Reviewing the Reviews

Sometimes, when I read other review bloggers, I wonder what happens to the stuff they rate highly. Do they end up keeping it and wearing it? Or, does it end up in the back of their closet or cosigned/donated/trashed within a few months or years? To that end, I thought it might be worthwhile to look back at a few of my reviews over the years and give an update on the stuff I really liked, from pencil skirts to shorts, and let you know what happened to them.

pencil skirt

J.Crew Seersucker Pencil Skirt

Remember this (it’s totally fine if you don’t)? I got the seeksucker skirt from J.Crew when it was on sale for $59.99 – 40%. A week or so later, J.Crew took 75% off sale prices, so the pencil skirt went down to $15. Annoying.

At any rate, I mentioned that I got an 8 in my review and that it was too big. I didn’t think the slightly oversized fit would be an issue. But, guess what: it was. So, I ended up selling it after a few wares. I found the skirt difficult to style because it was so loose and long. Plus, the lavender color was so light it was almost not even worth calling the skirt lavender.

All in all, a purchase I regret.

pencil skirt

Anthropologie Telephone Print Pencil Skirt

Good god, people, I loved this skirt. It made it into my fall capsule and I wore it a lot – despite the eye-catching, vibrant print. But, here’s the sad thing about the skirt. It was just not very well made. The lining – made of acetate – ripped the first time I wore it. I stitched it up, but. . .

I had thought the skirt was dry clean only, then I rechecked the label. It was washable! So, I washed it, using cold water, and line dried it. Things didn’t go well. The hem fell out, so I stitched it up.

Then, I packed it away for winter, thinking all was fine, only to find, when spring rolled around, that the little spin in the washer had not only made the   hem come undone. It had also shrunk that stupid acetate lining. The skirt was now too tight, at least in the lining.

Sadness of sadness. But, unlike the J.Crew pencil skirt, I don’t regret purchasing the telephone pencil skirt. I just wish that it had had a longer life.

Banana Republic_Marimekko_Kivet_Shorts

Banana Republic/Marimekko Shorts

Given that Target has recently launched its own collaboration with Marimekko, it seemed like a good time to look back at my first review for  this blog, of a couple of pairs of shorts from Banana Republic’s collaboration with Marimekko. I was pretty happy with the shorts at the time of purchase, and probably pretty ecstatic about getting them, since the collection sold out so quickly.

Flash forward a year or so, and I only have one pair (the black and white dots pictured above) left. I sold the other pair to ThredUP, because I didn’t wear them all that much. I’m actually  not so sure about hanging on to the black and dots either, because there’s something about printed shorts that just screams suburban to me. We’ll see what happens this summer. I’ll most likely end up selling them if I don’t find myself wearing them all that much.

Do I regret the shorts? No, since I did get a season or two’s worth of wear out of them. Would I say they are my style and buy them again? No.

Kate_Spade_Saturday_peplum_dress

Kate Spade Saturday Sleeveless Peplum Dress

Aw, man. Kate Spade Saturday. My heart kind of misses the brand, which closed last year, but my wallet is kinda happy about it. I  tried on the black version of the sleeveless peplum dress during a visit to the brand’s store in Soho. I really wanted the purple, but they were sold out of it. After trying to convince me to get the black, or to get the purple skirt version, I ended up leaving empty  handed.

But! I did end up getting the dress, in purple (er, grape), just before Saturday shut down for good. And, I love it. The peplum feature is actually two front pockets, so it’s not your basic, boring peplum. The purple color is vibrant, the fit is good, and the dress washes well (line dry, no need for dry cleaning, although you can, if you prefer).

I’m so glad I waited to get the purple dress and didn’t settle for the skirt or get the version in black.

Reviewing the Review count: 5 garmets

Still in my closet: 2

Sold: 2

Fell apart: 1

Not too bad, but not that great, either

Shopping: Boden Richmond Shorts and Spring Sale

Boden just wrapped up its mid-season sale, so I’ve got a few reviews for you, including the Richmond shorts, colorblock pencil skirt and two cardigans. I actually ordered the shorts way before the sale, but they shipped from the UK and the post office temporarily lost my package, so they arrived just a few days before my sale order. Shipping drama aside, here’s what I thought.

