Monday, February 28, 2011

Look Who's One! (A Blog-iversary Giveaway)

In Pursuit of Pretty Things is a year old and we're celebrating with a giveaway!

It's been a long and crazy year since we launched our blog last February (see our very first post, here), and what better way to commemorate the occasion than with some fun in one of our favorite stores? and Kathryn? That'd make me the shorter one, I think? ^_-

It's true! We're giving away a

$100 Anthropologie Gift Card!* 

(We know, we can't quite believe it either.)

So, here are the details...

To be included in the drawing for this giveaway, this is what you have to do:

1) Be a public follower of our blog (if you're not already, it's easy! Just click on the "Follow" button in the sidebar to the right, and follow with Google Friend Connect) and

2) leave a comment on this post, letting us know how you might spend this giftcard, along with your name and last initial to help us tell the difference between all of you with common names (e.g. Sarah, Jessica, Lisa, etc.)

To get extra entries (up to 2 more!) you can

3) blog or tweet about this giveaway on your blog, and leave a comment with the link. If you tweet, be sure to include an @raphaela235 or @kathrynshops, and leave a comment telling us you did, and/or

4) "Like" our page on Facebook by clicking on the button in the sidebar to the right.

Entries will be accepted through next Wednesday, March 9th. We'll tally all the entries and then do a random drawing for the winner. Just a note - please don't leave your email in the comments. We want to help you protect your contact information. When we draw the name and number of the winner, we'll post it on our blog by March 12th, along with directions for that winner to contact us. If for some reason, the winner doesn't get in touch with us within 48 hours, we'll redraw, and announce a new winner, etc.

Good luck to everyone!

*This giveaway is not affiliated with, endorsed by, or sponsored by Anthropologie or Urban Outfitters. 

The entry period for this giveaway has closed. Thank you for your interest!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Nordstrom Designer Preview 2011

I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Nordstrom Designer Preview which took place this past Wednesday, February 23rd, at Landmark Aviation, here in San Diego. It was an amazing event, showcasing looks from the spring collections of many American and European designers, including Celine, Dolce & Gabbana, Oscar de la Renta, Jason Wu, Donna Karan, Lanvin, Stella McCartney, Versace, Marni, Missoni, Emilio Pucci, and Dries Van Noten, as well as others. I, along with over 300 other guests, enjoyed a cocktail reception, runway show, and then a dessert reception as we shopped and browsed (the latter for me, in case you were wondering) Nordstrom's onsite designer boutique.  The event raised over $73,000 for The New Children's Museum, here in San Diego.

So, I have to say, this is not the type of event I usually attend, and it was incredible. About two minutes into the runway show (it took me about that long to get my jaw off the floor), I found myself wishing I could have brought all of you with me, and wow, there's going to be a lot of italics in this post, because that's what I felt pretty much that whole evening. Just a warning - this is a long, photo-heavy post.

Shots of the models & clothes from the runway show:

The "runway" was a combination of a square stage around which the audience was seated, and the floor between the stage and the audience. The show was timed and choreographed (if you can call it that) beautifully, with a block of what I think was 25 models (five across and five deep) on the stage at all times, rotating through the rows and columns, from the inside of the of the square, to the outer edges, so that the audience, regardless of what side of the stage they were sitting on, got a chance to see every single outfit. Each model, when it was their turn, would step off the stage at some point, and walk its perimeter, so that we could see the movement of the clothing, as they passed by. Then, they would walk backstage, change into another outfit, and at the correct time, rejoin the block of models on stage, to do it all over again.

Jason Wu
Jason Wu
I love this casual-chic outfit from designer Jason Wu. How amazing would it be to wear this to your kids' friend's birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's (like the one I'm going to this weekend?) Yep, you read that right. If I could afford Jason Wu, you wouldn't see me hoarding his outfits for chi-chi events. Oh no, I'd be all over Chuck E. Cheese's in 'em. (The DH just read this over my shoulder as I was writing it and muttered, "Makes me wonder what you're going to wear tomorrow....")

Jason Wu
Jason Wu
How perfect and elegant a day look is this black-and-white printed silk chiffon Jason Wu dress? Have I mentioned I love him? I love him.

Jason Wu
Jason Wu
Kathryn tried on this dress this past fall, here!

Dolce & Gabbana
Uh...I thought this one would be a great look for DH. Yes. That's it. The inclusion of this photo has nothing to do with wanting to share the male-model eye candy with you. Oh no. Not one bit. 

Stella McCartney
Amazing lace dress by Ms. McCartney! So pretty!


