San Francisco + Napa

by - Thursday, May 31, 2012
Warning: Picture heavy post ahead. Not recommended if you're hungry.

I've been to San Francisco once before, many moons ago with my parents. I didn't fully appreciate it then for all I cared about was how cold and windy it was in the middle of summer. This time around, older and wiser, I was determined to make the most of my trip... with less whining.

When in the city, we stayed at Hotel Whitcomb. The hotel had a certain old-world charm that I marveled at even if it wasn't my preferred style. The area surrounding the hotel was a bit sketchy at night, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to families, but being aware and using common sense always helps.

For two days, we toured the city and hit up the usual touristy spots: Fisherman's Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge and nearby park, Lombard Street (what a workout it was), and rode the cable cars for their money's worth. One of the most fascinating things during the trip was hearing all the different languages being spoken around me, even if most were tourists. I thought DC was diverse, but SF truly is a melting pot.
[photo above]: Lombard Street - how do the residents put up with gaggles of tourists all the time?
[photo below]: turning the cable car around for the next set of passengers

Petite Fashion Challenge #16: Summer Wedding

by - Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Hosted by Lauren @ Petite on a Penny, Petite Fashion Challenge #16: Summer Wedding has us creating an outfit for a summer wedding (the dress code is up to you). For bonus points, try to make your whole outfit, head to toe, come in under $100! (Or, exclude shoes and accessories to meet the $100 mark.)

Most of the summer weddings I've attended in the past featured an outdoor ceremony with an indoor reception. I kept the possibility of temperature variances in mind when selecting an appropriate outfit as a guest.

Outdoor ceremonies could very well occur on a hot and humid day, so I tend to favor dresses in lighter colors or ones with breathable fabric (or both). For this challenge, I went with the latter, a dark-colored dress in silk. The dress isn't clingy and flows nicely as I move -- great for dancing the night away.

The dress is on the casual side, so I dressed it up through accessories and strappy sandals. There's something about metallics that just scream "fancy" to me (shiny objects = bling, lol). I also brought along a shawl in case temperatures cool by nightfall. Ideally I would've preferred one with a nicer fabric, but I worked with what I had in my closet and loved the lilac pairing with navy.
I didn't even come close under the $100 mark for the outfit. If I exclude shoes and accessories, then yes, I'm under (but that would mean I cheated because the only item left is the dress). The cost breakdown for my outfit:
$9 Forever 21 gypsy necklace (similar)
$6 H&M gold leaf cuff (similar)
$27 Banana Republic solid jersey wrap (similar)
$0 BCBG bow clutch via Sunshine's giveaway (sold here)
$66 Lauren by Ralph Lauren Aela shoes (similar)

The Little Details

by - Tuesday, May 29, 2012
I thought I had expertly hidden the belt tied around my skirt into the folds of the scarf. Ummm, not even close. Not.even.close. Bf was too busy snapping away* while I was on the lookout for oncoming cars, so neither of us paid any attention to details. Oh, if only life's problems were so trivial.

Hope your week's off to a good one!
sunglasses: Old Navy round metal-hardware (similar)
necklace: Forever 21 curb chain (similar)
tee: H&M (similar)
ring: Forever 21 faux stone (sold here)
belt: Forever 21 braided (similar)
scarf as belt: Collection 18 chain via Nordstrom Rack (similar)
flats: Mossimo Desta ballet (similar)

*Photo credit: thanks to my bf

Review: White House Black Market Geo-Print Wrap Dress

by - Monday, May 28, 2012
Many years ago, I fell in love with a line of dresses from White House Black Market's spring/summer collection. I tried on a few, found them to run big (size 0 was the smallest at the time), yet bought one with no occasion for it because I loved the print. Sadly it sat in my closet unworn until I finally came to my senses and sold it on eBay. Since then I've kept tabs on their dress collection, but nothing's caught my eye, until now.

I've been on a lattice kick as of late, first seeing a Tart dress in this pattern (was too late to the game, can't find it anymore) and then a J.Crew iPad cover in a similar pattern (happy to say I got my hands on this). So imagine my giddiness when I saw this pattern in a gradient version on a WHBM dress.

Still unsure of their sizing, I ordered the Geo-Print Wrap Dress in sizes 00 and 0 (sold here) for $138 + 20% off = $110.40 to try on. There wasn't much of a noticeable difference in fit between the two, with the exception of the neckline -- the v-neck felt higher with less gaping in size 00 for me. Size 0 measured 0.5" larger all around.

