Weekend Reads #164

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I have felt overwhelmed for a while, but it has really reached a head this summer. Last year, I was so nervous for my job, I never took a break. And now I feel burned TF out. I'm going to therapy, I am working out, I am trying to get sleep, trying to meditate, I even went and splurged on a massage. But I am still fried.

Summer is always a time when I slow down the business, but I haven't done that since 2019. Last year I was panicking, unsure of my future and my finances. I haven't taken a break since. Sure, our family just went on a road trip, but you and I know that planning and attending a family road trip to multiple states ain't relaxing. And taking time off work means playing catchup for pretty much as many days as one is away.

And I have more travel this month. And it's all with extended family, which is awesome but has its own unique stressful and emotional taxing moments. I was going to keep the trip in the middle of the month short because there is no Wifi where we're staying, but I have decided to stay the full week with the family. And I am going to chill out a bit the rest of this month so I don't go into fourth quarter already fried. Because fourth quarter is INTENSE when you are a blogger/influencer. It's a snowball from back to school/fall fashion right into holiday gift guides but it keeps rolling with January sales, February taxes, and next thing you know it's spring.

I have deleted this a few times. I have said, come on Alison, you can do it. You may be away today but tomorrow night when you get home you can pull together a blog post. Take some photos of your outfits this weekend, write content on your phone while waiting for a meal or a friend and put it all together. Use those small moments to make something big. You've got this.

But I don't want to anymore. I am tired. I am a mean mom and a grumpy wife and a short-tempered daughter. I don't see my friends, I don't have hobbies, and when I do go to bed my mind won't shut off because of all the things on my to-do list. So things will be relaxed here on Wardrobe Oxygen through the remainder of August so I can get my shit together and not only survive the rest of the year, but enjoy it.

I feel guilty writing all this. I feel so entitled and spoiled and lazy. And I hate that I feel this way. I mean come ON, we've lived through lockdown, we have had loved ones die, we've had our jobs affected, we still have a pandemic raging across this globe. And I'm feeling guilty for having a reduced work schedule for the rest of the month. I hate that we're immersed in such a culture that we see value in working beyond our physical and mental capacities and reward working hard over working smart.

But I'm not deleting because I know regardless of your job or situation, you may be feeling the same. Guilt for not getting back to normal, guilt for not being as productive as you have been before, guilt for taking time to relax and decompress and heal. I regularly preach the oxygen mask theory – you need to care for yourself before you can properly care for others. Well let's do it. Let's all give ourselves some grace and some space so we can be better workers, lovers, parents, caregivers, and friends. We all deserve it.

Weekend Reads

Amanda Knox: ‘My Identity Continues to Be Exploited' (The Atlantic)

A woman's intimate recording of Wyoming in the early 20th century. (New Yorker)

Remembering Edith Massey, one of Baltimore’s original Dreamlanders on the 40th anniversary of ‘Polyester.' (Baltimore Magazine)

We found a way to vaccinate way more people: All it took was a block party. (Washington Post)

Meet the trans woman suing to block Montana’s awful birth certificate law. (Them)

Sandra Oh on challenging the unbelievable pressure of being a modern woman. (The Cut)

Reckoning with the theft of Native American children. (Vox)

See 35 looks from Vogue Magazine's September global fashion spectacular. (Vogue)

Remembering Prince through stories of those who knew him. (AnOther Magazine)

When the headlines won't stop, here's how to cope with anxiety. (NPR)

You want to be productive. Software wants to help. But even with a glut of tools claiming to make us all into taskmasters, we almost never master our tasks. (Wired)

6 lessons Simone Biles just taught our girls. (Washington Post)

TerraCycle recycles everything from Solo cups to Febreze canisters, but are they doing more harm than good? (Vox)

You're going to need proof of vaccination to attend New York Fashion Week. (WWD)

American shoppers are a nightmare. (The Atlantic)

It started because he went to watch the sunrise. Now he’s a trusted confidant to strangers each morning from his bench. (Washington Post)

Retailers are bracing for a holiday worker shortage — and shoppers should be, too. (Dallas Morning News)

Looking for plus-sized swimwear over a 24W? My friend Emily has you covered. (Authentically Emmie)

Why so many American Olympians are broke. (Insider)


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This week Karl and I watched the first couple of episodes of 100 Foot Wave, the documentary series about surfer Garrett McNamara, who visited Nazaré, Portugal in hopes of conquering a 100-foot wave. In the process, he and his team turned a small fishing village into one of the world's pre-eminent big-wave surfing destination.

