Sunday, August 11, 2013

Reviews: Ann Taylor petites chevron skirt, bow clutch & more

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I received this outfit courtesy of Ann Taylor for this Thursday's Boston event (RSVP here), but wanted to do a detailed and honest review on each of the pieces. There is currently 40% off everything both online and in-stores - not sure when the promo ends. My personal favorite item this season is their chevron skirt, and actually ordered this back when it first came out. I wore it in my last post with a top tucked in, and also tried it un-tucked and belted as shown here. This look is a little mature for me (looks better on the model), but I'll give it another shot with a more casual hairstyle.
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1. Ann Taylor Regents Striped skirt
Fit: From my experience, most non-stretch, non-blousy pieces from AT/LOFT usually do not fit me right off the rack. Shopping such pieces now boils down to which ones are worth getting alterations on. This skirt was too big in the waist, but I could tell the flared silhouette would be extremely flattering, and the colors would be easy to pair with neutrals or even brights (like a kelly green). The cut is a happy medium between my usual conservative pencil shapes, and the poofier styles that may be too youthful.

On this skirt, I had the waist taken in from both sides for $15 (the tailor must've been in a good mood, as he usually charges $20-25 for zipper re-attachment). By having the waist sit higher, the length of the skirt was also raised from mid-knee to a flattering right-above-the-knee. The 00 Petite measured 13" across the waist pre-alterations, and 20" length.
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Quality: Fully lined, side zipper. As much as I love the design, I wish that the outer material (60% rayon, 27% poly, 13% nylon - dry clean only) was better quality with less rayon. Another issue is the consistency of the stripes lining up. The design of the front and back are not completely symmetrical (a little longer and more flared in the back), so I understand it may be difficult to have the stripes matched up down both sides. However, there should be no excuses about the front and back chevrons being off down the center. The skirt I received thankfully had chevrons that lined up down the front and back center, but I saw a few other skirts in-store (even the one in the stock photo!) where they unfortunately do not match.
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2. Ann Taylor Tailored Peplum Top (only left in regular & tall sizes online, but found mine in-stores)
This navy top is very nondescript, but I noticed it early amongst the new arrivals because of the tailored structure and clean lines. I like that the skirt flares out minimally, not like an overdone frilly peplum. I thought this would look elegant over slim trousers, or even over a pencil skirt in the same navy material.
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Fit: It was a little loose on me throughout, but could've passed as-is just for wearing over pants and skirts. When belted snugly, however, you can see above how the extra material bunches up. Also, I wanted to be able to wear it tucked into skirts, thus got alterations to slim down the sides from the armholes through the waist. There is a side zipper and the top is fully lined, so this job cost $20. Unfortunately, I forgot to take measurements before dropping this off at the tailor.
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Quality: I was surprised by the quality of this top in-person. This poplin-like material (64% cotton, 31% nylon, 5% spandex) is of good weight, has the right amount of stretch, and did not wrinkle after a day of wear.

For footwear, I had a tough time debating between the patent leopard pumps (they look more "tortoise" to me) and these neutral cap-toes. Although I liked the tortoise shoes, I did not recognize them as the "PP" style until I saw the description online. I've been buying PPs for 3 years....my first pairs had full leather uppers, leather lining, and leather soles, and my later pairs had synthetic soles and lining (not 100% sure about lining as it's not disclosed anywhere, but that is my guess). I didn't mind the rubber soles as long as the feminine almond toe and overall comfort were still there. 

