Weekend Reads #47b

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So yesterday's post was controversial. And let me tell you, it wasn't easy for me to agree to it. This is what I shared yesterday in the WO2 Community regarding the choice:

I live in a metro area; I am walking distance (not a quick walk but walk if need be) to a Target, a Ross, and several other retailers. Within 30 minutes I can drive to a dozen different malls and town centers. I do not have a rural route address and I am less than a mile from more than one post office and drop-offs for FedEx, UPS, and DHL. On top of that, even at my largest size I could walk into most any mall or visit major retail websites and find something that fits and I can afford with my income.

Writing Wardrobe Oxygen has introduced me to women all over the globe and all over America, and they have taught me that having all of this is not what they all have. And sometimes the brands that I have stuck my nose up at or boycotted are the only brands available to them.

Thrifting is not a possibility for everyone. Not everyone lives near a thrift store, not everyone has a car to get to one. Let's face it, thrifting takes time and not everyone has that kind of time. Working more than one job, being a single parent, being a caregiver, and not everyone has a thrift store near them with good selection of style or items in their size.

Because of this, I am starting to incorporate more brands into Wardrobe Oxygen. A better variety of pricepoints, and those brands are ones with a better variety of sizes. Fashion is already so exclusionary, I don't want Wardrobe Oxygen to be part of the problem.

Don't expect fast fashion, I don't care if a sweater costs $20 or $200 if it's crap I'm not going to wear it or suggest it to you. You can buy junk at Nordstrom, and you can find quality at discount stores. I'll do the digging to be sure what I share, no matter the pricepoint, is worth your hard-earned money.

But what finally made me decide to do the partnership? A reader emailed me in February and asked me for fashion advice. Her husband controls the finances and the only store she is allowed to spend money in is Walmart; could I help her? That made me really stop and think and reassess my stance. I am not going to delete your comments about the brand on that post, I agree with much of what you all wrote. But I stand by my decision. I will also work to find new brands that are inclusive, accessible, and ethical. As always, send me your suggestions, I will try them out on my own dime and if I find the quality is worthy of you, I will happily promote it.

Sale Alert

This weekend is Friends and Family at Lord & Taylor.  Save 30% off almost everything and 15% off most beauty with promo code FRIENDS

Madewell has 20% off $100+ and 30% off $200+ with promo code SPEND2SAVE. I love the rainbow trim on this sweatshirt, these sneakers with rainbow detail, this super chic crossbody, and these jeans that just scream summer.

Weekend Reads

Reformation is the latest brand to extend their sizing.  They extended it a year ago and didn't keep it; this time they say it's permanent.  Reformation isn't really my style (I like to wear a bra and not have it show) but I am thrilled to see an ethical clothing company provided clothing in larger sizes. (Glossy) . You can see the entire collection at this link.

Even though this piece is about DC restaurants, it's an important read for all. It goes into accessibility and how many establishments still aren't ADA compliant.  It also shares ways businesses aren't accessible and they could be affecting your business (PDFs are a great example). And the best reason to read this is this quote from Any Arias which ends the article, “You’re either going to get in a horrible car accident or age into disability,” Arias says. “I hate to be that real with people, but that’s the truth. It’s not like disability is never going to touch you because, surprise, it is. Then you’re going to be like, ‘Holy shit, I should have cared more about accessibility.’” (Washington City Paper)

My friend Jessica shared on Facebook that there's a Mrs. Maisel Haggadah!  (CNN) It's not an April Fool's joke, and on Amazon you can purchase Maxwell House products that will come with one copy of the Haggadah.  You better believe I ordered one! 

