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Summer Lingerie Must-Haves

When summer arrives, I don’t just switch out my sweaters and long-sleeved shirts for tanks and shorts, but I also switch out my lingerie drawer. Sweat, heat, and lightweight fabrics just NEED different underpinnings. My lingerie drawer must-haves for when the temperature rises:

Summer lingerie essentials

Tee Shirt Bras

Slub knits, linen and linen blends, and cotton voile are brilliant in the heat and humidity, but are prone to transparency. Tee shirt bras are a must with such fabrics as they are slightly padded, molded in shape, and free of adornments to virtually disappear while providing modesty. I always have a couple in a color close to my skintone for white and light shades, and a black one to wear under dark colors. My personal favorite is the Fantasie 4510 Smoothing Balcony T-Shirt Bra.

Nude Slip

Warmer weather is far more comfortable with lighter weight fabrics, but these fabrics (even in darker colors) can be quite transparent, especially on a bright sunny day. Having a nude slip can prevent embarrassing exposure, and if you choose wisely it won’t add too much weight or heat. I love this slip from Calvin Klein, which skims the body without adding bulk under slim dresses and doesn’t cling even in high humidity. Free of adornments, it won’t ruin the look or line of your summer frocks. Adjustable straps and plenty of stretch make the slip comfortable and well-fitting.

A little tip: For years, my favorite summer slip was the cotton lining of a dress I thrifted but didn’t like. It came with a beige cotton slip only stitched in at the shoulders, so it was easy to snip it out. It was breathable, the right length, and virtually invisible under my dresses and cost about $4.

Another tip: Check eBay for traditional slips. I find gently used, vintage, and never worn half and full slips of all colors and styles for pennies on the dollar.

Nude Thongs

I know some of you despise thongs, but I find nothing better to prevent visible panty lines (VPL) with white or lightweight pants. The Godiva Thong from Hanky Panky is a new favorite; the nude color is a perfect match for my skin and the fabric seems to mold to my body, preventing shifting, wedgies, or cutting into my waist without feeling grody on a sweltering summer day.

Black Briefs

If I’m not wearing a pair of bike shorts or slip shorts under my sundress, you can bet I’m wearing a pair of black briefs. Also my undies of choice with denim shorts. My favorite is Hanro, they really are worth the hype and the money. They hold up great and last eons longer than cheaper versions from Target meaning it’s a better value in the long run, also they fit like a dream.  Another favorite is Knock Out! Panties, which have a moisture-wicking cotton gusset to keep you dry and comfy even if the rest of you is a sweaty mess.

Nude Briefs

Same deal, for white and light colored shorts and sundresses.  I forgot to mention Hanky Panky’s Retro Vikini Briefs, some of the most comfortable undies I have worn, and pretty lace that doesn’t dig or chafe even on the hottest summer day.

Black Bike Shorts

Bike shorts are brilliant under dresses and skirts for preventing chub rub and offering modesty. I recently reviewed Jockey’s Skimmies Slipshorts which are great for this, but you can also use most any bike shorts. Check out the comments on this post for a ton of great options.

A little tip: Pettipants are a pretty alternative and easily found at online lingerie shops. I have found many on eBay; there are sellers who offer overstock and sellers who make brand new product.

Bra with Pretty Straps

I don’t think it’s stylish to purposely show your underpinnings, but summer clothes often cause bra straps to show no matter how careful you are. I’m not talking about wearing a straight bra with a racerback tank (PLEASE don’t do this, wear a racerback bra or buy one of these gadgets), but traditional tanks and camisoles sometimes slip and you get a peek. Instead of showcasing your nude tee shirt bra, having a bra in a pretty color and with attractive straps can make it less awful. This spring and summer I picked up this bra, but love the leopard straps on this one.

Strapless Bra

Comfortable and supportive strapless bras DO exist, check out my post on a bra fitting to see proof! Since realizing this, my summer wardrobe has grown exponentially. I recommend getting one similar to a tee shirt bra – very simple, smooth, one that will disappear under your clothing. As for color, it depends on your wardrobe. I choose one in nude (the Fantasie 4530) since I wear more light colors in the summer, but if your wardrobe is mostly dark colors a black one would be wiser.

What are your warm-weather lingerie must-haves?

Capsule Wardrobe: Transitioning from Summer to Fall with a Denim Jacket

I’m a born again denim jacket fan. After too many years sporting them almost daily in the ‘80s and ‘90s, I couldn’t fathom wearing one again in the new millennium. However, in recent years the denim jacket has again become a popular and versatile wardrobe staple and I broke down and purchased one (this one from J. Crew Factory). Now I can’t imagine my wardrobe without one.

In a recent post’s comments, reader Mim asked if I could make a capsule to show the versatility of a denim jacket. Below is a sample capsule wardrobe incorporating a denim jacket, showing how it can help transition your summer wardrobe to early fall. While the weather may still be warm enough to bare legs (and a couple toes), you’ll likely desire a couple toppers and a way to temper summer vibes from breezy skirts and floral maxis. This capsule wardrobe is for a business casual office, or for the weekend.

Capsule Wardrobe: Transitioning from Summer to Fall with help from a denim jacket. Via Wardrobe Oxygen

Shop Similar: Denim Jacket | Blazer | Tee Shirt | Striped Top | Black Shell | Pencil Skirt | White Jeans | Midi Skirt | Sheath Dress | Maxi Dress | Ankle Strap Shoes | Block Heel Shoes | Wrap Belt | Pendant Necklace

Feel free to change out pieces to better fit your personality. A dark rinse denim jacket, the blazer can be a different color or replaced with a leather moto, the gray tee with a band tee or one with your favorite superhero or book quote. Stripes are extremely versatile and mix well with other prints, but could be switched out with a different print or a solid. The floral pencil skirt can be replaced with a solid, leopard print, a-line, or a fit and flare shape. The jeans can be switched out for a different color, fit, or even a twill or sateen ankle or cropped pant. A printed wide-leg pant is also a great alternative.  The gray pleated midi can be a cotton print, changed to a maxi, or switched out for culottes or another pair of ankle pants. The dresses are examples showing how different silhouettes and lengths can work; you can switch out for a tee shirt dress, fit and flare, and most any length from above the knee to ankle. Don’t be afraid to consider a jumpsuit, I wore one with a denim jacket in this outfit post.  As for the shoes, I chose two heels that are relatively walkable; the black and leopard one was chosen for the ankle strap (a popular trend right now) and how the print adds interest to solids and also plays nice with other prints. I own shoes similar to the camel ones and love how they work great with pants and skirts of every length; the color elongates the leg and works well with cool and warm colors. I have a version of the camel belt and find it extremely versatile.

Shop Denim Jackets and Blazers to Create this Look:

Don’t be afraid to mix high with low; we’re used to that meaning designer with discount mart fashion, but it also means pairing denim with chiffon, your favorite band tee with a satin pencil skirt, a bit of sparkle with a bit of distress. The gray yoga tee will look chic with the chiffon midi skirt; you can tuck it in or knot it at the waist. Pair with the camel shoes or even your favorite flat sandals or slip-on sneakers and if it gets chilly, add the denim jacket. The gray tee also works with the printed pencil skirt; switch out the denim jacket for the blazer and the camel shoes for the ankle strap kitten heels for work in a creative office environment.

Shop Graphic Tees to Create this Look:

Denim jackets can replace blazers in casual and creative office environments; wear with the black ponte sheath dress and add the camel belt and heels to make it look more purposeful and cohesive. The black crepe shell and gray chiffon midi skirt would look at home in most business casual environments but may look a bit too summery come September; add the denim jacket, switch out sandals for the camel block heels and add the belt to make the look seasonally appropriate without being too wintry. Pattern mixing is still on trend and a lot of fun; style the Breton tee with the printed pencil skirt and ankle strap heels; add the denim jacket to tone down the prints and give a downtown vibe.

Shop Skirts with Plenty of Personality :

Double denim (wearing more than one piece of denim in an outfit) is no longer a fashion faux pas; if it still makes you uneasy, styling a denim jacket with white or colored denim gives the most contrast. While a graphic tee and white jeans may seem too ordinary, the addition of a pendant necklace and denim jacket creates a complete look. The best bet for pairing denim on denim is to work with contrast; it’s near impossible to match denim pieces so you’ll be better off with rinse denim and distressed, colored with whitewash, white with vintage. The addition of a print (stripes are always a safe bet) makes the look cohesive and steers clear of “Texas Tuxedo” territory.

Shop Dresses to Style with Denim Jackets:

If a denim jacket seems too heavy to wear with your favorite summer maxi dresses, consider holding down the dress with a wide belt and chunky shoes. Again, the camel belt and heels are a great choice. A wide belt is fantastic to cover any belt loops, built-in fabric belts, or waist details to give your maxi a completely different effect and look more appropriate for the later months of summer and early part of fall.

A denim jacket can not only help transition summer looks to fall, it can also pull together a wardrobe and create a cohesive look from boho, rock and roll, prep, classic, and romantic. Denim jackets look great with everything from leopard and leather to florals and silk faille. Do you have a denim jacket in your wardrobe? What is your favorite way of wearing it?

How to Rock a Crop Top

How to Style a Crop Top

The crop top is back. I know, I know, I hear your moaning through the Internet. I wore crop tops in high school when I was channeling Kelly Kapowski, when this trend showed up on runways I KNEW it was one I would not revisit. However, brilliant style bloggers across the globe have been proving that anyone can carry off a crop top this summer, and here’s some tips on how to rock the crop without looking like a Fly Girl:

Pair with a High-waisted Bottom

When a crop top is partnered with a skirt or pant that starts above the belly button, a crop top can be downright flattering. The smallest part on a woman’s body is usually at the bottom or right below the rib cage; a crop top and high-waisted bottom highlight this area, and your sliver of skin flatters in the same manner a wide belt does. Having the visible skin so high prevents muffin top, and showing your belly button or post-baby stretch marks. While this pairing can work with most any type of top and bottom, the combination of a fitted top and fuller skirt or pants is both figure flattering and on trend (and with a fitted top there’s no chance you’ll flash your bra). Great examples of this trend can be seen on Jay Miranda and Girl With Curves.

Wear Over a Dress

Gosh, why didn’t I think of this? I’ll admit, seeing this outfit on The Classy Cubicle was when I started realizing crop tops can look modern and be age-appropriate. Treat a boxy crop top like a cropped jacket and pair with a simple sheath to update your workweek wardrobe staples or to freshen up your Date Night LBD. Also on Refinery 29, they featured an editor wearing a striped tank dress with a different striped crop top over it and the combination was fun and very wearable.

Layer over a Longer Top

You’ll see retailers have already thought of this combination, styling mannequins in this manner and also selling shirts that create this effect. I love this top from Vince Camuto; it looks like two tops, achieves the crop top look, but has enough coverage to wear at more casual workplaces or weekends when you don’t want to flash a ton of skin.

