Tomorrow, my family and I are heading on vacation. As I mentioned in my post about my summer vacation, a portion of this post may be sponsored and it will be the first city we visit. We'll be going to at least four locations, and the only real work I plan to do is at the first city. We saved up our money, our time, and I tried to craft some decent content to go live while we're away so we can truly relax and enjoy the trip.
I have to give a big shoutout to our Ring doorbells. We've had them for many years and upgraded with new versions; this is my original 2015 Ring doorbell review. We now have two and a motion light from the brand on our home. We can control the zones so someone can walk their dog on the sidewalk outside our home but as soon as they go to open our gate or walk through it, it begins video and notifies us. We can be hundreds of miles away and be able to speak to the UPS delivery person through it, informing them it's okay to leave the package, or to leave it with a neighbor. We had a man try to steal a package from our home and had a clear video of him doing it to provide to the police. On vacation, we're notified each time someone enters our gate and have neighbors and family to pick up any mail or packages and check on things while there. It makes me feel a lot more secure (that and having great neighbors and family) to go on trips and share it on my blog and social. The one negative of Ring? When a spider decides to build her web across the motion camera! The notification will wake you up in the middle of the night but at least the video is entertaining!
I'll be sharing our journey on Instagram Stories and once back, I'll share here on Wardrobe Oxygen what I packed, what I wore, what I didn't wear, and what I wish I had instead. I'll also do a recap of the trip itself. We will be in Philadelphia, NYC, Boston, and parts of Vermont… we haven't planned the trip home so it may be a long drive or we may stop somewhere. If you have any suggestions on what to do, see, or where to eat please share in the comments!
Sure, we all know Missy Elliott or at least one of her songs. But this piece on her (along with the photos) is a beautiful, thoughtful way to get to know this amazing woman and her multifaceted awesomeness better. (Marie Claire)
Palantir Technologies, co-founded by a Trump advisor in Silicon Valley, has created a smart-phone app that helps ICE round up undocumented workers. The number of arrests has shot up. Not an undocumented worker? You still need to know about technology like this, if it's not already being used on you it will be in the future. (WNYC, a public radio station)
And for those of you who live in the DC area or plan on visiting this summer, you MUST check out The Four Seasons for the coolest Sunday brunch experience. Every Sunday this summer they have local artist Jabari Jefferson working on a mural outside Seasons Brunch from 12pm to 2pm. Jefferson shares his passion for painting with guests and invites you and your whole family (kids welcome!) to assist in creating a three-part mural that will be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington. Each week, a new part of the mural will be completed while Jefferson guides guests of all ages through techniques for creating this work of art. The Four Seasons is located in Georgetown and you do not have to stay at the hotel to enjoy their brunch and other offerings. Click here to learn more about this collaboration for good!
For Your Entertainment
I loved music in high school but sort of lost the passion as a young adult. I started a job in 2005 and a coworker was really into new music and made some suggestions and got me on iTunes and I bought an iPod. In 2006 I learned about My Morning Jacket and Bonnaroo and in 2007 attended my first music festival. In 2010 we bought a turntable and started occasionally buying new vinyl and collecting vintage pieces at thrift stores, yard sales, and Freecycle. One album we bought that we still enjoy is Boys & Girls by Alabama Shakes, and we saw the band perform at least three times. The lead singer Brittany Howard has done other projects like Thunderbitch and Bermuda Triangle and this September is releasing a solo album. This is the first video single from that album, filmed in Decatur, Alabama near Howard's hometown, starring Terry Crews and several of Howard's friends and family (as well as Howard).
Brittany Howard - Stay High (Official Video) - YouTube
Rent the Runway Unlimited… sometimes I love you so much, sometimes you frustrate me, and often you surprise me. I am heading out of town soon for a family vacation so I requested items to arrive appropriate for a trip. Online, this navy floral midi wrap dress looked to be below-knee length. I liked that it was a full midi and had pockets; it could be thrown on with comfy sandals and look more polished than a t-shirt and shorts and when I was finished I wouldn't have to pack it back up, I could put it in the return garment bag and drop it off whatever city I was in that point in the trip. But this dress ended up being very different from what I thought and I ended up liking it for a completely different reason.
At 5'3″ this dress was far longer on me. We're talking ankle length, but with the retro-inspired details, it worked. I worried the bust wouldn't fit, but there is a hook and eye that held the top closed. I did add two safety pins – one to secure that hook and eye, and one to sort of tuck the under ruffle in place to prevent a gap between the bust hook and the waist. This is a true wrap and the self-belt is a weird length where doubling around the body makes the straps too short but tying like I did at the side without wrapping, one end was much longer. I just made a messy bow to have it even out.
Always have to score a mirror selfie at events! This bathroom at the Club was so retro cute!
I felt with the volume and length I needed a heel and chose the same heels I wore in Wednesday's post. Best $35 I've spent! I planned to wear this to a private dinner I was invited to that evening at City Tavern Club in Georgetown but it rained and there was no way I was going to try to walk on Georgetown's cobblestone sidewalks in the rain in heels. I switched out to my LISSOM flats (read my LISSOM flats review) which gave me grip and security and I was pleased to find they too looked good with the dress.
As for the bag this is another one I scored at a HOBO sample sale a kazillion years ago. The handle can tuck in to make it a traditional clutch but I felt the handle gave a retro vibe that worked with the dress. To keep the look from being too vintage/sweet I had to Allie it up with some big-ass earrings! That night I also added my cabi Secret Garden cuff but I don't think it was necessary!
You can rent this dress from Rent the Runway, it's also for sale at Macy's and Dillard's (full price at Macy's on sale at Dillard's). However, it's not a cheap dress and the sizing is limited. So below I've made a carousel of other navy floral midi dresses that have features similar to this one that come in a variety of sizes and pricepoints:
Outfits don't have to be complicated to be dressy. Fabric can go a long way in transforming relatively simple pieces into a more formal ensemble. Essentially a t-shirt and ankle pants, sheen and tuxedo-inspired details elevate it to after-five attire.
