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Swimwear for Large Busts and Soft Bellies

Wardrobe Oxygen: Swimwear for Large Busts and Soft BelliesAround this time of year, I am bombarded with reader questions on where to find swimwear to flatter their body. While one can find a triangle bikini anywhere from Walmart to Saks, it’s harder to find swimwear for a woman with curves. As a woman with a large bust and a soft tummy, I have a few recommendations for bathing suits that control the midsection and/or support and properly cover a large chest.

Wardrobe Oxygen: Swimwear for Large Busts and Soft Bellies

Aerin Rose
Aerin Rose was kind enough to send me their “Butterfly 335” suit for review and I have to say I am highly impressed. Not only are these swimsuits sized like bras (cup-sizes B through G and band sizes 32 through 44), but they also have shirred tummy control bodices to whittle the waistline. My tummy looked firm while I felt comfortable, and my breasts were well covered and supported in the flattering halter top. Learn more about Aerin Rose on their Facebook page and shop for their bra-sized swimwear here.

Wardrobe Oxygen: Swimwear for Large Busts and Soft Bellies

I wrote about Swimspot here, and I still agree that Swimspot offers attractive swimwear for large busts. They have fit specialists who will work with you to find the perfect suit for your specific figure. When I worked with them last year, they suggested the Athena Maldives Halter One-Piece for me; I still find it flattering, supportive, and sexy while properly covering and containing my bust and smoothing my middle. All Athena swimsuits have a Slim-Power lining to smooth the tummy, and their Support Group line offers sizes 32D – 38FFG. They also carry Next Swimwear which is a brand for the woman who has a larger bust and desires support during water activities – their Stand Up top has floating underwires and a racer back to keep your bust in place while surfing, swimming, or taking part in any other water activity.

Wardrobe Oxygen: Swimwear for Large Busts and Soft Bellies

Lands’ End
You didn’t expect me to write a post about swimwear and not mention Lands’ End, did you? Lands’ End offer suits up to a DDD cup and I have found them to truly be supportive. Their fabulous Beach Living swimsuit collection has many tops and suits made for large busts including bikini tops.

Lands’ End also has Slender Suits which slim the middle without binding. Their Sweetheart One-Piece Slender Suit is elegant, classic, has soft cups to support the bust, and Slendertex® fabric to control the midsection.

Wardrobe Oxygen: Swimwear for Large Busts and Soft Bellies

To use SPANX‘s word, Bra-llelujah, they now carry swimwear! This is a perfect fit for SPANX, who has already mastered not only control garments, but supportive yet comfortable bras. Their Bra-llelujah! ® One-Piece is a classic style with underwire cups and adjustable straps – not only does is come in bra sizes (up to 18 D/DD) to properly support the bust, it also sucks in the tummy with the power of SPANX. Their Blue Nile suit is feminine, flirty, and comes in sizes up to a 16D/DD with all the control you’d expect from the brand.

Bare Necessities
Bare Necessities is one of the sites I go to for control garments and bras to fit my large bust, it’s also a site I turn to when looking for swimwear. Many of the lingerie brands that cater to curves also carry swimwear (Freya, Fantasie, Chantelle) and Bare Necessities carries them.

As for tummy control, Bare Necessities carries the classics like Miraclesuit® and Magicsuit®, they also carry control swimwear from Amoressa and Roxanne.

Cacique is a great resource for larger sizes of bras, and they are also a great resource for larger sizes of swimwear, offering styles up to an H cup. Cacique carries one-piece styles, separates, and also Miraclesuit® for control swimwear.

My Personal Swimwear Tips:
  • Skirts emphasize, they don’t hide. Skirts on swimsuits work in the same manner as a tunic or muumuu – they may cover, but they don’t fool anyone. A skirt is a great choice for modesty or a retro feel, but you’d do better with strategic shirring or a flattering leg opening to make your body look not only smaller but also younger.
  • Buy a size smaller than what you wear in clothes. Unless otherwise specified (Miraclesuit® often has specific fit tips, always read customer reviews), bathing suits stretch. What seems to be a great fit when dry can end up with a saggy rear and exposed busom come a dip in the pool.
  • Buy a cup size larger than necessary. Unless it is underwire and bra-styled, going up a cup size will give you additional coverage. When I was a D cup, I would always buy the DD cup style from J. Crew – it still fit great, but gave me a bit more security under the arms and between the breasts.
  • Don’t machine wash your swimwear. Not only are you dealing with a delicate synthetic fabric full of Lycra and compression materials, it is a fabric being beaten with salt, chlorine, sand, and concrete. Baby your swimsuit and it will keep its shape, elasticity, color, and fit for more than a season. Products like Summer Solutions will extend the life of your suit and remove everything from chlorine to sunscreen without fading or residue.

Where do you like to shop for swimwear?  What swimsuit brands have you found that flatter, support, and control curves?

Note: I did receive free product from No Show Active Top and Aerin Rose, but the choice to write this post is my own and all options are also my own.

Reader Question – Shopping for Swimwear

Reader Laurie asked:

I am wondering where you shop for swimwear. I have a body type very similar, although I’ve got quite a few years on you (55). I am in decent shape, would like a tank suit with medium high cut legs, but need a D cup underwire, if possible, or at the very least, good support for the girls. I don’t want to look 18 but I also don’t want to look 80 – difficult to find that middle ground. Any suggestions?

Hey Laurie:

Swimsuit shopping can be one of the most horrific experiences for a woman. Suits that have proper support often make one look heavier and older than reality, and cute suits usually don’t have the proper fabric or cut to flatter anyone but a pre-teen. As with any purchase, I recommend going for quality with a swimsuit so it fits, flatters, and maintains its shape and condition after many seasons in the sun, sand and chlorine.

My favorite place for swimwear is Lands End. They have a really extensive collection; you can shop by body type (minimize shoulders and bust, tummy control, minimize hips and thighs, plus size, petite, tall, maternity, even mastectomy suits) or by cut (leg height, bra type silhouette). I bought one of their faille tankinis in 2002 for a trip to Jamaica and that suit still fits, has maintained its shape and elasticity and also the color. Can’t say that for many suits these days!

