Search Results for: label/plus size

Ask Allie: Plus Size Tall Retailers

It is becoming easier to find stylish clothes in tall sizes and in plus sizes but hard to find garments that are both. Don’t the manufacturers realize a person can be both tall and fat? I find the perfect office trousers in a plus size but then they aren’t long enough. Or I find the perfect office trousers that are long enough but they aren’t big enough. Over a certain waist size, it is impossible to get a 34″ inseam.

The reason is supply and demand. While it seems simple to just have the same pieces with a couple more inches at the hem, a retailer needs to invest in stock in that size. If they don’t have a proven customer, they can see extra lengths and sizes as a financial risk. The reason plus size fashion has improved lately is because plus sized women have begun to speak up, and LOUD. Opinion pieces in reputable publications, more and more plus size bloggers, and social media have given plus sized fashionistas the platform to let the retailers know they DESERVE style and if it exists, will purchase it.

It’s time for those who need not just plus size, but petite and tall lengths to speak up! The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and it’s clear that not all plus sized women are comfortable with a 32” inseam. Let your voices be heard, and make change happen in the apparel industry!

plus size tall long clothing retailers for women

Luckily some retailers understand that many plus sized women are also tall, and have added long lengths to their collections. A few retailers who offer plus sized tall or plus sized long lengths:

Lands’ End

Lands’ End realizes that a tall woman doesn’t just need a longer inseam for her jeans, but more length everywhere. Offering everything from sweaters to swimsuits, Lands’ End has a pretty varied plus size tall collection. Lands’ End often has great promotions, I recommend signing up for their emails to get the scoop when they take place. Lands’ End also has a generous return policy making online shopping a breeze.

Eloquii

Eloquii just released long and short lengths in their popular Kady Fit ankle pant.  Ankle pants are so hard for tall women to find, and this one comes in a 31″ length.  I hope this is just the beginning of lengths being offered at this stylish fashion resource for plus sized women!

Talbots

Talbots is one of the few retailers who offers both Womens Plus Tall and Womens Plus Petite pieces. Their plus size tall selection is only pants, but each season they offer at least a dozen styles up to a 24W with a 35” inseam. Talbots is another retailer who has amazing sales and great emails to notify you of them and you can return and exchange online purchases in their storefronts.

Long Tall Sally

Long Tall Sally specializes in clothing and accessories for tall women. They offer up to a 38” inseam, size 20, and even up to size 15 shoe. Long Tall Sally is not just a great resource for clothing, but also activewear, providing athletic gear and swimwear for those with long legs and torsos.  While shipping isn’t cheap with Long Tall Sally, they do now have Click & Collect in their shops.

Torrid

Torrid is known for trendy, youthful fashion in plus sizes, but they also have great wardrobe staples. Their tall collection (34” inseam) has trendy denim as well as classic styles of jeans, work trousers, and ponte pants; their extra tall selection (36” inseam) is limited but still provides some great styles of denim.

NYDJ

NYDJ offers a 35” inseam on many of their popular styles up to size 16. While you can find classic denim looks in long lengths, they also have trendy looks like coated denim and faux leather leggings. NYDJ runs big and stretchy; I recommend purchasing a size smaller than you’re accustomed to.  NYDJ also has free shipping and returns, making them a great online shopping resource.

Lane Bryant

While their selection of plus size tall bottoms are limited, there’s some good office staples in there and Lane Bryant always has some prints and variation from basic black pants and the occasional trendy piece.

Old Navy

Old Navy has tall and long lengths; their long inseam is 34” and their tall inseam 36”. Not only that, they are another retailer to realize tall women need more than black pants and offer tops, activewear, and shorts in tall sizes.

Alloy

Alloy has quite an extensive tall collection and go up to a size 25 and 3XL. Alloy is a great resource for on-trend plus size tall pieces like jumpsuits, waterfall cardigans, maxi skirts, and dresses which are often unavailable in longer lengths.

Long Elegant Legs

Founded by a tall woman, Long Elegant Legs has a great selection of everything from jeans and pants to activewear and sleepwear. They have styles up to a 39” inseam and offer up to size 24 making this a great resource for plus size tall women.

Have you found plus size tall clothing at any other retailers? Do share in the comments!

Ask Allie: Plus Size Wardrobe Staples

Dear Allie, I found your wardrobe staples post many years ago and it changed my life. I cut my closet in half but finally had the right clothes for everything. Since then, I have had two children and some health issues and I’m now a size 22. I gave up on fashion the past five years but my New Year resolution is to get back in shape and in style. Thing is I go to the mall and I can’t find anything on your list, everything is so ugly and old looking and cheap in plus sizes. Help!

My first suggestion to you is to get the heck out of the mall. While more and more brick and mortar shops are offering plus size fashion, most neighborhood malls have pretty slim pickings. Shipments are done by a buyer, one who just looks at generic demographics and statistics for the store, mall, and zip code and makes general decisions on whether to feature more plus size or less, more suiting or more weekend wear, more formal dresses or cotton sundresses. While you could drive around town to find plus size fashion Mecca, you could also head to your computer.

I hardly ever enter a mall anymore because I find them frustrating, messy, and overwhelming. When I do visit, I plan out my trip and head first to my go-to stores where I know the clothes fit my body and my personal style. Then if I still have some energy left, I’ll investigate other retailers. However, I find far more luck sticking to online retailers. Better selection of styles as well as sizes, easier to find discounts, and I can try on pieces in my bedroom with flattering lighting and proper shoes and undergarments.

I did a little searching online and was able to quickly find all the wardrobe staples I suggest in plus sizes. These days many retailers offer free or near-free shipping and returns; I did a review of my favorite plus-size retailers here. Keep in mind that this time of year is awesome for deals, but awful for selection. We’re entering inventory season, and every retailer tries to have as little merchandise as possible for inventory to make the process easier. If you’re looking for bargains you’re likely in luck, but if you’re striking out in sizes, wait until mid-March when spring collections will be stocked in the stores.

In the collage above, I left out the wool coat and accessories from the staples list because I find them relatively easy to find and likely you have the accessories already in your collection. Here’s a list of some of my go-to retailers for specific plus size fashion:

I also recommend you check out some plus size blogs and forums. I personally am not part of any boards or forums so I suggest you lurk some and find a good fit. While there are so many blogs out there who showcase their fabulous plus size personal style, here are few plus size-specific blogs I find to be quite helpful in reviewing lines and offering fashion suggestions. I also recommend reading their blogrolls and comments for additional blogs and online resources:

I’m so happy that you are using this year to care for yourself. Everyone deserves to feel fabulous and you’re gorgeous no matter your dress size. Dressing to flatter your current figure and personal style makes you feel confident and helps showcase your beautiful self. Don’t let the malls get you down, head online and you may find just what you were looking for!

Readers, I look forward to your comments on this subject, as I am not an expert.  Where do you find plus size wardrobe staples?  Who are your favorite plus size bloggers?  What online resources do you recommend?  

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Does Plus Size Minimalism Exist?

I’m a size 16 and a 35yo full time professional. I want to embrace a minimalistic wardrobe but every blog I find about minimalism is written by someone young and skinny without a real job. Is it possible to be minimalist when you don’t fit in Rick Owens or look good in leather leggings? Can a fat grown ass woman be a minimalist?

I LOVE YOUR LAST QUESTION! Let’s get straight to the point! And the answer is YES. YES WE FAT GROWN ASS WOMEN CAN BE MINIMALISTS! And so can us grown ass tall women, short women, slim women, curvy women, and everything in between. Minimalism isn’t Isabel Marant wedge sneakers and Rick Owens. Minimalism is a concept, and a concept that can work with any size AND any personal style.

plus size minimalism capsule wardrobe fall winter
Scroll and Shop Similar Looks:

This pared-down capsule is of all plus sized pieces (and quick vent to plus size retailers, I know your clothes look better on a model but us bloggers and magazine editors would love the pieces on a white background sans bodies for collages like this, please do it more often and we’d feature you more often!). Simple pieces, simple color palette, styles that won’t be passé in a year. It may not be Rick Owens, but it can provide you with outfits appropriate for a Business Casual office as well as an outside of work life.

One thing to consider with minimalism is quality. The fewer pieces you own, the more often they will be worn. Not only that, you want a piece to last more than one or two seasons, you want to build a life wardrobe. There’s been many an article in the past year (like this one and this one) about how plus size women won’t drop money on designer clothes and more often than not women say their reason is because they feel it’s not a worthy investment. Either they feel they won’t stay this size, or they don’t feel their current body deserves expensive clothes. If you want to pare down and have a minimalistic wardrobe, the only way to be successful is to buy the best you can within your budget. The best quality, the best construction, and befriend a tailor for the best fit. Quality, not quantity.

Minimalism fashion blogs… well all us blogs that spew fashion advice have a bias to a certain aesthetic or body type, usually their own. It’s hard to provide advice for that which you are not familiar. We hope to inspire, to get you to start thinking in a slightly different manner and find your own answer.

When I think of a blogger who inspires me with her minimalism discussions yet has a different personal style from me, I think of Grechen at Grechen’s Closet. While we’re not that different in age, we live in different parts of the country, have different jobs, different home lives, different body types, and different personal styles. Yet I read her posts on minimalism and always get ideas, inspiration, and aha moments.

Another blogger that inspires me to think smaller in regards to wardrobe is Janice at The Vivienne Files. Her choices aren’t always what I’d wear, but she makes me think about what I already own, how to restyle it with different colors, different accessories, give my current pieces new life, and how to be more choosy with what I buy in the future. Her advice is the type that can benefit anyone, regardless of age, figure, or personal style.

