Search Results for: label/old navy

The Perfect Summer Dress?

For me, every summer is spent in dresses. Breezy one-piece dressing is my jam, I wear bike shorts underneath for modesty and to prevent chub rub, throw on some sandals, maybe a necklace if I’m feeling fancy, and head out to the farmer’s market, to run errands, a cookout or most anything on my schedule. For work, I’ll top with a cardigan to adhere to dress code and battle the arctic breeze from the A/C.

But it’s hard to find such dresses. They’re too short, the neckline plunges too much, and more often than not they can’t be worn with a standard bra. So when I find one that fits the bill I get excited… and I of COURSE have to share it with you!

Old Navy Cross Front Dress

Meet my new summer dress, the Old Navy Cross-Front Dress. What makes it great:

  • Solids and prints available, and they are wearable classic colors and prints!
  • Knee-length and maxi length versions available
  • Regular, petite, and tall lengths (I bought the exact dress pictured above in Large Petite)
  • Straps that cover a standard bra in front, and in back
  • Front not too low (I did pin it closed, some may prefer a camisole)
  • Plenty of room for my bust
  • Machine washable (I did gentle cycle in a lingerie bag and hung to dry)
  • Faux wrap waistband so it won’t loosen
  • Lots of coverage in the wrap for modesty even on a windy day
  • Less than $40.00
  • Makes my curvy figure look great!

Have you tried this dress? What do you think? Have you found any perfect summer dresses, if so share with us in the comments!

Review: Petite and Tall at Old Navy!

Old Navy
When you are a woman of less than average size, there is nothing more frustrating than companies who swear they carry extended sizes but they just don’t fit.

As a petite woman, I hate when companies sell “short” lengths in trousers in jeans. The inseam usually is the right length, but nothing else about the pant is actually petite. Petite women are not the size of 5’7” women but with shorter legs; usually we have shorter torsos, a shorter space between belly button and crotch, our hips and thighs are thereby proportionally spaced on our body. A “short” pant usually gapes at the waist, goes past our belly buttons, bunches at the crotch and hips and just has a poor fit.

I have many tall friends who complain that “long” lengths are often not long enough, and if they are they are usually too short in the rise and too slim in the hip area. Again, a tall woman is usually not just an average sized woman with longer legs…

For tall and short women, other garments are also an issue. Jackets are the worst – not only are sleeve lengths wrong, so are the widths of shoulders and where the jacket is supposed to nip in at the waist. Petite women often look as though they are playing dress-up in their mother’s closets and tall women always look stuffed and uncomfortable in shrunken pieces. Dresses bunch at the waist on petite women, and often are an indecent length for tall ladies.

Well one of my favorite budget-friendly retailers has seen the light… and the fact that not all women have the same size torsos. Old Navy has come to the rescue with their new Petite and Tall lines for Women sizes 0-20!

The new lines have many pieces from their standard size line, just cut to fit a tall or petite woman. I had to check it out for myself.

Old Navy ponteSince I am pregnant, I knew I wouldn’t be able to accurately test out the petite cuts of dresses and shirts. However I knew with a belly band I would be able to see how a pair of trousers fit. I decided to test the line with their Stretch Ponte Mid-Rise Wide-Leg Trouser (see left). Ponte knit is one of my very favorite fabrics – easy care, can dress up while feeling as comfy as a pair of yoga pants, keeps its shape. I own a jacket of black ponte fabric and was thinking this could make a nice casual suit. Also a true test of a proper petite fit are how the pockets lie on the frame – these pants have side slash pockets and I wanted to see if they would gap, if they would be at a place that would be comfortable to actually use, and if they were fashioned well to lie flat.

As always, the order arrived from Old Navy promptly, well packaged without extra paper and stuffing. The pants were a medium weight of ponte fabric, unlined, acetate pocket linings, simple invisible seaming. Closure of a zipper, hidden button and two hooks for the waistband (which I love because it gives a very smooth flush finish under trim knit tops).

On, the pants really do fit like a true petite! The rise was shorter than regular trousers, hit just below the belly button, laid smooth over the bum and crotch. The length was perfect for my 5’3” frame with a kitten heel. And the pockets? Even with my belly bump they were smooth. They arrived basted shut (front and back pockets) which helped the pant come shipped smooth and then wear smooth.

The pants are machine washable; I washed them on the gentle cycle and had them hang to dry. This is how I clean my other ponte garments; it helps maintain good texture of the knit and the rich black color. After washing, the pants looked exactly the same. They didn’t pill, didn’t fade, didn’t stretch out. I compared them to a $65 pair of ponte pants from a different company and they looked to be of equal quality fabric, and equal construction.

