Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The week in shopping
Sale of the week: Well, really, the best deal this week is that all clothing and shoe purchases under $110 are tax-free in New York State. So whether you're slumming at Old Navy or scouring the sale racks at Bergdorf's, spend less than $110 clams and save yourself 8.675%.

Because I'm nuts, I'm going to Woodbury Common Premium Outlets on Saturday. Why? For their annual kickass Labor Day Sale. 9/2-9/5; 9-9; 498 Red Apple Ct., Central Valley, NY.

It's right across the street from Cheryl Shops HQ (a.k.a. my apartment) and yet I always forget to shop there, which is a pity, because everything in Darling is, well, darling. And now it's all up to 70% off (originally $65-$495). Through 9/2; 11-8; 1 Horatio St. (at 8th Ave.).

Pretty good deals can be had at Scoop's summer clearance sale--score Matthew Williamson, Michael Kors, Habitual, and more for up to 80% off. Through 9/5; call for store hours; 1273-1277 3rd Ave. (at 73 St.), 532 Broadway (Prince & Spring Sts.), 430 W. 14th St. (at Washington St.).

The store is a bit pricier than the website, but since the Girlshop Boutique is having a sale of up to 70% off, now's your time to score. 11-7 Mon.-Wed., 11-8 Thurs.-Sat., noon-7 Sun.; 819 Washington St. (Little W. 12th & Gansevoort Sts.).

Spend $60 at Benefit and get a free Benetint lip balm when you enter code FGBALM at checkout through 9/5.

And, of course, the Barneys Warehouse Sale is still going on through next Monday.

And of course #2: Lord & Taylor coupons.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Shopping news
All of this info is a few days old, but I'm a bit behind on everything this week, so please bear with me. So, the big news is that Nordstrom bought a stake in Jeffrey, everyone's favorite Meatpacking District store (there's also one in Atlanta), while also hiring Jeffrey Kalinsky, the store's namesake, as a director of designer merchandising. This is seen as a move to up Nordstrom's role in the world of high fashion (to put them on par with, say, Neiman Marcus and Saks) while raising Kalinsky's profile--yay, everyone wins!

Speaking of Nordstrom...I read in this month's W that Nordstrom has long been interested in the Fifth Avenue Lord & Taylor space. Now, since my parent company, Federated, is finalizing their purchase of May department stores, the speculation, according to W, is that Federated is going to have to sell off Lord & Taylor to adhere to antitrust laws. In the process of unloading Lord & Taylor, they can sell that highly lucrative Fifth Avenue store to Nordstrom and voila! we get a Nordstrom in Manhattan. Now, this is all just speculation, but, still, I would be overjoyed if it were to happen.

Finally, I got an email today from Barneys announcing the arrival of the K-189/Co-op private label collaboration in the Co-op stores. For those of you who are out of the loop, Daryl K (who is one of my favorite designers and who has been making a long trek back from oblivion after the evil Pegasus Apparel Group ran her label into the ground) is resurrecting her lower-priced K-189 line as an exclusive collaboration with Barneys Co-op. So, yeah, now it's in stores. Buy all the size 8's and die, bitches.

