Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Merona by Target Hits the Bullseye

I'm not usually the biggest fan of clothing from Target. I often find the fit is off and the materials leave a lot to be desired. However, I still look at the clothing because sometimes there is something surprising. This season, there's a lot to like by Merona.

Take, for example, the Merona Women's Oxford Blazer in Solids or Patterns. The regular price is $34.99, but you can get it in-store this week for $26.24. Online, they currently cost $30.00. These blazers are machine washable(!!!), have a great texture, are not at all shiny, and would make excellent sweater replacements at the office. Some even have cute hidden design details! For example, the Gazelle Brown jacket has navy body lining, white-and-navy-striped sleeve lining, and the lining under the collar is bright pink! (Note also that Gazelle Brown is a bit darker in person than what is shown online. It's more of a pure taupe.) The sleeves of this jacket are also long, which is awesome for us tall women! They're shown in-store with the sleeves slightly cuffed. This is one of the few lower-end jackets I've found that have sleeves that fit me correctly, so if you usually find yourself in the "awkward sleeve boat" this may be the casual jacket for you! I bought it in the White Dot (shown) and the Gazelle Brown. I'm thinking about also ordering it in "Black" and "Green Marker." It's true-to-size.

Merona® Women's Oxford Blazer - Assorted Prints

Obviously, in the office, you'll want a nice shirt that's versatile to go with your blazer. This shirt should be able to be worn by itself when it isn't cold or be able to look nice under the blazer. Well, Merona has the shirt for that, too! And, it's only $9.00 on-sale this week both in-store and online ($12.00 regularly)! It's the Women's Boatneck Tee in Solids and Stripes. While I found the "Fresh White" color to be a bit too see-through for my taste, I though the "Black" (shown) looked lovely and I want to order it in "Rubenesque Red," which is really more burgundy in color. This shirt happens to be a bit oversized, so I recommend ordering the size you purchase t-shirts in at Talbots or Lands End. I found the shirt covered my collarbone (but just barely) and was fitted, unlike shown on the model. It also used extra material to close part of the boatneck, which almost appears like a wide-sleeved tank top is being worn underneath the shirt.

Merona® Women's Boatneck Tee - Solids

While I didn't find the Women's Jersey Knit Wrap Skirt in my store, it looks pretty awesome. I'm considering purchasing it in black. It appears to hit just below the knee. I believe this skirt would be a great complement to the blazer and shirt shown above.

Merona® Women's Jersey Knit Wrap Skirt - Assorted Colors

There are many more items at Target that you may want to consider. There's also a lot of clearance in-store right now; MLB apparel is currently 50% off at my local store and has been for over a week. I've bought my children summer games at up to 90% off, and I bought a birthday present also on a great clearance deal. If you haven't gone shopping at Target lately, you're really missing out!

Monday, August 19, 2013

NFL's Not Transparent with Its New All Clear Policy

If you're friends with me on Facebook, you know my disdain for the NFL's new "All Clear" policy. As an NFL Season Ticket holder whose ticket cost went up by about 57% this year without changing seats, the last thing I wanted was for insult to be added to my pocketbook's injury.

If you still need background, the NFL owners decided in the offseason to implement a stronger security policy. That's great. I'm all for security. I may not be the most paranoid person in the world, but I appreciate that a terrorist may like to blow up a stadium with 60,000 - 100,000 people inside. So yay for security! But the NFL didn't just increase security; they lied while doing it. I'm assuming the NFL took a cue from the NSA here and figured that lying is OK if it's in the interest of security. Well, as the NSA is learning, lying to the American people is simply not cool (just look at any recent op-ed page).

One of the NFL's new security initiatives is its new All Clear policy. This policy restricts the types of bags that are permitted into NFL stadiums. In the NFL's own words, at http://www.nfl.com/allclear, only the following types of bags are permitted into NFL stadiums during the 2013-14 NFL season.
  • Bags that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12” x 6” x 12.”
  • Small clutch bags [no larger than 4.5" x 6.5"], approximately the size of a hand, with or without a handle or strap can be taken into the stadium with one of the clear plastic bags.
  • An exception will be made for medically necessary items after proper inspection at a gate designated for this purpose.
On the surface, I'll admit this doesn't seem too bad. They're not allowing diaper bags, which is the kicker for those of us with kids. If you have kids, you know that diaper bags consist not only of diapers, but of wipes, changes of clothes for those inevitable leakages, hand sanitizer, and changing pads. Those items alone probably wouldn't fit into a clear plastic gallon-size bag (or even two). That makes the policy very inconvenient, especially when, as season ticket holders, we can go to up to 10 regular season games each year.

But if you see us go to an MLB stadium, our normal cargo consists of my Coach purse (which is not at all a clutch), our Skip Hop Dash diaper bag, a cooler bag with our meal, and a reusable shopping bag full of snacks and bottled water. All shoved into our Uppababy Vista or G-Luxe stroller. We never have issues with security lines and we always offer all of our bags to check.

Maybe if I wasn't such a horrible packer, I'd manage with just a few bags. But I always pack to much. It's probably the Jewish mother in me, but I only fly Southwest just to have that baggage allowance. And trust me, we literally use every ounce and piece of that baggage allowance. So, you can imagine my horror to think that it could take me an hour to pack us correctly for a family outing using our season tickets.