Oh my goodness, budget-friendly petite clothing that is truly fit for a petite woman? Old Navy has produced Fashion Nirvana!

Old Navy’s Tall line is made specifically for women over 5’10”. There is an extra half-inch in the shoulders, longer sleeves, longer length in tops, lower waist position for tops and dresses, a nice longer rise, a full 36” inseam, and proper shaping to fit a woman’s figure.

Old Navy’s Petite line is specifically for women under 5’4”. The garments have narrowed shoulders and higher arm openings (yay for properly covered bras!). Sleeves are shorter, hips and waist are more narrow than the classic, fit, pieces have a shorter rise and there’s a lovely 29.5” inseam for truly petite ladies.

The Old Navy Petite and Tall lines are available exclusively online.

You can see the ponte pants on me at my other blog, My Wardrobe Today. Do know they don’t fit as usual due to being 26 weeks pregnant. :)

Budget-friendly Fave – Old Navy Vintage Tee

This weekend my husband caught a bug so I took Emerson to a nearby strip mall to keep her entertained and have the house quiet so Karl could sleep. We grabbed a snack at Starbucks, went to say hi to the animals at PetSmart, and went into Old Navy. I only planned on checking out the clearance rack for Emerson, possibly grabbing a pair of shorts or pajamas, but we walked through the women’s department and they had a table full of perfectly-heathered and worn vintage tees.

While these shirts came in a variety of necklines, I was drawn to the v-neck. Without trying it on, I grabbed one in a heathered purpley blue (not online). I bought a Large; though the Medium may have worked, I figured such a tee would be better too large than too small. I got home, tried it on, and fell in love.

The heathering is perfect – not too extreme, a true vintage look and feel. The shirt is soft and weathered, but completely opaque. the v-neck is deep enough to look feminine, but high enough to not expose too much. It’s fitted, but not too fitted, the perfect length where you could tuck it in, or slouch it on the hips untucked. I had a hard time choosing a color as almost all of them look pretty darn fabulous and classic. This weekend I wore the tee with a pair of denim cutoffs, after washing and drying (it shrank only slightly but otherwise looks the same), I wore it again today untucked with white bootcut jeans, silver beaded necklaces and yellow heeled sandals. I can see wearing it with my Talbots Garden skirt and a wristful of colorful bangles, with a white blazer and distressed jeans, with a hot pink pleated skirt and a printed scarf at the throat. It’s the type of tee that usually costs $80 at the department store, but right now at Old Navy it’s on sale for $8.50.

There are some negative reviews, so I believe that like other retailers, the quality is based upon the factory where the tee was made. I can recall when I worked for Express I preferred their Metro tees made in the Mariana Islands for they had the right weight and amount of stretch compared to supposedly the same tees made in other countries. The tee I am wearing and loving is made in Vietnam.

When I find a budget-friendly fave, I just have to share it with you. The next time you visit Old Navy, check out their vintage v-neck tees – while the blue and medium gray are classics, don’t discount the dark pink, light purple or yellow for a subtle pop of color that can dress up and down with ease and may possibly become your favorite tee in your wardrobe!

Beautiful jewelry such as an art deco bracelet and more.

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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.

Spring Wardrobe Additions

Now that the cast is off and the swelling has gone down, I can finally get into the spring fashion spirit! Here’s a few things I have recently purchased and like very much:

1. Well all know my adoration for stripes; when I saw this shirt at J. Crew Factory was only $21 I had to try it. I love the fit, the shape, the fabric, everything. It’s tempting to get it in gray as well!

2. I don’t ever shop Walmart, but I was on vacation in a small town where it was the only place to go to get a pair of shorts for Emerson. While there, I found these shorts by Faded Glory for $12.94 and I must say they’re pretty great. Good length that is comfortable yet not dowdy, a bit of stretch so they’re flexible but also keep their shape, and a nice non-dorky wash. Totally got rid of the cheesy neon skinny belt and will likely do an at-home distressing on them, but not too shabby. As with any shorts, I went a size up for a better fit.

3. I don’t own this EXACT shirt from Boden, but unfortunately the one I got is no longer on the site. This shirt featured is the Eliza Top, and I own the Eliza, but in a cerulean and navy stripe (yep MORE stripes!). I absolutely positively LOVE this shirt; I love silk but hate washing it (this shirt is machine washable); I like ¾ and bracelet-length sleeves now to protect my scar but stay breezy (this shirt has it), and I love a top that is casual like a tee but can dress up for work (wearing it right now with a pair of trousers and pumps, looks great tucked into a pencil skirt, and this weekend wore with boyfriend jeans). The Eliza Top from Boden is a regular in their collection and a great addition to many wardrobes!

