Search Results for: label/why I write about fashion

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!

Plus Sized Work Attire Options

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook


No Apologies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday’s Tip – Making the Clearance Rack Your Friend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What I Wore: Samey Samey

Wardrobe Oxygen wearing a Vince Camuto Blazer, Jag Paley Bootcut Jeans and a Rebecca Minkoff Mini MAC Wardrobe Oxygen wearing JAG Jeans Paley Bootcut with a Vince Camuto blazer and Nine West pumps Wardrobe Oxygen wearing a black boyfriend blazer, gray v-neck tee, and white jeans with a leopard bag Jacket: Vince Camuto (plus version) | Tee: Old Navy | Jeans: Paley Bootcut c/o JAG Jeans (plus version) | Shoes: Nine West | Bag: Rebecca Minkoff (similar, similar) | Bracelets: Had forever (similar), c/o Lifetherapy | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

My high school geometry teacher used to use the phrase, “Samey Samey” quite often and to this day I often use it for things that are similar. Thursday morning I pulled this look together, the stars (or should I say schedules) were aligned and we were able to hop outside for a couple quick photographs before I had to leave for the office. I liked this look, I felt it was very me. Well yeah it IS me because I wore the same darn thing on the blog in May! Not only that…

Wardrobe Oxygen UniformOutfit 1Outfit 2 | Outfit 3 | Outfit 4

Two of the outfits above are from 2013.  Two years ago I was sporting the same bag, the same silver pumps, the same sunglasses, the same bracelet and necklace, even the same Old Navy Vintage V-neck tee shirt!  Not only that, the Gap Sexy Boyfriend jeans in those two 2013 pictures were still in my wardrobe until a month ago when the crotch blew out and I just got in the mail a replacement pair.  To say I have a certain look would be an understatement; this is a uniform and honestly, that’s not a bad thing.

Life is short, it’s a waste of time to constantly reinvent the wheel or reinvent your style if you know what works.  The black blazer in this outfit post I just bought this summer; I own this blazer in ivory crepe and pale pink (and used to have in neon yellow and regret selling it).  I was looking in my closet and realized while I have black blazers, none of them are classic cuts.  The pink jacket has done me well, it survived NYC, buttons comfortably, is a fabric that works with office trousers or a pair of jeans… why waste time trying to find something different?  I care about style, I love fashion, and I think how you look is important, but being – existing – living – enjoying life trumps it all.  Get out of your closet and get out into the world!

Age is But a Number

Age is but a number.

Really people, it is. It’s not a euphemism that allows adults to wear Care Bear shirts and skip across the parking lot to Starbucks, but it isn’t a steadfast bar where you have to adjust your life to fit it.

I spent my lunch in Borders, pouring over fashion magazines while enjoying an iced coffee. Bazaar (which ya’ll know is one of my very favorite fashion magazines) had an article about Diane von Furstenberg (who is one of my very favorite designers).

Diane von Furstenberg is 60, beautiful, sexy and confident. She shows skin, wears her hair long, attends interviews with a face free of makeup and wears garments many would say should be reserved for her younger clients.

All of this, yet the woman exudes amazing style, confidence and class. Why? She isn’t adhering to a number, but to her self. She knows what works and what doesn’t by having a good relationship with her body and her mind. She doesn’t feel that since she hit a certain age bracket she now needs to dress in Chanel suits and sensible heels. Look at the pictures above – that is not “typical” attire for a woman in her 60s yet on von Furstenberg, it is perfect and stylish.

My friend is 29 and used to be a manager of a Talbots store. She was always amazed at the type of people who bought the different styles of clothing the company carried. It was as though once a woman hit 40, she felt as though she must own a pair of cropped capris with embroidered palm trees all over them. Pink polo shirts, quirky capris and uber-comfortable conservative slides and sandals seemed to be the expected uniform of that age, especially if she had children. She would suggest alternatives that seemed to fit the person’s figure and personality better – soft knits, shirtdresses, stronger colors but they usually refused, saying they were too old for anything but the standard conservative prep uniform.

Now for some, this look is cute and appropriate. However for most, it is stupid and well… corny. It’s the same with the over-50 set who feels she is now expected to dress completely in the Chico’s Travelers collection. The closet is full of slinky black pieces that drape all over, pulled together with an artistic and bold necklace or hip belt. Again, fabulous look on some, but totally wrong on many.

When my mom was growing up, she remembered very specific styles that every female HAD to have in her closet. A charcoal piped blazer, a circle skirt, a pencil skirt, a tucked in white blouse. All pieces that looked horrific on her petite curvy frame. Luckily, style is not so rigid anymore, and one can truly walk a mall (or surf the Internet) and find pieces that fit one’s personal style AND figure.

Age-appropriate dressing usually has to do with how much skin you are exposing. The thing is, a 55-year old woman who is a marathon runner and yoga enthusiast can better carry off a little silk sundress and strappy heels than a 21-year old woman who has a few more curves. A curvy woman in her 20s often has firmer arms and décolletage than a woman in her 40s, and then can more easily carry off a strapless top with a plunging neckline. So it’s not as much about how much skin you are showing, but what type of skin you are showing.

In my 20s, I was less concerned with my torso showing and often wore tops that hit right at the waistband. However I was less comfortable with my upper body and chose short sleeves over straps and wore higher necklines so not to expose any cleavage. I wore looser pants feeling that my bum was too round, and never wore skirts for thinking my legs were too thick. Now in my 30s, I wear lower necklines to elongate my body and accentuate my curves; I love skirts and dresses because they show off my feminine shape and find that slimmer fitting jeans make me look smaller and taller. It’s not about changing my wardrobe because I hit a new decade in my life, but changing my wardrobe according to my relationship with my current body, my lifestyle, my career.

