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Updating Your Wardrobe for Spring 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Updating your Wardrobe for Spring/Summer 2007

Each season I try to give you a few pieces that can be added to your wardrobe to give it a fresh look. Many seasons it’s pretty cut and dry – a chunky heel, a metallic sandal, a white sundress. This spring is not so specific. There are a few trends that seem big for this spring, but that does not mean you have to subscribe to them.

High waists are in style, but unless you have six-pack abs, you shouldn’t go anywhere NEAR this trend. Recently on Go Fug Yourself they featured a post about the lovely Jessica Simpson in this style and even SHE looked dumpy.

Leggings are still trendy under short baby-doll style dresses and tunics. The problem is that unless you are a hipster, you will look as though you are dressed for an 80s costume party. I recently went to a wedding where a woman with a slim, tall frame was wearing a black boatneck a-line mini dress with black leggings and pewter metallic flats. This is a look that could be seen on Sienna Miller, but on this 30-something woman, she looked a bit ridiculous. She had the body type, but when an outfit like this is put into regular society, unless you have the personality to be a bit quirky and artsy, it will look like a costume, not fashion. If you haven’t tried leggings since the 80s, I say there is no point in trying them now.

Skinny jeans are still all the rage. Tight, dark, stretchy and bunching at the ankles, they are seen with heels and flats on all types of celebrities. Unless you are built like these celebrities and again, have the personality to be quirky and trendsetting, don’t buy into this style. Like leggings, these can easily look like a costume. Also like leggings, this style of jean will only accentuate the negative. Tight jeans like this will make your legs look shorter, your hips wider, your thighs fuller, your bum rounder. Unlike straight, slightly slim or bootcut jeans, these stovepipes can only go with certain tops without you looking like a streetwalker or a lollypop.
Jeans from Saks Fifth Avenue


Babydoll dresses and tops can seem like great camouflage for a belly, but if you have curves elsewhere (especially the bust) you can end up looking larger, instead of smaller. These full tops often end just where your hip widens, hiding not just your belly but any feminine shape at all. Babydoll dresses also disguise any feminine shape and often look more muumuu than modern. A sleeveless babydoll can make the most waifish of arms and shoulders look as though they belong to a linebacker.

With all this negativity, you may throw your hands up and hide in your husband’s sweats. Not to fear, there are some really cute trends for the warmer months that look good on a multitude of shapes!
Dress from Nordstrom

Bermuda Shorts. The designers have modified this trend from last year so that it works for more body types. Last year they all seemed to be stiff, slim and hitting right at the worst part of the leg, this season there are more variety to the cut. I who despise shorts, found some very cute flattering styles at Old Navy – washed linen, lightweight cotton, straight cuts with a bit of give, a shorter hem and a lower waist were found to be awfully flattering on my petite curvy frame. A crease down the front slims just the way it does in longer trousers, and lighter weight fabrics don’t add bulk to the parts to the body that already have enough shape. Keep in mind that with longer trousers, a cuff will shorten and thicken a leg; if you have this problem look for a simpler style. As with skirts, do not have the short end at the widest part of your leg. Just above to mid of knee covers hips and thighs but shows that you have nice gams below. Stay away from heavy twills and denim; a lighter fabric like cotton denim, cotton blends and linen are more forgiving to the body. Also, as with skirts a heel on your shoe will add length and a slimming look to your leg. Many styles are appropriate for business casual; a pair of Bermudas with a blazer, shell and wedge slingbacks can be quite sassy. For a night out, consider Bermudas with a silky camisole, long necklace and some strappy heels. For the weekend, Bermudas can be cute with a polo shirt or scoopneck tee and wedge sandals. However if you have tried many styles and still feel as though they aren’t flattering, do not buy into this trend. Capris and skirts are still hot for this season, stick with what makes you comfortable.
Shorts from J. Crew

Contrast Brights. I am so excited for this trend, I think there is nothing more fun than a Crayola-pop of color in an outfit. A simple white shirt and black capris are transformed with a bright red belt. A simple khaki sheath dress is taken to a new level with Kelly green patent-leather heels. A gray suit gets a makeover with a yellow bead necklace or an orange silk-knit shell. The color I am happiest to see come back to stores is cobalt blue. This bright color is a fun accent to many neutrals and a real change to the basic red. A bright blue purse is an expected yet attractive compliment for gray, khaki, brown, black, white, cream and even navy. Consider switching out the belt on a dress or jacket with a blue patent leather one, or find a blue silk scarf to use as a belt, neck accessory or headband (a very popular hair accessory this season; use bobby pins to keep in place).
Belt from Torrid

Girly Touches. After many minimalistic seasons, the girly frills are back. Eyelet dresses and jackets in white, black and candy hues; rosettes on everything from dresses to purses to shoes, cabbage roses and other traditional floral patterns adorning dresses and even slingback heels. If you have a weakness for Laura Ashley, this is your season! If not, same-fabric rosettes can be a nice touch on the waistband a solid-colored silk dress and the floral-printed shoes are a funky accessory to pair with jeans and a simple white shirt. Eyelet can be surprisingly modern if in the shape of a solid white tailored blazer or black sheath dress with apple green lining. These feminine pieces are a great way to jazz up your wardrobe basics!
Shoes from Zappos, Jacket from Nordstrom

Polkadots. Polkadots are like animal prints, they never seem to go out of style if done in a subtle manner. However this season, there is no need to keep your polkadots reserved to accessories. They are seen everywhere from shirt dresses to heels to headbands. Polkadots look best when used with retro fashions – a dotted full skirt with a twinset looks fresh, dotted baggy cropped pants with a tunic does not. This season’s dots are small, feminine and mainly kept with traditional shades such as black, navy, red and white. A navy polkadot blazer can look hip with white jeans and tank, a black dotted skirt looks darling with a white short-sleeved sweater and black belt. Red polkadots look great on shoes and other accessories (and combine with the contrast brights trend). As with animal prints and other patterns, keep your dots to one piece only. Dotted shoes do not call for dotted scarf and purse. Too many dots can look costumey, keep it minimal and you will keep it stylish.
Dress from Nordstrom, shoes from Piperlime

In general, this season seems to be The Beautifying of the Basic. Fun and feminine touches to the classic dress, jeans, white shirt and trousers. Accessories such as belts, bags and fabulous shoes add interest and color. Feminine fabrics and patterns add a fresh spin to classic pieces and the amount of variety allows every woman to look attractive, stylish and most of all, HERSELF. So enjoy shopping, for this season there is a trend out there made just for you!

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?

Ask Allie: Linen after Labor Day, Updating a Casual Wardrobe, Preventing the Muffin Top

Hi Allie:
I just ordered a pair of linen pants in dark brown. I eyed them all summer, and when they went on clearance, I pounced. My question is: When should the linen be packed away? I’d like to wear them a few times before fall/winter. Also, I live in Texas, if the scorching heat makes a difference!

-April

Linen is not as much a summer fabric as it is a tropical fabric. It’s popular in the summer because of how well it keeps the body cool, and that is actually looks presentable when crushed and wrinkled.

