Fair-weather fall: Cream wool skirt & cognac ankle boots

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Adrienne Vittadini booties (similar), H&M bag & knit blazer (similar, cute b&w striped one too)
Thrifted wool skirt (similar - up to 30% off w/ WINTER), blouse c/o Ann Taylor, Talbots earrings thanks to Elle

Just a quick post today sharing forgotten photos from Dallas last month. Night temps there cooled to a mild mid-60's, and I wore this outfit to low-key drinks with friends. For those who live in a warmer climate but still want to inject seasonality into outfits, look for cold-weather materials like wool and leather, but in smaller doses. A wool mini can probably carry you through three seasons, as can leather ankle booties.
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Winter Work Wear: Gray Layers + Burgundy Leather Accents

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J.Crew lady day coat & tee, skirt made by the talented SPG (similar - use MONDAY for extra 40% off)
AT factory tights (similar), AT loafer pumps (similar - use CYBER for 50% off), H&M blazer & gloves

Even though winter doesn't start for another month, it sure feels like it now in the northeast. For those headed back to work after a long weekend, morning temps in the 20's may make it even tougher. I've lined up my coat with Thinsulate, thickest tights, warm tweed, and leather gloves to battle the elements.
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Stylish winter workwear that doesn't involve black tights is always challenging for me. My past attempts with colored hosiery have not fared well, but I'm looking to experiment more with tights in dark navy, hunter green, and possibly deep burgundy. Dark "melange" or heathered gray can be an good bridge between black and colors, and looks nice against non-black shoes.

J.Crew & Banana Republic Sale Purchases Update

*Sale update - NY & Company is currently having 50-70% off everything and free shipping at any price. I stopped by a store and everything looked roomy, but I just saw that they have "petite-proportioned" work pants online starting in 0P (size chart says for women with a 23.5" natural waist, 34.5" hips, 29.5" inseam). I ordered their signature 7th ave bootcut trousers in black cherry to try for $24 (other petite pants avail. in black, white, gray, and hunter green). I've been looking for leg-lengthening trousers similar to my beloved old bootcut ones that were bought for cheap and tailored to fit. I anticipate that these will need alterations per usual, but hopefully the silhouette and color are nice.*  

I hope U.S. readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday with your loved ones. Turkey at my house is hit or miss, but my mom's "fusion" bird this year was a complete success. She stuffed it with sticky rice, cooked soup with the carcass, and made steamed buns with the leftover meat. For those who asked about the stuffing recipe, the basics are: 1) cook the sticky rice (she uses brown for healthiness and texture) in the rice cooker; 2) sautee finely diced carrots, black mushroom, ginger, garlic, and turkey giblets (if you eat these) with oil, soy sauce, and sugar until partially cooked; 3) mix in with the cooked sticky rice then stuff into your bird. This dish was my favorite part of the meal...the flavor imparted by the turkey onto the rice was quite tasty.
In "Black Friday" sale news, J.Crew is having 25% off everything again (w/ COLOR25), so I wanted to provide an update on items purchased. Over a year ago, I reviewed two of their signature blazers and returned both. Since then, however, I've had so many outfits that just needed a basic camel blazer. Although the J.Crew Schoolboy is not perfect, I haven't been able to find another wool option that fits better off-the-rack. Alas, I finally picked it up again in 00P during the last 25% off sale.


Center: J.Crew Schoolboy Blazer in "heather carmel," old LOFT top, AT pants
Right: J.Crew Lady Jacket in Double Serge Wool & skirt (clipped back) 
My likes & dislikes with the Schoolboy blazer remain the same from this review. For now, I'm happy with it for being functional and for filling a wardrobe void. It goes with many things, and the color is great for neutralizing bright colors or busier prints.
The Lady Jacket in Double Serge Wool also arrived, and I love it. It has it's issues -boxy torso, 3/4 length sleeves- but the overall fit is decent, the quality is good, and the textured wool is warm. Measurements of a 00P are: 16.5" across the chest and bottom, 15.75" across the waist, 14.25" across the shoulders, 19" long sleeves, 5.5" sleeve width, and 18" back center length. I did get the matching pencil skirt, however bottoms in neutral prints, gray, or winter white would look less matchy-matchy.

Banana Republic is having a better promo - 40% off everything w/ BRFRIDAY, today only. I noticed that they are currently offering free return shipping in addition to their free everyday shipping on orders over $50. My picks are:

- Martin flannel trouser (3 colors), ordered in "cocoon" in hopes of expanding my slacks collection
- White wool-blend belted coat ($150 after promo)
Monogram lace dress (restocked online in petites) from this post

Readers - Please share any favorite purchases or deals from this holiday weekend!

Review: Stuart Weitzman tall boots for narrow calves (& kids)

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Stuart Weitzman Mainline boots (similar here or here), H&M tights & old coat (similar)
Ann Taylor leather trim skirt (similar), J.Crew turtleneck (this year's), Chanel accessories

Earlier this month, Nick wanted to visit the Arnold Arboretum before it was too late. I piled on three layers and pulled on my tall walking boots for comfort and warmth. Sandy had taken down most of the leaves, paving a crispy, golden path through the trees to stroll on.