My thoughts on this documentary? If you dig surfing, you should see this. I didn't find this documentary very inspirational or anything I could connect to my life. My husband loved it but he used to surf and knew the story of this big wave and liked knowing the behind-the-scenes. I just felt for McNamara's wife, though she totally sighed up for this role knowing the job description. Eh… it was nice to look at. I was able to do a lot of this blog post while watching it, so if you're looking for that kind of TV, this is a pretty and positive option.

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We finished Domina, are still watching Gossip Girl and The White Lotus, and plan to dig into season 2 of Ted Lasso. And while I don't watch most reality TV, Real Housewives of Potomac. is a guilty pleasure. How can I resist when they live nearby and go to places I recognize and sometimes I recognize people I know at their parties?

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We're also watching Making the Cut, an Amazon Prime show that has Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum and it's a fashion designer competition show but it is not Project Runway. And that is not a dig; I really feel this show is different. It's more serious, the designers more established and not chosen for their entertaining personalities and antics. There is no Mood; the designers have access to most any fabric and notion they desire so the stress is placed on time management, delegation, and talent.

Screenshot 2021 07 16 at 13.58.53 1024x424 1

The judges are Heidi, Jeremy Scott, and Winnie Harlow with occasional guest judges such as Shiona Turini and Prabal Gurung (who wore a look I want in my closet STAT and I can't believe the only photo I can find of it online is the one above and a few on his IG). Their commentary on the looks is really smart and appropriate to the designers' future careers.

making the cut three judges

Since watching this doc on Jeremy Scott I am even more a fan, and on this show, he is blunt and honest but gosh I love to see that sweetness when he sees great design or hears the passion in a designer's voice. Heidi Klum is a walking Barbie doll and each week she floors me with not just her fashion but her makeup and hair and styling.

making the cut season 2 designers contestants 800x500.jpg

The winner each week gets one of their pieces sold at Amazon. These pieces are always modified to make them a reasonable price and easy to mass produce. I have never had the desire to buy a single piece from this show this season or past seasons… until the Levi's collab. I won't state here the winner because I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but if you click here you can see which designer won and what piece was made to sell on Amazon.

It's such a freaking cool jacket. While watching Karl and I both were in love with the jacket and I whipped out my phone and ordered us two. Glad I did it so quickly because the jackets are now sold out with no plans to get them back in stock. I'll get some photos of us wearing them together in the near future. I hope the designer creates a similar version to sell in the future (and keep it gender-neutral and offer more sizes) because it's pretty cool. And if not stuck under Amazon constraints they can likely make it more luxe and fix the little issues I find with it (the same ones in the reviews on Amazon).


Oh, and we also watched Space Jam: A New Legacy. It was a slog to get through; even our kid didn't like it. Things I Googled and learned while only halfway watching: Is that LeBron James' real family (no). Who played LeBron's high school coach, he looks so familiar (Wood Cross, I recognized him from playing Damon Cross on Empire but he has been in a lot more). Wow, it's 2021 and we have Speedy Gonzalez in a movie (this article from the LA Times and the many of comments were a good read). Was the first Space Jam this bad (I realize I never saw it but K and E both confirm that yes it too sucked but somehow wasn't as obvious maybe because it was made decades ago).

