Eggings…Your Winter Wardrobe’s Secret Weapon

The sun finally showed up outside, but it decided to slap us with weather in the teens in the morning hours.

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image via abclocal.go.com

So when no one wants to leave the house, let alone the bed, it becomes time to arm yourself with some serious winter gear.My absolute favorite, favorite, favorite are these exercise leggings, which I am going to annoyingly re-name Eggings, from Target.

C9 by Champion® Women's Compression Tight - Assorted Colors

Let me be perfectly clear that I am not a runner.  I have nothing against runners but I am weak and I am lazy.  I did read the reviews on the Target website for these pants and some runners said the waistband seemed a little big and that it was falling down when they were running. In my opinion maybe they ran themselves skinny and now the pants are big. I’m just saying. I am not endorsing these for any marathons, just for comfy and warm pants.

I do try to drag myself onto my treadmill for some vigorous high incline walking (don’t laugh) or predawn yoga (not on the treadmill of course, although that would be interesting). These pants at least get me half way there to pull myself out of bed and into something warm. If I get these on there is a good chance I am more inclined to continue with the sneakers and the rest of the outfit, or at least be ready to at any point in the day.

As I mentioned they are fleece lined so they are so warm. If you are at all menopausal you will hate them and think you are being tortured. But at least the Moisture Wicking, Duo Dry®, Stretch (per the Target description) will keep you from sweating in them.

They are long, so they don’t do that ugly thing were they start to sag and creep up the ankle. If I have on sneakers there is no cold gap at the ankle. Picky, I know, but we all know that annoying feeling.

The fabric is thick because of the lining so it hides any lumps and bumps. And it never gets pulls. The black stays dark black. No fading. Just enough shine, but not too much where I look like an 80’s breakdancer.

Easy care – throw in the washer, tumble dry low or hang to dry.

And did I mention they are $24.99???????

The waistband is clean and simple. No funny ties, fold over bands, fussy zippers. Just a clean line that doesn’t create a total muffin top. Sizes go from XS to XL. To be honest I have them in 2 sizes. One is for when I have been good about the early morning exercising, and the other for situations like I encountered this past weekend. The girl scouts were set up selling their cookies right in front of the wine store. Do you know what it feels like to say no to a girl scout? It feels about as good as beating up on a kitten. So of course you buy the cookies. Well played girl scouts, well-played.

image via fitbomb.com

But the very, very best part is the fact that Eggings convert into the best pair of black skinny pants. I love getting dressed in a great outfit. These are my foundation.  I put them on with my skiing socks, (yeah I don’t ski either but it’s the warmest kind of socks) and everything from biker boots to riding boots.  Put with almost any top and donezo. Outfit is complete. The boots cover up the little Champion insignia on the ankle so no one knows they are exercise leggings. Unless, of course,  I tell them, which I guess I just did right here.  If you travel they are a necessity because they can perform double-duty. They look just as good dressed up with my over the knee snake-skin boots and a cashmere sweater,  to dressed down with an oversize denim shirt with Frye boots.

Sweaters + leggings. Winter layering.

I think they always look good and more importantly feel good. As long as my top is of the tunic/oversize length I am not showing the world what the girl scout cookies did to my backside. I am already dressed for the morning but if I later become struck by the motivation to exercise, I  can simply swap the top for a t-shirt, and the boots for sneakers, and I am all set.

*INSIDER TIP – Are you long in the torso and struggling to find a long enough top? Try layering a tunic style long tank under your top. Look for the ones that almost look a tank mini dress and aren’t super clingy.  They cover your bum and any potential too tight in the crotch issues.  Pick black if you want to minimize your hips, or a lighter color to highlight your hips if they are narrow but your waistline is not. It is okay if the shirt on top of the tunic tank is shorter, it will all balance out, just make sure your top over the tank is looser (think flowy) or boxy (think chunky sweater).  If its super cold I will add  a button down over the tank, under the sweater (as in the pic at the bottom). In the end it is always about proportion and balance.

*INSIDER TIP – Can’t find these at your local Target? They are available online.  Here’s the link.

Thanks!

