Lookbook: Zesty Neon and Finding Balance

Thank you all for the candid feedback on my Jason Wu for Target items. I ended up mailing all the clothes to friends who will hopefully look better in them. On a separate note, I wanted to explain my recent (& upcoming) absence and delay in responding to your questions and emails. Interacting with readers is so important to me, and I feel terrible that my responsiveness has fallen to the wayside.

As some of you may know, I’m currently studying for the CFA Level 3 exam in June. I’m scared just thinking about it and considered closing Extra Petite til then. However, remembering Level 2 with the 10-12 hour workdays then cramming past midnight, never seeing friends or even Nick, and almost sprouting a beard due to lack of grooming…I realized I need this stress-relieving outlet. Please bear with me as posts may be sporadic, and please accept my apology for not being responsive during this time. I have plenty I want to share – like a beautiful walking boot for small calves (twitpic), a costly alterations saga, and photos from my Asia trip – I just need to find some balance.
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H&M; blazer sz 2, style #037443, $34.95 (altered here), H&M; shell and clutch, Talbots necklace 
Crewcuts Cotton & Silk Double-Dipped Skirt sz 10 (taken in), Gap neon sweater, BR heels

The warm-weather outfit in today’s post was from right before my Asia trip. Nick and I had a lengthy layover at LAX and were preparing to set up camp, but Wendy and her boyfriend came to our rescue. We had a delish Korean lunch involving more banchan than I could ever ask for, satisfied Nick’s boba cravings, and chatted away 5 hours before I knew it…

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Last week, I saw that Wendy’s Lookbook was nominated for Bloglovin’s newcomer of the year award (cast your votes). A quick scroll through Bloglovin’s top fashion blogs shows tall, leggy, model-esque bloggers. I’m proud to see a fellow 5-feet tall (not to mention, minority) woman being recognized amongst the top influencers of fashion blogging.
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This zesty Crewcuts skirt was purchased on final sale for about $11. With J.Crew final sale, I strongly suggest asking their online customer service for item measurements and comparing them against stuff you own. I was certain I’d be a kids 12 and was bummed that it was sold out. I decided to settle for the kids 10, praying that it wouldn’t be scandalously small. The kids 10 turned out to be so roomy that it hung limply off my hips. Darn you, J.Crew, and your inconsistent and often inflated sizes. If you are my size, then a kids 8 in this skirt might fit best.
lalights
This outfit made me think of an interesting article Kelly wrote about “faking the fit” on garments – something I’m occasionally guilty of. Both jacket and skirt here didn’t fit right off the rack, which is not unusual. As alterations can be time-consuming to DIY or costly to get done, I was tempted to mask the roomy sleeves by scrunching them, and to hoist the skirt up with a snug belt.

Unfortunately, an outfit that truly fits gives off a noticeably different vibe than one with “faked fit,” not to mention brings the wearer a higher level of confidence. When faking, I was too distracted constantly adjusting the sleeves, and the skirt bunched up unnaturally around the cinched waist. I ended up taking the time to slim and shorten the jacket sleeves, and sewed both sides of the skirt in about 1-2 inches. Several hours of labor later, I couldn’t be happier with the results!
lalights1

Readers – For those of you who juggle work, study, and/or other responsibilities, I’d love to hear advice on how to find balance and stay sane through it all.

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113 Comments

  1. Elle wrote:

    (big hug)

    You are tough as nails and will undoubtedly overcome this challenging time with the tenacity you've demonstrated in the past. As much as I enjoy your posts, I fully understand and support your decision to take on a less frequent posting schedule. And I know you'll pass the exam with flying colors so I'll just wish you sanity during this hectic time.

    And I love these pictures and envy California weather….the backdrop for these picture is simply gorgeous. Thank you for sharing them with us. 🙂 Can't wait to read your upcoming posts, they all sound extremely interesting (and I don't know if you have an H&M; fitting room post prepared, but would be interested in that as well…since I bought a few things that I haven't decided if I should keep and would be interested in hearing your thoughts).

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  2. I hope the exam goes great! I didn't know you were in finance. My husband took the Series 7 and 66 not too long ago, so I know how much studying is required for that sort of thing. I don't know how you keep up with the blog. You must never sleep. Well done, girl!

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  3. SS wrote:

    Hope the best for your exam.

    Glad you still keep your blog!

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  4. It's hard to balance life and find some time for yourself. I balance full time work, not to mention doing the duties of a business owner (accountant, hr, project management etc), raising 2 kids, and being a wife. There are many days I just want to break down and cry.. but really there's not even time for a good cry.

