Thursday, December 17, 2009

J Crew Skirts...and the Good Red

Most recently, I picked this skirt up at my local B&M - the J Crew Gold Coin Skirt (#17235, orig $150, purchased for $59.99, but I hear it got marked down again to $39.99, so I think I'll head in for a price adjustment tomorrow). I actually don't think I've seen anyone post on this skirt. Granted, I admit my blog reading has been a bit spotty lately, but I haven't seen much of it on Polyvore either.

I first tried on this skirt at FP, and it just wasn't worth it. But I've been wanting a "special" skirt to wear for things like Christmas Eve or dinner out...or anything fun like that. Specifically something to wear with a black turtleneck and tights because I have always loved that look. (Like Summerilla's outfit here.) It just looks so chic and so sleek. And you stay warm with the turtleneck and tights.

I took an 8 in the skirt. And you don't want to size down much or the pleats will do that weird pulling thing and it just looks bad. I will admit that it's a little weird to try on the skirt in store when the pleats are tacked closed because you get that weird "lady parts" look. So I asked the SA if we could cut the thread. Instant 110% improvement. It's an A-line skirt. And can we please talk about the length? 21 1/2" long. J Crew - could you pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease make more skirts at this length? I just can't wear your minis. Trust me...I've tried.

The fabric is a jacquard. I love the black and gold. For you Project Runway fans, this skirt reminds me a lot of Jillian Lewis' (season 4) last challenge look and her finale collection. Something about that black & gold combo....

The only thing that may turn some people off about the skirt is the waistband. It is actually a thick piece of black elastic with 2 hook & bar closures. Me? I don't mind at all because it's not like I ever tuck anything in. But it could annoy some.

I paired the skirt here with the JC black merino turtleneck (size M). Like I said above, I love the black top plus tights look. Right now I am only imagining it with black - my black cashmere shell, a black tee or tank in summertime with bare legs and sandals, maybe a white shirt? I'm sure I can pair it with more color, but right now, the black top will pretty much meet my needs. Piccolinas just made a fun set on Polyvore, pairing the skirt with a vintage forest cardi - very nice!

And since heaven knows I won't be blogging as it will be too busy, here's my planned Christmas Eve ensemble with the skirt. Yeah, it's pretty much the "try-on" picture above with earrings and shoes.

Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve by HeidiGblog featuring J Crew

Next here, the skirt I didn't keep. J Crew Deco Shirred Skirt (#17480, orig $98, last purchased for $59.99). Yes, this is the Michelle Obama skirt - well, one of many, I supposed. A Bigger Closet did a great review of it and looked fab as usual, here. First of all, pardon the gray tights - I was wearing those and the black boots with my outfit that day and was just too lazy to change.

I really do like this skirt. It's very cute. However, it is only 18" long. So what did I do? I sized up to a 10 to get it to hang low. In her review, ABC mentioned that she went up to an 8 from a 2 or 4. Ahhhhh, so that's how she got it to such a decent length. There may still be 1 or 2 of these floating around your B&M. If you see one a few sizes up, grab it.

I did not keep the skirt, however, as I felt I could only wear it with opaque tights and that was limiting. I wanted a skirt that I could wear more often and the gold coin skirt fits that bill.

Plus the black and white print reminds me of the ATL dress I got last year early spring...and if I really want to wear a black/white print with tights, chances are that I'll just wear that.

If I had all the money in the world, I probably would have kept it, but a girl's got to make choices, right?

Finally, I did uncover a red that I actually do like on my nails. Even was already in my stash. I think I got this summer before last but hadn't really worn it much. Chanel Shangai Red. Much much much better on me than the Essie Russian Roulette of the last post.

