Search Results for: label/what to wear in winter

Weekend Sale Shopping

Sales, sales, everywhere is sales… yes I am changing the lyrics to this song (which is a cover of this original) but there’s some insanely good sales going on this weekend that I just HAD to share with you.

Old Navy – 25% Off

At Old Navy, get 25% off your entire purchase with the code TREAT. Code is valid until the end of the 18th. A few restrictions: not valid on Everyday Steals, Hot Deals, Clearance (anything ending in $0.97 or $0.99) or Today Only Deals.  I think this top is an office attire staple and I love the variety of colors available; this chunky turtleneck would look great with skinny jeans or ponte pants for the weekend; I love the leather-look pockets on this dress (and love that it comes in regular, tall, and petite!).

Banana Republic – Up to $50 off Full Priced Items

Up to $50 off full price dresses, jackets, sweaters, and more. Note this doesn’t include their Monogram collection or leather jackets. No code necessary, deal through October 18.  I love their Gemma Wrap Dress and this print is something that would look great all seasons of the year; this lace pullover is fantastic – wear over a white shirt for the office and a camisole for a night out!  Other favorites on promotion:

Ann Taylor – 50% Off Tops, Shoes and Accessories

I know, right? 50% off? Get thee shopping, pronto with code STYLE50, this deal ends October 20th.  I think this bird print shirt is amazing, this faux leather pocket cape looks even better in person, and their buttoned-up boiled wool cape is so awesome, I wish I could justify the purchase (for the record, I’ve tried it on, it fits great, I am a Large Petite).

LOFT – 40% Off Tops and Sweaters

No specific date that this is to end and no code needed. Do note it’s not valid on Lou & Grey merchandise, but it IS valid on in-store purchases as well as online.  It does feel that LOFT is constantly having deals, but they’re also constantly getting in new merchandise that doesn’t seem to last long online.  So if you see it and love it, get it while you can!  I’m loving this belted cardigan, and think this variation on the chambray shirt would look modern and fresh with jeans or a midi skirt.  Some other pieces I like that are on promotion:

Lands’ End – 25 to 30% Off

Lands’ End is my go-to for quality yet reasonably priced winter weather gear. They have two promotions going on right now. Get 30% off select “fall essentials” (not sure exactly what that is but seems like a lot) with code LEAF, PIN 9223 through October 20th. But you can also get 25% off all full-priced merchandise with code MAPLE and PIN 1610 through October 21st. I love my packable down vest so much, I’m seriously considering this packable down jacket from Lands’ End and can’t decide between the polka dots or basic black. I’ve also had this Sport Knit skirt in black in my shopping cart for a while and may pull the trigger now that it’s 30% off.  These and a few other pieces I’m admiring:

Madewell – 30% Off Sale Merchandise

Madewell continues to impress, and a 30% off sale prices makes it easy to buy some fab fall and winter fashion. Use code PICKMEUP, which is valid through October 20th.  I love the classic look of their Otis boot, the unique color and slouchy coolness of their Firelight Pullover, and the perfect color and shape of their Berliner Satchel.

J. Crew – 30% Off Sweaters and Outerwear

Code SHOPFALL will give you 30% off at J. Crew through the 19th of October.  Their Majesty Peacoat truly is perfection and a classic piece that will be chic for years to come; their Jackie Cardigan is always a popular piece and nice to get on sale; and I am loving the pale lavender shade and the cool size zips of this lambswool sweater.

J. Crew Factory – 40-50% off Outerwear and an Additional 30% Off Clearance Merchandise

One of my favorite stores for great style at great prices; 30% off clearance makes it even nicer! Use code YAY30 through the October 19th to save.  As for the deal on outwear and cold-weather accessories, no code is needed.  Some of my favorites like this camo tee (imagine it with something dressy like a sequined or lace pencil skirt or under a denim jacket), this adorable flared leather skirt in black or brown, and this pleated maxi which I own and adore.  As for outerwear, I love the color and details of this coat, find this long hooded belted puffer to be something any city commuter would love, and think the price is nice on these leather tech gloves.

Any sales I missed?  Share them in the comments!

Shop My Closet – On Poshmark!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gift Guide: Cold Weather Accessories for Him [Sponsored]

Holiday Gift Guide: The best cold weather accessories for the guy in your life via Wardrobe OxygenEvery year, my mom, sister, and I exchange emails of what we and our loved ones want for Christmas. We share far more than one could purchase; mix links to specific items with general ideas (you can always make me happy with a gift of a funky dish towel or cloth napkins) so there is still an element of surprise. Last weekend I was sitting on the couch crafting this annual email and I asked Karl what he wanted.

“Gift cards, a subscription to National Geographic, and gloves.”

Every year my mom gives Karl a subscription to National Geographic and we’re not a gift card for Christmas family. As for gloves, Karl is with gloves the way I am with dish towels and cloth napkins: he can’t get enough and he loves variety. I don’t think you can go wrong with a gold weather accessory when buying a gift for a man in your life. It’s practical yet personal. It appeals to the guy who doesn’t like gifts, the guy who already has everything he needs, the athlete, the fashionisto, and any age.

We all know by now I am a fan of Nordstrom for my wardrobe, but they’re also one of my first go-to stores for gifts. They curate a great selection of non-apparel items and create shops within their stores for popular categories. Their “Cold Comforts” department (in store and online) has an excellent variety of men’s scarves, hats, and gloves and you’re sure to find the perfect gift for every guy on your list. My favorites:

holiday gift guide for men cold weather accessories

  1. These are the actual “gloves” I added for Karl to the family Christmas list. Karl is a runner, and while he has active gloves he says his hands still get cold. These have a windproof mitten front, but separated fingers glove back (with an e-Tip to use your SmartPhone) so you don’t lose dexterity. $30.00
  2. He can keep his ears warm while listening to music or talking on the phone with these headphone ear warmers! Wind-resistant with a behind-the-head design and click to fit frame makes them comfortable and great for outdoor activities as well as walking to the office or his next college class. $35.00
  3. Karl hates to spend on luxury, but he does enjoy it when he receives it. This plaid scarf is subtle, classic, 100% cashmere but under $100 for a decadent accessory he will love to wear every day of winter. $99.50
  4. A beanie is a classic, but many have weird shapes, aren’t that warm, or are made out of weird or itchy fabrics. This beanie has a knit exterior but a soft fleece interior that provides added warmth and better blocks cold gusts of wind. Available in four colors, it will be a welcome gift to open. $20.00
  5. Another style of glove Karl asked for was fingerless. He says it’s easier when having to handle small things, and he feels all thumbs in E-tips. I’m considering getting him these convertible gloves, which have a mitten part that can cover the fingers but flip out of the way when necessary. Faux fur lining for coziness and a leather palm for grip, now I just need to decide which of the three colors to get! $75.00
  6. The winter runner in your life would appreciate this beanie and glove set. Made from Nike’s Therma-FIT fabric, the set traps in heat for added warmth and has comes in two color choices (the bright accents seen, or all black). $35.00
  7. Some of us have loved ones who are a bit of a dandy… they have a collection of bow ties, own a tuxedo, and know that the right accessories complete the look. I bet he doesn’t own a top hat! This felt hat comes in brown or black and would show the man in your life you “get” him and his sartorial choices! $83.00
  8. Karl has a pair of gloves very similar to these and they’re so badass. Stylish, classic, and very masculine, they only get better with time and have good grip on the steering wheel yet plenty of warmth for being outside. A pair of gloves like this take any outerwear up a notch and add a fashionable element without being too over the top. $89.50

Trying Le Tote: My Experience with the Clothing and Accessory Rental Company

You all know my love for Gwynnie Bee, but many of you have asked if there is a similar program for those who are smaller than a size 10. Le Tote is also a clothing rental company, but with a different concept.

A review of Le Tote by Wardrobe Oxygen. Opinion as a size 14 and discussion on whether the clothing is a good fit for women over 35.Le Tote helps you curate a box of not just clothing but accessories. For a $49 monthly fee, you receive a box with three garments and two accessories. You can keep items as long as you wish, and anything you love you can keep forever and Le Tote will charge your card. Send items back, and get news ones – you have unlimited Totes for your subscription fee. If you love and choose to keep everything in your shipment you get a free month of Le Tote. Le Tote wants you to love what you receive; you fill out a style profile upon joining, you can customized your delivery and know exactly what you will receive, and Le Tote has stylists on staff to help choose the perfect items for you and your personal style.  Not only that, when you go to the page for a certain item, you can see photos from other Le Tote members wearing the piece, helping you decide if it’s a good choice for your figure.

I received the opportunity to try out Le Tote free for one month. When you join, you will fill out a survey about your size and style and from that certain items will be suggested. However, you can look at all items available and add anything you desire to your virtual closet. Unlike Gwynnie Bee, you can choose exactly what items will arrive in your next shipment – this is great if you’re planning around an event or travel. Like Gwynnie Bee, shipping is free and return packaging and shipping label is included. While it’s called Le Tote, my items arrived in a sturdy Le Tote branded box, wrapped in tissue. Le Tote is big on communication – you’ll receive emails and texts when your next tote is ready to customize, when it ships, and more. You have the ability to control what kind of communication you receive.

le tote review

A few of the Fall 2015 New Arrivals at Le Tote

Le Tote features popular department store brands like Vince Camuto, Max Studio, French Connection, and BCBGeneration and some lesser-known brands that I have seen at TJ Maxx and Marshall’s. While Le Tote offers clothing up to an XL or 16, pickings get slim when you go larger than an L or 10. While the majority of the vibe of Le Tote is relaxed simple fashion, they do offer a few cute dresses or jumpsuits for a night out, and lots of separates that would be office appropriate.

I tried out LeTote at the end of August and had a very hard time finding anything I wanted in my first collection. The accessories weren’t my style – very delicate, simple, a bit too trendy, and as a 40 year old professional, a bit too young and cheap looking for my taste. The clothing felt very… basic. One thing I love about Gwynnie Bee is that it often forces me out of my comfort zone and introduces me to new brands, silhouettes, and prints. Le Tote is simple clothing, which could be amazing for one who doesn’t like or have the time for shopping or really isn’t into fashion but felt too simplistic for me. I ended up going with a black and white striped knit tee shirt inspired dress, a spaghetti-strap midi dress, a blazer, a delicate necklace with a pave circle, and a pair of ear jackets.

Everything fit like Juniors. The black and white dress was a nice heavy weight and well constructed, but so short it hardly covered my bum. The midi dress was a gorgeous teal color and one of those convertible pieces that has a smocked bodice that can be worn with the adjustable straps, styled strapless, or slid down and turned into a maxi skirt. It was fine, but it really felt like something I’d see on the rack at TJ Maxx for $19.99 in 50 different colors. The jacket was very tight in the arms and shoulder, unlined, and just looked and felt cheap. The same with the accessories; the necklace was pretty but looked like it was from Claire’s Boutique and the earrings were a weird overly yellow shiny gold that just looked too cheap for me. The only piece I wore was the teal midi dress, and it was because I was going to be outside volunteering at a fair and knew it would be hot out. It was perfect for such a situation, but not awesome enough to keep or even wear a second time.

I hate to dismiss Le Tote because it truly could be a great option for some. If you are a size 10 or smaller, if you’re not terribly tall or petite, if you’re under 35 and you’re looking for a reasonably priced way to add a bit of variety to your wardrobe without looking too trendy or outlandish, Le Tote could be a great option. The price is also pretty great – it’s easy to spend this much on a sweater or casual dress that only gets worn a handful of times; with Le Tote you get three garments for the price of less than one plus two accessories to complete the look.  And like Netflix, send back and get another one right away.  Le Tote could prove to be a great way to shop and build a wardrobe as the company will adjust recommendations based upon your reviews and what you choose to keep. Just don’t expect to find any garments that will stop people in their tracks, transform your personal style, or find a ton appropriate for weddings and more formal social occasions. Their fall collection looks more promising and stylish than their summer selections, if you did want to try such a service this looks to be a good season to do so.

If you’re interested in trying out Le Tote, use code LTWO20 and receive 20% off your first month’s subscription.  Code expires October 31, 2015.