Boden richmond shorts

Richmond Shorts

Shorts? When it’s barely 60 degrees out? I have to admit,I was thinking of my summer capsule (which feels so far away!) when I ordered these.

Boden offers its Richmond shorts in three lengths – 4 inches, 6 inches, and 9 inches. I ordered the 4 inch short in navy spot, in a size 6. I wasn’t sure whether to go with the 6 or 8, but am glad that I picked the 6, as the 8 would have been too big. Once again, Boden’s size guide came in handy (it describes the size 6 as having 31 inch waist and 38 inch hips). The shorts are meant to sit slightly below your natural waist, and these do.

The fabric’s nice and thick and all in all, these are a solid pair of shorts. But, I returned them. I think I want myself to be a person who can pull off shorts, but I always feel like something’s not quite right when I wear them.

richmond shorts

Plus, there’s that. I’ll spare you the full on backside view, but I felt that the shorts definitely made my ass look huge. It might be all the little dots playing tricks on the eyes, but it was definitely not a flattering look.

boden colorblock pencil skirt

Colorblock Pencil Skirt

Can I just say that Boden completely dropped the ball with this colorblock pencil skirt? By which I mean, it’s an amazing skirt and they totally didn’t promote it enough. They didn’t have any of their promised “360 degree views” and this is the catalog image they used for the skirt:

I mean, you look at that and it’s just like, what the hell is going on in that picture. Why is she pressed against the wall? Does she need help?

The reality is, it’s a fantastic piece of clothing. And, it’s now on clearance for just $59 and available in most sizes, so worth it.

Since Boden didn’t really show the skirt off, I will. Here’s one side:

boden colorblock pencil skirt

Here’s another:

Colorblock pencil skirt

And there’s the front if you don’t kick out your leg so that the little bit of mint green shows:

boden colorblock pencil skirt

Size wise, it runs pretty true to Boden’s usual sizing. I’m in an 8, which has a 31 inch waist and 38 inch hips. The waist is a bit wide on me, so the skirt sits just below my natural waist. I was concerned at first that it was going to be too snug in the hips/thighs, but ended up finding it comfortable enough.

The fabric is a heavyish polyester-viscose, with a bit of elasticity. My one complaint is that it does attract some fuzz/dust, but I have a cat now and that’s just what my life has become.

Another concern I had was the versatility of the skirt. I almost got the navy/black/bisque color instead, but I have found the bright blue is more wearable that I though it would be (I’ll have a post on different ways to wear it, soon).

boden cropped cardigan

Favorite Cropped Cardigan

I’ve been interested in trying  Boden’s cropped cardigans for some time now, but was concerned that they’d do that awkward gapping thing across my chest if I wore them buttoned up.

During the sale, even neutral colors like black and navy were discounted a pretty good amount, so I thought, it’s now or never. I ended up ordering an 8, just to reduce the risk of gapping, and I’m pretty glad I did. It might be a little loose on the sides, but I’ll take minimal bagginess over gapping any day.

Although I’m wearing the cardigan hear with a skirt, I think it might be best suited for wearing over dresses, at least on a taller person. It does expose some skin if you lift  your arms up, unless you’re in a very  high waisted skirt.

The fabric, a mix of cotton and nylon, is very soft and fairly substantial. I’ve had cotton/nylon cardigans in the past that were flimsy and that wore out quickly, but I have some high hopes for this one.

boden fifties cardigan

Fifties Cardigan

The fifties cardigan is a more demure, retro style that the favorite cropped cardigan. It’s got fancier buttons, a wider waistband and cuter sleeves. As with the favorite cropped, I got the fifities cardi in an size 8. And, like the favorite cropped, it’s a little loose on the sides, but the bigger size means no gapping at the buttons.

The fabric is a mix of cotton, nylon and silk, which is soft but pretty delicate. After one wear, I did notice some pilling on the sides and sleeves, which annoys me, especially since Boden charges more for this sweater than the favorite.

 

boden_fifties_cardigan_dress

The wide waistband definitely gives the sweater a flattering fit, though, so points for that. Here, I’m wearing it with the Toi Dress from MM LaFleur.

Although the Richmond shorts were a bust for me, I’m pretty happy with my new cardigans and am absolutely thrilled with my skirt.

