Stitch Fix Review #9: August 2016

Stitch Fix Collective Concepts Rilo Button-Up Blouse, Collective Concepts Ardenas Split Neck Blouse, Margaret M Christiana Printed Pencil Skirt, Kut From the Kloth Dayna Skinny Jean, Loveappella Malbec Elbow Patch Knit Top

I’m breaking up with Stitch Fix.

Yes, you read that right. Stitch Fix has been a lot of fun — the pinning, the review reading, the requests to my stylist, the anticipation — but I have to be honest and say that it also hasn’t been all that successful.

I’ve never bought more than two of the five pieces I’ve received in a Fix. While I’ve truly been okay with that for the sake of my budget, I never bought more than two because there were never more than two I wanted. And as you’ve seen in some of my reviews, even those months were more the exception than the rule.

After a couple (far) less-than-great Fixes in the early summer, I intentionally chose to wait until August to schedule another Fix, in the hopes that the transition-to-fall inventory might be more my style — and that it would fit me better. No such luck. Read on for details on my (likely-to-be) last Fix and my takeaways from the fun that Stitch Fix has brought to my life and the jumpstart it’s brought to my closet.

Collective Concepts Rilo Button-Up Blouse | XSP | $68

I didn’t have particularly high hopes for this top when I peeked at my Fix in the app. I figured it would be another in the line of sheer, oversized blouses I’d already been sent. It was sheer, but in a way that would have actually been okay with me, if the blouse hadn’t actually somehow ended up a little too short (huh?) and with a less-busy pattern.

Verdict: Returned.

Collective Concepts Ardenas Split Neck Blouse | XSP | $54

Shelby took great direction from my Pinterest board with this top, to the point that I thought I’d actually pinned this exact one until I took a closer look. I loved the colors and even the somewhat busy pattern and thought it could have transitioned from a fun late-summer pairing with my white jeans to a fall work outfit with a black skirt and cardigan. The length was okay, which begs the question: why are the armholes on all these Stitch Fix tops so enormous? The picture above really doesn’t show how big they were, but I remain perplexed. If this had been a top on sale at Loft for $29 I might have considered keeping it, but for $54, nope.

Verdict: Returned.

Margaret M Christina Printed Pencil Skirt | XSP | $78

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I requested a pencil skirt, and I love the idea of a navy addition to my closet, but…they sent me a different pattern of a skirt that I returned last fall. I returned it mostly for fit and quality reasons — neither of which was any better with this one. Again, I might have made it work on a less expensive skirt, but for $78 I maintain that a skirt should be lined, and more than that, it should fit. Cute pattern but the rest was a no. (Add to my questions for Stitch Fix: do your computers not weed out pieces that clients have previously returned?)

Verdict: Returned.

Kut From the Kloth Dayna Skinny Jean | 0P | $88

Shelby checked off another of my requests — medium wash skinny ankle jeans under $100 — with these, but they were just a case of a pair that simply didn’t fit. I’m eschewing vanity and showing you this picture of the sausage legs that these jeans gave me for the sake of an honest review. But yeah, sausage legs. Back into the bag they went.

Verdict: Returned.

Loveappella Malbec Elbow Patch Knit Top | XS | $58

My first thought when I saw this top in my app: Ooooh, so cute for fall baseball season! And stripes! And elbow patches! I thought this would be a win all around, especially because I’ve loved how soft Loveappella tops have been. But then I got it in person, and it was another no. The heathered sleeves were too close to stonewashed for my taste, and the fabric was too scratchy. Womp, womp. Cue the tiny fashion violins.

Verdict: Returned.

