Here is the cute B&W striped dress I bought a few weeks ago from Forever 21 for $22.80. I think a lot of their clothes are overpriced for the quality, but this dress is all cotton and has real self-fabric belt loops (although the skirt hemline is pretty messy). The belt is really poor quality but easily swapped out.

Striped Dress w/ Belt

I usually wear a 2 in dresses at Anthropologie (0 in tops, 4-6 in skirts) and the size S fit well. It's a tad too long in the shoulder, but I'm petite and short-waisted so that's a typical issue for me. It DOES pass the bend-over test on my 32AA chest. The length feels a tad longer than 33", probably closer to 34" or 34.5".

I picked it up immediately because it reminded me of Anthro's lovely Monochromatic Corset Dress, albeit minus the corsetry detail:

Anthro's version is more unique, of course, but also dressier and probably not machine-washable (line dry, and I'd recommend sticking to that unless you don't mind shrinkage).
 I wrote to Seychelles customer service to ask for a list of their "select" styles available in size 5 and 5.5. It's kind of a short list... what's even shorter is the list of retailers who actually carry the smallest sizes of these styles.

Change of Venue
Cream of the Crop
Greatest Hits
Matter of Fact
Second to None
Clue (5.5 only)
I Do (5.5 only)
Purr (5.5 only)
 Went to Anthro today, with a friend whom I'm slowly addicting to the store. :D And I didn't buy anything!

First, got a birthday coupon PA [price adjustment] on the Carica Bag in beige, which I received today. It's almost huge, which I love but is also a little intimidating at the same time. I will bring it to school, but it doesn't really work with a backpack--too large to carry as a handbag, and over my shoulder is too bulky with my backpack at the same time.

Carica Bag

But it's a classic slouchy satchel shape, holds a TON, and I got a great deal: $85, originally $178. (I ordered a charge-send from California with free shipping, but when I got my 15% price-adjustment, it also took off the tax that I had to pay in CA. Hooray!)

Also returned the Blurred Bands Belt, which I'd picked up last weekend on a whim but was too big to wear at my waist.

And finally, I tried on a lot of tops, plus the Sagebrush Skirt. I tried a 4 but really need a 6 in the skirt, but decided that $70 was too much to pay, regardless. LOVED the Expanding Universe Tank in red XS, despite mixed blogger reviews--my theory is that it's designed for small-busted women, because the neckline will pucker if it's at an angle. Not a problem for my flat chest, I just needed to straighten it out and it stayed perfect. The red colorway reminds me of Canada, my native land, so it's even sentimental!

I re-tried the A-Bit-Unruly Top in green, size XS, but though there wasn't anything really wrong with it, it just seemed too simple for a $30 top. I'd much rather wait for the Expanding Universe Top to go on sale, and I'll snatch it up at first cut. Also retried The Gathering Tank, this time in lavender, and determined that I can't make the size small work (bust is huge). But the raw edges still bug me and I very much doubt this top will make it to second cut. The Sidebent Tank, similar to the failed Expanding Horizons Tank, is a better fit but still not perfect. Contrary to online reviews, for me it ran a little big--long, rather than wide--because the armholes dragged down in the XS. I like my tops fitted, so I didn't notice tightness in the torso area. The design is honestly kind of boring, though.

More tops... Loosened Shelby Top desperately needs to be sized down, but I didn't bother trying the 0 because the neck-ties were really funky. Too bad, because the navy bird print is really cute. I disliked the mannequin shape of the Alchemilla Tee, and didn't like it any more on me. It makes me look hippy, miraculously, but not in a good way (i.e. by making my chest look even tinier). Loved the flowiness of the Talauma Tunic, but it's sold out in XS and S both in my store and online. I'll consider it on sale if/when I can track down an XS to try. Hanging Garden Top was, by no means, an effective substitute... just huge. This is when I wish I was able to size down in tops--instead, I'm usually sized out of the flowy stuff. I sized down to a 0 in the Finding Roses Blouse (now on second cut for $20), but it was still too big.