As a rational person who didn't want to rush to judgement, I decided to read the full pdf of the NFL's policy. The policy states, in pertinent part:
This public safety measure is being successfully used at other large venues. The University of Michigan, Penn State University and Michigan State University do not permit any bags, while the TD Garden in Boston only permits clutch bags.
Naturally, I wanted to see the policies of these venues for myself. Unsurprisingly, the NFL miscategorized each and every policy they listed here. Here's the rundown:

Michigan Stadium's website cites the following:
 Prohibited Items
All bags (including purses)... 
Medical exceptions will be addressed individually at the gates. Those requiring necessary items (i.e. diapers for a baby, medical prescriptions, etc.) are encouraged to carry them into the stadium in a clear plastic bag.
Admittedly, UMich's policy is more restrictive than the NFL's policy. However, the NFL stated, "The University of Michigan... [does] not permit any bags." UMich does permit clear plastic bags in limited circumstances.

Beaver Stadium's website cites the following:
Article [stet] and items that may not be brought into the stadium:
Bags, including diaper bags and purses larger than 8-1/2"x11"x11"
Last I checked, bags 8.5"x11"x11" and smaller were still bags. Thus, the NFL is incorrect when it stated, "Penn State University... [does] not permit any bags."

Spartan Stadium's website cites the following:
Prohibited Items
Bags larger than 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" x 2" (including purses, fanny packs, backpacks, and diaper bags)
Like UMich and Penn State, MSU allows bags. They may not be big bags, but they're not required to be clear and they're larger than the clutches the NFL is permitting.

Finally, the NFL cited TD Garden as only allowing "clutch bags." TD Garden's website is slightly confusing when it states:
All guests will be subject to search, at TD Garden’s discretion, of their person and/or possessions (including women’s handbags of normal size that may be allowed entry after such search).... 
Prohibited Items
...Bags or briefcases
I admittedly didn't quite know the meaning of "normal size." Fortunately, I hail from the Boston area and I have a high school friend who attends many games at the Gahhden. In her words:
They basically let in any size purse or diaper bag after they have been searched, but they don't let in backpacks and laptop bags. They've gotten much stricter since the Boston Marathon bombings about checking all bags and not allowing oversize bags in...
A woman's "purse" the size of a suitcase will get in but a guy coming from work with a laptop gets turned away.
I may not be the fashionista on accessories, but I'm pretty sure there's no such thing as a suitcase as small as a 4.5"x6.5" clutch.

Final Thoughts

I wouldn't mind the NFL's All Clear policy as much if I didn't have kids. In fact, I miss the days when I could go to an amusement park with all my money shoved into a little wrist pack and could go on roller coasters bag-free. But, I also expect that a professional sports league that got close to $1,600 in tickets alone from me this year to at least have the decency to fact-check. It's as if the NFL hired the same interns the NTSB did this summer.

So, NFL, if you're reading this blog post, please change your policy. Or at least quote the policies of other stadiums correctly. If you don't, I'm just going to assume Dan Snyder came up with this policy to ensure that never again would anyone be turned away from FedEx field for wearing paper bags over their heads or bringing signs into the stadium.

Friday, July 12, 2013

3/4-Sleeve Tops from Ann Taylor

If you follow my Facebook page, you may have seen a post from two weeks ago where I mentioned a big Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor LOFT sale prior to July 4. I bought a ton of shirts. While I found that the LOFT clothing was generally sized pretty large, and so almost nothing fit me, Ann Taylor was sized just right. And their tops were perfect for work, Shabbat, and a wedding.

First, the wedding. If I'm attending your wedding on August 6, here's a sneak peak of what I'll be wearing on top. I'll be wearing the Twist Waist 3/4 Sleeve Top from Ann Taylor. It's regularly priced at $48. I bought it for 30% off but it's currently 50% off with the code "CHIC50" through Sunday, July 14. I'll be wearing it in black, but it's also available in violet and teal. I'm pairing mine with a slate-blue floor-length satin skirt by JS Collection that I purchased a number of years ago now. When I wear it to work, I'll just pair it with a cute skirt. I'm debating purchasing it in the other two colors because my husband loved this top on me. (Note: I found it covered my collarbone in front. It is a boatneck on the sides.)

Another Ann Taylor top I loved was the Drape Neck Top. I purchased it in blue (shown) and teal and I thought both looked great for Shabbat or work. I found the drape neck didn't fall down at all, although I haven't been able to wear it for a full day yet. I purchased it when clearance items were an additional 60% off. Clearance items are currently only an additional 30% off. I purchased it for $20, but it's still a great shirt for $35.

Finally, I also highly recommend the Crew Neck 3/4 Sleeve Cardigan. I bought it in three colors: teal (shown), bright blue, and coral (no longer available). The colors are beautiful and I'm planning on getting lots of wear out of these cardigans at work and on Shabbat. I bought them for $24 each when they were an extra 60% off. They are currently $42, which seems a little high to me, but they also seem to be great quality.

