Casino was shorter than most of the guys in the area so it actually improved my view. However, this guy had some serious negative energy. He was staring to the left, not to the stage the entire time. He was so angry he was literally shaking, clenching his fists. You could feel the anger radiating off him. The more time that went by, the angrier he got and he started bouncing from one foot to the other like a boxer before a match. I ended up tapping him on the shoulder telling him the crowd was too tight, it was too late in the show, just sit put and accept his place. I couldn’t deal with this hostility and nervous energy less than a foot from my face. He just looked at me as though I was insane and kept on with whatever mission he was on.

See those tall people to the right in the crowd? Yeah, that’s where I was!

We found out what his mission was when the set ended and he took a swing at NotMichael Phelps. Immediately, I grabbed Hillbilly Casino to pull him back (yeah, he was right in looking at me earlier as though I was insane) and two guys also grabbed him. We pulled him back and I pushed him in the chest and we all told him to leave immediately. Luckily he left; those who still had cell phones working (seriously folks, 90% of the people I met had no juice left because of the poor reception) lit them up and we found NotMichael’s cap which flew off during the punch and we all settled in happier and more relaxed for the encore. Oh and to have Hillbilly Casino gone, the thrill of helping to kick him out, extra space, happy neighbors AND Seven Nation Army? Perfect ending to a phenomenal set!

I really wasn’t pressed to see anything after Jack White. the lawn was empty except for trash, the place was clearing out. However, Skrillex was still playing so I decided to walk that way. It had gotten very cold so I put on my plaid shirt and buttoned it all the way up. I was walking from the lawn down near the barn and stepped over some of those plastic plates that cover cables. It was damp, I was tired, and in slow motion I slipped and landed on my ass. I looked up and there were three little girls half naked in fur boots and Native American headdresses and face paint. “Are you okay ma’am? Do you need help getting up?” I know they were just being nice but to be tired, be 37, just semi-fight some guy twice my size, and be literally on my feet for nine hours was too much. I said I was fine, got up, brushed off my ass and my pride and headed to the Festival Stage.

I got to the bridge to that part of the grounds and could see the craziness before me. The stage was lit up, kids were dancing everywhere, the Ferris wheel was spinning, and I just didn’t want to get into all of that. I leaned against the chain link fence enjoying the bass and people watching. A couple slammed against the fence behind me, making out as though they hadn’t seen each other for a year. It didn’t bother me, I actually thought it was sweet but a minute later another couple slammed against the fence in front of me. I decided that was life telling me the day was over so I headed back to the car. My sister was already there, my friend Tiffany arrived soon after and us three old, tired, yet happy women headed home.

Would I go back to Virgin Mobile FreeFest? Yes, in a heartbeat. Sir Richard Branson knows how to throw a party. I was impressed with the little details – the phone booths where you could get a call to win anything from a beer to a meet and greet with a festival performer. That the schedule was set that the folks who prefer rock (and likely were older) had their last shows near the main exit and they ended a bit before the dance music. This way we could get out of the parking lot before all the teens on acid and Ecstasy. Fun additions like a circus (I didn’t see but Debbie and Tiffany caught). Plenty of staff, be it Merriweather folks or the 9:30 Club staff. It was very well organized and a pretty fabulous lineup for a free festival. I also liked it being post-festival season and not when it’s a kazillion degrees. Yes, the crowd is primarily under the age of 25 and I think the majority of those folks were there for the drugs and hook-ups and not music, it was still a lot of fun and look forward to next year’s fest!

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

Holiday Gift Guide for the Music Fan

Some people are easy to shop for at the holidays, and some… notsomuch. I had a couple of you contact me asking for gift suggestions so I’ve decided to do some mini gift guides for different types of hard-to-please folk, all items under $100 with free shipping. Today it’s for the music lover in your life.

gift guide music lover fan

1. No matter the recipient’s genre of preference, she likely has respect for the originators. Swissted is a book that takes rock posters from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s and recreates them through a Swiss modernist edge, creating a collection of farmable prints (or keep intact as an awesome coffee table book) that’s sure to impress. From the Sex Pistols to Sonic Youth, Green Day to Guided by Voices; there’s band art in here that’s sure to please. $30.40

2. I have a portable turntable and I can’t recommend it enough. This briefcase style lightweight turntable from Crosley comes in five fun colors, a cool retro style, and would be appreciated by teens and adults alike. $80.00

3. What do you get the music lover who has everything? The unexpected something that shows you know and respect his passion. These polyresin headphone-shaped bookends would look pretty sweet supporting his music books, or even a stack of vinyl. $70.00

4. Nothing better than a high quality Bluetooth speaker to play your music wherever and whenever. I have headphones from SOL Republic and find them high quality; this little speaker from the brand packs a punch and fits in the palm of your hand. Available in seven bold colors, water and shock resistant, and with an 8-hour battery life, this is a perfect gift for most anyone on your list. $69.99

5. I adore this little iPhone megaphone, it’s the perfect stocking stuffer. Great for the business traveler, this silicone amplifier increases your phone’s audio by 13 dB without the need for cords or batteries and it gets great reviews. $5.28

6. A music fan won’t want to sacrifice her fancy headphones for fashion or function. She won’t have to with these EarMuffies, which slip over her favorite headphones. $15.00

2013 Music in Review

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

Favorite Music-related Stuff of 2013:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Guest Post: Music for a Neverending Winter

By This Is Our Jam

As it becomes later in March, we’re just SO over winter at this point — and we can only imagine that as a victim of black ice, Allie agrees with us! Doesn’t the universe know that it just needs to warm up and stay spring-like — and that a St. Patrick’s Day snow storm is just not okay?

In honor of Allie’s broken wrist, we’ve come up with a playlist to say “screw you!” to winter. Take a listen, and join us in our anti-snow dances. We’ll even take some of the DC area pollen in exchange for permanently warmer weather. And you know that’s desperation.


This Is Our Jam is the (mostly) musical brainchild of three friends who, once upon a time, changed their GChat statuses a lot. Krista, Kristen, and Stacey love to share music, YouTube gems, and other assorted thoughts with the world. Whether new music we’ve just discovered at a DC concert or old throwbacks from childhood, we have a lot of jams that we think the world should hear. We don’t define ourselves as a critical music blog (we leave all the detailed critiques and musical theory to musicality experts), but rather we aim to be an entertaining source for both finding new music and re-discovering songs and artists that may have gotten buried in your iTunes library.  Follow This Is Our Jam for tunes, assorted thoughts, and so much more online, on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Legit Music Festival Fashion Advice

Oh April, the time of year where every fashion blog and website claims to be an expert on what to wear and take to a music festival yet fails miserably. As soon as I see a romper or designer picnic blanket recommended I know that author has never attended a music festival, nor likely an outdoor concert.

Now I don’t claim to be some sort of expert and hey, you may be double-jointed and find wearing a romper and peeing in a steaming hot porta-potty easy, but here’s my tips for attending a music festival:

1. Read the FAQ. Before you start packing, see what you’re allowed to pack and what the festival organizers suggest. Many do not allow umbrellas, even the small travel type. Quite a few do not allow detachable lens cameras, glo-sticks, or chairs of any height . The festival planners will be able to let you know if there’s access to drinking water, shade, lockers, charging stations, and more.

2. Expect a lot of Sun. Even if the festival is in a grove of trees, expect to be doused with a ton of sun. Bring a floppy hat, large sunglasses, a bandanna you can dip in water to cool off or tie around your neck to protect it, wear sunscreen and bring more. I like the spray sunscreen because it doesn’t have to be rubbed in and you can spray as you walk to the next stage performance. The higher the better – I can wear SPF 50 for an entire festie weekend and still go home with a tan. Seriously, nothing ruins a festival experience faster than a raging sunburn.

The sun not only can exhaust you, but it can also quickly exhaust your electronics. Keep your phone out of the sun and bring a charger for a long hot festie day will sap your battery. Don’t expect to find an outlet; plan ahead with a pre-charged battery backup or bring a solar charger. Do note that many festivals have poor cell reception, so have a Plan B if your original idea for organizing with friends involve texts.

3. Prepare to Walk. You can easily walk a half mile from your campsite to see a performance, and walk five miles in just a couple hours around the festival grounds. Not only that, the ground will be bumpy, can have sharp grass or rocks, very well will be muddy or dusty. Wear shoes that are comfortable for long spans of time. I wear old boots with new insoles, but a pair of desert boots, sneakers with arch support, athletic sandals or a canvas slip-on with a good insole will also do well. Bring a second pair of shoes in case your first pair gets wet or ruined, and bring socks (you may find them dorky looking but may be glad to have them Day 2 after Day 1 gave you blisters or sunburn).

4. Pack to Dance. And to walk, and drink beer or water, to chat, to eat an arepa while racing across the grounds to catch up with your friends, to use a porta potty. Use a bag that can handle all that without cramping your style. Fanny packs are back and great for day fests or places that don’t need a lot of equipment to be comfortable for long spans of time. For longer festivals far from camp, consider a small backpack or a crossbody that doesn’t dig into your shoulders when completely full.

5. Leave Designer at Home. A stranger may accidently step on your Karen Walker sunnies and your Design Within Reach throw blanket may get lost in a muddy mosh pit. A festival is a place where people dance and mosh and run and do it all while on little sleep and often lots of alcohol or drugs. Protect your much-loved items and leave them home; a festival is a perfect place for a chic DIY tie-dye bedsheet and truck stop sunglasses.

