crumpets and tea, one of life's simple guilty pleasures

helping my girls find life's finer things affordably

Category: clothing

enchanting green dresses

happy fourth of july friends!  hope you all had a restful holiday and got to spend quality time with your family and friends. i spend it it sleeping in till 11:30 (!), went to lab for a bit, and then hung out with labmates at a bbq.  finally got home and decided to write before heading off to bed =)

as implied in the title, one of my girls y.y.l. has been looking for a beautiful green dress a la keira knightley:

from google

from google

i’ve done some hunting online for some options across a range of prices.  the best deal is this enchanting moment dress from modcloth.  it’s price in the $200 but for long dresses, the price is about right.  the ruching is quite nice and flattering and the dress looks really classy and tastefully done.  the other option is a max studio cross front ruched tank dress that has a length more at the knee.  it’s a very pretty dress and it looks like the draping would make one look awesome (with the right support ;)) and is around $50.  the last option from my recent searches is one from shopbop, who sometimes has great sales, but this particular dress is quite pricey.  the dress is a beautiful material and emerald green color and would make its owner really happy lol.  you can find it priced at $425 here.  usually jcrew’s bridesmaid dresses are quite nice too but right now there aren’t any options in vibrant green…but i’d check in future seasons.  i’m still looking for some silk options for y.y.l. but silk is pretty hard to come by nowadays (most materials are polyester, jersey, etc. since silk tends to be less forgiving on the body [think body fat magnified])…but no fear!  i will still be on lookout for that perfect enchanting green dress!

okay time for me to get ready for bed!  man, i’m becoming an old fart heh.  good night!

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putting together a fabulous wardrobe, part 3

so today we will be tackling (3), which is future shopping maintenance of one’s wardrobe!

this step is just as important as the first two steps, if not even more important; after purging one’s closet, it doesn’t make sense to go and fill it again with things that will just need to be purged again at a later occasion.  thus, how can we establish good style boundaries and purchasing habits that will be sure to keep your wardrobe in tip-top shape?

when shopping (especially at sales), ask yourself:

a) does this piece fit me properly, or will it need to be altered (cost effectiveness)?

this question is directed more at clothing than accessories/shoes….ask if the piece fits you like a glove or gives you the look you want (some people want an over-sized look, so the fit aimed for would be different)…and don’t buy the item if it’s too SMALL.  if it fits well, great!  move on to the next question.  if the piece doesn’t fit the right way, look at the price tag and establish if it’s a worthwhile purchase when you include alterations into the price ($10-15 for hemming, $20 or more for taking in and other changes).  usually the answer is no for items with a >$20 alterations add-on…if that’s the case, PUT IT BACK!

with shoes, if the shoes in question are half a size too big, the pair might be salvageable but putting in some sort of insoles ($5-10 depending on which types).  if the shoes are too snug, DON’T even think about it 😉

b) does this fit into my desired/established style profile (look, color palette, etc.)?

always stick to the style you have already decided upon; the emotional surge that comes from a sale can leave you disoriented and illogical (been there, done that).  focus on the aesthetic look and color of the piece: is it a good fit for your style?  if yes, move on to the next question.  if no, put the item down and run, RUN away!

c) can i make at least 3-4 outfits with the current pieces in my wardrobe?

this last question is especially important because you want to get maximum utility out of your potential piece.  if you can’t think of at least 3 outfits with current items in your wardrobe with this new piece, DO NOT purchase the item!  yeah, it sucks, that feeling but believe me, it’s better than losing your money into the dark vortex of shopping.

with dresses, this may be a little different because it’s harder to go beyond 2 ways of wearing the same dress.  when you buy a dress, i would focus on the shoes or accessories in your wardrobe that already go with it, striving for 2 looks with different shoes/accessories.

if the final answer is YESSSSSS, BUY IT!  yay, finally!

you’re gonna hate this process but it will be for the best, i promise. one of my highschool friends who looked fabulous all the time told her secret to being stylish was that she NEVER bought anything that didn’t look amazing on her–she was super strict about her purchases and had really high standards of what looked good on her–which is why she looked great with such minimal effort everyday.

one of my fav dresses

one of my fav dresses

i buy 95% of my clothes on while they’re on sale. my jeans are typically citizens (off 5th, nordstrom’s rack) or uniqlo (korea, i guess now in SF and online) while i typically get tees, other tops, shorts, dresses, and such from c&c, club monaco, off fifth, jcrew, petit bateau, velvet, michael stars, ella moss, or some random korean brand (bought when i went to visit m. c. in seoul) or from the korean clothes-selling newbury st. boutique (korean styles tend to be more stylish/fashionable, less simple/basic).

if your style profile is similar to mine, you’re in luck!!!  i’ll be suggesting some of the brands i typically look at/love the style of:

