Search Results for: label/wedding attire

Ask Allie: Wedding Guest Attire

Hi Allie! I just bought this dress for an upcoming wedding reception (cocktail attire for women, black-tie welcomed for men). I would love to hear any ideas you have on how to accessorize it in order to glam it up. Thanks for any feedback! -Saundra

Dress via Ann Taylor

What a lovely dress, I love that icy lavender color! This is a great dress for such an event and very easy to glam up. A couple ideas:

– Silver Sparkle. Delicate silver strappy heels, delicate chandelier earrings of silver or white gold and diamonds (or CZs), a coordinating bracelet, be it a thin pave bangle or a chain of silver with crystals. Add a bit of subtle shimmer to your face with a highlighter on the brow bone, inner corners of the eyes, cheek bones, and the bow of your lips.

– Golden Glam. Some nude heels in a dressy fabric like silk – could be a strappy sandal, a D’Orsay heel or a platform peeptoe with a blingy shoe clip. Choose one accessory to make the statement – a large crystal-encrusted bangle or cuff, or a sparkly statement necklace; just have the metal be gold. Hair in a soft updo and a bit of shimmery golden tan hues used for the face.

– To-die-for Tonal. If you can find a great necklace with crystals or stones in the same pale lavender color, it can really glitz up this simple dress. Keep everything else very simple – nude dressy heels, simple hair, pretty makeup. If you really want another accessory, have it be your purse which could be a clutch in a metallic gray snakeskin or a subtle print that picks up the color of the dress.

This dress is of a formal fabric; if you have formal shoes and up the ante a bit with your makeup (darker lashes, bit of shimmer, etc.) you already are appropriate. Take a cue from celebs when they walk the runway – usually the dress makes the statement and the accessories only highlight. They usually only have one statement accessory, whether it’s a jeweled cuff or a pair of fantastic chandelier earrings.

Though it’s tempting, don’t try to match the color of the dress with your makeup – this lavender is so beautiful and so icy you can go with a bronze/gold subtle shimmer concept, a classic face with liquid liner, a simple fresh face with stronger lip.

Don’t be afraid to use a bag that doesn’t “go” – this is a look that can add some real personality to your look. I have a pale yellow snakeskin clutch that I use quite often even though I don’t own anything that color in my wardrobe. I find it is an unexpected pop of color that works so well, and the pale color makes it more dressy and versatile than typical black. A clutch in a texture (beading, embroidery) or print (snakeskin, a Pucci-inspired silk) can be far more versatile and stylish than a “basic” bag in black, silver, or gold.

Hi Allie:
I’ve been invited to two weddings this summer. Neither wedding is formal, but I would like to look nice. Do you have any suggestions for what would look appropriate, but fun?

I love being invited to casual weddings because it’s a great chance to wear fun fashion that doesn’t seem to have a proper place anywhere else in Real Life. As soon as I read your question I thought of maxi dresses.

Maxi dress via Mossimo for Target

Last summer I had a cotton maxi dress from Target that was a bright coral and white print. Being cotton, it was comfortable and also very versatile. I wore it to many an event with flat sandals and a long strand of turquoise beads; I even would wear it sans jewelry with a pair of flip flops for hanging out with friends. A plus to maxi dresses is that you keep your legs protected from the sun and from mosquitoes, and it’s easier to sit on the ground and not be exposed.

A maxi dress in a gauzy or cotton fabric would be festive choice for these weddings. To not try to overshadow the bride, keep accessories very simple and pair with flat sandals. Wearing your hair down and casual will make it feel more beachy and less bridesmaid.

Dear Allie,

I am a bridesmaid in a wedding this summer – it’s a destination wedding on the beach. We are allowed to wear anything we want as long as it’s black. Do you have any ideas on what would travel well, be comfortable in the heat, and would work with shoes that won’t sink into the sand? Thanks so much! – Dana

When I read your question I thought of what I wore to my friend’s wedding in November ’09. It was a spaghetti strap black maxi dress from Calvin Klein, and I paired it with big gold earrings, a pile of gold bangle bracelets, and wore flat gold sandals and my hair loose at my shoulders. When I put together the outfit, I thought about how great it would be for a tropical vacation.

Maxi dress via Ann Taylor LOFT

A maxi dress is a great choice for a beach wedding because you don’t have to worry about the breeze taking your skirt for a ride, and it makes it easier to sit in the sand or a low chair without feeling exposed. With a long skirt, you also don’t have to worry about a tall shoe to balance out the dress.

Matte jersey is a fabulous fabric for travel as that it doesn’t wrinkle, packs up small, and is easy to spot clean with a Tide to Go pen (or a little Ivory soap and then an overnight air dry). Matte jersey is also figure flattering – it has stretch but doesn’t cling to curves. It can be found at most any pricepoint and retailer – I have matte jersey dresses from Old Navy and Target, and found my black maxi dress at Macy’s on sale for less than $100.

If you pair with dressier sandals and jewelry, a dress of this fabric can easily go from casual to formal. However, keep the location in mind and don’t try to get too stuffy with heavy statement necklaces, formal updos, or lots of makeup. Embrace the beach and consider beaded chandelier earrings, stacks of bangles, or longer pendant necklaces and let the shore breeze have its way with your hair!

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

What to Wear: Dreading a Semi Formal Summer Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

Semi Formal Plus Size Dresses Under $100

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

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

Shop Plus Size Semi Formal Dresses:

Outdoor Wedding-Friendly Shoes Under $60

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

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

Shop Flat and Wedge Semiformal Footwear:

Accessories to Complete the Semi Formal Look

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

Shop Budget Friendly Semiformal Jewelry:

Shop Budget Friendly Semiformal Bags:

Ask Allie: Plus Size Wedding Guest Dresses

All my friends are getting married, I have six weddings already that I know I am or will be invited to and I know more are coming. I’m single and haven’t had a boyfriend in two years and on top of that I’m a size 20 while all my friends are tiny. I don’t want to go to these weddings and get stuck at the single people table and be the sad lonely fat girl but I know I need to go. Any advice on what to wear to boost my confidence?

It doesn’t matter what you wear to these weddings, if you feel you are a lonely fat girl and sit at that singles table looking sad you will look like a sad lonely fat girl. The best way to get through these weddings and life in general is to have a blast. When you live life completely it shows; it alters your face, your posture, your energy. So put on your favorite lipstick, slip on some heels (and a pair of ballet slippers tucked into your purse for the end of the night), and rock your fabulous self in a dress that is as full of life and joy and you and the event you are attending.

My personal recommendation is to steer clear of black unless it is a defining factor in your personal style. While black is versatile and acceptable at most American weddings these days, it can have one think you’re uncomfortable in your skin or depressed. Many choose black because they feel it looks slimming but it’s not going to make you look drastically different and can give the wrong impression. On the other hand, don’t wear anything too crazy flamboyant; the day isn’t about you and you can still look fun and vivacious without too much bling or cleavage. A bit of shape is far more flattering to the figure than a loose tent and shows you know style and you know your body. And I can’t stress this enough – don’t be afraid to spend money on this dress. If you choose wisely and it’s not the same exact crowd at every event, you can wear it several times over the wedding season and also bring it out for holiday parties. The harsh truth is those of us who are larger or softer need to take more care with our purchases. Buy quality pieces, invest in tailoring for a custom fit. We’re not built like mannequins and cheap fabric, unlined garments, and poor fit can make us look bigger and sloppy. If between sizes, go up a size and then hit your local bridal boutique to find someone to tailor it to a custom fit. A few dresses that have caught my eye and I would think perfect for weddings:

plus size wedding guest dresses

  1. Calvin Klein Ruffle Front Sheath Dress: The chartreuse color is phenomenal; if you think you’re too fair to wear such a color look up pictures of pale fashionistas like Nicole Kidman who have rocked this hue. Pair with hot pink or tomato red lips and nude heels, with a statement shoe in another bold color and lots of lashes, or go glam with metallic heels and sparkly earrings. The fabric is the type that can dress up and down with ease and work all seasons of the year.
  2. ASOS CURVE Premium Placed Nautical Mesh Insert Dress: I love the bold pattern of this dress, the flippy skirt, and the fresh color combination that would be so nice at an outdoor wedding. Let the dress make the statement with nude shoes and simple accessories, or pump up the look with a bold pout and shoes. No need to stick to a nautical choice of red; orange, pink, Kelly green, and yellow would all look fantastic with this frock.
  3. Carmen Marc Valvo Floral Jacquard Cocktail Dress: This is an elegant dress that will make a statement without shouting. Keep it simple with nude or soft metallic heels, make it more formal with a rhinestone belt, or add a pop of color with D’orsay heels or a skinny belt in a signature shade (hot pink would be awesome). This dress is also available via Rent the Runway.
  4. Adrianna Papell Gardenia Dress: Tailored without being tight, a pleated skirt that is begging you to be twirled on the dancefloor, and a bunch of customer reviews stating this dress is perfect for a wedding makes this dress a winner. Wear as-is with nude or soft metallic shoes or add a bit of shine with a sparkly or metallic skinny belt.
  5. MYNT 1792 Sequin Stretch Asymmetrical Drape Dress: Don’t let the description fool you, these tiny sequins give more of a look of liquid metal than Studio 54. The silver is surprisingly versatile and can be dressed up and down with a change of makeup, hair, and accessories. In the winter wear with a black clutch and shoes; come spring choose a nude shoe to lengthen the leg and let the dress steal the spotlight.
  6. Little Mistress Floral Placement Skater Dress: This sweet dress is feminine, flirty, and figure flattering. Perfect for a spring wedding, you can also pair with a cardigan and wear to the office. Don’t be afraid to switch out the belt for one that better fits your personal style or to dress up and down the frock.
  7. Marina Rinaldi Plissé-Panel Dress: I know, more chartreuse! But it’s a seriously versatile color. Wear this dress with the included gray ribbon, switch out for a metallic or sparkly belt, or choose a belt or sash in a bold contrast color like cobalt, orange, or hot pink. The cut of this dress is also very flexible if you’re like me and may gain or lose weight throughout the year.
  8. ASOS CURVE Hitchcock Pencil Dress: Va-va-va-voom! This dress will surely make a statement, and the color makes sure you won’t blend in with all the other frocks on the dancefloor. Adjustable straps give a better fit, and the dark green works year round. Wear in the warmer months with nude or soft metallic, but bring the dress back out this winter and pair with black or sparkle for holiday fetes.

If you are unable to spend for a dress, consider renting.

  • You all know I am a fan of Gwynnie Bee – they are like Netflix for fashion. For a monthly fee you can rent everything from jeans to blazers to sweaters to dresses for work or play. The customer reviews help you decide which piece will work best for your figure and personal style, and you can send back a piece quickly in the pre-labeled shipping bag and get a new one from Gwynnie Bee in a jiffy.
  • Another option is Rent the Runway who now offers plus sizes. This is an especially great option if you’re attending a more formal wedding and don’t want to drop hundreds on a gown you’ll likely never wear again. However, Rent the Runway has dresses appropriate for weddings of all formality and the rental price is that of a cheaper dress that may not make as great of a statement. With stylist notes and plenty of customer reviews with photos, you can get a good feel of what dress would be perfect for your occasion.

Ask Allie: How to Dress for a Wedding Without a Dress Code

I have a wedding to go, and ever since the wedding where I dressed fancier than the bride (I wore a simple velvet sheath!) I have a horror of wearing the wrong thing. The wedding is at 4, with cocktails, dinner, and reception to follow, all at the same venue, an “event center.” Essentially a ballroom. I did email the bride and she just said “We don’t really have a dress code. Not black tie but not sweats and a t-shirt. Well, there’s a LOT in between there. Jersey maxidress? Sparkly mini? My feet are likely to be swollen so I’m leaning toward something I can wear flat sandals with, but other than that I’m kind of at a loss what to wear.

Event planners and brides to be… please understand that a dress code isn’t snooty or pretentious, it’s a helpful guide for loved ones who want to ensure your event is great. A specified dress code will reduce stress on your guests and ensure you don’t end up with anyone in black tie or sweats and a tee shirt!

That being said, this is the type of event where I pull out my black crepe sheath dress. Sleeveless, simple neckline, skims the figure, hits the knees; it’s simple and easy to dress up or down. For a wedding that starts at 4pm you can accessorize a dress in a multitude of ways to make it look festive yet appropriate for a crowd in khakis or a dancefloor full of sequins.  Of course, the dress does not have to be black, but it’s a color you often already have in your closet.

You mentioned the desire to wear flat sandals, and for a wedding at an event center I’d keep flat sandals to a midi to maxi length dress or skirt. While traditional jersey maxi dresses would likely be too casual for a wedding at this hour, one in matte jersey or with a chiffon overlay would be perfect and just as easy to fit in with a more casual or more dressy crowd.  Again, black is not the only color; a bright or pastel hue would be quite festive and appropriate for an August wedding.

Both types of dresses are extremely versatile. A lined sheath in crepe, triacetate, silk, or a blend can be worn to work, dressed up for a cocktail party with strappy heels and sparkly jewelry, or made more casual with nude pumps and wood accessories (see my post on how to style a black sheath four ways). A matte jersey or chiffon maxi dress can also lead multiple lives; I wore a black matte jersey maxi as the matron of honor at a relatively formal wedding, then wore to a garden wedding with gold flat sandals and even wore to a bridal shower with brown sandals and wood and leather jewelry. Not only that, these fabrics are seasonless making a dress purchased in the summer wearable for holiday parties on your event calendar!

What to Wear to a Spring or Summer Wedding

The colder months are easy for most any affair – whip out your little black dress and heels and you’re good to go. However once the weather gets warmer, an LBD can sometimes seem too harsh or somber, especially for happy events like weddings.

That being said, with the extensive array of dress styles and cuts available, it can be hard to know what is appropriate for a wedding, and what is not. While different cultures and religions have specific beliefs on colors and how much skin to show (I always recommend contacting a member of the wedding party of extended family if you are unsure about the couple’s traditions and sartorial expectations), below are some ideas that can be worn to most weddings and be seen as stylish yet appropriate.

The Daytime Wedding
I used to advise women that for a daytime wedding, wear what you would wear to your house of worship for services. That doesn’t seem to be appropriate anymore as many houses of worship are making their dress codes more casual to make the experience more welcoming to all folks. Even I grew up attending church services in jeans and sneakers. So I recommend wearing a dress, suit, or pantsuit that is festive yet has a conservative touch. Skirts that end around the knee, no plunging necklines, steer clear of backless or cutouts. Fitted is fine, skin-tight is not. Consider fabric – sequins and satin are better for evening and more formal of affairs. This is a happy occasion so go ahead and wear cheery colors and prints.

This green dress is from Muse Apparel; I own it and think it’s even more lovely in person. The jade color is cheery without being overwhelming, the ponte fabric has a slight sheen making it more dressy, and the fun flower appliqué of plastic and gems catches the light without having you resemble a disco ball. Pair with nude heels for an elegant yet fun look. The tan floral dress is from Eliza J, a brand that I find flattering and budget-friendly. While the main color is subdued, the coral bow at the waist and the flirty high-low hem makes the dress festive and fun. Pair with some strappy heels and a great bracelet to finish the look.
Daytime weddings is when you can carry off a bold print – this poppy print dress from Bespoke is cheeky without being too extreme; make it more subtle with nude pumps or amp up the fun with some retro-inspired heels. A daytime wedding is a great time to try a trend, be it a Pantone-approved color of the year, lace, or peplum. This dress from Donna Morgan incorporates all three trends into one chic yet festive frock. With a demure hem length and full back, the dress doesn’t veer into Fashion Victimville; keep it subtle with neutral shoes or add an extra punch with pumps in a contrast color.