4. I now own five pairs of Nine West’s Flax pump (black, natural, silver, peacock print, red and black spotted haircalf). I know that seems a bit insane, but it’s a pretty perfect shoe. Single sole, pointed toe, walkable heel height, and a nice price. I’ve been wanting a “nude” leather pointed toe pump for over a year, but find each pair is too pale, too dark, too pink, too something for me. The Flax’s Natural Leather is a pretty perfect shade for me, and I love having a shoe that looks great with both pants and skirts.

5. Another silky shirt with an in-between sleeve length! This is the Sophie Blouse from Dobbin Clothing, and while it has the same basics I like from the Boden Eliza Top, it gives a completely different effect thanks to the details. Slightly crinkled silk, gold buttons down the front, and blousy sleeves. The color makes it work with black, brown, ivory, and denim quite nicely. I often wear this blouse untucked with dark wash narrow jeans, but also wear to work tucked into ivory tropical wool trousers.

6. I mentioned my desire for delicate gold this spring, and I am still loving my Rebecca Minkoff cuff; I also picked up this dangly but not too jingly bracelet from Nordstrom for $24; it doesn’t look cheapy, it’s stretchy and doesn’t get in the way when I type.

7. This Panama hat is only $17 from J. Crew Factory. Runs a bit wide, but I like that because I can twist up my hair and tuck it in the brim to keep my neck cool (or hide bad hair).

8. Me and my Lifetherapy bracelets – it’s an addiction! I love turquoise, I have a few bracelets from the company in blue (see here) so it brightens up my current collection, and this one has an Aquarius symbol! I like that these bracelets are just one long cord; I’ve been known to also wear them as a long necklace with tanks in the summer!

9. Seriously, the Converse Shorelines are my jam! I’ve missed having casual tennis shoes for spring and summer, and these are so easy to slip on, no heel blisters, and no looking as though I’m wearing shoeboxes on my already chubby feet.

10. Linen always looks like such a mess on me.  Well this spring I’ve given up being crisp, and have embraced the casual wrinkled-ness of linen.  My J.Jill white linen big shirt is great knotted over distressed jeans, and these pants (the Julie fit from LOFT) I love with a simple cotton knit sweater, silk blouse, or with a denim shirt.  

***

Outfit posts have been few and far between because it was slow and difficult getting dressed with the arm, and honestly pretty depressing. I gained weight and lost muscle being so sedentary during my time on disability, and just putting on a tee shirt could leave me in tears. And then, much of my wardrobe didn’t work with the cast, only having one arm to put myself together after using the bathroom, the stiff swollen arm and all that jazz. But I feel SO much better, have much more flexibility and less swelling and am feeling like myself again. So stay tuned, for actual posts of me wearing these new pieces!

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What I Wore: Bandana Badass

Tee: Leith | Jacket: ASOS (similar) | Bandana: Vision Street Wear (similar) | Jeans: Gap | Shoes: Vince Camuto

The bandana is back this season, and it gives me an opportunity to pull out some oldies but goodies like this one from Vision Street Wear. It’s always fun to take something old from the wardrobe and give it a new life with new trends.

Though my cast is off, my arm is still healing and my hand isn’t strong enough to perform many daily tasks.  Clothing is still best when it’s a bit loose, but I’m liking jackets because they cover the still healing scar and provide some protection.  Adding the jacket and the bandana make me feel less like an invalid and more like a badass!

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In the Navy

Dress: Coldwater Creek c/o Gwynnie Bee | Necklace: Boutique in Key West | Shoes: Sofft | Bracelets: Silver cuff, c/o Lifetherapy | Rings: Vintage, Had for Years, Argento Vivo

This weather sucks – it’s like soup and so thick and humid that when there’s a cool breeze it feels like the chills you get when you have a fever. That being said, it’s doing some super fun things to my hair. I have hardly been washing it; once a week I will wash the scalp with shampoo, and once a week or when needed I will wash with conditioner only, but otherwise it’s surf spray and the occasional dry shampoo and scrunching. I like the crazy mop mess, and wish it would do this year-round!

Another Gwynnie Bee winner. This is not my kind of dress, I don’t like sleeves like this, I don’t love the color, but with Gwynnie Bee it’s okay because I can wear it once, send it back and get something else. And while it’s not something I would buy and keep in my closet for years, it is something I like wearing today. Stretchy navy lining doesn’t ride up and keeps everything opaque, a long self-belt I could have tied in a bow but instead doubled to make it shorter, and a breezy style that will do its best to keep me cool (and a fabric that won’t look a mess in the heat). It’s a win in my book and a true example of Gwynnie Bee – clothing without commitment! If you’re 10-26 and would like to try Gwynnie Bee yourself, use this link or mention Wardrobe Oxygen and get a 30 day trial free. They have some fab brands and styles to choose from and the selection is constantly growing!