Final tally: 0/5 this month, 10/45 overall. Ultimately, I’m leaving because even the petite inventory didn’t fit me well, but I’m walking away with 10 new pieces in my closet that I really love, including two great bags that I probably never would have bought for myself, and the best-fitting jeans I’ve ever had. I’ve also added some fun new pieces to my wardrobe through other stores, in part because I started paying better (or any!) attention to style trends and what I was lacking. And I really did love the Stitch Fix process, especially the anticipation of finding out what would be in that box. I do think that $20 is a reasonable styling fee, especially when it includes shipping and what I thought was highly personalized service once I found the right stylist. I may be back, someday, but for now, that $20 can add more enjoyment to my life in other ways, like covering an hour of babysitting, drinks with a friend, or a couple of e-books. Thanks for coming along with me on my wardrobe revitalization experiment!

Want to read more of the good, bad, and, yes, even some ugly? All my Stitch Fix reviews are here:

Our Best Baseball Trips

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Before Teddy was born, we used to take at least one trip every year to see baseball in different cities. We own multiple books that profile parks across the country, and one by one, we were checking them off.

Our trips have been on hiatus of late — anyone else tried sitting and watching nine innings with toddlers? — but with the boys of summer back in full swing after the All-Star Break, I’ve been reminiscing about our past trips. One of our favorite games in the Storybook Life house is to look back on our past travels and rank them against each other (what can I say, we’re an exciting pair). And so here, I give you my favorite five baseball trips. And Florida, watch out — we’re coming at you, toddlers and all, for spring training again next year. I’ve had enough time away.

5. St. Louis, 2005.

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The Sox won the World Series on October 27, 2004. On October 28, I knew our trip the following year would be to St. Louis. It would be the Cardinals’ last year in the original Busch Stadium, and I needed to see the place where they’d won it all. The cheap and giant Buds didn’t hurt, and we loved our tour of the Bud brewery and our visit to Grant’s Farm. And wow, are people at baseball games in St. Louis nice (says this girl raised on Fenway crowds).

4. Spring Training #1, 2011, & #2, 2014 (tie).

Talk about two different trips. One pre-kids, paired with Disney (& around the world at Epcot), the other pushing kid #1, 18 months old, around in a stroller and barely pregnant with #2. In the first we saw the Sox in Lakeland, at the Tigers’ park, and the Sox’ last park.  We drank buckets of beer near our hotel and spent a whole day on Fort Myers Beach, sunning ourselves and bar hopping.

On the second trip, we babyproofed our hotel suite, showed up at the hotel dining room for breakfast at 7 and dinner at 5, and caught snippets of games in between Italian ices and giant pretzels at the Minnesota and Baltimore parks. (Note that in the second trip we couldn’t get tickets to the new Sox park, and I’ll be damned if I’ll pay scalper prices for spring training games where players sport triple-digit jersey numbers by the fourth inning.)

The first was our last trip as a family of two, and the second our first as a family of three (& almost four). Spring training holds such a special place in my heart.

3. Toronto #1, 2004.

The trip that started in Niagara Falls — yay, Maid of the Mist! — and included a visit to one of the very best museums I’ve ever been in, the Hockey Hall of Fame. We walked blocks and blocks of the beautiful, clean city on our first (but spoiler alert, not our last) trip to Canada and when we needed a rest, we hit some fun bars. Full disclosure: the highlight of this trip for B remains me falling for a practical joke in one of the bars, where they’d positioned a (very realistic) dummy of a guy in the corner of the women’s bathroom. What? I’m surprised that you’re one of the three people he hasn’t regaled with the story in the 12 years since.

2. Chicago #1, 2003.

Our very first baseball trip remains among our best. We could have spent a week straight in Wrigleyville, gazing at that ivy. We caught a Friday game (afternoon, of course), and though we originally thought we’d find tickets for Saturday’s, too, the neighborhood was so great that we decided to watch the game from some of the bars around the park instead. I was also thrilled to stay in the Hotel Burnham, one of Chicago’s oldest “skyscrapers” — all 13 stories of it — and to catch the annual air show from the Hancock Observatory. Our trip back to catch a Red Sox-White Sox series a few years later was fun in its own way, but the new Comiskey Park — sorry, US Cellular Field — doesn’t hold a candle to Wrigley. Or to the little league field down the street.

