Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Scene
Another day, another dollar.

Enjoyed a much anticipated dinner with a dear girlfriend tonight. We hit bld, where we plopped down next to the little miss from Little Miss Sunshine! Random!

G and I were TAs together in grad school. She is a true gem of a human being - painfully cute, brilliant, articulate, uber professional, stylish, self-deprecating, supportive and ambitious.

I just cherish her friendship. And her metallic BCBG stilettos. And her enormous Marc bag :)

G was a fashion editor for the last 7 years. She's taken me to countless glam-O-rous events (the Golden Globes last year, for one) and has scored me some of the most outrageous gift bags EVER (we're talking pashmina throws and color photo printers!)

After a string of stellar but ultimately unsatisfying editorial jobs, she just left journalism to go back to school. She's going to get her MBA and become one of the fashion moguls she used to write about. Haven't seen her this determined/happy in a while. Absolutely thrilled for her.

She reminded me tonight to trust my instincts. That they will lead me down the right professional path once and for all. Feel so lucky to have friends like her helping me clear the way.

The Outfit
Turquoise cowl-neck sweater
Anthropologie tweed skirt
Vintage Parisian eggshell trenchcoat

The Accessories
Gucci hobo
YSL patent burgundy pumps
Banks and Biddle bangle
Faux Van Cleef & Arpels turquoise earrings

The Grade

The Commentary
Stuck with yesterday's theory of wearing up the last of my winter stuff before it gets warm. Choose another tweedy skirt partly because I was feeling lazy and partly because I love me some tweed when it's cold out.

I got this skirt resale in Santa Monica at a place called The Address (AMAZING designer shoe and pants selection - no dressing rooms tho and the sales staff can be annoyingly persistent!)

It's one of the few Anthropologie pieces I own. Everything in that store delights me (the retro sweaters and sweet dresses are very MJ meets Nanette Lepore) but the store is just too rich for my blood. Even the sales seem pricey to me for what you are getting: an upscale Urban Outfitters. Jean Bean once used to swear by it tho.

I heart this sweater. Got it at Filene's Basement in Boston when I was there for a conference 5 years ago. Is a nice contrast to the darkness of the skirt and picks up the little flecks of blue in the tweed. Especially yummy with the matchy earrings. I love a basic in a not-so-basic color.

Felt a bit large and in charge today with the bulk of the tweed and the sweater. But G told me I looked more toned, slighter in the shoulders. God bless her.

p.s. I was just reading Perez Hilton and came across this UBER-inspiring photo.

Would love to be a mom who rocks to-die-for stilettos and tweed-y skirt with a delectable Chanel scarf.

Unfortunately, don't think it's realistic for any one other than Victoria Beckham.


weezermonkey said...

What are you talking about? You can totally be That Mom!

Jean Bean said...

I have NOT sworn by Anthro since 2004. I still find things there but I find it incredibly contrived and cloying. I have to find you the column I wrote about it...

Jean Bean said...

Here it is:

Austin American-Statesman (Texas)

November 9, 2006 Thursday

Meet my old flame Anthropologie

In another city, in an earlier chapter of my life, I once had a great romance with an Anthropologie store. It was an oasis of pretty, hyper-feminine clothes in a desert of androgynous business-casual blandness.

We were even on a nickname basis. Whenever anyone complained about Anthro's steep prices or long lines, I asserted that everything I'd ever bought there earned a starring role in my wardrobe and reeled in compliments with every outing. I also liked to brag about its whimsical and creative visual displays, which are on par with Manhattan department store windows.

This became a serious relationship. Not only did I want all of the clothes and accessories, I wanted to move in. I longed to hear that music, smell those smells, read those books and sleep in that big, fluffy bed for all the rest of my days.

It pained me to leave Anthro when I moved to Austin. Right away, people started asking me whether the store would ever consider following me here. I kept saying someday, maybe, someday.
Well, someday is here. Anthro opens Friday at Sixth Street and Lamar Boulevard, where Whole Foods used to be, and it's been sowing its oats. There are now more than 80 Anthropologie stores arousing the same torrid feelings I once had in women all over the U.S.

Anthro probably thinks we're going to rekindle our old flame, but I have news for it: I've moved on. I've sampled a great big world of independent boutiques, and they've shown me how formulaic and inauthentic that former relationship was. Anthro will be just fine without me, though. Women throw themselves at this store everywhere it goes. They come in droves to fondle its appliquéd skirts, peplum jackets and pin-tucked blouses; to peruse its old-fashioned etiquette and recipe books; and to imagine uses for its vats of wrought iron hooks and glass drawer pulls.

