Search Results for: label/winter accessories

Ask Allie: What Scarf with a Wrap Coat?

Hey Allie, you mentioned wanting a wrap coat this winter on the blog so I thought it might be appropriate to take this moment to send you some pics of the wrap coat I bought last winter and have been struggling to style – and ask for your advice! I really like the exaggerated collar and slightly fifties style flared skirt but with so much of the neckline very exposed I find it difficult to know what to wear underneath that won’t clash with the style. I also find it can be hard to wear a scarf with it without making the collar look scruffy… (and I’m never sure what kind of colour scarf doesn’t clash with the green?)

what scarf with wrap coatThe reader in her green wrap coat

A wrap coat is tougher than most outerwear to style with scarves, but not impossible, especially with the current trends in winter accessories. Currently, the ginormous scarf look is on trend, which is a look that would flatter the style of this coat quite nicely.

itsmydarlin coreykingston

When searching for photos to illustrate my suggestions, I found these beautiful photos of Corey Kingston on the blog It’s My Darlin’ and the collar of Corey’s coat reminded me of yours. It looks as though she took a classic pashmina and wrapped it around and tucked the ends into the coat. The cashmere of a pashmina would nicely flatter the fabric of your coat and keep you quite warm. You mentioned in your email that you are drawn to jewel tones and I don’t see any reason why that wouldn’t work with this color of coat; a pashmina in a deep red, mustard, pumpkin,berry, or rich purple would look glorious against the green.

pashmina with wrap coat

A tone on tone look would also be quite lovely, as seen by the Crown Princess Letizia of Spain with shades of tan, and the blogger Awed By Monica in shades of gray. You can do this with shades of green, choosing a deep emerald, forest green, or a lighter shade like avocado or peridot.

scarf with wrap coat how to style

The pictures above of Bethenny Frankel and Elizabeth Banks show that your scarf doesn’t have to be a solid, and it doesn’t have to be a pashmina. You can use most any type of scarf, as long as there’s a lot of fabric. It can be an oversized square folded in half, a long oblong looped multiple times around your neck, or a wide rectangle. When I look at the print of your coat, I immediately think of classic patterns like plaid and paisley. An oversized tartan scarf like this one from Acacia Scarves (a company run by the blogger Jaclyn Day) in bright red with lots of white or ivory to keep it from looking heavy would be a lovely partner to your coat. This could be tucked into your neckline, or with so much volume could be worn on the outside, complementing your coat’s exaggerated collar. A paisley print scarf would also be a lovely choice with your coat; one with a touch of green but jewel tones like blue and purple would be very pretty.

what scarf with a belted wrap coat

Tucking a classic scarf into your collar isn’t the only option for a wrap coat, as evidenced by the women in these photos. To the left, model Emily Senko, per the blog Vanessa Jackman, shows how an oversized infinity scarf can look quite chic and would be another great way to incorporate a jewel tone. While most infinity scarves are knit, I think a faux fur one could also look great with your coat.  I also think an oversized cowl like this one from DC-based company DeNada Design would be a pretty choice and would likely be big enough to cover the entire neckline. To the right as seen on the blog Hanneli, fashion designer Vika Gazinskayas wears a scarf in a manner that looks more like a blouse. You can achieve this by taking a large square, folding into a triangle, tying the ends behind your neck and tucking everything inside your coat. Depending on the weight and size of the coat, this could be a drapey cowl, tucked smooth into a look like Vika, or a cozy funnel neck. For this look you can do a print or color of most any type; choose a silk in fall and switch to wool or cashmere when the temperature drops further.

Guest Post – Accessories for Fall/Winter

Hello all! I’m DWJ from The Art of Accessories and I’m so excited to be able to do a guest post for Wardrobe Oxygen and Allie! I thought we’d talk about a great accessories wardrobe because accessories really can be just what you need to inject new life into your closet without buying more clothes. Now a complete accessories wardrobe…that can be HUGE! So I thought I’d just narrow it down to what my favorite things to accessorize with for fall/winter are right now.

DWJ rocking black and colored tights

Black Tights: Black tights can instantly add more polish to ANYTHING in your closet. I’m serious. When in doubt, I pull on a pair of black tights with my skirt and black heels and I feel more chic. It’s also a great way to help stretch those summery dresses into fall. Add tights and a great cardigan and you’ve got layers to keep you warm and cozy when it’s chilly. My favorite are by Hue, they’re super dark and last for a few winters!

Colored and Textured Tights: I’m kind of in love with We Love Colors tights. They have a rainbow of colored tights to go with every mood and any outfit in my closet. Stuck in a rut with black dresses and skirt? Add a pop of royal blue with your tights. Love this season’s dark romantic floral print dresses? Add a dusty pink or burgundy tight to give your outfit an extra touch of romance. Textured tights help give a monochromatic outfit a bit more interest and colorful fishnets can give your date night outfit a bit more WOW factor.

A Fabulous Hat: I do not believe in being cold and if I don’t have a hat on I’m guaranteed to be shivering whenever I’m outside. Since the weather is getting chillier and your mother always said cover your head when it’s cold, I find a great hat is a must. Find one that you love and rock it! My personal favorite is the fedora. I actually bought a men’s fedora when I was in NYC and I think it is the coolest hat I’ve ever owned. I also keep a few stretchy tam style hats to throw in my purse and have on hand at all times. Plus, they’re great when you’re having a bad hair day.

Scarves: I’m all about scarves for adding a dose of color or glamour to an outfit. I go from camouflage to giraffe print throughout the winter because it perks up my winter coat and brightens up my day. I love a circle scarf, because then you don’t have to worry about it coming unraveled or getting caught on something. It instantly looks chic when you pull it on.

Image courtesy of La Mimi

Gloves: Every since I saw Confessions of a Shopaholic I’ve been obsessed with finding the perfect colorful leather glove. My favorite color is green, so ideally that’s what I want but I’d say go for a great contrasting color to your winter coat so the gloves really do stand out. I recently picked up a great hot pink leather pair at Marshalls for $16! You can’t beat a great deal on leather gloves.

A Great Winter Coat: Depending on your climate, you can spend a lot of time wearing your winter coat, so why not make it a good one? I try to not just stick with basic black or grey and go for a vibrant green, pink or yellow. Why? Because it makes me smile when I’m on a train filled with black coats and I’m wearing apple green. Winter can already be drab and dreary; don’t let your outerwear bring you down too.

Read more from DWJ at her blog, The Art of Accessories or follow her on Twitter (@theaofa).  
Thanks again DWJ for the guest post, and for reminding me to pull out my purple leather gloves – they really do make the season brighter and more stylish! :-)

The Power of Accessories

I was recently interviewed for Washington Life magazine and they asked me to style an outfit with a few fall trends they featured in their November issue. Peplum, leather accents, ankle booties, black with white, studs, metallic brocade, military inspiration… that sort of thing. I was a bit lost at first since I do incorporate a lot of current trends into my wardrobe but didn’t have a ton of these specific trends. I decided to start with a base ensemble I would regularly wear (and actually have previously worn on the blog) – black ponte peplum top from Ann Taylor, Halogen black leather pleated skirt, and Miss Sixty peeptoe ankle booties.  I then just switched out a few accessories to give two completely different looks – really shows how a wardrobe of carefully selected accessories can truly transform wardrobe staples.

Look 1: White leather foldover studded clutch, Stella and Dot “Lilith” necklace which isn’t studs, but gives the stud effect and had the same dark metal detail.  This is the one I sent to Washington Life magazine and they used for the interview.

Look 2: Same ensemble, I just added an oxblood leather skinny belt and switched out bags for a black leather clutch with silver zipper detail (both accessories from Hobo).  If I had more time, I would have switched out the shoes for a black leather pointed-toe pump.

All accessories I already had in my wardrobe – the belt I bought at a Hobo sample sale for $2, the black leather clutch has gotten many years of wear, the white clutch I picked up last summer in Rehoboth and often wear it with it’s strap for a concert-worthy crossbody.  These are the types of accessories I can keep for decades and pull out when the trends are in their favor and update wardrobe classics.  One doesn’t need an overflowing closet to have variety.

