Thursday, February 28, 2013

Are Designer Fashions Worth the Money?

A gently used Hermes Barenia $18,500

When I say designer fashions I’m really referring to a loose group of brands. This loose group includes mass produced designer handbags and clothes to exclusive and expensive brands. Now you can always argue that purchasing a Hermès handbag is worth the money, if you can come up with it. Most of these handbags cost as much as a smart car. I’ve seen them for sale at stores that sell “gently used” designer wares. They still retain quite a bit of their value. So unless you’re selling a high end designer original, you probably won’t see much of a return.


The no return on your investment category includes the ubiquitous Coach Brand handbag. Recently, they were pegged as a “brand not to buy” when searching out designer fashions. Apparently they’re overpriced and sometimes poorly made overseas. Now I’m not talking about counterfeits which also come from clandestine workshops in China, but the actual Coach product. Many of their styles are mass produced overseas by approved vendors. The workmanship is considered below standards for its pricing. This puts it in the poor value category.

 Is this Coach bag worth the money?

When spending our hard earned dollars on designer fashions we not only want something we love, we also want a good value. Good values include well made products. I purchased a navy blue blazer over fifteen years ago at Macys. While this blazer was not a designer brand it did cost a little bit more than I really wanted to spend. Believe it or not, I’m still wearing it. It has a classic style, rather nondescript, excellent construction and has held up through many dry cleanings. It has been a good value for my money.


While I may yearn for a Hermès handbag, I will probably go to my grave never owning one because I realize the futility of this dream. For me I look for quality construction and will pay a little bit more for something that will stand the test of time. Most of us don’t have unlimited budgets or access to discount designer fashions. Since I’m looking for quality I pay attention to how something is made and if everyone owns one it might be because the manufacturer is dropping its own quality standards in order to lower their price point. Something to consider when you’re shopping for new spring outfits and accessories.
A navy blazer is versatile so buy a good one

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Amazon Hates its Retailers

I feel like David without the slingshot

As everyone knows is one of the world’s largest retailers. The trick here is Amazon is not actually selling anything except a marketplace for retailers to sell their wares. Yes, they occassionally go into business for themselves once a product starts to do well, but a majority of their products are held and shipped from other retailers across the globe. I sold things on Amazon. I don’t anymore; in fact, I don’t think I’m going to be buying from Amazon in the future. I’ve closed my Prime Account and asked for a refund. I should receive it since Amazon has such a generous return policy.


I knew that Amazon was different from EBay or any other e-commerce site because they give their retailer grief from everything to not shipping fast enough to returns. They also list their own products ahead of other retailers on their site. This means that Amazon is in direct competition with the retailers they are trying to serve. Conflict of interest, big time! There is a problem with Amazon in competition with its own retailers. First they don't begin selling the items until a listing retailer has some success then they go into business and sell the same thing. Remember the pillow pets and Amazon article I wrote a while back? Amazon effectively took away the business of a successful pillow pet merchant on their own marketplace. Amazon went into direct competition with him listing their item first. They put him out of business while lining their own pockets. Kind of slimy huh?

 These guys aren't fair to their retailers

My problem with Amazon is their return policy, which isn’t my return policy. My return policy consists of a happy return and refund for any product within fourteen days once they return the product to me. The product must be in original packaging and in resalable condition. Usually this is not a problem. Unfortunately for me Amazon has a return policy whereby they take anything back for any reason. You don’t even have to return it. This is of course easy for Amazon since the refund is not their money and the product didn’t come out of their own inventory. They simply debited my account to pay the customer back.


I had a return request, and by the way, Amazon return requests are 99% higher than my own store which rarely sees a return for the same products. I told the purchaser to return the product and I will refund their money. The product never arrived and the customer complained about the lack of a refund. I told him I never received the product and then he confirmed that he had in fact lost it. He never sent it! Amazon on the other hand took it upon themselves to refund the money even though the customer had stated he did not return the product. This makes Amazon look like a hero to the customer. It just makes them look like an uncaring conglomerate to me. Which is why I’m quitting Amazon, it’s a free country and I don’t want to do business with Amazon anymore which I won’t. I can buy my products from other e-commerce sites.
I shouldn't feel like this after dealing with Amazon

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Oscars

Brittany looks great as a brunette

The Oscars was this past weekend and it contained all the usual pomp and circumstance. Famous people trying to look their best and beautiful women in ball gowns, it must be such a hard life. There were the usual dresses in bad taste, outfits that could have been better and some who looked shockingly great, Brittany Spears came to Sir Elton John’s viewing party with a new darker do and everyone says she looked so good. I have to admit she looks better as a brunette than a blonde.

Jennifer Lawrence trips again

Jennifer Lawrence not only won for best actress she had a mishap with her dress. This is the second time she has gone up to accept an award and made her own memorable moment. I noticed this time she didn’t pull up her skirts fast enough as she approached the stairs. This may have led to her stumble. Although you can’t blame the girl for not wanting to pull up her dress to climb stairs, look what happened at the Golden Globes.

Helen Hunt in her H&M dress 

You have to give credit to Helen Hunt for her simple and inexpensive navy blue gown from H&M. Not only was it already hanging in her closet, but it was perfect to showcase the $700,000.00 in jewelry she wore that night. I’m not sure what is more shocking and noteworthy, the fact that she was wearing almost a million in gems or that H&M makes such beautiful ball gowns. She must shop in a very different version of the store because I’ve never seen the ball gown section in my local H&M.

 That's some dress, what there is of it

The worst dressed category included Brandi from “The Real Housewives” franchise who wore a barely there plunging neckline dress. Since it was a Real Housewife reality star it was to be expected. Although I’m still trying to figure out how a B-list star made it onto the red carpet at the Oscars. What is unfortunate is how they criticized Anne Hathaway’s dress for its “unfortunate darts.” Leave the girl alone, I thought she looked great and besides she does have the curse of the Oscar to contend with now that she’s won. Overall it was a pretty good show.
Please be kind to Anne Hathaway, no need to be snippy

Monday, February 25, 2013

Packing for a Trip Tips

Item that mix and match work best

It’s that time of year when we all experience cabin fever and long to get away. Even though I live in California the weather here can be gloomy, chilly and wet. You see I live in Northern California which is a far cry from the beaches of SoCal. Since I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants to get away from it all, there will be scores of people packing their bags and heading to warmer climates in the coming months.

 Minimum pieces, maximum possibilities

One of the first rules of packing is find a color palette and stick to it. I generally go with either blacks and white or navy and tans. Having a singular color palette to work with is very important. Your wardrobe is limited to the size of your suitcase and sticking to one theme when it comes to color saves space on shoes and accessories. Don’t make the mistake of bring your favorite outfits. If you’re like me those favorites are not all in the same color family.

 Love this Liz Claiborne blazer

If you pick black and white as your main colors you can interject color with scarves and jewelry. A black dress looks equally great worn during the day with a blue sweater and flats then dressed up in the evening with high heeled sandals and a blue topaz necklace and earrings. Having a themed color palette also allows mixing and matching. The blue sweater can be worn with either black or white jeans and black or white skirts.

 This dress can also be worn with flats and a sweater

The same can be said of navy and tan. If you have a navy and a tan sheath dress you can wear them dressed up and dressed down. By adding different accessories that simple dress can go sightseeing during the day and then out to dinner. A navy linen blazer can be worn with khakis or jeans equally well and then give you a business look with a tan sheath dress, for those traveling for work. Traveling should be fun and fuss free and it always will be if you stick to a color plan.
A pink skirt adds a pop of color

Friday, February 22, 2013

Do You Have Ill-Fitting Clothes? It's Not You!

Tailors can fix those ill-fitting garments

You go to the store to find a new pair of jean, skirt, blouse or blazer. Generally we are confronted with the dreaded dressing room and finding out that the beautiful dress on the hanger doesn’t work on our body. This isn’t entirely our fault. We all don’t have weirdly shaped bodies or figure flaws that can’t be corrected. It could just be the manufacturer. Have you ever noticed that some brands fit you better than another brands?


How a garment fits is not an accident. Every manufacturer has their own specific sizing. Brands that cater to a younger crowd will cut their garments a little tighter through the torso and thighs. A brand that sells to more mature figures will be a little generous in the aforementioned areas. When I was younger I applied for a job as a size model. This is a weird job. You put on different clothes and model them for buyers. I didn’t get the job because my waist size was too large. I was built too straight up and down.

 Salvatore Ferragamo, notice the fit, perfect

On the other hand I was told I was perfect for another brand but they didn’t need any models. This is when I clued into the sizing issue. Not every manufacturer sizes to fit all bodies. While most garments are sized to fit a variety of bodies, many manufacturers want a specific fit. They want their clothes to hang a certain way. This usually required a specific figure type. Let’s face it; we all have different shapes so some of us are just not going to fit into some brands.


The best you can hope for is a close match. You can then alter the garment to fit your body. Yes, this is an expensive proposition but it is the best way to get the fit we want. Ill-fitting garments do us no favors. They accentuate our figure flaws and can make an outfit look cheap which ultimately make us feel bad. Why feel bad when the only thing you need is a good tailor. A good tailor can correct just about any garment’s problem, because our bodies aren’t really the issue, it’s the way the garment was manufactured.
Salvatore Ferragamo, the outfit was tailored to the model, no wonder she looks so good!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Would You Wear That!

Anna Sui, kind of a short skirt...

There comes a time in everyone’s life where they ask themselves if they would wear something unique. I’m not talking about going a little crazy for a charity event and wearing your decorated bra outside of your t-shirt. I’m talking about wearing something totally outside of your personality. It could be a leather biker jacket and skinny jeans or a cardigan sweater with pearls. It doesn’t matter what it is, it just doesn’t have to fit you. Kind of like a too short skirt.


There are many avant garde fashions that work on the runway but don’t translate well into real life. Yet there are many mundane styles that don’t translate to everyone, it's kind of a double edged sword. Sometimes the style is too young, too old or just plain weird. I think an older individual wearing styles that are too young is a frequent comment along with ill-fitting clothing. As hemlines creep up this coming season those of us with mature bodies will be lamenting the change because it’s not going to translate well for us.

 Czar by Cesar Galindo, very cute but getting shorter...

I was shocked by how many designers are raising their hems. Now I know these models all have incredibly long legs, but come on, do they really expect older women to wear miniskirts? Maybe they just don’t want to see their designs on someone older than 25. Additionally, these styles are coming out of the past NYFW for fall 2013; this is when the weather starts to turn cold for heaven’s sake. Who is going to gallivant around with bare legs in 40 degree temperatures?


I don’t know about the rest of the population but I may not buy any skirts this coming season. Especially if my only choices for skirt lengths are either super short or super long, not an option. A woman of a certain age looks best in a skirt that hits just slightly above the knee. Unfortunately as we age our thighs just don’t want to cooperate anymore, I don’t care how many miles you walk. We have to draw the line somewhere and stand behind our beliefs, and I’m just simply not going to wear that!
Custo Barcelona, now they just have to be kidding...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pants versus Skirts

Which looks more professional?

What looks more professional, pants or skirts? I don’t have to face this question every day, usually because I will pick pants over skirts if left alone. There are times when I have to ask myself which looks more appropriate. There are also times when I know that a skirt or dress is the only garment that will work, just as we all know that pants work best when taking a hike in the woods. It’s all those times when I’m not sure, job interviews, meeting a client or the dreaded public speaking debacle.


In a job interview do I wear pants or a skirt? Will showing my legs make me look too feminine? Do I even want to play up my femininity? I think these are all valid questions or I could just be overthinking the whole process. Unlike men who wear a suit for job interviews or other occasions, women have more options. Not only do we have suits, we have separates and dresses. No wonder I get confused.

 Basic black wrap dress, very cute

I personally like pants. They are more comfortable I don’t have to worry that I’m showing too much leg. There is also the issue of warmth. A pair of pants keeps my legs warm while a skirt or dress lets in a breeze. This is only useful on a hot summer day. During the winter it can be a reason for frostbite. Yes you can wear wool tights and boots which I usually do but honestly, wool tights itch and unless the boot is sleek, they can look odd with a dress or skirt.


I’m facing this dilemma on Thursday night for a Mary Kay meeting. We are required to wear either a skirt or dress when we represent the company. Our recent cold weather has made me want to keep warm so I really want to wear pants. I’ll probably go with my basic black dress and nylons as I love this look with nude pumps. I’ll just have to break out the fur if it gets really cold. I guess that’s one way to stay warm.
Love this outfit, a little bit of fur and a nude pump

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The $400 Dress

The Combo Frock by Tracy Reese, $348

There was an article in a recent addition of The Wall Street Journal discussing the rise of the $400 dress. This is considered a mid-range dress, not mall chain store wear, yet not high end designer. The $400 price tag defines it as affordable to the young business orientated woman. Many believe this is the “sweet spot” in fashion. Not too cheap, not too expensive…really?


The last dress that I bought for $400 was my wedding dress and that was a lifetime ago. Now it’s not that I wouldn't love to have a closet full of these $400 dresses, they are quite attractive. I just don’t have that kind of a budget. This got me to thinking. If these young professional women are shelling out $400 for a dress, what kind of clothing budget do they have? Apparently it is much larger than mine.

 The Isosceles Dress, Tibi by Amy Smilovic, $450

It’s understandable that women need to dress well for their jobs and looking professional will certainly help you climb up that corporate ladder, but how much is too much for clothing? It begs the question, does spending $400 on a dress really make you appear that much more competent or does it make you seem frivolous? The last thing a woman wants is to appear out of touch with reality when it comes to money. A $400 dress for everyday wear just might do this.


The real catch here is many designers believe that $400 or slightly under is affordable. They explain that sales are brisk. They also believe it is young professionals buying up their wares. Could it possibly be well-heeled women looking at these collections as a great deal? I’m going with the latter as I still see a lot of young women shopping at H&M. Truthfully, many people with money to spend on a $400 dress probably have money to burn. In my circle it's not mid-range, it's high-end.
Underground Dress by Nanette Lepore, $378

Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy President's Day

Today is President's Day, everything is on sale!

So today is President’s Day, we are honoring the two greatest Presidents in American history with their own day, which used to be just Washington’s Birthday. It’s a federal holiday so no mail delivery or school for your kids. Some of you might even be lucky enough to get the day off. That would mean that today is the third day of your three day weekend and if you’re not already home, you’re on your way back.


According to the TV ads today is the day to buy a new car. There are so many ads on television touting the affordability of Hondas that you would think buying a car on any other day would be ridiculous. Today we have sales on everything from door knobs to handbags in honor of our former presidents. While I’m not one to knock a sale, it’s a weird mismatch to have a day off to honor our greatest presidents while having a huge retail sale at the local mall.

 Maybe you're interested in a car...

Part of the reason so many retail stores are pushing discounts right now is to increase sales. There is a period of time following Christmas but before Easter when retailers need to get people interested in spending money. The Valentine’s Day “holiday” may sell a lot of candy and flowers but unless you sell bridal sets, much of your jewelry inventory sits on the floor. It’s not that miscellaneous jewelry doesn’t sell; it’s just that Valentine's Day is a big proposal day.


Spring is right around the corner and many retailers are trying to move their remaining winter items out the door. So if you’re in the market for coats, sweaters or boots hit the stores today and I’m sure you’ll pick up some deals. If you’re in the market for jewelry, that window of opportunity is closed until Mother’s Day, another big jewelry discount day. I heard the local discount shoe seller is having a sale today so I might check it out. Still looking for a good pair of engineer style boots, besides, I have the day off.

or maybe some boots

Friday, February 15, 2013

Bed Bath & Beyond is Selling Jewelry?

Don't forget to look for the 20% off one item coupon!

A recent article in JCK tells the world that the retail store, Bed Bath & Beyond is now selling jewelry. The store believes this is a natural “beyond” item. They explain that they are already selling jewelry cleaning and storage items so why not jewelry itself? There is a big difference between selling a jewelry box or plastic ultrasonic cleaner and selling quality jewelry.


I would first like to say, no offense to Bed Bath & Beyond. If this store didn’t exist I would have a hard time finding placemats and a measuring cup in the same place at a reasonable price. Do not attempt this combination at Williams-Sonoma. It is hard to image that jewelry, quality jewelry can be found at the store where I buy my pillows. I usually associate Bed Bath & Beyond with inexpensive yet serviceable kitchen and home accessories. I would never consider buying fine china or "good"serving pieces at a Bed Bath & Beyond let alone a diamond ring. Macy's maybe, Bed Bath & Beyond, no!

 You can pick up some Trollbeads while shopping for pillows...

Bed Bath & Beyond does have a bridal registry which makes sense. Many brides may need kitchen appliances or dishes which are available in abundance at any of their stores. I’m just not feeling the addition of jewelry. The addition includes brands such as Badgley Micshka, Honora and Trollbeads. To me this signals the devaluing of the brands. To sell your jewelry in a discount environment is bad enough, but to sell it in a discount home wares retail store is worse.


It’s also a shame that these brands feel a need to sell their jewelry to everyone and anyone who is willing to put up a display. Some of their most loyal jewelry retailers may abandon these brands if they are sold outside of jewelry stores. It changes the atmosphere associated with a jewelry purchase. Jewelry should be a thoughtful experience. If you can get jewelry while also shopping for a toilet brush it removes all sense of extravagance and fun. While some may enjoy the convenience, for me jewelry will never be purchased as an afterthought while seeking out a frying pan.
Or maybe some Honora pearls next to the toilet brushes

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Remember this?

For all the cynics out there who think that Valentine’s Day was invented by the greeting card companies, and believes that florists and candy makers are all in cahoots, Happy Valentine’s Day. Today is the day to get something sweet for your sweetie. To maybe pick out a sappy card that says all those things you would like to say but just couldn’t seem to put into words. Maybe you’ll pick up some flowers to impress someone. The most important thing is to not forget this day if you have a significant other.


I probably should have written this warning a lot sooner for those who read my blog so they could discreetly put a copy where their guy or gal would read it. There is absolutely nothing worse than forgetting Valentine’s Day. Well maybe it would be worse to forget a birthday or anniversary. Valentine’s Day is a massive “show your love” holiday and your significant other maybe asked what they got from their sweetie. You don’t want them to be the one who says “nothing, they forgot.”

 Sweethearts candy for a modern world

I’ve been married for thirty plus years and I believe that my hubby knows this rule, or at least I hope. He has already offered to take me to a lunch somewhere fancy. We will avoid dinner out tonight because everyone and their brother will be out this evening. The nighttime is reserved for all those romantics who will be boldly professing their love or maybe even (gasp) proposing. It is probably the most popular night to make a marriage proposal. It is also one of the most popular days to get married. City hall will be busy.


Personally I think it is a little cliché to propose on Valentine’s Day. Make some other day special; after all, you’ve been getting cards and candy on this day since you were in kindergarten. Mix things up a bit. Just make sure you don’t forget it. The gesture doesn’t have to be large, it can be really small just do something, anything. A single flower or a card can go a long way.
Wiser words were never spoken...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Older Style

Wow! Grandma can still fit into her cheerleading outfit!

After looking over the photo galleries from NYFW I’ve discovered that some of the fashions seem a little young. The skirts appear too short, the shoes a little too bold and the clothes are just this side of impractical. When did I get too old for some of these fashions? I’ve never thought of myself as an older person. I will admit that I’ve been somewhat conservative in my fashion choices; I did wear a London Fog double breasted trench coat to high school. Just wondering when I became a fuddy duddy.

Diane Keaton looks awesome

As an individual who is fashion conscious, I want to see what’s new in the fashion world. It’s best to keep an open mind especially when it comes to fashion. I’ve been having a hard time with the open minded aspect lately. Many of the fashions just seem too young for me and it makes one wonder if I’m in fact getting old. Yes, age is only a number, but wearing what is appropriate for your age group is important. We’ve also all seen that woman who dresses like a sixteen year old high school student, not cool. In fact it’s just creepy.

 Debbie Reynolds is an elegant Grandma

I don’t want to be the creepy older woman. I also don’t want to be considered eccentric. That’s just the polite way of saying creepy. How do you remain fashionable while aging? This is a trick that many women want to acquire. One of the tricks is to keep it simple. Complicated patterns, hairstyles and makeup all worn together look avant garde on a young woman; it’s just distracting on someone older. If you want to be the grandma with the purple and pink hair wearing multicolored overalls with two different colored converse tennis shoes just might be over the top.

 Betsy Johnson's Gothic Lolitas, not for Grandmas

Some of the most elegant woman I know wear expensive looking but simple clothing. Silky pants with a matching longer topper. Subdued colors in their clothing and tasteful accessories that look expensive can go a long way. If they want to go crazy with color they reserve it for their carefully manicured fingernails and toenail. They also take care of themselves, this means carefully coiffed hair and tasteful makeup. They don’t leave the house without some jewelry. I plan on trying to age well since its right around the corner. I also plan on being elegant not eccentric, Betsy Johnson should be one of a kind.
Betsy Johnson is a one of a kind at 68

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

New York Fashion Week 2013

Czar by Cesar Galindo

Once again I haven’t the privilege of attending New York Fashion Week or NYFW. I guess this is good because I have been in New York at the end of January, beginning of February. It was cold and snowing which didn’t appeal to the California girl in me. I have to truthfully say it was one of the coldest times in my life and I don’t like being cold. Since NYFW was literally buried in snow it would be safe to say everyone experienced some weather. This would be the only thing that would make me glad to not attend. Not attending is a bummer.

 Diane Von Furstenberg

This makes my perusal of gallery photos courtesy of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week’s website both fun and warm. I haven’t seen any photos from one of my favorite designers, Chadwick Bell but I will keep looking. There have been some really beautiful designs strutting down the runway. Czar by Cesar Galindo had stunning designs with simple lines and excellent flow. I love the black leggings with the blouson top. To me it’s tight and loose in all the right places.
Diane Von Furstenberg

Another fabulous designer with staying power is Diane Von Furstenberg. She has awesome dresses, as usual, and her use of color is outstanding. Her palette stayed within the colors we would all expect to see for fall. Beautiful russet, oranges and browns with splashes of blue and fuchsia, the designs are feminine and creative. These are designs that can be worn by real women, not just Lady Gaga.


Last but not least was DKNY. I love the minimalist style and basic colors. Black, tan and white with an animal print thrown in for interest are some of my favorites. Once again these are clothes for real women. I will take these ideas and try and assemble outfits in a similar style. The short bomber jacket over a slim longer jacket and slim pants look comfortable, warm and stylish. The use of color blocking in wonderful and the colors are placed perfectly for a slimming effect. Overall I’d have to say that NYFW has turned out some beautiful clothes, as usual.
DKNY, unfortunately my pictures are small

Monday, February 11, 2013

Five Easy Pieces

While I love this piece, not sure if it's for everyone.

I read an article recently that explained you need these five clothing pieces. If you buy nothing else this year, you must have these, it exclaims in big letters. If these pieces are so essential to my wardrobe, why don’t I have them already? After reading the article I found I did have a few of the pieces. The pieces are a denim button down shirt, a pleated dress, and a pair of slouchy pants, a leather skirt and a leather motorcycle jacket. In fact I have two denim button down shirts, a light denim and a dark denim.


The pieces I’m actually missing are the pleated dress and the slouchy pants. Well I take back the slouchy pants thing because I have two pairs of silk pants, one in black and the other in ivory. I never considered them slouchy pants but the description on one pair may make them count. You need a pair of pants that are a little loose, nonchalant or made from a silky fabric. The pleated dress I do not have. I own nothing with pleats partly because pleats don’t lie flat on my body. Accordion pleats are the worst, I’ve found I can only wear stitched down pleats.

 I wonder if my silk pants fit the "slouchy pants" requirement?

Since a pleated dress doesn’t work with my body I’m just going with the dress. This is the thing about anyone else’s suggestions for wardrobe essentials. While the suggestions maybe their essentials they might not be your essentials. Everyone has their own idea of what they need or what is a must have. I was shocked that there wasn’t a blazer in the group since I wear a blazer almost every day. No I don’t have a corporate job.


Just the same I know that a leather skirt and a leather motorcycle jacket are not for everyone. While I own these items, don’t wear them together, I also know people who would never own these items. It just doesn’t fit their personalities. That’s what style is all about, your personality. The only thing you have to remember when you get dressed every day is whether or not it fits you and your life. Don’t let anyone try and tell you what you need because then you just won’t look like you.
Not sure if I could pull off a pleated dress, would the pleats lie flat, not usually!