When I was in my 20s, fresh out of college, my college roommate showed up on my doorstep touting her brand new handbag. My mouth dropped. She was carrying a Kate Spade bag.
She said it was a graduation present from her mom and grandmother.
To someone fresh out of college, barely able to afford rent, seeing a designer bag on the shoulder of a friend causes major bag envy. I could not afford a bag between $100-$400. And guess what? It would take another ten years before I could get my very first Kate Spade bag.
In my 20s, Kate was a dream. In my 30s, I didn’t get just one bag, I got five, because I could finally afford her. Don’t get me started on the stationary line! In my early 40s, I added clothes, shoes and jewelry. To have a wardrobe meant Kate Spade had a prominent right to a space in that closet.
But as time moves on, business plans change. Coach (a brand I refuse to buy) bought out the Kate Spade brand last year, tried to put an end to the online flash sales (the sales that allowed so many women the opportunity to buy a Kate Spade bag), and started pulling the bags from shelves at department stores. As a result of this takeover and how they treated the Kate Spade brand, Coach shares dropped 14% just one month after buying the brand out for $2.4 billion.
Just add that to one of those reasons why I refuse to buy Coach. With their acquisition, it meant my Kate Spade shopping days would come to an end.
[Since someone will ask what is wrong with Coach. I do not like to carry what everyone else is carrying. Everybody has a Coach bag. Even with Kate Spade, the majority of people usually choose to carry Coach over Kate Spade. So I’ll go with Kate Spade over Coach. It’s like Louis Vuitton in NYC. Everyone has a Louis (even I do). But I would rather carry my Fendi over my Louis any day, because everyone carries a Louis in NYC. Kind of goes along with the argument: If your friend jumps off a bridge… If everyone else is carrying it, am I going to be like everyone else or stand out on my own?]
Learning of Kate Spade’s death really made me sad. She was a brilliant designer. She really helped bring out the girly girl in me. I wanted to hug all of my Kate Spade at home and love them just a little bit more as my way of remembering her and the little bit of happiness she brought to me every single day. She was a dream to me for so many years.
I remember when I was in my 20s, standing in Saks Fifth Avenue staring at the Kate Spade bags on the shelves. I could not afford anything in that store. But during my lunch hours, I would walk around Saks and Neiman Marcus making a mental wish list of what my life would be like if I made more money. I would own a Kate Spade bag and a Fendi baguette.
I would ask the ladies behind the counters to let me see one of the bags up on the wall behind them. Sometimes all I wanted to do was just hold one, study it, before giving it back and saying to myself, “Someday.”
That bag my friend brought over…I found a similar bag with a dragonfly where the logo would go for $9 and carried that bag for years. It was like Kate Spade, but it wasn’t. The dragonfly represented the Kate Spade June Lane dishes I’ve been lusting over for the last 15 years. During those starvation years when I worked for the Attorney General, I liked to pretend it was my starter bag…the bag like Kate Spade’s bag that would one day lead me to a real authentic Kate Spade handbag.
It wasn’t until I moved to NYC that I could make all of those dreams come true of owning all of the fashion I dreamed of owning someday. That’s the crazy thing about New York. For the right dreamers, it is a place where you can make every single one of your dreams come true. Kate Spade was one of those dreamers. She made her dream come true here.
In 1998, Forbes released an article on Kate Spade’s beginnings. On the eve of her first trade show, she got this idea to put the label on the outside of the bag. So she spent all night sewing them on. The next day, Barneys ordered 18 bags, but told her to sew the labels back on the inside.
Incidentally, a Vogue editor saw the bags at the trade show too and decided to feature the bag in their magazine WITH the label on the outside. This is what making something go viral looked like back in the old days…before the internet and social media took over. So guess what Barneys had to do? They had to call her back and ask for more bags with the label on the OUTSIDE of the bag.
Her instincts paid off.
What Kate’s story tells us is that despite what the world tells you, listen to your instincts and follow your dreams. Stay true to yourself. Believe in your dream. That’s what she did. She took chances on her impulses and she created a whimsical and beautiful empire.
I will never understand the reasoning of selling her namesake, but for most of us, we were buying a piece of Kate Spade’s dream. Her dream brought so much happiness to so many of us. We were proud to wear her name. Every single thing that women are afraid to say they love, but they do (like glitter), she let us know that we are never too old to let our inner child shine. She gave us glitter, shine, pastels, sophistication, fun…but also that 1950s housewife vibe…even if we never become housewives.
Ms. Spade, thank you for the last 25+ years of your namesake. You brought so much happiness to so many women. That, right there, should have earned your wings. Your beauty and creativity will be greatly missed. If God decides you should continue to create up there in heaven, just make sure you stay true to who you are.
My prayers are with her family and friends as they grieve the loss of this beautiful visionary.
I am happy to announce that I am now an Amazon influencer. You will be able to shop my favorite picks and finds that I feature both here and on social media directly through Amazon.
If you check out Amazon.com, you may notice Cosmopolitan magazine appears with their own influencer page like the one below.
Influencer pages are a new and unique way to help our readers and followers find and purchase items we love or feature in our publications and on our social media accounts. If you are not already in love with Amazon, you may fall in love now that they are tapping your favorite influencers to work with.
