Summer Fashion Faves Part II - Jewel Tones & Nautical Stripes

I recorded this back with Part I - White Dress & Printed Skirt, but forgot to post. I don't feel strongly about any of the outfits in this segment, but they are each simple pairings that I've been wearing this summer, comprised of very affordable pieces.

*Note: Change video to HD (4th button in from the bottom right) for the original quality*
Outfit 1: Turquoise skirt from Savers thrift store ($1.99) DIY altered, Gap white tee, Ann Taylor cabachon necklace (on final sale for $19.88)

Outfit 2: Same skirt, H&M conscious collection floral blouse, Ann Taylor belt, Target Versie pumps (see my nude pump review)

Outfit 3: H&M kids striped tank (similar in adults for $8), H&M white shorts, clutch & belt (came with dress), Gap yellow sweater, Nordies Rack pearls, Target sandals

Outfit 4: Same tank, Mod cloth mustard pleated skirt (similar for $15.80), Theory blazer from outlet, Target sandals

Silk floral print dress 2 ways - for work and for a wedding

On the Mark necklace c/o Stella & Dot, Ann Taylor perfect pointy pump

Before purchasing this dress on final sale, I had some doubts. Strapless pieces are historically not the most comfortable nor versatile items in my closet, but I was convinced to get my worth of wears out of this one. I wore it to work paired with a slim blazer and waist-accenting belt, and a simple necklace plus neutral pumps. If you never take your blazer off at work, you can even wear a non-strapless bra for full comfort throughout the day.
Nordstrom rack faux-pearls (similar), H&M neon heels (from last season)

For a party or special occasion, I would let the simple yet elegant silhouette shine, and just add some strappy heels and a necklace to fill in bare chest space. A neutral or cognac brown sandal would work fine, but I loved how these bright ones brought out the neon in the print. I look forward to wearing this outfit to a hot-weathered wedding later on.

Review: My experience shopping Dorothy Perkins Petites

Update - I would caution non-UK based customers against shopping at DP given the poor customer service. Unfortunately, after sending back my returns according to their instructions, it took over 35 emails from me over a span of 3 months to receive any sort of assistance regarding a refund from them. Their customer service is outsourced and only reply about once a week, often with one-sentence, automated messages stating that they cannot help. Since this post, I have also received numerous emails from readers sharing DP customer service horror stories covering a wide variety of issues. I apologize to anyone who may have ordered from DP based on this post of mine and experienced customer service issues.

After reading Sydney's post about the UK retailer Dorothy Perkins, I was very intrigued by their petite offerings in size 0P-14P. I signed up for emails to get a 15% coupon code, then ordered a small assortment of items (blouse, blazer, dress, and pants) to try on for quality and fit.
Before I delve into details, some overarching notes: sizing and quality is similar to other UK fast-fashion retailers Asos and Topshop (but lower prices than the latter). The Petite 0's I've tried from all three brands fit similar to H&M sz 2, and feel smaller on me than American size 00Ps. Thus, I would suggest sizing up from your usual American clothing size. Shipping to the US and return shipping are not free (when I ordered, they were having a free ship over $75 promo). We are spoiled by ASOS's policy - which I now realize is very generous and convenient for an international retailer.
Petite Chain Link Sheer Blouse - Now $27 from $49 plus get extra 15% off from emails

Thoughts: I am a sucker for chain print and really liked the easy-to-wear cut of this blouse. The yellow and blush pink colors were soft and feminine. I was slightly surprised by how sheer it was but that can be addressed with a skin-colored bra (which I have on in the photos) or under tank. My favorite details were the double-placket buttons down the front and small collar, which adds a pop of print when layered. Fit was "casual" (but not oversized), and the length worked well even un-tucked.
Measurements: My 0P measured 16" across throughout, 22" front length, 23" back length.
Verdict: I liked many things about this top and debated over keeping. However, with my slowly-but-surely-growing wardrobe, I couldn't see myself getting enough wears in to justify the price I paid ($41.65). I just went back online and saw that the price was cut to $27 (and eligible for the 15% off newsletter coupon). I would have kept it for that price.

