This week, I’ve been doing something a little different on Twitter. I’ve been posting up my outfits of the day as a steal versus splurge. I have a new spring/summer wardrobe. I’ve been sharing with the Twitter community my finds, because as a reporter from Florida asked me…is it hard keeping up with the latest fashion trends in NYC?
I’d like to refer the ladies to Sex and the City (Part 2) movie. Remember the girls in their 20-something frocks versus what they wear today? Combine all of the SATC seasons together and add in the two movies and you get what it really means to be a fashionista in New York City. You grow into the role as you get older.
In your twenties, you can dress younger and buy the latest fads and trends at H&M and Forever 21. They’re affordable and cute clothes.
But as you start to hit the big 3-0, you realize that you need a different kind of wardrobe. The types of jobs you have usually start to command your wardrobe style.
I can tell you now, I don’t own a single piece of clothing from my early to mid-20s. My wardrobe collection began at age 28…moving into 30.
The pieces I wanted by that time centered around versatility, well-made, qualitative designs and fabrics that would stand the test of time. We call this the classics: black pants with matching suit jackets (for important meetings and interviews), a gray suit, a long sweater, and a little black dress. Having a comfortable pair of pumps is essential, as well as a pair of flats. You’ll need a bag big enough to hold your laptop, shoes and lunch.
Once you’ve mastered the classics, you move on to the ‘fun’ pieces. These pieces are usually the more trendy pieces. Each season, they come out with something new and trendy (from gladiator sandals to crochet tops). My suggestion is to veer away from those pieces. I don’t care how cute it is. I find that too much of the same trend in any given city…means that these ladies lack style.
Don’t wear what everyone else is wearing. If you pick up something that everyone else is wearing, learn to wear it to reflect your own body and style so that it appears differently (and makes it look like you wore it better).
Also, keep in mind…you should take a lesson from fashion icons like Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Katherine Hepburn…their style is still in style 60 years later. That is what it means to be classic and elegant.
In your 30s, you want clothes that are going to last a long time…so you stick to the classics, less trendy pieces. The Gap and Banana Republic have ruled my wardrobe for years. Their sales are great, and you can stock up on essentials like t-shirts, tanks and cardigans. Layering becomes your new best friend.
By 35 years old, you’re ready to take the step into couture. You won’t wear Nine West, Bandolino, or any shoe that is originally under $100. BUT you will buy Cole Haan, Valentino, Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin, Gucci, Dolce, Prada, etc. on a serious discount. By now, you should have learned the tricks of the trade. There are sample sales online and around town. You know when the sale hits to have your credit card ready to go.
You’re aware that you can get an entire outfit from Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue for $50 at certain times of the year. You know when to shop.
You also start to learn the power of personal shoppers and stylists.
On Fifth Avenue, I have a personal shopper at Saks Fifth Avenue and a stylist at The New York Look. They help me decide my ‘investment’ pieces.
That means that I’m looking for certain trends that will be suitable to me and my body. Both the shopper and stylist find items that will accentuate my body well. It’s like those “make me over” shows. They take a person from off the street and give them a new look. That is what these ladies do for me.
Now…Carrie Bradshaw didn’t start off with Manolo Blahniks. She got to Manolo years later…in her 30s when she could begin to afford them. As you watch Carrie grow older, her net worth also goes up with each bestseller. One day she was using rent money to buy a pair of Manolos, next she’s buying 5 pairs and not fussing over how much she just spent.
But like all budding fashionistas…this is how fashion becomes a part of their life. They start with the chain stores like H&M. Then they start to go more qualitative with Gap and Banana Republic. Later, they can afford to shop for couture items.
For me, I am in the couture stage. Just recently, my stylist picked out a Just Cavalli bag for me for $455. A dress and a new Tracy Reese shirt later, and I’ve just dropped $800+ in their store without lamenting over what I just did.
It’s not charged away on a credit card. It’s paid for with a debit card, straight out of my bank account. True fashionistas should never go into debt for fashion. There is no excuse for going into debt to look good. You buy what you can afford and add your own charming personality and style to it.
This week, I wore a lot of pieces from Target. Target has put together a fashion initiative that allows those couture designers to design something just for Target. For $7-$50, I’ve bought Carlos Falchi bags that I adore more than any other bag in my collection (yes, I have a collection). I picked up a Thakoon dress for $27.98, as well as a Jovovich-Hawk dress for the same price. I even hit up the Maternity section, because Liz Lange’s pieces are so nice, you would never know it was maternity. I bought 2 maxi dresses for $30 and less from the Liz Lange collection. I can’t tell you how many guys smiled at me, gave me their seat on the subway (just so they could talk to me on the ride to work), or stopped me in the middle of the street just to talk. I was wearing a black Liz Lange dress…and they were all stopping to talk to me.
So just because the price tag is a good deal, doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing fashion.
People think that I get all of my great couture deals in New York City. Not true. I get them all online at sample sale sites from ideeli.com to RueLaLa.com to Modnique.com to BeyondTheRack.com. I stalk my favorite sites that do “Looks For Less” to get an idea on what the best deals are out there.
