Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Weekend of Cheryl part 3: Cheryl Shops Century 21 in Brooklyn
Ever since 1999, which was my first summer in NYC, I have loved Century 21. I've scored amazing deals on Dolce & Gabbana, Marni, Helmut Lang, and Olivier Theyskens; after September 11th, my first trip to Ground Zero occurred when Century 21 re-opened after months of cleaning and restoration. Century 21 and I go way back. In recent years, however, I've started to get annoyed by 1) the crowds and 2) the prices, which don't seem to be as great as they used to be; lately, more often than not, I've left empty-handed. But the Manhattan store, while it's probably the most famous, is not the only Century 21. I had always heard that the other locations--there are two stores in Jersey, one in Long Island, and one in Brooklyn--weren't quite as good as the flagship in terms of merchandise, but were much more spread out and far less crowded. So I dragged MW out to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, to test that theory.

After a slight detour through Sunset Park (note to subway riders: if you take the N train, don't forget to transfer to the R train at 59th Street in Brooklyn!), we found the Brooklyn Century 21 smack in the middle of a busy shopping area on 86th Street in Bay Ridge. Men's clothing, cosmetics, and women's accessories are on the first floor; women's and kids clothes are on the second floor. The store is cleaner, more well-lighted, and, yes, far less crowded than its Manhattan counterpart. I left MW in the men's section and headed up to the 2nd floor. The contemporary women's section definitely can hold its own with Manhattan; I spotted a good selection of Juicy, C&C California, Marc by Marc Jacobs, and DVF, as well as a whole rack of KA7 at very good prices (silk tunics for $49, merino wool sweaters for a ridiculous $35). The European Designer section had more merchandise than I was expecting, but definitely didn't compare to the Manhattan store; I tried on some ill-fitting Martin Margiela pieces, and there was quite a bit of Helmut Lang, D&G, Antik Batik, and a few other Euro labels that I haven't heard of but that looked well made nonetheless. What the department lacked in selection, they made up for in well-organized, well-spaced racks. It should also be noted that the fitting rooms have private, curtained-off stalls, instead of the one-room free-for-all at Cortlandt Street. Thus, the only person who saw me look like a shapeless blob in Martin Margiela was me.

The lingerie section is not quite as fleshed-out (pun intended) as the Manhattan store, but there was a healthy selection of Cosabella thongs, Simone Perele lingerie, and even Wolford stockings. Back on the first floor, I spotted a shelf of Missoni wavy-stripe scarves for $70, which seemed like quite a good deal to me. The shoe section had a respectable amount of last year's Chloe and Marc Jacobs shoes; prices were not totally outrageous. The handbag section was a bit disappointing, except for a selection of bags from L'Autre Chose, whom I didn't even know made handbags. They were $199 each, but the leather was incredibly soft and buttery. I ended up not buying anything (the story of my weekend, basically), but MW stocked up on underwear, socks, and faux-vintage T-shirts.

The Century 21 in Bay Ridge is definitely a bit of a hike, even for a Brooklynite like myself. Nor is the selection as great as that of the Manhattan location. But, it's cleaner, brighter, more spacious, far less crowded, and, overall, a very pleasant experience. Prices are still kind of hit-or-miss; instead of battling the crowds at the Manhattan location, I'm definitely going to head to the Brooklyn location the next time there's a big clearance sale.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Weekend of Cheryl part 2: Cheryl shops the Upper East Side thrift stores
I've lived in NYC for nearly nine years now, and until Saturday, I had never gone thrift shopping on the Upper East Side. I had heard stories--Chanel, Hermes, Dior, oh my!--that the Upper East Side, what with all its charitable Ladies Who Lunch, is a treasure trove of thrift stores all designed to raise money for these ladies' pet causes. So, finally, on Saturday, I dragged MW with me, visions of some old biddy's vintage YSL castoffs dancing in my head.

We started at the Goodwill [1704 2nd Ave., at 88th St.], which is rather large and overwhelming, and yet, as the most traditionally thrift-shoppy of the bunch, a good place to start. I spotted several Armani jackets at $30 each, a Dior suit for $60, and some not-too-shabby fur coats. If those prices sound a bit high for a thrift store (and they are, in theory), keep in mind that they were by far the lowest I saw on Saturday. Now, this being a Goodwill, there was also a ton of junk, much of it polyester, and many of the garments needed a good cleaning. If you are patient, I'm sure there are good deals to be had; MW's former roommate DH swears by Goodwill. I, however, had many more stores on my list to hit.

