Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Donald J. Pliner - Good shoes, but needs my help

I discovered Donald J. Pliner (DJP) in the early 90s at an outlet in Seacaucus, NJ. By the late 90s, my devotion was cemented at Lord & Taylor when I laid my eyes upon a pair of black leather boots that I was sure had been made expressly for me (see photo, right side). I have considered donating them to Good Will many times, but have not been able to part with them. I get them refurbished every so often, but there's only so much you can do!

I have since purchased a pair of DJP stretchy crepe boots with a silver plate at the heel (see photo, left side), and a pair of black leather sandals for my mother. They look and feel great. That, I cannot deny. However, I have two issues:

1. I am pretty sure that the prices have been jacked up, surpassing inflation, in recent years. This is probably due to growing the brand's popularity, which is understandable from a business point-of-view. However, as a result, they have lost The Guerilla Shopper as a regular customer. I recently saw a potential DJP replacement for my beloved favorite boots, but they cost well over $300...so I just couldn't do it.

2. I have been finding it increasingly difficult to find styles that are "fashion-forward." There's no doubt that the shoes are well-made, high quality and tasteful. But I'm missing that edge that I need. I need to feel like a sexy bad ass goddess with class. Only then can I consider making a purchase of relative monetary value. So sue me (well, don't, actually, I obviously couldn't afford such action).

So I'm on the fence on DJP, but not ready to throw in the towel yet. I still get a rush when I see that a store carries the brand, so there is hope.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Loehmann's - Questionable

I've mentioned Loehmann's a few times already, but I haven't yet provided my insights into the discount department store located in the old Barneys spot on 7th Ave., mainly because my mother told me, "if you don't have something nice to say, come sit next to me." OK, I actually stole that line from Olympia Dukakis in Steel Magnolias...and now that I've rendered myself completely uncool, let me continue.

Loehmann's is fantastic in theory. The ground level floor offers an accessories/jewelry section, a handbag department and a shoe boutique. One of the upper floors offers a huge selection of European and other ecclectic designers. They have some cool styles and interesting brands, and I have bought a few things there over the years, including the pictured Stella Forest sweater, which is nice, but wasn't that cheap.

That's IT! I don't think that the prices are low enough. I was shocked by the 'tag on some leather gloves the other day. $50? Thanks, I'll go to Old Navy or Daffy's. I also have a really hard time finding anything that actually fits me.

They do offer a shopping card through which you can earn points and get special coupons for additional discounts, but somehow I rarely come out feeling like I won. I want to win!

In fairness, when dealing with these kinds of discount department-type stores, you do have to accept that sometimes you score BIG, and other times you come up empty-handed. However, I shall still stand by my gut (unfortunately it's always standing by me), and implore the good people of Loehmann's to impress us with a new pricing strategy.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Financial Times: how to spend it

Do you read the Financial Times? It's the pink newspaper that is not The New York Observer. It's also the daily newspaper with the highest demographic in the world, i.e. its readers are global moguls with average incomes of like $47 billion. And they read it to figure out how to make even more next year.

I read it most everyday for my day job -- it's actually a great paper. But the best part is its weekly weekend magazine, "how to spend it." Aside from recommending exotic vacation spots and where to find the best cigars and cognacs, it features some of the most astounding couture, with styling and photography that rivals the top fashion books (or so I've heard, I hardly ever read women's magazines, believe it or not).

Like spending a day in Barneys and Bergdorf's, I merely read this insert to find out what is happening in the world of high-end fashion. I will not likely ever be able to...I mean want to - I have my principles, of course!...spend so much money on clothing. However, it is one of the sources from which I form my ideas about what looks and which designers are driving fashion. It arms me with a mind's eye of what I should be looking for as I cruise town as a (wo)man with a mission.

In the edition pictured above, an embroidered lace dress by Alexander McQueen tickles my fancy. And it only costs 4,190 GBP, which, when you take into account the strength of American currency, tranlates into something like $57,000.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Success at the Clothes Swap

I just returned from my friend Miss Meghan's apartment where she hosted a great clothes swap among friends. Everyone brought their cast-offs in hopes that they would find something better -- seeking new inspiration, for free! There were mountains of great stuff, people, food and drink, and when the dust settled, we each brought a bag of "unwanteds" to Housing Works, which is more than a thrift store, it's a non-profit that benefits homeless people living with AIDS and HIV.

