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 : /

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!).

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:

Side/back view to show how small the vintage sz 2 waist fit (I am ~5 ft, 90 lbs):

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)?

Be sure to visit Shorty Stories to see all the other outfits. This has been a:

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)
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)

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:
 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!
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?

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:

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.
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).
Sunnies: Chanel Wayfarers Style #5182


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

A 2nd Look: Petite Friendly H&M Navy Striped Blazer

After reading Alterations Needed's compelling review, I popped into an H&M tonight to give this nautical blazer another chance. I tried this on at a San Diego H&M, thinking it was reminiscent of the Anthropologie Hello Sunday blazer as seen on Chloe and Tiffany. Unfortunately, the boyfriend thought it was more reminiscent of prison garb - plus the price is hefty for H&M ($40 + tax) - so I left it behind.
Kelly did a really thorough review, so check out her post for measurements of a size 2, plus the tag containing the item #.  I figured I would post these pics to show how it fits on someone a little bigger than her. For reference, right now I'm a little under 5 ft, 90 lbs.
H&M Navy Striped Blazer - sz 2 (fits like 00 petite)

This blazer is seriously tiny. The photo above is how it lies naturally on me, with the front wide open. The material is a stretchy 73% polyester/23% viscose/4% elastane blend. I can stretch it to button it up, but it's less comfortable.
I'm still debating whether or not to keep this. Readers, would you pay $40 for this bold polyester jacket? I envision it with a short summery dress underneath, possibly muted floral print, or with a classic crisp white sheath. I currently don't own any of the above, so that could be a problem.

Edit: After reading Justine and Steph's comments below...I can't get the umpire or beetlejuice visuals out of my head! Blazer is going back. $40 saved!
Who wears it better? I think him.

While there I also fell in love with this sparrow-print, pinkish-cream bow headband. It would suit someone who is Japanese kawaii-cute, or hipster chic. I am neither, so I left this behind at $5.95.

Next I stopped by Marshalls to browse the small shoes. I saw a number of Diane Von Furstenburg leather boots on clearance for $69. Retail price was over $400 and the original price at Marshalls was $200+. The size 5.5 fit perfectly around the calves, but the shaft was too tall and covered my knee. The leather was pliable, so I folded down about 3 inches and tucked it into the shaft. Here's how they look post-tucking:
I hemmed and hawed over buying these, but in the end the color turned me away. I initially thought these were black, but they're actually "grape" - a deep dark purple. I will probably not find boots that fit this narrow for a looong time...sighs! Readers - would you have bought these in "grape" for $69?

InStyle Magazine's "Top Brands" for Petites

Last night I had a pleasant surprise when a sweet reader (thanks so much, Thu!) and the ever fabulous Anh of 9to5chic shared some snapshots from February 2011's InStyle magazine:
I had a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart seeing the petite blogging community get some positive press. If you haven't joined the Alterations Needed forum for petites yet...I love Kelly's forum for asking and answering questions on fit, reading recommendations, and also buying or selling (or requesting) petite-friendly items. It's a great way for bloggers and non-bloggers alike to join in on the fun.

That aside, I had a few eyebrow raises reading through the top suggested brands for petites. Keeping in mind that "petite" is being used here to indicate short (under 5'4") versus small overall, I'm still not sure how InStyle whittled the world of petite offerings down to this eclectic list.

Topshop and BCBG? Although I like both (I am a huge fan of Topshop's tiny size 0P), both retailers' petite lines are extremely limited and difficult to find/purchase. Anne Klein? Suiting starts only at 2P, plus their website was impossible for me to navigate for petite items. Target? I guess they do have Merona petites, but my orders were always too "blah" to blog about.

Where is the petite-favorite Ann Taylor? Or Talbots? And my boyfriend's first reaction: "Gasp, where is Theory?" Lol! I realize brands like Theory and H&M don't have petite lines and would never be glorified as petite brands, but they retain the top spots in my heart as awesome brands for tiny ladies.

Readers - What do you think of the recommended brands? What are your personal favorite brands for petites?

Theory Outlet Finds: The Gratian Blazer Saga

I randomly stopped by the outlets after Christmas (unplanned, I swear!) and was overjoyed to stumble upon the Theory "Gratian" blazer, this time in a textured cotton fabric available in cream or black. Some of you may remember that this blazer was a petite fave, as its cropped, shrunken style fits nicely on shorter and smaller-framed women. Revisit my post here, and the original post on Alterations Needed that started it all!

The jacket was $410 marked down to $99, plus they had another discount for post-Christmas. Sadly, the smallest size left at that outlet was a 2, and the manager said "I'm not going to call up every single store" because they were too busy. It actually takes about 10 seconds to look it up in the system (my local Theory outlet has done this for me many times), but the manager didn't believe me. I had to take matters into my own hands and spent the rest of the day actually calling up every single Theory outlet in the US. No one could find anything smaller than a 2.
Theory "Gratian" blazer in "Conversation" fabric, size 0
Gap legging jeans in "faded dark" sz 00P (buy here)
I've tried on 4 washes and faded dark is hands down the best material. Gonna buy a 2nd w/ the next sale!

