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My Fantasy Fashion Closet

I hate it when I want clothes and can’t find them in stores.

Each season, I make a list of what I’d like to add to my wardrobe to make it complete and up-to-date with trends. While most of what I own is simple or weird enough to not be passé after a year, combining them with of-the-moment trends gives them a new life. Along with a few trendy pieces, I often need to replace wardrobe staples that no longer fit or wore out with use. Usually I only find a fraction of these pieces for my mind doesn’t seem to be on the same wavelength as mass retailers. These are the items I would love to have for this season but have yet to find.

Sequined Peplum Top
I tried one on yesterday at Nordstrom Rack; it was from Alive + Olivia, was gold, but it was wrong. Not a true peplum, weird boxy shoulders that made me look like a linebacker, and unflattering neckline. That was the closest I have found.

I’d like it to have a round neckline – not a scoop, not a crew, just something that doesn’t make me have a log neck. Short puffed sleeves to balance out my thick arms and shoulders. A peplum that is obviously one, but doesn’t stick out like a shelf. I’d love it in peacock, teal… some sort of dark green with a blue in it. Could wear it with boyfriend jeans and stilettos, with black pants and pointed-toe pumps, or with a pencil skirt.

Olive Anorak-Style Jacket
Cotton, lightweight, looks good with the sleeves rolled up. I have one that has a belt, but there’s too many epaulets and straps and stuff. I want one with the bungee cord in the waist to cinch it. Something I can pair with my brown Karen Kane sequined skirt, a striped tee and booties for a hodgepodge that looks really good in my mind.

Black Wedge Booties
I know, there’s a kazillion black wedge booties on the market. Thing is, they all look wrong. I want ones that are loose at the top so they don’t look as though I replaced my feet with hooves – something that has space between shoe and ankle. I don’t want them super platform, or with a strange cut-out wedge. I don’t want them suede, or textured leather, or patent. Something very simple that I could wear with tights and a shift dress.

Black Photography Dress
My black shirtdress has become my photographer’s assistant uniform. It has deep pockets to hold batteries and memory cards, is full enough to let me get on the ground easily, is cotton which is comfortable and breathable at hot weddings and venues. I wear with a wide elastic belt and low shoes and I look cute, professional, appropriate. Well this dress has been laundered far too many times and I think only has one or two wearings left.

I ordered this dress from MICHAEL Michael Kors and while on paper it’s near perfect, on me it looks like a cheap flight attendant uniform. It’s very hard to find black dresses with pockets that actually can hold more than your hand and a lip gloss!

Black Photography Pants Ensemble
I know most photographers wear random black easy-care pants, flat comfortable shoes, and a faded black tee shirt or sweater. I just don’t feel good in that, I don’t feel myself. I’d love to find some Ponte separates – pants with a wider leg that have front and back pockets, a matching top that maybe has patch pockets on the front. Very clean lines, not too tight, plenty of stretch and places to store things. Oh, and if it could be machine washable!

Black Photography Shoes
Something closed toe with a slight wedge heel, comfortable, squishy, simple. Leather so I can polish them up when they get scuffed and they can handle some moisture.  Nothing dowdy, I’d like to also wear these shoes with jeans on weekends if I need to walk or stand for long periods of time. No flats, no separate heels that can sink in wet grass, no Mary Jane, but something that would also work with dresses.

White Cotton Shirt
I want this every year but I never find what I am looking for. Wrinkle-resistant (at least not the type to look crumpled after an hour) but not heavy or with a sheen. No boob pockets. Seaming so it doesn’t hang straight from the bustline. A collar that looks good regular or popped. No oxford, no voile, no mixed-media. Simple pearlized buttons. Looks good untucked, tucked in, or tied at the bottom and you can’t see the hooks of my bra through the fabric.

Black Leather Pleated Skirt
I thought I found the perfect leather skirt during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, but when it arrived I saw it wasn’t. The leather was far too stiff for the pleating, the drop waist hit at a weird place, and it was tight in weird places but gaping a bit at the waist.

I want a slightly dropped waist so the bulk isn’t right on my tummy, and soft enough leather that the pleats move and don’t get stuck together. Hit above the knee.

Black Taffeta Party Skirt
I want a big black taffeta skirt that hits at the lower calf. Pockets, defined waistband, maybe even a slightly dropped waist like my Banana Republic skirt, though that’s not necessary if it’s not too full. I want to wear it with a heather gray v-neck tee and booties, or with a crisp white shirt and channel Carolina Herrera. I’d even pair with a cashmere or sequined tank and wear to a more formal event.

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Retailers, am I asking too much? I feel that these things I could use in my closet are relatively basic and would look fabulous on multiple shapes of women who have varied lifestyles.

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Shop My Closet!

Do you like what I wear?  Well now is your chance to buy some of it.  As I remove weight, I am posting my old, gently used clothing and accessories at Shop My Closet: Wardrobe Oxygen.  Some items aren’t even worn.  I try to give very clear descriptions of all items, links to this blog if I have worn them recently, and reasonable prices.  Shipping is $5.00 (US) for most items, and I will combine purchases for reduced shipping fees.

So check it out – you may find just what your wardrobe was looking for!

What’s In My Closet?

Having this blog, I often get comments that I have a small and boring collection of clothing, or people comment on how much clothing I have and ask where the heck do I keep it all. I think both groups of folks are correct – I have a pretty simple collection of clothing, but I feel as though I have a lot because I shop smart, stay on track, and take care of the quality items that I purchase.

If you go to this post, you can learn about my recent closet clean-out and see pictures of my closet. Though it is considered a walk-in closet, it is pretty small and I share it with my husband. I believe that my bar of clothing is shorter than most individuals have in a regular closet in their homes.

When my husband and I moved into this home ten years ago, we didn’t have this closet. Out house was build in the ‘40s and the bedroom closet seemed to be an afterthought – it was placed over the stairwell so it had a sloping side wall, making half of the hanger bar useless. my husband and I shared about four feet of closet space in our bedroom. We didn’t have a hallway closet, or our guest bedroom’s equally small closet (sloped wall was replaced by built-in deep shelves made from splintered scrap wood – not useable for clothing) was used for outerwear and out-of-season clothing that could not handle being packed into a box in the attic.