This month, I am featuring my favorite picks for Valentine’s Day. Ladies, if you are looking for something to wear on date night, I got you.
For those wanting to know which kitchen gadgets I am using this year as I focus on my Love Yourself campaign, I have those listed. For those looking for the perfect gifts for your favorite cooks, I highly suggest the Instant Pot and the Click and Grow. You can find those items on my Amazon Page. [I will be talking more about the Instant Pot and Click and Grow in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!]
One thing I am asked a lot from the people at Amazon is what gadget I am using, especially when it comes to cameras. Amazon is getting ready to launch a new camera made specifically with influencers and fashion minded folks in mind. It’s not on the market yet, but keep a lookout for it. It’s listed on my Amazon Page (Echo Look).
When I get home tonight, it should be waiting for me, along with my groceries. And yes, I shop exclusively with Amazon Fresh for all of my grocery needs. Since they purchased Whole Foods and lowered the prices, they’ve improved the grocery selections for Fresh customers.
For the books I’ve read so far this year, you will be able to find them on my Amazon Page. My favorite beauty products are also listed. As many beauty products as I test out, I am only listing my favorites and items I use regularly that I swear by.
When I finish my kitchen update, you will understand why I listed a few home improvement products. It is perfect for the apartment dwellers who hate the way their kitchen looks. In other words, those products are a sneak peek into upcoming content here on the site.
I am very happy with this new collaboration. Amazon has been very helpful over these past few years when it comes to PW. They’ve helped me with the little details (like those ‘how in the hell do I do this’ questions). They are also the ones responsible for helping me set up the design of the PW Book Club page.
As a loyal customer of Amazon, I am amazed at what they come out with to make my life easier. As far as this site is concerned, I can’t even begin to tell you how much this company has been great to work with. They are so helpful. The fact they are creating products designed with influencers in mind, we may be seeing the beginning of the next phase for influencers.
After spending over the last decade curating the perfect handbag collection, I learned a few things about collecting couture. If you want to buy couture, you need to buy the right bag from the get go.
What do I mean by this?
When I first started out collecting couture handbags, I bought what I could afford. In the end, I was not happy with my choices. So I ended up reselling those bags before I realized I needed to buy the right bag.
Each designer has their own popular classic handbag design that is sold in a variety of prints and colors. Influencers snatch up these beauties and fill up their social media feeds with these IT bags. They develop a culture where every girl dreams of being just like them, carrying a black Chanel quilted clutch, a Celine Luggage, a Fendi Peekaboo, Hermés Birkin, or the Louis Vuitton Neverfull.
If you are going to go designer, buy the classics that have withstood the test of time. Not only will you love your purchase, you’ll feel happier that you chose the right bag. A collection, after all, must begin with the basics.
You do not always have to buy brand new. Sites like Fashionphile offer discounts on pre-owned designer handbags. My favorite part of their site is their Last Call and Outlet (on Ebay). Purchasing through a reputable company that backs the authenticity of their product is very important. It guarantees you are buying the real thing.
After you add these basics, you can begin to curate your collection around your needs (i.e. evening bags, travel bags, crossbodies) and your wants (i.e. artistic bags, limited edition, that cute $5 bag you find at a flea market). As a rule of thumb, always remember that it is better to have fewer, but better things. The only way you can achieve that is if you buy the correct item the first time around.
For those who know me, they know I have a rather large collection of designer handbags. From Céline to Fendi to Valentino and Prada, I have them all. To be honest, I’ve been collecting these designer handbags for over a decade now.
What people do not know is that I rarely pay full price for my bags. I purchase them in some of the most unlikeliest of places. Today, I am going to share with you how I curated my collection.
I do not remember how I came across Fashionphile, but they are responsible for my Hermes, Celine, Valentino, Prada and Balenciaga purchases. In just a few pictures, I’m going to explain how it was possible. As of this writing, this is their current inventory.
For Gucci, here are a few of their bags and pricing.
One of the reasons why I like to use Fashionphile is not only because of these incredible prices for pre-owned merchandise, but also their guarantee that these designer handbags are authentic. You take a gamble with places like Ebay, Tradesy, etc. when it comes to authenticity. Because, you need to know how to spot the real from the fake. You almost need to be an expert these days. With Fashionphile, they take the guesswork out of it and guarantee the authenticity.
Tips before you buy: 1. Check the “Condition” tab. It will give you a clear understanding of the bag’s real condition. The better the condition of the bag, the higher the price. If you can live with the condition stated, go ahead and buy it. 2. If you find something you love, but can’t buy it now, consider the Layaway option.
My best kept secret: They have a LAST CALL! Some of my amazing finds come from their LAST CALL section. Also hit up their outlet, which is hosted on Ebay. I snagged a Fendi pochette on there for $235.
Other places to peruse…if you want to buy a newer bag, but don’t want the price, try Overstock.com. I picked up my favorite Fendi tote bag for $1000. $600 off of the original price. [Warning: They have been known to get a crop of counterfeit bags every now and again. When they discover this, they will reach out to the customer and give them the option of returning it for a full refund…even if you used it.]
The Outnet and Net-a-Porter are excellent places to pick up a discounted couture handbag when they have their semi-annual sales. These sales usually occur in June and December.
