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.

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

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!

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

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!

Can a Size 14 Woman Wear Everlane?

the quest for larger sized ethical fashion - a review of everlane by a size 14 woman - Wardrobe OxygenI’m trying to buy not just for the here and now, but the future. I know I am not alone in thinking this may be a temporary size for my body, but I am over holding off on personal style and quality clothing because of it. Let’s be real, the last time I was under a size 12 Emerson was only a glimmer in my eye. If I do by chance end up that size again, I’d want some new clothes and would pay to have my closet favorites tailored to fit.

I’ve been hearing about Everlane for a long while. The brand even reached out to me a couple years ago offering to gift me some product from their line. At the time I was recovering from my broken arm and was a very solid 14, in some items a 16. I was trying to heal my body and my spirit from the injury, the last thing I needed was some too-tight clothing to come in the mail and make me feel even more like crap. So I accepted their Twill Weekender (it’s a fabulous bag, well crafted, stylish, perfect size for a 2-3 day getaway, see it in this post) and they sent Karl a The Card Case (very nice and he used for a bit but didn’t find the style to suit his daily needs).

But as I pare down my wardrobe and choose more quality of pieces, I would prefer these pieces to be made ethically. Again, I came back to Everlane. Everlane offers women’s clothing up to a size L; there is no size chart on the site, you are encouraged to email the company directly to ask questions about fit. I found this off-putting. Again I don’t believe I am alone in wanting to have a website provide everything I need and not have to wait to make a purchase. A size chart is a pretty standard option on sites, especially if your sizing is by letter instead of by number. But many blogs I follow say much of their collection runs big, so I decided to try a few items. I found most size L items were out of stock, these were the three that I ordered that not only came in a L but also were in colors or silhouettes I would actually wear on a regular basis. The results were not too pretty…

The Silk Camisole – Black, size Large

Everlane Silk Camisole Review - Wardrobe OxygenA spaghetti strap camisole in silk is such a great piece to have in your wardrobe. Wear in the summer untucked with a slim pair of jeans or ankle pants for a night out. Slip under a suit jacket. Wear under a dressy pantsuit for a cocktail party. Pair with a denim jacket and leather leggings. The options are endless. This one looked all loose and drapey on the model; I knew it wouldn’t end up that drapey on me but figured there’d be enough room in the cut of the cami to fit my boobs and not show the shape of my belly button.

Everlane Silk Camisole Size L on Size 14 Woman - Wardrobe OxygenWhile my breasts do fit in the Everlane Silk Camisole, I think if I tried to shimmy on the dance floor or if it was the week before my period I’d be busting some seams. As it is, I had puckering between the breasts and on the back. With the straps at the adjustment it came with (3” adjusted on each strap), the tank was digging into my armpits. I lowered the straps (something I never do considering I am 5’3” and short waisted I usually shorten straps) and as you can see from the photo, it still sat high and weird.

Everlane The Silk Camisole Review on Size 14 Woman - Wardrobe OxygenWhile the tank isn’t so tight on the torso that you can see the indentation of my belly button, it’s clear this wasn’t cut for anyone with a butt. It was skin tight from the natural waist down, and with each step the back flipped up and started shimmying towards my jean’s waistband.

The tank is a good quality of silk that isn’t thin or cheap looking. The top part where a small bust would be is double-layered which is nice if you’re able to go braless. I believe a large would comfortably fit a size 8 woman with slight curves. This size 14 woman required a second person to get her out of the tank without breaking it. FAIL.

The Silk Tank – Slate, size Large

Everlane The Silk Tank Review - Wardrobe OxygenI ordered this tank because like the silk camisole, such an item is a wardrobe workhorse.  Imagine untucked with white linen pants and a long silver necklace.  Tucked in under a leather jacket with jeans and boots, or under a suit with heels.  The color is the type that can look tough or feminine and work with most everything already in my closet.