For Your Entertainment

This week, Beyoncé dropped two new music videos from her Disney+ film Black Is King. I don't have Disney+ and haven't seen her film, but as soon as these videos came out I went to see them. I think every generation can agree that Beyoncé isn't just popular, she is a history maker. In fact this week, “Formation” was named by Rolling Stone to be the best music video of all time. A Beyoncé video is more than music, it sets the trends we'll see for years to come, will be copied as Halloween costumes and Instagram photos, phrases will be trendy and used over and over for a generation, it is iconic. So below are her two videos. Because you don't have to be the biggest Bey fan to appreciate her talent and power and understand these videos will become as much a part of pop culture as… well as “Formation.”

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. Your honesty is refreshing, as always. Please rest and rejuvenate on your own timetable.
    Your many fans, myself included, will be here when you “return.”
    Thank you for sharing your feelings. Many of us are right there with you and it always feels good to know we aren’t alone.

  2. Not only do I love reading what you have to say but I also love what your readers have to say! You need a break and your family needs time together. Savor it!

  3. Longtime fan and reader…you have more than earned time off to replenish yourself and find joy with your loved ones. You truly do have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else! I appreciate you for your honesty and authenticity and I love your writing and your voice. Taking a breather (for however long you need!) is just what you need. Echoing all of the others ahead of me–I’ll be thrilled to read anything you write, but will be here for you whenever you’re ready! xoxo

  4. As others have mentioned, take care of yourself. We will be here when you get back. Thank you, as always, for your honesty. Long time reader and I have always appreciated it.

  5. I have been reading your blog for 10+ years and always appreciate your authentic voice and quality content. It’s so apparent that you put a lot of work into every post.

    Thank you for sharing where you are now. Please don’t beat yourself up for wanting to slow things down in August. You deserve a break! It’s hard to be creative when the well is dry. Enjoy your time off!

  6. I hope you feel better soon. Being an influencer seems uniquely draining and like being an athlete in that there is only so long you can perform before the cumulative damage you incur adds up. You are a very fine writer, well-read and articulate and I think there are many directions you can take your unique talents. Thank you for all your helpful research and advice on grooming and appearance. I appreciate your thoughtful work.

  7. Lord knows you don’t need your readers’ permission. But maybe a chorus of “good on ya’s” and “glory be’s” would be welcomed? Regardless, take the time and bonne chance with the therapy and well-earned time-off.

    Be well and we will all be here excitedly looking forward to your return … on your time.

    PS — And thank you for the Prince articles and links to Beyonce vids. Gah. So much freaking talent.

  8. Thank you for being so honest and open. Sometimes we need to listen to those little clues our brain and our bodies send us. And when we don’t, the clues get bigger. And more pronounced. And less avoidable. So listen and do what you know is right… take some time off. Unplug. Do it without guilt. We have all been there. And if we haven’t, we are headed there at some point. And I for one will be right here waiting for you when you get back. xoxoxoxo

  9. Enjoy your time off! Agree with all the comments above. Take the time you need so you can love your job again.

  10. Alison, thank you for sharing your thought process. You put so much work into your posts – I honestly don’t know another blogger who does anywhere near the level of quality and assessment of products that you do! I too am a freelancer who is the breadwinner of my family, and it’s HARD. This past year multiplied the anxiety any freelancer fears about taking *any* time off or saying No to any work. I can only imagine how much time you put in, what with photos, reviews, linking, and managing umpteen social media accounts, and how burned out you must feel.
    All this to say, PLEASE take time off! You and your family are far more important than a blog and your readers will understand and thank you.
    I hope you are taking time off and not even reading this comment until September.

  11. The Simone Biles article parallels what you’re encountering and the message from her decision applies to yours. I look forward to your content and read it eagerly. However, you are entitled to a break. Please, as much as you can, allow yourself to slow down. Your community will not disappear. Your content will suffer if you force yourself to push through. One thing I most admire about you is the authenticity of your voice. I’m glad you didn’t delete this article. I hope you get to disconnect and rejuvenate.

  12. Wanted to echo what so many others in this great community of women have said—take a break & take care of yourself & your family. We get it. Hope your vacation is relaxing!

