Wedge Sandals and (not) Rethinking my Priorities

I hate to admit it, but it turns out I’m more shallow than I thought. Here’s what happened:

I was on my way to meet the lovely AA, who, p.s., can rock a denim skort like nobody’s business, and I was running late. We were on our way to my favorite brunch spot on Smith Street, where I already knew I’d be ordering the pancakes.

Skirt

My cute Lolë skirt. I was wearing it with a shirt, though.

I parked my car with two minutes to

spare, but was a solid six-minute walk away. Since one of my resolutions for 2013 was to be more timely, I broke into a jog. I haven’t been working out much, so it felt good, which I was noticing just as my ankle gave way under my cute little wedge sandal (despite the fact that they’re Clarks) and, well, there’s no good way to say this. I wiped out.

People stopped (this was in direct contrast to the time three years ago when I lost my shirtbalance and rolled like halfway down Ocean Parkway and no one cast as much as a glance in my direction). I stood up, and what do you think is the first thing I asked? Yep. “Did I tear anything?”

Now, by “anything” I meant my cute peach-colored Lilla P. cross-over top that I just bought at my most favorite of sample sales, and my adorbs grey and peach striped skirt by a sporty brand called Lolë from REI (if you think camping stores are not good places to buy cute skirts, rethink)– both of which I’d worn only two or three times. One of the good Samaritans looked down at my leg, and I could tell what she was thinking: “You didn’t tear your skirt, but you tore a hunk of skin off your knee.” Yes, but did I tear my shirt? My skirt? A nice man sipping an iced coffee said “Uh, no, but I think you’re pretty banged up.”

Clarks sandals

The culprit

With a goose egg forming on my knee and blood running down my leg, I breathed a sigh of relief. I thought back to that Ocean Parkway rolling incident from a few years back. I’d torn the knee of my favorite jeans. Even after the attention of an expert seamstress, you could see the stitches, so I’d demoted the jeans from going-out-to-a-nice-wine-bar-jeans to going-to-trader-joe’s-jeans.

AA reaffirmed that my clothes were intact, but was a bit alarmed at the state of my leg. However, some Bandaids, Neosporin, an ice pack, some pancakes, and a nice mimosa later, I felt a lot better. I have my priorities, after all.

 

The Power of Goodbye

I like to think I’m pretty decent at what I like to call “wardrobe management” — regularly weeding out old clothes to free up closet space.  Though I confess that I am sometimes overly optimistic that I will be able to introduce an old piece back into the rotation, having been successful on a few occasions, the most notable being the Short Gap Black Cardigan Resurrection of 2008.

Still, with my recent realization that I need to have two seasons’ worth of clothes at the ready, I decided to go through my wardrobe with a more critical eye.

It occurred to me that each item I chose to relinquish had a little piece of my life attached; so I figured I’d write the stories down rather than just let them vanish into the re-fashioNYC donation bin situated handily in my basement. So here’s what I gave away.

The olive green prairie skirt, worn in Barcelona. I am also holding a Tumi bag that I just got rid of. It was about 15 years old and didn’t owe me anything anymore.

*An olive green prairie skirt I bought at Loehmann’s for $15 for a 2007 trip to Barcelona. It was perfect for bumming around the gorgeous city by day and wearing to dinner by night.

*A red and black plaid Guess coat I bought on sale at Macy’s for $83 on a spur-of-the-moment trip from Boston to the city.

*Victorian-style boots by Miz Mooz, complete with little buttons up the side that, thankfully, I didn’t actually have to button. I only wore these boots a handful of times, since they turned out to be comfortable only if I was standing still on a plush carpet and had just swallowed a handful of Aleve and washed it down with a martini. Professional organizers say you never even miss the things you throw out, but I am a little sorry I didn’t try these with some gel soles before giving them up.

*A pair of chocolate brown Aldo boots I bought with mom on one of our first outlet trips. I’d gotten three or four seasons out of them, and I was, ahem, just plain sick of them.

*A pair of Louie jeans bought at Anthropologie around 2004 that were my dressy jeans, then my work jeans, then my bumming-around jeans, until I couldn’t demote them any further.

Once you’ve moved across the country– twice– with the same black sweater, it’s time to let it go.

*A black sweater I bought at Banana Republic when I first moved to Phoenix, Arizona. I bought it before I had lived in Arizona long enough to see why sweaters there goon sale for so cheap.

*A pair of grey boots that looked like these beauties (third photo down) but were a fifth of the price. Boy, that style came and went pretty fast.

