Insomniac Sale Picks: Knit Jackets

*In this late-night feature – which will run on Tuesday and Thursday of each week – I’ll gather up three fun items that are currently on sale online and share them with you! I would LOVE suggestions: Stylish wide-width pumps? Classic v-necked sweaters? Chandelier earrings? Petite dress slacks? What would you like to see featured?*

Not quite anonymous requested a few picks for knit jackets that will work in a business casual environment, so here we go:

knit blazer

Olivia Moon Ruched Sleeve Jacket – was $79.50, now $47.70

Confession: This request was for any style of jacket, but I’m gonna give you mostly blazers. Because otherwise we’re either talking moto style knit jackets – which we covered recently here – or styles that aren’t quite dressy enough for the workplace. Would love other suggestions, if you have them! In the meantime, this knit blazer has a sleek shape but the ruched sleeves keep it from feeling too formal. Available in this mocha color as well as black, heather gray, and green in sizes XS – XL, including some petite sizes. Size availability varies by color. This similar style comes in black and heather gray in sizes 18W – 26W.

gap knit blazer

Gap Classic Ponte Twill Blazer – was $88, now $44.09
with code HAPPY

A great option if you prefer a two-button fit and higher stance. This blazer has some seamed shaping and roomy external pockets. Fully lined for easy fit and extra warmth! Available in sizes 0 -20, as well as some petite and tall sizes. Also in a denim-y heather blue. Couldn’t find a two-button knit option, but this blazer comes in three colors of ponte knit in sizes 14 – 28.

bates2

NIC+ZOE Bates Jacket – was $198, now $89.99

My lone non-blazer, but SUCH a cute one. Jackets with multi-button closures like this often look great buttoned and sloppy unbuttoned, but I think this little guy looks fab open or closed. Cute with pants for sure, but would also look great with a dress and tall boots. Available in sizes XS – XL. Couldn’t find anything truly similar, but this double-breasted blazer has a similar shape in sizes 14W – 24W.

animal print knit blazer

RACHEL Rachel Roy Animal-Print Knit Blazer – was $109, now $79.99

What a fun way to wear animal print in a non-neutral palette. This knit blazer has a streamlined, collarless shape and single-button closure. This would look great with gray, olive, or burgundy. Available in sizes XS – XXL.

Other not-currently-on-sale resources for knit jackets:

  1. Nordstrom – In my opinion, the best selection around. Some are motos and other casual styles, but there are also more polished options like this microcheck ponte blazer.
  2. Piperlime – Consistently stocks knit and ponte blazers and jackets. If you can do a moto at work, this sweater one is darling.
  3. Land’s End – A handful of blazers and jackets, petite and plus sizes for some.

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Reader Request: Successful Style Juxtapositions

leather and lace

Reader and client JW sent me this question:

I have been having some challenges mixing and matching “tougher” and more feminine pieces and textures lately. I wondered if you could offer some other examples/pics in a tutorial on this topic? For example, I was looking for some dark brown boots with a bit of a heel to wear with dresses of more “pretty/formal” fabrics than my usual jersey type this fall. I tried on the Adriana Luna boots (that I’ve admired on your blog!) in dark brown and love them. Can’t decide whether to invest, though, because I am wondering if they are versatile enough to go with fairly dressy dresses, or would always look too western and rugged. I would like to combine elements of both (a la Sundance Catalog but somewhat toned down) but the fabrics/textures always confuse me! I feel I risk looking totally mis-matched rather than intentionally stylish! But I am such a novice at this.

I love mixing opposite styles within single outfits, so I LOVE this question! There’s no single formula for making juxtapositions work, but I have some guidelines I use for myself and for clients. But first, a few things to keep in mind.

Suiting is tricky in mixes

Suiting juxtaposition - doesn't work
Suiting juxtaposition – details for this set

When you think about juxtaposition within outfits, you tend to think of polar opposites: Leather with lace, cashmere with distressed denim, etc. And suiting is a classic, conservative family of clothing that should work in polar opposition to tough, edgy pieces or highly romantic, frilly ones. But more often than not, it doesn’t. Suiting blazers, pants, skirts, and some suiting dresses like J.Crew’s Super 120s series seem out of place in mixes like the one shown above. Other dressy, office-appropriate attire that isn’t technically suiting – like wool pencil skirts, dress pants, and non-suiting blazers – qualify here, too. None of these will look cool and intentional with cowboy boots or leather pants. Some blazers and structured dresses can pair nicely with jeans and tees or leather jackets and boots, but because suiting is a grouping that stands apart from virtually all other clothing, it is tough to juxtapose. Because …