Note: If you use my specific link or mention me when signing up for Gwynnie Bee, I will receive a commission if you extend past the 30-day trial. However, I really dig Gwynnie Bee and wear clothes from them because I like them and the company and am proud to share them with you.

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An Old Favorite

Dress: Vince Camuto (similar) | Belt: HOBO Bags (similar) | Shoes: Mootsies Tootsies

It’s funny, when I first wore this dress I didn’t like it.  It felt too much – too much fabric, the mullet skirt, the bold color.  Now it has become a favorite because while it looks polished it’s super duper comfortable and easy.  It’s easy to switch up the look and level of formality with a change of accessories.  I’ve worn it before with a wide belt, and I like it equally well with strappy heels or pumps.

Speaking of pumps, on Sunday I was perusing 6pm.com (those of you who follow on Facebook know since I kept posting really awesome deals from their Cinco de Mayo sale) to find shoes for K and E. Found nothing for them, was ready to sign out and saw these for $25. I have had no luck with nude shoes the past few springs, figured for such a price I could try and if they sucked, could return or sell on eBay. Well they’re super close to my skintone, they’re comfortable, and a reasonable heel height. While I really wanted pointy for a more classic look and to look better with pants, the round toe is fun and not too twee and gives my toes more wiggle room.

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What I Wore: In the Navy

Wardrobe Oxygen What I Wore #SoleSociety Wardrobe Oxygen What I Wore Navy and White Wardrobe Oxygen What I Wore Sole Society Suede Pumps Jacket: Lauren Ralph Lauren (thrifted – similar) | Tank: Boden | Jeans: NYDJ | Bag: c/o Fossil | Watch: Citizen | Shoes: ‘Ena‘ c/o Sole Society

I’ve been hearing about Sole Society for a while and admired their shoes but didn’t know much about the brand or its quality. So when Sole Society contacted me and offered to send me a pair of their shoes to try out, I was pretty excited. While Sole Society has many fun and fashionable styles, I wanted to try a more classic pair that could work at the office. I chose the ‘Ena’ pump; a 2.5″ heel shoe with a pointed toe and bow detail. While it comes in a black and white tweed and mushroom colored suede, I chose navy suede as it is becoming more and more a prominent color in my wardrobe.  I ordered an 8, my regular size and found it to fit like most department store brands of shoes, both in width as well as length.

sole society ena suede pump navy

For this outfit, I styled the Ena Suede Pump in more of a Casual Friday look with dark denim and a navy blazer, but have also worn the pumps with a simple sheath dress and with ivory trousers and a silk tee.  Sole Society is known for high quality shoes, bags, and accessories at amazing prices and these pumps do not disappoint. I think the quality and style rival brands that would sell a similar shoe at twice the price. I also have to say that from the blog end of things, it has been a pleasure working with the people of Sole Society, they’re super nice, personable, and passionate about their brand.  All that and they have a referral program where you can earn a $25 credit for referring friends to Sole Society!

Have you shopped with Sole Society before?  What do you think of the brand?

What I Wore: Old School Allie

wardrobe oxygen what I wore Red Fossil Leather Erin Satchel wardrobe oxygen what i wore fossil red leather bag wardrobe oxygen what I wore ann taylor stripe tee loft pants fossil bag
Tee: Ann Taylor | Pants: LOFT | Scarf: Liberty London (similar) | Bag: c/o Fossil (similar) | Watch: Citizen | Bracelets: Nordstrom, Rebecca Minkoff (similar) | Shoes: Cole Haan (similar)

I wore this outfit last week to work and I felt very Classic Allie. My sister bought me this scarf a few years ago when she visited London and I love pairing it with stripes. And well, we all know I love stripes! I put away laundry this weekend and was floored how I have a drawer of almost all striped tees, but I wear them all and they all have different purposes, fits, and colors. This one I recently picked up at Ann Taylor; I like the notched hem and leather elbow patches which makes it look a bit more polished than a traditional tee, and I liked the sale price!

What I Wore: Maybe Navy

Shell: LOFT (have simple knit tank underneath for opacity) | Pants: LOFT | Belt: HOBO (similar) | Shoes: Nine West | Bracelet: Rebecca Minkoff | Watch: Citizen | Lipstick: Revlon Matte in Really Red

I feel as though every outfit post recently is about how I break rules! With my figure, rules say I should wear sleeves, I should wear a top untucked, and have shoes the same color as my trousers to make me look taller and leaner. Well the weather’s getting warmer and I think it’s ridiculous for women to have to sweat and hide their arms just because they’re not as thin or toned as society thinks they should be. And honestly, I have this body whether or not I tuck in my top, I’d rather look polished than pretend to hide anything.

