Old Navy Spring 2014 In Review

Plus a bit o’ Lands’ End and Athleta.

Girl 1 and I made a trip to Old Navy not long ago.  Here are some highlights.

The fit and flare jersey dress (first spotted on Ain’t No Mom Jeans):

Old Navy fit and flare dress

I think this will be my go-to summer day dress (the kind I was hoping to find at Boden).  Unfortunately, it is not very forgiving of the cortisol baby I’m carrying around in my midsection.  (The picture doesn’t show it, b/c I’m sucking in my gut with all my might. )  So I went up a size (XL), and found it more flattering in the midsection but too big in the top and armholes.


So, I bought the XL and plan to have it taken in up top.  It’s counterintuitive to bother getting alterations on a cheap, Old Navy dress.  But I wouldn’t think twice about getting alterations for a pricey special occasion dress I’d only wear once, so why not drop $20 on something I probably will wear dozens of times?  That’s my thinking.

The black and white is cute, also, but washes me out, I think.


This dress on the other hand:


Hospital gown chic.  No thanks!

 These cotton sweaters are similar to the polka-dotted one I got from Old Navy over a year ago, which I’ve worn and worn and worn again.  So I have high hopes.  I went with the anchor print.



I ordered a tall just for kicks, and wow, it’s tall.  Never mind.


This sweater was blah and not flattering.  (Surprise!  It’s even blah and unflattering on the model.)

Old Navy v neck cable knit sweater, women's

A silky, drapey top paired with skinny jeans is a good look, generally, I think.  But I just wasn’t feeling it with this top:

Old Navy women's printed crepe top

This top is pretty.  I might have gotten it in white, but the back is very sheer (“slub knit” is always the tip-off, isn’t it?).

Old navy lace front slub knit top

I ordered this skirt online and I love it.  The stretchy panel on top is flattering.  The fabric is very lightweight, so I wouldn’t wear it without a slip or a shaper.  Still, it doesn’t cling the way I was expecting it to.  I might get wild and crazy and order it in a color other than dark blue.  That’s right; I just might!  (I also tried this similar skirt from Lands’ End, and the ON skirt won out.)

Old Navy fold over jersey knit skirt

Girl 1 found a dress she likes.  She’s worn it almost every day, usually along with this cardigan (unbuttoned and tied in front, ’cause that’s the way we roll).  I wouldn’t mind a bit more material up top on the dress.  She’d prefer wearing a strapless ball gown to preschool.  This is an acceptable compromise.

Old Navy girls' floral print maxi sun dress

Real quick, I love this cardigan from Lands’ End.  I had looked for something similar in cut to my old pink cardigan that I’m wearing to shreds.  I ordered the cardigan in a M.  It’s held up in the wash so far, ‘though I’ve laid it flat to dry.

Lands End womens cable knit v neck cardigan

I also am loving my puffer vest.  I’m tempted to buy more colors.  (You’re a minimalist, Laura, remember?  You’re a minimalist.  Come on.)  But, it’s back up to $35 after being on sale for under $20.  So maybe I’m not as tempted.

Lands End core down puffer vest

Aaaaand, I think this will be my skort for the summer (in a Tall).  The ones I wore last summer were just a bit too flowy for my tastes.  I’m hoping to recoup some $$ on eBay.

Okay, I hope you were edified . . .  or something . . . by all that.  Thanks for reading!

Getting To the Bottom of It [Style & the SAHM]

or: The Long and the Short of It

or: Clerks At the Returns Desk Tremble When I Walk In

or: I Hope Y’All Appreciate Everything I Go Through For You!!

I don’t remember whether I’ve said it explicitly, but a basic premise of my quest is that I want to be completely satisfied with the clothes I wear.  I’ve gone through most of my life feeling . . . meh, okay . . . at best, about how I look and, more specifically, how I dress.


I’m a tolerably attractive person, with a healthy BMI, and I think I should be able to feel good about the image I present to the world.  But I’m pushing 31 here; I’ve got two kids (with plenty of bodily evidence thereof); I drive a minivan.  If I don’t get it together now, I don’t know that I ever will.

My husband and I work hard for 100% of the money we earn.  The clothes I buy should work 100% for me.

And all this is a long way of saying:

A good pair of shorts (or crops or capris or whatever) is hard to find.  Especially when one is almost completely limited to online shopping.

I did find some, actually.  I love these shorts from Boden (tho I don’t have any pics of me wearing them yet).

