Jumping Into Jumpsuits!

Several years ago, these things called jumpsuits hit the style scene, and I’ve been a fan since. Really? A grown adult in a onesie? But only those tiny teenage girls can pull them off, right? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Fortunately, brands have been expanding their now stand- alone jumpsuit section to include something for all shapes, styles and occasions.

However… some are easier to wear than others. Here are a few things to remember when choosing a jumpsuit.  Fabrics with a bit of stretch give you a greater chance of finding a perfect fit off-the-rack. A straight or wide leg, hemmed to the floor, gives you your longest, leanest look. When choosing a cropped design, avoid super-wide legs or stiff fabrics. More casual jumpsuits and boiler suits can be worn a bit roomier and still look great.

There are truly jumpsuits for every occasion. Whether you’re looking for a more formal option for a wedding or simply one to bounce around town in… the options are endless. Below are my absolute favorite jumpsuits available right now, with many super-flattering designs. Hopefully my picks can help take some of the work out of finding the right one for you. As always, click links below pics for details about the jumpsuit.

DAYTIME

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  1. Boden Tillie Jumpsuit
  2. Madewell Denim Slim Coverall Jumpsuit
  3. ZARA Gathered Jumpsuit with Straps
  4. GAP Cap Sleeve V-Neck Linen Jumpsuit
  5. MANGO Long Linen Blend Red Jumpsuit
  6. Lucky Striped Boilersuit
  7. Banana Republic Linen-Blend Button Up Jumpsuit
  8. LandsEnd Denim Jumpsuit
  9. Express Button-Front Utility Jumpsuit

NIGHT OUT

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  1. The Reformation Camille Jumpsuit
  2. Lilly Pulitzer Janelle Embellished Jumpsuit or available locally at The Pink Paddock
  3. DVF Terria Silk Jersey Wrap Jumpsuit
  4. RACHEL Rachel Roy (Macy’s) Tie Front Wrap Jumpsuit
  5. Trina Turk Antilla Jumpsuit, available locally at The Pink Paddock
  6. BCBG (Bloomingdales) One-Shoulder Ruffle Jumpsuit
  7. MANGO Leaf Jumpsuit
  8. ZARA Red Pleated Jumpsuit

I may have made it easier to choose a jumpsuit, but as for learning how to go to the bathroom in it… well, you’re on your own. Practice makes perfect. Let’s leave it at that.

XOXO,

Ally

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25 “Must Have” Jackets for Spring

 

TIP #11_ Structured layers like blazers and more casual jackets (like cargo_safari designs) instantly “polish up” a simple pair of jeans.-4This was taken straight from my blog post 15 Style Tips That Every Girl Should Know. Now that that the ground is almost thawed, I thought it was time to talk about jackets… my favorite “in-between seasons” piece! Sure, jackets provide a layer of warmth, but what I personally love is the extra coverage they give us. Choose longer designs for some thigh and butt coverage, or more structured or cinched designs to conceal a belly and create the illusion of a waist.

Below I’ve featured my five favorite styles for spring : utility, trench, denim, moto, and blazer, and five great finds within each. As always, be sure to click on the links for pricing and to check out the color options and washes available!

 

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  1. J.Crew Perfect Rain Jacket
  2. GAP Garment-dyed Utility Jacket
  3. AERO Camo Twill Jacket
  4. BB Dakota Belted Hooded Jacket
  5. EVERLANE Modern Utility Jacket

 

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  1. J.Crew Leopard Trench
  2. BR Maxi Trench
  3. Ted Baker London Plaid Trench
  4. Badgley Mischka (Nordstrom) Faux Leather Trim Trench
  5. H&M Checked Trench

 

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  1. Levi’s (Anthropologie) Ex-Boyfriend Denim Trucker Jacket
  2.  Madewell “The Jean Jacket”
  3. Levi’s (Urban Outfitters) Slouchy Trucker Jacket
  4. ZARA Denim Jacket
  5. TARGET Universal Thread Oversized Denim Jacket

 

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  1. BLANKNYC (Bloomingdales) Suede Moto Jacket
  2. H&M Biker Jacket
  3. ALLSAINTS Suede Dalby Biker Jacket
  4. Liverpool Jeans Cotton Stretch MOTO Jacket 
  5. BB Dakota (ASOS) Faux Leather Jacket

 

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  1. 1901 (Nordstrom) Double Breasted Blazer
  2. ZARA Tweed Jacket
  3. J.Crew Parke Blazer in Gingham
  4. MANGO Tortoiseshell Buttons Jacket
  5. EVERLANE Cotton Linen Blazer

Whether you’d describe yourself as classic or bohemian, the styles above truly cover the spectrum.  Hopefully you found a little something that will help you look your best for the unpredictability of spring in the Northeast.

