Reader Request: Building Confidence Beyond Stature

“Sometimes because I am so petite, I feel like a kid compared to the "grownups" at my workplace. Have you ever had that feeling? Do people ever say you look younger than you are? I get it a lot and it definitely lowers my self esteem. Could you do a post about confidence?” --- Anonymous

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Dear reader – I can relate. Being extra petite and youthful looking can definitely hinder one’s confidence. I work with tall, well-spoken and put-together individuals, and at times it can feel daunting. When I first started working, I was asked my age several times by clients…mortifying.

It's rumored that taller people may be more successful in the workplace than their shorter counterparts, due to greater self-esteem and social confidence that possibly comes with height. Although I somewhat agree with this theory, it only means that petite women like us need to put in a little extra effort to find our confidence and achieve our own success. I’m still learning as I go, but here are some things I personally keep in mind:


Look your best, carry yourself well, and be a valuable contributor.




1. Look Your Best
First off – take care of your appearance. Groom yourself. Wear clothes that make you feel good. What works for me:
- Use makeup to enhance your natural features. I’m a huge believer in using makeup to help one look more mature (especially on Asian eyes). 
- Wear apparel that fits and flatters your figure. Fit is the premise of my blog, and the most important aspect of an outfit. A woman can look striking in a cheap black suit that fits her to perfection, or could look like a mess in an ill-fitting designer ensemble. Front, side and back view photos can help gauge the true fit of something. 
- Have a “go-to” ensemble. Everyone has “off” days and lazy days, so prepare simple, foolproof combinations for those days. My go-to work outfit is a ruffled blouse tucked into a pencil skirt, plus Ann Taylor perfect pumps. 
- Wear heels. Without a doubt I feel longer and leaner—and subsequently more confident—when wearing heels. 3.5 inch heels are the perfect height for me. Practice walking and make sure the shoes fit (use inserts if needs be), as nothing feels worse than shoes slipping off with every step.
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2. Carry Yourself Well
The way you carry yourself transcends size or age. The points below are things that I’m working hard on to improve. Sometimes you're not aware of these things unless someone else points it out (usually, however, only someone who truly cares about you – like a parent – will point out such things): 
- Stand up straight. Good posture is critical for petites. A straight back, shoulders, and neck can instantly add inches. 
- Project your voice. Many petite women whom I’ve met have delicate little voices that accentuate their size. I’m not suggesting shouting at the top of your lungs, but it's important to speak confidently and audibly. Also factor in the height of whom you're talking to, because taller people are further away (no joke...I speak louder to taller coworkers or else they have to bend down to hear). 
- Be engaging. Try to maintain eye contact during conversations, listen actively, and show genuine signs of engagement. 
- Greet with confidence. Everyone appreciates a warm smile and a firm handshake. During a mock interview, my college career counselor pointed out how my weak little handshake may be mistaken for a lack of confidence.
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3. Be a Valuable Contributor
Despite the above two sections, the bottom line is: If you're good at what you do and bring value to your team, you will command the respect of others –regardless of how tall you are or how you look. There’s an executive at one of my clients who is shorter than me, is hopelessly unfashionable, slouchy, and softspoken. But those who work with her have the utmost respect for her.

When opportunities arise to ask questions, give suggestions, or share an experience – try to push yourself to say something, even if you’re shy. People remember and respect those who contribute. When you have the respect of those around you, confidence should come naturally.

Readers -  Can you relate? Please share your own experiences or advice.

Cleaning and Caring for Chiffon

Since many of us now have the Ann Taylor Factory chiffon ruffle shells, I wanted to do a quick post about caring for them (see also AN forum). The one that I own from 2009 is now pilly and stretched out from wear, but the material is completely different from the Factory ones. Hopefully the same thing won't happen this time around.
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Shells in Soft Pewter, Dusty Mauve, Mud Bath, and Deep Blue

Fray-Prevention: The edges on the chiffon ruffles are raw-cut, but don't seem to be fraying or unraveling. If yours are coming apart, or if you want to do some fray-prevention, try using Fray Check along the edges (thank you Janelle for the rec' a looong long time ago).

I've used it below. You can see it makes the edges a little darker (where my finger points), but it does work.
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Washing: These tops are machine washable, but avoid tossing them in with your jeans and hoodies. When washed against rougher fabrics, delicates can get "worn down" fast and the chiffon can get snagged on zippers.