Boden Off-Duty shorts

They’re expensive, but they’re comfortable and, I think, flattering.  They sit just right on my hips.  They don’t fall too low when I bend down.  They do sag a bit in the bum, but I don’t care, especially in a thinner material like chino.  They’re long enough without looking awkward . . . like these do:


Not the look I’m going for

I found this pair of Dockers Bermuda shorts at Goodwill, and I was pretty pleased with them at first.  Pat says he likes them. But after wearing them several times . . . meh.  They aren’t very flattering (the Birks don’t help, but that’s another story).  The at-the-knee length just doesn’t work for me, and they won’t stay rolled up.

Same with these from Target:

Merona Bermuda shorts

I had high hopes for these chinos from Shade clothing:

Shade Clothing chinos

But when I tried them on, it was that old, sad story: the pair that fit in the waist were too tight in the hips and thighs, and the pair that fit in the hips and thighs were falling down in the waist.  And somehow they just didn’t present enough potential to warrant bringing them to a tailor.

Same with these from JC Penney:


These were too tight  and failed to motivate me to swallow my pride and order a size or two up:

Slim chino from Shade clothing

On Mary’s suggestion, I tried these linen pants from Old Navy:

I dig the cool, flowy look:


But the blue isn’t the right shade, and the khaki doesn’t fit right, and I don’t like the other colors. (Typical Old Navy: different colors fit differently.)

I found these and really liked them (despite their being from that place).

Merona 5″ chino shorts

I tried them on and they looked great but I got this feeling in the pit of my stomach that led to a conversation that went something like this:

Me: Are these shorts too short?

Pat: . . . Mmm . . . I dunno . . . maybe not . . . . How do they look when you’re sitting down? . . . Eh, well . . . they’re kind of . . . on the line.

Me: They’re the exact same length as my white shorts.

Pat: . . . Yeah, the white shorts are on the line, but I wasn’t going to say anything.


Whether or not they objectively are too short  (the inseam is 5 inches) really doesn’t matter.  If my husband thinks they’re “on the line,” they’re not 100% perfect, satisfactory, great, and I’m not going to buy them.  I want to look and feel chic & classy and appropriate for any occasion at all times (is that really so much to ask??? come on!).  If my shorts are “on the line,” then on a good day I’ll be self-conscious about garnering the wrong kind of attention . . . and on a bad day I’ll feel self-conscious about exposing great expanses of white, blubbery leg flesh.

Self-conscious = no good.

There are a lot of cute cropped jeans out there, but I’ve steered clear of them.  It gets hot here in the Mid-Atlantic, yo?  I can maybe do linen pants or cropped chinos, but denim past my knees is just too much for summer days.

I have this crazy idea that I should try a skort.  Rachel Meeks talks about how great it is to wear dresses in the summer.  I see her point, but I can’t get over my fear of overexposure (as Hallie would understand).  So enter these:

Athleta Whatever Skort

Athleta Wherever skort

I’m about to order them.  We’ll see how that goes.  If they don’t work, maybe I’ll just order a few more pairs of the Boden shorts and be done with it.  I am looking for a uniform, after all.

In the meantime, I wear my Boden shorts as often as I can.  And when those are in the laundry I wear the dreaded Dockers, or the on-the-line white shorts (for 30 seconds or so until they get filthy).  When the laundry situation gets really dire, well, if you knock on my door just don’t be surprised if it takes me awhile to come answer.

image via

“Hang on a sec!  I have to put on my barrel!”         image via the U. of Ky

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Polka Dot “It” Sweater, Take Two {WIWS}

Here we are, Palm Sunday.  Before reading this, I hope you’ve read Rosie’s Lenten reflection over at FL&P, gone to Mass, said your prayers, etc., because I’ve got nothing but frivolity for you here.  This is what I wore today:


I had an “Aha!” moment this week.  I”m sure y’all read the Dressing For Your Body Type series Emily at FL&P did a few weeks ago.  I read it and smiled and nodded my head.  It all makes sense, right?  Well, understanding the theory and putting into practice are two different things.

Earlier this week I was wondering how I could reproduce this outfit:

And then I realized: look how bulky the cardigan is around this lady’s waist!  She practically has rolls!  You don’t notice it at first because she’s a size 0, 18 year-old fashion model, but this sort of thing would not do me any favors.

Hence I went for this look instead:

Ta da!

No Gucci scarf around my bag but oh well.

No Gucci scarf around my bag but oh well.

In other news, I’ll do my usual Meal Plan Monday post and then take a break from blogging the rest of the week.  Have a blessed Holy Week.