Have you used Le Tote? What are your thoughts on the clothing and accessories rental service?  Do you think it’s worth it for me to try it again?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ask Allie: Issues with the SAHM Capsule Wardrobes

I have had many mothers contact me regarding my SAHM capsule posts (winter capsule, summer capsule). Some are appreciative, some find my suggestions ridiculous, and some desire more information and assistance. I’d like to answer most of your questions here:

How Do I Shop with a Nursing Baby?
I went back to work six weeks after Emerson was born. Luckily my job let me transition back to full time at the office, having me work two days at home the first week, three the next, and so on. However, I was still working at least 40 hours a week and Emerson was consuming only breast milk. This meant when I wasn’t at work pumping, I was at home with a baby latched to my chest. I remember I went to Target ONCE in the first three months of Emerson’s life and it was a traumatic experience. I couldn’t even imagine going to the mall to shop for myself, let alone have the time to do so.

Online shopping. I looked at the clothes I already had and said… hrm this 12 doesn’t fit any more, but it’s only a tad too small so I likely am now a 14 in this brand. However, this 12 won’t even slide over my butt so I am guessing I am a 16 in this brand, but probably a petite since the 12s are just the right length with my 2” heels. I then went online and looked for retailers who had friendly return policies and free or near-free shipping.

Lands’ End. Talbots. Nordstrom. These three stores are the reason I survived the first year of Emerson’s life without resorting to Crocs and maternity pants. I stuck to a lot of dresses in stretchy fabrics like ponte because they were more forgiving and comfortable. Wrap styles which let me wear normal clothing but easily slip the bodice to the side for nursing. I found a pair of shoes from Sofft that I liked… and I bought them in three different colors and pretty much only wore those all summer long. I didn’t try to create a fabulous, cohesive and chic wardrobe, I just bought basics that worked. Then as Emerson slept more, started solids, my body started normalizing… then I started to create a new working wardrobe with this new body and new life.

You have so much going on in your life right now, the last thing you should worry about is creating a perfect wardrobe or hone your personal style. Keep what you buy simple – simple colors, simple silhouettes, simple pieces that flatter, work with your needs, and pretty much get the job done. The rest will come in due time.

Your Choices are Too Expensive!
When I make my capsules, I use Polyvore. To keep the collages clean and easy to get inspiration from them, I work with clothing in Polyvore that is not on a model, and is on a white background. Check out the online boutiques of your favorite budget-friendly retailer and you will likely see those garments on a mannequin or model.

Do not take my capsules as gospel, but more as inspiration. I may show a $200 designer sundress, but look at it and realize WHY I used it – it’s cotton, it has a print, it is below the knee, it has straps wide enough to cover a traditional bra, it has a defined waistband. Such a dress can be found at your nearby Goodwill, at a big box retailer, your neighborhood department store, and most any online retailer. Always shop within your means – great style can be achieved at any income level.

You Don’t Feature Plus Sizes!
Again, my capsule wardrobes are made in Polyvore, and I have to work with what is available. Again, I ask you to check out your favorite online plus size retailers and you will see the clothes are usually featured on a model or mannequin. Also, as a woman who is cusp sized, I know that what works on a 5’8” size 20 woman with a large bust and long slim legs won’t necessarily work on a 5’6” size 26 woman with small breast and larger hips. I try to choose pieces that will work on a broad range of sizes and shapes of women, but we females are snowflakes and no two of us are built the same. Please use these capsules as inspiration, not gospel. And subscribe to the blog, I regularly provide shopping suggestions specifically for plus sized women!

I Don’t Have Time to Search for Deals!
Oh my darling, I hear you loud and clear! Since having Emerson, I shop less, and I shop less frugally. I don’t have time to scour the entire Internet for the lowest price on a garment, so I usually just go with the retailer with the best shipping/return policy. Hello Nordstrom, my best friend. Nope, Nordstrom is not the cheapest, but they ship quickly, they have a broad range of prices and sizes, customer reviews, good sales, and free returns.

If you narrow down the stores you shop at, you can become quicker shopping there. I used to find Nordstrom’s site a maze, but now I know how to quickly find what I want, the brands I know that fit, how to shop from lowest to highest price, narrow down by size or color or brand even before surfing.

I also recommend signing up for a site like Ebates which gives you cash back on every online purchase and usually has some of the most popular coupon codes. Once a member, use the search function at the top of the site to type in the name of the store you wish to shop. It will take you to that store’s page on Ebates, where there’s a button to take you directly to the store, as well as any codes. Takes about 20 seconds and you’re in decent shape. It may not be the best price in town, but time is money and as a mom you don’t have a lot of time to waste.

And finally… no need to buy a whole wardrobe all at once.  Buy what you essentially need to get out of the house, and then slowly build up.  Shop when you have the time, the beauty of online shopping is it’s available 24/7.  I have been known to shop at 3am when I can’t get back to sleep after a feeding or nightmare, even on Christmas day when my child is being cared for by family and I can sneak away for an hour with my Smartphone and a glass of wine.  Life first, then shopping.

I Don’t Wear Pants/I Don’t Wear Sleeveless
Again, please don’t use these capsules as gospel, but inspiration.

For the summer capsule, you can easily replace the pants and shorts with some skirts in a variety of colors and lengths. In place of the printed pants, how about a printed cotton lawn skirt that hits between the knees and the calf; instead of white jeans a white linen maxi skirt; in place of the shorts a chino straight skirt that hits around the knees and maybe a denim or chambray fuller wrap skirt that hits at the knees.  All the tops featured can be found in a similar style with sleeves.

For the winter capsule, I’d get a black skirt of ponte or another heavier fabric that is midi length, a dark denim straight or a-line skirt that hits anywhere between the knees and calf, and maybe another ponte midi skirt in charcoal or gray.  The shorter-sleeved tops can easily be found in similar fabrics and silhouettes with a longer sleeve.

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Accessories Make the Woman

“You always look so put together!”

“I love your sense of style!”

“What a cool necklace, where ever did you get it?”

“I wish I could put together outfits like you.”

“What a great outfit!”

I received 23 compliments on my outfit or a piece of my outfit today. No, I am not trying to brag about my sense of style. I am trying to make a point.

Want to know what I was wearing today? I was wearing a slightly faded black cotton sweater with a round neck, a bit stretched out from multiple wearings. With it was a pair of cream pants I have owned for too long. I have resewn the hem multiple times, and the lining in the pants had torn and raveled so much I finally tore it out in a fit of rage.

Why the compliments on such a mediocre (at best) outfit? I bet most of you women have similar pieces in your wardrobe. What made it special enough to compliment the person wearing such lackluster garments?


I wore a necklace. It’s long, hangs past my breasts and is made completely of shells. The shells are pretty much the same color as my pitiful cream trousers.

On my feet are a pair of $40 pumps I bought last season from Nordstrom. Slightly pointed toe, but not so much that they look overly trendy or are overly painful on the toes. 2″ heel. A classic, yet stylish look that was so flattering, so comfortable, and priced so nicely, I bought them in three colors.

Black leather purse in finish similar to shoes that I picked up at Marshall’s for $19.99 three years ago.

Soft eye makeup, blush, concealer and subtle lipgloss.

These accessories are not particularly fancy, and far from being expensive. What makes them work is that they have… personality. They help express my personality.

When looking for accessories, do not adhere solely to what the magazine pages tell you is hip. True fashion is timeless and is creative. Anyone can buy the “right” pieces. What matters is not what you wear, but how you wear it.

Shell necklaces are not considered “hip” or stylish. I found the necklace in my mother’s house in a box of costumes. I believe it was used one year when one of us kiddies was a hula dancer. The shells were beautiful, the necklace makes a cool clinking noise when you walk. Long necklaces help elongate a short body (moi). No one else I knew had a necklace like it. I decided to take it as my own, wear it with a subtle outfit that would not compete with the necklace.

Accessories are art. Clothing can be the canvas, while accessories are the medium.

Each year I buy a new purse. I don’t buy an expensive one, or a designer one. I buy one I like. A purse is carried with you every day, it should match your personality, compliment your wardrobe, but most important it should make you happy. A pleasing shape, a cheerful color. Something to make you love it, make you proud to fling it over your shoulder. My sister bought a turquoise vinyl purse from Payless Shoe Source this Spring for less than $20. She got more compliments on it than the designer purse she received as a gift. Why? Because it fit her personality, it was fun, it was pleasing.

Accessories can add to an outfit, can detract from an outfit, can overwhelm an outfit. See fashion not as a chore, but as art. Like music, painting, home decorating. See it as lines, shapes, color. Fashion is more than just covering skin. It’s more than trying to imitate celebrities. It shouldn’t be about your hips, your belly, your breasts, your budget. It’s about making your body a work of art, an extension of your personality.

Sounds daunting, but it’s not. Go with your gut. Color Me beautiful says you’re a Winter, yet you love orange. When you wear orange you feel happy, powerful, sassy. Then darn it, wear orange! You see a necklace that catches your fancy, but you fear it’s too ornate, it’s too flashy. Well then, don’t wear it with a silver lycra mini and pink maribou heels. Like a fine work of art that you wouldn’t hang on walls papered with cabbage roses, a great accessory should not compete with your outfit.

The right bracelet or necklace can take a faded sweater and a pair of pants too worn to donate and make it a stylish outfit. You may not have the budget for a new wardrobe every season, but a few key accessories picked up every few months can add live and vitality to your closet.

My Shoes!

Reader Allyson asked about my shoe collection. She is trying to figure out what she needs versus what she wants. I am probably the worst person to ask about this for I have an affinity for shoes that match nothing in my wardrobe and will probably cause bunions and hammertoes before I am 40. I like them tall, I like them funky, I like the heels to be spindly…

Anyway, looking at the shoes that get a lot of wear in my collection, I see the not-quite-traditional ones get the most use. The classic black shoes are great in a pinch, but I often find an unexpected neutral like a camel, tan, red or a print like leopard (one with black AND brown in it) seems to work with the majority of the wardrobe.

here is my collection. You’ll see a few I never wear, and will wonder where some have gone (sold, donated or tossed – recently did some gutting of my closet – hello red patent peeptoes and pilgrim shoes). This is my current collection, all seasons combined:

1. Leopard peeptoe heels from BCBGirls. I actually own two pairs because I adore them so much. One pair is a bit scuffed and smelly; the other ones are reserved for more special of occasions. These are fabric, have a 4” heel and make me feel sexy and powerful. I bought the first pair I think late 2006 and then the second pair on sale in spring of 2007.

2. Brown croco peeptoe heels from BCBGirls. Same exact style as the leopard ones. Bought in spring of 2007

3. Black croco peeptoe heels from BCBGirls. Ditto. If you find a pair of shoes that are comfortable AND fit your style, stock up! I bought them the same day I bought them in brown.

4. Black satin peeptoe heels from Enzo Angiolini. Very similar style to the BCBGirls, but a wider opening at the toe, and evening-appropriate. I got these in summer of 2007 to replace my previous black satin dress heels that broke a heel.

5. Black city boots from Impo. These are actually pleather so they look a bit like patent leather. Side-zip ankle boots with a 1” or shorter kitten heel. I bought these in winter of 2006 to replace my 5-year old city boots that were just DONE.

6. Tan leather calf-height boots from Duo. These are the “Bern” style from their website. Very low heel, comfortable casual style. Got these in the fall of 2007.

7. Brown suede tall boots from Silhouettes. 1” kitten heel, pointed toe, slightly slouched/rouched fabric. I must say a pair in purple are en route to my house via eBay – got them for about $20 on there. Yes, PURPLE! The brown ones I received as a gift this winter.

8. Black low-top “Chucks” Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers. I bought these this fall, got them for my husband as well (yes we are the corny couple with matching shoes).

9. Red pointy-toed pumps from Steven. 2” heel, candy apple red and a sale price I couldn’t resist. Have had for a couple of years now, got them at Off Broadway Shoes.

10. Black heeled oxfords from BCBGirls. Super high heel, pointed toe, classic oxford styling. Can go with skirts or pants. Ordered these in the fall but they were backordered and didn’t receive until winter.

