July 30, 2009

Easier Said Than Done... Not buying til Fall

Since I made my last post I still haven't bought any clothes, shoes, or bags. I did stock up on some underwear and hosiery from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. I justified it because if a key pair of tights developed a hole in the fall I'd kick myself for having to pay full price. And the foundation garments I prefer don't go on sale except for now. Basics are different from continuing the superfluous accumulation of STUFF.

But I haven't bought otherwise. I am trying my best to not buy until Fall, since I don't really like summer clothes anyway, save for one See By Chloé linen dress I bought two sale cycles ago.

It is so simple and I hope to wear it in summers for years.

I have also toyed with the idea of forgoing my usual fall gluttony (since it IS my favorite season) and indulging in just one dress.

This one in particular. I imagine I'd wear it with bittersweet chocolate tights, and burnt orange vintage inspired buckle pumps with a chunky square heel. But it is essentially the more expensive Chloé version of my See by Chloé Trail Print Dress in a different pattern/colorway.

The shape is the same. The sleeves are the same. The exaggerated peter pan seaming near the collar is the same. But the price tag on the Chloé (even seasons removed from its initial debut) is far more extravagant than its diffusion line sister dress. So I guess it isn't meant to be! But I am reminded again of why I need to review what I have before making impulse purchases. More often than not, in doing so I will remember owning something which approximates closely the desired new/new-to-me item.

One thrify way I've avoided shopping for bags is by trading with other fashionable ladies in need of a switch. A woman from The Purse Forum offered me her Marc Jacobs Collection quilted Mouse Gray Blake in exchange for my Marc by Marc Jacobs Elderberry Quinn.

Although my lifestyle is probably better suited for the more casual Quinn and Elderberry is one of my favorite Marc by Marc leather colors of all time, I have also long admired MJ collection Mouse gray. And although I really like the practicality of the MBMJ turnlock line, I am starting to tire of its ubuiquity (though I see far less bags in Pittsburgh than in larger cities). My MJ Venetia (which I sold a while ago) couldn't fit over the shoulders but the Blake can. The retail prices on these bags carry a pretty significant difference (hers cost more, though she got it second hand) but at the end of the trade both of us were happy campers.

How are you managing to avoid shopping? Or are you indulging in the sales?

July 21, 2009

The Irrational Season: On Fiscal Austerity In the Coming Months

This post is peppered (with my tongue at least slightly pressed into my cheek) with items from Net-A-Porter that I would buy for fall 09 if money was no object.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the ideology of consumerism as it relates with notions of class, individuality/rhetoric of choice/agency, and capitalism. I have also been mulling over the volume of stuff I accumulated in just the short time I've lived in the home I own. It has been almost one year since the closing date and somehow I acquired what amounts to an entire wardrobe of clothes, shoes, and bags. Granted many were bought at an 80% discount. Many were financed through selling the old to make way for the new. And all were arguably legitimate upgrades from a wardrobe full of business casual mall fare. But it is still so frivolous.

Coat and dress by Lover

While the rational part of me *knows* that my closet is already amply stocked with clothing and accessories for all seasons, the irrational part of me is preoccupied with the newness, the thrill of scoring a bargain, and that nagging drive for "progress" to occur in some capacity. Progressions can happen in a variety of ways. There are progressions as style evolutions or aesthetic shifts in the way one represents oneself. Such as the decision to select after a series of trials and errors, one particular silhouette that you plan to sport for every formal occasion in your future, or finalizing for the time being just how you will mix and accessorize a particular garment. There are progressions in terms of accumulation. For example, when shopping functions empirically, as one continues to amass quantities of new goods, each piece fills a perceived hole or lack, allowing you to cross from your checklist another "necessity," and each functioning to prove, almost positivistically, one's absolute prowess as a savvy shopper. And there are progressions in the procedural methods one uses to hunt new retail conquests. This reminds me of the first time I lost a dress on ebay to last-minute, sniping bidders. I quickly adjusted my strategies and employed bid sniping services, myself.

Giuseppe Zanotti Studded Flats (from 08)

For all the rational understanding I have about the history of consumer culture (I teach classes on the subject so I've studied it amply), I still cannot seem to distance myself from my own unabashed materialism. Style is intrinsic to one's public identity. And while I am not in a high profile profession, I am certain the way I dress informs the way I am treated by students, colleagues, and supervisors. I've used this as justification for a multitude of indulgences. Truth be told, when I am teaching I often only visit the office a few times a week. I mostly work and write from home. Occasionally I hole up in a coffee shop, but more often than not, the rubber of my closet has very little road surface to hit.