XOXO,

Ally

 

 

 

The Depressing World of Instagram

This one may not be directly style-related, but is a message that I feel is incredibly important to share in 2019.

Over the last year, I’ve been a “style blogger”.  Not a REAL one.  Just one that enjoys sharing tips and outfit ideas in my spare time.  I’m not even that good with technology.  I’m literally learning as I go. I, too, look for inspiration for photo, article and outfit ideas.  Naturally, I’ve started following more bloggers and influencers to help with this.  This has really opened my eyes to what I feel will be (and already is) one of the biggest challenges of our future: an unrealistic view of people’s appearances and lives… and sadly, the depression, anxiety, loneliness, and lowered self-esteem that accompanies these.

Social media and the blogosphere are likely here to stay.  If we are going to play on this playground, we MUST adopt a lens when looking at ALL of these images that flood our minds daily.  We MUST remind ourselves that the photos we’re seeing are NOT representative of typical daily living.  The Instagram page of whomever we’re following is their BEST portfolio. The best of the best.  We MUST NOT compare ourselves to others.

WHAT EXACTLY DO I “EDIT”?

I’ll absolutely come clean that I am VERY selective with what I share. I don’t try to make my life look “perfect” by any means… but I’m a very private person (you’d be surprised). I rarely share publicly our biggest struggles or family challenges. To me, that’s private. But PLEASE don’t think they are not there.

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You won’t see many photos taken in my house.  Why?  BECAUSE IT’S A FREAKING DISASTER. I have four boys.  There are matchbox cars everywhere you step.  There is a craft bin that is constantly vomiting construction paper and activity books.  When I do finally find a clean corner or angle, there is chipped paint or better yet… a self-portrait sketched onto the wall by my two-year old when I wasn’t looking.  I can assure you that my house and kitchen look NOTHING like those of most bloggers that I follow.

In addition, I’d rather not share the photos that highlight my stretched out post-partum belly or showcase my giant varicose vein. Although I avoid stamping them into cyberspace, it doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.

img_3718-e1553725497564.pngSomeone who follows me came up to David and I last year and said, “you’re so photogenic!”  We died laughing.  We laughed because WE know just how many photos we take before we get a good one. Sometimes there is an outfit that I can’t wait to share and that looks great!  He’ll take 20 photos, and not even one is good.  Guess what?  It never makes the cut.  I probably post about .01% of what we take. Now these are MY edits… what happens in MY “fake” style blogger life.

WHAT ABOUT “REAL” INFLUENCERS?

How about what is happening “behind the scenes” of some of these major influencers’ sites?  I feel obligated to remind you (especially my younger readers) that it is often not the life that you or I know.  Many of these girls may have left their children with a nanny and started their day with a personal trainer. Many stopped for a quick spray tan, which always helps them to look slimmer and more photogenic.  When they arrive home, they may be met by a glam squad.  They may spend two hours getting blowouts, hair, nails and makeup done.  Their amazing makeup selection was likely provided to them free of charge.  Many grab a quick and healthy meal that was delivered to their home to help them stay “picture perfect” and to be featured on their sites. Many have one or a team of photographers that step in when they’re ready.  All this time, their children may have been screaming and overtired.  When calm, the nanny may place the child in the set, exit stage left, and allow for the perfect, happy, family shot, where they are squeezing fresh OJ in the most gorgeous kitchen I have ever seen.

