Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Blogger Profile: P of Phiphi's Blog

P of Phiphi's Blog is a recent blog find of mine, but I fell in love with her beautiful and sophisticated pairings pretty much at first sight.  The fact that she was also a fellow mother pretty much cemented the deal.  Inspirational blogger at a similar life stage?  Yes please, I could definitely use the tips!

About You:
  • Tell us 5 random things about yourself:
1. I consider myself a big nerd and geek.
2. I eat only muffin tops.
3. I drink one coffee and one peppermint tea every day.
4. I can't type on an Ipad or Iphone properly to save my life.
5. I am always cold, no matter what.
  • Aside from blogging, what are your hobbies? 
Outside of blogging, I am an amateur wannabe cook and love to plot and plan meals and recipes. In the past year, I've also started doing a lot more photography.
  • What are you looking forward to in the next year? 
I'm looking forward to some quieter time at work, so that I can enjoy spending more time with my family.

Your Blog:
  • What inspired you to blog?
My husband encouraged me to blog and document my shopping and outfit adventures. My best friend, I, also encouraged me to blog more seriously. She doesn't live in the same city as I do, but before the blog, we often described our outfits of the day to eachother, or took blackberry pictures and sent them as a way to keep in the loop - it was our little way of staying in touch with each other. I wear the outfits you see on my blog in real life, it's like I'm documenting my day to day journey, so after a while it just became a "why email this to me, when you can blog it so other people can see it!". Blogging lets me be creative, too, so I started doing this more regularly in March 2012, and it's been a fun and fantastic journey since then.
  • Where did your blog name come from?
I feel like my blog name is so boring! LOL. I really just wanted something straight-forward, because everything I came up with was not creative or clever. I was looking to do a journal of sorts with this blog, and Phiphi is my nickname, so it just fit.
  • What is your favorite part of blogging?
Hands down, it is the lovely people I've met through blogging that has been my favourite thing. I love finding out where people live, and hearing about different things that are going on in their lives. It really means so much to me when someone comments on the blog or if they email me, too - it just makes my day.

Your Style:
  • What is currently on your wishlist? Would any items change if you won the lottery?
I know that i need a few more solid sweaters this season. I'd love a vacation, though. That's a big wishlist item, and the location would change if I won the lottery!
  • What are your top 5 wardrobe staples for fall? 
1. a nice and structured coat or trench 2. a tweed blazer 3. a wool sweater 4. a sturdy bag that can handle cold and rain 5. a good, fun pair of boots
  • What are your favorite purchases this year?
Hands down this year, I would have to say my Kelly bag. The bag is my milestone birthday gift to myself, and my "you're grown up now" bag.

  • And a random one - what was your style as a teenager? How (if applicable) has it changed today?
As a teenager, I was dorky and geeky. No fashionista wardrobe here, but my mom kept us pretty stylishly dressed. I lived in jeans and rugby shirts/sweatshirts back then.

Couldn't resist a shot of P in a SPG creation :)

So many pinnable looks, thanks P!
Big huge thank you to Cee, Elle, and P for answering my questions and filling in for me during our move!  You ladies are awesome!  If you missed any of these profiles, please click on the links in their names above :)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Blogger Profile: Elle of Fast Food & Fast Fashion

I fell in love with Elle of Fast Food & Fast Fashion's style a couple of years ago when I came across her WIFW (wear it five ways) posts.  I thought it was genius that she tested out remixes and could come up with SO many different and creative ways to wear a single item.  She can also review an item like nobody's business.  Extremely detailed, thoughtful, and well-written posts often comparing multiple sizes (and noting their measurements) so that we can all have a clear picture of what might or might not fit from the comfort of our homes.  Let's get to know Elle a bit better, shall we?  :)

Signature Elle - feminine and chic

About You:
  • Tell us 5 random things about yourself:
  1. I have unpierced ears (I am too pain-averse to have considered it) 
  2. studied Latin and Greek
  3. have been at my current height since about age 12
  4. love dogs but never actually owned one
  5. was a three-sport athlete in high school
  • Aside from blogging, what are your hobbies? 
I enjoy running and run nearly everyday. I also play lacrosse and toss the football with my boyfriend in the warmer months.
  • What are you looking forward to in the next year? 
My work responsibilities will probably change drastically in the latter part of next year and I will likely be traveling a lot more for work. I am at once excited and a little nervous about the challenge but look forward to that change of pace.

