December 28, 2009

Haul Out the Holly

Happy Holidays everyone! Just a quick Christmas weekend outfits post before I regale you with crass displays of loot indicative of only the most spoiled among those on Santa's nice list.

My outfit of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Christmas Evening was the Marc by Marc Jacobs Peacock Paisley dress I've coveted since first trying it on in the Lexington Avenue Bloomingdales back in October. It was included in the Barney's Second Cut Designer Sale and although the website was sold out, I found it in my size in one of the Coop stores. They shipped it over night at no extra cost!

Chris and I did a lot of running around to see all the people who we are fortunate enough to call family in that 24 hour time period and this dress kept me in a festive mood the entire time. The saturated, colorfully printed wool fabric was snuggly enough for the chilly weather. I paired it with Nine West shoes and a Miu Miu patent navy bag I topped it off with my Tibi ruffle coat.

I wore this Moulinette Souers dress from Anthropologie to pre-holiday parties. But for visiting family this week, I paired it with my new Twg Serena ruffle cardigan.

For an after Christmas show in a smokey bar, I opted to wear machine washable clothing since smoke is so penetrative to fabrics. I selected a horse printed dress from H&M paired with a blue cardigan.
It is difficult to see the details of this outfit but I am wearing gray tights and Tory Burch Lee Lee Reva Flats. I have to come up with something for New Years, now.

December 23, 2009

Fashionism Secret Santa Haul

I am a member at a fantastic fashion, style, and shopping community called and every year we conduct via Elfster a secret gift exchange. This year I was excited to draw one of my favorite posters whose knowledge of film, particularly from the studio system era, is vast. I decided to send her some magnets with mini film posters on them.

I picked Joan Fontaine because I adore her and knew my film buff secret santa draw did too! Rebecca, Jane Eyre, and Suspicion are fantastic films. I haven't seen September Affair, Until They Sail, or Blond Cheat but will put them in my queue. I also picked out some warm, knitted slipper socks with a snow flake on them, some Ghirardelli Premium Chocolates, and black leather gloves in her size. The gift was well received. And I got my own gift a few days later!

I promptly opened each beautifully wrapped component to become even more thrilled than I was just to receive a package in the first place!

I found a bunch of edible and inedible treats for me to enjoy over the holiday! I was thrilled to try Lipstick Queen's "Black Tie Optional" sheer matte black lip color. It was tucked into the adorable pink pail. Natural nail polish by Zoya has become a fast favorite since I first tried them a few months ago. The zip pouch they came in was too cute! To top it off, Vosges' Gogi Bar, Cadbury Fruit & Nut Chocolate Bar, and peppermint stirrers were the sweetest icing on my gift cake!

Are you giving or receiving any secret gifts this month?

December 18, 2009

Musings on Material Culture as we come upon a Merrily Material Holiday

We are in the thick of the holiday season and so I've been thinking about the roles one's material objects play in the fabric of life (for lack of better pun). December is often a reflective time, as the days become shorter, and the weather colder. Pangs of melancholia are common during the holidays and into the New Year, as one revisits half-finished lists of goals, assessing achievements against ambitious resolutions from 12 months prior. Coupled with the complexity and occasional amnesia of nostalgia, memories from fiction and reality overwhelm me this time of year. I confront the bittersweetness in knowing my holiday-specific, childlike anticipation will only be a shadow of what it was when I used to stay up late, hoping to hear Santa. The holidays present a mixed bag of emotions for many, thus elevating the significance of rituals, traditions, and material goods.

For better or worse, my memories of the holidays (and in general) are often tied intrinsically to the ensembles of garments that outfitted me. I can describe in detail my "Christmas dresses" for every year of grade school. And today, when I thumb through my closet, (which by the way is from where my new header  came), I see not just clothes but thick autobiographical details of their acquisitions and occasions. The muted orange velvet jumper is no longer merely 'that Anthropologie dress I scored for a song on ebay.' Material and personal histories have transformed it into 'the dress I wore a year ago when Chris proposed to me in the snow.'

