January 31, 2012

Peter Pan Prim

See by Chloe dress (similar and on sale here and here)
Aquatalia boots
Kate Spade bag
amber pendent and vintage necklace

I wore this peter pan collared dress to dinner the other day. I really like it but the wool fabric is so thick that it is reserved for the coldest parts of the year. Something about it feels both witchy and nun-like. Photographs don't capture its embroidered and pleated details. But I paired it with some simple wedge boots and tights.

January 29, 2012

Oversized Wristwear

I posted about my new watch but never displayed it in action. So although I snapped this photo for Instagram I wanted to share it here. It was a great sale find from Bloomingdales. After $ and % off coupons, I managed to get it for around 60% off (even after spending the dough to get it adjusted to my wrist).

I have a backlog of outfits that I hope to post this week. I also would like to get into Anthropologie to try on some of the more promising new arrivals. And I still need to make it back to the Saks Liquidation, where indeed an additional 10% off has been taken. Between committee work and some revise and resubmit manuscripts that are on my plate, I am unable to take a lot of time out to blog and comment. But hopefully things will settle down soon. I was thrilled to get positive feedback on my Fighting Diamonds article (developed from the conference paper I presented in Chicago last March). That's back in for review after revisions so I hope to hear soon. I have a book chapter for a reader on activism and Twitter due at the end of February. And I want to get my NCA paper (from New Orleans in November) in to another journal asap. So much work to do and only so many hours in the day...

January 27, 2012

What I bought from the Saks Clearance

As I've already mentioned, it's pretty bittersweet to be losing the local Saks Fifth Avenue. With the consolidation stock they received, it makes the browsing experience even more fun than usual because there are have brands not typically carried in Pittsburgh. But the knowledge that the store will soon be gone for good is a bummer.

When I visited last weekend I wasn't sure that I would purchase anything. I went to handbags first and found a smooshy gray Rocco bag that tempted me. I even carried it around for a while to figure out if I could manage its infamous heft. Those iconic studs are some serious hardware! Ultimately I put it back. I have plenty of bags so I've become very sensible about impulse purchases (even when things are 65% off!). This is especially important because everything at the Pittsburgh Saks is now final sale.

They are honoring the original return policy for merchandise purchased before the clearance began. And because Anthropologie keeps releasing new colorways for the Pieced Column dress (some of which I like even better than my after Chrismas Saks Bailey 44 buy) I returned it. I read about some quality issues with the fabric and decided I could better put that gift card money to something that will be able to be worn often (lowering the cost per wear) and for years to come.

I've written about my enduring love for outerwear and every year I tend to find one coat to add to my collection. Well, last year was an exception. Although there were coats that I liked, none were the right price at the right time. When I saw the racks of Burberry for 65% off (with a gift card that would make it more than 80% off), I decided to make a purchase. 

I have already worn it every day this week! 

Note: They still had a lot of the Bailey 44 dresses and they are going to keep marking things down along the way so it might be back in my possession eventually. I will also be sale stalking the Pieced Column at Anthro because I do think it is a gorgeous, fun dress and I liked how it fit me. Eventually I believe I will be able to find one for a better price than retail. Check out Carol's new reviews of the dresses on In Pursuit of Pretty Things

January 25, 2012

Eleonora Flight Shift Dress Review

The pretty painterly print of the Eleonora Flight Shift Dress called out to me from the racks. I cannot resist an interesting print. So although this dress seems to be sold out online, I figured I would offer a review of it in the event of popbacks or discounts. I grabbed a medium with hesitation because I typically need a large to accommodate my hips in straighter shift styles. This one looked a little looser and it ended up fitting fine. I really like the styling possibilities offered by the versatile and simple shape. Shift dresses are almost like blank canvases in that regard. But the print makes it unique. The retail price point seems "reasonable" for Anthropologie but still unreasonable in my opinion for rayon and polyester fabrication. I have wishlisted it and am waiting for a sale/popbacks.

January 24, 2012

Cozy in Fair Isle

D'armee dress in black
Rose Gold Liz boots
Anthro belt
Hue tights

I love Fair Isle sweaters and if you visit any number of stores they seem to be inescapable. My mom bought me this drapey number from Macys for Christmas and it is so cozy. I throw it on over all sorts of casual outfits. So when I was headed out to teach last week on an especially cold day, I decided to try it with a dress. I belted it to keep the sweater in place and I think it worked out. It's definitely bulky but I was so warm that I hardly cared.