All the items I bought were washable. I hate going to the dry cleaner (and the fees they charge). I bought other styles; some I liked and others I didn't. But, there's such a big array of 3/4-sleeve tops on their website that are perfect for work and shul. I haven't seen a collection this great in a very long time. And none of them are 100% cotton. That's the best thing about what they are offering, in my opinion. Everything is truly dressy.

Ann Taylor offers free shipping on $175+ purchases or $8.95 flat-rate shipping for cheaper purchases. Note that they may ship items in multiple shipments without sending shipping confirmations. LOFT offers free shipping on $125+ purchases or $8.95 flat-rate shipping.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Rashguards Under $20

Many of the options I presented in yesterday's post were not so easily affordable. Today, I would like to present a few rashguaurd options that are under $20 but will still keep you tznius and your skin protected from the sun.

Old Navy Long-Sleeved Rashguard

I have to be honest. A friend from high school inspired this post. She saw yesterday's blog post, and found a rashguard on OldNavy.com for $15 (on sale) and posted it to my Facebook wall. What's even more remarkable is that the regular price of this rashguard is only $16.94. Unfortunately, sizes extra-small and small are sold out in each of the three available colors, but if you're a size medium, large, or extra-large, you're in luck! I've owned Old Navy swimwear in the past and I've been happy with it, although I've never tried an Old Navy rashguard. The rashguard comes in Black, which would match the swim skirt I posted about yesterday perfectly. The combo of this rashguard and that swim skirt would come to $74.50 (plus tax, and the cost of swim undergarments), which really isn't so bad given that swimsuits through the tznua companies generally cost $100+ (and are still too short in the skirt for me).

Nike Rash Guard Shirt

Our next entrant is the $18.00 Nike Rash Guard Shirt at Kohls. I'm still in shock I have an $18 price on a long-sleeve shirt by Nike that's not made out of cotton. What's even better is that you my be able to get an additional 15% off with coupon codes (making the cost of this rashguard $15.30 + tax). A few to try would be "SUMMERFUN", "COOKOUT", "PICNIC", "FLOWER15FB", "MYSAVINGS", and "HOT15" to name a few. Most, if not all, of these codes expire tomorrow, so hurry to use them! I'm a big fan of Nike's exercise tops, and I would hope that knowing Nike's quality, this rashguard will not disappoint!

Body Glove Deluxe Rash Guard - Long Sleeve

Slightly more expensive, at $22.95 (but it becomes at most $18.36 with coupon codes), is the Body Glove Deluxe Rash Guard - Long Sleeve at Sierra Trading Post. The logo is really cute on the front, and it's a great deal for a Body Glove rashguard. Three colors are available - "River Blue/White" (shown), "Ice Green/White" and "White/Pink." Unfortunately, Sierra Trading Post doesn't offer any free shipping options, so unless you order more items, you'll spend about $24 just for this rashguard after a 20% discount ("ALHIKE3", expires 6/6/13) and shipping. If you order $75+, try code "EMY13" for a 25% discount (unknown expiration), or if you're spending about $125 or $200, you can receive 25% or 30% off, respectively, with code "ALMAY3" through 6/6/13. You're also out of luck if you need a size larger than medium.

All three sites (and in reality most sites) featured on my blog offer cashback when you place your order after clicking through Ebates. The current cashback for the three stores featured on this post is from 2% to 3%. We love Ebates because they send us a check every quarter. I've touted it on the blog before and I think it's worth mentioning here again. (Note: the link to Ebates is my personal referral. If you sign up through my link I get an extra $5 in my next quarterly check. If you have other friends who's referrals you'd rather use, make sure you ask for their referral link before you sign up for an account.)

Friday, May 31, 2013

Post-Memorial Day Swimwear Extravaganza!

It's swim season ladies! And you know what that means? ... Hours and hours of scouring the internet for tznua swimwear! Here are my top picks for what to wear into the water this summer!

Pareo Cover Up by Coolibar

I found it. I found a skirt made out of swimming material that wasn't from a frum site. I thought it was impossible. I really did. But here it is. The Pareo Cover Up by Coolibar. I'm just as shocked as you are to find that this exists. Unfortunately, it may not be the best for swimming in deep water because it's so narrow, but you can definitely do some wading in calm water in this one. It would also be really cute to wear to the water parks! At $59.50, it's not inexpensive and still needs undergarments (swim tights and/or bikini bottom based on your personal preference), but for an item that's as difficult to find as this is, I think it's a great deal.

Coolibar offers free shipping on orders of $150 or more. It also provides a free bucket hat on orders of at least $100. The bucket hat is cotton, so not for the water, though.

Resort Swim Shirt by Coolibar

Coolibar also offers 11 tznua rashguard options, ranging in price from $65.00 to $89.50. One interesting option is the Resort Swim Shirt for $85. At 25" long, it's 1.5" longer than a normal rashguard. It also has a more relaxed cut for those who are worried about swimwear being too tight-fitting when wet. It seems to be a great option for tznua clothing wearers who want to get wet without sacrificing modesty.