And just for fun...this is what I sometimes resort to when trying to decide which polish to wear. From pinky to forefinger: Sephora by OPI Never Enough Shoes, OPI Here Today Aragon Tomorrow, Chanel Vamp, Essie It's Genius. (btw, mainly took the pic because I was playing with my new camera hubby got me for my birthday - I think the colors are pretty good - and by "good", I mean "accurate")

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Gray Cardis...with an unfortunate splash of red

I have been on such a gray kick lately. Wearing gray, looking at and sometimes purchasing gray clothes. I think it's a reflection of the weather - but not the gray of the cold. It's actually a reaction to the need for constant coats - specifically the yummy yellow Winnie coat and my much beloved workhorse, the gray hooded wool coat. I love how the yellow wakes up a simple classic outfit - and I do love gray with yellow. But other days, I love the tonal combo of pairing a gray coat with other gray pieces. I do think charcoal gray looks good on most people, and a lot of my gray does tend to the darker shades. And quite honestly, J Crew's dark charcoal is one of my all-time favorite colors - something about that particular shade works really well with the yellow tones in my skin. I realized that I had a lot of gray going on this week as I was looking back at pics, so I thought I would share the last couple of days before I get back to party prep. We're hosting our annual Christmas party tonight, so lots to do.

Starting with yesterday...Friday's outfit - This is the J Crew Knox Sweater Jacket that I posted on 2 days ago. So here I'm actually wearing it intentionally (size M). I picked up the JC striped tissue tee in the gray/white combo this week since my BR gray/white striped tee got a hole in the wash. (See? It's not just JC...) The tissue tee is in an M, like my navy one - and I believe I will enjoy it just as much as the navy one. I did get it on sale ($19.99 in store), though, so that made me happy.

Oh wow, was it windy on Friday. Wardrobe selection consisted of my opening the closet and saying "Which pair of boots do I want to wear and what do I want to wear with them?" I went with my new Chicos Ultra Slim jeans that I posted on earlier this week and my black boots. I added my Silpada pearls to finish off the neckline of the Knox.

I am still experimenting with what works best here - but I did like it with the scoopneck tee instead of a crewneck - less crowded looking to me. And next, I want to try a scarf or two. And of course, the Winnie jacket makes any outfit more fun. Plus requisite hat & scarf. Did I mention I picked up the JC Bucket Hat in store for $9.99? See...patience pays off occasionally...

Friday's Polyvore:

Thursday was a fun post-birthday day. A friend was hosting a Holiday Brunch, so I wanted to be festive - but I also wanted to stay warm. So I pulled out a Chicos cardigan from a couple of years ago - I love the faux fur trim. It makes it so cozy and just looks fab. I loved this cardi so much, I got one for my mom that Christmas. Both of which were purchased with coupon, of course. I got mine at 50% off...and it has been so worth it. You all know that I'm always cold, so this is the perfect piece to wear out in the winter with a black tank, jeans, fun shoes (or boring black flats), and some chunky but sparkly jewelry.

I did once have a funny incident at a friend's house where her dog was very weirded out by the sweater - usually Cody was my best buddy, but he slunk around the perimeter of the room for quite a while until he figured out it was me. Lucy had no problem, but she did see me put it on, so maybe that made a difference.

Given the outside temps and the wind, I chose a JC tissue turtle in dark charcoal (M again) instead of the usual tank, and then paired it with my black Minnies tucked into black boots. Between the fur collar and the boots, I did feel a bit bad-a$$, like I could pretty much take on the world. And oh, how warm I was. I am going to experiment with this cardi over some of my (many) black dresses for Christmas eve - I hope one of them will work so I can be festive and warm. If I find one that works, I'm sure I'll post it here.

Thursday's Polyvore:

12/10/09 by HeidiGblog featuring J Crew

Ok, now here's the promised splash of red. When I was at JC on Wednesday picking up the above-mentioned gray striped tee, I did fall into the Crewlade. Oh I know better. I know I don't usually love Essie polishes. But sure enough, I grabbed a bottle of Russian Roulette sitting by the counter, thinking that there was enough orange in it to maybe work. And here are the results:

Hmmmm....maybe I've been doing too many light and dark colors for the past few...years, but this was just way too bright for me. Or just not at all the right color or what I wanted. I had applied Thurs night...and took off Fri afternoon and applied another color. If E wants me to keep this one for her, I might. Otherwise, I'll offer it up to the DC JCAs at our next outing to see if anyone wants it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Slew of J Crew Reviews, plus the Ann Taylor Loft Sequin Tank

So melissa molasses' question about the Knox sweater jacket made me realize that I have been woefully behind on reviews...since I've been behind on blogging altogether. One of these items has already gone back and most of the others are currently under review. I'm trying very hard to be more intentional about my purchases and scale back. As my earlier post said just trying to keep all things in moderation. So let's knock a bunch out, shall we?

