Friday, October 30, 2009

Yays and Nays

In a second round interview today, I knew I was in the right place when one of the first questions the vice president of buying asked me was to name a few trends I've seen for fall that I like, and some that I dislike. Though nerves and sweaty palms clouded my often lucid fashion mind, and made words stick like viscous chewing gum in my throat, I managed to name a few such trends that for better or worse, caught my attention.

As evinced by the brown motorcycle booties I paired with my interview outfit, I love exposed zippers. Whether they are on the hem of a pair of jeans, the sleeve of a jacket, the outside of a boot, or dangling from a neck, zippers add edge and interest to any ensemble. I also love bib necklaces, with large jewels or other such adornments. I have seen them in every price range from $39, all the way to $1,200, with the some of the cutest options falling somewhere around $100. I am happy to see the large, voluminous bell bottom-esqe jeans fall out of favor and embrace the straighter leg. Though skinny does not work for everyone (and scares many), I prefer the narrow styling. Most pairs contain a small amount of spandex for comfort, and in the right size (and age appropriate cut) straight jeans really look great on all.

I do not adore the over the knee leather boots, which I find reminiscent of a streetwalker or insect cocoon. Wear what you like, but these are certainly not for me (nor are they for most women I know). I also cannot get on board with animal print. Though my favorite aunt from Staten Island would disagree, I find it hard to wear and not all that flattering on most people. However, like tequila, small doses of animal can be good, as in a skirt trim or slim neck scarf.

Hopefully my damp hands did not ruin things for me, and my edgy booties spoke for themselves.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Everyday Denim

Like the housing market which at one time soared to incredulous heights, and inevitably came crashing down, so has the denim bazaar. The old additive is indubitable: what goes up, must come down. Today's New York Times article by Eric Wilson explores the at one time astronomical price tags of some leading jean labels, and how they have corrected themselves in wearing economic times.

I admittedly cannot go 2 days in a row without a pair of jeans. These days, there are very scarce occasions where one cannot appropriately (and stylishly) suit up in denim. Many offices allow (some even encourage) fashion forward ensembles that often involve a pair of perfectly fitting jeans as a crucial element of the overall look. (Of course, I'm not talking about law firms or financial capitals, I would not be so bold as to attempt to transform those force fields into chic, of the moment agencies that embrace denim as work-wear. But I would insist on breaking the black suit barricade.)

Though in my vast free time during unemployment I have come across a plethora of affordable jeans, I have tried very hard to resist the urge to buy, given 1) my lack of income, 2) lack of a designated job with a specified dress code, 3) the size of the closet in my studio apartment, and most importantly, 4) the 13 pairs of perfectly good jeans currently hanging that closet. But I have done my homework to offer educated advice on how to score a pair of perfect jeans that will be so comfortable, you will put the leggings back in the closet on weekends (hopefully under enough other clothing so they get lost and can't be found again).

I have always loved Seven jeans. I am happy to hear they have come down in price, but I still have a hard time shelling out $150 for a pair these days. An alternative is the 'sexy boot' at the Gap. They have a touch of spandex which makes them a comfortable, suitable alternative to the sweat pant (though I suppose anything is a an appropriate alternative to those). As I've said before, I really love the J.Crew 'matchstick' jeans (I suggest trying these on in a few sizes, because the sizing is slightly different in this cut). The matchstick is also a good cut for anyone who likes the modern straight jeans, but wants an alternative to the difficult 'skinny' cut. Old Navy has a bountiful offering of jeans in many different cuts, at very compelling price points ($22-$29), so if your budget is very tight but you love the trill of the purchase (who doesn't?) you can pick up a new pair for Halloween weekend. Always try on jeans, and check the rear view first, as this is what most people will see, and its a deal breaker on many pairs.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Timeless Twins

Layers serve many purposes. They can add warmth, provide options for uncertain climates, give the wearer 2 looks with one outfit. But the very epitome of the layered look, the twinset, has gotten a bad wrap with the younger generation. The New York Times Style Magazine featured a small clip about this iconic sweater set in an effort to revive its long lived reputation.

