Monday, May 30, 2011

Today Only: Free Ship over $15 at Forever21

Use MDSHIP to get free shipping on orders over $15, today only (5/30/2011) at Forever21 online. Their usual free ship minimum is $50, so this is a great opportunity to pick up some seasonal stuff without losing your mind in their cluttered stores.

For summer, I recommend their simple maxi dresses. If you're unsure about the look on you - what better way to try it out than with a cheap, non-committal one under $15? The thing about F21's maxis is that they are made for 5'9" models. Look for ones with higher waistlines, so you can do an easy DIY hem or snip.

Click below to shop (all under $15):
And to accessorize your summer outfits, I recommend this beaded bib necklace ($7.80). I picked it up here and have been loving it for filling up unsightly spaces caused by low necklines. OOTD's from this weekend:
Theory jacket, F21 belt, BR ruffle dress, Target chambray shirt (all old). H&M circle skirt (current)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A good day for the H&M pleated skirt


Today was a good day for this ole' H&M pleated skirt...it enjoyed some fun face time around the web. Click here for LOFT's Facebook album, and here to read the Glamour.com article. To see tip #3 in action, check out Callandra.
loftpleated
LOFT Lace Print Tee sz XXSP (buy in regular or petite)
H&M Pleated Skirt sz 2 (old) - similar here in 3 colors
Shoes: Aldo (old)  Belt: BR factory

I'm wearing this lace print tee to pieces. Over leggings on the weekend, tucked in at work. Are you sick of it yet? : )

U.S. Readers - have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Discovering Personal Style

crochetblazer
Jacket: Theory sz 00  Shell: H&M sz 2  Sandals: Target sz 5.5 (similar)
Akoya pearls: eBay  Ring: YSL Coral Arty
Crochet skirt courtesy of Modcloth (very similar)

A few months ago, I entered a contest for which I had to define my personal style. Although I've had a keen interest in clothing since my early teens, and gleefully took home fashion superlatives in HS - I never really had my own sense of style. It was hard enough to find "adult" clothing that fit, without paying an arm and a leg for alterations. Whine whine whine.
crochetblazer4
Coming out of college, I wanted professionalism during the week, yet short shorts on the weekends. I wanted to look more mature, but not plain. With these goals in mind, through personal trial and error and the encouragement of friends (both helpful blog friends and a super-critical-but-well-intentioned friend who mandates accessorizing), I'm slowly developing a style that is my own.

These days I combine feminine details with tailored pieces, pair bargain finds with investments, and mix fast fashion with classic staples. I strive to look put-together, yet practical for my everyday life. 
crochetblazer3
While writing up this post, I noticed how eclectic the brands were within this outfit. Theory - my all-time favorite brand for tailored suiting. H&M - fast fashion (and select work pieces) that often come in teeny sizes. Target - adore their cheap and trendy shoes starting in sz 5.5. Modcloth and ebay - supporting independent designers and small businesses. The mish-mosh of brands in this outfit represents just a tidbit of options out there that petite women have, and confirms that size should not be used as an excuse to not have personal style.

I also noticed that none of the pieces in this outfit are in petite sizing. I stress the importance of simple alterations, especially on items in non-petite sizing. For the jacket in 00 regular, I got the sleeves shortened. For the blouse in sz 2, I took up the straps. And for the skirt in a generic sz Small, I did some DIY slimming, and am hoisting the waist up with a snug belt. I wish I had a "before" photo to show what a difference these small adjustments make, collectively.
crochetblazer2
Longtime readers of this blog know that I've come a long way in dressing since early posts. I hope that you guys have gotten as much out of the online community as I have.

Readers - Can you define your personal style? What factors have influenced it?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale (get your small-sized shoes)

The Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale for women & kids started today, with increased 5% cashback from ebates. I don't see anything outstanding in the clothes department for petites, but I love their shoe selection which starts at sz 4 and up.

