Navy Silk Dots Blouse + Wool Bell Mini Skirt


Talbots silk blouse, wool skirt – both from Savers thrift store & DIY altered
 Ann Taylor patent pumps (3 colors), J.Crew Edie bag (7 colors)

Over the past few months, some of you may have noticed a shift in content on this blog. When I first started blogging, I focused largely on finding clothing that fit and flattered, suitable for my career and lifestyle. I ordered and tried on a large volume of items and posted many reviews. This year, due to a number of reasons, that type of content has been giving way to more posts on restyling existing items in my wardrobe.
silkdotswoolbell3For me, this shift first started in the spring with a new job and studying for the CFA. Having little free time meant that I really had to prioritize what to spend free time on, and shopping (& returning things that don’t work out) fell lower and lower on the list.
I know that many readers follow this blog primarily for the item reviews, and thus apologize that there won’t be as many from me going forward. Despite shopping less frequently, I hope to continue my fashion journey by putting more thought into each purchase, in hopes of creating a well-curated wardrobe of versatile pieces that each get sufficient love and wear. Thank you to everyone who is still following along, and especially to those who have been doing so for years!
And now, a few words on today’s post. These items were found at a New Hampshire thrift store. Since thrift store stock is hit or miss, and my DIY alterations are risky, I usually don’t visit unless there is an extra sale (you can sign up for email notifications). Not all items at these stores are “inexpensive,” and not all of them can be salvaged for modern-day wear. However, you can definitely get lucky and score nice pieces that are lower-priced and better-quality than what’s available in retail stores.
I was quickly drawn to this 100% silk blouse with the tags still attached, but it was priced accordingly at $24 before the discount. It was a size 10 and required a complete alteration overhaul in the shoulders, torso, and sleeves. I saw potential for a classic piece (also great for layering), and took the risk. It did not come out perfectly, but I am satisfied with the results. I took step-by-step photos of the alterations and can share if anyone is interested.

This skirt was a beautiful cream 100% wool, but was mid-calf length (easy hem job) plus a size too big in the waist (more difficult alteration job). I got lazy and shrunk it by drying it on high heat. I do not recommend doing this to any wool items that you care about. Out of three attempts to shrink wool in the dryer this year, 1 came out okay and 2 (see J.Crew pants) came out with the wool looking noticeably worn and damaged. You can even see in the above photos that the original skirt was smooth, and the post-dryer skirt is crinkled despite aggressive ironing. The zipper also got warped. The size did shrink down successfully, but at a cost, and I will not be taking this shortcut with smooth wools going forward.

Readers – Have your own (wardrobe) shopping habits and goals shifted over time? If so, how?

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  1. Vivian wrote:

    Beautiful alterations, Jean! Good job!

    Yeah, I have definitely scaled down shopping too much. Most especially on stuff I may not even use, or use as much as I would like to. I create a wishlist so I can really dig deep down for bargains (if it's possible) and focus on those things I really need in my wardrobe. I am on a college budget so that's a big factor in my spending. But I have never been so much happier with my wardrobe since I started reading your blog, so I have you to thank for.

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  2. Steph wrote:

    Hi Jean!
    I would just like to echo previous sentiments that I will continue to read your blog no matter what direction you take. I am a little sad that you'll no longer be posting reviews, since I love reading through your posts/tweets to see what is available in stores. My work hours really restrict my shopping to maybe 2-3 times per month, so your blog has been so helpful in directing me to certain items and stores thereby saving unnecessary browsing (free time is so precious for me!). You've also influenced me to try on numerous items that I would initially dismiss if I just saw it hanging on the rack. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know how much you've inspired me to try certain things and that I really appreciated your detailed reviews!

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    Could you do a post on your top 10 work dresses? This would be helpful for those of us new to the blog. I am trying to build my work closet.

    Thanks Jean!!! It is NOT helpful to readers to buy all of H&M; / Ann Taylor/ and Banana Republic. haha

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  4. Suzie Q wrote:

    Great alterations on the pieces. Your eye for clothes potential is so amazing. I am really interested in getting into sewing and alterations, due to your awesome showcases, but am a complete newbie to sewing. Any resources that you recommend when you first started? Or did you just do it on the fly?

    Suzie Q

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  5. Mrs. Smith wrote:

    I would LOVE to see the step-by-step pictures, Jean! Actually, about two years ago, when I started reading, I asked if you had heard of any blogs that specifically did alterations for petites. You said you hadn't really and I thought about starting my own.

    Then I realized I have three crazy children and am married to the Marine Corps!

    So thank YOU for expanding this part of your blog. I absolutely LOVE it and have continued to excitedly anticipate more and more posts on DIY alterations.

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  6. Anonymous wrote:

    Not so in love with the skirt. But the silk blouse looks amazing. You always look so nice in polka dots. I love the other polka dots DIY project you did too, the one with bow tie.