Next was the Spence-Chapin Thrift Shop [1473 3rd Ave. between 83rd & 84th Sts.]. If you are looking for '80s Ungaro, St. John Knits, or Ferragamo shoes, this is the place for you. Prices were mostly under $100, which seemed a bit high at the time but in retrospect seems reasonable. The shop is tiny, but all of the merchandise was in quite good condition. MW and I were most amused by the impromptu borscht-belt comedy routine developing between a regular customer and one of the volunteers.

Across the street is the Cancer Care Thrift Shop [1480 3rd Ave. between 83rd & 84th Sts.], which is long and narrow but packed to the gills. Fancy jewelry and accessories are housed in a glass case in front; across from that is the designer section, where I found Prada pants (under $100), beautiful double-faced cashmere coats, a bright pink Chanel suit for $500, and a pair of circa-Stella McCartney Chloe pants, still with their original $685 price tag from Bergdorf Goodman (sadly, they were a size too small for me). Farther back, the racks are crammed with cashmere sweaters, silk blouses, and other staples from the Upper East Sider's closet. I was particularly taken with a red bouclé Carmen Marc Valvo dress, but, at $80, it was a bit more than I wanted to spend. MW found the men's racks too crammed to even browse, so onward and upward we went.

If there's a status hospital in NYC, it's Memorial Sloan-Kettering, and so their thrift shop [1440 3rd Ave. between 81st & 82nd Sts.] is pretty much what you'd expect: It's like a museum. The front features incredibly fancy furniture and objets d'art most likely banished to the store by various interior decorators; the middle of the store has a limited selection of expensive castoffs (cashmere sweaters, scarves, leisure wear); the back designer room is a treasure trove of Chanel, Pauline Trigere, Valentino...basically any big-name designer you could think of. Prices are steep, and skyrocket thereafter. My eyes teared up when I saw a pristine '70s YSL trench coat, in my size, for $350; I almost cringed when I saw a classic black Chanel suit for $1,500 (and, really, who gets rid of a black Chanel suit?). I was having fun just pawing everything, but after feeling the hawklike volunteer's eyes burning holes in my back, I decided to call it quits. Okay, clearly I could not afford anything here.

On the same block is the shop associated with a cause dear to my heart, that of the Arthritis Thrift Shop [1383 3rd Ave., between 81st & 82nd Sts.]. This shop is kind of a big disorganized mess, but I'm sure that if you have the time to dig, you can find some great stuff. I was starting to get pretty discouraged, however; I found a great vintage Jean Muir cashmere sweater, but its Berdgorf Goodman tag must've given it away, because it was marked $60. I also spotted a great pair of Chloe pumps, but they were behind the glass case, and I was afraid to ask the price. With the exception of Goodwill, the Arthritis Foundation's prices were the most reasonable, and this was the only store where I saw a line of people waiting to check out.

Our last stop was the Housing Works Thrift Shop [202 E. 77th St. between 2nd and 3rd Aves.], which was at least a bit more affordable than its neighbors. I found an awesome colorblocked silk dolman-sleeve dress from the '80s that seemed like a deal at $30, but, sadly, it had grease stains all along the front. Everything else--especially the selection of books--was pretty meager, especially compared to the downtown Housing Works.

So, four hours later, MW and I headed back to Brooklyn, completely empty-handed. Shopping the Upper East Side thrift stores is definitely not your typical thrift-store experience; it's more akin to shopping a vintage store curated by a middle-aged woman. Now, I realize that these stores benefit charities, hospitals and/or schools--all worthy causes--but I can't help but wonder if they'd generate even more money if the items were priced lower, and thus they sold more. My mom volunteers at a thrift shop, and while the town I grew up in is definitely not the Upper East Side, it's still fancy enough, but the items are priced at thrift-shop-friendly prices; over the years, my mom has snagged me a Prada raincoat for $12 and a (real) Chanel purse for $20. Such deals are clearly not to be had in Manhattan, but if you have an afternoon to spare, it's always fun to go treasure hunting.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Weekend of Cheryl part 1: Cheryl Shops the Barneys Warehouse Sale
So, while I am technically able to leave at 1 p.m. on Fridays during the summer, for the last month or so, I've been chained to my desk at work. This is because I have to work on all of our make-or-break Fall Fashion events; the timing is quite inconvenient however. At the beginning of the summer, I had made a list of all the fun things I wanted to do on my summer Friday afternoons, but due to my schedule, I clearly didn't get around to doing everything. So I decided to leave somewhat on time last Friday and cram as much as possible into one weekend--and to call it the Weekend of Cheryl. It ended up being somewhat of a failure.