I’m so happy that navy is back in the stores, I’m really enjoying it and have been mixing it with a lot of white, tan, coral, and pink. I bought this belt a HOBO sample sale for a couple bucks and I don’t know if I wore before, but with my growing navy wardrobe, it’s getting some play. This top is just a lace shell so I can dress it up like this for my Business Casual office, but it’s also cute with a white tank and a pair of denim cutoffs for the weekend!

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Tuesday: Old and New

Top: Ann Taylor | Skirt: Ann Taylor (similar) | Tights: Nordstrom | Shoes: VC Signature | Necklace: Stella and Dot c/o Kristin Biggs (similar) | Coat: Betsey Johnson

I don’t believe in purchasing an item to wear for just one season. Even if you consign or sell, it’s still a loss of money and it makes it more difficult to hone your personal style. I purchased this skirt from Ann Taylor last fall and love how I can give it a fresh look with Fall 2012 trends of a peplum and cap-toe shoes. Mix a little new with the older pieces in your closet and they get a whole new life!

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Ask Allie: Styling Navy with Black

I love back and navy together, but how do you wear them together? I try and I look messy. I wear mostly black, white and gray but my hair is going gray and I think navy would be a better choice than gray for me now. I like a classic look, no crazy clothes too young or trendy but not frumpy either.

You’re a gal after my own heart. Navy and black is one of my favorite fashion color combinations, and I have been wearing far more of it as of late. What’s great is the apparel world is also in love with this pairing, so it’s easy to find not just navy or black pieces, but garments that incorporate both colors together.

Here’s a few tips to make navy and black look purposeful together, not messy:

  1. Choose pieces that incorporate both colors. As I mentioned above, retailers are embracing this color combination trend, so it’s easy to find pieces with both navy and black. Adding such a piece to your outfit makes the pairing cohesive and purposeful. Pair a navy and black striped tee with a black pencil skirt or a pair of navy trousers for a quick yet chic look, consider a skirt that has both colors in the print to pair with solids and other prints.
  2. Introduce texture and luxe fabrics. When it comes to colors that are very similar, it’s a great idea to use fabric to add even more contrast. A navy leather skirt will be a stronger contrast to a black sweater than a skirt of knit, a silk blouse catches the light in a different manner from cotton which will add contrast, a navy tweed jacket over a black dress looks more purposeful than standard suiting fabrics.
  3. Use a third color for contrast. You mentioned white, and that is a perfect color to add to navy and black. White is such a strong contrast to these colors, it will emphasize the difference between navy and black. A crisp white shirt under a navy dress with black tights, a white striped knit under a black or navy cardigan, white jeans with a navy and black top and jacket.
  4. Add an accent print. You all know I love using leopard as a neutral! Leopard or cheetah is a great contrast print for navy and black because it’s warm and light to navy and black’s cool darkness. Add a leopard print calfhair skinny belt or cheetah print silk scarf for contrast and to define the difference between black and navy.
  5. Create a long line. Don’t go too crazy with the navy and black combination; if you have a navy dress, black tights, and navy shoes it will look messy. A safe bet is matching your shoes to your hosiery or pants for a clean long line. Black shoes are more versatile and more likely to match other blacks in your wardrobe. Unless it’s a print or statement shoe, I don’t recommend investing in navy footwear until you have a firm grasp on mixing these colors.
Click to enlarge and see possible ensembles for the capsule above; jeans were not included because they’re simpler to style.  For exact pieces in the capsule wardrobe, please visit my Polyvore account.

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Ask Allie: Styling a Navy Blazer

I recently graduated from university and have started job hunting and I realized that I don’t have much clothing that is very appropriate for interviews. I have a navy blazer that I sometimes wear with jeans for going out, but I don’t know what I can wear it with besides jeans. Do you have any ideas for a navy blazer that are more work-appropriate once I have the job?

Considering your navy blazer looks great with jeans, I am going to assume it’s a classic style (one or two buttons, single-breasted, hits mid-hip) and of a versatile fabric that can dress up and down nicely. Something like the ‘Ela’ blazer for Halogen, available at Nordstrom.

Navy looks fresh with white, cream, and ivory. I paired a navy blazer with cream flat-front trousers and a silky blouse. This combination could be done with most any color blouse, from pastels to brights to another neutral (or the same color as the pants for a long line). With such color combinations it can be hard to figure out what shoes to wear; in such a situation I regularly fall back on a leopard or printed shoe. Having such a shoe in your wardrobe means it will work with navy, black, brown, or other neutrals and it adds a pop of interest to your look. Gold jewelry pulls the look together and adds interest.

