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Old Navy Active tanks

25 Jun

Back when I used to write for (the now, sadly, dormant) Style Lush, I did a couple of posts on Lululemon. Going into it, I was hoping to expose Lululemon as grossly over-priced and pretentious. Turns out, I ended up really loving the pieces that I got from there and vowed to forever abandon the cheapy workout wear of my past.

Lately though, I’ve been finding myself in need of more workout tops. What I was looking for, Lululemon wasn’t really delivering on. I just wanted something simple, comfortable and that didn’t touch me too much. Also, I was having trouble working up the nerve to drop more than $50 on one workout tank. So, this led be back into the arms of my old workout wear lover, Old Navy. I bought one of these:

Old Navy Semi-fitted Tank $10-$14.94

Old Navy Semi-fitted Tank $10-$14.94

It was immediately what I’d been looking for, so (while the Active sale was going on) I went back and scooped up one in every color. Now, don’t get me wrong, as far as workout bottoms go, I’m still devoted to Lululemon. I really think that you get what you pay for in that department, but if you’re looking for some non-fussy, flattering and comfortable workout tops, you might want to check these out.

Swimsuit Shopping

11 Jun

I’ve been deliberating what swimsuit to get for this year. (Let us not speak of the dozens of swimsuits that currently take up residence in a drawer in my dresser, from years gone by.) But for some reason, I feel like I NEEEEEED a new swimsuit every year. For the past half-dozen years, it really has been necessary to buy a new suit each year because my poor, dear body was tossed to and fro on the rough seas of pregnancy, childbirth and post-partum. This year, however, I probably could’ve gotten away with wearing the same suit(s) from last year, but that didn’t stop my eye from wandering across every catalog that came in the mail, scrutinizing the latest “slimming technologies” that have been discovered in the past year as well as enjoying the bright colors and prints trending this year.

Given that I now have a 6 year old and a 4 year old, when we go swimming, there’s precious little lounging-by-the-pool-sipping a drink and more flailing about, wrestling with pool noodles and having my suit tugged on constantly, I decided that I was ready to revisit the almighty “tankini” for this summer. I love the practicality of a two piece (hello, ease-of-bathroom breaks!) but am sick and tired of sucking it in when entering or exiting a pool in a bikini. When I saw this tankini in the Athleta catalog, I was intrigued:

Athleta Nosara Asana Tankini

Athleta Nosara Asana Tankini $69.00 (bottoms $44.00)

I ordered it and can’t say enough about how comfortable it is. It feels like a yoga top. You’ve got some nice, lightly-padded bra-structure up top, a comfortable blousey-like-action happening in the mid-section and the bottoms are comfortable and flattering as well. It’s a little pricey, yes (I should also note that I tried on this suit at Target and found it very flattering and cute on. I haven’t ruled out purchasing it too.) but sometimes you have to pay for structure and comfort.

How’s your swimsuit shopping going?

Recommendation: LL Bean shirts

1 May

My husband ran the Boston Marathon. He’s fast and we all were far from the finish line when the bombs went off, but we scrapped our plans to hang out downtown for the rest of the week and headed north. We ended up in Maine — Portland and Bar Harbor and Acadia Park, all of which were wonderful — and were not prepared for the chilly spring temperatures.

Let’s be honest. It wasn’t THAT cold. In the mid-40s most days. However, we’ve lived in Florida for going on nine years and our boys call jeans “long-sleeve pants,” so that’s cold enough for us to need better gear.

We made a stop at the L.L. Bean flagship store in Freeport, Maine. I don’t normally buy from LL Bean, but someone had recommended it as being worth a visit and we all needed hats. Seemed like a good idea. After prowling all three floors of clothing and finding several good deals, I was a convert.

Our wool hats are nice, not least because they were less than $10 from the sale rack. The boys love their new Teva hiking shoes and fleece hats. But the hands-down best things I bought were the French sailor’s shirt and the toggle cardigan. Here they are in action together on the way home.

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Both are 100 percent cotton. The cardigan is thick enough to be a coat in mild weather, but light enough to work as a layer. The shirt has three-quarter length sleeves and is long. It’s not bulky, but it doesn’t cling. Here it is in a work outfit.

