Monday, May 31, 2010

A J.Crew Summer

It's basically a law that I write about J.Crew every couple of months, and since I last mentioned the Crew in March, the time has come. Remember when I said I would make myself stop buying solid colored dresses? Well, that rule does not apply when J.Crew puts the sale on sale. I'm so good about sticking to my shopping embargo when it comes to full priced items, but when J.Crew throws an extra 30% off code in my face (plus free shipping!) I just can't resist. (And FYI, if you don't receive the J.Crew emails but still want to get some coupon codes, check J.Crew Aficionada before buying online. They always have codes for whatever special is running.)

So a few weeks ago, I discovered that J.Crew has some pretty great dresses hiding in the "beach cover-up" section. Sometimes the regular dress section can seem full of bridesmaid rejects, so I was deleted to find some simple, cheaper frocks. The downside: they aren't quite as thick as you'd like if you're wearing underwear and not a bikini.

Here's what I got and returned:
Saturday Twist Dress, $49.99, in Moroccan Twist (a sort of dark orange). The knot in front was too low for me, making any bra visible, and I also wasn't wild about the color.

Chambray Cara Dress, $49.99. I went back and forth on this one, because it's a really cute dress in a lovely color for summer. But it came out of the box very wrinkled, and it didn't smooth out at all after hanging in my closet for a week. While I own an iron, I never use it, and I knew that if I had to iron this dress before ever wear, I would never wear it. Also, when I untied the bow and tried to retie it, it didn't look right. Also, see-through.

Gabriella Dresss, $59.50, in Portland Grey. I can't resist a good cascading ruffle, plus, the fabric is super soft and the strapless top is very comfortable.

I also returned this belt:
Flowerette sash, $19.99. The blue was so dark that the entire thing looks black, and black flowers are not whimsical or cute.

When I was buying this all online, there was a free shipping code along with the extra 30% off, but you had to spend $150 after the discount. Of course I was about $5 short, so I just threw this t-shirt into my cart and figured I could return it easily.
Tissue mini-pocket tee, $14.99, in soft violet. Naturally, the one thing I didn't care about was the one I put on and thought, "I never want to take this off!" So soft, and yes it's see-through, but I'm willing to do some layering. I also realized recently that because I focus so much on dresses when shopping, I very rarely buy tops. So all my shirts are a few years old, and when I decide to wear jeans, I stand in front of my closet and think, "Ugh, I don't want to wear any of these raggedy old shirts." I'm due for some new t-shirts (that aren't the kind you run or sleep in, because I have plenty of those).

I went to a J.Crew store today to return the two dresses and belt, and promptly got sucked into the vortex that is the well-stocked sale section (at 18th and 5th Ave, for you New Yorkers). They didn't have a ton of dresses, but they did have a full table of $14.99 tees. I got this Flower Cluster Tee, which is $24.99 online but $10 less in store.

I also got a pair of poplin shorts in a blue that's sort of like peacock crossed with ocean (think "largo"), and this dress (which is sold-out online, but the 5th Ave store had another in a size 10):
The Chambray Wild Rose dress, $69.99, felt so perfectly flirty and casual that I immediately knew I had to get it, even though they only had it in one size up from my normal number. But the danger of this slipping down will only force me to stand up straight, right? I am very excited to wear it while lounging on a picnic blanket, because my shoulders are in desperate need of a tan.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Wrapped in Plaid

I think I found my new go-to summer work dress. You know, for when it's 86 degrees and completely muggy, and the thought of wearing pants makes you want to crawl inside your fridge and hide from the world.

It's casual, yes, but I think it's just dressy enough to pass at the office (especially on Fridays). Since Target has the worst models in the world, it looks really unflattering and bulky, but I swear the Converse One Star Ruffle Sleeve Dress, $27.99, is actually very flattering towards your curves. I felt a little Sofia Vergara (Gloria from Modern Family and, for my money, the hottest woman on TV right now) in this dress--wrap dresses are famous for creating the perfect hourglass figure. And what I love about this dress is that the wrap portion isn't too meager; the two sides overlap enough so that if a breeze comes and blows up the top portion, the bottom portion will still keep you covered. I tend to favor the faux-wrap dress for this reason (and I always wear a slip, just to be prepared for when I walk over subway grates), but this dress has the benefit of being totally adjustable. I also dig the tiered ruffles at the bottom, which keep this from being just another plaid dress.