Get Matchy Matchy

When the top and bottom are the same color and/or fabric, the flash of your midsection isn’t as obvious and doesn’t feel so risqué. Mindy Kaling wore a jacquard crop top and skirt to an event and it worked because it was a matched set, the skirt was high, and the sliver of skin showcased the slimmest part of her figure.

Play with Volume

Not every crop top is fitted, and a bit of volume can make this shorter silhouette far more wearable.  The Tiny Closet shows how a floaty crop top can be quite flattering; while the post linked has her wearing it with higher-waist pants, she wears this top often with all sorts of bottoms. The August Diaries pairs a boxy crop with a high-low hemline with a skirt that is fitted on top, creating a balanced silhouette. I love this eyelet crop top with matching full maxi; both pieces in the same color gives a feel of a dress, the cropped top flattering the figure in the same manner as a belt. Adding volume is a great way to balance your frame and keep cool as the temps rise.


What do you think about the return of the crop top? Are you willing to try this trend?


Saving Face: Long Wearing Makeup for High-Stress Moments

2014… we’re having a rocky relationship. We started with the best of intentions but there have been quite a few things in the past few months that have caused stress, distress, and many tears. I fully believe that taking care of what’s inside takes precedence over taking care of your exterior, but I also know that looking good can improve your mood, and not having to worry about how you look gives you room and time to focus on more important matters.

A couple months ago, I had a pretty severe and unexpected cryfest. When I calmed down, I went to the bathroom to clean up and was amazed that the only thing that was messed up was my lipstick. I had attended an event earlier in the day and had a full face but didn’t have to dab a single smear from under my eyes or reapply concealer. Unfortunately, I have had many opportunities since to test out my makeup and it has held up to sweat, to tears, to allergy attacks. It’s the season of pollen, prom, graduation, weddings, and unexpected situations always arise; here’s what I use for a face that holds up even if you’re breaking down:

The Base

Dr. Brandt’s Pores No More
After moisturizing, I use one pump of this primer on my forehead, cheeks, chin, and around my mouth. It fills pores and fine lines without caking and never causes me breakouts. I highly recommend this product even on its own without foundation; it evens the skin, fills without looking fake, and lasts most of the day.

Revlon ColorStay Foundation
In the winter I used the Whipped Creme version, but now that it’s getting hot and humid I’ve switched to the formula for oily/combo skin. When I had the cast and wasn’t expert at blending with my non-dominant hand, I started applying with the Real Techniques Stippling Brush (great line of budget-friendly high quality brushes), and then using my fingers or a BeautyBlender to blend around the eyes and nose. The brush gives me an even finish with less product. And the foundation looks natural (I use Medium Beige) and seriously lasts all day and into the evening without rubbing onto someone’s shoulder during a hug.

Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage
I once read an interview with a makeup artist who said he always applied concealer after foundation so it didn’t get rubbed away. I tried it and have been using that method ever since. I am a Laura Mercier fan, I’ve been using this concealer for six years and nothing compares in my opinion. The compact comes with two colors so you can blend the two or choose a lighter for dark circles, darker for zits. I use SC-2 and like the light color for the corner of my eyes which get very dark, and the darker color under my eyes because the orange tone cancels out the shadows and doesn’t leave a ghost-like finish. I use my ring finger, tap into the compact, tap onto the skin. I don’t rub, I just tap until it is blended.


Revlon PhotoReady Cream Blush
I use Coral Reef, which I find natural on my skintone.  I reviewed it here, and I have to stress how you apply makes all the difference. Like my concealer, I tap in the compact, tap on the face, and then blend. This blush lasts all day and is shimmer-free so it’s appropriate for daytime and serious occasions.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Brow Color
I reviewed it here, but it’s great because it lasts all day; I have even gone in a pool and came out with still colored and groomed brows. You can rub your face and it won’t budge, but comes off easily with a gentle face wash.

Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette 1
I really love these shadows, they are natural colors, versatile, and last a good amount of time. I like that there’s no shimmer (except Venus which I never use), so I can have a simple day look and be appropriate for more serious occasions. Naked 2 alone on the lid and a bit over the crease can give enough contour and definition for daytime; Faint can add more contour or replace liner.

Maybelline Stiletto Liner
I like this in Brownish Black which isn’t as severe as black and matches my dark brown eyes. The felt tip is easy to use; I start in the middle of the eye and draw a skinny line right along the lash line to the outer corner, then go back and do a bit in the center. This makes my lashes look more lush and it doesn’t smear. It will drip in a pool or rainstorm, but it holds up to a cryfest or sweaty day at a festival if you use a very thin line right at the lashline.

Too Faced Better Than False Lashes
First I curl my lashes, then a light application of the mascara from this product, focusing on the tips of my lashes. Then the fiber product, removing any fluff balls and wiggling between lashes. Then a final sweep of the mascara, again wiggling through lashes to get all surfaces and prevent clumps. I do not put this product on my lower lashes because it’s sticky and when you cry your top and bottom lashes stick together and you cry even more and start grabbing at your lashes and… well just don’t do it. If you feel the need for lower-lash mascara, consider a water resistant formula (I use Cover Girl Clump Crusher).  To ensure this sticks around, don’t rub your eyes – if the product gets wet AND is rubbed it will shed all over your cheeks.  But if it gets wet and can dry naturally it will stay in place.

Set it and Forget It

NARS Light Reflecting Pressed Setting Powder
My skin is pretty dry in the winter, so I usually can go without a setting powder. However if I know it will be a long day or a sweaty one, I use this product (applied with the Sephora bronzer brush) to set my base face.  It’s invisible, but it seems to do a bit of airbrushing while keeping all my products in place.

e.l.f. Studio Mist and Set
I love this stuff. Two spritzes and my face will stay in place for HOURS. it doesn’t clog my pores, doesn’t sting, doesn’t leave a matte finish, just acts like hairspray to hold everything in place. I use this daily, and keep the NARS for special occasions.  I have used this, had fitful sleep, woken up and still have a decent face and no pillow case covered with foundation.  Pretty impressive for a cheap product!

Other Tips:

  • Be Prepared.  CVS and other drugstores often have a trial pack of makeup wipes in their travel section; it’s great to have one of these packs in your purse to do makeup repair. Instead of rubbing away everything, it can spot clean up dripping mascara or liner or a smeary lip and you don’t have to rinse afterwards.
  • Keep a Neutral Lip. The last thing you want to do is have lipstick on your teeth, your chin, your cousin’s cheek, your husband’s suit jacket. Stick to a subtle lip (I love Laura Mercier’s Sparkling Pink lipstick for an almost-nude face and Revlon’s Balm Stain in Romantic for a touch of red that fades nicely) so you can focus on what matters.
  • It’s Okay to Go Bare. If the idea of putting on makeup stresses you out, DON’T DO IT. Your health and comfort and taking care of others is always top priority. These suggestions are if you are like me and feel that a finished face gives you a sense of normalcy and a “suit of armor” to battle through tough situations.

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The Perfect Summer Dress?

For me, every summer is spent in dresses. Breezy one-piece dressing is my jam, I wear bike shorts underneath for modesty and to prevent chub rub, throw on some sandals, maybe a necklace if I’m feeling fancy, and head out to the farmer’s market, to run errands, a cookout or most anything on my schedule. For work, I’ll top with a cardigan to adhere to dress code and battle the arctic breeze from the A/C.

But it’s hard to find such dresses. They’re too short, the neckline plunges too much, and more often than not they can’t be worn with a standard bra. So when I find one that fits the bill I get excited… and I of COURSE have to share it with you!

Old Navy Cross Front Dress

Meet my new summer dress, the Old Navy Cross-Front Dress. What makes it great:

  • Solids and prints available, and they are wearable classic colors and prints!
  • Knee-length and maxi length versions available
  • Regular, petite, and tall lengths (I bought the exact dress pictured above in Large Petite)
  • Straps that cover a standard bra in front, and in back
  • Front not too low (I did pin it closed, some may prefer a camisole)
  • Plenty of room for my bust
  • Machine washable (I did gentle cycle in a lingerie bag and hung to dry)
  • Faux wrap waistband so it won’t loosen
  • Lots of coverage in the wrap for modesty even on a windy day
  • Less than $40.00
  • Makes my curvy figure look great!

Have you tried this dress? What do you think? Have you found any perfect summer dresses, if so share with us in the comments!

All About the Summer Shoes

A bit ago, a reader asked me about a pair of shoes I wore in an Instagram photo (I share far more outfits over there than here so come on over and follow!) and I realized I haven’t shared bits of my closet lately, or recent purchases.

This summer has been atypical thanks to this arm situation. A huge portion of my wardrobe is unwearable thanks to the bulk of the cast or my reduced dexterity, and that has affected my choice of footwear (some shoes just DON’T go with everything!). This has caused me to really examine what I buy and more importantly, WHY. I recently shared this post from Momastary on my Facebook page (another place you should follow me because the content there is different from here on the blog) and it really resonated with me, especially this quote:

“I will not be a slave to the Tyranny of Trend any longer. I am almost 40 years old and no catalog is the Boss of Me anymore. I am free. I am not bound to spend my precious days on Earth trying to keep up with the Joneses- because the Joneses are really just a bunch of folks in conference rooms changing “trends” rapidly to create fake monthly emergencies for us.”

As you know from some of my recent more personal posts, I’ve made a concerted effort to see the positive in my arm re-breaking and using this time to craft a more positive and healthy life. While that has included walking, Whole30, and some other new habits, it has also affected my shopping. Am I shopping to try to fill a void? Am I buying to keep up with the Joneses (or bloggers) or to make more compelling blog posts or because there’s something else in my life I need to focus on but am afraid or don’t want to do so? Anyhoo, lots of existential mumbo jumbo when this is supposed to be about SHUZ! But point is, this summer my shoe purchases were made with more thought and care.