  • basics:
    • everlane (good everyday value but they’re perpetually sold out of what i want!)
    • c&c (good everyday value)
    • jcrew (good everyday value for tees, buy everything else on sale with student discount)
    • club monaco (buy on sale but great for basics, tees (fitted or loose style))
    • petit bateau (buy when on sale)
    • ella moss (buy when on sale)
    • splendid (buy when on sale)
    • velvet (buy when on sale)
    • joie and soft joie (more on the expensive end even on sale)
    • vince (more on the expensive end even on sale)
    • i know people are a fan of james perse but i haven’t bought anything from his collection
  • formal dresses (buy on sale at bloomies, nordies, neiman during their semi-annual sales):
    • shoshanna
    • rebecca taylor
    • alice and olivia
    • marc by marc jacobs
one of my white coats that i wore to one of my girls' wedding

one of my white coats worn to my girl’s wedding

so where do *i* look for sales? for the brands i *know* my exact sizing for, i get online when there are amazing sales (≥60% off).  a lot of the time, if i’ve seen and have tried on certain pieces that i love but can’t swallow the price tag, i wait until it goes on sale online usually when they’re ≥50% off.  these places include nordstrom, bloomies, and macy’s or directly from the brand’s website.  other places that i frequent include off 5th, nordstrom’s rack, and of course the jcrew outlet.

for super basic basics (tees, tanks, cotton/viscose/jersey tops), my sale bar is set lower, so 25% to 30% off the retail price is okay by me.

lastly, take care of your items…i’ve had some items stay with me for over 8 years now.  i wash my clothes appropriately (with woolite when needed, in laundry mesh bags for delicate/easy-to-snag materials) and try not to dry my clothes on too high of heat to prevent the fabric from dying a premature death.

with this game plan in hand, you’ll be sure to have a fabulous wardrobe for years to come!

putting together a fabulous wardrobe, part 1

since i’m moving up to berkeley for my new job in june, i’ve been inspired lately to reassess my wardrobe because moving unnecessary things is always painful.  that and after reading about wardrobe rehab on this blog, i’m inspired to write a little about how to put together and maintain a FABULOUS wardrobe in which you can grab-n-go and look awesome (because YOU’RE awesome, HIMYM-style, lol).  sale season is also coming up and reevaluation of one’s wardrobe will prevent you from making that unwise extraneous purchase that you couldn’t stop yourself from buying because it was ON SALE (hahah been there, done that many times).  having a game plan will help you shop smartly and not waste your precious moolah on stuff that won’t make you absolutely gorgeous.

now your wardrobe is a reflection of your personal style and tastes and differs greatly from personal to person.  i know i tend to gravitate toward simple, clean lines, very few layers and accessories (fans of the sartorialist are gonna hate me!), great cut and fabric, and skin tone-enhancing colors.  over the years, i’ve figured out a few tricks that i will establish here as guidelines in three parts and will try to write as generally as possible, giving concrete examples where applicable.  the three parts are:

[specific aim] (1) defining one’s look/style and clothing purge

[specific aim] (2) accessories and shoes purge

                       (3) future outlook: future purchasing habits after the purge

(…sounds a bit NIH grant-like, no?  i couldn’t help it)

today, we will tackle (1)!

a) defining one’s style:

(a.1) pick a look

(a.2) pick your color palette(s)

why do we need to do this?  because it will prevent you lots of grief and crying over spilled money later on.  also, it will make your wardrobe more fluid and easy to put together so that you will match in a good way and look nice without spending tons of time.  i have decided that my “look” is very much like this except with less heels.

mind you, my “look” is also decided by what looks good on me.  i know that i look better in simpler styles that have great cut and shape.  i actually really love and appreciate the boxy, oversized look, the rich girl preppy look, and also the sensual, sexier look but don’t have the body type for any of those styles (i look swallowed up by my clothes or with the last two options, really, really awkward and out of place).  an example that i will give is that i don’t buy blazers, oxford shirts, etc. ever (except for one interview outfit) because they look HORRID on me.  but most people can work the oxford/blazer look and look amazing.  similarly, i can’t pull off the leather jacket/cool sexy look ’cause i just look stupid.  it’s taken some honest, self-evaluation to arrive here but now i know even when things of those type are on sale, i’m not tempted.

so far we have “defining one’s style”…now we need to consider color palette.  i wear a lot of grey shades as well as purple/navy shades (no bright blues for me), white/creams, and pops of reds/pinks.  even though these colors are not my favorite colors (except for grey, but that’s more of a lack of color), i know that i look best in these colors so i buy my clothes in these colors.  i don’t own any green because i look awful in green, even though i actually really like green…my bathroom and kitchen would totally channel fresh green tones!  i also try not to wear too much black because i tend to look bony and anorexic in black, even though i know that black is a holy grail color for most.  figure out which colors you always get complimented on when you’re sporting it and that should say something.  i know a lot of fashion experts say stay with neutral colors in your wardrobe (black, grey, camel, navy, white, etc.) for ease of wear but i think that it tends to be boring and drab.  if you look good in a certain color, buy different items in different shades of that color so they would automatically look good when worn together.