[I don’t have a picture from this trip as it was in the olden days, before we had a digital camera, and I don’t know where the print pictures are…but picture it. Ivy. Hot Chicago summer days. Airplanes. Fancy hotel.]

1. Seattle (& Vancouver), 2008.

We needed our trip to the Pacific Northwest in May 2008. We could have said it was a trip to celebrate my 30th birthday, but it was really a chance to take a breather after the relentlessness of the months since our wedding just eight months earlier. The cancer diagnosis, the surgery, the radiation, the return to some semblance of a “normal” life.

And then, just before our trip, my face swelled. My cheeks felt like I was storing a winter’s worth of a chipmunk’s acorns, thanks to my radiation-fried, and now swollen and sore, salivary glands.

I said some choice words, took some Advil, applied warm compresses to my cheeks as I’d been instructed — and I got on the damn plane. Because we weren’t just flying to Seattle to see the Sox. We were flying first-class, dammit, and I was going to take every glass of mediocre wine, every little plate of snacks, and every warm cloth offered.

And then we got to Seattle, and this was our view from our hotel room:

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As the swelling in my cheeks relented, I left the bad memories of the last months behind and made plenty of good new ones — even as the Sox lost both games we went to. (The Safeco garlic fries trumped my fried sense of taste. Yum.)

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We walked. We drank. We saw the Pike Place Market and the Space Needle. We ferried to Bainbridge and ate fresh fish and walked (and drank) some more.

Then we got in the car and drove north, to Vancouver. And that’s where this story ends, for now — because there are more, memorable non-baseball travel stories to be told, another day.

Right now, there’s another half-season — and playoffs, I hope, this year! — to watch.

Little Loves…and Less-Than-Loves

Photo by Josh Jones

If you’ve been around these parts for a bit, you’ve probably figured out that I love sweater weather and all things pumpkin, TV (especially if it features anything throwback to the 90s, Coach or Mrs. Coach, or baseball), podcasts, sugar, and sarcasm. Likewise, you may have determined that I’m not a particularly big fan of restricted diets, being too hot or too cold (thanks, good-for-nothing-and-now-missing thyroid), and cancer.

(So the last one’s kind of a gimme. But given my usual subject matter — and the fact that today marks six years since my last radiation treatment — I felt like I might as well state the obvious.)

But when one of my favorite writers, Lindsey Mead, wrote last week about the small things she loves, and those she doesn’t, I couldn’t help but make my own list. So, I give you my lists of my small loves…and less-than-loves.

Things I love:

  • Travel planning
  • Opening the door to a new hotel room
  • Listening to my kids making each other laugh
  • Stirring risotto and watching the liquid absorb into the rice, before pouring in the next cup, and stirring some more
  • The Friday Night Lights theme song
  • Ice-cold beer on a hot summer day
  • The smell of freshly cut grass
  • The roar of the crowd when they realize it’s a home run
  • Sweatshirts at the beach
  • Early-season Christmas carols (see sweater weather, above)
  • Stories behind ornaments

Things I definitely don’t love:

  • Peas
  • The so-called word “impactful”
  • Unloading the dishwasher
  • Grocery shopping on Sundays
  • Flying with toddlers
  • Movies without linear plots (I’m looking at you, Pulp Fiction)
  • The song “Werewolves of London” (not logical. I just cannot stand that song.)
  • Summer camps that don’t last a full workday
  • The DC Metro. I left last fall and haven’t looked back!

What’s on your list? What small things send your heart soaring – or make you grit your teeth?

Three Good Things [07.05.16]

TGT July

The grill’s cooled down, the empties have been added to the recycling bin, and the fireworks have ceased their explosions in the sky. July 4 is behind us, with the rest of the hot, hazy summer stretching out in front. As we’ve eased into slip and slide season, I’m finding lots to love, learn, and feel grateful for.

