Wrapped with a Bow

by - Monday, October 31, 2011
Presenting my most impractical purchase of the year: Prabal Gurung at J.Crew exploding bow blouse (#49310) in neon azalea, size 0. The bow is so ridiculously large and fun that I bet could easily double as a Halloween costume. After having worn a neon pink gingham shirt and tee this past summer, I figured a huge bow in the same color should be pretty wearable.

- material feels linen-like therefore very wrinkle-prone
- style is like a racerback tank but with big armholes (might just be me, but I don't think undergarments can be worn without showing through)
- wish the bow was stiffer because the ends keep flopping forward
- zippered back for pretty much the entire length of the top

I'm sad to say that the color is the only thing I like. I so, so wanted this top to work out (despite the hefty price tag), but the poor fit on me is a deal-breaker :( It will be returned back to the store.

See Kimchi Girl rock this top in two colors.

Sorry for the grainy pictures in poor lighting -- I have to figure out a better indoor location soon.
jacket: Express luxury stretch 1-button (this season's version sold here)
belt: Express black skinny (similar)
bracelets: Forever 21 rope/cable bangle (the real deal; similar);
Forever 21 rhinestone snake chain (similar)
scarf ring as ring: Talbots - gift from Elle (similar)
ring: Amrita Singh Deauville (sold here)
pants: Express Editor luxury stretch (this season's version sold here)
shoes: Zara court shoe with snakeskin toe (sold here; similar; peep-toe)

Trench Coat, Kids' Style

by - Saturday, October 29, 2011
Next up on my outerwear wishlist (another one?!) is a trench coat in a classic khaki color with shoulder epaulets and detailing around the wrist. This Zara Girl trench coat with checked lining in sand, size 11-12 (sold here) had everything I was looking for. Kids' clothing is usually a miss for me, but I figured it's worth a shot after loving the proportions on Jessy (in hindsight, I should've known being taller screws everything up).

Upon wearing it for the first time, I felt there's no way it's going to work. The sleeve length is short (I prefer longer sleeves), the fit is a bit tight across the back, and I thought the length was awkward. I voiced all these reasons out loud to bf but he shot them all down. Let's just say he couldn't get past the trench-with-nothing-underneath illusion. Sigh. Men.

The first set of photos below show the fit with the trench buttoned up. I think there's too many problematic fit areas -- belt is too high, sleeves too short, fabric pulling at the shoulders, etc. I may be nitpicking, so please let me know your honest opinions. Unbuttoned though (see last pic) -- a completely different story. I love how it looks on me, but I wonder if it's just the way I was standing... or a well-fitting jacket will look even better hanging open? The jacket also looks a lot better with the sleeves scrunched up. With non-winter coats, I can put up with shorter sleeves and don't mind leaving it open and unbuttoned.

My favorite feature has to be the inside lining -- such a pretty plaid pattern. A few surprising negatives: the belt is super short (I can barely tie a knot once), the material is very wrinkle prone (is this pretty normal?), the quality isn't the greatest with a few loose threads and a hole in an inside pocket's lining :(

So the dilemma is:
1) Exchange then wear unbuttoned with sleeves scrunched up all the time
2) Return and hope for a larger selection through Zara Woman next spring
3) Return and hold out for... Burberry?!

The last is a pipe dream right now, so I'm leaning towards #2 (if this past spring collection is anything to go by, my patience should pay off).
necklace: Forever 21 knotted chain & rhinestone (similar)
tee: Old Navy split-neck tab-sleeve (sold here)
ring: Forever 21 delicate etchings (similar)
belt: Express wide (similar)
jeans: Hollister boot destroyed (sold here; similar)

Indigo Ink and Vintage Violet

by - Thursday, October 27, 2011
Raise your hand if all these fall promos from the last few weeks (and counting) have been killing your wallet. I know mine's been feeling like a money tree, lol. Hopefully these upcoming reviews will be useful when the real fall sale rolls around in a few months.