My first stop was the Barneys Warehouse sale. I decided to wait a week, as I had back in February, because I wanted that additional markdown, and I didn't want to deal with the hysteria of the opening-weekend crowds. I scored quite the bounty back in February; this time, not so much. I spotted some Vena Cava dresses, lots of Helmut Lang pants, still some Kate Moss Topshop blouses and dresses, and some Marc by Marc Jacobs here and there. In the fancy section, there was quite a bit of Nina Ricci, Comme des Garcons, and Lanvin, all of which, at 30% off lowest prices, was still far too expensive. There were a lot of shoes--Prada, Pierre Hardy, Stella McCartney--but, again, still out of my reach (plus, many of the styles are still available, at the same prices, on Barneys.com, and if you decide you don't want them, you can actually still return them). I tried on an incredibly ill-fitting Mayle dress, a 3.1 Phillip Lim sweater (or was it a tunic--I couldn't tell), and a blouse by Lover that made me look like a court jester. All rejects. I ended up with just two items: a long-sleeved white tee from The Row (and let me tell you, The Row is definitely Olsen-sized--my tee is a large, and it is snug) and a long organic wool cardigan from Loomstate. (Side note: I never realized how nice Loomstate is--now I understand why Barneys promotes the crap out of it.) I was a little sad about my poor haul, but, you know, you win some and you lose some. Call me crazy, but I'm actually considering going back Thursday after work, just to see what kinds of mega-bargains I can find.

Coming tomorrow, parts 2 and 3 of the Weekend of Cheryl saga!
The week in shopping
Expect Chloe, Matthew Williamson, and big, big crowd's at Intermix's warehouse sale. 8/26-8/28; 9-8; Metropolitan Pavilion, 110 W. 19th St. (6th & 7th Aves.).

Mulberry's luxe British bags are up to 75% off. 8/27-8/28; 10-7; 123 W. 18th St. (6th & 7th Aves.).

Bohemian-chic summery looks from Yaya Aflalo, Love by Yaya, and Moon Katz are 50%-80% off. 8/26-8/28; 8-8 Tues., 10-8 Wed. & Thurs.; 145 W. 18th St. (6th & 7th Aves.).

At 70% off, prices are still mid-three-figures at the Temperley sale, but considering most items originally retailed for over $1,000, that's not so bad. 8/27-8/30; 8-8 Wed., 10:30 Thurs.-Fri., 11:30-7 Sat.; 453 Broome St. (at Mercer St.), 2nd fl.

Summer items are $65 and up at Zero + Maria Cornejo's sample sale. Through 8/30; noon-7:30; 255 Mott St. (Prince & Spring Sts.).

The French-themed boutique Noisette has clothing and accessories from Maje, BA&SH, and other designers francoises for 50%-70% off. Through 8/31; noon-7; 54 N. 6th St. (at Kent Ave.), Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The excellent Marmalade Vintage has vintage finds on sale. Through 8/31; noon-9; 172 Ludlow St. (Houston & Stanton Sts.).

Sadly, Lisa Levine is closing her little jewelry store; score her delicate jewels for 25%-75% off. Through 9/12; 1-8 weekdays, noon-8 weekends (closed Mon.); 536 Metropolitan Ave. (at Union Ave.), Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Environmentally friendly clothes and accessories are 30%-50% off at Ekovaruhuset, House of Organics. Through 8/31; 1-8; 123 Ludlow St. (Rivington & Delancey Sts.).

Save 25%-40% on floor models and select merchandise at Bo Concept through 8/31. See website for store locations and hours.

Save up to 70% at Inhabit's summer sale.

It's stock-up time at shopbop.com Use code BOPFORFALL for $25 off $150, $50 off $300, $100 off $500, or $250 off $1,000. Through 8/27.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Recommended reading
So, there was a really thought-provoking article in today's Wall Street Journal, about why designers don't make bigger sizes. It makes a good point: Considering the average American woman is a size 14, why don't most fashion designers make anything bigger than a 12? (Or, in many instances, a 10?) The designers' going argument is that bigger clothes require more fabric and thus cost more money, but, really, I think it's because size is the one prejudice it's still okay to have. I mean, it's not okay, but it's more socially acceptable than, say, racism. Which doesn't make it right. God forbid people with less-than-perfect bodies walk around in clothes that jeopardize the artistry of an artist's, er, designer's vision.