Three things I’ve loved lately:

  • A look back over 20 years of great TV. I found Alan Sepinwall back when he was writing his recaps of The Wire for the New Jersey Star-Ledger. The Wire’s long since ended and Sepinwall has long since moved on from the Star-Ledger, but his reviews keep me following him, and I often feel like I haven’t fully “watched” a show until I’ve read his accompanying review. His two decades as a critic have featured some pretty incredible TV highs.
  • The ultimate wedding playlist. My recurring nightmare about our wedding was that the dance floor would be empty. We hired a great DJ, and yet I still fretted about the playlist (and the do not play under any circumstances list). Love this analysis from Five Thirty Eight of the top wedding songs and artists, and the reason that songs from the mid-1960s, early 1980s and the last few years top the chart. (And yay, September is #11 on the list! Any day, all year round, every wedding. Our dance floor was packed from the moment that played until the music stopped.)
  • The Jerk in the Mirror. On getting your body through cancer, and everything after. This line so resonated with me, as I struggle to stick with some healthier habits: “Perhaps it’s high time I acted like I plan to stay awhile.”

Three things I’ve learned:

  • Bridget Jones’ Diary was a thinly veiled Pride and Prejudice remake. I just read (and loved) Eligible, a modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Only after I raved about it did a friend clue me in on the parallels between P&P and Bridget Jones…which I’ve seen no fewer than 10 times. Um, yeah.
  • All about dashes. As you may have noticed in reading my stuff, I have a thing for long sentences, and I’m an unabashed dash (and comma, and parenthesis) lover. As JoAnna Novak explains, “The dash is my go-to fix, my sentence extender, my comma absolver, my elastic-waistbanded jeans at the Thanksgiving feast of language.”
  • Joey + Rory is going to be a movie. Rory took hundreds of hours of video of Joey before Indy was born, in her first months of life, as Joey went through cancer, and as she died. They’re turning that footage into a movie that will be shown for one night only – on September 20, across the country – and I’m so going to be there. With a box of tissues, or six, in hand. Come with me, whether in person or virtually?

Three things I’ve felt grateful for:

  • Voxer! My “internet friend” Sarah – so-called only because we met through the internet, but we are actual friends – introduced me to this voice messaging app, and I’m loving it. It’s a great way to connect with people when there isn’t time to write long emails and there’s more to say than quick texts can convey. I’m especially loving it for keeping up with more of the daily minutiae that’s part of my best friend’s family’s life – and keeping her up to speed on what’s happening in our house, too.
  • The reaction I received to Rediscovering Babar. It took me 11 (or more? I can’t remember now) pitches to publish Babar, and I’m so thankful that it found a home at The Manifest-Station, where I’m regularly moved by quiet, pensive essays. I’m proud and still a little surprised to be among those voices. And I’m grateful, too, for the feedback I got to what was one of the most personal essays I’ve written. It was tough to write and tougher still to publish, but I’m glad I did.
  • The first week of summer. I took Teddy’s first full week of summer vacation off, and after a quick trip to Boston, the staycation portion of the week was a great way to ease into a somewhat more relaxed summer schedule (albeit with the still-regular morning wakeups and lunch packing for camp and daycare). We watched too much TV (thanks Pop network for midday 90210 marathons and on demand for the first season of Dawson’s Creek), ate munchkins and lots of popsicles, hit the pool and the playground, and lazed around the house. Aaah.

How’s your summer getting started? What have you loved, learned, and felt grateful for lately? 

Stitch Fix Review #8: June 2016

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After a disappointing 0/5 late-May Fix, I could have stepped away from Stitch Fix for a while. Instead, I doubled down and moved my next Fix up to the first available date, just a couple of weeks later. I knew I only wanted one more summer Fix before taking a break until the fall, so I figured I might as well get it as soon as I could – and then fill in whatever blanks would be left after in my summer wardrobe.

A quick reminder of how Stitch Fix works. You fill out an online style profile, based on which a stylist chooses five items (clothes, jewelry, and/or accessories) to send. You pay a $20 styling fee, which covers the cost of the stylist and shipping, and if you keep anything, you apply the $20 toward the cost of the item(s). If you keep all five, you get a 25% discount on the whole box! (You send whatever you don’t want back in a pre-paid envelope.) 

