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#1 of 44 Old 01-16-2009, 09:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This might be an odd question, but I am going shopping for new clothing tomorrow for my job that is starting on Tuesday and I need some advice. My new job is as a part time teacher at a preschool. This preschool is one of the best in the area, and although I am expected to get "down and dirty" with the kids, I still want to looks relatively professional. I am also plus size, so it is EXTREMELY hard to find good clothing at thrift stores around here. Most clothing there stops at about a size 12-14. I am a size 18 and generally wear an XL to a 2X, depending on the style and cut.

Anyone have any advice on how to keep the cost down, and what would work well to wear over and over with toddlers, yet also say, "I am a professional"?

Formerly single Mama to the zaniest boy on the block, born on my birthday on 3/28/07. Soon to be Mama to a new little and can't wait to bfinfant.gif and femalesling.GIF and familybed1.gif again! 
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#2 of 44 Old 01-16-2009, 09:49 PM
 
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I would start by looking at clearance at Target. I would get 2-3 pairs of black pants. Even not on clearance, I bet they are about $25 each. Then you can pair any kind of business casual shirt with them, like button downs.

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#3 of 44 Old 01-16-2009, 10:08 PM
 
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I agree with a couple of pair of black and/or brown or navy slacks. You can never have too many pairs of black slacks. I think Target's plus sized clothes stink, however, but this is a good time to be finding them on sale in your favorite stores. JCPenney has great clearance on that kind of thing right now.

I'd wait a little on buying a bunch of tops until you have a feel for how hot or cold the workplace will be. Just buy enough to get going for now. If they keep the place warm for the kids, those 3/4 sleeved, button front shirts look fairly professional and are easy to care for.
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#4 of 44 Old 01-16-2009, 10:17 PM
 
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I'd also start with just a couple pairs of *washable* dress pants - black slacks or khakis for casual days. I'd hit the clearance racks first and then work up to regular priced items. With the economy, many stores are trying to move their winter clothing, so you might hit some great sales (i.e. 70% off at JC Penney) this weekend.

When I need something specific, I like to go to large malls. The larger stores tend to have larger specialty sections (petite or plus, professional or formal) and I'm usually able to find nice slacks ($50-60) on clearance for $15 or less.

And since you're on a tight time schedule, if I found clothing that fit, I'd buy it with a credit card and then move on to the next store, if I found something better then I could return the first item and get a credit to my card.

Don't feel like you have to have a full wardrobe your first week. Take time to see what the other teachers wear, what sorts of clothing you're comfortable with and get a few pieces over time.

me, 28 & dh, 32.
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#5 of 44 Old 01-16-2009, 10:47 PM
 
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When I was teaching and then working as a children's librarian, I had the same requirements -- professional, but stuff that allowed me to move and that was easy to clean if I came home covered in chalk dust or book paste.

My "uniform" was all basics -- cotton pants from Old Navy in khaki, grey, black, paired with simply-shaped tops in complimentary colors - black, blue, brown, maybe one or two brighter colors. I had comfy, semi-trendy loafers in both black and brown (bought them at one of those shoe-discount-warehouses, great deal). Everything had to be machine-washable.

Old Navy actually has an extra 50% off their clearance this weekend, and if their site stays up (it's crashed several times today) the coupon for online is EXTRA50. I'm seeing some cute 3/4-sleeve sweaters and tops, and a few pairs of trousers, in their "Plus" section.

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#6 of 44 Old 01-16-2009, 11:15 PM
 
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For each piece you want to buy come up with at least 3 different outfits you can put together with other stuff you already have or are buying. This way you can have a limited number of clothes but not look the same each day.

Also, I always feel like grey/khaki/tan pants stay clean much better than black pants. For me it's because I have dogs and can't leave home without a bunch of fur stuck to me but it might be something to keep in mind since you're working with little ones.
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#7 of 44 Old 01-16-2009, 11:46 PM
 
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I like very simple styles. Maybe you could find some solid pants, loafers or clogs and long sleeved T's to start, and then purchase the rest after you get a good idea of what the other teachers are wearing.