Due to such little closet space, I learned to make do with less. In fact, when I moved from my bachelorette pad to our nest, I had to get rid of several lawn and leaf bags full of clothing because I just didn’t have the room. After working so many years in apparel retail, I had amassed quite a collection of clothing and accessories. I went through cocktail dresses with the tags still on them, sparkly tops for a night out that were worn only once, dozens of pairs of jeans in my current size, a size bigger, and several sizes smaller just in case I lost the weight I had been carrying for more than two years.

I thought about my life – I am not one who attends cocktail parties on a regular basis, and I rarely go to flashy nightclubs. I needed clothing for work, and casual attire for the weekend. A handful of fun tops and versatile dresses would get me through any social event. I went through each item, deciding whether it was worthy to be in my closet, should be stored for the future, be donated, or be passed on to a friend. I ended up keeping about 25% of my original wardrobe.

Once I had my core wardrobe, I had to stick to it. No shopping sprees – where would I store my purchases? If I bought something new, it had to be for a good reason. Usually if I bought something new, it meant it was replacing something I already owned. Shoes had the same rules, as that I only had so much space on that single shelf above the hanger bar.

Off-season clothing was stored in plastic tubs in the attic, and I had one tub in the attic that held clothing that I kept for sentimental value – my denim jacket from high school, a sweatshirt with my sorority letters on the front, the Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses I bought for a steal that weren’t my current size but were too nice to donate. Because I kept it to being in just one tub, I had to be picky with what was worthy of sentimental real estate.

I lived with this cramped clothing setup for ten years, and it was the best experience. Not having space made me care more about what I purchased. There wasn’t any dusty corner of a closet for bad purchases to hide, or the room to wade through too-small or dated pieces to find something to wear to work each morning. When I went into stores, I was constantly thinking, “Do I need this? Will it go with what I already own? Is it worthy of my precious closet space?” If I had any hesitation, I wouldn’t purchase.

Now I have a bigger closet – my daughter’s room is the old guest room, but we still have that sloping old bedroom closet which now holds our coats (and camping gear, and boxes of photographs we inherited from my father-in-law, and winter boots, and Christmas gifts I buy in advance, and the vacuum cleaner, and…). Though my new closet has more space, I try to stick to the habits I acquired over the past decade. What is currently in my closet:

Click on image to see it larger
Abbreviations: AT (Ann Taylor), ATL (Ann Taylor LOFT), S/S (short-sleeved), L/S (long-sleeved) NYDJ (Not Your Daughter’s Jeans),  BR (Banana Republic), B&W (black and white), Cardi (cardigan), LE (Lands End), LEC (Lands End Canvas), RL (Ralph Lauren)

As you can see, it’s not as much as you would think. Go ahead, go through the past couple of months of outfits I have worn on here, you will see that it’s the same darn things I am wearing over and over and OVER, just in different ways. The items in gray are out-of-season items that I still have in my closet because I think they could possibly be combined with other items to make them wintry. That which is in red are items I need to replace or remove from the closet – too big, worn out, etc.

As for shoes, I currently have:

Click on image to see it larger

Same rules apply – red means they need to be replaced (old, no longer fit, etc.), gray is out of season (I store all my shoes in my closet at all times – nowhere else to keep them). Pretty small collection, especially when you consider that three of the 11 current shoes are for dressy occasions.

I don’t have a specific clothing budget for each month, or each season. I have a budget for that which isn’t necessary for the family unit – clothes and beauty products for me, clothes for Emerson and my husband, home décor, dinners out, concerts, Starbucks runs, that sort of thing. Some months I find a show at the 9:30 Club more important than a new pair of shoes, sometimes the shoes win. Some months, there is no money for shoes or shows. I go with the flow, and know I have a base wardrobe that will cover any last-minute situation.

I don’t go to malls to shop because there is too much temptation. I will go into stores to try on, but rarely purchase same day. I will mull it over, and then either return to buy or look online to find it cheaper. I do a lot of online window shopping where I will find things that look good, put them in my virtual shopping cart, then close the shop’s site and think about it. If I can come back later and still find it as lovely and versatile and useful, then I may purchase if it fits into my current budget.

I stick to a pretty simple color palette, and purchase mainly solids so they are more timeless and mix and match with ease. Lately I have been on a stripes kick, which is a cheap and easy way to add some variety to the wardrobe. In the past I have had kicks for animal prints, pinstripes, polka-dots, leather, all things green… this is usually the way I add a fresh spin to my wardrobe basics. These little accent pieces can become wardrobe staples or can easily be replaced come the new season without losing too much money on the situation.

I carry with me a list of what I really need – right now it’s pencil skirts in black and denim in my new size, new tall boots in black, and I would like a crisp white shirt that looks great with the sleeves buttoned or rolled up. This way, if I get distracted by some expensive indulgence, I can think, “Do I really need this sequined miniskirt more than a black pencil skirt? Think how much mileage I got out of my current black pencil skirt – wouldn’t it feel good to have another great piece like that in my wardrobe?” It keeps me balanced and always on the hunt for the perfect blend of quality, price, and fit.

The Bowels of my Closet

I forgot about this jacket. I got it at Target in the Spring I believe. It’s a beige canvas, motocross inspired cut, brown stitching. I believe it was about $30.00.

Under it is a brown silk/cashmere shell from the Banana Republic outlet. My funky wood and glass necklace around my neck, no earrings or bracelet. Dirty vintage washed low rise bootcut jeans on from The Gap, and brown snakeskin pumps from Nine West.

The makeup is MAC’s Studio Tech for foundation, MAC stick concealer. A bit of Almay bronzer for blush and powder. Goldie’s Blosson lipgloss on the lips. Shadow is Fawn Pearl (The Body Shop) shadow on the lid, my brown brow powder (Maybelline) in the bcrease and along the lash line. Then of course MAC’s Zoom Lash mascara in black.

Hair is being difficult, yet I keep putting off a hair appointment. I swear, this time I mean it, I am going to call to make an appointment TODAY. This has gone on too long.