The Evening Wedding
Evening weddings can be tricky – are you dressed up enough? Too much? A safe bet is to dress in cocktail attire – a daytime wedding sort dress but made of a dressier fabric like lace, silk, or beading. While a little black dress is a perfect choice, feel free to wear a dressy suit or a frock in a cheerful color. Current trends make hemlines anywhere from just above the knee to the ground appropriate, but unless the invitation specifies Black Tie, don’t make your maxi a formal gown, sequined, beaded or otherwise overly dressy.

The blue dress from Kiyonna is a great way to show a little skin while still being tasteful. Pair with nude or metallic dressy heels to amp up the evening look; a sparkly accessory will be perfect for an after-hours affair. The pink gown from Donna Morgan is surprisingly versatile – with flat metallic sandals it could be worn to a destination wedding; with silk heels and a sparkly bracelet it’s perfect for an evening affair and the bright color keeps it from looking too Black Tie. The peach flapper-inspired dress from Simply Be is the type that could be worn for a wedding with nude or metallic shoes, pair with more casual shoes for a night out, or even be worn with a black blazer and tights come winter. With the beading on the dress, keep the rest of your accessories to a minimum and consider a more dramatic eye to add a formal flair. The magenta dress from Kate Spade is a feminine and classic silhouette yet the fabric makes it evening-appropriate. The accessories is what can take this dress from day to evening to even a more formal wedding.

The Destination/Beachside Wedding
Such weddings are usually far more casual because of the sand and wind factor. It’s hard to walk down to the shore in a satin pencil skirt and 3” heels. However, the casual environment doesn’t give one permission to show up in a Hawaiian shirt and cargo shorts. A dress of matte jersey, silk, or a refined cotton or knit is a great choice because it will be flexible and comfortable in the heat. I specifically featured longer dresses for such a wedding because of the tropical breezes during such an event; no one wants to be worrying about doing a Marilyn in the middle of the vows, and a longer dress also provides modesty if you end up sitting on the sand or on blankets in a field. Longer dresses can seem more formal, so look for styles that do not graze the ground, are of more relaxed fabrics, and have a celebratory color or print.

I love this dress from French Connection; while I am not a big fan of strapless for weddings I think this one works because the color and fabric is more demure and the bodice quite structured. This is also a dress you could wear again – pair with tan sandals and tie a Western-inspired denim shirt over it for a party or barbecue back home. The colorblocked chiffon maxi from Calvin Klein is cheery, modern, and easy to personalize. Pair with gold sandals and accessories, or switch out the belt for a brown leather one and have an armful of wood and beaded bangles. Come cooler months, pair with a denim jacket for a cool outfit for a night out on the town. The turquoise dress from Eileen Fisher is simple elegance; Eileen Fisher is expert at draping and bias cuts and this dress is no exception. I’d style in a similar manner with a beaded necklace and flat-bottomed sandals, or it can be glammed up with a bold silver necklace and gladiators. The watercolor-inspired dress from Ivy & Blu for Maggy Boutique is romantic, tropical, and very on trend with the unique hemline. With such a pattern, you can keep accessories to a minimum. If you want to switch up the look, consider replacing the self belt with a metallic one or a skinny patent belt in a color that’s part of the print.

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Wedding Weekend!

This past weekend my dear dear friend Shelly got married and I was her Matron of Honor! It was a fun-filled couple of days and Shelly was a gorgeous bride!

I took off work Thursday and Friday because I have been very tired and busy and wanted to be sure I could properly attend to my Matron of Honor duties AND have fun while doing it. Luckily those days were slow at work so Mr. Bossman was happy to let me take some PTO and get some R&R! Needless to say, no pictures from those days. I did exciting things like buy groceries, get my shoes for the wedding reheeled, get a brow wax and pedicure (OPI’s I’m Not Really a Waitress), watch Emerson log roll her way from the living room to the dining room (no crawling yet but she is quite mobile with her DIY movement!).

Friday was the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. I wore a red print matte jersey dress from Max Studio (originally $118 but I got for $24 from Marshall’s) with a stretchy belt with black patent buckle that is from Ann Taylor, and my black patent T-strap heels from Sofft (BTW saw these in red at Marshall’s when I visited this past week).

I knew I needed my hair slightly dirty for the next day to hold my Wedding Day ‘Do, so I washed and conditioned it, added some Bumble & Bumble Styling Crème and dried it upside down. Then I took big sections into my curling iron to create soft waves. I finished it with a small bit of Jonathan Silky Dirt.

Makeup was Philosophy The Present, Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage in SC-2, Estee Lauder Nutritious mineral foundation in Intensity 3.0, Revlon ColorStay shadow quad in Neutral Khakis (the ivory in inner corners and a tough of khaki on the lids), their ColorStay lipcolor in Rich Raisin (my go-to red color), Cover Girl LashBlast mascara in Rich Black and Maybelline UltraLiner in Black.

This was a great look if we didn’t have an outdoor rehearsal. Dag, it was HOT! On top of that, my husband was taking pictures at it and I was being assistant so I was dashing to and fro getting people organized while taking care of Emerson. Needless to say by the end of the rehearsal my hair was a sweaty, scraggly mess and my makeup was almost completely gone (except for that amazing Maybelline UltraLiner!). We headed to the restaurant for dinner, and I headed straight to the bathroom where I attempted to comb my hair with a tiny claw clip (forgot my Sephora detangling comb which is usually a purse staple) and I used Urban Decay De-Slick and a fresh swipe of lipcolor to fix my face. This picture is from the rehearsal dinner – the Bride and I sharing Malibus and Sprites – the drink we shared the night we first met.

Emerson was getting slightly fussy because it was her bedtime so we headed home a bit earlier than the rest of the crowd. However it was a nice party – the Groom’s Mom and Step Dad hosted a lovely meal and fun time!

The next day I headed to the Bride’s hotel suite around 11am. We hung out, sipped champagne and got our ducks in a row until the hairdresser/makeup artist arrived. The bride and I had our hair and makeup done, she also styled the Flower Girl’s hair and helped apply lashes on the Mother of the Groom. I realized I forgot my necklace at home so my sister and husband arrived and brought it before heading to the ceremony. Whoops!

The Bride let me choose my own dress, and I found a lovely black matte jersey number from Calvin Klein at Macy’s. Unfortunately it seems this dress is no longer available anywhere for purchase; too bad because it’s such a cool style that can easily be dressed up and down (and it also came in blue). Also to be able to wear matte jersey is awesome – so comfy, great drape and easy to launder and alter! I had the straps shortened, the bodice tacked so I didn’t look like Pam Anderson on the Big Day, and a couple inches taken off the bottom.

I truly think I will be able to wear this dress again – I envision it with a bunch of gold bangle bracelets and some gladiator sandals. However for this day I only wore a necklace – my black Ann Taylor statement necklace. I had a few necklaces to choose from, including a current AT necklace that has pave and pearl baubles from a chain… but this necklace ended up giving the best effect (and didn’t make me look like Matronly of Honor). For shoes I wore my Banana Republic strappy kitten heels because it was an outdoor ceremony and I didn’t want spikes digging into the grass. Good thing also as that I had to walk down a long flight of stairs to get to the ceremony. Kick-step, kick-step kept me from tripping over my dress!

The lovely KC Felton did our hair and makeup – and yes, I got to wear individual lashes. I SUCK at applying false lashes myself so it was a very fun treat! All the makeup was MAC (except the mascara which was Cover Girl LashBlast!) and it did a great job at staying in place through the entire evening.
The wedding was AMAZING. My friend Shelly has magnificent taste and really planned a gorgeous affair. It was an outdoor ceremony in the most picturesque setting, and a reception in a wooden lodge with a large deck and stone fireplace. Her wedding was black and white with touches of spring green (hydrangeas, dendrobium orchids, etc.) which was a perfect accent to the natural setting. She looked amazing in a dress by Mikaella.