I may be very conservative to many in regard to when one should wear white and most summer fabrics (eyelet, seersucker, cotton gauze, gingham, madras), but linen is one that can transition a bit from season to season depending on where in the world you live.

I have a pair of white linen trousers that have already moved up to the attic. However my olive green linen short-sleeved shift dress is still in the closet and in the Washington DC area, I believe it can still have a couple more weeks of life. I think a pair of brown trousers can transition as well.

There isn’t going to be a snowstorm any time soon in Texas, and I doubt you are already packing up leather sandals for sturdy boots. Certain pieces of summer fabrics in more autumnal colors and silhouettes can equally survive the next several weeks.

Brown, black, charcoal, navy, plum, dark red, olive green… these are autumnal colors that look great in tropical fabrics like linen. Paired with solid leather sandals or flats, quality knits and lightweight sweaters, a pair of brown linen pants can be quite nice in Texas all through October. Linen dresses can look more like fall with peeptoes in place of sandals, heavier wooden jewelry in place of delicate necklaces, possibly a belt or jacket over the piece to add some stability while still staying relatively cool.

Post-Labor Day linen look from Sutton Studio for Bloomingdales.

I have a question about rise in jeans. Is it true that if you have a poochy belly that at waist jeans are the way to go? I have been reading this lately in magazines as they say lower and mid rise sometimes makes a “muffin top” over the waistband of jeans. What are your thoughts? -Renee

As a woman who has had a poochy belly since she was 16, I disagree with this thought. The problem is, women are not built like mannequins, and not all “pooches” are equal.

I have found most women who have tummies usually have the most issue with that which is below the belly button. Childbirth, weight loss and gain ends up showing the most in the lower part of the tummy. By having a true-waist jean, you are less likely to have a “muffin top,” but actually having that zipper and extra fabric from pockets all in that already heavier area just adds more focus and thickness to a problem area.

If you have an issue with your lower half, a good way to prevent the dreaded “muffin top” and not focus on the tummy is to get a jean that is just below the natural waist, and with a wide waistband that sits flat on the belly. A wider waistband (often more like a denim trouser or a novelty style of jeans) will be less likely to dig into soft flesh and will actually provide a mini-girdle to keep things more in place and smooth under tops.

If your issue is with an all-over tummy (poochy from rob cage to groin), a true-waist jean may be a good choice. It will keep the whole torso smooth without cutting a line in the center (making that “muffin top”). Though many It Girls are running around town in high-waisted jeans and tightly-tucked fitted tops, a more classic and polished way to wear true-waist jeans is with an untucked shirt that glides over curves, or a shirt that is tucked in, slightly bloused out and paired with a belt through the jean loops.

This jean from Lane Bryant has a wider waistband and minimal waist and pocket details which is flattering to a woman’s tummy. Not only that, it has a secret slimming panel built into the jeans!

Can you suggest a few pieces that I could pull off (casual) for work that won’t break my budget? I am 6 feet tall and wear a size 12 to a 14. I love my jeans and T-shirts but I am literally bored to death with my clothes at this point.
-Melinda

If you have a very casual work environment, you will need some additions to my list of staples for every woman’s wardrobe. It’s possible to add a couple of basic and budget-friendly pieces that can quickly transform a current collection.

- A pair of trousers in black or charcoal gray. Amazing how a scoop neck or v-neck tee can be gym wear with some yoga pants, but look quite polished with a proper pair of trousers. A pair that are a straight or boot cut, flat front, no front pockets (or a small coin pocket), unlined and in a fabric with at least 5% lycra means they will be comfortable, most likely able to be machine washed (though hang them to dry to keep them looking great), and versatile. Pair with basic sweaters, tees with a more feminine cut (slightly fitted, interesting necklines), and cotton shirts.

- A pair of city boots. These are also called booties and ankle boots. It’s a boot that either has an elastic gusset or a zip up the side, a slight heel, and are usually of leather or microfiber. Look for a pair that is light on decoration (no perforations, variety of fabrics, studs, etc.) so it is versatile and will last more than a season. You can often find this style of boot at store’s clearance sales because it is in style year after year yet designers slightly modify the look each time. Sticking with a heel that is neither too skinny nor too chunky, a toe box that is not too round, pointy or square and a simple look will mean that even though they were at a bargain price, they will be a wardrobe staple for years to come. My suggestion is black because it goes well with denim, the above mentioned pants and can dress up a bit better than brown.

- A great blazer or casual jacket. Nothing can jazz up a simple tee and jeans better than a great jacket. Again, this is an easy find on clearance racks at stores because it’s a staple for every season, just slightly changing in cut and fabric. Due to your height, it may often be hard to find a jacket that is long enough in the sleeves. If you can’t find the right length, ignore a classic length all together and go with a three-quarter or bracelet length sleeve. As for fabric, your best bet is a twill or canvas as that it will keep with the casual vibe, be easy to clean, and work year-round.

- A necklace that can be a signature piece. Hit your local craft fair, jewelry boutique, or even mall kiosk and you can find some amazing creative necklace out there. You may be the delicate chain with pendant sort of woman, or feel best in a long strand of homemade clay beads. Bold metal, funky shells from the sea, or layers of turquoise… a necklace can take knits and denim to the next level with little effort. Best thing about a great necklace? You can wear it every single day of the week and no one questions you. As that this piece can be worn every day, don’t purchase unless you love it, it feels good on you, and the colors and style compliments your current collection. It’s easy to be sucked in by pretty baubles, but even $5 is too much spent if you never end up wearing the piece. If a necklace isn’t your thing, a similar concept can be had with earrings, a bracelet, a scarf or even a brooch. It all depends on your personal sense of style and what feels good!

This is a great example of how a necklace can transform a simple top and jeans – look by New York & Company

You may also wish to visit:
The Staples For Every Woman’s Wardrobe
Wardrobe Hints for Warm ClimatesUnexpected “Staples” for a Summer (and beyond) Wardrobe
From Allie’s Mailbag…

Updating The Closet for Spring with Boden

I’m all for a wardrobe of workhorses; pieces that fit, flatter, are versatile and relatively timeless. However, I also find it important to update your closet each season with a couple new trends, fun colors or prints to add your personal style and keep your closet from being boring. Boden is one of my favorite places to go for pieces that infuse fun into a wardrobe without causing one to look like a fashion victim. Great colors, cheery prints, some of the best striped tops (and y’all know I love me some striped tops), but made with such quality and attention to detail that their fun pieces end up being wardrobe workhorses too.

One piece I have loved from Boden for a long time is their Ravello Top, a blouse that’s a classic yet makes a statement. A machine washable silk blend makes it a piece that can dress up and down with ease; traditional enough to be a blouse under your interview suit but can also dress down with jeans or get festive with a full midi skirt and heels. While the solids are great, I was immediately drawn to the Blue/Red Paintbox Floral print and knew it would be a great closet addition for spring. Thanks to Boden’s phenomenal phone customer service, I went with a size 12 and think it fits quite nicely.

This print is bold enough to hold its own with dark denim; I added leopard haircalf flats and a simple black leather clutch for a great outfit to grab cocktails with my girls or to go to game night at a friend’s house.

