Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ann Taylor Factory Store Review

I was on a business trip in the Chicago area this past week, Warrenville, which was only 5 miles away from a really awesome outlet mall in Aurora, IL.  Kate Spade, Theory, True Religion, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, JCrew, etc. were all calling my name as I made my way down the outdoor aisles!  My first stop was Theory, where I tried on a few things, none of which were all that spectacular, so I passed - plus, they were pricier than I was willing to spend on a bolce wool skirt (for example) so, no purchases there (yay!  restraint!).  My next stop was Banana Republic, where I spent about 40 minutes with fully loaded arms as I made my way to the dressing room - but most of the items either didn't quite do it for me, were more than I would like to spend for the use I'd get out of them, or just looked plain awful!  I ended up with a couple of items (described below) and was feeling kind of good about myself for keeping my purchase to

Next was Ann Taylor Factory store, and cha-ching - big time binge and acquisition of several items that I hope I'll get a lot of use out of (see below).

Ann Taylor Factory Store lavender sleeveless ribbon tee, size XS
Banana Republic elastic cotton skirt with rusched waistband, size 0

As you can see above, I went to town on the ribbon tees that have been raved about by other petite bloggers (thank you Really Petite & Extra Petite!).  I bought this blouse 3 colors!!

Ann Taylor Factory Store purple cardigan with rusched detailing down the middle, size XS
AT patent leather belt in beige, size S
BR seersucker A-line skirt, size 2 - better picture of the skirt silhouette and pattern below
 I loved the cardigan pictured above.  Still deciding if I like it with the belt (there's a little room which makes for a less than perfect fit).  They had this cardigan in several other colors as well, but I had to exercise some restraint, so went with the dark purple as I am short of darker colored cardigans.

Ann Taylor Factory Store lavender/grey sheath dress, size 0P
Ann Taylor patent leather belt in lavender, size S
BR nude patent leather pumps (circa 2009)

I also tried on a lavender/grey-colored sheath dress in a size smaller than I normally wear (0P).  This dress is very springy, but paired with a cardigan and tights, could likely be worn in the winter as well.  The fit is nice and it is super comfortable and seems to be wrinkle-free.  Winner!  Below is a picture of how I will likely wear it to a client meeting later this week (I have issues with showing bare arms during client meetings).

Same as above
Black jacket purchased from NYC boutique Purdy Girl (unsure of brand), Size XS

Okay, so my biggest impulse buy at Ann Taylor were the shoes pictured below.  As I was checking out, I caught a glimpse of these and immediately fell in love.  They remind me of some shoes that Carrie Bradshaw from SATC saw in a store window and said "Hello Lover!"  Of course, those shoes were Manolo's (I think) and 10 times the price of these.  I envision wearing these with shorts and an airy top, with a summer dress to a wedding, or with jeans during a summer night out.  These shoes are super comfortable and the nude color of the straps are less likely to cut off the leg making the legs appearing shorter.  See my less than great picture taken from a mirror in my bedroom.  These shoes are also available in black, also very cute, but I have too many strappy black shoes!  Readers, what do you think of these?
Ann Taylor Factory Store strappy heels with flower details, Size 6

Monday, February 21, 2011

Review of New BR Items

In my last post, I promised to provide a review of recently purchased BR items that I acquired while actually returning a few items I purchased during my first shopping spree after my "no shopping for a year" challenge.  Sadly, the vicious cycle is once again starting and I am very discouraged and bothered by how I have immediately reverted back to my shopping obsession.  It's like I never did spend that year avoiding shopping - I.  Have.  A.  Problem!

Regardless, here is my review of my recent purchases, that I'm quite happy with.  I am currently about $50 over my $100/month budget (sigh) and am fearful that this overage will continue to grow as I will be heading to Chicago for a business trip and will be staying near the Miracle Mile for one of the nights - eek!  I guess I could perhaps put myself on a fast every other month to help control the starting March 6th, I'm not allowed to shop for a month - hmmmm...could be promising.

Okay, now for my review - along with a picture of re-discovered existing items in my closet...

I really like the longer length of this cardigan (pictured below), it gives off a more fitted look and (IMHO) makes me look a bit taller - though it could be the 4 inch heels paired with dark-washed skinny jeans - always a good combo for vertically challenged people like me.  I paired the cardigan with a light pink polka-dotted top that has a lot of room and worn alone, makes me look pregnant...but paired with this more fitted cardi, I think it actually works pretty well.
Beige cardigan with floral chiffon detailing on the edges (can't find the sweater online, but click here for a similar length and fit)
BR skinny jeans, dark wash (from late 2009)
Aldo beige open-toed laser-cut stilettos

My first business trip in about a month!  So, I'm so excited to get to have a chance to wear my new finds.  Below is a top that recently went on sale at BR and I can see being very "year-round" (underneath a cardigan during late winter months, as pictured further below, or by itself during the Spring/Summer time).  You'll see my new favorite jewelry (long strand pearls) making another appearance.  My thought is get the most I can out of these purchases, so even if I do blow my budget, I rationalize it with the amount of times I put a new purchase to use!
Floral Tie-Neck Shell (click here to buy the item) - it looks much better in person when you can see the colors
BR belted wool grey skirt w/ rusching
BR snakeskin wedges (all time favorite shoes - 5 freakin' inches baby!)

