From Allie’s Mailbag

Boy you guys have had a lot of questions lately! Not that questions are a bad thing – on the contrary and I am more than happy to answer them. Those that I believe may be questions of other readers, I like to post here for reference:

What are the Staples for a Stay at Home Mom?
I have been blasted in the past for not understanding the needs and life of a mother, and I agree I have not been in your shoes. However I have posted about the clothing of an SAHM here and here.

As for great tips from a stylish Stay At Home Mom, I recommend that you visit this blog. Leah always looks chic and still is able to crawl on the floor, scramble up monkey bars and manage 50,000 things and little ones at once. She is a wonderful inspiration and her blog is packed with great ideas.

naomi wattsHow Does One Wear Black with Navy?
A good question as that this color combo is popping up on celebs, fashionistas and Erin Featherstone for Target collections this season.

I have found that if your navy is more on the indigo side, and your black is true, the contrast is strong enough to not look as though you dressed in the dark. Also, use one of the colors as an accent hue – if you have a navy dress with a black patent belt and heels, a navy blouse with black skirt, black heels and maybe a black belt or jacket; a black outfit with a indigo belted trench a la Jess Simpson this past summer. Another option is to have a piece such as a blouse, scarf or skirt in a print that holds black and navy in it to pull together the rest of the outfit.

These tips can also work to combine black with brown – by having one hold the spotlight and another as an accent color, the combination looks purposeful and crisp.

5492460Can You Help with Proper Hem Lengths?
This was asked by one of my petite readers. Unfortunately, a good tailor does not always mean a fashion-knowledgeable tailor and it requires you to be armed with proper pant and sleeve lengths before entering the shop.

First, it is near impossible to have one standard length of pant that works with all of your shoes, unless all of your shoes are 4” heels or flats. Take with you the shoe height you are most likely to wear with the pants you are having hemmed so you have a realistic idea of proper length.

Even if you have pinned the length on the pants before arriving at the tailor, do change into these trousers and have the tailor re-pin the hems. If you did the pinning yourself, bending over will give an unrealistic idea of proper length, and if you did it by holding up another pair of pants, it still may not be accurate due to the cut of the trousers and your body shape (one leg may be longer or thicker, adjusting the length ever so slightly – no human is symmetrical).

As for the length, the pant should end up falling somewhere between the top and middle of the shoe’s heel. This length will keep you puddle-safe, will give a nice break (bend of fabric) at your instep and the pant will fall straight without bunching or showing off your ankle bone.

5511771As for flats, I often see women end the pant at the bottom of the ankle bone. This is fine if you are going for a more retro look, but if you are trying to achieve a professional or polished look, there should be no ankle showing. Your pant should hit right a twinge above where the fabric/leather of the flat ends and the sole begins. Short enough to survive shallow puddles, but long enough to not resemble high waters.

With jeans, if you want to keep the look of the jean but cut off many inches, look to a denim professional. – major cities have shops dedicated to this practice but for those of us not near one these places, higher end department stores like Nordstrom usually offer this service for free if you purchased the jeans there, for a fee if not.

As for jackets, the sleeve should end right at the top of your hand so that as you move, you don’t have your entire wrist exposed, but when standing still, your entire hand is visible. Again, the jacket should lie flat when standing still – no bunching and no wrist showing.

If you are unsure if the garment is pinned at the right place, do not hesitate to ask the tailor to press the potential hem line (fabric permitting) for a better view. It’s pretty easy to lop off a few inches from a sleeve, but hard to fix if it is done too short. Always trust your instinct – you know your body and style best!

What is the Difference between Cheap and Fugal?
Frugal is scouring sales racks, researching items to find the best price before purchasing, getting to know your salespeople so you are tipped off to sales and promotions, checking out places like eBay and even thrift stores to find expensive items at a song. Frugal is ignoring name brands and looking for what you need and saving up for what you don't need but terribly love. Frugal is spending probably the same amount as someone who is cheap, but ending up with less item that last longer and are more versatile.

Often people will scoff at an expensive item, not taking into account that those more expensive shoes may last for eight years of stylish wear, an acrylic sweater will pill and stretch out and a wool one will look the same seasons after the purchase. Being frugal is finding that quality, but getting it for the best darn price and not succumbing to whims and trends. So really, they can be the same to some, but to me cheap means all about the price, and frugal means all about the value.


