Trench Quest, Part III (& final!) - Burberry Harbourne Trench

Dress: Ann Taylor   Coat: Burberry Harbourne sz 2 (similar in petites from BR)
Low heels: Aldo (similarBelt: F21  Ring: YSL Coral Arty  Clutch: Chanel WOC

My love for outerwear dates back to when I first moved to Boston. At times, the cold and precipitation here made me downright depressed, but a pretty coat would bring a little joy on gloomy days. The first time I ever set foot inside a Burberry store, I tried on a "Harbourne" trench. The amazing Newbury St SA, John, gushed about how slim it was cut, how it could be styled so many ways, and how much care went into making it, the stitching, and the meticulous waterproofing process...yada yada. I drank it all up. Even though I was decked out in abercrombie kids and clearly had no capacity to buy, he was very kind to me and wrote down the style name on a lil' card (which I still have after 4 years).

Last year, my mind went back to the idea of finding the perfect, classic, double-breasted trench. I think a trench is a wardrobe staple for women of all ages. Even though I knew that a great coat was hanging at the Burberry store, I wanted to try on a sale option from their more affordable line (Brit) and a kids one, to see if satisfaction could be achieved while saving some money. Enter, my past reviews: 

- Part I - Burberry "Brit" Petites Trench 
- Part II - Burberry Kids Mini Ivybridge Trench 

But alas, I wasn't impressed by either option at those prices. Since classic trenches are always available at retail price and didn't seem to be increasing in price (a la Chanel), I was in no hurry to buy.
Imagine my delight when I discovered that the "Harbourne" trench was part of Bloomies' private sale this month. To sweeten the deal, I had the good fortune of winning a shopping spree earlier this year. Nick and I agreed to spend the spree cautiously like we do with our own money. Despite having had the gift card for months, his only purchase is a $7 pair of shorts, and mine - this coat.
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Fit: Burberry only offers petite sizing in the US via Nordstrom. However, the petite selection is very small and doesn't necessarily fit better. Their regular US sz 2 (smallest size) is actually cut pretty slim, so I recommend going to the Burberry retail store for the best selection and shopping experience. Possible alterations needed on this coat are shortening of the sleeves, and slimming of the torso and sleeves. If you buy at the retail store at full price, all alterations are free.

Although the sleeves don't bother me too much right now, one alteration that I do need immediately on this coat is moving the belt loops up 2~3 inches. The Harbourne is designed to be a shorter coat on a regular-height woman, so the belt loops sit low on my hips and make my bottom half look shorter (see upper left photo). This can be a common issue when petite women wear regular-length coats. Moving the belt loops up a little with fix the proportion issue.  

Measurements: 16.5" across at the underarms, 15.5" across at the waist, 20" across the bottom. 33" total length, 24" sleeve length, 5" sleeve width, 13.5" shoulder width.

Material: 65% poly, 35% cotton. Lined in large check. If I had to nitpick, I wish it didn't have black buttons (but I suppose buttons can be replaced).
Before I sign off, I wanted to share this comment from a reader on my last post:
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Dear Anonymous, you are certainly not alone and not doomed in the fashion world. This is a topic that I feel strongly about. Although I admittedly enjoy designer pieces, I feel they should never define one's style. I crazy admire women who mix and match and look fabulous using creativity, versus those who plaster themselves with labels and have no personal style. 

If you have financial constraints, I recommend making a list of wardrobe foundation pieces that suit your personal lifestyle (ie. for me that was a tailored sheath dress, a blazer, dark blue jeans, a warm coat, etc). Shop deliberately for these items, keeping an eye out for quality and fit. After you find winners, search online for sales & coupon codes or scour eBay to get the best deal. Accessories from places like Target, F21, and thrift stores (my personal fave) are a great way to style your outfits without breaking the bank. 

Readers - Please share your own thoughts or advice! 

Seafood Feast at Neptune Oyster

I didn't participate in this month's Petite Fashion Challenge # 8 "Spinning the Favorite," but please visit Gracie's post to see her entry as well as 24 other ladies' outfits!

Last Sunday, my blog friend Ping came to town and we spent a lovely afternoon roaming the city, shopping on Newbury St, drinking, and eating ourselves silly. We started off at Legal Seafood (local chain - don't love it, but it was close by) for Ping's first oyster experience. "Should I chew?" she asked, as she accidentally gulped it down whole. Next, we moseyed over to the North End to put our name down at Neptune Oyster. With 3 $$$, 750 reviews, and almost 5 stars on Yelp, this place is famous for it's seafood and long waits (which can get up to 3+ hours for dinner). Our wait was under 1 hr, abd we killed time by reading magazines in CVS.

Appetizer: Hamachi Crudo
Entree #1: North End Cioppino (giant prawns, salmon, shellfish, and saffron rice in a spicy broth)

Loving Now: Ann Taylor Striped Tee (& Burberry 40% off sale)

For the past few months, I've been shopping with one eye open for a classic striped tee. One that was fitted yet comfy for both work and casual wear. Last weekend at the Ann Taylor concept store opening in Chestnut Hill, MA - I lucked out and found a great one. It's an XSP, but 100% cotton should shrink.
anntaylorstripe2 copy
Tee: Ann Taylor Boatneck tee sz XSP, style # 257254 (similar for $19)
Skirt: Banana Republic Paper Bag Skirt  Belt: J.Crew  Scarf: H&M (all old)
Wedges: Target Xhilaration Teala Wedges sz 5.5 - under $25!
Aren't these wedges fun? I missed out on those Cynthia Vincent for Target shoes, so I jumped on these. The wedge heel is actually very light and comfortable. I wore them for several hours running errands and shopping indoors, but changed into flats later on for roaming the city with one of my fave bloggers (more on that tomorrow). I can't find these in yellow online, but here is the Chocolate, Black, and Cognac version. I inspected all three colors in-person; out of those I think Chocolate looks the best in real life. Right now, you get 20% off of these online with orders of $75 or more.

