Sunday, May 6, 2012

Floral and Fuchsia (& shrinking the J.Crew Cafe Capris)

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J.Crew Wool Cafe Capris, H&M blouse (review) & clutch, Theory blazer (similar)
Louboutin pumps (similar) (similar in plain nude, sizes 4-12), thrift store chain necklace

I haven't been posting much lately, but am still sharing on-the-go finds / quick reviews via Facebook and Twitter (see twitpics). Please feel free to follow through either of those to receive updates : )

This is my third post featuring J.Crew's cafe capri pants. You've seen the Crewcuts kids versions which I adore, but I was initially drawn to this womens pair in a rich color and a more "grownup" lightweight wool material. Unfortunately, they suffered a bit of damage from at-home frying in the dryer, but more on that later.
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And as for this blouse...I wasn't sure about it initially, but changed my mind after seeing how much fun it adds to otherwise solid outfits. I also couldn't believe how similar it is to this Equipment blouse for a mere fraction of the price (given, that one is 100% silk)!
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Several of you have asked why I don't show pants more often, and the answer is not because I don't like them. When done right, pants can be very lengthening on petite women (especially boot-cut trousers with heels that hit right above the ground), however...

- Pants that fit my body type (or most body types, for that matter) well are incredibly hard to find.

- Waist/hip/leg alterations can be tricky and may go wrong, unlike those for basic pencil skirts. Out of all my pants that have gone through alterations (~7 pairs?), only 1 pair came out fitting perfectly.

- I commute to work in flats (gotta balance on the jerky subway), and long trousers drag on the ground.

Therefore, I went overboard with J.Crew's cafe capris and grabbed three pairs in one month. The color/print options are unique, the ankle length means no yucky dragging, and the Crewcuts versions with adjustable waists are some of the best-fitting pants I've tried. If you missed out on the print ones, their solid cotton version comes in 8 colors.

Ann Taylor neon exotic belt (very similar here in 5 colors)
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Unfortunately, the one pair I purchased in womens sizing ran rather generously. I fully expected this, knowing J.Crew's history of vanity sizing and having seen less-than-promising reviews on Sydney and Kelly. I paid around $33 for these (planned on shelling out another $15-20 for waist alterations), and have to say they're not worth much more to me. Especially not the $118 retail! Just as Sydney pointed out - the wool is thin (so thin it feels like I'm going to wear holes into the butt from sitting down), unlined and itchy, plus the cut did nothing for my behind.

Also, after trying these pants on, I realized that they needed a bit more than just waist alterations. The entire hips/butt/thighs were roomy on me, and the rise was high. I knew I couldn't visit my tailors until June (they work rather leisurely hours), so I decided to attempt DIY shrinking via the dryer. That worked well for these LOFT wool ankle pants, and I wanted to try my luck again.
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I didn't do much research (shame on me) and hand-soaked these pants in hot water, then machine-dried on high heat. Literally the moment I submerged these pants in water, the wool started to look felted and worn. The tag says dry-clean only, so I knew the risks and take the blame.
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On the plus side, these pants did shrink slightly in the aspects of length, thighs, hips, rise, and waist - at least to the point that I don't need to Steve-Urkel them. The rear is also more flattering now than before when the rise was high. During the drying process, I stopped the machine and checked every 10 minutes, to make sure these didn't over-shrink. If you've ever had beloved wool sweaters become teddy-bear size, then you know the importance of monitoring!
floralfuschia1 Readers - Have you tried shrinking items at home? If so, please share some of your stories and tips!

84 comments:

  1. You look tired! :(

    Good luck studying for your exam!!

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    1. Thank you! Counting down the days...and sleep is a luxury : )

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  2. It really is annoying how inconsistent J.Crew is with their sizing... always a hit OR miss. The cafe capris still look FANTASTIC though, regardless of the quality after you shrunk them!

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  3. Jean, I miss the posts that feature Nick in them!

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    1. I think Nick will be surprised to hear that. Next month, I'll have to share pics from our Philippines journey : )

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    2. I can't wait to see the pics from the Philippines! Did you get to go to Green Hills?

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  4. LOVE to color! I wish the kids cafe capris came in such a nice fuchsia colorway.

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  5. Jean, I recently moved to Boston and am wondering which H&M you go to? I was in one the other day and couldn't find anything that looked like what you've gotten there recently!

