fashion, inspiration, thoughts

Tee Be or Not Tee Be?

The perfect t-shirt. Sounds simple enough, until you recall that perfection is not actually possible. Simply trying to get as near perfection as we can is all we can do. However, that need not be quite as depressing as it sounds. Yes, I have spent years (like most of my teen and early adult years) searching for that t-shirt that stands out from the hordes, distinguishes itself by drape, length, material, cut, neckline, sheer-ness, and value. I have also purchased many t-shirts from Walmart, Target, Abercrombie, Ann Taylor LOFT, Madewell, Free People, James Perse, Rag & Bone, and other brands – too many to count. There are so many t-shirts out in the world it can be difficult to determine which ones are really going to be what you want. So, I am going to share my t-shirt favorites, a couple I dislike for comparison sake and t-shirts other style gurus suggest as well. Because, face it, this isn’t the first t-shirt blog ever written. Or even the one thousandth. But, I know I can always use additional opinions, so I am supplying my own!

The Criteria:

The aspects of the t-shirt that truly make the difference are material composition, cut, sleeve length, and the value (price vs. quality). The four of these together comprise the most perfect t-shirt you can find. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what the cost is, if the t-shirt isn’t something you feel amazing in, (or delicious, depending on what look you’re going for), then it is too much.

Material Composition:

It is important to take into consideration the fabric content of the t-shirt. This will affect the value of the tee as well as the drape and the sheer-ness of it. Depending on the style you desire, the fabric can give a boxy look, drapey, or fitted. The strength of the fabric determines the way it fades as it is washed – or even if it can be washed.

Cut:

Depending on the style of the t-shirt that you are looking for, cut is key! If you are looking for boxy, you would want the tee to a be shorter length, fitted tees should hit the top of the hip, while a drapey tee should be longer in length to achieve optimum drape. If you are like me, round butt and curvy hips, the length is even more important. The best t-shirts can go bad when they are the wrong length whether it results in the constant tup down, out, or getting stuck under your butt or hips.

Sleeve Length:

Sleeve length can make a boxy tee look very boxy or a slouchy tee look oversized. Some t-shirts have elbow sleeves. This can be cute rolled or long if you have thin arms. If your arms are larger, then a sleeve mid arm length is best.

Value:

Quality vs. Price. Very important! It doesn’t matter how affordable the t-shirt is if you have to buy 20 of them for every one at a higher price.

The Contenders:

Banana Republic – The Supima Cotton Crew $29.50

cotton crew banana republic
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This tee is 100% cotton but still washes well. It doesn’t shrink or fade, nor is it thin. I love the sleeve length, just long enough to cover the largest part of the arm but not tight. It is fitted as well, with a feminine shape but not too narrow. The length is also ideal – not too long, hitting at the upper hip.

By far my favorite t-shirt. The fit gives me that “Dang I look good!” feeling and dare I say, feel sexy with how it hugs the right places. But, as you can see in the picture, is not clingy or too tight on the torso.

 

Madewell – Whisper Cotton Crewneck Tee $24.50

madewell cotton tee
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By far one of my favorite non-boxy, boxy tees. It features a drop shoulder and a straight cut with room for a curvy shape. The sleeves roll beautifully yet remain an excellent length to cover the largest part of the arm without being tight. It is made of a light slub cotton. Is not thin enough to be sheer and doesn’t need a layer.

The length is perfect for this fit of t-shirt. Looks great tucked or left out. Has a slight shirt tail cut to the back of the tee with side cuts that remain modest. The only downfall, it says it is machine washable but they hold up best if hand washed.

 

Free People – We The Free Free Fallin Tee $58

free people we the free free fallin tee 58
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One of the best purchases I have ever made! Certainly the tee is THIN. Anything you wear underneath will be a tad visible. Which makes this perfect for a racerback bralette (FP has a Galloon racerback that is perfect, I will link it).

The top is long all around and runs large. I would suggest sizing down at least one, maybe two sizes. It is perfect with leggings or knotted to the side. It is a drapey fit in a polyester, cotton, and rayon blend. It is a longer short sleeve with a sewn fold. Perfect drapey, lived in look.

 

 

J Jill – Pure Jill Scoop- Neck Elliptical Tee

jjill elliptical tee 44
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The best part of this t-shirt is the cut. The Elliptical tee is a longer length in the back, (comes in petite as well), so it is perfect with leggings. The seam along the back just below the natural waist gives definition to the tee so it doesn’t look so blousy in the back. The front of the tee lies flat and just above the hip joint. Super soft cotton that doesn’t fade or shrink makes it a favorite!