Double the Fun: Amrita Singh Reversible Resin Necklace

Tailored sheath dresses are amongst some of my favorite things. Under a blazer with some pumps, they're classic for work. Jazzed up with jewelry and a shawl - they convert easily for an elegant evening.
Dress: ASOS Tailored Pencil Dress in Cafe Creme, sz Petite 0
Pumps: Christian Louboutin Simple 100s in Nude, sz 35  Scarf: Gucci
Necklace: Amrita Singh Reversible Resin Necklace in Lapis/Black - 20% off w/ extrapetite11

For this nude-y ensemble, I added color with a silky wrap and a statement necklace. "Statement" is almost an understatement for describing this piece. It's made of sixty-three (I counted - I'm a nerd) .75" long stones in the most gorgeous, striking marbled blue. The stones are resin, but the intense color can probably rival that of real lapis. If Amrita made her versatile Nello necklace in this color, it would probably be my most favorite necklace in the world.
I've been going a little overboard w/ collecting AS pieces - have to thank Cee for getting me hooked. Her jewelry also makes easy and successful gifts (I'm waiting for my friend to become acclimated with her birthday present before I "borrow" it...muahah). So you can imagine my excitement when the ladies at Amrita Singh offered to send me this necklace. It's not every day that bloggers actually get acknowledged by the brands that we frequently patronize. amritareversible5

Review: Gap Petite Jersey Maxi Dress

Here is my quick review on the Gap Jersey Maxi Dress. This dress comes in "jade stone" and "true black," and is also available in three striped variations. Sizing ranges from Petite, to Regular, and Tall, from XS to XXL.
Dress: Gap Jersey Maxi Dress in Petite XS
Heels: Mossimo Palani Gladiator Sandals sz 5.5 (similar)

Likes: Soft, drapy material. Grecian-inspired pleating is pretty, and higher waistline elongates legs.
Dislikes: I'm on the fence about the length. Also, my chest can't seem to fill out the pleated area.

Verdict: Unsure. Got this for 50% off. I'm probably keeping unless I find a more affordable version from F21/H&M.

(Giveaway Closed) Stiletto Hardware Shoe Cushions

*Contest closed! Thank you everyone for entering. The winner is Betty Chan. Please email me*
Ever since I've upgraded from children's sneakers to big-girl shoes, I've faced the following issues:

1. Shoes in the smallest size available are still too big.
2. Ball-of-foot strain and even callouses from prolonged standing in heels.
3. Heels of shoes digging painfully into my lower ankles.

When Kelly of Stiletto Hardware offered to send me some memory foam cushions, I didn't have high expectations (jaded by the mediocre insoles I own). After 2 months of "testing," I think these are good enough to share.

SH currently has three cushion types. Each set is $7.95, plus 15% off with code XXP, and automatic free shipping over $10 to the USA or Canada. Not bad! The small company is based in Canada, and cushions are manufactured in the USA.

Continue reading for my review and giveaway...

Suit Chronicles: Tailoring Ann Taylor

Ann Taylor Factory Tweed Suit, sz 0 regular (alterations shown below)
Ann Taylor Petal Shell (old) (similar here in petites)
Chanel M/L flap

As a continuation from this post, here is my tweed suit post-alterations. It's a bit mature and formal when worn as a set, but extremely versatile as separates. One of the first things I look for in a suit is the ability for each piece to shine on it's own. These were the alterations done:
And the cost of a perfectly-fitting suit? Suit: $56 (on clearance from $200-ish) Alterations: $100

For such a large alteration job, my tailors had me do a second fitting before "finishing" (ie. sew up hems) the suit. The skirt and sleeves were not slim enough, so they fixed that before we had one final fitting. I was thankful they left the hems unfinished when I arrived, to spare me the stress of having to ask for re-alterations.

I just wanted to clarify - I'm not recommending that anyone go out and buy a suit that is several sizes too big and spending double the amount on alterations. I fell in love with this texture, took a risk, and it (thankfully) paid off, but I've had my fair share of failed & costly alterations. In general, it's risky to get structured pieces (jacket, suit) altered anything more than 1-2 sizes.
I can't find anything similar in stores right now, but I did see Ann Taylor has a new Linen Tweed Pencil Skirt in petites that looks like a gorgeous warm-weather material. I'm keeping that on my watchlist for the next big sale. Wonder if the tweed blend will counteract crinkly issues that plagues most linen garments?
Since this skirt is very similar in texture to my BB Dakota Groton skirt (from this post and this post), I have decided to part with that one. Please email me and leave a comment if you are interested in buying the BB Dakota skirt. Size 0, lightly worn, selling for $30 plus shipping to US buyers.
On a completely unrelated note (in the least sexist way possible), why is it that men just excel at cooking certain foods? Burgers, steak, chili - I leave these three up to the men. I'm not a burger lover, but Nick made these fan-freaking-tastic mini burgers with buttered sesame buns, caramelized shallots, and a slab of aged cheddar from our last visit to the Cabot Cheese factory (during which I gleefully sampled and re-sampled 30+ flavors of cheddar).