Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Beauty of Jewelry

Do you have one of these hoards?

Just about everyone has a large box, maybe a shoe box or two filled with costume jewelry. I admit that I am no different. I actually have several boxes of costume jewelry. Some of it has tarnished with time. A few pieces are missing their mates, and another group seems just plain dated. This last group makes me wonder about my personal fashion taste. What they all have in common is the ability to create a memory.

When I first got married I didn’t have pierced ears so I owned a lot of clip on earrings. These were handy for Halloween costumes and dress up for my daughter when she was young, before pierced ears. There are gaudy hoops and strange dangles made of material of questionable value. I remember my daughter borrowing a pair for a costume and only one of the hoops came home. At the time I was bummed because I kind of liked those earrings. For some bizarre reason I’ve actually kept the remaining earring. It will forever remind me of her desire to be Jasmine for Halloween.

 A girl's first opportunity to wear jewelry, Halloween!

I guess I’m in a sentimental mood and these little pieces of pot metal and glass bring me back to a time when things were less complicated. It reminds me of the joy of buying a piece of jewelry just for one outfit. It was something that was probably worn once and never again regardless of its sparkle and shine. It brings back a memory of having the perfect outfit, the perfect weight or just when I was happy, even for a fleeting moment.

Jewelry doesn’t always have to be something expensive or rare. It just has to be something that makes the moment perfect in our own eyes. It adds that special something; after all, what would a gypsy be without large gold hoop earrings? So take a moment or two and dig out one of those shoe boxes. You can either purge or hoard, it’s entirely up to you but take a trip down memory lane. That is the true beauty of jewelry.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Wasting a Perfectly Good Outfit

Hey! She's wearing heels!

Fabulous quote of the day “I have an irrational fear of wasting a perfectly good outfit on an insignificant day.” The first time I read it I laughed. The second time I thought, “darn that’s me.” I’ve gotten up in the morning, gotten ready and realized that my outfit was way too good to sit around the house typing at my computer. Due to a good outfit I’ve ended up running errands when I really wanted to stay home.

When I have some place to go and have planned the perfect outfit, this is not a problem. I’ve planned my outfit and have a place to show it off, so everything is good. But what about those days when we really should be wearing sweatpants? I’ve thought long and hard about how to wear a pair of sweatpants and not look like I’m ready to work in the yard or paint a bedroom. So far nothing brilliant has been bestowed upon me.

 Typical ready for the gym sweatpants

If you search the internet you can actually find video tutorials on how to wear sweatpants. There are tips such as, “don’t wear different pieces.” Apparently it is okay to mix and match but if you wear sweatpants, go for the entire outfit. Also, pajama pants are a no-no. They can call your hygiene habits into questions and no one wants to have questionable hygiene. You are also not allowed to wear Crocs or high heels. Tennis shoes are the perfect shoe and last tip; don’t wear them out to lunch or dinner. So I guess wearing them out for a night on the town is out.

So while these tips are helpful, I still don’t feel comfortable leaving the house in a pair of sweatpants, although they are the epitome of comfort at home. I have worn yoga pants with a sweater and tennis shoes out of the house, but that is just to run a quick errand. Like getting milk from the grocery store or picking up a lotto ticket at 7-11. So maybe sweatpants will never be a go to outfit, but at least I won’t have an irrational fear of wasting a perfectly good outfit on an insignificant day!

Some pretty good tips, plus she tells it like it is!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Is Jewelry Sustainable?

I read an interesting article about the sustainability of different fabrics. Apparently cotton is less environmentally friendly than polypropylene. Also linen, when assessed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, doesn’t score as well as leather. Who would have thought it? I was also shocked to learn that bamboo, which grows like a weed, scored very poorly due to all the chemicals required for processing. It appears that those fabrics that I always deemed green aren’t so green.

How does this translate into jewelry? In the article they stated that a Rolex might be the world’s most sustainable product because it is never thrown away. A Rolex watch will be repaired and passed down for generations. The same can be said of quite a bit of jewelry. I have my Grandmother’s pearls and I’m sure that all of my jewelry will be passed onto my daughter. She has already expressed an interest.

Can I have a Rolex watch...it's sustainable!

