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

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.)


Well Heeled Blog said...

You are back! I hope you are here to stay. :) I like Talbots but I can never find things small enough for me. For that reason, I usually stick with Banana Republic, Gap, or J.Crew, their petite sizing fits me and is relatively within my budget (if it's on sale, lol).

My favorite work uniform = blazer / sweater jacket + pencil skirt + heels. I have a super-long strand of crystal and pearls and I just loop it 3 times. Voila, instant class (or so I'd like to think).

me in millions said...

I LOLed at your description of Talbots! Their stuff is getting quite cute, but it's still a bit on the pricey side.

ekingout said...

I'm sort of a J.Crew addict because of the colors. Talbots IS expensive -- you really have to wait for those red hanger sales.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! I have zero fashion sense so I will be checking these out. I often tell my husband I wish they had low end fashion stylists. I want to just give someone money and have them find me clothes that fit and look decent but aren't crazy expensive!