Monday, October 30, 2006

MasstigeWatch!
Target's newest Go International collection has landed, featuring designs from my former neighbor, Behnaz Sarafpour. (Seriously, I used to live in the same West Village apartment building as her, and after the one time I tried to strike up a conversation with her in the elevator, I think she kind of thought I was a stalker. But I'm not, I swear!) The collection is very "holiday," with a lot of lace, velvet, and jewel tones. Behnaz's style is very feminine--it's a bit too delicate and girly for me, to be honest--but there are a few cute pieces. Here's what I like.

This cropped jacket is very ill-fitting on the model--try not to pay too much attention to that--but the boxy, cropped fit will look great on the tall gals out there. I've found that these collections run small, so to make sure it fits in the bust (um, unlike the model), I'd recommend sizing up.


This satin mini comes in jade, which is a color you don't see very often. I like it, but due to the micro-mini length, I'd wear it with opaque tights. Good for holiday parties, definitely.


I absolutely love this georgette shirt. Not only is it 100% silk (not bad for $30), but it looks like Chanel--and in fact reminds me of a Karl Lagerfeld blouse I own already.


The accessories for this collection are pretty awesome. There are several frame evening bags, but I think I like this brocade purse the best. It looks vintage, which is always a plus.


I got really excited when I saw these elbow-length suede gloves, but upon closer look, they're actually synthetic, not suede. Still, for the vintage-coat-lovers among us, long gloves are a must-have, and they're hard to find at an affordable price.


So, while I'm not as excited about this collection as I was for Paul & Joe, there are definitely some cute pieces. Maybe I'll wear all of them at once and head over to my old building, just for old time's sake...
The week in shopping
Shelly Steffee's awesome, wearable clothes are 60%-80% off at this two-day sale. 11/4-11/5; noon-9 Sat., noon-6 Sun.; 34 Gansevoort St. (Hudson & Greenwich Sts.). (noon–6).

Mara Hoffman's supercute dresses, hoodies, coats and more are 50%-80% off. 11/3-11/5; 10-7 Fri. & Sat., 11-6 Sun.; 181 Orchard St. (Houston & Stanton Sts.).

Score a new coat at the Andrew Marc sample sale--men's, women's and girls' leather coats are up to 60% off. 11/5-11/12; 8-7 weekdays, 10-6 weekends; Penn Plaza Pavilion, 401 7th Ave. (at 33rd St.).

Private-label cashmere sweaters are 25% off at Henri Bendel. 11/4-12/24; 10-8, noon-7; 712 5th Ave. (56th & 57th St.).

Shelly and Renee have a promising-sounding sale, featuring big-ticket designers like Marc Jacobs, Missoni, Blumarine, and more for up to 85% off. 11/2-11/15; 10-6; 140 W. 57th St. (6th & 7th Aves.), 9th fl.

Got a bun in the oven? Get some cute clothes from Cadeau Maternity for $50 and up. 11/2; 10-7; 256 Elizabeth St. (Houston & Prince Sts.).

Fancy British gifts and accessories from Penhaligon's and Kim Seybert are up to 70% off. 11/5-11/7; 9-6:30, 9-5 Wed.; 317 W. 33rd St. (8th & 9th Aves.).

