Shopping: Madewell’s Finch Flats

Madewell’s Finch Flats

After several months of not really buying anything (!), I recently fell moderately in love with Madewell’s Finch Flats, in the willow green color. These are so unpractical, I told myself. They’re light green suede; they’ll be ruined the second I wear them outdoors.

You can get protective spray for suede, one of my friends pointed out.

Indeed, I can. So I ordered them, in my usual size 10, when they were 15 % off.

And…they were too big.

Let’s pause here and reflect on how that never happens. I’m usually struggling to cram my feet into ballet flats. But these were very loose, even with socks on. Without socks, I had about a half inch of space between the heel of my foot and the heel of the shoe.

Madewell does make these in a 9.5, which is a rarity, but I’m on the fence/too lazy to exchange them for that half size down, since the shoes are online only.

Another issue, the toe cap was short enough that, without socks on (and these do look funny with socks, by the way), you can see the spaces between my toes. Toe cleavage, I think they call it, but that’s a disgusting term. Anyway, it’s weird to see the spaces between your toes in shoes. I’d rather that not happen.

And one more issue – there’s no cushion in the sole of the shoe. I think I’m spoiled by Banana’s memory foam ballet flats (RIP) or by the very cushy soles of my Nisolo loafers, but I just can’t do with that any padding at all.

So, in sum: Madewell’s Finch Flats are pretty, nicely made, but run big and aren’t for me.

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.

Reviewed in this post:

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.

Reviewed in this post:

Shopping: J.Crew Circle Mini Skirt in Crepe and “Flouncy” Skirt

Thanks to the ravages of time and general wear and tear (RIP, pleated BCBG skirt, 2010-2016), my wardrobe was missing a basic black skirt. I had one skirt “gap” in my spring capsule wardrobe and I wanted to fill it with a flared or circle skirt.

I saw that J.Crew had a circle mini skirt in crepe and I thought it would be just the thing, though I was concerned about the length. I was also a bit wary because was online only and my experience with the ‘Crew lately (like so many other people’s) has been anything other than great.

After a pretty fruitless search at Century 21 and a local consignment store one weekend, I decided I might as well go ahead and order the circle skirt. It was on promo, so $10 off the full price, plus there was a 30% off sale promo going on. The second skirt in my order was definitely a whim and I probably should have left well enough alone.

circle mini skirt in crepe

Circle Mini Skirt in Crepe (Black)

I had a few concerns about the circle mini skirt. One, would it, at just 17.5 inches long, be too short? Two, would the grosgrain waistband be flimsy?

As far as concern one goes, the jury is still kinda out. I mean, yeah, look at it, it’s short. I’m 5’10” and it’s probably five inches above my knees. But, it’s hardly scandalous, right? If you’re the type not to wear skirts shorter than knee-length, this is not going to work for you. I’m a little iffy about it with bare legs, but I’ll probably change my tune when things warm up.

Circle mini skirt

Meanwhile, I think it looks perfectly fine with opaque tights. A part of that is probably because you can’t see my weird looking knees when I have the tights on.

J.Crew Circle mini skirt

Another nice feature, as far as length is concerned, is that it seems to dip down slightly in the back, so the back side is a bit longer than the front. I don’t know if that’s super clear in the photo, but it’s visible in real life.

Let’s talk fabric and construction. I once had a skirt from J.Crew that had a grosgrain ribbon waistband. It was so flimsy, because it was literally just a ribbon. It would bend and bunch and I wasn’t impressed. The ribbon waistband on the circle mini skirt is double thickness and it feels as if there’s a bit of interfacing between the ribbons, so it’s pretty durable. I can’t see it bending or bunching or whatever.

The fabric is a poly/viscose/elastane blend. It’s got some texture to it and a soft hand. I’d be afraid my cat would snag it, but he snags everything, so that’s not really an issue. The skirt is lined, which adds some heft to it.

When I hear phrases like “circle skirt,” and don’t actually see what the garment looks like, I envision a skirt that’s been cut in the shape of a circle. That’s not so much the case with this one. It’s got swing and movement, but those come from the godet panels that are sewn into it. There’s a lot that’s circular about the skirt, it’s just that in my mind, it doesn’t live up to what I traditionally think of as a circle skirt.

Oh! I almost forgot. Sizing. This is a 6. I’d say it’s pretty true to size. It fits comfortably right at my navel and the hips aren’t too snug or loose.

After so many misses at J.Crew lately, I’m so happy to have skirt that seems well made and that fits my needs.