J Crew Dream Cabin Cardigan (#20609, $148). Oh how I wanted this sweater to work. I even was ready to pay full price. The gorgeous creamy heather fog color. The very cool motorcycle-inspired detail. The soft dream knit. That perfect balance of soft & edge.

Darn you, J Crew!! It's just too darn short. I tried...I really tried...I really really tried to make this work. I must have put this on and taken it off so many times trying to make it look right. But no dice, so back to the store it went...the next day.

At 5'10", it just was not long enough - it looked short. Maybe over a dress, worn open - but not for FP. BTW, I took an M - width was fine. Those of you on the more petite side...I now have another grudge to add to my J-Crew-minis-are-too-short list, so enjoy! Quite a few bloggers have posted on this cardi, I can't remember them all - sorry. I can't believe it's actually still FP since it's been out long enough. Interesting...

And now something that worked for me. Ok, a short sleeve dress in December. I know, I know, but we'll get back to why this is a smart choice. J Crew Flutter Scoopneck Dress (#, orig $78, curr $59.99). This dress is a catalog/internet only item. And sorry so delayed on this one - as of this exact moment, it's only available in L in navy. But we all know how the popback goes, so I will provide the info.

I ordered an M in the dress. Navy was the only available color, so I went with that. (I think it was during one of the 20% or 25% off promos, so the cost was closer to $45 or $48.) Fit? Perfect! Just long enough, just fitted enough, just enough room. Very pretty pleated layered detail at the neckline. I will live in this in the summer.

And yes, this is the 2nd summer dress I have purchased in two months (1st was the Gap dress with the F&F). Why? In November and December? Well, I have said this before - I love dresses...especially in summer and winter. Interestingly enough, I don't do them so much in fall & spring - probably because I can never decide what legwear to go with. But summer is made for dresses. And honestly, I had trouble finding perfect dresses this past summer - that's why I ended up getting the dressy jersey strapless dress in 2 colors. So for me, a very wise choice.

You can also see the dress on dinagideon here. She mentions winterizing the dress with tights, boots, & fierce jacket. I think that would work great with the raisin, but not so sure about the navy. But I'm sure I'll wear it enough anyway.

J Crew Tivoli Cardigan (#20967, orig $78, curr $49.99 sold out online at this moment but available in many B&Ms). Hmmmm, don't know about this one. Still undecided on whether to keep or not.

The good - (1) I love this color combo - the amber & gray. (2) As Slastena has shown us on Polyvore, this cardi looks *gorgeous* with the heirloom antique flora earrings so many of us have. (3) I love long cardis. (4) It's very warm. (5) I like the boiled wool - I admit I think of boiled wool from the 80's in Nordic-style fitted jacket paired with plaid skirts, so this is a very modern take on it.

The bad - (1) do I really need *another* long cardigan? i.e. is this just a wasteful purchase? (2) I definitely need a tee with this - too itchy to wear a tank only. (3) I took a size M, but it doesn't always look "smooth" over jeans in the midsection when buttoned, so that's going to make me hesitate before choosing this sweater. (4) It seems like this cardi has already started to pill just hanging in the store, so I am afraid of how it will pill IRL. Anyone have info on that? (again been bad about catching up on blog reading, so if anyone has posted, please share.) Or is it just the different look/feel of the boiled wool?

I'm thinking that if I am so on the fence about this, it really should go back - it's not like I'm exactly lacking in the sweater category. And I'm trying to be a little smarter fiscally.And now some holiday dressing...