One more thing: I will be out of town until Tuesday, so everything is going to be a bit out of whack for the next week or two (due to Labor Day weekend as well). Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Website of the week
While I thoroughly enjoy surfing the web for new stuff to feature here at Cheryl Shops, I also like it when people send me suggestions. Sometimes these websites are not at all appropriate (Aboriginal art) or not in English (who knew I had so many fans in Germany?), but sometimes they kick ass. Such is the case with Feng Junk, a new accessories website that, in a word, rocks. Being a new site, Feng Junk has a limited but well-chosen selection of bags and jewelry from such designers as Andrea Brueckner, Dedemetal and Lauren Merkin, and as extra incentive to come back soon, there's a list of designers soon to be added to the site. But in the meantime, you can browse by designer or by category. See something you like? Create a profile, then save the item to your wish list. What's on mine? I've been lusting after this Andrea Brueckner saddle bag ever since I saw my former fave teen queen Lindsay Lohan carrying it. I love this tough-girl Double Bullet necklace from Dedemetal and this Tiered Trio necklace from Emory K. Holiday, a design team that's new to me. This Jessica bag is a recycled, environmentally friendly take on the Gucci horsebit hobo (without the logomania, of course). And I love the entire line of Kismet Jewelry, formerly a private-client business that's now gone public (I learned this from reading the designer blurb, another nice feature of the site). Now, here's the best part: Visit the site through 8/26 and get 25% off your purchase (plus free shipping) when you enter code 3daysale at checkout. But if you miss the sale, fret not: Enter code fall05 for 15% off and free shipping on orders over $150--just for Cheryl Shops readers. How can you thank me? Keep sending those tips!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Cheryl shops...the Prada sample sale
This morning, I finally made it to the Prada sample sale. I always go into this sale with a pretty open mind--much like hitting an outlet mall. You can't go to this sale with a "I hope they have that peacock top" frame of mind, because 1) the current-season stuff always goes in the first day or two, and 2) it's just kind of catch-as-catch-can. If you like fancy cashmere sweaters (the good stuff, not the $89 crap from Lord & Taylor), it's a good place to stock up (more on that later). Also, if you never got around to buying something from a previous collection, it might turn up here. For example, this sale had much merchandise from the "Chinoiserie" collection from two summers ago. The good news is that this year's sale had a lot more Miu Miu than previous years--I tend to prefer Miu Miu to Prada due to its more youthful look and its more Cheryl-friendly prices--and by the time you take 50% off Miu Miu at wholesale, it's like shopping at Banana Republic. Price-wise, that is. There is still a lot of merchandise--pants in all colors, a lot of orange stuff, gorgeous silk mousseline skirts, stiff taffeta minis, and cashmere sweaters galore. There were also a ton of belts--so many that I was too overwhelmed to go through all of them. The shoes were a bit disappointing--pretty much everything left at this point is a platform. (Note to Miuccia: Enough with the platforms.) I managed to find a Prada Sport slip-on sneaker thing, webbed silver with black accents, and I couldn't decide if they were ugly or cool, but I bought them anyway because they were like $45. Bag-wise, if you like satin or exotic skins, you're in luck. Otherwise, not so much. (Keep in mind, though, that Prada, like many luxury houses, makes its money in bags and shoes, so of course it's going to be slim pickings at a sale like this.) Price-wise, most of what I saw was 50% off wholesale, which put the Prada Sport and Miu Miu stuff in the $40-$150 range but the Prada at $150 and up; last year I got five tops for under $200, but this year I had a hard time finding a sweater for less than that. I'm assuming that they'll mark everything down further as the week goes on, so if there are any slots left, bargain hunters, sign up for 'em. In addition to my Spider-Man-if-he-were-silver-instead-of-red shoes, I got a gorgeous fall 2003 Miu Miu silk chiffon skirt (they couldn't find a price for it, so they gave it to me for $50--whee!) and a Miu Miu floppy felt hat (random impulse purchase, but very fall-looking). Overall, not my most successful shopping trip, but still worthwhile. I think.
The week in shopping
Sale of the week: Get there early: Oprah-hatin' Hermes has men's and women's Gaultier-designed ready-to-wear and famed accessories for 40%-60% off. 8/24-8/27; 2-6 Wed., 10-8 Thurs., 10-6 Fri., 10-4 Sat.; Florence Gould Hall, 55 E. 59th St. (5th & Madison).

Get luxe, boho-chic looks at Dosa. 8/26-8/28; 11-6; 394 Broadway (at Walker St.), 6th fl.

East Village lingerie paradise Azaleas has swimwear, lingerie, and clothes from Felina, Cosabella, Vix, and more for up to 70% off. Through 9/5; 1-8, noon-8 Sat., noon-6 Sun., closed Mon.; 223 E. 10th St. (at 1st Ave.).

