Recent Purchases: Hits and Misses

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I’m slowly filling in holes in my wardrobe. Though I lost some weight from Whole30 I am still not the same shape and size I was last winter so I need to do a bit of purchasing. I’m also noticing how some of my “classic” items aren’t all that classic. For example, Monday morning I was wearing a cream sweater (see below) with cream trousers and thought brown shoes would be perfect. I went up on a shelf in my closet to pull out my “classic” brown suede booties and realized they have a hidden platform, a weird chunky toe that points up a bit, and the brown is very reddish (these are the booties I’m describing). Yep, they’ll be on eBay before the month is through! Anyway, below are items I have recently tried, some I have loved and kept and others that didn’t make the cut:

Halogen Zip Detail Leather Moto Jacket

Halogen Zip Detail Leather Moto Jacket

I have a green leather jacket, a blue leather jacket, and a fake leather jacket but I really want a black leather one that is a classic fit, classic cut, and can be something I wear for a long time. In high school I had a black biker jacket, I wore it all four years and into college. I still have it, but it’s a very dated silhouette and I’d like a simpler version. This jacket from Halogen appealed to me because there weren’t any funky details, it’s under $300 for real leather, and it comes in petite. A big issue with previously purchased jackets is the sleeves are too long (or with the faux leather, it has bracelet sleeves which makes it hard to wear with long sleeved clothes, and well, faux leather isn’t very warm).

The jacket is well made, and like all the other Halogen leather pieces I own, very soft. This isn’t a classic biker jacket with the notched collar, but with a moto snap collar and then the wide placket to be able to zip up the jacket. The details are subtle so it’s a piece that will stand the test of time. A petite large fit me nicely, and I am usually a generous 12 or slim 14 in coats and need bust space. The sleeves weren’t too tight with a lightweight sweater, and the lining was soft against bare skin.

But I returned it. I didn’t LOVE it, and honestly, it looks so similar to my green leather jacket. It’s a little too polished for what I want; right now I want something that can wear a bit, dress up maybe with a midi skirt, but mainly be what I throw on with a tee shirt and jeans. While this is a great price for a high quality leather jacket, I am still looking for the right one for me.

Halogen Varsity Pleat Skirt

Halogen ‘Varsity' Pleat Skirt

During the Nordstrom Anniversary I purchased this skirt to replace this skirt from Hinge that I wore to DEATH last winter. Yeah, no. The skirt emphasized everything I’d like not emphasized and I realized it’s because the flare is right from the waist. So I returned it and decided to try this skirt from Halogen; the pleats start lower and are better managed (no belly pleating).

This skirt runs small. I purchased a 12 (my normal size in Halogen) and regular (more length for work) and I could hardly pull it over my rear and I couldn’t zip it more than an inch. Oh, and the description doesn’t mention that it’s textured, like a mini waffle weave.

The Vince Camuto Notch Collar Cape is so odd I had to share multiple photos

Vince Camuto Notch Collar Cape

I briefly mentioned this cape in this post, but think it deserves a proper review, especially since I wrote a review over a week ago on Nordstrom and it has yet to be published, and because other Wardrobe Oxygen readers mentioned the same issue with it.

While I own a lot of Vince Camuto and think they’re a great choice to wear runway-inspired trends without spending a ton, they sometimes go too cheap or get a trend completely wrong. This is one of those times. The cape is made out of a suiting-like material (and a cheap scratchy suit at that) and lined only in acetate; this isn’t outerwear but more like a weirdly shaped blazer. And it is weirdly shaped; I ordered a Large and it was huge on me, I looked as though I was in the Talking Heads. On the models the button seems to be near their navels, on me it was closer to my crotch; buttoned the collar gaped and looked cheap and unbuttoned it tented out. The armholes were very low down, I couldn’t get my hands out unless my arms were bent, and then only the first half of my forearms. No way could I reach the pockets. Mega fail.