THE POST-PARTUM PITFALL

pexels-photo-415824.jpegOne group of women who feel tremendous pressure as a result of these unrealistic expectations are women in their post-partum months.  Here’s how it happens:  you have this amazing baby.  You’re elated, but exhausted.  The sleepless nights bring heightened emotions and often, a bit of post-partum depression.  The home-based days and nights often result in more “scrolling” than usual.  You’re likely following some “influencers” who are in the same phase of life as you are.  However, you SURELY don’t look like them.  Why are YOU having such a hard time?  Take all that potential “behind the scenes” help I mentioned earlier and add another element: add the fact that these women may have had a little surgical help immediately following the birth of their child.  Add the fact that they may have night nurses who are allowing them to get GREAT sleep.  Then add cosmetic procedures and skin treatments that may be causing them to look MUCH more awake than you.  I can speak from a LOT of experience… looking and feeling “back to normal” after a baby is a long road, and the “normal” is a new normal.  ANYONE suggesting otherwise is not being truthful.

PROCEEDING WITH CAUTION

I’m not suggesting that every woman you follow has all of this help at her fingertips.  I’m simply asking you to consider these “could be’s” if you’re active on any social media.  According to mental health professionals, the increase in social media use is expected to continue to cause increases in depression rates.  If you EVER start feeling down and find yourself comparing yourself to a “friend” or influencer’s “best of the best” portfolio, remember my words.  Remember that EVERYONE is struggling with something, no matter what it may look like. Or better yet… maybe it’s time to take a break from scrolling. It’s time to have that long, overdue conversation with a friend or family member.  Because there is no group chat, instant message or text exchange that will EVER even come close to the genuine happiness that comes with a REAL chat.  Like the good old-fashion face-to-face kind.  I’ll bet you a million photo “likes” that you’ll agree.

XOXO,

Ally

 

My Favorite Jeans of Spring!

I’ll be honest with you… I’ve never been a jeans type of girl.  For years I have found them so difficult to fit on my unique shape (thick thighs + flat arse).  Years of experience jeans shopping has made it slightly easier, but it’s still a struggle for me, and always will be.

Fortunately, between the internet and some great shops in town (so much easier to bring a “pile” into the dressing room and get to work), we all have access to just about any style, fit, size, wash and price point. I continue to find “pencil” jeans tough, so I gladly welcome this season’s “roomier” fits, including boyfriend jeans and overalls.  Below are some of my favorite jeans this spring, in a variety of styles and price points. Be sure to click on links below if something strikes your fancy… many have a variety of colors and/or washes available!

Let’s start with a personal favorite : the “boyfriend” jean.  These are generally a more relaxed fit, often worn cuffed and with a white tee or button down and sneaks.

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  1. Eddie Bauer Slim Leg Boyfriend Jeans
  2. AG Ex-Boyfriend Slim Jean
  3. Citizens of Humanity Emerson Slim Fit Boyfriend
  4. GAP High-rise Best Girlfriend Jean
  5. Kut from the Kloth (Macy’s) Catherine Boyfriend Jean

 

I’m thrilled that long and lean flares and wide legs are back.  Pair these often high-waisted styles with a super high (yet super comfy) wedge sandal for legs a mile high!

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  1. Boden Helston Sailor Jean
  2. AE Wide Leg Jean
  3. JCrew Wide Leg Trouser Jean
  4. 7For All Mankind Slim Illusion Dojo
  5. HUDSON Jeans Holly High Rise Flare

 

“Demi boots” and crops are ALL over this season, and are look SUPER cool!  Personally, I find these very difficult to wear (any cropped pant tends to shorten you). But, as I always say, if you try them and love them… then get them!  Pair them with sneaks, slides or heels for a variety of chic looks!

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  1. Anthropologie Paige Nellie High Rise Culotte Jeans
  2. JCrew Demi Boot Cut Jean With Seam
  3. Levi’s (Free People) Mile High Cropped Flare
  4. The Reformation (Nordstrom) Fawcett High Waist Crop
  5. Madewell Cali Demi Boot Jean

 

Last, and surely not least, overalls!  NEVER in my life did I think I’d ever buy a pair of overalls again.  Last spring, I walked into a Lucky store, tried them and decided that they were the easiest, comfiest “denim” I ever remember wearing.  I’ve bought two more pairs since then (even though my husband sings Come on Eileen EVERY time I wear them).  Go ahead… give them a try. You never know!  Style with a turtleneck and loafers, or try a crop top / fitted white tee and flip-flops for a more casual look!