But the article doesn't focus on value judgments; what is focuses on is the missed economic opportunity. Clothing companies are businesses after all, and while image is incredibly important in this day and age, so is making money. And with all the size-12-and-up women in this country, not making clothing to fit them is, well, pretty stupid. There are plenty of women out there who want to spend $200 on jeans and $500 on a dress (the article spotlights Paige Premium Denim and eveningwear designer Tadashi Shoji as two of the few companies with an extended range of sizes); as of now, they have very few options.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

MasstigeWatch!
Much as I try, I can't seem to avoid reading Fashionista, which had a complete collection of images of the Comme des Garcons for H&M collection, but was later forced to remove them at H&M's request (spoilsports!). Here's the one officially released photo, appearing in this month's W. The polka-dot blouses are a bit twee for me, and the wide-leg cropped pants do not look too flattering, but I am all over the deconstructed black jackets. Look for it in stores November 19th.

Also, Dean Harris' jewelry collection for Target is now available online and in stores. The look is kind of earthy and organic and bohemian; I find the flowers and peace signs a bit cheesy, but there are some great pieces here and there. Of course my favorite piece is also the most expensive, this $99.99 sterling silver bracelet. (So much for masstige, Target!)
The week in shopping
Hollywould's online blowout sale ends Wednesday, but savings of up to 85% are available at the store through Saturday. Through 8/24; 11:30-7; 198 Elizabeth St. (Prince & Spring Sts.).

Men's and women's Paul Stuart clothing and accessories in a full range of sizes are up to 70% off. Men's suits are $299-$349; women's jackets are $149. Through 8/22; 10-7; 207 W. 38th St. (7th & 8th Aves.).

Nolita's Eva boutique has Wayne, Grey Ant, and Vivienne Westwood's Anglomania line for 50%-80% off. 8/21-8/24; 11-8; 227 Mulberry St. (Prince & Spring Sts.).

Stock up on costume jewelry and cheapie accessories for $5-$20 at Alexia Crawford's sample sale. Through 8/22; 9-7; 35 W. 36th St. (5th & 6th Aves.), 6th fl.

The unimaginatively named Denim & Knits has Juicy Couture, plus all manner of designer jeans (think Chip & Pepper, 7, Citizens, etc.) for $30 and up. Through 8/24; 10-8; 2 Cordlandt St. (Broadway & Church Sts.), 2nd fl. - Featuring Juicy Couture

Save up to 70% at Blissworld (think lots of clothing and accessories) through 8/21.

Use code AUGUST8 at saks.com to get $25 off a $250-$499 purchase, $50 off a $500-$999 purchase, $100 off a $1,000-$1,999 purchase, $300 off a $2,000-$2,999 purchase, or $400 off a $3,000 or more purchase, through 8/21.

Tomorrow is the last day of Satya's online sample sale; there's not a lot left, but what is left is supercheap! (I might order the pendant for Ganesha, remover of obstacles!)

Save 30%-75% at Tobi's online sale.

Too lazy to schlepp over to Union Square? Enter code hc08 for 30% off anything at the Owl's Lab website.

Take an extra 20% off select sale items at net-a-porter.com when you enter code SUMMER at checkout through 8/31.

Get a free Bop Basics scarf with any regular-priced jeans purchase at shopbop.com. Also, check out new markdowns in their sale section.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sales coming tomorrow
I promise!
R.I.P. Mayle
Buried, as usual, in today's WWD, was the heartbreaking news that Jane Mayle is closing her business after 10 years. The 2009 resort collection, due to hit stores in November, will be her last; her Elizabeth Street store in Nolita will close in February. Mayle is closing up not due to the bad economy but due to the fact that she has become disenchanted with the fashion industry in general:

Yet she was turned off by the ever-accelerating fashion system, its out-of-whack delivery cycle and the pressures to cave into the importance placed on media hype that can sometimes be counterproductive.

“It seems like a commercial cul-de-sac in a way that the customer gets tired before the collections even hit stores,” Mayle said. “How I came to this business was all about dreaming and building a wardrobe you would be seduced by. That mystery and remoteness and insouciance have disappeared from fashion in order to accelerate the product. I feel I have just become another cog in that machinery.”