There are some style I am drawn to but choose not to wear because of my lifestyle and profession more than my age (gosh if I was independently wealthy I think I may get a Mohawk and re-pierce my nose) but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be worn by anyone. I have a former coworker who is in her 40s. She loves working out and has a great toned body, a short spiky black hairdo, wears a lot of eyeliner, sports a few tattoos and looks amazing in jeans and a ribbed tank. Because of her personality and her lifestyle (musician and makeup artist) it doesn’t look foolish, it doesn’t look as though she is attempting to be younger, she seems comfortable in her skin and expressing her personality. I have an old college friend who is the opposite. She is 30 years old, wears very conservative and subtle attire. She looks at home in knee-length tweed skirts, cashmere turtlenecks, conservative suits and clothes often associated with a teacher or librarian. She is never without her pearls or her classic style of Coach purse and always looks confident, feminine and chic. She works in a conservative field and even in college when we attended frat parties, she arrived in crisp khakis, a button-down shirt and loafers. No one mocked her because this is what made her… well her!

One can be in beautiful clothing yet still not be considered well dressed. One can dress appropriately for her age group, but still look inappropriate. The only way to truly achieve style is to know yourself. A good way is by answering the questions below, then reading them aloud. You may be surprised by your answers…

  • Who is your favorite artist?
  • Why?
  • Who is your favorite musician?
  • Why?
  • Looking at all the colors in a box of Crayola crayons, what color are you drawn to?
  • Why?
  • What wardrobe item from your past do you remember most fondly?
  • Why?
  • What female celebrity’s style do you admire most?
  • Why?
  • Where would you go for a dream vacation?
  • Why?
  • What color did you want to paint your childhood bedroom?
  • Your first residence when you moved out on your own?
  • What is your favorite movie or play?
  • Why?
  • If you had a free weekend, what would you do with it?
  • When you are in a meeting or seminar, do you ever doodle or write during the lecture?
  • If so, what?
  • What is your favorite holiday?
  • Why?
  • What is your favorite food?
  • What are the five most important things in your life (things being actual things, people, beliefs, anything)?
  • What item in your current wardrobe makes you feel:
  • Beautiful?
  • Fun?
  • Powerful?
  • Feminine?
  • Boring?
  • Uncomfortable?

You and your best friend could answer these questions and both have completely different answers. Your favorite shopping buddy, the one you always borrow clothes from will most likely have different answers from you. This is why though you may have similar frames and similar tastes, a dress will look great on her but not quite right on you. This is why a dress can seem slutty on one woman, and seem chic on another, even though they are the same age and size.

Take your answers and make them into a paragraph, a short story about you and only you. This is who you are, not who you are trying to portray, who you attempt to be at work, what your social groups expect from you.

Think about a woman you know who you think has great style. Why? Is it just because she accessorizes well, or is it what she accessorizes with? Is it the clothing, or the combination of clothing and her shape and personality? Often times, we are attracted to those who have style that is flattering to their figure, but also their personality. We admire the woman at church who always seems so feminine and pulled together. She wears soft colors and fabrics that match her sweet and gentle demeanor. We admire our hairdresser who wears combat boots, a vintage dress and a blue streak in her hair, yet walks down the street as though she is Grace Kelly. We notice the corporate powerhouse at the intersection on her Blackberry. Her perfect blonde highlights, the expertly tailored gray pantsuit accented by amazing snakeskin heels. Her whole demeanor exudes confidence and strength. Imagine what they would write in their short story, and think how your appearance is assisting you with your story.

Yes, one should respect social norms – don’t attend a wedding in a strapless bright red leather mini dress, don’t attend a cocktail party in cargo shorts, don’t go to a client meeting in flip flops and yoga pants. Also respect your personal beliefs – if you feel that as a woman you should and should not wear certain things, then by of course adhere to that – this is what makes up your personal story. But outside of that, respecting your figure, your lifestyle, your personality… those are the rules to having great style. Just ask Diane von Furstenberg!

Review and Giveaway: LiveTheLook

Here at Wardrobe Oxygen, I write about personal style instead of fashion trends. I believe in dressing for who you are, not what is on the runways. Usually, this goes against many of the fun promotions, shopping programs, and sample boxes that are popular right now. So when Live The Look contacted me and told me how their site lets you shop by your personal style, I was very intrigued.

When you visit Live The Look, you’re asked to complete a questionnaire. What wardrobe staples you’re looking to style, what style aesthetics you gravitate towards, what size you wear. From this information, Live The Look creates a collection of items that should appeal to you. But don’t worry, you’re still able to easily shop from any of the style aesthetics. As for what Live The Look offers, it’s also different from similar sites. Live The Look carefully curates collections of artisanal, unique, and quality accessories and separates, most made in the United States. Necklaces that will ask people where you got them, sunglasses that stand out from the crowd, novelty tee shirts that are mini works of art, pieces made by indie artists, and unique yet very wearable clothing.