J Crew Keaton Tuxedo Cardigan (#20631, $118). Really torn on this one, too. I ordered this with the 25% off sweater sale, so it was under $100, but still. I love the whole idea of this - take a traditional jacket, the tuxedo, but make it as a sweater. And the lapels are silk crepe de chine. Very pretty. But in this case, I think I liked it better on the table than I do on me.

I love the whole idea of the sweater as an easy dress-up piece. With jeans & a tee, plus some great jewelry...effortless. But I don't think the fit is exactly right...or something's off. I'm not sure about the single hook & eye closure - would it have been better if it were either open or closed with a button instead? Plus - and remember I'm definitely *not* in the well-endowed category - it tends to gape open wider at the bust, like it's framing the girls. I can't imagine how that would work on someone who is curvy.

So again, if it's not totally perfect, maybe that's telling me that it should go back...esp at FP with only 25% off.

By the way, I will give kudos and mention that the packaging when I ordered this sweater online was fantastic - on hanger, folded around cardboard to reinforce shape, plastic bag to protect, all inside box. This is in marked contrast to my recent Land's End order of a cashmere sweater that was in a plastic bag that was stuffed in my mailbox behind all the regular mail. See picture below - I carried it in exactly as it was in the mailbox - wanted to have proof. Thank goodness it was a knit sweater and not something totally wrinkle-able. But still...not happy at all about this.

Ann Taylor Loft Sequin Sparkle Tank ($60, sold out online). I got this one with the 30% off F&F. Very pretty top. Like the fact that the back is jersey knit, not a sweater, so less (no) snagging. The neckline and armholes are trimmed in chiffon. The sequins are sewn on very well and they are just fabulous.

So why am I not jumping for joy over snagging this great top at just over $40? Weeeeelllllll, I'm just wondering if I really need it. I mean I like it a lot. But I'm mentally going through the holiday events, and I've kinda already allocated outfits to each event. And not drab, crappy outfits - but fun & festive outfits. And I'm not 100% sure that this is so special that I wouldn't be able to find something else I really love next year.

Again, this is one I've been going back and forth on. If I had somewhere to definitely wear this and I was dying to do so, I would definitely keep it...but I think it is going back.

Ok, so that's where I'm at. Hope some of this helps some of you as I work through my choices.

An Even "Skinnier" Alternative, plus Pics of the Knox

As I have mentioned time and again, I am a big fan of Chico's jeans. Even at JC, I find the waistband is too low plus too big leading to muffin top plus big gape at the back. Sure, I could get jeans tailored, but I'd rather find a pair that fits really well to start with. I blogged about the Chico's Platinum Denim Slim Leg Jeans a couple of months ago. And I have been loving them...but when I ordered, they no longer had the blue washes in the 35" inseam, so I just grabbed the regular inseam in store and have been wearing them cuffed with flats or tucked into boots.

New Find - even skinnier jeans from Chico's. I'll admit right up front that I was bold enough to try these because (1) they actually had my size - 0.5 - in the 35" inseam in the "Rinse Wash" - now of course, they are sold out and (2) I had a 50% any item if purchase is $50+ - usually the threshold is $100 - so I got these for half price. Behold..Chico's Platinum Denim Ultra Slim Leg Jean ($69). I think even my sister would be impressed at how skinny these jeans are.

Speaking of my sister - a huge Happy Birthday to my twin & birthday-mate. I can't think of anyone I'd rather share a birthday with, other than Donny Osmond, which we do - and when we were 10 years old, that was just so cool. And since I can't sleep, it's 2:34 am, which is about 2 minutes after you arrived, and 1 minute before I did. Those blissful 3 minutes when our mom thought she would only have to deal with 1 baby. Ah, the days before ultrasound...

Back to the jeans...I am very happy with the fit. I like the higher waistband because it kinda holds everything in so there's no muffin top or gaping. I do realize that on some, this waist would be too high, but on my rectangular form, it works. I took a size 0.5, which is supposed to equate to a 6 (yeah, whatever), but I find in their stretchy jeans & pants, it's best to size down because they will stretch out.

