Search Results for: label/vendor review

Vendor Review – Duo

I am always on the look for a pair of boots that fit my large calves, yet still have great style. Like plus-sized clothing, this combination is hard to find. Seems that all boots for larger calves are boring styles or totally tacky and/or dated.

A reader told me about Duo, a UK-based company that prides themselves on having an extensive selection of boots for almost every size calf. I headed over to their site and was utterly amazed at the selection. Yes, like other companies they have the standard tall boot in black and brown and a few selections I wouldn’t get caught dead wearing, but so many choices that were current and stylish, I had a hard time choosing which style to try.

I ended up choosing the Bern in caramel brown (photo from site), which I felt most closely replicated the classic Frye Harness boot that I covet but can’t pull up over my ankle. With the ability to size the boot shaft in centimeters, I was able to get a more custom fit than with inches. Converted into American fundage, the boots ended up being $238 with shipping – not cheap but equivalent to high-quality brands in the states that do not cater to my leg shape (and cheaper than Frye!). If these boots were as great as I had read, the price will be nothing for years and years of happy wear.

The boots arrived in less than two weeks, but were sent registered post and required a signature from me (not the husband) to pick up. Since the post office is open only when I am at work, it took a bit longer to get my purchase. No worries, better than leaving them out in the rain on my front porch.

Do note – the return policy is only ten days from receiving and the shoes need to be in mint condition if you do plan to send back. Be sure to wear them on carpeting to try them out at first.

The packaging is excellent – heavy plastic shipping bag that can easily be reused for returns. The box was sturdy and the boots carefully wrapped and protected. And the leather… these are GORGEOUS boots. The color was called Caramel Brown, but the shade is more of a tan – almost the same color as my legs (photo taken by moi). At first I feared this color would look strange and not match anything, but I think the lighter color was actually more flattering with large calves – not drawing attention to the size of the leg but the style of the boot. Like the Frye Harness boot, these boots look cool out of the box, and will look awesome in a couple years after some wear and tear.

The shaft is fleece-lined, and the footbed is leather. The stitching is well-done and high quality. The zipper is sturdy and has an elegant zipper pull. There are elasticized gussets at the back of the shaft for flexibility – if I had recalled this feature, I could have gone a centimeter or two smaller (one should already go a centimeter or two smaller than your measurement as that leather does stretch over time). However, I wanted a casual look and the looser fit seems to work.

Friday night I wore the boots around the house for movies and pizza and unlike previous “wide-calf” boots, these didn’t dig into my legs, leaving track marks from the zippers cutting into flesh. Not only that, they were comfy on the feet – good support and decent cushioning. I gave the boots the true test the rest of the weekend – wore them to tailgate for my college homecoming football game (five hours on my feet on concrete) and then Sunday at a luncheon and then a general-admission concert (five more hours standing on concrete). After all that, my feet felt great, my calves were happy and the boots still looked beautiful. The only problem was that the insole/footbed had pulled up a bit and the adhesive stuck to itself, making it lump under my heel. I was planning on replacing the insoles with more supportive ones anyway, so I just unstuck, put back in place and was fine. This happens often with me and boots – I will not judge the quality on this one teeny snafu.

Final verdict? I am a Duo fan and plan on shopping from them again in the future. The international shopping, high ticket price and the strict return policy may seem daunting but the quality and fit make it all worthwhile!

Online Vendor Review – IGIGI

It’s fun when online purchases arrive in the mail. Come home from work and a box or bag is waiting for you on the doorstep. It’s even better when that box is a gift. When I received my purchase from IGIGI, I felt as though I had received a gift from a loving friend. Carefully folded, wrapped in tissue and sealed with a logo sticker, I felt as though this was bought at an exclusive boutique, not from an online vendor. I love it when online shops take the care with their garments that their brick-and-mortar counterparts do. It shows respect for their product as well as for their customer.

I received my wrap top from IGIGI just before a trip to the beach with my mother and sister. We range in sizes from a 10 to a 16 on top, five feet tall to five foot six. I thought it a perfect way to try the cut of IGIGI’s clothing on a variety of shapes of women.

I received the top in plum, a deep cool-toned amethyst. The fabric was similar to Chico’s Traveler’s collection, but with more weight and less ribbing. The top was a wrap style, but the underpart was attached to the top front part of the wrap. I like it when the wrap top is attached; for busty women like me when the top is not attached in front, I find the underpart slides under my breasts causing a gaping neckline. The tie part was thick and the length where it could be made into a bow, but I preferred a square knot. There is front vertical seaming that gives a lengthening and slimming effect.

I personally found the top too large for me in a 14/16. Though my bust fit well in it, the shoulders were too large, the sleeves too long and the body hit a bit too long on my hips, looking more like a casual tunic than a dressy or evening top. My sister is taller than I, a larger size and leggy; the length and size was perfect on her, and the color was great with her light auburn tresses. She said she could see it for work in the fall with a black camisole underneath and fluid black pants and for going out without a camisole, a cool necklace and dark jeans. We both liked the fabric and the shape so much we are considering purchasing the wrap dress for fall – I will even take it to a tailor to get it to fit my shoulders and height, I was so pleased with the quality of fabric and workmanship. I can see it for work, for play, for daytime weddings and taking front and center in my closet.

The garment came with a folder full of information about IGIGI and a catalog of some of their products. I loved knowing that the designer Yuliya Zeltser started the company because her mother was plus sized and had a hard time finding flattering and stylish clothing. Unlike many plus sized brands that just see women over a 10 as all over bigger, IGIGI sees that women come in different shapes and gear much of their website organization to the seven shapes of women – the diamond, the figure eight, the hourglass, the inverted triangle, the oval, the rectangle and the triangle. I love this. We women KNOW we are not all the same shape yet most designers don’t seem to take larger breasts, hips shoulders or lack of curves into consideration.

All in all, I am highly impressed with this online vendor. I feel confident in recommending this company to those who are average height or taller, and a full plus size. Please check them out, and if you use the code IGIGI at checkout, you can get 15% off. Do visit them and experience a company that is different from the mainstream, and good at what they do. Oh, they ship internationally and have the option of customer service in Spanish. How great!

Vendor Review – MetStyle Bags

MetStyle is a very cool company concept, offering professional bags for women that are feminine and stylish while still giving the owner the respect she deserves in the business room. This is a hard task for any company, to have all the features necessary for your laptop, writing supplies and lipgloss without being boring and bulky like the carry-all that came with your computer, but not frou-frou and frivolous. In this day and age we all need to carry around our gadgets; we should ahve the ability to do it with style and class.

I received the Champs Elysees Hand Bag (pictured) in the mail this week and boy am I impressed! Do not let the photograph on the website fool you into thinking this is a utilitarian piece. The dark purple quilting has a slightly iridescent satiny finish that is chic yet professional. The hardware is polished silver, the trim and handles a high-quality faux leather that has the flexibility and sheen of the real thing. I am petite with thicker arms and I found this bag comfortable in my hand or over my shoulder. My Dell D610 fits comfortably (and my husband’s larger 17” Dell just fit if no notepad or accessories were included) with my portable mouse, USB, Blackberry, digital camera, a slim notepad and a few goodies like gum, powder and lipstick. Inside compartments keep everything organized and the slim look doesn’t resemble a purse in any way. I love the dark plum shade – very subtle yet adding a bit of panache to the subdued business suit ensemble. My husband even liked it saying it “looks very Art Deco and classy.”

Prior to this bag, I was using a black microfiber laptop tote from the Michael Graves collection at Target. I found the Dell shoulder bag that my company gave me to bee too heavy, bulky and useless. Not just that, but it was hard to carry around with my petite frame. I purchased the Michael Graves tote because it was a more feminine shape, but professional enough for the toughest client. I found even that seemed to be too bulky for business meetings and travel and desired something smaller. Usually smaller pieces were just a sleeve with a strap with no room for accessories or personal effects, or else they were too girly (my clients would not appreciate a glossy pink croco bag with a tassel). I found appropriate bags online, but they were often way over $100 – not appropriate to my budget.

The bags from MetStyle are a good price for the quality, they achieve style without compromising your level of respect with your colleagues, and they are made to really accomplish all the tasks of a true business bag – hold the laptop, the legal pad, the pen, the computer accessories, the wallet and the lipstick and powder for lunchtime touch-ups. Visit the site and find a retailer near you to check out this great new brand!

Online Vendor Review – Custom Glam Girl

Internet shopping can be sketchy. You may not receive what you ordered, it may be packed so clumsily that it arrives damaged… if at all. Quality doesn’t always match the photographs and return policies may make it more worth your while to stick with your defective purchase.

Much of this is because it’s very cheap for a company to start up online. No rent to pay, no utilities, no need for stock or employees even. The entire business can take place in a person’s dining room during the commercial breaks of an episode of grey’s Anatomy.

Sometimes… one can be blown away by a small internet company. It may be the quality, the prices, the variety, the service. In the case of Custom Glam Girl, I have to say it’s because of All Of The Above. This is probably why this company has been big enough to be featured in many magazines, TV shows and be sported by many celebrities (none of this I knew when I found the site).

My husband and I are friends with a dear couple; the husband is one of three sons and they all have the last name “Jones.” Growing up the brothers were always lumped together as “The Jones Boys” and when they grew up, they all went and got tattoos in Old English script that say, “Jones Boy” on their forearms. When I found out that our friends were pregnant with a boy, I knew I needed to get them some piece of baby clothing stating this on the front.

While trolling the internet, I found Custom Glam Girl. Unlike many of the other baby sites, this one didn’t just carry cutesy blue and pink frilly pieces with hearts. They had more rocker looking ideas, and that was more appropriate for this couple and their son-to-be. Though their site was extensive (and their site easy to navigate), I didn’t see exactly what I was looking for. I called their toll-free number and was immediately connected to a really peppy and friendly agent. I told her what I was looking for, Told her the style of font, the wording and how I wanted it placed on the onesie. She was patient with me and quite helpful and friendly. I placed the order late on April 6th, the agent told me that it would be about 1-2 weeks for processing and shipping. I feared I was cutting it very close for the shower on the 23rd, but kept my fingers crossed.

I had nothing to fear, the onesie came in on the 13th. It wasn’t cheap knit, it was well made, thick, and the screen-printing was solid and not likely to peel or fade after a couple of washings (check out the picture that I took after it arrived). Not only did it arrive in a heavy plastic shipping bag, it came with a legible packing slip AND a free gift! I received for free a silvertone necklace with a heart with wings and matching earrings.

This item arrived the same day that I got a package from American Apparel. Unlike Custom Glam Girl, American Apparel is a global company with stores as well as their internet shop. The items from American Apparel came thrown into a bag, the bag covered with writing via a Sharpie, the packing slip crumpled the bag looked as though it was sealed in the dark (all crooked and stuck upon itself and smooshed). The fabric of the onesie from Custom Glam Girl was better quality than the tees I got from American Apparel.