11. Black ballet flats from Target. A total waste of money. They have no cushioning, no support, no study sole and are pleather so they make my feet sweat. I keep these for emergencies, but have no clue what emergency it would be as that I haven’t worn them in months. Bought these in late spring of 2007.

12. Black leather flats from Naturalizer. Very simple style, rounded toe, soft leather, arch support and comfort sole. These were bought for comfort, but are nondescript enough that they work okay for style as well. Bought these in… I think late summer 2006.

13. Black open-work pumps from Steve Madden. I have had these for years (I beleive it was 2001). Classic pump style, but peeptoe and the front is a lattice-work of leather. I call them my Carmen Miranda heels.

14. Hot pink studded pointy-toe pumps from NYLA. Hot pink, dark metal studs and a dangerous heel. These are a bit scuffed in front (and where can you find hot pink shoe polish?) but still a blast to wear and get tons of comments and compliments. I think I got these in… 2004. Yes, I got them while trying to find shoes for my wedding. I couldn’t resist – also from Off Broadway Shoes.

15. Hot pink and orange suede peeptoe wedges from J. Crew. Tall wooden wedge, pink suede with orange trim and tiny bow. Super cute, got end of summer season 2007 so haven’t had the chance to wear a lot.

16. Black leather thong-style heels from Target. 1.5” heel, simple. My go-to shoe all summer long. I buy a replacement pair every other year; these were bought in the summer of 2007.

17. Brown stacked flip flops from J. Crew. Have had them since 2004.

18. Black stacked flip flops from J. Crew. Got at the outlet for a song in 2005.

19. Black “Sandy” flip flops from Reef. Replaced my old pair just this summer.

20. Purple Crocs. Only worn in the yard or to as music festival. I promise! I bought them specifically for Bonnaroo this summer.

21. Aqua flip flops from Old Navy. Thin and cheap, but the same color as my bathing suit! I bought them on clearance in 2006.

22. Black crocheted elastic-strap flops from J. Crew. A slightly dressier version of flops, but hardly ever worn because the elastic stretched out and they don’t stay too well on my feet. I bought these also on clearance back in 2004… they went with me on my honeymoon!

23. Black leather pointy-toed heeled mules from Steve Madden. Horribly uncomfortable and super tall heels, but make suite a dramatic look with pants so I keep them. But I haven’t worn them in years, bought them in 2001.

24. Gray and blue hiking shoes from L.L. Bean. Bought these in 2003.

25. Black and green hybrid shoes from Keen. These have Kevlar lacing, mesh so they can be worn in water, but lots of cushioning and support so they can be worn for long walks. I take them on every vacation. I bought them in 2004 for my honeymoon.

26. Gray and orange sneakers from New Balance. Purely for the gym, the sidewalk, activities. Not the style for street wear. I have had them since the winter of 2005.

27. Black round-toe “Henri” pumps from Jessica Simpson. They got a bit stretched out this spring so I don’t wear as often because they aren’t as comfortable as before. However they are perfect for fuller skirts and more retro of styles. I bought them in… I think spring of 2006.

28. Purple satin strappy heels with rosette. 4” heel, delicate straps and a fabric rose on the strap over the toes. Very fun and quirky; I usually wear them with a non-purple dress. I bought these in 2004.

29. Black and silver strappy heels from Nine West. 4” heels, delicate straps and a rhinestone buckle on the strap over the toes. Have had these for about a decade and adore them. Remarkably comfortable as well. I remember buying them at the Nine West store in White Flint when I managed that Express store so we’re talking… 1998?

30. Purple Birkenstocks. Yep, I have a pair. Haven’t been worn since… I guess the early 90s but I hold on to them because I did adore them so and they ARE comfortable!

31. Beige satin strappy heels. 3” heel tiny bow at foot, very delicate. Considered them as wedding shoes (my dress was ivory) but went with hot pink instead (come on, you must expect that from me by now). Very subtle style that works with any color of dress and are great for summer affairs. Have had since early 2004.

As for where I store my shoes – I have a canvas over the door contraption in my office that holds the majority of the heels. On the floor of the office closet are sturdier shoes like my boots, ballet flats and sneakers. Outside on our deck is a large Rubbermaid box. In there are my slip flops and Crocs. In my bedroom closet I have shoe boxes on the floor that hold my strappy heels/evening shoes so they won’t get dusty. The shoes I wear daily (like my Chucks and city boots) end up next to the front door and when they are out of rotation, they go back into the office.

UPDATE: I added the dates I bought these shoes because I wanted you to know I don’t buy a whole new shoe wardrobe each season. Yes, shoes break and get stinky and stretch out and get scuffed, but many can last season after season if they are a more classic cut (or an really unexpected style that doesn’t follow a specific fad). My pink pointy heels garner just as many compliments now as they did three years ago because they are so unexpected. When I buy my city boots, I usually get a half a decade worth of wear with proper care and maintenance because they are a very simple, streamlined style that works well with pants as well as jeans.

Ask Allie: How to Make Wardrobe Classics Look Trendy

I spend my days in a pretty casual office, where even the managers wear jeans and t-shirts, so my minuscule capsule wardrobe has remained something I use only for date night and visits to relatives. My company is sending me to the corporate HQ and I need to dress professionally.

I am blonde and my wardrobe staples are khaki. I love the idea of the fitted white oxford shirt and nice heels with my khaki staples. Problem is, when I have these clothes on I look professional, confident, put-together… and about 20 years older!! How can I wear the classics and still look like an up-and-coming star-employee of an edgy internet start-up company?

I think your question is one that many small wardrobe folks battle with. A wardrobe full of hard-working classics that mix and match with ease, but can feel a bit dowdy or boring, especially when dealing with creative types. However, there are many trendy and stylish people who have a similar wardrobe.  When you analyze the wardrobes of style icons you will see they too have a closet of classics, and they are usually in a neutral shade.  Here’s a few examples of current-day style icons who wear very classic looks, and what they do to look current and fashionable.

Gwyneth Paltrow – Fit

On the red carpet, Gwyneth Paltrow often wears very edgy and modern gowns. However off the red carpet, Paltrow is known for her very clean and classic wardrobe. She’s not one to wear a lot of color, accessories, or embellishments and doesn’t jump on every trend bandwagon. The way she makes her very basic wardrobe look modern and hip is by having a very keen eye for fit. Paltrow regularly wears slim pants, structured jackets with strong shoulders, and slim sheath dresses. Everything has been tailored to perfection to best flatter her lean frame. The slim silhouettes and perfectly hemmed trousers and skirts make classics look quite chic and very modern.

Rachel Bilson – Accessories

Rachel Bilson’s look is young and fresh, but her personal style is surprisingly classic and simple. Over and over, she wears the same sort of silhouettes – styles that work now and would also work a couple years from now. Bilson keeps her personal style on-trend and covetable by adding accessories to the mix. She is known for bold booties with everything from skinny jeans to floaty frocks, looping colorful chunky scarves and pashminas at her throat come winter, and carrying a statement bag – be it a clutch or an oversized hobo. If you remove her jackets, bags, and shoes you will see her core wardrobe is quite timeless and simple. The addition of accessories adds edginess and a youthful vibe.

Michelle Obama – Color

Michelle Obama will occasionally add current trends and edgy designers to her wardrobe, but in general her personal style is quite classic. What makes her stand out in a crowd and be seen as a style icon is her great use of color. The First Lady’s closet must look like a rainbow, for she hardly wears neutrals or pastels. Her silhouettes are usually classic – most often you will see her in ladylike full and pencil skirts paired with fitted blazers or cardigans or a classic sheath dress. However she doesn’t shy away from any color – from school bus yellow to fire engine red, FLOTUS has worn it and worn it well. For you, you can make it a signature color or colors to go with your khaki-based wardrobe staples.

Kate Moss – Defined Personal Style

Kate Moss is known as a fashionista, but when you break down her wardrobe, it’s quite simple. Moss has a uniform of a tiny dress or skinny jeans and trousers paired with a blazer. What makes it style icon-worthy is how her personal style is so clearly defined. Kate Moss loves rock and roll and it’s clear by who she marries, what social events she attends, and how she dresses. Her classic ivory pantsuit will have very square padded shoulders and be paired by platform high heels; a typical date night ensemble of little dress and blazer is made edgy with snakeskin print and satin lapels. Even for red carpet events, Moss chooses either short and sparkly, or long and flowing with a ’70s vibe.  She keeps the color palette simple, the silhouettes classic with a rocker vibe, and shows her personal style with tiny touches that all add up to big fashion.

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

How to “Read” Fashion Magazines

Pre-pubescent women below 100 lbs. showing off dresses in the thousands. Ads for Armani, Versace, Missoni, Chanel and any other brand you couldn’t possibly afford (and possibly couldn’t even find for sale in your neck of the woods). Crazy outfits of sheer blouses without camisoles, plaids with polka dots, turquoise false lashes and 6″ platform wedges. How are these magazines supposed to help the typical woman in America? How can Vogue, W, Bazaar and Elle assist you in your journey to the suburban shopping mall?

Some fashion magazines are more helpful than others. Lucky magazine not only tells you what is hip, but where to purchase these hip items. They categorize trends, with a page dedicated to the lace trend, a page dedicated to wedge shoes, a page dedicated to croco bags. While encouraging the shopper to visit New York boutiques, a few chain stores are mentioned. Even if you cannot afford the Prada skirt, you can see the length, fabric and cut and can look for a similar version at Macy’s.

Bazaar is one of my favorite magazines. They show celebrities and socialites in what’s hip for the next season, have all the hot new ads from the most luxurious brands, but also breaks fashion down for the Every Woman. So the trends for Spring are a bit of cowgirl, a bit of nautical and a bit of safari? Bazaar will show how a woman in her 20’s can wear the trends, a woman in her 30’s and all the way up to her 70’s. They also will have a spread informing the reader about the hot new trends. As always, they have a What’s Hot/What’s Not on the very last page.

Every fashion magazine can be beneficial to you, no matter your age, dress size or income. It’s not about going into debt for a Dior bag or even for trying to replicate a Dolce and Gabanna ad with pieces from Target. No, it’s getting concepts.

Look at the ads. Really examine them as you would a painting in a museum. What colors are being worn? What does the shoe look like? What kind of fabric? Is there a specific print that is the theme? Now flip the page and look at the next ad. Is there any similarity? Though each high-end designer has their own signature style, there is often a theme for each season that resonates on the runway and in the ads. Maybe it’s lace trim, maybe it’s wood heels on the shoes. It could be a lot of black – it sure was this winter. Don’t look at these ads and roll your eyes over the age or weight of the models, the astronomical prices and ridiculousness of the garments. See it as art, and then break it down.

Be Realistic. If the magazine says every woman needs the new Fendi purse, don’t buy the Fendi purse if you don’t make enough money to buy a Fendi purse for fun. The purse will be passé in a year. Don’t go on a street corner and buy a faux Fendi purse. It will look fake, and it will look tacky and desperate. Don’t wait two years and buy a cheesy knock-off of what the Fendi purse was shaped like from Wal-Mart. Again tacky and desperate. Instead, break it down. What makes that bag new and hip? Is it the oversized shape? Use of silver hardware? A short handle? Croco leather? White with black trim? Take those details with you when you go shopping. Look for something that is beautiful on it’s own, fits your lifestyle and needs, but may incorporate those details. I for one adored the Balenciaga Motorcycle bags that celebs like Nicole Ritchie and Jessica Simpson were sporting. I couldn’t afford the bag, and didn’t want to look like an idiot with a faux silver or turquoise pleather wanna-be bag on my wrist. Therefore I analyzed the look of the bag. What about it did I like? The hardware. The large size. The short handle. The way the leather looks a bit crackled and a bit glazed. When I went to buy a new purse I found a slouchy oversized purse with lots of hardware and metal detail in a similar leather finish and a color that complimented my wardrobe. Not Balenciaga, couldn’t be mistaken for a Motorcycle bag, but receives many compliments, holds all my stuff and keeps my image current.