Items should have something in common

Western ladylike juxtaposition
Western Boho juxtaposition – details for this set

Here we have a frilly dress and long pendant, both of which are a little Boho, paired with harness boots, a denim jacket, and a rugged backpack. Why does this work better than the suiting set above? Because Boho and Western are both on the more casual end of the style spectrum. Imagine swapping in a wool sheath dress and strand of pearls. Those items are SO far from the weekend-y, outdoors-y Western vibe that they just don’t connect. Although “something in common” is usually related to level of formality or casualness, it can also mean color: A black leather jacket, black background graphic tee, and black pencil skirt would make visual sense together despite their differences.

To see this type of juxtaposition in action see: Sundance Catalog styling

Or try something costume-y and its polar opposite

Tough and ladylike
Tough and ladylike – details for this set

Interestingly, the polar opposites thing seems to work best when there is one over-the-top item or sartorial genre involved. Usually the super sparkly, princess-y, wear-this-to-the-ball genre that includes tulle skirts, rhinestone bib necklaces, puff-shoulder jackets, or gobs of sequins. In this case, the skirt is the most costume-y piece in the mix and the pumps, clutch, and pearl bracelet align with it in terms of classic formality. The graphic tee and leather moto group together as casual/tough elements. Another piece that makes this type work? Distressed boyfriend jeans. They’re slouchy and beat-up and incredibly casual, which makes them really fun to pair with sky-high heels and sparkly necklaces.

To see this type of juxtaposition in action see: Atlantic-Pacific

Stick to two genres

Three genres - doesn't work
Three genres – details for this set

So we’ve established that Western and Bohemian have a natural chemistry. Here is that same set with the clutch swapped in for the backpack. A little jarring, right? Occasionally throwing a glam piece – like a sparkly necklace – into a mix of two other non-glam genres will work. Generally, though? Pick two genres to mix, and draw pieces from those two only. Take one or two pieces from the first, and all remaining pieces from the other. Genres that work well together include:

  • Frilly and tough (think lace dress with leather jacket)
  • Boho and edgy (think patterned maxi skirt with combat boots and a graphic tee)
  • Boho and Western (our eyelet dress set above illustrates this combo)
  • Preppy and glam (think Breton top and jeans with rhinestone statement necklace)
  • Preppy and distressed (think cashmere sweater and sparkly necklace with ripped jeans)

To see two-genre mixes in action see: J.Crew catalog styling

Finally, there is a little alchemy involved in style juxtapositions. Everything I’ve said here may be tossed out the window if you find a three-genre outfit that works or create an amazing ensemble that includes your suiting slacks. Although these guidelines may help if you’re interested in trying this activity and don’t know where to start, once you get the hang of it you’ll see that certain totally unexpected combinations just WORK. So it always pays to experiment.

Any of you readers fans of the juxtaposed outfit? What are your favorite genres to mix? Any items that work beautifully to bridge different styles? Would love to hear your thoughts!

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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The Pros and Cons of Standardized Sizing

pros cons standardized sizing

If you’ve ever gone clothes shopping – and I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assume you have  – you are likely aware that a size 12 at the Gap fits differently from a size 12 at J.Crew. Doesn’t matter if you’re talking Gap jeans versus J.Crew jeans, which should be a fairly apples-to-apples comparison: There WILL be some variation in sizing. One may be loose in the hips and tight in the waist, while another fits snugly everywhere. And sizing within brands even shifts over time. You may still be wearing that size 4 dress from LOFT that you snagged five years ago, but if you walk in now you could be a 2. Or an 8. Who knows?

Most mall brands are using some form of vanity sizing by now, and they are loathe to abandon this tactic since it’s been proven to boost customer self-esteem and bolster positive feelings about vanity-sized brands. So unless you’re sewing your own clothes, you’re bound to find some sizing variation at just about every shop and in just about every brand.

And this makes you want to pull our hair out in large handfuls, right? Especially when it comes to online shopping – the hassle of paying for shipping, finding out that the size you normally wear is FAR too big/small, having to get the item back to the merchant, awaiting exchanges and refunds. Such a waste of time, money, and energy. Because of this, many people have declared that a system of standardized women’s sizing is needed. Which I completely understand. But unfortunately, I am yet to see a suggestion for such a system that would completely and finally fix the fit issues we experience.