So aside from doing some good works for the community, I was happy to have found a new home for my Isaac Mizrahi (pre-Target) purple velvet pants that I bought in the late 90s, and in exchange, picked up tons of stuff for myself: shoes (see pic. - Anne Klein!), jewelry, a handbag, brand new tights and more.

I also met Jason Campbell, editor of the JC Report, the online fashion mag the reports on global fashion trends...before they become trends.

And perhaps best of all, it forced me to go through my closets and drawers, and really ask myself, "am I EVER going to wear this again?" and "Why did I buy this P.O.S. in the first place?"

Fiorucci - remember?

Since I already began an 80s retrospective, I thought I'd go with that theme for a while...
There was Betsey Johnson, Benetton was new (or seemed that way), Guess? hadn't gone mass-market yet, AND there was Fiorucci...right there near Bloomingdales -- I believe it's a Diesel store now.

And while some of you may know that Fiorucci reopened downtown (and quickly closed again), it was in vain, because there is no way to recapture the 80s-Madonnaesque-retail excess of the 80s. High-end, but not. Artistic, but accessible. Trendy, and then some.

Spanning two floors, Fiorucci offered the curious tourist T-shirts and sweatshirts emblazoned with the "duo-cupids wearing sunglasses" logo. But this is where we separate the boys from the men. As in, I never bought one of those. I went for the real deal.

Now I admit I was looking at this, and likewise recalling it, from the perspective of a 13-16 year old girl. But humor me! The only evidence I have from that store are the pink rhinestone hearts you see pictured here. But I maintain vivid images of a black short-sleeved sweatshirt that didn't have a numeral printed on the back, but the word "FIRST." I still think this is genius. Then, I recall bright blue wool "skinny pants" (as the kids are calling them these days) that could probably only have been adorned by my sophmore-in-high-school frame. It was the first place I ever saw - and bought - fluorescent orange nail polish. And then there was the black "jumpsuit" (for lack of a better word) with a drawstring, made from T-shirt material.

Anyone who knows me knows that, for better or worse, all of this still influences my choices to this day! Good thing parachute pants weren't my thing...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

An Ren Boutique: The Coat that Saved Me

I have such a tale of angst and woe. A story of epic proportions. A tragedy about a Christian Dior coat -- stolen! -- right out of my friends' apartment at a New Year's Eve party several years ago...

I found the best coat ever in the whole wide world on major sale at a store in my beloved Seacaucus, NJ. This was a long time ago when I had minimal expendable cash, so it may have been the find of my life. I loved coatie - as I affectionately called him - and coatie loved me. People would oggle at coatie's fine, singular design. Alas, you already know how this sad tale ends. I quested for many many years to find a replacement, and my dear dad even gave me the money to do so. I did purchase several nice coats over the years - some at Century 21, some at Aaron's, but none truly mitgated my sense of deep loss.

Then, last year, I came upon An Ren, a women's clothing boutique located at 315 East 9th St. Although coatie can never be truly replaced, the garment I found here, at a somewhat reasonable price (less than $400) is unique, fresh and has the sickest (sickest in a good way) pink satin lining I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Perhaps not fully realized in the photo, the coat is made from a very tactile material, and the style is reminiscent of a tuxedo jacket with tails on steroids. It's freaking cool. Thank you An Ren.

Side note - if anyone is interested in getting a "Friends and Family" coupon for 30% off regularly priced merchandise at Mexx (I will write about this store one day soon) let me know, give me your email address and I will forward it to you. It's good Oct. 27 - Nov. 5 only.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Betsey Johnson: A Bit o' History

Betsey Johnson solidified my place in 80s fashion history among the minds and memories of the very small town I am from. My dad, who scoured the streets of New York for the coolest, most cutting-edge clothes around (read my first entry for the dad-shopping tale) introduced me -- believe it or not. I mean, what better place to outfit your 14-year old daughter for her 8th grade graduation, especially when she was on tap to make a speech in front of all of the students, teachers and parents? At the time, I think the only two stores in the city were on Columbus Ave. and E. 60th Street (both stores still exist). And if memory serves me, I bought the pictured dress at the Columbus Ave. location. See how I fade into the background among my friends? When my mother first saw me in it, she screamed in horror. (And the very red shoes, what little you can see of them, are from Kenneth Cole - Columbus Ave. Didn't anyone else's mother tell them that WHITE SHOES ARE UGLY?)

