I used to never, ever return things I'd bought; once I committed to taking it home, there's no way I was bringing it back. But after working in retail, I realized that the employees don't really give a shit about a shirt you decided you don't want, as long as that shirt is still in one piece. So now I've kind of gotten into the habit of, when shopping online, buying a range of clothes with the intention of taking at least a few things back. This is especially effective for stores that offer free shipping and then have a physical store you can return things to; I'm not good about going to the post office.
So last week, when I got an email from American Eagle with a coupon for 15% off, I decided to spring for some dresses I'd been eying for a while. I am pretty sure that I'm too old to be shopping at American Eagle; it was great in high school, but now I should be shopping at more sophisticated places with better quality and design. But... coupon! Also, can I share one of my biggest online shopping tips? Retail Me Not has a list of coupon codes you can use at major online retailers to get free shipping, discounts, and other good things for cheapies like me. I never buy anything online without googling "banana republic coupon" or whatever, and most of the time Retail Me Not has a useful code to enter at checkout. Some of the bigger stores, like Gap and J.Crew, asked the site to have the user submissions feature blocked, so there's only links that say "Hundreds of items on sale!" but no addition discount. So that's a bummer, but other stores, like Urban Outfitters and American Eagle, always have a good coupon code going on.
So let's start with the things I kept, in order from least to most interesting. The aerie F.I.T. Sport Stripe Crop pants, $19.99, will hopefully be good, basic workout capris for the summer. I got two pairs of really great long gym pants from Gap Body a month or so ago, but as it's getting warmer and I start wanting to run outside, I need something a little lighter. And these have a little pocket for my keys and ID, yay!
I own about a billion camis and only wear the Gap Body ones I wrote about in my essentials post, but I sprung for this Pretty Lace Cami, $9.99. It has a great long and lean shape, plus adorably feminine details with the buttons and bow in the middle. My one quibble is that the cups aren't quite big enough, but not uncomfortably or noticably so. This will be a nice top to throw on with jeans and a light cardigan on the one summer night when I think, "You know, I'm sick of wearing dresses."
But how can I get sick of wearing dresses with frocks like the Garden Sundress in Dark Raspberry, $39.95? I also bought it in the white and navy print, and spent way too much time trying to decide which to keep and which to return. I eventually decided that the solid red was more flattering than the busy print. Although, now that I see the print has gone deeper on sale to $29.95 I'm sort of tempted to go and rebuy... I should probably resist, right? I got a compliment on the red one from a stranger within five minutes of leaving my room, so that's probably a sign I made the right choice. She told me how great the color is, how cute I look, and when I asked her if she thought it was too low-cut she said, "No way, it's sexy!" It is pretty cleavage-y, though; I had a hard time finding a bra that wouldn't show, and I finally decided to just wear it with a slip and no bra. Oh, how I envy all of you modestly proportioned girls. The freedom to go braless and not worry about it is one that I might never regain, but I guess it's worth it for how banging I look in V-neck tops. Anyway, other goods points of this dress are the big roomy pockets on the hips and the attached lining underneath. The bad points are the straps that tie on your shoulders and are too froofy for me; I tied the end of the front strap to the bottom of the back strap, so the knot is on my back and hidden under a cardigan. I'm hoping that the next time I go home I can get my mom to just sew the straps together so I won't have to worry about it. Another annoying thing is the back, which has a row of really small, hard to unfasten buttons above the zipper. I can just barely get it over my chest without undoing the buttons, but when I try to take it off I get good and stuck. These buttons are awful, really, because you can't fasten them with the dress on properly unless you're Marie Antoinette and have maidenwomen who's life work is to help you get dressed. For all us mere mortals, we have to pull it down to your waist and twist it to the front in order to get those buttons closed. So, it's not a perfect dress. But it's a fantastic color and a light cotton fabric that's a nice departure from my go-to rayon and jersey blends.
The final thing I bought and kept is this Sands Ring, $15.50. I've been wanting one of these rings made of three interlocking circles for ages; I love jewelry that basically doubles as a toy. I'm not much of a ring wearer, but I'd like to start and I think this will make a nice addition to my daily accessories. I should have bought it a size smaller, though; it's a little loose on my ring finger, and looks odd on my middle finer or thumb. I wanted to exchange it at the store but they didn't have any of this particular ring, and I'll probably be too lazy to send it back to the online store and get another. It does get a little annoying when I try to type with it on, though. And since I spend way too many hours typing on my trusty PowerBook (I use it to take notes in class, plus for my prodigious blogging), that'll be something I'll have to learn to work around.