Don’t be a Label Whore. I was in an elevator yesterday with a woman. A gorgeous woman with a gorgeous figure. Her beauty was not the first thing I saw. She was wearing a puffy Baby Phat coat with a faux fur trim in a weird olive/taupe color. She had on extremely tight Seven for All Mankind jeans that were too low on the waist and too long on her ankles. She had on a Tiffany bracelet AND a Tiffany necklace. She had on a Coach logo purse – quite large and quite pink. Under her coat was a black fitted tee with “Bebe” in rhinestones across the chest. She had on false eyelashes, very pink glossy lips and barely any other makeup. Her hair was in a formal updo with tendrils around her face, her hair obviously meticulously highlighted, lowlighted and streaked on a regular basis. And then on her feet were those high-heeled Timberland-esque dress boots. Her outfit probably cost a ton of money, but she looked terrible. Her clothes didn’t compliment her figure, or one another. She was a walking fashion victim, a slave to the name brands. By caring so much about the names, she lost sight of what the brands were trying to create – FASHION. I highly doubt you are going to the Academy Awards any time soon. No one is going to stop you walking down the street and say “Who are you wearing?” Even if they do, how cool would you be by saying, “This old thing? I picked it up at Target last season.” Think Sharon Stone when she wore a Gap tee shirt to an awards ceremony. No one wrote her off as cheap or tacky. Instead she was celebrated for that fashion move.

It is understandable to want to buy luxury, to splurge on designer. You work hard, you want to reward yourself. I respect that, and I indulge in that as well. Just when you do, think about the rules you hold for all other aspects of your life:
Does it fit into your life?
Does it flatter?
Will it work for the long haul?
Is it worth it?

If you got that promotion, go ahead and buy a Coach purse, but buy one that will go with your current wardrobe, and will still be beautiful next year. My friend has a Coach bag that she bought herself after getting her degree in 1998. She still carries around that camel colored tote, and still gets compliments all the time. She bought something luxurious, something obviously a brand name, but something that fit her lifestyle, fashion style and something that works in the 90’s as well as the new millennium. A few years ago I found a beautifully tailored black wool coat from Calvin Klein. I put it on and felt like a socialite. I felt elegant, tall and slim. It was at a discount store, but still out of my price range. It was the first item I ever put on layaway. When I made the final payment, I still adored the coat. Now a few years later, I still love the coat, it’s cut, it’s feel. To me, it was worth the money. I wear it and look expensive, but I am not shouting “This is a Calvin Klein coat from 2001!” I am whispering “I am wearing an expensive, well made garment and it is designer.”

Again, look in the magazines. Look at the spreads of celebrities at galas and fundraisers. Are they showing up in head to toe labels? Unless you’re Kimora Lee Simmons or Missy Elliott, the answer probably is no. The women who look polished, elegant, sexy and expensive do not flash their designer labels. They wear what is stylish, flattering and beautiful.

Don’t Believe Everything You Read. When a magazine totes a certain top or moisturizer as great, it’s not always because it’s great. Magazines receive free stuff all the time, and are encouraged in different ways to promote this stuff. These freebies end up in fashion spreads, articles about great new things for the season, or advice columns. Don’t take what one magazine says as gospel. It’s best to have something to compare it with. Don’t worship Vogue if you won’t also pick up In Style. Don’t read Lucky without W. By reading more magazines (even in the line at the grocery or at the pharmacy while waiting for a prescription) you get a more well-rounded view of what is hot, what is trendy, and what is utterly ridiculous.

Make it Age and Shape Appropriate. Anyone over 27 and a size 4 should not be wearing dress shorts. Mischa Barton and Nicole Ritchie and Lindsay Lohan are all wearing short creased shorts to red carpet events. Well good for them. Are you built like Lindsay Lohan? Are you the age of Mischa Barton? If you answered yes to both, God Speed and Good Luck. For the rest of us, STEER AWAY FROM THE SHORTS. Just because it’s hip, doesn’t mean to wear it. We don’t live in the era of cut and dry fashion. My mom speaks of circle skirts, piped charcoal blazers and cigarette pants while growing up. They weren’t flattering on her, but she wore them because EVERYONE wore them. That, and nothing else. Fashion has changed and has become more flexible and forgiving. If this season is all about olive green and you look terrible in olive green, then don’t wear it. If magazines are telling you that leggings are hot this season (which they are) but you are over 25, you’re over 105 lbs. and you wore in an office setting you shouldn’t pick up a pair your next trip to the mall. If the new look is nautical, that doesn’t mean you need to go buy a navy and white striped boat neck shirt to make your torso seem twice it’s size. Instead consider pieces that may be more appropriate. Crisp white trousers with a solid navy sweater. A navy blazer with gold buttons paired with a white shirt and vintage washed jeans. There are different ways to incorporate trends without looking like a fashion victim or worse… unflattering.

Make a List. So you like the polka dots featured in Bazaar. You like the new width of jeans seen in In Style. You love how navy is coming back into vogue on the pages of Vogue. Write these things down, or tear out pages from your glossy magazines and take them with you on your shopping excursions for inspiration. When you get overwhelmed in a sea of fabric at Lord and Taylor’s pull out your list. It will keep you centered and less overwhelmed.
And finally, See Fashion as Art. If you stop looking at fashion as the unobtainable, you’ll despise it. The majority of our country cannot afford a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes, a Prada dress, a Chanel suit. That’s okay. Just look at that Chanel suit or that Prada dress in the magazine’s fashion spread and try to figure out why they chose to display it. Is it the color? The cut? The fabric? What about makes it less insane (because much high fashion is totally insane and unwearable in normal society) and more beautiful? Take that one thing with you as you go shopping this season. If you try to see the beauty and detail in fashion, you will be more likely to buy what makes you look more beautiful when you wear it.

My Recent Purchases (and some fab weekend sales)

I’m trying to be extremely careful with what I purchase this fall; this year has taught me I can live on less and there’s some pretty spectacular items already in my closet. But I do see some holes, and I’m trying to purchase higher quality and more timeless pieces to fit those wardrobe gaps. Some of the things I have purchased recently, and if applicable, the deals going on at those stores:

Ann Taylor Cashmere Poncho
If you follow me on Facebook (and you should, lots of conversations going on there and different content), you know I recently purchased this cashmere poncho from Ann Taylor. I got the Dark Sky (a rich navy) in L/XL and I love it so much I wish it was already cold enough to wear it. The neckline is big so you can have it off the shoulder, boatneck, or ruched as seen on the model. It’s elegant to wear to work with a crisp white shirt and gray trousers, or on the weekend with a long-sleeved striped tee, jeans, and tall boots. While it’s not cheap, it’s a piece that won’t go out of style and will work no matter my size or personal style.

Ann Taylor this weekend is offering 50% off full price dresses and skirts, an additional 40% off sale items, and buy one get one 50% off select camis and tanks (no coupon needed).

LOFT Snow Leopard Print Car Coat

From LOFT I purchased their Snow Leopard Print Car Coat; it arrived Friday evening and it’s amazing.  The texture is fuzzy, like felted wool and faux fur blended together and tightly woven so it will provide warmth the cooler days of fall and less blustery days of winter.  I bought a Large Petite and it fits perfectly, nips in at the back right where it should, shoulders at the right place, sleeves right length, can comfortably button over a lightweight sweatshirt but also looks smart unbuttoned.  It looks smart with trousers and jeans, but I also thought it worked with a dress.  The pictures make it look just cream, gray, and black but there’s a hint of blue in the print that makes me love it even more.

LOFT is having 40% off all merchandise with the code FALLSTYLE but don’t delay because this fab deal ends September 13.

gap real straight jeans

I love the Real Straight jeans from Gap; my legs are too thick to carry off skinny jeans and most boyfriend jeans are too narrow.  The Gap Real Straight jeans work well with my curves, having enough room for my booty, no gaping at the waist, no suffocated calves or thighs, and a fuller leg opening to balance my large ankles.  The 32 Short fits me best; the length works with sneakers and low heels but I’ll also roll the hem (see in this Instagram photo) to give a boyfriend jean effect.  I bought the medium wash, but also snagged the destructed (seen on Instagram) which was on sale.

Gap is having 30% off everything with the code HAPPY and if you have GAPCASH right now it is being redeemed.  I just bought two plaid shirts (this one and this one) and a henley (I know, I know, totally channeling my ’90s self this fall) and thanks to GAPCASH and rewards from my Banana Republic Visa I only paid $20 for all three!

Isabella Fiore Galiana HoboI didn’t NEED another black leather bag (I have this one from Rough & Tumble that I love), but with MYHABIT’s Labor Day sale and some MYHABIT credits burning a hole in my virtual wallet, I got this bag from Isabella Fiore for only $42.  And OMIGOD it’s gorgeous!  The leather is thick but it slouches perfectly.  It smells divine, the print is pretty cool, and while it’s super big (like fit my lunch and laptop and commuter shoes in it along with all my purse stuff big), it doesn’t look ridiculous with my 5’3″ frame.  And strangers stop me to ask about it.  It’s hard to use any other bag in my closet now that this baby has entered my life.

I’ve also bought some things that went immediately back.  Some wide leg pants from Nordstrom that made me look pregnant and 5″ shorter than my 5’3″ self, the LOFT camo sweater I mentioned in my last sale post (super gorgeous but not needed and not really my style in real life), and an incredibly disappointing cape (but returning it meant I could get the leopard car coat), but I’m really loving the fall trends in general. What have you purchased for fall?

Seasonless Black Trousers

A pair of black trousers in a seasonless fabric is a necessity to any woman’s wardrobe. What deems a fabric “seasonless?” This means the pants are not wool, they are not cotton. They are most likely a blend of fabrics, usually a good portion synthetic. Ann Taylor has a seasonless fabric they call Triacetate. Express’ seasonless fabric is called Microtwill. J.Crew (and many other brands) calls their version Gabardine. All different fabrics, all seasonless. Maintains it’s shape, often has a bit of stretch, has a slight texture or sheen (great for dressing up and dressing down!), and sort of blends into the background. Not only should these tousers be seasonless, they should be eventless (if that is a word). You want trousers that can go from work to a happy hour to a cocktail party to an interview, to a night club. What cut achieves this? A bootcut leg, not tight, but not Palazzo pants (those pants that look like a skirt on each leg). A tab waist if often a good choice. You never need to worry about a belt, it lies flat under fitted, untucked shirts, yet looks smart with a tucked in oxford. Due to a tab-wait trouser having a wider waistband, it is less likely to cut into the torso, creating a spare tire above the waistline. Very flattering on women with hips, bellies, rears, or straight shapes.

These trousers should not have front pockets. I do not care what your body shape is, front pockets ruin a smooth line and make trousers look more casual and less versatile. These pockets often bow out, wrinkle under the tousers, and look messy. They can make Kate Moss look like Kathy Bates. Back pockets are okay, as long as they are small besom pockets, and not patch pockets (again, detroy the versatility and make the trouser more dated and casual).

Examples of good trousers:

Image hosted by
Yes, I said these trousers should be black, but I chose a lighter color so you could see the detail. The bootcut leg adds a modern look to the pant, elongates and slims the leg. This is an example of a tab waist. See how it is a wider waistband, less likely to cut into the middle. The lack of pleats, seaming and pockets in the front minimizes a belly and gives a smooth line. The strong crease down the front elongates the leg and gives a long, lean look. See how you could see these pants with an oxford and matching blazer with pumps for work, a beaded camisole and pointy toed heels for a night club, a cotton v-neck sweater sweater and some boots for a jaunt to the mall. These pants are from Ann Taylor, and are a cotton/rayon/spandex blend (rayon gives it the seasonless fabric, strech gives it the smooth fit wear after wear).

Here is a great example from Lane Bryant:

Image hosted by
These pants are a seasonless nylon/rayon/spandex blend. They are cut just below the waist (reduces the look of tummy bulge), have a bootcut leg, and smooth lower torso. These pants would look great with strappy heels, a beaded shell and matching jacket for a cocktail party, or a merino turtleneck and some crocodile pointy boots for lunch with the girls. At the time of writing this, these trousers are on sale for $20, regularly $45. You really can find stylish classic pieces for a steal at your local mall. I cannot stress this point enough.