I continued for years to return to Betsey's, usually buying that which was on sale, and every once in a while springing for a full-price item, such as the bright yellow mini skirt with two giant zippers running up the front that could stand upright on a table by itself, like a lampshade. Or the tight, long red skirt with the silkscreened guns and bullets all over it. This stuff should be in the Smithsonian, and still exists somewhere in the depths of a basement...alas, all I can wear now are two belts - one patent-leather silver studded, the other a bright red (faux) snakeskin.

While her clothing accented my style, I find that she may have 'sold out' a bit in recent years. I seem to find her clothing and hand bags in malls and even discount department stores, such as Loehmann's. What happened to the sweaters with patterns of giant eyeballs or spiders? Where are the patent-leather ankle and wrist belts? Perhaps they are stuck in the 80s, and I may be as well, apparently.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Furniture Part III: Room and Board

About a year ago I decided that it was high time to upgrade my bedroom furniture, most of which were hand-me-downs from a neighbor when I was in SEVENTH GRADE.

So after it was confirmed with the experts that the "junior furniture" look was OUT, I started searching high and low for the perfect replacements - dressers, chests, wardrobes, and the like. Well, I am somewhat sad to report that I am still on the hunt, but I did track down one fantastic piece: a dresser from Room and Board (105 Wooster St.) with an inlay design on each drawer (see photo) from their Clearance Center for HALF price! I believe it was regularly $1,500 and I got it for around $750. It's so great that when a friend of mine recently visited my apartment she audibly gasped and proclaimed it "one of the nicest pieces of furniture" she had ever seen. This from a chick who just bought a house and is refurbishing and redoing each room - so she knows what's out there these days.

Frustratingly, I haven't yet been able to find a sister piece that would allow me to ditch the rest of my junior furniture set. I am usually attracted to the wood/antique/distressed looking genre - not anything too modern. It's a tough one. I sometimes make guilty pleasure visits to Stickley Audi on 5th Avenue between 20th-21st St., but haven't yet been able to justify the expense! Great stuff though...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Shoe Advice from G.S. NYC

Hi everyone - I just got my first real "Dear Guerilla Shopper" letter (and my response), that I thought I'd share:

Dear Guerilla Shopper:
You and I both know I don't really like to shop even though no one can dispute that I have a particular look going -- mostly that look involves lots of black and very particular levels of minimal ornament. It is extremely rare that I'm ever truly haunted by something that I must have. But every once in a blue moon something like these boots comes into my radar: http://www.activeendeavors.com/product.asp?deptid=2739&listtype=d&pfid=AED15593
Now the last time I spent that much money on a pair of boots was 4 years ago. In the heat of the moment I spent $750 on pair of Jimmy Choo ankle boots. Did I regret it? Temporarily. Except I wear them to this day and they are never going out of style, are built like Bentleys and I'll probably have them for at least ten more years. What should I do?
Not Really a Shopper
**but recently had a bump in income and has no mortgage or children.
Dear N R a S (brhabiiahnmoc):

My first thought? "Shit girl those are hotter than blazes, GO FOR IT"
I have short boots with heels like that, and I got them at DSW, so check there first just to make sure, but I have a feeling you will have to pay up on this one. Sometimes, mostly with shoes, you just can't get out inexpensively. If this will make you like the Goddess that you are, than do it. (but just check DSW first quickly, for me...)


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Furniture Part II: The Bed

So about a year or two ago I decided that I needed to upgrade my full-sized mattress and metal frame (the cheapest one that 1-800-Mattres [leave the last "s" off for savings] had at the time) to a much fancier queen-sized bed. I'm still not so sure that I didn't get ripped off by Sleepy's on the mattress part, but I did score big on the fancy bed part. After searching high and low for an iron bed without a footboard (I didn't want it to get in the way if I decided I needed to dive on it from across the room like a superhero), I found a store that I had never heard of: Charles P. Rogers at 55 W. 17th St. What I got (pictured above, the "Paris Sleigh Bed") was so great, that my friend who is an interior architect was impressed and suggested I should do some of her shopping for her! It cost about $1,200 - not a small fee, but by furniture standards, not a bad score. The photo above doesn't do it justice (what a shocker), so go to the web link and you'll get a much better view.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Furniture part I: Pink Couchie

There is something extremely important about making that leap from milk crates-and-Ikea to real live, grown-up furniture. First of all, the prices of grown-up furniture are like Crazy Eddie: INSANE. Secondly, like good shoes and haircuts, IT IS WORTH IT.