LOFT Custom Stretch Trouser Pants Marisa Fit

LOFT Custom Stretch Trouser Pants – Marisa Fit

I now own two pairs of these pants. I wore them here in black, and now I also own navy. These pants are the perfect work pant. You can machine wash them (I line dry, I hang by the legs, making a crease and a clean look by matching the seams to one another and using the weight of the pant to make the legs taut), they’re stretchy, yet hold their shape all day and through multiple wears, look professional/pair nicely with blazers, and the lack of lining does make them not as polished but more comfortable for business casual offices. Though they have belt loops, the waistband is very flat so it doesn’t look bulky under fitted knits. The pockets are ridiculous, I can’t even fit a credit card in them but again, no bulk. I purchased the 14 petite and they are a comfortable fit and comfortable length with mid-height heels. The Marisa Fit is best for me because while I have a booty, I don’t have a very hourglass shape. The Julie Fit of these pants is better for curvy frames, and the Zoe Fit is great for straight shapes with smaller booties; they all come in Regular, Petite, and Tall. All this and under $80 (and then LOFT is always having some sort of promotion!).

lands end lofty sweater

Lands’ End 3/4-sleeve Lofty Blend Cable Pullover Sweater

I thought I ordered a Large, I ordered a Medium. It fit, but it fit too well to the point of looking dated.  I think if I exchanged it for Large Petite I’d like it better.  This sweater is very soft, perfect for those who can’t deal with wool and scratchier fabrics. The knit is tight so no need for an under layer for modesty. It looks expensive and elegant, a classic. This sweater would look nice with jeans, but I think can dress up and look quite lovely with a button-front shirt underneath, or paired with a pencil skirt or work trousers. However, I mentioned this sweater in my post where I was looking for a fisherman sweater and this sweater is NOT that. This is a tailored, ladylike sweater. A great sweater, but you won’t be mistaken for Ernest Hemingway in it for sure!

lands end drifter sweater

Lands’ End 3/4-sleeve Button-back Cable Boatneck Drifter Sweater

Gotta love it when the sale item is the one you like best! I cheated a bit with this sweater, I had borrowed the lavender version of it from Gwynnie Bee this summer. From Gwynnie Bee, I ordered a Large and it was a bit too heavy and boxy for me. However, in cream I thought a Large would be quite Hemingway-esque. But like the other Lands’ End sweater I seemed to flake out and ordered a Medium (what I wear in Lands' End for most knits and dresses). When it first came I thought it was too fitted to accomplish my goal, but I tried it with different items in my wardrobe and decided this size is more flattering and versatile. I wore it this weekend sightseeing with my Gap Real Straights rolled like boyfriend jeans and my Converse Shorelines and as mentioned above, wore it to work with cream tropical wool trousers and booties. I’ve styled this sweater at home with my pleated leather skirt and also like it over a denim shirt. It has a boatneck and gold buttons in back which makes it look a bit more expensive and special than a traditional cable, but may limit your styling. At the time of writing this, there were still lots of sizes available in Petite, Regular, and Plus.


MICHAEL Michael Kors Faux Wrap Maxi Dress

This is not something I needed, but per my post Wednesday, something I bought to hopefully wear to a wedding.  I really wanted this in blue but it was out of stock so I ordered it in black, 12 Petite. I ordered for the wedding, but thought the fabric and style would make it year-round wearable and versatile enough to dress up and down.  Glad I ordered petite because this dress is LONG! Like even in petite I'd need to wear heels to not have a train long. And that's not where the fail ended for me. The sleeves are a weird length (longer on me than in the photo) that look too casual for the rest of the dress (and tight too), the neckline was so low I'd have to pin to hide my bra, and the wrapping in the middle added bulk instead of flattering my curves.  A plus is that it fit nicely in the torso and over my hips and rear; the fabric is opaque and heavy enough to not cling.  I'm glad I didn't get the blue because I may have fallen in love so much with the color I would ignore the faults in the dress.  I think this dress would look far better on someone who is taller, and I think it's made for a woman with her curves below the waist; some hips would really make the skirt flow nicely.

So now I want to hear from you, have you purchased anything lately that is phenomenal? Anything so awful fellow readers should get a warning? I learn so much from all of you, I’d love to know what’s on your radar!

