Amelie Rio stockings: A Love Story

I'm not really sure if it's infatuation or not, but I cannot stop thinking about a pair of stockings I saw in the window display at MaxMara today.  I know it sounds absurd, but please hear me out.

My family went to South Coast Plaza to check out the sales.  It was really just a chance to explore and walk into ridiculous stores like Valentino (the sales clerk there was super rude, like, "well the sale rack is over there"), or go into Burberry and try on this brown, gray, black, and blue monstrosity of a fur coat that originally cost $10,000 but I would not take if you gave it to me for free because it was so ugly.

I passed by the window of the MaxMara store and caught a brief glimpse of these beauties and thought, those look interesting.  I did not know anything about MaxMara or where it stood on the totem pole of Italian fashion houses.  I did not even know it was Italian.

I went straight to the clerk and asked for the stockings.  She got very excited and ushered me to the back room and plucked out a little package and placed it in my hands.  "That's the very last pair I've got!" she said, and I felt a little thrill run down my spine.  I flipped it over and my face fell.  They cost $70.  I mean, I was bracing myself for a high price, but this was crazy!  The most expensive tights I've ever seen up till now were $30.  I opened the package and pulled them over my hands--they were even more beautiful up close, made of some top-quality stuff, and I could see the full effect of the gorgeous diamond weave pattern.

I'd never seen tights like this in my life.  I didn't know stockings could be so lovely--they even had this sweet gray velvet ribbon trim at the top, a detail that was not lost on me.

I stood there in a store surrounded by 50% off items and had fallen for the one thing that was not on sale.  $70 is an absurd price to pay for a pair of glorified socks, I understand.

But when you think about it, $70 is a relatively modest price for a piece of pure, unadulterated luxury.  People spend much more than that on jewelry, coats, handbags, shoes, and on and on.  This is the one time I was not driven by practicality or necessity of any kind, but only by an appreciation for something that was beautiful and well-made, unique, distinctive, and difficult to find.  I figure, I do not buy expensive jewelry, or handbags over $50, and the one pair of boots I have cost $40 at freaking Shoe Pavilion!

I asked about the return policy--you may know of my bad habit of buying things up and then returning them weeks later when I decide not to keep them--the lady said, no returns on hosiery or perfume.  It was a moment of truth, a black-and-white choice, and I was at a complete impasse.  My mom was with me and looked almost as if she was going to let me buy them (with my own money of course), but then she started to talk me out of them.  What if they run, she said.  What kind of skirt are you going to wear with them.  Your calves are too fat.  You're going to abuse them, etc.  

But what really let me walk away today was thinking, I will try to find them online for a lower price.  Fat chance!  MaxMara doesn't even have a website.  And the only place to buy their hosiery online seems to be a bunch of UK retailers.  And it is certainly impossible to find this particular style/model.

Of course.  Meanwhile I have not been able to stop thinking about them since I walked out of the store.  So now I am seriously considering calling the MaxMara store tomorrow and asking them to hold the stockings until I can drive all the way down again and claim them as my own.

Annie: For 70 bucks they'd better be sprinkled with diamond dust! 
<after I sent her the picture>  
Annie: OK from what I can see they are the ribbon too...but if they are glorified socks...I cant say I'd have been able to fathom spending 70 for 'em.
Me:  I know
Annie:  But yes-- i can see why they'd haunt your thoughts...I once found these adorable amazing plaid ankle booties that buckled up by Betsey Johnson at Nordstrom Rack and R____ swore up and down that he could not let me get them, especially since they were $200.  But I dream about them all the time...cause they were so unique! and can't find them anywhere online
Annie: so--if your sock/tights are anything like those should totally just get them cause it'll KILL your subconscious
me:  i know!  i've let things like this go before.  You know what happens, is it'll eat me up and i'll lose a lot of sleep searching online for them.  And then i'll find like a deficient version of them (like the wrong color or a differenct size), and I'll get it and sometimes pay even more for it.
me: and then i'll regret it 
Annie:  oh yeah....especially if you know an HM knockoff will not suffice
me: even started looking at other luxury hosiery brands online, and nothing comes close
Annie: I even went back the next day and the booties were gone...Steph--these were the most ugly sounding kickass gorgeous shoes.  hehhee
me:  tragic love story.  
me: i wonder if it is morally wrong to lust after inanimate objects like this?
me:  there is no lack of gorgeous things in the world.  if I give in to this, when does it end?

Dilemmas: Which Rafe bag should I get?

I have never bought a handbag for more than... $35, I think, and that was a black Guess mini-bag (what my friend Jane calls an 'armpit bag' because it fits neatly right under your arm like that).  I liked it a lot and it served its purpose well as an all-purpose bag.  

Being of cheap quality though, the handle has been cracking in many spots for a long time, and I think it may be time to graduate from it, and possibly make the leap into 'designer,' or at least real leather, handbags.  As always, I refuse to pay full price and am looking for something that stays within a sane price range.

A few weeks ago, the Gilt Groupe offered a sale on Rafe New York handbags and I was enamored with the designs. Well structured rather than slouchy, with lots of shiny details, buckles, and embellishments.  And an embossed patent-leather crocodile texture I find very hard to resist.  I also like the fact that the designer has a non-conventional background (he's a Filipino immigrant).  I was too chicken to take the plunge back then, but I found that Amazon is selling the bags for... if not the same rock-bottom prices as GG, at least lower than anyone else on the market.

