November 29, 2011

Many Folds Dress Review

In honor of its markdown I figured I should post a long-overdue review of this Many Folds Dress. The allover print is of sketched and folded paper airplanes cranes (shoutout to whatjesslikes who caught my error!). The print is by far my favorite aspect of this dress. I only wish it was offered in a different shape. I grabbed an 8 and it ran a bit big in my opinion. The dolman sleeve and the overall shape of the bust added bulk to my upper body that I didn't like.

I also thought the length overwhelmed me. But this is a cool dress, even if it isn't right for me personally. I recommend sizing down and relishing the pretty print. For the entire list of today's markdowns, see Roxy's list. It is taking a lot of willpower to not buy myself a Missoni scarf. But they're still a bit pricey compared to the DSW closeout prices of yesteryear. Did you get anything?

If you're trying to limit your self-presents in advance of the holidays, why not enter my Shabby Apple Giveaway? It doesn't count if you got it for free!

November 28, 2011

Win an adorable dress in your size from Shabby Apple!

Bali Ha'i' dress

With holiday party season upon us, it is the perfect time to get a new dress! And I hope I can help you do that. The fine folks at Shabby Apple contacted me to offer the readers of Consume or Consumed another chance to win an adorable multi-season dress in your size! If you aren't familiar with the boutique, Shabby Apple carries women's dresses and other products that feature unique feminine details, drawing inspiration from vintage styles.

What drew me to this particular dress, called Bali Ha'i', was that the shape could flatter many figures and different body types. Purple has long been my favorite color. And the shade of this dress is gorgeous! The style has longevity and versatility. And I love the pretty details that embellish the top. 

Contest Eligibility:
You must be located in the US.
You must "like" Shabby Apple on Facebook.
You must be a subscriber of Consume or Consumed (rss, google reader, bloglovin, GFC, etc.).

To enter, please leave a comment stating that you "liked" Shabby Apple on Facebook. Please include how you subscribe to Consume or Consumed (i.e. bloglovin, rss, or google reader/friend connect).

To gain extra entries (one possible entry per action), leave additional comments stating that you've:

Blogged the giveaway (with a link to the post)
Like Consume or Consumed on Facebook
Tweeted the giveaway @jesspgh (with a link to the tweet)

The contest will close at 11:59pm EST on Monday, December 5, 2011.

The winner will be chosen one week from today via drawing on to receive the Bali Ha'i' dress which will ship directly from Shabby Apple. I will contact and announce the winner on Tuesday morning. In order to win, I will need some way of contacting you (twitter handle, facebook, email, disqus profile, etc.). You don't have to share contact info publicly and can email me if you prefer to enter that way.

If you can't wait a week for the giveaway to unfold, Shabby Apple is offering free shipping and a 20% off discount on nearly everything for Cyber Monday shoppers. Use coupon code GIVETHANKS at checkout. Have fun exploring the adorable women's dresses available on Shabby Apple's website!

November 27, 2011

Outfit miss

LA Made dress from Anthro
Anthro belt
Misc jewelry
Chie Mihara Lumi flats

Lately I find myself enthused about whatever I wore in the morning and loathing it by the time I see the photos. This is one example though there are many of them that remain un-shared, living in flickr limbo. Part of the problem is that things are busy. Holiday busy. Conference busy. Post-conference busy. Committee busy. Revision busy. Paper grading busy. Blargh. Maybe there will be more time to post my misses this week? I say that with genuine enthusiasm.

Regardless, tomorrow I am going to announce a great giveaway in celebration of Cyber Monday so be sure to check back for it!

November 26, 2011

Occupy Gratitude

Although this is a little belated, I still wanted to wish everyone in the US a Happy Thanksgiving. Despite this holiday's complicated history, it is among my favorites because it reminds people to count their blessings and embrace the good rather than dwell on the lackluster or sub-par. I need this reminder (don't we all?) because it is much more commonplace and accepted to be hard on ourselves. To mire our accomplishments and triumphs with caveats and qualifiers about how "it would be even better if..."

