Friday, June 12, 2009

2 Shorts and a Tee: A Review of 3 Summer Staples

So this year, I elected to go all out and flaunt my not-particularly tanned legs. In previous years, I was afraid I would blind someone with my paleness. But following my late January trip to Florida, where at least the backs of my legs got slightly sunned, I figured, what the heck, let's just do it. Let's finally give all those cute J.Crew minis and shorts a whirl, since most of the adorable patterns were reserved (for some reason) for high hemlines. And while I've never felt comfortable in too-teeny minis and shorts (or shirtdresses that barely graze my backside), I have finally warmed up to certain varieties of short bottoms. Most of these fall into the category of hip-slung rather than waist-hugging, and the material has to be sturdy. It also helps (for once) to be a petite, as many of the "minis" actually fall almost to my knees.

So far, I have been satisfied with my decision. I've already displayed my deep adoration for the Limoncello Mini and its predecessor, the Deco Dots Mini. Moreover, I dared to bare my thighs in the Shocking Pink Crisp Cotton Shorts. But shorts were still a fearful area for me. Previous years of collecting had resulted in mostly 5-inch inseams and a couple of Bermuda shorts. No bold, bright patterns, unfortunately, made it into my collection. This was due largely to the fact that J.Crew is hell bent on churning out dozens of patterns in only one hemline: the dreaded 3-inch inseam. If only they could branch out a little, even into a 4-inch inseam. But no, it's 3 inches or nothing if you want a cute print.

Resigning myself to this unfortunate fact - and somewhat emboldened by my recent successes with the minis and the pink cotton 3-inch shorts - I decided, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. So I dove headfirst into the world of short shorts and minis, wondering how long short hemlines would stay in style this time around.

My first acquisition of June was the Stretch Chino Frankie Short in British Khaki. I had been looking for a pair of khaki shorts that didn't look too muddy, crunchy, or matronly. At first I thought these were absolutely out of the question. But after I tried them on in the store, they were surprisingly comfy, thanks in part to the stretch cotton. While they definitely felt short, the very sturdy material made them far less breezy than I had expected. Now, the aforementioned Crisp Cotton Shorts are a much breezier alternative. They don't have any stretch, but the cotton is so lightweight, you can definitely wear them on the hottest summer days. The Frankie shorts, on the other hand, feel much more substantial. Another thing that surprised me was the fit. While they are somewhat hip-sitting, they tend to stay in place pretty well rather than sliding up and down. The surprising aspect of the fit was that I actually fit into a size 0. I almost always get shorts in a size 2. I think the stretchy fabric made them adapt well to my shape.

They are the perfect workhorse in a casual summer wardrobe as they can run all around town with tennies and sandals, but they can also be dressed up slightly with a bold top. I initially thought I'd wear them only with tees, polos, and other sporty pieces. But when, in a pinch, I needed to match a bottom to my Cherry Blossom Frances Blouse and realized my go-to metallic beige shorts were dirty, I substituted the Frankies instead. I then added heels and some sparkle and went on my way. Instead of feeling underdressed that day, I actually felt very put-together. The British Khaki color also picked up the light brown shades in the Cherry Blossom print rather nicely. And, unlike the metallic cool-beige shorts or white bottoms I normally wear with the Frances, the British Khaki Frankies allowed me to wear gold-accented accessories instead of the usual silver-accented ones.

I also found the British Khaki Frankies to go swimmingly with my Bistro Orange Georgia Silk Linen Cardigan and a brown tank (no photo yet). The khaki shade isn't too far from that of the Icon trench and the Frenchie slicker. So if you like a warmer, deeper beige, these are for you. While I didn't try the other Frankie colors, I had considered the Natural color. Unfortunately, it looks like the online inventory is currently out. Maybe they'll return as popbacks soon? I believe there are still some Frankies in stores. For shorts that came out fairly recently, I am quite surprised that they sold out this quickly. But alas, it is a testament to their fit and comfort. It also makes me feel better about shelling out the full price of $49.50.