Lilla P's excellent tees (hey, a rhyme!) are $5-$25 at this cash-only sale. 8/24-8/25; 9-6 Wed., 9-8 Thurs.; 420 W. 14th St. (9th Ave. & Washington St.), ste. 3NW.

While you're in the Meatpacking District, check out adam+eve men’s and women’s undies and clothes for 60%-90% off. 8/24-8/25; 4-8; 450 W. 15th St. (9th Ave. & 10th Aves.), ste. 400.

Score boho-chic jewelry (to go with your boho-chic Dosa duds) at the Cousin Claudine sale--goods are up to 75% off. Through 8/26; 8-6, 8-5:30 Fri.; 228 E. 45th St. (2nd & 3rd Aves.), 2nd fl.

A website after my own heart, La Petite Coquette (known online as mightyflirt.com) is now offering free shipping on all orders. Sweet!

Save up to 75% at Net-A-Porter's super sale extravaganza. The exchange rate is still going to kill you, but it's worth a look.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Cheryl Shops...the Barneys Warehouse Sale
After my little jaunt to the Barneys Warehouse Sale this morning, I came to the conclusion that I am now a pro at shopping this sale. I was in and out in a record 45 minutes, although the merchandise did seem a bit more sparse than usual. (But I guess that's good for Barneys--less product for them to sell at a slim profit.) I always hit the designer racks first, and there was a lot of good stuff--tons of Narcisco Rodriguez, Proenza Schouler, a bit of Balenciaga, some gross Zac Posen stuff, and quite a bit of Boudicca. I found a gorgeous pair of wide-leg Alexander McQueen trousers for a ridiculous $79, but unfortunately they were a bit snug in the waist. (Um, okay, they were so tight I couldn't button them. Let's just say I'm not a 42 in McQueen.) In the regular ready-to-wear racks, there was a ton of Rebecca Taylor stuff that I'd never even seen in the stores, many Marc by Marc Jacobs jackets, some Development pants, quite a bit of Future Classics tops and skirts, some scattered Theory items, and, of course, a lot of private label. The denim bins contained a lot of cropped Diesel jeans, colored Citizens of Humanity jeans, and assorted white jeans. I'm always successful in the knitwear bins; I found a last-winter's Marc by Marc teal and silver Lurex belted cardigan and an adorable tank from Rebecca Taylor that I didn't really need but bought anyway. There were some cool cardigans from Diane von Furstenberg and, again, a lot of private-label cashmere (always a good deal). They also had a bunch of accessories--leather gloves, wallets, knit hats, crocheted ponchos, and wide leather belts, as well as some private-label handbags. There were two tiny bins of lingerie and swimwear; I found a La Cosa tank for a bargain $19 (they had a lot, so run run run!) and a crazy pink boyshort (seriously, neon pink). Now, you're probably wondering about the shoes. Well, instead of saving the best for last, I've saved...the worst for last. I was so disappointed by the shoes, I wanted to cry. I even went back again at the end to see if there was anything I missed. Um, no. Now, I'm a 39, so, for comparison's sake, I looked at other sizes, and of course, there were a ton of cute shoes--an awesome swirly purple Miu Miu Mary Jane, a bejeweled Manolo Blahnik stiletto flip-flop, all manner of Prada Sport sandals and flats, sexy Christian Louboutin heels...Yeah, all you people suck. Of course, even though I was kind of underwhelmed by the sale, I still managed to spend $200 (although normally I spend roughly twice that). And I love my Marc sweater--I'm going to go all-out boho and wear it with my vintage slipdress, a wide belt, and some flat, slouchy boots.

And: It's over now, but I hit the Intermix sale on my way home from work and it was, as I had predicted, a bit of a mess. The fitting room was a zoo, the racks were all mangled, and by the time I left, the workers were just throwing clothes on these long tables, and the shoppers were picking through them like vultures. Still, they had True Religion jeans for $80 (20% off $99) and Chloe trousers for $129--both in my size, amazingly--but I already have enough jeans and Chloe trousers, plus the line was ridiculously long, so I called it a night.

