Sunday, July 29, 2012

Old Navy Fitting Room Reviews

I popped into Old Navy to redeem my Super Cash and found quite a few cute new arrivals.

For those who were interested in seeing a better pic of the DIY necklace I was wearing in my PFC post, here it is:

Old Navy Dotted Chambray, XS, $25 (do not see online)
Elle was looking for a dotted chambray shirt on Twitter.  So when I saw this at the store, I decided to snap a pic of it.  Well, I fell in love with it.  Up till now, I had resisted the whole chambray trend and now I've finally succumbed, lol.  Thanks Elle for unintentionally enabling me ;)  The fit is a little big.  Usually ON button-downs in XS are very tight in the bust, but this one fit just fine.  I would say size down in this.
Verdict: Buy

Here's the tag - you can call Old Navy CS and they will locate it for you.

Printed Racerback Tank, Green Stripe, S, $18 (buy here)
I initially tried the XS, but the bust was too tight and I felt like I couldn't breathe.  The material is a really silky feeling fabric (I'm guessing a poly?).  The fit is blouse-y and a tiny bit on the low-cut side.  I'm planning on shortening the straps a little to mitigate that.  
Verdict: Buy.  My current favorite color is green (especially in a striped format) and I'm collecting green items left and right.

Split Neck Button Front Blouse, Navy Stripe, XS (buy here)
I loved the stripes on this, but wish it were a long-sleeved blouse instead (a la Kelly's Equipment blouse).  The XS is TTS, meaning the bust was tight and you can kind of seeing the gapping in between buttons here.  The torso fits a little blouse-y and the shoulders fit well.
Verdict: Passed, cute, but not a must-have
See on Gigi.

Buttoned Drop Shoulder Dolman Top, Cool Multi, S, $18 (buy here).
I loved this kind of color-blocked take on the classic striped tee, but I did not love the drop shoulder.  It makes everyone look like they have jiggly upper arm flab.  I always size up for tees to ensure my paunch is hidden, but this S was very big and roomy in the torso.  I would size down for this.
Verdict: No, do not like the drop shoulder
See on Gigi.

 Printed Ruffled Top, Navy Dot, XS, $25 (buy here)
After reading Gigi's post (linked below), I decided to see how this fit.  Overall, the fit was pretty good - skims the body without being too tight or loose.  The negatives?  The armholes were cut too low and the material is kind of see-through.
Verdict: No.  It's a cute top, but I don't need it.
See on Gigi.

Printed Racerback Tank, Warm Multi, XS, $20 (buy here)
Pretty print and colors!  Fits well with a good neckline that doesn't dip too low.  I think this would be adorable paired with a  cardi or blazer.
Verdict: No for now.  I came very close to purchasing this, but decided that I prefer the green striped one to this one.

Ruffle Trim Tie Belt Dress, XS, $30 (buy here)
Like Cee, I saw these green hearts and instantly thought of J. Crew's Heart Throb print.  I was a little confused by the partial ruffle.  It was like one ON designer wanted it plain and another wanted it ruffled.  As a compromise, they went halfway...and it looks kind of strange.  It's a slip-over-your-head type of dress with elastic at the waist.  The fit was decent (fits well as shoulders chest, a little loose at the waist, and armholes were not too big), but it was too low-cut and I didn't feel like it was very flattering on me.
Verdict: No, but it's a gorgeous print
See on Gigi and Cee.

I'm pretty impressed with Old Navy's offerings this season!  Are you a fan of their new items?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

PFC #18: What to Wear to Impress Your Date

This month's Petite Fashion Challenge is hosted by the lovely Amber (not only is she a gorgeous med school student, she's also an expert at eBaying and a fellow J. Crew fan) of Easy Petite Looks.

The Challenge: Impress Your Date
"I think this PFC will be a lot of fun for all of us, regardless of whether we’re single or in a relationship. The single ladies should be awesome at this. I’m excited to get some inspiration from you! For the taken ladies, we still need to dress up for date night (at least once in a while!!). Generally, I think we wear what makes us feel good, regardless of what other people think. But what is your secret for making your outfit a little more memorable?? Have fun with this one!" 
 **Bonus points for pics taken with your dates or on a girls night out!!.

