My Uniqlo x Lemaire items - what do you think?

After my heartbreak over how quickly the Uniqlo Lemaire collaboration sold out, I stalked the website for a day and found all the items I'd wanted!

In the end... I'm not in love. I've gained a few pounds relative to my older WIW posts, but even so, these clothes do me no favors. But some do have promise. What do you think? Keep or return?

All but the gaucho pants are made from the same Milano rib merino wool. Thick, warm, but not too warm for my climate, I think. The gauchos are a bulky wool melton.

1-2: Rib knit skirt. I did buy a lot of skirts recently, but I've been wearing them a lot. I don't usually go for this midi length but it would look nice over my tall, smooth boots.

3-4: Long knit jacket. 

5-7: Draped cape. It's a odd shape, a rectangle with no head slit or shoulder shaping, but I found two ways to wear it. I can't picture wearing it often as my main outer layer, but it might be perfect for sitting in my chilly office. So, basically, do I want an $80 wool rectangle?

8-9: Gaucho pant. They are not actually lantern-shaped - they need to be steamed, and then the side of the leg will fall straight. I'm completely sold on this silhouette, but I might prefer a lighter fabrication, like the cropped wool trousers I saw at J Crew.

I've left my opinions on fit/appearance out, to see what others think. Should I keep any?


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Uniqlo x Lemaire collab this Friday

Uniqlo is doing a collaboration with Lemaire, a French label that I'm vaguely aware of. The collaboration is full of gorgeous, simple wool and cashmere items. Really classy looking.

It comes out online, plus a few items in stores, on Friday. I'm really excited -- but also a bit wary. I'm so tempted to snap up everything online, but I never know if I'm an XS or S and that makes for a lot of buy-and-return. And the weather here in SF is rarely cold enough for me to wear lots of cozy wool. Sleeveless wool tops are fine for me, or light wool cardigans, but merino leggings or chunky turtlenecks might never get worn. I'm particularly worried that the lambswool sweaters will be too hot.

Here are the items I'm most seriously considering -- though I'll be buying them in black only, and I don't know which actually come in black. (Some of the color swatches might be a dark navy?)

Should I get the asymmetric cape? I do like capes, and the asymmetry is excellent, but I might prefer a more tailored cape.


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In search of a dress

I just got back from a few weeks of travel, and now I have an urgent shopping need. My brother is getting married in Hawaii in a few weeks, and I need a dress!

It's a beach wedding with ten guests. A low-key affair, but the bride would love it if we dress up a bit. I have two appropriate dresses but I should probably get a new one, because they've both been worn to so many weddings (including my other brother's wedding).

I'm going to hit a few stores today, but if any of you have ideas, please share! My goals are:

  • silk 
  • summery
  • grey, silver, or black+white pattern are ideal; color is possible
  • preference for avant garde or interesting over pretty, perhaps a loose shift shape.
Though for that last point - one of my other dresses is a simple silver linen Eileen Fisher sundress that is not at all avant garde, and I love it.

One option is in Finds below but I think the crewneck will make it less flattering on me.


Favorite shops in Dublin or Vienna?

I'm heading out next week for some work travel, first Dublin for three days and then on to Vienna. I'll be quite busy, but there's certainly time to walk around the cities. I have some cultural / tourist destinations in mind, but I'm sure I can check out some local fashion shops in my spare time. Any favorites?

I'm already excited even without local suggestions. Even Zara or Weekday or COS are fun, since the selection is better than I'd get in the US. And I noticed there's a store selling Trippen right near my hotel in Vienna -- and the United Nude store is literally across the street from the conference site. Good thing I have more shoe storage space now!


Items you "should" own but never actually wear

Sometimes I'm a bit trapped by outdated ideas of what my wardrobe should contain. Do you ever do this?

For instance, I just saw a nice Theory cotton shirt in light gray, a duplicate of one I have in white, and thought I must need something like that. But really, no. It's not my style (too structured and fitted). I don't work in an office. On the occasions when I do need professional clothing, I'm more likely to turn to a fluid silk shirt or an oversized white men's shirt.

But in my head, I want to have an adult wardrobe, and adults must own professional shirts to wear with suits. Business-like flats have also been in this category for me. I can spend a lot of time searching for something very specific like that only because my brain has ordained that I should own one, no matter whether I actually want, need, or would use it.

And yet, erring in the opposite direction, sometimes I can't make myself choose something practical if it doesn't have that extra something.

Which brings me to today's dilemma: these Born shoes. They might take the place of the walking sandals I've been searching for, perfect for travel. They are exactly the shape of my feet. They are amazingly comfortable and leather-lined. They stay on my feet, unlike every pair of flats without straps I've attempted to wear over the years. They even have a removable insole and might fit my orthotics, which I usually can only wear in sneakers. And yet they're also not quite my style in a way that I can't define (perhaps they border on too boho?). They're maybe not edgy nor minimal enough -- or maybe they are. What would you do? Keep or return?

If you struggle with this yourself, do you find that the "shoulds" become wardrobe orphans? Or do they become practical workhorses?


Dramatic minimalist sandals for travel?

I'm traveling a lot this summer (conferences in Dublin and Vienna in July, for starters) and I hope to do a lot of walking. For a 10-day trip, I'll probably bring stylish sneakers, flat ankle boots and/or oxfords, and sandals. But neither of my existing sandals quite do the trick. Both hurt my high instep after a mile or so, and the Dr Martens weigh so much that I don't want to pack them (both are in Finds below).

So, I'm on the hunt for new sandals. I'm really picky, though. They must be:

  • black
  • flat
  • wide toe area
  • rubber sole and/or some cushioning
  • leather, with leather lining
  • edgy-minimalist, with clean dramatic lines
  • some sort of ankle strap to keep them on
  • nothing over my instep bump - edit - it's hard for me to know which straps will be a problem, so I'll consider many possibilities.

I've found two possibilities online: Eileen Fisher and Clarks Originals (see my Finds). Do you think either of these is a boost to my aesthetic, or are they taking minimalist a little too far for me?

If you see anything else that might fit my desires, could you post it here? I'll note that unfortunately, Camper shoes just do. not. fit. no matter how much I want them to.

And, if you think sandals are just not the best use of suitcase space, let me know! I'm never sure what shoes to bring. It never rains in SF so I forget that it's a possibility, for instance!


Excellent customer service from Nordstrom and BR

I had a few frustrating experiences this week, all followed by fantastic customer service! I wanted to pass on the cheer.

Two packages were stolen from my steps this week: shoes from Nordstrom (UPS) and two pullovers from Banana Republic (FedEx smartpost, so delivered by USPS). 

Rather than trying to deal with UPS at all, I just called Nordstrom and explained, and they instantly gave me a refund! It's not even their fault in the least, but I imagine this occasional expense is factored into their business plans. Sadly, the shoes are sold out in my size, so I won't get them... but at least I have the money back.

Buoyed by that, I thought I'd try Banana Republic as well. Same experience! They quickly placed a replacement order. I asked them to send it to my work address this time.

And then, I noticed that an Everlane return still hadn't been processed after a month. I emailed them to ask if I'd see my money soon. They, too, gave me a refund right away (before having the package in hand) - and they even gave me a gift credit to replace the one I'd used to pay for part of that order, even though the original credit was a one-time thank you gift from them, not something I could keep in my account. And, they told me when their next open studio day is, so I can go try things on in person and avoid the cycle of buying and returning by mail. (They're a few blocks from me.)

Such a pleasant resolution to three stressful events!

I'm working out new methods of getting shipments so nothing can be stolen - I'll either use a mailbox at the local UPS Store or ship to work (slightly frowned upon).

Any other great customer experiences recently?


Finding workhorses for fall (K/R)

Since fall is my favorite season (for weather, clothing, and shopping), I always end up with a big wishlist. I want things that will truly be workhorses, whether they're statement items or not. The wish list - all black (or black denim) except as noted.

  • skirt (denim, wool, whatever; slightly below knee; could be A-line or pencil).
  • denim shirt
  • versatile cardigans
  • boyfriend jeans
  • lightweight pullover
  • sleeveless wool sweater
  • oversized chinos
  • silk top to wear with a suit (NOT black - ideally white with a print)

A Neiman Marcus Last Call opened in SF on Friday, and I got a few good deals. Zara has been killing it this season, as has Allsaints. Many of these were bought on sale, but it still adds up to more than I usually spend... I don't really need the whole wishlist. Which should I keep?

So, which of these are winners?