6. Stay Hydrated. Bring a water container – be it a Camelbak backpack with bladder or a reusable bottle, make sure whatever you have can hold at LEAST 22 ounces and you refill it often. Dehydration can happen quickly when you’re in the sun, heat, drinking, and dancing. Protect yourself, and keep the fun times going with regular water replenishment.

7. Prepare for Porta Potties. No rompers, no overalls, no jumpsuits unless you don’t mind stripping naked in a hot overflowing porta potty with a broken lock. Sundresses are awesome; slip a pair of bike shorts underneath to prevent chafing and to provide modesty when sitting on the ground. I like looser beat up denim shorts that look better with the dirt of the day and don’t stick to sweaty skin.

Along with that, tuck some toilet paper and maybe some Clorox wipes in your bag so if you encounter a grody or unstocked porta potty, you’re set.  I put a little of each in Ziploc baggies; if my friend is holding my bag while I go in, I just grab a bit of each and tuck in my bra strap so my hands are free.

8. Have fun! The fashion mags and sites will lead you to believe that a visit to Coachella or Bonnaroo is the sartorial moment of the year. Yes, some may treat it as such, but the rest of us dress to enjoy the real purpose of the festival – the music. Go ahead and wear fun jewelry or a boho-inspired tunic or a cut up band tee shirt, but dress in a way that doesn’t require you to check your reflection every hour, lets you run and dance and lie in the grass and sit in the dirt. I promise you, the majority of the people at the festival won’t care what you’re wearing, they’ll care more about how you’re feeling and enjoying the event!

For more about music festivals, feel free to visit my previous posts:

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Ask Allie: Music Festival Fashion with Boots

I can’t imagine wearing boots to a music festival! I saw your post on Inforoo saying you wear them but it seems so hot I plan to wear some TOMS what’s the benefit of boots?

I know you’ve been to music festivals before, what do you recommend for shoes?

I’ve been to Bonnaroo several times, attended the Virgin FreeFest and Forecastle and have worn a variety of shoes. Sandals, flip flops, Chucks, even Crocs (I know, I know!). However for the past couple of years my go-to shoes for music festivals are boots. Yes, even in the dreadful heat of summer in Tennessee, I wear boots.

Why Boots Rock for Music Festivals:

  • They are Sun Protection. You can’t imagine how many people get the tops of their feet burned at fests. It’s the part you forget, the part that gets dirty and the sunscreen rubs off, the part (other than the top of your head) that gets the most sun as you walk from stage to stage.
  • They are Injury Prevention. I know someone who had the scary spiky grass of Bonnaroo pierce her flip flop and spike the bottom of her foot. I’ve had many a person step on my feet as they are wiggling to get closer to a stage, and my sister hobbled through one Bonnaroo because an unfolded E-Z Up tent fell on her foot. Mosh pits, hot cups of coffee, setting up camp accidents… boots keep your feet protected so you can enjoy the festival.
  • They are Cooler Than You Think. I wear a pair of DUO Boots I bought eons ago, they’re calf-height, very low heel, leather but have a shearling lining. They keep my legs warm in winter and surprisingly cool in summer. I wear with cotton or wool socks to add cushioning and breathability.
  • They Support Your Feet. TOMS are cute and may be comfy when walking around town, but they don’t have arch support or cushioning that can be quite nice after 12 hours of standing and walking on hard ground, rocky terrain, and concrete. Trust me. A boot can also be made even more comfy with insoles; I buy a new pair of insoles made for work boots prior to each music festival.
  • They Can Take a Beating. I spray my boots with waterproofing spray before I go and don’t even blink when I have to tromp through mud, dust, or worse. Most boots look better with some wear; when I get home I clean them, give them a good polishing, take out the insoles and have them ready for weekends and casual affairs.

Be they a pair of tall boots with a babydoll dress, lace-up granny boots with a peasant skirt, some Docs with denim cutoffs, or Western-inspired booties with a boho-inspired dress, a low-heeled boot can offer comfort, protection, and miles of style at a music festival. Don’t sacrifice your comfort for fashion when there’s alternatives that can give you the best of both worlds!

Do note that the sample ensembles feature some important things for festivals – sunhats with decent sized brims (no fedoras or beanies), large sunglasses, and bags that can be worn while you dance and rock out.  Your accessories are just as important as your shoes to ensure you have a fabulous time this summer at the music festival/s of your choice.

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Ask Allie – What to Wear to a Music Festival?

Hi Allie, I know you recently went to the Bonnaroo Music Festival in the US. I am going to the Oxegen Festival. I was wondering what you suggest I wear to it?

Dear Allie,
Are you going to Bonnaroo again this year? I am going too! What do you suggest I pack?
Dear Allie:
My boyfriend got us tickets to Outside Lands (it’s a fest in CA). What sort of clothes should I wear to such an event? I haven’t been to a fest of this size before. Thank you so much!
Image courtesy of the NY Daily News

Ah, the music festival. A life-changing event for anyone, no matter how large of a music fan. Music festivals are all-day or multi-day events full of music, art, food, and sights you may never seen before. I have been to a few one-day festivals and have now attended the Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee for three years. Bonnaroo is four days, and I have done general admission, which is camping sans electricity or proper bathrooms (hello porta-potties!)and a lot of walking in extreme heat. As a slightly high-maintenance woman, I feared my first music festival, but found that with the right wardrobe and supplies, anyone can be comfortable AND stylish at such an event.

Surviving the Heat
Most music festivals are during the hottest months of the year. This is great for those in school – no need to skip classes to see your favorite artist. However it’s pretty tough to spend 12+ hours in high heat for multiple days. It is important to dress and pack correctly so that you protect your skin, your energy, and your health during a festival.

I highly recommend wearing 100% cotton (not jersey) dresses. Pure cotton will float away from your body with the slightest breeze and will dry quickly when wet from sweat or a Super Soaker. In the summer, it’s not hard to find adorable cotton sundresses at most any retailer. For this year’s Bonnaroo I scored several sundresses for under $20 each at Ross, and also saw plenty of dresses that would be perfect at Old Navy and Target. Don’t take your designer duds – no matter what you do, clothes can get dirty. Not only is there the potential for mud (even if it’s dry, there can and will be mud), there will be messy carnival food, large crowds of people bumping into you and possibly spilling their food/drink, and folks trying to get into the spirit with water guns, glitter, glo-sticks and other various things that can be tossed into a crowd. If you do find a great score at a discount place, be sure to secure the straps. A friend and I both had a strap break on a sundress while at the festival this year (and be at the ready with a mini sewing kit and some safety pins just in case of any wardrobe emergency).

No matter your size, many women experience that which we lovingly call, “chub rub”. Many women have curvy thighs, and when walking long distances and sweating, you can get a rash on the inside of your legs. I have found the best thing to combat this is a pair of bike shorts under my sundress. In 2007, I bought two pairs of moisture-wicking black bike shorts from Kmart for $9.99 each and have used them ever since. They do a great job of preventing chafing, and also offer modesty so I can easily sit cross-legged on the ground during a show. I know many women who prefer using BodyGlide (or use it along with the shorts). BodyGlide can be applied like a stick deodorant and will help prevent chafing, even if you sweat.

When there is heat, there usually is sun. A music festival is not the place to work on your tan. You won’t realize how much sun you have gotten until you end up with a nasty burn that evening. I have found that even when I wear SPF 30 sunscreen, I will come home from a festival with plenty of color. This year I used SPF 30 on my body and 55 on my face, and carried both with me all day for easy reapplication. Aerosol sunscreen is a great choice for such an event because you can reach your back, you don’t have to run it in with grubby hands, and that type of container is less likely to leak in your bag. I also take a stick or tube of higher SPF sunscreen with me to the shows to apply to the face and any sun-sensitive places (shoulders, back of neck, tops of feet) on a regular basis. It’s also wise to get a lipbalm with SPF – your lips will get dry from the heat, and they are quite susceptible to sunburn.

Image courtesy of the Nashville Beauty Blog – the Blogger at Bonnaroo 2009

With so many cute hats in fashion right now, it’s silly to not wear one to a music festival. A basic straw cowboy hat is always stylish at such an event, and will do a good job of keeping your neck and nose protected. Fedoras and porkpie hats are trendy now – they aren’t really good at protecting you from the sun, but will offer protection to your scalp. The best choice is a floppy hat with a large brim – I have a crushable straw one that I have had for over a decade. I can roll it up and stick it in my bag when I am indoors or it gets dark, and easily pull it out for when it’s sunny. I have found great sun hats at Title 9, Athleta, Lands End and Macy’s. I also recommend checking out Etsy – you can find some really unique and cute sunhats there – check out these adorable numbers from Bonniesknitting!

Another great item to pack for sun protection is a bandana (or two!). A bandanna can be tied around your neck to protect it from the sun, it can be tied over your head like a kerchief to protect the scalp and tip-top of your forehead, and it can be dunked in cold water and used to cool you off in a jiffy. I tie a bandanna to the zipper of my bag to have at the ready – it’s also great to mop sweat off your brow. If you don’t like the look of bandannas, any cotton scarf will do. This year I took a candy-colored cotton voile scarf from Lands End’s Canvas line and it worked just as well (and laundered just as well) as a classic bandanna.

