Friday, December 31, 2010

It's The Final Countdown!

Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it. -Greg Anderson

Two days and counting! It is true, my hour of triumph and reward is drawing near after so many months of restraint and strong will. Well….maybe not really. In addition to my slacking on my posts the last two months (mea culpa, mea culpa), I also am guilty of seeing the light of temptation at the end of the tunnel, and it was all just too much to bear. But let’s not jump ahead too quickly. I shall start where I left off in mid-October….

My big “fashion event” in October was my work’s Fall Gala. Having already attended my fair share at this point, the new frock supply was running thin, though not enough time has gone by to begin recycling past worn dresses. So back to the borrowing board I went and thanks to my lovely friend J, I was able to wear the most stunning, flowy Yves Saint Laurent number and topped (or bottomed as the case may be) it off with some Prada shoes from my darling friend M. Thanks ladies! So do I plan to lay down some serious cash for the next gala in the spring? Oh contraire, my friends, I have another plan. I have discovered that often times vintage boutiques will loan out formal wear for just such occasions for a small portion of the cost of purchasing the dress. Brilliant!

As the time of allowed shopping was more and more within my reach, I began to plan and research what purchases, or investments as I now like to refer to them, I might make in January and early 2011. Not a good idea. November was somewhat torturous in this regard, but due to planning a fund-raising event in addition to my normally cramped schedule, I was able to stay strong. Thanksgiving came and went without a hitch. Then it was December and the holiday season began. A time of year when one is forced into stores in order to acquire gifts for friends and family. I have always spent way too much at this time of year as I inevitably picked up a few items for myself during these missions. Though this year’s shopping included no major guffaws, there was a lovely long beaded necklace and a fab vintage dress that I will inevitably wear to one of the four, yes four, weddings we will be attending in the coming year. In efforts of honesty, not justification, these illegal purchases totaled less than $100.

After December 25th, I concluded that my year had pretty much ended. Come on! It’s so close! I jumped on the “jeggings” bandwagon and picked up a cheap solid black pair that I have worn pretty much every other day since they were purchased. And then there was my self-issued reward for a year (ok, 11 months) of restraint. After much time spent thinking about exactly what I wanted, I am in possession of what I call my “big-girl-bag”. Oh the softness of the leather and the intoxicating smell. It is beautiful…simple, structured, classic.

A big thank-you to everyone who voiced their support and offered encouragement during this experiment. In a previous blog, I stated what I felt I had learned from this. So how will I go forward from here? Well, I have decided that I should have a fashion motto and I think I found it while reading an article in Vogue regarding what a young American woman learned during her time in France and Italy in the 1970’s. “Be crisp, tailored, and simple. Never skimp on shoes. Always wear perfume.”

Merci mon ami! A Bientot!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Tuckered Out

There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. -Oscar Wilde

Let's not beat around the bush. I cheated last week. I cannot tell a lie. I mean, isn't that one of the major points of this keep me honest. I had heard whispers about the Tucker for Target line a while back. I had hoped upon hope that it wouldn't come out until 2011. This is part of a project Target does with established or up and coming fashion designers, where for a limited time, they offer a lower end version of their line. Some past collections that I have enjoyed are Erin Featherston, Rogan, Paul and Joe, and the great Alexander McQueen. I have always been a fan of Tucker's main line, but obviously when you have to go on a financial diet, you are not in a place to be spending $200+ on a blouse or $300+ on a dress. Thus you can understand my excitement over the Target line.

The line debuted mid-September. I went online a few days after to check out the situation. Most of the smaller sizes in the items I liked were already gone. I had to act fast! Then I spotted a happy little magenta blouse with a flower pattern scattered across it. The adrenaline started pumping. I was clicking "add to my shopping cart". Then I was putting in my credit card information. I did hesitate for a moment before I hit confirm, but not for long. It was done. I felt guilty, but excited.

The blouse arrived a few days ago. As soon as I tried it on, I knew I had made the right decision. It would look good loose with jeans or trousers, or tucked into a pencil skirt. The feeling of guilt creeped back in for a moment, but I quickly dashed it away. After 8 months of not buying so much as a pair of socks, this $29.99 limited edition blouse was a mere stumble, and also maybe just enough to get me through these last days.

Three months to go readers....

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Passe Fashion Night Out

What a deformed thief this fashion is. -William Shakespeare

So here is the conundrum. What does one wear out for fashion week when they have no current fashions to choose from? I know...I have some serious crosses to bear.