P.S. Insights from trading clothes with my hourglass friend: Expanding Universe Tank doesn't work on >B cup, I suspect. Cirque A-line (aka "the elephant dress") has a crappy zipper, just like its sweetly singing predecessor. The beautiful Artist's Rendering Dress really doesn't work on petites in non-petite sizes, even if you're an hourglass (she was able to take the 2; I went up to a 4 to squeeze my waist in, and the top was a mess; but on both of us, the straps were too long and caused gapping).
Not all of these have pictures because I went in quickly/with friends, but I want to note fit comments regardless.

A-Bit-Unruly Top: I've heard that this top fits different in the pink and brown colorways. I don't particularly like those two colors, though. Tried the XS in green stripe, which is a gorgeous seafoam green color. However, the modal is rather sheer and it's fundamentally a casual top, which makes it hard to pay $30 for.

Expanding Horizons Tank: tried XS in cobalt blue, lovely color but the front gaped open when I bent over.

The Gathering Tank: tried XS in green, the color and fit were great, but I didn't like the slubby thin cotton and I hated the raw edges. Also gaps a bit if I bend over, but that might be fixable with a different bra. I would pick this up on second cut, but not for $30, and I don't expect it to last until $20.

Tupelo Dress: fits TTS, straps are on the long side for petites.

Heartease Habotai Blouse: extremely low-cut and will not fit an A cup, even in sz 0.

Darting Dragonfly Dress: too small in sz 0, but fit fine in sz 2 when I tried it the first time at full price, so I wouldn't size down. Kind of regretting not tracking this down via charge-send when it first hit $40, but it is only a summer dress due to the styling--would look terrible with opaque tights.

Gathered Hemlock Dress: orange floral colorway; fits tight at the waist in sz XS, similar to the Whirligig. I later tried the S in the blue motif and it fit better, so I would take an S in this, though I'd probably take the XS in the Whirligig due to the extra drape up top.

Alstroemeria Tee: didn't try on, the yellow in the print is brighter IRL.

Splashed Palette Dress: has an adorable black polka-dot lining! Fits TTS, as I tried on the 0 and the 4 and neither fit. (The 0 zipped, but was uncomfortably tight in the thighs.) I would ideally want the petite version.

Strappy Dandelion Dress: runs small, as it has a back zipper and I still couldn't zip up the 0.

Vervain-Mallow Top: in rust, sz XS, fits well and surprisingly works with my Asian coloring, but I was bothered by the shoulder ruffle sticking out of my shoulder.

Also tried on a sale top with rolled sleeves and a pretty corset-style laced neckline which looks like it runs small but is actually TTS (I tried on the S and it was too big). Finally, I tried on a bunch of sale pants and discovered that I'm a sz 2/4 in pants at Anthro... but nonetheless ended up buying sz 28 (=sz 6) Pilcro High-Rise Flares, because they fit loosely and I couldn't pass up $10 pants. At least if I gain even more weight, they'll still fit once I chop off several inches from the hem.

Whirligig Dress in magenta (which Anthro calls medium pink) and dusty purple (lavender, I think?): elastic waist has a tendency to snap threads when stretched tight, which makes me frown--I expect better quality at this price point, especially for synthetic fabric. I tried on both the XS and S; the XS fit but was tight in the waist, the S gave me a tad too much drape at the top. And after trying the Vervain-Mallow Top, I'm intrigued by the orange colorway that I initially dismissed. Still, first cut is a bit much to pay for a jersey dress.

I tried on the Reflecting Pool Dress in sz 2 in case I decided to order the Verdant Slip [in the original mint green, I dislike the new blue colorway] online. It fits TTS, but I don't feel like the fit is particularly flattering, and I would prefer strapless to these tiny straps.

Calliope Dress, in size 2: loved the print online. I definitely need to size down in this, even at the waist. However, the pockets stick out unattractively, and I forgot about my irrational hatred for henley buttons. Later tried this in a 0 and it still looks shapeless. Maybe at a super-sale price.

Ah, Artist's Rendering Dress... how you taunt me so. I never wear shift-style dresses and they don't fit my body well either, but I loved the landscape print on this so much. I couldn't zip up the size 2, but even holding the top closed, the neckline gaps. The size 4 fits but gaps unacceptably at the neck. Has a lovely striped plaid lining.