Spring has Sprung in my Closet

Spring has sprung here in DC! Hooray for bare legs, packing up the hats and mittens, and being able to expose elbows and toes! With each change of season, there’s usually a change of wardrobe. I’ve found that closet organization has been good physical therapy for me; the pinching of clips to hang skirts, holding the weight of a full hanger, folding scarves and jeans. With my arm, this process has been extremely slow, but that time is great for really thinking about what is in my closet, what I really need, and what I really need to remove from my collection.

The trends this spring and summer are so refreshing; after seasons of bright and bold, fitted and funky there’s a move to subtleness, quality, detail, and drape. I saw it on the runways, I see it in the stores, and I feel it in my heart. I started gravitating toward simpler pieces and colors in 2013, but desire it even more in 2014, especially after my broken arm. After six weeks predominately in loungewear, I crave dressing, but simple, easy, yet elegant dressing. Here’s a peek into my Spring/Summer mindset:

For clothing, it’s not terribly different from the past, but now it feels more cohesive. I’m liking (1) midi-length skirts, but somehow they look more right on me when part of a dress. I have pretty much this same dress; last summer’s LOFT collection, and know it will get a ton more wear this year. (2) White feels really right this year, even before Memorial Day. I’ve been wearing white jeans, boyfriend jeans, and pants quite a lot already (if you’re new to white outside of summer, start simple by pairing it with black). Each season I end up having a signature color without even thinking about it and based upon my closet, this season it’s (3) orange-red.  I type this while wearing a linen sweatshirt of this color, and desire a shift dress like the one pictured.  I’m really digging classic trousers this spring, paired with everything, from blouses to sweaters to tee shirts; I’m on the hunt for the perfect pair in (4) navy.  I’m loving how there’s a trend towards draping and purposeful slouchiness this season and have been gobbling up things that are (5) off the shoulder; I’d pair a top like this with slim white jeans.  I also like the trend of purposeful draping, a top like this (6) can be worn with jeans for a night out, or slipped under a suit for the workweek.  I’m always happy when weathered, worn, and distressed denim (7) are on trend; they please my inner Lita Ford and love the contrast with more classic pieces.  And it wouldn’t be my wardrobe if it doesn’t have a few striped shirts (8) in it!

For accessories, I’m craving fewer pieces, fewer necklaces, and again am drawn to orange-red accents.  Thinking about my faves, I saw they are sort of lumped into three categories:

  • Vacation Inspired: I love white Panama hats and fedoras, I know they’ve been in style for a while and may be less trendy but I think they’re quite classic and these days I’m doing all I can to protect myself from the sun.  I love them with jeans and striped tees, I love them with sundresses, and I love that they hide bad hair days!  I’m also loving my new Converse Shorelines, which make Chucks finally comfortable for me.  With the elasticized back and lower profile, they’re comfy and easy to slip on and off.  Aviators are always my favorite, as are scarves.  Now that bandanas are back in style, I’ve been pulling out my collection of them and square scarves and using them to jazz up simple knits.
  • Bold Silver:  This is nothing new, silver is my signature metal and I’ve been wearing my big sterling cuff for 17 years.  Now I’ve added a pair of silver Birkenstocks to my wardrobe, increasing my silver.  I love mixing shiny silver with a more relaxed material; the bracelets from Lifetherapy are a fave of mine.  I have several of them and love looping one of their wrap bracelets (especially in this season’s signature color of orange!) over the cuff to switch it up.
  • Classic Gold: When my arm was in a cast, I relied on a watch since pulling out my phone was more difficult.  I’ve come to really like the convenience and style, and adore my Citizen Ciena Eco-Drive.  I recently got this cuff from Rebecca Minkoff which is smaller than what I’ve been known to wear and I like it.  Again, been wearing a lot of square scarves, be they around my throat, tied in my hair, or hanging off my purse.  I got a pair of Nine West “Flax” pumps in Natural and they’re a great nude pump, a comfortable height and go with almost my entire wardrobe.

My makeup has also been influenced by my time with a cast; it’s hard to have precision with your non-dominant hand. While I spent much of the winter with bold lips and liquid liner, lately I’m more into a subtle smoky eye, bronzer over blush, and glossy lips in a more natural hue. Miracle Skin Transformer has become my go-to while dealing with a broken arm since it’s so easy and so many beauty products in one.  I’m a mascara junkie and I love Too Faced’s Better Than False Lashes enough to buy a second time. It’s not a product to use when you’re short on time, but they do make my lashes look lusher than any other brand.  I got the Urban Decay lipliner in Naked as a freebie with a Beauty.com order and I use it almost daily with a natural colored gloss (adoring NARS Viva).  And then the original Naked palette from Urban Decay is still a fave for a no-makeup makeup look, a soft smoky eye, or to even replace liner.


Has spring sprung in your closet?  What are you loving this season in regard to trends or new to you classics?

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Future Past Present: Holdin’ On To Band Posters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How My Morning Jacket Changed My Life

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My Weekend (and Concert Review)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Say CHEESE!

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

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

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

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

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Concert Review: Jim James at the 9:30 Club

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Fall Fashion Additions to the Closet

When fall arrives in the stores I get excited. I want ALL THE BOOTS! ALL THE SWEATERS! ALL THE LEATHER JACKETS! But I wait. Fall doesn’t hit immediately in DC, it’s not unusual to be sweating in your Halloween costume and going coatless to your aunt’s house for Thanksgiving. However we do get cold spells from early September into December and some years it gets colder far faster than others (by the looks of the holly bushes in my neighborhood, this is going to be a very chilly winter).

So I’ve waited through the Labor Day sales, the back to school sales, and now that it’s October I feel I can properly assess what I currently have to wear, what holes in my wardrobe I need to fill, and what current trends I still love even after the launch of that gosh darn Pumpkin Spice Latte. And so below, is what I am craving for fall 2014:

fall fashion trends I like

Lace Overlay Skirt

This is one of those items that’s hot this fall but can easily be worn for years to come. Fall 2014 I want to pair such a skirt with plaid flannels and band tees, but it can be worn with a lovely cashmere or merino sweater and pumps for work or a networking event, or get glammed up with a silk blouse or velvet jacket and heels for a holiday party. I would like one in black that doesn’t have any current trend details like exposed zippers or a metallic finish, though I’ve got my eye on this navy one from Vince Camuto and considering I’m seriously enjoying navy with black it may be my choice this season.