While browsing for versatile, neutral sandals, I found these two gems for small-footed women. A light camel strappy sandal is a summer must-have. I wear my Target camel sandals with everything, and these two seem like higher-quality alternatives, with lower stacked heels. I might order the white Nine West's as I'm already stocked up on camel.

Nine West Randwick (starts at sz 4, comes in 5 gorgeous colors), Vince Camuto Carmel (starts at 5.5)

Readers - please share your recommendations from this sale!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ways to wear it: LOFT Lace Print Tee

**Sale alert: Ann Taylor's Wild Leopard Cardigan (from this post & video) is now just $17.99 (from $78) w/ code EXTRA40! Still left in small sizes online. Look for it in stores too.**
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LOFT Lace Print Tee sz XXSP (buy in regular or petite)
Use "MAYAFF20" for 20% off your regular-priced purchase of $100+.
H&M skirt (old), BR belt, Aldo shoes, and Chanel PST

My LOFT order arrived, and I wanted to show this top before sizes are gone (it's an online exclusive).
laceteeblackskirt copy
Fit: XXSP fits me casually, looks proportionate but slightly slouchy. XXSP measures 15" across the torso, 22" in length when measured from the back down the center.
Material: 100% cotton, slightly textured, in an eggshell ivory-white.
Value: Pricer than what I'd pay for a tee, but cheaper than a blouse.
Verdict: Love! Wearing now.
laceteejeans copy
I'm happy to say this tee is exactly what I expected - casual and comfortable, but easily dressed up. It looks just as good thrown over weekend blue jeans, as it does tucked into a pencil skirt for work, or jazzed up under a blazer with pearls. The print detail is like a built-in statement necklace, for mornings when you don't have time to think about accessorizing.
laceteeblazer
 Jeans: Gap Legging Jeans in "faded dark" in 00Petite (buy here)
Sandals: Target Palani gladiator sandals sz 5.5 (similar here) (or in wedges)
Blazer: Theory Gratian sz 00 Clutch: Chanel WOC

My Gap order also arrived and I'm pleased with the Grecian-inspired Jersey Maxi Dress, but the Petite XS on me is borderline too short (I like my maxis near floor-length when worn with flats). I'm hoping to go to a Gap store next month to try on a regular XS and possibly exchange it. I will share pictures with you guys soon, for reference. 

On a separate note, I apologize for the lower frequency and quality of posts lately. I've been very busy, running on very few hours of sleep, and hope to get back into the grind of blogging and reading my favorite blogs later next month. Thank you all for bearing with me and for your support : )

Readers - did any of you order this tee? Please share your thoughts!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

To alter or not to alter: a guide to getting items tailored.

Regardless of your body type or size, proper alterations can help transform mediocre-fitting items into garments that flatter your figure and boost your self-confidence. For women who wear special sizes, alterations can be critical. However, if you (like myself) don't have the good fortune of being related to a skilled seamstress, and are too lazy/clumsy to sew yourself, alterations can really add up and become quite costly. 

I'm sure many of us have tried on a garment that is "ok," but would be much better if it fit perfectly. To alter or not to alter? When faced with such a decision, I try follow this 3-step thought process:

Step 1. This is the most common mistake that I used to make. Spending $ on altering something that I felt lukewarm about to begin with. Return or sell "meh" items before it's too late. Also, be realistic about what can be altered (ie. don't convince yourself you love something by imagining wildly different "results").

Step 2. When assessing worth, look at garment quality, and again at how much you love it. If you will love a Forever21 dress to pieces after it's taken in, and would've paid XYZ for something like that to begin with, then go for it.

Alteration costs vary a lot from tailor to tailor, but here are some prices that I've paid, for reference:
Hem: $10 no lining - $25 w/ lining
Shorten sleeves: $15 no lining - $25+ w/ lining
Take-in waist: 15+ no lining - $25+ w/ lining
Take-in shoulders: $40+
Take-in sides: $15 for shirts - $40+ lined items

Step 3. Risk level is a function of both the complexity of alterations and your tailor's experience. I have had so many (even basic) alterations come out messed up.