You MUST stay hydrated! Don’t expect a water bottle or two from a vendor to suffice. It’s easy to get dehydrated and not even notice. Next thing you are feeling dizzy or worse. Even though they are not chic, I carry a backpack that has a hydration pack inside it. I have one from Kelty that I bought several years ago – it is very small and fits right between my shoulder blades, but has room to hold 50 ounces of water along with my essentials. If you can’t imagine carrying a Camelbak-type bag, I recommend having a large aluminum or Nalgene-type bottle that you can hook to your bag and can be filled quite often from water stations. If you have to carry your bottle in your hand the entire time, it very well may be discarded for being a nuisance. I don’t want to be all TMI, but if you haven’t had to hit a porta-potty in a bit, it’s a good chance that you aren’t drinking enough. And know for every alcoholic beverage you consume, that much more water you need to consume to stay properly hydrated.

Be smart – find shade between shows, be it under a tree, from the shadow of a tent, or even if you decide to head back to your tent or hotel for a quick break. You really need to pace yourself – prioritize the performances you wish to see, so if you’re feeling a bit woozy, tired, or overheated you can take a break. Beer gardens, movie tents and vendor tents are great places to duck in and get some shade. In 2007 I almost passed out from the heat, and this year a person I knew died from the heat at a music festival. I would hate this to happen to any of you, so please stay cool, stay hydrated, and pace yourself.

Surviving the Lack of Plumbing
Porta-Potties
Be you attending a one-day fest or a multi-day camping adventure, you will likely be dealing with porta-potties. No one enjoys them, but they are a fact of life. Here’s a few things that can make your bathroom experience quick and less painful:

  • Don’t expect each porta-potty to have toilet paper. Bring your own. I see many people who enter porta-potties with a whole roll of T.P. I personally don’t like that option because then there is something you need to hold while in there. I will fill a sandwich baggie with pre-torn piles of toilet paper. Then before I enter a porta-potty I will tuck the little pile of TP into my bra strap or pocket. Nothing to have to hold, and I am prepared in case the porta-potty isn’t well equipped.
  • Not only will portable toilets be sans toilet paper, they will also be disgusting. I carry a second sandwich baggie with Clorox wipes. I take one in with me (tucked in the other bra strap or pocket) and wipe down the seat before attempting to do anything in there. I am a petite woman, and there is no way I can properly hover over a porta-potty and not make a mess. It is far easier to clean the seat than try to not touch it. Also, it is a “pay it forward” sort of act for the woman in line after you who may not have thought to bring sanitizing wipes!
  • If you can, head to the porta-potties with a friend. Then she can hold both of your bags while you are in there, and then you can reciprocate the favor. If you don’t have this option, it’s great to have a cross-body bag or backpack that you can put on the front of your person and keep from touching any surfaces.
  • Bring hand sanitizer! I prefer sanitizing wipes to the liquid in this case, so I can use it to scrub off stuff instead of rubbing it in. I wait until I am out and out of way of the line before attempting to use this. Some porta-potties come with sanitizer, but you can’t rely on that.
  • If you will be at a multi-day event, I recommend a third sandwich baggie with personal cleansing wipes in it. In case your carnival food doesn’t sit well with you, or just if you want to do a wipe down to feel refreshed and less sweaty. Be sure to mark the bags so you know which baggie is Clorox and which is Cottonelle!
  • If you are going to be at a festival at night, it’s a good idea to clip a headlamp or LED light to your bag so you can see what you are doing. Some porta-potties are perfectly set up near outdoor lighting, but many times, especially in camp sites, they will be located in a dark corner of the grounds. My husband picked up a cheap LED head lamp for me (small light on an elastic band) from some Big Box retailer – I never stick it on my head, but I have slung it around my neck when walking in dark locations, have held it in my hand to light my path, and have switched it to the red light and attached to my backpack so my friends can find and follow me in a crowd.

Porta-potties are another reason why dresses are a great option for attire. To have to wiggle off sweaty jeans or shorts in a rush can be awkward, difficult, and can give you more opportunity to accidently bump into a surface in there. Also jeans and pants can drag on the floor. Every woman I know agrees that dresses and skirts are FAR more porta-potty friendly, especially in the heat!

Bathing
If you are staying in general camping, running water may not exist, or if in the case of the Bonnaroo Music Festival, it may be ice-cold well water running from spigots in a metal trailer. It’s pretty much a given that you won’t be spic n’ span at a fest, but you can still be comfortable and relatively stink-free.

If you have running water (troughs, spigots, etc.):

  • My sister thought of the brilliant idea of bringing a child’s play bucket – the type one uses at the beach. In it, put your soap, shampoo, washcloth, etc. Then you can place it on the floor or hang it off a hook or fence and have all your necessities at arm’s reach and not getting gross. Sometimes the floors at these water stations can have several inches of water, so your regular shower caddy with open sides won’t always be a good bet.
  • You can’t get fully naked (unless you are very daring), so I have found it best to wear a bikini or a bra-tank or bikini top with a skirt or pareo when you go bathing. Be sure to wear shoes with good grip because it can get slick and muddy at the water stations.
  • Though I am a stickler for high-quality shampoo and conditioner for my highlighted hair, at a fest I go with a travel-sized bottle of 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner. It’s easier.
  • For cleaning the body, I take a bar of Ivory soap. I can then use it to clean my whole body and even clean clothes if need be. My husband prefers a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s soap because he will even use it as his shampoo. Either way you look at it, a multi-tasking product makes the most sense. I find a washcloth to be easier than a shower poof or just my hands – easier to scrub grubby feet and to get sticky sunscreen off shoulders.
  • I also pack one of those small, lightweight microfiber hair towels. It’s usually too hot to bother with drying my body, and these towels dry fast, will sop up moisture from your hair without having to rub, and can make a really great turban or tuck into your bag or bucket when finished.
  • If you know the water station will have spigots with threads on them (like a spigot off your house), it’s a great idea to take an old hose, cut a couple feet off the female end and take it to have a DIY shower. One can often find old hoses for offer on Freecycle. Home improvement stores also carry short hoses specifically for washing machines that have finished ends – this is a nice alternative and also means you can attach a nozzle to control water flow.

If you have shower stations (shower trailers, pay showers):

  • Don’t expect the luxury of even the cheapest motel – these showers are small and cheap. At Bonnaroo they have pay showers sponsored by Garnier Fructis. For $7 you get a teeny plastic stall (think RV bathroom – we’re talking a space not wider than your shoulders) and a very thin shower curtain that has been torn and trashed by previous users. The floor of your shower stall is littered with leftover packets of sample shampoos and balls of hair. These stalls will be lined up along the wall of the trailer, there rarely are mirrors or a changing area.
  • Wear shoes in the shower. Not only can you scrub them clean, but you keep your tootsies safe from fungus and other grodiness.
  • The bucket again can come in handy, it can be placed on the floor, a shelf, even over the shower head if you are tall enough.
  • Bring a bigger towel, and hang it over the shower curtain for some modesty.
  • Wear something that is super easy to get off and back on when you are damp. Again this is where a cotton sundress comes in handy.

Other ways of staying clean:

  • Outdoor stores sell personal cleansing cloths that are thicker and larger in size than ones you can find at Target. However either type is wonderful to wipe down with after a sweaty, sticky day.
  • Outdoor stores also have what’s called solar showers. Pretty much these are bags you can fill with water and hang from a tree, a hook, or even buy a tent created just for a solar shower. Just be sure that it’s not set up in a way that the runoff will spill into a neighbor’s campsite.

Surviving a Day Away from your Home/Hotel/Campsite
The way to have a successful day at a festival is to be fully prepared. Yes you want to look stylish, but there’s no point in looking cute if you have blisters, sunburn, and no camera to take a picture of your fine self.

As previously mentioned, my day bag of choice is a very small backpack with a hydration bladder in it. What I fill it with:

  • My three baggies for the porta potties
  • Two hair elastics
  • A few safety pins of varying size
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sunglasses with case and little cloth to clean them
  • Camera, in a plastic bag (protect from condensation from the hydration bladder, and also if it rains, someone spills a beer on my bag, etc.)
  • Lip balm with SPF
  • Face sunscreen with high SPF
  • Body sunscreen (aerosol) with high sunscreen (or if a friend has a bigger bag and I know I will be with them the whole time, they can carry it)
  • Cell phone with the numbers of every darn person I know at the festival PLUS the number for the nearby tow truck or taxi company (usually comes with your tickets)
  • Booklet/map provided with the festival
  • Cash in small bills (never more than $40 unless I know I will be buying a souvenir)
  • Sharpie (you never know when you may bump into a celebrity and want their autograph!)
  • Business cards (I have ones from VistaPrint which are cheap, have my name, my cell, my email, my Website. Great to trade with new friends you make, and can always make notes on the back with your Sharpie)
  • A snack (Clif bars, granola bars, cheese and crackers packet, baggie of granola – something that will give you long-running energy and will hold up to the heat. Lines may be long at vendors, you may run out of money, you never know and it’s nice to have a snack just in case)
  • Bandanna or cotton scarf, tied to the exterior

I highly recommend you get a bag you don’t mind wearing for long periods of time and you can wear while dancing. Cross-body bags can be great if they are small, but can but a pain if they keep banging into your thigh while rocking out at your favorite show. A regular purse will not be comfortable on your shoulder for long periods of time. Look for a sleek and smaller cross-body bag or a backpack. Fill it with everything before you go to see how it feels on your body and try walking around and dancing. You don’t want to put your bag on the ground for fear of mud and thieves.

What I leave back at camp, locked safely in my car:

  • iPod
  • Wallet
  • Rest of money
  • Chargers for cell and camera
  • Anything else of value

Festivals are a great place to meet very friendly, like-minded people, but they also attract jerks and thieves. Protect yourself by not carrying everything in your bag, having a bag you don’t mind carrying at all times, and putting all your valuables into your car out of sight. If you drove a car there, keep a key to your car safety pinned into your bag or clothes, and leave the rest of the keyring in the car. Also hide a second car key at camp or give it to a friend in case your bag is stolen.

