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.

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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.

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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. Oh the sweater is everything, but I cannot get enough white on white ever.

    Becoming Lola

    Posted 4.26.13 Reply
  2. Jess wrote:

    I absolutely adore your style! This outfit is brilliant! I need to learn to alter clothing.


    Posted 4.26.13 Reply
  3. An absolutely beautiful outfit. White and exquisite, simple and clean.

    Posted 4.25.13 Reply
  4. Hi Fauxionista – it's a vintage bracelet I found on Ebay. If you search pearl cabochon or pearl and gold bracelet, I've seen similar pop up every so often.

    Posted 4.24.13 Reply
  5. Hi there – I used the braid method from Wendy's scarf video

    Posted 4.24.13 Reply
  6. Hi Annie – I used the braided method from Wendy's awesome scarf video

    Posted 4.24.13 Reply
  7. Hi there – they were a vintage find on eBay. I searched for pearl gold stud earrings : )

    Posted 4.24.13 Reply
  8. Hi Alexa – I went to a tailor in chinatown on Knapp St. If you walk towards Pho Hoa and turn right onto Knapp St, you will see a tailor with a sewing machine in a window. He doesn't speak a word of English though! Only Chinese.

    Posted 4.24.13 Reply
  9. Hi Van – I find a lot of vintage ones on eBay. Look for ones that have links, which are easy to re-size by simply removing a link using tiny pliers.

    Posted 4.24.13 Reply
  10. Hi Rachel – I'm so glad to hear! That sounds complex (I've never worked with lace at home), so your sewing skills must be impressive.

    Posted 4.24.13 Reply
  11. Hi CHloe – I don't think so for this skirt due to the rectangular side stitching design and the contouring of the butt/hips shape. My tailor took it in along the back zipper, which I don't think would be possible for a size 10 because the side panels would end up on the bum.

    Posted 4.24.13 Reply
  12. I know the got rid of the leather soles to correspond with a slight decrease in price, and personally haven't tried the new ones for an extended period of time. I still think the shape of the toe and padding is more comfortable than most other pumps I've owned, though.

    Posted 4.24.13 Reply
  13. I did not alter the 00P – here is my full review

    Posted 4.24.13 Reply
  14. Hi there – unfortunately I can't find any sign inside the shoe about the official name of the color. They must be 10 or so years old. I do know there are several shades of beige out for these shoes so it may be helpful to check them out in a store that carries a full range to get the closest color name. Good luck!

    Posted 4.24.13 Reply
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    Posted 4.24.13 Reply
  16. Michelle wrote:

    And happy belated birthday! 🙂

    Posted 4.23.13 Reply
  17. Michelle wrote:

    Relieved to hear that you and your family or okay! Glad your work offered counseling.

    The neutrals are great together. I would love to add more blouses like that to my wardrobe for work, but they tend to be either too sheer (anything worn under must must be three inches wide…which would just look weird, I think) or too heavy (my classroom is so warm!)

    It is very rare that I buy a non-sale clothing item. But if I do, it must be love and I need to get lots of wear out of it.

    Posted 4.23.13 Reply
  18. love your blog! As a fellow petite chick at 5'1'', I appreciate the tips as I can never find clothes that fit right. I've added you to my blog roll ( Can't wait for your next posts!

    Posted 4.23.13 Reply
  19. Anonymous wrote:

    Jean: unrelated question. I bought a pair of "nude" ferragamo varas in but the color looks more like bone/ivory. Are the nude ferragamos wendy gave you a true nude? What are they officially called? Bisque? Thanks!

    Posted 4.23.13 Reply

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