Bow Skirt and Khaki Trench (+ Kate Spade New York Abstract Signature Bow Medium Harmony Tote Review)

My race against time continues (Can anyone believe it’s already December? this year passed in a blink).


What will I miss most about my fall wardrobe? The trench coats, of course! With a cable cardigan layered under the trench, this outfit kept me toasty (enough) to wander around town on a mid-50’s day. Bare legs be damned.

 Zara Girl Crochet Dress |  J. Crew Collection Icon Trench (last worn here) | Kate Spade Jolie Skirt (last worn here) | Ann Taylor Oval Pearlized Necklace | MICHAEL by Michael Kors Selma Large Satchel (buy here + here)| Miu Miu Taupe Pumps (similar)

I am currently wrestling with the decision to keep trench coats on the hanger and
use the next few months to learn how to layer them adequately for New
England winters. Or maybe that’s just unnecessary. We’ll see
how far my adventurous spirit (a.k.a. insanity) will take this.



(outfit obviously from slightly warmer days. When will the NE see mild weather again?)



And now a review of the Kate Spade New York Abstract Signature Bow Medium Harmony Tote.

I did my best (I tried! really, I did) to resist this tote but I have been so beguiled by Kate Spade’s signature abstract bow print that I
now own three things in this one easily identifiable print.



I have few kind words to say about the bag aside from the beautiful exterior print. The only compliment I can manage is “it’s so pretty! look at the print…BOWS!” Take away the print and it’s suddenly ordinary.


This bag and similar styles (review forthcoming) will mesh with and serve best those who wear few prints and dress in neutrals.


It has its share of shortcomings but the print is the veneer that conceals all imperfections.

Dock one point for no top zippers. You do have the option of closing the gap between the walls with a centrally located top lobster claw closure, whose usefulness I seriously question.


There is one pocket on either wall of the interior but there is no other compartmentalization built into the bag. If your organizational tendency is guided by the law of entropy, it’d be wise to invest in a handbag organizer ($, $$, $$$).

The bag measures 16″ wide at the top, 15.5″ tall, and about 7″ deep and weighs a little under two pounds.


The flat base allows the bag to stand on its own, even empty, and the bag is constructed out of grainy vinyl (with patent leather trim) which seems to hold its shape, at least initially (will update if I discover issues with use). I would be careful not to crush the bag and risk permanently changing its shape. 

The inside is only partially lined.

Buy the Kate Spade Abstract Signature Bow Medium Harmony Tote at Amazon, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, and Zappos.

This bag can be found in a check pattern, leopard print, solid red, solid pink, solid purple, solid black, gray print with racer stripes, neon yellow, robin egg blue, and solid gray.


Also available in a smaller size, which measures 10″x12″x6″ (mine is a medium, I don’t think a larger size is currently available).

Tweed Jacket and Coated Jeans

This fall I am feeling…edgy. I’ve been weirdly drawn to coated denim, leather pieces, slouchy knits, and motorcycle jackets.


The irony is that (for those of you who don’t know me in real life) I am the antithesis of a badass, which makes my recent clothing choices a constant source of amusement (because of how unlike me, personality-wise, they are).

c/o Front Row Shop Tweed Coat | Rebecca Taylor Tweed V-Neck Peplum Top with Leather Trim (also in navy/black and black/black) | H&M Super Skinny Super Low Jeans (art. no: 65-8709) | Forever 21 Faux Leather Wedge Booties (similar) YSL Cabas Chyc Large Leather East West Bag
Brooch (found at Marshalls)

A few (quick) words about new items on rotation: 
I picked up a pair of these H&M Super Skinny Super Low Jeans (art. no: 65-8709) in size 24/30. Now, I normally avoid pants with descriptors like “super skinny” and “super low” but found these jeans quite comfortable and non-restrictive. I don’t see the coated black denim option online anymore but think this is the right product page.
Front Row Shop, a Shanghai-based e-commerce site, reached out and asked me to share one of its fall pieces with you all. I picked this black/white tweed jacket
because I can see myself wearing it until it’s rags and tatters. The jacket isn’t inexpensive
at $75, but new users get $15 for signing up and with free shipping, it’s
slightly more reasonable.
The size XS fits me fine, though sleeves are predictably long on me because of my stubby limbs. If you have additional questions about the jacket or about shopping FRS, e-mail me
or leave a comment below.