The onesie cost $19.95, which I felt was reasonable for the quality (higher quality than the one I got from Snapfish), and shipping was a standard $5.95. This company sells most anything you could get personalized, from tees and hoodies to engraveable flasks in a rainbow assortment of colors. I have bookmarked this site for future reference and think it’s a great place to get a fun and creative gift for someone!

Offer for Readers and a New Monthly Review

Hi guys, I just got an offer from IGIGI, a company that makes some very pretty and sexy clothing for plus-sized women. I checked out the site and there are some nice pieces (great wrap dresses on there in solids and some pretty paisleys that would be totally perfect for fall).

I will be getting a few pieces in the next few weeks and will be sure to have a review of the garments on my other blog, and a review of the company’s quality and style as a whole on here.

I want to help demystify online shopping for you. I am a huge consumer via the Internet, have had great experiences and some that are not-so-great. I will be happy to share, maybe once a month a review of a different online vendor on here. As always, if you want to see what I wear in the ‘Real World,” come on over to my other blog!

Being Colorful while Being Green

I believe it is important to care for our planet, and am always on the lookout for ways to live a greener life while maintaining a quality of life and of course, style. I haven’t written a Going Green post in a while, and realized I have been enjoying some wonderful eco-friendly products lately without reviewing them for you. This is a collection of things I have been loving lately that are not only green, but also quite colorful!

Scout by Bungalow
Last year, Scout by Bungalow sent me their Junque Trunk to try out; ever since I have been a major fan. I love the durability, the amazing colors, and the versatility. I use the Junque Trunk in my closet to hold clothes that are in need of assistance prior to wearing (ironing, button replacement, etc.). Now that I have a larger car, I am going to get another Junque Trunk to keep the trunk organized. I am also checking out the Rump Roost, which would be a perfect solution for all the toys in Emerson’s bedroom and the Original Deano which begs to be taken to the farmers market on summer weekends.

Scout by Bungalow was created by fashionable Washingtonian Deb Waterman Johns. Johns is also known in the DC area for Get Dressed, a wardrobe-and-home consulting company. Scout by Bungalow came to be when Johns was in New York and saw those big plastic vendor bags (often seen around DC being used to carry clothes to the laundromat). Johns then saw a similar (though obviously higher quality and better designed) bag by Helmut Lang while on a trip to Milan. Johns and her husband saw a niche for affordable, creative, fashionable and functional bags and started “Bungalow, House of Scout.” It was successful, and the brand began carrying a variety of storage solutions, insulated bags, and luggage. Scout by Bungalow’s durability and cute factor makes the brand a stylish and eco-friendly choice.

KeepCup
A big apology to KeepCup who sent me a cup at the beginning of this year and I am just getting to review it. The reason for the delay has NOTHING to do with the cup, for it is a major favorite and I often have to fight with my husband to get to use it. Why is KeepCup so awesome?

KeepCup is the first ever barista standard reusable cup and the number one choice for sustainable and stylish coffee consumption. Already making waves in Australia and the UK, KeepCup is ready to change the way US consumers drink their coffee on-the-go. BPA-free, lightweight, recyclable, and fashionable – KeepCup is available in 25,000 color combinations so you can design the cup that tells your story and, unlike other leading reusable cups on the market, is designed by a barista to fit under the heads of most espresso machines. Available in four sizes – extra small (4oz.), small (8oz.), medium (12oz.) and large (16oz.) – KeepCup proves that convenience, eco-consciousness and style can go hand-in-hand.

I spent a whole lunch hour playing on the KeepCup site, creating the perfect cup for me (colorblocking – shocker!). I have a Small KeepCup which is perfect for that morning cup of coffee that I didn’t have time to consume before heading to the Metro; I also take off the lid and Emerson uses it as a “big girl cup” that has a nice gripper ring for her toddler hands, and is flexible and unbreakable – perfect for a big girl in training. KeepCups are non-toxic, food safe, microwave- and dishwasher-safe. Coffee and tea kept in the thermal KeepCup also stays hotter longer than in a disposable cup by at least 20 minutes.

tarte cosmetics
I know I have mentioned tarte before, but I don’t believe I have taken the time to properly rave about this beauty brand. tarte cosmetics specializes in good-for-you glamour, makeup and beauty products that are eco-friendly and cruelty-free. tarte cosmetics was created a little over a decade ago by Maureen Kelly. Kelly believed in cosmetics that could be high-performance and glamorous as well as healthy. tarte is a socially responsible company that cares about the environment, supports cooperatives in the rainforest, helps reduce environmental waste with sustainable packaging, creates eco-chic reusable components, and offers unique customer recycling initiatives.

Oh, and they make really fabulous makeup. I made the mistake this spring of not buying a replacement Park Avenue Princess Amazonian Clay Bronzer and instead going with a cheaper brand. One swipe and I was placing an order for more tarte. Not only does tarte’s bronzer look good, it does good with vitamins A, C, and E and is cruelty-free and also free of mineral oil, parabens, phthalates, and artificial fragrances. I also love their Lights, Camera, Lashes Mascara which lengthens, curls, and volumizes while being nasty-chemical free as well as cruelty free. Oh, and the package is recyclable! I also have their 24/7 Lip Sheer in my bag, and love it for a hint of color, dose of hydration, and necessary SPF when on the run.

Note: I did receive free product from KeepCup and Scout by Bungalow, however all opinions are my own as was the decision to write this post.

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My Head is Too Big to be Hipster: A Warby Parker Review

Once I got new glasses, I wanted more. A pair of red frames to channel my inner Sally Jesse Raphael, a funky blue or green pair to jazz up all-black ensembles, a funky shape to show personality at the office. I had heard a lot of great things about Warby Parker and decided to try a pair of frames from them.

Me in my new glasses – Lafont’s Issy & La collection, the frame is called “Gloss”

Warby Parker Eyewear’s mission is to offer reasonably-priced fashionable frames. On top of that, for every pair of Warby Parkers sold, a new pair is given to someone in need. Warby Parker is also proud to be a carbon-neutral company.

Warby Parker has a try-on program where you can pick five frames and try them on at home. They will ship the glasses to you for free and offer free return postage; I decided to take advantage of this program and see if I could find a new pair of signature prescription frames.

The Warby Parker site is very easy to navigate; click on your gender and then whether you desire optical or sunglass frames. From there you can choose material, color, frame shape, and width. From experience, I know my face is pretty wide, so I stuck to the medium and wide styles of frames. Since I already have a pair of tortoiseshell frames, I stuck to more unusual colors.

The glasses arrived quickly in a sturdy shipping box, and then a lovely navy linen box. Each pair of glasses was in its own compartment, wrapped in plastic and labeled with its name. Each pair of Warby Parker frames has the brand and style name inside on the temple. I found the quality to be stellar, especially for the price. These frames rival the more expensive designer styles I tried at my nearby glasses shop. The return process is simple – peel off the self-adhesive UPS label and drop it in a nearby UPS drop box. I couldn’t be more impressed with Warby Parker and their process… except that my face is too big for them.

Maybe I should have tried men’s frames, but I felt that almost every pair I tried (except for the Bensen, and they just weren’t a style I was looking for) was just a hair too small for my face. I often have this issue not just with glasses, but sunglasses as well. In fact, when I got my new glasses, they were the only ones I liked after trying on about 20 pairs – each other pair seemed just a bit too small for my face shape, even some of the men’s frames I tried.

So if you have a normal to small-sized noggin, I encourage you to try Warby Parker. The Warby Parker at-home program is completely free so you have nothing to risk; if you find a pair you like you can feel good that not only will you look great, but your purchase will also be doing good. As for me, I will have to look elsewhere, my head is just too big to be hipster.

Note: Warby Parker has no idea I am doing this review and I was not compensated in any way for it.  I just decided to try the brand and share my experience with you!

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A Wide Calf Boot Update

So as you know from many previous posts on here, I have wide calves and have dealt with many companies trying to find tall boots that fit and flatter my larger-than-average legs. Many of you have suggested having a cobbler stretch traditionally-sized boots, but to give you some perspective, the last boots I ordered that fit had a 45 cm calf… that’s around an 18″ shaft for Americans. Most regular boots are 14-15″ and a wide calf boot in stores like J. Crew and Ann Taylor is usually around a 16-17″ shaft. I know many many of you readers have the same issue – the “wide calf” boots available aren’t wide enough or the selection plentiful enough.

Well since my last review of specialty bootmaker Duo and plus size retailer Silhouettes, I have been doing some more boot shopping, searching for the Holy Grail of Wide-Calf Boots, and I wanted to share my experiences with you.

wide calf bootsSilhouettes
After the great experience with my brown suede boots from Silhouettes, I decided to try a few more styles. End of the season sales made their average selection suddenly look delicious. I ordered a classic camel tall leather boot with wood heel, and a slouchy black leather tall boot (see below left). As that I usually wear a 7.5, I ordered an 8 and WW for both pairs. Boots are often better fitting if a half-size larger than usual, and my brown suede boots from there were 8WW.

The camel ones were HUGE, I mean HUGE! I didn’t even have to unzip them to get them on. The foot was also far too large, as that these boots were not just wide in the calf but in the foot too. Very confusing as that they were the same brand as the brown suede ones I already owned. The leather was very stiff and if it was stamped with the “Real Leather” logo, I would wonder if these were a synthetic fabric. The toe was rounder than expected – not as classic of a look as I would have desired. I wished that Silhouettes offered the size of the boot shaft like Wide-Widths and Duo.

wide calf bootsAs for the black ones, well I almost kept them. The leather was buttery soft and had a rocker look to them with the cuff, the slouchiness and the glossy finish. The toe was a bit snub and round (a longer, pointier, squarer or platform toe would have enhanced the rocker look and made them look more expensive), but in general an attractive boot that looked more expensive than its pricetag.

However yet again, they didn’t fit correctly. The left leg was a teensy bit big – nothing I couldn’t deal with. however the right leg – I was SWIMMING in it. I really fought over whether to keep and see if a cobbler could alter to fit, or return. After factoring in the slouchy/gathered leather of the style, I decided it would probably be too expensive to alter and returned them as well.

I must say, the return policy for Silhouettes is pretty good- 30 days and you can try them out before you return them – no need to pussy-foot around your carpeted rooms not really getting a feel for the footwear. My card was credited the amount in less than a month, no hassles at all. Silhouettes also offers a toll-free assistance line and email address – something I will take advantage of this fall when I return to my quest to find tall boots. Possibly they would have been able to advise me on which size to choose to get a custom fit.

eBay/Silhouettes
Loved my brown slouchy suede boots from Silhouettes, I headed to eBay to see if I could find the same boots in a different color. As I have mentioned before, there are many sellers offering new and gently used wide-calf boots. I found one who had my brown boots in purple. Purple, how fun! Nice splash of color with my predominately black winter wardrobe, and one of my favorite hues. Ordered the same size and width as my brown boots…

They arrived quickly, pristine in the original box. Same quality of suede, same exact style number.