The bride and groom’s gift to me was a hotel room for the evening. Omigoodness, the first night with both parents away from Emerson! We had our great friends Jamie & Mike watch Emerson until my mom left the wedding – then she stayed at our house overnight with E. This meant we could party until the end of the affair and ALSO head out to the afterparty at a nearby bar! Here’s a picture of us parents getting wild and crazy and having more than one drink thanks to having a limo cart us around and drop us off at the hotel afterwards!

The wedding was amazing – everyone had so much fun and the couple was so cute. I adore my friend Shelly and she found a phenomenal man in Mike. They are great friends, a great couple, and I wish them a lifetime of happiness!

The next day we headed right home and missed the wedding brunch because we couldn’t stay away from Emerson any longer. She was awesome with her babysitters and when we arrived she was napping in her Pack and Play. Luckily she was feeling drowsy and snuggly that day so she happily napped with us while we recovered from the previous evening.

Sunday afternoon we went to our friend Gail’s house for her annual Labor Day Tiki Party. We took Emerson, and many other couples had their little ones. I don’t have any pictures from this day, but I wore a recently purchased dress from Ann Taylor Loft with black flip flops, a long silver bead necklace from H&M and my hair naturally curly/frizzy. Very simple makeup, sort of a casual/hippie/beachy look.

My husband was feeling like a party animal but after all the wedding hullabaloo and being sick the week prior, I headed home with E around 7pm. We took a bath, read a book or two and fell asleep within an hour. My husband was going to meet up with my sister and friends at the town fair, but it began to rain so he headed home. I got up to hang with him for a bit, but we both retreated to bed by 11pm.

Monday, my mom, her boyfriend and my sister started off early for the town’s Labor Day parade. Our town’s color is green so I wore a green short-sleeved sweater from Banana Republic with my Gap Essential jeans. Hair was second-day curly/frizzy/air-dry after the bath and the humid/rainy weather didn’t help things. This is a picture of me with Emerson at the parade.

Emerson was QUITE the hit at the parade, all the politicians wanted to hold her and get their picture with them! She loved the bagpipers best and was having a blast for almost the entire parade. She started to get a bit cranky/hungry toward the end so we headed back to my house where my husband had a big breakfast ready for us. The rest of Monday was spent at home – just me, Hubby and E.

All in all, quite a fantastic weekend!

Saturday Wedding

Wedding starting at 6pm. Catholic church ceremony, though no full mass. Reception at a country club, but a casual one. Knowing the couple and the crowd, I figured a cotton sundress was totally appropriate.

Black and white print sundress from Adriana Appell. It’s hard to see in the pictures, but the straps have two rings. My plan was to wear a clear strap or strapless bra so bra straps didn’t show through the rings. Got home and found that my strapless and clear strapped bras wer both too high-cut for the dress and they showed. I chose instead a black knit bra from Donna Karan that has very thin cotton black straps – looks like spaghetti straps, not at all lingerie-like. I am TOTALLY against the bra strap showing, but I was in a bit of a pinch and I din’t think it was too obvious. My hubby didn’t even notice and he is always the first to notice things like exposed bra straps and panty lines.

Anyway, back to the outfit. For coverup, I have a black knit cocoon-like shrug from Target. Enough to keep me decent in the church and ward off chill. On the feet were the well-worn black leather thong heels from Mossimo. Silver hoops and silver bangle.

Hair was allowed to air dry on the drive to the mall to buy this dress, then when home I curled the whole thing with hot rollers and then brushed out for a side-swept sexy wavy look with body.

Makeup was Bare Minerals foundation, concealer and Warmth. On eyes was The Body Shop’s shadow in Granite, touch of Soft Black in the crease and along the lash line and a thin line of Maybelline’s Ultra Liner in black ont he top lash line. On lips was Sally Hansen’s Diamond Lipcolor in Royal Romance.

Ask Allie: Ensuring Proper Dress Code at a Wedding

I am getting married in October in the early afternoon. Where I am from is a very casual place–people routinely wear jeans to church and a nice outfit for a woman often includes khaki pants. How do I kindly tell people that I expect them to dress up? I’m not talking black tie–just dresses for ladies and collared shirts/ties for gentlemen. Is this totally bridezilla of me?

My own wedding started at 7pm and took place at an historic mansion. I made the assumption that folks would understand it was a nice affair and dress the part. However, I had some show in jeans and casual pants. At the time I freaked out, I was short on food and high on champagne and the idea of having a gentleman in a NASCAR jacket and Levi’s in my pictures made me think my wedding was positively ruined. Luckily a loved one gave me some food for my belly as well as some perspective. When I came back from my honeymoon and looked at my pictures, I saw these people in these casual outfits, but I also saw the love on their faces as we walked the recessional, officially husband and wife.

Recently, we attended a wedding that had a specific dress code. I had never heard of the specific term and Googled it to know what to wear. We ended up as some of the most dressed up people at the event and felt a bit awkward, even when a fellow dressed-up guest whispered to me that we were some of the only couples who adhered to the dress code.

What’s the point of my anecdotes? Two things – one, your wedding will not be ruined by guests in jeans and sneakers, and two – even when you request a certain dress code, people won’t necessarily adhere to or understand it.

Mention Dress Code on the Invitation
Etiquette states that you may mention the dress code for your wedding in small letters in the lower right-hand corner of your invitation. When doing so, choose a description that is standard and familiar to most. For a daytime wedding, semi-formal is considered a dressy afternoon dress or pantsuit for women; dark suit or dark blazer and trousers for men.

Mention Dress Code on a Wedding Website
Another way to encourage dress code in a subtle manner is to have a wedding website. Here, you can go into more detail, even with a FAQ page about parking, local hotels, favorite tourist attractions in the area, and dress code for the wedding. I found this line from a post on Offbeat Bride regarding dress code adherence and found it firm yet friendly, “Semi-formal attire is requested. You know us – we’re not uptight. We only ask that you keep it classy for the Ceremony.” This way you’re letting your loved ones know their presence is what is most important, but to dress in a semi-formal manner is showing class and respect for the actual purpose of the Big Day.  A wedding website is often free with registry or wedding message board sites; a simple free WordPress or Blogger blog can also accomplish this and be customized to fit the style of your wedding.

In Closing…
My final suggestions? For every glass of champagne have an hors d’oeurve on your wedding day, and for every freak out (for there will be freak outs on things far worse than dress code), look around at all those lovely faces of people who are so happy for you two and love you so much. No matter what you do, someone will dress inappropriately and something will go wrong, but focusing on the fun and love will keep you balanced (and so will the hors d’oeurves!).

P.S. Long after the wedding, I found out that that guy in the Levi’s and NASCAR jacket wore that outfit because Karl gave him that jacket as a present. Karl won it at work and wasn’t into NASCAR but knew this gentleman was a fan. What I initially saw as clueless was one of the most respectful and sweet outfits worn at the entire affair. 

P.P.S. You are not being bridezilla, you are being a normal bride who wants her wedding to be fabulous! I hope my tips can help, and I hope you have the wedding you desire. Best wishes!

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Ask Allie: I’m a Guest at a Wedding, What Should I Wear?

Could you please make some suggestions for appropriate guest attire for a wedding? I have a few this summer and fall and have no idea what to wear. Also, is black appropriate for a wedding? Thanks!


Each year I buy myself a Little Black Dress (LBD) to have on hand for such events. For the past couple of years, it has been a sleeveless matte jersey dress from Ann Taylor with a seamed waist and surplice neckline. I pair it with long pearls and D’Orsay heels for an evening wedding at a hotel ballroom, with gold heels and chandelier earrings for one at an historic mansion, with pink heeled sandals and a wrist of bangles for a day affair in a garden, with a colorful silk shawl and pumps for a church ceremony, with metallic flat sandals and big hoop earrings for a ceremony on the beach. The key is to find a versatile fabric – silk or a silk blend, matte jersey, crepe, gabardine are all fabrics that can dress up or down with ease. A classic sheath is a great choice, I also like the silhouette of this dress from Lands’ End and this dress from Kate Spade.