As frivolous and vapid my consumption likely reads on the surface, I am certain that material culture is rich with meaning, symbolic value, and contextualities for just about everyone who would read this little blog. Whenever it has been tempting to dismiss my desire to participate in commodity fetishization, I've found comfort in recognizing that for better or worse, stuff matters. It is certainly not all that matters. But as an academic, sometimes I need reassurance that this hobby (that is admittedly so silly and indulgent) has meaning.

I can tell you exactly from where each piece of furniture in my home came. I can tell you exactly from when each band represented in my record collection impacted my life. I can tell you exactly from who each ornament on my tree was gifted. And with each inanimate object come memories and stories of the people, places, and times of my life. I have spent enough energy and time writing my dissertation (for which I will wrap another major section this week!) as I have justifying a lifetime of interest in things to myself. And for this next year, I resolve to continue my intellectual and critical curiosities about things. And simultaneously to try my best to take my interest in stuff less seriously. That apparently begins by displaying somewhat crass photographs of my obscenely tiny, but very well appointed dress closet.

December 16, 2009

Last minute gift ideas!

I'm done with my holiday shopping but if I wasn't and I had a few people left on Santa's "nice" list, I'd consider a few of these options.

My mom has been thumbing silk scarves everywhere she goes, according to my sister. I would consider tracking down some discounted Missoni silk prints at Filene's Basement or Loehmanns.

I know pajamas can be regarded by some as a cop out gift, but if you find especially CUTE PJ's for cheap, they are sure to be well received! Personally, I love any reason to upgrade and update my daily eveningwear. Right now, Old Navy has discounted their holiday pajama bottoms to $7 a pair! And if you buy something small today, they'll give you $5 Old Navy Bucks to use between December 20-24th!

If you live near TJ Maxx or Marshalls, I've noticed a large volume of PJ Salvage Pajama sets. The prints are ADORABLE, the fabrics are extra soft, and the prices are significantly reduced from their normally hefty retail.

In my recent browsing, I've spotted both the above Cupcake Print (a Liz Lemon favorite shown on 30 Rock!) and the fantastic "Mod Dog" print marked down from $60-ish (which is NUTS for pjs, in my opinion) to $25.

In honor of Nine's recent plethora of Golden Globe nominations, you could consider gifting the Criterion dvd of the beautiful masterpiece metafilm, 8 1/2. Fellini's heavily stylized, possibly autobiographical work inspired the book that inspired the play that inspired the new newly nominated, and soon to be released film.

The eyewear alone is enough to provoke a lifetime of aesthetic inspiration for its recipient. But choose among giftees who already wear glasses, or else you'd risk enabling them to fall prey to the resurgence of the laughably lame "fake glasses" trend.

If you are stumped for fragrant ideas, Marc Jacobs' newest offering, Lola, comes in an exceptionally pretty bottle and smells, among other notes, like grapefruit!

Recently, Ulta mailed out one time use 20% off coupons that one can use on almost everything in the store/website which makes the price more reasonable. AND they will give you a free robe as a gift with any fragrance purchase over $35.

If you want to give a lighthearted but sure to be beloved gift, consider one of my favorite, and I would argue (despite the half hearted nod from Sex and the City: The Movie), highly underrated, holiday films! Minneli's MGM musical, Meet Me In St. Louis!

Dry eyes are hard to come by, the moment Garland starts crooning, "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas."

For a slightly darker gift idea, for those in your life for whom madcap musical romps just wouldn't work, consider lightening the murky mood of Cormac McCarthy's The Road with a humorously themed survivalist gift basket containing batteries, flashlights, matches, canned goods, and a tarp.

It should bring a chuckle to even the most adamant of doomsday-predictors in your life!

Thoughtfully selected artwork from Etsy is another idea to ponder but act quick for this, since they'd need to ship to you in time!