I don't think I've dressed to impress my husband for years now.  I typically dress for myself / other women / comfort.  I guess this is what happens when you become an old (happily) married couple.  He hasn't complained so far, but I'll have to ask him what he thinks :)

Anyhoo, if you dial back 6 years, I would have worn the typical date garb of a LBD with high heels.  Fast forward to present day and I'd add a statement necklace and fun wrist wear.

Express Strapless Black Dress (crazy old)
DIY Geometric Necklace
Chanel Bag
Target Black Pumps

 Sporting red lips felt SO strange.  I'm more a bare lips / light gloss kind of gal so I had to keep fighting the urge to wipe it off.

This "headed" post is dedicated to reader, JC ;)

Sorry this is out of focus!  It was meant to show my accessories, but it nicely shows what I don't like about this dress.  I constantly have to tug at it to make it smooth.  Otherwise, it gives an unintentional ruching effect.

I don't have a picture of us on a date wearing this ensemble, but I do have a picture of us on one of our early dates as a new couple.  This was Halloween 2001 (hence the cat ears):  :)

Don't forget to check out the other entries here!

What do you wear to impress your date?

Past PFC Entries:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

J. Crew Dree Dress & Cotton Shift Reviews

When news of J. Crew's 40% off sale prices hit the internet, I eagerly started perusing the site and amassed a $500 shopping cart.  Once I calmed down, I started whittling down (did I really need a yellow pea coat and blazer?) and wound up buying a couple of things.

J. Crew Dree Dress in Deck Stripe, Sz 0 (not on sale, buy here)
Summer and fall looks - also wearing my J. Crew-inspired necklace, see tutorial here
I loved the stripes and silk material, but didn't love the elasticized waist because it really emphasizes just how rectangular I am.  I would also prefer a slightly lower hemline hitting the top of knees rather than being above it.  I do think it's a beautiful dress and looks very nice for spring, summer, and fall.  I especially love how it pairs with a leopard scarf for some light print mixing.
See on Gigi here.
Verdict: Return.  I love the stripes, but the general fit and price aren't compelling enough to make me want to keep it.

J. Crew Factory Cotton Shift Dress, Sz 0, $33 (tried on Modern Red here)
I had been stalking this dress since February.  The wide waistband helps carve out my waist and the lightly pleated skirt in combination with the semi-stiff fabric hides my belly.  It fades a little into my background here but is a nice light khaki color.  This is a great basic dress - flattering but not too body-conscious and work appropriate.
Verdict: Keep, great dress for a great price

I then popped over to the Gap family sites for the 30% promo and wound up buying some workout clothes and this dress:
Old Navy Color-Block Henley Tank Dress, M, $17.50 (purchased during 30% off, buy here)
When it comes to knits (especially ones that are cut flat), I always size up to camouflage the belly.  I tried both a Small and Medium. I ultimately decided on M for the torso looseness.  It doesn't look that great by itself - the tank straps make it too casual and beachy for my lifestyle - but I think it pairs very nicely with a blazer or cardigan.  I'd been looking for a wide-striped dress to recreate this pin.  I wish it didn't have the black button placket, but it's not that big of a deal.
Verdict: Keep.

Can you tell from the layering that I'm looking forward to fall?  I'm also returning to work at the end of August so am preparing for covered shoulders as well.

Any good finds from the recent rash of markdowns?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

J. Crew Inspired Knotted Crescent Necklace DIY Video Tutorial

I like a good DIY challenge.  So when Jen asked if the J. Crew OGJM Hyacinth Necklace was DIY-able, I gave it a shot.
J. Crew Inspiration ($150) ----> DIY Creation ($6 in materials)

Don't be scared off by crochet, there are no hard maneuvers in this tutorial.  The crescent is created with a series of repeated stitches.
Diagram of Crocheted Crescent
Want a more dramatic / thicker necklace?  Just increase the # of loops added.

Then I went a little crazy and made more colors.  Next up, yellow :)

Jen had also asked if this could be made by hand.  Technically, yes, but it looked horrendous when I tried.  Kelly found this tutorial if you'd like to try it by hand.