I love this adjustable bandeau swim top from Lands End; it can be strapless, halter, or regular straps. The side rouching is adjustable so you can have a gathered top or more of a swim dress. UPF 50 swim protection and specially made for a D-cup figure. This is part of a mix and match line so you can easily find a bottom that flatters your figure. Black is a safe bet, but I think a color can be more fun and less looking like “I wear black because I don’t like my body.” Try a hot pink or aqua for a pretty yet not teeny-bopper hue.

How about a custom suit? This halter tank can be made by Lands End to your specifications. I am adoring the Coastal Green color too!

Another place I have had luck at is the store Everything But Water. You can shop by designer, silhouette or even D-cup online, and I have found the stores to have a very good selection year-round. This pretty black one-piece by Christina with a flower design is quite elegant.

In the past I have found many cute suits from J. Crew, however this year their D-cup line has dwindled to boring one-pieces and a handful of bikini tops. Pretty unfortunate and surprising as that so many companies are starting to see the need for the not-your-average-size suit.

I have been pleased with the suits at Athleta. Known as a place to buy activewear, Athleta also has a large selection of street wear and swimsuits that are great for kayaking, or even lounging at the pool.

I love Athleta’s halter one-piece. Simple, elegant, flattering and made for the larger busted woman with a floating underwire and shirring. Their quality is awesome; a suit like this can give you years of wear.

Hope this helps, good luck with your search!

Swimsuit Review: Looking to Flatter my Large Bust and Soft Curves

It’s the time of year for buying swimsuits. Last year I decided to make do with what I had – my Lands’ End paisley bikini and a turquoise halter one-piece that was gifted to me eons ago that is showing its wear.

Bad move, Allie.

While the bikini wasn’t bad, my body has changed over the years and it’s just not as cute as it was. And while I’m all about a fun and colorful bathing suit, I just don’t think my personal style is pink paisley. I’m all about rocking a fatkini and wearing what you like no matter your shape or size, but as a 41 year old woman who had a baby, nursed that baby for over two years, and doesn’t consider the gym her home away from home I don’t feel comfortable without a bit of support and suckage. Before stock is depleted and I end up buying out of desperation instead of getting what I want, I started ordering from a few places that have brands that cater to large busts and soft curves.  I’m sharing photos of me in these suits, be kind and forgive me for a messy closet!


I first headed to Nordstrom because I had a $20 Nordstrom Note that was burning a hole in my wallet and I know I can take my time trying and return shipping is free.  It’s nice to have time to try it, then try it again a week later when you’re in a better mood or you’re less bloated or you now have a cute coverup to match it with.

Magicsuit® ‘Harper’ Wrap Effect One-Piece

Magicsuit 'Harper' Wrap Effect One-PieceEmerson is turning into a fish and I need a one-piece to keep up with her. I’d also like a suit that can do a few laps while looking sassy. The Harper from Magicsuit has underwire support and tummy-control plus some strategic wrapping to whittle the waist. I liked that the straps looked thinner which made it appear less matronly, and I liked that those straps were adjustable. Available in Emerald and Guava at the time of order, I went with the green. It said to order a size up so I got a 16 against my better judgement.  As an FYI, the links are not for Nordstrom but instead Zappos because the suit currently sold out.

This bathing suit looks like the bathing suit that all overweight moms across America wear to the local pool. The gathered fabric only added bulk, the underwires didn’t do much to support and only made my large bust look super droopy and deflated. The top at the bust kept flipping over exposing the nude colored lining. It was also too long in the torso; most hid in the front with the gathers but the back looked especially obvious and the seat didn’t fit well. I think a 14 would have been better for fit but this bathing suit wasn’t anything to write home about (especially considering it’s $160 at Nordstrom and $156 at Zappos) so back in the box it went.

Miraclesuit® ‘Basic’ Swim Briefs (shown with Freya ‘Pier’ Halter Swim Top)

Miraclesuit 'Basic' Swim Briefs shown with Freya 'Pier' Halter Swim TopI already own the Freya Pier Halter Swim Top (36F) and I love it. It’s cute, but not twee, it fits great, and it makes my bust look amazing. I’ve worn it with a Lands’ End bottom in a deep purple but that bottom never fit well. I figured if all the other bathing suits didn’t work at least I could rock this simple black bottom with the top I already own. I ordered the Miraclesuit ‘Basic’ Swim Briefs in a 14.

This swim bottom is… fine. I think a 12 would have cut into my legs too much. However, because I am petite this is too high waisted to the point that the waistband keeps folding over when I move. But it does smooth the belly without looking weird, it’s not too tight, it doesn’t have matronly legholes but not so high-cut things are falling out. It’s a good basic bottom for those who have found a great top elsewhere (and are also over 5’4″).

Bare Necessities

Bare Necessities is my favorite place on the Internet for underpinnings and swimwear. With an extensive size range and selection and plenty of promo codes, it’s usually the first place I go for bras, shapewear, and swimsuits. The customer reviews are truly helpful and they have swimwear brands that not only come in cup size, but specialize in larger busts.  I actually found more suits than I had money to try; these are the ones I ordered:

Fantasie Tie-Side Boyshort Swim Bottom and Balconette Swim Top in Kuranda/Jungle

Fantasie Tie-Side Boyshort Swim Bottom and Balconette Swim Top in KurandaI ordered the bottom in L and the top in 36F and it was a perfect fit. Emerson didn’t like this suit, but Karl’s eyes popped out when he saw it. It’s fun, it’s sassy, it’s sexy, it’s age appropriate without being frumpy. I liked the shape of the swim bottom – high enough to hold in my tummy but not so high it looks weird. The side ties made a lower rise leg opening look stylish. The top fit like a bra: it was supportive, it separated, and it held everything in place as I jumped around and pretended to be bodysurfing on my bed. Thing is… I don’t NEED this suit. I have the dotted bikini top, what I really need is a suit (one or two-piece) that is more durable and appropriate for swim lessons and laps at the indoor pool. So it’s back in the box but if I suddenly had a tropical vacation on the books or won the lottery I’d reorder this set.

Fantasie San Marino Swimsuit

Fantasie San Marino SwimsuitI ordered a 38F. I am not sure why I ordered a 38 instead of a 36. This bathing suit was too big. It was too long, the straps in these photos were shortened as much as possible, and the underwire did absolutely nothing to support or flatter my bust. Also the color did nothing for me. Maybe if it was a different print and maybe if I went with a smaller size but I fear it would still be too long in the torso and make my breasts look older and saggier than they already are.

