Monday, April 29, 2013

The 5 sample sales to hit this week

Once upon a time, I used to list every single sample sale in NYC every week. It was, to put it mildly, time consuming. Then I started to dread Mondays about 5,000 times more than I normally dreaded Mondays, so I stopped. (And, anyway, sites like Racked NY started to cover them way better than I could.) But every so often, sales so great come along, I can't help but share them. Here are five must-hit sample sales this week.

I hit the Friends & Family preview of the Thakoon sale this morning, and all I have to say is OMG. Everything is $200 or less; there's a room full of samples, mostly priced in the $50-$150 range, and a room of stock mostly in the $100-$200 range. Both Thakoon and Addition are in heavy supply; if you are a size 4, you will hit the sample jackpot. Through 5/3; 8:30-6:30: 225 Varick (at Houston), ste. 300.

Pretty much every girl I know loves Elizabeth and James (myself included), so all I really need to say is that clothes, shoes, jewelry, and accessories are up to 80% off. 5/2-5/3; 11-7; 233 Spring St. (6th Ave. & Varick), 10th fl.

Yigal Azrouel became famous for making sexy, draped dresses and perfectly cut leather jackets, but in recent years, he's taken a more refined, sophisticated turn. And because I love a designer who can age with me (and who starts a secondary line, in this case Cut 25, for those of us who never want to grow up), I highly recommend this sale, which tends to have a fantastic selection of actual samples. It runs 5/2-5/5; 10-7; 129 Grand Street (Broadway & Crosby St.).

Because I think one's apartment should look as good as one's closet, hit Madeline Weinrib's sample sale benefitting the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. You can score her lovely printed pillows, rugs, fabrics, and furniture for 40-70% off and, yes, you will help cure cancer. Really! 5/3-5/5; 10-6; MSKCC Thrift Shop, 1440 3rd Ave. (81st & 82nd Sts.).

And if you've ever experienced the hair-pulling frustration of attempting to shop Gilt Groupe's end-of-season clearance sales online, I have a treat for you: The Gilt City Warehouse Sale. Ok, it's $10 to get in, but there will be drinks, snacks, Uber gift certificates, and, yes, clothing and accessories for men, women, children, and the home for up to 90% off. You must be a Gilt member to attend, so join now if you haven't already! 5/4; 11-9; the Altman Building, 135 W. 18th St. (6th & 7th Aves.).



TheFind Guest Post: Denim Trend Report: Look Fit in Flares!



Girls like me who practically live in jeans aren't exactly short on options in this fashionable day and age. Cropped, bootcut, skinny, boyfriend-inspired styles in all types of prints and patterns – the possibilities are nearly endless, and the term "blue jeans" is hardly an accurate descriptor for America's favorite go-to casual pants. The latest jean trend to make a serious comeback this season? Flares! The key to pulling them off the modern "bell bottom" in 2013 is to make sure the flare isn't too wide, and make sure they're long enough to pair with heels or platform espadrilles to elongate your legs for the most flattering look. To keep the look from appearing too sloppy, pair your modern flared denim with a top that's either fitted or can be tucked in (or half-tucked!) to offset the volume down below and show off your shape! Not convinced? Shop some of my favorites in the links below and see for yourself! From left to right: Blank Denim Flare Jeans, Rachel Zoe Rachel Flare Jeans, and J Brand Love Story Flare Jeans. - Alexandra Gambardella

Content provided by TheFind in partnership with Cheryl Shops. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Spring Shopping Guide: Metal Corner Bags

I agonized over what to call this trend: metal-tipped bags? Metal-trim bags? Metal-edged bags? It's a very specific trend, but one that I'm seeing more and more. I found "metal corner" to be the most descriptive of what I want: A soft, slouchy leather bag, edged in metal at the corners—sometimes the bottom, sometimes the flap, sometimes the top. It's a subtle execution of hardware trim, and it gives these bags a quietly luxe look, no matter what the price.

$$$
The bag that inspired this post is 3.1 Phillip Lim's Scout drawstring tote. Lim has been killing it lately with his bags, and this one is no exception—I was drawn to it from about 50 feet away. The leather is soft and slouchy, which is a nice counterpart to the thick (but not too heavy) gold trim at the corners. Even better, there's just one shoulder strap, making it the perfect combination of hobo and tote.


I've long admired Alexander Wang's Emile Tote, however whenever I pick one up, I realize it suffers from the same fate of nearly every Wang bag: It's damn heavy. Still, if you don't actually have to carry it anywhere—or if you're freakishly strong—it's a beauty.

