Search Results for: label/style secrets

Ask Allie: How to Style a Kilt

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

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

how to style a kilt women

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

how to style a kilt scottish woman

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

how to style a scottish kilt women

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

Giveaway: Remote Styling Session with DC Style Factory

Wardrobe Oxygen Giveaway - Win Four Hours of Remote Styling with DC Style FactoryMany of you have asked over the years if I do personal styling consultations. While I did this in the past, I stopped once Emerson was born and started researching personal stylists to be able to recommend quality individuals to you. Through this research I got to know, and become friends with many personal stylists and one is Rosana Vollmerhausen of DC Style Factory.

As a wife, mother of three, and business owner; Rosana walks the talk and shows one can maintain personal style when life is busy. She believes that if key wardrobe pieces make sense for who and where you are, personal style is accessible to anyone who wants it. Rosana has 15 years of fashion retail and styling experience, including owning, running, and buying for an award-winning boutique in DC. She has styled hundreds of men and women since launching DC Style Factory seven years ago and has built a team of passionate and skilled stylists and personal shoppers. I have met them all and find them all to be friendly, understanding, and a lot of fun!

With a combined 30-plus years in style and fashion, DC Style Factory offers expertise to plus-size, petite, tall clients and more. They’ve worked with high-profile big wigs who require polish for television appearances, attorneys, CEOs, stay-at-home moms juggling carpool, young professionals taking the next step in their careers and much more. Getting to know Rosana and her team at DC Style Factory, I learned their personal style beliefs are very in line with what I discuss here at Wardrobe Oxygen, and recommend their services with confidence. Some of you have worked with DC Style Factory after my recommendation and have reported back how it was a positive, fun, and enlightening experience and it helped you better understand your style and shop with success.

While DC Style Factory is located in the Nation’s Capital, they have been known to travel for special circumstances and also offer thorough and personalized virtual consultations. DC Style Factory is generous enough to provide one Wardrobe Oxygen winner with four hours of personalized online styling!


One lucky winner will receive four hours of remote/online styling from Rosana of DC Style Factory. This entails:

  • Initial phone call and email sharing basic information (sizing, headshot, full-body shot, etc.).  From this, winner will receive:
    • A checklist of essentials with directions on how to audit your own closet
    • A private Pinterest board where you and DCSF will communicate about how you wish to evolve your personal style
  • First hour:
    • 30 minute Facetime or Skype consult to discuss body type, lifestyle, and personal style/taste.  This consult will also delve into your closet, addressing any orphan garments, items you are wondering if you should keep, and more.
    • Following this consult, winner will receive a personalized style memo which includes:
      1. Snapshot of where you are style-wise and where you want to be
      2. Personalized style tips for your specific body type and lifestyle
      3. A budgeted and prioritized shopping list of pieces that will help refine, update, and complete your wardrobe.
  • Second Hour:
    • One hour of online shopping for the high-priority items on your list. You will receive multiple links to specific high-priority wardrobe items from your personalized memo.
    • Winner will provide pictures of new purchases so they can be reviewed prior to next Facetime/Skype consult.
  • Third hour:
    • One hour Facetime or Skype discussion to discuss purchases, possible ways to wear, and next steps.
  • Fourth Hour:
    • Rosana will create eight (8) outfits on Polyvore based on your new purchases so you can start trying out your new style!

How to Enter:
DC Style Factory Giveaway

Ask Allie: Personal Style with a Health Condition

I have multiple health conditions which make dressing nicely difficult. The two hardest are that 1. I can’t wear pants (or tights!) of any type and 2. I can only wear a few “comfort” shoes. Mainly Algeria Palomas. I can get by with some cute Merrell flats or Uggs for a very short time, if I’m not going to be on my feet much. That’s literally it for footwear. I am also a true plus size – size 20, and have trouble fastening very small buttons. So I tend to default to this skirt (because I freeze a LOT, my skirts are almost all this long), a tee or sweater, and my Palomas or Uggs depending on snow or not. Oh, and a cane. I desperately want to look more stylish but have no idea HOW with my limitations!

Style doesn’t come from being able to wear a certain silhouette, brand, or garment. Style comes from creating a look that works with your lifestyle and your personality. When I read your email I thought of my friend Amethyst who I featured in my True Fashionista series. She has foot issues and prefers long skirts and comfortable, flowing fabrics but she has a very defined personal style and aesthetic. Her style may not be for you, but she shows how you can create style no matter your personal situation.

While I regularly mention statement shoes and how a certain silhouette, heel height, or color can complete a look, I don’t believe a woman HAS to have a certain shoe to be stylish. As I wrote in this post, “pretend your feet and shoes don’t exist and dress in a way that gives you joy. This way, people won’t focus on your shoes and if one does, it’s clear they are worn for health reasons and not because you lack personal style.” A couple ways to create personal style:

Focus on Accessories

Many style icons are known for keeping their outfits simple, and showing their style through the details. Choosing a wardrobe of simple basics, and then incorporating great accessories is a way to make your specific sartorial needs create personal style.

fern mallisWhen considering this concept I thought of Fern Mallis, the creator of New York Fashion Week and for a decade, Executive Director of CDFA. Her actual wardrobe is pretty simple and sticks to the same shapes and silhouettes, but her personality comes with her choice of accessories and her signature glasses.

Style Tips with a Health Condition - achieving personal style when health issues require certain fashion and footwear
Shop the Looks: Red Sweater | Denim Skirt | Necklace | Red Shoes | Black Turtleneck | Black Skirt | Silver Skinny Scarf | Silver Cuff | Black Shoes | Gold Sweater | Denim Skirt | Chain Necklace | Bangle Bracelets | Sparkly Shoes

With these three looks I kept the wardrobe simple – sweaters and knits with long skirts but they create a stylish impact thanks to the use of accessories. I think the Algeria Palomas are great shoes because they do come in so many different colors, textures, and patterns so you can incorporate your personality into shoes that are good to your feet. Why not make them part of your signature style? Each look has a different pair of statement Palomas and I used them to create the color story and choose accessories to finish the look. As you see, you’re not stuck to one style or concept because of your shoes. Whether they’re pointed toe stilettos or comfort shoes, they can still make a fabulous statement and define your style. This is a great way to try different styles and find what feels you.

Create a Signature

Once you know what style/s fit your soul, you can create a signature style. A funky haircut, a wardrobe of amazing scarves, cool necklaces you buy from local artisans, a wrist of bangles, eye-catching glasses… all of these are examples.

lynn dellWhen considering this concept I thought of the late Lynn Dell, who was a boutique owner and seen on the blog and in the documentary Advanced Style. Dell had a very signature style, but it was created with her amazing choice in accessories. Hats, scarves, jewelry, and on-point lipstick gave an effect of glamour and sophistication while still remaining comfortable in soft knits and relatively sensible shoes.

Have Fun with Fabrics

Awesome prints and textiles aren’t just for the slim and trim. Whether you’re wrapped in black jersey or a floral jacquard, you will have the same body. If you’re comfortable with it, have fun with amazing textiles that are still easy to wear, warm, and work with your health situation.

suzy menkesWhen considering this concept I thought of journalist and fashion critic Suzy Menkes. Well respected in the fashion arena, Menkes is regularly seen in jackets, scarves and tops in beautiful prints, luxe fabrics with sheen, and embroidery, styled with simple dark colored knit separates (and her signature hairstyle!) . She exudes personal style without needing to adopt the runway trends she reviews.

All three of these style icons may not be your shape, your age, or your style.  They are just examples of women who have not sacrificed comfort or health to achieve style.  Your style may be more youthful, less colorful, more simplistic, more elaborate… it’s not about recreating or replicating but gleaning inspiration.

Personal Style is For Everyone

Personal style isn’t just for the thin, the rich, the young, the healthy, the mainstream. It may not be as easy but it is possible for all of us. One woman’s style is not the same as another. We are all snowflakes, whether it is our body type, our lifestyle, our specific needs, or what makes our soul sing. Whether we have a studio apartment or a palatial estate, we figure out how to make that house our home. Your body is your home, and it deserves to be styled in a way that celebrates its beauty while keeping it comfortable and safe. I hope this post can get your creative juices flowing. I wish you much success and joy as you embark on your style journey!

Ask Allie: How to Style Cowboy Boots

I have a cowgirl ball to attend soon. I live in Texas and think I may need to add cowboy boots to my wardrobe. However my style is more classic and ladylike (think Talbots, Ann Taylor) and have a hard time doing “cowboy”. Can you recommend something for this cowgirl ball plus how to add cowboy boots to my wardrobe going forward?

Up north, a ball usually means black tie. However I’ve noticed further south ball can mean a multitude of things. Thanks to your information, I was able to confirm that the type of ball you’re attending is more casual than you’d expect. Think sundresses, jeans with cute tops, denim shirts with skirts. It would be completely acceptable to choose a dress like this one from Talbots, this one from Boden, or this one from Ann Taylor or something already residing in your closet.  If you wish to have it look more “cowgirl” consider topping it with a denim jacket, but honestly from the looks of the pictures while some will go all-out with cowgirl regalia, most seem to wear clothing you could find at your favorite mall retailer, just paired with boots.

When you’re new to an area it can be pretty intimidating to attend such events; thanks to social media it’s easy to search for photos or articles about previous years of the event or similar functions. Even if you don’t have a Twitter account, if the event you are attending has a hashtag, enter it into the search function at the top of and all the tweets using that hashtag will show up. Some of them may include photos showing what attendees wore. If there isn’t a specific hashtag, enter the name of the event and likely tweets will show up. Instagram isn’t as easy to search if you don’t have an account; visit and put in the hashtag (or try making the event’s name into a hashtag like #XYZcowgirlball) and you should find relevant photos. I admit I do this quite often; it’s a great way to get a feel not just for the attire but the feel of the function and you can be prepared.