A blazer’s tailored cut looks great with a pencil skirt. With navy you can actually get quite creative pairing it with pastels, neutrals, or jewel tones. For this look I considered what is easy to find in many retailers and at many pricepoints – a gray pencil skirt. Gray is a color that works year round, and is as versatile as navy, meaning it is a good choice to add to a new professional’s wardrobe. I added a pale pink blouse, but really any color would work in this situation. Again shoes can be hard to match in such a situation so consider this a great time to wear your more interesting shoes. A snakeskin pump that incorporates a few different colors (I was thinking of my Joan & David pumps when creating this ensemble) becomes a neutral with such a simple ensemble but also adds personality to your look.

A navy blazer is a classic, showcase it with classic pieces. A pair of camel trousers is great to have in your professional wardrobe because it works with other neutrals as well as pastels and deep shades like dark red and teal. With a thin gray turtleneck sweater, the look is elegant and classic. This is another type of outfit that works with a statement shoe; you could do leopard or a snakeskin, but I decided to use footwear for a pop of color. A dark red suede pump is fun without being too crazy for the office; with a fresh face a swipe of dark red lipstick isn’t too extreme and pulls the look together.

Navy seems like a tricky color, but these days old style rules are being broken left and right, which makes navy more versatile. I love the combination of navy with black, it’s an unexpected pairing that looks quite sophisticated. The key is to make it look purposeful and not as though you dressed in the dark and thought black and navy were the same hue. I think a navy blazer over a black dress with black tights and shoes is a chic office look. I decided to have fun with the color combination, putting the navy blazer with a black skirt and a black and white striped tee. With so much black, the navy will look more blue and work as an accent color; the printed scarf will tie it all together. This ensemble also shows how a pleated skirt (soft pleats or a drop waist/kilt style) works great with a blazer. Keep the skirt at the knee or just above so it doesn’t look dowdy.

For details on the pieces used in the collages, please visit my Polyvore account

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What I Wore: Navy and Black

Sweatshirt dress: Leith | Fleece tights: Amazon | Boots: Ros Hommerson | Bag: Rough & Tumble | Coat: Lands’ End (similar) | Gloves: Nordstrom (similar) | Scarf: c/o Her Fashion Box

With the weather this frigid, my priority is not to look fun or fashionable at work, just to be warm. My desk is surrounded by windows which makes for a sunny workplace, but I’m regularly chilly. No meetings today, so a fleecy-on-the-inside sweatshirt dress with fleece tights. So perfect, I’m rewearing the same darn look from Saturday (see Instagram).  I’ve always loved navy with black and am so happy to see that this combo is being embraced on the runways and the retail stores.

The bag is new, a gift I gave myself for my birthday.  I’ve been trying to shop small, local, with more thought and Etsy is a great place to find such businesses.  I came across Rough & Tumble Bags and fell in love.  Made in Norway, Maine by Natasha Durham, Rough & Tumble Bags are high quality leather, crafted with care, smart, chic, but trend-free.  I’ve always preferred a bag that doesn’t scream a logo, a fashion trend, a designer.  A bag that I can carry now and a decade from now.  I think this bag does just that.  My black leather hobo from Sabina was bought on clearance at a very nice price, it’s a nice bag, but it’s not quite perfect.  I dreamed of a black leather bag with shiny silver hardware that could be a crossbody or a shoulder bag, zip close, be big enough to be my purse for a long flight holding all my essentials, but be a comfortable everyday purse.  A bag that will get worn over the years, but that weathering will just add character.

This is the Rough & Tumble Large Hobo Pack; it’s a shoulder bag, a crossbody, even a backpack.  It zips close with a clean pocket-free exterior, but inside is where the magic happens.  A pocket for an 11″ laptop, a large size zipper pocket like most bags but with a smaller pocket inside, a pocket for your iPhone, a pocket for your passport, a pocket for your business cards, a couple other pockets for other things, a removeable keyfob, a light colored lining so you can find all your stuff.  And with a quick switch this bag can become a backpack, which is awesome for travel!  All this, and the price is far less than what you would pay for a mass retail bag of a similar size and quality, made in the USA, supporting a woman business owner.

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Thursday: Going Old School

Shirt: Target (similar)
Jeans: Gap
Shoes: Ivanka Trump
Bracelets: Nordstrom, Ann Taylor, Lauren Ralph Lauren, c/o Soft Surroundings
Earrings: Filene’s Basement (similar)
Bag: Sabina (similar)

My company moved offices a couple weeks ago and one of the many perks of our new location is a modern bathroom… with a full-length mirror! I had to be at work at 7am this morning so no fancy photos from my husband. Figured I might as well take advantage of an empty bathroom with good lighting!

