Search Results for: label/pattern mixing

Pattern Mixing: a Guide

Mixing of unexpected patterns has become a popular fashion trend, and one I embrace fully. It’s a great way to show your personality, and give a new life to some pieces collecting dust in your wardrobe. But how does one create a great mix of prints without looking as though she dressed in the dark?

Mix Big with Small
Pair a cabbage rose print with a small gingham, tiny polka-dots with a zebra print, leopard print with bold stripes. When you balance a big print with a smaller one, they don’t compete for the limelight and end up defining one another’s patterns. While I have seen two little prints and two big prints pair beautifully with one another, mixing small with large is a good first step into pattern mixing.

Add a Contrast Solid Color
Sometimes the one thing missing in a mixed-pattern ensemble is a grounding solid. A wide obi-inspired belt in red, a white blazer, a simple black pencil skirt. If you’re wearing a paisley skirt and Dalmatian-print heels, try a solid blouse; if you’re wearing a leopard-print blouse and dotted skirt consider a wide belt in a solid color or a colored shoe instead of nude. This addition will make the pattern mixing more purposeful and give the eye a break.

Go for Contrast
A red toile pattern on a white ground paired with a white and red paisley may be charming for a Shabby Chic-inspired bedroom, but on a person it ends up looking muddy. Embrace pattern mixing by going for more of contrast – a red floral with a brown leopard, blue Pucci-inspired print with black and white zebra, red and white stripes with a navy paisley. Having two strong different prints will make the mixing look purposeful.

Accessorize
Now, this doesn’t mean wear a leopard-print cardigan with a striped tee and a floral skirt with your bubble necklace, an arm party and a headscarf. While that could possibly look amazing, it could also make you look crazy. However the right accessory can ground a busy ensemble. I find a heavy brushed gold pendant necklace will tone down a busy blouse, a solid color statement necklace will balance out a printed dress and shoes, a wide belt will give space between two different prints. When you’re wearing a mix of prints, it’s better to go bold with your accessories – a wide bangle, a large belt, a single-metal statement necklace, a large pendant on a thick chain. Small necklaces and bracelets can get lost and add to the busyness of the ensemble.

If in Doubt, Use Leopard
Leopard print (and cheetah print) has become a fashion neutral. I love leopard-print shoes because they can pair with most any print and look purposeful, quirky, and stylish. A leopard-print blouse is a great wardrobe addition because it can be worn with a solid bottom or also be paired with popular prints like floral, dots, and houndstooth. Leopard is a great gateway into pattern-mixing, consider adding a pair of leopard pumps to your wardrobe and trying them with printed dresses and skirts already in your collection.

Go With Your Gut
If you put two patterns on together and you think it looks silly, don’t wear it. Trust your gut – what looks silly to you may also look silly to others, and even if it actually is a great combination, you will feel silly and that lack of confidence will show. However, if you pair your chevron blouse with a dotted skirt and think it looks spectacular, wear it and wear it with pride. One of the most important parts of pattern mixing is confidence – this is a trend that is fun, bold, and daring. Hold your head up high, walk with a confident stride, and you may inspire others to also take the pattern-mixing leap!

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Thursday – Pattern Mixing

Blazer – The Limited (similar)
Tee - Armour lux (similar)
Skirt - Ann Taylor (similar)
Bracelet - JewelMint
Bag - Brahmin (similar)
Belt - Target (similar)
Shoes - Jessica Simpson (similar)

I wore a variation of this outfit before, and I really like mixing leopard with stripes.  It’s a fun and unexpected combination. 

Last night I saw a concert and it was crazy, insane, ridiculous, and fabulous.  I hope to have a post up soon, once I have weeded through the kazillion photos I took on my iPhone!  But a big thanks to my friend Nicole for suggesting we go – it was an awesome night!

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I’m on Test Pattern!

Going through my Statcounter links and found that this blog was mentioned on the MSNBC television blog Test Pattern!

From the blog post:
I’ve just discovered wardrobe weblogs, where ordinary folks share their fashion choices each day. There are plenty out there, but I especially like Dress Kevin (vote on what Kevin should wear each day) and What’s My Wardrobe Today? I can’t imagine sharing this kind of info on a daily basis, but it’s kind of fun to page through someone else’s closet.

I must say I often feel a bit freakish for putting myself out here on an almost-daily basis, but when I get emails and comments from you readers who say that I inspire you… it makes me feel awesome and not as much of a psycho :-)

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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Ask Allie: How to Style a Kilt

I have a knee-length red plaid woolen kilt I picked up on a college trip to Scotland almost 20 years ago. I trek it out once a season or so, usually around the holidays, but I like it and am trying to think of ways to get more wear out of it beyond the expected “Going to the Nutcracker” kind of look. Any ideas?