Absolute perfection = tweed + pearls + sparkle

Your Blog:
  • What inspired you to blog?
I started blogging in late 2010 after becoming loyal readers of several fashion blogs and was eager to develop and share my own style journey. I was also relatively new to a 9-5 job and desperately needed a creative outlet that allowed me to explore this part of my interest outside of work.
  • Where did your blog name come from?
I get asked this a lot but I don't have a great answer. I like fast fashion stores and love fast food even more - it made sense at the time but not a lot of thought was put forth in coming up with a more creative name.
Detailed review of the J. Crew Big-shot Dot Dress 
  • What is your favorite part of blogging?
The friendships I've forged with other bloggers and readers and the feedback that I've received - comments, good or bad, have made me a more mature person in learning to accept criticism instead of take offense to them.
  • What is the most surprising thing you've encountered while blogging? 
How small this world is! I sometimes recognize names and faces of people from my offline life on my "followers" list (and they have no idea I am me - I look pretty different without sunglasses on).

One of her amazing Wear it Five Ways (though 6 here) posts

Your Style:
  • What is currently on your wishlist? Would any items change if you won the lottery?
There are so many items on my wishlist (I have a sartorial bucket list on my blog that I update from time to time). I don't think those items would change if I were to win the lottery - I am a little superstitious and think that money which came so easily need to be spent incredibly sparingly.
  • What are your top 5 wardrobe staples for fall? 
A stone-colored trench, a pair of skinnies in a rich color, a pair of knee-high boots, a piece of statement jewelry, and a dress in an interesting fabric (tweed, leather, etc.)
  • What are your favorite purchases this year?
I've crossed several items off my wishlist this year but one of my favorites is a camel leather tote bag.
  • And a random one - what was your style as a teenager? How (if applicable) has it changed today?
My style as a teenager was chaotic - there was no rhyme or reason to my clothing choices at the time. It's changed a lot since then as I've started to develop a more cohesive style and made purchases that "make sense".

Looking beautiful in my Chevron Peplum Skirt

Thanks Elle - both for starting your blog and for being part of my blogger profiles :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Blogger Profile: Cee of To Brighten My Day

I first discovered Cee of To Brighten My Day while reading PFC challenge entries and I remember being absolutely amazed by her styling and layering prowess.  Not only is she a master mixer and matcher, (check out below), she is also incredibly kind, helpful and sweet.  I am so happy to present her profile here and learn more about one of my favorite bloggers.  :)

Her beautiful wedding post

About You:
Tell us 5 random things about yourself:

1) I don't know how to change a tire. Every time the tire pressure indicator lights up, I freak out and rush to the nearest gas station to pump in more air. I know, it's not like that'd be of any help if I had a real flat.

2) I know DC by their metro stops. Oh, it's near F St. and 11th. *blank stare* You know, near Metro Center. Well, why didn't you just say so?

3) I sleep like the dead, anywhere, anytime (unless I've had too much caffeine). My first year college roommate likes to talk about the times she'd come into the room, turning on lights, talking to her friends, then realizing that I've slept like a baby through it all.

4) I managed to snag the coveted full_name with no random characters attached for my personal email. Sadly, I can't say the same for my Facebook ID.

5) I don't think I have a noticeable accent, but for some reason I have trouble pronouncing series. The word comes out sounding like SEE-WEES. And it's even worse when I try to say, sequences and series (any math nerds here?)

  • Aside from blogging, what are your hobbies? 

Through blogging I've come to appreciate and enjoy photography. Like with most things, there are initial hurdles to overcome, but the more I'm learning and (hopefully) improving, the more I find myself really liking it. I'm also an avid TV watcher. My current guilty pleasure is Big Brother. Every summer, DH and I spend three hours a week glued to the TV watching the houseguests' next move. We're going through withdrawal from this latest season (Dan was robbed!), so to tide us over until next summer, we're watching reruns from Seasons 2 and All Stars.

  • What are you looking forward to in the next year? 

Possibly starting to think about having a family? I would have to do a lot of growing up first though ;)

One of her amazing 30 for 30 posts

Your Blog:
  • What inspired you to blog?
Back in high school I taught myself the ins and outs of building websites from scratch. I really enjoyed both the designing and coding aspects, so much so that I kept it up throughout college. I made some money along the way and even maintained a personal website (full of gasp sans sunglasses headshots) for a few years. I stopped doing both post-graduation due to lack of time and found myself missing my creative outlet. I decided to give it another go but with a few changes. I turned to Blogger as a platform because I haven't kept up with the continually evolving world of programming languages. Another, I value my privacy much more now, so that includes sharing limited information and photos.
  • Where did your blog name come from?
At the time, I was going through an emo phase and needed some cheering up. I also wanted a generic enough name that could work with any topic I wanted to blog about. Brighten my day was already taken, so I resorted to adding a to in front. If I were to start over, I would've started blogging for a bit first before even attempting the name. That way, at least the name would be in line with the content instead of a random phrase.