Fantasie Deep Gathered Brief Bottom and Balconette Swim Top in Bora Bora/Amethyst Rose

Fantasie Deep Gathered Brief Bottom and Balconette Swim Top in Bora Bora Amethyst RoseAgain I ordered the bottom in L and the top in 36F. While the top has the same name as the jungle-print one, this one has molded cups. The bottom was a simple traditional brief without a lot of frou-frou (I don’t know if it’s my size but I didn’t see a lot of gathering going on). In theory, with these details I should have loved this suit. I wear molded cup bras and I like bathing suits without gadgets and frills.  I also love this color.  But it just didn’t excite me.  With a bust of my size and my short stature this molded cup type of top overwhelmed me and made me feel like they were too big, too pronounced, too lifted, and solid like a suit of armor.  However, this bikini top surely did lift and support!

Pour Moi Splash Control Brief Swim Bottom

Eh, it was $29, and though it had a couple ruffles on each hip it was pretty basic and it was black and I figured I could wear it with my Freya bikini top.  There are no pictures because this bottom was so ill-fitting I immediately pulled it off and threw it across the room.  These are the kinds of bathing suit pieces that make women hate their bodies.  I ordered a UK 18 (US 12, but the measurements matched me).  The fabric was stiff, the elastic hard and hurt.  It cut into my rear, cut where my legs join my body, dipped so low in the front when I bent over my belly spilled over the top, yet in the back it folded over because it was so high.  I’m glad it was the last piece I tried on; if it was the first I may have given up and not even tried the other pieces, it was so awful.

I may have reviewed some pretty expensive bathing suits in this post, but this is something that is make or break when it comes to confidence at the pool, the beach, or even the sprinkler in your backyard.  When you wear something that fits and flatters, your posture improves and you walk differently.  Also, if you purchase quality and something that is good to your body, you’re likely to wear it more often and it’s likely to last more than a season, reducing the cost per wear.  Heck, the Lands’ End bikini I am replacing cost me over $100, but is three years old and still in perfect condition.  It is me that has changed, not the suit.  If the suit doesn’t look halfway decent, don’t blame your body, blame the jerk designers who don’t care that most women have figures that don’t look or feel as firm as mannequins.  Spend on bras and bathing suits, these two wardrobe items are worth it more than any designer bag, drool-worthy boots, or elegant coat.  Your body, and your heart will thank you.  And this summer, get out there!  Have fun in the sun, YOU DESERVE IT! YOUR BODY DESERVES IT!

Fun in the Sun, No Matter Your Shape

When I swimsuit shopped for our Costa Rican honeymoon in 2004, I decided to go bold and leave my all-black swimsuit routine. I got a bright red halter tankini from J. Crew and felt terribly sassy… that was until I got back the pictures from that trip and realized the lighter color and lack of support made my breasts look droopy, displayed the indentation for my belly button, every lump, and every bump.

The only remaining picture from our honeymoon where I am in the red bathing suit.

After that experience, I was a bit more gun shy with swimwear. Strategic rouching, dark prints to camouflage curves, brands that specialized in slimming the figure. While I felt more secure in such suits, I often felt they looked too old and somber for my age and personality. After Emerson was born, I was so uncomfortable with my new figure I welcomed the black gathered fabric with strong mesh interiors to suck in my flesh. It felt like a suit of armor to defend me against…

…against what?

I sat on the beach in this frumpy bathing suit, and looked around. I saw women older and larger than I sunbathing in bikinis, women slimmer and younger than I in matronly too-large suits with too-long skirts, women built just like me in fun printed suits splashing in the surf and women built just like me in the same suit I was wearing, hiding behind strategically draped towels.

The biggest thing I saw was that no one was out there judging. Okay, maybe the teens giggling behind US Magazines were judging, but they were judging everyone, and I knew they would judge no matter what swimsuit I was wearing. Because no matter what I put on my body, it will still be the same body. The same cellulite, the same belly, the same curves, the same flesh. No swimsuit will make me look five years younger or 25 pounds slimmer.

And so this year, thinking about my beach experience and seeing phenomenal women like Gabi Gregg and Brittany Gibbons and Chastity Garner rock the heck out of fun and flirty two-piece suits I decided to do the same. There’s nothing wrong with a classic black one-piece that slims and flatters the figure, but there’s also nothing wrong with buying a suit that is fun and fits your personality and personal style.

I have always had great success with Lands’ End swimwear – well made, doesn’t ride or stretch or fade. I also like that they have cup-sized tops going up to DDD. I decided to try a two-piece suit (the Beach Living Tahiti Paisley Floral Shirred Bikini Top in 12DDD and the matching Flounce Mini SwimMini in 12 Petite), and the Beach Living Bardot Floral Scoopneck One Piece Swimsuit with Tummy Control in 12DDD and see which I liked better.

The two suits arrived promptly and the prints were even prettier in person. I first tried on the one-piece which fit quite nicely. I loved how I could adjust the neckline with the drawstring detail. It fit, it flattered. The print created an optical illusion, you couldn’t quite tell what was print and what was spare tire. Sucked me in without causing intestinal distress.  Not too shabby.

And then I tried the bikini. Somehow the two-piece made me look taller. Boy did it make me look softer but it made me look curvy in a good way. No Lycra to hide the rolls, the stretch marks from pregnancy, how my tummy is a bit lopsided from carrying Emerson. But the top had underwire and adjustable straps to support my breasts even if I dove into the pool, and the skirt was flirty instead of matronly and provided a bit of fun as well as distraction.  And I liked it, I liked me in it.  I felt like me.

Whether I am in a black slenderizing suit, a printed one-piece, or a “fatkini,” I am still me. I am still a 38-year old working mom who wears a 12/14, should go to the gym more often, and should watch her portion sizes. But in this suit I feel sassy, I feel as though I have to walk with confidence since I made such a bold decision with my swimwear.

I wore the suit to the pool on a busy day. I played with Emerson, sat with Karl on the side of the pool watching the kids play, floated around in the deep end, gave Emerson piggy-back rides over and over in the 3′ section, sat on the ramp and watched E splash in the shallow section, had a great time. The suit held up well, it fit great, and I didn’t feel terribly on display. In fact, I don’t think one person even looked twice at me.