If Gucci were a city, it would be Vegas: expensive, decadent, and a yet little trashy. It's that balance of luxury and sex that makes bags like the 1970 hobo—one of the more glamorous shoulder bags out there—so perfect.


$$
Loeffler Randall is churning out some of the coolest bags I've seen in awhile; my one (tiny) complaint is that the best ones are too small for me and all my daily crap. Still, with its metal chain strap and corners, the pochette bag is almost enough to make me pare down (or, at least, make it my go-to evening bag).


One of my biggest regrets is selling my Foley + Corinna city tote on eBay; wherever it is, I hope its owner is enjoying it. Their bags are so soft and thoughtfully made, I'm thinking of pulling the trigger on this equally cool, updated frame tote.


And speaking of bag designers I love, this metal corner clutch from Rebecca Minkoff is fun, fun, fun. (Which reminds me, it's time to break out my neon mini MAC!)



$
Below $100, knockoffs abound, and this Warehouse tote is pretty much a blatant copy of Alexander Wang's Prisma tote. But if that doesn't bother you, it's a practical shape and color—a chic update to an everyday bag.


I like this Obey satchel because it's a more luxe update of that ubiquitous schoolboy satchel that's been everywhere for a few seasons now (and with good reason—it's a very versatile style).



But while we're at this price, why not have a little fun? This tassel-detail clutch is one of my favorites in the bunch—and under $25 at that!


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spring Shopping Guide: Vertical Stripes

Horizontal stripes are such a wardrobe staple (and a perennial best-seller) that I'm surprised designers didn't push vertical stripes on us sooner. Granted, stripes and geometric patterns of all kinds were all over the spring runways, but since no one likes to look like a prisoner in wide horizontal stripes, let's focus on the flattering properties of the vertical variety.

$$$
I find Marc Jacobs fascinating as a designer, in that he manages to totally reinvent the look of his label every season. The common thread is that's there's usually a strong vintage undercurrent, and for spring, he went very mod and minimal, with stripes and checkerboard patterns. While many of the pieces had somewhat of a boxy fit, I think they work better with vertical lines, as in this sequined tunic and trouser skirt.


For a more subtle approach, this Lanvin striped blazer has much wider stripes, so the effect is almost more of a super-slimming colorblocked one, rather than an obviously striped one.


But if it's obvious you want, there's always this Balmain striped shirt. This is a pretty versatile piece—Balmain probably wants you to wear it with skinny leather pants (and you can), but I'd roll up the sleeves, unbutton a few buttons, and wear it with jeans.


$$
At the end of Fashion Week last September, Juicy Couture invited everyone to a party out in the courtyard at Lincoln Center, with pink champagne and a video directed by Zoe Cassavetes. These striped jeans made an appearance in the video, and I'm glad to see them looking even better than I remember.


Striped skinny jeans can be tricky, however, especially if your legs are of the more muscular variety. These Club Monaco pants are a bit more forgiving, with their looser fit and narrower stripes.


While there's something kind of mod and androgynous about vertical stripes, this Bailey 44 dress manages to be quite feminine, and with the waist-nipping crisscross effect at the waist, the cut is pretty much universally flattering. Win-win!


$
But back to pants for a moment, these BlankNYC striped skinny jeans are one of my favorite items in the bunch. Yes, the stripes are almost closer to a pinstripe than a true vertical stripe, but they have the genius addition of a thick black inset at the inseam—just the part where I'd worry about the stripes pulling.


Forever 21, always a great source for fleeting trends, has a ton of striped merch, like this striped shirt, styled almost exactly as how I'd wear the Balmain above. It's also a hundredth of the price, so it has that going for it.


Another of my favorite items in this trend is this unexpectedly sexy ASOS striped pencil skirt. It's more fitted than the Marc Jacobs skirt above, and while you wouldn't think that wider stripes would be more flattering, I think these are. I also like the midcalf length, which nicely balances the curve-hugging fit.


TheFind Guest Post: Four Fresh Spring Spins on the Chambray Shirt



The button-up chambray shirt is one of my favorite spring wardrobe staples – it's casual yet cute, laidback without being sloppy, and – best of all – it's incredibly versatile. And now that the style has been "in" for a few years now, this season is bringing forth some fun updates to the classic style, from studs to leather accents and more. Whether you're brave enough to rock denim on denim, or just want a stylish over-layer for your festive spring dresses, check out my favorite spring spins on the chambray shirt!