Suzie

Shopping like a boss

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image via pinterest

Holiday shopping requires a different kind of finesse to navigate the sea of stores, sales and crowds. This is where the women are separated from the wimps, the pros from the amateurs,  it’s the big time. You need to have a plan. Get in, get it and get out.

image via m.simon.com

Here are some techniques to help save you some time and patience.

Shop at off hours. Most stores have crazy extended hours. Most people use those hours the day before Christmas. Use them now. Walking around Target at 9:30 at night with a piping hot Starbucks all by yourself is dare I say relaxing. Walking around Target at 9:30 in the morning on a Saturday with a cup of Starbucks you waited in a 30 minute line for is dare I say dangerous to your mental health. And go in your pajamas if your more comfortable. No one cares, it’s late and we are all tired.

Maybe you’ll run into Ryan Gosling while he’s wearing his pajamas and you two will have something to talk about.
Image via styleite.com

Shop with the invisible baby – or two. Take your jumbo stroller (the travel system works nicely) or even a double umbrella will do the trick and turn it into your own personal assistant. It will hold your bags, your coffee, your jacket, your phone. All the essentials. It will clear through crowds like a tank. Don’t have one? Borrow one from a friend. They won’t think it is weird if you explain it. I know it is annoying when your kids are little and you are lugging that dirty crumb collector everywhere but there will come a time when your kids are older and you miss that extra helping hand to store all your stuff.

Look, Gwen Stefani even makes pushing a stroller look cool.
image via Just Jared

Will you get weird looks? You betcha. Especially older people. They love to stop and make a comment like “Looks like you’re missing your baby!” Since it is sometimes hard to tell if they are joking or not you can politely explain that this is your shopping cart or for added fun you can act shocked and start to frantically shout “Kevin! Kevin! Where are you!”

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image via pinterest

Wear layers.Even if the weather outside is frightful the inside of crowded malls is usually warm. Wear basics and layers to make it easy to try on clothes (you know you will still be doing a little shopping for yourself). Pick shoes or boots that slip on and off and are comfortable.  Don’t bring in a bulky jacket that you have to carry around, instead opt for a cozy heavier cardigan or sweater.  Use a crossbody or messenger bag to keep your hands free. You can wear a scarf to keep warm and if sale and crowd pushing  makes you work up a sweat just tie it to the strap of your messenger bag.   (all images below via pinterest)

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I personally avoid the malls as much as I can. I prefer smaller stores. The staff is knowledgeable and the customer service is excellent, it has to be these days to compete with online pricing. My neighbor and friend owns a toy store called Wackadoodles which is every bit as fun as it sounds. She has saved me in many situations where I have simply called ahead, told her the age of the birthday boy or girl, price range etc and she will have it wrapped and ready to go. I have pulled up my car curbside so I can simply grab and go. I have even paid over the phone to save time.

image via http://www.WackadoodlesToyShop.com

*INSIDER TIP –  If you need help ask. Some stores, especially smaller specialized boutiques, have very knowledgeable sales staff. They can make recommendations quickly based on your price range. And if you don’t see what you need out on the floor they may be able to special order it or check their back stock. Sometimes the stores get so busy and do not get a chance to restock the merchandise. And be nice to the sales people. They go through some serious hell this time of year. If you are the least bit nice to them they will be really nice to you.

 *INSIDER TIP –  Find out what the return policy is. This is so important. Keep your receipts together in a special place and mark the return date in highlighter. If Aunt Marge tells you she is a small but turns out the small won’t fit over her head you want to be able to return or exchange it. Most stores have different exceptions to their usual policies, with varying extended dates.

*INSIDER TIP – Still stuck on the perfect gift? Give the gift of a clean closet. I have done many closets where I was hired via a gift certificate. Not in a your-style-is-awful-so-here’s-a-makeover-way but in a I-know-you-are-sick-of-your-closet kind of way. I can send the gift certificate all boxed up and pretty directly to you or the recipient. You can purchase a one hour mini/starter session for $75.00. It sounds counterintuitive but when you have less stuff you wear more of it. It actually saves you money from going out and buying more stuff. Plus many clients get a decent amount back after we consign some of their items. You could end up making money!

So grab a latte and get going! I wish you Godspeed in your shopping.  BRING IT.

