Archive | December, 2010

I actually asked if they offered personal shopping

18 Dec Anthropologie seeks to create an inspiring shopping experience

I have never  really put much effort into shopping mainly because I seem to struggle with finding just the right fit, style and colors.  I am short with a petite frame which means most things are either too long or too big.  To make things even more interesting, I had to start wearing shoe inserts not too long ago because apparently child bearing weight has caused a couple of bones to separate in my right foot.  The shoe inserts seem to only fit into my New Balance sneakers which means my outfits are not only put together with my 2 year old in mind, but they must also look great with my sporty and fun street shoes.

Recently, I received some money for my birthday with encouragement to please “spend it on yourself.  You deserve it!”  I finally felt like taking that advice so I decided to treat myself to a little visit to Anthropologie.  I consider Anthropologie to be that piece of cake you reward yourself with after a week of “being good.”  Except in my case it’s more like I’ve been on a diet for 2+ years.

So, I decided to go to Anthropologie shortly after I got my birthday money and wouldn’t ya know ….the outfits I picked on my own looked terrible.  I selected a pair of cargo pants that were on sale and a couple of shirts to match.  The pants were too big (because I have no idea what my European size is) and the sweaters I chose turned out to be boxy and shapeless.

I was starting to get a little down when it suddenly occurred to me to ask if they offer personal shopping.  I have never done this sort of thing before so it was shocking to hear the words “Do you offer personal shopping services?” come out of my mouth.

Anthropologie’s personal shopper just so happened to be working that day and the dressing room clerk paged her for me.  When she came into the dressing room she asked me what sort of style I was aiming for and I froze up.  I didn’t know what to say.  My natural reaction is to say “something for work” or “something to wear out to dinner.”  Neither of those apply right now.  Dinner, occasionally, but apparently not enough to make me want to oomph up my wardrobe in some time.  I managed to cough out “well, I’m a mom and I have a 2 year old.”  Then I just stood there, awkwardly.  She smiled and said “so you just need something you could dress up or dress down depending on the time of day.”  Sure, let’s try that.

It seemed like seconds before half the store was hanging in my dressing room.  There were sweaters-cardigans and pullovers, Tees-long sleeved and sleeveless.  Colors of gray, burgundy, navy blue, mustard yellow.  4 Different types of pants-cargo, straight-legged as well as skinny jeans, even jeggings (which I had not heard of before until I came across them in Kohls while shopping for my daughter because her wardrobe is way more up to date than mine).   Everything was paired together perfectly and ready to be tried on.  I felt like I was getting ready for the runway.  I was informed that any of the outfits could be “dressed up or dressed down by adding a cute ballet flat or boots for nighttime.”  Note to self: get more shoe inserts.

As I went through each outfit, things seemed to be way off and did not work for several reasons:

– Price: None of the pants were below $100 and the tops ranged from $78 – $128.  The first outfit – gray cargos, a short-sleeved tee and a jersey cardigan – $294.  That’s just one outfit.

– Style: The pullovers were loose fitting with cowlnecks and asymmetrical hems which made it look like I was swimming in a sea of fabric. The cardigans were made of light weight fabric which caused them to hang open without any belt, clasp or closure of any kind.   I couldn’t picture running after my daughter while fidgeting with my sweater.  I feel like I’m moving around so much during the day that I need to make sure my clothes are secured to my body.

– Cleaning Instructions (and this could even be considered the most important): Most of the items were delicate, requiring Dry Cleaning or Hand Washing.  I don’t even hand wash the dishes.

I decided to head home and think some more about what I’d like to have in my wardrobe.  As I was getting dressed, I spotted a navy blue hoodie in the corner of the room.  It must have been hiding under a few outfits.  It was a glorious sight!  I went for it and it fit perfectly.  A match made in heaven.

After 4 hours in the dressing room (plus the aid of a personal shopper) I found one excellent hoodie!

The At-Ease Hoodie, making motherhood fashionably laid back.

It’s called the “At-Ease Hoodie.” Enough said.  I actually love the longer length and the gather at the waist makes it flattering and feminine. This would be nice for lounging around the house OR going out to run errands without looking like you are wearing your frumpy clothes.  It’s loose without being baggy and the sleeves can be rolled up and snapped in place. It also has 2 nice deep pockets to store a cell phone, keys, rocks or any other treasures small hands like to find.  It comes in 2 colors – navy and moss (olive greenish) and it’s MACHINE WASHABLE!  Look out boogers and pizza stains!  I chose navy because it worked better with my skin tone.  It is $88 and I can honestly say that the price is worth it.  I have been able to get a ton of usage out of it…rain or shine, playground and playdate.

Though it was rough in the beginning, I feel like my personal shopping experience ended well and helped me identify basic requirements for the clothes that would work with my life as a mom.  I approached the personal shopping experience thinking that I needed someone to tell me what works because getting dressed has become such a mechanical process (tainted by the demands of caring for a toddler).  In reality, it comes down to comfort and simplicity for me.  I want clothes that can look good and be comfortable without a whole lotta fuss.  Utilitarian fashion, if you will.  I found that in the hoodie, as well as some other items that were on sale in the store.  I was pleased and I will definitely return.

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Thanks for the memories

8 Dec

Now that the weather is cold, and a t-shirt just doesn’t cut it anymore, I find myself wearing a hoodie all the time. I love hoodies – maybe a little too much. Believe it or not, I still wear an item that I’ve had since high school: a sorry-looking, saggy-baggy maroon hoodie.  I bought it used at Goodwill – or maybe picked it up on sale at a sporting goods store.  It never looked great back then, but now it’s stretched out, frayed at the wrists, and has a dime-size hole in the kangaroo pocket. Still, there is something so comforting about putting it on – welcoming and familiar- and provides a nice layer of warmth without being confining. It’s the closest I get to wearing a blanket without actually wearing a blanket.

During my senior year of high school, I wore this hoodie to an interview for a scholarship at UCLA. A few weeks later, I got the call from the man who interviewed me, saying that I got the scholarship – but “please, wear something more respectable next time you go to an interview.” Fair enough. Yet here I am, almost twenty years later, and I still love wearing the hoodie. Even though it looks like hell, I didn’t even consider ditching it during my last closet purge.

For momming around, the hoodie is hard to beat. It’s comfortable, washable, easy to tie around my waist at the playground, and zips down when chasing after my 2-year old has me breaking out in a sweat. It’s repelled almost every stain imaginable. There is always something I need to stow in a pocket, whether it’s my cell phone or my child’s most recently discovered “treasure”.

But wait, aren’t I blogging about upgrading my look? Maybe the maroon hoodie needs to be retired. Yet the thought of going without it makes me feel like someone has just told me that I need to give up chocolate. (My husband actually tried that a few years ago when we were trying to eat more healthy, and I think the look I shot him pretty much ended that conversation.) I need to find something that has the coziness and utility of my maroon hoodie, but doesn’t look like it just got picked up off a dorm room floor.

Past efforts to replace or upgrade the hoodie have failed – I have tried, and abandoned, at least 5 other hoodies because they started feeling too tight, too short, or too hard to care for.  It’s time to expand my fashion universe. Luckily, there are some nice options out there right now.  Unless you are in the haze of raising a baby or have been living on a similar far away planet, you have probably noticed the trend to wear long sweaters that drape open in front, often made of a thick cable knit. Sometimes they’re worn belted, but mostly they hang loose – kind of like wearing a blanket.  (Hmmm. I think I’m on to something.)

After my recent failures with shopping at Amazon for clothes, I am reluctant to try online shopping again. Then, my favorite catalog company, Boden, sends me an offer for “buy 2 items, get the third for $1”. Boden is based in the UK, and I appreciate their sense of humor, which is evident in their kids’ clothes which are cute and fun and well-made. I haven’t really ventured into the adult clothes much, but like most of us, I am tempted by the feeling of getting a deal. I decide to spend some time on their web site (Bodenusa.com). Three clicks later, I am in the knitwear section.

Usually, I am not a big fan of shopping for sweaters. Just the sight of all that wool makes me feel hot and itchy. After all, how cold does it ever really get in the Bay Area? However, this open, relaxed style of sweater has fitted short sleeves, and is loose and drapey off the waist – cozy, but not bulky. The fine print reads it’s machine washable, despite being a wool blend. Enticed by the sale, I order the two sweaters below (plus a silk dress which was so unflattering, I won’t bother discussing it any further here).

This cardigan is flattering, kid-friendly, and fun to wear - a winner!

I consider myself an optimist, so I will call this online shopping adventure a moderate success. I love the drapey cardigan – it’s warm and comfortable, and though I have not tried to wash it yet, the label says it can be machine-washed on delicate and hung to dry.  More importantly, I love the look- it’s stylish but still low-key, and goes with just about anything.  Even though I am wearing  jeans and boots from more than three years ago, I still look very current.  The cut is flattering – it follows the shape of my shoulders and arms, and drapes to mid-thigh with an overall long and pleasing line. It falls open in a way to add interest around the neckline without appearing fussy. In short, it’s fun to wear, and kid-compatible – my definition of success!

boden chic sweater

The drape of this sweater is a little relaxed for me, and the tie won't stay tied.

The second sweater, which ties at the waist, is a less exiciting cut, also a bit too thin to hold its shape. The rear likes to ride up over my bum and hang out there. Also, the tie is made of slippery satin trim and does not want to stay tied, which I find irritating. I already have plenty of moments when I feel like I am coming undone from drama with the kids; it doesn’t help for my sweater to *actually* come undone too.

Still, the color is nice and it provides lightweight warmth, and so I decide to keep it – I tell myself it will be a useful layering piece into next spring. Only time will tell if I just talked myself into keeping a dud.

I wish I could say that I finally found a sweater to replace my hoodie – but no such luck. It’s really hard to dethrone the hoodie that is the wardrobe equivalent of my security blanket. As any mother knows, it’s not easy to part with your lovie, even when it’s high time to do so. I’m unwilling to let it go. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of my carefree teenage years, or maybe of my father, who died earlier this year and whom I still miss dearly. (I haven’t looked through my high school photos in many years, but if I did, I am sure I would find a few photos of me standing next to my father wearing that hoodie.)

I’ll take that one up with my shrink. Meanwhile, I am shopping for more drapey, open-in-front sweaters.  Shouldn’t be too hard to find – I see a lot of other women, including moms, wearing them.  (Send me a link if you have seen a good one online – otherwise maybe I’ll see you in a few weeks in the real world, shopping the after-Christmas sales.)

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