Yes, that skirt deserves to come out more than once a year! However I do understand the issue with looking too holiday, as though you’re wearing a costume, or trying to be Mid Life Crisis Britney. The best way to wear accomplish this is to style it as though it is not a kilt. Steer clear of traditional pairings and add something unexpected and it will look fresh and modern.

how to style a kilt women

Gray will tone down the red and keep it from feeling Christmas-y. While a cashmere crewneck and white button-front is pretty classic, pairing the look with modern black leather ankle boots keeps it current. Hair and makeup can really make this look; keep both relaxed and a bit disheveled. Beachy waves and a bit of kohl will go a long way and look far more modern than polished hair and red lips.

how to style a kilt scottish woman

Add a bit of a tough edge to your classic kilt with leather. A black leather jacket and biker boots will be a modern contrast. Unlike the above look, style such an ensemble with very polished hair and face to keep it from looking like a costume; smooth hair with red lips and gently flushed cheeks will look fresh.

how to style a scottish kilt women

A bit of purposeful rumpling will take a look from prep overload to modern cool. A gray tweed blazer with a tailored fit is a great pairing for your kilt; roll the sleeves and maybe pop the collar to keep it from feeling like a uniform. A classic Breton tee is a pattern that will mix nicely with the plaid and also keep it from feeling too much like a uniform. A pair of tall boots with a solid heel will finish the look and keep you warm.

Updating Your Wardrobe for Spring 2008

I love the 80s; some of the most fun in music and even in fashion. I am one who does not flush with embarrassment when I see a picture of me decked out in mall bangs, puffy socks and shoulder pads. I thought at the time, the look was fun and colorful; fashion took risks. You could wear Versace, or you could wear vintage (though back then it was usually just a Joe Shmoe thrift store find) and still look totally tubular.

That doesn’t mean I like the resurgence of metallics, shoulder pads, boyfriend blazers, leggings and skinny jeans in weird washes. It was fun… 20 years ago. Not it makes the most chic of women look like a fashion victim.

So how can you get the new look for spring without looking like a leftover valley girl or a fashion victim? Here are some of the trends for spring that can work with most any wardrobe and survive more than one season of style:

Watercolor Brights
These aren’t quite the Crayola hues of the winter; they are a cherry spring version. Instead of orange, try tangerine. In place of emerald, a leaf or Kelly green offers pop without overkill. Instead of red, try hibiscus (has a pink undertone) or Chinese red (has an orange undertone). Yellow will also be a big color for spring – keep it bright and clear. These hues aren’t muddy, they aren’t neon, they aren’t muted. They have the pop of 2007’s primaries, but a feminine and sunny twist to them.

How to Wear Them: With almost anything! They are being shown paired with pale gray, black, denim, white and optic prints. Jazz up your boring suit with a silk knit tank in tangerine, consider a green handbag for the season (quite an unexpected neutral), or a pair of yellow flats to brighten up jeans or a black and white print skirt. I love the look of a basic khaki or tan with a bright crocus purple or a strong pink for the warmer months and am glad this is a combo easily achieved with this trend.

The Dress
Hooray, dresses are still quite en vogue for this spring! Almost every figure can find a dress that flatters, and nothing says spring more than a feminine frock and a pair of sweet flats or kitten heels. As for style, most anything goes. The day dress is still popular, with styles varying from the figure-flattering wrap in soft silks and jerseys to more structured s-line, sheath or polo-inspired styles ending right above the knee. After five, look for a return to femininity with frills, lace, sheer floaty fabrics, goddess-inspired cuts and a second year of the maxi dress going strong.

How to Wear Them: The day dresses can easily be worn now with tall boots and come warmer months with shoes that fit the style. If it is a structured style, a flat or pump will be a great choice. For the evening dresses, a feminine shoes with delicate styling and some skin (your peeptoes are still stylish) are the way to go. The skinny belt is still a strong look; try one in a metallic or black patent leather over your simple shifts to add a feminine flair. For solid-colored dresses consider a statement necklace or a scarf as your sole accessory – both are available in almost every price range at your favorite boutique right now.

Prints
The winter was a lot of solid colors, fashion has rebelled with a spring full of all sorts of prints. Love animal prints? You’ll be happy to know that there seems to be zebra prints in many stores already. Scarf prints and Pucci-inspired patterns are all over the place, and colorblocking is a very strong trend.

It is also the return of the floral print, and stronger than it has been in many years. Designers are mixing different patterns of florals, adding them to shoes, dresses, skirts and even the linings of coats and purses. These are not Little House on the Prairie calico buds; the look varies from luscious and full cabbage roses and flowers picked from a Victorian garden to modern-art inspired graphic patterns.

How to Wear Them: Like all honesty, this look isn’t for everyone. Printed cardigans and boxy short jackets add style to a simple tank and jeans; a skirt can add fun or femininity to wardrobe staples, and I love the a-line shifts where everything else is simple – minimal accessories, simple shoes, fresh face. Colorblocked styles can be quite flattering to the figure, but keep in mind that the light colors in a pattern will jump out so make sure they are not located where your least favorite body part is. If you wear a pattern, everything else should be solid and simple. The stronger the pattern, the less jewelry and cosmetics you should wear.

Yellow and orange dresses by Banana Republic; red and white print dress by Diane von Furestenberg via Nordstrom; skirt and jacket/shorts outfit by J. Crew; blouse by Kenneth Cole Reaction via Nordstrom

Friday Food for Thought: Simplicity

With street style celebrities creating works of art with their creative getups, one can be led to believe that style these days requires skill and practically a degree in pattern mixing and accessorizing. The thing is, that’s one style, one view of fashion.

