"Secret skimping is out, like false bosoms." - Marjorie Hillis, Orchids on Your Budget, 1937.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Weekend Wear

This is the second in a series of HG ("Holy Grail" posts). To see the first, click here.

My HG of weekend wear is Lands End. I like my weekend clothes to be comfortable, slightly less refined than work wear, cheap, and able to withstand frequent washing. Enter the regular original shaped (having challenges naming your fits, much?) 1x1 rib top. Crew neck, v-neck, short sleeved, long sleeved -- I have them all in many colors.

And when I'm feeling sporty, the pima polo:

It's less bag-like in person. Last year it had a little strip of polka-dotted grosgrain ribbon around the interior of the collar, but not this year. What the hell, LE?

Both of these styles have held up great for the past year, despite frequent beatings. They're fitted enough so that it's obvious I'm a woman, but not so fitted as to give away the texture of my bra.

For fun summer polos (...as opposed to serious?), my favorite is Lilly Pulitzer.

For pants, I like Land's End the cords in winter. I'm also a huge fan of the 7" old-lady shorts for summer. Last year they had some with 4 buttons down each side -- an embellishment that deludes me into thinking they look age-appropriate on a 26 year old. The higher rise makes your shirts lay flatter across the front AND prevents them from sagging. And in case you were worried about looking even a little sexy, don't worry, these have the added benefit of a little strip of elastic in back to ensure maximum Mom Jean effect.

But seriously, I freaking love those shorts. Just make sure your shirt is long enough to cover half of your butt, and you're golden.

Shoes. I'm sort of crazy about shoes. Not that I love them, just that I have incredibly high expectations, and that leads me to being UBER selective in what I'll even consider wearing. Since my main mode of transportation is my feet, I can't deal with anything remotely irritating or painful. L.L. Bean's Camden Driving Mocs are tight like a glove out of the box, but stretch to your foot within a couple hours.
They don't have the best shelf-life, but to be fair, I do wear them everywhere. I also like Etienne Aigner loafers, but they haven't proven themselves just yet for long-distance walking. In the winter I wear my Sudini boots mentioned in my work wear post.

Next up, handbags.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It's a new year, and...

I've continued to live off the wagon.

Yes, it's simultaneously delicious and painful to dig into my hard-earned cash to pay for my ... garbage habit. But as I sit here browsing Talbots.com, free-shipping coupon in (e-)hand, I've realized I've learned enough about value as it relates to ladies' goods to share some of my hard-bought knowledge.

What follows is the first in a series of HG (holy grail) posts. Sure, my HGs will only apply to a small group of sensibly-dressed, sturdy women, 25-45, but I worked hard to find my HGs, so I intend to share.

Before we get started, I should mention that my modus operandi is to search relentlessly for THE PERFECT THING, and then buy 21 of that thing and only that thing. The thing in question then comprises my entire collection of that type of thing. So I'm sort of an expert. Make sense?

First up, we have WORK WEAR:

As I alluded to above, Talbots really won me over last year. It's not your mother's Talbots anymore, but it's not your daughter's either. Talbots is what happened when J.Crew got her period. It's like if J.Crew had a baby -- as in, if J.Crew got knocked up and had to hold down two jobs to pay for organic baby food and yarn to knit outfits for her cockapoo -- you get the picture: Talbots is J.Crew grown up.

...Anyway, my work HGs include various incarnations of the pima tee -- long-sleeve, short-sleeve, balletneck, or turtleneck -- which are slim, but not tight, and come in 5,000 colors. Though Talbots is trying, J.Crew still wins for the most forward-thinking color palette (if I can use that term to describe color). Talbots wins for quality and cut, though.

On the bottom half, my HG is a pair of heritage-fit twill pants. The heritage cut is supposed to be the "granny" cut, but I find it to be the most modern. Again, they're slim, but not tight, and the higher cut is very flattering (it's important to note that they don't have the dreaded saddlebag/jodhpurs void on the sides). I've given the lower, signature-fit a chance, but they don't they don't hold a candle to the heritage-fit. Can any woman honestly say low-cut pants are more flattering? Unless you're slimmest at the hips (...eh?), I think not.

A variation of this outfit would involve a Charming cardigan set, by far my HG of cardigan sets. The Charming cardigan is basically Talbots' answer to the J.Crew Jackie cardigan. The Talbots version is more flattering and feminine, with a slightly lower cut and a teensy bit more length.

And if I need to dress it up, I'll throw on a Grace-fit jacket (I have a few), and voila, I'm only slightly under-dressed.

Simple, yes. Boring, maybe. But I'd rather put on my "uniform" than stand shivering in the nude, reinventing the wheel.

(And Talbots, if you mess with my formula, I will crush you.)

My HG footwear is similarly easy: Sudini Ashland or Storm shooties. I can't figure out the difference between the Ashland and the Storm, but I own both in various colors: chocolate leather, chocolate suede, black suede, and another chocolate leather as a backup. They're perfect. I love the aesthetic: classic almond toe, small buckle, and with a 1 3/4" heel, I can walk miles in them. I can't generally wear heels -- they hurt, and they usually make me look like a lumbering gorilla -- but these work. The black leather still eludes me. It's my white whale.

Next post, WEEKEND WEAR.

(stay-tuned, and by all means, comment with your work favorites.)