Friday, December 22, 2006

iPod and a Taxi Ride

Here's my question: is it ok to listen to your iPod while you're a passenger in a taxi? I've wanted to do it a number of times but apparently it's kind of tacky. Or am I just making that up?

Do let me know what your thoughts are.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Hip Hope

Reflect upon it and relish in it - the hip hop of our generation is finally back en vogue. Not lying y'all. There's a reason why The Bridge is a featured show on NYCTV and I think it goes beyond the fact that a lot of those dudes are in and around NY and can easily be interviewed.

It's been between 10 and 15 years since our absolute favorites - De La Soul, Digable Planets and Tribe Called Quest - were uberpopular so it's about time for a resurgence. Everything's cyclical and these groups are coming back up to the top of the trend circle.

Mark my words. I don't go to the clubs or the rave parties but if they aren't sampling it a ton yet they very soon will be. If you are of the younger person persuasion and you know what I'm talking about please post ye a comment. If you think I'm off the mark then let me know about that too.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I'll Take You to the Tailor Shop

Dear Caroline,

Where can I find a good tailor in downtown Manhattan?

--Desirous of Fitting Duds


Dear Desirous,

Stanton Tailor Shop on (where else) Stanton Street at the corner of Orchard Street is where it's at.

Dear Caroline,

This was easily one of the best recommendations I've ever received in New York. I finally made it down there yesterday to get this cashmere overcoat tailored. They were closed when I got there, but I called and he opened up to fit me. He said I really needed three sizes taken down, which sounded to me like a lot of work. He asked when I wanted to pick it up, I said next week if they could do it by then. He said how about tonight. This was about 1PM yesterday. I picked it up at 6:30PM. It fit great, and only cost $35. I can't believe a place like that exists in New York. Thanks, Caroline.


I wish I could take all the credit for this wonderful experience but JK was the original discoverer of Stanton Tailor Shop. Can you feel the pay-it-forward love? Here's to well-fitting clothing!

Overheard at DSW

"I think it builds character to not buy what you want." --Fellow DSW shopper on December 16

So what, my dear, does it mean when you do in fact buy what you want? Defamation of character? HeeheehahaHO

Speaking of DSW - the one on Union Square has hot with a capital "H" (HOT!) Chloe, Botkier and Gucci bags. If you have an extra $500 - $1500 and have been coveting one of these bags, get thee to DSDubs.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bell-sleeved Shirts

What's with bell-sleeved shirts? Why are we so drawn to them? Probably nine times out of ten they are not flattering. I bought one such shirt with KH at the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets at Calvin Klein. It's a cool shirt for sure, but the reality is that whenever I wear it I am constantly pulling at the cuffs with my fingers to get the sleeves over my hands.

You know the routine: we started it around age awkward and now we are trying very desperately to phase it out of our lives (kind of like the word "like" when used as a filler word). The classic sleeve-yank. My latest take on it is that due to our circulation issues, the tips of our fingers tend to get cold easily and therefore we yank for the sake of warmth.

Like sleeve-yanking, bell-sleeves are decidedly 1980s. I think I'm over them, and it's like about time.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sigerson Morrison Sample Sale NYC

This just in from the front lines: you must attend this sale if you have time today! Shoes are $70-$75, sandals are even less than that ($45, I think) and boots are $100. This is Sigerson Morrison, ladies! I was blown away and got 2 pairs of flats and 2 heeled sandals. Oh goodness gracious get yourself there today because this is the last day. I guess it's more of a warehouse sale than a sample sale, but you catch my drift. It's a saleabration!

Be forewarned about one BIG caveat. I went last night around 6:40 pm because according to Daily Candy it was over at 7:30. In fact the reality was that they stopped letting people in at 6 pm even though there was a substantial line down the block! The women were just waiting there. When the woman running the show came out to once again announce that they were not letting people in, I started haranguing her. Then a woman in line suggested giving us vouchers for the next day to get right in and bypass the line. Yes, I got me a voucher and got there this morning at 8:30 am when it opened. The line was again long but the voucher did the trick! The bottom line: Ladies with flexible schedules today will get the most out of this experience.

Location: 180 Lafayette between Grand and Broome Streets

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Shiny McPuffy Trend

When I was in high school it was JCrew, Patagonia, Tweeds, maybe LLBean and the Salvation Army. We all looked the same and that was exactly the point. Ok, nothing new there. Flash forward 14 years and everywhere I turn in the East or West Village I see this shiny puffy winter jacket from Patagonia.



Actually, it's not even technically a jacket but rather a "down sweater." Now I love Patagonia as much as the next guy or gal. When the temperature drops I say bring on the fleece, but have we become so provincial that this is all we can come up with for Winter 2006? Oh and when I say "we" I mean those of us who are men and live downtown.

Guys, high school is over - college is too (I know you're not NYU students). Enjoy brunch, drink expensive wine, celebrate not having homework, be an individual and wear original outerwear.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Naughty or Nice?

Just in time for the day-after-Halloween crazy Christmas retail push, I'm making my list and will probably check in on it a few more times...

Naughty

LaRedoute.com
Quelle dommage! La Redoute disappointed me big time by delivering a shirt instead of a skirt and when I sent it back I got a shirt back again. Trop mal.

Gifts.com
Stop showing commercials on TV if you don't have the server capacity for all the visitors you're going to receive after a commercial runs and sends people to your site!

Nice

Bluefly.com
I know I've already given it my stamp of approval by listing it off to the right under "Cool Shopping Sites," but can I please say that I love Bluefly? I only wish that I had $1000 a month to spend on the site. Luckily for me I can do wish list shopping as its shopping bag functionality saves past additions until I remove them (or they get sold out). The company keeps improving the browse options and apparently there are only more enhancements to come, according to an inside source on the development team.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Vintage Advantage

What was once considered used is now vintage. We shop the racks at vintage clothing shops and sift through styles that packed our mothers' and grandmothers' closets. Add insult to injury, most vintage shops in NYC nowadays are overpriced and staffed with some of the most obnoxious people this city has to offer.