Fisherman Sweater

This season they seem to just be called cable knit sweaters, but to me they are fisherman or Hemingway sweaters and I want to own one again. In high school I found one from Banana Republic at TJ Maxx and wore it to death. I even wore it through college until one time I couldn’t find it. Considering how terrible I was to clothing (can’t believe my old roommate Jenn still speaks to me after the time I splattered hot wax all over a top she let me borrow for an Adams Morgan bar crawl), losing a sweater was par for the course. Years later, I found the sweater hidden in my sister’s file cabinet, stained with Jungle Juice (tsk tsk little sister!). A bit of Clorox 2 and I wore that sweater again until it literally fell apart.

Okay, TL;DR point is I want another one. I just ordered this one and this one from Lands’ End because I want a true classic fit and style that will transcend this year’s trend. I’ll be wearing it with jeans, but I also can imagine it with a flippy black skirt and tights, paired with a denim skirt like I showed in this post, and I’d love with some skinny cords and boots.

Ripped Black Jeans

We all know by now that I regularly let my inner Lita Ford out to play in the closet, and Lita is loving the return of distressed denim. However I know this is a trend I won’t wear often and may not wear after this year, so instead of spending boo coo bucks on ripped black jeans, I’m going to self-distress last year’s Old Navy Rockstar Skinny Jeans that have already gotten faded and beat up with wear. I’ll be wearing with sweater coats and booties for weekends.

Engineer Boots

I had a pair of engineer boots in the late ‘90s and loved them but they were cheap fake leather and eventually fell apart. With my wide calves, I can’t just go to any store and snag a pair so I’ve been searching on and off for almost a decade. This year the style of boot is more popular than ever, meaning more opportunities to find a pair that fits. I’ve been considering the Naturalizer Baldala, the DUO Morton, and the Frye Veronica Shortie; I’ll keep you posted if any work out and would love to hear if you have any other suggestions!

Pleated Leather Skirt

Glad to see this trend happening this year because I already own the skirt! I splurged on a pleated black leather skirt from Halogen a couple years ago and have already worn it twice this fall (you can see it one time here). Halogen has a similar skirt this year in regular and petite; if you do order know leather stretches so if it’s a tad snug when you buy, wear it around the house for a bit because it will grow (even though it’s lined) to fit your figure. How cute would this skirt look with a fisherman sweater?

Chunky Gold Watch

I have a chunky silver watch that Fossil sent me and while it’s very pretty, I never wear it. My silver cuff is my go-to when wearing silver, and it’s too big to be paired with a watch. However, all my gold bracelets are small. I have the Citizen Ciena and it’s a beautiful classic watch, but lately I’ve desired something more chunky. I like the Slim Runway from Michael Kors because the tortoiseshell keeps it from being too much gold, it’s a bit unusual, and very different looking from my Citizen.

Buffalo Plaid Shirt

In 6th grade, my friends and I all had different colored Buffalo plaid flannels; I remember we all had bandanas the same color as our shirts and tied them around one knee and felt terribly cool as we sauntered around the playground. While I won’t be wearing a bandana around my knee any time soon, I wouldn’t mind sauntering around this fall in Buffalo plaid. I already have this shirt from Gap and have worn it over a tee or tank with jeans and shorts and tucked in with my leather pleated skirt. I love the juxtaposition of plaid flannel with something more elegant like lace or leather, and the boldness of Buffalo plaid. Don’t be shocked if before the season is through I’ve purchased another flannel in a different color (such as this one from J. Crew).

Wool Fedora

This summer I wore my J. Crew Factory Panama hat quite frequently and I see a black wool fedora to be the fall and winter equivalent. I like wearing hats in winter and know this will get much use for the walk to work as well as weekends when I just don’t feel like doing my hair. I love the colored wool fedoras (the burgundy ones are gorgeous), but black is more me and more likely to be worn more than one year. Considering this one from Catarzi and lusting for this one from rag & bone.

Fringe Bag

Lita’s here and she needs a new bag for her next metal concert. I’ve always loved leather fringe, but feel it can look very costumey. You can’t imagine (or maybe you can since you read this blog) how many times I have ALMOST bought a black fringy hobo bag. One of the things I like best about my Isabella Fiore bag is the fringy tassels hanging off the side. But this season I’ve seen a lot of small fringe bags, clutches and small crossbodies that won’t overpower me with Lita-ness, but let a little bit of her shine. I’ve been looking at this one from Rebecca Minkoff and this one from Steve Madden.

Wrap Coat

The bathrobe-inspired coats this year are totally making me drool. I’ve always loved this style of coat and am thrilled they are back in vogue. While I’m usually a black or color gal, the idea of one of these coats in a neutral like cream, tan, or gray makes me swoon. This is the kind of coat that works with jeans, work attire, and can glam up with a dress for a night at the theater or a holiday party. I’m really loving this wrap coat from Lauren Ralph Lauren in cream, and this cashmere wrap coat from Trina Turk is drool-worthy (I love the light gray).  And while not really the same style, this wrap coat/cape hybrid from Ann Taylor is really calling to me…

So now that the fall and winter trends are out and about, which ones are you considering for your wardrobe?

Updating The Closet for Spring with Boden

I’m all for a wardrobe of workhorses; pieces that fit, flatter, are versatile and relatively timeless. However, I also find it important to update your closet each season with a couple new trends, fun colors or prints to add your personal style and keep your closet from being boring. Boden is one of my favorite places to go for pieces that infuse fun into a wardrobe without causing one to look like a fashion victim. Great colors, cheery prints, some of the best striped tops (and y’all know I love me some striped tops), but made with such quality and attention to detail that their fun pieces end up being wardrobe workhorses too.

