eBay Tips: Shopping for Vintage Costume Jewelry

Some of my pre-owned jewelry (also shown in video)

I love vintage costume jewelry. These pieces can be scored at price points similar to F21 and H&M, but are much more unique and have more character. Also, buying pre-owned means you don't have to wonder about the quality and whether or not the jewelry will oxidize, turn green, or fall apart after a few wears. I realize not everyone has a fun Savers thrift store nearby (where I found much of my loot), but eBay can be just as fruitful. Here is my shopping /browsing method (tips are at the end of this post):

1. Go on eBay and type in your search. Here I used "gold chain necklace," but the options are endless. Other things on my wish list include "collar necklace," "locket," "cuff bracelet," "stone ring," "pierced earrings" (tons of clip options too), etc.
46,786 results? No thank you, not tonight...

2. Next, I select the category "Vintage & Antique Jewelry." Unfortunately, this may filter out a lot of nice vintage pieces that were just not categorized under here. I accept this in exchange for having to weed through 40,000 less listings. And unless I am searching with specific keywords like brand names, I keep the "include description" box unchecked so eBay only searches listing titles. Otherwise, you may get numerous irrelevant results.
3. If you're under a budget, put in a max price (you may have to scroll down to find this field), then hit enter. Now I'm left with 542 listings. At this point, patient scrolling is key. Add potential items to your "watchlist," and check back in a day or two to see if you're still in love with it.
Here are some pieces that came up in my above search, each under $10....

Holiday Party Outfit - Cocktail Peplum (& t+j styling challenge!)

Peplum Dress: H&M Divided sz 2 (item # 061128, $30), Pumps: CL Elissa 100 (similar in sz 4-11)
Earrings: from craft fair (similarClutch: Chanel WOC  Lipcolor: Rimmel "Bordeaux"
Bracelets: thrifted chain & cuffs thanks to t+j designs (enter their styling challenge here)

In my last holiday-themed post, I showed a glitzy, fun pairing for a night out on the town. Today's outfit incorporates similar colors and some of the same accessories, but the finished look feels more glamorous and cocktail-appropriate. I started with my hair partially pinned, but with a neckline like this plus big earrings - hair swept back is the way to go.
Since the coy peplum hem adds width to my hips, I tried to balance it out with sleek, tall heels and higher hair (by way of velcro bumpit). For finishing touches, I grabbed statement earrings and chunky but classic wrist decor. I've received lots of questions on shopping for vintage chain bracelets and necklaces...you'd be surprised at how easy and affordable it is. I'll do a quick e Bay tutorial tomorrow!
Tiffany of I am Style-ish kindly sent over these adjustable bracelets from her jewelry line, t+j Designs...

Thanksgiving Weekend

I hope US readers had a wonderful holiday weekend with your loved ones. I spent the past few days at my parents' house, and relished not even touching a computer or going shopping. Instead, I...
worked on a DIY jewelry display case shared by a very crafty blogger. I'll post more on this soon!
Made and ate endless holiday treats...
and discovered the magic of making gingerbread houses/villages. If you have kids (or kid-spirited adults) in your household, this might be one the best $5.99's I've spent.
My parents served as blind judges and inspected our houses for structural integrity and decor. First prize went to brother Ed (an engineer, so it wasn't really fair), Nick came in at a close second, and lil' brother Schuyler and I tied for sloppy thirds. Ed is leaving soon for a semester in Stockholm, Sweden - any readers who have visited or lived there, please share any "must do's" or "must sees" !

Girly Girl - Leopard, Nudes, and Pleats

Leopard cardigan: Ann Taylor (similar in XXS-XL), Blouse: Gap (similar)
Pumps: CL Simple 100  Watch: Michael Kors Tortoise  Skirt: c/o Modcloth (also styled here)

Don't you love discovering cute pairings by accident? Last month when we were blessed with two days of mild weather, I was on my way out the door in this blouse, skirt, and shoe combo. I asked the same question that I ask every day: "Nick, how do I look?" He gazed over me passively (as he does 99% of the time, yet I still value his opinion dearly) and said I resembled a neutral blob. Disgruntled, I ran back into the bedroom and grabbed the first non-neutral layer I could find, and turned out liking the end result much more.
Soon, my warm-weather pieces will go into hibernation under my bed...