Black has become acceptable for MOST weddings, however some are very traditional or religious and find black to still be inappropriate.  If you believe the couple or their family to be traditional or religious, there’s no harm in contacting a member of the wedding party or a close relative to the bride or groom and ask their opinion.

My friend is having a destination wedding in Aruba this fall and I have no clue what to wear. It will be on the beach but she’s having six bridesmaids and is wearing a ballgown with a veil. Do I dress for the location or the dressiness of the bride?


Both? While the wedding party will be in formal attire, I can bet that there will be a few in too-casual attire. It’s best to find something that hovers nicely in the middle; for such an event, I would suggest a maxi dress. A maxi can look dressier, but it’s also beach-friendly. If you choose a fabric like matte jersey, it will be ready to wear straight from the suitcase, won’t get soggy if your hem touches the surf, won’t have sand cling to it, and you can look as glamorous as the bride but still fit in with everyone else who decided that destination = Hawaiian shirts and shorts. Consider this the NSLBD (Not So Little Black Dress). I have a black matte jersey maxi dress from Calvin Klein I wore when I was Matron of Honor at my best friend’s elegant outdoor wedding. A few months later I wore it with metallic flat sandals and dangly earrings to another friend’s outdoor garden wedding in Charleston. I will be attending a destination wedding in Key West later this year and am seriously considering the same dress for the event.


Such a dress does not have to be black, but a deeper shade will be more versatile and can pass for being formal more easily than a pastel or bright. This dress from Donna Morgan would be a great choice, as would this one from BCBGMAXAZRIA.

I’m 51 years old and about the same size and shape as you are. I will be attending a casual “country wedding” in early September and have no idea what to wear. I live in California and it’s typically blazing hot at that time of year. I’ve been told the wedding is BBQish with S’mores for dessert instead of cake. Any creative ideas you have would be much appreciated.


That sounds like such a fun wedding! However, I bet the majority of the guest list will be just as confused on the dress code as you. If I were attending, I would wear a cotton sundress or skirt with a knit top and wedge or flat sandals so I wouldn’t sink into the grass. Since it’s outside and you can’t be sure of the In fact, since it is a theme wedding, feel free to don chambray, tie a western shirt over a sundress, or pair your frock with cowboy boots. This is the type of affair where the classic LBD is surprisingly NOT appropriate.

My coworker is getting married this summer and I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO WEAR! He’s very colorful and flamboyant and his husband to be is just as wild and fun. I know there will be hats and masks for us to wear and a live band and he mentioned he’s spending a lot on lighting for a dancefloor. I have never been to a wedding like this and I don’t think my navy silk dress will be right. What do I wear so I look fun but also look like a respectful wedding guest and still look like myself?

Honestly, you could wear that navy dress if you like – it sounds respectful and like something you feel comfortable in. You could jazz it up with the addition of brighter lipstick, a fun necklace or heels, or you could just go as-is and have a blast on that well-lit dance floor. I promise you, the couple will not care what you are wearing – as long as it doesn’t upstage them they will be thrilled just for your attendance and well-wishes.


Or, if you desire (and your budget allows), you can use this opportunity to have a bit of fun with fashion. Kick it up with a festive bright color, a few more baubles, a pair of statement heels. This is the type of affair where you could rock that fascinator that has been collecting dust since Kate & William’s wedding, wear those hot pink sequined pumps from New Year’s Eve, or try out false lashes. You don’t want to upstage the couple or their wedding party, but a bit of color and whimsy would be well appreciated at such an event and wouldn’t be seen as disrespectful.


Do know that whimsy and flamboyance doesn’t mean sexy or slutty. I never feel it is appropriate, no matter how alternative or creative the wedding, to wear skintight, super low-cut, or super short clothing. A bodycon dress is the equivalent of wearing white to a wedding – it is disrespectful and losing sight of the point of the event – the couple. You are a guest, a person privileged to attend and help celebrate this union and not the main event.

For more wedding attire advice, check out:

All photos from Offbeat Bride – a fabulous site for less-than-traditional weddings

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

Throwback Thursday: Wedding Edition

I can’t believe that in June, Karl and I will have been married nine years. Nine years! Where does the time go? I’ve been thinking about our wedding a lot since the cicadas are set to return this summer and they were here for our wedding. I decided to take a walk down wedding dress memory lane for today’s Throwback Thursday.

Though I South Beached most of my engagement, I was still a size 10/12, which makes dress shopping hard. Most boutiques only carry sample sizes, which are in the single digits; no matter how many binder clips they use to attach that dress to your bra, you can’t get a good feeling for how it will actually look when the dress is several sizes smaller than you need. So my first stop in dress shopping was David’s Bridal, where I knew they would have all the popular silhouettes and also have many dresses in my size. I went, and thought I found THE ONE on the first visit. Came back a second time, took pictures and realized that while the dress did flatter, it wasn’t quite right. However, that trip to David’s helped me narrow down silhouettes and know what styles flattered my figure and fit my sense of style.

I ended up with a very similar gown I remember it was called the “Temara.” I tried on at a boutique in Baltimore, but found it for almost half the price online (thank you Bridal Bargains!). It had the a-line skirt and wrapped waist I found flattering on me, but was ivory silk shantung (always been a sucker for shantung) and Swarovski crystals along the top. Lace-up back so alterations were minimal (which was a good thing because I somehow LOST weight on my Bachelorette weekend of debauchery in Dewey Beach). I had my seamstress make my veil, the week before the wedding I decided I HAD to have a tiara and ordered one online. It was small yet sparkly and I must admit I still pull it out from time to time to wear around the house. My shoes were hot pink and found for almost nothing at the now-defunct department store Hecht’s. I went to a Chanel counter to have my makeup done; the artist was going to do my makeup that day but cancelled short notice so I did it myself.

My favorite color was and still is orange. We had orange invitations, orange flowers for the ceremony and centerpieces, the boutiques were predominately orange (with Kermit green flowers to represent my dad Kermit). Tables were named after places we had traveled to as a couple, written on shades of orange and pink paper; that same paper was used for the programs and cardstock in the same shades was used for placecards. We even had an orange signature drink – the Orange Crush that I had enjoyed many times with my friends during our Dewey Beach adventures. I wanted my bridesmaids to wear orange tea-length dresses but they vetoed me and wore a much wearable shade of bronze.

Our wedding was at an historical mansion that was just a few miles from where the two of us grew up. The plan was to have the ceremony outside on the terrace. The cicadas were in full force and we were considering all sorts of ways to deal with them (have catering sweep up the carcasses 10 minutes before people were to arrive, have the minister ask the audience to do a round of applause before we walked out to shush them long enough for the ceremony). Even though the farmer’s almanac said it would be fair weather, it rained all day and evening so the whole event was inside and cicada-free.

Looking back, I think the most dated parts of my look were the cosmetic ones – the shimmery silver shadow, the deep maroon lips, the very slicked-back updo. The dress still holds its own; in fact I went to the David’s Bridal site to look at their current dresses and found almost the same dress that I almost got (though the one I tried had a solid skirt and was a dark ivory/candlelight color). Like wrap dresses, pointed-toe pumps and dark straight jeans – some trends just don’t disappear because they are so figure flattering. I think my wedding dress could be rocked now, though I would likely replace the lace-up back with buttons, wear my hair down and cut down my makeup by a million. And the shoes? Oh I would still totally rock those shoes!