As someone who is on the cusp of plus size clothing, I was disheartened to see the sizing stopped at XL/12, but was pleased by the extensive amount of accessories available. Live The Look offered me a credit to take their program out for a spin, and I chose to use it for The Destroyed Denim T-shirt (which I envisioned with my leather pleated skirt now, and with white jeans come spring), and the Flourish Sterling Silver Initial Necklace (I’ve always wanted one, and I loved that it came in silver and was a fancy yet readable letter). I loved that each product page gave a story about the brand, showing how LiveTheLook isn’t offering cheap mass-produced pieces, but quality crafted artisanal pieces from indie designers. I also loved how most of the designers and artists were based in the USA, made their products in America, and some even donated a portion of their profits to charity.

My pieces came quickly, shipped directly from the designers. The necklace came first, and it reminded me of an Etsy purchase, packed in a cute little gift box and tied with a red ribbon. I’ve worn the necklace by Juan Pablo Arango Cano almost daily since receiving it, you can see it on my Instagram and in this outfit post. The tee shirt from The Squad came a couple days later, and to be honest, I was half expecting me to hate it and not know how to write this post. Oh I was so wrong, this tee shirt is UH-MAY-ZING (see here on my Instagram account). How they can make a tee shirt heavy yet silky and drapey is beyond me. And it doesn’t look like acid washed denim, but is a dark gray-blue color that is perfectly distressed and perfectly drapey and makes me understand why some tee shirts cost so much. Not only that, it even came with a little evil eye pendant as an added gift. Again, it was packed in a small business-like way with tissue paper and personal touches like a notecard.

You can learn more about Live The Look by visiting their site (go ahead and sign up with an account, you won’t have to enter a credit card or anything, but take a tour around), visiting them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Fancy, or visit their blog.

Like what you read? Well one lucky Wardrobe Oxygen reader will receive a $150 credit to Live The Look!

One Wardrobe Oxygen reader will win a $150 credit to  This giveaway is open only to residents of the United States. You must be 18 years old or older to enter. Giveaway runs from January 20, 2014 to February 2, 2014 at 11:59pm ET.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Blogging Behind the Scenes: How I Make Money Blogging

Blogging Behind the Scenes - How I Make Money Blogging by Wardrobe OxygenBlogging is this weird secret society where everyone likes to show how well they hustle and show how successful they’ve become, but rarely admit what extent of success they’ve achieved or how they’re achieving that success. A monetized blog is a business; businesses are audited, often public, and should be ready to open their ledgers to show how they are running an honest business. While I don’t find it proper to talk specifics in regard to money, since you readers are the reason why I make any money off Wardrobe Oxygen, I think you should know how it happens.

I know some of you aren’t interested in the business behind blogging and this will be a long post so I am going to have a jump so it won’t fill the whole front page.

[Read more…]

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?

Ask Allie: Personal Style with a Health Condition

I have multiple health conditions which make dressing nicely difficult. The two hardest are that 1. I can’t wear pants (or tights!) of any type and 2. I can only wear a few “comfort” shoes. Mainly Algeria Palomas. I can get by with some cute Merrell flats or Uggs for a very short time, if I’m not going to be on my feet much. That’s literally it for footwear. I am also a true plus size – size 20, and have trouble fastening very small buttons. So I tend to default to this skirt (because I freeze a LOT, my skirts are almost all this long), a tee or sweater, and my Palomas or Uggs depending on snow or not. Oh, and a cane. I desperately want to look more stylish but have no idea HOW with my limitations!

Style doesn’t come from being able to wear a certain silhouette, brand, or garment. Style comes from creating a look that works with your lifestyle and your personality. When I read your email I thought of my friend Amethyst who I featured in my True Fashionista series. She has foot issues and prefers long skirts and comfortable, flowing fabrics but she has a very defined personal style and aesthetic. Her style may not be for you, but she shows how you can create style no matter your personal situation.

While I regularly mention statement shoes and how a certain silhouette, heel height, or color can complete a look, I don’t believe a woman HAS to have a certain shoe to be stylish. As I wrote in this post, “pretend your feet and shoes don’t exist and dress in a way that gives you joy. This way, people won’t focus on your shoes and if one does, it’s clear they are worn for health reasons and not because you lack personal style.” A couple ways to create personal style:

Focus on Accessories

Many style icons are known for keeping their outfits simple, and showing their style through the details. Choosing a wardrobe of simple basics, and then incorporating great accessories is a way to make your specific sartorial needs create personal style.

fern mallisWhen considering this concept I thought of Fern Mallis, the creator of New York Fashion Week and for a decade, Executive Director of CDFA. Her actual wardrobe is pretty simple and sticks to the same shapes and silhouettes, but her personality comes with her choice of accessories and her signature glasses.

Style Tips with a Health Condition - achieving personal style when health issues require certain fashion and footwear
Shop the Looks: Red Sweater | Denim Skirt | Necklace | Red Shoes | Black Turtleneck | Black Skirt | Silver Skinny Scarf | Silver Cuff | Black Shoes | Gold Sweater | Denim Skirt | Chain Necklace | Bangle Bracelets | Sparkly Shoes

With these three looks I kept the wardrobe simple – sweaters and knits with long skirts but they create a stylish impact thanks to the use of accessories. I think the Algeria Palomas are great shoes because they do come in so many different colors, textures, and patterns so you can incorporate your personality into shoes that are good to your feet. Why not make them part of your signature style? Each look has a different pair of statement Palomas and I used them to create the color story and choose accessories to finish the look. As you see, you’re not stuck to one style or concept because of your shoes. Whether they’re pointed toe stilettos or comfort shoes, they can still make a fabulous statement and define your style. This is a great way to try different styles and find what feels you.