During the past several years I have painstakingly sought the perfect pieces of furniture to adorn my sprawling 1-bedroom apartment. To the point where it's arguable that nothing actually goes together, but I have convinced myself it's ecclectic and that each piece will serve as the perfect foundation for each room of that breathtaking penthouse I will certainly inherit from a long lost uncle.

Anyway, back in the real world, a couple of years ago I began a serious mission to buy a new pink couch, as the couch I "borrowed" from my parents' house had lost all hope. She and I were the same age, and she didn't wear as well. Sadly, she had lost the spring in her step...

So what did I do? I listened to my parents and visited the Furnitureland South web site where I found Drexel Heritage brand furniture and decided it looked pretty good. At the time there was a Drexel Heritage store in NYC, so I visited it, checked out the couches, the fabrics and the accessories, wrote down all of the corresponding product ID numbers and ordered it through Furnitureland South instead...for half the price (no wonder the retail store went out of business!).

So I got my $1,500 pink (OK, "salmon") couch for less than $800! As a result of having saved so much moola, I also decided to order 4 oversized throw pillows in fabulous fancy fabric of my choice. To top it all off, the kind folk at Furnitureland South delivered the goods and set it up in my pad. This kind of service cannot be overlooked!

Stay tuned for the next furniture edition: beds...

Lord & Taylor NYC (yes, I'm serious)

I tend to stay away from department stores and malls unless I know that there is something specific that I need and can only be gotten there. I have sworn off Macy's in New York - it is friggin' insane in there in every way that you can conceive. Bloomingdale's is better, but not much. Sometimes I will go to Barneys or Bergdorf's or even Henri Bendel...but just for inspiration, sort of like going to a museum where you know you are not buying a thing.

However, I am a Lord & Taylor junkie. Yes, I know - not exactly cutting edge. Probably where your grandmother or 3rd grade teacher shopped in the 70s. I don't know what is going to happen to the flagship store on 5th Avenue and 38th, now that they have been bought and I believe several L&Ts around the country are shutting down or changing to Macy's. But I digress. I go here because:
  • I get lots of coupons, 15-20% off
  • It is not crowded
  • The merchandise doesn't look like it has been dragged through the streets by a pack of wild rats
  • The salespeople are extremely nice and helpful and seem to hook you up with good deals, whether or not they were supposed to
  • The store in NYC actually has some beautiful clothes and decent designers (esp. on floor 3)
  • Their men's house label is actually very nice and much cheaper than designer
  • Because nobody cool would be caught dead here, there is lots of merchandise, on sale

I go here to buy gifts for my mom and dad because I know they can return without hassle at the L&T near their house (note to self: make sure that store still exists!).

This year, I had reason to buy two formal outfits - I got them both here, in their fancy section (floor 3), where you get to try on high-end dresses in huge personal dressing rooms. I purchased a dress by Melinda Eng to wear to the Oscars (me: seat-filler, he: my boss) for around $800 (see photo, also note shoes, which are Charles David acquired at DSW for $80). OK, to a normal person this is an eye-popping sum. And I have never spent so much on a dress. But it was originally twice that, and far less than most people paid for their gowns. I have even worn it one or two more times since then!

Then, a few months later, I bought a pink Tahari suit befitting "Lovey" from Gilligan's Island for an awards ceremony. Although I can't recall the exact price, I know that I got it for at least 25% off retail. And good thing I bought it, because I actually won the award and had to thank the audience of 800 people!

So yeah, Lord & Taylor IS your mother's store, but it's probably the best overall department store experience in town.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Project Runway: Jeffrey's Cosa Nostra Line in NYC

It should be no big surprise that one of my favorite TV shows is Bravo's Project Runway. I have been watching since season one and had already proclaimed my love for Season 2's Nick (in a platonic way, obviously). So how fantastic is it that one of my good friends, Mark (a guy I used to work for), is related to this season's Jeffrey Sebelia! Mark found out where Jeffrey's Cosa Nostra line is sold in New York, and early this afternoon we ventured to Esthete, a boutique in the meatpacking on 14th St. between 9th and 10th Aves.

