Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Lily and Violet, How Do You Run?

I had never heard of Lily and Violet until I saw an ad on Corporette and my eyes widened when I saw their sale section.

Queen of Hearts Dress - $18.60 from $62. Maybe a little cheesy if you're over 20, but I have a soft spot for hearts & waist-nipping illusions.

Tickled Pink Dress - $19.50 from $65. So sweet. I sort of wish that mesh thing wasn't there, but maybe it could be removed by a tailor?

My favorite, of course, isn't on sale. Sigh.

Unfortunately, I decided not to pull the trigger, because most dresses only come in S, M, and L, and there is no sizing chart. Why, oh, why? Yes, those things are so inconsistent they're a total joke, but it still gives one the illusion of control. I tried googling around to see if anyone else had comments on how Lily & Violet sizing runs, but in the end couldn't be bothered. Sigh.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Double Take: Lace Sheath with Cap Sleeves

I present to you...the Nanette Lepore "Around the World" lace sheath, which I lusted over a few months ago and sadly made myself get over, because it was $348.

This is a lace sheath by Banana Republic, modeled so stunningly by ExtraPetite.

They're similar enough that if, say, a woman wore the BR and another wore the NL to the same holiday party, they'd get double takes. But the BR one is less than half the price.

I still prefer the NL one, because I love the midnight blue, the trimmer skirt, and the waist-cinching belt (though that, at least, is an easy thing to add). And the NL's lace just looks prettier, a grade or two finer, at least to my untrained eye...but it's hard to argue with "half the price". Especially given the 30% promos that BR rolls around on a not-too-infrequent basis.

A little Anthropologie

 I have a weakness for floral summer dresses. A recent wardrobe inventory showed such an embarrassingly disproportionate ratio of flowery summer dresses to non-flowery summer dresses that I can't even 'fess up what it is...especially given that I don't live in California or Hawai'i or anywhere they can come out for more than 3 months a year.

That being said, I would probably not have been too tempted by this particular floral summer dress, because although I love me some retro, this seems to cross the line into Stepford. Something about the muted tones and the pastel blue buttons.

1) It looks so lovely on Happily Ever Anthro. So much prettier than on the mannequin.
2) It's deeply discounted - $39.95 from $158.
3) There's only one size left. 0P. YES. For once, the smallest sizes did not sell out first. This so rarely happens to me that I want to buy it, just to commemorate this momentous occurrence.

None of these are good reasons to buy yet more coals for Newcastle, so I finally left the website without checking out. Apart from anything else, I'm getting really tired of finding layers for sleeveless dresses (and don't get me started on the odd cutouts and "creatively" shaped armholes and other so-called designer details that complicate the bra thing). Maybe I'll make a resolution to only buy dresses with sleeves, and dressing for work will become that much easier.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Triple Take: Brown Tote Bag

One retails for $85 (though it's faux leather), another for $288, and the third for $348. Aesthetically, though, they seem to have more similarities than differences, no?

You can't see that well on the last one (which is the Edie Attache by J. Crew), but it, too, has small chains attaching the shoulder strap to the bag. I own it in that pecan color and like it a lot, but it's not as versatile as I thought it would be--it's narrower than it looks & holds less than you might expect. The leather collects scratches, scuffs, and wrinkles like you wouldn't BELIEVE. And though I love how structured it is, it's practically a battering ram. When people run into the bag (which happens fairly often on crowded NYC sidewalks, especially since people would rather look at their phone screens than where they are going), they carom off like they've hit a wall.

Note: That last one is a pro or a con, depending on how misanthropic I'm feeling that day.

But it's hard not to love the clean, simple lines -- they're really lovely in person.

Here's a luxe version of the J.Crew one, in durable saffiano leather.

Monday, October 8, 2012

I vowed I'd never do this.

This is a KIDDIE skirt.

But it totally could fool me. I love swingy flared skirts, and this one is probably short enough to balance out all that volume that naysayers say overwhelm petite girls. I admit I'm not a huge fan of the color, but then again, how many neutral skirts does one woman need? (Whatever that number is, I've way exceeded it. I have a horrifying eleven gray skirts. As in, eleven skirts that are gray. Really should edit that down sometime.)

The link is http://www.jcrew.com/browse/single_product_detail.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524441825997&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=2534374302037331&nav_type=SALESITE&bmUID=jEK.phm and currently $51 on their 25% off promo (and free ship!). At the moment, all sizes are available. I may stalk it for a while to see if it goes on deeper discount (and try to imagine myself wearing it with anything besides white/cream).

