In general, I think I have a better sense of what works for my body and lifestyle. I also think I spend less on clothes than I used to, but I have not backed this up with credit card statement analysis. I have gotten better at returning things on time. Earlier in the year, I was better at reselling whatever didn’t work. I need to get back on that.
I work in New York City. Companies have gone more casual. My office has a business casual dress code with most women veering on the casual end and it saddens me. With that said, women dress for other women and I’m pretty demotivated to dress nicely! Of course, it is a personal choice on how to dress, but I still prefer to dress nicer. Even outside of the office, when I do go out, people don’t dress up. And it’s not because we’re going to a KBBQ. I prefer to buy clothes that can be worn all the time.
I still love neutral colors, especially black and navy. It’s versatile. I used to really like red as an accent color. Now, not so much. Perhaps forest green is the new red for me?
Brands I can’t quit
Uniqlo. Still my favorite for basics and the occasional collab. I consider it affordable enough that sometimes I buy at full price. I also had no problems with their e-commerce this year. I prefer to pay through PayPal (and they refund return shipping). My 2018 faves:
- Airism slip (previously). I wear this year-round under most dresses. Sorry, it’s not available… I did wait 4 years for it to come back the last time so I did stockpile this!
- U Crew Neck Short-Sleeve T-Shirt (previously). The Uniqlo U collaboration is recurring and each season has a new batch of colors. I haven’t checked out the new season (just launched) to confirm the fabric weight is still the same but I’m semi-shocked that Uniqlo increased the retail price from $9.90 to $14.90! You can find the past season on sale. New season also has a boxier relax fit version (unsure if it’s the same weight).
- Blocktech Outerwear (previously). However, this is one where I like to see them in person as I do not like the stiffy, boxy ones. Current Blocktech styles.
- Tomas Maier Flight Jacket. I got it in olive green (sold out). It’s on the lighter side for a jacket and perfect for layering, travel. Lots of pockets. This was an unexpected love for a lackluster (to me) collab.
- Extra Fine Cotton A-Line Striped 3/4 Sleeve Dress (previously). My favorite dress of the summer and perfect for those balmy summer days. It also does not require ironing after washing! Uniqlo has brought it back in slightly different colors. It also comes in dark solid colors, but I personally prefer the lighter colors since it’s a bit tenty.
- Light V-Neck Cardigan (previously). Also another summer staple. Hunter green has been having a moment and I couldn’t resist (and it’s a departure from my standard black and navy). Hope they will bring back the style for this spring, but I am stocked up for now.
COS. My favorite for neutral colored workwear or dressier events, but it takes a lot of work to find items that I love and material that isn’t high maintenance. COS does a good job at describing the fit and including a close up of the material, however, I often order two sizes to see which one works. I think if you had a ruler body shape, it would be much easier… Really wish they had a review system. They also opened an outlet at Woodbury Commons, but I found it to be pretty expensive. My 2018 faves:
- Stud earrings. I don’t have any allergies, these were well worth the full price. I liked them so much that I also got a pair of the oval stud earrings in gold and silver.
Oval Stud Earrings, Curved Metal Stud Earrings
- Dresses. I need to find a good tailor as COS is a European brand and not that petite-friendly. I could do with a slightly shorter hemline.
Sleeveless Wool Dress, Tailored A-Line Dress, Draped-Neck Pleated Dress
J.Crew I’ve said it before — J.Crew isn’t what it used to be. The crazy sales were too hard to resist. I also love that J.Crew often has petite sizing. I return a lot but I also managed to find staples. Given the great sales prices and superior quality over the Factory brand, I stopped browsing the Factory site.
- Sweater Coat and Blazer. Knitwear provides some structure but less structure as a blazer. The long Juliette collarless sweater-blazer is a cotton/poly/wool blend. The black looked so dingy, but the camel was perfect. I’ve also mentioned the Open-front sweater-blazer before.
- Tissue Turtleneck. With age, I pay more attention to warmth and covering the neck! This turtleneck is very light and perfect for layering under sweaters. I wouldn’t wear it on its own. I love the navy and camel stripe combo. I was on a huge turtleneck kick in 2017 and actually prefer these tissue turtlenecks over the Uniqlo Heattech ones (too warm!).
