Wide Stripes and Tips for Risky Shopping

pink-tartan-stripe-skirt-001

A few months ago, some friends came into town and we spent a relaxing afternoon having drinks and conversation sitting underneath the most amazing striped awning. I just found the picture I took of it on my phone and seeing it again made me feel happy and eager for summer. All of a sudden, I was obsessed with wide stripes and the urge to wear them.

Commonly called “rugby stripes”, and sometimes called “awning stripes” (although it’s my understanding rugby stripes run horizontal, and awning stripes run vertical), wide stripes are preppy, quirky, and ready for summer. Do they remind anyone else of loungy patio furniture?

pink-tartan-stripe-skirt-002

I had three requirements when looking for the perfect wide striped skirt. First, it had to be a full silhouette. Second, it had to be at least mostly natural fibers (I’m really intent on adding silks and other natural fibers to my wardrobe at the moment). Third, it had to have pockets, which are quickly becoming a must for my skirt purchases. This cotton/silk blend, full skirt with nice deep pockets fits all my criteria.

stripe-skirt-close1

This skirt is also a small victory in taking a chance. Only one stood out to me as potentially perfect during my online search, but it was from a brand I had never tried before (Pink Tartan), from a store I had never purchased from (Lord & Taylor), and without any local locations for me to purchase from, or return to, in the highly likely event the item didn’t work out. With most sizes sold out online, my only option was to order my size directly from a store. Risky practices all around for someone who has a hard time finding things that fit to begin with.

via lordandtaylor.com

Here are the steps I took before making this risky purchase:

Assess the fit on the model compared to my body type – the skirt fits high on the model’s waist, and short on her height. Skirts that fit high on the waist tend to fit smaller in the waistband, so more likely to fit my waist as well. And skirts that are short on tall models tend to fall around the knee on short me. Looks promising!

Assess complication of possible alteration needs – skirts are way easier to alter than, say, pants or jackets, so right there it’s a less risky purchase. Side pockets and a side zipper are usually alteration no-no’s, making a skirt difficult to slim if needed. Luckily, the full silhouette of this skirt means it’s meant to be at least a little poufy, so it should not need slimming. The waistband may need to be taken in if the waist is too big, but it’s not a deal breaker. Also, the length may need to be taken up if it’s too long, which is cheap/easy to do, although it would change the stripe pattern. Could still be worth it!

Search the brand website for size charts or fit information – size charts are notoriously inaccurate, but they can still give you an idea if the brand runs big or small. Unfortunately, the Pink Tartan website didn’t have any sizing charts or clues for me this time around. Moving on!

Search blogs for sizing clues – with so many fashion and style bloggers out there these days, it’s no surprise you can get lucky and find someone has worn or reviewed an item you’re interested in. Unfortunately, once again, this was not the case for me. Onward!

Search eBay for similar items from the brand which include measurement information – many eBay sellers will include measurement information for the items they’re selling, so if you search for similar items from the brand you’re interested in, you can get a clue as to how sizing runs. For this particular item, I searched for “Pink Tartan Skirt” and looked for items in sizes 0 or 2. From the measurements I found, it looked like the waist of a size 0 skirt from Pink Tartan would measure about 25″. I’m about 24″ around where I like to wear my skirts, so the waistband would probably only need to be taken in one size, if at all.

After it arrived, I measured the waistband, and sure enough it measures 25″. Luckily, it sits at a really nice spot on my low waist and doesn’t need to be taken in.

After several days of hesitation, and with my curiosity in this item only increasing, I decided to give it a shot and nervously ordered over the phone. When it arrived a week later, I was thrilled to find the waist and length a nice fit. A rare occurrence, indeed!

pink-tartan-stripe-skirt-003

And now I can dress like beach-side patio furniture to my heart’s content!

pink-tartan-stripe-skirt-004

A big thank you to my patient boyfriend who was kind enough to take these photos, and give my tripod and camera remote a much needed break. =)

Outfit DetailsAnn Taylor shirt :: Pink Tartan skirt (similar from J.Crew) (similar for less here or here) :: Ann Taylor belt :: J.Crew handbag :: Cole Haan shoes (similar) :: J.Crew necklace ( similar here or here):: Kate Spade watch (customized) ::  Stella & Dot bracelet (c/0) (in silver) :: Essie “Turquoise and Caicos” nail color

Readers – do you ever make risky purchases? What clues do you gather before pulling the trigger?