I wonder whose story these clothes will be part of next.

The Bronx is up and the Battery’s Down

New York, New York it’s a hell of a town…

I was all set to wax rhapsodic about this ad I saw on the subway and carry on and on about how it encapsulates so much of what I love about New York and how we may all be so different but we really coexist and do it quite nicely, and so what if we’re judgmental about shoes when really we respect one another’s fundamental beliefs blah blah and blah.

And then, I noticed a typo in one of the sign’s nine words. Just like that, my goodwill toward humankind — the ad-writing portion of humankind in particular — evaporated. Le sigh.

The ad is still pretty funny, though.

For Everything There is a Season

I’m pretty sure I don’t need Al Gore to tell me that global climate change is actually happening. All I have to do is look in my closet, where what I have always considered the natural order of things has been turned on its head.

We all read the stories, right? An unusually warm winter, almost no snowfall in the east. Retailers dumping winter merchandise at unheard-of discounts. Mom was a beneficiary, scoring a three-quarter length North Face coat at almost 30 percent off, though she only got to wear it once or twice this season.

But when temps reached into the 70s in March, the idea of wearing even my most-favorite sweaters made my skin crawl, so reluctantly, I reached into my closet and opened the seals on my space-saver bags. I felt a pang of regret as I watched the plastic puff up again with air, and I began digging out the blouses and t-shirts I usually retrieve sometime in May.

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Three Little Words

You know I’m not really about dissing (do people still use that word?) anyone or anything. But it’s hard to hold my tongue when I see a typo on a prominent sign, in the store of a major retailer, on one of the busiest streets in the world.

Before I go any further, let me be clear: I love me some North Face gear. In fact, it is safe to say that my North Face down coat has probably saved me from pneumonia.

That said, I have to register this complaint about an Internet kiosk at the North Face store at 73rd Street and Broadway in Manhattan. In block letters over the screen is supposed to be the message: “Exploration Starts Here.” Meaning, you can plan for your adventures  virtually, even before you don your North Face duds and go a-traveling for real.

Except, that’s not what it says, because the last “e” in “here” is missing. So instead it reads: “Exploration Starts Her.”

My more generous-minded Cousin P suggested that maybe the computer is showing a movie about a woman setting out on adventures. Hence “Exploration Starts Her…” on her journey. I don’t think so. This sign is clearly supposed to say “Exploration Starts Here.”

Another friend questioned whether the letter had fallen off. Pretty sure not. Because I have looked closely, on several occasions (here would be a good time for a perfectly justifiable ‘get a life’ comment), and I have come to the conclusion there was NEVER an “e” there.

Now, if I were a betting girl, I’d wager that before North Face put up a kiosk in the middle of a Manhattan store there were team meetings, and proposals, and specs, and more meetings, a revised proposal, and an editorial team that only had to edit: Three. Little. Words.

For me, though, the saddest part is that I seem to be just about the only one who noticed. When I pointed it out in December (nicely, I promise) the salesperson said “Oh yeah, I think someone else mentioned that like a few weeks ago.” Another salesperson added: “The person who fixes that is on vacation.” Fair enough, it was Christmas time.

But, now it’s three months later, and the Internet kiosk still stands “e”-less; shoppers pass buying vests and jackets and hiking boots, oblivious to the the typo in their midst.

Links À La Mode: What an Honor!

What a nice way to round out the old year. The Independent Fashion Bloggers network chose my post on whether you are a Saver or a Wearer as a top pick of last week. Suh-weet!

I would have posted about this accolade sooner but I was, um, well — okay, fine. I was at the mall. Along with just about every other member of the free world. Looking for bargains. I did so-so; the stock was pretty picked over. But, I will persevere. In the meantime, I will savor this nice honor.

Holiday Leftovers

Edited by Taylor Davies

I think you better just conk me upside the head with a Christmas tree, this holiday season has done a doozie on me! I’ve gone into total vacation mode, away from New York City, away from the office and deep into the mountains of Idaho. As far away as I am physically, I can’t escape our blogging community! (Not that I would want to, mind you.) I’m constantly reading, checking in, and scanning twitter to make sure I don’t miss anything good. I’m so impressed with all of our community members who are balancing their family holiday time with keeping their blogs up to date and sharing their posts on the Links a la Mode board. Here’s a sampling of the festive, fun and creative posts from this week.

