Thursday, May 17, 2007

Designer Denim

"Seven Jeans, True Religion, I say no, but..." Even Fergie Ferg knows good designer jeans! There's really nothing quite like a pair of well-fitted, designer jeans. Not only can they make you look fantastic, but they can be dressed up or down with very little effort. The only problem is a good pair of jeans sports a price tag of $100+++; they get quite pricey, very quickly. For instance, as much as I had to have them, there was no way that I was going to pay around$200 for a pair of this season's hottest Siwy skinny jeans! Oh wait, I didn't, I only paid $60 for them...

Designer Denim is possibly one of the easiest items to find at a discount. If you know the right places to look you can find a wide variety of brands, styles, washes and sizes. You may not be able to find what you're looking for every time, but if you pick up a pair here and there for between $40-60 you'll find that you have a nice collection of designer jeans and you've saved yourself a lot of money. You can hardly even find jeans at any old store in the mall for that cheap! To make this easy, I'll just make a list of stores, the brands they tend to carry, and possibly some handy pointers. Whatever you do though, DO NOT squeeze into something that is too small just because it's cheap; the muffin man is not your friend...

Marshalls/TJ Maxx-Blue Cult, Seven for All Mankind, AG, Citizens of Humanity, Paper Denim and Cloth (The tricky thing with these places is that you may only find a couple of pairs and they're usually hidden amongst the Junior jeans. It is especially frustrating if the only pairs you're finding are a size 25 that you can barely fit your arm into.)

Gabrielle Brothers-Seven for All Mankind, True Religion, Blue Cult (If you really look you can find normal TR's, but a lot of them look like they were over-distressed. Some of them may need a zipper replaced or a seam stitched, but when you're paying $40 for something that's over $170 what's a few extra dollars to have them fixed.)

Off 5th/Last Call-Siwy, Seven for All Mankind, AG, Citizens of Humanity, Rock & Republic, Antik (Those are the ones that you normally see at the outlets, but I've never really had any good jean finds at outlets; they're usually still priced around $100 which is cheaper than normal but more than I prefer to pay. However, Off 5th has tons of Seven's, so if you NEED a pair and don't mind paying that much, it's a good go-to.)

Neiman Marcus/Saks 5th Avenue: the Sale Racks-All of the brands mentioned above, but you can also find Paige, Chip and Pepper, Habitual, and others that the stores normally carry. A NM sale rack just so happens to be where I found my $60 Siwy Hannah Jeans! Sale racks at department stores can be a Gold Mine; however, sales are generally seasonal so it's not something that is always going to be there.

There are also numerous online sites that will run pretty good sales on jeans, but there's a reason I haven't mentioned them. Jeans can be tricky, even when it's a designer you've worn before. Unless you've tried the EXACT style on in a store, I'd be wary about buying jeans online...

If you've never worn designer jeans before, you are probably going to have to try on a few different brands before you figure out which one fits you best. Check out the websites though, because many of the brands will tell you what body-shape they cater towards. It may seem a lot easier to just go to the Gap and grab the good old standard bootcut, but trust me...when you find the right pair of designer jeans you (and everyone else) will see that is is well worth the effort!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mother's Day

With so many ad's out about "the perfect gift for Mom" where does one begin? How about those diamond earrings from Jared the Galleria of Jewelers or something straight from the heart from Shaw's Jewelers; I know...what about Alase laser hair removal! Let's be honest, those ad's you hear on the radio are far from helpful. I mean, you may as well just get Mom a car from Eastern Motor's while you're at it.

Mother's Day gifts are a tough want to get something nice, something memorable, something she'll like, but not expensive. It's also a plus if you get something that's somewhat original. I also like the idea of a gift that she'll be able to have for awhile. Gift certificates to spas, salons, etc. are nice, but when they're used up there's really nothing to show for it.

All that being said, I still haven't bought anything for my mother yet! However, I do have a plan of attack...keep in mind, though, that everyone's mom is different and what my mother may like, yours may hate.

The first place I plan on scouring is Annie Creamcheese in Georgetown. It's an excellent vintage store that has tons of designer pieces (I found an incredible Pucci dress from the 70's there)! So, I'm thinking of finding some little deisgner accessory like a coinpurse or something similar. There are so many treasures there, though, so who knows what I'll find!

My next stop is Filene's Basement (the new one that opened by Tyson's). This is the perfect place to find really nice silk scarves. Most Filene's have a pretty good selection, of big, rectangular designer scarves for around $60; you can find Gucci, Missoni, Moschino, YSL, etc. In addition the last time I was at Filene's they had smaller, square Missoni scarves (perfect for headbands) that had been around $100 for only $15! Now if that isn't a great gift idea, I dont know what is. Plus, that's cheap enough you can pick one up for yourself while you're at it...

I really like the concept of a nice scarf as a gift. There are so many different varieties, they're pretty, they last for ages, and they're versatile! As I mentioned earlier, though, just make sure you get something that Mom will actually like; it doesn't matter if you just forked over several paychecks for something from Mervis Diamond Importers...if she doesn't like it, it's not a good gift.

Happy Mother's Day and Happy Mother's Day Shopping!!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Outlet Malls

Outlet Malls: guaranteed place to find a bargain, right? True, I've found some a-mazing pieces; however, it's also easy to get duped by the theory that because it's at an outlet it's a deal. I'm sure this will be the first of many times I discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of outlet shopping, so consider this a crash course.

For those of you that reside in the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, you are within an hour or two of some excellent outlets. Leesburg Corner, Potomac Mills, Arundel Mills--three of my favorite places to invest my paycheck. While each of those have their own unique attributes, there are a few underlying principles to keep in mind while shopping at any outlet mall.

First, certain outlets base prices are better than others. For example, the Burberry store at the Leesburg outlet offers prices that are 50% less than their base! This is incredible if you're looking to purchase that timeless Burberry trench that normally sells for almost $1,000. At other stores, though, the outlet prices may actually be more than what you pay if you found that item on the sale rack at the actual store.

Speaking of sale racks...this is the first place I head in any store, outlets included. Off 5th (the Saks Fifth Avenue outlet) and Last Call (the Neiman Marcus outlet) always have TONS of stuff that's marked down from the outlet price, which has already been marked down from the store price. Not to gloat, but over the weekend I found maybe the best deal I've come across at Last Call (Arundel Mills). Alas, it was not something I purchased for myself, but it's better to give than receive, right? Anyways, as I was looking through the final sale rack I stumbled across a silk, Armani, bubble skirt that, according to the orignial tag, had been $1,295 marked down to....are you sitting down...$79.99!!! I couldn't believe my eyes; I kept looking at the skirt thinking there had to be something seriously wrong, but I found nothing! Being the wonderful daughter that I am, I of course thought of my mother (ok, so it wasn't my size), clutched the skirt dearly, and headed to the cash register. I'm such a good child...

Another thing to look for are the coupons that many outlet stores send out quite frequently. Off 5th is especially good for this; they routinely send out 20-30% off cards and they also give you a "Gas Money" card that is good for $10 off your next purchase of $50 or more. Last Call offers 5% off your entire purchase if you use a Neiman Marcus card; not a lot, but every little bit counts.

Now that you're all jealous over my current find, I've given you enough of a road map to head out and start scouring for your own treasures. However, it's important to not get discouraged if you don't find that $150 pair of Manolos the first time out. Sometimes you come back empty handed and others you're toting home an Armani skirt :)