Not enough sample sales for you? Check back Monday night for my review of the Prada sale.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Masstige Watch!
When I heard that Tara Subkoff was designing shoes for Easy Spirit, I was intrigued and confused at the same time. First of all, it was a rather odd pairing: a young avant-garde designer and a stodgy, unsexy shoe company. But at the same time, it kind of makes sense. Of all the companies to go masstige, I never would've pegged Easy Spirit; likewise, of all the designers to go masstige, I wouldn't have thought of Tara Subkoff either. From her debut summer collection, Lucky featured this Grecian-inspired sandal, which I liked, but never got around to buying, probably because I'd never be caught dead in an Easy Spirit store, plus the $150 price tag seemed a bit steep to me. But her new, expanded fall collection is now on the site (it starts shipping at the end of August), and I must say, I'm impressed. I'm intrigued by the Ennis, a round-toe wedge pump with a wraparound buckle, and I really, really want the Elease boot. Now, the latter is very similar to a boot Karl Lagerfeld designed for Chanel a few seasons ago, but it's got a cool wedge heel, which makes it very this-season. Now, the prices are not very masstige-friendly: Flats start at $150, pumps are $295, and boots range from $495 to (ouch!) $695. But, hey, they're made by Easy Spirit, so at least you know your feet will be comfortable--which is more than you can say about that similarly priced pair of Choos you've had your eye on.
Website of the week
The lovely MK (who just treated me to a nice dinner at One--thanks, MK!) is soon headed out to Seattle for her second visit this year. MK raves about the birthplace of grunge so much that I decided to check out Sway & Cake, a Seattle-based website (and, I'm assuming, store). And, judging by the cool mix of jeans, tees, and hot high-heeled shoes, I'm thinking maybe I'd like Seattle too. The site carries a very West Coast selection of cool jeans from True Religion and Joie, punk-rock tees from Grail and Trunk, casual stuff from Primp, dressier (but still casual) tops from Sass & Bide (this site has one of the best selections I've seen) and La Rok, and super-hot metallic bags and shoes. You can shop by designer or browse by category--and the categories have cute names like "Cocktail Hour" and "Flare". They've got a great selection of jackets by 12th Street by Cynthia Vincent, Rebecca Taylor, and Theory, and they've got a lot of casual tees, hoodies, and pants by Primp, which is touted as the next Juicy Couture. And if you're an Allison Burns fan, they've got a ton of her slouchy-chic bags. I have my eye on this very Ashley Olsen 12th Street wrap top; this Flare Kicker cropped pant from Vanitas looks super-comfy and flattering; I love this tunic top from Inhabit, one of my favorite knitwear brands; my inner sexpot is lusting after these metallic python Bettye Muller slingbacks; and I'm definitely ordering this gold coin necklace from new-to-me brand Greenbeads (a reasonable price for nice jewelry, too). So while I'm still full of NYC pride when it comes to fashion, I'm starting to see why MK admires Seattle so much.

Monday, August 15, 2005

The week in shopping
Sale of the week: It's my second-favorite time of year (my favorite is Christmas, in case you were wondering): The Barneys Warehouse Sale starts Thursday, and, as is my tradition, I'll be there at 8 a.m. on opening day. Expect a full report before the weekend. 8/18-9/5; 10-9 weekdays, 10-7 weekends; 255 W. 17th St. (7th & 8th Aves.).

Show up early for the Intermix Warehouse Sale, because I always go late, and by that time, everything's picked over. Still, this round has Catherine Malandrino, See by Chloe, C&C, Miguelina, and more. 8/17-8/18; 9-9; Altman Building, 135 W. 18th St. (6th & 7th Aves.).

Get the boho look for cheap: La Sirena's fun Mexican embroidered dresses, earrings, and home accessories are 30%-50% off. 8/19-8/31; noon-7; 27 E. 3rd St. (2nd & 3rd Aves.).