I don't wash delicates until after many wears. Washing (regardless of method) will usually make garments look a little more worn, but sometimes you need to machine wash to reshape an item after it's been stretched out from wear. What I do:
1. Turn the garment inside out
2. Place into a small mesh baggy
3. Wash on the delicates cycle, machine dry low for a few minutes, and then lay flat to reshape.
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I found this 3-piece mesh baggy set for $6.99 eligible for Free Super Saver Shipping. You may also find these at your local dollar store (saw them at Daiso) or Bed Bath and Beyond.

Readers - please share your tips for cleaning and caring for delicate tops!

Target Review Part II: Chambray Shirt and Tawny Wedges

This chambray shirt is an unexpected "keep" for me. A simple chambray shirt has been on my want list for a while, but was never a priority. I've looked halfheartedly at places like J.Crew (too $$ and big) and H&M (not the right shade), before deciding to give this one a try. This is in womens sizing (not juniors) so it was risky, but I needed a free ship filler : )
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Jeans: Gap Legging Jeans in 00P, "faded dark" (buy here)
Sandals: Target Tawny Wedges sz 5.5 (buy here)

Worry not - I won't be wearing this farmer-style as shown in the photos. This top will have its glory days paired with colorful skirts and bold jewelry (I'm thinking turquoise or coral) .
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Material is 100% cotton and I washed & dried it to shrink it a little (photos shown are pre-shrinkage). It's now super soft and comfortable.

Likes: 
- subdued color (not too blue-jeans)
- casual fit
- buttons to keep the sleeves rolled up (unrolled, they're a little too long for my short arms)

Dislikes:
- Retail price is a bit steep for Target. With discounts, coupons and ebates I probably got it for about $16, so I shouldn't complain too much.
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Next up, the Xhilaration Tawny Wedges in sz 5.5. I didn't order these at first, but DSK Steph mentioned that she picked these up in-store and was very pleased with them for the price. I was instantly convinced and ended up getting both colors:
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The straps, wedges, zipper detail and ankle strap are all very trendy - but I think it works together!
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I like the "pebbled" and "aged" look on the faux-leather and grainy wooden wedges.
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Likes:
- Very decent quality for the price (got these for about $20ish a pair)
- Pebbled leather looks less "faux" and feels softer than my other Target shoes
- On-trend for Spring/Summer
- Sz 5.5 fits me perfectly
- Very lightweight and comfortable
- Non-slip thin rubber sole. I love that all Target shoes have this. Not sure why most "designer" shoes have that super slipper sole...accident waiting to happen on carpet!

Dislikes: 
- THIN wedge heel! Ahh. When I was in high school I had a traumatic (painful both physically and pride-wise) fall down the stairs while tottering in wedges just like these. If you're a good wedge walker this will be no problem, but as soon as I put these on I knew these would be dangerous on uneven Boston sidewalks.
- Some small scuffs on the sole, but for this price I won't complain. It actually adds a little to the aged leather look.
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Overall, I'm pleased with these (thanks Steph!) and am probably keeping the brown pair, just for fun, even if I'll only wear them cautiously a few times this year. I canceled my orders for the other styles, but a small-footed beauty blogger, Irene, reviewed the Dolce Vita Cork Wedges in sz 5.5 here.

If any of you are ordering clothes from Target, code TC2SAPH2 gives you 15% off clothing and shoes, good until tomorrow - 2/25/2011. Orders over $50 always receive free ship, plus if you Google "Target coupon" you should be able to find a $5 off coupon. There is also 3% cash back through ebates.

Readers - did any of you also order these wedges? Let me know what you think!

Ann Taylor $50 off shoes plus 30% off one item

Thank you R.L. for giving us a heads up on this deal! Ann Taylor is having $50 off their full-priced shoes with free ship.
I ordered the perfect leather pump in Saddle Brown (a rich neutral for Spring/Summer) in sz 5. Still a bit pricey, but these are great quality, versatile leather pumps. The ones at the AT outlet retail for $70 and don't compare in quality.

Their signature pump also comes in exotic (4 color choices), patent, and linen. I own a pair of the exotics and they ran slightly larger than my leather ones. In general, I find that AT runs bigger than other brands. I am a true 5.5, but I take a 5 in these shoes. It's rare to have such a large selection of colors and materials in small sizes at this price, so take advantage if you've been considering these!

