Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fitting Room Reviews: Ann Taylor Loft (Part I)

Well, I caved in and went to the mall this afternoon to try on some of the lovelies at Ann Taylor Loft. It reminded me how nice it is to see things in person first. I've been shopping at Loft for years, and I still get surprises every now and then with how things fit.


Anorak Cardigan ($79.50)
In Mulch Brown Melange, yummy......I actually liked this, even though it does make me look pretty boxy. This is the size small; it slipped right over my head. The crazy Loft lady brought me in a million things to try on with MY picks, after she basically scolded me for trying on things all willy nilly. Harumph. So there's a white blouse underneath, nothing special IMO, but I think it was the Rolled Sleeve Button Down Shirt. It was pretty sheer. Anyway, the cardigan material was very cozy, and I could totally see myself wearing this on a casual day (because EVERY day is casual day!). But it's soooo expensive.


Unknown Pullover---Sorry, guys, I'm not very good at this yet. When I was trying this one on, I THOUGHT it was the cowl neck pullover here, but that's not it at all. Which is actually good news coz I was really disappointed about the fit, so there's hope for the cowl neck pullover yet! This is another small. I just didn't know what to do with all the fabric around the neck here and the shoulders sat funny because the seam is supposed to(?) sit in FRONT of your shoulders for a slouchy fit. I think.... And there were about a million too many ties (one in the neck and one on the bottom middle). Whatever this thing is, don't worry about it!

Chambray Shirtdress (On Sale. $59.50)
I'm an idiot. I could NOT figure out these buttons at all (as you can tell by the horrendous photos above. But now that I take a closer look at the online photo, I *THINK* I buttoned these backwards. Doh. So it's not a product flaw: It's a human being flaw. Ignoring the buttons, I thought this was pretty cute. But Husband said he didn't like it because it looked too much like a worker's jumpsuit. Size 8. I mostly tried this on since the OTHER shirtdress I like is online only. I think the OTHER one has feminine details that would combat the manliness of this, don't you?

All right! That's all for now. I'll be back with Part 2 of my shopping trip later in the week. :)

The Swimmer (1968) with Burt Lancaster

Better late than never, right?

In my film class on Wednesday, we watched Burt Lancaster in The Swimmer. The film was released in 1968, during a time period that is generally considered a pretty damn big deal in cinema. (What with, The Graduate, Bonnie & Clyde, The Wild Bunch, etc., etc.)

Unfortunately, it didn't have quite the staying power as those films, because, uh, has anyone even heard of this film? I certainly haven't.

The film is based on a short story by John Cheever, also called "The Swimmer," also which I've never heard of. A suburban man has the invigorating idea to swim home, not through one continuous body of water, but by pool-hopping through his affluent neighbors' yards. He names the waterway "River Lucinda," in honor of his wife. And without giving away too much plot, Neddy Merrill's pool-hopping represents more than just a frivoulous pastime, more of a passage through time to self-awareness.

Sounds heady, hmm?

Several reviews I read complained about how a film could never capture Cheever's subtle detailing. In the short story, Neddy swims from house to house, meeting neighbor after neighbor, with very little dialogue to illuminate their relationships. He's constantly moving. And before you know it, you stand before Neddy's final destination. In this way, the story's flow is not unlike a rushing river, carrying you along tirelessly without a chance to stop and see what's really going on upon the shore.

In the story, time changes with little details like late-blooming flowers, and the changing reception given to Neddy by his friends along the way. However, being as how I have no allegiance to Cheever the author, I didn't find these subtleties to be completely lost in the film. But as Vincent Canby wrote in his New York Times review in 1968, the film is forced to literalize much of the short story's haunting surrealism, for better or worse.
Along this vein, the film added two characters (a former baby sitter and a lonely boy), which I think helped to tie Neddy to his youth. But I admit that the extended sequence with his former lover (only a brief encounter in the story) is pathetically elaborate.

Click here for the full New York Times review. (APPAREntly, Burt Lancaster was miscast because his physique was kickin', but his skin failed to have "youthful texture." Oh, and he wasn't vulnerable enough. Bah.)

It's all a shame, really, about the reception, because this is definitely my type of film. It's risky, and it's interpretative, and, yeah, that means sometimes it fails. But sometimes it's pretty cool. It's very stylized, with lots of extreme closeups of Burt's blue eyes (and old skin), and hazy dream-like sequences. It reminds me of some great Iranian cinema I've come across: not afraid to meander along the way to the film's conclusion.

If you're looking for something a little more experimental, watch this film.
If you've enjoyed Iranian films like The Runner, watch this film.
If you want to watch Burt Lancaster in swim trunks for 95 minutes, watch this film.



Photo Credit: from this film review

Saturday, February 27, 2010

What's in my Shopping Cart?: Ann Taylor Loft

Another installment of What's In My Shopping Cart....

This one's a kicker because there's a sale at Loft that ends tomorrow (Feb 28): one day before my shopping ban is lifted. Oof.

So I'm gonna have to dust off my debate-team hat to convince myself any of these items are necessary for my closet....

The code: SPRING25 for 25% off all full-price styles. Plus free shipping on orders $125+.


Gold Flower Necklace (Regular $49.50. With sale, about $37)
Let's start with the prettiest, shall we? I love the peaches and pinks that Loft has rolled out for spring, and this necklace looks strikingly similar to the
Lisa for Loft gold necklace I missed out on several months back. Wah. But it *ALSO* bears a striking resemblance to the From O'Keeffe necklace my sister just found for me. But that one has YELLOW flowers (OK, and maybe one peach...) But how many costume jewelry necklaces does a girl really need? Not another $40 worth. REMOVED.


Pintuck Shirtdress (Regular $79.50. With discount, about $60)
Onto another frivolity. A shirtdress this time. I've been wanting a casual shirtdress for quite some time. This one has pretty (they call it "vintage") detailing around the collar. And it's blue, for goodness sake. BUT, if I get this, then I'm basically taking myself out of the Anthro Reed shirtdress ($118) game. But hey, I can return this if it doesn't work, right? The Anthro shirtdress has a fuller skirt, and it's PLAID. But I think I like the straighter line of this dress (but it also may hang on me like a sack..) UNDECIDED.


