H&M Picks Continued - Cute, flattering skirts under $35

Ahh, back to reality, work, and studying. This will probably be my only post this week, since I have a huge exam this weekend which I cannot wait to get over with. But I wanted to share these great skirts which I picked up a week or two ago before they are no longer in stores, in case any readers wanted to go check them out in person.

On a separate note, Black Friday this year was tres disappointing for me - I hope readers had better luck! At midnight last Thurs, I visited (with high hopes) this outlet mall which had a ton of stores that I love - Saks Off 5th, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Ann Taylor outlet, AT LOFT outlet, Banana Republic outlet, plus much more. Somehow I managed to walk away with just a few Snuggies. It's so hard to find small petite sizes during chaotic sales like Black Friday, especially at discount department stores where you need time to dig.

Anyways, without further delay, back to the skirts. I continue to be surprised by the crafstmanship and wearable designs of H&M Trend, which can be obtained at prices only marginally higher than their regular stuff. Unfortunately, I think this line can only be found at stores in major cities like NYC, Boston, and San Francisico.

1. H&M "Trend" black / gray paneled high-waisted skirt. Size 2, $34.99.
At first glance, this looked just like a basic work skirt to me. Upon closer examination, however, I noticed it was actually quite trendy with lots of flattering details. This skirt has a banded waist with contrasting belt loops, contrasting side panels, pleated front panel, front pockets, and two back contrasting mock-pockets. Fully lined. The end result? An optical illusion that makes the wearer look like she has a small waist and curvy behind. Since I have minimal natural curves, I'm not complaining.

The key to the curvy illusion is the contrast side panels coupled with a very narrow bottom opening. Since there was so much going on at the bottom of this skirt, I paired it with a plain black tee and a thin black belt. I just adore the front pockets:
Click "Read More" for more skirts.

An Easy Alteration - Tapering the shape of a skirt or dress

As I am headed home for Thanksgiving, this will be my last post for the week. To my US readers: have a wonderful holiday! And don't forget about Black Friday deals. I am envious of those who live in the NYC and the LA area, near the supposedly awesome Woodbury Common and Desert Hills Premium Outlets. I've never been to either but I hear their Thanksgiving Midnight Madness is truly madness!

So ever since I found a good tailor whom I can trust, my outlook on shopping has changed. Instead of asking "Will this fit?" I now ask "Does this have the potential to fit?" Now, whenever I see something nice on eBay for a good price, I make mental alterations to see what can be done, if needed.

This is a Theory Gamia combo dress that I found on eBay in a size 0 last month. It's nothing special in the pics, but I thought it had the potential to become a welcome addition to my winter work wardrobe. The top is a knit black stretch fabric (which, from past experience, I was pretty sure would fit me) and the bottom is a unique gray and black textured material over an ivory underlay.
I instantly took a dislike, however, to the full and swingy A-line skirt. Unless it's Halloween and I'm a 50's poodle girl, I try to stay away from such skirts as they tend to overwhelm tiny petites.

It even looks too full and matronly for the Theory model who is probably at least 5'10" plus heels, so imagine how it looked on me. Unfortunately, this was when I just started blogging, so I wasn't yet in the habit of taking before-and-after pics.
I figured that the skirt would be an easy alteration, and went ahead and bought the dress. When I tried it on at Hemmingway Tailors, they instantly tsk tsk tsk'd at the huge skirt and started pinning away. They recommended shortening to right above the knee, and changing the A-line to a more tapered shape. Click "Read More" to see the end result.

Chanel-Inspired Details - H&M Black and White Tweed Skirt, $39.95

It's hard for me to talk about tweed without thinking of Coco Chanel, who pioneered the iconic tweed suit for women. Since Chanel clothing is quite far out of my price range, I'm always on the lookout for affordable pieces that embody CC-inspired details. Tweed, quilting, pearls, satin bows, camelia flowers, chain hardware - sigh, so elegant and timeless. I love it all!!
From left to right: Coco Chanel in pearls and bows (how lovely are her pearls?), felted camelia pin, black/white tweed snippet, and lilac classic flap from www.Malleries.com.

I already added 2 tweed pieces to my wardrobe this Fall (Banana Republic pencil skirt and a Theory dress suit), but both are work basics and not fun nor chic enough for weekend wear. So when I came across this super petite-looking tweed miniskirt from H&M Trend, I think I yelped a little with joy.

Black & White tweed miniskirt with grossgrain ribbon trim and mock pockets - Size 2, $39.95.