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Sewing: Moneta Dress (Two Ways)

The Moneta dress has been on my “to sew” list for a long time. I got the pattern back when Colette first released it and at the same time I got the Mabel skirt pattern. I think there were a number of things that kept me from diving in and making the dress, namely concern about how it would fit, concern about the elastic waist, and general laziness.

Moneta dress sleeves

In the end, I made two versions of the dress, the sleeveless and the 3/4 sleeve. And, I’m not happy with either.

moneta sleeveless

Why not? Well, for a lot of reasons. Let’s review.

Moneta Dress Review

Fabric: The pattern calls for a medium or lightweight knit jersey, baby rib knit, ITY, double knit or French terry. I used a French terry for the sleeved Moneta dress and a lightish weight jersey for the sleeveless dress. Although the pattern calls for 2.5 yards of 60 inch fabric for both versions (for sizes s, m, and l), I found that I used much less than that and had AMPLE fabric left over after cutting both.

Cutting: I hate cutting patterns. Moneta wasn’t too bad, you need two pieces for the bodice, two for lining (for the sleeveless version only, six for the collar, and two for sleeves. I omitted the pockets on both dresses, so didn’t worry about those. I used the skirt pattern for the sleeveless dress, but then cut my own for the sleeveless.

Construction: OK, so sometimes you read the pattern directions and you’re just like, hm. Why would you do it that way? The armhole construction for the sleeveless Moneta is just weird. I’ve never seen that way of doing it before. You’re supposed to line up the boding and lining with wrong sides together, then the edge of the armholes in 3/8 inch, then reach between the bodice and lining, pinch them together and pull. I mean, it worked, but it was tricky.

My other construction issue was with the waistband. You’re supposed to gather the waist, using clear elastic. I’ve never done that before and after having elastic smack in the face several times while I tried to sew, I gave and decided on the pleats.

You  might notice that the green Moneta dress has a belt. I added that feature because the waist area looked like a hot mess. I hand sewed the belt to the dress to cover up my shoddy work.

As for the hem – well, the pattern calls for using a twin needle to hem the skirt. I thought using white thread would be a great idea, but it looks terrible.

moneta dress

Fit: I adjusted the pattern to get a better fit. I increased the waist to a medium, because I had a sense that the small (which has negative ease and a finished circumference of 24 inches) would be too tight. In some ways, I was right. The fit of the pattern really depends on the type of fabric you use. The French terry is super stretchy and the dress ended up being a little too big. The neckline also stretched out a lot and is way oversized.

But, the sleeveless version is actually a bit snug, even though I didn’t adjust the pattern between making the sleeved and sleeveless version. Milly (my dress form) is wearing it now and it was a challenge to get it on her.

In all, if you  make a Moneta, I’d say to keep the amount of stretch in your fabric in mind. The pattern doesn’t really seem to account for the fact that there is varying stretch across knits and makes no recommendation as far as how much stretch you want in the fabric, which I think is a bit weird.

Consensus: I feel like I wasted my time (and fabric) making both versions of the Moneta dress. I’m not terribly happy with either of them. That fawn fabric is so cute and I know I’m not going to wear the dress (it is quite tight).

I think I’m finished with Collete patterns, at least for the time being. Everything I make from them turns out not quite right in some way, and I’m not sure if it’s them or me. But, I think it might be them.

Capsule Wardrobes Don’t Have to Be Boring

capsule wardrobes

As with any trendy thing that gets big on the Internet, there’s been a bit of a backlash against capsule wardrobes of late. Hey, even I wrote up a piece on how they aren’t a cure-all. The latest complaint seems to be that capsules are limiting and boring. That if you make a capsule you’re stuck wearing the same black-gray-name another neutral color here combos day in and day out.

Of course, it’s entirely possible to make a capsule that’s totally boring. Some people like being boring when it comes to dressing and are perfectly happy wearing the same plain clothes everyday.

I’m not one of them, and I don’t  think a lot of people are. But, I also don’t think capsule wardrobes are by definition boring. What I do think is that it’s about having an idea of what you like, then finding ways to have those items work in multiple areas of your closet.  capsule wardrobe outfit spring

Not a Boring Outfit 1

Case in point, the outfit above. It’s made out of two frequently worn pieces in my capsule, an emerald green pencil skirt from Banana Republic (they seem to have discontinued this style, at least in the rainbow of colors, but here’s a similar one) and a printed button down from J.Crew Factory (similar). I’ve had both of these pieces for years now. They’re definitely not neutral colors, but I still manage to get plenty of wear from them:

capsule_collage

In fact, the patterned button up has been in each of my seasonal capsules so far. The pencil’s been in the fall and spring capsule wardrobes, because it’s unlined and just not warm enough to wear in winter.