Everlane Order Haul Review - Wardrobe OxygenI can’t properly review this because I didn’t receive this. Though my packing slip confirms I ordered this, instead I received The Silk Round Collar shirt in a raisin color and size XS.

Wrong item delivered from EverlaneI didn’t notice the XS on the label and decided to try it on anyway. Yeah, I couldn’t even fit my arm in the sleeve. Must say I felt much better about life when I saw the actual size on the label! I know stores make mistakes from time to time, but one like this, especially from a brand that doesn’t have free returns and mailing labels with their orders, is really annoying. FAIL

The Linen V-Neck – Charcoal, size Large

Everlane The Linen V-Neck Review - Wardrobe OxygenMy beloved Old Navy vintage v-necks are starting to fall apart. Not a bad run for cheap shirts, but Old Navy no longer carries these exact shirts and I am now desiring a style that’s a bit looser. I have linen t-shirts from J. Crew and Boden and love the slub finish and how they don’t stick in the heat and humidity. I have a metallic navy from J. Crew and a white from Boden but have been desiring a grey or charcoal option.

Everlane The Linen V-Neck Review - Wardrobe OxygenOn the plus side, this shirt actually fits. The sleeves aren’t skin tight, I don’t get ribbing between my breasts from it being too snug in the bust, and it’s a great length for tucking in or leaving out. I also like the color, a dark charcoal with little nubby flecks of white.

Everlane Linen V Neck Review on Size 14 Woman - Wardrobe OxygenAnd now the negatives. This is a very rough and itchy shirt. I only wore it long enough to take these photos, but I feel if I wore it outside in the heat it would be as maddening as wearing wool in the summertime. And while it isn’t tight, you can see it’s not made for curves – see the gathering above the bust? That’s because this shirt is made straight and there’s no allowance for a bust of any size. And while the sleeves aren’t too short, they ended right at the widest part of my bust making me look even larger. FAIL

To sum up, Everlane is not a brand made for a size 14 woman. I doubt much would work for a size 12 unless that woman was tall (distributing the size), and with slight curves. It is really unfortunate that Everlane doesn’t provide for larger women considering the average American female is essentially my height and close to my clothing size.

There’s been plenty of discussion in the past year about why there’s isn’t better options for larger sizes. Brands say it’s expensive to have more fit models and patterns, companies say that larger sizes aren’t bought as often as smaller. Many think it elitism and designers don’t want to see their clothes on larger-sized women. I know from over ten years of writing Wardrobe Oxygen and knowing a good portion of my audience is a size 10 or larger that there is a desire for ethically made quality clothing in larger sizes. I see what links you click on, and what you purchase and know women in double digit sizes are willing to spend money for well made, well-fitting clothing. Every week I receive emails and comments asking me to review ethical clothing companies and feature more ethical fashion. But as a size 14 woman who isn’t drawn to the minimalistic style, there’s little out there for me to even try. Over and over sites recommend companies like Everlane for basics that are made with ethics and quality, but when the average American woman can’t fit into their clothes, it makes such a wardrobe quite elitist.
I dropped $200 on this order and if the items fit, I would have kept them all and been a regular Everlane shopper, spending a few hundred each season and then wearing the items on the blog, recommending them to the over 150,000 followers of this blog. But because they don’t and after all these years of being in business they have not increased their size range, I can only say that Everlane is a fail.

As ethical brands come on the market and provide fashion to women a size 10 and over, I will try to review them. But know not every double-digit sized woman wants to be a pin up, likes drop crotches and asymmetrical tunics, or a wardrobe in the shades of oatmeal, olive, and bark. If you know of any ethical brands that cater to larger women and offer great style, share them in the comments. You never know, that may be the next brand I review!

Weekend Sales Alert

Weekend Sales Alert - Wardrobe OxygenStores sure like to take advantage of holidays to get people shopping! I don’t know how Mother’s Day and shopping are connected (especially if you’re reading this it’s too late to order that gift), but hey, all the better for us who are looking to update our wardrobes for spring and summer!