They didn’t fit. First, they were way too snug on my feet. Second, I couldn’t zip them over my ankle bone. What the heck? I put them up against my brown boots to compare. Same stamps inside, same shape, same cut but the purple boots were shorter, slimmer, all over a smaller boot. Honestly, they looked like a size 7 regular-width calf. My lesson? Ask the seller where they got the merchandise. Maybe these were irregulars that Silhouettes discarded…

wide calf bootsRoaman’s
A fellow blogger tipped me off that Roaman’s offers a decent selection of wide-calf boots, and their descriptions of sizes and circumferences pretty detailed. I decided to order the Plus-calf Leather Boot by Step Up Comfort (see below left). I desired a taller heel and more modern style, but the price was great (sale) and I found an awesome coupon online that made these boots a DEAL with free shipping. Again, I ordered 8, but this time went with M as that the description said these boots would really stretch to fit.

wide calf bootsThe shoes arrived quickly… and didn’t look at all like the picture. No where in the description, or in the zoomed image of the boots did the site explain that the black leather had a weird glaze on it to make them look old, gray and as though someone spilled milk on them and let it dry. Dull, crackle finish, and the boot was slightly taller in the front than in the back. This may be for comfort, but I felt as though it made it look more like a pirate, than a work boot.

Went to put them on… and these were too small! Yet again, couldn’t zip them up over the ankle bone. However my friend ordered the same boots and they did fit her perfectly. Hers also had the weird milky glaze, but she also got the coupon and sale price and felt they would be fine enough and the low heel perfect for tromping around the city.
Roaman’s also has a great exchange/return policy – 90 days, satisfaction guaranteed. They had a UPS pre-paid label enclosed so I was able to easily drop off the box at my nearby UPS Store. They too credited my card very quickly and there were no hassles.

wide calf bootsDuo
I had had great success with Duo before, but was trying to find a cheaper alternative. After all my return and shipping costs from these previous vendors, I realize I should have stuck with a company I knew and trusted. On top of that, Duo was also having a sale on a large portion of their selection, and many sale boots were exactly what I was looking for!

I chose the “Toledo” in black (below left), which had a mid-height heel and a classic look. I went back to my previous order’s email confirmation and typed in my shoe and calf widths and processed my order. The boots arrived two weeks later from across the pond, and they didn’t fit. Like TOTALLY didn’t fit, couldn’t even get my foot in the boot! I look at the order form and realize that stupid me mixed up the sizes – I ordered my foot size (39) for the calf and calf size for the foot! Lesson learned? Double and triple check your order if you are purchasing from an overseas company or one who doesn’t provide size numbers you are familiar with!

wide calf bootsI contacted Duo and told them my issue. Less than 24 hours, I received an email from them and we began an email dialog on which boot would be the best choice for my shape. The customer service representative informed me that the “Toledo” would probably be a bad choice for my shape as that I have large ankles and shins as well as calves, and that style is for “more delicate of legs” (the site did mention this style was best for petite legs and I though that meant short legs and though it was a perfect choice). She asked me which other styles in my size I liked and I sent her the names. From them, she described the boots in more detail, and how they would fit and look on my body. She reminded me that Duo is always available by email or phone to offer advice on the proper boot for any person’s body. Lesson learned? Ask before ordering!

With all this information, I have decided to suspend my quest for the Holy Grail of Wide Calf Boots until late Summer/early Fall when all shops will be full of their new selections. Right now sizes and styles are slim, and I don’t want to be forced into purchasing that which is okay, and not awesome. However now I know to ask questions, ask questions, ask questions and double-check my order before hitting “Submit!” And of course, when I resume this journey I will be sure to keep you all updated!

Other posts on Wardrobe Oxygen about Wide-Calf Boots:
– It’s All About the Boots – Silhouettes and eBay
– Vendor Review – Duo Boots
– From Allie’s Mailbag – Where to Find Extended Calf Boots
– Tall Boots for Wide Calves

Reader Question: Summer Boots

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

Thanks, Amy

Hey there Amy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contest: Tolani Scarf from chickdowntown.com

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 chickdowntown.com, 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 mywardrobetoday@gmail.com 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 chickdowntown.com. Sorry international readers, but the contest is only open to those in the United States.

Get to know chickdowntown.com:
Facebook (friend “shop chickdowntown” and/or become a fan of the chickdowntown page)
Twitter (twitter.com/chickdowntown)
YouTube (chickdowntownTV.com or youtube.com/chickdowntowntv)

Good luck!

My VERY LONG Review of Bonnaroo… and a Little News!

Bonnaroo – this would be our second year going. For those who don’t know what Bonnaroo is, it is a four-day music festival on a 700+ acre field in Manchester, Tennessee. As for the type of music, well that is extremely varied. Rock, electronica, bluegrass, blues, soul, hip hop, rap, indie, heavy metal, jam bands, and even famous comedians. Over 100 artists are at Bonnaroo but a few names you may know that were in attendance this year were Pearl Jam, Metallica, Kanye West, O.A.R., Death Cab for Cutie, Vampire Weekend, Cat Power, Lupe Fiasco, Jack Johnson, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, and Chris Rock.

Bonnaroo is 11 hours from my home in the Nations Capital – each year we drive down to Bristol, TN and stay overnight and then head out the next morning for the festival grounds. This gives us a last chance for a hot shower and a cool room to rest for when we do the Roo, we do it in General Camping. This means tents, no electricity, porta potties and the only water available is freezing well water from water stations (a fancy term for troughs with spigots in a trailer). Last year four of us went and with much research and help from message boards like Inforoo, we were prepared with a decent camp setup and all the necessities to survive the heat and long days of music and activity. This year our party grew to be seven folks with an even more awesome camp setup and plan of action to get the most out of the fest.

I was ready for the heat, the possible dust or rain, the long days, the lack of sleep, the need to stay hydrated, to stay up until sunrise to catch the best shows, the ability to be comfy without a hot shower or a shave for almost a week. I just wasn’t prepared to go at it pregnant.

Yes pregnant. I am three months With Child. Knocked Up. Preggo. There’s a bun in my oven.

This was not an accident – my husband and I decided to start trying this past Christmas. However with his medical history (think Lance Armstrong) and my almost two decades on birth control, I didn’t think it would be so… swift. We were trying but not trying. Not charting, temping and “baby we better have sex NOW!” sort of stuff, but just not using protection and being a happy married couple. We thought it would be a couple more months… heck even a couple more years before we got pregnant. I joked with a few about how I could be pregnant at Bonnaroo but didn’t really think it would actually happen.

I was 11 weeks along – long enough to have the morning sickness subside, my need to pee not be every 15 minutes and me start to have a twinge of energy again. For that I am eternally thankful. If Bonnaroo were two weeks earlier, I may have spent the entire time crying or sleeping in the fetal position in my tent.

So with this information… here’s my review of Bonnaroo 2008!

As I mentioned, seven of us went together. It was me and my husband, his best friend and my sister (the four from the 2007 group) and then two close girl friends and one of these girls’ boyfriend. They were all Roo Newbies, but music fans who had been well prepped by us regarding what they would experience when once on the farm. We considered shoving into two cars to save on gas, but decided to take three so we would end up with a larger campsite (you park directly behind your car) and not want to strangle one another before we hit Virginia.


Traffic in DC was a beast on Wednesday morning; it took over an hour and a half to get from my house in the DC suburbs to my sister’s apartment in DC to Route 66. We ended up not getting on the highway until around 10:30 am. Two cars headed to my sister’s place, the other started their commute from near Baltimore at 10:30 and still caught up with us in time for lunch. We stopped at a little pizza joint in BFE, Virginia where I had an awesome mushroom calzone, refueled the cars and got back on the road. We arrived at the Bristol La Quinta around 5pm.

Our friend’s dad lives only about 20 minutes from Bristol so we met him and his wife for dinner at Chili’s. Did you know there is literally only ONE vegetarian entrée on the entire freaking Chili’s menu? WTF! I was so not in the mood for a black bean burger that evening so I got super Meg Ryan from When Harry Met Sally on our waiter and made a custom meal. I didn’t feel too bad when he then admitted he used to go to Bonnaroo too, but stopped “when all the crappy commercial MTV bands started taking over.” I hate jam band snobs – there were still TONS of original Roo artists there (Umphrey’s McGee, Widespread Panic, Disco Biscuits, Yonder Mountain String Band, Phil Lesh, etc.) so those snobs drive me batty.

After dinner, we hit the Wal-Mart for some necessities. Got some awesome battery-operated fans for $5 that were lifesavers at Bonnaroo, some Clorox wipes to prep the porta potty seats, eye drops for my allergy-prone and contacts-wearing eyes, and my husband got a water gun and a Frisbee. After, my friend and his girlfriend went to his parent’s house for the night and five of us went back to La Quinta. Four drank beer, one drank water and we all played Roo-themed Pictionary and wrote goofy raps (sounds lame but we were giggling for hours).

We headed out a bit later than expected the next day, but with some advice from our friend’s parents (construction in Knoxville, use Route 55 to get into the festival) we made great time and ended up in a very short line (less than an hour from highway to campsite) and funnily enough only about 100 yards from our camp location the previous year (Pod 6/Camp Dr. Rumack for those who went). Not a bad spot – like a 10 minute walk to Centeroo where all the events took place and less than a block from porta-potties and right near a main road so it was easy to find camp in the middle of the night.

Camp setup was pretty painless with seven people. Unfortunately it was near 5pm which is when I seem to get my Morning Sickness. I was really dragging, but trying to be helpful. Drank lots of very cold water, had some protein and plugged through. Soon we had our phat pad set up – two EZ up shelters, four tents (one for me and my husband, one for my friend and her man, one for our guy friend and one for the two gals), tarps over all to block from heat and pounding rain, a mini kitchen made from a grill and folding table, a bunch of tailgate chairs, Christmas lights around the shade shelters and even a shower/toilet tent!

We all cooled off with some beers (me with some Vitamin Water) and headed to Centeroo. One friend had a couple he knew who were also there and they suggested we start the evening with seeing Grand Ole Party. Never heard of this band before, but knew I would like them once I found out the lead singer was a woman AND the drummer! They totally rocked and put on a good show. After we took a quick walk through Centeroo to get our bearings and headed to see a few more shows (Grupo Fantasmo, Back Door Slam, The Sword). I would have LOVED to stay up to see Vampire Weekend and Dark Star Orchestra but the kumquat (that’s what size the books say the baby was at the time of Bonnaroo) wasn’t having it so back to camp I went. I was knocked out by midnight.