Twill Ann Boot Cut Pants (Regular $79.50. With discount, about $60)
This, my dearies, is the reason for my entire purchase. I figure that I need to STOP living in denial (see item above) about what clothes I will reach for every day, and start BUYING MORE PANTS. I don't have any khakis. And I think my wardrobe will seem much more diverse if I have different colors/fabrics of pants than my tried-and-true jeans, jeans, and more jeans. COME TO MAMA.


Marisa Chino Pants with Coin Pocket (Regular $49.50. With discount, about $38)
OK, am I completely dumb that it took me 5 minutes to figure out what a coin pocket is? (I really need to get better about reading Loft's product details...) Anyhow, it's just a little baby pocket on the front of the pants. To hold your coins....er....what? Who carries coins anymore? Anyway, it's pretty ridiculous that I like the navy pants because I went to Catholic school for 9 years, and guess what I wore? That's right, navy pants. For. Nine. Years. ALSO probably explains why I have an under-developed sense of fashion. My boring formative years... But if I move past all these facts, then I get casual pants that will add some style to my lower half without too much effort. NAVY, COME TO MAMA. ICE BLUE, UNDECIDED.


Cornflower Wash Modern Boot Cut Jeans (Regular $59.50. With discount, about $45)
I don't own any jeans this lighter color, and I KNOW that Stacey and Clinton on What Not to Wear always said darker washes are better. And I KNOW that I bought a pair of light jeans from Victoria's Secret more than 10 years ago and they looked horrible. But...I like these! And again, still jeans, but different enough to give my wardrobe a little jumpstart. Worst case scenario, these jeans will look totally 1990s and make me look 10 years older than I am. But, again, what's the harm in trying? They're an online exclusive so I'd have to suck it up to know for sure. (Which reminds me; I hope I could return online exclusives in store....anyone know for sure?) UNDECIDED.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

UPDATE: Me=Famous, Pizza=Cheap, and Loft=My BFF Again

I'm BACK! With EVEN more good news. Let's get the most exciting part out of the way first....



Can you see me? I'm on the very first treadmill in the black zip-front tanktop. Pretty neat, huh?

Oh, and don't you love my mad Microsoft Paint skills? Or am I the only one who still uses Paint....?

Regardless, I made sure to cross out the important stuff because that's what preserves my alluring mystique, after all. :)

I'M FAMOUS, Y'ALL!!



OK. Now, on to the much less interesting photo. My CiCi's outfit. In case you ever wondered what someone wears to a restaurant when they are trying to get into a buffet for only $2. (And, oh yes, we did get in!)

This is my Martin & Osa rocococococo purple cardigan. (At some point, I lose track of how many co's are required so I prefer to just keep going until I lose interest.) Also my Fossil brown silver-buckle belt, and my Limited ruffle front taupe short-sleeve sweater. Old jeans. And, of course, my Anne Klein brown loafers.



Minus the fact that I really should have buttoned this sweater down all the way, I am really liking longer-length layers on myself. Knowing what I like certainly helps when I see a MILLION cute things on Anthropologie, because it differentiates between the must-haves and the might-not-work-on-my-body-types.

OH, and onto a third, also mildly interesting, tidbit to wrap up my insane rash of posts lately. (I need a vacation!)

You may remember my recent rant about receiving the wrong scarf in my latest Loft order. If not, you can read about it here.

Well, I decided that it was my mission in life to stalk the Loft Website until my REAL scarf popped up. And, by golly, IT FINALLY DID!

And it has been christened the multi floral scarf. Style #180005. You can click to purchase here!



Pretty, isn't it?

I had all kinds of great plans for this spring scarf. What with the YELLOW, and the BLUE, and the GREEN. In the two seconds it just took to write that last sentence, I already came up with three things to wear with this scarf. That's right, THREE. In TWO seconds.

If there were an Olympic medal in scarf matching, by golly, it would be mine....

So Loft has won back some brownie points with me. They followed through with the prepaid return label to send back the wrong scarf, and now they price-matched the new scarf and waived shipping. Even exchange. HOL. LA.

If only every day were this exciting....

Cheap Pizza, Chic Outfit......Oh, and I'm kinda famous now

I am going to CiCi's Pizza with my dad today for lunch. We've only been once or twice, but they are currently having a sale for $3.99. PLUS, my dad has a BOGO coupon. Seriously? If they let us use both discounts, I will eat my hat .... after I eat tons and tons of pizza, of course.

So I will post a quick picture when I get back from yummy pizza. (But not the mac & cheese pizza. EWWWW!)

But the real reason I wanted to post is because I had the most surreal experience driving home from the post office this morning.

I was a couple of miles from my house, when I looked up at one of the billboards lining the road, and, uh......it was ME up there!

WHahahaha?

Strangely enough, this is the first time I've ever run across a billboard with my picture on it, and I'm betting it will be the last, so I seriously have to appreciate this moment.

You see, a few months ago, our county opened a huge recreation center and--me being an instructor--they asked for some of us to go take pictures of us "working out" for promotion. I had no idea what they were going to use the pics for. But then, in December, their recreation magazine comes out and *POOF* there I am on the cover. On a treadmill. In a horrible picture.

Because you see, I may teach aerobics, people, but this was my first time on a treadmill. I don't really do machines too well. So anyway, I look like even MORE of a dork because they didn't have power yet at the facility. So I am FAKE WALKING on a treadmill. Oh, the humanity.

The good news is that the billboard picture is a different one where I am FAKE RUNNING and I must say (at least from 100 yards away), I look like I actually know what I'm doing. Bah.

So, anyway, time for lunch. But I will be back to re-post my outfit pic.

And do you think I'm going to take a picture of this billboard? You bet your sweet buns I am!

Stay tuned....

Covetable Shoes

It's very strange....but I have been shoe crazy of late.

What's not so strange is that I am finding myself attracted to a very definite style, which is neat. Because I feel like my own "personal style" is starting to peek through amidst all of my copycat inclinations. HOOrah!

