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Life of Colleen

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Further wardrobe meanderings
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2010-03-15 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

jcrew jackie shell in pearl

The above J.Crew Jackie Shell is on my wishlist. I have the Jackie cardigan:

jcrew jackie cardigan in pearl

At first I'd the notion of doing the twinset thing, but a twinset is kind of useless for my purposes. A nice idea, but far more striking when done in an unusual color, so the perfect match of the two pieces jumps out at you.

My Jackie cardigan is in the "Pearl" color pictured...it's next to the ideal item for our San Francisco Bay Area climate, once we shed the current chill and launch into what we call spring and summer. Typically the day begins cold...even in summer, I wear a leather jacket in the morning. Soon enough it morphs into something almost sweating hot, but then I work in an air-conditioned building where you can't open a window. A cardigan is necessary, but the psychological coolness of an off-white layer, preferably with 3/4 or bracelet sleeves, means hardly ever having to "put on and take off."

However, a Pearl twinset just doesn't seem thrilling enough to warrant the purchase of the shell. How it ended up on my wishlist is it looks terribly useful in its own right. An off-white shell (like the cardigan, less headache than white-white) would coordinate with just about any skirt, pants, cardigan or jacket. Wouldn't need ironing, isn't low-cut nor sheer, just wash and hang to dry.

The sole annoying factor: the shells aren't available in stores, which makes no logical sense. Wouldn't they sell more shells, were they stocked alongside the matching cardigans? (I'm not even sure what size to get, plus there's the morbid shipping charge.)

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Someday, your prints will come; other wardrobe thoughts
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2010-03-06 at 4:18 PM (Pacific)

printed skirt

Yeah, send me to the pun-itentiary. groans

I couldn't resist this skirt. It's not the same as the stripes:

striped skirt

...nor the graph-paper print I've been turning over in my mind. Yet there is something graphical about it...and it's relatively long (20"). The sole concern I have is, it's rayon, which might be prone to wrinkles. But it couldn't be worse than linen, right? I have a linen skirt I love. It tends to get squashed, and I don't care.

When I embarked upon this working-wardrobe journey, I wasn't planning on buying a lot of skirts. Old school thought revolves around suits or dresses...but then this is based on the notion that working women are either executives (suits) or secretaries (dresses). Either you have a secretary, or you are a secretary.

I've found skirts more versatile than either. The same skirt can keep going, with any number of blouses, cardigans, pullovers, even a nice tee shirt; shoes or boots, stockings or tights. A good skirt can sort of span the seasons. I don't buy trendy skirts such as bubble or maxi, or anything I wouldn't want to wear five years from now (okay, I'm cheap).

I can admit I've been a bit mesmerized by the J.Crew website. It's not that the clothes are...different, in the obvious sense. They're not; in fact they're formulaic, classical if you will. They offer virtually the same clothes year after year.

What's eye-popping is, you'll be tooling along on the site, wondering just how many tissue tanks it is humanly possible to create, or cursing the 'Crew for not producing more non-dryclean items, then you'll suddenly bump into this:

socks with skirt

Hold the phone! I don't mean the skirt (which is gorgeous). What the heck is she wearing, if it's not little socks and sensible oxfords? with this smashing silk skirt and office-friendly white top?

I love you, J.Crew! erm...it's not that I want to wear little socks, it's the idea of pushing the envelope.

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J.Crew Boatneck Painter Tee review
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2010-03-03 at 6:52 PM (Pacific)

jcrew boatneck painter tee in pale blossom

I got this when they were marked down, in "Pale Blossom."

Hermmm...this shirt reminds me of a guy you like, who isn't particularly wealthy, not widely regarded as hunky, yet there's something about him that drives you crazy.

I mean it's not a great shirt by objective standards. 'Crew ditched the raw edge in the neckline, but the seams are not fabulously finished; the material is sheer-ish (not to the point you'd need a camisole). The neckline dips a bit too much in front for a boatneck, is a bit too wide to truly cover bra straps. You don't get straps in your face, just a slight edge either side. It strikes me you'd need a specific shoulder size to pull this off; small or wide shoulders might not work. And it's a bit tight on the bust.

Still, I couldn't wait to wear it. It's hardly a winter top, not the kind of material I'd normally wear to work...but, it's great. It's just right. Pale Blossom is a lovely very pale pink. Were the shirt a more substantial cotton, it probably wouldn't work...it's the sheerness (again without being horribly sheer), the sublime color and boatneck that all add up to "more than a tee."

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Odds and sods, part 6
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2010-02-24 at 10:18 PM (Pacific)

Spring is...actually not here. Yet it's important to pull yourself out of any wintery slump.

jcrew boatneck tee in hyacinth

J.Crew marked these down (for a magnanimous three days), so I decided to try it out. Not in the above shade--though tempting, I already have a cardigan in that exact lilac. A neutral boatneck would be more useful to me.