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Random Ann Taylor thoughts

Update: If you are a size 6, 8, or 10, the Ann Taylor near Rockefeller Center had an entire row of navy blazers on sale for $39. I've seen H&M blazers priced higher than that! First world problem - the small sizes so often sell out first and rarely make it to that kind of price cut.

I was at Ann Taylor today and noticed some aqua lagoon tweed skirts (as seen on Extra Petite) on the sale rack. They were marked at $19.88.

On the one hand, YAY SALE! That's a huge markdown, given that I think it originally retailed for $198.
On the other hand, I couldn't help but feel suspicious. I don't know much about the inner workings of the retail industry, but I doubt that Ann Taylor would sell things at a loss.
So either something was so unappealing about the skirts that they HAD to take a loss just to get rid of them, or the skirts really are worth less than twenty bucks and were just marked up outrageously.


I loved the colors, so I probably still would have bought one, but they didn't have my size. (Besides, I have no idea what I'd wear it with, besides white/cream/beige. Fashion uncreativity saves the budgeting day!) But from now on, I'm giving all the price-tags at Ann Taylor some major side-eye.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Banana Republic T-shirt dress review

XXSP, XSP, and XS. For some reason, only the XS came with a hanger.
Last week, to treat myself after a little victory at work, I ordered this casual navy-striped summer dress at Banana Republic online (also comes in pink). Though there are about half a dozen BR stores in NYC, I bought it online as in-store petite sizes disappear fast. The one time I found a petite dress in my size at BR, it was a return. BR was also having one of its 40% off sales, plus I had a reward certificate I was itching to use, so I ordered the dress in XXSP, XSP, and XS (non-petite).

Sadly, I do not have a good eye for fit/proportion, because I can't decide which one to keep.In fact, I can barely tell the differences between the three.

XXSP - length 34', when measured lying flat, measurements are 14, 13.5, 17. (bust/waist/hip)
  • I think the hips and bust are much too tight for a dress that wants to be slouchy/casually fitting. (Especially glaring is the side view, which skews very much S-shaped.) On the other hand, the waist fits the best out of the three. This waist vs. hip conundrum is something I've come to expect in most dresses. With some dresses, I size up to accommodate my--ahem, generous hips--and get the waist taken in, but a casual dress like this isn't really worth altering.
XSP - length 34', when measured lying flat, measurements are 14.5, 14, 17.25.
  • Since the XXSP is too tight in some areas and the XS is too loose, this should logically be the one I like the best. And yet, I don't know. In person, it just doesn't seem to do anything for me.
XS - length 36', when measured lying flat, measurements are 14.75, 14, 17.5
  • For some reason, in pictures, I like this one the best...but in real life, I like it the least, mostly because the waist bags a lot when I walk. Also, from the side, it looks like I'm wearing a nightgown because it's so shapeless. (Note: the picture makes it look a little shorter than it really is because it pulled up at the waist.)
Basically, I'm not really in love with how any of the three look on me, so it's possible I may end up anticlimactically returning them all. Probably horizontal stripes aren't the best thing for a short, wide-hipped girl anyway, as much as I hate to admit it. Will sleep on it and try them on again.

Incidentally, why is this adorable pique dress $110 online? I could have sworn that the full-price tag read ~$70 when I crooned lovingly over it in stores and the only reason it didn't come home with me was because they didn't have my size. BR is technically running another 25%-off sale, so the price difference wouldn't be that big, and most petite sizes are stocked, but it's the PRINCIPLE OF THE THING.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Shoe sizing

Shoe sizing seems to getting almost as subjective as clothes sizing. This is actually quite fortunate for me because it keeps my online shoe shopping in check. I have big feet for my height (generally wear a 6 or 6.5) and they're sort of Donald-Duckish (narrow heels, wide toes), so they're hard to fit and flatter. This, plus never knowing whether I should size up or down, means I almost never buy shoes without trying them on first. And even if I have often fallen madly in love with pictures in blogs or in magazines, it's pretty rare that I ever end up finding them in real life to try on. And so my shopping remains controllable!

I think I am a "true" 6.5 that occasionally needs to size down, but obviously I know that the universe has no center, and therefore I cannot be it, and therefore I cannot set the international standard kilogram of feet.  So tracking these observations probably will be of no use to anyone but myself...but I'm a bit of a geek. This is mostly based on a couple of years of trying on many, many pairs of shoes and bringing a small fraction home. I'm kind of wondering if I could be more methodical about it and generate a graph and control for factors like pricing, the "maturity of the brand", etc.