I broke my summer/early fall shoe collection into two categories: pretty, and practical:

fall shioe must have collection

My pretty shoes. These are shoes for work, for nights out, and when I want to feel fancy with my simple knit dresses or jeans. Clockwise from top left we have the Halogen ‘Marlie,’ Rockport Seven to 7 Peep Toe Wedge (c/o), Nine West ‘Ugogirl,’ and Nine West ‘Flax.’

halogen marlie calfhair leopard gray pump

I said in my Nordstrom Anniversary Sale post that I wouldn’t buy these shoes because I already have a ton of leopard shoes, but this summer I saw that my leopard semi-flats and leopard pumps got more wear that any other work shoe. All my other leopard calfhair shoes were warm tones and I often wished I had a slightly different version so while they were still on sale I grabbed these. They’re not my first pair of Halogen shoes (or first pair of leopard Halogen shoes) and like my others, I find them comfortable and well-made especially for the reasonable pricepoint. These shoes have been worn with black, blue, denim, white, skirts and pants and jeans.

rockport aqua wedge peep toe seven

It’s so nice when a brand sends me something and it ends up being in regular rotation. These pretty snakeskin wedges from Rockport are just that. I’ve written before about Rockport’s comfort, and I love how they are able to have sneaker-comfy shoes with great style. I love this color with denim, and they look great peeking out from work trousers. While some may rock wedges with skirts, I think they look a bit wonky on me and keep them for pants. But these are my go-to for a day after a pair of painful heels or when I’m wearing a boring outfit and want a punch without a lot of effort. And by the way they look great with a red nail (my summer tootsie color has been OPI’s Big Apple Red).

nine west ugogirl calfhair leopard

My Ivanka Trump Indicon leopard calfhair pumps are comfy but they’re looking a tad worn after two+ years of city life. My cobbler does his best to cover heel nicks but I was looking for a replacement. While I have had a watch on eBay for a year and regularly check places like 6pm for the exact shoe, I was okay with finding a completely different shoe. The ‘Ugogirl’ immediately appealed to me because while it had the pointed toe that I adore, it had a modern thicker heel. They fit like other Nine West shoes, which is good for my chubby in front/skinny in back feet and the wider heel makes them wearable for a longer period of time.

nine west flax

Oh Nine West ‘Flax,’ how I adore you. I have this very shoe in red and black pony hair (an impulse buy I still adore but hardly wear), peacock print (not worn often but SOOO worth it, my absolute favorite statement shoe), silver (haven’t worn recently but get a lot of wear in fall and spring), black, and nude. After several summers, I finally found a nude that matches my skintone and of COURSE it’s in this style! ‘Flax’ can often be found for super cheap on sites like 6pm and Amazon, occasionally on sale at Macy’s and Lord and Taylor but they’re getting harder to find.  I went to a Nine West outlet while at Rehoboth on the hunt for more ‘Flax’ (hopefully a backup pair in nude or black) to no avail. But a non-shiny, single sole pointed nude pump is more of a workhorse in my wardrobe than the same shoe in black. It’s a great way to summarize black and darker outfits, and elongates the leg.

popular summer shoes

And now my practical shoes. These are the true workhorses, and honestly, they look it so no close-up shots of these babies. Clockwise from upper left we have the Vince Camuto ‘Effel,’ Sanuk Yoga Mat Flip Flops (c/o), Softspots ‘Ventura’ (now discontinued so linked to only retailer I could find that still has them), Converse ‘Shoreline,’ Born ‘Myndy,’ Birkenstock ‘Arizona.’

I bought the Vince Camutos back in February in black and this color. Tan was backordered, black arrived, I wore once and found them stiff and they cut my ankles. Returned. The tan arrived and I was ready to return them right away but decided to try on. Completely different experience! The leather is soft, the fit different, and the color far more flattering. I wear these shoes weekly, with dresses (seen here) and jeans (seen here) and pants (seen here) and skirts (seen here). The heel is a wearable height and I don’t hesitate to choose these for long workdays or general admission concerts.

I wear flops far less than I used to, and I think it’s because with this arm I haven’t spent much time at a swimming pool. These hang out at the front door to wear to the mailbox, to take Cindy for a quick walk or Emerson for a quick trip to the playground. They also slip into my bag for pedicures. I don’t condone flip flops as actual shoes, but these are uber comfy and the fabric strap more refined than plastic making them a great choice for the pool, beach, and bumming around.

The Softspots Ventura sandal is my JAM. Almost the same color as my legs, a mini wedge which is more comfortable than completely flat. This is my second pair (found them on eBay unworn in box) because the first pair was destroyed after a few summers of music festivals, concerts, and weekend events. Worn them here, here, and here.

Converse Shorelines are amazing. Far more comfortable than the All Stars, but with the same style. I’ve worn them here, here, and here and wrote about them here and here. Love.

The ‘Myndy’ by Born, I bought these on clearance and immediately regretted it. What the hell Alison, I don’t wear yellow! There’s not a single yellow thing in my wardrobe! They ended up sitting unworn in a box for several months. Then I pulled them out and realized what I was missing. These babies are COMFORTABLE and CUTE and yellow, when this shade and with a cork wedge heel ends up being a neutral! I’ve worn them on the blog here, here, and here. I wear them with jeans, with dresses, and even with shorts. They’re so comfy, I wear them days when I know I’ll be doing a lot of walking but flats won’t look right. Even though I bought these a few years ago, they’re still available each summer in different colors (love the pink) and often found on discount sites.

And my silver Birks. Sorry not sorry, I wear the HECK out of these babies. I can walk miles in them, I can stand on my feet for hours on concrete in a crowded concert pit, I wear them with casual dresses and cutoffs, maxis and boyfriend jeans. I love that they go with my beloved silver cuff, and I don’t care that they’re clunky and overly trendy and played out. I love my Arizonas, and likely will be wearing long after the trend dies.

There you go, the most worn shoes in my wardrobe this summer! What are you favorite shoes in your wardrobe, and what are your must-have footwear workhorses?

Summer Beauty Survival Kit

Living in the DC Metro area all my life, I am no stranger to sweltering temperatures and mega-high humidity. Over time, I have learned ways to work with crazy summer weather and not have it wreak havoc on my style. Many of you have been asking what I do to not be a sopping, frizzy, grody mess each summer day, here’s my favorite beauty products and tips to look cool even when the temps are up:

1. Certain Dri
I apply the roll-on version of Certain Dri every evening before bed. I keep it on my nightstand next to my lipbalm, hand cream, and water so I do not forget. This is NOT a product to apply to freshly-shaved pits, even when my skin is calm it can still sting a bit. I tried the stick formula, but I couldn’t handle the smell (very powdery, might not be as problematic for others). Certain Dri has been a summer go-to of mine for over a decade. I don’t wear it in the cooler months because I don’t think it’s terribly healthy to stop sweating, but it keeps me from being a sopping wet stinkpot during the hottest time of the year.

2. Dove go fresh Cool Essentials Deodorant
I find it’s best for me to switch up deodorants every few months, it seems my body becomes accustomed to them and they stop working. During the fall and winter I often try out new deodorants to see if I can find a new favorite, but for the past three summers as soon as June hits I go back to Dove Cool Essentials. It’s one of the few deodorants that doesn’t have a smell that nauseates me (and the last smell I can handle on a hot day is the “unscented” smell). That plus Certain Dri keeps me funk-free for at least 24 hours, and Dove doesn’t irritate, even when applied right after shaving.

3. Neutrogena Body Oil
I’ve written about Neutrogena Body Oil before, it has been a beauty staple of mine for years. Now that I am older, it’s not enough on its own come winter, but in summer, it’s the perfect light moisturizer that gives my skin a soft healthy sheen. Not only that, the scent is quite lovely, even when my body heats up. Most summer days, this is the only fragrance I wear. I lightly towel after showering and apply it from neck to toes, concentrating on elbows and knees. then I usually stand in front of an air-conditioning vent and mutter about the humidity and check my email (TMI?) until it has dried and then get dressed.

4. Awapuhi Wild Ginger by Paul Mitchell Texturizing Sea Spray
This is a new product for me this summer, but it’s now a staple. With my last purchase I ordered three bottles of it, since I ran out mid-trip to NYC and almost cried in my hotel room. While I’m mentioning this product (which I also raved about on The Average Girl’s Guide), I might as well share my summer hair routine:

  1. Wash hair with shampoo maybe once a week, twice if I get really sweaty. In the summer, I water down shampoo before I put it on my head, and concentrate on my scalp, especially the hair line where I get greasy.
  2. Condition like crazy. Once a week I do a hair mask, maybe Neutrogena because it rinses easily and can be done in the shower, maybe coconut oil if I have an hour to myself (rare). Every other shower, I “wash” my hair with conditioner. I switch between Biolage which is light, and Aveda which is thick and smells strange but gives my hair lots of body and control.
  3. Dry hair with an old tee shirt, or a quick-dry towel to reduce frizz.
  4. Add seven drops of Frizz-Ease Sheer, a tiny amount of argan oil (like a quarter of a pea and concentrated on ends), and a thousand sprays of Sea Spray to damp hair and scrunch.
  5. Stand in front of A/C, mutter about the weather and check my email.
  6. Get dressed, do makeup, eat breakfast.
  7. Come back and use the curling iron on any pieces that look less beachy and more Kip Winger, using TRESemme Heat Protectant Spray before each curl.
  8. Finger comb, and occasionally use a bit more argan oil to smooth.
  9. Day 2 or if I have plans that evening, I can usually revive my look with a few spritzes of Sea Spray with some scrunching, maybe a couple curls of the iron, if it’s really bad, a bit more argan oil. My hair is bigger and crazier on Day 2.
  10. If I can survive until Day 3 or have somewhere to go Day 2, I may use some Psssssst on the roots for lift and to suck up the sweat and grease.

So yeah, Paul Mitchell Sea Spray is my jam. It totally gives me the crazy beachy waves I crave without weighing them down or making them look dirty or greasy (which happens with many other surf sprays). I like the dry look in summer, it makes frizz seem more purposeful and I can better get away with dry shampoo and going without washing. Glossy hair will return when the humidity drops!

5. Coty Airspun Face Powder – Translucent
My mom had this when I was little, and I can remember the iconic floral container on the dressing tables of most women I knew when I was a child. I picked it up earlier this year on a whim, and I am glad I did. It’s an awesome summer powder. It has a very strong scent, and by smelling it you may realize that your aunt or grandmother or elementary school teacher wore it, the scent is very memorable. If you can get past the scent and crappy powder puff (use a brush, sponge, or a higher quality puff to apply), this is a powder that can set your makeup (or bare face) almost all day.

During the week, I do my normal face of primer, foundation, and concealer and then set with Airspun. On weekends, I often just do a bit of Dr. Brandt Pores No More and then the powder just to give a bit of an airbrushed but natural look. Since Airspun comes in a pretty big and messy container, I do touch-ups through the day with Bare Minerals Tinted Touch Up Veil.

6. Bare Minerals Tinted Touch Up Veil
Few powders work on sweaty skin. Often they create weird little beige globules, or look really obvious. With this compact, I can pat skin dry, swipe on Touch Up Veil and look pretty decent. As I sweat more, it doesn’t get strange, it seems to take my sweat and diffuse it so I just look glowy in an almost purposeful way.  I wrote about Bare Minerals Touch Up Veil before, still a big fan.

7. Waterproof/Water Resistant Mascara
I don’t wear waterproof mascara often, but come summer it’s sort of a necessity when it’s a long day or an outdoor event. I was using Mary Kay Lash Love Waterproof because I received a free tube and I do like it a LOT – it makes my lashes long, separated, and just plain lovely. However I am using Clump Crusher right now in the regular formula and am totally loving it and when my Mary Kay runs out I am thinking of getting the water resistant version of Clump Crusher. Before I put on my mascara, I always curl my lashes.

8. Maybelline Line Stiletto
Best liquid liner ever. Loved it then, love it now.  It’s a good day liner because it’s not shiny, it’s not super thick, and you can get a really thin line right against your lash line. It’s great for summer because it won’t drip or fade with sweat and humidity, but it washes away easily with most any cleanser.

9. Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Romantic
This chubby pencil (that doesn’t need a separate sharpener!) is the best beauty product I have purchased in eons. I am on my fifth, and I have one in my purse, one in my desk, and one in my dressing table. It gives a pretty soft red color on the lips that looks great even as it wears away. I can apply it without a mirror, and it’s matte enough that it doesn’t smear or get on my teeth but shiny enough that it looks right with a sweaty… I mean glistening face. I have this pencil in a few other colors and while I like them, I LOVE Romantic. Oh, and in a pinch you can rub a bit on your cheeks for a natural flush!

10. Baking Soda
My face often feels disgusting at the end of the day – dirt from the city, sweat, makeup put over makeup… it’s tempting to scrub my face with a hardcore cleanser to clean out the pores but I know it will stress out my skin. Instead, I shake a bit of baking soda into my CeraVe cleanser. It is the perfect amount of grit to really clean the skin without stripping it. Best thing, keep the box in the bathroom and add it to a bit of cleaner (we’re a Dr. Bronner’s family) and it’s also a fabulous tub scrub!

11. Footpetals Killer Kushionz
I have these in most every pair of shoes I own. I put a new set in at the beginning of the summer, and replace them once the temps cool. They soak up sweat, keep my feet from sliding around, and protect my shoes from being grody. They come in several colors, so you can slip them in peeptoes or even sandals and have them practically invisible. There’s special styles of Footpetals for sandals and thongs and such, but I’m a fan of the full-size Killer Kushionz because they absorb more moisture and also cushion the heels.  By the way, I find these cheapest on Amazon (the link in this post is to what I buy but know it’s an affiliate link.  If you don’t want to click, search Footpetals, and there’s a three-pack that is free shipping if you have Prime).

I’d love to hear from you! I always learn about the best beauty products from the comments. What are your favorite products for beating the heat and humidity?

As a reminder, before you shop online, check Ebates.  I buy much of my beauty products from and they often have 12% cash back through Ebates (and both stores offer store credit for future purchases based off current purchases and free shipping!).

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Reader Question: Summer Boots

Hi Allie –
Do you think boots are appropriate for summer (like tan ones for summer) for casual wear, with skirts or shift dresses, or is it better to save them for cooler weather?

Thanks, Amy

Hey there Amy!

I think it depends on where you are living and the trends of that area. I personally love a more casual boot with a fitted top and denim skirt for a barbecue or happy hour, and think floaty little dresses or shifts seem grounded with a sturdy boot. However I know that where I am (Washington DC) it is too humid and hot past June to sport anything but the strappiest of sandals and one would not only feel uncomfortable in knee-high leather, but look uncomfortable as well.

I wouldn’t buy boots for the purpose of summer wear, for you may find they are just too warm and awkward-looking to wear in 95-degree sunshine. However if you already own a pair, I am all for trying out new things and seeing how it feels and looks. I know I will most likely be wearing my casual tan mid-calf boots with skirts and dresses at least through the beginning of the summer season!

tall black bootsUgg bootsThe thing is when summer hits, your glossy black knee-high heeled boots will just look wrong, no matter how hard you try. Just as your wool pencil skirt doesn’t work in summer even though it is the same silhouette as your twill one, boots of glossy or patent leather or ones with very sleek styling (pointed toe, kitten or stiletto heel) will feel out of place. Also, a chic tall boot can look quite tartish when not paired with the heavier fabrics and stronger silhouettes of winter.

Though the looks so far for these warmer months have been more polished and feminine than in the past, if you wish to pair tall boots with your summer wardrobe you will need to go casual. Think the Frye Harness boot, a distressed cowboy-inspired style, an enginner or biker boot, or even something a bit shorter and more rugged. This does not mean UGGs – these boots are not stylish, not chic and cause the wearer to lose any fashion credibility.

Kate BeckinsaleTall Boots in SummerThese pictures show how tall boots can give a bit of a city or rocker vibe. Note that the boots are not shiny, they are sturdy and solid to balance out the small garments on top.

This look isn’t for everyone, but if you have a little rockstar hidden inside you, a pair of engineer boots can look great with a denim skirt and tee, or with a vintage dress.

Tan boots with skirtCameron Diazboots and dress at CoachellaThese images show boots being worn in a more casual/bohemian manner. Again, note the boots are not made of glossy leather, have little decoration and low to no heel. The heaviness of the look compliments the simple silhouettes on top. Again this look isn’t for everyone, but if you are drawn to more eclectic styles or have a vintage-inspired wardrobe, a flat boot in tan or a light brown could really work with your summer dresses and skirts.

Related Posts:
Free International Shipping at Duo Boots
A Wide Calf Boot Update
Wardrobe Hints for Warm Climates
It’s All About the Boots
Vendor Review – Duo Boots

Last Days of Summer

Okay, it may still be eighty degrees outside, but that doesn’t mean we can saunter around in white linen and sundresses. There are a few summer pieces that can work well in transition from Summer to Fall.

I have a gorgeous skirt from Banana that I got at their outlet for a STEAL (boy, I say that a lot!). Well it’s a lovely silk, calf length, floaty and flares out at the bottom. It is a paisley of turquoise, emerald green, brown, white and celadon. You may remember the collection – this print and similar versions came in pareos, clutches, halters and even bathing suits. Well I got the skirt. Wanted the clutch, but the print was with black instead of brown, and combining the two would be a no-no.

This skirt is floaty. As soon as I tried it on in the fitting room I wanted to go on a cruise or tropical vacation. I wanted to wear this skirt with a little tank and beaded thongs (on the feet! Hahahaha!), hand in hand with my husband as we walked the beach at sunset collecting shells and sea glass.

The colors are not overly summery, but since it’s lightweight silk I know it’s days in my current season closet are numbered. Magazines may show summer skirts with tall boots and turtlenecks, but this look bothers me immensely. It’s as though your viewers are too stupid to realize that your floral chiffon sundress is not made to go with suede boots and a velvet blazer. Maybe Mary Kate and Ashley can pull off the Boho/Hobo look, but the majority of Suburban America needs to stick more to the rules of fashion.

Back to my outfit. So I am wearing the skirt, and I am wearing with a sleeveless v-neck silk sweater shell in the same turquoise as the skirt. I found the shell at Ann Taylor. Um yeah, it’s the same shell that I wore on my Black and blue day, but a different color. I am famous for buying in bulk.

On the feet are my tan thong heels from Tar-jay. Silver cuff, silver hoops. Hair straightened but with body. I took my fabu straightener/curler and gave body and some wave to my hair. If it were shellacked it would look like a newscaster or The Rachel. With just a touch of pomade on the ends, I can almost feel the seabreeze in my hair (and no, I don’t mean the astringent).

Tonight when I get home, the skirt will go to the bag for the cleaners for it’s end of season cleaning, then head to the office closet (aka last season’s wardrobe).

by the way, love the idea that this skirt is hanging off my waist, held up by my hips. May not fit next summer! If that is so, I can think of some faby crafts with this amazing fabric. Banana Republic pillow anyone?

What I Wore: Summer Breeze

Eileen Fisher orange dress with turquoise bead necklace on Alison Gary of Wardrobe Oxygen Maxwell Scott handbag review via Wardrobe Oxygen Wardrobe Oxygen outfit post featuring Eileen Fisher, Born Shoes, and Maxwell Scott handbag What I Wore Orange Eileen Fisher Linen Knit dress with yellow sandals from Born via Wardrobe Oxygen Dress: Eileen Fisher (plus version, similar with sleeves) | Sandals: Born ‘Myndy’ (similar, similar) | Bag: c/o Maxwell Scott Bags | Necklace: c/o Allison Dayton Jewelry (similar, similar) | Bracelets: cuff had forever (similar), c/o Lifetherapy, c/o Pura Vida Bracelets | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

It’s hot, it’s humid, and the last thing I want to do is wear something fitted or structured. The color of this dress from Eileen Fisher appealed to me, but the breezy fabric and loose style is brilliant for sticky thick DC summer days.  This necklace is one of the first gifted pieces of fashion I received as a blogger and still one of my favorite pieces; I love the contrast of the turquoise against the orange and I love non-metal necklace when it’s so hot out.

Maxwell Scott Bags reached out and asked if I’d like to experience a piece from their line.  I must admit I hadn’t heard of the line before their email but now I am a fan.  Maxwell Scott isn’t trying to create the next “It Bag;” all their pieces are designed to be classic, timeless, and improve with time.  Handcrafted from the finest materials sourced in Italy, Maxwell Scott bags have a 25 year warranty.  I chose the MedollaM Medium Saddlebag in brown, a bag I know I would have loved as a college kid, find chic now, and know will love for years.

UPDATE: Maxwell Scott has been kind enough to offer Wardrobe Oxygen readers 10% off their purchase. Sign up for Maxwell Scott’s newsletter (link in the middle of their homepage); then click this link and automatically get 10% deducted in the shopping basket.  Valid until the end of August 2015.

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Planning a Summer Getaway to Columbus [Sponsored]

videoMost summers Karl and I take a couples vacation to a music festival. These are long weekends where we get to enjoy our shared passion of music and have an extended Date Night. After many years going to Bonnaroo, we switched to the Forecastle Music Festival in Louisville, Kentucky. A smaller fest, it’s also one where we stay in a hotel instead of tent and have the ability to explore a cool city and enjoy its great restaurants and bars between performances. Last summer we stayed home recovering from my arm injury and Karl’s stress fracture in his foot. This year we decided we wanted a truly relaxing vacation and decided to forgo a music festival for a few in-town concerts and a long weekend as a couple to a new-to-us city.

My coworker went to college in Columbus, Ohio and for the past few years we’ve worked together I’ve heard how awesome of a city it is and I MUST visit it. Did you know Columbus is the 15th largest city in the United States? Just a few hours away, it’s a perfect weekend getaway locale. She and I were chatting about Columbus a couple months ago and I went back to my desk to see an email asking if I’d like to visit Columbus this summer and check out the city’s culinary scene. I was so excited, I called Karl right away and we immediately started planning out our getaway!