I 86'd the notion of trying LL Bean's boatneck (too casual) or Sunhee Moon's (sold out). A good boatneck is oddly uncommon. Oh well, let's see if the J.Crack version is all it's, ah, cracked up to be.

lace trimmed camisoles

Once you delve into the sheer, something like this is essential. I was glad to spot a camisole with lace on it, and not some dreary miniscule edge o' lace. Here they've even nicely matched up the lace in the center. The only fuddling aspect is why they don't have cream or nude...yet, who cares, "nude" can mean more than your standard creamy brown. The light grey one would do it; the idea is any colorless color, softly blending rather than standing out.

navy striped skirt

This skirt is not going to be here until March. It looks ordinary--on me, it's not going to be that short, more a knee length (always check the measurements)--it sorta looks like a sewing project, the kind of thing you'd make if you weren't totally lame with a sewing machine.

Yet it seems ideal for what I want. Much as I like the idea of long skirts, I find them aging, on someone who's actually aging (they seem more youthful on the young). A miniskirt is aging as well, again unless you are young. Mid-length works best.

And, it's difficult finding prints that don't cost a fortune...I'm not against that, actually, makes better sense than mediocre prints...here I want a print that doesn't register as a print. If I could find something that looks like graph paper, so much the better, but stripes will do it.

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J.Crew Nico Skirt review (Black Blossom)
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2010-02-13 at 9:24 PM (Pacific)

jcrew black blossom nico skirt

Yup, I checked this out on our glorious three-day weekend. In the images, it appears tiny, not something I'd normally even consider. But my daughter spotted it, and liked it, so naturally I had to at least try it on.

By now, I've acquired several solid-colored skirts; they're by far more useful than prints, but then I have solid-colored tops...after a while, you really want a patterned skirt. "Black Blossom" doesn't seem too camouflage-y to me, but rather a handy combination of black and brown, neutral enough so the skirt doesn't wear you, and sure to coordinate with just about anything.

They didn't have the full range of sizes in the shop, so I grabbed the biggest mid-range size, and the biggest skirt altogether (you know, the lone one at the back of the rack). I figured a.) I'm not 5'10"+ like the model, and b.) the trick would be to get a big skirt. The "model height factor" adds two or three inches in length for me, and the large size places the waistband lower, lengthening another two to three inches.

Altogether, this falls six inches longer on me than in the picture. It's shorter than any other skirt in my collection, but not what I'd call a mini.

By the way, I appreciate the side pockets in this thing; they're unobtrusive, but a nice touch.

March 3, 2010: Edited to add: I decided to shrink this some in the dryer (it really was too big). It shrinks about one size that way. It got a bit shorter (still not a mini) and less belled-out, which is what I was after.

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Odds and sods, part 5
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2010-02-12 at 10:26 PM (Pacific)

Milligan: Someone's coming up the stairs, sir!
Bloodnok: What?! Quick, burn this on the fire.
Milligan: Right. What is it?
Bloodnok: A piece of coal.

Listening to:

Mariah Carey - "Fantasy"

I like it even better than the song it sampled (Tom Tom Club's Genius of Love).

Oh when you walk by every night
Talking sweet and looking fine
I get kind of hectic inside
Oh baby I'm so into you
Darling if you only knew
All the things that flow through my mind
But it's just a sweet sweet fantasy...

j.crew boatneck painter tee

On the wardrobe front--I've been seeking a boatneck top for quite some time. The trick lies in finding one that's not overly casual.

Not really sold on the J.Crew version yet. It's unavailable in stores (rolls eyes), so naturally I checked the J.Crew Addict blogs. Mixed reviews; some complaints about fit, and about the raw edge in last year's 'Crew model. Hm. I'd prefer one with a higher, narrower neckline, like this:

boatneck tee

The sole drawback here is the limited color selection--three to be exact (light grey, deep grey and black).

The beauty of a good boatneck is that it's practical. Done right, it can function as business-casual, as well as casual-casual, and few necklaces won't work with it. Or you can skip the necklace; few earrings wouldn't pop against such an uncluttered backdrop. Looks terrific with any hairstyle, pairs equally well with skirts or pants.

I'm not in a hurry to buy one, just looking around.

cydwoq exterior

Much as I fancy myself a total screwtard with heels, I can handle small heels. I had a pair of vintage heels when I was around fifteen that I loved, and haven't been able to replace since. These are actually not too far off, even with the Cydwoq-y cutouts...it's the vibe of the heel itself, and of the long, pointy toes.

Plus, I have been look for something like a cross between a sandal and a pump, with a closed toe.

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Wardrobe meanderings part 8
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2009-11-17 at 9:54 PM (Pacific)

j crew gathered tie-front top

This totally reminds me of a shirt I had when I was twelve or thirteen. I mean the general shape, tie neckline and lovely pink color. To the point I was tempted to buy it. But, eh...how useful is this particular top? You'd have to see it in person, to determine its casualness or formality.

I don't really have much to say; I've been knackered lately. It's the worst time of year for my department--or the best, depending on how enamored you are of being, well, knackered. I'm okay with it. One trick is to take a nap when you get home, for even an hour.

sundance queen anne camisole

Love this...not sure what I'd do with it though. The lace appears to have been sewn over a cut-out area of the camisole. Argh! What you want is a solid neckline, with the lace sewn over that. Still, it's quite pretty.

jjill ice cream

And finally... It's not the clothes...it's the ice cream. (Although a part of me craves the velvet jacket, in a 1970's kind of way.)