This makes me wonder about the sustainability of most jewelry. Jewelry is actually quite sustainable if you consider items that are passed down or remodeled. Many people sell their unwanted gold jewelry which is then melted down and fashioned into new jewelry. Sometimes people do this so they can have something that they are more apt to wear. Even if you get the diamond ring in a divorce you might not wear it. Why not remodel it into something stunning and less wedding ring like?

While I’ve never given much thought to all the jewelry I buy and wear, it is nice to think that maybe it is more environmentally friendly than originally considered. I understand that gemstones and diamonds are mined and not always in the most environmentally sustainable manner. Metal is smelted and there are sometimes by products left behind that are nasty. But it is good to think that some jewelry will last a lifetime and then goes on to live another. I hope this arguments works and gets me a Rolex watch!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Jewelry for Men is "In" Style

It doesn't get more alternative than stainless steel and rubber

I listened to an interesting conversation the other day between my husband and the boyfriend of one of my nieces. It wouldn’t be that interesting except it was about their mutual love of watches. My husband was old enough to be this kid’s father so it was interesting to hear them discuss watches with such similarity. Watches have always been the go to jewelry for men. They are status symbols as well as timepieces. Now men are discovering what women have known for years, jewelry is fun.

Due to media influences men are taking greater notice of jewelry. What was not okay to wear in the past is now becoming acceptable. Sports figures and television personalities are wearing jewelry. The obligatory wedding ring and watch are now giving way to dog tags and chunky necklaces. This influence in jewelry styles for men has opened the door for more stylish watches made from alternative metals and materials. The watch my husband was admiring had a tortoise shell band, quite unique.

Black carbon fiber and stainless steel dog tags on a leather cord

If you walk around a jewelry store you notice that more cases are being devoted to jewelry for men. This is not the standard watch and fine writing instrument cases, but actual jewelry. Necklaces and leather bracelets, alternative metal rings designed and made specifically for men. I recently had a wedding band made for a client. Instead of the standard gold band he wanted titanium with a gold inlay. The brushed metal exterior and contrasting metals are definitely nontraditional.

This is probably what men are looking for, a stylish alternative. Not that the traditional jewelry elements for men are not wonderful. It’s just that men today are seeking something that sets them apart from the ordinary. Watches with creative finishes and metals are popular, as well as alternative metal jewelry. So guys feel free to explore jewelry. It makes a bold statement!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Technology Illiterate

So easy a child could do it!

I will readily admit that when it comes to technology I am way behind the curve. My hubby likes to think that I can learn it but it just doesn’t sink in, and stay. When I have a problem with the internet my solution is to turn off the modem, wait 10 seconds then turn it back on. Not the stuff technology legends are made of. It’s kind of like kicking the washing machine or smacking the TV when it doesn’t work.

In today’s internet connected society it is virtually impossible to exist without learning some technology. You cannot hold down a job without email. You better know Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook or some other equivalent. It is the same with iPhones or other smartphones. It is a technology that we cannot live without and it is important to be knowledgeable. Yet there are people who do not have texting or internet capabilities on their phone. I had a friend who referred to her phone as a “dumb phone.”

At the recent JCK in Las Vegas they had Wi-Fi throughout the convention center. This was awesome partly due to the “map” App. While you can carry around a large folding map, there is an App that lets you keep track of where you want to go and the booth location. Additionally, many of the sellers at the show provided QR codes and used the QR code on your badge to quickly access information on your business. This is much quicker than asking someone to fill out an information card or taking a business card that requires sorting at a later date. Technology has advanced in leaps and bounds. The internet is an astounding place but smartphones are a close competitor.

Today’s smartphones can do so many things. They can send a text message, keep track of your calendar, keep contact information, and check your email, the weather and your Facebook page. The average smartphone has a GPS so you never get lost. It is amazing that twenty years ago when you logged onto the internet to collect email (remember AOL) you could go get a cup of coffee while it loaded. Now you can buy a wool scarf from a shop in Scotland or spices from India and have it sent to your home. Retail is the reason I love the internet and why I have bothered to learn technology, said the shopaholic.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The World's Thinnest iPhone Wallet

Every now and then I come across a gadget or doodad that is intriguing. While usually this item or piece of information is associated with jewelry or fashion, occasionally it has nothing to do with jewelry. My hubby found a new iPhone wallet. He is really a minimalist when it comes to leaving the house. When iPods first came out he would bring it everywhere along with his wallet, cell phone, day planner and other paraphernalia. Since the advent of the iPhone he has been paring down.