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  1. Universal Thread (Target) Wide Leg Overall
  2. Topshop Black Slim Leg Dungarees
  3. Abercrombie & Fitch Twill Camo Overall
  4. Lucky Jeans White Boyfriend Overall
  5. Free People Boyfriend Overall

With all these option this spring, you’re bound to find something that fits both you and your  lifestyle. Happy spring jeans shopping! Even though it will still be another two months until winter boots are OFFICIALLY stored, here in upstate NY.

XOXO, Ally

 

 

 

15 Style Tips That Every Girl Should Know!

Two weeks ago, I challenged myself to come up with a tagline for The Style File.  It didn’t take long:

Let's frolic though the garden!-2

This has been my philosophy for decades.  Yes, I’m guilty of spending on the occasional luxury item, but it’s always something I LOVE and never just for the logo.  At the same time, the majority of my wardrobe is made up of lower cost brands, from Target to H&M and everything in between.

I thought I’d share my “Top 15 Tips” for creating your most wearable wardrobe, with a few links to some items mentioned.  These are mantras that I have personally lived by for many years now.

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  1. Buy jeans slightly smaller than your size. They will stretch to a perfect fit.
  2. Keep your classic pieces updated by incorporating inexpensive trends that compliment your body shape and lifestyle.
  3. Great fits need great tailors. Whether it’s nipping the waist of that sheath dress or hemming your pants to a certain shoe, a small tweak makes a HUGE difference.
  4. Dress for your shape. Choose the right pieces to downplay your most “challenging” areas. Show off what you’re proud of, but keep it classy!
  5. The best way to hide belly bulge is with the right bra. Don’t be afraid to wear a padded bra. This helps prevent your pieces from “clinging” to your midsection.
  6. Everyone needs a collared white button-down. Whether it’s tucked, untucked, tied in front, collared up, sleeves rolled…. you ALWAYS look put together in a crisp, white shirt.
  7. If you know a silhouette works with your body shape, stick with it! You can always find a way to keep the outfit current by changing out the pieces or accessories around it.
  8. The single most (bare) leg-flattering shoe is a nude pump. Not a heel kind of gal?  Opt for a basic nude flat with a little bit of point for your longest leg.
  9. Classic and edgy balance each other beautifully. Wearing a skin-tight leather skirt?  Choose a feminine, modest top.  Outfit feeling a bit stuffy and boring?  Throw some leopard or snakeskin into the mix.
  10. Choose one amazingly bold accessory and keep everything else minimal. Let that item steal the show!
  11. Structured layers like blazers and more casual jackets (like cargo/safari designs) instantly “polish up” a simple pair of jeans.
  12. “Curvy” in the thigh area? Pencil jeans can be tough to wear.  Choose straight, flared or wider leg jeans for your most flattering fit.
  13. Who is on your “best dressed” list? Be sure to follow them on Instagram or Pinterest, save your favorite looks, and steal shamelessly!  I do it ALL the time (and FYI, my current obsession is Victoria Beckham)!
  14. Solid, light-colored tees and performance fabrics always show more bulges than their dark-colored counterparts. Stick with navy, black or small dark prints to help conceal those problem areas.
  15. It’s better to have a few outfits that ALWAYS look fabulous on you, versus an expansive wardrobe with lots of “so-so” looks.

Hopefully these golden nuggets help you to create YOUR best wardrobe!  And remember… whether it’s Forever 21 or Ferragamo, it’s all about HOW your wear it.

XOXO, Ally

 

 

The Art of Stacking

Years ago I had an epiphany. I realized that several stacked or super chunky bangles looked WAY better on me than those little delicate things. I guess it’s because I’ve always been a rather substantial girl (mom called it “big-boned”). From a young age, I always felt that small chains or bangles seemed disproportionately small on my body. So I started layering, and layering. Fast forward 20 years, and these layered or “stacked” bracelets have become part of what I would consider my signature look. The best part?  Anyone can do it, at any price point, with any material. Just pick a theme, and start building.

Here are the stacks that you’ll just about ALWAYS see on my wrist. The details are included with links to help you achieve a similar look.

