Best of 2011: Reader Favorites

As 2011 is coming quickly to an end, I wanted to say a heartfelt "thank you" to each of you who read and support Extra Petite, and especially to those who take the time to interact on this blog and share helpful tips and opinions. Here are some reader favorites from the past year (click pictures to visit the post):

Tips & Tricks: 

Hair & Makeup Videos:

Favorite Purchases of 2011:

...and just for fun:

Readers - Wishing you a happy and healthy 2012!

Zara Tweed & (Faux) Leather Lapel Jacket

Jacket: Zara TRF (juniors) sz S   Dress: Theory "Yeneth"   Booties: Adrienne Vittadini "Sonnet"  Accessories: Chanel WOC, c/o t+j Designs bracelets, H&M 40den tights, Michael Kors watch

This jacket is my first purchase from Zara for as long as I can remember. I love Zara styles, but not the sizing nor the prices (especially for the low quality). While in Barcelona, I caved and picked up one piece from the flagship store as a souvenir.

Ann Taylor new arrivals and 50% off

Ann Taylor has been having an extended 50% off your entire purchase promo (UPDATE - excludes Spring arrivals, bummer), valid in-stores and online. I couldn't find a free shipping promo, so this deal is probably better in-stores.
Fireside blouse in Spiced Cherry,  Pleated Placket Blouse in Chartreuse Update: excluded from promo

Amongst Ann Taylor's recent arrivals, these two tropical blouses caught my eye. Neither are "cheap" even with the 50% off, but I can see them as wardrobe staples. The colors are perfect for adding some girly punch to mundane outfits, and both blouses can be worn with jeans (imagine how chic paired with white jeans in the summer). I also love: polyester makes them machine washable, collars make for fun layering under crewneck sweaters and tops, and center placket details elongate the torso and look great peeking out from under blazers or cardigans.

The red one is very pretty in-person with a faint spotted print, but I couldn't find my size to try on. After calling all my local stores, I was very sad to discover they no longer carry 00P's at all. I also found out the petite version is an online exclusive, so both of these will have to go on my list awaiting free shipping. Readers - did anyone try on these blouses?

Secret Santa Reveal & H&M Gingham / Flannel Shirt

This year I participated in a secret Santa exchange organized by Jessy (thanks for setting it up!). I drew the sweet Elaine from Toronto Beauty Reviews and immediately knew to get her Ann Taylor stuff (which she loves, but is not available in Canada). I first got a leopard top, then remembered Elaine doesn't wear animal print. Oops! Next, I exchanged that for a sweater, then remembered she was allergic to wool. Silly, forgetful me. I hope my last exchange was a winner : ) Head on over to Elaine's post to see what she received!
My own secret Santa turned out to be a thoughtful reader (and now a new blogger) - Ying. I had stud earrings and makeup in winter shades on my wishlist, and Santa did an amazing job picking out gifts (and wrapping them so beautifully). Thank you so much, Ying!
Shirt: H&M "L.o.g.g." sz 2 - $19.95, comes in green, pink, and blue, item # 029601
Shoes are no-brand leather boots scored from eBay.

On a separate note, here are some photos of an affordable gingham alternative from H&M. I would've never tried on this shirt if Kelly didn't point it out, because it's part of the "l.o.g.g." casual basics department which I usually pass right on by. Continue reading for my review...

Dec. Update: Gap Gingham, ON Jeggings, Chambray Shirts

Jeans: Old Navy Rockstar Jegging in Russet Brown, sz 0 Reg (7 other colors in reg, petite & tall)
Shirt: Gap Boys Gingham Shirt in kids S (warning: boxy fit, more pics coming soon)
Cardigan: Gap (old)  Necklace: Nordstrom Rack  Watch: Michael Kors  Crossbody: Chanel WOC

Thank you Wendy for introducing us to the affordable Old Navy jeggings. These retail for $35 and can probably be scored on sale sooner or later. I originally ordered white in 0P, but fell in love with this rich, versatile color (I would've named this "redwood"). This color currently does not come in petite or tall lengths. I suggest ordering one size up from your typical legging jean size. I usually take a 00/24 but a 0 in these fit me with no waist gap.