We entered the cooler-than-thou store and quickly located several Cosa Nostra leather jackets for both men and women. I tried one of them on and Mark was able to quickly fire off a few digital shots before the princess of a CLERK yelled at us that "there are no photos in the store!" So we obliged and continued inspecting the remarkable style, workmanship and artistry that go into each and every one of Jeffrey's items. Now, this stuff is not exactly affordable, but the level of work on these items fully indicates that this guy has the goods. Very exciting stuff that should be worn by the hottest rock chicks in the biz. And the pictured model should obviously be gracing the cover of French Vogue.

Watch the Project Runway finale on Bravo on Wednesday at 10 p.m. EST.

BCBG Max Azria

The other day, as I was making my way down to my favorite Club Monaco on 5th Avenue in the 20s, I came across a relatively new BCBG Max Azria store (168 5th Avenue). While this store is fully retail, the clothing is quite special and beautiful, so I thought it deserved a mention here. Downstairs features more "daily wear," while the upstairs houses scores of cocktail dresses that are quite fancy. In a "ooh! isn't that fancy!" kind of way. Also upstairs is a rack or two of sale items that looked quite nice, however they were extremely summer-y, so nothing that could be worn for several months in these here parts. Go check the joint out for inspiration!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Amazing Sample Sale THIS WEEKEND: Calypso

One of my stringers, who doubles as "my very special friend" imparted me with this exciting information: Calypso (remember the jade cashmere sweater from a few posts ago? Yes, THAT Calypso) is having a huge sale at 148 Lafayette (near Canal St.).

It's this weekend only, so run - don't walk...now! Women are trucking out of there with boxloads. It's on the third floor of a big warehouse-type building. Be warned - they make you turn over ALL of your bags (including purses) upon entering, AND there are no dressing rooms. HOWEVER, there is so much stuff here - all kinds of clothing, shoes, boots, belts, hand bags and housewares at such low prices, that the pros vastly outweigh the cons.

I was so thrilled with what I got, and the prices? Unreal. Let me make it easy for you:
- Beaded gold necklace with heart clasp on one side, "13" charm on the other: Originally $270, I got for $30.
- Gem-encrusted bangles (see photo): Orginially $48 each, I got for $5 each.
- "Angel Nina" leopard print skirt, silk (see photo): Originally $400, I got for $30!
- Handmade wool "bora aksu" skirt (see photo and hold on to your hats): Originally $748, I got for $30!! It does need some very minor repairs, but well worth it.

So bottom line is, I got $1,514 worth of schtuff for...$100. That's more than 93% off retail prices. COME ON! Only in New York? Perhaps.

Helping you to beat retail at its own game,

Thursday, October 12, 2006

My Secret Favorite Store in NYC: Les Nanas

OK, I am going to share something with you. Something that I have kept a secret from almost everyone I know. Hopefully this shows my new found maturity. My favorite store in New York is...(drum roll)...Les Nanas de Gramercy on Third Ave. near 21st St.

Intimate, unique, fun, friendly, beautiful...these are just some of the words to describe this boutique, the merchandise, and the staff. Everything is straight from Paris, picked out personally by the owner, Natalie. There is something for everyone regardless of age or size. It makes me want to work there or open a Les Nanas west.

I have bought some of the coolest, most interesting sweaters, jewelry, skirts, tops, outfits and more. I typically spend several hours over two days about four or five times a year in here - the first day checking everything out, the second day trying everything on. There is so much great stuff that I have a terrible time picking out what I like best. The salespeople are excellent, knowledgable and attentive. They remember their clientele and cater to each person's needs. They are almost like a modern day hairdressers -- understanding your lifestyle and then trying to help you look better and feel great.

While it is not inexpensive, it is far cheaper than similar kinds of stores in Noho and Soho with much better service. Additionally, everything in the basement is always on sale - usually huge markdowns on last season's apparel.

Oh now I feel so vulnerable. But it shall not stop me from my Mission! Stay tuned...
Love, G.S. NYC

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My Favorite Filene's Basement

There are three Filene's Basements in Manhattan. My favorite is on Broadway @ 79th St. because it has the best clothing - don't let the dowdy window display on the 79th side fool you. The ground floor (especially on the left side, as you walk in the door) is stocked full of designer labels - from the tried and true to the more obscure. It's not a huge area so the clothes are packed in and the racks are very close to one another - so get ready to maneuver.

I had spent far more time in the other locations (on 6th Ave. and 18th St. and in Union Square - above my beloved DSW!) because this one is the furthest from my apartment. But I should have known better - I found my mom a great Adrienne Vittadini outfit there a few years ago.

The two pieces shown in today's pulitzer-prize winning photo are both Ted Baker - each, originally $195, were given a home (by me) for $69.99 a piece. Thats both for a total of $139.98, still $55.02 less than one piece would have cost at retail.

The line for the dressing room in here can get a bit long and tedious, snaking through the exercise gear -- so volunteer to do your fittings in the "community" room located in the rear of the dressing room. Three-to-four people can fit in there, and we're all Ladies with a capital "L," so who cares. You need to use your time wisely so that you can squeeze more econoshopping into your day. Time is money!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Store Credit Cards

"10% off now if you sign up for our credit card..." Ten percent! What a great idea...Sign me up!

I've had credit cards from Bloomingdales, Macy's, Lord & Taylor, The Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Annie Sez, Mexx...and who knows how many others. Not only did I get 10% off my first purchase, but it gave me access to coupons, catalogs, special sales...and...a BLACK MARK ON MY CREDIT.

Ladies (and those in touch with their feminine sides): Signing up for too many store credit cards can result in this message on your credit report: "Your report shows that the available credit across your open, recently reported revolving accounts, such as a credit card, it too low. Having low available credit amounts on revolving accounts has a negative impact on your credit score."

After seeing this, I cancelled most of my store credit cards with the exception of 2 or 3 that I actually benefit from. I didn't even know that most of my store credit cards had low limits of $400-$500. Who knew? Why bother?

I implore you to follow my lead on this one as it's much more empowering to (eventually) own a home than 17 pairs of jeans.

Until next time, enjoy the bucolic scenery.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Vintage Jewelry

Have you been to the Candy Store on Lafayette near Houston? If not, you should go. It's a great little vintage accessories shop offering shoes, jewelry, PURSES, belts, gloves, hats and more. The kinds of things that I have happily acquired from relatives over the years.

I went down there earlier this year on a quest for the perfect earrings to go with the perfect dress for the Oscars. Yes, those Oscars. Except I wasn't a nominee, I was a seat-filler. Kind of like Kramer in that episode of Seinfeld. Anyway, the helpful gents assisted me in honing down my choices from a gaggle of options. Better yet, they allowed me to take two pairs home to determine which went better with the dress and then return one the next day. This was very accommodating of them, as returns are normally against their policy (I think they might do store credit, however). So I ended up with a fantastic pair of German vintage earrings for about $70-$80 that are among my favorites ever. And if I knew how to take a picture you would believe it. I guess you'll have to trust me on this one.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Woodbury Commons: Tahari

I wasn't exactly sure how to come at the Woodbury Commons topic - so vast, so complex, so crowded...so off the New York State Thruway (exit 16). My main advice to you is this: call in sick at work and go during the week - and not on a holiday. There are buses and trains that go up there if you aren't blessed with a car or helicopter to call your own.

One of my favorite stores at this outdoor mall experience is Tahari. Why? Because I got this suit there (there's a knee-length skirt underneath this fab coat) for $239.95 - regularly $798 - for a savings of $558.05. However, I am having the darndest time finding the perfect top and shoes to go with it - see even the Guerilla Shopper faces tragic shopping adversity.

Looking back on my most recent journey to the WC in early September, I think my favorite stores are: Escada (amazing vibrant colors), Diane VonFurstenberg (a vast array of styles, much to my glee) and Ferragamo (talk about quality). There was another shoe store that I had never heard of called Pancaldi -- very European looking stuff; interesting. OK fine, I'll admit it! The Coach store too (the G.S. usually rebuffs such pervasive brands...but this brand has got it going on, tons of merch in here).

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Marc Jacobs Quickie

My friend Kim asked me last night where I thought she could get Marc Jacobs black leather platforms. So while I wasn't sure about the style, I did tell her that I recently saw Marc Jacobs shoes at Loehman's and Century 21. Thought I should share this nugget with my publics.

Club Monaco

There's one on 57th St., another in Soho and a couple uptown. But the point is that the best Club Monaco is on 5th Ave. in the 20s. While there is a constant sale area in the back on the left hand side, it is one of the few stores that I am willing to pay retail prices in. Why? Well I think it might be because for me it's where the Warehouse (what happened to that store by the way?) left off, now that I'm a more "mature" woman. The clothes kind of rock, as you can see from the photo, they rocked so much tonight that they passed out without me in them.
But what happened to the makeup section? I ran out of "Beam" lipstick ages ago...Redeemingly, if that's a word, they have unique accessories, such as a necklace made of buttons claimed to have been found in their original packaging at a flea market in Germany. While quite inspiring, not inspiring enough to spend $79 on. Similarly, I couldn't quite justify spending $99 for a very thin cashmere scarf. Maybe they'll go on sale soon? Maybe not. I'll live regardless.

There's also a men's section downstairs, but let's just say your man has to be on the "European" side to shop there...nudge nudge wink wink know what I mean.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Best Daffy's in Town

Remember when Daffy's was called "Daffy Dan's?" - I do. Hopefully this tidbit is another piece of evidence, proving to you my lifelong devotion to the sport of shopping.

So let's cut to the chase. The best Daffy's in the City is in Herald Square, across from Macy's. OK, so you have to take the annoying elevator up past the DMV - but you get to look out the big windows! Anyway, I scored this lovely jade CASHMERE sweater by Calypso in there a couple of weeks ago for...wait for it...wait for it...$29.99. I think it was supposed to be $49.99, but take it from the pro: Don't blink when the register mischarges you. Unless it over-charges you and then in that case freak out and dump the the novelty umbrellas on the floor in a rage.

They recently closed the Daffy's on 5th Ave. in the 20s, but that's OK because it sucked. I sometimes run into the Daffy's on Madison and 44th during my lunch hour, but I haven't found anything great for me in there. I did, however, score 2 amazing Michael Kors shirts and a coat for my y-boyfriend last year -- all for a total of $100!
Also, if you're willing to brave Route 4 in Paramus, NJ, the Daffy's there has pretty good merch, especially the shoes.

Oh how many people have I fooled with my at-cost outfits from Daffy's!? Hooray!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Choose your Shoes: DSW

I have ever so much to say on the subject of shoes. Today's insight is: cheap shoes are a waste of your time and money. Cheap shoes will make any outfit look dowdy, wear out quickly, and are more likely to fit improperly. Just ask my friend Ms. Meghan (the shoe guru).

When I say cheap, I don't necessarily mean "inexpensive," but I have found that it is not as easy to find great cheap shoes as it is to find great cheap clothing. However, there are a few beacons of light...one is DSW in Union Square.

I've been to a few DSWs in Queens, Brooklyn and New Jersey, but we're in the Big City, kids, and DSW is smart enough to know that scores of Carrie Bradshaw wannabes need their Marc Jacobs, Jimmy Choo, Miu Miu, Kate Spade, Kenneth Cole, Cole Haan and so on...merely offering 16 varieties of Timberlands ain't gonna cut it in Money Makin'.

Get ready to spend a lot of time here - it is an enormous store with tons of merchandise that they say is refreshed on a daily basis. I almost believe them too because when I went 6 weeks ago, I left with only one pair of Cole Haan black suede & leather mary janes [see photo]. Two weeks later? For $404 I walked out of there with three pairs of boots (Tommy Hilfiger brown suede, Kenzi short black leather with crazy heel, and crazy hot Michael Kors black leather lace-ups [see photo]) and a pair of men's (yes men's too) Mizuno running shoes for my y-boyfriend a.k.a. "my very special friend" that he can wear to his new hospital gig in the woods...(oooh, scary...)

So while this might seem to pale in comparison to my earlier story of scoring 3 pairs of Kenneth Coles for $90 in Seacaucus, we're talking LEATHER BOOTS - and I don't know if you noticed recently, but walk into any department store or high-end shoe boutique worth their salt and a pair of boots cost a minimum of $700 and more (meanwhile, I missed the memo on this one - when did that happen?!)

Also, DSW has scores of sales racks full of shoes for an additional 20-80% off. I bought a pair of strappy black Charles David sandals this way last winter and if I could figure out how to post more than one photo at a time on this thing I'd show you.

And if all of this weren't enough, they also have a rewards program where you get gift certificates depending on how much money you have spent. I used one for $30 during the "big boot score" a few weeks ago, and am expecting another one in the mail any day now. I am gunning for the DSW Premier Rewards program whereby I will be treated like a shoe goddess.

Oh, they also have purses. Ew...I really hate that word.


Hi all - Just back from LA and it is LATE. But I thought I'd get in a quickie before retiring. When in need of socks, tights, stockings and the like you can't go wrong by stopping by The Sock Man at 27 St. Mark's Place. For such a tiny shop, you can find thousands of styles, colors, designs and sizes at a reasonable price. It kind of has to be seen to be believed anyway, so drop in and stock your sock drawer.