Approximate measurements:
Size 00 - Length: 36.5"; Across bust, below armpits: 14"; Waist: 11"
Size 0 - Length: 37"; Across bust, below armpits: 14.5"; Waist: 11.5"

I don't have much experience with WHBM items, but this dress looks to be pretty well made. It's lined and made of decently thick material (95% polyester and 5% spandex). The dress fits very comfortably and doesn't seem to wrinkle easily, a nice plus.

Wrap dresses are supposedly universally flattering, but I didn't really feel tall and slim like the model looked above. That reason combined with uncertainty over whether the wrap dress is "me" has me leaning towards returning the dress. However, I really do love the print. Help me decide: should I return, wait for further sale, or keep?

For reference, I'm wearing size 00 in the following photos:

Shorts Weather

by - Saturday, May 26, 2012
Oh how I've missed the hot and humid weather back home. Hello shorts weather, perfect for this long holiday weekend. For people who have Monday off, have a good one!
sunglasses: Old Navy round metal-hardware (similar)
necklace: Forever 21 twisted chain (similar)
blazer: H&M (similar)
top: H&M - gift from Elle (similar)
shorts: Old Navy (similar)
ring: Forever 21 pearlescent cluster (similar)
shoes: Via Spiga Missy (sold here)

H&M Bag + BRB

by - Sunday, May 20, 2012
I went to H&M with my 35% off coupon (thanks SPG!) hoping to find a pair of ballet flats. I left home in the outfit below [left] and came back with a new bag instead [right].
blazer: theory (similar) / shirt: J.Crew (sold here) / necklace: H&M (similar) / tank: Old Navy (sold here) / belt: Old Navy (similar) / shorts: Old Navy (sold here) / ring: Forever 21 (similar) / shoes: Via Spiga (sold here) / bag: [left] Longchamp (sold here)

A dome-shaped bag with a long strap has long been on my wishlist ever since seeing photos of Olivia Palermo with her Chloe Gemma. I would've gladly forked over the money for the Chloe but like most things, I was late to the game.

I was happy to see this H&M bag in stores because it fit all the requirements I was looking for: simple design, dome shape, long strap. At the same time, I was hesitant because I'm unsure of the quality holding up over time. The bag retails for $24.95 + 35% off = $16.22, which I figured is a good enough deal for me to try out. The imitation leather is pebbled and on the thin side. The bag is very lightweight. There were some loose threading, so it's best to carefully look over in stores. The color is a pretty taupe-pink, where its true colors are shown in my modeling photos (not the one directly below).
Dimensions: 12" in height; 13" x 7.5" across the bottom; 5.5" drop for double straps; 50" is the max length for long strap.

Though I can wear the bag over the shoulders, it's most comfortable when hand-held or worn crossbody. When loaded with all my stuff, the bottom does sag. I wish there were extra padding on the bottom to avoid sagging, but for the price, that's probably asking for too much.

I'll get to test this bag's durability because I'm bringing it with me to San Francisco/Napa Valley for the next few days. Crossing my fingers that all the hardware and straps will be able to handle all my stuff through multiple layovers and sight-seeing. It'll be my third time in CA and I absolutely can not wait to gorge myself with food, sights, and sounds. Be back soon!
[left -> right] cellphone / J.Crew magic wallet / Canon camera / Vera Bradley Camellia sunglasses case / checkbook / keys / iPad / pens / Sony camera / Vera Bradley coin purse / Banana Republic scarf

Zippers & Chains

by - Saturday, May 19, 2012
It certainly wasn't my intention to purposely wear multiple zipper-ed (jacket, pants) and chain-ed (necklace, bag) items in one outfit. As a result, I'm sure every one of my coworkers heard me coming down the hall yesterday. Note to self: don't wear this outfit on days where I leave early/arrive late.
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
necklaces: Ann Taylor winter sparkle (similar); Forever 21 curb chain (similar)
tee: H&M (similar)
belt: Express (this season's sold here)
pants: Zara TRF cargo trousers (similar)


by - Thursday, May 17, 2012
I had pinned this image awhile back with every intention of trying out each of the 12 new (to me) ways to tie a belt. Fast forward to now, and I've yet to try a single one. I had forgotten about my pin until this morning when I was struggling with my wide brown belt. My belt was ultimately too wide and too short for intricate loops and knots. So I improvised and came up with something close to #6. Ehh... it's not the best, but it worked for my purposes.