Studs and spikes: Rocker-inspired accents and hardware like studs, spikes, and rhinestones give this otherwise preppy look an edgier vibe. Pictured above: Forever 21 Spiked & Studded Chambray Shirt

Prints and patterns: From floral to polka dots and beyond – all our favorite jeans are getting the patterned treatment, so why not our denim shirts? Pair with leggings or some contrasting colored denim for maximum effect! Pictured above: Band of Gypsies Floral Chambray Shirt

Dip-dyed: Tie-dye, ombre effect, or dip-dyed – this style has a decidedly DIY vibe, but you have to admit – it brings back awesome memories from summer camp. Just me? Pictured above: Warehouse Western Shirt in Dip Dye

Leather accents: Last fall and winter saw plenty of leather accents – dresses, contrasting-sleeve parkas, and even t-shirts – so it's only fitting that our favorite spring fare should get the same treatment! Pictured above: IRO Travis Denim Shirt 

- Alexandra Gambardella

Content provided by TheFind in partnership with Cheryl Shops.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Spring Shopping Guide: Lucite-Heel Sandals

A year ago, if you had told me I'd be writing about Lucite-heeled sandals, I'd have asked you, "Did I start working at a strip club?" Funny how all it takes is one designer to subvert the stereotype, and all of a sudden, reinvented stripper shoes are everywhere. (Even here.) Granted, see-through heels aside, this season's footwear looks nothing like that found on the feet of ladies of the night; the key is that these styles feature a chunkier heel or even a wedge versus a stiletto. But if you do see any of these up on the pole, well, you've landed yourself at one classy strip joint, my friend.

$$$
Leave it to Lanvin to make Lucite classy—with a five-inch clear wedge heel, these sandals have the cool effect of making the foot look like it's cantilevered over the thick black platform. I also love the scalloped straps, which are très Parisienne.


Compared to the above shoe, Stella McCartney's Tess platform sandals would almost look downright dowdy, with their almost flatform-like shape. However, they're incredibly sleek and sculptural, and with the Lucite extending below the toe, it creates the effect of your foot floating, goddess-like, on air.


But, should you really want to look like a stripper—a high-end stripper—then there's always Casadei's red patent leather sandals, the finest stripper shoes money can buy.


$$
At the mid-range price point, there are some lovely, refined options, like this Stuart Weitzman Theone sandal. With the camel-colored leather straps and Lucite heel, these are pretty much guaranteed to give you the longest, sexiest legs of your life. I'm actually afraid to buy these, lest I never want to wear any of my other shoes again.


For a more practical take on the trend, there's Loeffler Randall's Heddie sandals, which are nearly sold out everywhere (but, whee, still in my size at Les Nouvelles!). In spite of the minimal heel, they'll still give you a nice lengthening effect with the bonus of being totally walkable.


Hands down, one of my favorite pairs is the Lana wedge sandal by MICHAEL Michael Kors. It's simple, it's perfect, and the price is right. Really, what else can I say?


$
On the edgier side, these Jeffrey Campbell Soiree sandals have a thicker black strap around the ankle, a back zipper, and a clear band across the instep. I should note that in spite of the 4.25" heel on this pair, I tend to find Jeffrey Campbell shoes quite comfortable.


Of course, one does not have to pay runway prices for a classic look (well, as classic as Lucite heels can be): This chic pair from Deena & Ozzy is just $49.99.


Aldo's Aserri sandals have been featured in a slew of fashion magazines, and at $100, they're pretty much a no-brainer. I like that they're a T-strap, which has the added effect of elongating the leg, especially if you go for the nude color. Maybe once you go Lucite, you never go back?


Monday, April 08, 2013

Spring Shopping Guide: Ikat Prints

Just last week, I was having one of my periodic dramatic moments in which I wondered if we'd ever see spring, because I'd simply die if I had to wear my winter coat one more day. And then, all of a sudden, today was gorgeous. Spring at long last, and thus a totally appropriate time to begin my spring shopping guide posts. First up are ikat prints, which are totally not a new thing—especially if you shop in department stores, which have been pushing them for several seasons now—but in the deft hands of Joseph Altuzarra, ikat looks incredibly fresh and summer-appropriate. Summer, you say? I thought we were talking about spring! Well, as we all know, spring lasts like five seconds in NYC, so let's get straight to the good stuff, before the weather beats us!

$$$
All options in the $$$ section are from Mr. Altuzarra, but the print that really got my attention was the blue version, as seen in this deliciously flattering sheath dress. Now, Altuzarra is a smart designer, not because of his obvious talent, but because of his marketing skills as well--he's mentioned that he designs with an older woman in mind—smart, because that's who can actually afford to pay $2,000 for a dress.


You know Altuzarra really has a good thing on his hands with these ikat prints, because I tend to hate the color orange and yet I love the warm color scheme of this ikat-print pencil skirt. Once again, the cut is flattering (who doesn't look good in a pencil skirt?), with big patch pockets to slim the hips even further. And did I mention it's made of silk?