Case in point: JK and I walked into one of those shops in the Lower East Side and JK innocently commented about the name and inventory of the place, as it had obviously changed since the last time we had been in. Well I'll be damned if one of the salespeople didn't pounce and instantly make some pissy comment in reply. Here was a perfect opportunity to sell, sell, sell your returning customers on the benefit of shopping at the new-and-improved vintage shop - one of MANY in the neighborhood and NYC in general - and instead this woman chose to go the bitch route. During our time looking around she attempted to tell me how to try something on, fussed around the store cleaning up after people and let out a number of exasperated sighs.

On the other hand, take Meeps in Washington, DC. Unassuming (why assume?), well-stocked and - hold the presses - staffed with happy, nice people. EK and I went in there for wigs (new, not vintage) for Halloween and were both sold on winter coats as well. I got a mod forest green driving coat and EK got a black faux fur fabulousness. Mine was $45 and hers was $65. Meepiddy meep meeps!

But I haven't totally given up hope on the vintage clothing scene in NYC and this is why: Shana. You may recall that I blogged about my shopping excursion to Shana's traveling vintage clothing sale and what a great time I had. Well Shana spotted me on the subway this morning and at first I didn't recognize her but she was super friendly and shared with me the great news: her store is now open for business! Check it out - CollectHer is now a reality in the Bklyn.

The vintage advantage: Meeps and CollectHer have got it, most others don't.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Belts, Flats and FB Update

Cheers to NY Magazine's Approval Matrix from the November 6th issue which put "Overbelting" in the highbrow-despicable quadrant! (Double cheers to the magazine's website which allows you to click and drag your own approval ratings and then compare them to other site users.) What's with all the belting around town? Like skinny jeans, just because you could, possibly get away with the style doesn't mean you should.

Another point - flats are cool with slacks or jeans. These chilly days in NYC mean a lot of flats and pants and wool coats and scarves. Ladies, I love this fashion sense. Truly. But do not under any circumstance think that you can push the stilo a little further into the cold days of November by wearing nude stockings or stocking socks. No m'am; if you're too cold then you're done with flats for the season.

Update: Filene's Basement in Union Square has a lot of Ted Baker and Tory Burch gear so get it while it's hot.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Jeans Priced Right

It's probably too late for those of you reading this to enjoy the sale, but two weeks ago I popped into JCrew on a lark and low and behold - jeans on sale for $17.99. No joke, I got one pair of blue jeans and one pair of black jeans and a blue jean skirt for $11.99. Who needs to go to Wal-Mart or Target? (Wait a second, Target jeans are phooey high-waters on me.)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Boo!

Yesterday it was hard to tell who was wearing a costume and who just can't dress themselves. I found myself horrified at a side ponytail combined with a bra-strap headband being worn more like a sweatband. Then I realized - perhaps she was simply acting the part of tacky on All Hallows Eve?

On a similar topic, I am intrigued by the standard costume for young women on Halloween - sexy anything. How dare they choose to check their intellectualism at the door for a chance at shaking a tail feather? I must admit, I spent a lot of last night tsk-ing and shaking my head. At one point, I pulled up to a red light in my car and Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz teeterd across the street in one very short skirt and stilletto ruby slippers. Girls, what are you doing?!!

But for some reason today I had a change of heart. Wasn't I once a 20-something? Didn't I once wear 3 inch-long shorts as part of a "person from the 70s" costume in college? Does it matter that I was out in the sticks in Ohio and the NYU kids are all around me on the streets of New York?

My friends, it doesn't really matter. Kids will be kids; young people, young people. When it all comes down to it, who am I to judge? EK and I dressed up as Laverne and Shirley for Howleeween and just look at this shot. I don't think Laverne ever wore a belly shirt.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Oldishnessesque

"I'm between jobs"

"I'm between boyfriends"

"I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place" (If you are KHQ, replace with "a tookie")

As for me, I'm between pant sizes. Guuurl, you know what I'm talking about. It's painful, eXpecially when you need to be wearing slacks as part of your new job with a business not-casual dress code.

Suddenly, I no longer feel stylish. I feel old.

Exhibit A: When I wear cardigans, I only button up the top three or four buttons and leave the rest open with a tank or tshirt underneath. I think now the style is to button the three or four bottom buttons and keep the top open, but I'm not sure.

Exhibit B: I still like and wear wide-leg or boot-cut jeans (whatever they're called!). "Ultra-skinny" sounds like a death sentence at this point.

Exhibit C: A knee-length skirt with ankle boots?! What the?

I'm going to go order something on LandsEnd.com

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

From the Fashion Front

Two fabulous new bits of news about shopping that you'll be very happy to learn about.

1) Banana Repulic Post-Purchase Sale Deal:

The ol' BR. Remember when the theme of those stores was all safariesque? What about the Tshirt with the jungle animals on the back and the logo on the front? I digress from the point which is that according to roving Caroline's Closet reporter KHQ, if you buy something at Banana and it goes on sale within 14 days of purchase, you can bring your receipt back and get a refund on the difference between the sale price and the price you paid. All true and you read it here first! Make money from shopping.

2) Who's Your Urban Daddy?

Calling all metrosexuals and the men and women who love them! This is Daily Candy for the urban male but it's even better because sometimes it scoops all the major resources I know you turn to all the time for the latest restaurants, sales, cool places, the list goes on. http://www.urbandaddy.com/

Sunday, September 24, 2006

What's up, Dude?