Oscar de la Renta
Okay, so, after Jason Wu's collection, the spring collection on view at the show that I loved most was Oscar de la Renta's. When these pieces started to hit the stage is about when I started wondering where I could find myself a sponsor. You know, the kind that keeps me from succumbing to my shopping addiction by buying the clothes for me? ^_-

Oscar de la Renta (image via my iPhone - sorry about the poor image quality!)

Oscar de la Renta (image via my iPhone)

Oscar de la Renta

Before and after the show, guests were able to browse and shop all the featured garments in the special boutique that was set up specifically for this event:

Two guests shopping in the boutique. Look at that amazing jacket with feather trim! I die! This was quite possibly one of my favorite guest-outfits of the evening (and yes, we were cowardly and just snapped a photo from behind, haha!)

Kathryn wasn't able to get down to San Diego for this, so my friend June came with me, and took all the photographs. She was so fun to hang out with and I'm so grateful she was willing to come with me and lend me her photography skills. Thanks June!

The boutique featured designer shoes and handbags as well. Here are some of my favorites:

The shoes on the left are Givenchy - and, um, these might seriously be a major shopping ban/restraint buster for me (haha, look at that expression on my face! I think I was in the middle of exclaiming, "Oooooh! Look at these! SOOOOOOO cute!"). The amazing shoes on the right are Marni, and yes, if I won the lottery, I'd be wearing these to Chuck E. Cheese's (and everywhere else) too. BEAUTIFUL.

Patent nude platform sandals? By Prada? Yes, please.

Seriously, how fun are they navy and white dotted platform sandals by Miu Miu?

Dolce & Gabbana sandals. Pretty. Pretty. Pretty.
(They make me think of Jan. ^_^)

And more pretty dresses:

This Marni dress is too fun and too fabulous. Look at the colors, the print, and the giant bow. It's like candy in a dress! LOVE.

How fabulous and feminine and gorgeous is this Dolce & Gabbana number? Can I wear this to next year's Designer Preview? Please?

And another amazing shoe for good measure:

Chanel T-Straps, with flower charm on the heel (love!). Didn't know the Fashion Valley Nordstrom carries Chanel shoes? Well, they do. They're just not out on the floor. Ask your Salon Shoe sales associate for details.

And what's an event like this without some delicious catering by Waters? Just a few of the offerings (because this post is too long as it is):

And what I wore:

My thanks to Nordstrom for inviting In Pursuit of Pretty Things to this wonderful event. And as always, thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Oh Oh Tee Deez. (OOTDs)

It's all Sara's fault.

Oh, I mean...hello readers! How's it hangin'?!

I hope you're all doing well!

Today's outfit is Sara's fault. Well,, that's not really fair. It's also partially Jan's fault. And a really healthy dose of Kim, too.

I swear I felt stabbing sensations in my heart every time I saw the Tria Sweater Skirt on someone. I've always been a sucker for charcoal grey for winter, but the the tiered, ruffled hem of this skirt makes my heart flutter. I had tried it on back in the fall though, and I wasn't sure if it was the right skirt for me. However, after seeing a couple of Sara's recent outfits (man, she wore it again beautifully here!) and a handful of recent Anthroholic reader outfits featuring the skirt, I totally flipped out and caved in. I'm laying most of the blame on Sara though, because she's my size twin and if something looks good on her I feel more inclined to try it for myself.

Sorry for throwing you under the bus, Sara. I really do wish we were next door neighbors and could just pass clothing items back and forth between us. Life would be so much more economical that way! *wink*

I managed to track the skirt down on eBay, but in my haste I grabbed a size S instead of M. It doesn't quite fit me the way I wish it did, but I'm so entranced by the ruffles that I don't care. I love it so much that I will work out and make it fit better!

Hm. Some guys decided to join me in my photo...

TSE Cashmere Cardigan (super old, similar here)
Nordstrom Caslon Ruffle Tank (2010, similar here)
Anthropologie Tria Sweater Skirt
JC Penney Worthington Tights (similar-ish here)
J.Crew Belt in Metallic Tulip (summer 2010, cute pink belt here!)
Lela Rose for Payless Shoes (similar here)
Betsey Johnson Earrings (2010, similar here)
Forever 21 Vintage Charm Necklace (late 2010, pretty option here)
Forever 21 Flower Ring

Oh dear, what is this life?! How does one choose between a werewolf and a vampire?

Well, truth be told, I've always been Team Edward...