Thursday, October 26, 2006

America's Next Top Model recap
After a several-seasons-long hiatus, Tyra brought back the "sexy episode" on last night's America's Next Top Model. And while the show started out on the right foot with a Tyra-plays-photographer shoot and lessons on how to be sexy by, of all people, Dita von Teese (seriously, how did they get her to be on the show?!?), it quickly went downhill when the models' challenge was to strut down a dining table in G-Unit slutswear while modeling agents had a dinner party. What? Melrose won the challenge, as she's been doing a lot lately, and even though she's kind of annoying, you have to admit she's good. I'm betting she'll be in the top three. Anyway, the show really sank to new depths of disgustingness when, for the main photo shoot, the girls had to pose for a faux bodice-ripper cover with...Fabio. Okay, maybe if the photos were supposed to be campy, I could possibly see it, but the photos were actually supposed to be sexy (since when are bodice-ripper covers actually sexy anyway?), a premise that was vastly unachievable due to the nasty, lecherous presence of Fabio (who's got to be pushing 50 by now--ewww). I had to hide behind a pillow when it was time for him to pose with Anchal, and I think I threw up a little in my mouth when Melrose started to flirt with him. Gross, gross, gross. Seriously, how did they go from Dita von Teese to Fabio in one mere episode? Poor Brooke, a girl so wholesome, I didn't know her kind even existed in this country anymore, had major trouble all throughout the "sexy" episode and ended up getting sent home. Even worse, she had the audacity to mention that that night was her high school graduation--and I think Tyra was going to blow smoke through her nostrils at the mere suggestion that there could be something more important in life than her show. Oh, the nerve, dear Brooke!
I'm having trouble with blogger...
More posts coming tomorrow (hopefully)!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Website of the week
I'm fond of saying that since we New Yorkers don't have cars, we need to carry nice handbags. After all, where else are we going to stash all our stuff? In winter, of course, this statement expands to include coats. I love handbags, but I especially love coats, because when you're out and about for the next five or so months, it's often the first thing people notice about you. In other words, in winter, coats are the ultimate expression of your personal style. (No pressure, right?) Like handbags, however, a good coat can be pretty pricey (if you don't believe me, take a look at, say, Searle's website, where even down jackets run into four figures)--especially if you're like me and you like to buy a new coat every year, which can become a pretty expensive habit. So that's why I like to buy vintage coats--unless they're big-name designer vintage, they tend to cost way less than a new coat, and of all vintage items, coats tend to remain in pretty good condition (probably due to people like me who buy a coat and wear it for only one season). Vintage coats also have that "they don't make 'em like they used to" level of craftsmanship and luxury. But instead of hitting any random vintage store, I suggest Scivago, a website devoted soley to vintage coats from the 1940s to the 1980s. The site has a small but focused collection (just three pages) of coats--everything from no-name trenchcoats to luxe furs. Unlike a lot of vintage sites, the photography is well-presented, and the thumbnail pages include all measurements and a short little description, saving you click-through time. If you're into the mod look (a favorite outerwear look for me), you can totally hit the jackpot here. And I personally believe that wearing fur is a personal choice, but if you're one of those people who makes an exception for vintage fur, there are lots of options.

Despite the styling, this double-breasted coat is both mod and pretty classic. It has a cool chain detail in the back, however, that gives it a unique look.


This awesome coat is faux persian lamb, a.k.a. astrakhan. Vintage faux furs are a million times nicer than new ones (you'd think it would be the opposite, what with new fabric technology and all); I have a faux astrakhan jacket that I get so many compliments on--and people refuse to believe it's fake.


Of course, if you want a totally unique look, you can go for something like this rainbow-striped suede swing coat. I could see Drew Barrymore wearing this.


Okay, so, I own a few fur coats, all of them vintage. I wear them so rarely, however, because I worry that people are going to throw eggs and paint at me and tell me what a horrible person I am (totally ironic, of course, because I'm vegan, well, and I'm not a horrible person, I swear). So, anyway, if I had any balls, I'd buy this sheared mink and leather-inset coat and wear it everyday. It has to be so warm, but unlike so many fur coats, it has a streamlined look so you won't look like one big ball o' fur.


Like buying a coat on eBay (but without the anxious bid-watching), you can pay via Paypal, and your coat will arrive within a few days, via Priority Mail. And with this freezing weather we've been having, that's just soon enough.
Special sale alert!
Cheryl Shops fave Net-a-Porter.com is having a special promotion with 50% off select merchandise now through 9 a.m. Monday morning. Click here to shop the selection--all items are already marked down, so no special code needed. They've got everything from Missoni and Chloe to T-Bags and Tibi, plus it's actual fall merchandise that won't go on permanent sale for a month or two, so shop now! (I, by the way, have my eye on this sexy crocheted Tibi dress, at right.) You're welcome.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The great skinny jeans search: update
Wow, Thurday's post on my skinny jean anxiety drew a record seven comments from everyone from MT in Austin to my sister in the 'burbs. And I'd like to thank everyone for their suggestions. I headed over to Saks after work on Friday and found a somewhat harried salesguy named Bobby who nonetheless humored my request for dark, not-too-tight and not-too-stretchy straight-leg jeans. I tried on Sevens (which used to fit me and no longer do), Paiges (good fit, but run small, and I'm not going to pay $200 to size up), Rock and Republics (eh), AG's (run big but unfortunately give me bubble butt), Siwys (terribly odd-fitting), and Earnest Sewns (these just don't fit well). I tried on a promising-looking pair by Citizens of Humanity (the Ava, I believe), but sadly, they didn't have one left in my size. The runners-up were the Chelsea and the Cigarette, both by Joe's Jeans--the Chelsea is skinner and the Cigarette is more of a straight-leg, but both are cut more generously in the thigh, and even when I sized down in the Chelsea, I still had a little room. (The Chelsea is first below, the Cigarette is next.)



Either one of these pairs would've worked were I not a super-picky girl. However, I found a pair that I liked the most, which was both the first pair I picked up and the last pair I tried on, not to mention the most expensive. It's the Johnny by True Religion, in an ultra-dark rinse with a narrow straight leg.


