Friday, September 28, 2007

More on Bloomingale's, Chevy Chase!

If you didn't make it to the grand opening festivities, fret not! There are still a ton of special events going on throughout the month of October. The events range from special gifts with purchases to designer appearances to a cup of Godiva cocoa to enjoy while shopping. I still haven't been able to go checkout the new store, but I have every intention of making it there this weekend and giving a full report on Monday!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Project 4 Gallery, Vintage Trunk Show

Pucci, Chanel, champagne--need I say more? September 28-30, Project 4 Gallery on U St. will be hosting a vintage trunk show entitled "The Vintage Project." More details for the event can be found on the Washington Post site. Tomorrow night is the cocktail reception and fashion show, with some of the proceeds from sales going to charity. I don't know how pricey the pieces will run, but nonetheless it's still always fun to look. While I'm not sure what all "The Vintage Project" will entail, I do know that there's nothing I love more than vintage fashion and free champagne!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bloomingdale's Chevy Chase

I've been watching the construction of the new Bloomingale's for some time now, and apparently the much-anticipated grand opening is this weekend!

In case that's not incentive enough to go can sign up for the Special Preview Event tomorrow night, and you'll receive a $25 gift card!!! Did I mention that not only do you get a gift card, but your shopping buddy does as well?! Sorry if I seem a tad excited, but what's better than a new store to explore and essentially being given money?

I just found out about this today or I would have posted about it much sooner. Sorry for the late notice, but hurry and sign up today for some serious trouble tomorrow night :).

For those of you that can't make the special preview night tomorrow, I'll scout things out and give a full review on Thursday. Yay Bloomies!!!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Foundation Garments

The best of outfits can be completely ruined if you're not wearing the proper pieces underneath. While I am not going to delve into the depths of women's lingerie, I do want to take the time to sing the praises of Spanx; a product line that has salvaged many a rather snug ensemble. Also, it is necessary to note that wearing Spanx has nothing to do with being fat. Sara Blakely, the esteemed inventress, is very thin; the whole idea is to create a smooth look underneath your lovely clothes. While out shopping, a very common phrase amongst my friends is "this looks great, but with Spanx under it, of course!"

In my opinion Spanx are truly a girl's best friend. We should all thank Sara Blakely for coming up with a product that is slimming, comfortable, and doesn't make you feel like you're wearing your grandmother's girdle. The story about how Spanx started is pretty neat, so you should definitely read up while perusing the website. If you're not familiar with the line and feel overwhelmed, I will give you a crash course on my favorite products and some tips on where to find them at a discount!

Power Panties
The original Spanx are reminiscent of the granny panties sported by Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jone's Diary. However, don't laugh, they are good at their job. An updated version has recently come out called girl shorts and don't come down as far on your thigh. These are highly recommended if you're wearing something shorter and don't want someone to accidentally see that power panties are the reason you're looking oh so slim.

I detest pantyhose: they're a pain to get on, you're afraid of running them, the waist is always too high and then it starts to roll down, and they're just an all-around hassle! However, in many workplaces and in colder months they're a necessity. Thankfully, Spanx hosiery is just a amazing as the power panties. Yes, they're a tad on the pricey side, BUT they don't run as easily as normal hose so they last much, much longer. Another huge plus is the waist band. I'm short waisted, so with most hose I can pretty much pull them up to my neck and then they roll into a nice inner tube-like band around my waist. Spanx, on the other hand, hit at a perfect level and they don't budge!

Spanx has your normal every day selection of tights with the wonderful features of all Spanx hosiery. This year, however, they also have several very snazzy patterend tights to choose from. My favorites, though, are the 2-sided tights. Being the money savvy girl that I am (or attempt to be), these reversible tights are like getting 2 for the price of 1! I can't get away from this section without mentioning the footless tights, otherwise known as leggings. I admit, I'm guilty, I love them.

The articles I've mentioned above are merely some of the ones that I am familiar with, but I have yet to find a Spanx product that has let me down!

Now, let's chat cheap. Spanx are rather pricey (but worth every penny); however, occasionally you can find them at a discount. Loehman's probably has the best selection, but you are still rather limited in styles, colors, and sizes. Off 5th usually has a couple of slips or body shapers, but I've never seen more than a handful. All in all, Spanx are one of the few cases where I think it is best to just go ahead and buy whatever you need at full price. It pains me to say that, but it's true...

Fret not,though, I'm not going to leave you on a pricey note! Occasionally certain organizations will run specials with the Spanx website where you get a discount and a portion of the purchase goes to charity! It just so happens that the Junior League of Washington is running a special during the month of October: see below for details.

"During October, SPANX is again offering Junior League members a special limited-time 25% discount on the company's entire product line and the opportunity to earn $5 per order for JLW. Select your purchases at . When you are ready to place your order, enter JLW's unique code, " Washington ," into the promotion code box found on the last page of checkout and a 25% discount will be applied. For each order placed using this special online promotional code of "Washington," SPANX will donate $5 back to JLW. Last year, JLW was the number one League in orders placed and received $1,400!"

