Fall Petite Wear-to-Work - Win a $25 Neiman Marcus Gift Card

***An update to this post can be found HERE***

No one has shared anything yet ... see original post below for details : )

An Unusual Alteration - Burberry, Part 3 - Black Wool Cashmere Coat

Can you spot the difference between the two pics?

Before --> After

We've all had hems shortened and waists taken in, but what about ... a lapel job? As many petites know, the key to a perfect fit is not just length and width. The key is the proportions. Clearly this rule of thumb was something that I overlooked when I acquired this coat in the cold early months of 2008.

I had been hunting for a basic black wool coat for a while, even before I started working. When I saw this coat, I immediately fell in love with the heavenly soft cashmere blend, the cuffed sleeves, and the waist-cinching self belt. So thus I somehow overlooked the floppy oversized collar. After wearing it just twice, several friends commented on the collar, and I slowly realized myself how silly I looked. To give you an idea of how big it was, the collar measured nearly 18 inches across (my shoulder width is only 14 inches). Thus, the coat was sadly put into storage for a year.

Last month, I randomly thought to take the coat to my tailors to see what they can do. Oh no, they said, this is a HUGE job. The collar and the coat itself was one piece, therefore, in order to alter the lapel, they would have to detatch coat from lining via the white piping (shown below) and re-shape the collar with no pattern, then reattatch the piping.

I pleaded, offering to compensate them fairly for their time, but the response: "It's not about the money. We would not forgive ourselves if we didn't do a perfect job on this coat, therefore we cannot accept."

Next stop, back to the Burberry store. They had done the initial alteration for me - shorten sleeves (as usual, they had refused to shorten the length or narrow the sleeves, because they thought the fit was fine...grr). The entire team of tailors were called down to evaluate my unusual request. "We cannot do this," Mr. Head Tailor said, "By policy we cannot alter the design of our coats. By minimizing this collar, it would no longer be Burberry." Sigh ... (insert dramatic eye roll)! I was certainly not trying to change the design. I loved the design and wanted to keep as much of it as possible, while making it proportional to my below-5 foot frame!

Needless to say I was very sad, and was ready to put this coat up for sale. But I just couldn't bear the thought of parting with it, so I took it back one more time to my personal tailors. After much hushed whispering in Korean and a thorough inspection of the coat, they must have taken pity on me ... and agreed to work on it!

End result:

Burberry Wool Cashmere Blend Coat, Sz 2 altered to fit a petite

In addition to removing 2 inches of material along the parameter of the collar, they moved the buttons over 1 inch on the belt so that it would be tighter. Very creative. One of the tailors said it took her an entire day of work ... and I couldn't be more pleased with the results!

It's unfortunate that there is no Burberry petite coats in their US retail stores. Nordstrom's online Burberry petite selection is so limited, plus a huge part of the coat buying experience is trying on different cuts and styles in person to find out what works for you.

Tried and True Tailors

So one reader asked where I take my belongings to get altered / tailored. Let me start off by saying I live in Boston where a quick google search will yield dozens of tailors to choose from within the city. Nevertheless, I make a monthly pilgrimage to Belmont, MA (ok, I exaggerate, it's only a 10 minute drive outside of the city) to my beloved Hemmingway Tailors.

This place is run by 2 Korean ladies, who have over 30 years of tailoring experience. I just love it that I can go there, try on my baggy clothes, and they will immediately start pinning away knowing exactly what needs to be done. After having precious stuff damaged by other tailors in Boston, I refuse to take my clothes anywhere other than Hemmingway (unless it's the Burb store, of course).

I've had no less than 50 pieces altered to perfection here. And as with any independently owned tailor shop, when I bring in several items at once I ask for a small discount, and they are usually happy to grant it.

Fellow petites, please feel free to share your tried and true tailor and the city in which he or she is located. I will post any shared information on the right hand side of my blog in hopes that others who live near you may find it useful.

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Fall Petite Wear-to-Work - Win a $25 Neiman Marcus Gift Card

*** The update to this post can be found HERE ***

Blogging about just my own wardrobe is no fun - I want to see what other petites are wearing and buying! I happen to have a $25 NM e-gift card sitting around, which may go to waste soon if I don't use it before it expires on November 15th. So all in all, a good excuse to hold this "giveaway" :

E-mail me (PetiteAsianGirl@gmail.com) a photo of you in your favorite Fall wear-to-work outfit.

