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.


men’s wear wednesday: the ties that bind

It has been some time since I’ve had the occasion to buy a man a tie. However, I do like to walk around the tie section of a high-end department store. I love how ties are organized according to their place on the color wheel. I love feeling the different textures and fabrics. I love imagining the possible suit-plus-shirt combinations a tie has to offer.

(Maybe all this tie buying love stems from the fact that I love helping a man take off his tie.)

A recent trip to Nordstrom in search of a birthday gift led me to my own little tie epiphany. Ties only come in three pattern options: solid, stripes or paisley.  And within those pattern options, ties are either bold, safe (some might say boring) or ugly.

A tie is the man’s way to distinguish his outfit. It’s his shoes, jewelry, scarf and purse all in one. (Melt my heart if he has a corresponding sock.) The right tie gives a man his opportunity to present himself as more sophisticate, less prep school boy. It’s the one element that can pull together the professional man’s outfit. It’s a chance to be unique. Much like I don’t like to walk into an elevator and run into a woman with the exact same outfit on, I assume a man doesn’t like looking around a conference table and realizing he has on a variation of the same tie every other man in the room is wearing.

I personally like a man who can pull off a bold tie, but I recognize it isn’t in everyone’s comfort zone. If you are in the market for a tie and need some direction, my simple rules are: no skinny ties unless you are a dedicated hipster; no ties that require sunglasses to comfortably look at; and, I’m just going to say it, don’t bother with Vineyard Vines ties. They all look alike.

Oh and one more rule. Please, if you get a grease spot on your tie that won’t come out, you must retire it, no matter how much you paid for it or how much you love it.

men’s wear wednesday

Gentlemen, are you tired of reading or rather, skimming my blog for tidbits of juiciness like the words nude or milf? Do you wish I didn’t spend so much time on women’s fashion, my dress dilemmas and don’t wears that clearly have no relevance to you unless you are willing to share them with the woman in your life?

Fret no more.

In an attempt to continue my effort to make the world (or our little slice of it in DC) a more fashionable place, I have advice for you too. And dearest female readers, don’t avoid Wednesdays just because they will be tailored to the guys. I know you’ve had the experience of dressing up for an event, looking at what your husband or boyfriend was wearing, and cringing inside because his ensemble looked like it came from the (dirty) laundry basket not from an actual hanger in his closet. Or maybe you’re tired of the khaki-pants-blue-button-down uniform so omnipresent in DC. At the next BBQ, perhaps you can get him to wear something other than cargo shorts and a t-shirt from college (a note to the guys: just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s vintage).

Ideally, just like my women readers do, my male readers/skimmers will reach out to me with a wardrobe dilemma. Since I didn’t decide on this post until last night, today’s advice for those guys who hate to shop or don’t know what to look for is this: hire some help. A personal stylist such as DC Style Factory (who will start by auditing your closet and compiling a style profile) is well worth the investment. Or did you know that you can call (or email) Nordstrom, tell them what you need, your size and your price range and they will make an appointment for you to come in to a dressing room already full of items for you to try? No scouring the racks for outfits you don’t know how to put together or searching to find what section of the store carries the items you need. By the way, this service is free.

And so is my advice, so take it or leave it, but if you leave it, don’t say I didn’t tell you so the next time your significant other looks you up and down and lets out a heavy sigh. It might be because she can’t wait for you to get those clothes off, but not for the reason you think.

bag lady
My Scout is the size of the pink one but in the orange color.

I am by no means a small purse woman. I usually blame the fact that I have to carry a larger-sized handbag on my being a mom, but when was the last time I actually toted around crayons, pacifiers, or matchbox cars in my bag? Frankly, the real issue is that I can never narrow down exactly what lipstick I want to wear (and often I combine two or three colors to make my own custom-perfect shade) and honestly, lipstick takes up a lot of space.

Okay, maybe not.

But I also have this huge wallet. When I bought it four years ago, I remember the sales woman at Nordstrom saying, “this is lovely, and it can double as a clutch.” Seriously? Where would I put my lipsticks? In the change pouch? I don’t think so. And while I do have a few clutches in my repertoire, I have to admit that I rarely use them. I need my keys. I need my iPhone. I need my iPhone charger since my iPhone only carries a charge for about 45 minutes these days. I sometimes carry my iPod too (especially if I’m metro-ing) because if my iPhone dies and if I am stuck with an 18-minute wait for the orange line in the direction of New Carrollton, I want something to listen to.

Then there are my eyeglass cases. I can sometimes get away with only carrying one, and the regular glasses and the sunglasses take turns being housed it in, but it has to be the bigger of the two cases because my sunglasses don’t fit in the case for the eyeglasses and if I am going to PT or the gym or some place where I might need to take both pairs off, then I need to bring both cases.

I didn’t really keep any of this in mind when I asked my friend Janna from The Finicky Filly to order me the Kate Spade Essex Scout in orange. In my spatial-judgmentally-challenged mind, it looked like it wasn’t that much smaller than the purse I had been using since August. After all, I wasn’t buying the Kate Spade Small Essex Scout. But in practice, my new orange purse is small. It can barely fit my mammoth wallet. I have to narrow my daily lipstick selection down to two options (today’s choices were the Trish McEvoy “Instant Pick Me Up” Lip Shimmer and the new Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Bonheur). My keys seem too bulky and of course I need my iPhone charger. (The iPhone was conveniently being carried in my coat pocket.) No iPod. No crayons, pacifiers or matchbox cars.

The other night, my seven-year old saw my new purse laying on my bed and started petting it.

Colin (adoringly): Mommy, is this your new purse?

Me: Yes, do you like it?

Colin: I love it. (Pause.) When you don’t want it anymore, can I have it?

I don’t think that Colin realizes that while the cross body style of my bag is very Indiana Jones, he can’t fit his entire retinue of treasures in the Essex Scout. Maybe a couple of his smaller twig wands, a Lego gun and one of the knives he cut out of cardboard. But certainly not all his rocks, his corks (he has a lot of these) or his bottle cap collection. Not to mention his lip balm (he is my son, after all). But that is beside the point since I am far from giving Colin his own Kate Spade purse, even one that has been used.

This week I was lucky. It was rainy, so I didn’t need the sunglasses, and since I was carrying around my computer bag, I could use it to stash the surplus items that I didn’t fit in the purse. And I was only carrying around one cork.

Yes, I have a cork collection, too.