Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring Madewell Reviews (and One J.Crew Dress): Shoes, Shorts, Skirts

Here is part 2 of last weekend's Madewell review...our wireless router at home died on Tuesday and my work computer won't allow embedded links, hence the delay.

First off, some shoes. Specifically, an adorable strappy casual sandal with a little wedge heel. J.Crew is my first love, but Madewell has them beat when it comes to shoe quality and style, especially where price is concerned. Confession: As quality-conscious as I am about my clothing and handbag purchases, I am the opposite with shoes. I buy cheap shoes. They are often made of plastic or other unidentifiable man-made materials. I buy them cheap and beat them all to hell within a few seasons, then I toss them. I'm not proud of this, and I'm trying to invest in better quality shoes now that I'm older and my salary has increased to a level where I'm not asking myself "If I put gas in my car today, will I have to wait until payday to pay my phone bill?"

The Whistlestop Sandal

I skimmed over these sandals online, but they are much cuter in person and I decided to give them a try in the store.

Verdict: adorable. They are on the narrow side, but you have more leeway with sandals than with a solid shoe. They hug my foot nicely, and the leather is surprisingly soft for a brand new shoe. I'll hardly need to break these in at all.

The only thing that gave me pause was that the strap attached to the lower ankle buckle is really snug across my arch. I have high arches and, as you can see, I had to fasten the buckle on the last available hole. This is something to watch out for if you order them online.

Roseblossom Carousel Shorts

This is a nice, vintagey-looking pair of silk printed shorts. I love the color, but they're not for me since shorts like this look best on women with Varga-Girl hourglass figures, IMO. These are a size 6.

Striped Miniskirt

This skirt is fun, but I don't need another casual mini-skirt right now.

They didn't have a size 6 in stock so I am trying on the size 8 in this picture. I think that it would have been too short in the smaller size anyway, and it might have even been too snug at the waist since it nips in a little bit. I think I'd recommend going up a size if you are thick-waisted like me.

Picket-Stripe Skirt

I was puzzled about this skirt, since it looks like it's supposed to be shorter online. I'm 5'8" and usually skirts will hit me at about the same length that they do on the model. I'm wearing a medium here and there's plenty of room, so maybe I should have tried a small.

Either way, I didn't much care for this shape and style on me. I need more structure in my skirts. This might look better on a pear-shaped figure.

Cityguide Shirtdress

Blech, this does nothing for my figure. When you look at the online image, even the rail-thin model looks like she's thick-waisted, so it sure won't do ME any favors.

Size 8, my usual in dresses. The color is "Ink", and I couldn't tell if it was black or navy.

I couldn't resist stopping by J.Crew on my way out of the mall, especially because I was looking for a particular dress that is only being offered in-store.

This is another version of their popular Maritime Dress shape, which I love. They are perfect for after-work and weekends, and I liked this navy/orange colorblocked one because the other versions are all done in stripes. I only break the closet stripe embargo for very special items.

I had originally taken a medium to try on, but the SA told me that the small would be a better fit and she was right. This has a combination Nautical/Mod feeling to it, and the orange portion of the dress is a little stiffer than the navy portion. I think this will go away after a wash or two - I've had other garments that behaved this way and they tend to last longer than the soft, drapey cotton items do.

A few of the Madewell items that I've reviewed are on sale already, so it's the perfect time to bite! Happy shopping :)

Review: Emerson Fry Trench Dress

I noticed that The Emerson Trench Dress is for sale in a couple of sizes in the Ends Section on the Emerson Fry website, so I thought that I'd do a little review. Please disregard the attractive background - these pics were taken in the bathroom at work. The description on the website reads:

"An all-season, hardworking piece in the wardrobe, Emerson Trench Dress is polished and chic, featuring a matching tie sash, pockets and leather covered buttons."

"Khaki cotton, button-tab sleeves, surplice neckline, polished leather-covered buttons, fully lined.
100% cotton.
Dry clean only.
Made in USA."

Originally for sale at $228, the price has been lowered to $114 and I'd tell anyone to jump on it, because this is such a wearable, versatile dress.

Size 8, my usual. The cotton is crisp and strong, with a slight sheen. No stretch. This pic was taken at the end of a workday, so you can see that a few creases have developed on the skirt from many hours of sitting. Not too bad, though. Little leather buttons are such a nice detail. It comes with a self-belt that I'm wearing here, but I usually switch it out for a leather one.