When Universal Standard came out with this blouse, I reached out immediately and asked if I could have one to style. I had just received the white high-waisted denim trousers from Talbots (seen in this post) and I thought oooh… the white high-waisted jeans with this silky white t-shirt and some badass silver jewelry… Universal Standard was kind enough to send it to me.
It's not a true white, in fact, the bag it came in was labeled “Marshmallow.” That's a perfect description. It's the kind of not-white that would work as a blouse with a true white suit for a monochromatic effect but with just one other white piece it looks off. And in this fabric, it's like wearing a pearl; it's really pretty, a great weight, and feels luxe. It arrived on a Saturday and I wore it that night with these shorts from Talbots in Sage, my Jenny Bird Cober Hoops, and my silver Birkenstocks when we went to dinner at our friends' house.
After finding this blouse not right with the white jeans, I thought my black culottes from And Comfort and my Jenny Bird monogram necklace. And it was cute. I tried a slim gold metal belt (like this one I wore from ASOS but half as thick) and it felt like glam minimalism but I didn't have the right shoes. Like seriously everything I owned killed the vibe. My silver Birkenstocks dressed it down too much for what I wanted at the time. I was feeling heels and slim pants and a clutch.
These pants are from this suit I wore almost two years ago for a sponsored post with Talbots. I love this lady tux so much I have tailored it twice to fit my changing shape. I wore it again in this post, the pants alone in this post, and the jacket in this post. The tuxedo stripe down the side is subtle but instantly adds a dressy factor to the trouser. My tailor tapered the pants slightly and hemmed them to ankle length which works with a heel like this or a cute D'Orsay flat.
I'm a bit obsessed with REALM jewelry. Designer Ann King Lagos creates some beautiful jewelry that exudes strength. I love this bracelet, it's like an elegant Wonder Woman cuff. These three pieces are the nicest jewelry I have ever owned outside my engagement ring and the style is so on point. I find myself styling looks around these three pieces so I have a reason to wear them. The last time I wore this set on the blog was in this post.
So anyway, back to this blouse. I, in typical Alison fashion, spilled something on it during dinner at our friends' house. I came home, doused it with Bac-Out and threw it in the hamper. Next day I washed it gentle cycle and hung it to dry. Stain gone, blouse same size and shape, and didn't even need to be steamed. It has a curved hemline and looks nice tucked or untucked. This blouse comes in navy as well and in sizes 00-40.
Okay, that title is totally misleading because I have no way to wear white and not be a complete mess. Yet somehow I did it. My friend Sylvia and I scheduled a lunch together to catch up and talk blogging; she was invited to an influencer event afterward and invited me to be her date. Lunch, an influencer event with my fashionable friend, it's 100 degrees out with humidity up the wazoo, and there's a good chance I'll be walking several blocks. What the HECK do I wear?
I decided to keep it cool with all white. Talbots had sent me these denim trousers the day prior and I really was itching to wear them. I wasn't sure how dressy the event would be and decided to wear the equivalent of what a man would wear to such an event – a white shirt and some sort of cheery or summery accessory. The shirt is linen, always a good choice when hot and humid, especially when it's wrinkle-resistant. Shoes with a heel (the trousers are a bit long) that would be comfortable for long spans of time; these pink suede babies I've worn so many times before were a good choice. And this long chiffon oblong scarf from DvF has almost exactly the same shade of pink in it; it made for a fun detail to break up the all-white.
My friend Sylvia arrived, also in white. The event was at the Perry Belmont House. It was French themed and our outfits fit the decor quite nicely. I couldn't resist getting my photo with this pink poodle made with balloons! I drank champagne, ate salad with dressing, sipped coffee, and didn't think too much about my outfit during the festivities.
On my Uber ride home I looked down and was SHOCKED to find not a single drip, dribble, or smear was on my outfit! I mean, that was a good reason I wore the scarf, to be able to use it to hide any mess. But no mess was to be found! An FYI about these jeans, I washed them on hot and put them in the dryer and they didn't shrink a bit. I went with regular thinking I'd want them with heels but it's a bit too long in the leg and in the rise. I wish I went with petite. Also, I find if between sizes I can go down in Talbots and get a better fit. I may be a 14 in their pants but in their jeans, I am a 12. These aren't the only Talbots jeans I love; visit this post for an unsponsored white jeans review with Talbots as the top pick!
And this shirt… I first tried out Chico's no-iron linen last spring because members of the WO2 Community desired a review. The brand was cool enough to send two shirts to review – striped and pink. A few weeks later, I was invited to be part of a paid Instagram campaign with Chico's featuring a style of pants they were featuring. I was invited to pick what I wanted to style the look; this was the result including this white linen shirt. The pants ended up being donated (great pants but not the kind I'd wear on a regular basis), the hat was always a hair too small for my giant noggin so it was passed down to Emerson, the necklace is in the jewelry armoire waiting for the right outfit, but the shirt has been worn a LOT. It's been thrown in the machine with bed linens and through the dryer many times and now just looks like cool, “oh this thing?” linen, which I love. I sometimes knot it and wear it with jeans, wear it untucked with shorts, and know it will be packed for my summer road trip because it's so effortless and cool in the “oh this thing?” way but also in the “it's darn patootin' hot out!” way!
Last year I deleted my Nordstrom card from my online account. I cut up the card. And by the end of the year, I paid off the entire balance. Nordstrom was my weakness, they had my size, they shipped quickly. I’d get a box, pour a glass of wine, try on, take my time with returns.
Well, it’s the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and I decided I didn’t really need anything. But then I got a random perfume sample in the mail with a Sephora offer – Black Orchid by Tom Ford. I received several samples, of course the one I fell in love with and even my family fell in love with was the crazy expensive one. And of course, I looked around to find the lowest price and found a Black Orchid set part of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.
