Every woman needs at least one go-to Little Black Dress in her wardrobe.
You don't have to be Audrey Hepburn or having breakfast at Tiffany's to pull off this classic style.
The LBD is a perfect look for almost any occasion, from a friend's wedding to a business meeting to a date night out to...
...your next holiday party.
And I just know you have at least a few of those coming up.
Here are some of my favorite picks for Little Black Dresses this 2012 holiday season. You can dress them up with some great heels and an updo. You can dress them down with some coloured tights and a great pair of boots. You can go for a fabulous retro glam look with kitten heels and a string of pearls. The sky is the limit with the LBD.
And the best part? These are all under $170!
1. Yoke and Lace Dress from RW&Co., $88
2. Ponte Dress Belted With Bow from Jacob, $41.99
3. Airy Wisp Dress from Anthropologie, $168
4. Director's Cutout Dress in Black Dots from Modcloth, $49.99
5. Draped Sleeve Jersey Blouson Dress from Nordstrom, $102.17
6. Textured Dot Pleated Dress from Banana Republic, $160
7. Aqua Dress—Puckered Lace from Bloomingdales, $112.39
8. Notched Henley Chemise from Anthropologie, $68
When I joined the gym, I honestly didn't even think about what I'd actually, you know, wear to exercise. I was way more focused on getting signed up for training and actually getting my body into the facility than I was on workout wear. I showed up for my first day of training in a pair of super old sweatpants (My mother bought them for me the day after I gave birth to my oldest child. She is almost 12.) and my worn-thin Green Bay Packers championship t-shirt. We won't even talk about what I was wearing in terms of brassieres.
I learned very quickly that I needed better workout wear options, for both my body's comfort and my body's fashion sense.
There are some important things to look for when choosing exercise clothing. I mean, of course, other than their ability to make my ass look magical.
1. The wicking factor. If you are doing it right, chances are good that you'll be doing a lot of sweating during your workout. Because of this, it's important to make sure that the layer that is resting closest to your skin is pulling moisture away from your body. (Important note: cotton t-shirts do not do this.) If you choose sports bra, tanks, and t-shirts that have proper wicking, they can keep you cool and prevent overheating in the summer and can keep you warm in the winter.
2. The appropriate factor. Use common sense here, really. Do not wear yoga pants to ride a bike to in a spinning class. Do not wear a flowy tank top to do yoga or your downward dog might reveal more than you bargained for. Make sure your workout clothing actually, you know, fits you.
3. The layerability factor. This is especially important if you are working out outdoors in a climate that can get cold, cold, cold during those pesky winter months. It's a good rule of thumb to wear as few layers are you are comfortable wearing, so you may start out in a hoodie or long-sleeved shirt, but by mid-workout you may find yourself in a tank and capris.
Here are some of my favorites these days:
1. Women's UA Pure Stretch Cheeky, $12. I'm a thong-wearer by nature, but when I began working out I heard that it's slightly unhygienic to wear thongs while exercising. This pair of UnderArmour seamless underwear came highly recommended and I absolutely love them. They are super comfortable and there's not a single VPL to be seen, even in your tightest pair of compression pants or capris. Score!
2. Old Navy Active Compression Jacket, $35. This jacket really is the best bang for you buck. Also, there are thumb holes.
3. Lululemon Groove Pant, $98. These are the Holy Grail of yoga pants. Period. I love these pants, and tend to refer to them as my magic-ass pants to anyone who will listen, but they are not good nice to look at, they are super comfy and perfect for yogs, ellipticizing, and certain strength-training exercises.
4. GapFit gFast capris, $44.50. I have several pairs of these because I love them so much. They are appropriate for any kind of aerobic activity. The material is perfectly-fitted to aoid chafing while drawing moisture far away from your body. And the price cannot be beat. I highly, highly recommend.
5. Nike Fast Pace Tank, $24.99. This, really, is my go-to tank for cardio. It's not too fitted, which I like. It is made of a Soft Dri-FIT® fabric that helps for long workouts (or long-distance runs—if you are a runner.) and extra sweaty training sessions.