Please include a brief description of:

1. Where the outfit is from, and
2. (only if you care to share) your sizing, for reference.

Of course, to protect your identity, please feel free to use a "nickname" and crop your face out of the photo or wear sunnies : )

(If you live somewhere that NM doesn't ship to, or if you just don't enjoy shopping there, please still feel free to share your cute Fall outfit!)

I will post entries and choose a winner one week from today, on November 4th, and email her the online code for a $25 Neiman Marcus gift card. Again, it expires on 11/15/09, and NM online currently has a free shipping at ANY price promo.

Not sure yet if the winner will be chosen or randomly drawn. Although, who am I kidding? I just started this blog a week or two ago, and probably only have 1 to 2 readers! I may receive no submissions, and will have to use that GC myself : )

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Rain, Rain, Go Away - Burberry, Part 2 - Black Trench Raincoat

The only upside to rainy days is that my water-resistant Burberry pieces get to come out and play. This brings me to my second Burberry coat: a single-breasted raincoat in size 2 with detachable hood and fleece warmer, acquired circa 2007 at a Burberry outlet store.

Looking back, the fit was so awful that I should have left it behind. But at the time, I knew that size 2 was the smallest size they make, and I was stubborn about "making" it fit. I think of this poor coat like a child whom has undergone many surgeries:

1. Burberry retail store shortened and narrowed the sleeves (barely), refused to do shoulders or the body.
2. Burberry retail store elongated the sleeves, having mis-pinned the first time and made them inches too short!
3. My tailor narrowed the shoulders by 1.5 inches each side, tapered the entire body of the coat, and slimmed sleeves a little more.

End result
(a little wrinkled from storage):

I like how there's many subtly different ways to wear this coat - hood on or off, collar up or down, with fleece warmer or without, belted or unbelted A-line style:

My coat had to undergo several stages of alterations because the tailors at the Burberry store often challenge or flat-out refuse my requests. For raincoats, they said they would not work on the shoulders, because all Burberry rainwear is dyed in one piece into water-resistant material, and any detatchment of individual pieces (like removing the arms from the shoulder) will cause damange to the water-resistancy. Another example - I wanted the sleeves slimmer but the Burberry tailor just kept scolding me repeatedly with "It's a coat, not a dress!" Ok...thank you for your opinion, but its my coat, so shouldn't I be able to decide?

As soon as I took the coat to my own tailor, she clucked her tongue at the poor fit and immediately started pinning away. She muttered in disapproval about how wide the shoulders were and how baggy the sleeves were. Sigh ... a good tailor is truly invaluable for us petites!

Theory Petite-Friendly Items & My New Suit

For my job interviews a few years back, I had just one sad pant suit from Banana Republic. But this was before they had expanded their sizing to offer more options for petite women in 00p and XXS. My suit was a 0p (smallest size I could find) and I pretty much swam in it. The suit was already expensive for my college budget, so it never crossed my mind to spend even more to alter a mediocre pant suit. Ended up selling this to a fellow petite after just 2 wears.

A year later I was no better off, with one H&M skirt suit lined up for the first week of work. The suit was cheap, and I spent more on alterations than the suit itself. I had it tailored relentlessly (shoulders, sleeves, waist, length) from a baggy size 4 to fit my small frame. I don't believe H&M makes suiting in size 2, which is fine I guess, because who wants to wear H&M suits anyways if they can fit into better stuff?

The weekend before I started work, I stumbled upon a Theory outlet store, which, looking back, was pretty much a life-changing event! The prices were eye-bulging for my fresh-out-of-school self, even though everything at the outlet was a good bit below retail. But the stuff was gorgeous ... tailored wool suit separates, beautifully dyed silk blouses, soft cashmere sweaters, dresses in contemporary silhouettes. I had to have it. Some current picks from Bloomies:

Not everything is suitable for tiny petite frames, though, but here are some things that work for me:

1. Theory slim / "skinny" work pants in 00. I am obsessed with these because they elongate short legs unlike flared or boot cut pants. Also, I can wear them with flats without ruining the bottoms. For boot cut pants, however, Mark B is the smallest cut of Theory pants I've found.