Last week I shared a piece about Lil Nas X being removed from the Billboard Top Country chart.  Well now he has a remixed version of the song with Billy Ray Cyrus… does that make it country enough? (New York Times)

I know I seem to link to Robin Givhan's writing every week but dude, it's sooo good!  And this one about using “old lady” as a descriptor on Project Runway is a great read. (The Washington Post)

Nearly two out of three workers over the age of 45 have seen or experienced age discrimination on the job. Agism is thriving but what are companies doing about it? (Fast Company)

Hourglass Cosmetics is already a cruelty-free beauty brand, but they're taking it to the next level.  By 2020 the brand will be 100% vegan, making them the first luxury brand to do so. (Glossy)

Women weren't able to join the National Guard until the 1950s; for the first time a state (and in my completely biased opinion, the best state) National Guard is led by an all-woman command and it happened by merit. (The Washington Post)

For Your Entertainment

My friend introduced me to Anderson .Paak a few years ago and I will always be grateful to her for that. So talented, such incredible stage presence (I've now seen him live twice), and hey, how can I not love a guy who buys out a Girl Scout cookie booth! His next album is dropping on the 12th; “Make it Better,” a single off the album that features Smokey Robinson is smooth and romantic and shares the ups and downs of being in love and the work needed to keep a romance going.

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. I’m not a Walmart shopper, but as many readers have stated, it’s got its place. That said, if you don’t personally shop there on a regular basis (or just don’t wear their items…any brand) I don’t see the point of expanding your list of brands for the sake inclusivity. I love that you want to bring more recognition to other brands, but sponsor or no sponsor, if you don’t align with their business practices and values, or just don’t like their stuff, there’s plenty of other bloggers to share their story. As for the comments I saw regarding the high prices of clothing you wear, as well the concerns of sponsored posts…it’s your blog and your narrative. You’re one spot of reference, not a one stop shop. I love the sweet spot of fashion, quality and trends you bring and would hate to see that comprised in an effort to be more inclusive. Ah the bloggers dilemma! Looking forward to seeing how you adjust.

  2. Alison, thank you addressing the controversal Walmart post….frankly i was suprised…i haven’t seen any one complain about your Chico’s post, clearly they have replaced local small womens boutique…i get it, Walmart is big and it changed the way small towns and others shopped, but so did the rail road and the interstate and sears roebuck…and Amazon., which in turn is changing Walmart…

    1. Walmart does more than just replacing small businesses. Over the years they’ve done shifty things with their labor practices and how they manage their money.

      1. I don’t doubt that Walmart had done all you say. My point is that if you look at the pay and scheduling of Chico’s and other national retailers, they have the same policy’s. In addition there have been a lot of complaints about amazons employment policies at their warehouses, not to mention the amount of sales taxes they siphoned out of our state and local governments, but I don’t recall the same outrage when you’ve posted something from amazon

        1. People should not blame Amazon for accepting those tax breaks. They are in the business to make money. They should blame the elected officials that offer those tax breaks to lure Amazon and other big corporations to locate in their cities. That is who they should hold accountable.

          1. Yes, Part of the Amazon tax issue is incentives that local govts give to locate warehouses, etc. there. But the other issue is sales taxes. Selling via the internet is often (but not always) tax-free, which influenced me to buy on line when living in Chicago and it’s double digit sales tax. But then Chicago doesn’t get that revenue. Tax laws have changed some, but they’ve had to keep up with the way people live now.

  3. Wow. What an interesting week it’s been on Wardrobe Oxygen. Your readers do not pull any punches with you, and you take it on the chin with courage and honesty. My hat is off to you and to them! Good job all round.

    Honest discussion of both sides of an issue is so healthy. Much better to get erudite and interesting comments from readers, instead of only facile “you look adorable in that outfit” ones. By the way you DID look adorable in that Walmart outfit. 🙂

    1. I’m honored to have such intelligent, informed, and concerned people visit my blog and most people kept it civil and educational (those who didn’t were deleted). I knew it wasn’t going to go over without a fuss, I appreciate those who took the time to speak up and I’m going to leave those comments because they’re not wrong.

  4. Alison, thank you for the the original post and the background on your decision. There is a business reason other lines, such as Lord & Taylor, Ellen Degeneres and Eddie Bauer, are deciding to work with other retailers. In fact, there is an EV graphic t-shirt I was thinking of and styling based on some of your ideas. I like what EV stands for and haven’t made a final decision. Your post has not influenced me either way.

    I had a short period of time when I worked in retail because it filled an immediate need I had. Based on this experience, it is hard work. And I know there are quite a few other retailers that do not take care of their employees, not just Walmart. I think this is true for more companies than we would think. And, it is all based on personal perception of what is acceptable or not.