While peacocks get the most attention, classic looks are never out of style. When fashion overwhelms you, pare back. You don’t NEED to mix prints or incorporate a popular trend or add a belt/scarf/ankle socks/arm party.

Style and sophistication comes less from what you wear and more by how you wear it. If it stresses you out, it’s not stylish. If it requires constant adjusting, it’s not stylish. If it feels like a costume, it’s not stylish.

Though the peacocks get the flashbulbs, the front rows of the runway shows are just as full of women who realize that sophistication and style can come from simplicity. Uniforms of silhouettes that constantly flatter, solid colors that are chic and more timeless, clean hair and makeup styles that don’t take five hours to produce.

There’s nothing wrong with being a peacock, but do know that there is also beauty and sophistication in simplicity.





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Friday: Mix it Up

Dress: MICHAEL Michael Kors | Ascot: Belonged to my Dad | Bracelets: Nordstrom, Lauren Ralph Lauren, Misc. | Tights: DKNY | Shoes: Nine West | Lipstick: L’Oreal Infallible in Coral Seduction

When I have the choice, I pick necklaces, especially if they are shiny. Bold silver or gold, something that catches the light and your eye… that’s my jam. However, when my mom found some of my dad’s old ascots, I have been jonesing for a way to incorporate them into an outfit. We all know I love pattern mixing, and when I saw these two next to one another I found it to be a match made in heaven. If I can’t have shiny objects near my face, how about a crazy lip color? Inspired by Jessica Alba at the Golden Globes, I recently purchased this lipstick and think it’s a fun hue (but more orange than NARS Heat Wave and far more long lasting!).

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Capsule Wardrobe: Skinny Jeans for Winter

Allie you shared something on Facebook about skinny jeans aren’t stylish any more. I just bought three pairs of skinny jeans in brown, jean color, and a tan cord. How can I make them look okay this winter? What tops are best with them, what shoes? I live in Michigan so I need to be warm.

The conversation on that article went deeper into what jeans are coming back en vogue, and how even though they say skinnies are dead they aren’t going anywhere. Like boot cut jeans, peasant tops, a-line shift dresses, and tall boots; there’s some trends that won’t go away even though fashion “experts” say they are dead. They don’t ever die because we real women with real bodies find these trends flattering and extremely wearable. It’s funny how five years ago many of us refused to adopt the skinny jean trend and now we refuse to let the trend go. But just because one news article says skinnies are passé doesn’t mean you need to find a whole new wardrobe. I’m still rocking my skinnies because though I was a late adopter, I now LOVE THEM.  And what matters most when it comes to style is wearing what is true to you, wear what you love!

capsule wardrobe casual winter skinny jeans cold weather

I’ve found the best way to incorporate a trend, whether hot off the runway or something the New York Times deems dated, is to wear it with similar colors. Create a color story with your wardrobe, mixing varying shades of similar hues or going monochromatic. For this capsule collection based off your skinnies wardrobe, I stuck to a warm palette of neutrals that will look luxe and show the skinnies are a purposeful addition to your closet.

When wearing skinny pants, it’s important to balance the figure or you can quickly look like a lollipop. Luckily, this is easy to do when it’s cold and you want lots of weight and layers. The first row of tops are the type that can just be thrown on with skinnies and look chic: tunics, slouchy sweaters, ponchos, and chunky knits that balance the frame. The second row is all about the layers; a knit blazer adds polish without sacrificing comfort or warmth, and waterfall cardigans and sweater coats are cozy and on trend while balancing the frame.

Shop the Look:

Speaking of base layers, this year has really embraced layering, and practical layering at that. Turtlenecks are easy to find at all pricepoints, henleys are back in style, and there’s nothing wrong with even putting another layer under these pieces. Because I’m Allie, I added a striped knit which adds interest to an outfit of solids, and I also find to be the easiest pattern to mix with other patterns.

As for shoes, I also believe balance is important and I also believe in the importance of function over fashion. I chose three different shoes that will balance the skinny jeans while keeping you warm and dry through the winter. A pair of tall boots are a perfect pairing over skinny jeans. A pair of ankle boots are also a great pairing and this season chunky marled socks have come back in fashion and look great filling the space between cuffed skinny and boot (or over tucked-in skinny for extra cold weather protection). Use a waterproofing spray on your leather shoes and put rolled magazines in them to improve ventilation and help them keep their shape. Finally, if you’re in an area that has snow and slush, by all means wear boots appropriate for the weather! A traditional lace-up style of duck boot is back on trend and looks great laced up over skinnies.

Accessories are what pull a look together. Pashminas and infinity scarves are stylish while adding warmth and color to an outfit. A wide leather belt can cinch those sweaters to create a completely different look. Having a quality bag can add a luxe look even to discount mart knits and make the wearing of snow boots quite chic. Choosing one in a color similar to your leather shoes ties an entire ensemble together.