Yay or nay on these colorful necklaces?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Handkerchief Peplum Dress DIY + Mini Tutorial

Have you seen Jean in her white dress?  If you have, you can guess why I all of a sudden wanted one too :)  Shopping for a white sheath can be a bit of a nightmare because I need a dress with the following qualities: must not be see-through, must fit proportions well, must hide tummy, and must be a "deal" of some sort.  That's a tall order, and one unlikely to be filled without a good deal of shopping around, so I went to the fabric store instead.  While searching for a white ponte knit (and getting disappointed by the $13/yd price tag), I found a heavy white knit instead (on crazy sale for $2.50/yd).  It's a little thicker than ponte and a little less stretchy.  Both qualities help in the "hide tummy" camp :)

I started with the white sheath and felt like it needed a little extra something when I finished.  I decided to add a removable handkerchief peplum.
Dress with and without peplum - I prefer the "with" (at least for now)

DIY White Sheath Dress w/ Removable Handkerchief Peplum
Amrita Singh Sag Harbor Necklace, Lapis 
Gucci d'Orsay Pumps, Camel
Michael Kors Watch
Hermes & J. Crew Bracelets
Melie Bianco Ariana Bag (giveaway win via Kileen of Cute and Little)

Handkerchief Peplum Tutorial
So how do you make a handkerchief peplum?  Remember my pencil skirt + removable peplum tutorial here?  Follow the same instructions to determine the radius for your waist cut-out.
Cut out that arc and then hem your edges.  Voila, handkerchief peplum!

(Note: Since this fabric was a plain white solid, I folded it into quarters and cut out the waist.  This results in a large square with a circle in the middle.  Simply cut from one edge of your square up to the circle, hem the cut edges, and add closure to get your removable peplum.)

What kind of peplum do you prefer - round, handkerchief, other?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

J. Crew Reviews: July Sale Items

Like a moth to a flame, I cannot stay away from a good J. Crew sale.

Dizzy Anchors Dress, Sz 0, (buy here)
I'm a little anchor-obsessed so literally pounced on this dress.  I love the print (seems much more proportional in dress form than as a mini skirt, see here) and the overall fit.  Shoulders / chest / waist all fit well.  Neckline isn't too low.  Flared skirt masks the pooch.  The only part I didn't like was the ruffle at the bottom.  It seems to make it look a little juvenile?  Maybe it's just me.
Verdict: No, would prefer it sans ruffle

Lucille Dress in Lace, Bright Sun, Sz 0 (buy here)
I adore the color of this in the picture.  However, in real life, it was very neon yellow.  Gigi described a similar J. Crew color best as being "sour" with green undertones.  That fits this color to a T.  The fit was perfect - slim, but not tight, good length, and still hides that tummy.
Verdict: No, but will be looking for this dress cut in a different color

Ribbon Stripe Boatneck Tee, Ivory Neon Green, XXS (buy here)
Even though this is still listed as a new arrival on the website, it was already marked down at my local store.  I think the price was $19.99?  But not positive.  The XXS fit nicely in the body, but the sleeves felt too tight.  I loved the color scheme!
Verdict: No, XXS was the only size left and I definitely need XS.

Silk Bow Cami, Brilliant Purple, Sz 00, $21 (buy here)
I had been eyeing this top since it first hit the stores and was ECSTATIC to see that it had been marked down to $29.99 (originally $98) and then further discounted with an additional 30% off sale items.  It looks like a cobalt blue here but it's actually a nice, deep purple.  My store did not have my usual size of 0 so I was glad the 00 fit well in the shoulders / chest with just a bit of extra room in the torso.

When it comes to shopping, which store do you have a weakness for?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Easy Ruffled Collar Top DIY Tutorial

I saw this scarf print fabric on sale at my local fabric store and scooped it up to make a fun, summery top.  You can make one too by sewing 2 rectangles together - easy, right?