    I work every day on not judging others as I do walk in their shoes. Alison, thanks letting your community have a honest discussion on this and other topics.

    1. I too worked in retail, and saw how horribly people were treated at many retailers that are always given a pass. I saw how much money the exec team brought in while we had our hours cut and cut and cut again. I saw where the clothes were made and could only image how they were treated; some of these brands were part of the Rana Plaza tragedy and they haven’t changed their policies. I see how bookstore after bookstore shutters because of Amazon. I think a lot of brands get a pass because they are too convenient, they did a good job with their marketing and PR, or we just don’t want to give up our cute clothes. Thank you for your comment and perspective, Shannon.

  5. Alison, thank you for the expansion of your consideration of suppliers, and the reasons why. Independent and considered decisions are always a good thing.

  6. 2 Things: I’ll be totally honest-the best fitting pairs of jeans I’ve ever had came from Walmart
    However, one thing in this post chilled me to the bone:

    “A reader emailed me in February and asked me for fashion advice. Her husband controls the finances and the only store she is allowed to spend money in is Walmart”

    99% of domestic violence targets (I prefer the term target to “victim” or “survivor”-) experience financial abuse

    I spent the last week sending a thank you to my Rep for voting to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and close the boyfriend loophole and advocating for my state to pass a law requiring that Salon professionals get training to recognize and respond to domestic violence. One program: https://mic.com/articles/40895/cut-it-out-non-profit-how-hairdressers-could-help-spot-domestic-violence#.vUdWVwuPz

    Sorry to get so serious…but as I said- that line chilled me to the bone

    1. Me too. It’s not my place to share further information on our discussion but I felt it was important for this audience to realize not everyone has the same financial, life, or domestic situation. Thank you for sharing these links and spreading this information, it is so important. And thank you for reaching out to your rep, I am so glad it happened. The program for stylists is amazing; you can get resources for your salon or school at https://probeauty.org/cutitout/getinvolved/ or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE

    2. Palm,

      I had an immediate reaction that was the same as yours. I wish that poor woman the very best and I hope she can soon get out of what sounds to be an awful situation. However, I must say that I can’t put the possible abuse off on Walmart. The man could have just as easily insisted on some other store.

  7. The comment in yesterday’s post, suggesting that if you hate Walmart you should be sure you aren’t shopping at Amazon was excellent.

    I’ve had hits and misses shopping at Walmart. To their credit, they don’t just stock little sizes.

    1. Agreed. There are a lot of major corporations doing damage and changing this country in major ways. Some get a pass purely because they make cute clothes or offer cool shows on their streaming app or make lives easier.

  8. I get what you’re saying, but I also see a big push by Walmart on other fashion blogs over the last two weeks. The timing is perhaps not ideal, because honestly it looked more like your jumping on a deep-pockets bandwagon than your responding to specific reader asks.

    Agree that not shopping with Walmart, or Amazon for that matter, is an option those of us with many shopping opportunities shouldn’t take for granted.

    1. This is how it felt to me too — timing makes it feel inauthentic and just another cog in the marketing campaign.

      1. I don’t have much say in when campaigns come my way. They reached out to me in early March, I chose to have it go live yesterday (they offered between mid-March and end of April). I have ordered items from JC Penney, Maurice’s, and Kohl’s prior to this and things didn’t fit or weren’t worthy of being on the site but I continue to place orders. I have been recommending lower-priced items in my widgets of suggestions since February including Walmart but it hasn’t been as blatant. I’ve been including lower-priced brands in sale alerts as well. I think it’s because this is the first sponsored post and that it’s Walmart that it’s standing out.

  9. FWIW Beth of “Style at a Certain Age” has also done a recent partnership with Walmart.com, with the emphasis on their distribution of Lord & Taylor’s products. I don’t recall if any of her readers complained.

    It seems to me that Walmart is gearing up to take on Amazon, and maybe competition is a good thing?

    I have to feel for the woman with the controlling spouse. Thank you for your compassion and honesty.

