Sunday, March 30, 2014

OOTD: Spring errands

I took my boys to the gardening store today, to pick up supplies and scout for possibilities. We have just moved into our own home in October and I feel motivated to decorate and clean now that the snow has (mostly) melted.

I wanted to celebrate our first warm day in two weeks and didn't want a winter coat. Hence: white JCrew matchsticks (old), madewell d'orsay flats, cobalt blue jersey nursing top/tee from Isabella Oliver (amazing quality); Tory Burch sergeant pepper leather jacket; JCrew paisley wool scarf.

JCrew Tipped Linen Blazer

Pros: luminescent ivory colour; anchor ceramic-like painted buttons; tipped.

Cons: the blazer is not of the design originally posted on the website stock photos. I know because I saw this when I got mine - and called my VPS who confirmed the discrepancy. Thereafter, they changed the online photo. In this blazer, the tipping is a thin grosgrain ribbon that goes all the way around the bottom of the blazer. In the stock photo it originally had wider tipping and the tipping was only on the front of the jacket.

Verdict: flattering but too flimsy for 168.00 (promo price). Looks exactly like factory version. Return. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Dinner with two kids & hubs: OOTN , Saturday

Now that I have a collection of clothes I have carefully curated, I very much enjoy putting outfits together. Admittedly this outfit was wasted on a hole-in-the-wall Chinese place, but I felt happy in it and it was comfy whilst being a bit edgy and a bit chic. My husband said I looked French - and he is a big snob when it comes to clothing choices...

The blazer is JCrew Collection (old); watch is MK Chronograph in rose gold; Sequin tank is JCrew (old) and boyfriend tee layered under it is Land's End; leather stripe pixie pants in black from JCrew; Martina wedges in bronzed clay; Double breasted Cocoon Coat, JCrew Collection, Winter 2013.

Pls ignore the blazer sleeves poking out from under the coat sleeves in this last picture: the latter are the right length while the former are too long and meant to be rolled up. It was cold so I didn't want to do much other than get in the car quick with my hair all wet...

Wanted to try at least one other jewellery piece - but there's ony so much you can achieve with hungry children waiting...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

J Crew shoe clips

Lovely and well made. But, there are sharp prongs in the clip back that will dig into the inside of your shoe. This is necessary to keep the clip in place but if you clip it on a smooth leather surface, it could also marr the shoe.

I have previously bought and returned the Lulu Frost shoe clips. Those looked and felt cheap in comparison. These look like jewellery for shoes and instantly transform and enhance the shoes. 

Verdict: lovely accents. Keepers. 

See the teeth? In the clip that's standing away from the "brooch" portion. Top view.

Another attempt to capture the teeth and slight curvature of the brooch portion (so it will adhere nicely to a shoe).

Natasha perforated pump, dark gold, 6

Pros: the colour is closer to bronze than gold, but definitely metallic leather; all leather construction; I like the pattern of perforation.

Cons: It's a case of taking an idea one step too far; the shoes make you look like you're trying too hard. Definite Star Trek vibe. Perforating the ankle strap is also a move in the wrong direction. Finally, the ankle strap is too noticeably big around my ankle for me to make it work.

Sizing: TTS

Verdict: Return. Money saved.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Madewell D'orsay Flat in Leather, 6

Item # a4460
Price $108.00
Online only

These flats are quite gorgeous and right on trend. They are made in China, but the construction is really good. I have pictures of the sole, and the padded insole which runs the whole length of the shoes, in leather. It is a nice little poof of an insole, quite comparable to the Tory Burch d'orsay I got around the same time for spring.

The leather can be scratched if something sharp scratches it (like the baby's little nails, in fascination).

The colour on these shows up more true to life in other daytime pictures I've posted in other reviews. Sorry, didn't have a chance to snap close ups during the am for these.

Some online reviewers say they got blisters after wearing them. I have worn them once so far and thankfully not gotten blisters. The leather inside the shoe is well finished and my ankles/heels didn't rub against the cut outs. So I guess it might depend on the foot...

Verdict: keep! 