Brands in which I wear a 6:
Anne Klein
BCBG Max Azria
Cynthia Rowley
Dr. Scholl's (Withhold judgment! They now make not-unattractive flats.)
Kenneth Cole Reaction
Liz Claiborne
Jones New York
Martinez Valero
Miz Mooz
Steve Madden

Brands in which I wear a 6.5 (true size??):
Carlos Santana
Christin Michaels
Mook/Impact (this Korean brand I love)
Nine West

Brands in which I wear a 7:
Banana Republic
Italian Shoemakers

*Brands that seem to have more variation (6s and 6.5s both fit, depending on the shoe)
Franco Sarto
Lauren Ralph Lauren

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The odd things that curb my spending, part II

Weird interactions. :)

Today, a friend and I were browsing in the Herve Leger section of a department store, which I won't name, because the service there is generally nice. Besides, it really wasn't awful or anything, it was just...weird. So I just want to write it out so I can forget it.

My friend insisted that the Niyaz dress looked best on me, but I couldn't see it myself. Eventually, she went to go catch a train and I wandered around the store alone. I found the Rae dress, and thought I might like it better, so I took the XS and the S to try on before looking for the Makayla (have a thing for flared skirts, even though that's kind of not the point of bandage dresses). Before I could locate it, a saleslady (L.) found me, took the Raes, and sped-walked me into the dressing room. I'm stupidly passive, so I just followed her and figured I'd get the Makayla later.

Anyway, the Rae in S looked fine, but I still wanted to see the Makayla, and maybe give Niyaz another try--after all, if N. thought that one looked great, who was I to argue? I'm the one who misinterpreted her own body type for years. So I took both Raes out of the fitting room, and realized that the other Raes were, conveniently enough, lined up on a rack pretty close by. So it was easy to return them to the right place. As I meandered around some more, wondering why I suddenly couldn't find the Niyaz again, I ran into L.

L.: "What happened?"
Me: (thinking: she means, did the clothes work out?) "Oh, the dress was nice--I'm just a little pearish for it."
L.: (visibly upset) "No, what did you DO with them?"
Me: "I put them on the rack with the others. It was the right one." (thinking: huh? why so angry? does she think I shoved them in my bag?)
L.: "Umm, don't you know those are Herve Leger? They're the most expensive dresses on this floor."
Me: (seriously confused now) "I...put them on the rack. It was the right rack."
L.: (still looks upset and now walks away without another word)

What'd I do wrong? Maybe she was mad that I put them back myself? But that fitting room didn't have that usual "general" rack for stuff that doesn't work out. Which was why I carried them out in the first place, to see if it was just hiding outside the fitting room, which is when I saw that the Raes were a few steps away anyway. But then where does the "most expensive" dresses bit come in? It almost sounds like she was implying that a lowly plebe like me shouldn't have been trying on such expensive dresses...? But that could be projection.

Anyway, as weird interactions go, it's pretty tame, but I'm still, well, weirded out. So that's what curbed my spending tonight. A sort of, "I like these dresses, someday I do want to buy one of these dresses, but now I really wouldn't want to buy one from you." I'd almost prefer it if she had been out-and-out mean or something, because this brand of confusing-but-somehow-vaguely-insulting weird nags at me more because I can't put my finger on it.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Double Take

When I saw the above floral dress on sale at Modcloth, I thought it was this dress:

Don't know what I was thinking. Blair Waldorf, shop at Modcloth? :)

Friday, May 18, 2012


I was poking around in K&G today, came across this pair of printed sandals, and inexplicably, I wanted all marked-down-to-$19-of-them. I think this example highlights my main shopping problem: overpowering impulse. Logically, I knew that these were no bargain, even at $19. The pattern is a bit tacky (I have one friend in particular who would stick up her tasteful nose at these and pronounce them "Miami"...whatever that means, it's more the tone in which she says it), this particular style of sandal is one of the least flattering on my Donald Duck-shaped feet, and they were ever so slightly wobbly...oh, and I couldn't think of one dress I owned that would go with this.

Honestly, this could have more to say about my lack of fashion creativity than about the versatility of these shoes, but I couldn't think of many outfits I would comfortably* pair these with:
  1. Jeans + a solid top. And I wear nothing but skirts and dresses in the spring & summer, so that's out.
  2. A pretty white dress. Which I don't own. (Plus, I am at the life stage when nine of every ten fancy-sandal-shod events I attend are weddings, so that would be a problem. Incidentally, I never dare wear anything lighter than chartreuse to weddings. Someone I know once showed me her wedding pictures and I commented admiringly on the fact that her bridesmaids were wearing white, what a fresh and unexpected idea!--this was pre-Pippa-Middleton--and the bride gnashed her teeth because I was only the twentieth person who had remarked on that and ACTUALLY, the dresses had been pink, but just read as white in most of the photos. This plus some reviews on a gorgeous Modcloth dress, complaining that it was all beauty and joy in daylight, but in photographs read as lingerie because of the way the lining reflected the flash? Has now made me paranoid about how heretofore benign-seeming clothes look in photographs.) <--So bothersome when my parenthetical asides dwarf the original thought.
  3. Maybe a simple beige or gray dress, in something silky/drapy? But would that be too boring with shoes this flowery?
  4. ...I'm out. Seriously. At a loss.
Anyway, I finally put them back. Developing self-control, one pair of shoes at a time.