My jean is 99% cotton 1% elastane, but the denim is heavier, so I barely mind the stretch. The funny thing is that Bobby convinced me to go a size down, since they'll stretch half a size with wear (and my usual size was a bit baggy on me). But the best part is that even though they're rather tight (I know, the irony), they're incredibly flattering. I've always been a fan of True Religion (especially the non-stretch kind!) too, which leads me to my conclusion about jeans: Stick with the brands you know and like.
The week in shopping
One of my favorite sample sales, the twice-yearly Dwell sale features their modern, graphic-print linens for 40%-50% off. 10/26-11/12; 11-7:30; 62 Greene St. (Spring & Broome Sts.).

Oliver Peoples only has a sale once a year, so hit it and get their ultra-pricey eyewear for a much more tolerable 10/27-10/29; 11-7, noon-6 Sun.; 366 W. Broadway (at Broome St.).

Bring sexy back in Tufi Duek's Brazilian clothes, now $45 and up. 10/24-10/26; 9:30-7; 530 Broadway (at Spring St.), 10th fl.

Schlep out to Long Island City for the Housing Works sale and score shoes for $1-$5 and stuff all the designer clothes you can fit in one bag for $20. If you're lucky, you might get some of my old clothes! 10/28; 10-5; 48-49 35th St. (near 48th Ave.), Long Island City, Queens.

Score Cavalli and Dolce & Gabbana at non-ridiculous prices (mid-three figures) at this special sale. 10/26-10/27; 10-7; 33 W. 55th St. (5th & 6th Aves.), ground fl.

Stylish, work-friendly Elie Tahari clothes and outerwear are 70%-80% off. 10/25-10/28; 8:30-7:30, 10-5 Sat.; 520 5th Avenue (at 43rd St.), 2nd fl.

People supposedly score awesome vintage designer stuff at City Opera Thrift Shop's "V is for Vintage" event; make a $10 suggested donation and go to town. 10/25; 5-8 p.m.; 222 E. 23rd St. (2nd & 3rd Aves.).

Dress like a Brooklyn hipster with Hayden-Harnett's handmade leather accessories, now up to 80% off at this cash-only sale. 10/25-10/27; noon-7; 330 W. 38th St. (8th & 9th Aves.), ste. 503.

Dress like my dad for 75% off in Gant's preppy clothes (for women too). 10/25-10/27; 8:30-6:30; 20 W. 55th St. (5th & 6th Aves.), 11th fl.

Dress like a sophisticated version of my dad in Hickey Freeman and Bobby Jones for $69 and up. 10/29-11/2; 10-6 Sun., 9-6:30 Mon.-Wed., 11-2 Thurs.

Find four-figure designer gowns (think YSL, Vera Wang, Monique L'hullier) for mid-three-figures at Stylebug's sale. 10/24-10/ 28; 10-8, 9-6 Sat.; New Yorker Hotel, 481 8th Ave. (at 34th St.), Sutton Suite, 3rd fl.

Make like Maggie Gyllenhaal and hit Belly Dance Maternity for pregnancy-friendly Habitual, Chip & Pepper, and Paper Denim & Cloth for 15% off. 10/27; 11-6; 548 Hudson St. (Perry & Charles Sts.).

Go uptown toN Harlem and get Juicy Couture for 30% off. Through 11/14; noon-8, noon-6 Sun., closed Mon.; 114 W. 116th St. (at Lenox Ave.).

Patti Rose has super-designers (Pucci, Gucci, Dior, Blumarine) in all sizes, plus accessories too. 10/24-10/25; 9-7 Tue., 9-6 Wed.; 124 E. 58th St. (Park & Lex), ground floor.

Like color? Hit Zuzka for colorful handmade clothes and home accessories for 90% off (that's $20 and up). 10/24-10/27; 11-6; 37 E. 18th St. (5th Ave. & Broadway), 10th fl.

Cheryl Shops fave Le Train Bleu is moving to a new store and thus offering 30% off on all items through 10/31.

Take 20% off clothes, shoes, and accessories at Bloomingdales.com when you enter code AUTUMN at checkout through 10/26.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Not so much: stretch overload
It's been awhile since I've written a "Not so much" here at Cheryl Shops, but after my experience tonight, a good, healthy rant is in order. Ever since I posted the Cheryl Shops Fall Shopping guide roughly a month ago, I've been looking for a pair of skinny jeans. I've been everywhere from Bergdorf's to Urban Outfitters, and I recently came to the conclusion that maybe I'm just not cut out for a skinny jean. That said, I am a fan of straight-leg jeans--they're kind of halfway between boot-cut and skinny, and they happen to look pretty good on me. I have a pair of straight-leg jeans, the Sienna by Citizens of Humanity, that I bought last fall and love, and I'd gladly buy another pair if I were able to locate one--I'm assuming they were a limited-edition run and thus are not available anymore. But as I've said before, I'm a hunter, and I'm stubborn, so I decided that tonight I was going to buy a new pair of jeans, damnit! I headed over to Barneys after work, because that's where I bought my Siennas last year, and their salespeople are usually very helpful when it comes to jeans. Not so much this time. I found that I'm between sizes in J Brand, and the salegirl tried to convince me that the smaller size--which was bursting at the seams--looked "hot" on me. She also seemed unable to determine the difference between the 14-inch straight leg (which I wanted) and the 12-inch drainpipe (which I did not). I also asked her to bring me any other dark-wash skinny jeans in my size, but she said I had them all (um, no, I had four). All of which led me to believe 1) service at Barneys at 6:30 on a Thursday sucks and 2) J Brand just doesn't fit me. Fine, ok. I decided to move on to Bloomingdale's, figuring they might have a better selection, and at least I can use my employee discount.

