Weekend Reads #67

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Tamara reached out on Instagram and let me know that the #amazonnightgown dress I featured earlier this week was a direct copy of a 2016 dress made by the Australian brand Spell. She was right, and it is something I learned about an hour after the post went live when I saw a photo of Miley Cyrus wearing the dress in a different color combination. I went down a bit of a rabbit hole from feeling guilty about promoting not just China fast fashion, but one that is a blatant copy of a designer piece and found that the Spell dress is an exact replica of Indian gauze dresses that were quite popular in the '70s, though the cheap copy I bought exactly imitated the prints from Spell.

screenshot from the online retailer shopee that stole images from wardrobe oxygen to sell their merchandise
Hey that lady looks familiar… come to find it's quite expensive to fight copyright infringement with businesses in other countries hence Photoshopped Allie remains on Shopee

I've seen blatant fast fashion copies, heck I've had pictures from my blog of me in clothing from brands stolen and used on fast fashion sites to promote their fakes.  I love following the fashion watchdog Instagram account Diet Prada for this very reason, yet I somehow let all this knowledge fly out the window when I ordered this dress.  But fakes of designer clothing isn't limited to these Made in China fast fashion brands on Amazon and popping up on websites with Rose and We in the name. Zara, H&M, Steve Madden, Misguided, Victoria's Secret, Nasty Gal, and a good percentage of the blogger and influencer collaborations in Nordstrom blatantly steal complete looks from other designers.  When we shop at TJ Maxx we rarely realize that $39.99 blouse is last season's copy of a Fall 2015 piece from Prada.  When I started working at Express in the late '90s, the store was full of satin button-front shirts and matching low-slung jeans a la Madonna at the VMAs rocking Tom Ford for Gucci.  And remember the famous cerulean scene from The Devil Wears Prada?

I'm not saying oh everything is a copy so buy that blatantly fake Louis Vuitton bag and rock it, far from it.  What I am saying is that your purchases have a story.  Especially when you choose to buy budget, it goes beyond the price to how it was made, where it was made, if it is a copy and whether it's a copy from a high-end designer's collection from a decade ago or a small business from last season.  We can't all afford designer, but we can choose to make fewer purchases with more thought behind them. We research cars before we buy one, we research couches and refrigerators and face serums.  We can also research our clothing.  If I had done a bit of research and didn't just get influenced by a hundred girls in beachy locales in this dress I would have quickly found the history, the dresses by Spell, and the dresses that came before them.  And then if I made a purchase, I would have been an informed consumer.

Each year, I have a goal for Wardrobe Oxygen.  Last year was to not partner with any brands that don't go up to a minimum of size 16. This year I started with trying to have a better range of price points.  I've found that incredibly difficult for so many reasons it deserves a separate blog post.  But as the year has continued a new goal has emerged – to help you all be informed consumers.  So expect discussions like this more often.  We deserve to know where our hard-earned money is going, we deserve great style without sacrificing our ethics, we deserve to have great style no matter our dress size, we deserve to know who is profiting off of our clicks, scrolls, and purchases.  So thank you again, Tamara, for starting this discussion, one I plan to continue.

Sale Alert

I haven't done a sale alert in a while.  But we're heading into back to school season and while most reading this aren't going back to school, we all could be looking for a wardrobe, beauty, or home refresh for the upcoming season.  And refreshes are always best when on discount!

Weekend Reads

This piece about unfluencers... I have thoughts.  First, it's easy to hate someone on Instagram.  I know many people in real life who I adore and think are the coolest and I have muted on Instagram because I despise the persona or brand they have created.  And I know there are people who have done the same to me.  And as an influencer, it sometimes seems like the most inane, cliche, and basic crap is what people love the most.  It's hard not to be sucked into the likes and comments and continue down that inane, cliche, or basic road and not share what really makes you you.  And so often when I tell people my job they ask if I follow a certain person or account that they LUUUURRRRVE and I don't.  I say, “yes, they're great!” because I know they are great… for someone else. When I begin “hate following” or “hate reading” someone, whether they are a stranger or an IRL friend, I stop.  It's not healthy even if it seems it's teaching you something about yourself, because it's doing it in a negative light.  Sure, I've written about embracing what you hate to define your personal style, but social media is a high-intensity world, one you can access waiting in line, sitting on the toilet, when you're supposed to be sleeping or cooking or spending time with loved ones.  Filling that time with someone that grates your nerves will color your whole world.  And if I am an “unfluencer” to you, I won't be offended if you unfollow or mute me.  (The Cut)

Have you heard of Fabscrap? It's a non-profit that sorts and resells textile waste from over 350 New York City clothing labels, designers, furniture companies, and costume studios.  This article shares a woman's experience volunteering at the organization. (Vogue)

Since my post about what to wear to a movie premiere, I've received many requests for advice on what to wear to social situations.  One of my best hacks for dressy situations is a jacket like this.  Wear it with matte jersey wide-leg pants and a shell, with a silky cami and dark skinny jeans, over a black jumpsuit, with a white tank and distressed jeans, over a black maxi dress… it's an easy way to glam up staples already in your closet. 