Treat Your Tootsies Well
Finally, one of the most important things for a good long day at a festival is proper footwear. This is not the time to try out your cute new gladiator sandals or to wear your $1 Old Navy flip flops. You want a pair of shoes that will treat your tootsies well for hours upon hours on end of standing on hard ground and asphalt, cushion you over walking on rocky terrain, can handle a sloshed beer or a mudpuddle, and have traction.

When I say traction, I don’t just mean on the bottom of the shoe. This is why flip flops are not the best option. Have you ever tried to run in a pair of soaking wet flip flops? It’s a recipe for disaster and a sprained ankle. I have been to festivals where it has rained; even a 20-minute sunshower can create ridiculous mud which will literally suck flip flops right off your feet.

A great choice are athletic sandals like Tevas, Merrells, or Chacos. These will stay on no matter the conditions and won’t leave you with a blisterful pair of feet. Many people like lightweight canvas shoes like Chuck Taylors or TOMS; I have a special place in my heart for Sanuks – a company with a good heart that makes super comfy “Vans”-like shoes with a sole as cushy as your favorite flops.

 Photo courtesy of The Girl’s Girl

I have worn my brown leather DUO boots (the Bern) to many a concert and festival – they are shearling lined (keeps me cool) and I have added a waterproofing spray to the exterior. They have a low heel, good traction, an additional cushioning insert and let me tromp through most anything feeling secure. I despise despise DESPISE Crocs, but I have to say they are the perfect festival shoe – they cushion your feet, let them breathe so they don’t get sweaty and stinky, will stay on in even the muckiest of mud, and can easily be rinsed off at the end of the day. They also give a bit of protection to the foot if a beer bottle is dropped on you or you have to enter an especially soggy porta-potty or water station.

Whatever your footwear, be sure they are broken in prior to heading to the festival. Nothing will cramp your good time more than painful, chafed, blisted, cramped toes.

So, What Should I Pack?
If you are staying onsite or at a hotel nearby, I recommend two outfits for each day. If it’s hot or rainy, you will want to change into dry clothes. And when I mean a separate change of clothes, I include underwear in this. Pack two pairs of underwear for each day (if your clothes are sweaty, so will be your undergarments), and bring a bra that you can switch into while the other is hanging up to dry.

Picture courtesy of BallerinaGrape

On top of this, I recommend some clothes to keep you warm when the sun goes down. I don’t recommend jeans (see above re: porta potties, also jeans suck to put on when you are achy or sunburned). If you are wearing a dress, pairing it with a pair of full-length leggings or some floaty linen pants is a great idea. I often just change into a maxi dress or a completely different outfit with a long skirt. Also if you bring a hoodie, it’s usually enough and then you can tie it around your waist or on your bag when you warm up from dancing.

Pack more than one pair of shoes. Even if you have broken in your shoes, they can very well give you some pain after wearing them for 12+ hours at a time. It’s healthy to switch your shoes each day anyhow. I also like to pack a simple pair of basic flip flops for when at camp or for the drive there and back.

Bring two pairs of sunglasses – you never know if you may lose a pair and it would suck to go without.

Pack a survival kit. Safety pins, a small sewing kit, extra hair elastics and Bobby pins or clamp barrettes, Shout wipes or a Tide to Go pen, Immodium AD and Pepto Bismol, pain reliever of your choice, something with electrolytes (Propel, Gatorade, I really like u hydration tablets, which aren’t full of all the fake stuff and sugar of many other electrolyte tabs and they taste really great), if you are within a week or so of your period pack some feminine hygiene products just in case, an extra pair of contacts or glasses, first-aid basics (band-aids, something to clean a wound), extra car key, insurance and AAA card, a hidden $50 that you won’t spend at the festival in case you need a jump, tow, taxi, etc.

Pack some clothes that are fun. When the sun goes down, the party gets crazy at music festivals. Bring your face glitter, your neon pink lip gloss, your angel wings or tutu. You may not feel brave enough to don them, but festivals have a way of bringing out the party girl in most any woman!

But I’m not a Dirty Hippie/Hipster/I’m a Music Newbie!

 Photo courtesy of Music Festival Junkies

If you Google photos of people who have attended music festivals, you may think that all of them are young and cool, or else decked out in tie-dye and hemp. Neither is true, festivals are great because they attract every type of person. I have returned to Bonnaroo so many times because it is a festival that offers pretty much every genre of music.

No need to buy a whole new wardrobe of peasant skirts and rope sandals, or fedoras and Ray Bans. I buy sundresses for music festivals because they are comfortable, and they can also be worn again on summer weekend days. When doing your summer shopping, instead of buying clothes just for this event, see if you can find things that will do double-duty. Instead of buying a dry clean only frock, look for one that can be washed in the machine. Instead of polyester, look for cotton. In place of safe black, consider a cheery print.

Keep in mind that a festival is a laid-back environment. No need for a ton of accessories, coordinated pieces, perfectly polished ensembles. Simple is better, you will get sweaty, you will get dusty and you will want to dance. I leave at home my wedding set and the only jewelry I bring is a turquoise necklace my husband brought back from his yoga teacher training in Mexico, and a pair of silver hoops.

If you are the type of woman who can’t leave your home without at least five pieces of makeup, you may want to adjust your routine for this event. Makeup doesn’t hold up too well in 100-degree heat, and you won’t have regular access to a mirror for touch-ups. That doesn’t mean you need a bare face. At Bonnaroo I wear waterproof mascara, bronzing powder dusted on my cheeks, and Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm. I carry Urban Decay’s De-Slick to combat shine. If you have a bad zit, it’s fine to try to touch it up with some concealer and pressed powder, but a fully “done” face will only leave you with a mess and a smear.

And if you are not familiar with most of the artists, well all the better! Some of my favorite bands in 2010 are ones I never heard of three years ago. They became faves because I saw them perform at a music festival. Festivals are great places to learn about new music, and find your personal music style without being biased by corporate radio, TV, or friends. At a festival, every artist will have an audience of raving fans, so there isn’t any bias, you can’t choose wrong. Go ahead and see a performance or two by yourself – you will make instant friends with the other excited people in the audience!

What to leave at home:
Heels, tight miniskirts, tight jeans, hairspray, flat iron, anything that is dry clean only or delicate or can’t handle getting wet, expensive jewelry, designer anything, your favorite purse, anything that won’t be comfortable enough to dance in or sit in on the ground.

Also leave at home any snark, eye-rolling or criticism. Seriously, you will see EVERY type of person at a festival. Many people travel from fest to fest because they are huge fans of music, but also because festivals are a place where they can feel accepted. That woman in the chain mail bikini and Indian headdress may actually be upper management at a stuffy corporation during the week, the “dirty hippie” may be her college’s fashionista come fall semester. Relish in the fact that you are able to go somewhere where you can be totally relaxed, not stressed over hemlines or heel heights. Be comfortable, feel attractive in your own way, and wear the best accessory out there – a big happy smile.

And be sure to come back and share your experiences at your next fest!

Expensive Doesn’t Always Equal Appropriate

I know you readers have my mantra memorized – Quality, not Quantity. Quality can come at any price range, and appropriateness can too. Often times we confuse a high pricetag with formality. Just because a frock is designer (or at a designer price) it does not mean it’s always the best choice for an event.

A couple of years ago I was invited to a black tie wedding at an historical mansion. The bride wore a white veil and train that rivaled Princess Diana’s and the ballroom was filled to the gills with gold Chivari chairs and white roses. This was an event where the classic LBD was verging on too casual, even when paired with the family jewels and elegant heels. The bride only had one attendant, her sister. She gave her permission to pick any dress she desired in any color.

The maid of honor chose to wear a gown by a very hot fashion designer, worn by all the It Girls of Hollywood. The gown was brown and rust-colored silk jersey with a plunging halter neck and back, many straps wrapped around the body and a floor-skimming hem. Gorgeous dress, but far more appropriate for a summer fete in the Hamptons, than a December black tie gala. The dress would have been fab with a few wooden bangles and gold gladiator sandals, but the woman tried to formalize the dress with silk heels and diamonds.

It was expensive, it was gorgeous, it was totally inappropriate for the affair.

My friend works at a very cool ad agency in the city, where many of the women dress for work as though they are going to New York Fashion Week. One is sure to see the latest designer bags, heels and jeans at the water cooler. My friend was in the elevator with one of these well-dressed ladies and complimented her on her new Chloe dress. “Thank you, I wanted to look good for our first meeting with [big government agency who was new client].”

The dress was fabulous, but short, sleeveless and with a low back. Again, great for a Hamptons weekend affair, but not the right look for meeting with a new client who is most likely on the conservative side (I have worked with the government for years and have yet to meet an agency who fully appreciates a dress from Chloe).

I have seen spindly Manolos at beach weddings, strapless silk sundresses at family cookouts at the local park, designer fur vests at general admission all ages concerts, even Balenciaga purses at Bonnaroo – a 4-day music festival on a dusty farm in Tennessee where attendees camp without electricity or proper plumbing.

The point is, when shopping for a specific event, unless it IS New York Fashion Week, price and brand shouldn’t be a factor. Above all else, a look should be appropriate for the location, the audience, the type of affair. Style doesn’t come from a label, so when shopping ignore the trends, ignore the brands, ignore the fact that so-and-so was photographed wearing it to an awards ceremony. Focus on how it fits you, and your life and you will always be in style!

