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Outfit Commentary: Elizabeth

Reader Elizabeth contacted me last month on Facebook, asking if I would do personal outfit and wardrobe critiques/commentary. She sent me a picture of her outfit, asking what I would do to it to change it up some. She said she had a lot of go to outfits that she felt were missing something and was looking for low-cost suggestions on how to jazz up more ordinary outfits.

Elizabeth’s outfit is J. Crew’s Arrow Sweater Jacket in Heather Gray, J. Crew’s Vintage Cotton Amour Tank in Dark Pewter, and Calvin Klein “Pencil” Jeans in Black. Her shoes are B.P. for Nordstrom’s “Bow Heels” which are no longer available, but are a black peeptoe with a 3” heel.

I love the look of mixing a cozy sweater with a top with some glam to it. It’s a great way to add some sparkle to a work-appropriate look. Also, by wearing jeans in a deep saturated black, they look more appropriate for the office and give a nice long slim line to the body. The heel height continues the long line, and makes this outfit great for drinks with the girls after work.

The top gets its sparkle and glam from ruffles – some from the knit of the tank, some from mesh; these ruffles are decorated with metallic dark gray beading. It is the type of decoration that can work well with additional sparkle from other accessories. Hematite (or faux/dark gray metallic) and smoke crystal jewelry would compliment it beautifully without bling overkill – some earrings with a little dangle, a thin chain with a small pendant that hits below the ribcage, or even one of those rope-style necklaces that you wrap around your throat like a scarf, letting the tassels hang below (I found one of these a few years ago at The Limited for an amazing clearance price). Though the top is a scoop neck leaving a lot of skin at the collar, I wouldn’t do a short necklace because it would ruin the long line of the outfit and actually would compete more with the ruffled detail. The only type of short necklace that would work is a very delicate one with a small charm or solitaire, the chain almost invisible, the necklace just adding a bit of sparkle.

You can find hematite and smoke crystal jewelry for amazingly low prices right now as that many stores consider it “winter” accessories – check out places like TJ Maxx, but also discount fashion shops like H&M and Forever 21 (and The Limited – looking online I like their Colorblock Chain Necklace, Rondell Pendant Cluster Necklace, and Black and Hematite Chain Necklace) – I often find amazing scores on jewelry at these retailers.

I don’t know how you feel about makeup, and I know this picture was taken at work, but I feel cosmetics can really make an outfit cohesive. Your fabulous glasses bring color up to your face, but for them to not steal the spotlight, it could look great to add some more color to your lips. Clinique’s Almost Lipstick in Black Honey is my go-top lipstick when I wear gray – it’s a sheer wash of color that can be darkened by more application. The shade is like a berry stain, but the lipstick has a nice natural looking shine. A lower-cost alternative is Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer in Fig. Again, apply one layer for a light color, add more layers for a darker color without feeling cakey or false. I also love using Clinique’s Almost Lipstick in Black Honey on my cheeks for a natural and subtle flush.

I love these items you have purchased (gosh I want all of them in my wardrobe!). They make a cute outfit together, but could also work individually:

I see the tank with a black blazer and dark jeans for a night out on the town, it could even be tucked in and worn with a suit for a corporate affair. Layer it with a darker gray or black tissue-weight tank underneath so you have a higher neckline and wear just them with those jeans, a pair of big silver hoops, and pointy-toed heeled booties. Come summer, that top can look quite seasonally appropriate with white jeans. I also think it would look great with a longer, slim v-neck boyfriend color – black or gray are a given, but you could really switch it up with mustard, chartreuse, or a deep berry shade.

That sweater just looks so cozy, yet luxe. I would love to see it with even more sparkle – a sequined tank in ivory and jeans or even some tweed trousers would be lovely. It could be used like a blazer and be worn over simple structured dresses, or a crewneck and pencil skirt. Try a different silhouette by buttoning just the top two buttons so it nips in at your smallest point and flares out for a feminine silhouette. I would also love it with a thin, long oblong scarf looped at your throat – it wouldn’t add bulk but would keep with the cozy theme and make a great relaxed weekend or Casual Friday look.

And those jeans, fantastic. Great color and length makes them so versatile! They could be tucked into boots, worn with flats, with ankle booties, and as you have shown, can totally rock with a pair of heels!

Want me to do an outfit commentary for you?  Email me your photo and details!

More Outfits!

I hear you loud and clear, you desire more outfit posts. And I so want to provide them to you, but it’s hard to do when I have to be at work early, and now with winter coming it’s still dark when I leave for work at a normal hour. While I will still provide at least one outfit post a week, do know there’s almost daily outfit pictures on my Instagram account. Be it a weekend wedding, the most Casual Friday on earth, or a standard workday, I will post my outfit there. Along with outfit pictures, I share more of my daily life – where I go, what I do, and a lot about Emerson.  It’s also a fun way to know more about you and connect in a different manner.  I hope to see you there!

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Instead of an Outfit…

I don’t try to discuss politics on this blog. I have very strong views, but I keep them to my Twitter account or in real life conversations. However I saw this gif this week regarding The Motion Picture Association of America and had to share:

No matter your political views, there’s some serious issues going on right now regarding women – their health, their rights, their position in this society. This quote from Ryan Gosling is a few years old but still quite pertinent, and it’s a lot easier to digest when a good-looking man is stating it. While this quote from Gosling is in regards to an issue with the MPAA, it also is an example of the current direction of  American society in regards to women.  And while I am on this topic, if you haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale… do it.  Do it now, and if you can try to finish it up before election day and come back and let me know what you think.

Okay, finished with politics, carry on.

I finished the Beth Ditto memoir, as did my husband. Super quick read, but that doesn’t mean it’s full of fluff. Felt more like a conversation you have with a relatively new friend over several glasses of wine in an almost-empty bar while on a vacation or business trip. That kind of conversation that goes down as easy as that third glass of Malbec, but during it you open all sorts of closets full of skeletons and learn why each other are the way they are and your friendship and respect for each other deepens. I loved Beth Ditto and Gossip before reading the book and now love and understand them even more. 

Quick reminder – You can save on most online purchases with a few extra clicks.  I just had a conversation with a friend about this.  I do most of my shopping online because it’s easy and quick. I always go to Ebates first to get cash back. Ebates often has coupon codes listed for different online retailers, but I also Google Retailmenot [name of store]” and if that doesn’t work “Promo code [name of store] [current month and year]” to find the most up-to-date deals on the Web. By doing this the other day, I saved $50 on a pair of shoes. Too bad they didn’t fit, but that’s why I primarily shop at places with free shipping and returns!

Has anyone done hypnosis to stop chewing your nails and/or cuticles? This is the worst habit I have and while it wasn’t cute as a kid, it’s downright grody as an adult. The more stressed I am and the less sleep I get, the more I do it and right now my hands are pretty dreadful. I have tried the gross-tasting polishes, tried regular manicures, tried regular moisturizing to no avail and really feel I need to kick the habit before I turn 40.

