Simple Spring: White on White

The past few days in Boston have been surreal, and I thank each one of you who have expressed care or concern. I read every message and truly appreciate your thoughts. We had group counseling at the office yesterday to help transition back to normalcy, only to wake up this morning to find the city panicked and in lockdown mode. As numerous tragic events keep unfolding around the world, I’m thankful for my friends and loved ones, and my heart goes out to those who’ve been affected.

double ivory mustard cardigan3

J.Crew felted wool mini (altered) and pumps (similar), thrifted & altered blouse (similar), Gap sweater jacket (stripe version) (similar), Prada tote, H&M; scarf (similar under $10)

It feels frivolous to be posting fashion at this time, but writing this was a welcome respite from the chaos on TV. I wore this outfit to work a few weeks ago, and loved the look of a fresh ivory canvas plus an accent color and some neutrals. For a more casual setting, I replaced the blazer with a cozy sweater jacket, which also provided a punch of color.

double ivory mustard cardigan4

This 100% silk, Lauren by RL blouse is one of my most-worn thrift store finds. It was several sizes too big, but I couldn’t pass up the nice and weighty silk quality for $4 (especially when compared to the flimsy and sheer options typically found on today’s market).

double ivory mustard cardigan5

I altered the shoulders in a few inches by adding hand-stitched ruching, then slimmed the sleeves and torso (all steps shown here). I recognize this method is a shortcut and does not look ideal at the shoulders, but didn’t have the patience to try a total re-sizing (tutorial here) again. After reaching for this blouse so much, I think it may have earned itself a professional tailoring overhaul.

double ivory mustard cardigan1

This skirt went on my wishlist right after Elle’s review, and ended up being the last part of my J.Crew end-of-year sale haul. With the repeated price cuts and extra discounts, it’s easy to go a little nuts. I tried to narrow down the items I really loved, then considered which ones could withstand waiting through a few rounds of price cuts. I bought “online only” items first, but waited on things that could be found in stores. In-store sales are usually better than online, and sizes linger around at random locations – you just need to make sure the cost of store shipping doesn’t trump the savings. I was also willing to buy items earlier on that would make up for the price difference in frequent wears.

When all was said and done, I went back to assess my damage over 9 months and note any lessons learned:

1. Schoolboy blazer in wool flannel (worn here) – $150 – bought at small discount due to classic color to fill wardrobe void, and online only petite sizing.
2. & 3. Mustard wool Lady Jacket and pencil skirt (worn here) – $146 (includes $20 for taking-in alterations) – bought fairly early for the petite sizing, plus caught an online pop-back of my size.
4. Camel Mona pumps – $110 – bought fairly early due to classic color and online only sz 5.5.
5. Crewcuts burgundy corduroy pants (worn here) – $14 – unecessary impulse buy due to aimlessly browsing sales racks, which I now try to avoid.
6. Ivory wool mini skirt – $54 (includes $9 “item finder” store to home shipping & $20 alterations) – waited til end of season clearance to do store search. Skirt is available in regular size only and would require alterations regardless, and sold out online & locally early on. 

Total: $474 for 6 pieces.

Despite all the sales and steep discounts, it’s easy to see that J.Crew prices can add up quickly. I also attempted to do the skirt alterations myself, but their waistband construction proved to be too complicated for my skill and patience. Except for the one impulse buy, however, I’m very happy with the purchases and have been wearing them on regular rotation.

double ivory mustard cardigan

Readers – How do you decide what items are worth buying earlier/at higher prices versus waiting for a better sale?

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  1. Anonymous wrote:

    How did the schoolboy blazer fit off the rack? Did you need to do any alterations?

    Posted 4.23.13 Reply
  2. AA Imaging wrote:

    I love the color on you! The blouse looks sooo nice! I wish I could find one like it. Also, your blog helped me decide that it was time to give Ann Taylor's perfect pump a try. So I went to their website and looked at the pumps there. They look nice but recent reviews show they have stopped using genuine leather on their soles! Did you know that? Some people are complaining about the quality of these cheaper shoes. Will you continue to buy your shoes from them despite this recent downward shift in quality? I am thinking I may have to look elsewhere now, but where?

    Posted 4.23.13 Reply
  3. Alissa wrote:

    I am so afraid of wearing all white, but you have completely inspired me to try an all over white look! This is amazing.

    Posted 4.23.13 Reply
  4. Henry Duke wrote:

    those heels doe…. 🙂

    Posted 4.23.13 Reply
  5. chloe zee wrote:

    Love the cream color wool mini — do you think it is possible to alter a size 10 down to a size petite 00? 🙂

    Stay strong and safe in Boston!

    Posted 4.23.13 Reply
  6. Dee wrote:

    Ivory and Mustard look very good together. BTW, I heart that bag!