Speaking of misses . . .

j.crew flouncy striped skirt

Flouncy Striped Skirt

Marvel at that hot mess of a skirt. I saw the flouncy striped skirt when I was about to order the circle mini skirt and I thought, eh, looks cute, might as well give it a try.

When it arrived and I pulled it out of the packaging, my first thought was, hello vanity sizing! It was a 6, but it was the largest 6 I’d ever seen.

Case in point:

J.Crew Flouncy striped skirt

 

I’m trying to show how much extra room there is in the waist while also looking like a model in a commercial about weight loss.

So, it’s huge, it adds like 20 pounds, what else is wrong with it? Does it need to have anything else wrong with it?

Construction and materials-wise, it’s made from woven cotton and has a poly lining. The pleats were all wrinkled when the skirt arrived, so I’d imagine they’d be a pain to keep neat and flat.

So, J.Crew, you’ve had one hit and one (among many) misses this time around.

Reviewed in this post:

Shopping: MM LaFleur Toi Dress Review

Sometimes, you see a dress and you just know it’s the perfect thing for you. That’s how it was for me with the Toi Dress in Sage from MM LaFleur. The company released their Unsuitable Collection, I saw the dress, and fell instantly in love. I used some of my tax return (first one in five years!) to buy it and the Sant Ambroeus Jardigan in deep indigo.

I’m super happy with both; let’s take a look at why.

Toi Dress in Sage

toi dress

Let’s start with fit. As a mostly flat-chested, sort-a pear, I sometimes have difficulty getting dresses to fit right. If they fit in the bust, they tend to be too snug in the hips. If they fit in the hips, they tend to be too large in the chest area and I look like someone playing dress-up. In a 6, the Toi dress is pretty much perfect. It fits well in the bodice and since it’s a full, flared skirt, there’s no problem in the hip area.

It also manages to get the balance right in terms of the flare. I have a few fit-and-flare dresses and they either too voluminous in the skirt, adding weight or too loose in the bodice and too full in the skirt, also adding weight. Or, the waist on the dresses is slightly off, so I don’t look quite right. Not so with the Toi.

toi dress back and side

The seaming and construction of the dress is also phenomenal. The waist seam dips down slightly in the back, creating a flattering shape. There’s a rolled hem, and the darts are in the right spot (at least on me). The fabric is a lightweight wool and the whole thing was made in NYC. I can’t get a good photo of the seams and lining inside, but they are sturdy.

mmlafleur_toi_dress_closeup

 

Sant Ambroeus Jardigan

I’ve mentioned before that I’m kind of over cardigans. They serve a purpose, in that they keep me warm, but they tend to look a bit dowdy. I think it’s because I don’t have many that are cropped, so when I wear them with a dress they look frumpy. Although I like blazers, I often feel that they are too stiff or that they just don’t work with the shape of what I’m wearing.

Enter the Jardigan. This is it in deep indigo and this is what the color looks like if you take a photo with the flash.

mm lafleur toi dress and jardigan

It’s a heavy, structured knit jacket+cardigan made out of rayon. I’d say it almost feels scuba-y, but not so plastic-like and it is still a knit.

As a neat trick, the jardigan comes with easy-to-remove shoulder pads (I’m wearing it with the shoulder pads in the photo). Inside, there’s a flap with a small opening that snaps into the shoulder. You can undo the snap and take out the pads if you want.

I’m in a medium here, and the fit is decent. It sits close to the body, but isn’t too snug in the shoulders or arms.

All in all, I’m very happy with both purchases and hope to get a lot of wear out of them in the years to come.

 

 

Spring Capsule Wardrobe

March started to come in like a lamb, but then changed its mind and came in like that proverbial lion, bringing with it crazy gusty winds and somewhat chilly temperatures. Ah well, I was committed to switching over to my spring capsule wardrobe, so switch over I did.
spring capsule wardrobe

I made a few changes to my rules for this season. Since it’s dress season, I decided to have a separate section for not everyday dresses. That way, I’m not giving a spot in my wardrobe to a dress that I might only wear a few times. Solid color, day dresses did get included in my capsule, though. I also decided not to include outerwear, since again, as the temperatures warm up, I’ll be less likely to wear a coat or jacket outdoors. I did include blazers, though.

All told, I ended up picking a collection of 37 items, six of which might be new additions to my closet, but I’ve only purchased two new items so far.