Yesterday was the first time when Emerson cried as I left for work. She has always been so… adult about me leaving each day. “It’s okay Mommy, grownups come back.” (Thanks Daniel Tiger for that PSA.) Yesterday was a different thing where she begged me to not leave her and she ran to me when I came home as though she hadn’t seen me in a year. It was hard driving to work yesterday, and I was kind of glad this morning I had to leave before she woke.

Last night Karl made us DLTs for dinner. What are DLTs you ask? Oat nut bread, mayonnaise (want to be 100% vegan, go ahead with the Nayonaise), field greens, sliced tomato, cracked black pepper, and toasted dulse. The dulse toasted gets a crunch similar to bacon and the taste… well it tasted like a sushi BLT. I was thinking of making a wrap with Boston lettuce, cucumber slices, smoked salmon, a bit of cream cheese and dulse for lunch later this week. My husband now wants to throw dulse in everything but it’s such a strong and specific flavor, I think it needs to be used thoughtfully so we don’t end up wanting to hurl each time we see it. Karl is famous for falling in love with an ingredient and using it to death – most recently with coconut oil. I went from loving Body Shop Coconut Body Butter and anything with coconut to feeling a tad queasy when I smell it on warm skin or in a warm dish. I really don’t want that to happen with dulse (though gotta say, reheating pizza in a pan with a touch of coconut oil is Ah-May-Zing!).

K has three photoshoots in the next week and then next weekend we’re heading to Key West to shoot a wedding (and have a mini vaca sans-bebe). I was looking forward to a quiet month after the insanity of late-summer wedding season, but we really only had a week or so to catch our breaths. I almost wrote, “Good thing we don’t have any more shoots on the books after this” but then realized after Key West it’s holiday season which means backdrops and lights in our dining room and weekends at the lake and other picturesque locales. We’ll sleep when we’re dead, at least we’re doing things we love!

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Instead of an Outfit…

Today I’m wearing a pretty cute outfit – a gorgeous jade green drapey jersey top courtesy of Gwynnie Bee (one of their new arrivals), with these jeans from Jag which are utterly brilliant, and my leopard flats. I didn’t take pictures because I decided to use that time to have breakfast with my family. I adore this blog, but am finding it’s taking more and more time and am trying to look for ways to better schedule my time without losing quality (either in life or in blog content).

Speaking of which, I will be having theme days on the blog so you’ll sort of know what to expect. Don’t worry, I won’t be having Wishing for Designer Bags Monday or Instagram Friday, but I will continue to do an Ask Allie every Wednesday that is about pairing and styling clothing, and will continue to have the True Fashionista series each Friday. I’m also toying with having Saturday posts that are more like this – random ramblings and updates that can’t fill an entire blog post on their own. Outfit and advice posts will obviously continue, but I am not going to kill myself to churn them out on a daily basis. Likely they will still be daily, but I am taking off some of the pressure I have placed on myself as of recent.

I finished Stacy London’s book this week and I can’t stress enough how awesome it is. While I feel it’s a bit goofy to have her constantly use trendy phrases like amazeballs, the content is spot-on and really gets to the heart of the matter why many women are in a sartorial rut, fear or hate fashion, and believe style is only possible for the rich and thin. Even if you know your personal style, this book is a great read.

I forgot to mention on here, but I also finished Caitlin Moran’s book, How to Be a Woman. I know she got some justified flack this past weekend on Twitter, but I still think she’s pretty inspiring and her book is a good read. I think if it was 100 pages shorter it would have had more impact, but I think it’s a great memoir about her life and her view on feminism. If you think feminism is passé or a bad word, consider checking this book out and you may change your opinion. I’d call it Feminism Light, which isn’t a bad thing – it actually makes it digestible and clear to those who hear the word and think only of these characters from Portlandia:

I love fashion and beauty, I find it charming when a man holds a door for me, I admire and respect mothers who choose to stay home to raise their children, and I spent much of my pregnancy barefoot in the kitchen (the cold ceramic tile did wonders for PUPPPS), but I am a feminist. And I am betting if you are reading this blog, there’s a feminist inside you too!

I desperately need to get to the salon. I miss my stylist Kathleen desperately, and I am also doing bad things to my hair like dying it at 4am with a box of Natural Instincts that I found in the back of the linen closet and trimming bangs with cuticle scissors. Such antics were fine at 25 but not so cute at 37.

I’m really excited for this Tuesday. My friend Maria, who is also a blogger and PR person is working with DC Wine Week to host Red, Burgundy, and Plum: A Night of Fashion and Wine at Lost Society DC. Open wine bar, yummy food, fashion, and some of the most fabulous people in the city – I can’t wait! I’d love it if you came as well, and considering who is hosting this event I KNOW it’s going to be fabulous!

This weekend is our dear friends’ son’s birthday party and Emerson can NOT wait. Since their son’s birthday is so close to Halloween they make the event a costume party. While she said she wanted to be a “princess witch… or a princess pirate” for Halloween (figure both include a black tutu and a crown and the rest is her imagination and choice between “Yo Ho Ho!” or her crazy “diabolical laugh”) I couldn’t pass up the great deal on a bee costume from Old Navy. On sale and then I had a coupon for an additional 30% off so it ended up being about $10. Emerson is Princess Bumble Bee today and I bet tomorrow as well, and can’t wait to be in full bee regalia Saturday.

So I have dropped Weight Watchers. I never go, and lately my husband has been on a cooking kick, flying through the amazing recipes in this book. We haven’t gone full vegetarian again, but we’re going meatless during the week and cutting down on eggs and dairy. Our goal is to make animal products a treat instead of something we gobble without thought. We’re both finding that our vegan meals are far more filling – we eat half of what we regularly consume and are left sated – no growing tummies, no sluggishness, just not hungry any more. The gym at my new office building opens up next week so I hope to stop by there a couple times a week. I honestly don’t care if I remain this size for the rest of my life, I just want to be healthy and strong and have a good quality of life for as long as possible. I can tell when I have gained and my body just doesn’t perform as well, but I also realize that getting smaller requires a major life change and I am accepting that I just don’t have the time or desire right now for that. Virgin FreeFest reminded me of how strong I was – while I was worn out the day after, I was proud at how I kept going the whole day without being fatigued, in pain, or needing to rest. I love that I can go on a hike for two or more hours with my husband and keep up without pain or stress, and I love that when I am eating healthy real food I sleep better and my skin looks and feels amazing. For me, that means more than the size of my jeans.

A proper post will happen tomorrow, but for today you get my random ramblings. I’d love to hear from you – what book should I read next (just ordered the Beth Ditto memoir, but I usually read two books at a time)? TV season has returned, what show should I add to my DVR? What fun things have you been up to?

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My Year in Outfits

It’s funny, sometimes the outfits I put together that I love the most are the ones that receive the fewest comments. And of course, the outfits I don’t really feel are often the ones that you all adore. I went through all my outfits from 2012 (all 154 of them!) and these are my very favorites – favorite separates, favorite accessories, favorite memories from wearing the ensembles.

It has been a pleasure sharing my personal style, my ideas on fashion, and my life with all of you the past seven years and I look forward to more years of fashion fun! Happy holidays, and may you have a 2013 full of health and happiness!

