Review: Free People Hit The Slopes Fleece Jacket

The resurgence of fleece has tracked the rise of athleisure. The ubiquitous polyester fabric now finds itself in both innerwear (see: fleece-lined warming gear) and outerwear (the beloved teddy bear coat).

This fall, I have been loving cropped fleece jackets designed with multiple zippered pockets and in neon colorways. The pockets alone are enough of a selling point for me, but the style is also forgiving on a shorter frame and showcases a longer leg-line.

One of my favorite fleece purchases is the (super cozy) Free People Hit The Slopes Fleece Jacket pictured here, which is lightweight but warm. When I am wearing this jacket, I rarely feel the need to carry a bag because of its three zippered(!!) pockets, especially when I am just biking around my neighborhood.

The style is cropped but loose-fitting, so your normal size should allow for two or three midweight base layers. The jacket in size XS measures 22″ in length, with 28.5″-long sleeves.

This little jacket, with its stand collar and elastic cuffs, is incredibly wearable and effortlessly chic for the weekend: On colder days, I just throw it over a base layer of HEATTECH t-shirts and leggings (usually with the snap closures undone). The shorter length of the jacket also pairs well with (fleece-lined) sweatpants.

You can buy the Free People Hit The Slopes Fleece Jacket at Free People, Nordstrom, Revolve Clothing, Macy’s, South Moon Under, Amazon, Zappos, and Shopbop.

Mystery Blue

One of the few perks (if not the only perk) of having been the same size since ~13 is that the participation t-shirts and embroidered sweatpants that I amassed from school/sports in my child- and young adult-hoods still fit. So it wasn’t until a few years ago that I finally needed to buy activewear (I am often surprised by how enduring a simple cotton t-shirt from back in the day is). And it’s been fun, with athleisure becoming a dominant trend in fashion and having so many options to choose from.

Unlike those who live in sporty chic looks, my athleisure pieces are primarily for (outdoor) exercise, and what’s important to me are zippered pockets. Lots and lots of them. Not out of any real necessity, but because I find it convenient to have places to safely stash my phone, earbuds, tissues/wipes, keys, and a card or two (if I could hear myself over the music blaring in my ear, I probably sound like a shaken piggy bank when I am running).

As zippered pockets are my weakness, I have been slowly buying everything adidas by Stella McCartney “activewear jersey” (i.e., recycled polyester). I like the mesh panels, slim fit (size up if you don’t have a well-defined waistline), and (mostly) discreet branding. You can mix and match the pieces easily, which is how I justified my purchases.

This was the only clear shot that I got of the back of the legging: wanted to show the zip back pocket, which is small but good for keys, a card, or extra tissues.

If you are in the market for new workout clothes, here are some of my favorites:

Best Week

There is a week in spring, just before the start of allergy season, that is absolutely magical. It usually follows a cold and rainy spell; then overnight, the clouds disperse and the cherry blossoms bloom. And the world looks like it’s been staged for a Wes Anderson film.

There is a similarly perfect week (or two) at the precipice of fall, after the heat breaks but before the wind chills, that is ideal for outdoor runs. With some cloud cover, the sun is less punishing, and the air is crisp but not piercing. That relentless swarm of bugs, which have been following you all summer, is nowhere to be found. This is my favorite time of year.

As I don’t blog much about activewear, I wanted to take this opportunity to share my favorite running jacket: the Adidas Outdoor Terrex Swift Stockhorn Fleece Jacket (also here), which I own in five colorways. It’s got three (count ’em) zippered pockets, which is a godsend for a disorganized person like me: I’ve got my phone in one pocket, keys in another, and tissues in the remaining pocket. I know where everything is and, more importantly, know that they are secured.

And the material is durable but has stretch, with a body-hugging fit (for activewear); if you are in between sizes, order the next size up. For those around my size, the jacket in size XS fits me well, with enough room for extra layers when temperatures drop in late fall/early winter, but not so much room that it looks bulky. While it is too substantial for the summer, I still wear it for the UV protection (up to 50 SPF) and the hood.

For anyone in the market for new sneakers, I just noticed a bunch of Nike sneakers on further sale at Nordstrom Rack; a few styles that caught my eye:

I ordered the Nike Tanjun Sneakers and will review them at some point.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Weekly Link Roundup

 I am not someone who enjoys wishing ill on others, but I hope Mitch McConnell gets “frequent mandatory updates on his pc … that require immediate restarts … with no document recovery.” Blocking the confirmation of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court will be the career-defining feat of McConnell’s tenure as Senate Majority Leader, a GOP victory made even clearer as “Trump’s Travel Ban Is Upheld by Supreme Court.”

 Let us not forget that the Declaration of Independence specifically criticized George III for endeavoring “to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither.” How ironic that the current administration continues to dehumanize immigrants given that almost all Americans (save for some five million) are immigrants or descendants of immigrants.

 I know we all carry the weight of the 24/7 news cycle with us so I normally avoid discussing politics on this blog, but I do want to encourage you to consider making a donation to one of these organizations (list compiled by the New York Times) that provide services to refugees.

