Tag Archives: Eddie Bauer

Exciting clothes: in stores, online, and at the consignment shops

Wonderful clothes have been turning up for me in the past few months, and I want to alert everyone to some great brands and styles.

Bogner jackets and Fire and Ice sportswear. Bogner? Two months ago, I’d never heard of Bogner. Then I found a beautiful wool blazer in a heathery periwinkle color at Classic Consignment in Ballard for $20. It had a metal charm attached to the front pocket — a bright silver “B” — that made it look more like sportswear than a dressy jacket. Some online sleuthing revealed that it was a casual jacket from a company best known for skiwear — Bogner, a European firm. The tailoring and fabric are exquisite. The price, had I bought it new? $400. The story is just beginning. A few weeks later, at a flea market, I spotted a cherry red micro-fleece half-zip top that looked like a great style for me. The label? Fire and Ice. Which, it turns out, is a part of…yes, Bogner. (Price online? $200. I’d paid $5.) Not only are the beautiful pieces of clothing, but size 12 (or Large) fits me perfectly. Definitely items for petite women. Check out the vaguely steampunkish Lindsay blazer, currently selling for way above my budget.

Vintage Pendleton jackets. At Goodwill I snagged a gorgeous Pendleton blazer, a lightweight pale-champagne Harris tweed, petite, for $14. I’ve gotten so many compliments on it that I’m now searching Etsy, eBay, and all the thrift shops for more of them. A lot of vintage Pendleton is in bold colors or plaids that aren’t quite me (shocking pink and forest green check, anyone?). But I’m going to be patient to get this fit and quality.

Moving Comfort's Maia bra

Moving Comfort’s Maia bra

Moving Comfort Maia sports bra. For years I’ve been wearing Moving Comfort’s  wire-free Fiona sports bra for yoga (after being stabbed savagely by an expensive underwire sports bra while doing twists). The problem with the (seemingly  indestructible) Fiona is that they don’t make it in my size, so I’ve been wearing it one cup size too small. It squishes me, and I look…squished. I’d tried a few other Moving Comfort bras but hadn’t liked them. One, which seemed to be made out of latex, was difficult to get on, and nearly impossible to get off. But I decided to try the Maia bra, which does come in my size. It is very tailored, and works as a camisole with V-neck shirts and sweaters. It is so comfortable, even with underwires, I feel like I’m not even wearing a bra. And it looks so good I’m now wearing it with dressy clothing as well as for yoga. Question: Why don’t they remove the little white sports logo from the strap and sell this as a regular bra? They’d make a fortune.

Eddie Bauer StayShape jeans. These are jeans with a little bit of stretch that look great the first time you wear them and keep looking great. They don’t stretch out or bag. Like a number of Eddie Bauer women’s pants, they come in three styles: Straight, Slightly Curvy, and Curvy. I ordered all three because I was curious. I’m in between the Slightly Curvy and Curvy, so kept both of those. I’ve had one pair of these for six months, and they still look fabulous. (Cold water wash, inside out.)

Eddie Bauer Pima tee

Eddie Bauer’s new Pima tee

Eddie Bauer Pima Cotton 3/4-sleeve T-shirts. Another big win, particularly if you buy them on sale. These are fairly long shirts, but Eddie Bauer has moved away from the skinny fit, and these are just lovely. I ordered petites and the V and scoop necks were the perfect depth and width (unlike the necklines on the “petite” shirts at the Gap, which are apparently designed to reveal as much of your bra as possible).

JCP (aka J.C. Penney) a.n.a. sportswear. Having read all about J.C. Penney’s controversial new business model, I decided to check it out. It’s now a store full of fashion boutiques with very, very, very inexpensive prices (and somewhat confused-looking customers, wondering what happened to the old system of long racks full of sales merchandise). I bought two jackets from the a.n.a. (“A New Approach”) petite boutique, which mimics a Ralph Lauren style. They were about $3o each; one is a nicely shaped workshirt in a featherweight, faded denim and the other is an attractively styled army-green fatigue jacket, also in a summer-weight fabric. My one complaint: an XL petite is almost too tight for me across the back and bust — and I’m a size 10 petite at Eddie Bauer. This is definitely a place I’ll check again for inexpensive summer clothing.