The point is that with the right black trousers, you can dress for almost any event. I have black trousers I purchased five years ago, and still wear weekly. They do not have to cost a lot, most of the trousers I buy on sale and get for less than $50.00. Do keep in mind that though a bargain is always great, black trousers is one thing you do not want to look cheap. They will be worn more than most anything else in your wardrobe, so don’t settle for a chintzy fabric with a cheap sheen, a pair that wrinkles easily, isn’t lined, isn’t the right length, the right cut, the right anything. I do believe in buying in bulk. If you find the trousers of your dreams, you may wish to invest in a second pair in black, and possibly a third pair in another versatile color (gray, brown, tan, white). Consider this especially if you buy the matching suit jacket. I purchased a pair of amazing trousers and the matching jacket at Ann Taylor four years ago. I often wore the trousers without the jacket. One day my dog jumped up to greet me as I returned home from work, his claw got caught in the fabric and ended up snagging and tearing the thigh of these coveted trousers. Ann Taylor no longer makes pieces in this same fabric, so I have a lovely well-fitting jacket and no trousers to match. Since then, I always buy two pairs of pants for every suit jacket, allowing one pair for every day wear, and one pair to preserve to wear with the jacket or for special occasions.

As for care of these pants. I will let you know ahead of time that often these pants say “Dry Clean Only.” I DESPISE spending money on dry cleaning. I end up taking my clothes to the cleaners and forget to pick them up for two weeks. Most of the knits and sweaters I purchase I ignore this “Dry Clean Only” label and wash in Woolite on the gentle cycle of my machine and hang to dry. I have tried this with trousers, and rarely have had good luck. They end up wrinkled, losing that nice front crease and long line. They look cheaper, they often get tighter, the legs shorter (often leaving the lining the same length, which is NOT a good look!), the threads weaken, leaving the potential for an embarrassment the next time you sit down. I have a stain remover I actually purchased in the lingerie department of a department store. I spot treat with that or a Shout! Wipe (always have 5 or 6 in my purse – available at your grocery store in the detergent aisle) and then take them to the local discount dry cleaners. Every so often, they get a better cleaning at the higher end dry cleaners. This may seem like a pain, especially if you have children, a busy schedule, a tight budget. I must tell you this is an investment. If you take care of your clothes correctly, they will take care of you in return, looking gorgeous and lasting for years. Though it may be more appealing to buy all clothing that can take a tumble in the washer and dryer, you lose that polished look, that classic look, the look that shows you care what you look like and others should as well. If you can’t go beyond Tumble Dry Low, you will have a hard time following the closet rules of this book.

My Wardrobe Today – Monday and this Weekend

Black and white tee (sleeves rolled up) – Gap (no longer available – Fall/Winter 2010)
Orange-red shantung skirt – Banana Republic (no longer available, several years old – seen in 2006 here)
Black patent peeptoe heels – Nine West “Masquerader” (no longer available – similar)
Gold banglesRalph Lauren
Gold tassel bracelet – J. Crew (no longer available)
Gold hoops

This weekend I finally got a chance to go up in my attic and see what of my old clothes fit now that I have lost weight. Going up there, I was totally thinking about this skirt. I LOVED this skirt – the color is one of my favorites – an orangey red. When I saw celebs wearing orange-red lips this spring I immediately started itching to wear anything this color and remembered I had this beauty waiting for a smaller me.

Speaking of attic clothes, I spent a large chunk of Saturday trying on my collection up in the attic – so many gorgeous clothes in great condition. Unfortunately though many fit me again, many don’t fit this new shape I have after having a baby. Pants and dresses too long, armholes now hit in a weird place, and somehow I seem to be longer waisted than before? This means I have a ton of stuff to add to Shop My Closet. Stay tuned, there will be many new pieces being posted this week – one may be just the thing that was missing in your closet!

Speaking of this weekend, here’s a little peek into what I did (other than get dusty and gross in a very warm attic):

Saturday morning, my husband’s yoga class was earlier than usual because the space was needed later in the day for an event.  He, me, Emerson and my mom went to the nearby diner for breakfast after class.  I just wore what I was wearing around the house:

Brown and white teeAnn Taylor
Taupe chunky cardigan – Ann Taylor (no longer available)
Cutoff shorts – Gap (they used to be a pair of gauchos that I wore back in like ’06, I know there’s photos of me back in the archives wearing them like this one from ’06)
BootsDUO Boots “Bern”
Sippy Cup – Playtex 😉

Here’s my two favorite folks hanging outside the diner.

On the way to breakfast we passed a yard sale and they had an adorable retro-looking tricycle there.  We thought it would be great for Emerson who is wanting to pedal on her own like the big kids in the neighborhood.  We decided if it was still there when we got back from breakfast, it was meant to be.  It was still there!  The price was $25, but I got them down to $20 (pretty exciting since it seems online that this bike is around $99).

Emerson is still a bit small for it, but she LOVES it.  Our house is down a path from the court itself, so it’s hard for her to ride it near the house.  So we have decided for now until she’s mastered pedaling to have it be an indoor bike.  Our main floor we call a bowling alley because it’s a straight shot from the front door through the dining room to the living room.  So we have been pushing her/she has been pedaling from the living room to the front door, through the kitchen, back through the dining room and back to the living room.  She has really enjoyed checking out the workings of the bike – the chain, etc.  The bike is in near-perfect condition and so sturdy. 

Friday night and Sunday night were both nights where we hosted  friends for dinner and casual conversation.  The weather was so nice we grilled both times.  Saturday night was my husband’s turn to go out so he went to a local cafe for some beers and live music while I stayed home with Emerson and caught the White House Corespondents Dinner on CSPAN.  I know, wild and crazy life I lead!

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

How to Shop: Sticking to a Budget

The best accessory I acquired in the past decade was getting out of credit card debt.

My Experience:
When I worked in retail, I found it far too easy to shop. I was spending at least 45, usually closer to 65 hours a week at a mall. Lunch hours were spent strolling through other shops, sipping on an overpriced coffee drink, or treating myself to a very nice lunch at a nearby restaurant. As a personal shopper and visual merchandiser, I felt I had to be a perfect example of style and current fashion and made sure to have the latest shoes, makeup, accessories and always a perfect professional manicure, pedicure, haircut and highlights. When our shop was thisclose to making the day’s sales goal, they could always count on me to purchase something from the new line to get us over the hump.

When I left working at Express, they gave me my associate purchase logs. In one year, after my employee discounts, I had purchased $7,000.00 worth of their clothing. When I maxed out my Express card, I opened a Structure card and used that (hey it was the late ‘90s/early ‘00s when Structure still existed). When I maxed that out, I found out that I could use my Limited or Victoria’s Secret cards and shop at Express. I won’t even go into details about the major credit cards I used for salon treatments, binges at Sephora or Nordstrom, and many a steak salad at the Nordstrom Café.

As women, we are constantly attacked by media telling us to spend, spend, spend. The dress that will get you the guy. The moisturizer that will make you look ten years younger. The bag you must have this season. The five or ten or hundred items every woman must have in her wardrobe. And then of course, the purchases you need so that you can be as lovely as Anne or Mila or Kate. Magazines like Lucky are completely geared towards assisting women on shopping, while glossies such as Vogue and W bring couture to Middle America, encouraging everyone to feel that they too need a fancy label on their dress to be special.

As you know, I love fashion. I love clothing. I find it to be a great way to express your personality, your individuality, your passions. Fashion can also help you feel more confident and more beautiful. But no garment is worth falling into debt. A woman cannot be strong if her finances are crumbling around her.

So how do you achieve personal style while sticking to your budget?

When I got to the point where I was fearing every telephone call, thinking it was a debt collector, I knew I had to make a major change – FAST. For me, it was changing careers. I had to get away from that which was causing the debt – easy access to current fashion. However I still had mountains of debt and wasn’t willing to sacrifice style along the way.

This was when I started understanding wardrobe staples. Pieces slowly collected that could multitask and make a woman ready for any event in her life. I looked at women I knew as stylish and really examined their wardrobes. They didn’t own a lot of clothes, they seemed to wear the same things over and over. And those clothes they wore were perfect. They were well tailored, high quality, flattering. Few prints, few trendy details. Classics like cashmere turtlenecks, crisp dark jeans, white tailored shirts, simple sheath dresses, elegant black leather pumps, simple pencil skirts. They would add their own look to these staples with accessories like scarves, bold jewelry, and belts.

I thought back to the exchange students we hosted when I was in high school – how they could survive weeks in another country with just a small suitcase of clothing. Even with their small wardrobes, they were ready for any event in the US. Their wardrobes were of simple pieces that mixed and matched with one another – pieces of similar fabrics, colors, and silhouettes so they made a true collection.

I looked in my own closet – spangled knit tops to wear out to clubs that still had tags on them, a dozen cocktail dresses, four pairs of leather pants (and one pair bright red!), three pairs of tall black boots, over 20 pairs of jeans. Who the heck needs 20 pairs of jeans?

I obviously had plenty of clothes at that time, and really tried to make do with what I had. My new job required me to wear all black, so when I didn’t have the right item in my wardrobe, I stalked sale racks until I could find what worked at the lowest price. I often bought in bulk – who cares if you’re wearing the same black pants every day as long as they are clean and fit well?

Over time, I got a grip on my finances, but realized yet another new profession and a changing figure required me to shop again. I decided to keep those stylish women and my exchange students in mind. I looked through my closet with fresh eyes and decided to purge. Gone were all the spangled club tops, the evening gowns, and any clothes that didn’t fit and flatter my current frame.

However for purchasing, I needed to figure out a budget so I wouldn’t get back into a financial mess. Before I went shopping, I took a month or two to look at where my money went, and what were my priorities. Thanks to my sister who is the Excel Spreadsheet Queen, I started tracking where all my money went – that pack of gum, that latte, that issue of Marie Claire. I didn’t just note how much I spent on groceries, but what exactly I purchased. I saw that a lot of my money went to food – dining out, alcohol, and purchasing items at the grocery store that I don’t really need (hello another lip gloss) or that I can’t afford (artisanal cheeses, sushi, out of season produce). I decided to adjust my current spending before shopping to see what I could cut and still lead what I felt to be a joyful and comfortable life.

Only then, could I figure out my fashion budget. Some months, I spent that money. Other months, I saved it up so I could get something really special. I stuck to my list of essentials, and decided I would only buy fun items when I got a work bonus, birthday cash, special events. This way, I not only stayed on budget but I was even more careful with my money and those special items not only were nice to buy, but had special meaning behind them.

Each woman’s budget will be different, but it is important to first pay yourself before you do any shopping. Pay off your debt, save and invest your money. Prepare for the unexpected. Yes, a great pair of shoes can make your day, help you land a job or perfect your wardrobe but shoes won’t pay the rent if you get laid off. Shoes won’t buy you a new car when yours dies on the side of the highway. Shoes won’t give you independence and freedom.

If your budget is small, that’s actually a good thing. Small wardrobe funding requires one to do homework to find the best quality for the price, to really get to know one’s body and lifestyle and only purchase that which makes sense. Keep your wardrobe small, hard-working, classic, elegant.