  13. Girl!!! As we say in our community…you come first! You are human and you deserve to do you for a moment! It is really OK!
    Take care of you and your family and everything else will fall into place. You rock and you are great at what you do!
    LOVE on yourself for a little …..remember you ROCK!

  14. Pick a month, any month during the year, and make it your annual “I’m Away from the Blog!” break. In Europe, they take big chunks of vacation time all at once, and that seems to work for them and their mental health. Run four weeks of Reader Favorite Encores, and let us pretend to be you, with our thoughts on how well the posts hold up or how we view them now in light of our current circumstances. If you were still in your old job, you’d have paid time off, and no one would think twice about you being unavailable between certain dates.

    You’re AMAZING, and the blazing honesty about all of the life lessons your experience has given you is what keeps us all coming back. Your willingness to share so much with us and your ability to learn from every aspect of your life and to cut through the mindless chatter to the essence of the subject is unique in the blogging world. You’re the best kind of natural teacher — warm, encouraging, empathetic, funny, and supportive. You come across as EveryWoman, reaching for balance in your life and willing to share your heart, soul, and thought process on what works for you and your family.

    You are us, and we love you for it. Now take a break from us!

  15. Sending you many good thought for a restful time off. If you want to read an absorbing mystery about entitled people who are murdered during a posh vacation, I suggest One By One by Ruth Ware. I couldn’t put it down.

    I work in a hospital and am so full of despair and rage about COVID and try not to let that show as we have people under 18 on ventilators dying of a preventable illness (sorry – my own rant). I deeply, deeply appreciate the restorative nature of your posts. It is so nice to focus on something else.

    We want you to be sane and healthy. Take good care. We are all in this together, and 2021 is a lot like 2020, but with bangs.

  16. Well as the song says…”What a long strange trip its been”…and who knows when and were this “trip” will end…i think we are all a little overwhelmed and wondering how and when to step back and or slow down. If you feel this is the right time for you., please take the time.

  17. You need to take care of you. It’s so important for both you and your family. Enjoy your time off. Enjoy your family. Take care of you and don’t be afraid to say no.

  18. I’m sure others have said the same: it’s not entitled and spoiled and lazy to take a break/vacation. It’s actually responsible to do it if you can. Have a good break.

  19. We miss you when you don’t post, but we understand. The type of unique content you provide – the recent swim suit review! – takes time & effort. Its quality over quantity. So take the break you need in year 2 of this never ending pandemic. We’ll be here when you’re back, refreshed. As refreshed as one can be in year *2* of this #$&* pandemic.

  20. Oh Alison, praying for recovery of your “sane-ness” Don’t think for a moment you are the only one going through this. It’s been rough, and it looks like we are about to go through 2020 all over again. 🙁 Staying prayed up for you and our country. Stay strong and we WILL get through this. Sending you a big hug! 🙂

  21. First of all, Give yourself permission to take a break. No guilt, no regret.
    I find when I give myself permission there is less anxiety over what I am not getting done. Burnout is real . Grumpy mom and bitchy housewife are real, less loving wife and daughter are real, and when it comes down to it, you deserve to be your best.
    The lack of wifi will force you to lay off the devices and connect with yourself and those around you. Do it free of guilt and obligation to anything or anyone.
    Enjoy your time away. Your readers will be here when you return refreshed.

  22. Alison, you are right up there with Simone Biles in my “top two most admired women” for making mature and well-founded decisions to take care of your own health and not let your work kill you or cause serious injury. Do that. Just do that. You should know by now that your loyal followers prize your honesty and will be here when you get back from recuperating.

  23. I hope your break is restorative, and I’m glad you’re seeing a therapist. Alison, have you ever considered trying a pharmacological antidepressant/anti-anxiety medication? I know they aren’t for everybody, but years ago when my anxiety was very high, I tried all the “right” things. Trouble is, when my mind was racing, I couldn’t slow it enough for yoga or meditation, and I couldn’t sleep. My weight plummeted so quickly from not eating that I almost ended up the hospital.

    My meds haven’t been a cure-all, but they’ve kept me stable enough to hang in there.