I can’t pull up my account number. My online banking only shares a few numbers. I thought I had saved it in my Safari browser but nope, it’s not there. I tried logging in online but come to find out I never created a username or password to manage my account online. I searched my file cabinet, no old statement. Receipts don’t have card numbers.
If I want my Nordstrom card number, I need to call.
I spent 40 minutes clicking around my email, my browsers, two different computers, and digging through files but I won’t call them. Calling them somehow is admitting that I am doing what I shouldn’t do. I am stating aloud that I broke a contract with myself. I might as well go to the grocery that sells wine on Sundays and buy one of those big bottles of Sav Blanc and with it a bag of Tostidos and a jar of Doritos queso and while I’m in line read US or OK and pretend to feel better by judging others while chewing my cuticles and then go home and consume all of it while ordering $600 worth of things swearing I WILL return most of it but then it arrives and I justify to myself 80% of it and wear it all only once.
I don’t write a lot about my “life change” because it wasn’t turning on a light switch and changing. I have days where I hit snooze and spend those eight minutes trying to think of a good lie to text my trainer to get out of going to the gym that day. I take a longer way home from the hair salon after an appointment because my old ritual was getting a Slurpee and nachos from 7-Eleven and enjoying them on the ride home. I’d stop at the bus stop as soon as you enter my neighborhood and toss the remains in that trashcan, using a Wet One wipe to remove any traces from my licked fingers and sticky mouth. I don’t allow pasta in the house, and the only wine that has been in the house lately has been for a paid campaign (both I still consume but keep for special occasions and dinners out). I threw out my face wipes to force myself to properly wash and moisturize my face before bedtime. I have bought 10 different water bottles in the past two years so I never have an excuse to not stay hydrated. I’ve blocked certain URLs and Instagram profiles from my apps and browsers that make me judgy and snarky and I get powder dip nails every 2-3 weeks so I can’t nibble on my hands.
Some of this has been a true life change. If I miss the gym more than two days I feel achy and disgusting. Since I work out, I have different cravings. Since I’ve had the time to find out, I’ve learned many issues regarding stress, sleep, health, and creativity can be solved with the right amount of water and sleep. That taking vitamins and supplements and eating whole foods can do all kinds of good for my skin, hair, digestion, back, brain, and more. But gosh, let one drop and I’m looking for an excuse to go run errands so I can get a venti Frappuccino and wander around Target trying to heal myself with a cart full of things I don’t need.
When I reminded myself I don’t need this and getting my account number would be a slippery slope into 2016 Alison, I decided to scroll through the Nordstrom sale for the first time and see if I’m missing out on anything. I found that a good percentage of the sale is junk – cheap brands, items made just for the sale, mediocre things at a sweet spot pricepoint to make you think you’re getting a deal. The rest are the same damn things in every single Nordstrom sale. I said I wouldn’t do a sale post but I had to share my thoughts on what everyone swears you should buy, and the few things I actually think are worth it for this sale.
But there is NOTHING, I mean NOTHING in this sale that is such a good deal you should open up a Nordstrom credit card. No roof repairs, no cars to get to work, no appliances with 12 months interest-free so it’s like layaway while still being able to cook dinner or heat your home. You know what smells better than Black Orchid by Tom Ford? The sweet smell of not having Nordstrom debt.
What Everyone (Except Me) Says You Should Buy
Spanx Faux Leather Leggings – sure they’re cute on many, but they are there EVERY YEAR and they often have them on sale at the end of the season. It’s a deal if you already love them, but honestly are you wanting them because they go with your wardrobe or yours wore out or because every blogger is saying how versatile they are? If you truly love them, I support you and I have a guide on how to style them.
Barbour coats – Unless you live somewhere where the climate requires such a coat and you make enough money that you can afford it, there’s no need for this coat in your life. You can find cheaper. Check Lands’ End, check LL Bean, check Bernardo.
Barefoot Dreams cardigan – I have one. It's navy, it's at least three years old. My first year I wore it a lot, even out of the house with faux leather-front leggings and a white t-shirt. I saw pictures, and I always looked a bit… comfortable. You know what I mean, like that guy in the ad on TV with the v-neck that became a u-neck. So I decided to keep it as home fashion. Then I got the flu and wore it straight for a week. Now it has become my Sick Day cardigan because each time I see it I think of when I was last lying on the couch with a Kleenex stuffed in each nostril watching Wendy Williams. I know a lot of you love this cardigan but I just don’t think it’s streetwear.
Beachwaver – You’re saving $63. That’s a good deal if for months you’ve wanted one but it’s just a bit too expensive. But if you’re getting by with your current hair routine and appliances, keep in mind it's still $133. If it was always $133 would you buy it, or are you buying it because it seems like such a good deal? Not going to stop you, but I want you to realize the price.
Chantelle Rive Gauche and Natori Feathers bras – Both of these bras are in the sale every year. You can find them cheaper on Amazon all year round, and usually you can also find matching undies on sale. Don't buy them during this sale unless you're already a fan of the style and they have a color or size you can't find elsewhere.
Rebecca Minkoff bags – Rebecca Minkoff is a Scientologist. I know, it upsets me as well. Use that information as you wish. If you don’t believe me Google it.
The Kendra Scott jewelry in this sale – This trend ship has sailed for grown-ass women. Unless you personally love this brand and have wanted it forever and saved up, pass on these pieces. Kendra Scott’s pieces like this are going to be this decade’s equivalent of the bubble necklace. This isn't all Kendra Scott, just the “signature” pieces that are part of this sale. I still like her more unique items.