 This Gizmodo story titled, “I’m Starting to Have Serious Doubts About Amazon Prime,” is very clickbaity in that the author doesn’t reveal anything new (or nefarious) about Amazon Prime, but rather shares the story of how he is unable to resist buying everything he needs (and doesn’t need) from Amazon. I don’t fault him, though, because I too struggle to rein in my reckless Amazon habit, but do find the headline misleading.

 What the Gizmodo article linked above should have been about is Amazon’s aggressive push on the private-label front, which the New York Times covered in “How Amazon Steers Shoppers to Its Own Products.” While Amazon isn’t the only retailer investing heavily in private labels, it is the only retailer with enough market influence to raise concerns about impartiality. I want to continue to think of Amazon as a marketplace, not a manufacturer or a possible vertical monopolist, but it may not be long before Amazon grows large enough to start destroying brands (after it ate B&M).

 I used to consider myself a fiscal conservative, because of its basic tenets like free trade and deregulation, but reading about the experience of Amazon Flex workers (or really any account of someone working in the gig economy) makes me question the economic truths that I held to be self-evident.

 The Lioness Palermo Blazer that I own in two colorways is now restocked in many sizes and colors at Shopbop (an Amazon subsidiary. sigh). It’s even now available in “blush” which I am somewhat interested in. The material, as I mentioned in a previous post, is mediocre and will probably pill after a season or two, but the price is reasonable so you should think of it as a fast fashion item, not made to endure years of wear.

 This field piece–from Samantha Bee’s late-night show–about the Irish Abortion Referendum (video link) is compelling, and a hopeful reminder that elections and referendums matter.

 For anyone who shops the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (early access starts on 07/12 and public access starts on 07/20) enthusiastically, the Anniversary Sale catalog has just been made available online.

 I have been following the (changing) scientific discourse on the management/treatment of pain with interest, which is why I found this New Yorker piece, “The Neuroscience of Pain,” so engaging; it reports on experimental methods–pioneered by Irene Tracey (who has the forbidding nickname “the Queen of Pain”)–that try to more clearly “compare and quantify the dimensions of” pain.

When I find my standard carry-on to be insufficient in size, I turn to the more capacious Osprey Meridian 60L/22 Wheeled Luggage, which is now on sale at Amazon (I can’t escape it and I give up) for ~$224.18 (Amazon prices fluctuate, so who knows what price you will see when this post goes live). This backpack has a lot going on, with its detachable daypack, wheels and handles for rolling, various zippered pockets and compartments, and shoulder straps that can be tucked away when unused. If versatility is attractive to you, you will probably like this backpack. The only feature that I find concerning is its size–at 22″ x 14″ x 9″ (excluding the dayback), this bag is on the cusp of being too tall to be a carry-on. Osprey hewed a little too close to the carry-on allowance size established by the IATA on this, which means that some budget airlines may require that this bag be checked at boarding. Also noteworthy: it’s about 8-1/2″ pounds empty, so not exactly ideal for carrying around on your shoulders when you can help it (but thank goodness for the wheesl!)

If you enjoy medical dramas like House M.D., you may find the medical mysteries chronicled in “Diagnosis,” a new series created by the New York Times and Netflix, of interest. And if you are a health professional, you may also give answers (that might lead to a treatment plan) to someone suffering from a mysterious mix of symptoms.

The Ann Taylor Textured Fringe Sweater Jacket seen above is now on sale, and is an extra 40% off (discount will automatically apply at checkout) online. This little jacket goes perfectly with summer dresses and I am surprised that sizes are still fairly complete online. I plan to feature it again in a post next week but want to share that it’s now on sale. Also on sale is my entire outfit from this post.

 I accept that what draws my attention when scrolling through a newsfeed is content that affirms my lifestyle. One of my (very) few desirable hobbies is running–which, for the record, I can’t even do properly as I have a history of overexerting and then injuring myself–so when I see an article that seems to link running with positive outcomes, I click on it without hesitation. The Guardian recently ran a story about how running “can return focus, vanquish stress, and improve mood” and is “a form of moving mindfulness meditation.” The report doesn’t unearth any previously unknown upsides to running, but cites a few recent studies and tries to draw a conclusion from those studies’ findings and already known benefits of running. If you are also a runner and need your bias confirmed, look no further.

 Earlier this month I linked the story of “How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People” in a WLR, and sighed in astonishment of our collective credulity. Then I read this WaPo story about a conman who “convinced people he was a rich ‘Saudi prince.’ [when] He was really a poor street kid from Bogota” and have started to question all of the institutions in which I used to trust implicitly.

 The Silk Bow Barrette, which I now own in every color, has just been restocked online in some attractive colors, including the “Cherry Red” and pink, both of which sold out online some time ago. The Free People sale section, in general, is worth a browse right now. My picks: Frilla One-Piece Swimsuit (ordered, but this may be a mistake), Marea Tiered Maxi DressKiss Kiss TopAnywhere Midi DressPalm Springs One-Piece SwimsuitSunchaser Lace-Up One-Piece SwimsuitDolly TeeSunny Meadow BodysuitCosmic Onesie, Picture Perfect TopGirl So Pretty BodysuitEverly Mini Dress, Daydream Bodycon Slip, and Margaret Midi Dress.