Day Two – Friday. Started the day with a makeshift shower at the Water Station. This entailed me tossing on a pair of cargo shorts holding a hair towel, bar of soap, shampoo and a razor. Got in line with all the other campers with my own spigot of well water and washed my hair, shaved my pits and washed what was accessible. This year I had no fear and stripped off my shirt to just a solid hot pink cotton Victoria’s Secret bra so I could really feel clean. For the rest of the body, I went back to the tent and made do with Tea Tree cleansing wipes from The Body Shop and some Target brand personal cleansing wipes. I must admit I did add some girliness to the day – brought my Matrix Curl.life Contouring Milk to add to my air-dried hair and Cover Girl LashBlast waterproof mascara (BTW like it just as much as the non-waterproof version). Packed the Camelbak with Life Water, regular water, granola bars and fruit for snacks after slathering on tons of SPF 30 and donning a sloppy straw hat.

We started the day by attending a brunch for members of the message board Inforoo. May sound dorky, but it was totally awesome to meet so many people I had corresponded with for the past two years. We didn’t stay long because only half our group were members of the board and felt a bit left out. We also wanted to catch some music! We began the day’s music with Steel Train which I liked okay but found it more to be background music to my conversations with friends and People Watching. We then caught the end of Drive By Truckers’ set, which was pretty fantastic. We then headed to the Which Stage (second largest stage) to see Umphrey’s McGee. My husband saw them at Caribbean Holidaze this past December and we have a good friend that is a pretty rabid fan of theirs, but I had yet to experience them live. While half our group went near the stage to see the band, I stayed with a few friends near the back of the crowd under a tree to get shade and to relax. Still loved them and had an awesome experience. We stayed put for Les Claypool, who was on next. Another great performance.

After Les, I had great expectations. I wanted to see Swell Season, Rilo Kiley, M.I.A., Willie Nelson and Chris Rock. However Kumquat was exhausted so I headed back to camp for a late afternoon nap. I ended up sleeping until 9pm. Most of our group had left to go see Metallica; my friend Shelly and I chilled out, changed clothes, repacked and headed later into Centeroo to get good seats for My Morning Jacket.

My Morning Jacket is the reason we even went to Bonnaroo in the first place. My husband wanted to get his best friend a DVD for his birthday that showcased an amazing guitarist he didn’t know too much about (his friend is a guitar player). After doing some Googling he decided to get My Morning Jacket’s Okonokos DVD. We watched it together and I was addicted. I started researching MMJ and found they were regular performers at Bonnaroo. Though they weren’t performing in 2007, it still sounded like a cool festival so we decided to go. So this year they were performing and it would be my first time seeing them live and I was very excited.

We got a good spot (to the left of the beer stand for anyone who attended) and chilled out listening to Metallica’s set (not sad that I missed it) over the trees and enjoying the cool temperatures. Then it started to rain. Just a bit of drizzle, not too terrible. After Metallica, my sister, husband and my friend’s boyfriend caught up with us and it really began to rain. No worries, we were all prepared with ponchos and trash bags!

MMJ didn’t disappoint. It was so good, the vibe of the crowd and being with my favorite people and yes, even the rain made such a magical moment that I teared up. Definitely the highlight of the weekend. However the rain started getting to be very strong and my friends wanted to head out to see the Superjam (rumors were flying that Ton Waits was going to show up) so I regretfully left MMJ and headed with them to a different stage. We stopped at a tent selling hot tea and coffee to warm ourselves up. The barista told me my herbal tea was very hot, but I didn’t realize HOW hot it was. It was so hot, the cup collapsed on itself and spilled all over my left hand. I burned myself so bad the skin today is all leathery and wrinkled on my ring and middle fingers and I can’t get my wedding set back on. That, plus the rain, leaving MMJ, being tired and pregnant… I started to cry. No romantic tearing up, big heaving sobs. Friends got me ice for my hand and we all agreed it was a gross wet and very late night (around 2am) so we headed back to camp.

I was till a bit sad about how the night ended, but as I snuggled in next to the love of my life I heard MMJ perform “One Big Holiday” as clear as day and I smiled and knew things happen for a reason.

The next day, it was still raining. We trudged through off and on showers to get ready that morning. I can’t recall whether I took a shower or not – think that day due to the rain and mud I just washed with wipes in my tent. I decided to wear my Duo boots since I waterproofed them prior to Bonnaroo. I had brought Crocs as my main footwear because they are perfect for such a festival, but didn’t want nasty Roo mud seeping in through the air holes. As with the previous day, clothing of choice was a lightweight cotton sundress (Saturday was Old Navy, Friday was Target).

We started the day with an acoustic set by The Two Gallants at the Sonic Stage. Not bad, but I was distracted and spent a lot of time taking pictures of the crowd. We walked by and caught a few songs by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and then headed to the What Stage (largest stage) to see Ozomatli. I knew NOTHING about this band, but heard great things from friends on message boards. I again was not disappointed – had an amazing time and danced my booty off. It was a true Bonnaroo moment – fun music, good weather (rain had disappeared), good friends, thousands of friendly people dancing with me. We stayed for their entire set and then headed to the Which Stage for Gogol Bordello – another band I heard was amazing live. Maybe I was worn out from Kumquat or Ozomatli, but I wasn’t enthralled with Gogol Bordello. I pretty much chilled out (brought a Crazy Creek stadium seat which was phenomenal for field seating at these shows and easy to bungee to my Camelbak) with a frozen lemonade and People Watched. I then headed back to the big stage to see the legendary B.B. King. I stayed long enough to hear “The Thrill is Gone” and then found my friends at the That Tent where Zappa Plays Zappa was ready to perform.

Was never a fan of Frank Zappa, though I respected his talent. However I heard it was a must-see show and had a mini crush on Dweezil when I was a kid (I can still recall an interview with him on Nickelodeon where he said he hated making left turns while driving). They started and they sounded great, but I knew it was just the wrong scene for me. It was hot and dusty under the tent, a few guys near me smelled of BO and weed, a chick in front of me was smoking a cigarette, Kumquat was getting restless and Morning Sickness was starting (surprise, surprise it was a little after 5pm). I left my friends, wandered a bit and then decided to head back to camp to have a semi-healthy meal (as good as you can do with a 5-day cooler) and a quick power nap.

That power nap ended up being a doozy for I didn’t wake up until almost 10pm, completely missing the Jack Johnson set. Oh, no worries, I figured Jack would be kind of chill and I really was needing high-energy music to keep my own energy going through these long days. I changed into some long linen pants, a tank and a hooded long-sleeved tee and found my friends who were at the What Stage waiting for Pearl Jam.

Yes, Pearl Jam! One of my favorite bands and by far the most favorite band of my husband. Eddie and team have never disappointed us, and I was super excited to see them here were they would be more likely to play rarities and really jam out. Again, my expectations were exceeded. The show went over schedule, they played really rare songs, they jammed out, got personal with the crowd and sounded phenomenal. My Morning jacket made me tear up? Well my husband’s were shining during this set. Totally fabulous.

We then packed up and headed across Centeroo to see Lupe Fiasco at The Other Tent. We got a spot to the right of the tent. Standing, my husband and friend could see the stage pretty well. I was tired so I pulled out the Crazy Creek and had a seat. Lupe was pretty amazing and had the entire crowd wrapped around his finger. I was trying to get in a nap but couldn’t because the beat was infectious and the crowd so pumped.

We then headed BACK to the What Stage to see Kanye West. This was another must-see for me because I wanted to see what Kanye would pull out. There was much controversy about him even being at Bonnaroo – was he the right “feel” for the festival? Why did he get switched from a day spot on a smaller stage to a late night spot on the biggest stage? Would he be a primadonna? Would he live up to the hype? Rumor had it that he would performing the act from his Glow in the Dark tour which would have been pretty awesome to see.

We got a spot almost where we were for Pearl Jam – to the left side of the stage and a third from it. Good view, and good access to beer and porta-potties. I think we were settled by 2:30am and Kanye was supposed to start at 2:45am. I was pretty pumped, as were some of my friends. Others were starting to get sleepy. They were playing popular hip-hop tunes over the speakers until the show started and I was singing Rob Base and Beastie Boys with my girl friends. I was really shocked that no one in the audience knew all the words to Paul Revere. Is it because were are old? Because we grew up near DC? I feel that Beastie Boys’ Paul Revere is a rap classic, one that all ages would know all the words to. Anyway, us old ladies sand all the words and shook our booties!

3:00 and no Kanye. We get a message on the big screen that the show is delayed until 3:15. At 3:15 another notice of delay until 3:30. At 3:30 we get the message “Kanye West up Next!” There were a BUNCH of angry hippies by this point. People were booing, throwing things at the stage and many were chanting, “Fuck Kanye! Fuck Kanye!” I had pulled out my Crazy Creek again and got some shut-eye. I wasn’t going to miss this show, no matter how late it started. People started leaving and at 4am three of my friends gave up and headed back to camp. We persevered. The show FINALLY started at 4:29am. About 20 minutes into it, my husband and sister left because they were falling asleep standing up but somehow my one girl friend and I had a renewed sense of energy and stayed and even pushed forward so we were pretty near the front of the stage.

If you Google this show, you will get many mixed reviews, most negative. Most people were angry from the get-go for the show being almost two hours late. His show was also 30 minutes shorter than scheduled. It was NOT the Glow in the Dark tour performance, but one I had also heard about where he acts out having his space ship crash on an unknown planet.

Personally, I loved the performance, the cheesy parts and all. I knew many of his songs casually but found myself singing along to all of them. I wondered if the delay was purposeful when he began singing “Good Morning” right when the sun was rising, but honestly I didn’t care. I was pregnant, sober and up with the sun dancing my heart out to Kanye West with a good friend and a thousand new friends around me. I was damn proud of myself for sticking through. Kanye sung his heart out and I found him to be a powerful and talented rapper and singer (though his acting skills are SEVERELY lacking). The screens really added to the performance and I loved the lights, the video, the dancing, the whole effect. My friend and I were super pumped and glad to have had the experience.

The show ended around 5:30am and we trudged through Centeroo to head back to our camp. We were so physically and mentally exhausted we could hardly speak. However we were both so psyched by what we just shared.

Surprisingly, my body woke me up around 7:30am. Well maybe not so considering I rarely sleep past that point even on a weekend. Got up and got a burrito of egg and cheese from a nearby vendor. Sunday’s music started a bit later, so it gave me time to have a makeshift shower, even take another nap before heading back for our final day of music. It may sound disgusting, but I put on my same boots (new socks) and the same dress as the day before. I know, ME of all people! However I was going to be gross no matter what I did and the dress was so perfect – it was airy, not lined, super comfortable and my dress I had for Sunday had a lining that I KNEW would stick to my legs. Not only that, my breasts had grown a lot since I bought it and it just didn’t fit the way it was supposed to on top.

We started back to Centeroo around 2:30pm to catch Robert Randolph. He was phenomenal, and others thought so too. He was at the That Tent which is not a huge stage and the crowd spilled out from the tent to the side grounds, over an access road and into a common area. The sun was blazing and there was no heat and after about four songs I had to cry Uncle and move on. I think they put him on a smaller stage because he was with The Revival and not The Family Band, but honestly, he could have filled the What Stage just as well as Ozomatli the day prior.