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. My latest fashion hit: $5 knit mini skirts from H&M. Something I never thought would be a “hit” for me has turned into a wardrobe staple already. Part of this is due to my workplace’s dress code; it is casual as dress codes go but leggings require some sort of skirt (“no leggings as pants”), and these inexpensive stretchy tubes do just the trick. I also like the added coverage over my bum when I’m out and about, and I’m sure I will appreciate that extra layer come wintertime. When I hiked down to my local store this week to pick up a basic black one, I saw they were on a two for $10 deal. The only other option available that fit my wardrobe palette and style was leopard print, in which the biggest size they had was a medium. I am generally wearing a 14 these days.. not so medium. Then I remembered that my existing small collection of these (all size large) tend to stretch out a bit between washes and decided to give the medium a whirl. It totally fits, and the leopard print looks great wrapped around my butt, if I do say so myself. 🙂 I appreciate the little ego boost, H&M! My hips sure haven’t had anything size medium hugging them in years.

  2. This was a fabulous review! I really enjoyed how thorough it was. I personally like hearing about misses but usually have to depend on the reviews on site; this was great!

  3. It hasn’t been cold enough in England (until just this week) for me to think about autumn shopping. I did get an excellent pair of grey floral print jeans from Gap about a month ago but haven’t really bought anything since. Now it’s gotten colder I’m craving burgundy-coloured accessories i.e. shoes and bags.

  4. Hi Allie, I am interested that this is the second time in recent posts that you have mentioned wearing something black to a wedding. Am I the only one who has it ingrained that you do not wear black to a wedding? I have done it but it has always been a bright print on a black background and even then, looking back at the photos, I think ‘hmmm, not v wedding appropriate’.

    1. This reminds me of a painful episode in which I wore a black dress to a wedding in the 80’s. In the deep south! I was in college and poor and it was the nicest thing I had. I remember a few stares. Fast-forward to a few weeks ago. Not only did some guests wear black to my cousin’s wedding, but my cousin wore black as well! Granted, she was an older bride, but the point is that times have changed and black is no longer a no-no at a wedding. In fact, it can be quite sophisticated in my opinion.

    2. I am 38 & would never wear black to a wedding. The women of my family all chose a dark color, one appropriate to the season. I don’t consider it a fashion “rule,” just a sign of respect and thoughtfulness not to wear black.

      I think Allie looks great in emerald green.

    3. The wedding I attended I was not the only one in black, there must have been a dozen others of all ages in the color. I think it’s a cultural/location/religion thing, and in my area black has become quite commonplace and accepted as wedding attire color.

  5. I think I just scored a new wardrobe favorite – the Michael Kors high/low maxi dress on sale at Nordstrom in a lightweight black wool blend. It has no waistline seam, which is a real plus for those of us who are long-waisted, and the lines are very flattering. The belt that’s included isn’t one I would wear, but I have plenty of belts that do work. I originally intended to have it hemmed to one length, but may actually keep it as is. It looks just as good with a denim jacket, western belt and cowboy boots as it does with pumps and a brocade evening jacket – possibly the most versatile thing in my closet at this point! I am happier with this than anything I’ve bought in ages. The same order also included a “miss” – the Michael Kors Logo Plate matte jersey dress. Not only did it run very small, but the plate is attached with a piece of brown faux leather that is completely incongruous with the rest of the dress. Oh well, the black wool maxi dress more than makes up for it. It’s supposed to be cool and rainy here tomorrow (finally!) and I know I will spend way too long trying out different looks with this great new wardrobe fave! Allie, thanks for the sweater insights – I’ve been looking at some of the same ones and this info helps a lot! Any idea where I can buy some good quality wool-blend turtlenecks in great colors before they are all sold out? Ann Taylor used to be my “go to” source, but they don’t have any yet. I splurged on one from Brooks Brothers and the color was wrong. I’m wondering if LE or LLB might have something – off to check their websites!

