Tag Archives: shopping

Fake It ‘Til You Make It (wardrobe edition)

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A quick refresher on how to add or subtract pounds/kilos visually

COLOR

Light colors make you look larger. Darker colors make you look smaller. Use them to call attention to areas you want to highlight or minimize.

SHAPE

Garments that are boxy and shapeless add weight, though we tend to hope they disguise extra pounds. Longer lengths, such as a jacket that falls below the hips, elongate your silhouette.

FIT

Avoid squeezing into anything too tight. One size up will be more comfortable as well as more flattering. If you want to add curves this principle still applies; too-tight clothing will only emphasize your shape.

FABRIC

It’s no surprise that thick, bulky fabrics (I’m looking at you, teddy bear coats!) add literal inches.

DESIGN

Single-breasted jackets have less fabric around the mid-section than double-breasted ones do. And the additional buttons on a double-breasted style call attention to the bust and belly, especially if they’re metallic.

VERTICAL vs HORIZONTAL

Vertical lines elongate; horizontals widen. This is not just about actual stripes; a contrast-color belt creates a horizontal, as does an outfit with multiple hem lengths. If you love horizontal stripes, as I do, add a long solid-color cardigan to minimize the pattern and create a vertical line.

For the leanest look, stay within one color palette (including shoes) and add visual interest and/or color with jewelry or a scarf near the face.

COVID-19 Spending and Saving

Perhaps the only upside to what I call the “pandammit” is that I’m not shopping like a drunken socialite, to quote my friend S. Which doesn’t mean I’ve stopped shopping altogether; it’s more that I’m buying different things.

Big-ticket items flew out the window as life got simpler and our activities remain close to home. Meanwhile, entire categories (hello, hand sanitizer) became essentials. What a topsy-turvy world! (Google reports that the expression “may be an adaptation of the medieval verb ‘tirve’, meaning ‘to turn or to topple over’. It has also been suggested that ‘turvy’ is an allusion to ‘turf’ and that ‘topsy-turvy’ means ‘with one’s head on the turf’.”) 

Spending more

  • Amazon – miscellaneous household items, esp. hard to get stuff
  • Whole Foods delivery in the early months
  • Fresh fruits and veggies from farmers’ market and small specialty grocers
  • Cooking gadgets
  • Wine and booze – do you even have to ask why?
  • TV streaming services
  • Zoom membership
  • Books
  • Vitamins, supplements, acetaminophen PM
  • Face masks — whoever predicted one would need a wardrobe of these?!
  • Cute socks
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Fresh flowers to maintain sanity and illusion of elegant normalcy

Saving more

  • Makeup, especially lipstick – kind of pointless when wearing a mask, no?
  • Hair salon – spreading out appointments and doing trimming/touch-ups myself until desperate
  • Pedicures – My toes are not worth dying for
  • Restaurants
  • New clothes – to go where, exactly?
  • Travel
  • Cultural events/theatre/opera tix
  • Massages and facials (see pedicure)

Yep, things are definitely tirving these days.

photo of inverted woman on wooden chair

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Fashion Revolution in the Age of COVID

black mannequin

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Sharing a very interesting fashion article, courtesy of Kat’s excellent Feather Factor blog:

WWD Business: Fashion’s Great French Revolution
By Laura Lanteri on May 11, 2020

“When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich.” — Jean-Jacques Rousseau

In 2012, when Miuccia Prada, sitting at the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan, was trying to reconcile her own political and philosophical beliefs (she was a member of the Italian Communist party during her youth) and the idiosyncrasies of her job, she commented: “Fashion is the first step out of poverty.” Her reasoning was quite simple. Once an individual satisfies all their primary needs — food, shelter, health — one of their first desires is to look better, to change, to “elevate” themselves.

Aspiration versus accessibility, equality versus exclusivity, relatability versus uniqueness: Miuccia Prada knew that fashion did have a place in bettering this world, but she was also deeply aware of the almost irreparable craters that separated her from the masses.

Fast-forward eight years and here we are, exactly where Miuccia Prada predicted we would be: the fashion revolution is here, and it’s disturbingly ugly. The dynamics that have driven the exorbitant financial and commercial growth of the industry are the very same forces that — exasperated by a global pandemic of unthinkable proportions — are now possibly risking its extinction.

And, this time, the Revolution started at the bottom of the food chain, from the very customers that fashion, and especially the luxury sector, tried to lure into impossible aspirational dreams of never-ending consumption.

Customers are most certainly not buying into the aspiration anymore, and the reasons for their unhappiness go well beyond the scarcity and misery brought about by this pandemic.

From reports that millions of garment workers in India and Bangladesh may be reduced into starvation by the current interruption in the supply chain of major retailers, to the increasingly popular images depicting a cleaner, less polluted world due to a halt in consumption, travel and productivity, to the devastating realities of hundreds of thousands of retail workers being furloughed across the United States, fashion has never looked so broken.

And fashion customers, just like the French Revolution insurgents circling around the impossible marvel that was Versailles, are taking notice. Not just notice — action.

It’s not that surprising then that — at the time when we are all forced to cling to our own very essential version of life — most of this “stuff,” the fashion stuff, is getting cut out. McKinsey & Co. is projecting a contraction of the luxury sector of up to 40 percent in 2020. I think that may be an optimistic figure. Earnest Research reports a 70 percent drop in spending for “Apparel and Accessories” for the week ending on April 1, 2020.

Even assuming that fashion and luxury will survive in some tangible form, the reality we will go back to will not resemble our pre-pandemic world in any way.

Fashion and luxury will have to change because the audience they used to have are not there anymore. Fashion is no longer simply a monologue, and customers are emerging as much more powerful voices in this dialogue. They are shouting. They are shouting at Madonna taking a milky bath with rose petals in her mansion while philosophizing about COVID-19 being “the great equalizer.” They are shouting at Ellen DeGeneres, who is comparing her quarantine in a multimillion-dollar compound to “jail.” They are shouting at Jennifer Lopez, who is joke-complaining about quarantine with her family in a massive mansion, oblivious to her privilege and to the horrendous struggle outside of her door.

It is worth noting that many of these celebrities were, as of a few weeks ago, considered the pioneers of change for fashion. J.Lo was seen as the ambassador of “older women,” showing us that we didn’t have to dress “our age.” DeGeneres has been, and maybe still will be, a pioneer in the advancement of LGBTQ rights, both in entertainment and in fashion.

Madonna has changed the way we think about how women dress well before she wore the much-clamored Gaultier cones. But not anymore — these women are not the voices or the aspirations of the zeitgeist. They were brand ambassadors for a system that was already on the verge of collapse. Their obliviousness to this current catastrophe only accelerated a process of self-destruction.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Fashion used to be — in many ways — an invisible force behind change. Not an equalizing force, but a transformative one. Taking pleasure in beauty and design is a quintessentially human prerogative. Beyond the obvious aesthetic qualities that fashion encapsulates, fashion used to mean something to its audience.

The most famous fashion designers in history have made significant contributions to how we relate to each other in society and how we perceive who we are. Not simply about how we look.

From Coco Chanel’s rebellion against uncomfortable clothing for women, to YSL’s embrace of the androgynous to Vivienne Westwood’s anti-establishment ethos, to Pierpaolo Piccioli’s vision of inclusivity, fashion becomes successful when it relates to its audience on a deep, visceral level. Not just on a grand scale, but — most powerfully now — on a human scale.

Fashion customers, the industry audience, seem to have suddenly noticed the difference. From the founder of Something Navy, who has been subjected to vicious attacks on social media after escaping Manhattan for the Hamptons during the pandemic, to Elle Macpherson, whose brand WelleCo has been heavily criticized after it sent out promotional e-mails marketing a “Super Elixir” allegedly promoting immune support (cost: $80), fashion customers appear pretty unforgiving and quick to discard previously beloved brands. Perhaps even more tellingly, Chiara Ferragni — the Italian model and “digital entrepreneur” ranked as the number-one fashion influencer in the world by Forbes — is now advertising pasta and mascarpone cheese on her Instagram posts. No more Giambattista Valli there.

Make no mistake: These are hard times for any company that is not selling essential goods. And buying a new dress is in itself an utterly insignificant gesture. But if this dress morphs into a determination of a person’s true presence, then fashion regains its power.

Fashion perhaps can be small again, it can shrink back to human scale, its beauty as vivid as the fairness of its (new) processes. Fashion’s ambition has probably always been — indeed as Miuccia Prada said — about a desire to better ourselves. Recently, we just lost track of who we are.

So let the screams coming from social media all around the world be a powerful wake-up call for all of fashion. Because the Fashion Revolutionaries are in. And they will not eat cake.

Laura Lanteri is an adjunct professor at The New School’s Parsons School of Design.

 

What is Luxury Today?

I’ve just finished reading an excellent blog post about the recent hikes in luxury prices, which has gotten me thinking about fashion in general and what’s even relevant anymore.

There’s nothing like a few months of quarantine to make fashion seem entirely superfluous. Where are we going, and who are we going to see anyway?  Layer on the implicit showing off that accompanies an expensive purchase, and it’s even more ridiculous when our thoughts are on slightly bigger issues, such as survival.

Good health: that’s the true luxury. But I digress.

At the same time, though, fashion has long had a role in creating optimism and cheering us up: Note the exuberance of Dior’s New Look after World War II when women couldn’t wait to get back into pretty clothes again. Even if it’s an illusion, it’s comforting to put on an outfit that makes you feel life is returning to normal.

The disconnect for me lies with hugely expensive items.  If nothing else, the pandemic has forced people to think about what matters to us: the health and safety of people we love. Recent features on how celebrities are “coping” with isolation in their multi-million-dollar, multi-thousand-square-foot bunkers have met with ridicule and pushback. Showing off anyone’s net worth seems particularly tasteless these days.

So, I’m wondering: Are you shopping at all? Planning to shop? Clearing out your wardrobe to keep only the stuff you love? Saving up for a special item? Or none of the above?

pink and orange textile

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To Brie or Not to Brie

Armed with gloves, Purell and facemasks, we sallied forth this morning to explore the dangerous terrain of a grocery store.  Terra incognita for over a month, we’d finally caved to the need for items beyond Amazon’s ability to deliver.

First, a great deal of strategy was required.  The store needed to be overpriced and inconveniently located, so as to attract the fewest customers. The shopping list needed to be air tight, with no room for impulse buys or backtracking through aisles already traveled. All equipment needed to be checked in advance for pinholes through which sneaky microbes might invade. Sanitizer needed to be at the ready.  Ditto, credit card… no fumbling for cash.

Upon arrival, we spotted a few other intrepid souls, all great distances apart and moving cautiously.  We carefully stalked the produce section, standing well back to furtively scan the available items before plunging into the fray.  While no one seemed interested in artichokes, we did note a mysterious convergence in the imported cheese section.  Pasta was also dangerously populated and best avoided.

For approximately the price of a skydiving session, we completed our daring expedition and emerged triumphant with empty wallets and a full cart. I, for one, am exhausted by all this exertion and plan to take to my couch with the vapors.

As the famous Earl Nightingale quote has it: “Wherever there is danger, there lurks opportunity; whenever there is opportunity, there lurks danger.”  Hopefully, the crisis will be resolved soon.  There’s only so much excitement I can tolerate.

man standing on cliff

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Pandemic Chic

March is usually a wonderful time of year for those of us who love fashion. The magazines and runway reports are bursting with inspiration, and we’re ready to do a little shopping and look forward to wearing our new acquisitions.

Not these days, though.  Where are we going to wear a dazzling dress or sexy shoes?

For anyone still craving that undeniable lift, why not order a new pair of sensual silk pajamas in which to lounge around all Nick-and-Nora-Charles and pretend it’s a simpler time while sipping your Quarantini*?

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 (per Reddit.com)    *Shout out to Betsy xoxo.

Toss in some maribou-trimmed slippers, while you’re at it.

Since we’ve had to cancel our trip to London — so disappointing — I’m consoling myself with possibly the world’s most glamourous lipstick.  Admittedly pricey for a lipstick, but pretty reasonable for Hermès and totally fabulous.

The refillable case, designed by Pierre Hardy, is lacquered, polished, brushed metal that closes with the solid click of a luxury automobile.

I’m determined to wear this, even if it’s only for my own sanity.

And if all else fails …

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Gift Ideas When Money Is No Object

While you’ve been agonizing over finding the perfect gifts, this post is sure to inspire a giggle or two.  It kinda gives new meaning to the phrase “insanely rich”.  Enjoy!

abundance bank banking banknotes

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Shopping Frenzy

My inbox is shrieking with Black Friday this, Cyber Monday that — all the bargains we have to have NOW! Because they’re GOING FAST! In a sale I WON’T WANT TO MISS!

The urgency is terrifying.

Here’s what I’d like to see reduced for the holidays at a new, LOW! LOW! PRICE — for all of us:

  1. The cable bill
  2. Property taxes
  3. Medical fees
  4. Legal fees
  5. The phone bill
  6. Utilities
  7. Insurance: car, homeowners’, medical, dental, you name it

And I don’t mean some temporary, lull-me-into-thinking-it’s-forever, special short-term deal; I want to see a minimum 50% off.  Is that too much to ask?!?

Guess I will have to settle for a new pair of boots, a replacement for my worn-out black cashmere cardigan, and my favorite about-to-be-discontinued lipstick. Sigh.

Are you shopping the sales? Finding some good bargains? Do share!

paper bags near wall

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Good News Monday: Saving While Shopping

I should undoubtedly shop less and spend less, but sometimes there is simply something I want to acquire.  And I don’t want to pay a penny more than necessary.

That’s where ShopTagr comes in.

Having recently discovered this app, I find it an easy way to track an item I’m interested in to see if/when it’s going on sale or coming back in stock.

Once you’ve downloaded the ShopTagr app, their icon will also automatically pop on when you’re shopping — whether or not it’s on your saved list — showing coupons you can use.

Overall reviews for the app are good, although the above link shows some negative feedback from a Safari user.  I use Chrome as my browser and have not had any issues so far, knock wood… (hmmm, possibly a new myrtlewood salad set?)

banking business checklist commerce

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Unboxing: One of Life’s Small Pleasures

I’m a sucker for a great presentation.  And what’s more enjoyable than ordering something you want or need, and having it arrive beautifully packaged? Suddenly, it’s a special occasion that’s all about YOU.

My old passport case was getting a bit ratty, and it was a dark brown, always difficult to find in my bag. I finally found what I wanted online and decided to treat myself.

  1. Plain carton arrives.  I know what’s in it so no surprise there, right?
  2. But… when I open it, a beautiful card pops up on the lid.IMG-1347.jpg
  3. Cool! This has my initials on it. IMG-13484. A box within a box…IMG-13495. And now, the box my item is actually in….IMG-13506. Safely protected in its little pouch…IMG-13517.  The perfect shade of red.IMG-13528. With lots of room for credit cards and money too.IMG-1353 (1).jpg

Why shouldn’t something practical also be beautiful? Just looking at this makes me eager to plan my next trip abroad.

Treat yourselves to a great weekend, dear readers! xoxo, Alisa