Monday, January 31, 2011

Banana Republic Petites Review - Hits n' Misses

My Banana Republic order arrived and my feelings are lukewarm. First up is this cable shrug. It's cozy, it's warm, it's soft, it fits nicely...but for some reason that I can't put my finger on...I just don't love it. I'm going to sleep on this one. I can definitely see myself wearing it, but is deserving of $35 and coveted wardrobe space?
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Sweater: Banana Republic Cable Shrug in PXXS (buy here - use BRJAN30 for another 30% off))
Jeans: Gap Legging Jeans in "faded dark" sz 00P (buy here)
Suede Booties: Adrienne Vittadini "Adam" sz 5.5 (buy here on final sale)

Trying it on with trousers (Theory "Mark B" sz 00) for biz-casual:
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If you're around my height, the length of this sweater is good for leggings. The length in the back will cover up some tush, but you'd still need a longer top underneath to conceal dreaded camel toe.
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I got these Adrienne Vittadini ankle boots in size 5.5 during my last order. I haven't heard of this brand before but it wasn't a bad price for suede. I love my CK ankle booties to pieces and wanted a similar pair in a different material. These run small! I wish I ordered size 6, as the 5.5's are very snug with socks on. If you look at the Piperlime reviews several of the ladies agree that these run about half to one size small. Other than that I am happy with the silhouette and quality.
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The second item I got from BR (can't find it online anymore) doesn't really warrant a review. This is me saying wtf to a size XXS Petite:
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I am going to end this post with some quick and dirty fitting room reviews:

1. 3/4 sleeve wrap dress in Petite XS (no PXXS in stores). This fit okay with just a little too much "wrap" fabric, but I can see one size down being perfect. The proportions were right. However I want to stop buying blacks and grays. I think that will be my goal for this season, starting....now.

2. Brigitte Double-Knit Ruffle Dress (2 colors) in 00P. The ruffle detail doesn't strike me as classic or feminine. Instead it felt more like an Elizabethan collar. Fit-wise, the top was fine but hips were VERY roomy on me.

3. Maria Lace-Trimmed Sheath in sz 00P. This was my favorite out of the 3 and I still didn't really like it. For a cocktail dress, the sultry top portion is right but the bottom is much too drab and not fitted. For a work sheath, the bottom is okay but the top is much too va-va-voom. I can't imagine an occasion to wear this dress to. See it on Cher here.
Verdict on everything: Paaass - except maybe keep the first cardigan.

Readers - Do you own (or have you tried on) any of the above? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

J.Crew & YesStyle Snow Day Outfits

I picked up this J.Crew tee on final sale this week (several colors in XXS left at my local stores) and am trying to pair the gold with everything. An XXS fit me perfectly, but it's stretching out a little with each wear. Hopefully a wash and dry will shrink it back down to size.
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Tee: J.Crew Perfect Fit BoatneckTee in XXS (buy here for $9)
Wool Skirt: YesStyle "The Mari" brand size S/55
Cable Tights: Heritage 1981 sz S/M (buy here)
Booties: Target sz 5.5

I can't find this exact skirt on YesStyle anymore, but here is an affordable option (it's available in one size SMALLER than the one I'm wearing!). I'm interested in getting this in ivory or gray, but what is that little "hand-made" tag on the front? I sure hope it is removable.

As for sizing, the skirt I own in size S/55 fits like an XXS, but every brand may fit differently. Be sure to check the provided measurements. If you are ordering, code EXTRAPETITE gives you $5 off.

Disclosure - YesStyle.com is an advertiser on my blog, however I am not affiliated with the company in any other way. I do not earn a commission, and the item shown here was purchased by me. 
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Thanks to a tweet by the thoughtful Vicky, I picked up a second Lady Day Coat in the "cobblestone" color - a dark, taupe gray. It's quite boring given the spectrum of colors that their coats come in, but it's...me.  I don't need two, so after some deliberation I'm selling my olive green Lady Day Coat in 0P with Thinsulate (see review and measurements). Email me if you're interested. 
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Here is a tip to add some color to a neutral winter coat - a vivid silk scarf! I know silk scarves rarely come out in the winter but I couldn't resist. After some trial and error, I settled on the following method:
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1. Using one hand, tuck one end of the scarf securely into your coat.
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2. Using the other hand, cross the other end until it overlaps, and then tuck it securely under.
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3. Fluff. End result:
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(buy here - 0P gone in regular but left in Thinsulate)
Silk Scarf: thrifted

The sales are still going strong at petite-favorite retailers. I've recently had luck in-store at LOFT and J.Crew (additional 50% off sale items at both). Here's a pic of a top I just picked up at LOFT which I adore for tucking into skirts, and here's the tag info ($15). Happy shopping!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Petite Fashion Challenge #5: Non-Gloomy Winter Work Wear

For new readers, visit this thread for more information on past challenges or to find out about future ones.

