30 July 2007

The *perfect* blouse: a work in progress

Tuesday night, I found her.

Wednesday morning, I ordered her.

Thursday, all day, I waited for her.

Friday, after work, I received her.

A *perfect* short-and-sweet timetable for a *perfect* blouse, right?

Not quite.

As is obvious in the picture above and in the two below, the blouse, aesthetically speaking, is beautiful: the silk hearty, the pleating well constructed, the cap sleeves meticulously stitched, and the color, oh my god, forget about it -- gunmetal at its most gorgeous.

But despite all that good, there was the all-important issue of fit, an area in which my new Banana Republic dress shell most definitely did not excel.

Not only does the blouse run quite large - I'm almost exclusively a size "S," but as you can see here, I'm shapelessly swimming in extra fabric from the sleeves down - but it's also uncompromisingly boxy, a shape with which the slim pencil skirt, high-waisted or otherwise, is completely incompatible.

Whilst slow-baking shoreside on Saturday, I realized I have two choices, the first of which is to send the "return" label back to Banana Republic HQ, collect my $80.32, and continue on my quest to find another silk cap-sleeved pleat-neck blouse.

The second option, a much more involved option, is to use the "exchange" label, wait for my "XS" to arrive, evaluate the up-top fit, and assuming all drapes well from the shoulders to the chest, take the blouse to my trusty seamstress Alicia and have her craft a much more tailored, contoured shape.

In any other situation, with any other wardrobe component, I'd go with the former, but given how long I've been looking for an affordable version of this exact design and given that its gunmetal color exceeded my unreasonably high expectations, I decided to follow my instincts and opt for the latter.

Normally, I wouldn't include you so intimately in my do-I-keep-it-or-return-it? inner dialogue, but in light of how much interest this blouse generated last week, I thought I'd warn potential buyers to (1) order a size smaller than you normally wear and (2) be prepared to invest another $15-$25 in tailoring if you're planning to rock the slim-tuck.

Two more snaps of the *perfect* blouse fitting my frame far from perfectly:


Anonymous said...

All that trouble just so you could share with the world that you now wear a size XS?

manhattan_darling said...


Oh do be quiet.

Johanna, thanks for this review. I'm waiting until the stores carry it, but it's good to know I need to grab my usual size AND the size below before I head into the dressing room. The color is beautiful!

Anonymous said...

let the hand fetish begin...

holiday said...

Banana Republic notoriously vanity-sizes, so it's not surprising that it is too big.

Meokat said...

Agreed! I almost always go at least a size if not 2 sizes smaller in that store...they've gotten nearly as bad as the Gap.

Lady Tiara said...

thanks for the review and pics. i was considering ordering it after you posted about it last week, but the shape is really rather different than the BR picture. i'm just not sure i want to bother with tailoring. this sort of service to your readers is much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Yes, a girl who already wears a S most definitely needs to rush right out on her own blog to talk about needing an XS. Grow up, Anon.

healthybodyimage said...

You look unhealthy skinny in those pics. Look at your arms!! They are non-existent!

Angelina said...

What if you tuck it into a medium- to high-waisted pencil skirt and pair it with a nice belt? I suspect that it will drape nicely then, and won't need extra tailoring.

Not a fashion queen said...

I am unimpressed with the shirt. It looks much cheaper in the real life picture. The BR pictures makes the fabric seem much more luxurious. I would keep shopping. Just my humble opinion.

Scott said...

My girlfriend is a frequent victim of vanity sizing, and Banana is a serial offender. After having to send one too many things back only to find out the replacement didn't fit I introduced her to my tailor.

On average a blouse costs her $15 - $30 to have done.

Anonymous said...

i don't think your arms look unhealthy. and i hope this isn't too personal but how do you stay so thin? will you tell your readers honestly about your workout/eating routine?

Johanna said...


even though I'm slightly disappointed in how things turned out, I still strongly recommend you try it on. Thanks for the input!

Anonymous 2-



I had no idea! Thanks for the info.

Lady Tiara-

The shape *is* different from the picture, and yes, I feel a bit deceived, but truth is, I love it that much that I'm willing to put forth the money/effort to have it tailored.

anonymous 3-

Indeed! Thanks for the defense, babe.