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    1. Welcome to Boston! I go to either Downtown crossing or Newbury St. Downtown is bigger and has kids/maternity too. The thing with H&M is they have extremely high turnover, so if you see something you like you probably have to go within a week or else it's gone! The Cambridgeside galleria one has lower turnover and probably still has older items.

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  6. Love the outfit!!! I recently found a perfect light light denim jacket at old navy. In store only, and they only had a med or large left at my store. Bought it, washed and dried on hot, and it shrank to the perfect size small. Highly recommend!

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  7. You are so brave to put a "dry clean only" item in your washing machine!

    I am so glad you kept that top! It is very flattering on you! Looks great with those heels!

    Hope your studying is still going well! Enjoy your week! :)

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  8. I want to see those philippines pics too!
    But I really love that funky floral top you're wearing.

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  9. gorgeous colours! love the pants..i really want to inveset in some coloured pants! it brings so much life into an outfit :D

    Laura x

    demure-porcelain.blogspot.com

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  10. Wow you're brave to dunk wool pants in hot water and the dryer! I've tried shrinking cotton, silk and wool tops, usually knits. It's tricky, they can shrink way too much or hardly at all.

    I have the same wool capri pants, I may throw them in just the dryer to get them a touch smaller. Thanks for risking and showing us what happens.

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  11. Love this outfit on you! And thanks for sharing your story Jean! I tried shrinking a J.Crew sweater a few weeks ago and it didn't go well =(

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  12. Wat a beautiful outfit, and love the bright pants!

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  13. Jean, I am a new follower and I am loving your old and new posts. Thanks for sharing your experiences :)

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  14. Jean this out fit is do pretty! I love it. Good luck on the exam !

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  15. Love the outfit, Jean!
    I wear more pants/jeans/leggings than skirts or dresses as that's a requirement at work and uni. So it would be heaps helpful if you could do a post on finding jeans etc. in petite sizes and altering them according to your liking.
    Thank you! :)

    Vera (Being Vera Blog.)

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    1. Hi Vera - There's a lot of options now for petite denim although I'm not sure about how it is in your country. If you have Gap, their sizing can run small and the jeans may just need a hem. Gap also has petite lengths but unless you are under 5 feet tall, they may actually be too short.

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  16. Great combination! Love the color of the pants!
    I am petite too and I too have trouble with pants' alterations all the time:(
    I feel you:)
    http://curlijuli.blogspot.com/

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  17. Adorable outfit! I love all the colors together :-) I do the same washing machine method and I get hits or misses ;-/

    Maria

    www.daintyanddecadent.com

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  18. love love LOVE fuchsia on you ... and that yellow belt is just the cherry on top! just gorgeous~

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  19. I have a 100% merino wool sweater cardigan and a 100% cashmere sweater dress that I want to shrink. I've read a couple of things on the internet.

    What are your recommendations to AVOID FELTING?

    Thanks.

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    1. I wasn't successful in doing that, so unfortunately I don't have any recommendations to shrink dry clean-only items without felting.

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  20. Love this outfit - that print is so fun & the colors are perfect together! I completely agree that J. Crew's vanity sizing is a little frustrating, because it varies so much from other retailers.

    http://www.pennypincherfashion.com

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  21. Have really been missing your posts...but you're obviously pretty busy. Best of luck with everything hon.

    xoxo
    ~Natasha Fatah~
    ~Natasha Fatah~

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  22. I tried to shrink a few things at home before but they weren't made from wool. Wool is a little trickier to care for in terms of washing and drying. I always forget how tiny you are =) These pants were totally doable on me. Although, they would have looked nicer if they were a bit slimmer in the legs. I wasn't a fan of thin material. The color looks absolutely lovely on you. The floral blouse paired with the pants are like a breath of fresh air for spring.

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  23. I always throw my "dry clean only" items into the washer (and gasp - sometimes the dryer... repeatedly!) Always. What can I say, I live on the wild side. I have noticed my trousers have shrunken significantly to where now I only dry them after several wears and otherwise line dry them. It works for a cheapo grad student :)

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  24. i love that blouse on you. great purchase...i think i may have to go pick it up now. :)

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  25. So glad you did a post with these pants! I got them on sale too but haven't worn them yet. Also - Turquoise and Caicos by Essie on your nails??