This month's challenge is hosted by Cynthia, a Toronto petite and writer of Shorty Stories. Visit her blog to see her entry and links to everyone's participating outfits. The challenge:

"It's winter in the northern hemisphere...the challenge this month is to brighten your work wardrobe. Create a sophisticated work-appropriate look that has no more than one dark piece (excluding shoes, accessories and hosiery)."

I immediately had an outfit in mind. My coworker styled a "winter brights" outfit for me not too long ago, involving a vintage purple skirt and ruffly floral top. Alas, on picture day I misplaced my beloved floral top (as seen in this post). Unable to find other prints or brights in my tiny closet, I had to make do with this plain ole cream blouse. Now this outfit hardly qualifies for the challenge : /
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Blouse: H&M sz 2, fits like 00
Pencil Skirt: Ann Taylor sz 2 (vintage) 
Heels: Ann Taylor Perfect Pumps sz 5  Cameo Bracelet: Topshop

Everything in this outfit is old, but loved. The blouse I got last year after seeing Ping style it so nicely, and the skirt is a Savers thrift store find. I came across an Ann Taylor size 2 pencil skirt and was amazed by how small it looked. I slipped it on and the waist was a perfect, snug fit! It just needed slimming along the hips, and shortening, as it wasn't petites. Crazy to think that current-day Ann Taylor skirts in sz 00P may still require costly waist and hip alterations (an inflation of THREE sizes!).
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I wonder how old this is? Can you judge by the tag?

But would it be worth the cost of alterations? My eyes raced to the material tag. 100% wool and fully lined - test passed! The skirt itself was just $5, so even with the cost of dry cleaning ($5) and alterations ($20), it came out to be much cheaper than any other pencil skirt I own. When thrifting, I encourage you guys to look for unique colors, prints, or textures in skirts that are made with quality materials. If only simple alterations are needed, you can end up with a "different" piece at a great price.

My beloved Hemmingway tailors:
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Side/back view to show how small the vintage sz 2 waist fit (I am ~5 ft, 90 lbs):
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Oh, just to reiterate how tiny the closet is in my Boston apartment...this is IT. It's 2.5 feet wide, shallow, plus I share it with a boy with large clothes (lots and lots of flannel). I've no choice but to hold another blog sale soon to make way for recent purchases. Maybe next Thursday night (Feb 3rd)?
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Be sure to visit Shorty Stories to see all the other outfits. This has been a:

J.Crew beauty final sale (Essie for J.Crew Swatches)

J.Crew is having an additional 50% off sale items in-store right now. Although there were no petite items to be found, my local store had a few great deals on collaboration items (which make great gifts!).

My friend picked up the Stila for J.Crew lipgloss trio for $12 (three FULL size tubes - currently online for 40% off) which includes three juicy colors - Grapefuit, Starfruit, and Rasperry. They also had singles in-store for $5 each. She already loves these lip glazes and was thrilled to find more at such a low price. She also got the Cosabella lace thong trio for $18 (individually sold for $19 each).
I got the little Essie box containing baby-sized jars of Jelly Apple (a candy red), Clam Bake (red-orange), Innocent (dusty mauve-pink), and Prima Ballerina (pale, pink-cream). Retail $20, on final sale for $5. Swatches in order:
The two brights were super easy to apply (runnier formula). Above is two coats with no top coat. The pinks were creamier and streakier to apply. I love all these colors for Spring/Summer.

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I think Clam Bake is the most universally-flattering bright shade. I've seen a similar shade in their catalogs against pale-skinned models and I can see it looking just as nice against dark or tanned skin.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Banana Republic Petites...long time no visit (75%+ off)

*UPDATE: BR12HOURS gives you 35% off your entire order, ends January 25th, midnight*

The petite blogging community hasn't been giving Banana Republic much love lately (the regular store, that is...the outlet has been getting plenty of love this month). My last purchase from there was 7 months ago!

In search of a wrap dress, I went on earlier and saw that there were many deals to be had. BRWINTER30 (expired) gives you an extra 30% off everything. I also used ebates for 6% cash back (referral link), plus they have free ship every day now for orders over $50.

1. First up, this Double Cable Placket Shrug, now just $35 from $140, in two colors and left in sizes Petite XXS-M. I do not love how it looks in the stock photo. Looking past the failed menswear mish-mash and dudly fit, I see a cozy cocoon sweater with pretty details, perfect for lounging in with legging jeans. The lambswool/modal/cashmere blend sounds promising. Only 1 lone review, but it's 5 stars. I ordered this in charcoal. Update: See a twitpic on PetiteLG in size regular XS (not petites).

