Winter Casual: Talbots cashmere (& review) + spotted pants

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Talbots cable turtleneck in Petite P (similar starts in XXS), H+M pants (last seen here) and gloves
Burberry coat, Chanel WOC, YSL wood heel pumps (similar), 10mm pearl earrings from eBay

Just a quick post today of a recent weekend outfit - I wore this to a triple date brunch in the South End on one of our windiest afternoons. No hair tie resulted in constant spatting hair out of my mouth and mostly photos like this: yellow_spots4
This winter I've been in dire need of warm sweaters, but have been patiently waiting for quality ones at a good price. I've been wearing my lone cable crewneck from 2011 to pieces, even though the material is quite itchy and requires a layer. After trying a few similarly itchy or pilling-prone options from H&M, I swore off fast fashion brands for a staple that I'd ideally want wear for years to come.

Bow Pump Reviews: Diavolina via ASOS, Manolo Blahnik Lisane

After building a solid collection of basic work pumps over the years, my interest lately has been on shoes with unique detailing or in fun colors. I’ve always had a soft spot for bows (from Ferragamos to makeshift clip-on ones), and longed for a pair of heels with feminine, statement bows. Here are two suede contenders that I tried on this month:
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Upper right/lower left: Manolo Blahnik Lisane sz 34.5, Upper left/lower right: Diavolina sz US 5 (label says 36)
bowheels 1. Diavolina Suede pumps in fuchsia, also in black (sold via ASOS)
After being disappointed by the sizing, comfort, and quality of various ASOS-brand shoes, I pretty much swore them off for footwear. However, ASOS carries various brands in addition to their own, and offers the same convenient free shipping & returns. I’ve never heard of Diavolina before, but saw that they offer genuine leather/suede shoes down to a sz US 4 or 5 in certain styles.
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Sizing & Fit: I am usually between US 5 to 5.5 (5 in Ann Taylor, 5.5 in BR/J.Crew) and ordered a US 5 / UK 3 in these. When the shoes arrived, the bottoms said 36 and I was bummed thinking they sent the wrong size. However, they were a perfect fit and felt comfortable for the few minutes that I tried them on.

Winter neutrals: Classic trench + silk stripes (& Stuart Weitzman Park Boots Review)

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Burberry trench sz US 2 (similar), thrifted Ann Taylor top (DIY re-sized), Ann Taylor skirt & necklace
Longchamp tote (similar with zipper), Hue tights, Louboutin Decolettes, H&M gloves

Last January, I remember treating myself to a study break during Savers thrift store's 50% off day. While speeding through the racks looking for quality fabrics, I came upon this $3 Ann Taylor blouse. Although the referee stripes are a little dizzying, I loved the clean lines of the hidden-button collar and the airy 100% silk material. It was just a tad boxy...but sure made for good sewing practice!
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As it was my first time re-sizing a blouse, my workmanship was decent at best. Even though I finished this project over a year ago, it hasn’t gotten much wear due to a peek-a-boo gapping problem at the chest. I probably cut it a little too narrow there, but just noticed that this was an issue even when the top was oversized (see upper left photo). A little double-sided fashion tape did the trick - for months I was too lazy to go find this tape, and only have some now thanks to Nick's mom.
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Review: Hunter Kids Rain Boots for Women (up to sz 38)

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Hunter Youth Rain Boots, big kids sz 4. From left to right: w/ tights, jeans, and tights w/ fleece socks
Jackets from left to right: H&M, Gap, and Burberry (all old)

In the realm of functional, waterproof boots, Hunter is one of the oldest brands that come to mind. The company has a long withstanding history of keeping feet dry and protected (including those of soldiers fighting in flooded trenches during both world wars), and claims the following benefits in its classic wellies:
- watertight design made of vulcanized natural rubber
- quick-drying woven nylon lining
- cushioned insole for arch support and an orthopedic fit

These claims must have some substance, as Hunter boots are loved by farmers to fashionistas alike. I recently picked up a pair of Hunter womens wedges, but cautioned against wearing heels/wedges (even rubber ones) on icy days. Although chunkier flat boots may look less stylish on petite women, it's a small sacrifice to make for safety.
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Hunter Youth Boot, in big kids sz 4, 6+ colors (free shipping & returns)

The womens Original Tall is Hunter's most renowned boot, but for women with shorter calves or very small feet, the Youth boot may be a better option. When I tried on the Original Tall, the shaft hit right at my lower knees and dug in with every step. In comparison, the Youth Original felt much more comfortable. Some differences between the Hunters Women Original Tall vs. Youth boots:

Winter casual: Army jacket, ankle boots & vintage Coach

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Gap jacket (similar here or here in petite, 60% off w/ USLONGWEEKEND), J.Brand legging jeans sz 24 (similar)
Coach leather court bag from eBay (2012 version), Adrienne Vittadini ankle boots (similar), H&M scarf

I wore this outfit a while back while visiting the Harpoon brewery (and downing delicious clam chowder afterwards). I love skinny jeans and ankle boots on the weekends, but often face the issue of not having casual enough outerwear to pair up top. My H&M red peacoat has been worn to near-shreds, so I’ve been eying more short jacket options.