Electronic facial devices – Will you really use it? Be real with yourself. Sure it’s cheaper than going to get a facial or getting a procedure done. But will you truly use it on a regular basis? Will you still be using it in a year, or will it be collecting dust in the cabinet under your sink? I see purchasing facial devices like buying treadmills and exercise bikes. Best intentions but less than half of the people who buy them use them enough to justify their price and the space they take up in the home. As for the NuFACE, I bought it twice. Here's my review, spoiler alert it's possessed.
What I Think Is Worth It
Zella leggings – As I shared in this post, I like Zella leggings. And this is a good time to get current colors and styles at end of season prices.
Spanx – If you use them, it’s a good time to stock up on styles they always have, not just created for the sale.
Hanky Panky underwear – Same. This underwear isn’t cheap, but it’s durable, cute, made in the USA, and a great price to stock up for the year.
Any beauty products you already use – If you know you love Living Proof or Kiehl’s or Alterna then stock up. If you’re using this sale to try new products I don’t think it’s smart. Buy a smaller bottle when you’re not all hopped up on sale. Then if you fall in love, next Nordstrom sale, stock up. For if it’s in the sale now likely it will continue to be part of the sale.
Bernardo coats – I got a packable black parka with a hood several years ago during the NSale. It fit when I was a 16, fit when I was a 12, it washes well, it’s quilted to create an hourglass effect, it’s not too trendy, IMO it’s worth it. If the one I had didn’t still fit well enough for this winter I’d take advantage of this sale and get a new one.
Yes, there are affiliate links in this post; click here to learn how blogs make money. No there are no graphics or pictures or shopping widgets because that takes hours to pull together. Yes, I likely will buy Black Orchid when the sale opens up to those without a Nordstrom card. And if there still are Smartwool socks, I may snag some of those too. If I do I'll let you know and hopefully, my family doesn't decide suddenly that this perfume makes me smell like hay.
When you read this, I will be in Nashville. Well, the Gaylord Opryland to be more specific as I will be there for Scoop, the cabi conference and 99% of the time I won't be leaving the resort grounds. I am really excited; I went to Scoop the last time it was in Nashville and had the honor of introducing the streaming video of their fashion show. This time I'll only be there less than 40 hours but I know it will be amazing. I will be delving into this in more detail soon, but I'm excited that cabi has extended their size range to 18. I started working with cabi before I made the decision to only work with brands that go at least to an 18 and have been hoping they'd do this. If the average American woman is a size 16, it makes sense for every brand to go up to a minimum of an 18. I can't wait to see more of the fall collection and if you will be at Scoop please come up and say hi and give me a hug. This is one of the brands I mentioned in Monday's blog post; I'll have a recap of the trip on the blog in the near future and will be sharing my weekend on Instagram Stories and have a couple of photos also in my Instagram feed.
My beautiful friend Beth wrote a moving post about her husband and cancer. Beth is so smart and strong, she's been keeping her amazing blog and social going strong while all of this has been going on with her wonderful family. I share because I know many of you have experienced similar and because she and her family can use all the positive vibes, mojo, and prayers. (Style at a Certain Age)
Sunday morning my sister texted me, “Can you pls write about (or link to an article about) the mall in Stranger Things and how they pulled it off?” Sister, your wish is my command. There are a few articles, but this one has the basic details, the video of the mall for Stranger Things, and links to other relevant articles. (Bustle)
Think you can't show your personality when you have to wear a uniform? Think again. (Man Repeller)
I love Sigrid, and have featured her before in Weekend Reads. Her latest video is cute and funny and a great peek into all the work it takes to make such a video. Oh, and the song is lovely too. That director deserves an award. And a vacation somewhere warm.
One of the most popular questions I am asked on Instagram is where I buy my activewear. And I haven’t written a post about it because my answer is not exciting. I am 5’3” which has me between regular and petite sizing, and I wear a 14 in pants, 12 in some jeans. This makes me usually a Large in activewear, but we’ve all learned in the Wild Wild West of women’s apparel sizing, not all Larges are created equal. On top of this, I have a large bust (36F) so I perform best with both support and coverage. My activewear collection has been cobbled together from multiple sources.
Why and Where I Wear Activewear
Almost every weekday morning I go to a gym where I weight train and occasionally go on a treadmill. A couple of times a week, I may also go to a different gym where I go on the elliptical, occasionally a bike, and sometimes more weight training. On weekends I ride my bike with my family – nothing hardcore, but enough that I do better in activewear than street clothes. Once a week I go to yoga. I look for activewear that can work for all of these occasions instead of unique products that have a single purpose. I like fun activewear, but I usually stick to black, gray, the occasional pop of color so that the pieces can be worn multiple times, through the whole year, and not be so memorable anyone realizes I often wash and rewear the same pieces more than once in a week.
Where I Buy Activewear
Zella is an in-house brand from Nordstrom that offers regular and plus size activewear at a reasonable price. I’ve tried several styles of their leggings and like the weight (no going sheer when you do a squat), the fit (no sliding down because of my booty), and the durability (I have pairs two years old that have been washed and even dried dozens of times and still look amazing). Zella is often on sale; search the brand and then go by price and you can often find their live-in leggings at 30-40% off in some last-season color or detail. Even full price, Zella is worth the price for the fit, quality, and style.
I go to activewear, narrow down by the type of item I am looking for, my size, and then I filter from cheapest to most expensive. I often find activewear, especially workout tops, on sale at Nordstrom for less than $35 and they’re good brands. I type this before going to the gym in a sleeveless gray wicking t-shirt with the Nike logo on the front that I got at Nordstrom for about $14. Many find Nordstrom expensive, but it’s all about how you shop the retailer.
I shop the same way at Macy’s. Choose activewear, then I usually choose “all activewear” and then my size. Then I filter from least to most expensive. I find Macy’s to be more hit and miss with quality than Nordstrom, but I still have a few tops and shorts from there that I scored and ridiculously low prices that have held up nicely. Their brand Ideology has cute workout tops for less than $15.