I set my alarm the next day for right when the East Coast outlets opened (being that I was in CA...this was about 6AM) and I diligently called every store again. The sleepy boyfriend thought I was a nut! Yes I was a little overzealous, but oh the things we do for fashion and bargains...

I found the cream and black in a size 0 as the smallest size, and gave in and ordered each with a $15 shipping fee. What was I thinking paying so much for the wrong size? I really love the cream but the boyfriend says it's too big in the shoulders...what do you guys think? Update: after reading your thoughtful opinions, I sadly parted with the cream. See it on its adorable new owner here.
The next day, I called some stores that were previously closed due to the Nor'easter, and was overjoyed to find two 00's in the black. Without thinking twice I ordered both. I figured a fellow petite would buy the extra and benefit from my crazed searching. Here is the black in sz 00:
Theory "Gratian" blazer in "Conversation" fabric, size 00
Gap legging jeans in "faded dark" sz 00P
Liane from PetiteXXS and Jen of Frmheadtotoe also picked up this blazer. They are both smaller than me so I'm curious how 00 fits on them. Here is the material up close. It is a thicker woven material (89% cotton, 11% polyamide) and has sparkly metallic silver threads woven throughout. Made in the USA.
As I was hanging up this blazer in my closet, I did a double take. Apparently I have a dress suit in the same exact fabric! I remember Theory fabrics by name so it didn't hit me until then, because the name apparently changed. My dress suit (posted here) fabric is called "Dialogue" and these jackets are in "Conversation" ! What a pleasant surprise. I wore the jacket over the dress to work last week.

This was a long and rambly post, but to sum it up...I have two black "Gratian" blazers up for grabs in 00 and 0. Both sizes are sold!

Winter Outfits for Work and Play

Ahoy, readers! Posting will be sporadic this season due to a hectic schedule...thank you ladies for bearing with me. I haven't even had time yet to catch up on my favorite blogs, which makes me sad. I did a lot of shopping last week and can't wait to share my finds with you guys, plus I've been thinking about the next Petite Fashion Challenge hosted by my coat twin Cynthia (sign up here). 

For now, please accept this filler post. Photos were snapped over vacation at my parents' house (no, not at my 500 sq foot apartment with barren concrete walls). This is an H&M lace dress/tunic that I tweeted about last month:
Black lace minidress: H&M sz womens XS, $35
Mustard Cardigan: Martin & Osa (similar here for $13.80)
Several of you asked how I protected the leather soles of my Ann Taylor shoes...and I haven't. They get scuffed up by city streets, but I'll probably wear them down before paying for a re-sole.

Was trying to pair the jacket below (from this post) with something other than the failed Minnies, and finally accepted that it is too big in the shoulders/torso for me. I love the felted wool material but will probably have to sell it : /

Wool blazer: Theory sz 00 (charcoal wool w/ light navy plaid)
Dress: Banana Republic 00P
Tights: H&M divided 40 den, Shoes: Ann Taylor Perfect Pumps sz 5

Aye...note to self: unbuttoned, wrapped & belted blazer looks like a dumpling.

J.Crew Petite Coats Review: Colletta vs. Lady Day Double Cloth

After my last successful experience with the J.Crew Lady Day coat, I became infinitely more interested in their Colletta coat. On the model, Colletta looks more feminine and flattering, with a shirred waistband and flouncier skirt. When the Thinsulate in orange went on sale for $130, I jumped at the chance to try it on:

J.Crew Colletta Double Cloth Coat in 0P, Torch Orange
Forever 21 $3.50 tights in gray one-size (buy here)
Tory Burch Reptile Reva Flats sz 5

And here shown with the collar folded down:
J.Crew Colletta Double Cloth Coat in 0P (left) vs. Lady Day Double Cloth Coat in 0P (right)

Immediately you will notice that the Colletta is shorter than the Lady Day. I thought that a shorter length would be more flattering on a short gal (for new readers, I am just under 5 feet tall), but the photos above say otherwise. The Colletta almost feels like a child's coat on me - short and wide and flared.
J.Crew Colletta Double Cloth Coat in 0P (left) vs. Lady Day Double Cloth Coat in 0P (right)

An issue I have with both coats is the high placement of the "waistband." It is nearing empire waist territory which I try to avoid for the youthful n' pregnant effect. The Lady Day (right) drapes closer to the body, but the shirred waist on the Colletta (left) exacerbates the empire effect.

From the back, the Colletta waistband looks lower-placed, but that is an illusion created by my longer hair and the shorter overall coat length:
J.Crew Colletta Double Cloth Coat in 0P (left) vs. Lady Day Double Cloth Coat in 0P (right)

In my rush to return the Colletta I forgot to take measurements, but the Lady Day in a 0P measures: 14.5" across the shoulders, 17" across the armpits, 14" across the waist band, 33" total length, and 21" sleeve length. The Colletta has the same exact shoulders/sleeves/chest measurements, but is wider and shorter starting under the bust and below.
Verdict: The Colletta may be better suited for women with curvier hips to fill out the shirred, flouncy skirt. On shorter women, the Lady Day may have a more elongating and slimming effect. The waistband placement on both jackets is high, so petites with longer torsos may want to opt for the regular sizing.

Readers - did any of you purchase either jacket above? If so, please share your experiences and post a link if you took photos.
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