The demands, she added, affected her ability to get her hands on the quality fabrics she sought, for instance.

“It’s become so overaccelerated that I felt the only way to make things meaningful is to stop doing them,” she said.


I, for one, am incredibly sad about this, as Mayle is one of my favorite labels (albeit, one that used to be somewhat affordable, but has nearly doubled in price in recent years). I'm guessing that there will be some sort of blowout sale at the shop before it closes, but until then, I suggest stocking up on Mayle while you have the chance.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

MasstigeWatch!
This is a quick one--Target has confirmed that Thakoon Panichgul will be the next Go International designer, after Jonathan Saunders in October-ish. Thakoon's collection will launch in December and be available in stores and online through January. It will be interesting to see how his kooky-librarian aesthetic translates to Tar-zhay's mass-market customer, but I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Stay away from the polyester, please!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

When blogs go bad
It's inevitable that the bigger a blog gets, at some point it's going to start to suck. Case in point: Gawker. Another blog I loved when it first came out was Fashionista, which had a fun mix of DIY tips, insider scoops, and profiles of indie designers. Ever since founding editor Faran Krentcil left, however, it's started to go downhill. The post that really annoyed me was this one announcing the death of Yves Saint Laurent, particularly the part about his shoes. Really, the shoes? Of all the wonderful things we can thank YSL for--pants, leopard print, taking women out of 1950s prissy looks--they chose to talk about the shoes? Which, if we want to get technical (and I do), were not designed by YSL himself but by current designer Stefano Pilati who is, in fact, alive. And while I'm at it, the rest of the offending sentence--"We never met him"--is perhaps just as bad. Of course you've never met him; even Alicia Drake, who wrote the wonderful book The Beautiful Fall, about YSL's rivalry with Karl Lagerfeld, couldn't get an interview with him. After five years of trying. But I digress.

One of Fashionista's more controversial series of posts is the "Adventures in Copyright" series; what started out as legitimate--Diane von Furstenberg and Anna Sui have both sued Forever 21 over prints which, like logos, are legally protected in the United States--eventually devolved into calling out high-street stores (Forever 21, Topshop, and Baker's Shoes are frequent targets) for knocking off designer goods. Fashionista's official stance is that we shoppers shouldn't buy knockoffs, because they don't protect designers' ingenuity; instead, they think we should support innovation by buying original designs. This credo, while noble (and in line with the CFDA), is, if you ask me a bit idealistic. Clothing and shoe designs cannot be copyrighted in the U.S. because they are functional, utilitarian items (essential to life, if you will). True, the CFDA is working to change this law, but I think considering the current economic climate, they don't have a prayer. Also, aside from opening a Pandora's Box of lawsuits, challenging the law would, in a way, be challenging our Capitalist system. Now, there are many aspects of Capitalism that drive me crazy (the exorbitant amount of money I pay for my health insurance comes to mind; the Bush administration invoking it for justifying their cronyism is another), but, really, where do you draw the line? Can Levi's claim ownership of blue jeans? What about Chanel and the little black dress? See what I mean?

So, along those lines, came today's post written by a intern, called Would you wear a knock-off? I suggest reading the post itself for the full effect, but, basically, the writer had a drink with a friend and called out the friend on her knockoff YSL tribute shoes and knockoff YSL Mondrian dress (the former from Baker's shoes, the latter from Forever 21). The friend--gasp!--not only admitted they were knockoffs but showed no remorse in buying them; after all, it's not like she could afford the originals (especially since a true YSL Mondrian dress like this one would most likely be found only in a museum or, if you could possibly find one at auction, would probably cost upwards of $100,000. The Tribute sandals are $760). The writer was appalled.

