Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kmart? Seriously?

If you're read my blog, you know that I have no problem buying clothing at discount stores and on eBay.
Well, in this post I talked about investing in a leather jacket. Kmart has a really cute one! It's not real leather but it's a classic style. So, if you're not ready to spend your cash on a real leather jacket (or you just don't wear leather or fur), this one will do in a pinch. It comes in black, grey and white. For $41.99, it can't be beat. Check it out.
Kmart Jaclyn Smith Zip Front Faux Leather Jacket

Monday, September 27, 2010

Building a Stylish Wardrobe: Finding "It"

"Fashions Fade, Style is Eternal" --Yves Saint Laurent

Some women just have "it." She never looks out of place, even while wearing 4-inch heels to a preschool meeting. Most people just look like they're trying too hard. That's why it's so important to find clothing that really speaks to you. Building a stylish wardrobe starts with identifying your triggers, your likes and your dislikes. This took me years! I still buy stuff I know doesn't work with my lifestyle. But, as they is blind and a cocktail dress at a high school football game isn't too out of place, is it?

In part one of a multi-part series on building a stylish and functional wardrobe, here are some tips for getting started.

1. Establish a purpose. Do you work outside the home or do you specialize in carpool and class parties? For me, I'm a work-from-home mom. So, most of my clothing needs to be stylish yet comfortable enough for the park. Now, take a look at your closet. Does it match the lifestyle you lead? Mine sure doesn't! I get dressed up for church and occasional nights out but my closet looks like I spend evenings socializing at fundraisers and high-brow functions. So, I've had to consciously edit what I buy to avoid the dressy items I love.

2. Identify your triggers. OK, I live in Florida but I love fall/winter clothing. I'm a work-from-home mom, but I love sequins, silk, beads and leather. What's wrong with this picture? Nothing if you can identify your fashion weaknesses and control your urge to overspend in these irrational categories. Which, I'm, ummm, still working on. What type of clothing are your drawn to? Does it fit your lifestyle? And, do you really need another pair of jeans? The answer is, "Yes, if the others in your closet are too uncomfortable to wear!" If the jeans you have don't fit your body, your lifestyle and are uncomfortable, get rid of them!

3. Figure it out. I have a short waist and am pretty much straight up and down, so I avoid anything too unstructured, anything with an empire waist and anything too "maternity" looking. I also tend to avoid capris, but that's because I have a general dislike for them. :) What looks good on you? Take this quiz (click on quiz) to determine your body type. Just because straight leg jeans and mini skirts are popular doesn't mean you should own them. This is an exercise that requires a good friend or spouse. One pass at your closet, and you'll probably have at least 10 items that don't fit right, don't look good on you or are just plain out of date. You can love a piece of clothing, but if it doesn't look good, why keep it?

OK, you've identified that you need a work wardrobe with some pieces that can double for casual wear on the weekends. You've identified what you truly need, not just what you want. And, you've figured out what styles look best on you. So, let's get shopping.

My next article will be on your top must-have skirts, pants and jeans.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Weekly Loves!

A girl can dream, right? Here are the items I'm lusting over this week.
From Talbots!

I really want a leather dress this season. This one is from Diane Von Furstenberg.

And these from Target, they look like Frye. I can't figure out how to make a bigger picture. So, here's the link.

Monday, September 20, 2010

3 Fall/Winter Closet Investments

When I look at my go-to pieces of clothing for Fall, a few items pop up over and over. Here are my recommendations for your three casual Fall/Winter must have investments. Notice I said investments--they will cost you some cash, but if you buy classic styles (not trendy), they will last you for years.

1. Black pants. Yeah, yeah, yeah...I hear you. It's on everyone's list. But, a great fitting, bootcut pair of black trousers is a necessity. I have invested in pants by Theory over the years. Yes, they're expensive if you buy them new. But, not if you ebay them! Click here for an ebay search on Theory pants: Click Here.

I have a few pairs that have lasted me more than 7 years already. They are a perfect travel- weight trouser in a non-wrinkle poly/lycra blend. Don't want to buy on ebay? Gap has some awesome pants right now. I got mine free...yes free! Because I'm a BR cardholder I got a promotion in the mail that if I tried on a pair of the pants, I would get them free. I suggest the Perfect Trouser or the Modern Boot. I actually got the True Straight. Get them here.

Here are my favorite Theory pants, click here. Search for them on ebay. They do run a little narrow in the thigh, but fit pretty true to size otherwise. Go to Bloomies, Neimans, Nordstroms or Saks and try on a few pairs, write down the style info and size, then search ebay. They run long, so you'll probably need to have them hemmed. I have one pair hemmed for flats and another left long for heels. Hint: If you wear pants with heels, make sure the hems graze the floor to avoid looking like you're wading through flood waters.

2. Leather jacket. OK, I told you I had a bit of a "thing" for leather clothing. And, no I don't mean that way, so get your mind out of the gutter. :) A true investment piece is a leather jacket. Don't go for a trendy style. I suggest you get a blazer style or simple fitted jacket. Black is always a go-to color, but I find myself reaching for a red Isabella Bird jacket (11 years old!) and a caramel colored Ann Taylor jacket (8 years old!) more often than not. A fitted style looks just as good with a skirt as it does with jeans or pants. I even throw mine on over dresses. And, when I worked in an office, I would wear the leather jacket as a suit jacket.

3. Boots. Two must-buys: flat knee-high boots and high-heeled ankle boots. You can wear the flat boots with a pair of jeans or slim pants/leggings tucked in or with a casual dress. The ankle boots fancy up your pants, look great with tights and dresses/skirts and can be worn with trouser jeans for a night on the town. Some of my favorites are:

1. The pretty ruffle boot from Banana Republic Click Here

2. The Cecile Cap Toe Bootie from Ann Taylor Click Here

3. The Peter Over the Knee Riding Boot from Ann Taylor Loft Click Here

All of these can be had for 40% off if you wait for the sale coupons. I think Ann Taylor is currently running a 40% off promo.