Yoox is another go-to spot for all things designer. Check out their sale section.
For those who love vintage (like I do), I tend to get my vintage at places like Housing Works or Goodwill. The best way to shop Goodwill is to put the designer’s name in the search box.
How about you? What are some of your designer handbag collecting secrets?
[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through that link, this site may receive a commission from the sale. That commission helps to maintain this site and to buy treats for Matthew Lucifer. Thanks for reading and helping this site to grow. We love having you here.]
Fashion. Books. Home. Food. DIY. These are all things this site promises to deliver, but it has not really lived up to doing just that. Or perhaps, it was something I always wanted to deliver, but needed some sort of direction on how I would deliver that to you.
When people ask me about this site, I never really passionately talk about it. Perfectionist Wannabe has not been in a place I was proud of yet. I was honest about that with the people I met. I did not know how to find that sweet spot where I was content with what I was putting out there.
So I went on a mission to discover what exactly I loved about magazines. Blogs were no longer the answer to what I was looking for.
The Bold Type
As I flipped through a stack of magazines, Freeform’s The Bold Type, a show about three young women working for a fashion magazine, played in the background. The show centers around a writer, a secretary turned stylist, and a social media director. As the girls go from one disaster to another, it is the wisdom of their editor that resonates.
1) Write from your own perspective in life.
2) Print is dying. The electronic age is making print media obsolete, so it is important to focus only on that.
Taking these two points, I began to see a clearer vision of what I wanted.
To get a better handle on how book reviews should be done, I went to the best source: O Magazine. As I read through the book reviews, I saw the importance of writing about experiencing the book. Describing feelings eloquently is what ultimately gets people to read a book.
I read about one reviewer’s morning before she even sat down to read the book. She made me experience her morning with her. There was nothing extraordinary about it. Her morning was a regular morning, just like anyone else’s morning. But by the time she sat down to read the book, I wanted to read whatever she was reading, even though she told me so little about the book.
What made this particular review stand out is that it was written incredibly well. That is the beauty in writing a good review. The writer made me see reviews, not just book reviews, in a whole new light.
Finally, it began to occur to me what I was unhappy with. I was dissatisfied with the voice I used on this site. I was mimicking other bloggers and what they were doing instead of focusing on what I ultimately wanted to do with this site.
In the back of my mind, my friends who are well read, played in the back of my mind. Their comments on fast literature (i.e. the books saturating our market), started to bring me down. As much as I shared their opinions on great literature, it made me ask if what I write is great literature. Would they even think I was good enough?
This is where that sense of wanting to be perfect comes in. There is that fear of never being good enough for my friends to recommend my work to others. They are brutally honest (which I respect and need). What if what I was doing did not live up to their standards?
In our opinion, discovering an author or a book that is well written is difficult to find these days. If you think about blogs in this context, it is not so often you will come across a lot of well written blogs.
Magazines and newspapers house many of the best writers that live up to these standards. Yet, these types of publications are failing because of the saturation of mediocre or poorly written content flooding the market. That means there are a lot of incredible writers out there that go undiscovered by the masses.
There are a lot of blogs out there I love that are both inspiring and beautiful. I like their brand. Even though many of these bloggers are the first of their kind in their niche markets, there are many who try to emulate that same voice, which in turn creates a problem. That brand’s voice is copied, and then it becomes overdone, watering down the original voice. I know, because this site started to do the same thing. I ultimately did not want that.
The direction this site lacked was always something very simple. It was missing my voice and the way I wanted to write and present my views of the world. I spent too much time trying to be like the other bloggers. As a result, I forgot why I created this site to begin with…to share my own adventure into learning how to be a better version of myself.
A Sense of Direction
Most noteworthy of this entire adventure are the opportunities that presented itself to me over these past few years. From Martha Stewart’s American Made to Tribeca Film Festival to Book Expo America (BEA), the universe gave me every single tool I needed to discover how to create my vision for Perfectionist Wannabe.
As a result of those experiences, I learned that even though I believe I am not doing enough, the industry communicated the exact opposite. Publishers explained to me at BEA that I was doing the right thing. I did exactly what they were looking for in order to work with them. They decided who they were allowing into the BEA this year, and I was among the select few they allowed in. [Of all the publishers I spoke with, they only counted three bloggers that were allowed to attend, unlike previous years where the expo was saturated with bloggers.]
What all of these incredible experiences tell me is that I was always on the right track.
I finally had an AHA! moment somewhere between flipping through the magazines and binge watching The Bold Type. This site is my resumé. In the end, this site is about a brand. These past few years of discovery was about defining that brand. That is the only thing it’s been about. In a sense, this site is turning into a better version of itself.
So what can you look forward to? Better content. More continuous posts. A more active social media experience. Better inspiration. More importantly, my voice.
On a hot, muggy summer day in Bangkok, I crossed a bridge over a highway, following my mother and aunt to catch a bus. Locals sold their wares along the sidewalk. From lychee fruit to shoes, they lined up along the busy highway, selling their goods to passersby.
At this moment, my aunt believed it was time for me, at nine years old, to own my first handbag. We walked up to a vendor who displayed purses both big and small in an ocean of colors on a large blanket. There was only one that caught my eye. A little thing it was, but the only one I could see in a sea of handbags.