If you can’t tell, I woke up and thought it was Friday. I knew I had a lunch to celebrate a coworker’s pregnancy, and somehow that got me in a Friday denim frame of mind. Good thing I didn’t have any client meetings on the books today!

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Thursday: An Old Favorite

Dress: Maggy London
Cardigan: Only Mine (similar)
Belt: Lauren Ralph Lauren
Shoes: Nine West (similar)
Bag: LOFT (similar)

I don’t usually wear the same exact outfit twice on this blog, but I wore this same look last year. Today I had a few meetings and wanted to have a professional yet still personable look and felt this fit the bill. I love this dress, it looks great on its own, sometimes I pair with a skinny orange belt, and it has pockets! Sorry Misty, I still love this dress but do know if I do decide to get rid of it it’s all yours!

Tomorrow I am leaving with the women of the family (my mom, sister and Emerson) for our annual Rehoboth Beach weekend. I’ll be sure to do a recap when I return!

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The Return of an Old Friend

I guess everything does come back in style if you wait long enough.

Anyone remember Generra? Hot brand of the 1980s most famous for creating the much loved Hypercolor shirts. I remember Generra well; my family was too poor for name brands and I found a yellow canvas pullover with lots of grommets and drawstrings and New Wave embellishments at a yard sale for 75 cents. Though yellow has never been my color and the top was at least two sizes too big, I wore that thing every week because I owned a popular label.

Generra, Outback Red, Benneton, Esprit, Guess?, Forenza… brands that were as much a necessity to a young girl in the 80s as a Liz Claiborne purse and matching wallet. How is it that brands like these that were such a hot commodity ended up being fodder for discount superstores and cheesy mail order fashion catalogs? Who decides when a brand is hot, or when it is not?

Many of these oldies yet goodies have tried to make a comeback. Heck it works for hair bands, why not for the clothes that complimented the Aqua Net? Gloria Vanderbilt and Jordache had their fifteen minutes of fame a couple of seasons ago. We saw the return of jelly shoes, clear vinyl bags, high waists, neon colors, even mullets.

But Generra? They aren’t having just fifteen minutes of campy fame. They are back, and they are far better than ever. Every hot boutique online and in town has a few of their pieces, there is even an in-store Generra boutique at Henri Bendel. This isn’t a flash in the pan, Generra has slowing been taking over the past couple of years, being seen on the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Hudson, Alexandra and Theodora Richards and also having their moment at New York Fashion Week 2007.

I like it when brands make a comeback. I may not purchase Lacoste, Burberry, Generra or Le Tigre, but I admire their tenacity and impressive marketing skills. I find Generra’s new line to be a bit too utilitarian for my tastes, both in cut and color; but am excited to see an old friend back up on the runway. Now I just need to dig through my mom’s attic to see if I can find that yellow canvas pullover with the grommets…

The Three-year Old Blush

Often we hate to spend when it comes to our looks. We are told even in beauty magazines that there are “steal” items that are equivalents to “splurge” pieces. Have you ever looked closely at those “Splurge vs. Steal” pages? More often than not, the cheaper item LOOKS cheaper.

This is not to say that you must pay top dollar to get quality. The point is that there is no reason to buy a cheap version of an expensive item; just buy a different item. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattering, but really imitation style is just that… an imitation and not the real thing. If you can only afford $30 for jeans, then buy the nicest, best-fitting and most flattering $30 jeans you can find. Embroidery, bedazzlement and appliqué will not make those $30 jeans look as though they are worth $230; they will just make your $30 jeans look cheap. Simplicity is key in one seeing style and not price tags.

That being said, there is something for saving up to buy good quality. Shown here are photographs of my beloved Nars blush in the shade of Orgasm. This is a blush that is raved about in every beauty magazine, and is always mentioned as being in the makeup bags of celebrities and fashionistas. I found it ridiculous to pay $25 for a BLUSH! I had perfectly lovely blushes I had bought from drugstores that gave me enough color to not resemble a corpse. Why in the world would I pay that much for such an unimportant makeup piece?

My 30th birthday rolled around. I felt the need to treat myself. I went on a mini-shopping spree at Sephora and bought this blush, a Shu Uemura lash curler (also often raved about in mags) and an expensive mascara. Why not use a new decade to see what the hype is all about.