As for cowboy boots, it’s actually not that difficult to incorporate them into a classic wardrobe. I’d recommend your first pair to be a single color, simple in design, and the leather color that best matches your current wardrobe (black or brown). There’s no need to go out and buy a whole wardrobe of chambray, eyelet, and bandana prints to wear such pieces. Go slow, and incorporate them at first in the same manner you would a tall pair of boots. Here’s some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

How to style cowboy boots

Here, I took a classic look of narrow jeans and a crisp white shirt which would often be styled with riding boots, and switched them out for cowboy boots. The white shirt could be topped with a blazer or cardigan and easily replaced with a simple knit top. The point is to show you can easily pair cowboy boots with your regular casual or business casual attire. There’s no need to change your normal accessories because you changed your boots; go ahead and wear your pearls, your sparkly statement necklaces, your delicate chains. The same holds true for your bag; wear a style and shape that fits your personality first.

how to style cowboy boots

A cowboy boot looks great with a skirt with some volume, but that doesn’t mean you need to look like a square dancer. Fit and flare, pleats, gathers, and a-lines nicely balance the weight of a cowboy boot. Like me, you likely already own pieces like this in your wardrobe and paired them before with sandals or nude pumps. A switch to cowboy boots won’t look unusual; if you feel the cowboy boots are too rugged for your look up the femininity quota with a pastel bag and floral necklace. As an FYI, this look is an easy one to dress up for an event; switch out the skirt for a full length version, change the shirt into a crisp white one (or keep the denim if appropriate to the occasion) and have a super sparkly necklace and you’re evening-ready.

how to style cowboy boots

A boot also looks great with a looser shift dress. If you choose it in a drapey fabric like silk or rayon it won’t look too boxy. Even add a longer or heavier necklace to hold down the dress and reduce volume on top. Again, no need to buy a whole new wardrobe of bags and necklaces to accommodate your boots.

how to style cowboy boots

I must say this look was inspired by a woman I saw several years ago in the city. She had a similar outfit but in all greys with some well-worn brown cowboy boots when one would usually wear riding boots. The look was so chic and looked so right. A midi skirt is a great pairing for cowboy boots; the soft gathering gives a bit of volume to balance the footwear without overwhelming the frame. Keeping all the colors similar helps the boots blend into the look. A necklace with a natural element to it helps the boots look purposeful.

Do you wear cowboy boots? What are your recommendations for styling them?

How to Style Cropped Pants for Fall and Winter

This spring/summer I bought two pairs of cropped (ankle length) pants. One is a pair of skinny black jeans and the other a pair of burgundy tapered slacks. I’ve worn them with flowy tops and sandals or ballerina flats and now I wonder how to style these pants for fall/winter. The colors and material will work very well for those seasons, but I’m at a loss of how to style them. I’m a size 16 and a bit self-conscious about my hips in skinny/tapered pants but I really like these two and would like to be able to wear them when it gets colder. I’m a university student, so style is casual, but I’m in my 30’s so I want to look a bit more put together.

Ankle pants are tricky, but not impossible to style for fall and winter. I’m glad you brought up the colors and materials of the cropped pants, that is the first step into determining whether they can truly transition into colder weather. Chino is iffy, cotton sateen is too summery, and I’ll wag my finger at anyone who wears seersucker or linen crops come fall (unless you’re in a tropical locale!). But denim, stretch twill, ponte, and other thicker fabrics with a tight weave can transition quite nicely.

how to style cropped pants for fall and winter

Shop Similar Looks: Jeans | Pants | Turtleneck | Striped Sweater | Gray Sweater | Leopard Flats | Burgundy Flats | Black Flats | Tan Flats

The easiest way to transition cropped pants into fall is to do what I call, “Channeling Audrey.” Known for her sleek look with flat shoes, cropped pants, and a turtleneck, using Audrey Hepburn for inspiration is a chic way to make ankle pants look seasonally appropriate when the temps drop. I don’t recommend this look for winter as the effect is ruined when you add hosiery; while your ankles may be bare it is balanced for milder temperatures by the sweater on top. A blousy or slouchy sweater will ruin the effect; to balance your hips consider creating volume on top with a boatneck, turtleneck, or horizontal stripes. As for the flat, one with a pointed toe or teensy wide heel will also provide balance.

A fall work alternative is pairing the cropped pants with closed-toe pumps in a dark color. Style the pants as normal; such a slim fit looks great with a boyfriend blazer or longer cardigan.

how to wear cropped pants into fall and winter

Shop Similar Looks: Jeans | Pants | Boots | Sweater | Blazer | Wrap | Tee | Striped Top | Turtleneck

The best way to make cropped pants work in winter is hide the fact that they’re cropped. Since both styles are skinny, they’ll slide into a pair of tall boots quite nicely. Layers will also add to the wintry feel; a boyfriend blazer, sweater coat, or wrap will hide your hips in a seasonally appropriate fashion and the boots keep your figure from being too top heavy.

If these pants “feel” like summer and you have to work really hard to style them in the colder months, it’s best to store them and not wear again until spring. While it’s tempting to “make it work” with summer pieces to extend your wardrobe, it’s not worth it if it sacrifices your style. A woman’s style is not determined by the size of her wardrobe but how well she knows her style, her body, and the situation at hand.

Stacy London’s The Truth About Style Book and Tour

Thursday night I had the pleasure of seeing Stacy London speak at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue in DC. Her book, The Truth About Style came out this past Tuesday and after seeing the book trailer I knew I had to be at the speaking engagement.

I met Stacy London a few months ago when she was at a local mall promoting the partnership between her company Style for Hire and Westfield Malls. The experience made me a London fan for life – she’s so real, and she truly cares about helping women feel beautiful and comfortable in clothing. Thursday night, I realized that she cares even more so about women feeling beautiful and comfortable in their own skin.

I don’t want to give much away about what she discussed or what the book is about because I truly think this is a style book that you should read. Borrow it from the library, loan it from a friend, sneak into a nook of Barnes and Noble or splurge on a copy – you won’t regret it. I can just say that Thursday night gave me such motivation regarding this blog.

When I started this blog, I wasn’t terribly happy about my body. I had a lot of opinions about fashion and style, a lot of rules, and a lot of snark. Through blogging, I got to know so many readers – you weren’t pageviews but people. I saw that I wasn’t alone in not liking the body I was in, and I saw that my snark wasn’t benefiting anyone. What’s the point of a fashion blog (or book for that matter) that dismisses those who don’t “get” fashion, that pigeonholes all women into one lump who needs a white shirt, tan trench, and a strand of real pearls?

Through blogging and through changes in my life (hello new awesome job and new awesome child) I began loving this body.  It’s not perfect… but then no one has a “perfect” body. I came to terms with it, and decided to work with it. And I also changed my voice on this blog – women don’t need another person telling them what they’re doing wrong, we need voices to give us food for thought and tips on how to feel comfortable, feel ourselves, and recognize our beauty.


I still have strong opinions on fashion and style, but now when I write I don’t just think about me and my little patch of Earth, but I try to make it more universal, more accepting. And Thursday night I learned that through her ten years on What Not to Wear, Stacy London has had the same experience. Dealing with real women has made her more sympathetic, sensitive, and understanding to others and also to herself. And her book The Truth About Style is about just that. This book won’t give you a list of ten must-have items in your closet, or tell you how to hide your hips or tummy. It won’t tell you what color to wear if you’re a brunette or redhead, and it won’t inform you of what items should be purged from your closet. But it will help you realize how fellow women have learned to find personal style… and may help you find yours along the way.


At the event with friends and fellow bloggers Nancye, Heidi, Alison, Chelsea, and Dana

And if Stacy London’s book tour is coming to a city near you, I encourage you to get a ticket to attend. She is funny, she is raw, she is honest, and she is inspiring. And she may just renew your faith in fashion, style, and yourself.

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Stacy London and the Westfield Style Tour Come to Maryland

It’s official, I have drank the Stacy London Kool-Aid, and I have to say it’s pretty delicious.

I have been a fan of TLC’s show, What Not to Wear for many years. Unlike many makeover shows, What Not to Wear keeps it real, helping real women with real lives learn how to dress their bodies. Stacy London and Clinton Kelly focus on flattering the figure a woman has, instead of worrying about the latest trends. London doesn’t mince words on the show, though she provides real-life advice on how to dress one’s body as well as one’s lifestyle.

Along with offering advice on What Not to Wear, London and Cindy McLaughlin co-created Style for Hire, an online agency that matches women with trained stylists in their area. Style for Hire began in the DC area and is now available nationwide for consultations, closet audits, personal shopping sessions, and more.

This past weekend (as well as this coming weekend), Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, Maryland is hosting the Westfield Style Tour. The Westfield Style Tour offers free beauty makeovers, free professional fashion consultations with Style for Hire stylists.  They created a pop-up in Center Court with mannequins showcasing spring fashions, racks of clothing and shoes from mall shops for five-minute fashion consultations, and stylists and makeup artists to provide on-the-spot makeovers.  This past weekend, they also offered an opportunity to meet and get your photo taken with London, who is also the Creative Director for Westfield Style.  

London and her Style for Hire stylists focus on geometry – the shape of your body and the shape of garments, coming up with the perfect flattering equation. They work with you to help shopping be enjoyable, and successful. They begin with a five-minute consultation, will take their clients to the mall to learn how to shop for their bodies, and help them find easy basics from which to grow their wardrobe. Seeing and hearing Stacy London discuss Style for Hire was awesome – I had heard of the program (and know a few talented folks who are part of it), but after hearing her passionately preach the benefits, I knew it was a program worth the money to consider.

I always wonder how a slim woman from the fashion industry like London came to be a woman who really “gets” the issues many find with dressing their bodies. From London’s Wikipedia page I found this quote from her:

“I have been every size in my life. I’ve been smaller than a zero, up through a size 16. I’ve had lots of issues with body image and weight my whole life and it really took a great deal of work to recognize that at all those weights, no matter how I felt, I could still find a dress that made me feel sexy and powerful.”