In a pair of blue leggings I found at TJ Maxx (do not know the brand anymore) and showing the ill fit and weird contraption that is the SHEFIT bra (reviewed below)
I don’t shop in brick and mortar stores often. It started due to lack of sizing, but continued because it doesn’t benefit my wallet. I go in a store and feel I should leave with a purchase to justify my drive and search and sweaty hair from the Frito-smelling fitting room session. I buy what works, but I don’t necessarily love. So 99% of my clothing purchases are from online… and that 1% is usually activewear from TJ Maxx. I stick to brands I have heard of – no need for fancy brands like Sweaty Betty or Outside Voices but names I know like Under Armour, Gaiam, Reebok. TJ Maxx is great for leggings and capris and lightweight loose tanks and sleeveless tees for under $20. I don’t try to find chic or trendy, but I have some amazing leggings in solid colors, some with sheer panels that are years old and cost about $18 at TJ Maxx. Do note, the larger your size the smaller the selection. Also, some TJ Maxxes aren’t as good about offering plus sizes. Don’t go expecting to fill a drawer with choices, but you may find one, possibly two gems.
When I want something to fit and be functional I go to Athleta. Extensive customer reviews, reasonable size range, detailed descriptions, and pieces that have style yet function. Their offerings go beyond leggings and workout tops to gear great for specific activities and outdoor excursions up to size 2X.
Wearing a top from Old Navy (no longer available) at the gym
I have pretty much written off Old Navy for clothing. At 44, I find the quality and fit are more misses instead of hits. However, I still rock their activewear. Decent quality, consistent fit, on-trend styles, nice size range, and amazing prices. I don’t LOVE Old Navy, the fit isn’t perfect for my curves and they often seem to add weird details for interest just cheapens the piece and makes it less effective, but it’s a good place to go for a decent pair of leggings at a decent price.
Before I changed sizes, Universal Standard was my JAM for activewear. The quality is stellar, the style is minimalist chic, the fit is awesome. However, at my current height and size I find all of it too long and tall for me. But I had this top and I wore it twice a week, which meant I washed it twice a week, for a year. The only way you could tell it was so worn was because the printed label inside wore away a bit. The top stayed saturated, no pills, no snags, no thinning, so change in shape or weight. The leggings are equally great quality. We often look for the lowest price, but when it comes to things like activewear that gets so beaten up with use and washings, it may prove more cost-effective to buy quality that can survive longer.
Core 10 by Amazon
I had the opportunity to try a free pair of Core 10 leggings over a year ago. They continue to be my favorite leggings in my drawer. Nice and thick, holds their shape. They have stayed saturated black, haven’t gotten fuzzy even though they aren’t washed with care, and the wrap style waist (the version I got) is flattering and stays in place even when it’s leg day and my trainer has me do nothing but squats. Amazon has several versions, I did the “build your own” yoga pant legging which let me pick length of leg and type of waistband; this specific legging is $44 with Prime shipping and returns and part of Prime Wardrobe. Core 10 goes up to size 3X and many versions come in short and tall options.
I am always on the search for a great sports bra. So far in 2019, my favorite has been this one by Freya. I like it so much I just ordered a second one to use when the other is in the laundry. Because I have a large bust, I do not wear traditional sports bras and look for styles with more bra of details from retailers known for designing for a large bust. Bare Necessities and Nordstrom are my two go-to retailers for decent return policies, broad range of brands, and customer reviews.
I have one fallen arch, and feet that in general fit better in a shoe box than an actual shoe. I need a shoe with arch support, a roomy toebox, and a shoe that is relatively straight. I like shopping at Zappos and Nordstrom because the return policies are good and there are plenty of reviews to know better what I am ordering. My third favorite is Dick's Sporting Goods because they have a surprisingly varied selection, good shipping and returns, and often the lowest price online. I have the most success in finding arch support and support in general from Asics and Brooks. I have stopped trying to find trendy or “cool” sneakers because foot pain is way less cool and affects my desire to exercise. My two most recent workout sneakers I've owned are:
ASICS GT-2000 6 Running Shoe: The arch support on these are amazing, so much it took some getting used to. But totally worth it. This shoe comes in a variety of colors, I chose all black thinking it would look more neutral but think fun colors may look more hip. I bought it at Nordstrom and it's now sold out but I found it on Nordstrom Rack, at Dick's Sporting Goods, and also on sale at Amazon for less than $75.
Brooks Ricochet Running Shoe: This is my current sneaker. It doesn't have as much arch support as the ASICS but it has a lot of cushioning while also offering ankle and foot support. They offer so much cushioning treadmill days aren't as dreaded as they used to be. With these, I went with the most ridiculous color combination available. Still not trendy or going to get compliments… well actually they do because fellow fussy feet people will stop me and compliment me on my shoe choice because they too love Brooks! I got mine at Nordstrom, I also found them at Zappos.
At the gym wearing a “Goal Weight: Strong AF” tee (link to buy it at Amazon) and my favorite Fabletics leggings (print no longer available but this is the same style), and my current weightlifting gloves. iPhone case is from Baublebar
Where I Have Not Had Luck…
I don't love sharing negative reviews because my miss can be someone else's hit. However, I know a lot of you have similar body types and this may assist with narrowing down choices:
Fabletics: One of my absolute favorite pair of leggings is from Fabletics. They're so comfy and a cute print. That being said, every other thing I have gotten from Fabletics has fit me terribly. I have thick thighs, an ample booty, a lower belly and the leggings are just too straight and they end up sliding down while also suffocating my calves. Their sports bras, even the high impact, are no match for my chest. Their tops are really meh, also straight cut and even with all the deals I don't think worth the money. Fabletics is great if you have a smaller bust, if you're more straight or pear-shaped, and if you're looking for fun activewear that doesn't cost a kazillion dollars. Everything is way cheaper if you join, and it's relatively easy to cancel by email/chat.