Style icons such as Jackie Onassis and Grace Kelley were often photographed donning the twinset. (On an interview last week, the owner of the company told me I looked like Grace Kelly. Since I am brunette and look nothing like her, I knew he referred to my outfit, and of course there is no bigger compliment you can pay me than to compliment my ensemble). Really the twinset is the fashion workhorse that spans generations, crosses style bridges, and defines one's overall sense of dressing to tell others that you care about your appearance, and are polished. What other item can say all that?

The cardigan and matching underpiece were born in the 1940's to replace more formal frocks that were in vogue at the time. From there, designers have replicated the traditional combo and added seasonal details, new necklines, and fresh adornments. Pringle of Scotland offers this argyle combo in uber-expensive cashmere. Or for a more reasonable price there is J.Crew's stalwart, the Jackie cardigan and matching shell (I have it in 3 colors). Right now Ann Taylor offers several mix and match options with embellished collars and hem lines. When you can find nothing to wear to an important meeting, a job interview, a client luncheon, or brunch with your boyfriend's family, the twinset hangs in the closet like an old friend, loyal and always reliable to fill the order.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mid-Week Shopping Spree

It's that time of year again, the time when colorful wool blazers begrudgingly will no longer cut it as outerwear, and actual coats must be brought to the forefront of the closets. After much discussion over wine, and a flurry of email exchanges with my friend Christine, I think I have amassed an expansive selection of contenders.

First there are the Park Avenue Broads. These are the coats that we would all love to have (some of us will), but most of us must limit our exposure to these to mere admiration, and the occasional spotting while trotting through midtown on an errand. One such illusive icon is the classic Burberry number, whose trademarked checks have been updated with fresh color. Another lovely star is this cobalt blue Gucci zip front (which probably wouldn't keep you warm if you actually had to wear it outdoors, but its not always about utility). I can't help but gaze longingly at this Oscar de la Renta cloak in all its burgundy glory.

Next are the Gramercy Park Ladies. These are options that, if you are employed, unencumbered by children or a husband that insists on auditing your charge receipts, can be feasible. I love this Mackage coat, with its jacquard detail and fitted silhouette. Tory Burch's red zipper jacket is very flattering and will go with everything (except pink, but I suggest rethinking any outfit that involves pink pants to begin with, unless you are perhaps vacationing in Nantucket).

Finally we have the Murry Hill Girls. Here are coats that can be obtained with little financial maneuvering, and merely going a week or so without a trip to the Bloomingdales sale rack, or the Shoe Box on your way home from work. A classic in this category is the J.Crew Lady Coat. I have mentioned this coat in a previous post, and it remains a steadfast ally in winter. I really like my winter coat to have some special detailing that makes it unique, since it will be the most utilized of all cold weather clothing. This Soia & Kyo coat from Bluefly is very well priced, and offers just the right amount of style while still being neutral enough to top off any ensemble. The universally flattering trench coat is offered in a plaid wool at Banana Republic, with a price tag that won't hit the wallet too hard. For those who, like me, may not be currently employed but cannot foresee going through winter without a new coat, there are some offerings south of $200 that still provide style and the much sought after thrill. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, you can be fashionable and warm all season long.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dangerous Buttons

The cardigan: friend to many, but foe to some. It's open placket makes it the most versatile piece of clothing for any season, yet that same placket can make it a minefield. The same way you might try desperately to stuff all your belongings into a suitcase, then sit on top and strain to zip it, only to have the items seep through the closure like overflowing laundry detergent, so it is with an ill-fitting cardigan. Not pretty.

Yesterday afternoon, I treated myself to a trip to J.Crew to browse the sale racks in the hopes of scoring a new fall sweater. About half way through a candy-colored pile of cashmere blend, a woman abruptly snatched a cardigan from the stack below my reach. Always able to sense desperation and determination in a fellow shopper, I kindly stepped back to give her space for her frenzy. I continued to sift through the display for options in my size, while keeping an eye on the woman to my right. Seeming to come across what she thought was her size, she threw her purse and other packages to the floor, and began draping a pale amethyst cardigan around her body. With much effort, the shopper stuffed her arms into the narrow sleeves, then began the perilous final step: closing the buttons. As each round, brown, shell disc was squeezed through its corresponding hole, the fabric placket below desperately pulled away from itself. By the time the final button was fastened, the woman's flesh fought through the space between like angry convicts trying to escape from jail. Positive the woman would see that this was clearly not the right size for her, I continued to mull through the remaining cardigans. Unfortunately, without an honest shopping companion (or sensation in her abdomen) the shopper seemed pleased with her find, took it off, and headed for the register. I winced, but kept quiet. Surely I know my boundaries.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tweed Inspiration

The timeless, effortlessly chic aura of Coco Chanel is something woman have admired, emulated, and coveted for decades. Ann Taylor should be very flattered by Tuesday's NY Times piece drawing a comparison (after the author first walks through her previous anti-Ann sentiment, which I found dead-on accurate with my own misconception, circa junior year of college).