*Admittedly, my clothing comfort zone is a narrow one.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Malang vs. Malang

Spring '12 yellow Malang Jacket with satin lining
 I joined what seemed like half the world in running, not walking, to Uniqueen to purchase the Malang after seeing it on Extra Petite last November. I was also one of the mistaken/lazy readers who somehow missed that only the quilted Malang was available at that time, and was not a little disappointed when I opened the package. You wouldn't think that a quilted vs. satin lining would make such a difference, but it just goes to show how millimeters can mean in clothing. The quilted one has noticeably thicker shoulder pads and is quite boxy in cut.

That being said, I grew to love the pink quilted Malang. It's not the most flattering blazer I own, but it's pretty, distinctive, warm, and looks great with grey or brown. I plan to wear it as a spring jacket on brisker days. Still, I yearned for the lighter version, and when Uniqueen brought back the satin-lined Malangs this spring, I bought one in yellow.

There were some actually noticeable differences between the two versions, even aside from the color & weight. I'm not sure if this is an issue of product consistency or just redesigns for a new season.

Yellow Spring '12 Malang (satin lining) vs. Pink Fall '11 Malang (quilted lining)
Can you spot the differences?
First, what I love about both Malangs: 
-The hints of sparkle in the fabric! So fun.
-Small but functional pockets! What's not to adore?
-This eye-catching tweed is an easy way to add some flair to a workday outfit.
-Pretty pastel colors. One can get tired of having only neutral blazers.
-They are serious compliment magnets. Have never worn them without getting one.
-The Malang is now available as a full skirt suit! That would likely be too Easter egg on me, but I can see it being so pretty on someone taller and/or slimmer.

What I don't love: 
-Both Malangs came with ostentatiously fringed sleeves. I ended up snipping off the fringes.
-Sometimes the overall "shagginess" gets on my nerves. Tempted to trim it, but am too chicken.
-The size Small fits me in the shoulders (maybe a breath too tight if I'm wearing a sweater), but is cut very wide in the waist. So from the side, I look not unlike a pyramid. (Not the end of the world, I just wear them with pants or fitted skirts.)
-A minor annoyance: The linings on both are a little sloppily done and bunch in the sleeves. But no one can see it, so I guess it isn't a big problem.
-The highlighter-yellow lining on the yellow Malang is a little much.

The differences between the two Malangs:
Close-up of both. Pretty striking contrast, huh?
 -Yellow Satin Malang has a broader pattern. Pink Quilted Malang has a narrower one. This isn't necessarily a bad point as I think both patterns are pretty and aligned well across the pockets. It's just worth noting.

-Yellow Satin Malang has a touch more gold/sparkle than the Pink Quilted.

Subtle difference, but it's there.

-Yellow Satin Malang has thinner, longer fringe. Pink Quilted Malang has thicker, shorter fringe.

-On that note, Yellow Satin Malang had messier fringe. I'm guessing there was a spring rush. Even if I didn't mind the sleeve fringes, I would have had to remove them on the yellow regardless--they were REALLY uneven and crookedly sewn on.

Yellow Satin Malang on top. Sleeves significantly shorter.
-Yellow Satin Malang is a fraction of an inch shorter overall, but has dramatically shorter sleeves. This could be intentional as the quilted one seems to be intended for colder weather.

Much wider sleeve on the Yellow Satin.

-Yellow Satin Malang has much, much, MUCH wider sleeves, especially if you keep in mind that the Quilted Lining leaves much less room inside. The Pink Quilted Malang sleeves are snug on me; Yellow Satin are quite loose.

But in the end, I like both. It is a little excessive of me to keep two blazers that, despite everything, have many more similarities than differences. But I can't quite bring myself to part with either. I'm telling myself one is for cooler weather and the other is for warmer weather. So I can enjoy pastel sparkly tweed all year round. Or something. (This self-justification, it can be dangerous...)

Monday, February 27, 2012

The odd things that curb my spending.