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Best of 2013: Outfits Edition

In 2013 I did fewer outfit posts, but they were more true to my personal style than the year prior. In trying to simplify blogging, I decided to dress for life instead of the blog, and take outfit posts when the stars aligned. It was a year of many early days at the office, and many weeks where I was pretty proud just to be wearing my clothes rightside-out. But the plus to all this is that there were outfits I documented that I recall fondly, and have as much a mark on my memory as a great night out with friends or a mind-blowing concert.

Outfit 1, 2, 3, 4

The New Style

I said I was going to simplify my wardrobe’s color story with shades of black, gray, and blue. Many of you were concerned by this, but few of you noticed I really did trim down the amount of color in my wardrobe. While I would occasionally rock a colorful frock from Gwynnie Bee or a statement piece in a bold hue, I purchased almost no new brightly-colored pieces in 2013, focusing on the simpler color palette and choosing quality and interesting details.  Be it a plaid flannel or a boho maxi dress, I bought far more blue than in the past, and was pleased by the results. 

Outfit 1, 2, 3, 4

Blue Jean Baby

There was a staffing change at my company, and denim became a tad more acceptable on Monday through Thursday. I took full advantage of this and looked for ways to incorporate jeans into a work-friendly look. After many years of finding no jeans to fit, I had luck with Gap’s Real Straight, which I purchased in dark rinse (ankle and heel lengths), and distressed. My Gap Sexy Boyfriend Jeans had another year of being well-worn, as did my NYDJ Hayden and Marilyn jeans, which slipped into tall boots quite nicely.

 Outfit 1, 2, 3, 4

Fashion can be Fun!

Though I simplified my color palette and tried to purchase fewer pieces, I still had a ton of fun with fashion. The leopard MICHAEL Michael Kors dress was one of my best purchases from the end of 2012; I wore it to work, to blogging events, even out to dinner for my birthday. When I saw these harem pants at a street festival booth, I HAD to have them and wore them quite a lot through the summer and early fall. The crazy dress from Gwynnie Bee was a show-stopper and a reminder of why I love their subscription service. The maxi skirt was one of many purchases I made this year at Etsy, trying to support smaller businesses and show you don’t have to hit the mall for fabulous style.

I look forward to 2014 in regard to my personal style. The blog has really helped me to see what I wear with fresh eyes, and help me balance my personality, lifestyle, figure, and age. I’m buying with more care, after a couple of years purchasing fun things that made me feel good, reminded me of my life before becoming a mom. But I’ve grown into my new life and love it, and want to dress it appropriately and with joy. And I’m glad you’re here with me for the journey!

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Unexpected Versatility: Creating Outfits not Capsules

I’ve been wearing the LOFT Custom Stretch Trousers for several years. They’re machine washable, a classic professional cut, match some blazers, and the 14 petite is the perfect length for me with low heels. However, I craved a change of silhouette and on a whim tried the Banana Republic Ryan pants (also in 14 petite). These are the kinds of pants I have always steered clear from – they have side pockets which usually emphasize my lower belly, they’re ankle length which can shorten me and draw attention to my thick ankles, they taper slightly which is against the rules for tomato body figure flattery. But I got them… and I love them (see me wear them in this post). They were worn usually 2-3 times a week all winter and I loved how when I broke my toe they looked cute with my brogues and other flat shoes.

So when I saw the Ryan pants were available in navy pinstripe, I bought them (and the matching jacket). Before they arrived to my home, I regretted the purchase. I rarely wear navy pants because shoe choice is so tough. And I have a wardrobe based on black, how is navy going to work? Well they work, and they work better than the black pants.

Who would have thought a black basics-loving gal like myself would choose navy pinstripe over black?

Who would have thought navy pinstripe pants could be so versatile?

It’s easy to stick to basics. Black goes with everything, right? True… but it can get boring fast. A slightly different color, print, texture, or silhouette can really change things up in a good way. Going against the grain can give your wardrobe a new life and help you see the beauty that is already residing in your closet. How many times have you felt like you have nothing to wear yet have a wardrobe full of clothes that fit? It’s usually because what you own is either too boring, or you’re not shopping with your life or current closet in mind. In this day and age of capsule wardrobes being the cure-all, it’s usually the former. We buy what we think is versatile and simple, but after a couple months it can get worn out – literally, or emotionally. Enter the unexpected, the navy pinstripe ankle pant.

Below I’ve made eight different outfits that I have worn with these pants. There’s plenty more I have worn, and likely more I will create as the weather gets warmer. But it’s a good way to see how a non-traditional “basic” can be quite versatile. It also shows how you don’t need a capsule for cohesiveness in your wardrobe. Note how I don’t have a ton of variety – bold silver or delicate gold and the same shoes (which also mostly adhere to that non-traditional basic idea) can work in a variety of ways.

outfit 2pants | sweater | necklace | bracelet | shoes

The outfit is essentially what I wore in this post and have worn to work a couple of times.  This look shows how you can mix stripes with stripes.  I recommend mixing very clearly different stripes – a smaller striped top won’t give the same effect as a rugby stripe.  And leopard print is a neutral, adding these shoes gives a very purposeful look.  Delicate gold jewelry is added for polish but they’re small enough to not compete with all the other prints.

outfit 8pants | blazer | tee | shoes | necklace

Again, this is a variation of an outfit I have worn on the blog (see here).  While that outfit was done with gold accessores, I’ve most recently worn this to work with silver pumps and a silver collar necklace.  If your office is more conservative, this look can be achieved with a silk or crepe shell in most any color and a shoe in a light colored snakeskin.  I chose white, but consider pale pink or coral, and come fall this would look chic with burgundy or mustard and a cognac or camel shoe.

outfit1pants | top | necklace | shoes

This outfit I am wearing as I type this. I recently got this shell from Boden, and liked how the print worked with the pinstripe.  It shows how a pant like this can easily transition into summer.  I half-tucked this shell; it’s tucked and bloused out in front and left untucked in back.  I also added this silver watch for a bit more shine.

outfit 3pants | sweater | belt | shoes | necklace

Blood orange is my signature color and I regularly look for pieces in it to add to my wardrobe. The color looks great with black and denim, but it also makes a great contrast with navy. This lightweight sweater from Ann Taylor is spring-friendly, but this look could be done with a blouse or knit with any sleeve length. The color could be different too, but the goal is a contrast and bold shade that takes the spotlight. Hot pink, turquoise, mustard, coral… choose the color that makes you feel good. I’ve also done this with nude pumps and a statement necklace.

outfit 4pants | shirt | belt | shoes | bracelet

I wear this look almost weekly because it’s effortless yet chic looking, polished but comfortable. I bought a navy silk camp shirt at Ann Taylor several years ago and it has been a good buy, working with a surprising number of pieces in my closet (and I love it with black skinny jeans and black boots!). The gold chain belt is what pulls it together and makes it elegant, not disheveled.

outfit 5pants | tee | necklace | shoes | bracelet | bandana

I work in a casual office; I can only wear jeans on Friday but during the week it’s not surprising to see coworkers in casual chinos and slip-on sneakers. So this is a look I can wear to the office, but have also worn on the weekend. I’ll wear the scarf cowboy style; you could easily switch it out for a silk scarf and tie it at the throat for a different effect.  This could be dressed up with a sleeveless blouse in place of the linen tee, or dressed down with a pair of slip-on sneakers in place of the brogues.