I was excited about our trip, but even more psyched after having a phone call with Joe at Experience Columbus. You know how you can talk to someone who is really passionate about a topic and it gets you excited too? That’s how it was with Joe; it’s clear he adores his city and loves sharing it with others. I explained to him that while I may be a fashion blogger, this is a couples’ weekend and I’d like to do activities Karl would also like. Every time we visit a new city, we find a restaurant that serves oysters and enjoy that as our first meal on the trip. We like checking out under-the-radar dining establishments and aren’t afraid to try unique cuisine and love catching live local music. Joe suggested The Pearl for our oysters; the place is less than two years old but highly rated and has an awesome happy hour. As for a special dining experience, he suggested we get reservations one evening at Alana’s where the food is delicious, unique, and each day Alana has a different “surprise” on the menu based off an ingredient she was inspired by that day. My Columbus-loving coworker agrees with Joe’s assessment that the North Market is a must-visit while we’re there, and we need to grab breakfast at either Katalina’s (you had me at pancake balls) or Skillet (seasonal farm to table and generous portions). Joe’s going to email me his suggestions for live music the weekend we’re in town, but also recommended Shakespeare in the Park which takes places Thursdays through Sunday. While we’ll have our car, there’s a downtown circulator bus – the CBUS that runs until midnight on weekends to make traveling from parts of the city like Short North to German Village with ease.  As for where to stay, Joe gave us a bunch of great suggestions and we decided to make reservations at The Joseph which offers free access to the Pizzuti Collection gallery with your stay.

We’ll be going in August and I’ll be writing a post that month recapping the entire weekend. Also be sure to follow me on Instagram where I’ll be capturing photos of what we see, what we do, and especially where we dine.  If you’re from or have visited Columbus I’d love to hear your recommendations! What should we see, where should we stay, and where should we dine? Thanks in advance!

Thinking about taking your own getaway to Columbus? Check out lifeincbus on Twitter and Instagram

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of lifeincbus via RhythmOne. The opinions and text are all mine.

What to Wear: Dreading a Semi Formal Summer Wedding

I have been invited to an out of town wedding. It’s outdoors, in the Texas heat, on the grass and the invitation advises us to choose our footwear carefully. The attire is semiformal. I’m a pear-shaped thirty-something who is most at home in jeans, tees and skate shoes and I like to hide my midsection the most. My bust line is large and embarrassing. I normally stick to loose fitting garments that swallow me up and my look could best be described as “tomboy” or “please don’t notice me”. To say that this is my worst nightmare is an understatement, but I’m determined to try a dress and even wedges because this is my best friend’s wedding. I’d like to spend no more than $100 on the dress and up to $50 on the shoes. Semi-formal is kind of vague to me, and all I know is that it’s just shy of prom and nicer than church clothes. Is there a list of do’s and don’ts for what counts as semiformal?

I usually pare down my Ask Allie requests, but I kept the majority of your email because I think many can relate to your feelings about formalwear (or semi-formalwear) and their figures. Even I, who loves a frock, freaks out when I have to go to an event where I need to dress up and start questioning my figure.

Semiformal is really very open-ended. You’re right, it’s nicer that most church clothes, but not a prom dress. This actually gives you a TON of options, and the ability to purchase a dress that could be worn again.

Before we get to the dress, I want to discuss what goes UNDER the dress. I have a very large bust, and it isn’t firm and perky, but I don’t call it embarrassing. But I have before… before getting a professional bra fitting. This isn’t going to Victoria’s Secret or Lane Bryant and having a college kid wrap a tape measure around your sweatshirt. It’s worth it, if you have one nearby, to visit a bra boutique or high-end department store’s lingerie department. It’s not just about size, but the bra brand, the bra shape, and type. When I found The Bra, I no longer found my bust embarrassingly big. In fact, my chest looked smaller and my whole body looked more trim. I get sized every year, and I now know what kinds of bras to get (for me, I like a molded cup because it gives lift and makes me look perky and firm without being bigger). As for the bottom half, if you don’t usually wear control garments now is NOT the time. It’s going to be hot and you will be stressed. However if you ever deal with “chub rub” consider a pair of Skimmies or Undersummers (haven’t tried but a friend highly recommends them). Not only will they stop chafing, they will help your dress drape better.

Now, on to the dress. Since you’re not usually a dress gal, I recommend buying something very simple in a fabric and color you can wear again. A solid color dresses up more easily than a print and is easier to wear to multiple events without looking like a one-trick pony. After writing this you got back to me and expressed interest in a printed dress so I added some that I felt were more classic in pattern that could be worn year-round.  Sleeveless or cap sleeves will be comfortable in the Texas heat and also look appropriate in the middle of winter for a dressy event.  I know you mentioned you like covering your arms but arms are the same size whether swathed in fabric or bare; it’s going to be hot and there’s nothing less stylish or attention-getting than looking uncomfortable. For fabrics, there’s no need to get beading, sequins or satin to be semi-formal. Your shoe, bag, and jewelry choice can take a simple matte jersey church dress and make it cocktail-appropriate.

Semi Formal Plus Size Dresses Under $100

Plus Size Semi Formal Dresses Under $100Below are dresses I found that are under $100, work with a sturdy bra, don’t show off the bust or belly, and flatter a pear shape. Not only that, all of these dresses have free shipping and great return policies so you can try more than one without regret:

  1. This pink fit and flare dress from City Chic is likely COMPLETELY out of your comfort zone but hear me out. A color can hide the figure better than all black. When you wear this, people will notice the dress, not your bust or your belly or anything else. The neckline is flattering but high enough to cover all cleavage. The sleeves are that length that works year-round and isn’t too hot for a Texas late summer. Pink is a flattering color on many skintones, giving you a glow and causing people to ask if you just got back from vacation, got a haircut, or maybe lost weight. The best way to hide yourself is to let something else take the spotlight. Let the dress speak for you. Not only that, a dress like this can handle very simple shoes and doesn’t really need jewelry.
  2. Bit more subtle, but just as festive, the Slow Dance Serenades dress from ModCloth is elegant and festive and quite versatile.  It can be worn on its own with nude, pink, or soft metallic shoes, could be glammed up with the addition of a skinny belt in pink or a sparkly or metallic finish, or made wintry with darker shoes and a pashmina wrap.
  3. This dress from London Times is black, which some question for weddings but I have never seen an issue, especially if it’s a wedding not in a house of worship. The embellished yoke at the top makes it dressy enough for the event, the fit and flare style will skim right over your midsection without drawing attention and flatter your curves, and the neckline minimizes your bust and lets you wear a traditional bra.
  4. The scallop neckline of this dress from City Chic is utterly adorable, but high enough that it won’t draw attention to your bustline. Again, the fit and flare style will minimize your midsection and balance your figure. This is a dress that can be dressed up or down and can look chic and tres French with just a simple bracelet or sparkly stud earrings or a red lip, but no need for more than one.
  5. At first glance this dress from Christopher & Banks doesn’t seem semiformal. You can see me wear it here, and none of these looks are dressy. But ponte is an amazing fabric that dresses up and down quite nicely with a switch of accessories. Add a sparkly statement necklace, a clutch, and dressier shoes and you’re wedding-ready. What’s great is this dress can be worn again for everything from church to a baby shower to a funeral to a holiday cocktail party.
  6. This dress from ASOS is made of a slinky fabric that won’t add bulk and move with you on the dancefloor. The open neckline flatters without causing you to have to purchase a new bra or show off your chest. This dress would look great with a little bit of sparkle at the ears or wrist; if you feel bold a skinny belt with sparkle would be a nice touch.
  7. This dress from ModCloth has a very flattering neckline but not too low to show off too much, and a full back to let you wear any bra you choose.  A fit and flare shape and a feminine pale pink floral pattern is perfect for a summer wedding, consider playing up the red in the dress with red shoes, or a red clutch (but not both, that would be a bit much).  Come winter you could wear this dress with black shoes and a black wrap or shrug.
  8. A wrap style dress is so flattering for a pear shape, but the neckline is often too low to feel comfortable for those with large busts. This dress from Le Bos has a higher neckline but the soft chiffon overlay keeps it feminine and romantic. Both colors are lovely and versatile and would only need a bit of sparkle at the ears or wrist with a clutch and dressy shoes to be perfection.

Shop Plus Size Semi Formal Dresses:

Outdoor Wedding-Friendly Shoes Under $60

I’m glad the invite stressed the importance of shoes; nothing will ruin a good time better than wobbling around, sinking into grass, and ruining a favorite pair of footwear.  Wedges are a brilliant choice for such an event, but don’t be afraid to consider dressy flat shoes; especially with this being an outdoor event, it won’t look wrong to keep your feet low to the ground.  Also it’s okay for such a situation to have a shoe that may at first look more office-appropriate; a peeptoe, almond toe, or sandal wedge or flat in patent leather (as long as it’s a covered wedge and not cork/wood/straw) can look quite festive.  A few shoes I found under $60 that would be great for a semi formal outdoor wedding:

  1. The BP. ‘Roxie’ wedge sandal is adorable, if I had a reason I would buy them in a heartbeat! Great reviews, and a sparkly style that will add a level of festive formality to any ensemble, but also be super cute paired with jeans for a night out.
  2. Don’t discount a sandal for such an affair.  A sparkly one will show that you understand the tone of the event but you’ll be standing tall on squishy ground.  The ‘Kelisha’ from Nina has a slight but wide heel that will keep you stable on grass, comes in three colors, and will be able to be worn again with maxi dresses and jumpsuits.
  3. Payless is a fave for budget-friendly comfortable shoes.  This peeptoe low wedge has a bit of bling on the front which makes it festive; the ivory color isn’t too bridal and would look cute with many of the floral dresses featured above.
  4. The ‘Valaria’ Wedge sandal from Nine West comes in three patent leather colors and has a very comfortable 1.75″ wedge height; on Amazon you can find some sizes and colors under $60 and no option is over $80.
  5. The ‘Franzea’ wedge sandal from Nina is sparkly but not bridal and would look great not just with your semiformal wedding guest look, but even a pair of jeans for a Girls Night Out. Two metallic shades available.
  6. A patent peeptoe wedge is a simple neutral shoe that would let your dressy frock take center stage.  The ‘Hartley’ from CL by Chinese Laundry comes in black and nude patent and receive positive reviews.
  7. While kid leather isn’t usually considered semiformal, the jeweled details and strappy style of the ‘Kaley’ ankle strap wedge from CL by Chinese Laundry makes the grade and would be a secure and comfortable choice for an outdoor wedding.
  8. Another low wedge but with wider of straps for comfort, the ‘Karaveta’ wedge from Rampage comes in two subtle metallic shades and is a shoe that can work year-round with dresses of all lengths and even pants and jeans.

Shop Flat and Wedge Semiformal Footwear:

Accessories to Complete the Semi Formal Look

Sometimes all you need is the right accessories to take a simple dress from your closet and make it semiformal.  I can’t recommend a signature or statement clutch or evening bag enough; something with a bit of sparkle or a unique pattern even when paired with a printed dress can take your look to the next level and add a festive and formal touch.  A sparkly statement or bib necklace is a great way to elevate a not-so little black dress or other dark-colored frock already hanging in your closet.  A sparkly stud earring – an oversized faux gem has a lot of power without overwhelming your look.  Below I have carousels of some great accessories I have found around the web that are budget-friendly and will take your look to the semiformal level.

Shop Budget Friendly Semiformal Jewelry:

Shop Budget Friendly Semiformal Bags:

Ask Allie: Summer Office Attire

Do you already have an article on work clothes for suffocating summers? Am already dreading summer in the South.