THE IFB WEEKLY ROUNDUP: LINKS À LA MODE: DECEMBER 28TH

SPONSOR:

Party Dresses at Shopbop: Tucker Dresses, 10 Crosby, BE & D, Three Dots, James Perse, Peter Som, Elleryland, Alberta Ferretti, Michelle Mason, Just Cavalli, Marchesa, Casual & Sweater Dresses.


Are You a Saver or a Wearer?

The world is divided into exactly two types of people.

Wearers and Savers.

Let me explain: Sometimes you buy something new, and you have to put it on within seconds of swiping your credit card. You in fact are so excited, that after paying for your new top you make a beeline for the changing room, rip off the shirt you’re already wearing (just barely managing to close the door first), and emerge wearing your just-made purchase. If you DO manage to make it home in your old clothes, there’s no question about what you’ll be putting on bright and early the next morning. If this sounds at all familiar, you’re a Wearer.

Then there’s the shopper who keeps her new purchase snug in its shopping bag for days, sometimes weeks. This person loves the having of something new as much as she likes the new thing itself. The Saver keeps the bag in the corner of a room, savoring (no pun intended) the sheer knowledge that she has something new to wear. Sometimes she might even try on her latest purchase a couple times before actually wearing it.

I’m a Saver. In fact, as I write this I have a little bundle in the corner of my bedroom containing a dress and shirt I bought in Canada, and a little brown bag with rope handles containing a ring I bought at the Bust Craftacular as my Hannukah gift to myself (no scoffing please, Hannukah is a PERFECT excuse for a little self-indulgence, as is Arbor Day, Guy Fawkes day, and myriad other holidays).

I've been keeping one of my latest purchases in its bag. I'm a Saver. If I were a Wearer the bag would be long gone.

Whether you’re a Saver or a Wearer might have something to do with how you’re raised, or even your genes, my (not at all extensive) research has shown. Dad is a Saver. He holds on to a new pair of shoes, or a sweater, for weeks before wearing them. Mom, on the other hand, is a Wearer. She claims this is because her own mother made her be a Saver when she was a girl. My friend Nurse V is the same way; I have in fact met her for shopping and dinner, when she’s worn one thing for shopping, and something entirely different for dinner.

Not to get too psychological, but to me, once you open the package, a little bit of the excitement of having something new ebbs away. Once you start wearing it, after all, it’s no longer new. No?

Anyway, I want to hear from you. Are you a Saver, or are you a Wearer?

When You Can’t Wear Aerosoles it’s Time to Pack it in

Time was I thought of Aerosoles shoes as synonymous with old lady feet. I may be wrong about this, but it seemed to me that if you were buying Aerosoles  it was like “Hey on the way to the senior center could we swing by the mall for some Aerosoles?”

Well, seems I’m being punished for turning my once-young nose up at Aerosoles all these years.  Because not too long ago I tried on a pair and found the heels were too high. That’s right, the heels on Aerosoles were too high.

Another love lost. Photo courtesy of Aerosoles.

I was spending a weekend afternoon running errands, when a sale sign in the window of an Aerosoles store caught my eye. Inside, I spotted them. The cutest-ever, and I mean EVER, pair of wedge shoes in the Oxford style that’s so hot this fall, but with a little panel cut out of each side, the perfect summer-to-fall transition shoe. The absolute best thing about them was their purple-red color, what some might call “merlot” or “cabernet.”

The saleswoman even offered to knock an extra something-something off the sale price since I’d be buying the display pair. I put them on, excited, and stood up to strut around the store.

Only, I couldn’t strut. My ankle wobbled. My knees bent to keep me from pitching forward. I took a turn around the store, then admitted defeat. Even Aerosoles-AEROSOLES- with their soft, cushy soles were too high and hip for me. I trudged out of the store thinking “if you’re too old for Aerosoles, you’re really old.”

One thing I did learn though, is that there is a lovely wine color that’s showing up on shoes right now and I plan to drink deep– I just have to find the right pair.

I did spot these Frye beauties at Nordstrom recently, in a color elegantly named bordeaux. Still, i’m not in the market for boots this season and at Frye prices there would be no way to shut up my Really Irritating Internal Voice (RIIV) even if I were Just to try them on. Just to see how they looked, of course.

So: Fall shoes in bordeaux/merlot/cabernet. Stylish but not too high. In my (somewhat meager) price range. Let the quest begin.

Hunter Boots Keep Me From Becoming a Homicidal Maniac

When it is too warm for Brooklyn to stay a giant sheet of ice, the borough turns into a massive slush puddle. Step off the curb, and you’re ankle deep in gritty ice sludge mixed with — well, never mind. Suffice it to say, New Yorkers are super-into their dogs — and topped with a film of oil.

