Category Archives: asked and answered

asked and answered: what to wear with leather?

Yay, reader question! Being answered in a timely fashion! I’m pretty proud of myself. Amy asked such a great question over the weekend, I had no choice but to answer straightaway:

All the leather out there reminds me of my unresolved question from last fall: how do you match leather tops/skirts to boots? Do we avoid leather boots completely? Do the boots need to match the color of the leather top/jacket/skirt? If not boots, then what kind of footwear, especially in the colder months? Thanks! ~ Amy

Amy, you’re so not the only one wondering about this. Matching leather is a hurdle it took me years to master – and finally, I realized I was worrying too much (as usual). In general, the only rules I stick to are these: Read on

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quick trick: solving the “i have nothing to wear” blues

Photo via Pinterest…if you know the actual source, pleaseplease tell me!

I know “spring cleaning” is supposed to be where it’s at, but really, it’s more mid-February (hey, that’s now!) when my “clean it up, toss it out” juices get flowing. This is when I’m officially beginning to tire of my winter wardrobe, when I’m coming to terms with which fall/winter pieces in my closet are officially not getting worn, and which are due to be retired.

Besides tackling my own treasure troves, I’ve been helping a dear reader with a major closet clean-out/reorganization this month (truly, there are few things I love more in the world than editing closets. If you need a hand, you know where to find me). And it’s gotten me thinking that I have a few tricks up my sleeve I may not have mentioned. Like my no-fail solution to the “I have nothing to wear” wail that issues from my closet at least twice a month. Want the secret?

Read on

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introducing: simply be

{Editor’s Note: This article was brought to you by the lovely folks at Simply Be.}

I’ve been getting more and more emails from you sweet readers asking for ideas on stylish buys for the curvier girls among us. And honestly, I feel for you…the options out there aren’t great. So when Simply Be reached out to see if I’d be willing to tell you about their site, I was thrilled to find that they have a fantastic selection of fashion-forward picks for plus sizes! A few of my favorites:

I’m especially obsessed with that horse-print tunic on the left. Can you picture it with that cinnamon-colored cardi for fall? Perfect!

Since they’re based in the UK, I’ve been hesitant to crow about this site too much, but hey, my British friends need love too, right? Plus, they’ve just started shipping to the States, which is excellent news for those of us stranded on this side of the Pond.

Check out Simply Be…I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Also, you’ll get 20% off your first order with this link, which should be just the push you need to give them a try.

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asked and answered: stylish shoe storage

Friends, one of you sent me this question back in January, and I am incredibly tardy in responding. But in my defense, it wasn’t that I forgot, or that I had more important things to do. No, it’s that it was a genuinely tricky query, and I needed some time to marinate on the best options.

The attached photos you may recognize as Jenna Lyons’ closet.  I love the shelving she uses to store her shoes and would like to recreate it in my own closet but I don’t want to spend a fortune. I’ve tried to find some shelving that looks nice…..not so industrial but no such luck. Any suggestions?  ~Jaime R.

{Photos c/o Trulia}

See what I mean? Jaime wants me to do better on a closet storage option than Jenna Lyons? Talk about a tall order. And so, I just sort of pushed her question to the back of my mind, where it’s been rolling around aimlessly for the last month (or two).

But, I think I finally have a suggestion that will work brilliantly. Those shelves you see in Jenna’s closet are actually glass, with powder-coated metal framing. I’m guessing it’s the frame you’re not crazy about – and, to be honest, I’m guessing those shelves are commercial display models, so you don’t have to worry. You’d never be able to find them anyway.

I trolled all sorts of home design stores looking for solutions, but I think they’ll all still have that industrial bent you don’t love. Then it hit me, like a bolt from the blue: floating shelves are what you need. Glass would be the closest to Jenna’s look, but I think it depends on the space and your personal preferences. A few parameters:

  • The shelves need to be at least 10″ deep; 12″ if you wear anything larger than a size 9 shoe. Just remember, the deeper you go, the more cautious you have to be about installing – they’re at a higher risk of ripping out of the wall if you apply too much weight.
  • Most glass shelves aren’t very long, so you may need two per row to fill a space. You’ll have more length options if you go for a non-glass option, so it just depends on the look you’re after.
  • Please, please make sure you enlist some help when hanging these. They need to be anchored in a stud to support your shoes, and that’s not something you want to DIY unless you’re experienced.

If you play your cards right, you should end up with something that looks a bit like this:

{Images c/o Architectural Digest /}

As for sources, your best bet for glass (after an exhaustive search) is Home Depot – they have every shape and size you could ever wish for. If you’re after a non-glass option, IKEA has dozens of choices in everything from wood to laminate to metal, and it’s hard to argue with their prices.

