Carmen: Karina Dress Review

July 27th, 2011 § 6 comments §

L.'s Karina Dress Review


  • Dress: c/o Karina
  • Shoes: Tahari via DSW

Like A., I was asked to review one of the dresses generously offered to us by the Brooklyn based designer Karina Cousineau from her eponymous dress line, Karina. I jumped at the chance after looking through their selection of high quality, easy-to-maintain, and totally flattering dresses for women of all ages, shapes, and sizes. Something that I thought was really cool about this company is that these dresses fit such a variety of women AND they make small issues of each style in each color or print so that you really feel like you have a unique piece.

L.'s Karina Dress Review - closeup

Once we said we’d like to review something, we each answered the following questions and they chose the dress for us:

    1. What is your body type? — Petite (5’3″), curvy (??)
    2. What are your preferred dress styles? — Carmen, Megan, or Audrey
    3. What are your general preferences for color and/or pattern? — Blues, greens, and purples are my favorite colors, and I prefer geometric patterns.

So from that info they decided to send me their Carmen dress in a plum color with a coral, black, cream, and white print. They do say not to get too attached to a certain color or print since they use limited fabrics and change often!

L.'s Karina Dress Review - neckline

What attracted me especially to the Carmen was the rounded neckline, cap sleeves, and high waistband, but what kept me twirling around for several minutes was the fantastically fluttery skirt that comes to a perfect knee length. I’m not sure how to explain it, but I felt very good in this dress – comfortable, stylish, a little sexy (I love the neckline!), and totally at ease because it’s not clingy or short (which is incredibly hard to find these days!). I seriously wish I could get this in several colors, but like one commenter noted, I’ll have to save up since these are at the higher end of my price range.

L.'s Karina Dress Review - swish L.'s Karina Dress Review - swish

I second A. in her apprehension about the fabric at first, but the “imported microfiber blend with 4-way stretch” is very flattering and falls nicely. I wore a slip under my dress, but the fabric isn’t see-through, I just like slips. I’d say that this dress is a very good investment for the long-term, and I would definitely consider getting one of the other styles I liked as well, but probably in a solid color so that I could wear it more often. You can find Karina dresses online, on Facebook, and in boutiques around the country.

Happy twirling!

Category: Academichic Product Review, Dresses for Day

Karina Dresses

July 25th, 2011 § 10 comments §

Karina Dress Review


  • Dress – c/o Karina
  • Cami – Banana Republic
  • Shoes – Banana Republic
  • Hat – Banana Republic


One of the many things I will miss about blogging is getting to know some really great independent retailers including small online boutiques and etsy sellers like those featured in our Boutique Consortium.  If we weren’t closing up shop, Karina would certainly be a shop we would be interested in adding to our consortium.   Karina generously sent me this “Rita” dress to review. I love the color and can already image so many ways to wear it.  For its first outing, I paired it with heels and my straw hat for lunch with a friend.

Karina Dress Review

Before I tell you how I feel about this particular Karina dress, let me tell you a bit about the company.  Karina dresses are all made of heavy, stretchy microfiber that drapes beautifully, never wrinkles, and washes easily. Each dress is made in Brooklyn in a small batch - which means prints and colors come and go, so if you see one you like, don’t follow my usual shopping pattern!

My favorite part about Karina is their motto:

dresses for “every body” … celebrating women from 18 to 80 … easy wear, easy care … wear the love”

Karina is committed to making all woman look & feel  great, no matter what shape or size . They offer many different styles made for a variety of body types and lifestyles and many of the dresses are offered in sizes 0 through 20. I also love that they use women of all ages, shapes, and sizes to model their dresses!

Karina Dress Review

So, now about my dress – the “Rita.”  I can already tell this cap sleeved wrap dress is going to be very versatile.  I love the cut and the color and am quite happy with the fit. It’s a true wrap dress but has enough overlap to keep my legs covered.  The waist hits at the perfect place – often not the case for me with wrap dresses – and I think the tie could easily be tucked under a belt as a way of changing up the look.