I decided that this year, I would spend no more than $100/month on clothing. (And by clothing, I mean just clothing...after some agonizing, I decided that dry-cleaning & alterations would go under a separate "services" category. The way I figure is, I don't get manis/pedis, or even my hair cut or "done", whatever that is, on a regular basis, so I should easily be able to afford a few hem jobs and such.) I can roll over unspent amounts from month to month and spend in advance, if necessary, because I only have so much willpower as it is, and I need a significant chunk of it just to keep from eating fried dinners five nights a week.

Anyway, I was doing quite well with this (perhaps will itemize later) until I followed a friend into DSW and saw this pretty pair of patent red leather pumps gleam at me invitingly. I mean, I've been daydreaming about red pumps for months. And these were PRETTY little things. The red was right (the kind of red that's shadowed with black), the rounded toes were right, the gloss level was right, the all-leather upper and same-color heel and low vamp were right. The heels were maybe a smidgen high for my taste, but that's hardly a deal-breaker. Here they are, in all their gleaming glory:

See at DSW: http://www.dsw.com/shoe/js+by+jessica+oscar+patent+leather+pump+?prodId=dsw11prod420023&productRef=SEARCH

But then I saw that they were Jessica Simpsons. Now, I admit that I have admired a Jessica Simpson piece or two (see a confection of a gold and pink lace dress here) in the past, but this deep prejudice against celebrity vanity lines persists.

Curbed By: My Unfair Distrust of Celebrity Vanity Lines. 

That alone wouldn't have stopped me, necessarily, but fortunately, I had a $10 DSW rewards certificate that I'd left at home. I certainly wasn't going to buy anything WITHOUT that coupon. So I left the heels where they stood and followed Marie out of the store.

Curbed By: My Neurotic Fixation With Coupons

The next day, my ardor cooled somewhat, I checked DSW.com to look for reviews. Now, I was prepared to read that they gave you blisters, or that the break-in period was excruciating, or that they were unwearable for more than thirty minutes at a time. I was not prepared to hear that they tended to rip near the toe because the construction was so shoddy, AND that something in the dye made them smell like, and I quote, dog poop. Seriously.
And then I look on Google and it seems that "Jessica Simpson shoes smell" is a documented thing because Google helpfully suggests the end of that search string before I'm even finished typing it.

Curbed By: Who Can Blame Me?!?!?!

Ok, so the thick heel on these Anne Kleins is not as sexy. But the color is vibrant and they're wear-to-workable, and I've had awesome luck with Anne Klein, even if they do run a bit huge.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Reconsidering body shape

This, by far, is the best series of articles on body shape I have ever come across. Using photographs of real people (as opposed to those stupid stylized graphics in magazine articles) as examples is FANTASTIC. Where has this been all my life?

Though I've always thought of myself as a pear, after obsessively studying these photos and measuring and re-measuring, I've realized that I am actually an X. A relatively wide X, given my height, which is probably why I've always seen "pear" in the mirror. (My measurements are 33-25-35, which are inches wider than most women of my height.)

It doesn't change a whole lot--my primary goals will still be de-emphasizing hips, defining the waist, trying to make my short legs look longer. But I'll be taking another look at pencil skirts, straight-leg pants, and other things I've always stayed away from.

On blazers, a bloviation

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a petite woman in possession of wide hips, must be in want of sartorial camouflage. And the easiest way, especially on a work day, is to toss on a blazer. So I've been on a bit of a blazer hunt lately.

I don't mind having blazers without matching separates*, because I like the slightly-different-but-not-too-much-so look, like a pinstriped black blazer over a grey skirt. (Yes, I do remember Babbitt complaining that wearing mismatched separates makes one look like a busted bookkeeper, or something, but his is not a mind that I particularly admire, anyway.) And pairing my grey striped blazer with a flame-orange circle skirt is one of my go-to favorites. (You may have noticed that my blazers and their accompaniments are not the most formal, but in my business casual workplace, I can get away with it.)

*My friend also points out that if you are in the habit of wearing matching suiting separates, well, separately, there is a risk that they will become ever-so-slightly mismatched. With some of her pantsuits, for example, the pants get so much more wear (and, by extension, dry-cleaning) than the jackets do. So they look a little more worn (e.g., faded color). It's probably not noticeable to most people, but still.

The most flattering blazers on me are:

Cropped blazers

It could be that cropped blazers on me hit where normal blazers would hit on normal women. (Zen koan, or a tongue-twister: Is a cropped blazer cropped when it's not that cropped on you?) Blazers this length somehow give the optical illusion of length to my woefully short legs & balance out my hips.

Swing blazers/jackets:
Banana Republic swing blazer; sadly out-of-season.
I usually wear these open, because the style doesn't play nice with my bust. And then add hips into the equation, and I get a silhouette that looks wide from head to toe. (Think: dirigible.) But left open, they're fine! Casual professionalism, if not quite casual elegance.