One piece I have loved from Boden for a long time is their Ravello Top, a blouse that’s a classic yet makes a statement. A machine washable silk blend makes it a piece that can dress up and down with ease; traditional enough to be a blouse under your interview suit but can also dress down with jeans or get festive with a full midi skirt and heels. While the solids are great, I was immediately drawn to the Blue/Red Paintbox Floral print and knew it would be a great closet addition for spring. Thanks to Boden’s phenomenal phone customer service, I went with a size 12 and think it fits quite nicely.

This print is bold enough to hold its own with dark denim; I added leopard haircalf flats and a simple black leather clutch for a great outfit to grab cocktails with my girls or to go to game night at a friend’s house.

The top is perfect for the warming temps; while it looks great under a blazer or cardigan it looks professional on its own. For this look I paired it with white linen pants and used a hot pink skinny belt to switch up the blouse’s silhouette.

Expect to see a few more pieces from Boden on the blog this season; I think the line fits my curves nicely as well as my personal style and I found a lot of pieces that will nicely update my wardrobe this season but likely be favorites for many seasons to come!

This post was sponsored by Boden through their partnership with POPSUGAR. While I was compensated by POPSUGAR to write a post about Boden, all opinions are my own.

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Alison and the Big Closet Cleanout

I have a Thanksgiving weekend tradition where I do a major closet cleanout. Literally my entire closet is emptied, wiped down, and I start from scratch. There’s things I’m wearing all the time which go back in, but anything that hasn’t been worn in a few months gets tried on, analyzed, and thrown into a pile – Keep, Store, Repair, or Done. I take the keeps and put them carefully back into the closet – I separate dresses, jackets, pants and skirts, blouses and other tops. Shoes are properly labeled and back in their boxes, purses are hung with out of season and currently not wearing styles stored in old pillowcases and dust bags. I also gut the drawers, wash my makeup brushes and re-analyze my makeup stash, and if time, organize my jewelry armoire. The “Done” clothes, I photograph the pieces in great condition and list on eBay or create a Shop My Closet blog or add to a community swap event; the rest I donate.

This year it didn’t happen.

Emerson will be five next month (when the heck did THAT happen?) and the idea of holing myself up in my bedroom for five hours straight for two days is crazy. She’d either want to jump on the bed and change the music to Katy Perry and build a blanket fort, or else try on all my stuff and play queen and princess. But really… I don’t see her as much as I would like and if I have two days away from work I want to spend it with her, not my clothes.

So I washed my makeup brushes and edited my makeup stash, I bought a new closet organizer and a few more huggable-style hangers, and that’s it. I have clothes all over the floor of my closet, my storage box in there still has oxfords from the summer that need to be ironed along with all the shoes I leave around the house that go there until I put them in their boxes, the belts that fall off the belt rack, and a few pairs of Karl’s shoes and likely a doll or stuffed animal.

Life happens, and life is more important than your wardrobe.

Clothing can be a suit of armor to help you feel strong in a difficult situation. Clothing can help express who you are inside. Clothing is a way to show respect at a religious, celebratory, or serious situation. Clothing can be fun, clothing can be art, but clothing should not cause you stress or take away from living your life. Though I write about fashion on a daily basis, please know that I believe, and I hope you believe that living your life trumps dressing for it. My goal with this blog is to make fashion less frustrating, overwhelming, and exclusionary. I hope Wardrobe Oxygen helps you find your personal style, simplifies fashion for you, and shows you that no matter your age, lifestyle, figure, or budget you can enjoy fashion and you deserve to look fabulous.

So I kick sweaters to the side to get to more sweaters that likely should be replaced with new sweaters without pulls and pills… but right now what is important is spending quality time with my family, taking a breath to actually enjoy the holiday season, get our tree this weekend and take Emerson to see The Nutcracker. As long as I’m not going to the office naked, it will all be fine. And if you are in a similar boat as I… you too will be fine. The closet can wait, the memories cannot.

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The FoMO Closet

When I used to regularly perform closet makeovers, the most common issue I saw was women stockpiling clothing. They’d find a sweater they liked, and would purchase two in black, three in other colors, and often have a few still with tags on stored carefully for the time when the ones in rotation needed to be retired. They’d have ten pairs of jeans, all the same cut from the same designer. The entire closet would be the same exact silhouette of jacket, just in different prints and fabrics. Most of the time, such closets were often full of garments with tags still on and dust on the shoulders.

While buying in multiples can be quite sensible, a lot of times such stockpiling and over-buying is a waste of money and a killer of personal style. Women often do this because they find themselves hard to fit and shopping a stressful and unpleasant experience. By purchasing multiples, they feel they can shop less often and have a wardrobe full of pieces that fit and flatter. They fear that if they return to the mall they won’t have such success, so they stock it up.

FoMO, or Fear of Missing Out is a hot phrase these days, and usually used for people who seem to have a Smartphone surgically attached to their hand. But it can also be used for many clothing shoppers. Fear that your favorite company will discontinue that cut of jeans, that your signature lipstick color will be retired, that you will no longer be able to find that certain style of sweater that you love so much. Such fear, that you hoard pieces, even if they aren’t in your favorite color or quite the right fit, just because anything similar may end up no longer in existence.

Wikipedia’s Definition of FoMO

The thing is… fashion is fluid. What seems to be a “classic” in 1993 isn’t in 2003 or 2013. Not only that, your body is also fluid. No matter how many hours you put in at the gym, age and life experiences will change your figure. Finally… YOU are always changing. With life events, education, experience and exposure to new things your brain and personality and soul will change. When you force yourself into a very specific wardrobe and stockpile pieces, you’re actually making fashion more complicated and frustrating.

When I started this blog, almost my whole wardrobe was from Ann Taylor, J. Crew, and Banana Republic. I bought v-neck merino sweaters and wide-leg lined trousers with tab waistbands by the truckload because I felt they were classic, versatile, and flattering. Eight years later, I don’t own either type of garment because they just aren’t right. While such pieces can still fit and flatter, they seem too old, too dowdy for my current self. If I had stayed the same size, I likely would have stuck with those pieces instead of spending money on more and therefore missed out on truly honing my personal style.