I headed to the What Stage to catch Yonder Mountain String Band. The sun was insane, I was reapplying sunscreen every 30 minutes and kept wet bandannas on my neck and head. Guys were dancing around with misters and spray bottles which felt like droplets of heaven. I finished a two liter of water and had to go get more. My husband and I sat with our backs to the stage for a while so that the sun wasn’t beating on our faces. The rest of our friends met up with us just in time for the band to start.

Another Bonnaroo hit with Yonder Mountain String Band. Not my typical choice in music (bluegrass) but they were incredible talented, personable and the audience was energized. We were along the gravel access road on the left side of the stage and the road was full of dancing people – hippies, wookies, preps, rockers, ladies with hula hoops, tons of bouncing dreadlocks. It was an awesome sight and you couldn’t help but dance as well. My friend commented, “now I see why Black people say that White people can’t dance” and it cracked me up. It was true, the majority of the people had NO rhythm and seemed more to be doing a jig than traditional dancing, but they were so happy and full of life, it was beautiful! (picture depicts the feelings the next day by many festival attendees)

 We left and headed to get some sustenance and caught a few songs by Solomon Burke. Pretty talented man. We then went to catch O.A.R. It was 5pm and yet again, Kumquat was getting restless so I was feeling anxious, hot, sick and miserable. They were cleaning nearby porta-potties at this time and the smell almost knocked me over. There was no sun anywhere so we just tried to find a spot where we could hear the band and not smell sewage. My sister tells me she got a weird call from my mom on her cell. My mom was dog sitting and when she stopped by my house that morning, there was an alarm going off in my home. It wasn’t the smoke detector or a house alarm and she didn’t know what to do. By time we got the message and called her back, she had called my father-in-law who was also on vacation but called a neighbor of ours who is a handyman. He came over and helped my mom. Come to find out our water heater overheated and a bit overflowed onto the floor, where we have a moisture detection alarm. They cleaned up the bit of water, turned off the alarm and turned off the water heater’s circuit breaker and all was fine by time I called but to have that on top of Morning Sickness and heat and exhaustion… well I wasn’t as patient and nice to my mom as I should have been. I had to walk from my group of friends to hear her and when I returned I couldn’t find my camera. I totally went ballistic screaming that some wookie stole my brand new camera and then my friend found it under his backpack. I knew at that point I needed a major break from it all. The heat, the noise, the ridiculous crowds (65K in attendance), the music, the everything. It wasn’t bad being pregnant at Bonnaroo, but I did have a much shorter fuse than I usually would.

We headed for some food and some shade and I chilled out by myself regrouping. When I finally cooled down, my husband and I decided to go see Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, but find a spot in the shade away from the crowds. Eventually my friend and sister joined us. I lay down and relaxed and sort of vegged out. Honestly, I don’t remember much of that performance except that Alison Krauss’ voice can soar like an angel, and I heard Plant wail a la Led Zeppelin and it sent chills down my spine and made me glad I toughed it out.

After a bit, my sister and friend went to check on other shows. My husband and I decided to roam Centeroo alone, checking out various smaller tents and vendors. It was nice for when you go with a group of seven to a festival attended by 65,000 there’s little couple time available. We held hands and walked slow and it was a nice finale to the day.

At 8:00pm the whole crowd reconvened at the karaoke tent to see our karaoke-obsessed friend perform. This was not any old karaoke tent – this tent offered you to perform with a LIVE BAND. When we showed up it was a hard rock band all decked out in lycra and crimped hair and bandannas. It was fabulous, and T totally rocked the house with her awesome rendition of Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer. The karaoke tent shut down soon after her performance; a few went to see other shows, my husband and some went back to camp, my sister and I decided to get a trip on the Ferris Wheel. It had just gotten dark and we were able to see all of the camping and festival grounds lit up. It was a nice way to end the fest.

After the ride, my sister headed to see Widespread Panic. I was planning on seeing them but really felt it would be pushing myself too far. I instead kissed her goodbye and walked back to camp alone. I got myself a last Bonnaroo treat – an ice cream cone for the journey and took a long leisurely route so I could People Watch, Camp Watch, and see all the cars already leaving Bonnaroo.

I got back to camp and two friends were up drinking beer. I attempted to stay up and chat with them but soon started falling asleep in my tailgate chair. Said goodnight and was in bed by 10pm. I was so tired; I slept through all the fireworks and craziness of the last night of Bonnaroo. My husband did as well – we remarked that we had a surprisingly restful night of sleep!

The next morning my husband and I were up by 6am and we immediately started packing. I believe we were on the road by 8:30am. We stopped around 10am for breakfast at Cracker Barrel, made two pit stops and were home by 10pm.

All in all it was a wonderful and actually quite a restful experience. Four days without Internet, TV, newspapers, bills, work, and life drama was exactly what the doctor (and the kumquat) ordered. Finding nutritious vegetarian food was really not a problem – I brought plenty of snacks and there were many food vendors that offered healthy veggie-filled vegetarian and vegan meals. I really enjoyed being sober for the whole time because I didn’t miss a thing and never woke with a hangover or regrets. It was fun to have this crazy experience this summer, knowing next summer I will be caring for the new member of my family!

Basic Black and White

Blouse: Jones New York c/o Gwynnie Bee | Jeans: NYDJ | Shoes: Cole Haan | Necklace: Cameron Pendant c/o Kristin Biggs, Stella and Dot | Watch: c/o WatchCo | Bracelets: c/o Lifetherapy, Nordstrom, had forever | Glasses: c/o Coastal.com

This top is perfect for this weather – billowy and breezy for the commute, but enough coverage that I don’t freeze to death in the office. This is totally the kind of top I buy, wear once or twice, and tire of the print because it’s too memorable. Love that with Gwynnie Bee I can wear it once or twice, and then return it for something new without buyer’s remorse. Interested in trying Gwynnie Bee?  Use this link, tell them Wardrobe Oxygen sent you and get a 30 day free trial of the program.

I just got these glasses Friday evening but have already fallen in love. When I got new glasses back in December, I wanted something classic, stylish without being trendy, something appropriate for work as well as every day. My Issy and La “Gloss” frames are perfect for that, but now I want more frames, and fun frames. I love the bold look of these, and it’s exciting to find frames that are big enough for my ginormous noggin. I did get these frames for free (review here), but I would totally order from Coastal.com again. Great prices, good service, and shipping is lightening fast. In fact, if you go to this link (not an affiliate link, not getting paid to share, just me being jazzed about sharing this with you) and pick any of these frames and add your prescription and use the code FIRSTPAIRFREE you get… well your first pair free! You do have to pay for shipping (which is around $9.00), but what an awesome steal of a deal. It’s always good to always have a spare pair or a fun pair that gets you out of your comfort zone.

Speaking of great deals, I have been wearing my Lifetherapy bracelets quite a lot and get so many compliments on them.  They have offered Wardrobe Oxygen readers 20% off on ALL Lifetherapy products (body care as well as jewelery).  Use code WARDROBEOXYGEN at checkout; this code is valid until 7/1/2013.

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Plus Sized Work Attire Options

Dear Allie:
I am getting back into the workforce after five years as a SAHM. I’m really excited, but am having a hard time finding nice work clothes. I am a size 18, 5’5” and an apple and all I seem to find are lowcut dresses and polyester pants. Do you know where I can find suits and work clothes like dresses and blouses for my size?
 
Why are all plus sized suits made out of polyester? Where can I find a suit that is equal in quality and price to J. Crew but goes above a size 16?
 
I was recently promoted and my new position requires me to travel on business several times a month. For such trips, I will need to wear a suit while at the office I can usually get away with casual pants or even nice jeans. While I have a great wardrobe of business casual pieces, it is proving difficult to find more corporate of attire for my size (I vary between a 20 and 22). Do you know of any retailers who specialize in suiting and corporate attire for plus-sized women?
 
Hi Allie, I need to improve my look at work. We’re allowed to wear anything we want but I don’t want to look like a slob any more and think if I look good I may be more likely to get a raise or promotion. I’m 5’7”, a size 20 with a large bust and don’t even know where to start looking for nicer work clothes. HELP!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Thursday Rant

I guess I am setting myself up for blogging failure. Yes, I have great readership, but my blogs are not considered “successful” in many people’s eyes because I hardly make a cent off of them. I don’t get weekly freebies from retailers, I don’t bring in the big bucks from my minimal ads, I blog for… you, and not for me.

Well I guess in all honesty it is for me. I do love to write, I love to shop, and I love to tell people my opinion. I love to make fellow women feel good about themselves, and I love it when I get a comment or email that tells me I made a difference in a person’s life.

But unlike many blogs that have been around less time than I, I am not profitable. I know fellow bloggers who have been able to go to part-time or quit their job all together from the success of their blogs. Ads alone bring in a huge portion of their income, and affiliates help even more. Retailers contact them, offering free goods and money in return for praise on their blog. They promote products they have never used, $1,200 purses they can never afford, fashions that fit a very small minority of the population. They have fancy banners and avatars and glossy ads for Sephora and Nieman Marcus and Strawberry Net all over their page, receiving profits per click. They offer links for that designer bag, receiving a percentage from each bag sold to that online boutique.

Now I would love nothing more than to be able to quit my job and write. I would love to write a book based on this blog, and have always dreamed of being a personal shopper and wardrobe consultant. However I am an adult with a mortgage, a car payment, student loans and yes… a conscience. I cannot and will not ever promote something I do not believe in.

Retailers, feel free to send me samples of your stuff, and if I like it, I will be more than happy to review it on here. I will offer links to your website, may show myself wearing your product. But if your product is sub par or inappropriate for my audience, I will not write about it. Or, I may warn you readers to stay away from these vendors. I have no fear.

I also can’t advertise that which I think is just wrong, like a $1,200 purse. A lipgloss that costs $40 and is nothing better than Revlon’s Super Lustrous line. Clothing that does not go over a size 10.

If I can’t afford or fit it, I’m betting the majority of you can’t either.

Reports have shown that there is an influx in purchasing of designer goods and experts believe it is linked to the influx of bloggers writing about said products. I know when I was in middle school I just HAD to have a Liz Claiborne purse and a Forenza roll-neck sweater because everyone else had it. Gosh, Betsy and Heather had both and look at how pretty and popular and blonde they were? Maybe if my stubby, brunette self had both I would be just as popular and glamorous.

I saved up for both because my parents couldn’t afford those sorts of things. I sported my white Forenza roll-neck sweater with my navy Liz Claiborne purse with the navy trim, and that day at lunch, my friend tripped and spilled chocolate milk all over me, permanently staining that beloved sweater. Soon, I realized people liked me whether or not I wore designer duds. Instead of worrying about the label, I worried about the fit and how it expressed my personality. To the 8th grade school dance when the rest of the girls wore ruffled dresses, I wore a black mock turtleneck, black harem pants, black suede booties and my brightly-printed bedroom curtain pinned around my waist like a cummerbund. That was the first time a “cool boy” asked me to dance. And that was when I realized money does not equal style, labels do not equal fashion, and I will never be a slave to them. And I hope none of you ever will either.

