June Shopping Haul

It’s been a while since I had a summer wardrobe to speak of. That was okay, since Atlanta is only uncomfortably hot for the actual 3 months of summer, where as Houston is hot year round. It was 80 degrees at Christmas, which is unfortunate since one of my husband’s aunts insists on doing an annual ugly sweater contest. eek Anyway, last “winter” I finally came to grips with the fact that I live here now and I don’t need 25 sweaters, five coats and four pairs of boots. *sobs dramatically* So I’ve been purging my closet and realized I had “nothing” to wear. You know what that means!

Let’s get to it. . .

torridromper

Torrid cold shoulder romper

Rompers, rompers, rompers! With all the talk of rompers for men, I realized that-tragedy!- I no longer owned one. My last romper was a sleeveless button up from Forever 21 that I had a lot of fun with circa summer 2011. My cups spilleth over and I had to safety pin the chest from day one, so after two buttons popped I just gave it up. When I saw this romper on clearance at   Torrid I couldn’t resist. It just screams summer fun!

 

Currently all my shorts are bermudas or close to it so I couldn’t resist this mini pair in a polka dot print.

 

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Cole Haan ballet flat

 

I wear a size 11W so it’s hard to find shoes. And either I can’t find anything, or I buy several pairs at one time. Between last month and this month I’ve bought five pairs of shoes and I have no regrets! I’ve been searching for a classic ballet flat forever and this fit the bill. It’s not wide width, but with the round toe and genuine leather construction they stretch to fit. Plus the mini wedge makes them super comfortable. *happy dance*

I love the twist knot detail on these sandals. Simple but chic. They’re my new summer work staple because they go with everything!

 

 

 

 

Did I cop the new Fenty bow slides? Actually no and that’s why I have a beef with Rihanna. After those atrocious fur slides and Spice Girl platform sneakers she finally made some cute shoes but they only go up to a size 10! She really could have got me for about $300 because I L-O-V-E-D not only the bow slides, but also the satin sneakers with ribbon laces. I’ll never have the chance so I got a pair Steve Madden knockoffs, in white leather. At least they’re easier to clean.

I don’t think I’ve ever owned a “freakum dress” in my life. I’m very modest so I very rarely show off more than one part of my body at a time. Honestly, this still probably doesn’t qualify but the combination of the thigh slit, cleavage and back out make it a freakum dress for me. My wedding anniversary is coming up in a few months and it will be nice to see my husband’s jaw drop because I *never* wear stuff like this. Hey boo! *body rolls*

Have you bought anything you love lately? Let me know in the comments!

 

May Shopping Haul

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a fun post. There’s nothing going on pop culture or celebrity wise that  I find particularly interesting so shopping it is! I love the “Sh*t I Bought” series of posts on Jezebel’s The Muse so I decided to do my own for the past month or so.

Disclaimer: I bought a lot of stuff. Don’t judge me! The last time I went on a spree like this was right after I got my law firm job and realized I only had enough workwear to carry me through my first two weeks. Since I quit and went back to school, of course I slashed my discretionary spending. But I got some pretty well paying document review work, along with a surprise influx of cash from an unexpected source. So

I bought this on the spur of the moment while on the way to meet Sunny & Maya at a different store in the shopping center. This is basically the dress equivalent of yoga pants. The fabric is deliciously soft, it’s a modest length, and with the right shoes and a blazer it will pass for summer workwear. The flowiness is also great for that time of the month–you can feel like you’re in pajamas while looking fit for public consumption.H&M

I love a good polka dot tee. I actually already have one but it has half sleeves and no ruffles, and this one was cheap af so why not?

I love dark denim but in Houston, it’s 80 degrees at Christmas and I don’t know what the rest of the year. Dark denim is not your friend in the summer months. I was skeptical about the cropped flare deal, but these actually worked.

Khaki is back (never went out for me personally) and ruffles are majorly in. Unfortunately almost all the ruffles come on tops. With wide shoulders, DD cups and a short neck I know that shirt ruffles are not my friend (believe me Maya, I tried to make fetch happen and failed miserably). But I love that this side ruffle pencil skirt gives me some extra oomph in the hip department!

Victoria Beckham bee blouse I bought this in a 3X so it fits my boobs and is big everywhere else. But this shirt was so me I don’t mind spending another $15 to get it tailored.

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Rebdolls is like Forever 21 but cooler. All their dresses are named after songs/song lyrics, they have cute graphic tees that are cut for women with boobs, and almost everything is under $50. If it’s over $50, just sign up for email alerts because every other month there’s a 20% off sale. Anyway, I realized I don’t really have any going out dresses. I mean, I have dresses that I wear out but they’d really be more comfortable at brunch, church, or a networking event. Nothing in my closet really says “drinks with the girls” or “date night”. This is short with a mostly open back so I think this fits the bill. Bonus: the ruffle part hits below my boobs!

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My only other maxi dress is strappy and sleeveless, so I can only wear it with a strapless bra which I currently don’t own (come on, Lane Bryant semi annual bra sale!). In addition to the sleeves, I love that this one is white, but the print adds enough color that a small stain wouldn’t be immediately visible. I wore this to the Houston leg of Gentleman Jack Real to Reel film series and swished around all night!

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I love oxfords and I don’t have a black pair so, duh. Very comfy and work appropriate, plus they can be worn with pants and dresses. So you know how you jam your feet into your shoes without untying & retying them and the back gets mashed down? Well this shoe is made fore that. Curiously these “convert” to mules but I don’t think I’ll be wearing mine that way.

I love a good bag, but I usually get tired of them quick. This has long term potential though. The camel color is classic and the color blocked cloth strap is very summery.

Can’t Shop, Won’t Shop

superstore

For the past few years, the media has been chronicling the fall of the in-store shopping experience. It never really resonated with me. Aside from everyday needs like groceries and toilet paper, I do a lot of shopping online, usually because what I need either can’t be found in the store, or are significantly more expensive there. Things like textbooks for school and electronics are much more affordable online. For instance, none of the stores near me had an HP laptop with the storage and processor speed I needed for under $600. I found exactly what I wanted on Amazon for about $400. A two day wait was more than worth it to save that much money!

I also shop online out of necessity. First of all, I have big feet. I can buy sneakers in store, because I have no shame in shopping the men’s section (there’s almost always a confused looking dude who checks to make sure he didn’t accidentally wander into the wrong section, LOL!). But there’s not a single shoe store within 30 miles of where I live has a decent selection of size 11 or 11W women’s dress shoes EXCEPT for Payless, whose shoes may as well be made out of cardboard*. I’m also plus size (on the smaller side of plus, admittedly, but just big enough that I can’t just walk into any store and find something that fits).  Most brands have an abysmal in-store plus size selection, so if I don’t want to wear

a) suits made entirely of stretch fabric;

b) dresses that make me look like a church deaconess;

c) Mom jeans with an elastic waistband; or

d) oversized floral polyester blouses that shouldn’t be exposed to open flame

then I have no choice but to shop online. Walmart can get you through in a pinch, but no white collar worker who can afford to buy better would choose to craft their professional wardrobe out of Faded Glory and House of Dereon separates. On the other end of the scale, Macy’s overcharges for plus clothes that look like they belong in Walmart. Nordstrom and Dillards are expensive, and sell more dresses and cocktail outfits than everyday basics.

Anyway, I finally had occasion to shop in store. I got a Visa gift card for Christmas, and I hate using those online because if you find something that’s more than the card value, you can’t split payments. I was looking for two things: an alarm clock with FM radio and an aux cord for my iPod, and one of those handheld massagers**. Both of these items were at Bed, Bath and Beyond. However, I wasn’t prepared to spend $50 on a clock, and the only massager available was a $250 chair cushion. The clock was $20 cheaper on Amazon, as well as a host of affordable massagers, but I felt like both of these items were too mundane to justify waiting on shipping. Surely I could find a good deal at a different store! So off I went.

Target was a bust on the clock- there was only one clock that met my specifications, and it was a super fancy $80 model. I couldn’t even find the clocks at Walmart (they weren’t in electronics or home office) and I was so annoyed by that point that I didn’t bother to ask an associate. F*ck it, I’ll buy a clock online. I suppose it’s something of an anachronism by now. The irritating part was that both of their websites claimed to have several massagers available in store. I even had the option to order online and pick up in store the same day. But THE WEBSITE WOULD NOT TELL ME WHICH AISLE THE PRODUCT WAS ON. The all caps were necessary because it was stupid. What is the point of going to the store to buy something if you can’t look at it and see if you even want it first? If I was willing to buy something sight unseen, I’d just have gone to Amazon.

At any rate, all of this integration of e-commerce and physical stores means nothing if you can’t find the product. Sure, I could have hunted down a sales associate*** to ask for help, but if I can see the inventory levels online there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to find out which section a product is in as well. Whatever. Guess I’ll just buy it on Amazon.

UPDATE: After blogging this, I  went to CVS to buy shampoo. Before leaving the house I checked the website and saw there were massagers at my local store. They were easy to locate,  and the model I bought was listed for the same price as it was on Amazon. Plus, I had a $2 off coupon and $5 ExtraBucks rewards  from the loyalty program. CVS is out here winning!

*Not gonna lie, those cheap a** shoes got me through childhood, college and law school. But the first thing I did when I started working full time was buy a $100 pair of name brand shoes. Once you’ve had arch support, there’s no going back.

**Not for the bedroom, y’all. For my neck and shoulder.

***LOLOLOL as if one would even be available? Or even have the answer? I’ve worked retail, I know what it it is.

Dear Eloquii

 

****Hey guys, today I’m using the blog to write an open letter to one of my favorite online retailers who will be closing their doors. Plus sized shoppers are an under-served, largely ignored demographic, and instead of just complaining I’m doing my part to let the fashion world know that we’re here and we want real fashion choices!****

Dear Eloquii,

Last week you announced that you would be closing your plus-size concept store operating under The Limited. I’m not a fashion blogger, much less an influential one, but I’m writing this on the off chance that you or another plus-size retailer will read my thoughts as a plus-size shopper.

I’m 25 years old and an “in-betweener”: at a size 16/18, I can shop straight size for most things but some things I have to go plus size for (namely dresses, suits, and bras). I’m  finishing grad school and will soon be joining the work force, so I’m trying to develop a wardrobe appropriate for a young professional. Eloquii has really helped me develop my personal style this past year by offering chic blouses, classic dresses, and cute, well-fitting (!!!!) suiting separates that can take me from a job interview to a dinner date. Frankly, Eloquii filled a niche for the young, fashion-obsessed plus size customer who lives in the real world. Your target demographic remains massively untapped, and I can tell you why. ASOS Curve is great, but overall skews edgy and doesn’t have a lot of pieces that work for me every day (in addition to being above my price point). Lane Bryant caters to an older demographic, and Avenue works better for women on the larger end of plus size. Lines like Rachel Pally White Label and Igigi have great products, but as boutique labels they a) are out of many folk’s price ranges and b) can’t offer a broad range of styles that appeals to the mass market. Eloquii, as part of The Limited brand, has a huge advantage here, and you capitalized on it by not only offering many The Limited styles in Eloquii, but by going beyond being a copycat line to develop your own aesthetic.

The bottom line is, I am a loyal Eloquii customer because the concept is great! The designers clearly put some thought into what looks good on full-figured women. You acknowledged that plus size women are not all hourglass or pear shaped! The Shape My Style feature allows shoppers to find styles that are most flattering for their body type, and can choose from 5 different shapes (top heavy, bottom heavy, hourglass, boyish, and full waisted). Pants and skirts come in curvy fit (waist smaller than hip) and classic fits (waist larger than or equal to hip size). You focused on designing clothes that fit different body types, rather than trying to make every style fit every body type (which results in shapeless clothing, or spandex overkill).  Second, the clothes are fashionable. If I see a particular style in magazine, I cango to Eloquii and find a chic, plus sized version of it. Military, peplum, leather, prints- it’s all there! No more looking like grandma.

Unfortunately, there were many things that could have been done better from a branding perspective starting with the name. Distancing yourself from The Limited was a huge mistake. For example, I’ve never referred to your brand as “Eloquii by The Limited” to any of my friends, so you voluntarily divested yourself of a lot of social capital. Second, there was no advertising to speak of. Not once have I seen a print ad for Eloquii! The Limited only carries up to a size 14, so I would never have gone to your site to see the Eloquii tab (and neither would 90% of your other potential plus size customers). I never would have heard of your brand, in fact, had I not been a subscriber to The Curvy Fashionista blog. Speaking of bloggers, sending out gift cards or sample clothes for a social media campaign would have been the way to go if you were trying to drum up business through word of mouth. And while the durability and style of your clothes was on on point, a little less polyester and a little more natural fibers would have been great. As a practical matter, we thick girls get a little hot under all that non-breathing polyester!

You also shot yourselves in the foot by keeping the concept online. Online only is NEVER going to work if you are trying to go mainstream and your demographic isn’t solely the under-30 crowd who accept online shopping as part of their lifestyle. Forever 21+ remains profitable (despite lower quality and inconsistent sizing) because it is available in Forever 21 stores across the country, and it’s available in far more stores than you can count on one hand. I’m past the Forever 21 phase of my life, but I appreciate that they at least make their aesthetic available to a wider range of sizes. Target and Old Navy could definitely stand to expand their in-store plus offerings, but a customer can at least try something on to get a feel for the sizing so they can order online with some degree of confidence.

A few final thoughts. First, a glance at the comments on your Facebook page revealed many complaints about fit and pricing; I hope you take these with a grain of salt because consumers who really care about fashion will pay more for quality. Moreover, your pricing was right in line with comparable mainstream retailers like The Limited (of course), Gap, New York & Company, Ann Taylor, and White House|Black Market.  As for the complaints about fit, that will never be perfect. It’s impossible to make off-the-rack clothing that will fit every person perfectly. Proportions are different on every woman and some designs are simply meant to fit looser or tighter. However, that could have been mitigated with more in-store retailing.

Although I’m deeply disappointed in your decision, I will continue to shop Eloquii until the site closes down. However, I hope that you will do your best to put the brand in the hands of someone with the fortitude and foresight to give it a real shot of succeeding.

 

 

UPDATE 12/5/13

Eloquii will be back in spring 2014! More details at The Curvy Fashionista. I’ve definitely missed the brand and look forward to seeing what they do differently this time around. And I’m glad that the fashion industry is finally noticing that plus size women are not to be ignored!