I pointed to it, “That one.”
My aunt asked for the price. “50 baht,” the man replied.
She did not have 50 baht on her at the time. She tried to haggle the price down, but the man saw my face and knew there was no way I was walking away without that purse. He stood firm, “50 baht.”
My aunt turned to me and pointed to the other bags. There must be another bag I was interested in. I pointed to the bag again. “I want that one.”
My mother intervened and tried to convince me that any purse was better than that one. I responded, “It is that one or none of them.”
She tried again, but I would not hear it. I walked off and had the only tantrum to this day I still remember. My mother tried to go after me, but I kept walking. I left them both behind.
Ten minutes later, my mother and aunt walk towards me with a black bag in hand. Inside is that little red purse. The man finally agreed to lower his price after others started chastising him for refusing to haggle.
Asking For What You Want
I should have felt guilty for what I put them through, but there was something about that cherry red purse. This was my way of finally getting what I wanted. Up until that moment, every time I tried to voice what I wanted, I was shot down. So I tried to take others into consideration. I would tell them what I wanted by guessing what they desired for me. Instead of choosing what I really wanted, I always picked something I did not want, because I felt bad asking for anything. Actually, I felt bad for wanting something different than what they were willing to give to me.
This was the first time I ever vocalized what I truly wanted and stood my ground. To be told no and to pick something else, I did not want to hear it. I had enough of it. I felt in that moment I was asked to be truthful, and then told I could not have it. That is a horrible thing to do to a child, especially if you know they never get what they want. I always chose something less, instead of the only thing on the shelf I was eyeing with a fierce passion.
When I was very young, my father bought me a cheeseburger Happy Meal every Sunday after church. I hated cheeseburgers, but I sat there every Sunday pretending I was happy to the point I was sick to my stomach. When I was old enough to see chicken nuggets were the same price as cheeseburgers, I asked my father if I could get that instead. He responded, “But you love cheeseburgers.”
I sat down at the table and tried not to cry. I vocalized what I wanted and was told I loved something else, when it was far from the truth. I really hated cheeseburgers. Just like cheeseburgers, I was being told along that Bangkok highway what I wanted when it was far from the truth.
The Little Red Purse Grows Up
As I grew older, I cherished that little red purse, but it started to become smaller and smaller. New bags caught my eye as my needs and desires changed. In my twenties, I fell in love with couture and Valentino. Seeing Valentino’s work was like being a voyeur in an orgasmic release of a man making love to the beauty of a woman and the end result was the most elaborate gowns you will ever feast your eyes upon. That was art.
His signature color is red, just like my first handbag. So it was only fitting that this year, as I contemplated which couture bag to add to my collection, I would stumble upon an adult version of my little red handbag. There she was…a Valentino couture red patent leather handbag equipped with little roses, just like my first handbag. This was the ultimate upgrade to my first, the one that started it all.
While there are women who race to purchase the rockstud collection from Valentino, I added a piece that means more to me than just a passing fad in our fast fashion world. When I saw it, I did not look at the price tag. I just added it to my cart. This bag was the little red purse I outgrew so many years ago. It had all of a sudden grown up. A piece of my childhood resurfaced in the form of Valentino, the designer who opened my eyes to the beauty of fashion embedded in each thread and embellishment.
Over the years of collecting vintage and couture handbags, I learned the importance of choosing the right bag for my collection. In the beginning, I bought what I could afford from each designer, instead of waiting to buy the bag I truly loved. I found that I should always buy the one that speaks to me, the ones I fall in love with the first time I lay eyes upon it.
It is just like that little red purse from Bangkok. It was the only one I wanted and no other handbag would do. It was that bag or nothing. Why? Because just like falling in love, when you see the one you love, in that moment you’ve fallen, there is no one else in that great sea. All you can see is that one and no one else will do.
[This post contains affiliate links. I receive commission for purchases or clicks made through links in this post.]
It’s that time of year when women across America start thinking about their back to school fall wardrobe. What is wonderful about transitioning from summer to autumn is that we can still wear some of those summer favorites into the fall months. All we have to do is add a layer or two, a fall color and we’re good to go.
Consider adding an autumnal color to a bright yellow jumpsuit. Add a sweater or sweatshirt to a light flowing skirt. Throw on a moto jacket over a maxi dress or throw a pair of cropped or leather pants underneath.
Here are my picks for items under $50 from the site boohoo.com. They have such cute stuff. I was completely surprised by how cheap everything was. My friend has a rule: Everything she buys must be $25 or under. This site passed her test in so many ways.
Make sure to check out their shoes while you are there (especially the sneakers). You can find cheaper versions of Miu Miu and Gucci classic sneakers for next to nothing!
I receive commission for purchases or clicks made through links in this post.
The Sale: Save BIG on Brand-New Fall Arrivals at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. FREE Shipping. FREE returns. When:Now through August 6, 2017.
It seems like back to fall (i.e. school) shopping for adults is starting earlier and earlier each year. Since the kids are buying their supplies in July now (the time I buy my office supplies), we have to start thinking of our own fall wardrobe, because September is coming!!!
Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale is from now until August 6th. Here are 50 of my favorites (plus don’t forget the Spanx).
Since I am redecorating my home, I wanted to come up with a theme that would make me happy. So I decided to make my space joyful, serene and calm. The bedroom is the spot where I add a little glamour with crystal chandeliers and a bed you don’t want to get out of.
I basically sleep in my closet. That is how I describe my bedroom because my closet can’t hold my wardrobe, so the prized items come out of the closet and become part of the decor. Color is the key to creating a gorgeous place to sleep at night. Use soft colors, neutrals, lilacs or blues to create a calm space, then add ONE bright color like pink (see the Oliver Gal print) to make you smile in the morning.
My ombré wall in three shades of blue plus my oversized Chanel Oliver Gal painting in pink makes me smile every single morning, because it is so calm and beautiful to look at each day. You should always decorate in a way that will make you smile before you start your day.
Keep in mind that less is better. Don’t overdo it. Keep it simple. Instead of an art wall, consider buying one oversized piece of artwork. It’s less clutter.
JCP’S BLACK FRIDAY IN JULY SALE
The Sale: JCPenney is having their Black Friday in July Sale. When: Now until July 29, 2017.
Have you shopped the big ShopBop sale yet? You have only a few hours left to save an extra 25% off select items (including sale). Use code SOLUXE at checkout. Want to save even more? Get 2% cash back when you shop through Ebates.
My favorite is this J.O.A. top on sale for $49. The most unique find though is the raincoat for your handbag. Why didn’t I think of something like that? It’s not a bad price. Only $11.
If you shop wisely, you may be able to put together an entire head to toe look for under $100. Now, that is a challenge that would make shopping this sale fun.
Here are my favorite picks for under $50. Happy shopping. Sale ends at 11:59PM (PT).
[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]
As a rule of thumb, never spend a lot of money on items that will last only a few seasons. Invest in items that will last a lifetime, both in quality and in style. The green floral Alice + Olivia dress will be in style 40 years from now. The style has already been popular since the 1960’s and it is still going strong.
Stick to A-line skirts and dresses for staying power. It flatters every woman. The style is forgiving if you gain a little weight below the waist.
Also, consider adding a few artistic pieces into your wardrobe. Art never goes out of style. The Gucci boots will still look fabulous 20 years from now. Also, the Loft jacket will still look amazing decades later over an evening dress, your Sunday’s best, or at the office.
Most importantly, you have to learn what YOUR STYLE is. If you do not know what your style is, consider going through your closet in the KonMari fashion. Look at each piece of clothing to determine what fits and which items bring you joy. Keep only the clothing that fits and brings you joy.
After you complete this task, take a look at what remains. In those items that remain, you will discover your own personal style. The key to finding that style all lies in the joy you find in the pieces that remain. In a way, you will discover who you are in the fashion sense.
From there, you will get a sense of how to build your wardrobe, focusing only on items that compliment your style. There will always be a lot of trial and errors, but discovering your style will only help you become wiser when you continue to invest in new items for your wardrobe.
[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]
Every NYC It Girl goes to J.Crew for the basics. Striped shirts, stadium coats, button up shirts, t-shirts, skirts and blazers are all in their arsenal.
J.Crew is my go-to for every single preppy basic a woman needs in her closet. Their basics are not always so basic. They put a fresh spin on it. Sometimes a striped t-shirt will have extremely long buttoned cuffs. Each year, they release their classic stadium coat in a new eye alluring color.
The items from J.Crew withstand the test of time. Each season, I buy the exact same thing in a new color. I have the same striped shirt in several colors and lengths. I own several stadium coats in various colors. T-shirts come in every shade of the pretty rainbow that J.Crew plucks out of the sky.
The most incredible thing about buying J.Crew basics is that every season they showcase those basic items and show you how to style it for the new season. Whoever thought to wear a button up under a t-shirt? J.Crew thought of it. Why not tuck part of your shirt in and leave the rest out? J.Crew thought of that, too.
They bank on their It Girls already owning the exact same basic products they advertise. That is why their catalogs showcase each of those items, but present you with a new way to wear those basics each season.
That mint top you purchased last year will go perfectly with their new tulle skirt this season. Those pink pants you bought last season will match the new vibrant pink shoes this season. That striped basic top, you should try pairing with a floral pencil skirt. The bright yellow top you bought and have no idea how to wear it, don’t worry, it will go with this season’s pink skirt or with the emerald green jacquard pants this winter.
J.Crew provides inexpensive basic pieces you can play up or down each season. They bank on their customers owning the basics from their collection. Their catalog each season shows you exactly how to wear the current fashion trends with the basics you already own. That is the beauty of J.Crew. In a way, it is very French chic.
What to Buy
Here are pieces every NYC it girl has in her closet. For those new to J.Crew, you should focus on purchasing a black blazer, striped t-shirt, a colorful assortment of t-shirts in various grades (the weight of the tee is different according to season), a stadium coat, trench coat, a white button down shirt, and a cashmere sweater.
You can go neutral if you want, but try buying items in various colors. Each season, those colors are reintroduced in a new way, paired with an item you may already own, or you can invest in.
J.Crew is a classic way of learning how to build up your wardrobe with qualitative pieces that have staying power.