Banana Republic has 25% off everything with code BRSAVE (expires 5/9). I’m loving the Ryan pants (have in black and navy pinstripe), think this off the shoulder top would look so cute with girlfriend jeans or wide leg linen pants, and think this dress would be pretty perfect for most any event on one’s calendar this summer.

LOFT has 40% off the whole kitten caboodle, no code needed.  I took advantage of it (along with a LOFT Rewards card that was soon expiring) and ordered the Modern Hoop Earrings, Sleeveless Tie-Waist Shirtdress, La Bonita Dress, and two sale dresses all for less than $175.  Of course, will be sure to review once they arrive!

Talbots has their Friends and Family taking place; use code FRIENDS30 (expires 5/8) to get 30% off your entire purchase.  While Talbots has in general underwhelmed me this season, they do have a few great pieces.  Their shoes are great this season, especially if you’re looking for a low heel or wedge for summer weddings.  I like the Capri Leather Wedge which comes in a few colors and neutrals as well as two metallicsTheir Weekend Short is a pretty perfect cut and length, and this maxi shirtdress would be lovely for a hot summer evening.

J. Crew Factory has 20% off three or more items with the code THISISNICE (also expires 5/9).  This top is the type I love in summer because it looks like a complete outfit even when paired with jeans or shorts, I own and love this striped tee, and I have and love these shorts for summer – no muffin top!

Anthropologie has 20% off with code XOXO (expires 5/8).  Promo codes are the only way I shop Anthro when it’s not digging through their clearance room at the store.  I am drooling over the Cerelia Jumpsuit, find the Abroad Dress to look simple but likely be extremely versatile and flattering, and think the Terra-Azure Pullover would be perfect for work or paired with denim shorts and sandals.

Amazon has 25% off select beauty tools and appliances.  No code is needed, this link takes you to the eligible products.  I have Real Techniques brushes and think they’re great quality and own almost this same exact makeup mirror (round instead of oval) and it has worked great for over a decade!

Happy shopping!

 

Shop My Closet – On Poshmark!

WardrobeOxygen on PoshmarkI’ve been saying for a while that I needed to get off my tuchus and sell all the clothes I don’t currently wear. While I may clean out my closet I do have a dirty secret… I have bins and bags full of clothes in my attic (and there were a couple full contractor bags in my home office). I regularly donate career wear to a charity and have Freecycled and donated all my maternity clothes and clothes that are in “well loved” condition, but the nicer stuff I’ve been holding on to.

No more. All this clothing is doing no one favors being boxed and bagged up in my attic. A couple weekends ago, my best friend came over and for eight hours we dug through three bags. All pieces were photographed, packed up, labeled, and ready to ship. While I have used eBay and a Shop My Closet blog in the past, this time I decided to use Poshmark. My friend Alyson has raved about it for a long time and many of you have told me you use it with great success. It seemed simpler than eBay too.

For the past two weeks I have been using Poshmark and I have become as big of a fan as my friend Alyson! It’s an app-based program; while you can visit Poshmark on your computer, to buy and sell you need to do it on your phone. As a seller, I think this makes the process uber easy – my pictures are already on my phone so I can easily upload them, write a quick description, and even answer questions and negotiate counteroffers. I’ve found the customers to be more… reasonable than on eBay. You’re not usually expected to offer 5,000 measurements for a $6 LOFT tee, people are super friendly and quick to share and comment, and while I have had a couple ridiculous counter offers (no, I will not sell that NWT original retail still in the store $250 item for $15), in general it has been a friendly and painless experience.

