Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Asos Banded Dress Review (Herve Leger Look for Less)

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Off-Shoulder Midi Dress c/o ASOS (3 colors), Valentino heels, DIY clutch (tutorial coming soon)

I’ve received a few questions about this ASOS dress, and wanted to share some quick thoughts...

Length: This is labeled as a "midi" dress, despite being shown to hit above the model's knees. I used to alter my skirts / dresses to 2 inches above the knees without a second thought, but lately have been gravitating towards a longer hemline. I especially like them with either higher-waisted items (to visually lengthen the leg line), or with fitted pieces (to add some conservatism - ie. love this printed option).

For this dress, I experimented with all sorts of lengths before deciding on right at the knees (about 1" shorter than option #2 below). Below the knee was a little truncating even with my highest heels, and above the knee seemed too casual. I used this old formula as a guide, and chose the length that showed equal parts skirt and lower leg (lengthened 4 inches here by nude pumps).
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Material & Design: Although the banded look of this ASOS dress is presumably modeled after Herve Leger bandage dresses, I imagine that the material weight and quality does not compare (must also factor in that it's a fraction of the price)...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Winter work: Mina + Olya sculpted dress + wooden details

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Sculpted wool dress thanks to Mina + Olya (DIY altered), thrifted silk blouse, Burberry coat, YSL heels (similar)
Vintage Hermes belt thanks to LXR & Co (invite link, use EXPET20FAN for a $20 credit), Goyard Marquises tote

A few months back, I was reading Krystal's blog and saw several features on San Francisco-based designers Mina + Olya. Curious, I hopped on over to their site and ended up spending a large chunk of time reading about their story and perusing the collections.

Mina and Olya are two friends who left their financial consulting careers to start a fashion line, which is designed and made in the United States using organic and sustainable materials. Their focus on sustainability and supporting domestic affects nearly every part of the business, from fabrics down to the web designer and bank that they use. I recall reading somewhere that they were unsatisfied with the offerings available for the corporate woman, and wanted to create high-end options that were edgier yet still classic. I felt that the driving values behind M+O would resonate with many women who want something unique for work (and after work), while supporting a small businesses and other respectable causes.
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As someone who also works in financial services but enjoys fashion, I really admired M+O for taking a leap of faith to do what they're passionate about. I wrote them a note expressing that and wishing them the best on their journey. I also mentioned that their line appears to be for a taller figure, and to please consider making petite proportions as well in the future (especially for items like their green wool dress). The ladies responded warmly and asked about my mailing address for a little holiday something. I assumed it was for a Christmas card, so imagine my surprise when a green wool dress showed up in my mailbox.

Swiss dot tights from Elle (similar w/ free ship) 
green wool and wood
As appreciative as I was of M+O's generosity, this dress was definitely designed for someone taller than myself. I was ready to send back their kind gift, before deciding that I loved it enough to try and do the alterations myself. I figured I could at least share this brand I admire with taller readers and those based in SF, and also show shorter ladies examples of alterations needed to adjust regular-sized garments for a petite figure.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

ASOS little red dress at the Boston Public Library

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Off-Shoulder Midi Dress c/o ASOS (3 colors, wearing a US 4/UK6 with DIY alterations)
Valentino rockstud heels (4 colors, wearing sz 35), DIY clutch, H&M stole (similar), vintage ring

Today’s post is my entry in a fun little contest, for which I was asked to style an Oscars-themed outfit using an ASOS brand dress. I’m happy that a large international retailer like ASOS doesn’t forget about its shorter customers–I appreciate their petite-friendly options and am excited to be part of this feature.
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When I think of celebrities at the Oscars, I picture gorgeous, elaborate gowns, and dramatic silhouettes. As most of us won’t be sashaying down the red carpet anytime soon, I wanted to find a dress suitable for the life of an everyday woman, but still nothing short of stunning for a special occasion. I ended up choosing a fitted little red dress that enhances even negligible curves, and styled it with a mix of accessories ranging from DIY to Valentino. This look was inspired by old Hollywood glamour and is true to my classics-loving style.
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In addition to an outfit, I also wanted to share with you guys one of the most historical buildings in this city that I love. These photos were taken in the older half of the Boston Public Library, which was built in the 1800s. This room above has two levels of tall bookshelves, complete with little spiral staircases and ladders - it felt like I had strolled right into Belle's library!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Vintage Coach Bags - Review, Shopping & Care / Cleaning Tips