I didn't have any sock pictures handy at this late hour, so I thought I'd entertain you with the Yoda Bunny instead. Godspeed.

Monday, October 02, 2006

4 Seasons - Beverly Hills / Travel for Clothes!

OK, before disclose my next shopping tidbit I just have to say that if you ever get the chance to have someone else pay for you to stay at the Four Seasons - Beverly Hills - TAKE THEM UP ON IT. I am here now for my "day job" and was surprised shortly after checking in with a tray of chocolate covered strawberries and a bottle of evian (see low-budget phone photo>>). Oh joy. But I digress...

Oh I have so many pearls of wisdom, stories, triumphs and failures to share, but today's lesson in shopping is this:
Be Willing to Travel for Good Deals - As I mention in my Blog intro (see orange box), I learned this from my parents. My mother would travel to Seacaucus, NJ to get cool, different garb at LOW low prices. Although Seacaucus still brags multiple outlets and malls (Kenneth Cole being one of the best - also Calvin Klein, Jill Sander, YSL and more!), back in the day they were literally warehouses with no heat, cluttered with boxes and bins.

And ever the shopping adventurer, my father traveled to Aaron's on Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn to buy gifts for my mother and eventually me. And believe me, in the 70s and 80s this 'hood was not your trendy younger brother's Park Slope.

Ever the good daughter, I have kept up the family tradition. If you have a car or are willing to hop the bus, Seacaucus is very close to the City off route 3 right near the Lincoln Tunnel (but get directions, I always get lost!). On one of my more successful jaunts, I scored 3 pairs of Kenneth Cole shoes for a grand total of $90(!) -- I get complimented on all of them regularly.

As for Aaron's...well, after keeping up the family tradition for a decade and taking the 40+ minute ride on the snail's-pace R train for the sole purpose of visiting this exciting store in which I would spend 3 hours trying on at least 20 items, I am sad to report that Y2K has taken its toll. I visited a couple of weeks ago to find the store literally cut in half and the inventory quality and intrigue to be vastly diminished from its glory days...what happened to the days when I could buy black satin sequined Tahari trousers? What about the great deals on Barcelona Custo tops? A red velvet Italian made coat? My ghetto fabulous "Taurus" necklace? They are long gone my friends...and so am I. And the new bagel store across the street sucks too.

I have more to say on this topic (read: Woodbury Commons), but I will hold off until I can illustrate some of my recent successes visually.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

DEBUTING TODAY: Guerilla Shopper NYC

For decades I have been keeping my shopping techniques secret. People always ask me, "where did you get that!?" I rarely gave a straight answer because my wardrobe is my signature and I didn't want others to encroach upon my style. But now I'm older, wiser, and more willing to share (this coming from an only child). So you're in luck...the timing is right!

While I make a decent living, I am not independently wealthy by any means. I grew up in a very middle class way (in the 70s and 80s, before 12 year olds got weekly manicures) as the child of midwestern parents, so I'm fairly low key and down to earth. However, my shopping technique has allowed me to own closets and closets full of great pants, shirts, skirts, sweaters, suits, dresses, shoes, boots...without being in any debt...EVER.

Some general tips that have afforded me this fun fashion-filled life include:
- Don't be a label "ho." I know generally which brands are cool and quality, but I don't seek "brands" per se. I have never owned anything Gucci, Prada, or Armani, for example.
- Accessories take a back seat. RECYCLE them! I have lots of belts, bags, and jewelry, but I've had many of them for decades, literally, and have "inherited" many others from family members and friends. Bottom line is I just don't like "purses" that much. Even the word annoys me.
- When you buy something new, get rid of something old. OK, I've been a little bit negligent on this point recently myself, but at least do a major closet purge 2x a year. And make sure that you give your cast-offs to Good Will, the local church, etc. OR plan a clothing swap with friends and share the wealth! I have gotten some great stuff this way - FOR FREE!
- Don't buy it if you don't love it. Otherwise you will be wasting your hard-earned money on garments that don't make you feel great. You need to feel great...everyday - it will make the rest of your life better. I promise.
- Spend money on your hair. "Huh?" you might ask...Again, I promise you. Having great hair will make you feel great AND it will make your clothing look more expensive.