January 23, 2012

What I (almost) Wore

Kate Spade skirt with Banana Republic sweater two ways

I haven't done it with enough regularity but every now and then it really helps to take some time and try on your clothes. It can be fun to explore new options and pairings (while evaluating whether you want to keep lesser worn items). For me, this many names: hypothetical dressing, playing dress up. what I almost wore, etc.

Spinning Lace dress two ways

I did this a few weeks ago when I was trying to come up with holiday party ensembles and it brought me to the  conclusion that I should part with my Spinning Lace dress. I loved the dress but I wore it once. Once in an entire year. That is just not fair to something so pretty. It almost saw a reprieve in one of the options above. But it has a new home with more opportunity to see use. Do you play dress up?

Nautical in (Kate) Spade(s)

As usual, for spring nautical inspirations seem inescapable. Although I'm relishing the cold weather in Pittsburgh, the above ship and magazine clutches along with all the stripes and hues of navy have me itching to travel to someplace warm.

I don't own what I would consider to be cruise fashion but I'm envisioning ladies in strips and vibrant prints with men dressed in Ralph Lauren or Stone Island.

January 22, 2012

Live from the Pittsburgh Saks Liquidation

Last night Chris and I heard a credible rumor that the merchandise at the Pittsburgh Saks clearance sale included consolidated items from the website and elsewhere. So this afternoon we resolved to check it out. Discounts range from 10% (current season clothes and shoes, women's intimates, jewelry, and some of the handbags) to 60% (plenty of clothes, some shoes, handbags, and more). Allegedly (from the source of the consolidation information, and not a store employee), this Thursday everything will be an additional 10% off (so the base discount might be 20% rather than 10%). I forgot to ask an employee if they could confirm the information so it might not be accurate.

The handbag selection included brands I've never seen at the Pittsburgh store, like a bunch of popular Alexander Wang bags (the Rocco, for example) for 60% off retail.

The women's contemporary section was packed with a lion's share of Nanette Lepore, DVF, and Theory for 60% off. In the womens section, there was a good bit of St. John, Max Mara, and a lot of Burberry Brit.

Shoes for women had plenty of Tory Burch (revas and more), Hunter, and Ugg. There was at least one pair of Rachel Comey Barbaros (size 7.5) for $175 (before the extra 10% off).

And the men's section had Rag and Bone and other more contemporary lines not typically stocked in Pittsburgh. Suffice it to say, even if you aren't usually a fan of the stock at the local store, it is still worth checking out.

Chris heard from someone in mens that right now they have a lot more stock than what they can put on the floor and the same is probably be true for other departments. He was encouraged to come back because this isn't all that is available and discounts are going to continue until late March.

The store was busy but there were plenty of upbeat and helpful sales associates to tend to the crowds.  I imagine this morning's email from Saks corporate, informing customers about the clearance had something to do with it. As we were coming and going there was a steady stream of new visitors.

All of it feels bittersweet because while we're losing our store, we also have a unique set of deals available in the short term. I still feel for the workers, especially those who have been with the company for years and years.

January 21, 2012

My Anthro at Gabes Haul

Although I didn't find much in West Mifflin, I stopped by the Greensburg Gabriel Brothers this week and found some wool scarves, a pair of Lilka lounge pants, and the beautiful silk Wave Washed maxi dress in perfect condition. The plaid infinity scarf with wooden beads and the maxi dress were in my cart to purchase from the website not that long ago so I felt pretty lucky to finally get to buy them (and for way less than I almost spent). I was thrilled with the Greensburg selection although it took a bit of combing. Some of the Anthropologie items were integrated with general women's clearance racks. I recall also seeing some Moth cardigans (boyfriend and cropped), a few ivory embroidered Anna Sui for Anthropologie dresses, two blousey Ella Moss tops, and a Free People slip.

As a side note, if you need a wintery coat, Gabes has a lot of options right now. I saw some nice Miss Sixty ones on clearance. And stuff that looked like these Helly Hansen ski jackets from Outwood Sports.

Did any other SWPA Anthrophiles score at their nearby Gabes?

January 20, 2012

Saks Pittsburgh Liquidation

For Saks Fifth Avenue in Pittsburgh, this week marked an official beginning of the end. The Post-Gazette reported yesterday that the Saks Pittsburgh liquidation sale commenced with the company set to shutter their doors on March 17th, 2012.