One site introduced me to The Outnet. A $2 Valentino dress is now in my closet (still thinking about keeping it). A pair of Valentino pumps for $88. A $700 Burberry bag for $335. You just have to know the places to go to pick up the couture stuff for next to nothing.
I’m also a fan of vintage coats. I picked up a yellow vintage 1950s coat for $20 at a thrift store. I dress it up with unique looking scarves.
When I go to Europe, I like to pick up the latest clothes from there, because you can usually find it cheaper there than back in the States.
When I was in Dublin, I found a gorgeous black dress with a gold zipper in the back for $30 (clearance rack). In the States, they were just releasing the same dress for the first time for $200 a couple of months later.
That is staying ahead of the trends. A lot of times it will hit Europe a few months before it hits the US.
I’ve also become a fan of Warehouse. Kate Middleton bought a bunch of her Honeymoon dresses there. Randomly searching through the site, I found a maxi dress for $24. I think the most I paid for any maxi dress on there was $121. [Shipping to the US is only $10.]
The bonus of shopping at this London boutique…it’s from London, which means that you are ahead of the trend here in the States. I mean…Kate Middleton shops there. They post up her buys the next day on the website. All of her picks are moderately priced items that doesn’t break the bank.
Kate is the new fashion icon in London. At least she makes it easy for the world who want to follow her fashion trends.
When I first moved to NYC, I felt very out of place fashionwise. I had a rockstar wardrobe…and that wasn’t the current trend in NYC. I had to switch into a new state of mind. After all, I kept running into supermodels on every block…and if you’re not six feet tall and 102 pounds…this big city can get depressing very quickly.
Insert The Gap and Banana Republic. Thanks to Sarah Jessica Parker, she made The Gap fashionable and affordable in NYC. Marie Claire and other fashion magazines followed with suggestions of grandeur from both of these Gap company stores.
Thanks to SJP, she inspired my NYC wardrobe when I first arrived.
But let’s get back to size…if you’re not a minus two, it’s hard to be fashionable in NYC. They have special “Plus Sized in NYC” blogs and articles out now for those who are beyond a size 8. Trust me, women all over have been feeling the pain of looking perfect and fashionable in this city.
The Devil Wears Prada is a perfect example of how we starve ourselves in this city to be thin so we can be fashionable.
Imagine working on this for years and finally walk into a store on 5th Avenue and realize…OH MY GAWD…I can fit into this couture outfit.
That has been my experience over the past month. That would also explain why I’ve been doing a lot of shopping on 5th Avenue.
There was one shop (The New York Look) that I’ve walked by since 2004 saying, “One day…I’ll be able to fit into their clothes.” Their windows were always beautiful and perfect…designed for fashionistas with a body to boot.
Last week, I went into that store for the first time. Something in my mind just said…GO IN!
So I went in, thinking there was no way in hell anything in this store could fit me. Maybe I could walk out with a new bag.
Well, I didn’t just find a bag…I found a dress. A gothic looking black maxi dress that made me look…AMAZING. I kept asking for a bigger size. My stylist told me I was crazy. She apparently was right. The dress was perfect on me and there was no need to wear SPANX underneath.
A couple of days later, they found a shirt that looked perfect on me too.
In Target that weekend, I kept pulling the bigger sizes only to put it away because I was swimming in the dresses. I realized then that I really am smaller than I thought I was. I really was in couture sizing.
That Valentino dress…actually looks amazing on me, which makes me feel like I really should not put it in consignment. I had to ask myself…are you ever going to buy a $4,000+ Valentino dress again?
Fifth Avenue used to scare the crap out of me. I would always walk by so many stores and feel like I would never be able to wear or own any of their clothing. But I’m surprised at how amazing 5th Avenue is looking on me now.
Guess by Marciano is another retailer that really made me feel self-conscious. Out of bravery, I went into the store because I really loved the cornflower blue apparel they had in their windows.
A little trip upstairs, a dress in the dressing room and I’m looking at myself like…I can’t believe this. The dress looked so svelte and sexy on…I had to buy it. Yes, I bought a dress from Guess. Never in a million years did I think I’d say that.
Of course, because I have a hard time believing that I’m shrinking…I keep saying that the sizing has gone up rather than my personal sizing going down.
But the truth of the matter is this…
I feel like the happy experiment this year is correlating with these changes. I’ve started a ‘tourist’ diet. That means that I’m doing touristy stuff in my neighborhood and Manhattan (i.e. walking for hours on end all over the place…shopping and doing touristy stuff). That also means that I’m eating like I do when I’m being a tourist…which means it’s not much, because I have no interest in eating…and if I do eat, it’s a qualitative meal.
Then again…I usually can’t eat on the road…stomach is on strike and I’m scared to death to eat anything.
At any rate, I’m not giving credit where credit is due. If something isn’t working right, you have to try a new angle, right? That’s what I’ve been doing. A program that actually caters to my lifestyle…happiness and being a tourist…seems to suit me just fine. Apparently, 5th Avenue would agree with me.
These days, I feel like I’m just coming into my own…FINALLY!