I guess it's a good sign when you like your outfit so much that you don't want to take it off at the end of the day, hm? Once again, Kim opens my mind with the best recommendations - I picked up these nude tights from JC Penney because Kim had worn them in a couple of outfits, and they've added a whole new dimension to my winter dresses and skirts. I'd never really considered nude tights before, because I just thought they reminded me of pantyhose. But these have a little pattern in them that adds subtle interest to the leg, and I just love 'em. And on this cold day in SoCal (hey, 60 degrees is cold to us okay??) these tights kept my legs surprisingly warm.

So there you have it, readers! Thanks so much for reading, and please feel free to keep those burning questions coming!

Hi everyone! It's me, Carol. Can I say I'm really glad the weekend is nigh upon us? Yes, I just said/wrote, "Nigh upon us." But it is! And I'm glad! 

It's been a very full, very fun, but also very exhausting sort of week. I had two consecutive weeknight events which I'll blog about over the next few days. They were on totally opposite ends of the fashion retail spectrum, but both incredibly fun and fabulous in their own ways. I'm so excited to share both of them with you, but am too tired to write them up and still do them justice, but I will very very soon, I promise!

I bought these tweed trousers back in early December, and forgot to get them hemmed until very recently. I'm glad I finally found time to take them in and get them hemmed, because I love 'em! I'm also wearing an old but favorite top that I haven't pulled out in over two years (yikes! Where did the time go??). This blouse is from the Libertine collaboration with Target, and nearly every time I wear it, I get compliments on it from complete strangers.   

Jacket: Classiques Entier Leather Jacket, Nordstrom
Top: Libertine for Target Silk Blouse (similar here and here)
Pants: Nanette Lepore Tweed Trousers (similar here and here)
Shoes: Lanvin Platform Chain Pumps (similar here and here)
Necklace: Pearl Station Necklace, Nordstrom (similar here and here)

I do have to say, one of the great things about this shopping ban/shopping restraint-thing has been that I've been able to rediscover favorite older items in my closet. It's really quite as fun as having new things!

Er, at least, most of the time. ^_-

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ask Us (OOTDs)

Hi everyone! Hope you're all doing well. So, within a few days, In Pursuit of Pretty Things will be celebrating it's one-year blogiversary. Can you believe it? Kathryn and I barely can. When we started, we had no idea that a year from then, not only would we still be blogging, but that so many of you would decide to follow us on this crazy journey. It's really amazing how far we've come in this past year, just in terms of how the blog has evolved.

Anyway, for those of you who've been with us from the beginning, and for those of you who just found us this past week, we thought we'd ask you, "what would you like to know about us?" Is there something you've always wondered about one or both of us? Do you have any burning questions that you're dying to have answered? (Because we're so inscrutable, right?) Leave us your questions in your comments or email them to us, and if we're able to, we'll answer them over the next week or two.

This outfit is actually from Sunday - on Saturday, it poured rain most of the day, but on Sunday, the rain clouds lifted enough for me to go out and snap a few photos of what I was wearing:

Jacket: Classiques Entier leather jacket, Nordstrom (no longer online, but you might be able to find them on the sale racks in the stores. Similar (high) here and (low) here.)
Top: James Perse boatneck top (similar here and here and here)
Boots: Apeppazza "Martin" Wedge Boots (similar here and here)
Necklace: Judith Ripka Key Convertible necklace (similar and more budget-friendly here)

Hello there!

It's me again...doing my best to try and take OOTD photos while at work!

So, this outfit was completely inspired by Rosa (Love at First Shop) in her post from last Friday. I just love the way she layered a cozy tunic over a fluffy petticoat slip.
I'd been searching for ideas on how to style my Brume Chemise from Anthropologie, so I thought I'd try layering one of my long sweaters over it just to see how it'd look. It wasn't a perfect translation, as my tunic is a lot more fitted than hers, but I thought it made for a passable substitute. I really should make more of an effort to "shop my closet," though I don't find that nearly as fun as shopping online or at the mall! Sigh.

I also decided to pull out my Report Britt Booties again for a rare appearance. I swear, the story behind these booties still makes me laugh - I first bought them a couple of summers ago, returned them, bought them again a few months later, returned them again, and then finally found them on clearance for around $40 last year. I was never quite able to get them out of my mind! Do things like that ever happen to you?

So the overall look is a little bit different for me, and it didn't go over well with one of my co-workers ("Hm...I think it'd be better if your sweater wasn't so long!"), but I thought it was kind of a neat to try something different. And my husband liked it, so...yay!

