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.
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.)
 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!
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!
For some reason, every style guide I've ever read assumes that if a woman 1) is petite, and 2) has narrow hips, then 3) she must have a lovely, small waist just waiting to be shown off. Uh, no?

My present measurements are 28.5" waist, 34" hips. That's with "hips" verging dangerously close to the top of my thighs, rather than my actual hipbone. And on every retail size chart I've seen, including those of high-end designers, I have a size 6 waist but size 0 hips. Did I mention my (realistically) 32AA chest?

Yep, I'm pretty much cut like a pre-pubescent girl. But I'm not a tiny petite, either; recently I tried on a blouse at Ann Taylor LOFT in size XXSP, and the armholes were too tight.

What to do? For now, I'm buying more belts and bravely trying out this defined-waist look, although I've been self-conscious about my tummy pooch since before puberty (my little sister has the exact same shape, so I suspect it's inherited from my dad). I've even considered defining myself as an apple, but my ribcage and hips are just barely larger than my middle--plus, whoever heard of a 120 lb., size 2 apple figure?

EDIT: Newsflash! The beautiful and tiny Chloe of The Chloe Conspiracy recently described herself as, in fact, a size 2 apple figure! And her term, "Buddha-belly," is exactly spot-on for me. Would be so weird if we were size twins, since her blog is VERY well-read in the blogosphere and I've just ventured out of lurkdom.

I vaguely recall someone else with 27-35 measurements who described herself as straight-figured/no-waist. That was kind of depressing, since I fluctuate between 28-33 and 29-34. Chloe is literally THE only person I've met (online, obviously, since fruit shape and measurements aren't exactly dinner conversation 'round my parts) who has identified as an apple shape and not also plus-sized or even in the upper range of normal sizes.
The short and sweet version: Fossil Lola Patchwork Convertible Large Hobo with a metal top zipper that sits just inside the top edge (hidden from sight) and maybe a few large exterior pockets.

What I love:
* Top zipper for security, but not out in plain sight at the very top of the bag. Bonus points for sturdy metal construction.
* Interior organizational pockets, both zipped and open.
* 3-4" depth is the sweet spot.
* Large enough to fit my 15" laptop (snugly in a pinch), or else a binder, notebook, and paperbacks.
* Structured to sit upright when half-full and placed on the ground (slouchy is OK, I just don't want toppling).
* Adjustable cross-body strap is a MUST. Bonus points for ONE shoulder handle.
* Leather material.
* Ideal price point is $100 on sale; up to $200 for the perfect bag.
* Bold, cool color in a jewel tone is a big plus! I especially like teal and purple. Or the great mix of colors on Fossil's patchwork design.

What I detest:
* Exterior flap pockets, which are always too small. I tend to overload them and unbalance the bag.
* Suede isn't waterproof, canvas wears out (I learned from experience), nylon is ugly.
* Two short handles, because they are hard to drape when wearing cross-body.
* Blatant logo branding, i.e. Coach signature bags.
* Easy brand recognition, i.e. Longchamp Le Pliage (though that is unstructured nylon anyway).

I am still considering whether I want to get a large 15x13-ish cross-body tote... is that too much for a 5'2" gal?
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
Via Sal at Already Pretty: I love Fashion for Nerds's post on embracing her straight, curve-less shape. And she has some great resource links in the sidebar, which I will definitely read through tomorrow!

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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