2. Second (a deal shared by Well Heeled Blog) - this Ruffle Pencil Skirt. Just $21 from $90 and left in 00P, 0P, and more. I skipped on this because I foresee alterations needed.

3. Two faux-wrap dresses left in XXS Petite - this 3/4 Sleeve Dress ($35 from $98) and the slouchier Annie dress ($28 from $130). The former has LOTS of reviews, but they are a mixed bag (several ladies said it runs small). The latter has just 2 reviews, both lukewarm. I purchased the latter. 

4. Lastly, I saw that BR has a new set of lightweight long cardigans in Petite XXS - L, in a range of 6 undeniably Spring-y colors (plus black). The price is still a bit much at $42 from $70, but I wonder if these will become as popular as the LOFT long cardis once they get discounted further.

Expect a review soon on #1 and #3 above. The current sale in-store is another 50% off sale items. The mens sale is fantastic - the bf picked up a couple of merino wool V-neck sweaters for $6.50 a piece (from $60). Vicky blogged about her family-friendly accessory finds here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How to Look Taller: Heels & a Hem

The Banana Republic outlet dress is back from the tailors. I tried to save $20 and spent 2 hours painstakingly ironing and hemming it by hand (recently got rid of my sewing machine...smacks head), but gave up at the lining. I took it to my trusty Korean tailors and they were aghast at my crooked stitching. Shaking their heads and clucking their tongues, they tore apart my hard work, but thankfully charged me a pity price of just $10.
It's no secret that heels are a petite gal's best friend, but let's revisit the importance of wearing the right skirt/dress length (old post here). For this, I pinned and re-pinned and finally settled on right above the knee:

Before (left) and After (right)
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Sheath dress: Banana Republic outlet size 00P (tag info here - they ship for $5)
Heels: Ann Taylor Perfect Pumps sz 5 (a work staple!)
Flats: Tory Burch  80" 7-8mm freshwater pearls: eBay  Flower: J.Crew outlet

Shorter is not always better when it comes to length. Higher-waisted dresses can get away with a shorter hem (see altered Theory dress here), but regular-waisted dresses such as this one need a sufficiently long skirt length to make it look balanced and proportional. The right skirt length makes the entire look more refined all-around.

Side view - before (left) and after (right)

Back view - before (left) and after (right)
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The belt was a smidge too big and long, but I couldn't use my trusty hole puncher because it was fabric. I ended up just poking the prong where I wished there was a hole, and then pulling the belt through:
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 I know several petites also picked up this dress. It retails for $99 but the BR outlet frequently has sales. I picked it up for 40% off, and you can use your AAA card for another 10% off. Check out this thread in the AlterationsNeeded forum to see how it looks on Annie, Aubrey, and Megan. Hopefully the other ladies who got this from DoubleZero will post their pics so I can borrow some styling ideas!
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Mustard Cardigan: Martin & Osa sz XS (similar here for $25) 
Belt: Banana Republic Outlet sz XS   Pearls: eBay

A hem job is a simple but critical alteration for certain items, especially if you're petite. It's a shame my tailor charges $20+ (more for lined items). I wish I had the time and patience to do my own alterations.


Readers - Do you always get your items altered to fit perfectly? If so, do you DIY or shell out for the alterations?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

How to resize / make a ring fit smaller using tape

UPDATE: For a more semi-permanent solution, try foam tape, as shown here. It's the best!

Recently I figured out a trick to fix rings that are too big for small fingers. I've tried the rubber band tip before and it nearly cut off my circulation, so I was thrilled to find a new method that was easy, comfortable, and cheap. This isn't a permanent fix, which is nice if you like to switch up the fingers on which you wear your rings. Short demo:


(In video) Blouse - H&M     Earrings - F21 teardrops   Lipstick - e.l.f. "Classy"-$1

Change the 360P to 1080P HD for best quality : )   Resized rings in action:
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Lately I've been loving Forever 21 rings that come in numerical sizing (avoid the stretchy one-size-fits-all bands that are still too big). Their size 6 is more like a 5, and fits me almost perfectly. Currently I like this Oversized Beaded Ring in coral, and this Emerald Ring in light brown.

Nail polish in the video is ULTA "Chic Peek" ($5 or less) which is a glittery dark purple-gray. I heart it. These are frequently on BOGO, which works with their plentiful coupons good for online or in-store use.
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Coat: J.Crew Lady Day Coat size 0P (buy here)
Faux Fur Collar: H&M (similar here)
Ankle Booties: Calvin Klein (similar here, on sale & highly rated)

The H&M faux fur collar proves its versatility yet again. This weekend I dressed up my coat with the warm collar and a waist belt. I hope those interested in this coat were able to snag it with the 40% off sale (code MUSTHAVE, ends tonight).
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Sunnies: Chanel Wayfarers Style #5182

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Readers - any other tips for fixing rings that are too big?
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