 Having the company of cheerful shows like Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! when I am vacuuming or doing laundry makes housework, which may be my least favorite responsibility, more tolerable. In particular, the June 16th episode, which featured Louie Anderson, is just so delightful; I hope it entertains you as much as it did me.

Anyone who has ever attended a meeting in which you can barely see the person sitting on the other end of the conference table (nevermind meetings so crowded that most of the participants are standing) knows that productive meetings rarely involve a large group of people. This HBR piece, “The Most Productive Meetings Have Fewer Than 8 People,” caps that number at eight, and provides some guidance on how managers ought to conduct meetings.

Currently stalking this Reformation Rou Midi Fit & Flare Dress and the BP. Linen Blend Tie Front Crop Jumpsuit as both sold out in my size during my indecision. If you’ve tried either, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Have a great week, everyone!

Review: Saint Laurent Sac De Jour Leather Tote

In 2013, shortly after Hedi Slimane joined Saint Laurent as creative director and dropped Yves from its name, the Saint Laurent Paris Sac de Jour was born. In the four years since, this “day bag” has been instrumental in the impressive turnaround of the brand, which tripled its revenue between 2011 and 2016.

I’ve contemplated buying the SDJ since late 2013, but could never decide on a color. I was also wary of the various changes that Slimane made to the design between seasons. I finally pulled the trigger last year.

OVERVIEW You almost can’t help but draw comparisons between the Sac de Jour (especially the first edition) and the Hermès Birkin: their similarities start at their boxy though slightly trapezoidal shapes, through the shared clochettes, to the compression straps. If you find the Birkin a little overwrought, the SDJ might be perfect for you; it is fairly minimalistic.

QUALITY/CONSTRUCTION The first-generation SDJ was a substantial bag: it was lined in suede, and was very heavy (the “large” was close to five pounds empty). Over the years, though, more sizes were introduced (and the large was phased out), a shoulder strap was added, and the suede lining was (first replaced with fabric and then) removed altogether, making it a considerably lighter bag. It’s (to me) a more functional bag than it was, and the bag remains well-made (even stitching, perfect symmetry, and sturdy hardware) and the material used (calfskin) is still top-tier.

The grained leather version I own is more structured than the original version (which was constructed out of smooth leather and will lose its shape over time).

DETAIL The bag, with an open top design, has two main compartments separated by a zippered central compartment. There are no slip or zippered pockets built in. The key, which opens the padlock, snaps into the bag’s interior back wall. The handheld straps have a 4″ drop, and the removable shoulder strap has a 19″ drop. The bag is designed with protective metal feet, and is available with a number of hardware colors. The concertina sides can be expanded to allow more room (though not much).

CAPACITY The “small” SDJ shown here measures 12.5″ wide, 10″ tall, and 6.5″ deep. It’s the most versatile of the four sizes offered (imo), and can take you from desk to dinner. It won’t fit most laptops (or letter-sized documents), but will accommodate a small tablet. The bag has enough room for essentials and a few personal items (like a second pair of sunglasses, a full-size hair brush, or a portable high-capacity power bank).

The composite below shows all four sizes that the SDJ is available in: the largest is the “medium,” which is 14.5″ wide, 11″ tall, and 7″ deep, and retails for $3490; the “small” seen in my photos is the second largest size and retails for $2890; followed by the “baby” which is 10″ wide, 8″ tall, and 5″ deep, and retails for $2650; the smallest is the “nano,” which is 8.5″ wide, 7″ tall, and 4.25″ deep, with a retail price of $1990.

Saint Laurent Sac De Jour: Medium || Small || Baby || Nano

PRICE The SDJ is priced to compete against bags made by Prada, Valentino, and Fendi, so its 2K-4K price range appears reasonable. But unlike bags in Chanel or Hermès’s permanent collection, the SDJ depreciates in value (rather dramatically) over its service life, so it’s not an “investment-grade” bag (I know… it’s illogical for a casual collector to think of bags as investments). And there is no need to spend full retail on this bag: take advantage of gift card events (Saks and Neiman Marcus run them frequently); while Saint Laurent is often excluded from promotions, in recent years they occasionally participate in storewide events. “Premier” designers tend to stay away from dollar off promotions, but are less turned off by gift card events.

“Regular” Small Sac De Jour // “Souple” Small Sac De Jour

I am a fan of how structured the SDJ is, but for spring this year, Saint Laurent updated the SDJ and added a “souple” (or flexible) version (some retailers call it “soft” SDJ), which has more hardware (most notably the studs on the tabs) and is therefore a little edgier. This version also comes with an adjustable shoulder strap, which some might find appealing.

You can buy the Sac De Jour at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Net-a-Porter, and Barneys New York.

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