I was lucky to have an opportunity to interview Stacy London before the Westfield Style Tour, and asked her many of the questions that you readers regularly come to me to answer. Why not get a second opinion from an expert?

And this is where the Kool-Aid was gulped happily. Stacy was so gracious and personable, yet just as intense as you would expect. She looked me in the eye the entire time, and you could feel the passion she has for the subject of style for all women. I wanted to head to a bar with her, buy her a glass of wine, and blather on about hemlines and wrap dresses until last call. I wanted to share my experiences of being so many different sizes, that I too channeled Robert Smith in my high school sartorial choices, and where she got her amazing peeptoe booties.

And now onto your burning questions!

How to Dress a Postpartum Body – Stacy London suggests creating a waist where there isn’t one. While an empire waist can hide a soft tummy, creating one just above the belly and lower than an empire waist is more flattering and will look less like maternity clothes. She, like I, believes in the power of a wrap dress, and recommended that a woman NOT hide under fabric – the more you’re wearing, the bigger you look.

How to Dress when Losing Weight – London says it takes time to lose the weight, and you have to put a similar investment and effort into your wardrobe. It’s important to keep up your wardrobe with your body changes, and purchasing transition pieces are worth the investment.

Best Mall Shops for Women who are Petite and Curvy – London recommends Ann Taylor, LOFT, Banana Republic, and NY & Company for petite women who have curves or aren’t a size 2. She believes these brands have pant silhouettes and styles that flatter curvy frames, even if those curves are on a woman below 5’5” She also feels that J. Crew “does everything right.”

Best Mall Shop for Tall Women – Stacy London says NY & Company has a very generous seam allowance in their pants, so if their pant lengths aren’t long enough it’s easy to have a tailor or seamstress let out the pants to the perfect length.

If you are in the DC area, I encourage you to check out the Westfield Style Tour at Montgomery Mall. For those in other parts of the US, check with your local Westfield mall to see if Stacy London and her team of Style for Hire stylists will be visiting. And if you’re looking for some personalized help on how to shop and dress your figure, check out Style for Hire. Like me, you may find yourself guzzling the Stacy London Kool-Aid and loving it!

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My Favorite Simple Style Tips

Over the years I have learned a few things from trial and error, many from fellow bloggers, and a heck of a lot from you readers. A few style-based lessons I have learned that have improved my life that I thought may also help you:

Apply Dry Shampoo Before Bedtime. Colored dry shampoo can drip and gets on my hands if I forget and scratch my head and “invisible” dry shampoo makes my brown hair look ashy. One of you readers suggested I try applying dry shampoo before bedtime and let it work its way into my roots while I sleep. Brilliant! I prefer Klorane Dry Shampoo because it has a soft mist and subtle smell, but this also works with cheaper brands like Salon Grafix and Suave. I apply, I don’t really rub in so I go to bed looking as though I have gray roots. However when I wake… awesomeness. Enough time for it to really work in, not leave an ashy look, it’s not as sticky/dry feeling and gives that dry/full look I desire.

Buy Leather a Size Too Small. Leather stretches. Even lined leather stretches. My lined pleated leather skirt I almost returned because I bought a 10 and it was skin tight and I couldn’t fully zip it. So a couple days after work, I came home and changed into it. Made dinner, watched TV, and stretched it out enough to zip. Three nights and the skirt was ready to wear to work. Since then, the skirt has grown even more to where it sort of sits on my hips. Same holds true for leather pants – all my size 10 leather pants (that I shall wear again!) are actually 6 and 8 because they stretch and I broke them in with this method.

Buy Boots a Half Size Too Big. A little more room in the boot means you can wear thick cozy socks without an issue. Come winter, I often wear a pair of knee-high socks and then a pair of thick snuggly anklets over them so I have warm tootsies; the extra space gives my feet plenty of room to wiggle with all the layers.

When Line Drying Pants, Hang Upside Down. Fold the legs seam to seam and hang them in this manner, use those hangers with clips, and the waistband won’t stretch out and you end up with a nice clean crease down each leg.

Store Costume Jewelry in Plastic Bags. Fake gold and silver tarnish easily, and don’t shine back up like the real thing. If you store in Ziploc baggies (or save the plastic bags from purchases and shipments) you can see what you have and also make it look nicer longer. This especially holds true for rhinestones, which can dull over time. So you don’t have a pin-worthy jewelry collection, but at least your collection will last more than one season!

Polish Silver Jewelry with Toothpaste. Works so well, gets the job done fast, and you don’t have to dig around under your kitchen sink for the solution or in your junk drawer for the polishing cloth. Paste, not gel. Rub with your fingers, rinse off, dry with a towel or soft cloth.

Get Out Any Stain with Peroxide and Dawn. Here’s the recipe, and yes, it works like a charm on most any fabric, stains old and new.

Wash Your Makeup Brushes Regularly. When is the last time you washed your makeup brushes? I wash mine once a month with baby shampoo, swirl them on the bottom of the sink to get out the suds, and let dry on their side with the brushes hanging over the edge of the counter or back of toilet so they get good air flow. Try to not get the metal part of the brush (where the bristles are attached) wet, but wash regularly for better pigment, more even application, and fewer breakouts.

Coconut Oil is Awesome. I get allergic reactions to metal from time to time, usually on the back of my neck or on my fingers. This especially happens on my hands, and I’ll end up with raw, red, flaky and burning skin. I have tried cortisone, prescription creams, and the only thing that has really worked is coconut oil. Take off my wedding bands, apply some coconut oil, go to bed and wake up with happy skin. I also use it on my hands and elbows as an intense moisturizer, as well as a hair conditioning treatment. My friend also told me it cleared up her Keratosis Pilaris (those little bumps on the back of upper arms). We use coconut oil in place of butter and most oils at home, so it’s easy to stop in the kitchen and scoop some out for beauty use. Google or Pinterest search coconut oil and you will be amazed by all its health, beauty, pet and home benefits!

Don’t Fold Your Bras. It’s so tempting to fold your bras, especially if they have molded cups, but this stretches them out and changes their shape. Lay them flat in your drawer and they will maintain their shape longer and be less likely to have the wires poke out of the fabric.

Stitch Witchery. It’s the bomb. Tear off a strip, stick it in a fallen hem, can even make it work with your hair iron. Good stuff.

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Mastering the Poncho Trend for Fall

I just got back from a trip to Europe and ponchos were EVERYWHERE! I never really liked the look before, but this time around I’m actually thinking about getting one. Can you recommend a few styles that might work for more than one season? How do I style it other than over skinny jeans? Which styles of ponchos/capes are most flattering for different body types? Or maybe I’m totally bonkers thinking I should wrap myself in a blanket while I’m not sitting on the couch…! Anyways, would be curious to hear your thoughts!

how to style a poncho fashion tipsYou’re not bonkers! I fell in love with ponchos and capes last year (see me wearing one here and a poncho-esque sweater here) and my love affair has continued into 2015. What’s great is the poncho trend has only improved with more variety in cut, fabric, and pattern. I’m going to discuss some of the most popular poncho trends and how to style them and which ones will work best with your figure.

How to Style Solid-piece Knit Ponchos

These are by far the most popular, and most versatile versions of this season’s poncho trend. A solid piece cut in a square or oblong, there’s a hole or slit for your head and the garment drapes over another top. Last year I purchased a navy cashmere poncho in this style and found it perfect for crisp fall days and spring weeks where there was still a bit of a nip in the air. They’re a bit tough to wear under heavier outerwear, but I’ve been known to hike it up at the neck and wear like a pashmina until I get indoors. Such ponchos also make for a great “office cardigan”; that piece you leave at the office and throw on when the A/C is blasting or the heat isn’t strong enough.

While such cuts of ponchos come in a great variety of fabrics, those made of knits that can drape nicely are best. Not matter your body type, a knit poncho will be more flattering if it doesn’t tent out from your shoulders or bust, and if it falls below your waistband.

poncho styling tips for fall by wardrobe oxygenShop Similar Looks:
eggplant poncho | boyfriend jeans | striped tee | watch | black bag | oxfords
striped poncho | ponte pants | turtleneck | pendant | cuff | fringe bag | booties

The most popular of this type of poncho is one in a sweater knit, like my cashmere poncho. These can be of most any fabric and most any weight. I’ve found the heavier the knit, the longer the poncho so it doesn’t add bulk and has a better drape.  A poncho in a cotton knit, merino wool, or cashmere will have nice drape while still adding warmth when layered over other tops.  The left look is a great casual or weekend way to wear a poncho.  While this look would work great with skinny jeans and boots, switch up the silhouette with boyfriend jeans and an ankle bootie.  A solid poncho pairs great with prints; a classic Breton tee peeks out from underneath and leopard print brogues add interest.  A poncho adds weight on the top of the body; if you need a bigger bag look for one with a long shoulder or crossbody strap to better distribute the bulk.  For the right look, this shows how a printed poncho can look quite chic.  With a trim black turtleneck (can be easily switched for a crewneck), ponte pants, and sleek heeled booties, this poncho look could work for the office or dinner.  A gold pendant and cuff add shine while also weighing down the poncho to better show your shape; a bag with texture or a contrast color will add the necessary pop to the clean look.

how to style ponchos for warmer weather
Shop Similar Looks:
gray poncho | gray tank | off-white jeans | crystal pendant | gray crossbody | gray ankle boots
black poncho | black camisole | black jeans | silver hoops | black fringe clutch | black pumps

In the two sample outfits above I’ve style ponchos that could be worn in warmer weather. The left style is a great way to incorporate a funky open work poncho you may have picked up on your travels or crocheted yourself. While I styled it with straight jeans, it could also work with other cuts of jeans (flare, boyfriend, skinny) but would also work great over a jersey maxi skirt or maxi dress that skims the curves and doesn’t have much volume. Such a lightweight poncho can also work with cropped pants of a lightweight fabric like linen. The right poncho is one that is often found at department stores, and quite popular with plus size retailers. This is the type of poncho that can quickly veer into Golden Girls territory. When choosing ponchos of chiffon or with sheer panels, think simple and modern. I specifically went with a monochromatic look which instantly makes it look modern. I added modern touches; glazed or leather jeans or leggings will make the choice of chiffon purposeful without looking Vegas. With so much detail in the outfit, keep the accessories to a minimum; earrings OR a bracelet. A clutch or slim handbag with chain strap will prevent too much volume on the top part of the body. While Dorothy Zbornak was a fabulous character in the ‘80s, she shouldn’t be your style icon in 2015.