outfit 6pants | denim jacket | tee | shoes | bracelet | necklace

Pinstripe is a work-friendly pattern that can have a punk or rock and roll edge. I like pairing it with casual pieces like band tees and distressed denim. This is a look I would wear on a Friday or the weekend, and have switched out a band tee for an ironic message or graphic pattern or even a solid v-neck. Adding the denim jacket is a way to temper a stripes with stripes look or a very bold colored top. This too would look cute dressed down with some Chucks or Vans.

outfit 7pants | shirt | shoes | bracelet | belt | necklace

Speaking of denim, this look was put together when I grabbed in the early morning light what I thought was my navy silk camp shirt but realized it was my dark denim Banana Republic shirt. The shirt is soft and drapes nicely, and I ended up really liking the combination. The heavier fabric needed a stronger shoe; the leopard calfhair is up for the challenge while still keeping the look appropriate for a business casual office. The gold accessories make the denim purposeful. Do note I tried later with my lighter colored denim shirt that has Western details and it did NOT look as good.  This works because the denim shirt I have is low on details, dark in color, and soft fluid material.  You could instead switch out this shirt for a button-front in white or even a bold color.

While my example is navy pinstripes, this could work with so many different things – a pair of red work trousers, a leopard print pencil skirt, cobalt ankle pants, or another neutral pattern like grey pinstripe, tweed, or windowpane plaid.  It’s appealing to take a capsule wardrobe and use it like a recipe to sartorial freedom, but it can often shove you in a box that doesn’t take into consideration your figure, your lifestyle, and your personality.  Use a capsule wardrobe as a concept to see how you can make a variety of looks from a few pieces in your closet, but know there is versatility past a monochromatic minimalist look.  You can have color, whimsy, and your personality and still create a lot of fashion without a bursting closet!

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My Favorite Outfits from 2015

This was a year where I was finding myself again. I turned 40, I was coming back from a tough year with health and personal issues, and my body changes faster than the seasons. However, I do feel I found my groove again and redefined my personal style. Some of my favorite outfits from 2015 that I shared on the blog:


Wardrobe Oxygen Best of 2015 Winter Outfit PostsWinter begins and ends 2015, so it’s a combo of old and new.  This first look was only a few weeks ago and encompasses many pieces I recently purchased, pieces I’ve had and loved for years, all blended together to make a whole look full of favorites.  The J. Crew Factory denim jacket was a smart purchase this year; I have worn in quite a lot as a blazer replacement and also a lightweight jacket for this surprisingly mild winter.  The skirt is also from J. Crew Factory and has a texture as well as being of one of my favorite prints – leopard!  The second look is from the beginning of the year; I got this jumpsuit from Karen Kane a couple years ago and love how it’s stretchy, machine washable but gives a glam look.  I paired with my Great Aunt’s fur stole and a few strands of costume pearls from Nordstrom for a great night out ensemble.  The third look is what I wore when Karl and I went out to dinner for my 40th birthday and also encompasses so many favorites.  I’ve learned a not-so little black dress in ponte knit is a wardrobe workhorse; I’ve had this one for years and it’s so versatile.  The coat is from Talbots and is a fave, and the boots are older than Emerson.


Wardrobe Oxygen Best of 2015 Spring Outfit PostsWardrobe Oxygen Best of 2015 Spring Outfit PostsI spent a portion of spring recovering from my final arm surgery and wearing a splint, but it didn’t stop me from having fun with fashion.  The first look shows my most expensive dress purchase to date; I never have spent over $300 (I don’t even think over $200) on a dress before but I’ve had it for a year and I don’t regret it at all.  I wore this dress from Myne LA for my blog party, to a fancy dinner date with Karl, to my friend’s book launch, to a couple parties and even to the office and know I will wear it a lot in the future.  The second look showcases my ‘happy dress.’  I must wear this dress at least once a month; it’s stretchy, machine washable, and such a fun pattern.  It’s perfect for parties and blog events and I often throw it on even to go to dinner in town because it lifts my spirits.  This exact print is no longer available but you can find this same dress in a multitude of patterns on Etsy.  BTW if you like that bag, I am selling it on Poshmark (no need for multiple red bags in my life!).  The third look has become my uniform.  I never thought I’d be a pink gal, but I have gotten a lot of wear out of this and all my Vince Camuto blazers.  Here I paired it with an Old Navy tee and JAG Jeans.  Speaking of JAG Jeans I’ve worn them for years but this year I partnered with them, was able to try more styles and became a mega fan (wearing a pair as I type this!).


Wardrobe Oxygen Best of 2015 Summer Outfit PostsI spent most of my summer in bold prints and realized that while I may be drawn to clean minimalist looks I am the most “me” in a flowing dress or skirt in a bold pattern. The first look was my summer weekend staple; a band tee and a crisp cotton skirt that doesn’t cling in DC humidity.  I bought this Ankara skirt a couple years ago and still love it.  If you follow me on Instagram you know I wore this jumpsuit quite a lot during the summer.  In this second look I paired the jumpsuit with tan leather and a denim jacket, but I often just wore it loose with a bold necklace and my silver BirksThe final look was my most worn dress of the summer; I rented it from Gwynnie Bee and loved it so much I kept it (I love how you can buy items you rent and fall in love with!).


Wardrobe Oxygen Best of 2015 Autumn Outfit PostsI started really purging my wardrobe this fall, and by doing it I found a lot of pieces I really loved that weren’t getting enough wear.  This first look is a typical workday ensemble; I’ve had this Lands’ End top for at least a decade and paired it with a citron wool skirt from Talbots, bright blue Dagne Dover tote, and a red bandanna.  I believe leopard is a neutral and wore a pair of pumps in that print to finish off the look.  I was so honored when Beth at Style at a Certain Age said she was inspired by this look (one of my favorite blogs!).  The second look isn’t my favorite in regards to the outfit but for the costar.  Our dog Cindy is an amazing lady and a warrior.  She had a stroke a couple weeks ago and we were terrified it was the end.  She couldn’t walk straight, had her head cocked strangely, couldn’t drink water and couldn’t get down the deck stairs into the yard.  However within 24 hours she was able to bunny hop down the steps and drink and the next day she was walking relatively straight.  While she is resting more than before, she has regained all her functionality and her amazing sense of humor.  We’re so glad, this world is a better place with Cindy in it!  And the last look has become a go-to when I want to feel festive.  I’ve worn it to a couple events, a concert, and even to the office.  I’ve had this Gap denim shirt for a couple years, but just picked up this maxi Ankara skirt this year.  It was custom made so no need to hem, and there’s pockets!  I felt a black bag would be too typical so switched it up with this awesome brown leather clutch from Brynn Capella; while it hasn’t been on the blog a lot the bag gets a lot of use and has quickly become a favorite in my wardrobe!

