Friday, November 30, 2007

Material Girl's This-Week-in-Shopping Wrap-up

I got the Rockport boots. The day after I blogged about them taking ever so long to arrive, my new boots were on my porch when I went home for lunch. I put them on and wore them the rest of the day and I love them. They fit perfectly and look good and they are crazy comfy (and not even crazy comfy for heels--just plain crazy comfy. I'm a Rockport fan.)

Emotional shopping at Anthropologie. Material Girl had a rough few days at work this week, so instead of emotional eating (there was an office rum cake and a food day calling my name) I and decided to do some emotional shopping. I went to Anthropologie and bought two things, one on sale, one full price. The full-price item was the coolest, most interesting little sweater that you can button a million ways and looks way better on than on-the-hanger. (Wackadoo Elisa on Project Runway would call it polymorphic judging from the SJP episode.) Buying this sweater gave me one of those all-too-rare and exciting and happy dressing room moments. I tried it on during my third trip in, and I hadn't yet found anything I loved or even liked. (I decided from now on I'm only buying things I love. Nothing I'm lukewarm about will be added to my bursting closet.) Then I put on the sweater and just got that vibe, sort of like when you're looking at apartments or houses or potential boyfriends--that vibe that says, oh yes, you two are meant to be together. I loved the look and the feel and the color and I love how I feel when I have it on. I am in love with this sweater. Every shopping trip should have such a moment. (However, I still stand by my post about about Antropologie's current ugly sweater collection.)

eBay hits and misses. You all know that Material Girl is an eBay addict. Throughout my years of purchasing garments and accessories through the site there have been some really good purchases and some not-so-great purchases. One should never buy something that one is not fairly convinced one will love just because no one else bid on it and it's cheap. Its like like buying something on clearance just because it's 75% off that you don't really need and does not really flatter you and you will never really wear. (Guilty!) This week I had two great purchases and two misses. First I got a black sequined J. Crew cardigan for $33.98. I had seen this in their catalog last year and I really wanted one, but it was expensive then it sold out. I got the eBay sweater in the mail today and it's gorgeous and fits me perfectly (and hopefully ends my current sequins phase). I also bought an off-white sequined angora shrug. It's not good. Not good at all. $5.99 plus shipping down the drain. Lastly, I won and auction for a vintage Bellestone handbag. Don't know if it's alligator or lizard or what, but it's a beauty and it's in near perfect condition and it was $31 plus shipping--a steal for pristine Bellestone. (I've wanted an exotic skin bag since my trip to Saks in L.A.) Lastly, I got a silk leopard print wrap dress. OK but not great. And billed as vintage but really Maggy London. $28.50 and disappointing. I really want a leopard wrap dress and I've been looking for a while. This is not the one.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Zappos, I Have Strayed and I'm Sorry

Recently I found a pair of boots I wanted on Zappos (other than the seven pairs currently in my Zappos shopping cart) but it was a tight week for the discretionary fund (just paid the Macy's bill), so I googled the boots (Rockport Pomfort--I have another pair of Rockport boots that are my favorite ones ever) to see if I could find them cheaper.

And, hurrah! I found them on That day they were having a 15% off everything on the site sale or something like that, plus if you paid by PayPal you got $20 off orders over $100. Sold! Instead of paying $163.95 on Zappos, I paid $123.96. And can't we all use a spare $39.99?

This all went down on November 17th. Today is November 27th. That's 10 days. 10! I still have not gotten my new boots. If I would have purchased them from Zappos, I would have been enjoying them for nine days now, or I would have sent them back and gotten a refund a week ago. Instead, here I sit, bootless. Sigh.

(Okay, bootless is a little strong, I do have those other 20-ish pairs. But note that last week I gave away four pairs of boots along with two bags of clothes that don't fit me. I have some holes in my closet to fill. And I'm not happy with my currently black boot selection.)