New items I'm wearing:
1) Ann Taylor overlapping placket long sleeve blouse in indigo ink, size 00 (sold here) - It took me long enough, but I've finally realized AT's petite blouses do not work for me -- the sleeves are always too short for my liking (of course, just as I'm saying this, I roll up the sleeves. D'oh!) Likes: opaque, fits well, pretty color. Dislikes: material seems very high-maintenance and snags quite easily. I also picked it up in the crisp nougat color... but I'm still on the fence about which color to keep, if at all.

See it on Fast Food & Fast Fashion. Did anyone else pick this up?

2) J.Crew classic mini in felted wool in vintage violet, size 00P (sold here) - This skirt measures ~12.5" across the waist and ~15" in length down the center. Likes: the color is gorgeous. Dislikes: the inside lining ends about 1" above the hem and the wool is sort of itchy. I plan on returning this skirt because I think one size up will look better on me. It's a little too high-waisted as is, don't you think? In the meantime, it's never too early to start planning outfits around this skirt ;) Tights, suede shoes, cozy sweaters in neutral colors that I couldn't pair with my wool bell skirt.
jacket: American Eagle classic peacoat (this season's version sold here)
belt: J.Crew piped glitter (similar; similar)
bracelet: Forever 21 chain link (similar; similar)
ring: Forever 21 delicate etchings (similar)
shoes: Ann Taylor covered platform bootie (this season's two-toned version; similar)

Petite Fashion Challenge #11: Vacation Vogue

by - Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Hosted by Alli @ Ski Petite, Petite Fashion Challenge #11: Vacation Vogue has us putting together an outfit made for sightseeing. It should be one that will be comfortable for walking around in and can last you from the early morning until dinner and drinks in the evening. You can choose just one outfit but vary it by adding or taking off layers or accessories to take you from the a.m. to the p.m. and make one outfit easier to last through the day.

I've always dressed like a bum on vacation, therefore sticking out like a sore thumb in both photos and as a tourist, lol. In the spirit of this challenge, I came up with outfits that I would wear while traveling in my daydreams, all the while keeping in mind one must: comfort.

For my a.m. look: I chose a soft sweater, skinny jeans, and the most broke-in pair of flats that I own (to avoid blisters). I accessorized through layering, which allows me to stay warm (indoors and out) while remaining comfortable.
sunglasses: Old Navy round metal-hardware (similar)
sweater: Abercrombie & Fitch cowl-neck (similar; similar)
top: Gap striped cowlneck (similar)
jacket: Zara jacket with zips (this season's version sold here; similar)
bag: H&M snake-embossed envelope (similar)
jeans: LOFT black modern skinny (sold here)
flats: Mossimo Desta ballet (similar)

For my p.m. look: I kept the core items from my morning look, but changed it up with the sweater styling and shoes (less walking, so heels are doable). Cowl-neck sweaters are so versatile and perfect for vacations when you want a range of looks but limited in suitcase space. Other ways of wearing these type of sweaters include: off both shoulders and with the cowl-neck draped down the front.

Be sure to check out all the other participants' outfits!
necklace: H&M with pearls & bow (similar)
ring: Forever 21 faceted faux gemstone (sold here)

Dots, Stripes, and Chains

by - Monday, October 24, 2011
Move over, blue and black chain scarf. This red and black version is currently on my list of favorite items. I was in such a hurry to wear it the first time that I forgot to take off the tags, hahaha.

Bf (in a loud voice): What is that thing hanging off your neck?!
Me: Oh. I must've forgot to cut the tags off. Can you rip it off?
Me (in a louder voice to no one in particular while looking for the store's security camera): I didn't steal this!

Lesson learned.
scarf: Collection 18 chain via Nordstrom Rack (should still be in stores; similar; similar)

Easy Pea-sy

by - Sunday, October 23, 2011
This Old Navy wool-blend cropped military jacket in heather green, size XS (sold here) was first on my list of outerwear wants (which is growing longer by the day, lol) this fall season. I tend to gravitate towards pea coat styles because I find them to be most flattering on me. I've also been on a green kick lately and absolutely loved the color on the website.