If you don’t love this option, I heartily recommend the current issue of Lucky, which includes a fantastic how-to section on closet storage ideas (including some great shoe storage options). It’s definitely worth a look before you make any decisions.

One last tip: Jenna has her shelves incredibly overloaded…which makes me both envious and stressed out. Leave some space between your shoes, and you’ll have a much cleaner look.

Good luck, Jaime! I expect an update when this project of yours is completed.

Have a fashion, beauty or design question that’s leaving you stumped? Send it my way, and I’ll do my best to sleuth out a solution. editor {at} shoppingsmycardio {dot} com

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asked and answered: a style smorgasbord

{What? That’s totally how you spell “smorgasbord”. I Googled it.}

Good morning, friends! It’s time for another installment of “Asked and Answered,” and this one’s a doozie. One of you lovely readers sent me a whole pile of excellent questions – I think she’d been saving them up! – so I thought I’d knock them out all at once.  So, from the very stylish Alexis, here we go:

How do you keep up with tracking all of the fashion trends. From blogs to catalogs to fashion shows and new designers, how do you keep your research in check without staying up 24/7?

I used to be more obsessed with trends than I am now. If lace was in, I *had* to get a lace tee, stat. But I think the more time I spend learning about fashion, the more I realize that trends are boring. The last thing I want to be wearing is exactly what everyone else is wearing. Stepping out of the box is much more fun. Plus, keeping track of which heel height is en vogue at the moment is a full time job in itself.

So, rather than trends, I keep track of style. I avoid street style blogs like the plague (serious information overload), but I follow a couple of style blogs that are comfortable (Atlantic-Pacific and Garance Doré), and a couple that push my comfort zone a bit (Man Repeller and Le Fashion). I save looks I love in Pinterest, so I can go back for reference. When I see a look in a magazine that I love, I pin it up on an inspiration board in my dining room office (more on that later). Every so often, I take a look through – and trends just kind of emerge. Or at least, trends that I love. The rest falls away. Right now on my boards, it’s all about printed pants, flat loafers and the ’20s.

If you really want to get serious about tracking what’s hot, Vogue Collections is my secret weapon. It comes out after the runway shows every season, and gives me a reference of every single look from every major collection shown at Fashion Week – right down to the accessories. I love to spend some time looking through and deciding for myself what the trends are, and what to do with them. For instance, peplums. Huge for spring, but I’ll be ignoring them entirely. Unless you’re built like a boy, it’s a terrible idea.

There are so many flash sale sites these days. If you could only subscribe to one, what would it be?

Gilt. Hands down. Best customer service, best return policies, best brands. MyHabit would be my second choice. And honestly, I’ve unsubscribed to everything else. It’s just sensory overload, and I end up buying piles of things I don’t need and can’t return.

Overall, I really don’t like online shopping (returning is SUCH a pain) but shopping isn’t great where I live and I don’t have a lot of time. Any tips for becoming a better online shopper?

Yes! I am a chronic returner (ask anyone who knows me), but I’ve gotten better at knowing the good from the bad. A few things I’ve learned:

  1. Check the measurements. And believe them. If the measurements say the pants have an 8″ rise, but you know you’re better off in a 9″, don’t convince yourself they look like they hit the model in the right spot, so they’ll probably be great.
  2. Speaking of measurements, if they don’t offer, ask. I’ve been known to call online retailers and ask them to pull an item off the shelf and measure it for me. I’ve never been told no – and I’ve saved myself plenty of heartache. Sure, it makes you kind of a difficult customer – but then, so does returning 3/4 of what you buy.
  3. Take a closer look. Use those zoom features, check out the details closely, and make sure your sale goggles are nowhere to be found. Is that blouse tucked in, or is there an elastic waist situation going on? Is that a zipper on the ankle of those pants? Does the fabric look stiff or relaxed? Is the whiskering on that denim going to drive you crazy? If an item is black, look at the same piece in a lighter color if it’s available, so you can really see the details.
  4. Get to know your favorite brands, and be loyal. I have brands I’ll buy from sample sale sites because I know how their pieces fit. And others that I won’t. And I’m very, very conscious of the difference. If you don’t know the brand, it might be better to try in person first.
  5. Google. Look around for other sites selling the same piece – both for pricing purposes and to get better images. A lot of smaller boutiques don’t have the budget for big photo shoots, so their images might be awful. Rely on the big box stores for the best pictures, then go back to that little boutique’s site to buy.
  6. Check return policies. Thoroughly. If I can’t return something, I think very, very seriously before clicking “Buy”, no matter how good the deal is.

Got a question? Tell me all about it! editor{at}shoppingsmycardio{dot}com.

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asked and answered: job interview attire

Friends, last week I asked for reader questions, and boy, did you deliver! I have so many great questions (and hopefully some good answers) ahead…I think it should make for some quality programming.