Cabana Life Rashguards

There's been a proliferation of rashguards this year available on commercial websites. This is an awesome development given that only two years ago it was nearly impossible to find rashguards for women. Now, even Tory Burch has gotten into the rashguard mix (but most of us don't want to spend $175 - $250 on a rashguard). So, if a mixture of relatively affordable and super cute are your goals for a rashguard, look no further than Cabana Life. Cabana Life's Palm Rashuard is beautiful. It's print makes me want to go to Palm Beach or Hilton Head and just sit at the beach. It just looks expensive. But, at $68, it's affordable for a rashguard that has care in its design. I really like it, and it's going to take a bit of will-power for me to not buy this right now.

And if my favorite rashguard doesn't float your boat, so to speak, Cabana Life offers 21 other tznua rashguards with prices ranging from $50 to $72. Even Oprah likes them!

Just for kicks, here's a picture of Oprah's favorite, which is $54. It's my second-favorite!

Athleta Rashguards

One retailer that has consistently sold rashguards is Athleta. To be honest, I was nervous when Gap acquired Athleta that they would get rid of certain item categories, like rashguards. To my pleasant surprise, Gap has kept Athleta's rashguards and expanded the number of styles available. Gap has also opened a number of Athleta stores across the US, so you can even try Athleta merchandise on in-person. They also offer returns on items after you wear them if you don't like them (like Nordstrom and J.C. Penney)!

Atheta's old-faithful rashguard style is the Ruched Guard. It is always available in at least a few colors and the price ranges from $49.99 (for sale colors) to $69.00 (for regularly-priced colors). It also can provide extra length by adjusting the strings on the side.

J. Crew Rash Guard

Even J. Crew's gotten in the rashguard act. They offer 10 tznua styles, so you can feel like a First Lady when you go swimming. I really like everything they offer, and with prices ranging from $47.60 to $210.00, there's a rashguard for every budget. (Note prices will rise on June 3rd to at least $68.00, so go shopping while they're on sale.) For a style under $50, I like the Polka-Dot Rash Guard in Navy.

Polka-dot rash guard

Lands End Swim Shirts and Rashguards

Last but not least for today, are the rashguards from Lands End, a store where I can find almost anything tznua, as long as it's not simchawear that I'm looking for. Lands End has 8 options, and with their current swim sale (40% - 60% off), prices range from $20.40 to $23.40 (Misses sizes), making these rashguards the most affordable of the bunch thus far. As an aside, I have ordered these before and I did not love the material for myself. But, they do get excellent reviews from other Lands End customers and Lands End  has an excellent return policy where you can return the item at any time if you don't like it.

One style to consider is the Stripe Crewneck Swim Tee Cover-Up in White/Black Stripe.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Gymboree's Little-Known Adult Clothing Line, Shade

You may not know, as Gymboree has an oft-overlooked and oft-ignored women's clothing brand called "Shade." The store sells misses and maternity sizes, with most clothing items being on the relaxed-side; think Ann Taylor Loft meets J. Jill. Nothing is too exciting, the regular prices are relatively high for what the clothing is, and Gymboree spends absolutely no time or money marketing it (unless, of course you count one Facebook post in December 2011).

Shade has 8,523 likes on its Facebook page, which isn't too shabby, but isn't great, either. (Note that Gymboree's Facebook page has over 437,000 likes.) But, many of those who like the page liked it before Gymboree purchased Shade. See, Shade started in 2004, joined Facebook in May 2010, and by the end of 2010 had closed. Gymboree bought it and reopened it as an online-only store in mid-2011. And then ignored it, as I perceive it.

Why would we be interested in Shade? Shade was founded in 2004 by two Mormon women in Utah who got tired of not being able to find modest clothes (sound familiar)? They designed a few basic shirts and their sales increased by 30% per month for awhile. Even non-Mormons liked to find shirts they didn't hang out of on top and didn't show plumbers' cracks on the bottoms! Holy cow!

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, they closed toward the end of 2010 and Gymboree bought them and brought them back with only making "minor" alterations to Shade's basic design style (read: lower necklines and some alterations to swimwear, I believe reading awhile ago). So, in a bid to get more customers by having more styles, they may have alienated the brand's most loyal customers while not making much of an attempt to get new customers to replace them.

Now here comes the Tznua Fashionista part of the whole story: The website currently looks like it's having a fire sale. Like, the clothing is dirt cheap. With free shipping and free returns. I don't know what this means for Shade's future prospects; Gymboree hasn't said they're closing the site or anything like that publicly. But, based on my infrequent visits to the site, it seems to be treated like the step-child of an indifferent step-parent.

Because of the irresistible prices I just placed my first order. Here's what I bought for a total of $27.32, including tax. (Still not quite sure where that tax is doing there.) There are more tznua clothing options on the site that I didn't buy because I didn't love them for me.

Note: Please pardon these less-than-crisp images. That's how they are on Shade's site, no joke. When I say the site doesn't get the attention it deserves, I'm not kidding. When you're on there, read the descriptions and see what doesn't make sense. I just have to shake my head.

The Drawstring Maxi Skirt

At $11.99, this item is a steal. It only comes in "Black." It says it's shiny satin, but it has a drawstring, so I'm not sure if I'm supposed to wear it for nicer occasions or if it's casual. But you know what? I don't care. It was $12 and it's a 40"-long skirt!