Pros: Color is a nice dark green, shoulders fit nicely, sleeve length is my preferred longer length.

Cons: There is a slight smell out of the box (must be the dye used), material made is on the thin side, too short, fit is a bit boxy.

I just don't love the jacket enough in person so it will be going back to the store. Old Navy, can you make this jacket in XS Tall? A tad longer would fit me nicely :)
sunglasses: Old Navy round metal-hardware (similar)
jackets: Old Navy wool-blend cropped military (sold here);
Abercrombie & Fitch denim (similar)
necklaces: J.Crew pearl and silk wrapped (similar);
Forever 21 knotted chain & rhinestone (similar)
tee: Old Navy split-neck tab-sleeve (sold here)
skirt: Forever 21 leatherette (similar)
ring: Forever 21 faceted faux gemstone (sold here)
bag: Balenciaga city (this season's version sold here)
flats: Mossimo Desta ballet (similar)

Washed Out

by - Friday, October 21, 2011
My first attempt at playing with manual settings results in washed out photos. Eep! A bright, sunny day combined with light colored clothing that blended together wasn't exactly the best time to venture into the unknown. I tried fixing the brightness/contrast in Photoshop to no avail :( The learning curve continues :)

Have a great weekend, everyone!
necklace: Etsy SewPetiteGal via giveaway (sold here)
jacket: American Eagle short peacoat (similar; similar)
shirt: Abercrombie & Fitch 3/4-sleeve tunic (similar)
belt: Old Navy grosgrain ribbon (similar; similar)
rings: Forever 21 love birds (similar; similar);
Forever 21 faceted faux gemstone (sold here)
jeans: Hollister boot destroyed (sold here; similar)

Military and Crochet

by - Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Another outfit with my favorite dress, but this time not worn as a skirt :) I don't know if it's the jacket, the long cardigan, or something else, but I like how the dress appears longer than normal. Whatever it is, I'll take it!
jacket: American Eagle surplus anorak (similar; similar; similar)
cardigan: Ann Taylor double-ribbed trim (sold here; similar)
belt: Madewell New England stripe (similar; similar)
ring: Forever 21 delicate etchings (similar)
shoes: Ann Taylor covered platform bootie (similar; similar)

Mirrorless Cameras

by - Monday, October 17, 2011
I've been toying with upgrading my little point-and-shoot for awhile now. DSLRs seemed like the next logical step because point-and-shoots just aren't equipped to take those cool blurry background type of pictures. So what was holding me back from taking the plunge? The daunting task of learning all the manual controls and photography lingo while lugging around a heavy camera.

Enter mirrorless cameras. If a point-and-shoot and DSLR ever made a baby, this neat little gadget would be it, with a combination of traits from both parents. The selling points for me were:
- Size: The body is bigger than a point-and shoot, but still much smaller than a DSLR, which allows me to continue carrying a camera with me everywhere I go.
- Picture quality: The ability to use interchangeable lenses allows for DSLR-type pictures, but I suppose this depends on the lens quality.
- Ease of use: There are automatic settings like point-and-shoots but also manual ones like DSLRs (for when I stop being a scaredy-cat).

After I've determined that mirrorless cameras have what I'm looking for, the next step is to find the exact one that best suits my needs. There are currently five brands on the market, but I found this article to be the most comprehensive at the time of publication (excludes the new Nikon). If you only have a few minutes, this article gave a nice summary.

In the end, I decided to go with the Sony Alpha NEX-3. The picture and lens quality is supposedly among the best in its class. The user interface is better suited for people upgrading from a point-and-shoot (like myself), as opposed to downgrading from DSLRs. The tradeoff I did make was the camera size. Sony has the smallest body but with the stock lens attached (biggest of all the brands), it's hard to pass for a compact camera.