6. Lululemon Swiftly Tech Short Sleeve, $58. I was actually hesitant about making this purchase. Short sleeves? Did I really even need that? It turns out that I absolutely love this top. I like everything about it—the length, the fit, the seams. It feels like it serves as both a warm layer and a cool layer without ever having to change tops. It's breathable and completely anti-chafing. It's such a good investment.
7. Lululemon Swiftly Headband, $14. This headband is 100% worth every penny. It is the first headband I have ever tried on that has actually stayed in place during an entire workout. For real! If you have any bangs of any kind, it's a must-have.
8. Moving Comfort Fiona High-Impact Sports Bra, $45.99. I am a huge fan of this bra. I searched high and low and did a lot of research before ending up with this one. It is sized by actual bra measurements instead of just s-m-l. It's both adjustable in the band and adjustable in the straps—which, for me, is a huge plus.
9. Zella 'Sculpted She Girl' Tank, $54.52. The best thing about this awesome tank is its strategic seaming—it's so flattering I can't even tell you! It has a great built-in shelf bra (so I can wear it without an additional sports bra).
Three years ago I signed up to run a half marathon.
Yes. It's true. I even trained for it. I was to get out there and run all 13.1 miles with my sister, husband, and sister-in-law. I bought shorts and skirts and tank tops and t-shirts and sports bras. I bought a belt that had four tiny water bottles on it. I bought new shoes. I clocked miles and miles on the treadmill, and even more miles on the pavement outside. I got myself a lovely case of shin splints and heels that would bleed if I ran anything more than three miles.
But I was going to run the half marathon.
And then I never ran it.
I lost my drive somewhere along the way. I stood at the finish line with my three kids and we watched in awe as my sister, husband, and sister-in-law proudly crossed that finish line. I didn't cross it, and I was 100% okay with it. I'm not a runner; I'm not meant to be one. I'm good at a lot of things, but running? It's not one of them.
And then my boss (you may have heard of her—her name is Erica Ehm) decided that for her birthday this year, she wanted those close to her to help her celebrate by running 5k at the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure. Now I don't know if you know Erica, but it's 100% impossible to say no to her. But the truth was, I didn't want to say no. Things have changed since I didn't run that half marathon. I am not that person anymore.
In the last three years I have watched family members have health problems; I sat in hospital waiting rooms wishing, hoping, praying that my loved ones would come out on the other end with good news.
In the last three years I have decided that I am in control of my body and I want to be strong for my three little ones. I don't want them to have to sit in hospital waiting rooms wishing, hoping, praying that I would come out on the other end with good news. I have joined a gym, I have committed to getting fit, I have hired a personal trainer, I have changed everything.
I signed up.
I started to run.
I showed up on the day of the race.
I didn't run.
But I did something much, much better.
I walked the 5K—with my three little ones beside me.
(photo credit: Evelyn Hannon)
I was so proud of them.
I was so proud of me.
We did it.
And I was lucky enough to have been given a pair of these for my run.
The Lace Up for the Cure collection 860 running shoe.
The funny thing is that while I didn't use these shoes for running, I have basically not taken them off since race day. I wear them to the gym for training. I wear them while I do burpees and lunges and push-ups and squats. I wear them while ellipticizing or stair climbing. I wear them while working on my core. I wear them when I walk my dog. I wear them to take my kids to school every day and to pick them up from school every day.
And I can't help but feel like—in some little way—that while I'm out there exercising my body, running around, climbing, lifting, pushing myself, kicking my ass into gear, that I'm somehow kicking cancer's ass too.
New Balance Canada continues its support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation with the latest Lace Up for the Cure collection 860 running shoe. The program enters into its tenth year in 2012 and aims to drive awareness of the benefits of an active lifestyle in reducing the risk of developing breast cancer. 15% of net proceeds, with a minimum of $25,000 and maximum of $40,000, will be donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Since the program's inception and New Balance Canada's partnership with the foundation in 2003, the Lace Up for the Cure program has raised over $230,000 for CBCF.
You can buy them at New Balance Canada and at The Running Room.
You may ask: What does this have to do with fashion, Ali?
And I will tell you.
I'm now sort of expert on workout clothing. I have spent months trying out different kinds of yoga pants and skirts and shorts and leggings. I have tried out different bras and tanks and combinations of both. I have tried out different running shoes. I have tried them all out, so you don't have to. Come back later this week for my top ten recommendations in workout gear.