03 September 2011

My secrets of "high-low" fashion

Part of me wants to talk a bit more about my last post, about so-called "high-low" fashion. Because I mentioned some of my favorite places to shop without mentioning them by name. So here is where I mention them by name.

Obviously, TJMaxx and Marshall's are on the list.
Noticeably missing from the list: Macy's, Dillard's, Kohl's, JCPenney, and any of those other mass retail department type stores. Why are they missing from my list?
In a word, polyester.
Most of what I have come across at these stores missing from the list is constructed of polyester. It is difficult to find natural fabrics in these stores, except for denim. (notable exception: Dillard's end-of-season clearance sales have yielded Ralph Lauren cashmere sweaters for $9.99)

With one exception, I cannot stand polyester (or any other synthetic fabric). The one exception is my bath scrubber.
Synthetic fabrics are great exfoliators, which is why I like my bath scrubber. I do not, however, like wearing anything remotely resembling my bath scrubber while I am not bathing.

I run into that same problem at TJMaxx and Marshall's, obviously, because there is just so much of this synthetic stuff out there. I mean, it's fucking everywhere!

In theory, I have no problem with a well done polyester jersey knit dress, they are quite easy-care. Literally, machine wash, machine dry, grab it while it's still warm from the dryer, and BOOM--it's ready to wear.
I have really dry skin year-round, so even these well done jersey knit fabrics tend to bother me.
There are also some natural fibers I just won't wear if they don't feel soft. I've come across some stiff, scratchy silks, wools, (obviously wool can be very scratchy), and even cashmeres (I'm looking at you, Old Navy); I refuse to wear those, too. And lurex? hell-to-the-fuck-no.
There are some nice polyester satins out there. I refuse to wear those, too. Polyester, contrary to popular mythology, DOES wrinkle. Once it does wrinkle, it is difficult to get those wrinkles out of polyester because that shit melts if exposed to too much heat. And speaking of heat, I do live in a very hot and humid part of the US, and synthetics are stifling in the heat & humidity.

Also, my own experience has shown me that if I just hold out a bit, I'll find something better that's just as affordable.
I've seen Valentino tops in TJMaxx for under $50, and I've gotten Michael Kors leather boots in Marshall's for $30. TJMaxx has also been know to get their hands on sample shoes from Charles David and Pour La Victoire and sell them for under $50. These stores can be a crap-shoot of sorts, because you never know what you might find there on any given day.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: it takes a lot of time and patience. Also, hours spent trying shit on because sizes are just all over the place from one brand to another. It's something I have to be in the mood to do, and it's something I can't do when I have other shit to do that's more important than wading through rack after rack of clothing.

In addition to TJMaxx and Marshall's, I like New York and Company clothes.
The prices are reasonable and they sell some great basics. While a lot of their stuff is synthetic fibers and therefore doesn't find its way to my closet, their pants are great. Three different lengths, with their talls being long enough for me to wear with my heels, yet they have a normal mid-rise, so that the waistband isn't hitting me at the bottom of my bra. They also do some great jersey-knit clothes out of pseudo-synthetics like rayon (which is just treated cotton). And they regularly send out 40% discounts to anybody who is on their email list, which makes them uber affordable. Another beautiful thing about NY&Co--I wear a size 2 in their pants and a 4 in their jackets/shirts, which is a bit smaller number than the sizes I wear in other brands.  
(Seeing a smaller number in the tag always feels good, even though I don't mind at all that I wear a 6 or 8 or larger in some brands. See, I've learned that there is no standardization or method-to-the-madness with clothing sizes; one brand's 8 is exactly the same size as another brand's 2--just look at size differences between Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic. And those three are all owned by the same parent company!)
Also, once you know what size you wear in their clothes at New York & Company, you can shop them online. (Side note, they also have great accessories--I've gotten many cool necklaces, bracelets, and rings there.)