For me, Thanksgiving is about not just recognizing but relishing the good, whatever that may be. It is about acknowledging privileges, good fortunes, and embarrassments of riches to remind ourselves that we don't need to be the richest, smartest, prettiest, best, etc. to still be among the lucky. Despite prevailing ideologies, this world doesn't have to be about perpetual, metaphoric competition. And in thinking about the goodness in our lives we gain perspective because although the world doesn't have to be a competition, there are people for whom struggle is an understatement. While I might dislike many of the competitive elements of American culture, that does not mean that I accept the ever-worsening disparities that exist within it, making life immensely harder for the majority and easier for a narrowing "lucky" minority.

Some US statistics from the Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty:
The facts are simple...
  • Income inequality is extreme and increasing: The top 1% of Americans control nearly a quarter of all the country's income, the highest share controlled by the top 1% since 1928.
  • The U.S. is exceptionally unequal: The U.S. ranks #3 among all the advanced economies in the amount of income inequality.
  • The poverty rate is high: The U.S. poverty rate, according to the new Supplemental Poverty Measure, is estimated at 15.7 percent. The official poverty rate stands at 15.1 percent. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that 14.5 percent of all households were "food insecure" in 2010 (which means that at least some household members didn't have access to enough food for an "active, healthy life").
  • The unemployment rate is high: The U.S. unemployment rate for August is 9.1 percent. The employment-to-population ratio, which was 58.2 percent in August, is over 5 percentage points lower than just five years ago.

In these troubled times the gap between the haves and the have nots keeps widening. Real wages have decreased as inflation has increased. Locally, nationally, and globally economic challenges seem insurmountable. Wealth continues to concentrate among that narrowing sliver of the most fortunate. Now more than ever it makes sense to count our blessings. And in doing I cannot help but want to work creatively and actively toward diminishing the economic and social injustices of such ever-widening inequities. I believe that there should be a Happy Thanksgiving for all, not just for some. And I truly hope yours was great! Thank you for reading.

November 21, 2011

Twist and Refresh Dress Review

I've been traveling the last few days for a conference and hope to update with a post about academic professional outfits soon enough. But first I have a quick review to share.

The Twist and Refresh dress is another Anthropologie item that started with a template (thicker, stretchy cotton fabric, sized S/M/L, fit and flare silhouette, etc.) and led to many incarnations. Each version of this basic dress has been tweaked a little. The sleeves, color options, and neckline vary with each. This one has 1/3 sleeves, a v-neck, and a mix of black with white. It is my personal favorite. The top is ivory-tinged, too so it is not a bright white. This is the first version of the dress I've tried. And I have to say that the pleating at the waist seemed weird. Perhaps it could be fixed with a belt? Perhaps it was a size issue? I didn't have a lot of time so I didn't try on other sizes. This is a medium. I kept putting my hands toward the sizes of the skirt, searching for pockets. Sadly, there were none.

At any rate, I am passing on this. The thicker knit seems nice for winter layering but I wonder if this fabric is so thick that it could easily become bulky? I don't know though. I didn't try. It is nice that the dress is basically a blank canvas. And I can see why it has been made in so many colors and sleeve styles. This one is close to being the kind of thing I'd want. But it's off enough that it won't even get wishlisted.

I've noticed that during my last few store visits, nothing has really wowed me in that "omg it will be mine" kind of way. Granted I am trying to be more mindful about purchases. But I don't find myself thinking on Tuesday morning that I must check my wishlist to see what made it to sale. And the things I thought I would want to keep for the long haul that inspired that enthusiasm in the last year are making their way to my shop blog. For example, I am pretty sure I'm going to sell Tippi and I thought I HAD to have that. It's a good lesson to learn about the difference between perceived needs and fleeting wants.

November 18, 2011

Quick ootd

MBMJ coat
J Crew button back top and cords
Anthro blazer
Stuart Weitzman studded purple suede flats
Balenciaga Day

Wore this for errands and some early holiday shopping. More pants!