34 Comments

  • Reply June 9, 2012

    Jen E. (@CasualChicMom)

    I’m really loving the feminine flair in your outfits lately! I almost always hesitate with risky purchases. I’m glad yours worked out, it’s such a beautiful skirt on you. I’m curious though, what would you do if it didn’t work out? Maybe a Risky Purchase  - Part II: When It Doesn’t Work Out post? :)

    • Reply June 10, 2012

      Alterations Needed

       Good idea! I suppose in this case, I would have altered the problem areas, unless it was really bad, in which case I would have tried to call the store to see if I could send it back for a return. If all else failed, I’d try to re-sell it on the secondary market, like via eBay for the AN Forum.

  • Reply June 9, 2012

    LaLaaLove

    It’s adorable! I love how the dress flows and seems so airy and lightweight.

    I’m drooling over the AT button-down; I’m having so much difficulty finding one which fits lately! Has it been tailored? I remember you had a post on button-down tips, but I can’t seem to find it at the moment!

    • Reply June 10, 2012

      Alterations Needed

      Thank you! Ah, yes, I love this AT button-down and am sad I didn’t pick up a few more when the sizes were fully stocked. I have not tailored this shirt, and although the torso is a tad roomy, it’s on trend with what everyone is doing right now with loose fitting shirts. I don’t think I have a button-down tips post…I think the tips are strewn about all over the place, but thanks for the idea to create one. Although, this one isn’t too bad:

      http://www.alterationsneeded.com/2012/01/j-crew-gingham-boys-vs-womens-petite.html

  • Reply June 9, 2012

    Carol

    That skirt is a dream! Great purchase, Kelly! I love this whole look. :D

  • Reply June 10, 2012

    Cynthia C. M.

    OOO, you’re wearing a Canadian designer!  Pink Tartan (designer’s name is Kim Newport-Mimran) is pretty much the darling of Toronto Fashion Week – that show, along with a few other designers, including Joe Fresh, is always packed!  I don’t think I saw this on the runway last time, but I’ll definitely see if it’s at the store (there’s a Pink Tartan boutique not too far from my home).

    And yeah, she tends to size a bit bigger sometimes.

    • Reply June 10, 2012

      Alterations Needed

       Interesting about the sizing…guess I got lucky with this one! This skirt was already on sale when I picked it up, so be sure to check the sale racks if you go looking for it. Glad to give a Canadian designer a little love! =)

  • Reply June 10, 2012

    Jacqueline C. Rineer

    Great find! And useful tips!  As a petite I dislike shopping for clothes online or in stores that don’t have fitting rooms (- $20 for everything or thrift stores). I’ll have to pocket this post for future reference.

    It looks great on you :)  

  • We must have very similar taste in skirts…I tried on something just like this (although I don’t remember where.)  

    I almost never shop online for the risk factor.  I hate the disappointment and the cost of sending things back.  But most of the things I like are not available in brick and mortar stores, so I think I need to branch out!

    • Reply June 11, 2012

      Alterations Needed

       Yeah, having to send things back, especially if you have to pay for shipping in either direction is a real bummer! I try to avoid it all costs, but sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do! I’m a huge free shipping code fan, and if I can’t return something for free because the store isn’t located near me, I weigh if the cost of return shipping is worth my peace of mind having at least tried the item on. With the cost of gas these days, sometimes it’s cheaper to just ship things back rather than drive all over town to buy/return items. =P

  • Reply June 10, 2012

    Diana

    Have you seen the striped awning skirts at La Vie Petite? Cori has her own line of these at http://www.dresscorilynn.com/. Maybe you should review one. :-)

    This one is nice, but I think Cori’s look like they are better quality. More expensive too though, I bet.

    • Reply June 10, 2012

      Alterations Needed

       I have seen Cori’s skirts, and they’re beautiful! When I was shopping for this one, I wanted more of an airy pouf skirt than a crisp pleat, but the more I see them the more curious I’m getting. =)

  • Reply June 10, 2012

    TOBeautyReviews

    Well worth it Kelly! I think I told you before that Pink Tartan is Canadian but yet I have never tried it out (probably the stores that carry it around me are too pricey for me to venture into in general) but I think after seeing this on you I should give it a try! I’d love to know what you thought about the quality.  