Read my reviews of my earlier Fixes here.

I emphasized in my note to my stylist (welcome back, Shelby!) that I wanted to stick with casual cotton and knit pieces. My summer clothes need to be light for the DC heat and humidity and easy to wear while running around with the kids, which is why I’ve usually fallen back on Old Navy and Target tees and shorts – why spend money on pieces that are lucky to make it through a whole summer? But in the spirit of upgrading my closet a bit beyond my usual 2-for-$10 sale, I pinned a bunch of cute tanks, tops, dresses, and skirts. Here’s what I got. (Note that I’m adding in sizes this time for reference.)

Pixley Rolfe Knit Back Top | XS | $54

As she’s done so well in the past, Shelby tracked down a couple of my pins! I loved the colors in this one – bright but not overwhelming – and it was light and flowy. Only problem is that it was also just too big. Too long, with oversized arm holes and too droopy a neckline. Sadly, this one went back.

Verdict: Returned

Market & Spruce Careen V-Neck Dolman Knit Top | XS | $48

I’d pinned this one, too, with a note acknowledging that it’s not the summery-ist (?) of tops, but that I liked the look and I figured I could wear it on cool nights and as a summer-to-fall transition piece. And navy and white stripes? Sign me up. Had it fit, it would have given me a good excuse to finally take the plunge on buying some white pants or jeans, too. Alas, while the arms fit well, the cut was just too loose and the v-neck too wide and deep on my small-shouldered (and chested) frame. Back it went.

Verdict: Returned

Skies Are Blue Dakoda Mixed Material Dress | XSP | $68

This is exactly the kind of piece that I’d been hoping for – something a little different than I’d pick for myself (orange! Mixed material!) but with elements of my traditional style (navy! Scoop neck!). The top of the dress fit well but the waist hit me in an awkward spot and the skirt was a little shorter than I’d like. I also didn’t have good shoes to wear with it, and though I’m not above finding an excuse for some new sandals, this wasn’t the dress worth the excuse. Ah well.

Verdict: Returned

London Times Evaline Eyelet Dress | 2P | $78

This dress is seriously adorable. A color I probably wouldn’t pick for myself, but I really liked it. It felt substantial but still summery and could have made a good transition to fall. Only…it’s almost exactly like my Listen to Your Mother dress – you know, one of the five dresses I couldn’t dump? – and as a result, I couldn’t justify keeping it. But if you’re looking for a cute eyelet dress for a summer party or casual wedding? Get this one.

Verdict: Returned

Kut From the Kloth Gracelyn Pencil Skirt | 0P | $58

 

The day before Shelby began working on my Fix, I’d pinned a casual chino skirt. It was an olive green color that I wasn’t too excited about but I could have made work; the more important thing was the idea of having a versatile piece that could go from work to home to weekend. I was happy when I saw that this pink version was in my Fix! Now, I do already have a pair of pants in nearly this shade, but I figure this skirt will work well on hot, humid summer days when I can’t imagine pulling on pants. Yes, my friends, it’s a keeper.

Verdict: Kept!

The final tally: 1/5. The colors in this Fix brightened my June, even if the fits were off somewhat. Based on my last few Fixes, I’ve come to the conclusion that Stitch Fix’s extra small petite summer inventory must be low. I was already planning to hold off on another shipment until the fall, but this Fix confirmed it. See you back here for another reveal in a couple of months, when we’ll be pining for sweater weather and layers to take us into the crisp fall days.

Disclaimer: This post isn’t sponsored by Stitch Fix, and I pay for whatever I keep. But if you’re interested in trying Stitch Fix and you sign up using my referral link, I’ll receive a small credit to use toward future purchases when your first Fix ships. Thanks!

Want to see my past Stitch Fix reviews?

And, if you’re like me and can’t get enough of Stitch Fix reviews, visit the Stitch Fix review link up hosted by Maria from Kinder Craze and Crazy Together.

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