I find having a fashion blog and doing this year-end recaps is a good way to really see my wardrobe and how my personal style is evolving.  Journaling your style evolution is a great way to get a grasp on your wardrobe; seeing it in black and white (or full color in your phone’s album) helps you see patterns, pieces that truly are worn the most, how things fit and flatter.  I know it has really helped me decide what I don’t really need in my closet too!

Ask Allie: Interview Outfit Advice

I am interviewing for my medical residency postgraduate training position and had a fashion query. I got these really flattering black pants from Ann Taylor but wasn’t really comfortable with the short length of the blazer for they didn’t cover my bum; would a boyfriend blazer work or would it be too casual?

A true “boyfriend” blazer is oversized. The name comes from some outdated idea that women are smaller than their obviously male partners and if we put on their clothes, we’d find them oversized and slouchy. A “boyfriend” blazer often has rolled sleeves, shoulder pads, and a squarer shape, along with being longer (often hitting low hips to below the rear). A true “boyfriend” blazer wouldn’t be the best choice for your interview as it would be too casual.

However, you provided a link to two blazers that while they are called “boyfriend” by the company, they actually are not. These jackets are tailored with seaming to nip in at the waist, proper buttons, and look to hit mid-hip. If in a more refined fabric (classic suiting, gabardine, wool, triacetate, etc.) such a style would be quite appropriate for your interview.

Since the piece comes from a different retailer, instead of trying to have both in the same color, consider purposeful contrast. This way it won’t look mismatched. Since your trousers are black, consider a jacket in taupe, tweed, dark plum, even ivory or cream. If you choose a lighter color jacket, be sure it is well-fitting and consider a dark-colored or black blouse underneath to make the look more professional and cohesive.

I just bought a great black pantsuit but have no idea what to wear underneath. What looks more sophisticated for an interview, a button-front shirt, a silky tee, or a knit shell? Do I have to tuck it in?

All three are great choices, dependent on the actual piece, your body, and the interview. Button-front shirts can give a crisp, professional look if you have the figure. I don’t recommend them for interviews if you are busty or have a soft belly as they can be unflattering and gape when you sit. However if you have the personality or figure for such a shirt, it’s a classic choice; I recommend tucking it in for a professional look.

Silk tees, blouses, and knit shells are all great choices for interviews. This doesn’t mean a refined tee shirt, an old sleeveless sweater with fuzz balls on it, or a red satin blouse. Something that is in crisp, pristine condition, a professional silhouette (no cleavage or skin tight), and a flattering color.

Speaking of color… color is a GOOD thing! What you wear under your suit is a good way to show your personality. Be it a frilly ivory blouse, a pink cashmere tee, crisp gray button-front, or a dark red silk knit tank, it’s a simple way to add some of you to your interview look.

My boyfriend bought me [statement necklace from J. Crew] and I love it. Can I wear it with a gray pantsuit and pink shell for a job interview?

I suggest you don’t. While the necklace is gorgeous and on trend… it’s a bit too trendy for an interview. While I do encourage you to wear jewelry and add a bit of yourself to your interview outfit, a necklace that makes such a bold statement may speak louder than you and your resume. Who you are and what you can offer to the company is the priority during an interview; you don’t want to look as though you care more about what you wear than what you say. Consider a smaller, or less flamboyant necklace to add a bit of interest, but not take the spotlight.

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Randoms Outfits from the Past Week

Work has been hectic, life outside has been hectic, and I haven’t been good about getting daily outfit posts up here. Here’s some peeks into what I have been wearing lately:

I can’t recall what day this was… think it was the end of last week? It was an early morning and a very long day, so not much done with the hair… and I think this was with jeans but can’t even remember any more!  Lands End Canvas tee (seen here), new scarf I got from Nordstrom Rack (seen here).

This past weekend I went to a baby shower for a friend… and they had a belly dancer! Totally cool – way better than “guess the melted candy bar” (gag me with a spoon)!  They passed out little Shakira hip scarves for us to wear and we got lessons from the dancer!  Ann Taylor sweater (seen here), Old Navy jeggings (seen here), Miss Sixty booties.

Yesterday was a super crazy work day, but I got a chance to dash to Ann Taylor at lunch to see if I could find this jacket in my size (no luck) and also meet up with Jill from Presenza. Presenza makes really cute tops for women with large busts and I am going to be doing a promotional event with them. Jill wanted to size me, and I got to check out many of these great tops in person – what great fabric! Will keep you posted on this!  J. Crew tee (seen here), Ann Taylor skirt (seen here), my trusty XXL H&M scarf (seen here), Sofft sandals. (And thanks Jill for snapping this pic outside Ann Taylor!).

Today’s outfit post is on its way – a new Ann Taylor top with a skirt that I thought I lost with the hurricane but was able to fix (a little Dawn original dishwashing liquid, a little hand sewing, an iron and we’re almost as good as new!).

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Why I Blog my Daily Outfits

I don’t take pictures of myself because I think I am beautiful, or young, or a fashion maven. I don’t think I am perfect. I take pictures of myself because I am not perfect. I share my daily outfits because there aren’t enough examples out there of women who are not a model size, or model height, or have a model face who embrace fashion. I take these pictures to show you don’t have to be any of these things to have personal style, to have fun with fashion, and feel beautiful. All women deserve to realize how fabulous they are, and clothing is a great way for women to express themselves and flatter their body. I hope with each outfit post I motivate a fellow woman to try color, to embrace fashion, and find her own personal style.

If you think I post my pictures because I am a narcissist, you’re dead wrong and obviously not reading the text that accompanies the photos on this blog. And if you think I’m in love with myself… well you’re correct and I am damn proud of that fact. If you stop hating on other people, you may have the time to get to know yourself a bit better and realize you’re worth loving as well!

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Friday Favorite: ENO DoubleNest Hammock

Karl is an REI junkie. When you want to buy K a gift, if in doubt you can’t go wrong with an REI gift card. If he’s not home, there’s a good chance he’s at REI, he even worked there for a short period of time. He often comes home with the most random but awesome things. Several years ago (I’m guessing 3?) he came home with a two-person hammock from ENO (linked to Amazon where it’s cheaper at time of writing).

Karl’s not a small person and I’m not light as a feather, so I was immediately concerned about the idea of the two of us in this hammock at the same time. Nothing less romantic than trying to snuggle up to a loved one and cause fabric to tear and end up with bruised backsides. However, the ENO DoubleNest can hold 400 pounds, and I haven’t felt unsafe even when we were combined right at (or maybe a pound or four) over that number.

living room hammockliving room hammockOur living room hooks and the cross-beam on the deck with straps ready for the hammock

The hammock comes with carabiners on each end, which you can attach to straps and wrap around trees, connect to poles or hooks. We take it on every vacation, but Karl set up hooks in our living room and a crossbeam on our deck so it’s easy to hook up and use indoors or out. It has had some pretty serious use: two large adults wanting to swing, three six year olds wiggling around while watching a movie, many parent/kid cuddles on rainy or snowy afternoons, emergency guest bed for a visiting friend… it still looks brand new.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday morningA photo posted by Alison Gary (@wardrobe_oxygen) on

The hammock has its own compression pocket attached and when stuffed in it’s about the size of half a bed pillow and weighs hardly anything. When set up, the pocket is great for holding your phone or remote. It’s easy to shove in the corner of your car’s trunk or even a suitcase for a trip. If you follow me on Snapchat or Instagram, you know we LOVE our hammock. It gives this feel of a resort. Unlike rope hammocks, this one is opaque and if you’re in it by yourself it can sort of wrap around you like a cocoon which I like. It is more comfortable with two people in it, but all three of us often use it for a bit of alone chill time.