Over two years later, here is the very same Nars Orgasm blush. No point in taking a picture of the lash curler, because it looks the same after two years of rigorous use (it too was worth the $ and the mascara was nice too). My point in showing this battered and beaten blush is that quality is really worth it. How many people can admit that after two years of almost daily wear, travel across the country and overseas, their blush is still in one piece and still has product left to use? My discount blushes often are crumbled or used up after six months, but this one has probably another year of life left in it. The lid may have broken off, but the mirror is still intact. The metal may be showing, but there is still plenty of great product left. And the color? The peachy-pink with just a hint of sparkle makes me look healthy without flushed, glowing without looking disco, and on the first day of wear was asked twice if I had lost weight.

$25. For you this may be dinner out with a friend, a new little top for Friday night, a couple drinks at happy hour, fresh flowers for your home. Excluding necessities in your life, think about the times that $25 has been spent… and then forgotten. Think of how you picked up a magazine, a candy bar and a new foundation that you really don’t need but saw in an ad and it’s on sale all within one grocery trip. Think of how you again forgot to pack your lunch and this is Day 3 that you are hitting up Subway instead of eating the food in your pantry. Think of how you don’t really need a new pair of shoes but your boss was a jerk today and Payless is right next to the bank and well they are only $22.99 so what’s the harm. Then think about how you don’t have the money for a haircut, a well-fitting pair of trousers or a blush that may make you look fresh, rested and really YOU.

Think about HOW you spend your money. Add up those Starbucks drinks, those snacks with your gas fill-up, your lunches on the run, your $9.99 tees from Target that are really pretty colors but just stacked up with your many other tees. Think of how many blushes you have bought below $10 and then have tossed because they weren’t right. You may be surprised at how much money you are spending on nothing.

This is not an advertisement for Nars, and really this color may be dreadful on your complexion. The point of this article is to really examine your life, your spending habits and your priorities. We often buy cheap in hopes that it looks expensive, we often buy disposable to fulfill a craving and not a need. We often complain about no money, forgetting about our eBay obsession or daily stop at Starbucks.

Try spending at least a week journaling all that you spend. When you go to the grocery store, go with a list and stick to it. Try shopping from your pantry and closet before heading to the mall or market. Consider dinner in – use the good china and light a few candles in place of a restaurant; it’s amazing how candles can make even spaghetti seem elegant. Take your lunch to work and if you are prone to hitting the vending machine at 3:30, prepare with a few snacks at your desk. The next time you are at Target and Wal-Mart buy what brought you there, and nothing more. Do not enter a store unless you have an agenda – stop using retail therapy as a social activity. You will be amazed at how much you buy that you didn’t even realize you picked up. You’ll soon see a little more money in your bank account, and after a month or so, the cravings for consumerism will diminish. Meals out will be treats, clothing bought will be necessary and perfect for your style, figure and needs and you just may have the money to invest in a great blush that will give you three years of happiness.

The Old Denim Jacket

I usually do not buy overly trendy items. Didn’t get Uggs, no ponchos, no CK Jeans tees, or Bebe rhinestoned jeans. Nary a Louis Vuitton or faux LV purse in my closet. However when the puffed sleeve look was in a few years ago, I bought a jacket. It was just too cute.

About a year ago, I realized it seemed dated to wear the jacket any longer. It was obviously a past trend. However this season’s Romanian and Czarian inspired jackets lets the puffed sleeve a a few more days in the sun without looking passe. As that it is almost time for the holidays and my thoughts are places other than in my wardrobe, I am pulling from the back of the closet for some oldies yet goodies to get me by until Christmas.

Denim jacket with epaulets and puffed sleeves from The Limited. Bought in…. I am guessing Winter 2002 based on which Limited I bought it in/what mall I was working in. Under it is my red-orange silk knit scoop neck shell from Banana Republic bought this past summer. Black trousers from Ann Taylor in a suiting fabric. Black pointy boots from Enzo. Silver hoops and cuff.

On face is Bare Escentuals as usual, only bronzer (Almay) for blush. Taupe shadow from the Bosy Shop on lids, a bit of the brown Maybelline brow powder in the crease and around lash line for shadow. Black mascara. That Origins bronze lip balm on lips.

Hair is being very cooperative, though it may not look it in the second picture. My stylist once told me I over wash my hair. I should only wash it a max of every other day. I am the type with dry ends and oily scalp so that sounded just disgusting to me. He told me to rinse my hair on the non-shampoo day and use conditioner only – the conditioner would get rid of the bad oils and keep the good ones.

Since I got highlights I have been using Halo shampoo and conditioner. My stylist recommended it and it was on sale.  I find the conditioner to be very thin and milky, yet very hydrating. Washing with just it this morning left my hair bouncy, soft and quite manageable. I used my new VO5 mousse, my Sexy Straight Hair Power Straight, and my cheapo Conair dryer with a cheapo Conair round boarhair brush to get it straight, but full of body with some cute piecey effects. Yay!