Petite Fashion Challenge #5: Non-Gloomy Winter Work Wear

For new readers, visit this thread for more information on past challenges or to find out about future ones.

This month’s challenge is hosted by Cynthia, a Toronto petite and writer of Shorty Stories. Visit her blog to see her entry and links to everyone’s participating outfits. The challenge:

“It’s winter in the northern hemisphere…the challenge this month is to brighten your work wardrobe. Create a sophisticated work-appropriate look that has no more than one dark piece (excluding shoes, accessories and hosiery).”

I immediately had an outfit in mind. My coworker styled a “winter brights” outfit for me not too long ago, involving a vintage purple skirt and ruffly floral top. Alas, on picture day I misplaced my beloved floral top (as seen in this post). Unable to find other prints or brights in my tiny closet, I had to make do with this plain ole cream blouse. Now this outfit hardly qualifies for the challenge : /



Blouse: H&M; sz 2, fits like 00
Pencil Skirt: Ann Taylor sz 2 (vintage)
Heels: Ann Taylor Perfect Pumps sz 5  Cameo Bracelet: Topshop
Everything in this outfit is old, but loved. The blouse I got last year after seeing Ping style it so nicely, and the skirt is a Savers thrift store find. I came across an Ann Taylor size 2 pencil skirt and was amazed by how small it looked. I slipped it on and the waist was a perfect, snug fit! It just needed slimming along the hips, and shortening, as it wasn’t petites. Crazy to think that current-day Ann Taylor skirts in sz 00P may still require costly waist and hip alterations (an inflation of THREE sizes!).


I wonder how old this is? Can you judge by the tag?

But would it be worth the cost of alterations? My eyes raced to the material tag. 100% wool and fully lined – test passed! The skirt itself was just $5, so even with the cost of dry cleaning ($5) and alterations ($20), it came out to be much cheaper than any other pencil skirt I own. When thrifting, I encourage you guys to look for unique colors, prints, or textures in skirts that are made with quality materials. If only simple alterations are needed, you can end up with a “different” piece at a great price.

My beloved Hemmingway tailors:


Side/back view to show how small the vintage sz 2 waist fit (I am ~5 ft, 90 lbs):


Oh, just to reiterate how tiny the closet is in my Boston apartment…this is IT. It’s 2.5 feet wide, shallow, plus I share it with a boy with large clothes (lots and lots of flannel). I’ve no choice but to hold another blog sale soon to make way for recent purchases. Maybe next Thursday night (Feb 3rd)?


Be sure to visit Shorty Stories to see all the other outfits. This has been a:
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  1. Karen wrote:

    Gorgeous color! It's quite possible that the skirt was tailored. However, I wouldn't doubt that there's vanity sizing at play!

    Posted 1.28.11 Reply
  2. CynthiaC wrote:

    @A.Li H&M; sizing is more European, so it's going to fit smaller (they're running on old school American sizing from the 90s. A size 2 there *IS* a 00). Also, I think they have a lot of higher-waisted pieces, so someone like me who is basically rib cage and hips need to go up a size!

    Posted 1.27.11 Reply
  3. KURUMI wrote:

    Very classy dress.

    Posted 1.27.11 Reply
  4. @PetiteXXS How could I forget about laundry? In each of our loads I'm relegated to a tiny laundry sac…thankfully 5 of our tops add up to one of theirs : )

    @I am Khatu Ah second time around…they have so many branches! I've never had luck in there. ALthough if you can't stand the smell of Second time around ("higher end consignment" store) then I definitely don't recommend going into thrift stores lol!

    @A.Li I think their size 2 pieces can fit differently based on whether the style is loose or fitted. I have been consistently able to wear their 2's though since college till now so I hope they don't change sizing going forwards!

    @Erin Imagine being a 6 or 8 and going into a store and always finding stuff that fits perfectly!

    @Anonymous Hi there! Their sizes aren't gigantic on me (in 00P/xxsP) but I do wish they would run a little smaller. Tailoring costs on pencil skirts and jackets and pants can run high! I think BR runs the smallest (in dresses and skirts, anyways) out of the brands BR, AT, and LOFT.