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image via Not Another Teen Movie

Holiday Hell

image via library.austintexas.gov

That’s right. I said it.  I tried for a better, nicer title, I really did. But this one has been stuck in my head for about 2 weeks. I don’t mean to be all Grinch-like about this time of year but I haven’t run into one woman that doesn’t feel this way.  We all keep giving each other that quick nod of the head when we are out and about saying things like “Are you ready?” Since when did Christmas start to feel like Armageddon?

image via zazenlife.com

Oh and it is only the beginning of December. We want to be full of joy and the giving spirit but I just want to give myself a time-out.

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You know that saying about “Don’t sweat the small stuff?” The problem is when I find myself getting completely annoyed about exactly those small stuff things.

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I feel we are all dealing with it in one of two ways…

Excessive Eating…

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image via pinterest

and/or drinking…

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image via weheartit.com

Which inevitably leads to us feeling all sorts of bad about ourselves and bitter towards others.  But remember, before you beat that other  mommy with a roll of wrapping paper who says she has sent out all of her Christmas cards  AND  finished all her shopping, keep in mind that something had to give. There is a good chance that poor woman has not showered and has no clean laundry. We all make compromises. Figure out what to let go of and forgive yourself for it already.  BE NICE TO YOURSELF. So much of all this pressure is put upon ourselves BY OURSELVES. Be good to yourself and take it easy.

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via pinterest

AND VERY IMPORTANT…

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via pinterest

So how to feel good, how to get back on the groovy train of holiday happiness?  Take control of the things you can’t compromise on. For me it is an organized closet. When my closet is disorganized it feels like my entire life is disorganized. So messy closet = messy brain for me. Starting my day with a clean closet sets the tone for a more clean day.

*Insider Tip –

Try storage cubbies. They help occupy that dead space underneath your hanging clothes. I took mine right out from our discarded toy section in the basement. They had all those cute fabric bins in them that I had high hopes for of containing my sons small cars by type (trucks, racing, small, large). Hahahaha – what was I thinking?

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This room only looked this way for about 24 hours.

They do a much better job at organizing my pants. Skinny Jeans, colored jeans, Flare and bootcut, Black skinny pants, Leggings. These are my go tos to start my day, my uniform during this busy season.  Keeping them folded up high was annoying, I couldn’t tell what was what until I drug it down and unfolded it. And chances are I am in a rush and not getting them put back up high.  A very small thing to be annoyed at, I realize this. But for me it is the small stuff that drives me nuts. So if you make small changes than make you happy then go for it.

Wasted space…

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Useful space…

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*Insider Tip –

Also treat yourself to something. I know that sounds awful and some you will probably say that is against the Christmas spirit but I’m not talking about purchasing a car and putting a bow on it out in your own driveway for yourself and completely neglecting everyone else. I mean something little. A candle that makes you happy, a manicure, a sparkly piece of inexpensive jewelry.

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image via pinterest

In the meantime be nice and gothrough the holidays with a smile. I truly believe that happiness is contagious, annoying sometimes but usually contagious.

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via pinterest

And hopefully when January comes you can sit back and relax. Okay not really but you can try.

image via smh.com.au

Oh and if you are in the area Thursday is Ladies Shopping Day in Kennett Square – you can put my advice into action 😉 And come visit me!!

Storm Prep

image via heavy.com

Here in the Northeast corridor of the country we are just coming up for air from Hurricane Sandy. Thankfully, the damages where we live were minimal but my heart goes out to those who suffered much worse. We did lose power, but only a little bit. Some local places were open so I was able to get out and get coffee this morning. This is good because it meant I did not kill anyone in my home due to lack of being caffeinated.

image via nomoredirtylooks.com

There was almost a trip to the ER in our house yesterday as I was convinced I was going to have a heart attack. The anxiety that goes along with what could happen and the waiting nearly killed me. I am not one of those people who acts calm, cool and collected. I am anxious, antsy and annoying to all of those around me. And even worse I tend to freeze in the face of fear, acting like a deer in headlights, waiting for the grown up in the room to come take care of it all, only to find out that is supposed to be me. Thank goodness for my hubby.