The top is perfect for the warming temps; while it looks great under a blazer or cardigan it looks professional on its own. For this look I paired it with white linen pants and used a hot pink skinny belt to switch up the blouse’s silhouette.

Expect to see a few more pieces from Boden on the blog this season; I think the line fits my curves nicely as well as my personal style and I found a lot of pieces that will nicely update my wardrobe this season but likely be favorites for many seasons to come!

This post was sponsored by Boden through their partnership with POPSUGAR. While I was compensated by POPSUGAR to write a post about Boden, all opinions are my own.

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Ask Allie: Plus Size Wardrobe Staples

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Allie Update

Well hello there everyone, from the snowy Washington DC region! Heading into my third week with my arm, last week I was approved for six weeks short term disability. Today I was supposed to go to the orthopedist for my checkup but with the ice and snow we got last night and today, the office called this morning to reschedule for a later date.

I am SOOOOO glad I’m off painkillers! As soon as I mention my broken arm I get jokes about getting “good meds.” Well while Vicodin and Percocet helped me sleep and be more comfortable physically, they were awful mentally. I was whiny boo boo kitty, had a hard time forming coherent thoughts, couldn’t handle loud noises or lots of activity, and always felt a bit ready to throw up. I’ve been reading The Goldfinch for a while and decided to finish it while out of work (Kindle FTW, perfection for one-handed reading!), and I don’t want to ruin it for you, but there are characters in the book who abuse prescription drugs, one mainly using Vicodin, and the combination of the awful feeling and the book made me stop the drugs last Monday. After a couple days I was able to sleep up to six hours without waking, feel so much more alive and positive!

And have to give the biggest of props to Karl, who has been an utter rockstar through all of this. Making sure I took my meds, taking me to appointments, doing all the dishes and laundry and cleaning, putting Em to bed and bathing her, bathing ME, feeding us, and being so zen through the crazy. My sister has also been so fantastic, helping with Emerson and me, giving Karl a bit of a break. My mom has been so helpful, offering to watch Em during appointments and coming over to help.

And the wonderful people I have met through blogging have also been wonderful. It has made me tear up to see how brands I started partnering with a year or so ago are now friends, reaching out, sending well wishes, offering help. I’ve gotten so many sweet comments and emails from you all, I wish I could type better so I can let you know how much your messages mean and how glad I have connected with you. And my virtual friends, be you IRL friends who are also bloggers or have moved far away, readers who have become friends, or fellow bloggers I have gotten to know well, you have been so great during this time.

Speaking of those friends, I reached out to them and asked if they could help out a bit while I heal. So every so often I will be having them guest post on Wardrobe Oxygen. I have reached out to those who I think can provide content that you would enjoy, and will be a nice complement to the content I provide and the conversations we have here in the comments and on Twitter and Facebook.

While having my arm broken sucks big time, it has been so great to have this time to spend with Emerson and Karl. I type this with Emerson cuddled up on the couch next to me watching Pokemon 4Ever (I’ve seen this movie eight times since Friday, but it means eight times I have snuggled with Emerson without having to rush off to work or a blog thing), Karl in the kitchen making breakfast, soon coming to join us. I realize how busy I have been, rarely at home and when here, usually attached to a phone or laptop. This down time has been a great exercise in reassessing priorities, and a great time to connect with my family on a deeper level. I miss writing desperately, but I feel blessed that it was only my arm and I am recuperating surrounded by such love.

Much love to all of you, miss you!
- Alison

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Weekend Update

Friday night Karl and I went to bed before the sun set. My body woke me at 6am, I got up, brushed my teeth, stretched some… and then went back to bed until Emerson came in to wake us around 7:30.

We got up, Karl went off to teach and Emerson and I had our Saturday morning routine. We ate oatmeal and blueberries, she watched Veggie Tales (girl LOVES this show, more than any other show or movie, not even sure where she saw it for the first time), I read my crappy but addictive book (above and review soon). I gave her a new glitter tattoo (she wanted to look like Daddy).

We went to Emerson’s dance class. She showed off her tattoo, I chatted with the great parents of her classmates, she listened to her teacher and learned new things. I’m really glad they all signed up for the summer, it’s a nice group of kids that get along so well, and we parents get along too.

We then went to Starbucks. I usually get coffee, but I had accrued 12 stars on my Starbucks app so got a free drink and splurged on a Caramel Light Frappucinno. Emerson had her standard pink cake pop and cup of water.  We chatted about class and what she wanted to do that weekend.

We came home, Emerson changed into play clothes, and I headed out for some time alone. Finally got my hair cut and colored (first cut since the disaster cut), then went and got my brows waxed. Sitting all foiled, I read People and Us Weekly and all kinds of junk I normally don’t read.

Karl grilled salmon and made massaged kale salad for an early dinner. Emerson started yawning at 6pm so we went up early for a bath and bedtime. Karl and I snuggled on the couch and started watching Sherlock but I started getting sleepy around 8:30 so we went upstairs and read in bed and I was asleep before 9:30.

Sunday, we spent time with friends and family, I went to the farmer’s market for the first time this season and even got in a 30 minute power nap later in the day.

I’m feeling better, and I am so thankful to all of you. Your sweet words, advice, personal stories have truly helped and I know I am not alone. I truly love you guys, and feel so blessed that we have connected through this blog. Thank you.

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Vacation Update

Greetings from Elmore, Vermont!

I have no cell reception in this town and only a couple bars in the neighboring town; Internet is terribly spotty except at 6am, when our college-aged cousin and her friend aren’t gaming/on Tumblr/Twitter/Facebook/some sort of chat. And for this I am eternally grateful. Don’t get me wrong, I love blogging and miss the community with you all here, on Facebook, and Twitter. However, it feels so darn healthy to take a break from it all. I have read two books, taken naps, written just for myself and not for the blog. Yesterday I spent almost the entire day in the lake, teaching Emerson how to swim. 90% of the time this week I have no clue what time it is, and have no need to know.

Come on, how can you NOT love a place that has local produce and meats, self-serve popcorn machine for 50 cents a bag, a post office with PO boxes, and a great wine and beer selection right next to the motor oil?  I want to pack it in my suitcase and take it home with me

We’re staying in a house right on Lake Elmore, which is an itty bitty town. We walk to the general store for provisions, which sells bottles of wine right next to bottles of motor oil, and is also the town post office. We can drive to nearby Morrisville to visit the cousins’ restaurant and farm, but even that town is pretty small – lots of sporting goods stores, little cafes, and churches.

The TV rarely is turned on, and if so it’s usually an old VHS tape of a Disney movie to entertain Emerson early in the morning or while we are prepping dinner. Lack of cell and Internet reception means more time for family card games and just sitting on the deck, staring at the water. My husband is doing yoga and chi gong classes for us each day, and I feel weird aches deep in my triceps and hips from the regular stretching. I haven’t worn any makeup except mascara all week, and that is only the days when I know I am actually leaving Elmore. My hair air-dries to its Kip Winger fabulousness, parting in the middle and feathering to the sides and I don’t really give a damn. When it’s in the way, I pull it up in a messy ponytail without glancing at a mirror. Denim cutoffs with hoodies, cotton sundresses with the same beige leather sandals every day, I occasionally get crazy and add a pair of silver hoops or my cuff bracelet.