I have to admit, I was surprised at first by the material, but am now a huge fan.  It really doesn’t wrinkle, making it perfect for traveling (both wearing on the plane and shoving in a bag) and super convenient if you just don’t have time to iron in the morning!  Also, the drape on it is much more flattering than jersey – I’m not even wearing spanx!  I also think the material could be dressed up more than jersey but can just as easily be worn with flats for an active day of errands.

If you want to know more about the dresses you can also check Karina out on Facebook!


Karina Dress Review

Category: Academichic Product Review, Dresses for Day, Dresses for Evening, Reaching New Heights
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22 July 2011 – A Little Bit Light-Hearted

July 22nd, 2011 § 6 comments §

Stripes Again


  • Dress: Motherhood Maternity
  • Yellow pattern flats: Target, thrifted new
  • Necklace: consignment store
  • Fence chalkboard art: courtesy of little e. and his friends

End Notes:

I started teaching a summer class this week. At the beginning of the week there was a question as to whether or not the class could continue due to enrollment and my wardrobe choices reflected that uncertainty and the desire to establish myself as an instructor who could be taken seriously. That meant business casual separates: gray trousers, a gray skirt, my cropped navy blazer. (Of course, I didn’t stop wearing bright shoes. Pink, blue, and orange pumps all made appearances). But today, now that the class is assuredly moving forward and I’ve established a good rapport with my students, I got the itch to wear something a little more out of the box.

Whenever in wardrobe doubt, I call in reinforcements. That meant texting A. this morning: “Is it too early in the semester to wear my striped dress?”

“Nope,” she replied.

(Of course, A. is totally my stripe-enabler. I don’t know when she would tell me that stripes, in some form, would be inappropriate.)

So today is a wonky belly day, a little light-hearted reminder to have a bit of a fun at the end of an admittedly stressful week. I can’t look down without smiling.

Stripes Again


Category: Dresses for Day, Maternity Style, Teaching Outfits
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A. on Shopping

July 21st, 2011 § 13 comments §

Chambry Dress


  • Dress – Lands End Canvas
  • Belt – from L.
  • Bag – Old Navy
  • Headband – J Crew
  • Sandals – H & M
  • Earrings – Banana Republic


Since this is not my last post, I’ll hold off on my goodbyes.  I would like to start addressing some of the (thought provoking, as to be expected) questions you all raised.  First, some thoughts on shopping.  This dress is the only new thing I have purchased all summer. I spent $10 at Goodwill in May and I can’t remember the last time I purchased something before that. I have to admit that this isn’t typical for me. Being a grad student, I’m always on a budget, but my expected summer funding fell through so now I am on an extra tight – counting my iced coffees kind – of budget.

So, how did I come to purchase this dress for almost $40? Well, I got the Lands End canvas catalog in the mail back in April and loved this chambray dress.  I showed it to my mom, my sister, friends, anyone who would look at it.  I thought about it.  I pulled it up online and looked at it there.  I imagined the various situations for which I could wear.  I looked at it online some more.  It went on sale.  I thought about it some more.  I got a coupon in the mail. I got dressed several mornings and thought: “that dress would be perfect for today.”  I told A2 I was thinking about ordering the dress online.  I thought about it some more.  Finally, three months after seeing the dress in the catalog, I broke down and bought it.  And, don’t think I didn’t consider sending it back.  So, yes this in an extreme version of my shopping neuroses, but not totally outside my norm.  I tend to agonize over any purchase over $20 and am notorious for my buyers remorse which has me bring a third of what I purchase back to the store.  Sorry, no great shopping strategies to share!  But, don’t you feel like you know me a bit better now?

So what are your shopping neuroses?


On another note, I got my haircut again.  A bit shorter this time.  And, I’m wearing headbands again!  Funny story: Years after S. and I had met and become close friends and well into this blog project, we were reminiscing about how we met and what drew us to each other.  We both wore Dansko’s.  I was a training for my second marathon and she had just started loving running.  She was super out-going and I was trying my best to survive in a class for German scholars.  And, apparently, she liked that I could pull off a headband!  Back then my hair was fairly short and I wore headbands on a fairly regular basis.  When S. told me this – probably just 6 month ago or so, I loved her that much more!  I’m going to miss sharing this special project with these incredible women.  Oops, I guess I’m getting all sad and nostalgic too.