Spring Capsule Wardrobe: TopsSpring Capsule 2016 - Tops

I ended up with 14 tops and blouses in this season’s capsule, but I haven’t actually purchased a few of them yet,  namely some basics from Everlane, such as a navy blue pima t-shirt, a white Pima tank, and a sleeveless silk blouse. Most of the tops are sleeveless, which might seem like a strange choice for spring, but I also had many of those shirts in my winter capsule and got by layering them beneath cardigans or jackets, so I plan on doing that for the chillier part of the season.

The capsule is a lot more basic this time around — I’ve even included solid color T’s, which I usually conveniently left out. The number is also smaller, I think because I’ve realized that really, I don’t need that many different tops, especially if I wear a lot of dresses.

Spring Capsule: Cardigans and Jackets

Spring Capsule 2016 - Sweaters and Jackets

 

Since it will be a bit cool at least for the next month or so, I figured I’d better include a few blazers and sweaters in my capsule. I’ve got two from MM LaFleur, the Graham Kimono, and the Sant Ambroeus Jardigan, a new addition to my wardrobe this season (review coming soon!). I’m also including two merino wool cardigans from the Gap, because they are soft and pretty warm without being too hot, a tuxedo blazer from Boden, and two Schoolboy blazers from J.Crew (not pictured).

Spring Capsule: Dresses

Spring Capsule 2016 - Dresses

I’ve got four dresses in this season’s capsule, three of which have been around for some time (including that Theory dress I talk about all. the. time). The only new addition is the Toi Dress from MM LaFleur (review to come!). The other two are from Boden (the bright green) and Kate Spade Saturday (gosh, I miss Saturday. My wallet doesn’t.).

There is one more dress I’d love to add to my capsule, but it’s sold out at the minute. It’s the Emily Dress from MM LaFleur. I’m on the waitlist for it, so let’s hope it pops back in stock soon.

Spring Capsule: Skirts

Spring Capsule 2016 - Skirts

OK, so the skirts in my spring capsule are still in flux. I actually only currently have four of them -the navy pleated on the left, the bright green pencil skirt, and the two printed skirts in the bottom row. But, I’m not sure of the wisdom of having two printed skirts in a capsule, so I might axe the floral print, since it’s really high waisted and long (it’s a midi, and falls below my knees). I’m also debating getting the pleated navy skirt on the right, which is from Boden, but am debating whether or not I actually need two pleated, navy skirts. Or, I might get a black/navy or charcoal pencil skirt, I’m really not sure.

I’m happy to hear your thoughts on the skirt issue – so please weigh in!

Spring Capsule: Shoes

spring capsule shoes

I don’t usually include shoes in my capsule, because I’m not really a shoe person and usually just wear my ballet flats around the house (they are pretty beat up, so they are just at-home flats at this point). But, in the interest of seeing how small I could get my capsule, I left five spots for shoes this time. I’ve got two pairs of loafers, a pair of short boots, a pair of sneakers, and a pair of dress shoes. I don’t see getting much wear out of the dress shoes, but thought if I included them, maybe I’d wear them more (they are rather comfortable).

Weirdly, there’s a lot of grey in my shoes, even though you don’t see the color elsewhere in the capsule at all.

Quick spring capsule recap:

  • 37 items (skirts, tops, dresses, jackets/cardigans, and shoes)
  • 30 items from my existing collection/closet
  • 2 definite new additions (jardigan and Toi dress)
  • 4-5 potential new additions
  • Printed/patterned dresses aren’t included in the capsule, but I can wear them if the need arises
  • Outerwear isn’t in the capsule, but I’ll wear it if it’s cold enough

 

 

Winter Capsule Wardrobe 2016: The End!

As far as my wardrobe and I are concerned, winter is over. Sure, temperatures and weather conditions might be a little rough for the next few weeks (although this has been a fairly mild season, and the groundhog didn’t see his shadow). But, I’m ready for spring. That’s the thing about capsule wardrobes. Having a limited wardrobe makes changing seasons pretty exciting.

Before I reveal my spring capsule (next week), let’s take a look at a few of the outfits I put together during the last month.

winter_capsule_outfit_0205

Work Outfit 1

I am in love with this navy blue dress from Theory. When I first got it, I was unsure about keeping it, but it’s really proved to be a good purchase. It fits well, it’s well-made, and I can wear it in a lot of different ways. Case in point, as pictured here, worn over top of a silk, clock print blouse from J.Crew. (Which surprisingly, hasn’t ripped.)