Decades later I am the author of this blog. I am still stubby, I am still a brunette, and I am still lacking designer duds in my closet. Yes, it feels amazing to own a designer garment or a coveted beauty item – I’m not going to say I don’t enjoy my DiorShow mascara, my Joe’s jeans, or would love nothing more than to strut around town in a pair of Jimmy Choos. But you know what? I am happy in my skin, happy in my heart and still getting looks from the “cool boys.” I may not be a financially successful blogger, but when I get an email from you guys that says you’re happier as a woman because of some of my advice… I feel like the richest blogger in the world!

Saturday

In the morning, I ran to get my hair cut and colored in the nearby town, and then run a few errands. Olive ribbed tank from J. Crew, white ribbed tank from Old Navy, Joe’s Jeans in “Provacateur,” brown stacked flops from J. Crew, silver hoops from The Icing, silver cuff.

Hair was brushed out but on the second day; blew the bangs straight.

Makeup was Body Shop bronzing powder in Light as face color, Max Factor Lash Perfection mascara on curled lashes, Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Pink Afterglow.

Kathleen did her magic – all I told her is that I wanted to go darker and that I wanted heavier bangs. I trust her, and was not disappointed. Choppy layers that can work straight, wavy or curly, fun sideswept bangs, and a very rich multi-tonal color of dark brown that looks closer to what I was born with.

Got home and had to dash to get dressed. Friday night I had a friend over so I didn’t have time to play dress-up and figure out my theater outfit. Thank you soooo much to everyone who wrote in suggestions, you guys are awesome and have good ideas! For the one who suggested my Old Navy dress… I completely forgot about it. I had set to wear my black cashmere tank from Banana Republic and my orange-red shantung full skirt also from Banana (seen here), but when I saw how spiffy and sleek my husband looked (flat front gray tropical wool trousers from J. Crew, white tailored shirt from some brand sold at Mens Wearhouse, black blazer from… J. crew? Not sure…, black slip-on sleek shoes from Ecco) I decided my outfit may look a bit like a costume. I tried a few different skirts, but settled on the black matte jersey dress from Old Navy, my red stone necklace, my leopard peep-toe heels from BCBgirls,silver hoops from The Icing, and silver cuff natch. :-)

Didn’t have to do my hair since it was done by Kathleen my talented stylist. She used the Pureology line on me, and swears by it for protecting color. I bought the shampoo and conditioner and once I can wash my hair (was told to go as long as humanely possible without washing) I will be using it and let you k now how it is.

Same makeup as earlier, just a re-touch of the bronzing powder, a bit of Smashbox Soft Lights in Tint on my cheekbones, a medium line of Maybelline Ultra Liner in black on the top lash line, a quick swipe of Maybelline Great Lash waterproof mascara in black over existing mascara, Body Shop Lip and Cheek Tint with Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Pink Afterglow over it.

We took the Metro and it was not even a block to the little restaurant (I don’t know if there are even 20 tables in the place). The menu seemed different from the one online and the only entrees that were vegetarian were spaghetti with tomato sauce (yawn) and a risotto with corn and truffle shavings. My husband and I chose the risotto, we shared a bottle of Pinot Grigio (not sure the label, our friend chose the wine) and had a nice, yet not inspiring or overwhelmingly unique meal. We then walked not even three blacks to the Kennedy Center where my friend and I sidestepped grates in our heels (she too wore a black sheath and heels) while the men tromped over everything and got there in time to marvel at the acre-sized curtains in the lobby and get a cocktail in the Terrace Bar prior to the performance.

The performance was great! As I said, I had never seen The Phantom of the Opera other than the movie. Back story – 1992, for Christmas I got my first boom box with a CD player in it, and with it two CDs – Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera. For several months until I got my high school arsenal of REM, Depeche Mode, Pearl Jam and Nirvana, I listened solely to these two soundtracks. Come 2007, I am silently singing along to this performance and even a tear came down my cheek at finally seeing live what I had in my head 15 years ago. I think also seeing Shakespeare in Love the night prior made the theater experience that more intense.

Our friends live in Virginia and parked at the theater; it was a gorgeous night and declined their offer to drive us to the Metro and decided to hoof it. All in all a lovely evening!

Tuesday’s Tip – Making the Clearance Rack Your Friend

When I go into a store, the first place I look is the clearance or sale rack. I don’t want to be tempted by full priced items when a good equivalent is available at half the price in the back of the store. Even when planning my wedding I first scored sample sales and discount bridal shops before even looking at a single full-priced gown. It is better to buy quality instead of quantity, but just because it’s on a sale rack does not mean it’s poor quality or lacking style or fashion.


Take Your Time
Clearance racks are a mess. Why waste good salespeople hours in cleaning up the back of the store when the real money making is in the front displays of new product? Because of this, do not limit your search to the section designated with your size. Take the time to flip through all the racks. You may find a size 10 amongst the size 2s or a great size Small blouse hidden amongst size 14 blazers. Grab everything that even remotely appeals to you, and a few things you would not usually consider. The best way to spend money on trendy pieces and unusual finds is to pay for them at a discount – less buyer’s remorse.


Sizes Can Be Deceiving
Sometimes items are on sale racks because they are missized. I have tried on size 6 jackets that are too big for me and size 14s that are skin tight. Don’t just look at the label – pull the item from the rack and see if it may possibly fit. Often the missized items are at a super reduced price because they are being looked over.


Consider a Tailor
I decided to write this post because of my clearance rack prize of yesterday. Sueded cotton trench, hip cut, gorgeous color, originally $179 on sale for $29.99. No obvious flaws but the coat was too large for me – I am petite and it is not. It is an XL and a generous cut, I am not. I bought the awesome bargain after trying it on and seeing that the shoulders were fitting decently, though the sleeves were past my fingers, the waist was too big and the length too long. I took it to my local dry cleaner and for $35 she is shortening the arms and hem and nipping in the waist. So for $65 I got a $179 jacket that is perfect for the upcoming fall.


Sleeves that are too long, hems dragging on the ground, gaping waists and baggy jackets can all be easily fixed by a neighborhood tailor or dry cleaner. They can also replace missing buttons, broken zippers and some torn seams. If the price is right, often the tailoring still keeps the garment at a discounted price. I have bought suiting pants 75% off just because the zipper is broken, a suede blazer at 80% off because the lining had pulled away from the jacket body.


Do not invest in garments that are stained (salespeople usually try to remove the stains with a cleaning fluid, if it’s still stained it probably won’t come out in the wash or at the cleaners), torn (resewing a seam may make the item fit differently), irregular (remember quality is key – no one should be wearing a sweater with two different sleeve lengths) overly large (tailor costs will be insane and the true look of the garment will be lost) or too small (don’t buy for the body you hope to have, buy for the current you. Also tailors can’t make things larger – there’s usually not enough fabric at the seams and if they attempt the fit of the garment will be compromised).


If You Don’t Love It…
Don’t buy it. Would you buy it if it were full price? If the answer is a quick “no” leave the item in the fitting room. Just because an item is cheap does not mean you can scrimp on cut, style or fit. A 50% markdown does not justify a gaping armhole, an unflattering color or even a staple that you really have enough of already. The world sees you and your outfit, not the reduced price. They don’t know if what you bought cost $200 or $20, they just know it doesn’t look good, doesn’t flatter your body or your personality. Every dollar in your wallet is precious, don’t waste it on crap. If you can’t imagine the item with at least two other things in your closet, it’s not worth your time or money.

Living the Savvy Life Promotion

My friend Melissa Tosetti is the founder of The Savvy Life, a great site that gives tips on how to live a full life without living past your means. I have learned so much from her site, as well as her recent book, Living the Savvy Life (you can read my review of the book here). I am honored to be partnering with her and many other fabulous online budget-savvy folks (hello Flylady!) for the promotion below.

I own Living the Savvy Life and find it a great resource for anyone (and hey, it’s cool that I am mentioned on page 191 of the book!). I encourage you to check out the promotion below, you won’t be disappointed!

and receive $190 in Free Bonus Downloads
Offer valid July 12th-13th, 2011

For details including how to take advantage of the offer visit www.LivingtheSavvyLife.com.

Melissa Tosetti, the author of Living the Savvy Life – The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Smart Spending and Rich Living has created a brand new online program that brings the international best seller to life.

Melissa is launching the new program with a special limited time offer. Purchase a copy of Living the Savvy Life from Amazon.com on July 12th – July 13th and you will receive a one month free subscription to the Living the Savvy Life Coaching Program. The new program guides you step-by-step, day-by-day to gain control of your finances, focus your spending on what you truly want and enjoy your life to the fullest.

As an added incentive, some of her savvy friends (like me!) have offered valuable downloadable gifts (worth $190) for free to help you on your savvy path.

Additional Bonus Gifts
  • Free copy of The Working Woman’s eCookbook from Leanne Ely of Saving Dinner ($20).
  • Free 90 Day Membership to FFIT at home, an online exercise, nutrition and support program ($149.85).
  • Free copy of Healthy Beauty Spy, the phone app that helps you choose healthier beauty products while you shop ($2.99).
  • Free French Breakfast & English High Tea Menu and Recipe Guide from The Rich Life on a Budget. (unavailable anywhere else).
  • Free Article on the 10 Must Have Wardrobe Staples and How to Wear Them from Alison Gary of Wardrobe Oxygen (unavailable anywhere else).
  • Build Your Own Control Journal – Instruction Manual courtesy of Marla Cilley, The Flylady.
  • Favorite Savvy Websites Directory compiled by Melissa Tosetti

For additional details including how to take advantage of the offer visit www.LivingtheSavvyLife.com.

Remember, this offer is only valid for July 12th- 13th, 2011.

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Bonnaroo 2011 – What I Packed

I am breaking my Bonnaroo 2011 review into a few posts. I know this topic isn’t interesting to all; won’t be offended if you scroll right through. Do know I will soon return to regularly scheduled fashion posts!


Bonnaroo 2011 – the 10th anniversary of this music and arts festival, our fourth time attending, and our first time going as VIP. This year there were four in our party – me, my husband, my sister, and our friend Sarah (Emerson stayed with Grandma).

For those who do not know about Bonnaroo, it is a four-day festival taking place in Manchester, Tennessee in June (I will sometimes call it The Farm as that is is on an old farm that was recently purchased just for Bonnaroo).  There are two stages, three large tents and several smaller stages where musicians perform pretty much from 11am until 4am (or later!).  On top of that, there are artists, dancers, vendors, food, and the best people watching on the planet.   Oh, and a water slide and Ferris wheel!  Bonnaroo is hot – there aren’t any trees and very little shade; when it’s really dry it can get really dusty and hard to breathe and when it rains it can easily flood your campsite or parts of the festival grounds (known as Centeroo).