Bloomingdale's, however, was in the midst of a Girls Night Out, so every Upper East Side teenager and Queens administrative assistant was packed onto the second floor, sipping cosmos and wreaking havoc in general. I grabbed every dark-wash straight-leg jean I could find--True Religion, Habitual, Goldsign, Citizens, Seven, etc.--and hit the dressing room. And you know what? Every last pair looked horrible on me. First of all, when did jeans get so freaking tight in the thighs? In order to get a pair that fits me in the waist, the thighs are so skintight, I'd be embarassed to leave the house in them. Now, I get that skinny jeans are supposed to be tight. Fine. But is there no middle ground between boring boot-cut and skintight skinny? My next issue is that every pair I tried on, the denim was so lightweight, it hung funny and clung to every curve in my leg--and not in a good way. What happened to normal denim? And my final, and most important issue, is that every last friggin' pair of jeans has stretch. I will admit that when stretch jeans first came around, I was psyched, and I bought a pair of Sevens, almost identical to my non-stretch Sevens. But my new Sevens were not skintight--they fit like my other pair, except I could eat steak frites for dinner and not impede my digestion process. So, yay for stretch. But at some point, stretch jeans went from practical to way too tight. And now you can't find a pair without stretch to save your life. I asked my salesgirl at Bloomie's if they had any non-stretch jeans and she looked at me like I was ka-ray-zee. I can't be the only person in the world who doesn't like her jeans ass-tight, can I? I mean, if I want to be that uncomfortable, I'll wear compression stockings!

So, I am back to the drawing board. Saks is the one place I haven't been yet; perhaps I'll stop by after work tomorrow. I know I could shop online--Active Endeavors and Revolve Clothing come to mind--but when jeans are concerned, I think it's incredibly important to try on many pairs, and unless I'm familiar with the brand, I never know what size I'm going to need. So I'm a bit reluctant to take that route. In the meantime, does anyone know where to find non-stretch straight-leg jeans? I'll even take a slightly stretchy straight-leg jean, as long as it's in a heavier denim. But as for lightweight stretch skinny jeans--say it with me, everyone--not so much.
Buy it
Several months ago, I extolled the virtues of Jessica Simpson's line of shoes. I can't stand Jessica herself, but she makes some good knockoffs at prices everyone can handle. And now, this season, she's taking on current accessories powerhouse Chloe. Here's the $750 original:



And here's the
Jessica Simpson Cam
:



It's $80, people--that's like a tenth of the price of the original. And, I feel like it's fate, since the shoe style is called Cam, and those just happen to be my initials. Now if only she could do a version of Chloe's moccasin...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Project Runway vs. America's Next Top Model
Finally, the finale. Fashion Week was over a month ago, and after the most dragged-out season in Project Runway's short history, we finally have a winner. After all the drama surrounding Jeffrey's garments, it turned out the most scandalous thing was that he was over budget by a mere $200, a situation that was easily rectified by ditching his ugly wigs and substituting a pair of shorts (for which he couldn't find a receipt) with a skirt he whipped up at the eleventh hour. I, like many people, had been rooting for Michael going into the finale, but after seeing the runway photos on the wires, I knew he was toast. I'm not even going to comment on it, because I was just so disappointed. What a letdown. I also, after seeing the pictures last month, figured Jeffrey would win--his collection was the most focused but also showed the most range. And fashion editors are always suckers for the rock star look. I think Laura could've benefitted from showing some daytime clothes mixed in with the eveningwear, as her show came across as pretty one-note to me. And while I knew Jeffrey would win, I was really rooting for Uli, because I simply thought her collection was the most wearable--as in, I'd wear everything in it. Oh well. I'm just glad the show is over and my Wednesday-night TV viewing can be focused solely on Lost and...

