Friday, April 24, 2009

Steals and Deals

My husband has accused me, on a number of occasions, of recoiling in horror at sale items. I can't say that he's completely off-base.In my defense, it's not necessarily the full 200 percent retail markup that I love, it's more that I like the fashion-y aspect of designer clothing and that costs money.

The tides have been turning over the last few years, though, with high-end contemporary designers hopping in bed with big-box retailers like Target, WalMart and more.

Target and Topshop were the pioneers of this trend and now, just about everywhere you turn, there is some partnership brewing between an of-the-moment designer and discount retailer. Tack on a dwindling economy and there's no stopping such collaborations.

Charlotte Ronson (yes, her sister is Samantha of Samantha/Lilo fame) and JC Penny are one of the latest to embark on this designer styles-for-less roller coaster ride. Recession-proof prices start at under $10 for a tunic to $20 for a dress. Can't beat that with a stick.

So, with all these labels swirling around at my local department store/retailer, I had to have at least a look. I went to a local Target and purchased a couple of super-cute Thakoon pieces. The gray and black stripe knit top sewn together in a geometric patterns was extremely cute -- and you can't go horribly wrong with a knit top in terms of quality. However, some of the more fashion-y pieces -- like a blue and green color-blocked mini tank dress made out some cotton/poly blend that felt silky-ish -- didn't fare as well. The fit was decent (not amazing), but then again, it was only $20. The downfall of the garment, though, was that it fell apart after a couple of washes (it was marked "machine washable").

I have to admit, I felt just a tad vindicated in my clothing snobbery. I'd recommend shopping these labels for trendier pieces, but spend a little more when it comes to those special investment pieces (little black dress, trench coats, etc.). Cause guess what? At the end of the day, you get what you pay for.

*Photo of I ♥ Ronson line at JC Penny courtesy of Nylon Magazine.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pancakes Anyone?

I usually like to focus on what I consider to be the Good Witches of fashion, but occasionally, I am left so dumbfounded by a Bad Witch, that I have to, have to share.

A friend recently sent me this TMZ picture of Mischa Barton and I actually stared at it for a good minute. As cringe-worthy as the outfit is, it wasn't the shock-value of the ensemble that gave me pause.

First, let's just note that every last thing she has on should be incinerated. But, the centerpiece of the outfit -- those pants, good heavens, those pants -- not only conjured up visions of genies and flapjacks, but awakened a long-dormant memory I had tucked away many moons ago.

Back when I was 13, I...owned a pair of shorts...they were from The Limited...I'm sorry, this is difficult for me...and...well...they had...down the front..the very same fold-over flaps! Not only did the flaps fold over into two enormous triangles down the front of my shorts, they also were highlighted with contrasting stripes!!! Oh the horror!

They were white denim, with a black belt, and the top folded over into huge black-and-white stripe triangles...with buttons! I loved wearing them with my Limited tank top and my Keds, which I now only see on women over 60. I accessorized with huge gold bamboo hoop earrings (still love those). My crowning glory? Hair curled and teased to within an inch of its life.

Sigh. It feels so much better to confess and to admit that we all have our fashion foibles. I am just forever thankful that my missteps have been memorialized by a Polariod and not TMZ.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Remove My Fingers Please

There are just way too much temptation in the world of online discounted designer duds. The latest and greatest in getting a deal on high-end fashion is Net-a-Porter's The Outnet.

Just go ahead and add this one to your list of sites that
a.) regularly offer discounted designer clothing (a-la Bluefly) or
b.) create frenzied buying with designer "pop-up sales" (check out Gilt Groupe and Haute Look).

The sales on the latter group usually don't last more than 72 hours so ladies, take your mark...Haute Look even has a timer going on its site for each individual sale.

A girl could go nuts...and this girl has.

So, back to The Outnet. The site breathes new life into Net-a-Porter's out-of-season designs and boast markdowns of 30-80 percent. In an effort to keep up with the pop-up-sale Joneses, the site also will feature limited-time offers much like those sample-sale sites. The next one is slated for April 24 and word on the street is it's all about spring dresses that are 80 percent off.

Because it is an offshoot of Net-a-Porter, it's a pretty safe bet that shoppers will have some coveted fashion names to choose from. But,really, how is the selection? How are the prices? And, what range of sizes do they offer?

Went for a little looksie this morning and let me tell you...not disappointed. The selection is broad. There are an array of denim, tops, jacket, coats and more -- all as tightly edited as you would expect from Net-a-Porter. In other words, no junk. It's clothing that I really want; not something that's so-so, but gets ratcheted up in people's minds by the brand name.

The standouts are the dresses from the usual suspects: Alexander McQueen, Vera Wang, Marchesa, Chloe, Phillip Lim, Nina Ricci, and much, much more. The discounts are as-advertised with markdowns reaching 80 percent.

As for the sizing, I was pleasantly surprised. I mean we are talking about off-season fashion here. But, I found that there were quite a few styles that had complete (or pretty darn close to complete) size runs. My guess is that won't last for long.

At any rate, thought I'd whet your appetite with some highlights from the site.

Rick Owen's draped silk dress. Excuse me, let me just take care of that bit of drool...

Oh, Oscar, my Oscar.Delectable.

You can never, ever go wrong with a Burberry trench -- classic, modern, sexy. Mmmm, mmmmm, good!

Jonathan Saunders' color-blocked pleated mini. Yum.

Bottega Veneta's asymmetrial draped dress -- looking off center has never looked so on point. Yummy.

Alexander McQueen turns out a crisp and sophisticated Asian-inspired piece with his silk Mikado dress. Please note the fanned tulle skirt insert. Yummy, yum, yum, yum.