It all started when my darling friend F, who works in the fashion industry, invited me to join him for a few parties. How could a girl say no to that?!? During the day at work I tried to get a visual of my closet and quickly came up with possible outfits only to just as quickly eliminate them. When you are going out for an evening celebrating everything that is new in fashion, how can you show up wearing something from two seasons ago. First I decided something vintage was the way to go. Then the next look I contemplated was simply urban with skinny jeans and a great jacket. Then I got home and actually looked in my closet and realized I hated everything! After a good half hour standing in my underpants sipping a cocktail, I knew something had to give. And then I gave myself a reality check - no one was going to give two craps as to what I was wearing to any of these parties when standing next to a colossal, glowing-skinned 18-year old model.

I remembered this pair of skinny tan trousers I was recently given by a friend who was moving. They are Helmut Lang, and are actually men's pants, so obviously this was one skinny man. His loss was my score! As one would expect from Mr. Lang, they are simple, clean and really go with everything. Step one completed. As I thought it not wise to show up topless, I went to the depths of the back of the closet in search of a top. I pulled out a cute little camisole that I got in Paris and haven't worn in at least a year. It's simple draping perfectly offset the crisp fitted pants. A leather jacket and some big platform shoes and I was set to go.

No, you obviously won't be seeing my picture in any magazines or on a best dressed list, but I felt comfortable, chic, and most importantly I felt like me.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Canada...A Departure

This post is a bit of a departure from the usual theme of this blog. I was actually asked to be a guest blogger for my friend Kate Sullivan's blog. Does this mean I am actually getting good at this whole blogging thing? Am I in demand?!?!?

So this month's post is merely a link to her blog (which is great and you should check out even when I am not writing for it!).

Enjoy :)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Halfway Mark

Fashion fades, only style remains the same. -Coco Chanel

Oh dear Lord, yes, I can see the light!

It has officially been 6 months sans shopping. Hard to believe how the time has flown. It has definitely not been easy, which some of you can certainly attest to, but I have managed to keep my focus and avoid temptation. There are certainly parts of me that miss the thrill of wearing something new. For instance, we are going on holiday next week for which I normally might have bought a new piece of clothing. And part of this holiday is an event for which I definitely would have purchased a new dress...and possibly some shoes too!

So I thought this would be a good point to share some of the wisdom I have gained from this experience. Shoes are the most vital part of my wardrobe. As I get older, I fully recognize that my mother was right (oh dear!) should always invest in a good mattress and good, quality shoes. Once I start shopping in 2011, the majority of my shopping budget (yes, I will be putting myself on a budget) will be going towards replacing some worn out shoes. I have also learned the importance of finding a good tailor and a good cobbler. When you buy quality shoes, you can add even more to their life span by having that special someone to re-sole and repair them. Another thing I will need to stock up on? Underpants! For those who questioned this, no, I have by no means "run out" of presentable underwear, but I also discovered I have a few pair on their last legs as well as a few pair I hardly ever wear because, to be honest, they aren't very comfortable by the end of a long day. I could also use a new pair of jeans, though I have discovered a denim repair shop in my neighborhood which I am going to try out on two pairs that are in pretty good shape other than a slowly wearing out ass area, so we will see what sort of magic they can perform. Lastly, as Madame Chanel so rightly noted, you can't go wrong with a classic shape that will simply never go out of style!

But other than these few staples, even after 6 months without a single purchase, my wardrobe remains rather well intact and not really lacking. I can also honestly, yet somewhat sheepishly admit, that there are still items in my closet I have yet to wear since this experiment began. So with 5 months to go, I will keep in mind the clothes I still have yet to wear and look forward to rehabilitating my closet by replacing these few key and essential pieces.

Oh, and this weekend I received what I would like to think of as a reward for a job well done thus far. My darling boyfriend bought me these adorable little classic Spanish espadrilles for a mere $26 dollars.

The path to a man's heart may be through his stomach, but a woman's is definitely through her well-dressed feet!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Using My Talents For Good

Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months. -Oscar Wilde

One of my boyfriend’s many endearing qualities is that he is very much a “guy”. This translates into many great advantages such as he is always there to fix things, he is a grilling master, he doesn’t mind dealing with the more disgusting household chores, and serves as my own personal live-in spider killer. Lucky for me, this dude-ness does not translate into an insane love of sports. Phew! But with the aforementioned advantages there are also the inevitable challenges. There is often confusion as to what qualifies as a dirty clothes hamper (hint – it is not on the floor next to the bed nor on the bathroom floor where one has literally stepped out of their clothes) and sometimes the necessity of a shower needs to be pointed out. Only sometimes, and these are challenges we are working on.

But what I am writing about today is his lack of acknowledging when the need to buy some new clothes has reached near code red urgent levels. I am sure sometimes it is simply feeling as if there just isn’t enough time to devote to something so menial, but when I casually mention that maybe a little shopping expedition is in order and this is met with a blank stare while wearing a thread bare T-shirt with visible holes that is his “favorite”, I know that something must be done. My man has a very informed, classically cool and relaxed sense of style, but sometimes some assistance or a loving push is needed to help with necessary re-stocking. So a plan is made to take a nice scenic drive outside the city followed by a stop at the discount outlets at Woodbury Commons.

I embark on our journey that Sunday morning with an excited feeling in my stomach at the prospect of this allowed shopping experience! Having never been to this mecca of shopping before, pulling up and figuring out where to begin can be a little daunting. A sudden summer rainstorm forces us into John Varvatos. Not a bad place to start, but no prizes found. We venture into a few more stores with no luck, until we reach J Crew where some new T-shirts are purchased, which surprisingly do not include holes but are still deemed winners by my man, and a very comfy pair of linen pants to beat the summer heat.

The day rolls on without too much luck until we arrive at the Barneys outlet store. As you may have gathered from past posts, Barneys and I have had a long and wonderful, if not somewhat dysfunctional, relationship. It is very love-hate due to the fact I have no business shopping at a store that sells clothing at such a price point, though I have usually been restrained enough to keep my trips to visit this tempting lover to the downtown Co-op store and the annual warehouse sale. I will say that I have never regretted a purchase I have made at Barneys and those pieces are in consistent rotation in my wardrobe. But enough reminiscing about my past transgressions, on this day, I went nowhere near the women’s section and kept my steal-like focus on the task at hand.

At the Barneys outlet, many options were looked at and evaluated before a rather sizeable pile was taken back to the dressing room for further assessment. Discoveries were made, such as RRL and Generra fit him really well and Steven Alan and APC pants need to go at least two sizes up from what one would normally wear unless you are going for that look that leaves no question as to which side you tend to put your package. Though it was difficult to narrow it down and still stay within budget, cuts were made, and we left with 3 great button-downs of differing styles for differing seasons and a simple pair of trousers. The final stop was a trip to Theory for a pair of fitted pants that still left him with his dignity, oh, and an ice cream to share for the ride home (yes, one to share…a lot of dough had been laid out and one has to make cuts somewhere!). And even though I went home empty handed, aside from the ice cream, the pleased expression on my love’s face served as the ultimate reward for a job well done!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Oh Strappy Summer Sandals, I Think I Miss You Most Of All.

Shoes are like tires for New Yorkers. You have to rotate and replace them on a fairly regular basis. -Nicole Taney

It has now been four full months of no shopping. That's right, not a lick of money has been spent on clothes, shoes, scarves, hats, necklaces, sunglasses....sigh. And to look on the bright side, only seven months to go. Double sigh!

I have had a few people ask how much money I have been saving. To be honest, I have seen very little difference in my cash flow (repeat to yourself over and over - I love New York, I love New York, I love New York). The difference is that I am not spending money that I don't have, ie. using my old nemesis, the evil credit card. My credit card is truly for emergencies only now and I hope to keep it that way. And for those of you wondering, come January 1, 2011, this does not mean an emergency sale at Bloomingdales. Just wanted to clear that up.

But spring has come to NYC and summer is just around the corner! The city is alive with flowers and birds (yes, I know you all in the country have that in spades) and the ladies of the city are out and about in their summer finery. The parade of flowing dresses, fun hats, big sunglasses, and new sandals....oh, new sandals. Sandals and flip flops may be my favorite footwear of all. After years of abusing my tootsies by shoving them into pointe shoes, oh how I relish in these little shoes that let your toes be free! I begin the de-hoofing process in March, so that by April and May my toes are polished and shiny and the winter doldrums have been scrubbed, sloughed and buffed off my feet.

My friend and office mate R, came into our office last week with not one, or two, but three new pairs of summer shoes. The catalyst for this spending was some pesky tendon pain and the need for shoes with a slight wedge to help to combat it. And though, I was completely happy for R and not jealous at all (no no, not one bit), I did find myself missing the days of finding really great excuses, er I mean completely necessary reasons, to purchase a new pair of shoes. Or two or three. Yes, it is true, I have an arsenal of sandals from years past in my closet, but my shoes tend to take quite a beating on the mean streets of New York and some are looking slightly worse for wear. When I think about what I will be buying at the end of this social journey of mine, shoes are one of the first things to come to mind.

So this summer I will march on in my sandals from seasons past, but next year I can guarantee there will be some new recruits. And just like our young men that have recently descended on our fair city for Fleet Week - they will be very, very cute!

*Note - for those of you who are still allowed to shop, shoes pictured are (listed from top to bottom) - Marais USA, Rachel Comey, Seychelles