Lastly, two noteworthy sales:
Revolve Clothing added hundreds of items to its sale section, including nearly every color and variety of satchels from the Cambridge Satchel Company (yes, I may have ordered one).
And Nordstrom temporarily discounted some of its “classics,” including Salvatore Ferragamo Bow Flats and Pumps and Burberry coats and trenches, to name a few.

Weekly Shopping Update (Coats Edition)

Mid-October seems like a good enough time to start thinking about outerwear options for the winter. I don’t need more coats but liked the Banana Republic Faux-Fur Trim Bow Coat (from this order) enough to keep.


Durable coats are a necessary evil for those of us who live in regions with harsh, long winters so spare no expense when it comes to outerwear.


Retailer: Burberry
Ladies previously sized out by Burberry, take note! Two years ago Burberry didn’t even have a size 0, now it offers size 00 in select styles (like the Mid-Length Wool Cashmere Trench Coat).
Picks: Funnel Neck Wool Cashmere Coat, Fitted Virgin Wool Coat, Leather Detail Wool Cashmere Trench Coat, Bonded Wool Cashmere Military Coat, Mid-Length Wool Blend Trench Coat, Double Wool Twill Trench Coat, and Long Wool Twill Trench Coat.

 Mid-Length Wool Cashmere Trench Coat

Retailer: Club Monaco
Discount: Free shipping on all orders; take 20% off with your .edu e-mail address.

Naomi Patterned Wool Coat
Raquel Wool Coat

Ryan Hooded Wool Coat
Leala Boucle Leather Trim Coat

Retailer: Banana Republic
Discount: 40% off sale styles with code BR40SALE; 40% off fall essentials with code BRCOZY.
Picks: The Faux-Fur Trim Bow Coat that I kept is available in a light gray; I also like the well-reviewed Animal Print Coat.
This Cropped Double-Breasted Jacket is not a keeper. The vibrant orange is beautiful in person but, like one reviewer remarked, the material is slightly too stiff and structured for the style (heavy twill can be slimming in the right cut but this peacoat is so boxy in shape and the sleeves are quite roomy).

Cropped Double-Breasted Jacket | XXSP
Shoulder: 14″ | Bust: 15.5″ | Length: 24″ | Waist: 14″ | Sleeves: 23.5″

I did not expect to like the Faux-Fur Trim Bow Coat enough to keep (well, I had some suspicion it might be trouble) but was so drawn to the puff sleeves, flared bottom, and bow belt that I decided to make room for it in my overcrowded closet. I will likely dedicate a whole post to it later this year and discuss warmth, care, and lint-attraction in greater detail.


Picture below edited to show detail. The faux-fur collar is removable.

Faux-Fur Trim Bow Coat | XXSP
Shoulder: 13.5″ | Bust: 16″ | Length: 35.5″ | Waist: 13.5″ | Sleeves: 24″

Retailer: RED Valentino
Really really want this Bows & Ribbons Parka that Wendy has. Not sure I am willing to pay $700 for it so will wait patiently for a sale.


 Ruched Overcoat | Bows & Ribbons Parka | Bow Back Coat
Marzipan Printed Coat | Wool Cloth Coat | Marzipan Wool Coat

Retailer: Urban Outfitters
Discount: Extra 50% off sale styles, no code needed.


Retailer: ASOS
Discount: Up to 50% off select items.
This Floral Jacquard Dress is stunning but is it too loud/curtain-like?

Floral Jacquard Dress

Retailer: Nordstrom
A reader wrote some time ago requesting recommendations for a blazer that is suitable for both a casual work environment and weekend wear. This Frenchi Puff Shoulder Blazer is affordable, has fun details (puff sleeves and no button closure), and is well-reviewed (well, one positive review).