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Sadly but true to form the one area I was prepared in was in my wardrobe. I felt very capable to brave the elements this morning because I was wearing my grown-up rain boots. Just like the L.B.J. I think they are something every woman needs to have in their wardrobe. I have recommended them to almost all my clients, including a teenager I was helping to pack up for college, to a recent retiree whose lifestyle has just changed. When I say rain boots I think most people conjure up grotesque images in their mind like…

or

image via ebay.com

To me, the examples above are what I consider Galoshes aka Rubbers, and are not a cute look. Thankfully we have come a long way baby. Todays options are stylish and stunning. And faced with storms that can strike 4/4 seasons they are one of the most used pairs of shoes in my wardrobe. Sometimes when I wear my Hunter tall black gloss boots people will say stupid things like “Hey Noah! Where’s your ark?” But guess what? I don’t care. I am comfortable and dry while I go about my day, despite blowing rains and big puddles in parking lots.

image via polyvore.com

And the very best part? They allow me to walk our battered but still beautiful beaches, even in the dead of winter, and kick my feet through the water. That makes me very, very happy.

Avalon, NJ., post storm, image via seven mile times via Chris Collet

Since many of us are busy this week getting back to life after Sandy this post will be mostly visual, with some pics from Pinterest that I think are smashing. Some are practical, some are not (grosgrain ribbons on a rain boot? not completely practical but oh so cute!). Enjoy!

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bright red rain boots

Leopard hunter wellies!

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And I saved the best for last…available locally at Ashley Austin, these beauties are on my wishlist….

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*Insider Tip – As I have said before, try to buy the best QUALITY that you can afford. This does not mean the most expensive ones but the ones that, considering what you have paid, you will get equal payback in performance. My Hunter boots are worth every cent, considering how many times I have worn them over the last 2 years. Before that I had purchased an inexpensive pair that leaked and hurt my feet. Not worth it.

*Insider Tip – Vertically challenged and hate the look/feel of a too-tall boot? You have options!

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*Insider Tip – I am adding this as an update in response to a couple of reader comments that brought up a great point!

Okay- I have BIG calves- are the Hunter boots REALLY wide? Because the cheap rain boots from Target are too tight on my calves.

Me too there where you got the big calves I need something easy to put on

GREAT QUESTION! I should have mentioned that Hunter makes a style of boots called The Huntress – described on their website as “The Huntress boot encompasses the style of the classic Hunter Original, but with a wider calf space and a shorter shaft height. Perfect for those seeking a roomier fit.” I have read reviews on this boot and talked to some clients and all are happy with the fit!

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Got a little one in your life?

These are perfect for a wet Halloween!

image via Thestylecure.com

Happy Halloween to you all!!

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*Insider Tip – I am adding this as an update in response to a couple of reader comments that brought up a great point!

Okay- I have BIG calves- are the Hunter boots REALLY wide? Because the cheap rain boots from Target are too tight on my calves.

Me too there where you got the big calves I need something easy to put on

GREAT QUESTION! I should have mentioned that Hunter makes a style of boots called The Huntress – described on their website as “The Huntress boot encompasses the style of the classic Hunter Original, but with a wider calf space and a shorter shaft height. Perfect for those seeking a roomier fit.” I have read reviews on this boot and talked to some clients and all are happy with the fit!

;

Spring Forward

Spring Forward
Arthur Elgort for Vogue via Vogue.com

It is officially spring on the calendar. Which means regardless of the temperature outside something shifts in our minds and we just can’t or won’t put on anything  winter related anymore – even if we get an unseasonably cool day. It is the opposite of early fall, where we wait for any dip into the 60s as an excuse to wear our new fall coats and boots. As the days are now longer we are jumping at the chance to shed coats and bare our (hopefully) pedicured feet in open toed shoes.

Hopefully an enjoyable pedicure....image via reasonablywell-julia.blogspot.com

Of course my dream closet is a huge room where everything would all be in one space. In reality most of us are limited to the confines of some sort of spacing issues. My 5-year-old son is always asking why my  formal dresses are in his walk-in closet. “Because.” I get to answer that way because I am now a mom! In Pennsylvania we get to visually enjoy the rotation of all four seasons, the exception being this past winter. I thought I was being proactive in buying my kids’ snowgear early this year but it proved to be a  waste of time and money.  We all know Murphy’s/Mom’s law clearly states that they will not be the same size in snowpants and boots for next winter.