2. Theory stretch dresses in 0. 0 is the smallest size they make in dresses, and the ones in stretch fabric usually run quite small.

3. Theory classic blazers in 00. I own Gabe B, Branden, and Hayward, and only had to have sleeves shortened on each.

4. Theory knits and sweaters in size TP. I'm guessing this stands for tres petite? No idea. Size "P" is almost always too big.

I plan on posting my favorites from each of the above categories in the near future, but today's post is dedicated to my most recent find: a classic Theory tweed dress suit!

While shopping at Saks Off 5th last month, I discovered this lone jacket hanging on a rack. I was enamored by the fabric, "Dialogue," a fine-textured black tweed with specs of metallic silver. It was a cropped style in a size 00. The jacket fit great pretty much everywhere, with 1 problem - the bottom flared out, making me look pregnant and stout. It even looks bad on the model below!

I wasn't sure if this could be altered without ruining the overall shape of the jacket. But as I was pacing around the store debating, I stumbled upon the matching dress and my heart nearly stopped... it was a stretchy fabric shift dress in size 0! The petite clothing gods had bestowed upon me a perfectly coordinated, tiny Theory tweed dress suit at almost 70% off retail, and there was no way I was passing this up.

Thankfully, my tailor did a great job tapering that flared bottom:

Petite Tiered Skirts Pick - $30 H&M Jewel-Toned Skirts

Tiered skirts have been everywhere this Fall, with each store having their own version. They look so feminine and chic, I was determined to get my hands on one. Ann Taylor was the first place I spotted them, with this 100% silk asymmetrical version:

I loved the delicate design, but couldn't bring myself to shell out that much for a skirt. This came out a few months ago so it is all sold out online.

Next, BR jumped on the tiered bandwagon:

Although this one was less expensive than AT, it was 100% polyester. Eeks! I hate paying that much for polyester. Also, something was off about this design...not enough tiers or something. This came out recently, so it's still available at BR online and in stores.

Finally, I spotted these jewel-toned skirts at H&M. These come in black, fuschia, and teal green. H&M sizing is weird. The 2 usually fits super tiny, and sometimes I have to go up to a 4. These skirts are 100% polyester, just like BR, but I could get 2 colors for less than 1 at BR!

(H&M Ruffled Tank, BR Cropped Jacket)

H&M is usually low-quality, but there are some good picks. I try to find stuff in fabrics that look like they wont wrinkle, pile, snag, or fade easily. I've been wearing these skirts an awful lot over the past few weeks, and they've held up nicely! The size 2 measures 24 inches around the waist, but I get a bit of a tummy after each meal, so I got the black in a size 4:

Just for fun, here is an at-a-glance comparison of sizing between 3 skirts that I own, showing how inconsistent sizing can be:

1. Bottom-Most: Banana Republic print skirt in size 00p. Ill-fitting on me (hangs loose on hips, is poofy, and hits a yucky length that cuts my calves short).
2. Second from bottom: Banana Republic tweed skirt in 0p from previous post. Fits well on me. Is somehow smaller than the 00p underneath it.
3. Top: H&M skirt in size 2, has the tiniest waist out of the 3.

Banana Republic Tweed Pencil Skirt - Runs Tiny!

With the onset of winter, I've been keeping a keen eye out for textures in petite sizes. Tweed, boucle, basketweaves ... I want it all! Last winter I was unsuccessful in my search for the perfect basic tweed skirt, so imagine my joy when I came across these at Banana Republic (a store that I personally thought had gone downhill as of late with their petite fit).
Previously, I saw these pencil skirts on the BR website, but at $90 the price deterred me. But in person, these skirts exceeded my expectations. The tweed is a nice consistency, the metal zipper is solid and sturdy, and both colors were staple winter wardrobe colors. Not to mention, the fit is tiny! I expected the 00p to be big on me, as usual, but instead it was very fitted and showed a little too much curve for work. I wouldn't have been able to eat all day in it, so I actually opted for size 0P**:

**note...ended up sizing back down to 00P

Banana Republic Tweed Skirt in Black Combo, 0p, $89.50
(H&M black top and tights, Nine West pumps)

For some reason the waist looks bigger on this one:

Yay! Another no alterations needed purchase. My alterations bill this year has totaled great heights, so my wallet was thankful for this find. Final cost with 25% off coupon code = $67 for each skirt. To me this is still quite expensive for a skirt. I can't decide whether to keep both or just one!