    Posted 4.22.13 Reply
  7. I am so happy to hear you and your loved ones are ok.
    To answer your question, I am kind of picky so when I see something, that is a besic piece, fits me perfectly, it is made of good material and I like it, I buy it no matter what. But this doesn´t happen too often, so when it does, I don´t hesitate. Problem is it happens usually in the stores where I can´t afford to shop for everything, o I would only go to these hops when I have some money saved up and would only buy a basic item, nothing to trendy and easy going out of style…

    Posted 4.22.13 Reply
  8. I love the skirt…
    I've started just waiting for sales now, I kept buying things, only wearing it a few times and then seeing it half price a couple of weeks later…
    I hate that feeling.

    Posted 4.22.13 Reply
  9. Such a great monochromatic look! Very classic and elegant. 🙂

    Posted 4.22.13 Reply
  10. Wow, you are a vision of elegance and beauty. Absolutely adore this outfit, and already smitten with your blog!


    Posted 4.22.13 Reply
  11. I love the clean look of this outfit. You look amzing as always.

    Posted 4.22.13 Reply
  12. i don't think i have worn an all white look before, but you are inspiring me to! 🙂

    Sandy a la Mode

    Posted 4.22.13 Reply
  13. cute!! love your scarf with the sweater!!

    Posted 4.22.13 Reply
  14. Janki wrote:

    I too am glad you posted. I grew up in San Francisco and I remember after a very large earthquake how strangers became friends and people would lend each other a hand. It was the common experience that suddenly bound us. I am glad you are ok and that your work was trying to give people an outlet to express feelings.
    I have to say that for the last 3-4 years I've not really bought anything full retail at all. I feel like it has to really knock my socks off. Nowadays, I'm finding so many good (better quality) thrift store finds, that I don't want to look at retail. Things nowadays seem super trendy and poorly made that I don't want to buy it.
    The pieces you bought were great, don't get me wrong, but I have an inherent cheapie nature that has a hard time justifying anything that is expensive (even with cost/per wear in mind). I know that isn't popular, but I can't really get over it. And, since I don't like shopping at places that have poor quality, I'm finding that thrift stores give me the brand names at below Target prices.
    Your winter white look is fantastic! Thought I'm so clumsy, I'd have spilled something (or sat in something) to ruin it.

    Posted 4.21.13 Reply
  15. petitephd wrote:

    i'm glad that you still posted because, well, for one it lets your readers know that you're okay. but also–and i heard this on a npr segment right after the bombing–it provides peace and comfort to those who find comfort in their daily routine. i'm sure there are readers who need a respite from the chaos and they may have found it by browsing their favorite blogs, or going to their favorite cafes, etc. so thank you for that.

    also, j. crew items totally add up fast! as a brand, it frustrates me too…sales/discounts on items are not linear (something that could be on sale at the beginning of the season may not be a week or two later…some items are discounted for just a couple of days! and the inconsistency between online & real life only increases my frustration, although it seems like sales associates are willing to match online prices these days), making the whole shopping experience feel like a stressful game where i need to wait and see if i can maximize my chances of getting something i want at the lowest possible price. gah. excuse my ranting 😛 you look absolutely lovely…the ivory ensemble with the colored accessories is genius and very spring!

    Posted 4.21.13 Reply
  16. Rachel wrote:

    Hi Jean, I don't ever comment, but I wanted to tell you that last night, I finally altered an old boxy and poor-fitting black lace skirt because of your easy tips. Now it's fitted and flattering to my 5'2" body. Thanks for all the great posts!

    Posted 4.21.13 Reply
  17. Anonymous wrote:

    very nice

    Posted 4.21.13 Reply
  18. I agree J.Crew pieces individually seem like such a great deal, but you're right, they DO ADD UP SO QUICKLY! Even with the additional 30-40% off…I have a hard time buying final sale items. Amazing outfit and love the camel accessories with ivory.

    Posted 4.21.13 Reply
  19. Van Nguyen wrote:

    I love this outfit.

    Where do you find your bracelets? I have a tiny wrist and most bracelets look too big on my hand.

    Posted 4.20.13 Reply
  20. I am glad you and your family are safe .. My prayers goes out to everyone in Boston.


    Posted 4.20.13 Reply
  21. Alexa Gao wrote:

    Love your skirt! I tried in store several times, and found J.Crew mini skirts did not fit me at all around the waist. Where did you send for alteration? I am in Boston too. Thanks.