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I feel like this is the perfect casual shirt. It’s nice enough that it can be dressed up, but super comfortable and washable. I’m hoping it doesn’t pill — only time will tell — but it seems too thick and sturdy to end up with the tiny little pinholes that usually plague my thinner T-shirts all too soon. I ended up spending enough at the Freeport store to earn a gift card, and I’m pretty sure it’s going toward another one of these shirts in a solid color.

Shorts!

24 Apr

Do you wear shorts?  I have some friends who hate them, regardless of how good they look in them.  I think they view them as childish, maybe?  Personally I love them, but they have to be just right.  Last summer I found some ones I really liked at the J Crew Factory store, similar to these:

J Crew

J Crew

There are some styles I think are really cute but I just can’t pull off due to my short legs.  Like these:

Loft

Loft

In my mind, shorts never really go in and out of style, with the exception of denim, which apparently is back the last few years.  I guess bermudas are more common again – I remember rocking some brightly colored, patterned bermudas in the late 80s.  It seems like, though, your basic khaki mid-thigh shorts are always around in some form.

What about you?  Do you loathe or love shorts?  Are there any fantastic ones out there I should know about this year?

How would you wear this shirt?

11 Apr

Last year I ordered a bunch of stuff from Eddie Bauer and decided to peruse the clearance section before checking out. I liked the look of this Cotton Lawn Tunic, but it wasn’t available in my size. They had the next size up and it was only $3, so I threw it in the cart. Since it’s one size too large and a flowy tunic, I knew I wouldn’t be able to wear it as-is but figured a belt might make it wearable. (My solution to everything is to add a belt.)

For reference, here is the shirt without a belt:

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Not very flattering. I usually wear it with a wide black stretchy belt, like so:

IMG_4529.sq

I’m not sure about the color, though. In person, especially, the black is too much. This shirt seems like it would go better with brown or another color in the “natural” family. It definitely needs a wide belt, though, and I don’t have any wide brown belts.

Do you have any suggestions for how I should wear this shirt? Does the black belt look OK? Should I accept the shirt just isn’t going to work and eat the three dollars?

Weekend Casual

2 Apr

Friday we spent the day out as a family. First stop was the mall which was actually my husbands idea. I was shocked. Often times I struggle with the casual look. I feel like I can pull off two looks; the dressed up for work look (read business casual) and the outdoors look (read fleece, jeans, Merrill’s, fitted tee, yoga pants). The casual looks make me uncomfortable…boots, skinny jeans, cardi, scarf….I don’t know why this is. I have no answers to my madness. I think it looks fantastic on others.

Anyway, I had recently picked up up two cute casual sweatshirts at Target & I decided to give them a go.

For the family outing on Friday I went with this:

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Like I said the shirt is from Target. I love it. Very flattering & comfortable. The jeans are from Gap (this year) & the shoes are from American Eagle circa 2010. I love those flats. I felt good in this out fit. Comfortable but stylish.

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Saturday morning we did an egg hunt with the kiddos & their cousins in our yard. I decided to go a bit more casual but this other sweatshirt I picked up from Target was perfect.

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I definitely sported my Merrill’s (my favorite shoes, to be honest) for this backyard event. And these are by far my favorite jeans from American Eagle (2012). My only wish is they were not so destructed but while I might not wear them out for anything important, I absolutely wear them a lot. I love them for the way they lay over my Merrill’s. Some jeans are just not the jeans to wear with athletic or hiking shoes but these are perfect. I’m very picky about how the bottom of my jeans rest on particular shoes (flats, hiking shoes).

Anyway, I love this sweatshirt. I especially love the length & how it fit.

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Let’s be honest though, I am ready to ditch these sweatshirts for warmer days. We are still quite chilly & frosty for Michigan this time of year. Come on, Spring!!