Create a Signature

Once you know what style/s fit your soul, you can create a signature style. A funky haircut, a wardrobe of amazing scarves, cool necklaces you buy from local artisans, a wrist of bangles, eye-catching glasses… all of these are examples.

lynn dellWhen considering this concept I thought of the late Lynn Dell, who was a boutique owner and seen on the blog and in the documentary Advanced Style. Dell had a very signature style, but it was created with her amazing choice in accessories. Hats, scarves, jewelry, and on-point lipstick gave an effect of glamour and sophistication while still remaining comfortable in soft knits and relatively sensible shoes.

Have Fun with Fabrics

Awesome prints and textiles aren’t just for the slim and trim. Whether you’re wrapped in black jersey or a floral jacquard, you will have the same body. If you’re comfortable with it, have fun with amazing textiles that are still easy to wear, warm, and work with your health situation.

suzy menkesWhen considering this concept I thought of journalist and fashion critic Suzy Menkes. Well respected in the fashion arena, Menkes is regularly seen in jackets, scarves and tops in beautiful prints, luxe fabrics with sheen, and embroidery, styled with simple dark colored knit separates (and her signature hairstyle!) . She exudes personal style without needing to adopt the runway trends she reviews.

All three of these style icons may not be your shape, your age, or your style.  They are just examples of women who have not sacrificed comfort or health to achieve style.  Your style may be more youthful, less colorful, more simplistic, more elaborate… it’s not about recreating or replicating but gleaning inspiration.

Personal Style is For Everyone

Personal style isn’t just for the thin, the rich, the young, the healthy, the mainstream. It may not be as easy but it is possible for all of us. One woman’s style is not the same as another. We are all snowflakes, whether it is our body type, our lifestyle, our specific needs, or what makes our soul sing. Whether we have a studio apartment or a palatial estate, we figure out how to make that house our home. Your body is your home, and it deserves to be styled in a way that celebrates its beauty while keeping it comfortable and safe. I hope this post can get your creative juices flowing. I wish you much success and joy as you embark on your style journey!

Random thoughts on a Tuesday…

I wear Burberry London as my signature fragrance. It is the first time I have had a “signature fragrance,” for most fragrances drive me insane or make me sneeze after a few weeks.

Because of this, a good third of my bureau is decorated with various perfume bottles. I just can’t rid of them because they are pretty.

I forgot to wear my wedding set yesterday… and today. I took them off after the beach because I was feeling stiff and sunburned and swollen from salt and heat and vodka tonics. I must remember to put them back on today.

I never take off my wedding set, not even for a shower or swim in the ocean. I only take them off when we are at a Bailey Banks and Biddle to have them cleaned. I’ve been married three years, I don’t clean them that often any more. It’s about the sentiment, not the shine.

Last night I was at Annapolis Mall with my husband and we walked past Bailey Banks and Biddle and he asked if I wanted to go in and have my ring cleaned. He wasn’t happy to find out I didn’t have it on and had it sitting on my nightstand for 24 hours. He said the dog could eat it. I wouldn’t put it past my dog; he has eaten stranger things in the past.

At Annapolis Mall I found out I am old. I mean, I know I am getting older and this weekend my friends and I cried this statement a few times when we saw ridiculous young peep fashion and actions, but the mall made me feel truly aged. As you know I write about clothing here and on my other blog, but I like to think that I write more about style than fashion. There is a difference between the two, and there is a difference between fashion and trends as well. I looked at what was an attempt at fashion, and what was hot and trendy now and it made my head hurt. Jeans so bedazzled on the pockets, I wonder how people sit. Candy colored hi-top sneaks for men, tops that would hardly cover an areola, multiple layers of knits all cinched up with a faux pleather belt… the styles in the store windows were hideous and I knew I must be old if I was shuddering in front of each wall of plate glass. I felt like a senior citizen. Granted, I am a well-dressed senior citizen that got three compliments from strangers for my choice of shoe and a good looking man my junior looked me up and down in a way that made me feel a bit violated and a bit vindicated.

My husband noted that those who live in Annapolis LOOK as though they live in Annapolis. We were trying to break down the exact look and this was out list on the restaurant napkin:

  • Weathered skin – not just tan, but with freckles, creases and a bit of a leathery texture even on teens
  • Very casual hair – low ponytails and straight bangs on women of a certain age, curly mops on men of all ages, tangled long sun-streaked tresses on younger ladies.
  • Very expensive purses with plenty of hardware, or else Very Bradley satchels
  • Very old bottoms, be it cargo shorts, jeans, a chino skirt. Obviously well made to withstand salt and sand and sun and many trips through the washer.
  • No bright colors past lime, pink or coral. Maybe a wild French blue but never Crayola red or emerald green and gosh forbid if you tried to wear bright orange outside of a life jacket.
  • Very comfortable shoes. Flops, slides, sandals, boat shoes. Usually as weathered but well-made as the owner’s shorts or skirt.
  • Minimal makeup on the women – mascara, a touch of tinted lip balm, sometimes a smudge of eyeliner but that is it.
  • An obvious piece of expensive jewelry. It may be large diamond studs, a strand of real pearls, a right-hand diamond ring, or maybe a Tiffany bracelet for the teens.

I said I felt very Annapolis in my black top, white trousers and turquoise necklace. For once I too had the minimal hair and makeup.

My husband then reminded me that I was wearing the leopard-print stilettos that were complimented three times by strangers. Oh well, still have a bit of DC in me, even if I desire to be more Naptown.

I love great shoes. You can wear the most basic things, and your shoes will always take center stage. It is far easier to get away at work with crazy shoes than crazy makeup or crazy dresses.