Tips to Stay on Budget:

  • Have a Life Budget. No point in having a clothing budget if you are blowing your paycheck already on other items. That being said, have priorities. Clothing is probably higher on my priority list than the list of many other women. Each woman is different – some budget for world travel, some budget for books, some budget for art supplies, some budget for home renovations. It’s important to first be true to you – prioritize and then figure out where fashion fits.
  • Make a List, Check it Twice. If you have an actual written list that you carry with you, you’re less likely to get off track when you hit the mall.
  • Do Your Homework. You need a black suit? Go to the mall, try on brands, and then go home. Research online for coupons, deals, maybe the same item on eBay or in a thrift or vintage store. Never accept full price unless it is absolute perfection, absolutely necessary, and still fits your budget.
  • Stay Away from Shopping Triggers. For me, it’s malls. I only visit a major shopping mall once or twice a year because I can get lost in there and leave hundreds poorer. Maybe for you it’s Target (can always justify another tee or a $19.99 sundress but it adds up), possibly an adorable boutique in your neighborhood or maybe it’s Net-a-Porter. Whatever it is, accept your trigger and control your visits. Schedule them according to seasons – maybe only allow one visit each season, or maybe once a month.
  • Cancel the Magazine Subscriptions. I am a magazine-aholic, but I know that when I read them, I end up shopping more. Magazines do a great job of making items look amazing, and seem necessary. The most recent Vogue made me spend an hour of my life looking for a certain Brahmin bag – something I don’t need, can’t afford, but loved upon first sight. I did stop before purchasing, but if I hadn’t received that magazine, I would have never known about that orange bag and would have still lived a happy and stylish life. For some, it may be fashion blogs instead of magazines – even if it’s my blog that encourages you to shop, unsubscribe and just visit maybe once a month or every other week.
  • Play “Which Would You Rather.” Sally McGraw of Already Pretty often hosts a “sudden death” question on her Facebook page – which would you rather do – wear only white for a year, or wear your high school colors for a year, and only your school colors. It’s a good exercise for shopping – which would you rather have – that It Bag, or a sushi and sake date night with your mate once a month for a year? Which would you rather own – the perfect pair of black leather pumps, or six pairs of sandals from Payless? Which is more important, your morning Starbucks, or a pair of riding boots? Break down the price of the item and compare it to other items in your life.
  • Get Creative. No one knows you’re wearing the same black pants every day if you switch it up. One day, wear with a tucked-in blouse, the next day with a blazer and shell. Another day wear a cardigan over them and belt the cardigan to change the silhouette. Use your small wardrobe as a brain teaser – who needs Sudoku when you can take the dozen or so quality pieces in your wardrobe and make dozens of outfits from them.

A woman should get fitted for a new bra every year. She should have the perfect LBD in her wardrobe to be ready for unexpected social events. And she should be able to sleep well at night, knowing full well what is going on with her finances. The best accessory I acquired was getting out of debt – the best accessory any woman can wear is self-confidence, and confidence comes from being true to one’s self, feeling strong, and being financially solvent.

Be sure to check out the first of my How to Shop Series: An Introduction

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

Ask Allie: Stylish yet Warm Winter Coats

Dear Allie:
It’s a lot colder where I live (Minnesota) than where you are in DC and a simple wool peacoat isn’t going to cut it. How can I stay warm in winter without looking like the abominable snowman?

I need a new winter coat, and I want one that will keep me dry during wet slush and freezing rain as well as cold. I want it to have a hood and cover my butt because I walk several blocks to work. And since it’s a work coat, I don’t want it to look like a ski jacket, but be something I can wear to a business lunch without embarrassment. Does such a coat exist?

Why is it that all winter coats make women either freeze or look like The Michelin Man? Any suggestions where I can find one that will keep me warm when it’s below freezing but not make me look [ridiculous]?

My fellow women, I feel your pain. It’s not easy to find a coat that actually keeps you warm and doesn’t wreak havoc on your silhouette or personal style. Not easy… but definitely doable. Here’s a few tips to keep you looking stylish, professional, and frostbite-free:

Eddie Bauer’s Essential Down Duffle Coat is a winter classic – featuring StormRepel™ DWR finish, 550 fill Premium European Goose Down insulation, and a knee length, it will keep you warm even on the most blustery of winter days.  Available in regular, petite, tall, and women’s sizes and two classic colors.

Choose a solid color. Yesterday I was on the elevator with a woman I recognized from a different company in our building. Based on her usual attire, I assume she is a high-ranking person within her corporation. While this woman usually looks very polished and put together, this day she looked as though she was heading for the slopes. Over her taupe pantsuit and black snakeskin pumps, she was wearing a plum and beige graphic-print shiny quilted anorak.

Same coat in black, gray, or olive would have been quite appropriate for her personal style and position with the company. The print made the jacket resemble something a toddler wears in the snow and took away from the polish of the rest of her ensemble.

Flatter the figure. Not every warm coat has to make you look like the Michelin Man. In the past couple of years companies have realized that women like to have a figure even when it’s below freezing. Coats that taper at the waist, have belts, or strategically placed quilting will flatter your figure while keeping you toasty. Last year Lands’ End sent me their Luxe Down Parka, a coat that is super warm (rated -40° to -5° Fahrenheit), but has a belt to cinch the waist. I am wearing this coat today – it was below 40 degrees when I left this morning yet I felt no chill as I walked to the Metro and stood for 15 minutes waiting for a train.

The Lands End Luxe Down Parka rates -40 to -5 degrees Fahrenheit, covers the bum, yet flatters the figure.  Available in six colors, as well as petite and plus sizes.

Another way to flatter the figure and stay warm is to choose a longer coat. While I don’t encourage you to purchase one of those full-length parkas that make one look as though she is walking down the street in a sleeping bag, a coat that hits between your mid-hip to your knee will better flatter your figure than one that ends at the waist. Such length of coat will also keep the entirety of your torso warm, and insulate your bum if you have to sit on a cold bench.

Reduce shine. Many parkas these days have a metallic or ultra-shiny finish which is very modern and trendy. The thing is this finish really screams “cold weather sports.” By choosing a quilted winter coat in a matte finish, the coat looks more expensive and professional.

The Chalet Coat from Athleta stands out from the crowd with its oversized shawl  hoodie collar.  Filled with 800-count InsulEight™ down and featuring storm cuffs to keep you warm and cozy on the coldest days.  Available in three colors, regular as well as women’s sizes.

Look for a stylish detail. A faux fur-trimmed hood, a contrast belt, military details – these are all additions that can take a winter coat from being appropriate for bobsledding to being appropriate for boardrooms. Just be sure to not go overboard – one specific detail is plenty, keep the rest of the details in your accessories.

Know your fabrics. A wool coat can be extremely warm if it’s 100% wool and has an insulated lining. Wool blends usually incorporate polyester which doesn’t insulate. Many companies provide details on their site or the coat’s hang tag on what temperatures are appropriate for the coat – wool blends are usually best for temperatures over 40 degrees if without an insulated lining.

 The L.L. Bean Classic Lambswool Polo Coat is 100% wool and lined in Thinsulate so it keeps you warm in temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit.  Available in regular, plus, and women’s sizes and you can choose from five classic colors.

Even quilted coats vary in warmth. Down is usually warmer than any synthetic material, however some synthetics like Lands’ End’s PolarThin insulation are quite warm. A coat with a windproof exterior and fleece interior will be warmer than one without. Don’t assume that the puffier a coat, the warmer it will be.

Don’t rely on just the coat. While recent studies have debunked the myth that half of your body’s heat escapes through your head, heat is still lost by a bare skull. Pair your warm coat with a hat to keep your entire body feeling warm. Along with that, insulated gloves (not those knit stretch gloves from the dollar store), and a scarf to wrap around the exposed part of your neck will do wonders for keeping you warm. This seems like such common sense, but I regularly see women huddled at bus enclosures and on Metro platforms rubbing their hands to stay warm, remaining hatless so not to muss their hair.

If you are a texting machine, companies currently carry “touch” gloves that have a special pad on the index and thumb tips to let you swipe and type with ease. As for the hat head, fedoras and cloches are styles of hats that rest on the head instead of smashing down on your ‘do – while they don’t keep your ears warm they are better than nothing. A slouchy beanie is also a way to wear a hat without reuining your hairstyle – hold it in place with a Bobby pin or two to cover the tip top of your head and leave your mane free.

Those of you who live in colder climates than I, do you have any suggestions on how to remain stylish yet stay warm this winter?

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

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.

The Mall and the SAHM

This week, I ran to the mall at lunch for some retail therapy. I recently bought a pair of black trousers that had such a perfect fit, fabric and cut that I returned to get them in two other colors. While strolling the mall sipping my iced coffee, I realized that the majority of the mall was occupied by mothers with their children. Women with slings holding sleeping infants, women with strollers holding up to three kids at a time at varying ages. Women and children hand in hand at the food court, on benches, in stores. As varying were the ages of their children were the appearances of these mothers.

This mall is in a community where every economic level of person lives. On one side of the mall are million-dollar townhomes in a gated community, the other side are rent-controlled apartments. A mile up the street are McMansions and in the other direction, cozy blocks of split-level and rancher-style brick homes built in the 50s. I used to work at this mall, and saw people from all walks of life enter my store. This day of retail therapy and my years of retail management remind me that money does not equal style.

My mom often tells me about my childhood. We were not well off and she had to save up to buy clothes for herself and us kiddies. Weekends were spent at yard sales for clothes, furniture and even Christmas presents come winter. Though my mom had a limited budget, she always looked great. She learned to sew to be able to dress for less and flatter her petite frame. She scoured sale racks and when something worked, she would buy multiples in varying colors to make things simple. Since she was a Stay at Home Mom (SAHM), she needed clothes that didn’t wrinkle, could handle multiple washings and were so easy to pair with one another, she could dress in the dark. Pictures of her during this time shows her in jeweled toned knit tops, black knit trousers, black shoes and a silver pendant necklace almost every day. Not too exciting, the sleeve and pant length seemed to change with the seasons, but the premise was the same. Considering it was the 70s and 80s, my mom had a shoulder-length perm that flattered her face but was low-maintenance. You couldn’t look at her and know her income level or that I had vomited on that shirt two days prior. She was a parent of two rambunctious children, a volunteer in our schools, the editor of the church newsletter, active in the community and always overextended. Though her life may have been frazzled, her appearance was not.

It really is possible to look good and be a SAHM. And this is possible without spending much more time every day. It’s all about mindful shopping. I know I have written about this before, but this is something that is important to all women, no matter our lifestyle or responsibilities.

As I walked down the mall, I had two women in front of me pushing strollers. They were friends, chatting with each other as they window-shopped. They were both in their 30s, both of average size, both with straight blonde hair and I believe even had the same strollers. That was where the similarities ended. One was in baggy over-washed black cotton capris that ended at the widest part of her calf. She paired this with a pink, black and white horizontally striped polo shirt that hit right at her waistband and with it a pair of black flip flops. Her hair was half up in a claw clip, though most was slipping out and fanning out around her head. She looked dumpy, disheveled and her clothes looked cheap. Her friend was also in black capris, but they were of a very heavy knit and fit her frame quite well. Paired with it was a turquoise boatneck ¾ sleeve top that hit at mid-hip. On her feet were black ballet flats and her hair was held back with a black elastic headband. Her outfit was just as low-fuss and easy care, yet she looked slimmer and more polished. Both wardrobes can go in the washer and dryer. Both outfits were comfortable and easy. The difference was that the woman in the turquoise seemed more mindful of what she was purchasing.

1. Don’t buy 100% cotton unless you love to iron. It wrinkles, and even an extra 10 minutes in the dryer won’t get those wrinkles out. Also, cotton is known to fade after many washings. Cotton clothes soon look rumpled, old and worn. You don’t have the time and money to replace them, so don’t buy them in the first place.

2. If your tummy is not your best feature, then don’t showcase it. Tops that hit right at your midsection draw attention to that area. Tucked-in tops emphasize the lower abdomen, and tops that are too tight do not flatter anyone. Look for tops that hit around mid-hip. This length is slimming to the torso without making the legs look short. No need for baggy tops – they often add bulk instead of hiding it. Look for something that either skims the body or sits pretty darn close. This will show you have the figure of a woman, not a sack of potatoes.

3. Flip flops are for the beach, not the mall. I say this often on here, but flops are bad for your feet. Your arches sink, you pull muscles between your toes and they do more harm than good. They are great when hopping in the car to drop the kid off somewhere, tooling around the garden, the pool or the shore but that’s about it. To preserve your feet for your future and not look sloppy, invest in some real shoes. Ballet flats are a great alternative and can be found for less than $20 at retailers like Target. A leather sandal in tan will go with 90% of your wardrobe and be more structured and attractive than a flip flop. This change affects your personal style as well as your personal health.

4. With skirts, dresses, shorts and capris, have them end at a slim part of the leg. Your thigh and your calf are the widest parts and when clothing ends there, it gives the appearance that your entire leg is that size. Do your figure a favor and if the garment is perfect except for the length, take them to the tailor. For about $5 they can hem it to a better place.