Higher-risk (even w/ a good tailor): fancy dresses, suiting, taking-in shoulders, changing the design of a garment, or changing a garment more than 2 numerical sizes.

Example: Last month I found myself at the Ann Taylor outlet, clutching onto a suit in a beautiful lavender and cream tweed. Unfortunately, the smallest size it came in was regular 0, and I was swimming in it. The length of both pieces fit me fine though (must've been a shorter style), which was key, because blazer length probably can't be altered. 
AnnTaylorSuitBefore
Step 1. I was instantly drawn to the color and texture, and needed a Spring suit. I saw vast potential in the suit as a set, and also as versatile separates. Nothing similar is available in smaller sizing.

Step 2. Alterations would be very costly (guesses, anyone?) but the suit was 75% off. I probably would've paid the total cost for a tweed suit that fit great right off the rack.

Step 3. Alterations needed: Sides slimmed, sleeves slimmed/shortened, skirt taken-in, and shoulders narrowed (pretty risky) + tailors who do a good job 90% of the time = somewhat risky.

But I really loved the material and overall Chanel-inspired look, so I went for it. Stay tuned for the results.

Readers - what criteria do you consider before dropping $ on alterations, or buying something that requires alterations?

For tips on how to identify or find a good tailor, visit my vintage post, Signs of a Good Tailor, and Kelly's post - 10 Tips for Finding Your Perfect Tailor.

PS - I'm very sorry if some readers came across pop-up/floating surveys (they're surveys and not ads or spam, worry not) while on this blog. I became aware of them today and am trying to remove them.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Pleated Skirt & Pearls (and dress becomes a top)

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Crochet lace dress: Ann Taylor Factory (altered) (similar here and here)
Blazer & Pleated Skirt: H&M sz 2 (similar under $18)
Shoes: Aldo  Purse: Chanel taupe lambskin M/L flap  Pearls: eBay

This old H&M skirt survived several rounds of blog sales. The knee-length A-line is not my silhouette of choice (much prefer fitted pencil skirts for my body type), but I held onto it as it's unlike anything else in my wardrobe. For this outfit I broke out my girliest pieces - pretty lace, polished pearls, and delicate peep-toe pumps.
PleatedSkirt_double
This is my second attempt at the dress worn as a top. The first attempt did not go so well. When done right, this is a great way to get more wear out of your favorite dresses. But for the pairing to work, the dress must be somewhat fitted and short enough to hide under the skirt, and the waist line of the dress must also be lower than where your skirt waist will hit. This dress was made nice n fitted by my tailors, but the length is a tad too long for this skirt. For a good example, Anh is the queen of this tip. I was also inspired by Callandra wearing this dress as a pencil skirt.
PleatedSkirt_wall2
To break up this neutral palette, I added a juicy lip. Revlon Colorburst in Coral was too firetruck-red for me on it's own, so I layered on my fave Super Lustrous Lipgloss in Coral Reef. Here's an obligatory twirl:
PleatedSkirt_Triple
PS - Nordies lovers, on Friday 5/13 Nordstrom purchases through ebates will receive 12% cash back (one day only). This is a good opportunity to pick up designer or beauty items that typically don't qualify for extra discounts. Other retailers that have 12% increased cash back this week include Sephora, DSW, Gap, BR, and many more (full list). For info on how ebates works, visit my post here. If you need a referral link, click here.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Loving now: LOFT Lace Print Tee (& 48% off Gap)

I was immediately drawn to this tee - it can be donned simply over jeans, at work tucked into pencil skirts, or dressed up under a blazer. What makes it really perfect is the slouchy fit - so effortless.