 

winter_capsule_outfit_125

Work Outfit 2

Here’s an outfit made out of a few of my favorites. Navy blue pleated skirt from J.Crew. A silk blouse from Equipment. And a merino wool cardigan. I keep telling myself that I’m “over cardigans,” yet I keep wearing them.

winter_capsule_outfit_0216

Work Outfit 3

I searched pretty long and hard for a stretchy black mockneck top like the one I finally found from Reformation. I think it looks particularly vintage when styled with the Julia Patch Pocket skirt from Boden.

 

winter_capsule_outfit_0216b

 

It was a bit chilly the day I wore this (it is winter, after all). So, before going out to meet a few friends at night, I added a tuxedo blazer from Boden and a pair of tall boots (another thing I keep thinking that I’m “over,” but still wear anyway).

 

winter_capsule_outfit_0219

Work Outfit 4

Another outfit made up of favorites: a hounds tooth print skirt from J.Crew Factory (which is, unfortunately, falling apart) and a cropped cardigan from a boutique in Oxford, UK. Plus, a watch pendant necklace from a local jewelry maker who, as far as I can tell, no longer exists).

 

winter_capsule_outfit_0220

Casual Weekend Outfit

Yeah, I like to wear pencil skirts on the weekends. They look cute and stylish, but are fairly comfortable, especially when paired with a flannel shirt. The big surprise of this outfit is those boots. They’re Steve Madden and I’ve had them for years. They are falling apart a bit at this stage, some of the buttons are missing and I should get them resoled. But, otherwise, they are still hanging in there.

Shopping: J.Crew Winter Work Dress Reviews

As much as I complain about J.Crew or feel disappointed when trying their stuff on, I still get excited when a new “rollout” hits the stores. Some of the items from the most recent batch of arrivals looked pretty promising, specifically a tweed skirt and jacket and a crepe mini skirt. Heck, even these polka dot pants looked promising, although potentially unflattering. Sadly for me, the store in Philly had none of those items.

What it did have was dresses. Lots and lots of dresses. So, I tried them on, thinking that my capsule for spring could use a new dress or two.

jcrew_tweed_belted_dress

Belted Tweed Dress

I figured the belted tweed dress would be the closest to the tweed suit I was interested in, so I decided to give it a try. Plus, it looked super cute on the mannequin. There was no 6 to try, so I grabbed an 8, and it was just a bit too big. Also, I never know how to tie sashes so that they look good. What I have looks really sloppy, which combined with the poor fit of the dress just looks like a mess.

I also wasn’t sold on the quality of the fabric. It’s a nubby, cotton/poly/viscose blend. Small threads were coming off of it in the fitting room, so I’m thinking no on this one.

jcrew_herringbone_dress

Herringbone Sheath Dress

I think this dress might have come out in the previous batch of new arrivals, but I only just noticed it. Of all the dresses I tried on, this one was my favorite. It’s a wool blend fabric, and I’m particularly keen on the ribbon detail running up the side of the skirt.

jcrew_herringbone_dress_closeup

It makes it just a bit more interesting. Fit was good – this is a 6, which I was worried might be a bit snug in the hips, but it wasn’t. My complaint about this is that it feels too heavy to be a good option this late in the season. It’s definitely too warm for spring and summer. I wonder why they didn’t release it in fall. That would have been perfect.

jcrew_9am_dress

9AM Dress in Super 120s Wool

I tried the 9 AM dress on more because I was interested in the cut and style than the color. Light gray just doesn’t do anything for me (there are navy and orange-red options available online). I liked the dress, and the quality was pretty good (it’s 100% wool on the outside). It was a bit loose in the chest and waist area in the 6, but I didn’t try on a 4 to get a comparison.

jcrew_sheath_dress_italian_wool

Sheath Dress in Italian Stretch Wool

OK, I like the color of the sheath dress and the tropical weight, stretch wool. But what is going on with those sleeves? And, there’s a row of stitching around the waist that just looks shoddy up close. Fit wise, it was true to size.

 

jcrew_geometric_panel_dress

Paneled Geometric Dress

The paneled geometric dress is the type of dress that makes you go “eh.” It fits true to size – I’m in a 6, and thought I’d need to go up to an 8, but had plenty of room.

The fabric is a little unpleasant. It’s a poly/cotton jacquard and it kind of felt what I’d imagine it to feel like if someone were to make a dress out of wallpaper. The pattern of the fabric just isn’t that great, either.  It looks great on the model on the website, but in real life, it just doesn’t live up to expectations.

jcrew_silk_dot_popover_tuckedin

 

Silk Popover Shirt in Polka Dot

I really can’t say no to polka dots (which is why I was so excited about those pants). So, I took the next best thing and tried on the silk popover in polka dot. I really liked the look and fit of the shirt, although the fabric wasn’t that great (it was a bit rough and thin).