I wrote about office-appropriate sandals here, and casual polished summer clothes here, but I have never addressed how to dress in a professional manner come summer. Not only is the heat difficult, but you also have to deal with frigid overly air-conditioned offices. Here’s what I do to beat the heat while still looking appropriate at the office:

Click image for item details

Seems so simple… because it is! No need to tuck in a shirt, no lined trousers, and a silhouette that doesn’t cling to the majority of your body. A dress can let you go sans sleeves on your trip to the office, then easily cover up (if necessary due to dress code or air conditioning) with a cardigan you had tucked in your bag.

Not all dresses are created equal – some can be of heavy synthetic fabric lined with more synthetic fabric, and others can end up looking like a crumpled paper bag by noon. Even others would be perfect at a backyard barbeque, but are completely inappropriate in the workplace.

Cotton Dresses. Cotton is a natural choice – it’s breathable, it doesn’t cling, and will catch a refreshing breeze on a hot summer day. However, cotton can be sheer, can wrinkle and can easily look casual. A stiffer cotton – sateen, twill, cotton with a hint of Lycra, or a high quality version will hold up better throughout the day. When it comes to cotton, I usually look for a non-fitted silhouette – a swing or a-line style, or one with a seamed bodice and fuller skirt will hold up better in the heat and humidity and won’t stick to your legs. A lining can also help with cotton looking fresh, but it will make the dress hotter. A fuller style will offset the lack of breeze to keep you cool.

Shift Dresses. Be they short sleeved or sleeveless, a shift dress is a great summer piece. While it is usually tailored to a female shape, it is looser and straighter of a cut than a sheath. A shift dress in cotton, gabardine, Ponte de Roma (ponte), or even tropical weight wool can look professional, stylish, and help you beat the heat by letting there be air between you and your clothing.

Matte Jersey Dresses. Oh matte jersey, how I love you! Matte jersey won’t cling even if you’re drenched in sweat, it doesn’t show sweat, is thick enough to not need a lining, and it dries quickly. While it is a synthetic, it doesn’t seem to be as suffocating as a traditional poly/lycra blend. A matte jersey wrap dress can look quite sophisticated even on the hottest of summer days – I had a ¾ sleeve one for years that I would wear all four seasons – it was a faux wrap that wouldn’t flip up on windy days, was black so it worked with black pumps or boots in winter or nude sandals come summer, and literally no one could see me sweat.

Be wary of jersey knit dresses – they can cling to your body, leaving little to the imagination by time you hike it in the heat from parking lot or bus stop to the office. Even if you think you look professional in your home, a bit of heat and humidity can make a simple jersey dress quite scandalous.

Maxi dresses are hard to make work in many office environments – I have only done it a handful of times and each time I felt a bit too casual or flamboyant. Such dresses are best kept to those who work in a creative field.

Just because you pair a sundress with a cardigan or put a tank top or tee shirt underneath, it doesn’t mean it’s work appropriate. This means tissue-weight flippy floral cotton styles from Forever 21 and Old Navy, dresses with spaghetti or halter straps, strapless frocks, bodycon dresses, or anything that would look best with sand between your toes and a Pina Colada in your hand.

Pants are a given no matter the time of year or occasion, however many office-appropriate pants are downright torture on a hot summer day. Lining plus pockets plus heavy fabrics can mean feeling like a suffocated soggy mess by time you reach your office. There are some styles that will look professional yet still help you beat the heat.

Cropped Pants. These aren’t the cropped pants of a few years ago – this season’s cropped pants are stylish, sleek, and office appropriate. Crisp fabrics, straight lines, chic with pumps or delicate sandals, cropped pants can replace your heavy suiting trousers once the temperature rises. I have these cropped pants from Halogen that are a cotton twill that hold their shape through sitting and humidity, and come in rich colors that will give your wardrobe staples have a new life. They aren’t lined, which helps with the heat, but they still look crisp and professional. Wear pants like these with a sleeveless top and slingback peeptoes, slip on a cardigan or blazer once you enter the office.

Wide-legged Pants. An office-appropriate version of a maxi skirt, the full-legged pant has made a return to the stores, and just in time for summer.

A sailor-inspired trouser in stretch cotton twill or refined denim looks great with a boatneck sweater and statement necklace; pair with a short-sleeved blazer or a twinset for a classic look.

Fluid wide-leg, or palazzo pants have returned but this time they are sleek and more sophisticated. The leg is tailored so you don’t look like a clown, and they can easily be paired with a sleeveless silky blouse and skinny belt for a professional ensemble. While white or ivory may seem like a natural choice, such colors usually need lining and can show sweat stains. A darker color will let you breathe with just one layer; prints have also returned and a subtle Ikat or textured print can look corporate with a simple blouse or shell.

Skirts are like dresses – not every skirt will be comfortable or appropriate for the office come summertime. While I love pencil skirts in the colder months, I find such a silhouette suffocating come spring and summer. It’s also uncomfortable to have a blouse tucked into a lined skirt in the heat – three layers across your midsection can get creased, sweaty, and icky pretty fast.

Come summer, I like my skirts how I like my pants – either crisp cotton, or fluid. This season has a bunch of micro-pleated skirts – be they chiffon or jersey, such a style can look professional while still feeling breezy. Pair such a skirt with a lightweight short-sleeved sweater or cotton blazer for a work-appropriate ensemble. A-line skirts are great come summer – they don’t cling to the skin and can handle a slightly heavier fabric without feeling too hot. A crisp cotton or twill a-line skirt looks office-ready with a cotton voile blouse or a lightweight sweater set.

I don’t know why everyone wears knit tees in the summer – they cling in the heat and can make you feel pretty uncomfortable. The best bet is to choose fabrics that will float away from the body without adding bulk to your frame. A blouse in tissue-weight cotton, lightweight linen, silk, or chiffon will let your body breathe while still looking professional. Such fabrics can be transparent – instead of adding layers, consider getting an underwire camisole in black, navy, or nude to wear under such blouses. Also if you choose a darker color or a print, your underpinnings are less likely to show. Many find silk to be difficult in summer because it shows sweat – tissue-weight cotton or voile is a good alternative that can still float and breathe.

I am not much of a fan of the classic sleeveless cotton button-front shirt. Rarely do shirts of this style look good on a woman’s figure – they are too stiff in the body or else cling to the frame, they rarely flatter the arm, and the neckline usually seems too severe without sleeves. There are always exceptions, but a standard sleeveless button-front shirt can quickly look like Dowdy Soccer Mom or Parks and Planning Department Employee if not the right fabric, cut, and color.

An alternative to a blouse is the shell. A shell is like a half-shift, with a similar silhouette but ending between your waistband and mid-hip. While most any sleeveless top in a store may be called a shell, such a piece is usually of a straighter cut so that you have air between you and your garment. This year, I am seeing more shells in crisp cotton or linen – just to or just past the waistband, they look great with gathered skirts, wide-leg trousers, and crisp cropped trousers. Add a scarf or bold necklace to pull the look together.

Peasant tops are a popular choice come summer since they float away from the body and are of lightweight fabrics; problem is they rarely look professional. Even out of silk, such blouses have smocking, laces, and often have embroidery or beading which can make it look costume-y in the workplace. Keep such blouses for the weekend, or at least Casual Friday.

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Transitioning Summer Wardrobe Staples Into Fall

As I walk to work this month, I see so many missed style opportunities. September is a confusing month – one day it’s 85 degrees, the next day it’s 50. In a single city block I can pass white linen, canvas espadrilles, parkas, tall leather boots and winter gloves. How does one dress for the season without buying a specific wardrobe just for this transition period? Can you actually make your summer clothes work for fall?

While you won’t see me walking around DC in white linen pants and floral sandals, I do think a lot of summer clothing can transition beautifully into fall. The key to make this work is balance – balance of warm clothing with cool, light fabrics with heavier pieces, light summery colors and prints with darker autumnal shades.

This morning, I saw three summer pieces worn in ways that just seemed wrong for this crisp fall day. I am taking those pieces and offering a couple suggestions on how to wear them this season without sacrificing your style or looking as though you time traveled from the middle of July.

Mint skinny jeans were a wardrobe staple this past spring and summer, and such a color will be popular yet again this spring. However, this fall such a pale pastel sticks out like a sore thumb in a sea of jewel tones and autumnal hues. If you’re not ready to retire your mint green skinnies, here’s a few ways to help them transition into fall.

The less mint you see, the more it is an accent color instead of the main event. For the first outfit, I used it the same way you could with most any color of slim denim jeans – with a black blazer, striped tee, and black riding boots. This is a classic look and easy to achieve on most any budget or figure. A silk scarf in a floral print that has a hint of mint makes the jeans color purposeful and add a feminine touch to the ensemble.

For the second look, I used the soft shade as inspiration and paired with soft gray.  A “boyfriend” cardigan and lace-trimmed cami in pale gray look sweet with mint, yet not at all summery, suede booties make it clear this look is for fall, and an infinity scarf combining both colors makes the look cohesive and seasonally appropriate.

For the final look, I used a classic fall fashion color – camel.  A slouchy tunic sweater is very on trend, cozy, and sexy and makes the mint jeans look like an unexpected yet chic accent color.  A pair of tall boots in a similar color pulls the outfit together, and a print scarf adds a bit of luxe to the whole look.

With the return of grunge fashion, many a young woman has a frothy or lacy skater or babydoll dress in white or ivory. An adorable look this summer with sandals, but come September it can look inappropriate. Balancing the pale color and fabric with a tougher and heavier layer and footwear will make such a frock look quite appropriate this fall.

A denim jacket is a great layering piece for this season, and gives a Western feel to such a dress; pair with tall boots in brown or even black to reduce the amount of skin visible and make the dress feel quite Back to School. Continuing the grunge trend, pair your white dress with a leather biker jacket and engineer boots and you’ll look quite fashionable for the season.

Finally, I love the power of a long v-neck “grandfather” sweater – it will keep you warm, but also cover a good portion of the dress so it peeks out and looks less summery. A pair of tall riding boots will give a collegiate feel to the ensemble.

Florals just scream spring and summer, but you don’t have to pack them away once Labor Day arrives. The way to make them work during the colder months is to bring out the darker shades of the print and balance with more cold weather silhouettes.

In the first ensemble, I drew out the deep dark red shades with a v-neck cardigan. You could wear this sweater over a simple camisole or a blouse; button the cardigan all the way up and cinch with a leopard belt for a subtle hint of pattern mixing and to also incorporate a seasonal print. A pair of brown closed-toe pumps will continue the autumnal feel.

A long sleeved, high neck blouse is something that would never be worn in summer, so it makes the skirt look purposeful during this season. Again, I incorporated a leopard print which is hot for this fall, showing you are familiar with current trends and wearing the floral skirt in a purposeful manner.

Finally, tall boots are always a quick way to make a garment look appropriate for fall. A lighter brown color won’t overwhelm the soft floral; a simple fitted sweater in one of the darker shades in the skirt balances the whole look.

