Red + White (plus how to slim ankle pants & extend the length of a too-short necklace!)

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Ann Taylor red pants (extra 30% off w/ FRIENDSNOV), Uniqueen no. 5 jacket c/o (review), H&M; top
Coach Sue heels c/o (on sale), Prada Saffiano tote, thrifted chain necklace

As the days gets colder, one color I am loving for work wear is crisp ivory or cream (also dubbed “winter white”). Unfortunately, that love is more wishful thinking, as I’ve been unable to find any suitable pieces. I would love a petite-friendly cozy crewneck sweater (no super long sleeves and torso) and fitted wool blazer in ivory – if anyone has any recommendations, I’d love to hear it. I seriously considered this option from H&M;, but the mediocre fabric quality and long length served as deterrents.

Until that ideal blazer can be found, this stark white jacket is the closest thing I have. At the risk of being too festive too soon, I wore it with tomato red pants and finished the look with brown and gold accessories.
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There were a few adjustments made for this outfit. This gold chain necklace is an old favorite find from Savers thrift store, but the original length is very short, almost like a choker…

For wearing under a blazer, I find that longer necklaces have a more lengthening effect. Using a smaller chain necklace in the same color as the original one, I made a little “extender.” This is an easy and temporary way to change up the look of your shorter necklaces.
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 The pants in this post also underwent some DIY adjustments. I originally thought they fit well off-the-rack, then reviewed some photos (the camera doesn’t lie). The legs were baggy throughout, and the ankle openings could probably fit two ankles each. The “After” difference is subtle, but in my opinion looks more streamlined. I didn’t want tight hot pants, so just slimmed and tapered the legs ever so slightly.
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I put off alterations for the longest time due to the cuffs, which slightly complicated things. Here is a quick step-by-step of the process for anyone interested in doing this at home:

1. If your pants have cuffs: Using tiny scissors or a seam ripper, detach (pardon the spelling error below) the cuff from the seam of the pant leg that you plan on taking-in.

2. While pants are inside-out, put them on and mark along the seams with fabric chalk how much you want to take in. Keeping pants inside-out, stitch along this line all the way down to the leg opening.

3. You will need to take-in the cuff separately, just the right amount so it still fits over the newly-slimmed pant leg.

4. Flip the pants rightside-out and hand-stitch the cuff back onto the pant leg.
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red_whitetweed1These embossed Sue heels, along with the black leather Sondra bootie, are now 30% or more off. I’m a bootie lover and tried on the Sondra’s in-store – the leather is buttery soft and the heel height is comfortable, but the top opening may be wide for those with scrawny ankles. For sizing reference, I usually wear between 5 and 5.5, and took a 5 in these.
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83 thoughts on “Red + White (plus how to slim ankle pants & extend the length of a too-short necklace!)

  • Anonymous November 4, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Hi Jean,

    I'm not sure if you're already aware of this issue, but I'd like to bring it to your attention if you are not.

    I recently came across some pictures of you that were posted on an internet forum in China. The gist of it is that the OP posted some photos from your blog as well as some photos from other bloggers such as Wendy's lookbook and Chriselle Lim.

    There were 2 things that troubled me about this: one, that the Chinese forum added its watermark to your images, and two, that there is a number of commenters on that forum who are giving absolutely unwarranted and inappropriate criticisms of your appearance, e.g. your height, your body proportions, and the shape of your legs, which I feel is completely out of line.

    I think it's pretty obvious that you did not give your permission for these images to be transported elsewhere, so I am enclosing the url below if you'd like to take a look for yourself.

    http://www.tianya.cn/publicforum/content/funinfo/1/3729305.shtml

  • lin November 4, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    another great outfit, jean! so very clean and crisp. i'm really thinking of getting a jacket like yours. it seems so versatile from looking at all the posts you've worn it in. also, i'll have to check out some of coach's shoes. i have a few of them and really like how comfy they are. thanks for letting us know!

  • Angie | Pandaphilia.com November 4, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    how neat – i like the necklace extension super easy fix. as for the pants they fit amazingly! i went to loft and tried on 30 pairs of pants and none of them fit .. more poor legs are just in between petite and regular sizing. wish i had your nifty alteration skills!

