September 16, 2015

Swooping In on Sale Items at Banana Republic

When I started Greater Lengths, the first few months...years...I was shopping A LOT. Then things changed.

First off, I actually like Taylor Swift now. You guys, her most recent album? I can't stop loving every song. Not to say that I think her music has any staying power - okay, maybe "Blank Space" just a little - but it's so hard not to bop your head along.

Second, remember my self-imposed hiatus on shopping and extra expenditures? It's caught up to me. My closet, while still well-stocked, is aging and needed a few replacement.

Enter my recent purchases at Banana Republic. I wanted to share them here, with you, because if you're even marginally interested, now is the time to buy. Banana is offering an extra 50% off on sale items - all of these which are in that category.

Click on the pictures below to be taken straight to the retailer.  Use code BRSALE for an extra 50% off sale items. You won't regret it.

First, this bronze hi/low skirt from the Banana Republic Heritage collection. Oh my swoops! I love the subtle grading of this skirt. I know the idea is "modest clothes" on this blog, but before anyone gets all high and mighty on me, I'm on the modesty spectrum that a little ankle is okay.
This is the photo that caught my eye, which made me want this skirt.

It doesn't have as rich of a color in real life, but ladies, for $35, I'm willing to overlook that. It comes a few other colors; the soft pink is actually more gorgeous in person. As a head's up, this skirt has side slits. I plan to sew mine up but don't be surprised if you get it! Finally, I plan to wear mine lower on my hips; if you wear it at your natural waist - it will be a true midi skirt. Wear it low = midi maxi skirt.

I'm also VERY excited about this next piece. I saw it another time I was in Banana (I guess this has been my go-to store lately? It must be, because it's the only place I've shopped in the last 6 months and I've only shopped once or twice in the last 6 months. I digress.)

I love long blazers. They're truly a versatile piece. For example, in this photo, this woman is wearing it over a jumpsuit - which reminds me, I need to pair this with MY jumpsuit - but I foresee myself wearing this 1) with any of my slim-fit ankle work pants for a professional look, 2) with my polka-dotted black maxi with the red belt for social events, 3) with any of my colorful button-down blouses to neutralize the color for date nights (that is, if I could get a date), and 4) over a casual t-shirt when I go chop off my hair this weekend (I need a memorable outfit for the occasion!). Oh, with a chambray top...just thought of that one.
I'm not gangly tall (think Taylor Swift) but I am 5'7", and even on me it comes below my butt by at least an inch. If you're looking for a VERY stylish blazer that is universally flattering, this is what you want RIGHT NOW (seriously, before it's no longer on sale and/or gone).

My last two purchases were to beef up the casual classy tops. Stripes are timeline (think Audrey Hepburn, as I often do). These are light and airy tops with a lot of length. They're great untucked with a pair of boyfriend jeans or tucked into a pair of wide-leg trouser jeans (or with that blazer I posted above). At $10 and less for the tops, they're too good NOT to own.

I went for the gray dolman and blue t-shirt, but I think each and any color will become a go-to in your modest fashion closet.

June 10, 2015

[Modest Gym Clothes] A Muslim Woman/Workout Fanatic's Dream Closet 2.0

Two years ago, I published a post on modest workout wear.That post has become, by far, the most popular post I've done. This to me says the sportswear industry is lacking when it comes to providing clothing options for women who seek more coverage in their fitness gear.

Since items from the original post no longer are on sale, here is an updated version of the post with items available for purchase. There's a LOT in this post so make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom.

Click on any image to be taken to the purchase retailer. Be sure to check out the post on modest swimwear too - base layers, swimwear tops, and swimwear pants and bottoms.

Modest Workout Tops

Longer length workout shirts are hard to come by. Even when you think it's long, you do one overhead lift and all of a sudden, everyone can see your six-pack abs (we are talking about one's goals here, right?).

The Nike Women's Epic Long Training top - available here - is not just super-long, but also super lightweight with Dri-Fit technology. It's available on Amazon and at Dick's Sporting Goods stores. Thank you to Aquilla, who pointed this top out to me!

This Nike Dri-Fit Crew Shirt is not as long as the top above, but has a loose fit, and for those who don't like long shirts with their loose bottoms, this shirt ends just below the waist, so you don't feel like you're layered in swaths of cloth.

Another longer length, Nike Dri-Fit shirt, this top offers a more fitted look but with a longer length.

Still looking for that perfect long sleeve shirt? More here! Just remember that if you're working out in the summer heat to pick something that is light weight and loose-fitting. The more fitted an article of clothing, the more heat you'll retain.
In the summertime, I like to alternate between loose-fitting long sleeve and tee shirt workout tops. I fall in the middle of a spectrum where I don't wear sleeveless, but don't mind a tee shirt here or there. For those of you like me, here are a few shorter sleeves.

June 9, 2015

Bahama Mama: Modest Swimwear (Part 3 - Swim Tights and Surf Leggings)

Check out part 1 and part 2 of this series on modest swimwear!

It astounds me that in all the years of swimming, I never considered swim pants or surf leggings as an option for swimwear. Granted, times have changed since I was a kid and these items, previously hidden deep in the pages of print catalogs that had to be actively sought out and subscribed to, are now readily available for discovery online. (Oh, what a marvelous thing, this internet!)

Part 3: Swim Tights and/or Surf leggings
In preparation for my trip to Morocco last year, I purchased a pair of surf tights. Later in the year, I was gifted by Coolibar, the Australian swimwear company, with a pair swim tights. What difference these two items made.

Water just rolled off my legs, allowing me to glide more easily while in the ocean. They are quick-drying, releasing water easily, which prevents the feeling of wearing an anchor at your waist, or the floppy mess cotton or sport pants leave at your ankles.