Use inch/centimeter measurements instead of sizes

PROS: Here in the U.S., most women’s clothing is sized by numbers (0 -34) or descriptors (Small, Large, Extra Small, etc.). These sizes offer only a rough idea of what might fit our bodies. If we were given actual measurements for the garments – as is the case for some menswear items – we could measure ourselves and make more informed choices. Removing imprecise words like “large” from clothing descriptors might be beneficial, too, as straight numbers can feel more scientific.

CONS: While this system works relatively well for men’s clothing, many women’s bodies have more curves that need to be accounted for, so determining which inch measurements to use could be tricky. Although the bust-waist-hips set is fairly standard, what about shoulders? Underbust? And what about women whose natural waist is hard to locate? Also, anyone else out there ever ordered a custom garment using your own measurements and had it fit wonky? I know I have. And I follow measurement instructions VERY CAREFULLY. Furthermore some vendors include inch measurements in their sizing charts, but they’re often wrong. Just straight-up wrong. And since men’s clothing is subject to vanity sizing now, too, even their garment measurements can vary. Inches are far from foolproof, unfortunately.

Create a set of women’s sizes that can be implemented across the board

PROS: If designers and brands put their heads together and created a set of sizes – which would likely be linked to inch/centimeter measurements in some way – and agreed to use them across the board, we could buy with considerably more confidence. If a Marc Jacobs 10 was the same as a JC Penney 10, online ordering would be a snap. In-person shopping could be done with less trying-on. We’d save time and shipping fees.

CONS: Saying that all size 8 pants need a waist circumference of X inches might work, but what about dresses? Blazers? Cardigans? Any garment that has a waistline that may fall high or low on the body (empire versus dropwaist), or that comes in a huge variety of lengths and styles (cropped versus boyfriend cardigans), or that would need more than three points of measurement (shoulders, sleeves, bust, waist, length, stance)? A size 22 blouse that is fitted may have some measurements in common with a size 22 blouse that is loose, but they will never be identical. Some fit variation is due to design, and cannot be avoided.

Label clothing based on figure shape

PROS: This one doesn’t get as many votes as its friends above, but a company called Fitlogic proposed this tactic after doing some extensive research. Since measurements don’t seem to be enough in many cases, offering clothes that have been labeled with information about the body shapes they will best fit could be beneficial.

CONS: Manufacturers balked at the idea, and we might end up with clothing tags featuring pears, apples, and string beans on them. Womens bodies ≠ fruit.

Feeling utterly unable to locate clothing that fits you can be demoralizing, and many of us leave the fitting room feeling like our bodies are strange or broken or wrong. So, please remember the refrain: It’s not you, it’s the clothes. None of those clothes in a pile on the dressing room floor fit you properly? Those must be someone else’s clothes. Which won’t help you figure out which size 4s will actually fit you, but will hopefully help you feel less upset if none of them do.

I may be alone in this, but I find the bizarre hodgepodge of sizing info to be rather freeing. Our weight-obsessed culture can get us really hung up on the sizes we wear, and vanity sizing became popular to cash in on that anxiety. Many people, especially women, will refuse to buy a size up that fits properly, opting instead for a size down that fits poorly but aligns with the size-number they’ve come to accept as their own. Clothing sizes have an awful lot of power over our collective body image … and yet, they are utterly, completely, 100% arbitrary. Especially now. Just hit up your local thrift store for proof: Contemporary clothing will fit you in a handful of sizes, but vintage stuff will fit in a completely different range. I have thrifted everything from size 4 to size 16, no lie, and that experience reinforces my knowledge that bodies defy measurement. The stats and the story are never in complete alignment.

I’m not sure that standardized sizing would fix the issues we experience with clothing and fit. There have been several attempts to create and implement a system in the past, and all have failed. This Slate article outlines studies conducted, systems devised, and complaints registered from the 1920s onward. I keep trying to dream up a system that would be helpful and easy and all I can come up with is: Bespoke. Which most of us can’t afford, money-wise or time-wise. Hate to be a downer, but I don’t see an easy solution to this one.

Do you? Do you feel that any of the ideas listed here have more merit than I’m seeing? Any alternatives? I know that many of you will say, “This is why I sew,” but if you have any fitting and sizing suggestions for those of us who don’t, we’d love to hear them!

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