The only think that sucks about this vacation is that we are sharing a home with a large quantity of other people. We’re sharing a bedroom with Emerson, which means we sneak in to bed at night, trying to be as quiet as possible. The bedroom has two walls of windows and only thin cellular shades so when the sun rises, so does Emerson. The latest she has woken is 7am. My husband and I hardly ever get a moment alone, so while we’re having an amazing time as a family, the romance department is lacking (save for a quickie in the laundry closet the other day while everyone went to the Ben & Jerry’s factory and Emerson was napping… may be TMI but hey, we’re all adults here).

But what sucks is also what is great – all this family having fun together. Enjoying one another’s company. Growing up, my sister and I were alone a lot. Both my mother and father were much younger than their siblings so I have cousins who are the same age as my parents. Family vacations, usually the only people our age were each other and this gap in ages I think is a reason why we aren’t closer with our family. However, my husband’s family is closer in age. His dad’s sister has two daughters who are around our age with children close to Emerson’s age. This week we are staying with relatives from his mom’s side – his two cousins are less than a decade older than we so we can enjoy hanging out together, have similar interests, and they all have childhood memories they share of family vacations together having fun.

Emerson at her cousin’s farm with one of her cousins (right) and “Moose,” her new idol (left)

It has been a really cool and unique experience for me, and I am glad to be able to offer this opportunity to Emerson. Emerson will most likely be our only child, but she is blessed to have a very loving family on both her mother as well as her father’s side. To give her the chance to spend a week with these awesome folks, to play in a lake and idolize a sweet little 12-year old boy she has decided to call “Moose”; to eat ice cream for breakfast and learn how to swim; to truly get to know her family – her history and where she comes from… it’s pretty awesome.

So while I miss the blog and I miss all of you, I am having a pretty memorable week in a tiny town in Vermont. It’s giving me a really great outlook, helping me prioritize things in my life, and giving me the energy to come back to “the real world” next week and tackle it with a fresh set of eyes.

And don’t worry, those eyes will again be accented with mascara!

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A Nordstrom Update

The day after my previous post about Nordstrom, I was contacted by their Corporate Communications department via email and then by telephone. Today Chris from Nordstrom and I had a lovely call during my lunch hour and I have more insight concerning the change in shipping styles and policies for the company.

Before, if the Nordstrom warehouse didn’t have your Via Spigas or Rachel Palley in stock, you would be told that. Tough tootsies, mamacita. Now what Nordstrom does is their system will check all the Nordstrom stores to see if one of them has your item in stock. This means you have a better chance of getting the item you desire and not seeing the dreaded “Out of Stock” message. Also, Nordstrom is working with some retailers so they can deliver the item directly from THEIR warehouse, instead of having it shipped twice –first to Nordstrom, and then to you. Think Amazon.com.

This process has been going on for about a year, and Nordstrom is working hard to improve and perfect the process. However in the mean time, if you order five things, they could possibly come from five different stores (or a mix of stores, warehouse and the brand’s headquarters). Chris from Nordstrom asked for the order number for the order I referenced in my post. He was able to see from his computer that the tights and bracelet came from headquarters, the shoes from a store, and the earrings directly from the manufacturer (what they call a “drop ship vendor”).

When Chris realized that big box only held that tiny jewelry box and knew that the shipment came from a “drop ship vendor,” he said he would be contacting the vendor to comment on this and hope that they will use less packing materials in the future to be consistent with Nordstrom’s style and beliefs.

Yes, Nordstrom has Green methods and beliefs. They work hard to be eco-friendly and are proud to be a landfill-free at headquarters. Chris informed me that Nordstrom has ordered some new shipping materials – new box sizes and even some small shipping pouches for accessories and other small objects. We Nordstrom customers will be seeing this change in the future.

And in the future, the shipping process should be streamlined – they will be able to comingle store and warehouse items in shipments.

Thanks Nordstrom, for taking the time to contact me and answer all of my questions. I am still a loyal customer and look forward to the changes in the future!

Posting Update

So we have gotten word that my company is installing a sort of spyware on the computers. The goal is to help control bandwidth, but it means I need to be far more… thoughtful with what sites I visit on work hours.

I don’t plan on stopping with blogging. My plan is to write up in Word on my lunch hour, email to myself and post once I get home. Posts will be delayed but not stopped. I just wanted to give you all the heads up, and thank you for your understanding!

Wardrobe Update

As the weather changes and the body continues to change (and change and change…), so the wardrobe changes.

New additions:
Leaf green fine gauge jewelneck cardigan from Lands End (not exact sweater – one I got is sold out). This color was on sale, which is why I picked it. However, I love this color. It is the color of new grass in spring – not eye-popping apple, not Kelly or emerald, and not olive. Just a fresh color that is an unexpected neutral and looks fantastic with tan, white, cream, navy, brown, denim, and colors like pink and orange. This weekend I wore it with my Seven jeans, brown croco Sofft heeled sandals and a white ribbed tank for brunch and Twilight movie-thon at a friend’s house. Yesterday I wore it with a navy jersey dress and my Duo Bern boots for work.

Denim trousers from Gap. Gosh, this is what, the fourth pair of these pants that I have purchased? I just love these pants. Right now I fit in a 14 regular when wearing a bit of a heel. This is exciting because this time last year I wasn’t even able to look okay in their size 16 trousers and was between petite and regular and feeling frustrated. I love denim trousers – I am allowed to wear them to work (wearing today with my black deep cowl sweater from Ann Taylor and black city boots), and they are more polished and flattering than classic jeans.

More Banana Republic Pima Tanks. They are like $15.99 right now online, and this weekend there was 30% off Gap, Inc. stores. I bought every color they had in my size. Haven’t yet received them, but they should be arriving this week.

More Caslon ribbed tanks. Two white, one gray, and one black – nice and fresh for spring.  Man, this is the best tank I have ever tried – thick, stretchy, the right length, bra doesn’t show in the neckline, doesn’t stretch out, doesn’t fade…

Long strand of turquoise stone beads. I adore turquoise and this strand is long enough to double to hit at chest-level, or triple up and have a short necklace. The beads are lumpy and bumpy and natural looking – I expect to be wearing the heck out of them with sundresses and sandals this summer.

What I Need:
Nursing tanks. I have one I halfway like from Bravado, but it’s starting to look old. I would like one in white, one in black, and one in some color.

A couple solid-colored dresses. I ordered one from Lands End but I ordered petite and it is too short. But thinking black, gray, navy, that sort of thing. Dresses I can wear with flip flops in summer, or be able to dress up enough for work.

Black pumps. The black patent Mary Janes I have I despise – the straps stay closed with Velcro and they pop open while walking. I need some shoe that would work for work, but also if I need to go to a nicer affair (house or worship, daytime wedding, etc.).

At least one funky jersey top. We’re talking dolman sleeves, drapey neck, something interesting to it. Solid color, and a color I adore (blue, purple, berry, pink, aqua…). Something that will work with black pants or jeans. Lightweight enough that I could go dancing and not overheat.

