Tag Archives: Fashion

“How To Dress”: 10 Essential Clothing Items, Plus Size Edition


I got a few emails and tweets asking me for clarification on what are essential clothing items for plus-sized gals. Great point.

What is plus-sized? There is some controversy about this, with a few groups claiming that size 8 and above is plus-sized. But the industry standard seems to be size 14 and above in the US, size 16 and above in the UK. So, I’ll go with that.

I would say that most of my list (in the last post) applies to plus sizes. One of the chicest women I know is a size 20 and she lives in a wardrobe of beautiful white shirts and black skirts.

The White Button-Down Shirt

I’d argue that the white button-down is an essential.

Here are a few stylish plus-size ladies you might know, wearing this classic item.

The lovely Ina Garten.


I LOVE LOVE LOVE this photo so much. Model Tara Lynn wears a take on the classic white button-down (via an Hermes jumpsuit: so fab) and absolutely KILLS it. From Elle France.


So, here’s some tips on how to wear a button down.

Because plus sizes can be funky with fit, I would recommend you purchase your shirt to fit the widest part of you (bust, shoulders, whatever that area might be) and tailor it to fit the smallest areas, like your waist. To go for a more figure hugging look, you can belt it or buy a peplum style. Or you can go for a more loose fit, like Ina. To make a loose shirt really elegant, you could buy a model with French cuffs and buy cufflinks.

Here’s a good choice:

Classic, 3/4 length sleeves from Lane Bryant. See the darts coming inward? That makes for a figure-flattering look.


Other places to look: LL Bean, Brooks Brothers.

The Black Dress

There are tons of cute LBDs in plus sizes. First, here’s a famous actress looking amazing in a little black dress so I can convince you all.

Rebel Wilson, looking fantastic.


I think I have mentioned ModCloth before. Of all of the online retailers out there, they may be the most awesome when it comes to plus-sizes. According to Refinery 29, almost all of their dresses now come in sizes 14 and above. They have a very extensive selection of LBDs. To wit:

This pretty number. The ruching is cool and I love the sleeves. And it reminds me of Rebel’s dress.


Great Jeans


Yep, there are super cute plus-sized jeans out there. I would again recommend you alter a pair you love. Remember: no pair of jeans will fit anyone perfectly, except the fit model they were created for. So don’t be afraid to take in the waist, or hem the bottoms.

Not My Daughter’s Jeans (sorry for the cringe-y name) gets top marks from lots of plus-sized fashionistas. You can find them online at Modcloth.

A Beautiful Coat

Again, I’d argue that a beautiful coat is a plus-size essential. The only caution I’d give? Beware of super bulky versions and look out for extra-heavy linings. Here’s a really cute one:

From H & M. Classic double breasted style, gorgeous color.


The one essential I would say skip is the pencil skirt. But, an A-line skirt in black would be a great alternative.

Finally? Can I just note that my research turned up the following: plus-sized models Candice Huffine and Tara Lynn are possibly two of the most gorgeous women on this earth. They should be working a LOT more.



PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE chime in if you are plus-sized. Do you agree? Any tips? Disagree? What brands do you like?


Filed under personal style

“How To Dress”: 10 Essential Clothing Items All Women Should Own


I have been such a slacker on my book, “Project Dreamcatcher” and the “How To Dress” series. I am so sorry, you guys! My computer had to be reloaded from scratch with all of our data and photos and movies (thank the LORD we backed everything up) because of the Hard Drive Fiasco of 2013 and that took ages – all last week.

(And the reloading isn’t done yet, but at least now I can work on my Mac while the reloading occurs. Although weird things like right clicking don’t work. And Internet access is really iffy (because of the backing up) and WordPress keeps shutting down. Best intentions, excuse flapjacks, blah, yadda. Basically, I’m a YUTZ. BTW, can we bring back that word? I love it so.)

Kathy had some really useful questions for the “How to Dress” feature. I wanted to tackle her meatiest query, because I think it’s a great place for any woman to start when she’s building (or rebuilding) her wardrobe. And that question is:

What are the 5-10 essential clothing items all women should own?