I'd buy this Pittsburgh neighborhood map print from seller, "HotDogCity" for my local or no longer local Pittsburgh pals!

Finally, if you just hit the Saks Mystery Money lottery, and are stumped for what to buy your pal, Jesspgh, consider this Marc by Marc Jacobs Peacock Paisley dress!

Just kidding!! That gift is far too extravagant for me to request from anyone! But it will be mine. Even though it is selling out all over the place. Oh yes, it will be mine. And hopefully at 70% off, so that the price isn't obscene. :)

Happy Holidays!

Leifsdottir Bohemian Toss Dress Review

I first saw the lovely, purple, silk dress in "Bohemian Toss" print by Leifsdottir at Bloomingdales in Chicago.
I didn't bother trying it on because as much as I adore many of the pieces designed by this Anthropologie/Urban Outfitters-owned line, the prices are usually obscene. And in my opinion this dress was no exception, for the quality of garment you receive. While the fabrics and prints from Leifsdottir are lovely, and their special, whimsical details come in hefty supply, it just is not a good value for what you get. That is, unless you find it on sale! And I did. I found it on sale in early December, on Bloomingdales' website. And with two additional % off coupons stacked on top of free shipping, the dress became 60% below retail.

Here lies the dilemma. At 60% below retail I am still not convinced this dress is right for me. What I missed out on by NOT trying it on in store, was knowledge of fit. This dress runs small and SHORT. This is the size 10:
I am usually an 8 or 10 in Leifsdottir dresses. But in "Bohemian Toss," I wished I had ordered the 12. I am only 5'3 and the handkerchief hemline is structured so that the front and back views are shorter than the sides. This dress fails my "sit test" unless I am wearing opaque hosiery, making it a spendy seasonal number, rather than a year round option. A seasonal designation hurts the dress' value since I won't be able to get as much mileage out of it in warm, tightsless months.

Furthermore, as pretty as the print is, and as saturated and perfect the hue of purple silk, something about this dress didn't seem special enough to keep. I think I am going to send it back this week. Can I get some opinions?

December 15, 2009

Seasonal Dressing for the Holidays

In the last week or so, I spent a bit of time going to dinners, attending holiday gatherings, and generally having plenty of reason to dress up. But because I'd be seeing different people in different contexts, I figured I could tweak the details and be a monogamous dresser. Here's is a snapshot of two outfits I assembled from my closet:

Burlapp "Bold Boutonnière" Dress from Anthropologie sale
Aqua cashmere cardigan from Bloomingdales
Spanx tights from Nordstrom
Banana Republic necklace
Marc Jacobs Blake in quilted Mouse leather
Nine West "Bounced" mary jane pumps in wine from sale

Marc by Marc Jacobs "Kaleigh" dress in gold from ebay
Spanx tights in heathered charcoal from Nordstrom Rack
Marc by Marc Jacobs captoe pumps in blue suede with burgundy leather accents (similar to these) from ebay

I carried the Blake with this outfit too though it isn't pictured. Speck's favorite non-human related snuggle spot is near my purses.

I assume this is because she knows I take them with me when I leave and she wants to ensure I don't forget her!

I've got a few more recent outfits to post but will save them for later this week. What have you been wearing to your holiday parties and gatherings?

December 11, 2009

Asymmetrical Ruffles Abound in Fall 2009

I spent a somewhat embarrassing amount of time stalking this Tibi ruffle coat (blogged yesterday).

(Tibi Fall 2009)
And in the process I came upon some pieces with similar aesthetics that I considered as fantastic substitutes in case the coat I really wanted sold out along the way.
This Loeffler Randall "Cascading Ruffle Coat" is stunning. I wish I could have seen it in person. The futuristic and edgy vibe would have certainly softened any bittersweet sense of compromise.

The structured details of this McQ asymmetrical collar coat (20% off on Zappos right now) and the black color option would also be a fantastic substitute for the Tibi jacket.