So, I ask you fellow shoppers: Is it worth $39.99 for immediate gratification? I'm starting to think yet it is. I'm sorry Zappos. I'll try my best not to stray again. You are so so good to me, what with your free overnight shipping and free returns, and nice nice people on the phone who help with my shoe dilemmas (including last Christmas day when Cheapy was buying me a $100 Zappos gift certificate and accidentally purchased everything in my shopping cart, thus buying me $1,000 worth of shoes--a Christmas miracle!)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Courted by Louis Vuitton

The other day I got a big white envelope in the mail housing a Louis Vuitton catalog. I'm not sure where, why or how the Louis Vuitton catalog mailing department got my name, but if any of you are reading this (I'm sure many LV employees are Material Girl devotees), it's safe to take me off your list. I do not covet--an certainly cannot afford--a status bag. And if I could afford one, it would purchase a Louis Vuitton--I don't think I could walk around with a handbag covered with logos, screaming Look at me--I'm sooooooo expensive! (If I had to carry a logo bag, however, it would the Louis Vuitton Mahina in white perforated leather. It's a little more subtle, and I think it's beautiful. And it's so big I could easily fit my makeup bag, my phone, my car keys, my yoga clothes, a bottle of Evian, a snack of some sort, a sippy cup for Cheapy Junior, half a dozen toy trucks. And probably some other stuff.)

You know what else is big and expensive? The Louis Vuitton catalog itself. It's printed on gorgeous thick glossy paper. The photos by Phillipe Lacombe are exquisite. And I'm fairly certain they don't want you to know how much their items cost. There are no prices--and no text of any kind--on the catalog pages. Toward the back there are mini reproduction of the pages with descriptions, followed by a separate price with no photos, listing item by page number--although the pages are not numbered. That's is a lot of work to discover the one bag that caught my eye costs $2980 (also known as more than two mortgage payments). This is an if-you-have-to-ask-you-can't-afford-it catalog.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I'm Thankful for...eBay

Today is a great day to win an eBay auction, fellow shoppers. I've come away with some super bargains on holidays--days when other not-as-devoted shoppers have myriad activities keeping them occupied. So bid on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve. (But don't bid early and don't bid often. Bid in the last 30 seconds unless you just can't get to a computer.) Shop victoriously!

Now I'm off to make succotash.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Anthropologie: Some Choice Goods

I've been paging through the Anthropologie catalogs ones again, and despite the fact that I still think they're offering many sweaters this season that look like ass, there are several items that I think are really beautiful, so I thought they deserved a little Material Girl love. (For even more Anthropologie blog love, visit fellow shopper Sophie's new blog Breakfast at Anthropologie.)

Again, I offer visuals.

So if Cheapy asks any of you what I want for Christmas this year, send him to this blog post. He'll have to wing it on the sizes. And take me out to dinner a few times so I can dress up. (Wouldn't the orange corduroy dress look cool with my fav boots?)

I fear Cheapy's head might explode a little when he sees the prices of these little numbers. But, believe it or not, while Cheapy does not spend much on himself when it comes to the wardrobe, he is actually quite often a generous and thoughtful gift giver.

P.S. Does it drive anyone else crazy that you can't right-click on items on the Anthropolgie site and open them in a new window. It really slows down the shopping. At least they show the price on the main page now.

Style Book Review

The Lucky Shopping Manual:
Building and Improving Your Wardrobe Piece by Piece
by Kim France and Andrea Linett
(Melcher Media)

Rating: Five out of a possible five Jimmy Choo pumps

I've seen The Lucky Shopping Manual advertised in Lucky: The Magazine About Shopping and Style for quite a while (it was published in 2003) and I always thought What could I possibly learn from this book that I don't get from the mag? So I resisted buying it despite the compellingly simple yet striking cover.

Well, I love this book. (Although it took me a few minutes to get used to not seeing a price and a website listed next to each item pictured.) It's broken up into 14 chapters (for example Skirts, Tops, Pants, Jeans, Shoes, Jackets). There are also seven "Lucky Girl" profiles (one with designer Shoshanna Lonstein who really loves to wear white) which feature peaks at choice items from the ladies' closets, and author profiles of France and Linnet.

The intro talks about why these two fashion-lovers wrote the book: "We wanted to show real women how to put together realistic, truly chic looks with clothing already hanging in their closets (or shoved in the hamper), while inspiring them to go out and shop." Mission accomplished, says Material Girl.

