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:

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 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.

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