May 21, 2009

Style Stalking and Hypothetical Shopping

I am obsessed with two See by Chloe and Tibi dresses I tried on months ago at Saks.

They are 40% off, but still too pricey. So I will pass for now. But it got me thinking about something else: How my casual interest in fashion/style/shopping overlaps with my "work."

I am currently researching for my dissertation in archival collections and museum exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution and the National Museum of American History. Next week I wrap things up with visits to the Holocaust Museum, where there is an exhibit about propaganda, the Archives Center Library, where I will say farewell to my advisor, and in the relevant exhibits here at the American History Museum. When working my way through a box containing hundreds and hundreds of documents, I am forced to be patient. I can't be instantly gratified. I can't do a keyword search (though the library catelog allows me to narrow what I need into box numbers). The patience yields an eventual payoff, whether it is the completion of a folder, the discovery of something useful to photocopy or a theoretical breakthrough. And I use a similar approach in my sale stalking/shopping practices. Being patient makes it that much more exhilarating to find a new mark down, a new way to assemble pieces, or a new use for an old favorite.

Although, I wonder if the researcher in me doesn't hurt my bankbook more than help it. Knowing that there are infinite online shopping possibilities, thanks to ebay, boutiques, and department store websites, and that the epic sale schema of late '08 has yet to impact the spring stock, I play the waiting game, knowing that eventually I will probably cave and buy something. I don't *really* need another dress. I don't really need to fill any holes in my well-stocked wardrobe. I am not regularly going to meetings. I don't work in a high stakes setting that requires I am constantly in business casual, business, or even presentable clothing.

Still, I enjoy the waiting game and I enjoy the feeling of concluding the process of hunting and gathering in research and in shopping. I know that I will remember the online locations and check them with regularity, just as I know where the most imminently relevant texts are housed in my university's library. I know that I will view the things I do acquire at a reasonable price to be part of my shopping destiny, just as I know to check for new fellowships, calls for papers, and conference announcements but only a small fraction (if I am lucky) will manage to become part of my CV. Sometimes the disconnects between this materialist hobby and my academic pursuits/career don't seem all that significant.

May 20, 2009

Black and Blue Gray: Variations on a Theme

I know I've been quiet lately. Without reliable wifi at home and without the ability to upload properly rotated photos from my office (no cell reception and no photo editing program), I have limited blog capabilities. But I thank those of you still checking occasionally for updates and hope you will enjoy some of my recent outfits in DC!

It has been chilly here so I have continued to wear tights, which ease the pain of walking everywhere in non-sneaker footwear. I noticed that the last few outfits I've worn are either all shades of navy and blue or all shades of black and brown. Here are some samples.

Shades of Blue and Gray:

Black and Brown separates:

Outfit details.
top left:
Rag and Bone dress
Longchamp tote
Chloe Sunglasses
Hue tights
Swatch watch
Etsy necklace
Burberry jeweled flats

top right:
Urban Outfitters dress
Marc by Marc Jacobs Dr. Q Huge Hillier Hobo
Etsy necklace
Hue tights
Hanky Panky slip (exposed to increase the dress length)
Tory Burch Lee Lee flats

bottom left:
Ann Taylor outlet dress shirt with peter pan collar and white piping
Tibi skirt
Hue tights
Burberry jeweled flats
Balenciaga city (on the ottoman)

bottom right:
lux (from UO) tshirt
Anna Sui for Anthropologie skirt
Spanx tights
Chloe sunglasses
Marc by Marc Jacobs captoe mary jane flats

Speaking of Anthropologie, there is a big sale going on there right now. The Georgetown location is all sale racks in the downstairs section. Not sure if the web sale corresponds to it or not, but they are offering free shipping until September for their yellow card members (not a credit card, just their shopping card).

May 05, 2009

Fast Fashion Frenzy: Breaking My Moratorium on F21 for Headbands

A while ago, when I had to make an unexpected move out of my rental home and eventually into the home I own, I was confronted with a mountain of fast fashion regret. I had piles of barely worn clothes from Forever 21, H&M, Delias, and Gabriel Brothers (which regularly gets overstock from Urban Outfitters, American Apparel, etc.) that seemed hardly worth my time, trouble, and soon-to-be very limited closet space. Instead, I sorted out the garbage, the stuff worthy of donating, and the few pieces worth selling to Avalon (the local Buffalo Exchange type store), and made myself vow to avoid the lure of cheap but short-lived fast fashion thrills.

I rationalized that there were many reasons to make this change. The quality is often lacking in the fabrics, the seaming, the longevity of the silhouettes, etc. The labor practices are dubious at best and downright inhumane at worst. And the stores are so ubiquitous that the pieces are usually instantly recognizable to other fast fashion shoppers.

Still, I occasionally allowed myself to indulge. When I had a gift card or when I found something really interesting, but too trendy to be worth a more significant financial commitment I would turn to fast fashion in a pinch. And I have a few pieces that continue to serve me well. A coat from Zara. A few necklaces from Forever 21. A couple of easy dresses from H&M. I am not opposed to these stores, per se. I just needed to cut down on the volume in my life and in my closet. The fastest way was to cut myself off from these places that encourage gluttonous hording through their reasonable price points.

Until this past weekend I was doing well. It had been almost a year since my self-imposed fast fashion ban. It became surprisingly easy to avoid shopping these stores since I rarely go to malls.

That ended at least in terms of accessory shopping, after deciding I needed to up the level of ridiculous in my everyday outfits. I opted to incorporate Blair Waldorf style headbands into my repertoire after admiring them from afar for a while.

For such a silly, trendy item, I needed to get an inexpensive fast fashion fix. Headbands aren't the place to invest in fine, natural fabrics and high quality. I was surprised by the range of choices available in the store and on the Forever 21 website. Head pieces were in stock for those who wished to only moderately adopt an undeniably silly trend, featuring a tiny barrette-sized bow and for the very bold who, naysayers be damned, happily channel Izzy Blow in their day to day life.

The above are two of the boldest of my five new head pieces. So far the two times I've worn the more modest of the crop (as I need to ease my way into such fussily detailed dressing) they've yielded many compliments and only a handful of strange looks. They aren't for nights when I want to be a wallflower, but they kick up the fun for semi-special and special occasions.

May 04, 2009

Sound of Silence: Going Back to DC

I left for DC on Saturday and am living in the beautiful, historical, and boutique-heavy neighborhood of Georgetown for all of May.

I already bought some small items at the souvenir shop of the museum in which I am a Smithsonian predoctoral research fellow: the newly-renovated National Museum of American History.

Being in DC for a month is good for my brick and mortar shopping habits, as the options are much more vast. But it is bad for online shopping, since I won't really be able to do it while here. I don't have regular access to the internet so my posts will be sporadic until I return to Pittsburgh in June.

Thank you for reading and bearing with me!


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