- Reusable everyday tote in camo (previously). This was a super late 2018 purchase, but I’ve used it so much that it merits a mention. I think it’s hard not to tote in NYC. I usually stick to a smaller crossbody but when I need to haul more stuff to work, I’ve been using this.
Brands for browsing and the occasional purchase
Brooks Brothers. Zac Posen is their creative director. I’m a fan of adding items I like to a wishlist and checking back for sales. I don’t like shopping in store. I never seem to find anything there, it feels really stuffy, and their return policy is stricter. If you like J.Crew, read on…
- Main line: The fit is meant for someone with a figure. I love their blazers and most jackets. The quality is very good and substantial, and the prices match the quality. I wouldn’t even think about buying anything at full price. BB would easily win if you were to compare a J.Crew item. They also have nice prints or textured fabrics. They also have petite for some items and have complimentary hemming (I haven’t used it though). In general, I have to remind myself if I really need something since this line is more formal and often too dressy for work.
- Red Fleece line: The look is very classic/vintage for a younger, trendier audience. The quality is more on par with J.Crew yet comparatively lower prices. It also runs smaller than the main line. I have ordered stuff from here in the past but I think all of them was sent back.
Ann Taylor. Most items are too trendy for me — I much rather be head to toe in J.Crew than Ann Taylor. I used to really like their ponte leggings but they’ve changed them. It’s a plus that they use Shoprunner, especially with a 30 day return period which I’m still not that used to. Mini reviews:
- Seasonless Stretch Sleeveless Sheath Dress. Look no further for a sheath dress with simple lines. The fabric is similar to the defunct J.Crew Super 120s line. It comes in petites and talls in a range of sizes.
- Luxewear: I think this is supposed to be a nicer, dressier line? I liked this coatigan.
- Faux wrap tops: They have a ton of faux wrap tops. I got one on clearance over the summer with wool in it. It’s perfect for layering under cardigans with a perfect amount of drape. It also washes well. Ann Taylor has great quality/value compared to e.g. Anthropologie.
- Leggings: Did not like the seams on the Ponte leggings. The button ponte leggings were much better but stretch like craaazy. Don’t love the seam down the Faux leather ponte leggings, but it is a no-brainer when it’s on sale for $25.
H&M. I love browsing their new arrivals. Don’t love the shipping boxes they use, but returns are super easy. Over the summer, I was constantly checking for popbacks of their eyelet tops and dresses. I like browsing their dresses and home items. For the more expensive items, I wait for a code.
Natori: I used to be loyal to Gap Body but now it’s Natori. Natori is often excluded for site-wide sales, I found a good range of sizes and styles at Nordstrom Rack.
Zella: For bottoms, I like Nordstrom’s house athleisure brand. I still need to take advantage of the alterations allowance from being a Nordstrom cardmember for the bottoms that were too long. I like the high waist and cropped styles. Note: The Rack only has a made for Rack line. I think the same goes for anniversary sale styles. I prefer to go for the main line’s quality.
Pretty unexciting here. I wear Adidas Stan Smiths, Repetto, Ferragamo (Vara and Varina), and Birkenstock. I have leather ankle boots from previous years. In general, I visit my cobbler to get rubber soles added to shoes and this helps the life of leather sole shoes, which justifies buying nicer shoes. I did pick up a new pair of Birkenstocks since I wanted the platinum gold Arizonas. I have not been a fan of any of the Ferragamo seasonal styles and feel set on the Repetto-front. Aside from that:
- I got two pairs of the Ara Lauren sneaker flats — it’s a German brand that I saw at a store that sells Birkenstock in Taipei that I later found on Amazon. What I really like is that they come with an easy to remove inner sole/insert, which I replaced with a Dr Scholl’s insert (I’ve been having some heel pain). They do run slightly big and I tried both my normal size and a half size smaller. To exchange inserts, my normal size worked perfectly. Know that Amazon pricing is fluid and that I got them for waaay less thanks to camelcamelcamel (third party site that tracks/alerts Amazon price drops). The pink color reminds me of Missoni.
- I got shearling boots and house slippers from Costco for $20-30, which I thought was so cheap. I never had Uggs and don’t think I care to…
I also went a little crazy for shoe inserts since you can use your FSA card (read the fine print though), which I need to experiment with the above.
All photos from the retailer site.