This is my fifth and last week in rural Canada before I return to civilization. Tonight I had to attend a 50's themed dance party, and I hadn't had the chance to go shopping (i.e. thrifting, because the closest mall is 30-45 minutes away and I don't have a car) for appropriate attire. At the last minute, I took off the tights I'd worn under a navy jersey dress and layered a cream ruffle skirt underneath the dress as a mini-crinoline. Topped with my charcoal gray peacoat and a quick tie of a scarf that I'd thrifted in a previous week to the amazing Frenchy's^, I was ready to go.

^Other things I've thrifted from Frenchy's since arriving in Canada include a J.Crew Costine sweater, Ralph Lauren polo, Banana Republic striped tank, NWT Express black satin tank, and a gorgeous seafoam-green vintage silk scarf. Everything is sold in giant bins and priced by item type, no markups for brand names. There are often premium brand jeans, too, although I'm hard to fit in pants so I didn't take a look.

Being on vacation with a limited wardrobe--that wasn't particularly well-packed, as I was in a hurry--and I didn't have a good sense of the finicky, rainy spring weather in Nova Scotia--means that I've had to be creative (and, at times, just repeat super-casual outfits) with my style. For instance, I paired a mustard yellow J.Crew Costine sweater, oversized and the first yellow clothing item I can remember purchasing, with navy Aeropostale sweats. And y'know, it worked.

This time around, I love the look of this skirt as a crinoline/slip, especially since I've wanted to own a slip for a while now. (It's on the same impractical-clothing-items wishlist as a corset.) It was a random NY&Co purchase while at school--my friend owns a twin--but has proven to be quite versatile. The matching self-belt is held on by real belt loops and easily detached; it looks great as a ribbon belt over this same solid jersey dress. Plus, the skirt is fun and flirty by itself, has snap buttons down the front for interest if I decide to tuck in my top, AND is machine-washable polyester that has held its shape. And now a modern crinoline. All for $20, originally intended as a trendy way to try out ruffles. This is why I continue to shop at New York and Company: I also own a colorblock jersey skirt from several years ago that I've worn to death fabric-wise but STILL get compliments on. I often walk through NY&Co without finding anything that I like, but when pieces work, they really work.

Specs (photo pending, but under terrible lighting):
* J.Crew Drift dress in Shadow
  - currently available in teal Agate, size L (popback)
  - I own it in size XS; I also got the XXS in the same online order for fitting purposes because I am often sized out of J.Crew non-petite tops (and everything else that doesn't involve an accurate waist measurement), but it was a teensy bit smaller in the waist and had the same slightly-too-long bust to shoulder length.
* New York & Company cream ruffle skirt, size 4
* White Mountain Outfitters black leather knee-high boots, size 6
  - ordered from Amazon
  - The leather on these boots is really soft and very easily scratched, but I'm OK with that look. They are super versatile and when they die in a few years--I bought them for pretty cheap, under $30--I am definitely going to pick up another pair of flat black leather knee-high boots. I'd like to find a similar type of pair in brown, too.
* London Fog charcoal gray wool peacoat, size PXS
  - purchased in-store from Macy's, on sale with coupon
  - sleeves actually fit!
* Jones New York silk crepe moss green floral scarf
  - thrifted from Frenchy's for $1

Not pictured:
* Citizen Eco-Drive stainless steel, diamond, and mother-of-pearl watch
  - ~$300, gift from relative, purchased at Kay Jewelers
  - from last year, similar to the Silhouette Diamond but with a rectangular face
  - I adore this watch and wear it every day (though I always wear a watch every day). My skin turns green in the presence of copper, including when mixed into base metals, so the stainless steel strap was a must. It doesn't overwhelm my frame, and since it's link-based, I got it shortened for free to actually fit my 6" wrist. The surface has some scratches because I wear it every day and don't baby it, but the diamonds are all still firmly set in place and so far the no-battery-replacement claim seems to be true.
* Pink floral hair clip holding bun together, gift from relative while visiting in China
One trick I've found that works pretty well with clothes is to compare with Anthropologie: would I rather pass on this $30 trendy sundress and put it toward an $80 sale Anthro dress, or a $30 top at first cut? Usually, YES. I already have plenty of cheap sundresses in my closet, and I love the quirky, quality aesthetic of Anthro pieces. I don't see a ton of Anthro at my college, either, although I might just be hanging with the wrong crowd.

The challenge is only buying Anthro pieces that are appropriate for my lifestyle. For example, I adore the Overwhelmed Aster Dress, but the poofy crinoline makes it only appropriate for parties. I have way too many semi-formal dresses already in my closet. I keep going back and forth on the Verdant Slip Dress, which will certainly not make sale and comes in my favorite seafoam green color... I think it's a pass, pending try-on for amazing fit. The straight slip cut will fit but not flatter me, and I'm tired of dresses that require a strapless bra. (My strapless is far from my most flattering push-up, and it tends to slip down throughout the day.) The Eyeleted Corset Top is work-appropriate with a cardigan, but the colors are all brand-new to my wardrobe so I'd need to buy MORE pieces (like the lovely Anadyomene/Seashell Cardigan that the Anthro SA brought me to try on with the top) in order to make it work.

Recently, I've been thinking and comparing to the Anthro skirts that I ordered from the tag sale. $30 for an Anthro skirt or $30 for a sundress from Kohls (or H&M or F21)? I have a few H&M pieces that I love and are well-made, but in general, the quality difference is obvious. I also need to stay away from stores with a style that doesn't fit me and/or high prices for the quality: i.e. Express (except for their jeans, which I love), Forever 21, Urban Outfitters (returned a cardigan once for ridiculous stretching in the sleeves after just one wear), and others. Aeropostale clothes too, nowadays, though they still have good basics and I may pick up another sturdy fabric tote on sale. I can never resist wandering through F21 and UO, even though the clothes are always way too short and too tight at the waist. I've found that my "trend" price point is somewhere around $10-15, such as for a maxi dress; that means I'm limited to H&M and F21, which is fine. It will be a fun hunt!

Shoes are also on my purge-and-invest list. I've been searching forever for a pair of mid-heel black leather pumps. Being a size 5 makes it more difficult than usual. I have a ton of shoes stored away in boxes, but only wear the ones that are out on the floor at a given time. For Prom, I bought a pair of 4-inch silver heels, which I wore only once more at a photo shoot. However, the shoes look smashing in those photos, so they were worth it despite being horribly uncomfortable. Everyone needs one pair of impractical high heels.

Random sidebar: I can never remember the brands of my shoes. Clothes and bags are easy, most of my jewelry is non-branded, I don't own enough belts to make it difficult... but shoes, packed away in boxes, and in the downstairs coat closet instead of my own? They're tough. For example, I think those 4-inch heels were by Chinese Laundry because of the gorgeous box, but I'm not really sure.

August 2011

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About

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...

SIZING REFERENCE:

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

SPECIFIC BRANDS:
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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