Chambry Dress

Category: Dresses for Day, It's in the Bag, Weekend Wear
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20 July 2011 – Changes

July 20th, 2011 § 6 comments §

Skirt as Skirt Option 1 Skirt as Skirt Option 1


  • Tank: Banana Republic
  • Skirt: Gap Outlet
  • Scarf: Filene’s Basement
  • Shoes: Tahari via
  • Necklace: Accessorize

Sources (below):

  • Tank: Splendid via Filene’s Basement
  • Dress: Hourglass via Marshall’s
  • Shoes: Gap Outlet
  • Necklace: made by me

By now most of you probably have read that the chics of Academichic are closing up shop at the end of this month. While I’m certainly sad to see this project end, I’d like to echo S.’s words today and THANK YOU all for your comments (both kind and critical) as these have pushed me to think far beyond my wardrobe into more theoretical questions of femininity, feminism, gender, ethnicity, economics, politics, and culture. Like S. said, we’ll each have longer wrap-up posts to get into our favorite discussions and wardrobe decisions, so I’ll hold off on waxing poetic for this post!

I thought it was appropriate that one of my last posts is very reminiscent of my first post – nothing beats a swirly skirt and light tank in the summer heat! However, one thing that makes a swirly jersey skirt even better is one that can be both a skirt AND a dress. I nabbed this at the Gap Outlet clearance section in June and have been experimenting with it ever since. Around the same time I picked up the blue dress in the images below and have been remixing that into a skirt. I was totally inspired by A.’s recent post about turning a strapless summer dress into a shirtdress, and you guys know how much I love “convertible season.” So here are two ideas that I’ve come up with so far for this skirt as a dress: trying a scarf/sash around the top OR using a scarf to give a little more coverage over the shoulders.

Skirt as Dress Option 2 Skirt as Dress Option 2 Skirt as Dress Option 3 Skirt as Dress Option 3

For the blue strapless dress I wore it a few times alone, but one day didn’t feel like being so bare up top and opted for a tank underneath. By pulling the dress (now a skirt) up right below my chest I made a kind of empire waisted dress that fell just below my knee. While I’m not sure that the length is very flattering on me, I know that mid-length skirts are “in” and it is very comfy this way.

Dress as Dress Dress as Dress Dress as Skirt Option 1 Dress as Skirt Option 1

Finally, I wanted to show off one of my favorite pieces of jewelry, which dresses up any outfit. My sister brought these small “evil eyes” back to me from Turkey and I love how they look all together (pun intended). I also strung one on the back so I have an “eye in the back of my head” so to speak.

Evil Eyes

What are your best convertible pieces? How do you style a dress as skirt or vice versa?

Category: Beltless, Dresses for Day, Dresses for Evening, Layers Upon Layers, Our Best Flatware, Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue
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20 July 2011 – Thank you!

July 20th, 2011 § 10 comments §

20 July 2011


Dress – thrifted
Sandals – Target
Earrings – gift from A.


Dear readers,

I hadn’t intended to post again as I’m less than a week before my due date and my mind’s on a million other things. I had my “Top Ten” post all ready for the other Chics to publish for me in case I wasn’t around to do it myself at the end of this month and, with that, I thought I had said my goodbyes.

But reading your comments has made me sad and unwilling to leave it quite at that. (Blame it on the pregnancy hormones, but you guys got me all choked up!) So I thought I’d pop back in just to say another resounding THANK YOU to all of you who have been reading, commenting on, recommending, questioning, challenging, and supporting our site.

Thank you

In yesterday’s comments, one reader asked how much we attributed our style choices to this blog and how we anticipate our style changing in the absence of posting. I’m not sure how to answer that question because I’m sure that my style has been influenced by participating in this online ‘style blogging’ community, but more so than acquiring an eye for trends, participating in this community has very much affected my approach to many theoretical concepts…

How do I use clothing to present myself as an academic, to perform gender, to display/downplay my ethnicity, to support consumer culture, to NOT support consumer culture, and to make more self-conscious choices every time I open my wallet or my closet door.