Knix: I love Knix's boyshorts and have several pairs, but everything else I have tried from them, including their Catalyst sports bra, have been a disappointment. I hate to admit that because I love the company, but I think the fabric is just too easily stretched out.
SHEFIT: I had several readers ask me to review the SHEFIT bra. I purchased the SHEFIT Ultimate Sports Bra. I think it's awful. It's heavy and such a cumbersome contraption. The velcro catches on my workout tops. The bra does support, but it gives an awful weird bust shape, it's lumpy under workout tops, there's no way I'll wear it without a shirt over it because it looks like a posture support product or part of a Kevlar vest. You can do better.
Now I’d like to hear from you! Where do you shop for activewear? What are great resources for your specific needs? Your suggestion may be exactly what another woman needs to feel great during her next workout!
Shop the Items in the Photos That Are Still Available:
A quick scroll through my archives and you'll see I love overalls and jumpsuits. I've written before about a denim boilersuit I saw over a decade ago on the blog The Sartorialist that I have wanted in my closet. I bought a denim boilersuit, had it tailored, customized it with sequined wings on the back, it was never quite right but I wore the heck out of it until it no longer fit (stay tuned, it will soon be in my Poshmark shop). I've learned that I get so excited by the idea, but once it's in my closet it's not terribly practical. I'll choose dressy ones (the one here I've worn a dozen times), I'll choose breezy casual ones (like this one I recently featured), but denim… that's a toughie. But that's where renting clothing is awesome – I can rent a denim jumpsuit or boilersuit, keep it as long as I want, return it when I'm over it (or realize it's not right for me), or if I do fall in love with it, I can keep it. Needless to say, when I saw this Good American denim jumpsuit available in my size at Rent the Runway I added it to my next delivery.
I was surprised to find the jumpsuit wasn't too long for my short self. While it's fitted I didn't feel self-conscious in it and thought it looked really good with my shape. I loved that it had a front zipper for ease getting it on and off. I was able to slip it on just fine however, when it came to taking it off, it wasn't as easy. I had to pull a sleeve, then pull on the pockets to shimmy it down, then practically be double-jointed to get the back and pull it, then the other sleeve… I couldn't imagine what I'd do if I was out and had to use a public restroom.
I was invited to a happy hour hosted by a local marketing company and figured it would be a short night. I didn't plan on drinking, so I'd keep liquids to a minimum and be home before I have to try to Houdini myself out of it. Enjoy the style, get a few photos feeling fierce, send it back to Rent the Runway Unlimited the next day. These mirror selfies are from window shopping before I met up with my friend for the happy hour.
The happy hour was in a super cute bar in Georgetown and they had the whole top floor. And the top floor's A/C stopped working. It was hot, even hotter in a denim jumpsuit. I got sparkling water with ice, guzzled it in less than a minute, blew on the ice to cool my face. Refilled that glass four times with water, blotted my face with a napkin, fanned myself with a happy hour menu. I sweat so much I think all those glasses of water just oozed out of my skin instead of heading to my bladder.
But then a friend and I decided to go to dinner afterward. And I drank more water. And before the meal was over I had to go use the restroom. I was terrified, I was going to pull a muscle or wet myself or something in there and it wasn't a large multi-stall restroom down a hall. Oh no, it was an individual bathroom right near tables, with a silly barn door that locked but wouldn't hide my screams or cries if I dislocated a shoulder while trying to pee. But to my surprise, all that sweating must have stretched out the jumpsuit that little bit that I needed and with only a little wriggling I was able to get it off and get to business.
So I totally planned to send this back but instead, I kept it for maybe another wear. This time I glammed out with my silver snakeskin boots (previously seen here and here) but next time maybe I'll cuff it and wear them with my Adidas Superstars or an open heel. I also saw some customer reviews on the RTR site that showed it unzipped more with a cami peeking out. Or maybe after a week or two, I'll realize I'll never wear it again and just mail it back for something else to replace it. If you're interested in this Good American denim jumpsuit I did find it still available in some straight and plus sizes at Bloomingdale's. I also linked to other denim jumpsuits below in a variety of sizes, retailers, and pricepoints. And if you rent this jumpsuit from RTR Unlimited and decide you love it, you can buy it from RTR at 10% off the retail price. And I've seen the older an item is, the better the discount from RTR. I recently rented something and it was 45% off retail, but no longer available in any stores/a previous season. If you're not a member, every influencer under the sun is currently a Rent the Runway ambassador and offering a discount code and you already either joined or despise the brand thanks to it being EVERYWHERE. Shocker of all shockers I too am one of those annoying RTR ambassadors; my code is AGARY50 for 50% off your first month though there may be other promo codes out there that are better (I've seen some for 3 months for the price of 2, first month free, etc.). It's worth it to Google to find the best promo for your needs.
As for makeup, this summer I'm trying out spending more time on my skin and less time on makeup. I did a hint of concealer (this one by Glossier) around the eyes just to hide darkness. Did my brows (this pencil from NYX and Glossier's Bow Brow), curled my lashes and added mascara (Thrive Causemetics), sometimes a fine line of liquid liner, hint of bronzer, and then a neutral lip (often times just a glossy balm and if I want to be fancy, a matte red lip). So many summers I end up dabbing away my foundation and powders due to sweat or have beige-colored rivulets going down my neck. So far I'm comfortable. The concealer helps; it may fade away through the day but makes my reflection match what I see in my mind so I can feel confident with or without it once I reach my destination.
Before Friday’s post went live, I asked members of the WO2 Community to ask any questions they had about how blogs make money. One asked how my life changed being a full-time career blogger versus keeping it a part-time job. The biggest change has been the pitching, the negotiating, the courting of brands to secure paid sponsored content.