    Posted 4.20.13 Reply
  22. Joy wrote:

    I'm glad you are well and blogging throughout the mess. The silver lining to these crazy things is that it reminds us to appreciate our loved ones and spend time with them as often as we can.
    In regards to your post, I like that your sweater jacket has a moto vibe to it.
    Also, I know that small sizes tend to sell out first. So if it's something I know I will wear for that current season, and the price is not too much, I will purchase before a sale. But for the most part, I am a stubborn girl who will wait it out. Most of the time, it ends up being sold out completely and I miss out. Oh well.


    Posted 4.20.13 Reply
  23. Ann wrote:

    Love this outfit!
    Glad you're safe and thankful this whole ordeal is over!
    I want that skirt!

    Posted 4.20.13 Reply
  24. Eileen63 wrote:

    Darling Jean! You are so pretty and I love the classic look of this outfit. I was happy to see your post in the wake of the tragedy that struck your beloved city. You're the only one I "know" in Boston and I wept for you and everyone impacted. Finding your blog has been a gift and I admire the commenters equally well for such supportiveness. Keep on blogging. We are a resilient race. Good will prevail and fashion will always rule!

    Posted 4.20.13 Reply
  25. Anonymous wrote:

    Hi Jean, love this look. Hope you're staying safe! Where did you get your earrings? So cute!

    Posted 4.20.13 Reply
  26. Annie wrote:

    I'm glad you're safe! I love the outfit, and I'd love to know, how did you go about tying your scarf?

    Posted 4.20.13 Reply
  27. i know it may seem trite to be writing/posting about fashion and such, but you're right about needing a respite. this is a wonderful outfit – i've been wearing a lot of white/white or similar colour/colour lately at work too. just a very easy way to make any outfit imminently more chic.

    xox P

    Posted 4.20.13 Reply
  28. Steffi wrote:

    I first learned about the tragedy from someone's comment on IG, as I do check my IG timeline second thing in the morning, and immediately thought about you. I'm glad that you're well and I hope Boston is coping.

    I guess I say this at every post but I adore your outfit. I'm close to getting a pair of tan leather pumps, but with chunkier heels. As to your question, I never like buying full price when I know that it would be on sale. Exceptions when I loved the items and was scared they would sell out. Funny enough, they never did sell out so I just had to swallow my early bird's remorse.

    Posted 4.20.13 Reply
  29. First, glad you are safe. Second, I love this outfit – the cream and mustard together look beautiful! Third, as for your question, I've stopped paying so much attention to whether something is on sale. When something is "on sale!" I feel like it's easier to make impulse buys because you convince yourself you're getting a bargain. Whatever the price is, whether it's full price or clearance, I try to just decide whether I think it's a reasonable price for the item considering the quality, how much I love it, and how much I will wear it.

    Posted 4.20.13 Reply
  30. Mary-Irene wrote:

    All of my family are in Chelmsford, MA and I've been worried sick about everyone too. This is a great post because it speaks to the importance of purchasing classic and timeless items that will be wardrobe staples for years to come. While you may pay more for these few awesome and beautiful items, it seems worth it when you get such longevity from them. If I know for a fact that an item is a winner, or something that I've been seeking for a long time, I will pay more for it and buy it early on. I will usually wait for a promotion and free shipping, but probably don't wait long enough for the price cutting action. I'm always afraid of "final sale" and not being able to return.

    Posted 4.20.13 Reply
  31. Good to hear that you're staying safe. I love how you tied your scarf in the second photo–is it a pretzel knot variation? How did you accomplish it exactly?

    Posted 4.20.13 Reply
  32. Miss M wrote:

    Even lockdown seems to be a scary world to live in, hope you are doing ok and things feel alright again soon!

    Posted 4.20.13 Reply
  33. To me all items are worth buying early, provided I'm madly in love with them. This is the only reason that convinces me to buy something retail (I thrift a lot).
    Basics are worth the wait and some can even only be found on sale

    Posted 4.20.13 Reply
  34. So glad that you are well & that the city can start moving forward (The Pats & Red Sox are team faves) ;). I really love this outfit – so chic for spring. I've been doing a lot better about impulse/sale goggle buys, and I'm evolving more into getting items I really like, as long as its reasonable. I'll try to hold out for at least first cuts or a promo code though bc really, there's nothing I truly need at full price.

    Posted 4.20.13 Reply
  35. Marley wrote:

    I wish I was back at home with my family in Boston <3. Today was so exhausting, I was glued to my tv and it felt like a 12 hour action movie. I can not believe you went to work today. I am glad that you and your loved ones are okay. I am so grateful and thankful to the heroes who help make our community safer.

    Posted 4.20.13 Reply
  36. Julie_San wrote:

    It's good to hear from you. When I heard about Boston on Monday one of my many thoughts was you and even though we don't know each other I am glad you are safe and that it seems like things are over now or at least I hope they are. I like the skirt. When it comes to buying things when they first hit the rack I tend to go with my gut feeling which is can I live without it or do I really want it. If the fit is perfect then I will spend the money. So many times do I wait for a sale that when it does happen my size is no longer available. It's hard to say because I love a good sale as well.