How to Style Ruanas

A ruana is like a poncho as that it is made of a single piece of fabric with a hole for the head; the difference is that there is a slit down the front from neck to hem.  They are sometimes marketed as ponchos, blanket ponchos, or even kimonos.  I like ruanas because they’re easier to get on and off, and you can switch up their look by belting them.  Also with the slit in the front, prints are easier to carry off because there’s a break in the pattern.  Longer ruanas (hip length or longer) are less likely to slide off your shoulders or slip back; like ponchos the heavier the weight the longer the ruana should be to get better drape.

how to wear a ruana or poncho for the office by wardrobe oxygenShop Similar Looks:
colorblock ruana | sweater dress | bag | pendant | cuff | tights | over the knee boots
blue ruana | trousers | blouse | bracelet | bag | pumps

While a ruana can be styled just like a poncho and looks great with a knit top and jeans for the weekend, it’s a style that can also work for the office.  The left look is a way you can wear a ruana with a dress; having the dress short will keep the look from being frumpy.  Keep the look modern with over the knee boots with a slim heel and on-trend jewelry.  For the right look, you can see how a ruana can replace a cardigan for a cozy outfit that still looks right for the workplace.  Balance the weight and casual feel of the ruana with a silky blouse and nicely tailored trousers.  A heel and structured bag with polish will add that necessary touch of professionalism.

Ponchos and ruanas are on trend, and I doubt they will be out of style this time next year.  They’re a trend that is available in any size and pricepoint.  Once you own one and start playing in your wardrobe, you’ll see they’re quite versatile and go with much more than skinny jeans.

Shop Ponchos and Ruanas:

On Style

While this blog is marketed as a fashion blog, when discussing Wardrobe Oxygen to others I usually explain it’s more of a personal style blog. Wardrobe Oxygen isn’t a place to find the designer look for less, to learn about the must-have trends for the season, or to ogle the closets of celebrities and socialites. Since the beginning, Wardrobe Oxygen attempts to simplify getting dressed for women, provide real-life advice on what to wear, and to help women find their personal style.

Style isn’t having a closet full of beautiful clothing. It’s not about knowing what length to hem your pants when wearing a kitten heel, or having the skill to mix black and navy or stripes with florals. Style is personal. Style is an extension of you.

gore vidal quote style is knowing who you are what you want to say and not giving a damn

Style goes beyond the clothes you put on your body. Style is how you carry yourself, how you interact with the world, and the relationship you have with yourself. Style is trusting your gut, listening to your inner voice, and supporting it even if it bucks the norm.

Style isn’t fitting in, style is finding yourself.

Finding your personal style takes time, and it takes more than a weekend closet cleanout. It’s really getting to know who you are as a person and falling in love with yourself. Embracing your body, befriending your personality, laughing with your sense of humor, and defending your passions. This is harder than it seems, as we have been pressured by the media and our peers to try to achieve some common goal of beauty, of fashion, of life. Scrolling through social media or a copy of Vogue or even More can cause us to question who we are and the choices we make. Style is allowing those questions, but remembering that the answer is completely unique to each of us.

lauren hutton quote fashion is what youre offered four times a year by designers and style is what you choose

Sometimes my columnists and I stray from writing about clothing and beauty and discuss personal issues, but this isn’t straying from the topic of personal style. The two are one and the same. It’s important to understand that clothing isn’t the solution. Knowing, accepting, and loving yourself is the style solution.

Removing the you from your wardrobe is removing the style.

edna woolman chase quote fashion can be bought style one must possess

Whether we like it or not, clothing won’t solve our problems. A pretty dress won’t fix your life, and shopping to change who you are is just throwing money away. Sometimes the most stylish thing you can buy is a session with a therapist, a weekend getaway, or a great book and some bath oils. The stylish folk don’t necessarily have a large closet, a covetable bag, or a perfect face of makeup. They have confidence, they feel at home in their skin, they wear clothing and never let it wear them.

oscar de la renta quote Fashion is about dressing according to what's fashionable

You’re good enough, RIGHT NOW. You’re worthy, and you’re beautiful. Seriously, you are and the one who is holding you back from seeing that is you. A new dress, a haircut, a makeover as a cosmetics counter can help you see yourself better, but it won’t change who you are. You need to do the work, but in the end you’ll have peace of mind as well as personal style.

True Fashionista: Judith

When I think of a True Fashionista, one of the first women who comes to mind is Judith of the blog Style Crone. I have enjoyed her blog and amazing personal style for years and was thrilled when I saw her featured in Ari Seth Cohen’s blog and book Advanced Style. I was so honored that she agreed to be part of this series.

Style Crone, as stated on her About page, is “Dedicated to the older woman, in her most creative, outrageous, authentic, powerful, adventurous, funny, and proud era. Let’s take back the word crone, to its original meaning, signifying a woman of a “certain age’ who embodies all her life’s wisdom, knowledge, experience, and love.” Judith’s personal style is so quirky, colorful, sophisticated, and completely unique. She inspires me to give clothing an atypical new life, to embrace color, and make me crave a fabulous hat collection.

I remember when I found Judith’s blog, it was one of her “What to Wear to Chemo” posts where her husband Nelson took her picture while undergoing chemotherapy. I remember reading it and tearing up at my desk, recalling a decade prior when I was in a similar situation keeping Karl company while he underwent the same. Cheerful, positive, and comfortable for long spans of time is a big expectation for an ensemble, but it was a good way to get my mind off things. I could see Judith doing the same with her outfits.  Sadly, Nelson lost the battle with cancer; Judith chose pictures for this feature that Nelson photographed, as he was supportive and instrumental in the launching of Style Crone.

Though Nelson passed in April of 2011, Judith continued with Style Crone, showcasing her amazing ensembles, where she wore them, and why. She journals her life through her ensembles, showing that clothing isn’t simply something that you wear, but a way to express your feelings, your life, and your personality.  Here’s Judith’s take on the same five questions I ask of each True Fashionista.

How would you describe your personal style?
I’m a lover of hats, vintage clothing and other recycled pieces. I mix it all together according to how I feel, usually starting with a hat. Over the years I have gathered a vintage and hat collection which I draw from and at this point, as I wildly flirt with 70, I find myself shopping my closet and having more fun with style than ever before. I suppose this could be called eclectic, but I don’t really have a label for what I put together. Perhaps quirky?

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
I would say that my passion evolved. I remember enjoying style at an early age, but it escalated during the 70’s around the time that a friend owned a vintage store and I began wearing hats for fun and self entertainment. I also discovered estate sales, vintage stores, thrift shops and consignment stores around that same time. I loved finding pieces that weren’t found in the usual places.

Along with a friend I created a hat shop in the 80’s, but continued working as a psych nurse as the business grew. The experience was radically different than working in health care. Choosing outfits, which always included a hat was a way to express myself creatively and became a form of meditation as I approached my day, which usually included extreme and painful stories told by interesting and traumatized people. I find style to be healing and a form of art and self expression.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
Inspiration is everywhere. The radiantly beautiful diversity of the world’s people, nature, other blogs that I love and the internet in general, personal experiences, movies, books, music, history, museums, travel, food, art. Everything about life and the list is endless! Having a space of time to quiet the mind also expands creativity.

What is the difference between fashion and style?
So many people have defined this difference with eloquence. For me fashion is in the clothes at a certain point in time and includes trends. Style is in the wearer and includes timeless self expression and creativity. Style is a celebration of life and the manifestation of the inner experience projected outward.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
Be open to experimentation, inspiration and the silhouettes that make you feel good about yourself and bring you a sense of confidence. Consider it a journey and have fun with it! Style is a reflection of your inner self and can change over time with life experiences and shifts in perceptions and passions. Stretch and expand and do something that makes you feel just a little bit afraid. Try on a new persona like trying on a new pair of shoes. Changing an outfit is under our control, as opposed to the many things that we have no power to modify or alter. Thrift shops and consignment stores are great places to explore when searching for personal self expression. The financial output is small and it’s environmentally friendly. 

Fashion Undressed: Executive Style

alison santighian for wardrobe oxygen

I never consider my age in my wardrobe. I sit squarely in the “if you love it, work it” camp. For heaven’s sake, I own and wear a peach crop top with a crocheted elephant. Heck, I never consider my age in anything. I have to pause when I’m in conversation and make a Seinfeld or Friends reference, and I get a blank stare, and then realize the person across from me isn’t old enough to have watched those shows religiously. My age just isn’t part of how I choose to dress, whether for weekends or for work. I’ve been fortunate to work in roles that, while certainly not in the “creative-wear-what-you-feel” realm, and are even in the conservative camp (my last company was an accounting firm), I can push the envelope. I have no issue being the one in the lava colored “powerpants.” Ever.

I thought carefully when I picked out the clothes I wore last Friday, and the ones I put on this Friday. I thought twice when I tried on a dress I ordered so I’d have an easy, professional go-to in my closet, and it was just a bit shorter than I like to wear in the office. I checked the mirror again when I put on a dress that should be a reliable knock-’em-dead standby, but it hugged my body with at least five pounds more force than it did a year ago.


I considered a lot when I went to buy a few new pieces for my closet because I have a new role in my career. Because I love clothing and fashion, choosing them should have been a small joy. Clicking through the spring sales should have been a celebration of my professional accomplishments. Normally, it all would be.