Tips for Selling on Poshmark by Wardrobe OxygenA couple of you saw on social media that I was on Poshmark and have joined to buy and sell. If you’re interested, if you use this link and code PMZYS you’ll get $5 off your first order and I too will receive a $5 credit (find me, I am wardrobeoxygen).  There’s no auction or bidding, you can counter-offer and some sellers (myself included) offer  “bundling” where you can purchase multiple pieces from a seller at one time and save on shipping ($4.99/order).  If you’re interested in selling on Poshmark, here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • Be Honest.  Like other selling sites, Poshmark has a rating system.  Buyers can give you up to five stars for orders.  It’s not worth it to ruin your reputation by trying to pass off replicas, lie about the condition of a garment, or its original price.
  • Provide Details.  Is it an XL but fits more like a L?  How did you style it?  If you recall the original style name or number or even color name, include it.  While Poshmark won’t let you write a novel, you can offer quite a lot of information.  The more details you provide, the more likely the item will sell and the more likely the buyer will get what she expected and leave you a favorable rating.
  • Take Good Photos.  I use my iPhone 6s and take the pictures in natural light near a window.  For Christmas I got this dress form; it’s not high quality (in fact I cracked the base the day my friend and I were on a Poshmark selling spree and it’s now held together with packing tape) but it gives a better idea of how an item will fit than lying a sweater on your bed or floor.  If you have a photo of you wearing the item, include that too.  I also search the internet for stock photos of the item.  A mix of all three is a great way to get an item sold.  Poshmark lets you upload four photos per item with the first photo being your cover photo.  I’ve found the most successful cover photos are those with me wearing the piece.  If you don’t have a photographer taking your picture in items for a blog, a mirror selfie in a well-lit room is still good (and you can cut off your head in the photo if you wish to be anonymous).
  • Stock Up on Free Priority Mailers.  Your post office has Priority Mail Tyvek envelopes and boxes for free; these are perfect for shipping out your orders.  Included in the cut Poshmark takes from your sales (20%, or $2.95 if the item sells for $5 or less) is a shipping label.  When you make a sale, Poshmark emails you this Priority Mail label.  You can order shipping bags and boxes from USPS.com for free but know it takes up to two weeks to receive your order.  If you have a post office nearby, grab a few to get your sales going.
  • Take Care with your Sales.  I fold nicely, wrap in tissue, tie with a bit of curling ribbon, and carefully slip into the box or bag.  I got a pack of cheap tissue paper; you only need 1-2 pieces per order.  The curling ribbon I purchased when I attended a baby shower where all presents were to be wrapped in blue.  That yet-to-be-born baby is now 5 and as you see in the photo above, there’s still plenty left even though every shower and birthday present since the shower had turquoise ribbon on it.  I bought some rolls of packing tape, and because I’m a dork like that, ordered some cheapy business cards from VistaPrint (this is a referral link that will give you $10 off your first order) that thank the buyer for her order, have my name and my Poshmark address on them.  The overall cost is minimal, but it makes the experience much nicer for the recipient.
  • Raise Your Rates.  Poshmarkers LOVE to counter-offer.  Consider this when making your prices.  It’s worth it to up the price a few dollars to be ready for a counter-offer (if you accept a counter-offer the item sells immediately to that individual).  Also, if you have stagnant items that don’t want to sell, you can then lower the price without too much heartache.  A plus to lowering the rate is anyone who “liked” the piece will end up receiving reduced shipping.
  • Be Quick with Communication.  If someone asks for additional details or makes a counter-offer, be polite and reply within 24 hours.  Since Poshmark is on your phone, it’s easy to quickly type in a response and move on with your day.
  • Follow the Rules.  Don’t accept sales through PayPal or offline.  Don’t try to sell used makeup or clutter Poshmark with items they don’t allow to be sold on their app (home goods, electronics, health and wellness products, used underwear and makeup).  Don’t label something a blouse when in fact it’s one of those belly wrap things that spam social media.  And don’t call something Chanel-esque or like Louis Vuitton – that’s a trademark violation and such names can only be used if the item is legitimately from that brand.
  • Be Part of the Community.  Share other people’s sales (I only share that which I actually like), follow other accounts, leave comments and reply to comments.  Poshmark is very social, and by being part of the community you’ll get a larger audience to see your closet, resulting in faster and more sales!

Are you on Poshmark?  I’d love to hear your experiences and feel free to share your closet in the comments!

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!

How I Shop the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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!

