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.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Modcloth, why must you tempt me?

Oh, wait, never mind. I just saw the back.

Modcloth, why must you ruin a perfectly lovely dress with...those...THINGS on the back?

The "Black Shoe" Breakdown

I would love it if someone, somewhere, did a frivolous study on the breakdown of the average woman's wardrobe and the things that are in it. Maybe filtered by age, occupation, location, etc. (But at the same time, not really, because it really would be the kind of study that gets announced and everyone puzzles why someone devoted research dollars to that instead of curing cancer or reversing blindness or getting that male birth control pill on the market. Still, I am kind of curious.) I've seen 17 as a general estimate of the number of pairs the average American woman has in her collection. (When I read that article, I was smirking to myself, all, haha, I'M certainly not like that, and then I actually counted, and, umm, I have almost twice that. Eep. Self-awareness, thou art a jewel.)

That said, everyone knows that old trope about how clueless men look into women's closets and ask why there are so many pairs of black shoes. For my own lifestyle, I've decided that it's actually optimal for me to have seven pairs of black shoes, and this is even with making some pairs do double duty. Plus, I am arrogant enough (I do have a blog, after all) to think that this might be an ok guideline for twenty-something professionals, though 'black' could probably be replaced with any kind of neutral.

Even a minimalist ( wants at least six pairs of black shoes around for different occasions! So I feel somewhat vindicated. I will just tell myself that the, err, million other black shoes I own are, for you know, back-up. So I can rotate them, and they will last longer. ahem.

Besides, it's recommended to switch heel heights every day, because flats and heels and wedges are all bad for your feet in different ways, so we should be switching up the tortures. Isn't civilization fun?

--Black Shoes I Need For My Lifestyle--

1) Professional black heels. These are my go-to work shoes--the Ralph Lauren Sachi pumps--and I confess that I actually have two pairs because I love them so. The patent version is going for $49.99 at 6pm, but I prefer the more low-key look of the pebbled leather. The 2.5-inch heel and rounded toe are comfortable and easy to wear, and the little buckle on the heel make the shoes look great coming and going! I like these Talbots heels as well, minus the pointy toes. I can't do pointy toes.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Accessorizing/Styling Challenges (Part 1 of Many)

Accessorizing is definitely not one of my strong points. I love pretty necklaces, but don't like the feeling of bracelets and rings on my hands, and don't have pierced ears, so jewelry is a pretty limited field for me. I like the look of chic silk scarves and vibrant pashminas on other people, but have never learned to wear them gracefully myself. Plus, I'm fairly lazy, so swapping out handbags happens maybe twice a year.

So, my own accessorizing being fairly non-existent, I often notice other people's. And this particular image of Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girls (which I only recently discovered, because I am up-to-date like that) has been branded in my brain:

I mean, ok, yes, many things make her look fabulous in that picture--her radiantly beautiful face, her wind-swept hair, her mile-long legs, that lovely cape-ish coat thing, whatever it may be called...but I have to give some credit to those fun, fun shoes! (Item: When I watched the episode on my sister's laptop, the shoes came across as chartreuse/lime green, and that looked equally amazing.)

(Except, I am not so sure about that bag. When I first saw it, I saw it as a one-eyed monster, and now I can't un-see it.)

So, in a quest to learn more about accessorizing and styling in general, I went full-on geek and decided to come up with a series of exercises. Hee. Here's the first of many!

1) What kind of shoes would you wear with a simple, classic black dress like this?

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