Don’t leave this hammock outside; this is one you want to protect from the elements to keep it strong and sturdy. We store it in our bay window behind the curtain; it’s easy to unpack and hook up in the living room or grab as we’re heading to the back deck. It’s fun to have a bit of luxury almost anywhere at any time for less than $75, and to know that luxury last through years and a family? Even better!


In the morning, I ran to get my hair cut and colored in the nearby town, and then run a few errands. Olive ribbed tank from J. Crew, white ribbed tank from Old Navy, Joe’s Jeans in “Provacateur,” brown stacked flops from J. Crew, silver hoops from The Icing, silver cuff.

Hair was brushed out but on the second day; blew the bangs straight.

Makeup was Body Shop bronzing powder in Light as face color, Max Factor Lash Perfection mascara on curled lashes, Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Pink Afterglow.

Kathleen did her magic – all I told her is that I wanted to go darker and that I wanted heavier bangs. I trust her, and was not disappointed. Choppy layers that can work straight, wavy or curly, fun sideswept bangs, and a very rich multi-tonal color of dark brown that looks closer to what I was born with.

Got home and had to dash to get dressed. Friday night I had a friend over so I didn’t have time to play dress-up and figure out my theater outfit. Thank you soooo much to everyone who wrote in suggestions, you guys are awesome and have good ideas! For the one who suggested my Old Navy dress… I completely forgot about it. I had set to wear my black cashmere tank from Banana Republic and my orange-red shantung full skirt also from Banana (seen here), but when I saw how spiffy and sleek my husband looked (flat front gray tropical wool trousers from J. Crew, white tailored shirt from some brand sold at Mens Wearhouse, black blazer from… J. crew? Not sure…, black slip-on sleek shoes from Ecco) I decided my outfit may look a bit like a costume. I tried a few different skirts, but settled on the black matte jersey dress from Old Navy, my red stone necklace, my leopard peep-toe heels from BCBgirls,silver hoops from The Icing, and silver cuff natch. 🙂

Didn’t have to do my hair since it was done by Kathleen my talented stylist. She used the Pureology line on me, and swears by it for protecting color. I bought the shampoo and conditioner and once I can wash my hair (was told to go as long as humanely possible without washing) I will be using it and let you k now how it is.

Same makeup as earlier, just a re-touch of the bronzing powder, a bit of Smashbox Soft Lights in Tint on my cheekbones, a medium line of Maybelline Ultra Liner in black on the top lash line, a quick swipe of Maybelline Great Lash waterproof mascara in black over existing mascara, Body Shop Lip and Cheek Tint with Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Pink Afterglow over it.

We took the Metro and it was not even a block to the little restaurant (I don’t know if there are even 20 tables in the place). The menu seemed different from the one online and the only entrees that were vegetarian were spaghetti with tomato sauce (yawn) and a risotto with corn and truffle shavings. My husband and I chose the risotto, we shared a bottle of Pinot Grigio (not sure the label, our friend chose the wine) and had a nice, yet not inspiring or overwhelmingly unique meal. We then walked not even three blacks to the Kennedy Center where my friend and I sidestepped grates in our heels (she too wore a black sheath and heels) while the men tromped over everything and got there in time to marvel at the acre-sized curtains in the lobby and get a cocktail in the Terrace Bar prior to the performance.

The performance was great! As I said, I had never seen The Phantom of the Opera other than the movie. Back story – 1992, for Christmas I got my first boom box with a CD player in it, and with it two CDs – Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera. For several months until I got my high school arsenal of REM, Depeche Mode, Pearl Jam and Nirvana, I listened solely to these two soundtracks. Come 2007, I am silently singing along to this performance and even a tear came down my cheek at finally seeing live what I had in my head 15 years ago. I think also seeing Shakespeare in Love the night prior made the theater experience that more intense.

Our friends live in Virginia and parked at the theater; it was a gorgeous night and declined their offer to drive us to the Metro and decided to hoof it. All in all a lovely evening!

Tuesday’s Tip – Making the Clearance Rack Your Friend

When I go into a store, the first place I look is the clearance or sale rack. I don’t want to be tempted by full priced items when a good equivalent is available at half the price in the back of the store. Even when planning my wedding I first scored sample sales and discount bridal shops before even looking at a single full-priced gown. It is better to buy quality instead of quantity, but just because it’s on a sale rack does not mean it’s poor quality or lacking style or fashion.

Take Your Time
Clearance racks are a mess. Why waste good salespeople hours in cleaning up the back of the store when the real money making is in the front displays of new product? Because of this, do not limit your search to the section designated with your size. Take the time to flip through all the racks. You may find a size 10 amongst the size 2s or a great size Small blouse hidden amongst size 14 blazers. Grab everything that even remotely appeals to you, and a few things you would not usually consider. The best way to spend money on trendy pieces and unusual finds is to pay for them at a discount – less buyer’s remorse.

Sizes Can Be Deceiving
Sometimes items are on sale racks because they are missized. I have tried on size 6 jackets that are too big for me and size 14s that are skin tight. Don’t just look at the label – pull the item from the rack and see if it may possibly fit. Often the missized items are at a super reduced price because they are being looked over.

Consider a Tailor
I decided to write this post because of my clearance rack prize of yesterday. Sueded cotton trench, hip cut, gorgeous color, originally $179 on sale for $29.99. No obvious flaws but the coat was too large for me – I am petite and it is not. It is an XL and a generous cut, I am not. I bought the awesome bargain after trying it on and seeing that the shoulders were fitting decently, though the sleeves were past my fingers, the waist was too big and the length too long. I took it to my local dry cleaner and for $35 she is shortening the arms and hem and nipping in the waist. So for $65 I got a $179 jacket that is perfect for the upcoming fall.

Sleeves that are too long, hems dragging on the ground, gaping waists and baggy jackets can all be easily fixed by a neighborhood tailor or dry cleaner. They can also replace missing buttons, broken zippers and some torn seams. If the price is right, often the tailoring still keeps the garment at a discounted price. I have bought suiting pants 75% off just because the zipper is broken, a suede blazer at 80% off because the lining had pulled away from the jacket body.

Do not invest in garments that are stained (salespeople usually try to remove the stains with a cleaning fluid, if it’s still stained it probably won’t come out in the wash or at the cleaners), torn (resewing a seam may make the item fit differently), irregular (remember quality is key – no one should be wearing a sweater with two different sleeve lengths) overly large (tailor costs will be insane and the true look of the garment will be lost) or too small (don’t buy for the body you hope to have, buy for the current you. Also tailors can’t make things larger – there’s usually not enough fabric at the seams and if they attempt the fit of the garment will be compromised).