Style and the Stay-at-Home Mom: Building the Uniform, Part 2

Before I go further with this series (you can read the first two posts here and here), I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the man who is my inspiration, both in fashion and in life: my husband. Patrick has perfected the art of the fool-proof everyday uniform, as shown in his fall/winter work wardrobe:


Sweater: Lands’ End (no longer available in Tall)
Jeans: Old Navy
Shoes: New Balance

Same style, same color, different sweater

Same style, same color, different sweater

Same style sweater, different color

Same style sweater, different color

3 sweaters, 2 looks.

But don’t worry, sometimes he cuts loose and does something a little different:


(Clearly, I’m fortunate to have a husband who doesn’t take himself too seriously and sometimes lets me have fun at his expense.)

So back to my fall/winter uniform:


My current line-up includes both new and old purchases. I must admit, I’ve been buying things here and there before doing a complete closet clean-out and reassessment. But it worked out okay (with they exception of a few flubs, described below).

For example, this outfit has a Gap Outlet cardigan from 2009. I pair it with a new, striped tee (a (rare) Old Navy clearance rack purchase of recent months) and a skinny belt.


This next outfit has another cardigan from the same Gap Outlet shopping trip of 2009. I pair it with a floral tank I bought from Lands’ End last summer (no longer available).

Until recently I wouldn’t think of combining a print with argyle, but I like how they go together (also seen with a polka dot skirt one recent Sunday):


One of these days I’ll clean that mirror.

Here’s yet another sweater from that same fateful Gap Outlet trip of 2009. I pair it with a scarf I found at a yard sale.


But with jeans.

One of my favorite recent purchases is this sweater (which I wore in this What I Wore Sunday post):


I’m trying to accessorize more when I go out, but I’m not quite sure what to do with this one. This necklace (discussed in this post) would be good in a different color, but I see red + green and think Christmas tree:


These earrings look the part, I think, but, I dunno, would you wear them to story time at the library? (And would you trust your toddler not to rip through your earlobes with them?)



So I’m on the lookout for a scarf or necklace to wear with the polka-dot sweater.

Next in my current line-up, I have a cable knit white cotton sweater:


This, however, is next in line for the give-away pile. You see, I bought this sweater at a consignment store recently. I wish I had Mary with me because I ignored the fact that it didn’t fit quiiiiiiiite right.

I just love the look of a white cable knit sweater. So crisp.

So Brideshead:

Alright, maybe fictional, effeminate Oxford boys of the 1930s are not the best fashion inspiration. But Kate is!

But mine just doesn’t fit exactly right. And one thing I’ve learned is that fit is everything. If you don’t have fit, you don’t have style. My white sweater would be better a bit longer and preferably a little fitted at the waist. And maybe a v-neck would be better?


Not quite the right fit.

Also it could use some accessorizing. Since becoming a Color Me Beautiful aficionado, I’m convinced that white and black wash me out and it’s better to wear color near my face.

I thought perhaps a collared shirt underneath would work, like this:

But no.


Sarah Vickers I am not.

I have a hard time with collared shirts under sweaters. I don’t know what it is.

I also tried it with scarf, but nope. Maybe I’ll try tying the scarf a different way, or a different scarf.

Maybe if I'll try tying the scarf differently.

Maybe if I’ll try tying the scarf differently.

So, a better-fitting white sweater is also on my look-for list. In the mean time, I still wear the sweater because . . . well, I still kind of like it. My new rule for buying clothes, whether at a thrift store or elsewhere, is to buy something only if I’m 100% satisfied. In a world of unlimited wants and limited resources, though, my rule for keeping things once I’ve already purchased them is maybe . . . 75% satisfaction. 😉

I learned a few things just as I was taking pictures for this post. For example, I have worn this combination a few times. But after taking a picture I mended my ways. Meh.


Belting it didn’t help much:


I bought the striped shirt from a thrift store a few months ago (duh duh DUN), and it has now received what most of my thrift store purchases have received (i.e. the boot). The cardigan was a Target purchase and, like most things I’ve bought there, it hasn’t kept its shape. For some reason, though, it looks okay with the chambray shirt, so I’m keeping it around for a while longer.

But with jeans.

But with jeans.

Sometimes I wear the chambray shirt (another recent Old Navy clearance find) on its own with this scarf:


I also have a heavy wool sweater for very cold days, like this past Thanksgiving:


Just recently, when I should have known better, I bought a $9 striped, dolman sleeve top from what is truly the dregs of the retail market: Ross . . . in the junior’s department {hanging head in shame}. I don’t have a great picture, but you get the idea here:


When I bought it, I didn’t notice the tag saying “HAND WASH ONLY.” Right, like that’s gonna happen. I machine washed it in cold water, hung it to dry, and it didn’t fit as well afterward. Now, a couple more cold-water washes and drip-dries later, it’s pilling, it has threads coming off, and it’s lost even more shape. $9 down the drain.


