Category Archives: Shopping

Show me the experience!

ultimate fashion angela bailey KeAndrea Pettermon and LaWanda Bailey

L – R: Angela Bailey, KeAndrea Pettermon, LaWanda Bailey of Urban Reflections
photo courtesy, 12.17.2012

If you live in the Central Florida area and have been around me for more than 5 consecutive seconds this week, you may have heard of Walk This Way productions. They produce fashion shows. Kick-butt fashion shows. But what you may not realize is that this Sunday evening, they are producing a mind-blowing, over-the-top, Ultimate Fashion Experience benefitting Urban Reflections, the charitable arm of their organization that shows at-risk youth in Lakeland that the sky’s the limit in life regardless of one’s shape, size, or ethnicity.

I really like that.

So of course, I’ll be there. Soaking up the style inspiration. Blogging. And let’s be honest, probably shakin’ my butt a bit. So that you can be inspired. To express your style. To expose yourself to new perspectives. To shake your butt. You know, the important stuff in life.

If you’re in Central Florida, you’re going to want to come by. You can buy tickets here through eventbrite, but you’d better do it soon, because the word on the Lakeland-area street is that they’re almost sold out.

And just for k’s and g’s (as the Hattie’s Branches proprietors would say), I’m going to draw inspiration from designers featured in the show for my outfits this weekend, beginning tomorrow. Let me know what you think!

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THE Scarf

Okay, so I can’t do a series of posts on scarves without at least mentioning THE scarf–an Hermes.

According to Nina Garcia (author of The One Hundred), an Hermes scarf is sold somewhere in the world every twenty-five seconds. That’s particularly amazing considering the crazy-intricate process a 90-cm-square piece of silk endures before it leaves the design house sporting the famous “H” (you can find a full run-down of the process in Garcia’s aforementioned book).

If, like me, your current budget doesn’t allow you to be a member of this (no doubt elated) scarf-aquisition party, there’s much to be said for simply observing and appreciating the level of quality that results from design with such intention.

When it comes to forming your personal style, study the best to familiarize yourself with great craftsmanship and design.  Then it will be easier for you to spot these qualities wherever you find them (whether or not they are stamped with an H).

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Wear your clothes

“The fashionable woman wears clothes.

The clothes don’t wear her.”

Mary Quant

Bargain elements of this outfit:
Dress: Calvin Klein via Ross
Bag: B. Makowsky via T.J. Maxx

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Live zesty!

“Zest is the secret of all beauty.”

There is no beauty that is attractive without zest.”

Christian Dior

This outfit is almost entirely composed of bargain, thrift, consignment, and vintage purchases.

Shirt: What’s New Consignment, $1 
Shoes: Nine West via Marshall’s
Bag: B. Makowsky via T.J. Maxx
Necklace: Rae’s Retro (local vintage store)

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Shopping bargain, thrift, consignment, & vintage

B. Makowsky bag from T.J. Maxx

I’ll be the first to admit it—I have a love/hate relationship with bargain, vintage, and thrift/consignment stores.  With a few exceptions, I have not found them to be the most reliable places to pick up basic building blocks for my wardrobe.

That being said, I do shop bargain stores (such as T.J. Maxx and Marshalls) regularly for a few particular items, and often find special little “extras” at thrift and consignment stores.  So if you’re feeling really adventurous, here are a few things that I’ve found helpful when shopping these types of stores.

  • Have the right frame of mind.  I can’t shop these stores when I need to find something (although I highly recommend doing any clothes shopping before you need something.  It is a proven law that when you need jeans, all you will find is a dress, and vice versa).  Go with the realization that you may not find anything, but you may uncover a gem.
  • Don’t attempt to cover the entire store.  Unless you have an entire day to spend in the store and a constitution of steel, it’s too overwhelming.
  • Decide in advance what you’re looking for.  I generally shop bargain stores for bags (I have been getting fabulous, high-quality bags at a fraction of their original price for years at T.J. Maxx) and shoes.  Also, I have a favorite brand of T-shirt that I regularly shop Marshalls for (I can find them quickly because the brand name is listed above the rack). So when I go to those stores, I proceed straight to those racks and don’t bother with the rest of the store.
  • Some vintage and thrift stores have higher quality/designer items separated out into a special section.  I tend to go straight to those sections, as I find they yield the best results.
  • In a vintage or consignment store, if I find a piece I really like but I’m not willing to pay the price they’re asking, I’ll keep an eye on it for the next few weeks.  If it’s still in the store a month later, I may (politely) note to the salesperson that it has been in the store for a while, and would they be willing to take X dollars for it?  This works especially well in consignment stores (because many times, the store doesn’t make money until the item is sold).

This week, to inspire you to venture into bargain, vintage, and thrift/consignment stores, I’ll share photos of some of my favorite finds.  I’d love to know what your favorite items to purchase at these types of stores are.  Do you have any strategies for canvassing the store?