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Wardrobe meanderings part 7
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2009-11-15 at 11:50 AM (Pacific)

red poppy

This past Veterans Day, or Armistice Day, was a paid holiday for us. I can admit it still boggles the mind, how Armistice Day became Veterans Day in the first place, but it's true...freedom is not free.

I'd fully intended to do nothing on this day off, but ended up going through the stuff that's been amassing on my shelves. I will do this periodically; I'm not sentimental. If it doesn't have a purpose, it goes. If I discover a need, it goes on my to-buy list. In fact, much as I'd envisioned this sort of...orgy of frivolous fashion conquest, touring my shelves revealed how boring and practical I really am.

j.crew tissue turtleneck in champagne

This was the last of my recently-acquired J.Crack turtlenecks. (Sorry about the "J.Crack," I can't help it, in the same way "Needless Mark-up" comes out instead of Neiman Marcus?)

"Champagne" barely resembles the image. It's more a light creamy brown, than the delicate cream I thought I'd bought. Less versatile, seemingly, but lovely nonetheless.

Why so many turtlenecks? Again with the practicality. A turtleneck is the ideal garment to wear under sweaters. (Not to mention, everyone looks good in a turtleneck.) It's easy to replace, relatively inexpensive, a cinch to care for, stores nice and flat.

silk half slip

You're gonna need one of these, if you own even one unlined skirt or dress, and wish to wear tights, or even nylons. One day of not having to unstick your skirt from your nylons, and the thing is paid for.

I'm trying this one out...hmmm...it's filament silk. It doesn't look like much but has made a world of difference. Still I'm contemplating the Mary Green one; costs more, but seems likely to wear better.

wool tights

Yes, part of me wants to replicate this entire outfit, down to the shoes. Life is short...hmmm...snaps out of it

These are wool tights. I bought some cotton/microfiber tights, but you can't beat wool for warmth. Adding in wool tights will extend the life of my cotton tights--I've been wearing the cotton ones every day since I got them, it's been cold--so next up shall be some of these.

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Wardrobe meanderings part 5
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2009-10-31 at 2:55 PM (Pacific)

J.Crack update

I bought a men's cardigan on sale at the Corte Madera J.Crew, last time I went. It's no longer on the 'Crack website unfortunately, but it's a lovely black and dark grey, herringbone-patterned, merino wool cardigan. Something like this:

black and grey cashmere cardigan

...but herringbone (am I the only one who finds the preponderance of solid colors robotic after a while?).

It was way cheaper than a women's cardigan would have been, and better. I washed it when I got home--I do that, for anything washable, to see right away how well it launders. And I detected not one fleck o' fuzz, nary a pill--as if a man would even notice? bemused

brown oxfords

I don't actually want these shoes, but they're pretty decent looking.

Keener on Cydwoq oxfords:

cydwoq oxfords
image courtesy bulo shoes

...but I'd want something in between the two. I've seen Cydwoq embossed leathers in person, and they are gorgeous, but not as versatile as plainer leather would be.

But then I haven't seen these "Recess" shoes in person; a bit hard to judge.

A mending tip

When mending a heathered item, in a place where it might show, use two threads--to match the two colors in the heather. Go over the hole once in the darker thread, then over that randomly in the lighter one.

Culled from Craigslist

Someone posted anonymously:

IMO they are adorable but be careful wearing boots over tights. I've had so many tights torn up by boots either because they are kind of ruggedly constructed inside or because the zipper snags when I cross my ankles. What I do now is tights, then cotton ankle socks then boots. Your tights will last longer.

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Wardrobe meanderings part 4
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2009-10-27 at 8:00 PM (Pacific)

tissue turtleneck
Tissue turtleneck, J.Crew

Thought I'd investigate "J.Crack," finally.

I suppose, on some level, I still thought of them as the mail-order catalogue company they once were--akin to Land's End, LL Bean and Eddie Bauer--before swapping out their wholesome WASP-y models for super-slim higher-fashion types. But the merchandise was still quite practical, from what I saw, with only a veneer of pleasant sartorial snobbery.

Take this turtleneck. Not a particularly sturdy t-neck, yet perhaps the ideal layering piece, precisely because of its thinner fabric and long skinny sleeves. It might well span the seasons better too.

The material was not Kleenex-tissue tissue, exactly; I tried on the above shade with what I thought the worst-case scenario bra (light-colored, with a ton of flowers on it), and the thing barely showed through. nods

cotton blend tights
Biella cotton blend tights at sockdreams.com

Similarly utile are tights blended with natural and synthetic fibers. Natural fibers help feet breathe, while synthetics add stretch and smoothness.

Italians make the best tights and stockings. Pro-American as I am, I've never seen anything like Italian-made legwear; it's amazing stuff.

low heeled boot
But we still make better shoes...

Okay, a tough claim, given the quality of Italian-made shoes...but I've been wearing these boots (mine are all black leather). Oh, I love them. To the point I'm wondering if it's worth getting the same model in dark brown leather.

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