It’s one thing when you ponder these things on your own and it’s something else entirely to put your thoughts into words for thousands of people to read in one day. It makes you extremely aware of the things you say (and think) and forces you to take a more critical eye to your own writing and thinking. As much as graduate school has challenged me in this way, I can honestly say that our readers have done so just as much. So thank you for such thought-provoking conversations and critical inquiries that have definitely altered and shaped my thinking and writing over the past two and a half years.

As already mentioned in yesterday’s post, I move into a new stage of my life that sees me mothering a girl. Our conversations here on gender roles, gendering, and feminism will undoubtedly influence how I raise her and the values I will seek to instill in her. Similarly, these regular conversations with you, our readers, and with my co-bloggers will leave a lasting mark on how I think about and put into words my thoughts on two gender focused projects I will be tackling this coming year; my dissertation and another writing project in the works.

20 July 2011 20 July 2011

So I guess what I am trying to say is that more than the visual appreciation for aesthetics and style that has been born of this project, I take with me a deeper appreciation for considering, critiquing, and questioning topics of gender and society in relation to the media and the fashion world at hand. If you’re a new-comer to our site, I urge you to take a look at those posts (housed in our Theoretical Archives) in particular and to not skip the comments, which add a richer and more complex take on each point we raised as well.

And for those of you who asked, yes, I will continue to be around on Simply Bike. The focus of that blog is different from this one but I always welcome your comments and visits and appreciate any drop-ins from those so inclined. S.

Farewell for now...

Category: Beltless, Dresses for Day, Maternity Style, Our Best Flatware, Pregnancy in Academia
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Weekend Workshop: My Best Friend’s Wedding

July 16th, 2011 § 17 comments §

What Do You Wear to a Wedding?

Ask this question and you’ll get about a hundred different answers: Don’t wear black, Don’t wear white, Don’t show too much skin, Don’t wear a pattern, Don’t wear something too tight, Don’t wear bright colors, AND no matter what, Don’t show up the bride!

Well, did any of those answers help you? With the exception of “don’t wear something too tight”, which is always a good piece of advice, none of those answers helped me either. Sometimes being a bridesmaid isn’t that bad – at least your dress is picked out for you in advance – even if it is pink, poofy, sparkly, or any other number of things, at least you don’t have to ask yourself, “What, oh what, will I wear to this wedding?!” In an effort to give just a small bit of guidance, we at Academichic wanted to provide you with a few ideas based on the many weddings we’ve attended (or hosted in the case of A. and S.).


Spring and Summer Weddings

A few summers ago we answered What to Wear to a Beach Wedding. We recommending things like: “Brighter colors and prints are more easily made beach appropriate but can just as easily become formal as black or grays” and “look for silk or chiffon blends. Try to avoid 100% cotton – it’s easier to dress down a silk-blend fabric than it is to dress up a cotton dress.” S. debated the taboo against certain colors and decided on a black dress for one wedding and a pink dress for another summer wedding last year. E. too opted for a bright hue for a Labor Day weekend wedding, and of course, A. wore a gorgeous sapphire colored sheath dress for S.’s wedding.

Labor Day Weekend Wedding 2 June 2010 28 June 2010 - Outdoor Wedding 4 August 2009

As it happens, I (L.) had the chance recently to put this advice to the test because prior to my departure for Peru, I had the pleasure of attending my best friend’s wedding on Cape Cod. The wedding was on the beach and the reception was under a tent on the lawn of her yacht club. I wanted to wear something dressier than a sundress, but not overly formal (or hot) for the beach. I knew Ab’s dress, from BCBG via Nordstrom, was long and flowy and had flowers on the skirt. My only restrictions were that I had to wear flats due to the sand and grass, and I wanted to stay away from blue since I knew that was what the bridesmaids were wearing. I settled on a bright, cheerful, printed, vintage Nicole Miller halter dress that I’d bought at a consignment shop two summers ago.

Mom, the Bride, and Me Me and the Bride

The wedding was gorgeous, the weather was perfect, and Ab looked amazing. After the ceremony they walked off together down the beach, happily ever after. Congratulations Ab and Eb!