And now, for a little bad news:

Eddie Bauer’s long-awaited Travex pants for spring are a disappointment. Last year’s Travex pants sold out almost immediately, were not restocked, and still command full price on eBay. They may now become collectors items, because the 2013 version of them is simply not as good. The new 2013 capris have those yoga-style flare-out hems (calf-length bell bottoms? Really?) that look bad on everybody. (Last year’s had drawstring hems you could adjust.) And they have this unattractive zig-zag top stitching everywhere that looks like a second grader sewed them. I’ll resume hunting for another pair of last year’s on eBay. (Note: The waistband on the Travex capris is a bit low — if you’re a petite, you could go for the regular size to get a slightly higher waistband.

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Fashion fail: Women’s flannel shirts in pastel plaids

Thousands of women looking to buy classic flannel shirts this season are in consignment shops and vintage clothing stores. They’ve been driven there by retailers who got some weird idea in their heads that women would like their flannel shirts in pale turquoise, pink and lavender plaids. Sorry, I have no desire to look like I’m from Clan McBarbie.

Classic plaid flannel shirts are based on tartan-weave fabrics, which date back thousands of years to early Celtic tribes in Europe. As early as the 1500s, tartans were used in Scotland to identify wearers by region or by clan.

This GiltMANual blog post has a lovely visual guide to some of the classic plaids in fashion: Royal Stewart, Black Watch, MacDonald, McQueen, MacLeod, MacGregor, MacArthur, and Wallace. Wallace is my own personal favorite, being thick and thin black stripes on a field of scarlet red. These plaids are characterized by rich reds, blues, greens, or yellows and plenty of black stripes.

The Pendleton wool mills brought plaids onto the fashion scene in the 1950s with wool shirts and shirt jackets. These went through a huge revival as an essential element of grunge fashion in the 1990s, and Pendleton plaid shirts are still in high demand in vintage clothing stores.

Outfitters like L.L. Bean, Eddie Bauer, and Orvis, along with outdoor clothiers like Woolrich and Cabela’s, translated the Pendleton wool plaid shirts into less-expensive cotton flannel. (Expensive New York and London clothiers also make pricey viyella shirts in classic plaids. But I digress.)

Back to the basic plaid flannel shirt. If you’re male, flannel shirts in classic plaids are available just about anywhere that sells men’s sportswear. But if you’re looking for a women’s flannel shirt (especially in a petite size) this season, good luck. L.L. Bean was sold out of five of six colors of its women’s classic-colored Scotch Plaid flannel shirts by December 4 (Gee, I wonder why?). Woolrich has a few classic plaids left (I quickly bought two of the red Pembertons), but most of what they and other stores have in stock this year in the women’s plaid flannel department are your choice of pastels or (even more ghastly) fluorescent pastels:

Naked ladies and bright-colored jeans

photo of orange, blue and red Gap jeans

Gap jeans (Photos: Gap online catalog)

I desperately want a pair of this summer’s hottest fashion: lightweight, bright-colored jeans. In melon. Or maybe cherry red. Perhaps lime green.

But it’s not going to happen.

The chances of me finding a pair of jeans that fit are so slim (pardon the pun) that it just isn’t worth my time shopping for them. I can go to a major department store and try on dozens of pairs of pants without finding a single pair that look decent. For some reason, the only jeans that work for me are ones that turn up at consignment shops — strange brands no one has heard of, or past-season styles that are long out of production. My current favorites are:

• Kut from the Kloth straight-leg dark-wash jeans. I found a pair of Kut jeans at a local Buffalo Exchange shop — they turned out to be a size too large, but they inspired me to go to Macy’s to try on other Kut jeans in a smaller size. The style that works for me now seems to be out of production, but I’ve got two pairs and love them. The waist runs a bit large, but wearing a belt or the Hip Hugger from Hollywood Fashion Secrets takes care of that.