The 98% cotton, 2% spandex feels stiffer and more paper-like than my beloved old Gap legging jeans from 2010. Although the front looks great, the fit from the back on me leaves something to be desired. The pockets are large and don't bend with the curve of my butt (compare to the fitted back view here). There is extra bagginess under the butt and behind the knees. Despite these issues, I bought them because I loved the color, and I hope the material will become softer after some wear & wash. Measurements of a 0 Regular: 12.5" across waist, 16.25" across hips, 29" inseam, and 4.5" across bottom leg opening.

Review: Gap Cable Crewneck Sweater (Under $20 in stores)

Sweater: Gap Solid Cable Crewneck Sweater sz XSP, folded under (5 colors)   Skirt: YesStyle (old)
Tights: H&M  Shoes: Payless- code 59863 for 40% off  Polish: Revlon Vixen

When I arrived at my parents house, one of the first few sentences out of my mom's mouth were: "Did you order me a J.Crew lady day coat?" and "I want one of those Gap cable sweaters." After recovering from the initial shock (my mom is a fabulous cook, but our tastes in clothes are like day and night. For example, just yesterday she was trying to convince me this looks good), I happily got her a coat and chatted about the sweater fit.

Gap Striped Cable Sweater - sz XSP, 2 colors, much cheaper in-stores the last I checked. 
I apologize for the belated review on these. In short, the quality of the sweaters is good for the price, however I returned both because of the length and the color options. Continue reading for more photos...

$10 for $20 at Old Navy = Cute sweaters for $5 a piece

Deal is now closed. If you haven't seen this yet, Groupon is having a $10 for $20 at Old Navy (referral) offer that ends soon. This is a pretty great deal especially since their cute sweaters often go down to $10 or less. See Sydney's timely review of some current styles. I'm going to wait for post-holiday sales before using mine.
I hope you guys are enjoying (or will soon be enjoying) some time off with your families. Yesterday, I went out to celebrate my dear grandpa's 80th birthday. In the absence of my trusty photographer, I asked the little brother to snap some quick outfit pics. Next thing I knew - my entire curious family had joined in! Oh, the raised eyebrows from passerbys : )

PS - TJ Maxx giveaway winners have been posted here. Congrats Shakeela, Stephie MS, and Mary!

Holiday Work Outfit (& first time at high tea)

J.Crew Lady Day Coat (old), 0P in "Cobblestone" (2011 version is called "Warm Gray")
Ann Taylor Perfect Patent Pumps, sz 5 (now 50% off w/ WINTER50), Chanel small flap

Here's another example of an affordable business casual outfit. If you're starting out fresh, make sure to first add some quality pumps to your lineup that can be worn repeatedly with bargain finds from H&M, thrift stores, and the like. My trusty pumps here were scored for $65 (you can get 50% off right now using WINTER50), blouse was $10, and skirt was thrifted for $4 plus $25 for dry cleaning and alterations.
This month, my dear friend Carolyn introduced me to one of her favorite traditions - afternoon tea. After a few of my friends studied abroad in London, they came back obsessed with having afternoon or "high" tea every weekend. The prices charged by local hotels here are a bit extravagant for the amount of nourishment you receive, so we're reserving the experience for the holidays : )

J.Crew Lady Day Coat for $56 (83% off)

Update: All $56 coats are now sold out. Hopefully they'll do this again! I got a note early this morning (thank you, Tay!) saying these coats were now $56, and I almost fell out of my bed. Sure enough, certain colors in certain sizing are currently on sale for $80, plus use code SNOWMAN for another 30% off. I'm not sure if this is a pricing act quickly!
 J.Crew Lady Day Coat w/ Thinsulate now $56 Discounted colors sold out.

**TJ Maxx / Marshalls Giveaway is Now Closed**

**Giveaway is closed! I selected the winners using Congrats, Sharon, StephanieMS & Mary!
Happy Monday! As mentioned previously, I'm giving away three $50 gift cards to TJ Maxx / Marshalls, usable in the US only. The instructions are simple (both steps are mandatory):

1. Please fill out the following form with your name and email address.
2. Please leave a comment on this post sharing your favorite find from either store. If you don't have one, leave me a comment about what you'd like to use the gift card towards. Anonymous commenters, please leave a first name within your comment & make sure it matches what you typed into the form below.
*If you don't see your comment after posting, it may just be on the next page so no need to re-post : )*

Gift cards were provided c/o TJX. Giveaway ends Thursday 12/22/11 and I will choose 3 winners using a random number generator. Winner will have 72 hours to claim her prize. Good luck!