Marc by Marc Jacobs and Anna Sui dresses

Personally and historically, I am in a moment immediately following a social period that embraced materialism and encouraged people to live aspirationally. Many hoped that living aspirationally under capitalism (with all its narratives of self made men and exceptionalism, individuality, and market discipline) would become a self fulfilling prophecy. I am fortunate that Pittsburgh's cost of living is so reasonable, or else I would probably find myself under mountains of debt from my shopping endeavors. The wake of markets that took for granted the social conditions of mass gluttony are still evident in the current spate of sales. Hopeful retail buyers overbought in orders that were made before the economic bottom fell out (as they say). After months of disbelief, I still find myself remarking that "we might never see a sale like this again." At some point, epic sales came to be the norm. While WSJ and NYT articles continue to insist that we should buy as though it is the end of the world, and the fact that we might never see sales like this again might be true since we might never again see stocking patterns that require such epic clearances, that doesn't mean that a person in my financial circumstances (graduate student, home owner, and saving for the future) should buy as though the sky is falling. Just because I can sort of afford it doesn't mean I need it.

As such, this is why I'm not really buying much right now. Despite the sales. Despite that nagging desire for progress. I'm trying my best to enjoy what I have, sell a few handbags to replace my emergency car fund (since I just had an epic car repair), and build a new reserve for my future.

This post was inspired in part by a comment from the lovely Dream Sequins, and the IFB articles about the recession and fashion blogging.

July 16, 2009

More Great Sales On Online Discount Sites!

Yoox recently took an additional cut from their spring/summer season sale. If you use coupon code green@yoox an additional 5% off will be taken from your order total!

There are some amazing deals on Marc by Marc Jacobs and Chloe shoes. And if you're in a financially comfortable place, there are a few gorgeous Prada skirts available for relatively good prices.

Here are some things I really like from the sale, all under $100:

The See By Chloe skirt is on sale for $45!

This funny A.P.C. bib dress is on sale for $91.

Net-A-Porter is offering free shipping on all orders, although they have no sale section at the moment. I wish they'd extend free shipping to The Outnet!

Invite-only Rue La La is having their final sale which includes some amazing deals on Marc by Marc Jacobs, Theory, Shoshanna, M Missoni, Alice+Olivia, Ali Ro, and more! Sadly their servers seem to take a hit any time they have an exceptional sale.

If you can get through, you can score my MBMJ Bow Watch for only $39!

And Gilt is currently selling Rebecca Minkoff bags including the stunning Morning After Clutch! For men, the Steven Alan sale includes some great dress shirts and cute pants.

With all these sales on the horizon, there's little reason not to shop! But I'm having a fiscally austere month or two, to cool off from recent financial indiscretions and snafus (aka perpetually broken car needed to be fixed again). Happy Shopping!

July 15, 2009

Skirting the Issue of Summer Heat

Thus far in Pittsburgh the weather has been exceedingly mild. But in the spirit of seasonal dressing, I've taken to going bare legged, and wearing skirts as often as possible. While I do own a few pairs of shorts, I tend to mostly wear dresses in summer. After picking up some key skirt pieces, I have more options.

I bought the Anna Sui for Anthropologie skirt on the left and the A.P.C. skirt on the right in Georgetown, back in May. Since then, they've been summer staples for me.

I tried on this anthropologie skirt in Georgetown also, but it was too big. So my friend Lilykind from Fashionism.org proxy shopped and found it for me!

I fell in love with a See By Chloe bow skirt but couldn't find it in my size for a reasonable price so I settled for this Juicy Couture number.

Lastly, I didn't get this 3.1 Phillip Lim sailor skirt, but I hope to find it on ebay eventually.

With all of these fantastic skirts, I might need to upgrade my tops. In the meanwhile, I'll keep pairing them with American Apparel tri blend deep v tshirts.

July 01, 2009

Feeling Lucky, Punk!: Trendspotting Studded Accessories

Over the last year or so, the movers and shakers in fashion colluded to resurrect, yet again, aesthetic elements from the punk music subculture. The iconic signifier of choice this time around was the metal, raised stud juxtaposed with leather. While this trend has been around for decades, designers and mass retailers are adding key components that embody sophistication and luxury.

My favorite of the more contemporary punk inspired offerings was the Marc Jacobs winter resort collection from 2007 (I think), which featured the "Sweet Punk" bags. Each bag was named after an icon of 80s punk (Sid, Debbie, Siouxie, etc.).

These bags were pretty rare and had an obscene retail price point so I've never laid my hands on one. But I continue to covet them! This particular photo makes the leather look pretty bad. I've seen nicer, non stock photos on The Purse Forum.

Because I haven't won the lottery and still don't have a time machine, I have settled for other items that pay homage to the subculture of my youth.

I was fortunate to know someone who attended the recent Linea Pelle sample sale in LA. My friend, Sandy (aka Lilykind from Fashionism.org), went with the intent to help out all her far away pals in need of a sophisticated stud fix. And she didn't disappoint! Here is the haul purchased on our behalves:

I bought the black double buckle pyramid stud belt and a double wrap cuff in crimson.

They've already become staple accent accessories in my wardrobe! Thank you so much to Lilykind!

I immediately wanted this Burberry studded watch but knew that the obscene price point would make it an impossibility.

Thankfully, Betsey Johnson must have had the studded watch idea a few seasons ago because I found this style on deep discount at the Nordstrom Rack in Shady Grove, MD.

The yellow gold tone sets it apart from the masculine leather cuffs and studded accoutrement I wore as a teenager. I discovered she also made them in a pewter black and possibly silver. The price point was about 5% of the retail on the Burberry.


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