Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gonna Make This Garden Grow (H&M Fitting Room Reviews)

I can't think of a better way to wait out rush hour traffic than wandering around Third Street Promenade (in Santa Monica) on a pleasant day.

Imagine my utter delight when I walked by and saw so many lovely and affordable things from H&M's new Garden Collection calling my name?

This collection is truly special, as it's not only pretty, but it gives a good ol' shout out to Mother Earth by using organic cottons and recycled materials. And because it's H&M, the price tag doesn't kill your pocketbook. What's not to love?!

So I think the first dress I tried on is the same one from the header image. I think. Now, this is how you know that I like contributing to this blog - I willingly took and am posting a photo of me in this dress.

Cotton Garden Collection Dress, $49.95:

I think you can tell by the look on my face how I feel about the way it fits. I felt like it accentuated all the things I didn't want it to accentuate - my small bust and my large hips. I grabbed a size 6 in this dress, and it felt about right. H&M tends to run a bit small in my opinion (Juniors/European sizing, I think), but I'd need a 6 in this just to be able to...uh..."hold up" the top. I feel a piece like this would work best on someone boy-shaped, as it'd add nice dimension to the hips. However, if you already have hips (like me), it might make you look and feel..."hippy-er." I just made that word up.

Hey, look how small my chest is!

The reason I'm not sure it's the same dress is because the top doesn't flare out the same way on me as it does on the model. Of course, I don't have the same dimensions as the model, but...who knows? I do like the detailing at the top, though I belong to the "I Wish I Was a Little Bigger on Top" club, and I didn't think the extra ruffles helped in any way. The empire-ish waist gives way to some nice pleating detail that flares out from your high waist, but then the skirt tapers in at the bottom, giving that extra definition to the hips I was talking about. Not a bad dress, but not for me.

Next up was this little tunic-y number, also from the Garden Collection, for $19.95:

I like this alot. The color is so pretty - like a blueish purple. I'm not sure whether to call it a tunic or a dress...or both. It kind of looks like a giant oversized tent, and you use the self-tie to cinch it in to your comfort. It's sheer, so you'd definitely need something underneath. (I had to kind of "cheat" my positioning so you couldn't see my underthings. Hey now, it's not that kind of blog!) Oooh, and it's got pockets!

I heart the ruffle-y sleeves:

Next up from the Garden Collection is the same tunic the model is wearing in the header image, for $24.95:

Okay, so on its own, it doesn't look like much. But for fun I decided to see what it looked like if I put a belt with it:

Better, huh?

I love the big, drapey, kimono-like sleeves - they feel like wings! And the scalloped edges have eyelet detailing on them. Super girlie and soft and pretty and fun. Comfortable, too! Me likey.

This skirt was actually displayed along with the Garden Collection, but it didn't bear the Garden Collection tag. Edit: Looking again, it would seem the skirt below actually is part of the Garden Collection. There was no Garden Collection tag on the skirt at Santa Monica, but there was at South Coast Plaza.

I had to give it a try though, for the nifty price tag of $17.95 (I love H&M):

The colors are very neutral and would go with alot - black, white, brown, beige, grey, pale pink, get the idea. I tried on a size 6 for this photo, but it was pretty snug. I could probably size up to an 8, though there weren't any 8s on the floor for me to try. This little skirt isn't lined, like a lot of H&M's other skirts, but it's also only $17.95 so I guess that makes sense.

Here's more of a closeup:

Hmmm...what happens if I pair this skirt with the pink Garden Collection tunic?

I think I like this!

(please pardon the dark-colored bra and the Hello Kitty phone charm, haha...)

I threw in my little black patent belt for fun, and I rather liked the combination. A fun little girlie outfit, for less than $50! (including tax!)

Now, I'm always looking for good things to wear with my leggings and skinny jeans, so I thought I'd try this over-sized shirt, for $14.95

(...what's with my weird expression? what the heck was I thinking, in this photo?)

Hmm...well, if nothing else, it's comfortable!

Yeah, it's basically a gigantic t-shirt with 3/4 sleeves, chest pocket and a roll-cuff detail. It's also longer in the back than it is in the front:

Interestingly, I liked it better when I had it on in the store than when I see the photo now. After looking at all the Garden Collection stuff I tried on, this just doesn't do anything for me anymore. Haha!

Next up...Rosa from Love at First Shop reviewed this on her blog, and when I saw it in the store I just had to give it a try:

I love the floral detailing on this dress! However, it's toooooo short on me. Actually, the reason I didn't take a full-length photo was because the store only had a size 2 left in stock, and it was way, way, way too short on my 5'8" frame. (though it tells you alot about how small I am on top, if I can get into a size 2, eh?) I suppose it would work as a tunic over leggings, but yeah. I think this dress works better on smaller girls. For $19.95, it's a steal!

The last few photos belong to a dress that looked so cute, on the hanger:

It retails for $34.95 and was also merchandised up with the Garden Collection, though it did not bear the Garden Collection tag.

(...this is me, being sarcastic)

I love pink, so I had to give this dress a try. It looked so cute on the hanger, and I loved the fluttery sleeves and all the detailing on the bodice. However, once I put it on, I felt it was way too "young," for me. Like I felt like I was trying to get away with looking like a schoolgirl. Sigh. I have to face facts - I'm just not that young anymore.

So that wraps up my H&M fitting room reviews. Thanks for reading, and happy shopping to all!

Tuesday Happened...Anthropologie's New Spring Arrivals

Hi everyone!  Hope the start of your workweek was smooth and stress-free.  I wanted to take a quick moment and draw attention to our new "About Us" photo, as well as our individual profile photos (you can see them when you click on our names, under the "About Us" photo).  These were taken by my enormously talented sister-in-law, Karen Eng, whose skill with a camera constantly delights and daunts us both.  The best part is, she managed to pull these off in my very messy house ("You want to take photos in my closet?! Seriously?" followed by a frantic few seconds of wondering if there was even a point to trying to make it presentable - there wasn't.  It would have taken a few days and a bulldozer to do that), with several small children underfoot and poor lighting (we used an Ikea desklamp).  You can see more of her work at her website Karen Frances Photography and her Flickr photostream as well.  Thanks, Karen!

Tuesday came, and we were all waiting, with bated breath to see what would go on sale at Anthropologie.  Then...nothing!  No sale items!  (Which is good, because I'm not supposed to be spending any money now and it's very helpful when things refuse to go on sale.) Doesn't it just figure though - right when I'd hardened my resolve to stop spending money on clothing (really, my closet is about to explode as it is), Anthropologie releases new spring arrivals.  Darn you, Anthropologie! (Shakes fist at sky in impotent rage.)  The worst part?  I don't even like spring clothes.  At least, not usually!  I'm a fall/winter fashion girl!  And yet, under the onslaught of this new cadre of spring arrivals,  my formerly hardened resolve is beginning to soften, like butter in the sun.  Like candy in the rain.  Like...sand sculptures under the tide....

This is the Banderole Tank (a mere $98).  I love how it's paired with the olive-colored utility pants.  I love how it's going to look, paired with my slim-leg cargos...

Speaking of things that will pair beautifully with pants, here's the Painted Roses Tunic ($78).  Can't you see wearing this with your favorite pair of comfy jeans on the weekend, strolling through the local farmers' market?  Or paired with skinny jeans and knee-high boots?  Or again, with some fun cargos or utility pants?  This one might break me...

Here are two beautiful things: the Coil Flower Tank ($58) and the Diamond Flame Skirt ($168).  Both of these items look beautiful together and will play just as nicely with other items in my closet.  I especially want the skirt.  (Is it just me, or does every item at Anthropologie that makes your heart sing seem to be over $150?  Argh...)

As to singing hearts, look at this darling skirt!  I've decided that straight/pencil-shaped skirts work well on me, and oh, I really really think I want this one.  It's the Penciled Abronia Skirt ($88) and I'm imagining this with a cute cami and cardigan - haha, any number of cute camis and cardigans, actually.  Or, with a crisp white shirt tucked into it.  Or a fitted tee and belt.  Or...or...

This is the Sketched Danios Dress ($158), and when I saw it, I thought, "Oh, Anita and Karen would look so good in that!"  Anita?  Karen?  (My lovely sisters-in-law.) Are you reading this?  I know it's really really expensive, but oh, so pretty!  I haven't put on a sheath dress that loves me in a long time, but maybe this will be the one...

Last (for now), but certainly not least, is the Cooling Palette Dress ($188).  How sweet is this little number for the spring and summer? Sigh...

And, here's what I would love to see go on sale, should I have the discretionary income to indulge:

Ode to Spring Tank
Foliage Fancy Tee
Sprinkled Shells Tank
Free Flow Tank
Painted Roses Tunic
Tuberose Tank

These would all look so amazing with the cardigans I ordered from Nordstrom, during their Triple Points event a couple weeks ago!  Oh, and speaking of things I can't afford, here's a bag my friend Lisa and I saw last weekend, and are now actively desiring:

It's the Cerulean Wave Bag ($180) and it's a bag I absolutely don't need.  But would you look at that amazing blue?  And if only you could see all the pockets!  There's a magnetic flap pocket on the outer front, with a zip pocket just behind it.  Then, the main compartment is divided into three more spaces - a center zippered pocket, with two magnetic-button closure pockets flanking it.  I don't know about the rest of you ladies, but there's nothing I love more than a bag that helps me stay organized and keeps everything within easy reach.  The last and possibly most awesome feature of this bag?    That strap, which is long enough to make this a cross-body bag can be shortened, transforming this darling little number into a shoulder bag.

It's a transformer!  More than meets the eye! (This is what I say to my husband, when attempting to convince him of the coolness of handbags like this one. It doesn't really work, but he humors me.)  Anyway, my birthday is in April, which means I should be getting my birthday coupon from Anthro soon.  This may be what I decide to use it on.  Or one of the items I listed above.  We shall see...

OOTDs and more fitting room reviews coming soon!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Death!

I'm fairly certain Patrick Henry didn't have pretty clothes in mind when he made his famous speech to the Virginia Convention over 235 years ago, but Target's Liberty of London Collection is so cute and so well-made, it inspired me to hit up seven Target stores in one day.

Yes, you read that right. Seven.

You see, I'd seen the collection at Target and I'd read some reviews on Rosa's blog, but I'd waffled a bit over whether I wanted any of it for myself. But then, after seeing Carol wear the Tiered Ruffle Keyhole Tank (which she styled so awesomely, by the way!) I grew more interested. Haha, Carol always inspires me to push the envelope, when it comes to prints. The problem was, by the time I'd decided I wanted some of the pieces after all, all the stores seemed to be sold out of my size. It took me seven different stores to track down the pieces that I wanted, and even then, I didn't find everything. I was able to track down both of the ruffled halter dresses (in the Pink Martha Grace print and in Multi Color Sixty print) and the Tiered Ruffle Keyhole Tank that Carol bought.

Then I really fell in love, after seeing the Sateen Shift Dress in Pink Garla Print on Carol's lovely and talented sister-in-law, Karen:

The quality of the dress is amazing for the $34.99 price tag. The cut is extremely flattering, the fabric has a substantial weight, and the colors just really pop. The dress is fully lined, to boot~ It's such a great little shift dress and perfect for spring!

Unfortunately, I never was able to locate my size. I tried on a size 8 (the smallest one I could find, at first) and it hung on me like a potato sack. At the next store, I was able to find a 6 (my typical go-to size, when it comes to dresses), but there was still room to spare. I never found a smaller size. Boo!

I do have a lead on a size 4, from a Target up in Central California. My friend lives up there, they're going let me know if they find it. I'll keep you posted if it works out. Fingers crossed!

Haha, I just have to mention Karen's statement, "I had to come all the way to California to buy a Liberty of London dress!" (Karen actually lives in England. But the price of a "real" LoL dress is so high, none of us working-folk could actually afford one.)

So here's me, in the Ruffled Halter in Martha Grace Print:

I do like this dress, but I can't decide if I'll keep both of the ruffled halter dresses just yet. I think it depends on if I manage to successfully track down the Sateen Shift.

So, darling readers, I'll leave off with my OOTD, which is really just a tribute to the lovely Kelly.

Here's her outfit:

And here's mine:

I'm wearing:

Sweater: Nordstrom Double V-Neck Tunic (super-old, purchased at Anniversary Sale in 2005? - similar here)
Leggings: Express Sexy Stretch Legging
Boots: Cole Haan (also super-old, purchased back in 2004? - similar here)
Silver Necklace: H&M (similar here and here)
Long Pearl Necklace: Nordstrom Brass Plum (similar here)

Well, I'm not nearly as gorgeous as Kelly, but I sure admire her style! The outfit actually worked out well, as I found myself at the Ducks game tonight, to honor Teemu Selanne on his 600 career NHL goals. (and trust me, readers - Teemu's scored some very pretty goals in his career. He's also got a lovely personality, so I think he counts as "pretty" *grin*) This outfit was very comfortable, and it kept me warm enough inside the ice rink.

Welp. That's it for now. I'm going to hit the hay and hope for lots and lots of pretty things to go on sale at Anthro on Tuesday. Ciao for now!

In Kelly We Trust, Part 2

Hey everyone!  Hope you had a wonderful weekend.  I had a great one - my friend Lisa was in town for a conference, so she stopped by and visited me and we - surprise, surprise - went shopping together (fun!) Then the next day, my brother Paul had an event in San Diego, and we got to hang out some too, which was nice.  I also attended my first San Diego In Real Life (sdIRL) event, which was really interesting.  I met a lot of veteran bloggers and people who've been active in the social media scene for a while, and felt inspired by their openness and creativity.  There are some very cool people in that group.  Not to mention, they held their meet-up at this great neighborhood bar/eatery called the Station Tavern & Burgers - yum!  I think I might have had the best tater tots ever...and I haven't eaten tater tots since the 6th grade, so that's saying something.

Let's get back though, to the business at hand, which is the second half of our interview with Kelly McPheters, Nordstrom Personal Stylist (the first half of the interview is here.)

Kelly Interview - Part 2
(PT=Pretty Things, K=Kelly)

PT: What's your favorite black pant?  You know, the most awesome black pant ever, since that's one of those things that everybody needs...

K: Oh...that's a toughie - because there are so many different body shapes.  My favorite black pant is a Theory black pant.  I'm a big Theory person, but Theory only fits you if you're boy-shaped.  You have to have thinner hips and a boy-shaped waist, so straight up and down.  For a Nordstrom brand, my best one by far, is Classiques [Entier]...

PT (Carol): Which I just bought...

K: Yeah, exactly, because it fits all shapes whether you're boy-shaped, pear-shaped, curvy, hippy, anything.  And then you've got the wide waistband this year, with the three-button detail, bootcut [style] - which you always want a nice bootcut [leg], slim through the hips...

PT: And it's just really nice and drapes well...

K: Yeah, nice and drapes well.  And that's a good fabric - it's 98% wool, 2% spandex, a little stretch to it...for Nordstrom, that's definitely my favorite.  I haven't seen a lot of other black pants that I'm in love with.  Well, if you want to step it up, Armani makes - I mean, if you want a good pair of black pants -

PT: (bursts into laughter)

K:  Armani makes a good black pant.  You can put those pants on anyone, and they are flawless...but you're paying for the quality of the fabric and the construction.  So, number one, Armani, number two, Classiques.

PT: And if you happen to have a boy-shape, then Theory?

K: Yeah, Theory's awesome for you.  I happen to have a boy-shape...

PT: Yeah, you suck (laughter).  Okay, our next question...another basic.  What's your favorite denim?

K: Ooh...there's so many!  Hudson is my best across the board.  Hudson's the easiest fit, best looking, the flap pockets draw all the attention up to the top of the bum, and they're not big, big pockets, so I really love Hudsons.  They're a go-to for anyone and anything.

PT (Carol): Even my husband.

K: Yeah!  Even Carol's husband.  It's true!

PT (Kathryn): You bought your husband Hudsons?  He has Hudsons?  You didn't tell me this...

K: Yes!  They looked mean on him; they looked good!

PT (Carol): The only thing he didn't like was the button-fly.

K: It was random...the men's [design] had a button-fly.  It was very kind of Levi's, was a great dark rinse.  Uh...after that, I usually go to Joe's.  Their "Honey" cut jean is awesome.  It's kind of a curvy shape.  Or their "Muse" - it's kind of a high-rise, a high-waisted trouser cut, which is amazing.  The "Ginger" by 7 for All Mankind, which is their trouser-cut denim, in a dark wash is amazing:  high rise, fitted, nice flair at the bottom.  I've never been a fan of True Religions, because of the fact that when they started coming out, the pockets all sat down to your mid-thigh.  I thought that it made everybody's butts look smushed and low.  So, [getting back to denim recommendations] those are pretty middle-of-the-road jeans.  If you're a mom...if you have a need for something a little different, maybe a higher rise than what we offer in the TBD department, it's David Kahn jeans for sure.  They're unbelievable.  For designer denim...Dylan George, probably.

Oh, you know what else?  Among the other consultations we do - I like to think of myself as a pseudo-life coach, in getting some people out of their ruts.  I coach people on ditching the nylons and going for a spray-tan instead.  Or when somebody needs help with their hair, [I can give recommendations] for salons.  We do really try and impact people's lives - really change their whole look.  If they're not happy, [we'll try to help them] fix it.

PT: Favorite cosmetic line?

K: I use Laura Mercier - love it.  I use Laura Mercier, blended with MAC, because Laura Mercier's all natural.  Great skincare, very subtle, but I need MAC's colors every once in a while.  Other favorites are Bobbi Brown, Trish McEvoy.  If you can afford Chanel, Chanel's amazing.  It is pricey.  You can bridge into it [with age], because they've got the colors, they've got the skincare, but you have to pay $300 for your moisturizer.  So, until then, there's Bobbi Brown and whatnot.  I still swear by Clinique's mascara though.  I wouldn't use MAC's skincare or their mascara, but their color palettes are awesome.  You've got to be careful not to use too much of that over a certain age.  I've had clients come in, who are in their mid-40's, saying, "I just got my make-up done at MAC!" and [I'll recommend they] not do that again, that they go to Bobbi Brown.

PT:  What about skincare?

K:  Okay, the best you can get is a new line.  It's called 3LAB.  This is the Chanel of skincare, though.  If you start using it when you're young, you won't need botox, facials, plastic surgery, anything.  I've used trial samples of it and have seen differences in my skin.  I had...a couple glasses of wine one evening...(laughter from PT) eyes can sometimes get a little puffy.  I put the eye cream on before I went to bed, and woke up and was like, "I look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed!" It was perfect - it was flawless.  I didn't even look like I'd had a beverage.

PT (Kathryn):  And they carry it here?  Can we get a sample?  I have sensitive skin...

K: Yeah!  It's new, it's amazing.  Yeah, absolutely [you can get a sample].  Their eye cream is a couple hundred dollars, but their face stuff is good.  3LAB...

PT: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us?

K: Favorite shoe, Prada.

PT: (Gasps and sighs)

K:  I feel though, that Prada shoes are shoes you can buy in your 20's and still be wearing in your 60's.  They're timeless.  And so comfortable!

PT: Thanks so much, Kelly!

And thanks to you, our lovely readers, for hanging in there, with such a long post.  Just for fun, here's Kathryn's OOTD:

Dress: Juicy Couture Linen Spaghetti Strap Dress (from Summer 2007?)
Cardigan: Nordstrom Brass Plum 3/4 Sleeve Cardigan in White
Ring: Oh, Hello Friend
Sandals: BCBGirls Silver Rhinestone Metallic Leather Thong(style #XZ-0001, found at Nevada Primm Outlets, Summer 2005) similar here

Have a great Monday!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Brass Plum Dressing Room Reviews

Happy Saturday, friends!  Hope your day's been great so far.  =)  Today is a ridiculously beautiful day here in San Diego - sunny, clear, mid-70's...sometimes, I wonder what I did to deserve living in a place like this.  I must have been awfully good in a past life to merit it, is all I can imagine.

Kathryn works with college students, and from what we understand, a few of them have become readers of our blog (which we appreciate enormously!).  She received some feedback, however, that some of them felt discouraged because we tend to review things that they can't afford (us too, friends - just because we're trying these things on, doesn't mean we're actually buying them, sadly).  So, when we were at Nordstrom the other day, interviewing Kelly, we also stopped by the Brass Plum department and checked out some things.  Just one caveat - we tended to choose things that might be acceptable for a 30-something woman to wear, which means a LOT of the very cute stuff in Brass Plum gets ruled out.  Also, Kathryn hadn't yet figured out how to take photos of herself with her giant DSLR camera, so we weren't able to get pics of her stuff - which is too bad, because she was really cute in some of her choices.

I've been looking for a floral skirt to pair with my Professoressa jacket (cached link) or my All Yours blazer (cached link).  This floral skirt by Susina ($36) was darling, with a smocked waistband and fuller skirt, if on the shorter side.  On my 5'2" frame, it hit at an inch or so above the knee, when worn slightly lower, and not at my true waist.  On taller women or girls, this skirt would definitely be short - which might be fine if you're in your teens or early-20's. I think this would definitely meet my needs, except I wasn't sure about whether this was the right color to go with the All Yours blazer.  I decided to wait until I could bring the jacket in to try out with the skirt, together.

This was another Susina skirt I grabbed to try out.  It was on the sale rack, and at $15.90, it was a steal.  This skirt was a little longer than the first, and I liked it better for me, for that reason.  Still, it had a slightly frumpy waist happening - didn't quite fit - though, for the price, I wasn't about to quibble.  Decided to wait, again, until I could bring in my jackets to make sure the colors played well together.  I know I'm taking a risk, as it is a sale item, but there were a lot of them on the rack, so hopefully it'll still be around.  If not, it probably wasn't meant to be.

This tank top from Soprano ($28) caught my eye, and I really liked it on.  The fabric is soft and the tank fit comfortably.  It has a fun bow/ruffle detail to add interest, and I could imagine it would pair well with a cardigan and skirt or even just with jeans or a pair of cargo pants.  This one is definitely welcome to my closet.

Another Brass Plum offering that came home with me is this necklace ($20), which is so cute, I can't believe it only cost $20!  It totally looks like it could be selling for $48 at Anthropologie, and it's not quite as yellow in real life, as it looks in this photo.  It's got more of a cream-and-pale-gray tone.  Anyway, I love, love, love this necklace, and you can see how I wore it with my Matrushka dress here.  I don't know what the brand for this is, but in case you want one, the sku # is 605532217607.

Here's a top that I tried on, which I also really liked.  Unfortunately, I didn't take down the name of the maker, but I do think it was about $36.  This sweetly floral tiered ruffle top almost made it home with me, until Kathryn pointed out that what I really wanted was the Free Flow Tank, and $36 could make a good dent in the cost of that.  She was, of course, right.  Still, if the cost of the Free Flow Tank is really just too much to stomach, this darling little top might be a good substitute.  (In stores now).

Some other Brass Plum items I'd been hoping to find in-store weren't there, but they include the following:

This is the H.I.P. Ruffled Print Cami ($32), which I thought would look absolutely adorable under a cardigan.  Can't you just see those pretty floral ruffles peeping out from under a sweater?  Love it!  It comes in 3 different colors, and I wish I could have found them in my store.

Here's another nice "underpinning" type of top.  This is the Lush Rosette Ruffle Tank ($28), and it also comes in black and a heather-gray.

This Susina sweater, called the "Half Ruffle Cardigan" on the website ($44) was available last summer for the Anniversary Sale, and I know that Kathryn got one.  I, to my everlasting regret, decided against mine at the last minute, so I either have to a) buy it at full price, b) go without, or c) hope that they decide to offer it again this year at the Anniversary sale.  I'm holding out for option C, before deciding between A or B.

The Roxy "Popadom" top ($44.50) is a surprisingly grown-up and sophisticated top for a Juniors department like Brass Plum.  I really wish I could have found this in the store, because I would love to try it on.  I love the lace insets and the texture of the gauze blouse.  This one may be worth ordering online, to check out in real life.  After all, with Nordy's no-hassle open return policy, I can always take it back if it's not what I hoped.

Happy Saturday evening, everyone!

In Kelly We Trust, or Kelly McPheters, Nordstrom Personal Stylist Interview - part 1

Hi everyone!  Hope you all had a great Friday and are enjoying your weekend.  We apologize for the brief hiatus - things have been pretty crazy with work, family commitments, and going out "to the field" (as we call it in social science research...which you could sort of say this is?) to gather material for you, our wonderful readers.  Today, we're posting the first of two transcripts (some of it paraphrased, for sanity's sake) of an interview we conducted with Kelly McPheters, Personal Stylist Extraordinaire at Nordstrom in the Fashion Valley Mall, here in sunny San Diego.  Kathryn came down from Orange County to help me with this, and is responsible for the wonderful photos.

Kelly Interview - Part 1
(PT = Pretty Things, K = Kelly)

PT: So, we had a reader submit a question asking, do you work full time as a stylist?  How do you acquire clients? Does the store attract clients for you? Or do you seek them out on your own?  How does that work?

K: So, I do work full-time as a stylist - it is my actual 9 to 5, 11 to 7, 12 to 9 job that I have.  I work five days a week at the store, and basically the way that I attract my clients is that there are call-ins to the store by people requesting a personal stylist's help.  Or, I might just be working on the floor, grab a customer in any department, and be able to assist them with their shopping in that department, and then educate them to the fact that I can actually help them outside that department, throughout the whole store: through shoes, accessories, jewelry, and then help them do their whole outfits from head to toe.  Nordstrom does marketing on our behalf, through  They are advertising in the catalogues now, that personal stylists are of no charge and are available at any and every store.  At our store, right now, there will be a personal stylist available every hour that we are open.  That's a new thing - not all the stores have it yet - but as of this week, [the Fashion Valley Nordstrom] will have a personal stylist available every hour that we are open.

PT: Wow, that's great!

K: (Nods, smiling) Mmhm!  However, since we do work by appointment, even if there is someone here, if that person is booked, then you might just have to call back and make an appointment.  It is an appointment-based service.  Oh, and referrals are a great source [for clients].  (Laughs) My favorite clients give me their friends.

PT:  How popular has the service been since Nordstrom started advertising in their catalogues?

K:  Well, what's changed is that people have realized that it doesn't have to be, "I want to come in and spend $3000." People have realized that it can be, "I need some new pieces for my wardrobe and I've got $300 to spend."  Or, "I just had my kids.  I haven't shopped for three years.  I have a $1000 to spend."  But not everybody thinks now, that they have to have either a) a special occasion or b) a whole wardrobe overhaul to need a personal stylist.  We're more well-versed than most of the other store employees in [what] the whole store [has to offer], and that makes us a little more educated at the one-on-one styling.  There has been an increase in business, and it's been great, because people are believing it's more accessible and something they deserve and can have, no matter what their budget is.

PT:  Well that leads us to another question that we have, which is what is the range of services you provide?  For instance, I know that you work in the store, but I've also heard that you've gone to some clients' homes, and worked with their closets?

K:  Yes...doing the closets is really kind of up to the personal stylists.  Some store managers encourage it, and some store managers, not as much.  You could say it's kind of a gift of the stylist to the client, but it's also a great way for the stylist to get to know a client's wardrobe better.  When I do come and "do" a closet, I'll have the client clean their closet from head to toe, really gutting it, and organizing it to the best of their ability.  Then, I'll come in and take their existing wardrobe, put outfits together, and find out where the holes are - what we need to shop for on their next shopping trip, basically.  The range of other services include helping you, one-on-one, to put together outfits, helping you find great pieces during the sales, keeping an eye out for any special needs, so that you don't have to come in and hunt for your own pieces.  For instance, if there's a shoe that's calling Carol's name or Kathryn's name, I'll call and let you know that there's this amazing shoe that's waiting for you in the store.  You have me, looking out for your wardrobe.

PT:  Let's say you're going to build someone's wardrobe from scratch.  What are the essentials every woman should start with?

K: Ah, you need...there's actually a great list in InStyle: The Style Guide, of all the pieces you need for fall and all the pieces you need for spring.  (Begins listing things on fingers) You need a great pair of dark-washed trouser-cut denim; you need a great pair of casual jeans.  You need your best pair of black pants.

PT (Carol):  I need a pair of dark-wash trouser-cut denim!

K: (laughter) It's on your list!  A good dark wash is great.  You need the perfect cardigan you can throw on with everything, and then probably a black blazer or something along those lines - usually a black suit  that you can take the pieces - the black pencil skirt and the black jacket - and swap those in and out of your wardrobe.  You need a perfect black pump, and a perfect black boot, and then probably the same thing with a neutral pump or a brown boot as well.  You need a great pair of wedges, open-toed, and a great pair of flat sandals.  You need t-shirts in your best colors.  A good crisp white blouse, and then a couple of "pop" pieces, pieces that just stand out and scream your name.  I'm trying to think of my staples this staples this year for my wardrobe have been my black ponte-knit pants and my knee-high boots, oversized sweater, my boyfriend blazer...during the summer I need any pair of lightweight Theory pants that I can find, with my Jimmy Choo espadrilles.  Then I like to get a pop of color through the blouse, and then a cute little lightweight jacket over it.  The long-layered necklaces have been essential for fall and we're getting those pops of color in the long-layered necklaces for spring.  Don't forget the accessories - the jewelry and scarves that you can add in to make those pops of color.

That's the first portion of our interview with Kelly.  In the second half, Kelly will give us her favorite recommendations for all the essentials - black pants, jeans, etc! (Part 2 of the interview now available here.)  Meanwhile, here are our OOTDs:

Dress: Matrushka Construction, Veritian Dress
Shoes: Charles David (2006?)
Necklace: Nordstrom, Brass Plum (March 2010)

Dress: Anthropologie, Color-Drenched Dress (2009)
Cardigan: Banana Republic, cotton, 3/4 sleeve (2006)
Belt: Forever 21, red faux croc, skinny (2010)
Earrings: "So Good Jewelry," (a little shop on Melrose), rhinestone hoops

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Inquiring Minds Want to Know...

Hey everyone! Hope you're all having a great week so far - it's Thursday! Whoohoo! I love Thursdays because they're so close to Friday, which means it's nearly the weekend. It's nice to have something to look forward to, don't you think?

So, for the late Thursday night/Friday post, we're going to do something different. We'll be conducting an interview with Kelly McPheters, Personal Stylist for Nordstrom and will be posting it right here. We're super excited about this, but we also want to know, what would you like to know? Do you have any questions you'd like us to ask Kelly? Are there any style conundrums you've been wanting to get addressed? Any services you want the fine print on? Or maybe you're curious about what the life of a Personal Stylist is like? If you've got a question let us know. Our interview is scheduled to take place at about 12:30 PM PST, so if there is something you'd like to ask, leave us a comment by then.

Here's Kathryn's OOTD, in one of the happiest places on earth:

Dress: Anthropologie "Maeshowe Dress" by Moulinette Soeurs
Tights: Frenchi Ribbed Sweater Tights in Heather Grey
Belt: Snakebite Belt
Boots: Frye
Earrings: Oh, Hello Friend
Castle: Sleeping Beauty, Disneyland, Anaheim, CA

Kathryn here - I just wanted to add a little note about the Maeshowe dress. When Carol showed me this dress over instant messenger back in the Fall of 2009, I honestly didn't think too much of it at the time. (what with my fear of prints and all...) But then she happened to be wearing it when we met up with Kelly for Customer Appreciation Night, and I couldn't take my eyes off the dress. This was the dress that inspired me to try wearing prints again, and I get tons of compliments whenever I wear it. It's so much prettier on than it is on the hanger. I've styled it here very much like how Carol was wearing it that December day - with grey tights, boots and a belt.) It was a little tough, walking around Disneyland in this outfit...but I actually didn't know I'd be going to Disneyland after work. Haha! But hey, what a fun place to take an OOTD photo, eh? Anyway, all that to say...I love this dress!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Baby Liberty of London and Happy Birthday Giveaway Winner!

Hi everyone! Hope you had a great Tuesday. My Tuesday was pretty good, despite the mid-day dentist appointment (and to be totally fair, Dr. Melanie Murphy is really wonderful, and my appointments are as pleasant as dental appointments can possibly be). So, when I was out shopping for Liberty of London stuff for me, I also picked up a few things for my 8 month-old daughter, Kate. Here she is, modeling some of her new outfits.

This little dress is really beautiful and well made. The fabric is a light cotton lawn, and the top is lined. The skirt is actually two layers - the top, printed skirt, and an underskirt, that's a creamy off-white, with a pink floral (same fabric as that around the collar) ruffled trim. There's a button closure in the back. Comes with a matching diaper-cover.

Here she is, doing her "Blue Steel" look (haha, sorry - Zoolander reference):

Here she is in a darling little romper:

This sweet little romper has a smocked bodice, with little spaghetti straps and ballooned shorts on the bottom. Snap closure at the crotch.

Shirt and shorts: Liberty of London for Target, Swing Top Set, pink/white ($12.99)

I love the little details (check out the keyhole and bow on the sleeves) in this otherwise simple garment. The top sports floral trim around the collar and sleeve-hem, as well as a butterfly-shaped floral-print appliqué with embroidery. Matching balloon shorts, in the floral print. Super cute!

Overall, I'm really pleased with the quality of the Liberty of London items - both for children and adults. The only complaint I have regarding the infant clothing (and it's minor) is that rather than stamp the label information onto the inside of the clothing, they used traditional, itchy labels - big ones, too. I'm going to have to cut them all out before letting her wear them for a prolonged time, in order to prevent skin irritation.

Here are our OOTDs:

Dress: Anthropologie Lolland Dress, size XS
Jacket: Gap (pretty old...2001?)

Top: Anthropologie Vanilla Bean Blouse, by Yoanna Baraschi, Size 2
Pants: Anthropologie trousers by Cartonnier (the ones I bought for $19.95)
Bracelet: (reeeeaally old pearl bracelet)

Wedding Set: Tam & Wong Jewelry
Cameo Ring: Oh, Hello Friend

Shoes: Charles David Wedge Heels (old...circa 2000?) 

And last but not least, the winner of our Happy Birthday Giveaway:


Congratulations! (We counted 27 names down the list of comments, skipping any dupilicate entries and Carol's comment to arrive at McManda's name.) Please email me at Carol [dot] prettythings [at] gmail [dot] com with your mailing address, and we'll get your prize out to you!

(Kathryn would like to add that it's a mere coincidence that the number "27" happens to be Scott Niedermayer's jersey number.)

Thanks everyone!