A maxi dress. I don’t care that they are on their way out. I want a jersey or cotton maxi dress I can pair with flip flops or sandals and wear to a friend’s party. Or I can wear it to a music festival or to walk down to the farmer’s market. I bought one over the winter but it was a bit too boobalicious. I never wore it, left the tags on and after a few weeks in my closet I just had to return it. I don’t think I would have worn it anywhere except on a vacation to a tropical locale.

This weekend I plan to go up in the attic and look through what is up there – any clothes that may fit this spring/summer and what MUST be swapped/donated/Freecycled. Speaking of which, thinking of doing the blog again where I sell some of my old clothes that are in great condition. Another blogger who has a similar sense of style to me (J. Crew, Maggy London, Banana Republic, Gap, etc.) contacted me and has a few things in her old size (she has had great success with Weight Watchers) that she would also like to include in the sale. Not trying to make a big profit, just want our good stuff to go to a person who will appreciate it and wear it well (meaning not with sandals and pantyhose). Will keep you posted!

An Allie Update

So, to let the cat out of the bag… I am starting a new job the week after Thanksgiving.

alieblue wardrobe oxygen washington DC city nations capitalIt’s a different field, but similar job description and duties. I have been at my current company for almost three years and while it is a very good company full of very nice people (who do on occasion wear Quacker Factory), I was ready to move and grow in a different direction.

The new job is in D.C. proper (arial view is stock photo, not where job is) and in a different field, so you may see a slight change in my attire and outlook – from my past working in the city, the life and even the air is so much different from the suburbs of Maryland. I am looking forward to it.

I was instant messaging with my friend yesterday who is on the hunt for a new job and we were discussing to questions we wish you could ask during the interview process…

1. Will you stick me in an office or a cube?
2. If it is a cube, how tall are the walls and how much privacy will I get?
3. If it is a cube, do your current employees understand and adhere to cubicle etiquette (not using speakerphone, using headphones for music, not taking off their shoes or bring tunafish sandwiches for lunch)
4. If it is an office, is it an actual office or a converted supply closet?
5. If it is an office, will I be sharing it with another person (or a 10’6’ stack of file boxes)?
6. Do you provide us with goodies like coffee and snacks? Cuz it’s nice when I don’t have to go to Starbucks every morning… my wallet likes free coffee, especially if it’s good
7. Describe your most annoying and disgusting coworker and let me know his proximity to my future desk, in inches.
8. Do you recycle? If you say you do, do you actually recycle the stuff or have the cleaning crew toss it with the rest of the trash (I do not kid, a company on my resume used to do this, saying the recycling boxes and bins helped employees “sleep better at night” but they didn’t want to front the cost of actual recycling).
9. Am I allowed to decorate my desk area, or do you like things sterile and uniform (another company would not even let us pick our calendars for fear of them being offensive to colleagues. Sucks to be in a gray box all day without a picture of family, a goofy cartoon pinned up, a calendar my mom makes every year from Snapfish)?
10. Do you have a holiday party? How fancy, how much does it cost and can I bring a date?

I didn’t ask any of the above, but did find out the attire at this job seems to be even more casual than my current company (except when meeting with clients) and everyone seems to genuinely like one another and joke around and hang out with each other. Staff varies in age, but seems to have far more employees near my own age and it’s in a central/good part of the city where I will be able to meet up with lots of my friends for lunch and after work. So, yay! Just had to share with you guys!

(this also explains why I had a few weird fashion days lately and a Friday with no pictures but a pinstriped pantsuit)

Weight Watchers Update, Lingerie Update, and Some TMI…

I would like to thank Weight Watchers for making thongs comfortable again. I don’t think I mentioned this much on my blog in the past, but pre-pregnancy I was a thong sort of gal. Never worried about VPL, didn’t show through light colored trousers, didn’t ride up and cut my butt cheeks in half, thongs were great. I especially loved my thongs by Hanky Panky – they were cute and comfortable and Nordstrom always had some deal on them during their Anniversary sales.

Then my belly expanded with a developing fetus, and my little stretch lace and mesh thongs couldn’t handle it. They rolled down below the belly, which caused the back to either roll down or give me a wedgie. I switched to boyshorts. By third trimester I was wearing good ‘ol cotton Granny Panties – a nice high cut brief several sizes larger than my Hanky Pankies or Cosabellas.

After giving birth, the belly shrunk… a bit. When you give birth to a baby, the belly is still there, it’s just not firm. So instead of a basketball, I had a FUPA. FUPAs and thongs do NOT mix. They get caught in that weird space between the postpartum belly and the rest of you. And getting REALLY TMI, the last thing you want after having a baby is a wedgie or anything even slightly resembling such a thing.

So for the first year of Emerson’s life, I mainly wore cotton high cut briefs. After a few months, I did buy a couple lacy boyshorts, but they usually sat at the most awful place on my belly, and I found that they would often be too tight in the waist to accommodate my new hips and rear, and if it was comfortable on the bottom, it would fall down at the waist.

Over the past few months I have been able to find pretty underwear that isn’t Granny Panties. A few microfiber, silky and lacy numbers, still covering the rear and front, but a bit more feminine. The body was seeming to settle in, and I could find underwear that I could really really wear!

And then I started Weight Watchers, and these semi-feminine undies started looking weird on me. So I went up in the attic, and just for giggles pulled out my Hanky Panky “Retro” high-waist thongs (which never were that high waisted on me). A couple weeks ago, they were wearable but not comfortable and rolled down when I sat. They went to the very very back of the lingerie drawer.

Today I started off thinking I was going to wear a dress so I slipped on a pair of black microfiber briefs that would be VPL-free and also good coverage in case of a strong gust of wind. Then I switched to my denim trousers, and feared VPL. So I tried on a pair of my thongs. I figured that the trousers would at least keep them from rolling down all day long.

I just went to the bathroom and realized… these thongs are comfy! No wedgie, no rolling, no digging anywhere! So a big thanks to Weight Watchers for letting me become a thong girl again!

Fashion Fantasy Closet Update

An update to this post about my fantasy fashion closet:

Wow, you all are AMAZING! Thanks to helpful comments, emails, and messages on my comment form I have already found some fabulous options for those pieces I desire in my closet… and some pieces I already own!

Sequined Peplum Top
I am still on this hunt for this. Will find one but its sleeveless, another and it doesn’t come in my size, another and the peplum seems to start up at my ribcage and make it look like a maternity top. Figuring I will have more luck as the season progresses and people start planning for holiday parties.

Olive Anorak-Style Jacket
So many of you suggested Kohl’s and I stopped by my local location and yes, this is the place to go for such a jacket. Unfortunately none of them were quite right for me – either a detail in the wrong place to emphasize the negative, or a strange fit on some part of me. However, just because it didn’t work for me doesn’t mean it won’t work for you – Kohl’s is a great source for such fashion with variety, decent style, and great prices! I will continue to look, and use reader Laurel’s suggestion of checking thrift stores, though the more I think about it, the less I think this type of jacket works with my winter wardrobe and maybe it’s fate telling me to hold off until spring.

Black Wedge Booties
Still searching!

