Monday, September 27, 2010

WWWF Grudge Match: Nordstrom RACK vs. TJMaxx

Ah, remember the days on the internet of WWWF Grudge Match? I miss those humorous head-to-head imaginary smackdowns. Time to resurrect them, with a fashion twist. Introducing not WWD, not WWW, but the WWWF (World Wide War of Fashion) Grudge Match! Our first combantants:

Nordstrom RACK vs. TJMaxx!

THE SETTING: St. Louis. A cloudy Sunday afternoon with autumn in the air provides perfect shopping weather. A solitary bargain-hunting fashionista sets out in need of some fall clothes. Her choices are the just-opened Nordstrom RACK and the tried-and-true TJMaxx, one with the Runway section in the back.

Which one will have the best bargains for autumn clothing?

THE COMMENTARY: First up is Nordstrom RACK. Now I was never impressed with the RACK; even in Chicago it was nothing spectacular. Saks Off 5th had a lot more going for it in terms of deals and brands. But since it has just opened, I decided to check it out. The parking lot was packed, and the first thing I noticed when I walked in was the checkout line had about 60 very patient people waiting in it, and it snaked through the store.

I walked around. My focus was shoes and clothes, but I noticed Neutrogena Healthy Skin face cleanser at the front, on sale for $5.49. This is the face wash I use, and it is usually $7.49. So this is a great deal and a promising start. But I wondered, when did Nordstroms start selling Neutrogena products? Hmmm.

First was the shoe section. Some Sofft, lots of middle-to-low brands and nothing for fall: no fall lace-up booties and no leopard prints. In the clothing area, the only Nordstrom-worthy brands were Vince and Theory, which were still out of my price range. There were denim brands like Joe’s Jeans, but I don’t need any jeans right now. Suffice to say, I walked quickly out of RACK empty-handed.

On to TJMaxx. The parking lot was not full and there was no one waiting in line inside. I head straight for their Runway section, and am greeted with all kinds of garish clothing. But it’s designer garish clothing, so I began flipping through every rack, looking for hidden gems. I got really excited when I see an entire section of Missoni clothing, but, even discounted-to-$199 Missoni pieces are too pricey for me. There was a lot of Theory, Vince, Nanette Leopore, and Rock & Republic. And Escada. I picked up a blue/black houndstooth Nanette Leopore skirt and a neon yellow Theory cardigan, and carried them around with me for a while, but never brought them into the dressing room.

I reluctantly left the Runway section and thought I’d do a quick look around the rest of the store. It was in the dresses section that I finally scored: a beautiful charcoal short-sleeved sweater dress from Calvin Klein, one of my favorite brands. It has a tiered texture and a scoopneck, and the dressing room try-on confirmed it. It was half-off, only $50, which for such a work and church staple, was the fall bargain I was looking for!

Though I had visions of Nordstrom RACK surprising me with amazing deals on designers I’d normally not be able to afford (like Tory Burch and Missoni, which a real Nordstroms carries), I was very disappointed. They have a good denim selection, but I won’t be going back there any time soon. Until I run out of face wash.

TJMaxx holds a lot of promise with its Runway section. I will keep going back to see if I can find an investment piece. They also have a lot of designer denim, like Joe’s Jeans, 7 for All Mankind, and Dylan George. TJMaxx wins by a landslide!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Plato's Closet Rejections Support Group

Years ago, when I lived in Chicago, I had a great idea. I was weeding my closet and creating a pile of clothes to donate to Goodwill. The clothes were fashionable and in good condition, but did not fit me anymore. My idea? Take the clothes to Plato's Closet! Which I had heard a lot about on the radio, but had never been to.

Now there wasn't a PC in downtown Chicago where I lived. So I gathered my clothes and trekked waaaay out to the west suburbs and finally found the store. Confident and excited at the prospect of having a little spending money, I gave them the small bag of clothing, and waited around the store, looking at their racks.

When they were done, the girl politely and gently told me that my clothes' style was "too old" and there was only one sweater that they would offer to purchase for a grand total of $3. I was rejected. I was embarrassed. I meekly took the $3 and the rest of my clothes and left as quickly as possible. I told myself I would never try that again!

But history is doomed to repeat itself, and recently here in STL, I again was enticed to try to resell some clothing I had. This time it wasn't at PC, but at Rag-O-Rama. I gathered up some nice clothing and off I went. This time I was completely rejected, they did not want a single item, again claiming that they were "not current styles." What am I wearing? Clothes from the 90s? Grandma clothes?

A good friend of mine, in her 20s, recently went to Plato's Closet, in preparation for a big move. I warned her. I prayed for her. But they rejected all of her clothing, saying they wouldn't accept anything older than 2009 styles.

So I am hereby creating a Plato's Closet Rejections Support Group. Here, we understand. You may share your stories of humiliation and dashed hopes, all with perfect anonymity. Here, you are safe to share your stories. There is no condemnation, only support and love for you and the clothing in your closet. Do not fear. You are not alone.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

European Street Fashion

I kept my eyes wide open as we traveled to England, France, Italy, and Germany. Here’s what I saw everywhere:

- Ballet flats. Usually in black.
- Blazers. Blazers. Blazers. Small and oversized. Why didn’t I bring any?
- Tennis/sporty shoes (not workout shoes).
- Straight leg jeans in medium or dark washes.
- Skinny pants and jeans.
- Black clothing.
- Leggings.
- Pencil skirts.
- Large hobo handbags.
- Longchamp and Louis Vuitton handbags.
- Striped shirts, especially in Paris.
- Lots of scarves. It was chilly in London and Frankfurt.

It is true that Europeans dress more formally than we do here in the United States. And I did see girls wearing high heels once in a while. I think if I would have known this, and anticipated the cooler weather, I would have packed differently.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My New Parisian Flats

We have returned from our Europe trip! Unfortunately I lost our camera somewhere in Paris, so you'll have to bear with me, there may not be new outfit posts for a while until we can buy a new one.

I purchased two things for myself on our trip, a grey Espirit sweater and a pair of flats. Not just any flats, though, a pair of red patent, French brand Repetto ballerina flats. I had heard about the quality, classic, comfortable shoes on the internet, but since they do not have stores outside of France (save a corner of The Shoe Galleries floor in London's Selfridges department store), I have not seen them in person or tried them on. I wanted to check them out for myself!

The Repetto store was busy. A young man helped me, and when I told him I was interested in trying on the red patent pair (the only reds on display), he gave me a skeptical look and said they were almost sold out. My European shoe size is 36 (size 6) but he said he only had a 37 left. I tried them on anyways, and they fit! I think they run a bit small.

I have never tried on such a flexible pair of patent shoes. Usually patent is stiff, maybe reinforced? but these were very flexible. They did not slip off my heel, and generally they were very comfortable. So here they are, and I think you'll be seeing them get a lot of wear! Sorry I don't have a closeup of them...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Flats Are Everywhere!

Hi from Rome!

One thing I learned very quickly, sightseeing all day for many days requires flat shoes.

The second thing I noticed is that most women in London wear flats. Either ballerina flats or sport shoes (not athletic shoes). On the Tube, I saw women wearing flats with pantyhose (see photo above)!

I brought two pairs of heels and one pair of flats on our vacation. The heels are low and comfortable, but not enough for an entire day on my feet!

In Paris, I continued to see a lot of ballerina flats and sport shoes. And some flat sandals.

Here in Rome I have seen gladiator flats but also very high heels in the shopping and high-end districts.

So my friends, there is a little report on footwear in Europe!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Manolo Blahnik Pop Up At Liberty in London

Hello from Paris!
I have been touring the streets of London and Paris, and really looking for fashion news to report. First up: London's Fashion's Night Out, at the Liberty store. There was a Manolo Blahnik pop-up, or temporary, store with Mr. Blahnik attending! I must have gotten there after he left. It was still a madhouse, as you can see above. Masses of women trying on and buying shoes. Very expensive shoes.

I am on a flats kick. Love those top Manolos.
Fashion's Night Out was nice and seemed to be over too soon. We had champagne at the Levi's store, and visited Selfridges department store, and most store windows had the FNO logo printed on their storefront windows. It was a bit cool outside and came at the end of a long day of sightseeing. What is interesting about Oxford St./New Bond St. is how the stores keep repeating. We would see an H&M and then about seven blocks later, see another one on the same street. Didn't buy anything but tried on a skirt and a dress.
Hope you are all doing well my friends! I'll try to post again soon.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Vacationing in London, Paris, Rome, and Frankfurt

Hello my friends! My husband and I are going on a two week vacation in Europe. I’ve been saving my hard-earned dollars to buy some clothing and shoes on the other side of the Atlantic.

We are taking our netbook computer, so I will be able to continue blogging, however, it may not be every weekday as I’ve been doing.

Look for street style posts, my outfit posts, and other goodies, including a report from London’s Fashion’s Night Out. I won’t bore you with the touristy stuff, I’ll be blogging about fashion, spirituality, or humor, I assure you!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ready for Paris

striped shirt by Aqua, black pants from LOFT, red belty by Preston & York, white shrug from Von Maur, Loeffler Randall black skull flats

Feeling French today, getting mentally ready for our trip next week.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Accessories: The Neck or the Waist

When I get dressed, I make a decision whether to emphasize the neck or the waist. But not both. The eye needs to be initially drawn to a single focus, and then the rest of the outfit follows visually with textures and other subtle accessories.

With some dresses that have a less defined waist, I usually bring on the attention-grabbing necklaces.

With belted skirts and pants, I wear no necklace or a delicate one.