This tee is perfect for lazy days with a long pendant necklace. I love it on the days when I am feeling bloated because the cut is so flattering and slimming. It has a built in shape but is cut generously to allow for a long, lean look.

The Unmentionables:

Abercrombie & Fitch – Relaxed V-Neck Tee $18

abercrombie relaxed tee
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Looks super cute on the model, I agree. And, if you are her size, the tee will look great. However, if you are any larger than a size 6, the tee shirt is small, tight and sheer. In addition, the neckline is very low, especially if you have a chest. The sides are also cut rather high. I generally like their items, and yes the tee is soft, but it is not a great fit.

I also don’t care for the sleeve length because it is so short and tight fitting. Also, this tee does not hold up well in the wash. It needs to be hand washed and it still frays, pills and looks dingy after a few wears.

 

Ann Taylor LOFT – Vintage Soft Pocket Tee $24.50

loft vintage pocket tee
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This LOFT tee is my least favorite. While I worked for the company, I tried many times to like this t-shirt. I probably purchased ten trying to find one I liked but I never did. For one, the cut is short. On the model it looks fine, but in real life, the longest part barely comes to the top of the hip. In addition, the tee is cut wide with small sleeves. The tee is bulky on the shoulder because of this and if both arms are forward, the tee bunches in the chest. In addition, the shirt shrinks and the seams twist when washed. My least recommended t-shirt.

 

Let me know if you like these tees or if you have your own favorites I should try!

inspiration, thoughts, Uncategorized

You and Success

I had the pleasure of attending a training for Junior League of Riverside this afternoon where the illustrious Vicki Clark spoke to us about organization and how to see projects through to fruition. Although I learned a great deal that will lead to successful futures for League members, I found what she had to say about Leadership and Success to be extremely advantageous. She spoke about how to view success through alternate perspectives and touched on how media is training us to view success in certain ways – for instance, basing success on money and possessions.

So, what should we base our successes on? Is success really something that can be represented by the amount of money in a bank account? The designer labels we wear on our backs? Our shoes, purses, and what shopping bags we carry around when we are at the mall? Social media has opened up a new world for the younger generations and it has caused us to be hyper aware of our “successes.” There are countless studies about how people who post everything on social media are likely sociopaths. But, does this mean that everyone who posts on social media feels this?

Personally, I post random things on my social media. I don’t plan posts and I don’t post an overwhelming amount of selfies. However, when I have a great workout or I am spending an awesome day at Fashion Island, I like to post those things. In other words, I suppose I am saying that my social media profiles are more representative of what is contributing to my happiness or what I am doing while happy.

Bringing this back to the question of what is success… For me, success is the ability to do things. I feel successful when I can spend a day reading, at the mall, the beach or Disneyland. These things remind me of the quality of life I am working for. Although we all struggle from time to time, I am happy that I have generally been in a decent position for someone my age. Yes, I struggle with the repercussions of poor financial decisions in the youth,  but I have made sure that I have the means to continue to grow and become more successful.

So what is success? I suppose, I think of successes as the crossing of goals off my list. I would like to get back to Europe and see countries I have yet to visit. If I come to a place in my life where that would be feasible, that would be a success for me. Marriage, having children – those things would be successes as well. Growing in my professional career, completing my first text, publishing, making friends, all of those things would be successes for me. But keeping that in mind, I have to remember that certain success comes with time and experience. We can’t all be a Kardashian or a young pop star. Success usually comes from working hard and putting in the time to gain the experience and the knowledge that is necessary to grow within ourselves. This might even mean that our goals, and therefore, our eventual successes will adapt to our growth. And that, to me, is a success in of itself. That you can understand that you have grown and your desires have changed as well.

Yes, I wish I was rolling in money and could have everything I could possibly want and never have to think about whether I can afford to spend money. It would certainly make life easier not having to be concerned with bills and the cost of living. But, ultimately, where is the joy in that? If you can have everything you want, those things begin to lose their value. Success is ultimately a feeling. A feeling about how you are doing at this stage in your life. The people we follow on social media that help us to feel inadequate are just in a different stage of their lives, their careers, hobbies or values. We shouldn’t rely on other people, our bank accounts, cars or sneakers to determine whether or not we are successful. We should allow our personal feelings of success to guide us and help us to feel free enough to enjoy where we are currently. Focusing on how successful (or not) you will be in 5, 10, or 15 years inhibits you from enjoying any success you have attained now.