I've been having so much fun playing with my new toy the last few days. Learning the camera setup hasn't been too difficult. The automatic setting "dumbs" things down for me nicely ("bkground defocus"?!), cool features like the sweep panoramic mode, but most of all, the picture quality is crisper than my point-and-shoot (with my skills, it's hard to tell unless I put photos side-by-side, lol).

Two goals for me in the near future are:
1) Figure out how to use the self-timer properly to focus. It's all fun and games when I'm behind the camera, but frustrating when the self-timer is set. If I had known how troublesome it is to take self-portraits, I would've paid more for the NEX-5, which at least could be used with a remote.
2) Slowly learn the manual controls and push the limits of what this camera is capable of. For now, outfit pictures using the automatic setting on a self-timer with wayward focus:
scarf: Collection 18 chain via Nordstrom Rack (should still be in stores; similar; similar)
tee: H&M basic jersey (similar)
scarf ring as ring: Talbots - gift from Elle (similar)
belt: J.Crew piped glitter (similar; similar)
bag: Longchamp medium LM metal (other colors sold here)
flats: Mossimo Desta ballet (similar)

Yay or Nay: Riding Boots

by - Friday, October 14, 2011
A pair of riding boots is at the top of my wishlist this season. I already own brown flat boots, so black riding boots was the color of choice. I was ecstatic to see a pair from H&M months ago, but never actually saw it in stores. Now that it's gone from their online site, I can only assume stores no longer have it in stock.

I then saw these Ann Taylor Betty Leather Trimmed Riding Boots in black, size 6 (sold here) on Vicky (who scored last season's version for $30!!!) and absolutely loved it on her. While googling for more info, I was happy to see that Ann Taylor decided to bring it back this season... albeit at a whopping $298. Luckily they had a huge sale last weekend and I bought a pair for $125. It's no $30, but it's a price I'm willing to pay for leather boots if it works out.

Like all other Ann Taylor footwear that I own (perfect patent pumps and covered platform booties), I took my usual size 6 for these boots, which turned out to be a perfect fit. The foot bed doesn't feel as comfortable as the perfect pumps, nor do they conform to my feet like the pumps do. I hope this is due to my not wearing socks when trying it on for the first time.

Other details to note: The buckle detailing (which I love) is adjustable, but I don't think it shrinks the circumference much. The inside zipper allows for easy access when putting on and taking off the boots. The material is a little on the shiny side, which I think will show wear and tear over time.

I measured the height of the boots to be almost 16", which includes the heel (~1"). The circumference is a little over ~14". For reference, from Ann Taylor's site: 15" shaft circumference, measured from a size 8. With each half size up or down, circumference increases or decreases by about 1/4".

I really do like these boots overall, but I'm wondering if it looks too short on me, especially from the side view. With these type of boots, would another 1-2" in height look better? Please help me decide whether to keep or return :)

Ties, the Bow Kind

by - Wednesday, October 12, 2011
I picked up this bow tie over Labor Day weekend, thinking it'd be a fun challenge to work into my wardrobe. I love Blair and Khatu's outfits with a bow tie, but the queen title goes to Diane Kruger. She pulls off all these different looks so well, with my favorite* being the one below.

I was "inspired" heavily by her outfit to recreate a more feminized version of my own. Besides this look, I'm thinking of going the traditional route of bow tie over a collared shirt next. Or perhaps even girlier with a bow tie in my hair. If you have any styling ideas, please do share!

Are you a fan of bow ties?
blazer: Express luxury stretch 1-button (similar; similar)
top: H&M tunic blouse (similar; similar)
bow tie: American Eagle (sold here; similar)
ring: Forever 21 faceted faux gemstone (sold here)
flats: Mossimo Desta ballet (similar)

*Diane Kruger image courtesy of InStyle.com

Last Rays

by - Monday, October 10, 2011
My drive into work this morning couldn't have been more enjoyable. Light traffic (more federal holidays please!), perfect weather (leftover from the weekend), and the sunroof open. What more could I ask for?