Often all the judgment we feel about our bodies and sartorial choices is in our heads. And for the judgment that may be real… who is it coming from? Does that person even deserve time or real estate in your brain? Some people will judge anyone about anything… might as well have a blast yourself while they’re wasting their time with their lame hobby.

Now go out there and have FUN this summer!

Note: This post was not sponsored by Lands’ End, I just think they’re pretty rad.

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Swimsuit Review: More Suits for a Large Bust and Soft Belly

In the last swimsuit review post I ended seeming as though I didn’t find anything good. And then last weekend we took a trip to Rehoboth Beach and I knew I’d be spending time in an indoor pool and I was still without a suit so I kept the green tropical bikini. It was really my favorite, and I still loved it as I swam a couple laps, did handstands, and played ball with Emerson. But I still would like something with a bit more coverage for active days at the outdoor pool so I returned what didn’t work and ordered some more. The results:


Since my last order, they had more suits available in my size so I figured I’d try some out.  Nordstrom’s free shipping and returns makes it so easy, I hope they continue to expand their swimwear selections, there’s nothing better than being able to try swimsuits at home, in your room, away from fluorescent lights, pushy salespeople, and fitting rooms that smell like Fritos.

Miraclesuit ‘Ansonia’ Mesh Inset One-Piece Swimsuit in White

wardrobe oxygen swimsuit review miraclesuitThe seaming below and gathers at the bust gave me hope that this suit could possibly work. Maybe I’d feel like a Bond Girl in this awesome one-piece.  I also ordered this in a 14.


Yeah, I need suits that are by cup size. This was also short in the torso, if I hiked it up to have the seam in the right place for the bust, I gave myself a front and back wedgie. This would be a darn sexy suit for a slimmer, smaller busted woman who just wanted a bit of tummy control to refine her shape.

Miraclesuit Front Zip One-Piece Swimsuit in Charcoal Black

PicMonkey CollageI ordered a 14. This suit (and a few others below) is proof as to why I need a bathing suit with bra sizing. If you follow me on Snapchat (I’m wardrobeoxygen) you may have caught my rant about Miraclesuits. How can a 5’3” short-waisted woman find a size 14 one-piece too short in the torso? Boobs. Seems as though Miraclesuit forgot that women with bellies may also have breasts. I think with a smaller bust both of these suits would have fit.

MICHAEL Michael Kors ‘Draped Solids’ Bandeau One-Piece Swimsuit in Black

PicMonkey CollageI ordered a 14. I figured what the heck, why not?  I should have known.  This was a huge major colossal fail. The suit has no structure, it’s one layer of traditional nylon spandex with a bit of lining in certain spots. However, I think if one was younger and firmer this would be a really gorgeous suit.

Lands’ End

Lands’ End has always been one of my go-tos for swimwear, but I was hoping to steer clear of them this year because of their debacle with Gloria Steinem. But Lands’ End makes clothing and swimwear for a broad range of sizes and shapes, the price is good for the excellent quality, and I have owned Lands’ End suits before and know they work for my shape. I also know that I need a bra-sized suit, I don’t need a bikini, and one-pieces are often too long in the torso so I went with their tankini pieces.

Before ordering from Lands’ End, check sites like Retail Me Not to see if there are any promos going on. Lately there’s been plenty of codes to get 30-40% off and most include swimwear.

Lands’ End Beach Living Adjustable Top and High Waist Control Bottom in Deep Sea

lands end beach living tankini wardrobe oxygenI ordered the top in 14 DDD cup, and the bottom in a 14. I like a suit with color, but I just didn’t feel me wearing a purple or pink swimsuit with a big bow in the front so I went with Deep Sea (navy).

The control bottom sucked me in, but it gave me muffin top. The top had underwire but if I had the underwire truly under my breasts and not an inch lower, I’d have the cups end up near my chin. No adjustment of the bow or the straps could get placement right, but even so the suit gave more support and separation than one without underwire and I had enough fabric to not be spilling out. The top though was perfect in the torso – not too tight but not too loose. I think with a different bottom it would have been more flattering.

But this suit is a whole lot of meh. It reminded me of the green one-piece in the previous post. It’s fine. It’s okay.  I wouldn’t look twice at a woman wearing it at the pool or beach.  It’s what most women my age and size wear because it fits and it sucks to try on swimsuits and it gets the job done without more agony at the full-length mirror. I just can’t justify spending $100 (that is if there’s not a Lands’ End promo going on) for meh.

Lands’ End Beach Living Adjustable Top in Black Horizon

Lands End Beach Living Adjustable Tankini - Wardrobe OxygenGoing through the clearance section at Lands’ End I found this black and white striped top in DDD cup 14 and ordered it since it was on sale for $35.99. Here it is featured with the Miraclesuit bottom I reviewed in this post.

I have no idea why this top fits better than the navy one but it does. The cups align better, neckline looks nicer. I know it lays better on the torso because of the different bottom I paired it with. Totally shows the power of getting the right bottom for your specific body! Thanks to my promo code and it being on clearance, this top only cost me $22. I plan on keeping it, it’s perfect for playing at the community pool with Emerson.  Of course I’d end up with a suit that has stripes!

Bare Necessities

I already raved about Bare Necessities’ selection for bra-sized swimwear. Based on my last order, I ordered two more things from them:

Freya Sagittarius Halter Swimsuit

PicMonkey CollageI didn’t order this the first go-round because I’ve had halter swimsuits before and while they make a large bust look amazing, after a day at the pool your neck ends up sore from holding up your breasts. But this is Freya, Freya rocks, and I could order it in a cup size so likely the rest of the suit would be designed to help keep my breasts lifted. I ordered a 36E.

I am too short for this swimsuit. While it doesn’t look bad from the front or side, in the back you can see how it just doesn’t fit, and that issue affects the whole bust area. There’s a backstrap, which should help with the breast support, but because I am short in the torso, it can’t lie in the right place and ends up all squished down which pushes up the front, which makes my breasts lie funny in the cups which causes me to tighten the halter straps which puts more strain on my neck…

This is a cute suit if you have a longer torso or are taller. The top is made so it can support a large bust but also flatter and enhance a smaller one. And the dots are gold foil, the fabric is really nice, this suit feels and looks expensive. You can easily rock it at the pool, but gosh it would be fabulous on a tropical vacation with a big sunhat, the dots gleaming in the sun, a frozen cocktail in your hand. If you buy it, email me a picture of you wearing it and being utterly fabulous, dahlink!