Athletic Wear Sales Round-Up

10 Jan

Like a lot of folks lately, one of my New Year to-dos is to work on a healthy lifestyle.  While I don’t want to buy TOO many clothes in hopes that I’ll shed a couple pounds, there’s something fun AND motivating about upgrading your current workout gear.  Stores are getting in on the resolution action by offering some incredible deals, like the ones I’ve scoped out for you below:

6pm.comThis site is GREAT for all sorts of brand name sales, so you might want to bookmark it and check back often.  (And don’t forget to use Ebates for your cash back!)  Currently, they’re featuring a North Face sales with super deals on all sorts of active wear.  I like the odor-preventing, moisture-wicking tops for around $20 like this one:

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SearsSears carries a line of workout wear called Everlast.  I’m not sure if this brand is exclusive to them since I think I’ve seen it at TJ Maxx before, but it’s an especially good alternative if you’re between sizes since the styles are currently on sale with most items under $15.  For instance, this fleece warm-up top is only $8!

spin_prod_747236012

Tanga: I’m not too familiar with this site, but they have an amazing deal today that I can’t pass up.  It seems like they’re a daily deal site (and have had some pretty good other products recently).  Today: yoga pants for only $8!

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Old NavyOld Navy’s activewear is currently 40% off and they have decent quality, fun colors and a GREAT selection (especially online).  I was in the store last night and found these great, thin tanks which are perfect for layering over a more substantial sports bra for activities like yoga ($12).

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If you’re embarking on a better-health resolution this year, good luck to you!  (And let me know if I’m missing out on any great sales!)

Sports Bras: Ease of Use

4 Oct

Whether you’re in a fitness maintenance phase or trying to lose a few pounds, active wear is (for the most part) something we put up with.  Spandex and neon and wicking fabric, oh my!  Fortunately for me, some of my favorite lower price retailers (ahem, Target) have caught on to the opportunity and started to create really great tech shirts, pants and shorts for fit-wanna-be lifestyles.  The one place where I’ve really struggled to find the right features: SPORTS BRAS.

Honestly, bras of any kind are NEVER a fun and easy purchase.  There are so many factors to consider, so many ways that fit can be off.  Plus (like running shoes), they are hard to try on in store.  Who knows if a bra has enough support when you’re running if you’re not… actually… running?  You can’t tell if the straps are too thick and will lead to chafing!  Will the color bleed all over me after a few minutes of light sweating? (That last one has happened to me- the hot pink dye lasted for DAYS.)

Still, I think you might agree with me about my Least Favorite Sports Bra Truth: the darn things are near impossible to get off after a workout.  I am willing to concede personal wimpiness here, but after a workout I like to keep my limbs in calm positions.  I just RAN seven miles so, no, I DON’T want to wrestle a super tight vice over exhausted arms.  DILEMMA.

Enter the single best sports bra innovation I have ever encountered: THE ZIP FRONT.

 

The style shown is here is actually one of my personal favorites: the Champion Zip Tech Sports Bra.  Zip front styles combine all the same features you’ll find in other sports bras (molded cups, wicking fabric, adjustment features, etc.) with that phenomenal zipper which doesn’t pinch and makes removal EASY and PAIN FREE.  Note: this particular style is REALLY easy to find at a super deal, so I’d price check before buying.  If you are unsure about sizing, the style is available in my local sporting goods chain (Sports Authority) so I was able to try on in-store, buy with a coupon for a great price and walk out knowing what size to later order online.  I would say this particular style is very comparable to S/M/L/XL sizing from other vendors, I was able to buy the same size I usually do.

Nike also makes a version which I’ve purchased both at Nordstrom and the Nike outlet, but it seems that the style is either hard to find or discontinued.  If you’re looking for other manufacturers, you can find options from Under Armour (note this feature is only available for D or DD cups in this style), Moving Comfort (available for DD sizes) and Athleta (standard band/cup sizes from B to DD).

Several brands also now offer sports bras with standard back exits (just like an everyday bra), but I haven’t found an option that I personally felt offered enough support.  I think the feature would work similarly for easy removal, however.

Here’s hoping you never again struggle with the pain of post-workout limp noodle arms and overzealous spandex.  (Also- any favorite workout wear tips you can pass our way?  I know awesome products add joy to my sometimes difficult workouts.)

 

Breaking out of the Mom Uniform rut

7 Sep

Shalini at Reading and Chickens asked if we could help her break out of a style rut. She said she has nice dress-up, work clothes, but no “at home mom clothes” she likes. She ends up in her running clothes all day.

“Also, I suck at jewelry,” she said. (Well, technically, tweeted, but you get the point.)