This season, AT's shoes were designed with the aid of Vince Camuto. There are new styles that I like, but the PP design is now very different from what it used to be. The biggest change -and saddest, for me- is that the toe is now wider and more round than almond. The retail price remains lower at $128 (used to be $155+), the soles and lining are still synthetic, and there is more cushioning inside. My friend who has never tried the original PPs thought they were great, but I miss the old design.
Ann Taylor august 2013 review
3. Lara leather cap toe pumps (2 colors)
I went with the cap toe pumps because the silhouette was more sleek, and the leather upper felt soft and of good quality. The pointy toes are not too narrow, thus did not pinch my toes like many other pointy shoes do. The 3.5" heel and newer thicker cushioning is comfortable, and I've walked quite a bit around the city in these already. I am trying to show the true rose-gold color of the cap toes versus what's in the stock photo online. I took my usual AT size 5 (for reference, usually take 5.5 at BR/ J.Crew).
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4. Bowtie Clutch (4 colors)
This is an adorable little bag for errands or a night out - already picked one up for a friend. The material is synthetic leather which can be a plus or minus depending on what you prefer. I prefer genuine leather, but the quality of this synthetic is soft and not bad.
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I love the bow + tassel details (favorite color is the preppy green with navy) and how much the clutch holds, but would've preferred one large pouch instead of two conjoined little ones. When the two pouches fill up, they can get bulky width-wise.
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5. Pearlized statement necklace
Last but not least, my favorite accessory from AT this season. This piece instantly dresses up a basic or solid outfit. I've always had a penchant for pearls and chains, and this takes the guesswork out of mixing and matching jewelry in the morning. The faux pearls don't look too faux in-person, and the metallic gray beads add versatility to the color scheme. My biggest fear with costume jewelry is that the cheaper metals will quickly tarnish or turn green. Unfortunately, I can't tell whether or not this necklace is destined down that path - if it does happen, I will be sure to post an update. My older AT costume pieces have held up very well, but I know quality is ever-changing.

Drop length is about 15" at the longest strand. Weight of this piece on my scale is 6.5 oz (for reference for anyone who has the AT cabochon necklace, that registered at 4.5 oz).

56 comments:

  1. Great picks. The skirt and necklace are striking and seemingly easy to wear. I'm so disappointed about AT using synthetic linings in their shoes. To me, this means sweaty, stinky feet. :(

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  2. the skirt caught my eye and will be on my to-try-on list. i like that it's a muted neutral chevron in something other than black and white and the slight peplum top you wore over it.

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  3. i love your picks and only wish that the chevron skirt was in stock still online. i'm sad to hear that the PP quality and design has changed -- I actually just ordered my first pair last week!

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  4. I live in Boston as well. And all your tailored pieces always come out looking amazing. I was wondering where you go for tailoring. Thanks!

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    1. Hi there - My tailor is in Chinatown on Knapp St (looks like a sketchy alley), in the same building as a hair salon. You can see his little table and sewing machine through the big window from the street. He doesn't speak a word of English, but basic alterations can be communicated through gestures!

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  5. You look great in all of this stuff, Jean, and I appreciate your complete honesty in showing us where and what exactly you had to take in and how major/minor of a job it was. I am honestly frustrated, though, that even though Ann Taylor / LOFT has approached you to be the "face of Petites" and front a campaign for them, they STILL can't be persuaded to actually make clothing in your/our size. You'd think they'd WANT to make clothing that actually FITS the person they want endorsing it! Gah!

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    1. Hi Michelle - something to consider is how small the demand actually is (in the U.S. market, for professional style clothing) for a size below 00p, and for this reason I can't fault retailers for not producing it. An example is when AT first introduced 00p in their brick and mortar stores, and there was not enough demand to even keep that size stocked. They pulled it, but thankfully something must've happened (I know I wrote my share of emails as a customer) to bring it back. The brands I work with have always been open to hearing my honest feedback, but I don't expect special treatment because what companies ultimately produce is dictated by the majority feedback of their customer base. Unfortunately for ladies on the smaller side, American fashion seems to be headed in the opposite direction with more complaints about items fitting too small than too big. Uniqueen was the only retailer I worked with that was willing to offer a new size, as they catered more towards the Asian demographic, but most of their returns were due to items fitting too small. I was so sad to see that their business has since shut down. All in all, I've learned through the years of shopping for professional clothes to just pay for alterations on things that are worth it, and not purchase the items that are not.

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    2. I understand stores' priority is to make money. So I'm not miffed that they don't cater to the 0.1% of the shopping population. But if that's to be the case, they should do away with the 00 sizing altogether and call their smallest a 2. It's a bit of false advertising when you say you have SUPER TINY clothes (whoch is what 00 means) when you don't, not really.
      With that said, I do have a bit of luck with some of these 00's sometimes if the style can be worn loose, or is in material that will shrink in the dryer. I wish I was half as proficient as you are in getting them custom- tailored.