I hate pitching. It’s such a different headspace from writing, editing photos, crafting social media content. Every job has aspects we don’t like. I also don’t like bookkeeping, working on the site under the hood to keep it fast and modern and effective, or scrolling through 600 photos of me with one eye open and my necklace lassoing a boob to find 7 good for a blog post. But those are givens, they’re the necessary administrative tasks to accomplish the creative. But pitching, most of the time it’s essentially me begging a brand to like me and pay me to be what they want.
I can easily spend 40 hours a week pitching, replying to emails, taking calls, updating my media kit, liking and engaging with brands on social, and still not make a dime. It starts coloring everything I do. Let’s take this example, all aspects taken from real experiences I have had:
You want to work with The Sweater Store, you love their sweaters, you love their ethics, the pricepoint is perfect for your audience, as is the extended size range. You purchase a sweater from The Sweater Store and style it for the blog and Instagram. You sell a bunch of sweaters from The Sweater Store, the post does extremely well on Instagram. You reach out to The Sweater Store, tell them what a fan your are and clearly your audience is too. You compliment them on their partnership with a charity and a recent collaboration with a celebrity showing. You provide metrics of how well their sweaters sell with your audience, offer some ways to partner. They ghost you. Or they reply saying they’ll send you one free item of their choice in exchange for a blog post and social shares. Or worse, they reply back and say they don’t do paid collaborations even though you saw 8 of your blogger friends do paid campaigns with them in the past three months. What do you do, do you keep pushing to work with them or move on? Next thing you know, you’re writing for The Sweater Store, not for your audience.
It’s two weeks later, you’re writing a piece that is fun and creative and you’re in that zone and words are spilling from your fingers. You go to your browser to research something and you see you have new emails. You check and there’s an email from your contact at The Sweater Store. She finally replied back, they’d love to get on a call and chat about an exciting new project they have for next quarter. YES, all that writing about The Sweater Store paid off! You drop that creative blog post to reply back, schedule a call for the next day and spend the next hour or so organizing your media kit, crafting some pitch ideas, pulling metrics for how well you sell their sweaters, sweaters as a whole, this year compared to last year, how well your posts on social that featured The Sweater store did (we can pull insights on Instagram and Facebook to see how many people saw the content, how many liked it, shared it, saved it, commented on it, clicked on the hashtags or mentions, and more).
You get on the call the next day, thinking it’s a call with your contact but it ends up being her plus 12 different people from the brand, the affiliate, and their PR firm. Come to find out, they’re having a new sweater come out next quarter, a special sweater they want to promote. They want to send you and 499 other influencers the same sweater in exchange for a blog post and Instagram post and at least three slides in Instagram Stories about this sweater. It’s going to be huge, it will be on the Today Show, it will go viral, they already tapped a Kardashian and a Jonas Brothers’ wife and a YouTube star to be part of the campaign, it’s going to be awesome. And nope, there’s no budget but you could be regrammed by The Sweater Store, you may end up in their newsletter, and the top 100 photos will be on the back page of their catalog and it’s going to be amazing exposure. Oh, and they will need full rights to the high-res versions of the photos in perpetuity.
In the meantime, you haven’t finished that piece you were working on because you just can’t get back into that zone. 99% of you wants to throw two giant middle fingers up to The Sweater Store but 1% wonders if maybe if you do that campaign you may end up getting valuable exposure, maybe this would give you a chance to be in a paid campaign with the brand. And well, you have made a good amount from their affiliate program and likely will sell a bunch of these sweaters. You think, you know that Kardashian, that Jonas Wife, and that YouTube star all got paid six figures by The Sweater Store to participate. Likely a percentage of those 499 other influencers are also being paid, though less than a Kardashian. Your cursor blinks at you in Word, mocking you that you’ve lost another day to The Sweater Store and your creative awesome piece will now forever be a half-finished draft on your desktop.
I get the benefit of pitching, but I don't know if it makes sense for my kind of content and goals for Wardrobe Oxygen. I am not looking to be a spokesmodel. A lot of influencers, their goal is to be a model of sorts, or a visual example for a lifestyle or personal style. They focus on photography, work to have their images represent brands beautifully while sharing a consistent aesthetic or brand. And there's nothing wrong with that, but I consider myself more of a writer. And most pitching in this field is based on modeling a product. Maybe all this pitching isn't just messing up my creative flow but my direction for Wardrobe Oxygen as a whole.
Taking a Sponsor-Free Summer Vacation
I’ve decided to take a summer vacation from brands. For the rest of July and August, I am not going to accept any sponsored content, I won’t pitch to any brands, I won’t use my blog and social media to try to court brands to hopefully get paid content. I am going to share content like I did when I was a part-time blogger, but even if I am offered a paid campaign during this time I will decline so I can focus on writing not pitching. I’m going to wear what I want, share on Instagram when it feels right and not when the algorithm says I’ll receive the highest engagement, and share content I find enjoyable.
What this Means
No sponsored posts – no mentions in posts, no dedicated posts, no Instagram photos or stories for brands. No sale alerts the rest of the summer. No Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, no Amazon Prime Day, no list of promotions for Weekend Reads. I may make a quick mention, but no spending days prior to create that content like I did last year. Everything you see on the blog and social is there because I chose to have it there. No contracts, no favors to brands, no dropping there now so I can score some paid campaign come September. I will not spend any time pitching or negotiating. I’ll have a form reply saying I am not accepting any collaborations until after Labor Day. I will focus my time not on sponsorships but on creating more content for the blog.
I have an open contract with a brand. It is for a series of Instagram posts with corresponding Stories. The last of the contract was shot before July started and sent to them for approval. Once it is approved it will be published.
I agreed to two trips this summer with brands. These are brands I have featured many times, even before I worked with them. I am not being paid to attend these trips nor to share my experience. I will be sharing on Instagram and writing trip recaps on the blog, but they are not paid for nor am I under obligation to complete them.