I also gain insight from personal style bloggers who may not embrace minimalism but either have a similar shape as me, or have a similar lifestyle. Even if we don’t have the same personal style, through them I learn about new brands that may better offer what I’m looking for, but also they have me think about pieces in my wardrobe more differently, seeing versatility I never saw before.

While I don’t post my outfit every day here on Wardrobe Oxygen, I show most of my outfits on Instagram. Photographing my outfits and being able to see quickly in a grid on my phone what I wear, what I gravitate towards, and what I enjoy most has helped me greatly in minimizing my wardrobe. While I may have purchased the prettiest blouse ever, I may never wear it because it’s too complex. However, I’ll see how I can style my cream cable knit sweater in five different ways without tiring of it or how I was really lacking a pair of pointed toe ankle boots in my closet. Use yourself for inspiration, take a step back, examine your wardrobe but also your personal style with a fresh eye and see how your can start achieving minimalism with what you already own and enjoy.

As usual, I rambled on and on but my point is YES FAT GROWN ASS WOMEN CAN BE MINIMALISTS! You can do whatever the hell you want fashion wise, you can make it work, but you may have to look harder for inspiration. But I do believe the best inspiration is yourself. Trust your gut, know your life, and dress the part. Keep me posted on your journey!

Ask Allie: Plus Size Rocker Chic

Allie, why does every retailer want fat girls to dress up like children or shower curtains? I am a size 20, 5’6” tall and 32 and I am sick to DEATH of every store being full of skater skirts covered in puppies or polyester shapeless dresses covered in Hawaiian flowers. I know that us bigger girls look good in vintage silhouettes but I feel like an idiot in a costume. Where can I shop for my personal style? I like hard rock, my husband rides a Harley, I work in a professional setting, I like martini bars as much as I like a dive bar. I want to be cool, I want to show my rock side, but I want to look sophisticated too.

Based upon the rest of your email, I know you live clear across the country from me and I find it such a shame because I think you and I would get along quite well. We’ll drink martinis and bitch about fashion while we rock out to an awesome local band on stage. But I know there’s so many other women out there reading this wishing they too could be part of this hypothetical Girl’s Night Out because they too can’t find their personal style available in their size.

I could tell you to find a seamstress, to learn how to sew, to scour the racks at your nearby thrift or vintage shop, but if you are like me you’d rather spend that time on the back of your husband’s Harley. So I am going to share what I am doing, using some awesome plus size bloggers for visual inspiration.

Over the past year, my personal style has transitioned and it is going in a more edgy, rocker direction. And like you, it’s still important for me to dress appropriately for work, and to have a sophisticated feel to everything I wear, be it for the office or after hours. When I realized I wasn’t really the person to wear a lemon-printed skirt or an adult tutu with pearls, I decided to make a list and slowly build up my wardrobe with what fits the current me. That list is still long because it has been a hard road to find pieces that fit my personal style as well as my figure and budget but I have found some alternatives and workarounds:

Tough but Sweet style from Curvy Girl Chic

Focus on Accessories
You can take a simple twinset and skirt and make it twee, or you can make it edgy and it’s all due to accessories. A bootie in place of a pump, a cuff instead of a delicate link bracelet, a chunky chain in place of a bubble necklace, a studded hobo over a candy-colored handbag. You’ll see in more recent outfit posts that I’m not usually wearing my colorful jewelry, have narrowed down my shoe collection, and use fewer clutches and usually a large slouchy black or gray leather bag. I even switched from elegant and on-trend tortoiseshell glasses to oversized black Wayfarer-style ones which are more bold, modern, and not at all cutesy.

I have a black matte jersey shift with puffed sleeves, I’ve owned it for several years. I have worn it before with peeptoe heels and a skinny patent belt with bow detail. I’ve also worn it with all black accessories and a biker jacket. This week I wore it sans belt with leopard haircalf pointed flats, a paisley scarf tied at the throat, and a bunch of chunky silver and leather cuffs on the wrist. It’s just an example of how accessories can transform very basic pieces.

Create a Color Story
Earlier this year, I was thinking about my wardrobe and what I like, what I REALLY like in it. I realized my favorite pieces are in black, white, gray, and shades of blue (especially navy and indigo). I looked at what I pinned on Pinterest and it was a lot in these colors, with the occasional pop of red, orange, or hot pink. So I stopped buying things in every other color. I decided to “brand” myself with this color story. It’s professional, it’s modern and classic, it can easily look rocker chic but also look boardroom-ready.

A lot of color in the closet is pretty to look at, but it’s hard to create an edgier look. Not only that, a simpler palette will better define your personal style, making that black skater skirt suddenly look tough, a touch of lace look badass. Think about what colors you gravitate towards, and what pieces you already own and love to death and start playing with a simpler color story.

Glam Rock via GabiFresh 

Boost the Beauty
With my change in personal style, I realized I needed a change in my hair and makeup. Before, I did a lot of “pretty” – big soft waves with caramel and auburn highlights, soft brown shades on the eyes and glossy pink lips. It just didn’t fit my personal style. Since then, I have cut down the highlights and added darker lowlights, I played with bangs, and my standard face is liquid liner, lots of lashes, and a soft red pout. Now that I am trying to maintain a manicure, I stick to a nude or else a dark bold color like gray.

Your clothing says a lot, but your hair and makeup is your signature, what separates you from other women in the same jeans and tee shirt. Be it nail art, a signature hot pink lip, a purple streak in your bangs, or flushed cheeks, there’s nothing wrong with wearing the same look each day and having it define your personal style. A switch in your beauty routine is often what you need to make a look more appropriate to your personality.

Shop Outside your Retail Comfort Zone
I can’t stress this enough to all women, regardless of age or size. The world doesn’t stop at Lane Bryant. Yes, it’s a popular retailer where you can find great pieces, but there is plus size clothing available at other places… places you may not have considered just a year ago. Lands’ End has amazing dresses as well as separates, Coldwater Creek is constantly improving and is having a new denim line this fall, Torrid may seem to be for younger women but they have some pretty adorable pieces that can incorporate into a professional woman’s closet. Companies like Simply Be, ASOS Curve, and H&M are offering on-trend fashion in extended sizes, and many of them are perfect for a gal with a rock-n-roll vibe. I also highly recommend checking out plus size bloggers; they often know about the best retailers before anyone else and can show how they truly look on a larger frame instead of on a size 10 “plus size” model.

You never know, you may find a new favorite retailer, or be surprised that an unexpected shop has staples and novelty pieces you have been craving for seasons! It doesn’t hurt to look, and these days more and more retailers have free or simple shipping/return policies!

Rockin’ Style via Margie Plus

Quality, not Quantity
You don’t need a whole new outfit for every day of the month. It’s better to rewear the same pieces over and over that perfectly fit your personal style, than spend money with items that “make do.” I think back about my black shift with the puffed sleeves – each time I consider buying another LBD I think about it, how versatile it is, and put that other frock back on the rack.

When you own and purchase fewer items, you not only hone your personal style, but you have more fundage to buy quality pieces that are perfect for you. I learned to step away from Old Navy, where I could easily drop $50 on knits and random accessories that are lucky to get two wears, and save that money towards a badass leather jacket that will give me years of wear and dozens of compliments from strangers. Another pair of jeans that don’t fit quite right, or highlights from a nice salon in town? A bag of baubles from Forever 21, or a signature sterling silver ring that is the cherry on top of your new wardrobe?

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Ask Allie: Plus Size Retailers with Style

Hi Allie, I hope you can help. Where I live, there’s [well-known chain retailer that have plus sized clothing] but that’s it for plus size fashion other than Walmart and none of these stores have clothes I really like. I know you do a lot of shopping online, where do you suggest for plus size fashion where I can return by mail but also know what I get won’t be junk or ugly. Help! I really want to create my personal style and not be stuck with what is available.

I don’t know why retailers feel that women over a size 12 only want to wear polyester cabbage roses and bedazzled tunic sweaters. I understand that plus size fashion needs to be cut differently to flatter the figure, but why does that mean over the top embellishments, cheap fabrication, and dated silhouettes? Luckily some retailers realize this and offer fantastic fashion in extended sizes, and many of them have stellar online shops! Here’s some of my favorites:

Available in US sizes 10 – 22, ASOS Curve focuses on current trends cut specifically for plus size women. Not only that, they have free shipping and returns! Here you can find hot styles like peplums, leather, brocade, and faux fur and from my experience, the quality is equal or better than similarly-priced retailers (H&M, Urban Outfitters, Zara, Express). I love that their looks are flattering – not a muumuu or polyester cabbage rose in sight. ASOS Curve is a great resource for party dresses as they are youthful and on-trend while being reasonably priced.

Simply Be doesn’t have free shipping, but they do have a flat rate and provide SmartLabels for quick returns. But Simply Be is another great resource for on-trend plus size fashion. From faux leather pleated skirts and silver cropped pants to blazers; work attire, club attire, and dresses by Simply Be, you can find a varied collection of wardrobe staples and trendy closet additions.

This is not your mother’s Lands’ End – the retailer has stepped up their game by offering on-trend fabrics and styles and even brought Curvy Girl Guide founder and blogger Brittany Gibbons on board as an advisor.  While they have the wardrobe staples of turtlenecks and knit pants, Lands’ End also has some pretty fantastic dresses and career wear. Their quality can’t be beat, their customer service is phenomenal, and while returns aren’t free, they can be taken back to Sears.

Eloquii is the new kid on the block, the plus size line from The Limited.  It had mixed reviews from plus size bloggers at first, but they seem to be gaining steam with more consistent sizing and quality and I know some friends who have purchased from them and are mega fans.  Eloquii also provides SmartLabels for easy returns, though returns do need to be completed within 30 days.  For those who have an Eloquii store near them, they do accept online returns at retail locations.