Obviously, seasons, locations and dress codes will vary from country to country. (And even state to state, in the US.)

Here are my picks.

1. A Great Coat

I see a fantastic coat as an investment piece. Even if you wear a coat a few times a year or only when you travel somewhere cold, YOU WILL NEED A COAT IN YOUR LIFE. Obviously, for those in snowy areas, this is an easy investment to make as you will wear one every day in some months, and probably own quite a few in your lifetime.

Here are some classic styles that aren’t going anywhere any time soon.



I bought one of these many years ago before moving to London. I wore it so often I’ve replaced the lining. This model, by Max Mara, doesn’t add bulk because it’s lambs wool. It’s handsome and won’t be going out of style, well, pretty much ever.



Originally worn by sailors and Navy personnel, the Pea Coat is a durable and versatile garment that is ideal for fall or spring, when the temperature is chilly, but not arctic. There are many different lengths and colors that you can chose, depending on body type and your style. I always choose ones that end mid-thigh to balance my hips and emphasize my long legs. Ones cropped at the waist or just ending at the thigh would be great for apple shapes or petites. The above model is by Lands End.



The Classic, the Ultimate in rain gear. I’ve always wanted a Burberry, like the one above, but I’ve never had the scratch. I love London Fog as an alternative brand. My dad has a London Fog trenchcoat and a Burberry umbrella. He looks so dapper when it rains!

A note on coats: coats are one of the best items you can buy vintage. Check out estate sales, in particular. The 1940s-early 1960s were a time when many women owned beautifully made coats with the kind of craftmanship we don’t see today except with very pricey brands. At estate sales, you can pick up gorgeous Princess Coats (also A GREAT COAT) in the $30 range sometimes. Also? Check out your grandma or (if you are lucky) great-grandma’s closet.

2. An Excellent Pair of Jeans


Is there a more obsessed-about item of clothing? I think not. We all think about how we look in jeans, we all shop for jeans, we all wonder what to wear with jeans and how to pair jeans on Casual Friday. The list goes on and on and on.

Obviously, there is a huge variation in styles of jeans: skinny jeans, flared jeans, high-rise jeans and overalls (two trends from the 90s, back again). There’s all sorts of denim washes and jeans with holes are back, too.

A superior pair of jeans should fit well, make you feel good, and be versatile, taking you from Casual Friday to Date Night. I think we ALL have many pairs of jeans, but a truly fabulous pair of jeans? That is a truly special item. Here’s what I recommend to find your pair:

Try on a variety of jeans. See which style and brand fits the best for you, whether it’s Skinny, Curvy, Diva, etc. I would argue that a dark rinse denim is best for most situations. (A light denim rinse is pretty casual.) Next: have your jeans tailored for you. Yes, tailored. Take them in at the the waist if they’re too big there but fit everywhere else (common), hem the bottoms if they are too long.

Note about length! My SPECIAL pair of jeans? I exclusively wear them with heels. (Heeled half-boots or wedges or stilettos.) They are longer than any of my other jeans, which I wear with sneakers, moccassins or flats.

If you are petite and or/have slim hips: J. Crew and Rag & Bone should work well for you. Those with curves? Old Navy is the best for pears, I’ve found. Joe’s Jeans is good, too, for all around curves. Hourglasses: you lucky dogs will do well with 7 for All Mankind, classic Levi’s (like the ones above).

3. Little Black Dress


Yes, that old cliche.

Here’s the thing: we all go to special events. Cocktail parties, weddings, baptisms, Bar Mitvahs, etc. Who wants to deal with the cost and effort of buying a new dress each time? Not me.

Here’s where my little Black dress comes in. Mine is a Bebe number from a while back, before they went full Kardashian. (Ew.) It’s A-line, knee-length, with a halter top. I probably tried on 40 dresses before finding this one. I can pair it with statement jewelry, nude Prada basket heels, a hat, a delicate clutch, belt it: the list is endless with possibilities. I can wear it in the summer with pink sandals, I can wear it in the winter with a coat. It is one seriously freaking versatile item.