Unknown Tracy Reese Dress, attractively priced at $30 but not my style and too short, not to mention too big for me. In sz P. This has since sold at my local Anthro, and I have no clue what it's called.

Magdalena Peasant Top: way too baggy in XS.

I've been coveting the Sagebrush Skirt ever since I saw it hanging on a display rack in the middle of the store, months ago. The size 4 fits snugly at high waist, and my store didn't have a 6 to compare. In comparison, I took a size 6 in the Inkwell Skirt, which ran small for most, and also the Plaited Brushwork Skirt [since returned, I didn't love the print], which was just non-stretchy. I love the color and the detailed embroidery. Now it's on sale for $70... I'm tempted to buy it, but will depend on whether I keep the Carica Bag (in beige, charge-send arrives today!) and whether I buy the Blurred Hydrangea Dress from an EA seller.

This green top (name? picture pending) is way too big and I can't bend over. Euch.

Runny Yoke Skirt in sz 4, black; the other is the Shaded Glory Skirt, also in sz 4 and on second cut $20, which comes in several colors besides taupe (I saw brown and purple for sure). Fit comfortably if snugly, so don't size up. I bought the Faded Glory Skirt, but ended up returning it because there was too much material in the hips.

Bright Bolts Sash, Slim, sz S/M... Caught my eye only because it was paired with the Eyeleted Corset Top in the May 2011 catalog. I returned that top, though, and I would never wear this belt otherwise. Since cut to $10 and my local Anthro still has a bunch.

Finally, an unknown brown belt that's way too big for my waist and drapes awkwardly on my hips. Pass.
Purple and indigo patterned tunic/dress was $15 down from $35, tried in sz 2 and 8. The 8 has enough length to be a dress but the top is way too big; even on the tunic-length size 2, the chest is overly blousy. I actually bought this and returned it last season at regular price, in size 4, because it's a gorgeous print--better in person--but a difficult cut. The dress length is kind of tight on my thighs, which measure as 35". Also, I can't bend over. A reluctant pass.

I've been looking for a white dress, but haven't found any cute ones at a reasonable price. This one, in sz 2 (equivalent to Anthro sz 0), has zero give at the empire waist--which usually isn't a problem for me, my underbust is only 29"--and practically see-through in the back. Also no price tag and obviously the only one available on the rack. If not for the sheerness, I would consider trying a size up.

Taupe lace-sleeved tee in sz XS, $7 down from $13. I love the sleeves, but the body is a very casual, plain, cheap cotton and not at all forgiving of a few lumps.

And finally, something that I actually bought! (Last month, AND I haven't returned it.) This blue paisley maxi was just $10 down from $20, last one left in sz 6. It's the right price for a trend I'm not sure I can pull off, and brushes the floor in flats, but I'm only 5'2". The surplice chest is huge, but I can make it work with a white tank underneath and a belt to cinch the empire waist. The surplice cut is mirrored in back, and there's no zipper, so I don't know how practical sewing the top closed would be. There would still be too much fabric to pass the bend-over test. So basically, this is a pretty fussy maxi dress, but with 3" wedges, it makes me feel like a goddess.

Addendum: I do plan on sewing the surplice together, I think, because it tends to fall off my shoulders otherwise if I'm not wearing a cardigan.
I'm apparently too perfectionist to post unedited photos, and I have too many photos to edit; so if and when that gets finished and uploaded, I'm just going to do text reviews for now. I'm a writer first and foremost, anyway.

Purple shift dress, $20 (originally $70). The XS is too large and gives me the illusion of unattractive hips, which is pretty difficult!

White Cecilia dress in sz 00, which fits like Anthro 0 (can't-gain-any-weight snug). The top is cut badly for me, whether due to my petite torso or my flat chest, I'm not sure. Has a three-layer skirt for opacity. No size 0 was available, and I didn't bother trying on the 2 since the straps would just get even more awkward. This is a beautiful dress if it fits you, though.