    @Erica Omg! That is nuts.

    @Midori I haven't thought of that before. I tossed all my old college or pre-college clothes so I wouldn't know to compare, hmm! I was poor then too so most of it was H&M; or F21 : )

    @littlenashua Yes! I love love savers. Thank you SO much again for sharing your Savers love.

    @Cat It's sad but my college closet was the same size, except we had bigger dressers : ( Oh well it forces one to streamline down the wardrobe!

    Posted 1.27.11 Reply
  5. Thank you everyone for stopping by!

    @Elle LOL it took me so long to "get" your comment! Please don't get excited… I actually don't love any of the thrift stores in Boston/Brighton, because they arent sorted by size. I go to Savers, thanks to a tip by Kerry of the blog Little Nashua, because their shoes and clothes are all sorted by size and they have a decent jewelry/accessories selection. In Brighton though there is Urban Renewals, which has really cheap prices if you're willing to be in a grimy environment and dig! I got a silk scarf there and some belts.

    @Megan Hose is so tricky! I can't believe I used to wear nude hose (it was NEVER a perfect match for my skin tone). I think sheer black is doable and I prefer it to opaque black, but it doesn't do anything for warmth.

    @Justine I'd be interested in knowing when it's from! Keep me posted if you do look : )

    @Ledda Ledda – If you look at my comment above to Elle, my favorite thrift stores are Savers, but they are a small drive out of Boston (though I think there is one in Cambridge). They are the best that I've been to!

    @Cee @AubreyOhDang! @Vicky LOL! I didn't even notice in the photo. I am standing on a block of wood about 1 foot high, plus I am "behind" the tailors. They are very normal sized…probably 5'5" : D

    Posted 1.27.11 Reply
  6. Cat wrote:

    You have great thrift shopping skills! That's an incredibly good fit.

    Wow, that closet is tiny! I think my college dorm closet was that big, and I already found it annoying that I had to shuffle around my spring/summer and fall/winter clothes between the closet and suitcase all the time (Texas has very bipolar weather sometimes). I hope you find your blouse!

    Posted 1.26.11 Reply
  7. Callandra wrote:

    I still love that braclet!…and this just goes to show how insane vanity sizing is for sure! Your closet looks about the same size as mine (that make me feel so much better 😉

    Posted 1.26.11 Reply
  8. Hmm..that must be one of your thrift store finds you mentioned to me. Very cute. I love the color, as it is very different. Sometimes I prefer things from thrift stores that are several seasons old because just the changes in color are enough to set you apart from everyone else.

    Posted 1.26.11 Reply
  9. Jen HaHA wrote:

    Thanks for checking out my challenge outfit. It was my first Petite Fashion Challenge. Thanks also for your kind words about my blog title. I truly hemmed and hawed about it.

    Great blouse! I love blouses with ruffles and tiers and what not. And, what a great thrift find!

    I love Boston! (So much love going on in this comment!)

    Posted 1.26.11 Reply
  10. Midori wrote:

    vanity sizing makes me wish i'd bought more clothes 10 years ago…i rediscovered an xs gap jacket in my closet from 2001-2002 that fits better than some of the xsp stuff i see in stores today.

    of course, i had no $ back then haha.

    Posted 1.26.11 Reply
  11. Vicky wrote:

    Oh, Jean. I love the blue on you! Classy lady!
    It's so funny to see a picture of you towering over two other adults. Almost unreal! lol.
    That closet is tiny and I can't imagine how you can fit everything you have in there and share with Nick. Blog sale is great. If only I have room in my closet for more goodies!!!

    Posted 1.26.11 Reply
  12. Erica wrote:

    Vanity sizing sure is crazy. I'm a size 00P like you, but my mom's size 6 clothes from the 70s are too tight on me!

    Posted 1.26.11 Reply
  13. Emmy wrote:

    I love this outfit! The blouse is just gorgeous and it is a great pairing with the skirt.