Fantasie Versailles Bikini Swim Bottom in Black (shown with Freya ‘Pier’ Halter Swim Top)

PicMonkey CollageI really like the fit of the Fantasie Kuranda swim bottom and thought this bottom would essentially be the same thing but in black.  Newp. No. No way. Nuh-uh. It does have a more adjustable side, you can see in the side view I cinched it tighter for a smaller side, but it is a stretchier, thinner fabric and a lower-rise style.  When I bent over it rolled down even lower and I spilled over the waistband.  I know my strengths and love to highlight them; my lower abdomen is a part I prefer to keep covered.

Final Result?

Fantasie Tie-Side Boyshort Swim Bottom and Balconette Swim Top in KurandaI may still look for a better black control swimsuit bottom to go with the Lands’ End top, but otherwise I feel ready for summer.  I have the Fantasie Kuranda Balconette Top and Boyshort Bottom as my sassy sunning and funning swimsuit, and my Lands’ End Beach Living striped tankini top to wear for playing in the ocean or pool with Emerson and being more active.  I’m ready to have fun in the sun!

Festie Frame of Mind

Dress: Seafolly Saltwater Crush Maxi c/o | Necklace: Had forever (similar) | Sandals: Softspots | Sunglasses: Kentucky gas station (similar) | Bag: HOBO Bags (similar)

The weather is getting warmer, we’ve bought tickets for Forecastle and Americanarama and I can’t help but be in a festie frame of mind. InStyle Swimwear was kind enough to send me this fabulous tie-dye maxi dress from Seafolly and I just KNOW it will be worn to at least one festival or outdoor concert this summer! Lightweight cotton, comfortable, and adjustable straps to boot! I was also thinking it would look cute with my denim shirt tied over it, and I also liked it cinched with a vintage brown leather belt (expect to see that combo on the blog later in the summer!).

Update on the hair: what I am doing to get it like this is I am applying Paul Mitchell Surf Spray and Rusk Thick on my hair, blowdrying it in a haphazard manner or letting it air dry.  I then put big sections in my curling iron, curling away from the face.  Finger comb, and then a bit more of the surf spray to have it piecey and messy and more casual.  So far, so good and it works well in the heat.

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Review: Swimsuit Shopping with

Be you a size 6 or a size 26, it sucks shopping for woman’s swimwear. The fluorescent lighting in the fitting rooms, trying to gauge proper fit over your underwear, dealing with clueless shop staff, and being forced to examine all the trouble spots on your body.

Click here to read about my experience of swimsuit shopping with SwimSpot…

How I Shop the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2016If you’re a reader of multiple blogs, you must be SICK AND TIRED of reading posts about the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. Thing is, it’s a great sale, my favorite one of the year.  Also it doesn’t hurt that Nordstrom has free returns, free shipping no minimum, and carries a great variety of sizes, styles, and pricepoints.  The sale opens for the public tomorrow.

I usually peruse the NSale and write a roundup of what I find to be the absolute best deals, separated by category. But when the sale launches, I will be likely on some lonesome highway with my child saying for the 50th time, “Are we there yet?” Since I won’t be able to do a round up, I’m going to share how I go about making my roundups and how I shop myself for this sale.

At the top of Nordstrom’s site there will be a link to the sale and likely a link for Women’s Sale. If not, click sale, then choose women’s. Since the sale isn’t available at the time of posting this my directions may not be exactly accurate, but are a gauge on how to blast through all this merch.

Wardrobe Oxygen - how to shop the Nordstrom Anniversary SaleThe next step I do is reorganize what I see. At the top of the items, you’ll see a field that says, “Sort by Featured.” You don’t want this. Featured means the stuff that Nordstrom WANTS you to buy. The more pricey stuff, the popular stuff, the eye-catching stuff. Maybe you want that, but most likely you want deals that work for YOU. So click that field and change it to, “Sort by Price: low to high.” Yeah, that’s more like it. Now it’s easier to stop at your maximum pricepoint (for a sale like this, my cap is $200, for example, so I can easily stop when I get near that number and not be swayed by a super cute $245 thing).

how to shop the nordstrom anniversary sale by wardrobe oxygenNext, sort by size. There’s nothing worse than admiring something, click to buy and find out your size isn’t available. Nordstrom lets you pick more than one category; in the screenshot you see the size categories I always choose (and as a heads up, Nordstrom will remember this and next time you visit will have those sizes at the top for you).

Wardrobe Oxygen - how to shop the nordstrom anniversary sale onlineIf this is still too much for you to handle, you can now narrow down categories. For example, I don’t want hosiery, swimwear, or sleepwear. The categories are sort of odd, so if you think you may want something in it might as well include it.

shopping the nordstrom anniversary sale with wardrobe oxygenIf you wish to narrow more, you can do a forced stop with price. This will help get the pages to a manageable number (in my mind that’s fewer than 100 pages). Now, it’s time for scrolling!

I scroll pretty quickly through the pages, if something is worthy it should catch my eye without much effort. If it does, I right click and open in another tab and keep going. I don’t start looking at what I opened in another tab until I’ve gone through at least a half dozen pages.

Unfortunately, a lot of pieces in the NSale are brought in just for the sale so they don’t have reviews. But if they do, read more than the first page. Read all the reviews and the ages of the reviewers because what gets 5 stars from a 21 year old may get 2 from a 40 year old. Read all the descriptions and look at all the photos. Note the laundry instructions, whether it’s lined, what fabric it’s made of. If it passes muster, put it in your virtual shopping cart.

When you’ve reviewed all the open tabs, go back to the main one. Scroll through another half dozen pages, read the tabs you opened, continue. This sounds monotonous, but I’ve gotten it down where I can do this shopping not just for me but for all of you in less than an hour. Be picky. The NSale is good, but it’s not like Chanel for $50. If you don’t need it and if the price isn’t awesome, move on.

If there’s any other categories you wish to peruse, follow the same steps. Once you’ve fully examined all you need to examine in the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, head to your virtual shopping cart.

Now is the time to get real. Like real real, so real.

