Ef You DSW!!

For a few years now, DSW has had commercials featuring stylish women breezing through their cities looking fantastic and being stopped by someone who says “Where’d you get those shoes.” And then this fashion icon answers, “DSW.”

And now, Sears has rehashed this strategy. Again, said woman is moving through her life — at work, being seated at a restauant, boarding a plane, when someone asks where she got something. She answers, somewhat sheepishly, “Sears.” (You should be sheepish, what did you do, go back to 1864 and order from their catalog?)

I’m calling bullshit on this. Just like it’s not okay to have dripping wet hair on the subway, it is not okay to ask strangers where they bought something.

Here’s why:

  • It can be judgemental — the Sears woman feared judgement so that was well played, Sears. The other judgement is when you answer and people respond that said store or said item is too expensive and proceed to try to make you feel like a fool. They might even say something ridiculous like, there’s no difference between the designer stuff and what they find at the dollar store (if you really don’t see a difference, then you’re shopping in the right place, hon). And although this is acceptable hazing, the turnabout is not true. What if you told me you shop at TJ Maxx and I told you their stuff is so cheap I’m surprised it doesn’t go up in flames on a hot summer day? Or, what if I said Old Navy is called old because even their new clothes only have one wear left in them? I would be considered just plain evil. And rightly so. It’s okay to call someone on perceived extravagance. Just not someone’s tendency to buy cheap, shakeadag (made up word) clothes as my Aunt Daisy used to call them.
  • It can be presumptuous. Yesterday, I’m rocking a pretty fabulous new red lipstick that I discovered (and then later, unknowingly, my sister gifted it to me at Christmas which tells you it’s fire!) I appreciate compliments. Don’t we all? Saying, “Great color!” as you breeze by is totally acceptable. Stopping me and asking me, “What is that, MAC?” So not acceptable. Why do you assume it’s MAC? I know that brown girls flock to the MAC counter like minimally dressed teenaged girls flock to Lady Gaga concerts. But we can wear more than MAC, thank you very much! I was loyal to Diva, but that was back in 1998. Yet still, people are always trying to put me in MAC! No lie, no lieeeeee. I’ve even been at the Laura Mercier counter and when I asked for a product, the associate clarified whether I wanted it from MAC which was located clear across the store.
  • Find your own amazing — Why should I do all the work for you? Just like Drake said about Kobe’s wife, “You wasn’t with me when we was shootin’ in the gym.”  Put in the work. I’ve gone outlet shopping numerous times and when I arrive at the checkout with my find, the sales girls gather around the counter and ask where I found it. They are the ones putting the items in the bins! If they managed to overlook a pink satin Louboutin evening bag with a chain strap — and a ridiculous markdown, I mean ridiculous like someone didn’t realize the brand — they don’t belong in retail.
  • If you’re a real fashionista, you should already know — There are telltale signs for brands. The cap toe, the tartan pattern, the Tribute style or enormous patent bow; it’s unmistakable which brand it is. You shouldn’t have to ask.

Just something to keep in mind when you’re out and about and see something you admire. Sneak a picture and investigate later, look for labels or even describe the item in a Google search (It has worked for me!). I never ask people where they got something. And if necessary, I send a friend to ask for me.

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Paris vs. Milan — The Report

Here’s the long delayed report on my April vacation to Paris and Milan. This time, instead of writing about what I did and saw, I decided to assess each city in a gamut of random, yet meaningful categories. Folks, you’ll never find observations like this in a travel book. Check out the winners!