Black Photography Dress
I ordered this dress from Lands’ End but can’t tell if it has pockets. If so, I am willing to alter it, change the color of the buttons to make it my new photography dress. If not, thanks to reader Bridget’s suggestion I may again try eShakti. I didn’t have the best experience with them, but if I use true measurements this time I may have success.

Black Photography Pants Ensemble
No luck so far on separates, but I did get this sweater from Ann Taylor which looks cute with my skinny black ponte pants and tall boots or with a regular-fit pant and flat shoes. Plenty of room for memory cards, a couple AA batteries and business cards!

Black Photography Shoes
Reader KP suggested this bootie from Franco Sarto, and I will have to try it to see how it works with my thicker ankles. But it’s a good idea to wear with pants. Reader Kiki Bee suggested the “Air Talia Lace” from Cole Haan, which could also be good but is sold out (though I may check my nearby Nordstrom Rack).  However, with her suggestion I found these Cole Haan wedges. I have two pairs of Cole Haan Air Talia shoes – high-heeled booties which are pretty comfy for such height and style, and sandals which I often wear for photography shoots in the summer.

White Cotton Shirt
Reader Sarah suggested Ann Taylor and a tailor; I have had success with Ann Taylor before with their silk shirts but haven’t bought any cotton ones. Will have to check out this season. Reader Nobodyssister suggested the Coldwater Creek No Iron collection. My last experience with Coldwater Creek was lackluster but I am willing to try again, especially with a positive review from a fellow busty lady! Reader KP reminded me of Eddie Bauer’s great shirts – I had one back when I worked retail and loved it – will have to go check them out again!

Pleated Leather Skirt
Reader Dawn informed me about Make Your Own Jeans.com, a site where you can… make your own jeans! Choose your style, your fabric, give them your measurements and you can get a custom pair of jeans at a reasonable price. While they carry jeans, they also have other custom pieces… such as pleated leather skirts! And for only $110! I haven’t tried out the site yet, but this gets me very excited!

Black Taffeta Party Skirt
I got this one off eBay (the circular style). I must admit I was nervous dropping the cash, but two of you said you bought one of these skirts and was pleased. While the “taffeta” is more like the acetate that one uses to line a skirt, it is quite perfect in style and looks more expensive once properly steamed and pressed. Since I was unfamiliar with the brand, I sized up with a 14 and it fits comfortably. Smooth waistband, not too full, hits below the knee and has pockets!

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So thank you THANK YOU for all of your suggestions! I’m getting there and with your help think I will be able to fill the holes currently in my closet!

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Weight Watchers Update

This is what was on the flip chart when I attended Weight Watchers this past week. I somehow forgot that the first meeting of the year is packed with those who put weight loss on their New Year’s Resolution list and ended up spending the entire session standing in line waiting to be weighed.

I removed 1.8 pounds!

I decided to use 2012 as a time to start Weight Watchers again. To measure, to track, to be conscious of what I am doing and what is going in my mouth. Deciding on chicken instead of steak, researching before eating to know that the vanilla cupcake is a whole PointsPlus lower than the chocolate, and deciding that to enjoy a cupcake for a coworker’s birthday I will have a lunch high in vegetables so I can still stay on target.

I got my husband on the plan, and he has kept the fridge and pantry full of vegetables, fruit, and low-PointsPlus foods like chicken breasts, low-fat cheese and dairy products, and FiberOne bars. I bought Weight Watchers-brand snack bars and chips to have in my desk drawer for times of cravings (by the way the ones with coconut in them taste just like Girl Scout Samoa cookies!).

But the quote above is so true. With Weight Watchers, I am relearning what is healthy. Healthy isn’t necessarily depriving my body of certain foods, removing all carbs, counting calories, being obsessive in any way. It’s making healthy decisions with healthy foods. With Weight Watchers I no longer fantasize about Ben & Jerry’s or Tostitos with a jar of Doritos brand queso, or a whole box of spiral pasta with butter and cheese and garlic powder. My husband is cooking kale, and the smell of the garlic and greens is making my mouth water.

I was talking to a coworker about the grapefruit diet, which I did back at the beginning of last decade. My sister and I did it together, we both lost a ton of weight. We dined on lobster and butter-drenched broccoli, cooked cheese in the microwave until it was crispy and dipped it in sour cream. We ate tons of fat, hardly a single carb, dropped dress sizes, and I had the worst stomach pains and gas. I dreamed about watermelon and blueberries, salivated over baked potatoes and felt terrible guilt whenever I broke my diet. On Weight Watchers when I spend a day, a week, or even a month not tracking or thinking about Weight Watchers, I don’t beat myself up. I just get back on track and the weight comes off again.

And when I am not 100% on track, I still have taken many life lessons from Weight Watchers to heart. I drink water all the time, I eat breakfast every day, I keep trigger foods out of my house without feeling deprived, I choose produce over most anything else.

This was another quote that my Weight Watchers leader shared at the meeting, and such a true one.  It’s a new year, and if what you’re doing isn’t working, then stop doing it.  There’s no point in torturing and depriving yourself if you aren’t getting the results you want or enjoying the life you currently have.  Each person is different, with different needs. I am not saying Weight Watchers is the Holy Grail, but I am saying that if you’re feeling like a hamster on a wheel with your current plan, there may be a better choice for you.  Take care of yourself, nurture yourself.  Losing weight should be to better your body and your life, not be torture.

How was your week?  What are you doing to get on track for 2012?

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Weight Watchers Update

This week I removed 3.6 pounds – that means I only have to remove 0.4 pounds more to be back on track again.

3.6 may seem like a lot but there are a couple factors:

  • Last week I wore a denim shirt and leather skirt to weigh-in while this week I stripped down to a ribbed tank and silk skirt
  • I actually tracked this past week, first time really using eTools on a daily basis in MONTHS
  • I went down to 26 PointsPlus

As I mentioned last week (and active Weight Watchers members know), PointsPlus changed to PointsPlus 2012 and one change is your number of allotted points in a day. While some stayed the same, many who were previously at 29 points in a day found that their allotment dropped (no one is below 26 points). When I logged into eTools this week, it asked me my current weight and informed me that my new number was 26.

Old Pocket Guide, meet New Pocket Guide!

While some are grumpy about this change, I embrace it. With pretty much all fruits and vegetables being 0 PointsPlus, I often had a hard time using my daily allowance, and I felt that it gave me too much gray area to eat things not that good for this body. The change to 26 was the kick I needed, where I really had to think about each bite going in my mouth, again having to make smart choices.

I also got back to tracking, which was a major eye opener. I had been on auto pilot with Weight Watchers for a while, guestimating values and portion sizes. It’s easy to forget a cookie or snack-sized candy bar (or spoonful of Emerson’s mac and cheese) when not actively tracking. I used to have eTools as my homepage when I opened all my computers, but over time I switched it to iGoogle. This week I went back to my work computer opening to eTools for a constant reminder to track.


So on to PointsPlus 2012 – how is it different from 2011’s PointsPlus?

PowerStart Sessions
I mentioned this last week, but with PointsPlus 2012 they are really encouraging folks to stick around after the basic meeting for three weeks of PowerStart Sessions. Not only will these meetings be an introduction to Weight Watchers newbies, but give tips and life lessons to veterans on how to succeed with PointsPlus 2012.