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  26. I do not dare to shrink items in the dryer. If it's not worth the alterations, I usually return it.

    I have not purchase a Capri pants from J. Crew but I have bought the Minnie. It fits good but it is also very itchy. I just thought it was my pair.

    Is it all J. Crew pants that have itchy fabrics? Are the Crew Cut ones made with similar material?

    Helen

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    1. I have tried the Minnie pants as well and those felt itchier because they are so close to the skin. The Crewcut ones are made of cotton and are very comfortable!

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  27. Hi Jean.Always looking fabulous. Please post those pictures from your trip to the Philippines. I am from over there and miss home sometimes. I love it when you have some trivia about Nick and the Philippines once in a while. At least Nick is proud to be part Filipino and not like other people I know that they don't care about part of their culture. More power to your blog. Also I wanted to start my own blog but just don't have the courage to do so.

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    1. You should! You can start just by sharing snippets of things you enjoy and not worry about sharing that blog with the world. It's a great outlet, in my opinion. And I will be sure to post the Philippines photos next month - it was such a wonderful time there.

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  28. I'm just like you... i always throw things in the drier (if the materials allow me to) in hopes of shrinking things down. I often have to tailor things because of my petite size as well. YOur blog is amazing. I love your outfit and could never pull of fuchia pants like you do. so pretty! xO!
    www.thehautecookie.com

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  29. I have only had mistakes in my shrink drying experiences. I just gave one of my 'teddy bear' sized sweaters to charity.

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  30. You look gorgeous, the colors are so pretty. I've tried shrinking before and it usually never ends well. Your pants came out great!

    xo, Yi-chia

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  31. What a beautiful outfit of fun colors but still appropriate for work! I haven't shrunk anything in the dryer that was on purpose anyways ;)

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  32. Yeah, if I shop and can't find a shirt that's my size, I buy whatever's there, and try to put it in the dryer a couple of times to shrink it. Normally I always buy a size up anyway b/c I fear that everything shrinks before I wear it. hehe.

    Btw, I saw your reply up top about going to the Philippines! That's awesome. My parents are from there, and I miss shopping there. You'll love it! Definitely try to go to Glorietta (in Makati) and Mall of Asia.

    xo Annie
    http://inspiredbythesethoughts.blogspot.com

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  33. You look amazing in this outfit!

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  34. Love that blouse! The length is perfect for wearing with leggings, but the H&M coupon (a few weeks ago) didn't apply to special collections :( And bf didn't think the price was worth it (it was $35-40 in Canadian dollars). Did you find it bulky when you tucked all that length into your pants (or skirt)?

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    1. It's really thin so it wasn't bulky in looser wool pants, but I can see it might be with tighter bottoms.

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  35. Ah yes, at-home shrinking. All us tiny ladies have done it. I recall Kelly having a post on at-home shrinking!

    The worst is when you buy something that's already tiny and you DON'T want it to shrink but it does anyway. >_<

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  36. Nice shoes! Haven't tried shrinking anything yet but My husband accidentally threw my merino wool top into the washing machine and drier. Now it will fit a 5 year old and looks perfectly fine :-) I'm going to save it for my daughter!

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  37. Jean! Great outfit choices as always! I know that it must be hard finding things that fit and then having to alter the heck out of it but... you're doing great! Happy studying!
    aneyeforfashion.blogspot.com

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  38. love the outfit! specially these shoes with the pants! amazing!

    xoxo
    Mady

    thegirlfromthemirror.blogspot.com

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  39. Great look and awesome blog! I love how you're not afraid to mix up different colors, patterns and cuts for a look that's truly your own!
    xL

    http://themarcystop.blogspot.com/

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  40. i have the same pants in blue! i got it on one of the more recent j crew sale. i agree, i wouldn't buy these pants full price. the rise is a little too high for me.

    love your blog!

    cheers,
    yvonne

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  41. Glad you did this post b/c I contemplated whether to return that H&M blouse! I think it's a keeper now.