    1. My concern with buying through Walmart for retailers like Lord & Taylor and Eddie Bauer is that returns are through that retailer, and from person experience they have not been positive. Walmart claims free shipping and free returns… only on Walmart items. When ordering items for my post, I ordered a pair of Eddie Bauer jeans. When wanting to return them, I found I had to reach out to Eddie Bauer. They didn’t reply to my first two emails, then said here’s the address, you deal with the post office to make the return. I didn’t have an invoice for the item since it came on the same packing slip as Walmart things I was returning and the email confirmation wasn’t terribly informative so it felt like a major risk and expensive to go through all this and return a pair of jeans. This is why I used this campaign to focus on Walmart specific brands.

  10. I appreciate the “why” behind your Walmart post yesterday, but I think you have to look at the end effect. From the comments section, it’s apparent that you’ve convinced people who aren’t generally Walmart shoppers to shop at Walmart. I think there’s a big difference between answering the email of that woman with some Walmart options and using your public platform to actively promote the store, which has done so much to perpetuate the cycle of poverty (and of people only being able to shop at Walmart).

    I don’t just read blogs of people who share my exact same vantage points. Provided that you continue to share a variety of fashion options, ’ll continue to read and enjoy Wardrobe Oxygen. I just think this is short-sighted, Allie.

  11. I said I’d would withhold judgement and I did. You made a strong, fair argument. And you are absolutely correct. Wal-Mart might as well be the 6th circle of Purgatory. I dislike it so. Still Wal-Mart is all there is in too many places and all that’s affordable in others. And sometimes it’s just the best place to go for things. At least when I go to Wal-Mart I can go get what I need then get out. Unlike Target.

    Thanks for being willing to stand up and speak up. And for making me take a hard look at where I am.

  12. I love how you fearlessly face controversy! Whatever opinion people have it’s always better to have it out in the open. We have to discuss things before we can change them. Anyway, no matter how much you want to do the right thing, and shop the right places it just isn’t an opportunity to all of us. But with internet access we can all address the companies in e-mails and on social media, and tell them what changes we would like to see in their shops as well as in their manufacturing processes. However, what really appals me is the comment about a husband controlling the wife’s money and where she spends it – that is simply unacceptable. No marriage, no relationship is worth that!

    1. Thank you! As for the woman, not everyone has the ability to leave or want to leave such a relationship. It is not my place to judge nor do I know what kind of life she has. It’s like why I chose to feature other brands; I can’t even begin to know the lives of all my readers but I do know they aren’t all like mine with all the opportunities I have.

  13. I like what you are doing. Some women only have access to Wal Mart for shopping, due to where they live, and Wal-Matt has changed to keep up with Amazon. Who knows, maybe if we elect more supportive politicians, Wal-Mart, along with McDonalds and many other retail and fast food businesses, will be forced to pay a living wage. I hope so. I have to say, about the woman whose husband only allows her to shop at Walmart, this is the 21st Century, and women do not have to let men “allow” them to do anything. Anyway, I appreciate your open mindedness and I like it when you show new and affordable options for clothing. I appreciate your honest reviews!

    1. I agree with you except for about the woman. Some women are in relationships they cannot leave. Some women have lives we would not want and they have no way of getting out of it.

      Ali, I love your weekend reads and look forward to read them every Saturday.

      1. I am not against shopping at Walmart, although I don’t think I’ve bought clothes for myself there. I have bought baby clothes there and I have bought clothes for my daughter from their G21 line. She went through 2 huge growth spurts in a short period of time and I couldn’t afford to buy her clothes anywhere else.

        I don’t know anyone else’s life and while I have read many things about Walmart’s labour practices, I think people need to shop where they can afford to shop! No judgement from me. I appreciate how you styled the clothes. Maybe we don’t get those clothes at Walmart’s in Canada cause I’ve never seen anything of a similar quality here.

        I feel sad for the lady that wrote to you, though. Red flags everywhere. I hope she is safe and I hope she’s got some rockin new clothes.

        1. Leah, Allie,

          I hope the woman reads your blog and realizes there are folks out there who genuinely care about her. I hope that will give her a little boost of support and not make her feel worse.

  14. Re your opening paragraph for this post: Alison, this is why I am a loyal reader. Your compassion, your thoughtfulness, and your humanity. Thank you for being a role model, for asking risks, putting yourself out there and always being your honest, vulnerable self.

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