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

How to Create a Formalwear Capsule Wardrobe

Wardrobe Oxygen: Creating a Formalwear Capsule Wardrobe. Buy less and have more style with these tips of creating a collection of pieces to be ready for any formal event.In my dressy fashion emergency kit post, Lisa mentioned in the comments that the post needed an image of a capsule wardrobe. It’s funny, I write about capsule wardrobes all the time, but didn’t even think of this emergency kit being a capsule wardrobe! I decided to elaborate a bit in a separate post as I think this is a brilliant way to be ready for formal and dressy occasions without spending a lot or increasing the size of your closet.

Trends are constantly changing, but they seem to go at a slower pace when it comes to formalwear. This is to your advantage because you can build a formalwear capsule wardrobe slowly, with care, and while perusing sale racks, consignment shops, and thrift stores. I have many pieces in my formalwear capsule wardrobe that date back to my college days or were passed down to me by my mom; there’s something to be said for old Hollywood glamour – it never goes out of fashion!

When it comes to a formalwear capsule wardrobe, the clothing is actually the smallest part. With a good wardrobe of accessories, you can dress for most dressy occasions with a simple not-so little black dress. Sleeveless is the easiest to transition seasons and look dressy, but the dress can any type of sleeve that makes you comfortable. I also mention it’s a not-so little black dress. While the “LBD” is a popular term, few people actually look good in a little black dress. A simple sheath, a fit and flare, a bias-cut column, a long-sleeved shift… all of these are not only figure flattering but more versatile than a little slip of a frock. The importance is fabric; you want a fabric that can dress up nicely without being too memorable or too season-specific. Silk, taffeta, crepe, gabardine, matte jersey, silk jersey, lace overlay… these are all fabrics that can dress up or down with ease. They will catch the light without overwhelming and make for a great canvas for your complete formal work of art.

For those who don’t like dresses, separates can work. A formal pantsuit or female tuxedo, often called Le Smoking, is a chic alternative. I also included a formal skirt, which can really be quite versatile (pair with a crisp white shirt, a cashmere tee, a sequined or beaded shell, a tailored velvet blazer, a silk blouse in a festive color). The point is having a base that is appropriate and versatile. Such a skirt is most versatile at midi length as it can be day or night appropriate. With both the pantsuit and the skirt, you want to err on the side of dressy fabric that is still seasonless. Silk and variations like shantung, moire, and Dupioni, taffeta, and synthetics that give an elegant finish and have a bit of a sheen that picks up the light and looks formal.

Wardrobe Oxygen: How to Create a Formalwear Capsule Wardrobe

Shop the Look: Sheath Dress | Skirt | Silver Necklace | Pink Necklace | Barrettes | Belt | Black Bag | Pink Bag | Nude Bag | Mascara | Lipstick | Rollers | Faux Fur | Pashmina | Black Shoes | Glitter Shoes | Nude Shoes

Once you have your base, you’ll see how your choice of accessories can completely transform your look, giving you outfits for dozens of events all months of the year. In this capsule wardrobe, I show how a collection of accessories can give you a variety of dressy looks with varying levels of festiveness and formalness.

The easiest way to dress up a look is to add some sparkle. A statement necklace is an easy way, and an item that can be found at a multitude of retailers for a variety of pricepoints. This is also a way to add some color if the event is centered around a holiday or theme. Other ways to add sparkle is by adding a skinny belt (I just bought this glitter belt from Talbots to add to my formalwear capsule wardrobe) or hair accessories.

A change in your bag is a quick way to go from desk to drinks with a not-so little black dress. Again, this is a great opportunity to add some sparkle. Don’t be afraid to have fun with your bag; this is a great way to infuse your personal style in a formal look. This is also a great way to add an accent or signature color; for this capsule wardrobe I used pink as the signature color but any hue would work! I suggest having more than one bag; such bags are often found at thrift stores and you can find adorable ones that look elegant at teen accessory stores, especially around prom time. As you see from this capsule, I chose a nude, a black, and a color to have the most versatility in regard to seriousness as well as time of year.

Shop this Capsule Wardrobe:

As I mentioned in my previous post, your choice of outerwear can make or break your formal look. If you own a longer wool coat, that can work just fine (consider purchasing a sparkly brooch and wear it on the lapel). A faux fur is a budget-friendly way to add glam to your ensemble; I have found fabulous faux and vintage furs at thrift stores for very little. In my personal formalwear capsule wardrobe, I have a black hooded faux fur from a thrift store, a Persian lamb I inherited from my semi-grandmother, and a fur stole that has been in my mom’s family for a long while. For warmer weather, a pashmina or stole is a great choice and a wonderful way to add color (or even more sparkle!) to your look. Stoles, wraps, and pashminas are pieces that really don’t go out of style; I have a black crepe wrap with long silk fringe trim and embroidery of peacocks on it that I bought on clearance at Express in the late ‘90s; I still wear it and every time I get compliments and people wondering where I got it and if it is vintage.

Shoes are a way to finish a look, and your shoe is especially important when making a more basic dress look formal. For this capsule, I included the three most popular styles of evening shoes – a D’Orsay heel, classic pump, and a delicate strappy heel. While a heel gives a more formal feel, do not sacrifice health or comfort for fashion. Keep the shoe as delicate as possible (straps, open sides, etc.) and choose a shiny fabric (glitter, silk, satin, rhinestones, even patent leather gives a dressier feel).

Though one doesn’t usually include beauty products in a capsule, such items can provide as much or more impact than a garment. In my original post I discussed the merits of a red lip; for those who are more comfortable with cosmetics may also wish to up the glamour with dramatic lashes. I don’t have the skill or patience to apply false lashes but love DiorShow for a lush look. I’ve also had great success layering mascaras – a coat of lengthening, then a coat of a volumizing formula, then lengthening again. And as mentioned in my original post, a pack of cheapy Velcro rollers from the neighborhood drugstore can give body and soft waves for anything from bobs to waist-length tresses.

Wardrobe Oxygen: How to Create a Formalwear Capsule WardrobeTo show how such accessories can truly create a variety of looks, I took the formal skirt (the one I own I found on Poshmark for only $35, you can see me wearing it in this post) and created four different looks with the same accessories in the formalwear capsule and a variety of different tops. The lighter colored accessories help a black skirt look appropriate in warmer weather, the darker ones add sophistication and a serious tone for more conservative events, and glitter is perfect for a party or happy event.

Creating a formalwear capsule wardrobe will help you be ready for any events that pop up on your calendar, but also save money and achieve more style with less clothing. Shop slow, shop with care. Spend money on quality and tailoring instead of trends when it comes to the base (dress, pantsuit, skirt) and be more fun and trendy when it comes to the accessories since they get less wear. Soon you will have a hardworking and versatile capsule wardrobe for any formal or dressy occasion that comes your way!

Ask Allie: What to Wear as a Wedding Coordinator?

I am starting with great excitement and a bit of fear a new career of being a Day of Wedding Coordinator. I have a figure like yours, but am taller (5’8″) and I have serious foot problems- heels are a no go. I have been wearing a uniform of either [work uniform] or all black for years and I have very little colour in my current closet. Got any advice or help for how to look professional, polished and glam in my new role?

What a fun and exciting change for you! When I was planning my wedding, I befriended a few women who were getting married at the same venue and we did day-of coordination services for one another. After our weddings, one of these women started her own coordination business and I assisted her for many events. Since then, I attend several weddings a year as an assistant to my photographer husband, usually falling back into that day-of coordinator role steaming trains, collecting family for cake cutting, and fixing hair. Sometimes we even sell me as a separate day-of coordinator for weddings he shoots.  I have learned how to create a uniform that is professional yet comfortable.

When I do day of coordination, I really like wearing pantsuits. I find that I can take off the jacket and scramble around in the pants and shell, and then put on the jacket and look pulled together. Also there’s the benefit of many pockets. Though black is a somber color, as you know from your job it’s really great for hiding stains and it always looks professional. I find when coordinating weddings I get pretty dirty – I crawl under tables to plug in lights, pull chairs out of dirty cob-webbed storage sheds, even climb on roofs to secure bunting and wreaths. Black also hides sweat, and sweat is something I do quite a lot when coordinating. To keep a suit from being too somber or too much like the catering staff, I choose a shell that is more interesting and festive, be it a surplice tank in a cheery hue, a ruffled chiffon blouse, or a sequined or beaded tank.  The style of the shell can make the suit look appropriate for a more casual day affair or a swanky Black Tie evening event.

