This post was sponsored by Karen Kane, but the opinions are 100% my own. You can follow Karen Kane on Twitter and Facebook.

I was delighted when Karen Kane asked me to review some items from their on trend, 70′s inspired Summer 2011 collection. It’s no secret that I am a fan of their merchandise — I’ve sung their praises many times on YLF. I’ve even interviewed the lovely and talented Karen, and each season my clients and I continue to be drawn to her merchandise. Still, I’m a pretty tough critic when it comes to product reviews because I have worked with garment manufacturers, spent time on factory floors, and I’m a stickler for fit and quality.

I’m “a dressy woven gal” who prefers geometric patterns. So in two secs I’d selected the black Bermuda Shorts ($79), the ivory Beaded Smock Neck Top ($139), and the Sleeveless Asymmetric Hem Dress ($109). Two woven separates and a knitted dress are a nice item mixture to pop through their paces. The items also serve as a good basis for a casual traveling capsule.

Before I fit on garments, I assess the quality of the fabric and workmanship off my body (old fashion buyer’s habits are hard to break). I hold them up and shake them about to check the drape. I tug at the seams to check for seam slippage. I feel the weight and texture of the fabric. I look at the pocket construction and at the finish of the inside seams. I also look at the hems because a badly finished hem can totally ruin the look of a garment. Upon inspection, all three garments passed my test. Onto fit, silhouette and styling.

The fabric of the bermuda shorts is thick and substantial. Love that. Their spandex content makes them extra comfy. I found the fit superb with ample rise length, no whiskering and no need to alter the waistband. The tapered leg silhouette and length are flattering and versatile. I am usually not a fan of side entry pockets, and prefer slanted front pockets or welt pockets. But these lie flat against the body, and only pouf out a little when seated, so I can live with them. In my first outfit I dressed up the bermudas with a billowing pussy bow blouse and low heeled mary janes. But truly, I can wear them with all my shirts and blouses (tucked and untucked), plenty of my jackets, the odd cardigan, flats and higher heels. I’ll even pair them with boots in Autumn. I highly recommend these made in the US bermuda shorts, which are machine washable and available in several colours.

The ivory beaded smock neck top was the item furthest outside my style comfort zone because of it’s casual bohemian flavour. Well, to my surprise I absolutely love this blouse. It’s my favourite item of the bunch. The fabric is a soft cotton-silk blend that’s ever so dainty, romantic and pretty. It’s boxy, but the fabric collapses back onto the body, which makes all the difference. I don’t feel like I’m wearing a tent. The silk component strengthens the cotton component and adds lustre to the look. I adore the sheerness of the blouse and the way a camisole adds an extra dimension to the silhouette. It’s breezy but covered, a tough combination to find in a retail world obsessed with low cut necklines and cap sleeves. I would not have loved this blouse nearly as much sans the beaded embellishment, which for me, makes dry cleaning a completely worthwhile expense. I like the blouse best tucked into belted jeans with a bloussoned effect. But you can wear it out over slim fitting bottoms and bootcuts, or belt it at the waist.

The final item, a sleeveless asymmetric hem dress, is as comfortable and as easy to wear as it gets because its knitted, fit-and-flare and machine washable. Throw it on with a pair of cute shoes and Bobs your Uncle — you’re ready for the day. It’s weighty rayon/spandex fabric content allows it to drape effortlessly over the contours of the body without the cling. No cleavage or bra exposure challenges either. The asymmetric hemline is interesting, arty and flattering, exposing just the right amount of leg on the short side. The dress also gracefully covers the legs while sitting down. It has to be very hot for me to wear this frock sleeveless though, because I run really cold. My denim jacket layer allows me to wear it here in Seattle, so I’m sorted. I’m wearing flats, but heels or wedges will also work.

Add a fedora or straw bag to further dress down the outfit. It’s a versatile dress that will take you just about anywhere if styled appropriately. Genius design.

I’m really pleased with these items from Karen Kane for many reasons. First, the quality of the fabric is good value for money. I have zero tolerance for fabric quality issues and with a Karen Kane garment, I just know I’m off to a good quality start, especially after the laundry process. Second, the items can be remixed with many pieces in my wardrobe. These three items form the basis of a practical warm weather and relatively casual travel capsule. Add in a few bridging separates and I’m packed for my trip. Third, the prices are reasonable. And finally, the styles are fairly ageless. I’d say that’s brilliant all round.

Giveaway

Karen Kane is generously giving away a $200 Styling Day and we’ll be launching the competition this afternoon. Be sure to check YLF’s competition section for details.

Update: The new Karen Kane competition is now live.

If you don’t live close to a retailer than sells Karen Kane, not to worry. You’ll win a gift card that you can spend on whatever tickles your fancy. The competition will be open to everyone, and don’t forget that Karen Kane sells plus sizes too.

In the meantime, which of the outfits in this post do you like the best, and why?

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