Now this is art and useful art at that
The Closet Confidential tag recently had every fashionista peering guiltily into her closet and wondering
where she had gone wrong. What was your biggest waste of money? How about your first splurge? And that oldest item… why do I feel guilty for not owning anything older than five years?!
If your closet is the road map of your life, it certainty has its ups and downs, from that first shopping spree when you discover fashion, to the style purge/hoodie binge that is college, back up to a chic and sensible wardrobe of your fledgling career days. If this is my wardrobe’s pinnacle moment, where’s my Channel 2.55? Can I at lease get a little piece of the Pheobe Philo Celine action?
Well those highfalutin dreams may be a little off but we can still rock the label love on the lower tiers of the wastrel bracket. I’ve been managing a serious vintage addiction lately (that’s hipster for expensive thrift shopping) and there are some serious finds out there if you know how to look. Which brings us to here, 5 ways to get high… to get your closet high… to still pay rent and have a nice wardrobe (BTW happy 4/20)!
1. Decide your price point before you buy. Jumping from $5 t-shirts from H&M to $50 pre-owned Helmut Lang leaves a bruise on your wallet, even if said $50 shirt started at $225. The thing about vintage shopping is you really never know what you’re going to find. From last season’s Zac Posen pleated dress to Versace’s animal friends button down circa 1995 it is difficult to predict what you’ll see and it is imperative that you make a quick buying decision. The easiest scale for translation is to look at the price, if you can’t afford it then you can’t buy it. At the end of the day a t-shirt is just a t-shirt. It’s also important to judge the label and the quality of the item. My Zac Posen dress was $140 and is both a wonderfully made dress and from a designer I love. It was more than I was hoping to spend that day, however I had budgeted some money for a dress for an upcoming event. (Don’t forget to budget for dry cleaning and alterations.) The ultimate high item is the piece cut so well that someone doesn’t need to see the label to turn green with envy.
2. Jewelry counts. I recently read a 30 before 30 list that was blessedly free from the usual “go skydiving even if you hate roller coasters” BS; this post suggested buying a piece of jewelry that you would actually pass down to your children. This seems like a nice little way to look forward while still spending a bit on yourself today. Large stones can really change an outfit and the transition from costume to legit jewelry can have a massive impact on your outfit. A timeless piece will avoid all fads while still speaking to you on an emotional level. That kind of gravitas will add a high to any outfit.
3. Leave the cheapies for the basics. Those dollar store socks are one thing, but work button downs with holes or stains? Got.to.go. Look for high-end cuts in mid-range stores and outlets. Large outlets like Saks off the 5th can be a great place for work-wear highs, and work-wear is the part of your wardrobe where the majority of the funds should be going anyway. Ideally, you wear it more and it can actually help get you ahead. Express is a good resource for high-end cuts and their fabric is usually descent but if it feels weird in the dressing room stay away.
4. Don’t fall prey to high-price but low-end. Oh all those beautiful and drapey jersey knit tee, the whimsical muscle tanks with witty sayings, the amazing sequined loafers with leather tassels. Sigh. There are a lot of designers with really low quality standards and that Sunday splurge will be a slightly frayed regret by Wednesday. (Vintage shopping side-note: stores like Saks have their own set of rules regarding quality. Anything with a Saks tag will be well-made.)
5. Find the next big thing. Well-made pieces in fun and experimental designs tend to crop up around the senior shows of wannabe designers. Attend shows for locals designers and artisans and keep up with them. You may have just found the next big thing and if you haven’t your hand-made snake-skin bucket bag is still a one of a kind.
Back when Target first began stocking designer pieces, like Proenza Schouler and Rodarte, I would mark my calendar for every new collaboration, then things went a bit downhill. Fabrics were horrid, seams were off-kilter, and even the designs felt like boiled down versions of the originals, as if us mid-price-point shoppers couldn’t handle real fashion (which was unfortunate as the prices kept going up). Pretty soon I couldn’t afford the items, nor did I want them. Really, I was buying a name and I really didn’t even get that since they make sure to emblazoned Target everywhere as well.
I gave up for a while, previewing the collections online and always being disappointed that even if I did love a piece (like Zac Posen‘s red convertible dress) it was no doubt not carried in my Target.
Being across the pond this is all sort of a mute point now, there are no Targets here. I got to see what friends bought at the Jason Wu collab. and while everything was very nice I wasn’t too jealous as the same high-necked sun dresses and structured hand-bags are for sale at Primark. Everything is first lady suitable and Michelle Obama has set the new standard for work appropriate chic wearing a lot of Jason Wu’s creations. His mix of blues and whites is amazing as always and the trench coats are gorgeous (although I do have a very similar one from Brooklyn industries). Then I look at his Spring 2012 line and it’s just so amazing I can’t even speak. There are 100 ways to incorporate that kind of grace and shine into the mainstream collection so why is Target styling us down?
Never-the-less, I’m still excited about The Shops at Target. Glutton for punishment I suppose. This will feature clothing from The Webster, home by Privet House, make-up from The Cos Bar, and then randomly candy and dog accessories from The Candy Store and Polka Dog Bakery respectively.
Privet House looks like Anthropologie on steroids, they have a curiosity shop appeal, so expect leather suitcases, drip candles, and a few things that are avocado coloured and a bit creepy. Gosh, that sounds like my apartment. If old barns and run down asylums scare you this may not be your thing, although there seems to be a promise of re-purposed vintage books and highly-stylized mirrors which can be incorporated into any home.
The Webster, a luxury boutique in Miami, is a bit 80s, very Florida, and jaw-droppingly expensive. They carry celeb favs like ACNE, Balmain, and Barnabe Hardy – of course they will be carrying over their eye and not their designers so I suppose this stuff will all be of their own design??? (I haven’t found much about the products online beyond some boring Target-made videos saying how great these companies were, humble pie will not be sold.)
Cos Bar, where the ski bums go to glam, carries every desirable make-up product you can think of. Which seems to be the idea behind Shops at Target, a system overload.
If Privet House can maintain a price point under Anthropologie I think they have a very good chance of being a permanent installation in Targets around the US. Can’t wait to see the previews on these collections. Sorry this article wasn’t as thrilling as I’d hoped it would be when I set out writing it. There’s a hush on the new line which comes out May 6th so maybe I’ll post something then.