Here is my sample ensemble with the Cherry Blossom Frances Blouse, the recently acquired Cherry Blossom Necklace in Deep Rose, a Target flower-clasp bracelet, and an old pair of magenta Franco Sarto wedge heels:

My next shorts acquisition was completely unexpected. I was returning a bunch of online unwanteds in the store one day and stumbled upon the lovely printed Seville Paisley Shorts in Azalea. To be fair, I had initially noticed the Paisley button-down shirt online and in stores a few weeks back. But since I already owned a couple of items in last year's Cherry Blossom print, I didn't want to add unnecessary competition to my wardrobe. So I had held off. But when I saw the shorts sitting out on the display table, for some reason I felt compelled to try them. Even though I had just bought a pair of shocking pink shorts plus the Frankie shorts a week later.

It was love at first sight! The print is just gorgeous. It's a fuchsia shade with a broad floral and paisley-esqe design. Now, I know what you're thinking: Elle Woods in Legally Blonde 2 stated in no uncertain terms that paisley never looked good on anyone. But honestly, if the name didn't give it away, I would never have called this design "paisley." In fact, I renamed them "hothouse flower shorts" right away, which I thought was a more fitting description of the pattern. The nice thing about this print is the infusion of warm caramel, orange/yellow, and olive tones. Normally, I'm inclined to wear hot pink with cool, crisp shades like navy and white. But this particular fuchsia hue - especially embellished with mediterannean-colored accents - made me want to wear it with browns, warm beiges, and gold. At first, I couldn't really justify buying another pair of short pink shorts. But after I realized the profound differences in shades between these shorts and the Shocking Pink Crisp Cotton Shorts, I knew that they would go well with a lot of my wardrobe. So I ponied up the full price of $58 and rushed them home.
The material is very sturdy and slightly textured, similar to the Limoncello and Deco Dots skirts. The fit is more in line with most J.Crew shorts I've tried on. Since they sit on the hips and don't have much stretch, I opted for a size 2, which fit quite well. Like most printed shorts, they come with a size zipper. They look a little dressier than some of the other lighter-colored prints and far less sporty, so I thought I could pull off some summer evening outfits with them.

I've worn the shorts twice since getting them. The first time, I paired them with a Gap Silk-Blend Ruffle Cami (which incidentally I also fell head-over-heels for). I added golden-bronze wedge sandals and a bronzy metallic belt. I found rather unexpectedly that my fuchsia Jackie cardigan from last year matched perfectly. Normally, I try not to do tone-on-tone clothing in an outfit, but with the print having enough eye-catching interest on its own, and the addition of the ruffle cami with a slight sheen, I didn't think the fuchsia Jackie weighed down the set with too much fuchsia. (Incidentally, they also match almost perfectly with winter's Perfect Fit Ruffle Tank in the pink shade whose name I can't remember.) And I think they will even go with last spring's Cashmere Shrunken Shawl Collar Cardigan in Azalea. Anyway, the cardi is just a topper that can be tied around the shoulders if needed. Finally, I donned the ubiquitous Cherry Blossom Necklace in Deep Rose - fast becoming my most useful summer accessory - and my Target flower-clasp bracelet. Here's how it turned out:

This past weekend I tried a different variation with the Seville Paisley shorts. I opted for the Georgia Silk Linen Cardigan in Warm Shell and a matching v-neck tee underneath. This time, I chose a pale gold belt to compliment last year's platinum gold Amelia Espadrilles (which, by the way, are the most comfortable and versatile summer shoes ever). I finished with - you guessed it - the Cherry Blossom Necklace in Deep Rose and a simple pale gold bamboo bangle. I felt really comfortable and summery, but elegant at the same time. This was the result:

For evening, I swapped out the espadrilles for my brand new Kate Spade pale gold high-heeled sandals, a stellar catch at TJ Maxx for just $39 (marked down from $99 just 2 weeks prior). I think I was inspired by the fuchsia insole, which lent a sassy twist to the sandals and picked up the shorts. For some inexplicable reason, I felt compelled to put my hair up too. Here is the evening version:

I am thrilled with these shorts, and I definitely see them getting a lot of use in my summer wardrobe. I think they will pull out some pieces that aren't getting enough wear as I experiment further with them. Interestingly, I don't remember seeing them online - were they ever? I only saw the shirt in this print online. Either the shorts came out earlier and already disappeared, or they were an in-store only item. The good news is, there are plenty left at Pentagon City.

The final item I couldn't resist was a tee. Granted, I didn't need any more tees, but it seemed to call my name, so I answered. I had ventured out on Saturday to return two more online items that had hung for a few weeks but never worked out. I was immediately accosted with the new rollout, which I admit I had wanted to check out earlier in the week. However, after touring the store and investigating every corner, nothing really jumped out at me. Not because there weren't some cute pieces, but because I had already gone way overboard in April and May, and many of the new items were only slightly different versions of pieces I already had. Or more of the categories I already had more than enough of.