  1. Anonymous
    August 31, 2010 / 2:29 am

    why not:)

  2. December 4, 2007 / 4:42 am

    i love black with navy, and i’ve seen the black & brown combination and i am liking that one too.

    i like the cheap vs frugal. i just scored a $390 brand new theory tuxedo for $29.98, now i could have easily walked into f21 & bought one at that price and have it fall apart, in this case, RIGHT in the dressing room!!! being frugal takes more time & patience but it’s definitely worth it!

  3. December 3, 2007 / 12:39 am

    The definition of frugal is what I thought but that was a tidy explanation.

  4. November 21, 2007 / 7:30 pm

    Thanks for answering my navy/black question! Based on your advice, I think I was doing it right. Although asking the hubby how I look rarely works, since he has all the fashion sense of your typical engineer. 🙂

    Oh, and the sleeve hemming length….grrr! I guess I have a jacket and a coat where the sleeve lengths are too short! That’s what I get for buying petite sizes in tops when I’m really only petite on the bottom! Oh well, at least my shirts are longer than my jacket sleeves so my wrists don’t show, and hopefully give it an intentional “bracelet-sleeve” length look. 😉

    Oh, and I always thought the difference between cheap and frugal had to do with who was the recipient. When you’re scrimping on yourself, you’re frugal, when you’re scrimping when giving to others, you’re just cheap (although of course, I think this applies more to the value than the price, too). Price is often no indicator of quality, so it’s value that should be the standard, no matter what the price tag says.

  5. November 21, 2007 / 8:01 am

    really cool blog you have here. im liking the advice about those pant legs myself.


  6. November 21, 2007 / 5:51 am

    THANK YOU!!!! I knew when I asked you about pant length you would explain it in terms I could get. : ) I HATE having pants hemmed since I always end up with pants too short but now I know how to explain what I want and what the length should be.

    Now crossing my fingers that my tailor can do an original hem on jeans. : ) That is the sucky thing about only being 4’10, even petite size jeans need to be hemmed.

  7. Merideth
    November 16, 2007 / 3:25 pm

    I commented on the “don’t be a snob” posting that I was kind of cheap, and I guess I am … one of my favorite pairs of pants is Jaclyn Smith from K-Mart. The slight boot-cut silhouette is flattering, they’re the perfect vanilla ice cream color to wear four seasons, they’re fully lined, and they wear like iron — just throw them in the machine with some Shout and any spot comes right out. Are they going to completely fall apart some day soon? Probably. In the meantime, they were nineteen bucks and I’m loving them.

  8. November 16, 2007 / 1:50 pm

    Leah, I say go for it! You have a great sense of style and as a fabu chic SAHM, I know that list will be a must-have for any mom! 🙂

  9. November 16, 2007 / 5:22 am

    Thank you! I agree with Kristen. Your blog has great advice for all women! “Staples for the Stay at Home Mom” – what a great idea. May I write on this topic? Thanks again!


  10. November 16, 2007 / 12:05 am

    In my head I’ve always thought of Kmart as ‘cheap’ and Target as ‘value’. Not to knock Kmart for other items, but the clothes……hmmm.

  11. Anonymous
    November 15, 2007 / 10:05 pm

    I *heart* your blog so much. And I’m glad to see posts about how busy moms can stay fashionable even in their new lifestyle. Everytime a certain co-worker compliments me, she says, “I guess that’s how you can dress when you don’t have kids.” Not referring to my figure, but to the outfit. I don’t have kids, so I won’t pretend to get what it’s like to try to get out the door in the morning, but my “outfit” is usually a simple dress, bracelet, and boots…nothing that took a great deal of planning. Your blog gives me hope that I will be able to stay fashionable even though I might be a mom someday.

  12. November 15, 2007 / 8:36 pm

    Great post – the info about trouser length is very useful. Where have you been all my life? I’ve been walking around looking like I’m wearing knickerbockers…

  13. November 15, 2007 / 7:19 pm

    Even though I am a stay at home mom I have found that I can apply most of your advice to my lifestyle. Keep up the good work!

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