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Petite Outerwear: Cute Picks from the Kids Department (shhh)

I'm not a fan of shopping in the kid's department, not to mention the proportions are usually all wrong. But how cute are these Fall/Winter finds? They don't look like they're for kids at all. Prices are still so steep, but much less than their adult counterparts.

1. Double breasted trench in kids size 10-14, $365.00 at Nordstroms:

2. Cropped Leather Jacket in kids 10-14, $695 at BurberryUSA online. Gray leather with zippers is so fierce. I'm completely jealous of any little girl that gets this gorgeous jacket!

Burberry kids size chart:

Petite Blouses: $36 Ann Taylor Silk Ruffle Blouse

I've been keeping my eye on Ann as of late. I used to think of it as a "mom" brand laden with twinset sweaters, maybe a brand that I'd wear to work 10 years down the road. But they've recently revamped their offerings to be more feminine, flirty, and contemporary.

After revisiting a store for the first time in years, I was surprised to find that the stuff was quite nice and not at all what I remembered (Loft hasn't changed, though). If pricing were not so steep (a good 40 ~ 50% more than BR), I would try more of this brand.

This blouse from Ann Taylor was a winner for me. It is 100% silk, has soft ruffles and a delicate detailed neckline, and the cut runs small. The store by me (sold out online) had this blouse in petite sizes galore and even 1 XXSP!

Petite Outerwear - Burberry, Part 1 - Pink / Cream Check Coat

For some ladies, it's purses. For others, its shoes. But for me, its coats. Living in the Northeast, winters can be long, cold and dreary, which is why I eventually turned to beautiful coats and winter accessories to put a smile on my face. But finding a coat that is beautiful, well-made, and perfectly petite sized can be a difficult and costly journey.

Enter Burberry, the iconic brand known for its timeless trenches and coats. Any retail-priced purchase comes with complimentary alterations done by their nimble tailors, so it's basically like getting a coat custom-fitted. Granted, pricing is steep, but for those who can afford it, it is well worth the occasional splurge. Also, be sure to sign-up for their seasonal in-store sale mailing list.

Here is my first Burberry purchase from 2006, back when I thought children's coats were my only choice. Let me just say, what a long way I've come since then! This is a kids coat, in a little girls size 12, purchased from eBay UK (photo courtesy of another eBay seller since I cannot find a pic of mine pre-alterations). Note the proportions designed obviously for children:

1. wide arms
2. small chest with roomy waist/hip area
3. short and stout overall

But the texture was rich, the colors were girly, and the lining was TDF, so I saw potential.

I took this coat to a Burberry retail store, and had the sleeves and torso area slimmed. End result:

Just look at this lining! Gorgeous roses with little "Burberry"s scripted in periwinkle:

Buying on eBay can be tricky, especially since there are usually no returns. I suggest always asking the seller for detailed measurements and comparing to your own items before buying. For this coat, I made sure that 1. the shoulders were the right width (shoulder alterations are $$$ and difficult), and 2. the sleeves were long enough since this was a kid's coat.

Alas, after I started working I ended up reselling this coat to a fellow petite. Since then I have graduated to adult sizing (more Burb posts to come), but frequently think back to this first Burberry and pray that it went to a good home!

About This Blog

If the title has not yet given me away, I am a petite Asian girl, standing just under 5 foot tall and weighing in at 90 to 95 lbs - depending on how good dinner was : ) For international friends, that is 152.4 cm and about 43kg. As fellow petites all know, it can be a challenge to build a polished and put-together wardrobe, especially for the workplace. Many a times I'll find myself resorting to the children's department, shamefully browsing the racks, pretending to be picking out a gift for that young niece. Although there may be a few good finds, the kiddy section is not the right solution!

This blog is about my experiences and challenges faced in the effort to build a polished petite wardrobe - for work, party, and play. More importantly, I'm hoping to seek suggestions, tips, and feedback from the community of extra tiny petites out there! There are few good resources on the net for petite fashionistas, but an excellent one (AlterationsNeeded) has inspired me to share my own experiences. The writer of Alterations Needed is a creative and charismatic lady, with great taste and even better suggestions, so I encourage readers to check out her site.
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