A few tips:
Weddings:
Steer away from bright red or white unless there is a theme specified on the invitation. If the event is after 5pm it is more formal (silk in place of cotton, clutch in place of handbag, crystals and pearls in place of metal and plastic jewelry and absolutely no denim). If the invite states the affair is Black Tie Optional, it doesn’t hurt to contact a member of the couple’s family or bridal party to confirm the level of formality. If all else fails, an elegant black dress of an evening fabric that is knee length or longer, silk heels, a clutch and a sparkly piece of jewelry will always work. For additional tips, visit my post about wedding attire.

Interviews/Client Meetings:
Err on the side of being conservative. For suggestions, visit my post about interview attire.

True Fashionista: Judith

When I think of a True Fashionista, one of the first women who comes to mind is Judith of the blog Style Crone. I have enjoyed her blog and amazing personal style for years and was thrilled when I saw her featured in Ari Seth Cohen’s blog and book Advanced Style. I was so honored that she agreed to be part of this series.

Style Crone, as stated on her About page, is “Dedicated to the older woman, in her most creative, outrageous, authentic, powerful, adventurous, funny, and proud era. Let’s take back the word crone, to its original meaning, signifying a woman of a “certain age’ who embodies all her life’s wisdom, knowledge, experience, and love.” Judith’s personal style is so quirky, colorful, sophisticated, and completely unique. She inspires me to give clothing an atypical new life, to embrace color, and make me crave a fabulous hat collection.

I remember when I found Judith’s blog, it was one of her “What to Wear to Chemo” posts where her husband Nelson took her picture while undergoing chemotherapy. I remember reading it and tearing up at my desk, recalling a decade prior when I was in a similar situation keeping Karl company while he underwent the same. Cheerful, positive, and comfortable for long spans of time is a big expectation for an ensemble, but it was a good way to get my mind off things. I could see Judith doing the same with her outfits.  Sadly, Nelson lost the battle with cancer; Judith chose pictures for this feature that Nelson photographed, as he was supportive and instrumental in the launching of Style Crone.

Though Nelson passed in April of 2011, Judith continued with Style Crone, showcasing her amazing ensembles, where she wore them, and why. She journals her life through her ensembles, showing that clothing isn’t simply something that you wear, but a way to express your feelings, your life, and your personality.  Here’s Judith’s take on the same five questions I ask of each True Fashionista.

How would you describe your personal style?
I’m a lover of hats, vintage clothing and other recycled pieces. I mix it all together according to how I feel, usually starting with a hat. Over the years I have gathered a vintage and hat collection which I draw from and at this point, as I wildly flirt with 70, I find myself shopping my closet and having more fun with style than ever before. I suppose this could be called eclectic, but I don’t really have a label for what I put together. Perhaps quirky?

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
I would say that my passion evolved. I remember enjoying style at an early age, but it escalated during the 70’s around the time that a friend owned a vintage store and I began wearing hats for fun and self entertainment. I also discovered estate sales, vintage stores, thrift shops and consignment stores around that same time. I loved finding pieces that weren’t found in the usual places.

Along with a friend I created a hat shop in the 80’s, but continued working as a psych nurse as the business grew. The experience was radically different than working in health care. Choosing outfits, which always included a hat was a way to express myself creatively and became a form of meditation as I approached my day, which usually included extreme and painful stories told by interesting and traumatized people. I find style to be healing and a form of art and self expression.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
Inspiration is everywhere. The radiantly beautiful diversity of the world’s people, nature, other blogs that I love and the internet in general, personal experiences, movies, books, music, history, museums, travel, food, art. Everything about life and the list is endless! Having a space of time to quiet the mind also expands creativity.

What is the difference between fashion and style?
So many people have defined this difference with eloquence. For me fashion is in the clothes at a certain point in time and includes trends. Style is in the wearer and includes timeless self expression and creativity. Style is a celebration of life and the manifestation of the inner experience projected outward.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
Be open to experimentation, inspiration and the silhouettes that make you feel good about yourself and bring you a sense of confidence. Consider it a journey and have fun with it! Style is a reflection of your inner self and can change over time with life experiences and shifts in perceptions and passions. Stretch and expand and do something that makes you feel just a little bit afraid. Try on a new persona like trying on a new pair of shoes. Changing an outfit is under our control, as opposed to the many things that we have no power to modify or alter. Thrift shops and consignment stores are great places to explore when searching for personal self expression. The financial output is small and it’s environmentally friendly. 

***

The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style.  Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion.  These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you.  Stay tuned, there will be a featured  True Fashionista every Friday for the next few weeks. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments!

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

Today’s History Lesson – Old Navy and Me

SuperGap was the pioneer outlet store – a cheaper version of the famous Gap brand, it sold lower-priced versions of their wardrobe staples and irregular and damaged pieces from the classic Gap stores. Growing up in middle-class America, our first stop for back to school shopping was at the nearby SuperGap, getting “name brand” clothing for a reasonable price. If it weren’t for SuperGap, my 6th grade and on wardrobe would consist of poorly-thought out fashions from Bradlees’ located just a mile down Greenbelt Road.

The nearby strip mall had a SuperGap. As soon as I turned 16, I turned in an employment application there, in hopes to get a job there and a discount on high school must-haves – jeans, hoodies, rugby shirts and ragg socks. I was never called for an interview but my friend Wendy, who had previous experience at Sears did get a job there.

SuperGap eventually changed to Gap Warehouse and carried less factory-store items and more irregulars and returns from the traditional Gap locations in the fancier malls. Hours were spent after school, pouring through rounders and racks for jeans and sweatshirts that fit and didn’t have obvious garment flaws.

A few years later (1993, the same year I graduated from high school), SuperGap shut down, but opened up at the end of the same strip mall, with the new name – Denim Supply Company, a brand name under the new Gap Warehouse subsidiary of Gap. Wendy by now was an Assistant Manager and I was able to get the lowdown on the change. Supposedly Gap was doing an experiment in a select few markets – this lower-end Gap that had their own brand, own label, own line of clothing. Not a Factory Store, a separate entity added to the Gap brand.

From a 1993 article in the New York Times:

In an internal memo, the company said the “Gap Warehouse collection was created specifically to improve the productivity of 48 of our current Gap stores ‘which have been an undervalued asset in our company,’ says Mickey Drexler, president of Gap Inc.”

Analysts said the new merchandising strategy was a good way for Gap to compete with other purveyors of basic merchandise without eroding the image of its Gap brand.

For more than a year, Gap stores have marked down prices of their basic merchandise to compete with the department stores and discounters that have begun selling their own versions of Gap staples: T-shirts and blue jeans.

[The Gap is] confronted with the question of whether they’re doing basics or whether they’re doing fashion,” said Heidi R. Steinberg, a retail analyst at Lehman Brothers. “If they stick with basics at Gap, then they’re competing with Wal-Mart and Target, where you can buy Fruit of the Loom all-cotton T-shirts for half the price they are at the Gap.”

“Gap Warehouse clothing will be priced lower than Gap brand clothes because the company is using manufacturing techniques and fabrics that are less expensive. Athletic Department sweats, for example, are 59 percent polyester and 41 percent cotton, while Gap sweats are 100 percent cotton. T-shirts are double-stitched instead of triple-stitched, and there is less detail over all, analysts said.

The company, based in San Francisco, said the new line was not likely to cannibalize the sales of Gap brand clothing because it would appeal to a different type of customer. Robert F. Buchanan, a retail analyst for Alex. Brown & Sons, said mass merchants like Wal-Mart and Kmart were gaining a bigger share of the market for basic clothes, and their customers were different from those who have shopped at the Gap.

“The Gap already has two types of customers: those who shop its store at full price, and those who are looking for sale items,” he said. “There’s a third customer who hasn’t shopped there, and that’s where a lot of the basics business is going.”

A few years later, it seems this experiment worked for Denim Supply Company/Gap Warehouse as that this location (and all others across the county) shut down and a few months later, right next to the old SuperGap location (which was now an H&R Block) they opened an Old Navy, which exists to this day.

Old Navy fit the feeling of the time – the grunge era, where it was cool to not spend money on clothing; where fashion came from thrift stores and not from higher-priced specialty and department stores.

Named after a bar the Gap CEO visited in Paris; Old Navy Clothing Co. was the new member of the Gap company (though the original name was going to be Elevator, Monorail or Forklift, to evoke the industrial bare-bones concept of the store). Unlike lower-priced peers like Sears and Kmart, Old Navy combined cost-affordable apparel with great ambiance – loud popular music, quirky ad campaigns and colorful store décor within a warehouse-inspired core. Old Navys were put in lower-rent strip malls (like my nearby Greenway Center) instead of higher-cost malls to help keep prices low and target the appropriate customer – the customer who also shops Wal-Mart, Kmart and Toys R Us. They also did it by taking the staples of Father Gap, but recreated them with cheaper materials, stitching and fabrication (a CNN Money article from 1996 quotes an Old Navy customer as noting that denim shirts from Old Navy are only washed once before selling, versus Gap shirts being washed three times. This difference ensured consistent color in Gap shirts, but a far lower cost to create the Old Navy version).

Years later, we forget when Gap Warehouse ended and Old Navy began. Old Navy, like Target and Starbucks has become a standard in the culture, language and lifestyle of Americans. What was a random experiment by The Gap in attempt to revive slumping sales has become a necessity in the wardrobe of all income levels and ages of our society. I mean, who these days doesn’t own at least a tee shirt or pair of lounge pants from Old Navy?