    I would love to read more DIY blogs!!

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  7. Annabelle wrote:

    I think my favorite thing about your blog is your eye for alterations and how to make specific items work in an outfit. I don't have sewing skills myself, but I do know a good tailor, and it's instructive to see how relatively minor changes take pieces from okay to great!

    My own shopping has shifted toward buying fewer but better pieces; I don't have so many holes in my wardrobe any more that I need to buy a lot at any given moment, so I try to make it count when I do buy.

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  8. Anonymous wrote:

    I have to say that I am really excited for more coverage about items being reworked and thrifted on your blog! Your style and alterations have been an endless source of inspiration! I can't wait to see what's to come! :]

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  9. jules wrote:

    i love this thrifted and diy'd outfit jean! and yes, i do appreciate the box retailer reviews, but it's also really nice to see outfits that can't be copied exactly & rather provide inspiration.


    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  10. I think it's great that your blog is evolving with you! As I appreciate fitting room finds and reviews, I also LOVE your DIY posts because they have really inspired me to look around and see what I can DIY too! So, thanks for your DIYs and I'd love to see the DIY of that blouse! Silk for that price and polka dot, cute!

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  11. Love your outfit! I only recently discovered your blog, and have been enjoying it, so obviously the new content is perfect for me. 🙂

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  12. Anna wrote:

    Can I say, without knowing you personally, that I am soooo so proud of you?!!! You have an awesome personality and style. Keep up with the blogging, no matter what the content is, you have tons of support from your blog viewers including myself.=)

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  13. Heather wrote:

    I couldn't have said it better myself! I wish I had the skills to alter clothing because I would LOVE to do that! You have unique pieces that you would never guess were thrifted. It makes me want to take a few classes.

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  14. Anonymous wrote:

    I love your blog and frequently recommend it. I found you earlier this year, but have read some of your older posts. I like the direction your blog is taking. My favorite aspects of the blog are the DIY posts and how items are styled/restyled.

    On another note, I've been thrifting for nearly 25 years. I have a beautiful vintage navy mini skirt (wool) that I have no hope of ever getting back into. I think it would be perfect on you. Do you think you'd be interested in the skirt? It's so beautiful I'd rather give it to someone who may appreciate it. I can send you the measurements if you're interested.

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  15. I love what you did with the skirt. My shopping habits have changed. I used to get items for full priced but now I go straight to the clearance or sales racks. It's just easier on my wallet, considering how much I shop. I do check out the new arrivals and see if I can perform some DIYs to mimic the look.

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  16. Eva Wu wrote:

    i realy like your blog and i'm following you on bloglovin

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  17. i love the direction that you are taking. i will continue to read your blog no matter what you decide to post on!

    xox P

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  18. Lauren wrote:

    I am seriously impressed by your thrifting and alterations skills. Also, the shift in your content is great, because it is shifting with you as you and your style (and buying habits) evolve. That's all us blog-readers want to see, anyway; a peak into someone's closet and a little advice to be gained along the way. Your blog continues to be one of my absolute favorites.


    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  19. Yeah, I forgot to say this, please share how you altered the blouse.-)

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  20. Hey Jean,
    I, too, have been into sewing. I would love for you to share the tutorial of altering the blouse! My email is Thanks! And as always, beautiful outfit. I actually am liking the content much more now than before!

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  21. Hi Jean,
    I changed my shopping habits a lot lately. I want to build a proffesional 30 year old woman wardrobe. All my clothes are from before I had my kids, I was 26 and still shopped very spontaniously. Now I spend less money, but buy more expensive clothes:-) I decided not to buy anything unless it is a basic piece. I realised I have no presentable basics! Can you beleive it?
    You are a great inspiration, your style is exactly what I would like to look like! I even started a sewing course, because I am tired of spending money on trendy cheap clothes, only to find them unwearable after couple washings. So my plan is to save up for some basics (blazer, coat, handbag, shoes…) and combine them with DIY pieces or deals:-)
    Please excuse my english, I am from Prague and english is my second language (best excuse ever as you said ones:-)

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  22. Joanna Le wrote:

    I've been interested in shrinking wool, but have never had the courage to try! Did you shrink them before altering the hem? I've had by eye on a pair of wool pants that are at the perfect ankle length pre-shrinking.. but the waist needs a bit of work. Did you find the hem of the skirt had changed as well?