Each chapter in the manual features tips on fit and styling, best shapes for various body types, how to wear items in multiple seasons, what to splurge on not and to save on, and what you really need in your closet from each category. I found the fit and styling tips particularly helpful (I just spent nearly $200 having some items tailored), as well as the recurring In the Fitting Room sidebars. (Example in the Pants chapter: They advise wearing the right shoes, taking a walk, having a seat, and listening to your legs when it comes fabric feel. Simple yet helpful.)

But what I really took away from this book is the notion of editing my closet. Reading this manual made me want to sort and purge and really consider quality and fit. You see, Material Girl is a hoarder. I have lots of stuff. Lots. And there's a fraction of it I seldom if ever wear. (Does this sound familiar, fellow shoppers?) One needs a short list of essential pieces and some fun stuff to go along with them. (You can never have too many accessories.) From Lucky mag you get ideas on how to put pieces together in ways you may not have considered. From The Lucky Shopping Manual you learn what those key pieces are and how they can best fit your body. This is a book you really will want to refer to again and again and an essential purchase for your fashion book shelf. Shop on lucky girls!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Link: Coupon and Sales Chart

Here's a helpful post from listing a number of sales and offers from various retailers anxious for you to start your online holiday shopping.

If you set up accounts on websites of your favorite stores (which they usually ask you to do at checkout) you'll get emails about sales and promotions (free shipping, give-aways with purchase, etc.). And if you're registering to win Lucky Breaks sweepstakes, check the box allowing promotional emails. They don't take up much space in your inbox and they can save you some cash! Oh how I love online retailing.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Power Shopping with Cheapy

For the last week or so, Cheapy had been saying he's in need of a new pair of dungarees. He owns just two pairs of jeans and the one ones he likes best are getting pretty frayed and icky, so I agreed with him. And Material Girl will never pass up an opportunity to go to The Mall with Cheapy's wallet.

with me and pay for the list of Benefit products I need to replenish. I was hoping for a leisurely stroll around the shopping center on Saturday night. The Mall would be empty. We had a babysitter. If Cheapy had enough wine before we go, I thought, maybe I could even get him to go to Sephora and pay for the list of Benefit products I need to replenish. Hah!

He called me at 5 on Sunday afternoon on his way home from work and said he was ready to shop. The Mall closed at 6. It takes him approximately 17 minutes to get home from work. Cheapy Jr. and I put on our shoes and coats and waited by the door. We drove, we parked, we hit the Gap. The entire excursion, which included a stop in the toy store, took less than 20 minutes. And somehow Cheapy managed to find the only pair of jeans in the whole men's wall of denim that were on clearance, and they were his size. I think he has some sort of Cheapy radar. He walked out with a red-for-the-holidays Gap bag in hand for under $13.

I hate this kind of rush rush shopping. It's stressful. Shopping should be leisurely and fun. There should be browsing. There should be aimless wandering. There should be serendipity. There should be no (sober) Cheapy.

Anthropologie: You Disappoint

Material Girl keeps catalogs in the pink bathroom next to the toitey. One might as well peruse some clothing while one does her business--it's efficient and nice way to pass the time on the throne. (I've been enjoying the current J. Crew holiday catalog, particularly the accessories and shoes.)

The two most recent Anthropologie catalogs are currently in the ol magazine rack. The more I look through them (I'm, um, very regular) the more I'm certain that much of the current crop of offerings at what is generally one of my favorite stores has been beaten rather severely with the ugly stick. The sweaters, in particular, are rather hideous.