Single-button blazers:

The "X" shape is famously flattering, per ExtraPetite and AlterationsNeeded. With high-waisted me, it's a struggle to find blazers where the X does hit at my actual waist, even in the petite section. I suppose it's just as well for my finances.

Blazers with ruchable/scrunchable sleeves:

I'm lazy and can be stingy, so shelling out for sleeve alterations is anathema. Thank you, fashion industry, for bringing me blazers with sleeves that are MEANT to be scrunched up!

Tweed/jacquard/lace blazers:

It's probably a bit much for me to wear something like this from head-to-toe, but visually interesting tops are my best friend. The look can skew a bit evening-y, but if the rest of the outfit is low-key, I think they can work in the daytime.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Accessorizing/Styling Challenges (Part 2)

I have a weakness for pretty necklaces, and most of my necklaces are just that...pretty. I do envy women with a collection of statement jewelry* that they use to gorgeous effect. The other day, I met with a gorgeous young woman who dressed up a simple sheath dress with dangling earrings and a sparkly brooch of a slinking leopard on her shoulder. So chic!

With that in mind, for this month's challenge:

You have this simple black dress with a low sweetheart neckline. Do you add a necklace?

1) No - the best styling of this dress is unadorned beauty.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Prints charming: Cherries!

I heart cherry print. But I'm in good company!

I have this fun and vibrant cherry-print halter dress from Modcloth, though of course, a month later, I realized I could have gotten it for several dollars cheaper right at the source...the delightful Heartbreaker Fashion. If you have secret or not-so-secret inclinations towards curve-friendly 50's fashion, this is a great source for cute printed dresses. (I love that they have a selection of a relatively few classic shapes, like the super-flattering Beverly and Monique and the va-va-VOOM Vanessa, which you can buy in a range of fabrics & prints. Almost like you can have your dress custom-made!) They now have halter dresses in two other kinds of cherry print as well--this sensational black-and-cherry version (who is not curious about a print that's called Black Badabing Cherry?) and this Cerise version which is a little more toned-down than the red-and-pink one I sport in the summer.

Of course, not everyone likes what could be called a bright red and bright green fruit print with vaguely sexual connotations. (I prefer to think of it as vibrant and flirty/retro-sweet.) But there are so many ways to wear cherry print! Almost as versatile as florals.

The grey mutes the print nicely, and twofer dresses like this do miraculous things for my pearish figure. In fact, I'd venture to say that this super-slender model, as lovely as she is, doesn't really do it justice. As it is, it's just kind of THERE, just hanging out, and I probably wouldn't have even clicked on it had I not been searching for cherry prints, but can't you imagine it looking so much more, well, DAZZLING, on someone who can really fill it out and bring that dress to life?

I would have NEVER imagined that I would like anything sold by Juicy Couture, possibly because I was under the mistaken impression that they only sold heavily branded jewelry and sweatsuits. I had not realized that they were capable of producing anything as charming as this. Maybe the oversize cherries are a bit over the top, but somehow the coloring is so delicate that I think it might work. Plus, it's refreshing to see a dress with long-ish sleeves (3/4 is better than 0), and the ruching and waist panel are probably very subtly flattering. And that little buttoned keyhole is pretty much the only kind of back cut-out that I actually like.

As you may have guessed, I'm not the biggest fan of cut-outs, especially THERE, where it seems perfectly placed for your bra to play peek-a-boo (though, looking at the back, perhaps you're not supposed to wear a bra). But the not-so-literal cherry print is so do-able! Blue, faintly abstract cherries are so fresh and unexpected, and you don't have to worry about the risk of looking potentially TOO sweet/loud/over-the-top retro. And those stripes around the hem add just the right touch. If only the back was, more, well, existent. In theory, I think the partially-opened back is surprisingly cute and flirty on this dress (there's a button closure at the neck), but in reality, I like to wear bras. It must be said, though, the price is definitely not bad for Nanette Lepore.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Inexplicable desires: A dress that would look dreadful on me.

$44.50 at Delia's
The Very Good Reasons I Will Not Buy This Dress:
1) Self, have you SEEN it? It's pink + lace + pleats. When did you go back in time and re-turn eight?
2) Those narrow pleats, on me, are the LEAST FLATTERING pleats imaginable. They would hate my hips. My hips would hate them.
3) I already own a pink dress, and how many pink dresses does one woman need?
4) It's one of those nebulous dresses that I couldn't wear for any occasion. (Unless someone can helpfully think of one.) It's too lacy and glossy for casual wear, and just a little too twee for formal wear, and there's certainly no way I could wear this to work. Not unless we're having a Pajamas to Work Day and then maybe I can pass this off as lingerie.
5) Something about that shade of pink and that texture of fabric does suggest lingerie, doesn't it? Kind of?