If You Don’t Love It…
Don’t buy it. Would you buy it if it were full price? If the answer is a quick “no” leave the item in the fitting room. Just because an item is cheap does not mean you can scrimp on cut, style or fit. A 50% markdown does not justify a gaping armhole, an unflattering color or even a staple that you really have enough of already. The world sees you and your outfit, not the reduced price. They don’t know if what you bought cost $200 or $20, they just know it doesn’t look good, doesn’t flatter your body or your personality. Every dollar in your wallet is precious, don’t waste it on crap. If you can’t imagine the item with at least two other things in your closet, it’s not worth your time or money.

True Fashionista: Vivi

It’s not easy to shop when you’re not built like a mannequin. A couple hours in a shopping mall can really destroy a woman’s self-esteem and cause her to hate all fashion. I have mad respect for those who see the fun challenge in fashion, have that desire to prove that everyone can and deserves to look and feel amazing in clothes. I try to prove that myself, but I get a lot of my motivation from my fellow bloggers. One blogger I constantly find positive, creative, and inspiring is the effervescent Vivi from the blog Heart, Print & Style and this is why I asked her to be part of my True Fashionista series.

If Vivi looks familiar to you, it’s because I previously featured her and her great style. Vivi has amazing thrifting skills, and is able to find the most unique, chic, and flattering pieces in our local second-hand shops. And yes, I wrote we, because Vivi lives in the same town I do. We met at a CapFABB event and have been buddies ever since. Vivi has been trying to get me to go thrifting with her and a quick glance at her blog will show it would be in my best interest to do so. Now that I am paring down on blogging,I may have a chance this spring to experience Vivi’s expert thrifting first-hand!

What’s so great about Vivi, other than her knowing herself, her figure, and her life so well and expressing it through her fashion choices, is how nice she is. In the blogosphere, there’s a lot of frenemies, faux buddies, and outfor-herselfers; in DC I have found quite the opposite and Vivi is one of the very sweetest I have met. She believe in the blogging community, supports her peers, and enjoys the entire social portion of blogging. Oh, and her tweets make me giggle out loud on a regular basis and I also enjoy following her on Instagram and Facebook.

Through her fashion, the commentary on her blog, and her in-person self, Vivi expresses happiness, individuality, and style. I’m honored to call her a friend, and honored that she was willing to share some of her thoughts on fashion and style. I asked Vivi the same five questions I ask each True Fashionista; here are her answers:

How would you describe your personal style?
Simple and subtle. It may not be the loudest style nor the trendiest (and I don’t mark myself as a trendy person) but there is just something there, y’know?

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
Early on. Growing up, I was really into drawing and creating outfits. Imaginative. Visual. Still am, really. Anywho, my brother and sister would be playing outside and calling me to play with them. And I’m like, nope. I’d rather be reading or drawing/creating outfits. I remember back when I was, like, 10 years old knowing that a sweetheart neckline looked great on me. I blame hitting puberty early.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
Blogs, blogs and more blogs. With a bit of InStyle and People Style Watch mixed in. Folks on the street aka people watching. Also, at times, music videos and TV shows.

What is the difference between fashion and style?
Fashion is what you see on scripted TV shows, movies, and/or magazines. Style is what you take from the fashion you see and making it your own. And there are some (truly lucky) folks out there that do not even pay attention to what the fashion industry says and yet still have a great sense of style. You either have it or you don’t.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
Just know what works best for you. Now, there’s nothing wrong with trying something new or following the latest trends. Just know that if you do not feel comfortable with what you’re wearing, it shows. If you look like you’re trying way too hard with an outfit, it shows. Also, I’m a huge lover of accessories. Sometimes, accessories say more about your style than the actual clothing. So start from there and work your look around the accessories.


The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style. Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion. These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you. Stay tuned, there will be a featured True Fashionista every Friday. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments you never know she may end up being featured!

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Contest: Tolani Scarf from

jessica alba tolani scarfTo celebrate me coming back to work and to blogging, I have a great contest for you readers!

One of you can win a Tolani scarf that has been seen on the likes of Jessica Alba (pictured), Sienna Miller, Vanessa Minnillo (pictured), Halle Berry and Mary-Kate Olsen.

The Tolani scarf is courtesy of, an awesome site that sells hip women’s designer clothing from the likes of Black Halo, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Diane Von Fürstenberg and Vera Wang Lavender Label.

I am so excited, because you KNOW I love scarves, and these beauts from Tolani are fabulous!

vanessa minnillo tolani scarfHow to enter:
Send an email to with the word “TOLANI” in the subject.
In the body of the email, please provide your name and mailing address (I promise these addresses will only go to me – except for the winner, and will be deleted once the contest is over). Winner will be chosen by random.

Contest ends Friday, March 20th, 2009 at midnight ET. Winner will be contacted by email. Scarf will be mailed out from Sorry international readers, but the contest is only open to those in the United States.

Get to know
Facebook (friend “shop chickdowntown” and/or become a fan of the chickdowntown page)
Twitter (
YouTube ( or

Good luck!


Black cashmere tank from Banana Republic, black ponte jacket from Banana Republic Outlet, Chinese red shantung skirt from Banana Republic (definite theme here!), leopard peeptoe heels from BCBGirls, gold necklace from Express, gold bangles from Ralph Lauren.

Hair was washed and conditioned, dried with my Croc wet-to-dry iron. No products.’

Makeup is L’Oreal True Match concealer in W1-3, Benefit’s That Gal, philosophy The Supernatural in Beige, Nars blush in Orgasm, Revlon ColorStay shadow quad in Neutral Khakis – ivory over whole lid. Lashes curled, two coats Cover Girl Lash Blast and one of Imju Fiberwig. Maybelline Ultraliner in black on top lash line and on lips is some Revlon Shiny Sheers in a sheer red that I left at home by accident so do not have to read the label.

I am not really sure what is going on with the layout of my posts; I have not done anything different so it must be that Blogger is being stupid again.

This outfit is inspired by Catie’s contest at Cuffington. This outfit makes me fabulous inside… though notsomuch when I walk past my reflection in a window. I adore this skirt, it is so much fun and the color is awesome. The cashmere tank is really thick and I have had it for years and got it for like $10 on the clearance rack. Jacket has given me many miles and I love its versatility and the shoes… oh I love these shoes so much I have two pairs of them! All that is missing is my silver cuff, this great green ring I bought at a Ren Fest and my wedding tiara and I would be wearing almost all my favorite things! 🙂 Too bad this skirt isn’t the most flattering (the one my husband says makes me look like Mimi from Drew Carey) or I would wear it every week! 🙂

Outlet Mall Shopping

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What I Wore: Real Red

Dress: Belle c/o Dobbin Clothing | Bag: “Erin” Satchel c/o Fossil | Tights: Nordstrom | Boots: Ros Hommerson  | Bracelets: had forever, Nordstrom (similar) | Watch: Citizen c/o WatchCo | Coat: Via Spiga

Fossil was kind enough to send me this bag and I immediately fell in love with the color. It’s not cherry, it’s not tomato, it’s not ruby or oxblood or any other fancy terms. It’s as clear and true of a red as a crayon. I checked the bag’s label and it’s called Real Red. I like that, no crazy made-up name, just what is exactly is. This bag is pretty phenomenal, and perfect for a commuter like me. Two side zipper pockets to hold things like farecards and lip balm, and inside there is a zipper pocket on one side, and the other side five different pockets to hold anything from a Smartphone or your keys to business cards and a pack of gum. And in this bag I have my wallet, Kindle (did you enter my Kindle giveaway?), makeup bag, myAgenda, sunglasses, gloves, journal, and two reusable containers to hold my lunch. Impressive! The crossbody strap is adjustable to become a shoulderbag, or it can be removed. I know this bag is going to be used quite a lot this season!