...America's Next Top Model! I must say, this season is keeping me guessing. I thought for sure the producers would keep bitchy Monique around for awhile, but she got the boot two weeks ago. Meg (last week's exit) was a bit more obvious. And while Melrose definitely has that kooky, Lisa-from-season-four thing going on, she's definitely entertaining, and I hate to admit it, but she's growing on me. My question is, why does this girl want to be a model? She should be an actress, or, as she proved tonight, a TV personality! We also now have a little bisexual subplot, as tomboy twin Michelle announced today that she's "confused" about her sexuality (which means she's gay). Props to the twins' mom for being supportive during her rather awkward, abrupt and strangely timed coming out; and props to Michelle herself, whom, I'm guessing, was probably forced to come out over the phone after the producers got wind of her up-in-the-air sexuality. But, honestly, I was a bit shocked that AJ was the one to go this week! Okay, so she wasn't super-enthusiastic (although if I were forced to live with 12 airheads and be humiliated every day by Tyra Banks, I don't know how enthusiastic I'd be either), and she took one bad photo (after so many good ones), but come on! She had an awesome walk and took the best photos, and you're telling me Jaeda has more potential? Well, at least we can take comfort in the fact that AJ will probably get signed by a smart agency and have a long and prosperous career--which is usually more than you can say for the winner.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The great bag search
I have a bit of a quandary. Since I received it last Christmas (thanks, Mom and Dad!), I've carried an emerald green Marc Jacobs Wonder bag. People stop me on the street to admire it--I don't know if that's because of the color or the fact that it's Marc Jacobs, or maybe both--and I love it to pieces. However, soon it's going to be time to switch to my winter coat, which, this year, is going to be either my red coat or my leopard coat, and the bag isn't going to look too hot with either of those. Which means I either have to bust out one of my old standbys (bo-ring!) or shop for a new bag (yippee!). Since I'm not holding my breath for a new Marc bag this Christmas, I'm aiming for the mid- to low-three-figure range. And as much as I love the thrill of the hunt, I think I've already found a strong contender: the City Tote from Anna Corinna. The designer, by the way, is one half of Foley & Corinna, one of my favorite vintage stores in NYC. Not shockingly, her bags have a vintage look with soft, slouchy leather and retro-yet-timeless shapes. But the City Tote is my favorite for two reasons: One, it is freaking huge and can thus fit my magazines, extra shoes, lunch, and whatever else I tend to carry around with me. Two, it can be carried folded with a shoulder strap or unfolded as a tote, so it's like having two bags in one. Genius! Best of all, the price isn't ridiculous, especially considering the size. Now, onto my next dilemma: What color should I get?
Website of the week
One of my favorite movies is When Harry Met Sally, and one of my favorite parts in the movie is when Sally breaks down and says, "And I'm going to be 40!" And Harry says, "What? When? In eight years!" And Sally says, "Someday! But it's there!" I am a bit further away from 40, but I'll be...um...the big milestone birthday that comes before 40--I think you know what I'm talking about--very, very soon. And as I was cleaning out my closet on Saturday, I realized that in the last 10 years, my wardrobe hasn't really changed. Granted, I own a suit or two now, but I only wear them when I have a super-important meeting or a job interview. I'm basically still dressing like an 18-year-old--well, one who can afford to shop at Barneys. I'm going to blame part of this on my job, since I write editorial copy for a teen website and thus have to be on top of the trends for that age group, and, hey, if I see something I like in the juniors department, it's usually so reasonable, I just buy it. I also happen to like my legs, so I'll attribute my collection of miniskirts to that. But, really, I think I need to accept my age and start dressing like it. Like I said yesterday, I need to start buying fewer, but nicer things--more Co-Op, less Forever 21. A good place for me to start shopping is ShopJake.com, the online home of Chicago's Jake, a boutique that, sadly, I've never been to (but I'll definitely have to check out next time I'm in the Windy City). Jake has clothes for both men and women, with a small but well-edited selection of contemporary labels like Mayle (one of my personal favorites), Sass & Bide, and the name on everyone's lips, 3.1 Philip Lim. The site is very user-friendly--many of the items feature tips from the store's stylists, and if you have a question about a specific item (say, about fit), you can email the site directly from the product page. The site is organized pretty simply, by item rather than by designer, which I how I like to shop anyway.

I know I have way too many cardigans, but this Opening Ceremony sweater (sorry, I can't link directly) is double-breasted, giving it a bit more structure than the average sweater and thus making it more like a jacket.


I think a vest would be a good piece to have, as it strikes a nice balance between classic and trendy. This Earnest Cut & Sew vest is very menswear, but it's fitted and shaped to be flattering on a woman.


I absolutely love this Sass & Bide jacket--it's kind of half safari, half trench, and it reminds me of Rick Owens with the draped, deconstructed look. I'd wear it with a pencil skirt during the week and with skinny jeans on the weekends.


Clu is quickly becoming one of my favorite new labels--their clothes are made of light-as-air cotton jersey with really interesting construction. This sleeveless dress is perfect for layering, or you can wear it alone in summer.