Things to keep in mind when shopping for a LBD: it should be made of the best fabric you can afford, it should be lined, and it should make you feel like Holly Golightly. Without the trips to the powder room, of course.

Above, Anthropologie.

4. A Crisp, Clean Button-Down White Shirt


This one is tricky. I know a lot of us who have any kind of cleavage dread button down shirts. And rightly so. However, a great white button-down is one of those classic items that can be paired in so many ways.

For example, a white button-down with jeans and a great blazer? Such a simple but stunning look. A white button-down with a black pencil skirt and a jean jacket? So Chic. A white button-down can be a truly magical garment.

I have yet to find a new one, because since I had the twins? I went from a B to a D even though my weight stayed the same, so everything else fits right. But this is my goal for fall.

Here’s where sizing gets TRICKY. There’s nothing worse than gaping buttons around the bust. Am I right? You CAN avoid this: buy bigger and get the shirt tailored and brought in at the waist (again with the tailoring!) or, you can wear the white shirt open, layered over a tank top or camisole. This would look gorgeous with layered pearls or sweet, funky gold necklaces. I used to also wear dresses OVER mine, like the picture of Miroslava Duma, above.

You can go with a classic purveyor like Brooks Brothers, or the Gap or even Talbots. (They did a makeover recently and they aren’t just for your bridge-playing grandma any more.)

5. The Pencil Skirt

Jcrew pencil skirt

I made mention of this piece of clothing already. I never, ever thought a pear shape like me would look good in a pencil skirt. BUT, with the right cut and fit, I honestly think anyone can find the right one. I did. AGAIN with the versatility: it’s a beautiful item you can pair endlessly with your wardrobe. Wear with a funky Anthro or Boden top. Dress it down with a jean jacket and cute T-shirt.

I actually have two of these: one is black, one is tan. I wear them both a lot. I had them both tailored at the waist because I bought them to fit my hips.

Above: J. Crew

So, that’s Part One! What do you think? Do you agree (so far?) Do you hate any of these? Love them? Any tips for buying these items? What am I missing?


Filed under personal style

How to Dress: Funky and Hip For Work

I’m having a great time tracking down answers for all of your requests! Here’s a good one from Rachael, that I think will resonate with a lot of you.

Here’s my request. I tend to be fairly casual and would live in jeans and t-shirts if I could. In fact, I work at a university where jeans are okay as long as they’re paired with something funky and hip because that’s the prevailing aesthetic. My problem is that I cannot figure out how to be funky and hip. I sometimes *think* I’m putting together a cute and fairly hip outfit, but I get to work and look like I walked out of a Lands End catalog. I guess what I’m really asking is how I can avoid looking so conservative without looking ridiculous. What is funky and hip and where do I get it? I see women in the hallways at work looking adorable, but I can’t figure out where they get these cute things. I must be shopping in the wrong stores. Maybe that’s really my request: what stores/catalogs/online shops might be the best for a funky and hip, but casual, aesthetic? I’ve tried Boden, but it looks too little-girlish on me and the sizing is often not right for my body (I’m a 14/16). Other suggestions?


This is a great question for a few reasons. First: The workplace has certainly seen a dramatic upheaval in the level of casualness now appropriate. But in certain professions and cultures (eg: media, academia and creative professions in general) I think fashion is playing a more important role than ever. Also: I think in some ways professionals are using their wardrobes to communicate authenticity and uniqueness in a way we haven’t seen since the late 60s.


Before we even get to clothing, adding a quirky flair can start with accessories. Do you wear glasses? If you do, there are so many options and fun frames that will update your look on an everyday basis. If you want to go for a Zooey Deschanel hipster style, there are a ton of frames to choose from.


Including these cute frames, which were designed by Zooey herself for Oliver Peoples.