• Eddie Bauer chino-fabric capris. I bought these last year at an end-of-sumer sale and they’re no longer in production. Finally got them shortened to the perfect length this year. However, in the intervening year capri fashion got so much narrower in the legs that these now look baggy — what’s called “boyfriend” style. But one pair is a fashionable melon color and looks great with a lime tencel blouse.

• Jeans D boot-cut jeans-style pants. This pair of lightweight jeans-style cotton pants with a “Jeans D.” label turned up at a “naked ladies” party (where friends bring clothing to try on and exchange). I’d never heard of the Jeans D brand, but have since managed to locate them in the Juniors section on eBay, some under “Jeans D” and some under “D Jeans.” If anyone knows where I can buy them retail, please get in touch.

>Boo, hiss, Eddie Bauer

>I’m frittering away my weekend returning t-shirts to Eddie Bauer. The “petite” versions of two of their t-shirts reveal not just too much cleavage — they reveal my bra, all the way down to the band at the bottom.

No, these aren’t “layering” shirts, cut low for a tank top underneath. They look fine on the models in the catalog. The problem seems to be that Eddie Bauer thinks “petite” means shorter length at the bottom, not shorter proportions throughout. Bleh.
Fortunately, the Gap — not known for their modest cuts of clothing — has V-neck t-shirt in petites that don’t have this problem. I don’t find Gap clothes to be as durable as Eddie Bauer items, but at least I can wear them in public!

>Advanced style (do it yourself)

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I’ve been looking for a retailer that carries mid-price, fairly aggressive fashion for women over 50.

Instead, I find a lot of dorky tailored and embroidered denim, relentlessly cheerful prints and patterns in ugly barn red (like this ghastly acryllic sweater from Clearwater Creek), and shiny, flimsy stretchy knits (Chico’s Travelers line). Most of it matches and coordinates, making it the kiss of death now that everyone under 40 is wearing “nothing matches” outfits.

My solution is to buy plain, natural fiber stuff from Eddie Bauer and Gap (they offer petite sizes and a variety of pant lengths) and mix it in with designer and vintage pieces I pick up at consignment shops and Seattle-area artisan seamstresses. I also look at Sundance catalog for ideas, though their clothes are not designed for short women.

I used to buy a lot from J. Jill. They’re known for incorporating up-to-the minute details (gathers, trims, buttons, raw seams, etc.) into classic styles, and they keep the pieces professional (no plunging V-necks, sheer fabrics, etc.). J. Jill is also known for using 50+ models with gray hair — a few years back, their iconic lead model was Cindy Joseph, profiled here in the new Experience Life magazine. Unfortunately for me, for the past few seasons J. Jill has been making much of their clothing in cream, beige, and pastels — a palette that just doesn’t work for my hair color and skin tone.

If you think the stores are slim pickings in terms of trendy “grown up” fashion, the websites for fashion for women over 40 or 50 are ghastly. Google the terms “fashion” and “older women” and you’ll find appallingly designed websites with pink backgrounds filled with patronizing “articles” that counsel you to dress in classic, dark colors, and cover up everything that might offend younger people (that would be your arms, legs, neck, feet, torso and “lank, thinning” hair). Think “burka.”

So I was thrilled to find Ari Seth Cohen’s blog Advanced Style. It’s filled with photos of women and men from their 50s into their 90s wearing high fashion. Some of the women are sporting very colorful, eclectic vintage clothes; others are wearing more of the European natural-fiber look that I admire. You’ll see colorful knits, fabulous boots, sharp vests, and all sort of inspiring fashion items.

I’m going to be 55 next month. I hope I look as good as this or this at 60! (And check out this inspiring fashionista in the leather skirt. She’s is 82!)