Tag Archives: jeans

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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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.

>Jeans that look and feel great: Kut from the Kloth

>Eddie Bauer changed the cut of their jeans a year or so ago, as did the Gap, and I haven’t been able to find cute, comfortable jeans to wear. The new Eddie Bauer jeans look awful on me and the Gap jeans look great in the dressing room but when I get home they are just too low-cut to be comfortable or practical to sit down in.

I’d just about given up when I stopped in at Buffalo Exchange (a thrift shop chain focused on clothes for 30-somethings) on the way back from the Ballard Sunday Market. I spotted two pair of jeans, tried them on, and loved them both. The best pair was called Kut from the Kloth. The saleswoman raved about them but said the were no longer in production. I bought them — for $19.

Fortunately, the saleswoman was wrong. They’re still going strong, and Macy’s carries them in Better Denim (remember “Better Dresses”? Now it’s “Better Denim.”), and you can find them on eBay.

Turns out I’m not the only person who thinks Kut from the Kloth is the gods’ gift to the short, curvy woman.

Check out these reviews from The Demoiselles and Cleveland’s Shopaholic blog.

The one caution about Kut jeans? Watch out for the ones with the flaps on the back pockets. Ugh.

>The knees have it

>No, this isn’t a post about fitness and knees. It’s a post about women’s fashion — specifically, pants.

I was standing in my walk-in closet this morning trying to figure out why a pair of Eddie Bauer corduroy pants I bought two years ago look great, and why a pair I bought four years ago (same corduroy, same size) look dorky.
They have the same fit at the waist and hips, and the hems are the same width. But the newer pair looks hip and trendy and the older pair — they’re not quite “mom jeans,” but definitely dumpy.

Finally I figured it out. It’s the knees.
Current fashion includes both skinny jeans (tight everywhere, including the ankles) and flared jeans (wide at the ankles). But both styles are slim at the knees. Older pants, which were straight from thigh down to ankle, now look like something you’d see on a gardener or someone cleaning out their basement.
Weird, but enlightening.
I packed the older pair away. The style will be back in two or three years and, somehow, they’ll look just right. And I’m not just being snarky: Last week I had people raving about a pair of flat black leather riding boots I was wearing with an A-line skirt. Where did I get them? Well, 10 years ago, the last time flat boots were in style, I bought them from Santana of Canada. I nearly took them to a consignment shop five years ago when pointy toed boots were the rage, and two years ago when strange-looking heels and rounded toes were the thing. Fortunately, I held on to them. My fashion secret is a large closet and two attics.

>Fashion: Best of 2007

>I’ve put together a list of some brands I thought were particularly impressive this year. Note that many of the links go to a retailer’s site rather than the manufacturer’s; that’s because most of the manufacturers have pretentious “branding” websites with vacuous Flash intros and lousy navigation. The retailers, by contrast, want to sell things so they have sites that actually work.

SHOES
Corso Como. American-designed, Brazilian-made, these leather boots and shoes have a high-fashion look but quite a bit of comfort. High-quality materials put the prices in the $100 to $260 range. Look for them online at BarefootTess.com, Nordstrom.com, Piperlime.com, and Zappos. In Seattle, you’ll find them at local boutiques such as Nuovo Modo in downtown Seattle and the new Lambs Ear Shoes in Fremont. Note: You may want to size up a half size for these. And be sure to check for online sales.
Runners-up: Born (for comfort and quirky good looks) and Sofft (for a comfortable high heel; but be aware, you want to be sure to try on a pair half a size down…in the larger size, feet can tend to slide forward into the roomy toe box, leaving a gap at the heel).

BAGS
Mandarina Duck. This Italian company’s patented fabrics are striking and unusual, with bags featuring a mix of leather and nylon-type materials. Even leather bags are likely to feature a mix of sueded and finished leathers, plus plenty of pockets, sturdy construction, and models that magically expand via snaps and zippers. All this styling comes at a price ($200 – $400). Do beware of the synthetic fabric bags which, while resembling backpacks, are neither waterproof nor stain-resistant.
Runners-up: Matt & Nat vegan bags (at Shoefly and Sole Food in Seattle) and Libaire (online) for sturdy bags in rich-looking pebble leather.

BRAS
Wacoal. “Sure they fit great, but they’re so expensive,” you say. That’s no longer the case. You can find most styles of these $60 bras for $20-$25 (new with tags) on eBay—so try them on at Nordstrom, buy one, and get the rest online. (If you are someone who has long avoided underwires as being uncomfortable, a Wacoal can probably get you to reconsider.) To see Wacoal’s vastly expanded catalog of styles, for all styles and shapes, visit the major online lingerie sites like Bare Necessities and Fig Leaves, which have a better selection than Nordstrom. Fig Leaves has one fancy Wacoal model selling for just $15 this week.

TIGHTS
Now that sheer pantyhose have been declared hopelessly out of style, grownups can enjoy wearing opaque tights. Unfortunately, my top picks are devilishly hard to find: The synthetic-blend tights from Hot Sox. Nordstrom carries only the metallic version, so check out local shoe boutiques (where I just ordered two pair).

SLEEPWEAR
This is all about nightgowns and loungers, like the gorgeous lightweight cotton knits at Soma. Look for the long, slim V-neck loungers, sometimes with matching robes. These are not big, baggy t-shirts. (Do, however, watch out for the Soma sleepware that isn’t machine washable; who wants to hand wash a bulky bathrobe?)

JEANS
I tried quite a few styles and brands of jeans this year, and didn’t come up with any winners. I can, however, recommend Eddie Bauer‘s Classic Fit bootcut corduroys (the plain ones, not the fussy-looking embroidered ones). Eddie Bauer offers several fits in tall, regular and petite, including the contemporary Classic Fit with has a modern (slightly low) waistband. For those of you hunting for jeans, it’s always worth checking out the style advice (based on your measurements and preferences) at Zafu.com.

SWEATERS (BASIC)
No nominees in this category, I’m afraid. I didn’t like the styling of The Territory Ahead three-button cashmere (too boxy). Macy’s Charter Club house brand cashmere seemed narrow and tube-like and bunched up on the shoulders (but better than nothing—I bought one). Eddie Bauer didn’t have a single Merino wool sweater for women (it had winter sweaters made of cotton, a real mountaineering faux pas!). I thought the Sundance Catalog and Garnet Hill cashmere sweaters were a bit overpriced (and the Garnet Hill v-neck had one of those low, low necklines). The styling on the L. L. Bean cashmeres made them look like sweatshirts. J. Jill had novelty rather than classic sweaters (mostly cotton, some in wools). So, I have to confess, I got all my sweaters this year on eBay and at consignment shops. I did, however, order a Red Moon brand gray cashmere jersey at the Amazon.com sale this week, so will report that later. Does anyone have any suggestions?

>Objects in the mirror may appear smaller…

>Long ago — when you bought jeans at Army Navy stores and you weren’t in the Army or the Navy — I vaguely recall buying women’s jeans using men’s waist sizes.

Today, the ultra-pricey women’s fashion jeans are being sold by similar numbers. The problem is, what’s a 30 in one brand is a 32 in another, and so on. The online fashion site Adasa.com has been putting together a guide to sizing for many of the major brands (7 for All Mankind, Frankie B, etc.). However, when you see that a size 10 is a 31, check the General Sizing Guide above to make sure you correspond to Adasa’s definition of a 10 — because it runs a good bit smaller than a 10 in a non-premium line such as Eddie Bauer or The Gap.