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#8 of 44 Old 01-16-2009, 11:46 PM
 
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A couple of years ago a momma in Working Mothers gave the advice to buy a couple of pieces that can mix and match in one color scheme - Such as one "base" color and maybe 2 complimentary colors. So that's what I did when I returned to work. I used red/black/gray just because I already had the basic black suit to build around. I bought some additional gray pants and some matching skirts at Target plus the standard white button down and some simple shirts that can layer and still look professional.

Truly it was the best wardrobe advice I ever heard, and sadly I can't recall the momma to thank!

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#9 of 44 Old 01-16-2009, 11:56 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jlpumkin View Post
A couple of years ago a momma in Working Mothers gave the advice to buy a couple of pieces that can mix and match in one color scheme - Such as one "base" color and maybe 2 complimentary colors. So that's what I did when I returned to work. I used red/black/gray just because I already had the basic black suit to build around. I bought some additional gray pants and some matching skirts at Target plus the standard white button down and some simple shirts that can layer and still look professional.

Truly it was the best wardrobe advice I ever heard, and sadly I can't recall the momma to thank!
That is a great idea! I already do something similar with my everyday clothes. I layer a lot and tend to stick to the same colors (black, blue, green, dark purple).

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#10 of 44 Old 01-17-2009, 12:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much for all of the advice! I so, so, so wish we had a Target around here, but sadly, we don't. I am going to hit up Macy's first thing in the morning, and also Lane Bryant, but that is pretty much it for the stores that are on my first bus stop. If I don't find anything there (or at the thrift store, which is doubtful), I am going to head out further on the bus line to the larger mall that does have a J.C. Penney. I am never really impressed with the plus size clothing there, but it is worth a shot if they are having big sales.

I do know they allow blue jeans there, but I don't feel comfortable at all wearing any of the jeans that I own. I think I may try to find a pair of jeans in black, and maybe a pair of casual pants in black as well in order to mix an match with anything else. The one pair of pants that I already own is a dark brown, and my one shirt is a bright green, but very basic in style. I like the idea of sticking to a basic color scheme. I will definitely keep that in mind tomorrow.

As for Old Navy clothes, they drive me batty! I have tried on a million tops and quite a few pants there, and the pants in my size tend to be too long and I am 5'8"! The shirts tend to be extremely clingy around the torso (not so flattering on a size XXL), and I find that they tend to look a bit more young than I am really going for. (I am almost 35) I keep going in there, hoping to find something, because they are easy for me to get to on the bus, and the prices are great, but I always come out of there frustrated.

I will report back tomorrow with my finds! Thanks again!

Formerly single Mama to the zaniest boy on the block, born on my birthday on 3/28/07. Soon to be Mama to a new little and can't wait to bfinfant.gif and femalesling.GIF and familybed1.gif again! 
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#11 of 44 Old 01-17-2009, 12:21 AM
 
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Good luck Mama! I was going to suggest Lane Bryant. A gorgeous plus sized girlfriend of mine loves shopping their sales and I bet they have good ones right now!

I have similar problems with fit at Old Navy, but it wouldn't hurt to check again. Sometimes I am really lucky and other times I am perplexed as to who the heck the clothes WOULD actually look good on! LOL

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#12 of 44 Old 01-17-2009, 12:27 AM
 
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I'm thinking 3-5 pairs of black, wrinkle free slacks. A poly knit would probably be your best bet for comfort and style. A pair of cute flats in a fun color or print. 3-5 knit shirts in one or two colors that look good with your coloring and the aforementioned shoes. A black cardigan or shawl style sweater. That should do it.
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#13 of 44 Old 01-17-2009, 01:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm thinking 3-5 pairs of black, wrinkle free slacks. A poly knit would probably be your best bet for comfort and style. A pair of cute flats in a fun color or print. 3-5 knit shirts in one or two colors that look good with your coloring and the aforementioned shoes. A black cardigan or shawl style sweater. That should do it.
Oooh, a cardigan! I didn't think of that! It would be great if it was cooler and then I needed to shed a layer as the day warms up. Hmmm... Going to have to space the entire wardrobe out, but that will be a good one to add to the list. I don't think I could pull off black pants and a black cardigan though, without looking like I was heading to a funeral. Maybe one in a nice subdued pattern with neutral earth tones would be nice (if I can find one...) I tend toward solid color tops, so that would go with anything. I will definitely check out sweaters tomorrow.