Again, I think this is an issue of my crappy cell phone camera. My arms really aren't as thin as they appear in the pictures. I double promise!


The problem with a blouse as boxy as this one is that even if it's tucked into a very high-waisted skirt, you're going to have an inch or two (at least) of side fabric that won't slip into the slim-tuck. You'll have little blousy wings on the side and really unattractive wrinkles all along the edge of what should be a seamless tuck. Even a cute Randall Loeffler belt won't that!

Not a fashion queen-

I agree, in the pictures the quality of the silk looks shabby, but please, blame that on my piece-o-shit Treo, not the blouse itself. For a $68 top, the silk is actually quite luxurious.


I go to a woman named Alicia at Imperial Cleaners on ConnAve, but I'm pretty sure I did a post on this exact topic a few months ago. Check out April 12th and see if you can find some good info in there. If not, shoot me an e-mail.


"vanity sizing" -- I love it! I'd never heard that term before. Thank you for introducing me to it.

anonymous 4-

thank you for your kinder evaluation of my form.

What do I do to maintain my weight? Well, as my friends can attest, I'm a bit crazy when it comes to food and exercise, but since you asked, I feel obliged to answer.

Thing is, I'm not willing to give up my favorite foods (e.g. fries and mayo, Mike & Ikes, foie gras, peanut butter, real half/half, pints of Stella, etc.), so I limit everything else in my diet so as to accommodate these indulgences. When I order sushi, I never eat the rice; when I order a sandwich, I never eat the top bun; when I order an omelette, I always get egg whites; whenever I order pizza, I order "light cheese"; whenever I eat Skittles, I only eat the red, orange and purple ones (I don't care for the green or yellow ones). I save calories on foods I'm so-so on and put them toward something I *really* want later in the day. Routine is also huge. I eat the same 350 calorie breakfast (English muffin with a tbsp of I Can't Believe it's Not Butter and 1.5 tbsp of my Mom's homemade raspberry jam and a large cup of coffee) every single morning and a Cosi salad almost every day for lunch. I realize the salad isn't that healthy given the ice-cream scoop of Gorgonzola I can't live without, but to compensate for the cheese, I ask for half the dressing, no bread and only fruit/vegetables as toppings. Dinner is a different story, because I don't cook - like, *at all* - so I'm often picking at this or that to suffice for dinner. As for snacks, I try to eat a banana every day, a serving of peanut-free mixed nuts and a couple of sugar-free Jell-o snacks.

Remember, I'm not advocating, only answering.

And for exercise, I run 4 days a week, bike 1 day a week and rest on the other 2 days. I train for 2 marathons a year, so how far I run each day depends on where I am in my schedule. To get my "unhealthy" looking arms, I do 75 pushups a day with 25 at shoulder-width, 25 3 inches in from that and 25 with my fingers arranged in a triangle. Did I mention they were girl pushups, too? Yeah, I'm not *that* strong.

So there you are. Now I need to get home to my poochkin...


Sarah said...

I had the same problem with this shirt! It definitely needs tailoring , if you have any sort of waist. I decided to take my chances on it and look for a sale.

Scott said...

Yeah Johanna I don't get it. I have to pay $30 for a t-shirt because everyone but top shelf makers are making large T's XL now, and the M's are really barely L's and too small.

If I took them to my tailor he'd laugh. So would I actually...

Remember Al Bundy the shoe salesman when he had the lady that he said was a size ten foot and she insisted she was size 8? (Oooh, such bad English. Some day I talk pretty).

Anonymous said...

i don't think the xs will fit your shoulders, i think it's just a boxy shape and you won't like it even if it were smaller.. it just doesn't have the nipped in waist you like.

d g said...

I agree with the prev. post - it does fit, it's just the cut isn't that great (eg straight up and down, boxy.)

PS - that blouse that 'started the quest' in the other post (blue, on jessica biel maybe?) IS from club monaco. maybe came out about a year ago. i have it in black, it only cost about $88 maybe? I should've gotten two of them. have you tried there lately?

A said...

Saw a version of the blouse more like the one Jessica Biel had at Bloomingdales today. It's by Vince. Comes in gunmetal (your fave) and black. $190. Thought I'd pass the news along.