One of my favorite posts - lace dress remixes 
  • What is your favorite part of blogging?
Hands down, it has to be the friendships with both bloggers and readers. I've met so many interesting people over time and value every one of them.
  • What is the most surprising thing you've encountered while blogging? 
There isn't one specific encounter per se, but through various interactions, I've come to learn a lot about myself. Things like ability (or lack thereof) to handle criticisms, or treating people the way I want to be treated. If I had known I'd be doing this much self-reflecting as a result of blogging, I'd have started much sooner.
  • How has your blog changed from day 1 to now?
For the most part, not much has changed. I still have trouble coming up with topics to write about, but do try to give my best effort. I still enjoy sharing outfit photos and have slowly progressed from indoor/poor lighting/shy photos to ignoring strangers' looks when it's me and my tripod outside. Blogging is (and hopefully will continue to be) a fun hobby. When it's no longer fun, that'll be my cue to stop.

That original PFC post that left me awe-struck

Your Style:
  • What is currently on your wishlist? Would any items change if you won the lottery?
I've checked off a good number of items from my wishlist this year. Some I've been wanting for awhile (riding boots) and some were more spur-of-the-moment (small crossbody bag). I'm still on the lookout for the perfect tweed jacket. If I won the lottery, I'd reach for the moon and buy a Chanel. Realistically, I'm coveting the blue Uniqueen Malang jacket as seen on Khatu/Jean/Wendy. I'm still kicking myself for passing it up to explore other options back when it was still available.
  • What are your top 5 wardrobe staples for fall? 
Jeans, tall boots, scarves, lightweight jacket, and crossbody bag.
  • What are your favorite purchases this year?
A striped maxi dress. I've stayed away from long dresses for so long because tripping over my own two feet is just embarrassing. Besides being uber comfortable, maxi dresses do make a person look taller. And who doesn't want that, right?
  • And a random one - what was your style as a teenager? How (if applicable) has it changed today?
Can unkempt be considered a style? I wore mostly tshirts/sweatshirts with jeans back then and still do so today. I do try to accessorize more now and switch up running shoes to something more fashionable. I like to keep things simple and casual, so the overall feel hasn't changed.

Even Baby E gets inspiration from Cee

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did :)  Stay tuned for more profiles and thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Moving & Blogger Profiles

As you may already know, my family is in process of a semi-cross country move from the midwest to San Francisco.  During the move / unpacking / settling, I'll be scheduling more text-based posts and blogger profiles of some of my favorite ladies.  I love learning more about the personal side of bloggers and am so happy that these ladies obliged :)  In case you are curious, I also filled out a mini-profile below.  If you're looking for the DIY posts, they'll be back soon!

5 random things:

1) I have a huge weakness for babies, but refuse to hold any of them (except my own, of course) for fear they'll start crying.

2) My dream job would be Top Chef judge.  Yes, please pay me to taste delicious food and tell you what I like / don't like about it.  I intend to to do a Top Chef road trip one of these days hitting the restaurants of all of my favorite chef-testants.  Chris Cosentino, I am coming to your restaurant in SF soon!

3) I'm proud to be active in animal rescue.  Volunteering at the shelter, temporarily fostering kitties, and for the last 6 years, taking care of a feral cat colony (feeding, spay / neutering, and building winter shelters).

4) I can't swim.  I understand the theory of it, but I just can't do it.  I can, however, float on my back.  Hopefully long enough to get rescued.

5) My favorite Halloween costumes involve wings - angels, fairies, and the like.  I've always wanted to fly :)