Why, then, does it speak to me? I do not understand.

If that neckline were just a little higher, a little more curved, a little more elegant...I think it could be carried off. But if they'd finished this dress off with a lovely boatneck neckline, I'd be too tempted to buy the dress and figure out where/how I could wear it later.

This is one of the reasons why I started blogging, seriously. If I put pictures up and maunder on about them, somehow it removes the temptation to buy.
Update: When love is over, how little of love even the lover understands. Now I look at it, and I'm all, what was I THINKING?! I must have been sleep-deprived.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Do you try to get the look for less? A meditation, done in lace.

It used to be that when I saw something I loved, but the price-tag did not love me back, I would try to content myself with a "close enough" substitute. A good example is a stunning Montmartre rose-print bustier. Even on sale, it was $120, and for a fresh-out-of-college kid, that was out of the question. I poked around on Ebay for a while, which at the time was my main source for clothing bargains, put up a "Want It Now" ad and weeded through dozens of offers of black leather horrors, before giving up and ordering a pink striped/floral-print bustier on sale at Victoria's Secret.

It was gapingly big (and even after an alteration, sits a little awkwardly on me) and has plastic boning instead of the steel that the Montmartre had. It definitely has not the killer silhouette of the Montmartre original. My friend Emily commented that it looked like wallpaper. (In the catalogue, it even said something like, "You will add to the decor to any room". Srsly.) I still like it, but really, it's nothing compared to the original.

Now, I think I have the opposite problem. I fall in love with something, and then nothing else compares. For example, I give you this beauty:

It is the Nanette Lepore "Around the World" dress, and it comes in this lovely, lovely navy (called ink), and ivory, and campari, which looks like deep pink/coral. This dress is calling me, with its bateau neckline, the trimly defined waist, the beautiful textures and colors playing in glorious harmony. The eye-catching top is so pear-friendly, too!

Alas, it is currently going for $348. I could try to tell myself that I have been looking for a deeply colored, elegant, not-black dress for evening weddings, and this would fit the bill. But I could not convince even me that it should be done to the tune of $348.

Should I try to do what I did for the Martinez Valero slingbacks (make do with Payless, which, by the way, I've never yet worn outside)? There's this decent-looking version on Modcloth:

I have the feeling that if I'd seen this dress a week ago, I'd be in lust. But, of course, since I saw the NL, it can't compare. (But even putting the unfair comparisons aside, given that this one is just a little over a quarter of the price, that lace overlay looks like it would pouff out over my hips in the most unflattering way possible. Cheap lace overlays are unfriendly beasts.) However, the reviews are glowing, so I imagine it's gorgeous on non-pears.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dresses that work on this petite pear

Since high school, I have self-identified as a pear. (Petite, well, I've been on that end of the bell curve since elementary school.) My measurements are 33-25-35, but numbers don't tell the whole story.

OK, bear with some obsessive detailing for a while. There is a fantastic, though old post on figure types, quoting a highly knowledgeable commenter at the always delightful Dress a Day blog. According to this post, I'm TECHNICALLY not a pear, because my shoulders are the same width as my hips. But visually, I think I "read" as a pear, because my hips are very rounded and low (or it could be that my waist is high, or both, not sure). Also, though I'm not exactly small-busted (embarrassing anecdote from early twenties: on a second date, this charming gentleman gazed into my eyes and said, "You have a nice rack for an Asian girl." I had low self-esteem at the time, so I just mumbled and turned red, instead of walking out haughtily or spilling wine on his shirt), the volume there is more, well, 'forward' than 'sideways', if that makes any sense. Plus my thighs are where I carry most of my weight. (I could diet and slim those down, true. But the hipbones would remain. And I'd have to consume less french fries, and wine, and chocolate, and other life-enhancing things. Whoever said nothing tastes as good as skinny feels has CLEARLY never tried the fried-in-chili-oil fries at Little Pepper in Flushing, or the chocolate at Bouchon.) 

La BellaDonna does acknowledge that infinite variety exists around those four pillars of figure types:
"One of the confusing aspects is it is possible for four women to stand next to each other. Each has hips which are, say, 38 inches. Woman A has her weight distributed evenly; she isn't very hippy, she doesn't have a big booty. Woman B is quite narrow through the hips, but she has a nice round rear. Sometimes she has an amazingly round rear. Woman C has no backside at all; if it were any flatter, she couldn't sit down. But she has hips like Sophia Loren's, and they curve in a graceful parabola. Woman D is different still. Her backside's fairly small. However, she carries a lot of weight in her abdomen, which affects her upper hip measurement, and a lot of weight at the tops of her thighs.... But they all measure 38 inches at the hip...That doesn't begin to cover all the possibilities, either. It doesn't really address whether our ladies have high hips, average hips, or low hips (and this is something also determined by bone structure)."
The possibilities, they are endless. I guess I'm closest to Woman C, except I do have a backside, and you shouldn't take the graceful parabola part too literally.