This is a longread, but one I really enjoyed on a recent flight about the creation, history, and transformation of a women's shelter. (The New Yorker)

So… Universal Standard, my retail BFF, just came out with boots.  They have a bootie and a tall version and they look pretty awesome.  I ordered the bootie and will have a review soon!

Yeah, if I knew such a thing existed when I went to summer camp, I likely wouldn't have developed into as independent and sure of a teen as I did.  There's something magical about being away from almost everything and everyone you know when you're a kid, it's a chance to try on new personalities, take risks, fail and not have it follow you back to school. (The Washington Post)

I've seen this come up in the WO2 Community, it even came up when we were at Soma headquarters talking about future collections – longer shorts for sleeping.  Short shorts can ride up or feel too short in front of family (or the UPS man), long pants can feel constricting.  Well, Soma has a sleep Bermuda short in their amazing Cool Nights fabric and I loooove them.  They can work for loungewear and I love that they have pockets. I find they run big; I usually wear a large but my pair is super comfy in Medium. I don't think people see them on the site so I had to call them out as they may be exactly what you're looking for.

The Amazon is burning, and it's not just a natural phenomenon. It can feel very far away, but the results of this natural disaster will impact the whole globe.  This article offers simple and doable ways to help the Amazon Rainforest. (The Cut)

For Your Entertainment

Missy Elliott has been a fave of mine for decades. Her sound, her style, and her iconic videos. In fact, she's receiving the Video Vanguard Award this Monday at the MTV Video Music Awards. Well, she just dropped her latest album, ‘ICONOLOGY,' this week and this is one of the videos from the album. In typical Missy style, it's a gorgeous riot of color, style, dance, and totally fresh and new with a fabulous song behind it.

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. Hello Tamara here! Sorry what a slow reply to your blog – I am so behind on my RSS reader its not funny! I appreciate your thoughtful response about this issue. I think it’s impossible to be 100% ethical about any fashion choices we make these days. Just like food choices there is never a completely right answer. All we can do is work with our budgets and the information we have at the time. It just saddens me a bit that an Australian company (albeit an increasingly successful one worldwide) is having their distinctive original designs duplicated and mass marketed. Spell is now making more ethical choices about the fabrics they make their clothes from, I doubt the companies that copy them do. But then again they do manufacture in China now, so you could argue their success has brought this upon themselves?? Miley is wearing a real Spell dress though – she is often spotted instore when she visits Byron Bay!! Here’s a link from 2016 showing she got it before it was released even!


  2. Allie,
    Just got the Kohls ponte leggings today and they are a terrific bargain! Substantial weight but not too much ( I live in Houston) and very good looking. I’ve enjoyed your articles on blogging and transparency and it was truly a pleasure to use your link and know it was helping you write this blog, if only a tiny fraction. Thanks!

  3. “Missy Elliott has been a fan of mine for decades” !?!
    I seriously thought…omg Missy Elliot reads this blog too?! I’m a huge fan.

  4. I love sleep shorts for all the reasons that you mentioned! I found them a few weeks ago on the Soma site but they were out of my size and I asked to no be notified when they were back in stock. Soma notified me. I ordered right away. The shorts are soft, easy on my waist and don’t ride up- love them!

  5. I wouldn’t say that you “promoted” the Amazon nightgown. It’s more like you reported on it – you had a lot of reservations, and commenters added more. And with this post you know have a 2 part series on it.

    The design it ripped off clarifies one thing – the yoke was in the right place on the original, and not where it should be on the copy. Probably a change they made to be able to say “see! It is too different”

  6. Thing is, fashion cannot be copyrighted under US copyright law. All clothing designs are considered “utilitarian items” & thus not allowed to be copyrighted. That is exactly why knockoffs have always existed of US fashion design. You can copyright a print or pattern — like a specific floral or plaid if it can be shown to be unique; also, logos like Chanel’s “Cs” — & you can copyright a sewing pattern, meaning the instructions, but not the output, meaning the dress itself. Also, photos can be copyrighted, so of course stealing images from your blog is not cool!

    But the Amazon nightgown knocking off a designer dress that was inspired by ’70s peasant gowns? That’s normal, that’s legal, & how fashion has always worked. If not for this cycle, the only ppl who’d wear different clothes year-to-year would be the uber rich.

  7. Hi,
    Thank you for your post on cheap fast fashion companies that blatantly copy original designs. There is a big difference between a clothing company that is “inspired” by original designers and one that blatantly copies. The blatant copies frequently end up in a lawsuit. Direct copies of original prints certainly will. Unfortunately, not enough consumers are aware that this happens, or worse, may ignore that it does. The other problem with these fast fashion companies is that many times the product is made in a factory that would not pass social compliance standards that reputable companies would want for their workers to have. This is a big problem in the fashion industry and one that many apparel companies make a focus as they source their products; finding factories that have safe working conditions, pay their workers a fair wage, offer benefits etc. When as a consumer you buy that blouse you love for 10$ and feel great about getting a bargain, think again about how much that worker in China was making and what type of working conditions are they working in so that you could buy a blouse that cost 3$ to make, so your favorite fast fashion chain could sell it for 10? The reason that blouse was only 10$, is because the person who made it was not making a living wage. Just wanted to share some insight into another opportunity for you to champion and educate your readers. Thanks for doing what you do!

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