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  23. Arts wrote:

    hey Jean

    I started reading your blog accidentally, then came back again and again to read all the contents. I love your blog even if they are not reviews…I like your style and even the food journey you take occasionally, is interesting, even though I'm a pure vegetarian 🙂

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  24. Lesley wrote:

    I love your blog!! Thanks for inspiring me to mix & match and not be afraid to dress more boldly (prints, colors, jewelry). I wear scrubs during the week, so I only get to dress up on's a good time for me to be a bit more adventurous(and I like to think about my weekend outfits during my work week). You have also inspired me to be more selective when I shop now. I have a few things that I really want, and when I go to the mall, I don't just buy everything in sight b/c it's "cheap" or "on sale". I thoroughly think about it now. Thanks for everything (: You're doing an awesome job!!

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  25. Emily wrote:

    I LOVE that you are blogging about clothes bought from a thrift store. My entry-level job makes it hard to buy clothes, but your blog is helping me figure out how to take budget items and make them chic. Very helpful!!

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  26. Katelyn wrote:

    I am impressed with your re-vamping of the thrift store items. I love shopping at thrift stores but usually rely on my Tailor for making size changes. Getting more into thrifting and "shopping your own closet" are good things for the planet and as you say – more free time!

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  27. newpetite wrote:

    I love the new direction your blog is taking! Its one thing to get stuff from the retail store and style it and totally a different ball game when you get the thrift store goodies and make it work for you! But thrifting can be a little addictive 😀 So I always have to maintain a check on that as multiple $3-$4 items can add up!!

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  28. Carolyn L wrote:

    Hi Jean! I absolutely love your blog and have been following you for almost a year now! I really appreciate your focus on thrifting and restyling — not only is it a great way to be more creative with your style, but also environmentally friendly 🙂 I was just wondering if you have any recommendations (perhaps do a series??) on how to get started with self alterations. I'd love to learn how to alter and sew my own clothes and it's always overwhelming trying to figure out where to start at the beginning. Any advice would be fantastic! Thanks for keeping up with such an awesome blog for us petite girls!

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  29. You are the reason I've become so stylish lately. I tell all of my friends about your blog and how it has inspired me over the past year to "step out of the box" Thank you for your tips and passion for timeless fashion 🙂

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  30. Anonymous wrote:

    Hi Jean,

    I really like your blog but lately I feel like you're stuck in a style rut with skirt, blouse and jacket combo.

    I dare you to push the envelope and try new styles especially for non work style.

    Please take this as positive criticism rather than an insult!

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  31. Irina wrote:

    Hi Jean,

    I'm extremely happy with the turn this blog took, as I find myself in the same situation. I feel very drawn towards sewing, but I don't have much practice and I can totally benefit from your DIY alteration posts. This is why I hope you will post somewhere the step-by-step photos of the alterations performed on the blouse.
    Keep up the great work.. I've read your entire blog and saw your style evolve so beautifully with time !


    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  32. OMG I'm amazed at your vision, if I saw that skirt I would completely walk by it!

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  33. Rachelle wrote:

    Love your blog and you made me wish I had sewing skills I would love to be able to alter my own clothing.

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  34. Erin wrote:

    I love your finds and the alterations you did to them! I didn't even notice the wrinkles in the skirt until you mentioned them. I think the direction you're going in with your blog is great. I'm less inspired by the bloggers who have something new to wear every single week, and more so by the ones who show creative, thoughtful ways to rework what's in their closet. Looking forward to seeing more Jean!


    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  35. Star White wrote:

    I adore your blog b/c you have a great way of seeing potential in thrifted items and creating something new! That is the 'theme' of my blog as well. I love visiting your site to get inspiration and to see how you look so put together without spending an arm and a leg.

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  36. FancyFree wrote:

    Love your blog, Jean, especially your thrifting entries. I enjoy seeing how you put things together, and I've been trying similar items in my wardrobe for new looks! Also, I'm being much more careful with my purchases, making sure they fit well and pair with several items. So, thanks for all the inspiration, and please keep blogging!

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  37. Tang wrote:

    I'm definitely inspired to go thrifting through all your posts. I've had my sewing machine sitting around for the longest time. Would love to see your step-by-step directions for the shirt!

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  38. Anonymous wrote:

    I like this shift of the content of your blog as I am neither petite nor American. But I am Asian and I love to see how fellow Asian style themselves, making them look older ! And I love that this blog reflect the style of a real person and not a professional blogger whose wardrobe is exclusively made of designer products!
    Looking forward to your future posts!

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  39. Anonymous wrote:

    I love your blog, and I am REALLY inspired by the thrift store alterations. I would really like to see the step by step alterations of this blouse. I am very intimidated by doing my own alterations, but you are inspiring me to give it a try!