While browsing Gap late last year, I came across a military jacket in sz L that looked like it ran small. The sales associate confirmed that it was a “shrunken fit” style. I really liked the sturdy canvas material, the generous collar, and the traditional design, thus promptly ordered an XS from another store with shipping costs and all. When it arrived, the fit was noticeably big (too long and wide throughout, waistline also too low) but I was sure the 100% cotton would shrink in the dryer. Turns out, it didn’t shrink one bit. I wasn’t eager to blog about this jacket or my overzealousness to throw it into the wash, but have ended up wearing it fairly often despite the fit.
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Some of you may remember my review of a slightly similar ASOS option (now over 50% off, and US shoppers can get an extra 15% off w/ code USLONGWEEKEND) which I returned. Although that one definitely fit better, I wanted a higher collar and more rugged canvas material like that of the Gap jacket. Neither are perfect, so I’d love to eventually find a better-fitting replacement (Gap kids, please come out with one again ; ).

Protecting Saggy Bags - Base Shapers for Prada & Louis Vuitton

base_shaperCustom-sized base shaper c/o Base Shaper Store (also avail pre-made for popular Louis Vuitton styles)

As mentioned in my Prada bag review, one of the design flaws with this line of bags is the less-structured base. Anything with a little bit of weight will cause the bottom middle to sag. This is not only unsightly, but also bad for the leather which may stretch out with use. I realized this after seeing a lady with an overflowing Prada Saffiano tote - the base looked so saggy and the bottom of the sides had so many stretchmarks that I felt sorry for the poor bag.

I was first exposed to the concept of base shapers when my pre-owned LV speedy came with one inside. The purpose of these is so that the weight of the contents can push down on the bag evenly, versus at a concentrated point. I initially went the DIY route and simply cut a piece off a cardboard box. This works just fine if the cardboard is thick enough, but apparently being shorter in stature means others can easily peer into your open-top bag. After having to explain a few times why I had coarse cardboard lining a pricey tote, I decided to spend the $20 or so for a clear shaper.
base_shaper1 After a little digging, I found out about the Base Shaper Store from a Prada Saffiano thread on The Purse Forum. I have to admit, my first impression of the website was that it looked spam-y and I wasn't sure whether it was safe to transact on. This bag was also not listed as a pre-made style, so I contacted them about a custom one. Imagine my surprise when I received a completely unrelated message from the owner, saying that his fiancee was an EP fan and saw in my review that I needed a shaper. He patiently answered all of my "due diligence" questions and was receptive to feedback. I am happy with the product quality and the very responsive customer service, thus wanted to share on here. A few other notes:

- Their shapers come in 4 options: clear acrylic, mirror, red, and brown.
- I can only speak to the clear one, which is fairly lightweight (5 oz) & thin (3 mm) but durable. All the edges on mine were smoothly polished.
- Shaper prices start at $15 and go up to $30 for the biggest size. Shipping for most pre-made shapers is $3.50 domestic, and $11-$15 internationally. Custom-sized shaper shipping starts at $6.
- They strive to ship on the same business day for pre-made shapers, and have a 12-day turnaround for custom orders.
- Prada totes come in so many size options, but if you own this exact same bag (style BN2274), the measurements I provided were 12 and 9/16th inches x 5 and 5/16th inches. My shaper came out exactly per the measurements, and fits the bag nicely.

Readers - What do you do to remedy bag sag? LV and Longchamp owners, do you use anything to help shape the bottoms or do you prefer the slouchy look?

Quick Review: ASOS $19.80 Drape Sleeve Little Black Dress

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Asos drape sleeve dress (2 colors) US sz 2, Valentino rockstud pump sz 35, Chanel wallet on chain
*Please note: dress is very black - I lightened this photo to show the torso and draping detail*

For a limited time, ASOS is having extra 10% off their large sale selection with code PERFECT10 (shipping & return shipping are always free). I tried on a dress recently that I unexpectedly fell in love with. It was for a post later this month, but I wanted to share now while it's still in stock and on extra discount.