Oh the power of accessories!

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The Power of Accessories

I often blog about accessories, but I haven’t really delved into them and how they can really create your personal style. Last night on the subway I saw the best example of how accessories can tell a story better than most garments in your wardrobe.

Two women on the train, both in black tailored shirts tucked in to classic black trousers. Both were wearing tan trenches, both were standing up, engrossed in their reading material.

One woman had her hair in loose waves, was wearing this necklace and the matching earrings from Ann Taylor, a slim black glossy leather belt and pumps of the same glossy black leather that had silver buckles on the front. She had a black tumbled leather large satchel in her hand.

The second woman had a silk scarf in bronze, camel, ivory and gold tied at her throat and tucked into the neckline. She had a thin gold chain through her belt loops and was wearing black boots with a square toe and slim heel. She had a camel leather structured purse over her shoulder, and her hair back in a low ponytail.

Both women were around the same age (I would guess early ‘40s), and similar sizes. Though wearing similar outfits, they looked completely different due to the way in which they accessorized.

Consider the most basic of outfits – a white button-down shirt and black trousers. Often seen as the uniform for wait staff and terribly boring, a few accessories can totally transform it to a stylish ensemble. Imagine this outfit with these accessories… what type of woman do you see? What do you think she is like?
– Leopard print heels, thin gold bangle bracelets on one wrist and gold hoop earrings
– An Hermes scarf and pearl studs on the ears
– Delicate gold chain with a diamond pendant and black ballet flats
– Black stretchy belt with patent buckle over the untucked shirt and black patent high heels
– Black flats and a delicate watch with a leather band

Amazing how the outfit stays the same, but the perception of the women totally changes. Weight, age and hair are not a factor – the accessories tell the same sort of story, no matter the woman.

Another experiment. Imagine in your head a woman wearing dark jeans – simple bootcut style free of adornments. With it she is wearing a slim-fitting black crewneck tee-shirt. Now imagine her with:
– Black Converse One Star “Chucks” sneakers and a man’s silver tank watch
– A Pucci scarf tied through the belt loops and red patent leather pumps with pointy toes
– Big silver hoops, a chunky silver bracelet and black biker boots
– A long winter scarf in various colors looped around her neck and royal blue suede flats

Again, same outfit but completely different looks; completely different personalities perceived by these looks!

Often we feel that our wardrobe is too boring, too old, too predictable. Most of us cannot afford to replace our closet contests every season, so being stuck in a rut makes us A) miserable and frustrated, B) in debt, or C) buying cheap “throwaway” garments that don’t last, don’t flatter and slowly cut into our finances.

Accessories are a cheaper alternative that will last longer than a flimsy polyester top from Forever 21. They take up little space and are more likely to stay or come back into fashion than most clothing in your closet. Almost daily I wear a silver bracelet I purchased at a department store over a decade ago. I still regularly receive compliments on it and it works with the styles of a 2008 wardrobe as well as it did with my collection in 1997. Many of my accessories originally belonged to my mom or were purchased at thrift stores; I have scarves from the 1960s, pendants from the 1970s and clutch purses from several decades that get regular rotation.

The type of accessory you choose is far more personal than the wardrobe staples I have suggested. You can see from the examples above how the accessories explain the woman wearing them; a feminine type would look ridiculous in biker boots, and a singer in a rock band would feel awkward in a strand of pearls. On top of that, since accessories are a longer-lasting wardrobe item than a garment, it is important that the item holds importance to you. Maybe it’s your favorite color, your birthstone, similar to something your mother wore while you were a child. Possibly it was picked up on a trip overseas, or is something that just makes you happy to look at it. Cheaper accessories can be purchased if you desire a trend, but save your money for those classic pieces that will withstand years… even decades.

Think of your black pantsuit, your simple black dress, your jeans and tee shirt, your work attire of twinsets and trousers. They fit, they are flattering but alone they are boring! Slowly bring accessories into your life… even more slowly than your basic wardrobe. Purchase that which calls out to you and you know will work with a large portion of your wardrobe. Envision it with clothing you already wear and as you saw the imaginary woman in the black tee-shirt and jeans, see yourself with these accessories and how they tell your story.

Pictures of women courtesy of The Sartorialist. Images chosen to show how simple garments gain personality with accessories.

Ask Allie: Wearing White Jeans in Winter

I don’t know why there’s snow on the ground and I want to wear my white jeans but I do. How can I make them work in winter? I’m 45, self-employed and prefer a more classic yet relaxed style.

Get those white jeans out of storage because they are hotter than ever in the winter months! As long as they are denim and not linen, twill, or another summery fabric they can easily be winterized. I’ve written about white jeans before, but you are not the only one who has asked me to revisit this topic in the dead of winter. Below a few outfits to get your sartorial juices flowing and to see how white denim can really rock in winter.

Ideas on how to style white jeans in winter by Wardrobe Oxygen

White jeans look so fresh with soft neutrals. Cream, tan, taupe and grey look so elegant against white. Choose rich textures like suede, cashmere, alpaca, and angora for a rich and seasonally appropriate effect. With this ensemble, I chose shades of pebble and taupe, and highlighted a popular look this winter – tall or over the knee suede boots and slouchy poncho-inspired sweaters. Gold jewelry and a glossy pinky nude lip add just the right bit of shine. To prevent being too matchy matchy, not only is the bag a different shade from the boots it’s a different fabric. It’s more stylish to mix up colors and textures so don’t be afraid to pair leather with suede, or brown with a color.

Ideas on how to style white jeans in winter by Wardrobe Oxygen

When white denim is paired with something obviously wintry, it helps the jeans look purposeful. I love the contrast of a plaid flannel and white jeans. If the shirt has a feminine fit, consider leaving it untucked, maybe with an extra button unbuttoned to show a peek of a camisole or low-necked Henley. A pair of rugged boots in a soft shade keep your feet warm, and the low contrast color keeps the look cohesive. Again, don’t be afraid to mix leathers as I did with a tan leather watch band and gray glazed bag. The choice of three leather/suede pieces is purposeful so it doesn’t look as though you grabbed boots and bag willy-nilly, you made a conscious decision to mix fabrics and did it with style. If you’re a low-fuss woman, no need to apply makeup for your relaxed style; regular application of a balm (this is my current favorite) will keep your lips soft and supple.

Ideas on how to style white jeans in winter by Wardrobe Oxygen

And finally, this look is polished and classic with a modern twist. Considering your personal style you likely already have a gray turtleneck and black blazer in your wardrobe. Balance the dark colors on top with a black Chelsea boot for a classic yet comfortable ensemble, but consider adding a bit of personality with a statement bag and a wash of a sheer red lipcolor (I have this balm stain and swear by it; I’ve had friends of different ages and skintones agree it’s a wearable soft red for most everyone and budget friendly too!).

Hopefully these ideas will show you that it’s okay to wear white jeans in the snow, and you can do it without losing your personal style aesthetic or looking like a fashion victim!

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.

Winter Style Tips: Warm Fashion for Cold Weather

Many of you have written to me lately on how to handle very cold temperatures while maintaining your personal style. While it’s frigid right now by DC standards, I don’t deal with such cold temps on a regular basis and would never consider myself to be an expert on cold weather fashion. I know many of you live in far colder parts of the country and world than I and would love you to weigh in on what you swear by to stay warm and fashionable. Below are the winter style tips I use to stay warm when it’s super cold:

cold weather fashion how to stay stylish and warm tips

Have a Base Layer

Keeping your core warm will ensure you stay comfortable when the temps drop. Thin layers close to the body will do a remarkably good job without adding too much bulk to your outfit.

  • Fleece and wool tights are my jam; I’ll wear a regular pair of tights under for extra wind and cold protection, and have even worn them under jeans and work trousers.
  • The same holds true for fleece and wool leggings. Check athletic departments and brands for great ones; while some may have reflective strips others will be solid black which will fit perfectly into your work or weekend wardrobe.
  • Wool socks keep your feet warm and dry and also help prevent foot odor. The chunky cable or marled versions are back in style and look cute peeking out of ankle booties or tall socks so they add style with warmth.
  • A silk or heat-keeping fitted tank or cami is a must-have in winter. Brands like Lands’ End carry these in a broad range of sizes and colors so you can find one to fit and become invisible under your clothing.

