Less Commotion, More Content!

Hello again, everyone!

I’ve been having a massive (but very positive) life upheavals for the past few months: basically, I interviewed for and got a new job, moved across the country for it, and bought a house.  Trying to juggle all that while working full-time may not have been my wisest life choice, but everything’s turned out surprisingly well.

What that means for my readers is within a week or two I should be able to write regular content again.  I have plenty of ideas stored up, but do you have any requests?

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High Heels Slightly Less Likely To Destroy Your Body

This one’s a reader request, and one I’ve felt a little impostor-syndrome about!  Everyone wants to find comfortable heels, and I hate heels.  However, I am a good researcher, I appreciate how heels look on other people, and I am all about harm mitigation, so I decided to find out:

  1. What shoe brands promise reasonably comfortable, yet attractive, heels?
  2. Do any of them actually have data, rather than anecdotes, to prove their points?

I know that a lot of recommendations I make are not cheap, but there’s no area of fashion I’ve explored that can command prices as absurd as “comfortable, pretty high heels”– especially shoes with any kind of data to back up their promises of comfort. That said, here’s what I’ve found on brands that make nice-looking high heels that are designed to hurt minimally.

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L’Amour Des Pieds Darron: Super Comfortable, Wears Out Fast

L’Amour Des Pieds is a fairly new comfort brand created by Wayne Finkelstein, who is also the dude who started Gentle Souls before Kenneth Cole took over.  That meant I was willing to give their shoes a try even though they don’t make wide widths: Gentle Souls (under Kenneth Cole) is one of the only brands that makes pretty-ish shoes with a toebox wide enough for me.  So I picked up a pair of L’Amour Des Pieds’s Darron sandals in mustard.

Man, am I profoundly torn:

  • They’re way more interestingly-designed than most comfort shoes.  They also come in fun colors, which may not mean a lot to most people, but I have been trying to find a pair of yellow or green shoes that I can actually wear for *literally years*.  Add ‘wide’ to your search and all your unusual color options disappear.
  • They were extremely comfortable right out of the box– they’re smooth on the inside, have a comfortable amount of arch support, and have enough padding that bumpy roads don’t hurt my feet.

The problem: I’ve been wearing these sandals about every other day for two months, and they’re already showing signs of falling apart.  Pictures below the fold, so you can see what I mean.

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Companies To Opt Out Of Giving Personal Information To

(Unless You Want All The Catalogs)

Generally, medium-to-large-sized businesses will want to sell your information to someone.  It’s lucrative enough to help struggling clothing businesses stay afloat: according to a 2011 Wall Street Journal article, catalog companies charge about $110 per thousand mailing list names per mailing.

Figuring out how to opt out of letting them sell your information saves you irritation and helps the environment.  Opt-out information is usually located in companies’ privacy policies.   CatalogChoice is a good option for if you forgot to do that and want to opt out of mail you’re already getting.

However, I’ve definitely experienced a couple of worst offenders, and I wanted to share those with you so you could extra avoid the trouble.

 

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Friday Snack Break: HungryRoot

I recommend HungryRoot with some reluctance.  Their food is “healthy” in several ways that are trendy rather than evidence-based (lots of gluten-free stuff when the real problem is probably FODMAPS, ‘veggie-centric’ but no leafy greens whatsoever, though I can understand the latter for storage reasons).  However, if you’re just wanting vegetarian food that’s incredibly delicious– like, five-star restaurant good for the best stuff– I can recommend some of their stuff to you.  I really like their:

  • Smashed Roots (they’re like mashed potatoes with an incredible depth of flavor without getting rid of the comfort factor)
  • Brownie Batter (it can be cooked, but it’s so good that I’ve just eaten it out of the container so far)
  • Spiced Boniato Vanilla Custard (creamy, rich, and probably really high on the satiety index),

all of which are ready-to-eat.  Also: their portions are all bigger than they appear to be in website pictures.

I didn’t personally like any of their main meals I had: they were all decent, but not great, and they were what I like to call ‘worldsy’– food for people who want to feel worldly but who don’t really want to know what their food is actually supposed to taste like.  I particularly noticed it with the ‘sriracha peanut’ entree, which did not taste like sriracha, and the ‘korean scallion gochujang’ entree, which tasted nothing like gochujang.  Their tofu was okay, but for $3 for 8 tiny cubes, I wanted it to be spectacular.  (They also offer chicken for non-vegetarians.)
If you want to give them a try, here’s a referral link.  I think it’s supposed to give you 20% off!  If it doesn’t, the code NATIONWIDE should do it.
I’d definitely discourage you from getting their tofu add-ons, though.  It tastes fine, but you get the tiniest portion in the world for $3. I could get an entire block of tofu for less than they’re charging.
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Beija Flor: Super Comfortable, Strongly Scented

I hate pants shopping so much.  Nothing makes me feel like I have a weirder body: everything’s too long, everything fits wrong in the waist or the hip or the rise, nothing’s comfortable.  I avoid doing it.  Then, last month, I finally took stock of what jeans I owned, and this was it:

  • 1 pair jeggings covered with runs
  • 1 pair jeggings covered with pills
  • 1 pair jeans a size too small
  • 1 pair jeans that give me plumber’s butt

I was still wearing each and every pair of those jeans, and feeling unhappy every time I did.  Clearly, I needed new jeans.  But I put it off for another month, because I wanted to find a pair of jeans that could replace the function of all of those pants.  I wanted them to be more durable and breathable than the jeggings; I wanted them to be stretchier and more comfortable than the too-small jeans; I wanted them to fit better than Plumber’s Butt Jeans™;  and I didn’t want to agonize about what pants would fit me.  I also wanted to be comfortable with my jeans’ ethics, not just their fabrics.