These 3.1 Philip Lim shorts are fashionable, but in more of a statement-making way, rather than a slave-to-the-trends way. And while they don't look like anything special in the flat shot, check out the on-figure picture--they have an excellently slouchy, draped fit.


Of course, my crappy Target jewelry isn't going to fly with these grown-up clothes, so some proper jewelry is in order too, like this edgy-cool mixed chain necklace from Philip Crangi.


Jake has jeans too--coveted brands like Habitual and Tsubi--and through 10/21, take 20% off when you enter code wdenim20 (or mdenim20 if you're a dude) at checkout. Granted, I think I'm set in the jeans department, but even if I start dressing like an adult during the week, thank god people of all ages can get away with jeans on the weekend.

Monday, October 16, 2006

My Saturday
I take dance classes at a studio way downtown, so on Saturday, I decided to stop by Century 21 afterward for kicks. I hadn't been there in ages and I really had nothing else to do, so I figured why not? I had forgotten that they separated the shoe department into a separate store, so I stopped there first. Right away, I spotted a pair of quilted Marc by Marc Jacobs ballet flats from last fall that I had wanted to buy but never got around to. Score! However, when I saw the price, I was a bit confused: They were on "clearance" for $280, with the "original" Century 21 price of $500. Um, way to mark up, Century 21--as I remember, the shoes were originally $360 last fall at Saks. Woe to the poor soul who spent $500 on those. Slightly disgusted, I headed over to the regular store and up to the designer floor, where I found...nothing. I feel like Century 21 usually has a nice selection of European designer stuff, like Marni, Gucci, John Galliano, Costume National, etc., but the most exciting stuff I saw on Saturday was some old Clements Ribiero and Plein Sud. Whoopee. The designer section seems to have shrunk, too, with even more space devoted to secondary lines like Michael Michael Kors and Lauren Ralph Lauren. Even the contemporary section, where I used to be able to find cute T-shirts and jeans, was filled with boring stuff. Of course, in spite of all this, there were like 30 women in line for the fitting rooms. So I went back down to the 2nd floor, where I usually have at least some success in the lingerie department. But aside from the two pairs of $6 DKNY opaque tights I ended up buying, no such luck. Now, I realize that I went on a Saturday afternoon, which is never the best time to shop anywhere in Manhattan, but aside from the junky quality of everything in the store, I was kind of shocked at all of the tourists. Century 21 has long been a tourist destination, of course, and now that NYC's biggest draw is right across the street from it, I'm sure that magnifies everything. But I'm wondering if the situation in Lower Manhattan has become so dire--that even Century 21 is struggling to survive--that the store has to pander totally to tourists. Do New Yorkers even shop at Century 21 anymore? If the state of the store on Saturday is any indication, you can count me out.

So Saturday afternoon, I came home and switched my closet from spring/summer to fall/winter, a very involved process that takes several hours. I love switching my closet, because it gets me really excited about the upcoming seasons, and it gives me a clearer picture of how I need to shop to round out my wardrobe. For example, I discovered I own way too many 1) pleated skirts, 2) cardigan sweaters, and 3) black pants. Hello, clothing rut. I need to shop for 1) dresses, 2) non-pleated (and non-mini) skirts, and 3) blazers. I made a big bag of stuff for Housing Works (where I donate all my old stuff), a small bag to give away to friends, and an even smaller bag of sentimental stuff to keep in storage. And I made a new shopping list, which is the most exciting part. The other thing I realized is that I buy too much crap. I'm still a firm believer in buying designer "classic" pieces (for example, I have a pair of black wool Ann Demeulemeester trousers that I bought six years ago at Barneys and will probably have for another 20 years) and mixing them with trendier stuff (from, say H&M)--I just need redirect my money toward more long-term purchases and fewer disposable items. It's a very French way of thinking, so maybe I'll re-read French Women Don't Get Fat (or whatever it's called) for inspiration! In the meantime, of course, I'll be reporting on my progress here.
The week in shopping returns!
Built by Wendy's rock-star collection from last year is up to 80% off. 10/20-10/22; 11-8, noon-5 Sun.; 36 N. 6th St. (Wythe & Kent Aves.), Williamsburg.

Hello, Dolce! Dolce & Gabbana, YSL, Roberto Cavalli, and other French and Italian designers are up to 50% off at this sale. 10/19-10/22; 10-7 Thurs. & Fri., 11-6 Sat. & Sun.; Surrey Hotel, 20 E. 76th St. (5th & Madison Aves.).

Architectural gold and silver jewelry from Slane & Slane is $50-$5,000. 10/18-10/20; 2-8 Wed., 10-8 Thurs., 10-6 Fri.; Warwick New York Hotel, 65 W. 54th St. (5th & 6th Aves.), 2nd fl.