So I'm ready to pull the trigger on some Totally-Me Shoes. But really, it's just a matter of finding the perfect combination of adorable and cheap... Here are some of my current faves:



Ringsend Heel ($90) at Anthropologie
I am proud to say that I knew these were Seychelles even before I saw the logo in the product photos.

How could I know this, you ask? A. Because they're the only shoes at Anthro in my price range, and B. Because I friggin' love them! And I have realized that EVERYTHING Seychelles makes me swoon. These are no different. They come in light grey (pictured above) and peach. If I were more adventurous, I might consider the peach. But I don't think I could pull them off with my current wardrobe...



Carved Celadon Heels ($168) at Anthropologie
Have I mentioned that I am in love with these before? If I haven't, then let's make it official. LOVE. However, these are terrifically out of my price range and it doesn't seem like Anthro shoes go on sale quick enough (or stay stocked in my size) to make this dream even close to being fulfilled. C'est la vie, dear carved celadons....




Seychelles Tippy Toe Pumps ($99.95 at Endless)
I know. More Seychelles. (I'm a glutton for punishment.) And yeah, I know, these are crazy. But I LOVE THEM! Apparently, I am easy to please. Just give me some pretty cutouts, laces, and a heel, and I'm sold. These come in teal, grey, and black. And though the grey seems more practical, I am thisclose to coveting the teal ones. I mean, if I'm going to visit crazytown, I want to get the full experience, right?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Feature: What's in My Shopping Cart?

I'm on an official shopping ban.

No, no, no. I mean it. REALLY!

Officially. Banned.

Husband is a bit incredulous, but I explained that my previous shopping bans were only theoretical....whereas THIS shopping ban is....well....actual.

When I imposed my 2010 Clothing Budget---a strict guideline with some serious cutting back---I should have realized how hard it would be to curtail my obsessive shopping. But now that it's halfway through Month 2, and I'm kinda already WAY over budget, it's time to get serious.

Every time I purchase something, I say to myself, "This is the last one." But then something else starts tempting me, and the "last" purchase then becomes the "next-to-last" purchase. And so on...and so on...

I think part of the problem is that the SHOPPING is what I really enjoy. The WEARING? Not so much. My husband recently found some book on why shopping is addictive, and he says I should read it. (Subtle of him, right?!)

But another part of the problem is that it's much easier to sit on the couch and shop while husband is playing video games, then to

1. Get up off my lazy butt.
2. Go in the bedroom and try stuff on.
3. Make coherent pairings of clothes.
4. Take pictures.
5. Download pictures to my computer.
6. And so on...
7. And so on...

So since I'm sitting on my couch, I really have no idea what's in my closet right now. So how could I POSSIBLY know what items I really need and what I don't need?

Exactly.

ANOTHER part of the problem is that even when I AM thoughtful about my purchases, I have a nasty habit of creating outfits that I don't exactly own yet. For instance, "Oh, look at that shirt! That would look great with the skirt that I just ordered that has not even arrived yet!" ::CLICK TO PURCHASE:: Obviously, the problem with this is that what if that skirt sucks? Plus, it kind of snowballs out of control. I make a purchase. Find something that would look good with that purchase. I make another purchase. Find something ELSE. And so on.

So when I shop....it's always in a flurry of purchases. Buying one thing just sets the ball rolling....

So, in hopes of getting a better handle on my shopping obsession, I thought it would be helpful to post what's idling in my shopping cart.....

Oh, who am I kidding? Shopping CARTS. As in plural. Very. Plural.


So whenever I get a hankering to purchase something, I'm coming here first. Because hopefully it will remove the immediate impulse to actually PURCHASE, and help me be more thoughtful.

Of course, this is all moot at the moment, because I AM ON A SHOPPING BAN!

The good news is that my shopping ban ends February 28. (Hey, I'm only human.) So if these items are still available, and they've passed my critical analysis, then maybe----just, maybe----they can join the rest of my under-loved clothes in my over-stuffed closet.

So I was going to include my first shopping-cart post, but now I'm just getting a bit too long-winded, so I am going to post it in exactly T Minus 5 minutes. Or roundabout there.....

What's in My Shopping Cart?: Athleta

For my first "What's in My Shopping Cart?", we turn to Athleta. And since it's workout gear, TECHNICALLY, this falls under my aerobics-teaching budget rather than my strict clothing budget. BWAH HAHAHAHHAAH. But still---restraint, dear self....

Mantra Tank (Originally $44. On sale for $19.99 for limited sizes and colors)
I purchased the blue Mantra Tank a few months ago and LOVE it. L. O. V. E. it. My true size Medium fits perfectly---nicely contoured but not so fitted that I risk shoulder injury when trying to remove it. :) It's a thick fabric so it hides my imperfections, and the design on the bust is simple but attractive. I am going to buy every color available in Medium (even though they are boring neutrals...) because this is an awesome tank for my aerobics class.


Chakra Tank ($49.00)
I'm hoping that the Chakra Tank is as glorious as the Mantra above. It's not on sale, but has more interesting color options. I'm thinking "Straw" (yellow) and "Magenta" (below). Another simple design (the back is the standout) and I'm crossing my fingers that the fabric is similarly thick as the Mantra's is. I should probably mention at this point that I do wear a sports bra underneath my workout tops. (It's high impact, but even if it weren't, I have little faith in so-called bra shelfs.)


Does anyone else ever shop at Athleta? I had seriously never heard of it until my boss gave me a gift card a few years back. This was BEFORE they got bought out by Gap. At the time, I was hoping that their new affiliation would equal more coupons and stuff, but it's very rare that Athleta offers any additional discounts. Bummer.

But it's hard for me to stay away because I really love all their workout tops. I also bought my most favorite Retro 80s gym-class jacket there (below: My sister and I at afternoon tea on our Alaskan cruise last summer!)



It's the best freakin' jacket ever. And look at how cute my sis looks! She is doing a challenge on her own blog, Princess of Taylor, to wear more prints. I hope she does because I love this printed top on her!!