What I Wore: Secret Band Tee

Jacket: Buffalo David Bitton (similar) | Tee: eBay | Scarf: c/o Nepali by TDM Design | Skirt: Halogen (similar) | Tights: Spanx | Shoes: Nine West “Lottie” | Bag: Rebecca Minkoff (similar) | Lipstick: Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Smitten

Though I wrote a piece on how to incorporate band tee shirts in office attire, I myself hardly do it because I just don’t think they’re professional enough for my office and field of work. But when I saw this tank top on a woman at a show, I felt this may be a more subtle way to rock the band tee shirt. And if you’re worried that a generic tee shirt like this is copyright infringement, I found this article which clears things up and gives some history to the album cover art.  As for the tank, the hem is just serged so it rolls so I folded it under and will likely sew it that way to stay in place.

While I’m not a fan of the frigid temps this week in the DC area, it is nice to be able to wear this scarf again.  It is by far one of my favorites and surprisingly versatile.  It was originally part of my outfit, but with the wind, I felt I needed something to keep my neck warm.  I liked the pattern mixing and decided to keep it not just as a commuting accessory, but a piece of the look even when indoors!

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Friday: Three is a Magic Number

Sweater: Belonged to my Mom
Tank: Ann Taylor
Jeans: Gap
Scarf: Collection XIIX (on sale!)
Shoes: Ivanka Trump
Bracelet: Emerson” c/o Kristin Biggs, Stella and Dot
Bag: Vintage Revival c/o Fossil
Lipstick: Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Crush Begun

I love pattern mixing, but it’s usually just two prints. Wednesday, my mom gave me this sweater – it’s cashmere and a fabulous pumpkin color, but she found it too lightweight for her needs. My mom is shorter than I, and I found the sweater a bit too short for my needs. I wanted to wear a button-front white shirt underneath untucked but my Foxcroft one is in the wash. By chance I tried this striped tank from Ann Taylor and really ended up liking the end result.

And how gorgeous is this bag from Fossil? I love the vintage-inspired style and the Heirloom-variety leather (it’s the type that you can scratch your name in – did anyone else do that to shoes or bags back in school?). I look forward to beating this bag up, because I just know it will get better with time. And if you also like this bag, hang tight for I’m having a giveaway in the next couple of days where one of you will win a Fossil Vintage Revival Handbag!

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

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Thursday – Spring Trends Play Nice Together

Neon Blazer - Vince Camuto
Breton Stripe Tee – Armour lux (gift from reader – similar)
Jeans – Kut from Kloth (similar)
Leopard Haircalf Pumps – Nine West (similar)
Bracelet - JewelMint
Bag - Brahmin (similar)

When my husband saw my outfit this morning he said, “Boy you decided to wear every single hot trend together! Where’s the floral pants?” Well floral pants don’t play as nice with other trends or else I would have tried!  I am having a ton of fun playing with pattern and trend mixing this season; I can’t recall a recent season that has had so many wearable and wallet-friendly styles!

Tonight is a night of fashion in Washington DC! DC fashion bloggers Spicy Candy DC are having their South Moon Under Look Book and Release Party, and ReadysetDC is having their Fashion:District event in Georgetown (I went last year and it was awesome). Unfortunately, I am unable to attend either because I have a meeting, but it’s a meeting for an exciting opportunity that I will be sharing with you readers in the near future. If you DC fashionistas attend either Fashion:District or the Spicy Candy DC/South Moon Under event, be sure to come back and give me a recap (and if you blog about it, come back and leave a link in the comments so I can live vicariously through your experience!).

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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.

Contest: Tolani Scarf from chickdowntown.com

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 chickdowntown.com, 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 mywardrobetoday@gmail.com 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 chickdowntown.com. Sorry international readers, but the contest is only open to those in the United States.

Get to know chickdowntown.com:
Facebook (friend “shop chickdowntown” and/or become a fan of the chickdowntown page)
Twitter (twitter.com/chickdowntown)
YouTube (chickdowntownTV.com or youtube.com/chickdowntowntv)

Good luck!

True Fashionista: Catherine

While I like reading blogs of women with similar personal styles as mine, I find the most inspiration from those who do not dress like me on a regular basis. It’s easy to follow a blogger and see how they styled the same blouse you own, or how they fit in a brand you have been considering, but bloggers with different personal styles can force you to think outside your sartorial box, encourage you to try new things, and refine your own look. A blogger who has a clear vision but sometimes shares an outfit that is not my personal cup of tea inspires me to think about WHY, to analyze my feelings on certain styles and trends and how that fits into my personal style. This is how I feel about Catherine of the fab blog Not Dressed as Lamb, and that is one of the reasons I asked her to be part of my True Fashionista series.

When I first found Not Dressed as Lamb, I found Catherine’s color and print combinations to occasionally be jarring, but as I read her blog I understood WHY she made such sartorial choices and grew to admire and adore them. Gosh, she even calls herself “Queen of Clash.” You can also see in the past year how I have made bolder choices in pattern and color mixing and I would have to say blogs like Not Dressed as Lamb gave me that confidence. I would bet that Catherine’s blog gives many women a boost of confidence. She regularly shares musings about age, the media, and her thoughts about fashion that make one think about society’s expectations for women dependent on their age.

Catherine is inspiring because she shows that current trends and fun with fashion doesn’t have to be limited to those under 30; she rocks the milkmaid braids, pattern mixing, neon pops, and shoe trends with finesse. Catherine doesn’t just share her personal style and thoughts on fashion, she’s also a blogger’s blogger offering photography tips and how to improve your blog. She writes these tutorials in a manner that a blogger of any level can understand, and usually has access to the tools suggested.