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!

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook
 

–>

Friday Favorite: Sweet Almond Oil

Wardrobe Oxygen: Review of almond oil and its benefits for skincare and dark circlesI’ve had seasonal allergies all my life. As a kid I got weekly allergy shots  Once I was an adult I decided I’d rather suffer some sniffles and take OTC medications. Take this and being someone who does best with 9 hours of sleep but usually get 6 and I am a person with dark undereye circles.

I’ve tried dozens of creams, concealers, highlighters, and beauty hacks to hide them, but they weren’t just dark but also puffy. I gave up, deciding it was just a fact of life. Then one day Karl decided he too had dark circles. For every hack he Googled I replied, “Tried it, didn’t work.” That was until he got to sweet almond oil. You know what? I never tried almond oil. So we got a bottle.

Every night, Karl takes two drops of sweet almond oil and pats it under his eyes. I pour about a dime sized puddle in my palm and tap it under the eyes, but also rub it into the skin over my moisturizer. (I switched from night cream to Colleen Rothschild moisturizer, read my review of the product here.) Any extra almond oil on my hands I rub into my elbows.

Wow, this stuff really works! It works better than any of the fancy eye creams I’ve tried.  It’s better than any other home remedies, even better than nine hours of sleep!

But not only that, my face as a whole has benefited from the sweet almond oil, and again better than any of the fancy night creams I have tried over the years. Over a night cream, it felt too greasy and heavy; on its own it seemed too light for my dry skin. Over a day moisturizer it was utter perfection. I wake up and my skin is amazing. It’s super soft and feels plump, but not greasy. It absorbs so well I don’t need to use toner or water in the morning to feel fresh. And fresh it is, no creases, no AM dehydration, I end up touching my face often because it feels like child skin. Like Emerson’s face, but not so thin and delicate, if that makes sense. And not only are my dark circles reduced, my face in general looks more evenly toned and I find I’m using less concealer and feeling more comfortable going completely bare-faced in public.

What’s awesome, is a 16 ounce bottle of sweet almond oil costs less than $20 on Amazon (this is the exact one we use) and it’s not just an eye cream and night cream. It can take off makeup (saturate a cotton round, hold it to your eye for a bit and gently wipe), tame split ends, work as a hot oil treatment for your tresses, soften cuticles, and help with psoriasis, eczema, and dandruff. Put a drop in your foundation to make it more moisturizing without losing coverage. Since it absorbs quickly, it’s great for moisturizing your feet or places where you don’t want to be slippery. Many consume it in smoothies and other recipes for its health benefits. A quick google of “sweet almond oil health beauty” and you’ll find tons of ways to use this reasonably priced and easy to find product.

I love that a natural product accomplishes more than all these potions, lotions, and creams I have tried that are chock-full of chemicals. I love that it’s so versatile and reasonably priced. And I love that of all people, my husband is the one who turned me on to my favorite beauty product!

L’Oreal RevitaLift Review & Giveaway [Sponsored]

I’m a L’Oreal fan and have been for a while (I regularly profess my love for their Youth Code Serum, and have been pleased with many cosmetic and skincare products over the years) so when I was asked to review some pieces from their RevitaLift™ line I was excited. While I’ve had pretty good skin most of my adult life, now that I’ve hit 40 I’m seeing the effects of time on my face. Dry patches, fine lines and wrinkles, a loss of elasticity, and suddenly the occasional breakout, usually at that time of the month. I’ve learned with my skin and thanks to your comments and emails for the blog that no two people have the same skin story. L’Oreal has also realized this and created www.lorealskinexpert.com. L’Oréal’s goal with this site is to help consumers find the right solution for their unique skin concerns.  

loreal revitalift skincare review

Considering my specific skin story, L’Oreal sent me three products to try out – RevitaLift™ Triple Power™ Eye Treatment, RevitaLift™ Triple Power™ Day Lotion Moisturizer with SPF 20, and RevitaLift™ Triple Power™ Intensive Overnight Mask. I received the products a month prior to the writing of the post, used every day without fail so I could provide as useful and accurate a review as possible.