Instyle Challenge Sneak Peek (Outfits 18-21)

::Yawn::

It's our InStyle outfits (18-21)....only seven more to go after these. :)

And, I'm sort of yawning because this styling stuff wears me out!

... And I'm also sort of yawning because this batch has left me pretty uninspired.

Neutral, neutral, neutral. DEFINITELY feel the need to add some pops of color or print to these outfits. The details I'm seeing here just don't have enough OOMPH for me.



Another real problem is that I don't own many of these items. No wrap blouse. No leather pants(!). No studded blouse. No standout jacket, coral or otherwise. So I don't even know where to start. Definitely going to take some creativity on my part.

And I'm thinking that (in the interest of time and sanity) I might just play around with all these outfits and do one mega-post for Numbers 18-21. Because I honestly doubt that I will come up with anything so amazing it deserves its own post!

Once I get started styling, we'll see how things go....

Ain't Nothin Like the Real Thang: Scarf Trick Cardigan

THE REAL THANG...

Scarf Trick Cardigan (Originally $148. Marked down to $79.95) at Anthropologie
I admit it. This sweater intimidates me. I think it looks absolutely adorable though.


THE KNOCKOFF...

Side Ruffle Cardigan ($59.50) at The Limited
Another ridiculously priced sweater at The Limited! I think they are starting to mark their prices intentionally high, hoping that at least a few crazies will bite at full price. At any rate, this sweater comes in grey, light green, and emerald green (turquoise). I tried on the light green (mint) in store and I actually liked it. If it goes on sale, I'll probably go back. I think it will go nicely with my scalloped dots skirt (which I haven't tried on yet!---That's how I roll, peoples...) The sleeves are 3/4 length, but the cardigan itself is actually a good length, not cropped or anything. Although, the more I look at this the more I worry that it looks like a fuzzy caterpillar crawling up my shoulder....

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ain't Nothin Like the Real Thang: Falling Ribbon Cardigan

THE REAL THANG...

Falling Ribbon Cardigan at Anthropologie (no longer online)
I missed out on this cardigan when it was available online. But I love the yellow/navy color combo, and the random, yet perfectly placed ribbons. And look at those sleeves!!! If they're truly that long then I am lovin' it. If you're dying for the original, there are plenty available on eBay, ranging from $60 to $90.


THE KNOCKOFF...

Frog Closure Cardigan ($59.50) at The Limited
Not the random simplicity of the original, but the colors are there. Unfortunately, (::sniff, sniff::) the sleeves look 3/4 length and it's more of a cropped look. But a reasonable facsimile of the somewhat-military feel.....(Does it really have a military feel, or is it just me? Hmmm...)

And by the way, you may notice that I use The Limited a lot for my knockoffs, but ---eh---- they ain't always so cheap! The GOOD news is that The Limited often has great sale promotions, and even greater coupons. And the shipping is a lot cheaper than Anthro, too! So it's worth it to stalk their Website or store and wait for a good deal before you pounce.

A Student of Film....er.....Fashion

So I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I am currently working on my master's in film studies at a local university.

My interest in film began way back in undergrad when I took a Lit & Film class, watched amazing films like Robert Altman's The Player and the Chinese Ju Dou, and I was hooked. In the next few years, I ended up doing independent studies on director Jane Campion and even a feminist reading of Taxi Driver. And then I wrote my senior thesis on drag in film.

That's right, people. Drag.

Think Some Like it Hot (1959) with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. Or Victor Victoria (1982) with Julie Andrews. Or my personal favorite: Juwanna Mann (2002).

So this semester I'm taking a class on film adaptations. So you can expect a few posts on

A.) FILMS WE WATCH!

and,

B.) CLOTHES I WEAR!

Technically speaking, I've already garnered enough credits without this class, but I'll do anything to put off my master's thesis a few more months! :) And to wear more clothes, too....

So my class is on Wednesday nights, so expect these posts late that night....if I can keep up, of course!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Neverending Post (or, What Was I Talking About Again?)

The other day, the hubby and I decided to watch The Neverending Story (1984) because (gasp!) he has never seen it before. Not to mention, that he apparently was born a full-sized adult, go figure. The things you learn AFTER you marry someone.

So, anyway, I have to admit that I was pretty shocked at how mature this movie was for being a kid's film. I mean, seriously, you don't try to kill off an entire fantasy world in a kid's film and easily get away with it. And I must have been somewhat of a late bloomer in the intellectual department, because you want to know the only thing that stuck with me over the years amid all the death and dying?

This guy:



Meet Falkor, the friendly giant dragon, who likes to get scratched behind the ears, and who sort of sounds like a creepy baritone pedophile if you're hearing his lines from the kitchen (thanks, husband).

At any rate, a great movie to watch, highly recommended. Much better than The Water Horse, a more recent film (2007) with a lot of the same themes, but with a lot better special effects. And you know what I say to that? Meh.

The Water Horse seemed a little too familiar for our liking. In other words, husband and I kept going "ah, yes" and "oh, I get it" and "hmmm, that's interesting," which USUALLY means that the film had all kinds of good (but obvious) symbolism, and in the end, there was just no spark.

Oh, who am I kidding? There was really just no Rock Biter:



"They look like big strong hands, don't they?" Oof, he rips my heart out, the big lug.

And, because we liked The Neverending Story so much, we got all excited and jumped the gun by watching The Neverending Story TWO (The Next Chapter), which, um, they might as well have just named "The Neverending Story Remade in the US with that kid in all the Teen Beat mags and drained of all its metafantastic ambiguities."

Oh, the horror.

So, anyhoo, where am I going with all this? Ah, yes, the point....

The point....

Well, I kinda started out with one, but I had so much fun going on my tangential film rant that I'm not quite sure where I was going with all this.

But I *think* it may have had something to do with this....



Happy Sunday!