Treat yourself to some bling--for 30% off--at Soho Gem. 8/20-9/5; 367 W. Broadway (at Broome St.), 780 Madison Ave. (at 66th St.).

The excellent Assets London has Orla Kiely, Vivienne Westwood, Cacharel, and others for up to 80% off. Through 8/31; 10-7 (closed Sun.), 152 Franklin St. (at Hudson).

Get an exotic-print tote with your $85 cosmetics or fragrance purchase at Saks when you enter code SAKSBEAUTY1 at checkout through 8/20.

Save 10% at Target.com when you enter code TCSAVESTENJH at checkout through 8/17.

You know you love Lord & Taylor coupons.

Head to La Petite Coquette (the store or the website) tomorrow for owner Rebecca Apsan's birthday party. Score an additional 20% off sale merchandise when you enter code REB08162005 at checkout on the website; or just go to the store, lazy bum. 51 University Place (9th & 10th Sts.).

And don't forget to register for the Prada sample sale!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Attention, Prada lovers...
It's about that time: The Prada Sample Sale starts next Tuesday. Go to the website to register--yep, you must make a reservation to shop, and if you plan on going with a buddy, he or she must make a reservation also. The first week is full (that's when VIPs get to shop), but I scored a 9 a.m. slot on Monday, August 22nd. Yes, it all sounds a bit type-A, but prices are up to 50% off wholesale (and tend to fall even more as the sale progresses), so, really, you can't complain too much. Expect a full report from yours truly on the 22nd.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Objects of desire
When Tom Ford left Gucci, I worried a bit. After all, this incredibly stylish, sexy man had singlehandedly resurrected an almost-dead brand, turning it into an incredibly popular, desirable (and profitable) luxury house. Earlier this year, Frida Giannini, the post-Ford womenswear designer, resigned, and the accessories designer, Alessandra Facchinetti, was chosen to oversee all womenswear and accessories. So while we have to wait till September to see her first ready-to-wear collection, I think we can all agree that her revival of the "spring flowers" motif was super-successful, and I must say, I'm quite blown away by La Pelle Guccissima, her contribution for fall. Once you get past the tackiness of the name, you can realize the genius of the design--instead of the boring old woven logo canvas, Guccissima features the iconic logo in stamped leather, taking the luxury of the Gucci brand to a new level. The bags come in every shape and size, from ladylike handbag to boho hobo. I think my favorite is the horsebit hobo, a bit pricey at $1565, but you can take comfort in the fact that this is going to be a hard style for Chinatown to rip off. Still, if that's a bit too much of a financial commitment, try a sexy pump for $495, a wallet for $445, or an iPod case for a bargain $215. Get on the waiting lists now, ladies.
Website of the week
Browsing the Agent Provocateur website yesterday, I was reminded that 1) I love lingerie and 2) it's been a long, long time since the Website of the Week was a lingerie site. So, meet All Things Beneath, a site chock full of underthings for fashionistas. They've got old standbys like Cosabella, La Cosa, and Only Hearts and sexy, fancy stuff from Huit, Leigh Bantivoglio, and Roberto Cavalli. But while there are some sheer things, some lacy things, and some silky things, the emphasis here is on camisoles and boy shorts, with a few thongs and several bralettes thrown in (good news, small-busted girls!). And while I'm always going to require a substantial bra, in my old age, I'm definitely moving away from skimpy thongs toward comfy boy shorts. And who doesn't love camis? The site is simply structured: Shop by brand, or check out the maternity, plus size, or sale bin sections. On my shopping list: this bright turquoise boy short by Beija Brazil; this funky Cosmic Swirl boyshort from Fleur't (worth every cent); this comfy-looking lounge pant from Geren Ford; this casually sexy V-Chemise from Lilo; this sexy cotton wrap from Skin, which could double as a dress; and this gorgeous silk cami from Zara Collis, and its matching brief. Spend $125 (not too hard to do) and get free shipping--and since the site's based in NYC, that means you'll have your new goodies super-quick. Of course, it's not quite as quick as walking over to La Petite Coquette, but there's something to be said for shopping for undies in your undies.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The week in shopping
Lauren Merkin's adorable bags are 40%-70% off. 8/9-8/11; 11-7; 231 W. 29th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), ste. 201.