    For a future blog, can you please provide tips on what to ask for at the hairsalon? I have been to several, and each stylist seems to have a mind of her own. Wondering what I can do to achieve better results. This last one was highly recommended, and while I told her exactly what I wanted, she proceeded to chop away at her discretion. Would greatly appreciate! Thanks :)

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    1. I was contemplating as well, but it's become a favorite! Glad you're keeping : )

      Hair is so difficult...I've had many more disappointments than success stories. Now I just go to the same guy every time (for 4? years) and even though he doesn't do a perfect job, I know it won't end up disastrous. Unfortunately you just have to find one person who understands your hair type (ie. I go to an Asian stylist who has mostly Asian clientele), get them familiar with what you want, and keep on going back to them. I ask for long layers and always err on the side of caution when talking about how much to trim off.

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  42. Hi Jean... I saw in one of your former posts that you ordered the Origami sheath from J. Crew. I have been eyeing that dress for a while and as a petite around your size I'm wondering how the fit worked out for you. Would be much appreciated ;)

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    1. Hi Peggy! Oh...the sheath. It's very lovely but just did not fit me well all-around. I expected it to be a little roomy, but it's also short (few inches above my knees) and is very difficult to alter because it's roomy at the waist/hips AND bust where the origami pleating is. If you are curvier or fuller up top then it may work out for you.

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  43. If I want something shrunk, my husband is guaranteed to be able to do it without trying. Lol. He has killed so many clothes. I lol'd at your Urkel comment. Love the colors on you. Xox P

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  44. Really appreciate that you shared that shrink-drying experience! I've been trying to shrink a pair of jeans that stretched out and looks terrible now. No luck! But I loved that pair so I'll keep trying when exams are finally over. Wish you luck on finals as well!!! :)

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  45. I have a dryer story that is quite funny. I live in a bldg where the dryer has some...issues. Luckily for me, that issue is, if you press the start button, it just starts to work, without payment...
    Lol anyways, the downside is it keeps drying and does not stop, so you will just have to time it the best you can and turn it off when you think your clothes are done. One late night before I found this out, I kept checking to see if my clothes were done, but the cycle never stopped. I accidentally fell asleep, and a couple hours later when I woke up, it was still whirring away. I worriedly removed my clothes. Most of them were fine and didn't even shrink at all, to my disappointment.
    However, a pair of plain, black dress pants were coming apart at the seams from the center of the seat of the pants...darn it...my staple item for work.

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  46. such a cute look! i have those pants!! love them! :)

    http://www.kellydillon.com

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  47. your blog is addictive - you got me checking it daily now... I like this look - however - could never wear polyester blouses as they get hot and uncomfortable. Much rather pay a little more (or a lot more!) and get silk. Have you reviewed any silk ones?

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    1. Hi there! I don't have many silk blouses, but I used to exclusively look for them because I was convinced they were the better choice over poly. These days, however, I have to admit I've been pleasantly surprised by some types of polyester. Even from the same retailers, polyester can widely differ in quality. For example, I have poly items from Ann Taylor and H&M that are horrendous, but I also have found some poly blouses from both places that closely resemble silk, except are much easier to maintain/wash and allow breathing. If you like silk blouses, Equipment (sold at Nordstrom) makes some really pretty ones, and J.Crew / BR offers some in petite sizing.

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  48. I've only tried shrinking cotton-blend items at home by soaking in hot water and then drying on medium heat. I tried shrinking wool-blend items and got the same result you did - a felty feeling material that doesn't look so great.

    I have the same issue with buying pants, since they are pretty tricky to alter. So far the winners are: Alice & Olivia high waist trousers that fit perfectly (but obviously need to be hemmed at the bottom) and J.Crew Minnie Pant in petite sizes(all of the different materials fit great). With the A+O pant, I go with a size 0, and the Minnie pant, I go with a P00 (I'm 5'2" and 105, if that helps).

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  49. No way....I don't trust myself to shrink things at home. My fear is the color fade, and the loss of shape to an item. I dry clean most of my clothes! That being said, I think you did a great job with these pants, you can't really tell they faded in the photos, and so sorry to hear wool pants were unlined...I can only imagine how itchy it is.

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  50. Beautiful combo!

    www.hauteguiltypleasures.blogspot.com

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  51. Can you do a post or video about shopping for good quality clothes? Your outfits always look well put together, but Ive noticed the material always seems very good. Maybe you can tell us what fabrics to look for? what things to avoid and etc. I don't have many high quality clothes, but I would like to start buying better pieces that last longer. Thanks!

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    1. Thank you for the suggestion! I will definitely keep it in mind for a post.