The iconic tweed jacket that Chanel became synonymous with is updated each season to offer woman a compelling reason to lust after it. (With a price tag north of $3,000, lust really is the verb the comes to mind.) Waking up this morning to find the forecast predicting temperatures in the mid 70's, I was non too thrilled. I have the most important interview I've yet to encounter today, and all my tweed, Chanel-ish, black and white ensembles currently hanging from the front of my armoire will not do in such unseasonably warm air. (Think of the scent of a dog whose been walked in the rain and then returns to his small Manhattan apartment. That is akin to how tweed smells once its become damp with human perspiration.) New choices must be scouted, always keeping in mind my impossibly chic icon.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Free For All

As the cold weather engulfs the city, days spent lounging in Central Park or enjoying a latte at a sidewalk cafe are packed away til next spring. Instead, weekend activities migrate indoors where the air is warm and the fashion hot.

Always in search of weekend plans that involve little cost of participation (since when did seeing a movie in the City cost $12.50 a person?) I was happy to come across the schedule of exhibitions at FIT (all free!) Going on now, but sadly ending on November 7th, is Fashion and Politics, featuring Catherine Malandrino's famous Flag Dress, and a Nixon 'paper dress'. This exhibit traces the theme of American Nationalism through clothing and offers something for everyone, including my CSPAN loving Husband.

Even more tantalizing is the exhibit running from November 6th through April 10th titled American Beauty (since this is the name of one of my favorite movies, I was immediately intrigued). Put on by Charles B. Froom, this reveal features 75 looks to narrate the relationship between technical ingenuity and artistic excellence. Though I have to wait until December 3rd to catch Night and Day, I think it will be well worth it. This exhibition will do what I set to accomplish every Saturday evening- trace the history of how the dress code for women has changed (painfully so) over the past 250 years. The most noteworthy component of this display will be a black Chantilly Lace gown by Rochas. I will have to resist the urge to lean surreptitiously over the velvet ropes to trace the outline of a Chantilly flower with my pointer finger. (I am sure that no where in the exhibit will I find a recreation of a mannequin donning Ugg boots and leggings.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sweet Stripes

Reminiscent of pleasant things, such as candy canes, our Country's flag, or an afternoon sail, stripes are a welcome trend in 2009. 2 parts preppy, one part nautical, one part modern, even a small part edgy, stripes are fashion workhorses. They provide an optical illusion for some, can act as camouflage for others, and are easy to wear when a few easy steps are followed.

Horizontal stripes seem to be all the rage. Unfortunately, these are the species that require a small consideration before donning. For those lucky enough to be endowed on top, please avoid wide, starkly contrasting varieties which will stretch in the wrong places and create a 'melon effect' that is not appropriate for walking the streets in day light. (Exhibit A would be this wide striped Gap top. Cute on the model but not so cute on the well endowed.) If you instead wish not to draw attention to the belly (the female Achilles heel after a certain age), don't choose a super fitted top, opt rather for a fuller cut with modest stripes which won't sit on problems areas or stretch over extra skin.

What better way to prepare for the new boat my parents purchased than by stocking up on some nautical stripes for the season? Ive already spotted a few pieces I can't resist. What makes it even sweeter is that many striped garments come in easy to wear (and light on the Louis wallet) cotton blends. This Gap knit is only $9.99, and the little pocket gives it extra detail. A classic Lacoste in stripes will always be in style. Paired with weekend jeans and flats, it'll be a go-to outfit for fall Saturdays. An nice evening choice is this Michael Stars number with lurex for a touch of sheen. For an option that goes to work as well as weekend duty, this Ella Moss tunic is a good additive. My very favorite striped top is a Club Monaco knit I bought on sale in spring of 2005 and have been wearing ever since. When you find one you like, snatch it up!