I let this blog go for the past two months, I'm ashamed to say. As most of you know I started a new job which has been occupying most of my thoughts, time, etc. No longer! My spidey sense is back, cuties and I am posting this today to report on a couple of male trends I've been seeing around town (which is to say, around the East Village).

1) Full body suit uniforms. I've seen one man in a bright orange head-to-toe number with "Montauk Ambulance Services," or something to that effect, emblazoned across the back. Another guy was straight up wearing something that referenced a prison. Make no mistake about it, these are hot right now.

2) Jazz shoes. Duh, no major news here. Still, I wanted the chance to write: and a 5, 6, 7 8!

Nothing too inspiring on the women's scene. I am big into blazers right now, care of the new job, so that's what I've got my eye on. More to come on that and the work scene in general.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Little Surfer...

A zip of the suit, a swath of sunblock, a quick wax of the board and he's headed out. I look down for a moment - now it's my turn to cover myself in SPF - and the tide has swallowed him whole. A head bobbing up and down, then beneath a wave until he's a head with shoulders. A steady rhythm. Up and down, up and down, anchored by the board. It's busy today - a sea of torsos. Every other board protrudes at an angle to that the surfer and the board make the shape of a giant fish mouth coming up to nip at a passing water bug.

* * *

Wetsuits, rash guards, bathing suits, board shorts, surf boards - my husband's beloved sport has some serious gear. I was lucky enough to score a very cute yellow short-sleeved rash guard from the CFO of O'Neill when we met her in Mexico on our honeymoon. Combined with my Old Navy board shorts for $7.99, I almost look the part. Now I just need to master actually catching waves. If Vanilla lasts for the rest of the summer, I might just have a shot.

Friday, June 30, 2006

The Plight of the Sample Sale Worker

Goodness, it's been a while, no? Hmm, let's see what I can tell you. Went to check out a Miguelina sample sale last week. As most of you know, I love me the sample sale, but what I don't love about it is the people working the sample sale. I guess the deal is that the women who actually work for the designer have to work a shift during the sale. You are therefore presented with the nasty fashion industry person (I am generalizing, yes, but please bare with me). So I stroll into the Miguelina headquarters to check out the sale, smile at the women at the front desk and I kid you not when no one said "hi" or even cracked a smile. Get over yourselves, I beg of you.

I then proceeded to get stuck in the elevator for about 10 minutes right on the same floor as our beloved Miguelina. When I pressed the alarm button did anyone on that floor react? Nay. Needless to say I did not purchase a thing at the Miguelina sale, but bought a Cutie McCute turquoise-blue leather shoulder bag from at the Rafe sale later that week. The women working at Rafe answered questions and smiled. It's called a positive brand image ladies, and Rafe gets it.

Happy 4th of July! Eat a lot of good bbq, watch parades and fireworks and relax.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

My Sense of Fashion: A Retrospective

Returning from my 10-year college reunion I realize I've learned a lot when it comes to style and fashion. Herewith, my top-ten lessons learned in the past 10 years.

Lesson #1 Cut-offs and flannel shirts are appropriate only in the middle-of-nowhere Ohio.

Lesson #2 Purses are not evil and are sometimes a lot better than big, bulky backpacks

Lesson #3 Perfume is not “girly” but nice and appropriate

Lesson #4 Heels can and should be worn on occasion, but that occasion is usually not in the middle-of-nowhere Ohio

Lesson #5 Product is your friend, especially facial moisturizer and hair care product

Lesson #6 Drinking a lot of beer = having a beer gut

Lesson #7 Painting one’s toe nails is not “girly” and is absolutely necessary when exposing the toes

Lesson #8 Wearing a lot of black does not make you a miserable, negative New Yorker

Lesson #9 The pinnacle of shopping existence is not necessarily J.Crew

Lesson #10 Never say never

Trendspotting: Update

Two more trends I am seeing around town:

Tank tops and summer scarves
This is everywhere right now in New York. The idea is to rock a thin summer scarf or a lightweight pashmina (usually the latter) and a tank top. It looks very Euro, very downtown. It's paired usually with shorts or cut-offs and flats.

Peep-toe flats
I love this trend – enough said.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

I Spy With My Little Eye

Now that I'm back from Scottsdale, the land of faux hair color, faux nails and faux boobs, I wanted to notify you of the trends I'm seeing around town. NYC stylie, yo~

Men:

Handle-bar moustaches
(Image courtesy of HatefulHelp.com)
Uh-huh, you read that correctly. I've seen 4 thus far - last night at Employees Only in the West Village (the bartender), today in Union Square area (random guy), 2 weeks ago at Beth's exhibit (hipster attending the opening), every day at Drop Off Laundry in the East Village (Pete was the first one to rock this look back when he was working at the Ciao). Keep your eyes peeled and post a comment if you see anymore around town!

Women:

Shagadelic hairstyle

(Image courtesy of BeautyRiot.com)
This is the best photo I can find online right now of the hairstyle I've been seeing around the East Village (yes, this is the lip-syncher Ashlee and I promised myself I would not include celeb photos on this blog but oh well, it's just so dang easy to find photos of these peeps online). I've only seen women with stick-straight hair rockin' this do. Each woman has had the longer hair in the back in two ponytails or two braids, fully accentuating the shaggedness.

Wedge sandals
I know what you're thinking - "Duh, we all know these are in fashion," but before you click through to another site, hear me out. I am not talking about the 4-inch Jessica Simpson brand sandals with towering cork wedge heels, I am talking about a late-70s/early-80s style wedge that is only about 1 inch high which starts of the width of the heel, but narrows out closer to the ground. Here's an example of what I'm referring to from Zappos.com (these are Marc Jacobs):


*****

On the shopping front, here's a tip: don't be afraid to shop in the shoe section of Strawberry's. Yes the clothes are bad quality, but the shoe section is not to be overlooked.


I bought these DaniBlack sandals, currently on sale on Zappos.com for $63- for $20- and I had two other pairs of Baci sandals in my hand, but I held out...until tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Personal Shopping, Target-Style

This past weekend I was in the sunny South…Florida, baby. Or Flahridah as I like to call it. And while Fla is good for the sun and the beach and the early-bird specials, it is also GREAT for the Target, or TargĂ© as most of the modern world likes to call it.

The beauty of shopping at TargĂ© out of state is that whatever is in extreme high demand in your mother city isn’t in your visiting city. You know I purchased enough to clothe a family of four, that’s not the point of this posting. The point is to share with you (a) what I should have bought and (b) my impromptu personal shopping experience.

What I should have purchased

These snakeskinesque shoes (care of the Isaac Mizrahi for T line):



This faux leather "flap bucket bag" (also care of Isaac Mizrahi for T line):



Personal shopping

So I’m standing in line with KHQ who has in her load to checkout an avocado over-the-shoulder purse. The woman behind us asks where she got it and she points her in the right direction. The woman returns and mentions she could not find it anywhere. *Bing – this is my cue. I head straight for the handbag area, review and realize that she is correct, the particular style is no longer available in avocado, but it is still on the shelf in black, white and brown. I return to the register, bring her back to the section and point out the other options. She goes for the black.

Today, Target, tomorrow...who knows!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Photo Opp

My friends, it's true: being fashionable sometimes means more than peering over fashion magazines and shopping 'til you drop. Sometimes it means exercising the mind, being inspired and searching for creative ideas through art. That is why, if you live in New York City, I urge you to go see my friend Beth Fladung's photo exhibit at Redux Gallery.

Beth has been working for years now on this series of photos. She traveled around the U.S. capturing the culture of people who are living in motels. The exhibit is captivating, moving and bright.

Redux Gallery | 116 East 16th Street | 12th floor | between Irving Place and Union Square East

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Lunch Hour Shopping Excursions

Sneaking out of work during your lunch "hour" to go shopping is fun. It's especially gratifying when you go out with a work buddy (JHall) and he does all the buying! On Thursday we headed around the corner to Lord & Taylor to see if we might be able to take advantage of the Friends & Family 20% offer. Indeed JHall did very well. With my help (hello, personal shopper. I now have proof that I can even do it for men), he purchased the following – all Calvin Klein:

  • Black loafers - The mission: need black shoes more round-toe than square-toe. These puppies were buttery-licious and with the discount, less than $80!


  • 2 long-sleeved, button-down shirts One blue with a subtle flower print, the other green stripes – an effort to move away from a closet full of blue shirts.

Success. A little to-go at the Italian restaurant across the street rounded out the lunch hour. Isn't retail therapy grand?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Today's Dos and Don’ts

I am bursting to write about the following two items.

DO
1) I discovered today that I am working with the husband of online shopping royalty. Michelle Madhok is the founder of SheFinds.com. This woman has my dream job (check out the blog: I am in love). I was giddy looking though this website today. Sign up for the newsletter now!

DON’T
2) My personal fashion no-nos. Here goes; I have wanted to get these off my chest for a while now.

  • Plastic shoe heels You know what I’m talking about. That “click, click, click” of the heel as she walks down the sidewalk is a lot more treble-kicking than your wooden or even rubber-based heel.


  • Two pig/ponytails Call them what you may, you should not sport a hairstyle meant for no one over the age of 10.


  • Xtra large sunglasses I recently learned, care of Lucky magazine I believe, that even the Jackie O style frames were crazy large. Oh well, I still think the frames that are deliberately too large for your face are just plain silly. Choose your large frames wisely.


  • Muffin top-creating pants/shirt combos People, there’s now a term used to reference this poor fashion choice…and I didn’t make it up. Stop the madness.


  • Hardware mismatch Silver handbag hardware and gold jewelry or vice versa.


  • Matching top and shoes If you’re wearing a coral top, don’t wear coral shoes. Just don’t.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Bad Shopping Days: Sad But True

For me, there are better days than others to go shopping. Not just payday or the day my favorite store(s) is(are) having a sale, but also there are days when I think I look better than others. I don’t especially like to go shopping in the rain. That’s because I have very curly hair that gets super frizzy in the rain. Frizzy-headed is not how I want to normally appear, so if I do go shopping in the rain, no matter what I try on, I don’t like the way I look. And speaking of hair, I find it better to go shopping newly-shaven. I think my legs look bigger when they’re hairy. Male readers, forgive me if this last comment grosses you out, but if we do it we should be able to discuss it openly. I suppose this sentiment could apply to men too – if a clean shave is how you spend most of your days, that’s how you want to appear when trying on potential additions to the wardrobe, no?

What are your rules of shopping engagement? Share them, please!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

2 Diamonds in the Rough

You know I love discount department stores, so please put the information I am about to share into context. I consider these stores diamonds in the rough, but knowing our opinions on discount stores could differ greatly, I supply this forewarning – you might see more of the “rough” aspect in these two stores than the "diamond" aspect I favor.

The first place is Anbar Shoes on Reade Street, west of Broadway. I walked in on Saturday afternoon and the manager who is most likely the owner (a family business?) was working the register at top volume. In other words, he’s loud. This discount shoe gem features labels you rarely find post-season at places like Century 21 and Loehmann’s – this place has names like Audley, Sasha Too, Blay and Coclico. The shoes are arranged by color; on the first floor you’re presented mainly with black shoes, downstairs you can review yellow, metallic, flower-print, green, etc.

So back to Saturday afternoon: I had thoroughly reviewed the ground floor and moved downstairs when I heard the manager/owner speaking specifically to a shopper. "You're making a mess and I want you out of the store,” to which she replied, “I’ll call the police and report you. You can’t kick me out of here.” He retorted, “This is my store and I’ll kick out whomever I want. Please leave, you’re making a mess.” At this point, and with this owner’s voice booming through the store, I am freaking out. Every pair of shoes I review I am carefully putting them back in the box and stacking the box gently back on the shelf. I figure if he’s kicking someone out for being a messy customer, he could easily do the same to me. Well, it turns out that he actually caught this person attempting to shoplift, and was therefore using his gift of gab volume to humiliate her into coughing up the shoes she was stuffing down her pants and to ultimately leave the store. (All of this back story learned how? The sheer volume of his conversation!).

The second place is De Janeiro with locations throughout Manhattan, specifically, Nassau Street downtown in the Financial District and uptown on Lexington Avenue around the corner from Grand Central Station. This is a place that I used to frequent with my friends at my last job. Whenever we needed a little retail therapy, this place was guaranteed to give it to us. It is a 2nd-tier American brand discount outlet, so you’ll find Kenneth Cole, Anne Klein, Calvin Klein, Express and various Massimo (the Target brand) at seriously discounted prices. I’m talking $6.00 shirts and $8.00 skirts. It is absolutely 100% lacking in any atmosphere though. I mean seriously lacking. Go there if you know you need business basics and you want a couple of outfits for a total of $80.00.

Note that both of these stores are for women only (sorry, guys). I guess they figure we have a higher tolerance for shopping pain? I clearly do.

Monday, April 10, 2006

RIP, Sweet Boots

They were perfectly molded to my feet and resoled just once. They were of the softest black leather I have ever experienced in a boot. They were ankle-length and perfectly flat – not a completely ground-level flat; just enough of a heel that they were ideal for the pants that were just a tad too short. They worked in the Spring, Winter and Fall and had a very subtle stitching detail noticeable only if you were looking at them up close. They cost entirely too much money, but lasted me seven years. They were purchased at Brown Thomas department store in Dublin, Ireland and had been with me to Luxembourg, London, Barcelona twice, Phoenix, Arizona and even Peru, Illinois.

Can you tell that they were my favorite boots? They are irreplaceable, though I will probably spend the next few years attempting to replace them. They went out with the trash this morning – perhaps to adorn someone else's feet (someone who won't mind the holes), or perhaps to a better place where boots get to walk on clouds but never get rained on.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Here I Am, Stuck in the 80s With You

Riddle me this, Caroline,

What is a lass to do when she is

(a) stuck in the 80s (I still yearn for the simple days of sweater sets, knickers, and leg warmers)

(b) a little older now and unsure of what is age appropriate and what should stay in the closet until Halloween (I was told puffy sleeves on a thirty something is not fashion forward), and

(c) still a little older now and in need of support in places she didn’t realize would sag (I am now the proud owner of upper arms that once belonged a beloved lunch lady I had that used to serve me, and herself, heaping second portions of just about everything).

Any help would be much appreciated.

Thank you,

Bewildered in Boston (aka KHQ)


Dear Bewildered in Boston,

There's a difference between having personal style and being trendy. As we all know, trends come and go, but personal style is yours forever. You might be surprised at my response, but my advice is: girl, embrace your inner 80s! Since you're my girl and I know you very well, I know that you are at your personal style best (in my humble opinion) when you're wearing a long-sleeved crewneck black sweater, boot-cut jeans, hoop earrings, your hair down and chunky platform boots. It's true!

Hey, don't be afraid of platform shoes – chunky-heeled sandals are in fashion this spring anyway. The advice you received about puffy sleeves is tricky. I myself am a proponent of a little jacket with slightly puffed shoulders, however short-sleeved shirts with puffy shoulders are a bit much for age 30+...I say as I own three. Speaking of age, yes, we have begun the phase of our lives when we start sagging in all the wrong places. But again, as long as you portray your personal style first and foremost, rather than the passing trends, you will always come out on top.

Sincerely,

Caroline

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Get Thee (or Me) To A Discount Department Store

When my sister and I were young, my Mom enforced the "dressing nicely to go department store shopping" rule. These days, everyone shops in jeans. Not only that, everyone goes to dinner, to the theater, out at night, and to work in jeans. The jeans discussion, however, is for another posting. This one is about department stores. Last weekend I was with KHQ and DJ at Bloomingdale's Uptown (remember when that was the only one?). Though the basic layout of the store is the same as it has been for years, the vibe has decidedly changed.

I am not kidding you when I say I noticed a woman – blonde hair perfectly coiffed, black sweater perfectly trendy, jeans perfectly form-fitting – who was walking a few paces in front of her husband and had to simply gesture a "come here" motion with her hand while looking straight ahead in order to get her man to follow behind her willingly.

This quick visual exemplifies why I can barely stand department stores anymore. And Bloomie's is the least annoying in the 57th-street area. What about the stores that won't give you the time of day if your engagement ring stone doesn't meet the minimum carat size criteria?