Outfit #17: Menswear and Sparkles



Tommy Hilfiger mid-calf boots
Gap ribbed brown tights
Ann Taylor Loft short-sleeve bomber jacket (old)
Fossil brown silver-buckle belt
My Limited rope trim stone ring! SO PRETTY! It's called turquoise, but it actually seems more mint green to me.
Banana Republic lightweight wool pencil skirt in taupe
AE sequin tank

I'm super excited about this outfit, predominantly because I can actually LINK to several of these of-the-moment pieces. YAY! I am finally relevant to the fashion world. :)

This outfit called for a shirtdress---which I do own---but in my skirtdress, the skirt flares out very retro-like and has pleats down the front so it didn't look quite as nice opened as this fitted InStyle version does.

I do, however, appreciate the concept. And now I am going to buy this in blue.....(I'm not moving in the right direction, am I?) Teehee.

Anyway, so I decided to fudge a little on the shirtdress and just use my new American Eagle sequin cami and my new Banana Republic taupe pencil skirt. I haven't taken the tags off either item, so they may not even stay in my closet. But at least they had their moment in the spotlight.

I (surprisingly) like the cami. I was worried that it would wash me out, but it's kind of a light pink/ivory color and the texture of the sequins helps, too. The only thing I have to consider is that it has a racerback. I guess I could find a thin nude racerback cami with a bra shelf for support? I'm not too keen on the idea, but I'll mull it over, I suppose. I got a size 8 in this.

The skirt is very high-waisted and fits well in my regular size 8. Lots of reviewers complained that it was more of a grey than a taupe (so I was happy), but in my opinion, it's definitely taupe. For that reason, I'm on the fence. Just because I had envisioned a lighter gray and I'm not sure that "taupe" will play the role I need it to in my wardrobe. Mull. Mull. Mull.

THE SKINNY....

"A shirtdress gets hip with a studded belt, bag and black sequin top." (InStyle)

Rate of difficulty to replicate: 2 (out of 5)

SUMMARY: So I didn't use the shirtdress here, but like I said before, I really appreciate this InStyle concept. I NEVER in a million years would have realized on my own that you could unbutton a shirtdress. I just don't know if I'll ever get the chance to try it, because I prefer fuller skirts in my shirtdresses and I think that would affect the look. The good news is that I think I DID capture the contrast of the menswear/sequins.

OVERALL RATING: A-

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Outfit: Babies 'n' Lace

I have an outfit of the day to share!

It's very rare that I go anywhere outside of my house in actual clothing. (Not that I'm NAKED or anything. You KNOW what I mean!)

(And this has NOTHING to do with me being a hermit...)

(Because I'm not a hermit...)

(OK, maybe I am a BIT of a hermit....)

(But it's also because I leave the house 7 times a week to go teach aerobics. Moral of the story: I need to divert my fashion attention to workout gear so I can actually WEAR my purchases. Harumph....)

But back to my outfit occasion...

My mother and I went to my sister-in-law's baby shower today! This will be her second child---and her first girl! whee---and this wee (whee!) tot will have the honor of teaching me how to be a mom someday. Because I'm kinda dumb.

And what makes it even WORSE is that I work at a mothering magazine. And I'm still dumb.

But, don't worry, I have MANY, MANY years before I get un-dumb and procreate.

Goodness, back to my outfit....

First of all, I wore my From O'Keeffe necklace today! I really liked it on the Anthropologie Website and blogged about it here, but it got snatched up before I could buy it. Lucky for me, my fan-TAB-ulous sister found one in her local Anthro store! YAY! I totally love it. The yellows and peaches are so pretty, and I like the mixing of textures.

I also wore my Field Game Cardigan (size medium), also from Anthro. And my new Loft Tiered Top in ivory (size small).

I think these are my Loft dark-rinse jeans and navy Keds.



And I also made Husband take a picture of my baby gift, too, because I was so proud of my giraffe motif! A giraffe blanket, a giraffe bib, a giraffe stuffed animal, giraffe onesies, and a monkey pacifier (not really! no monkeys...just making sure you're still paying attention!). All wrapped up in a giraffe bag. I made Husband wrap the present inside the bag because I am the WORLD'S WORST WRAPPER.

Not to be confused with Puff Daddy. (SHA-WING!)

But I did stick the big honkin' bow on the bag, so here it is. My piece de resistance....



Friday, February 19, 2010

Outfit #16: No more pleats, please....



Pleated pants. Really, InStyle? Is that the way you're gonna play this?

I am waving my white flag on this one....

Pretty much because even though I admit to knowing NOTHING about fashion, I DO know that pleats are never welcome. Even with a "short, tapered cut." Why should I waste my time making something horrific only slightly less horrific? Let's move forward and forget this ever happened....

And no better way to forget than to highlight another one of my recent Anthropologie purchases!

This time it's my Sewing Basket Top (limited sizes still available). The stripe down the front elongates the body and is super flattering. So great. And another example of detailing done right. The little triangles of 3 circles are sewn-on silver studs. The colors of the design are red, black, and silver. Closeup below.



The pants are old brown Ann Taylor pants. My Rack Room tweed heels. My Martin & Osa high button cardigan in mitten blue. And a red skinny belt I snatched off an old Loft dress.

I feel very tall in this outfit. And also, I think the proportions work well together. I think these pants are going in the alteration pile, because I like the look of them (a bit too big in the waist), and I think I'd actually wear them more if they fit better.

THE SKINNY....

"A short, tapered cut makes pleated trousers more flattering." (InStyle)

Rate of difficulty to replicate: 5 (out of 5)

SUMMARY: Yay for Anthropologie. Boo for pleated trousers. I did a Google search for "pleated women's pants" to see if good retailers even SELL these types of pants, and the pickins were slim.... I think this was an instance of InStyle wanting to slip something "trendy" in there to keep us readers on our toes. And---really?---no comment on the insane neon accessories in this otherwise neutral outfit? I think that would have taken it into a more interesting shop-your-closet direction. But, bottom line, I like MY outfit, so I'm gonna give this one a good grade.

OVERALL RATING: B+

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Outfit #15: Simple, yet Seditious




I was in a real "stick-it-to-InStyle" mood for this one! As soon as I read that I was supposed to "keep it simple" with a printed blouse, I went, OH YEAH??? Keep it simple? You think so, InStyle? Well, take THIS!

