Saturday, July 27, 2013

A pink bag and a (faux) French Hen

Today while out I stopped at J. Crew Factory. Imagine my sheer joy when I found an exact replica version of last fall's French Hen sweater! The sweater was $88 retail but was part of a 40 percent off promo, plus my educator discount. I am so excited to finally own the French Hen sweater! However, I must say that I nearly bought the retail version, and if I had, I might have been a tad upset to see basically the same sweater (I'm sure there is a difference with material) for so much less at the Factory. And this seems to be the J. Crew trend, that older prints make their way to the Factory the following year.

I was even more excited to buy this Kate Spade Maryanne Quilted bag in Zinnia Pink! It is more hot pink that the picture suggests, which makes me like it even more. Over at, the bag is available for $248 (plus tax). I scored mine in store with a discount for a total of $161 (with tax). I cannot wait to wear her somewhere soon!

What are your thoughts on the older versions of J. Crew items at the Factory? Is it a "win" for Factory customers, or a "loss" for loyal retail store shoppers? What do you think of the Kate Spade bag?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Pretty in Pink

So I absolutely love the new fitness clothes that I blogged about a few weeks back. It has turned out to be a terrific investment (and perhaps a new obsession). I was thrilled to find that there was a pink version of the gray/black active jacket that I found in Old Navy. Even more thrilling was that the jacket was on clearance during a promotion and cost only $11. I love it so much I bought two. It reminds me of the Lululemon "Forme" jacket in Paris Pink (2012) that I missed out on. Here is a side by side comparison (the Old Navy version is on the right)

 While I get that Lululemon is the brand it is due to its quality, I don't think their items need to be quite as expensive as they are. I bought my one black Lululemon jacket (see recent post) and that will be enough for me. I'm quite happy with my Gap Fit and Old Navy activewear.

I also was happy to buy the Azalea pink "multistripe popover"for about $20 during the recent 40 percent off final sale promotion at J. Crew. I have worn it already with khaki shorts and it looks great.

Lastly, I found this adorable"C'est La Vie" striped shirt at Banana Republic (which is also having a 40-off sale) for just $12. This top will go great with nearly any of my colored pairs of shorts or pencil skirts.

What are your thoughts? Do you have any of these items yourself, or might you keep an eye out for them? Have you enjoyed the 40-percent off sales that are going on lately, or are you "shopped out" for now?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Blythe-like blouse for less

I always enjoy posts about where to find "similar to J. Crew" items for less by bloggers such as gigisgoneshopping and fabulousfloridamommy. So I thought I would take a page from their playbook and share my recent purchases.

I wanted the J. Crew Blythe blouse in Alabaster. It wasn't too expensive; at $49.99 plus 40-pct off it was a reasonable price. However, I am reluctant to buy the blouse because it is delicate and I don't always have the time or money to deal with specialized cleaning. I saw there is a Factory version (of which I own in another color). It isn't quite as delicate as the Blythe, but it was surprisingly more expensive!

That said, I needed a blouse like this as I have been going on several interviews as of late. I think it looks classic under a suit. So I was happy when I found Old Navy's version of the blouse, called the Women's roll cuff blouse, on the sale rack. I have this blouse in three colors already but never thought to buy this beautiful cream shade. It was already marked down to $12 and I received an additional cardholder discount yesterday. Total:  $8.

I also popped into The Limited where the entire store is 40 percent off. I picked up the Sleeveless Collared Henley Top for $18 after discounts. It is blouse material on the front side, and breatheable jersey material on the back. This top will be perfect during this week's 90 degree heat wave! They also have this top in a beautiful mint which is one of my favorite colors, but I already have enough of it in my work wardrobe.

What are your thoughts on the Blythe blouse? What is your opinion of the J. Crew vs. Factory versions? Have you picked up any items from The Limited or Old Navy lately?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Getting my fitness on

Fun fact about me... I work part-time as a fitness instructor in addition to my full-time teaching job. And despite my affinity for fashion, my workout wardrobe is quite lacking. I've had the same four (identical) pairs of Nike boot cut pants for over five years now. I've had Old Navy tanks from well, who knows how long. One short sleeved blue Puma shirt and well, that's pretty much what I am working with!

This year I made a New Year's resolution to take more classes as a STUDENT. This is often a luxury because when you are teaching classes 5 days a week you are more concerned with your class than yourself. This year I made a life-changing decision to take reformer Pilates classes. I can only afford weekly classes but I wanted more so I eventually started supplementing my work outs with Pilates DVDs at home.