For the Nancy Koltes lovers out there, Tuesday is the last day to score her linens for up to 80% off. Through 10/17; 9-5/ 317 W. 33rd St. (8th & 9th Aves.).

The Art of Shopis back with another denim sale; visit the website for more info. 10/19-10/22; noon-8 Thurs., 11-8 Fri. & Sat., noon-5 Sun.; 62 Greene St. (Spring & Broome Sts.).

Even Broadway Panhandler has fallen victim to rent hikes in Soho, but they've moved to 8th Street and to celebrate, they're taking up to 75% off select kitchen appliances and such. Thourh 10/29; 11-7, 11-6 Sun.; 65 E. 8th St. (Broadway & University).

Score fancy French clothes and outerwear by Feraud for 70%-90% off. 10/18-10/20; noon-6:30 Wed., 9-6:30 Thurs. & Fri.; 317 W. 33rd St. (8th & 9th Aves.).

Getting hitched? Get a showroom sample or pre-used gown from Vera Wang, Ulla-Maija, and other pricey designers for 50%-75% off at the Bridal Garden. Call 212-252-0661 to make an appointment. 10/20-11/12; noon-8 weekdays, 10-6 Sat., 11-7 Sun., closed Fri.; 54 W. 21st St. (5th & 6th Aves.), ste. 907.

Another worthy shopping destination, the Posh Interiors Sale has home furnishings donated by fancy high-end boutiques for 60%-90% off ($25 and up). Proceeds benefit Lighthouse International, which helps the visually impaired. 10/19-10/20; 11-7; 110 E. 60th St. (Park & Lex).

Men's and women's Triple Five Soul and Subscript are 50% off and up. Through 10/23; 10-8; 15 W. 24th St. (5th & 6th Aves.).

Bonpoint's ridiculously expensive children's clothes are now slightly more affordable. 10/22-10/25; 9-6:30, 9-5 Wed.; 317 W. 33rd St. (8th & 9th Aves.).

Score a nice Cinzia Rocca coat for 50%-75% off. 10/18-10/20; 9-6; 525 7th Ave. (at 38th St.), ste. 1610.

The gift-friendly Metropolitan Museum of Art Store has home accessories, jewelry, books, and more for 20%-50% off. Through 10/29; call 800-468-7386 for store locations and hours.

Cheryl Shops fave Satya Jewelry is opening an Upper West Side store, so head over there Thursday and Friday afternoon to save 15% on your purchase and have some refreshments. 10/19-10/20; 4-7; 2265 Broadway (81st & 82nd Sts.).

They might be gone already, but as of last week, Find Outlet had new Paper Denim & Cloth and Earnest Sewn arrivals.

Get free ground shipping on all purchases at LeSportsac.com through 10/29.

Clothingline still has Free People, Milly, and starting Thursday, Eric Javits hats and bags. See website for details.

Sephora has an awesome 11-piece gift with purchase when you spend $50 and enter code JACKPOT at checkout through 11/13 or while supplies last.

Take an additional 10% off sale items online at MoMAstore.org through 10/18.

Thursday is Girls Night Out at Bloomingdale's; think free gifts, free refreshments, DJs and more. 10/19; 6-8 p.m.

If you can afford Balenciaga, head over to Barneys for a trunk show on Thursday and Friday. 10/19-10/20; 10-6; 660 Madison Avenue (60th & 61st Sts.), 4th fl.

Get free shipping on a $175 order at J.Crew through 10/17 when you enter code OCT-FS at checkout.

Select wall shelving is 30% off at West Elm through 11/28.

Tuesdays are TaTa Tuesdays at Isabella Fine Lingerie; enter code TATA to save 15% when you buy two or more bras.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Sometimes...
People, places, things enter and exit your life so quicky, you often wonder what the point was of them being there in the first place. The brand-new sweater ruined by a red wine stain the first night you wear it. The gorgeous apartment with a view that's gone before you can say "I'll take it." The out-of-nowhere perfect guy who sweeps you off your feet then disappears even faster. So many of these things are out of your control, but you can't help but wonder what you could've done to save yourself the anguish. The only thing you can do is hope that you survive the experience a stronger, more capable person.

I need to take a few days off from Cheryl Shops. I'll return next Monday, the 18th. Please check back then.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Object of Desire
Now, onto the other end of the accessories spectrum...While in the tents at Fashion Week last month, of course I was checking out everyone's bags. I saw Muses, Motorcycles, Stams, and Birkins, but what really caught my eye were Goyard bags. Goyard is often compared to Louis Vuitton, and while both companies have been making luxury leather goods and luggage for hundreds of years, that's pretty much where the similarities end. Vuitton is a much bigger company, for one, and can be bought everywhere from Macy's to various Vuitton boutiques (as well as in knockoff version on Canal Street). Goyard, on the other hand, is one of those accessory houses that fashion insiders rave about, but since, in this country, you can only buy the line at Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, and at the Goyard store in San Francisco, it tends to remain under the radar. So aside from having this exclusivity, Goyard bags are just more luxurious--they're painted by hand, come in multiple colors, are customizable...and are thus priced accordingly. Lately I've been thinking about Goyard bags more and more, and I am definitely getting closer to obsession level. The medium-size St. Louis Tote is the Goyard bag I saw the most, and I think the most practical choice. (Yes, I know, way to rationalize.) It's big enough to fit magazines and all your essentials, but it's still incredibly chic, and I like the little wallet that comes with it.