Over the last month my clothing choices felt weightier. Though I’ve been in similar positions for the better part of 10 years, this new one is unabashedly, formally executive. That label seems to have effected me sartorially, and I’m off kilter. As I get dressed each day, I’ve noticed I shy away from things I used to wear easily: a sheer top I’d wear with a camisole and balance with conservative trousers, a dress I bought (and love) that’s about half an inch shorter than I’d like, or stepping into higher heels with a skirt for fear the hoochy factor would go too high.

That last one, especially? It blew my mind.

I have absolutely no issue with using what I’ve got at my disposal. I’m a tall, well-proportioned, and fit woman with an unusual haircolor and strong, shapely legs. I know my appearance can be powerful. If I have a major meeting or presentation, I turn to my snakeskin and vibrantly colored sheath dresses. I put on my Stuart Weitzman pumps. I add rhinestones to my ears and wrists. I put nothing on to distract, mind you, but I know what works.

So why am I hesitant, all of a sudden, to use the tools and armor on which I’ve relied for years, and, quite frankly, push women around me (of course you can pull off the print mixing and the unusual heels or the blouse with the progressive cut, go for it!) – all because of a formal role shift? I’ve been mulling over the phenomenon probably way more than it warrants. It’s stuck in my craw, so I’m going to wonder out loud.

Putting this out into cyberspace is scary. I’ve known many of my colleagues for years, but some don’t know me at all. That fear aside, I suspect there are other women out there wondering and thinking the same things, so here we go.

So far, the most significant reason I can find for my hesitancy is that I don’t quite believe that I’m an executive, and part of a team making decisions for the strategic direction of a company.

There. I said it. I can’t imagine I’m not the only woman to share this insecurity out loud. Sure, maybe there are men out there with doubts; those doubts show up differently for them, I’d think. For me, it’s showing up most clearly in my clothing choices. I’m hesitant to wear the strong things I wore not 2 months ago because I don’t trust my own abilities.

Daily, I remind myself to not couch my opinions with conditional phrases. Daily, I bite my own tongue to cut off the modifiers to hedge my statements and proposals, both virtually and literally, so I do say I mean. Daily, I push forward in areas new to me, just beyond my comfortable expertise, and hope that no one sees through me. Daily, I stop and think twice before I ask a question, for fear someone will interpret that question to mean that I don’t know my job.

As an accomplished 41 year old, it seems incongruous to me that I feel this tentative. I feel silly worrying about my clothes. I’m ashamed that I don’t believe outright in my abilities and capabilities. If they even notice it, those around me don’t see my clothing other than as acceptable. Rather they see me as able, capable, and strong.

I wish I could say writing this, getting it off my chest, is helping me work through it. I hope it will. At the moment, though, I’m still feeling tentative and wary. So I’ll just bundle it up and use it. I’ll coach myself through those timid moments. I’ll put on my Big Girl Panties, hike them up high, and march forward. I’ll remind myself that I can use clothing as armor, as strength, and if I need it, it’s there. But more than any of it, and pardon the Stuart Smalley moment, but I’m strong, I’m able, and I kick ass. And gosh darn it, people know that.

I put clothes on daily, and I love the challenges I’m conquering in my role. Each moment holds some confidence and a dash of fear. I’ve decided that’s the way I want it right now. I don’t have the answer as to how to feel as strong and capable as others see me and as I know I am, nor do I know what any of this means for my closet, if anything. I’m going to keep thinking and writing about it over on my site under the tag “Executive Style.” If you’d like to join the conversation, I’d love to have you.

Alison SantighianBy day, Alison Santighian is a contractor for the federal government, using her super powers to serve our country, but by night (after bedtime for her “Beans” now 7 and almost 5), she pines after the “it” factor. Alison and “H” (better known as #besthusbandever) don’t believe badass has an expiration date, so they hit concerts, shows, restaurants, and openings across the globe. Alison also writes for Glass Magazine, adding a business woman’s eye to fashion week reviews and style features. Follow her on Twitter.

How to Have Style

I would like to thank Polly from my French Chic group for bringing my attention to this article from I think this is an amazing article that really defines style and how it is different from fashion and not a superficial, stupid characteristic to possess. Many times I feel I have to apologize for having a blog about style, thinking people find me to be materialistic and silly to care so much about such a subject. But style is not stupid, materialistic, or silly and Hara Estroff Marano defines style quite perfectly in this article. Enjoy!

How to Have Style
Unlike fashion, a sense of style comes from within.
By: Hara Estroff Marano

It’s clear to me from the many people I talk to that there is a great misunderstanding about style. Style is not a price. It is not an age. It is not a size. And it can be learned.

Style is one part self-knowledge and one part self-confidence. In other words, it’s an attitude. It is a life-affirming expression of your character and spirit, a conviction that you are worth knowing, worth looking at and can present yourself well. It is knowing your strengths and weaknesses so that you can accentuate your strengths, not hide real or imagined shortcomings. Feeling good about yourself is a sine qua non of looking good.

There is one more element of style, and that is clothes, but style should never be confused with fashion. Fashion is synonymous with clothes, but style is merely expressed through clothes. Fashion is IN the clothes. Style is IN the wearer.

Style is nothing if not a celebration of individuality, of individual variability. It glorifies the fact that we are all different. It exposes as preposterous the notion that there is an ideal body, an ideal woman—that there is only one perfect way to look, that any one way is perfect for all
women. Style always delights because it is a revelation that the possibilities for originality are limitless.

Style rejects ideals. It goes its own way. In fact, style is nothing if not a triumph of the fresh and unusual.

Style is democratic. It assumes that every woman has the potential to create an identity that’s unique, and to express it through how she carries herself, how she grooms herself, what she puts on.

Yet style is aristocratic. It sets apart those who have it from those whose dress is merely functional, utilitarian. It announces to the world that the wearer has a sense of herself and has assumed command of herself.

Style is intelligent, because it requires self-knowledge. Style hugs the self closely, even though it never represents the whole self at one time. The self is too complex to be represented by any one way of dressing.

Style is optimistic. It is optimism made visible. Style presumes that you are a person of interest, that the world is a place of interest, that life is worth making the effort for.

There is no style without taking risk, without exploring new sides of the self, without saving what works and discarding the errors. Style, then, is a springboard for personal growth.

There are those who criticize style for its trendiness and materialistic consumption. But they are confusing style with fashion. Fashion is preoccupied with change merely for change’s sake, to stoke consumer purchases.

Style is in fact a way of avoiding the clutter of stuff. It is a way of sorting through the crowded marketplaces, a way of selecting, making choices influenced not so much by pressures such as advertising but by internal considerations. This kind of style no more requires change from season to season that does your character. But neither is it completely static. Ideally it should evolve over time, as character does.

Style is really self-knowledge applied selectively—selectivity is its essence—to the material world.

for Success, 20 November 2003
Last Reviewed 29 Mar 2006
Article ID: 3123

Style with Substance: Karen Kane

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

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

karen kane history

A little Karen Kane history, learn more at this link

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

karen kane blog love

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

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

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

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

Guest Post: Which Necklace with Which Neckline?

Guest post by Rosana Vollmerhausen

I gave a talk recently about necklaces and necklines. It’s a typical question we get here at DC Style Factory: Go long? Go choker? Go statement?

The easiest necklaces to wear with just about any neckline is a longer one. The length of the necklace clears any v, scoop, drape or boat neckline. Whether you decide to go longer or shorter, you don’t want your necklace bumping up against your neckline. So either select one that is about an ½ an inch to an inch above your neckline or one that drops under your neckline at least several inches.

Longer necklaces, much like v-neck tops, lengthen your neckline, which in general is more flattering. Chokers shorten your neckline, which sometimes can sometimes be a more challenging style to wear. If you are petite, pay attention to how long the long necklace goes. Right below the bustline is good – grazing your bellybutton is too long.

Here is quick, easy guide for selecting which necklaces go best with which neckline.

V-neck Top

Wear with:

what necklace v-neck top

Smaller drop/pendant necklace that flows into v of the top

what necklace v-neck top

Longer non-pendant necklace that clears the v of the top and flows with the draping.

Pass on: Wearing with a choker, which shortens your neckline and counteracts to the lengthening effect of the v shape.


Wear with:

what necklace scoop neck top

A statement necklace that mimics the curved shape of the neckline covers expose neck/chest surface area.

Pass on: A choker that will leave too much empty surface area and not cover enough neck/chest area.

Boatneck Top

Wear with:

what necklace boatneck top

what necklace boatneck top

A longer necklace, which draws attention up and down, and balances the high, horizontal neckline.

Pass on: A choker/collar necklace that will bump up against with the neckline.  A statement necklace higher up on the neck that will grab and pull at the horizontal neckline.

Collared Button-down Shirt

Wear with:

what necklace button collared shirt

A statement necklace under the collar for a “brooch” effect.

what necklace button collared shirt

A statement under the shirt with some color peeking out.

Pass on: A long necklace that will compete with the vertical button placket on the shirt.


Wear with:

what necklace crewneck shirt

A longer necklace that lengthens your neckline since the high neckline of the crewneck top shortens it.

what necklace crewneck shirt

A statement necklace that “creates” a new, longer neckline. Select a statement necklace that covers the top of the crewneck.

Pass on: A collar necklace; it just further shortens your neckline.


Wear with…

what necklace strapless

A shorter statement necklace that leaves about 1/2 an inch of space between the necklace and the neckline, a longer necklace that clears the neckline, or the two together as pictured!

what necklace strapless

Another fun option is to wear with a collar necklace.

There are a multitude of other necklines and variations on necklines, but just remember, you simply want the necklace you choose to make sense with the neckline of the top. If you are fussing with it too much or it just doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t. But selecting the right necklace can really make a difference in adding polish, personality and finish to your look. Happy accessorizing!