So basically, I spend a good chunk of my week exercising in old exercise clothing. It's funny how I am willing to spend oodles of money on a skirt that I will wear once or twice a season, but will be super cheap about workout clothes!  I decided it was time to get some affordable new workout clothes.  I couldn't have picked a better time!

I bought two pairs of these Old Navy compression pant capris on sale today during the store's 40-percent off "stuff and save" sale. I'm pretty happy with the performance-type quality. I don't expect them to last as many years as, say Lululemon pants, but I figure I have a good year to wear them. At $16 each, I am not complaining.  Oh, and I purchased the capris because I am 5'3 and the leggings pants were made for females who are 5'8. I refuse to spend $20 to get the pants hemmed, so capris win!

While at Old Navy, I also bought their fitted active jacket in Heather Gray. It reminded me a lot of the gray/black Lululemon jacket from last year that I missed out on. Oh, and it has thumb holes! I think this jacket has excellent material and will last a while. Only $20 after discounts!

Gap Body is also having a cardholder promotion this week -- 30 off store-wide and a "must have" promotion on select items. I bought three pairs of G-Fit capris. I admit that I like these better than Old Navy's and suspect that they might last longer. Of course I am biased that Gap is a better store than Old Navy. Time will tell.

I also bought these cycling shorts for about $12 and some tanks for under $10 each.  Great wicking material. Unfortunately the tanks I bought are sold out online and no photo is available.

Later, I made my way to TJ Maxx and picked up two braided racerback tanks by Marika. Many bloggers have expressed that this is one of the better brands to buy at TJ Maxx and I can see why. The tanks are high quality and fit well. Only $9.99 each

Lastly, the final addition was a long awaited purchase. I bought a Lululemon "Street to Studio" jacket in black. Now you could probably find a similar version of this item elsewhere for less I nearly bought everything else for the same price but this was me "treating" myself to the good stuff. It is a very versatile jacket because it is black, has a hood and is fleece lined. I hope to wear it for many years. If the quality is what people say it is, I will be back for another purchase down the road.

So -- what are your thoughts on these brands and the deals? What brands do you like most for exercise clothing? How often do you replace your workout gear?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What I want in a J. Crew Store Associate (plus the 40 off sale)

I was posting on The Mothership about what I don't like about a small percentage of J. Crew Store Associates (or SA's). I decided to write a post about it and instead focus on the positive -- what I want in a Store Associate.

1 -- Attentiveness. Please remember to come back to my dressing room after 4 or 5 minutes have passed to see if I need another size or color.

2 -- Patience. If I ask for you to look up the availability of an item, please don't look like it is such a chore. I will gladly take your magical neon encased iPad and look it up myself if you let me have the secret passwords!

3 -- Honesty. I am pretty adept at smelling fake compliments. If I look like stuffed sausage in a pair of Toothpicks, or alternatively, if I am hiding my body in a too-big popover, please don't tell me how great it looks. Constructive criticism can be appreciated if delicately put! Likewise, don't tell me at the register I'm getting "such an unprecedented deal" when we both know J. Crew may mark the item down further.

4 -- Space. I realize number one says "attentiveness" but some SA's take that too literally. I don't wish to be shadowed around the store, nor do I wish for you to "pop up" on me at the register to make sure I told the cashier how helpful you were "chat me up"

5 -- Memory. I don't expect every SA to know my name. I'm always impressed with those who do. I'm always disappointed by the ones I expect to remember me (hello, I was here LAST NIGHT) who don't even recognize my face.

Let me reiterate that the majority of my SA experiences have been positive. I'm always in awe when a SA can produce the item I have been coveting for so long from the back room, or get me a discounted item with free shipping. If anyone who works at J. Crew reads my little blog here, perhaps you might share my thoughts with new employees, who seem to be the "rule breakers."

So now I will get off my soap box and share my goodies from today's visit to J. Crew. It's 40 off sale items if you haven't heard!

I bought the Thistle print popover in Caribbean Blue for $20 after discounts. Isn't she pretty?

I also bought.... (drum roll please!) the Tortoise Flower necklace for about $40 after discounts! Oh how I have wanted this after seeing it so many times on the very stylish Tweed and Toile. What a steal!

I love reading your comments so feel free to post below.!