And I thought I was being SO subversive by picking my old Loft skirt (another reconditioned item in my wardrobe, courtesy of Mom). Why subversive? Because it's got LACE RUFFLES! A lace trim at the bottom. And, hey, how about a BELT?! Yeah, a real big belt, like maybe my Bolton's cheapie in tannish brown.

And then I took the picture and looked at it... and, um, yeah...

I sorta DID keep it simple. And uh...

it sorta WORKED!

So much for my seditious afternoon....

I really like the combo of the taupe skirt and the blue/green ruffle-front buttoned-down J.Crew shirt (from a couple of years ago). And of COURSE I still love my Ann Taylor classic black pumps. :)

I never in A MILLION KAJILLION YEARS would have put this outfit together on my own. I don't really know why. I think I have a real mental block when it comes to skirts. I feel like everything has to be so uptight, whereas this outfit turned out super casual but girly at the same time.

THE SKINNY....

"With a busy blouse, keep other elements, such as jewelry, simple." (InStyle)

Rate of difficulty to replicate: 1 (out of 5)

SUMMARY: This jewelry advice came pretty easily to me, because I always forget about accessories anyway. :) Like I said, this outfit was a completely pleasant surprise for me. The mixture of soft and tough, girly and boyish, really work in an interesting way. And all the colors (though different) GO WITH EACH OTHER! Wow, the power of neutrals right before my very eyes. The lesson I've learned today is that sometimes being rebellious and pushing back can be a good thing...

OVERALL RATING: A

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Outfit #14: Ruffle Me This




Another WHBM unveiling!

This time it's my ruffle front jacket in black. I will definitely have to get the sleeves trimmed up a bit but holy I love this jacket! I think the extra length balances out my body proportions more appropriately than shorter jackets. And the fabric is very trench-coat like. The belt is removable and SUPER LONG, so I might also see about putting in some kind of snap to secure the end because what else do I do with all that leftover belt once I cinch it?

Here's a shot without the jacket:



American Eagle skinny jeans, old Loft patterned blue/green flats, an old Limited ruffle sweater in a sort of mint green, and a 28-lb cocker spaniel. (Hi, Jack!)

I really liked this look. I felt completely "put together" without feeling like I was trying too hard. Casual vibe with solid details to spiff it up.

THE SKINNY....

"Ruffles (and a chic bag) dress up an otherwise simple jeans-and-T combo." (InStyle)

Rate of difficulty to replicate: 2 (out of 5)

SUMMARY: HOORAY! Another winner. I could totally see myself wearing this to work or a casual trip to the grocery store. Did I mention yet that I love my new jacket??!! I'm glad I splurged on it instead of buying lots of cheaper things (which is what I'd normally do with a gift card!). I can see this jacket staying in my wardrobe for a good, long while. And that seems to be the lesson here: Buy a couple of really good pieces and you can catapult lower-end clothes to the next level!

OVERALL RATING: A+

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Night After Valentine's Day Outing

Wanted to make a quick post with my Valentine's Day outfit before I become COMPLETELY irrelevant. :)

You see, Husband and I HATE crowds. We hate regular-day crowds. So imagine how much we hate VALENTINE'S crowds. Ick.

So we generally celebrate the day after the actual holiday, so this year we had a President's Day love fest! Actually, we're not big into the holiday anyway, so all we did was go out to eat. But it was lots of fun!

We have an "international" tradition for our anniversaries and Valentine's Days. We've done Spanish, Japanese, and even a regular restaurant that was housed in an old post office! This year we decided to try..... THAI!

The restaurant (Chaba's) was quite yummy. We had Chabas Rolls (sushi with crab meat and sweet sesame sauce), and I got a soy-sauce noodle dish and Husband got a curry fried rice dish. SO MUCH FOOD! We ended up helping each other eat the mile-high mound of food on our plates, and STILL came home with tons of leftovers.

So anywayz, here is my outfit from the night. And LOOK, it's my face! Hi, blog world. :)



Hue black tights
Payless black booties
An old Eci dress from Nordstrom (no longer available, but see pic below for the whole look)
My new AE Outfitters military navy jacket, snagged on super sale
Ann Taylor pearl and pave earrings (click here)

Hmm, upon further consideration, could I belt this? Husband has an irrational hatred for belts so I try to avoid them when I'm in his presence....it was our faux Valentine's Day celebration, after all....

Monday, February 15, 2010

Outfit #13: Return of the Chunky Monkey




Yay! I finally found a good use for my chunky monkey sweater vest from Loft. :)

AS TEXTURE!

Underneath is my J.Crew ruffle blouse from a few years ago. A braided brown belt from Bolton's. My Loft Boot-Leg dark-rinse jeans and my Tommy Hilfiger mid-calf brown boots.

I kind of made "texture" my unofficial mantra a few months ago (and promptly forgot about it---oops!). The concept first hit me right between the eyes when I saw Jason Wu's Spring 2010 line, and some of his ruffles and feathers looked SO AMAZING! He also mixed prints that are to die for.

Hmmmm.....mixing prints.....Maybe that will be my next unofficial, under-appreciated mantra.......

So, unfortunately, I haven't added much texture to my wardrobe. HOWEVER, my mom is currently re-working a long ruffle skirt from Loft into a ruffly mini and a Nordstrom sequin/eyelet dress, so that it FITS, both from a few years ago. So if these work, then I'll at least have a LITTLE variety of texture in my wardrobe. (And the added good news is that I think both the skirt and dress will look GREAT with my new American Eagle military blazer.)

CONTRAST! WHEE!

THE SKINNY....

"Combine many fabrics--fur, chiffon, dneim and leather--for fun impact." (InStyle)

Rate of difficulty to replicate: 1 (out of 5)

SUMMARY: Fun, indeed! This was an easy shop-your-closet challenge where I could basically just pull out a bunch of completely random things that I never would have thought to pair on my own. THIS is the kind of inspiration I was hoping for all along. Mixing fabrics and textures is a simple guideline that will help me see new possibilities in my clothes WITHOUT getting depressed that I don't have certain pieces InStyle wants me to have.