DC Style Factory is a personal styling and shopping business based in the Washington, D.C. area. The company creed is that style is for anyone who wants it – regardless of size, age or budget. Clients include high-profile experts in the public eye who need polish for television appearances and stay-at-home moms juggling carpool. Our job is to prepare them to look and feel good for different events in their lives no matter how big or small.

Stylist and owner, Rosana Vollmerhausen, has had more than a decade of fashion retail and styling experience, including owning, running and buying for an award-winning boutique in Washington,D.C. She has styled local fashion events and photo shoots, and has written expert fashion tips for local publications. Her true passion, though, is one-on-one work with clients, building wardrobes that make sense for where they are in their lives. As a wife and mother of three, she is a firm believer that you don’t have to sacrifice personal style because life is busy. If key wardrobe pieces make sense for who and where you are, personal style can be accessible to anyone who wants it.

Learn more about Rosana and DC Style Factory at or on the blog at

Ask Allie: Career Wear on a Budget

I am a young professional without a “mentor” or any experience in the professional world other than the two years at my current job. I am getting a new boss in January and she is beautiful, powerful, and extremely sharp. I am the girl with the hot pink iPhone case, the ubiquitous plastic venti coffee cup, wearing Teva sandals with my work outfits, trying to pass black jeans as “dress pants,” and still wearing the same bangle bracelets that I had in high school. I desperately need an upgrade in… everything… but I’m broke.

Are there any suggestions that you can make about taking my college student wardrobe and upping my game while still being able to feed my family?

You are not alone. It’s hard to be new and rise the corporate ladder without going into debt. You come into the workforce already with student loans and then have to shell out a lot just to look as though you want the job you fought hard to get. Jobs are hard to get, so you want to show that you care and have the drive but you don’t have the money to build a professional wardrobe from scratch. A few tips:

Thrift It. I know from your email that you’re already hitting Goodwill, but it can be frustrating to weed though racks and racks of faded knit tees in hopes of finding one decent pencil skirt or blazer. Make it a weekly date – find out when they stock the floors and visit that day. Befriend the folks working there – it may just get you a new friend, or it may get you friends who will see pieces and hold them for you or give you a heads up when they are stocking the floor.

While there, consider going up a size or two. A thrifted pair of pants can easily be altered by the nearby dry cleaner, and the price for both is still going to be cheaper than a new pair of pants on the sale rack.

Join Freecycle. My local Freecycle often has people giving away large bags of clothing in a certain size. People who have lost or gained weight, passed away, retired. While a good portion of the bag’s contents may be wrong for you, you could end up with a real gem in the process. And that which doesn’t work, re-Freecycle or donate. Once you have established yourself on your local Freecycle as a person who gives as well as takes (great way to clean out the house of old toys, knick knacks, and that dusty treadmill in your basement), you can request certain things. I did this once and was amazed with the generous people who replied with items or suggestions on how to get what I needed for less or free.

Find Local Swaps and Consignments. Twice a year, my community has a swap where people bring old baby clothing and equipment and trade for that which they need. It has grown to where this swap often has adult clothing. Local fashion blogging communities will often host or know of swaps where for a small price or a bag of clothes to donate, you can attend and pick up some amazing scores. Consignment sales are another place to find thrift-store priced clothing but a more carefully curated collection. At such events, you can also network with other frugal shoppers.

Nothing in your community? Set one up! It can be anything from a happy hour at your home with a few friends and neighbors, or you can set something up at a local community center.

A sample capsule wardrobe of simple pieces: how you can create over 20 different business casual outfits from just eight pieces of clothing.  Every outfit works with black pumps or flats.

Buy Simple. Simple blue oxford, gray pencil skirt, black blazer, plum cardigan, black pants… pieces like these can be mixed and matched a hundred ways to create completely different ensembles. Don’t buy difficult silhouettes that only go with one piece – create a bit of a uniform with few silhouettes so they are more versatile and less memorable.

Prints and bold colors are memorable; stick to neutrals and soft hues until you can afford a larger wardrobe.

Make a Priority List. What holes are in your wardrobe? Focus on those first. Don’t worry that this season is about oxblood or that a pair of leopard shoes would update your look. Get those basics you need to not be naked or in inappropriate fashion at the office. While I usually encourage buying accessories to switch up basics, at this point I’d say save your money. It’s better to go without any accessories at all than to try to make do with cheap pieces or spend your budget on a bracelet.

Unless you find one for an incredible price and it’s gorgeous, focus more on separates than dresses. Separates can mix and match for more outfits, and can better be tailored to fit (or made to look tailored with belts, Stitch Witchery, and strategically placed safety pins).

When you buy, stop and think what in your wardrobe can it work with. If you can’t imagine three outfits, don’t buy it. Even if it’s only $3 or only $5, that’s $3 or $5 you could save for the right wardrobe addition.

Know No One is Keeping Track. It’s okay to wear the same black pants two or three times in a week as long as they are clean. It’s okay to wear the same shoes every day until you can afford more. You can even carry off the same shirt multiple times in one week – one day on its own tucked in to a skirt, another day untucked under a sweater with pants. As long as the pieces are clean, in good condition, and properly pressed no one is going to care. The effect is far more important than the individual pieces.

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What I Wore: Weekend Style

Wardrobe Oxygen featuring a Foxcroft plaid shirt, Bernardo vest, and Adora Bags leather tote Wardrobe Oxygen featuring a Foxcroft plaid shirt, Bernardo vest, and Adora Bags leather tote Wardrobe Oxygen featuring a Foxcroft plaid shirt, Bernardo vest, and Adora Bags leather toteShirt: c/o Foxcroft (14)  (plus version) | Jeans: NYDJ (14 P) | Vest: Bernardo (L) (this year’s version, plus size) | Boots: Fitzwell Wide Calf (similar) | Bag: c/o Adora Bags | Bracelet: Had forever (similar) | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

Welcome to my weekend!  For this sort of weather, you can usually find me in jeans, a striped tee or plaid shirt, booties or boots, and this vest.  It’s perfect for everything from being chauffeur taking Emerson to classes and birthday parties, to racing around a mall for a specific item, to visiting friends or stopping by the local pub for a drink with my sister.  I really like this shirt from Foxcroft; it’s not flannel but cotton for nicer drape and a better fabric to layer with or tuck in (this shirt with its fine red lines through the plaid would look adorable with a red wool or black leather pencil skirt for the holidays).  Foxcroft is my go-to for button-front shirts because I always find they accommodate my bust and arms and the quality is stellar (I have white shirts five years old I still wear regularly).

When you have wide calves, it can be really hard to find decent tall boots.  If they fit, they’re made of crappy materials or have weird details that make them look cheap or cheesy.  Or else they cost 50 kazillion dollars and have a sketchy return policy.  I regularly stalk for wide calf boots on sale and they never fail me.  I got these boots from Fitzwell… last year?  The year prior?  Anyway, I snagged them for less than $75 and they’re real leather and really comfortable.  They have a pretty extensive selection of tall boots 16″ shaft circumference and wider.  They have free shipping for orders over $50 and while you’re responsible for return shipping fees, I think it’s a fair trade for the great prices (almost always cheaper than anywhere else online).  Usually they only have 30 days for returns, but right now with the holidays, they’re having an extension through February.  Not just for wide calf boots, I’ve also gone to 6pm for sneakers for the whole family if I don’t care about getting the latest and greatest, scored Em light-up Sketchers and Karl size 14 Birkenstocks there for nice prices.  Newp, post isn’t sponsored by 6pm, this is more of a PSA!

Shop the Post:

True Fashionista: Annette

I often hear conversations in the blogosphere that one cannot be a certain age and be a personal style blogger. What does a blogger do once she hits 35? As a personal style blogger who is closer to 40 than 30, I feel it’s even more important to showcase your personal style when you’re older. Women have plenty of resources for fashion when younger, be it magazines, TV shows, and yes blogs. But blogs – quality blogs with quality photos and quality style aren’t as easy to find when you’re over 40. So when I came across Annette’s relatively new blog, Lady of Style, I cheered hooray! I have been a subscriber for a few weeks and love seeing elegant yet wearable personal style by a woman with class and taste. I find Annette stylish and inspiring and was thrilled when she agreed to be part of my True Fashionista series.

Annette’s life motto is, “Style is a reflection of your attitude and your personality.” This is clear in how her personal style fits not just her figure, but her age, her lifestyle, and her passions for travel, fashion, and home décor. Her blog, Lady of Style is geared towards the mature woman, but as you can tell by me it can be inspiring to women of all ages, especially those who are looking for style that is appropriate for the workplace. Annette works for NATO and deals with high ranking officers and civilian guests on a regular basis, but doesn’t lose her style when at the office.

“Just because you have the freedom to wear anything you want and don’t need to care what others say, you should not ignore a sense of good taste.”
                – Annette, Lady of Style


Though Annette resides in Bavaria, Germany she wears brands (H&M, Zara, MANGO) and silhouettes that are relatively easy to find in the States. She admits that she does most of her shopping online since she lives in a small town, and swears by her seamstress for custom fits. Annette’s style is classic with a touch of current trends, sophisticated yet never dowdy. She has a base of neutral and classic shades that are complemented by bright colors and more trendy of accessories.

“Attractive, mature and self-confident woman certainly don’t need to cover up or wear conservative clothes in muted colours.”
                – Annette, Lady of Style


Annette not only shares her personal style, but also discusses the topic of style for women over 40 and how style and trends don’t have to stop with a certain birth date. She proves in each post that style is achievable at any age, and that you can have fun with fashion and trends. Her pleasant demeanor is clear in each post, and her blog voice is positive and just as elegant as her personal style. I asked Annette the same five questions I ask of each True Fashionista; her answers:

How would you describe your personal style?
A feminine, elegant style which friends and fellow bloggers tend to call “sophisticated”. Dresses are my favourite type of clothes and I wear them as often as I can!  Even when I was younger (I turned 50) I was never a casual girl and over the years my style more and more evolved. When I call it “ladylike” people always associate it with a beige cashmere twinset and a pearl necklace! But that’s not me – I love combining trends, youthful elements and colours with more elegant pieces. That’s my style!