Carolina Herrera is known for her crisp white shirts, but the details change to stay current and flattering.

Now I know many of you will bring up style icons who have uniforms – Carolina Herrera and her white shirts, Michael Kors and his black blazers with jeans and a crew tee shirt. The thing is that even these individuals with signature uniforms change it up with the years. The cut is slightly different, the wash on the denim may change or even the length to adjust the break. Classic pieces change ever so slightly from season to season – a turtleneck may be a bit taller or looser, a cuff may be more pronounced, a pencil skirt a tad more tapered, a heel width more narrow or the shape more curved.

Shopping is scary, no matter your age or figure. But insulating yourself with a bulging wardrobe of dated “classics” and not-quite-right-but-better-than-nothings isn’t any better of an existence. It’s more stylish to wear the same great outfit every day for a year than have months worth of ensembles that aren’t quite right and don’t give the right message.

I’m not saying purge your entire wardrobe, but realize you may have a FoMO closet. Take a serious look at your wardrobe – do you really need all of it? Does all of it fit and flatter the current you? What small steps and simple garments can take your current closet and make it feel fresh and stylish? Try on what you own, and stand in front of a full-length mirror with good lighting and be honest with yourself and your shopping habits. You may realize that some things are discontinued because they honestly aren’t that flattering or appropriate any more.

You can’t know who you are or what you want if you’re hidden under a FoMO wardrobe. Be it a closet full of tweed blazers and knee-length skirts or sequined cocktail dresses and leather leggings, shopping in such a manner will not help your style, your sanity, or your soul. It’s scary to let go, but you can’t fly if you never leave the nest.

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The Multiple Personality Closet

The ever-inspiring Une femme d’un certain age wrote a post on her blog about the two personalities in her closet. I think this is something many women deal with and find to be a fault as they seek out their personal style. The thing is, we women are complex creatures. We are not robots, we do not feel the same every day, look the same every day, or want the same things every day. While it is important to find your personal style, it is also important to realize that your style should support all aspects of your personality, and to do that rarely can you have one “personality” in your closet.

Une Femme has a very defined personal style – she knows herself, her life, her tastes and yet she admits, “There are two women sharing space in my closet. Both are actually me, which used to cause no end of consternation as I stumbled and bumped along toward that milepost known as Signature Style™. But I’m learning to make peace with this split style personality, and find balance and harmony between the two. Les deux femmes have arrived at a mutual understanding, and even step out together on a regular basis.”

I too have multiple personalities in my closet, and I find that with the beginning of each season those personalities become more defined, change rank, and sometimes move out to make room for a new tenant. However over the past decade, there are a few women who have kept residence in the penthouse suites of my wardrobe:

Rock-n-Roll Mama
This lady loves the color black, bold silver hardware, lots of leather, and tee shirts with the necks cut out. She’s heavy handed with the kohl liner and loves a shoe that can double as a weapon. She doesn’t feel that one can wear too many accessories and an exposed bra strap from time to time can be kinda sexy. She’ll mix a girly skirt with an old tank top and a leather jacket and finds her hair often looks best the morning after a late night out on the town.

Hippie Chick
This is the girl who attends music festivals and loves spinning to feel her skirts float around her ankles. She loves tie dye, batik prints, and patchwork. She finds cool accessories at festivals, craft shows, and on trips around the world – nothing is better than a garment or accessory with a story. She wears white cotton voile tunics with cutoff denim shorts, maxi dresses with flat sandals, an arm full of bangles, a cross body bag decorated with embroidery and/or fringe, and loves her hair best when it air dried and decided to do what makes it happy.

Madame Manager
This woman feels power with her pointed-toe pumps, pencil skirts, and silk blouses. She finds strength in classic pieces with a bold touch. She’ll wear jeans, but they will be paired with a blazer and heels. While she loves strong colors, she balances them with classic silhouettes and steers clear of prints (unless they are of the leopard variety). On weekends she likes Breton stripes, merino crew and boatneck sweaters in dark neutrals, dark crisp jeans, and heels. She loves a statement accessory, be it a bag in a bold color or a large sterling silver cuff. She feels best with sleek hair with lots of shine and control.

All three like the power and versatility of black and dark denim, how accessories can transform wardrobe staples into an intriguing ensemble, aviator sunglasses, and a fun shoe. All three have an aversion to pastels, feminine floral prints, and anything that binds or constricts the body. All three find her breasts to be one of her best assets and prefers hair that is long.

Thank you to Une Femme for this exercise, I found by defining the personalities in my closet, it made it clearer what my personal style is, and what pieces do not belong in my closet. This season, I plan on reminding myself of my three personalities to stay on track and not be swayed by trends. Now I ask you readers, do you find multiple personalities in your closet? Have you taken the time to define them, and have you found benefit in such and exercise? Who are the women in your wardrobe?

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Fashion Fantasy Closet Update

An update to this post about my fantasy fashion closet:

Wow, you all are AMAZING! Thanks to helpful comments, emails, and messages on my comment form I have already found some fabulous options for those pieces I desire in my closet… and some pieces I already own!

Sequined Peplum Top
I am still on this hunt for this. Will find one but its sleeveless, another and it doesn’t come in my size, another and the peplum seems to start up at my ribcage and make it look like a maternity top. Figuring I will have more luck as the season progresses and people start planning for holiday parties.

Olive Anorak-Style Jacket
So many of you suggested Kohl’s and I stopped by my local location and yes, this is the place to go for such a jacket. Unfortunately none of them were quite right for me – either a detail in the wrong place to emphasize the negative, or a strange fit on some part of me. However, just because it didn’t work for me doesn’t mean it won’t work for you – Kohl’s is a great source for such fashion with variety, decent style, and great prices! I will continue to look, and use reader Laurel’s suggestion of checking thrift stores, though the more I think about it, the less I think this type of jacket works with my winter wardrobe and maybe it’s fate telling me to hold off until spring.

Black Wedge Booties
Still searching!

Black Photography Dress
I ordered this dress from Lands’ End but can’t tell if it has pockets. If so, I am willing to alter it, change the color of the buttons to make it my new photography dress. If not, thanks to reader Bridget’s suggestion I may again try eShakti. I didn’t have the best experience with them, but if I use true measurements this time I may have success.