Catherine shows that fashion can be fun, and that fun isn’t limited to a certain age demographic. That color and patterns and play with lengths and silhouettes can be educational and inspiring. That the best way to rock your age is to dress for the woman within, not the date on your driver’s license. As with every other True Fashionista I asked Catherine to answer the same five questions; here are her answers.

How would you describe your personal style?
I’d describe my style as eclectic, but veering towards preppy with a twist. I also can’t get enough of pattern mixing and bright colour.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
I think by having much older sisters, I always wanted to emulate their music, their clothes, lifestyles, etc. I was ten when one sister was a stylish and beautiful 19 year old and I first noticed that she wore “fashionable” clothes, and, in my eyes, I didn’t. I always loved dressing up and role play; her beautiful clothes sparked my interest in fashion, so it seemed a natural progression from the dressing up box! Also my best friend at school from the age of 11 was also really into magazines and fashion, so the two of us spent our teenage years obsessed with clothes and make up.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
My number one inspiration is other bloggers’ style. I used to physically cut out images from magazines and keep a scrapbook for inspiration, but now of course there’s Pinterest to do that online for me! Most of my looks can be traced back to an outfit I’ve seen on a blog as inspiration, from the whole outfit to just the way a shirt’s been tucked in. The bloggers whose style I love the most are Kim of Eat.Sleep.Wear, Krystal of This Time Tomorrow and Sheree of It’s Not That Deep.

When I was a teenager I used to copy looks I’d seen in movies, for example Ali McGraw in Love Story, Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan, and Molly Ringwald in Pretty In Pink. In fact I watched Pretty In Pink not long ago, and I thought how I’d wear a lot of the clothes that she wore in that film now ;)

What is the difference between fashion and style?
I recently read a quote along the lines of Fashion is what you buy, Style is what you do with it – I wish I’d written that because I think that is the perfect way to describe it! But I always maintain that what is stylish to one person won’t be stylish to another: we should all embrace our uniqueness. And rather than trying to be someone else, take inspiration and work with what you’ve got. I think someone who’s put loads of effort into a crazy-ass (and arguably uncoordinated) outfit is, in my opinion, extremely stylish – much more so than someone who’s made no effort at all in sweats and unwashed hair, or someone who’s wearing all the current trends by copying a store or designer’s look from head to toe with no personality added to it.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
Draw inspiration from what you see around you and in the media, online, on blogs, etc. Don’t be afraid to try unexpected combinations or try on clothes you wouldn’t normally touch with a bargepole. As mentioned above, work with what you’ve got: once you’ve accepted that you can’t make your legs longer or your boobs smaller for example, move on and highlight your best bits! Make a note of compliments you receive about any part of your body and make sure you draw attention to that area. And my best piece of advice for finding and perfecting your own style comes in two parts:

  1. Buy a full length mirror. It’s truly impossible to dress yourself properly without one.
  2. Photograph your outfits and upload the photos to study objectively on a monitor screen (don’t just zoom in on the camera). I guarantee you’ll see the outfit totally differently, and you’ll be able to get a feel for what suits you and what doesn’t very quickly. That’s how to develop your own style, because you’re not dressing anyone other than yourself.
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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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Ask Allie: Tips on Wearing and Buying Prints

I find prints so much more appealing than solids. If a shirt is offered in black, red and floral, I’ll inevitably get the floral. But then I find I love individual pieces but have a hard time combining them. So I just do the whole “printed dress and cardigan” or “printed shirt and jeans” thing.

I’ve been buying more solids to build my basic wardrobe but find too much solid action is just not me! Do you have some advice for print-a-holics like me? How can we get more wardrobe mileage out of prints? What are some good rules of thumb for buying prints?

I know you read my blog regularly, and you know I don’t promote prints because you can’t get as much mileage out of them. They show age faster, they are more memorable, they don’t dress up and down as easily… but they really are a ton of fun. Just mentioning that you mix prints shows that you have a pretty defined personal style, and I think a person who knows herself, her lifestyle, and her personal style can totally rock prints.

Again, let me say I don’t suggest prints if you are starting to build a core wardrobe or trying to simplify your closet and purchase a few quality pieces to span many years. But prints ROCK when you want to show your personality and add interest to a closet of staples. I love me some prints, and if you look in my closet you will find many of them. Here’s some tips for buying prints:

Find a Neutral Print and Make it Your Signature
Yes, prints can be a neutral. Leopard print, stripes, your family tartan, or something subtle like houndstooth or tweed. I personally love leopard print because it mixes both black and brown and is accented so nicely with the bright jewel tones I adore. I wear leopard print so often, it has become a neutral for me – a shoe to wear when nothing else seems quite right, a belt when a solid seems too harsh, a scarf when an ensemble is too severe, a skirt when the sky is blue (seriously, I could own a dozen leopard print skirts and still desire more). I also do this with stripes – I seriously have an entire drawer of striped tops because I find them so versatile and more interesting than a solid tee or tank (and they do look quite spectacular with leopard print!).