If you love fashion, especially the industry gossip, you probably read the Vestoj interview with former British Vogue fashion editor Lucinda Chambers. If you haven’t read it, read the linked article above, because it is very informative.
I want to point out the last part of the article, which I believe is very important for the future of magazines, newspapers and blogging.
From Lucinda Chambers’s Interview
There are very few fashion magazines that make you feel empowered. Most leave you totally anxiety-ridden, for not having the right kind of dinner party, setting the table in the right kind of way or meeting the right kind of people.
Truth be told, I haven’t read Vogue in years. Maybe I was too close to it after working there for so long, but I never felt I led a Vogue-y kind of life. The clothes are just irrelevant for most people – so ridiculously expensive. What magazines want today is the latest, the exclusive. It’s a shame that magazines have lost the authority they once had.
They’ve stopped being useful. In fashion we are always trying to make people buy something they don’t need. We don’t need any more bags, shirts or shoes. So we cajole, bully or encourage people into continue buying. I know glossy magazines are meant to be aspirational, but why not be both useful and aspirational? That’s the kind of fashion magazine I’d like to see.
This article really made me think over what I wanted to do with this site. For those who come here often, you may notice there are slight changes occurring around the site. I started working with sponsors and book publishers, even Amazon, to create a better site, one that generates an income.
After I spend so many hours monetizing the site, putting up legal disclosures and posting content, I have to ask myself if the posts are in line with the core values of the site. I realize that in order for the site to generate an income I have to have the monetary posts along with the real content…the stuff my original readers come for.
I was reminded by a film director yesterday that I needed to keep in line with the goal of the site. The ‘fluff’ pieces generate a lot of hits, but it is not qualitative content. It is not the soul of what this site means.
When people ask me about the site’s name, they fear the word ‘perfectionist.’ When I explain that’s why it says ‘wannabe,’ and how we are not perfect, but we all strive to be, it makes sense. It is the perfect title, because those who strive to be a better version of themselves, strive to perfect themselves in the things they do, but always fall short. We always learn something new every single day on how to be better than we were yesterday.
I don’t like consumerism, yet I participate in it. I own a rather large wardrobe. I KonMari’d the hell out of that thing every season. I am still nowhere closer to having only a few items, because everything brings me joy.
I still buy handbags, even though what I pay is 2-3 months worth of rent in NYC for one bag. I bought two Celine handbags this year, but I didn’t stop there. I bought a Prada, a Balenciaga, a Valentino and a Fendi. This is all in the state of perfecting my own fantasy wardrobe [curating a wardrobe that I always dreamed of having].
The reality of my wardrobe is that I have low end and high end, just like every serious fashionista out there. I still shop at Gap, Ann Taylor, Loft and Forever 21. They are my low end stores, because they dish out quality. I still own tank tops I bought 15 years ago from the Gap. That is what I mean by quality. That is how a wardrobe is supposed to be built…on quality.
There are a lot of trials and errors with fashion because we don’t know if an item we purchase is going to unravel or discolor after the first or 100th wash. We don’t know how many events we are going to have to go to where we will need a different outfit each time.
We can’t go to work wearing the same outfit two times a week. I know there are women that do that and I don’t agree with it, especially if it is not a uniform and you can afford to buy clothes.
I also have a hard time believing people launder their clothes 2-3 times a week, especially if you are in NYC. If you’re a stay at home parent, ok, maybe I can see it.
Building The Perfect Wardrobe
People always comment that I take good care of my clothes. The truth is that I have a month’s worth of pants, mainly black, that I wear. I stick to the same brands: Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, NY & Co., and Lane Bryant. I have the pants tailored to fit. Those pants have lasted me 15 years and still going.
Most items in my closet I wear once a year. There are some items that I layer or are easy pieces that I wear once a month. I donate anything that does not fit well, or after a washing the stain won’t come out.
I wear each of my couture pieces once a year, because people notice it. These pieces are treasured pieces that are only worn when I want to feel beautiful and extraordinary.
I switch out my handbags all of the time, because that is one item I do not want to show any wear. They are collector’s pieces to me. I may love my Fendi tote and want to use it all of the time, but I force myself to use the other 100 bags in my wardrobe. If I don’t, that Fendi won’t last long.
Keep in mind, I was not in my 20’s when I started buying couture. That’s when I started dreaming of the ‘someday’ fantasy wardrobe. I was in my mid-30’s when I purchased my first Valentino.
It takes time to build your perfect closet…and I think that is what all women aspire to do. They aspire to perfect their closet.
Debt For Fashion
We look to magazines, celebrities, fashion icons, fashion bloggers, etc. on how to dress each season. There are $14,000 gowns, $5,000 handbags, $3,000 shoes that are showcased in magazines like Vogue. Somehow we are supposed to own these items.
But the truth is, how many of those items are actually sold? A celebrity doesn’t want to be caught in the same dress as another celebrity. So who are the people buying these dresses? We can assume it’s the uber-rich, but people like to pretend they are in that crazy rich category.
We live in a culture where people live this fantasy life that they are one of the cool kids, because they own a Birkin or have the latest IT fashion off the runway. They have an in-disposable amount of income where they can buy all of these things, when in reality they probably just have a lot of credit card debt.