While at Target I also tried this dress from the Zac Posen collaboration. FYI, the Atlantic Terminal Target in Brooklyn had a surprisingly good selection of Zac Posen stuff, and a lot of sizes, but it was a bit weird because they didn't have the words Zac Posen on any of the displays. I'm going to make a wild guess and say that they sold out, took down the promotional stuff, and then unexpectedly got another shipment. Not that it benefited me, because the dress I was hoping to score didn't fit right in either a medium or large.
The Snap Tape Dress, $69.99, just wasn't flattering to my boobs in either size, and with that neckline, you have to make sure your decolletage looks its best.
If it were cheaper I might have done that really, really stupid girl thing of buying something that doesn't fit but telling yourself, "I can totally lose enough weight to zip this up in a few weeks!" But I don't plan going up or down a cup size, so, alas, I had to leave without it. I just wish there was some stretch to the fabric--instead, it's a very unstretchy polyester that reminds me a bit of a raincoat, but it works for the design. Sigh. I love the "sailor by day, dominatrix by night" associations of this dress. Maybe in a few months I'll add it to my regular Ebay search rotation, along with a Proenza Schouler for Target dress (the aqua and white palm tree one) and a Vena Cava for Gap dress (the zip-up tank dress; for some reason, the other dress they did pops up on Ebay every day, but the zip dress is much more elusive).

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tutu and the City

Are you already planning your outfit for the Sex and the City premiere? Did you wear a cocktail dress and stilettos to the first one, even though there weren't any straight men for miles around? Then I think you'll appreciate this:

Yes ma'am, for just $29.99 you can recreate Carrie's opening credits look with the Swan Lake Mini from Fred Flare.

I know, a tutu is pretty ridiculous. But it's also unquestionably fun to wear! When I was a little girl, I took ballet for maybe a few months, but I wore that tutu around the house for years. And even as a young adult, I get a little thrill picturing myself flouncing around in layers of pink tulle. I also really dig this outfit, from the Fred Flare website:
Let's ignore the fact that this model looks prepubescent, because a plain blue oxford with a champagne tutu is pretty brilliant. It's perfect for spring, too, when you want to bust out all your sundresses and halter tops, but it isn't quite warm enough--this outfit has the whimsy of a good spring outfit but won't expose all your deathly white skin. You could even wear it to the office, and spend the day pirouetting by the coffee machine.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Alice + Olivia + Foley + Corrina

I very rarely browse ShopBop, because everything is out of my price range and it's a bit depressing. But I got an email from them this morning advertising a Friends and Family discount code (use INTHEFAMILY15 to get 15% off), so I thought I might torture myself by looking at Alice + Olivia dresses.

The Lexis Strapless Ballerina Dress, $495, is so Charlotte York, am I right? At least in the earlier seasons of Sex and the City--it's a pretty youthful dress, so I doubt we'll be seeing it in the sequel. And yes, I will be seeing the movie opening weekend just to find out how Charlotte's perfect family is, and what adorable outfits she's wearing in Dubai, and also because Aiden looks better every time they bring him back, I mean seriously, goddamn. Anyway, the dress: the colors remind me of ice cream or cotton candy--it's like what the world's loveliest candy shop clerk would wear. I'd like to see it with a belt in a more contrasting color, like a deeper shade of purple or navy blue. A skinny black studded belt might even work, for a badass ballerina (like Zoe Saldana's character in Center Stage) look.

The Clara '20s Bugle Beaded Dress, $440, could so easily veer into costume territory, as it has a very distinct flapper vibe. But instead, the simple shape and art deco beading keep it from going over-the-top, and it looks like the model just threw it on, walked out the door, and was effortlessly stunning. No jewelry, just a little makeup, simple shoes; let the dress take the spotlight.

Foley + Corrina is another label that I like to browse on ShopBop--there must be something about that plus sign that draws me in.
The Origami Dress, $460, is in the same vein as a lot of gowns we saw at this past season's awards shows (someone with a better memory then me could supply some names--I'm thinking Anne Hathaway but could be wrong). But in many red carpet cases, I found those dresses to be so architectural/sculptural that they looked wrong on a human body. But this dress manages to put that very structured design on a dress that's flattering and looks fun to wear. The ruffle up the skirt is flirty and a bit bohemian, while the gathering on the bodice looks more deliberately shaped (it reminds me a bit of the tissue paper roses you made in kindergarten, but done in a high-fashion way)--no matter where you wear this, no girl in the room will be able to compare. I also adore the rose pink silk peeking out from the nude fabric, which prevents the dreaded washed effect that often happens with neutral colors.