Be it Black Watch or polka dots, once you have a certain type of print that is your signature, it becomes easier to mix it with other prints. You become so comfortable in that print you end up wearing it like a neutral, and it comes across as such. Just as one may find unexpectedly beautiful combinations with olive or camel, you will find it easier to mix Breton stripes with cabbage roses than another because you know the print so intimately. Not only that, those around you will know that print is your signature and find it to be a bit of a neutral, and your choices of pairings more interesting and less like dressing in the dark.

Mix Big with Small
Cabbage roses with a tiny dots looks adorakable, cabbage roses with giant polka dots can veer on clown costume territory. I have found much success in mixing a bold and large print with a smaller, more subtle one. I have a pair of skinny jeans with subtle polka dots that I love mixing with printed tops. The jeans are more interesting than a solid and I believe give a better backdrop to a large striped jacket or Ikat-print blouse. A small dot, subtly colored stripes, and watercolor prints are great partners to bolder and bigger patterns.

Have an Underlying Color Theme
I’m not saying you should pair pink gingham with pink paisley and pull it together with a pink polka-dotted scarf. The pairing should be more subtle – a navy paisley dress with a hint of teal cinched with a teal plaid fabric belt. An orange, purple, brown, and olive Ikat print skirt paired with a purple snakeskin blouse. I like to pick the least obvious color in a print and use that to choose accessories or contrast patterns – it makes people analyze the combination more closely and adds depth and thought to an ensemble.

Accessorize
A plaid skirt with a floral blouse can make you look as though you dressed in the dark, but if you pull it together with a smart belt or a fabulous pair of shoes, it makes the combination more purposeful. I have a ton of skinny belts in candy colors just for this reason, and I find adding a third print with my shoes (I own six different pairs of leopard-print shoes for this very reason) makes pattern mixing look more cohesive.

Choose Classics
There are some prints that never go out of vogue. Leopard print, Breton stripes, polka-dots in a classic color combination and size. Mirror prints, Ikats, photo prints and such will come in and out of favor. Extend their life by mixing with classic prints, and veer towards classic prints to have pieces that can be staples for more than a season or two.

Befriend a Tailor
to be a successful print-a-holic, it is imperative to have good fit. Too small or too large is far more obvious when you have a garment screaming for attention. A well-fitting garment is also a sign of purposeful styling, which makes prints more stylish and understood.

Along these lines, have silhouettes that are as signature as your prints. When you show up one day in skinny jeans and a tailored blazer, the next day in a circle skirt and twinset, and the day after in distressed boyfriend jeans and a stretched out band tee shirt the prints may not make as much sense. Own your prints, and choose them in silhouettes that flatter them and you. Always buy for the full package – the fit, the cut, the relevance to your personal style as well as the awesome pattern.

Go Big or Go Home
If you’re going to be known for your prints, do them well. No shrinking violets, have your closet full of bold patterns that demand attention. A bright blue print will make more of a purposeful statement than one in a pale cornflower hue, black and white dots make more of an impression than those same circles on a tan ground. When you look at fashion icons who rock patterns on a regular basis, they are wearing jewel tones, strong patterns, and bold contrasts. Own your personal style and wear it with confidence!

Collage made with Polyvore.

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Style with Substance: Karen Kane

One of the best parts of blogging is getting to know brands on a different level. Not just a label in a boutique or department store, you learn the story behind the name, their purpose, their history, and sometimes, they become friends.

I heard of Karen Kane before I started blogging, it was a brand I’d see at the mall, just like all the other garments wearing some woman’s name. The alliteration was catchy, I figured it was made up to represent the ideal customer for the brand. But thanks to my blog I got to know that Karen Kane is a real woman who cares for and designs for fellow real women.

karen kane history

A little Karen Kane history, learn more at this link

Karen Kane has been a California Girl since she was 9 years old, attended the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in LA, and after graduation got a job as a pattern maker for a sportswear company. In 1979 Karen and her husband Lonnie begin the clothing brand Karen Kane out of their garage. After just one year the company reaches $1 million in sales. In 1986, their son Michael was born. To combine work and personal life, they brought Michael to work with them every day. Michael is now the Director of Marketing and the super nice person I work with when partnering with the brand (he even “likes” my Facebook page!). Karen and Lonnie still run the business. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to work with a company that sees me as a person, not just a blog, and who understands how Wardrobe Oxygen’s readers are different from another blog with different interests and needs.

karen kane blog love

My favorite Karen Kane outfits that have been featured on Wardrobe Oxygen

Before many other brands, in 1999 Karen Kane launched a Women’s division after hearing requests from their customers. And as of 2013, over 95% of Karen Kane’s collection is manufactured right here in the United States. The clothes are high quality, comfortable, true California style with a touch of femininity and sex appeal. Many of my wardrobe favorites, such as this dress, these pants, this dress, and this jumpsuit (sorry for the bad photo, I’ll have to do an outfit post in it soon, they still have it in stock!) are from Karen Kane.

This season I’m admiring the Studded Wrap Dress, Safari Jacket, Gold Sequin Front Dress, and can’t wait for this spring when Karen Kane will be offering jewelry and hats! I know I will be adding more Karen Kane to my closet this season and for many seasons to come.