I never understand why street style models and bloggers wear their coats on their shoulders like a cape.  How can they move their arms?  Why not just put on the coat?  Then I realized on cold days I do this very thing – I wear the coat like a cape from the house and over my shoulders until Karl gets ready to take pictures.  This way my outfit doesn’t get as rumpled and I’m less likely to mess up my hair.  Karl got this picture of me in the coat at the beginning of the shoot and it showcases the coat I bought last winter on a whim and still adore a year later (and it’s still available at Nordstrom and now on sale!).

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Shop My Closet – On Poshmark!

WardrobeOxygen on PoshmarkI’ve been saying for a while that I needed to get off my tuchus and sell all the clothes I don’t currently wear. While I may clean out my closet I do have a dirty secret… I have bins and bags full of clothes in my attic (and there were a couple full contractor bags in my home office). I regularly donate career wear to a charity and have Freecycled and donated all my maternity clothes and clothes that are in “well loved” condition, but the nicer stuff I’ve been holding on to.

No more. All this clothing is doing no one favors being boxed and bagged up in my attic. A couple weekends ago, my best friend came over and for eight hours we dug through three bags. All pieces were photographed, packed up, labeled, and ready to ship. While I have used eBay and a Shop My Closet blog in the past, this time I decided to use Poshmark. My friend Alyson has raved about it for a long time and many of you have told me you use it with great success. It seemed simpler than eBay too.

For the past two weeks I have been using Poshmark and I have become as big of a fan as my friend Alyson! It’s an app-based program; while you can visit Poshmark on your computer, to buy and sell you need to do it on your phone. As a seller, I think this makes the process uber easy – my pictures are already on my phone so I can easily upload them, write a quick description, and even answer questions and negotiate counteroffers. I’ve found the customers to be more… reasonable than on eBay. You’re not usually expected to offer 5,000 measurements for a $6 LOFT tee, people are super friendly and quick to share and comment, and while I have had a couple ridiculous counter offers (no, I will not sell that NWT original retail still in the store $250 item for $15), in general it has been a friendly and painless experience.

Tips for Selling on Poshmark by Wardrobe OxygenA couple of you saw on social media that I was on Poshmark and have joined to buy and sell. If you’re interested, if you use this link and code PMZYS you’ll get $5 off your first order and I too will receive a $5 credit (find me, I am wardrobeoxygen).  There’s no auction or bidding, you can counter-offer and some sellers (myself included) offer  “bundling” where you can purchase multiple pieces from a seller at one time and save on shipping ($4.99/order).  If you’re interested in selling on Poshmark, here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • Be Honest.  Like other selling sites, Poshmark has a rating system.  Buyers can give you up to five stars for orders.  It’s not worth it to ruin your reputation by trying to pass off replicas, lie about the condition of a garment, or its original price.
  • Provide Details.  Is it an XL but fits more like a L?  How did you style it?  If you recall the original style name or number or even color name, include it.  While Poshmark won’t let you write a novel, you can offer quite a lot of information.  The more details you provide, the more likely the item will sell and the more likely the buyer will get what she expected and leave you a favorable rating.
  • Take Good Photos.  I use my iPhone 6s and take the pictures in natural light near a window.  For Christmas I got this dress form; it’s not high quality (in fact I cracked the base the day my friend and I were on a Poshmark selling spree and it’s now held together with packing tape) but it gives a better idea of how an item will fit than lying a sweater on your bed or floor.  If you have a photo of you wearing the item, include that too.  I also search the internet for stock photos of the item.  A mix of all three is a great way to get an item sold.  Poshmark lets you upload four photos per item with the first photo being your cover photo.  I’ve found the most successful cover photos are those with me wearing the piece.  If you don’t have a photographer taking your picture in items for a blog, a mirror selfie in a well-lit room is still good (and you can cut off your head in the photo if you wish to be anonymous).
  • Stock Up on Free Priority Mailers.  Your post office has Priority Mail Tyvek envelopes and boxes for free; these are perfect for shipping out your orders.  Included in the cut Poshmark takes from your sales (20%, or $2.95 if the item sells for $5 or less) is a shipping label.  When you make a sale, Poshmark emails you this Priority Mail label.  You can order shipping bags and boxes from for free but know it takes up to two weeks to receive your order.  If you have a post office nearby, grab a few to get your sales going.
  • Take Care with your Sales.  I fold nicely, wrap in tissue, tie with a bit of curling ribbon, and carefully slip into the box or bag.  I got a pack of cheap tissue paper; you only need 1-2 pieces per order.  The curling ribbon I purchased when I attended a baby shower where all presents were to be wrapped in blue.  That yet-to-be-born baby is now 5 and as you see in the photo above, there’s still plenty left even though every shower and birthday present since the shower had turquoise ribbon on it.  I bought some rolls of packing tape, and because I’m a dork like that, ordered some cheapy business cards from VistaPrint (this is a referral link that will give you $10 off your first order) that thank the buyer for her order, have my name and my Poshmark address on them.  The overall cost is minimal, but it makes the experience much nicer for the recipient.
  • Raise Your Rates.  Poshmarkers LOVE to counter-offer.  Consider this when making your prices.  It’s worth it to up the price a few dollars to be ready for a counter-offer (if you accept a counter-offer the item sells immediately to that individual).  Also, if you have stagnant items that don’t want to sell, you can then lower the price without too much heartache.  A plus to lowering the rate is anyone who “liked” the piece will end up receiving reduced shipping.
  • Be Quick with Communication.  If someone asks for additional details or makes a counter-offer, be polite and reply within 24 hours.  Since Poshmark is on your phone, it’s easy to quickly type in a response and move on with your day.
  • Follow the Rules.  Don’t accept sales through PayPal or offline.  Don’t try to sell used makeup or clutter Poshmark with items they don’t allow to be sold on their app (home goods, electronics, health and wellness products, used underwear and makeup).  Don’t label something a blouse when in fact it’s one of those belly wrap things that spam social media.  And don’t call something Chanel-esque or like Louis Vuitton – that’s a trademark violation and such names can only be used if the item is legitimately from that brand.
  • Be Part of the Community.  Share other people’s sales (I only share that which I actually like), follow other accounts, leave comments and reply to comments.  Poshmark is very social, and by being part of the community you’ll get a larger audience to see your closet, resulting in faster and more sales!

Are you on Poshmark?  I’d love to hear your experiences and feel free to share your closet in the comments!