L’Oreal RevitaLift™ Triple Power™ Eye Treatment claims to, “Repair Wrinkles. Reduce Bags. Lift Eye Area.” It is a slender tube with one of those cooling metal caps. I know the point of these caps is to blend the cream into the eye area, but I find them hard to use and believe I give a softer touch with my ring finger. I didn’t even try the metal cap, and used the cream with my finger, applying every morning and evening before my moisturizer. The eye treatment is very creamy, almost slippery yet it absorbs nicely. I can apply and five minutes later put on my makeup without fear of slippage. L’Oreal claims that with this eye treatment, “In 1 week, skin texture appears smoother and skin tone is more even. In 4 weeks, wrinkles are visibly reduced.” I prefer the feel of this product over my regular anti-aging eye cream and think the silky texture prevented me from having to put in any effort to have it absorb, helping me not add any more damage or reduction of elasticity to the eye area. It’s hard to say whether my skin appears smoother or my skintone is more even, as I did a lot of travel, late nights, and soaking of the rays during the 30-day process. However, I like the consistency and lack of irritation, which I’ve been known to experience with many anti-aging eye products.

L’Oreal RevitaLift™ Triple Power™ Day Lotion Moisturizer SPF 20 claims to, “Repair Wrinkles. Smooth Out Fine Lines. Fade Spots + Discoloration.” Combining the powerful anti-aging action of Pro-Xylane and Bright Active XP3 with broad spectrum protection against the sun’s UVA and UVB rays, this product sounded like a perfect fit for my skin needs. Again, I really liked the silky, emollient consistency of the product. It glided over the skin, absorbed reasonably well for a product with sunscreen, and didn’t cause my makeup to slip throughout the day. Even with a bit too much sun one weekend, I found this product hydrating my dry patches but not leaving me greasy. I always choose an anti-aging moisturizer with a higher SPF, but this did just as good a job as my regular anti-aging daily moisturizer in smoothing out fine lines; as for spots and discoloration I didn’t see a change but again my environment and lifestyle the past month didn’t help the situation. No breakouts, even the week before my period, which lately is rare for a new moisturizer. If this had a higher SPF I’d repurchase it.

RevitaLift™ Triple Power™ Intensive Overnight Mask is my JAM! Seriously, I love this stuff and am so glad they sent it for me to review. If not, I likely would pass it buy on the drugstore shelf. It’s like L’Oreal Youth Code Serum Intense in that it’s hard to fully explain why it is so awesome. But that night after the jar arrived in the mail, I applied the eye cream, my Youth Code serum, and then this mask and when I woke up my skin looked as though I just got back from a week at the spa. Seriously, my skin looked as happy as it does after a really great facial. Plump, small pores, dewy, glowy, happy. The mask features an innovative ELASTI-FLEX texture that supposedly acts to mimic skin’s own elasticity. It’s also the first night treatment to combine concentrated super ingredient Pro-Xylane with botanical extract Centella asiatica to help improve skin’s firmness & elasticity overnight and visibly transform the look of aging skin. I haven’t used the mask every night, I switch it up with my ordinary night cream, but each night I use this I wake up with a happy face. When I got a bit of sunburn, that night I slathered this mask all over my face, neck, and shoulders and woke up with softer, less red, and less itchy skin. A little goes a long way; I’ve used it at least three times a week for a month and have slathered it from forehead to bustline and I’ve hardly made a dent in the jar. This will be a re-purchase for sure.

I encourage you to visit www.lorealskinexpert.com and find out the L’Oreal skincare products that are best for your unique skin story. Learn more about this new site, the RevitaLift™ line, and L’Oreal by visiting L’Oreal on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram.

Giveaway

In the comments below, tell me your unique skin story or a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card.  No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  • Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  • Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  • Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  • For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 9/17/15 – 11/15/15. Be sure to visit the L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift™ brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!