Sunday, September 30, 2012

Review: Prada Saffiano Lux Double Zip Tote Bag

Today's post is a belated review of the Prada Saffiano Double Zip tote bag. I recorded this video a while back in a rush, and scrapped it due to fluctuating lighting and choppy content. Since several readers have been asking questions about this bag, I figured I'd post anyways in hopes of answering some of those questions.

As a preface, this bag was probably my most mulled-over purchase to date. I'd like to think that every one of my larger purchases are carefully-considered, but unfortunately, some of them could've used more thought and research on alternatives. I've been trying to shop more deliberately, which starts with discovering what the biggest "voids" are in my closet. I realized early this year that many of my work and casual outfits could use a simple brown, medium-sized bag. I needed one that was durable, lightweight, and preferably weather-resistant. I fell in love with Prada's Saffiano tote, and spent half a year trying on all the options, scouring the pre-owned market, and looking for any small ways to save. There was no rush to buy, and ultimately I ended up with something that I am in love with and do not regret (so far, anyways).
Change to "HD" (4th button in from bottom right) for better quality:

Material
What exactly is "Saffiano" leather? I couldn't find any authorized information directly from Prada, but this thread on The Purse Forum contains some member opinions that sound right. Based on that thread and a few other articles, Saffiano leather is apparently heat-treated leather embossed with a cross-hatch pattern for increased durability, scratch-resistance, and water-resistance. Several other handbag designers use it as well.
Prada Saffiano Tote Review5 Sizes 
There are so many sizes and variations of this bag that I often get confused, but the sizes that I have tried on include..

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

DIY Alteration Tutorial: Sewing/Resizing a Long Sleeve Blouse

Thank you all for the overwhelming and unexpected words of support on my last post. Although I am shopping and posting reviews less frequently, I definitely don't intend on discontinuing them altogether. For the upcoming cold months, I've been wanting a camel wool coat and ordered this J.Crew slim trench and icon wool-cashmere trench (25% off & free ship for $150 or more!) to try in petite sizing. I also receive many requests each year for affordable, comfortable boots for small feet/short legs, and ordered these Stuart Weitzman kids boots (same style as the adult version which I absolutely love) to try on for sizing and quality. I hope to share my thoughts on both items once they arrive.

Per your requests, below are the steps I took to completely re-size a long-sleeve blouse. I'm sure it's not the professional way to do it (readers - please share any tips or corrections), but I just followed logical guesses. The text in red indicates when to actually sew.
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1. Find a basic blouse that already fits you the way you want the new one to fit. This can be your "pattern." Turn the too-big blouse inside-out, and lay the "pattern" blouse on top of it, aligning the shoulders.
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2. Using fabric chalk (you can buy these at sewing/craft stores or on eBay), mark how much to take in on each side of the torso. Start at the bottom of the armpit and go all the way down to the hem. Repeat on both sides and measure to make sure both sides are equal. Stitch along both sides of the torso, exactly where marked.
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Sunday, September 23, 2012

$15 outfit: Navy Silk Dots Blouse + Wool Bell Mini Skirt

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Talbots silk blouse ($12) and no-brand wool skirt ($3), both from Savers thrift store & DIY altered
Over the past few months, some of you may have noticed a shift in content on this blog. When I first started blogging, I focused largely on finding clothing that fit and flattered, suitable for my career and lifestyle. I ordered and tried on a large volume of items and posted many reviews. This year, due to a number of reasons, that type of content has been giving way to more posts on second-hand items, or posts on restyling existing items in my wardrobe.
silkdotswoolbell3 For me, this shift first started in the spring with a new job and studying for the CFA. Having little free time meant that I really had to prioritize what to spend free time on, and shopping (& returning things that don't work out) fell lower and lower on the list. It continued after I re-discovered sewing, which really opened up the possibilities with the secondhand market versus mainstream retailers. And lastly, there comes a time in general when one's wardrobe becomes sufficiently full of the same brands and styles, and a more critical eye must be applied when shopping...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Exploring & eating in Maine: York Beach, Ogunquit, Portland

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Top: View from short sands beach (personally preferred long sands beach), Bottom: our nearby motel

This has been the summer of weekend getaways, and each one has made me appreciate how much New England has to offer. I was thrilled to find out I had Labor Day weekend off, and was easily convinced by friends to go on an impromptu retreat to Maine. We visited last year with another couple, and couldn't wait to explore more.

The first day we went on a "lobster luncheon" kayak trip run by a local pair. We were the only 4 that signed up and got a little private tour. I've kayaked leisurely up and down the Charles river in Boston and thus, ambitiously signed up for this half-day ocean kayaking tour thinking it'd be a breeze (even considered doing full-day...gasp), and will just say Nick was not pleased with his tandem paddling partner. maine2012-10
Left: Overpriced seafood place (~$30/lobster)  Right: Group shot in the middle of the ocean

All the "luncheon" consisted of was us rowing to an open restaurant with a dock and buying our own lunch. Despite this, I don't think I've paddled harder in my life than when the food came into sight.
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Refueling on onion rings, oysters, and coconut shrimp before another workout

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My Favorite Shoes from the Coach Legacy Collection

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

One of the very first designers I splurged my pennies on was Coach. Over the years, their designs have evolved and my tastes have shifted, but I keep thinking back to (and hunting on eBay for) the original, classic leather bags from the past that made the brand iconic.