When I don’t do suits, I really like wearing shirt dresses with a fuller skirt. I find as a coordinator or photographer’s assistant, I can’t be running around everywhere with my bag of necessities. I usually tuck my emergency bag (stain removal, safety pins, Tylenol, batteries, sewing kit, that sort of thing) in a hidden corner, but pack my pockets with what I may need immediately. A shirt dress is charming, in cotton it will be comfortable in the heat, in silk or a dressy fabric can look retro-adorable for a more formal affair. Best of all, shirt dresses look cute with flat shoes. With dresses, you can be more creative with the color, but still don’t wear a shockingly bright color or print that draws attention to you. Choose a style that hits middle of the knee or longer so you have coverage when you need to crawl under a table or up a ladder. I like wearing such a dress so much for coordinating, I have considered hiring a seamstress to recreate my favorite full-skirt shirtdress in different fabrics and colors and even a full-length version for more formal weddings.

When it comes to shoes for such a profession, flat or almost flat shoes are a must, even if you don’t have bad feet. You’ll rarely get a chance to sit, and you will be walking on soft wet grass, cobblestone, gravel driveways, and slick dance floors. I have a couple pairs of shoes that are dedicated just to working weddings. One is a very low thick heel T-strap with a retro vibe that looks great with shirtdresses but I can wear for 12 hours without pain. Another is a leather sandal with thick soft straps that never dig and a very low wedge with a grippy rubber bottom that is great for garden weddings. For pantsuits, I have a pair of black flats that have arch support, and a pair of black ankle boots with a very slight wedge and nice grippy sole. The only non-black shoes are my T-straps, and they are patent leather so it’s easy to clean them off after a rainy day. Because I do wear a lot of black, my black shoes sort of disappear with the outfit, don’t show when they are splashed with mud, and can easily be polished and cleaned at home with a tin of Kiwi and a rag. I highly recommend getting shoes comfortably worn in before wedding to an event. Keep in mind your feet will swell with time and standing, so choose shoes that can handle that. While any color can do, it’s important to look professional and successful and to me, that means well-cared for shoes over trendy shoes. And if you wear open toes, you have to have a pedicure to have the whole look complete.

Speaking of beauty products, this is a way for you to look glam, festive, and polished. I choose long-wearing formulas of makeup and waterproof mascara so it stays in place when I don’t have time for touchups, and doesn’t run when I tear up during the vows or on a sweltering hot day. In your supply bag, tuck in powder or blotting sheets for when you can freshen up; I usually choose a tinted balm, gloss, or chubby stick for my lips that I can put on without looking in a mirror. I’ll stick my lip product in my pocket for quick refreshes on the go.

As for hair, I usually start with my hair up because I know it will end up in that manner after a few hours. By starting off that way, I can control how it looks. I often do a purposeful messy updo and hold with plenty of barrettes and humidity-proof hairspray, or else a topknot with sideswept bangs bobby-pinned in place. I then will myself to not fiddle with it so it remains polished throughout the day. Just in case, I usually tuck one of those elastic headbands and an extra hair elastic in my supply bag so if, hypothetically speaking, I have to reattach bunting to a rose-covered trellis and my hair gets caught in the thorns and looks as though I stuck my finger in an electric socket (oh no, this never happened to me, completely hypothetical), I can dash in the bathroom and pull the hair into a ponytail or bun and use the elastic to hold back wisps and bangs.

Though I know you are tired of having a work uniform, you may find having a new version of a uniform may make your days easier. Once you decide what sort of ensemble is perfect for you, consider a variety of that. I used to have three pairs of the same black suiting trousers because they had perfect drape, didn’t cling, and had pockets that could be filled without making me look lumpy. I had the same blazer in black, cream, and gray-blue because it fit perfectly, took well to Tide-to-Go pens, and again had pockets that could hold a lot without making me look lumpy. I’d love to have a wardrobe of shirt dresses with a wide belt (great for holding walkie-talkies), deep pockets, and in a variety of sorbet shades in silk, shantung, and cotton (and a couple black ones too!).

The overall goal is to look like someone who has taste, knows style and current trends, knows how to have a good time but still gets the job done. You don’t want to be a delicate flower who is afraid to get her hands dirty – I have gotten many new jobs from wedding guests who saw I was willing to go the extra mile to ensure perfection and an easy day for the couple. Control, confidence, class (and comfortable shoes!).

Best wishes on your new job!

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Office Maven by Weekday, Wedding Coordinator by Weekend

While wedding planning, I met a lot of women on The Knot. I frequented the message boards for my city, asking for opinions on caterers and bridal salons. Through this I met the women on a message board I used to be a part of and I even created a messag ebaord exclusively for planning and past brides of the site I got married at.

One of the women on the latter of the two boards became a professional wedding coordinator and on occassion needs assistance at weddings. She hires me out. Today I had one at the mansion both she and I were married at.

This wedding today was a day wedding. I wanted to wear a pair of full leg winter white trousers with some beige silk heeled sandals and my cute beaded top, but the coordiantor said that she usually has her team dress in all black and suits.

Um. it was 95 degrees today and 100% humidity. A suit??? But what the boss lady wants, she gets.

I dress in my black Triacetate suit from Ann Taylor. It’s a full leg trouser and a tailored jacket. Under, I wear a bacl matte jersey shell I bought at The Limited back in oh… possibly 1999. It has a slight drape neck and boat neck. So flattering, and has held up so beautifully washing after washing. I wore a strad of black pearls that my sister gave me for Christmas this past year, and the black leather thing heels fromt he night before (these are MAGIC SHOES! I can wear them all day without any foot pain!).

Makeup was subtle – dewy face, mild gloss, nude shadow, hint of liner and lots of mascara. Hair was curly (showered but didn’t wash the hair for a fun beachy curl look that maintains even when sweating).

The jacket was never worn. I hung it in the mansion’s coat closet. It was a million degrees outside, a thousand inside. Running around lighting votives, cleaning up spills, getting the mother of the bride coffee can really make you hot and sweaty! Those that think wedding coordiantion is glamorous should try it. Ha! I get filthy. I sweat my ass off. My feet hurt. My clothes are scuffed (someone has to lie on the patio and drop the gardenias just so in the fountain!), my makeup smeared, my hair eitther limp and damp or a rat’s nest. I am having people snap their fingers for my attention, bitch to me about things out of my control, ask impossible requests and get pissed when I cannot deliver. Mothers freak out, fathers get power hungry and wallet protective. Brides get amnesia, grooms get drunk to squelch their nervousness. Bridesmaids get pissy, groomsmen disappear somewhere to smoke a cigarette. All of this happens right before something like posed photos, cake cutting or the first dance.

This wedding wasn’t bad. She was a women from the message board I created. Sort of bridezilla in planning, but come the day of her wedding, she was calm, understanding and looked beautiful. Her family and wedding party were so nice and cooperative. The guests were pleasant. Almost all her vendors were professional and easy to manage (let’s jsut forget about the DJ). And hey, I left with a nice check from the head coordinator and it was only 4pm! Time to party!