Petite Lookbook: Embracing the Lace

My Target order arrived this weekend and I'll be reviewing things slowly. First up is a definite keeper. I wasn't so sure about this affordable lace cardigan at first, but after trying it on with pieces in my closet I fell in love. I first wore it to work over a simple black sheath dress and got numerous compliments. Even my friend who was originally disgusted by my purchase now wants one!
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Skirt: Banana Republic Paper Bag Skirt sz 0P (similar here in 00)
Belt: BR outlet   Bag: Chanel WOC   Cameo: Peri

The key is to not wear it over a contrasting top a la the hideous Target model pic (but thank you, Target, for the awful photo because that's why this cardigan is now so cheap). I paired this with a simple black cami, a neutral skirt, plus some basic black accessories. If I were to nitpick, I'd complain about the slightly too-long sleeves. However, they are very easy to scrunch up, and I prefer them at the elbow anyways to make the overall look less lacy.
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Funny story about this skirt - I was shipping my blog sale items when I noticed one address was 3 blocks away from my apartment! I offered to meet up in person to do the exchange, and she came bearing a gift - a Banana Republic paper bag skirt that she had allegedly outgrown. I have nothing like this skirt and already wore it (and got compliments on it) several times. The belt loops and bunchy nature of the skirt allow me to make the 0P work. Thanks so much, Jenny!!

The silhouette of this skirt resembles the J.crew wool bell skirt(still left in sz 00), so if you ordered this cardigan and own the J.crew skirt, I highly recommend trying the two together : )
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Here are photos to show how the cardigan fits. I would not wear it over jeans (much prefer it tucked into skirts and over dresses), but these give you an idea of the longer length and overall snug fit. If you are bigger than me, I'd recommend sizing up to a S as the XS is fitted on me all-around. 
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I highly recommend this cardigan to anyone who wants to add something "different" to their wardrobe. The brown did not work out for me, but I can see myself wearing the black with many different ensembles. At just $11.98 (plus other discounts and ebates), this is a welcome addition to my wardrobe.

PS - one new item was added to my blogsale, and prices on other items have been lowered.

Readers - did anyone else pick up this lace cardigan? If so, how are you styling it?

Ann Taylor Petites Chiffon Ruffle Shell is Back

It's back! It's back! Twitter friends already know the news, but my all-time favorite shell from Ann Taylor (as seen in my blog banner) is back - in seven colors. This was a Winter 2009 find from the regular Ann Taylor, and it was so popular it has been remade for the Ann Taylor Factory (outlet). The best part? It's on sale, and you can probably get your hands on one even if you live nowhere near an outlet.
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Jacket: Theory Gratian blazer in "Lecture" sz 00
Shell: Ann Taylor Factory Chiffon Ruffle Shell sz XXSP
Jeans: Gap Legging Jeans in "faded dark" sz 00P

This top is perfect for wearing under suiting, blazers, and cardigans. When I don't have time to think in the mornings, I will just reach for this safe option. There are some differences between the 2009 and 2011 versions though.

2009: Retailed for $38, 1-2 inches longer, lower neckline, 94% rayon / 6% spandex (super pill-y)
2011: Retails for $39.99, shorter, slightly higher neckline, 60% cotton / 40% modal. I like it better!!

2009 in Soft Pewter (left) and 2011 in black (right), both XXSP:
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Fit of the 2011 XXSP:
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Continue reading to find out how to order these tops...

Ann Taylor Petites Spring 2011 Review

I went with my friend to Ann Taylor this week, ready to sift bored-ly through the large garments, when I was met with quite the surprise: a plethora of 00P and XXSP items. Halleluja!! The S.A. confirmed: they've recently started to carry those sizes again in-stores (not 5/5.5 shoes though). I jubilantly grabbed some new arrivals to try on. Although they were still full price (but code FEBAFF30 gives you 30% off a full priced item online), I wanted to be prepared for the next sale.

This first top is my favorite out of all the items. It's 100% silk and reminded me of the J.Crew shell in my last post, except more wearable. The tie is lower, instead of up high at the neck, making the neckline more flattering and feminine.
Top: Ann Taylor Necktie Shell w/ Pintucks, sz 00P (5 colors!)
Skirt: Ann Taylor Cotton Blend Pencil Skirt sz 00P

Fit won't be slim enough for some tiny ladies, but it's definitely acceptable for me. It fits just like my J.Crew one after I took in both sides. Best part about this blouse? It comes in 5 Spring colors online.

