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Online Shopping

I am a huge fan of online shopping. I work a lot, I have a home and family to care for, and really, malls often frustrate me. I head to malls at least once a season to really touch, feel and try on the new fashions, but often head back to my computer for many of my purchases. Shopping online, you have more variety, often times better prices and what is better than surfing the ‘net, looking at beautiful clothes and accessories at work between tasks?

Many of you readers have told me your favorite online shops. I try to update the sidebar as I receive new links for online shopping. I have most recently updated the links for fuller figured women’s clothing. Unlike many malls where you have department stores and 1-3 stores geared toward clothing over a size 14, the internet has tons of sites geared toward all shapes, curves, sizes and heights. As a woman who comes from a family of curvy women – very tall on my father’s side and quite petite on the other, I am happy to see that there are so many options for women on the internet. Plus size AND petite? What a wonderful concept! Not dressing a woman over a size 12 in a mu-mu? Fabuloso!

As you find gems of online boutiques, do let me know in a comment or email. I would love to offer reader-tested shops for those who are not exactly 5’7” and a size 4 with medium-width size 8 feet and a perfect B-cup chest. Tall? Petite? Narrow feet? Large breasts? Long torso? Where have you had success online? Let’s share our fashion successes! I will soon be updating this page to make it more reader-friendly and link-friendly. Would love to update it with many great sites!

Online Addictions

One thing with being pregnant and then being on bed rest… your laptop becomes your dearest friend.

Yes, it is great to IM with friends, visit Facebook and see what is up with old classmates, chat on message boards and check email… but the shopping it totally heavenly.

I started Christmas shopping in July because I knew as I got closer to the holidays I wouldn’t have the mind or the time to shop. At least 80% of my shopping was done online- better prices, better variety and usually I could get free shipping, or at least a kick-back from Ebates to balance the shipping fee.

Well it expanded – the only maternity clothes I purchased in an actual brick and mortar store were a pair of pants from Target. Everything else was online. For the baby – we decided to cloth diaper and each paycheck I would scour the ‘net for some fabulous sale or gently used stock to add to my collection.

And then Drugstore.com… oh how I love you so. First, you are partnered with Ebates so I get money back for each purchase. Second, your prices are usually cheaper than Target or CVS. Third, you always give me money towards a purchase or free shipping to lure me back. Fourth, you are partnered with Beauty.com so I can get witch hazel, designer cologne for my husband, red raspberry leaf teabags, prenatal vitamins, foundation primer and bubble bath all in one shipment to my house. Oh, and FAST shipping too!

Then there are sites like Etsy that are worse than meth – so terribly addictive. Not just for adorable baby things, but holiday gifts, eco-friendly home products, and one of a kind jewelry and fashions.

Now that I am bed-ridden and we do not have a TV in our bedroom (and due to the remodel we currently do not have channels/cable available on our only TV which resides in the living room), I am a huge fan of sites like Hulu.com, instant watch films on Netflix, and other sites that let me catch up with what is going on with my favorite series (today my husband and I snuggled in bed and caught the season finale of Dexter).

Yesterday after my weekly maternity appointment, my Mom and I went to the mall down the street to grab dinner at California Pizza Kitchen. She dropped me off at the curb because even at 8:30 on a Thursday, the parking lot was insane. The wait was 15 minutes for a table (far less than Cheesecake Factory or Macaroni Grill), and the mall was PACKED with people carrying bags and bags and bags. Everyone looked exhausted, stressed, and over the holiday spirit. I thought about my presents that arrived via USPS and UPS that I wrapped earlier in the day. The only stress was worrying that the delivery guy would still drop off the package at my torn up construction site of a yard.

It is a sad world we live in where so many people are recluses, hiding in their homes and living out their social lives via places like SecondLife. However I don’t think that modern technology is all bad. I worked retail for a very long time and spent almost a decade of my life experiencing the holiday season from the insides of a mall. I thought it would feel amazing to be on the other side of that cash wrap once I left the field. Not so much… in fact once I left retail I almost completely left the mall. I think I visit a classic mall less than five times a year. This year I went three times – once before I was pregnant, once with my friend to help her find new trousers and update her wardrobe, and once on Black Friday where I stayed for less than two hours and didn’t purchase a single thing. Social interaction is not at its best in the shopping arena and I feel that the time and stress I save from shopping online gives me more opportunity to have proper quality time with quality people.

I type this as my husband takes his shower; I have a Netflix movie queued up in another tab and have just lotioned up my face, hands and feet for bed with creams from Body Shop online and Drugstore.com. The sheets and comforter on my bed, the curtains on my windows, the yoga pants I wear and even the laptop I am using all came from online shopping. It’s a pretty grand existence – one that is far less stressful, frazzled or full thanks to my scary online addictions. :)

Online Vendor Review – IGIGI

It’s fun when online purchases arrive in the mail. Come home from work and a box or bag is waiting for you on the doorstep. It’s even better when that box is a gift. When I received my purchase from IGIGI, I felt as though I had received a gift from a loving friend. Carefully folded, wrapped in tissue and sealed with a logo sticker, I felt as though this was bought at an exclusive boutique, not from an online vendor. I love it when online shops take the care with their garments that their brick-and-mortar counterparts do. It shows respect for their product as well as for their customer.

I received my wrap top from IGIGI just before a trip to the beach with my mother and sister. We range in sizes from a 10 to a 16 on top, five feet tall to five foot six. I thought it a perfect way to try the cut of IGIGI’s clothing on a variety of shapes of women.

I received the top in plum, a deep cool-toned amethyst. The fabric was similar to Chico’s Traveler’s collection, but with more weight and less ribbing. The top was a wrap style, but the underpart was attached to the top front part of the wrap. I like it when the wrap top is attached; for busty women like me when the top is not attached in front, I find the underpart slides under my breasts causing a gaping neckline. The tie part was thick and the length where it could be made into a bow, but I preferred a square knot. There is front vertical seaming that gives a lengthening and slimming effect.

I personally found the top too large for me in a 14/16. Though my bust fit well in it, the shoulders were too large, the sleeves too long and the body hit a bit too long on my hips, looking more like a casual tunic than a dressy or evening top. My sister is taller than I, a larger size and leggy; the length and size was perfect on her, and the color was great with her light auburn tresses. She said she could see it for work in the fall with a black camisole underneath and fluid black pants and for going out without a camisole, a cool necklace and dark jeans. We both liked the fabric and the shape so much we are considering purchasing the wrap dress for fall – I will even take it to a tailor to get it to fit my shoulders and height, I was so pleased with the quality of fabric and workmanship. I can see it for work, for play, for daytime weddings and taking front and center in my closet.