  24. May your August slowdown be restorative.

    Thank you for writing out your process here; I trust it’s a mirror for so many of us. I too went through all the thoughts and feels before taking an extended break from clients this summer. Can’t say I came back utterly refreshed (um, pandemic), but I am fully present in all my corners.

  25. I can feel so much of this! Burnout is real. I think there is also this aspect of “we should be better than last year” but my experience has been more of a roller coaster – lots of ups and downs and things are not back to normal anytime soon!

    Take your break and get some rest. We will be here.

  26. Take your break with no apologies, we can still shop for things we need using your links and buy you a coffee occasionally, and read old blog posts when we get to missing your grown ass, no nonsense approach to all the things. See you on the flip side. Signed, a mean, grumpy reader who also needs to get her shit together.

  27. I don’t usually write comments but this definitely deserves the exception. You absolutely should take a break your body and your mind are telling you this. Many of us could say, fortunately, that we’ve been lucky with our “ Covid experience” it doesn’t though mean that it hasn’t been very tough. I love your blogs, I always know I can trust super in depth honest reviews which have been very helpful, informative and entertaining. I for one will return to reading them when you’re back but I’m more than happy to wait. Take care, look after yourself and enjoy family time without the guilt

  28. Your honesty and big heart are the reasons I love love your blog [well, sure, the clothes]. My friend describes coming out of the pandemic as being “feral,” which is perfect for me, too. So, please take your own wise advice——we have your back!

  29. I have read or heard versions of this burnout discussion from podcasters and bloggers I follow. What I often seem to hear is defensiveness and an attempt to justify the break based on how hard the job is. If you need a break, take a break. I think it’s more powerful to just set the limit than trying to justify setting the limit because then you’re inviting people to make judgments about whether you really need the limit.

  30. Alison dear, the reason so many of us adore your blog is how you keep it so real. As so many of the comments so far show, we all support you taking a break.. And we get it–each of us in our own way is feeling the huge drain of how utterly nuts the past year and a half has been. I will say, as someone a generation older than you, there has never been a time like this for us individually, or nationally, or worldwide. . . . It is hard to be gentle with ourselves, but this is precisely what we need to learn.

    So–let go and enjoy your break to the fullest! We want you to get a real breather!

  31. Alison,

    Thanks for being real! Burnout is real! So glad you’re taking time for yourself – to heal and rest! It’s not selfish or lazy – it’s Taking Care of You! The biggest word for me personally has been the same one for a very long time now – Balance. We all need it. Time for family, work, pets, self-care. Finding the balance can be a challenge but so worthwhile. Thank you for the awesome blog and for taking time out to refresh. We all need that to be our best. Sending loving thoughts and hugs your way!

  32. Allie – Agree with the comment that you have always pushed yourself too hard. I remember a post like this when you decided to blog full time, yet unfortunately you find yourself here again. You have a loyal following and no one will fault you for intentionally slowing down a bit.

    Have you considered a virtual assistant (or two) if you don’t already have one?

  33. Oh Alison, this is the blog post I needed to read at this EXACT moment. Thank you for you eternal honesty, wisdom, and insight. I for one need this more than anything right now and I am certain that I am not alone. In fact after reading this, I KNOW I’m not alone. That’s the best medicine of all. Sending all the warm vibes I can muster.

  34. Oh, man, I love that Levis jacket! So jealous you got one.

    Alison, maybe b/c you don’t work in a leave-the-house office and therefore don’t know or hear other female colleagues talking about their lives, you might not realize that your intro paragraphs are what pretty much everyone (every woman) is feeling. I can attest that we are anxiety ridden, tired to the point of breaking, depressed, and often feeling beyond hope.

    I keep forcing myself to just put one foot in front of the other, trusting things will get better. Oh, and practically speaking, I stopped watching the news. I skim the Post every morning for disasters, and then do not look at it again all day. That has made a huge difference in my psyche.

    Your blog is a bright spot in my life — I sincerely thank you for all you do for us, your readers. It is amazing.

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