All the above, plus BR long cardigan (can't find it online anymore)

One of my favorite purchases, and before my recent cardigan buying frenzy, about the only decent cardigan I owned, is making a re-appearance during my business trip.  I'm again getting use out of my pink polka-dotted shell (aka, pregnant shirt - no, not me, just what the shirt makes me look like when by itself).  Given that it is still winter, I'm donning the "winter white" trousers that have lasted me several years now.  I know, I'm very daring to wearing these in Chicago after about a foot of snow, but hopefully, I won't have to be trudging too far in this outfit and can avoid dirtying up my favorite "winter white" pants.
BR polka-dot sleeveless shell
Ann Taylor Loft black ruffled cardigan (unfortunately, you can't really see the cute ruffles because of my sucky camera)
BR silver belt (also cannot find online though it's currently available in the store)
BR wool white trousers
So, just a bit more blogging by way of a confessional and a couple small victories before I sign off.  Given that the purpose of this blog is to provide an outlet for my trials re-entering the shopping world, and in some ways to hold me more accountable, I'm listing out a few up's and down's from this past week with regard to trying to manage my shopping habit.

Downfall: Last Monday, I went to BR to return something, and walked out incurring a $12 tab - which means that I managed to re-spend the $64 dollars I was supposed to be putting back into my bank, plus $12.  The fruits of my sin are pictured above.

Downfall: I must have logged at least 3 hours since last Monday surfing the net and looking at clothes.  In that time, I purchased a pair of boots that I have since sent back, and ordered a smaller version of the very shirt that I returned during the trip listed just above - sigh - can you say vicious cycle?

Victory: I went to Forever21 yesterday after my monthly couple's massage with the hubby, spent an hour trying things on (okay, squeezing into things), and was very tempted to purchase 3 items that would've totaled up to $50.  Disgusted with myself, I quickly beelined for the nearest empty rack space, hung the items on the rack, and dashed out the door.

Downfall: After my mini-victory, guess who found herself immediately on the Forever21 website looking for the items she passed up just a 1/2 hour before?

Victory: I went to the Target website in search of a widely reviewed item in the Petite Shopper Blogging Community, came really close to buying it, and was able to dissuade myself from buying it by telling myself "hey, I'm going to Chicago tomorrow, will be near a kick-ass outlet mall, and then Michigan Avenue the next day, best to save up for that.  Oh, and if I am miraculously good enough to not buy anything (very hopeful, but also doubtful), I can go to my neighborhood Target store and pick up these items (and if they're not there, it wasn't meant to be)."  However, look at how adorable it looks on Jean (here), and Annie (here).  Sigh, to be a 00P!

Okay, that's it for my confessional this time around - the list maybe much much longer when I blog again after my return from Chicago - I'm scared.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pearlsitility & Review of Bad Boots for Short Women

My Piperlime shipment arrived yesterday with the Tan colored knee-high boots that I ordered.  Let me begin by saying that I was tickled by the cute packaging of my arrival (I'm all about packaging), so even those these puppies are going back, just the patterned lime green interior of the box with the smart matching envelope and my shoebox swathed in brown tissue paper was enough to make a repeat customer out of me.  That, and free shipping when you want to return your purchase.  Okay, now for the review of the boots that I do not recommend for people under 5'4".  These boots are really cute with the side buckles and the nice versatile color, but where they hit (on me at least) does nothing short of making hobbit-like illusions on my 5'1" frame.  I tried these on over my new Jeggings, and as you can see for yourself - they're a no.  I've never been known for large hips, but with these boots and these Jeggings - hello curves!

They may look great on you!  Hurry, they are on sale.  Click here to get them.
 BR white button down with whitle polka-dots, Gap 1969 Jeggings, Medium Wash, Hobbit boots (oh, I mean, Restricted Marine Boot in Tan)

I finally had a business-occasion to dress up for today, so given that the weather has doubled in the past week, I decided to pull out one of my favorite work dresses, layer it with a cropped jacket, and then throw on my new long-strand pearls to complete the look (this time wrapped three times).
Ann Taylor Loft cropped jacket (circa Spring, 2009), BR blue short-sleeved dress (from 2010 winter, I think).  BR nude patent leather heels.