Wear Smart Accessories

When it comes to accessorizing in the winter, choose pieces that have fashion as well as function. It’s possible for your styling accents to keep you toasty in the winter.

  • I’m such a fan of pashminas. In wool, cashmere, or a blend these scarves are toasty without being bulky, stylish, and versatile. I will cross a pashmina across my body in front before putting on my coat; it will fill the neck area but also add an additional layer of warmth to my core. Once at my destination I’ll loop it around my throat for a pop of color to my outfit. Pashminas are also great when it’s not freezing; they can act as a shawl with a dress and I take them on travel to be my plane blanket as well as to ward off strong A/C on planes and at conferences.
  • A cashmere beanie is in style right now, so it’s easy to find a color and weight that appeals to you. I have a black cashmere beanie that I’ll put on in the morning and not take off until I go to bed. I style my hair around it, intensify my lip color and it’s a chic look that also keeps me warm. Adding a hat when it’s cold can really do much for increasing comfort; in fact I am writing this while wearing my cashmere beanie and am quite comfortable even though it’s around 60 degrees inside.
  • Gloves are a must-have and my favorite are cashmere-lined leather gloves. They are super warm, wind repellent, keep you dry when scraping off your windshield and look quite chic. Right now is the perfect time of year to stock up on leather gloves as they are on sale everywhere after the holidays. I always have a pair of classic black but when I can find fun colors like purple or green on clearance I snatch them up so add a pop of color or fun to black outerwear.

You Need Proper Footwear

When it comes to inclement weather, function always trumps fashion. A pair of warm boots that provide traction on slick sidewalks is a must-have for cold weather. Come winter, I keep a pair of black pumps at the office and wear boots on my commute. When out and about, slim jeans and pants look great peeking out of tall fur-trimmed winter boots for ski lodge style. Tall leather boots (especially if they are waterproof) are wonderful for when it’s cold but there’s no snow or ice; the leather is a wind breaker and an extra layer of warmth. I’ll wear tall leather boots with a dress or skirt, fleece tights and wool knee-high socks and be toasty while still maintaining my personal style.  FYI all the boots featured in the carousel below are waterproof and ready for all sorts of frightful weather!

Choose Outfits with Layers, Length, and Warm Fabrics

If you plan on getting away with a long-sleeved tee and a pair of jeans you’re going to be shivering all day.

  • Layer: I’m a fan of sweater coats, puffer vests, and ponchos come winter because these are easy layers to slip on and off depending on how high the heat is cranking inside. Under, I’ll wear a long-sleeved tee or fitted merino or cashmere sweater and a silk tank under that so when I slip off the topper I am still pulled together and warm. Chunky knits are popular this fall and easy to layer over a silk or knit tee. I’m also known to slip fleece tights or silk longjohns under dress pants or jeans come winter and no one is the wiser except my warm self!
  • Length: Winter isn’t the time for mini skirts and crop tops. I pull out the midi skirts and wear with fleece tights and tall boots, longer tunic sweaters over slim pants or sweater dresses over fleece or wool leggings and tights, and thigh-skimming sweater coats keep my rear and upper legs warm.
  • Warm Fabrics: Wool pants are truly warmer than synthetics; look for a pair with lining to stay itchy-free and add some wind repellant. As mentioned a thousand times already, fleece and wool tights and leggings are a smart choice with dresses and skirts. Leather is wind repellant and warm; I wear a lot of leather skirts come winter for fashion with function. This year sweater and sweatshirt dresses are on trend and look great with tall boots and leggings or thick tights.

Longer Coats that Repel Wind

Many years ago I wrote that women don’t need puffer coats and can be just as warm and more stylish with a wool coat with Thinsulate lining. And now that I commute in a city, ride public transportation in the snow, and walk longer distances I agree with many of you who thought my advice bunk. Buy a coat that keeps you warm. When it comes to frigid temperatures, first look for something that will keep you as warm and dry as possible, then look for stylish touches. A quilted or puffer coat with a longer length is brilliant because it’s wind and water repellant, will keep your bum warm when sitting at the bus stop, prevents gusts from slipping up inside the coat, and is often machine washable. I like styles that at least cover the rear and have a belt which keeps you from looking like the Michelin man. While I wear a hat almost always, a hood is an additionally nice feature when you’re waiting for the train or it begins to drizzle. Buy from a company that is known for outerwear and get one that is made for the climate you experience. Companies like Patagonia, Lands’ End and LL Bean often give temperature ratings for their outerwear helping you make the best coat decision for your lifestyle.

And now I pass it back to you, what are your tips for staying toasty when the temperature drops? What are the best items in your wardrobe for winter weather? What brands or items do you recommend to those who are trying to stay stylish in the cold? Thanks!


Accessories – What to Keep, What to Toss?

“Jewelry takes people’s minds off your wrinkles.”
– Sonja Henie

I don’t believe in holding onto clothing for sentimental reasons. Somehow that ratty sweatshirt from your college boyfriend, or that Jessica McClintock tea-length cotton frock end up sliding to the front of the closet and get worn. If not, they are just adding confusion to your wardrobe. And don’t bother holding on to an item once its trend is over – trends may return in fashion, but never exactly like the first time. Seriously, if you pull out your stirrup pants from the ‘80s, they will not look like the stirrup pants being sold now (and that should be reserved for True Fashionistas and not us normal folks with normal lives!). If it doesn’t fit your body or your lifestyle, get rid of it.

I totally believe in this mantra… except when it comes to accessories.

Image courtesy of Country Living

Accessories are small, they won’t take up your entire wardrobe. And unlike stirrup pants and pleated jeans, when they come back in style, they won’t look so obviously dated or as though you are a fashion victim.

Back in the late ‘90s I worked for the women’s retailer Express. I was a manager, and then a visual merchandiser for the company and was expected to dress completely in the brand’s clothing, accessorize with their accessories. I had to look like a million bucks on a small salary. I found that if I bought Express’ wardrobe staples (loved their Jet sweaters, ribbed knit turtlenecks, and their microtwill suiting – I think I owned ten pairs of the Editor pants), I could make them look fresh and different with their accessories. Hip-slung belts were hot at the time, and I bought almost every single one that was made by Express. A black turtleneck and camel pencil skirt was jazzed up with a snakeskin skinny belt, a black Jet sweater and trousers looked chic with a silver chain-link hip belt.

After leaving Express, my lifestyle and my figure changed and I didn’t have need for these belts. Instead of donating them to charity, I carefully rolled them up and put them in a cardboard boot box. This box only takes up about two feet of space on my closet shelf, but it holds over a dozen different belts.

A few years ago, my husband gave me a jewelry armoire as a present. It’s a great way to organize and store all the accessories I have acquired over the years – one drawer for earrings, one for bracelets, one for hair clips and pins. The side cabinets I don’t use very often so in them I house necklaces that are currently out of style or not fitting with my current personal style. My jewelry collection is larger than most due to my previous jobs (a new costume jewelry necklace is cheaper than a new dress) and a Great Aunt who was a jewelry designer; however I do believe in having a designated place to keep your accessories organized, readily accessible and protected.

This morning I was getting dressed and I remembered that box of belts. I recently wrote about skinny belts, and how I was wearing one from my Express days. I pulled down the belt box and was amazed at the collection in there – that snakeskin belt is very on trend right now, and would look fantastic with many items currently in my wardrobe. I saw a silver leather skinny belt with a modern chrome closure that would totally transform a simple black dress in my closet. These are belts that would cost a lot of money in 2010 – they weren’t cheap in 1998, and by keeping them protected in the box (I also wrapped them in tissue to keep the metal from oxidizing), they look like new. With my current figure, I can’t wear these belts slung around my hips, but they fit perfectly at my waist and will look great cinching a cardigan or accenting a dress.