In honor of my favorite discount fashion Mecca, here are a few links about Old Navy that may interest you:

Sarah Conley from StyleIT reviews the Plus Sized holiday line (cashmere anyone?) on the site Coutorture.

I know I Googled to find out after seeing it the first time… didn’t like Old Navy’s sweater commercial, but fell in love with the song. It’s “The Way I Am” by Ingrid Michaelson (saw an interview with Ingrid on VH1 and no, she didn’t get any free sweaters for having her song in the ad).


Bronwyn from Mommy and Maven reviews the pieces from Old Navy that she encountered on her latest jaunt to the store.


Anyone recognize the cute brunette in this Old Navy commercial? It’s Vanessa Hudgens in her pre-High School Musical days.


Want to know what thought process goes behind Old Navy’s packaging? The DieLine interviews Jason Rosenberg, Senior Packaging Designer for Old Navy about the new packaging he created for the men’s and boy’s divisions.

Monster N-TUNE HD Headphones Review and Giveaway

Now that we have Emerson, there’s less time in our lives for hobbies and pastimes. As I recommend with your wardrobe, Karl and I have chosen quality, not quantity when it comes to our interests, and one we both love and share is music. Once a month or so we have a Date Night of dinner and a concert, we play music when cooking and cleaning, and have playlists for most any activity. We love that we can share this pastime with Emerson and see her interest in music develop with time.

But sometimes it’s not appropriate to blast your music to the world. Be it me working from home, taking the Metro to work, or when Emerson is taking a nap, it’s nice to have a great pair of headphones that don’t distort the music. So when BlogHer and Monster Headphones asked if I would like to review a pair of Monster N-TUNE HD On-Ear Headphones I jumped at the chance.

Monster sent me a pair of their candy green N-TUNE HD On-Ear Headphones and I gotta say, I was excited (green is one of my favorite colors!). Unlike the on-ear headphones I use at work, I find these lightweight, comfortable, and durable.

Designed with the input of Nick Cannon, the Monster N-TUNE HD On-Ear Headphones provide the perfect sound for music, emphasizing beats and bass. These headphones feature a built-in ControlTalk remote so if you use them with your smartphone, you can easily pause your tunes to receive a call. I found that with these headphones, I could play music as loud as I liked without distortion, or the music bleeding out and being heard by those around me. In turn, you can turn the music down low but still hear all the detail. I think the sound is better than my friend’s headphones promoted by another popular musical artist. Seriously, the sound is so good, it’s addictive. When I can’t find my headphones it’s usually because Karl has snagged them to watch a movie on his phone or to listen to tunes while working out or doing yard work.

The Monster N-TUNE HD headphones also have a noise cancelling feature which is great when working from home; I must admit I sometimes even wear them without listening to anything just to muffle out distractions. And wearing them is comfortable; I actually catch myself forgetting that they are on! I also love that the cord is detachable/reusable, means no tangling and easy to pack away. The whole packaging of these Monster headphones are brilliant and perfect as a holiday gift – sturdy box with magnetic closure, a beautiful presentation of the headphones, storage pouch, brand sticker and more marketing. I think anyone would be impressed to get this box under the Christmas tree or for another holiday!

Giveaway:
The giveaway is now closed and winners have been notified.  Thank you for entering!

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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.

My Wardrobe Today – Thursday

Black cotton shirtdress – Lauren for Ralph Lauren (no longer available)
Black obi-inspired belt -Another Line
Leopard pumps – Nine West “Masquerader” (no longer available)
Silver cuff

This morning I was running late because I was playing with my netbook. I had my iTunes on a different computer and transferred it over to this one, so I was organizing music, deleting duplicates, gathering new music. Our Bonnaroo passes arrived in the mail last night and I can’t stop thinking about going to the festival in just a couple of weeks and this is a way to get ready (no road trip is complete without a great playlist!). What new music are you loving? Would love to buy some new stuff and would like to hear what inspires you lately!

So anyway, lost track of time and put on a tried and true piece – this great shirtdress. I got this belt a couple months ago and have yet to wear it; I think it will also look great with my green and purple silk dress, and this fall would rock with a crisp white shirt and pencil skirt.  Now that I have it, I am stalking it for when it goes on sale… think the Vachetta color would be fantastic with brights like purple and teal!

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

Ask Allie: Should I Go to Coachella?

A friend of mine has an extra ticket to Coachella and asked if I want to go. I’ve never been to a music festival in my life, though I do objectively think I like good music. Is it all going to be “kids” and not my scene? What should I wear/pack? We aren’t camping, we are staying in a hotel.

Though I have been to many different music festivals, I have not attended Coachella. However my good friend Nicole has been the past couple of years and has had a blast. Like you, she stays in a hotel instead of camping. And like you and me, she is not a “kid” and isn’t into the stereotypical festie scene. I say go, you’ll have a great time and have a great story to share with your friends and your kids once they’re old enough to consider attending a similar event. You will see people of every age and walk of life. Don’t base a festival by the photos you see on the Internet, photographers love to capture that which will increase pageviews or look crazy/cool/fashionable.

Since you’re staying in a hotel, packing is far simpler. Treat it as if you were going to a day festival like Columbia’s Wine in the Woods or Virgin FreeFest. You want to dress and pack to be able to be away from your hotel for the entire day but no need to act as though you’re going on an expedition to the wilderness. But again, don’t base your fashion on the pictures you find on the internet of half-dressed college kids and celebrities. You can seriously wear anything and look fine; dress to fit your current closet and for comfort.

Shop similar: top | shorts | sandals | hat | sunglasses | bracelet | bag

This outfit embraces the boho style of California without looking like a costume. Wear a tank or bathing suit under the top when it’s warm, put it back on when in the shade or when the sun goes down. Denim shorts are a popular choice for music festivals because they can take a beating, but be sure they’re a bit slouchy and loose so it’s easy to slip them on and off when you’re sweaty in a hot cramped porta-potty. Sandals are fine for a festival, I wear them often, but be sure they are well broken in beforehand to prevent blisters. A hat and sunglasses are a must; a crossbody bag or backpack is the best choice to carry your essentials as it leaves your hands free to hold a drink, take a picture, or dance.

Shop similar: dress | sneakers | hat | sunglasses | shirt | bag

I love wearing cotton dresses to music festivals; they float away from the body, dry quickly, and are comfortable in the heat. Consider a pair of bike shorts underneath for both modesty when sitting on the ground, and to prevent chafing. A pair of canvas sneakers like Chucks or Supergas are great for a festival and look adorable with a girly floral dress. Such a dress looks great with a big sun hat and tortoise frames, carry a denim shirt to put on when the sun sets and the temperature drops.

Shop similar: top | pants | shoes | hat | sunglasses | jacket | bag

I love how flowy lightweight trousers and track pants are in style, they are comfortable in the heat and perfect for a music festival. In a breezy fabric, a pair of pants like this protect you from the sun, from chafing, and are uber comfortable. Pair with a drapey tank or tee for breezy style, lightweight shoes like TOMS or sandals will finish the look. A well-worn denim jacket stuffed in your locker or bag will not only keep your warm later in the day, it makes for a pretty good groundcover when sitting on the grass.

As for a bag, look for one that is comfortable to wear for long periods of time and leaves your hands free. I have a small backpack I take to festivals, but I have also done a crossbody purse and even a fanny pack. Each person has different needs when at a music festival, but I think these are the essentials:

reusable water bottle (take in empty) sunscreen | wet wipes (to sanitize hands before eating as well for gross porta-potties) | bandana (sun and dirt protection as well as much more) | extra hair ties or barrettes | ear plugs (you can get the disposable ones, I have these Hearos and they’re great and come in a carrying case) | cash (as well as a credit card and your ID and insurance card) | Sharpie and notepad and/or business cards (get autographs, write email of a new friend, etc.) | gum or mints | lip balm with SPF | cell phone with a battery case or a juice pack

For more information, visit my previous posts on music festivals:

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

How My Morning Jacket Changed My Life

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

Special Events and Excursions: The Beach Holiday

Yes, you have built your standard wardrobe that will take you from work to the grocery store to happy hour and maybe a wedding, funeral or baby shower thrown in. Now what do you wear for those other moments?

Beach Trip

I just came back from a girl’s getaway to the shore. I realized by looking at the other women on the sand, in the bars, at the restaurants that many do not know how to pack for the beach or a vacation. I was aware of this on my last jaunt to Costa Rica where I stayed at a resort full of improperly dressed ladies.

The beach is hot. It is often humid. It is not the tidiest of places; sand and salt air wreak havoc on your hair, your skin, your pedicure and many fabrics. Unless you are a celebrity or having a holiday at a very posh resort, this is not the vacation for silks and chiffon. For most of us, a beach weekend is tromping to the sand with umbrella, blanket, chairs, toys for the kids, huge tote and possibly a diaper bag in tow. Dinner is often seafood in a place where tablecloths are replaced by brown paper. Evening events are often at a bar where the floor is made of concrete. Hotels or rental houses usually do not have laundry service.

I recommend easy clothes that allow the body to breathe yet look sassy.