I had a Small Business Saturday series before my surgery, but since then have realized how I love many brands who aren’t small but still have heart. I’m changing this series to Style with Substance and will be featuring brands who offer great fashion with great ethics or goals.

Ask Allie: What Flat Shoes Look Good with Socks?

I need flat, stylish shoes that I can wear with socks on chilly fall and winter days. I love the way that ballet flats look but obviously socks don’t work with them. I have low, black, ankle boots with a kitten heel, but need to mix it up with some other work-appropriate shoes (meaning, no boots that you’d wear jeans tucked into). I’ve looked at some driving mocs but haven’t found any that are cute/stylish and age-appropriate (34). Help!

Socks
First things first, the type of sock you wear makes a major difference. Men are used to this, and have dressier socks to wear for work, and more casual socks for weekends. For a sock to work with flats, you want something that is sleek, fits snugly to the ankle, doesn’t slouch down, has a refined finish. Trouser socks are a safe bet – they’re made to be slim and professional looking. While some may seem like glorified knee-high pantyhose, others look great and add a bit of warmth. I am a big fan of the Spanx Perfectoe Trouser Socks – they are moisture wicking and double layered which adds some padding to the tootsies and extra warmth come winter. They also don’t leave red rings on my calves after a work day. DKNY also makes some nice microfiber trouser socks which are more opaque, keep their shape better, and launder better than most other brands I have tried. Both brands come in standard dark neutrals that will work with most trouser and shoe colors.

I also have much success with knee socks, which come up past the widest point of your calf, ensuring they don’t slide down. Also the extra height prevents a visible line in thin or more fitted trousers, and you get a couple more inches of warmth.

You don’t have to stick to boring black, gray, and brown socks. Again, take a cue from your male colleagues and have some fun with your footwear. Since only a sliver is seen, it’s a great way to add a pop of color or do some pattern mixing without being too extreme. A gray and black pattern is a subtle look; a classic pattern like leopard, polka dots, argyle, or houndstooth is chic; a solid bright like candy pink or aqua can brighten a gray winter day.

Shoes
Okay, we’ve covered socks… now on to shoes! I agree with you, I don’t think ballet flats work with socks. The look is awkward. However, there’s a lot of styles this fall that do work really well with socks:

Be a modern-day Katharine Hepburn with a pair of smoking slippers.
Left, from top to bottom: jcp | Cole Haan | J. Crew | VC Signature | Dorothy Perkins | Franco Sarto

The Smoking Slipper
With the higher vamp and the loafer-esque silhouette, a smoking slipper works quite well with hosiery. I’d stick to a dark color that matches the shoe or trousers since the shoe has a very unique silhouette and most smoking slippers come in a print or unusual material. Pair with menswear style trousers and a crisp white shirt or fitted sweater and channel Katharine Hepburn.

 She may be wearing loafers, but you can achieve Audrey’s sleek look with this season’s oxfords.

The Oxford or Brogue
The oxford or brogue shoe isn’t going away any time soon, and that’s good news for those of us wanting flats that pair with socks. While some styles of oxfords can seem heavy and manly, there’s also many sleek and feminine styles out there. While an oxford looks great with most any cut of trouser, it’s fresh and feminine with a slim and slightly cropped pant (the better to showcase your legwear, my dear!). Pair narrow black pants and black socks with a printed or textured oxford and be a modern-day Audrey Hepburn.

Driving mocs look great with the feminine version of menswear, take a cue from Olivia Palermo’s look.
Left, from top to bottom: Cole Haan | Cole Haan | Geox | Cole Haan | C. Wonder | VANELi

The Driving Moc or Loafer
You mentioned this style and I agree it’s perfect with socks, but it is hard to find a more youthful version. It comes down to color – most mocs look the same, but if you choose a fun hue, it automatically looks younger and more hip. Don’t be afraid of a lighter color for winter – a bone, pale gray, or winter white moc can be quite modern looking this season. Be inspired by Olivia Palermo’s style and wear them with a feminine version of menswear in soft neutrals.

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How to Wear the Sheer Fashion Trend

Everywhere you look, chiffon is taking center stage. From see-through tee shirts to maxi skirts with short slips, the sheer trend is hot for summer. One of the most popular variations of this trend is the sheer blouse; it can be an easy way to incorporate this trend into your daily wardrobe. However, without proper planning a sheer blouse could prove to be a wardrobe mistake.

Here are some tips on how to wear a sheer blouse this summer and make it appropriate for day or for play.

Vintage-inspired Blouse

Lace trim, puffed sleeves, pussy bow at the throat – these are blouses that evoke an earlier time. The silhouette is perfect for pairing with a pencil skirt for the office or with jeans and heels for happy hour. How you wear it determines whether it ends up looking appropriate for either situation.

For Day: If the blouse is a solid color, a camisole in the same color will offer modesty and intensify the hue. If it is a print, a nude camisole or one in a lighter color in the print will offer coverage without sacrificing the pattern in the fabric.