Monday, October 19, 2009


In the post-wedding season, I've heard numerous complaints from former bridesmaids who have amassed a staggering collection of uniform-like dresses which they vow never to wear again. (Happily for them, this is not a problem for my 3 bridesmaids who chose their own gowns with the only guidelines being floor length and black, as pictured here, captured by my amazing photographer, Kim Cousins.)

For those not fortunate enough to be able to select their own frock for the occasion, there are many ways to update your bridesmaid dress in an effort to establish your own style and get the most out of the money you've spent pleasing your now married friend. I myself am now the proud owner of a handful of the standard, strapless issued numbers that often find themselves banished to the depths of the closet. Though I have yet to wear one such dress (above the knee, pockets, full skirt, fitted bodice, in fuchsia) I have already prepared the revival. At Ann Taylor, I found the perfect wide, black patent wrap belt to cinch the waist and add flair (think of the pink Oscar de la Renta party dress that Carrie Bradshaw wore to the ballet with Alexander Petrovsky when she fainted over his overly romantic gestures and they instead ended up at McDonald's).

Another method of revival is a trip to the tailor. That below the knee number that makes you look more like a modest librarian than a hot party goer can easily be transformed with a new hemline, about 5 inches north of where it currently falls. Or if the strapless aspect is just not for you, find a coordinating fabric at a store and have the tailor sew in thin straps (think of black patent, dark satin, or any other fabric, it doesn't need to match, just coordinate).

As for my own wedding dress, I plan to dye it slate gray and rock it to a black tie affair in the future (minus the chiffon train). I was thinking ahead when dropping that kind of money.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Happy Anniversary

Of all the prime time hours clogged by reality shows, there is one 60 minute period Friday nights where we can still blissfully find one of television's long time stalwarts, Law & Order. This season marks the show's 20th anniversary, and what better way to celebrate than with a photo spread in Harper's Bazaar titled "Crimes of Fashion." (This piece finally broke the tie between Harper's and Lucky for the prize of being called my favorite magazine.)

Iconic figures like Sam Waterston (D.A. Jack McCoy), Jeremy Sisto, Anthony Anderson and S. Epatha Merkerson pose with a 'model murderess' who is killing women for their to die for fashions. Flipping through the 9 page spread reads almost like a film noir in tone and style. (I mean, a red Valentino dress is nearly worth committing a felony for, no?)

The piece is timely not only for the show's 20th season, but also for the large amount of fashion related litigation that lawyers are currently duking out. Since the industry is being decimated daily by economic peril (making it an unfortunate time to be seeking a job in fashion for me), law suits over the integrity of what remains have sprung up. Many designers have relied on advice of counsel and framed their suits in terms of trade dress infringement (meaning the overall 'packaging' of the product, which is protected under the Lanham Act). When defending on the grounds of trademark or copyright infringement, designers often fall short of the numerous elements involved in such claims and the inherently subjective nature of fashion. I agree that a certain amount of competition should not be impeded by overly restrictive regulation, but a fair fight is the only kind I can support.

I'm sure Sam Waterston would not stand for fake Louis Vuittons hidden like roaches in the crevices of Canal Street.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

So Long Suits

The age of the suit is dying a slow but deliberate death. While I love the menswear pieces made feminine by Yves Saint Laurent, I do not love the customary, stuffy, predictable suit. It’s a misconception that a standard suit connotes professionalism. This month’s Elle profiled Susan McEvoy, a senior analyst at a New York City investment firm, who wears anything but the drab suit when visiting clients and managing millions. McEvoy notes she needs to be professional, but she “can do it with personality”. Rather than dull poly-blend and acetate, McEvoy opts for Chanel jackets, de la Renta shifts, and Carolina Herrera dresses.

I have an interview today (my second on the road to finding the illusive post-law school job) and I will be sporting a twist on the classic, appropriate staple (but since I cannot finance de la Renta or Chanel, I turn to my professional 'go to's', Ann Taylor and J.Crew). I don’t recommend being so unconventional as to show up for a consultation in 80’s inspired neon with shoulder pads and studded leather. But I do suggest stepping to the left of perfunctory, and flirting with different fabrics, textures, and colors. For today’s interview I have selected a gray wool blend blazer with deep sapphire velvet trim, paired against a golden silk camisole with a draped neck (which I scored on sale, always a plus). Below I’ve chosen navy ankle length J.Crew pants and brown, suede ankle booties. The blazer is a standard, safe silhouette but the trim and color give it edge. The slacks are sleek, and the length is modern. The booties are of the moment (not a trait I necessarily value, but I happen to love the look) and give a touch of ruggedness to the otherwise simple ensemble. I also love the mix of textures (nubby wool, refined wool, velvet, suede).

