Shopping: Flares

Apparently, Madewell had its first ever sample sale in New York this past week. As it turns out, I was also in New York this past week, but I didn’t find out about the sale until I got home yesterday. But, I did have a chance to drop in to the store in SoHo and browse around a bit with a friend.

The Madewell store in New York is a bit bigger than the one in Philly, or at least, it seems bigger because it is two floors. What I know for sure is this: it had the Flea Market Flares, which I have wanted to try on for some time now, and the Philly doesn’t (or  at least, they didn’t).

Remember back in the middle of what we’re now calling the aughts, when bootleg jeans gave way to skinnies? Those were dark times for me, at least when it came to pants and jeans. I hate skinny jeans. They look awful on me and they are very uncomfortable. Although bootlegs were hard to find and people actually made fun of them, I kept on wearing them throughout the skinny  jeans dark ages. I know what is flattering and what makes my large thighs look better proportioned to the rest of my legs.

I got pretty excited when the runways started featuring 70’s styles this year and  when the first rumblings started to be heard that flares were back. Oh, thank heavens. Can we all move on from skinnies now? Can we agree that they aren’t a universally flattering look?


Here’s the trouble: neither are flares. Like skinnies, you’ll probably look amazing in flares if you don’t have large thighs. But, if your thighs are your biggest area on your entire body, like mine are, the proportions will look off. These jeans don’t really look very flared, more like puddly.


Length might also be an issue, too. While skinnies went the short route, usually with inseams less than 30 inches, flares assume you’ll be wearing heels. The flea market flares have a 34 inch inseam, which with their high rise (these sat near my waist), meant that they just skimmed the floor when I was barefoot. Maybe the whole silhouette would have worked better if I had a pair of heels to wear, but really, what’s the point in changing your entire wardrobe and style (I hate heels) just to wear a single pair of jeans?


One thing I did learn from my recent trip to Madewell: I love the Anthem tank. More on that to come.

Shopping: J.Crew Crazy Sale

Last week, J.Crew had a “sale of the day” thing going on. The first day was X amount off of shorts or something, the second day X amount off of swim, and the third day was between 50 and 60 percent off of marked down sale styles. I stopped paying attention after the third day, so I don’t know what days 4 and 5 were.

Woooo! The excitement was palpable. The powers that be at J.Crew might complain about “sale shoppers,” but by marking stuff down so, so much, they really aren’t dissuading us from shopping them on sale, and really, only on sale. So much on sale you have to wonder what the company is paying for the clothes in the first place to have any of this make any sense.

I’ve had my eye on a few items, and I figured last Wednesday was as good a time as any to bite, at more than 50 percent off and without the limitations of final sale. As has been the case lately with J.Crew, most of the things I ordered didn’t work out and will be going back or exchanged. Here’s a quick run down of what worked and what didn’t:

First up, the stitched-down pleated skirt in polka dots. I really, really liked this skirt when I first saw it. I’m a big fan of polka dots and tend to jump at the site of anything with the tiny little dots on it. When the skirt when down to around $45 last week, my thought was “yes, please!”


Except, there were a few issues (there always are). The skirt was a mini that sat above the waist. Although tall sizes were available, the Tall 6 was sold out. Which meant I could lose some off of the waist and go with a Tall 4 or lose some off of the length and go with a regular 6. I went with the regular, which is apparently 18 inches long (I didn’t measure it to confirm).

It’s probably good that I stuck with my regular size instead of going down one for length. The fit of this skirt is a little weird. As the name suggests, the waist area is stitched down, which usually creates a flattering fit and effect. In this case, it just made the waist weirdly misshapen, itchy and heavy.

Close up of stitching detail
Close up of stitching detail

While the waistband is actually a little loose around my real waist, the stitching makes the skirt a bit too snug around the area between my waist and hips. The skirt just feels strange on, being both too tight and too loose at the same time. There’s also something weird going on with the lining, as it’s a bit more snug that the rest of the skirt. Lengthwise, the regular version of the skirt is just a bit too short for my 5’10” self. Although I was really excited about the skirt on paper, in reality, it’s a bit of a mess and I’m going to return it.

Next: the Perfect Shirt in Green Crinkle Plaid. I never have any idea of what size to get in J.Crew’s shirts. I’m usually drowning in a 6 while their 4’s usually give me some problems in the shoulders and armholes. So, I went with a  6 in this one.


As you can see, it’s quite big, both in the arms and the body. I do feel as if I’m swimming in the shirt, but I also like it, because I really like green and I really like plaid. I got in touch with customer service at J. Crew and they let me exchange it for a 4, at the  same price that I paid for the first size ($35 after the 50 percent discount). We’ll have to see how the 4 fits. Fingers crossed that it’ll work out.