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  52. I just found your blog and Im so happy I did! I love your style so much! One question that I have is how you plan out your work outfits. I always find that it takes me so long to get ready in the morning. Do you put your outfits out the night before do you have any tricks for putting outfits together quickly? Also, Id love to know where derive your inspiration? I think you are so talented and have such a well nuanced and sophisticated understanding of fashion. Thanks so much for your fantastic blog!

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    1. Hi there! I do a rough plan the night before by peeking into my closet before bed, and also I admittedly have a routine formula for most work days ( http://www.extrapetite.com/2011/07/summertime-business-casual.html ) so it makes it easier on late mornings. If you have a good collection of separates (pencil skirts, slacks, blazers) and blouses that can be easily mixed and matched, getting ready in the mornings will be easier.

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  53. Nice! I always though fushia color won't look good on me, but since you're an Asian and pulled it off, maybe I can too.. thanks for the inspiration. Great outfit!

    ayumi

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  54. This is such a fun outfit. You did a great job with the pants. The blazer is lovely.

    xoxo,
    Suzie Q
    www.StyleCueBySuzieQ.com

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  55. very fresh and breezy... lovely! However I do not know how anyone can wear polyester tops. Have you reviewed any nice 100% silk ones?

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  56. I love this blouse with those bright pants! You'd think the colors would clash, but they look great together. You look very well-put-together!

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  57. I absolutely love this blouse!!! the pattern is incredible!
    kisses
    Elena
    http://dcinstyle.com/blog/

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  58. What size did you order the cafe capris in?

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  59. Can you talk to me about where you get your blazers? as a 5'1, 100 lbs girl i'm having lots of trouble finding size 0/00 blazers..

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  60. Hi, I am a new follower. I love your style! What color / brand nail polish are you wearing on this? Thanks!

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  61. Nice ass. This is a sincere compliment :)

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  62. Love these pants on you! They look gorgeous :)

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  63. Jean,
    I recently discovered your blog and you have great styles. I enjoyed your travel and alterations stories. You always look very polished, can you please let me know which foundation/make up you used?

    thanks for sharing.

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  64. Hi Jean - I recently bought J.Crew's stretch twill Minnie pant and they say dry clean only. They're 95% cotton, 5% spandex. Do you reckon cold hand washing would be safe on these?
    I cold hand-washed a dress a while ago that was 5% spandex (and something else, I forget) and it shrunk - I don't want to risk this happening again! D:

    Thanks in advance :)
    Mairyn

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  65. Hi,
    I bought the same pants in modern red online - fell in love with the color and style - but when it arrived, I realized it was a bit too large, particularly around the butt and waist area. I found your post about shrinking these pants - would you recommend shrinking them over altering them after doing all this? Also, for how long did you dry them for? They fit me about the same as yours did before you shrunk them. I also was wondering whether you rolled up the bottoms after shrinking them, as in your outfit picture they seem to be shorter. Please let me know! I'd really love to wear them.

    -Emmeline

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  66. I can't agree with you more about pants for petites. It sounds like I am the exact same size as you in the bottom half, and man, I hear your plight. (Asian butt does not help me.) Trousers virtually never fit right on me off the rack, and getting them tailored is a roulette spin to no fault of the tailor really. It was love at first sight for me with the Minnie but J Crew's pants tend to run wide...I am debating on whether I should take the chance. I had the Cafe Capri in kids, but the fit was off. I thought the women's version had better fabric (softer, more stretchy). The kids version had almost no stretch, and I was between sizes. And the larger size I received was not manufactured symmetrically. Hrmph. Also the manufacturing across colors varied. I got the fan print used and it didn't have the asymmetrical issue and was not as baggy as the same size in solid color. For some reason, Crewcuts tends to run wide in the waist and narrow in the knees and leg area. The skinny leg looks great, but it is always just a tad too skinny and non-stretchy for me. The women's versions are the opposite, too wide all around. I tried Crewcuts jeans - length was perfect! But width was too tight. I was afraid to go up a size as with my luck it would have been too big all around. On another note, ON's petite sizing has shrunk down quite a bit. Their petite women's sizing now seems to be smaller than Gap's. Their proportions tend to be off for me though. (Sighs.) If you ever find The Perfect Pair of Pants, please write me and let me know. I dream of the day...

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