The Stripe Boatneck Slub Tee

This pretty little shirt cost the budget-busting amount of $5.99. I would have preferred to try it in a small, but it was sold out, so I settled for the extra-small. It says "free returns" anyway, right? (Note to my friends reading this: if it doesn't fit, feel free to try it on if you want to buy it off me before I return it.) I bought it in the "White/Fawn Stripe" color. The "White/Peach Stripe" color was already sold out when I found it.

The Slub Polo Shirt

The last item I purchased was this polo shirt for $7.79. It has buttons all the way to the collar, so it can be closed to the neck for super tznius-ability. Or, you can live dangerously and leave a few buttons unbuttoned. But if you go this route, here's a warning: it may lead to mixed dancing (the horror!), and we all know what that leads to... yeah, less reading of my blog. So, keep needing to search for those super-tznius clothing items we all love to hate to go shopping for! Anyway, I bought it in "Whisper Blue" because "White" was sold out

One final note: I have a newish general policy of not posting sale clothing and clothing in limited sizes on my blog. These items generally get short snippets on Tznua Fashionista's Facebook page instead. This warranted a blog post because of the nature of the discounts and how little-known the brand is.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Denim Maxi Skirts

It's always hard to find denim maxi skirts, and it's even harder to find denim maxi skirts that are at least 38" in  length. But I found two different denim maxi skirts at Zappos while browsing the internet this evening, and I'd love to share them with you.

Before I introduce the skirts, I have to be honest that I have no experience with either brand I'm featuring. The good news, however, is that Zappos provides free 1-day shipping and free returns. So, if you buy a skirt and you don't like it, you can return it. Or, you can buy multiple sizes and keep what fits you best.

The first skirt is the $79.50 Blank NYC "The Maxi Skirt" in Crank Shaft. This skirt is 40" long and has a small slit in the back. The color "Crank Shaft" seems to be a medium blue, and perhaps too saturated for a pure denim look. If you search the internet, you may find some other sites selling this skirt in white, but it is only available in very limited sizes for very small-waisted people. It's also 98% cotton and 2% spandex, so it won't look exactly like a pair of 100% cotton jeans. Note, that in my experience with "denim" skirts, 98% is a pretty high cotton percentage. I have only owned one denim maxi skirt that was 100% denim, it was from the Gap, and I put more holes into that thing before I threw it out than I care to admit. There was nothing wrong with the quality of the Gap skirt. I just wore the thing to death because it was actual denim.

I still think the skirt looks pretty nice. I'm debating whether to buy one myself, and if I do buy it, what size to get. If you have any experience with the "Blank NYC" brand's sizing, please feel free to leave a comment regarding it! Here's a picture of the skirt, so you, too, can debate whether you want to buy this skirt.

The second skirt is the $67.99 Blue Belle A Line Skirt by Roper in Blue. It's a darker denim color and is also supposedly light-weight. Zappos states that the skirt is 36" long and is made of 97% cotton and 3% spandex. Roper states that the skirt is 38" long and is made of 98% cotton and 2% spandex. I contacted Zappos' customer service to see which site is correct, but their best recommendation was to order the skirt and measure for myself. If you already own this skirt and know it's material content and length, please feel free to share in the comments section.

Despite not knowing the skirt's specs, I really like that this skirt doesn't have a slit, yet still looks like it's easy to walk in. That's very important given that there are so many skirts that make walking nearly impossible. Here's a picture of the skirt, which helps to show how much material the skirt has on the bottom.

Basically, both skirts seem like good options for casual days. Both skirts have a mature look (e.g. you won't be mistaken for a teeny bopper while wearing one) and look like they're decent values. Given that it's currently about 1:15 AM, I'm not making a decision tonight about whether I will purchase one of these skirts, but I'll definitely give it a lot of thought tomorrow.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tznua School Uniform Skirt

Lands End has a pleated school uniform skirt available for $40 for girls and $45 for women. It comes in black and classic navy and can be bought in every size from a little girls' size 4 through a women's size 16. (It unfortunately does not come in plus sizes.) According to Lands End it falls to mid-calf, but no specific length is provided on the website. Best of all, it's machine-washable and it supposedly stays pleated after washing!

As I have noted previously on this blog, I'm a big fan of Lands End clothing. While this skirt may be slightly pricey for a school uniform skirt, Lands End often has sales (for example, through the end of today, you can receive 25% off your purchase, but sales often provide 30% or even 40% off), and the quality is excellent. If something ever happens to your skirt, you can exchange it with Lands End for a similar skirt in the same size. So, if you have multiple daughters, you'll only have to pay for the skirt once to make it last through all of them (assuming Lands End continues to produce this skirt).

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Theory on Women's Wages

We've all heard that women earn less than men. On average, women earn $0.80 for every $1.00 that men earn. A quick search on the internet yields articles that discuss obvious theories: women don't negotiate salaries and wages as well as men, women take time off for motherhood, gender bias, and women often go into lower paying industries after college.