Well, there you have it: my everyday uniform for the colder months.

Except that I haven’t discussed, you know, the entire lower half of each outfit. That is a post in itself, (make that two posts or three) for next time . . . .

What I Wore Sunday: The Polka Dot “It” Sweater

So this is what I wore to Mass today:

Someone was good at Mass AND at the grocery store and got some MnMs.  I was good too but only got a bag of dates.

Someone was good at Mass AND at the grocery store and got some MnMs. I was good too but only got a bag of dates!

Someone was good at Mass AND at the grocery store and got some MnMs. I was good too but only got a bag of dates!

The sweater was an impulse buy at Old Navy a few months ago.  Turns out I inadvertently found the “it” sweater of the season, at least in the < $50 range.  This is new for me.  Usually, my impulse buys turn out to be “not it” items.  But, at least according to Pinterest, I lucked out this time:

From hello-gorgeous-blog.blogspot.com

I like the look of a button down underneath it, but it doesn’t work for me.  I probably would need a size up for that to work.

Zooey Deschanel from “New Girl”

And check out the lovely Erika, in her WIWS post for today.  (I promise I didn’t see her post until after I had selected my own outfit!)

Anyway, My Lenten contribution to the blogosphere will be a two-part (possibly three-part) series on cooking Good Enough Fish.  First part is coming tomorrow  here.  Check it out!  Unless of course you know how to cook Really Good Fish, in which case I have nothing to offer you.  😉

For more Sunday finery, check out the link-up at Fine Linen and Purple.  Thanks, Kendra and Emily, for hosting!  Happy Mardi Gras everyone!

7 Things I Learned While Shopping for (Inexpensive) Jeans

I went shopping today and learned a lot today about denim, about marketing, about the world at large.  Here I share some of my more profound insights:

— 1 —

Thanks to the modern miracles of Spandex and low-slung waistbands, ladies today have a choice of fits in their jeans: do you want them to fit for the first few hours out of the dryer?  or do you want them to fit in the later half of the day?

Choose the first:


Jeans I already owned. Don’t stay up. Purchased at a thrift store to tide me over until I had more time to shop.


And you literally will be holding your pants up to keep them from falling off by the end of the day.

Choose the second and you look like this at first:

But they will loosen up in a few hours but still stay on you of their own accord.  At least that’s what the salesladies at LOFT assured me.

— 2 —

Forget everything you’ve heard about size variation and vanity sizing, blah blah blah.  LOFT’s sizes are correct.  Everyone else’s are wrong.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

— 3 —

Once you find a pair of jeans at LOFT, or course they will be out of the correct style (skinny but not ankle skinny and not “super skinny” if you please), in the correct fit (curvy, not modern–after two kids I no longer am modern), in the correct color (dark but not black).  Figures.  But if you order from the store you get free shipping.  Sweet.*

*BTW, I don’t live in that lovely world in which LOFT jeans are “cheap” or even “inexpensive,” especially when (oh, the shame!) I buy them at full price.  They are still safely in the two-digit price range, however, so I’m lumping them together with truly “cheap” jeans.

— 4 —

Old Navy’s jeans are awful.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

I was going to post a full picture here, but then I remembered pictures live forever on the internet.

I was going to post a full picture here, but then I remembered pictures live forever on the internet.

{*Update: over a year later, I tried Old Navy’s jeans again and they weren’t so bad. . . . I just had to go up a size to get them over my wide muscular voluptuous imposing . . . majestic thighs.  Fit your thighs and hips first!  The waistband can be altered. *)

— 5 —

Pockets are important.  It’s all about the pockets.  They need to be wide and low, not small and high.   Because whatever your pockets are, your rear end will look the opposite.

Some of the worst offenders in the pocket sizing department are the jeans for Vera Wang’s Kohl’s collection.

I like to imagine Vera personally designing each piece for the lowly Kohl’s line with the same love and care she puts into her high-end bridal gowns.  But there’s no way Vera, in all her sleek chicness:

English: Designer Vera Wang at Ralph Lauren's ...

would come up with these:

Okay, they don’t look so bad in this picture, but believe me, they are.  I think the pockets are correctly sized for pants size 00 but they don’t make the pockets bigger as the jeans get bigger.  Something like that.