Way too many boots.

I am so jealous of my friend Erin in Atlanta who essentially has 2 seasons – as she puts it “warm and warmer” – because I dislike our cold weather and because it simplifies the wardrobes of her family. The grass always seems greener…pun intented.  But here Spring has sprung in our closets it is time to take inventory. The goal of your closet is always to simplify, unless of course you enjoy chaos and confusion to start your morning. So anything you will not wear now take out. Don’t worry – if we get it a freak snowstorm you are only storing it in your own home so you can always go get it. Know your own body – do you run cold, do you run hot? After having kids my body sweats anytime the temperature is over 40 degrees so anything with wool in it goes. Same for anything furry, velvet, or generally just heavy for me to even look at. I know that even if it is cold the sun is stronger throughout the day so I prefer to layer instead of throwing on coats anymore. Scarves in lighter weights, brighter colors are a perfect fill-in for the morning chill.

Even the always amazing Rachel Bilson has trouble pulling this off. photo via jose perez/splash news
If you are truly in a four season climate than wait before you clutter your closet with strapless sundresses and shorter skirts. Unless you are an editor at Lucky shopping magazine, are in your early 20’s, or work at Anthropogie,  it is really hard to pull off that whole layered sundress with tights and cardigan look for your everyday life. Don’t clutter up your space with too many options. As much as it might be a pain try to change your closet over according to the weather where you live, even if it is truly for all four seasons.  It will be easier to work with less and save you time getting dressed in the morning.

photo via http://cleanfeelsgood.blogspot.com
Okay, now it’s out. What to do with it? This depends on your space options. In an ideal situation if you have a guest bedroom closet you commandeer it. It is your house, you probably don’t have guests who visit and take up a whole closet so you deserve to use it. Again, one of those perks of being the adult mom in the house. Hopefully that gives you enough room so that you can leave things hanging rather than having to fold up everything. The exception to this is sweaters – DO fold to avoid those funky shoulder marks and to prevent the fibers from growing and stretching on the hanger.  Does that closet have a shelf?

Use baskets or containers to swap out things in you keep in drawers. I take out my turtlenecks and exchange them with bathing suit cover-ups. I swap tights with bathing suits. Whatever is not being used goes into the basket at the top of my guest room closet.

If you don’t have the option of a guest room closet there are other ways to store. Plastic bins can work for short-term storage.  The preference is to store clothes where the humidity is under control, and the temperature stays on the cool side. If you are really stuck consider storing inside unused suitcases.  Basements, if unfinished are not the best place. You are better off finding options for under the bed or sneaking out areas of your kids closets if possible. Plus you want to eliminate inviting bugs of any kind. If there is any bit of dirt on the clothes it acts like attracts bugs like Lindsay Lohan to bad decisions. And now imagine if the bugs stay and decides to start a family – yuck.

This bin of sweaters looks like a great place to raise my kids!

*Insider tip– Put scarves somewhere you will see them so that you will wear them – your coat closet downstairs? Right in your bedroom closet near your clothes so you can see the colors? This shower ring idea from Pinterest is genius, simple, and inexpensive. You can also put to use the back of your door, any door really.

photo via pinterest
*Insider tip– clean before you stow. It will feel like an annoying waste of money now but you will be so happy later that you took the time to do it. You will be so upset come fall if you take out a coat and see a coffee stain that had time to set in all summer and now has no chance of being cleaned out.  Take winter coats, sweaters, anything that needs repair (buttons, threads loose) to the dry cleaner before you store it. REMEMBER TO TAKE THE DRY CLEANING PLASTIC OFF WHEN YOU GET HOME. The dry cleaning plastic bags are meant for transport, not for storage. If left on the plastic can cause humidity and damage the fibers, even causing discoloration.

"Did I ever take that blue dress to the drycleaners...?"pic via people.com
I know, so very wrong of me to go there with Monica but it was just too obvious. Happy Spring Cleaning!