Of course, I have a whole list of must-haves for your wardrobe, but these three items, along with some accessories such as statement necklaces, scarves and belts, will truly transform many of your outfits from blah to fabulous!

Monday, September 13, 2010

eBay is Your Fashion Best Friend

by Tracey Tresch Velt on Monday, September 13, 2010 at 3:11pm

I LOVE eBay! I've been selling and buying since 1995, shortly after they first launched. In fact, I've gotten everything from Diane Von Furstenberg dresses and vintage brooches to Tory Burch leather pants and Oilily children's clothing on eBay--at prices not even close to retail.

I have learned a few tricks along the way. Here are some ideas for snagging a great deal on clothing, shoes and accessories.

1. Know Your Size. Since most eBay sellers don't allow returns, it's vital you know your size before you bid on an item. I've been known to go to Bloomingdales and try on several brands of jeans to determine what I like best. Then, I'll write down the brand, style, size, wash and fit. I get online and search on eBay using those terms. Also, most stores such as JCrew and Banana Republic, have standard sizing. If you're not positive, size up. Chances are you can have it altered if it's a tad too big. You'll be amazed at how many items "in the stores" are on eBay--even from places like Anthropologie and JCrew. Hint: Know what looks good on you! Buying on eBay is not the time to try out a new or trendy style.

2. Set up a Search. eBay allows you to set up a favorites search using keywords. For example, I love the French brand Catimini for children. So, I search on "Catimini" and each day I get an email with thumbnail pictures of the newly listed items by that brand. It gives you a chance to snag a great item using "Buy It Now" before it gets bid up past what you're willing to spend. You can do the same with favorite sellers. For example, there are a few moms on eBay who have a daughter a little older than Sofia. Sofia is the perfect size for their outgrown clothing. I will get emails when these moms list new items.

3. Don't buy purses. Many purses on eBay are fake and it's hard to tell from the listing. Some red flags: the seller is from Hong Kong or China, the seller has tons of the same purse up for sale and the seller has negative feedback that says something about fakes. If you're willing to take a chance on an item, make sure you're buying it from an individual buyer who just cleaned out her closet. Even a ton of positive feedback isn't a guarantee. Many times buyers have no idea that the item they bought was counterfeit.

4. Check the feedback. So, you find a great JCrew jacket, the price is right and you're waiting for just the right moment to bid on it. But, you notice that the seller has a 95% positive rating. Check it out, many times the negative feedback is from isolated incidents. But, if you see 2 or more feedback notations that say a buyer never received the item or that the item was not described accurately, beware!

5. Make that offer. Sometimes buyers will have a "Make an Offer" listed next to the sales price. Make the offer no matter how lowball! I just got a pair of designer boots for $80; the "Buy it Now" price was $350 and retail price was $1050! The worst that can happen is your offer is refused, but many times the seller will just send you a higher counteroffer that you can accept or deny.

6. Negotiate shipping. I can't tell you the number of times I've spotted something I wanted to buy then had to bail because shipping was too high. However, I've had success emailing the seller (BEFORE bidding) to see if he/she will lower the shipping cost.

7. Know the retail price. True story: Anthropologie had a pair of to-die-for boots that sold out on the website. I think they were around $250 (no, I don't own them...) On eBay, they were listed at $350--even after Anthro restocked them! That's $100 more than retail and I saw bids on them. Of course, you can't always check prices because most items are from several seasons ago. But, I tend to buy a lot of brand-name and designer stuff on eBay, so I do scour the retail sites to get an idea of price range of that particular brand.

8. Go for the good stuff. Honestly, eBay isn't worth your time unless you're interested in buying designer or high-end brand items. I mean, who wants to spend time surfing the web for Target or Old Navy clothing? I reserve eBay for splurge items that strike my fancy--things that I would likely never buy full price. For example, I may look for leather jackets, boots, winter coats, ski clothing, vintage jewelry, children's high-end holiday clothing, designer shoes, Theory brand pants, DVF wrap dresses, Tory Burch flats, etc.

9. Resell it. For children's clothing, you can't beat eBay for resale value--as long as it's a high-end brand in excellent condition. I've actually MADE money on preworn clothing from Oililly, Misha Lulu and Catimini. I tend to buy a few select pieces retail when they go on sale. Sofia wears them, then when she outgrows the item, I resell it. Obviously this works best on seldom-worn outfits, special occaision dresses or things that don't wear out easily. I pay for my daughter's wardrobe almost exclusively from the proceeds of her outgrown clothing.

10. Swoop in. To avoid driving up the price of an item, NEVER bid on it right away. Just save it to your wish list and mark down when the auction ends. Have a price in mind and if the item is still within reach 5 minutes before the auction ends, then wait until about 1 minute left and swoop in with your high bid. If you get outbid, it's OK because you entered the MOST you were willing to spend. If the item went for more than that, it just wasn't meant to be. And, you saved yourself from getting caught up in the moment and spending way too much.

As with anything good, it does take effort to find deals on eBay. You have to scour the site daily with very specific goals in mind. And, you have to be patient. I'm still searching (and have been for 10 years) for a Chanel tweed jacket. I haven't seen one that costs less than $500 yet.

You almost have to have a collector's mentality or really love shopping and the thrill of the hunt to be willing to spend the time seeking out eBay treasures. For many, it's just too much work. But, for those of us who check out all the designer Fall and Spring fashion shows and write down a wish list, it can be a way to get once-in-a-lifetime designer items for a fraction of the retail price.