    I think having a good support system is the key. Designate some time off for yourself, either with friends or your significant other. Scheduling and organization will help keep you sane.

    Good Luck Jean!

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  5. good luck on the exam!! I've been burnt out for a long while now, just try to do your best! getting up at 3, going to workout then work, home to study, then to bed. love it :/ just think it won't be forever.

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  6. Good luck with all your exams Jean. We all love hearing from you, seeing your posts, learning what you've been up to. And of course everybody will understand that real life has to come first, so you'll be posting when you can. Not to worry, and we'll see you on the other side!

    xoxo
    http://www.natashafatah.blogspot.com

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  7. I was struck at – CFA 3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 I am merely considering getting into the CFA's next year and already forecasting the death of me as anything but a desk geek. seriously, it is not us to give you advice but you to hold a workshop on juggling it all.

    All the best Jean. Your readers love you. Believe in you.

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  8. It's wonderful to see the kind of wonderful relationships fellow bloggers cultivate. Wow, I don't know how you juggle all this. There were times I wondered about the same thing, whether I should just shut down the blog. Between running my online consignment business, looking after a little girl, managing a household etc…there's just not enough hours in a day. Something has to give or else we'll just drive ourselves crazy trying to be a superwoman.

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  9. gigiofca wrote:

    You look gorgeous! You're probably doing it all well even if it doesn't feel like it at times 😉

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  10. Yes, I miss being able to read and comment on your posts, hence the spam of comments from me within the past hour. I adore this warm weather outfit on you–you really know how to make neon look classy and not tacky! How do you have such amazing taste?! 😛 You and Wendy truly are fashion/style icons: I look to you for professional, work appropriate outfits and Wendy for everyday casual chic wear! I get so much inspiration from you both and am absolutely grateful for all the wonderful, useful and helpful tips from your informative posts and videos (whenever I am able to set aside some free time to literally stalk both your blogs for a few hours)!

    I really can't give you any advice. Quite frankly, I would like to seek your advice on how to be able to maintain such great balance in your life amongst crazy long work hours, studying for your exam for career growth, CONSISTENTLY blogging, interacting with readers by managing social media and answering e-mails, shopping, spending time with Nick, your family, and friends–how do you manage to do it all, Super Jean? Please do a post whenever you have the time, perhaps after all the craziness of test prep and you finish taking the exam in the summer! 🙂 I really could use some tips on balance.

    I really can't manage my personal time…which is why my old blog died off, but I would really love to get back into blogging–not just on beauty–but about anything and everything that tickles my fancy, as writing is a passion and hobby of mine, and I also want to have an outlet for my thoughts. You should also have a post about how to grow a blog and have a following 🙂 If you already do have such a post, I'm sorry I didn't do a search yet. X_X

    Wow, okay. This has somehow turned into a letter without me realizing. I'm sorry for rambling away! But I guess it makes up for not being able to comment in so long!

    <3caroline

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  11. Ozi Girl wrote:

    Oh and good on Nick for being so supportive 🙂

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  12. Ozi girl wrote:

    Hi Jean,
    You're my inspiration! You seem to juggle your work, studies, your blog and your personal life so effortlessly and with such grace. I am in financial services too and i know how difficult CFA is – great work on passing 2 levels! You give me the confidence to push myself to do more both professionally and personally.

    Please please don't shut the blog. We are here to support you 🙂

    Go girl! you can do it xoxo

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  13. Katie wrote:

    ohh i love those shoes!! can't believe you got that skirt for such a good price too, after the adjustments it fits like a dream 🙂

    my tip on scheduling? i'm an accountant & a bi-weekly-ish blogger: lists lists lists! (partly because it's so satisfying crossing something out when it's done!)

    Katie x

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  14. Good luck with your CFA Level 3, Jean! Oh and hello from SF — sorry, I'm not a frequent commenter here, but I discovered this blog a few months ago and I just have to say how fabulous, stylish, and influential you've been to me and my fashion choices 🙂

    Anyway, back to ~destressing~ When I was studying for my CPA exam, I basically had no life for about a year. Kinda like what you said: work until late, study even later. Somewhere along the way I realized that I couldn't do solid work-study-work – I really burned out. I came to realize that 1) work is always there, and 2) don't let life pass you by! Take a breather to go outside (sunshine does wonders), see friends and family, talk to others and vent frequently 😉 Otherwise, it's all too physically and mentally draining!

    Hang in there, we all know you'll do amazing – and really, if you need to take a break from blogging for a bit, go ahead!, we all understand.