That neon pink backless dress is to DIE for and it’s 45% off, but girl where are you planning on wearing it? And what bra do you own that will work with it?

Yes, those skinny jeans are an amazing price, but you still have three pairs from last year that are perfectly good.

You have been wanting a sparkly top for going out, dressing up suits for cocktail parties, and such but this one is a crew neck and you know you’d feel better with a lower neckline.

For the things you KNOW you don’t need, delete them. For the ones where you’re not sure, save for later. If they’re gone by tomorrow they weren’t meant to be. Life is telling you what you didn’t want to admit. If it’s still there, seriously consider why you hesitated. Remember, no dress will change your life.

Review and review, thinking about the wardrobe and lifestyle you currently possess. Be realistic, don’t get drunk off discounts. Only when you’re honest with your body, your wardrobe, your lifestyle, and your budget can you begin the payment process.

When your purchase arrives in the mail, keep the box. Unlike many retailers who send items in bags, Nordstrom has nice sturdy boxes that are perfect for shipping items back. As you unwrap items, be careful and stuff the plastic and tissue in the shipping box. This way, for any items that may not be right you can carefully return them. I also use the extra plastic and tissue as padding to keep returns from sloshing around, and I figure they can (hopefully) recycle the stuff with their other items in the Returns Department.

I have a vintage train case where I keep all packing slips, mailing labels, and invoices for online purchases. Nordstrom has clear descriptions on their packing slips, but if you may not recall what an item is (for not everyone is a dork like me and can look at a sweater in her closet and recall the brand, style name, and year it was purchased without seeing the tag), write descriptions that make sense to you on a Post-it and stick it on the packing slip before you put it in a safe place.

Since Nordstrom has a relaxed return policy, there’s no need to try things on in a hurry. For me, when I get a package in the mail I use it as part of my post-work and commute decompression time. I grab a glass of ice water or a La Croix, head up to the bedroom, open the boxes, give a quick look, maybe try on some if I’m up to it, but at least put away the packing slip, unbox, and put the new items either on top of my bureau or on hangers in a separate part of my closet. This way they lose some of their wrinkles. I usually try on immediately the things that look at first glance to be hideous or spectacular. If hideous, I can often pull up to the knees or over the head and immediately know it won’t fit and take it off before the struggle and the reflection sadness. Put back in plastic, stick right back in the box. The awesome I’ll try, and if it’s awesome… I still put it with the other items. Everything needs two tries, especially if you’re tired, hot, stressed, or wearing the wrong bra the first go-round. And all try-ons should be done while completely sober and with a shiny clean mirror.

Do NOT take off the tags until you have put on for your first wear. You have on the shoes, the belt, the bracelet and you’re ready to walk out the door. Only then do you pull those tags. And me personally, I put those tags in that train case, paper clipped to the shipping label in case there’s a defect. Nordstrom will take some items back without a tag, but it’s just good practice for all online shopping.

Finally, when someone says, “Omigawd I LURRRVE your dress!” Smile, say thank you, and tell them how cheap you got it at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and how Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen helped you find it! Happy shopping!

Blogging Love – Interview!

I was honored to be interviewed by Elle of the new blog Label Ho. Elle’s discusses fashion and her personal style on this site. I love supporting fellow fashion and style bloggers so I jumped at this chance to have us get to know one another better!

You can check out the interview here.

I loved the questions she asked (and if you go back in her archives, you can see her answers to the very same questions!). The name of her blog cracks me up. It reminds me of when I was Editor of my high school yearbook. I had such the fight with the sponsor over the proper spelling of this word. “If you add an ‘e’ it’s suddenly a garden tool!” (Let’s not even get into why this word was in my yearbook – let me just state that my high school was a fabulous one where I learned Japanese and was in International Baccalaureate courses, but it wasn’t in the most chi chi of neighborhoods.)

Since she interviewed me, I decided to ask her a few questions as well. Get to know Elle!

Name: “Elle,” author of Label Ho, a fashion and personal style blog

Why did you start blogging? What could be better than writing and posting about something you love? I thought it would be a fun hobby and a great way to connect with other fashion-minded people.

Favorite item in your closet: An authentic vintage Gucci handbag circa the 70s. I love that its suede and doesn’t have the GG logo plastered all over it. I found the bag at a thrift shop and its in immaculate condition. Best of all, I got it for an excellent price!

Favorite Web site to visit: They have pretty comprehensive coverage of what’s going on in the fashion world, delivered in quick, short posts. I also like that they post great outfits that members of their community put together. I’m fascinated with seeing what people put together.

Top five items on your style wish list for this season: I can only think of three since I think I pretty much have most of my key pieces already:

1. Another pair of dark bootleg jeans. I’ve pretty much worn my favorite pair so much (Joe’s Jeans in the Honey fit) that the color’s faded significantly.

2. More dresses. I’ve purchased a few already, but I just can’t get enough. They’re so easy to pull on in summer.

3. A pair of wide-leg jeans. I’ve tried on a ton of different ones, but still haven’t found a flattering fit.

Memorial Day Sales – My Picks

Wardrobe Oxygen - Best Memorial Day Sales of Fashion and BeautyThere’s some fabulous sales going on this weekend – a great time to get that swimsuit, stock up on shorts, or find a frock for that summer wedding. The sales that caught my eye:

Nordstrom – Half Yearly Sale has up to 40% off. Sale ends June 5.

Boden – 30% off plus free shipping and returns on orders of at least $49. Promo code 2Z7C. Sale ends May 30.

JC Penney – 15% off your order. Promo code JCPSAV15. Sale ends June 1.

Lord & Taylor – 20% off almost everything.  Promo code MEMORIAL. Sale ends May 30.

ShoeBuy – 25% off everything and free shipping.  Promo code REWARD25. Sale ends May 31.

Banana Republic – Extra 40% off your entire purchase. Promo code BRTAKE40. Sale ends May 30.

Baublebar – No specific promo code, but they have hundreds of gorgeous items up to 50% off.

MODCLOTH – Up to 40% a lot of their selection; an additional 20% off sale merchandise.  Promo code SOHOT. Sale ends May 31.

Macy’s – 20% off your order. Promo code MEMDAY. Sale ends May 30.

JAG Jeans – 30% off the entire site.  No promo needed, discount will show at checkout. Sale ends May 30.