Let’s talk about that credit card debt. I bet you didn’t know that a lot of fashion bloggers and people that work in fashion are in serious debt because of fashion. Thank God for Rent the Runway in NYC. That’s been a lifesaver for many that work in the fashion industry and need to wear designer clothing daily. But that debt? It is real.
People in fashion do not make a lot of money unless they are one of the big time people. There are very few that are making millions of dollars a year like Chiara Ferragni from The Blonde Salad. Even the fashion bloggers I follow have a day job and freelance on the side.
Sure, fashion bloggers make more money than hockey bloggers, but it takes a lot of business smarts to create that income. It’s not just about those invites to fashion shows and where you are sitting. It takes more than a great Instagram photo to get Edward Enniful’s attention (and yes, I’m one of the lucky ones). It takes character and knowing how to market and project yourself.
If you’re lucky, a designer or retailer will work with you. It’s what you create in that relationship that determines your success. Some bloggers work for free stuff. The more serious bloggers demand payment for space on their site and use of their brand.
What is In
Most people pretend to live extravagant interesting lifestyles. That is the content that is IN. They give the illusion that you should want to be them. You need to be jealous of them and what they are doing or wearing. But like Lucinda Chambers says, she is not living that perfect lifestyle. She is living far from it.
What magazines and everyone is selling is a FANTASY. They want to show you that living a perfect life where you live, eat, dress, and do extravagant things are very real. You have perfect, beautiful friends, lovers and significant others. Beautiful people surround you. You workout and are super thin with incredible skin and hair. Your home looks like the pages out of an Elle Decor magazine. They are selling you a dream that will never come true.
Looking Perfect Is Not What It Seems
I’ll admit that right now, I have the most amazing ombre wall with a piece of Chanel artwork from Oliver Gal. It looks amazing and brings me joy every time I look at it. I still have yet to finish painting the other three walls, because I can’t decide if I want the entire living room to be ombre or one color. If I decide on one color, which color will that be?
I still have paint canisters for the living room and kitchen sitting around staring back at me every day. There are tiles that still need to go up, artwork that needs to go up or be sold, and stuff all over the kitchen table. My plants are all dying. I keep finding new places where the cat puked.
Trust me, this entire home is still a work in progress no matter how many awesome things I bring into it. If only we could purchase just a few things to decorate our home and it looks exactly like the magazine ad.
I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that have the same predicament as me. You get an idea in your head of how you want to decorate. You try one thing after the other and you hope somehow it will all come together until you are inundated with so much stuff.
Pretty soon the clutter starts forming. Nothing matches. There is no theme. Your home looks nothing like the one in the magazine where you got the idea to begin with!
I oftentimes look at the pictures from magazine spreads and ask where all of the paper is. Where do they put all of the pieces of paper they collect? You can’t tell me paper isn’t in their home. I know it has to be somewhere. Where do they hide it?
What I’m trying to get at is that nobody has a perfect home or life. It’s just smoke and mirrors. Even the Kardashians photoshop their images, just like the majority of magazines and advertisements do. We are left to believe that no one has stretch marks, acne, cellulite or a layer of fat hanging from their arms. Everybody has teeny tiny waistlines.
The false narratives are the issue in our world today. We live in a world where everything is fake. We no longer know what is real anymore. We watch the world around us and believe that we will have a better life if we own X. We are not somebody unless we are rich and famous, so we must all aspire to be that. No one will love us if we are fat, ugly, have skin problems, balding issues, etc. People will hate us if we are not perfect.
That is the current narrative. No matter how many people try to create positive narratives, they still feel small when someone comes along and rips apart everything they’ve worked so hard for to be accepted. They are shamed for being themselves, something different than the perfect narrative.
Be Useful. Be Aspirational.
Getting back to the quote above…what is wrong with being useful and aspirational? How can we create a new narrative that is both useful and aspirational without selling something fake? The truth is we are all wannabes. We all strive to be perfect and fit into that perfect narrative.
But we are not perfect. Perfection is an illusion. It is not something attainable without adding some lies on top of it. An airbrush here, tons of makeup there, a photoshop here and there…they’re all lies that cover up the truth. Why can’t the truth be beautiful? Why can lies be the only thing that is beautiful?
I challenge everyone to create a new narrative. Be useful. Be aspirational. Don’t be a sellout that only goes where money beckons. Be behind the product you pitch to your readers. Be real with what is truly going on in your world. We need to be the change.
Over the past couple of years Forever 21 has become my go to source for items I can’t find in the big department stores. When I was looking for maxi cardigans that go all the way to your ankles, no place had it. I stopped into Forever 21, just by chance, and they had it. Trust me when I say I stocked up.
I spent two years looking for a satin jacket. The search finally came to an end when I found one online at F21. It fit so well and looked gorgeous. I received so many compliments on it.
I am a stickler about quality. I find F21’s quality has improved over the years. I bought a couple of tops the last time I was in Las Vegas (2 or 3 years ago). They are still holding up very well.