Anthropologie is owned by Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters Inc. While Urban's namesake chain is for teens and twentysomethings who want to look like they shop at garage sales, Anthropologie is for women (age 30-45, according to company literature) who want to look like they shop at French flea markets.

Or perhaps they dream of inheriting all their belongings from their French grandmother, but alas, don't have one. Fate might have denied you a grand-mère, but that doesn't mean you can't have enough lockets, aprons, latte bowls, needlepoint pillows and ceramic figurines to fill the void. Throw in the odd bird cage, chandelier and gravy boat, and voilà, the fantasy is complete. Your eyes will brim with nostalgia for the heritage you never had. Cue the "Amélie" soundtrack.

In addition to this marketing brilliance, Anthropologie's genius is evident in how it replicates the charm of upscale clothing boutiques and antiques stores, then sweetens the deal with easy returns and no dust bunnies. It stocks a long roster of fashion designers, many of which are (or used to be) staples of Austin boutiques. Wendi Koletar, who owns Kick Pleat, was one of the earliest supporters of Casch, a Danish designer Anthropologie recently picked up. Because a chain orders in bulk, it can negotiate lower wholesale prices from vendors, therefore it can afford to sell for less. However, I believe Anthropologie simply enjoys a wider profit margin, because I find its retail prices no lower than our boutiques'. Examples: $68 for a smocked T-shirt by Velvet, $488 for a Tracy Reese cocktail dress, $198 for Edun jeans and $228 for a Christopher Deane silk top.

If Kick Pleat were dragged into a price war, it would lose because Anthro paid less. So Koletar canceled part of her Casch order and looked for something different to offer her customers. That's capitalism at its best. The chain keeps the independents on their toes and the customer, as a result, gets more choices. Any store that wants my business needs to offer something its competitors do not. That might be the lowest price, but it might just as well be a unique selection, helpful service, humane business practices or free water on my running trail. (Thanks, RunTex!)

I have no rule against chains per se. And I'm friendly with many of my exes. But Anthropologie's publicity team ignored every one of my numerous phone calls over a period of weeks. That tells me it's too smug about its irresistible store environment to bother with public relations. So it goes with a high-flying corporation. I don't mean to cast aspersions on the approximately 50 local employees. They aim to please, no doubt. When, as a last resort, I barged into the unopened store and saw associates busily setting up displays, they greeted me warmly and reminded me of myself several years ago, when I was part of a team that opened the first Restoration Hardware store in Boston. So I know the pride and excitement they must feel on the eve of the big debut.

But there is too much complicated history between Anthro and me, so I plan to give it space. I'll stay away from the panting throngs at the door tomorrow. I'm older now, and wiser to the ways of desire.

Jean Bean said...

And ANOTHER thing I hate about Anthropologie! All those unfinished hems! At those prices?? Finish the damn hem!

Da Fashionista said...

1. Duly noted your swearing as former.

2. ADORE your writing. I love love love this piece. Such gems in there! I miss your voice. When can I read the Europe bloggy blog??? You make me want to be a better writer. Thank you and damn you.

3. Loves it when you are Nina Garcia on Project Runway!

Blue Bird said...

Your legs look super yummy in that skirt/heels combo. Just FYI.

Da Fashionista said...

my dear mr. t,

you are too kind. and clearly your eyesight is beginning to go now that you are 30 ;)

they are all kinds of BUSTED. All bruised from bootcamp. Cut my leg shaving BAD on Saturday night before the par-tay with a GHETTO razor i bought at plaid pantry!

UN THEN my flat boots dug into my heel the other day hence the Dora the Explorer band-aid.

i'm telling you 30 was the death of me. kiss you!

Da Fashionista said...

my monkey,

loves you. thanks for the vote of confidence.

I just fear that I will leave all my fashion sense on the birthing table. seriously, i think once I have a child all my attention and efforts will be diverted to said delicious cherub. I will be sporting mom jeans and a man hair cut in no time. wah.

i dunno. the having babies issue plagues me. and by plagues me i mean my mom harrasses me on almost a daily basis about it. sigh.

decisions, decisions...

Kate said...

Seriously, you know some outstanding people. This past weekend I got a little bit rocked by the realization that I have a bunch of big deals in my life. That must mean I'm a big deal.

Also, I think someone's got some baby fever. Not to tempt you but if you think its fun dressing you, imagine having a living doll. It rules.

MissJordyPants said...

What a wonerful friend to have. Someone to inspire you. And hey, the gift goodies are a fabulous extra.

Adore your tweed. Should buy more of it.


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