A cotton bell skirt in army green (not J. Crew's actual color name) in sz 0, which is a little ridiculous because a 28" waist should not be size 0. The 0 fits at waist but is a tad too short for my comfort, so I would size up for length and to wear on my hips if I wanted to buy this, though I don't particularly.

Two pretty embroidered tops in white and sage green--both are opaque, which was a concern for the white. However, the bust gaps way too much to be appropriate even casually, and this is on MY chest. I can't imagine what this top would look like on someone who was busty and actually pulled the fabric taut, since this is the XXS and it's not very fitted, just poorly designed.
Crewsing Thru My 50's has a great guide to determining your personal perfect skirt length, depending on whether (and by how much) you are short-shinned or long-shinned. I measured as 16.5" upper leg and 14.5" lower leg, a 2" difference, which means that my ideal skirt length is 1 inch above my knee. I have no intention of giving up or hemming all of my skirts and shorts that don't fall perfectly proportionate, though. While 1 inch above the knee is perfectly modest for me, I also like midi-length skirts and much shorter shorts (3-5" inseam). This does explain why that one pair of too-short capris that hit just below my knee was so awkward-looking.
1. Pants (real pants, not sweat/yoga pants) are pretty uncomfortable after living in skirts for a month.

2. My (finger)nails are currently painted OPI She Sells Sushi by the Seashore, which is just a bit too bright to be a true neutral, but not bright enough to bother me. I would call it a muted peachy pink. I'm still on the hunt for a pale pink that isn't too sheer and doesn't strike my ugh-pink radar... I might just give up, buy sheer pink and opaque white, and learn how to do French nails.

JCPenney is having a BOGO 50% off sale on OPI polish. I went with a friend, so we each bought one bottle for $6.38 each. I like the quality much better than Revlon or Sally Hansen. It's very thick, essentially opaque after just one coat, but not tacky.

Toes are alternating OPI Jade is the New Black (review with swatch, although it photographs brighter/lighter than IRL, in my opinion) and an opaque cobalt blue Sally Hansen.

3. Went to Purebread Deli for lunch, and their Italian wedding soup is WAY too salty. This from someone who loves salt.

4. Also went to Talbots to return my last sandal order--I have two more pairs coming in the mail, which I will hopefully like better--and tried on a few things. I saw a cute chevron-striped dress that I wish I'd seen during the $40 dress sale. I tried on three skirts (2 were the same style in different colorways) in 2P/4P/6P, out of coincidence. I definitely need 2P bottoms at Talbots, because the shorter of the two skirts still fell to my knee when worn at waist, and only the 2P sat at my waist.

Recall that I have a 28" waist! And I'd call the 2P waist measurement a 28.5 or maybe even 29 because I'd just finished lunch and it fit comfortably. Crazy vanity sizing--same goes for my size 2 The Limited pencil skirt--even if you go down to 00, that's only a 26" waist measurement. Which, in jeans, = size 2.

Oh, quick review on the sandals I returned, which were the Twisted-Rope Leather T-Strap Thongs (no longer available online). They are like pictured, but I just didn't like the look and feel of the T-strap--my foot was very bare and I felt like I was going to step out of the shoe when I walked, even though it's secured with an ankle strap. Plus, I think the bareness calls attention to the abnormally small size of my foot... my TOMS do that, too, but I'm OK when it's a casual look. I had ordered these sandals to have a flat shoe for work, and the strap is too much to bother with for casual occasions.

5. Hopefully going to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale tonight, and I'm kind of scared. It's all hyped up to be a huge deal, but this is the first year that Delaware has had ANY high-end department store presence. (No Bloomingdale's/Neiman Marcus/Saks.) It's a pretty small store, too, noticeably smaller than Macy's and not that much larger than the Forever 21 flagship XXI store.
There was yet another Anthro sale yesterday, this time mainly second/third cuts. I debated some charge-sends but ultimately decided to pass. I did manage to grab the Atomical Tee on second cut  in the navy pattern, which is quirky and has caught my eye for a while now but I wasn't willing to pay even $40 for a tee. Justified the order because I needed a size up in the Snapdragons Belt, in hopes that it will fit overlapping like the product photo... I would have ordered the L as well to compare, but of course it didn't pop back until today.

