Shopping Cheat Sheet

After some shopping “hits” and many “misses,” here are the brands that I come back to again and again. Some are not the cheapest, but all deliver value from being worn a lot and holding up to the ravages of caring for young kids (frequent washing, resists stretching and snagging, resists kryptonite attack, etc).

(Last updated July 2012) 



As a pear-shaped woman, I always have the same problem in the fitting room. Either the hip/seat is too tight, or the waist is too loose. Here are the pants I found that fit me right off the rack.

Blue Essence (Curvy Fit)


Joe’s Jeans (Socialite or Honey cut)

Kut from the Kloth

Levi’s 512’s

prAna (I live all summer in a pair of their capri length cargo pants from 2010 – I love them so much I have them in two colors, and won’t give them up even though they are stained with paint)

Not Your Daughter’s Jeans, a.k.a. NYDJ (It’s the deluxe stretch denim fabric that makes them so comfortable and lift the booty so well. The rise is high enough to cover front and back without feeling like I’m wearing Spanx.)



Anthropologie (Original designs make you feel like you’re shopping in a boutique; I like the inspired artistic look – my only gripe is the price can be high compared to the quality of the items. It adds up quickly so I always have to watch what I spend in this store.)

Bloomingdales (very tastefully edited selection of clothes and shoes; you’ll come out with something “on trend” or just plain fun. Good selection of denim. bargains can be found during sales.)

Nordstrom (find a friendly sales woman with a good eye, and let her go to town scouring the racks for you!)

Title Nine (you’ll always walk out with something comfortable in a fun new color)

REI (their own brand of clothes is starting to make some fun, reasonably priced pieces. Also a good source for indestructible jackets.)



Boden (British catalog retailer with a great selection of dresses, tunic length dresses and feminine, figure friendly tops)

Carve Designs (awesome swim wear and beach friendly clothes for beach betties and active moms alike)

Horny Toad (comfy knit dresses and skirts)

Patagonia (Great outerwear and comfy easy-wear dresses. Superb quality products that last forever.)

prAna (yoga-inspired casual wear)

Splendid (t-shirts so soft, your kids will want to use it for a blankie.)

Title Nine (sporty clothes for the woman in action)



Something happened to my feet sometime after my second child was born – my slim shoes stopped fitting. Now, I often end up between sizes and find that great fit and good material determines how comfortable the shoe is, more than the style of the shoe itself. One of my most comfortable shoes is a 2 inch high heel sandal made of buttery leather. I avoid imitation leather when I can because those are the shoes that always rub and hurt. Luckily there are a lot of other non-leather fabrics that make great shoes these days.

Ahnu (the founder of Keen shoes left and built another shoe company focused on comfortable active shoes; the new line is a bit more fashion conscious.)

Cole Haan Air (fashionable shoes with a slim but comfy rubber sole)

Cork-Ease (comfy sandals with a bohemian vibe; originator of the cork wedge sandal back in the 70s)

Donald J Pliner, a.k.a. DJP

Frye (beautifully crafted boots, though they don’t come cheap, they are a good investment and last a long time. I’m less excited about their new line of flats.)

Matisse (Awesome boots)

Merrell (comfortable and durable casual shoes)

New Balance (great looking sneakers for a foot on the wide side)

Paul Greene (a great splurge when they go on sale – comfortable)

Privo by Clarks (comfortable and cute slip on shoes)

OTBT (Stands for Off the Beaten Trail – casual and a little edgy)

Reef (Cushy flip flops)

Teva (Flip flops in fashionable colors)

Ugg (the original shearling wool boot is heavenly to slip on at the end of the day, or in the morning on a cold walk to school. Wear without socks for maximum pleasure.)



Easy Spirit Shoes (comfy but cute – updated styles, not just for old ladies anymore!)

J Brand Jeans

Paige Jeans



Gap (I’m not sure if they’re catering to college girls or people my age – I occasionally find a sweater I like, but their sizing for pants is inconsistent and their fit does not agree with my figure.)

Target (it’s too bad their cheap fabrics and poor construction get in the way of their cute, fashion-forward designs)

Old Navy (most stuff is styled for 20-somethings, with low rise pants and junior-style designs; however I do manage to find cute tops here occasionally. Sign up for their email messages for regular 20%-25% discount coupons.)

Tom’s Shoes (their flats are too floppy to be comfortable all day long, but their new styles show promise- especially their more dressy styles with substantial heel. And I love their “give-one, get-one” do-gooder mission.)


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