PS - My new wedges are currently $125 with an extra 30% off and free shipping. I went up half a size due to slightly wide feet and they fit me perfectly. I wore them all day and am happy to report no blisters, no pinching; it's as if I was walking on air.
sunglasses: Old Navy round metal-hardware (similar)
necklace: H&M (similar)
sweater: Old Navy button-back 3/4-sleeve pullover (sold here)
belt: Express (this season's sold here)
ring: Spotted Moth via Kendi's giveaway (similar)
wedges: Via Spiga Missy (sold here)

Bow In Back

by - Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Today's outfit is inspired by copied from this image. An oversized bow adds instant cuteness to an otherwise average look. I only have so much time left to wear "cute" outfits, so gotta make the most of it now :) I digress. Since I chose to pair a necklace with my outfit, I tied the bow in the back (didn't want too many competing items in front).

Happy Wednesday!
sunglasses: Old Navy round metal-hardware (similar)
necklace: Forever 21 jersey & chain (similar; similar)
jacket: Abercrombie & Fitch (similar)
top: Ann Taylor (similar)
bracelet: Forever 21 sparkling woven (sold here)
ring: Forever 21 pearlescent cluster (similar)
sash as belt: J.Crew (similar)
flats: Sam Edelman Hera (similar)

Prep for Spring

by - Monday, May 14, 2012
I don't have much to say today, so just a short post to kick off the work week. Have a great Monday, everyone!
necklace: Forever 21 curb chain (sold here
cardigan: Old Navy (this season's sold here)
belt: Forever 21 (similar)
skirt: Express (similar)

Hello Yellow

by - Saturday, May 12, 2012
Yellow, my favorite color to brighten up a rainy day. Or like most East Coasters have experienced this week, multiple rainy days. Thank goodness for some sunshine this weekend. Have a good one!
sweater: Old Navy button-back 3/4-sleeve pullover (sold here)
scarf ring as ring: Talbots - gift from Elle (similar)
jeans: Hollister boot destroyed (sold here)

Ahoy Matey

by - Thursday, May 10, 2012
I have to give all credit to SewPetiteGal and Aubs for their all-things-anchor enabling the last few weeks. I'm such a sucker and didn't even put up much of a fight. Little anchors is such a fun print to wear and accessorize in. Thanks SPG for bringing this scarf to my attention!
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
scarf: eBay (sold here)
necklace: Forever 21 curb chain (sold here
ring: Forever 21 faux stone (sold here)
jacket: American Eagle surplus anorak (similar; similar)
top: Old Navy (similar)
belt: Express (this season's sold here)
pants: Gap broken-in straight khakis (sold here

Printed and Draped

by - Tuesday, May 08, 2012
The one day I decide to plan my outfit around my shoes, they're nowhere to be found. Black patent pumps would've finished off today's outfit nicely. Instead, it was a toss-up between these snakeskin pumps, booties, or too-tall pumps. Familiarity won, so here's another outfit featuring distressed jeans paired with light-colored shoes.

Have a great Tuesday!
scarf as top: Collection 18 chain via Nordstrom Rack (similar)
bracelets: Forever 21 sparkling woven (sold here);
ring: Forever 21 textured horse shoe (similar)
jeans: Hollister boot destroyed (sold here)

Same But Different

by - Saturday, May 05, 2012
Yet another outfit with the same combination of sweater + pants. This time around, I accessorized for a casual look for cooler temperatures. Same old, but slightly different.

Have a great weekend, everyone!
sunglasses: Old Navy round metal-hardware (similar)
scarf: Esprit (similar)
sweater: Old Navy button-back 3/4-sleeve pullover (sold here)
belt: J.Crew piped glitter (similar)
ring: Forever 21 faux stone (sold here)
pants: Gap broken-in straight khakis (sold here
bag: agnes b (similar) - gift from cousin

Seeing Dots

by - Thursday, May 03, 2012
I went to Woodbury Common for the first time last weekend. It lived up to the hype; outlet shopping won't be the same for me again.

After walking around for a ridiculous eight hours (have to get our money's worth on gas, lol), I left with a single item, a theory Richia W dress in navy/natural polka dots (may still be at outlets - tag info). It was marked down to $79 with an additional 25% off dresses that weekend. Not bad for a dress that's 100% silk.
The smallest size left at the store was a 4, which I eyeballed and concluded may work for me. My friend K took one look and said, "no way, it'll be too big". Unfortunately, K was right and I need to get my eyes checked. The armhole was big, v-neck a bit low, and the waist loose (sorry for the lack of photos). K and I talked about potential alterations: slimming the sides (vetoed, too costly due to side zipper), raising the neckline and armholes by shortening the straps at the shoulders (no, would leave a visible seam), and shortening the straps from the back (see pic below) where the two pieces of fabric met (best idea because seam would remain hidden due to the design and shouldn't be too costly). Sigh, I know I should already be seeing these problem spots and potential solutions myself, but it's much easier (and more fun) shopping with a friend who sews :)
While I mulled things over, K suggested that I go stalk this other girl walking around with the same dress in case she puts hers back on the rack (tempting, but the only subtle stalking I know how is online) or ask an SA to check sizes at other stores across the country (can't believe the style finder option completely slipped my mind). The only issue with the latter is that I wasn't sure if a size 2 would still be loose or if a size 0 would be too tight. K recommended a size 0 and well, after my eyes misjudged a size 4, I shouldn't be trusted. Luckily the SA was able to locate the last size 0 in the entire country for me. Hallelujah! Shipping was $15 (high, but I really wanted the dress), so I figured it essentially canceled out the 25% off promo. If you're my size and interested in the dress, it wouldn't hurt to call a store in case there's been returns.

