Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mixing It Up (Remembering Mix Tapes and More Fitting Room Reviews)

The other day, I was waxing nostalgic about mix tapes.  Do you remember those?  It's what we had before we were able to "shuffle" on MP3 players and burn CDs with whichever tracks from whichever albums we want, on iTunes.  You used a cassette tape, and either had a dubbing machine (which allowed you to record from one cassette tape or even CD directly onto another cassette tape - this was my favored technique) or you would have a cassette tape primed to record directly from the radio.  My DH has fond memories of tapes his older (then teenaged) sisters living in the U.S., made for him when he was in elementary school, living in South Korea (his dad had an engineering job there) - tapes containing songs by Duran Duran, the Smiths, and Crowded House.  From those mix tapes, he heard and learned to love songs like Major Tom (the Peter Schilling version) and 40 by U2. I find something really poignant and touching in the image of an older sister, sitting within reach of her radio/cassette player, waiting for certain songs to be played, so that she could tape it for her younger brother's musical edification and enjoyment.

Image by Robbie Daw

I, too, have given and received mix tapes as gifts.  I remember how special these little cassettes would be, particularly because it was so hard to make a mix tape in multiples - it isn't at all like burning a playlist onto a bunch of cds these days (though, those are also fun to receive).  You had to spend a lot of time assembling the tape, and generally, there was a lot of thought that went into choosing those songs.  The best ones were accompanied by letters that explained the significance of the choice of song, and had the names of the songs and artists written, in the hand of the giver, directly onto the liner of the cassette case.  It's true that you can create beautiful cd labels these days, using computers and color printers, but just like the difference between a handwritten letter and an email, there's something special in the carefully penned words on those liner notes - especially when the lines were too short for the name of the song and  the name of the artist, and all the letters got scrunched together or really tiny.  So much better than an automatic "..." inserted by iTunes.  What songs were on your favorite mix tapes?  Were they gifts or did you make them for yourself? (Have I totally outed myself as *gulp* old?)

Here are a few more fitting room reviews:

This is the Dried Leaves Dress ($158) in an XS.  I found this boiled wool dress to be very comfy and pretty as well - so far, it seems that people are ambivalent about the embellishment on the neckline, but I rather liked it.  Here's my problem with it - it's not very forgiving.  It doesn't do much, nothing really,  to help disguise the odd lump or pooch and well, there are so many other pretty dresses that will and do!  So for what it's worth, as much as I like this dress otherwise, I won't be buying it for that reason.  This dress is a pull-on style, dry-clean only, and is true to size.

Here is the Embraceable Tee ($58) in the XS size.  This is a top that Heather pulled for me as well, and i was so pleasantly surprised by this one!  I found myself liking the shape of the neckline and the embellishment along it - I thought it creaeted a wonderful frame for the throat and face.  Also, I really liked the button-and-ruching detail on the cuff of the shirtsleeves.  I did find myself wishing that it came in some more enticing colors - maybe a dark red or even a navy.  Instead, there is this brown, an ivory, and a chartreuse - a yellow-green color that's...well, yellow-green.  Still, very pretty and I'm definitely curious to check the ivory for sheerness (because for some reason, so many of Anthro's white or ivory tops are - sheer, that is). The top itself was quite long on me, and the sleeves were pretty long too.  Because of the embellishment, this is a handwash only, so trying to shrink it in the washer and dryer is probably not a possibility (unless you're a risk-taker, like me).  Petite women may find this too long in the torso or sleeve to be wearable.  Wishlisted for sale.

***Edited*** This is the Phlox and Coral Coat ($288) in a size 0.  What a pretty coat!  I loved the black and white accented with the coral buttons and trim.  The quality of the materials is great, the construction is impressive, and overall, if you're looking for a statement coat, this is a good option.  My only issue?  Despite the product page declaring this an "all occasion" coat, I'm not convinced it's terribly versatile.  The embroidered flowers are a little busy, and I felt it sort of overwhelmed my smaller frame, meaning, rather than feeling like I was wearing the coat, it was more along the lines of, the coat was wearing me. ***Please note that the coat runs big - petite women may be sized out of this one, as I'm usually a 2, and in the photo above, I'm wearing a 0, quite comfortably (thanks Jamie, for prompting me to double check my notes on this one).***  Lovely, but a pass.

I saw the Slanted Plaid Blouse ($88) in the window of the Carlsbad Anthropologie store first, and immediately loved it.  Such a pretty blue-gray plaid and such lovely feminine details.  I knew right off that a cute, cotton tunic like this would find a happy place in the wardrobe of a working mom. That is, until I put it on.  Fit-wise, it was great.  The (tunic) length was good, the self-belt tied at my true waist, the details were all there...but what is with the sheerness?  Seriously???  Why, oh why are 4 out of 5 tops at Anthropologie sheer???  In the photos above, you can see where the waistline of the pants I'm wearing meets my belly.  I hate that - it's such an unfinished look.  And wearing a cami underneath won't help, unless it's a darker colored one, in which case, it'll change the whole look (tonally) of the top.  Such a disappointment.  Pass, pass, pass (and a big, sad, unhappy face).  Please, Anthro, please consider asking your vendors to use more opaque fabrics for their tops.  Please???

Here are the Whipped Topping Top ($58) and Made to Measure Skirt ($138).  Let's talk about the top first. I have on the XS, and I'd say it runs a bit big, simply because of its slightly blousy fit.  Tucked into a skirt (see above right), it behaved like any other tee.  It has fluttery sleeves, and an interestingly elasticized (for lack of a better word) collar/neckline.  It's very bunchy (hence the name of the shirt - it really is sort of like a mound of whipped cream) and I found the shape of the neckline rather awkward, when in its natural state.  When I grabbed the "corners" of it, and pulled it out so that it stretched more of over my shoulders, into more of a bateau, or boatneck shape, it looked prettier.  Only problem?  It didn't really stay that way, and I kept having to tug it back into place, much like the situation with the Eze Sur Mer top.  Wishlisted for further consideration, though, as this top isn't sheer. (Phew.)

When I saw the skirt, I gasped out loud - I love the great tartaned, "Highlander" feel of it.  It's practically a kilt.  Looking at it, I was transported to the moors of Scotland, standing amidst the heather, wind against my skin, horse's reins in my hand, a shawl clutched about my shoulders to ward off the chill....  Oh, right.  Wait.  I'm Asian and I live in San Diego.  Wow.  Sorry about that.  Yes, well, it's a very nice, draped version of the tweed pencil skirt.  The plaid is really a very traditional sort of tartan pattern, and the brown and neutral colors of this skirt are really great for the fall and winter.  I'm wearing a size 2, and it's pretty TTS.  That being said, once it was on me, I wasn't sure if it wasn't too big in scale for my 5'2" self.  Sometimes, it seemed to be fine, and sometimes, it seemed too big.  Which was weird, because it fit well, overall.  I think that the gathers for the draping create an unwieldiness that my petite frame doesn't carry off very well - or at least, not perfectly.  In terms of tweed pencil skirts, I think I'll go with the In the Trees Skirt, but this may work beautifully on normal to taller women.

So, how worried are you about the purported Labor Day Sale that starts tomorrow?  I'm telling you, I'm really rather afraid to look....


  1. You look cute as a button in the plaid tunic, boo hiss to sheerness! I also love how you turned the whipped topping top from drab to fab by tucking it in with the belt. Great ensemble : )

  2. HEy Carol
    oh yes, i remember the days when mixed tapes were all the rage (about 17 years ago?!). the songs on my mixed tapes are a bit too embarrassing!
    I had Shanice's 'saving forever for you' as i went through a 90210 stage (DYLAN!), and i also had a crush on Jeremy Jordan, so he was on there too - how sad!
    I just love the whipped topping tee combined with the Made to MEasure skirt and belt - its a great look for fall.
    the black and white coat is a bit too busy for my liking though.
    thanks for the reviews
    Jen @

  3. Oh man, do I ever miss mix tapes! They were all the rage with my high school friends and I back in the day! We used to make them for eachother all the time! Those were the days...

    I love the Embraceable Top on you - picked that one up myself in gray (they call it ivory), and I really like the yellow color too! The Dried Leaves Dress looks great on you too!

  4. Nice Carol!

    I can now cross the Dried Leaves dress off my Wish List - Having seen it on you (petite one) I can see it won't suit me at all. So thanks! I am always happy to cut the looong list down!

    I really liked the Whipped Topping top with the crazy neckline on you - I tried the purple/grey and have it on my list too. Totally with you about the tops and their sheerness - it is beyond cheeky to charge good money for these things and have them be see-through! Over it!

    And I have my iPod on shuffle atm but used to LOVE to sit by the radio quickly pressing 'record' to get the latest songs. I hated it when the announcers talked over the start of the songs and ruined my tapes!

  5. Wow, the Made to Measure Skirt is totally made for you!

    I agree with you on the Dried Leaves Dress -- it is cute, but not particularly flattering, and also, what is up with that price? Insanity. It is a simple boiled wool sheath. I feel like they jacked up the price at least $70 for those floral embellishments!

    I reviewed the Phlox & Coral this morning. You have better willpower and stronger logic than I do :) I've already convinced myself that it will TOTALLY go with everything, though I am pretty sure I am just lying to myself...all the prettiness has me in denial ;)

  6. (Oh, and about the Dried Leaves, I was speaking from my own experience -- I have more problem areas for it to not flatter by far! ;))

  7. You look great in the Phlox and Coral coat! But I agree that it might be a difficult piece to wear. I did a review of it on my blog (, partly for sizing reference for Laura at Anthro Closet Chaos, who is several hours away from the nearest Anthro. So sad!

    Did you find the P&C true to size? I thought it was very generously sized. I usually wear a 4-6 in Anthro (and definitely a 6 in coats), but the 2 fit me best in the P&C. So strange...

  8. heck yeah, I remember and made mix tapes fondly. I'm totally outing myself by saying sometimes we would record them from the radio and the ends of the song would have the dj talking. oh, how i loved those tapes. I probably have them boxed up somewhere but the trick is how the heck to play them! i don't know if we even have a cd player anywhere, yet alone a tape player!

  9. Oh, the Made-to-measure skirt looks fabulous on you! I think you're so proportionately petite that it doesn't overwhelm you at all. Awesome.

    Thanks for the nostalgia- my boyfriend and I lived many miles apart for the first years of our relationship so we'd express ourselves through mix tapes for each other. I love how sometimes you'd get these fabulous accidents, like one tape where the last song ended and he accidentally filled the last few minutes with the sounds of himself puttering around the empty apartment- just the sort of everyday sounds you miss when you're apart for months at a time!
    I still expect certain Smiths or Pixies songs to feed into De la soul or Beastie boys!!

  10. My ex boyfriend made me quite a few mix tapes (they were cd's) several years ago and I actually still listen to them (don't tell my husband!).

    I'm really bummed about the Slanted Plaid Blouse :/ I saw it styled in my store and it looked really cute. I want to know who over at the Anthro offices gives the ok for these sheer tops? Probably a bunch of men!

  11. Wow, Carol, the Made to Measure skirt coupled with the belt + the whipped topping T is fabulous on you. I see what you mean about being (possibly) too petite for you. It really looks great, but I just wonder if it might even look better if it was hemmed just a touch shorter? As a petite gal, you must have a great tailor, right?! I miss mix tapes. I still have a boxful in our basement and they have the classics like REM, they might be giants, the Smiths, the Cure, etc. Sometimes, I stroll down memory lane by playing those freebie 30 second clips on i-tunes!

  12. carol
    thst brings back old times...cocteau twins and the smiths, jesus and mary chain. we must have been in school at the same time. Thanks for the reviews

  13. Yes my best friend from middle school gave me a mixed tape with marky mark and some other artists. That was when hip hop wasn't so popular. It was her christmas gift to me and I loved it!

  14. Fun to see your take on so many items that I just tried on as well. I kinda liked the Whipped Topping tee on but I'm still thinking about it...I wish I had tried it with that skirt like you did! I loved the Embraceable tee too (in brown) although if it got released in red I'm not sure I could pass it up, even at FP.

    Tomorrow's sale has me sweatin' - I should probably go hide my wallet...

  15. I will now shed a tear for the Slanted Plaid Blouse - what a pity for indecent sheerness. I love the Embracable Tee on you - that sleeve detail is adorable!

  16. I used to make mixed tapes all the time! Something about how easy it is to do on Itunes now seems unfair...