I bought a white coat…

Photo by chelseachronicl

What was I thinking?

I have coveted a winter white wool coat (say that five times really fast after a cocktail) since my friend Jackie had one in high school. But back in the day, living in New England with its slushy sidewalks and black tinted snowbanks, it never seemed like a practical purchase.  Who am I kidding? It isn’t practical now, given that I’m responsible for two messy little boys and three furry (shedding) cats. But the other night, after finally hitting the “publish” button on My Night with George Clooney, I was seduced by a J. Crew 25% off sale. I deserved a reward. So, I indulged.

And it’s gorgeous.

I already have all sorts of new rules. (Like I need more rules in my life.) No more drinking coffee in the car. No sitting down on the metro. No getting within reach of a glass of red wine. I’m sure more restrictions will come to me. I just hope I don’t realize them too late. But then again, making more frequent trips to the dry cleaner is a goal on my 43 by 43 list, so perhaps being the proud owner of this coat will provide extra incentive to fulfill that task.

WTF, J. Crew?

$795.00 for a cashmere camel blazer. $895 for a sequin top that looks vaguely like the one I got on sale last November for $49. $595 for a toggle coat. (As beautiful as it looked on gp, I know toggle-coat devotees can do better.) $350 for a lace dress seems mild by comparison but DVF makes the Zarita every season and it’s both more flattering looking (based on my on-line assessment) and is slightly less expensive. $695 for a yellow sequin skirt seems especially steep and this python getup can make any woman look like a pregnant snake for a mere $475. (I thought it was a dress at first give the way it is styled with a matchy matchy blouse.) And rounding out my favorite J. Crew question marks is the $325 golden paisley pant, which looks suspiciously like pajamas. Hey, I know the floral pant is trending right now, but if you want to venture into this territory (note: I do not) I recommend starting at something in the two-digit price range that you won’t regret after the first wear.

I love J. Crew. But this is ridiculous. These examples just confound me (and they aren’t the only ones). I appreciate the idea of J. Crew Collection. Banana did it with Monogram. But at the end of the day, you are still J. Crew. And I really hope no one is paying full price for these items because I fear that (1) they are getting ripped off and (2) it will just encourage the Crew to offer more of the same.

I rely on J. Crew for staples such as pencil skirts, tee-shirts, and the only pants I wear that aren’t jeans. (Yes, I mean you, Minnie.) I’m a recent convert to their cashmere. I’ve contemplated getting my winter coat there. But at the prices they demand for their Collection, you expect to bring home an investment piece, produced by a brand known for its longevity and quality. You don’t want a $700 yellow sequin skirt that you get limited wear out of. Or maybe you do, but if I see you in public, I’m going to call you yellow sequin skirt babe and I’m going to hope you got it way on sale.

retail therapy

photo credit: http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/set?id=59305787
temporary relief from a tough day

Yesterday, I succumbed to retail therapy.

How could I help it? I had a 30-minute gap between my lunch meeting and my coffee meeting, and J. Crew just happened to sit in between the two locations that required my presence. I’d had a rough day to that point, and all the wool, cashmere and fall colors beckoned me inside, promising to relieve my distress.

I walked away with four pieces that I had had in my dream on-line shopping cart, all items that I can mix and match with my current wardrobe. The graphic skirt will pair with a gazillion shirts in my closet: denim, navy, black, patterned.  (Yes, pattered. Stay tuned.) The burgundy skirt I plan to pair with mustard, pink or brilliant blue. As the salesman pointed out, it also looks nice with the French Hen blouse.

Speaking of the French Hen blouse, I will wear it with jeans, my burgundy skirt, my flame skirt, red cords… the possibilities are endless.

And the navy cashmere v-neck sweater? It had been on my wish list for awhile, and the 20% discount on sweaters in store helped make the splurge easier. J. Crew cashmere is so soft, so luxe, and I’ve never regretted a purchase. I can wear this sweater as easily to work as to the soccer field.

But the euphoria of shopping had worn off by the time I got home. Luckily, the two awesomest (to use a Colin-ism) boys in the world awaited me. And our evening together provided the real therapy I was seeking.

I’ve been peplumed

Did I say I would never wear peplum?

Yes, it sounds like something I would say. Or write. I could not imagine that this style would do anything but make my childbearing hips look larger than they are. But then I was seduced by the trend, so I have been keeping my eyes open for a version that isn’t too ruffly.

I like this J. Crew peplum jacket because the boucle texture toughens it up. I could just as easily wear it over a denim shirt (as J. Crew styled it) as I could with my silk blue blouse with gray elephants on it (a little too politically charged to wear at this point in an election cycle). Today I chose to pair it with a sleeveless underpinning because it’s early fall and the temperatures could climb to the mid-70s today.

It’s versatile. It’s flattering. I’ve received numerous compliments on it today. And I’m happy I didn’t completely close my mind off to the idea.

Sometimes, you have to push your own envelope.

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falling for fall

photo credit: http://www.polyvore.com/come_hither_fall/set?id=58371091#stream_box
I’ve had a love affair with fall my entire life. I’m just not a summer person. Perhaps if I could, as my friend Sarah says, summer on a lake (just the use of the word “summer” as a verb connotes leisure) or if I didn’t live in a landfilled swamp, I’d feel differently. But nothing lifts my spirits like the first nights that dip into the 60s, allowing for open-window sleeping, sweaters, and my all-time favorite, riding boots.

I’m not completely convinced that fall is imminent, but am fed up with summer. Two mani-pedis ago, I abandoned the bright shades that aren’t very me but which I feel compelled to adopt in warmer months. And earlier this week, I knocked two items off my fall wish list, though I hope the purchase of said items doesn’t have the effect of extending this dreadful summer.

Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I must disclose that I was inspired to assemble my top ten list by DC Style Factory and her list earlier this week. Thanks, Rosana, for reminding me on a 92-degree day that fall might be around the corner.

And because it’s never too early to wish upon a star, my list:

1. The Bettye Muller Roxy in Bordeaux: I have lusted over this shoe since style sister Austin from SimplySoles sent me a photo of it before they had it in stock. This is one item I already bought because I panicked the other night when I noticed they only had two more pairs in stock, one in my size.

2. Western Jean Shirt in Desert Willow Wash by Madewell: I was not only inspired by Rosana to make a list, but to add a dark wash denim shirt to my wardrobe this fall. I have a summer weight, chambray one, but the darker wash version appeals to my sense of fall. Except when I stepped into the dressing room at Madewell, I liked the fit of this western version better. I would NEVER in a gazillion years have ordered this shirt sight unseen. I wasn’t even going to try it on until the saleswoman suggested it, and I’m glad she did.

3. More Minnie Pants: I fell in love with these pants a few years ago, then fell out of love when I was feeling a little heavier than I like to be. I’m usually a skeptic when it comes to any pant on me that isn’t floor length, but the Minnie has been the one exception. However, the pairs in my closet, aside from looking well-loved, are actually a little too big (thank you, Biker Barre!) so new Minnies go on the list for fall. The only debate is what color(s)?

4. Essie Nail Polish in Stylenomics: I suffer corals and fuschias in the summer because I technically live in the south, but my northern sensibilities want to wear dark nail polish all year round. While I normally default to OPI’s Lincoln Park After Dark or the Essie version, Wicked, the color I have in mind now is a dark green, and Stylenomics looks to fit the bill.

5. Opera-length Fingerless Gloves: I first coveted a pair from DVF that cost a shocking $350 more than this affordable pair. I love fingerless gloves to allow for easy access to my touch-screen devices, as well as for the fact that they won’t cause wear and tear on my manicure. I want to wear these with jeans as much as I do a fantastic dress. And at this price, it’s a no-brainer that you will soon find them in my possession.

Other items that round out my top ten wish list include (6) a new LBD, object of my affection yet to be identified; (7) more bracelets and bangles to stack on my wrists; (8) new jeans, maybe even the sexy boyfriend style Wardrobe Oxygen swears by; (9) the Marie Jo Carole Bodysuit, or at least the Avero plunge bra in raisin since I’d slightly intimidate myself in a bodysuit; and (10) a new wool coat. My old ones are on the verge of being threadbare; I needed to invest in a new one last winter. I can’t decide whether I want a reliable neutral shade or pop of color. I will try to not let indecision get the better of me this season.

There’s so much more I covet, but these essentials will work with my existing wardrobe and get me into and through the glory days of what I can only hope will be an extended fall.

sale on the sale

J. Crew did it to me again. They know when I’m weak. This long sticky summer has me beat down, and therefore I was more susceptible than usual to the additional 40% off all sale items offer even though usually by this time of year, I’m planning fall and winter purchases instead of scooping up summer deals.

But with temperatures soaring in the 100s, my favorite season seems eons away, and I’m tired of being hot. So much so that I broke a major rule of mine and bought shorts from the said sale. I hate shorts. I hate the way I look in them and after a few years of trying, I finally gave up. But I have been lured back in by the pictured versions for $21. I went with one 4-inch inseam and one 5-inch because I just wasn’t sure, and 3-inch seemed too I’m twentysomething and haven’t had babies yet.

I also had to have the orange version of the beige espadrilles I have been living in this summer, thanks to my friend Laura who initially pointed them out to me. The flat espadrille might be a little too much like Toms in practice, but I hate flip flops and need something to run to and from the pool in this summer.

I’m not usually a tunic-wearer, but have discovered them this summer as a great way to cover-up from unwanted sun rays in a manner that is easy breezy and not as stifling as hiding under a towel. Both those pictured here will work great with my fuschia bathing suit.

Of course, if my track record with J. Crew holds true, I will end up returning half of my purchases (the half that weren’t final sale, that is) though I hope that at some point, my retail luck changes. Maybe, just maybe, all six items will work. And I’m sure that once I’m totally geared for the dog days of summer, fall will surely make an appearance.

 

fashion happenings: update one

Last night, as promised, I attended the trunk show showcasing The Shirt by Rochelle Behrens. I am happy to report that I walked away with a new silk blouse. Of course, I wanted to wear said new blouse immediately, but given the high temps this week, I will probably have to save this long-sleeved beauty for a more temperate day.

If you know me, you are looking at this pattern and thinking “that is so not Chelsea.” I know, right? I don’t do floral. But I do love bold colors. And while this was not the blouse that initially called to me (that would be the navy pin dot version of the same style) once I had it on, I knew it would come home with me.

If you are still questioning my purchase, here’s how I plan to style it:

For work, with a white pencil skirt and nude pumps. (I don’t own this skirt, but I like the texture, which I think would carry from summer into warm fall days.)

For date night, with white jeans (I’m a huge fan of the Angel by AG) and an animal print flat. (I’m not sure this Loeffler Randall flat would work, but I want you to envision something other than leopard.)

For casual events, with white shorts (if I can find a pair that I don’t detest) and the J. Crew malta sandal.

It’s important even in a conservative town like Washington, DC that we push the fashion envelope when appropriate, and that is what this blouse does. It expresses personality. It will garner attention. It was just a teensy bit outside my comfort zone, which means I will wear it and be unexpected.

Best of all, together this blouse and I likely will not run into a woman in the Senate with an identical top. But even if we do, she and I will know we both bought a blouse from a DC-based designer who used to stomp the halls of Congress herself. She gets us. She gets our needs. And I hope she continues to make her blouses for years to come.