I am allergic to blue cheese, but I asked for gorgonzola on my salad last night. How can you have field greens, champagne vinaigrette, pears and walnuts without it?

I hate admitting when I am disappointed to a nice waitress. The kitchen brought out our entrees before our appetizer, didn’t bring bread until our second request and never brought my lemon for my water so I had to steal my husband’s off his iced tea. Oh, and the chips with the spinach artichoke dip were stale as all heck, hence the need for the bread. But she was so darn cute and sweet I couldn’t complain.

I don’t think my husband could either, he felt guilty and left 20% tip.

Today he is sending a letter to Nordstrom to compliment them on our salesperson last night. I bought my husband some of those slip-on dress shoes (not traditional loafers, more sleek) a year or so ago and last week the seam busted out at the sole. We took them back to Nordstrom sans receipt in hopes they could fix them. They could not, so they offered to give us a replacement pair if I could guess the price. The same brand in a slightly different version were $130 so I said $130. He entered $150 into the register so we got a $180 pair of shoes for $30 plus tax. I felt bad because he spent a long time with us to have such a meager sale and like the waitress, for some reason we felt bad for doing what customers do and expecting those in the service industry to do their job, so we are writing a thank you letter.

People should write more thank you letters. Nothing makes a person’s day more than having nice sentiments on paper.

I have all my thank you notes and customer comment cards from my retail days saved in a binder in clear pages. I like to look at it when I feel like a loser.

I also save all the sweet compliments and thank you emails I get from readers in my inbox so I can be reminded of why I write and that I am not invisible in this world.

Speaking of which, someone walked by my cube and complimented me on my perfume. I smiled and said “it’s Burberry London” when asked the brand. “I guess you could say it’s my signature fragrance.”

Then I thought, “oh crap, they can smell my perfume from outside my cube? That’s not a signature, that’s a billboard!”

I promptly licked and rubbed together my wrists in an attempt to wear away some scent. Burberry London may smell nice, but it doesn’t taste nice.

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.

True Fashionista: Sheree

I must admit, I visit many blogs where it seems that women are not wearing fashion, but fashion is wearing them. They have a passion for the art, but they don’t know when to say no, or when a trend is just not appropriate for their personality, lifestyle, figure, or soul. So when I come across a blog where a real woman really knows herself and how to wear current trends well, I am addicted. And that is how I have been with Sheree’s blog, It’s Not That Deep. Sheree knows herself and her personal style; she knows how to stay true to herself while incorporating the hottest trends, and for that I find Sheree to be a True Fashionista.

Sheree incorporates thrifted pieces with designer with mall-friendly brands like H&M and Vince Camuto, brand new fashion splurges with pieces she has owned for a decade. I love the badass-ness of not just her ensembles but the attitude that comes through her photos.  I also love how she incorporates color – there’s no Rainbow Brite ensembles but carefully chosen pops that add edge, whimsy, and femininity.

Sheree knows fashion, loves fashion, and proves that you can be stylish and be a wonderful parent. Sheree may have a killer wardrobe and killer body, but she’s also a wife and mother to two adorable kiddos.  I love her inspiration posts – you can really see how her mind is working and often the outfit posts that follow incorporate the trends that inspired her.

Sheree’s personal style is so clear and defined, I find it inspiring.  Looking at her blog is like looking at attainable style of a fashion editor.  Clean, crisp, modern but with a personal touch that makes it unique.  I can see images of fashion insiders like Kate Lanphear, Eva Fontanelli, or Giovanna Battaglia but know I couldn’t afford (or likely fit) a single thing on their bodies; Sheree makes such specific style achievable for the every woman.

As with every other True Fashionista, I asked Sheree to answer the same five questions:

How would you describe your personal style?
I would describe my personal style as feminine with an urban edge.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
I have been into fashion for as long as I can remember. When I was younger my bedroom walls were covered with pics of Kate Moss, I live an hour from Manhattan and I would always insist that my dad take me to the city to go shopping even as a teenager. I always insisted I have unique, modern pieces..even as a teen. It continued into my 20’s. I was a womanswear buyer in Manhattan before going back to school to get my Masters in Social Work,

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
My inspiration definitely comes from street style looks. I just search StreetStyle in Tumblr and get loads of inspiration. Designer wise I am obsessed with Phillip Lim and just seeing his runway collection inspires me to try different looks even if I can’t afford all of his pieces. I also love Christine Centenera, the Editor of Vogue Australia.

What is the difference between fashion and style?
Fashion is fashion plain and simple. Your style is what distinguishes you from everyone else. To develop your own personal style is something that you evolve into over time. I also usually find that people with a true sense of style transcends into their home and other areas of their life. It’s about really knowing who you are as a person and being able to get that across.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
I think that developing your own personal style takes time. I used to constantly buy things, bring them home and ask “what was I thinking?” I rarely do this anymore because I know my style. I think that you have to pay attention to what looks you like via Pinterest, other blogs, etc and dissect what attracts you to them. Take that and add in what you feel comfortable in and what feels like you and there you go. I think it takes trial and error and trying things on and figuring out why this feel like me or why it doesn’t. I can appreciate really put together looks (ie, Atlantic Pacific) but it’s not my style, I have a more edgy casual street vibe. So it’s not necessarily just what you like but what is “you”. That’s why I said earlier it’s about knowing who you are. My blog is called “It’s Not That Deep” but I guess sometimes it can be 😉


The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style. Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion. These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you. Stay tuned, there will be a featured True Fashionista every Friday for the next few weeks. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments!