It's one of the reasons I loved this quote from Already Pretty's post On Variety:
"If everyone had the exact same figure, it might diminish some of the body snarking. It might eradicate much of the world’s jealousy. It might help with the rampant plague of negative body image that has so many women suffering and anxious in the present day. But my guess is that if everyone had the exact same figure, we’d be busting our butts to force our figures to stand out, look different, be distinctive. We’d be falling all over ourselves to create the diversity that exists naturally today."
It reminded me of that interesting scenario from Fashion Advice Counterfactual on what dressing for your shape could really mean: "If you were pear-shaped, for example, the advice would be all about highlighting that awesome booty and tiny waist and shoulders. Work that pear-shape!"

That being said, when I get dressed, I try to look as hourglass-y as possible. So most of the dresses that I feel best in will play around that shape, defining the waist and skimming over the hips. Though I'm petite, I don't necessarily dress to look taller. (Because petite flattery tips and pear flattery tips often contradict each other, I usually pick Team Pear. I'll throw on some heels, sometimes, though, and call it a day.)

So, dresses that play nice with me:

Dresses with fitted bodices and flared skirts:
Most of my dresses are variations of this tried-and-true shape, usually with a belt or sash to waist-minimize as much as possible. The most flattering dresses on me hit above the knee, and have moderately flared skirts. For example, the A-line skirt on the red dress is more petite-friendly than the fuller one on the black (which, by the way, has a bizarrely Christmas-tree-shaped cutout on the back that possibly explains why it is on sale).

But I love circle skirts. So what if they do make me look shorter...they are joy sartorialized.

Ooh, these two dresses together remind me of The Red and the Black! Sorry, I guess that's a little blasphemous. Was at the Strand on Saturday and saw a gorgeous old leather-bound edition of it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Buyer's Remorse I Have Known, Or Solving My Shopping Problems

Buying something too soon, and then it goes on deeper sale, or better colors or other options become available.

I am very fond of these. Peep-toe booties are a style I've only recently come to appreciate, and when I fell, I fell hard. So though I already had two pairs, I succumbed to temptation and bought them off ideeli (invite link), telling myself that Carlos Santana shoes support a worthy cause through the Milagro Foundation.

Now, I don't regret the actual SHOES so much, because they really are surprisingly comfortable and fun-looking shoes. What I regret is buying them quickly off of ideeli after only a cursory search to see if they were available elsewhere. If I had waited, I could have gotten them elsewhere in a color that wasn't black, which would have at least added some more variety to my shoe collection, which is largely Black and somewhat Brown. (Seriously, almost all my shoes are black or brown. I have, like, one pair of beige pumps, and a couple of pairs of light sandals. That is why I don't proudly display a Wall of Shoes as Art, because it would be very dark and dull-looking. And also, I have not the space. But mainly because of the dark and the dull.)

They come in grey, which are a little robotic in vibe, though I bet the right woman could rock them:

But look how cool they are in penny/copper:

Right? Right?

Solution: I hate to say it, but possibly, unsubscribe from ideeli. Or, at least, ban myself from black shoes.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Style Confessional, or Why I Will Never Work in Fashion, + A Mystery For the Ages

Upon reading the latest Fashion Confessional at Already Pretty, I was moved to come clean with a few confessions of my own.

1) Maybe this isn't strictly style-related, but I don't know how to apply make-up. At all. I even mess up lipstick, which even small children can do on at least their second try. I've long since given up trying, so I wear nothing on my face but sunblock. 

Dress from Modcloth
2) I've totally bought so-so clothes because they had pretty prints. The funny thing is, my favorite clothes tend to be simple, well-made solids, but something in me is a sucker for a pretty print. Last year, I fell in love with a watercolor floral print at H&M, but the T-shirt dress that featured it made me look like a pregnant linebacker. I couldn't bear to leave the print behind, so I bought a skirt in the print, even though I needed another summer skirt like a hole in the head, and the gathered waist on this particular one does nothing for my hips. At least that mistake helped me break this habit.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Yeah, I don't know how to do this.


Now, if only I could learn how to use this tool so it doesn't look like a kindergartener's first experiments with copy & paste.
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