Actually, what do you all think of this: http://www.spiegel.com/shop/product_...le_id=30980190

It only comes in 1X and 3X, so I could have to order the 1X and hope for the best. It is on sale, and I have a $10 off coupon, so would only be $20. Still a bit more than I was hoping to pay, and definitely not earth tones, but pretty. Do you all think it is too fussy for a preschool teacher's sweater? (dang, I am so stressed about this job...)

I also found this: http://www.spiegel.com/shop/product_...le_id=16009190

Not nearly as fancy schmancy as the first, but it comes in good neutral colors (stupid Firefox won't let me open the "larger view and more photos" though grrr). I am thinking that sweater in grey would go with just about anything, and not show stains too badly. Maybe in black if I end up with only one pair of black pants and maybe a pair of khakis?

Formerly single Mama to the zaniest boy on the block, born on my birthday on 3/28/07. Soon to be Mama to a new little and can't wait to bfinfant.gif and femalesling.GIF and familybed1.gif again! 
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#14 of 44 Old 01-17-2009, 02:03 AM
 
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Check JC Penney. I just bought 2 pair of nice cords for $10 each, and they had every size from 14-24. I also bought tank tops 2/$15. CJ Banks also has decent clearance prices, and their sweaters all have a "teacher" look to me.

My basic uniform starts with a black bottom. I have 1 pair of knit, 1 (well, 2 now) pair of cords, and 1 pair of twill pants. I also pick up light-weight cardigan sweaters whenever I see them cheap, and wear them over a tank top or camisole. I wear a bright tank or cami to avoid the funeral look. I tend to spend the most money on my shoes, 'cause if my feet hurt I am good for nothing. I have one pair of clogs and another pair of slip-on suede moccasins. I also like the blouse idea, but I am not comfortable in them. I can't ever find one that isn't falling off my shoulders or pulling across the bust.

Good luck with the shopping and your new job!
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#15 of 44 Old 01-17-2009, 03:15 AM
 
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I recommend for work-clothes:

In colors that don't show the dirt (crimson, dark green, brown, navy, black etc.) or very stain resistant

* 2 full skirts (below knee) - easy to even sit on the floor

* 3 trousers

* 5 tops - I regularly wear the "long sleeved t- shirts" from LLBean or LandsEnd (in winter you may want to layer w/ a turtle-necj)

* a few scarves to "dress-up" the long-sleeved t-shirts

*3 jackets/blazers

* a pair of black leather comfy shoes. Ask the sales cleark for VERY comfortable shoes, like what wait staff wear, and explain that you teach and are on your feet a lot.

By mixing and matching these items (some of which you may already own) you can present a very "professional" image, yet be ready to get into things w/ the kids.
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#16 of 44 Old 01-17-2009, 07:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oooh, I love the idea of a scarf to dress up the T's! I was actually looking at some prettys scarves at Old Navy a few days ago, and was wondering when I could wear them. I am so fashion helpless. Thank-you for that!

I am not comfortable at all wearing skirts, but I will keep that in the back of my mind when shopping. Who knows, maybe I will see one I love. I am tall, so it could work.

I also like the idea of the tanks with lighter cardigans. I wouldn't be able to take off the cardigan, but it would look great for a layered look. Plus, DS is still nursing, so I will be flashing folks a bit less with the cardigan hanging off to the side.

Off to check out LL Bean and Lands End!

ETA: LL Bean has this cardigan on sale. I think it looks pretty "teacher-ish", and is VERY basic too, which means it should go with anything, right? I was thinking Black Cherry is a nice neutral, dark color (I don't tend to wear much red, and I think it would go with most any color other than red. Am I right?