And of course, to get free shipping, I picked up the Gull Wing Dress in plum for $100. I won't keep it at that price, for sure, but if it gets a second cut within two weeks, I'll consider it. And I do want to try it on.

Snapdragons Belt, by Lucky Penny (reviews; my review of the size S upcoming)
purchased size M for $40 (originally $78)

Atomical Tee in "blue motif" colorway, by Tiny (reviews; see also Behind the Dressing Room Door)
purchased size XS for $20 (originally $68)

Gull Wing Dress in plum colorway, by Girls from Savoy (reviews; see also Effortless Anthropologie, In Pursuit of Pretty Things, Anthroholic)
purchased for $100 (originally $168)

 I've walked through Bloomingdale's a few times at the KOP mall, but have never purchased anything--the prices are too high for my taste. But over at Want Not, the wonderful Mir just posted a great coupon deal: $50 off a $100+ purchase online, plus free shipping if you purchase $50 of intimates. (Check out her blog post, and shop with her affiliate link, for details.) I took the opportunity to grab two bras for almost 50% off each--came to $54 total, as usual no tax.

First I ordered the Wacoal "Embrace Lace" Petite Push-Up Bra in black, which has pretty white lace on the band, in a hard-to-find size 32AA. I've never worn a petite bra before, because I always buy 32A padded push-up bras from Lily of France and/or whatever is on sale at Macy's. But I don't anticipate fit issues, because I am petite and I have a classically petite torso. Actually, my full torso is probably around average length, but I have a high waist (almost a hands-width above my navel) and noticeably short shoulder-to-bust ratio (straps never fit correctly).

SIDEBAR: Once, just once, I found a nude 32AA padded bra on the sale rack. It fits great, but it's a full-coverage T-shirt bra and I wear a lot of low-cut tops. I think the expanse of chest, even sans cleavage, shows off my collarbone and shoulders. Also, this particular bra design is almost entirely padding and not much pushing, so that the 32A--identical style, in black--also fits but with even more padding.

And I desperately need a new strapless bra--my current one is obviously dead and always slipping--so I picked up the Natori Women's "Reflex" Strapless Convertible Bra in nude, 32A. Reviews say that the Natori bra runs a bit shallow in the cup, so I'm hopeful that it will work out. If not, well, Bloomie's has an undated return policy, so I can always wait for my next trip to KOP.
Angie of YouLookFab has posted about preferred shopping categories... I have a few, but mostly I have a much longer list of things that I'm constantly shopping for (and failing to find).
1. Skirts! Especially Anthro skirts... I have a harder time finding enough tops to go with them, though.
2. Dresses! Just as pretty and feminine as skirts, without having to worry about also dressing my top half.
3. Jewelry--always fits! However, I have a problem of always buying similar, delicate-type jewelry, and then having nothing colorful and chunky to add to boring outfits. I prefer fine jewelry, such as diamonds in my everyday watch and sterling silver metals whenever possible, since base metals always end up turning my skin green.
4. Hair accessories (i.e. forks/sticks/clips), because there's not much point in maintaining waist-length hair unless you can play with it.
Most Hated:
1. Dress pants. Ugh. I've had some luck recently with the Sloan fit pants at Banana Republic, so I suspect one key may be to size up in the slimmest available cut. I have average thighs but nonexistent hips and a thick waist, so I need pants that are cut nearly straight up and down.
2. Jeans--slightly better than non-denim pants because I can buy hip-huggers that, while they don't particularly flatter my tummy, at least don't constrict it too much. But I need a 29" inseam, which is annoying because it means that 30" petite inseams are too long for flats and too short for heels.
3. Watches... which, since I treat them as fine jewelry, you'd think I would love shopping for watches. But I have certain criteria for a watch that MUST be met, and they usually contradict each other: all stainless steel, 12 points on the face (because I actually use my watch to tell time, instead of my cell phone), and a slim, delicate, lady-like style. The first two criteria are practical essentials but usually lead me to chunky menswear watches, which I hate. Old-fashioned oval ladies watches are also inappropriate. I finally found the perfect watch last year at Kay Jewelers--it's a Citizen Eco-Drive with a rectangular face and two vertical rows of diamond trim--but only after shopping way. Too. Much.
4. Swimwear. Enough said.
5. Bras--my true size is a 32AA (and my actual band size is a 31), but since that size is difficult to find in non-specialty shops, I just try on tons of 32A push-up bras until I find some that mostly fit.
6. Shoes and bags... Both are very hard to fit for me. My feet are size 5 with wide toes but a slim instep (so wide sizes don't fit, even if I somehow managed to find a 5W); in bags, I am constantly searching for the holy grail of both style AND organization. (I'm an obsessive organization freak.)
So, another thing that my mother and I did yesterday at the outlets was, out of curiosity, getting our feet sized at the Clarks Bostonian store. I've never been able to figure out the width-sizing on the metal foot-shaped thingy that shoe stores carry, so a sales associate explained it. However, I now have definitive proof that the sizing does NOT work.