Full tutorial after the jump.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Postpartum Fitness: Newbie Running

Today's post is atypical in 2 ways.  1 - It has nothing to do with DIY or shopping.  2 - This is a word-driven post rather than a picture-driven one.  Bear with me and I'll get you back to regularly scheduled programming on Sunday :)

The Postpartum Body
After my first pregnancy, the pounds and fat melted away rather easily.  At about 6 months postpartum, I was actually 10lbs under my pre pregnancy weight from breast milk production (burning ~500 calories a day).  Of course, once that stopped, my weight went back to normal at what I guess is it's state of equilibrium.

Fast forward to today.  I'm 9 months postpartum from my 2nd pregnancy and though my weight is at equilibrium state, my body, sadly, is not.  Frustrated, I did the one thing I've never really stuck with  before - I ran.

Getting Started
You must be thinking, "Big whoop, tons of people run. Why is it such a big deal that you started?"  Well, my friends, I am that special combination of a person who not only is crazy slow, but also hates running.  Yes, the gasp-y, out-of-breath, super sweaty person who can't catch her breath even at a 15+ minute pace.

I started slow.  My goal was to run as long as I could without taking walking breaks.  Why?  Given that I have "daikon legs", I didn't want to bulk them further with intense interval training (my brief track career in sprinting made my calves much bigger).  Plus, I tend to cheat at intervals.  Taking a few extra seconds at each break until I'm pretty much just walking the whole time.

On Day 1, I ran a whopping 0.25 miles and felt like I was going to throw up a lung.  Thankfully, each day got a little better and after 2 weeks of running everyday, I was running 2 miles followed by a 1 mile walking cool-down.  I was feeling good!  I lost an inch each in the tummy and hip area (excess water I'm sure, but still very motivating).

Getting Invested
At this point, I was feeling all athletic and proud so I started investing in my new sport.  By the way, I should note that I still hated running, but I loved the feeling of accomplishment afterwards.  I bought new shoes, a visor, and a modern fanny pack (hehe, never thought THAT was going to happen).

SPIbelt (buy here) holds my iPhone & keys
I love this thing!  Does not ride up or fall down. Can be easily concealed under my shirt if desired.

The shoes were a mistake.  Blinded by the sale signs, I purchased some Asics a 1/2 size too small (you should purchase running shoes a 1/2 size larger) than normal in hopes I could just stretch them out through enough wears.  At a $2 price tag (I had $30 in rewards), I just couldn't resist.  At first, they felt good as Asics cushioning really can't be beat, but then my wide feet, which got wider after pregnancy, started to run into the sides and cause some pain.  I tried a shoe-stretcher but I just couldn't get comfortable in them.

Getting Injured
When I thought buying new, more expensive shoes was the worst thing to happen, I strained my hip flexor.  I limped around the house for a few days and started to feel dejected.  I needed that post-workout high!  Every time I tried to run, a shooting pain in my hip would stop me.

I turned to low-impact activities like the elliptical (sooooo boring compared to running outside) and riding my bike.  To hopefully keep up the intensity of running, I followed the 2/3 rule from one of the running forums.  I would do 3 miles of low-impact activity to try to mimic my 2 miles of running.  It wasn't the same, but I kept telling myself I'd be back on the road soon.

Every few weeks, I would test out how running felt and would feel my hip tighten.  After 5 weeks, I went to physical therapy.  I learned some stretches and exercises that will hopefully strengthen my hip.  I tried to run again after an additional 2 weeks of PT + low impact exercises, but my hip acted up after 0.5 miles.  Hubby pointed me towards a running article in his issue of Mens' Health and suggested that my running posture was exacerbating things.  I'm apparently a heel-striker when I should be running on the balls of my feet.  New news to me!  Makes sense though if I think about animals adapted to running.

Forefoot Striking & Shuffling
I've been running with a forefoot strike for a month now and my hip only acts up every once in a while.  On a side note, I can't believe this strained hip flexor is still so sensitive after nearly 3 months!  My knees bug me every once in a while during runs, but if I shuffle, I find it goes away.  Changing my foot strike has made a huge difference, but it felt like starting from square 1 again in terms of slowly building up distance.  Forefoot striking places much more emphasis on my calves (fingers crossed that they do not bulk up from this!) and it took me 3 weeks to get back to running 2 miles continuously.  I've been running in a pair of decade-old Adidas sneakers and the sole flew off the other day.  At the moment, they are gorilla-glued back on, but I know I definitely need new shoes now.  My next "fitness" post will revolve around running shoe reviews.

