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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

Flight Delay

Friday’s scheduled content will appear on Monday.  My flight is delayed an entire day!  Luckily, I am not quite stranded in Dallas.  Unluckily, I have no cat picture to tide you over this time.

Continue Reading

Bust-Friendly Dress Shirts, Part 2: DD Atelier

DD Atelier is a Russia-based company that makes way more interesting and structured clothing than most bust-friendly retailers do.  I don’t always agree with their choice of fabrics, but that’s a matter of personal preference: everything they make looks youthful and fun even if I’m not personally a fan of gingham.  Also, their clothing fits me really well, once I figured out what my size was.  (This shirt is an 80F, and I originally thought I was an 85D).  For the price, it’s ridiculously well-constructed, and the fabrics and fit are both way nicer than the Pepperberry shirt I bought 8 years ago.  Also, my friends implied that I looked like Neo from The Matrix, which I consider a compliment.

Continue Reading

Ethical Fashion Supporting Actual Native American Artists

I was upset last week to hear that the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico does not think that the Navajo Nation, the second-largest Native American tribe in the United States, is famous enough for Urban Outfitters “Navajo”-branded stuff to legally qualify as trademark dilution.  Not a total loss for the Navajo, since they have a pretty compelling case (nonsense language like ‘tribal print’ exists because it’s illegal to pretend that you are selling the products of a particular Native American tribe unless you actually are).   But it’s certainly a blow to, you know, basically any tribe that trademarks their name to prevent exactly this kind of thing from happening, because if the Navajo can’t win that argument about their name, then who can?

There’s not much I can do as a private citizen, but I decided I can do these three things:

  1. Suggest that you do not buy stuff from Urban Outfitters or their other brands, Free People and Anthropologie, if you care about human beings.  Urban Outfitters has a long history of doing this sort of thing and also not making clothes in ethical conditions.
  2. Tell you a little about the Navajo and why they should be famous, even if the U.S. District Court does not believe this;
  3. Share with you some actual Native American / First Nations artists whose cool clothing and accessories you can buy

For a more comprehensive list of Native American fashion and accessory designers, check out Beyond Buckskin Boutique’s Buy Native list.  This list is just a curated version of the ones I like the most: I personally tend to like simple things, and a lot of Native art is too intricate for my taste. If you have different taste than me, please do check out Beyond Buckskin’s Buy Native list.

I’ve tried to include options at a variety of price points.

 

Continue Reading

Shoes That Fit: Narrower Heels, Wider Toes

It’s been a while since I’ve written about footwear (mostly because the posts I want to write are either historical research projects or would involve me going to the store to try on shoes I don’t usually wear).  So here’s a popular question I’ve gotten:

How do you find shoes that are wider in the toe but narrower in the heel that also don’t look like clown shoes?

The fact that this is requires a search is ridiculous.  According to the podiatrists I’ve spoken to, most women have wider forefeet and narrower heels.  But women’s shoes are usually built either to have toes that are the same width as their heels or toes that are narrower.  This is especially frustrating to me as someone with a significantly-wider-than-average forefoot but narrow heels, and it’s also frustrating because shoes that are too narrow in the forefoot cause bunions… which are extra-painful if you are wearing shoes that are narrow in the toebox.  But you can find them, and I hope this post makes that process easier for you!

 

Continue Reading

Bust-Friendly Dress Shirts, Part 1: Front Room

A few weeks ago I rounded up the best silk blouses I could find through research– and now I’ve actually tried one of them!

Full disclaimer:  I got this blouse as a gift from the lovely owner of Front Room, Melanie Love.  She did not give this to me for review, although she was aware of the existence of this blog at the time that she gave it to me, and it being a gift from her does not affect the honesty of this review.

This bust-friendly shirt review comes first because apparently, Front Room is closing their web storefront for the summer starting mid-June!  They started a semi-annual sale for their mailing list subscribers on 5/15, and they’ll be extending it to the general public on 5/17.

Front Room, as far as I know, is unique among specifically bust-friendly clothing companies.  Everything they make is not just office-appropriate, but appropriate for a very formal office.  Melanie Love comes from a finance background, so she’s got experience standing uncomfortably next to men in $10,000 suits while “praying the double-sided tape on [her] shirt-front [was] going to hold until the end of the presentation.”  Her clothing is designed for that environment.

Continue Reading