- Skirts.
You cannot go wrong with a skirt. Be it a denim mini, a gathered knee length piece of floral cotton, a calf-length sarong, skirts let you breathe, are gentle to sun and wind burned skin, look festive and pack up nicely. Again, this is not the place to bring out your shantung ballskirt or your chiffon overlay bias cut piece with beading. Even “dressy” affairs in this atmosphere are a bit more relaxed. Go for cotton, linen, lightweight denim or canvas, chino, rayon challis. This weekend I took a denim jean-style short skirt I picked up at Old Navy for a steal. This skirt became a beach coverup, a comfy thing to slide over my slightly burned thighs for brunch and looked sassy with a tank and funky necklace for an evening concert at a club. My friend had a gauzy drop waist gathered skirt that fell just below her knees. She wore it once with a ribbed tank and flops for a daytime brunch, and later with an off the shoulder top and chandelier earrings for a dressier event.

- Tanks. You may hate your arms, you may think your bust is too big or too small. You are uncomfortable in more fitted clothing. Well at the beach, it’s not an issue. Planning for a beach trip I become overly conscious of how pale I am, how much I have gained, how large my belly is, how saggy my breasts are… and once I am there I realize how silly I was to worry. Women are there in all shapes, colors and sizes in various levels of undress. The ones you notice are not those whop have bad bodies, but those who have bad posture and bad fashion sense. That being said, you deserve to be comfortable. Tanks are a wonderful choice. Be it spaghetti strap with the built in bra, a ribbed “wifebeater” style, or something more refined, tanks will take you from sleep to the beach to the nightclub. They go with capris, skirts, jeans and even a towel wrapped around your waist.

And with that notice I did not mention
- Shorts. I think shorts are the most unflattering thing ever created for women over the age of 21. Yes, shorts look positively adorable on a child, or on Jessica Simpson in a music video. However, in real life, adult women never look flattering in shorts. Be you small, tall, with a fabulous figure… shorts are not made for social events. They are made for driving kids to play group, gardening in your yard, working out and playing sports. I know many of you are getting angry reading this. You live in warm climates, the summer gets hot, shorts are comfortable…. Well I want every woman reading this to do an experiment. The next place you are in warm weather I want you to people watch. More specifically, people watch women in shorts. I did this at the beach. Beautiful tanned, lithe bodies around me. Every woman in shorts looked… wrong. Be it one leg hiking up, the shorts causing a mild wedgie, the outfit looking too casual/slutty/grungy for the event, or just that shorts cause bulk in an area that women do not need more bulk. It makes the flattest tummy look a little paunchy. The slimmest thighs a bit heavier. The roundest firmest tush a bit saddlebagged. Short shorts may elongate the leg, but shrink the torso so you look a bit deformed. Longer shorts cut off the body. Tight shorts are restricting, loose shorts add girth. Please, send me a photograph of a woman looking great in shorts in a “normal” situation (no music videos, red carpet walks or Hooters restaurants) and prove me wrong. I would love to be proved wrong, but until then, I highly recommend you keep your shorts for exercise and manual labor, and catch a breeze from a skirt or a pair of capris.

Update: With Bermuda shorts back on the scene, I do feel that these can look quite lovely on ladies with slim, long legs and small hips and thighs. However the best Bermudas are those that are crisp and pressed. This is the antitheses of beach attire so they should be left at home for cookouts, trips to the mall and sightseeing.

And back to what you should bring to the beach….
- Jewelry. I don’t mean diamonds and pearls and feather earrings. I mean something to jazz up an outfit. This last beach trip I brought a strand of chunky wood and tiger eye beads. Wore it with a little tee shirt, previously mentioned denim skirt and flops and looked smashing. I had compliments from both women and men. Without the necklace? I would have faded into the background. Bring that crazy necklace you usually wouldn’t dare to wear. Those hoop earrings that are a bit too big for everyday use. That hip-slung belt you haven’t worn since the last time they were in fashion. Somehow a bit of sun, a cold beer, a gaggle of friends and that lovely salt air will give you the strength and the courage to go a bit more daring. I say go for it! Show some personality to your outfit!

- Flip Flops. Be they the $8 ones from Old Navy, high performance leather ones from Merrell or something in-between, these are a must-have. Not just for trekking over hot sand, flip flops (or thongs, or flops) are the standard footwear. A stacked pair or a beaded pair is totally appropriate for a dinner out. They dry quickly, don’t hold the smell of stale beer and saltwater, and are pretty comfortable for long periods of time on your feet. I do take a pair of nicer heeled sandals on each trip, but usually they don’t leave the suitcase. My favorites are a pair of stacked flops from J.Crew in black. The platform gives them a bit of panache and separates them from the Eckerd Drug peers. They go with everything, are very comfortable between the toes, and hose off at the end of the day.

- A Flattering Bathing Suit (or two!). I don’t care that the fashion is hip-slung bikini bottoms or boy leg shorts or halter tops… the important thing is to have a suit that is flattering and won’t fall off with the next wave. The most flattering suits are usually solid colors. Yes magazines will tell you that strategically placed stripes can fool the eye and prints can make a bust look larger. Honestly, a person can see your body, whether it’s hidden behind hibiscus, a bar code or a swath of black lycra. It is tempting to choose black if you are insecure about your figure. I encourage you to do the opposite. Again, color will not hide anything, it will just act as a mirage from very far away. If you wear a great color, people notice that more than the body around it. Also color looks better on both pale and tanned skin.

There are some very wonderful companies and stores out there to make the bathing suit shopping process less painful. Water Water Everywhere is a year-round swimsuit store in many malls across America that sells separate bottoms and tops for a more expert fit. They also have a multitude of one piece styles. I was able to find a strapless one piece suit for my pre-wedding beach holiday that held up my large breasts, sucked in my tummy a bit and did nice things to my rear. J.Crew sells individual pieces and also carried D cup styles. Lands End has an amazing array of styles, colors and fabrics. My suit from them has held up for three seasons of chlorine, saltwater and even the clothes dryer and still looks brand new. Newport News carries suits in a Long Torso cut – no more ride-ups! Though the department stores may have a huge selection, you rarely get the attention, the flattering lighting or the sizes and cuts you desire. I highly recommend doing your suit shopping in specialty stores or by mail order. It’s much nicer to try on a suit in the comfort of your own home with a mirror you trust.

Get what you like, not necessarily what you feel you have to wear because of your shape or what fashion magazines show. A tip: skirts on suits do not cover up your legs. A short flippy skirt can look quite sassy and retro, but the longer skirts do similar things to what shorts do for a woman – they make you look bigger than you are. You may think you need to wear a skirted suit due to age or size, but I disagree. These types of suits make you look older and heavier than you need to, or really do look.

Look for a lined suit (Less likely to show things you don’t want to when wet. Also holds in a bit like control top hose), a suit that supports the breasts (Underwire is often available in suits. Look for soft cups, strong straps, back straps to assist with this.), a suit in a fun and flattering color (I am partial to red, various blues and aquas and leaf green), and a suit that works with your body type, doesn’t fight it (one should not look naked, like a sausage, saggy or lumpy in your suit).

- A Beach Coverup. You have spent time on finding the perfect suit, do not cover it up with an old college tee shirt of your husband’s. Or, gosh forbid, a dreaded pair of shorts where your wet rear drips through and darkens the back. Beach coverups can make you look elegant, slim, stylish, tall, fun or sexy. Luckily cover ups are quite hip right now and there is a great selection out there. Sarongs are great with a bikini. Caftans and their shorter counterparts look amazing over any style of suit and can often go from beach to bistro with ease. These come in sheer organza, cotton or my favorite – a wrinkled gauzy linen-like fabric. Just a hint of transparency, these coverups can be smashed into a beach bag, have a wet towel placed on top of them and can still come out looking great. I have a berry colored one that was actually a dress I purchased a few years ago and thought was too short.

A beach coverup doesn’t have to have a label in it saying “made for coverup use only.” As I did with a too-short dress, you may have items in your closet that already fir the bill. My friend likes to wear a crisp white oxford of her husband’s. She wears large black sunglasses, that and flops and looks like a movie star. My sister has a terry cloth a-line mini skirt. Probably meant for street wear, the color compliments the trim of her favorite bathing suit and looks quite sassy.

- Sunglasses. Gosh this should be a given, but yes, even fashionistas can forget the essentials. I went to the shore sans shades. My sister, the ever prepared fashionista brought two pairs so my contacts did not have to dry out on the beach.

Sunglasses are worn 80% of the time when you are in a sunny locale. Do not get by with those free plastic wanna-be Ray Bans that pharmaceutical companies used to give out – the ones with the neon earpieces with logos screenprinted on to them. Also, one should not wear broken, scratched, obviously dated or unflattering sunglasses. These will be worn more than your bathing suit. This doesn’t mean they need to be expensive, they just need to be worthy of sitting on your face for long periods of time.