Walking off down the beach

Fall and Winter Weddings
While the majority of weddings are still probably in the spring and summer, there are more and more cropping up in the cooler months. E. and A. attended weddings in Colorado and Montana where the temperatures varied from the 50s to almost the 30s at night.

6 September 2009 - Mountain Wedding 14 March 2009 - Wedding Outfit

While some fall weddings are held outside, most winter weddings are indoor affairs and lend themselves to being a touch more formal. A. added some bling for another of her winter wedding outfits, and shoes are another way to dress up a look. For A. and A2′s wedding reception last fall, the Chics varied from black taffeta cocktail dress on L. to a red-orange jersey dress refashioned by E. The cooler temperatures can also mean layering more either on top with a wrap or sweater or under with tights like E. did for a wedding last fall.

Academichic Partying

9 October 2009 Wedding Attire - the Preggers Version Fall Wedding

Ultimately, what really matters in your wedding attire is that you feel beautiful and happy (and comfy enough to dance the night away!). Not all “rules” suit all people, and the only guidelines that you have to go by are your own. We hope that seeing some of our sartorial choices will inspire yours, but we, like you, are still figuring things out, one dress at a time. What will you be wearing to your next wedding?

Category: Dresses for Day, Dresses for Evening, Weekend Workshops
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Dress Your Best: Taking a Wholistic Approach

June 27th, 2011 § 15 comments §

Dress Your Best Week



Dress – Banana Republic Outlet (pre-pregnancy worn here)
Tank – Maternity, Target
Sandals – Target
Necklace – AE, years and years ago
Bag – Dots, bought in high school
Wooden bangle – thrifted


In my last post, I embraced my pregnant belly as my ‘Best’ for Dress Your Best Week. But as I was trying to come up with my other ‘Bests’, I realized that I have to take a more wholistic approach this time around. Last year, when we picked our top five things to celebrate, I remember naming things like my legs, my hair, and my smallish chest. This time, those same aspects of myself have been distorted and changed by pregnancy.

My legs, which I loved for being shapely as well as toned and powerful from many miles of running, are still strong but no longer resemble the legs they used to be. I’ve gotten cellulite where there was none, they’ve been retaining water and looking and feeling puffy, and they no longer even accept the thought of being squeezed into heels. It’s all flats, all comfort these days.

My hair, which I always loved for being full and curly, is still full and curly but is now betraying me in that it’s gotten increasingly grey and I’m powerless to hide that. I started getting grey hair a few years ago and have consistently colored it as a way to hide that. Since being pregnant, I decided to skip the chemicals in hair dye and wait the nine months before getting another dye job. As those pesky wirey white hairs spring up all around my temples and forehead, I feel like I’m increasingly made to look older and more weathered than I am.

And, alas, that smallish chest that allowed me to easily fit into any top and not think twice about going on a run. Yeah…those changed about two months into the pregnancy and will likely continue to change (read: grow) as time goes on. Sigh.

Floral Dress Detail

I’ll spare you the laundry list of everything else that’s changed and will cut to the chase; perhaps this is what happens when you get older. Perhaps this is what happens to all women, regardless of whether you’re going through pregnancy or your body is just changing with the passing of time. Hopefully, as this happens, you realize that it’s not about pin-pointing that ‘perfect’ feature of your body but rather about embracing the whole and what it does for you. So I’m taking a much more wholistic approach here and celebrating my body in its entirety.

This same body that gives me a million and one reasons to feel frustrated also gives me just as many reasons to be happy and grateful. It’s been carrying my baby to almost full term now (and having had several friends for whom this has been a problem, I know not to take that for granted). It’s still propelling me forward on my bike, on walks, at yoga class, and in the pool. It’s healthy and resiliant and this, too, I know to value. And while it’s changing in many ways, in just as many ways, it’s still me. It’s still the same body that ran a marathon, that used to have a waistline, and that once long ago thought grey hairs and cellulite a thing of motherhood and adulthood. Well, here I am, on the threshhold of motherhood and certainly with both feet into adult life, so I might as well embrace all aspects of this stage. As my yoga instructor has us say at the end of each class, I bow down to the divine within me and I celebrate this body for all that it is.