Check out Big Drop's promising-sounding warehouse sale, featuring Rebecca Taylor, Citizens of Humanity, True Religion, and other coveted brands for 50%-80% off. Through 8/14; 11-8, noon-7 Sun.; 1325 3rd Ave. (at 75th St.).

Foley + Corinna's lovely summer selections are 30-75% off. Through 8/14; noon-8 Tue.-Sat., noon-7 Sun.-Mon.; 114 Stanton St. (at Ludlow).

Vivienne Tam's Asian-infulenced line is up to 75% off. 8/12-8/31; noon-7, 11:30-7 Fri., 11:30-7:30 Sat., noon-6 Sun.; 99 Greene St. (Spring & Broome Sts.).

Denim and tees mecca Art of Shop has 7 for all Mankind, Blue Cult, C&C, Theory, Parkvogel and more--jeans are $20-$75 and tees are $10-$25. Cash only. Through 8/14; 11-7; 75 Grand St. (Wooster & Greene Sts.).

Travel bags at the excellent Flight 001 are 30%-70% off. 8/12-9/7; 11-8:30, 11-8 Sat., noon-6 Sun.; 96 Greenwich Ave. (12th & Jane Sts.).

East Village go-to gal Min-k has ladylike dresses, blouses, and bags for 20%-50% off. Through 8/18; 334 E. 11th St. (at 1st Ave.), 219 Mott St.

Alice + Olivia's au courant trousers, blouses, and sweaters are 70% off. 8/10-8/12; 9-6; 80 W. 40th St. (at 6th Ave.), 2nd fl.

Charles Tyrwhitt's crisp shirts--to wear with your bespoke suits--are up to 70% off. 8/11-8/21; 10-7:30 Mon.-Wed.; 10-8 Thurs., 10-6 Sat., noon-5 Sun. (closed Fri.); 377 Madison Ave. (at 46th St.).

Gift mecca Yellow Door is taking an additional 10%-40% off already reduced jewels from Philip Stein Teslar, Penny Preville, and Marco Bicego. Through 8/25; 4 Prince St. (Bowery & Elizabeth Sts.), 1308 Avenue M (at E. 13th St.), Brooklyn.

Agentprovocateur.com's ridiculously sexy lingerie is up to 60% off. Through 8/31.

Select Judith Ripka jewelry is 50%-70% off. Through 8/13; 10-6; 673 Madison Ave. (at 61st St.).

Score John Varvatos clothing, footwear, and accessories for men and women for up to 80% off. Through 8/11; 9-8; 260 5th Ave. (28th & 29th Sts.).

Helen Wang's ladylike clothes are cheap cheap cheap (like 70% off cheap). 8/12-8/13; 9-7; 69 Mercer St. (Broome & Spring Sts.).

Lord & Taylor coupons are back!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Cheryl shops...Spain
So I am back and in one piece after a bit of a skirmish at the Madrid airport (long story short, I was stuck in Madrid; moral of the story: never, ever fly Iberia Airlines). But even while I was sobbing and marooned in a Madrid airport hotel (what's up, Melia Avenida America?), I managed to shop. After all, what else is a girl to do? (Actually, I had to buy underwear because I had run out and god knew how long I was going to be stuck there. But whatever.)

