It took several weeks of the Flared Caraz Dress being posted on Anthropologie before I paid it any attention.  In fact, it wasn't until the site featured a shot of a model wearing it for the catalog that I looked up the item details.  After seeing user reviews and photos, I started crushing on the dress.  What I liked about it was the creamy, ruffled bottom; the colorful print featuring plenty of pink, my favorite color; the length seemed long enough, unlike the beautiful Minutiae Dropwaist "Dress" (pictured below) I ordered that has become a tunic worn with grey leggings or jeans; plus, it has some semblance of a sleeve.  The user pictures were really cute, and it had a couple of good full-figured reviews.  I'm always hesitant to order dresses from Anthro because I never know if they're going to fit.  But somehow, strangely, I've never ordered something online and had to return it, though I've had plenty of depressing days in Anthro fitting rooms where nothing fits or they've run out of my size.  
Well, I finally decided to order the Flared Caraz Dress in an XL (I typically wear a 14-16) two months ago.  And it was back-ordered.  For two months.  After weeks and weeks of waiting, I came home from our Memorial weekend camping trip to find it waiting in my mailbox.  As usual, Anthro's packaging was adorable.  The gray plastic-y bag had a printed design with big purple, blue, and green flowers outlined in thick black.  Cute.  Like something from one of their bedspread prints.  Anyways, I opened the package to feel the dress and loved the fabric.  It's a fragile, soft, airy mesh with a lot of stretch to it.  Like many of the other reviewers, I can see it snagging fairly easily, but the print is so busy and colorful, that I think it would be hard to spot a snag anyways.  

The dress has a cream lining that also has a lot of stretch to it.  The keyhole closure in the back is cute and tiny, so no need to worry about wearing a cami or special bra underneath.  Once on, the dress is light and airy and stretchy and comfy.  The print does have a faded look to it, which I like, but there's a bit more black and orange in it than I expected after looking through all of the user pictures.  While it does have a gathered waist, I think it looks better with a belt.  The print is a little overwhelming, so I like the idea of having a belt to break it up a little and to define your waist more.  One of the cons is that if you have a larger chest, like me, the printed mesh overlay will stretch and be lighter in color.  It's only slightly noticeable and not enough to make me feel self-conscious and return it.  Overall, I love how comfortable it is and that you can style it a variety of ways with different cardis, belts, shoes, and even tights and boots in the winter.  It seems like a pretty wild piece - but that never scares me off because I love colorful prints - but I think it can be really versatile too.

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I hung it up and inspected/admired it before trying it on....hoping it would fit.
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First outfit. This is one of the few necklaces I have that can stand up to the print. Most other necklaces got lost in the pattern.
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Awkward stance...
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So I really like the pink cardi with it - it pulls out the pink in the pattern. Not so sure about the boots. Poor pink boots. They sit in my closet, cute as they are, waiting for outfits they can be worn with without looking ridiculous.
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I think I'll keep the dress...I have enough cardis in different colors that I can wear over it, plus it can be worn without a sweater in the summer when it gets really hot. The fabric is so light and airy that I imagine it'll be quite cool in the summer heat.
 
Not a good thing.  Because when it's 50% off...it's just so tempting.  So I'm going to browse around a bit.  And as I've been browsing, I've been playing songs from an old "Shared" folder.  There's some good jams in there.  Oldies but goodies: 

Baby Boy da Prince - This is the Way I Live
Black Sheep - This or That
Bob Marley - No Woman No Cry
Closing Time
Come on Eileen
David Bowie - Under Pressure
Doobie Brothers - Black Water
Every Breath You Take
Fleetwood Mac - Landslide
Mashups: Jay-Z & The Verve - Bittersweet Symphony
Prince - When Doves Cry
Pussycat Dolls - Beep
Train - Drops of Jupiter
Otis Redding - Sitting on the Dock of the Bay


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Batik Dress - $60 I love the colors in this dress...it's sunny and flirty and cute. Fun print. Empire waist. I'm not a fan of spaghetti straps, meaning I'll end up wearing a cardigan over it. And the bust looks a bit low cut, leading me to think I'll have to wear a cami underneath it as well.
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Oh look - a pink cardi to wear over the dress above! I do wonder if it's a bit too long, though. I'd also probably wear it belted. I'm glad that these open-cardis are becoming more popular and that they're featuring all different sleeve-lengths and a variety of colors. Plus - it's in my favorite shade of pink: bubble-gum. And LB doesn't offer much in bubble gum pink. It's usually raspberry or peach or hot pink. Thank you for featuring THIS shade of pink, LB!
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I'm not a stripe wearer, but there's something about this dress that I really like, and it's certainly not the halter neck. So there's two things I don't like about this dress - or any article of clothing, actually - but I am still drawn to it. Maybe it's the shades of greens and reds and pinks? I really want to like maxi dresses, too. I like how they look on models. I ordered the one below from Torrid a couple of months ago, and while I thought it was okay, it wasn't great. Too long. The print coloring looked different in person. Just not for me. But maybe there's hope for this one from LB...and it looks like it can be worn as a strapless.
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The Torrid maxi that just didn't work for me...unfortunately, since it's the only item I've ever ordered or tried on from Torrid. :-( Someday soon I'll have to visit an actual store. The dress has been marked down $20 though and stands at $50. *sigh* Still not reason enough to get it.
Must not order impulsively...the sale lasts till midnight.  We'll see if I'm still diggin' the clothes as much once 12 creeps nearer. Maybe my batik dress will turn into pumpkin when the clock strikes.  Gotta think on it...
 