  • Jessy | The Little Dust Princess November 4, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Hey, thanks for posting this for Jean! I went to the site and found out they have a lot of my photos there as well, though I'm not sure if I should even bother contacting the admins. I can't read Chinese. haha

  • Jessy | The Little Dust Princess November 4, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Hey Jean, you're in Canadian colours. ; ) lol just kidding. I love "winter white" as well, but I'm always scared of staining my clothes. I have a white bag that I'm paranoid of getting dirty.

    Love the necklace extension idea. It seems like such a simple solution, yet I don't think a lot of people even think of that! Will try it out when I need to lengthen my necklaces for outfits.

  • PetiteAsianGirl November 4, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Hi there – thank you for your concern and for caring enough to bring it to my attention. I can read Chinese and have been aware of these forums. I'm not sure what it is and I'll never understand it – but sometimes it seems with Asian cultures it's more acceptable to encourage picking on others' physical traits and flaws. The use of copyrighted images is also an issue, but I've learned to just pick my battles, ignore the negatives, and focus time and energy on the important things : )

  • grace November 4, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    wow, love the modifications – again, I need to learn some sewing skills as well!

    You too? regarding the ivory cream sweater? I've been trying to find a nice non boxy one that's soft and fits well forever with no luck. I've also been trying to find a nice cardigan. I tend to gravitate towards that color in general ๐Ÿ™‚ but haven't been finding any staples yet, sadly. I find that they tend to be too sheer or boxy, or too short, for a lot of the ivory items that catch my eye. Oh well… still looking ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Anonymous November 4, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Jean, I am so impressed with you! You're an amazing role model!
    – SW

  • Petite Therapy November 4, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    I did notice how well your pants fitted you in the 1st photo! I just thought you were lucky until I scrolled down to your tutorial. I need to bookmark this post so I can do the same to my pants when I'm sewing able & ready.

  • Anonymous November 4, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    Impeccable colour choice here as always. I love those red pants! I've been a bit wary of wearing stark white in the fall/winter (that old no white after labour day rule still haunts me, I suppose) but I was curious what you thought of it? Is it okay to wear bright white in especially the winter? I have a bright bleach white blazer that is begging to be worn but I often shy away from it!

    xx

  • Danielle November 4, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    Beautiful out fit. Love love love the red pants. You did a great job.

    Love,

    Danielle

  • Julie November 4, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    This outfit is amazing! Love love love the pants!

    xoxo, Julie @ OBSESSED

  • Lisa November 4, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    Hi, Jean!
    I'm always grateful for your alteration tips. Some quick questions: did you take these in along the inseam or the outer seam? And from what point did you begin slimming?
    Thanks so much, and greetings from Chicago!
    – Lisa

  • Abby November 5, 2012 at 1:05 am

    Thanks for the post! Your DIYs are always inspiring as I often have the same fit issue that you do. Did you have trouble taking in the pants in the hip area? That part seems the scariest.

  • Anonymous November 5, 2012 at 1:40 am

    Jean, you look upset in the first pic, what's going on?

  • jadeite November 5, 2012 at 1:49 am

    Well it's not all bad – mostly it's just people translating her posts into Chinese for others to read… there'll always be detractors! Who cares anyway ๐Ÿ™‚ Jean I think you have amazing dress sense – you've made me go to my tailor a lot more often this year (though still not courageous enough to go to my sewing machine more often too) and I thank you for that ๐Ÿ™‚

    love from a Singaporean Chinese girl (who isn't that petite by Asian standards either)

  • CoriFairy November 5, 2012 at 2:52 am

    Wow, great alteration! Looks so much better now! Beautiful pairing as well!!!
    As always I love your step-by-step legend. You probably did a lot of pants alteration before and I don't know if you ever recognized what may happen if you remove the whole amount of material from just one side? Here's just a little handy hint slimming pants: If there's a lot of material to take off you'll get a better fitting result removing it from both sides (inner and outer seam) of the leg so it doesn't lose its 'balance'. But in this special case (cuffs) I'd chosen the same method ; )
    Have a great week!
    <3 Corinna

  • Sabrina November 5, 2012 at 3:07 am

    The pants look great afterwards! They were definitely too wide before, now you look stunning in them!

    x
    Sabrina

  • mary @ BGjournals November 5, 2012 at 3:27 am

    i'm always so impressed with how you tackle alteration projects and make it look so easy! i had a quick technical question–do you end up cutting the excess material after you sew your slimmer line or do you leave the original hem?