Quest for a work tote: Goyard St Louis bag vs Marquises

For the past few years, I've been a happy user of the thicker Longchamp tote for work and travel. It's lightweight and water-resistant (a must for Boston), perfect for hauling around my daily burden of clunky work laptop, heels, wallet, small makeup baggie, and snacks. Refer to my old Longchamp post for a review on these bags in all sizes. 

Lately, however, I've been looking for something new. The Longchamp is undeniably functional (and I still highly recommend it), but is more casual, and is seen on the arm of most college girls and working women in Boston.
20080411goyard Enter, Goyard. I first learned about this French company while interning in northern CA. Goyard was founded in 1853, one year before competitor Louis Vuitton, and has a rich history of award-winning luggage and bag making for royals. The only Goyard boutique in the US is in San Fran (though they can also be found in 3 Barneys and at Bergdorf's).

Their coated canvas with leather products are all handmade in France, and their signature chevron pattern is hand-painted (goodness!) onto the canvas. Owners of Goyard pieces can get them personalized with initials, graphics, and stripes.

Although I was enamored by this lesser-known company and it's striking chevron, I didn't buy for a few reasons:
- The price
- A very limited pre-owned market. I don't mind pre-owned items and like to browse resale markets.
- Their most popular bag, the St. Louis shopping tote, seemed impractical for me.
- Their more structured bags (a better value) were not exactly my style.

Alas, for years I admired these colorful bags from afar, and pointed them out with interest every time I saw one on a stranger (this happens maybe twice a year here in Boston). When Nick surprised me with this blue St Louis PM tote last month, my heart skipped a beat.
Same outfit as from this post, Tote: St Louis PM (medium sized, 19"W x 10"H)

After the initial excitement, I regained my senses and started evaluating the bag. Designed as a shopping tote, the St. Louis has thin handles and no zipper. The canvas was thin to me, and did not hold it's shape very well. I put my 10lbs of laptop and other crap inside, and wasn't sure if this tote would be able to sustain that kind of weight long-term. Although I was immensely touched that Nick came up with this gift, I wasn't sure if bag was practical for my lifestyle...

Easy outfit pairing: Monochromatic plus a print

LOFT Petite blouse (similar in XXS-XXL; love but no petites), Cole Haan heels, ebay pearls, Chanel WOC
Ann Taylor tropical wool pencil skirt (old color, 00P taken-in) and leopard cardigan (similar)

This outfit is from early Fall, before I sold the yellow heels to a lovely reader. An easy tip for wearing prints and patterns is to pair them with monochromatic pieces. Or, if you tend to wear a lot of solid basics, add some interest to your outfit with a print layer in the same color family...

Barcelona Wrapup (& Joe's Skinny Jeans in 55 colors)

From left to right: Gala, JessicaSydneLilliana, moi, CarmenWendyDiannaVahni, and Karen.

For my last Barcelona post, here is the outcome of our MNG by MANGO photoshoot plus a little compilation video. Big thanks to jcpenney, MANGO, and Yuli of Style Coalition for an amazing time, and thank you all especially for your readership which allowed me to even be considered for this campaign.
Photo day was incredibly fun, especially since my only prior experience is with the infamous Asian glamour shot (oh, you know…the ones where everyone comes out looking milky white and flawless, photoshopped beyond recognition). I think the jcpenney team did a great job creating looks from the November collection that aligned with our personal styles.

My favorite piece here is the tweed sheath dress. It almost worked for me w/ a hem (XS fits like a 0 reg), but the waist line was 2” too low. If you are a little taller than 5 feet or have a longer torso, I recommend trying this piece.

And here’s a video with snippets from our entire trip, including the shoot. I appreciate how patient the professionals were with an amateur like myself. Behind the beautiful final photo, I was sweating bullets trying to balance on a crate in roomy heels, and to hold a smile despite uncontrollable facial twitching (how do you do it, Miss America?).