Side view...obviously my dress is a bit tighter on top than Emerson's! Still, the buttons do not gape over the chest and there's a side zip so you don't have to worry about buttoning and un-buttoning.

Close-up of the top. I'm also wearing one of the Emerson Gold Lion Necklaces here, and it has become a wardrobe staple. I wear it 2-3 times per week.

Top two images from

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Return of Mad Men!

This pretty much sums up my feelings:


I would do a re-cap of the Season 5 Premiere for you, but there are so many blogs that do a much better job than I ever could.

Funniest: Best Week Ever (Including some seriously epic screen gif's)

Most Insightful: Tom and Lorenzo

Feminist Perspective: Jezebel (I love the comment section)

THE BEST SHOW ON TELEVISION airs Sunday nights at 9pm EDT on AMC.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Madewell Reviews: Tees and Tanks

One of the best things about being in a serious relationship is that you have a guaranteed ride to and from the airport. Had they included this info in the relationship propaganda pamphlets, I would have tried to get into one sooner. Anyway, it was my turn to play chauffer for the BF this weekend, and his flight ended up getting delayed a few times, so I decided to take the MARTA train from the Atlanta airport north to Buckhead and the Lenox Square mall. I may never drive into the city again: the train ride was so easy and pleasant. Since I had plenty of time, I tried on lots of different items at Madewell.

Silk Picket Stripe Tee

Despite my current closet embargo on stripes, this silk blouse caught my eye immediately. Red and navy: two of my faves. The SA said that they had just come in and they were selling very well. J.Crew came out with a similar top this Spring, the Gondola Stripe Top, but I like Madewell's version better. Something about the cut of the sleeves and the lack of the white stripes. I did end up buying this top and wore it to work pairs just as beautifully with a pencil skirt as it does with jeans.

Color=Felix Red, Size=Medium. The online description calls it "feather-light", and it absolutely is. Perfect for layering or on it's own in the summer.

As light as it is, it's not see-through at all.

Daybreak Tee and [blancnyc] Skinny Jeans

The Daybreak Tee was the first of Madewell's Linen Jersey tees that I tried on. They have such a nice hand, so lightweight...but they are SO SHEER. Even this Ink color tee showed the outline of my bra. Sheer tops are probably not a big deal for women who have smaller busts and wear pretty lingerie, but most of my bras are industrial strength minimizers. Not exactly the kind you want to show off. I just grabbed these jeans to try on with all of the tees, but I really liked them. Too bad I don't need any more denim right now. As with J.Crew's skinny ankle jeans, size up one for a less skin-tight fit.

Keepsake Stripe Tee

I really liked the heathery stripes on this tee, and the slightly longer fitted sleeves and open crewneck are nice touches, style-wise. Still too sheer for me, though.

Color=Optic White, Size Medium.

Keepsake Tee

Here is the solid version of the Keepsake tee. The Medium is pretty true to size for me. I love the slouchy fit that the model sports on the website, and I'd consider going up a size to try to get the same look, but it never works out that well for me.

Merci Stripe Tee

This is a great tee, and it has a nice heavy weight...reminds me of my St. James Mariniere tee, which only became this soft after I washed it a few times. Size Medium. AJC reviewed it as well on her blog, HERE.

Plantlife Pictureshow Tee

The panel on the front of this tee is like a heavy chiffon and I knew I wouldn't be buying it due to the sheerness, but the little botanical print is very sweet. The color isn't "me" either, but I do like chartreuse in general.

Side view, size Medium.

Runaround Tank

More linen jersey, more sheerness. I'd definitely feel uncomfortable walking around in this tank. It's nice and soft, though, and the colors are pretty. This color is "Sunset Koi".

Long-Sleeve Indigo Ink Tee

I LOVED this long-sleeve tee. The worn-in feel, the faded color, the fit, the was totally going home with me until I saw the black grease mark on the upper left shoulder (not visible in the pic). It was the only Medium in stock, so I will probably order it online.

Silk Stripe Tank

The multi-colored silky stripes on this tank overlaid onto lightweight Modal really make it special. I wish it wasn't so sheer because I ended up liking it a reminds me of the beach.

Part 2 of my reviews coming tomorrow.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games: Team Katniss

Last night, the BF and I went to a midnight showing of The Hunger Games (and I still made it to work on time this morning - yay!). I read all three books in quick succession last year after hearing that the protagonist was a strong-willed coal miner's daughter from Appalachia, and I have been eagerly anticipating the movie's release for months. It did not disappoint.