In my frustrating search for narrow-calved boots, I never considered an over-the-knee (OTK) style until my friend Wendy spoke so highly of her Stuart Weitzmans 50/50s. We are nearly the same size, so I really value her recommendations. OTK boots usually have a risque connotation, but the flat style makes these more classic. The calves are nice and slim, and the foot is narrow and sleek. The ones I am wearing are the "Mainline" low-wedges from last year. I don't see them available for women this year, but Stuart Weitzman's signature 50/50 boots are extremely similar with no wedge.
arboretum1I absolutely love these boots, and thus was excited to see a little girls version for a fraction of the womens' price (albeit not real leather). The sizing went up to girls 5, which can probably fit a womens 6 to 6.5.  I've worn my adult ones so much commuting to work and on the weekends that I entertained the thought of a "backup" pair. I tend to scuff up the front of my leather shoes quickly, thus wouldn't mind a non-leather duplicate for beating around. The final push to try was the positive reviews - not by little girls...but by grown women claiming these were great petite-friendly boots.

Top left: SW Women's Mainline boot in sz 5  vs  Bottom Right: SW Girls Mainline boot in sz 4 (kids)
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As soon as the kids boots arrived, I realized they just do not compare. You do get what you pay for, and my expectations were probably too high from owning the womens pair first.

Leopard and Layers (& protecting clothes from underarm stains)

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H&M blazer (from 2011, but they have one right now just like this), Asos tulip dress (most sizes sold out)
Target chambray shirt (similar), Calvin Klein leopard pumps (similar)

This outfit comprised of all old garments isn't anything special, but I wanted to share a quick tip discovered out of it. I've been trying to stretch my lighter pieces into this season by layering aggressively for warmth. Perhaps a little too warm...because when I took off this blazer at work, there were unsightly damp spots at both underarms. Such spots are especially noticeable on materials like light chambray or silk. You bet I put my blazer right back on!
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I know some will be quick to suggest simple deodorant, but the sweat-prevention aspect of deodorant has never worked for me, and I don't like the residue. Studies have also showed that some anti-perspirant agents, when combined with your body heat or moisture, actually worsen the stains that result afterwards. While brainstorming for solutions, I remembered designing dance costumes for a friend in college. His special request was something to prevent visible perspiration on the silk, and I had suggested sewing shoulder pads into the underarm area...

Work Wardrobe Update: J.Crew Sale Purchases

J.Crew is offering extra 30% off sale items again (use code MUSTHAVE, ends 11/18) coupled with a new round of markdowns. There were a few items on my longtime watch list that fell to attractive price points:
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1. Mona Leather Pumps, 3 sale colors, $110 from $198
2. J.Crew No. 2 Pencil Skirt in Double Serge Wool, 4 sale colors, $55.99 from $130
3. J.Crew Lady Jacket in Double Serge Wool, 3 sale colors, $69.99 from $258

1. I've been looking for basic cognac brown pumps for what feels like ages. I've tried on quite the variety, ranging from these Ann Taylor ones to these Louboutins. I resold the AT's because I wanted a covered leather heel, and returned the CL's because they were a little too plain for full price (chalked up $30 in return shipping to overzealous purchasing). The lower heel made it mostly a work shoe, and I've been weaning off wearing red soles at work. I pinned the Mona pumps months back as a new contender, but never tried them on in-person. In my experience, J.Crew shoes run about half a size smaller than AT, and I'm hoping the rounded toe is comfy. I recently tried on a 5.5 in their Everly tweed pump, which fit well lengthwise but the pointy toe was not comfortable.

2. Next up, I think my mouth fell open a little when I saw Elle model this suit in spicy gold. I love both pieces on their own, and together they look so ladylike with a hint of vintage charm. The jacket was in my size for over 70% off, and I couldn't have checked out faster. Beware as it is a final sale item.

3. I tried on their mustard yellow double serge wool pencil skirts over two years ago, and loved the quality and color options. Unfortunately, the sizing ran generous and I did not want to keep it for the price + $25-$30 alterations. This time around, I might be brave enough to DIY, or try out this recommended tailor in Chinatown that charges only $13. I am less concerned about the size (got the smallest available at the time) because alterations from both sides are necessary regardless.

Readers - Have you picked up anything good from J.Crew's frequent sales lately?

Superhero Season: Gap Kids Trench Cape & Leopard Pumps

*FYI - the Banana Republic Anna Karenina lace dress in this post was just restocked online in all petite sizes (please note I shortened the hem and tapered the skirt). Thanks, Rosie, for the tip : )* trenchcape
Gap Kids Trench Cape (size XL/12), JBrand Jeans (similar), J.Crew bag, Calvin Klein pumps (similar)

Just a quick post today showing last month's $13 "fun" purchase in action. I love the flowy lines of capes and the functionality of classic trenches - so this combination piece was perfect for testing out the silhouette. This jacket is currently sold out online, but may still be in stores. See this post for details on how to search/order.
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While in store, I also tried on the knit Textured Swing Jacket (just $15.50 w/ code GETSTARTED for 30-35% off) but didn't have time to snap photos. The texture is like a thick marled knit, and the black and white color scheme is chic and grown up. You can wear it easily over jeans/leather leggings or with red slacks or a black skirt & tights to work. This L(10) looked very shrunken on me, so if you are similarly-sized I'd suggest an XL(12). My only qualm was that a true swing jacket should have the option to only close the top part, versus a zipper going from the bottom up.