I hardly knew where to start, but this question from a sweet reader who’s headed off for a job interview got first dibs, just because her interview is tomorrow!

Hi, Becki! I’m a loyal follower of your blog, and I have a wardrobe challenge/question for you. I’m interviewing at an environmental non-profit and meeting with “senior management.” The atmosphere is very different from my current corporate job. I went to my last interview dressed in a suit and was met by the hiring supervisor in jeans and a sweater. I need a professional, non-suit outfit that reflects me. Are you up for the challenge? ~ EB

Oh, you know I am! It’s tricky, to be sure. Unless you’re looking for work at a law firm or a bank, the reality is that most business dress codes have taken a step down in recent years. Personally, I don’t think a great suit ever does you a disservice, but there are definitely interviews for which you’ll want to put a slightly less formal foot forward. The bonus here is that it’s also a great chance to show off a little bit of personality, as well as your ability to embrace a casual dress code with class.

The trick is to still be the best-dressed woman in the office, without looking like you’ll be woefully out of place if they give you the job. My favorite option for a non-suit environment is a classic silk shirt with a great pair of trousers in a straight or wideleg cut (no skinnies, please). I’m always more likely to embrace solid colors for an interview – prints are highly subjective, and you never know what little detail will turn an inteviewer on or off.  To accessorize, skip big earrings and scarves in favor of a necklace that adds a little bit of personality (nothing too long or too bold). Add a great pointed-toe flat or kitten heel and a classic tote, and you’re set.

Madewell silk shirt, $80 / Alberta Ferretti trousers, $300 or Gap trousers, $60 / Dahlia dress belt, $3 /
Madewell necklace
, $33 / Loeffler Randall Quinnie flat, $250 / J.Crew bag, $328

The other way to go, if you’re after a more ladylike look, is a dress. Steer clear of wrap styles (you’re just asking for a wardrobe malfunction), and instead look for a sheath or a classic shirtdress. If the fabric is dressy enough, it’s definitely work-appropriate, but still reads a bit more casual than a suit. Make sure it’s not too body-conscious, at least knee-length, and if you go the shirtdress route, steer clear of shirttail hems. With a dress, keep jewelry minimal, just a simple belt and a classic pump (3.5 inches or under!) will send you straight to the head of the class.

Talbots Sash dress, $160 / Talbots Olivia dress, $150 / Ann Taylor belt, $30 / Graf + Lantz tote, $229 / LK Bennett pumps, $250

So, E, I hope this helps…and I’m crossing my fingers that you get the job!

Got a pressing query of your own? Tell me all about it: editor{at{shoppingsmycardio{dot}com!

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asked and answered: icelandic adventure

Oh, how I adore reader mail….

Dear Shopping’s My Cardio:
I have a fabulous trip to Iceland planned for February (yes, February) and I will be spending a few days in Reykjavik.  I have heard that Icelanders are very fashion-forward and I don’t won’t to look like an American tourist in New Balance sneakers and a Helly Hansen fleece while I am there. Any suggestions for winter chic in a cold cold land? And no, I also don’t want to look like Lisbeth from Dragon Tattoo….
 ~ A Loyal Reader

While I question the timing (brr!), Iceland has become the hot new destination (pun sort of intended) for adventurous jetsetters. A few months back, Iceland’s tourism board ran some amazing travel specials, and several of my friends jumped at the chance to be exotic on a budget.

But then, there’s also a fair contingent of SMC friends who reside in the Great White North, so I thought perhaps they wouldn’t mind a little primer on staying warm in style.

To start, spend some time on Google Images looking at celeb style at Sundance. Sure, it’s aspirational, but it’s also a great starting point for chic cold-weather wear. For the most part, it consists of skinny jeans tucked into Sorel boots, down parkas or shearling, great chunky scarves and a fabulous pair of sunnies to shield your eyes from all that sunlight bouncing off the snow.

{Images c/o Marie Claire, PopSugar and Ralph Lauren}

Pack your bags with staples like denim (I’d take one boot-cut and one skinny/jegging) and a couple of great sweaters (one pullover, one cardigan). Add a few classic layering pieces, like a plaid flannel shirt in a modern color combo or a perfect long-sleeved tee (my favorites are from LA Made). Take a pair of Sorels – I love the aprés ski vibe of this grey flannel version – and a second weather-friendly pair (thick-soled Fryes would be perfect, or a biker-style rain boot is a fun upgrade). For good measure, toss in a long-sleeved sweater dress that can double as a tunic during the day and a dinner dress at night.