To keep things professional, choose a bra that either matches your skin or else the color of the camisole so that it doesn’t show. A camisole in a silky fabric will keep the blouse from sticking to it or bunching. Even though the blouse covers your décolleté, be sure the camisole provides proper coverage – no extreme cleavage, cropped styles, or backs lower than your bra strap. While your blouse may be sheer, it isn’t invisible and your skin will show. On the other hand, a wide-strapped or tank-style layer can ruin the line of the blouse – choose a camisole with straps no wider than a bra or slip to maintain the vintage vibe.

For Play: A solid black bra with full coverage is a sexy way to wear such a blouse – it’s also a cheeky way to play up the prim, vintage silhouette. If you have one, you could also wear a solid bustier. A black or nude camisole is a good option for those who desire more coverage. As with the day option, a slim strap and silky fabric will provide the best effect.

Sheer Tee Shirt

A tee shirt in chiffon, gauze, or a very weathered jersey is a fun addition to the wardrobe. It’s a creative alternative to a classic shell under a work blazer, and is more sexy and stylish than a traditional knit jersey. Here’s how to make such a garment look chic.

For Day: If you work in a creative or casual office, a classic tank top is a great base layer for such a shirt. Choosing a tank in the same color is a safe bet, but this is a great opportunity to try a variation of colorblocking with a tank in a contrast shade or a shade slightly lighter or darker than the tee. The transparency of the tee will create a fun third color for the torso. If you wear the tee untucked, you can either wear the tank untucked for a continuation of the color, or tuck in the tank for a different effect over the color of your skirt or trousers. If you’re wearing under a suit, both the tank or camisole and the tee should be tucked in for a more classic effect.

For Play: As seen in the image above, a bandeau or tube top in the same color will give the necessary modesty without sacrificing the style of the sheer top. The graphic line of a tube or bandeau will complement the sporty cut of a tee shirt and keep it fun and feminine. If the top is off the shoulder, you could also choose a tank top in most any color for a “Flashdance” feel.

Sheer Tunic

Maybe it’s a lacy babydoll dress or a gauzy peasant blouse, possibly it’s a menswear-inspired shirt or an oversized tank – the sheer tunic is a hot look this summer. In a creative office, such a piece could be worn with skinny pants or leggings and for evening or weekend it would look fresh with distressed denim shorts or a pair of denim stovepipes.

For Day: Wearing a tank or camisole in the same color will make an otherwise sultry piece look day-friendly. A gray lace peplum top with gray tank and narrow black trousers could work in many corporate settings if the tank has good coverage and is of a refined fabric (not a ribbed cotton tank, something smooth and possibly with a bit of poly or Lycra to give a silky finish). You could also match the base layer to your skirt or pants, such as a teal sheer tunic with a navy shell and navy trousers. If the piece is printed, stick to the tips for a vintage-inspired blouse and go with a base layer that doesn’t compete with the pattern. Even with these tips, sheer tunics can often be inappropriate for the office – one doesn’t want to look like a fortune teller, a hippie, or a club kid in the workplace. If you aren’t sure, keep the piece for play.

For Play: With such a piece, all things are go. A boho-inspired peasant top would look best with a delicate or feminine base layer (solid bra, skinny-strap camisole, lacy spaghetti-strap tank). Vintage-inspired and modern pieces look great with most anything – this is the time when pattern and color mixing can really work. Consider wearing a floral-print tunic over a leopard-print cami, a sheer red top over a blue tank and green mini skirt, a black lace tunic over a paisley-print tube dress. If you wish to play up the silhouette or fabric of the tunic, consider a bra or camisole free of details and in the same color, black, or a color close to your skin.

Do you like the sheer trend? What is your favorite way to wear such a wardrobe piece?

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What I Wore: Slithering Snake

Jacket: Halogen (similar) | Sweatshirt: c/o CAbi | Jeans: Gap | Shoes: Fitzwell (similar) | Necklace: c/o Kristin Biggs, Stella and Dot | Bracelets: Nordstrom (similar), had forever | Lipstick: Revlon Matte in Wine Not | Bag: Banana Republic via eBay (similar)

CAbi recently contacted me and asked if I’d like to style a few of their pieces. Yes please! I have been a fan of CAbi for a long while since my dear friend Lisa became a consultant for CAbi and introduced me to the line. The clothes fit so well, it always amazes me that my petite curvy frame can rock the same CAbi pieces as my tall slim friend Lisa. I decided to take this opportunity to try a few things that aren’t typically me and asked to try their Dressed Up Sweatshirt. Gotta say I like it! It’s sheer so I have a black cami underneath, but not super sheer that it looks inappropriate at the office. I love the mixed pattern, and am always a sucker for any animal or snakeskin print. I originally imagined this top with their Fleather Skirt (which I also got and adore and will feature soon), but today I was feeling more relaxed and decided to pair it with dark denim.

I can’t recommend eBay for bags enough.  There’s so many people out there who buy and baby bags and then tire of them after a season or so.  I wanted a plain black leather tote that could pack into a suitcase if need be, but look nice enough for work.  I found this one on eBay; the leather is super soft, it’s unfinished inside which makes it light and easy to pack but the straps are thick and sturdy.  Single pocket inside to hold keys and cell phone, structured bottom, straps that fit over a winter coat and a magnetic closure.  All that for $20 and it even came in a dust bag.  If you know a certain brand or even style number/name search eBay before paying retail and you can save big.

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