The dress in size 0 fit me so much better than the 4 (neckline: perfect, armhole: still a teensy bit big, waist: just right). Thank you K for your awesome eye for detail. This dress' style is a bit maternity-ish, with the higher waistline flaring out slightly to a tulip skirt. When the wrong gust of wind blows by, it certainly looks like I could be pregnant (need proof?) For that reason, it may be hard to pull off, but I'm determined to try. I just couldn't pass up the adorable print. I like the size of the polka dots on me, it has pockets, the colors are classic and neutral, and it's just a fun dress overall to wear throughout spring and summer.

I know, polka dots are everywhere, and I'm probably the last person to hop aboard the bandwagon, even if it was accidental. Are you a fan or are you ready for the next trend?
sunglasses: Old Navy round metal-hardware (similar)
necklace: Forever 21 twisted chain (sold here)
dress: theory Richia W (similar; similar)
ring: Forever 21 textured horse shoe (similar)
bag: agnes b (similar) - gift from cousin
flats: Sam Edelman Hera (similar)

Look for Less: LOFT Shoe Reviews

by - Tuesday, May 01, 2012
I was eyeing two pairs of sandals during Shopbop's 20% off Friends & Family sale last week. I took too long hemming and hawing, so by the time I was ready to buy, my sizes were sold out. Luckily LOFT's 40% off Friends & Family sale occurred a day later because I found dupes for both pairs. Thank you, shoe Gods!

Sam Edelman Gigi sandals [left] vs. LOFT Vaughn sandals in white snakeskin print, size 6 [right]:
I like how the Gigis have the signature (I think?) Sam Edelman cushioned padding. They certainly helped with comfort in my one prior experience with the brand. The LOFT pair doesn't have the same padding, but otherwise looks the same as the Gigis.

I found these sandals to run true to size. The footbed isn't the most comfortable, but that's to be expected without padding. I would compare the the type of material used (thickness, flexibility, etc) and level of comfort similar to J.Crew capri sandals (which I used to own) and Old Navy Faux-Leather Capri sandals (currently own).

The buckle closure was my biggest issue with these sandals. There's an elastic portion right next to the buckle, so every time I pulled, trying to undo the closure, the elastic part stretched but the buckle wouldn't budge. Am I just a n00b with chubby fingers? I can already see myself struggling with the closure every morning, so sadly, this pair will be going back to LOFT.

Sam Edelman Sophie sandals [left] vs. LOFT Frances color pop wedges in safari tan, size 6 [right]:
I wanted a pair of sandals with two thicker straps across the front and a thick/wide wooden heel. Though neither fit the heel requirement, I felt the lower heel (~2") was a good compromise and didn't look too clunky. I also liked the nude color of the top strap -- doesn't cut off your legs. I can see these wedges being dressed up with skirts and worn casually with jeans.

I took my usual size 6 in these wedges and felt they run a bit long in length and on the narrow side in width. My foot wasn't hanging off the side edges, but my toes do look a bit squished (pic below). The roominess in front didn't feel as significant as it looks in photos -- though I do wonder if the extra space will bother me over time. Sizing down probably wouldn't work because of the narrow width. The ankle strap could be slightly more snug (top strap isn't adjustable), but so far, no almost-twisting-the-ankles while briskly walking around at home.
The best feature is the back zipper. I struggled with the buckle closure of the Vaughn sandals, so it was a relief that I didn't have to fiddle with the strap on this pair. If I had to nitpick, the zipper doesn't glide as smoothly as I'd like, but using one hand to pull the material taut before unzipping helped.

I wore the wedges around the house and barely noticed I had shoes on. They're comfortable and it helped that the material is lightweight. I can possibly see a need to break in the ankle straps as they might cause blisters. But for now, I'm leaning towards keeping this pair because I love the colors and style. Please help me decide -- should I keep or return these wedges?

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