That’s why I’m glad that when I moved here exactly one year ago, one of the first sentences out of my mouth was  ”If I have to trudge to and from the subway in the rain and snow, I’m buying the Hunters.”

I had been having a debate with my Really Irritating Internal Voice for more than a year now. Yes, I jonesed for a pair of the knee high rubber rainboots, and even got so far as to ponder whether I’d buy them in a sleek black or a cheeky silver. I loved the fleece welly socks you could buy to line the boots, with red, striped, or even leopard-print cuffs. But still, $115 for rubber boots? Fine, you have warrants from the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen of England for “keeping royal feet” dry for generations. That’s great, but I’ll just work on avoiding the puddles.

Wrong. Turns out that accidentally stepping in a murky puddle can really ruin your day. When your feet are wrapped in soggy trouser socks, you are suddenly a much less pleasant person to share an office with. Trust me on this.

That is why, ever since I caved and ordered these completely waterproof boots, I have been a much more reasonable person.

This winter, they have kept my feet completely dry; lined with the red welly socks, my feet have stayed warm too.

The day after the Christmas blizzard, I hiked around my now-infamously unplowed neighborhood. When I returned an hour later, having at some points walked through snow that reached to my knees, my feet were bone dry.

Now, halfway through winter, I spend what feels like huge chunks of my week slogging through snow piles or stepping in puddles that are ankle-deep. Whenever I get where I’m going, my feet are always dry. I wouldn’t say they are keeping my mood sunny– I am the cranky Ms. Crisis in Denim, after all. But my waterproof friends are doing a good job of keeping me from having a complete winter melt down.

Cliche of the Week: Only in New York

Friends who live outside of New York often ask why I live in the city. For one, it’s expensive. For another, it’s a big honking hassle:  you find out mid-commute your subway is no longer going where you thought it was going; you have to stop at four different supermarkets to find the three ingredients you want for dinner.

But every once in awhile I have one of those “only in New York” shopping experiences that’s so good it keeps me going until the next time I find myself in line behind 10 people at a cafe with only one surly hipster manning the espresso machine.

One Tuesday night in early November I had just such an experience.

It was at a sample sale for the clothing label Lilla P. which makes elegant cotton basics, the kind of pieces I always say “if I could spend $100 on one long-sleeved t-shirt, it would be that one.” In fact, the first piece of clothing I purchased last summer once my lost shopping appetite returned, was a Lilla P. dress. It was a basict grey tank dress and I spent more on it than I would have liked to, but some pieces fit so well they’re worth the splurge.

I arrived at the Lilla P. sample sale a bit late, but the nice woman running the sale let me in anyway, with a smile, no less. She seemed so knowlegable about her stock that I wondered:

Was this Lilla P. herself?

She explained that she was indeed the company’s founder and owner, though her name is actually Pauline; Lilla was her grandmother.

I soon realized I was the only person still shopping, and apologized. “Don’t worry,” she said. “I have to clean up anyway.” She even called her husband to put him on childcare duty.

As I was browsing the racks, Miss Lilla herself picked through the racks and bins for me, finding pieces she thought I would like, stopping her work each time I asked her opinion.

As the “definitely taking” pile grew larger and the “no’s” pile remained scanty, I realized I was having an “only in New York” experience: having items handpicked by the designer who also happens to live in the same building as her workspace. Outside of New York, I’ve realized with dismay, almost no one knows what a sample sale is.

When I finally picked my goodies, I realized I’d made a classic sample sale mistake. I didn’t have eough cash; sample sales are notorious for taking only cash. God, you’d think I was an amateur.

That turned out to be a boon, since it meant I got to accompany Pauline to her showroom and catch a glimpse of next season’s offerings while she set her alarm for the night, then I got a few more minutes of QT with this awesome designer while we walked to the nearest ATM.

My haul for the evening: a shawl-collar layering top with ruching at the wrists — so perfect I bought one in aubergine and one in an olive. A swingy black jacket. A blousey greyish tan top, perfect for casual Fridays. And, the best find of all, a crisp black cardigan for $10; it has become a wardrobe staple I wear at least twice a week. For all five pieces I paid $100.

The only downside– I’m now totally spoiled. I only want to shop at sample sales and have the designers themselves hand-pick my purchases.

Well then, despite everything, I guess I’m in the right place.

What can I say? Only in New York.