Adjusted Daily PointsPlus Allotments
Many who were previously at 29 daily PointsPlus now are at 28, 27, or 26. They surveyed many members and found they didn’t eat all their PointsPlus value each day, and found they were more successful shedding weight with a subtle decrease in their daily allotment. In this week’s Weekly, Weight Watchers states, “…a daily target as low as 26 will also support safe weight loss with no adverse health effects, without compromising flexibility, and while satisfying the recommended intake of vitamins and other essential nutrients.” Weight Watchers feels that if you were happy at your old target of 29, you can stick with that target. The Weekly also offers tips on when to possibly bump your target up or down depending on travel, hunger levels, or to give yourself a “boot camp” or recharge. The goal is to lose ½ to 2 pounds a week, and you should choose a target that fulfils that without making you feel deprived.

Encouraged Flexibility
Based on the meeting and the new Weight Watchers materials I received this week, I feel Weight Watchers is really pushing the fact that their plan is flexible and customizable. They want to show members (and potential members) that there is no one specific diet for anyone. Every human has a different reason for being on Weight Watchers, has different unique goals during the plan, and has different unique lifestyles. Weight Watchers can be customized to your lifestyle, personal tastes, and weight loss goals. Leaders, the website, and the PointsPlus 2012 materials regularly discuss bumping up and down your target (though never below 26) to survive holidays and vacations without deprivation or to boost weight loss (again they regularly mention you shouldn’t usually be losing more than 2 pounds a week – they even asked me about my 3.6). They’re really focusing on slow, steady but long-term weight loss.

My leader always ends our meeting with at least one inspirational quote; the two featured here are the ones she shared. While Winston Churchill’s quote fits perfectly with PointsPlus 2012, I loved this quote for me and fellow emotional eaters. It’s so easy when you’re feeling blue to counteract it with a piece of cake, a gallon of ice cream, a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. And while these foods will fill your belly, comfort you and possibly remind you of happy times, they aren’t a replacement for happiness. So before you dig into your favorite comfort food… stop and ask yourself WHY you are eating it. If it is to be happy, consider what will provide true happiness – a bubble bath, listening to your favorite album in its entirety, 15 minutes of meditation in a quiet room, two chapters of a novel uninterrupted, a walk in the woods, a phone call with a good friend. This is something I need to be better with – when my husband works night shifts and the baby is asleep I often go to pasta or cheese to keep me company. I find the Bravo channel or reruns of Sex and the City seem to go well with cheese quesadillas and a very large glass of red wine. Lately I am catching myself, and deciding to feel happiness by actively doing something and thinking of the long-term effects of my decision. It’s hard, but this quote helps me stay focused.


How was your week? Any successes? Setbacks?  Recipes or tips you’d like to share?

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Weight Watchers Update

I haven’t been to Weight Watchers in a very very long time. Not only that, I completely dropped the plan. Some habits have stuck – drinking lots of water, cutting out some things I don’t love enough to eat like bread baskets and dessert, choosing the salmon over the fried chicken and staying away from most fast food. But that’s about it. On Thanksgiving I ate turkey skin and drenched everything in gravy. That weekend I ate two pieces of pumpkin cheesecake and washed them down with two glasses of wine while I was sitting alone in my living room watching Bravo. Yeah, those sorts of things.

So when I got on the scale last night and saw that I gained four pounds I wasn’t surprised in the least. I hoped it would be more like two pounds, but I think a big number like four was just the kick in the pants that I needed.

The meeting was, as always, really helpful. I usually get there and think this is a waste of my time. I could be home with my family, I could be returning that dress to Target, I could be writing a blog post for tomorrow. But then I calm down, settle in, and learn something. As always, it seemed as though Weight Watchers knew what the scale would say to me, and made the meeting fit around it. On the board was written:

How do you use the weight you get at the scale?

Good question. How do you react to a gain? Do you curse the scale and get frustrated? Do you choose to give up, or fight even harder? How about a gain? Do you high-five yourself, or do you stop to think about what was different that week and how you can keep up the good work?

When I first saw the gain of four pounds, I was sad. Disappointed. Frustrated. But then as I settled into the meeting I realized I had no reason to feel that way. I totally dropped the plan all together and gee… what did I expect to happen? I can’t be disappointed if I didn’t put forth any effort. I am going to use the gain at the scale as a warning of what can happen if I don’t stick to these new life habits through Weight Watchers. I don’t want to go back to when I felt as though I was a stranger in my own body.

The next topic we discussed was:

How have you made the plan uniquely yours?

People discussed how they never use Activity Points, even though they regularly work out. Another woman said she never uses her extra points until the weekend, and then keeps them for going drinking with her friends. Another woman said that if she dips into any extra points, she never removes weight so she adheres to her daily 29 – no more, no less. It really showed how Weight Watchers is customizable – you don’t have to eat the same breakfast every day to remove weight, you don’t have to be stuck with rice cakes and celery stalks. You can eat birthday cake and get drunk with your girl friends on the plan and still be successful.

So my plan is to get back on the plan. The past couple days I have stuck to standbys – oatmeal breakfast, 6” turkey subs at Subway, Progresso soups, fish and salad for dinner. But this weekend I am pretending to be a new member of Weight Watchers, reading up on it, getting the proper food in my fridge, tracking on a daily basis.

Weight Watchers 2012:
Note to those who are doing Weight Watchers on their own – eTools has updated where if you were at 29 daily PointsPlus, you may now have a daily value of 26, 27, or 28. Weight Watchers also updated the plan for 2012; from an email I received from them today:

Come to your meeting:

  • Learn more: Pick up your new Meet PointsPlus 2012 booklet
  • Recharge your efforts: Stay for a PowerStart® Session with a new PowerStart tracker filled with a week’s worth of preTracked meals.
  • Learn ways to personalize your plan: Options for greater flexibility.
  • New weekly PointsPlus activity goal: To help you move more.

Check out our site and see what’s new:

  • New site design: Find what’s relevant to you, faster

Coming Soon:

  • New tools: Calculate and track at the grocery store with the new Barcode scanner app

I went to check out the new Weight Watchers site – they now have it set where you can access your eTools from any part of the site.

As for Weight Watchers as a whole, they are more strongly promoting “Simply Filling” which is a plan very similar to Weight Watchers Core of yore – you have certain low-carb/high-protein “Power Foods” that you don’t have to track. I did Core many years ago and liked it because I didn’t have to measure and track as carefully as classic Weight Watchers. However with the new PointsPlus I think both are easy, it’s more about what is best for your personal tastes and lifestyle.

While my leader has always encouraged us to stay after the meeting for the new member Getting Started meeting for a refresher, Weight Watchers 2012 is taking that a step further with PowerStart. From the Weight Watchers site:


PowerStart is a three-part introduction to the PointsPlus program, over three weeks, with your Leader. This is an interactive session during which you’ll practice living with the PointsPlus program. You’ll ask questions, take part in practical exercises, exchange ideas with other Weight Watchers members and get a week’s worth of meal ideas that help you on your way to success.
 