Unfortunately, it's an online exclusive, so I had to pick up a few extra things (below, and more) to make the free ship minimum of $125.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Target Nude Pumps Video Review (Versie and Pearce)

A few of you have been asking about my Target nude pump order so here is a quick review. In short, I love the Versie pumps and will be keeping those. The Pearce are a bit too round for my liking so they are going back. Target's 20% off of $75 or more promo ends today (May 7th), and you use a $5 off $50 coupon, plus ebates for 3% cashback.

Wearing: Target Versie Pump sz 5.5 in Natural
ASOS Tailored Pencil Dress sz Petite 0 in "Red" (hemmed)
Amrita Singh Nello Necklace (mom11 for 50% off & free ship - ends 5/8)
TargetNude1
Size 5.5 (their smallest size) is a little loose on me, as you can see in the photo. I think these run true to size, and I'm probably a sz 5 in shoes. I intend to add a little heel grip pad to close the gap.

Wearing: Target Pearce Pump in Camel
TargetNude2

Video Review:


A general difference I've observed between pricier shoes and discount shoes (aside from the leather or material) is the cut. This is most evident in the "aerial" view below. The Louboutins are more narrowly cut, with a sleeker silhouette and toe box than the Versies, and the "U" of the toe box is lower/better placed (on me, it shows just a perfect little smidge of toe cleavage). Discount shoes usually feel wide and round, but some may find that to be more comfy. 

 From left to right: 
TargetNude
Funnily enough I am wearing the same outfit as in my previous "Quest for Nude Pumps" post, which ended in all returns. Looking back, none of those shoes were a true nude shade for my skin tone. I'm happy I waited for these affordable Versie Naturals - I bookmarked the page and refreshed every week until a 5.5 popped up again.

Readers - Do any of you own either shoe? Let me know your thoughts!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Color Theory at Work

BlueGreen3_flowers
Dress: Banana Republic Factory sz 00P (old)
Blazer: H&M sz 2   Bag: LV Speedy 25
Necklace: Amrita Singh Nello (use mom11 for 50% off - Thanks Alyssa!)
Nude Pumps: Louboutin Simple 100s sz 35 (recently ordered version)

As temps warm up, I'm happy to chuck black tights (so limiting!) in exchange for vibrant colors.
BlueGreen1_accessories
If you work in a professional environment, you can still join in on the color fun. Some simple tips I follow to keep work outfits vibrant, versus loud:

- When wearing large blocks of color, it's safer to do neighboring/analogous colors (blue with green, red with orange) instead of complimentary/opposite colors (blue with orange, red with green, purple with yellow). Neighboring colors appear harmonious together, whereas complimentary colors make each other look bolder - better reserved for casual wear.
BlueGreen6_colorwheel
- If you have a lot of the same color in your closet, try a monochromatic look. I love layering pieces of different shades or textures, but in the same general color (ie. three blues).

- Use neutrals (or black, if you must) to keep colorful outfits from going over the top. Nude pumps are the bomb. I'm in love with these Louboutins, but they're not for everyday wear for a simple gal like myself. I'm hoping the nude pumps ordered in this post will fill that void.

For color inspirations, I like Wendy's color blocking video, Anh's bright pencil pairing, and the fab entries in Kileen's Color Brigade.

I haven't worn this dress in a year, but it's deeply imprinted in my memory that this is the best-right-off-the-rack-fitting dress I own. I remember it fitting like a spectacular glove. Upon re-discovering it last week, I was shocked by the ill fit and childish silhouette. Either my body morphed over the past year, or my fit standards have completely changed.
BlueGreen5_dressfit copy
To save this dress, I looked for a fitted blazer with a deep V-neckline to conceal the babydoll silhouette and help redefine my waist. This H&M jacket works nicely, but wearing a fitted cardigan in Kelly's X-shape will also do.
BlueGreen4_splitdress
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Readers - have you been breaking out bright colors for work? Or sticking with safe black and gray?
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