Love this detail on the back

This picture shows the crease point in the toe box. I like that it's near the seam so the shoes won't start looking old too quickly.

Padded footbed.

J Crew Puff Sleeve Blazer in Pinstripe, 00

Pros: wool, fine suiting material; beautifully fitted; puff at top of shoulder is a very neat box pleat style - almost like origami - doesn't look cartoonish, but has the effect of squaring your shoulders in a ladylike way; beautifully lined and finished. Sleeve length ideal for petite-me.

Cons: only the pinstripe is wool, others are cotton.  I can't think of any other cons! I'd love a cropped pant to go with the jacket for a trendy suit!

Sizing: TTS. I ordered my usual size for woollen schoolboy blazers.

Verdict: adorable, smart, flattering, easy to dress up and down. Slam dunk. Now I want one in every other colour. Keep.

Side note: shown with pearl earrings, also currently on promo. Absolutely adore them!

This is the top of the sleeve.

Couldn't get a decent side shot without showing my face...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Maqsad reflects: on how to figure out your style

I grew up thoroughly unstylish, the second-born of four, wearing hand me downs and declaring that I didn't actually care. My sister was the one who cared and created, never scared to cut up garments she was bored off, literally razor off sweater fuzz (she invented the idea for herself and I told her she was crazy, not realizing that it was actually universal wisdom). So I always wore the too-boyish jeans, the odd sweaters, the wrong mix of colours and tried to keep up with my group of girl friends who routinely shopped and flaunted Oilily and Mexx, and later, unique finds from London, Paris, and Gap and Guess ( you can't expect logic or consistency from teens on a budget).

So when I came into my own, defining my style was important - and an epic fail. The humiliation personally endured whilst wearing patent shoes, square-toed loafers paired with staid suits, oversized jackets, etc, burns bright inside me still. Never mind that I actually want most of those pieces back because now I know what to do with them.

So here's what helped. I stumbled into the cool girls' blogs. The ones who want to make it in the fashion world in the age of digital media. Now I routinely read Atlantic-Pacific (AP) and, lately, Pink Peonies (PP). I have explored nearly all the well known ones but some are just too repetitive and vapid, albeit with visions of grandeur, for even my obsessive eye.

And I have some key observations about style, defining it, exploring it and making it work, based on what I've seen with these bloggers.

First, it's about knowing your silhouettes. We all have outfits that fit us mentally like our own skins. They make us feel classic. They make us feel at home. And they are flattering to our forms. Those are the ones we should keenly observe for the elements of the silhouettes that suit us best. For instance, AP has two standard silhouettes: she wears (pouffy) skirts with nipped in waists, and she wears boyfriend jeans. She varies along these two main arteries of her fashion skeleton. If the skirt isn't terribly pouffy, it will be a circle skirt with flattering swing. She knows how to focus attention on her legs, so she frequently swaps between short skirts and shorts.  

Cut, fit and drape. Some figures need more drape (in the cut of the *garments*) than others. Some would be swamped by drape. Again, knowing your classic look is a great clue on where to start figuring out your best look. In general, everyone looks terrific with *fabric* that drapes well. Fit cannot be emphasized enough. A drapey garment, for instance, needs to fit well at the angular points if your body: your neckline, your shoulders, potentially your hips. A pair of cropped pants need to look right down the thighs and be cropped just above the ankle to not look dumpy.

When you've established these two key points, silhouette, fit and drape, you can then start filling in the blanks with your choices in materials, colour, and bonus trendy accessories. Being true to oneself in these choices makes for success. I think this is why AP is unerring 99% of the time.

On colour: whilst JCrew would have us wear (it seems) all and any colour, the real opportunity in their offerings is to understand what flatters our hair and skin colours best.

The last observation I have is this: when you're really loving a new trend and can't quite get it right, bloggers like PP have tiny tricks (much as I am loathe to admit it) that really make it work. For instance, PP has this trick of folding up just the hem (and no more) of her skinny jeans. It's the smallest thing, but it takes the outfit somewhere more interesting.