OVERALL RATING: A-

The Great Ann Taylor Loft Scarf Debacle

Oh, today. What an exciting day.

I get to chat with all kinds of customer service representatives at all my favorite stores.

My Loft order arrived today. YAY!

But, uh, this is the Dip Dye Linen Scarf I ordered....



Pretty, right?

But, uh, this is the scarf I received....


Yeah, not quite what I was expecting. There was a PRINT on that first picture, right? Or am I just going loopy???

I checked the style number and it matches the one online. And THEN I actually read the description (which I usually don't do, because I prefer pretty pictures!). That's when I read words like "dip dye" and "ombre" and "cornflower blue." Whahhh?

I called Loft to ask what the heck was going on, and my customer rep seemed as confused as I was.

Her explanation was that they made the sample, and then before production started, they changed their mind and switched it up. Seriously? They would change the design from a colored print to an ombre? That seems weird to me.

But whatever.

I'm seriously bummed because I fell in love with this scarf. And I asked whether it might be coming out later or something, and she said she had no idea. So moral of the story, don't buy this scarf!! I am amazed that they haven't corrected this problem online yet, because I CAN'T be the first person to buy this scarf.

She even asked if I was happy with the scarf...I was like, um, no. I already have a scarf this color. So she's sending me a prepaid postage label to return it, but you can bet your booties I'm going to make sure I get as much $$ back on this as I deserve. No shenanigans here, nuh uh.

Wah.

In more cheerful news, my sister went to Anthropologie today and found my pretty From O'Keeffe necklace that I missed out on the first time around. I blogged about it here. She is going to ship it down to me this week. Woohoo! I can't wait to see it in person.

WHBM Customer Service: Price Adjustment Test

On Feb. 4, I ordered a jacket and skirt from White House Black Market using my Christmas gift certificate. WHEE!

And then the next time I checked the Website, the skirt was discounted by $28. BOO!

I checked the WHBM Website, and their adjustment policy says that as long as it's within 14 days of your order, they will give you the discount.

So.....on the twelfth day, I called in to see if I was eligible for a price adjustment on my ponte skirt.

After SEVERAL minutes of rocking out to the Pointer Sisters on hold, I got a very nice sales rep named Stacey, who said it should be OK since I was within the time frame of 14 days. VICTORY IS MINE!

But then she put me on hold for several MORE minutes. (If the music weren't so jazzerific, I would have been a bit peeved at this conjuncture...) I WAS, however, nervous, because she gave me some mumbo-jumbo about changing their systems and needing to access my order on the old system, blah, blah, blah....

In other words, she realized I used a $50 off $200 coupon and with the price adjustment my order would be less than $200....EEK! At least that's what I was imagining was happening....

But my cynicism was thwarted, because she came back on the phone and said they gave me my adjustment. What they did was this: When I originally placed the order, a portion of the $50 off was applied toward the jacket, and a portion to the skirt. So I actually got the skirt for like $44 or something. So they gave me about a $16 price adjustment off of THAT sale price.

TOTALLY REASONABLE!

MUCH better policy than SOME retailers I know (*cough cough*......ANN TAYLOR.......*cough cough*)

Oh, wait, I feel another coughing fit coming on.....(*cough cough*....... JCREW.......*cough cough*).

WBHM is happy. I'm happy. We're all happy.

HOOrah for price adjustments.....oh, and for the Pointer Sisters, too. You gotta communicate for REAL if you wanna win your lady back, fellas....

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Outfit #12: Sparkle and Shine



I've been waiting for my White House Black Market ponte seamed mini skirt to arrive so that I could try out this outfit. I got a size Medium, and the material is very stretchy. I wonder if I could have sized down to small? However, it's pretty short, so I'm scared that I would lose some length with a Small. Plus, WHBM is going to get the "price adjustment" test because my skirt is now on sale! Bah.

Otherwise, I think it's a solid black skirt that I'm pretty sure is a MUST in a wardrobe so I'm happy with it. I added my Limited black infinite loop belt and a few-seasons old Loft sequined stripe Tee in grey. Honestly, I don't think my top is "fun" enough (using InStyle's words here) to transform this outfit into anything amazing. And I wasn't really paying enough attention to the shoes and just used my Steve Madden herringbone flats and black Hue tights. I DO have a pair of red satin peep-toe pumps with rosettes. But, I think I'd have needed to change my top to something flashier to make those shoes work here.

For the sole reason of making myself feel better, I added a Limited cardigan to the outfit to see how it looked....



Me likey better. I think I'm just a layers fan at heart. Everything looks better with a cardi!

THE SKINNY....

"A fun top and sparkling bracelet enliven a formfitting pencil skirt." (InStyle)

Rate of difficulty to replicate: 4 (out of 5)

SUMMARY: Boy, I dropped the ball on this one. Whiffed on the shoes. Whiffed on the top. And I didn't even WEAR a bracelet. I think I got caught up in the shiny sequins of the top and thought I HAD to replicate that sparkle. And this is the sparkliest top I own, but it's got more of a casual vibe. I would have done better to find some fancy-lookin ruffles, I think. This outfit works for me, but more as office-appropriate duds than night-on-the-town regalia.

OVERALL RATING: B-

SQUEE! Popbacks make me Happy

FINALLY! A story with a happy ending....

I've been obsessively checking Charlotte Russe's Website to see if my Polka Dot skirt (you know, the one that was only $19.99 that sold out while I was being a cheapskate? and that I blogged about here...) would ever become available again.

Because if you haven't noticed yet, I have quite a legendary obsessive-compulsive personality. That's why I stalk my mailbox for my bank statement every month so I can balance my Quickbooks immediately, why I do my best house-cleaning at 11:30pm, why I drink 5 sodas a day, and why I commandeer my husband's PS3 so I can play Critter Crunch into the wee hours.

But a Charlotte Russe popback?

Yeah, fat chance.

I mean, I've heard of fortuitous popbacks at high-end stores like J.Crew and Anthropologie, but CHARLOTTE RUSSE? At my calculations, my chances were about, oh, I don't know, let's see...carry the one.....times pi.....divided by the absolute value of -10.....makes that about.....

slim to none.....