I still need to experiment with which tops work best. A long cardi is kind of a no-brainer. I had on the tango top with a long sleeve tee layered underneath and just wasn't feeling it this morning. The biggest pitfall to avoid is the Stacy & Clinton ice cream cone effect, aka ICE. (ICE where the top part of your bottom half is really wide, and your pants narrow down to really skinny at the bottom - your ankles may look tiny by comparison...but your behind - by comparison - looks huge. ICE is best managed through trouser or straight cuts.) But I think these are workable by choosing the right top half. And even if I only wear these with long sweaters & tees, hey, they were under $40 - so I'm not complaining.

Yesterday, I opted for my BR Michelle-twin, a white open neck painter tee and then piled on some gold/sparkly necklaces including the should-have-picked-one-that-doesn't-snag twisted crystal with my dangling crystal shapes bracelet. Simple, yes...but it really suited my mind frame and you know the drill - toss on the yellow Winnie coat and the outfit goes to fab immediately.

Polyvore for today:

12/8/09 - What I really wore...
12/8/09 - What I really wore... by HeidiGblog featuring J Crew

And on the subject of charcoal sweaters...melissa molasses asked for an IRL pic of the J Crew Knox sweater jacket (#18172, orig $132, curr $49.99 in store). This sweater is sold out online, but still pops back. Most stores seem to have a number of them back in the sale section. I stalked this one for a while, waiting for the price to drop.

I haven't yet gotten a pic when I've worn it as an actual outfit - but here's the pic from just after purchase. Love the sweater - very warm. It's a very tight knit, so it's less likely to snag. And (not pictured) even though it's double breasted, it still looks very cute open. I was paging through the JC Oct catalog and the model was wearing it open...but I can't quite remember what else she had on though.

I took an M. It's not tight, but I feel like it's streamlined enough to not be boxy. The sleeves are plenty long. You could consider sizing down in this, depending on your shoulders. I think the sweater is very versatile and plan to wear it a lot this winter. The only thing that I'm still working on is the best neckwear when the sweater is closed. A regular "shirt" would be great. But I feel like it needs something extra when wearing with a tee - but I haven't figured out which necklace works well, or if a scarf might be better. In fact, the last time I wore it, that was vexing me, so I just wore it open. Ah well, plenty of time to experiment.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Nail Files - The Science? Art? of Frankenpolish

Have you heard of Frankenpolish?

Ok, it's like this...You know how in beauty magazines we often get the whole "I used this lip color and this lip color and this one to produce this fantastic look"? Yeah, i'm usually going, seriously? You get paid beaucoup bucks to do makeup and you can't find this color already out there? Ok, maybe I'm being a bit rude, but it does bug me when the answer to what color is that is a laundry list of lip products. And you know I'm lazy...I mean I like to use my time judiciously, so I am a 1-lip-product girl. One and done.

When it comes to nail polish, you can achieve similar effects. One way is to layer. I'll be honest - other than covering a bad pedi color with a darker polish, I don't do the nail polish layering thing. Why? technique just isn't that great. That's why I always mani & pedi at night - so I can scrape the excess off in the shower next morning and go Voila! Decent mani/pedi!! I'm just not consistent enough with the application to do the layering thing. Kudos to those who can. Feel free to stop by anytime. :)

Frankenpolish, or "frankening", is mixing multiple polishes together to achieve a new shade. I'm sure some thrifty gals out there already do might not even know it has a real name. For some full scoopage on frankenpolish, I will send you to my nail expert, as always, the All Lacquered Up blog. When cincyfan describes frankenpolish, she uses specific's a science, much like baking. For me, it's more like regular cooking - it's art. Well, maybe not art, but it certainly isn't an exact science. I like the idea of frankening because it's a great way to use those polishes that just aren't what you wanted them to be, or you've had too long to return, or you just don't wear anymore, etc. As much polish as I buy (I know it's an addiction, but it's cheaper than designer handbags)...