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    3. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. All the ATs, Lofts, and BR's carry 00 and 0 petite sizes. Perhaps the lack of stock in your area reflects a lack of demand. We do have a high Asian population, so maybe that has something to do with it. Once the sales hit, those sizes can sometimes be hard to find.

      The same cannot be said for shoes. Stock is low and by the time something I want goes on sale, it is usually sold out in my size (6.5B). Before I was into online shopping, if I really had to have the shoe I would drive over to Marin County. I'd find my size with no problem each time. I really do think it has to do with the makeup of the population.

      Lastly, I used to purchase a lot of vintage clothing (50's, 60's). Size 8 usually fit, but was sometimes too small for me. Now, 0 petite sometimes engulfs me. The clothing makers do not make clothing as small as they used to.

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    4. Alexis, I live in NYC, and we are a city full of tiny women. The 00Ps are too large for me and many of my friends. It's not that they're not in stock - if they made the clothes in my size, and I didn't pull the trigger, then more fool me. (I'm still mourning an Ann Taylor hunter green lace wool skirt I missed out on.)
      No, what I'm objecting to is the embiggening, over time, of their clothing. 10 years ago I could wear a 0P. 5 years ago I switched to wearing a 00P. And now, most of the 00Ps are too big. I weigh 5 pounds more than I did 10 years ago, so it's not me that got small, it's the clothes that got too big. *hattip Norma Desmond*

      Specifically in this case, though, Jean, what I'm saddened by is the implicit hypocrisy in asking someone who cannot actually fit into their clothes to be their "spokesmodel" -- and a FIT spokesmodel to boot! (After all, the Loft feature wasn't about "Check out her awesome eclectic style", it was "Look at how well our Petite sizes fit her!"). I would feel the same way if Lane Bryant used, for instance, size 6 models. The whole point of a spokesmodel is "This person represents our demographic, this person is the ur-Person who we envision wearing our clothes". It would make sense for that person to be able to actually wear the clothes that fit as depicted in the picture.

      They're allowed to not make clothes in our size because there aren't enough of us around to buy them. That's a business decision. I get that. But it's then misleading to use one of "us" to model said clothes and extol how well it fits us. I feel like they can't have it both ways. (To be clear, I don't blame you in any way Jean, you've always been upfront about the alterations required.)

      At this point, if I have to pay for extensive alterations anyway, I buy higher-quality vintage and get it taken in. Thank god for my wonderful tailor.

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    5. I see your point Michelle, but I actually have the opposite feelings about Jean's partnership with Ann Taylor.

      Jean has been a HUGE supporter of Ann Taylor from the very beginning, purchasing, wearing and promoting the brand because she enjoys their product and actually wears it in her everyday life. Sadly, many fashion brands enter partnerships with bloggers based on perceived popularity, and not because that blogger has a history of loving or supporting the brand. I can't even count the number of times I've seen a brand tap a blogger as a brand ambassador, when that blogger has never, ever, been a supporter of that brand in the past. It's frustrating, as a blogger myself, to see a girl get to work with a brand I (or my blogger friends) love, and know she's only wearing the brand's clothes because she's getting paid to.

      I'm ecstatic to see Ann Taylor work with a blogger who genuinely enjoys and supports the brand. It's a natural fit and well deserved partnership for Jean, as well as Ann Taylor.

      Congrats again Jean! I couldn't be happier for you!!! =D

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    6. I do agree that it is well deserved for Jean, and a very nice reward for years of unsung shopping at AT :)

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  6. I've written about it before - but it's worth saying again - you are such a role model when it comes to collaborating with companies Jean. Your honesty, integrity & the value you place on your readers shines through. I really enjoyed this thorough review :-)


    MY BLOG: ♥♥♥ Ella Pretty ♥♥♥

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  7. Thank you Jean! I have been n avid reader of your blog for years now and always admire the AT pieces you choose. Unfortunately AT has not been available in the UK where I live - until now! Imagine my happiness and surprise to discover that they finally ship items to the UK. Now the only difficulty will be finding the sizing that fits. Would you be able to let us know how AT sizing compares to H&M and banana republic?