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

Showing the Love: ELOQUII

This month, the month of love, I want to celebrate you. It’s the tenth year of Wardrobe Oxygen, and this blog wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for your love and support. To show my love in return, I’ve partnered with some of my favorite brands to offer you some amazing gifts. These giveaways are not sponsored, I am receiving nothing in return for hosting them, I will not be promoting these giveaways on social media so to increase the chances of you regular readers winning. The brands know this, and have chosen to donate great gifts because they too want to show you the love.

For many years, it’s been tough being plus-size fashionista. It’s as though retailers didn’t think that women size 12 and up wanted, or DESERVED current trends and fun apparel. Thank goodness the tides are turning, and one of the trailblazers bringing fabulous fashion in larger sizes is ELOQUII.

eloquii 1

Originally under the Limited Brand, ELOQUII relaunched as private company last year and they’re taking the plus size fashion world by storm. As ELOQUII states on their “About” page, “It’s time for fashion to move forward.” And forward ELOQUII is, offering fun and stylish clothing for work, play, and everything in between in sizes 14 to 24. ELOQUII keeps up with trends by introducing new limited product every couple of weeks and keeps your wallet happy with reasonable prices for the high quality and many great promotions (it’s worth it to sign up for their emails to know when sales are taking place). Not only that, ELOQUII believes in community – from sharing fan photos on their site to customer reviews on products to a really engaging social media campaign (hello a brand that comments on your Instagram photos and replies back to tweets!), ELOQUII is changing not just the look but the attitude of plus sized fashion.

And I have to admit, I have a soft spot for ELOQUII because my dear friend Sarah works for them. Sarah was one of my first “bloggy friends,” I met her through a blogging network in way back in 2006 and she’s one of the most genuine, loving and lovable people I know. If you love that sense of community, fun, and spirit that shines through ELOQUII’s social media channels, that’s thanks to my gal Sarah, their Social Media and Community Strategist.  And what’s great is she LOVES working with ELOQUII – it’s always great to know that a great company has great people behind it.


And come ON, how adorable is their collection? Above are some of the pieces from their new arrivals that are making me drool. Fashion, fun, and heart describe ELOQUII, and that’s why I’m proud to regularly recommend the brand to you in advice posts and oh so proud to offer this giveaway to you! One lucky Wardrobe Oxygen reader will win a $100 store credit to ELOQUII! Giveaway is open to US and Canada readers and ends February 20, 2014. Read the widget below for additional details and good luck!

Wardrobe Oxygen ELOQUII $100 Store Credit Giveaway

Fight for Your Right to be Fashionable!

Two conversations this weekend led me to the same conclusion – most clothing made for women over a size 14 is CRAP. Why do plus-size designers believe that anyone who wears their clothes are the size of a typical size 8, just stretched in every direction? Not all size 18 women are 6’ tall with shoulders like a linebacker. Not every size 20 woman has size F breasts, and just because someone wears a larger size in jeans does not mean she also has a higher rise. The average size of an American woman’s dress may be growing, but that does not mean the height of an American woman is growing at the same speed. More often than not, that plus sized shopper has the same bone structure as her size 8 counterpart, just more curves and padding over those bones.

And another thing, why is it that the only choices for a plus sized woman is to look like a tramp, a dowager or blob? No matter our size, we should be able to easily express ourselves – our sophisticated, creative, feminine, chic self.

Walking through the mall, a woman over a size 12 has minimal options. Good old Lane Bryant may have some great pieces, but they are stuffed on overcrowded racks and rounders with utterly hideous polyester confections, gaudy prints and muumuu-like frocks. Avenue and Ashley Stewart rarely have the quality and current style of say, Bebe or Ann Taylor and I don’t even want to mention the majority of crap on the racks of Fashion Bug and Deb. Hit J. Jill, Coldwater Creek and Eileen Fisher, and if you are under 40 (or over 40) you may feel as though everything is wrong wrong wrong for your lifestyle and personality. The local department store may have a Women’s section, but it’s often small, limited and usually the worst maintained section of the whole store.

Why do we allow this? Why are we accepting this crap for our beautiful bodies? Just because we aren’t a size 6 doesn’t mean that we don’t deserve style, quality and proper service. We are professionals, fashionistas, women with just as much money (and money equals power) as our slimmer counterparts.

As I said in my Target article, vote with your pocketbooks! Write letters and emails and fill out comment cards at shops. Tell retailers when they get it right, and when they get it deathly wrong. If a company sees something sells, they will make more of the same. If it doesn’t sell, they will discontinue it. If you feel that the basic tees and tanks in a retailer are of sub par quality, let them know. If you feel that the sizing is all off (hello Lane Bryant and your new jeans sizing!) SAY SOMETHING! Get on message boards, write to plus-size magazines and forums.

The problem is that many plus-sized designers are not plus-sized, and are often not women. They don’t understand how weight is distributed, that we don’t want to hide under a swath of paisley chiffon, don’t always want to wear high-waist jeans and ponchos, that we may actually find our body beautiful and ourselves worthy of great style. They make great shoes in larger sizes, they make fabulous jeans in long lengths, women with curves deserve and should demand the same luxury.

Retailers see the success of Lane Bryant and make carbon copies of it, hoping to jump on the plus-sized fashion bandwagon. If Lane Bryant does it for you – style and figure-wise then I am happy for you. However if you are like most women I know who are in double-digit dress sizes, you wish there was more Torrid and IGIGI and Marina Rinaldi in the world, and less of this discount crap that is unflattering and unworthy our hard-earned cash.