Today a college friend posted on Facebook that she found a bunch of small square chiffon scarves in her closet – she remembers wearing them back in college and wondered if she should keep them – will they come back in style? Not every accessory comes back in style, and if it does, it’s not always in the way it originally was worn. And with that, I told her to keep those scarves. I too have amassed a bunch of these small square scarves. Back in college, I would wear them tied at the throat with a crisp white button down, or a little a-line dress. Now, such a look would make me resemble an overweight flight attendant. However such scarves can be cute folded on the diagonal into a 2” strip and tied at the nape so it makes a pretty headband. Tie one onto the strap of your purse for a pop of color. Again fold on the diagonal and then knot in the center, 1” from that knot on either side, then tie to other scarves and you can make a belt or loop around your neck for a creative unique accessory. And as I told my friend, if all else fails, your old scarves can make for new fun toys or dress-up objects for the child in your life!

I encourage all of you to look at your accessories with fresh eyes – that necklace with the clasp could become a belt or a bracelet, that random earring with a bit of modification could be a gorgeous pendant, try those brooches on your simple silk clutch for a custom look. And if you have the space, hold on to them – accessories take those wardrobe staples and make them an ensemble!

Ask Allie: Fashionable Accessories for Fall 2012

What are the best accessories to choose for this fall to update your essentials? I am working with a pretty basic wardrobe for a conservative office, but I would love to know what trends can help me look a little more fashionable too. Thanks!!

While I did discuss my favorite fashion trends for Fall 2012 I have yet to discuss accessories!  You gotta love accessories – budget-friendly, take up little space, and can completely transform a closet of wardrobe staples into a collection of fashion-forward clothing. While this season’s trends are a lot about specific clothing silhouettes and genres, there are some accessories that can modernize your basics.

Structured Bags
For the past few years, the “It Bag” has been big, but slouchy. Something that hangs off the shoulder or from the crook of your arm and can hold everything from a pair of commuter flats to a copy of War and Peace. This year big bags are still hot, but they have more structure to them. Framed bags, heavier-weight leather that stands on its own, satchels and totes are all the rage.

While black is always a safe bet, a bag is a great way to incorporate a trendy fall color. Oxblood, merlot, burgundy and all shades of dark red are hot hot hot and a great accent color to a wardrobe of staples in more neutral of shades. Winter white is the new black and looks amazing against black, gray, camel, and oxblood. Fur is a great way to go with color – faux fur in a deep shade of purple, red, or green with a classic shape can be quite chic and quickly modernize a wardrobe. If you choose to go black, consider a finish – shiny almost to the point of patent, croco-embossed, fur, snakeskin – texture is a big trend this fall and can make a basic black bag look positively luxe.

Powerful Boots
While boots are always a hot look for fall and winter, this season a few sexy and strong silhouettes have joined forces with the classics. While you can’t go wrong with a riding boot in dark brown or black, runway darlings like Givenchy, Gucci, and Proenza Schouler showed boots with guts – over the knee, inspired by military boots and Doc Martens – these boots have guts and glam.

Menswear-inspired yet Ladylike Shoes
Heeled loafers, brogues, slippers, and lace-up booties are all the rage this season. While similar styles were en vogue last year, this year the details are what bring such shoes to center stage. Tortoise shell accents, gold details, rhinestone buckles, brocade fabrics take these shoes from staid to spectacular. 

Bib Necklaces and Collars
This season has showcased many neck pieces that steal the show. Everything from lace collars at Rodarte to beaded and studded versions, and large necklaces that can stand in for a collar on your simple sheaths. Out of all the accessory trends this fall, I think this one makes the biggest impact for the least amount of money. It’s very easy to DIY your own detached collar or bib necklace, and retailers of all pricepoints are featuring collars and bib necklaces. Such a piece will make a simple black sheath look very on-trend and modern, or will jazz up your simple sweaters and knits.

Brooches are back and I couldn’t be happier. Be it a dangly gold pin peeking out from the collar of a button-front shirt a la Oscar de la Renta, a jeweled flower on your lapel, or a cluster of brooches on a tweed jacket, brooches add sparkle, texture, interest, and fall trends for very little money. Prada showed crystal and enamel brooches crawling on an orange trench like bejeweled bugs, Ralph Lauren tucked a jeweled brooch near the neckline of a simple black frock.

If you need a new pair of winter gloves, this is the year to get them. While a pair of classic black leather gloves are always chic, this season you will be able to find intricate stitching, unique details, cool colors, and unexpected lengths.  Gloves have also returned as an accessory that can be worn indoors.  I indulged in a pair of black opera-length leather gloves to wear with my bracelet-sleeve coats (and possibly with a LBD for a holiday party!) and am seriously considering a pair in oxblood to update my basic black wool outerwear.

Pony Hair
The fall runway shows were all about pony hair (also known as haircalf) Be it a clutch from Armani, strappy shoes from Brian Atwood, or a Charlotte Olympia lace-up bootie, this is a hot trend I have loved for years. My Ivanka Trump leopard-print pumps are pony hair and they end up looking more luxe and also more versatile than basic fabric. Pony hair really gives depth to animal prints and makes them look classic, not cheesy. An animal-print pony hair accessory can do a lot to transform wardrobe staples, be it a shoe, bag, or even a skinny belt.

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Ask Allie: Winter White

You’ve written before about how we shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day, but I saw a lot of white on the runways and even saw it on Man Repeller. How do you feel now about white after Labor Day?

The old rule in America was to retire your white clothing and shoes from September (which begins with Labor Day) to… well some say Easter (early spring), others say Memorial Day (end of May). And yes, this fall and winter as well as last year’s cold months showed an awful lot of white.

I have accepted white year-round… if it is still seasonably appropriate. Just because Leandra Medine is wearing white from head to toe in October doesn’t mean we can all don our white chino trousers, make a GIF of us squatting on a city street and look chic.

Winter white is called that for a reason, it is clearly different from regular crisp white. It has a hint of warmth to it – not quite ivory but its far paler cousin. A color that against true white would show contrast. Not only is winter white appropriate for winter, but it is more flattering to our skin which is likely more pale from the lack of warm sunshine.

And yes, many stylish women have been sporting crisp true white in fall and winter, but they do it with careful thought. No linen, no chino or cotton sateen; their white is wool, denim, leather, heavyweight knits and other fabrics appropriate for the season. The white trend is not an okay to make your summer clothes “work” in winter. No matter the hue, your garment should be seasonally appropriate.

When Lightweight Bright White is Appropriate:

  • White Shirts. Each time I write about white someone asks if their white cotton button-front shirt is appropriate in winter. Yes, a white shirt, be it silk, cotton, or lace is quite lovely in winter. Same goes for white tee shirts, and other white knit tops.
  • White Denim. I personally prefer winter white or white denim with contrast stitching, but all-white denim can work if it is paired properly. I find white denim quite chic when paired with neutrals like cream, tan, and khaki; white and black is always chic; and you can look like a winter wonderland when you pair white with gray, silver, and pewter.
  • Warmer Climates. If you live in Hawaii, I don’t expect you to dress in black as soon as it is September. Go ahead and wear your white, and wear it in fabrics that are comfortable for your specific environment. However, I do encourage you to consider the season in a sartorial manner, and consider pairing white with neutrals like gray, tan, and other shades of semi-white or incorporate a seasonally-appropriate accessory or trend.

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Stay Warm and Stylish This Winter

I regularly see dreadful fashion on the street, and I have been SO tempted to take pictures, but I don’t know what purpose that would have. How many times have you watched What Not to Wear, see Clinton and Stacy surprise a woman who has bad fashion, just to hear her say, “And I watch your show all the time!”

It’s hard to know when you are the one wearing bad fashion. Seeing a fellow woman with camel toe, muffin top or VPL won’t usually let you know that you are a fellow fashion tragedy. That being said, last week I took a picture of a stranger on the street:

This woman is just one of many women I see dressed in this manner in DC

I didn’t take this picture to show how horrible her fashion was, to embarrass a fellow female, or to add some comic relief to your RSS feed. I took it to make a point about winter fashion.

You don’t have to sacrifice style to be warm.