A few tips for successful sunglass purchasing:
1. If you can see your temples on either side of your sunglasses (meaning your face) when looking head-first into a mirror, the sunglasses are too small. Nothing can make you look more out of touch with trends and nothing can make your face look wider and fatter than too-small sunglasses. Too large is safer than too small. You know you have seen those women in the tiny black cat-eye sunglasses and they look as though they have borrowed them from their prepubescent daughter.
2. If you are unsure, go with black or tortoise shell. Usually fair skinned folks look better with amber or tortoise plastic shades and darker complexions with black plastic. Do not always adhere to this. I have a very fair skinned friend with strawberry blonde hair that has a huge pair of black sunglasses that look smashing on her. However, if you are shopping alone and clueless, this is a safe rule to follow.
3. Ask the opinions of others. I know what pants looks good on me, I know what haircut will flatter my face, but I am clueless when it comes to sunglasses. I ask a friend, a salesperson, but find the best suggestions from perfect strangers. Strangers seem to be more honest about accessories than clothing when their opinion is asked. I suppose they don’t have to judge your figure or your personality when it comes to sunglasses. The most favored sunglasses of my past were picked out by complete strangers who happened to walk by as I was trying to peer into those incredibly tiny mirrors on the tops of sunglass racks.
4. Don’t be a slave to fashion. Everyone is wearing rhinestone encrusted frames? Doesn’t mean you need to. Fashion is not as cut and dry as it was several decades ago. You can wear all types of things, styles and trends and not look terribly dated or tacky. If anything, trends change so rapidly in this day and age by purchasing a very trendy pair, you will only be able to wear them for 2 weeks before they are considered passe. Think about those frameless sunglasses with the rhinestone heart in the corner. Those were all the rage 4 years ago. Now? Fashion victim.
5. Look places you wouldn’t usually consider. The grocery store, the kiosk at the mall’s food court. Clothing stores that sell clothes you may not usually fit or be caught dead in. My friend has a pair of sunglasses I drool over. Great shape, great color, stylish without being trendy. Fit her perfectly. She got them at a kiosk at the mall, 2 pairs for $10.00. Look so much cooler than the Gucci shades I bought in a drunken stupor the last time I visited Italy.

There are also things you should not take with you on a beach holiday:
1. Evening or going-out purses. A black satin clutch is perfect for a date, a cocktail party, the theater. It is not perfect for the beach. Throw your necessities in a small tote or canvas bag. I prefer to shove my ID, money, lipgloss and gum in my pockets. My dear friend relies on a small backpack. My sister uses a mini L.L.Bean Boat and Toe bag. Like any other event, consider the situation when you dress.
2. Spike heels. Okay, they may look fab with your outfit, but most often you will be on grass, sand, boardwalk or damp concrete. In college there was a bar called the Rendevous Inn. For short we called it the ‘Vous. Well this place was dirty and always had an inch of stale beer on the floor. We girls all owed a pair of shoes we called ‘Vous Shoes for when we visited this watering hole. These were shoes that could handle being hosed down if need be. These are the best kind of shoes for the beach. Flip flops, wedges, sandals. Nothing with beading, sequins, delicate fabrics, spike heels or complicated lacings. You never know when you will want to take a romantic walk on the beach, when a kid may dump a sand pail of water on your foot, or when a drunken frat boy may spill a Corona on your perfect pedicure.
3. Hosiery. Okay, socks for your sneakers are fine. Knee highs, stockings, trouser socks, tights… all are no nos. The only people who wear hosiery at the beach are the waitresses at Hooters.
4. Anything that looks bad when you sweat or get rained on. I own this gorgeous silk top from Ann Taylor Loft. Got it for a steal off their clearance rack. Fits great, flatters my figure, the color is so great with my skin and hair color. Looks good with jeans, with black pants, with a skirt. Even with these amazing facts, I did not pack it for my trip. Why? I wouldn’t want to sweat in that silk top. I would not look cute with damp ringlets and that top. That top does not belong at a “taco toss” outdoor happy hour with a chance of rain. That top is meant to sip cocktails in a nice club or bar. Or maybe be worn on a date with the hubby.

So along with fabulous silk tops, I will include complicated tops, anything made of lame, or delicate crocheted lace, leather or suede, expensive jewelry (other than those standards you always wear and possibly sleep in), intricate makeup (heavy shadow, dark lipstick, heavy foundation, false eyelashes…), debutante quality dresses (yes this sounds weird but at my last beach trip I saw an adorable woman in a strapless dress with a satin sash at the waist and a full skirt held up by a crinoline), complicated shellacked hair (humidity, wind, sweat and salt air will ruin that look, don’t even try!), or anything else that will require maintenance throughout the day. Enjoy yourself! This is a vacation, right? Let your mind and your wardrobe take a rest!

My Tuesday Night

When I was in high school, I had a friend named PJ. PJ moved to the area in the middle of high school and brought with him a whole new world of music, literature, and art. Before I met PJ, my music knowledge and experience was pretty limited; whatever played on the Top 40 stations or the relatively mainstream Alternative music I could hear on DC’s WHFS. To this day, every time I start up my iPod or attend a concert, I think of PJ.

I had this same tee shirt in high school and literally wore it until it fell apart. Image via toddicus.com

When PJ found out I liked The Cure, he introduced me to The Smiths. He took me to see Morrissey in concert. He made me tapes of bootlegged R.E.M. (my favorite band at the time) or mix tapes with bands I had never heard before like Hüsker Dü, Bauhaus, and Joy Division. He saw that I liked The Sundays so he gave me a cassette of Cocteau Twins’ Heaven or Las Vegas.

To this date, The Smiths is one of my favorite bands, and Heaven or Las Vegas is by far my favorite album. When I am stressed, I listen to Heaven or Las Vegas. When I am sad, I listen to it. Even when I was in labor, I listened to it on my iPod and it instantly calmed me. It brings to mind memories of driving in PJ’s old VW Beetle on a sunny day, sitting in my childhood home’s backyard, listening to my Walkman while writing in one of my many spiral notebooks, high school Saturday mornings where I could lie in bed until noon listening to music, reading, dozing.

Last night I went to see Jónsi at the 9:30 Club in DC. I won the tickets from a local paper; otherwise I probably wouldn’t have gone. I mean, I like Sigur Rós, and I like Jónsi – even have his solo album. However I haven’t really listened to it deeply. The first half of this year I spent researching and listening to artists on the Bonnaroo lineup, since then I have been in a bit of a music rut and haven’t given appropriate time to my new music.

My sister and I made it a GNO affair last night. We headed to Marvin for mussels and wine. We then stopped by a bar or two for another drink and conversation. We ended up missing the opening band – Mountain Man and arrived just as Jónsi started his set. Because of this, we ended up downstairs near the bar to the left of the stage, surrounded by folks ordering beers and the smell of burned nachos. Jónsi’s set started slow, and my sister admitted she wasn’t “feeling” it. I told her to hang on until 10pm and if she still didn’t like it, we could leave then.

Image via TBD.com

The crowd opened soon after this conversation and we were able to wiggle in about ten feet from the stage, still to the left. Suddenly the whole experience changed for the better. The air was cooler (and free of the smell of scorched cheese), it was dark, most of the people around us were quiet and focused on the performance. We were surrounded by the dark, the music, as well as the movie being projected on the back and side walls. And the music became more layered, more exciting, more intense.

It reminded me of the first time I heard Heaven or Las Vegas on a CD – the blanket of sound, the layers of music, the angelic voice. I felt buoyant, lifted up, full of joy and gratefulness. I feel goofy using such a description for a concert, but Jonsi’s performance was lovely. Utterly love-erly lovely (by the way, the Washington Post felt the same – read the review of Monday’s show here).

PJ died the summer after his freshman year of college. He fell asleep behind the wheel driving home from work. PJ and I dated for a short time in high school, but we remained friends after that and pen pals when he went off to college. I still have the silver ring with the Yin-Yang symbol on it that he gave me in high school, and I will always keep the music education he gave me. Last night I thanked PJ for opening my mind, and having it that I experienced such a great show.

Guilty Pleasure: NKOTB

When I was a kid, I liked the same music my friends liked. Madonna, Prince, Michael Jackson, and near the end of elementary school… New Kids on the Block. I can remember my sister and I getting grounded for calling the NKOTB 976-number over and over to learn what was Joey’s favorite beverage, Jordan’s dream girl.

Then middle school came and primarily in thanks to my friend Annie, I was exposed to “real” music. INXS, The Smiths, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Pixies, R.E.M., The Cure. While it wasn’t “cool” to like New Kids on the Block, they were still my guilty pleasure.

High school – I had half my head shaved and the rest of my hair dyed black. I drew all over my jeans, wore Doc Martens, and spent my weekends sulking around Georgetown and going to all-ages shows at the old 9:30 Club but I still had a small place in my heart for New Kids on the Block. Come college, it was more about Dave Matthews Band and Smashing Pumpkins yet I still thought on occasion about Jordan, Joey, Job, Danny, and Donnie and yes, come 1999 I wore the heck out of the cassette version of Jordan Knight’s solo album (I got cassette so I could play it in my old car because my sister/roommate would yell at me to stop playing it at home).

As I have mentioned before, I lost the music passion some time around the end of college, and My Morning Jacket brought back the love. Since 2006 or so, I have been learning more and more about new and old music, and I guess I have become a bit of a music snob. Bands and songs I adored a year ago now seem too simplistic, genres I before poo-poohed I now love and research. I also have gained much nostalgia for those first artists I loved – the ones I sang along to in my bedroom, the ones I danced to at homecoming, the ones that were the soundtrack to my adolescence.

So when I saw NKOTB’s new video was out for their song, “Remix (I Like The)” I was excited. I wanted to see how they were going to handle coming back, considering these “boys” are now men, with women, not girls as their primary fan base. Would they make me a giggling preteen in my bedroom surrounded by issues of Tiger Beat, or would they make me feel old and disappointed?

Neither. NKOTB managed to make me feel like a cool 38-year old woman who has good taste in music but a soft spot for the boys from Boston… and that it’s pretty cool to have that soft spot. Catchy song that isn’t too saccharine, well-made video that will appeal to many ages of females but especially mine, and the smart choice to focus on Donnie Wahlberg who has aged very very nicely.


Thank you NKOTB for ending this week on a high note. I like the remix!  

(And I LOVE this lyrics video featuring real fans!)

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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!





Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram