Thursday, September 30, 2010

Twice as Nice (Side-by-Side Fitting Room Reviews)

It's been a long time since Kathryn and I were able to get together to do some side-by-side fitting room reviews for everyone, so last weekend, we went to check out some of the in-store fall offerings! Please forgive that dratted dust speck that's blurring the photos - sometimes it shows up (like in this batch) and sometimes it doesn't. I have no idea why it does sometimes and not others. Sigh. Grumble...grumble...

This is Anna Sui's Roaring Olive Dress ($298), which I'm wearing in a size 2 and Kathryn is wearing in a size 4. It has a very "roaring 20's" silhouette (hence the name), and is evocative of days long past with its undefined waist, rich velvet, and ladylike embroidery. I thought the dress was darling, and would look amazing with tights, high heeled oxfords, and a cloche hat - hey, if you're going to do it, why not go all out? ^_^ For an Anna Sui dress, it's got a downright reasonable price, and is well made with lovely details. It'll be a pass for me, simply because it's not the sort of look I gravitate to, but if this is tickling your fancy, I give my wholehearted endorsement - really pretty. This dress has a back zipper, no pockets, and is dry-clean only.

Kathryn: To be honest, this dress gives off an “upholstery-like” vibe to me. Like I felt a little like I was wearing my grandmother’s curtains when I had it on…except my grandmother lived in the Philippines, and I’m pretty sure she didn’t have velvet curtains where the temperatures hover around 90 degrees year-round. I’m with Carol – this dress is totally not my thing at all, though I will say that there are some pretty details and it feels very well-made.

Close-up shots of the embroidery and the zig-zag seaming (there's probably a technical term for these...don't know what. Kristina, do you know?)

This is the Puckered Plaid Trench ($188), which I'm wearing in a size 2. Truth be told, I was totally going to pass on this jacket, because I had a feeling that the voluminous collar and skirt would overwhelm my small frame. But after getting a picture mail from Kathryn, wearing this jacket in the Fashion Island Newport Beach store, I had to try it. I think it isn't half bad! The saving grace to this jacket is that its bodice, when buttoned, is beautifully fitted, creating a nice contrast to the fuller bottom half and the huge, "puckered" collar. I really enjoyed the dress-like silhouette of the jacket too. It's made of a heavy cotton twill, so don't look to it to keep you warm in a snowstorm, but it'll probably be fine for most San Diego winter evenings. This jacket has pockets, is handwashable, comes in petite sizes, and fits true to size. I kinda loved it! I don't feel like I can justify buying this, since I have another lighter-weight jacket already (the Frill Force Jacket), but who knows? Maybe by the time this hits sale, I'll be able to afford it? We shall see...

Kathryn: The first time I encountered this trench was while I was with my good friend Debbie of Possess and Obsess during Fashion’s Night Out a few weeks back. Debbie was gracious enough to snap a camera phone pic for me so that I could send it to Carol with a message that said, “LOOK AT THIS!” I never did get around to posting a review of it, so it’s great to finally get to post a side-by-side review now!

I'm wearing a 4 in these photos, and I just love this coat. I might’ve actually cursed a little when I put it on, because I know there was no way I could take it home with me. I just adore how the bottom of it has a full skirt effect! And the collar is just darling! I love how you can kind of lay the collar flat (like in the product shot online) or “stand it up” a little for an almost turtleneck-like effect. A coat like this would be so much fun to have, but I must really watch the budget these days. Plus, if this coat and the Pattern Maker’s Coat both happened to go on sale and went head-to-head in a fight, I’m not sure which one would win. For now though, this one is totally wishlisted!

We love it! It makes us feel so pretty!

Here are the Easy Keeper Skirt ($138) and Trickle Down Top ($68). I'm wearing a size 2 in the skirt and an XS in the top. Both fit pretty true to size for me. The trickle down top was pretty, but again, sheer (hmmm, let me see...a top for the fall...not the summer...and um, making it a sheer is a good idea because...? Yeah, I couldn't figure it out either). Even were it opaque, I don't know that I'd spend $68 for it. I will say the origami-fold neckline is lovely and it's got interesting flutter-sleeves, but it'll be a pass for me. The skirt is a fun plaid, but I found that this is not the best cut for me. The high waist of this skirt shortens my already short waist, and the straight-down shape of the skirt creates a sort of boxy shape around my thighs which made me feel thick, even if I'm not actually. This is another pass for me.

Kathryn: While I generally tend to like higher-waisted skirts because of my longer torso, I’m with Carol in saying that the cut of this particular skirt wasn’t ideal for my body type. I think I’m a little too pear-shaped to really pull it off. I did like it, I just didn’t love it. Plus, I already have an orange plaid skirt from Anthro from yeeeeears ago, so I think I’m good on the orange-plaid-skirt front.

As for the top…er…what can I say about a $68 sheer top that hasn’t already been said..? Ugh. What the heck IS it with these sheer tops? I swear, this will not stand. I am thiiiiiiiis close to marching straight into Anthro headquarters and confronting the oldest, frailest-looking employee I can find and giving them a piece of my mind. They’ve messed with the wrong person. I’m the type of girl who has been known to machine wash items that are listed as “dry clean only,” so you know I’m serious. Mmmmmmhm. So I swear to you, this whole sheer top thing will. Not. Stand!

(So uh, that’s a “pass” on the top, if you couldn’t tell.)

Close-up on the collar detail for the Trickle Down Top.
(Kathryn: or, as I like to call it, the "bewb shot")

Here we tried the Tria Sweater Skirt ($128). I'm wearing an XS, and it fit fairly true to size. This boiled wool skirt has three absolutely darling rows of ruffles trimming its bottom hem. However, I had a similar problem with this skirt that I had with the Dried Leaves Dress - it's so unforgiving. I'm generally small and fairly slim, but I have given birth to two children, and I'm not Heidi Klum. Therefore, I do have figure flaws. This skirt does nothing at all to help me hide them. It was so cute on Kim (who recommends that you try sizing up on it), but it'll be a pass, pass, pass for me.

Kathryn: I think I was wearing a Small in this, and it felt a little too snug for my comfort. If I were to get this, I’d want to try on the Medium for comparison. From the online reviews, the sizing for this skirt runs all over the place. Well, if I ever wanted an article of clothing to make me feel fat, I think this is the one! While the ruffle trim melt my heart, I just can’t get over a boiled wool skirt being $128. So for the sake of my pocketbook (and my self-esteem), this skirt’s a total pass.

This is the Haute Skirt ($118) by Girls From Savoy. When I pulled this on, I was totally reminded of that denim-ish skirt from Tiny that was out last winter - you know, the one with the navy blue gingham tie-belt? (Someone help me here on the name of that one...). Anyway, I own it (the older skirt), and this skirt has a very similar cut and fit. I'm wearing a size 2 in this photo, and I found it to be true to size. There are side pockets, a back zipper, and it's dry clean only (boo!). Oh, and uh, the pleats in the back of the skirt? Well, they do add some volume in that area (which, I'd like to note, the Tiny skirt doesn't do, as it doesn't have pleats in the back), so if you're looking to increase the junk in your trunk, then here you go. If not, you might want to steer clear.

Kathryn: One word: gross. Sorry, just being honest. I just can’t stand the way this thing fit me. Not flattering on me at all.

Illustrating its rear-end enhancing effects...

We're wearing the Bianka Blouse ($68) and Steamer Trunk Skirt ($98) in these photos. We know we're late to finally reviewing the Bianka, but Kathryn was looking for it, and while we located the purple and the "blue" motifs on the floor, we couldn't find the "black" one that we'd been pining after - at least, until we asked Heather for it. Turns out, there were so few sizes left, they'd been moved to the back room - where she was able to find a size 6 for Kathryn and a 0 for me. I'm wearing the 0 in these photos, and I felt like it was just a little too small. I didn't really love the way the neck was pulling open and when I tried to tie it closed, the shoulders pulled too narrow. Maybe if I found a 2, it would have worked better. I'll probably never know, as it seems these are pretty well picked through, size-wise, in most stores. Very pretty, but a pass for me. I'm wearing the 2 in the Steamer Trunk Skirt - overall, I thought the skirt was very nice, and had a nice shape, but it's that boiled wool again, and it's just not helping out with diminishing or disguising my lumps and bumps. Albeit, it's not as clingy as the Tria Sweater Skirt, so it is more wearable for me in that regard, but it didn't inspire any gasps or quickening pulses, so I'll be passing on this one too. If you're looking for a fun, winter alternative to the plain black pencil skirt, you might want to try this one out.

Kathryn: Oh, my heart. Bianka lives! I was devastated when I saw that the Black Motif was sold out online, so imagine my glee (lower-case “g” – I didn’t break out in song, in case you were wondering) when Heather at Fashion Valley dug this out from the back room!

I just adore the colors and the ruffles on this blouse. Fashion Valley was completely sold out of the size 4, so I had to settle for the size 6. While I would’ve preferred the 4, I don’t think the 6 looks that bad. It still tucks into skirts beautifully, and the extra room makes it a little more tunic-y, to wear with jeans and boots. This little baby is quite possibly my favorite blouse ever. To quote the seagulls in “Finding Nemo”….”Mine! Mine! Mine, mine, mine!”

(A side note - thanks so much to all of you who chimed in a couple weeks ago to let me know that I could find the Bianka in other stores throughout the country. You guys rule!)

As for the Steamer Trunk Skirt, it was another case of trying on a 4 and needing a 6. Even then, I just wasn’t enamored enough of this skirt to even make the effort. I kind of feel like the material is the type to pill after wear. Huge pile of “blech,” for me.

Kathryn looking lovely in the Bianka!

Oooh, this is the Best of the Bunch Cardi ($228) - and ooooh, it really is! I love this sweater! It's such a fun piece! I think I'm wearing a small in this, and as you can see, the sleeves are a touch long on me, but I'd say the rest of the sweater fit okay, overall. If you're not patient with buttons, then this cardigan is not for you, but if you're willing to put in the time to play around with them, definitely try it on. It's fantastic! The placket with the buttonholes is cut much longer than the side with the buttons, so there's excess fabric that bunches, to artistic effect, between the buttons. And the way the collar can fold and lay differently, depending on how you button it - brilliant! The price is a bit too dear for me right now, but I'll definitely consider it, on sale. (And hopefully by then, it'll be cool enough to wear it here).

Kathryn: Oh dear. Oh dear, oh my. I abso-freaking-lutely LOVE this sweater. Gah, I can’t possibly love this sweater because it’s two-hundred-and-twenty-eight FREAKING DOLLARS. Thing is, I…actually think this sweater is special enough to justify the hefty (or, as one reviewer called it, “monstrously expensive”) price tag. I might need an actual rocket scientist to help me navigate the buttons, but even the haphazard way I threw this sweater on made me clap my hands with delight. I didn’t even mind that the wool was a teensy bit scratchy. Clearly, I’ve drunk the Anthro Kool-Aid.

I tried on a Medium , and it fit comfortably though a bit snug. I might want to try it again in the Large in order to layer underneath. Just like how Johnny Castle (RIP, Patrick Swayze) famously said, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner,” I wouldn’t want to hide this baby under a coat. BOOM. Wishlisted.

This is the Mirabell Skirt ($118), which I'm wearing in the size 2. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by this one! I wasn't expecting to like it all that much - it's lace and so a little high maintenance for me - but when I got it on, I found it to be really lovely. The bottom hem is made up of two tiers of lace, which I thought was a nice detail, and I found that it fit well and hung well too. I don't think I'd pay full price for this, but I'd definitely consider it on sale. Wishlisted for now!

Kathryn: Hm. Not sure what to say about this one. I'm wearing a size 6 in the photos, and I didn't find it particularly flattering or unflattering on me. Though I thought this skirt was very pretty, I already own a black lace skirt from Forever 21 so I’m not sure I really “need” this, right now.

That concludes this round of side-by-sides! I hope these reviews were helpful! And as always, thanks for reading!


  1. You two are the cutest things ever!

  2. I love reading your blog! I especially like that you are based in SD (my hometown) it gives me happy little news from home while I am here in Japan.

    I wish-listed the Bianka blouse and now I regret not having snapped it up! THe only color available online now it the rust color which I am not all that keen on. I am glad you ladies got to try it on and snap it up!

  3. Oooh I am LOVING the Bianka blouse! I'm lucky in that I like the blue motif, since I think my chances of finding it in black are slim to none. What size would you recommend for someone who wears and XS in tops and a 2-4 in dresses?

    Also, any chance it'll make it to sale? *hopes*

  4. @Monica - Aww, thanks! You're so sweet!

    @thesungirl - Thanks! I know, I had tried on the Bianka in the Black over a month ago in a size 4, and I was kicking myself that I didn't just snatch it up then. I feel extremely lucky to have found it in a 6. Good luck finding it!

    @Ria - The Bianka is seriously awesome. I didn't expect to love it that much, but lo and behold - LOVE. If you're an XS but a 2-4 in dresses, I think a size 2 would work for you. Carol's usually an XS in tops, and she experienced some pulling with the size 0 in the Bianka. And she's pretty petite on top.

    And for what it's worth, I can generally pull off a 2 or a 4 in tops, but I was fine with the 6. Considering how many colorways it's available in and how quickly the Black Motif flew out, I'd be surprised to see it go on sale anytime soon. One can always hope, though! Hope that helps! =)

  5. I love that necklace.....details?

  6. I seriously love this blog feature. Thank you so much for posting this wonderful and informative post. I love the plaid coat on both of you girls and also the best of the bunch cardi. I still haven't seen the best of the bunch cardi at my store...maybe I'm not looking hard enough but I really wanna try that darn thing on! That's it...I'm going this weekend! :)

  7. Hi girls, I just wanted to say that the two of you are SO this feature! :-) I want to chance the Tria Sweater's too cute not to at least give it a try.

  8. omg you two are SO cute!! I love thes side by side posts!

  9. @ShelleyW - Hi! The necklace is actually from Forever 21 that I found through Kim's blog . (Kim always finds the most awesome things!) It's called the "Vintage Charm Necklace, and I think it's sold out on the U.S. site now, but you can still find it on Forever 21's Canadian site here . Hope that helps!

    @Cindi - Aww, thank you! You're so sweet!! Thank YOU for reading our reviews! =) I seriously wish I could find some way to justify bringing the Best of the Bunch Cardi home with me, somehow. I can't wait to see it on you!

    @GinaBean - Thank you! =) The Tria Sweater Skirt is awfully cute, I think I don't have the right figure for it. But do give it a try!

    @Amber - Thanks so much! And right back at ya, babe! ;o)

  10. You guys are so cute with this feature! I'm so glad I got the Bianka blouse in the black when it was available in my size. I purchased it about a month ago and was sort of regretting paying full price because I rarely pay full price at Anthro. I can usually wait for a sale. Guess it's a good thing I got it when I did!

  11. I think you are both ROCK, ROCK, ROCKIN' the plaid totally sold me on it! It's so helpful for me to see some items on real bodies (not stick figures with lips, ya know what I'm sayin'?)...I live over an hour from the nearest Anthro, so I rarely get to try anything on and your reviews are so helpful. Plus, you're both just soooo pretty!

  12. Thanks Kathryn for the info! I'm making my monthly visit to Anthro next weekend (it's super far away...) and I'll see if I can find one there to try on, but in case I can't I'll see if I can find the 2 online in the small chance it goes on sale. Y'all's blog is the most helpful to me because I think we're pretty close in size, Kathryn, so I always get good sizing info from y'all's reviews. Let me know if there's anything you can't find in store, but want to try on before you buy. Then I can try to return the favor!

  13. Ooh, I'm loving the bianka blouse and the lace skirt!

  14. you girls are so cute! thanks for the reviews!

  15. Hey Carol and Kathryn
    Oh my, the side by sides are back and i am jumping in excitement!
    Sorry, I don't like the Anna Sui dress at all girls - they do nothing for you. It's NOT you, its the dress. The fabric looks like curtain material - not good. It's a dress that our husbands just won't get (unlike the Mullany)! I'm learning to be more honest these days, rather than saying things like "ohh, i like it! lovely dress on you!".
    I really like the bianka blouse on you both though - very pretty! The trickle down top would have been nice if it weren't so sheer :-(
    I tried on some of these items too while i was in the UK (I will post pics next week). I didn't end up getting any of them except for the Mirabell Skirt (I love lacey things too), which I wore to work this week - I will post tomorrow!

  16. Hi,
    I have never commented before even though I read your blog every day. I love it, and I LOVE your side by side reviews! They are so helpful and you guys are FREAKING ADORABLE. I live in SoCal and I always hope I run into you at an Anthro (if I do I'll say hi!) Do the fitting room attendants think it's just hilarious? Anyway, thanks for the great reviews!

  17. I love the puckered plaid trench the most of all the items you both tried. Carol, are you wearing a regular 2 or petite 2? I'm so tempted to purchase one online since I'm needing a long light-weight jacket for the southwestern weather for fall/winter. I can't decide to pick petite 0 or 2.

  18. Oh the puckered plaid trench is WAY cuter then I imagined it would be. Carol, I would have thought the same thing about it overwhelming petite frames but you and Kathryn are both just GORGEOUS in it!

    Kathryn - I'm glad you found your Bianka - the two of you were meant to be together!

  19. you two are so adorable! It's so great to see these items on both of you side by side for comparison on two diff bodies! Thanks you two!

  20. I truly appreciate this blog post.