Are Capsule Wardrobes Stressful?

Two things inspired me to write this post. One was the sea of “X things every woman needs in her capsule wardrobe” posts around the Internet and the general notion that your capsule needs to fit into a set model, and the other was this post on the Financial Diet, bemoaning capsule wardrobes as a source of stress.

I understand that everyone’s different, but part of the reason why I started capsuling was to cut down on the stress of a too-full closet. Putting a limit in place (rotating through 35 or so pieces each season) keeps me from just acquiring clothing that I think I like, but then don’t wear and then feel guilty about not wearing. I can understand that a capsule would be stressful if  you’re doing it to try to fit into some mold you think you should fit into, rather than doing it to help yourself develop your own sense of style and to figure out what you really like to wear.

In short, if you’re  considering a capsule because you think it will transform you into some magical being who’s got everything figured out, don’t. You won’t end up happy and your wardrobe will only make you feel lacking. But, if you’ve got a problem with excessive consumption, have limited space in your home, or want to focus on wearing clothes that actually  make you happy, a capsule might be the best thing to ever happen to your closet.

Shopping: Everlane Slim Cotton Crew T and Pima Tank

Finding a good, decent T-shirt is surprisingly tough. For years, I bought Gap tees, but then they changed the fit and things just weren’t right. Then, I switched to J.Crew’s painter tees or vintage tees, but they fell apart way too easily or stretched out and are all now in my pajamas drawer.

All this is to say that I was going into spring with a dearth of basic, simple T-shirts. Enter Everlane (that’s a referral link). The company is known for being more transparent about where its stuff is made and how much it actually costs to produce it. It also specializes in basics such as T-shirts and button front shirts. I’ve reviewed a few products from them before and did like them. Since then, the company’s released a few more products, including clothing that has a slimmer cut (a lot of their tees were previously boxy or loose fitting, which doesn’t suit me). I recently ordered the slim cotton crew T-shirt in olive green and the Pima stretch tank in white. Here’s what I thought:

slim cotton crew t

Slim Cotton Crew T (Olive)

Green’s my favorite color, so I went with the olive version of the slim cotton crew t-shirt. I’m in a size small, and I’d say it fits pretty true to size. Everlane provides product measurements for its shirts, so I used that information (a small is 13 1/8 inches across the shoulder and 16 3/4 across the chest) to pick a size. Although my photo is at a strange angle, it is doing the nice blousy, casual thing when tucked in. I really like the fit and the classic look of the tee. Plus, the color is great.

One thing that’s pretty strange about Everlane’s t-shirts is the length. The shirt is really long (a small is 25 1/4 inches  in length). You have to artfully style it if you aren’t going to wear it tucked in, otherwise the top cuts across your legs in an unflattering way.

The cotton fabric is pretty soft and I think it got a bit softer after washing and drying. It came out of the wash OK — there wasn’t any noticeable shrinkage, although now the collar is doing some sort of weird rolling thing, which I can fix with an iron.

pima stretch tank

Pima Stretch Tank (White)

I used to have this stretchy, smooth fitting white tank top from Banana Republic. But, it wore out after years of wear, so I needed to replace it with something similar. The Pima stretch tank from Everlane is close, but not quite the same. For one thing, it’s really long. It’s also got a much more casual, deep scoop neckline.

But, I still like it. It’s a bit see-through (it is a white tank, after all), but not immodest if you wear a nude bra with it. The fabric is thin, soft and stretchy. The tank (and others in their Pima stretch line) is made in Peru, at a factory that specializes in working with Pima cotton. Aside from the quality of their clothing and the price point, one of the things I really like about Everlane is that you can read all about the factories they work with and see photos of the facilities on their website.

I did order a third T-shirt, the Pima stretch mid-sleeve in black, but it’s on backorder (until June???). I hope it ships before then, since it’s going to get too hot here to wear anything with sleeves pretty soon.

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