— 6 —

Kohl’s has altogether too many choices.  It’s so dizzying.   They do have one line of jeans that has decent back pockets, however:

Can’t get the picture to work.  You can see it here.

(And yes, A, I did notice your back pockets the other day but, no, I’m not in the habit of checking out your behind.  Honest.)

But they don’t fit me well in the front.  (No picture, you’re welcome.)  Ah well.

— 7 —

 I think choice in general makes clothes shopping hard.  That’s why shopping for clothes at Costco is so appealing.  One or two options, no possibility of trying them on.  Grab it and go.  It works!  Have you seen how the clothing section has expanded at Costco in recent years?  People like shopping for clothes that way.

Costco’s clothing boutique

The only jeans I saw at Costco were of the Gloria Vanderbilt variety, and I had been forewarned.

Gym pants, though . . . I was in the market for gym pants, along with jeans.  I found a pair of gym pants at Old Navy that were okay, but I didn’t like the price and the fit wasn’t perfect.  Tried on a few more at another store, and they just weren’t right.

As I was walking out of Costco, however, I grabbed a pair of Kirkland brand gym pants.  I still don’t know if they fit.  They actually cost more than the pair at Old Navy.  But I didn’t have to think about it.

And really, after trying on all those jeans, they had me at “elastic waist.”

Happy weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

What I Wore Sunday, Confessions of a Late Mass-Goer

I ran late for mass today.  Suffice it to say, I was running late for reasons 100% my fault, I am very repentant, and I shall never make the same mistakes again.  And God cut me a break because Father started mass a few minutes late, which means I wasn’t late after all.

You see, Pat and I have determined three very important guidelines for determining whether you are late for mass:

  1. If you are inside the church before the priest processes in, you’re not late.
  2. If you are in your seat before the priest reaches the altar, you’re not late.
  3. If one of you achieves #1 or #2 while the other parks the car, the car-parking spouse is not late by virtue of the first spouse’s being not late.

No. 3 didn’t apply today because we went to mass separately, for the third time in a row.  The girls are sick yet again.  Please, please Spring come soon!

I went to an English mass for, I think, the first time in at least a month.  I attended the Spanish mass the last two times, and Latin the times before that.  Because we usually go to a Latin mass, I still have to look at the cheat sheet for the new responses when we do go to an English mass.  Very humbling.

So anyway, this is what I wore:


My jacket is from Old Navy, at least 5 years ago.  It’s a testament to how their clothing used to be of good quality.

I like to think my outfit looks a little bit like this get-up from J. Crew:



                     See it now?

J. Crew says that “a denim jacket makes everything seem a little more effortless.”  Does anyone else out there get annoyed by the idea that our outfits are supposed to look “effortless”?  At this stage in my life, “effortless” is pajamas.  Just getting dressed at all is an effort and I don’t care who knows, dammit.

For more Sunday finery, check out the link-up at Fine Linen and Purple.  Thanks, Kendra and Emily, for hosting!

Never Too Old To Play Dress Up

Sooo, Thursday was one of those days.

IMG_0862 IMG_0859


Come 5:30 p.m., the girls were fed but still grumpy.   Soup for Pat and me was simmering on the stove, but Pat wasn’t due home for another hour.    The house looked like this:IMG_0871


Christmas tree righted but not much else

I contemplated getting the girls ready for an early bed time, but fiiiiiiiirst, I rested my tired bones on the couch and scrolled through the blog reader on my phone.  I saw that Grace of Camp Patton did a fashion post called “Open to Interpretation,” where she takes an “inspiration” outfit picture and recreates/reinterprets the look with her own clothes.

This was the “inspiration”:

This was Grace’s interpretation:

Thinking this was a blog link-up, and noticing that some of the pieces I own would kind of work, and since I  obviously had nothing better to do, I said what the heck, and . . . . I hauled the girls down to the (finished!) basement for some Sesame Street, locked the baby gate behind me, and began a nice relaxing game of dress up.

Here’s what I came up with:


Cardigan from Target, Skirt from LOFT

Big pearls with sparkly beads, gift from my sister Lizzie.

Big pearls with sparkly beads, from Ann Taylor, gift from my sister Lizzie.



Material of the skirt.  It looks more golden in real life.

Material of the skirt. It looks more golden in real life.

I was happy to find a use for this cardigan.  I love it because it reminds me of the print in Kate’s dress here:

but it never fit right with the outfits I’d tried it with before.

Later that night I went back to Camp Patton and realized it wasn’t a link up after all.  Just something a few blogger friends do amongst themselves.  😦

Oh well, my faithful readers still get to share in my fun.  Hi Mom!  Hi Dad!