Now, first things first. If a friend wrote a trite, judgmental post like this about me--especially in a public forum like a widely-read fashion blog--I would probably never talk to them again. That said, the writer is clearly stuck in a fashion-world bubble. Yes, many people buy knockoffs without realizing they're a cheaper version of something a higher-end designer created first, but many other people--myself included--buy knockoffs knowing full well that they are what they are. (Note: I am talking about derivatives, not counterfeits, which are illegal--as I said earlier, logos and prints are copyright-protected--not to mention tacky.) First of all, most people who can afford $800 shoes aren't going to be buying the $80 version, and, likewise, those who are buying the $80 version probably cannot even begin to dream of affording the $800 version (and if they can, so what? They can choose to spend their money however they want). Just because people choose to spend less on fashion doesn't mean they should be excluded from wearing the season's trends. And as I noted earlier, we are a capitalist society; the same principles that allow Bakers to create a lookalike (but most likely inferior) product for a tenth of the price also allow big designers to be compensated accordingly. Take, for example, the often-ripped-off Marc Jacobs; you can read about his multimillion-dollar art collection and his Left Bank apartment here. And while we're on the topic of Marc Jacobs, yes, he's truly an innovative designer (and one of my most admired), but, by god, he's a knockoff artist himself--everyone from Claude Montana to Halston has shown up as an influence on his runway, which leads me to my final point. There's no way that fashion-copyright protection laws can be enacted, because not only do mass-market retailers knock off high-end designers, but high-end designers knock off each other. And vintage! And street fashion! Pot calling the kettle black, people!

So, back to the original point of my post, which is that Fashionista has gone downhill, and now they've managed to alienate a large percentage of their readers with today's post (if you don't believe me, read the 150-odd comments--a Fashionista record). I will probably keep reading it, just so that I don't miss something important, but, ugh, begrudgingly so.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Make me a monster, er, model
Because there apparently can't be too many reality modeling shows, MTV has decided to stop airing reruns of America's Next Top Model and instead start its own competition show called Model Makers. Of course, all new entries in this crowded field must have a gimmick, and, in the grand tradition of Shandi Sullivan, MTV is going the ugly-duckling-into-beautiful-swan route. Sure, you need to be tall and somewhat young to compete, but if you've got a few extra pounds, no problem. Or, in the words of the press release I received today:

Have you always wanted to model but don't know where to start? Maybe you don't know the right people. Maybe you are not thin enough. Maybe you are not photogenic. MODEL MAKERS will give you the ultimate make-over and transform you into the model of your dreams.

Women come in all shapes and sizes, but models don’t. The term model conjures an image of stick-thin, towering beauties oozing confidence, glamour, poise and sexuality from every pore. “Skinny,” “no body fat,” and “size zero” are the words and phrases associated with models. “Chubby,” “well-fed,” and “big-boned” are not…

Until now!

From acclaimed Model Manager Michael Flutie, Cris Abrego Productions and MTV, introducing “MODEL MAKERS”, the show that dares to go where no modeling show has gone before.

15 lucky women from around the country will get the opportunity of a lifetime when MTV hands them over to Michael Flutie and an expert team of trainers, nutritionists, stylists, and other industry leaders. Under the watchful "eye" of these experts, models will endure twelve weeks of intensive physical fitness training to help them get down to their ideal size. Models will also compete in various high fashion challenges to determine who has star quality. With weekly eliminations looming, models must put their best foot forward at all times while staying focused on losing weight.


In other words, it's America's Next Top Biggest Loser! Or, the John Robert Powers Modeling School! Granted, the winner gets $100,000, a personal trainer, and a portfolio (but NOT a modeling contract!), but, the whole thing seems a bit...exploitative to me. (I know, you could say the same thing about the modeling industry in general.) I mean, it sounds like a recipe for 15 eating disorders, which, considering MTV's audience, is probably not the best idea.

Of course, I'm probably going to watch it. And I hate myself a little for it.
The week in shopping
Sharpen those elbows: It's time for the Barneys Warehouse Sale! Prices start at 50%-75% off, then get marked down further as the sale progresses. I am going to wait for the first round of markdowns, but I'm sure Racked will be there on opening day. 8/14-9/1; 8-9 Thurs. & Fri., 10-9 weekdays and 10-7 weekends thereafter; 255 W. 17th St. (7th & 8th Aves.).

If you can't handle the warehouse sale, head over to any Barneys Co-op store (or department) with a pair of your old jeans, then take 20% off a new regular-priced pair. Through 8/25.

If you're out in the Hamptons, please invite me over, and then we can go to the Shoe-Inn together. 10,000 shoes from Chloe, Frye, FitFlops, Stuart Weitzman, and every other shoe designer on the planet are $19-$169. New merch added daily. 8/14-8/24; 9-5:45; American Legion Hall on Route 27 (across from Brent's), Amagansett.

Samples for (eco)mpassion is having a warehouse sale; find items from DVF, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Citizens of Humanity and more on mega-sale. Through 8/14; noon-8; 2 Great Jones St. (Broadway & Lafayette).