The next occasion you feel calls for your most professional face, turn around, take off the suit jacket, and replace it with something that whispers your style to those near by with subtle words of color and hints of personality.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Making the cut

For as long as I can remember, I have been fixated on short hair (despite the fact that for 75% of my life, I have worn my hair long). My best friend Rebecca sports an uber chic, crowd stopping crop that never fails to illicit compliments from those who happen to spot her.

But what is it that stops so many women in their 20's from taking the plunge? Many feel that men favor long locks, while others prefer the security of their tresses down their back and around their shoulders. But when the economy dipped, women headed to the salon. Not for expense dye jobs or expertly hand painted highlights, but for major cuts. (To me this is counter intuitive, since short hair requires more maintenance than long in the form of frequent trips to the salon for trims and reshaping. But so many decisions are emotional and not practical.)

Yesterday I finally headed to the salon and got a chop. Granted, I had fleeting dreams of truly cutting it all off (a la Natalie Portman in V for Vendetta), but I settled on a more realistic (and less tear provoking) first step. My hair is thick, wavy, often unruly, and must be coaxed into place by the Chi flat iron. It is not 'get up and go' hair. Though I spend endless time choosing my outfits, I detest spending any amount of time on my hair (a nice break for my Husband). At Bumble and Bumble uptown, I felt as excited as a school girl with a crush as I watched each strand fall to the cement floor. My stylist used nothing but a razor, and lightened my load of locks with each flick of her wrist. The end result is a bob of sorts, with short, choppy texture throughout. (I can count the friends on my right hand that will love it, and the friends on my left hand who will struggle to say something positive when they see me.) As Christine said, a new hair cut is a fabulous new accessory that freshens up every outfit you pair it with. Don't be afraid if you've ever dreamed of a cropped, edgy style. Please yourself first (even if this requires Ugg boots).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Flattery will get you everywhere

Can you think back to the biggest compliment you ever received? Many people value their intelligence, others their humor, some their beauty. But for me, I feel great flattery when someone recognizes my ability to merchandise. Whether its a friend's party ensemble, my mother's look for a Fall Hamptons wedding, a room, or my own outfit, I take great care in the details. (A compliment that hit home and still brightens a bad day was when my college sorority sister Christine, a girl who does not mince words, told me she loves to read my blog because it's 'like a little dose of Christina everyday.') Only recently I told my Husband which of his early words to me several years ago hold this prestige.

After the first time he visited my apartment (my very first apartment in Manhattan mind you) my Husband commented to his friend on the decor, and was overly impressed by the interior that greeted him upon his ascent to the 13th floor of the Buchannan. (This was a guy who, at the time, believed the term 'interior design' constituted a foreign language, and was content to reside in a basement apartment in Connecticut, complete with faux wood paneling and furniture reminiscent of an upscale nursing home.) The space was barely 300 square feet, but not an inch of the studio was unattended to. For a budget of about $1,500 I manged to furnish the apartment, floor to ceiling, in white and black wood with accents of cranberry from Pier 1 and Crate and Barrel.

Unfortunately, after our premarital consolidation 2 years ago, many of my prized pieces found their way to good will (thanks to the lack of abundant space offered by the City, and that timeless institution known as compromise). Now that we have embarked on the second phase of our lives together, I am eager to commence the inevitable apartment purge and new furniture binge. Purchase number 1 was a flat screen TV where What Not To Wear will come in crisp and clear, like a freshly pressed white cotton button down (as will the endless football games my Husband will fight me for the remote to watch). Next on the wish list is this supple sofa, this dining set (so we can host our friends and use all those wonderful wedding gifts) and this TV stand to display our fabulous new gadget. We were lucky to receive all the bedding from the Donna Karen Essentials collection, (in pewter) and can't wait to actually use it to update and modernize our sleeping space (yes, our 'sleeping space' since we do not have an actual bedroom. The joys of City living on one salary!) The final product will be a comprehensive scheme of mahogany, beige, brown and pewter (masculine in color, yet soft in fabric choice and shapes). Hopefully at the end of this project, the first people to grace our sanctuary will offer sentiments similar to my Husband's first glimpse into my world that seemed to reel him in for life.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Criminal Sanctions

While sitting in the gallery of the appellate division courthouse yesterday watching my Husband in oral argument, I could hardly keep my attention on the proceedings. I was drowning in a sea of dark polyester and PVC shoes.