You can even buy it on Barneys' website, but I think for the ultimate experience, the best thing would be to hit the Goyard store in Paris, which, hopefully I'll be going to sometime next year. The exchange rate isn't the best right now, but after the VAT refund, that's a nice 18% discount, or about $150 (thanks to MT for the VAT tip!). Paris, here I come!
Buy it
I am a big Mary Jane girl. Um, yeah, I'm talking about shoes, not pot. Anyway, I own many pairs of them, in lots of colors. And while I've been halfheartedly trying to curb my habit (again, I'm talking about shoes), I saw a shoe today that, well, I just have to have. Steve Madden's Judyy comes in black, brown, blue, and red, and since I already own MJs in the former three colors (yes, even blue) I must have the red. How hot will these look with my gray jumper and black tights? I love the round toe and the somewhat chunky heel looks pretty comfortable, but it's the oversized button that really makes this style stand out. Best of all, they're only $80. They will be mine. Oh, yes, they will be mine.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Website of the week
There's been a lot of discussion recently about models and their weight. Between the controversy at Australian Fashion Week (one brazen designer featured--gasp!--"real women" as models in her show; Australian Vogue subsequently refused to cover it) and the ensuing controversy from Spanish Fashion Week (models with a BMI of under 18 were not allowed to work), everyone has been debating whether models are too thin, too young, too emotionless, etc. And there are some strong opinions, my favorite of which was Rachael Zoe defending the "naturally thin" models (I'm assuming she means those who don't abuse horse tranquilizers to fit into size 0's). There have always been thin models, although if you look at pictures from 15 years ago, during the heyday of the Supermodels, it's kind of shocking how almost-normal they look--I'm guessing that Cindy Crawford, for example, was a size 4 or maybe even a size 6, which would be considered almost heifer-like by today's standards. So, who do we have to blame (or, depending on how you look at it, to thank) for all of this? The long answer is rather complex, considering everyone from the designers themselves to magazine editors and art directors to advertising executives help determine which models have successful careers. The short answer is much more simple: Casting directors are the ones who actually hire models for jobs. Granted, they're usually taking directon from someone else, but they're the ones who interact with the models on a day to day basis.

Which is probably why I find Confessions of a Casting Director so fascinating. It's a blog written by a semi-anonymous model casting director, and while much of the content consists of polaroids taken from go-sees accompanied by commentary on the model, there's also quite a bit of inside-fashion gossip. I do enjoy the polaroids, because the writer likes to spotlight future stars as well as the current top models. (I recognized quite a few faces from Fashion Week!) The writer is, refreshingly, not a snob--he admits to liking street casting, as well as "genius" plus-size model Crystal Renn and even America's Next Top Model alums (winner Danielle from season 5 and Kim the lesbian, my favorite, from season 4 were making the Fashion Week rounds). And, well, let's say the writer is equal opportunity, as there are some tasty pictures of male models too--thankfully, no one is arguing over whether they're too thin. Because sometimes we need not to intellectualize the cultural signifcance models and their weight but rather to sit back and appreciate them for what they are: gorgeous human beings.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The week in shopping
Come over to my hood and score a hippie-fabulous hand-dyed frock from MoMo Falana for 25%-75% off. Through 11/20; 12:30-8:30; 43 Avenue A (at 3rd St.).

Precious and semiprecious Catherine Angiel jewelry is up to 50% off. Through 10/16; noon-7, noon-6 Sun.; 43 Greenwich Ave. (at Charles St.).

Sexy clothes and accessories from Luca Luca are up to 80% off. 10/3-10/4; 10-6; 19 W. 36th St. (5th & 6th Aves.), 4th fl.

If it's your style, Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic furniture is 20% off. Through 10/8; 10-7, noon-6 Sun.; 83 Wooster St. (Spring & Broome Sts.).

If you feel like schlepping out to Jersey, ABC Carpet & Home has lighting, furniture, and rugs for up to 75% off. 10/5-10/9; 10-7 (closed Sun.); 400 Huyler St., South Hackensack, NJ.

Head out to Built By Wendy's Williamsburg store for free booze and 20% off the fall collection Thursday night. 10/5; 6-9 p.m.; 46 N. 6th St., Williamsburg.