Banana Republic does some great jersey-knits, too. Also, the new Mad Men Collection they just did is good stuff. We have a Banana Republic Factory Store nearby, and they frequently run 40% off sales, where even the clearance items are 40% off of the lowest ticketed price. I hate their pants, however, because they don't make a pant that I can wear with heels unless I'm willing to have the waist just beneath my bra.
While I like a high-waisted pant from time to time, I want it to be obvious that it was deliberately made that way.

One of my favorite online sites is yoox. Especially when they have their end-of-season clearance sales. Examples of the un-fucking-believable deals I've gotten there:

silk Ferragamo pants I got for under $100

I got these Armani pants in navy for $69

velvet Galliano jeans $55
perhaps my favorite so far: these high-waisted Malandrino pants in ivory for $59

Even though I don't work much (and therefore have very limited "disposable" income), I can afford to buy from yoox from time to time.

Another place where I have found ridiculously spendy clothes for ridiculously low prices? K&G Fashions. Both in-store and online. In-store, I've gotten $400 jackets for $15, $200 silk blouses for $8, and $300 skirts for $10. Online, this $860 Missoni shirt was $92 with my rewards discount and I didn't pay any shipping because they ship free to brick-and-mortar stores. I splurged, because once it quits being 100+ degrees, I'll wear this one a lot. It's got a great 70s feel to it, and it is really pretty to me.

I've gotten cashmere camisoles from Haute Look for under $20.

I'd talk about my favorite places for shoes, but I'm all over the map with that shit.

One of my favorite things to do when I am bored is hit consignment stores and/or Goodwill stores. Shopping these places makes shopping TJMaxx or Marshall's look like a quick errand.

However, I've gotten some amazing deals on shit at consignment and Goodwill stores. (Goodwill store locator) There are people out there that will get rid of things that still have the tags on them, for heaven's sake. Who the hell buys clothes then never wears them before giving them away?
And if the thought of wearing something from a "second-hand" clothing store ooks you out, think about this: even brand new clothes and shoes in retail clothing stores have been on somebody else. People try things on and then don't buy them. So there's a real good chance that that new item of clothing you're buying has touched somebody else's armpit or crotch. Gross, ain't it?
Yet I don't find it gross at all that I've gotten never-worn Ferragamo loafers for $7.06 (tax included), or a Magaschoni suit that still had the tags for $10. I've gotten $180 white jeans (new with tags) for under $15 (and really, who wants to pay more than $15 or $20 for white jeans, because how long will they stay white?)
I found a silk DVF wrap blouse for $7 at Goodwill once, like-new Buno Magli shoes for $4/pair (hit them with antifungal spray, add new heel caps, I have $300 shoes for almost nothing), cotton Theory button-up shirts for $4, and a brand-new-with-$212-tag silk Milly blouse for $7.

Another place I like to go dig around in from time to time is Stein Mart. I once got brand new, $235, non-itchy-wool Theory pants there for $2.95 plus tax. I have worn those pants so many times that they cost me like negative three dollars per wear, or 1/1000th of a cent, or some other obscure mathematically conceptual microscopic number.

When I take the time to wade through rack after rack of clothing at TJMaxx, Marshall's, or Goodwill, I can absolutely afford to wear spendy brands of clothing to work and completely fuck them up. Even with my almost non-existent income, I can afford to spend $7 on a pair of $200 pants and only wear them 4 times before they are ruined. If you use the cost-per wear theory, that's less than $2 per wear.

So there are some of my secrets for "high-low" fashion.

That is all for today.


  1. Wow, I didn't know you were a fashion goddess! I would love to tag along on a shopping trip and watch you do your thing. Thanks for the tips!

  2. I don't know about goddess, but I would totally love to have you along on a shopping excursion. It's always nice to have company, and a second opinion.
    Also, lunch. I forget to eat if someone isn't there to remind me.

  3. I love your hints and your links! Thanks for taking us through that!

    Also, thank you for reading my poem and commenting. Hardly anyone has seen that one.