Formerly single Mama to the zaniest boy on the block, born on my birthday on 3/28/07. Soon to be Mama to a new little and can't wait to bfinfant.gif and femalesling.GIF and familybed1.gif again! 
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#17 of 44 Old 01-17-2009, 09:30 AM
 
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I typically find good sales for "teacher clothes" at Christopher and Banks. Their normal prices are high but their sales are low.
When I worked with younger students I wore a long skirt and then layered shirts (ex. T-shirt and then a button up). I wore comfortable flats on my feet. You will get dirty! Have fun!
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#18 of 44 Old 01-17-2009, 11:43 AM
 
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I'd look for clothes with a little texture or subtle patterns. I'm thinking of how quickly my solid t-shirts get stained!

I'd also go for a little more fun and color than I might ordinarily since the job is working with the preschool crowd. Still mix and match, basic colored pants but brighter shirts or fun scarves.

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#19 of 44 Old 01-17-2009, 11:45 AM
 
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If you're absolutely strapped to start and need the exact minimum, you can thrive on a sheath dress in a neutral color and a sweater. Really. Most of Europe got by on a skirt and a sweater after World War II (well, the female half). I recommend the dress rather than a skirt because it is more flattering on a plus sized figure and more versatile. Example, you can wear it on its own or put on the sweater to do the sweater and skirt look, to start. Gradually you can add a white blouse, a cardigan, and a jacket, to mix and match. Scarves, belts, and a hat can vary the look considerably day to day.

You can definitely get down on the floor in a dress and whether it's readily cleaned depends on the material you choose. I'd invest in a rather high quality one, perhaps one made for traveling, that you can wash in a sink, wring, and hang dry overnight.
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#20 of 44 Old 01-17-2009, 01:06 PM
 
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J. Jill has a line call Wearever that is great. I am XL/size 16-18 like the OP.

At full price, pants are $69 but they last forever. I have two pairs that are at least three years old and they still look brand new. On sale, you can pick up a pair for $30 or so.

I wear the pieces all year round. The fabrics have great drape that flatters us more ample ladies, look professional yet feel like comfy sweatpants.

I wear each pair at least once and week. Like someone else mentioned, I have tops that coordinate with both pants so it looks like I have lots of outfits.

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#21 of 44 Old 01-17-2009, 01:18 PM
 
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I like all the sweaters you linked! The cardigans are very much like what I'd wear as a teacher, and the grey sweater reminds me of something I always see my son's preschool teacher wearing. Very cute.

I have the same trouble with Old Navy these days, and I think in the last 8-10 years they've been moving away from fitting 'regular' people to more 'teen' figures. As a mama of two with an hourglass figure (that I've had since before I had kids) I have been having more and more trouble finding pants that fit there. It's good we live close to the mall because I usually wind up making two trips -- one to buy everything, and one to return what doesn't work.
It's a shame because I still have a lot of the khakis and cords I wore to work in 2000-2003 and they still fit very reasonably.

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#22 of 44 Old 01-17-2009, 03:24 PM
 
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I like the first two sweaters you linked. The third one is ok but if you go with basic, solid coloured tops underneath I think the first two would make the outfit more interesting.

Since they allow jeans I would see if you can find a nice pair in a dark wash denim - they tend to look more dressy and go with almost everything. Go for a straight leg or bootcut pair with some stretch to them.
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#23 of 44 Old 01-17-2009, 04:53 PM
 
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Out of the sweaters you linked to, my favorite is the gray one. It's super cute! And since it's a neutral, it would go with everything.

I really like the suggestion about sticking to a small color palette, with neutrals as the base and a few brighter colors for tops and accessories. I do that--I have two sets of neutrals, black and brown (so pants/shoes/purses in each) and then colorful tops and accessories that go with both the black and the brown pieces. Just 4 pairs of pants--black, gray (goes with the black neutrals), brown, and khaki (goes with the brown neutrals), and like 5-10 shirts, and you can make a million outfits.

My favorite advice on that note, is to make sure those colors are your "joyous" colors. Like, colors that you just love, and make you happy when you look at them, and are flattering for your coloring. It's even better if those all work with each other, so you can mix and match for more variety. In my case, my joyous colors are magenta, apple green, orange, and purple, which mostly go together in any combination. So if I get a magenta purse () or a purple necklace, I can wear it with any of my other colorful things.