The garment came with a folder full of information about IGIGI and a catalog of some of their products. I loved knowing that the designer Yuliya Zeltser started the company because her mother was plus sized and had a hard time finding flattering and stylish clothing. Unlike many plus sized brands that just see women over a 10 as all over bigger, IGIGI sees that women come in different shapes and gear much of their website organization to the seven shapes of women – the diamond, the figure eight, the hourglass, the inverted triangle, the oval, the rectangle and the triangle. I love this. We women KNOW we are not all the same shape yet most designers don’t seem to take larger breasts, hips shoulders or lack of curves into consideration.

All in all, I am highly impressed with this online vendor. I feel confident in recommending this company to those who are average height or taller, and a full plus size. Please check them out, and if you use the code IGIGI at checkout, you can get 15% off. Do visit them and experience a company that is different from the mainstream, and good at what they do. Oh, they ship internationally and have the option of customer service in Spanish. How great!

Shopping Karma

Everyone is getting on the Amazon bandwagon and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it. Everywhere I look, another online retailer is offering customers to rate and/or review previous purchases. The trouble with shopping online is that you can’t touch, feel, or try on your item before purchase. Even with easy (and sometimes free – hello Zappos!) shipping and return policies at many retailers, returns are still a hassle and take time.

Enter the beauty of customer reviews. Reading them, you can see that a fellow pear-shaped woman found the trousers flattering, but a fellow tall woman found they ran short. And look, that dress you are considering to wear to your friend’s wedding? Well some other woman bought it and admitted it was perfect for such an affair, and wore it to one recently garnering many compliments and feeling perfectly dressed.

One big reason Amazon is so successful is because not only do they have customer reviews, but they have so many. When I was searching for a convertible carseat for my daughter, I was able to weed through literally hundreds of reviews for each brand and style – reviews organized by rating, by date submitted. Reviews were rated by fellow shoppers for their helpfulness, and many reviews had comments on them providing additional insight. I had narrowed down my choice to two brands, and these reviews on Amazon helped me make the final decision – a decision I have been happy with for months.

Do you practice shopping karma? When you make an online purchase, do you return to that retailer to offer feedback? Often we read the reviews, make purchased based upon the reviews, and then never go back to offer our own feedback. Give that which you wish to have in return – lots of constructive feedback on your purchases.

Speaking of constructive feedback, think about your review before you hit the ‘submit’ button. When saying the dress was tight in the bust, did you also mention your shape, your size, and what size you purchased? If you think the pants run long, please be sure to mention your height and if you believe yourself to be long- or short-waisted. Did you end up having to pin the neckline or wear it with a camisole? Was the hemline too short for work but perfect for drinks with friends? Did the color state it was emerald green but you found it to be more of a muted leaf color? Let other people know. Your detailed, constructive feedback may encourage other shoppers to do the same. And their detailed review may be the very one that helps you pick that perfect something that has been missing from your wardrobe!

Shopping With Mommy

Pictures taken in the Nordstrom Women’s Lounge.
It was my birthday, plan was to go to brunch at a favorite restaurant, head to the mall for some leisurely window shopping.

Black silk cashmere tank from Banana Republic. Ivory sueded cotton trousers from Ann Taylor. Denim blazer from Ann Taylor. Gold Chandelier earrings and gold bangle. Black Enzo boots.

Makeup is a touch of MAC’s Studio Tech on the face, a hint to Nars Orgasm blush, Fawn Pearl shadow from The Body Shop and black Zoom Lash mascara from MAC. On the lips was Sally Hansen gloss in a brownish pink color.

Hair was straightened, but it got all weird from sweaty trying on of clothes. These are pictrues from the end of our shopping trip. The luggage int he first pic is what my mom bought for her trip to Africa in February. $50 off at L.L.Bean!

Folgers The Best Part Online Community

I’m a coffee fan – not just for the caffeine perk, but the smell, the taste, the ritual. My husband makes us coffee each morning in the French press;, smelling the coffee wafting up the stairs brings a smile to my face and starts my day on a positive note. I’ve been a fan of Folgers for a while and have written about them in the past; to me Folgers is an American classic – it’s the best part of waking up! Folgers has such a positive message, be it supporting young artists or their Hello Sunshine app.

Well Folgers has taken this positivity to the next level with The Best Part. The Best Part is an online community that’s dedicated to brightening one’s day by spreading optimism, one share at a time. By posting inspirational stories, positive news, and encouraging quotes and encouraging fans and followers to share that optimism, The Best Part will bring a much-needed upbeat tone to FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Folgers believes that when optimism is shared, it grows, making an even more positive impact on our world.

I love this concept. Sometimes I visit my social media streams and it depresses, disappoints, and frustrates me. My Facebook feed is littered with angry or snarky statuses, news about more killings, stupid things celebrities have done and worn, angry political tirades. Twitter can be a bit of a snarkfest, especially after a controversial current event, and Instagram sometimes seems to be one big selfie and show off of new purchases. I love when I see a friend or brand share something positive and it gets liked, commented and shared like crazy. When I think of someone who uses social media to spread positivity, I think of my friend Emily, the woman behind the blog Authentically Emmie. Be it motivational quotes on her Instagram feed, promoting fellow bloggers on Twitter, or sharing exciting and inspirational news on Facebook, Emily uses social media in a thoughtful and positive manner. Recently Emily had ankle surgery and spent several weeks in a cast and using a knee walker. That didn’t affect her positive attitude, she even Instagrammed the beautiful sunrise the morning of her surgery and make funny jokes about her knee walker. We could use more Authentically Emmies in social media!

It’s nice to see a big and well-known company want to create a positive source for change, a program that will not try to cover up the negativity with daisies, but encourage people to think and act in a different, more positive manner. I can’t wait to see The Best Part and take part, sharing and promoting meaningful and optimistic content!

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”                     ― Mahatma Gandhi

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Weekend Sale Shopping

Sales, sales, everywhere is sales… yes I am changing the lyrics to this song (which is a cover of this original) but there’s some insanely good sales going on this weekend that I just HAD to share with you.