Or you can go for this hip retro cat-eyed look from Kate Spade:


There are literally thousands of frames to choose from. The best thing to do would be visit your optometrist. They usually are experts at finding a pair of glasses that matches the style (retro, hip, funky) you like to the best color and frame for your face shape. For example, my eyes are a bit close-set, so my optometrist picks out frames that make my eyes look farther apart.

Next: Jewelry. A great necklace can perk up the most conservative outfit and make you look updated and fresh. When I was in Austin a few weeks ago, I noticed a few things. 1. It was incredibly funky and fun, and I’ve never seen more vintage stores. 2. I saw a lot of the following jewelry: delicate gold-tone necklaces with an edge and/or chunky natural stones.

Like this delicate horseshoe necklace from Alexis Bittar.


Or this necklace, by Kelly Wearstler.


Or this cuff, by Dannijo.


TJ. Maxx, Ross and Marshall are jam-packed with necklaces and bracelets like this right now if you are on a budget.

A bold, fun necklace or bracelet will punch up a plain black V-neck shirt and a pair of jeans like you would not believe.

Other accessories worth considering: scarves and handbags.


Let’s move on to clothing brands. Boden can be really, really cute and funky (and I find it is a favorite of academics, which is interesting) but the sizes can be weird and you’re right: it’s not for everyone. There are a few other chains that might be of interest.

I love Anthropologie. My friend is a size 14 and she does very well there, but you’ll definitely want to try the clothing on as everyone’s proportions are different. What I like about Anthopologie is the clothing looks unique and it definitely has a retro, quirky vibe. It can be pricey but look for sales. AND TRY CLOTHES ON that might not be in your comfort zone. I bought two jumpsuits there recently and I thought I would NEVER wear a jumpsuit, like, ever.


Bird Sweater, Anthropologie


Tunic, Anthopologie

Also, Modcloth may be of interest. They have really cute clothes, mostly dresses, in that funky, hip style you may be interested in. Online only, but you can return clothes easily for another size if you need to.

I LOVE this dress. It would be super cute and work appropriate with a cropped jean jacket or a cardigan.


Other brands to check out: Zara and H & M.

Finally, there are a number of fashion bloggers out there who cover what to wear in Academia. Here is a list of a bunch of them. Academichic was really wonderful, but they stopped blogging in 2011. However, it’s still worth a look.


Filed under personal style

How to Dress, Scarf Edition: The European Knot



I love this Little Women Scarf, from Etsy

Thanks everyone for all of the awesome feedback and requests! I’m so excited about answering your questions.

The most popular request by far was: how to tie a scarf. Or, in the words of Miss Ohkay:

“Not in season now, but I can’t figure out scarves. They look bunchy and stupid when I put them on but I like them on others.”

There are many different ways to tie scarves. There are lots of tutorials too, but I find they are unnecessarily complicated. I mean, we don’t need advanced sailing knot lessons to learn how to tie a scarf. AMIRITE?!

The knot I use the most is one I was taught by a French friend. She is one of those effortlessly chic women you always read about. She always wore this particular knot with a scarf under her long winter coat, but I also use it to knot my scarf on a plane to keep warm. She never told me the name of it, so I am going to call it “The European Knot.”

The European Knot looks best with a long scarf. I use either pashminas (Remember those?! I still like mine! I have one in turquoise, black and fuschia.) or two long scarves I have, one a Missoni-esque Pareo from Target (similar here) and the other a Chevron scarf from J. Crew (similar here)

So, let’s begin!

Step 1

Step 1 is easy. Drape the scarf over your shoulders but in front of your neck. Both sides behind your shoulders should be even.

Step 2

Step 2: The back parts of the scarf that are behind you? Cross them in the back around your neck and bring them around so they are in the front. They should still be even.


Step 3: Cross the two ends of the scarf.


Step 4: Tuck one end of the scarf over the part where the scarf crosses.


Step 5: (OPTIONAL) Tie the remaining bit of scarf in a knot.

Voila! The European Knot.

