Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cheap Clothes, Expensive Shoes...Who Cares?! (part 2, Fashion Star)

I'm continuing my post from Friday. For people who aren't familiar with "Fashion Star", this is a reality show that features designers who make one special piece of clothing or accessory each week. They're mentored by 3 people who are current successful designers: Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie, and John Varvatos. Each week, their items get showcased on a runway in front of 3 buyers: one from H&M, one from Saks Fifth Avenue, and one from Macy's. If any of the buyers likes the item, a bid is placed. The item can be sold in only 1 store, so if more than 1 buyer likes it, a bidding war takes place, and that's where it gets exciting. If a designer doesn't get any bids, (s)he gets put at risk for elimination from the show. The winning items are sold in stores the next day and online right after the end of the show.

This dress is one of the latest winning items from the most recent episode, which I bought from H&M. I learned my lesson after about 5 episodes. The items go on sale online right after the show ends on the East Coast, which was why I missed out on buying them from the online H&M store. Now I know to log on to H&M right after 8 pm PST. Now I can get the same advantage as East Coast fashionistas and watch other shows at 10 pm. However, I'm one of those people who hates returning, so it's pretty rare that I buy any clothes online. So it suits me to go in store to buy them. But feel free to use this piece of advice, West Coasters/Midwesterners/Mountain Regioners! Honestly, I don't feel any item from the show is worth more than $50, so I don't think I'll be buying them from either Saks or Macy's. At Saks, the items sell for around $300 each, and at Macy's just over $100.

The H&M items from this show sell have been selling like hotcakes, so I was surprised to see it in the store at Century City mall on Thursday. I'm now wearing a size 2 in most brands, so when I saw the smallest size was a 6, I thought I'd be swimming in it. I took the size 8 in, too, just in case. My first thoughts were totally wrong. Boy this dress runs small! I was able to zip myself into the 6, but barely. The size 8 went on perfectly, but on a petite woman like me (5'3"-5'4"), the top part was a little long and bunches out. The dress was only $39.95, so the retail price may end up costing as much as the alterations to fix it, but I love this dress, so it may be worth it.

Following the theme of the title of this post and making good on my promise to post a pic, here is the "Fashion Star" dress designed by Luciana with my Christian Louboutin nude Bianca pumps:

Hello to my newest followers: Ms. Shena and nikkiwix!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Cheap Clothes, Expensive Shoes...Who Cares?!

I'm so tired on most Friday nights. I don't hit the bars to relieve my stress. The last thing I want to do on a Friday night is deal with crowds. I usually go home, kick back, and watch TV. Nothing I wanted to watch was on TV tonight, so I decided to log onto tpf after a long absence. Then I was reminded of the reason why I took my absence from tpf.

I clicked on an interesting thread that addressed judgements people make on wearers of Christian Louboutin shoes. It started off well. Many people posted that they usually deem the wearers to be sexy or fashionable. Then someone posted "why would you spend that much on shoes and then have really cheap clothes".... People are entitled to their opinions. I get that, but since this is my blog, I'm going to give mine.

Why does it matter to one person how much a complete stranger spends on her/his clothes, shoes, or accessories? I don't care if the girl who passes me at the mall walks into Steve Madden and buys the shoe that looks like my Very Prive. Why should I? I have more important things to think about. Do I think that, as a Birkin owner, I'm better than the woman who buys her purses from Wal-Mart? No, because I know that a person is much more than the things she owns. And if the woman who bought her purse from Wal-Mart decides to splurge on a pair of Louboutins one day and to continue buying her purses and all her clothes from Wal-Mart, should I care? Hell no! That woman is entitled to spend her money how she wants.

The tpfer's statement really got to me cuz it made me think of my dear friend J. J, if you can recall from my earlier post on my trip to New York last summer, is the friend in the photo with me in front of the Christian Louboutin Horatio boutique: J had been planning, for months, to buy her CLs. She'd been admiring mine for a long time, but due to all her financial commitments and overwhelming generosity toward others, couldn't afford a pair of her own. When we decided to go to NY together, she was determined to get a pair for herself. She knew it'd be a one-time deal cuz those commitments weren't going away. She's also tiny, so it works out for her body and her budget to shop at Forever 21 and H&M. Since she went through with the splurge, she's been rocking her CLs almost everywhere. We both recently took our CLs to my favorite cobbler, Eddie ( He joked that he could tell she'd been partying cuz hers were so much more worn out than mine (he did a great job restoring them, though). I need to take a page from J's book. Talk about enjoyment from your things! And yes, she wears them with her F21 and H&M dresses...and she looks hot! Should she have kept the CLs in her closet until she was willing and able to buy a Dior dress?! I don't think so!

Speaking of mixing inexpensive clothes with expensive shoes, I went to H&M last night. I was lucky enough to find the Fashion Star floral dress designed by Luciana. I put it on in the fitting room, thinking how perfect it'd look with my nude Biancas. So I took it home. Pic to follow. And since it's a Fashion Star dress, it'll be easily recognized as a cheap dress, but IDGARA!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

To Outlet, To Outlet, To Buy a...

new wardrobe!  After losing a significant amount of weight so quickly, I found myself severely lacking in the clothing department.  I'm pretty much having to rebuild an entire wardrobe.  I found that I was mostly lacking in the clothes that I wear regularly, the basics.  Also, today being Saturday, and having had completed yet another hectic work week, I decided a shopping trip was in order.

I allowed myself $200 for this trip, to buy my basics plus a pair of scrubs for work and a few items at Target.  Not much to work with, and I'll admit that I wanted clothing from labels I'd bought in the past.  No Prada this time, but could I afford Juicy Couture and Joe's Jeans on this budget?  I could...if I go to Camarillo Premium Outlets!  Of course!  I Googled them to get directions.  Then I went to the outlets' website and found that a Splendid/Ella Moss store was there, too!  OMG!  I knew I HAD to go!  Luckily, for me, it's only a 45-minute drive, totally doable on a Saturday afternoon. 

I found just what I was looking for at Joe's Jeans.  For shorties like me, their Provocateur jeans are EVERYTHING.  At the outlet store, the price is $99.99, and at retail stores, the price is $158 and up (only about a 35% discount, but it's a style that rarely goes on sale, particularly in dark classic washes).  They're not like other denim brands' petite styles, where they seem to just cut inches off their normal styles.  The Provocateur jeans are actually cut to flatter the shorties.  At 5'3"-5'4", the length on me is perfect.  I can wear them with sneakers AND with heels.  And the wash I got is dark enough to be worn out to dinner/drinks (I see myself wearing them with my 150mm Loubies!).  The salesgirls there were so nice.  One of them told me to go to the info desk and present my AAA card for a VIP pass, which is free to members.  Unfortunately, I didn't use the VIP discounts (in order to use them, I had to make bigger purchases), but it was good to know of, anyway.  I highly recommend AAA membership-the discounts I've gotten with it have made it so worth the fee (I used it on my hotel stays in New York during my last 2 trips there).

After going to Joe's, I headed to Juicy.  They had a large selection of velour track pants (not a basic for everybody, but definitely for Angelenos!) for $39 each and some T-shirts for $24.  Great prices, but I couldn't find any pants in a color I liked in my size, and though I love the softness of Juicy tees, I just can't get myself to wear T-shirts with any brand names actually written on them (and it seems all Juicy T-shirts have that).  I love their beach dresses, but I couldn't find any of those in my size, either.  So I left empty-handed.

Then I headed to Splendid/Ella Moss (opened 2 weeks ago, I learned from the cashier).  They had plenty of items in all styles, but the discount wasn't as big as I hoped it would be.  The Splendid crew neck T-shirt sells for $48 at their retail store and for $29 at the outlet, a discount of about 40%.  The tank was a better deal.  It sells for $38 at the retail store and for $19 at the outlet, a discount of 50%.  I ended up getting a red tank.  I'm still debating on the crewneck T-shirt and on a 3/4-sleeve T-shirt I saw there, but I'm of the school of thought that believes that if I'm not sure about it, I should walk away.  As part of their Earth Day promotion, they're giving their customers reusable nylon totes, free with purchase.  It's blue and white, in their infamous stripe design with their asterisk logo.  I'm modeling it, along with my new tank and jeans, here:

The shopping experience at outlet malls is a little different from that in a regular one.  I've added a few tips here.  They're mostly common sense type of things, but hopefully, someone can find them useful:

1) Check out the major department stores' outlets first.  They tend to have the most promotions, often with major discounts.  If you have their store credit card, they may send you notices of their sales by email or snail mail postcards.  They may also have special discounts at their outlet stores just for their cardholders. 

2) You may roll your eyes at this tip, but you'd be surprised at how many people just don't think of it.  Try before you buy!  The majority of outlet stores do not allow refunds, and in some stores, ALL sales are totally final (although most allow exchanges within a certain period, like 7 days).  Even if the store allows refunds, you'd have to return at the outlet and not at the retail store.  I don't know if it's because people try to cram in as many stores as possible in one trip to the outlet mall (they're often a long drive from the major cities), so they feel pressed for time.  Or if they're so blinded by the discount they don't want to face the possibility the item won't fit.  But you'll be surprised at how infrequently people actually try on clothes or shoes at outlets, and I see people try on things all the time at the retail stores. 

3) After you try on your items, inspect them carefully.  Outlet malls are no longer dumping grounds for defective or rejected items, but considering that you'll likely not be able to return your items after you buy them, it's a good idea to make sure you're not getting any duds.

4) Outlets are good opportunities to save on classic items, since they never go on sale in the retail stores.  However, if you're looking for a specific color or style or a limited-edition item, you may not find it. 

5) Think twice about buying gifts from outlet stores.  If there's any doubt that your friend/relative/significant other/co-worker wouldn't like the item you're picking out, just remember that it'd be a hassle for him/her/them to exchange it, even with a gift receipt.  There's the drive time to the outlet mall, then there's the (usually) short amount of time allowed between the date of purchase and exchange deadline, then there's the chance he/she/they won't like anything in the store.

So I'd say I had a successful shopping trip.  I got all the items on my list, including the scrubs, groceries, and the items from Target.  Did I stay under budget?  Yup.  With about $13 to spare!

Friday, April 13, 2012

"Vintage" Gucci

Sigh...this blue velvet Gucci blazer! It's from the Fall 2004 collection (picture on the far left is from, the last one designed by Tom Ford. I've had it for nearly 8 years, waiting for its debut. I just couldn't bring myself to put it on and risk getting my sweat or food on it. But I don't have it in my heart to sell it or give it away. I had anticipated its arrival for weeks and even placed an order with my Saks sales associate at that time. When I finally learned of its arrival, I hurried to the store to breathe it in. I bought it on the spot. The price tag was $1990, a bargain compared to a comparable designer runway piece being sold at Saks today. It was a lot of money to me at the time (it still is today). I had no business spending that much money on a month's worth of clothes, let alone on one single piece...but I'm glad I did then (although I wouldn't do it today, even with a salary that's double the size of the the one I had in 2004).
Honestly, Gucci just hasn't been the same since Tom Ford left. I do love their classic handbags, but as far as clothing goes, I just don't think they measure up to the glory days of Tom Ford. Love him or hate him, he created a buzz for the fashion house that will never be matched. I thought of this today, as I was thumbing through my copy of the May 2012 issue of Vanity Fair. In their photo spread of their 2012 Oscar party, I came across the photo on the right. Tom Ford himself is wearing a blue velvet blazer, not too different from the one I own.
What do you think? Is this blazer too precious to wear? Or does it deserve a night out on the town?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Lesson Learned from This Easter Season

I realize that my posts that have nothing to do with fasion don't get much attention, but as this is my blog, I'm gonna go ahead and post my thoughts, anyway.

Today was Easter Sunday, marking the end of a period we Christians call Lent. Lent is known as a time of sacrifice. Many people vow to give up a certain habit or indulgence during that time of year. For me, last year, it was shopping, as it usually is (I nearly went without shopping during the entire Lenten season, but weakness took over me, when I bought the Christian Louboutin jade Jenny shoes). At the beginning of this Lenten season, though, I learned through a wise person that the reason for sacrifice is to make room for something new, something better. That was a new way for me to look at it.

What'd I learn? It's summed up by that slogan from the Chrysler commercial: the things that you do when no one is looking are the things that define you. I hope I got that right. Anyway, I don't like to give away a lot of details about this, but I'll just say someone I'm close to is no longer the person I thought they were when we met. It's not that that person changed. It's that I've recently seen a different side of her. I learned that people can pretend for short amounts of time. Eventually, though, they show who they are. You learn that some people, when they know no one (or no one else) is looking, they're different. It's those people who run when they finally get called out for their behavior. They're too chicken to come face-to-face with who they really are. But if you're true to yourself, you've no need to run. You've no reason to be afraid.