The combination of those factors led me to Beija Flor, a company well known for their ethical, comfortable, and flattering jeans.  

 

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Awesome, Extremely Expensive Coats: The Luxury Edition

Teresa Crowninshield is a coat company that excels at luxurious, comfortable, well-fitting coats with a unique design. For this weekend’s upcoming Secret Style Saturday event, subscribers to their email list will get a discount on five new designs.  I thought I’d take the opportunity to tell you a little bit of why I’m so personally excited (and somewhat conflicted) about their coats.

Let’s start with the positives:

  • Their coats are entirely made out of high-quality natural fabrics. Teresa Crowninshield’s signature Azurean coat is lined with a silk thicker and heavier than that of most silk blouses.
  • There’s a coat for every body type: some coats I couldn’t have tailored to fit me better, and others look awful on me but would look fabulous on people with straighter figures.  While Teresa Crowninshield only sells up to a size 16 on their website, they’ve “gone well into the 20s” for clients who needed bigger coats.
  • Every design is both classically tailored and unique, usually with fun colorblocking.  Teresa Crowninshield coats are appropriate for any occasion where you really want to impress people.   They’re the kind of coat you choose to wear on stage with the President of the United States.

And now, the negatives:

  • None of her coats are entirely vegetarian, and many of her fabrics are sourced from China, including angora. China’s got a history of animal cruelty when it comes to angora farming, and Tess doesn’t do anything special to ensure her Chinese angora is cruelty-free.  (If you’re interested in avoiding Chinese angora but still want one of her coats, she still has some incredibly beautiful silk coats, and a few newer designs in silk-lined bamboo).
  • Teresa Crowninshield coats are priced like something you’d wear on stage with the President. Your first coat will generally cost between $375 and $695.

That’s a reasonable price, considering the materials (I ballparked the cost of the raw materials of her Azurean coat at $222.40)* and the labor (Teresa Crowninshield coats are USA-designed and USA-made on a small scale, and each Azurean takes the better part of a day to make).  That price also comes with perks– she gives you a lifetime 20% discount after you’ve bought your first coat (so subsequent coats will cost $300-$556).

That still doesn’t mean most people can afford that investment.  So if you’re interested in a sharp-looking coat that has a less inventive design and less luxurious materials but is cheaper and weatherproof, maybe check out Mia Melon’s Ultimate All-Weather Coat for $129-$139.

Tess (the owner) was kind enough to let me take a bunch of pictures of myself wearing her beautiful coats at a local craft fair to demonstrate how they fit.  Those are below the fold.

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Why I Don’t Buy Things From Pepperberry

I’ve been a little reluctant to post this, because I don’t like saying bad things about companies that serve an underserved market.  But I can’t recommend that people buy from Pepperberry.  I’ve personally experienced clothing quality and fit issues, though Hourglassy says specific items I review in this post have gotten better over the years. I might be willing to give them a try again if it weren’t for their policies towards plus-sized women.

Despite catering to a curvier market, they really don’t like plus-sized women.  They adjusted their sizing in 2011 and larger women who previously fit into their clothes complained; their campaign for ‘real women’ to serve as models somehow only found skinny women; people complain that their less-skinny models have disappeared; and most tellingly, their affiliate program policies repeatedly state that they are not to be associated with sites for plus-sized women and literally treat sites for plus-sized women the same way they treat porn.  Pepperberry did not return my May 18 request for comment on this policy.

Longer version of this story and pictures are below.

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Monthly Roundup: Useful Links

Hi, everyone!  Back from a surprise vitamin deficiency hiatus.

Crop Top Sweaters Make Me So, So Mad: a webcomic!  I started blogging because too much women’s clothing is like this, and I wanted to help people find the few things that weren’t.

Full Bust Finds: MM.LaFleur Dresses .  Hourglassy is a great blog for anyone busty, and it seems that Darlene had a more positive experience with the fit of several MM.LaFleur dresses than I did.  Absolutely worth checking out if you want a second opinion!

Plus Size Could Save Retailers: a business case for, you know, not ignoring most women’s shopping needs.

Dear Retailer: suggestions people in the plus size fashion community have for retailers.

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Secret Blankets: Staying Warm

Warm sweaters are on sale because for some reason people don’t want to buy them right now!  And offices are often extra-freezing in the summer!  Serendipity?

Slightly embarrassing story: in college, I had a fuzzy purple bathrobe I liked so much I wore it outside, as if it were a coat instead of obviously a bathrobe.  Now that I am doing a better job pretending to be an adult I do not wear my bathrobe outside, but as I get cold a lot, I still look for things that are as cozy as that bathrobe.  Outdoors, this means I have an excuse for fancy coats.  Indoors is harder, because I resist wearing: button-up cardigans (too fussy-looking), pullover sweaters (too hard to take off), blazers (too stiff and corporate).  If you do want those things, I make recommendations near the end of the post.  Otherwise, here is a sampling of the secret blankets of various weights I have left available to myself.

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