OBSERVATION WINNER I’M JUST SAYIN’
PARIS MILAN
1. Most bonafide gingers None at all spotted in Paris
2. Most men you want to look at Tie – Parisian men win the fashion, but Italian men are really handsome. A hybrid would be perfect.
3. Most women you want to look at   Hands down, Frenchies win this. The Italian women are atractive too, but their attire negates that.
4. People spotted wearing fur even though it’s Spring A surprisingly tied category
5. Tightest clothes Damn, signoras!
6. Most plastic surgery Donatella would be so proud
7. Most blondes
10. Most people wearing all black
11. Best lingerie Paris (however, see below)
12. Most clothing designers who actually realize that women have breasts
13. Best shoes French, you don’t have to leave the US to know that
14. Best sunglasses Enormous and always on, even on a cloudy day
15. Weirdest eyebrows Tie – In Milan, they draw them in quite dramatically. In Paris, their eyebrows don’t match their hair. Quell horror!
16. Best makeup Can you say cat eye magnifique?
17. Best smelling… people
18. Best smelling…shops
19. Least rude I was done with the Italians within an hour. New Yorkers and Parisians don’t even rank as rude in comparison
20. Quickest switch to English when noticing my slow processing of information
21. Most romantic
22. Best cocktails Milan didn’t even bother with cocktails, usually only offering a wine list
23. Best tap water Always on the table in Paris. Milanese looked totally offended just by the request for non-bottled water.
24. Tastiest tomatoes
25. Best french fries Only Amsterdam is better
26. Best overall food I walked down the street eating bread in Paris and pretty much starved in Milan
27. Best sweets Neither. Both need to learn how to use SUGAR
28. Most addictive snacks Total tie. In Paris, it was crossaints. Milan, lemon gelato.
29. Best public transportation Paris was quick, clean, no complaints. Milan – confusing as fuck.
30. Best cars Milan, you fancy, huh?
31. Fastest drivers
32. Most honking They might be worse than NYC cab drivers
33. Where you’re most likely to get run over by a motorcycle They’ll jump a curve in a minute
34. Most places to easily trip and fall
35. Most iPhones Tie. It is seriously outta control. Apple rules the world.
36. Most Beats by Dre headphones Yes, those enormous ones
37. Best music In Paris, I felt like dancing everywhere. Milan had the sound of cymbals in their music– or opera, God forbid
38. Most Angry Bird fans
39. Most public drunkenness
40. Easiest access to birth control Condom machines are in every subway station!
41. Best dogs They were usually small and had long hair and accessories!
42. Cutest kids Both had some pretty cute kids, but the Italian kids were cute AND entertaining
43. Least Americans spotted Americans are generally embarrasing
44. My most used phrase I want to buy this Do you speak Engish?
45. Place I could return to over and over and OVER

Please Wear Short-Shorts

The unofficial start of summer is only a few days ago and already, I  feel the need to save the world from some horrifying looks. This will be short.

Going Strapless? Go Bold

Let’s first discuss strapless shirts/dresses, tube tops, and any other look that doesn’t have sleeves. If you’re going to wear it, WEAR IT. Don’t spend all your time hitching your top up. If it keeps slipping down, something is wrong. You either have on the wrong size top/dress or the wrong size bra. And if it’s not slipping, but you still feel the need to constantly check it, give up. You  need sleeves.

GOING SHORT

And the second area — shorts — on this, I must go IN. Shorts should be an inch above your knee or shorter. I love short-shorts. And it takes a special leg to pull those off. Make sure you have special legs. However, short-shorts aren’t my chief complaint today. The issue at hand is long shorts.

Shorts that hit the knee or somewhere below that are baffling to me. When you sport this look, you’re not doing yourself any favors! Well, unless you think chopping yourself off in the most awkward place is favorable for you.

This complaint applies to women AND men. I saw men in shorts that dragged on way past their knees. And I saw women in shorts that hit them at mid-calf. Ok, those are actually Capri pants. And I know I’ve said I wouldn’t complain about Capri pants anymore. Yet every year, here they come. Why do designers think it will look good to create pants that cover all the way down to the shapliest part of the leg (and it’s only American designers. You wouldn’t see a French or Italian woman in these pants)? They practically promise to make the wearer look like a stump! And the worse is when short women wear these horrible garments. If they get them in green, they could audition to be munchkins on the Wizard of Oz.