As BusinessWeek put it, a recent study by the American Association of University Women found the following:
"One year out of college, female teachers earn 89 percent of what male teachers earn. In sales jobs, women earn 77 percent of what male peers earn. Women who major in business earn, on average, just over $38,000 the first year after graduation, while men earn just over $45,000."
I don't believe that entry-level employees have much negotiating room when it comes to starting salary, and I certainly don't believe time off for motherhood plays a role so close to graduation. And, industry differences were controlled in the study I quoted above. So why is there still such a big difference in salary between men and women?

I want to propose a completely different theory of why women earn less than men: the interview suit. The better and more put together one looks at an interview, the more desirable that candidate is to the employer. The more the employer finds the candidate desirable, the more likely that employer believes other potential employers will believe that other employers will find the candidate desirable. Thus, the employer will offer the candidate more money in order to entice the candidate to work for him/her over another employer. In other words, the better you dress, the more money you will make. This holds true throughout a career. And what looks best is a well-fitting, 100% wool suit with a great dress shirt, one that is generally white, 100% cotton, collared, and button-down. In other words, the women's clothing equivalent of what men wear to interviews.

Unfortunately, it appears to me that many women tell other women they do not need to wear a suit to an interview. Let me make this clear, ladies. YOU MUST WEAR A SUIT TO YOUR INTERVIEWS. OK, I'm pretty sure I made that clear. And please stick to solid black, navy, or dark gray (charcoal). Others colors, prints, and patterns aren't professional enough for a first-time meeting.

Now, most of you are probably thinking that you DO wear suits on job interviews and most women wear suits. But I ask you, what kind of suit are you wearing? What are you wearing as a shirt or a shell? And did you get it tailored to fit you?

I bet if you look at the label on your suits, most of you have suits made of materials other than wool. And if you have a suit with wool in it, most likely the material is no more than 50% wool. If your interview suit is made of 100% wool, congratulations. You either looked really hard to buy a 100% wool suit or you stumbled into the right store at the right time.

And what shirt do you wear with that suit? Is it a button-down collared shirt? If so, is it 100% cotton? If so, is it so sheer it requires a shell that then can be seen through your shirt while you're wearing your suit? If you managed to find a 100% cotton button-down collared shirt that is not sheer, congratulations. You either looked really hard to find it or stumbled into the right store at the right time which was most likely not the same store where you bought the suit. And if it's white, too, you really hit the dress shirt jackpot.

Once you purchased the suit and obtained the shirt, did you get them tailored to fit you? Most women don't get any of their clothing tailored, so it's also likely that the vast majority of women don't get their suits tailored to them prior to a job interview. Men also know to get all their suits tailored to fit their bodies to a T. Women should do the same.

So now let's compare what an average woman would wear to a job interview and its male clothing equivalent.
  1. A woman wears a nice cardigan or shirt with a skirt. A man wears a dress shirt and pre-hemmed dress pants, maybe a tie, but no jacket.
  2. A woman wears a polyester or poly-blend suit with a shirt not made of 100% cotton. A man wears a polyester suit with a 50/50 blend dress shirt and a cheap tie.
  3. A woman wears a 100% wool suit with a 100% cotton collared button-down shirt and an appropriate necklace that ends about 2.5" - 3" below the collarbone. A man wears a 100% wool suit, a 100% cotton shirt, and a good-quality silk tie.
I ask you ladies: can the man get away with wearing anything less than the third option to an interview? No? Well, then why do women wear anything less than the third option, too?

Why? Because it's nearly impossible to find 100% wool suits for women and equally hard to find 100% cotton button-down collared shirts.

I spent several hours last Thursday night searching online for a proper interview suit for a friend. My online search provided my fodder for Sunday's blog post, but note that I recommended the featured suit for travel. I did not recommend it for interviews. (Based on my experience with the Jones New York Collection brand, I believe the white shirt featured in the post should be appropriate for interviews, however.)

The search did lead me to recommend my friend and I drive an hour to a Pendleton store. Last night I called the store to make sure they had the items we were most interested in seeing. We went this morning, and she decided to purchase their Seasonless Wool (Two-Button) Suit Jacket and 25" Seasonless Wool Madison Skirt in Charcoal Mix for her interview. The pieces of the suit are below:

Seasonless Wool Suit Jacket

Seasonless Wool Madison Skirt

But... wait! You're thinking that I broke the blog's rules about not posting untznua skirts. You're right, I did. My friend is lucky in that she wasn't requiring her skirt to be at least 27" long with no slits. If she did, she wouldn't have found an appropriate interview suit without having it custom-made. And it's not surprising given that I have never found an appropriate interview suit with a tznua skirt off-the-rack at any price point.

For those of you who are not as vertically blessed as I am, you could consider Pendleton's 26" long Seasonless Wool Lana skirt, which looks like a pencil skirt from the front (similar to the Madison skirt in the picture above), but is an inch longer and has two kick pleats in the back with no slits. This will probably be the only time I'll post something on my blog that I would not be able to wear without pulling  my skirt every time I sit, but I think this issue is serious enough to break my own rules by an inch. Pendleton's website today introduced the 30" Seasonless Wool Slim Skirt that has a long slit in the front. While we did not see this skirt in-store today, I would think that, in theory, one could get the skirt hemmed and use the leftover material to fill in the slit. Pendleton also makes a Seasonless Wool One-Button Blazer that coordinates with these skirts as well. If any of these skirts work for you, I strongly recommend any combination of this suit. And their full Seasonless Wool collection can be found here.