For those who are unfamiliar, the story takes place in a dystopian future in which North America has been destroyed by war, re-built, and re-named as Panem. The 12 Districts of Panem are controlled by the Capitol, whose residents live in luxury as most of the citizens of the rest of the Districts starve. As punishment for their past rebellions, all 12 Districts are forced to participate in the annual Hunger Games in which a boy and a girl, ages 12-18, from each District are forced to fight each other in a televised battle to the death until only one child remains. 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen lives in District 12, where she must illegaly hunt wild game to provide for her fragile mother and 12-year-old sister, Prim, after the death of their father in a mining accident years before. On the day of the reaping, Prim's name is chosen as tribute and Katniss, knowing that her beloved younger sister will never survive the arena, volunteers to take her place.

Read the books before you see the movie, because it really is a terrific series whether you are a fan of Young Adult fiction or not. Katniss is by turns brave, angry, selfless, prickly, sullen, stoic, and kind, a complicated teenager who wins the respect of the reader not because she is a hero, but because of her defiant determination not to become a victim as she fights for her survival. There is a love story involved (because teenagers are basically one giant throbbing bundle of hormones), but it is secondary to the challenges that are faced by Katniss and the other characters. Thank goodness...I was so afraid that Hollywood would take these books and turn them into Twilight 2: Electric Boogaloo. I'm pretty sure that pathetic little Bella Swann would be one of the first to get killed in the arena as she stood around chewing her lip and waiting for some sparkly vampire to come and rescue her.

The Hunger Games opens nationwide today.

Image from

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Emerson Fry Spring Line is Here!

YES! Finally the Emerson Fry (formerly Emersonmade) Spring clothing line is here. I have a few pieces from last year's Spring and Fall collections, and I would seriously buy every single thing that Emerson makes. Right now, it is killing me that my office is too conservative for a shorts-suit because I would wear the heck out of the one pictured above!

More goodies....


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

J.Crew Reviews: Think Pink! (Plus Some Ill-Fitting Dresses)

Think pink! think pink! when you shop for summer clothes.
Think pink! think pink! if you want that quel-que chose.
Red is dead, blue is through,
Green's obscene, brown's taboo.
And there is not the slightest excuse for plum or puce
—or chartreuse.
Think pink! forget that Dior says black and rust.
Think pink! who cares if the new look has no bust.
Now, I wouldn't presume to tell a woman
what a woman oughtta think,
But tell her if she's gotta think: think pink—!

~Maggie Prescott, Funny Face (1957)

This was, apparently, my theme song when I visited J.Crew in Atlanta with my mother (best shopping partner in the world) this past weekend. I am by no means a girly-girl, and I don't like that advertisers assume that I will only purchase a product if it looks like it was drowned in Pepto Bismol, but I do love pink in all of its various hues. Pink makes me happy, it's an instant mood-lifter. As the days get longer and the first little bright green buds of Spring are showing on the trees, I guess that I'm just feeling the need to infuse my wardrobe with some freshness.

I am such a fan of J.Crew's Boy Shirts - improbably, they are the only button-down shirts that will fit over my bust without alterations. I also love J.Crew's mini-skirts even though I only get to wear them on weekends. I knew that I would be into the Boy Shirt in Folly Beach Plaid as soon as I saw it on J.Crew's website (the color is called "Old Barn" often do you get to own anything in that color?), but the fairly un-impressive City Mini in Linen was a pleasant surprise once I tried it on.

Size 8 top, size 6 skirt. Whatever top you wear really needs to be tucked in with the linen skirt, otherwise you don't get the same slimming effect from the paper bag waist. I tried on another top with this skirt that wasn't really tuck-able, and it didn't work at all. I thought that I would prefer the Lemon Zest color, but something about the Neon Azalea really appealed to me.

The Raindrop Lace Top is pictured in Apricot Mist on the website and I barely paid any attention to it. "Apricot Mist" is code for "totally washes me out". Then I saw it in the store in Neon Azalea. When I came out of the dressing room, my mom immediately said, "Ooh, you look so pretty in that top! I wouldn't have expected that bright color to look so nice on you." Me neither, but she was right. The jeans that I have on are the Ankle Stretch Toothpick Jean in White Denim.