5. Consider solids. Stripes and patterns may add variety and you may think they hide stains, but they often look cheap and quickly look dated. A solid polo in French blue can look crisp with a pair of khaki Bermudas; a striped one can make you look bigger and often looks cheaper. The best way to make your bargain piece look more expensive is to buy it in a solid color, free of garment-dyed finishes, contrast stitching or elaborate details. Go for simple and you’ll go for gold.

6. Read the label. If it says Dry Clean Only, don’t buy it unless you have time and money for such a service. If it tells you to dry flat, it’s telling you not to buy it. You don’t have the time for this, and if you don’t follow the instructions you will probably ruin the shape or finish of the garment.

7. If it’s great, buy two. As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I went and bought two more pairs of pants that I already owned and loved. They were the right length, color, fabric and fit. No one is taking a tally of how many styles of garments you own, all people notice is if you look nice. You found a great wrap top that flatters and fits and is easy care and perfection? Get it in black, pink and teal. Found a wrap dress that can hit the dryer as well as the dance floor? Get it in solid black and also in the red print. This is also true for shoes – get them in the neutral you wear most often (black or brown) and then get them in one other color (tan or a contrast shade like red pr green). If they are awesome, they are worth it.

8. Adjust your hair to your life. If you don’t have time to blow out your hair every morning, then get a cut that allows you to wash and wear. If you have bad hair days, you are human. Work with it with flattering accessories. Claw clips seem like a quick fix but look sloppy more often than not. Headbands are hip right now – great time to stock up. Also nothing is wrong with a low ponytail; side parts are flattering on rounder faces and a little hairspray on your brush or comb will help battle flyaways.

9. Buy a new bra. Whether or not you breastfed, your breasts will not be the same as they were pre-baby even if your waistline is. With any weight changes, your breasts change as well. Nothing makes you look firmer and fitter than a supportive bra. Also nothing makes you feel more like a woman than to have a gorgeous red satin and lace number under your standard tee shirt.

10. Keep the active wear for the gym. Knit shorts, baggy tee shirts from a vacation destination, matching hoodies and pants are not appropriate for “the real world.” It is just as easy to buy a feminine cut of tee shirt than to buy an oversized one.

11. Don’t shy from a skirt or dress. If it hits around the knees, you can still crawl on the floor and run around without trouble. A skirt is always more polished, and a great tee-shirt style dress is easier to put on in the morning than a whole outfit. The one pictured is less than $40 by Jones New York, I found it at Nordstrom.

12. Show your personality.You are more than a mom, you are an amazing and vital woman.Wear your favorite colors, buy a leopard print shoe or a bold necklace.Small touches take your standard day wear from uniform to amazing with little work.



Some companies I recommend to find beautiful, comfortable and durable garments:

      • Lands End – I love this place. I buy knits from there that never shrink, fade or pill. They have petite, tall and plus sizes and offer fit guides to ensure you get the right size. I recommend you use this guide for many of their pieces run big. Best part? Their prices are very reasonable!
      • Chico’s – Fabulous colors, fun accessories and lots of fabrics that resist wrinkles and fading. Do note their sizing is a bit different from most companies and they do not carry plus sizes. As with Lands End, they often run a tad big.
      • J. Crew – J. Crew is the Mecca for pretty solid colored tops. Flattering cuts of polos and tees, high-quality cashmere, cotton and wool sweaters, and all with flattering yet not risqué necklines and cuts. J. Crew often runs small, especially in their bottoms but the quality is good, the cut is usually flattering and their return policy is fabulous. The price may be a bit higher than you’re used to, but the quality usually makes it worth the investment (I am still wearing J. Crew skirts and sweaters from a decade ago).
      • I.N.C. by Macy’s – You may find this a strange choice but if you regularly visit this section you would understand. They carry petites and plus sizes, they always have the most gorgeous colors and a large selection of pants, shorts and capris for the season. I.N.C. does a fabulous job of taking what is on the runway and making is realistic and wearable for every woman. They carry prints, but also a plethora of solids every season in some high-quality knits and other washable fabrics.
      • Boden – Feminine cuts, pretty colors, and great basics for any wardrobe. Do note this is a UK site so their sizes run differently than the us (they have a handy fit guide on the site). They don’t have many extended sizes, though some trousers are offered in long lengths. This company has mastered simple elegance with their basic style.


Ask Allie: Fashion Advice for a Petite SAHM

Dear Allie,
I am currently rocking the awful “mom” look aka yoga pants and huge t-shirts and I am so over it! Could you direct me to a few classic pieces to start my wardrobe? I am a stay at home mom with two under two, so I need a practical look. I live in Ohio where the weather is always changing. I am very petite (5’ and less than 100 lbs). I also have trouble finding comfortable shoes that look stylish and fit my size 5 feet. Any advice?
– Megan

Dear Megan,
I am so glad you realize that one can be an active mom while maintaining style. I recently wrote an article on about new mom fashion, but will offer some basics that should get you on track without looking like a mom, or like a college student:

Dark Straight Jeans
A dark straight jean is classic, can be worn any season of the year, looks more polished than lighter washes, and doesn’t need a fancy label to look chic. Having a straight leg means this jean should work with most any length or style of top in your wardrobe – simple tanks and tees, longer tunics, blazers and cardigans, blouses tucked in or left untucked. Add a bit of spandex so that you won’t be showing your undergarments or cutting into your stomach when crawling on the floor after your little one.

The Lee Slender Secret 5-pocket Jean is a classic style that is great for women who may have a bit of that baby pooch still left. Oprah recently rated them as a top jean, and reviews state that these jeans in petite are not needing of hemming for those who are 5’ tall. $29.99


Levi’s 512 jean is a straight, classic style that is made for a woman’s shape. Their Perfectly Slimming 512 Jean has the Lycra to keep your body looking smooth, and giving you the flexibility you need to keep up with your children. Again, this jean is rated great for the really petite woman – they run short so you won’t have to spend an arm and a leg on alterations. $40.00

A Versatile Trench
When the weather is chilly one day, hot the next, and rainy the third it’s hard to be prepared. A simple trench or mac in a water-resistant fabric that is lined will keep you looking stylish yet comfortable on those in-between days.

The Sunshower Coat from Lands End is a favorite – it’s a classic style, breathable, and wrinkle-resistant. Lands End is known for their quality and service so you know you will get a great piece that will give you years of wear. Khaki is a safe bet, but a more memorable color like their Wine Grape will look great with neutrals, make your skin glow, and will give you a sunnier outlook on the day, even if the sky is cloudy. $99.50

Macy’s Style&Co brand offers great style for a reasonable price. This double-breasted trench has a shorter length that won’t dwarf your petite frame, and the soft sage color will look great with neutrals, but be a fresh change from beige and black outerwear. $79.00

Solid-colored Seasonally-appropriate Tops
Toss the oversized tees and stiff striped button-downs. It’s easy to be comfortable, get dressed in an instant yet look great if you have an arsenal of flattering, well-fitting knits in your size and colors you adore. Wash on the gentle cycle, line dry and these pieces can give you years of great wear. Look for pieces with 5% spandex or more – they will be more likely to keep their shape, not need to be ironed, and maintain their color longer than 100% cotton tops. For winter, I love merino wool because it acts like a knit in keeping its shape and flattering the figure, and can also be washed on the gentle cycle.

Ann Taylor LOFT is a fave of many petite women thanks to their extensive collection, reasonable prices, and truly petite sizing. Their Petite Twisted Boatneck Tee is a fashionable version of the comfy tee shirt. The neckline adds drama to a casual day look, and would fantastic under a cardigan or casual twill blazer. Great colors like Balsam Green and Ocean Depths will complement dark denim, khaki, white, gray, and black. $19.50

I love Nordstrom’s Caslon line – great wardrobe basics of great quality. The petite Caslon Ballet Neck Tee is a feminine and flattering twist on a simple knit top – the ¾ sleeves make it wearable almost year-round and a scoop neck is lovely on most every woman’s figure. $24.00

A Casual Blazer
A great way to jazz up simple tees and jeans is with a casual blazer. If it’s unlined and has a bit of stretch, it’s as comfortable as a hoodie but with far more polish.


Ann Taylor LOFT’s Petite Urban Twill Blazer is a great choice. The grosgrain trim gives it a unique, higher-end look, and in navy it would go with most any color tank or tee in your closet. $69.99

The striped blazer from Banana Republic would look amazing with neutral tanks, tees, and bottoms. It would also look quite chic with a pop of color underneath – try candy pink, blood orange, or apple green. The standup collar elongates the frame, making you look taller. $149.99

A Trendy Knit
Right now, striped tees are a hot look – this is a great way to add some variety and current fashion to your wardrobe without looking passé in a season. Striped tees look great with a simple denim or twill skirt, under a blazer, with shorts, capris, jeans, and even dressed up with a fuller skirt or with trousers. Add a bit of contrast with a turquoise or coral necklace, or a cardigan in a color like leaf green, tangerine, or yellow.

This black and cream striped boatneck from Lauren by Ralph Lauren isn’t your ordinary tee shirt – the silver buttons and boatneck make it a refined piece that would look great with jeans, and also with a white twill skirt for spring outings. $59.50


I own the Striped Sailor Tee from Ann Taylor and adore it – the scoopneck is flattering, the knit heavy and durable, the epaulets give a bit more style and panache. It comes in three colors. $38.00

A Not-so Little Black Dress
I have a black wrap dress from Old Navy that I bought years ago on clearance. I wear it with leggings and flats around the house, with heels for a wedding or funeral, with tall boots to work. It’s so versatile, and the matte jersey is a fabric that stretches, gives, washes easily, and looks timeless and seasonless.

The Petite Gemma Wrap dress from Banana Republic is a great choice – ¾ sleeves work year round, and a true wrap style means you can cinch the waist for a more custom fit. $98.00


Merona for Target has really come a long way in the past year – the quality has improved immensely, and the style is quite on-trend yet classic. The Merona Petite Faux Wrap Knit Dress is a great choice – the empire waist hides any post-baby pooch, and makes it dress up or down with ease. $20.98

It often impossible to find size 5 footwear in stores, however the selection is pretty impressive online. Sites like Nordstrom and Zappos have a great selection of smaller sizes that are still stylish and comfortable. I recommend investing in:

  • A sandal with a low wedge heel (more comfortable than heels, able to wear with shorts or with a dress).  The “Amber” wedge-heel sandals from Munro is a great summer choice – uber comfortable, thin elegant straps, will look great with skirts and dresses of all lengths, as well as shorts, trousers, and cropped pants. Munro is known for comfort and quality – these shoes should be wearable even for a day of sightseeing or a trip to Disney World. $179.95
  • A pair of ankle boots you can slip on with jeans and a sweater (low heel, brown or black depending on your wardrobe – more versatile than flats as that they can dress up and also be waterproofed for rainy days).  The “Wisteria” by Merrell has a wedge heel which is comfortable when standing or walking for a long period of time, but can still be paired with casual trousers. They get great reviews for comfort. $140.00
  • A pair of tall riding boots (wear with dresses, over jeans and you will be amazed how they will transform wardrobe basics into something stylish – waterproof them for more versatility).  These riding boots from La Canadiene are so classic – waterproof Italian leather, moisture-wicking lining, memory foam insole, low heel, elegant styling. These are boots you buy now and will still be wearing a decade from now. $256.00
  • A pair of simple black leather pumps for those times when you do need to dress up (they work with pants, dresses, and even with your dark jeans for a Date Night or drinks with your girl friends).  The Nuncio pump from Nine West is a classic pump that will look elegant year-round and years from now. 2.5” heel, elongated toe, and available in narrow and wide widths. $69.95

For additional petite inspiration, check out:

Super Sale Time at Lands’ End

Have you been to Lands’ End lately? They are having some phenomenal pieces on sale! I recently went through their Clearance and found some great deals that will work now, for Spring, and as preparation for next fall and winter. As always, Lands’ End has a great return policy making it easy to try at home, and shipping is free for orders over $50. On top of this, they are right now having 30% off one full-priced item so you can also score on one of their gorgeous New Arrivals (Promotion Code FAVORITE and PIN 31415601). But back to the sale selection… my favorites on clearance:

Seeing Stripes

Lands’ End is a fantastic resource for well-made and classic striped tops. Here’s a few I found at amazing prices that can be worn now, through the spring, and will likely be a favorite for many seasons to come.