I had a little sticker shock when I saw the price on this skirt, but it is H&M "Trend" which runs more expensive. On that note, I was truly impressed by the workmanship on this skirt - much better than anything I've ever seen in their regular department. The tweed is a tight crosshatch material (looks pretty darn similar to the snippet of Chanel tweed shown above), the skirt is fully lined with piped trim at the inside waistband, and the grossgrain ribbon trim is sturdily stitched on.
And look, if you live in Sweden, you can even order the corresponding jacket online. Wouldn't ever want to wear it together with the skirt, but wouldn't this jacket be adorable with a black or white camelia flower pin? Why do Swedes get all the fun stuff? Better Ikea selection, better H&M selection, H&M online shopping ...
Click "Read More" to see more pics of this adorable skirt.

Cute Holiday Mini Dresses - $19.99

As the holiday season is approaching, I can't contain myself to just boring old work clothes. Give me cute mini skirts and cute holiday dresses! Target has a myriad of combo dresses in the juniors department that have the same exact structure - stretchy tee or tank top, combined with elastic waistband and an A-line bottom. They have great reviews on Target.com, probably because the aforementioned structure/cut is waist-cinching and flattering for a range of body types.

One of these dresses in particular caught my eye, because of its unique elbow-length sleeves (love this length, different from typical tank or 3/4 length) and colorful, festive brocade printed skirt. It was all sold out in sizes except for a lone XL, so I immediately went home to find it online.

Bleh! As usual, the photo on target.com looks mediocre at best. Seriously, if they got better models, stylists, and photographers, these dresses would probably sell 10x as fast. What's with those clunker rubbery looking mary janes? This is a party dress, and it needs party heels!

Anyways, my size XS arrived yesterday. Since it is stretchy and in juniors sizing, it fits great!! Click "Read More" for more modeling pics : )

The Look for Less - American Eagle Bomber Jacket

While browsing American Eagle's website for tiny cashmere sweaters per AN's post, I stumbled across this jacket:
Looks familiar? I thought this bore a tiny bit of resemblance to my Burb jacket down to the belt, side zipper closure, and sleeve zippers, but for much less!

I can see this cropped jacket worn with a longer top and leggings. I especially love this one in solid navy:
At only $69.95 plus a coupon code posted by AN, this jacket is a steal. Plus, it comes in a tiny XXS so it has the potential to fit petites right off the rack! Click here for the link.

Ways to Wear It - $15 H&M Convertible Strapless Dress

I stopped by H&M after work yesterday, and surprisingly found sooo much cute stuff in small sizes! I went to town on their "Trend" line, which is sold only at select stores across the country (available at the Newbury St. location in Boston). H&M Trend is a little more expensive than their regular line, but is more fashion-forward and better constructed, using better materials. After I discovered Trend, I rarely ever shop in the regular section anymore. I picked up several skirts today from H&M Trend, to be showcased later when lighting is better - stay tuned!

Today the focus is on a simple dress from H&M's "Divided" juniors line. The dress is belted with a nice sweetheart neckline, which I instantly liked for layering over tops. There were literally piles of this dress available in every size, re-priced (not on sale) from $29.50 to a mere $14.50. I saw it in black and purple, out of which I chose boring black. Apparently, in Sweden in comes in electric blue as well:

I got a size 4, thinking that since it was juniors it would run small, but it doesn't. The 4 is too big in the bust area for me, so it's being exchanged for a sz 2. As expected, there's nothing outstanding about the quality nor material of this dress, but the fit was decent and I thought it was a great deal for the price. I also found it to be quite versatile!

1. Cocktail
Worn plainly, with the straps removed. Replaced the original belt for a wider elastic one in size XS (also found at H&M today for $10!). Ankle-strap stilettos are from BCBG.

Click "Read More" to see more ways to wear this bargain dress.

New Jacket Reveal - Burberry Part 4 - Felted Plaid Jacket

I've been seeing flannel and plaid jackets everywhere this year, most ubiquitously at retailers like H&M, Forever 21, and Urban Outfitters which cater to youngsters. I have to admit, the trend does seems to look best on those with "grungy chic" style, paired with their skinny jeans and worn-out vans slip-ons. I less often see it done right as part of a professional wardrobe. For something that's on-trend yet stylish and work-appropriate, I turned to the master of both check and outerwear: Burberry!

Although there was a large selection at the Burb store, I came in with predetermined requirements. I knew what I didn't want: no logo Nova check, no shiny materials, no long length (all my coats are long!). Features that I wanted: warm, flannel-like material, style that could be worn for both work and casual, in a nice monochromatic color scheme.

There was only 1 item at the store that met all of my above requirements, and... I happened to love it!
A felted jacket in navy, gray, and charcoal plaid immediately caught my eye amongst the more conservative and classic offerings by Burberry this year. Although classic is timeless, sometimes you just want something a little more interesting. The jacket I found was warm and cozy, and made edgier by lots of heavy duty zippers and hardware. I tried on a size 2 and although it was a little big, I could tell it was definitely workable. The shoulders - very 1st thing I look at - fit perfectly and all the proportions seemed on-point, or at least alterable. Even if the buttons or belt loop placements were off, those could have been easily altered.