SPG College Years
  • What is currently on your wishlist? Would any items change if you won the lottery?
Hmm, I would really like a red leather shoulder bag that can also be worn cross-body.  Preferably something that will easily fit my long wallet, wristlet, and iPhone easily.  If I won the lottery, I would still get a red leather bag, it would probably just be more expensive.
  • What are your top 5 wardrobe staples for fall? 
Red blazer, an ornate necklace, comfortable boots with a heel, bright outerwear, and some classic plaid
  • What are your favorite purchases this year?
My red blazers!  A knit one from H&M that is bright, comfortable, and seemingly never wrinkles (great for travel!) as well as a wool version from J. Crew that is classic, structured, and well-made.
  • And a random one - what was your style as a teenager? How (if applicable) has it changed today?
I don't know that I had one particular style as it tended to shift from year to year.  I went through a wide-legged jean phase with anime tees.  I also went through a Contempo Casuals phase (i.e. club-esque gear) and thought I was so cool.  My longest phase was probably the Abercrombie & Fitch one.  I got a kick out of buying from the kids' store for a lower price.  My current style tends to fall into the business casual spectrum or "Mommy @ work".  They tend to be conservatively cut with just the tiniest splash of something trendy.  I love the prep aesthetic, but wouldn't classify my style that way.

Thanks for reading my long-winded and off-topic post!  See you all soon!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

J. Crew Factory Fitting Room Reviews

A couple of weeks before the move, my husband announced that he needed to go to the outlet mall to return something.  Truth be told, I was itching to do something besides prep for the move so I was positively elated.  While there, I stopped by the J. Crew and Banana Republic Factory stores (BR reviews coming up soon).

And just a note on sizing: Since taking up running and watching my food intake (gasp, a diet...kind of), I've lost 2 inches each in the waist, gut and hips.  Guess there was quite a bit of extra insulation there, LOL.  So while I used to go for a XS / 0 at J. Crew, I am now also trying XXS when available.

Factory Downtown Field Jacket, XXS, $125 (don't see online)
(Left: waist snaps normally and Right: tightened)
After seeing this on bloggers like Amber (retail version) and Gigi (thanks for the alert on Factory availability!), I was really interested in seeing what it would look like on me.  This is the XXS with a sweater underneath.  The torso is a little boxy on its own, but if you tighten the waist snaps, it will give you more of a fitted effect.  XXS fits nicely in the shoulders and arms, sleeves are a little long and hit at tip of thumbs, a little roomy in the chest (a good thing as I hate when buttons pull there), and the length hits me at mid to low hip.  I LOVE the gold buttons and I loved the way it looked in the mirror, but upon reviewing the photos, it didn't seem as flattering as I had thought.
Verdict: No for now, but would consider on further sale

Factory Classic Pea Coat, Warm Lemon, Sz 0, (buy here)
I was really drawn to the gold buttons (I'm a magpie drawn to shiny objects, I tell ya) and the bright yellow color of this coat.  It fit pretty well - sleeves not too long, torso not too tight nor boxy, but ultimately I felt like the collar was too big for my taste.  Too much framing of my head - reminds me of the Cabbage Patch Kids:

Verdict: No

Factory Wool-Blend Long Open Cardigan, XXS, $60, (buy here)
I've been looking for a classic camel cardigan and thought this might be a good option.  Unfortunately, I felt a little too "Mr. Rogers" in this particular style.  I think it's the length?  For XXS, I felt like this fit a little big, but I'm not sure if this is due to the open nature.  This was also a little on the itchy side.
Verdict: No

Factory Cap-Sleeve Pocketed Dress, Sz 0, ~$30 (buy here)
This was another one of those that I liked in the mirror until I looked at the picture.  It fit very nicely and provides that tummy hiding that I love so much about J. Crew dresses.  What I didn't like in the picture was that it seemed to make my top look a little wide.  I tend to look for things that help cut me a slimmer silhouette if possible and am a little sensitive about things that make me look bigger.
Verdict: No, but would look great on a different body type - great price too!

Anyhoo, it appears that being on maternity leave for a full year has left me feeling picky and semi-stingy.  Too bad it takes a year without income to make me more fiscally focused.  How do you exercise shopping restraint (if applicable)?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Chinese Porcelain Inspired Skirt DIY

And this is it!  My last completed DIY from August before I went back to work.  I'm actually rather surprised I sewed so much that it lasted a whole month and a half before I had posted all of the projects.  The movers / packers are coming tomorrow and pretty soon we'll be saying goodbye to OH and hello to CA.

This fabric reminded me of my blue & white porcelain collection of vases, teapots, and dishes on display in the dining room.  It didn't seem right to make this into a flared skirt, so I opted for a pencil shape with the deep side pleats for tummy hiding.

LOFT Button Down Shirt, Peach (old)
LOFT Double Strap Belt (old)
DIY Chinese Porcelain Inspired Skirt
DIY Cameo + Pearls Necklace (original post here)
Balenciaga Money Wallet (added a chain to use as a small clutch, details here)
Gucci d'Orsay Pumps, Camel

My husband thought it was strange that I got inspired by dishes, LOL.