As I always say, do not settle. You are better off with the same black pants worn over and over for now, than to buy crap and encourage these designers to purchase more crap. No matter your dress size, you should be a discerning shopper, hitting the fitting rooms and the internet to find the right fit, the right quality, the right style, the right price. High-end department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Nieman Marcus are getting progressively more diverse departments for sizes over 14 and the lower-end market is being saturated with plus-size crapola shops. What about the middle? We need more mall shops that are the same caliber as J. Crew, as Banana Republic, as The Limited.

Let your opinion be heard. Women often stay mute for seeming bitchy, pushy or rude. We feel we maybe don’t deserve it because of our shape. I say NONSENSE, every person on this planet is special and beautiful. Beauty is in all shapes and colors and maybe it’s the crap we are forced to purchase that makes us feel less than utterly gorgeous.

So to my sisters who are in the double digits, I will share with you a few beauts I have found online… to show you what you deserve for your fabulous body. If you want to see more of this… then you know what you need to do… (and tell them you want to see plus size women model those fashions too!)

Charcoal Shirt Dress from IGIGI – Shirt dresses are a stylish way to be dressed for work OR play. I love this one because it nips in the waist and has all the current details seen on other brands.

Purple Wrap Dress from IGIGI – Purple is a hot season for fall, and IGIGI seems to know how to make a wrap dress that works on many shapes without showing off too much in front.

Hot Orange Dress from IGIGI – Don’t hide behind drab colors; this dress will light up a room and your face!

White Tailored Shirt from Nexx – The tie detail and the French cuffs are elegant, not cheesy.

Denim Trousers from Kiyonna – I swear by my denim trousers – they work for business casual, dress up a simple top to make it work for a night out on the town, and the dark color is current and flattering.

Embossed Leather Jacket by Berek – How fun and daring is this jacket? with a white tank and jeans, or even with a shell and trousers for a night out or to work!

Mandeville Canyon Jeans from Paige Premium Denim – Paige cuts all their jeans for a real woman’s shape, and the quality is awesome. Plus, it’s always fun to sport some sassy designer jeans!

Freestyle Revolution Skinny Jeans in Smoke – the skinny jeans are still hot this fall, and this smoke color is fun and will look great with the fall’s brights as well as the darker colors of the season.

Giraffe Print Dress from Kiyonna – Utterly gorgeous and elegant, and a cut to flatter, not fight against your curves.

Dana Buchman Silk Charmeuse Wrap Top – Gorgeous color, gorgeous fabric – wear with denim trousers for a night out, with crepe trousers or a skirt for a party, and even with suiting pieces for work.

Royal Blue Jersey Cocktail dress by Tadashi – Gorgeous color, elegant draping, and perfect for all your seasonal holiday parties!

True Fashionista: Audi

Many readers contact me telling me that because of their job, they can’t dress to match their personal style. Many also tell me that once they hit 30, they don’t feel that they can show their personal style at work because it won’t be seen as professional or serious. When I get such emails, I often send these women a link to Audi’s blog, and that is a big reason (other than thinking she’s utterly fabulous and stylish) why I asked her to be part of my True Fashionista series.

Audi from the blog Fashion for Nerds is a scientist. She’s over 40. She isn’t one to fit in with the crowd. She loves to travel, loves living in San Francisco, and makes hats in her spare time. She has tattoos, and I am terribly jealous that she has been to Burning Man. She is able to have all this and be professional at work AND true to her personal style. She’s proof that you can be stylish and smart; a professional and a sartorial badass.

I have been reading Audi’s blog for many years and one thing that I love about her style is that while it is unique, it is never a costume. Audi can wear knee-high lace up boots, a harness, a scarf decorated with skulls and it looks polished and sophisticated. She understands not only herself, but her environment and knows how to merge the two.

A big part of why Audi’s style works so well is because she wears it with confidence. I often think of street style blogs – what the subjects may wear may not conventionally make sense, but their posture, their stance, and their visible confidence is the finishing touch that makes the look perfection. Audi carries herself with pride and confidence and it makes her fashions even the more fabulous.

Audi is the queen of the carefully edited closet. While she never shows the same exact outfit twice, you see the same pieces being used over and over, each time getting a new look. Pairing a biker vest with skinny cargos one day and a maxi skirt the other, you hardly realize it’s the same piece. Audi carefully purchases, be it a Helmut Lang dress, a Botiker bag, or an H&M top. And whether it’s ASOS or Alexander McQueen, those pieces get much wear over the years, having new lives as her personal style evolves.

I was so thrilled Audi was willing to be a True Fashionista for Wardrobe Oxygen; here are her responses to the same five questions I ask to each woman in this series.

How would you describe your personal style?
It can be all over the map, but the outfits I feel are really “me” are those that could be described as rocker professional, by which I mean that they look polished and tidy, but have plenty of rebellious elements such as skulls or leather, or that show my tattoos.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
As a kid I used fashion as a means of creating a persona that I didn’t really possess; I was quite shy and reserved all though high school, and dressing in a bold way gave me an air of self confidence. By the time I hit my 20’s I had become genuinely confident, but my style only fully developed once I stopped working in the lab and was able to wear nice clothes to work without having to worry about being uncomfortable all day with my lab coat on over my outfit.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
Everywhere, really; other bloggers, people I see on the street, friends, coworkers, window displays, runway shows, magazines. Sometimes it’s just a color combination that I like, sometimes it’s an individual item that strikes a chord, and other times it’s an entire outfit.

