Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My October Obsession Part 2 - A Black Fall Jacket

When I first wrote about this obsession a few weeks ago, I still hadn't made a jacket decision. I had 4 or 5 jackets to return to a variety of stores and nothing was staying.  Until we attended that Saks fashion show.  And I ran into personal shopper Claudine.  Who put me in a room and made me try on this.
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I realize this doesn't really fit ANY of my bullet's wool (thought I didn't want wool) and it's not belted (thought I wanted a belt).  But it is light-weight and it's long enough to cover most of my longer sweaters.  The leather sleeves are edgy, and it looks great over everything from jeans to dressier bottoms.  And it's super cool.  I gave in.  And I love it. ~ JH

Monday, October 27, 2014

Reunited and it feels so good...

...unless you are my wallet, in which case, you took a beating.  

As I was returning more black coats to Bloomingdales 2 weeks ago, I was distracted by a blonde woman.  I caught her out of the corner of my eye.  I recognized her.  Was it?  Could it be the devil herself?  Yes, it was.  It was Loren Munro, our original stylist and co-star of our series on 'Demystifying Personal Shopping - Part 1'.  I squealed with delight!  Loren Munro Lush (married since we last posted about her) was back in town and had recently started working at Bloomingdales.  Amen.  After a quick text to Lisa, I immediately made a shopping appointment with Loren for the next week.

That appointment was last Thursday.  I know, you are wondering, does Jen REALLY NEED MORE CLOTHING.  Honestly, no.  Don't tell my husband I said that.  But it is LOREN after all and I couldn't wait to see what she would pull together for me.

I asked Loren to pull some out-to-dinner and holiday looks for me.  And when I arrived, a large, fully-stocked dressing room awaited me.  Lots of goodies.  
And as in the past with Loren, the first outfit was a home run.  An out-to-dinner look, date or girls-night-out.  Or a hostess outfit.  Blue silk top by Reiss over high-rise, skinny AG Farrah jeans with Prada pointy toe black patent pumps.  Oh, and throw on that Vince grey wool coat too.  Oh, and tuck this navy clutch by Whistles under your arm.
Loren is a DRUG DEALER when it comes to clothing and I'm her addict.  Honestly, I would never be able to pull this all together for myself, out of 4 separate departments.  Would I really pick up that clutch by itself and say 'I have to have this'?  No.  But with the entire outfit, it just works.  That's the beauty of personal shopping; find someone with great style who knows all the merchandise in the store.  That person can pull it all together.

For holiday, Loren pulled several cute and sparkly looks.  This tunic by All Saints is staying.  Over leather leggings (which I already own, and no, we are not too old to wear them) and the same Prada pumps, I'm ready for December.  
This is a look that I'm still trying to get used to, but that's what shoppers do to you; they pull you out of your comfort zone.  This sequin top by Whistles is insanely cute and has a silk back.   Not sure if I can personally pull it off, but I love how edgy and different it is.  Wear over those skinny jeans for a fun night out, or cigarette-leg black pants for a more 'grown-up' look.
Ah, it was a good day.  Too good.  I might have to slow down my shopping, but just a little. ~ JH

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

W2WW is 3!

It's official!  As of October 18th, What 2 Wear When... is 3 years old!  
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We can't believe it.  While we've had prolific years (in 2012 we wrote 117 posts!) and disheartening shopping seasons (where on earth was 2013 holiday attire?!), we have always enjoyed writing, responding to reader questions, and, of course, researching the retail world's latest offerings.

To commemorate our birthday milestone, we're launching a What 2 Wear When... Facebook page.  Like us there to continue to receive our latest musings!  As always, thank you for tuning in! ~ LB & JH

Monday, October 20, 2014

What we took away from the Saks "Key to the Cure" fashion show.

Jen and I were off to Saks this past Thursday morning for a "Key to the Cure," a fashion show and shopping event sponsored by Friends of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to support the fight against women's cancers.  Shopping is even more enjoyable and when some of our dollars go to a good cause, all the better!

There were some very fun and very wearable looks for fall/winter 2014.  And you don't have to spend gobs and gobs of money to recreate these looks.  Here are the key themes to work into your wardrobe this season, along with some Cheap and Cheerful alternatives:

Leather in all silhouettes - Yes, this is a trend that is not going away.  If you don't already own something in leather, march yourself out and find something!  You won't regret it.  There are lots of affordable options out there and lots of ways to wear it.  The white shirt underneath this dress by The Row takes this to a daytime look.  Wear it without and you're good for a night on the town.  Note the touch of leopard in the belt and bag.  Which brings us to the next trend....Leopard - high quality, small quantity.  Again, animal prints are still trending and a very wearable neutral.  
Your Cheap and Cheerful alternative?...Tahari faux leather dress.  On sale for $84!
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'Fit and Flair' - as coined by Manager Gretchen Pace,  a fitted dress with a bit of flair can hide the belly and be super comfy.  Yes, it's a little short but this model was close to 6' don't be put off as the dress will work for us mortals.
Cheap and cheerful...a striking blue knit dress from Trina Turk.  Love it!
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Outerwear - Don't forget about outerwear.  It's what most people see before they see your outfit, especially here in New England where we are full into light coat season.  Think a fun color, like pink or bright red, to add pop to your outfit.  
Cheap and Cheerful....Calvin Klein Notch collar coat available at  Look at how it dresses down with a tee shirt and jeans.
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Camel - Love the camel coats in the show.  Such a timeless look.  This one is from MaxMara.   We all own lots of black....a drapey, loose coat over a structured column of black, perhaps belted,  is a classic that will take you through the season. 
Cheap and Cheerful...a dark camel dust coat.
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Slouchy pants - It's time to get on the slouchy pants bandwagon.  We've seen them for over a year now - I own 2 pairs myself - and women love the comfortable + chic combo.  These are gorgeous Lanvin ones paired with a J Brand camisole and jacket with Giuseppi Zanotti heels.  You don't have to wear heels - I wear mine with flats and you can too.
Cheap and Cheerful...J.Crew has a two styles I like.  Here's one.
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Colored Exotics - remember Jen's new gray lizard boots?  Well this look was all over the runway clutches, shoes and more.  Love the burgundy color of this lovely Nancy Gonzales clutch.
Cheap and Cheerful..Alexander Wang croc clutch in red.  (Cheap as compared to the Nancy Gonzales one.)
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Classic coat - a la Chanel.  Awesome.  Throw it over leggings, wear it as a dress, I love this pieces for it's versatility.  There is not Cheap and Cheerful for this coat. Just be inspired.

This was my favorite look of the show.  Stella McCartney Dress and eternally chic split front sweater from The Row. Effortless.  Comfortable. So so fabulous.  Replicate this look with a neutral shift dress, long swingy cardigan, black sheet tights and your favorite heeled boot.  Another trend to note is the pointed toe bootie. Points are back and are very elongating to the leg.  

And there you have it!  Look into your closet with new eyes, find the holes and get a few key pieces to freshen up your look this fall. ~ LB
Unless noted, all images from Lisa Bida.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My October Obsession - A Black Fall Jacket

As soon as the weather turned cool, I found myself looking for a piece of outerwear that I DON'T HAVE.  Shocking.  And I'm always shocked this time of year that I don't have a mid-weight jacket.  But it's really not as simple as "I want a mid-weight jacket".  It never is.  Here's what I would like:
  • A jacket in a heavier cotton or cotton-like material, not wool, in black.
  • It has to be long enough to cover the ends of some of my longer sweaters and have enough material in the body to go over these same sweaters while allowing me to still move my shoulders and arms.
  • I prefer a belted jacket. 
  • Don't really want a hood on it.  I'm ok if the hood is removable.
Is it a trench?  Is it an anorak?  I have a J.Crew trench coat that I LOVE, but at this time of year, it's really too light colored and 'springy'.  See?
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And I know what you are thinking - you are thinking 'Houston, just belly up and buy a Burberry!'  Oh, if it was only that simple.  That statement alone takes me back...

About 7 years ago, Lisa and I were shopping in New York City.  It was either fall or spring (chill in the air), and it was pouring rain.  I didn't have the ideal outerwear, so I made poor Lisa march to the Burberry flagship, determined to come home with one.  I tried on EVERYTHING but nothing fit right.  Problem?  The shoulders are too narrow on me.  I would have to buy a larger jacket to fit my shoulders and have the body completely tailored and remade.  At that price point, I'm not sure it's a path I want to go down. 

Anyway, I have started the pilgrimage yet again.  I am obsessed and determined to find something that fits without major reconstruction!  Where has that left me?  Here.  In my dining room.  With piles of black jackets from late night, online shopping.
Image from Jennifer Houston.
I've tried the Burberry quilted (too small or too big, depending on the size).
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I've tried to get away from the dreaded it's-Burberry-and-it-doesn't-fit, and tried this Elie Tahari jacket.  Which I loved but fit weird again.  Shoulders!
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There are a few others in the mix too.  I will continue my quest - hopefully there will be a 'My October Obsession Part 2' post, and I'll happily be showcasing my new jacket.  But until then, the hunt continues. ~ JH