Off to soak up the last rays of this Indian summer. Happy Monday!
scarf: Esprit fringe (similar)
jacket: Abercrombie & Fitch denim (similar)
top: Hollister Los Trancos embroidered ruffles (similar)
bracelet: Forever 21 chain link (similar; similar)
ring: Forever 21 delicate etchings (similar)
skirt: Forever 21 scalloped linen blend (similar; similar)
clutch: H&M snake-embossed envelope (similar)
flats: Valentino bow ballerina (similar)

Shopping Style

by - Friday, October 07, 2011
I'm not much of an in-store shopper. Instead, I spend countless hours window shopping online. Through a few mouse clicks, I'm able to find things I like/dislike, look for deals, see the store inventory, etc. So when I do step foot inside stores, there are no surprises because I already know what I want. This "in-and-out" shopping mentality of mine drives bf crazy, especially when we grocery shop. He likes to take his sweet time looking through everything before making a decision. It took awhile, but we now compromise by divvying up the grocery list and meeting up later with our goods. I would come back with apple cider, veggies, and fruits only to see him still trying to decide between two brands of orange soda, lol!

I do believe my shopping style helps keep my spending in check because I've had ample time to figure out if I really love or need an item. There are certainly downsides though. Sometimes I forget things on my list because I don't walk through the entire store, or if the inventory differs online vs in-store. For example, I've never seen this H&M skirt (below) online, but I picked it up after passing through a random aisle. After trying it on, I decided to bring it home, mainly because it was the last small size left (horrible reason on my part). After a good night's sleep, I tried it on again, decided it's too tight and I don't really need it, so back to the store it goes. This example has a happy ending, but it could easily have gone the other way. Well, I don't have a skirt this shape, the fit is decent, and since I already bought it, I might as well keep it instead of making another trip out. I've figured out what works for me -- in-and-out keeps surprises to a minimum. If I didn't know an item exists, then I wouldn't know what I'm missing.

How would you describe your shopping style?
sweater: Abercrombie & Fitch cowl-neck (similar; similar)
ring: Forever 21 faceted faux gemstone (sold here)
skirt: H&M a-line mini (may still be in stores; similar)

Bundled Up

by - Wednesday, October 05, 2011
It was a chilly 45 degrees the other morning (I'm a wuss). Temperatures dropped suddenly overnight and I had forgotten how much is too much to wear at one time, so on everything went. I worked up a sweat in no time walking up and down this set of stairs. Hey, I'll take overly warm over shivering any day!
scarf: Spotted Moth lace and bobble via Kendi's giveaway (similar)
jacket: American Eagle surplus anorak (similar; similar; similar)
sweater: American Eagle slouchy v (similar; similar)
shirt: crewcuts Boys' popsicle gingham (this season's version sold here; similar)
ring: Forever 21 delicate etchings (similar)
bracelet: Forever 21 chain link (similar; similar)
bag: H&M snake-embossed envelope (may still be in stores; similar)
pants: LOFT black modern skinny (this season's version sold here)
socks: Forever 21 knee length (sold here)
boots: Old Navy plus wide-calf (this season's version sold here; the real deal)

Animal Instincts

by - Monday, October 03, 2011
The next Bloggers Do It Better challenge is all about animals. Prints? Textures? I rounded up two of my three animal-related items (faux fur vest with the snakeskin clutch) and went crazy with colors and texture pairings. Sorry for the sensory overload! Fall, I'm so ready for ya.
vest: Zara Girl fur waistcoat (sold here; similar; similar)
belt: J.Crew piped glitter (similar; similar)
rings: Forever 21 delicate etchings (similar); H&M filigree (similar)
clutch: H&M snake-embossed envelope (may still be in stores; similar)
shoes: Ann Taylor covered platform bootie (similar; similar)

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