Of course, this is all kind of pie-in-the-sky when you're doing last minute shopping! For now, I'd just say get a few pieces that work, and don't stress yourself out worrying about building an entire "wardrobe."

Good luck shopping and congrats on your new job! How exciting!

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#24 of 44 Old 01-17-2009, 04:56 PM
 
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As a former daycare teacher I feel the need to chime in- I know you want to look professional but I have ruined many, many nice tops, pants and shoes from playing with the kids. I love mess! Investing in several cheap pieces will be your best bet- also, remember you might be washing paint cups, cleaning up puke and disinfecting toys, so a few nice aprons, vests or other cover ups are very helpful. Looking back, I wish I had bought a few aprons to help cover my clothes while doing wash, cleaning and painting.

Oh and layers were my best friend.

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#25 of 44 Old 01-17-2009, 07:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So, I am back!!!! I ended up with the following:

Shirts:
1 woven black top with a cross over type neckline and 3/4 sleeves. Not something I would have picked out, but extremely flattering. $11 (Orig. $20)
1 bright yellow/orange (marigold?) turtleneck with darts that run from shoulder to the hem that help define my bust. I LOVE the color and style! : $14 (Orig. $20)
1 grey 3/4 sleeve T $15 (Orig. $22)
1 cream lace edge camisole $7 (Orig. $13)

Pants:
1 pair of black jeans. $30 (my only non-on-sale purchase)
1 pair of brown jeans $29 (Orig. $74)

Other:
1 Brown quilted cord jacket (Totally not planned, but cheap and very flattering) $15 (Orig. $75)
1 pair of brown and cream sneakers to keep at school to wear only there. $20 (Orig. $30)
12 pairs of underwear (desperately needed) $36 (Orig $115....can we say insane???)

Grand Total: $177 (Original prices Grand Total: $347 )
Wardrobe total: 3 shirts, 1 camisole, 2 pants, 1 pair of shoes, 12 underwear, 1 jacket.

It came to a bit more than I was hoping to spend, but the sales were incredible right now, and other than the jacket, I didn't really buy anything that I wouldn't have needed very soon, so I think I did pretty well. What do you all think? Now if only I had someone to take some fun pics, I would definitely post them!

Formerly single Mama to the zaniest boy on the block, born on my birthday on 3/28/07. Soon to be Mama to a new little and can't wait to bfinfant.gif and femalesling.GIF and familybed1.gif again! 
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#26 of 44 Old 01-17-2009, 08:39 PM
 
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Sounds like you did great!!!

Find someone to take the pics, please, please, please?
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#27 of 44 Old 01-17-2009, 09:14 PM
 
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Sounds great! Now, when you have time you might want to try to find some longer scarves at a thrift store to mix it up. And then maybe google "how to tie scarves." When I started wearing scarves, I would just fold and tie in a know. But there are a lot of options out there.

Bridget. Momma to DD (4), expecting DS - 9/09, wife to SAHD. Gardener, coffee addict, urban dweller.
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#28 of 44 Old 01-17-2009, 10:00 PM
 
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You did great!!

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#29 of 44 Old 01-18-2009, 11:57 AM
 
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If your school doesn't use bleach testing strips, please encourage them to order some. They will save your clothes (as well as be better for everyone's health.) Most of the time, bleach solution is mixed incorrectly (especially if there is chlorine in the tap water.) If you can smell the bleach in the solution, it's probably too strong. If your clothes are being bleached by the disinfecting solution, it's probably too strong.
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#30 of 44 Old 01-18-2009, 01:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Pictures!

Here is the original green shirt that I already owned with the new brown jeans.
Woven black 3/4 sleeve shirt.
Yellow/orange shirt and black jeans.
Grey shirt with brown jeans.
Jacket

Formerly single Mama to the zaniest boy on the block, born on my birthday on 3/28/07. Soon to be Mama to a new little and can't wait to bfinfant.gif and femalesling.GIF and familybed1.gif again! 
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