Monday, September 29, 2014

An Experiment with Stitch Fix, an Online Styling Company

Last spring, a reader had asked us to look into online styling companies, specifically, Stitch Fix, see how it worked, and maybe 'experience' it and write a post.  I told her that I would in the fall.  
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Well, it's fall, so here I go. About a month ago, I took the "scary" step of signing up for a 'delivery' and completed an online 'Style Profile'.  Here's how this online styling company works:
  • You fill out an online style questionnaire called your 'Style Profile'.  They asked a TON of questions - sizing, style, brand, pricing, item preferences.  For example, I said that I wasn't interested in them sending dresses, but tops, pants, and accessories were ok. And I wasn't into bohemian style.  And, and, and.  And I included a link to one of my my Pinterest pages for their review.
  • You then schedule a delivery (monthly, every other month) - mine was for September 25.  5 items are sent and the client has 3 days to decide what, if anything, to keep; everything else must be sent back in an enclosed, pre-paid, US Postal Service bag.  You are charged a $20 style fee, which is applied to anything you keep.
Sound good?  I have to be honest, I kind of forgot about signing up until this email arrived:
Egad!  It was on it's way.  So on September 25th, this is what I found at my door.
It's a tinier box that I would have expected, especially since it contained 5 items.  Let's look inside.  I was happy to see the 'rules' printed on the box - I needed to refresh my memory!
There was a packet of information on why the items were picked, and how to style them.  I loved the information and the personalization.

I loved the styling cards, detailing how to wear each piece.
And then, I unwrapped the items.  The Alec Split Neck Mixed Material blouse was fun and different (like), but the fit wasn't great and I didn't love the material (boo).
The Watercolor Zip blouse was WAY too young for me, and the Meg Chiffon trim silk blouse was a wrinkled mess.  Neither were going to stay.
The Bar Necklace was fine, but the chain was about 14" long, and looked weird on my neck.
But, the Liverpool Pull-on Skinny Ponte Pants were pretty fabulous.  The material was great, they fit well, and they really 'sucked you in', if you know what I mean (wink).  They are staying!  Interestingly, the Liverpool Jeans Company (maker of the ponte pants) is carried online at Amazon, Dillards, Lord and Taylor, and Nordstrom.  In stores, apparently Bloomingdales carries the line along with a host of smaller boutiques (in the Boston area that is).  This pair has a tag that claims they were designed exclusively for Stitch Fix.
After assessing everything, I went online to say what I was keeping, and what I wasn't.
The ponte pants were $98, from which the $20 styling fee was taken, resulting in a final charge of $78.  Not bad.   The other 4 items are snug in the return envelope and will head back to Stitch Fix tomorrow.  (If I were to keep all 5 items, I would have received a 25% of discount on the entire 'fix'.)

Overall, it's a very interesting experience.  I went back to my Style Profile after 'checking out' online and tweaked my preferences to better fit my style personality.  My next 'fix' is scheduled for November 20th.  I'm curious to see how my adjustments to the Style Profile will play out as well as how what I kept versus what I returned will adjust the algorithm of what was sent to me.  Stay tuned. ~ JH
Unless noted, all images from Jennifer Houston.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

W2WW Around Town, News Flash, AND Cheap & Cheerful - Lou & Grey at Natick Mall

We really couldn't pick a category for this one so you KNOW our find has got to be GOOD.  And it is!  Lisa and I, both separately, wandered into a new store in the Natick Mall, Lou & Grey.  Located next to Ann Taylor and across from Madewell, it looked cool.  Tons of neutral colors (which TOTALLY appeals to me!).
Image from Jennifer Houston.
After wandering around and making a pile for the dressing room, I began to talk to the store manager.  She told me that Lou & Grey is an Ann Taylor company (in fact, their e-commerce site is a tab within the Ann Taylor Loft site), but with it's own designer. The Natick store was the second 'brick and mortar' store (first in Westport, CT) in the country.  

Humm, new and different?!?! Everything Lisa and I LOVE.  According to their website, "This is a clothing label born out of instinct.  We noticed women no longer want to choose between style and comfort, work or weekend wear - so we created an edited line of easy, texture-rich essentials for every day."

BINGO.  And guess what's even better?!  The price point!  The most expensive item I can find online is a jacket for $89.50.  I tried on a couple of things and ended up with 2 tops.  The first top is a doubleface, longsleeve t-shirt.  $39.50.  Will look great in early fall with white jeans.  
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The other top is a grey, cotton sweater (not found online) that I'm wearing right now, as I type this.  Great weight for this time of year, soft, with a split hem. $59.50.  With my white jeans, brogues, and a scarf - I'm updated and ready to go.

Lisa picked up a pair of pants which she claims to LOVE. These twill drawstring pants are the epitome of style and comfort.  And $59.50.
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While paying for my purchases, I chatted a bit more with the manager.  Not only do they have clothing, but have small home goods (think hostess gifts) and jewelry by American designers.  I loved the trays of jewelry laying around and the candles, books, and pillows mixed in with the clothing.
Images from Jennifer Houston.
For a little more information on the company, you can check out this Boston Globe article from September 17th.  Lisa and I highly recommend that you check out this store; it's going to become a go-to for us. ~ JH