What it looks like:


Under a coat:


Uses: keeps your neck warm in cold weather. MIGHT prevent you from getting sick on a plane. Adds interest and color when the weather is cold…

I hope this is helpful! PS: The best way to avoid a super bunchy look is to use a scarf made out of silk, rayon or cotton. Any questions?

UPDATED!! I added this video for much more clear instructions, I hope! 🙂


Filed under personal style

“How to Dress”: Choose Your Own Adventure!

So, remember when I told you that you have your very own fashionista, dwelling inside of you?

Think about your favorite movie, ever. Think about your favorite heroine in that movie, ever. It’s easy for me to identify mine. It’s Marion Ravenwood, from “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Is there anyone more badass, more determined to save herself, than Marion? Marion Ravenwood is left in the camp at Tanis by Indiana Jones. What does she decide to do? Rescue herself, using some super cute heels and a beautiful dress. And, a knife and a super serious alcohol tolerance. (Not saying that’s an awesome skill.) But, who didn’t want to be Marion Ravenwood, after spotting her badass in “Raiders?”

Yes, the Harrison Ford in this movie is pretty much the hottest male specimen, like, ever. Right? But, he chooses to hang out with Marion. And why?

Did anyone deserve him more than Marion Ravenwood? Who fought for her own freedom, after Indy said he had to abandon her? Who else could outdrink a whole Nepal population? Who else could survive thousands of snakes? No one. Except Marion Ravenwood.

Anyway, if you are looking for a fashion inspiration: trust me, you have one.

Are you Trinity in “The Matrix”? ? The “Mother of Dragons”? Marion Ravenwood? Are you Uma Thurman, in “Kill Bill?” Are you Winona Ryder, in “Heathers”? Rachel McAdams in “The Notebook?”

You are SOMEONE.


Filed under personal style

How to Dress: Now Taking Requests!


The series “How to Dress” has kind of taken on a life of its own, which makes me really, really happy. “How to Dress” started as a way to answer reader questions about fashion and my closet reorganizations.

Why the interest in fashion, you might be asking? Well, I was pretty down after my experiences with infertility and miscarriage and tried a number of things to get happy, including spending a year trying to live joyfully. Nothing really took, until I started re-engaging with a previous love of fashion. I cleaned out my closet, started planning outfits and began following fashion blogs like The Sartorialist, Garance Dore and Man Repeller.

To my amazement, these efforts started to pay off. When I looked cute and put together, I FELT good. And that small step parlayed into dividends. I think there’s an idea out there that once you’ve had children or move out of your twenties, you shouldn’t worry about how you dress any more. You can just wear a work “uniform” you don’t think much about. As a SAHM, I had resigned myself to a permanent uniform of yoga pants and exercise clothes. (Not only were these clothes drab, they also weren’t very flattering. I felt how I looked: frumpy and gray.)

Here’s the thing: we get dressed every day. We wear clothes every day. Why not wear clothes that make us happy?

Fashion can be perplexing and sometimes it seems like you have to be thin and perfect to wear great clothes. Which is totally untrue. There is a unique style out there for EVERYONE that will make you feel good. Yes, there are basic lessons (which I try to teach here) but fashion should be fun and a way to release your creativity and sense of self. Whether your inner fashionista is a 90s soul wearing Docs and punk rock T-shirts, a later day Audrey Hepburn with elegant capris and trenchcoats, a romantic drawn to lace and florals or a Sophie Loren bombshell favoring curve-hugging styles, you have one. Everyone does!

So I am taking requests for my “How to Dress” workshops. Here’s what I have so far:

From Palm Tree Mama:

“I could use some fashion advice for a sporty chic look this summer!” 🙂

From Miss OhKay (and seconded by Mandski):

“Not in season now, but I can’t figure out scarves. They look bunchy and stupid when I put them on but I like them on others.”

From MomPharmD:

“1. Work postpartum and 2. working in wide temps in a white coat please.”

What questions do you have for “How to Dress?”


Filed under personal style

How to Dress: Four Steps to Being Plane-Ready!