My family and I are taking a trip later this summer, staying at a minimum of four different cities. We have booked and paid for the entire trip… except for one city. I worked with a hotel brand in the past and last month asked if they would cover our stay with one of their hotels in this city in exchange for promotion. It has not been confirmed yet.
If I am wearing gifted merchandise, it’s because I own it, it’s part of my wardrobe, I love it, and would wear it whether or not there is a camera. I know gifted merchandise can be hard to believe. Previous jobs had perks – free computers, college assistance, 401K matching, office space… my job perk is sometimes getting items of my choice from brands I love. I will always mention it was gifted, and will be better about mentioning how long I’ve had it and other times I’ve shared it on the blog so you can see it’s a product I truly care about.
Giving Back with Your Help
I don’t share how much I make because it’s honestly no one’s business. But after sharing how blogs make money, I want to do an experiment. I am going to share how much I make from affiliate and ads during this “summer vacation.” For every $1,000 I make, I will donate $100 to a charity. Each month, I will pick five charities and you can vote which one should receive the donation.
Most affiliate commissions are held up for at least 90 days to have time for returns to happen. I won’t have an accurate number for what I really earn from affiliate, but I will use the metrics offered to show what I made off of open sales during that month. With ads, I can see what I made but that specific revenue is paid months later. I again will use the metrics to show what I made during that month, not what I received. To not go against any contracts I have signed with these monetization companies, I will not break down this revenue, I will share a lump sum of all affiliate and ad revenue combined.
I donate on a monthly basis already, but rarely share the recipient of the donation. I love the idea of you, who help make that donation be possible, be part of choosing the charity. I will do a post after each month with how much was made, how much will be donated, and have a poll for you to pick the charity. All month long you can email, comment or DM to me charities you think would be a good fit and why.
At the End of My Summer Vacation
At the end of this eight-week vacation, I’ll share the results. How did it affect my creativity, my mindset, and my bank account? I’d love to say that this switch will prove more successful, but I fear it won’t be. But I look forward to trying this and seeing how it affects the content and my relationship with you!
I don't watch a ton of TV… except in the summer. I don't know why it's different, I mean same job, same schedule, but I do. It reminds me of childhood, being slightly sunburned, freshly showered, curled up in an afghan my mon crocheted, down in the rec room which was always the coolest room in the house since it was the basement level, watching You Can't Do That on Television or reruns of The Brady Bunch. TV to me feels like summer.
It rained on the 4th of July. My family and I headed to the pool but the skies opened and we raced home. Emerson took a shower, then I did. She retreated to her room for the afternoon and I curled up in an afghan and watched the first three episodes of Tales from the City. I haven't binged a show since LOST but if we didn't have dinner I would have likely finished the whole season.
My favorite TV show for three summers is Claws. It's in season 3 and a LOT has happened so if you're not watching it yet it's too late (unless you're the binging type) because it's utter ridiculousness with the most colorful fabulous characters and the most out there storylines and a shocking amount of violence interspersed with comedic perfection. I DVR it and watch it usually on a Wednesday while sharing my blog content, eating breakfast, and replying to emails. While I have adored Niecy Nash since Clean House and looove her on Claws, I truly love every single female character on the show and how unique and nuanced they are and how they interact with one another.
I also have a thing with GenZ and young millennial shows. I've gotten older but my taste in TV has not. The season ended but I positively adore The Bold Type. I know they have past episodes on OnDemand. It takes place at a magazine similar to Cosmo and I adore every character. Grownish, a spin-off of Blackish, is another favorite. It follows Zoey, oldest child from Blackish during her time at college. I'm watching an episode while writing this (okay I watch some, then pause to write, then turn it back on when I need a distraction) and there is one scene that made this GenX-er gain some life knowledge from kids who literally are the age where they could have been birthed by me after receiving a four-year college degree. Maybe it hit harder because I am working on trying to get my curls back:
NOMI: Listen, okay, you made a valiant effort, but you can't just carve out a weekend and then suddenly expect everything to be solved. JAZZ: Yeah, Zoey, it's like how you are with your curls. It just doesn't happen overnight. It's a process. First, you start off by trimming off the dead ends, then you gotta find the right products, then you pineapple it at night, and then you plunk it in the morning. It's about maintenance. Just like self-care. SKY: Yeah, you practice a little bit of it every day. And, you know, you can't get curl and life goals in one weekend.
I'd love to say I am so enlightened I only read books, and they're real books, but of course, borrowed from the library or purchased from thrift stores while communing with nature and drinking herbal tea and wearing ethically sourced linen wide-leg cropped pants that are perfect for sitting in Sukhasana. Nope. Sometimes I just love lying on the couch under an afghan absorbing a hell of a lot of blue light while drinking coffee too late in the day. And it feels even more right on a summer afternoon.
It's no secret I adore Jonathan Van Ness from Queer Eye fame. He has a podcast called Getting Curious and I don't listen to it regularly (now that I don't have a work commute podcasts are a rarity) but I HIGHLY recommend the one with Alok discussing living inside and outside the gender binary. If you're confused, questioning, angry about, or just want to be more informed about this topic, this is a fabulous and friendly way to learn more from the comfort of your headphones or car stereo. This is the link for it on Apple Podcasts, here is the link for it on Spotify, and here it is on Stitcher which is easy to play from a computer without a special app or membership.
For Your Entertainment
Sometimes my daughter gets a song in her head, plays it over and over, and I want to SCREAM! Hello Old Town Road, which she has taught herself to play on the piano. But I remember how important music was to me at that age (heck at every age) so I hold back my opinions and let her play what she wants, occasionally offering headphones or suggesting she turn it down a smidge. Well Old Town Road has been replaced by a new song and it's one I don't mind having stuck in my head all day long. LSD is the supergroup of Labrinth, Sia, and Diplo and their entire album is genius (I'm so punny) but this song is maybe the most catchy one from it.