I give you visuals:

Ugly, ugly and ugly. A designer binged on pattern and vomited all over these garments. They look like rugs. Ugly rugs. Others resemble doilies or upholstery. Were they going for a home furnishing look? Personally Material Girl does not want to walk the streets looking even remotely like a 1970s sofa.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Material Girl, Coach Potato

Material Girl loves TV almost as much boots. I work all day, I wrangler a toddler; I need to recline on the chaise and ingest brain candy before I sleep. Here are my current TV crushes, some long-term, some new, all fashion-y. I think you should watch them all so we can talk about them.
  • Gossip Girl. The CW and Material Girl are good good friends despite the fact that Material Girl is, ehem, just slightly older than their target demographic. They've sucked me in again with this new show based on series of YA novels. If you don't watch it for the ultra bitchiness or the we're-oh-so-rich-and-oh-so-screwed-up beautiful people, watch it for the clothes. It's so fabulous to see teenagers donning dresses that cost more than (both my) wedding dress(es combined) for, say, a birthday party or brunch. And I'm all about Blair bringing back the slip. The slip needs a comeback. And let's not forgot about Chuck Bass. If James Spader in the 80s and Logan Huntsberger had a baby, he would be Chuck Bass. He rocks bow-ties and wears a signature scarf. He's awesome.
  • Project Runway's new season and Tim Gunn's Guide to Style. I love me some Tim Gunn. He's divine--the catch phrases, the perfect grooming, the honest assessments, the occasional tearing up, the 10 Items Essential to Every Woman's Wardrobe. Watch and learn.
  • Sex & the City reruns. Oh Patricia Field. Where did you come up with some of those outfits for Ms. Bradshaw? While they range from wack-a-doo to fabulous, I feel I always learn some good fashion lessons from viewing the clothing on Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte. At least once a week I have a eureka moment watching the show. (Eureka moments generally send me right to eBay.) Favorite Carrie quote: "I like my investments where I can see them--in my closet."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Check Out

Shoes lovers, check out and bookmark part of Lots of shoe news, photos and links. Plus they featured Material Girl in a This Week in Shoes Post!

Monday, November 12, 2007

My Three Favorite eBay Stores

I've been shopping on eBay for years, and there are three eBay sellers I've found myself buying from again and again. These are sellers who have set up eBay "stores" or simply continually offer merchandise (as opposed to other sellers who just randomly auction goods when, say, they clean out their closets or hit a interesting estate sale).

These three sellers have made me a happy repeat buyer:
  • little-baby-kitty: This is a guy out of L.A. who sells clothing, some of which has been worn on TV. He offers modern and vintage items, frequent leather, and myriad unique finds by anyone from Bebe and Banana Republic to BCBG and Betsy Johnson. Up for auction right now: A lovely Catherine Malandrino black silk dress with floral appliques at this writing going for $39.99 with zero bids; and a Peter Scott vintage customized sweater (pictured) that's one of a kind currently going for $9.99 with zero bids. Items sold by little-baby-kitty tend to start off a little high (probably $39.99 on average) but I've noticed that if things don't sell after a few listings, opening minimum bid will drop by $10 or even $20. My fav Material Girl little-baby-kitty find: A two layered black Diesel skirt, featuring a long chiffon layer under a cotton twill mini with a wide band for $29.99.
  • Deja Jewels Galerie des Bijou: This store, run by dina9, offers some really beautiful vintage pieces. It's rhinestone heaven for me. (Have I mentioned that Material Girl digs shiny things?) You'll find necklaces, bracelets, earrings and broaches ranging from pricey signed vintage pieces to low priced costume jewelry--deco, ivory, bakelite, jade and gems. Some of dina9's pieces will set you back a few clams, but you'll often find Buy It Now or Best Offer options. Up for auction right now: An estate chunky black Onyx double heart necklace at $67.99 or Best Offer and a rather stunning Lisner rhinestone circle brooch (pictured) which is a steal for BIN at $17.50. My fav Material Girl Deja Jewels purchase: An amazing deco rhinestone necklace for $35.
  • Jewels n Treasures: This store is my absolute favorite place to buy cheap costume jewelry, particularly necklaces. I've gotten a slew of them from this store--partly due to the buy-three-and-shipping-is-free policy. Have I mentioned how cheap this stuff is? Currently for auction: a 32-inch gumball beaded necklace in of-the-moment purple which can't be passed up at $8.95 BIN and a very Jackie O double-strand imitation pearl necklace (pictured) at $9.98 BIN. Fav Material Girl Jewels n Treasures Girl purchase: A short multi-strand beaded necklace in shades of white, icy blue and turquoise for $8.95.