Black Photography Pants Ensemble
No luck so far on separates, but I did get this sweater from Ann Taylor which looks cute with my skinny black ponte pants and tall boots or with a regular-fit pant and flat shoes. Plenty of room for memory cards, a couple AA batteries and business cards!

Black Photography Shoes
Reader KP suggested this bootie from Franco Sarto, and I will have to try it to see how it works with my thicker ankles. But it’s a good idea to wear with pants. Reader Kiki Bee suggested the “Air Talia Lace” from Cole Haan, which could also be good but is sold out (though I may check my nearby Nordstrom Rack).  However, with her suggestion I found these Cole Haan wedges. I have two pairs of Cole Haan Air Talia shoes – high-heeled booties which are pretty comfy for such height and style, and sandals which I often wear for photography shoots in the summer.

White Cotton Shirt
Reader Sarah suggested Ann Taylor and a tailor; I have had success with Ann Taylor before with their silk shirts but haven’t bought any cotton ones. Will have to check out this season. Reader Nobodyssister suggested the Coldwater Creek No Iron collection. My last experience with Coldwater Creek was lackluster but I am willing to try again, especially with a positive review from a fellow busty lady! Reader KP reminded me of Eddie Bauer’s great shirts – I had one back when I worked retail and loved it – will have to go check them out again!

Pleated Leather Skirt
Reader Dawn informed me about Make Your Own Jeans.com, a site where you can… make your own jeans! Choose your style, your fabric, give them your measurements and you can get a custom pair of jeans at a reasonable price. While they carry jeans, they also have other custom pieces… such as pleated leather skirts! And for only $110! I haven’t tried out the site yet, but this gets me very excited!

Black Taffeta Party Skirt
I got this one off eBay (the circular style). I must admit I was nervous dropping the cash, but two of you said you bought one of these skirts and was pleased. While the “taffeta” is more like the acetate that one uses to line a skirt, it is quite perfect in style and looks more expensive once properly steamed and pressed. Since I was unfamiliar with the brand, I sized up with a 14 and it fits comfortably. Smooth waistband, not too full, hits below the knee and has pockets!

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So thank you THANK YOU for all of your suggestions! I’m getting there and with your help think I will be able to fill the holes currently in my closet!

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The Current State of the Closet

Every so often I like to give you a peek into my closet to see what I am working with, how I organize it. A lot has changed since the last time I did a detailed collection post – biggest thing is I have lost weight. Returning to a comfortable size, I am able to find more clothing that fits and flatters, and have begun to have fun with fashion again. While wearing bright colors fits my personality, it does mean a bit larger of a collection to have reasonable pairings and not look as though I am wearing the same ensemble every day.

My current closet:

The left side has skirts and dresses (the far corner has out of season dresses and some pieces that don’t yet fit but shouldn’t be stored in the attic):

The right side holds sweaters, shirts, and jackets:

As you can see in previous posts and the edges of these photos, I store purses and shoes on the shelves above my 2/3 of the closet, I have a canvas organizer to store my smaller bags and scarves, and then two racks to hold my belts.

As for my non-hanging clothing, I store them in three drawers in my bureau:

The first has my knits. I fold the tees in half, then the sleeves across the front. This makes the best use of the size of the drawer and it’s easy to flip through to find the tee I want. These are all “nicer” tees – ones I would wear to work or the weekend. I’d love to store all my sweaters in here, but there’s no room, so cardigans and novelty sweaters are in the closet.

The second holds my jeans and my bulky sweaters.

The bottom drawer is for my bum-around and workout clothes – yoga pants, hoodies, tee shirts, and then my super basic tanks (which do get weekend and work play but usually as a bottom layer).

A breakdown of my wardrobe:

Click to see larger.  Red means it needs to be replaced (too big, not good condition, etc.), gray means it is out of season (in the closet either because I think I may be able to make it work for cold weather or because it’s too delicate to go in the attic).AT-Ann Taylor, CK-Calvin Klein, S/S-Short sleeved, Slv-sleeve, ON-Old Navy, NYDJ-Not Your Daughter’s Jeans, B&W-Black and white

Things I am looking for to complete the collection for spring:

  • White jeans – the Kut from Kloth ones are too big
  • Tan shoes – I don’t want “nude” but not brown; something more like beige or tan, possibly with a wood heel
  • Another pair of pants – Thinking maybe navy, or possibly white if a heavyweight fabric
  • New knits – many of my knits are getting too worn or too big to be work-appropriate
  • Solid-colored dress – I’d love something with a feminine silhouette in a cheery color like magenta, purple, or even orange. Something I could wear to work but also dress up for a wedding or date night
  • Jeans – I am always on the search for jeans that fit and flatter! I only have one pair right now in indigo that fits properly and even they are getting to look a bit worn.

I don’t think I have had a closet this big since back when I worked retail, however everything in this closet are things I do actually wear regularly (except a couple jackets and dresses). It may not be the right collection for all, but it is one of the hardest working collection of clothes I have had in a long time!

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Current State of the Closet

A couple of months ago, a tree came through our closet. Since then, I have had my wardrobe in cardboard boxes around my bedroom, on a rolling rack in hour home office, and I have had a hard time finding anything. The roof was repaired, the skylight replaced with drywall, and I have been able to slowly get everything back in there. As a reminder, this is my last closet post… and here’s the current state of the closet:

I got some of those removeable hooks to hang the most regularly used bags right next to the closet door.  You can see I have a new box on the floor for my clothes that need to be repaired/dry cleaned/ironed.  The box is collapsable yet really sturdy – the Junque Trunk from Scout by Bungalow.  They have a huge variety of prints and sizes for any situation or location.

While everything is not nicely organized, at least everything is back into one place. 

The shoes I wear most often are in this storage shelving, the out of season and special occasion shoes are to the left.

I used to keep all my clutches in one of the drawers of this closet organizer, but having them out of sight made them out of mind.  I now have a few out on this shelf and find I use them more often.

