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Archive for June, 2014

Let me just say this disclaimer up front – there have already been hundreds of articles about the fact that the spending habits on Sex and the City aren’t realistic, and this is not one of those articles. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way…

 

What are we actually paying for??

 

K and I were talking the other day about how we’re getting to a place in life where we like the finer things, but we’re not willing to pay full price for them, especially since we see things ridiculously discounted all. the. time. And I commented that I had well over 100 pairs of shoes, and I had not paid anywhere near the $40,000 that Carrie Bradshaw had paid for her shoe collection. (Remember – when she was trying to get the down-payment money to buy her condo after she and Aiden broke up for the gazillionth time, and Miranda asked her how many shoes she had, she said 100 [I’m paraphrasing] and Miranda said “100 shoes at $400 each – there’s your down-payment.”) Here’s the thing though – I was recently looking at fancy shoes, because I am kinda-sorta getting to a point where I could conceivably purchase a pair of shoes for $400, and you know what??? Manolo Blahnik shoes (which, I think we can all agree, is the vast majority of Carrie’s shoe collection) are no longer in the $400 price range! In fact, this pair, which I am reasonably sure is the pair that was stolen at the baby shower and which Carrie said cost $600, is now $755. The most basic black, pointy-toed pump that I could find on Nordstrom’s site was this one,  which is $595. So, in the years since SaTC was the big thing, these shoe prices have gone up about $150 – $200, which, at least for the “cheap” pair, was an increase of 50% (K, check my math).

Which begs the question – what the heck are we paying for?? Sure, I get supply and demand, and I understand that the show made these shoes much more popular, but still! The shoes were already $400/pair, which is not in the range of “average” people (considering that the national average on salaries in around $47,000/year).  What has happened to make the price jump so dramatically?? Is there a shortage of Italian shoe-makers? Have the special cows whose skin we use for these shoes gone on strike until they get better food??

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that certain luxury items cost more for a variety of reasons. An Hermes purse will always cost more than a Coach purse because the former is hand-stitched, usually has higher quality materials and standards, and is produced in smaller numbers. I also get that it is a status symbol. Not every college co-ed is running around with a Birkin on her arm. (Side note – I’ll be honest, I feel the same way about Hermes as Holly Golightly felt about diamonds in Breakfast at Tiffany’s – “They look divine on older women, but I just don’t feel they’re right for me.”) However, remember when the Murakami Prada purses came out? It seemed that every single girl I passed on the way to Chem 101 was rocking one. There’s no way that all of those girls could afford one, nor, with the limited number which were available, do I think that every purse which was produced somehow ended up on the Texas State campus. I am all for luxury items which only the few and far between can afford. But when items which were once supposed to be achievable to the modern woman (or man, if you’re into that kind of thing) become out of reach for no fathomable reason other than that the maker saw a way to make more money, I get more than a little pissed.

On the Nordstrom site, there is a pair of lime green Manolos, on sale from $595 to $227.59. Now, you know that the maker is still making a profit off of these shoes, even on sale, so what was the extra $365.41 for?? Vanity?? I understand that in a free-market society, you can set your price wherever you want, and as long as people will pay it, you’re fine. I realize that we’ve always paid a premium for “the label,” but what exactly has that label gotten us in return? The sidewalk grate that scrape the heels on my Nine West finds are going to do the same to your Jimmy Choos, and rain does not care if you’re wearing leather or suede before it starts pouring down. I am constantly hearing stories about luxury makers complaining that their designs are being ripped off by other companies and sold for considerably cheaper. Legitimate question – would that still be happening on such a large scale if luxury makers charged a bit less? Is it better to sell 10 pairs of shoes at $600, or 100 pairs of shoes at $400?

 

– S

 

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S here, coming at you after a lllooooooonnnggg quiet spell! Sorry for the absence, but I’ve been busy starting a new job, buying condo, laughing, loving, you know – as you do! But K was kind enough to allow me back in with some fashion musings, so I hope you will indulge me a bit 🙂

I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sound at all familiar? Perhaps a tiny flashback to this morning?? For someone who has as large and varied a closet as I do, I say this phrase all to often. Lately, I’ve been working to really refine my style (I’m feeling like I’m very Classic Urban – K, back me up here!) and in so doing, I’ve been trying to make my closet reflect that. Of course, we all have items that maybe don’t exactly mesh with who we are, but they’re just so darn perfect that we can’t let them go. I’m not talking about those pieces. I’m talking about the pieces that you can’t live without. If you could whittle your wardrobe down to those pieces that are most important  to you, what would they be? And wouldn’t it be easier to get dressed in the morning? You would no longer have this jumble of stuff in your face!

Now, let’s not get crazy. I’m not saying you need to slim down to a five-piece wardrobe – I really don’t understand people who do that. But if your closet is a mix of “Summer in Athens/Boardroom Power-suit/Backyard Barbecue/Clubbin’ til 4/Lazy Day Sweats” you can see how pulling together a cohesive look day after day could be difficult. If you’re one of those people who can pretty much wear the same outfit to work as you could on the weekend, then you are luckier than most, and you could probably pare down your wardrobe even more than the rest. But for me, considering that I work in a very conservative place (read: NO JEANS EVER!) and I like to chill on the weekends, my wardrobe can seem as if there is a bit of a split personality. That’s all well and good, as long as I can keep those two moods separate. So, let’s look at what I cannot ever, possibly live without, and work form there.