Surprisingly, the most affordable of the three featured looks in this category is Altuzarra's Nyala dress (okay, $1675 is by no means a bargain, but give me a moment). It's one of those dresses that looks like a top and a skirt, which normally I find a bit contrived, but this one looks natural and well-balanced and interesting. It's also the most subtle ikat interpretation of the three, meaning it will live in your closet forever.

$$
Thankfully, if you don't have $2k to drop on a daytime dress, there are plenty of great lower-priced options, including this leather-trim sheath by Milly by Michelle Smith. This is what we in the biz call a "desk-to-dinner dress" (the meaning is fairly clear) and thus a worthy investment.


BCBG is chock full of groovy block prints this season, and while they're not technically ikat prints, they're pretty darn similar, and much more wallet friendly. The Elouise sheath dress also falls into that coveted desk-to-dinner category, with the bonus of fun hot-pink trim.


But if you want something a little trendier, there's Otte's Ellen dress, a more casual fluid style with a high-low hem. You can wear it to brunch or even to the beach, but I'd throw on a belt and take it out for a night on the town.

$
As I mentioned earlier, department stores have been fans of ikat for several seasons now, so it's not surprising that all of a sudden, polo tops like this one by Anne Klein all of a sudden look trendy. But if anyone asks, you'll say it's vintage, right?


And, really, why even bother shelling out nearly $2,000 for the Altuzarra when this Jones New York ikat-print skirt is $39 (plus an extra 30% off at checkout at press time)? Okay, it's not silk and you'll probably need to size down (bonus!), but hello.



I particularly like this Everly Clothing ikat-print blouse from Piperlime, because the scale of the ikat print is so tiny that it doesn't scream IKAT, making it much more versatile and work-friendly. I'd actually wear this with another print, like a striped or tie-dyed skirt, but it's the kind of piece that also looks great with jeans or cargo pants or capris...or, you know, everything.


Monday, April 01, 2013

Object of Desire: 3.1 Phillip Lim Floral Pashli Mini Satchel

I don't talk about my day job here—mostly because I don't want to get fired—but I will say that last week, something rather unexpected happened, which was that I got promoted out of the blue. With that promotion came a raise, and I have a rule, which is that whenever I get a raise, I treat myself to a new bag. Since I was not at all expecting this windfall, I must say, I'm enjoying exploring the possibilities of what to do with it. And while my desires tend toward the classic, part of me wants something slightly more impractical. The current front-runner is the 3.1 Phillip Lim floral Pashli mini satchel, which has "impulse buy" written all over it. First of all, it has the word "mini" in its name, which is code for "way too small for everyday use." Then there's the floral print, which is a bit limiting (or my new favorite fashion word, "specific"). Not to mention the price, which is still a bit above my comfort level. But if I may pay devil's advocate with myself, one of my favorite bags is "mini" (my Balenciaga first), and I carry it all the time, practicality be damned. The floral print is, yes, specific, but with the black trim, it's just neutral enough that you can get away wearing it with everything (hey, it's a statement piece!). And as for the price, well, I'm worth it, aren't I? All I need to sweeten the deal is one of Les Nouvelles' periodic promo codes. Stay tuned...

TheFind Guest Post: Ladylike Edge: Peplum and Leather Join Forces For These Spring Pieces



 Leather has been a longtime fashion go-to for edging up and elevating almost any casual ensemble – the leather moto jacket, leather leggings, and lately, leather-sleeved sweatshirts, tees, and even shorts and skirts. It never fails to make your look a little more bad-ass and effortlessly cool, and a little less like you just rolled out of bed and threw something on (even if you did). Peplum, on the other hand, is the epitome of girly sophistication – flirty, ruffly, and chic – helping to adding shape where you might need a little more va-va-voom, or emphasizing killer curves you already have. Put your hands together and you've got yourself a seriously stylish, flirty-meets-tough girl effect that's not too intimidating to pull off. From peplum leather tanks – which pair perfectly with slacks, denim, or even your favorite pencil skirt – to peplum leather dresses, skirts, and jackets, these trendy pieces straddle the line between edgy and sophisticated, and can be easily transitioned from work to play! From left to right: The Row Stretch-Leather Peplum Jacket, Alice + Olivia Victoria Leather-Top Dress, Amanda Uprichard Two-Tone Leather Peplum Top, and Elie Tahari Naomi Skirt in Lagoon. —Alexandra Gambardella

Content provided by TheFind in partnership with Cheryl Shops.