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  40. You look so beautiful! I love this entire outfit, so classy and chic. The skirt looks amazing on you and I actually don't mind the crinkles because it looks like it was meant to be that way. Though I love reading your reviews, I'm equally as interested in how you take thrifting finds and making them look like new and fresh items. 🙂

    xo, Yi-chia

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  41. Ana wrote:

    Jean, I've been a reader for a long, long time, but I don't comment very often. As someone who is short, but not a size 0, I've always appreciated knowing who is selling "short" items. However, I must say that I really appreciate your new direction. I didn't necessarily read it as you will stop blogging, only that you will move towards curating your own dream wardrobe and helping your readers do the same thing. I am going to love that because I don't have time (or money!) to go out and buy everything new each season. I want to buy quality pieces that will last me for years and that I can wear over and over again. Good luck in your new adventures, I can't wait to read about them!

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  42. I love that you're doing more DIY! In truth, much of my impulse buys over the last year have been because of your posts, so more DIY posts will help calm my shopping urge – and encourage me to find great thrifting places here in NYC. Really love reading your blog. 🙂

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  43. Anonymous wrote:

    As a 57yo petite follower of your blog, I am thrilled to see you using alterations as a way of being responsible with our wardrobe. While we keep concentrating on 'college' education, we seem to be losing the practical/creative skills such as sewing. It is very rewarding to be able to see what you can create with your own hands.

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  44. Anonymous wrote:

    Hello Jean, I love your blog and have been following for over a year. I don't mind the shift in your blogging content. I much prefer your DIY and repurposing of old/thrifted items. I am petite and although the reviews are nice, I don't rely too much on them as I read your blog for some styling ideas moreso than for the items that I can buy as a petite. I can sew and often have to alter my clothes to fit me so it is nice to see bloggers like yourself doing the same and encouraging their readers to wear clothes that FIT.

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  45. Janki wrote:

    I buy a majority of my clothes at this great thrift store (that sells mostly Tablots, Ann Taylor, and Banana Republic items for $3). I personally like the shift if your blog, though I've been reading you for about a year I think. I used to see your blog and try to find items similiar in thrift form, since I wasn't shopping at those stores. But now, I see your blog as a way to hone in on my own eye for style– being able to see potential in things and being very strict in terms of what isn't working. I've tossed quite a few items (easy to do when they are inexpensive) because I want everything to fit right.

    Like others have said, you've inspired me to learn to sew! I'm signing up for classes soon. I hope this opens up even more possibilities for me in terms of my wardrobe.

    Though I'm about 10 years older than you, I find your professional style just perfect for me. Your style is polished and classic and you incorporate trends but in a carefully thought out way.

    I echo the requests to see how you alter, since that may help some of us newbies too. Also, I love your evolution with accessories… when I see your older posts, I can really see how you've developed your style.

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  46. Anonymous wrote:

    I like the DIY alteration posts better than the reviews. I am a student and almost always buy second-hand clothes. So I love your posts on thrifted items. I cannot buy new items frequently (and if I do, I always buy from crazy sales), so the reviews are not as helpful for me.

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  47. Mary-Irene wrote:

    This is such a great post! I have been following your blog since 2010! I remember seeing you on a Loft "Petite Bloggers" post on Facebook, and that's when I began following your blog as well as several other petite fashion bloggers. I have been with you for a lot of your journey, and I have enjoyed all of your posts. I intend to stay with you, of course, because it's only sensible to re-style and "go shopping in your own closet" (as my friends and I call it). I think it's very inspirational to see you working with things you've already purchased and mixing it up. I absolutely loved your videos this summer, because they were largely focused on styling with what you have, and not running out to buy new. All of that said, I have also benefited from the fitting room and size reviews. Though I am not as tiny, your reviews do help me to judge whether I will need to size up or down (or not bother at all), which is particularly helpful when ordering online. There are enough other petite bloggers out there where we can still get this incredibly helpful information, so you should do what you feel is best for you and your blogging future. Thanks for all you do for us petites! I honestly feel as though the blogging community have put this category on the map, and major retailers have begun taking us more seriously by bringing us more, better options because of it!

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  48. mingming wrote:

    I really love how you've shifted your focus actually. I think the fashion blogging community sometimes focuses a bit too much on always buying new things and spending a lot of money, which for a lot of people isn't always feasible. So I applaud your change and hope you become an inspiration for others; style and fashion aren't about amassing a ton of clothes never to be worn. And I think that's really easy to forget in our very consumerist society.

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  49. Tiffany wrote:

    Love this look. Admittedly, I don't thrift, but seeing how easily and beautifully old pieces can be reworked into something new and classic makes me reconsider my devotions to Banana, J. Crew, Express, and T.J. Maxx.

    Good on you for protecting your content and individuality. Hopefully this transition will prevent others from capitalizing on your creativity and dedication to style 🙂

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  50. Helly wrote:

    I am 100% for you reviewing second-hand items or restyling from your existing wardrobe! It's much more meaningful, sustainable and creative than constantly persuading readers to purchase purchase and purchase new pieces! Looking forward to the future of Extra Petite 🙂

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply

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