Old Navy – 25% Off

At Old Navy, get 25% off your entire purchase with the code TREAT. Code is valid until the end of the 18th. A few restrictions: not valid on Everyday Steals, Hot Deals, Clearance (anything ending in $0.97 or $0.99) or Today Only Deals.  I think this top is an office attire staple and I love the variety of colors available; this chunky turtleneck would look great with skinny jeans or ponte pants for the weekend; I love the leather-look pockets on this dress (and love that it comes in regular, tall, and petite!).

Banana Republic – Up to $50 off Full Priced Items

Up to $50 off full price dresses, jackets, sweaters, and more. Note this doesn’t include their Monogram collection or leather jackets. No code necessary, deal through October 18.  I love their Gemma Wrap Dress and this print is something that would look great all seasons of the year; this lace pullover is fantastic – wear over a white shirt for the office and a camisole for a night out!  Other favorites on promotion:

Ann Taylor – 50% Off Tops, Shoes and Accessories

I know, right? 50% off? Get thee shopping, pronto with code STYLE50, this deal ends October 20th.  I think this bird print shirt is amazing, this faux leather pocket cape looks even better in person, and their buttoned-up boiled wool cape is so awesome, I wish I could justify the purchase (for the record, I’ve tried it on, it fits great, I am a Large Petite).

LOFT – 40% Off Tops and Sweaters

No specific date that this is to end and no code needed. Do note it’s not valid on Lou & Grey merchandise, but it IS valid on in-store purchases as well as online.  It does feel that LOFT is constantly having deals, but they’re also constantly getting in new merchandise that doesn’t seem to last long online.  So if you see it and love it, get it while you can!  I’m loving this belted cardigan, and think this variation on the chambray shirt would look modern and fresh with jeans or a midi skirt.  Some other pieces I like that are on promotion:

Lands’ End – 25 to 30% Off

Lands’ End is my go-to for quality yet reasonably priced winter weather gear. They have two promotions going on right now. Get 30% off select “fall essentials” (not sure exactly what that is but seems like a lot) with code LEAF, PIN 9223 through October 20th. But you can also get 25% off all full-priced merchandise with code MAPLE and PIN 1610 through October 21st. I love my packable down vest so much, I’m seriously considering this packable down jacket from Lands’ End and can’t decide between the polka dots or basic black. I’ve also had this Sport Knit skirt in black in my shopping cart for a while and may pull the trigger now that it’s 30% off.  These and a few other pieces I’m admiring:

Madewell – 30% Off Sale Merchandise

Madewell continues to impress, and a 30% off sale prices makes it easy to buy some fab fall and winter fashion. Use code PICKMEUP, which is valid through October 20th.  I love the classic look of their Otis boot, the unique color and slouchy coolness of their Firelight Pullover, and the perfect color and shape of their Berliner Satchel.

J. Crew – 30% Off Sweaters and Outerwear

Code SHOPFALL will give you 30% off at J. Crew through the 19th of October.  Their Majesty Peacoat truly is perfection and a classic piece that will be chic for years to come; their Jackie Cardigan is always a popular piece and nice to get on sale; and I am loving the pale lavender shade and the cool size zips of this lambswool sweater.

J. Crew Factory – 40-50% off Outerwear and an Additional 30% Off Clearance Merchandise

One of my favorite stores for great style at great prices; 30% off clearance makes it even nicer! Use code YAY30 through the October 19th to save.  As for the deal on outwear and cold-weather accessories, no code is needed.  Some of my favorites like this camo tee (imagine it with something dressy like a sequined or lace pencil skirt or under a denim jacket), this adorable flared leather skirt in black or brown, and this pleated maxi which I own and adore.  As for outerwear, I love the color and details of this coat, find this long hooded belted puffer to be something any city commuter would love, and think the price is nice on these leather tech gloves.

Any sales I missed?  Share them in the comments!

Shopping with Intention and Changing Shopping Habits with #Project333

Reader (and friend after all these years) Linda made me aware of the blog, Project 333. Project 333 is a minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for three months. Linda has been really interested in minimalism, and recently I have been as well. Linda asked me to think about what 33 pieces from my wardrobe I would save from a fire.

As the next three months are spring/summer, I had to get into the warmer weather state of mind. I went through my outfit posts from last summer and thought about what was currently in my wardrobe. I wanted to consider work of course, but also casual weekends and the occasional date night, concert, wedding, or other social occasion. What I came up with:

Gray leather hobo purse (Banana Republic) | Black leather clutch (HOBO Bags) | Black Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses | Vintage brown leather belt | Black leather and stretch wide belt (Lauren Ralph Lauren) | Black pumps (MICHAEL Michael Kors) | Tan sandals (Softspots) | Orange heeled sandals (Naturalizer) | Black flip flops (Reef) | Black silky slouchy tee (Leith) | Black and white striped shirt (Armour lux) | Printed V-neck tee (OBEY) | White ribbed tank (Caslon) | Chambray shirt (Target) | Gray V-neck tee (Old Navy) | Orange Ikat-print cotton sheath (Maggy London) | Black twill skirt (Limited) | Gold and white floral cotton skirt (Talbots) | Black blazer (Limited) | Orange matte jersey drapey camisole (Ann Taylor) | Black ponte dress (Felicity + Coco) | Pink jersey maxi dress (Gap) | Black cardigan (Only Mine) | Black trousers (Tahari) | Boyfriend jeans (Gap) | Black and white striped tank (Ann Taylor) | White jeans (Kut from the Kloth) | Distressed denim shorts (Target) | Silk Scarf (Liberty) | Cadet blue zebra-print long scarf (Nepali by TDM) | Silver cuff | Silver chain with personal charms | Statement necklace (Etsy)

Trying to use images available in Polyvore, this is only a representation of my actual items (for example the floral dress represents my orange Ikat-print dress). I have linked to the actual pieces when they have been featured on my blog or Instagram (the zebra scarf to the site, the pink dress to an image I found online). However I think this collage gives the right effect.

When thinking what to keep, the most important thing was to have appropriate attire for work. I am lucky to work in a relaxed business casual office, where jeans are acceptable on Fridays and colored denim can make a pass during the week if it’s crisp, saturated color, and dressed up like pants. With this collection, I was able to create 40 different work ensembles for a possible 60 days in the office during a Project 333 period of time.  (I know the actual project suggests swapping only three items at the end of the period of time, I am just trying it in this manner for now.)