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    1. In my personal experience, H&M size 4 is similar to an AT 00P. I usually can fit H&M sz 2 off the rack, but tailor an AT 00P down approximately one size. BR sizing runs very similar to AT, but in general I feel BR is a little bit smaller (maybe half a size). Any other input from ladies who have tried these brands would be appreciated, since my opinion may be skewed!

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    2. Thank you - much appreciated! I have learnt from experience not to trust the size charts on the website. I am a UK 6 or 8 (34 or 36) so should be ordering a 4 according to the AT website but actually wear an H&M 4 so will probably be ordering a 0p or 00p.

      By the way you look lovely and I really appreciate your intelligent and considerate approach to clothing and life, you are truly inspiring!

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  8. I love this post and the photos are excellent.
    I am not an extra petite but usually clothes either fit me around my hips _or_ my waist and I tend to get the larger size and have my seamstress do her magic.
    She always does a fabulous job but I admit I am spending quite a lot of extra money there...

    Annette | Lady of Style

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  9. This is a gorgeous outfit! All of these items are great pieces for fall.

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  10. That outfit looks amazing on you. Great transition pieces!

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  11. great reviews! was wondering about that necklace - thanks!

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  12. You look so darling! thank you for the reviews!

    xoxo

    Kelly
    kellyinthecity.com

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  13. SO excited to see you featured on my Loft email today! Love your blog! Do you think you could do a feature on your beauty/grooming routine? You always look so put-together yet not overly done. I know you are a minimalist when it comes to beauty, but I'd love to hear your "secrets!"

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    1. Nina - thank you so much!! I've done a beauty routine post a while back here ( http://www.extrapetite.com/2011/03/everyday-makeup-for-beginners-updated.html ) and still use pretty much the same steps, and the same concealer, foundation, and liquid eyeliner as back then. They are a bit pricier than drugstore brands but work wonderfully. I will try to do an updated post on my new staple bronzer and eyeshadow stick soon.

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  14. I'd love to see how you would wear that necklace - I really like it, but would be afraid to over do it on an outfit. Please show an example! :)

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    1. Sure thing - I'm sure it will make many more appearances on here : )

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  15. Great post, thanks! Agree that AT runs very large. I just got a 00P pencil skirt and it fit perfectly, other places I am a 0 (regular, not petite) or sometimes a 2. I also just got the same necklace... I love it, kind of reminiscent of Chanel. I took off the lowermost strand with pliers, and I like it even more now. Oh, and my small size hangers just arrived from the site you recommended, I am so pleased!!!!

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    1. So glad you like the necklace and hangers! The bottom strand of the necklace is actually my favorite part : )

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  16. love the look,pretty skirt :)
    http://sbr-fashion-fashion.blogspot.com/2013/08/summer-fav-with-sheinside.html

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  17. Hi Jean,
    Where is that gorgeous belt from? Love it!
    Hannah

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    1. Hi Hannah! I forgot to link it but I got it thanks to AT as well: http://www.anntaylor.com/tortoiseshell-patent-leather-perfect-skinny-belt/316885?colorExplode=false&skuId=14297892&catid=cata000023&productPageType=fullPriceProducts&defaultColor=7281

      It's genuine leather and seems to be good quality, and I love the tortoise. I did have to punch a few extra holes though with a leather hold puncher.

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  18. Hi Jean,

    Quick question for ya, where is your iPhone cover from?

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    1. Hi there - I got it as a gift from a friend, but she ordered it on Etsy. I just went on there and typed in "monogram phone case" and lots of adorable options popped up!

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  19. I swear I just saw you on my loft email today! Love your looks!

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  20. Great, thorough review, Jean! I absolutely love the necklace and I think the skirt is so versatile to dress it up or down with. Have a great time at the event later this week!