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bridesmaid Dresses

Bridesmaid dresses: for years those two words have conjured up dreadful images of ruffles, puffed sleeves, and dyeable shoes. A lot of progress has been made over the years and brides seem to be more sensible. Many brides-to-be are even giving their bridesmaids the option of picking out their own dress; isn't that fantastic! Well, it is and it isn't. True, you may be able to find something you can actually wear more than once (and to something other than a costume party/tacky prom); however, where does one even begin to shop for one! Most of us single girls have not spent a lot of time perusing various bridal stores, and some of them can be rather intimidating if you don't have a rock on your finger. Depending on the parameters the bride-to-be has set, there are actually a lot of places to look. In addition, some of the traditional bridal stores may have some decent options; either way be sure to bring a shopping buddy, because it is a truly entertaining experience.

With several of my dear friends getting married this year, I've spent a lot of time at Priscilla of Boston and learned a lot about dress shopping. I hope to help those of you that feel lost, overwhelmed, and frustrated to find a dress that works: one that's cute, cheap, and makes the future Mrs. happy.

While the spring Wedding Season is still many months away, if you've been asked to be part of the bridal party you have started (or need to start) shopping for your dress. Many stores suggest allowing around three months to get the order placed and get your alterations done. As I have said before, do not underestimate the importance of alterations. Formal dresses tend to run small, so it's often best to up a couple of sizes and have a seamstress nip it and tuck it to suit your body. I have also recently learned that several retailers only take orders and don't actually carry any of the dresses for you to try on. Now the useful part; I'll go through store by store and share my new-found knowledge.

Priscilla of Boston
Personally, this probably would have been one of the last places I looked for a bridesmaid dress. I would have thought that it would have been super pricey and, quite frankly, I would have been far too terrified to walk in there with a naked left ring finger. I was quite wrong! While accompanying a friend wedding dress hunting, I discovered that they carried several different labels of bridesmaid dress and most of them were cute and surprisingly cheap. Most of the dresses were under $250 with many under $200, and if the bride purchases her dress there you get a discount on bridesmaid dresses. There was an excellent selection of dresses with lots of color options and many had different sashes and other accent pieces that could be ordered in different colors. Another huge plus is that you can actually try the dresses on and see how they fit. Oh and it's worth mentioning that the store was not nearly as scary as I thought it would be. To be perfectly honest, I would go back and get a dress there for a cocktail party or black tie event.

I remember when J.Crew started carrying bridesmaid dresses. Many a young lady were thrilled that should her friend ever get married, she could just go to trusty '0le J.Crew! I'm sad to say that I have not been impressed. Yes, most of the dresses are re-wearable; and they should be! You may be lucky enough to find one that matches your bride's color swatch, but otherwise the dresses go from around $200 to over $400. I can't fathom paying over $400 for a bridesmaid dress. It is also worth mentioning that they do not carry these dresses in the stores, so you have to blindly order them. When it comes to dresses, I greatly prefer being able to try them on; they all fit so differently and you never know what size to get.

Ann Taylor
This section is going to be a bit sparse, because I have not had a lot of experience with their wedding collection. However, from what I can tell the selection of dresses can vary greatly by season. I looked several months ago and there were only two; I just looked now and there are two whole pages! The dresses are much more reasonably priced than J. Crew and there is that familiarity with the store that can be reassuring. Like J. Crew these are not generally carried in stores, but since they are not terribly pricey you can probably afford to actually get the alteration (at J. Crew after spending $400 you'll be taping hemlines with duct tape!).

Probably the biggest selection you'll find online; however, some of these dresses are actually in stores but some are online only. If you click on the dress it specifies its online vs. actual store availability. The prices cover a broad spectrum and if you're lucky enough to find one on sale you can possibly snag one for under $100. That right there makes looking through all 9 pages of dresses (some rather hideous) worthwhile. The color choices here can be rather limited, though, since some are just normal dresses that they have flagged as being bridesmaid-compatible.

David's Bridal
It wouldn't be much of a post if I didn't mention David's Bridal (I bet you've all got that "you'll love David's Bridal" song stuck in your head now), but I saved this for last since this would probably be my last resort. It's not that I'm snobby and don't want to go to a warehouse of sorts; warehouses generally mean deals and I LOVE that. I was honestly scarred by the whole experience. I went with a friend who had to get a specific dress from there. The place was overwhelming, the service was atrocious (Springfield, VA), the dresses were poorly made (the one my friend got looks like it's been through a war zone), and they were expensive! I think it was the cost for the poor quality that shocked me the most. The bridesmaid dresses are around $130-$200 and that is before you pay $50 for hemming alone. There were some cute dresses and they did have a good selection of colors and styles. Oh and don't think this is a last minute resort, because they need at least three months. Unless you find one on sale or you can't find a certain color anywhere else, I would probably avoid this place; you won't love David's Bridal.