Next up, my favorite item from my order was this white linen blazer, but it was not perfect as-is.

Thoughts: I've been looking for a new white, classic, single-button blazer. I couldn't have asked for a better fit in the torso - this blazer was slim cut and contoured to my upper body, but not so tight that it was pulling across the back...

Map of the World Pencil Skirt with Convertible Peplum

**Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale starts today (prices go back up August 6th)! These discounts are on new merchandise for next season and not summer clearance. I'm personally interested in checking out this genuine leather cropped jacket from the juniors dept (smaller sizing). PS -Shop via ebates for an extra 5% cash back.**mapskirt2
Custom map skirt from SPG, H&M tank and clutch, Hermes belt sz 70, necklace c/o Stella & Dot

Today's post is a closer look at the fun-tastic skirt from this video. A while back, my favorite DIY blogger, SewPetiteGal, posted an in-process photo of her latest project - a darling map of the world print skirt with a convertible peplum piece. Enamored, I immediately messaged her asking if I could buy one. SPG was so kind and refused to accept payment, but I would hands-down shell out for such a unique creation. Especially one that was hand-made to custom measurements.
SPG is currently making a few of these for sale, and gives the option of just a pencil skirt if you're not into peplums (see on Tammy). She also generously posted a tutorial for recreating this piece if you are crafty. Why every peplum dress does not have a convertible piece like this is beyond me. It's such a genius idea, and allows for double the versatility!
mapskirt5 The pencil skirt alone is a great way to inject some character into drab business casual wardrobes. If ordering, you can specify the length and other measurements to ensure that it will fit and meet dress code requirements...

Ann Taylor adjustable waist pants & more J.Crew sale reviews

I posted most of these photos already via Instagram, but due to numerous inquiries on fit I wanted to share a few thoughts on here. After J.Crew upped their discount to extra 40% off final sale, I couldn't resist stopping by a store again. I got there minutes before they closed but these patterned strapless dresses immediately caught my eye.
J.Crew Ella Strapless Dress in garden floral (extra 40% off) and medallion paisley (item #72213)

I certainly don't need a strapless dress, and usually avoid buying things for the "great deal," but the combination of a vibrant pattern, great fit, and value ($24 for fully-lined, 100% silk dress with pockets and bust boning) swayed me to purchase. I made it work appropriate today with a blazer and some neutral pumps.

Fit: J.Crew womens clothing (notorious for vanity sizing) is usually a big miss for me, so I could not believe how similar this 00 regular fit to 00P's from other stores. The torso was just perfect on me snugness-wise, the bustier length was not too long, and the structured bust cups was not too roomy. The hips were slightly wide on me (but no bigger than BR or AT 00P hips), which I DIY altered by slimming 1" off each side and tapering in at the bottom. Length was also unexpectedly great for regular sizing, and hit me right above the knee.
Measurements: 00 regular measures 14.25" across the top of bust, 12" across the waist, 8" bodice length, 20.5" skirt length, 17.5" approx hips, and 17.5" bottom opening (not factoring in the slit).

Price: These are on sale online, but in-store pricing was lower at $24 for the silk floral, and approx. $36 for the sateen-like medallion paisley (both prices are after the extra 40% off and are final sale). If you locate your size at any store in the country, I believe they ship to homes for $7 or $8. If you want to use store locator, I feel the best time to call is right when they open so the inventory system is accurate, and so SA's have time to look stuff up.
Ann Taylor petite pants (2 colors), DIY dot blouse, Ferragamo bow low pumps (this year's version)

Next up...I've had a burning desire for classic red pants all year, especially since seeing Phiphi & SPG's ensembles...