After our fruitful trip to Pendleton, we were feeling pretty good, so we decided to look for a white 100% cotton collared button-down dress shirt at the nearby mall. We didn't really think anything of Pendleton not having an appropriate shirt in their store. We went to seven stores: White House/Black Market, Banana Republic, Talbot's, J. Crew, Ann Taylor, Nordstrom, and Nordstrom Rack. None of these stores sold a white 100% cotton collared button-down dress shirt, and I honestly don't think any had 100% cotton button-down dress shirts in any color. And, most of the options they did have were completely see-through.

So then I hit the internet after I got home. I discovered that the two most reliable retailers for white 100% cotton collared button-down dress shirts are Lands End and L.L.Bean. Because Lands End merchandise is available closer to our neighborhood, I decided to have her try the Lands End shirt first. The first location I called did not have her size, but the second did. I put it on hold under her name, she drove to the store (20 minutes each way) and told me the shirt was perfect. (While it may have been possible to locate the JNY Collection shirt in a store, it would have taken a lot of calling around that I didn't necessarily desire to do.)

To recap, it took over 9 hours of driving, shopping, and researching to find a women's suit and dress shirt that were appropriate for a job interview. We did not shop for shoes, makeup, accessories, or undergarments.

Had the Pendleton suit not worked, the only other option I could find for her was J. Crew's 1035 Jacket in Super 120s and 27" Telegraph Pencil Skirt in Super 120s (which is only available online and has a slit), both shown below.

1035 jacket in Super 120s

Telegraph pencil skirt in Super 120s

I hate to say it, but I think we were lucky to find her an appropriate outfit in only 9 hours' time. And if she required that the skirt be 100% tznua, I would have needed to recommend purchasing a custom-made suit at a big expense.

A man can walk into the men's department of almost any retailer that sells dress clothes and be guaranteed to find suits that are 100% wool, dress shirts that are 100% cotton, and a tie selection that is at least serviceable. A woman, on the other hand, has to settle for whatever suit and shirt she is lucky enough to find after hours of searching.

The bottom line is that we're all told to "dress for success." It's intuitive that the better dressed you are at an interview, the more likely you are to obtain your desired position and be paid top dollar. So why is it that women's suiting lets us down so much? Why don't designers give women the same clothing advantage they give to men? And if there's a chance that clothing affects starting salary, then why isn't this publicized more to women and why doesn't anyone do anything about it?

If you want to join in a discussion on this topic, please feel free to leave comments below or on Tznua Fashionista's Facebook page.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Michelle Obama's Inauguration Jacket

No matter where you stand politically, there's no question Michelle Obama has style. Today's morning Inaugural events have been no exception. She wore a beautiful jacket by Thom Browne with a J. Crew belt.

According to the Huffington Post, the jacket was custom-made of silk jacquard necktie fabric. Looking at it, you wonder if it's a dress or a jacket. Taking off this jacket, which is perfectly tznua on its own, to reveal a gorgeous outfit would make such a statement. I think it's absolutely stunning and I hope Thom Browne mass produces it soon. 

I wasn't able to find the belt on J. Crew's website, although it's very similar to the $250 Medallion Jeweled Sash.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Suit for Business Travel

If your job requires you to travel, you need a suit that will travel well with you. But where do you find a quality suit that's tznua and can travel? Jones New York has you covered. JNY makes washable wool/poly blend suits. In other words, suits you can throw into the washing machine and the dryer. And if they get wrinkled in your suitcase, you can always use the iron hiding in your hotel room's closet. Next time that delicious plate of fettuccine alfredo lands on your lap at dinner, you can still wear your suit to that early morning meeting the next day.

Making these suits even sweeter this weekend, Jones New York's website is offering a "Buy More, Save More" promotion through MLK Day. Save 20% on your purchase of two items, 30% on your purchase of three items, or 40% off your purchase of four or more items. New customers can get an additional $20 off a $100 purchase with code "JNYEM9". Accessing the JNY website through Ebates will give you 2.5% cash back. Standard shipping is free with a $99 minimum purchase.

Here's my four-item shopping bag for professional business travel.

My first pick is the $229.00 Washable Wool Tuxedo Jacket in black. It's sleek in a Mad Men-inspired way. I love the single button closure and the notched collar.

My second pick is the $119.00 Washable Wool Skirt in black. It's a classic a-line skirt in a material that coordinates with the jacket. It can be worn with almost anything to almost anywhere. It's timeless, sophisticated, and a great length at 29". If you prefer it to be shorter, you can bring it to your local seamstress or tailor to make it the perfect length for you!

My third pick is the $64.00 No-Iron Easy Care Boyfriend Shirt in white. As the name says, it never requires ironing and is fully machine washable and dry-able. It's 100% cotton, which is the fabric I prefer for professional button-down work shirts. And, it buttons all the way to the collar. If white's not your style, this shirt also comes in seven other colors.  It's a can't-miss for the working woman.