Matta's colorful clothing and home accessories are now $20-$100. Noon-8 Wed.-Fri.; 237 Lafayette Sts. (Prince & Spring Sts.).

Jamin Puech's bags--very well made, but less obvious than many other designer bags--are a nice 20%-50% off. 11-7, noon-6 Sun.; 14 Prince St. (at Elizabeth St.).

Lauren Merkin's ladylike handbags are 40%-70% off. 8/12–8/14; 11-7; 231 W. 29th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), ste. 201.

Celebs have been spotted shopping at Cream, and with Geren Ford, Anna Sui, and Antik Batik at up to 50% off, I can understand why. Through 8/15; 11-7, 11-8 Thurs.; 1124 3rd Ave. (at 65th St.).

Shop has moved a few blocks downtown, but all summer items are 40% off. Through 8/15; noon-7; 94 Orchard St. (at Broome St.).

Tracy Reese's feminine frocks (and separates) are now 40%-60% off. Through 8/24; 11-7, 11-8 Thurs., noon-6 Sun.; 641 Hudson St. (Horatio & Gansevoort Sts.).

Remember Tretorn sneakers? Revisit your childhood with shoes and apparel for men, women, and children at 30% off. Through 8/15; 10-8, noon-7 Sun.; 150 Spring St. (at Wooster St.).

Hit Patois for unlimited mimosas at brunch, then head across the street to the Brooklyn Indie Market, where select items are 10%-50% off. 8/16; 11-7; Smith St. at Union St., Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

If you're like me and you like picture books, hit Rizzoli for some great deals on coloful reading material (many under $20). Through 9/1; 10-7:30 weekdays, 10:30-7 Sat., 11-7 Sun.; 31 W. 57th St. (5th & 6th Aves.).

Stock up on pens, notebooks, and stationery at 10% off (well, every little bit helps) during Muji's back-to-school sale. Through 9/1; 11-9, 11-8 Sun.; 455 Broadway (at Grand St.).

Thursday, August 07, 2008

On Katie Holmes' jeans
I will be the first to admit that I am totally mystified by Katie Holmes: the blank stare, the shopping sprees, the ever-morphing hair, and so on. I feel bad that she has pretty much blown her career, but the silver lining is that she's become a sort of quiet fashion icon. (Then again, if I had Tom Cruise's money to spend, you bet your Birkin I'd buy my way onto the best-dressed list.) She has managed to completely transform herself, and yet sometimes I wonder whether some of what she's doing is an attempt at true trendsetting or an act of rebellion. Case in point: In today's the Cut blog at New York Magazine, the Fug Girls addressed Holmes' new favorite clothing item: her pegged jeans. The Fug Girls are appalled, but the commenters are pretty much split between thinking she looks stylish and directional and thinking she looks depressed and sloppy.

Personally, I welcome the return of boyfriend jeans. For the past 10 years, jeans have been ass tight, and while I generally believe that people look better in clothes that fit them, a part of me misses when jeans were truly comfortable. (Side note: On the way to the subway this morning, I saw a woman wearing what I assume were vintage Old Navy overalls. She looked so comfortable and, dare I say, chic.) Now, these are not jeans to wear out to the clubs or bars; boyfriend jeans are more for hanging out. Also, I would caution against rolling them like Katie does--it's giving me flashbacks of the circa 1990 "French roll" that I rocked in middle school. In fact, for a better way to wear them, I suggest taking a cue from none other than Katie Holmes' best friend, our dear Victoria Beckham. (Maybe living in Los Angeles is having a positive effect on her after all!)
MasstigeWatch!
Every fashionista worth her skinny jeans let out a collective shriek this morning upon reading this glorious item in WWD's Fashion Scoops:

It looks like Alexander McQueen could be the latest designer name — and one of the most prestigious — to link up with Target’s Go International program, which showcases capsule collections by guest designers. According to industry sources, the British designer is in talks to work on a collection for the Minneapolis-based retailer. A spokeswoman for McQueen declined comment Wednesday.

If the designer does ink a deal with Target, he would join an ever-growing lineup of marquee names who have produced collections for the brand, including Luella Bartley, Alice Temperley, Proenza Schouler and Richard Chai. In addition, Anya Hindmarch and Sigerson Morrison both have collections in the pipeline for the retailer.

