Saturday, January 14, 2017

Just like the Gilmore Girls revival, only with slightly less disappointment and better life decisions.

A year ago this weekend, we were moving into (the then-unnamed) Bertridge.

Though moving day was in mid-January, we actually got the keys to the house several weeks before. The regret started seeping in several minutes after walking in the door.

We weren't expecting to walk into our dream house. We were aware that the house needed some extra love. Built in 1948, the house had seen plenty of small renovations, but few large upgrades, and we'd had to replace the old shake roof before even gaining possession of the house.  And we were gearing up for the task of painting every wall in the house. What we weren't expecting was...
  • Years of old dog food coating the garage and kitchen floors
  • Rodent droppings in a kitchen cabinet
  • Literal piles of debris in the backyard
  • Cat pee covering every wall of what was to be Teddy's room
  • The discovery that the previous owner possibly tried to stain the wood floors around the couch
  • The discovery that half the windows and doors were missing their wood casings
  • A heavy coat of grime on virtually everything
Ah, home sweet home. 

With a lot of help (and even a little bloodshed) from family, gallons of paint, and a ton of enzyme cleaner, we were able to scrub away the grunge.  But the issue of the floors remained. We're not whether it was mistreatment or simply age that left them in such poor shape, but the dark stains, scratches, and discoloration lent the house a permanent vibe of filthiness. With the help of parental benefactors, we opted to have them sanded and stained before move-in day. Finding a Sacramento floor guy in the days following Christmas wasn't easy, but Young's Hardwood Floor Sanding saved the day.

The effect was immediate. Sanding the floors alone made such an enormous impact on the house. The impact made it all the more difficult to choose a stain. Should we say light or give it some color?

Initially, we were going to try to choose a very light stain, but in the end, due to a few subtle but deeply-rooted stains, we opted for Minwax wood stain in Colonial Maple. I worried it would be a bit too orange, but it turned out great.

And so, before we even moved in, we tackled some pretty big home improvement projects. We've made a habit of taking on a project each weekend. Sometimes it's just a matter of touching up the trim, while other times it's soliciting dozens of quotes to demolish and rebuild the pesky cement steps out back.

This post wasn't what I imagined it would be, but as it's been sitting my drafts folder for a good six months now, I'm going to go ahead and post it. Don't judge me. I'm a busy working mom with a high-energy toddler, Crohn's disease, and limited spoons. As the great Nina Bonina Brown would say - "Sue me!"

Friday, January 6, 2017

I was not compensated in any way by Betabrand or any of the 
other brands mentioned in this post.

Pants are one of those things that I absolutely hate purchasing, along with shoes (flat feet), bras, oil changes, and cat litter. More often then not, they tend to disappoint. When I do find a trusty pair of work pants, the style is guaranteed promptly disappears from the retailer's website and I will inexplicably gain or lose 5 pounds. (Remind me to write about the joy that is Crohn's disease in a future post.)

Enter the clothing retailer and crowdfunding company Betabrand's dress pant yoga pants. So what are these pants exactly? Betabrand claims that they "combine sophisticated styling with a soft, stretch performance knit. We think they'll be the most comfortable pants you ever wear to work."

Basically, they're yoga pants that you can probably wear to the office without getting fired.

Betabrand stalked me for a solid year before I caved and purchased my first pair of dress pant yoga pants earlier this year. I must've been hit with their Facebook ads fifty times over the past year, but while the concept appealed to me, the $78 price tag seemed a bit much. 

The pants are currently offered in four styles (boot-cut, straight-leg, leggings, and cropped-leg) and a variety of office-friendly colors. To add to the illusion of professionalism, they feature belt loops, a non-functional button and pockets, and a faux zipper. Because nothing screams "I'm an important business lady" like a zipper.

Too good to be true? I thought so, which is why I waited until I started working in an extremely casual office to put these pants to the test. Here's how it went.

Betabrand Dress Pant Yoga Pants - The Yeh

  • Comfort - 4.5 out of 5

Oh man. So comfortable. Having the ability to work a full work day without feeling pinched or squeezed is simply luxurious. There's not much to say except that they feel like you'd expect. You're essentially wearing stretchy yoga pants to work - it's as simple as that. 

If I were to recommend this to any group of people out there, it would be Crohn's sufferers. Not having to battle the ebb and flow of belly bloat is delightful. And, indeed, you'll find a whole underground community of IBD sufferers out there who sing the praises of these pants. There is nothing worse than having to wear a pair of restrictive pants during a flare up, especially when that pair of restrictive pants is two sizes two big everywhere but the waistline because of said flare up.