  • m November 5, 2012 at 6:52 am

    it's amazing what a difference even "subtle" alterations make! you look fantastic. :]

  • Rachelle's Jewelry Box November 5, 2012 at 7:00 am

    this is a great look for work. I need to check out those red pants, I'm 5'4 and haven't found my perfect pair yet.
    xo
    Rachelle
    http://pinksole.com

  • Petite Adventures November 5, 2012 at 7:06 am

    Gorgeous pants – the colour is divine!

    Kate xo petite-adventures.blogspot.ca

  • Anonymous November 5, 2012 at 7:32 am

    Hey Jane,

    I know you from the tianya blog which mentioned before.
    I hope you know that many people in that forum appreciate your look a lot
    although some may say something badly. But everyone has different tastes, right?
    Hope you don't mind their comments and continue your blog BTW I have to say now I am your big fun. Your looks are just amazing!

  • Jackie November 5, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Those pants are awesome. Great job with the alterations! I found a pair like that at LOFT but they were orange. I almost bought them…I actually might go back for them now lol

  • Fabulous Petite November 5, 2012 at 10:39 am

    I love the contrast in color. After seeing this, i seriously need to learn how to sew.

    xo
    Sam
    http://fabulouspetite.blogspot.com

  • Always Maylee November 5, 2012 at 10:51 am

    I love your idea of lengthening the necklace, it's so simple but totally makes a difference! You look gorgeous as always! ๐Ÿ™‚

    xo, Yi-chia

  • Coco November 5, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Hi Jean! I've been a fan for the past year and have always admired how you always look put together and well-appointed.

    Just a few quick questions re how you manage your commute, as I find that the commute itself is a big hurdle for women to get over in their quest to always looking great. I find that in between seeking comfort while walking, sweating, and carrying the whole world in your purse, sometimes fashion takes a backseat, and I want to be able to balance that.

    1. Do you wear heels throughout the day? Even during the commute to and from work? Or do you carry a spare pair of flats? What height of heel do you find is most comfortable for you to wear throughout the commute and/or workday?
    2. How do you fit everything into your purse? I assume that you carry essentials like an umbrella or a bottle of water with you?

    Thanks for continuing to share with us your experiences! It's been a great help, and your foray into investment dressing is very much appreciated. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Anonymous November 5, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Hi Jean,

    I really love your blog. Your DIYs and outfits are so amazing. In fact, the first time I saw your post was in the above forum last year, which was transported by another Chinese girl living abroad.

    Most of people in China cannot reach Youtube,facebook,twitter or even blogger.com. To share some ideas or style tips, some people will transport or translate the post of blogger to these public forums. For some reason, may be language or just culture, they seldom asked for permission before transport. However, most "translated post" DO show the original link. That's the reason I can find your blog.I don't mean that the "translation" is right. But, to some extend, it makes your post reachable to more Asian girl.

    Btw, I would like to know which side of your trousers was slimmed? In or out? Thanks so much.

    Susanlyt
    A petite Chinese girl

  • Karin's Kloset November 5, 2012 at 11:32 am

    I love the jacket and pants!!! You are so talented!!!

    http://karinskloset.blogspot.com/

  • Christie November 5, 2012 at 11:44 am

    This is such a pretty and classy look. I love the fitted chanel-esque blazer paired with the trousers. You are so talented in the sewing department, I wish I can be as hands on!

    xx,

    http://www.loveandcompanyblog.ca

  • Angie November 5, 2012 at 11:47 am

    That jacket is really gorgeous and you're so clever with the necklace and the pants! Great look ๐Ÿ™‚ very lovely!