Where do you get your inspirations?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Running Shoe Reviews for the Wide-Footed Woman

I currently run 2-3 times a week, 3 miles at a time, using a forefoot / mid foot strike.  After various injuries (newbie running post here) and my old gym shoes literally falling apart, I knew it was time to invest in some real running shoes.  When I first started looking into them, all of the different options seemed overwhelming.  The easiest thing to do is start with going to a running shoe store.  The SAs there should be able to help you evaluate your gait and get you fitted.

Some shoe tips:
  • Your feet get a little wider throughout the day and also swell a little bit while running.  If possible, try to do your shoe fittings later in the day when your feet are biggest.  Some shoes felt great in the morning but became very uncomfortable by mid-day.
  • Go up 1/2 a size to account for foot swelling.
  • Bring your typical running socks and ask if you can do a light jog in the shoes you're trying.  Some stores will have treadmills for this.
  • Identify the attributes you'd like in your shoes (high cushioning, minimalist, etc.) as well as the problems you've had in the past
Let's start with the shoe winner:
Asics Gel Nimbus 14, 8.5D Width, (buy here)
Gel cushioning at forefoot and heel for shock absorption
Nimbus 14 has a wider toe box than Nimbus 13

After 2 failed running shoe store recommendations (below), I took what I learned from my SAs to search for my own shoe.  Asics is known for their comfort and cushioning, so I knew I wanted to start there.  I searched the Runner's World amazingly comprehensive site for highly rated shoes and then went to my local DSW (this location was in the athletic part of town where it seems like people are running / biking 24/7 - other locations, and even, did not have these shoes) to try on the options.  I tried this one, Gel Cumulus 14, and Gel Kayano 18.  The Kayanos were the most comfortable, followed by Nimbus and then Cumulus.  Though I was tempted to go with the Kayanos (consistently rated well), I hesitated because my last SA was very adamant that I should be running in a neutral shoe.  I decided to go with Nimbus and ordered online since wide widths were not available in the store.  All of the normal width shoes rubbed against my pinky toe.

I tried both 8D and 8.5D.  They were vastly different.  Though my foot length fit the 8, the width did not.  One of my SAs had previously explained that different sizes as well as different shoe companies will widen the shoe at different points.  The 8.5 was roomier in length (which to me was actually more comfortable) and the width was perfect.  Make sure to try a couple sizes in a given width before moving on to a different shoe.

Overall, I'm quite happy with my purchase.  The cushioning is amazing and it does have a pillow-y quality to it.  I still run on my forefoot / mid foot, but when I walk afterwards, the heel cushioning is a treat and makes each step feel positively springy.

I'm still curious about the Kayanos though and wonder if a stability shoe would be better suited to my needs than a neutral one.

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12, 8.5D Width, (buy here)

My first SA put me in a Stability shoe after seeing me walk barefoot (with socks) around the store.  I agreed with her because I knew I had at least one pair of sneakers that had completely collapsed inwards at the arch.  Trusting her expertise, I went for a couple of runs in these shoes and didn't bother trying them on for an extended period of time indoors.  After those runs, I couldn't bear to wear them anymore due to the foot pain it was causing.  The forefoot area was just too firm and stiff. The heels felt nice, so I think maybe this shoe is better suited for heel-strikers.

I went back to the store hoping that maybe they could recommend a good insole for me.  I was surprised that they instead suggested I return them despite being worn outside.  An older SA (so I assumed more experience) then suggested Saucony (below).  

Saucony ProGrid Ride 5, 8B Width
After returning the Adrenalines, the next SA re-evaluated my walk and decided that I needed a neutral shoe at a normal width.  She didn't want my foot to move too much while running and explained that Saucony features a racquet shape to allow for a roomier toe box without having to go to a D width.  They felt pretty good in the store so I took them home for further evaluation.

Wary from the Adrenalines, I wore them indoors for a few hours to see how they felt through a longer wear period.  As the day wore on, I started to feel more and more rubbing against my pinky toe on top of not feeling like I had enough forefoot cushioning.  So I returned these and was thankful to find the Asics Gel Nimbus 14 (above).

In the end...
I think the lesson here is to get guidance from experts and know that it may take several iterations to find the right shoe for you.  

I wound up also getting a pair of orthotic inserts (Powerstep Pinnacle) which, in conjunction with lots of stretching and not pushing myself too hard, seems to have really helped me recover from shin splints.

How did you find your perfect shoes?


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