    Posted 1.26.11 Reply
  14. Nkauj wrote:

    Gorgeous blouse and I love the color of your skirt. definitely uplifting in gloomy weather

    Posted 1.26.11 Reply
  15. Anonymous wrote:

    So happy to have found your blog — and happy that I'm not the only one who finds Ann Taylor petite sizes GIANT. I swim in them.

    Posted 1.26.11 Reply
  16. I wonder how petite your tailors are if you're a couple of inches taller than them. Mb that's a good thing. they understand and can relate to the alterations you ask for.

    Posted 1.26.11 Reply
  17. Kiki wrote:

    What a great outfit! I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for a skirt in that shade– I love jewel tones! xoxo Kiki

    Posted 1.26.11 Reply
  18. Nelah wrote:

    Your selection on colors are easy on the eyes, simple yet beautiful. I especially like that white blouse, looks great with your blue skirt. Great find! You slowly inspire me to try thrift shopping!

    Posted 1.26.11 Reply
  19. Erin wrote:

    Oh I love it! I think you definitely qualify for the challenge – the skirt is dark but bright 🙂

    And hmmm… If you're a size 2 in old Ann Taylor, I'd be a 6 or 8 – what a crazy thought!

    Posted 1.26.11 Reply
  20. maybe u wear "old" items but they look fantastic!!!such a polished look!!!!!:))

    Posted 1.26.11 Reply
  21. Liana wrote:

    i don't know what you're talking about, i absolutely love this outfit! i haven't seen you in anything so bright before and it looks great on you, especially with the white shirt to make it stand out more! 🙂

    Fashion Bag 411
    Beauty Bag 411

    Posted 1.26.11 Reply
  22. Michelle wrote:

    Wow!! What a pretty skirt!

    And I thought i recognized that skirt from Ping's blog!!

    Although your closet may be small, you do have awesome floors!! I love them!! 🙂

    Posted 1.26.11 Reply
  23. A.Li wrote:

    I LOVE the skirt. Like the color combination and how you paired it! I think H&M; sizes are getting smaller- size 2 fit like size 00. I noticed that I can't fit in XS small anymore at H&M.; Maybe I gained weight, lol.

    Posted 1.26.11 Reply
  24. I am Khatu wrote:

    the skirt is the great find. I tried thrifting a few times but i just can't get over the smell and with my bad experiences at Second Time Around (the devil!), I just can't bring myself to do it again. Too bad about the blouse! when you find it, do a follow up post, I would love to see the complete look.

    Posted 1.26.11 Reply
  25. Ping wrote:

    jean– that blouse looks gorgeous on you and i love the skirt. its such a pretty deep purple and definitely fits you well. kudos to your tailors! haha so cute you took pics with them.

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  26. PetiteXXS wrote:

    What a great find! And so glad to finally put a face to your infamous tailors! I can't believe you make do with that lil closet… I so know what you mean about men's clothes being so big & bulky (esp compared to our petite clothing!). Hubby has 1/4 the amount of clothes I do but still take up the same amount of closet space. And he fills up the laundry basket faster too!

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  27. Cee wrote:

    Don't be hard on yourself, Jean. Winter white is never boring! And it's especially gorgeous paired with this royal skirt. I still can't get over how this is a size 2 on you o.O

    I think the picture of you with your Hemmingway tailors is so cute. Are they really tiny or are you standing on one of those stool things? 🙂

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  28. DoubleZero wrote:

    Your poses are always natural & cute! I don't think I could pull off a ruffly white blouse like you. Looking forward to the blog sale 🙂

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  29. Gracie wrote:

    I love the sleeves to that blouse. I am currently pinning over loose sleeves of that nature; such a classic feminine look.

    The skirt has such a lovely tone to it. Great thrifting!

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  30. betty; wrote:

    thanks soo much ^^ i love your outfit too especially the shirt, so ruffly <3 and i don't own many coloured pencil skirts and the purple one is very cute

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  31. Ledda wrote:

    You look very pretty and classy as usual. Great find. I love when I find some expensive pieces for $5. Do you have a favorite thrifty store in Boston? I'd like to check some out. Thanks

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  32. Great outfit as always, Jean! The color looks lovely on you. I can't believe vintage size 2 was a perfect fit for you. Now we can't even fit into a 00P. It's pretty crazy! I am also looking forward to your blog sale.