My TJ Maxx Shopping Guide (giveaway to come)

This holiday season, TJ Maxx & Marshalls asked me to share some picks from their stores. I'm a pretty loyal customer of this locally-based company (perhaps it's because my first job ever was at a Marshalls) and especially for last-minute gifts. Here's some of my regular "pit stops" when speed-browsing my local TJ Maxx:

1. Scarves - gifts that are guaranteed to fit.
The scarf selection at my local store is extensive to say the least. This winter wall continued for a few more yards, plus there was a whole other wall of silk & lightweight scarves behind me. Prices of the ones I tried on ranged from $6 to $40 for cashmere, and were marked at about 50% off retail or more. tjmaxx1
Wearing: My J.Crew lady day coat from 2010 in 0P, and Calvin Klein Elara pumps in leopard. I tried on this lightweight olive one with mustard fringe, imported from Italy (approx. $24?):

H&M Spring Review: Emerald Green Pencil Dress

**Gap Update: Use code GAPCHEER for 30% off everything. The cable crewneck I showed here in XSP is now $16.79 (~75% off). If you ordered something online yesterday, I'd call & ask about a price adjustment!**
Dress: H&M sz 2, $34.95, item # 052574   Heels: Louboutin Simple 100 pumps (similar in 5.5-11)

When I first tried on this dress, I was in love with the classic silhouette. It reminds me of something Victoria Beckham would wear and is reminiscent of the ASOS pencil dress I got in two colors, except this one is lined, has stretch, is less poofy at the hips, and costs quite a bit less. I also love the color (a true, preppy kelly green) which is flattering against many skin tones.

Here I am experimenting with the double-placket blouse layered on top. What do you guys think? Weird or do-able? The greens are a perfect match and I like that it almost looks like a shirt dress.
I will warn you guys though that this dress has it's issues and will not be flattering on every body type. After bringing it home and carefully examining the quality and fit, this is what I noted...

H&M Spring Review: Double-Placket Shell & Floral Skirt

Holiday sales flooding my inbox this morning:
- Ann Taylor: 40% off your entire purchase with code ENTIRE40
- LOFT: 40% off full-price styles and 50% off sale items with code SHOP40
- Gap: 60% off lots of sweaters including the lambswool cable crewneck which is now $23.99 (review coming soon - the knit is smooth, heavy, and not itchy). *UPDATE 12/18 - use code GAPCHEER for another 30% off, making this sweater $16.79*
^Update: Here's Petite XS on me in Lagoon Teal, worn with Payless Pumps (use code 59863 for 40% off).
Blouse: H&M sz 2, item #030395, $17.95   Skirt w/ belt: H&M sz 2, item #057592, $24.95
Accessories: YSL Arty ring, MK watch, Revlon Vixen polish, J.Crew earrings (old)

H&M is currently having their winter clearance with many items marked down to $5 - $15. Jaded by the older merchandise, I was on my way out when a teeny tiny rack of floral and brights caught my eye. I ended up getting two double-placket shells and an emerald green dress. I see the tops going fast, so in the interest of time I'll review the shells first and the dress in a later post.

Snapshots: J.Crew Icon Trench Coat in Wool-Cashmere

J.Crew Icon Trench in Wool-Cashmere (wearing 0 petite), now $182 after discounts

J.Crew is having 30% off everything again and free ship over $100 with code SNOWMAN. I found these old photos of a camel coat I tried on & returned a while back. A review is probably not necessary now that most sizes are sold out, but in a nutshell - this coat was soft and a good weight, but the sizing was too generous on me and felt like a bathrobe. 0P was the smallest size, and I made the mistake of ordering it before I saw the Stadium Cloth Boulevard Trench in 00P. That one out of sizes lightning fast, especially in the camel color. I guess a new coat just wasn't meant to be for me this year!

Tip: It does pay to check J.Crew's website early in the morning (East coast time), as the inventory refreshes overnight and sizes may pop back into stock due to returned merchandise. 

Something Fun: Payless Block Heel Pumps - $18

Payless Brash Block Heel Pumps - use code 59863 for 40% off (thanks, Kellie!)

I'm not usually a platform nor block heel kinda girl. I feel that chunky heels can weigh down short legs, and make them look stocky versus long and lean. There's something about these pumps, however, that's done right (especially for a discount brand). The slightly tapered block heel and high-cut arch look retro chic, without being too clunky.
(Above) Trying 'em on with a holiday mini (or black tights) and (Below) with Seven Gwenevere jeans...
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