While McQueen launched a denim-based diffusion line, called McQ Alexander McQueen, in fall 2006, he’s not yet notched up a collaboration with a mass retailer during his career. As well as his ready-to-wear collection, McQueen designs a footwear collection for Puma and a capsule luggage collection for Samsonite’s Black Label.


That's right: Alexander McFuckingQueen and Target. WWD must have a well-planted spy somewhere at Target, because every single Target-collaboration rumor that's popped up in this column has come true. So I think we can all start to mentally prepare ourselves for plaid, corsets, bustles, and sharp tailoring from fashion's former enfant terrible. Now, the only thing that gives me pause is that the Go International collections have widely varied in terms of quality and fit, whereas, say, H&M's collections have been pretty stellar across the board. Nonetheless, I pray that if this is indeed true--and, for the love of François-Henri Pinault I hope it is--that McQueen stays away from the polyester.

And, not necessarily masstige, but on a similarly budget-conscious level, Alexander Wang has announced that he's creating both a line of shoes and a lower-priced line of knitwear (the latter will most likely retail for under $100). WWD has the details [subscription required]; the shoes look a little scary, but the knits look pretty good to me, kind of like a grown-up, less shrink-prone version of American Apparel. Sadly, both the shoes and the knits won't hit stores until spring 2009, but in the meantime, there's always his full-priced line, which you can find at Barneys, Nordstrom, and Shopbop.

Monday, August 04, 2008

MasstigeWatch! Target edition
Note: I am having trouble uploading images. My apologies for the visual boringness of this post.
I went to the Target in good ol' tax-free Salem, New Hampshire this weekend, and as happy as I am to have a Target nearby in Brooklyn, going to a Target in the suburbs is a completely different experience: the shelves are stocked, there aren't thousands of people everywhere, and, in all, it's a positively transporting experience. So I was happy to see, a day early, that their Richard Chai Go International collection was out on the racks--not every single piece, but a good percentage of it nonetheless. I only ended up buying this striped top (which is a lot cuter than it looks in the picture), but I tried on a bunch of other stuff. The voile top had the potential to be awesome, but on me, it looked like a maternity top. The floral-print dress, while not exactly my style, was really cute, and its classic shape will flatter a bunch of body types. I really liked this sleeveless black dress, but ended up not buying it because, really, the last thing I need is another black dress. I also really liked the long cardigan, but thought the color was going to be more of a dark purple, as opposed to a bluish lavender. Still, it's a cotton-cashmere blend, so the feel is very soft, and I like the longer length. I tried on the zip-front skirt too, and while it was cute, it was also about three inches shorter than what I can get away with for work. Although I had been really excited about it, I didn't try on the crinkled colorblock dress--it's 100% polyester and, well, looks it. The highlight for me, however, is that I was able to score a few of the far superior Rogan pieces--the romper and the mint green blazer--on mega-clearance. Yay for unfashionable New Hampshire!

While in Target, I also was able to check out all of the Botkier bags; the magenta and plain black bags were the best-looking; all of the metallics and animal-printed ones were jankety-janky-looking. Brooklyn's own Hayden-Harnett is supposedly the next accessories collaboration; let's hope they come up with better product than the last few.
The week in shopping
The Olsen twins' Elizabeth and James and LaROK are teaming up for a joint sale, with prices 75% off. I might just have to swing by. 8/5-8/7; 8-8 Tues., 10-8 Wed. & Thurs.; 145 W. 18th St. (6th & 7th Aves.).

It's final sale time at Manolo Blahnik. Need I say more? Through 8/8; 10:30-6 (closed between 2-3 daily for restocking); 31 W. 54th St. (5th & 6th Aves.).

Clothingline has something for everyone this week with Theory, Helmut Lang, Alice + Olivia, and Gryphon. Prices are a nice $20-$109. Through 8/7; 10-7 Tue. & Thurs., 10-6 Wed.; 261 W. 36th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), 2nd fl.

Rebecca & Drew's sample sale is now going on in its bricks-and-mortar store; prices are 30%-65% off. 8/5-8/17; 11-7, 11-8 Sat., noon-7 Sun.; 342 W. 13th St. (8th Ave. & Hudson St.).

If Thomas O'Brien's Target collection is too lowbrow for you, hit his full-price Aero store for furniture, textiles, and home accessories on sale. Through 8/31; 11-6 (closed Sun.).; 419 Broome St. (Crosby & Lafayette Sts.).

Flight 001's Final Boarding Call summer sale is now in effect online and in stores. Savings are 30%-75%.