Dress Your Best Week

Category: Beltless, Dress Your Best, Dresses for Day, Maternity Style, Our Best Flatware, Proportionally
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24 June 2011 – Wonky

June 24th, 2011 § 34 comments §

24 June 2011


  • Dress: Motherhood Maternity
  • Necklace: consignment store
  • Sandals: Jeffrey Campbell

End Notes:

One guess as to what I’m celebrating as my “best” today.

24 June 2011

All that’s changed in the past year, of course, as I’m come to really, really love stripes. Maybe I’m just a late-bloomer like that. And now look, I’m wearing stripes when seven months pregnant. ALL OVER MY BODY.

As S. has already expressed, the rapid changes that your body goes through during pregnancy can be emotionally trying. It’s hard to see a body that you know transform into something that you don’t always recognize when you catch glimpses of yourself in a window or mirror. Being pregnant a second time is a different ballgame in the sense that I have some expectations of what could happen…but no guarantee that things will be at all the same. My hips are a little more sore, my face seems puffier to me, and chasing a toddler around while also carting pregnancy weight is exhausting.

But this time I also have the benefit of knowing what comes next: a child to cherish and nurture.

24 June 2011

So I adore this dress. I love that it hugs all of my pregnancy curves. I love that it’s graphic and modern. I love that it makes me feel hip and proud to be pregnant. This isn’t a dress that everyone will love (either on themselves or on me, for that matter), but it’s helping me dress my best with a little sense of humor and a whole lot of confidence.

24 June 2011

24 June 2011

Category: Beltless, Dress Your Best, Dresses for Day, Teaching Outfits
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23 June 2011 – Dressing My Best

June 23rd, 2011 § 13 comments §

Baby Shower Outfit at 34 weeks


Dress – thrifted
Earrings – made by me
Yellow flats – Target last summer

Maxi skirt – AE
Tank – Maternity, Target


For this take on Dress Your Best I am highlighting a body part that I would have never considered ‘my best’ in the past. In fact, I have written before about how my torso and midsection is what I tend to camouflage or visually alter through clever use of waistlines and belting. I do not have a naturally slender waistline and I spent many years feeling self-conscious about my midsection. But now that area has taken on new meaning as it’s been growing and housing a baby.

While dressing a pregnant body is not always as fun and ‘cute’ as the media and pop culture make it seem, it does offer a new way to approach getting dressed. Yes, clothes may not fit and finding something to wear may be somewhat of a challenge on most days, but the reason behind that are cause for celebration rather than mourning. So these past months, I’ve been embracing my midsection and celebrating my belly, not caring that it’s made my wardrobe shrink to a few viable dresses and tops at this point, nor that it obscures the view of my feet, nor that it causes endless challenges when looking for a comfortable position in bed. I love it for what it’s doing and what it represents to me now.

Dressing my Best

Of those few dresses that still fit me, I wore the one above to our baby shower this past weekend. It was a wonderful event and could have only been made better by having had more out of town guests able to attend. And notice those fun little tissue paper pompoms hanging from the tree? Long time readers may remember them from E’s baby shower with her first baby that A. and I co-threw with another friend. A. and I made those pompoms way back then and I was delighted to see them resurface in celebration of my upcoming baby (yes, they’re the very same ones, carefully saved and preserved by A.). If you want to see how we made them, check out our easy tutorial here.

There were many similarities between the shower we threw for E. and her husband N. two years ago and the one that was thrown for T. and I this past weekend. The main ingredients: a relaxed atmosphere, a co-ed group allowing us to celebrate with all of our friends and partners, easy but delicious backyard food, fresh flowers as decor, and small details that betayed the love and thought that went into the planning. If you want to read our tips on throwing a backyard baby shower, take a look at our post here.

Back Yard Baby Shower

Are you currently pregnant or have you been pregnant at one point? Would your belly have made it into a ‘Best Five’ list were you to Dress Your Best?

Category: Beltless, Color Combinations, Dress Your Best, Dresses for Day, Maternity Style, Our Best Flatware, Proportionally
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