The process itself, for me, is pretty simple. You can get an empty polish bottle - I think Sally Beauty sells them. Or you can use an existing bottle - esp if you love love love the brush (yes, I'm talking about OPI). If you use an existing bottle, start by dumping out about half of the polish in there and then just add other shades & mix until you get something you like. I find it handy to have a white plastic plate or white paper with tape on it to test out my mixes.

HUGE caveat - please read - if you are going to do this - remember these are chemicals, folks. Be careful with mixing. And only mix polishes of the same brand. And, um, if you pour out excess polish onto a plastic plate, eventually, it will eat through that plate. (I don't even want to think about the implications of that...) So when you dump out, put down some paper towels to absorb.

This probably works best if you have a variety of extra polish to choose from. I decided to give it another go after I went through my polish again and had a huge stash of get-rid-of's. This one...I really love. It's perfect (for me). It's like a glittery version of OPI You Don't Know Jacques. (all of the following are OPI) I took last year's Brand New Skates (gray with sparkle - but never the right shade - too dark or too light or too blue), added a whole lot of this year's Holiday Glow (way too brown for me), and then a bit of Sand in My Suit (gold-tan metallic) and Up Close & Personal (gold sparkle). And here is the result:

Give it a try...

Monday, December 7, 2009

...And How Have You Been?

Whew...December starts at a full gallop, no? I feel so lame, constantly apologizing for the absences - and oh, am I reaping what I sow because I have so much blog reading to catch up on...

But here's the thing...the holidays are meant to be a time of joy, of family, of love, of fun, of peace, of reflection, of giving, of just being in the moment. They are not supposed to be a time of rushing, craziness, aggravation, frustration, getting sick, missing out on the small moments, and all of the bad stuff that we often associate with the holiday season.

Oh, the wisdom of Linus...So I have vowed to *not* let Christmas get me crazy this year. I am not going to over-do, over-buy, over-commit, over-party, over-spend, over-eat. That "over-commit" part? Harder even than the over-spend part. And so, I have been pretty absent in the blogosphere for the past week as I was decorating and working and mothering and all that. Bear with me...and in the New Year, maybe my resolution will be better & more active blogging, hehe. (that would be easier to keep than others)

What else has been going on? The fabulous bichonluvr headed up to MD last week and we met up at (where else?) my local JC to shop a bit and then have lunch. It was so fun to meet her IRL and hang out. And 6 degrees of separation and all that, it turns out that the only other person she knows in MD is the husband of one of M's teachers since they went to high school together in a whole other state. Small world, indeed. I figured we'd have some sort of Richmond connection, since that's my hometown...but no, the Maryland connection. She was so fab and so fun - and it was a great afternoon!!

And otherwise most of the rest of the week was work, helping out at school, and decorating for Christmas. (All done but the tree - which is up, waiting for hubby to get back from business trip so we can decorate it Wed night.) fun holiday party on Thursday. (and getting to dress up is, yes, still part of the fun) I got to wear the fantastic JC wool shift dress that the equally fantastic dinagideon gifted me that I also wore here. For the holiday party, I wore the dress solo, with tights & heels and then added some gold & gray sparkle. The Ugly Betty gray fireball necklace (retail only), the gray beaded bracelet (again, retail only), and the clementine garden pearl bracelet. Plus the Dina hoops. I loved the gold/gray mix of thew jewelry and the 2 bracelets really complemented the necklace, IMO. (and when Patina asked if I'd been "patinalized", I knew the jewelry was spot on...)

Looking at this picture made me realize I really needed to trim my I did the next day since my hair cut got cancelled. But I do need to reschedule that hair cut as I am finding myself sporting a ponytail more often than usual...and that's always my sign that I need a cut!

Polyvore from Thursday:

12/3/09 by HeidiGblog featuring J Crew

Items in this set:
J Crew Wool Shift Dress
80 Den Opaque Tights, 6 GBP
Movado Two-tone Watch, $600
Large 18K Yellow Gold Hoop Earrings - Forzieri, $449
Women's Cotton Sweaters & Cardigans - J.Crew, $75 have you been?