Today's review is on a bag that has been a much-loved addition to my small purse collection. Coach was the first designer brand I spent my teenage earnings on, but I only had eyes for their canvas logo print at the time. I have since sold all of those bags, but have discovered a new-found love for the brand through their beautiful leather pieces from the past. 

Coach Court Bag - Review
I first saw a pre-owned version of this Coach Court bag on a similar-sized friend (thanks, Ali!) and was quickly sold on the quality and versatility. For reference, I am 5 feet tall and this bag is a very proportional size for cross-body wear. Below are some of the measurements and features:
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circa 1998 navy blue Court bag purchased via eBay (around $45)

The overall look and features are very similar to the J.Crew Edie bag (currently an extra 40% off plus free shipping with code STYLE40, see my review), except it is less structured. I considered several vintage Coach options before buying my Edie, but was deterred by the raw leather lining, as well as the high going prices of the red versions. Both are great as everyday bags if you don't carry much, but the Edie's boxier structure makes it more dressy (as worn here to a wedding), and the Court bag's soft shape and cross-body strap make it more casual.
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Vintage Coach Bags - Other Popular Styles
After I added this bag to my collection, I couldn't resist learning more about the other styles and colors available. Some of the most common styles I saw while combing the second-hand market (several of which are still offered in Coach's current line, with slight changes) are:
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Image sources: my own, Google images, and here

These also were the most popular colors that I came across in my search - British tan (the caramel brown), navy, red, hunter green (love it), black, and dark chocolate brown (not pictured above)...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Winter Casual: Army jacket, booties + DIY leopard clutch

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Gap army jacket (similar) & sweater, thrifted skirt, Hue tights, Revlon "Vixen" nail polish, DIY clutch
Adrienne Vittadini ankle boots (similar - plus Nordies' shoe sale has begun! lots of small sizes)

70hr work weeks and snowy terrain has left me with no new photos, but here's an old outfit that I wore to a friend's engagement party. I wanted something comfy and casual, but still chic enough for the night out. Basic black served as the base, the tweed skirt added texture, and a pop of leopard print finished off the outfit.

I first saw a leopard foldover clutch on Wendy's blog and fell in love. It was sold out, so I decided to try my hand at DIY. I'm sure the quality of mine doesn't come close to a professional one, but it satisfies my craving for now : )
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PS - Going to try and answer all your pre-owned Coach bag questions in a post this weekend. Please stay tuned!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Snow Day: Zara Kids Tweed Swing Coat + Equestrian Scarf

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Zara girls blazer (item 6102/750, $26), Old Navy jeans in short (~30 colors), Crewcuts shirt (sz 10)
Coach court bag from eBay (2012 version), Adrienne Vittadini boots (similar), Gucci scarf, gloves from mom

These photos were taken last weekend when we got a gentle dusting of white powder - nothing compared to delightful blizzard Nemo. I wore this during the day then to a friend's superbowl party, replacing heels with rubber boots (see Hunter kids review) for the walk. This winter, I witnessed several women have pretty cringe-worthy falls, so please be careful and don't choose fashion over safety!
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While seeking more short, casual outerwear options, this tweed jacket caught my eye. I usually avoid the kids department because there's almost always something "off" or childish about the fit, yet I get tempted by the smaller sizing and lower prices. This jacket, for example, has an A-line silhouette (I picture it swinging on carefree little girls) and is not cut like a fitted, grown-up blazer. There's also tiny glimmers of childish silver sparkles woven in the material. Despite all this, I felt that this menswear-inspired jacket would be a welcome addition to my mostly girly wardrobe. Nick was very jealous.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Warm winter days: Caramel stripes + leather panels