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  15. elle.b wrote:

    I wish there is a like button to this comment! Totally agree with you!

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  16. Pamada wrote:

    oh i saw these pics on wendy's blog and i loved the skirt from there! almost makes me wanna shop jcrew again (i have issues with their sizing being too big, but never thought of trying the kids section).

    i think its had, i have a hard time with it myself between work, my gym schedule, blogging and spending quality time with the bf… sometimes i got a lil crazy but if you have a good support system that helps a lot! i hope nick is that for u! and i think sometimes its really good to just stop .. even if its for an hour to BREATHE. does a mind good. breathe!

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  17. Jyoti wrote:

    That's a fantastic skirt! I can't believe you got it for so cheap!

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  18. Wishing you the best with your upcoming exam. I'm glad that you will still be blogging when you have free time. I really appreciated the time and dedication you put into your blog.

    You're reader have left a lot of good advice. My advice to you to remember to take break from your studying for a little me time

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  19. Genie wrote:

    Hey Jean! I love your outfit, super cute. I actually schedule certain amounts of time for each subject that I'm studying in between work, classes, and transit time. I adjust the time I need to study according to how difficult the class is for me. I hope that helps!

    xoxo,
    Genie

    http://www.uniqueandchicstyle.blogspot.com

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  20. Good luck! I understand about finding balance and we will miss you in your absence but know that your blog brings so many people joy =D

    This is a lovely outfit – you look amazing.

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  21. R.L. wrote:

    Wow, thank you for the great tip!

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  22. dollyeyed wrote:

    Your outfit is so beautiful! I love the skirt. It looks so cute.
    Can't wait to see your photos from Asia! 🙂

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  23. R.L. wrote:

    I bought that skirt in sz 8 and the waist fits okay, but I might be able to fit one size smaller which is crazy because I'm normally a sz 14 in kid bottoms. So who knows what sz you could have gone down too! With the sz 8 there's still a generous amount of material for the pleats so I might try a DIY slimming but I'd hate to have to sacrifice the pockets.

    Best of luck on studying for your exam, Jean! I'm sure you'll do great! I'm terrible at time management but I find that single-tasking works for me. Setting a timer for 30 min or so and doing just that one task makes me more efficient. I also read blogs when I shouldn't so I even considered downgrading from a smartphone, lol.

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  24. Jeanne wrote:

    Good luck, Jean! =) I can certainly relate to those periods of intensive studying when all you see is the walls of your room. Not healthy at all! I'm glad you've established a sense of balance for yourself.

    I saw a girl wear those boots literally hours ago at the bus stop! She had really small calves and they looked pretty darn good on her. Can't wait for your review 😉

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  25. blueberry wrote:

    Just a tip regarding Jcrew final sale items – they do not have to be final! If you ask for a gift receipt at time of purchase, you can return the item for store credit if you end up not liking it. Jcrew WILL take returns on final sale items as long as you have a GIFT receipt that accompanies it. A Jcrew employee told me about this when I was wavering on buying something for my fiance (because I didn't know if it would fit him). I did end up returning it with the gift receipt and they honored the return even though it was technically a final sale, no questions asked. I have yet to try this with a final sale purchased online, but I do know there is a gift receipt option when buying online so I'm assuming it's the same deal.

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  26. Petite-ish wrote:

    Boy do I understand about finding balance! I was hoping you would be the one to give us insight about juggling it all, because you seem to do it so gracefully! Your readers have left lots of good advice. Personally, as I get older, I think one thing I've learned is that you have to prioritize and know when to do something not as well as you COULD do it but only as well as you NEED to do it. For example, my classes and research fell by the wayside a bit when I was studying for the boards because spending time with my bf and passing the boards were more important to me. I also try to physically separate my work and home space. When I was at school, the library, the hospital, I would try to do that with full focus. When I came home, I tried to be equally present. I think it's something we working girls will struggle with for the rest of our working lives, so we'll have plenty of practice to get it right 🙂 If you ever need a study buddy, let me know…

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  27. jules wrote:

    what a beautiful outfit jean! and i totally agree about the fit issue – i always feel uncomfortable tugging and pulling at my clothes when they don't fit right and i think it shows in my confidence!

    good luck with studying and your exam, your blog is always a great read and i will frequent it no matter how often you post

    julesinflats.blogspot.com

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  28. Lily Yuen wrote:

    Good Luck to you on studying for your CFA Level 3! I just want to say how much I love your blog and how I just look forward to all your blog entries. It is really a joy.