Shopping Snapshots: J.Crew & Designer Shoe Sales

**Get extra 40% off all J.Crew final sale items, both in-stores and online w/ OURTREAT. If you shop online through ebates (referral), they are currently offering increased 6% cash back.** 

My picks:  Silk colorblock striped blouse in 00P-12P, now $24, Crewcuts chambray polka dot skirt (on me in sz 10) with cute pockets, now $18 w/ free ship, and Apple bobbing pants (on me in sz 12) now $24 w/ free ship.julyreviews9
Miu Miu nude platform pumps, extra 40% off at Bloomies = $288 from $645. Full price at NM.

All the higher-end department stores (Saks, NM, Barneys, etc) have been having their designer clearances this month. Discounts are steep as we're nearing the end of the sale, but pickings are getting slim. After popping into all of these stores, the only item I fell in love with were these platform Miu Miu pumps. I've been looking for a sleek, sexier neutral platform shoe for special occasions, and these fit the bill. The leather is soft, the almond toe is perfectly shaped, and the platform was comfortable and super leg-lengthening. Unfortunately, only sz 6+ are available - call Bloomingdales in Chestnut, MA if interested and they can look up other sizes and ship to you.

Bloomies also has two styles of Ferragamo bow flats on sale for 50% off retail in-stores - the tortoise/lizard cap toe version, as well as the bright pink smooth patent version. These aren't the most classic color combos, but just wanted to share.
These Chanel open-toe pumps were at both Saks and NM for this price. I slipped my foot into them and realized why they were still unsold...the front opening was so high that the entire lengths of my toes poked out (not delicate-looking).julyreviews2
J.Crew Fabiola dress in abstract leopard, size 00 regular, $42 from $178, Target sandals (old)

Extra 30% off is still going on at J.Crew, but everything is final sale. Pricing is much lower in-stores and online, and there's some inconsistencies from store to store, depending on location. The prices listed in this post are from a suburban location. I believe stores ship to homes for a fee of $7 or $8...

Mint Dress + Cabochon Necklace (& some Ann Taylor reviews)

H&M dress (old, DIY altered), Ann Taylor necklace (may still be in stores for $19.88)

Ann Taylor hit it out of the park last season with this cabochon necklace. If I didn't know better, I could've mistaken this for costume jewelry passed down by someone's grandmother. It has good weight and makes a statement against any backdrop. I especially love wearing it with large pearl stud earrings to really bring out the white stones. It's now on final sale for a mere $19.88 (sold out online) - I shelled out more, but it's earned its worth in wears. Thankfully, I no longer work on a team of fashionistas who used to chastise me for wearing favorite pieces too much.
These taupe pointy patent pumps are also a recent Ann Taylor purchase...

Giveaway: $100 and $50 gift cards to LOFT

**Giveaway is now closed. Thank you all for entering and congrats to the winners below! Winners were drawn using based on the numbered order in which entries were received.**

$100 card winner - Aviva
$50 card winner - Jen Estanilla
2012summergiveaway_anntaylorPictured: LOFT leopard print dress (and a more subtle animal print) in reg. or petite

I received some gift cards thanks to LOFT and wanted to share them with two lucky readers. I have a $100 and a $50 card which are good in the U.S. at any LOFT or Ann Taylor, as well as their respective outlet stores.  

Rules: This giveaway is open to followers of this blog. To enter, please fill out the form below letting me know how you follow - whether it's via Bloglovin', liking my Facebook page, or through Twitter

Winners will be drawn using a random number generator on 7/16/2012 and will have 72 hours to claim her prize. Winners will be validated and multiple entries per person will be disqualified. Thank you for entering, and good luck!

Date night: Forever21 Floral Peplum Skirt

F21 skirt (old). Shop floral peplum dresses here for <$20, here for <$35, or here in petite
H&M shell + clutch, Theory blazer, Hermes belt, Prada sandals, necklaces c/o Stella & dot

Just a quick post showing an outfit I wore out to dinner before the heat waves hit. This skirt from Feb 2011 was one of my last purchases from Forever 21. Remembering how rarely I wear my F21 items (and how quickly they fade/fall apart after wash & wear) encourages me to always walk out of that store empty-handed. I see others with good finds from there, but don't have much luck myself. floralpeplum1
This pretty skirt was a "steal" for $15.80 and thus, I brought it home even though it didn't fit. I took it to my tailors for an assessment, but couldn't bear to spend $25+ to have it taken in (the peplum made it too hard to alter myself). I then tried shrinking it in the dryer, which faded the vibrant colors. In 17 months I think this was my first time wearing it, and the awkwardness of holding up the waist with a belt and constantly adjusting makes me not eager to wear it again...