Although I am really bummed to see Downtown Pittsburgh lose yet another retailer, I reserve a tiny amount of (irrational and completely unfounded) hope that perhaps Saks corporate will opt to open something in the burbs. The empty Boscovs space at South Hills Village would be suitable. The Tanger Outlet in Washington hosts a nice Off Fifth location but who doesn't like the ability to scope new arrivals and shop Saks' legendary Black Friday or After Christmas sales in person?

I also want to say that even though I was a relatively infrequent and predominantly sales-shopping customer of the store, the customer service in Pittsburgh was fantastic. The sales associates made you feel appreciated and welcomed, even when it was obvious that someone (like me) was going to make a b-line for the clearance racks. Perhaps this should be taken for granted and expected from retailers? Still, I know from shopping other similar stores around the country that this was remarkable. So thank you Pittsburgh Saks associates for being so kind and warm over the years! I wish all of you luck and hope that the severance packages were as generous as the kindness you extended to your patrons.

Hypothetically Shopping Pure Collection

Pure Collection Set

I love winter because it offers an opportunity to wear the coziest of knits. The ladies knitwear carried by Pure Collection comes in some of my favorite colors and shapes. When I hypothetically shopped the site this week, I found some really good prices on cashmere. Although I don't know if I could ever rationalize owning cashmere sweatpants, a seasonally-influenced desire for warmth and comfort sure tempts me.

January 19, 2012

Dark Days

Black version of D'Armee dress
To a Tee blazer
Missoni for Target spacedye tights
Misc. jewelry (kate spade, vintage, john hardy, swatch)

I wore this outfit back in November to teach then again recently for some meetings. I thought the tights would add some dimension and visual interest to what is otherwise pretty dull. Unfortunately, I learned that these tights are a little too long (and perhaps a bit too big or at least not fitted enough) so I was fighting gravity all day. Now that I see it, I wish I had scrunched up the dress sleeves since the jacket's cropped ones look a bit funny together. Next time!

January 17, 2012

Connect Forty Dress Review

Since it got marked down today, it seems like a good time to finally post this overdue review of Bailey 44's Connect Forty Dress. I tried this on the day after Christmas (when I had just eaten three Christmas dinners) so the practice of trying on such a squeezy dress seemed ill-advised. But I had just come from the Saks sale, where I bought the Pieced Column dress (which is now available at Anthro in a very similar though still not quite the same colorway) so I wasn't totally opposed to tight dresses or Bailey 44. I grabbed it because I loved the green color, the wiggle shape, and the unique length (which I think could stand to be an inch or two shorter on me). This is a size medium and it fit snugly (especially through my stomach and hips). But perhaps it is supposed to? I still wonder if a size large would have been more forgiving. With Spanx or other appropriate shapewear either size would probably look better. But the smoke and mirrors effect of the strategically staggered stripes is missing from this one. You see every curve with ease because the pattern is so uniform. The fabric is nice and much more substantial than that of the Tiered Stripes/Pieced Column/Layered Column family (speaking of, I just noticed the newest iteration featuring thicker, supersized stripes: Rugby Stripe Column). It seems very winter-friendly because it is thicker and warmer. But it is not a dress I will be buying myself.

For the complete sale roundup, which includes a number of sweaters I've long coveted (but still find to be overpriced) check out Roxy's full list.

January 15, 2012

Separates Outfit

Cartonnier blazer (anthro) (similar)
Nanette Lepore top (ebay) (similar here, here, and here)
Juicy Couture skirt
Rosegold Liz booties
Misc. jewelry

I've been wearing this Nanette Lepore blouse frequently, with pants, with skirts, and because it has been so cold (and the blouse is pretty sheer) with layers. So far I've only taken the time to photograph the above. This was for dinner with friends downtown.

Resin and enamel bangles (most of which were gifts from family and friends) 
from MBMJ, Kenneth Jay Lane, Target, and Hiptique 
Betsy Johnson watch (similar here)

You can see the print and the jewelry a bit better in the closeup. I have a few camisoles and pretty short sleeved blouses from J. Crew but my long sleeved tops are still few and far between. I was glad to add this one to the repertoire when I found it on ebay. 

January 13, 2012

Hemming and Hawing

When I did my 2011 roundup of favorite buys, I included the See by Chloe Patchwork Print dress that is so comfy and that I enjoy wearing very much. It yields a lot of compliments and generally feels very me without going too far into twee-overload. And I have written before about my tendency to buy multiples when I really like something. So when I found the alternate version (called the Folklore print) on Yoox with a % off and free ship coupon, I decided to take a chance. Now I'm not sure if this print (which sort of evokes tiny garden gnomes or troll dolls... haha) is venturing toward twee in a bad way. What do you think? Sorry for the crappy mirror photo. I haven't had time to take proper ones and the return deadline is fast approaching.