Ever since AC introduced me to the Mecca (read: Century 21 Department Store) back when we worked on Wall Street, discount department stores have been my shopping destinations of choice. Sure, the customer service is non-existent, the lines to try clothing on are painfully long and the stores are always crowded. But the sense of accomplishment of finding a diamond in the rough among all the size XXLs or the Extra 30% Off racks is rewarding enough to cancel out all the negatives. Hey, it's all about throwing elbows. Here's what I've purchased in the past month from discount department stores:

  • Calvin Klein light grey cotton sweater - $30
  • BCBG brown leather driving shoes - $90
  • Ben Sherman black and white silk skirt - $30
  • 2 packs of Via Spiga loafer socks (3 pr) - $12
  • To the Max coral top - $20
  • French Connection cap-sleeved top - $15
  • Chip & Pepper jeans - $60

Not too shabby, eh? So ladies and gents, if you'd like to appreciate the benefits of discount department stores without bearing the pain, I will gladly be your personal bargain shopper. I know you'd rather tote a cute paper Bergdorf's bag around town instead of the plastic sacks emblazoned with the words, "I just got a bargain at Filene's Basement." So hire me to do your dirty work. Post a comment and let me know how I can help you find that perfect whatever it is you're looking for - you'll help me exercise my shopping jones.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Ask and I Shall Answer

Dear Caroline,

This morning I was on the subway and the woman who sat down next to me had what was, in my opinion, the perfect handbag. She had her headphones on and was reading a book. Also, she did not look that friendly. I really wanted to ask her where she got her bag, but then a number of thoughts crossed my mind: "It is probably from 4 years ago and I can't get it anyway," and, "She won't tell me 'cause she wants to be the only one with the perfect bag," and also, "She will think I'm crazy for even speaking to her as it breaks the NYC subway 'no talking to strangers' rule." By the time I had pondered all of these thoughts, she had gotten off the train and my perfect bag was gone. What is the etiquette for asking strangers where they got their bag, shoes, etc.?

Sincerely,

Glamorous Girlfriend (aka AS)


Dear Glamorous Girlfriend,

You absolutely should not let anything get in between you and your perfect handbag! Ha, just joking. The truth is, this is a tough one. First of all, she's wearing headphones, which is code for don't bother me. Secondly, you're on the subway, which as you mentioned is not the ideal venue for striking up conversation with your fellow public transport comrade. But my rule of thumb for getting label information off of a stranger or semi-stranger should hold true in this scenario as well.

Flattery gets you everywhere.

True, it is hard to tell someone their handbag "suits" them when bags don't flatter us as much as our actual clothing does, however this rule can be altered for the situation.

Approach number 1: "Excuse me, that's literally the coolest bag I've seen in a long time."

Approach number 2: "Wow, that bag is hot. Is it [INSERT NAME OF MOST EXPENSIVE DESIGNER HERE]?"

Approach number 3: "What an original bag, where'd you get it?" Note here that the "word" original will hopefully insinuate to her that you wouldn't even dream of replicating her unique take on the world, you are merely gathering journalistic evidence of stylish New Yorkers.

Accompany these statements with a little wave to grab her attention, and repeat as/if necessary.

Can you tell that I want you to approach her? Show her you like her bag. When it comes down to it, I think we girls need to spend less time giving each other the up and down, and more time giving each other props. So even if she doesn't divulge the bag maker despite your best efforts, you will make her day.

Anyway, I'm sure we can get our heads together (and our online search skills) and find that bag for you.

Sincerely,

Caroline

Write to me! Ok, ok, up until now I haven't really responded to my comments in this open-forum manner. But from now on I will, mos def.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Victoria Keen sample sale

My friend TM suggested this past weekend that I need to get ahead of the sales - I need to share the weath of knowledge sooner rather than later. But how am I supposed to be a better resource than DailyCandy and MUG? Well, there is one shining bit of info. that I think I have over the other online resources: the Victoria Keen sample sale.

See that photo of me to the right? I'm wearing a Victoria Keen dress. VK is the grown-up hippie's answer to the modern day; I hope this is enough said. Get yourself over to her sale. She's earthy but up-to-date and all of her production happens over in Bklyn. Werd, ya heard?

Victoria Keen sample sale
Friday, March 24th-Sunday March 26th: 11am-8pm

357 Layayette Street bt. Bleecker and Bond

Be there or be square.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Hey Baby, You Got to Remember, I'm Forever 21 (God Bless!)

Well it took me about a year to figure this one out, but apparently the owner of Forever 21 is big time into religion. So much so that he's placed the words, "John 3:16" on the bottom of his company's shopping bags. Check out this USAToday article from October 2005 covering the topic. It qualifies Don Chang, the founder and owner of Forever 21, as "deeply religious" and it also quotes some sociologist who says, "'Americans are more accepting of overt religiosity these days, and corporations are good at figuring out how to do it with a light touch, one that's not going to scare off unbelievers...'" Oh really?

Friends, I am no atheist, but this scares me. It is especially odd that the purveyor of what my friend RC last night called the "slutty, go-out clothing store" is trying to send a Christian message.

Girls, go get your freak on tonight, but be sure to repent in the morning.

According to my brief Google search, there is actually an apparel retailer in malls around the country that specifically sells Christian-themed gear targeted to the teenage demographic. Though I cannot relate to a strictly-religious lifestyle, it is somehow an easier pill to swallow when the company is flat-out honest about its message and mission. It's the subliminal messaging that I find creepy, to say the least.

When I think too much about it all, I end up feeling like the character Ann Bishop Mullany in the movie "Sex, Lies and Videotape." Remember how she was all kinds of depressed from, quite simply, the weight of the world? At least that's how I remember the story of the flick. My point is, if one thinks too much about the political, social and religious affiliations of the retailers he or she frequents, one may never shop again! We wouldn't want that, now would we? Nay, we have to keep the economy chugging, so we might as well pick the certain companies to which we absolutely can no longer give money. It sounds like Forever 21 is that company for me.

As my best friend KHQ would say, "THERE, I said it," and on the 11th anniversary of my 21st birthday no less.

Guess I'm all growns up.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Bitch and Swap...and Shop

Yesterday morning over breakfast at Ciao for Now (12th between Avenues A & B - don't worry, I'll write something about this place, my absolute favorite, soon) I commented to friends that the burden of maintaining a blog about shopping is that I have to be doing it...a lot. Those of you who know me well might have a nice little chuckle to yourself right now that it shouldn't be that hard for me. But my dears, in fact I do like to do other things on the weekend besides hit all the latest sales. For example, I like to attend Bitch and Swaps!

If you've never experienced the Bitch and Swap you've likely had me tell you a story about one of the now many that I have attended. In a nutshell, a woman invites her friends over for an afternoon to swap old clothing. Specific rules of the swap differ according to hostess, but the general idea is to bring items of clothing, books, household goods that are still in good shape but no longer your taste or no longer fit you, for example.

Yesterday HR hosted a small swap (5 of us total) to which I brought two xtra large Pearl Paint bags of clothing, shoes, etc. The idea of the swap is if you take anything, you should try to leave with less than what you came with. This achievement means a big pile of clothing ends up going to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. At yesterday's swap I obtained the following items:

  • 5 paperbacks

  • A waist-length, black coat from Club Monaco

  • 4 tank tops

  • 1 pink sleeveless Club Monaco Tshirt


  • Quite a good haul, but the true beauty of this swap was what HR introduced me to afterwards - Beacon's Closet. We went to the one in Park Slope, but there's a store in Williamsburg as well (Brooklyn, people, Brooklyn). The tagline is, "Buy Trade Sell," and this place has it down to a science. You walk straight to the back with the items you want to sell where there is a counter with about 3 women taking bags. They tell you how long it will take to review your stuff and in the meantime you can shop around the store, cruise 5th Avenue, or just hang and wait. You have the option of taking back the clothing they won't buy, or you can dump it in a big black trash bag that's going to a local charity. As for the stuff they do buy, here's the rub: the store tallies up the value of your lot (how it will price the items once on sale) and you are entitled to 35% of that amount in cash OR 55% of that amount in store credit. You can also mix it up and buy a little something there and receive any difference in cash.

    I had a good lot, and was entitled to about $40 in cash or $60 in store credit. I "bought" 2 skirts and received $25 in cash. A number of years ago I tried selling some clothes to Tokyo 7 on 7th Street in the East Village. They wouldn't take anything and I could have sworn they laughed as they reviewed some of my items. Beacon's Closet, you have won my patronage and you've helped Brooklyn score 1 more point in the Pros and Cons list I have running in my head.

    So there you have it, that's what I do when I can't shop - I manage to get my fix nonetheless.

    Wednesday, March 01, 2006

    MetallicARGH!

    I have a love-hate relationship with all things metallic (note the word "metallic" will be used in this posting to refer to anything gold-, silver- or bronze-colored or toned). I love metallic shoes, I now hate metallic handbags. I wasn't always this way. A few years ago I bought a metallic bag from Newport News when the material was hot, hot, hot. Everyone was carrying metallic bags and I wanted in on the action. Now every Tom, Dick and all of 14th Street is selling metallic, half-moon shaped purses with big chain-link straps.

    I had been wondering who on earth would actually purchase these street-seller specials when I began spying them on my commute to and from work (my office has moved uptown and I now have the lovely pleasure of using public transportation every work day). Women of the working world: please stop perpetuating this trend and thus supporting the makers of metallic products! The material has become so widespread everything comes in a metallic option - handbags, shoes, belts, scarves, shirts, pants - and apparently the age-range of acceptable metallic sportage runs the gamut of 9 to 79. The proliferation makes the material so un-special, I am now in the hate phase of the relationship.

    The question now is: Will the trend ever fizzle out? It's lasted a number of years so it definitely has some staying power. Why? Because of its eye-catching quality, my friends. We are only human, after all, and if we don't have a bunch of feathers to fluff up and stick out for a night out on the town, the next best thing is some something shiny.

    Sunday, February 26, 2006

    Good Sale and Sunday Outfits

    Those of you living here in NYC need to get yourselves to the uptown/downtown Patagonia sales. For the mere price of $120 I purchased yesterday:

    1. a brown denim-style hemp jacket which is very bomber-esque (lined with recycled something-or-other which is warm and toasty)
    2. a grey wool sweater with creme-colored stripes down the sides and the arms
    3. a white v-neck tshirt

    Folks, now is the time when Patagonia gear is actually affordable, and considering it got down to about 5 degrees F last night, all the puffy down jackets will likely go fast. Everything is either 40% or 60% off. Seriously good deal - ends Monday at 7 pm.

    I would also like to take this opportunity to mention UNI QLO, Japan's H&M which has a trial store here on Greene Street right off of Prince. It was dubbed the "holiday" store, but it seems to still be around and though it is not great for women's clothing, my husband has purchased an entirely new wardrobe there for about $85. I got a sweet little black rain slicker for just $20, so it can be a success for women occasionally as well.

    And finally, the real reason for this posting - Sunday outfits. We all have them, so let's discuss them! This season, my Sunday outfit is a pair of straight-leg blue jeans with just the right amount of stretch, a black turtleneck sweater and a pair of faux sheepskin-lined boots that are multi-colored (pulled over the jeans). My Sunday outfit will definitely change as the weather warms, but for now this is the comfort zone for the weekend. I tried making the Sunday outfit more of a weekend outfit and wore it to my office on a Friday, since Fridays are casual at work, but the boots got too many comments so I'll probably keep this Sunday outfit to its designated day. Dear readers, I encourage you to share with me and the 3 people who read this your Sunday outfits.

    Tuesday, February 21, 2006

    iPod Nation

    Before I got an iPod, I had a specific opinion about people who wore headphones around the streets of NY. I had decided they were mainly single men who were not comfortable being by themselves during the day and therefore chose to plug into their discman, or walkman if they were old school, to tune in and drop out, as it were. Then the iPod was released and gained its cult following and I was even more opposed to the trend. It seemed it went from single men to just about everyone - man, woman, child - sporting the tell-tale white ear buds. "Can no one deal with their own reality?"

    Perhaps it was the lure of the white wires, maybe it was the barrage of TV and billboard ads with the silhouettes dancing to their own drummer, but eventually the iPod craze hit me as well and about 5 months ago I became more curious than opposed. That curiosity led to questions to friends and colleagues with iPods, and those questions led my husband to buy me my very own iPod this Christmas.

    I am writing this posting to testify that the cult of iPod is alive and active here in the city. The first time I stepped on the subway with those white wires leading from my ears, down my coat and tucked neatly into my right pocket, I got the looks...and maybe even a couple of nods...from my fellow carriers. This is no joke, it's some kind of secret society. Many of you Apple fans may laugh that it's taken me so long to understand something that you've been a part of for a while, but I am not a fan of the MAC and I will not be placing one of the those apple stickers on my car/bike/guitar case anytime soon. I do, however, understand the lure of the iPod - especially for those of us who have to walk the streets everyday and participate in the experience of NYC public transportation.

    In reference to the iPod, I am sure many of you have heard the comment, "It's like having your own soundtrack," and it is definitely this escapism quality that makes the device so attractive to many people who live in this and other big cities. But what about the sheer status of the white wires? They mean just as much as carrying a certain handbag and wearing a type of shoe. So do people simply wear the white ear buds but connect them to another, more affordable MP3 player? Or maybe just a discman? Isn't that the same thing as toting around a Canal Street knockoff?

    What am I getting at with all of this? Well, wearing the iPod is definitely making a statement - you acknowledge that you have a basic grasp of digital music technology, you acknowledge that you appreciate the escape from the mundane, and I believe you also acknowledge the trend. Because, let's face it, sometimes that thing just won't turn on, or won't turn off, or you fumble it in your hands while holding a cup of coffee and trying to take off a glove and you hope it doesn't drop because those hard drives are not meant to last, but dude, it looks really cool and it makes you feel cool too.

    Sunday, February 19, 2006

    It's Cold

    I won't be able to blog everyday, but this is President's weekend and my husband is surfing in FL so it's an exception. Also, it's freezing and I must comment. It got down to about 5 deg. last night - crazy cold. How are you expected to look good on a day like today?

    Caught brunch at noon with some friends at Kasimir on Avenue B. Summary: no wait for a group of 5 but expect French-esque service. And my pal BW was head-to-toe Prada - winter jacket and sunglasses. He looked great, and it confirmed my hangup about the brand. It looks great on guys, no good on girls. Too sporty/structured/masculine.

    Today is mostly about staying moisturized on the hands and face. CVS, here I come.

    Saturday, February 18, 2006

    You Be The Judge

    Am I qualified to write and maintain a blog about being fashionable in New York City? Well, I've never worked in the fashion industry, publishing or retail. But if you're willing to read and check in on my musings, I can promise you that I will do my best to share how I try to keep up with the trends of the city as a salaried employee. In this inaugural post, I share with you my day of shopping.

    A hearty breakfast at 9th Street Market (between 1st and 2nd Avenues) was the perfect start. For only $10 you get coffee or tea, your choice of 3 juices and a meal selection that ranges from french toast with a mound (read: mound) of fresh fruit to the "Belt Buster" bagel egg, cheese and bacon/sausage sammich.

    The first stop for Shopfest 2006, as JK and I were calling it, was the Billion Dollar Babes sale on 18th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. For $182 I found 5 tops - 3 Petro Zillias, 1 Mon Petit Oiseau and 1 Ben Sherman. This sale has done me right in the past with tops, but I was alarmed to learn this time around that you must pay $10 for access to the dressing room (a new "feature" since the last time I attended BDB about 2 years ago). Also, the security was tight which after having to r.s.v.p. for the sale itself gets to be a little much. Summary: this sale has some good finds, but stay away if you prefer to be trusted as a paying shopper.

    The next stop was another invite-only sale, but a much friendlier kind. My colleague has a friend (Shana) who trawls the Salvation Armys of our fine country and re-sells her finds at a deal. She has a great eye and an amazing knack for understanding body types and literally dressing you in her pieces as you shop the racks. I left with 2 blazers - one beige suede collarless and buttonless number (which she had paired with a red leather belt with gold buckle hardware) and one bright red cotton number with a matching silk scarf. Total cost: $55. Shana will be opening a store soon in Bklyn - stay tuned as I will definitely provide the name (CollectHer?) and address as soon as I have it. Summary: This is one to watch.

    The final stop was the famed Barney's Warehouse Sale. Is this a good one? Yes. Do you have to be willing to get down and dirty? Absolutely. For those of you who know the drill, skip to the end of this post, but for those yet to venture into the mania, here goes. There are no dressing areas so women drop trou in the back corner by the coats. I am a size 10 shoe and they rarely have anything but Barney's label shoes in my size. I did purchase a Barney's label kitten-heel black leather pair a couple of years ago and I've only had to redo the sole once so they are pretty good quality. At that point in the day, I was too spent - literally and figuratively - to do any more damage, but there were a lot of great pants and jeans for $19 and $29 and of course the Marc Jacobs overstock. Also, the sale was offering 25% off of all Barney's and Co-op label items (shoot JK, we should have thought of that in our assessment of the black cashmere sweater!) and it runs through March 5th, so if you're paid bi-monthly, you can wait until next pay day and give it another try later this month!

    The final stop was meant to be Find Outlet, but we were just too hungry (HR had joined us at that point and did really well at Barney's with the $19 short-sleeved blouses - bravo, BWS newcomer!) so it was off to City Bakery for pretzel croissants and hot chocolate.

    All in all, a very successful day in the racks.