If you read this blog, you KNOW I love Nordstrom. Free shipping, free returns, fabulous selection of brands, amazing sales and customer service. On top of all that, Nordstrom has a pretty great selection of plus size designers and styles! Vince Camuto, DKNYC, MICHAEL Michael Kors, Calvin Klein and more are available, and they also have extensive customer reviews to help ensure you find a piece that will fit your figure and lifestyle nicely.

I can’t rave enough about Gwynnie Bee – a program that is like Netflix for plus size fashion. For a reasonable monthly fee, you can borrow plus size clothing with free shipping and free returns. Keep a piece as long as you like, return one and get another back lickedy split. Gwynnie Bee’s selection is quite varied and continues to improve as the business grows; you can find everything from work dresses and blazers to leather jackets and sequined pencil skirts at Gwynnie Bee. I love that you can test-drive a trend – try a one-shoulder blouse or wrap dress and if you don’t like it, return it for something else! Right now Gwynnie Bee is offering one free month to Wardrobe Oxygen readers – click here to sign up (be sure to mention Wardrobe Oxygen), and click here to learn more about Gwynnie Bee.

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Review: IGIGI Plus Size Bridal Collection

Buying a wedding dress is a stressful experience for any woman, but it’s harder when you are fuller figured. Most bridal boutiques don’t carry any samples larger than a size 10, and many dress retailers do not offer plus sizes for all their styles. When dresses are available in a larger size, they aren’t usually designed to flatter and fit the fuller figured woman.

This is why I got really excited to find out that IGIGI, a company that creates gorgeous fashion for plus-sized women came out with a bridal collection! Finally a brand that can offer style and fit to a woman on her special day!

My friend Amanda is getting married this fall, so I had her be my “bridal guinea pig” to try out the bridal collection from IGIGI. Amanda tried the Christelle, the Eveline, and the White Diamonds. She came over for a fashion show so we could both remark on how these dresses fit, were made and were designed. To let you know, Amanda is petite as well as curvy, so these dresses may fit completely different on a woman with different curves or more height.

I have set up this review with Amanda and my remarks for each dress noted. 


The IGIGI Bridal Collection:
Amanda: Overall, none of these dresses by IGIGI are overly formal or structured the way a lot of princessy, traditional bridal gowns are. This can be a truly good thing for a bride looking to get away from traditional dresses while still being lovely. They are also an excellent consideration for anyone who wants to have a beach or outdoor wedding where a 50 foot satin train dragging over the sand and surf would be a bad idea.

Alison: The dresses really vary in style and level of formality. From the three we received, I could see one work for a casual day affair, one for a beach wedding, and one for an event at a ballroom or historic mansion. I was happy to see such versatility in IGIGI’s bridal collection.

Christelle IGIGI Plus Size Wedding DressChristelle:
Amanda: Unfortunately, Christelle hit me in all the wrong places. This dress would be a much better fit for someone 5’6” or over, and probably someone with more of an hourglass figure.

The bodice was very flattering to the cleavage and I did like the back of the dress, especially where it transitioned from waist to skirt area creating a cinched waist look and then flowing out without over accentuating the back. The front hips were where Christelle fit worst on me.

The lace accents on the top are not well-suited to my tastes, but I think they would be great for someone slightly more traditional than me- especially at a spring wedding. I do love the idea of gloves with this dress.

Alison: Christelle was a really cute dress, and I agree, it would most likely work on a taller woman who has a true hourglass figure. The fit and flare cut would not be so flattering to a woman who carries much of her weight in her midsection. The slight off the shoulder neckline was very flattering and feminine and I could totally see this dress at a daytime garden wedding or an intimate brunch affair.

Gosh, this style would work for a non-wedding affair too!

IGIGI Eveline Plus Size Wedding DressEveline:
Amanda: Of all three of the dresses I tried on from the IGIGI line, Eveline one felt the most traditional. The material is heavy and very silky- I couldn’t stop running my hands over the skirt because it felt so lovely! If you’re a shorty like me, you need to have this dress massively hemmed, it is quite long.

The top of the dress above the waist line is very flattering to breasts and cleavage- if you are looking to cover up on your wedding day this is not the dress for you! But if you are comfortable bringing a little sexy to the day this could be a dress to consider. As they say, if you’ve got it, flaunt it!

Girls who are trying to minimize their belly will also want to steer clear of Eveline – this empire waist emphasizes a round tummy. However, the dress is very flattering in the rear and hips, so if that’s your trouble area you may do well with Eveline.

Alison: Eveline was made of the most gorgeous fabric, the micropleats were quite elegant. The style is simple enough that a bride could really personalize the look with hair accessories, jewelry, gloves. A loose updo with chandelier earrings would make this perfect for an elegant evening affair, loose waves would make this lovely for a garden ceremony, and it could totally look glam with a bunch of varying long crystal or pearl necklaces and a low chignon.

IGIGI White Diamonds Plus Size Wedding DressWhite Diamonds:
Amanda: One thing I have discovered while searching for “The” Dress: try on everything, because it just may be the one you like least on the hanger is the one you like best on your body. This turned out to be true with the White Diamonds style.

I initially thought this dress would be too sheer, too stretchy and too rough to the touch. Once I put it on, though, it was a whole other story. Of all three dresses this one fit me best and felt the best. The material is gauzy and sheer and made me feel like an ethereal goddess. The fit was great in all of the important places- hips, chest and rear. The beaded accents on the front were in exactly the right place, bringing attention up to my chest while minimizing the belly. Be forewarned though, White Diamonds IS sheer- there is no room here for special under garments, especially on your lower half so this dress should fit you as-is, with no nipping and tucking.

Alison: I fully agree, White Diamonds completely surprised me. Out of the box it looked like a pile of random chiffon and polyester. On my friend, it was elegant, flattering and quite lovely. White Diamonds truly gives a Grecian feel, and would be beautiful with a loose updo of curls, possibly with some ribbon or bands of beading through it to continue with that “goddess” feel. This would be a great dress for a destination wedding because it won’t get destroyed in your luggage, and would feel cool and breezy during an outdoor ceremony. I am usually not a fan of “bling” on dresses, but this beading was quite pretty and really made the dress (especially the beading on the bodice). The bust covered nicely (believe a bride could purchase a traditional bra and have it hide under these straps – always a plus!) while still flattering a curvy figure.

If you are looking for a plus sized wedding dress that isn’t the usual cupcake confectionery, you may wish to check out IGIGI’s bridal line. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety, pleased with the quality, and look forward to them extending the line in the future. IGIGI has already gotten the reputation for being a plus sized designer that loves and flatters a women’s curves; now they can be known for loving and flattering curvy brides!

What I Wore: Foxcroft (plus a giveaway!)

foxcroft collection sweater
Sweater: Mixed Stripes Cardigan c/o Foxcroft | Tee: c/o SixTwenty | Jeans: NYDJ | Boots: DUO (similar) | Bag: c/o Fossil (similar)

foxcroft collection shirt
Shirt: Mixed Sateen Stripe Non-Iron Blouse c/o Foxcroft | Skirt: c/o CAbi (similar) | Shoes: Nine West | Bag: c/o Adora Bags

I’m proud to be partnering with Foxcroft again. For over 25 years, Foxcroft has provided impeccably made, well-constructed clothing that makes style simple. I’ve featured their clothes before, styled a photoshoot for them, and have gotten to know the people behind the quality brand. I’m excited to introduce the latest looks from Foxcroft, that’s now helmed by head designer, Laura Poretsky-Garcia. Laura, a CFDA member since 2007, has brought a chic, updated attitude to the brand while continuing to give women easy, wearable fashion.

foxcroft collection giveaway review resort collection

Stripes and dots – in bold, sophisticated colors – are the key themes for Foxcroft’s resort collection and all pieces in the collection are under $100. Foxcroft understands a woman’s body, creating clothing that flatters curves and comes in regular, petite, and plus sizes. Foxcroft sent me two pieces from the resort collection – one of their famous shirts and a sweater. The Mixed Stripe Blouse is a silky cotton that feels luxurious and doesn’t wrinkle. Foxcroft has different cuts of their shirts; this one is tailored to fit the figure, making it a great choice to wear tucked in and under blazers and cardigans. Their Mixed Stripes cardigan is a new favorite. The strategic stripes and waterfall front flatter the figure and make quite a statement – when I wore it to work I received many compliments, even from strangers. I wore it with a simple black shell and trousers to the office, but liked it for the weekend with a white tee and boyfriend jeans. Learn more about Foxcroft and their latest collection by following them on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Giveaway

If you like the pieces that I’ve featured in this post, Foxcroft is offering one Wardrobe Oxygen reader this shirt and this sweater in the size of their choice (if items are not available in your size, we will work with you to find replacement pieces at the same or lesser price).  Giveaway is open to residents of the United States.  Winner will be chosen by random and contacted via email.  If winner doesn’t reply within 48 hours of receiving email another winner will be chosen.  Giveaway ends December 31, 2014.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Age, Size, and a Limited Wardrobe

The other day I was driving to work and thinking about Project 333. I was wearing my awesome fun printed maxi skirt, and sad that I couldn’t logically include it in a hypothetical 33 garments for three months because it’s not very versatile.

If I were thin and young, it could be versatile.

If I were 22 and a size 6, I could hike that maxi skirt up over my breasts, cinch it with a belt and wear it to a party. I could tie a chambray or white shirt over it for a summery look to wear to brunch with my girl friends. Heck, I could even pair it in that manner with a blazer or cardigan and sport it at the office.

But I am 38, and I am a very soft and curvy size 12, and I can’t carry those looks off and be seen as professional or polished, two things that matter to me in my lifestyle.

Lately, I have shared many capsule wardrobes on the blog. I do find thinking in a capsule mindset helps one to buy with thought and intention, to purchase quality instead of quantity, and have a hard working wardrobe that fits and flatters one’s body and lifestyle. But capsules aren’t always realistic for all women.

I am trying to pare down my wardrobe, buy what I need, quality that will last, styles that will survive more than a season or two, brands with ethics. But sometimes, you just need a crazy printed maxi skirt in your life. To me, the maxi skirt is the equivalent of nail art, vanity plates on a car, more than one pair of glasses. It’s flair (yes I had to link to that clip). It’s what makes me me, it’s what makes me happy.

For some people, joy comes from gardening. For others, they get such a rush from driving down an open road on a motorcycle. My husband gets great pleasure from cooking, especially grilling. And me? I like fashion. I like color and texture and shape. I like the creative and artistic aspect of fashion. I don’t have time to paint and do stained glass, my creative outlets are this blog… and my closet.

This doesn’t mean I will shop willy-nilly buying every cheerfully colored frock that fits this body, but it means that there’s nothing wrong with adjusting to accommodate not just my body, but my soul. I believe in shopping with intention, I don’t believe in going in debt for a wardrobe. I believe in purchasing quality over quantity, but I don’t believe in sacrificing your happiness to do so. I believe in honing one’s personal style to gain confidence, and I believe each person has a different path to get there.


My path is decorated with brightly patterned maxi skirts.

This will not be the last post on Project 333.  As you can tell, it’s giving me so much food for thought and it’s really forcing me to analyze my shopping habits.  Stay tuned…

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Where to Shop for Size 16?

Hey readers, I thought you may be able to assist with this reader question:

“Allie, I know this is a huge request, but what brands/stores would you reccomend for a plus size (missy 16) women that aren’t too expensive? I have a definite waist but a large stomach.

I’m just a SAHM, with dogs, so I don’t need anything too fancy but I don’t want to look schlumpy either.”  

This is not a huge request, for this is what I love to do (for those who don’t know I have another blog – Wardrobe Oxygen where all I do is talk about style for women)! 
 
Since having Emerson I hover between a 14 and a 16.  I have a petite frame, so many plus size brands are too large for me in the shoulders, rise, length.  This makes it terribly hard to find decent clothing.  Many brands stop at 10, many brands have their size 14 and 16 just be larger versions of 8 (which means lots of gaping, bunching, sagging and overall poor fitting clothes), and petites are often TOO petite for me.
 
Stores I Frequent Because They Have Good Size 14 and 16 Clothing:
- Ann Taylor.  Yes, Ann Taylor is NOT cheap, but they have ridiculous sales.  When I enter their store, I go straight to the sale section.  I have found $150 trousers for $29.99, cashmere sweaters for $40, and some of the best made tee shirts for only $9.  You can’t head to an Ann Taylor sale rack expecting to have success, but every time I do visit a mall, I stop in their Ann Taylor.  You never know what you may find!
 
Another great thing about Ann Taylor is that their sizing is pretty consistent.  If you try on a size 16 dress in blue at the store but wish for it in green, you can pretty much guarantee that if you order it online it will fit.  They have a couple specific cuts of trousers in their stores, so if you know you fit great in their Signature cut, you can order it season after season online in new fabrics and slightly different leg openings.
 
The Ann Taylor Web site has a more extensive size selection than the stores (online they go up to size 18 and XXL in petite, regular and tall).  I have found that Ann Taylor stores in metropolitan areas or large malls will have more of these sizes in stock (people will return unwanted online purchases).  Also Ann Taylor is a retailer that still (usually!) has good customer service – befriend a sales associate, show that you are a serious customer, and they will be known to put things on hold in your size and call you when they are available.

By the way, Ann Taylor isn’t all suits and cocktail dresses – I have found great jeans, tees, sweaters and casual knits at this store.  Nine times out of ten, what I buy at Ann Taylor is still in great shape a couple years later so I find the quality and style timeless and worth it!
 
- Ann Taylor LOFT.  Ditto everything previously stated about Ann Taylor… EXCEPT that they aren’t as consistent with sizing (a 16 in one pant may not fit as well in another), and I haven’t found as personalized of customer service in their stores.

I used to buy a lot from LOFT but these days I find the color schemes to not quite be my personal tastes, and their styles to not be as classic/clean as I like.  However if you have a more sporty or feminine style you may have a ton of luck at LOFT.

- Gap.  Gap is really wacky with their sizing, most things seem to run large.  I have size 14 Long & Leans and they end up too big by the end of the day.  Their petites are too short for me, their regulars too long, but I often find some true gems there, and they have a very extensive size range.

I like Gap because I can find basic pieces there and the quality is usually pretty decent.  Recdently I have found some nice cashmere-blend cardigans in rich colors that did well in the washing machine on the gentle cycle and then hung overnight to dry.  They always have cute knits that are more interesting than the boring tee shirt (right now they have two henley styles in stock that are cute, come in some fun colors and stripes, and look great with jeans or casual pants and a cami or tank underneath), and they are usually well made.  And like Ann Taylor, Gap often has a goldmine of a sale department.  Sometimes all you find are shell-pink colored XS tee shirts, but sometimes you will find an online return of a woman just your size and shape and end up grabbing five pieces for under $100.

Gap’s Web site has even more sizes and styles, and they are always having some promotion for X percentage off or free shipping.  Sign up for their emails and you will always be in the know when they are having a reat promotion – that is always when I stock up.

- Old Navy.  I have a love/hate relationship with Old Navy.  I have some things from there that I adore (yoga pants, a couple dresses, a pair of shorts) and some things I despise (pretty much anything I have ordered from their Web site over the past six months).  That being said, Old Navy has a great range of sizes (especially online), they often take popular trends and make them budget-friendly, and they use simple fabrics which means they are kid-friendly, dog-friendly, and washing machine-friendly.

Old Navy has no consistency with sizing though.  You could order 6 pairs of jeans in the same wash and size and they would all fit differently.  You could order two of the same tee shirt in the same color, size and fabric and not only would they fit differently, one may be see-through and one may feel almost spongey because the knit is so thick.  No rhyme or reason.  It is truly hit or miss.  That being said, they too often have great promotions and free shipping online so it’s a great place to find cheap summer dresses, tank tops and loungewear that is fun looking and fits your size.  And once in a while, you may find quite a gem.

- Caslon for Nordstrom.  Nordstrom?  That is NOT budget-friendly!  However the Caslon brand at Nordstrom is quite reasonably priced and usually from very good quality materials.  Caslon clothing comes in petites and plus sizes, and their sizing is pretty generous (I usually purchase a Large instead of an XL).  Caslon makes simple pieces in rich colors that always have some little detail that keeps them from being boring.  They also do a great job at taking current trends and making them wearable and budget-friendly. 

The Caslon line is usually found on the second floor of your local Nordstrom store, and mixed in with other brands.  I have had the best luck online because there is a more organized and extensive selection and more sizes available.  Nordstrom is now offering reviews of their products so you can often find out from other customers how an item fits or feels.

I personally keep my shopping choices as simple as my wardrobe – searching high and low in various stores in the mall only makes me exhausted and feeling fat and awkward.  I do a lot of online shopping so I can try items on with the wardrobe I already own, the proper shoes, the proper undergarments, flattering lighting.  I am less likely to buy something out of desperation or frustration, and less likely to get home with buyer’s remorse. 

I do a lot of Virtual Window Shopping where I will look at an item, place it in the Web site’s shopping cart and then leave it there for a couple hours or even a day or two.  I will look at my current wardrobe and stop and think – will this work with what I have?  Is this something I need?  What are the washing instructions – will it sit in my trunk for three weeks until I get to the dry cleaners? 

Once I have determined that I like it and think it will be a good purchase, I often look for the same item on other sites so I can see how it fits on differnt models.  That which looks adorable and work-appropriate on one model may look tight and club-like on another.  I also google the item because you can often find reviews on style blogs of a popular item from a store like Gap or J. Crew.

So readers, if you are a size 16, what are your favorite places to shop?  Where do you have luck?

A Plus Side to Saturday…

Image via Instagram

I wore this dress from Gwynnie Bee, which I mentioned I will be taking to Forecastle. It dried relatively quickly after jumping in the pool, and everything (including my iPhone) stayed in my pockets. It didn’t stick to my legs when wet and when dry, even after wringing it, it looked pretty fantastic. Three cheers for Cherry Velvet, a Canadian brand that creates adorable fashion for cusp and plus sized women, and three cheers for Gwynnie Bee who offers their fab frocks!

I want to thank you all for your amazing comments on my last post. It was a tough day, and I was especially hard on myself because I saw me and Emerson as a reflection of Karl, who was working. He has gotten gigs before from shooting events, and I worried that folks may find us batty and it would affect his work. However as many of you mentioned, few likely would remember it and many would likely have done the same or have done the same in the past. Thank you all, I have some of the most amazing readers and am so glad I have been able to connect with you through this blog and consider many of you friends. THANK YOU!

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Fashion for the Plus-Sized Athlete

Reader Catherine contacted me with a fashion concern that I and probably many of you readers can relate to:

“Allie, where does a plus-sized woman find stylish yoga and gym attire? I can ever seem to find something that is flattering to my curves, supportive of my bust and isn’t shapeless knits in hum drum colors. Can you help?”

I hope so… I too have had this issue and often end up making streetwear workout attire (nicer fitted tees, capris and pants of stretchy moveable fabrics, etc.) because it is so hard to find cute workout gear. However there are some amazing companies out there that provide great gear for all sizes and shapes of women!

Athleta is a fabulous company geared exclusively to female athletes. Not only do they carry a multitude of their styles in plus size, they also carry tall and petite lengths for many of their active bottoms. I have shopped with them and have always been pleased with my purchases and the customer service. Their Cargo Tech Stretch Pant is a great item for cold-weather activities like hiking, and would be so sassy paired with their Love Tattoo 1/2 Zip (pictured, available in three colors). Athleta also offers dozens of styles of bras and categorizes them by impact level of the activity and whether you desire wireless or underwire.

Woman Within offers activewear in a bevy of colors and styles. I am partial to the Intimate Promises X-Back Tank with Built-In Bra (love when the tops are sold by bra size instead of generic sizes). The purple geometric print (pictured, also available in solid colors) is kicky and fun and would be cute paired with the Stretch Bootcut Yoga Pants from the same brand.

Junonia is an amazing company that provides gear for active women sized 14 and above. And when I say active gear, it’s not just a site of a few black yoga pants and sports bras. Swimsuits, ski apparel, tennis outfits, hiking pants and moisture-wicking everything imaginable. I love the Zippity Cami – great for the treadmill or the yoga mat, the little tank hides a super-supportive zip-front bra (FYI there is a printed version at a very nice sale price right now!). The Roll Waist Yoga Capri is comfy and of matching fabric so you can have just as sassy of a set as any other woman in the studio!

Go Figure is a site completely geared toward the woman who is a size 12 and up. The Dominique Sleeveless T-Shirt is hip and I love the color contrast; the Marla Skort is a great choice to be able to go from gym to grocery on a busy day. My favorite part of this site? Refresh any page and see multiple picture of REAL women sporting the duds – muscular, plus-sized, every age (picture to left from the Go Figure site). Very refreshing to see!

Plus Sized Work Attire Options

Dear Allie:
I am getting back into the workforce after five years as a SAHM. I’m really excited, but am having a hard time finding nice work clothes. I am a size 18, 5’5” and an apple and all I seem to find are lowcut dresses and polyester pants. Do you know where I can find suits and work clothes like dresses and blouses for my size?

Why are all plus sized suits made out of polyester? Where can I find a suit that is equal in quality and price to J. Crew but goes above a size 16?

I was recently promoted and my new position requires me to travel on business several times a month. For such trips, I will need to wear a suit while at the office I can usually get away with casual pants or even nice jeans. While I have a great wardrobe of business casual pieces, it is proving difficult to find more corporate of attire for my size (I vary between a 20 and 22). Do you know of any retailers who specialize in suiting and corporate attire for plus-sized women?

Hi Allie, I need to improve my look at work. We’re allowed to wear anything we want but I don’t want to look like a slob any more and think if I look good I may be more likely to get a raise or promotion. I’m 5’7”, a size 20 with a large bust and don’t even know where to start looking for nicer work clothes. HELP!

I am not sure why the world thinks women over a size 12 don’t hold professional jobs. They must think that with the poor selection of career wear for plus-sized women. While quality suits and stylish business casual clothing does exist, it’s hard to find. Below I feature some brands who realize that just because you wear a larger size doesn’t mean you wish to sacrifice style, quality, or professionalism.

If you’re plus sized, I’m sure you already know about Lane Bryant, Avenue, Ashley Stewart, One Stop Plus/Woman Within/Roamans/Jessica London, and other retailers who specialize in plus size fashion. Below are some suggestions on brands I know who aren’t the typical shops, and who provide quality, well-crafted and stylish career wear in plus sizes

Nordstrom
I know, I know, Nordstrom again? Thing is, they offer a great selection of quality brands and style for plus sizes. MICHAEL Michael Kors, Rachel Palley, Calvin Klein, Karen Kane, Eileen Fisher, Tahari Woman, Vince Camuto, Kenneth Cole… all these brands and more are offered in plus sizes at Nordstrom stores and online.

Unlike many other department stores who think a woman in a size 22 dress wants a muumuu or a flowing polyester pantsuit, Nordstrom buyers find brands and pieces that are in the same vein of style as the rest of the store. Great colors, fun silhouettes, lots of options. Nordstrom has free shipping and free returns, will perform alterations onsite, and have personal shoppers that can help you secure a professional wardrobe for your job.

Macy’s
Macy’s is another department store who offers a fantastic selection of brands and styles for plus sizes. Alfani, Calvin Klein, Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Jones New York, and then their in-house brand INC International Concepts are great resources for great plus size office wear. Like Nordstrom, Macy’s provides a good amount of real estate in most of their stores for plus-sized fashion.

Macy’s always has promotions for discounts and shipping deals. Macy’s has a great return and exchange policy, where you can return by mail or at any nearby store.

Talbots
Talbots Woman comes in sizes 12-24 regular and 12-22 petite. Each season they offer several styles of suit separates so you can mix and match for the perfect career look. Talbots also specializes in business casual looks, with tailored trousers, well-crafted skirts, polished knits and sweaters and even shoes and accessories.

While many retailers hide their plus size department in a dusty corner or keep it only online, Talbots often has separate stores just for their Woman line, or else it gets plenty of real estate in their mixed-size store. Talbots is phenomenal with customer service, seeking out sizes at other locations, taking returns in-store, and giving you honest feedback and offering suggestions at the fitting room. When I was a size 18, Talbots was my go-to store, where I knew I would find quality, style, and a supportive staff.

Jones New York
While Jones New York is a department store staple, they also have their own online boutique that has a large selection of career wear in extended sizes. Since you have to return by mail (they offer a pre-paid shipping label), it’s good to try out JNY in a store to know how it fits, and then go online to find a larger selection.

Kiyonna
Kiyonna knows how to dress a woman. They make well-made pieces that are stylish and flattering to a plus-sized figure. No muumuus and garish prints here, Kiyonna offers beautiful dresses, and also a beautiful selection of separates. While their bottoms are very basic, they are well-made and classic. Some of their tops can run on the sexy side, but many are great pieces for business casual environments or fabulous shells under suits. Their return policy is pretty standard but I hear their sizing is quite consistent so once you know how you fit in Kiyonna you won’t have to make as many returns and exchanges.

Ann Taylor
If you enter an Ann Taylor store, you may think they don’t care about anyone over a size 12. However online they go up to size 18 and XXL on the majority of their pieces. I also find Ann Taylor runs a bit large and many of my readers have agreed that their size 18 can often fit a size 20 woman.

Ann Taylor regularly has promotions for free shipping and percentages off select items – it’s smart to sign up for their emails or follow them on Facebook or Twitter so you stay updated. Their online selection can sell out pretty quickly when they have such sales, so shop early. While Ann Taylor doesn’t offer free returns, they do accept returns even of larger sizes in any store. And if you have to do a return, check out their sale rack where I have regularly seen larger sizes from other women who have made returns.

Lands’ End
Lands’ End may not be the retailer you would think for career wear, but they do have a pretty great selection of workwear staples. While their summer selection is more geared towards shorts and dresses, they always have a good selection of blazers and coordinating bottoms and come the cooler months have an even greater selection of suiting and work-appropriate pieces.

Lands’ End often has promotions for discounts and free shipping so sign up for their emails to get the latest news. Lands’ End also accepts returns at Sears stores which makes shopping with them even more convenient.

Eddie Bauer
Like Lands’ End, Eddie Bauer mainly focuses on casual weekend fashion. However, like Lands’ End they have a few stand-out pieces each season for career wear. Eddie Bauer often focuses on easy-care pieces, and you’re likely to find wrinkle-free suiting, no-iron button-front shirts, and machine washable trousers and dresses. Eddie Bauer offers free exchanges and accepts returns by mail (they will provide a pre-paid shipping label or you can send by your own method) or in store.

Overstock
I’m quick to head to Overstock to find a toaster oven or an area rug, but I have now learned to go to this site for fashion. Popular brands like Tahari, Kasper, Calvin Klein, and Ann Klein are featured by Overstock, and at nicer prices than at the department store. While some of the styles offered on Overstock are a bit strange, you can also find some gems – often pieces being sold right now at your nearby Belk or Macy’s. Overstock has customer reviews, ridiculously cheap shipping, and a reasonable return policy.

TJ Maxx
While most of my local discount big box retailers will have some plus size fashion, it’s usually a small section, messy, and full of strange pieces I wouldn’t be caught dead in. Not so for TJ Maxx, who usually carries higher-end brands than similar stores, and they usually have a larger and better organized plus size department.


Where do you find stylish and well-made plus size career wear? I’d love to know your suggestions!

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Dress Your Age, Not Your Shoe Size

I hate too many rules with fashion – it takes the fun out of it. I don’t think a certain age requires one to have a certain length of hair or skirt, and heck I think diamonds are too pretty to only wear in evening and when older. However, I think some fashion guidelines are created to help us from looking like fools.

Last week I was crossing the street in Washington D.C. and in front of me was a woman in a full-length mink coat and a shoulder-length sandy-colored bob. She was wearing black pants, black heels, had a very large black handbag and was walking with purpose. From the back, I assumed she was a successful and powerful woman in her late 40s to early 50s. At the intersection she went left when I went right and I was able to see the front of her and was utterly shocked to see this woman was in fact younger than I – probably early to mid 20s with a fresh face and a baby pink cashmere turtleneck.

This weekend I visited Miami, the land of flamboyant dress. I saw so many women of all ages strutting their stuff – be it money, creativity, fashion sense, love of a Bedazzler. What made many of these women great was that they wore their confidence as loudly as they did their gem-encrusted lounge suits. It isn’t my personal desire to wear lamé tunics and appliquéd jeans, but I respect these women’s desires – their style is appropriate for their environment and lifestyle and most had colors that flattered, cuts that fit and accessories to tell a little about the woman inside.