So, my advice: Be happy! Enjoy the ability to buy a latte today. The fact that you can go to dinner and a movie tonight. Not everyone has the ability to do the things we may take for granted. I can’t buy Gucci tennis shoes but I can buy Nikes. That is a success. And, if I do purchase Gucci tennis shoes someday, I will know that I worked hard and I attained many levels of success on my way to that. But the shoes won’t represent that success, the personal joy I had along the way doing the things I could do, will be representative of my success. 25_quotes_about_success_18

thoughts, Uncategorized

The Retail Race

Let me be clear – I am a shopaholic. Confessions of a Shopaholic? Yes, that brilliant idea visited me in my sleep before it jumped the pond and landed in Sophie Kinsella’s brain to be developed into the Shopaholic franchise. (I will discuss this more when I review Big Magic… once I finish reading it) And to fuel this addiction, I spent many a year in specialty women’s retail (fancy name for LOFT & Chico’s) … mostly for the discounts.

But, because I have spent many years in retail, I understand the game they play with us. I understand the trickle down effect fashion has on the retail industry. Point in case, Fashion Week shows us the newest and hottest trends about a year in advance. By the time our local stores get on the trends, it is almost a year later. What’s worse, their marketing campaigns serve to make women feel as if they need a brand new wardrobe every season! I don’t know about you, but I sure cannot afford that (although I shop as if I can).

I follow A LOT of fashion bloggers on Instagram because I admire their style and their fearless fashion sense. But I also believe that many of them are sporting sponsored duds. I cannot believe anyone purchases new clothing that much and then just wears it to take pictures. I mean, why buy something if you don’t intend to wear it numerous times? Why spend the time to find items you truly love?

But as I write that, I am reminded that I spent a great deal of money in high school and my early years of college purchasing items because I loved them in the moment but then never actually wore them, or wore them only once. I understand and again – I don’t do this anymore. Instead, I have developed a returning issue. Meaning, I return probably 10% of what I purchase on a regular basis. Usually 15-45 days after I purchased it. Hey! I really liked it! I just realized I don’t a) have the proper additional items to pull of the look b) hadn’t eaten any food when I purchased it and now, after eating breakfast, it looks terrible on me or c) it no longer speaks to me.

This is the part that probably truly betrays the depth of my addiction to shopping and clothing… the items speak to me! They say to me “Buy me,” “I will make you happy,” or “I will emphasise all those squats you have been doing.” And I fall into it every time! However, I have found a compromise for myself. I only buy items I love, I don’t rush out and wear them right away, and I utilize the Cluise app, (no this isn’t sponsored, I actually really use the app). Basically the app is a digital closet. It can assemble outfits for you based on weather and event, but I rarely use this feature. Instead, I take pics of everything I purchase, (and am slowly adding everything I currently own), and add them to my digital closet. Then I construct outfits with what I have. Honestly, I don’t generally stick to these outfits, (because I am not an outfit girl, I am a separates girl), but it really helps me see what I have and how the new pieces with incorporate into my current wardrobe. Bonus: I can “see” my closet when I am in a store debating whether or not to buy that super trendy piece. And that is my coping secret.

I have also made an effort to limit my shopping at places like Forever 21, Hollister Co. and Tilly’s. I have realized that I purchase the items at seemingly cheaper prices, just to find the items don’t last and really don’t look good after you wear them once. Of course, it is quick fashion and is meant to only satisfy the season’s trends. And that is great for many women. However, I have found that I can find better fitting and higher quality pieces on sale for the same or less than the items sold by stores such as Forever 21. Such retailers? Madewell – they don’t always have a sale, but they do sometimes. And when they do, (such as an additional percentage off sale items), I shop heavy. I also use my student ID because they offer 15% off for teachers and students all the time, on everything, (don’t quote me, they may exclude third party merchandise). So, top was $68, marked down to $50, additional 50% off that AND THEN an additional 15%? That top is now about $21… And the top at Forever 21? $28.80? No return and may self destruct after first wear? No thank you!