    Posted 4.19.13 Reply
  37. Olivia J wrote:

    Great to have you back! Glad you're safe. I also have similar buyer's regret…typically after the 30 day deadline. Lately I've been hemming old pieces that I never wear to get more "wearable" outfits. The waistband is always a problem for me too.

    Corporate Catwalk

    Posted 4.19.13 Reply
  38. Franziska wrote:

    I really liked this "looking back" idea! It's interesting to see what ends up working for you and what doesn't. I think since all pieces except your impulse buy were truly classic and timeless pieces that you will get many years of wear of them. Staying away from the "just because it's on sale" is something that is definitely something I've tried to do over the past year. I still fail occasionally but that's better than all the time 😉

    P.S. I'm glad that Boston can now go on the mend. I can't even imagine the terror your city must feel 🙁

    Posted 4.19.13 Reply
  39. Beautiful outfit, and I'm quite impressed with what you did with this blouse in the shoulders. Clever idea!!

    Glad to hear you are staying safe, and so happy about the resolution to this madness. Not frivolous to post about fashion. Everyone needs respite from the stresses of life, especially when things have been as surreal as they have this past week.

    Take care,


    Posted 4.19.13 Reply
  40. Tara wrote:

    I agree with so many of these comments: it's wonderful to see this in the wake of recent events, most especially because it helps us all to remember the incredible community and sense of support on here! I have grown to respect so many of the frequent commentators on this blog and it's comforting to see everyone coming back together after such a tragic week.
    To answer your question, I have a similar method to the one you stated. I shop throughout the season but try to hold off on "big" purchases until the end of the season…or even the end of the following season, if possible. I have followed certain beloved pieces to outlet stores just to catch them at a more affordable price! I also try to keep track of any special opportunities: store closing sales, sample sales, etc. to get the best price.

    Posted 4.19.13 Reply
  41. Rachelle wrote:

    Love this neutral outfit, you look so polished. For me I always get that gut feeling, some items I just know they will never go on sale because they will probably be sold out. So that's usually how I decide, the item have to be unique and very special for me to get it full price. For example, a Chanel purse I would just get it while I might try to get an Isabel Marant dress on a sale. Not that I can afford any of these designers lol.


    Posted 4.19.13 Reply
  42. Suzie Q wrote:

    I absolutely adore the ivory neutral outfit. The blouse does look like great quality, definitely a good thrift find =) For me, items that I feel are more classic and that can be worn for years to come, I'm okay with spending higher prices on. For trendy items that I can live without but hard to pass up with a good sales price is when I purchase those. I'm glad you and your loved ones are okay in Boston.

    Suzie Q

    Posted 4.19.13 Reply
  43. Petite-ish wrote:

    I'm glad to see this post, too. It's been a hectic and very strange week, at work and otherwise, and it's nice to see a return to normalcy. Plus it's a great post, love the retrospective perspective on your purchases. I've been trying not too go too crazy at the end of season sales but it's been really hard this year!

    Posted 4.19.13 Reply
  44. sal ♥ wrote:

    i think this may be my favorite outfit that i've seen on your blog 🙂 stay strong boston!

    Posted 4.19.13 Reply
  45. ann wood wrote:

    Just joined your site, your style is lovely and your photos are charming. I agree older silk blouse have the best fabric.

    blue hue wonderland

    Posted 4.19.13 Reply
  46. Claud wrote:

    Hi Jean,

    Glad to see a post from you.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and everyone in the city of Boston.

    Please stay safe. Many Blessings.

    Posted 4.19.13 Reply
  47. Laura wrote:

    Happy to know that you, your friends, and family are safe, Jean!

    This outfit is beautiful and classic. I personally love the ruched details you added at the shoulders.

    xo Laura

    Posted 4.19.13 Reply
  48. Ana wrote:

    I've been thinking of you and I'm glad you, Nick and your friends are finding ways to distract yourselves amidst the chaos around you. I love this color palette. You look so pretty.

    Posted 4.19.13 Reply
  49. Good to know that you & your loved ones are staying safe. I really like your pearl bracelet. May I ask where that's from? 🙂

    As to answering your question, I shop throughout the year, but really only purchase during sale season. Main criteria that determines what I'm willing to pay a "higher price" for during first cut is usually the quality of the fabric, the workmanship, and how well the item fits into my current wardrobe.

    Posted 4.19.13 Reply
  50. Yulia wrote:

    So pretty! Love the pop of mustard and the matching bag+shoes.

    Hope you're staying safe, Jean


    Posted 4.19.13 Reply

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