STACK ONE: THE BOHO

This is probably my favorite look, worn year-round.  I’ve taken one of the many leather bands I purchased from a street vendor in Barcelona, paired it with some wooden beaded elastics I’ve had for YEARS from Kohl’s, a gold vintage Tiffany & Co. watch, bronze metal chain link bracelets from H&M, and the Hermès Behapi leather strap.

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RECREATE  IT!

There are many ETSY vendors that have beautiful leather wrap bracelets, like this one from Asenath Designs .  I also love the color scheme of these affordable wooden beads from Love Beach Days, also available through Esty. I like the simplicity of this Michael Kors Pyper Gold-tone watch and this Shinola, with it’s gorgeous brown leather, would be perfect in this stack.  The Hermès Behapi Double Tour wrap is still available and comes in various lengths, colors and hardware options.

STACK TWO: ROCK N’ ROLL

For this look, I combine a chunky interlocking silver bracelet with some hardware-inspired bangles (both cheapies purchased years ago). They are usually paired with this black leather strap, the hubby’s TAG Heuer casual watch, and a leather jacket.

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RECREATE IT!

These  J.Crew double stretch bracelets, offered in three tones, are almost identical to the one shown. TAG Heuer Formula 1 designs have hardly changed in these past two decades and are still available in a variety of sporty looks. I love the edgy look of this black leather Alexander McQueen strap from Nordstrom. Banana Republic has collaborated with Giles & Bros. and launched a super cool line of jewelry, including this Railroad Spike Cuff, which would fit quite perfectly in this stack.

STACK THREE: PICK A COLOR, ANY COLOR

If any of you have walked into an Hermés store, you’ll understand that it’s hard to pick just one bracelet from their enamel collection. The display is truly a work of art, and usually grouped by color story. I thought long and hard about what color I would wear most, and ultimately chose these turquoise designs with gold trim.

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RECREATE IT!

Pick a color, and collect! I chose enamel, but you can do it with beads, wooden bangles, wovens… whatever you like! The Hermés Enamel collection includes so many gorgeous colors and designs that never go out of style! Neiman Marcus carries a great variety of Tory Burch enamel bracelets in a variety of widths and colors. These art-inspired enamel bracelets from Erwin Pearl are gorgeous, and I can completely envision stacking these affordable preppy designs by Fornash during the spring and summer months!

STACK 4: PARTY BLING

This is my “fancy” cocktail party look, often worn around the holiday season. I love pairing blingy sparkles, like this chunky crystal bracelet (drawing a blank where it’s from) with this vintage long pearl necklace that I wear as a bracelet. I usually combine them with these interlocking crystal bangles that I picked up at Off-Saks and this diamond pave Michele watch.

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RECREATE IT!

I love the vintage look of a multi-strand pearl bracelet with diamond clasp, like this one from Ross-Simon. Here is a great basic long faux pearl necklace that can be wrapped (like mine above) from Nadri. Michele has a variety of great watches, with or without the sparkle. MVMT has reasonably priced fashion watches with clean lines that can be dressed up or down, like the rose-gold Hermosa. This Nadri Filigree Bracelet is the perfect width to add just a bit of sparkle to your stack, or add a bit more with their Micro Pave Bangle.

Want to “stack” locally? Pop into Lifestyles of Saratoga and let them help you build the perfect boho stack with their fabulous leather and beaded wrap designs. Check out Lola of Saratoga and walk out with a party-ready stack that includes sparkle, enamel, and a fabulously stylish smart watch band!

Lastly, don’t forget to think “out of the box”… out of your OWN jewelry box, that is. I hope that these looks give you the inspiration to brush the dust off of those bangles you haven’t touched in years and try something new!

XOXO, Ally

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Case for Spanx

In 2006, Gwenyth announced at an award ceremony that she was wearing Spanx, and that all the Hollywood girls do it. Many of those “Hollywood girls” have gone on the record to say that they rarely arrive to an event or set without a little “support”.  Since then, Sara Blakely, the company’s founder, was named the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire by Forbes. Kudos to anyone who can make girdles cool and become a billionaire along the way.

Lots has changed in these past two decades. The word “Spanx,” which once referred to a specific product line, has become the word that references any and all shapewear. More importantly, the shapewear industry has boomed, shifting away from one composed solely of super-restrictive sausage casings, to one of more comfortable, versatile products. And guess what? I’m a fan.