Individually, each piece this woman is wearing is fine. Half the women in Washington DC have that tote, and the other half own a similar coat. Those boots look quite warm, and could be cute with the right outfit. Warm tights are a must-have for any woman this time of year. the problem is the skirt.

Looking at that unique print, I wouldn’t be surprised if this woman is a vintage fan. Maybe she scours the racks of thrift stores and small boutiques looking for one-of-a-kind fashion that fits her fabulous quirky personality. The problem is that her funky silk skirt is NOT playing nice with her winter wardrobe.

Sometimes you just have to put your favorite pieces in the back of the closet until the next season.

I am all for mixing textiles – denim and lace, leather and silk, wool and charmeuse. Sometimes a heavyweight fabric is the perfect compliment to a delicate one – it shows off the texture and femininity of the piece without being too girly. However it is a special talent to own, and one misstep and you could look just as awkward as this woman.

It’s hard to wear such a lightweight skirt in winter and not get frostbite. The heavy woolen tights are catching on the silk lining of her skirt, and the lightweight fabric surprisingly makes her look more bulky when paired with heavy winter accessories. If she had switched out the skirt for one in wool, denim, corduroy, she would have looked more cohesive, and more stylish.

When purchasing cold-weather accessories, keep in mind your current wardrobe. If you are one who loves quirky vintage fashion, you may be better off with a longer wool coat with a nipped waist, than a waist-length puffer coat. Boots are so in style this season, it is possible to find a style that works with most any personal style. The boots this woman is wearing look warm and comfortable, but don’t compliment her dress, her coat, or her figure.

I wouldn’t be surprised that once this woman got to work, she pulled off the tights and boots and replaced them with bare legs and T-strap pumps; that she pulls a cute little bag (as well as her lunch and her pumps and maybe her laptop) out of that large black tote. The thing is, this woman spent several blocks outside to get to work, several more to get home, and possibly more time going out at lunch for a bite to eat. She invested in these pieces, and probably wears this jacket every time she goes out, be it to the grocery store or a bar to hang out with friends. Her boots could look cute with skinny jeans and a chunky sweater, but so could a sleeker leather pair that would also work with her office attire.

A wardrobe is a collection – you would never see Karl Lagerfeld send a collection of feminine frocks down the runway and pair them with dirty puffer vests and duck boots.

Elizabeth at So Much to Smile About recently wrote about this very same topic, and she has tons of pictures showing women who look terribly stylish while staying quite warm. Be they wearing a utilitarian parka or a faux fur vest, they show that their looks are cohesive – their winter accessories work with, not fight against the rest of their wardrobe.

If you have a feminine sense of style, there’s no reason why you can’t have a Thinsulate-lined lady coat from J. Crew and ruffle-edged suede gloves.  More of a rocker chick?  Biker jackets are back in a big way – find a style with thick lining and pair with some leather studded gloves and a black wool beanie.  Like the casual look?  Well you are in luck – parkas and duffle coats are available at places like Lands End, as are an amazing assortment of tall boots with great traction and warm linings.

Be good to yourself, and to your wardrobe. When you go shopping, think of your current wardrobe as a collection. Choose pieces that complement the collection and maintain a cohesive statement of your personal style.

Warm Winter Monday

Low 60’s in the Nation’s Capital and a great reason to wear a few lighter weight dresses sans hose!

Green and white print jersey wrap dress from H&M (look Ma, no Spanx this time!), white bead necklace snagged from my mom’s jewelry box decades ago, black round toe high heel pumps from Jessica Simpson.

Hair is being strange and very much in need of a cut. Washed, conditioned, bit of Paul Mitchell Styling Lotion, blown straight, and some Jonathan Dirt to make it look less done.

Makeup is L’Oreal True Match foundation and concealer, Physican’s Formula bronzer in light, Nars Orgasm blush, Revlon ColorStay quad in neutral – khaki and chocolate used. Maybelline Ultra Liner in black and L’Oreal Voluminous mascara in black. On lips is a Maybelline lipstick in a hot pink case called Ripe Plum.

Winter 2006 – Wardrobe Essentials

1. A Pair of Tall Boots. If you do not own a pair now, this is the season to purchase some. Kitten heels, flats, high heels, laces, suede, pointy toe or flat, they all seem to be stylish and in stock at every store.

Boots may seem like a major purchase as that most real-leather styles start around $200. The thing is, boots, if good quality, do not go out of style. If they are babied (keep them protected, stored properly, get them reheeled and resoled before each season) they will last you a very long time. My mother has a pair of boots that she purchased in 1962 and still wears (and still receives compliments on them!). Do not settle; it seems that every clothing store, shoe store and department store will have at least a couple varieties.

If you find that tall boots are too tight on your calves, do check out the stores I have listed in the sidebar for fuller figured women. Many offer high-quality boots in varying calf sizes. Mainstream stores like Naturalizer and J. Crew have also realized that not every woman has a 13” calf and also now offer larger calf sizes.

As for color, consider your wardrobe. I personally only own black boots as that I wear mainly black, bright colors, white and silver accessories. My friend who is blonde and prefers neutrals and pinks found a dark camel pair appropriate for her style; my coworker who has dark auburn hair and has a bit of a vintage feel to her J. Crew and Banana Republic staples recently invested in a chocolate brown leather pair with a wood stacked heel.

2. A Slimmer, Darker Jean. No, I am not telling every woman to toss her jeans and buy a pair of skin-tight black stovepipe jeans a la Kate Moss. These thin jeans do not look good on most shapes. What I am suggesting is a darker, cleaner jean. Less whiskering, bleaching and distressing, and no crazy flare, super low rise or baggy leg. These jeans are almost shaped like pants, they are straight or with a very slight boot cut, they are clean, maybe creased and they look expensive (even if they are not).

Tuck them into your boots and wear with a sweater for a jaunt to the mall. Wear with sassy heels and a blouse for a night out on the town. Pair with boots and a velvet blazer for a smart Casual Friday look. Stretch is acceptable, but do not confuse stretch for allowing tight. A stylish woman will not have painted-on jeans, no matter how fabulous her figure. Tight is trendy, tailored is eternal. Stretch will help the jeans keep their shape and be more comfortable. This also helps jeans keep their dark wash. Consider letting them hang-dry to maintain the color and size. A bit of distress at the seams (or crease, if there is one) can add to the personality of the jeans, but the holes, tears, rhinestone appliqué and zipper embellishments can be left on the rack.

3. A Work Dress.
I know I mentioned it before, but I have to mention it again. I have not seen dresses be so flattering, so acceptable for all situations and so plentiful in stores in a very long time. Dresses can make bumps turn into curves, boy figures into goddesses. A great dress can transcend trends and become a staple for many years to come.

The shirt dress has come back, and luckily in many variations. A heavy jersey fabric will glide over curves, a stiff poplin will create curves for those who are lacking them. A style just at or above the knee will make a woman look taller, a style hitting at the calf will make a tall woman look less leggy. Wrap styles whittle a waistline, skinny belts accentuate a small waist and wide stretchy belts with leather or suede buckles define a figure.

Not only shirt dresses are popular. Jumper-style dresses nod to childlike fashions of the 70’s and look great over turtlenecks and blouses. Kimono-inspired dresses hide a multitude of sins and look feminine and elegant. A-line, tent and bell-shaped styles are very modern and fun on slight figures. There is a dress (or five!) that will look great on every figure. This dress will work at work, at church, for a social occasion or a night out with the girls. Pair with boots or pumps for work or strappy heels for play.

4. Your Own personal “It” Bag. I am not telling you to go out and get a Fendi, a Marc Jacobs or a Balenciaga if your budget cannot afford it. You don’t even need to invest in a Coach, Kooba or Kate Spade; or a Kenneth Cole, DKNY or Fossil. I remember last winter my sister sported the coolest looking purse. It was a dark teal color with contrast stitching and silver hardware. She received raves from all her friends about how cool it was and such a great color. Where did she get it? Payless Shoe Source for $14.99. Point is, an “It” bag does not have to be dripping with logos or cost more than your home.