I'm not usually drawn to plain little black dresses, but the silhouette of this one is easy and elegant - perfect with statement earrings for events where you want to look conservative yet chic. The stretchy poly material is comfortable and cool to the touch. The bottom portion of this dress is definitely more fitted than what I usually buy, but is partially balanced out by the looser top half. I'm wearing Spanx Simplicity Girlshorts (sz S) that I "invested" in last year to help smooth out lumpy butt. If anyone's interested, I can do a review on those later.
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This was my first time buying something outside of ASOS' petite section, and I expected items to run bigger and longer. Unstyled, this dress looks a bit like like a muu muu on me and hits at mid-calf length. Fixing this though was easy - I simply secured a black belt around my waist and pulled the extra length up, letting it hang over the belt as part of the billowy torso. The one alteration I had to make was take-in the torso down the side without the sleeve, using a basic straight stitch that can be done by hand or on a machine. I'm also contemplating shortening the sleeves (currently have them pinned up 2-3 inches in the 1st photo).

Readers - Would love to hear your input on the sleeve length, and whether this dress looks better with or without a visible waist belt!

Reviews: Banana Republic Petites New Arrivals & More

*My LXR & Co giveaway ends soon – I’ll be drawing the winner of a beautiful Hermes scarf! More info here.*
 
Earlier last weekend, I popped into a BR for the first time in a while. This yellow tipped blazer was the first thing to catch my eye. It’s reminiscent of my J.Crew lady jacket, but in a cut that most women would prefer over that one.

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The blazer is fairly slim with a double vent in the back. It fit well on me from what I could see, with the sleeves being just a tad long. The cut is easy to style for various occasions (picturing casual chic with a simple striped tee and jeans). I felt a small twinge of regret for having gotten the boxier J.Crew, but one aspect I do like better about that one is the quality wool. The BR version is a thick cotton material that felt like twill – more versatile for all seasons, but more wrinkle-prone.
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Although I'm not much of a dress shirt wearer, I do love the look of a good piped blouse. This poplin one reminded me of BR's piped Laura blouse (which is more luxurious in 100% silk and only retails for $10 more...but alas, no petite sizing). It fit very slim, with narrow wrist openings that I had to unbutton to get my hands through. The body of the sleeves are about an inch too long on my short arms. You can cuff them up as I usually do, but the cute piping there would then be hidden. The poplin material already had some wrinkles, which makes the silk version seem even more attractive.

Banana Republic Piped Poplin Shirt in 00P (similar in silk, but regular sizes only)
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The piece my friends & I liked the most was this honeycomb sweater skirt (not yet online in petite sizing), made of 95% cotton/5% cashmere...

Crimson Corduroy + Crested Oxford (& 2013 style goals)

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Crewcuts toothpick cords in sz 12 (legs tapered + hemmed), similar in petite (6 colors, now $22)
JACHS shirt sz XS (similar blue or pink versions), old J.Crew cardigan, Calvin Klein heels (similar)

I spent a fair amount of time at the mall this weekend, helping a self-proclaimed "style-challenged" friend build up her wardrobe. I couldn't help but try stuff on as well, and hope to share some more fitting room pics soon. One item I walked out with were these Crewcuts corduroy pants in "crimson maple," on final sale for $13.99.

After I posted these on FB and Instagram, shrewd readers noted a number of fit concerns like bunchiness, too-long length, pulling by the crotch, and low back pockets. My own standards for pants like these must be relatively low, because I actually think the fit is pretty good on me. I may also be jaded by the fit of other colored pants I've tried on to date, including some unspeakably bad Old Navy colored jeggings recently (did they change the quality/fit this year?), and these Gap burgundy corduroys which fit very similarly. My biggest concern was that I was buying them just because it was a good deal for a decent item.

Michael Kors watch (similar, also 38mm), Prada Saffiano tote ("caramel" back in stock)
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In the end, I bought them because the boyfriend said they looked good, but I certainly could've done without. This leads me to a few style goals for the year...

California Winter: Cheery reds + silk printed scarf

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Ann Taylor pants (similar in wool starting in 00P for $35, similar in straight cut for $30)
J.Crew Mona pumps + schoolboy blazer, thrifted silk scarf (similar), AT clutch thanks to Sydney

When decked out in solid basics, adding a printed scarf can instantly polish up the outfit. I wore this with gold pointy flats during the day for strolling around, and slipped into heels for dinner and drinks. I hastily under-packed for the holidays and ended up wearing this blazer almost every day. The color and cut have proven to be very versatile, but I still can't wait to find a better one that doesn't crinkle in the sleeves.
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This is my first pair of J.Crew pumps after trying on several styles, and I would say their shoes consistently run a little smaller than most brands. The 5.5s I got fit just like Ann Taylor perfect pumps in size 5. They are fairly comfortable, but the perfect pumps still reign supreme for me for long-term comfort. The Mona pumps are currently $70 on final sale w/ code STYLE2013, with some small sizes left in suede colors.

In my trusty Thinsulate lady day coat (select colors in petite & regular now on sale for $98 w/STYLE2013)
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