AMAZON – 20% off select women’s swimsuits and coverups.  Promo code 20SWIMWEAR. Sale ends June 3.

J. Crew – 30% off your entire order. Promo code WEEKEND. Sale ends May 31.

J. Crew Factory – 50% off plus an additional 40% off clearance. Promo code EXTRA40. Sale ends May 31.

Lands’ End – 50% off regularly priced swim and 30% off everything else. Promo code STARS with pin 9900. Sale ends May 30.

Ann Taylor – 50% off full price styles. Promo code SUMMER50. Sale ends May 31.

LOFT – 40% off new items, 60% off select summer faves and all sale merchandise. No code needed, sale ends May 30.

J.Jill – Additional 30% off all sale merchandise (no code needed); free shipping on orders over $100. Promo code MAYFS16. Promotion ends May 30.

Kiyonna – 25% off your order of $150 and more. Promo code SALE25.  Sale ends June 1.

Talbots – 40% off one sale item, 50% off two or more. They’ve listed a ton of new sale items too. Sale ends May 30.

ASOS – 20% off your purchase. Promo code HISUMMER. Sale ends May 31. I just ordered a bunch from here, they have a great selection of fun summer dresses!

Soma – No actual promo code, but a TON of items on sale up to 50% off just for the holiday. While supplies last.

Swimsuits for All – Free upgrade to 3-day shipping and up to 60% off merchandise. Promo code 16MDW5. No notification on the site when this promotion ends.

Dress Barn – Buy one, get one 50% off shorts, tees and tanks; same deal for dresses in the colors red, white, and blue.  Promo code SHOPFORMDW. Sale ends June 1.

Bare Necessities – No actual promo code, but they’re having a semi-annual sale with swimsuits up to 30% off and clearance up to 70% off. Also if you haven’t already, if you sign up for their emails you’ll get a code for 15% off your purchase.

Happy shopping!

Outlet Mall Shopping

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ask Allie: Week at the Shore with his Parents

Dear Allie, my boyfriend invited me to spend a week at the shore with his family at their beach house. I’ve met them before, but I’m nervous with what to wear when on the beach and at the pool. I’m comfortable in a bikini, but I don’t want to look inappropriate, is it okay to wear a bikini in front of his parents? What about a coverup? I’m at a loss, I want to look good for my boyfriend but I don’t want to look as though I’m flaunting my body or trying to be sexy for his relatives.

First and foremost, unless their religion or culture encourages women to wear more modest of swimwear (in that case I would wear it out of respect), you can definitely wear a bikini. However, there’s a lot of styles of bikinis, and I would steer clear from the really small ones and absolutely no thongs or racy cut-outs. But a two-piece that covers and flatters is appropriate.

I created this capsule to show that one can be on trend and wear a bikini and still look polished and sophisticated. While I picked a bikini, I chose one that has optional straps in case a day of sunbathing becomes one involving boogie boards or jet skis. I always believe in taking two suits on a vacation so one can dry while you wear the other; having the second one in a more substantial style means you can race his cousins across the pool or feel more comfortable if it’s a day on the beach with his mom and grandmother. Again, a style with a strap (this one is also optional) ensures you’re prepared if the day includes activities.

Having the accessories cohesive and subtle is elegant, achievable on any budget, and is more versatile if you end up with the country club set or with neighborhood folks around a beach bonfire. A straw bag will filter out sand but can double as a purse if you leave the beach to go shopping or have lunch at a nearby café.

I also recommend a variety of cover-ups for any vacation, in case there’s a chill in the air, you need to head into town, or go from beach to beachside restaurant. The navy wrap can be tied at the waist to be a skirt, wrapped and tied behind the neck for a halter short dress, or tied under the arms for a short strapless cover. It can also be a shawl or even a beach blanket in a pinch. The coral coverup can double as a dress, or be worn with cutoff denim shorts; the color isn’t too extreme but adds a pop to your beach ensemble.

Of course, don’t forget sunscreen – nothing ruins a trip faster than sunburn. A spray formula is easy for reapplication and there’s no awkward moments when you need your boyfriend’s relative to rub lotion on your back.

Take all this advice, but still wear what feels true and comfortable to you. If you’re donning a costume for this trip, it will only add to your anxiety. Be you, but be conscience of what the family is like, their religion and cultural traditions. It’s so nice that they have invited you, respecting their comfort level shows that you care about them, as well as their son.

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Wardrobe Oxygen and Maternity Fashion

Maternity clothing is surprisingly expensive. Items that would cost only $30 at your local Big Box retailer will be $45 or more at a maternity store. If they are a reasonable price, you are usually losing out on style and quality. A recent trip to a popular maternity chain store was a major disappointment – clothing I wouldn’t be caught dead in were being snatched up by desperate fellow pregnant sisters.

When you’re pregnant you still need to function in the Real World – you need appropriate career wear, clothing to keep you cool during the hot summer days, dresses that will let you look elegant and the next wedding or company function, swimwear and gym wear so you can stay healthy and active. Retailers know this and know they have you by the teat; they up the price, lower the quality and force you to purchase that which you would normally never touch with a ten-foot pole. It’s the same scheme they have for those who purchase plus-sized garments – want style? Well you will have to pay twice as much. Want basics at a decent price? Well you’re going to have to buy sub-par fabrics, gaudy prints and slipshod fabrication. Let’s not even start with the options if you are petite or tall!

Well if you don’t read my other blog, you may be wondering why I am even writing about maternity clothing. I am pregnant and due at the end of December.

I believe all women have the ability to look and feel beautiful within their budget – and I think that should hold true for pregnant women.
The days are gone where pregnant women are forced to wear polyester muumuus or pastel frilly confections covered with bows. Major retailers are starting maternity lines (hello Gap and Ann Taylor Loft), high-end department stores have extensive maternity lines, and hot designers are starting to see that there is a major market for stylish maternity clothing and are getting on the nine-month bandwagon.

However with all these updates, maternity wear, like plus-size fashion is still severely lacking. Women are judged to all be one height, with the same size of breasts and rear. Fashion is horribly basic and casual, or high-end and not budget-friendly for most parents-to-be who have to save their pennies for diapers, not Diane von Furstenburg.