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While previously browsing online, I was also intrigued by this simple twill cape (just $25 after coupon) - the pocketed design has the makings of a classic cold-weather piece spiced up with a punch of poppy red, and may look even better with a button change.

ASOS Petite Reviews: Lace Dress and Belted Military Jacket

asos_armyjacket1ASOS Petite Exclusive Belted Wax Jacket - see review further below, ON legging jeans (both on sale)

ASOS is having a sale where code (Update 11/12 - this promo ended) MTVU2012 gets 25% off full-priced items, and some other items are temporarily marked down with no code needed. Shipping and return shipping is always free. I wanted to share two items that I tried on from their petite line, both of which are fairly decent:
asos_lacedress1ASOS Petite Exclusive Lace Dress with Cutout Back, 2 colors, trying on size US 1.

Design: Flattering cut with fitted torso and full skirt. Lace mesh over a cream lining is pretty in-person. I wanted the red version of this dress for an upcoming holiday party, but small sizes were sold out at the time. If you don't have any black lace party dresses in your closet, this one is elegant yet fun. However, you do have to go bra-less (and the design does a good job of concealing) or wear pasties due to the open back.

Fit: I've always had trouble with the waist running small on ASOS items. The upper torso of the US 1 fit nicely, but the waist was 1-2 inches too small for me - no chance I was zipping this baby up.
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The description also did not mention the triple layers of tulle under the skirt...

Holiday: Faux fur, wine gloves + Banana Republic lace dress

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Anna Karenina Collection Monogram lace dress (in petite) thanks to Banana Republic
H&M faux fur stole and leather gloves, Hermes belt, Chanel WOC, Louboutin Decolettes

Last week, Banana Republic launched a capsule collection inspired by the upcoming film Anna Karenina. Previews on TV showed ladies donning elegant dresses with demure necklines, adorned in lavish furs, lace, layered pearls, and jewels - what's not to love? I'm a sucker for the old-time glamour that underlies this collection, especially around this time of the year when holiday parties are near. My favorite piece is this cap-sleeve lace dress, and was thrilled to see that it comes in petites (I've always admired the quality of the Monogram line, but rarely see it in extended sizing). It went very quickly online, but check your local stores or try the # above (stores do ship).
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Inspired by BR's styling for this collection, I kept the color palette simple and let the textures shine in this outfit. I love the look of all black with an accent color - be it a bold, bright red, or a more muted deep wine like the shade of these gloves. I had tried on the stole and gloves previously at H&M, and went back for them now that temps have dropped precipitously. I guess patience paid off, because the faux fur pieces are now marked down to $7, and the genuine leather gloves (available in black, wine, or tan; the wine and tan leather feel softer than the black) are just $15 a pair. I am wearing size XS, which fits very slim but the fingers are long on me, per usual.
BR_annakarenina4 This dress is made with all-over lace fabric, and is lined in black from the bust down. The camisole-style dress lining underneath has thin straps, and there are small loops to keep the straps in place at each shoulder.

Red + White (w/ pant slimming & extending a necklace how-to)

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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...

J.Crew Double Cloth Slim Trench & Wool Cashmere Icon Trench

* From now-11/8, use OURTREAT for 25% off your J.Crew purchase & free ship on orders over $150.*

Just wanted to share a belated, quickie review of two J.Crew coats I tried on earlier this season. I have always had a soft spot for pretty coats because they bring a little joy to dreary winters, and am willing to spend more for a special piece. I used to splurge almost annually on a designer coat, but have been so pleased with lady day coats (especially for the sale prices) that I turned to J.Crew once again.

I was looking for a classic camel coat, and was hopeful that one of these would be a winner. However, I was underwhelmed by both and am now passively looking for new options.
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First up is the icon trench in wool-cashmere, on sale for $259 and comes in 3 colors. This pretty much met all of my requirements on paper, but in-person it made me feel like Friar Tuck.

Sizing & fit: Un-belted, this coat is extremely boxy with no waist shaping whatsoever. As a result, the amount of fabric at the mid-section causes unsightly bunching from all angles after the belt is tied. The chest and hips were slightly roomy on me, but could be filled up by layers in the winter. The shoulder width felt fine, but looks a smidge wide from the back. If you like every other aspect of this coat, the torso can probably be taken in by a good tailor for $40-$60.
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Material: The camel wool material was "felt-like" to the touch. As you can see in the close-up below, the felting texture almost resembled the look of cardboard.
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Design & quality: Aside from the shapeless waist and lackluster material, I liked the design and details of this coat. It bodes trench features that I like, such as a double-breasted front, shoulder epaulettes,  tortoiseshell buttons, and belt with leather-covered buckle. It felt moderately heavy (more so than the next one, at least), but just didn't "wow" me...
 
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