So what IS and “It” bag? It’s a bag that makes a statement. It’s a bag that has as much oomph, personality and style to look amazing just sitting on the table by itself. It is a little bigger than what you may be used to, but that’s so it is noticed.

Oomph and personality do not equal gaudiness. Pass on the fringe, studs, embroidery and patchwork unless you have a true designer bag. Brass or silver hardware is fine, as long as it is regulated to buckles, zippers with purpose and clasps. The bag should be big enough to hold your planner or a book or a larger water bottle, but not all three. We are not looking for carry-on luggage, but a daily handbag that can stow your essentials without overpowering your frame. For a petite woman, a bag that is 12” in length and 7” in height may be appropriate. Just realize this is not the season for a wallet on a string or the traditional crocheted Le Sak. As for fabric, leather is on all the runways, but suede is popular, canvas mixed with leather is seen often, and if you cannot afford or stomach leather, look for stylish pleather. Some washed PVC and faux croco bags look just as authentic as the real thing and hold up much better during inclement weather. Unless you are a Kate Spade devotee, it is time to give your microfiber bags a vacation. This is a season of luxe, and a square techno-fiber bag is not appropriate.

As for color, almost everything is acceptable, as long as it is not pure white (ivory and winter white is acceptable), metallic (that is last season and too “bling” for this season’s looks) or a bright shade. Black, brown, camel, olive, dark red, dark purple, plum, mallard blue, mustard and charcoal are all very popular this season. I personally have invested in a dark camel leather hobo-style bag with brass hardware for my daily “It” bag, feeling that it is a nice contrast to my wardrobe of red, blue and purples and doesn’t conflict with either brown or black shoes. My mom purchased a dark red pleather bag with contrast stitching, a more traditional shape and a silver buckle holding the main flap in place. My dear friend found a fabulous large framed bag in a very dark glazed berry leather with dark silver hardware and is sporting that and a brown suede hobo with no trim but a gold-capped suede tassel from the zipper pull. All are larger than last season, more substantial and have more charm and personality than the diminutive bags or blingy giant totes of previous seasons.

5. A Great Pair of Trousers. This is the season of trousers. These are a bit more than your standard Editor pants from Express. These are pants that make an outfit. That can be worn with a simple sweater or shirt but will be an OUTFIT. Be it Audrey Hepburn or Katherine Hepburn your channel, the look is defined and a bit retro. Full legged tweed trousers with a cuff and defined waist with a feminine ruffly blouse, skinny black cropped pants that are paired with ballet flats, winter white fluid pants that stand out against a black jacket and heels, high-waisted pinstripe menswear-inspired trousers with a crisp white shirt. These pants make a statement.

Consider your shape and size when you consider these type of pants. High-waisted full-legged trousers will not look best on a petite zaftig frame, and skinny cropped pants may just look a tad shrunken on a long lean figure. If you are afrais to shy from your standard flattering cut, consider a different fabric, print or color. Winter white is big this season and pops against black, brown and the dark romantic colors that are in the stores. A conservative tweed with a surprising ribbon of green, pumpkin or salmon can look fresh added to your current wardrobe of blouses and blazers. A basic black trouser updated with a tuxedo stripe will freshen up your standard white shirt and black pumps.

6. A White Shirt. Be it a standard crisp cotton button-down, a tuxedo-inspired version with oodles of ruffles, a silken one with princess sleeves and pearl buttons or a stretch poplin wrap style with French cuffs, all are hot for this season.

Shirts with a bit of lycra will refrain from wrinkling through the day and will be less likely to tug at the bust and shoulders. If you are short waisted, no matter your height consider a petite version (do you find your shirts often bunch at the lower back? Try petites – Ann Talyor carries up to a 16 petite in many of their shirts). Many brands like Rebecca and Drew now offer sizes according to bust-size, preventing gaping at the buttons.

White shirts do not need to be tucked in. Curved hemlines and tailored shapes are made to be worn untucked and can look elegant with trousers, jeans and skirts. Accessorize with pearls, gold chains or a beloved scarf. If the shirt has detail (ruffles, pintucks, decorative buttons) minimize the accessories and let the shirt be the focus.

7. A Wool Coat. This is not a wool jacket, this is a COAT. A jacket that is anywhere between thigh-length and calf-length. It is a stylish, elegant coat that works with jeans as well as a cocktail dress. This coat is a necessity unless you live in warmer or tropical climates (where I would recommend a trench in it’s place).

The cost should not be the focus this season, this season is about luxe details. Find detail in scarves, gloves, bags and shoes. Your coat should be a canvas for the rest of your look. Consider single-breasted, this is flattering on most shapes and elongates the body. Look for a more tailored shape, no matter your size a heavy coat will be more flattering if it glides against your shape instead of hiding it. Wrap styles are better for trenches and lighter-weight fabrics so look for a more simple style. To help reduce bulk, look for high-tech linings like Thinsulate that will add warmth without the padding.

As for color, black and brown are safe, classic choices. Like purses, dark muted colors are neutrals this season. A camel, deep plum or ivory coat can look quite smart. Do not get too trendy with this coat; a coat should be able to last you for many years. Because of this fact, look for quality. Lower end wools and wool blends often are lint-magnets and get balled up under arms and places that are rubbed often. Places like Burlington Coat Factory and TJ Maxx often have wonderful quality (and often designer) coats at reduced prices.

Winter = Red Lipstick

Red lipstick with a tan is tacky.

Red lipstick with pale skin is sassy.

It’s the month of turkey and cornucopias, therefore I can pull out my favorite red lipstick. Revlon’s Colorstay Lipcolor in Burgundy. Not candy apple, not fire engine, not Chanel, not cherry. A dark red. the color of wine, the color of blood, the color of class.

I am wearing the same charcoal gray suiting trouers as yesterday, the same black pointy heeled boots, a black scoop neck cotton sweater from Caslon, and a red print scarf I got at Express in 2000 when I still worked there. Folded it the short way and knotted it, fluffing the ends so they bloom out like a flower.

Foundation and powder: i.d. Bare Escentuals. Goes on great with the i’d’ foundation brush and Sephora’s bronzer brush.
Eyes: a pale taupe shadow from The Body Shop, a pale ivory shadow int he inner corners of the eyes, black liquid liner from maybelline and black Zoom Lash mascara from MAC.
Cheeks: Nars Orgasm. In the winter, don’t leave home without it!

What I Wore: Winterized

Dress: Issa for Banana Republic | Tights: DKNY | Shoes: Nine West “Lottie” | Bracelets: had forever, c/o Ruth Barzel Jewelry Design | Glasses: Derek Cardigan 7014 | Lipstick: NARS “Hyde Park”

I wore this same outfit on the blog before, even down to one of the same bracelets… but last time it was warm enough to run around with bare legs. This dress is a nice heavy weight that doesn’t cling to tights or any of my curves, and is a bit warm. The neck is high enough that I can wear a v-neck cami underneath, and these tights are super thick; paired with a knee-length coat, scarf, hat, and gloves I’m good to go this winter!

And yes… new glasses! has some deals that are just too good to pass up.  They have a few styles that are free to new customers (look at the top of the site for the promotion), and once you buy from them they send you 50,000 emails, but most have good promotions.  With a $49 Derek Cardigan promotion they were having and a promo code I found on RetailMeNot these ended up being about $20.  And if you go through Ebates, you get 5% cash back on purchases from!