I’m proud to say that I’m in much better shape than I was 20 years ago when shapewear was not a part of my vocabulary. HOWEVER, a few things have happened since then. Four children later, this stretched out belly shows a bit more than I’d like in certain pieces.  Secondly, most product lines (that are within my financial reach) have done away with lining. Lastly, I’ve become very particular about the way I look in clothes, wearing more fitted and tailored pieces. Meaning panty lines, jiggles, visibly tucked shirts, and exposed bras are avoided whenever possible.

Here are the types of items in my personal “shapewear” arsenal that I faithfully rely on, with links to those and similar products:

GRANNY PANTIES

 

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I LOVE my Retro Briefs by Spanx.  I’ll admit that I rely on a thong for daily avoidance of panty lines, but turn to briefs when wearing a fuller knee-length or midi skirt. The cheek-covering brief gives me some extra confidence JUST IN CASE there is a windy moment and I’m forced to expose more than I anticipated. I also like the Sexy and Smooth Commando Thong, for those of you want the belly support but no VPL (Visible Panty Line). The Spanx Everyday Boy Short is also a cute option under a full skirt.

SLIPS

 

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Yes, women still do wear slips. I wear my half-slip for one main reason: to hide and smooth a shirt tuck under a fitted pencil skirt. My go-to slip is the Spanx Two-Timing reversible half slip. It smooths my tuck without feeling restrictive.  I love the lace on this Commando half slip from Bloomingdales. Full slips like this one from Wolford are a great way to provide a smooth base layer under a sheath dress. (ALL Wolford products are absolutely gorgeous… hence the price point!)

LAYERING TANKS

 

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I get so much use out of my skin-toned microfiber tank, used primarily to conceal a bra when wearing any blouse that is somewhat see-through (think lace, chiffon, etc).  It also helps to eliminate bra lines if wearing a very fitted shirt. This Whisper Weight Tank by Commando has great stretch and creates a comfortable layer.  I also love wearing bodysuits as layering pieces, like this amazing Commando faux leather bodysuit, which I could totally envision wearing with jeans and a blazer.  (FYI: Violet’s of Saratoga has an amazing selection of Commando products, including some of their faux leather pieces!) There are also a variety of camis available with more high-functioning belly-shaping panels, like the Maidenform cami  shown above.

HIGH-WAISTED LEGGINGS

 

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Shapewear companies continue to expand their product lines to include more and more apparel, with a focus on leggings. I have personally ADORED Yummie leggings since I first put them on.  Shortly after having my second baby, I was shopping at a department store in NYC and whimsically picked up a pair because I loved the subtle sueded leopard print, similar to these faux suede reptile print ones. I had never spent close to $100 on leggings in my LIFE but OMG. They washed beautifully, were SO soft, and were the perfect match for my postpartum belly. There is nothing girdle-ey about these.  Just a soft, high-waisted panel that, even today, makes me feel slightly less jiggly. I also love the look of moto leggings, like the ones shown above from Spanx.  Specialty leggings are also making their way to more formal events, like these Commando velvet leggings with tuxedo stripes. Oh the holiday outfit options!

FOOTLESS HOSIERY

 

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This is my go-to layer for super-fitting floor length gowns in non-summer months (way too warm in the summer!) Spanx has several waist and support level options.  I find high-waisted versions like the Spanx Higher-Power Capri more comfortable and less likely to roll when compared to the mid-waisted version, like the Skinny Britches, shown above. However, bathroom runs with a gown and high-waisted capri do become complicated, so don’t break the seal.

You have to consider your goal when choosing shapewear: are you looking to smooth, shape or conceal? In my case, the outfit completely determines the answer to that question. Also, don’t be afraid to go up a size or two if you’re achieving your goal but feeling a bit too sausage-ey.  I’ve done it many times.

So there you go. I’ve given you full x-ray vision into all of my outfits. I have no shame. I’m one of those girls who has NO problem asking for help when I think I need it. My philosophy has always been… if you feel good in it, you’ll look even better in it. The radiance that comes with this extra confidence is an added bonus. Kind of like the little trial packets they add to your Sephora order.

XOXO,

Ally