One item, however, justified yet another full-price purchase: the Baby Rib Stripe Boatneck Tee in white with navy stripes (not online yet). This is strikingly similar to the old Regatta Boatneck Tee in white with navy horizontal stripes, except the new tee has thin baby navy stripes (hence the name). Sometimes though, wider stripes look overwhelming on my small top half, so I tend to be weary of them. But the fine stripes in this incarnation seemed just right. I liked too that it was a long but slim fit, so it wouldn't hang or be blousy like so many tops this year. Also, I had missed too many boatneck tees in the past and had been unable to find my size, so I decided not to risk it gain. So, once again, I paid full-price and considered myself lucky that it was only $29.50.

The fit, like so many tees, is, well, fitted. The boatneck is particularly "huggy" and even clingy in places. If you have a curvier top and/or feel self conscious in too-tight knits, this is accentuated further by the horizontal stripes. For this reason, I almost always size up in J.Crew tees, and I recommend this to anyone who feels similarly. The sleeves are three-quarter, which I found perfect for stacking on some chunky bracelets. And while boatneck necklines can sometimes feel constricting at the neck, this cotton weave is so soft and stretchy that it didn't present a problem. The material is the perfect summer weight - not too heavy for wearing with shorts outside, but not too sheer that you can see right through it (especially important since the tee is white). The options in the store were either white with navy stripes or white with pewter stripes. I'm not sure if this is coming online soon and what color choices will be offered.

My first thought was to wear the tee with my pink Crisp Cotton Shorts, since I thought the long fitted tee would work with short shorts. I'm also obsessed with pairing navy/white with pink, so this was a natural inclination. This combo turned out fine, and I wore the set for a few hours.

But then I started experimenting with some different ways to wear the tee. At my personal shopper's suggestion, I thought I'd try the tee with a white bottom. If you have white jeans, they would go perfectly with this tee. I wanted to get this look but found it a bit too warm for pants, so I opted for a white a-line skirt instead. I also tested plain white medium-length straight shorts, which looked quite attractive.

In the end, the breezy white skirt won, so I donned it with the Baby Rib Stripe Boatneck Tee. Also on the advice of my personal shopper, I selected simple gold accessories for a clean, summery feel. I topped the tee with a gold boule long necklace from Target and simple gold ball earrings. I did go a little bolder on the wrist and wore a gold cuff with turquoise cabochon beads in a flower design (from TJ Maxx). I added more bling with my Amelia gold espadrilles and a small platinum gold-trimmed linen bag from Ann Taylor Loft. My husband said, "You look very French." He rarely says things like that, and he rarely means them in a nice way. But in this case, he actually liked the ensemble. Here it is up close:

I'm still experimenting with how to wear this tee, and I'm not opposed to wearing it with a colored bottom. But I'm also going to see how I can glam it up with my white shorts and hopefully keep the French Riviera vibe. I think the tee would pair well with short shorts and even (gasp) a white micro-mini (sized for regular heights so it comes out as a mini on me), so maybe I'll give that a shot as well.

All in all, some great summer staples that I think will get a lot of wear. And though I squirm at the thought of not having used any sort of discount, in all fairness, some of this stuff couldn't be ordered online (or was out in my size). Besides, I got so many steals online in April and May, I can hardly complain. At least these items weren't priced exorbitantly to begin with.

Happy summer shopping!


HeidiG said...

I love the tee - I tried it on last week and almost got, but then wavered. I am headed back to get it this week, assuming they have my size. I am planning to wear it with jeans, white jeans, khakis, denim skirt. I would also wear with most bright bottoms (not that I have any, other than an older pair of JC pink bermudas). I agree with the French Riviera vibe - when I put it on, I felt almost as elegant as Vanessa in the Paris catalog.

Then onto the shorts - you look absolutely, positively amazing in all the shorts pics - love love love them on you. You should definitely wear them more often. And flaunt your paler legs and say "I'm not getting skin cancer." :) Love all those outfits, love the day to night change. Excellent outfits, all!!

Zoë Moët said...