But, then, BEHOLD! My skirt is ACTUALLY back on the site. Out of the blue. Without provocation!

ALL-leluia! :)

The only hiccup?

It's a Size Large, when I would have normally ordered a Medium. But I've never tried anything on at Charlotte Russe, and I'm kind of anticipating that this skirt is going to be very short. And so I think I can make the Large work!

Yay!

So as I celebrate my purchase---which hopefully I will STILL be celebrating when it arrives!---I leave you with adorable pictures of my pupperonis. Because I'm crossing my fingers that our recent rash of snowstorms is now officially OVER. And that these pictures will soon be moot. Enjoy!


Jackers in the falling snow! Poor Jack had to hippity-hop through the snow because it was so deep. Normally he runs at full speed on Docker's heels around the yard, but in this snow, he just kinda hops and sinks, hops and sinks, hops and sinks.



Docker did not like the snow AT. ALL. While I was taking pictures, she spent most of the time sitting on the back steps waiting to go back inside. She was nice enough, though, to pose for a few pictures in front of the infamous Leaning Evergreen, which is a 20-ft tree in our neighbors' yard that was so laden with snow that it was uprooted, fell over our fence, and now belongs to US. :/



Every time Jackers went outside----EVERY time----he collected many, many small balls of snow in his fur. On his stomach. In his ears. And under his chin. His fur is so long and the snowballs were so entwined, that I had to give him a warm bath each time to melt the snow.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Shipping Carrier Standoff and Some Anthro Pics

It's no secret. I love UPS.

Maybe it's partly because I'm more familiar with them (I process all the outgoing AND incoming UPS shipments at the magazine where I work.) My husband also uses Amazon Prime A LOT, so we get about a million UPS packages a week, so again, familiarity. Oh, and my brother-in-law is a UPS deliveryman. :)

But I think it's also because whenever I have a problem with shipping?......It's always FedEx.

OK, that's not true. Once UPS "said" they delivered a package for my husband, but it was nowhere at our house that night. We called UPS and the next day, our poor embarrassed UPS guy came slinking back with our package (He had left it on our neighbors' doorstep. And not the NICE neighbors....the mean neighbors who yelled at me once while I was in my PJs letting the dogs out. Thanks for the heads-up, mean neighbors. Apparently, I am not the ONLY one in my cul-de-sac that holds grudges. Harumph.)

But FedEx? Many more institutional shenanigans. Like expected delivery dates being pushed back again...and again. And one package that got lost altogether and had to be resent! To put it simply, whenever I find myself complaining about shipping....it's FedEx.

OK, enough complaining. The point of this post is that my White House Black Market package FINALLY arrived. I ordered it on the 4th. It arrived the 13th. To me? That's super slow. I mean, it only had to go from ATLANTA to VIRGINIA!! My goodness. I could have driven down to Georgia myself and picked up my package 20 times in how long it took them to deliver it!

The good news is that you'll likely see part of my latest WHBM purchase in an InStyle challenge outfit tomorrow. But to tide you over in the meantime, I've included some pics of my last Anthropologie purchases!


Embroidered Thicket Blouse
The details on this blouse are amazing. The necklace is fantastic and delicate. And the fit (my regular size 8) is spot on. But I'm still on the fence about this one because, as you can see, the bottom flares out, and I'm not sure what type of bottom to wear with this. I think I am going to go through my closet again and test things out. Do I wear a straight mini skirt to balance the flared blouse? Or do I concede to the flare and wear an A-line skirt?


Night Blooming Dress
It's my dress, my dress, my dress! Mine, mine, mine! I'm so glad I finally got this dress! It's as gorgeous as I expected, but A LOT SHORTER! Holy. It's pretty scandalous actually. Sitting is a bit of an issue, and not really office appropriate. But my Christmas red belt works BEAUTIFULLY. And I threw in my Ann Taylor black pumps.

The fit is a little funky though. I got my regular size 8, and the top is very blouson (sp?), but the high-waisted bottom half is elastic and VERY fitted. Perhaps I have a very large rib cage? Anyway, I probably wouldn't want to size up because then the top might be TOO big... I'm hoping that with more wear, the elastic will allow for some extra give.

I'm beginning to realize that most of my comments about this dress are negative. But I LOVE IT! It's just beautiful, and it makes me feel great to put it on. Is that enough to warrant keeping something?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Spring Color: PINK!

I've never been a big fan of the color pink, but I must say that this new, vibrant shade is certainly on my radar.

I'm trying (TRYING) not to pull the trigger on anything until prices are more reasonable. (I'm totally kicking myself for not buying some of these things while Banana Republic had 25% off regular priced merchandise. Doh!)

Anyway, here are the pieces I am lusting over. One of them will be mine. I hope...


Textured Linen Topper ($228) at Ann Taylor
With code SPRING40, take 40% off one regular-priced item. Still out of my price range. And kind of impractical for my lifestyle. But for someone who works in an office? How cute is this?


Pleat-neck 3/4 sleeve top ($32) at Banana Republic
In Red Dahlia. So pretty! I love the neckline detail, and it's gotten pretty good reviews so far. The only thing that worries me is that some random people claimed that the top was too short. BIG pet peeve of mine. But other reviewers didn't find it short at all. So where does THAT leave you?


Lightweight wool pencil skirt ($79.50) at Banana Republic
Currently on sale for $55 with the President's Day sale. The pencil skirt in the Ann Taylor styling won me over. So I figure if I bought the top above, I could replicate the color combo. In the reviews, some people complained that this is more grey than taupe...which is GOOD FOR ME! :)

Silk ruffle wrap dress ($130) at Banana Republic
I love this dress. First found it when Chloe at The Chloe Conspiracy linked to it. Unfortunately (again) this is pretty impractical for my lifestyle. But aren't wrap dresses supposed to be really flattering? I wouldn't know because I've never owned one!! Wish I bought this at 25% last weekend, but maybe it'll go on sale again? Hmmm???