  • (1-2) Vince cotton pullover (winner!), Robert Rodriguez wool shorts (would I wear them?)
  • (3) Zara boyfriend jeans, sized up (winner!)
  • (4-6) Allsaints Drina cardigan in cotton
  • (7-9) Madewell Sculptor cardigan, heavy wool rib knit. Would be more of a coat than an indoors layer. I love the shape and structure but is it too weird? Too warm for my climate?
  • (10-12) Zara denim shirt. Unsure about this. A size down looks better but is too tight in the shoulders.
  • (13-14) Two losers? Robert Rodriguez graphic silk top - too bulky and weird. Zara wool wrap overskirt - I had high hopes but it just doesn't work. (I have a cotton tube skirt under it; would get something longer if I keep it.)
  • (15) The silk top with my suit. What I really want is a simple shell in that same silk.
  • (16) Bonus! Zara cape I'm in love with but didn't buy.

I also have a denim skirt on order that might work, and sleeveless wool sweater possibilities galore. This is the problem with fall - I keep finding so many perfect things that my HEWI detector is on overdrive and I make bad decisions.

Edited to add: I like how you're all calling out your statements & essentials!
Statements: shorts, sculptor cardigan, cape (swoon... but I would be too scared to wear it), silk top if it fit
Essentials: jeans, pullover, probably the allsaints cardigan, denim shirt


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Over the knee?

I have recently been imagining smooth, plain knee high boots to wear with skirts just below the knee or midi length. But this is turning out to be impossible to find. I have muscular calves and very short legs, so knee-high boots are too tall, making the top bulge hugely around my leg.

I stopped by Bloomingdale's to try on a pair that seemed promising. No luck, but on my way out, I noticed a whole display of over the knee boots. I realized that they actually fit my short legs better, unintuitively! The boot doesn't bulge out at the top of my calf because it keeps going higher.

I always thought over-the-knee boots were way too much look for me. I know my style can be edgy, but I'm timid about things that read as extreme to me. I was a teen during a phase when OTK boots were not "in" at all, so they seemed fetishy at the time and I think my brain is stuck on that image. Now, of course, we've had years and years of them being on trend, and they seem to be having a tiny resurgence this year.

Soooooo. I fell in love with these Ash boots. They aren't clean and simple like I thought I wanted - they have dramatic zippers, though they're not particularly shiny or glossy. They remind me of some Demeulemeester looks. Sorry that I didn't get any photos.

Would I manage to wear them? I work in a very casual environment where dressing up stands out. I'm afraid I would just never wear them.

(You may remember that I did get really wonderful mid-height boots last year, Tsubo Loe, shown below for comparison. Perfect over jeans and fit like they were made for me. Alas, they have the same diagonal zipper look as the Ash boots so I probably don't need another pair with the same look!)

There's one pair left at Shopbop and if I do want them, I should snap them up now while the discount is still going...


An excellent trip to the Rack!

One day recently I took a break from working nonstop and, er, shopped nonstop. I had amazing luck at Nordstrom Rack in particular. I haven't posted many WIWs in a long time because I've been frustrated with taking photos in a badly-lit mirror, but my boyfriend was lovely and took all these for me today.

1. Alexander Wang silk dress. Black silk sleeveless shirtdresses and blouses are definitely my thing. But I already have one from Equipment (also Rack!) that is a FFBO. I wasn't going to buy this (at $120 it's expensive for me) but my boyfriend loves it and looking at the photos, I see what he means. It has this super-cool cape thing that's actually a tube coming off a hole in the back. Keep?

2. Theory cotton shirt dress. I had a shirt dress on my list (though I was also considering white, not black) and this one fits so well. It's the same cotton/nylon as the Theory dress shirts that hold their shape and don't wrinkle. Could be a go-to piece, and it also looks good over slim black jeans. But, do I really need two new dresses? (Also expensive-ish, at $100).

3. This is a definite keep. Helmut Lang wool smoking tux jacket with cut-off sleeves (raw edges). I would wear a top under it in real life but I wore it on its own to show the cool cropped back. This was a super-duper bargain and I cut the tags off as soon as I got home. Styled with my new (long! blue!) Gap jeans.

4. This was thrifted, not Rack: a Reed Krakoff shirt at Crossroads for ridiculously cheap. Ideas on what to wear it with? It's gray wool suiting fabric.

I am so excited to see the photos because each item looks a bit different than I'd thought from the mirror. It's especially useful for thinking about skirt lengths, which I'm bad at. Are these shirt dresses ok lengths to wear with bare legs?


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