Here is Shalini:

With her permission, I snagged this from the style section of her blog. I loved this outfit when she first posted it, and I think it illustrates why I was surprised Shalini felt she needed to get out of a rut in the first place. Look how put together she looks! Admittedly, I am a sucker for stripes, puffy skirts, tights, cardigans and cute flats, so basically this outfit is a collection of my favorite things, HOWEVER, there is no denying the cuteness of this outfit.

Still, it is a universal truth: We all fall into style ruts. We all have days we hate every piece of clothing we own.

So, my first bit of advice is to stop dividing up your closet into “work” and “at home” clothes. Unless you’re wearing suits or a specialized uniform everyday, chances are pretty good your work clothes will do just fine chasing kids — just maybe switch out heels for flats, you know. If nothing else, you’re giving yourself more options by losing the closet divisions.

Secondly, repeat after me: It’s not being vain, it’s called self-esteem. My hairstylist sister said this in my last post, about the importance of a decent haircut, but it’s true in general. You deserve to wear your cutest clothes, no matter what it is you’re doing. I think Elizabeth at Princess Nebraska has done a great job illustrating this point with her What I Wore posts on Fridays. You think you’re overdressed, but some other mom is going to be looking at you wistfully thinking, “How cute is she?”

Anyway, enough philosophizing. What Shalini wanted were some suggestions.

These bootcut jeans from Madewell are pricey, but might be worth a splurge if they’re flattering and comfortable. (I like the look of the whole outfit on this headless model. Red shoes make any day better.) In the interest of full disclosure and the spirit of camaraderie, I’ll admit I, too, need to suck it up and spend some time trying on jeans to find a pair that doesn’t make me cringe when I see my butt in the mirror.

Moving on, this shirt from Anthropologie struck me as looking like you, Shalini, but I could have linked to half a dozen others from Anthro’s new arrivals page. (That link is to them all.) Wait until they go on sale or check out some place a little cheaper (Ruche is good. Boden has lots of cute things on clearance right now.)

Retro spot shirt, Boden

My point here is to find shirts that are fancier than a T-shirt, but not so fussy that you can’t wear them everyday. These shirts with those Madewell jeans and a pair of boots or flats would be an easy and cute outfit for any mom-type activity. Add a cardigan or blazer or a scarf for colder weather.

I also could see those shirts with a poofy skirt and a wide belt. Or maybe this skirt from Boden:

I like the inverted pleat.

And because you suck at jewelry, let me suggest prints.

 

From Gap. I like the ruffle detail.

The busier the print, the less you need jewelry. Maybe a chunky bangle (Target clearance racks) and/or a simple necklace. Etsy has a million; this is the first one that caught my eye. It’s from JulianaWJewelry. And not to be all obnoxious and hipstery, but check out thrift stores for costume jewelry. I’ve found some very cool and cheap bangles and pins for next to nothing at antique/junk shops.

Finally, you asked about comfortable flats. My very favorite shoes right now are these Kenneth Cole Reaction flats. I have them in leopard, but here’s an ikat version. I wear mine with everything and everywhere. (And for the record, I love those brown ankle boots you sported in many of your style posts. LOVE.)

 

A couple summary thoughts:

1. Don’t be afraid of prints. If nothing else, they make jewelry less necessary.

2. Find clothes you love and then wear them, whatever you’re doing.

Tell us, what are your favorite pieces for everyday wear? 

My Favorite Accessory: ModCloth Through the Wire Headbands

30 Aug

I have fine, straight hair that pretty much refuses to do anything. It won’t stay in an updo without several packages of bobby pins and headbands rarely stay put. I’m also accessory challenged and have a terrible time choosing accents (which I why I own only three necklaces).

Several months ago, I received a ModCloth Through the Wire headband in my Birchbox and fell in love. I love the retro fifties-style look and since it stays in place via a wire instead of using elastic or being headache-inducing tight it’s the first headband I can keep on my head. I’ve noticed there aren’t usually many options on ModCloth’s website – right now there are two: the red polka dot I have and a flowered one called bouquet – but I’ve had good luck finding them on eBay.

At $13.99 or less, it’s an accessory I can stock up on and – bonus – my one-year-old son can’t grab and break it like he does necklaces. I also like coming up with new ways to style it.

Demure

Wrapped (sorry about the towel)

Full-on housewife

Check out modcoth.com for a few more styling suggestions (and let me know if you figure out how to do the fancy bow thing in the listing).