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Healing Winter Skin with Vaseline [Sponsored]

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Vaseline. All opinions are 100% mine.

vaeline 1

Whether or not I want to admit it, winter is here. The coats and gloves have come out, and my body is reacting to the colder, drier air. My humidity-happy hair has gone limp, my face is dry and sensitive, and my body looks like a crocodile. Vaseline asked me to take their Five Day Challenge with their Intensive Care body lotion and looking down at my parched hands I couldn’t think of a better time for it.

vaseline 4

Come winter I usually switch to a moisturizer so thick it has to be in a tub, so when Vaseline sent me a bottle of their Intensive Care Advanced Repair Fragrance Free lotion (along with an adorable personalized mug, and hot Godiva hot cocoa!) I didn’t expect it to get the job done. But I must say I was surprised and pleased. The lotion leaves a very silky feeling on the skin, but it’s not at all greasy. It’s an unusual silky feeling not found in other lotions I have used, possibly because of micro-droplets of Vaseline Jelly in the formula. But this wasn’t a bad thing, and the formula kept my skin feeling soft and looking hydrated all day long.

vaseline 3

As for the five day challenge? It made me a convert. I was really impressed by how the product did what it claims – it healed my dry skin in just five days. The test strips above prove it – the first one I pressed against my elbow before trying the lotion; the second one was pressed against the same elbow after five days. I may have finished the Five Day Challenge but I haven’t finished the bottle…. Yet! I’m seriously liking the results and will be using this lotion all winter long. It’s nice to get such great results from a wallet-friendly brand!

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Capsule Wardrobe: Skinny Jeans for Winter

Allie you shared something on Facebook about skinny jeans aren’t stylish any more. I just bought three pairs of skinny jeans in brown, jean color, and a tan cord. How can I make them look okay this winter? What tops are best with them, what shoes? I live in Michigan so I need to be warm.

The conversation on that article went deeper into what jeans are coming back en vogue, and how even though they say skinnies are dead they aren’t going anywhere. Like boot cut jeans, peasant tops, a-line shift dresses, and tall boots; there’s some trends that won’t go away even though fashion “experts” say they are dead. They don’t ever die because we real women with real bodies find these trends flattering and extremely wearable. It’s funny how five years ago many of us refused to adopt the skinny jean trend and now we refuse to let the trend go. But just because one news article says skinnies are passé doesn’t mean you need to find a whole new wardrobe. I’m still rocking my skinnies because though I was a late adopter, I now LOVE THEM.  And what matters most when it comes to style is wearing what is true to you, wear what you love!

capsule wardrobe casual winter skinny jeans cold weather

I’ve found the best way to incorporate a trend, whether hot off the runway or something the New York Times deems dated, is to wear it with similar colors. Create a color story with your wardrobe, mixing varying shades of similar hues or going monochromatic. For this capsule collection based off your skinnies wardrobe, I stuck to a warm palette of neutrals that will look luxe and show the skinnies are a purposeful addition to your closet.

When wearing skinny pants, it’s important to balance the figure or you can quickly look like a lollipop. Luckily, this is easy to do when it’s cold and you want lots of weight and layers. The first row of tops are the type that can just be thrown on with skinnies and look chic: tunics, slouchy sweaters, ponchos, and chunky knits that balance the frame. The second row is all about the layers; a knit blazer adds polish without sacrificing comfort or warmth, and waterfall cardigans and sweater coats are cozy and on trend while balancing the frame.

Shop the Look:

Speaking of base layers, this year has really embraced layering, and practical layering at that. Turtlenecks are easy to find at all pricepoints, henleys are back in style, and there’s nothing wrong with even putting another layer under these pieces. Because I’m Allie, I added a striped knit which adds interest to an outfit of solids, and I also find to be the easiest pattern to mix with other patterns.

As for shoes, I also believe balance is important and I also believe in the importance of function over fashion. I chose three different shoes that will balance the skinny jeans while keeping you warm and dry through the winter. A pair of tall boots are a perfect pairing over skinny jeans. A pair of ankle boots are also a great pairing and this season chunky marled socks have come back in fashion and look great filling the space between cuffed skinny and boot (or over tucked-in skinny for extra cold weather protection). Use a waterproofing spray on your leather shoes and put rolled magazines in them to improve ventilation and help them keep their shape. Finally, if you’re in an area that has snow and slush, by all means wear boots appropriate for the weather! A traditional lace-up style of duck boot is back on trend and looks great laced up over skinnies.

Accessories are what pull a look together. Pashminas and infinity scarves are stylish while adding warmth and color to an outfit. A wide leather belt can cinch those sweaters to create a completely different look. Having a quality bag can add a luxe look even to discount mart knits and make the wearing of snow boots quite chic. Choosing one in a color similar to your leather shoes ties an entire ensemble together.

Guest Post: Music for a Neverending Winter

By This Is Our Jam

As it becomes later in March, we’re just SO over winter at this point — and we can only imagine that as a victim of black ice, Allie agrees with us! Doesn’t the universe know that it just needs to warm up and stay spring-like — and that a St. Patrick’s Day snow storm is just not okay?

In honor of Allie’s broken wrist, we’ve come up with a playlist to say “screw you!” to winter. Take a listen, and join us in our anti-snow dances. We’ll even take some of the DC area pollen in exchange for permanently warmer weather. And you know that’s desperation.

This Is Our Jam is the (mostly) musical brainchild of three friends who, once upon a time, changed their GChat statuses a lot. Krista, Kristen, and Stacey love to share music, YouTube gems, and other assorted thoughts with the world. Whether new music we’ve just discovered at a DC concert or old throwbacks from childhood, we have a lot of jams that we think the world should hear. We don’t define ourselves as a critical music blog (we leave all the detailed critiques and musical theory to musicality experts), but rather we aim to be an entertaining source for both finding new music and re-discovering songs and artists that may have gotten buried in your iTunes library.  Follow This Is Our Jam for tunes, assorted thoughts, and so much more online, on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

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Flat Work Shoes for Fall and Winter

A big request that comes in my mailbag is suggestions for work-appropriate flats. I’m glad to see such requests, because not every flat is created equal. I hate to burst your bubble, but standard issue ballet flats and the patent elastic-backed flats do not give an air of professionalism, no matter the brand name. Not only that, such shoes offer so little support they aren’t very comfortable or healthy for your arches. Luckily, flats have come back en vogue the past few seasons and there’s a wonderful assortment of stylish, chic, and supportive heel-free shoes available that will give you an air of professionalism. A few styles I am loving this fall:

The Oxford
I wrote about the oxford or brogues trend last fall/winter, but this trend is still quite hot. With the second season, there’s more variety and style available. From animal-print calfhair to metallics to more classic wingtips, there’s an oxford shoe that works with most any personal style. A plus to the oxford is it is a style of flat that looks quite chic with hosiery.

Such a shoe looks amazing with trousers, be you channeling Katharine Hepburn with a wide-leg menswear style, or a trim ankle-length cut. I also like oxfords with boyfriend and ankle-length straight jeans. I have seen many women carry off oxfords with fuller skirts of every length from mid-thigh to ankle, but you need to have a very defined personal style and understanding office to carry off that look.

The Smoking Slipper
Another flat trend that has carried over from last year, the smoking slipper, is easy, comfortable, elegant, and work appropriate. Such a shoe looks great with trousers of any leg width, and with all the prints and fabrics available, can add a personal touch to a more traditional suit.

The Loafer
The loafer has returned, and in all styles and heel heights. The flat loafer is a classic and looks excellent with jeans and trousers, as well as pleated skirts and kilts. The collegiate look is trending this fall, and a tassel or penny loafer fits the bill perfectly and comfortably. Like oxfords, this style of flat looks chic with a sock or other form of hosiery.

If your style is more eclectic, consider a loafer with a pointed toe, an unusual fabric or finish, or unexpected hardware. I love the juxtaposition of a tough leather moto jacket, jeans, and then a classic penny loafer.

The Pointed Toe Flat
While a pointed toe may seem like torture for a heel, a pointed toe is more of an accessory on a flat shoe. Without the angle, the toes aren’t shoved into the narrow front, but sit comfortably in the normal-width body of the shoe.

As a petite woman, I love the pointed toe flat because it extends the look of the leg. It looks fantastic peeking out of trousers, as well as being paired with cropped and narrow pants. I also find it more flattering with skirts than rounded-toe ballet flats.

Flat Booties
This season, two popular flat ankle-height boot styles are the Chelsea boot (more of a riding boot style with elastic gussets on the side) and the Beatle boot (very sleek, slim profile with an elongated pointed toe). Both styles are far more professional looking than the chunky bulbous ankle boot styles that are also available in stores this season. Like the oxford and loafer, this form of flat begs to be worn with socks to keep you warm this winter.