trendy colors i sometimes buy but at h&m and sometimes zara only because it’s cheap and it won’t wear well for very long.  as for color pairings, i strongly agree with what aspairandaspare has said about 3 colors per outfit (*SUCH* great advice!).

b) clothing purge!

pretty self-explanatory for this sub-heading.  when you have a free few hours, buddy up (or if you prefer to do this alone, it’s cool too) and try on allllllll your clothes.  be honest.  anything that doesn’t fit anymore [too small, too big], not the right color on you, not fixable by hemming/alterations, or just doesn’t make you look awesome NEEDS TO GO.  ever seen “what not to wear?”  your ill-fitting, unbecoming (on you) clothes *need* to be thrown out/donated/gifted to a friend.  we’re gonna do this clinton and stacy style!  also make sure your bras and underwear fit you properly and don’t make you lumpy because if they do, no amount of beautiful clothing will save you.  after all this, put/hang/fold all the clothing that you will be keeping in your closet again.

SOOOOOO…what happened with my closet?

yay!  all my clothes fit into these two pictures

IMG_0637 yay! all my clothes fit into these two pictures

my summer basics are now whittled down to:

  • darkwash jeans (in skinny and bootcut)
  • fitted scoopneck tees (black, peach-ish pink, and grey)
  • loose scoopneck tees in multiple styles (mostly in white, and some in peach/pink and purple)
  • cotton tanks in white, oatmeal, black, pink
  • printed silk skorts in navy with white polka dots and pink floral print on black (actually looks like a skirt but are really shorts)
  • white and ombre dolman sleeve short sleeve shirts
  • mesh slightly oversized knit pieces in oatmeal and black to go with the corresponding tanks
  • shorts in white, pink with small purple flowers, vibrant chambray blue, dark grey, and jean
  • tank dress (white and black)
  • grey maxi dress kind of like this with the draping but mine is racerback and has more coverage in the front
  • many different dresses in white, chambray, various purple tones, peach-ish nude, cream,  orange-red, and navy in various materials and prints (cotton, silk, eyelet, lace, viscose, with crochet detailing, etc.)
  • light merino wool v-neck cardigans in grey, red, and white
  • navy cotton cardigan

in part 3, i’ll let you know where i shop/which brands i look for.  hopefully this gives you a sense of my style and the process i go through to revamp/reevaluate my wardrobe.  until tomorrow for part 2~

pretty white coats (that will actual keep you warm enough for bostonian winter weather)

many of my friends still live in the boston/nyc area and still have to survive the +/-6 months of winter-like weather every year there. as ex-bostonian, i have had plenty of experience dressing for such frigid conditions (5 rounds of winter!!!) and have gotten many requests from (female) friends to help them dress appropriately (cutely AND warmly).  and since sale season for winter gear is now upon us, it’s time to think about stocking up for next winter!

i’ve always had a thing for white coats, which i think are really pretty especially during winter weather with colored accessories (mittens, scarves, beanies, etc.). white coats are hard to pull off though because they (1) are high maintenance (stain easily) and (2) make one look like a marshmallow (if the wrong cut is worn, think too much padding in the WRONG places). my friends have often asked, “where can i buy a cute coat that i won’t freeze in and doesn’t look like snowwear? how are you in that WHITE coat, not freezing and NOT looking like a marshmallow?!”

the coat that they were referring to is (i believe) the best purchase during my stint in boston–a white version of this patagonia coat i got on sale for 50-60% original price (YIPPEE!). i’ve been asked several times by strangers where i got my white coat and been met with a surprised response when i say “patagonia”. this coat, while very pretty and shapely, is very warm because it has two components to it: (1) a windproof/waterproof outer slim-cut shell which give it a nice fit (makes a grrrreat raincoat for the springtime!) and (2) a densely packed down-filled inner jacket that snaps into the outer shell. both are machine-washable and dryer friendly, which is very important for functionality (and that coffee spill bound to happen). since patagonia tends to be really expensive, i would recommend purchasing it while it’s on sale (typically now-ish, after the winter season has passed).

jcrew thinsulate coat

picture taken from google

the closest option right now to the one i bought a few years ago is the patagonia 3-in-1 tres jacket, on sale now for around $240. it also comes similarly to my old one in the two-layer format and in a variety of colors. while it’s a bit more than i would spend typically for a jacket, i really believe that the quality, functionality, and look of the jacket really makes it worthwhile. another option, although less warm but good for above freezing cold weather, is the thinsulate-lined jcrew coat.

this coat adds a dash of class to drab winterwear and one doesn’t look frumpy or marshmallow-like in it. i’m sure i’ll find more suggestions for my girls later when the season approaches again but until then, here’s to two great options for surviving the cold in boston while looking pretty!