What this exercise really did was make me realize how woefully inadequate my current wardrobe is. My body has changed, but I have also had a transition in my personal style. With the warming temperatures, I am finding my closet more and more frustrating, the pieces I currently own so mismatched. I’m trying to buy less, and just filling holes, but it feels as though there’s more holes than current wardrobe. This made me realize that instead of filling holes, I maybe need to start from scratch in some ways. Not buy what works, but what is right. Knowing that the whole season will only be 33 pieces (including shoes and accessories – even sunglasses!) is a relief. When you see it’s only 33 pieces, you don’t feel as much as though you’re going to go bankrupt to dress for a season. I looked at this collection above and felt I could really live with these pieces, and only needed a few minor changes to make it perfect.

Will I be taking part in Project 333? No, at least not now. My blog is my part-time career. I have made my outfit posts a way to offer inspiration and creative ideas for fellow women who may have similar figures or lifestyles. I also use the posts as a way to feature brands I like or have just learned about. However, Project 333 really forced me to look at what I buy and why I buy it; it has also transformed how I plan to shop and dress myself this year. You can expect to see a change in future purchases (as well as more items I will likely be selling on eBay – follow me on Facebook for updates when I am having sales).

The horrible tragedy in Bangladesh really got me thinking about what I buy. One can’t just blame H&M or Forever 21 for such situations, bargain basement to high end designer lines ship their manufacturing and/or fabric weaving to other countries where it can be done for far less. We expect to get more for less and to accommodate, retailers sometimes do shifty things to still make a good profit. Be it purchasing used, or purchasing darn near perfection to reduce how often I spend, I’m trying to make a difference. Project333 really forces one to shop with thought, with a plan, with intention. Imagine if we all shopped with intention instead of in desperation, purchasing good enough, using shopping as therapy or entertainment.  Imagine our wardrobes, they would be full of quality, well-fitting pieces, signature items, pieces that both flatter and inspire.

This won’t be my only post on this topic, I plan to think about what I wish was in my closet for the 333 Project, and how I plan on taking the lessons learned from this with me as I do shop, and how it will affect my fall/winter wardrobe.

What do you think of Project 333? How does it make it look at your current wardrobe and your shopping habits?

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My Personal Shopping Rules

When shopping for clothing, it is so easy to get off track. Maybe you need a new pair of trousers, but by time you leave the mall you have several bags and none of them contain a pair of pants. It’s also easy to get off track when it comes to your personal style. You are a hopeless romantic who feels at home in ruffles and flounces, but after some pressure from a very enthusiastic salesperson you find yourself at home with a very structured severe black sheath dress.

I have found the best way to stay on track is to have a list and take it with you. I have a small note pad I got at a drugstore that I keep in my purse. I date the sheet and write my shopping list. I never toss the list because looking at old lists help you remember not only what you own, but the style of your wardrobe and life. These lists for me are like a mini journal of my life – a list including a bathing suit and flip flops in August, a cocktail dress in December, silver shoes for when I was a bridesmaid in a wedding, a new pair of jeans to celebrate a weight loss.

In this little notebook I not only keep lists of what I need, but also what I believe. What fashion “rules” do I hold for myself? Each woman’s “rules” will be different. At first you may not know your personal style, but you do know what you will NOT wear. Making this list will help you leave the mall or boutique with only purchases that make you feel good – be it more ruffles instead of structured shapes, or leather instead of lace. Here is my list of fashion “rules,” ones that over time I have felt fit me, and fit many other women.



1. Color over Neutrals. Color makes me look thinner, as though I have a better complexion, am younger. Color makes cheaply made clothing look more expensive. When I feel glum, putting on a bright cheery color automatically makes me smile.

2. Never Let Lingerie Show. I was raised to never have a bra strap or panty line show. Trends come and go where it seems acceptable to have lingerie peek out of sweaters, jackets, and blouses. I have never succumbed to those trends and never will. On top of that, if an item requires a fancy-dancy backless/halter/strapless/zero-gravity bra that I do not already own, I won’t buy the garment. And if an item requires me to pin, tape, suck, squish or cover up part of it to make my current lingerie work, again I won’t purchase.

3. Prints to a Minimum. I am not a prints person. When I start buying printed items, I start finding I wear those items less often – so rarely they are not worth their purchase price. Prints are memorable, less able to be coordinated with multiple items in my closet, so they are purchased sparingly.

4. I Don’t Go to Cocktail Parties. This is something I have to say to myself on a regular basis. I am constantly drawn to sequins, beading, shimmer, shine. I love cocktail dresses, silky camisoles, contrast outfits like fitted tee with ball skirts and cashmere turtlenecks with sequined minis. However I do not have a lifestyle for such a wardrobe. I go to places that warrant such attire maybe twice a year, so I try to get my bling-fix in necklaces I can wear to work as well as play, and fun clutches and purses that I can use to jazz up my arsenal of LBDs that can work for a day wedding or that unexpected cocktail party.

5. Accept it, Your Arms, Breasts and Calves are Not Standard Size. It’s exhausting, frustrating, and demoralizing to try to zip up tall boot after tall boot, try to wiggle skinny rigid jeans up past my ankle or have a short-sleeved oxford or shirtdress fit over my limbs and bust. Even when I was a size 4 I couldn’t wear such items because my calves, breasts, and arms are just bigger than fit models. This doesn’t mean I am unattractive or deformed, it just means I should wear other items. And I have to remind myself that even if I can fit it, if it feels tight and awkward, it will look tight and awkward.

6. Don’t Buy it If It’s Not Comfortable. I am not one to live in sweats, and I despise when people tell me they buy items purely because they are comfortable. However I don’t believe in pain for the sake of style. There is a happy balance. I won’t wear something that restricts my arms, pulls on my back, won’t let me walk three blocks to and from the Metro to my office, forces me to suck in my stomach so that buttons won’t pop, when I take it off I have marks from where the item zipped or cinched.

7. You Aren’t a Girly-Girl. Yes, I am occasionally drawn to calico prints, ruffles, lace, flounce. A romantic blouse, a vintage-inspired dress. Then I get it home and realize I have no shoes, no jewelry, no other wardrobe items to work with it. I have to change my makeup, I need to change my hair, my purse doesn’t fit with the look. Instead of reinventing the wheel, don’t buy the wheel.

8. You Hate Black Purses. This is a weird one, and one I have learned over time. Black makes sense – I wear a lot of black and colors that look great with black. Most of my pants are black, shoes are black. However every time I buy a black purse I don’t like it for some reason – it’s too stark, it’s too somber, it’s too wrong. I currently own two black bags – a casual shoulder bag for day and a satin clutch for night. Both are collecting dust and are constant reminders for me to not make that mistake again.