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Sample SAHM Capsule Wardrobe for Summer

Some of you have requested it, and some of you have asked for it on forums (I see you BabyCenter peeps and welcome you to my blog!). I created a SAHM capsule wardrobe previously, but here’s an update for the warmer months of the year.

I don’t like a lot of prints most of the time – they are too memorable to wear often, and they look dated more quickly. However, my opinion changes for summer and for a few reasons:

  • They hide sweat and stains nicely
  • They are distracting during a season when so many silhouettes are fitted and shrunken

A solid blue tank can look cheap and dumpy if you have curves or if it gets washed too much, a printed tank creates an optical illusion, and also looks more expensive. A pair of solid capris can be a bit too harsh in summer and the thin fabric may show more than you like; a printed pair camouflages curves, adds a bit of light and if you choose wisely, a print can actually fade nicely with regular washings (I’m partial to light-background retro florals, Ikat prints, and dots). A print can also dress up and down nicely with a quick change of accessories.

I have a lot of dresses in this capsule, and it’s because I find them to be more wearable, more simple, and more comfortable in summer than skirts and separates. While you can find jersey dresses anywhere, they can cling with sweat and humidity if too thin. I’m partial to cotton, chambray, linen and silk (and blends with these two fabrics). Such fabrics dry quickly, catch the slightest breeze, float away from the body and don’t cling. If you choose a style with a bit fuller of a skirt (even a-line) that comes to knee or lower, you can still chase after your toddler and crawl under a table to capture a lost sippy cup. My secret for summer dresses? Bike shorts. Get a pair of moisture-wicking bike shorts in a solid color, and they will prevent chafing as well as provide modesty.

Social events in the summer are never as dressy as those in the colder months; you can get away with a night out with the girls in a pair of white jeans and an interesting top; leather sandals with some metal detail will be a dressy enough shoe and is just as comfortable as cheap flip flops. For summer weddings, a dress in a silk or linen blend paired with wedge or heeled sandals and an interesting necklace will be lovely, and such pieces can be incorporated into your daily wardrobe.

Switching out black accessories for tan makes most everything look more summery. This is a great way to make winter staples (chambray shirts, darker colored knits) look seasonably appropriate. Not only that, a tan bag doesn’t have to be stowed away come September. I always prefer leather bags over fabric because they can be cleaned and conditioned, and look good with a bit of wear. Fabric bags can be very hard to clean, and a stained tote can really ruin your overall look. A bag with a shoulder strap as well as a crossbody strap means you can sling it over your body when your hands are full, or carry it on your shoulder or the crook of your elbow if in a rush or have a little one on your back.

Shorts are terrifying for most women, but these days there’s more than 2” inseams and skintight cutoffs. Last summer I lived in two pairs of shorts – weathered denim and a pair of white chinos. With my curves, I find it best to size up with shorts – this way you get less creasing with sitting, less VPL, they’re more comfortable, and aren’t fitted on the thighs. I also like to cuff them once to get a better length on me – petites are too petite, regulars are too long; in denim and chino a single cuff isn’t a bad thing. When it comes to denim, I encourage a more distressed look so you have a modern and hip look to your outfits. Summer is the time for prints, and for a more distressed or boho feel to your wardrobe. Very dark denim shorts and longer denim shorts with a very severe cuff can look dated and dowdy. Last summer I bought a pair of denim shorts at Target and self-distressed them. Check out this post that has many tips on how to DIY denim. But once you get over your shorts fear, you’ll find they can be as flattering as skirts. If need be, take them to a tailor – a great fitting pair of shorts is worth the trouble. White is a great summer neutral and in denim or heavy chino they are relatively opaque. If you fear white, consider olive (military inspiration is all over this season’s fashion), or a signature color (I have a pair of faded orange chino shorts I love and pair with everything from hot pink to Breton stripes to a simple white v-neck).

It may seem too hot for jeans, but often you are spending time inside instead of out. Loose boyfriend jeans that cuff above the ankle bone are lighter weight denim, have some ventilation with distressing, and are a trendy way to update simple tee shirts and tanks. White jeans are a great way to dress up knit tops for the evening or even for a daytime event like brunch or a casual shower.

Come summer, I prefer beaded necklaces to metal. Costume jewelry doesn’t play nice with sweat – it will tarnish, peel, and often irritate your skin. Not only that, it gets hot when the sun beats down on it. You can find beaded necklaces for cheap, be it at craft shows, Etsy, big box discount shops, or the teeny-bopper jewelry kiosk in your mall.

Stick to a single color story and aesthetic for the season so pieces mix and match more easily. As you can see with the first collection, it’s black, white, and rusty orange shades. The second one, it’s black and ivory with aqua and yellow.  For some, it may be shades of blue, for others it may be tans and browns. I recommend at least one pop of color for variety, and consider summer accessories to switch things up.

Speaking of accessories, I am all for signature sunglasses. A pair that is well-made, comfortable for long periods of time, and on trend will improve all outfits. I’m glad oversized Ray-Bans are back in style, I have a gold pair and a black pair; my sister is more the type to wear oversized plastic frames and my mom has been rocking the same black plastic Fendi frames for a few years and they still look quite chic.

For shoes, it’s tempting to spend all summer in $2 Old Navy flip flops, but I highly recommend investing in at least one pair of leather sandals – they’re just as or more comfortable and add a level of sophistication and style to your casual outfits. Sandals in a skin color with a wedge or slight heel can be worn with pants, dresses, skirts, and even shorts of all lengths and add a bit of a dressy vibe. A pair of canvas shoes, be they Keds, Chucks, or TOMS are perfect for mulch playgrounds, walking to the farmer’s market, or running errands around town while keeping you cool.

Sunglasses and shoes are two accessories you can find mega cheap come summer (hello Old Navy flip flops) but the quickest way to ruin your style. Buy the cheap v-neck tee shirt (hello Old Navy Vintage V-necks) but buy the best quality your budget can afford for sandals and shades and you will look more polished, trend aware, and sophisticated.

Finally, a comment to all – do not sacrifice comfort because you have an issue with your limbs.  Your arms, your legs, we all find them to not be toned enough, too veiny, too soft, too pale, to lumpy, too something.  No one is analyzing your arms and legs as much as you are.  While there are lovely cropped pants, below-knee skirts, and floaty sleeved tops out there, sometimes you just need to wear some shorts or a sleeveless top.  You will look more conspicuous sweating in an elbow-sleeve top and cropped pants than having fun and living life with exposed arms and legs.  Live your life, enjoy yourself, and dress the part!

Other posts you may find helpful:

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Karen Kane: Summer of Color Promotion

Karen Kane knows how to make maxi dresses – I have this same dress in black and adore it. When Karen Kane contacted me to let me know that they were having their three best sellers for summer available in some new colors, I knew I had to get one! They were kind enough to send me their Julie Maxi Dress in Dark Coral, which is begging to be worn on my annual trip to Rehoboth Beach or to a destination wedding! Karen Kane also has their Pleated Maxi Dress and Buttoned Tie-Top also available in limited edition summer colors (as well as classic black and white).

Want your own Julie Maxi Dress or any of the three styles mentioned? Karen Kane is offering 30% off to all Wardrobe Oxygen readers with the code WARDROBEOXYGEN30!

Rarely can you get a discount on brand-new limited edition items at Karen Kane so this is an awesome deal (and be sure to visit Ebates first and get 5% cash back on your purchase!).

Happy shopping!

Note: The discount code only works on the Buttoned Tie-Top, Pleated Maxi Dress and Julie Maxi Dress (links to those items in post).

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Summer Sartorial Rules for Corporate America

These days it can be confusing when trying to dress for the office. With retailers showing “secretary” dresses that hardly cover one’s behind, painted-on pants paired with blazers, and cleavage-baring blouses with suits, you wonder what actually is acceptable these days. Add to this a sweltering hot summer, and one could easily stray in the wrong sartorial direction. From one corporate employee to another, here’s some rules on summer office fashion that apply to you whether you’re a cubicle dweller or reside in the corner office.

Even if they’re metallic or beaded, they’re still flip flops. And if they’re flip flops, they don’t belong in the office. Period.

A cardigan doesn’t make a strapless dress work-appropriate. Seriously ladies, we can still tell it is strapless. This also goes for low-cut dresses, spaghetti straps, and every other dress more appropriate for happy hour on the terrace than the boardroom.

If I couldn’t wear spaghetti straps when working at the mall, you can’t wear them to the office. When I worked in apparel, even at trendy companies like Express, we had a dress code. That dress code restricted many things like sneakers, but it also restricted revealing attire such as spaghetti straps. If I couldn’t be a 21-year old in Express with spaghetti straps, you sure as heck shouldn’t be an adult with them at work. It’s just not professional.

Even if your bra strap is the same color as your tank, it doesn’t make it invisible. A peach racerback tank with peach bra straps is still a shirt exposing bra straps. A navy x-back sundress with a navy traditional bra is still a dress exposing your lingerie. I commend your attempt, but it’s still not appropriate for the office.

Hemlines shouldn’t rise with the temperature. Your skirt should be near your knee, not near your rear. If you can’t bend down to pick up your pen or sit on a standard chair without fear of flashing, your skirt is too short.

A hoodie is not an appropriate layer for offices that blast the A/C. Even if it’s cashmere, if it zips up the front, has two pockets and a hood, it’s not professional looking. Switch to a cardigan, pashmina, or soft jacket.

White is almost always transparent. I personally think thin white cotton and twill and light-colored linen should not be worn to the office, but if you do, wear with skin-colored seamless undergarments. No lace, no bows, no stripes, and not even sheer (the better to see the cotton crotch and waistband, my dear). If it’s a dress, wear a slip, if in doubt, don’t wear it to work.

Cleavage isn’t appropriate, no matter the season. Somehow, those who understand office attire let everything literally hang out come summer. Low-cut tanks, deep Vs on wrap dresses, strapless tops under cardigans… and none of it is appropriate for the office. If you wouldn’t show your décolleté in December, you also shouldn’t in July.

Dress code still applies. If it’s business casual, that means nice pants and skirts with refined tops or a simple dress. It does not mean chino Bermudas, seersucker sundresses with flip flops, logoed tee shirts with capris, tropical printed maxis with beaded sandals, or super-short cotton skirts with ribbed tanks. This is your office, not a tiki bar. You can beat the heat without dressing for Margaritaville.

Dress for respect. Again, this is your place of work. This is how you pay your rent, buy groceries and gas, and where you should be striving to move up the corporate ladder. Dress the part, no matter how hot it is outside.

For some suggestions on appropriate office attire, please visit:

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Ask Allie: Commuter Shoes for Summer

I have to wear comfortable shoes during my daily commute, as I walk 20+ minutes each way. Okay looking shoes/boots are easy enough to find for the cold winter months but I’m at a loss for summer. Flip flops aren’t an option as I have high arches and can’t stand feeling of something between toes. Gym shoes are too dorky. Any ideas?

