Friday, June 29, 2012

A good sale

Over the past few weeks, I have come to see that my weakness when it comes to a French shopping method is sales. I'm all good with self-deprivation and denial, until a good sale--and actually, to be honest, a good thrift store--comes into view. After that, all discipline goes out the window as I scramble and click to bring down my prey.

So what was that I was saying, about hardly buying anything for months and months? It's moments like these that I'm reminded of how an ex used to cluck over my shopping habits after a big haul. "Eat like a fly, shit like an elephant," he'd say. (I believe that's a saying from his native Bulgaria, but in any case, you have to imagine it said with a heavy Russian-sounding accent.)

Anyway. At least I console myself with the belief that my purchases are more and more in line with my own personal taste, try as I might to incorporate such things as Ferragamos and whatnot into my wardrobe. In the end, I still have the taste of someone who doesn't seem to care about fashion, erring toward overalls and Birkenstocks and plaid and shearling. And my purchases reflect that, though one day I might try my hand at those more elegant things.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Step 2: Analyze your mistakes

Here's part 2 of the Real Simple article. Part 1 was here.

Like rehashing a bad relationship, this cringe-inducing (yet cathartic) exercise helps ensure that you don't go down the same dead ends again. Ready? take out five things you wish you hadn't bought and ask yourself the questions in step one, plus the questions below. then let go of those items, plus anything else that's not pulling its weight--even if it still has its tags or it will be perfect once you lose 10 pounds or you have friends who throw fancy parties. "Your wardrobe should reflect who you are now," says Kendall Farr, the author of Style Evolution (Gotham, $22.50). "Don't hang on to images of what worked for you 10 or 20 years ago."

  • Do you have anywhere to wear this?
  • Is it high-maintenance?
  • Does it make you feel old and frumpy? Or young and silly?
  • Is it poor quality?
  • Did you buy it for the thrill of the bargain?
  • Did you buy it only because it was trendy?
  • Was it a panic purchase for a big event?
  • Does the color make you look pale? Yellow? Ruddy?
Your answers reveal: Your shopping blind spots. (Write down details about your mistakes so you never waste another cent falling into the same trap.) If your favorite pieces are tailored and crisp,  that's why you're not reaching for the ruffled chiffon top. If sales or the newestrends are your weakness, you don't have to give up clearance racks or Forever 21. But you will wanto hold firm to your "likes" and "dislikes" list.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Step one: assess your style barometer

I always wake up completely whenever the baby cries at night in a certain pained tone. I think she must have had a nightmare tonight, since she's not teething yet and she wasn't hungry. But now I'm fully awake, and it's 4 AM, and so I have decided to type out this handy article I came across in the May 2011 issue of Real Simple. It's a methodical approach to one's wardrobe entitled "Never Buy the Wrong Thing Again." The description goes like this:
Have a packed closet and nothing to wear . . . except impulse buys you now regret? This four-step intervention plan is here to help you create a pared-down wardrobe of coordinating, enduring, great-fitting pieces and breeze by unflattering markdowns. (Because pleather leggings shouldn't happen to anyone.)
Okay, so here's step one. I'll post the other three steps later. I won't use quotes for the rest, but it's all Sarah Stebbins' words from here on out.

Identify what's working
You probably have a handful of go-to pieces you instinctively reach for when you want to look put-together. Now imagine having a rack full of them. the first step toward achieving that goal is figuring out what makes those favorites so, well, favored, says Amy E. Goodman, the author of Wear This, Toss that (Atria $27). "Pull out the five things you would wear every day if no one was keeping track," she says. Choose something in each clothing category: tops, pants, dresses, and skirts. Then ask yourself a few questions about each piece. jot down your answers so you can use them as a shopping guide later (or download a fill-in-the-blank checklist as

How would you describe the item? Crisp and tailored? Soft and ruffly?
What image does it project? Smart and professional? Edgy and fashionable?
What color is it? Does the shade brighten your complexion?
What fabric is it made of?
What is the silhouette like? Nipped at the waist? Flowing and hip-grazing?
What parts of your body does it accentuate?
What parts of your body does it de-emphasize?
Is it comfortable?

Your answers reveal: Your style barometer. Use your notes to help pinpoint what you like. "Be careful of buying replicates," says Goodman. You may learn you prefer darks and flared shapes, but you need only one good pair of black bootcuts. "Think of it as nailing down a signature look, not getting into a rut," she says.