This year, Coach is paying homage to that history with the Legacy collection – a modern collection inspired by iconic styles from their archives. The main material in this line is glove-tanned leather, and it comes in basic neutrals as well as four punchy colors (carnelian, sunflower, emerald, and cobalt). As someone who’s trying to move away from logos and towards quality items that stand on their own, I am very excited to see Coach revisit their heritage of making simple leather goods.

That approach carries over to other accessories as well. In addition to bags, the Legacy collection has shoes featuring the same quality leather and details. I was asked to choose my three favorite pairs from this line to share:
From left to right: Sondra bootie, Sue heel, Zoee heel
 
My top picks span a variety of designs and material types. The smooth leather Sondra bootie is a cold-weather basic, perfect for pairing with a textured mini and opaque tights. The neutral Sue heel can help tone down busy prints, while staying interesting with snake-embossed leather. Last but not least, the Zoee emerald suede pump provides a splash of color on dreary winter days, and the low heel lends to easy walking. My style must’ve gotten rather predictable, as my boyfriend clicked on over to the website and quickly guessed my picks. What can I say…I’m a sucker for classic styles with small updates. See the full collection here.

Readers - What was your first item from Coach (if applicable)? What are your thoughts on their latest Legacy collection?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Taupe & Tweed featuring Ann Taylor Grecian-Inspired Dress

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Jacket c/o Uniqueen (review), Ann Taylor Factory dress, style #286554 (similar w/ great reviews)

During Labor Day weekend, I accompanied my friend to the outlet mall with no intention of buying anything. The stores were a blur to me, (with the exception of Theory, at which I pet the soft leather jackets for an extended period of time) and the merchandise quality and deals were underwhelming. I passively tried on this drapey dress at the Ann Taylor factory to kill time, and ended up really liking it.
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If carefully assessed, the dress is not exceptional in quality nor fit. However, there were many aspects of it that I loved individually and saw potential in.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

alice + olivia Ombre Sequin Dress & Wedding at Crane Estate

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Dress c/o Alice & Olivia (40% off), Louboutin cap toes, J.Crew Edie Bag, thrift store pearls
On Nick: Theory suit and shirt, Cole Haan shoes, J.Crew tie, DIY pocket square

This past weekend, I had an incredible time at Khatu's wedding. I met her through blogging early last year, and we soon became pretty close. She is thoughtful, creative, and a wonderful friend - and I couldn't have been happier for her on this beautiful day.
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I chose this dress for a campaign with alice + olivia, and was eager to break it out again. The blush silk and intricate ombre sequins were love at first sight, and the body-grazing cut is comfy and easy to wear (see bottom of post for a tiny modification made).craneestate2
For accessories, I opted for neutral, girly heels and a cheery red satchel. This bag is slightly large for a fancy event, but on the plus side, was rather useful for storing a change of "dancing flats."

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Blush Bow and Pink Tweed (& simple button alterations)

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Gap bow blouse (similar) and BR swing jacket (both old), Prada Saffiano tote

I'm relishing every moment of the 60-70 degree temps that's perfect for textures and light layers. I know that such weather is short-lived in Boston, and soon I'll be relegated to style-quashing black tights on a daily basis.
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This jacket is one of my all-time favorites, and I'm not sure if I've ever shown this simple alteration that can really change up the look of an item. My mom bought this for me five years ago from the Banana Republic outlet (back in the day when actual regular store merchandise with the tags crossed out was for sale there, versus the "made just for outlets" crap currently). I loved the crosshatch texture and swing shape, but the big shiny black button made it look mod and childish.
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A quick switch to a neutral tortoiseshell button made the entire jacket look more expensive, not to mention much more versatile. I have a few items in my closet waiting in line for button transformations - as soon as I can find the perfect pairings.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Borrowed Stella McCartney for Target: Fitted Lace + Clean Lines

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Stella McCartney for Target Australia top (similar) & Ann Taylor necklace, borrowed from Elle
Limited(?) pants (similar in 00S-14L) & H&M blazer (both altered), Louboutin pumps from eBay

In addition to shopping the pre-owned market, another way to practice sustainable fashion is to swap clothing with stylish friends. August was a low shopping month for me both in volume kept and amount spent (~$20 for these pants and this outfit), with discipline exercised at my usual favorite stores. However, I had plenty of fun reworking thrifted pieces and playing around with borrowed items.

I got to hang out with Elle again last month, and she was so kind to remember my infatuation with her SM for Target pieces from ages ago. I was bummed that the beautiful, petite-friendly collection was only made for Target in Australia. This girly, low-cut top fit me like a glove, so I wanted to balance it out against more conservative pieces with clean, tailored lines. These old trousers and blazer did the trick.
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I like certain H&M blazers for their fitted shoulders and torso, but oftentimes the sleeves are disproportionately wide/long, or have distracting details like ruching. It takes me hours to alter lined sleeves (tutorial here), but this partially-lined jacket only needed slimming and a snipping of the elastics. Even though it saved me some sewing time, I do wish the sleeves weren't awkwardly half-lined:
yellow blazer alt
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