To top it all off, you’ll need a couple of knockout scarves, a great pair of sunnies (aviators are my current favorite), and the perfect down parka to keep you warm – just be sure it has enough shape to keep your curves intact. I love the idea of opting for a white parka over the usual black – it instantly adds a hefty dose of style to your look. Brooklyn Industries is genius at making a puffer that flatters – the waistline on this version is unbelievably slimming, and the super sale price doesn’t hurt.

Brooklyn Industries Zermatt puffer coat ($139) / Pendleton cardigan ($100) / Sorel Norquay ($150) / Marc by Marc Jacobs crossbody ($138) / LL Bean flannel ($40) / Cashmere henley sweater ($107) / Juicy Couture rain boot ($125) / Guess aviators ($50) / Muk Luks convertible gloves ($21)

A few bonus tips:

  • Layer – after all, you’ll be inside a fair bit too, and you’ll want to regulate that temperature. And make sure the coat you pack is lightweight, so you can tote it through indoor venues without breaking a sweat.
  • Take a tiny crossbody bag like this one from Marc by Marc Jacobs ($138), so that when you’re carrying that down coat around, you won’t lose feeling in your arms
  • Warm socks are key. Do yourself one better and pick up a pair of fleece-lined tights (I found mine at Nordstrom Rack for under $10). Use them at night to keep your legs warm in that dinner dress, but you can also layer them under denim if the cold is too much to take.
  • Don’t be afraid of prints. A bold pattern on a cardigan will make repeat wears more pleasant – just steer away from trite Nordic themes. Go with tribal, stripes or mod, and you’ll be ahead of the tourist pack. (Plus, you’ll want to score a Fair Isle knit as a souvenir, no?)
  • Skip the jewels. Pick a favorite simple pendant and a stud earring, and leave the rest home. Chunky bangles are a mess with gloves, and statement earrings will only get caught on your scarf.

Do any of you frozen tundra-dwellers have any words of wisdom to add for our stylish friend?

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the how-to: styling a full skirt

first off, i owe serious apologies to dear reader christine, who asked me weeks ago if i’d show her how to wear that american apparel skirt i featured last month.  naturally, i said yes, because i love helping you guys out whenever i can!  but then, i promptly forgot my promise.  fortunately, my brain resurfaced, and i’m ready to tackle the challenge!

and to be honest, the timing couldn’t be better. believe me, you’ll be needing this advice for fall.  every fashion mag for august is telling us that round skirts (with mid-calf lengths, no less) will be all the rage when the weather turns chilly.  personally, i’m skeptical, if only because i think mid-calf lengths are terrifyingly unflattering most of the time.  for me, i’ll be sticking with lengths that just cover the knee…i’ll be close enough to be on-trend, and my legs will look oh-so-much better.

now, on to the styling.  the key with a full skirt is the waist.  it’s the “raison d’etre” of a full skirt…the entire point is to create an hourglass silhouette.  if you keep your top half lean and fitted, and fit the waist of your skirt to the thinnest part of your torso, you’ll end up with a shape that’s flattering on nearly everyone. so even if it terrifies you, wear this skirt at your natural waist – it’s the thinnest point, and will create the best silhouette.  after years of low-rise jeans, i know it’s scary, but trust me.  you’re going for this:

and of course, because we’re trying to create an hourglass, that means no untucked shirts (this one is a struggle for me, i admit).  but if you go for the untucked look, you’ll end up looking more dowdy than anything else:

Picture 4

not ideal, clearly.  though i do think it’s possible to make this look work with an intentionally oversized, slouchy shirt or sweater that can balance out the fullness of your skirt without overpowering it.  but you’ll need a wide neckline, and it absolutely must narrow back out at the waist.  something, perhaps, like this:

Picture 5

in general, for a full skirt, i’d keep the styling relatively simple, but do try to keep the colors and accessories young, or you could end up in donna reed territory.  and don’t be afraid to add patterns!  try a fitted jersey tank, tucked in, with the waist of the skirt kept high at your natural waist (you could even add a belt to accentuate the waist).  add a short cardigan for work (v-neck or a wide scooped neck would be better than a crew, which reads a little 1950s).  or, i love the idea in this month’s vogue of using a longer, thin cardi and tying it at the bottom to create a high-waisted silhouette.  for the weekend, try a denim jacket with the sleeves pushed up.  pile on a few bangles or a great necklace (i’d suggest choosing one or the other, not both), top it off with a simple ballet flat for day or a sandal for the weekend, and you’re set!

full skirt styling

just a few words of caution: i’d stay away from a heel or boot with this look – it’s best done with a subtler shoe, though a kitten heel could work.  and while these full skirt rules will work with everything from a mini to a mid-calf, i’d stick right around knee-length for the most flattering overall silhouette, especially if you want this look to be work-appropriate.

christine, i hope this helps!  and for all of you dear readers, don’t hesitate to send those style questions in…i so love that reader mail, and i promise to get to each and every one!

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