November 15, 2011

Professor Paisley

Marc by Marc Jacobs dress and pumps
Spanx tights
misc jewelry

When I debuted this old favorite dress to my current semester students, it provoked a flurry of compliments as well as some inquiries about where I shop, whether I am into fashion, what my closet is like, and if I am always "dressed up." It made me feel flattered but also a little silly, so I tried to steer the conversation toward the semiotics of dress (since we were discussing de Saussure and language as a system of signs that day anyway). We talked about how within the culture of many colleges and universities, dress is considered a frivolous or even embarrassing interest. And on some level that frivolity might be embedded in deep-seated (and arguably, misogynist) notions about fashion as primarily a feminine and fluffy domain. It was a productive conversation. And it was fun to have something so mundane tie into the topic for that day. I couldn't have planned it better!

I learned yet again that this dress makes an impression on people. It is difficult to capture the richness of the wool in photograph. When I first saw it I remember thinking that if I was lucky enough to find it around second cut sale time, it would be my favorite purchase of the year. I did and it definitely was! In late 2009 and early 2010 I wore it to every holiday party, event, and mundane errand trip possible. I still bring it with me when I travel in winter to cooler climes. It doesn't hold wrinkles. It looks fun layered or belted. And it can speak for itself. This is one of the dresses that I liked so much I bought it twice (in the other colorway). With the influence of sale goggles and the incessant consumerist nag for "new"/"more" it can be difficult to know which purchases will have longevity and which will bore us, eventually. Although I cleared out some of my lesser worn MBMJ dresses on my shop blog, the ones I have kept are beloved. Even treasured. I might bring some of them with me for my upcoming conference trip to wear to dinner one night.

November 13, 2011

Tiered Stripes Dress Review

Tiered Stripes Dress (Size medium)

Anthropologie heavily promoted the Layered Column Dress via email and on the website as universally flattering. And soon after, they released the Tiered Stripes Dress which was a long-sleeved version of the same. Both are made by Bailey 44 and sized in letters rather than numbers. I admit that without that additional push from marketing I probably would not have looked twice at this dress. It is stretchy, figure-hugging, with vertigo-inducing stripes, and a mid-calf length. Conventional wisdom says that none of these elements are supposed to "flatter" (in the narrow sense) a curvy and short person like me. But the boldness of their marketing claim intrigued me. So when I stopped in my local store to make a quick return, I also decided to give it a try.

I grabbed both medium and large. And although I think it is expensive for what you get, I was pleasantly surprised by how it looked. The large (bottom photo) had additional length and was a little less clingy. But the dress is meant to cling. As a result, I actually preferred the look and length of the medium (top photo). I do think this dress is outside of my own comfort zone. But it is cool and structural for a jersey knit. And I was surprised to see that the stripes added enough play to the cling that it didn't feel obscene. This dress isn't for me but I can see why Anthropologie chose to market it the way they did. It does seem to have the potential to really make a range of bodies look fantastic.

November 11, 2011

Wear the Flattering Shift (or not!)

Megan of the Pittsburgh-based, tech-savvy, made-to-measure clothing start-up, Wear the Shift posted a smart followup to the entry I wrote a few weeks back about my rejection of the discourse of flattering. I encourage you to check it out! And I thank her for the link love! It makes me feel really flattered (pun intended) to have provoked additional thoughts about the subject.

November 09, 2011

On repeats and no repeats

J. Crew factory rosette cardigan (similar here)
Kate Spade dress (current season version)
Gucci wedges
Heathered bittersweet Spanx tights
Vintage necklaces, Linea Pelle leather bracelet, Target enamel bangles, Betsey Johnson watch