9. Loose Items Don’t Make You (or anyone) Look Smaller. When I am between two size, I often catch myself choosing the larger one because I fear the smaller one will make me look like a sausage. The thing is, usually the smaller one fits, and the larger one is loose. Loose is comfortable, loose is safe. However, loose makes my unusually large arms look larger, my bust look bustier, my tummy look as though it’s wrapped in a diaper. As a petite woman, fit is of the utmost importance – a dress that is too long in the torso will make a hump in my lower back, show my bra under my arms, cause pants to droop in the rise. Slight adjustments – going with the smaller of two fitting sizes, choosing petite will make me look slimmer and make my clothes look more expensive.

10. If you Love it, Buy Two. I am not ashamed to own the same item in multiple colors. I have been known to buy the same trousers in threes – one in gray and two in black. No one is keeping tally, seeing how many different pairs of black pants you own. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I have the same wrap dress from Ann Taylor – one in solid black and one in a blue print. I have the same trousers from Gap – two pairs of white and one of oxford gray. Same with a pair of trousers from Semantiks – one in black, one in brown. When I worked retail and my employer expected us to wear all black I had five pairs of the same pants – they fit great, held up well after a long day, and could be thrown in the washer and dryer.

11. Unless it’s Formalwear or a Suit, if it’s Truly Dry Clean Only, Leave it on the Hanger. I have items in the trunk of my car that need to go to the cleaners. They have been there since Emerson was four months old. If I do actually get to the cleaners, I then forget the items are there and don’t pick them up for months. Many items (merino wool, synthetic fabrics, matte jersey) claim to be dry clean only, but aren’t. You won’t see me in much wool, silk, heavily embellished items or delicate fabrics. I don’t have the lifestyle for them. Not worth to buy if they spend most of their life in my car or at the cleaners!

What are your “rules?” What do you follow to stick to a wardrobe that fits not just your body, but your personality and life?

Tuesday and Shopping Update

Sorry for pics before my hair was dry.  Running a bit late today, and with this humidity, my hair was still a bit damp even by time I got to the office!

 Now it’s all full and beachy waves and goes far better with the dress.

Dress: LOFT, picked up during their Friends & Family event last week
Belt: Vintage
Shoes: Sofft
Bracelet: Twisted Silver

I actually bought quite a lot of stuff from Ann Taylor & Ann Taylor LOFT for their Friends & Family event.  And all is going back except this dress (which I honestly think will look better next week when I’m not all PMS-y bloated).

What I got from LOFT:
Petite Abstract Waves Woven Dress – This is the dress I am wearing.  I have to say if I didn’t have the F&F discount and a store credit, this dress wouldn’t be worth it.  It’s polyester, and that weird textured crepe polyester that from far away may look like silk but once you touch it you know it’s synthetic something.  Super super simple pattern, no fancy details.  The waist is elasticized and covered with a black grosgrain ribbon which on its own looks very much as though something is missing.  The dress has side pockets which is what made me consider returning this dress – the pockets make the sides stick out a bit weird, and make it look as though it’s junk in my trunk and not extra fabric.  I may use Stitch Witchery to close them up.

However I kept this dress because it’s lightweight, it’s summery, I know it will look better if I lose weight or bloat, and my husband told me I look hot in it. :)

Petite Flutter Silk Dress – I saw this in several magazines and thought it looked gorgeous.  Also thought it could be a nice red wardrobe replacement for my “secretary dress.” 

First, the dress doesn’t flutter.  It’s packed so those ruffles lie completely flat.  Smooshed flat, and the ruffles have raw edges so it just looks as though the dress is inside-out.  I tried hanging the dress in the bathroom while I took a shower, thinking the steam may help flutter up the ruffles but no, they still looked awful.  Oh, and the dress is see-through, like could see the lace on my skin-colored bra.  And petite?  I actually had to double-check the label and packing slip because this “petite” dress hot me mid-calf.  FAIL.

Pleated Collar Shell – This doesn’t seem to be still in stock, and may be because it was on sale.  Anyway, it is a lightweight cotton voile (like my lovely JNY top), looked to have a deep notch v-neck with a multi-ruffled stand collar.  The color was called Poppy Red, which looked more like hibiscus or watermelon to me.

This was NOT petite but it fit like it.  Raised my hands and you could see my belly.  It fit nicely over the bust, but was tight over the midsection (when does THAT happen?).  The collar didn’t stand as well as I would like because the fabric was so soft.  And the neckline didn’t fall open so it looked like a high-necked shell with a deflated clown collar.  Another FAIL.

What I got from Ann Taylor:
Denim Pencil Skirt – At the time of my order, they didn’t have 14 petite in stock.  And after the skin-tight scary denim skirt I recently got from Gap, I was thinking maybe I should stick with 16.  No 16 petite.  So I ordered 16.

Yep, I am a 14 petite.  This skirt is far too big.  Even though I was swimming in this skirt, and even when I pulled it up to my ribcage it still hit below my knees, I knew it was a good choice.  So good I am going to exchange it.  The denim is heavy enough to not be clingy, but not so heavy that it looks stiff.  It has fantastic seaming that enhance a curvy figure, a tiny kickpleat, a gorgeous dark hue that looks like real denim, but is totally work appropriate.  I hate that my local Ann Taylor doesn’t offer petites over 12 in their shop, so I have to order online.  But I really think the 14 petite will be a great fit and just what I have been looking for.  WIN.

Petite Cotton/Silk Blouse - No longer online but it was on mondo sale at the time of Friends & Family.  Anyway, it is a gorgeous bright pink, is a non-stretchy cotton/silk blend shell with size zipper at the bottom side.  The scoopneck is trimmed with small stiff ruffles.  Fully lined.

If I wore suits on a regular basis, I would keep this top.  The neckline is super flattering, the color and fabric gorgeous, it fit well, slightly loose in the body but no bra showing under the arms and more of a conservative fit perfect for Corporate America.  However alone, it looked like a suiting shell.  It is seamed, very tailored, and I couldn’t make it look fun with trousers, skirts, or jeans.  Not a FAIL, but not an Allie WIN.

Coralized Micro CZ Pendant Necklace – The one I got is no longer online, but it’s sorta similar to this.  The one I got has a longer, thinner chain and is solid gold with little CZ dots, no mother of pearl in the center.  I think it’s a cute pendant, like the old brushed gold look, and can totally see it this fall with simple dresses and come winter it will be fab with a merino turtleneck and a pair of dark slim jeans.  the chain is adjustable, which is always a big plus with me.  I always have major success with Ann Taylor jewelry!