Throughout this journey of pregnancy, I will be offering you reviews of items I have found are stylish, flattering and that fulfill the needs of a pregnant woman. As with traditional fashion, I hope my reviews will work for more than one shape, size, income or lifestyle of woman. I encourage fellow pregnant sisters to offer their suggestions in the comments (as long as they follow along these same lines). We can all learn from another during any fashion journey – maternity shouldn’t be any different!

To those who are not pregnant – have no fear this is not becoming a maternity or mommy blog. I am only adding this facet to Wardrobe Oxygen because of an obvious need on the Internet. The primary focus of this blog will still be providing style tips that can be used by almost any woman, regardless of age, size, income or lifestyle. I have reviewed a few products lately and plan to write about them, and will have some articles coming about hot topics facing women right now. I apologize in the lack of posts in the past several weeks but I hope this explains it a bit. My hope is to return to posting on at least a weekly, if not more regular basis. I thank those who have stuck through and hope to hear from all of you very soon!

What I Wore: It’s Myne

myne heidi dress hobo bags clutch zippers myne heidi dress review

Dress: Myne | Bag: Hobo Bags (similar) | Shoes: Nine West | Glasses: Zenni Optical | Bracelet: Had forever (similar) | Lipstick: Revlon ‘Certainly Red’ | Ear Cuffs: Etsy (here and here)

I wrote about this dress in this post. A lot of you wanted to see me in it since I am a very different shape from the model, but it has been too cold to bust out this lightweight silk dress until now. When I bought it I figured I’d style it with peeptoe ankle booties and my wide silver metal plate belt, but once spring arrived I decided I liked it a bit more stripped down. The dress is by the brand Myne, and each time I read the label I say, “It’s MINE!” in the whiny voice I use when I read Emerson her book, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Share.  As an FYI, this is a size 10; I originally got a 12 but found it too long for my petite stature.  The 10 fits comfortably but the belt that came with it is too small (no biggie, the belt is kind of ugly and cheap looking).

If you signed up for my monthly Style File newsletter you know that I recently got these glasses. They’re huge, they’re bright, and they’re a lot of fun for a very low price (hello prescription lenses under $30!). I’ve been wearing a lot of red lately – I’ve been doing a red lip almost all winter and have been choosing OPI’s Big Apple Red as my nail polish of choice for almost a year. It made sense if I was going to buy some funky glasses to have them in my current signature shade!

Little Bits of Luxury: The Series

With age comes wisdom. It’s taken a while, but I have learned to truly buy quality instead of quantity. I unsubscribed from most retail emails so I am not wooed by 50% off (if I didn’t need it at full price, I don’t need it now), I rarely enter a mall because I know myself and I will leave at least $100 poorer with bags full of things I don’t need and will likely collect dust. When I visit a store like Target or TJ Maxx I have a written shopping list that will be a visible reminder to stay on track. And in the past year, when I have added to my closet I have looked for what I can remove – to store for the future, to donate, to sell, to admit defeat and cut up into rags.

And the things I purchase are better quality too. Now I am no Martha Stewart, so for me quality is likely Nine West, Etsy, L’Oreal. But I have learned it’s not about the name on the label, but how the piece works with my life and performs in the long run. Be it bras, BB cream, baking dishes, or boots I research, save, and buy the best within my budget. This also goes for luxury items (and items that are luxurious just to me). I have never admitted being a minimalist, and with age I have learned that some luxury items just make life better (and are far kinder to the body than cupcakes and nachos). I’ve also learned that luxury can come at all pricepoints, and some of the best indulgences are quite kind to my wallet.

I’ve found that series on this blog are some of my most popular posts on Wardrobe Oxygen. And so my newest series will feature little luxuries I indulge in, and how I budget for them, and why they are worth it. I hope you enjoy!

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What I Wore: Real Red

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

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

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

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What I Wore: Issa for Banana Republic

I’m not a fan of designer collaborations. I don’t understand clamoring for a cheaper version of a designer piece. I don’t want a glued-together pleather bag or ill-fitting polyester blouse no matter what name is on the label. However, once the Issa Collection came out for Banana Republic I was intrigued. Banana Republic already has good quality and fits me relatively well, and the pieces in the collection were things I would buy no matter the designer. I liked the kimono dresses, and felt this print was one I would wear now and five years from now, in spring and in winter. For those considering this dress, I chose a 14, and yes, they do run short (it’s veering on not work appropriate and I am 5’3″). However it’s made extremely well, a heavy matte jersey that feels good and is a style that I think would work if I gained or lost weight. And you know me, I waited until it was on sale, Banana Republic was having a big sale, and I had reward dollars!

And how great is this bracelet? Wearing gold jewelery? No problem! Silver? No problem! Everything goes with this piece from Ruth Barzel, and I love that it’s rock and roll while still being elegant. I’ve been wearing this bracelet a ton lately (check my Instagram for proof), I like it mixed with other bracelets, but with such a bold dress, I felt it looked best all by itself.

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My Wardrobe Today – Monday

Skirt – Ann Taylor (bought on eBay 5 years ago for $14.99, no clue how old, label style unfamiliar to me)
BootiesCole Haan
Scarf – c/o Nordstrom Rack
Silver cuff

I forgot to set my alarm last night. My body woke me up at 7:15 (glad it wasn’t 8:15) and I had 45 minutes to get myself together and out the door. I had pulled this skirt out of my stash of potential winter things and a month ago it was just too tight, too short, and I thought I would re-eBay it. I pulled it on this morning since it was sitting on the cedar chest at the foot of the bed… and it fit! Only thing wrong is I guess the hem dry rotted and has fallen out while wearing (easy to fix). Very excited to have another leather skirt in my arsenal!

New bag – I had $40 in Nordstrom rewards, saw this bag for $129 and decided to try it.  I have wanted a bigger bag to carry my netbook and such, and wanted a soft black purse (currently have my Banana Republic one which is that textured hard leather like a football). Love the bag, so soft, holds so much, necessary front pocket (with magnet closure) and hey… gotta love such a quality bag for only $89!

Sorry for the delay in posting, work has gotten really hectic. Glad I stocked the office fridge with Lean Cuisines because that’s the only way I get to eat anything. The only time I have left my desk is to hit the printer or the bathroom (and refill my water bottle!). Whew, what a crazy couple of weeks!

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Contest: Tolani Scarf from

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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