Monday, September 27, 2021

September 2021 Shopping Reflections

I mentioned in August that I thought I didn't really feel like shopping for fall/winter this year. But as it turns out, I've managed to become interested in a few more items than the list I originally had in mind. I still want the light gray chunky crew sweater from The Curated and the patina eclipse stud earrings from Porcelain and Stone. But there will probably be a few additional things that will also be part of my shopping through the end of 2021, including this month's purchases. 

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If you think these Reiss Lara dresses look like they are outside of my style comfort zone, you're not wrong! I've mentioned before - in the context of my one stretchy tee shirt dress purchase - that I generally avoid "unstructured" dresses designed to closely fit the body. As someone who definitely has some curves and soft spots, fitted stretchy fabrics don't always look the way I want them to on me. Thus, I've almost never wanted to even try on any sweater dresses in the entire time I've kept this blog, and it's only rarely I've contemplated any tee shirt dress for wearing outside the home. 

The draped top and sort of dolman sleeve on the Lara are slightly less outside my personal style comfort zone - I definitely have one sweater with a similar look to the top of the Lara dress - but I didn't previously have anything else like this in my work wardrobe. With that, plus the neckline's tendency to sit off one shoulder, the Reiss Lara is a bit outside the norm of my typical work dresses. 

Both Vee and Sherry have posted detailed reviews of this dress that were extremely helpful to me in initially deciding to order and then picking the right size. I'm curvier than both of them, so I sized up to a M. Because the top portion of the dress is quite roomy in order to allow for the draped effect, it may have been possible for me to size down to S even with my fairly substantial bust measurement, but I think the elastic waist would have been uncomfortably snug if I tried. (At 5'3'', I'm also shorter than Sherry and Vee.) 

Fashion - (TOTAL: $480.34)

  • Reiss Lara Dress, teal, M - $312.47* - (also available at Bloomingdales) - Because sweater dresses generally don't look good on me and I don't always like the way stretchy knit fabrics skim over my curves, I wasn't sure I'd like this dress, even if Vee and Sherry both look great in it. This was the first time I've tried on a sweater dress near this price point, and it was a pleasant surprise. The fabric has a good thickness and weight, so the fitted skirt sits on my curves well, without clinging oddly anywhere, and the top half of the dress also drapes well. Like Sherry and Vee observed, the fairly snug elastic waist and more fitted skirt will probably determine what the right size is for most. The neckline is very open, so while one can theoretically drape the top so it covers both shoulders fully, I've found while trying the dress on at home that it's unlikely to stay that way. In other words, it may be difficult to wear this dress without leaving at least one shoulder uncovered. The teal color is similar to a J.Crew dress I bought last year, so I knew this color would suit me. Because the Lara is so unlike any other dress in my wardrobe, I worry a little that I might not end up finding it practical. Will I be comfortable wearing such a different silhouette from my usual to work? The dress is also made of a heavy enough knit fabric that I could probably only wear it comfortably in winter and the extremely brief periods when spring and fall feel balmy in NYC. In winter, I'd also need tights on underneath, and I don't know if the dress would look as good with my typical black tights. Because the weather hasn't cooled down enough in NYC yet to wear the Lara out, I won't get to road test this dress until later this year. But because I felt beautiful in the dress when I tried it on, I'm hoping it'll work for me as well as it does for Vee and Sherry. 
  • Reiss Lara Dress, stone, M - $167.87* - (past season, sold out; similar in camelcheapest at Selfridges even with international duties and shipping) - This stone shade is a past season color, so it's generally no longer available from retail stores. After looking at Vee's photos of the dress in this color, I thought it would also look nice on me, and it was a pity the only similar shade from Reiss this year was camel. (While I like camel coats layered with a top, dress, or scarf in another color, I don't think camel tops or dresses would suit my skin tone.) A week or two after I bought the dress in teal, I was taking a random look at the Reiss webpage and saw the Lara dress in stone had somehow popped back in stock in their sale section in several sizes. I couldn't resist ordering because I thought I'd have trouble finding this dress on the secondhand market, and the price was only a bit higher than I'd expect to pay on eBay, Poshmark, etc. I've only tried this one on briefly, but I feel like the neckline may be slightly less open than on the teal version, so it can stay put on both shoulders a little more easily if you try to drape it that way. Not sure if I'm imagining this difference, though. If I want to wear this dress in winter, I'm not sure the stone color would look as good as the teal with black tights. 
*Indicates that price includes tax and international shipping. Reiss's standard international shipping charges are substantial - a whopping $15 - if you're not ordering enough items to get to their free shipping minimum. 

And that's it for this month! I've actually already pre-ordered the chunky crew sweater in light gray from The Curated, but won't record it in a monthly shopping post until after it arrives - likely in mid to late October - and I make a final decision about whether to keep it. I've looked at lots of customer photos with detailed commentary about sizing, however, so I don't expect I'll have chosen incorrectly about my size or the design. 

Also, thanks to a discussion in the comments over at Kathy's, I recently learned about Amy Smilovic - the founder and creative director of Tibi - and her Instagram account, where she frequently shares tons of thoughts about personal style and design. And I'm totally obsessed! While my personal style is  definitely very different from Smilovic's and from Tibi's, the way Smilovic articulates her own personal style and how she thinks about personal style in general is really compelling and clear to me, and it's inspiring me a lot. I don't think this inspiration will cause me to shop too much more in the next three months than I was originally planning to, but it's given me a lot of food for thought when considering my wardrobe. 

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