Each of the three PowerStart sessions starts with a quick briefing on the program essentials, and then dives in to different skills you’ll use to succeed. No matter what week you start, you’ll learn valuable skills that will see you through your first week on Plan. In weeks two and three, you’ll add to that solid base, with the opportunity to ask follow-up questions with some time on Plan under your belt. At the end of the three weeks, you’ll get another book, Living PointsPlus, that will help you keep going all the way to your goal.

Most important of all: You can attend these sessions any time. If, after your first three weeks, you’d like to review what you learned in week 1 with the benefit of three weeks’ experience, then you’re more than welcome to stay. If you’ve been on Plan for weeks, months, even years — join in and really master the basics! Not only might you learn something new; you might also teach something to those around you.

I am looking forward to learning more about the changes to Weight Watchers and I will be sure to share it with you.


So how have you been with your weightloss journey? Any successes? Setbacks? New tips or recipes you would like to share?

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Weight Watchers Update

I gained 1.4 pounds this week.

My mom says that she found that getting your period always made her pack on two pounds. If that’s true for me as well, you could say I actually lost 0.6 pounds…

Or maybe I just need to ramp up my plan.

I still don’t exercise outside of walking to the farmer’s market on Sundays. I broke my Camelbak bottle so I am not sipping water at home the way I do at work. I bought Smart Ones instead of Lean Cuisines because they were on sale and they are way more unsatisfying (and taste to be higher in sodium) – by 2pm I am craving every filthy thing available in the snack bar in the office lobby and counteract it with a cup of coffee or tea, leaving me jumpy but still hungry.

My husband made Candy Corn Pancakes. Regular pancake batter, added candy corn, cooked as usual. Insanely delicious fun treat, and proof that I am still enjoying far too much of that bag of candy corn in my kitchen… and not sticking to the plan.

So I gained 1.4, but that’s nothing to freak out over, nothing to get depressed over, and surely no reason to fall completely off the Weight Watchers wagon.

This week we talked about how our lives have changed since starting Weight Watchers – habits we now have that are just a part of our lives. One woman says that when she gets back from the market, she writes the PointsPlus value on the outside of each food package – she can then know quickly how many PointsPlus it is, and it also reduces temptation, having her look for a lower PointsPlus item for a snack. Our leader said she does the same, and also writes down how much is in each serving. Another mentioned an iPhone app that will scan barcodes in the grocery and report the PointsPlus value – she uses this before putting anything in her cart. Another mentioned that she never buys bread and I realize I am the same – the only bread in the house is the type that my husband and daughter like for sandwiches; we never had loaves of sourdough or artisanal bread in the house because I will eat the whole loaf. I was impressed by one woman who says she gets off the Metro one stop early and walks the rest of the way to work. Another woman mentioned how since she started Weight Watchers she now always has breakfast. I mentioned how I now drink water all the time.

It’s amazing how even if we don’t track our PointsPlus every day, and how we may veer away from the program, we still have habits from Weight Watchers that affect our lives on a daily basis. Whether it’s how we shop for groceries, get to work, or start our day.

And whether I gain 1.4 pounds or remove 3… or stay the same for a week… my life has forever changed for the better because of this program. And while this weight removal has been a slow process, it’s not going to all come back. And I am not going to go back.

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Weight Watchers Update

You know you have been slacking on your Weight Watchers meeting when they send you the “guilt trip” postcard. I got one in the mail on Wednesday from the women who man the scales, saying they missed me. Good thing I was already planning on going the next evening!

And… I removed three pounds!

I think this is half due to me staying on plan, and half due to me being so busy and stressed lately that I often forget to eat.

Though, I must say pre-Weight Watchers, when I was stressed I would eat everything in sight. At work, I would go down to the gift shop in the building’s lobby and get a Kit Kat, a small bag of Doritos or Cheetos, maybe some gummi bears and wash it down with a Diet Dr. Pepper. Or I would treat myself to a venti java chip Frappucinno from Starbucks. After a crazy week, I would self-medicate with half (sometimes a whole) box of pasta with butter, cheese, salt and pepper and pair it with a giant glass of red wine.

Now, while I still love pasta I really can’t eat more than one bowl. The idea makes me nauseous. Saturday night my husband and I decided to celebrate getting through the drama of the week – we made ourselves Jack & gingers and ordered subs from the local deli. Before, I would have eaten a 12” with fries, now I order the 6” and eat sans sides. And feel sated. Not full, not hungry, just right.

So I have been stressed, and overwhelmed, but I have been able to stay relatively on Plan. And this week’s meeting topic really fit with why I have been able to stay on track.

We discussed what we have in our kitchens. First we went around the room, each of us mentioning one item that’s in our house that we shouldn’t have. Some said chips, others said ice cream, one guy said Froot Loops and I admitted I have half a bag of candy corn. We discussed the difference between having anything you want because essentially everything is on the Weight Watchers plan, versus trigger foods. I may have candy corn and grab a small handful every so often, but it’s not a trigger food for me as say, chips can be. Give me a bag of Lays and a tub of sour cream and both are gone within an hour even if I am not hungry. Something I learned with Weight Watchers is to keep trigger foods from my house, even if I have to get stern with my husband.

We also discussed go-to items we always have in our kitchen to stay on the plan. We each went around the room, saying what part of the kitchen we are in (pantry, fridge, freezer, etc.) and what our three food items were. For me, it was the freezer and I always have steam-in-bag broccoli florets, Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches, and frozen blueberries. The broccoli is a fave because it’s a food both Emerson and I enjoy. I can steam up a bag, give her some for her dinner, stick some in Tupperware for the next day’s lunch, and the rest I throw in a skillet with some crushed red pepper, spray olive oil (love our Misto), and garlic for a delicious post-work/pre-dinner snack. Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches are utterly delish, taste like real ice cream and curb sugar cravings. And frozen blueberries – I will add to a smoothie, defrost completely and put in my morning oatmeal or eat alone, or eat half frozen for a treat that is like little pods of sorbet.

I have realized a great key to my success is having the food I need always available so I won’t stray and eat crap. I always have oatmeal for breakfast, and my husband knows to shake the tub before heading to the grocery to see if we need to replenish our stock. The refrigerator at work is stocked with Lean Cuisine and Weight Watchers meals with my initials on them so I don’t even have to plan each morning on what to take for lunch. In my desk at work I have snacks like 100 calorie almond packs and Weight Watchers snack bars. And at home, I have plenty of fruit and vegetable snacks like canned pineapple, Gala apples, steam-in-bag frozen produce, celery and Laughing Cow cheese.

When weightloss gets too complicated, it’s easy to give up. Who has time for constantly counting points or preparing special foods? But planning in advance makes it easy. If the food I need is available and things I already know the PointsPlus value for, there’s no excuse. I can coast until 6pm without worrying about PointsPlus value thanks to my routine breakfasts, snacks, and lunches. Dinners we are starting to plan in advance by making a list throughout the week and shopping on Sundays. It is becoming a rhythm, it is less something I think about, more a lifestyle. I can see on a daily basis how Weight Watchers has really changed how I think about food.

This hasn’t been a quick weightloss, but it feels permanent. And when I think of where I was a year or so ago in mindset, and how I think now… it is a huge change and accomplishment. Slow and steady wins the race!

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