I’ve flown a ton in the last few months. Weddings, graduations, a work trip and a vacation. Some flights were international, some were in the US only.

Here’s the thing: I HATE flying. I do. I’m afraid to fly. The only thing I ever wanted to be on a plane was comfortable. Or so I thought, until I got puked on and had to wear that same outfit to a business meeting because the airline lost my luggage. It made me seriously reconsider my plane uniform of sweats.

Planes are cold, usually. Sometimes, the weather can vary dramatically from departure to arrival, like if you fly into a stopover where there’s snow, then land somewhere that’s 80 degrees and sunny. So, you need to be prepared for a variety of temperatures.

I finally realized that I should wear something that is flexible and could be a cute outfit in a variety of ways if I get stuck somewhere or my luggage does. Or I get puked on.

Here’s the other thing: If I felt cute and put together, I felt more confident on the plane. Less scared to fly, even. I’m not really sure why that is.

So here’s my 4 step style plan for dressing for a plane ride.

1. Wearing Lightweight Layers is the Key

I like lightweight layers for a few reasons: if you are going somewhere hot, you can easily pack them away in your carry-on once you are at your destination and no one will be the wiser.

I usually wear some kind of tank top or tank dress to layer over my leggings. The only pants I will wear on a flight. (See Step Two.) Then I wear a cardigan or sweater of some kind. This is where I try to bring in some kind of luxury: I’ll wear a comfy cashmere hoodie or a really soft jersey wrap.



James Pearce




2. Don’t Wear Jeans!

Here’s what I found does NOT work for me: jeans. Here’s why: I have to wear a belt with jeans because I don’t want to show my underwear in the back as I lift and lug my luggage around, take off my shoes at security, etc. A woman in front of us on our trip to New Orleans bent over as she put her carry-on luggage on the conveyor, and showed everyone her hindquarters. It was noticed, believe me, by everyone behind me. Wear a thong, I hear you saying. I don’t want to wear a thong on a long flight. Yikes. Here’s why I don’t want to wear jeans AND a belt. My usually normal stomach? Something happens to it in the air. I get super bloated. (Sexy, right?) So the waistband and the jeans create an uncomfortable situation.

I like to wear leggings on a flight and here is why. They are comfortable. They stretch if you get bloated on a flight. They can look like tights. They don’t show off your bum if you have to pick something up. I like to wear them with a long sweater or a dress. Also: JEGGINGS! I know leggings and jeggings are NOT PANTS, but, you know what? They are perfect for flying.



Victoria’s Secret

(I think all leggings are pretty equal, and you don’t need to pay more than $35 for a pair.)

3. Wear Comfortable, Warm Shoes or Boots

I also tend to get really cold feet during a flight. So flats or sandals are a no-no. I brought socks for a while and changed into them, but my shoes just took up valuable real estate under the seat. Boots: I tried wearing some cute, tight, fashionable ones. They nearly constricted my legs, and I was worried about DVT. So, I wear UGGS. I know. People HATE them, especially fashionable people. But for me, there is no more comfortable shoe for a flight. They aren’t tight on the leg, they don’t have a heel, they can easily be pulled on and off during security stops. They are WARM. Love. Them. I bring a pair of ballet flats in my carry-on to change into once I get where I am going, unless it’s cold.


4. Scarves are the Best

Now, the most crucial part: a huge scarf. A scarf does a lot of things. There is some research that your chance of getting a respiratory infection when you wear a scarf around your throat and chest is reduced. Also: It keeps you warm in that overly chilled plane air. It can provide a variety of functions: you can use it as a blanket, you can use it as a hood if your head is really cold. Plus, it can liven up your outfit with color or pattern or both.







Here’s how I go from the plane:


Sweater, James Pearce. Tank Dress, Old Navy. Scarf, Target. Leggings: Uniqlo. Boots: UGGS.

To a hot destination!


Dress and flats, Old Navy.

What clothes work for you when you travel? Do you agree with me about my jeans rule (I have a feeling that will be controversial)?


Filed under personal style, Uncategorized