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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Green Theme Week - Look 2

Today I'm channeling a look I saw in a J. Crew catalogue.



But instead of pants, which I could have done, I decided to break in my cheapy Gap mini skirt. I bought it quite a few months ago on clearance for $15. It has lots of stretchy goodness, which I love. For a mini, it's pretty darn comfortable. And it has pockets! Every skirt should have pockets and spandex, in my opinion. Oh and that pudgy tummy just keeps rearing its ugly head. Or maybe it was 4th of July ribs. Nahh.

I also received my Zara dresses over the weekend, which I can't wait to show you. I'm not only excited about the dresses themselves (been eyeing the fish V-neck back dress for a couple of months now), but I'm excited that they fit! I can typically only wear Zara blazers and some tops and only in XL. Zara clothes run small and typically an XL equates to a size 12 or smaller. I can't fit into any of their pencil skirts. But the dresses bow out at the waist and the XL fit.

So since I'm on the subject of fast fashion, I'm reading a book about it ("Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion" by Elizabeth L. Cline) and conducted my own little experiment this past weekend. I went to my local mall on Saturday looking for any apparel that wasn't made out of celluostic fibers (plastic) or wasn't trendy and cheap. I found nothing. Granted, my mall does not have a Nordstrom, Saks, or any other upscale department store (Macy's is about the best you get in that mall). In fact the entire first floor seems to be made up of cheap one-off stores that sell hoochie-mamma apparel. The top floor is mostly comprised of fast fashion, such as H&M, Forever 21, Abercrombie, etc. The book talks about how most of the manufacturing of apparel is now done overseas for pennies, that consumers are paying increasingly lower prices for trendy knock-off fashion, and how disposable and ill-constructed clothing is nowadays. People wear their clothes a few times and expect to throw it away. Gone are the days of quality stitching and details that adorn hand-made clothing, not to mention using fabrics that aren't comprised of Viscose, Polyester, Acetate, Nylon, and other cheap imitations.

While I'm guilty of buying fast fashion all the time and will probably continue to do so in this economy, I also see the author's point. I'm only halfway into the book but it has already opened my eyes to just how much we shop for cheap, disposable goods. How many times have you worn a J. Crew tissue tee only to find pin holes in it after a few washings? Off to Goodwill it goes.

In all honesty, I can't afford to feature a $300 dress a few times a week like the big fashion bloggers do. I stopped following the blog This Time Tomorrow when Krystal featured an almost $600 skirt that she bought 'on sale' and made it sound so commonplace. And while I'm sure she will most likely have that skirt for years to come, shelling out that kind of money every month is just not a place I can be right now. And here's the paradox. I'll shell out a few hundred dollars a month to drive a nice car that will last me well after its paid off. However, I am in the mindset of not paying over a certain amount for shoes and clothes. I may have to revisit the notion of saving up for quality instead of spending on cheap quantity. In the late 90s, I did just that. I saved up for my Gucci, Prada, and Fendi shoes and bags. I bought quality. And I resold those things on eBay for a profit. Did the shift happen when the economy went sour? I don't know. But I own one high quality piece of fashion that I wear constantly. And although I've been told I need to jump on the bandwagon and wear a chunky Michael Kors-eque watch, I prefer my Cartier Tank watch that I've had for almost six years now. It needed a tune-up due to neglect, but is now running beautifully and will continue to do so for many years. It has also increased in value over the years, unlike most of the clothes hanging in my closet.




{Tee: J. Crew. Similar here. | Skirt: Gap. Similar here. | Necklace: J. Crew | Shoes: Pour la Victoire. Buy them here. | Lipstick: Nars Heat Wave. Buy it here. | Hat: Urban Outfitters. Similar here (I own it as well).}

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10 comments:

  1. Hi Niki, Thanks for the honest and thoughtful post. Like your channeling of the J. Crew look and of course, as always theme week!
    Was amused that we both stopped following TTT about the same time. I was irritated about how she presented that skirt. Personally & for that kind of $$$, I will buy a classic piece & altho' she may have it for years, felt it was trendy & will scream 2012 five years from now.
    I am so glad that you have not given in to the tiring/boring MKors-eque watch trend and forsaken your classic Cartier. Excuse the pun but it is Timeless (and a great investment piece, big time :). When I want to wear a big watch, I am fortunate to have my Dad's Hamilton watches.
    Will read Cline's book and if you haven't read it, I highly recommend the enlightening "Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Lustre". Check out the NYT Books of the Times, 8/7/2007 review by Michiko Kakutani, "The Devil Wears Hermès (He Bought It at the Caesars Palace Mall in Las Vegas)".
    Thanks again and please keep up the good work!

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    1. Totally agree on the skirt. I think it had pineapples or something and I personally found it a bit ugly. You know, I keep looking at Michael Kors watches and while I know they are popular and probably a good watch, they just look cheap to me. Same with the Marc Jacobs watches. I still have my original Gucci watch I received as a Christmas gift from my stepfather when I was 17 years old. It just needs a battery. At the time, I didn't even know what Gucci was. I just knew it was a nice watch and a very thoughtful gift.
      Thank you for the book suggestions. I'll have to check them out when I'm done with Cline's book.