I obviously still need to organize my larger bags – a few of these are still stained and damaged from the hurricane but I have yet to find a place I trust to do the repairs (and find a place that makes the repair cost worth it).  The cognac Junior Drake has white stuff on the other side – it seems baked into the finish and I can’t get it off without taking off the color.  The black J. Crew bag has the same white stuff all over it, and the white Banana Republic bag has gray streaks and a place where the finish scraped off. 

I also need to get a better storage system for my belts.  The large ring holds a lot of belts, but it sucks to have to yank off 10 belts to get to the one you want.  The classic belt/tie holder to the right I thought would work for smaller belts, but it can’t handle belt buckles.  I need to take a trip to The Container Store and find some better storage systems!

Obviously there is much more that needs to be done – proper organization and protection of my collection, I need some more slimline hangers, and need to get the damaged bags repaired.  But it is so wonderful to have everything back in one place, easy to find and easy to access!

Note: The Junque Trunk from Scout by Bungalow was sent to me as a gift from that company, I was able to choose the style and print of box and how I wanted to use it in my life.

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New Clothes at Allie’s Closet!

Stop by there are some really great pieces; I also am selling some unused beauty products that I had in my possession for more than 50% off the current price at stores and some jewelry!

Available are items from Banana Republic, Benefit, Pureology, J. Crew, Ann Taylor, Ann Taylor Loft and more!

If you have any questions, be sure to email me first. My goal is to send things out as soon as possible – usually if you order one day I will mail it out on the next business day!

Visit Allie’s Closet!

Fantasy Fashion Closet for Spring 2013

Last fall, I made a similar list and you all were quite helpful with finding some of the pieces. I also found creating such a post useful in that it helped me define my personal style for the upcoming season. To see all my wants together is very telling and helps me know what direction to go in with purchases, what to bring into my closet that season, and what to keep packed away for next year.

Full Skirt with Pockets. Lightweight cotton, proper waistband, hits just below the knee, full but not too full (like my Talbots skirt). In fact, I thought I found the perfect skirt, from Talbots, via eBay. It was supposedly yellow and the image made it look like a light springy mustard shade that I thought would look fantastic with navy and white striped tees, or a simple white tank and raffia belt. Nope, the color was more like pea soup or baby diaper. Not sure what to do with it, because it is a bit yellow (in that baby diaper sort of way), but not in a way I would want on my body (or anywhere else in my life). I don’t think dying it will give a good result, but I’m holding on until I find some creative way to make it fabulous. And until then, I am looking for a full skirt with pockets.

Crisp White Shirt. Wow, this seems to be on my list every season. Last year Foxcroft was kind enough to send me one, but it’s a bit too big and looks a bit sloppy when not knotted at the waist. I don’t want skin-tight, I just want a feminine fit that still closes properly at the bustline and is not transparent. Oh, and no chest pockets – I have enough going on up there.

Dark Ankle Jeans. I don’t want skinny, I don’t want bootcut, I want dark, saturated real denim with weight, a classic style, that hits at my ankles so I can wear them with flats. Easier said than done with my wide calves and solid thighs. Think I may need to get a pair tailored to work.

White Ankle Jeans. Same fit and weight as the dark denim, but in pure white with white seams and few details.

Maxi Wrap Dress. I have loved the DVF ones for a long time and recently saw this one on Style Pantry and now I crave one. Either black or green, or some fun print that can dress up and down. Do I need this? No, but this is a FANTASY closet!

Western Shirt. I have a chambray shirt that is well-loved, but would like a shirt that is a bit more fitted, and has snaps and Western seaming and details.

Short-sleeved Ponte Dress. I’d like something sort of like this dress I own, but not as deep of a neckline, a skirt that hits just below the knee, and has pockets. ASOS has a similar concept but no pockets and from ordering this ponte skirt from them I can bet right now that this dress will be too long in length and torso. If ASOS has Petite 10, I’d be all over it. As for color… black of course is great but would also love navy, a shade of green, maybe coral. Something I can dress up for work with a scarf and heeled sandals or wear on a weekend with leather thongs.

Beaded Flat Sandals. Many moons ago, I had the most perfect leather and beaded thong sandals. I got them from Victoria’s Secret, but they were from another brand. They fit my wide feet, were comfortable, and looked great peeking out of jeans or with sundresses. I wore them to death… and die they did in a stinky broken threads and missing beads death. A couple weeks ago I went into Ross and found some beaded sandals in an 8W for $12.99; I was wearing boots and socks so I didn’t try them on but bought them. They are… fine. They are faux leather and look like it and wrinkle strangely on top and I would just like a new pair like my old pair from ten years ago to pair with beat up jeans and that Western shirt.

Gauzy White Tunic. Feel the vibe going on here for spring? I want a white gauzy shirt with white embroidery on it, three-quarter sleeves that aren’t too fitted but aren’t batwing. A tad sheer, but not too sheer to wear with a nude tee shirt bra. Something that hits mid-hip, slits on the slides so it doesn’t hug the bum. Something to throw on with denim cutoffs or jeans, or even belt and wear with a maxi skirt.  In fact, I owned this very shirt in college and lost it, it was from Contempo Casuals and far cooler than the store name.

Wedge Sandals. I just ordered these from Sofft and they are too metallic. I’d like either a beige/tan color or a muted metallic that can work with dresses as well as jeans. Flats aren’t comfortable for me for long periods of time, and a slight wedge makes sandals more appropriate for the office. Nothing too high, straps not too skinny to dig into my toes, no slingback (I don’t have enough curve in my ankle to hold up the sling), no ankle strap, no fake laminate on the wedge to pretend it’s wood or cork (though real cork would be warmly welcomed), just a simple wedge sandal for spring.

Whether I buy these things is another story. Often when I actually start dressing for the season, I find some of these items not necessary or inappropriate for my life. However this is the direction I am going in for spring – a bit boho, a bit classic, a lot of solids in clear colors mixed with denim and neutrals and the accessories taking center stage.


What are you feeling for spring?

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Fighting Closet Fatigue – Winter to Spring Wardrobe Transition

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

spring 2015 fashion trends

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