  • Plus Size 3/4-sleeve Mid-weight Jersey Sport Stripe Tee: Available in two color combinations, customer review says it’s great quality and a nice weight. $24.99
  • Petite 3/4-sleeve Heavyweight Jersey Engineered Stripe Sailor Tee: In blue and white and two shades of berry pink, this classic boatneck will likely be a wardrobe favorite.
  • Petite 3/4-sleeve Boatneck Sailor Tee: I have this shirt, I bought it several years ago and it still looks like new. Available in two different color combinations. $9.99
  • Plus Size Breton Top: A beautiful classic striped knit in two great color combinations, the details are what makes this top. Gold buttons at the shoulder, a weight heavy enough to handle layering (as seen in the picture) and an uber flattering neckline make this top look far more expensive than its sale price. $19.99
  • ¾ Sleeve Button Boatneck Top: Another great knit, this one in two classic and three statement-making stripes. Buttons at the shoulder and a mid-hip length will look great now and come spring and summer with everything from jeans to ankle pants to shorts. Regular, Petite, and Plus sizes. $19.99 – $22.99

Cozy Coats

This is a great time of year to buy a winter coat. So many styles are on sale, but there’s still a decent selection. It’s smart to purchase a classic style that will still look chic next winter even if the trends change.

  • Boiled Wool Parka: Available in Regular, Petite, and Tall sizes, this is a great versatile coat for warmer climates or that period of time between fall and winter or winter and spring. With clean lines and a longer length, this coat looks chic with jeans but will also look great with your business suit or cocktail dress. I love the Neptune Blue featured, but it also comes in three other great neutrals. $79.99
  • Boiled Wool Jacket: This one is shorter with statement buttons making it a more casual alternative for fall weather, or can also be a jacket to be worn inside for the office. $59.99
  • Shimmer Down Parka: Available in Regular, Petite, Tall, and Plus sizes, this coat is stylish, flattering, and rated warm to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. I can vouch for its flattering fit as I have two different friends with completely different shapes who have this coat and look phenomenal in it. Removable hood with removable faux fur trim and a water-repellant finish, this coat is available in four different colors. $119.99
  • Patterned Coastal Rain Coat: You won’t mind gray skies with this cheery floral waterproof coat. Limited sizes available, but there’s still selection in Regular, Petite, and Tall. $54.97
  • Luxe Wool Pea Coat: A classic silhouette, a luxe blend of wool and cashmere, seven colors to choose from, and sizes available in Regular, Petite, Tall and Plus. Who could ask for anything more? If you’re not sure, check out the raving reviews online for its gorgeous expensive look and quality. $104.99
  • Down Vest: One of the best buys I made in the past year was a down vest; I wear it with a plaid flannel, skinny jeans, and tall boots on weekends and wear it over a running shirt when walking early in the morning. I’ve also layered it over fleeces and under parkas for additional warmth. This one is available in 11 colors, Regular, Petite, Tall, and Plus sizes. $18.99

Sweater Weather

As I type this, I’m wearing a Lands’ End sweater! I love their sweaters – so well made, so many great colors to choose from, and silhouettes that transcend trends.

  • Cotton Cable V-Neck Cardigan: Once it went on sale many of the original reviews left the site, but they were positive. Some don’t like the buttons but I think they’re pretty basic and at this price you can easily switch them out for a custom look. 11 colors available in Regular, Petite, Tall, and Plus sizes. $24.99
  • Classic Cashmere Cardigan: Lands’ End is a great resource for quality and reasonably priced cashmere. Come sale time you can really score big getting cashmere for the price of a cheaper fabric. Seven gorgeous colors and Regular, Petite, and Plus sizes available. $89.99
  • Year Round Cashmere Balletneck Sweater: More cashmere at a great price! I love the silhouette of this sweater, the mid-hip length makes it work with so many different widths of pants and the wider neckline is uber flattering on its own or layered over a button-front shirt. $59.99
  • Printed Supima Cardigan: Leopard, Zebra, Dots, Paisleys and more are available in this classic cotton cardigan that can work now and into the warmer months. Regular, Petite, Tall, and Plus available. $29.99 – $34.99
  • Cotton Cable Turtleneck: This classic sweater will keep you warm and work with so many pieces in your wardrobe, from boyfriend jeans and booties to a pencil skirt and pumps. Nine colors in Regular, Petite, and Plus sizes. $24.99

Dashing Dresses

Lands’ End has really upped their style factor in past seasons and its especially clear with their dress department. Great fabrics, rich colors, and flattering silhouettes makes Lands’ End a great place for summer frocks, workplace sheaths, and even lovely dresses for social events.

  • Sleeveless Ponte Sheath Dress with Pockets: This gorgeous blue will work year-round; right now pair with a cardigan or blazer (or use as a jumper and slip a turtleneck or crisp white shirt underneath) and come spring and summer wear alone. Available in Regular, Petite, and Plus sizes, customers rave about the fit and quality of this dress. $34.99
  • Sleeveless Patterned Ponte Welt Pocket Dress: The same great dress as the blue, but in two gorgeous prints. Regular, Petite, and Plus sizes. $39.99 – $59.99
  • Sleeveless Ponte Dress: Yet another of the same dress, but gosh the print of this one is ah-may-zing! Regular, Petite, Tall and Plus sizes available. $35.99
  • Sleeveless Cotton Modal Fit and Flare Dress: I borrowed this dress last summer from Gwynnie Bee and was uber tempted to buy it from them, but then realized my sister owns it and too many times we show up at the same event in the same outfit. So buy it for me, okay? Limited sizes available and each size in different colors, but there is still selection in Regular, Petite, Tall, and Plus. Tip from me, if you’re between regular and petite you may prefer petite. $29.99.
  • Squareneck Cotton Modal Dress: Again, read the reviews, they are stellar for this figure-flattering frock. This is a dress that can dress up and down with a quick change of accessories. Three fun prints at the sale price and available in Regular, Petite, and Plus sizes. $29.99
  • Knit Shirred Surplice Dress: I adore dresses like this; they’re great for travel as they roll up to nothing and don’t wrinkle. Dress up or down with a switch of accessories. Four colors and available in Regular, Petite, Tall, and Plus sizes. $24.99
  • Plus Size Lace Column Dress: A gorgeous statement-making color that can be worn to a wedding with pearls and nude heels, or dressed up for evening with a sparkly belt and strappy heels. Dark accessories for fall or winter, lighter for spring and summer. $89.99

Closet Classics

Lands’ End has great wardrobe classics and a few of them are on a great sale right now.

  • Matte Jersey Skirt: I think a skirt like this is so versatile and flattering. Matte jersey is travel friendly, dresses up and down easily, doesn’t cling in the summer heat, and has that perfect bit of stretch. Wear now with a turtleneck sweater and come summer with a fitted tank and hip belt. Regular, Petite, and Plus sizes available. $19.99
  • Thermaskin™ Heat Microfiber Tights: A matte finish that looks polished and professional for the office and a fabric that is microbial and keeps you warm on the coldest days of the year. $9.99
  • Landmark Mini Fontana Lady Bag: A classic shape that makes for a great leather crossbody all months out of the year, and the three colors available will make a great statement against neutrals, denim and other cheery colors. Monogramming available. $69.99
  • Bianca Ballet Flats: I don’t find most ballet flats comfortable because the lack of support and structure. However, I have two pairs of Lands’ End flats because they are so comfortable. This classic ballet flat comes in 13 different colors and patterns. $22.99
  • Bailey Embellished Ballet Flats: If you aren’t comfortable in heels, you don’t have to wear them, not even to more formal affairs. A pair of embellished flats can look great with an LBD or peeking out of a pair of work trousers. Available in three colors, though I am partial to Gunmetal. $39.97

Fashion Undressed: NYFW Trends Redux and Reinvented

alison santighian for wardrobe oxygen

It’s Fashion Week season; New York kicks it off. A week in the Big Apple, and show after show, row after row, model after model. There’s hair, there’s makeup. There are lines wrapped around the corner, eager – but pretending to be bored with it all – faces jostling for a position close enough to the runway to see…and be seen.

There’s a lot of hullabaloo in the media about the hullabaloo. There’s question about what’s more important to the fashion industry, the flashbulbs or the designs. There’s question about the models. There’s question about whether ready-to-wear really is.

As a 41-year-old woman with a full time job and a family, even one who loves Fashion for the art that it is, I sometimes question the runway’s place in reality. The runway’s connection to me may be tentative, but it’s tentative like a beautiful gossamer thread. It’s tentative like a stunning flash of lightning I didn’t quite catch.

Then, those flashes and threads translate to market. Some disappear completely, ending up “runway only.” Other elements become those repeated colors, patterns, shapes, and structures we’ll see copied in store after store the next season.

There were plenty of very wearable designs on the New York runways last week: pretty trousers, elegant dresses, and loads and loads of athletic-inspired looks. Next fall, if retail buyers hold true to runways’ pushes, there are a few trends that have held for a few seasons, and one trend I’m curious to see how it will translate to real life.

The 70s: Keep your bow blouses, boho patterns, and working woman knits. To update them for next fall, though, think about opposites: go monochromatic or use simple contrast – and don’t even think about feathering your hair: sleek, sleek, sleek. Which for me, a mama who never, ever, ever gets to wash and dry her hair properly? Yeah. I’m happy the simple sleek ‘do will be back.

AW15 RTW Trends 70sJason Wu, Anna Sui, Marc Jacobs, images via

Gym Clothes: Though New York is notoriously casual compared to other fashion weeks, athletic wear (which we welcomed gleefully in the dressy, comfy sweatpant for this past fall) still dominated. Next winter, dig out those turtlenecks and tennis togs. So you don’t look like you’re heading to gym class, though, pick one athletic element in a bold color and temper it with a simple, sleek, and grownup choice like the pencil skirt in the first look here.

AW15 RTW Trends AthleticBand of Outsiders, Lacoste, Katie Gallagher, images via

Borrowed from the Boys: For the last few seasons, menswear has been all over, and it’s not going away – for good reason. Most of us won’t pull a tie out of the closet each morning, but we will absolutely put on a blazer. Boys wear jackets daily because putting on a tailored jacket ups the ante immediately. It remains to be seen, though, whether retailers will copy the runways with the barely cropped ankle pants or whether they’ll go slouchy. Both are much more doable than it seems at first glance, so maybe we’ll get a choice in the stores.

AW15 RTW Trends MenswearThom Browne, Tommy Hilfiger, DKNY, images via

The 2015 Bustle: The most intriguing trend out of New York, though, was the bustle’s reappearance. Last popular in, oh, let’s go for the turn of the 20th century, the bustle’s whole purpose is to add distinct shape to a woman’s hips and rear end. Don’t run screaming yet. Remember the peplum? Not one “regular woman” I know, myself included, thought I could pull it off, and so many of us ended up wearing some version of the “hip flip” I never want to see them again. The bustle, though, has an elegance and curve that could be – depending on how it makes it into stores – at once ghostly and contemporary. It can curl, it can flip. It can ride at the waist or sit just below the hip, flirting openly with structure or hiding shyly in a dress’ drape.

AW15 RTW Trends The BustleMarc Jacobs, Creatures of the Wind, Carolina Herrera, images via

Time will certainly tell if and how these trends make it into our hands next August (because we all love shopping for colder weather in sweltering heat). There are a slew of steps between the runways and stores. There’s media influence, and there are massive market conventions at which retail buyers will pick the pieces manufacturers will then produce for you and me to take home. In the end, most of us will continue to wear what we have already, and some color or pattern might catch our eye. It might be in a magazine or in a store window, but we’ll find it pretty. And then we’ll remember: we saw it on the runway.

Alison SantighianBy day, Alison Santighian is a contractor for the federal government, using her super powers to serve our country, but by night (after bedtime for her “Beans” now 7 and almost 5), she pines after the “it” factor. Alison and “H” (better known as #besthusbandever) don’t believe badass has an expiration date, so they hit concerts, shows, restaurants, and openings across the globe. Alison also writes for Glass Magazine, adding a business woman’s eye to fashion week reviews and style features. Follow her on Twitter.