I am so glad to find a fellow woman who won’t wear flip flops on her commute. Not only do they not provide arch support and can be deadly on slick sidewalks (and feel weird between the toes), but they are just plain tacky looking with your corporate attire. Keep the flip flops to the backyard barbecues and beaches!

I also am anti-the beaten-down ballet flats; this morning when walking to get coffee, I overheard two women discussing their commuting shoes. A woman said she loved ballet flats from Gap, but admitted she was on her fifth pair in two years because they got, “Super gross, super fast.” I’m glad that she would replace them once they got “gross,” but think it would make more sense to invest in a higher-quality shoe that could survive more than a couple months. There are great quality summer shoes out there with comfort and arch support, here’s a few that have been on my radar:

I like that this pair of Ecco shoes isn’t your typical ballet flat which is free of structure and support. This shoe has a proper sole and a tiny bit of a heel to put your foot in a more comfortable position. Leopard is an unexpected neutral that will go with almost everything in your closet. This shoe also comes in solid colors.

I have a pair of Cole Haan shoes with Nike Air Technology and can attest to the fact that they are really comfortable, wearable for long spans of time, and great for walking. These adorable bow flats from Cole Haan have miles of style and great reviews for comfort when walking. While black is a safe bet, I am partial to the red for a fun pop of color on your commute.

A driving moc or loafer is always a classic choice, and looks fresh with everything from menswear-inspired trousers to flippy sundresses. I love the orange color, which screams summer and would also look smart come the weekend with twill shorts or cropped pants.

When I was pregnant, I had a flat from Naturalizer very similar to these. They were utterly amazing – so supportive, comfortable, and fit right out of the box. These may not be the most chic of flats, but your feet will be happy by time you finish your walk and the color is subtle enough to not destroy the look of your ensemble.

I own these sandals and adore them. They are so comfortable, they have become my sightseeing shoe and even wear them when attending concerts when I know I will be standing the whole time. While they have an ankle strap, once you wear them twice you don’t need to unfasten to get on and off, which makes it easy for commuting. I also like the covered toe, which will keep your feet clean and your pedicure intact when walking down city streets.

Very similar to the Ventura, but with a different heel or sole. I love that this shoe comes in widths so you can ensure a comfortable fit from the get-go.

Great selection of colors, great reviews on comfort and the ability to walk for miles in them. I like the adjustable straps for a custom fit, and love that they are under $100.

Do you have a favorite commuting or walking shoe?  Please share in the comments!

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Unexpected “Staples” for a Summer (and beyond) Wardrobe

Yes, there are the staples. But everyone needs to add to their wardrobe to fit their lifestyle, personality and climate. Below are a few tried and true additions that seem to work with many women I have met and interacted with across the country, no matter their age or figure:

1. White jeans. White jeans are a whole other beast from traditional jeans. Though they are as easy to slip on and feel the same, adding white dresses up and polishes the simplest tops and tees in the summer. White jeans are dressier than denim, and are perfect for those in-between social situations like evening outdoor parties, concert in the park, going to a restaurant or bar for happy hour. White jeans look smashing with black, but also add pop to red, turquoise, cobalt, emerald, yellow and many other brights and sorbet shades.

Try switching out your jeans or khakis for white jeans and you’ll see it adds newness to your traditional pieces. Make sure they are of heavy denim that holds up nicely, doesn’t show through and has simple pockets so they can double for pants.

Winter white and off-white jeans can look smashing come winter as well – try pairing them with a black turtleneck or a chunky tan sweater and boots.

2. Animal-print shoes. Animal print is the unexpected neutral. Black turtleneck and jeans is suddenly chic with leopard-print ballet flats. You have a dress in an odd color and don’t know what color shoe to pair it with? How about a cheetah-print pump? A simple black suit goes from conservative to creative with zebra-print pony hair mules.

Styles come and go, but animal prints seem to stay in style if they are subtle. Currently I have a pair of cheetah peep toe heels that get more wear than any of the black, brown or tan shoes in my closet. Since they are in a classic shape, they can fit in my wardrobe for years to come.

3. A Casual Dress. Especially in the warmer months, nothing is easier than slipping on a dress to be about town. This is the season to get them, because cute casual dresses are showing up at every department store, boutique and big box retailer in the states at every price range and size. Feel like bumming it today? You can still be as comfy as you were in your nightgown, but look polished in a great cotton or knit dress. In summer, pair with ballet flats or sandals; come winter slip on some tall boots with your dress for ease and style.

This summer I am loving the tee shirt dress, but wrap styles are always a sure-fire way to show off your feminine shape and be comfortable as well. A dress with cap or short sleeves can easily transition in to the cooler months, a shift style in a sturdy fabric can often be paired with a button-down shirt or turtleneck to make it winter-worthy.

Solids will be more versatile from season to season as well as from day to evening, they are usually more flattering. Find a fabric that has a nice drape, doesn’t cling and doesn’t show everything underneath. A dress right to the knees is a good length on most every frame.

4. A large Square Silk Scarf. I have tried over the years to be the chic woman with a scarf. I am not the type who can knot it so casually at the throat or toss over a sweater. However, I have a scarf or two that get tons of action in my wardrobe.

A few years ago, my sister traveled to London and brought me back a scarf from Liberty – it’s a pomegranate color with oval dots in ivory, gray and candy pink. I was immediately in love with the pattern and the colors, but wondered if I could really get use out of it as that I am more an artsy/funky style of dresser and not the chic elegant scarf-type. Boy was I wrong! I take that scarf on every vacation, and wear it at least once a month. I tie my hair back with it like a headband, I have worn it tied in a knot over a low ponytail, and even like a bandanna in the summertime. I have tied it around my neck with a collared shirt, worn it as a belt, and have knotted it off a belt loop or purse strap for a bit of flair. The bigger the square the more versatile (if it’s big enough it can double as a halter top on warm days or made into a triangle and tied at the waist to accent a simple dress or over trousers or jeans). This weekend at the beach, I wore a simple black tank and jeans, but made the pieces an outfit by knotting my Liberty scarf at a belt loop, having that bit of color and my personality jazz up the ensemble. You will be amazed how often you grab this item to add color and pizzazz to a simple outfit. Make sure it fits your personality and has colors that compliment your current wardrobe.

5. A Great Tote Bag. Be it a traditional L.L. Bean Boat and Tote, a simple black leather item, or a hand-made number you picked up on a world travel, a tote will be a welcome addition to your bag arsenal.

When I say tote, I am not meaning the free faux Boat and Tote you received at a conference, the one you got for making a donation to public television, the one you bought for 50 cents at the grocery, or one of those canvas one from Michael’s that can be decorated with a puffy paint pen or a bedazzler. This tote has structure, substance, style. It fits comfortably over your shoulder, and doesn’t hang to your knees. It has a zipper or flap on top to keep your items safe. It’s clean and is in a style and color that compliments your current personal style. It has a sturdy bottom so water bottles and the such can sit up, and everything doesn’t drop to the center, ruining the shape of the bag. It’s not so big that you can put a weekend’s worth of clothing in it, but it’s big enough for a small water bottle, a book, a cardigan or shawl, a camera and your usually purse necessities. This tote is in place of your purse (not in conjunction) for sightseeing, field trips, long days away from home. In conjunction with your purse, it’s your plane carryon. It works as your bag for the pool or beach (if you don’t stuff your towel in it) and holds small purchases and kids snacks and toys on day trips.

Nothing is more unsightly than a stained and overstuffed bag, a tote will ensure you don’t end up using your purse like… well like a tote. I replace my purse (taking my wallet and purse contents with me, the smaller items in a cosmetic bag to keep them organized) for days at the outlets, on sightseeing, to the pool, the park. Anyplace where I will need more than my traditional purse contents, I make the switch. When not in use, the tote is empty and at the ready. For a flight, I put in it reading material, a pashmina, even my slim laptop.

Too often we collect bags yet never have the right one for the right occasion. Consider donating those random free totes and investing in one good one that will withstand a beating and time and look as chic as the rest of your wardrobe. Consider a style that is a darker color to not show stains, and one of a sturdy fabric that can deal with being stuffed under airplane seats and tossed in the back of SUVs.

Scarf and toe from Nordstrom, jeans by Joe’s Jeans, shoes by J. Crew, dress by J. Jill

Summer Office Wear – Beating the Heat with Professionalism

When the temps and humidity rise, the last thing you want to do is wiggle into a crisp button-front shirt or shrug into a tailored blazer or lined suiting trousers. How to stay polished at the office when it’s the peak of summer outside? My go-to look is a breezy blouse. Below I share ways to style such a blouse; all pieces featured in this post are under $100.

summer office wear silk top ankle pantsShop Summer Office Blouses:

A drapey or fuller blouse in a breezy fabric like chiffon, challis, crepe, or silk feels great on a hot summer day but if styled incorrectly can add bulk to the body and also give off more of a pajama or loungewear vibe. Styling such a top with a pair of crisp and trim trousers balances the volume and adds a professional touch. While it may feel too hot for closed-toe shoes, such a choice clearly makes the outfit officewear. Consider commuting in a pair of sandals and slipping on the pumps once you arrive at your air conditioned destination.

Shop Straight Pants for the Office:

A drapey pair of pants (joggers, harem pants, pleated crops, culottes) can also work if you tuck in your top or choose a more fitted top. Again, your shoes determine if this outfit is for weekend or the workplace; a pump, mule, or slide with a heel will add a level of formality to an outfit with a lot of volume.

summer office fashion loose pants blouseShop Loose or Slouchy Pants for the Office:

A blouse in a thin fabric can tuck in nicely without adding too much volume. Pairing with a pair of wider leg trousers also in a fabric that drapes (linen, poly blends, rayon, tencel) works if you choose accessories to temper the volume. Tucking in the blouse shows the figure; consider adding a belt with a bit of shine to better enhance the figure and also add polish. A pendant necklace holds down the blouse, again showing the figure. A flat shoe keeps you grounded; while it may be tempting to throw on a pair of flip flops or even leather thongs, your shoe with such an outfit determines if the look is good for a resort or an office. Sandals with wider straps in polished leather or a metallic, slides with soles to match, and pointed toe flats are all great choices. Even if your outfit is made of linen, it’s important to iron or steam your look for the office. There is a clear difference between creases from the car or office chair and rumpled fabric from lack of care.

office fashion cropped pantsShop Summer Office Wear Under $100:

No matter the heat, there is never an excuse for exposing lingerie or too much skin when at the office. While sleeveless tops are acceptable in many office environments, racerback, tanks, spaghetti straps, halter necks and strapless tops and dresses are not appropriate, even if you attempt to cover with a cardigan. Crop tops, exposed backs, and cutouts are not for the office. Check our reflection when standing in front of a window or light source and if you’re exposing too much, consider a slip (I love this one, it doesn’t add too much warmth in the summer and works with most every piece in my wardrobe).