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  33. Kandice wrote:

    Love the color of the skirt!

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  34. R.L. wrote:

    The indigo/blue shade of the color is so beautiful. What a unique find! And I can't believe how tiny your closet is… but I guess that's where being petite helps. Looking forward to that blog sale 🙂

    And so nice to see the tailors who've done such a nice job on so many of your pieces!

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  35. I have that blouse! I blogged about it Nov but had no idea Ping had it too! It looks great on you!

    That skirt is def worth tailoring- super pretty:)

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  36. Em wrote:

    I love the cobalt! It's probably my favorite color. I wish I wore it more!

    I hear you on the vanity sizing – it's ridiculous! I'd peg that Ann Taylor as maybe late 80s/early-mid 90s.

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  37. Petite Mom wrote:

    What a pretty skirt! I like how you kept the outfit simple and let the color of the skirt pop. I'd love to see the original top paired with the skirt once it comes out from hiding. I can relate to having little closet space living in NYC. I need to purge also.

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  38. So lovely! I rarely see you wear white blouses alone, but this outfit is so chic and put together. I don't think I can pull off a plain ruffly white blouse as well as you.

    xx The Little Dust Princess

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  39. Design girl wrote:

    What a great skirt. And I think you should host a blog sale next week! I'd like to add some clothes to my closet. 🙂

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  40. April wrote:

    I love the outfit! 🙂 OMG that vintage Ann Taylor skirt is gorgeous! 🙂 I am so loving that blouse, gonna see if it's still at H&M;/ 🙂

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  41. Justine wrote:

    Oh that IS old. I am guessing it's from the early 90's. I will hop into my mom's closet the next time I am over there. She is in love with Ann Taylor and Talbots.

    I'd love to see your closet and possibly shop your closet too!

    Just Better Together
    come check out my giveaway!

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  42. Oh, vanity sizing…I hate you so much! It's amazing what sizing was like just a few years ago compared to today. And I loooove the pic of your tailors! So cute!

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  43. Wow beautiful colour skirt. LOL I love the picture with your tailors – you have certainly brought them a lot of business I'm sure! Looking forward to your blog sale 😉

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  44. Megan wrote:

    You know my love of purple- obsessed with that skirt, and the blouse is to die for. I see you're rocking hose; I've been on the fence about whether or not we're too young for hose, but I feel like you executed them well. I only own tights at this point, but maybe I'll pick up a pair…

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  45. CynthiaC wrote:

    I can't believe how much AT has vanity sized! Size 2? Probably smaller than a current 00P! Love the blue. I'm trying to get myself to wear more bright colours too! 🙂

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  46. Tara wrote:

    The skirt itself totally fits the bill for the challenge! It is really a unique color, one that I sure wish I had!

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  47. kileen wrote:

    i'm amazed you were able to find an AT skirt while thrifting! the color is absolutely beautiful and it's definitely worth the alteration money. and that picture of you with your tailors is too cute! i'm sure you're one of their favorite customers. 🙂

    cute and little
    come join the Color Brigade!

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  48. Elle wrote:

    Is it bad that I just canceled my Thursday night dinner plans for next week? 🙂

    That skirt…what a find! I love the color and am as amazed as you are how much sizes have inflated over the last few years. Where do go thrifting in Boston? One of my college roomies lives in Brighton (I think last time I was there it wasn't too far by train from Boston) and I visit her a lot so maybe when I am there next I can check out what Boston's second hand scene has to offer!

    p.s. thanks for the offer to pick up the Stila gloss for me, I think I may just order online and take the 40%. BF is ordering some sweaters and I may get him to just let me throw in some of my things. 🙂 did you see more of the cosabella thongs in stores by chance?

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  49. Love that skirt, such a pretty color! This was such a fun challenge to do!

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply
  50. Anh wrote:

    Wow – gorgeous thrift find! That purple is lovely!

    Posted 1.25.11 Reply

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