Simple Summer: White Pencil Dress + Layered Pearls

BR Factory dress, item # 234795 (now $30-$36), eBay pearls (similar for $15 or $12)
Hermes belt sz 70, Louis Vuitton Speedy 25 bag, Target sandals (similar for $40)

As mentioned in this video, one of my favorite summer work pieces is the classic white pencil dress. Before buying this cotton one from the BR Factory, I hunted around for weeks. Ideally I wanted knit ponte, because it just conforms to the body better and wrinkles less than cotton. Unfortunately, all the ponte options I found (there was an AT version and an unlined BR one reviewed here) were $100-$150 plus numerous alterations needed - and I didn't want to pay too much for a dress that could easily be ruined by one spilled margarita. 
After a few weeks of debating, I ordered this dress from the BR Factory, sight unseen, on sale for $60 (from $99) plus $5 shipping from store to home. When the dress arrived, it fit as expected like other BR 00P dresses. It was do-able on me without alterations, but I wanted a sleek, more fitted look...

MAGNUM Ice Cream & alice + olivia collab, Part II

As mentioned last week, I got to be part of a collaboration with MAGNUM Ice Cream (Web/FB/Twitter) and alice + olivia to celebrate the launch of MAGNUM Mini ice cream bars. I had eyed these many a times while aimlessly wandering the frozen treat section at Target, and finally got a taste at the event. a+o will also be designing a mini skirt inspired by the bars, which I am curious to see revealed during Fall fashion week.
Final look: c/o Alice & Olivia dress & heels, borrowed Ben Amun pearls & Amarcord Vintage jacket

For the collaboration photoshoot, we each got to style looks and choose backdrops inspired by our favorite flavors. I was quick to select Classic, and wanted to channel an "old-time glamor" look using a sequined shift, long pearls, and a vintage jacket that brought out the glimmers of yellow from within the dress. Shift style dresses can be surprisingly flattering on petite women, especially if you have a smaller chest. If the dress just skims over your torso and drapes at the right places, it creates sleek, simple lines. I just like to balance out more covered shift dresses with higher hemlines and tall, neutral heels.

Disclosure: This campaign is produced by Style Coalition and sponsored by MAGNUM Ice Cream.

Summer Favorites Video, Part 1 - White dress + bold prints

After taking a 6 month hiatus from YouTube, I felt so encouraged by some of your messages that I decided to try again. My friend Jimmy generously opened up his bright space to me so that I can fit more than a head and chest into the frame. I felt a mile away from the camera and tried using a mic (gifted by my thoughtful little brother), so please bear with the severe volume swings. This was also my first time recording with friends present, thus was a nervous chatterbox. The multitude of challenges faced while filming a basic video make me really appreciate YouTubers like WendysLookbook who produce amazing ones, time and time again.

*Note: Change video to HD (4th button in from the bottom right) for the original quality*
Items shown (I will share more details about fit, quality, and alterations performed in future posts):

White Dress Outfits
- BR Factory white pencil dress (similar), $99 got on sale for $60 and altered at home
- H&M blazer, Forever21 necklace & striped belt that came w/ shorts (this year's version)
- Hermes belt, Aqua shrug, random double pearls ($12 option here), Chanel WOC, Spotted pumps c/o a+o

Printed Skirt Outfits
- Amazing world map skirt with detachable peplum custom made by the talented SewPetiteGal. She has limited material available for custom, made-to-measure orders.
- H&M ivory shell, Hermes belt reversed
- H&M basics burgundy tank, Christian Louboutin simple 85 pumps, H&M clutch

Readers - What are your favorite summer pieces?