So save yourself, there’s a lot of summertime left. If your shorts (or capris) are longer than your knee, head on over to Rivington Street. There are plenty of tailors there who can whip your wardrop right into shape. Probably for less than $10. Happy Summer!

Brown Is the New Nude

Last summer, a lace dress was my must-have. After an exhaustive search, I finally found a lace dress winner. Five days later, my online order arrived and my excitement went into rewind when I saw this otherwise perfect dress’ hideous tan lining.

I returned it to the store and noticed that the despicable tan lining was on most of the other lace dresses. The Sales Associate (SA) explained that the lining was SKIN-colored to give the dress a transparent look.

 Years ago, I was shopping at Nordstrom at the Galleria in Dallas for coffee colored pantyhose [Aside: I had a job with a horrible boss who required me to wear pantyhose.  After being sent home twice for disregarding her rule, I grudging complied with her insane request. I’m glad that pantyhose, are no longer fashionable or expected, except that Kate Middleton is trying to ruin that trend]. Anyway, quality coffee-colored pantyhose were next to impossible to find. I complained to the manager. Her reply: “We really only stock SKIN tone colors, so we don’t expect them to order more brown.”

 Last fall, I started searching for nude shoes — the goal: shoes that matched the color of my skin to give me that long-legged look. I explained the look I was going for to my favorite shoe SA and asked her to bring me all the nude shoes she had with at least a four-inch heel. She came back with TAN and beige shoes.

 On Facebook, a page for a movement that campaigns for manufacturers to produce more brown bras received over 3,000 likes. This campaign was covered in the news and many fashionista bloggers have written about it as well. [Aside: In case you didn’t know, brown girls look terrible in nude bras. Yet nude bras are always plentiful — especially at sales.]

 Just like Crayola ditched the peachy color “flesh” back in 1961, fashion has got to ditch “Nude” as a term to define skin tone. It seems that the industry thinks this label applies to ONE skin tone, a color shared by maybe 9% of the world’s population. We can’t allow them to define skin’s color in one way. If nude is skin-colored, then there are hundreds of nudes – and they include brown.

 Needless to say I never found a lace dress last year, but at least now they are coming in a greater variety of colors, so I’ll probably start that search again.

 But recently I finally stumbled upon the perfect pair of NUDE shoes. And they are just my color.

Me - in my new nude shoes

In Honor of Fashion Week: Looks That I Just Don’t Understand

In honor of the eight days of Fashion Week which begins later this week, check out these eight fashion  looks that deserve my fitting commentary.

White tights

1. White Tights
Unless you have snow white legs, white tights are not for you. Or for your daughter — have you seen all the fun tights little girls have these days? You don’t have to dress her like mom dressed you back in 1978. Get thee to Lil Missmatched right away!

Scrubs in the supermarket
2. Scrubs
In the operating room, I get it. In the dentist’s office, I expect it. On the L train? Unfathomable.

Track Suits

3. Track Suits
They’ve had their moment as leisure wear. First, the wind suits. Then the velour suits. Then the juicy on the bootie suits. It’s time to put them away. Overdue. If you must go out supercomfy, think hoodie with non-matching yoga pants.

Pleated Pants - Just say no

4. Pleated Front Pants
I ranted about this before and was told by several men that they are more comfortable for those with certain body types. Remedy: tailor your flat front pants. There’s nothing that a little tailoring cant do to make something look and feel great. But you’re talking to a girl who wears five inch heels, so clearly the comfort argument won’t go far with me.

Overalls

5. Overalls
Back in high school, people wore these with one strap hanging. Ridiculous. But oh they hang on. Ladies, stick with the jumpsuit or romper. Men, just avoid it. Unless of course you have amazing guns on display and all is potentially forgiven.

Sagging pants

6. Sagging
I can’t believe it’s 2012 and I still am subjected to this. The other day while waiting for the train, I noticed a youngster with sagging, rigidly starched SKINNY jeans, revealing almost his entire Burberry boxer short. I wanted to bump him off the platform. Now ladies, I know that some of you protest to men in skinny jeans at all. Personally, I like them, but I’m a fan of the slim-fitting, sleek European look. But sagging AND skinny. He needs to go regroup.