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
I grew up on the countryside with not much inspiration when it comes to fashion and trends! Yet my passion started early by reading fashion magazines and putting together my outfit for the next school day the night before. I even made little drawings of my outfits 😉 Many years I worked for an international airline, travelled a lot and always have been fascinated by what we nowadays call “street style”! I love the natural elegance of Italian or French ladies, something I often miss here in Germany.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
I follow a lot of blogs, international magazines and naturally I am addicted to Pinterest 😉 My 18yr old daughter started her blog FashionFlirt in 2011 and I was involved in getting her started. It was Alena who introduced me to the blogosphere before I started Lady of Style – a fashion and style blog for mature women – in January 2013.

We share our passion for fashion, we go on shopping trips to London together, with her I watch livestreams of fashion shows and we even share clothes and accessories!

My style icon is Olivia Palermo. Even she is a lot younger, I love her ageless style.

What is the difference between fashion and style?
I wear a lot of high street fashion, whether it is MANGO, ZARA, H+M or Wallis – that is fashion. The way I combine a new dress with the right shoes, add a vintage necklace or an old handbag from my wardrobe and people say “you look so elegant!” – that is style.

Very often my readers can’t believe that a dress I am wearing actually was on sale for 15€ at H+M. It is not about designer pieces… ok, I wouldn’t refuse a Céline bag 😉 but it is about how you put your outfit together. I am far from being perfect but for me styling is quite easy.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
Usually a woman knows the type of clothes she naturally feels comfortable with. That is a good start! It doesn’t help if you are an outdoors person and somebody tells you that you should wear a shift dress and high heels.

Go from your comfort zone and find accessories to enhance your current look. I always find
shoes most important as they can be the highlight of your outfit or completely kill it. Don’t pick accessories randomly, put some effort in creating a new look.

Go shopping with a friend and try out various themes like spring floral prints, pastel colours, try on a dress in a bright colour! Let her take photos, compare the looks and see what flatters you. If you are not sure it might take a while until you really know “that’s me and this is how I want to look!”

It is true, if you feel good, it shows.


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

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How Does One Get the Polished Look?

This, or different variations of this question show up in my keywords on my blog’s stat counter every day. It seems that most women are searching for the Holy Grail of style instead of working on those spreadsheets or proposals at work!

Looking polished… well some women are born with that skill. They are able to wear a simple tee shirt, jeans and flats and look like Audrey Hepburn. Their hair never frizzes, their lipstick never gets on their teeth, they have perfect yet natural posture, and possess effortless confidence and style.

I am not one of those people. I always spill my Starbucks latte on my sleeve while walking into work. Friends are always picking a piece of lint out of my hair or a crumb off my sweater. I wear more bruises and scratches than articles of clothing and due to my shape can quickly look dumpy or dowdy in a simple tee shirt or sweater.

The first step toward achieving a polished look is to destroy that mental picture of Grace Kelly, Jackie Onassis, Cate Blanchett and Audrey Hepburn. If you are asking how to look polished, I can bet you weren’t one of those born with their frame, their personality, their “polished” look. To attempt to force yourself into an ideal will never be successful, look authentic, or be enjoyable.

For a week, keep a style journal. Note what you wore (and what condition it was in), how you styled your face and hair and what events took place during the day. Notice how people look at you, respond to you, what comments or compliments you receive (not just on your outfit, but on your work, your talent in another aspect of your life, your health or weight). Also note how you felt when you looked in the mirror before leaving that day, and how you felt when you returned in the evening.

If you leave your house in something that you don’t love and does not love you, you will not look polished, composed or comfortable. Maybe it’s a dress that is a smidge too tight, a blouse that requires a few carefully hidden safety pins to keep your bra from public view, a sweater made from a fabric that itches and of a color you don’t really like but seems popular this season. I always say style comes from quality and not quantity; donate or re-gift those items that make you uncomfortable and save up for worthy replacements.

How does the garment wear throughout the day? Does that chic pencil skirt end up resembling your venetian blinds by noon? Are you constantly adjusting the neckline of your blouse so all your feminine bits are not on display? Did the sleeves of your sweater stretch out so much from pushing them up on your forearms that now they are saggy bells around your fingertips? Again, these items do not deserve a place in your closet. Who cares how sassy you feel at 8am if you feel like a recycled grocery bag by happy hour.

But what pieces make you walk tall and feel good? Maybe it’s that matte jersey wrap dress you found for $10 on a clearance rack at Macy’s, or a cashmere turtleneck in robin’s egg blue that you bought with your holiday bonus. Possibly it’s a frilly feminine confection that makes you feel as though you have been transported from a different time period, or a black suit that has been tailored to fit your shape like a glove. When I say “good,” I don’t mean comfortable. I don’t mean an item that reminds you of your mom because she knit it for you back in college, or because it’s of cozy fleece and hides your lumps. Women often mistake feeling good for feeling safe. Again and again we see on What Not to Wear and How Do I Look? women who cry over a pair of threadbare flannel pajama pants or a college sweatshirt with a paint splatter across the stomach. These are not clothes that make you feel beautiful, strong, confident, sexy, creative, unique, daring or feminine. These are clothes that attempt to recreate the womb or your bed. Whether we like it or not, we have to get out of bed and we have to face the world. Best to armor ourselves with the type of garments that make us feel strong and true, not passive and unimportant.

So you have gutted your closet of the ugly, the uncomfortable, the meek, the shape-shifters. What do you bring to your wardrobe to make you polished?

Keep it Simple

You never see a “polished” woman in cabbage roses, brand logos and bedazzled fabrics. The simpler your pieces, the more versatile they are, the more flattering they are, the more timeless they will be. It is tempting to buy the blouse with the kicky embroidery, but more often than not, you will tire of the pattern, the look will be out of fashion in less than three months and people will think, “oh there she is again in that embroidered shirt!” Fun and flashy pieces are added once a simple working wardrobe is created.

All About Fit

Look at the cut of garments – a polished woman is never in a muumuu or a shapeless shift dress. No matter her shape, size or age, a polished woman has accepted her frame and purchases garments that work to her advantage. An oversized sweater does not hide your stomach, if anything it draws attention to it. Whether you like it or not, everyone can tell that you have a tummy, very small breasts, large hips, short legs, back fat or heavy arms. Hiding these things under swaths of fabric tricks the eye of no one but you. Find garments that work with your lines, and if you cannot find well-fitting pieces, have them tailored. A great pair of black trousers can easily survive a decade in your closet if they flatter, fit, are made of quality fabric and are treated well.

And accept your size. I agree, it SUCKS when you are sure you are size X and you go into a store and you need to try on a size Y or even Z to get the zipper closed. This does not mean you are fat or bad or weirdly shaped. This is just proof that the sizing in stores these days is all out of whack. Once you let go of the “oh, I’m a size 6” mentality, you will have a better time shopping. If need be, cut the tags out once you purchase these garments. Heck, I have even removed the tag advertising the brand of a garment if it makes me uncomfortable (no one needs to know if your dress is from H&M, Lane Bryant, Mossimo or Prada). When you wear garments that are too big or too small, you look uncomfortable, and you never look polished.

Get Over the Name

Stylish, polished women hardly ever wear obvious brand names. So many times, a fashionista is stopped after attending a runway show or a gala and is asked who she is wearing and we find out that fabulous frock is from Club Monaco or that perfect-fitting shirt is from Gap. Walk the mall and scan the internet and catalogs looking at cut, style, fabric composition. Crap is sold at all price levels, and so is quality. Wearing an ill-fitting, and un-you dress from Stella McCartney is far worse than wearing a well-fitting simple one from Ann Taylor Loft.

Know Thyself

You got rid of the impossible dream to be Grace Kelly, now get rid of all those lists that say you need X perfect pieces to be well-dressed. I’m talking about that crisp white shirt, that trench coat, that pencil skirt, and the little black dress. Yes, these are great pieces for many women, but not all women. You’re an artist, you’re a weekend warrior, your wedding registry was at R.E.I., you have more curves than Marilyn Monroe, you live hundreds of miles from a city and heck, it never rains where you live.

Go back to your style journal. Did you feel strong in that rust-colored turtleneck with your brown tweed trousers? Did someone ask you if you lost weight, or notice your green eyes while wearing it? How about that turquoise sundress you bought on your trip to Mexico, the one that you were wearing when your husband told you that you looked beautiful and when your son’s teacher was shocked by your actual age, thinking you were a decade younger? More often than not, these pieces feel good to you AND to those around you because they express your personality best.

Personally, I love the look of a crisp white shirt tucked into a pencil skirt with some fabulous slingbacks… on another woman. A tucked-in blouse accentuates my short torso, my tummy and large breasts, most pencil skirts are unforgiving to my solid legs and round bum, and I have thick ankles and not enough definition from them to my heel to keep slingbacks up all day. However, I feel great in short shift dresses in stretchy fabrics and tall boots because they work with my petite frame, de-emphasize my midsection and wide calves, fit my lifestyle, and make me look pulled-together, stylish AND true to my personality. Accepting and embracing your exterior AND interior is the key to achieving personal style, and looking polished.