I wanted to see if their skirts had gotten smaller over the seasons. This skirt almost worked right off the rack, but I'd prefer it to sit higher on my waist and be a little more fitted. I though the price was expensive for a cotton blend (I prefer lightweight wool).

The coordinating jacket would probably look much better worn with jeans, than as part of a matchy-matchy suit.  Side view on me is yee-uck! I wonder why the skirt is fitted yet the jacket is huge.


There were a lot of new arrivals in safari colors made of canvas-y or cotton materials. Along that theme, here is a cute jacket that's sturdily made with nice details. I thought this jacket was super cute, but a tad big for me throughout and a little pricey for a canvas jacket:

Jacket: Petite Canvas Motorcycle Jacket sz 00P (buy here


There were some new shoes that I really liked, but of course nothing small enough to try on. The Rose Canvas Kitten Heel (below - starts at sz 5 online) caught my eye in person. I liked the leather & canvas combo, the lower heels for walking, and the almond toe (slightly pointier than the perfect pumps).



Readers - what are you liking from the Ann Taylor Spring collection?

Petite Lookbook: Prim and Proper

Thank you everyone who entered my Valentine's Day giveaway. The winner this time is Thuy! Please visit this post for the selection details. Please email me within 72 hours to claim your prize : )

A while back I posted about one of my favorite ways to wear a cardigan - tucked into a pencil skirt. I wanted to show how this can work nicely for longer cardigans, as long as they are thin and fitted.
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Cardigan: LOFT XXSP (similar here in 12 colors)
Silk Pleated Blouse: J.Crew sz 0 (taken in)
Tweed Skirt: Theory 00  Rings: Topshop
Belt: J.Crew sz S (extra holes punched
Vintage Pendant: "Peri" Cameo (from here)

This is how I used to wear this cardigan for work. Atrocious! Thank you, photos, for enlightening me. The long cardi hanging over the pencil skirt left no room for body definition.
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Here is the same exact sweater and skirt done over again. Ideally the cardigan would be more fitted in the torso, but the look is already cleaner and the overall shape definition is greatly improved.
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 Skirt: Ann Taylor Tropical Wool Pencil Skirt in 00P (taken in) - new color available!

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For this prim outfit, I reached for my favorite vintage Peri cameo. Vintage trinkets look beautiful over delicate materials like silks, chiffon, and lace (as shown here). This is probably one of my most-worn accessories (can be donned as a pendant or a pin), and the best part - it was under $10 on eBay.

Readers - Have you tried the tucked-in cardi for work yet?

Chanel Petite Shopping Tote & Wallet on Chain WOC Review

Although handbags can "make" or complete an outfit, I rarely show them on my blog. I have a very small collection -maybe 4 to 5 total- so you guys would surely get sick of seeing them! After college I purged all of my bags (many of them awkwardly-sized) and started fresh. I wanted to invest carefully in pieces that were beautiful and timeless, that were suitable for my size, and most importantly - were functional.
Video review:


1. Petite Shopping Tote (PST) 9" width x 9" height x 3" depth
Beautiful, classic tote - but for reasons mentioned in the video, is not too functional for me.
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2. Wallet on Chain (WOC) - 7" length x 5" height x 1" depth
This bag wasn't even on my radar until I discovered (non-petite) Anh of 9to5chic. She always looks effortlessly polished, and her WOC makes frequent appearances in outfits for all sorts of occasions. The WOC satisfies all of my requirements. It can be worn as a:
-long shoulder bag
- clutch
- double-chained purse; or
- cross-body bag
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Dress: J.Crew paisley sheath sz 0P (altered)
Suede Booties: Adrienne Vittadini "Adam"
YSL Arty Ring in Turquoise, sz 5 (taped)

I purchased both of these pre-owned. I don't discriminate against pre-owned Chanel as long as it's in excellent condition and comes with all the original packaging (box, dustbag, tags, auth card). I have plenty of other things to spend the money saved on. The current retail price of the PST is around $1600, and the rectangular caviar WOC goes for around $1295.

Here is an oldie but goodie from Alterations Needed on the East/West and classic medium flap. I'm interested in getting a taupe or colorful small flap next, but the original small size seems hard to come by these days.
Readers - What is your favorite go-to handbag?
 
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