 

jcrew_silk_dot_popover_closeup

 

Consensus? I don’t think any of the dresses or the silk shirt are must-haves for me for the spring. The quality of the tweed dress has me cautiously pessimistic about the quality of the tweed skirt and jacket that weren’t in store, too. The herringbone sheath would be great for the fall, so we’ll see if it hangs around that long.

Reviewed in This Post:

5 Reasons I’m Shopping Less

One of my goals for the year is to shop less, particularly when it comes to clothing, but also in other areas where I’ve been prone to overspending or just buying stuff because it looked pretty or had a horse on it or something. There are a few reasons behind my decision, which I thought I’d go over here.

 

Clothings awaiting its fate.
My wardrobe, pre-KonMarie, 2015

1. Owning Stuff is Stressfull

The pile of clothing there is probably about half of my entire wardrobe, a little over a year ago, when I did the first sweep with the #KonMarie system. That’s a lot of clothing, much of which I barely even remember owning (I sold most of it and donated the rest).

What I do remember is the feeling of stress I had about owning that much. There were constant thoughts of “oh, I haven’t worn that mint green mini skirt in a while, I should wear it soon. But when? I don’t even like it that much, I just got it because it was on sale at J.Crew Factory and I wanted a green skirt.”

There was also the issue of all that fitting into my tiny closet (which isn’t even deep enough to accommodate normal hangers, every thing in it is at a slight angle). When a closet is too full, it’s difficult to get things in and out, which just adds to the stress.

2. The Clothing Industry Isn’t Sustainable or Kind

Reason two why I’m shopping less: the clothing industry itself is awful. I mean, there’s no other way to describe it. There’s no reason for people to put their lives at risk going to work to sew garments for people who don’t even need, or in the long run, want, those garments.

Just last week, there was yet another fire at a garment factory, which injured four. The injury count is only so low because the fire started before most of the workers had arrived to start their shifts.

Of course, some companies do go out their way to be transparent or to put a strong focus on ethics. But, at the end of the day, most don’t. And I don’t want to participate in that.

I know this won’t solve the major problem of the industry, and that there are a lot of big issues wrapped up in it, and not shopping won’t necessarily change those things, as discussed in “The Myth of the Ethical Shopper,” but until the entire industry changes, shopping less is what I can do.

capsule_wardrobe_winter2016

3. I Want to Make Better Choices About What I Own

Those aforementioned transparent and ethical companies might produce garments that are made in the US and might be willing to reveal who they work with and what their costs are, but they do so at a price. Better quality clothing just costs more. The trade off should be that it lasts longer and that you’re less likely to part with it or sell it for pennies on the dollar to ThredUP.

Of course, that means making a better decision before bringing it into my closet. I  haven’t really developed a full set of criteria for this yet, but any items I own should spark  joy, fit, and be well made. Seems simple enough.

4. I Have Other Financial Goals

One of my other goals for the year is to really pay down my student loans. So far, I’ve paid off the last of my last undergraduate loan, but still have a ways to go on my loans from grad. school.

Part of the reason for that is that I’ve been on the income based repayment plan since about 2009, and that has meant that my payments have been low enough and my interest high enough (yay for going to grad school pre-recession!) that I haven’t really made a dent in 7+ years. So, I’m shifting my focus from spending to getting rid of that debt.

I’m also interested in traveling more, evidenced by the traveling posts (Iceland and NYC) I’ve done lately. I’ve been studying French and hope to spend a few weeks there by the end of the year. Obviously, I can’t do that if I’m spending hundreds on clothing each month.

5. I’m Minimizing in Other Areas, Too

I thought that the desire to pare down would limit itself to my wardrobe, but it hasn’t. I’ve been reducing in other areas of my life, too. I’m cutting back on everything from possessions (I recently cleared out about a quarter of the stuff from my work room/study and it’s much better to work in it) to activities (I’m seriously reconsidering my commitment to things that don’t bring me joy, make me feel inadequate, or just cause stress).

As part of shopping less, I’ve been on a bit of a shopping ban in January and February. It’s been pretty easy, because I have the capsule to keep me covered in terms of clothing. I did buy a nice lamp, because it gets dark in the corner of the room I work around 5pm and I was dealing with eye strain. It’s made of marble and sparks joy and I can see now, so it was worth it.

I think the challenge might come around next month, when I pack away my heavier winter clothes and break out the spring items. There are a few things I have on my wishlist for spring, so I am hoping I’ll be able to keep myself in check and only buy what I need.