Alternate title: Why I don't (30 for 30) remix. The ideology of consumerism is powerful. The lure of the consumer fix and the emotionally transformative prospects for retail therapy continue to inform purchase decisions among even the savviest shoppers.* I've long believed in the idea that through repeated wearing, a garment's use-value increases (so if you take the cost-per-wear calculus, it becomes less expensive to the purchaser the more you rotate an item through your ensembles). Still, that desire for more, newer, better has meant that so many of us continue to pursue quantity, regardless of quality. Personally, I know I have too many clothes, even if the majority of the stuff I buy at this point is of nicer quality. Reading through the intelligent and practical thoughts of "The Year of Nothing New" helped me better understand my own personal tendencies for amassing quantity. And rewearing pieces (without self-imposed wardrobe constraints) is something I practice constantly (monogamous dressing is my pastime). I admire that so many people participate in the 30 for 30 challenges, as I do think they can inspire creativity and innovation among people who have limited wardrobes (during extended travel, for financial reasons, or just for the sake of relative minimalism). But I have never considered participating in such challenges myself.

Like many of the various remix challenge participants I find myself thinking that I have too much.  Even after consistent edits and weeding, trying to be as ruthless and unsentimental as possible; even after multiple resolutions to "buy less, buy better," I still find myself capable of avoiding repeats within the fall and winter months of the semesters. I suppose that sounds obscene to some. And I guess I should clarify that I don't mean each outfit I wear is always completely new. But the central component of an outfit can easily be swapped for each new semester audience. After all, right now I only teach my students two days per week. When I have a wealth of options it makes me think I should rotate for the sake of equitable use even when I get the urge to repeat (to the same audience) in quick succession. So I try to go through a rotation of outfits that is organized based on season.

Obviously some pieces can't be worn in the dog days of late summer and others simply are not practical to sport when it is 10 degrees below freezing. So my wardrobe strategy is seasonally dependent. Within the rotation my goal is to maximize what I have without pretend limits and with realistic attitudes about when to cut something from the roster (hence the difficulty I've had in finding pieces to include in Jewish Girl's rounds of the Use it or Lose it Challenge). Especially when they are novel or especially flattering, I find myself wanting to wear some pieces every day (like the above dress). But I resist, perhaps irrationally.

Should variety be the default when your options are plentiful? I often wear the same outfits in quick succession when they can be spread among diverse social circles. Some days I even want my own personal super hero uniform to involve an arsenal of the same garment that I thoughtlessly and happily sport all the time. I envy the simplistic chicness of a wardrobe consisting of all neutrals and/or just a reasonably small number of key pieces. And yet (like so many privileged Americans) my own relationship with consumerism  has been such that "more" often conflates with "better." Maybe it is the inevitable side effect of existing in a Supersize-happy culture?

Lately when I find myself staring into my wardrobe, wondering what to wear, I fantasize about that small, perfectly-edited, neutral-tone wardrobe where everything matches and everything is unfussy and chic.** And repeats are inevitable.

*For an academic take on the intersections of faith and shopping, see this excellent book by historian, Lizabeth Cohen.

**I acknowledge fully the immense privilege it is to have such a non-problem (aka a "privileged person in the developed world problem" which is increasingly becoming my more nuanced version of the useful shorthand meme, "first world problem").

November 05, 2011

End of the day OOTD

J. Crew top
Anthro skirt
Spanx tights
Rosegold Liz booties

It is often the case that I don't have time to snap quick photos of my outfit when I arrive to work. But the reality is that it's far more honest to show you how disheveled and wrinkled things get by the end of my longer days of teaching. After seeing this linen blend skirt in the above photos, I seriously considered bringing my portable steamer to keep in the office. Although, generally I do not recommend steaming clothes while you are wearing them, as doing so has led to more than one painful moment in the midst of my own rushed laziness. Still I liked this outfit for its subtle fall-appropriate neutrals, and in spite of the wrinkles.

November 03, 2011

Another quick pants outfit

To a Tee Blazer
Zebra top from Anthro (similar here)
Kate Spade Bon Shopper tote (loving this matchbook print version)

I wore this for errands and to stop in Anthro the other week. I am so behind on posts and outfits and life! I might just do an omnibus entry with some recent hits. Though first I need to have the breathing room to compose such an entry... I also apologize for my absenteeism among my fellow bloggers. My reader is stocked full of your recent posts and I am looking forward to when I can comb through everything.


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