Flip flops at work

7. Flip Flops as an Everyday Shoe
On the beach, during your commute, I get it. But walking around the office in a plastic, nail salon flip flop? SIGH. BTW, I’m sure that you realize that we share our streets with rats, right? Not to mention urine and other questionable substances on the sidewalk.

8. Athletic Shoes with Jeans
Not fashion kicks like Pumas or Gucci’s, but jogging shoes. With jeans. I. Just. Don’t. Get. It.

And the items I was itching to put on the list, but there weren’t enough days in Fashion Week to feature them: Uggs, Crocs, sweater vests for men and khakis. Those of you who’ve followed me for a while may be pleased to know that I’ve given up on ridding the world of capri pants.

Have fun with it and enjoy the shows!

The One Thing That Can Kill My Shopping Buzz

It feels like racial profiling to me. Admittedly, it’s absolutely nothing compared to the random stop and searches so many black and Latino men go through. Meaningless compared to the dangers of Driving While Black. But nonetheless, I feel targeted and disrespected. I’m talking about people assuming that I work in the store when I’m there to shop. It’s late January — the end of the sale season so I’m fresh off the circuit, newly questioned and bristling about it.

I realize that this happens often to other people and it’s not related to race. I saw a recent article on things that black people mistake for racism, but shouldn’t. And  this was on that list. My argument is that it happens too frequently and only in certain stores for me to think that my race doesn’t play any part in the assumption that I’m in the store to serve.

Mind you, I have nothing against being a salesgirl. I often dream of quitting my job and moving to Paris to be a shopgirl and live a simple, yet fashionable life. Nothing wrong with the department store hustle, my problem is with the blanket assumption that I’m doing it.

Like once in Bloomingdales, a woman thrusted an item at me and asked me to put it on hold. When I told her I didn’t work there, she said, quite sensibly, Oh, but you aren’t wearing a coat! Right, bitch. I was trying on a dress.

At Barney’s I’ve been asked if an incredibly cute color-block dress as available in green.  Once in Neiman Marcus, a little girl ran up and asked whether the item she was holding was on sale. I question why she would ask me. She pointed at her mom across the store and said, She told me to ask you.

One time in Saks, a bewildered-looking man asked me to start a dressing room for his wife. I said I don’t work here — with an attitude. He flushes with embarrassment and stammers, I’m so sorry! It’s just that you’re holding so many clothes. We both had to laugh at that one. Pass granted.

It’s never happened to me at Macy’s or Century 21 or H&M or Target. It’s always Saks, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales or Barney’s. And it’s never happened in Bergdorf. Perhaps because I don’t look nearly polished enough to work there.

I’ve shared this complaint with other people. My white friends assure me that it also happens to them. My black friends run the gambit. Some suggest that I keep it all in stride, it’s no big deal. Others get completely off topic, asking why I’m in those stores, or suggesting that I should be shopping at a black-owned business anyway.

I’ve been developing a mentoring relationship with a senior-ranking African-American business professional and recently we had a conversation about assumptions. He described similar experiences — being with his CEO (an older white man) and people assuming he’s the driver. Driving around in his black Mercedes and people thinking he’s a car service? Entering a room for a meeting and people directing him to fix the projector.

He’s in the “take it all in stride camp.” His technique is to quickly redirect people. For example, when entering a room with his boss, he confidently steps forward and begins to introduce himself, so no one will make assumptions about why he’s there. He contends that it saves others the embarrassment of making bad assumptions.

But I’m not really interested in making them feel more comfortable. I want to feel more comfortable. I’ve decided that the next time I’m standing at the counter (on the side without the register), waiting to pay for my dress and someone hands me a credit card, I’m going to take that credit card and not even thank them for the gift.