Next, the things that didn't make it into my wardrobe. I bought the Jersey Beach Dress, $29.95, in hopes that it would fulfill my long-standing goal of owning a cute white dress that isn't see-through. It came close-- with a thong and a neutral-colored bra you'd feel decently covered up. But I didn't like the tiered hem combined with the longer length-- it was a little too hippie-dippy for me. And again with the tie straps!
This dress would be so perfect if it was just a few shades darker. The Wrap dress, $29.95, has the exact fabric and cut needed for all my favorite dresses. I checked in my closet, and I have criss-crossed v-neck dresses in long sleeve, short sleeve, and tank top, so I could have added spagetti strap and had a whole range of options. But the color! This photo is misleading; it looks like a nice, deep cherry, but in person it's more of an orange-y tomato. As a summer, I just can't wear that color without looking sickly. (I'm actually not sure whether I'm a summer, but I've always secretly wanted to get my colors done. Someone posted a description of themselves to Yahoo answers, asking what season they are, and one person commented, "summers usually have blonde hair and brite happy eyes and a really tan skin tone and look best in hollister type clothes and springs usually have dirty blonde-brown hair and lighter skin tones and light eyes and they usually look best in a happy brite floral pattern." Interesting.) Plus, since I was keeping the other red dress it seemed logical to return this one. Online this dress is available in black, plus lighter pastals with mini-stripes, but none are catching my eye.
I want a cute, short-sleeve cardigan for summer, but this one isn't it. The Pretty Trapeze Cardigan, $24.95, is just not very cute. The ruffle at the sleeves and hem? The two buttons? It looks decent in the photo, but as soon as I put it on I knew it was going back.
I bought the springtime henley, $14.95, because my sister has a similar top from J.Crew with pintucking and buttons and I always steal it when she brings it home. And this shirt was perfectly cute, if totally see-through. But I realized that the last thing I need to be buying right now are more tops, since I can never get excited about wearing them and I'm about 5 hangers short already. I don't need another shirt that looks fine but is slightly boring, so I pass over it 60 mornings in a row before finally giving it a pity wear on laundry day.
Of course, when I went in there today to return these things I saw another 5 dresses I wanted to try on. I resisted, though, since none of them were on sale and there's no reason to pay full price on anything from American Eagle.
First, there were some cute nighties. Danielle quoted me saying that I sleep in dresses, but it would be accurate to say that a few times a week I'll either wear a proper nightie or sleep in the slip I wore under that day's dress, because I'm either too lazy (...or drunk) to put on proper pajamas. But I always feel way more feminine when I'm not wearing old boxer shorts and an oversized t-shirt that says "Chaparral High School NHS 2005." There are certain drawbacks to sleeping in a nightie: if you're the type to throw your covers off in the middle of the night, your roommate is going to get a good, long look at your underwear when she wakes up in the morning. And also, if there's a fire alarm in the middle of the night, it better be a false alarm because otherwise I'll get burned alive trying to find a pair of sweats to put on before going outside. On the other hand, what if I somehow magically acquire a boyfriend in the middle of the night while fast asleep, and he wakes me up with breakfast in bed? I'd be so happy to be wearing a cute nightie.
Anyway, I really like this aerie Summer Nightie, $24.50. Very simple and soft, but with the great detail of flower embroidery on the empire waistband. It looked really short, though; I don't need to wear it out in public but it'd be nice to be able to wear it around my apartment without worrying about flashing anyone. I like it in blue, but you can see the shape better in the photo of the magenta one.
As for dresses proper, this Ruffle Dress, $44.50, was on every other mannequin and looked super cute. I love the contrasting sash, and the deep v in the back. I'm usually not into ruffles, but this could be an exception.
This Floral Sunset dress, $59.50, could be either a good version of the white beach dress I bought and returned, or just as bad. It has some busyness on the bottom hem, but I love the pleating on the crossed bodice, and, of course, the babydoll shape. You can't really tell, but there's a very light floral burnout pattern on the fabric that makes it a little more interesting. Hopefully it'll go on sale by, say, June.
I can't really see any difference between that dress and this light blue striped dress, except that it's ten dollars cheaper at $49.50 and comes with a sash to tie around your waist. Well, I guess the blue is 100% cotton and the white is a polyester blend. Maybe if I tried them both on I'd see a difference.
I have one final note, unrelated to the American Eagle theme of this post. In my post about black shoes I included these Kenneth Cole Unlisted pumps, $49.99, but it was the navy I truly wanted and I bought them on heels.com (which features free overnight shipping, how sweet is that?). They arrived today, and while they're just as hot as I hoped, they don't really fit my arch. Should I try to add some padding from the good people at Dr. Scholl's, wear them a lot and hope they break in to become comfortable, or cut my losses and send them back? Be sure you notice the super hot red sole before you make your decision.