    Suzie Q
    www.StyleCueBySuzieQ.com

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  21. love the skirt, and belt and clutch soo much!!

    xo,
    Sandy
    Sandy a la Mode

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  22. I admire your body figure. You have a thin waist. ^_~
    http://www.gossipordie.com/

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  23. Hi, this outfit is perfect for you. Especially I like this chevron skirt.

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  24. Thank you for the reviews. I've been eyeing the skirt since I saw it in their lookbook, but have not actually seen it in person. I love those pumps as well!

    An
    http://thestylerx.com

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  25. Love your informative and helpful clothing reviews! Just wondering though, is it difficult/awkward to carry both of the clutches together?

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    1. Hi Jessica - whoops, sorry if this wasn't clear, but the "two" clutch compartments are part of one bag and it's not awkward unless they are stuffed : )

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  26. I really love your phone case, have been eyeing it in several of your past posts. Can you share where you got it from? Also, I'm a huge fan and admirer of your work!

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    1. Thank you so much! I got it as a gift from a friend, but she ordered it from Etsy. If you go to Etsy.com and search "monogram phone case" there are lots of options to choose from : )

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  27. that bow clutch is simply adorable!! xo

    http://allthingsprettyandlittle.blogspot.com

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  28. Such a cute look! Loving your skirt and how you added the leopard belt!

    xx
    Giovanna
    www.HeyLoveBlog.com

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  29. This is a bit random, but I have followed your blog for awhile so I trust your opinion! I'm heading to Boston/Providence in mid-September. Any recommendations on where to stay and what to do? We love to eat out, drink wine, learn about history and of course, I like to shop! Any help would be appreciated!

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  30. You look so stunning! Nice combo:)

    HEY HEY! Come check out my blog: www.gemmamonclus.blogspot.com

    Love, Gemma

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  31. Hi Jean! Thanks for the review - really appreciate your candid write-ups. Quick question if you don't mind, where is your wallet from? I love the blue/brown colors, and it looks like a great size too. Thanks!

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  32. As always thank you for your helpful post! I appreciate that AT picked a tiny petite to review their clothing. I heavily rely on bloggers like Jean, and Kelley of Alterations needed for their reviews on petite mainstream clothing that I can easily go purchase and try on at my local mall. I am non-Asian and a bit older, in my mid-thirties, but similar sizing and have always had difficulty in finding clothes that fit properly and don't need altered in one way or another. Maybe retailers should make 00's smaller- it would sure make my life easier! I find that some work for me and some don't. But in the meantime, I am grateful for helpful, honest bloggers who post sizing, alteration needs, and styling ideas to help me look put together. So thankful for YOU Jean. The only other thing you could do, is come to my closet and help me alter all my needy clothes...lol. :)

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  33. Ho Jean! I really enjoy your blog. You always look so well put together, and I love your focus on fit.

    With that in mind, I was curious why you decided to slim the skirt vs just altering the hem length, leaving the skirt a bit lower on the waist? Not a criticism, just curiosity. It's time I started having my nicer clothing tailored. (In fact, any tips on how to find a tailor would be helpful too)

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  34. just purchased this skirt and interested in ideas for other tops to go with it. Appreciate the reviews!

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  35. Hi Jean, I'm so glad you brought up the change in design of the AT Perfect Pumps. I bought my (one and only) pair based on advice from your blog, and I always planned on buying more but wasn't really in a position to do so. Now that I am, the design has changed quite drastically. Like you, I'm disappointed with the new look (I think it looks more matronly/conservative now), and I no longer consider it the perfect shoe. I know you reviewed the PPs alongside the CL Simples at one point, but do you have any other shoes/brands in mind that would be good alternatives for the AT PP?

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  36. Hello Jean, What an amazing pics. You look great.
    Would it be possible to post a hair tutorial. You're hair looks amazing with this up-do

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  37. You should try modelling as a career. You look great in Ann Taylor dress......the outfit is just so beautiful, especially the top (the dark blue shade)...thanks :-)!

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  38. Hi Jean,
    Thanks for another great post! You mentioned that the AT Perfect Pumps were different this season, and I was just wondering if this is a permanent change or if they're bringing the old style back. I also see that the Perfect Kitten Pumps are no longer offered and was wondering if you knew whether they were coming back?

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