Just recently, I was shopping around for the Miu Miu Lace Up Ballet Flats. I loved the style, but not the price. Something told me to check F21. I found the exact same shoe for around $20. [See post]
There are very few shops that are on my list of approved ‘low end’ stores. F21 made the cut just because they seem to have whatever obscure piece of fashion I dream up that I want to add to my closet, and it’s not crap. Each item I purchased has staying power. I love their shoes and jewelry, too. I also purchased a few handbags from them to add to my collection.
With all of the 4th of July sales coming up, this is one you will definitely need to shop, my dear fashionistas. Mark it down!
When I was in my early 20’s, fresh out of college, I worked for a political magazine. My boss was a sought after political consultant who was on TV all of the time. He introduced me into the world of the elite and society.
I love fashion. I bought books on how to dress for political society, as well as any event that could come my way. I picked up a part-time job in the Men’s Polo Ralph Lauren department and learned about clothes in a new way. I learned about quality.
I had a steady progression. I wore Ralph Lauren for years, then Kenneth Cole. In later years, it grew to BCBG Max Azria and Calvin Klein. As I reached my mid-30s, I switched to couture, thanks to a $2 Valentino dress I got at The Outnet clearance.
I still shop at The Gap, Ann Taylor, Forever 21, Loft and Banana Republic. But I also buy the investment pieces from the couture brands, because I know the pieces are going to last a very long time.
My weakness though are handbags. I have a collection. I started off with the designer labels (Kenneth Cole, etc.). Then I bought my first Valentino bag second hand. Next, I bought a Prada, Versace, Louis Vuitton and Gucci. I realized that I could build my couture handbag collection without spending thousands of dollars on brand new. I learned that if I want a brand new bag, I shop around because I might find it for a cheaper price elsewhere.
Today, I’m sharing Gucci finds under $1k. I paid $30 for my first vintage Gucci. It is a black leather handbag that I still own to this day. The girl didn’t know if it was real or not, but I looked at it closely and saw that it was indeed the real thing.
When you buy vintage or secondhand, you need to know how to spot a fake from the real, especially if it does not come with its own documentation. There are plenty of instructional guides out there on how to spot fakes from the real deal. Louis Vuitton is the only brand that is becoming more and more difficult to spot a fake from the real one. LV is the only brand I will not purchase secondhand unless it is direct from a licensed retailer (like Portero or Fashionphile).
If you are looking to invest in a couture handbag, here are a few rules: 1) Never, ever buy white. It gets dirty and discolors quickly. 2) When buying leather, make sure to buy it in a color that ages well. Black and Tan colors age very well as the wear progresses. 3) Try to avoid suede for the long run. It does not age well. 4) Go for functionality. Totes are usually the way to go. Go for leather or a material that wears well in the rain and is easy to clean off. The Louis Vuitton Neverfull is one of the most popular bags. Every major designer has their own version. This type of tote is the best investment for bags that pack a punch. 5) Buy a classic look, i.e. one that will last for years to come.
Take a look at some of my Gucci favorites under $1k. Maybe you’ll find your first Gucci in this batch!
Every woman should have at least one handbag that is a piece of art. When you place it on a shelf, it is a bag you look at adoringly.
Maybe it is a designer bag that you saved up for, or one you found on sale, or that gem you found in a thrift store. Perhaps you carried it during a special moment in your life. Whatever it is, you must have that one bag that you look at with great fondness.
This bag is your go to bag during those special occasions when you want to show off something extraordinary.
Handbags are their own works of art. Find one that brings you great joy every time you look at it.
Here are 50 bags for your consideration. Maybe you’ll find something you love, or one that will inspire you to go find your next great find.
I recently added a Balenciaga Agneau bag to my purse collection. When I first moved to Manhattan, I saw these bags on the street and had to have one. I bought two before finding out they were Balenciaga knock offs. So of course, I had to buy the real thing. Ten years later, I remembered I wanted one, so I added one to my collection. It is one of my favorite new bags. It fits so much stuff! [The Real Real]
I am stepping out of my comfort zone a lot lately, daring to wear red. In the past few months, I donned a red dress here and there and received many compliments.
These dresses are not necessarily dresses that show off my assets. They are just showstoppers because of the color. It literally stops people in their tracks, just like a stop light does. People take notice when they see red.
I wore this Kate Spade ensemble to the office this week. A lot of the ladies stopped to remark at how cool it looked. It was light and airy. The matching bag though is my favorite.
Before you think you cannot afford to spend $726 on an outfit like this, get it for $139 like I did through Rent the Runway Unlimited. You choose any three items out at any time for $139/month. It is perfect for those who love expensive clothing, have a constant rotating closet, or just want to be a minimalist. Or you can just buy it because you have to own it.
Personally, I own way too much clothing as is, but every now and again, I like the thought of having something new to wear. I usually wear an item once every season (because I have that many clothes). It’s nice that RTRU is around so I can minimize my closet and still have something fun to wear to work and out for the evening without adding to my closet.
Don’t be scared to wear red. Sometimes just trying it out will amaze you. If you’re afraid to make that bold of a statement, start small with a red accessory. Even a red jacket is a step in the right direction. Red has a misnomer of being a sexy color. It can also be a color of energy, strength, power, passion, love and desire. It can be all of those things or one of those things…it just depends on how you wear it.
Here are all of my favorite red fashion items. What is your favorite?