You have great legs! You should wear minis and short shorts every day! You have no reason to hide them. Also, it's easy enough to buy a tan in a bottle if you're worried about blinding people (I'm a redhead, I've been there).

Anonymous said...

I love all your outfits!! The shorts look great on you.

I just bought the boat neck too (via phone to my B&M) and can't wait for it to arrive! I'm not sure if I got the right size-, but I never know with JC anymore.
Thanks for the ideas. I love how you styled it!

GingerSnap said...

Um, Hi, we need to have a chat. You look FABULOUS in shorts! Why aren't you wearing them EVERY day?!?! I really love all your outfits in this post. Plus, I am super jealous of the cherry b top, I wanted it when it was in stores, but I missed out on it! It's darling on you! :)

dinagideon said...

I must say...the 3 inch inseam is perfect on you...too die for perfect.

I have the paisley print in a top. I adore that print. :) I also admit that CW has a dress in that print...couldn't resist!

fidele said...

so cute on you!

The first outfit, with the cherry blossom blouse and khaki shorts, is my favorite.

gigiofca said...

You look awesome in short shorts. So tall! Definitely keep that going. The tee is so cute. If you have a flower belt, wear that w/it and khaki shorts? Short ones, of course ;-)

Patina Cabachon said...

3pp, you look gorgeous! i love all of your outfits.

Summerilla said...

LOL. I'm just like you - I used to always avoid wearing shorts in the summer because mu legs were super pale. Than I decided I wasn't going to suffer in the heat any longer!!

You look amazing in shorts - so keep on rockin' them!! You have fabulous legs that should be shown off!

3-Penny Princess said...

Ladies, thank you so much for your compliments! I promise I wasn't fishing for them:). I do have to disclaim that I cheat a little by wearing all the 3-inch shorts on my hips or just past, so they end up looking more like 4 or 5-inch shorts anyway. I'm still a little chicken to bare all...

Heidi, definitely get the striped boatneck tee! I think it's perfect for your figure, and you would really look like a model on the French Riviera if you wore it! I would love to see pics. Yes, I'm trying to not get skin cancer, but I think the problem is that even when I try to get some sun, I never get tan anyway.

Zoe Moet - I have always wanted to try the bottled tan, but the few times I did years ago it never came out right. I'm sure they've come a long way, but any good tips for application?

gigiofca - Good idea with the flower belt! I don't have one yet. But I do have mint and magenta patent skinny belts. Maybe I could get those to work...

Zoë Moët said...

I'd say go for the more expensive, high quality self-tanners or bronzers. Make sure you don't go for a color that's totally not you (i.e. no deep tropical Bahama mama shades)but rather, pick a shade that's fairly close to your natural tone and work up by using the stuff regularly. Because you're a brunette, and seem to have the right coloring for a tan, you should be able to make it sister is a brunette and she used a lotion that really worked well for her last summer...I'll have to ask her what brand it was. Anyway, you're not all that pale, I think the shade you've got goin' on right now is just fine :)

3-Penny Princess said...

Zoe Moet - good point on the self tanners. Maybe I could even try one of those daily lotions where it builds over time. That's got to be almost mistake proof:). Know any good ones? Thank you for your comments and for saying that my legs are just fine the way they are!

Slastena said...

3-PP, you look so lovely in all of your ensembles. Shorts look amazing on you, I am having hard time deciding which ones are the most becoming. Thank you, thank you for the awesome pics!!
Is that Metallic Amelia wedges from last year I am spotting on you? I have 2 pairs- madras and pink polka dots, time to get them out of the boxes!:)

LPC said...

That outfit with the striped t and white skirt is great. So classic.

3-Penny Princess said...

Slastena - thank you! Yes, the Amelia espadrilles are in full force. The ones shown are the platinum-gold ones. I also have the dark bronze and the pink madras ones. I got them for $17 each last summer - they are the best shoes! Definitely break yours out!

La Petite Crew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
3-Penny Princess said...

LPC - thank you for the compliment! Also, lately I am going crazy for all things navy. I've always loved it, but this month I just can't get enough! I just bought an amazing J.Crew navy pantsuit that looks like a million. Will share pics soon...

Needs Help said...

very cute!!

Beth Dunn said...

Tried them on and could not do it--pale legs made me self conscious. you look great! xo

Anonymous said...

Those shorts are 2 Cute with the brown top! You go girl and show off your legs the way they are!
It's cool to be pale!