Backing up a bit, our trip started out on a much better foot. We stayed at the Hilton Barcelona, which, lucky for me, was located right smack in the middle of an upscale shopping district. To the left was El Corte Ingles, a gargantuan department store that, MW and I decided, is like Macy's meets Wal-Mart--from the ground floor up, it's like a regular ol' department store, with brand boutiques, a lavish fragrance/cosmetics department, electronics, etc. On the lower level (-1 in Europe, generally), there's usually a supermercado (a supermarket) or, as we encountered in Madrid, a Hipercor, which was literally a Wal-Mart like store with everything from bottled water to patio furniture. Not to mention, most stores have everything from a florist to a pharmacist to a locksmith. Talk about one-stop shopping! To the right of our hotel was L'illa, a huge shopping mall-slash-office building--with a three-level mall (including supermercado, of course). It was at L'illa that we became acquainted with most of Spain's chain stores, the best-known of which is Zara. In Spain, Zara is more omnipresent than the Gap, and the stores are much bigger and (in my opinion) had better stuff. MW and I both dropped several chunks of change there. I'd say the second-most popular chain is Mango, which, rumor has it, is coming to the U.S. (they've already opened several stores in Canada). I bought five tops there for $70--one nice thing about Spain was that everywhere you went, there was a sale (or "rebajas")--none of this clear-out-the-spring-merchandise-in-june-to-make-way-for-fall stuff. There's also Pull & Bear (yes, that's what it's called, amusingly enough), which MW and I decided is like the American Eagle of Spain, and Massimo Dutti, which reminded me of Polo Ralph Lauren (and is Spanish, not Italian). Also popular were the familiar Custo Barcelona, Camper (both of which are Spanish), Miss Sixty, and Diesel (both of which are Italian)--and none of which were more affordable in Spain. Ah, well. I was on vacation. Another good shopping area was the Passeig de Gracia, a Fifth Avenue-like boulevard that stretches from the Barri Gothic (Gothic Quarter) to the Exiample, a businessy district. Along this lovely street, we found everything from El Corte Ingles to the chain stores to Chanel.

In Pamplona and San Sebastian, it was pretty much chain stores, although San Sebastian had some pretty posh little boutiques to cater to all the well-heeled French tourists. It was in San Sebastian that I discovered In Faradis, kind of a Sephora-meets-Ricky's store, where I scored some illegal Elnett hairspray. San Sebastian also has a nice selection of pastry shops, I might add.

In Bilbao, our highly recommended hotel, the Sheraton Bilbao (I'm a Starwood Preferred Plus member, but I might as well have been a princess, the way they treated us), was conveniently located across the street from...a mall! (I swear, I must have some sort of subliminal mall radar.) This one was called Zubiarte and was much less crowded (although a bit smaller) than L'illa. It was here that I finally found a military-influenced jacket that fit (at Zara)--yes, the sizes definitely run much smaller here. Bilbao also has a nice shopping area with an El Corte Ingles and many upscale boutiques, along the Gran Via. It should be noted, however, that pretty much all stores in Spain are closed on Sundays, so while we had time to hit the mall on Saturday (it was open till 11 p.m.--wahoo!), everything else was closed on Sunday. Sadly, shoppers in Spain need a day of rest.

Trend-wise, much of what's popular here is popular in Spain. I saw no cowboy boots, thankfully, but tiered peasant skirts were everywhere (although I did see a lot of girls in minis too), as were the colored rubber bracelets--Lance Armstrong's yellow Livestrong bracelet was the most popular, of course, but I saw all colors out and about. And, of course, the boho look is all the rage. Spanish women aren't as stylish as, say, French women, but they're all thin and they all look like Penelope Cruz, so they have that going for them, which is nice. Refreshingly, the Spanish don't seem to be so gaga over designer bags--I saw a few Louis Vuittons and a Chanel or two, but that was it--no one gave me dirty looks over my Balenciaga knockoff. My only "not so much" moments came when I was looking at jewelry--everything in Spain seemed to be of the "bigger is better" mentality and, well, much of it reminded me of what my mom wore in the '80s. Yeah, not so much.

So, I am back, hundreds of Euros poorer and with a cold, but ready to jump back into the NYC shopping scene. Expect the Week in Shopping tomorrow and other Cheryl Shops regulars to follow.