My Savvy Shopping Tips…

I am often asked how I can afford all I purchase, and how I am able to maintain a
wardrobe without giung into debt. Well here’s a few of the things I do when shopping (most of my shopping is done online).

1. Credit card debt won’t help you… but credit cards occasionally will. I have made a concerted effort the past couple of years to get out of credit card debt. If there isn’t cash in my checking account, there isn’t a garment that will be purchased. Credit cards are too easy, you can say, “oh I’ll pay it off with my next paycheck,” but then you forget and interest starts racking up. To avoid temptation, I have gotten rid of most of my credit cards.

Most, but not all.

Some credit cards are beneficial, if you take care of the accounts. Often, a store card has a lot of perks for the user; if you shop at that company regularly it may be in your best interest to have a credit card with them. For example, I have a Banana Republic credit card. Banana Republic offers its Luxe cardholders (I have had the card for over a decade so I am Luxe) free shipping at Banana Republic, Gap, and Old Navy online. Many promotional emails are sent only to cardholders, and I receive coupons in the mail almost monthly. When I make a purchase on my Banana Republic card, I immediately head to my checking account’s online banking and write a check for the exact amount I spent. No interest is accrued, yet I still rack up points towards savings rewards with the company. This concept also works for major credit cards that help you rack up miles or points.

2. Google it. There are two ways that Google can save you money. First, before you enter your shopping cart at an online retailer, Google the retailer’s name and something like, “promotional code,” “discount,” or “coupon.” Usually within your first three clicks you will find out whether there are any available discounts for that retailer. Nine times out of ten, this five-minute Internet search saves me shipping costs, and sometimes gets me free gifts with purchase or even 25% off my entire order.

Google also helps when trying to find the lowest price. Say you fell in love with a pair of Franco Sartos at Nordstrom. You tried them on, they fit great and look even better. Before dropping dough on these shoes, get the style name and head to your computer. Googling the brand and style name of the shoe will help you find the lowest-price retailer, or at least a company that offers free shipping and returns or No Final Sale (always great if what you believe to be comfy shoes end up tearing your heel in half by lunchtime).

3. Shop through another site. I personally am loving Ebates, where in just one month I have made over $10 cash for normal online shopping. Ebates is a free service that works with hundreds of online retailers – get to your favorite company through the Ebates Web site and you will get back a percentage of your purchase in cash.

There are many other sites that do this; one of my best friends uses Upromise for this to help pay off her student loans, and many love Points.com to collect points toward flights and hotel stays.

4. Check eBay. I never purchase a new bag at full price. Purse owners are often fickle, getting a new one and tiring of it a month later. By checking eBay for the brand and style name or number of a bag I am coveting, I can always find a few sellers offering new or gently used versions of the bag at major discounts. This spring I bought a bag I was drooling over at Banana Republic for 50% off on eBay. Bag came in mint condition, just sans price tag. Two years ago, I purchased a different bag through eBay and got it 60% off the current retail price, with the tags still attached and the dust cover.

I also do this with style names and brands I know. Maggy London, Banana Republic and Gap dresses look great on me; I search eBay by brand name and then size and can often find last year’s styles in mint condition (often with tags still attached) or this year’s style new or gently used for a great price. If you know what you want and shop with a reliable seller, it makes sense to first check eBay.

5. Make a list and check it twice. You go to a Web site to purchase jeans and 30 minutes later, your total is for over $1200 and not a speck of denim is in your shopping cart. Cresting a list of what you need each season will help you stay on track, benefit your budget, and make dressing easier each day. Who need another printed top when you don’t have the proper trousers or skirt to pair with it? Do you homework – read magazines, visit blogs, watch RV and get a sense of what is in style this season and what appeals to you. Then narrow down that list to what will flatter your frame and work with your lifestyle. Make a list and put it in your wallet or purse so it is with you every time you shop. Tell yourself you won’t buy anything else until you acquire these essentials. Items like new bras, jeans, swimwear and the perfect black pants are hard to find, and the search can be utter torture. It’s very tempting to give up and buy a great purse or little frock. Problem is come Monday you will be crying in front of your closet because you have nothing to wear. So stick to your list and you’ll save and be more stylish!

Reader Question – Shopping for Swimwear

Reader Laurie asked:

I am wondering where you shop for swimwear. I have a body type very similar, although I’ve got quite a few years on you (55). I am in decent shape, would like a tank suit with medium high cut legs, but need a D cup underwire, if possible, or at the very least, good support for the girls. I don’t want to look 18 but I also don’t want to look 80 – difficult to find that middle ground. Any suggestions?

Hey Laurie:

Swimsuit shopping can be one of the most horrific experiences for a woman. Suits that have proper support often make one look heavier and older than reality, and cute suits usually don’t have the proper fabric or cut to flatter anyone but a pre-teen. As with any purchase, I recommend going for quality with a swimsuit so it fits, flatters, and maintains its shape and condition after many seasons in the sun, sand and chlorine.

My favorite place for swimwear is Lands End. They have a really extensive collection; you can shop by body type (minimize shoulders and bust, tummy control, minimize hips and thighs, plus size, petite, tall, maternity, even mastectomy suits) or by cut (leg height, bra type silhouette). I bought one of their faille tankinis in 2002 for a trip to Jamaica and that suit still fits, has maintained its shape and elasticity and also the color. Can’t say that for many suits these days!

I love this adjustable bandeau swim top from Lands End; it can be strapless, halter, or regular straps. The side rouching is adjustable so you can have a gathered top or more of a swim dress. UPF 50 swim protection and specially made for a D-cup figure. This is part of a mix and match line so you can easily find a bottom that flatters your figure. Black is a safe bet, but I think a color can be more fun and less looking like “I wear black because I don’t like my body.” Try a hot pink or aqua for a pretty yet not teeny-bopper hue.

How about a custom suit? This halter tank can be made by Lands End to your specifications. I am adoring the Coastal Green color too!

Another place I have had luck at is the store Everything But Water. You can shop by designer, silhouette or even D-cup online, and I have found the stores to have a very good selection year-round. This pretty black one-piece by Christina with a flower design is quite elegant.

In the past I have found many cute suits from J. Crew, however this year their D-cup line has dwindled to boring one-pieces and a handful of bikini tops. Pretty unfortunate and surprising as that so many companies are starting to see the need for the not-your-average-size suit.