He no longer has to bring a cell phone, iPod and written schedule with him. The iPhone has all those things right on it. This has probably allowed a lot of people to reduce the number of gadgets that they throw in their purses, pockets or briefcases everyday. Now they make a wallet that is an iPhone case. This was the last little piece of his minimalist puzzle. He now can leave the house with just an iPhone and his car keys.

The iLid case is a typical iPhone case except it has a small compartment on the back that can hold two credit cards and a photo ID. There is also a clip so you can fold up some money and slide it in. While my hubby doesn’t use this feature it has a slot for a house key. This is probably handy for anyone who runs and uses their iPhone to listen to music. My daughter saw the iLid and wanted one for clubbing. It holds her ID and some money for drinks and she doesn’t have to worry about carrying around a purse.

Now personally I think it’s a pretty cool iPhone case. If allows you to have a couple of important things handy without carrying around a lot of other stuff. Perfect for running to the grocery store or post office. This case works perfect for my hubby but it wouldn’t work without me (see how I like to take the credit). Let’s face it, if he needs an aspirin, hand sanitizer or a pen he turns to me and my magic designer handbag. While he maybe paring down I don’t think I ever will. After all, where will he put his occasionally used stuff? I love being useful!

Monday, July 23, 2012

I Can't Live a Vegan Lifestyle...Sorry

I give a thumb up for anyone who can live a vegan lifestyle. It sounds really hard. You can’t eat or use anything made from animals or their by-products. This means no honey, dairy or clothing made from animals. While bees make honey, apparently an insect is a living creature and you can’t eat yummy honey. Many vegans eat according to this plan due to moral reasoning. Some do it for health reasons. Eating vegan is supposed to help you lose weight and reduce intestinal bloating. While these are all laudable reasons for a vegan lifestyle I probably couldn’t do it.

I unfortunately love shoes, and in particular leather shoes. I also love leather handbags. I recently found out that a vegan doesn’t wear pearls. This makes sense since pearls are found inside of an oyster. A pearl is the natural result of the oyster’s defenses against an internal irritant. I will readily admit that when it comes to being vegan I would be a bad person. I actually own many leather shoes, handbags and even a couple of fur coats, although they’re vintage fur coats. What's more, no more cashmere sweaters or wool scarves.

A summertime favorite, not if your a vegan

I also admit to eating marshmallows. Apparently some companies that make marshmallows use gelatin in the manufacturing of their marshmallows. I didn’t know this until I read a blip about the vegan diet. Not eating meat such as vegetarian do would be hard enough, but to truly eat vegan takes a lot of willpower. No more Greek yogurt with honey, one of my favorite foods. Moreover, with no more marshmallows you can count smores out of the picture. That would be a bummer around the campfire.

I guess I’m too much of a slave to fashion, although I never saw my self this way. I want to look good and have nice clothes and jewelry and this sometimes requires wearing leather or pearls or both together. Not to mention some of my pearls were a gift after my Grandmother passed. I would never give those away because of the sentimental value, vegan lifestyle or not. Like I said, I would make a bad vegan so thank goodness I’m not trying.

Friday, July 20, 2012

And I Thought I was Bad

A novel by Barbara Taylor Bradford

Everyone has something that they just love. When it goes on sale they can’t resist the purchase. Sometimes it becomes a collection, other times it’s just something we love. Anyway you slice it, it borders on obsession when you plan world travel around a shopping expedition. Yes there are people who have fashion collections that require world travel or at least travel outside their immediate area.

There was an article featuring the Hermes handbag obsession of author Barbara Taylor Bradford. She has 24 Hermes handbags in her collection but is still trying to acquire the illusive Birkin. She has been told there are none available and if she is interested she can put her name on the “list.” Anyone who watched the episode where Samantha name drops to get a Birkin knows about the “list.” The Bradfords have declined this option. They feel it is shallow to place ones name on a list for a handbag.

 The missing bag from the collection

While I agree there are better list to have your name on than a handbag list, the article appeared to be a little self serving. It seems that the Bradfords have been able to purchase all 24 Hermes handbags by simply walking into the boutique and purchasing. So why can't they get a Birkin?  Mrs. Bradford's collection has been amassed over a 48 year period. Mr. Bradford professes to be a good customer and with purchasing his wife 24 handbags I can concur. It will be interesting to see if Hermes succumbs to this media blackmail. “A Birkin which Mrs. Bradford has been unable to obtain” reads the caption under a picture of the illusive bag.

While I have many obsessions I have never stooped to a media article to get what I want from a retailer. I usually reserve articles to get what I want out of my hubby. Since The Wall Street Journal is a huge publication it will be interesting to see if Mrs. Barbara Taylor Bradford gets her Birkin. I’m sure the media attention will either endear her to Hermes or make a permanent enemy. We’ll have to wait and see how powerful Hermes really is. On the other hand, the article may serve the exclusivity aspect of the Birkin handbag. After all, if a well know author and avid customer can’t get one how will the rest of us fare?
Barbara Taylor Bradford and generous hubby Robert

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Alternative Metal Stacking Bracelets

Start with a stainless steel cuff bangle

Stacking bracelets are a really hot trend and don’t seem to be cooling anytime soon. The bare armed look this summer also lends itself well to this trend. What looks better than an arm full of bracelets and a sleeveless top? Since this jewelry fashion look requires quite a few bracelets to give a full stacked look, it can get expensive when purchasing gold or silver. Alternative metals can be the way to go if you want this wear this fashion trend without breaking the bank.

One of the great advantages, expense wise, of purchasing alternative metals for the stacking bracelet look is how much money you will save. But did you know there are other advantages? Alternative metals such as surgical stainless steel and titanium are hard metals and when wearing stacked bracelets they will rub against each other. The harder the metal the less it will scratch and chip. Also, by mixing the metals you create depth and color.

Add a thin rose gold plated bangle for color and texture

To create a fabulous stack of bracelets start with metal. Find different width or etched designs for interest. Once you have some really awesome metal bracelets you might want to add color. Color can either be subtle or match an outfit. You can also use color to make your stack of bracelets pop, be creative. Once you have a good mix you can add leather or cloth to soften. Cloth can be added to create interest and color. Leather gives your stack of bracelets an edge.

Anyway you stack it you will love it. To use an interior designer trick, your random stack of bracelets should be an uneven number. So try this hot fashion trend for the summer and dress up anything you wear. Personally I love the chunky bracelet look and am going to look for some in alternative metals. Why not take advantage of a hot fashion trend that is both good looking and affordable?

A braided leather bracelet is interesting

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What Happened to my Sunshine?

Awesome leather tote bag, I highly recommend you get one

The past week or two has been absolutely crazy. I would not repeat it again if someone paid me real money. I’ve had to travel a lot, mostly back and forth kind of travel and I really didn’t like it. It was a lot of work and very little reward. The worst part of all this traveling about was the micro-climate aspect. I would travel from one place where the weather was mild to another place where the weather was oppressively hot. Problem, what to wear?

When I came home yesterday from another long day away I had to quickly change because the weather was 30 degrees cooler than from where I came. This is quite a change and I unfortunately didn’t layer. I know that everyone says to dress in layers when you do a lot of traveling. The concept is to remove or add layers as the day gets hotter or cooler. While a really great idea, I find that toting around those extra pieces of clothing can be a little difficult. Even with an awesome tote bag. What to do?

Dress in layers or put on some pants to change a look and stay warm

In my case I came home so I could just change. For those who travel from one region to another and don’t have access to their entire wardrobe, you will have to bring some clothing along. If you have your car, there is always the trunk. This is probably why my daughter has so many clothes in her in car. I’ve found that I always carry an umbrella in my trunk and sometimes a light jacket. I always make sure I have a jacket and a scarf. For this trip I loaded up a tote bag with a pair of shoes, a jacket and scarf, just in case. You never know when you might want to change shoes.

Traveling is like being a girl scout, you have to be prepared. I have a very large leather tote, almost like an overnighter that I pack for day trips. I put whatever I need or might need and bring it along. I stash it in the trunk of my car, and then I’m prepared. Sometimes I actually pack another outfit. You never know when inspiration will hit. Summer isn’t always sunny and bright, especially in the Bay Area. Today I woke to overcast and 57 degrees, I rest my case.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Do Your Shoes Pinch?