Both styles of bootie are extremely versatile and lend to the season’s pant trends. They can peek out of classic or wide-leg trousers, but also look very on trend with narrow, cropped, and pleated styles. Both also look quite modern with skirts, from a pencil to a pleated midi. A black flat bootie with black tights is a wonderful winter base for dresses and skirts.

How to Determine if a Flat is Work Appropriate:

  • Fabric.  Canvas, denim, metallic twill, jelly, rubber, cartoon prints… if you’re looking for flats for Corporate America you should likely steer clear from these fabrics.  Leather, patent, haircalf, matte velvet, suede, croco-embossed, snakeskin… choose a more traditional fabric for a more traditional and professional feel.
  • Details.  While I find the stud trend to be quite fun, it may not be appropriate for the office.  With the return of the flat has come some very wacky details – rhinestone-encrusted toes, plastic heart shoe clips, 1″ long spikes, clear vinyl cutouts… if it’s not appropriate to be worn to work on your torso it likely isn’t the best choice for your feet.  Also look for details that make shoes too casual – lug or gum soles, visible stitching, visible logos, industrial-style lacing.
  • Trim.  The quickest way to make a shoe look casual is the trim around the opening.  A lovely leather flat, and then a polka-dot grosgrain trim.  Sleek patent shoe, and then an elasticized opening.  A work shoe should be more polished, and an easy way to achieve that is having the shoe be consistent from top to sole.
  • Structure.  If one can see the shape of your toes through the shoe, they’re not structured enough for the office.  If your foot is spilling over the sole onto the ground, they’re not structured enough for the office.  If you look as though you don’t have feet under your trouser legs, they’re not structured enough for the office (ballet flats are infamous for such a travesty). 
  • Condition.  Color worn from the toe, sole peeling away from the shoe, scuffed, the back bent up from wearing as slides… your place of work is why you can buy shoes in the first place so show it a bit of respect.  Keep those shoes for the commute to the office and change once you arrive; this way your work shoes last longer and stay looking crisp.

My list is not all-inclusive.  There are many styles that are out there right now, and fashion is so accepting this day and age, you don’t have to stick to just the current hot trends.  The goal is to look polished, structured, and professional, and you can achieve this no matter the height of your heel!

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Ask Allie: Winter Hosiery Advice

Winter is here for the foreseeable future. For years now, I have forced myself to wear dress pants to work in the winter months. I have cute dresses that sit in my closet and I tell myself that maybe this week will be the time I wear them! But alas, they sit in my closet unworn. So here is where I need your help.

I am a size 12/14. What tights can I buy that will fit correctly, be comfortable and stay up throughout the day? What color tights are appropriate for what color schemes? When is it appropriate to wear navy, or brown over black or even gray. What about sheer tights?  Thanks for helping me face my fears!

Funny how tights have been around for so long and are such a necessity, yet are so complicated, uncomfortable, and downright overwhelming for many! I’ll admit, I shop winter dresses and skirts thinking about tights – will the garment go with tights? Will I need to purchase a new style or color for them? As I am the same size as you and have in the past been just as overwhelmed by hosiery options, here’s some tips I use?

My Favorite Brands of Tights:
I have become extremely picky with my tights purchases. I have found that if I purchase quality when on sale, the price isn’t too terrible and the tights will last more than one season. I don’t like tights that cut me in half, have such intense control tops that I get gas pains by lunch, or stretch out so much I have baggy ankles. My favorites:

  • Spanx Super durable, super opaque, and keep their shape. They have so many variations, I find the more Spanx-y types (high waisted, split gusset, lots of control) are more worth the money as they are made of better materials and keep their shape longer. While they are control garments, they are relatively comfortable. Their “regular” tights I find to not be as good – they cut me in half and stretch out.
  • DKNY – I have MAJOR love for DKNY hosiery. Their super opaque tights are exactly that – completely opaque, but not shiny or textured or weird. They don’t cut my body in half, they hold their shape and don’t fall down, and have even survived accidentally being washed and dried with a load of jeans. Not only that, DKNY has petite plus sizing, which is utterly fantastic.
  • Nordstrom – These are standard-issue opaque tights – not super opaque but not stockings/sheer. While they are considered control top, they don’t really do much for that but the control top does keep the tights from falling down. I don’t have issue with them cutting me in half, and if you hand wash or gentle cycle in a lingerie bag and drip dry, they will last at least one season, sometimes two. I don’t know if this year the quality is as good as previous years as I have had my tights run a bit more this winter, but that just may be my clumsy self.

What Color Tights?
In my lingerie drawer, I have four pairs of black (two regular, one super opaque, one with control top), one pair of brown, and one pair of gray. I really stick to neutrals because I find colored tights to not fit my personal style nor flatter my curvy yet petite legs. To elongate my legs, I usually match my hosiery to my shoes, this also helps with figuring out what color tights to pair with a dress or skirt.

  • Black is a safe bet – for many seasons, designers have been showing opaque black tights with everything from frothy white frocks to neon leather pencil skirts. A relatively opaque leg with black shoes is a neutral and a good base for most prints and fabrics. Black however can be harsh and may be too overpowering for delicate prints, pastels, and soft neutrals.
  • Brown is a good alternative for those who find black too strong or wear primarily neutral or softer tones. Brown is also easy to find at retailers, though you want to look for a color that is the right amount of cool or warm to complement your wardrobe as well as your footwear (see here).
  • Gray is also a great alternative for those who find black too harsh and is regularly found at mass retailers. Gray is a subtle way to break up a primarily black ensemble (see here), and I have found it to be a color that is flattering to most figures. I love gray with pastels, deep jewel tones, as well as other neutrals.
  • Navy has always been a color I love but find difficult. However, these days navy has become quite chic when paired with black. Navy tights can be a great alternative to gray, adding interest to an all black or neutral ensemble. Navy is also great for vintage lovers since many prints from previous decades incorporate navy. However, navy isn’t really a neutral for hosiery unless you have a lot of navy in your wardrobe. You will rarely find shoes to match, and like brown it comes in so many shades veering from dark bright blue to almost black.
  • Fun colors… are fun. Some people can really carry them off, as seen in this post I did about blogger fashion trends. However, I find you need to be extremely comfortable with your personal style and hosiery to wear them well. As that you’re a tights newbie, you may want to stick to neutral shades until you get the hang of it.
  • Patterned hosiery I put in the same category as color – you need to be comfortable with both hosiery and your personal style to properly style them. I have worn patterned hosiery a totally of ONE time on this blog because I just don’t feel as though they look right on me, though I see women rock them on a regular basis and look phenomenal. As with any fashion, if you feel awkward in something, I don’t recommend wearing it. Confidence is the best accessory!

Hosiery Denier
Denier is a term used to measure the opacity or thickness of hosiery. The higher the number, the thicker or more opaque. Sheer stockings are usually around 10 – 15 denier, while opaque tights are around 40 denier or more.

  • Sheer Hosiery/Stockings went out of vogue for quite a while, but thanks to runway shows featuring sheer black legs and the Duchess of Cambridge wearing them with her classic personal style, such hosiery has again become acceptable.
  • Black stockings can look a bit too sultry for day if worn incorrectly – it’s important to note shoe and skirt height and style – a more conservative hemline and heel will balance the hose. 
  • Skin-colored stockings, it’s important to wear something as close to your skin as possible – even if you are pale, it’s better than artificially-colored legs that resemble ice skaters. Luckily companies like Frangi Pangi exist that offer a multitude of shades to better fit the many different colors of us women. As for any other color of sheer, I leave those to the True Fashionistas who are able to take the unusual and make it look natural and fabulous!

How to Stay Warm?
There are fleece-lined tights, but I’ll admit I have never found any that fit my petite curvy frame properly. I know of many a woman who doubles up her tights to stay warm through the winter (not only do you have better wind protection but more opacity!). A long commuter coat, tall boots, boot socks, and even legwarmers can do much to keep you comfortable when heading to the office. But now I ask you readers who live in far colder climates than me, what do you do to stay warm, comfortable, and stylish when wearing skirts and tights in winter?

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