Win Holiday Cheer from Banana Republic

Paillette dress sz 00 reg c/o BR, Louboutin Elisa 100 pumps (similar), Theory blazer, Chanel WOC

With December quickly approaching, I've been giddily compiling holiday outfits (in my head). This week, Banana Republic asked me to style a party look to help promote their NYE contest. I even got to invite a friend! I chose a fab local blogger, Khatu, however our plans for a fun photoshoot together were foiled at the last minute. Nevertheless, here we are each bringing our own spin to this glitzy paillette shift dress.
Khatu is wearing: Paillette dress c/o BR, Nine west clutch, YSL pumps, vintage earrings & belt

Although BR offers a sizeable petites collection, we were both drawn to this statement shift in the regular line. The looser torso worked on me, but we both raised our hems by 5" for it to hit on us like it does on the model. When donning something covered in a busy material, print, or texture, I love keeping it simple with a basic silhouette and short length. I also believe shorter-gam'd gals can get away with showing a little more leg, especially for party time.
For a simple holiday look without breaking the bank, look for little black dresses in fun materials, like sequins (or, if you're crafty...buy sparkly fabric and sew a simple sheath). A longer-length boyfriend blazer would look perfect with a festive mini, but you can also make do with a basic suiting blazer like I did. Accent your look with crystal jewelry or a statement color. If you're trying to ease into the color red, start with classic burgundy and a rich but wearable lipcolor, like my favorite Rimmel Bordeaux.
To join in on the holiday fun, enter Banana Republic's contest to win the ultimate New Year's Eve party for yourself and five friends, including an all-expense paid trip to NYC, party tickets, plus a shopping spree. Two 2nd prize winners will also be randomly selected to win shopping sprees. To enter, just snap a photo of your favorite party outfit and share it per these instructions on Banana Republic's Facebook page. Entries will be accepted until Wednesday, November 23rd. Good luck!

Disclosure: We each received 1 dress c/o BR, and are not affiliated with the company in any other way.

New York City Asian Food Tour (from 1 year ago!)

Every other month or so, Nick and I make the trip to NYC for good food / drinks and to catch up with old friends. We had a wonderful time there this weekend (pics to come), but first I wanted to share this long-lost entry from one year ago...I drafted it on November 14, 2010 and just found it again today!

"I apologize that this post (a continuation of NYC visit part I) contains nothing but Asian eats. I don't have very broad or sophisticated likes when it comes to food. I constantly crave simple dishes full of flavors I remember eating as a child. Noodle soup, rice dishes, dumplings, hot pot ... bless my non-Chinese boyfriend's heart for putting up with my narrow palate. I treat him once in a while to tacos.
Comfy "exploring" outfit: Gap cardigan, H&M shorts and booties, F21 tights (all old)

Hells Kitchen: Totto Ramen. While previously working in NYC, I visited the famous Ipuddo several times, but was not a fan of the 1-2 hour wait and $14+ per bowl price tags. I was hoping to find a more humble alternative, and was surprised by the hoard of people waiting outside this little place at 3pm on a Friday! 
Ramen here was around $10/bowl. I felt it was comparable to, if not better than Ipuddo, and worlds better than any option here in Boston. I enjoyed the eggy noodles and rich miso broth - but as always with any kind of ramen, I felt overwhelmed by the sodium when finished.

Channeling Coco Chanel (for Less)

Jacket: Malang Jacket c/o UniQUEEN sz S (color no longer available)
Pants, belt & blouse: H&M (old), Bag: Chanel taupe flap from '09

Pioneered by my fashion idol, the combination of tweed and pearls has such a simple elegance to it. I love the top half of this outfit, but oh, drat these cheap H&M pants! I wear them a lot because the rich color is so versatile, but every time I see photos I want to burn them and get a quality pair.
A while back, Anna of UniQUEEN (based in Toronto) contacted me to try some of her petite-friendly Korean clothing. At the time I declined, but offered up some feedback. Although Korean casualwear is trendy and cute, I mentioned that I'd love to see more classy, elegant pieces available as well. I feel like petite women can currently find affordable and well-fitting casualwear from a variety of retailers (ASOS, Gap, H&M, F21, LOFT, Urban Outfitters, etc...). It's with work clothes, blazers, and coats when the options get limited. What do you guys think?
Malang Tweed Blue1
Last month, this gorgeous piece in her store caught my eye. I've been hunting for a collarless tweed jacket to fulfill my Coco styling dreams, and this one fit the bill. It comes in a feminine baby pink/blue as well as a chic navy blue/teal combo - tough decision. I've received so many compliments on this jacket, and wanted to do a full review for you guys.