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J.Crew Schoolboy blazer in petite (on sale), Forever21 skirt with leather panels added (similar)
Robert Rodriguez cashmere dolman sweater (similar), YSL heels (similar),  Chanel WOC

In the midst of a cold, snowy spell this week, I dug out these photos from milder days in southern California. I saw this skirt on Wendy a while back, and was surprised that the base was from Forever21. She has a penchant for adding leather accents to mass-market clothing (ie. this ASOS blazer), effectively transforming them into unique, customized pieces. I loved the resulting skirt on her, and couldn't believe she had a second one made to share!
stripedskirt1 For brunch with friends in LA, I wore this simply with a cozy cashmere sweater. This is one of my oldest eBay finds, and I love the casual fit and generous dolman sleeves. It took Nick about 5 years to accept his girlfriend dressing like a bat, but that milestone has been passed.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

How to: Stop the rotating skirt (& keep shirts tucked in)

Ah, the rotating skirt - who doesn't love looking down to find that their side zipper has shifted into a "chic" asymmetrical front detail? When asked about a solution last year, I had to think hard because it hasn't happened to me in a long time. After some analysis, I’ve come up with a few suggestions but would love to hear yours.
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1. Tailor your skirts to fit your waist and hips properly
For me, this usually means taking in the waist so that the skirt sits properly at my natural waistline (I define this as where my belly button is). Ever since convincing myself that alteration costs are a fact of life, the rotating skirt problem has nearly disappeared. It only happens now to two skirts of mine – the Ann Taylor one pictured above which I left un-altered to wear lower at my hips (would be too short for work otherwise), and the J.Crew No. 2 pencil skirt which is notoriously rectangular-shaped and needs to be taken in at the waist.

Examining these two skirts that are guilty of rotating, I noticed that they’re cut fairly straight up and down – and therefore, almost perfectly cylindrical when slung low on the hips, and prime for a rotating spree. The skirts that I’ve had tailored to fit properly are noticeably tapered in at the top on both sides, which helps “anchor” them to my waist and hips. Angie of You Look Fab also agrees.

2. Add gripper patches or rubberized elastic
Of course, #1 may not work for everyone as body types differ, and some may prefer low-rise skirts. So another possible solution is adding non-skid agents inside the waistband. I read on a few mens' forums that it's not uncommon to have tailors add a "grip strip" inside pants waistbands to help shirts stay tucked in. This sounds like a lovely modern-day substitute for womens' garter belts (who doesn't love wearing those to work??), and could also work double duty to prevent shifting skirts. Here's some options I found for a DIY fix:

- Waist Gripper Patches: about $7 including ship for 12, sew-in patches that "keep shirts and blouses from pulling out of slacks or trousers."
- Clear rubberized elastic: $4 including ship for 10 yards. This resembles the clear rubber strips found inside some of my strapless garments and swimwear. It helps them stay put, so why not the same for skirts?
- No-slip waistband elastic: $2 + $6.95 ship for 5 yards. "4 lines of rubberized stitching give this elastic its gripping power."

Since your skirts already have a waistband, I imagine it should only be necessary to stitch in a few small pieces of the elastic for added grip. However, please note that I have not tried any of these products myself. If any sewers can share the proper names for these and more convenient places to purchase, that would be much appreciated! Also, if anyone knows of any stick-on solutions out there (vs. sew-in), that'd be even better!

3. Use safety pins or fashion tape
Temporary fixes include securing the inside of your skirt waistband to undies or a tucked-in blouse, simply using either safety pins or double-sided fashion tape (I have Hollywood brand tape and it works well). However, pins come undone may result in punctured hips (ouch!) and using tape every time is less cost effective. I also want to reiterate not to use regular double-sided tape, as I've learned from experience that it may leave behind permanent, sticky residue and damage clothing.

Readers – Please share any of your own solutions for either keeping skirts from turning, or keeping shirts neatly tucked in!
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