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  2. I think there is a happy medium between fast fashion and expensive, quality items. Many retailers carry items that are better made; they are just mixed in with some junk. J. Crew, of course, is notorious. I have J Crew suiting that is well made and of good fabric, but I've completely given up on knits/tees from them for the reasons you mention. Brooks Brothers is another that I think allows regular people to buy classic quality items at a somewhat reasonable price point. Tons of junk in all stores, but a few are offering quality items in them mix. That doesn't solve the manufacturing problem though, those items are still made by underpaid workers somewhere third world.

    Its not just fashion either. Shop for furniture, or home decor. Mostly poorly made, of 'fake' wood. k

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    1. I agree, Kim. Some fast fashion is better made than others and the author does state that in her book. There's definitely a difference between the quality of Forever 21 and J. Crew. And the price point reflects that. And you are correct, furniture is often ill constructed (ahem Ikea) and made from plywood and compressed wood "pressboard." Thanks for you feedback! I appreciate it.
      Niki

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  3. Great post. There was a review of that book in More magazine and I want to read it. I think the problem with fashion is that while it'd be great to buy classic, well made pieces that cost big bucks but will never go out of style, we get bored and want trendy pieces too. So that brings in the cheap factor. I could get rid of at least half of my closet and keep the well made pieces I own, but there'd be nothing left save for a black suit, white blouse, and LBD. Great basic pieces that I love, but...snooze. For awhile in the early 2000s, I wanted to be an Ann Taylor model, meaning that I LOVED the classic look with pearls, etc. I still love that look, but I get bored and like to try some trends. I always wondered what my "style" was, but after discovering fashion blogs, I realize that I have no specific style, and that's okay. So I gave myself permission to embrace some trends, and to get those looks, you have to buy crap at places like Forever 21. The problem of cheap labor overseas is one that I feel is much bigger than me and I can't even begin to solve.

    I am, however, trying to be more mindful of my spending on clothes in general because I've got a closet full and haven't worn all of them yet. I'm determined to not buy anything new for the rest of the summer. I'm also breaking out of the box and am more likely to wear a casual dress on weekends so I at least get some wear out of them before it gets too cold. And when Fall comes, I'll reassess and once again add a few trendy things to go with the classics, and I'll probably get them at H&M or someplace like that.

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    1. Good point, Kathy. But I also think you can invest in some trendy pieces that could be worn well into the future. I also see some trendier, more expensive pieces as works of art. For example, I have a LV bag in my clost that I bought five years ago that I have never once busted out of its protective sleeve. I paid a lot of money for that bag and it is no longer made. But it's like art to me and I just can't stomach setting it down on a the floor of some restaurant, etc. I also have a Vince dress that is an investment piece that now is a trendy colorblock piece. And I agree with you, I also need to be more mindful of my spending on clothes. Half the crap I have in my closet is just not needed. But there are times when I feel like if I don't have anything new to show, my blog won't be interesting.
      Niki

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    2. Hi Niki! You wrote what I've been thinking since I accidentally happened upon fashion blogs while doing online research for my school courses (not in the fashion industry however )! I became intrigued with the number of bloggers that mix fast, disposable fashion with high end designer clothes and accessories. I've "clicked" onto your Blog Role list to admire the new pairings. My immediate reaction has been "what do these bloggers DO for a living?" Are they borrowing the clothes/items for the posting and then returning them? Could they possibly own everything they feature? Their closets rival those of an A-list celebrity! As I tell my daughter who is eying the likes of LV, Stella, and McQueen "keep singing" :)

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    3. No kidding! I believe I read that Brooklyn Blonde was a freelance stylist? Don't quote me on that. I have a full time job as a technical writer, which I've been doing for 15 years, so I make a good living. However, I also have bills, mortgage, debt, etc. It seems like a lot of their items are given to them so that they can showcase it and write reviews. Take the sandals I'm wearing above. Atlantic-Pacific was given these shoes. I had to wait til they went on sale for $100 on Myhabit.com before I could feature them. But then again, I only have a miniscule number of followers (thank you all!) compared to A-P. She's also been blogging a lot longer than I have, looks like a model, has great locations she can shoot in (vs. my backyard) - which brings up another question. If they work full time, where do they get the time to go out to various locations and shoot their pics. Some of them also own cameras that are $5K+. I know that Atlantic-Pacific and I have the same camera and lenses as I've spoken to her about it. But you are absolutely correct - their closets do look like that of a celebrity. Until I become famous, dwindle down to a size 0, and move to CA, I'll just be my normal self. :-)

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    4. "Until I become famous, dwindle down to a size 0, and move to CA, I'll just be my normal self. :-)"

      And THAT's why you're my first read of the day!

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    5. Lol! Thank you, Kathy! That made my day!!
      Niki

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