    1. Good question on the turtlenecks, I’ve seen some at J. Crew in the past but don’t know if they have them this year. And I saw that dress and was drooling over it but couldn’t imagine its versatility. Now reading your comment I can, but it’s sold out in my size 🙂

  6. I’m sad to hear that the cape was a miss! At first glance it looks wonderful – it’s in trend and has the neat cuts to take it up a step. I’m glad I could read a true review so I wouldn’t be swayed by a picture! On to the next hunt then!

  7. Thank you for this! Glad to know I’m not the only one hauling things back to the store. My recent hit was a pair of gray jeans from Macy’s. Great fit and great color. Even found long sleeve T to match for interesting options. Still looking for a chocolate brown cable knit sweater (not wool! Issues…). I thought this time of year they’d be everywhere. Nope. My old brown sweater was getting a little stretched out and hit the give away pile.

  8. Oops! Also have LE military anorak in Green on back order and hoping for good results once received.

  9. I bought a Banana Republic pendant necklace in August that has gotten quite a bit of wear. Also the Lands End denim jacket

  10. I am going through the same thing. I lost a lot of weight in the last year, unfortunately, stress induced. But with that I have to buy some new things especially pants. I have really fallen in love with Lands End offerings. Lot’s of wrinkle free work clothing that is cut well and stylish. I have also fallen in love with ponte because it feels like wearing pajamas at work.

    1. Stress induced weight loss bites ’cause you know that once the stress leaves, the weight will return. I lost 30 lbs. two years ago and was excited after the stress left, that my weight stayed the same. At the same time, I got a new job that required new clothing. I bought tons of new clothing in my new size. Fast forward six months, and none of the clothing fits. Ugh! Kudos to whoever invented ponte, it looks good, feels good and lasts all day without a wrinkle!

  11. Those LOFT pants are my go to even as I have changed sizes over the last few years. The fit is great and I have just purchased them in a different size as needed. It’s nice to have a few pants in my closet that I know I can throw on any day and feel put together. Glad to hear they work for other people because if they ever stopped making them I don’t know what I would do!

  12. Reader Kate is at work where they block Disqus but she sent me this super helpful email regarding fisherman sweaters: “I wanted to let you know, however, that my go-to for a true,
    classic fisherman sweater has been and continues to be L.L. Bean.
    You can find the older, true wool styles on ebay, etsy and in other
    places that sell vintage but I still like what they have in stock today.

    This is my absolute favorite ( ) –
    I know it’s mens and therefore a bit boxy, but that doesn’t bother me,
    especially in cold winters. Just size down and it should be slightly
    fitted enough to still work. SO SO SO WARM. I live in the south now so
    it doesn’t do me much good, but I kind of wish I had more chances to
    wear one! And although it’s not a Fisherman sweater, not exactly, this women’s sweater ( ) kind
    of has the same feel and heaviness. It may or may not be your style. I
    know with your newest entry you said you kind of found your sweater at
    Lands End (which I also love!) but if you’re still thinking ‘Fisherman’
    and looking, L.L. Bean might be a good place to check!

    By the way – I do NOT recommend the Signature Fisherman Sweater for
    women off of L.L. Bean. Its hem will barely reach the top of your jeans!
    I wish it was about four inches longer and then I think it would be
    worth the investment. Oh, well.”

  13. Thanks for sharing both the hits and the misses. It’s somehow comforting to see that you have the same shopping frustrations with fit and just “not quite right” items that I do. Sometimes fashion bloggers give the impression (perhaps non intentionally) that they just effortlessly pick up items that fit and work. Here’s hoping you find the items still on your wish list!

    1. A little secret – we don’t usually share the misses because no one will buy what we think sucks, and most bloggers get a commission off purchases made from their blog links. Oh no, I have a pile in the corner of my bedroom of things I need to mail or take back to retailers and sometimes the free things brands send me do not fit or flatter. Then the pieces I DO like sometimes need an alteration to properly fit. While we may have more experience with brands which helps us narrow down our choices, we still have the same struggles of most women in finding the perfect wardrobe additions! 🙂

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