Do yourself a favor and get a pair of swim tights, surf leggings, or swim pants! See below for a few options of each.

June 5, 2015

Bahama Mama: Modest Swimwear (Part 2 - Swim Tops, Tunics, and Rash Guards)

For part 1 of this ongoing series on modest swimwear and how to get it, start here.

Modest swimwear. Those words seem to be a paradox of each other. If you're dressing modestly, you can all but forget the beach exists. If you plan to swim, you can all but forget that modesty exists.

But these things, my friends, do live in harmony.

Yesterday I talked about, how after years of shying away from water activities, I finally decided to come up with a functional alternative to the current modest swimwear options. The first step, have a solid base layer (see more by clicking here). Once you have a base layer, build on the foundation.

You know that vision of Bo Derek rising out of the water and whipping her hair back and forth? It's not possible in a drenched, weighed-down cotton shirt. Working that scene in a cotton tee is more likely to lead to a version of you struggling to get out of the water, looking like an inebriated Frankenstein fighting with a gorilla on your back.

Cotton is fabric that is meant to absorb. It's pretty much a sponge.By replacing that cotton shirt with a surf shirt, you can recreate your Bo Derek moment however you like.

Surf Shirts and Rash Guards
Surf shirts and rash guards are to water what wicking shirts are to sweat. Technical wicking fabric, the type that many sports shirts are now made of, are designed to pull wetness away from your skin and allow it to evaporate quickly. Surf shirts and rash guards are made of fabric designed to absorb little water, pull it away from your skin, and to enable it to dry quickly.

Surf shirts and rash guards come in all brands, price points, and sleeve lengths. Typically, a rash guard will be a tighter fitting product, though many exist that are are fitted without being tight. I own a surf shirt by Roxy and a rash guard from a brand called Sporti, both of which I used on my recent trip to the Bahamas. Sporti is an in-house brand developed by swimwear merchandiser, SwimOutlet. Despite Roxy having a more prominent footprint in the swimwear industry, I liked the Sporti guard more, as it had a longer length that fell just past my bottom. It also felt sleeker in the water and dried faster.

Being almost 5'7", what is tight on me may not be to my best friend Amie, who stands 5'0". Keep that in mind as you click the images below.
Swim Tunics from Coolibar
I am very specific to citing Coolibar for their swim tunics. I don't know of any other place that offers a long-sleeve tunic top that's meant for swimming and offers the same type of coverage without decrease in function as Coolibar does. They are quite a bit pricier than the surf shirts and rash guard options but I think for the utility they provide, they are worth the purchase. If you see this on 6/5/15, you can navigate to their site and get 10% off your purchase!

These swim tops from Coolibar come in 8 colors and 4 prints. Click on the picture today to get yours!

Next time, part 3 - modest swim bottoms!

June 4, 2015

Ramadan Capsule Collections: What Mango Did Wrong and What Tommy Hilfiger Is Doing Better

At this point, you may have already heard about the Mango Ramadan 2015 collection, to be released in stores in the Middle East and online, on June 8. If you haven't heard - here's the gist: Mango, the fast-fashion retailer out of Spain, is launching a Ramadan collection on the heels of last year's DKNY Ramadan capsule collection. Here's a preview of a few of the dresses:

Does anyone else see a problem? For a religion that preaches covering up one's intimate body parts, Ramadan is arguably one of the times of the year that this is more encouraged. Yet, these dresses - gorgeous silhouettes with beautiful designs and details - do nothing to promote this aspect of Ramadan. For all the excitement and sharing, these designs are nothing more than ordinary dresses - not at all designed with the average Muslim woman in mind - released under the pretense of supporting Muslim women observing Ramadan.

I don't have a problem with retailers capitalizing on holidays; I'm all for a capitalistic economy and the free market - it spurs on competition and great products. This is not an argument to preserve the spirituality of Ramadan or the core of it - that's up to the people who observe it.

I do take umbrage with incomplete or half-assed market research, and these arm-baring, lace-backed dresses are prime examples of an industry in sore need of a solid strategic advisor digging into the details to capture an untapped market.

Furthermore, if Muslim women applaud the the arrival of this collection, rather than pointing all the ways to improve, retailers and designers in the future will think they can present any maxi dress repackaged as a "Ramadan" collection.

What Mango fails to do, Tommy Hilfiger does much better.

Tommy Hilfiger is also planning to release a Ramadan 2015 collection, to become available in stores across the Middle East starting June 15, 2015 - a week after Mango. According to Dubai PR Network, "The 11-piece collection includes four full-length dresses, two skirts, three blouses and two bolero jackets. Color tones embrace jeweled tones with emerald green, satiny black and creamy whites incorporated throughout." I suspect the colors were inspired by the oft-associated colors of green and white to Ramadan and Islam (which, really, is quite inaccurate). That's forgivable as these designs are so much better than Mango's.

Tommy Hilfiger's designs are everything that Mango is not. The sleeves are long, with drapes that don't cling, pieces that can be mixed and matched, and fabrics that can be worn as a single layer. More importantly, they offer full-length coverage and variety (these aren't all maxi dresses!) that is important to the modest-dressed Muslim woman. With Ramadan spanning 30 days, give or take a few, it's nice to be able to change it up. This is a designer that looked into what a Muslim woman may wear on the day-to-day or special events and provided her with a collection built around those requirements.

If these accounts are true, at this point, DKNY, Mango, and Tommy Hilfiger - major players in the US women's fashion industry - have created lines to coincide with Ramadan. Additionally, there have been reports of British designer Dorothy Perkins having released a Ramadan line last year, in 2014.

While I argue there is no such thing as "Muslim" fashion, it is nice to have special collections of clothes from designers and brands with fashion forward sense entering the market and giving us all one more thing to look forward to during Ramadan.

Post your comments below!