I knocked off half a point for mental comfort, which I'll address in the following section. 

Betabrand Dress Pant Yoga Pants - The Meh

  • Appearance - 3.5 out of 5
The comfort comes at a bit of a cost. With increased stretch and give comes a little bit of lumpiness. There's a reason the models on the site are largely over 5'9 and less than 130 lbs. 

At 5'6" and 133 lbs., you would think that I'm close enough to the template to make it work. Only kind of. While the medium, straight leg dress pant yoga pants are certainly forgiving when it comes to fit, they have a tendency to cling to all of my curves, including my subtle saddlebags. Granted, I've had this issue with plenty of other pants, most notably the J. Crew Minnie in stretch twill. The Betabrand version traverses the curves better than its J. Crew counterpart, but I still don't don't dare wear them in public with my shirt tucked in. The models make it so effortless and chic. Me...well, see for yourself. To be honest, I feel more polished and professional in a nice pair of skinny jeans.

Still, they do pass as dress pants in the workplace. I've paired them with blouses and blazers without any of my colleagues screaming, "THOSE ARE YOGA PANTS!" in the middle of staff meetings. I've even taken in a lunchtime yoga class in them. I'm just feel a little more self-conscious in them than I feel in a pair of lined trousers. 

  • Length - 3 out of 5

A work colleague of mine once empathized with my short-legged woes by saying that we both "had the body types of corgis." I'm 5'6", with the torso of a supermodel and the leg length of an Olympic gymnast. I had to Google this latter analogy to see if it's actually a thing. According to Teen Vogue, it is, with the average Olympic gymnast measuring in at only 4 feet, 8 inches tall. 

I digress. With a 29" inseam, I should've opted for the Petite option. But I always like to give my legs the benefit of the doubt. I figured that  I might have had a growth spurt in my 31st year of life and I was a gazelle and I just hadn't realized it yet.  

Of course, that wasn't the case. The minute after tried on the Regular (with an inseam of 32"), I tossed it back in the packaging and sent for the Petite instead. The Petite are a much better fit, though it's clear that these pants are truly designed to be worn with heels rather than flats. This kind of works against the whole notion of having dual-action (board room to yoga studio) pants. No one wants to be stepping on their hems while they're in down dog. 

Betabrand Dress Pant Yoga Pants - The Blegh

  • Care - 2 out of 5

While not the most delicate of trousers, the Dress Pant Yoga Pants do have specific care instructions. The Betabrand website suggests "Machine wash cold, lay flat to dry or line dry." That's great and all, but my husband isn't going to remember to seek out what looks like athletic pants from the wash and gently lay them out flat. Thus, I fear that my pricey pants might have an unfortunately short lifespan. 

I've noticed that all three pairs get a bit wrinkly. I'm a firm believer in not washing pants after every wear, but the dress pant yoga pants tend to look noticeably rumpled after a single use. I'd take a light ironing to them, but they also seem to be a bit prone to marking and smudging at the slightest brush, so I'm afraid of inadvertently scalding them. 

Just as an FYI - comments on the Betabrand site indicate that the pants shrink significantly after washing.

  • Price - 2 out of 5

With a price tag of $78, Betabrand Dress Pant Yoga Pants are comparable to a nice pair of trousers from Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, or J. Crew. However, despite its overnight success, Betabrand appears to be a fledgling company, so you're less likely to find a great sale.  I bought one pair 20% off ($74, including shipping and handling), another pair on eBay ($45 with free shipping), and my third pair with a pre-order discount ($68, including shipping and handling). 

To me, they're worth about $50 a pair, so the price is just out of my comfort zone. I'd give it a 3 out of 5, but I knocked another point off for their in-your-face financing options on their product pages. Guys, if you have to pay for your fancy dress pant yoga pants in monthly installments, don't buy them. Just don't. Put down your credit card and step away from the computer. Set up an eBay saved search and wait. Don't put yourself in debt for yoga pants.  And Betabrand, shame on you for telling people they ought to put themselves in debt for yoga pants. Come on.


Come to think of it, not only do I not like shopping for pants, I don't like wearing them all that much either. So consider that before putting too much stock in this review.  
I'd recommend Betabrand dress pant yoga pants if you...

A. Are fortunate enough to have a work situation that allows you prioritize comfort over appearance;
B. Aren't self-conscious about your curves;
C. Have an average to long inseam;
D. Are of means or can wait for a decent sale.

Still intrigued? Try them out. Betabrand's return policy offers 110% store credit or a refund to the purchasing payment method in addition to free, pre-paid return labels for domestic orders. Not bad. 

(But seriously, don't opt for the payment plan.)