Why? Because my mother and I measured as the exact same size: 5 length, C/D width. We do indeed have the same length foot; however, we have NEVER worn the same shoe size. As in, if she buys a pair of shoes that fit, it's guaranteed that those shoes will not fit me. (I still throw them on when running out to the garage, but they flop around and are clearly too big.)

And furthermore, neither of us wears a size 5 wide (thankfully!). I wear 5M and am sometimes able to size up to 5.5M; in narrow-cut shoes, my toes get squished, but wide sizes are universally too big for my instep. My mom wears 6/6.5W or 7M; she does fit wide sizes but often just buys a size up for convenience. In sneakers she can fit a 6.5M easily.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why you have to try on shoes. And everything else that goes on your body.
Took a day off on Friday and went shopping at the outlets with my mother.  I snagged an amazing deal at Banana Republic Factory, which was running BOGO free on all clearance items: trouser jeans and a cardigan for $17 total. (Plus, no tax on clothes in PA.)

I also poked around J. Crew for a bit without seeing anything worthwhile, and Fossil for a long time at the pretty bags. Some good prices at the Fossil store, including 50% off certain clearance items--bringing one leather bag that I seriously considered down to only $40--but I'm still in love with the Lola Patchwork Hobo. The smaller version has a top zip, and I saw the larger version in-store at KOP and it's not large enough for textbooks anyway.

Other stores with good sales: Easy Spirit had a ton of shoes on promo for $15/20/30. Coach Factory was running another extra 30% promotion. Ann Taylor Factory had some decent prices on shirts and well-stocked clearance, though the style is a bit too classic for my taste (my mother picked up a few nice shells). I didn't venture into the Gap Outlet, and ran out of time for the new Talbots outlet at Lancaster (another store with classic, trending-older clothes).

We were there initially to make a return at Calvin Klein, and got merchandise credit because it was past 30 days, so I browsed for a while and tried on a bunch of different pants without finding any that fit perfectly. I did confirm that I'm between a 2 and a 4 in higher-waisted pant styles, that slim-cut styles tend to have a larger, lower waist (= perfect for my body type), and that a 29" inseam is NOT consistent at CK. Also that CK bras don't fit me well at all.


Aaaand in related shopping news, all of my recent online orders came in the mail. I'm very happy with my new Lands' End Canvas bikini, which will be debuted tomorrow. Eek. I ended up pairing the Heritage Mini Dot Bandeau Halter Swim Top (fits my 32AA chest surprisingly well in the XS, though I'll never ever wear it without the strap, and does run small per reviews) with the Heritage Retro Hipster Solid Swim Bottom in the matching Deep Sea color (sized up to an XS although I usually wear XXS at LEC), rather than the mini dot printed bottom. Despite my non-existent chest, I feel more comfortable drawing attention to my shoulders--which look surprisingly broad in a bikini--than my tummy.

Maybe I should have gone for the matching set after all, though. Navy solids are much easier to find later than the exact matching print, and I do feel like my shoulders are a little unbalanced. LE's return policy is such that I could wear the solid bottom tomorrow to the beach and still return it later with no problems... though I feel like this might be slightly unethical.