General Guidelines

These don’t always work for every woman, but a few tips that may help you on your journey to a polished look:

  • Purchase a new purse. More often than not, a woman’s purse is a mess. It’s fraying, overstuffed, stained and tired. Look for a bag that fits your style, but will also be timeless. Try to find something that is stylish instead of trendy, relatively free of logos and shiny decorations so it will span seasons and trends.
  • Get a new haircut. A polished woman does not have her hair in a claw clip or a messy bun 24/7. Get a cut that fits your lifestyle as well as your personality. Only have five minutes in the morning and have wavy fine hair? Don’t try Katie Holmes’ new bob – you won’t have the time to keep it looking good. Talk to your stylist before he shampoos your mane. Let him feel the texture, get to know you as a person before those scissors get anywhere near you. And be realistic – unless you want to spend a lot of time on your hair, you can’t make curly locks pin-straight, you can’t have a head of romantic curls when your locks are fine and straight. Just as you should accept your body, so should you accept your tresses.
  • Stop purchasing prints. A few prints tossed in every so often are great, but polished women are those decked out predominately in solids. A solid blue sweater will look more polished than a striped one, a simple white shirt will get you more miles and compliments than a paisley one, and a black pencil skirt will look far more elegant than a purple tweed one with a satin-trimmed hem.
  • Cut down on the cosmetics. A polished woman many have one facial feature accented, but that is about it. A polished look is clean skin, groomed brows, an elegant and simple look. If your brows are sparse, invest in a brow powder or gel – brows define a face and also your look. Instead of multiple products on the face, consider a great concealer and a highlighting tinted moisturizer to give the look of fresh, healthy skin. Lips are soft, moisturized, and either subtly colored or the focus in a subtle red or wine shade. Glitter, high gloss and shimmer are not in the makeup bags of polished women. As for eyecolor, it should be subtle neutrals to accent the eye, lashes curled and defined, but never thick, heavy or false looking. A blush or bronzer should give only a subtle flush to the skin and not attempt to recreate the look of the sun, cheek implants or a trend seen on the pages of Allure.
  • Take care of your shoes. They say shoes define the man, but they also define the woman. Be they ballet flats, classic pumps or knee-high stiletto boots; your shoes need to be cared for. Get them re-heeled and resoled each year, polish them, store them carefully and immediately treat them for stains, scuff or any other damage. Instead of five pairs of fun and cheap shoes that will last a season, use that money to invest in one pair that will last you a generation. Simple black leather pumps will provide you with miles of wear, a tall boot with a classic heel and toebox will work for decades, and there are many adorable flats out there that can be just as comfy as your ratty trainers. No matter how beautiful the woman, how sassy the outfit and how perfect the hair, a pair of scuffed, cheap and worn down shoes will destroy your image.

Images via The Sartorialist .

Capsule Wardrobe: Business Casual for a Teacher

I love your capsule wardrobes- I am trying to construct one for myself right now and I find it challenging. I work in a school with a ‘business casual’-type dress expectation, but I teach special education preschoolers. I like to look put-together for work, yet need clothing that will stand up to climbing up slides, being stepped on, avoiding dragging in paint and glue, sitting on the floor and chasing a running child! I am 35, short and curvy. (right, also need tops that aren’t too high in the neck, but don’t show my whole bra when I bend down!) Any ideas you might have would be so appreciated!

capsule wardrobe business casual stretch washable

Shop Similar: Wrap Dress | Shift Dress | Fit and Flare Dress | Leopard Flats | Chelsea Boot | Denim Jacket | Cardigan | Boyfriend Blazer | Red Necklace | Gold Pendant | Black and White Scarf | Gold Bracelet | Dotted Popover | V-neck Blouse | Stripe Tee | Camisole | Plaid Pants | Black Pants | Skirt | Tights | Leggings

For this business casual capsule wardrobe, the focus was on machine washable clothes with stretch and give that can take a beating.  Many think of durable business casual clothing as being tee shirt knits and chinos, but fabrics like matte jersey, poly blends that look like silk, and ponte knit can handle multiple washings and many can take a tumble in the dryer without any shrinkage or fading.  This capsule wardrobe is all machine washable items that can mix and match to have a business casual look that has color and interest to appeal to your younger audience.

Shop Machine Washable Dresses:

Often people consider dresses too formal for jobs like yours.  But as I showed in this outfit post, a ponte knit dress can be a great piece to wear for more casual situations.  Pair with super opaque tights (I love these) and Chelsea boots and be able to get down on the floor with the kids or scramble up a playground slide.  In this capsule I shared the three most versatile and flattering styles of dresses available at most any pricepoint: the wrap dress, the tailored shift, and the fit and flare.  If you choose a fabric that doesn’t cling and has some body, it will move with you and last the day.  Ponte knit, matte jersey, and most synthetics do great in the washing machine; you’ll elongate the life of your garment by letting these dresses line dry.  No need to get super fancy; I hang mine on plastic hangers on my shower curtain bar and find the synthetic knits are usually dry buy the next day.

Shop Machine Washable Cardigans and Jackets:

Layering pieces can take separates and make them cohesive.  Have a variety that goes past the standard hip-length v-neck cardigan so it looks as though your wardrobe is larger.  A denim jacket is on trend and gets better with washings and wear.  Use in place of a cardigan and blazer in business casual settings.  For additional comfort, consider one with a bit of Lycra to move and stretch with you.  Cardigans are a given in most women’s wardrobes, but we’re usually buying “versatile” versions in black or a neutral.  However, you can see in this capsule wardrobe the versatility of a graphic print.  While it clearly can work with the solid colored dresses and top, don’t be afraid of pattern mixing.  Especially in your field, some whimsy and creativity with your wardrobe will be welcomed.  I stuck with black and white prints throughout so they can easily mix with one another – the popover is black with white dots, the stripes in the tee are black, and the silk scarf is also this color combination.  Having two prints in the same color story is an easy way to delve into pattern mixing.  The final topper is a washable boyfriend blazer.  With a relaxed fit, roll up the sleeves and treat it like a cardigan but with a different silhouette and effect.  I was imagining a washable crepe blazer I own, but a ponte boyfriend blazer would also work and create a suit with black ponte pants and skirts.

Shop Machine Washable Tops and Blouses:

The tops are extremely varied in silhouette, but all equally versatile.  The popover is tunic length, working great over leggings and skinny pants (and under the boyfriend blazer or denim jacket), but can be tucked in to the ankle pants, trousers, or skirt.  Even consider adding a hip belt or opening all the buttons and letting a contrast color tank show for two more looks.  The green top is silky, but easy-care polyester (with tops like these if they say hand wash I machine wash on gentle in a lingerie bag and line dry).  The gathers and v-neck flatter the bust without exposing too much, and like the popover this top can be worn untucked (consider a pendant to weigh down the floaty fabric and show your shape) or tucked in (a half tuck is a modern way to wear such tops – tuck in the front but leave the back hanging low).  The tee is a refined knit, a scoop neck to flatter your figure, and a feminine sleeve length.  Finally, the synthetic camisole, which is a must in all busty women’s wardrobes.  In fact, I have a synthetic tank AND a slip and I wear one or the other with v-necks, wrap dresses, under sheer tops, and most anything else to provide modesty without bulk.  I like adjustable straps, so I can control the amount of coverage.

Shop Machine Washable Pants and Skirts:

For bottoms, again I chose very different types and silhouettes to have your wardrobe appear large though it’s small and encapsulated.  An ankle pant is on trend and easy to find at any pricepoint; while black would be a given in this situation, I decided to add another print, this one more subtle, to add variety and depth to the capsule.  And yes, these are machine washable!  A muted charcoal and blue plaid can work as a neutral; don’t be afraid to pair it with other colors.  By adding a topper like the denim jacket, you can even mix any of the printed tops in the capsule with these pants without looking as though you dressed in the dark.  If the idea of plaid pants is too crazy for you, still consider breaking away from black and trying a rich color like eggplant, indigo, olive, or camel.  The black pant is made of ponte knit so you can look refined but feel as though you’re wearing yoga pants.  Choose a traditional pant silhouette (straight, full, boot cut) to look professional while you’re comfy cozy.  The skirt too is of ponte knit, moving and stretching with you like the dresses.  Finally, a pair of super opaque tights and thick leggings to add warmth and modesty to the capsule wardrobe.

Shop Fun and Funky Flat Shoes:

As for shoes and accessories, you’ll want comfort and durability, but also personality.  Teaching preschoolers gives you an opportunity to wear brighter baubles and funky footwear and look completely appropriate.  Not only are the flats leopard print, but they have cat faces on the front (and if you’re wondering why I included a warm-based print, leopard is a neutral and this mix keeps your capsule from being too matchy-matchy).  There’s nothing wrong in your profession to have fun comfortable shoes; don’t worry if they match the look, if they’re whimsical they can be a statement piece.  Such shoes do not have to be just flats; brogues, smoking slippers, and ankle boots can also be comfortable and have a lot of personality.  In contrast, the black leather Chelsea boots are a classic neutral shoe that works with skirts and pants and gives you extra support when chasing after a student.  These are the kind of shoes that can handle insoles for extra support (my mom was a teacher, I know the profession is hard on your feet) and can be polished up, reheeled and resoled to be worn year after year.

Shop Scarves and Necklaces with Personality:

I have two lengths of necklaces – a short statement piece and a long pendant.  The short piece can be as whimsical as your shoes; I chose a red enamel version but this is an opportunity to show personality with pieces from your favorite brand, in your favorite color, bought on vacation, Etsy, or a local craft bazaar.  As I mentioned above, a longer pendant can weigh down floaty fabrics to show your figure, and also lengthen the body when wearing solid-colored dresses.  I chose a simple gold one for versatility, but this could also be funky and whimsical, or made of a more durable material in case you worry about it being tugged by the students.  Finally, square silk scarves are back en vogue and they’re a great addition to a capsule wardrobe.  They’re also far easier to wear than pashminas or infinity scarves if you have a large bust.  There’s so many ways to tie a scarf, and a scarf doesn’t just have to be at your throat – depending on the size it can be tied at the waist, on the wrist, in your hair, or even on the handle of your handbag.  This is a great video that shows ten ways to tie a larger square scarf; and this video has a few creative ways to wear a smaller square scarf or handkerchief.

 capsule wardrobe for a teacher or business casual setting with a focus on machine washable fashion for fall or winter by Wardrobe Oxygen