    For balance, my advice is to pray. I am not sure if you are religious, but I am Christian. Praying really helps me refocus on what is important and recenter my emotions and mind. For more random tips, I have been using Origins Peace of Mind, it is a balance from ODing too much on caffeine. Also sleep is key to energize those brain cells!

    Hope that helps.

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  29. Anonymous wrote:

    I'm amazed and impressed with the energy you devote to your blog, it is clear it is a lot of hard work, which is why you are struggling to make time for studying. As someone with a full-time job who lives in another country, I wish I had the time and/or energy to do both a blog and work and study.

    That being said my best advice for studying is to set specific times for study, test yourself, and be disciplined. But remember you also need "you" time.

    Hope we get to see pictures of you in Asia…must be fantastic shopping there for us petites! I remember being in Vietnam many years ago and loving that the pajama bottoms I bought required NO hemming! –April

    Posted 2.10.12 Reply
  30. Best of luck with your upcoming exam! I'm glad you'll still be using your blog as an outlet bc we readers sure do appreciate your content.

    As far as balance goes, I tend to focus on whatever has the most urgency (feeding the kids, work deadlines [not relevant at the moment], etc.) but always leave at least 1 hour per day for a fun priority like playing with the kids. If something is a short-term time-suck, I'm more likely to devote more time to it than something ongoing.

    BTW, you and Wendy really do look like sisters!

    Posted 2.9.12 Reply
  31. xoxoCat wrote:

    I'm glad you ended up returning the Jason Wu garments. The quality is questionable, and although you have the ability to make many strange things work wonderfully, I just think there are better separates available elsewhere. Love the colour combo in this outfit. 🙂

    Posted 2.9.12 Reply
  32. Those oversized pearls are gorgeous! I see you're in our neck of the woods too!

    Let us know if you ever need any free jewelry for your shoots!

    Love your blog!

    http://www.RocksPaperMetal.com
    http://www.RocksPaperMetal.etsy.com

    Posted 2.9.12 Reply
  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

    Posted 2.9.12 Reply
  34. Those are some great looks. I am loving the neutrals and neons this season!

    Best of luck on your exam. Balance is key and create schedules and stick with them. Use blogging as a way to unwind, not something you NEED to do.

    Posted 2.9.12 Reply
  35. Audrey wrote:

    Hi Jean! I'm a follower, but I've never commented before. I just wanted to say you are such a sweetheart to your readers, the way you respond to questions and things like that. I follow a LOT of blogs, and am always surprised when I see blogs that have a crazy amount of followers, but they NEVER respond to their readers (or at least not where you can see it in the comments) and they never write things like "thank you for your support" after they write about a tough time and get a huge outpouring of support in comments from followers. But you are different! You are so sweet 🙂 Good luck on your exam!

    Posted 2.9.12 Reply
  36. Patti wrote:

    Jean, best of luck with your exam. I know you'll do great.

    Posted 2.9.12 Reply
  37. Catherine wrote:

    congrats on just having one more exam left! You seen so smart & talented I'm sure you'll have no problem with level 3 🙂

    as an accounting student, i was curious on what area of finance you are in & what you do now? i'm curious about your life outside of fashion,haha!

    Posted 2.9.12 Reply
  38. The weekend after Valentine's day, I'm taking Brett to LA and one of our stops is the LACMA to see the light installation. Hope you had fun there!

    Good luck with your upcoming study lock-down. You are so disciplined!

    Posted 2.9.12 Reply
  39. Good luck with you exam, girl! I think the main thing for the blog is to make sure it stays fun for you!

    Posted 2.9.12 Reply
  40. Angie wrote:

    you look gorgeous in LA, jean! meeting up with wendy seems so fun and like a good break for you. good luck on your level 3 exam! i know that i tried to close down my blog for studying for the mcat and most of my college life has been filled with studying late, barely seeing friends, and a lot of stress, but in the end blogging really does help me keep sane and get miles away from my campus, at least mentally. you have a gazillion more readers to please, but keep your life goals in place and use this wonderful community you've created to relax. we all wish you the very best!

    Posted 2.9.12 Reply
  41. Susan wrote:

    I know the CFA Level 3 is really challenging, but for some reason, I'm sure you'll do great! You're so intelligent, focused, and hard-working, I just have confidence that you can do it!

    I'm in my third year in my Ph.D program, and finding the work/family/social life balance is a common topic of discussion. It's really hard to do it all without feeling guilty and feeling like you're doing mediocre at every aspect of your life! In my case, I have to constantly prioritize and not condemn myself for the things I can't get done.