Nordstrom Frenchi cowlneck tunic (super old, similar style in a different color here)
Anthropologie Brume Chemise (sold out, try Rosa's version here)
HUE tights
Report Britt Booties (similar here)
Oh, Hello Friend Pocketwatch Necklace (similar-ish here)
Nordstrom Frenchi Bomber Jacket (shown below, similar here)
Forever 21 Flower Ring (shown below, similar here, here and here)

Ah, the good ol' cellphone-in-the-mirror shot!

So that's it for today, my friends! I hope you will submit your questions to us! And, as always, thank you so much for reading!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Loving: Neiman Marcus Stylings

This morning, I received an email advertisement from Neiman Marcus, which led to a page on their website, that featured four items that were styled multiple ways. I love this sort of thing, because it's helpful to have examples of ways to incorporate any single item into different outfits - as we all know, this is the key to making your wardrobe really work for you.  What I don't love? The Neiman Marcus prices. Especially since I'm trying to exercise Shopping Restraint.

So below the photo, I've put together some more budget-friendly options....

Splurge - Blue Camp Shirt:                                                     Splurge - Floral Print Skirt:

Steal - Blue Camp Shirt:                                                        Steal - Floral Print Skirt: 
Old Navy Lightweight Roll-up Camp Shirt                                 Mock Wrap Floral Skirt
BDG Fall Breezy Shirt                                                           River Island Floral Belted Knee Length Skirt             
Converse One-Star Women's Sport Shirt                                 Boden Printed Cotton Skirt

Splurge - Red Blazer:                                                            Splurge - Tie-waist Shorts
Alice + Olivia Kim Red Check Blazer                                      7 for All Mankind Drawstring Shorts

Steal - Red Blazer/Shrunken Blazer:                                      Steal - Tie-waist Shorts:
Love Moschino Blazer                                                           Vanessa Bruno Athe Paperbag Waist Shorts
Ter de Caractere Blazer                                                         River Island Belted Paperbag Waist Shorts
Gap Shrunken Blazer                                                            Tan Cupro Paperbag Waist Shorts

Splurge - Short Trench Coat                                                  Splurge - White Flare Pants
Theory Adyna Belted Trench Coat                                          Alice+Olivia Stacey Bell Bottom Pants

Steal - Short Trench Coat                                                     Steal - White Flare Pants
Merona Short Trench Coat                                                    Stacked Wide Waistband Editor Pant
Fossil Audrey Trench Coat                                                   INC International Concept Flared Leg Pants
Guess Cassie Trench Coat                                                   BCBG MaxAzria "Carrie" Straight Flare Pants

Now, if only the weather would cooperate and it'd become warm enough to start wearing some of these things.... ^_- 

Thanks for reading!

Weekend Update (Fitting Room Reviews and an Announcement)

Happy Presidents' Day weekend, everyone! Hoping you all had a great Saturday. Mine was so-so. It rained on and off all day and was cold and gusty when not wet, cold, and gusty, so not the best holiday weekend weather. On top of that, Rowan's been running a fever since yesterday afternoon, when he was sent home from school sick (he was totally fine in the morning! No sign of illness at all. This virus has some seriously stealth capabilities) and well, suffice it to say, I've been wearing various iterations of my pjs all day long.

Yep, it's been one of those Saturdays.

I do have some fun news to share with you though. Today, I launched a new blog, Material GoodThis is a solo-project for me and while I'll still be posting here on a fairly regular basis, I'll be writing for Material Good as well. Why two blogs? Well, In Pursuit of Pretty Things is a project I started with Kathryn, about...well, our pursuit of pretty things. This past year has been a huge learning curve for us in terms of figuring out how to blog, and in a few of my posts, I experimented with writing about issues that were only tangentially or completely unrelated to style or what would normally be in a style blog (i.e. motherhood, philanthropic causes, social consciousness, etc.). I'd really like to do more of that sort of writing, so I thought I should start a new blog in order to prevent readers of either blog from being confused by the disparate topics (because whether we want to admit it or not, it might be a little distracting when one post is all about the fabulous shoes we're seeing this spring and the very next post is discussing the role of social media technologies in the Middle East protests). For those of you who may be interested, I'll be using Material Good to write more consistently about all of my other loves - family, women's issues, education, equity, socially conscious companies and organizations, technology, media, and well, whatever else crosses my mind or yours (I hope you'll lend me your ideas for this other blog, through comments and emails). If you check it out - and I hope you will - you'll notice that it's still a work in progress. It's sort of bare bones right now, with only one post up so far. Let me know what you think though - I'd appreciate your feedback on it.