I have been pleased with the suits at Athleta. Known as a place to buy activewear, Athleta also has a large selection of street wear and swimsuits that are great for kayaking, or even lounging at the pool.

I love Athleta’s halter one-piece. Simple, elegant, flattering and made for the larger busted woman with a floating underwire and shirring. Their quality is awesome; a suit like this can give you years of wear.

Hope this helps, good luck with your search!

Outlet Mall Shopping

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


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

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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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

I Went Shopping…

Yesterday was pretty hectic at work. I met my good friend at the mall for some retail therapy.

At Aldo I got a silver pleather clutch for $9.99. It’s funky, kitchy, and perfectly adorable with a black outfit and my trademark silver jewelry. They had a great sale on shoes and bags.

At Ann Taylor (who I ADORE) I headed straight for their sale section. The black merino turtle I have been sporting lately I found in a dusty rose/salmon color. $29.99. I also found some tweed pants to match – shades of cream, brown, tan, coral and rose. $34.99. I also bought a pair of ivory crisp trousers. Flat front, creased leg, stiff sueded twill. I know, I know I own like 50,000 pairs of ivory/cream/winter white trousers but they always look so smart and there is always a pair at the cleaners! They were $39.99. Then I had my Love Cures card which gave me 15% off the purchase. Score!

Today I am wearing the merino turtle with the tweed trousers. Camel pointy pumps on the feet. Sivler hoops and silver cuff.

I forgot my camera at home, so you get the picture of me in the office elevator at the end of the day.

Makeup is the usual foundation, concealer and blush. Pale dusty pink shadow over the lids of my eyes, Damson in the crease and along the lash line. Another of the mini lipglosses I got for Christmas on my lips – this one is a brick color. Ended up looking like a darker version of the sweater. Hair is straight, deep part for sideswept bangs, tucked behind one ear. I used a good dose of BioSilk in my hair as that the winter is wreaking havock on my tresses. BioSilk is a great product, good glosser for the hair that doesn’t look greasy, and a great moisturizer for the skin too! I got mine free with purchase at Trade Secret about two years ago – a trial size bottle I still haven’t used half of (a little goes a looooong way!).

Today we are leaving for the beach. I plan to trade the tweed trousers for a pair of vintage Gap jeans and my black boots.

What if I Hate Shopping?

I think one reason women are famous for loving shoe shopping is because no matter what mood you are in, how many extra pounds you are carrying, what hips you inherited from your mother, shoes fit and are sexy, fashionable and fun.

Woman can not live on shoes alone, so how does one make the trek out of the shoe department and into the rest of the mall more appealing? How does one survive the fluorescent lights, the snooty salespeople, the tiring hikes from one end of a mall to the other?

PROPER ATTIRE. Yes, there is proper shopping attire. What you choose to wear can make or break your shopping experience.

1. The proper undergarments. The best undergarments are those that are the most flattering under clothes, and the most invisible under clothes. A seamless bra with great support in a nude color is a wise choice. It’s hard to really know the tranparency of a white shirt when you are wearing a black bra. Same with your underwear. A skin toned pair that does not show panty lines, and give a smooth look under clothing is a good choice.

2. Comfortable shoes in a height you regularly wear. You may look positively fabu in those spiky heels, but your feet will be very angry after just a few stores. A pair of casual flip flops are not the best option either. If you plan to shop for trousers, wear shoes with the heel height you would wear most often with trousers. If you are shopping for skirts, it’s not the best idea to wear boots and socks – it is pretty much impossible to know how shorts, capris or a skirt will look when wearing socks. A great choice is a mule, a slide, or a pair of pumps – shoes with a comfortable fit, a familiar height, easy to slip on and off and would flatter your legs as you try on clothes.

3. Wrinkle-resistant attire. Not the best idea to wear linen trousers when you plan on pulling them on and off over and over again in stuffy cramped fitting rooms. After two stores, you will look like a discarded shopping bag and grimace every time you catch a glimpse of yourself in a shop window. Knits, matte jersey, synthetic blends – you cannot go wrong and you will feel comfortable all day.

4. Dress to impress. I have over ten years of retail experience and though I hate to admit it, salespeople do judge their customers by their appearance. If there are ten customers and only one salesperson, that salesperson will approach the best dressed person first. Usually those who are well dressed will spend more money. This doesn’t mean you need to wear a dress or suit to the mall. A nice sweater and a pair of trousers, capris or fashion denim will suffice. They will hold up through many changing rooms, and you will maintain a polished look.

5. Accessorize! Wearing the jewelry you would normally wear with an outfit will help your try-on seem more realistic and appealing. If you don’t feel comfortable wearing these pieces to the mall, bring them in your purse. If you are shopping for a job interview – bring your pearls. For a wedding… bring your chandelier earrings or wrap.

6. Do your hair and face. Without a polished face, those fluorescent lights are even more brutal. Somehow a greasy ponytail and a blank face in a department store fitting room can make you look like a convict. Also, it’s hard to see if a color is good with your skin tone, or a neckline is flattering if you don’t look like how you normally look when wearing that type of clothing. Bring powder and lipstick to reapply after multiple trying-ons.

I promise that if you follow these suggestions, you will have a more pleasurable shopping experience once you actually find clothes worthy of trying on.

Now, how do you find clothes? It is an awful experience walking into stores and not finding a single flattering or properly fitting article of clothing. Nothing is more depressing than taking a huge handful of clothing into a fitting room and none of it fits. Here are some tips to having more shopping success:

1. Judge a book by it’s cover: The look of the window displays, the marketing throughout the store, the type of music playing over the speakers, and most importantly – the attire and style of the salespeople will tell you quickly what type of clothes are sold in that store. Why even waste your time walking into a store playing loud club music, salespeople in electric green eye makeup, store window mannequins in leather micro minis and halter tops when you are shopping for an interview suit for a government agency? Yes, you may find a gem in an unexpected store, but save that gem hunt for days when you have your base wardrobe, feel good about your collection and are looking for great pieces to accent.

2. Map out your journey. Before wandering aimlessly through the mall, getting frustrated by the step, start out with a map or a directory of a mall. Circle where the stores you want to visit are. This will give you focus and a goal. You will waste less time too.

It’s great to online pre-window shop before heading out for a day of shopping. Websites usually set the tone for the type of clothing that is sold in a store, the color stories they plan to focus on that season and the major trends that they will be showcasing.