Friday, November 9, 2007

My Field Trip to Fashion Design College

Today I took a field trip to my former college campus where I and my designer/co-worker/friend Claudean met with a fashion design professor named Margaret about some illustrations for a book. This was quite possibly my best field trip ever. Margaret has worked in fashion in some capacity for 40 years-ish. One wall in her office was lined floor to ceiling with fashion books and magazines, a number of which contained her illustrations. She had framed portraits of vintage Barbie dolls. I could have spent hours there. What was she wearing, you ask? Black head to toe, with funky glasses, the lenses topped with red flourishes. She piled on half a dozen thick black necklaces of varying lengths--chains, beads and the most awesome huge vintage bakelite cameo she picked up at an Indiana antique store. (A students asked if it came from Target! She was referring to the Dominique Cohen jewelry collection they currently carry, an example of which is pictured. Material Girl just set up an eBay favorite search for antique black cameos because now I must have one--or five.)

After our meeting, she gave us a tour during which we got to see all the budding fashion designers in action, pinning fabric onto dress forms as they worked on their themed lines. (Material Girl can barely sew on a button.)

We had tromped a bit through campus to get to the design college building, and pretty much everyone we passed wore the same outfit: jeans, t-shirt and hoodie. Not so with the design students. They were adept at layering and wearing hats and scarves and pops of color with confidence--a crinoline under demin here, a shocking yellow tee peeking out there. (When I was their age, my favorite wear-to-school outfit was my shiny leopard print leggings, my oversize black Jack Daniels sweatshirt, and black clunky boots with chains. I also had some rather big hair.)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Boots: They Rock My Footwear World

The other night I was hanging out in my dressing room with Cheapy, Cheapy Jr. and the cat--who, by the way, recently again peed on my gym bag. We were chatting and playing with dump trucks and pennies and having a good ol' family time. Then Cheapy got some miserly wild hair and he took inventory of all the boots in my closet. He counted 19 pairs. (He missed my snow boots and the two pairs of Uggs I only wear to yoga class.) Then he needed a Scotch.

I don't think that's excessive. Cheapy did. But here's the thing. I don't really like shoes. Stop laughing. What I mean is I don't like pumps and flats and things that aren't boots, sandals or slingbacks. Normal sort of shoes never seem to fit me correctly. I get blisters. It's generally not good. There are exceptions, of course. I love my green Camper pumps which are comfy enough to walk around New York in. And I've just about worn in a pair of cute bronze metallic flats I got a few winters ago. (In theory flats should be more comfy than heels. I find that's not generally the case. They ouch me up just about every time.)

But boots...Boots rock. Boots are cool. Boots are chic. Boots are tough. Boots are feminine. Boots are utilitarian. Boot go with everything. I wear them in summer, winter, spring and fall. I wear them with dresses, skirts, jeans and shorts. I wear them casual; I wear them dressy.

Twenty-two pairs of boots is not that many, really. I have five pairs of rain boots--tall, short, mid-calf and crazy-wellies. I have the aforementioned snow boots and Uggs. I have tall brown and tall black. I have a few pairs of ankle boots. I have flat boot, mid-heel boots, and high-heel boots. I have a weird hot pink suede pair I got in Paris while high on cheese (maybe I'll wear those this week). I've got pink lace up Timberlands that are good for any weather and any day when I want to have a footwear conversation with everyone who walks by. I have the magic Stuart Weitzman pair that get better every time I wear them.

What Cheapy doesn't understand it that one pair of boots does not go with every outfit. He forgets that Material Girl is a Girl and doesn't wear a button down shirt and khakis every day (oh the horror!). A Girl needs a boot wardrobe just as a girl needs a clothing wardrobe.

I'm currently coveting this pair of Frye Mildred Engineer boots in sapphire. Who has boots that color? That's fabulous. (I'd like to branch out beyond black, brown and pink. I want sapphire and cognac and merlot and olive green and a nice warm gray--maybe even something metallic.) My discretionary fund is spoken for with these beauties that are together tough and girly. Engineer boots with heels? That's brilliant!

The cat also recently peed in Cheapy's shoe closet, home of approximately 17 pairs of boring guy shoes, now stinkier than normal.