Size 8 top, which is my usual. The lace is much softer than I expected it to be. I'm usually not a huge fan of lace on me, at least in large doses, but this particular knit pattern is more graphic than old-lady.

I had to size up from my usual 28 to a 29 in these jeans. The sales associates warned me that they would stretch out with wear, so I asked my mom for her opinion.
Mom = I can't tell a difference between the sizes on you.
Me = Look at the crotch.
Mom = Oh, ew, they look like they are trying to CLIMB UP your crotch! Get the bigger size and wear a belt.

Close up view of the top. The bodice is fully lined, sheer through the shoulders and sleeves. It does allow your bra straps to peek through, but I'm wearing a nude bra here and you can only see the straps if you're really looking.

Pictured here are the Postage Stamp Mini in Confetti Tweed and the Sequin Tank in Cream. I really wish that I had a reason to buy this skirt because the tweedy colors are super cute, but I think that it would just hang sadly in my closet. Better to leave it for someone who will get lots of wear out of it.

Really liked the skirt. The shirt is pretty, but itchy. The sales associate brought me a small to try usual, it pulls across the bust.

Pleated pants are to me what Lex Luthor is to Superman, but these Chambray Cinch Pants looked so darn comfortable that I had to try them on.

Shown here in a small. Totally lived up to expectations comfort-wise, but, unless I spent a lot of time at the beach (I don't, sadly), I can't justify spending $68.00 on a pair of lounge pants. I can get those at TJ Maxx for less than $10.00.

Side view. Would look much cuter on someone with an actual butt instead of a person like myself who can only claim to have a "flass" (thanks, ajc!).

On a quick scan of the sale section, I was downright shocked to see a lone Heart Throb Silk Boy Shirt - those suckers sold out fast! It's no longer shown online, but xoxo did a review of it on her blog here. I didn't want to fork over the $130 bucks when it first came out a few months ago. I ran across the store to grab it before someone else did, thinking that maybe I could hold onto it and sell it on eBay for a profit. was a size 8! My size!

You win, Heart Throb shirt.

And now we've come to the disappointing portion of the post. I am constantly on the lookout for work-appropriate clothing, especially dresses that are simple and polished. J.Crew has supplied me with many fabulous cotton shift dresses, but for some reason most of their workday dresses are not cut to fit my figure AT ALL. Too tight in the bust, too wide in the hip, and the waistlines are cut too high for me, emphasizing my bustiness in a very unflattering way. Below is a selection of J.Crew's Spring dresses, very poorly modeled by yours truly. If you have a smaller bust and larger hips, these dresses would probably look very nice on you.

Biggest disappointment by far: the Attache Dress in Linen-Canvas, not just for the fit but for the terribly itchy and crease-prone fabric. I wanted to love this dress so much and I planned to order it in Bright Papaya since they did not have that color at this particular B&M location. I couldn't get it off fast enough, the itching was so bad. The other fiber that is used in this dress besides linen is jute, which is often used in braided rugs, and it FEELS exactly like the rugs do under your feet.

Tight in the bust, lots of extra fabric in the skirt - you can see where I'm bunching it up in my hand. Look at those wrinkles, just from putting it on!

My usual size 8 from the side. Not flattering.

I don't think this dress is posted online yet, or maybe it is in-store only. I didn't think to get a shot of the tag until it was too late. The print on this dress is the same as the Cotton Cardigan in Ovebloom Floral, which looks kind of like a stylized leopard spot to me. I believe the dress was silk, but I'm not sure.

Size 8. Buttons gape over the front, but I'd be swimming in a 10.

Side view. Not terrible, but I'd never buy this dress for me.

Elinor Dress. Pretty color, but I'm just waaaaaay to broad across the chest to make this work.

The sash never looked quite right, no matter how I tied it.

I don't think that this dress is online yet either, but ajc reviewed it in Navy on her blog post here.

I can see two very large problems with this dress....

So that was my visit to J.Crew. There were lots of things on sale from the previous rollout - two whole standing racks of the Rugby Stripe dress, Fabiola dress in Abstract Leopard, Lilian dress in Gardenshade Floral (mom looked gorgeous in this dress so I made her buy it), etc. I feel like J.Crew rolled out too many warm-weather items too early in the season or something...or else they just priced a bunch of items too high to sell at full price.

Have you tried any of these items on? Purchased them? What do you think of the newest Spring rollout?