What is the difference between fashion and style?
Fashion gives us the individual elements: the colors, shapes, patterns, textures, and genres that strike our collective fancy for a particular period of time. Style is how an individual puts those specific elements together.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
I think the most important thing is to have an idea of what you want your wardrobe to say about you. If you want to come off as relaxed and approachable, then think of a few examples of people whose style appears that way to you, be it celebrities or people you know. Then start experimenting, understanding all the while that your style will morph over time as you find the garments that make you look and feel your best. The other thing to remember is that it’s one thing to admire a look on someone else, but it’s quite another to wear it yourself; before you buy a new item, ask yourself if you love it for you or if it’s better being loved from afar.

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.

Being Colorful while Being Green

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

Learning from You: Changes to Wardrobe Oxygen thanks to Reader Survey Feedback

wardrobe oxygen reader survey resultsLast month I started an anonymous reader survey and the feedback has been AH-MAY-ZING! You all have been so great, sharing ideas, telling me what you like, what you don’t like, and what you’d love to see. Each time Survey Monkey has emailed me letting me know I have new responses I get excited. I’m going to keep the survey open in case anyone wants to add feedback at any time, but wanted to share what I have gathered thus far and how I’m going to use it to improve Wardrobe Oxygen. Heads up, this is a pretty lengthy post so I am truncating it on the blog for those who don’t care much and want to get back to the fashion!

[Read more…]

A Reminder: More Isn’t Better

Last night I was watching one of my guilty pleasures, How I Met Your Mother (if you haven’t seen it, it is a pretty witty show). Lily, the character played by Alyson Hannigan admitted she was severely in debt because every time she was unhappy (even being unhappy over a large credit card bill) she would go shopping. This is not just sit-com fodder, but a true situation happening with many women I know. We feel sad, or fat; we got dumped or passed on for a promotion; we shop. We feel that maybe a pair of new boots, a haircut with highlights, a dress even though we are more comfortable with pants will somehow fix us. That transforming the outside will in turn transform our inside.

No one has been a guest on Oprah because her new wrap dress helped her lose weight. I have never met a person who can claim she married her soul mate because a pair of leather boots, and though I do agree with the belief that you should dress for the work position you desire and not the one you have, unless you work in the fashion industry rarely will you be chosen for a position over another because your new suit for the interview was inspired by Karl’s recent collection for Chanel.

Having a wardrobe that fits not just your body but also your lifestyle and personality CAN transform you from the outside in. Wearing what makes you feel and look good helps boost your confidence, helps others see the real you and gives you respect in social situations. It very well could help you land that job, meet the love of your life or encourage you to lose those last few pounds because you have one less thing to worry about and stress over.

But the confusing thing about a great wardrobe is more isn’t better. Three bits of cheesecake is delicious, three slices of cheesecake is nauseating. A larger wardrobe can often make the owner sick with confusion. We buy more to make ourselves feel better, but instead make ourselves feel worse because our wardrobe no longer works for us.

French women are known for being very chic and stylish. They are also known for having the smallest of wardrobes. Many French stylists and authors will admit they have no more than 20-60 garments in their collection (including shoes, outerwear, and athletic gear). How do they look so chic and polished on such a tiny collection?

They purchase that which they need, nothing more. Additions to the collection are made to replace something that has worn out, or if a new aspect in life (job, activity) takes place. They buy the very best quality they can afford, don’t succumb to trends, and baby the garments they own with proper cleaning and storage. They don’t self-medicate with throwaway garments and don’t try to reinvent themselves every fashion season.

A couple of months ago, I provided a list of questions to ask yourself to define your personal style. That, along with classic staples should help you get started. As the leaves are turning and the weather is getting cooler in most parts of the world, now is a good time to reassess your wardrobe. Look at that list, and look at yourself in the mirror and go through your closet. Hopefully by now you have gotten rid of anything that does not fit, is in awful condition or harbors bad memories (so many women I meet have the back of their closet full of wedding gowns from previous marriages, dresses worn the night they broke up with their ex, suits they wore for their last job they hated, bridesmaid dresses with bows on the rear and clothes several sizes larger than their current size “just in case” they go back to that size). Now it’s time to look at the rest of the collection and see if it fits you here and now.

Does yellow make you anxious? Then why are you holding onto that canary cashmere sweater? It may be great quality and even fit nicely, but it doesn’t make you feel good. How about that conservative tailored pantsuit? You work in a creative field and haven’t had to don a suit in years… why are you still holding on to it? And that frilly dress you bought when you were feeling insecure in your relationship. You’re not lace and bows no matter how hard you tried – get rid of it.

Again, this should be done after getting your feel of your personal style, your interests, likes and dislikes. If so, you’ll find that the items you are removing are either gifts or items purchased on a whim or in an emotional state. The items forced upon you, or the items you purchased to subconsciously self-medicate for another situation in your life.

You’ll also find that the removal of these items will not make it harder to get dressed every morning, but easier. Less decisions – an arsenal of go-to pieces that make you happy, fit you well and work for you occasion. Don’t think of it as losing your collection – think of it as becoming chic and polished like the French. As you work with this simplified wardrobe, you will start to see what you really do need to add to your collection, and start shopping for needs, not wants. Find joy in texture and colors and the beauty of knowing that new garment will add life to many other pieces already at home and work with the true you, not the sad/bored/frustrated temporary you.