However I did also see quite a travesty while on my vacation – women dressing as children. My sister and I saw a woman at the Bal Harbour Shops in a pink spandex tube top riddled with beading and sequins, a white cotton ruffled micro-mini skirt, pink metallic wedges to match her pink metallic lips, and extensions that put Paris and Brit to shame. It was the look of a Bratz doll and was being worn by a woman in her 40s. Nothing wrong with a passion for pink and all things girly, but on this woman it looked like a costume… and it looked ridiculous. Later we saw a woman with her children who had a teased ponytail on top of her head, sequin-embellished cropped jeans, metallic heels with satin bows on them and pink glitter all over her eyes and lips. Her daughters were dressed similarly – too cute on a four-year old, but a bit desperate on the 30-something mom.

No one is saying you have to toss your Levis for wool gabardine once you hit 40, or that only “ladies of a certain age” can wear jewels, it is just being true to yourself. A four-year old dresses with what is shiny and fun, not needing to find clothing as a uniform, a social norm or communication device. The older we are, the more our clothing multi-tasks and is an extension of our personality and lifestyle. Our wardrobe needs to be as multi-faceted as our personality. Just as I recently made mention of animal-shaped hats and cartoon tees, wearing clothing obviously too old or young for you confuses those who meet you, not understanding your true nature and often pre-judging you. Dressing too adult can make you seem boring, old-fashioned, unstylish, uptight. Dressing too young can make you look unintelligent, superficial, promiscuous, annoying. It is possible to seem youthful and creative without raiding your daughter’s closet, and to look classic and conservative without dressing like your mother.

How to Add Youth to a Conservative Wardrobe:
Play With Color. Instead of donning neutrals and black, add some cheer to the mix. Pastels are feminine and subtle and great compliments to gray, camel and brown. Muted jewel tones like berry, teal and plum add class to a simple look and flatter most any skintone.

Walk the Mall. We often get comfortable with the brands we shop at; maybe we choose Boutique B because they have conservative hemlines and classic lines. The thing is you can often find items that fit your sense of style in unexpected shops. A classic pencil skirt could be found at Old Navy, a great suit in J. Crew, a lovely trench in Bebe. Be honest with the salesperson about your style and needs so you don’t waste either of your time.

Simple and Fresh. Keeping your hair and makeup simple, clean and fresh will help show your youthful side. Over-polished hair styles and matte makeup ages anyone.

How to Make a Whimsical Wardrobe Age-Appropriate:
Respect Hemlines. A skirt that is too short is flattering on no-one. Keep your hemlines just above your knee and you will flatter your legs and still look youthful. Keep this in mind also for shorts.

Leave Some to the Imagination. Short skirt, tight belly-baring top AND a low neckline? This is too much on anyone, no matter her age or figure. Choose one body part you wish to highlight, be is your fabulous décolleté, great gams, or a strong back. As for belly-baring tops, outside of a gym or beach they usually look contrived and desperate. We can tell you have a six-pack by your silhouette, it doesn’t have to be on display.

Chanel Fashion Wardrobe StyleChannel Chanel. Coco Chanel once said, “Before leaving the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory.” No one would ever find Chanel to be boring or fitting a mold. If you have on bracelets, large earrings, several necklaces, sunglasses, six chunky rings, a hip belt, a scarf and a headband… you look like a fashion victim, not an artist. You can still show your sense of whimsy or creativity with less embellishment. A strong necklace can be far more telling than a ring on every finger, a great bangle made by an artist or picked up on vacation holds far more interest than a mess of necklaces from any old mall store. You will receive more compliments and inquiries into your look or accessory if it gracefully holds the spotlight and doesn’t fight for it.

Why Didn’t I Think of That – Volupties

These days, there’s a subscription program for everything, from tee shirts to lip glosses to statement necklaces. And for a long while there have been subscription services for lingerie and underpinnings, but they weren’t that nice of quality and never fit plus size women. As a woman with larger curves, I often feel left out of such programs – they all seem great but they don’t offer extended sizes. We women want fun and flirty and fabulous things in our mailbox too!

Enter Volupties, a subscription service that offers high-quality pretty underwear for curvy and plus-sized women. For just $17 a month (shipping included), you will receive three pairs of quality underwear delivered discreetly to your door. Each month you will receive different brands, different styles, different colors.  They are constantly adding new brands and manufacturers to their collection, providing members on occasion with undies that are valued at over $20 each in select packages!

Volupties let me try out the program and I received three different yet all pretty and flirty pairs – a cotton bikini by Intimate Basics in a gorgeous teal color with fun stitching and bow detail, a fabulous lace hipster from Vision Intimates in a gorgeous shade of hot pink, and a racy gray leopard of a stretchy silky fabric by Jennifer Intimates.  All three are high quality – better than what you can find in a big box store and far more fun than what you can usually find in a department store in larger sizes.  Packages arrive wrapped in pretty pink tissue paper.

Volupties has subscriptions in three size combos, XL/1X, 2X, and 3X. They have a size chart on their site to help you choose the right fit, and make it easy if you need to change your size or cancel your subscription. If you are smaller, try their sister site, Splendies. While I love a great lipstick or trial size of skincare, sometimes a new fabulous pair of undies can transform your outlook even more!

And just for Wardrobe Oxygen readers, use code OXYGEN when you subscribe, and you can save $4 off your first month with Splendies and $5 off your first month with Volupties!

Note: While I was provided a free month, I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.  I just think it’s a pretty fabulous program and am thrilled when companies recognize that plus size women deserve products to make them feel sexy and fabulous!

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Holiday Gift Guide for the Practical Pal

We all have that friend or relative who doesn’t NEED anything and finds most traditional gifts frivolous. While she may be perfectly happy with a gift card to Target, it’s nice to buy actual gifts for people to unwrap and realize you thought of them. While I have been scouring the web for other posts, I’ve been bookmarking things I find to be so practical yet lovely that most anyone would like it as a gift. All of these are under $100 and have free shipping.

gift guide practical presents holiday

1. Large Personalized Canvas Tote – $34.50

A little secret, this is one of my favorite baby and bridal shower gifts. While many sizes of this tote are available, I find the Large Tote to be the most versatile size. It can be a beach bag, overnight bag, reusable grocery tote, tote all your kid’s toys to grandma’s, tote your dirty clothes to the Laundromat… I love carrying potluck items in it – I wrap the casserole in towels on the bottom and on top I can put a 6-pack, bottle of wine, present for the hostess and it won’t topple over in the trunk on the way there. Personalization is free, making it the gift she didn’t think she needed but will be using regularly for years.

2. Stabilicers Lite Hikers – $29.95

I may be biased from my ice slip last year, but this was an AWESOME gift from my sister. They’re rubber so they stretch over shoes pretty easily, and are easy to slip off once you get to your destination. A great choice for anyone in an icy location, and especially good for those who aren’t as steady on their feet (or fear black ice after a previous fall, jus’ sayin’…). Do know they run a bit small, if unsure go up a size because they still won’t be too big for boots and sturdier shoes.

3. Starbucks Stainless Travel Mug – $19.95

Almost ten years ago, I won a $50 Starbucks card and I bought that year’s version of this mug. And I am still using that mug today. Most travel mugs get weird with time – the lids get stretched out, they leak, the double walled system separates. Not this baby. While it doesn’t look brand new any more, it keeps my coffee hotter longer than any other mug I’ve had, fits in all the cupholders in both of our cars, and it holds a full 16 ounces. This is something that is worth spending a bit extra and your loved one will thank you five years from now when she’s still reaching for it for her daily work commute. Do note, this isn’t one with free shipping (it is on Amazon with free Prime shipping but costs $10 more), but I’ve seen it in several Starbucks locations this year so it’s easy to pick up in person. If you plan to buy more at Starbucks, code AFF10 should give you 10% off your first purchase with them online plus free shipping if you spend at least $65.

4. Refurbished Kindle Paperwhite – $99

I got one free last year as part of a blogger promotion and it made me a Paperwhite convert. My mom bought her boyfriend one last Christmas and he loves it. Long battery life, great for the practical person who doesn’t want to add more stuff to her house, and especially nice for those with poor vision or dexterity. While the newest generation Paperwhites are $119, you can find perfectly good refurbished ones under $100 and Amazon provides a 1-year limited warranty and proper packaging so you can feel good giving refurbished as a quality gift.

5. Portable Power Bank – $49.95

The more we rely on our smartphones, the faster we deplete their batteries. This compact charger that isn’t much bigger than a smartphone adds a boost of power to small appliances just when you need it most.

6. Silk Long Johns and Socks – Starting at $17

Of course you better know the person quite well to give such a gift, but it’s likely one that will be loved and well used by the recipient for many years to come. Since he doesn’t read my blog I’ll let you know I got Karl the Silk Interlock Crew and Pants for a gift this year (thank you Lands’ End for carrying it in Tall!) and I know he’ll go gaga for it while he usually finds most gifts silly. Lands’ End has a great return policy, are known for quality, and have a nice variety and pricepoint making it a good destination for such gifts.

7. Legacybox – Starting at $75

What a cool concept; fill a Legacybox with old films, photos, slides, negatives, tapes and more and send it back with the pre-paid shipping label and they will carefully digitize all your memories. You will get back all your original memories as well as DVDs with your digital copies. At the time of writing this, if you visited the site and provided your email you’d automatically get a 25% off coupon and last week I received a coupon for 40% off and a promise to have Legacybox delivered in time for Christmas.

8. Adult Shearling Insoles – $16

Slip them into a pair of your tall leather or snow boots for warmth and comfort or give new life to an old pair of slippers. Made from natural shearling which wicks moisture and EVA foam which adds cushioning, these would be a welcome treat for anyone’s tootsies this winter.