J.Crew Reviews: Schoolboy Blazer and Hacking Jacket

Jeggings: J.Brand  Shoes: Aldo heels & Vince Camuto booties (returned)

J.Crew online is having 25% off everything with code STAYWARM, good until Wednesday, 11/9. Currently, there is also a generous 8% cash back if you go through ebates (referral). For petite women, I recommend checking out their coats and blazers that come in a vast selection of materials and colors (beautiful, vibrant colors!). A while back, I ordered two blazers to try on in petite sizing. Descriptions below are from jcrew.com:

Schoolboy Blazer - "One of our all-time favorites updated for fall in classic wool flannel. Featuring a posh, slightly shrunken fit and finished with details like a lapel buttonhole, a ticket pocket, a secret interior pocket...and crested gold buttons for a touch of legacy luxe."

Hacking Jacket - "Inspired by traditional British riding jackets, our newest wear-with-all third piece features a longer, leaner silhouette with a nipped-in waist for a flattering effect."
True to the descriptions above, the Hacking riding jacket (in gray) has a longer and leaner silhouette, with a more defined waist. This is especially evident in the back view. In comparison, the Schoolboy blazer (in camel) was about one inch wider and two inches longer. What a dilemma...I liked the shorter length of the Schoolboy, but the slimmer fit of the Hacking!

Barcelona Photo Journal, Part II (and impromptu TO meetup)

Summing up my Barcelona culinary experience in 3 words: ham(on), cheese, sangria.
On our first day we toured the MANGO design facility, which was quite the experience. I learned that the founder of MANGO visited the Philippines one day, tried a delicious yellow fruit for the first time, fell in love, and named his clothing line after it. Half-Pinoy Nick enjoyed that story.
On Day 2 we had a "photoshoot" for the MNG by MANGO November collection. Our outfits and looks were already selected for us. I got a fitted high-waist pencil skirt (US sz 2 in this runs fairly small, and fit like an H&M sz 4 or 00 in other brands) and a cream blouse (XS runs big).

Suit Chronicles: Bargain $56 H&M Houndstooth

H&M Houndstooth Blazer (item #083890, $49.95) and Belted Skirt (item #050425, $24.95)
Ruffle-Front Shell: Ann Tayor (similar),  Purse: Chanel Small FlapShoes: Prada, thrifted
Lipcolor: Rimmel Bordeaux (discontinued in stores?)

In my last Suit Chronicles - Tailoring Ann Taylor, I documented my experience whittling a regular-sized suit into a petite-friendly suit. In today's post, I wanted to show how you can achieve semi-fashionable business formal without spending a small fortune. This suit (purchased with coupons), top (from the outlets), and shoes (bought pre-owned) together cost $94. Add in thrifted pearls, and that's $99. We won't mention the bag ; ) but I'll be honest - there's no wearing Chanel at my job anyways. Just large workhorse totes to schlep around heavy laptops!
I usually don't browse H&M's work blazers, because the Theory outlet has unfortunately turned me into a fabric and tailoring snob. H&M is a great starter suit brand for petite women because blazers are often cut cropped (also, a sz 2 fits very slim). But once you move into Theory territory, it's hard to go back to wrinkly suits with imperfect lining and stitching. I picked up this skirt last month using a coupon, before realizing giddily that it coordinates with Kelly's adorable jacket. If I didn't read her thorough and compelling review a few days earlier, I would've missed out on a great little piece.
H&M sizing is regular, not petites, so the typical issues I face are sleeve length and total garment length...