The Talbots T-strap sandals are less of a sure thing; they look exactly as pictured, but I just find them so bare on my feet; it feels a bit more casual than my ideal flat business-casual sandal. (My office has no official dress code and casual non-flip-flop sandals are definitely OK, but I like to be a little dressier than the bare minimum.) I know I shouldn't keep things I don't love, but I will wear them if I do keep them, and the price ($21 for leather, albeit not very much leather, and a reliable quality brand) is probably unbeatable.

Finally, I received an amazing gray jersey Anthro dress by Yoana Baraschi from an EA Trade Market seller. I expect it to get a ton of wear this summer at work, as it's a forgiving fit with interesting pleat/ruching details and a neutral color. (And unlike my neutral jersey J. Crew dress, which has similar pros, it isn't low-cut enough to require a scarf and doesn't have a funny between-rib-cage-and-waist elastic waistline. I mean, I still wear that dress a lot, but it's not quite effortless for those reasons.) The Baraschi dress is a little big up top when I bend over, but the neckline is modest enough that I can easily wear a cami underneath for coverage, and I expect it will stay put once I layer a cardigan over top.

[Sidebar: I am so going to be shopping for unique Anthro cardigans this winter break.]
 I disagree with many assertions in A Pair & a Spare's Wardrobe Rehab series. Namely: mostly neutrals is boring even with punches of color, and it's wasteful to throw out unworn closet orphans unless you really can't learn to make them work (meaning, actually try to style them before ditching them). And, honestly, I'm not a fan of her style aesthetic; it's too French hipster. Bodysuits, bodycon dresses, high-waisted pants or shorts, and a leather jacket = pieces of clothing that I will happily never own in my life, in all likelihood.

Lest you think me too critical, I'd describe my own style as a schizophrenic mutant child of ultra-feminine and preppy. I like vintage and nautical in small doses (for instance, Anthro's Gull Wing Dress, but only in the solid plum colorway) and cardigans are an amazing layering tool for someone whose blood runs cold; but I've never been able to pull off a blazer, and I hate shirtdresses. My favorite Anthropologie pieces are fitted, girly tops and large watercolor florals. And half of their skirts and dresses, excepting pencil skirts and shirtdresses. Anthro shift dresses, whether structured or shapeless, are my personal form of torture... cf. Splashed Palette Dress (which appears to fit only tall hourglass/rectangle figures with large busts), Artist's Rendering Dress (even the 4 is tight on my waist and absolutely huge on my chest), Diamond Lattice Dress (which ought to work on me but didn't).

However, I do like the idea of keeping a "good" pile when culling the closet, then assessing this pile to determine what does work for your personal style. I hate pulling things off my hangers, but I'm going to do a similar mental and visual assessment:

A-line/full/flowy skirts
fitted wool cardigans (V-/crewneck)
ballet flats
girly patterns
cool colors (e.g. blues, purples, greens)
to be continued!
Anthro's Verdant Slip Dress just came out in a new colorway, teal-ish blue.


Blue colorway on the left, original green (methinks seafoam) colorway on the right. I'm addicted to seafoam green, so I much prefer the original... however, I tried on the Reflecting Pool Dress, which is an exact twin except for the print, and wasn't much enamored with the fit of the slip style. I felt weirdly under- AND over-dressed in a casual, skimpy summer sundress made of silk.

Still, seafoam green floral... I'm tempted to compare it with my seafoam green floral silk scarf, actually. (Thrifted from the amazing Atlantic Canadian chain Frenchy's, the only--and thankfully decent--shopping in rural Nova Scotia.)
Also stopped by Marshalls last night--more cute stuff than I remember, although most of the quality was off-putting to my Anthro-accustomed eye. Tried on a great pair of Joe's dark wash jeans for $40, but they were a size 25/0 and I'm a size 26/2 even when I was 5 lbs. thinner.