Last summer I fell in love with Ranna Gill's "Back View Dress" for Anthropologie.  I saw it in the catalog and thought it was colorful, funky, and unique.  Plus, it had sleeves!  Most dresses that I like are sleeveless or strapless and then I just end up wearing a cardigan over the dress, so to find a dress that I could wear as-is, sans cardigan, peaked my interest.  And so I fantasized about it for weeks: flipping open to its page in the catalog, visiting the anthro site obsessively to read the reviews and see pictures of different women wearing it to see how I might look in it...  And when I finally committed to buying it, it sold out in my size.  Of course.  But popular items on anthro sometimes get a second or third shipment, and that was exactly the case with this dress.  Nearly two months after first seeing it, it came back in my size on the site, and I ordered it immediately.

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Ranna Gill's Back View Dress for Anthropologie 2011
I didn't love it at first when it arrived.  It was shorter than most things I wear.  The cape top was really different from anything I've ever worn.  There's yellow in the print, and I never wear yellow.  But I loved that it was so interesting and fun, and I'm not one to shy away from color and prints, so I kept it.  And boy-oh-boy has it grown on me.  It's become a staple for parties, dinners out, a day out shopping, etc.  I wear it with or without a belt, with sandals, with heels, with knee-high boots and tights in cold weather, with a cardigan (even though it doesn't need one!) for a different look, with or without a cami underneath, etc. etc.  Now I wish Ranna Gill would make a similar style just in a different print.  I'd snatch it up immediately! 
Last fall I started having allergic reactions that do really lovely things to my face.  Swelling, redness, and bruising around my eyes that make me look like a mutant.  My allergist couldn't identify the source of the attacks since my allergies to horses and cats didn't seem to make sense given that I hadn't been around any horses or cats.  In my paranoia, I threw out all of my makeup and replaced it with a limited stash of items.  The attacks continued.  So I stopped wearing makeup for months with the exception of my trusty and well-loved Size Queen mascara.  The few times I did wear makeup for special occasions, I would sometimes have reactions.  And then I wondered if it wasn't the brushes.  I've always used Bare Escentuals brushes.  I have several, and they run a pretty penny apiece.  And they're made from animal hair, I believe.  So I just pitched my costly stash of brushes and bought a kit of synthetic brushes from Shany Cosmetics for $18 off of amazon.com.  I didn't have high expectations.  I expected cheapo brushes with coarse hair to arrive in plastic sheeting.  Pleasantly surprised!  They're the brushes shown in the picture above to the left.  They came in a roll-up case, their handles are made from bamboo, and I would never guess that the brushes are synthetic.  They feel as soft and the application is as smooth as with the BE brushes.  For a fraction of the cost.  And perhaps...most importantly...they won't give me an allergy attack!  So makeup is back in my life again!  Until........well, we'll see.   
 
During my recent lurking of plus size fashion blogs, I've realized just how out of touch I am with plus size fashion retailers.  I've been living in my Lane Bryant bubble, and I thought I was in on some secret finding Kiyonna.  Wrong.  There is so much more out there than I originally thought...and at affordable prices!  I guess I'll be broadening my shopping circle beyond LB and Anthropologie!  Three new companies that I've already been investigating and fantasizing about ordering from are iGiGi (which I actually did order something from....an exciting, pink, lace something that should arrive tomorrow....), ASOS Curve, and Evans.


Evans:
ASOS Curve
iGiGi
 
As I was perusing various style blogs over the weekend, I noticed that OOTD posts are really popular.  And it got me thinking about my own closet.  And how as the schoolyear winds down, makeup and dressing up and doing my hair get a bit lax, and I end up falling into the ponytail lull and start wearing my favorite, staple outfits instead of trying anything new.  So this week I wanted to be more conscious of my daily outfits and put together pieces in ways that I don't typically.  And unlike most OOTD posts, I realized I don't have to label which brands I'm wearing, because I'm pretty sure that practically everything I own and wear to work is from Lane Bryant.  I worked at an LB for three years during college before I started teaching, and the Sophie's Closet discount was just too tempting.  Every few weeks I "needed" a new outfit or two.  So over the past several years I've collected many items from LB that I continue to wear and that have held up over time.  As I post photos, I'll check to see if I'm wearing anything not from LB...here goes:

Soooooo....yeah.  Everything is from LB.  With the exception of shoes.  The brown flats and double-strap heels are from Victor.  The black pointy-toe flats are Calvin Klein and look like patent-leather jellies.  I think today's (Thursday's) outfit is my favorite simply because I rediscovered my love for this blazer.  I bought it in the fall and wore it as more of a cool-weather jacket and have avoided it since then because I seem to stigmative all blazers as stiff and constricting.  And so when I see them hanging in my closet, I too often pass them by, settling instead on a cardigan.  But I already wore one of my black cardis this week, so I decided to give the blazer a shot.  And I realized...I'm an idiot.  An idiot for avoiding this beautiful blazer for so many months.  It's a stretchy, corduroy blazer.  Super-stretchy.  Comfy.  What was I thinking?  Ah well.  Rediscovered.  Just in time for the weather to warm up and to force me to confine in to the back of my closet anyways.  *sigh*

Jazzer-Bat is also enjoying outfit picture time because it provides more opportunities for her to jump on and "love" me before I leave for work in the morn.  This morning I at least got her to sit down for a picture.  She ceased the spazzing for a few seconds, anyways...
Besides reflecting on fashion, I also wanted to start documenting some of my cooking.  Kyle and I love to cook together.  Most of our other interests are entirely our own, so cooking and pairing food and drink have become hobbies of ours.  I'm going to try to document one meal per week.  And now that the farmer's market is coming alive with greens and veggies and fruits - and not just apples, potatoes, and meat - we'll be doing a lot of grilling.  This week we bought steak; red meat is a rarity in our kitchen.  Instead we eat lots of chicken, fish, shrimp, pork and vegetables.  And a ton of mushrooms.  And cheese.  Every week.  Back to our meal: 
* Steak rubbed in salt & pepper and tossed on the grilled, cooked to medium rare
* Chunked russet potatoes tossed in olive oil and seasoning salt and roasted in the oven until crispy
* Sliced onions sauteed in olive and garlic until softened and browning; frozen peas tossed in and heated through
* Sliced tomatoes sprinkled with sea salt, dill, and fresh, local ricotta cheese

We paired dinner with a bottle of Dancing Bull Merlot.  It's under $10 a bottle I think.  I wouldn't buy it again.  It's a little peppery and while an easy-drinking red, it just didn't have much of a finish.  

After dinner, we had cream puffs that we bought from our new bakery, Glee.  I've never had the desire to try a cream puff.  They looked kind of like stale croissants.  Nothing too appetizing.  But our latest Bon Appetit had a short feature article on cream puffs and their description made me curious to at least try one.  And now that I have, I'll be having another.  Looks are deceiving.  Not stale or tough at all.  Soft and melt-away-in-your-mouth yummy and - crazy as it may seem - puffy.  Ahaha.  I have been missing out.  We had some coffee alongside with a splash each of Kahlua and Grand Marnier.  The.  End.  
 
For the past few weeks I haven't felt inspired to write...about teaching-related things, anyways.  Perhaps it's that end-of-the-schoolyear teacheritis.   Classes are winding down.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  And I want to finish off the year strong.  So I work away for a few hours after school everyday, and when I get home my brain is fried.  Can't.  Handle.  More.  School.  Stuff.  In.  The.  Evening.  

But I've really been missing writing in my blog.  When I started up the blog as an experiment - as I'd be asking my students to keep them for the duration of certain units (and hopefully beyond!), I didn't expect the experience to be so nourishing and cathartic.  But it's given me the opportunity to think on paper, to reflect, and I've missed it the past few weeks.  And over the weekend, I was inspired to tackle some different topics in my blog.  Other interests of mine often neglected because of my career obsession: fashion, make-up, food & wine, decorating, sight-seeing, shopping...  This weekend I spent too many hours browsing other young womens' blogs and seeing their stories and photos about these neglected pieces of my life made me miss them that much more.  And decide to be more "deliberate" about re-integrating them into my life.

So tonight I spent an hour browsing the web, looking for ideas to accessorize this dress that's been back-ordered for weeks and still has weeks before it will arrive.  And because it is taking so long to show up on my doorstep, I've started getting the itch to shop for another dress to tide me over in the meantime.  Because, ya know, that's healthy.  And cash-conscious.  And Kyle would be ever-so-thrilled.  So instead I explored ways to build an outfit around the dress, most of the accessories being similar to something I already own.  Just four more weeks?!?

And while I'm sure there's some online program out there that would make it easier to collage an outfit - something like polyvore.com - that would also require a decent internet connection.  Which is something that our woodsy, little lake drive just doesn't offer.  So until the interwebs can step it up beyond its slower-than-dial-up speed, assembling the images in OpenOffice (not even REAL Office) will do.