Happy shopping!

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Hitting the mall

This jacket is one of my favorite mall purchases. Photo by Michael Vera.

Shopping at a large mall offers a great selection of items, but can be overwhelming (not to mention time-consuming).  I prefer to spend less time shopping for my clothes and more time living in them, so below I’ve shared some of my favorite tips that I hope will make your mall trips more fruitful and fun.

  • Shop alone. Wear simple clothing (for easy changing in the dressing room) with minimal accessories (to avoid catching them on any delicate items).
  • Focus on the stores that best reflect your style.
  • Have a list of what you need. (The Shopping Strategy by Nina Garcia makes this process super-easy by breaking it down into 3 questions: What do I have?  What do I need? and What do I want? Bonus: it’s simply gorgeous due to the work of famed illustrator Ruben Toledo).
  • Keep in mind your B.A.S.E. wardrobe (does it flatter your body type, will it serve you well for situations you most often find yourself in, etc.?).  As you practice, you will be able to browse through merchandise much, much faster.
  • Rarely deviate from your list of needed items (example: a find from the gods appears before you, such as when I found a perfectly-fitting, just-my-style Dolce and Gabbana skirt suit ON SALE ON SALE ON SALE at a local consignment shop).   Being a.)desperate for anything, or b.) depressed/frustrated/hungry/cranky are not good reasons to buy random items.
  • Let a salesperson help you, but don’t let them talk you into things that aren’t for you.  Personal examples:

I walk into Sephora.  The fact that there are literally 800 blushes on the shelf makes me want to call it a day and run to the nearest Starbucks for a Venti Caramel Macchiato, but I tell a salesperson that I am looking for a blush and give her a few ideas of what I like, and pretty soon she has narrowed those 800 (you think I’m kidding) options down to 5, from which I can pretty somewhat easily choose one.

I am in the dressing room. Salesperson: “Why don’t you try on this neon yellow top?  Neon yellow is THE color to wear this season.” Me: “Thanks, but I don’t prefer neon yellow.  I really like these kelly green shorts, though.” At which point the salesperson jokes about my husband calling and saying I can buy whatever I want, so why don’t I buy both? And then brings me a pair of neon yellow jeans.  And a neon yellow headband.

  • Don’t settle!  Many times, our choices are not between good and bad, but between good and best (perhaps much of life is characterized by this dilemma?).
  • Be patient.  Unless you are a person of unlimited means, creating a wardrobe that showcases the fabulousness that is you is a process, not a one-day fix.  Hold out for special pieces that really become you.

Now that you’ve bagged a few amazing pieces to incorporate into your wardrobe, take a few minutes to enjoy a nice cup of Earl Grey in the food court while people-watching.  There–that wasn’t so bad, was it?

I’d love to hear your tips on what makes your shopping trips more productive (or any shopping frustrations you have)!  Please leave me a note in the comment section below.

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Shopping on the interwebs

Earlier, I claimed that my friend Stephanie can find anything online, and I confidently stand behind that claim. The internet offers many great fashion resources from designers to bargains, and today she shares some great advice to help you maximize your online shopping experience.


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Shopping designer labels with Tammy

I’m so sorry, everyone! Here is the video of my discussion with Tammy that was supposed to be in my last post, but I was experiencing technical difficulties.

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Shopping designer labels

I’m starting out this series on shopping strategies with a discussion on shopping designer because I think it’s always a great idea to begin by drawing inspiration from the designers, who often work with high quality materials and turn out magnificent pieces.

Even if your wallet doesn’t yet contain enough cash to take home a designer piece, familiarizing yourself with designers’ work has many benefits.

One, you get a feel for high-quality craftsmanship, which will help you recognize quality workmanship at various price points. Two, you learn whose work you identify with, which can help you when trying to create a wardrobe that reflects a cohesive style.

So check out Tammy’s advice for shopping designer pieces (and forgive my nodding bobblehead; I’m just trying to soak up all the juicy advice she’s throwing out there!).

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Shop smarter, not harder

Okay, so now that we’ve figured out the elements of building a B.A.S.E. wardrobe (remember: body-appropriate, age-appropriate, situation-appropriate, and expense), it’s time to go shopping!

If you’re one of the people who shrieked with delight upon reading the word “shopping,” you might be in the minority. While some of my friends love to shop, many find the thought unpleasant and overwhelming.

So this week, AIS is going to give you some shopping strategies to help you navigate and conquer the world (or at least the mall).

Tammy, one of the best trend spotters I know, will help me kick off the week by discussing shopping for designer items. Next up, Stephanie (a.k.a. The Woman Who Can Find Anything Online) gives us tips for navigating the wild world of internet shopping. Finally, I’ll wrap up the series by giving you my best strategies for mastering the mall trip, thrift shops, and discount stores.

Happy (really, I mean it!) shopping!

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