This weekend was pretty busy – Sunday I hosted a bridal shower for my best friend. I hope to have pictures from that event a little later in the week. I wore the same dress that I wore on Thursday, same shoes too. 🙂

Anyway, on to today…
my wardrobe todayAttire:
Old Navy – Two white ribbed tanks layered for opacity, black ponte trousers
Halogen – Teal knit jacket
Ralph Lauren – Silver necklace
Sofft – Black patent T-strap sandals
Silver hoops, cuff and chain with wedding band

Next day, brushed out

Estée Lauder – Double-Wear Light Foundation in Intensity 2.0
Nars – Blush in Orgasm
Pop Beauty – Shadow palette for Brown Eyes – the taupe and celadon blended
Cover Girl – LashBlast mascara in Rich Black
Maybelline – UltraLiner in Black
L’Oreal – Color Juice Stick in Berry Spritzer

It is tres hot and humid in the DC area, but my office is very chilly. Only way i can get away with layers like this! 🙂

Expensive Doesn’t Always Equal Appropriate

I know you readers have my mantra memorized – Quality, not Quantity. Quality can come at any price range, and appropriateness can too. Often times we confuse a high pricetag with formality. Just because a frock is designer (or at a designer price) it does not mean it’s always the best choice for an event.

A couple of years ago I was invited to a black tie wedding at an historical mansion. The bride wore a white veil and train that rivaled Princess Diana’s and the ballroom was filled to the gills with gold Chivari chairs and white roses. This was an event where the classic LBD was verging on too casual, even when paired with the family jewels and elegant heels. The bride only had one attendant, her sister. She gave her permission to pick any dress she desired in any color.

The maid of honor chose to wear a gown by a very hot fashion designer, worn by all the It Girls of Hollywood. The gown was brown and rust-colored silk jersey with a plunging halter neck and back, many straps wrapped around the body and a floor-skimming hem. Gorgeous dress, but far more appropriate for a summer fete in the Hamptons, than a December black tie gala. The dress would have been fab with a few wooden bangles and gold gladiator sandals, but the woman tried to formalize the dress with silk heels and diamonds.

It was expensive, it was gorgeous, it was totally inappropriate for the affair.

My friend works at a very cool ad agency in the city, where many of the women dress for work as though they are going to New York Fashion Week. One is sure to see the latest designer bags, heels and jeans at the water cooler. My friend was in the elevator with one of these well-dressed ladies and complimented her on her new Chloe dress. “Thank you, I wanted to look good for our first meeting with [big government agency who was new client].”

The dress was fabulous, but short, sleeveless and with a low back. Again, great for a Hamptons weekend affair, but not the right look for meeting with a new client who is most likely on the conservative side (I have worked with the government for years and have yet to meet an agency who fully appreciates a dress from Chloe).

I have seen spindly Manolos at beach weddings, strapless silk sundresses at family cookouts at the local park, designer fur vests at general admission all ages concerts, even Balenciaga purses at Bonnaroo – a 4-day music festival on a dusty farm in Tennessee where attendees camp without electricity or proper plumbing.

The point is, when shopping for a specific event, unless it IS New York Fashion Week, price and brand shouldn’t be a factor. Above all else, a look should be appropriate for the location, the audience, the type of affair. Style doesn’t come from a label, so when shopping ignore the trends, ignore the brands, ignore the fact that so-and-so was photographed wearing it to an awards ceremony. Focus on how it fits you, and your life and you will always be in style!

A few tips:
Steer away from bright red or white unless there is a theme specified on the invitation. If the event is after 5pm it is more formal (silk in place of cotton, clutch in place of handbag, crystals and pearls in place of metal and plastic jewelry and absolutely no denim). If the invite states the affair is Black Tie Optional, it doesn’t hurt to contact a member of the couple’s family or bridal party to confirm the level of formality. If all else fails, an elegant black dress of an evening fabric that is knee length or longer, silk heels, a clutch and a sparkly piece of jewelry will always work. For additional tips, visit my post about wedding attire.

Interviews/Client Meetings:
Err on the side of being conservative. For suggestions, visit my post about interview attire.

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

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 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 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 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.

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


Tuesday’s Tip – Making the Clearance Rack Your Friend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Laid Back Cookout on the Shore

We decided to visit our friends on the Shore. The Husband is the best man in their wedding this month, we wanted to go and see if we can help in any way. Really all we did was play volleyball, eat and drink and have a nice jam session with all the musicians in the group (there were nine of us). Just bummed around.

Proper bumming around attire – my retro converse sneakers, vintage jeans from The Gap, a gray vintage tee from CBGB, slightly smoky eye, hair straight and carefree.

Later in the evening I donned a cream cable knit hooded sweater jacket. It gets cold by the water.

Contest: Tolani Scarf from

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck!

Just Call Me Grandma

I don’t mind my age, in fact I really enjoy it. It is far easier to be 36 than it was to be 26 – I love myself more, I care less what others think, and my life seems to have far more enjoyment and far less drama. People are sometimes surprised to find that I am 36, believing that I act and look a few years younger. However, I often catch myself thinking or saying things that make me (and those around me!) realize my age.

At least Ashlee Simpson isn’t heading to the office in this 

Today, I felt like a grandma when I was walking to work. In front of me was a woman who I can only assume was heading to work. It was almost 9am, she was in a part of the city where there aren’t any shops or tourist attractions, she was walking with purpose, she knew her destination.

Her skirt was so short, if she took too large of a step I know I would have caught a glimpse of cheek… and not the cheeks on her face. She had on a white cotton blouse with flutter sleeves, tucked into a tweed skirt that looked vintage. Espadrille wedges, a camel handbag, the entire ensemble was simple, summery, sweet. But the SKIRT!! I couldn’t imagine where she worked being able to wear such a skirt. When I stepped out for lunch, I saw her again with two friends or coworkers; one was in black trousers and a refined knit top in a print, the other in a knee-length shift dress. Her companions were dressed in clothes that were stylish, flattering, work-appropriate. This woman surely stood out for her excellent fashion sense, but the skirt was just as short looking from the front at noon as it was from the back at 9am.

I crossed the street, and ended up at an intersection with another fashionable woman. White crisp shirt, sleeves rolled, collar popped. Adorable cat-eye sunglasses and round-toe pumps with a slight platform. Perfect shade of red stain on her lips, her hair was groomed yet casual. And then… yet again the SKIRT! It was a bubble skirt that ended right below her bum. Unlike the woman in the vintage skirt who was probably in her early ‘20s, this woman seemed to be around my age and though slimmer than I, had similar legs (pale, touches of cellulite, the occasional visible blue vein). As she crossed the street, three times she went to smooth the back of her skirt to ensure she wasn’t exposing more than she desired.

Call me grandma, but I believe such skirt lengths should not see the light of day unless you are at a beachside party or a fashion event. If you are wearing something that forces you to constantly fidget, adjust, and ensure you aren’t exposed it’s not the best attire… especially for the office.  You should dress in a way that makes you feel confident, and flatters what you find to be your best features.

I stepped out for a quick Starbucks run; when I walked out of the coffee shop I practically walked into a group of four folks who seemed to have just left a business lunch at a nearby restaurant. Two men in suits, both holding their jackets, their shirtsleeves rolled. One woman in a knee-length gray crepe wrap dress with snakeskin pumps and a mauve leather handbag. The fourth woman was wearing a khaki linen skirtsuit with nude patent peeptoe pumps and a brown leather purse; she too chose to carry her suit jacket in the heat, exposing the white eyelet strapless bustier that was underneath. A BUSTIER?

A lovely look… though not for the office

Magazines often try to make items seem more versatile than they really are. They show sequined tube tops paired with pinstriped pantsuits for the office, with ballskirts for a wedding, with leather shorts for a night out on the town. The thing is, most people do not work in the sort of environment where such “day to night” pieces really work. I often see women in what is obviously a strapless dress trying to make it corporate with a cardigan, in halter-tops hidden by blazers, backless blouses under wrap sweaters. It doesn’t make the piece look like a 9-5 garment, it just looks like a nightclub top covered up by a corporate one.

Call me grandma, but I believe sexy attire should be left for evenings and weekends. If you have plans after work, then tuck your sequined cami or backless dress in your bag and do a quick change in the office lavatory before heading out. In addition, if you by chance do think an eyelet bustier is an appropriate base layer for your suit, think twice before stripping off your jacket in front of business associates (and the crowd in Dupont Circle at lunchtime).

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook