retail therapy, reward, procrastination

I bought a few things this week. I declare none of my purchases entirely superfluous; with one exception, I spent on a need-to-have-basis. Let’s start with my greatest online weakness: Everlane.

I feel like Everlane was a big secret I wasn’t in on until about six months ago, so let me enlighten you. You can read about this internet retailer’s philosophy for yourself or I can summarize: they believe in transparency in production and pricing. On the webpage of each item they sell, if you scroll to the bottom, you will see delineated the true cost of the materials, production, and transportation. They add up those figures for the math challenged to attain the true cost of the item versus the Everlane price versus what the average retailer would charge. (I typically use J. Crew as a comparison.) Everlane is where I now buy all my t-shirts. $15 for a short sleeve t-shirt is $5.00 less than full price for the same at the Gap. And these shirts wear well, wash well (no pilling, my biggest pet peeve) and they are not see through. I repeat, they are not see through. (Okay, maybe see through t-shirts = biggest pet peeve.) After a closet purge this week, I ordered a black long sleeve t-shirt (my first from them) and because my favorite season is almost upon us, the Fall Seed Stitch Raglan in navy. (Justified because I essentially shrank my J. Crew version of this sweater last winter.)

Before you click over to Everlane and go crazy stocking your closet, think of the starving artist who referred you. I get a reward if you found them through me, so help a writer out and email me for an invitation if you plan to make an Everlane purchase.

While I was doing the closet purge, I put to one side all my wool pencil skirts for a couple of reasons. One, it’s still too damn hot. Two, I’m not entirely convinced they fit, but I’ve had enough rejection this week and thus wasn’t in the mood to find out. I’ve been wanting a midi-length pleated skirt, but usually find them too voluminous to be flattering on me. Try, try again, I say, and this colorblock skirt was on sale at Nordstrom so if it works and I love it, I won’t be racked with fiscal guilt. I can wear it now and later. Dress it up or down, but let’s be honest, I’m mostly going to dress it down.

Rounding out my flurry of retail activity, after a particularly grueling day of researching, writing, and sending agent query letters, I splurged on a new lipstick, this Bobbi Brown beauty in Lady Ruba. I know, I need another lipstick like I need another agent rejection, but I’m a sucker for a bright lip color, and they had me at limited edition.

Whereas the internet often encourages impulse shopping, I was thoughtful in making my purchases and now I just can’t wait for the UPS guy to come. And not just because he’s easy on the eyes. Though there is that.

Hive on the Hill

There are no fashionable women’s shoe stores on Capitol Hill unless you want to make the trek to Union Station, and who shops at Union Station except passersby and Hill staffers on their lunch break?

That all changes for one brief and shining weekend (as in, this weekend) when the Old Town based boutique, the Shoe Hive, comes to Tabula Rasa on Barack’s Row.

Beginning tonight from 7:00-9:00 with a cocktail reception hosted by my favorite Alisons, DC Celine and Wardrobe Oxygen, and running regular hours through the weekend, all sorts of wonderfulness will be available. From shoes to handbags to jewelry and other accessories, they promise to have something for everybody. Need gifts? Walk away from Amazon Prime for one night to support a local small business. Looking for the perfect holiday shoe? Maybe you will find it here. While I have never actually shopped the Hive since I usually make my big shoe purchases from SimplySoles, I’m impressed by the photos I’ve seen on Twitter and Facebook of not only new arrivals in their actual store, but the goodies they are busy unpacking on this side of the river. And they are super responsive on social media, which feels like good customer service to me.

Who knows? Since I already indicated to the Hive-ess that my feet take a size 8, maybe I will find a happy birthday to me present.

tips from an early voter

Photo by chelseachronicl

I just spent three hours and ten minutes in line to early vote. That does NOT include the two hours I spent in line this morning before I had to abort the mission to head to my noon appointment.

The lines are long. The line waiters are patient and determined.

It’s beautiful to be part of this display of patriotism. But if you are going to squeeze in early voting before Election Day, I have some advice.

1. Bring a book. (I was so happy to discover I had my kindle in my purse.)

2. Charge your phone. (I was on low battery an hour before I hit the last stretch of hallway.)

3. Go with a friend.

4. Wear comfortable shoes.

5. Dress warm if you live in a cooler climate. I had a sweater, coat, gloves, two scarves and was still cold.

6. Bring a snack and water. Seriously.

7. Take this time to review any ballot initiatives you aren’t well-versed on.

8. Talk to those people waiting around you. It really does pass the time faster and I even saw some folks holding places in line for those who wanted to run to the restroom.

9. If you can, leave the kids at home.

10. Revel in the fact that so many Americans are exercising their civic duty.

I don’t know if 2012 will see record voter turnout, but I do know I have never waited in line for more than 45 minutes to vote on Election Day proper. And at the end of the process, the more people who come to the polls, the better we are as a nation. I just hope the rest of those who intend to vote don’t show up at the polls at the same time you do.

meet Katie…

If you don’t go to Biker Barre, you might not have met co-owner Katie Fouts. She’s a badass on (and off) the bike. And the woman can dance, if her spin room moves are any indication. I suspect she teeters on the edge of crazy fun to go out on the town with. She’s inspiring. (I’m a sucker for the whole “I was unhappy in my previous career and made a complete change” storyline.) She’s energetic, smart, and gorgeous.

I was most honored when Katie approached me a few weeks ago and asked if she could engage my services in finding her a gown (make that two) for Inaugural festivities in January.

By way of an aside, let me note that Katie plans to attend the balls regardless of who wins the presidency, though she assures me she does have a preference as to who emerges victorious. Attending an Inaugural ball just happens to be something on her DC Bucket List.

Initially, we met to discuss strategy, over wine of course. We decided she needs a black dress for Inauguration Eve and a spectacular dress for the big night. She set a budget. She started a Pinterest board, Cinderella Time. And we scheduled our initial date to shop.

Who knew our shopping date would fall on Frankenstorm Eve? Being ever the cautious one, I questioned the sanity of heading out to Tyson’s after her Sunday Brunch Spin class as planned. We discussed rescheduling. But the endorphin high after her class pushed us both to go for it. (I mean, it wasn’t even raining yet.)

We hit two stores: Neiman Marcus and Saks. At Neiman, I suggested we look at every dress. I pulled gowns we had pinned and gowns we were unsure of on the hanger because I wanted to push her boundaries.

Of the ten gown we brought into the dressing room, the first three I suggested she try emerged as favorites.  I will hold back on sharing a photo of the top contender for now, as we want to see her in a different style by the same designer. (We may stage our own little public opinion poll.) While we loved the David Meister Animal-Print Gown on her (pictured at the top) I feared that she’d be yanking up the strapless bodice all night and that the sequins would chafe her underarms. We also loved a Catherine Dean gown (pictured below) for its edgy factor, but it was way over budget. (I don’t normally endorse trying on dresses over your budget but in this case, we wanted to try something out of the ordinary.) Both dresses were flattering, but neither was our favorite.

Our Inaugural Gown Pursuit continues. Stay tuned for the next update.

In the meantime, if you can introduce Katie to an eligible bachelor who’s tall, hunky and able to match her dance moves step for step, maybe she’ll comp you a spin class.

Stacy London

Photo by wardrobe_oxygen

I first discovered What Not to Wear when I was on maternity leave after giving birth to Colin in 2004. Talk about a time to be thirsty for anything related to style. It didn’t take me long to become devoted to my time with Stacy London and Clinton Kelly. As I struggled to get back into pre-pregnancy clothes, clothes that suddenly didn’t look as chic to me as they had nine months prior, I salivated over the idea of a $5000 budget to start anew. I yearned for someone to come tell me what to wear and, of course, what not to wear.

Since it seemed futile to wait for style fairies Stacy and Clinton to ambush me at work to offer their services and credit card, I started watching the show from a different perspective. I absorbed their advice. I looked for episodes that featured women who were built like me or had a similar lifestyle.

To this day, I still take fashion inspiration from them every time I watch their show.

While I adore Clinton’s cheekiness, I love Stacy’s enthusiasm, snark, and sentimentality. (If she tears up during the final reveal, I’m sure to as well.) And how could I go without mentioning her wardrobe? I also appreciate and admire that in a realm dominated by women much younger than we are, she’s my age.

Last night I attended a book signing event for her recently published book, The Truth About Style. While a rough day had almost led me to cancel, spending an evening with the likes of DC Celine, Wardrobe Oxygen, Closet Coach and Stacy London turned out to be just the therapy I needed. Stacy was generous with her time, sincere with her stories and answered every question from the audience thoughtfully. After her monologue and the Q&A, she spoke personally to each woman getting a book signed. Since I was way at the back of the line, I had time to craft a question for her that wouldn’t be too serious but yet meaningful to me.

Me: You’re 43, I’m about to turn 43, what did you buy yourself for your 43rd birthday. (Because I love birthdays. And I need ideas.)

Stacy: My God! What did I buy myself? I don’t know! (Thanks to Wardrobe Oxygen for snapping this photo of Stacy pondering my question.)

Me: Shoes?

Stacy: No! Now I remember. A Celine trapeze bag. I highly recommend it. You should do it. And by the way, I love that you’re wearing purple. And you have a great necklace. And wait, is that a leopard print coat? I think I have that coat!

Stacy London is as effusive in person as she is on TV. She looks you in the eye when she speaks. She really listens to you and her responses are thought out. She spent several minutes giving wedding dress advice to the women in front of me in line when they told her they’re getting married and one wants to wear a feminine dress and the other a more structured dress.

It’s fair to say I officially have a crush. While I’d need a lot of people to buy my 99 cent short story (coming soon) if I’m ever going to buy a Celine bag, I will live off the fumes of Stacy’s inspiration (and the lust for her fuchsia pleated flowy skirt) for a long time to come.

retail therapy

photo credit: http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/set?id=59305787
temporary relief from a tough day

Yesterday, I succumbed to retail therapy.

How could I help it? I had a 30-minute gap between my lunch meeting and my coffee meeting, and J. Crew just happened to sit in between the two locations that required my presence. I’d had a rough day to that point, and all the wool, cashmere and fall colors beckoned me inside, promising to relieve my distress.

I walked away with four pieces that I had had in my dream on-line shopping cart, all items that I can mix and match with my current wardrobe. The graphic skirt will pair with a gazillion shirts in my closet: denim, navy, black, patterned.  (Yes, pattered. Stay tuned.) The burgundy skirt I plan to pair with mustard, pink or brilliant blue. As the salesman pointed out, it also looks nice with the French Hen blouse.

Speaking of the French Hen blouse, I will wear it with jeans, my burgundy skirt, my flame skirt, red cords… the possibilities are endless.

And the navy cashmere v-neck sweater? It had been on my wish list for awhile, and the 20% discount on sweaters in store helped make the splurge easier. J. Crew cashmere is so soft, so luxe, and I’ve never regretted a purchase. I can wear this sweater as easily to work as to the soccer field.

But the euphoria of shopping had worn off by the time I got home. Luckily, the two awesomest (to use a Colin-ism) boys in the world awaited me. And our evening together provided the real therapy I was seeking.