Naturalizer-Lennox $79 and comfortable

How many of us have purchased a new pair of shoes only to find them unbearable once we get them home? Now I’m not talking about style, I’m talking about that dreaded new shoe feel. Unless it’s a pair of tennis shoes or flip flops, all of my shoes have required a breaking in period. This is particularly true of dress shoes, those made of leather. What is interesting is this is not new news. No matter the cost, new shoes are uncomfortable right out of the box. The interesting part is many shoe manufacturers are trying to work this part out.

Shoe manufacturers have a lot to lose if a shoe doesn’t fit well. If you buy a great looking shoe but find you can’t walk in it or it never breaks in, you might not purchase that brand again. On the other hand, if a pair of shoes looks great and feels great, it will become your go to brand forever. For just these reasons manufacturers are adding comfortable material to their shoes. Think memory foam and cushioned linings. Manufacturers are also paying more attention to construction and where stitching and seams will land on the foot. All this in an effort to make shoes more comfortable for consumers.

 Chinese Laundry-Whistle $55.99, the 5" heel makes comfort questionable

While manufacturers are trying to make shoes more comfortable, consumers can also shop smart. When buying shoes it is important to remember to shop at the right time. Your feet swell over the course of the day. Buying shoes in the morning when feet are at their smallest may produce a shoe that can’t be worn at night. Always shop for shoes in the afternoon, around 3pm is ideal. Also know your size. Our feet change over the years and what was once the perfect size may not work anymore. Also different manufacturers size their shoes slightly different. You might have to try on two or three different sizes to see which fits best.

It is also important to “play” with the shoe. Hold it in your hand, bend the sole and test how flexible it is. Shoes that are stiff and unbending will probably take a lot of breaking in and may never fit well. Thinner more expensive leathers will break in easier. The more supple the material, the softer the shoe, and the more quickly it will conform to your foot. Comfort is important when buying a shoe; if it doesn’t fit it will probably sit in its box forever. Shoes that don’t fit give a whole new meaning to the term “killer heels.”

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cheapest isn't always the Best Buy

This is usually how I wear a black blazer

I had a strange conversation the other day. I was discussing jewelry with someone who was a friend of a friend of a friend, it was a group event. She commented on my jewelry and when I mentioned that I sell jewelry and make custom pieces she came back with “Oh I have so much ‘real’ jewelry I don’t need to purchase costume.” The thing was I was wearing real jewelry, just custom pieces. This got me to thinking, are you wasting money if you can’t tell the difference between real jewelry and costume?

Many people who don’t care can save a fortune by buying jewelry that they love without any concern for price or quality. Unfortunately not everyone can distinguish good quality from bad quality. In fact, 56% of consumers don’t know how to spot a product that is well made. This is how outlet stores stay in business. They claim to offer the same designer merchandise as the department stores but at a lower price. The trouble is these lower priced products are “engineered for value.” This is a polite way to say they cut a corner.

Another cute way to wear the black blazer

The garment or product may have a designer name but it has been specifically manufactured in a cheaper manner in order to reduce the cost. The material is not the same, the stitching is usually of poor quality and it won’t have the durability of its higher priced cousin. While it may seem like a good idea to purchase by price, it’s not a good idea to purchase the same product over and over again. Sometimes it behooves us to spend a little more money initially in order to save money over the life of the product. This is particularly true when dealing with basic wardrobe pieces or accessories.

While it’s a good idea to spend a little more on a black blazer, it might not be such a good idea to spend a fortune on a scarf. Items that are trendy may need further consideration before you plunk down a hunk of dough. When purchasing a basic try and spend as much as possible and really examine the quality and material. Are stitches straight, is the leather supple and will this style stand the test of time? Finding out how to spot quality is important and everyone should invest a little time in learning. It’s a valuable skill that helps you live better on less.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Leopard Print Flat

The picture that started it all, love those shoes

I saw a picture of Julia Roberts the other day. She was walking through an airport wearing jeans, a cardigan sweater, cotton scarf and some awesome leopard print flats. I couldn't believe how cute this outfit looked. It was so cute that I immediately went to zappos.com to look for a similar shoe.

There were quite a few flats available in an animal print. I have to say that there were some faux snake skin print that looked really cute. What was so amazing about these animal print flats was how they dressed up an outfit. Simple denim jeans became something special. They still had their casual appeal but I could see these shoes working with a black dress.

 These might fit the bill

I have a flattering wrap dress in a couple of different colors and these shoes will probably work for all of them. A cardigan sweater or linen blazer is a good cover up if the weather should turn chilly. Its a great shoe because its comfortable and it adds a little interest to any outfit. You can also add a leopard print scarf to keep the theme running. But be careful of adding to many animal prints, you dont want to look like a zoo.

So I will wait patiently, or not so patiently for my shoes to arrive. They have overnight shipping for shoeaholics like me. I guess Ive bought a lot of shoes from Zappos. Im already planning my outfits for this shoe. Ive got some great black leggings or maybe a brown jersey dress. Ive also got some black silk pants that would look great. Tomorrow will be a highly anticipated delivery day.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

More Synthetic Diamonds Found

A dream come true if they're real

Looks like another batch of undisclosed synthetic diamonds were submitted to GIA. These diamonds were submitted to a lab in Hong Kong and appear to be similar to the synthetics that were discovered a few months ago. This batch appears to be of the same quality as those manufactured by Gemesis. The synthetics are rumored to be from the same company based in New York.

This is bad news for the diamond industry. While GIA is able to find and identify the synthetic diamonds that are being submitted to their lab for grading, it is causing a problem with reputation. It’s not that synthetic gemstones or diamonds are a problem; it’s a problem when they are not disclosed prior to grading, and what about the one that aren't graded? This recent influx of synthetic diamonds to GIA has me thinking that something is going on, and it’s not good.

An unusual use of diamonds

July and August are typically slow periods in the jewelry industry. We spend more time working on advertising, our websites and getting inventory and product together. Many jewelers are sending diamonds to the lab for grading. This is probably why so many synthetics hit GIA at once. The summer months are used for preparation for the coming holiday season. The holidays are the busiest time of year for jewelers and everyone has to have their "stuff" together.

What will be interesting to see if how the jewelry industry handles this problem with undisclosed synthetic diamonds. Will an investigation into whom or why so many synthetics are being submitted ever take place? Can the powers that be ever get to the bottom of this mini scandal and can any fears that crop up in the consumer sector be quelled? These are all valid questions and concerns. With the biggest time of the year for jewelers’ right around the corner I hope that this doesn’t get worse. Not sure how it will end.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Target and Neiman Marcus

Missoni came and went a little too quickly

Target is famous for working with designers and creating affordable and sensational combinations. The recent Missoni collaboration showed the public that designer fashion at affordable pricing is desired by everyone. The newest designer collaboration will be jewelry so of course I am very interested.

The entire designer list has not actually been announced but according to information this will be a huge group effort for the holiday season. Word has it that it will be a 50 item collection and the prices range from $8 to $500. While Neiman Marcus doesn’t necessarily need Target, it could open the door for some younger and budget minded shoppers to discover Neiman Marcus. Neiman Marcus already has a reputation for luxury goods in a spectacular setting. By teaming up with Target they introduce themselves to “Cheap Chic.”

 Loved the outfit in the middle, couldn't find it at all

Many are waiting somewhat impatiently for these pieces that won’t be available till December 1st. On the plus side there will be a preview of the pieces on October 16th. Target is also vowing after its Missoni debacle to limit the number of items each shopper could purchase. For those that don’t remember, on the first day that Missoni was available shoppers ran to grab as much designer wear as possible. Stuffing shopping carts and buying entire racks, quickly cleaning out all available stock. Many of the items ended up on EBay within hours at much higher prices.

Target is also improving its website in anticipation of huge demand. The website was also a problem when Missoni hit the store; it crashed, froze or simply got orders wrong. I’m hopeful that Target gets these problems resolved and that when the items go up for sale I might be able to purchase something. It should be interesting to see what Target and Neiman Marcus come up with, until then we will just have to wait.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Fashion for the Other Half

Explain how this t-shirt is worth $90?

Now when I say fashion for the other half I don’t mean our husbands. I mean for that other half that actually has a budget. Gywneth Paltrow recently blogged about her “under $100” white t-shirt on Goop.com and how awesome and updated this t-shirt is. The t-shirt cost $90 so it technically was under $100, but do you know how many white t-shirts I can buy at Target for that $90? She also put together essential pieces for a wardrobe that totaled $20,000. Good for Gywneth that she can spend $20,000 on basic clothing.

The rest of us aren’t trust fund babies so we need to look for good deals. This brings us back to the white t-shirt. Truthfully you can get some really nice t-shirts at LL Bean and Target, also don’t forget Old Navy or H & M. A white t-shirt is a summer essential and I usually have two or three. The problem with a white t-shirt is after a summer of fun it isn’t so white anymore. This brings me to an elephant in the room, why spend $90 on a t-shirt that will probably end the summer with a mustard stain?

 The Row Alligator Backpack $34,000, really?

With fashion it is important to try and stay current but to also honor your own personal style. While skinny jeans maybe trending right now, they may not be a style for everyone so it’s okay to skip it. Several years ago t-shirts began getting shorter. I know this because I was past the age of getting taller and every white t-shirt I bought seemed to fall right in my danger zone. That spot that emphasized a figure flaw that no woman wants to show off. Now that t-shirts are clingy, they also seem to be getting longer. Fashions come and fashions go so why spend $90 on a t-shirt?

What is important is finding fashion that you love, that still looks trendy and makes you feel great. It doesn’t matter if the t-shirt cost $100 or $10 as long as it works for you. That’s the wonderful thing about fashion; it’s the variety that matters. So instead of listening to someone with an unlimited bank account tell us what a fabulous buy is, listen to your self. You probably know a lot more about what makes you look good and feel good than you think and you'll save a fortune.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Picture This!

I confess that I shop a lot online. It’s a fun place to browse and who doesn’t like to fill an imaginary shopping cart without having to get dirty looks from clerks when you don’t buy or put everything back? Part of the fun is looking. Pictures can make or break a product in my opinion. I haven’t found my limits on the number of pictures of a particular product yet. To me, the more the merrier. This is why I am a little disappointed in my own website, not enough pictures.

When you post something to EBay they generally allow an unlimited number of pictures and this makes browsing fun. A website has its limits and things can run really slow if you put up tons of pictures of one item. There is a way around these limitations, video. If you make a short video of your product you can share it with the world. Now it’s not fun or easy to make these videos but the work is well worth it.

Professional photographers and videographers will try and convince you that you need their services. They will have spectacular lighting and get some announcer with a British accent to narrate your video. They will have dramatic intros and detailed explanations of the product. While this is all fine and good, a short blip that is less than two minutes might work really well. Zappos.com has been making video descriptions of its shoes with ordinary people for years. The videos are natural and informative. No grand productions, simple and easy.

Always keep things simple, no fancy backgrounds or models needed. Try and show all angles of the product. You can also rerecord the description of the product if you don’t show yourself talking. Remember, the product is the star not you. So I will be pushing for some videos of my products since I shouldn’t be putting more photos on the website. Don’t want to slow things down. Besides who doesn’t like to watch a video description of a product instead of reading about it? A video is so much more informative.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Shopping Online

Please get it fixed!

Just about everyone shops online, even my mother in law who is a professed computer phobic. Shopping online allows you to compare pricing and products from everywhere. Many times I’m looking for something that is a little odd or can’t be found in local stores, I usually find it online. It’s almost as if online stores carry what brick and mortar stores don’t or won’t. Another nice aspect of shopping online is the lack of sales representatives; this is low pressure shopping at its finest.

Some stores are turning to low pressure sales as a method of attracting customers. Once all cosmetic counters in department stores kept their products behind the counter and if you wanted to know a product’s attributes, price or get a sample you had to ask a white coated sales rep for assistance. Not so much anymore. The internet has shown that people like to shop uninhibited without someone hanging over their shoulder. This is particularly true of men.

 A busy mall can be a turn off

Men aren’t known for big shopping trips. They have a tendency to go into a store, pick out a pair of whatevers, try them on, pay for them and leave. They don’t browse a whole lot. On the other hand, men seem to browse more online. This could be attributed to the atmosphere online, no one trying to sell them something. In today’s economy people have less disposable income. They know what they need to buy, what they would like to buy and what they wish they could buy. No one needs to be standing next to them letting them know what is available and at what price. Every shopping experience doesn’t have to be like visiting a used car lot.

The main purpose of a sales representative is to help the client understand the product. What are the benefits of purchasing this particular product over another? The consumer of today is better informed or experienced in which products they like and which ones they will not purchase again. Personally I like the freedom of being able to ask a question if I like, and to be left entirely alone to shop if I want. Sometimes I just like to go to a store and browse undisturbed, it’s my form of relaxation therapy. Maybe that’s why I shop online a lot.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July

Today is the fourth of July and it is a day for relaxation. I’m going to avoid anything that looks like work in any form, although I probably give the yard furniture a good dusting. I don’t want to get dirty while I sit around sipping a drink or two. Today is typically a day for barbeques and pool parties. Everyone does a whole lot of nothing. Since I live in one of those cities that allow fireworks, I will be treated to a huge show courtesy of my neighbors. So take it easy, get some sun and don’t forget its back to work tomorrow. Probably the best hump day in quite awhile. Have a happy and sane fourth of July and don't forget to wear some rubies, diamonds and blue topaz in honor of this special day!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fakes, Frauds and Counterfeits

China is still the number one country for counterfeit and pirated goods. Most everyone is familiar with counterfeit goods. These are knock offs meant to look like the real thing but for a fraction of the price. Some of the most well known and popular counterfeit goods include footwear, handbags, apparel, watches and jewelry. Counterfeiting is 7% of the global trade and has a street value of $260 million as of 2009.  No wonder counterfeiters are expanding into rare coins.

The Profession Coin Grading Service or PCGS is warning of Chinese made counterfeit rare coins. Apparently these counterfeits have increased in quantity and quality. It is getting hard to tell the real graded coin from the fake graded coin. This is particularly troubling since a graded coin is usually a mark of value. While counterfeit coins coming out of China are not new, what is new is the counterfeiting of the grading service holder.

Counterfeiting is a serious problem and US Customs is facing real barriers to stopping the flow of counterfeit goods from China. The Chinese government has encouraged this entire industry by allowing factories to operate out in the open. The government is not stepping in to stop these activities and by ignoring counterfeiting it is the same as endorsing it. Plus, once a counterfeit enters the country it is much more difficult to track, arrest and prosecute individuals instrumental in manufacturing counterfeit goods.

A delegation of professional numismatists and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary is introducing legislation (H.R. 5977) to strengthen the Hobby Protection Act of 1973. By adding clear language that specially targets those who ‘provide substantial assistance or support to any manufacturer, importer, or seller of counterfeit items’ Congress is hoping to stem the flow of counterfeit goods into the US or at least make it easier to prosecute those who engage in counterfeiting. Let’s hope that it works.

Monday, July 2, 2012

How to Wear Colored Jeans

Notice the abundance of neutrals

A hot fashion trend this summer is colored jeans. These jeans come in a rainbow of colors, from pink to red to neon green. They come in just about any color you can image. I resisted for about a week then I bought some really cute pink jeans. I thought they would look awesome with a blush colored tank top I already owned, a denim jacket and burgundy scarf. In my mind’s eye it was a cool outfit. When I went out into the summer sun my husband commented on how “pink” I was looking. I wasn’t going for the totally pink aura look.

Colored jeans can be a little tricky. If you’re the adventurous type you probably can get away with anything. I’ve found that I have to temper my bright shocks of color with some serious neutrals. If the day is warm and the coastal fog burns off early, I like to wear my pink jeans with white. It’s cool and crisp, yet fun. White Keds, white tank top and maybe that denim jacket if it’s chilly. For those overcast fog bound days, I think the classic pink with black works. I’ve also noticed that colored jeans look really good with denim. So if you have a denim shirt, now is the time to wear it.

White or black looks great with bright jeans

I’m past the age were I can get away with wearing a pair of matching Chuck Converse tennis shoes with my colored jeans. It looks a little hokey on me. I can however get away with Keds, the lines of these tennis shoes are simpler, less busy and still classic. Leather loafers are also a great shoe. Colored jeans work best when they’re worn in a casual outfit so ballet flats or loafers work great. Think bright turquoise jeans, black tank and cardigan with a pair of black loafers. You can be bright, casual, age appropriate and fashionable all in a pair of colored jeans.

Accessories can also be tricky with colored jeans. The jeans themselves are already screaming “look at me.” By pairing them with brightly colored accessories you just might be asking for it. I stick with silver or white gold rings. A diamond or two doesn’t hurt, but don’t wear too many rings, you don’t want to look cluttered. I also keep earrings simple, studs are good. I usually go a little nuts with bracelets. If I’m wearing cool colors I stick to my white and black beaded charm bracelet. If I’m wearing warm colors, I go with the browns and gold beads. The trick is to let the colored jeans be the center of attention while keeping everything else subtle. Kind of like a bride and her bridesmaids.