On a different note, the shirt looks OK when tucked in, probably because I am taking all of that extra fabric and shoving it into the waistband of my skirt. The sleeves are still too long and puffy.

Finally, the winner of this J. Crew order: the ladder stitch silk shell. I got this in a purple color in a size 4, because the size 6 was sold out and I really wanted purple. Purple seems to be sold out in all sizes now, so I’m glad I was able to order it when I did because it was the only item in the order that truly sparked joy. There’s also a champagne and a blue color, and I may just go back for those.

jcrew_ladder_stitch_shellThe shirt looks great tucked in or left hanging out, as seen above. I really love the color and the quality of the silk is pretty decent, for J. Crew. It’s not the best silk I’ve ever seen, but it’s miles and away better than some of their other “silk” tops I’ve tried on lately.


Some might object to the ladder stitch detailing across the front. It is see-through, and if you stare at it, you can see a trace of bra strap through the stitching. I don’t really care about that, as it’s pretty subtle, and you really have to be staring at a person to notice it. But, if that’s something that bothers you, you can go with a nude bra or just throw on a cardigan or blazer.

So, it wasn’t a perfect order. But, I managed to find 1 (and a half – we’ll see how the new size works) items that I really liked. Given the issues that have plagued J. Crew recently and my other recent strike outs, that’s not that bad.


Shopping: Anthropologie Telephone Print Pencil Skirt

telephone pencil skirt anthropologie

Although I’ve always enjoyed whimsical and quirky clothing choices, until recently, I’ve never purchased anything from Anthropologie, a store known for whimsical and quirky clothing. Part of the reason for that is that I’m just not quick enough. I’ll often see something I like on offer, put it on my wish list, only to find that it’s sold out the next time I go back to look.


I don’t remember when I first noticed the telephone printed Clementina Pencil Skirt, but it was a while ago. I thought it was cute, and I really love old style telephones, but I didn’t really want to drop $118 on it. Flash forward several months, and it’s Memorial Day weekend. The skirt was on sale, plus an extra 20 percent off (in case you haven’t noticed by now, I am an unrepentant sale shopper).

After much hemming and hawing over what size to get, I went one size up, to an 8. Some of the reviews said it ran large, some said it ran small, so I figured it was better to play it safe and go up a size. It wasn’t in stock at the store in Philly, so I couldn’t go and try it on first.

It’s actually fine. I think a 6 would have been too tight in the thigh and would have shown off a bit too much, while the 8 is flattering, but not revealing. It’s a bit loose in the waist, but I’d rather have a somewhat loose waist than too tight thighs and hips.


Here’s a close-up of the print and the side of the skirt. They didn’t do a super good job of lining up the print, as you can see some of the telephones are eaten by the seam. It’s actually a bit worse in the back, but since I’m sitting on it most of the day, it’s less noticeable. There’s also an exposed zipper, but it’s short and I guess I really have to pick my battles here.

Sadly, the telephone print version of the skirt is sold out. But, at the time of writing, a bright yellow tile pattern is available. It might not be as silly and charming as the phones, but looking at the photos, it looks like the pattern actually lines up.

Sewing: #MMMay2015 Wrap-Up

sorbetto tank tops

I’ll admit it: I didn’t have a productive “me made May.” That photo up there, of the two shirts, is the sum total of what I made last month. Two Sorbetto tops, made without the pleat. The blue has bias tape binding while the houndstooth has elastic on the edges The interesting thing about those two tops is that both began life as different pieces of clothing, which I also made and decided I wasn’t a fan of.


As you can see, I originally made the light blue arrow print fabric (a cotton lawn cast-off from Marc Jacobs) into a dress. Although it was pretty comfortable and light and breezy for wearing in the summer, I wasn’t a huge fan of the it. I didn’t like the elastic empire waist or the narrow skirt. So, I cut it up and turned it into a top.

houndstooth skirt

The houndstooth print shirt, which was is made from a cotton jersey knit and features elastic on the armholes, neckline, and hem, was originally a skirt that I absolutely fcked up. So I cut it up and transformed it into a shirt.

Houndstooth sorbetto top close up

Here’s a close-up of the elastic edging on the neck and arms. You can see the serger in the background, but I didn’t use it for this shirt. Instead, I did a simple zig-zag stitch with French seams. I used French seams on the blue top, too, since that’s my favorite way to create a finished edge. It looks very neat and professional and doesn’t take that much more time than finishing a seam with a serger or zigzag stitch.

I still have a few sewing projects in the works, including the Violet top, which I’ve mentioned before, and another version of the pleated skirt that I messed up so well earlier. The Violet top is coming along nicely, I just need to attach the sleeves, buttons and hem it.