During the fitting, I requested the torso be slimmed, and the sleeves shortened and slimmed. As I had expected (and feared), the tailors said the only alteration they believed was needed was the shortening of the sleeves. Since they've done this to me before, I came prepared this time and was determined not to be a pushover again! I also wonder since the alterations are complimentary (for full retail priced items), whether they are used to pushing for as little adjustments as possible. Although I valued their opinion, I wanted the alterations done right the first time - per my own preferences. After some more bickering, the head tailor agreed, muttering under his breath about how it was going to cost one of his staff an entire day's work. He then barked at my SA for a smaller size, but Burberry currently does not carry petite coats nor sizes below a 2 in the US.

Anyways, the haggling with the tailor was well worth it, because I was very pleased with the end result. They did a meticulous alteration job, especially with the realignment of the check pattern and working with the hardware.

Thanks to my friend, I was able to sneak in some "before" photos in the fitting room to show the alterations : )

Front (Sleeves shortened and slimmed. Sleeve buckles were removed and reattached, zippers were cut and re-clamped):
Before --> After

Before --> After

Back (torso was taken in 1 inch along each of the two back seams, where the belt loops are, to create more of a "waist" shape):
Before --> After

End result, belted - love it for casual wear with skinny jeans and ankle boots:

Or for going to work with slim-cut pants and pumps:

Burb is all about the details:

So to summarize, some tips for petite women shopping for a coat:

1. Ask a knowledgeable sales associates to recommend slim-cut styles or cuts that run small for the season. I do this at Burberry and the Theory outlet and have gotten a few good recommendations out of it.

2. Make sure that the shoulders fit and that the unalterable aspects (collar size comes to mind) are right. Although I've had both done, shoulder and lapel alterations are difficult and costly - often not worth the risk. Coat length and width are usually alterable, but make sure you go to a good tailor and expect to pay anywhere from $40 to the hundreds.

3. Know the way you like things to fit, and make sure you get the exact alterations you want despite what the tailor says. Definitely take their suggestions into consideration, but in the end you are the one paying for and wearing the coat so there should be no reason to make compromises.

Although, I admit I used to have tiny-fit syndrome. I was so sick of having ill-fitting clothes that I would get everything altered almost skin tight. With alterations, it's helpful to leave a little leeway (or ask the tailor to maintain a seam allowance) in case of future changes in tastes or weight gain : )

4. If you're interested in a new coat and happen to be in the Boston area, go, go, go to my sales associate (John Doherty). He's been at Burberry forever and knows womens trench coats and outerwear unlike anyone I've ever met. John works Tuesday through Sunday at the 2 Newbury St store, and it's better to go during weekdays for a peaceful shopping experience. I usually call in just to make extra sure he's working before I make the trip.

Aside from him being the coat guru, I love John because he treats everyone with the same respect regardless of spending ability - now wouldn't it be nice if all SA's were that way? I used to visit that store as a poor college student, decked out in A&F and H&M, clearly with no intention to spend money. Regardless, John treated me equally if not better than the lady with the 3 Chanel shopping bags. Now that I'm an actual customer, he has also dissuaded me from buying something that he does not think looks great on me (point in hand - I was at JCrew this weekend couldn't resist trying on the Carlin coat. It was swimmingly ill-fitting on me, yet 2 sales associates came over to gush about how great I looked). It's service like that which makes me not regret the money spent!

Eagerly Awaiting: Foot Petals Shoe Cushions

Look what the mailman delivered today!

When the ankle boot trend came along last year (or was it 2007?), I missed the train. Being a skinny jean and tights aficionado, ankle boots were the #1 item on my must-get list, but I was not able to find a single suitable pair. I tried on so many styles ... shaft too high (awkwardly between mid-calf and ankle), shaft too low (cut into ankles), cheap-looking leather... the problems go on.

I saw these CK nappa leather and elastic booties on my friend, and knew I had to have them. Unfortunately that was many seasons ago. As luck would have it, I randomly came across a pair on eBay this week in a do-able size, for only $35! Yay!
But look at that smooth slippery sole. I bought those self stick-on grip soles but the glue was weak and they fell off almost immediately. So I think these need to go to a cobbler to get some traction soles applied. Anyone ever had that done and know the approximate cost?

Also, the insoles are equally smooth and rock-hard. Even though there is no risk that my foot will fall out of these, there is an immense amount of sliding around (these are size 6) and I know I'm bound to get blisters. Not to mention, the heel height is 4 inches - a bit more than what conservative me is accustomed to!

So per a tip from Nukem, I checked out the Foot Petals website. To see my loot, click "Read More."