Image of Bonnaroo 2010 courtesy of the blog Hurple Hoopla

Over 80,000 people attend Bonnaroo each year and most camp.  There are several types of camping programs available – General Admission, Family Camping, Access Camping (for those with disabilities and needs for close access), VIP (what we chose this year – details in a future post), RV and VIP RV camping, All Access (which is where you get to live the life of a celebrity in a tour bus with major access and perks), and even some folks choose to spend their evenings in a hotel and take a shuttle to Centeroo each day.

Centeroo is a fenced-in area at Bonnaroo where all the events take place. You can see from the image above how massive Bonnaroo is.

Image of the What Stage courtesy of the Tampa Bay Times

There is a real mix of musicians who perform at Bonnaroo – rock, jazz, soul, blues, gospel, hip-hop, bluegrass, country and everything in between.  Because of this there is an amazing mix of people – attendees come from all over the globe, some who are attending for the first time and some who have been to all 10 Roos.  All who love music.  Attendees come in all ages too – this year seemed to have more college-aged folks than usual and the majority of the crowd is under 30, but it’s not shocking to see folks in their ’60s, ’70s, or ’80s rocking out at a show right next to you.  Many people also bring their children as that Bonnaroo has a program set up just for the little tykes.

After being on The Farm three times before, through dust storms and record-breaking heat, and rain I felt pretty knowledgeable about what I should pack to be prepared, comfortable, yet still adhering to my personal style. However, I found that going VIP meant I overpacked. There was far less need for things to keep me cool, hydrated, and protected. I am going to share all that I packed, and then write about what I used and didn’t.


What I Wish I Brought:

  • Gummi fruit snacks. I had these previous years and loved them for a quick sweet treat. You can tuck a packet in your bag for a Centeroo snack.
  • String cheese. We had too many dry crunchy snacks and string cheese was always something I enjoyed at previous Roos.
  • Better shampoo and conditioner. Man, the stupid combo stuff made my hair a tangled, dry, frizzy mess. Was very grateful for the Garnier Fructis samples at the showers.
  • A proper shower caddy. This year we had shower trailers and the bucket got all full of water.
  • A big floppy hat. I was constantly feeling as though the tops of my ears were burning; a bigger hat would have been chic as well as offer better protection.
  • TOMs or flat espadrilles. My boots ended up not being too comfy (learn more later), the flip flops were downright dangerous in Centeroo, and I just couldn’t break down and wear the Crocs. I saw many people in canvas shoes that looked quite happy. My husband and sister both wore Sanuks and liked them at Bonnaroo.
  • Cute tops to wear with my cutoffs. When we were camping in GA, regular shorts would have been ridiculous – they would be too hot, too constricting, would ride up and be awful. However being VIP I didn’t have to walk as much and had respite from the heat. It would have been nice to be able to switch to a breezy cotton camisole with cutoffs for later in the day.
  • My camera battery charger. My camera battery was near-dead once I arrived so I only took a handful of photos.
  • A better phone. My Droid sucks and wouldn’t keep a charge for more than an hour, even though I didn’t have on WiFi and didn’t use it for anything but to check the time
  • A watch. Something small and waterproof. I heard Walmart has little ones in the toy section for a couple bucks that are of gummy rubber. That would have been perfect.
  • A grill. I found grills to be a PITA in GA, but in VIP it would have been nice to cook up breakfast each morning. In GA you can find a vendor that for $5 will give you an overflowing plate of eggs, potatoes, and onions. In VIP for $10 you get a pretty meager breakfast and have to walk a mile to find one of the GA vendors.
  • A bigger table. We had more space in VIP and it would have been nice to have a table we could use as a dining table, or to organize/store our foodstuffs nicely.
  • More jewelry. I went down wearing a beaded necklace from Forever 21 that stained my necklace and shirt, and a pair of silver hoops. I have a necklace I usually wear to Bonnaroo but it broke just before we got in the car to leave. My other necklace I was going to bring broke two days before we left.

My sister‘s Bonnaroo 2011 shoe collection – Crocs, wellies, and Sanuks

What I Didn’t Need:

  • The Crocs.
  • The jeans. It never seemed to get cold enough where I felt I needed to bundle up. A shirt or hoodie and my boots was plenty.
  • The Uhydration tablets. We never got that overheated where we needed to replenish like that
  • The hose. With VIP, you have 24 access to real showers, no need to DIY at a water station.
  • The watermelon. We forgot about it.
  • A case of beer. I hardly drank so we ended up taking home almost an entire case.
  • The solar radio/iPod and speakers. We were so close to the main stage at camp, we never touched these things.
  • My henley. I wore the chambray shirt one night, the hoodie another, every other night was pretty warm while I was out.
  • The Clorox wipes. I only used the porta-potties once while on the Farm so I didn’t need to sanitize. Along with that, no need for toilet paper or carrying personal wipes all day; and no need for the Pstyle. I only used the personal wipes for quick cleaning between showers.
  • The bathing suit.  But then I always bring a bathing quite everywhere because you never know when you will need it and they don’t take up much space!
  • My husband’s energy bars.  I don’t think he ate any of them.

Packing: GA versus VIP
Do know, my regular list would have probably been pretty awesome if we were in GA again. Over the three years and my time on the Inforoo message board I really learned the best things to bring, and what was pointless. I learned that comfort trumped fashion, that even SPF 30 will give you a dark tan by the end of the festival, that porta-potties aren’t that bad if you are prepared.

 Image courtesy of The Tennessean

Fashion

My standard uniform for the past three Bonnaroos was a 100% cotton sundress that floated away from the body, a pair of cotton underwear and a cotton bra, moisture-wicking bike shorts that keep me cool and also offer modesty in wind and when sitting on the ground, a straw hat, sunglasses and either my Crocs or DUO boots (the boots with cotton socks). It wasn’t glamorous, I wouldn’t be featured on any street style fashion blog, but it got the job done and I didn’t have to THINK about my clothing all day long. Come evening, I would change either into a maxi dress or just slip jeans under my dress. I liked loose jeans since I would be dusty and sometimes sunburned – far more comfy than tight denim!

Me on Friday at Bonnaroo this year

However, with VIP you have creature comforts. Three different locations for air-conditioned toilet trailers. The ability to wash your hands or take a shower twice a day. Fresh fruit at your disposal and cool, dark tents where you can rest up and recharge. Shorter walks to Centeroo (and two close entrances that drop you off in two different parts of Centeroo). It’s easy to stay clean, be comfortable, and look cute. All the people I saw in adorable vintage dresses, lacy peasant tops and vintage cutoffs either had on the VIP wristband or a press/all access badge and lanyard. If we do VIP again I feel I can be more creative with my wardrobe.

 Image courtesy of Dane101.com

Food

Also realize we have chosen over time to bring less food and purchase more in Centeroo. It may not seem cost-effective, but each year we saw how much food we brought home (even this year we brought home half the oranges, the watermelon, the bread and PB&J – only made one sandwich, and a third of the snacks were never cracked open). It’s hard to plan on being back at camp when camp is so far away; it’s easier and ends up being more frugal in the long run to only bring snacks and maybe breakfast food and purchase everything else at Bonnaroo. Vendors in GA have cheap food; in and near Centeroo you can get cheap arepas, pizza slices, and grilled cheese sandwiches. On top of that, there is some pretty spectacular food. I ate alligator, field green salads with candied walnuts, “black lemonade” which was lemonade mixed with a slush of crushed fresh in-season berries, and fabulous DIY pitas with fresh veggies, tzatziki sauce and grilled chicken.  This year they even had a section for fancy food trucks!

My sister’s freezer full of water pre-Bonnaroo

You will see we packed frozen water – when the water is frozen it acts like ice for your food. It melts throughout the time there so you always have icy cold water to drink! We have also learned that if you bring two coolers, you can once a day open the big one to fill the small one, and it will keep things cold/frozen longer in the big cooler (the less often you open a cooler, the longer it will stay cold). We didn’t do that this year and had to purchase ice twice while at Bonnaroo.

It is important to drink lots of water, but it’s also important to replenish salt in your body when you are sweating a lot. Salty foods like pistachios, and hydration products like Gatorade and Uhydration tablets help greatly and taste good.

I can’t stay up for four days straight like I could a decade ago so I use 5 Hour Energy to survive at least part of each late night at Bonnaroo. My husband guzzled FRS drinks a couple times a day to stay energized. I take the 5 Hour Energy 5-7 hours before I plan to crash because I can feel them wearing off and I end up almost dead by time they have run through my system. Some people have reactions to 5 Hour Energy; I recommend you try them out more than once before you go to Bonnaroo to ensure they work and don’t work against your body.

Drink

It’s hot. Seriously hot. Crazy hot. Heat and drinking do not mix, both will dehydrate you, and if you drink a lot you will be less likely to realize you are dehydrated. People die at Bonnaroo due to hyperthermia and heat-related issues – even well-experienced festival goers. If you’re thirsty, drink water. Keep the drinking of alcohol until after the sun starts to go down.

Drugs

There are drugs at music festivals. I have heard Bonnaroo isn’t as bad as many others in regard to this but do know this takes place. No one will look twice at you for abstaining. But realize people will stop by your camp asking you if you need any, people will be using them right next to you at a show, and especially once the sun goes down you will see the effects of people using all sorts of drugs.

On the trip down, cops will search cars looking for drugs. When you hit the farm, security may search your car and the search may be basic, or they may tear your car inside out. Cops on horses patrol the campgrounds looking for drug dealers. I don’t care whether you partake or not, I just want you to be fully aware before you go.

 Picture of some of the stuff my sister packed for herself this year – she too likes L.L. Bean!

Packing: What We Used

L.L. Bean Boat and Totes are my favorite for packing. They hold a ton, they have a sturdy bottom so they don’t tip over, but are flexible enough to smush around a cooler so you can close the hatchback. I have almost a dozen (and just got another one from Lands End the day we returned from Bonnaroo!). My pet Boat and Tote is the XL zip-top with extra-long straps. It’s berry with teal trim and it’s big enough to hold all my Bonnaroo clothes, beauty products, and even shoes. We used another for mine and communal beauty/personal supplies, another for camping equipment. We used a Whole Foods reusable bag for snacks, one of those mega IKEA blue totes for camping equipment, and my husband used a big duffle from his Navy days for his clothes and necessities. My husband also shoved our pillows and bedding into a waterproof bag which worked a bit like a SpaceBag by shrinking it all to the size of three basketballs.

Packing: Getting There
The two of us go in my husband’s Subaru. We drop the back seat, and use a Thule storage bag on the roof. I know four people can fit in a Honda Civic with all their equipment, but we liked that we had complete open space up front, the ability to see out the back window, and could access any of our luggage while on the road. On the way home, we were able to shove everything in the actual car and not use the rooftop carrier.