The center of the room housed the lawyers, present to argue their case in front of the esteemed panel of judges. On the sides sat the onlookers, who, like me, were in attendance for moral support. (I am still not sure which motley crew committed the greater offense.)

I of course understand the need for conservative dressing in such situations. But people commonly misconstrue conservative to equate with somber, sullen, and dreary (and inevitably, polyester). This is not the case. There are plenty of ways to remain appropriately attired while not snuffing out every creative spark that lies within. Take the classic skirt suit. Rather than going the safe route with a black, boxy blazer and an a-line skirt, opt for a slim, cropped fit with a coordinating pencil skirt in a moderate hue more exciting than black, such as gray heather or pewter. Another nice option is the ultra classic yet always modern shift dress. Fabrics such as stretch fine flannel, wool twill, wool gabardine, and crepe offer a refreshing alternative to drab poly blend, and will last longer (in addition to giving others the impression that you are a lawyer by day, fashionista by night).

If you have the pleasure of attending a court hearing or trial as an observer, dressing as if you leaped from bed, then dragged yourself to the courthouse by the tail pipe of a bus is not the best tactic. I don't mean to harp on the Uggs, but they are certainly not appropriate for the courtroom (unless your strategy is to ensure the attorney or client you are present to support looses his appeal). The girl seated to my right sported the famous Uggs, gray leggings, a torn hot pink cardigan, a messy ponytail, and a t-shirt. While I appreciate the splash of color, I can hardly applaud her ensemble. Ditch the leggings and elephant feet, and the cardigan could have been mended then paired with fitted denim or slacks for a totally acceptable (even stylish) product. By time my Husband took his place at the podium I was able to focus for 10 minutes on his point (it helped that he was dressed in a fine wool, blue pinstripe suit with classic-yet-edgy patterned Brooks Brothers tie and contrasting, yet complimentary, patterned shirt. A breath of fresh air.)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Buyer's Remorse

When I go out to a bar, a common problem I encounter is indecision over the drink menu. Cabernet, chardonnay, or Campari and soda? (Blame the latter on my mother who has been drinking it since I was old enough to sit at the dinner table.) Once my selection arrives and I take a few sips, I often glance at my Husband, slight frown, and inform him that I should have ordered one of the runners up.

In the drink context this problem is easily cured (finish the cocktail you selected, then order the one you wish you had started with, assuming its happy hour and the drinks are 2 for 1 or some other discount incentive is in place). But in the fashion realm, this quandary can be far murkier (and costly). Yesterday while on the phone with a friend, she was having doubts about a recent purchase she made (full price no less). She liked the sweater, but did she really need it? And what about a pair of cords from J.Crew she also bought, only to come home and realize she had 2 other pairs just like them. Were those to stay or march back to their womb in the sale piles?

Buyer's remorse in retail is a pervasive affliction that can be easily avoided. When I spy a luscious silk blouse calling out to me from the sale rack, the first thing I do is check the signage around the rack. Is there an additional percentage off the sale price? ('POS' as its called in the biz) This factor definitely weighs in favor of purchase. Next, I hold the item out, have a good long look at it to check for defects (an additional 10% off will be granted for any item in need of a slight repair). If the piece were not on sale, would I be likely to snatch it off the full price rack for similar admiration? My entire wardrobe then flashes to mind, and I quickly catalogue all items in the same genre as the item I'm admiring like a rare gem. If it fits in, while at the same time not being duplicative, I'll place the item under my arm and continue through the store while still contemplating my decision to buy. If by the end of my casing the whole store I have yet to develop ambivalence, I head for the register. If, on the other hand, I've begun to think of where I'll actually wear my new find, how those sleeves will really fit under a blazer, or how that shade of teal will look against a range of denim, I will veer back toward the sale rack to return the fallen star back to its friends. (Yesterday at Ann Taylor, I left feeling rather victorious with a silk top, a sweater and a silk dress for a grand total of $53. No regrets thus far.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Letting Go

Flipping through the October Harper's Bazaar in an attempt to catch up on all the magazine reading I've missed while away, I came across an article titled "Growing Into & Out Of Fashion" and was intrigued. Rita Wilson discusses a closet purge in which she debates her changing tastes and decides there are some things that she just can't let go of, regardless of how dated they may be.