    I believe Pink Tartan is the line of the Joe Mimran’s wife (the guy who started Club Monaco) and he is behind the popular and very affordable brand Joe Fresh. He’s also behind Moon Apparel where I found my navy crochet dress and skirt!

    • Reply June 11, 2012

      Alterations Needed

       Yes! I had no idea they were Canadian until you mentioned it. Then I looked it up and sure enough! I haven’t seen many items from them to really gauge quality, but this skirt is perfect for the price I paid (on sale). It’s cotton and silk which was important for me, since most items I found at that price point and above were polyester or mostly synthetic. It’s well constructed, fully lined, and I love the style. Worth it for me! =)

  • Reply June 10, 2012

    SewPetiteGal

    Yay for all of these recent skirt posts!  I really think that skirts look lovely with your slender legs.  Very helpful post and great tips – thanks!

  • Reply June 10, 2012

    phiphi

    i love this and was so happy to see you review on it. i’ve never had a chance to try pink tartan on IRL. this is so helpful! you look beautiful in this outfit!! xox P 

    • Reply June 11, 2012

      Alterations Needed

       Thank you! I can’t vouch for any other Pink Tartan pieces, but this skirt is adorable! =)

  • Reply June 10, 2012

    Stylish Petite

    You BF did a great job taking your photos! The skirt is super pretty and so worth the risk:)

  • Reply June 10, 2012

    Lisa Ng

    The red awning was so Parisian! Especially with the metal detail! Nice inspiration! Great tips on risky purchases. I hate returning items bc I hate wasting money on rerun/shipping charges. Do you have a post on where measurement should be taken on ones body to make an informed decision about clothing sizes?

    • Reply June 11, 2012

      Alterations Needed

       Thank you Lisa! Hmm…I don’t have a post about taking body measurements, but thank you for the request. Noted! =)

  • Reply June 10, 2012

    Magali

    Great tips, & I think it looks gorgeous on you!

  • Reply June 10, 2012

    Diana S. T.

    you look so pretty in white and blue… I really rally liked that skirt…

    kisses from Guatemala

  • Reply June 11, 2012

    Chloe

    LOVE this skirt on you, Kelly! Rugby stripes are one of my favorite things at the moment; I’m even trying to convince my husband that it’s *just* what the back wall of our powder room needs. You know, big thick white + black stripes. He’s not buying it, but darnit I’m tryin’.

    I’m also happy to see that I’m not the only one that does ‘research’ before buying something online. It can be a little time consuming, but even with return/exchange policies being lax I want to make sure that I’ll really like (and wear) the item I’m buying. You’ve outlined some great tips for doing it–love this whole post. ♥

  • Reply June 11, 2012

    Rebecca Barnes

    Very, very pretty!

  • what a look! I love it. The tips are wonderful too. 
    Thanks for this!
    -n

  • Reply June 11, 2012

    Karen

    Totally great find! Looks amazing on you! What kind of camera do you use?

  • Reply June 13, 2012

    Anthro Blogger

    I’ve been looking for something similar and may have to give it a shot. Strange question, but is there any hem allowance to make this skirt longer?  I usually frequent the petite blogs because of my measurements, though I stand 5’8″ tall. I have a hard time finding skirts that are not a step short of a wardrobe malfunction :-)

    • Reply June 13, 2012

      Alterations Needed

      Hi! I love when tall ladies hang out on petite blogs! Many of my best shopping buddies have been tall…hehe. =)

      Unfortunately there’s no seam allowance at all on this skirt. The size 0 measures 18.5″ in length. If you’re looking for a nice long skirt in a similar style, check out this blogger who started sewing her signature skirts recently. She’s itty bitty, and they fit her tea-length, but I’ve seen taller ladies wear them and they hit at or just below the knee. I just don’t think they have pockets:

      http://www.dresscorilynn.com/2012/03/18/navy-awning-stripe-pleated-skirt/

      On a non-petite blogger:
      http://www.thepinkpeonies.com/2012/05/mrs-nautical.html

      If you give them a try, let me know how they work out…and let Cori know I vote for pockets if it turns out they don’t have any. ;)

  • Reply December 11, 2012

    Melanie Cardinaud

    You make me feel like wearing more skirts :)

    Love,

    Melanie ~ http://www.mlncrd.com

Leave a Reply