I'd love to hear your observations too. Leave a comment to share what you've noted as a fashion anthropologist!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Collection Rylan Blazer In Haven Blue Jaquard, 00

Pros: well cut; well tailored; great material; two inner pockets

Cons: single button opening, which makes me look tubby if buttoned (due to having a bust, I think). Straight fit to go with the oversized manly blazer look. Fabric will spoil if it sticks to things in a velcro-effect. The embroidery on the jaquard has raised threads.

Sizing: I took a size 00, because the website said "oversized fit". Normally I take 0 in overcoats and shirts. You may be able to size down, especially if petite.

Verdict: loved it, because of the look and the print is oddly flattering. Wearable, too. Keep.

Please excuse the awful pattern mix in the last photo and focus on what the blazer cut does for me: makes me look taller and somehow less frail (if I usually look frail/thin/small). Love that about boyfriend style blazers. While the Rylan blazer is cut totally differently, it has the same elongating effect as the hacking jacket did for me. 

OOTD, Thursday.

Not the shoes I wore actually. I wore the 5050 boot in black napa leather by Stuart Weitzman, in fact. 

Details: bonded wool sweater in navy, one size, winter 2012; skirt from winter/spring2013, everlane T-shirt in navy, v-neck; navy tights. 

Colour blocking experimentation. Bad.

Big, stiff, swingy on top; fitted and skinny on bottom.

Curator Pant, Poppy, 00

General note; it used to be that I only wore size 00 in low rise pants and needed 0 in higher rise ones at JCrew. This being the result of a persistent pooch at the waist/tummy, and no hips to speak of. Halfway through last year, though, it became clear that JCrew has changed sizing to be consistent across all pants. So I now order 00 in everything. The only one that still needed a 0 was the high waisted Collection trouser in foulard from the winter 2013 line. I'm a size 25 in all jeans.

Pros: drapes well; comfortable; slouchy but tailored; cropped nicely to hit at ankle length for me; pockets.

Cons: poly; slouchy; flappy ankle, requiring heels to make it look sophisticated on me.

Sizing: TTS. No problems zipping (I zipped my flesh up last year when I tried on the highlighter yellow right after having a baby. The experience has definitely scarred me emotionally.)

Verdict: So, the curator pants are as usual. The colour is definitely a slightly pinky red. The material is unlined and poly as usual. I was thinking I'd name it some kind of cherry red, if I were doing the naming. Great drape.
I also got the navy. Keep both. 

It looks terrible with flats (madewell d'orsay in nude, love), but the half tuck totally appeals to me for giving hip shape without revealing tum.

You see.

Trying to capture colour. Contrasting with sweater in heather midnight blue.

Unlined, as usual. Small slit in side of leg opening is visible on left, in my palm.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Natasha Pump, Bright Kiwi, 6

Pros: great quality construction and leather (see picture of back zipper); excellent colour (true to name and stock images); sexy toe box; ankle strap works for petites too, doesn't cut the leg stupidly, owing to the narrow profile of the shoe overall. All that is promised in stock and catalogue pictures is true. Collection piece.

Cons:  very sexy, sassy shoe (though less than the caged pumps). Hard to wear in normal life unless you're young, carefree and fashionable.

Sizing: TTS, although there's the usual feeling of a gap at the back of the shoe that one gets with ankle strap pumps. The ankle strap itself is on the wide side if you have skinny ankles like me, but not so roomy that your ankle is knocking around in there.

Verdict: too sexy and unwearable for me: one for the shoe museum. Return.

Suede lace up caged pumps, blue, 6

Pros: gorgeous rich colour, lovely suede; laces are suede too; very manageable heel height (didn't feel wobbly at all); super sexy; lovely toe box; adjustable ankle width.

Cons: too sassy; not necessarily the best construction (see photos of back zipper)

Sizing: TTS

Verdict: gorgeous blue - the shoes are very sexy and I *died* a million times over the side view. But they are too sexy - I prefer classic and a bit understated chic. I don't think these can be described that way. On sale now - if this is your style, nab them in the next x% off sale! For me, they're going back.