I have somehow managed to injure my toes in the BR 3 inch nude colored patent leather heels shown above, so that's it for my fashion show today.  But in my next post, I will review and post a few pictures of my recent purchases from Banana Republic on a refund trip that inevitably turned into the purchase of more things.  But with 25% off for their President's Day sale, and with the return of a full-priced item (the white wrap shirt I displayed during one of me earlier posts - which I intend to buy when my budget is replenished in Petite instead of S-Regular), the damage was only $12.  Plus, now that these Hobbit-boots are going back, that puts me back on target of my monthly $100 clothing budget.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine's Day & Jeggings

Happy Belated Valentine's Day!  Hubby and I went to our favorite restaurant to celebrate the day, so I decided to don a red wrap dress that I had bought a few years ago at a boutique in Indianapolis.  After now reading others' blogs about alterations, I'm beginning to wonder how much better these outfits would look with a bit of shortening to elongate my already short legs.  What are your thoughts?  Should I have the hem on this dress taken up?  (Also, I still have to master camera angles, as I am looking down in these two pictures which accentuate my double-chin - SIGH).

My Jeggings from Gap and BR and long strand pearl necklace from came in!  So here's my review along with pictures of these items on.  The Gap Jeggings were the winner as the BR pairs were too big (I ordered only what was available, a size 28P and a size 27 Regular, both which were too loose - Jeggings are supposed to be tight, I think).  I'll spare you pictures of those as they looked terrible - almost looked like Mom Jeans.
These jeggings are very comfortable, though they are skin tight.  They hit at the right place on the waist and have enough give in them to help you avoid the muffin top.  I love the color and worn look on the fronts of the legs.  These will be best for casual occasions as the wash is not dark enough to dress them up.  To order these, click on the image above.

As for the long-strand pearl necklace - love it!  Shown here, I decided to drape the necklace long and tie it toward the bottom (somewhat reminiscent of Flapper Girls).  The strand can be doubled and even tripled up to create very different looks.  The weight of the Pearls is nice and I like how the pearls are different sizes instead of one uniform size.  You can order these pearls by clicking on the image below.

Overall, very happy with my online purchases.  In trying to keep within a reasonable monthly clothing budget, I'm contemplating the return of the striped ruffle shirt that I purchased at BR last week.  Especially since I gave in and purchased a pair of tan colored boots - which I will review when they come in.  This returning to the shopping world is much harder than I thought it'd be!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Making it Work

I've been continuing on this path of trying to make my existing wardrobe work.  Below are a few pictures of what I've done these past few days with different events that I've been going to.  It's hard to get excited for getting dressed when it's single digits out - but luckily, it's starting to warm up a bit...maybe I'll even be able to wear this BR top and lighter work pants this week when I finally go into the office!

The shopping bug is definitely back - I find myself filling my time with perusals of my favorite old site (BR, White House Black Market) and a few new ones (Gilt, Overstock).  Uh-oh.

At this point, I feel like I'm blogging to myself - so please, people, follow me if you can - I need to feel like I'm not just writing to myself!

BR pink/salmon sleeveless top. I like how this top drapes, and paired with a lower hanging pair of pants, also BR from a few years ago, the top adds a nice splash of color to the grey.  It's too cold to wear this right now, but am hoping to sport this look when spring rolls around.

Decided to add a longer navy cardigan from Forever 21 (a couple of years ago) and add some splashes of red through a necklace I bought at Macy's and my favorite red faux-fur belt from Uniqlo.  Gap khaki corduroys, and Guess patent leather read pumps.
BR cropped cardigan, BR white t-shirt dress underneath (made for tucking into my JCrew matchstick cords for an interesting situation), BR brown bow-tie leather belt.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Purging - Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

And I don't mean purging in the scary bulimic sense.  I mean purging in the get rid of all that stuff that has been cluttering up your closet and remaining unworn because 1) it looks terrible on you, 2) taunts you for not being able to fit into it anymore, 3) should have been retired in the 90's, 4) is in such a condition that even a homeless person wouldn't want to wear it, even if it is in the single digits out there.

It took me about 2 evening's worth of time to go through most of my closet and decide what to keep, pair with something I hadn't thought of before, or put in the consignment/donation pile.  I also now have two official closets - one for season-appropriate clothes, and one for off-season clothing.

Here's are a few more looks I was able to put together as I was auditing my clothing stock - let me know what you think!  Also, I apologize beforehand for re-using the same belt and black Louboutin pumps.  The wardrobe I was going through was upstairs and I was too lazy to go up and down the stairs to pick the right shoes and find accessories to complement the look.  I realize some of these outfits can use a bit of color and zing.