LiveTheLook and Wardrobe Oxygen: #LTLStyleMe Twitter Chat

As a blogger, I have gotten to know a few companies in a more intimate way. Partnering with them, chatting with the CEOs and creators, I see the people in the companies, the heart, the effort, and it’s thrilling when I see them grow and achieve success. And LiveTheLook, a company I have partnered with in the past has been growing and changing, and a lot has to do with YOUR feedback! Seriously, your comments on previous posts about LiveTheLook helped LTL co-founder Francesca Helina develop the shopping site into what it is today.

LiveTheLook and Wardrobe Oxygen fashion twitter chat December 7, 2014 at 6pm ET #LTLStyleMe

LiveTheLook is a site that works with your current closet and offers pieces to help you achieve a stylish and cohesive wardrobe. It works very similarly to how I approach a wardrobe – buy classic staples and then use a few current trends and accessories to update and add interest each season. Upon signing up with LiveTheLook, you take a quick style profile test about what wardrobe staples are in your closet and what you consider to be your personal style. LiveTheLook takes this info and tailors its shopping suggestions for you.

While this is the same concept that I mentioned the last time I featured LiveTheLook, the shopping itself has changed. You asked for extended sizing? LiveTheLook now offers up to a size 20 and is currently working on partnerships with more brands that offer awesome style in plus sizes. You wanted more options, LiveTheLook has partnered with more retailers expanding their selection, pricepoints, and as previously mentioned, sizes. Gotta love a company who truly listens to feedback and truly wants to impress their customers! Register at LiveTheLook, take the quick profile quiz and check out the great new changes.

LiveTheLook and Wardrobe Oxygen Twitter Chat on How to Dress for the Holidays 12/7 6pm #LTLStyleMe

LiveTheLook is like a virtual personal shopper, completing your wardrobe. Well this Sunday, that virtual shopper will be ME! Come join me on Twitter this Sunday, December 7 at 6pm ET for a Twitter chat with @LiveTheLookNow and @Wardrobe_Oxygen. Follow the hashtag #LTLStyleMe where we’ll be discussing what to wear for all the holiday events on your social calendar. Want to know what shoes to wear with your cocktail dress? How to jazz up your favorite sweater for Christmas Eve at the inlaws? Tweet your questions with #LTLStyleMe and I’ll provide personal suggestions. If you tweet a photo of the item you need help styling (and are already registered with LiveTheLook), we’ll style you on the spot AND LiveTheLook will send you a free accessory. How awesome is that?

I hope you’ll join me this Sunday at 6pm ET on Twitter, I look forward to connecting with you and helping you look festive and fabulous this holiday season!

Fight for Your Right to be Fashionable!

Two conversations this weekend led me to the same conclusion – most clothing made for women over a size 14 is CRAP. Why do plus-size designers believe that anyone who wears their clothes are the size of a typical size 8, just stretched in every direction? Not all size 18 women are 6’ tall with shoulders like a linebacker. Not every size 20 woman has size F breasts, and just because someone wears a larger size in jeans does not mean she also has a higher rise. The average size of an American woman’s dress may be growing, but that does not mean the height of an American woman is growing at the same speed. More often than not, that plus sized shopper has the same bone structure as her size 8 counterpart, just more curves and padding over those bones.

And another thing, why is it that the only choices for a plus sized woman is to look like a tramp, a dowager or blob? No matter our size, we should be able to easily express ourselves – our sophisticated, creative, feminine, chic self.

Walking through the mall, a woman over a size 12 has minimal options. Good old Lane Bryant may have some great pieces, but they are stuffed on overcrowded racks and rounders with utterly hideous polyester confections, gaudy prints and muumuu-like frocks. Avenue and Ashley Stewart rarely have the quality and current style of say, Bebe or Ann Taylor and I don’t even want to mention the majority of crap on the racks of Fashion Bug and Deb. Hit J. Jill, Coldwater Creek and Eileen Fisher, and if you are under 40 (or over 40) you may feel as though everything is wrong wrong wrong for your lifestyle and personality. The local department store may have a Women’s section, but it’s often small, limited and usually the worst maintained section of the whole store.

Why do we allow this? Why are we accepting this crap for our beautiful bodies? Just because we aren’t a size 6 doesn’t mean that we don’t deserve style, quality and proper service. We are professionals, fashionistas, women with just as much money (and money equals power) as our slimmer counterparts.

As I said in my Target article, vote with your pocketbooks! Write letters and emails and fill out comment cards at shops. Tell retailers when they get it right, and when they get it deathly wrong. If a company sees something sells, they will make more of the same. If it doesn’t sell, they will discontinue it. If you feel that the basic tees and tanks in a retailer are of sub par quality, let them know. If you feel that the sizing is all off (hello Lane Bryant and your new jeans sizing!) SAY SOMETHING! Get on message boards, write to plus-size magazines and forums.

The problem is that many plus-sized designers are not plus-sized, and are often not women. They don’t understand how weight is distributed, that we don’t want to hide under a swath of paisley chiffon, don’t always want to wear high-waist jeans and ponchos, that we may actually find our body beautiful and ourselves worthy of great style. They make great shoes in larger sizes, they make fabulous jeans in long lengths, women with curves deserve and should demand the same luxury.

Retailers see the success of Lane Bryant and make carbon copies of it, hoping to jump on the plus-sized fashion bandwagon. If Lane Bryant does it for you – style and figure-wise then I am happy for you. However if you are like most women I know who are in double-digit dress sizes, you wish there was more Torrid and IGIGI and Marina Rinaldi in the world, and less of this discount crap that is unflattering and unworthy our hard-earned cash.

As I always say, do not settle. You are better off with the same black pants worn over and over for now, than to buy crap and encourage these designers to purchase more crap. No matter your dress size, you should be a discerning shopper, hitting the fitting rooms and the internet to find the right fit, the right quality, the right style, the right price. High-end department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Nieman Marcus are getting progressively more diverse departments for sizes over 14 and the lower-end market is being saturated with plus-size crapola shops. What about the middle? We need more mall shops that are the same caliber as J. Crew, as Banana Republic, as The Limited.

Let your opinion be heard. Women often stay mute for seeming bitchy, pushy or rude. We feel we maybe don’t deserve it because of our shape. I say NONSENSE, every person on this planet is special and beautiful. Beauty is in all shapes and colors and maybe it’s the crap we are forced to purchase that makes us feel less than utterly gorgeous.

So to my sisters who are in the double digits, I will share with you a few beauts I have found online… to show you what you deserve for your fabulous body. If you want to see more of this… then you know what you need to do… (and tell them you want to see plus size women model those fashions too!)

Charcoal Shirt Dress from IGIGI – Shirt dresses are a stylish way to be dressed for work OR play. I love this one because it nips in the waist and has all the current details seen on other brands.

Purple Wrap Dress from IGIGI – Purple is a hot season for fall, and IGIGI seems to know how to make a wrap dress that works on many shapes without showing off too much in front.

Hot Orange Dress from IGIGI – Don’t hide behind drab colors; this dress will light up a room and your face!

White Tailored Shirt from Nexx – The tie detail and the French cuffs are elegant, not cheesy.

Denim Trousers from Kiyonna – I swear by my denim trousers – they work for business casual, dress up a simple top to make it work for a night out on the town, and the dark color is current and flattering.

Embossed Leather Jacket by Berek – How fun and daring is this jacket? with a white tank and jeans, or even with a shell and trousers for a night out or to work!

Mandeville Canyon Jeans from Paige Premium Denim – Paige cuts all their jeans for a real woman’s shape, and the quality is awesome. Plus, it’s always fun to sport some sassy designer jeans!

Freestyle Revolution Skinny Jeans in Smoke – the skinny jeans are still hot this fall, and this smoke color is fun and will look great with the fall’s brights as well as the darker colors of the season.

Giraffe Print Dress from Kiyonna – Utterly gorgeous and elegant, and a cut to flatter, not fight against your curves.

Dana Buchman Silk Charmeuse Wrap Top – Gorgeous color, gorgeous fabric – wear with denim trousers for a night out, with crepe trousers or a skirt for a party, and even with suiting pieces for work.

Royal Blue Jersey Cocktail dress by Tadashi – Gorgeous color, elegant draping, and perfect for all your seasonal holiday parties!

The Return of Foxcroft Style Stars (and a Giveaway!)

Last year I had the opportunity to head to NYC and style a photoshoot for Foxcroft Collection. I’ve been a fan of their no-iron shirts for a while (and love that they come in Plus and Petite), and it was fun to support them with this project. And it wasn’t any old project either. To celebrate their 25th anniversary, Foxcroft invited teachers from NYC’s P.S. 159 Bayside to model their silver anniversary collection and be Foxcroft Style Stars.

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For the second year, Foxcroft is celebrating the hard work and dedication of New York’s public school teachers with Foxcroft Style Stars 2014. Twenty women from P.S. 31 in Brooklyn, a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, received the star treatment.  L’Appartement Prive Salon hosted the teachers for the day of pampering: hair consultations and styling by celebrity hairstylist Laurent Dufourg, and a custom wardrobe from Foxcroft.

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Janet Zukowski, who has taught at P.S. 31 for over 30 years, said the day was “magical.” Zukowski continued, “We felt appreciated and were treated royally. I think it was a once in a lifetime kind of event.”  Laurent Dufourg, who has worked with celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Sophia Loren, and Tina Fey enjoyed styling the teachers, stating, “Working with these ladies is extremely rewarding because they leave the salon feeling like a million dollars. I love it. It is very satisfying.”