The places I've listed about are just the big targets to hit; other good places are the formal sections of department stores, the prom section if the season's right, vintage stores could land you an awesome piece, and if all else fails you (or a friend that can sew) can make your own!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Weekend Recap

This weekend while strolling around Capitol Hill, I finally got to check out the new vintage store that opened called Remix; it was amazing! Vintage stores can totally be hit or miss, depending on the pieces the owner has selected. Many stores tend to be filled with mediocre pieces and the whole experience ends up being too overwhelming (it basically feels like being in an over-priced Goodwill). This is definitely not the case at Remix! There were so many amazing things that I don't know where to begin: the clothes, the bags, the jewelry, the hats, the coats...

The coats deserve mention of their own. I did not purchase one this time, but I have every intention of going back. Swing coats are especially big this year, and what better than an authentic one! Many of the coats were 100% cashmere, in great condition, and under $200. Now, I just need to decide what color I desperately need.

There are many reasons I love vintage pieces, but high on that list is the unique factor. Nothing is worse than seeing tons of people in your beloved VonFurstenberg dress, but what's a girl to do?! Well, aside from making your own clothes vintage pieces are a GREAT option. Just keep in mind that the sizing can vary quite a bit, so don't feel bad about going up 4 sizes.

It's not always necessary to be out shopping to find something new and exciting. I ran into my neighbor over the weekend and she had the cutest pair of slides on! I immediately commented on how much I like them, which led to a conversation about how they give your feet and workout and are super affordable. They're called Oka B's and you can find them online. She was wearing a brown pair of the Madison's with a gold ribbon; perfect for fall! And to top it all off there are two eyelets across the toe part so you can switch the ribbons out as your heart desires!

Friday, September 7, 2007


I absolutely LOVE Goodwill (maybe even more than Gabe's!). However, it is perhaps one of the most daunting of digs because some days you're just sorting through someone's smelly old t-shirts. On the flip side, there's the possibility of finding a "vintage" Lacoste polo for a whopping $2.50! If that's not motivation to roll up your sleeves and start digging, then you're a lost cause.

Goodwill is a gold mine for finding "vintage" pieces;I keep putting vintage in quotes because not all items are necessarily vintage. It's just that I have been to plenty of so-called vintage stores that were basically a refined Goodwill charging $50 for the same aforementioned Lacoste polo.

For those of you that have never shopped at Goodwill, it's time for you to get broken in piece by piece.

Polos: Lacoste, Burberry, Ralph Lauren--the best place to look for polos is in the men's section. Just be careful not to buy a size XXXL men's polo if you're normally a women's Small/Medium.

Sweaters: Once again the men's section seems to be the best place to start looking. The key thing to remember when buying Goodwill sweaters is to look for ones that are made from natural fibers such as cotton or wool. Also, be sure to look for moth holes; some may be easily repaired, but others aren't worth it.

Truly Vintage Concert T's: Now this may not be up everyone's alley, but if you like those old Queen, Journey, REO Speedwagon t-shirts (and you don't want to buy the $45 replicas) then look no further than Goodwill. It is kind of like looking for a needle in a haystack, but finding that metallic screen printed Queen Bohemian Rhapsody shirt is totally worth it.

Skirts, Suits,Dresses: When sorting through these racks I generally go for vintage shapes/styles instead of designer labels. That's not to say you can't find designer pieces, but sometimes an 80's Escada suit is better left untouched. These are generally pieces that you'll want to try on since the sizes can vary so much. Keep in mind what's "in" for the upcoming season and you may just find the perfect black pencil skirt for $5. Also remember that when you're paying such a nominal price, it's definitely worth your money to look at an item and see how it could be altered for an updated look. This can be as simple as taking the hem up on a skirt by a few inches.

Furs: I sometimes think it's surprising the amount of furs you'll find at Goodwill, but some of them are quite nice (especially after a good cleaning) and rather affordable. Paying $50 for a mink stole is not bad considering what they normally cost. In addition, many people that are not keen on wearing furs find vintage pieces more socially acceptable. All in all, you get a cheap fur that's not affecting the current supply/demand chain of furs sold in stores and it's probably got a great history to it (feel free to use your imagination here).

Accessories: While I have never had success with handbags, belts, or shoes, I have found some lovely scarves! These will probably cost you about $1; 100% silk might be $2. This is another area where I don't look for labels; I look for colors and patterns that I like. I am still optimistic, though, that one of these days I'll find a Pucci scarf with my name on it :)

So, if you're on the edge of your chair googling to find the nearest Goodwill, figuring out when you have time to make the journey, I have something to satiate your appetite. I've recently discovered that Goodwill has an online auction! I can't say that I've had a lot of time to explore this, but I did type in Jimmy Choo the one day and a pair of shoes (not my size) popped up for $60!

You should be set now; don't get discouraged if you don't find any clothes. There's always the housewares, record albums, etc. that can be quite intriguing as well!