And now, onto the business at hand! Last weekend found me "going for a walk with the kids at the mall, so that you can have some time to yourself, honey," (what I told my husband, before scampering off to get my Anthro fix). Here are a few dresses I tried on:

Mystery Edme & Esyllte Dress ($158, aka, "The Apron Dress."  Style #20472254)

Kathryn reviewed this dress in another post, so my comments basically align with hers. I'm wearing this dress in a size 0. It had a side zip with a cute striped tie-belt, and pockets. The contrasting white tape shoulder straps were just a hair too long on me (I had to wriggle and pull the dress into place carefully, in order to keep them from bunching and sliding out of place, if you know what I mean. Even so, you can see evidence of this problem in the photo, above right), but I am a shorter, and short-waisted woman, so taller or longer-waisted women shouldn't have this problem. It's a cute dress, with my favorite, fitted-bodice, nipped-in waist, and full-skirt silhouette, but the print and colors didn't really grab me, so it'll be a pass for me.

Detail shot of the print on the skirt.

Blooming Goldenrod Dress ($138)

I was excited to see the Blooming Goldenrod Dress in stores, as I'd noticed it online and instantly gravitated towards its colors and the prints. I tried on my normal size 0. I love the rich golden yellow of the top half of the dress, and really liked the dotted/floral pattern on the skirt. Also, the dress is machine washable (!!!) so I was doubly happy to be able to try it on. However, once on, this dress was all kinds of wrong. First, the waist was really snug. Uncomfortably so. I was able to get it on, and close the side zip, but the waist pinched, if you know what I mean. Then, the bust was too big and the shoulder straps too long, so the neckline gaped unattractively (see top right photo and below). The skirt fit me comfortably at the hips, but ran longer than I liked, hitting below my knee. For a shorter woman, that can be pretty stumpifying.  So, overall, while I loved the look of the dress, I found the execution severely wanting. *sad face* Another pass for me.

Close-up of the loose shoulder straps and gaping neckline.

Tessara Dress ($168)

This dress caught my eye with its intricate, mosaic-like print, so I tried it on in a size 0. As you can see, it fit me fairly well, so I'd say that it runs true to size. The only issue I had with fit was that the bust was a little roomy on me, but this isn't too big a surprise, as I'm smaller chested than most women. It's made of silk, is dry-clean only, and has a side zip, as well as pockets. For interest, it has a smocked lower back and a triangular cut-out that closes with a small button and what seemed like an even smaller loop (see photo below). I had to fumble with it a while, before I got it fastened. Overall, it was a nice dress, but again, nothing that made my heart go pitter-pat, so it'll be another pass for me. Not necessarily a bad thing, considering my current shopping restraint (in lieu of my former shopping ban - thanks for the new name, GinaBean!) status.

Detail shot of the back of the dress.

Counting Angles Dress ($168)

Here's a new Plenty by Tracy Reese offering. I tried this on in the XS, curious to see how the cut would play out on me, as dolman-ish sleeves are hit-or-miss on my petite frame. The top of the dress has an interesting wrap-style that made the whole thing feel somewhat kimono-like. To be honest, I didn't expect to like it, but I did. The fabric is a knit linen, so is soft and flowy (hand wash) and there's a tie belt at the waist. The pattern is a little on the busy side, but I didn't feel totally swallowed up by it, the way I thought I might. If I was working with a bigger clothing budget, this dress would probably find a place onto my spring/summer clothing roster. As it is, it's wishlisted for further consideration at sale time. 

Botanical Crossway Dress ($188)

I'm always a little dubious when I spot long dresses - being 5'2" means I nearly always pass them over. But for some reason, the Botanical Crossway Dress caught me with its colors and print and that fun cross detail over the shoulders and bodice, so I decided to give it a try. And wow, I'm kind of glad I did! I'm wearing the regular size 0 (it is offered in petite sizes, though the 0P and 2P sizes are already sold out online). I really liked this dress, and while it was more than less floor-skimming on me, and I sorta thought it gave me a more pear-like shape (which is never a good thing on any woman), I couldn't help liking it! What does that mean? I'm not sure. All I know is that I will be stalking this dress 'til sale time, and hoping that it goes on sale in April, in time for my birthday discount. It has a side zip, is cotton with a cotton lining, was super comfy, and is machine washable (yay!). Fingers officially crossed for good timing for sale and good stock left in my size.

"Moooom!" squealed Kate, as she crashed into my legs to hug the long skirt of the dress. "Moooom!" squealed Rowan, as he repeated Kate's maneuver. Yep, I think that means it's Kate and Rowan-approved.

So, what, if any, spring arrivals have caught your eye?