This TWG cashmere ruffle cardigan was in the running for obvious reasons.

But my favorite piece of all the asymmetrical ruffled options of 2009 is actually neither ruffled nor from 2009 at all. I've longed for this Chloé Fall 2008 coat for... just over a year now. And I selected the Tibi coat hoping it would stave my desires for what in this case is a far too spendy but in my opinion, glorious and unique topper.
Perhaps it is hard to see a connection between the vibe of this coat with what I ultimately bought. But in my mind the niches they fill are similar. The biggest difference (other than price point, since Chloé is decidedly out of the range of my personal budget) is that I can pair gray with a broader range of neutral basics than black. I know the rules about navy and black no longer apply... but occasionally, at least in my opinion specific blues just won't work with black the way they do charcoal.

So, what do you think of these options and the selection I ultimately made?

December 10, 2009

Tibi Asymmetrical Ruffle Wool Coat: Review and Fit Guide

When I was in New York in October, I first spotted this coat by Tibi which has become over the last year or so, one of my favorite contemporary lines. The 60s inspired prints, beautiful attention to details, and quality fabrics are right up my alley but for some reason it is fairly easy to find items on major sale or discounted deeply on ebay. It is a brand that doesn't really retain resale value so I have scored some insane deals on cute dresses and skirts. Despite knowing this, I paid more than I usually would have (in terms of discount %) for this coat.

There were a few reasons I convinced myself to strike earlier in the sale cycle than usual. I fell in love with it in NYC and often looked longingly at its inventory page on the website. It filled a gap in my coat collection (which I admit is becoming grotesquely expansive), in terms of style, weight, and versatility. And the only place that carried it (as far as I could tell, and I searched pretty thoroughly) was Saks Fifth Avenue. I knew that fall 2009 stock levels were lower than usual due to the hard lessons they learned the year prior about consumer's luxury spending patterns during a recession. So once it sold out, it could possible actually be gone, unlike collections from last year which will populate, Bluefly, ebay, and the sample sale websites (Gilt, RueLaLa, etc.) ad infinitum.

As soon as it went 40% off during triple points I decided to strike. But I was confused about sizes. Despite the comfortable feel, the 6 I tried on made me nervous. I am rarely a 6 in "fit and flare" shaped dresses, let alone something cut straight. The only other size, in store was a 10 that ran very large. So I ordered an 8 to be delivered to my local store assuming it had to be right. If not it would already be at the store in case I needed to return.

And I did need to return it. It was pretty but it ran big. When I tried to style an outfit with it open, it looked capelike. I found myself regretting not ordering the 6.

But on Thanksgiving Day they restocked the website and released a $100 off code so I got it in the proper size at an even lower price.

Somehow it fits better than the original 6 pictured, that I tried on in NYC. Maybe it depends on how you layer underneath it? I am happy because I paid below 50% of retail (which is still not as discounted as I prefer but the stock levels frightened me) for something I think will last me years and years. I know "ruffles" as a trend might seem fleeting but for me personally, asymmetry and feminine whimsical details will continue to be a part of my aesthetic, regardless of trends.

Did anyone score anything exciting around the Thanksgiving and post-Thanksgiving sales?

December 03, 2009

Swatch Body and Soul YAS100G

Although I did little more than window shopping while browsing the retail merchants of Chicago, I did manage to pick up something small while I was traveling. It just wasn't in Chicago. The Swatch Store at the Pittsburgh International Airport was having a promotion and I selected the Body and Soul skeleton watch that is automatic (so it will never need batteries which is pretty neat)!

I do wish the bezel didn't say anything. But otherwise I really love that you can see the parts of the watch as it works to keep time. It might technically be a men's watch but I liked the larger size and thought it would be unisex and genderless enough for me to wear regularly. Plus, if Chris wants to, he can borrow it!

The Pittsburgh Airport's Swatch store is, according to the salesperson, the only Swatch outpost in the state, so going to the airport which was already exciting enough, has become even more special!


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