    Your blog and a few others are the ones I read when I just want to relax and enjoy my down time. 🙂 But I totally understand if you take a break from blogging for awhile. You'll do great! 🙂

    Posted 2.9.12 Reply
  42. Cher wrote:

    For me, it's really about trying to keep my schedule consistent, which isn't always possible, but I do my best. I'm a planner, and when I'm studying or working long hours, I plan everything to the hour. It might stress some people out, but for me, the fact that I have time set aside for everything I need to do, is one less thing to worry about. Of course, if for whatever reason you veer off schedule, you have to recognize it's not the end of the world. It's also really important to you have some "you"-time–some sort of outlet that gives you time to relax. When I was studying for the bar, that was the gym, and I went every day. For other people, it was things like cake-decorating class. I didn't have my blog back then and I don't know how I would have fit that in, but if your blog is going to be your "you"-time then that's perfectly OK. It's also nice if you spend time with the SO to hang out (even if it's just dinner every night) so they don't feel so neglected :P, but the time together is good for both of you. Good luck on your exams! I'm writing a new set of bar exams in June too, so we'll both be trying to balance things and stay sane at the same time!

    Posted 2.9.12 Reply
  43. Lisa Ng wrote:

    Oh, please don't shut down your site! I love your posts and advice and photos. Blogging really is a de-stresser, as long as you don't force yourself to blog or stress over not blogging. We all have different seasons in life, and you should focus on that test and relationships. We'll be here when you come back!

    Posted 2.9.12 Reply
  44. I love the side by side photo of you and Wendy- representing style opposites that I both adore. Wendy is my favorite edgy-chic girl and you're my favorite timeless-polished girl. Thanks for sharing!

    Posted 2.9.12 Reply
  45. Keeping your blog up is a great way to de-stress. Don't worry – we'll all be here once you're finished with your exam. (Good luck btw!) Like Jen said, remember to exercise, eat right, and get a good amount of sleep every night. : ) I try to spread my blog posts out and schedule a bunch of posts at a time so I don't have to worry about posting actively. You know me with my university work… on top of family, social life, and both my paid work and internship as well. SO. MUCH. WORK.

    Love the colours you're wearing btw!

    Posted 2.9.12 Reply
  46. May wrote:

    I admire all you bloggers who work full-time and do this in your spare time. I think Anh of @9to5chic posted about this recently. I am a young professional, married, without kids, and when I get home, I just want to veg out. I've toyed with the idea of starting my own blog, but in the end, I don't want to invest the time commitment to do a good job. I'd rather read the style and personal finance blogs I enjoy and then get involved in my other hobbies. Even though your professional responsibilities are important, it's healthy for your sense of wellbeing to balance your life with things you enjoy outside of work. So make time for your blog, maybe a post a week? Just so you can spend time with your family and friends as well.

    Posted 2.9.12 Reply
  47. Anonymous wrote:

    I'm also a fellow Level 3 candidate who pays close attention to fashion and your blog! You're my inspiration and I'm happy that I am not alone!

    Posted 2.9.12 Reply
  48. Janki wrote:

    Jean, I had to laugh out loud with your "almost sprouted a beard" comment! I'm Indian and threading is a must-have for me. I think you'll find that a timer can be your best friend to keep you on track with studying AND balance. If you are like me, you can either get easily side-tracked with silliness (I swear I must have adult ADD) or you get totally overwhelmed and too myopic in your studying and not come up for air. Perhaps the timer can keep you on track for time wasters and make sure you are taking necessary breaks to keep your sanity?
    I have to say how much I love your blog and how much it's helped me look more polished.

    Posted 2.9.12 Reply
  49. Britt wrote:

    One thing to keep in mind to get balance is to leave margin in your schedule, room for the unexpected. Another thing is to set realistic goals. I'm sure we, your readers, understand when you need to focus on other things going on in your life. Take care of yourself, or there will be no way you can do anything else. You don't want to succumb to burnout! Hope you can find time to get all you need to done and have some free time for yourself and fun stuff. 🙂

    Posted 2.9.12 Reply
  50. Jen wrote:

    You are a crazy girl, and so amazing for being able to balance so many aspects of your life. Unfortunately I don't have any advice for you, but I do totally agree with the need to have a de-stressing outlet. Exercise is also very important and helps clear the mind to focus!

    Hope you are doing well in spite of the busy-ness, Jean!
    xo
    Jen

    P.S. Beautiful photos, I've always wanted to visit California and take photos at those gorgeous pillars!

    Posted 2.9.12 Reply

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