Frenchi Puff Shoulder Blazer (Juniors)

Retailer: J. Crew
Discount: Get 40% off sale items with code EXTRA40
Picks: Wool A-Line Skirt, Marlie Satchel, No. 2 Pencil Skirt in Double-serge Cotton, Shift Dress in Pineapple, Grid Scarf, Goodwinn Purse, and Shift Dress in Butterfly.

Icon Trench in Wool-cashmere | Stadium-cloth Captain Coat | Stadium-cloth Cocoon Coat

Retailer: J. Crew Factory
Discount: 50% off everything; including new arrivals.
Picks: Wool-Cashmere Funnel Coat, Keating Boy Blazer, Scalloped Lace Top, Pencil Skirt in Black Watch Plaid, Long-sleeve Peter Pan Collar Tee, Isabelle Patent Pumps, Short-sleeve Pleated Lace Dress, Charley Sweater in Polka Dot, Twist-Front Dress, and Jeweled Peter Pan Collar Sweater.

Fuchsia | Dublin Green | Navy

Happy shopping!

Denim on Denim + Leopard Coat

I visited DC last month and met up with Cee, my favorite local, for some Ethiopian fare at Zenebech Injera,
a hole in the wall near Howard University.



Cee wouldn’t let me include her
in my picture of the food and when I suggested that she pose with the food she ducked instinctively to the corner. Other than being completely uncooperative with photos, she was the perfect dining companion–impeccably dressed, great table manners, willing to engage random topics I imposed on her, and laughed at even a hint of humor
(she even brought me a cupcake!)

J. Crew Keeper Chambray Shirt | Ann Taylor Floral Leopard Jacquard Topper | GAP 1969 Mid-Weight High-Rise Legging Jean | YSL large Cabas Chyc | Pour La Victoire Chantel Scalloped Pumps (also here, here + here)

A quick word about the fit of the topper. It is loose-fitting and the petite XXS that I wore here will comfortably accommodate someone up to a size 4 so take a size (or two) down from your usual size.

Take 30% off your Banana Republic purchase with code BRSHOP30.


I like the Sloan Sheath Dress and wish it came in more colors. Other styles that I find interesting include the Gemma Windowpane Wrap Dress, Rugby-Stripe Dress, Double-Breasted Coat, and Flared Trench.


Happy shopping!

Review: J. Crew Collection Icon Trench in Light Khaki

Here’s my standard-issue mea culpa: sorry, self, for exposing (again) your complete lack of accountability by buying another trench. No one needs four trench coats.

Now that we’ve established the threshold of excess for trench coats, let’s discuss the culprit behind my latest transgression.

I don’t need to extol the merits of a classic khaki trench (I’ve beaten that horse into glue) and the J. Crew Collection Icon Trench, with its notched collars, double-breasted buttons, D-ring fastening belt, and back vent with storm flap, falls squarely in the “classic” category.

The retail price of $298 is incongruous with its actual value but it is a style that gets marked down periodically. I bought mine for about $125 a few weeks ago and think it’s worth at least $100. I’ve also seen prices dip as low as $70 so there’s really no “rock bottom” price for this style.

The color of this trench varies slightly every season; the fall 2013 color of “light khaki” is consistent with its actual hue. It falls somewhere between stone and tan.

The “Japanese cotton” from which this trench is constructed looks expensive and is surprisingly wrinkle-resistant (possibly an attribute of the heavier-weight fabric).

The style is intended to end at mid-thigh but on a petite person, take 5’2 me as an example, the length is closer to knee-length.

The trench coat is lined in beige satin which is inoffensive but I think the item would command a higher price tag if J. Crew had chosen to line it in a unique print. That detail would certainly set it apart from the million and one khaki trench coats out there and have been a hit with those who are drawn to fun details.

l to r : Burberry Mottram Trench | Burberry Westland Trench | J. Crew Icon Trench

I found the belt much too long and think it should’ve been scaled down
for smaller sizes. It’s a minor issue for me because I normally wear my
coats unbuttoned and unbelted so this drawback did not carry much weight in my
decision.

No petite sizes are offered in this style but trenches are not meant to be form-fitting so those of you about my size can try the trench in size 00. Aside from too-long sleeves (to be expected), most fit issues are minor and almost negligible if you only wear your coats open.

Buy here.


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