1. The Perfect Black Skirt

I have been going through a metaphysical crisis lately because I (stupidly) got rid of my work-horse black skirt, thinking that it would be easy to replace. I have since purchased 6 different black skirts, and returned 2 of them, trying to find the replacement, and no luck – even the ones I kept are poor seconds. For me, I like a thick material, high-waist pencil shape, which goes to just below my knees. I can wear this style of skirt with blouses, t-shirts, tanks, you name it. Also, if I have one which is free from extras (stripes, lace, polka dots) I can wear it 3-4 times in a week, and no one calls me out on it. I truly feel like a black pencil skirt is the most versatile thing you can own. You can literally wear it from a major meeting to cocktails to the movies and then to grab breakfast tacos in the morning. It’s more professional than a maxi or a mini, but not as stiff as a suit. Next time I find the perfect one, I’m buying three of them, in varying sizes, so that I’m never without one again.

2. Longer T-Shirts

I have a long torso, so most t-shirts look perilously close to crop tops for me (and that is not a look I am into AT ALL). I prefer my tees to hit right at my hip bone – long enough to cover every last inch of skin, short enough to frame my ample behind. I pretty much always purchase black and grey, and I’ll throw in a blue or green to round it out. I appreciate white t-shirts very much, but I hate having to layer something underneath so that my bra isn’t showing, so unless it’s a baggy Hanes undershirt, I steer clear. I also prefer V-neck or crew-neck – I feel like scoop-neck shirts are just too wide, but again, to each their own. And I’ll admit – for ages, I’ve been into the whole 3/4-sleeve t-shirt thing, but lately I’m questioning how that looks. I just feel like it makes me look disproportionate somehow. Further experimentation there is required.

 3. Black V-neck Sweater

This is the most versatile piece you can own. With jeans and black shoes, it can take you to either brunch or dinner, with a black skirt it can take you from work to cocktails. Throw it on over black pants and you’re professional, and it will add warmth on the beach with a pair of shorts. I’ve never been a big fan of cashmere – it always feels itchy to me. I usually go for a nice cotton/silk/Merino wool mixture and keep it simple. I like it too when the sleeves are extra long – I like them to reach all the way to my knuckles. I find that this just makes it more comforting. You can go for your big, baggy sweatshirts all you want, but for me, timeless comfort is a black sweater.

4. Jeans (in some form)

Here’s why I’m not specific on this one – I realize that everyone has a different shape, and different assets which they wish to emphasize, and between the different washes, lengths, cuts, etc. out there, there’s no way I could say “dark wash skinny jeans” are the perfect pair for everyone. For me and my body, I have never found a pair that works as well as the Long and Leans from Gap (bring them back to the stores, you meanies!!!!!). Yes, they’re usually a bit too long for me, but once I hem them, they fit every curve perfectly, make me look tall and skinny, and are perfect for every occasion. I know they’re available on the website, but I’m a bit weary of ordering clothes from the site. But with your favorite pair of jeans, you can’t go wrong. If you’re lucky enough to be able to wear jeans to work, top ’em with a blouse and blazer, and you’re good. They pair perfectly with a tank on summer evenings, sweaters during the winter and jerseys once football season comes back.

5. THAT Dress

I’ll be honest, to a certain extent, I am still looking for THAT dress. THAT dress is defined as the dress you can wear anywhere for pretty much any occasion, and it works. It can be a little black dress, it can be a longer pencil dress in floral, it can be a cocktail dress in peacock blue. It’s that one dress that when you get the invite, and you’re not sure what the dress code means, you know this dress will work. It’s not so formal to be black-tie, and it’s not so casual to be Coachella, but for all of the situations in between, you know you’re wearing a stunner that is perfectly you.

6. Baggy Blouses

Not “baggy and I look homeless or like Mary Kate/Ashley Olsen,” but baggy like, “when I tuck this in, it gives my body a very nice shape.” I have about 3 or 4 of these in varying colors. One note – you MUST tuck these in or belt them. If you leave them hanging out, you can look like you don’t know what size you really wear. Again, being long-waisted, I find that these work with my pencil skirt to give my waist more definition, and if my skirt doesn’t have a high enough waist, I wear them untucked with a belt to tighten them up a bit. The nice thing about these is that you can eat a good-sized lunch and not worry that you’ll have a food baby showing. They hide all manner of sins.

I’m not going to get into accessories, because then we would be here all day. I would never narrow my shoe collection, I think everyone needs a signature piece of jewelry, and outerwear and swimsuits gets too complicated depending on where you live. I don’t set as much store in a perfect white button down as some people – I think they can look great when you first get them, but they get dirty very quickly, and I strongly dislike how sheer they’ve become over the past few seasons. If I wanted to wear multiple layers, I wouldn’t top it all off with a sheer shirt! I also think cardigans are more personal than universal – some people can really rock them and others (me), not so much.

I realize this was an incredibly long post, but I just missed you guys so much!!!! I’ll keep it shorter next time around!

– S

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