Shoes to wear with tights - Target Heels - $27 to $33

I don't know if I'm the only one who has this problem, but when wearing tights or pantyhose my feet just won't stay put in my pumps. The tights make my feet extra slick, thus prone to constant slippage. This has been the cause for many embarrassing moments like when I once lost both shoes getting off the subway.

Solution - wear strappy heels.

Oh, did I also mention that I work in a city with the worst paved streets ever? Cracked cement sidewalk one block, then brick, then uneven pebbled stone (don't even get me started on the Fanueil Hall area). As much as I crave Jimmy Choos and Blahniks and those super coveted Louboutins, I know that it's just not practical for me to spend that much money on day-to-day shoes (maybe for special events : ) ). It breaks my heart to see even my Nine West heels broken and scuffed up, so I can only imagine how I'd feel if I damaged premier shoes.

Solution - wear affordable strappy heels that hopefully don't look as cheap as they cost.

Enter, Target. I'm definitely not proud to say that I wear shoes from Target. But as someone who just dropped several days' salary on a jacket (post to come soon), I have to cut back somewhere! So here are some affordable picks from my fave big box discount retailer:

1.Merona Reta Platform Pumps, $32.99, in gray suede with faux-patent leather trim.

These are hot, but an obvious risk is the "faux" patent. I wanted to see them in person, but these are online-only. Good news is, the Reta platform pump has received nothing but stellar reviews on Target.com. They have a solid 5 stars from 20+ reviewers. Better news is, it comes in a spectrum of winter-friendly colors - gray, ruby, black, and teal (but why did they do that icky gold lining?):
Bad news is, they haven't had my size in stock for ages. I wear a 5 to 5.5 in most shoes (for reference, the soles of my feet are a tiny bit over 8.5" long), but for "Merona" I sometimes size up to a 6. There's a strap, anyways, so my feet won't slip out even if it's a lil big. Sz 6, come back in stock!!!

Click "Read More" for more picks.

Trial and Error: 3 Petite Skirts for Work

As a tiny petite, shopping is always trial and error. But that's probably for the better. If everything I tried on always fit perfectly, then my wallet would probably be hurting something major by now.

Anyways, lately I've been trying to find some new fitted pencil skirts for my currently lackluster work wardrobe. I wanted something conservative, but not too boring like my wool suiting skirts which I wear almost every day. First stop, Ann Taylor ...

1. Perfect Petite Ponte Pencil Skirt. Retail $80. This skirt caught my eye a while ago because it looked very nice and curve-hugging on the model. It was one of their classic "looks" for the season, so I had high hopes:

At $80, I was hesitant, but last week it was part of their "perfect pieces" sale for half price. Even though I know they don't carry 00p in stores, I wanted to try it on in person just to see if there was any potential:

Model ---> Me

The fit was just "ok." The waistband on a 00p should fit a lil' better, but the length would still need to be hemmed. The material was stretchy and comfortable. But one major issue - the ponte knit was so thin and unlined, I tried on a variety of tops ranging from a basic tee to thin silk blouses, and wasn't able to tuck anything into the skirt without major crinkles and bunching showing. The model must be wearing shapewear, or the pic was photoshopped!

Verdict: No buy. Not being able to tuck shirts in is a deal-breaker. This skirt was too little craftsmanship even for $40.

Click "Read More" for more skirts.

What I'm loving right now - Banana Republic sheath dress + teardrop earrings

I picked up this outfit at the Banana Republic After5 sale last week, only to find out that they are having another 30% off everything "give and get" sale starting this Thurs! I feel like the sales and coupon codes there are never-ending (not complaining of course). Here are my "success" purchases from last week:

1. BR ponte sheath dress with ruffled shoulder, size 00p. Retail $130 on sale for $44, plus extra 30% off from the After5 event = a solid $30.80 in no-apparel-tax-Massachusetts : ) I can't find this anywhere online so it must be old.

This is a nice dress for the final price. The upside to ponte knit is, it's stretchy and fitted so it works for petites. The downside to that is, it's stretchy and fitted so usually there is no lining. And when there's no lining ... bulges become evident in inconvenient locations. Had to try on about 5 pairs of undies to wear under this unforgiving material. Who knew I would have to start investing in shapewear at 22?

2. BR bow teardrop earrings, Retail $36 sale $19.99 final price $14 + change after sales and discounts. These are a heavier metal, in a nice pewter color. I love these so much I've been wearing them every day since Thursday! For anyone who is interested, these are still available online. Use BRNOV25 for 25% your online purchase of $100 or more through Wednesday, or possibly wait until Thursday for their 30% off give and get sale.
These look so lovely together!

While at BR, I also popped into Ann Taylor to try on some basic work skirts I've been long eyeing from online. Stay tuned for the results : )
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