    x Angie || sundaybelle.com

  • *Peonies and lilies* November 5, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Love how stylish yet smart the outfit is. I've always struggled with finding clothes that fit my petite frame and your blog never fails to inspire me with outfit ideas x

    peoniesandlilies.com

  • Sunnysider November 5, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Hi jean, you look beautiful as always. I recently tried a hm blazer that came in black and cream that I thought to be more flattering than the option you looked at and posted on instagam. I bought it in black, size 4 and did not need any alterations ( although at 5'2 I am a little taller than you). May be worth checking out – product number 82-3448
    http://Www.Hm.com/gb/product/04455?article=04455-B

  • Carol Li November 5, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Such a gorgeous colour combination. I love your DIY blogs ๐Ÿ™‚

    http://www.petitesyleonline.com

  • phiphis blog November 5, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    this is a great outfit – the colours are perfect and fun. i love what you did with the pants as well. xox P

  • Anonymous November 5, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    HI Jean,
    I found this site by accident. Like you, I am 5 ft tall and 93 lbs. Though a lot older than you (I am 58) I have been this size since the first day of high shool. I get so frustrated looking for clothes, that every once in awhile, I just Google "size 00' to see what comes up – and found your blog. I just have to say, I love your style (very close to mine – classic, feminine, sylish) and I love your fearless 'alterations', you practical mixing of new and thrifted, and out of the box ideas. Girls shoes? I never knew the sizing could work. I bought the Stuart Weitzman boots you featured and LOVE them – and get many compliments, and they were only $75! It is just nice to come here to an environment where no one is telling you 'to put some meat on your bones', that I am lucky 'bcause all the great clothes out there are for small people'.. ๐Ÿ™‚ No one but the folks here could understand how much I miss Petite Sophisticate (if they are old enough).. They went out of business before all this vanity sizing really took hold. But, theres a subject for another day! But like I've said, I been at this for a long time. I also sew (and knit & crochet). One retailer that you don't mention is New York & Company, which I really USED to have good luck with, but their 0's are now too big and waiting for them to get on the 00 and XXS bandwagon. Fingers crossed. Anyways, sorry to ramble.. just feels I'm home – fashion/size-wise. By the way, I do work full-time in corporate america, so that's another fashion challenge…

    Any help I can be – let me know!!

    Sue G

  • Annapurna November 5, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Very pretty Jean! I love how you made those pants work for you – I just had to return a pair of J.crew cafe capris I got for a steal because I could not figure out how to make them flatter me (i.e. not look like 80s mom pants). maybe I did not have to return them!

    As for a cozy sweater that isn't too long, I suggest trying Uniqlo! I love my merino uniqlo crewnecks that i picked up in Japan.
    Like this one
    http://www.uniqlo.com/us/store/made-for-all/women-cashmere-crew-neck-sweater-long-sleeve/069213-00-004
    http://www.uniqlo.com/us/store/made-for-all/women-efm-round-neck-sweater/073130-22
    They have suspended online shopping because of the hurricane but perhaps it might be worth trying out. I definitely am going to order some.

  • Mary-Irene November 5, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Thank you for the link to the fabulous Coach shoes. I am really having trouble and debating which of the chunky heels to invest in this season. I love these by Coach as they are timeless, but I am also coveting the Etta Cap-toe chunky heel in the nude/black combo from JCrew. Then, of course, there is the simple and reliable AT pump (which I know will fit and feel properly)…ahh the dilemma!

  • Suzie Q November 5, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Your pants alteration looks great! I really like your pumps too, the thick soles make it look comfortable to walk in for the whole day.

    xoxo,
    Suzie Q
    http://www.StyleCueBySuzieQ.com

  • Anonymous November 5, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    Hi Jean! I never leave comments but im checking on fhe blog everyday! And these days I was checking out bananarepublic.com for a white dress (im brazilian and in Brazil we dress in white at NYE to bring peace in the new year) and i found a few options: ponte knit white dressss and pencil skirts. I didnt gonto the store to try it out (try the fit and check the fabric) but when I saw it online it reminded me of you, since you were on the search for a ponte knit white dress. You look gorgeous as always! xoxo Cecilia S.

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