The trench dress seems to be everywhere this season.  This was an old Ann Taylor Loft (circa 2008) that I paired with my new favorite belt (you'll see it again and again in the pictures below)

Hands down my favorite jacket from White House Black Market.  It's too bad that I can only wear it during warmer weather.  Though, I have been noticing people wearing jackets under their heavy wool coats and then sporting the jacket indoors - hmmmm...

Ann Taylor loft grey dress with Grecian draping across the body.  Not the most flattering dress on me alone, but paired with a jacket (burnt orange corduroy jacket here), it's wearable.  Same comment as above, maybe I should start wearing my lighter jackets indoors and treat them like blazers.

Okay, I'm quickly realizing that this jacket under a heavy winter coat may actually work.  This corduroy jacket was purchased at Nordstrom quite some time ago (2006, I think) at Brass Plum (the "younger" section).  I think it's a bit snug, but buttoned up with a belt, it might be a nice substitute for a cardigan.  What do you think?

Ann Taylor loft black cardigan with chiffon ruffle details.  I LOVE this cardigan.  When this was sold, they had it in dark purple, but my local store was sold out - figures!  Paired with a grey Target sheath dress - something I bought for $9 and have gotten way more than $9 use out of.  And, yes, I know, I should be adding some color here or pair this with a bright blouse and pencil skirt.

Okay, so definitely not wearing this outfit until the spring, but I was inspired to start pairing these longer shorts from White House, Black Market with heels and dressier tops to add some sophistication to what would otherwise be a very casual outfit.  Thoughts?

This Banana Republic skirt originally came with a satin sash the same color as the skirt itself.  I decided to pair it with a skinny belt to change it up a bit.  Once I can get my hands on a bright colored skinny belt (like those sold at BR right now - waiting for the sale and already over my monthly clothing budget), I will definitely be taking this outfit out for a spin.

I'm making a stop at my favorite consignment shop sometime this evening and hope to be able to trade in my unwanted goods for some "new" items (like a bright colored skinny belt).  If I do find something worth blogging about, I will.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-aaaaaack!

Well, after taking a year off from shopping, I am quite alarmed at how little time it took for my obsession over clothes to come back.  For this reason, I have decided to resume blogging (though am doing away with the lofty daily post goal) and am hoping to use this blog to stay on track with my reduced spending and shopping.  Throughout the course of my year of not shopping, I re-discovered quite a few things in my closet and am therefore determined to make the best use of what I already own, and only buy things that will complete my look or that will be replacing a favorite, but worn down, item.  Let's see where this goes!  I hope I get some followers soon, as I could really use the support and encouragement from other people!

As I have been working from home a great deal lately, I don't really have an occasion to get dressed up, however, I've been spending the past couple of days taking stock of what I have in my closet, getting rid of anything that is outdated, over-worn, or has no remote possibility of being fit into without some major starvation.  I'm also trying to put items together differently, having been recently inspired by two wonderfully dressed petites that I have discovered by Googling "Tory Burch flats hurt my feet." 

The first items purchase after being off "the fast" came from Banana Republic.  So, with my newly gained shopping restraint, I have decided to only buy items that I know will play well with things I already own and compliment my ridiculously huge wardrobe.  Here are a few pairings that I came up with using my new purchases.

New Item #1: Banana Republic short-sleeve wrap shirt.  A classic must have that will likely get much usage!

New Item #2: Ruffle placket stripped shirt.  I'm in need of a few more button downs that are roomy enough to not gap when I sit down - this shirt is perfect and I like the asymmetry of it.

New Item #3: No BR picture available, but you'll see it below - oh, what a difference a belt makes!

For the spring - white short sleeve shirt paired with a pair of Rebecca Taylor lavender Capri's

Wanted to see if this shirt could also be worn under a jacket if instead of the bow, I wrapped the sash around my waist again and tucked the ends into the back (see next picture).  I think it works, but am open to feedback!

Here's what it'd look like from the back with the ends of the sash tucked into the back - not that it matters if you wear it with a jacket - no one will see this.

Ruffle placket striped shirt pictured here with my favorite spring jacket (Gap from several years ago), white JCrew pants, and also a new item, a skinny silver belt from BR.

This shirt has to be able to be worn under a suit, since I go to so many client meetings - the muted stripes on the shirt paired with a lighter suit give off the feeling of warmer weather!

Skinny silver belt with bow - paired above with a black Jones New York sheath dress - a real find at TJMaxx many many years ago.  This item has lasted me forever!

Paired with a turquoise BR linen dress I bought a couple years ago on sale. 

Better with the belt?  I think so but am curious about other's opinions!

I have ordered a couple other things online - a long strand of pearls (was inspired by Extra Petite's blog), and Jeggings from the Gap and Banana (plan on returning the pair that least fits).  Stay tuned for another post when those items arrive