Saturday, March 19, 2016

Penelope Chilvers, Cubano Chelsea boot in Emerald velvet, 36

With a filter, but you can see truer colours below. Penelope Chilvers Cubano boot.

These boots have been in the sale section at JCrew for a while. I know that PC is huge in England, favoured by the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, and Alexa Chung, alike. I searched for the higher heeled version of this boot a bit, but it is sold out in my size in the US. (Last Call and had some in sizes 39 and 40).

It arrived in its original box, containing only one sheet of tissue and no padding or dust bags. Can't tell if they were removed, but I'd guess they weren't. The shoes are made in Spain. This is code for: minimum costs to manufacturers, sizes run a little large, soles are leather but not finished very nicely. Stuart Weitzman, for instance, makes all their shoes in Spain, which is why their boots are never as fitted in my true size as they should be. Put another way, size 36 in Spain is a size 6.5 US, whereas size 36EU or Italian is a true size 6US, in my experience.  

Fit: these fit TTS. Even though they are advised to run a half size big on the PC site, consistent with the whole Spanish sizing thing, the size 36 fits me well.

Pros: beautifully made upper and the only finish issue with the sole is that the edges aren't smoothed out and the sole isn't entirely buffed somehow. The velvet is beyond reproach, as is the leather piping.
I like that the Chelsea style opening is snug, but it doesn't bend the shoes horribly when I put them on. 

Cons: a bit hard to take off. Once on, the boots don't look huge, though the shape is a touch ballooned out at the heel. That's basically the shape of them and was my main question mark before I put them on myself. 

The boot has a distinctive style. The shape is such that you feel like you should be standing at a slight tilt forward. I consciously had to right myself...

They give the sense of expensive eccentric footwear, the mark of fashion savvy mature people. I like them, though they are emerald green. I don't know if I can do justice do them though.

Notice how close to my leg the narrow shoe opening is. Love that. I have skinny ankles and legs. You might get a completely flush fit, if you're normal sized....

Best illustration of the unique shape of the boot.

Do you see the little ballooning at the heels?

See the back of the boot, almost forcing a tilt forward?

Cool stitching on the back leather pull strip and the obligatory visible name tag.

Leather piping, elastic goring, plush velvet upper.

Leather sole, questionable edges.

Beautiful orange leather interior lining. Inside is stamped the same logo as on the sole. The sides of the shoe feel a tiny bit padded too.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, March 18, 2016

JCrew Spring 2016: striped block heel sandals

I love these sandals. That's my final verdict right there. Biggest surprise: they're printed leather, not fabric!

Pros: let me repeat: PRINTED LEATHER!!  Perfect block heel - totally Bowie, but I couldn't get a decent shot. Excellent sturdy and large roller buckle. Comfy and fit TTS. Back strap/flap connected to heel, which helps if you are plagued by dry heels. 

Cons: none. 

Tell me you're not getting Ziggy Stardust from this?!?!?

See the printedness of the leather. Yeah, that's a word.

Good, smooth, easy to handle buckle and straps.

I think you can dress these up or down and the heel is absolutely funky. 


JCrew Spring 2016 - Trench Cape (Barley, XS/S)

I was super excited about this piece. After all, a cape is actually only really suited to transitional weather, like fall, or... spring! I think JCrew has hit on a great concept. It was also a positive sign when I saw that it wasn't the dreaded "one size". Imagining a cape version of the icon trench, I couldn't resist hitting "place order", and daydreaming visions of fabulousness while I waited for it to arrive.

Unfortunately, that was where the infatuation ended. The pictures below largely speak for themselves. I'll lay out the pros and cons, briefly.

Pros: Good idea, as stated above. Pockets.

Cons: Poor materials (sad cotton twill, not the stiff smooth high quality cotton of the icon trench); no lining (that piece of gingham is a bait and switch); no storm flap in the back, resulting in a horrid line-backer look. Untidy execution; deadish khaki colour, compounded by the sad fabric. Oversized for a petite, size 0/XS frame. 

The cape wings out and is too long. One would think that the XS would be proportionately shorter, but it doesn't feel that way.  The belt design is a bit irritating, though the belt is well tethered (thankfully). I wanted to get rid of the belt, so I could just cloak the cape around me and avoid looking like a perfectly-trussed-up-bat. Unfortunately, this is impossible. As the photos show, removing the belt makes it hang even less flatteringly. There's just too much fabric, in the end. It looks wannabe, not classic with a twist.

This is the best it can look. Notice I was trying to leave the lapels open. Failed.

Um... Excess wrinkled fabric. Trying the no belt look.

Too long on me.

Don't even think about popping the collar. Unless you're Dracula, looking for a summer wardrobe option.

Side and back. No storm flap and too much fabric. 

Fabric wrinkles. Even though it came swathed in tissue.

Closeup of the fabric and the unsatisfactory button hole.

Bottom inner seam.

Inside construction. There's a loop in the middle behind the belt, to which the belt is secured with a button.

Inside the front flap of the cape. A bit of ribbon does cover the end seams of the
button placket.

Final verdict: I am just unimpressed and a bit let down. In the days not so long ago, this quality level would only be the factory version of a much higher quality retail piece. I think the retail price is closer to being fair for the quality - especially for where it will end up on sale. I'm just glad that I hoarded all the excellent JCrew stuff and my instinct that it needed to be hoarded was right. Being right, however, is only sweet sorrow. I will be returning this item on my next trip to the store.