Since the weather has finally dipped into the tweed-wearing 60's, I took Rita's words to heart as I began the daunting task of switching my closet from summer to fall. (I say daunting because I live in a studio apartment, where one season at a time has the luxury of living in the double door closet, while the other seasons must cower in cedar lined garment bags under the bed, waiting for their day in the sun.) Rita Wilson admitted that among the pieces she can't part with are those with 'sparkle', as in blinged out t-shirts and dresses (the word 'bedazzled' was even used). I admire a woman that knows what she likes and isn't afraid to rock it, regardless of its popularity. (Also notable is the ability to recognize the humor in such taste, rather than believing that the look is universally flattering and timeless. Maybe Rita Wilson can have a chat with those who insist that Uggs and spandex are fashionable.)

So I stood in front of the open doors, parted like the sea, to reveal a season's worth of silk tops, airy dresses, wedge sandals and linen blend pants. All of it was neatly folded between tissue and laid to hibernate for the next 9 months. As the winter/fall bags emerged from the depths under the bed, the more perplexing questions arose. Though I've been in the City for 5 years, thick, woolly remnants of my years spent at Colgate University in Central New York still lurk in the piles. Always loyal to those items I once loved, I have a hard time letting go. But this time, in the spirit of growth (and lack of space) I decided to say goodbye to the chunky knits with funnel necks and oversize buttons, showing signs of fatigue with large pilled nubbs under arms and along hems. For the thin, 12 gauge cashmere cardigans in delicious shades of candy that are forever fresh, I cleared space in the cedar lined hanging shelves where they could rest like the queens they are. (A tip I picked up from Lucky Magazine: if any wool sweaters appear to have moth holes after a season of storage, place them in the freezer overnight to kill any lingering larva, then have the holes repaired by the dry cleaner. Dry cleaning alone will not kill larva, so the freezer is key. I did this last night, and realized I forgot to mention it to my Husband when I heard a loud 'what the hell?' ring from the kitchen as he was going for some ice cubes for his martini. Oops.)

Perhaps if I had a closet the size of Rita Wilson's, I could afford to hold on to those old nubby friends, but in the age of studio, Good Will benefits.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Flying Ugly

I finally understand the horrid reputation that flying has earned. As if the excruciating amount of time spent waiting, attitudes of flight staff, and ferocious smells of the vile food court were not enough, I counted exactly 5 people on a flight of about 50 dressed decently enough to leave the house.

Granted I haven't flown in several years (the life of a law student does not afford one the time or funds for travel to anywhere other than a parent's house on Long Island for spring break) but I don't remember the gloom of one's bedroom following them to the airport from my previous experience. Even when I was in college and jetting off to such fabulous destinations as Cancun at the retched hour of 6 am, my friends and I managed coordinating ensembles (consisting mainly of sorority sweatshirts, polo shirts, and jeans, but they at least matched). Somewhere between my last vacation about 5 years ago and my honeymoon last week, the sloth movement seems to have moved in and swallowed the population whole.

I saw a plethora of shame. Ugg boots were rampant, as were spandex, actual pajama pants (the plaid flannel kind that I was unaware people still wore past the age of 21), oversize sweatshirts (that could better be described as house coats), and fanny packs. (We won't discuss fanny packs. That is an entire blog in and of itself. My Husband looked immediately at my face when the first one waddled by us, and my expression was sufficient for comment on the matter.) These items may not sound as offensive as I found them to be, but keep in mind the mean age of these travelers was about 45-50. We are not talking about green college kids who can get away with far more. These are full fledged adults. They have jobs. They raise children. They set examples.

As if this heinous parade was not enough, we enjoyed the pleasant screams of a 2 year old boy who insisted on de-robing himself in flight. After a quick glance at his parents dressed in polyester pants that screeched a unmelodious 'swish' each time they moved, I agreed with the child's decision that no clothes were better than what they had chosen for him.