3. Make a grocery list. It is so easy to get off track in malls if you don’t have your priorities clearly defined. For each store you enter have your mantra: “Black pants, pencil skirt. Black pants, pencil skirt.” This will help you search harder for said needed items, and help prevent spending your budget on that awesome green sequined mini skirt that goes with nothing and will do nothing for you except blow your budget and stuff your closet with yet another item that will go to the Goodwill in ten years with the price tags still attached.

A bikini wax is not fun, but necessary if you want to look good on the beach in a skimpy bathing suit. A gym workout is not always fun, but necessary to fit into that great dress for your high school reunion. Underwire bras are not the most comfortable things, but necessary if you have medium to large breasts and want them to look perky and well-shaped. Same with shopping. There may be 50,000 things you would like to do more than spend the better part of a day at the mall, but it’s necessary to get the wardrobe you need and deserve – a proper collection of clothing that will flatter, support your lifestyle, and make you feel more confident and attractive.

Online Vendor Review – Custom Glam Girl

Internet shopping can be sketchy. You may not receive what you ordered, it may be packed so clumsily that it arrives damaged… if at all. Quality doesn’t always match the photographs and return policies may make it more worth your while to stick with your defective purchase.

Much of this is because it’s very cheap for a company to start up online. No rent to pay, no utilities, no need for stock or employees even. The entire business can take place in a person’s dining room during the commercial breaks of an episode of grey’s Anatomy.

Sometimes… one can be blown away by a small internet company. It may be the quality, the prices, the variety, the service. In the case of Custom Glam Girl, I have to say it’s because of All Of The Above. This is probably why this company has been big enough to be featured in many magazines, TV shows and be sported by many celebrities (none of this I knew when I found the site).

My husband and I are friends with a dear couple; the husband is one of three sons and they all have the last name “Jones.” Growing up the brothers were always lumped together as “The Jones Boys” and when they grew up, they all went and got tattoos in Old English script that say, “Jones Boy” on their forearms. When I found out that our friends were pregnant with a boy, I knew I needed to get them some piece of baby clothing stating this on the front.

While trolling the internet, I found Custom Glam Girl. Unlike many of the other baby sites, this one didn’t just carry cutesy blue and pink frilly pieces with hearts. They had more rocker looking ideas, and that was more appropriate for this couple and their son-to-be. Though their site was extensive (and their site easy to navigate), I didn’t see exactly what I was looking for. I called their toll-free number and was immediately connected to a really peppy and friendly agent. I told her what I was looking for, Told her the style of font, the wording and how I wanted it placed on the onesie. She was patient with me and quite helpful and friendly. I placed the order late on April 6th, the agent told me that it would be about 1-2 weeks for processing and shipping. I feared I was cutting it very close for the shower on the 23rd, but kept my fingers crossed.

I had nothing to fear, the onesie came in on the 13th. It wasn’t cheap knit, it was well made, thick, and the screen-printing was solid and not likely to peel or fade after a couple of washings (check out the picture that I took after it arrived). Not only did it arrive in a heavy plastic shipping bag, it came with a legible packing slip AND a free gift! I received for free a silvertone necklace with a heart with wings and matching earrings.

This item arrived the same day that I got a package from American Apparel. Unlike Custom Glam Girl, American Apparel is a global company with stores as well as their internet shop. The items from American Apparel came thrown into a bag, the bag covered with writing via a Sharpie, the packing slip crumpled the bag looked as though it was sealed in the dark (all crooked and stuck upon itself and smooshed). The fabric of the onesie from Custom Glam Girl was better quality than the tees I got from American Apparel.

The onesie cost $19.95, which I felt was reasonable for the quality (higher quality than the one I got from Snapfish), and shipping was a standard $5.95. This company sells most anything you could get personalized, from tees and hoodies to engraveable flasks in a rainbow assortment of colors. I have bookmarked this site for future reference and think it’s a great place to get a fun and creative gift for someone!

Black Friday Tip – Online Shop & Save!

Before you do any online shopping, use Google (or I prefer Good Search – online search engine that donates a penny to the charity of your choice every time it is used!).

Today I made a purchase at Ann Taylor Loft. When I got to the checkout it asked me to add any promotional code. I didn’t have a promotional code, but I searched “Ann Taylor Promotional Code” on Good Search, and the third site I went to had a code that gave me 20% off my order! Last week I ordered a gift for my mom and the site also asked if I had a promotional code. After doing about two minutes on a search engine, I found a site that offered me 15% off AND free shipping!

A few minutes on your favorite search engine can save you lots of money on your holiday and personal shopping. Take the time and reap the savings!

What I Wore: Shopping Local

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Shirt: c/o InStyle Essentials | Skirt: buythedress on Etsy | Shoes: Fitzwell | Bracelet: Had forever (similar) | Rings: Etsy, Argento Vivo (similar)

One trend I am LOVING this season is the full midi skirt (those of you who follow me on Facebook already know this). However, I don’t have the budget to afford one from Tibi or another designer. When I see a trend I love that I think can be easily recreated, I don’t go to Forever 21 or Zara, I head to Etsy. This way I know that I am supporting a small business or independent artist while getting the designer look for less.  While I was desiring a solid color, I found this gorgeous wax print print skirt from buythedress. Even better, this Etsy seller lives just a few towns from me!

And I know some of you are thinking… what is this white chick doing wearing Ankara?  Actually, some of you may just find it to be a pretty print.  Many mass retailers these days are taking Ankara, also known as Dutch wax print and silkscreening it on all types of fabrics and all types of garments and calling it a “floral” or “tribal print.”  It’s hard in the land of fast fashion to always know what exactly you are wearing and if it’s cultural appropriation.  Ankara has gained popularity in the past seasons, and has been seen far more often on celebrities and runways so here’s a few links providing the history and origin of Ankara:

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Nordstrom Rack – My Latest Shopping Experience

I recently had the opportunity to check out a local Nordstrom Rack, see their fall selection and do a little shopping. Continue reading to hear what I thought about the store, the selection, and what I ended up buying!

Continue reading…

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Review: Swimsuit Shopping with SwimSpot.com

Be you a size 6 or a size 26, it sucks shopping for woman’s swimwear. The fluorescent lighting in the fitting rooms, trying to gauge proper fit over your underwear, dealing with clueless shop staff, and being forced to examine all the trouble spots on your body.

Click here to read about my experience of swimsuit shopping with SwimSpot…