My fourth pick is the Fitted Diamond Button Front Shirt in Raspberry & White, on sale for $49.00. It's washable, although it may require some ironing once you reach your destination. It's an interesting print and a nice change of pace from the basic white shirt. It comes in four other colors if raspberry isn't your thing.

With the 40% discount, the total cost for all four pieces is $276.60. The coupon code brings the cost down to $256.60. In other words, for less than the regular price of the suit alone, you can purchase the suit and two shirts this weekend. With the savings you can even splurge on accessories!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

In Honor of Hockey Season

We're all big sports fans in my family. As soon as Shabbat was over, I turned on my computer to purchase Spring Training tickets for our team whose tickets went on sale this morning. Even our 2-year-old is sports obsessed.

In honor of the first night of hockey season and our 2-year-old's excitement for hockey on TV, today's post features the tznua clothing available from the National Hockey League's online shop. For those who don't know, the NHL had a lock-out for the second time in eight years because the owners and players couldn't agree on a new collective bargaining agreement. The owners and players finally came to an agreement about two weeks ago. Practices resumed soon afterward and the regular season began today. Instead of the usual 82-game regular season, hockey will have a 48-game season. And, games will be played in relatively quick succession for hockey. Because the games will be played on less rest, there will be no inter-conference games until the Stanley Cup Finals.

So, if you're a hockey fan, this is for you. While it would have been nice if the NHL ran a promotion on clothing as a nice gesture to their fans, they didn't. So, the items featured in this post have the inflated prices we've come to expect from sports teams. Some individual teams have or are running promotions at their retail stores and/or inside their stadiums. The Pittsburgh Penguins probably ran the best promotion by offering fans free food at their first four home games and 50% off team merchandise. Descriptions of promotions for a few other teams can be found on the NHL's site.

I will post pictures and links to the tznua Washington Capitals clothing because my husband's favorite team is the Capitals. If you want to see the clothing available for other teams, you can choose to shop by a different team on the NHL's site. Clothing styles generally are the same for every team, but the logos and colors may be different.

First, here's a cute 3/4-sleeve raglan tee that's $42.99. It should wash easily. Majestic Athletic clothing is generally true-to-size.

Majestic Threads Washington Capitals Ladies 3/4 Triblend Raglan T-Shirt - Shop.NHL.com

Second, here's a more affordable long-sleeve shirt by Lee Sport that's $21.99. It's 100% cotton, so it should be comfortable. I would presume this shirt follows Lee's size chart.

Majestic Washington Capitals Women's Unbreakable Spirit Long Sleeve T-Shirt - Shop.NHL.com

Third, here's a hooded tee by Old Time Hockey that's $44.99. The hood is great for those times you just want to momentarily go outside or run a quick errand without needing to take the time to do more than putting your hair in a ponytail to cover it. I cannot comment on how clothing from this company runs, but it's based in my home state, so it must be good.

Old Time Hockey Washington Capitals Women's Blasted Triblend Hooded Long Sleeve T-Shirt - Shop.NHL.com

Finally, since hockey jerseys are long-sleeve, I'm including them here. Women's jerseys are $99.99 for a replica jersey with no name or number on the back, $124.99 for a ready-made replica jersey with a superstar's name and number on the back, or $149.99 for a customized replica jersey. Please note that you may need something underneath to cover a slither of collarbone depending on how the jersey fits you.

Reebok Washington Capitals Alex Ovechkin Women's Premier Home Jersey - Shop.NHL.com

Let's hope this is an exciting hockey season and that it was worth all the wait! And may this not happen again when the new CBA expires. In other words, hockey, learn to work out your differences without resorting to lock-outs, strikes, and other forms of work stoppages! You'll sell more clothes if you do.  :)

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Tznua as Couture? Project Runway All Stars Think So

As I've mentioned on the blog before, I'm a big fan of Project Runway. There were many times this All Star Season 2 when a dress or outfit looked to be tznius for a moment (read: it had sleeves) but then either the fabric was sheer, there were cut-outs, or there was no back. Ho hum. Such is life.

But then Episode 11 brought us Couture Week. And, apparently, "couture" means dresses with lots of material, sleeves, and long skirts. Or, at least it did to Emilio and Anthony Ryan.

While I loved Anthony Ryan's dress, his sheer fabric and lack of lining made it, unfortunately, un-tznius.

However, Emilio's tznius dress was a style that many of us who have attended frum weddings are used to seeing, albeit in a fabric that cost €175 per meter. (Since it was a couture challenge, the contestants each had a €3,000 budget for materials. I'm not even going to attempt to estimate what this dress would cost to get custom-made in this fabric by your local seamstress.) But, even though I didn't swoon over his dress, it was pretty and he came in second place in the challenge to Anthony Ryan. Plus, the judges loved it, including Isaac Mizrahi. (You can watch the critique of Emilio's dress from the 24:29 - 25:56 mark of Episode 11.) And, the back of the skirt of Emilio's dress is similar to the back of the skirt of my wedding dress.

Here are the front and back pictures of Emilio's dress:

P.S. Sorry for the long break between posts. The whole pregnancy/having-a-baby/haven't-done-a-whole-lot-of-clothing-shopping-for-myself thing got in the way.