I saw a few specific, direct Anthro knock-offs: River Bends Tunic (albeit in turquoise), Filtered Light Tunic, Orchard Grove Pullover. The filtered light one was pretty decent, given that sheer is sheer.
 I stopped by Sears recently and was surprised to find some cute stuff on the clearance racks, under the brand UK Style by French Connection. I'm not sure why French Connection decided to collaborate with Sears, of all places... but there you go. Didn't find anything that fit perfectly enough for me to love it, but definitely cute stuff at good prices.

I was there to return a Lands' End Canvas online order, and I did end up buying a white Lands' End (non-Canvas) boat-neck tee in XS. It fits a bit big, but not too much as-is and I expect the 100% cotton will shrink. It's nice and thick 1x1 rib, not see-through like so many white tees are. And I love boatnecks. Also tried on the coral, but the trendy color plus conservative cut just ended up frumpy. There was a very nautical striped colorway as well, that I deemed TOO nautical but could probably work well for the younger set. $18 with extra 40% off, so it came to $11 for Lands' End's amazing quality and unconditional return policy.

I really wish that my Sears carried the Canvas line, so I could browse it in-person! The 1x1 ribbed LE tops have never caught my eye online, but trying it on, I was sold. Since Sears is not part of my usual shopping rounds, I don't want to make online orders with the expectation of returning most of it.

Another interesting tidbit: I was returning LEC and LE swimwear, but still NWT and hygiene liner attached. Nonetheless, it was automatically tagged with a giant yellow clearance tag and marked as "used," probably to go to an LE outlet. This must make returns a painful extra cost for the retailer! It does, however, make me respect Lands' End that much more.
I recently discovered the fabulous Angie of YouLookFab, and I love most of her advice. However, she is firmly against ankle-length skirts for anyone other than tall women, and I have to say, I disagree.

One of my most-complimented skirts is an Indian "magic wrap" reversible skirt (that can supposedly also be worn as a dress, but I've never figured out how). It hits right around my waist, is super-floaty and sparkly and colorful, and just gorgeous. I like to wear it with a plain, fitted top--I recently purchased a slouchy J. Crew sweater that picks up the golden tones of the mostly blue skirt--to really show off the skirt.

And, I tried it on with heels once--UGH. Does not work at all, because it emphasizes my bare ankles. I think it works with flats despite my height (5'2") because it's so floaty and maxi-like. Love!
 Years ago I bought a pair of plain black slides from the brand Italian Shoemakers (on the box), which were unbranded on the shoe itself. I kind of figured that this brand was just a generic name for knockoff shoes, which made me sad because these are the most cushion-y shoes I've ever owned. They're not the most comfortable ever for standing around for long periods of time, but for periodic walking in an office, they are absolutely perfect.

And, they feel like slippers when you're sitting at the desk. Seriously.

It turns out that Italian Shoemakers is a real brand name, and DSW carries them! Take a look at these reviews for the Melon Wedge Sandal. The stretchy fabric that they use for the upper is really comfy, too. The footbed does run a little narrow, at least on my pair, but I'll gladly accept those trade-offs for heels like slippers.

August 2011

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Seeing personal style through K's eyes.

I'll be chronicling my quest for personal style on a frugally-raised college student's budget. Fitting room reviews, style inspirations, musings/rants about dressing a petite, size-2 apple figure--just whatever is on my mind. I adore the Anthro aesthetic, but rarely pull it off in real life. Same goes for heels and make-up...


Height: 5'2"
Measurements: 31-28-33
Bust: 32A (or 32AA without padding)
Shoes: 5 women's/3 kids, also 5.5 if open-back
True size: 2 with consideration for my waist
Shape: "crabapple"
Ethnicity: Asian = straight black hair (now waist-length for the second time!), boring brown eyes and nonexistent lashes, medium yellow-toned skin

Anthropologie: 2/S dresses (0/XS fits tight), 2/XS tops, 4-6 skirts
J.Crew: XS/0 tops and dresses, 4 skirts
Banana Republic: 2 tops, 4P Sloan bottoms (sometimes 2/2P in other cuts)
H&M: 4/XS tops, 4/S dresses, 6 (sometimes 8) skirts
Forever 21: S tops and dresses, 26 jeans

Resident of the teensy state of Delaware, whose greatest virtue is 0% sales tax!


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