Being a more full-figured woman, (a healthy 12/14, L/XL), fit and quality really matters to me. But I am also basically skating by financially so I really don’t have the room to purchase things at full price. So I try and do my due diligence and follow sales. For instance, Ann Taylor LOFT, (whom I worked for in the past), allows for price adjusting. When I began building my professional wardrobe, I did purchase some items at full or near full price. (Caveat, if you do shop there regularly, you really should have the credit card. Rewards system is fan-freaking-tastic!) So, I watched for when the items went on 40%. Sure enough, they did.I went and price adjusted. (My sister and her boyfriend went with me and had a cow… It was a process) In the end, I ended picking up double what I purchased initially AND I walked out with $1.25 in my pocket! I had a $300 budget and I ended up with nearly 1k in merchandise at ticket value. I should say, I used Cash Cards as well, and that helped quite a bit. But moral of the story, if you do your due diligence, you can really win and make out like a bandit.

Anyways, the point of all this. I think retailers put too much pressure on women to buy new things and to buy them immediately. Obviously, they have sales goals every single day that compound into month, quarterly and annual goals – I get that. But so do we. We have school, new tires, kid’s baseball fees, whatever it may be that we need to prepare for as well. And, I will admit that seeing women with their brand new Chanel, Louis Vuittons and Hermes bags on Instagram sometimes makes me feel inadequate. But, that is okay! I am so thrilled that those bloggers have reached that level of success. But I have reached my own level of success and you have to! So be proud of it and rock your new and old wardrobe staples and show the world that you are feeling good in your duds! And please, be smart about your shopping. The retailers give you the tools, you just need to use them!

In case you are curious, or follow my Instagram, I frequent Ann Taylor LOFT, Madewell, Free People (generally sale online), Banana Republic (by far the best credit rewards system I have seen) and JJill. 

inspiration, thoughts, Uncategorized

And Now, I am Back Again

For any of you who have possibly tried writing a blog before, it is hard. While I didn’t intend to leave my blog alone in cyberspace, untended and collecting dust, I did. I could blame inspiration, but I can’t blame something intangible. Inspiration, Elizabeth Gilbert (author of “Eat, Pray, Love” and “Big Magic”) would call it your genius, comes in waves, huge gusts,knocking you off your feet and pulling you in. And I, ever powerless to resist creativity, goes with it. But inspiration doesn’t stick with you. Oh no, inspiration leads a fleeting existence, constantly leaving the poor soul behind that it fulfilled for an instance.

Unfortunately, I am often caught up in the hurricane that is inspiration and I start things, like this blog, the many short stories I have written but not completed, and the extraordinary theories we have – but keep to ourselves.

This time will be different though. For I am not, at this time, infiltrated by inspiration. Instead, I am full of longing and need to put my words, thoughts and ideas to (theoretical) paper. I want to share my ideas with the world. Maybe somebody will find them worth reading – and if that is the case I feel truly blessed.

Then, perhaps, when inspiration has deemed me worthy, it will come to me for an extended period of time. Then maybe, just maybe, my words will inspire someone else to do something they have always wanted to do as well.

Thanks,

Jenn

thoughts, Uncategorized

This Break-out Blogging Gig

I oftentimes wonder how many of these blogs are started up by feverous writers only to be left abandoned in cyber space, alone and in desperate need of a metaphorical dusting. In beginning this blog, am I destined to join those millions of writers who thought they had a thought in their head that the world would want ample access to? I wonder if I am not wasting my time sitting here, writing for the sake of it. Writing to find a way through the tangled rose bush vines that are the never ending thoughts in my mind.

I was encouraged to begin this blogging stage of my life by my parents and one very agreeable waiter on a celebratory evening in a very interesting restaurant. Despite my fears that my blog will go unnoticed by everyone and lack interest for anyone, I am beginning one anyways. My mother declared that writing a blog isn’t for the audience to read, but rather for the writer to self medicate and to truly see themselves.

There is truth to this theory. We write in journals, dictate our lives in “Dear Diary” format and dream in fictional prose brought to life by our imaginations simply to help ourselves through the sticky parts of our lives. We often lack the courage to express our feelings and to say the things we want to say to those who affect us in ways we don’t understand. Often times, I find I lack the sense of conviction needed to really accomplish anything of any value. So, here I am. I am throwing myself into this blog. As I go back to school next week, begin my Chloe and Isabel merchandising adventure, and continue with my new promotion at work, I hope I can touch at least one person. I hope someone learns something, gains the courage to say something, or sees themselves in a new way, even if that person is me.