Foxcroft Collection will reveal the 2014 Style Stars as the center of their back-to-school digital campaign, launching this month. The campaign will showcase the ladies dressed in the brand’s latest looks for fall, which will be highlighted on the Foxcroft Collection homepage. You can shop their looks at this link and get 20% off the pieces (valid until 8/20/14)!

Giveaway

You can have a bit of the Foxcroft Style Star experience for yourself! Please visit Foxcroft Collection and in the comments below let me know your favorite blouse. One Wardrobe Oxygen reader will win the blouse in the style and size of her choice!

Giveaway ends August 31, 2014. Giveaway is open to residents of the USA only, and winner will be chosen at random. You must have a valid email address in your Disqus profile/signed in with a valid email address or else include it in your comment to be eligible. No need to provide size, if you are the winner we will contact you for details.  If winner doesn’t reply to winning email within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.  Good luck!

The Mall and the SAHM

This week, I ran to the mall at lunch for some retail therapy. I recently bought a pair of black trousers that had such a perfect fit, fabric and cut that I returned to get them in two other colors. While strolling the mall sipping my iced coffee, I realized that the majority of the mall was occupied by mothers with their children. Women with slings holding sleeping infants, women with strollers holding up to three kids at a time at varying ages. Women and children hand in hand at the food court, on benches, in stores. As varying were the ages of their children were the appearances of these mothers.

This mall is in a community where every economic level of person lives. On one side of the mall are million-dollar townhomes in a gated community, the other side are rent-controlled apartments. A mile up the street are McMansions and in the other direction, cozy blocks of split-level and rancher-style brick homes built in the 50s. I used to work at this mall, and saw people from all walks of life enter my store. This day of retail therapy and my years of retail management remind me that money does not equal style.

My mom often tells me about my childhood. We were not well off and she had to save up to buy clothes for herself and us kiddies. Weekends were spent at yard sales for clothes, furniture and even Christmas presents come winter. Though my mom had a limited budget, she always looked great. She learned to sew to be able to dress for less and flatter her petite frame. She scoured sale racks and when something worked, she would buy multiples in varying colors to make things simple. Since she was a Stay at Home Mom (SAHM), she needed clothes that didn’t wrinkle, could handle multiple washings and were so easy to pair with one another, she could dress in the dark. Pictures of her during this time shows her in jeweled toned knit tops, black knit trousers, black shoes and a silver pendant necklace almost every day. Not too exciting, the sleeve and pant length seemed to change with the seasons, but the premise was the same. Considering it was the 70s and 80s, my mom had a shoulder-length perm that flattered her face but was low-maintenance. You couldn’t look at her and know her income level or that I had vomited on that shirt two days prior. She was a parent of two rambunctious children, a volunteer in our schools, the editor of the church newsletter, active in the community and always overextended. Though her life may have been frazzled, her appearance was not.

It really is possible to look good and be a SAHM. And this is possible without spending much more time every day. It’s all about mindful shopping. I know I have written about this before, but this is something that is important to all women, no matter our lifestyle or responsibilities.

As I walked down the mall, I had two women in front of me pushing strollers. They were friends, chatting with each other as they window-shopped. They were both in their 30s, both of average size, both with straight blonde hair and I believe even had the same strollers. That was where the similarities ended. One was in baggy over-washed black cotton capris that ended at the widest part of her calf. She paired this with a pink, black and white horizontally striped polo shirt that hit right at her waistband and with it a pair of black flip flops. Her hair was half up in a claw clip, though most was slipping out and fanning out around her head. She looked dumpy, disheveled and her clothes looked cheap. Her friend was also in black capris, but they were of a very heavy knit and fit her frame quite well. Paired with it was a turquoise boatneck ¾ sleeve top that hit at mid-hip. On her feet were black ballet flats and her hair was held back with a black elastic headband. Her outfit was just as low-fuss and easy care, yet she looked slimmer and more polished. Both wardrobes can go in the washer and dryer. Both outfits were comfortable and easy. The difference was that the woman in the turquoise seemed more mindful of what she was purchasing.

1. Don’t buy 100% cotton unless you love to iron. It wrinkles, and even an extra 10 minutes in the dryer won’t get those wrinkles out. Also, cotton is known to fade after many washings. Cotton clothes soon look rumpled, old and worn. You don’t have the time and money to replace them, so don’t buy them in the first place.

2. If your tummy is not your best feature, then don’t showcase it. Tops that hit right at your midsection draw attention to that area. Tucked-in tops emphasize the lower abdomen, and tops that are too tight do not flatter anyone. Look for tops that hit around mid-hip. This length is slimming to the torso without making the legs look short. No need for baggy tops – they often add bulk instead of hiding it. Look for something that either skims the body or sits pretty darn close. This will show you have the figure of a woman, not a sack of potatoes.

3. Flip flops are for the beach, not the mall. I say this often on here, but flops are bad for your feet. Your arches sink, you pull muscles between your toes and they do more harm than good. They are great when hopping in the car to drop the kid off somewhere, tooling around the garden, the pool or the shore but that’s about it. To preserve your feet for your future and not look sloppy, invest in some real shoes. Ballet flats are a great alternative and can be found for less than $20 at retailers like Target. A leather sandal in tan will go with 90% of your wardrobe and be more structured and attractive than a flip flop. This change affects your personal style as well as your personal health.

4. With skirts, dresses, shorts and capris, have them end at a slim part of the leg. Your thigh and your calf are the widest parts and when clothing ends there, it gives the appearance that your entire leg is that size. Do your figure a favor and if the garment is perfect except for the length, take them to the tailor. For about $5 they can hem it to a better place.

5. Consider solids. Stripes and patterns may add variety and you may think they hide stains, but they often look cheap and quickly look dated. A solid polo in French blue can look crisp with a pair of khaki Bermudas; a striped one can make you look bigger and often looks cheaper. The best way to make your bargain piece look more expensive is to buy it in a solid color, free of garment-dyed finishes, contrast stitching or elaborate details. Go for simple and you’ll go for gold.

6. Read the label. If it says Dry Clean Only, don’t buy it unless you have time and money for such a service. If it tells you to dry flat, it’s telling you not to buy it. You don’t have the time for this, and if you don’t follow the instructions you will probably ruin the shape or finish of the garment.

7. If it’s great, buy two. As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I went and bought two more pairs of pants that I already owned and loved. They were the right length, color, fabric and fit. No one is taking a tally of how many styles of garments you own, all people notice is if you look nice. You found a great wrap top that flatters and fits and is easy care and perfection? Get it in black, pink and teal. Found a wrap dress that can hit the dryer as well as the dance floor? Get it in solid black and also in the red print. This is also true for shoes – get them in the neutral you wear most often (black or brown) and then get them in one other color (tan or a contrast shade like red pr green). If they are awesome, they are worth it.

8. Adjust your hair to your life. If you don’t have time to blow out your hair every morning, then get a cut that allows you to wash and wear. If you have bad hair days, you are human. Work with it with flattering accessories. Claw clips seem like a quick fix but look sloppy more often than not. Headbands are hip right now – great time to stock up. Also nothing is wrong with a low ponytail; side parts are flattering on rounder faces and a little hairspray on your brush or comb will help battle flyaways.

9. Buy a new bra. Whether or not you breastfed, your breasts will not be the same as they were pre-baby even if your waistline is. With any weight changes, your breasts change as well. Nothing makes you look firmer and fitter than a supportive bra. Also nothing makes you feel more like a woman than to have a gorgeous red satin and lace number under your standard tee shirt.

10. Keep the active wear for the gym. Knit shorts, baggy tee shirts from a vacation destination, matching hoodies and pants are not appropriate for “the real world.” It is just as easy to buy a feminine cut of tee shirt than to buy an oversized one.

11. Don’t shy from a skirt or dress. If it hits around the knees, you can still crawl on the floor and run around without trouble. A skirt is always more polished, and a great tee-shirt style dress is easier to put on in the morning than a whole outfit. The one pictured is less than $40 by Jones New York, I found it at Nordstrom.

12. Show your personality. You are more than a mom, you are an amazing and vital woman. Wear your favorite colors, buy a leopard print shoe or a bold necklace. Small touches take your standard day wear from uniform to amazing with little work.

    Some companies I recommend to find beautiful, comfortable and durable garments:

    • Lands End – I love this place. I buy knits from there that never shrink, fade or pill. They have petite, tall and plus sizes and offer fit guides to ensure you get the right size. I recommend you use this guide for many of their pieces run big. Best part? Their prices are very reasonable!
    • Chico’s – Fabulous colors, fun accessories and lots of fabrics that resist wrinkles and fading. Do note their sizing is a bit different from most companies and they do not carry plus sizes. As with Lands End, they often run a tad big.
    • J. Crew – J. Crew is the Mecca for pretty solid colored tops. Flattering cuts of polos and tees, high-quality cashmere, cotton and wool sweaters, and all with flattering yet not risqué necklines and cuts. J. Crew often runs small, especially in their bottoms but the quality is good, the cut is usually flattering and their return policy is fabulous. The price may be a bit higher than you’re used to, but the quality usually makes it worth the investment (I am still wearing J. Crew skirts and sweaters from a decade ago).
    • I.N.C. by Macy’s – You may find this a strange choice but if you regularly visit this section you would understand. They carry petites and plus sizes, they always have the most gorgeous colors and a large selection of pants, shorts and capris for the season. I.N.C. does a fabulous job of taking what is on the runway and making is realistic and wearable for every woman. They carry prints, but also a plethora of solids every season in some high-quality knits and other washable fabrics.
    • Boden – Feminine cuts, pretty colors, and great basics for any wardrobe. Do note this is a UK site so their sizes run differently than the us (they have a handy fit guide on the site). They don’t have many extended sizes, though some trousers are offered in long lengths. This company has mastered simple elegance with their basic style.

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.