And if you're wondering, the weight loss / body changes have plateaued.  My legs are toning up continuously, but that belly is staying put at the moment.  Must work through this stage!

I know that was one heck of a long (and boring) post.  If you've read this far, you deserve a big hug :)

For any runners out there, do you have any tips to share?  Shoes to recommend?  My eventual goal will be to run 3 continuous miles on a daily basis.  That way, I'll be 5K-ready for all of my company's races.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Old Navy & Ann Taylor Fitting Room Reviews

Enticed by the thought of July 4th sales, I headed to the mall to see what was available.

Old Navy Printed Cuffed Shorts, Blueberry Smoothie, Sz 2, $19 (buy here)
Aren't these blue gingham shorts adorable?  I think these are a new-ish arrival because they weren't marked on sale and seemingly very popular because there were only 3 left in my store.  The waist runs big (sits at hips) in these shorts so I had to size down.
Verdict: Undecided.  Print is adorable but it's a little too short for me (indicated by the visibility of my running shorts tan line).  

Old Navy Plain Front Capris, Raspberry Punch, Sz 4, $28, (buy here)
I've been looking for slim-fitting fuchsia pants (Jean & Cee make them look so good!) and this pair comes so close to being perfect!  The color, length and slim leg fit were exactly what I was looking for. The only negative?  It seemed to enhance my pear-shape with a wider cut at the hips.
Verdict: No for now, but may consider on further sale

Ann Taylor Minimal Strokes Print Pencil Skirt, Sz 2, (buy here)
Such a cute print!  Fits well and sits just above the hips.  This wasn't on sale so was a bit pricey at $88.
Verdict: No, too expensive and a little too short for my taste

Ann Taylor Striped Diagonal Seamed Dress, SP, (buy here)
I saw the stripes and I had to try it on.  I should have known better though.  My body type just does not look right in dresses like these - I look like one stripe-y rectangle.  I loved the all the different aligned stripes though!
Verdict: No, not for my body type

Ann Taylor Compact Double Weave Cropped Jacket, Sz 0 (buy here)
I'm still looking for a white blazer of some sort.  This fit well in the shoulders, chest, and arms but the torso was so boxy.  Overall, gave me a matronly look that I'm not quite ready to indulge in.
Verdict: No

Banana Republic Blue / Cream Enamel Necklace, $18 (no longer see online)
I love all things striped so imagine my elation when I spied this "striped" necklace :)
Verdict: Yes, yes, yes

And my OOTD composed entirely of older items from my closet:
Banana Republic Melon Top w/ Braided Detail
Old Navy Charcoal Tie Shorts
J. Crew Turquoise Necklace (a gift from my friend B :) )
Rebecca Minkoff MAC (w/ chains doubled up)
Aerosoles Slides (comfort for the weary footed)

I wasn't too impressed with any sale items this time around, so escaped the mall with just one necklace.  Did you go sale shopping?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Going Overboard w/ Nautical DIYs

Quickie post today on some recent DIYs.

Nautical, nautical, nautical.  I feel like that's the only theme that runs through my head nowadays.  There's even a small Twitter group (Aubrey, Cee, ElleYing and me), wittily dubbed the Anchor Brigade by Elle, devoted to nautically inspired shopping finds :)

Sailor's Knot Anchor Bracelet

Triple Wrap Bracelet w/ Anchor Closure

Striped Pearl Ribbon Bracelet (buy here)

Bronze Anchor Earrings
Gold Anchor Earrings
Sailboat Earrings

Red, White & Blue (and Gray) Leatherette Bracelet

Past nautical DIYs, click on pictures for full post:

Nautical bracelets and Looped rope necklace

Nautical skirt and Lighthouse peplum top

Have you gone overboard with nautical?  (Yes, I'm cheesy like that)


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