We have learned to wash the car before we go. We don’t advertise that we’re going to Bonnaroo because that’s just begging for a cop to pull you over and be tempted to search your vehicle. When driving into the farm, we dress conservatively – my husband wears a polo, I wear shorts and a regular top. The cops are drooling for cars to pull over kids and we don’t want to be seen as a kid. We have also found this speeds up our entry to Bonnaroo because we look like tame, respectable adults.

We stay overnight in a hotel on Wednesday so we’re well rested for our first day at Bonnaroo. I have learned to pack a single bag to take into the hotel with our toiletries and change of clothes. This way I don’t have to rifle through the entire car for our toothbrushes. We also use our Wednesday night to hit a Walmart for refrigerated items like beer (also a great chance to pick up things forgotten like allergy meds!).

On Thursday, we have the tickets in the glove compartment, the GPS ready to go, and a couple icy bottles of water ready for the cops directing traffic into Bonnaroo. The local police in Coffee County Tennessee work really hard to keep the lines moving quickly and smoothly and it’s not an easy job. When you slowly inch by them, thank them for their service and offer them a sealed bottle of cold water. It’s the right thing to do. This is another reason why we don’t overstuff our car – so we can reach the cooler!

Packing: What Not to Bring

  • Don’t bring things like flat irons and hair dryers. Seriously ladies, it’s okay to spend one long weekend with frizzy hair tucked under a hat or scarf.
  • No drugs, no glass, no weapons. Yes, we have broken the glass and weapon rule, but do as I say, not as I do okay?
  • Nice stuff. Leave your It Bag, your favorite dress, your designer jeans at home. I personally think you should also leave home computers and other electronics but if you do feel you need to bring them, be sure to lock them in your car out of sight.

Packing: What Not to Forget

  • Your tickets/wristbands!
  • A second set of car keys. One pair should be on your person at all times, the other pair should be somewhere safe (on your friend’s person, in your friend’s car, etc.). It would suck to have to pay a locksmith to get back in your car.
  • Car battery charging cables. Again, it would suck to require assistance while at Bonnaroo.
  • Sunscreen. I don’t care if you think you never burn, if you want to get a tan, if you think you have a base tan. It’s darn hot and there is NO SHADE. I wore SPF 30 on my body and 55 on my face the entire time, reapplied almost hourly and still came home with a dark tan. A sunburn would ruin your experience mighty quickly.
  • Immodium AD. I know, gross topic but again this could ruin your experience pretty quickly. Change in water, change in environment, too much beer, too much sun, too much fried food, a sketchy snack from a vendor on Shakedown… be prepared. Along with this, some Motrin, Benadryl, and aloe vera are good things to also have on hand.
  • Something to hold water. Water is available for free in Bonnaroo but you need some way to carry it. Camelbaks aren’t chic but they make a heck of a lot of sense. You can drink while walking, you don’t have to carry anything, and you can wear it and dance your booty off at the same time. A little water bottle won’t cut it; my 32oz. bottle was hardly enough and I was in VIP. Again, comfort over fashion – dress to stay hydrated.

Next post will be about what I wore each day… additional posts will come regarding how the VIP experience was, and what I saw/did each day while at Bonnaroo.

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No Apologies

I am writing to let you know after three years I am unsubscribing from your blog. My friend recommended it as a fashion resource for women over 40 and while I have gained some benefit from your capsule wardrobes, I can no longer support a site that will sell out to the highest bidder. In just the past month you have sold articles to promote cookies, men’s watches, a dress from a retailer I have never seen you before promote, and now underwear to prevent as you put it, chub rub. Obviously you care more about the almighty dollar than your self-respect or the approval of your followers. Good luck to you, you will need it with the direction you are going.

And good luck to you, for you too will need it if you feel that your fellow women shouldn’t be compensated for their work and instead should worry about gaining approval from others.

In the past month (May 10 – June 10) I have published 22 posts on Wardrobe Oxygen. Five are outfit posts; while these posts may feature some gifted merchandise I chose to feature it because I like it and wore the merchandise in real life. Four are straight-up fashion advice posts, two are reviews of clothing or beauty products I purchased with my own money, three were by my monthly columnists, four were on non-fashion or outfit content (about blogging, retail, my arm surgery and one about weight), and four were sponsored content. Less than 20% of my content is sponsored.

Cookies? When I accepted the sponsorship, I was told the piece would be about self-care and “me time,” which I felt was completely relevant to the blog (I had recently written about coloring, written before about self care).  And while the final contract requirements expected photos and specific wording about said cookies, I didn’t feel the final post was in poor taste because I legitimately love those cookies. In fact, I had two Tuesday night with a glass of wine while finishing my newsletter.

Men’s watches? I may not write regularly about men’s fashion, but I do on occasion. I have also provided gift guides in the past and I truly believe a watch to be a great gift. And to be honest, the pay was really good for that one and I really like partnering with Nordstrom because while I am given guidelines (write about men’s watches, write about flats for summer, etc.), I am allowed to write whatever I want in whatever format feels authentic. I shop at Nordstrom, I love Nordstrom’s customer service and selection, I featured Nordstrom a TON before I ever was offered a sponsored post from them and I work hard to provide quality content, advice, and details in every Nordstrom-sponsored post I write.

Christopher & Banks? I think it was a smart partnership. When they approached me I was thrilled. The pricepoint for their collection is good, and many of you have complained in the past that I feature brands that are too expensive for your budget. The brand offers a broad range of sizes, which is refreshing to see. And honestly, that dress is amazing. I’ve worn it a half dozen times, thrown in in the washer and dryer and it still looks great. Many of you let me know you ordered the dress after my post and also adore it. I wouldn’t have known about Christopher & Banks if they hadn’t reached out to me; many of my favorite brands are ones I learned about thanks to this blog.

As for the Jockey Skimmies I will not apologize for getting paid to promote an that I love. Come on, I wrote a completely unpaid review last year and raved, why should I say no to being paid and given another pair? I legitimately wore them to that wedding and they legitimately saved my skin during the event. And while you may not approve of me discussing chub rub, I’m not ashamed to admit I experience it and I’m thrilled to offer a reasonably-priced product that battles an issue many many women deal with.

Writing this blog takes time. Time I could be spending with my family, hitting the gym, working my way up the career ladder, gardening, writing the next great American novel, sewing the dropped hem in Emerson’s favorite skirt (I really need to get around to that…). Being compensated justifies the time I spend (and enjoy) on Wardrobe Oxygen. If I were a professional wardrobe consultant I’d be paid by the hour. If I were a book author people would purchase my book. If I were a teacher I’d be paid a salary.  I have a day job so I can’t do most speaking engagements or have time to write e-books and freelance content.  I’ve made a choice to put my family first so I decline most sponsored activities like hosting events, going on trips, or speaking at conferences so I can be home to put Emerson to bed.  Sponsored posts and affiliate links are my income for the service I provide, and I work hard for the money. I strive to have quality content and a good balance of sponsored content and regular posts.

In the past I have taken on too much sponsored content, and I will admit some of the sponsored posts weren’t the best fit. I also had a few of you upset that you couldn’t tell posts were sponsored until the end so I have made a concerted effort to be clearer with the partnership.  I’m learning as I go, working to constantly improve this site and my processes to run it.

Once I made What Every Woman Wanted in Her Wardrobe dot Blogspot dot com into Wardrobe Oxygen, I considered it a business. That doesn’t just mean I made money, it meant I made a decision to be more professional with how I handled the blog.  More regular content, more on-topic content, higher quality images, a more consistent schedule.  I do that because I take pride in my job, and I consider Wardrobe Oxygen a job. Just because I don’t have a book deal or storefront doesn’t mean I should have to work for free.

I wish you the best in finding a resource that is a better fit for you. But please consider the effort put into making that advice that you benefit from; don’t you think everyone deserves to be compensated for their work?

Jockey Skimmies Slipshort – An Unbiased Review

Jockey Skimmies Slipshort Review

I’m a gal who deals with chub rub (chafing between the thighs especially during hot weather); when I saw so many bloggers recently promote the Jockey Skimmies Slipshort I was curious. I receive free product in exchange for reviews on Wardrobe Oxygen and know how hard it is to be unbiased in such a situation.  I decided to buy a pair with my own money so I can be as honest as I like and share with you!

Truthfully, I expected to be disappointed in the Skimmies because I’ve tried the Jockey “Preferred by Rachel Zoe” line before and was not impressed (and had to write a sponsored review hence my desire to try on my terms). But my beloved black Kmart bike shorts from 2007 (have never found a worthy replacement) are getting threadbare and summer is here so I was ready for a replacement to wear under dresses and skirts to prevent chafing.

There are four types of the Jockey Skimmies – regular, anti-static, wicking, and short length. I decided to go with the regular, and because I’m petite, also grabbed a pair of the short length. I purchased both in Light (beige) and both in size Large (Jockey says this is equal to a 10-12 or panty size 6, but reviews online said these slipshorts run large).

Both are made exactly of the same material, and fit pretty much the same except for leg length. On my size 14, 5’3″ frame, the regular ended 2.5” above the top of my knee, the short 6.5” above my knee. As for the fabric, it’s opaque enough in case you have a Marilyn moment you won’t look as though you’re wearing cutoff pantyhose but obviously more lingerie than gym wear.

The Pros:

The fabric is awesome, it is silky enough to have knits slip over it, but doesn’t get gross with sweat and heat. The waistband doesn’t bind at ALL, they feel as though I’m not wearing anything. The legs don’t dig and there aren’t any visible seams; you could wear these under lightweight pants and slim knit dresses without any lines. “Light” is a perfect match to my light to medium skintone. They don’t stretch out at the waist or legs and they don’t make me feel hotter with an extra layer.  The Large is extremely comfortable from top to bottom.  I need to again mention how utterly comfortable these are, you truly feel as though you’re wearing nothing at all.

The Cons:

They claim to have a cotton gusset, but it doesn’t seem like it; it’s same color, nubby, and doesn’t breathe any better than the rest of the slipshort. This means on a hot day with a lot of walking, it can get a bit… swampy down there.

The regular length Skimmies didn’t ride. AT ALL. I wore them for 11 hours straight and they didn’t shift or sag or bunch, they stayed exactly in place, even when I got hot and sweaty, even after walking for 20 minutes straight. However they are so long on me that they can only be worn with midi and maxi skirts.  Even a knee-length skirt is too short if I climb stairs or cross my legs.

The short Skimmies… they ride.  When I stand from my chair I want to tug at them, when I walk a block I want to tug at them. The good thing is that it’s usually only one leg at a time that rides up so I still end up without chub rub, but if you don’t get a chance to tug down that one leg and sit again, both will ride up and they become useless.

Final Verdict:

Close… and closer than anything else I have tried but not perfect. I like them enough that I’m going to try the wicking version in black, and for long days and music festivals will likely wear a pair of cotton underwear under them. However for shorter dresses, I’ll wear my one pair of short Skimmies but I’m still on the hunt for something better.

Have you tried the Jockey Skimmies Slipshorts? Do you have another product you find perfect for battling summer chafing and chub rub?