January 11, 2012

Attn: Pittsburgh Anthro-philes! Deal alert!

A rack at West Mifflin Gabes

Last week my friend Elaina mentioned that she managed to score this pair of Chie Mihara pumps for $10 at Gabriel Brothers. I wondered from where something so fancy originally came? Then this week, reader Danielle Marie commented that her local Gabriel Brothers had a motherload of Anthropologie items. So it seems that SWPA Gabes as well as tri-state area Rugged Warehouse stores once again landed Anthropologie overstock.

I scoped the scene today at the West Mifflin store where I found a rack of dresses marked at $19.99 each. Although none of the ones I wanted were in my size this is great news for other deal hunting Pittsburgh Anthro-fans. With so many stores in the region, I wish I had the time to plan my own tour de Gabes.

For novice Gabriel Brothers patrons, know that you need to shop carefully. Stores are filled with overstock as well as damaged or otherwise "unsellable" merchandise so inspect items closely and try things on! I've bought without trying and learned the hard way that anything priced with a .00 is final sale (nonreturnable). Go with low expectations and a chunk of free time. Gabes can be hit or miss. Although the Gabes shopping experience might feel comparatively unglamorous it can be really rewarding. As a longtime shopper of Gabes, my best score was a beautiful Miu Miu blouse priced at $10 years ago in Belle Vernon.

Sometimes shopping Gabriel Brothers can be a wash when it comes to stocking items that suit your style and aesthetics. I typically wear clothing that is forgiving and not too form fitting. Surrounded by special occasion party dresses and more (that look like these from Goddiva dresses), I often find myself leaving empty handed. I guess it depends on when you go.

The lack of organization might feel overwhelming. Good stuff can easily get misplaced or hidden so be sure to bring friends to help you divide and conquer. For more on how to shop Gabes, read my tutorial here.

Styling Schoolboy Satchels

On CBS Pittsburgh, I have another piece up about styling schoolboy satchels. You can read it here. Here's a link to more of my articles for CBS Pittsburgh.

January 10, 2012

10 days late outfit post and Mr. Porter review

Manoush dress
Stuart Weitzman flats

This is what I wore on NYE in 2011/2012. Although NYE presents a great excuse to wear a new dress, this one wasn't new. In fact, it wasn't even new to NYE. I also wore it back in 2007/2008. When I was deciding what to wear, I remembered I hadn't worn my navy lamé Manoush dress for years. So I figured why not! I don't find many occasions where I can wear shiny fabrics without feeling a little over the top.

When I wore it on 12-31-2007

This dress was one of my first Net-a-Porter purchases back when they still gave you the black boxes (even for sale items). The recently launched men's fashion brother site, Mr. Porter has their own hefty merchandise boxes.

Mr. Porter Box

This one is shirt sized and has the texture and heft of the boxes that sometimes contain nicer perfume gift sets. I imagine the intent is to evoke an era and aura of by-gone luxury shopping unfamiliar to most (myself included)... i.e. when people bought hats and things and those hats and things all came wrapped up in branded boxes. This used to be standard practice for many now-defunct department stores.

I suppose a number of designers still box up their items with much fanfare and quality packaging (Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, Balenciaga, and Chanel spring to mind). But it is rare for a multi-brand retailer to do so (unless you request the item be boxed for gift giving). The result is that the shopping experiences offered by Mr. Porter as well as Net-a-Porter and even (to a lesser degree with their reusable garment bags and zip totes) Outnet feel unique and indulgent. Chris ordered from the sale section and seems pleased overall. He loved the products he purchased (a sweater and a shirt). He likes the selection of brands which included Paul Smith shoes like these from Bertie. They ship via UPS but do not require any signatures for delivery, unlike the Outnet and Net-a-Porter. The included notes and branding also convey a sense of continuity similar to the founding sister site. Chris's first order came with a Mr. Porter stationary card addressed to Mr. hislastname, which was pretty charming. Orders arrived swiftly and although he didn't need it, the returns process seemed simple.

Overall, Chris is glad that Mr. Porter strives to fill a gap in the online retailer boutique landscape for stylish men. The prices are high when you aren't buying from a sale but the selection of brands and merchandise are vast and sales do happen. Chris is hoping for an expansion of their online outlet, Outnet to incorporate the leftovers from Mr. Porter.


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