I'm pretty sure I want to get myself one for Christmas.  I just can't decide which one to get--the front-flap messenger bag for $174 (from $475), the medium-sized trapezoidal-looking tote for $183 (from $495), or the large, roomy tote for $228 (from $595.. probably the best deal)?

Thoughts much appreciated.

Alexander McQueen says, "I want you to wear animals!"

I don't know a whole lot about Alexander McQueen except that he likes to push the envelope, and his clothing is way out of my price range (even at Gilt Groupe prices).  That doesn't mean I can't appreciate the darkly fantastical quality in his designs, like something out of a modern vampire novel (maybe if the Twilight kids found themselves on the set of Gossip Girl).  Just a twinge of urban gothic.

Here are some of today's sale items that spoke to me.  They said, "We're a little dangerous and will leave a slight strange taste in your mouth."  Hah!

I don't especially like the idea of wearing animal materials for their own sake--I draw the line at killing animals for fashion. (Though, I'm apparently okay with wearing leather if I get to eat the steak =P)  But these pieces are... interesting.  I'm intrigued by the beast of a goat-fur armored tote bag and the python slingback heels especially.  And I love the structure of his dresses.

Fashion Friday: Dresses of Plaid

Taking a cue from Annie's series of dresses, I thought I'd share the one trend that's really gotten under my skin--silk tartan gowns.  Not your usual frumpy plaid flannel stuff!  These offerings by Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander McQueen and others are cheeky, irreverent and unexpectedly gorgeous (I think).  I like how flowy they are in silk, and how the loud, distracting pattern doesn't quite mask the gorgeous structure of the dresses.  I wish I could make one for myself this holiday season.

Dilemmas: Stuff I am considering from before Monday

They are having a free shipping special.  I am a sucker for free shipping, and these are all on major sale.

1. Beaded bangle/cuff ($16.99 from $24.).  Not much in the way of savings, but it's so purty.
2. Paisley cotton rug ($30 from $68)  I'm pretty much sure I'm going to get it because I've been eyeing it for a while (and yes I know it looks just like the fabric I bought).
3. Miss Sixty lace-up boot ($150 from $300).  I love the way it looks but I don't know if my ankles can handle the 3.5" heel, or my wallet the hefty price.
4. Funky oxford ($30 from $88).  Seems like a great deal, but I realize not everyone can pull off this vintage look.
5. Penguin trench with contrast trim ($125 from $295).  Great deal too, but is it just me or is it not that well tailored around the waist?
6. Military band jacket ($50 from $88).  I bet Garry would love this if they made one for men.  It is like, oh-so-hipster.

Thoughts/votes welcomed.

UPDATE: I decided against the cuff (I probably wouldn't end up wearing it and can get someting similar at Forever 21), the trench coat (poor-looking fit and unsure about the contrast trim), and the military band jacket (it's cool, but ultimately not my style).

I added the following items:

I plan to try everything on and probably return half the stuff.  Yayyyy free shipping!

Thoughts on Anthropologie

Annie: Well I've never really bought/shopped there cause i always thought it was too pricey...I think I should reevaluate (havent been in one for yrs)

Me: well if you get stuff on sale it's pretty good, but i agree their regular priced stuff is absurd

Annie: yeah i think i remember falling in love with a skirt but they were charging like $150 for it...i was shocked cause it was flimsy

Me: was it made out of gold =P

Annie: hahaha that or the eternal soul of a fairy =)

Stephanie: fairy baby eyelashes, spun into gossamer thread!

Fashion Friday, part 2: My mom weighs in (of course)

From: my mom
Date: Fri, Nov 21, 2008 at 5:18 AM
Subject: commence about the jacket
To: me

Dearest Tami !!!
I think is pretty cute, will make U look light, with some kind of classic taste
although is not the best,but it look more than O.K., but 've some doubt it is the very good buy
@ the moment that a lots of these department stores are really really SLASHING their prices to fight to get people
to shop @ their stores for the holidays, I don't want U to too RUSH to get it, except, only when U really really LIKE IT SO MUCHHHHHHHHH
HOW ABOUT THE MATERIAL ?  Dose it 've good quality EXPENSIVE LOOK ??
from the pictures I cann't really tell about the color, did U put it on @ day time with the good light & See Carefully, & see is the color look Fresh
& new Not DULL & OLD, then see is color O.K. on U
then decide , if  U are not sure or 100 % really like, then the answer is NO NO NO
do not buy it just because U afraid U are losing a good chance or a deal, that is not right
the condition out there is so bad , they even said, who ever 've the money on hand is a KING right now
all those car dealers have mountain high piles of cars on the lots that they cannot sell, slashing prices too.........,.... on & on
so no reason to RUSH SHOPPING & BUY
Love U

A second helping of Fashion Friday

DISCLAIMER: This entry's gonna make me sound like a hopeless girl drowning in her own vanity.  Straight males and girls who have better things to think about, feel free to move right along.

I have a confession to make this Friday evenin'.  After a few months living with the Paiges I bought at Century 21 (NYC's best kept secret), I realize I love them.  Now, one thing that frustrates me about peoples' obsession with premium denim is that I've rarely heard anyone who was able to articulate a) exactly what makes them different from the regular store-bought variety, and b) why they were worth the absurd price.  Because of this, I always assumed they were brand whores interested mostly in the status they were buying, deluding themselves into thinking they were paying for higher quality or better fit, and collecting designer jeans like some people collect broken hearts.  I don't care what you say, 8+ pairs of $150-$200 jeans in anyone's closet is absurd.

That said, I am considering investing in another 1 or 2 pairs.  And I'm going to try to articulate my reasons in an attempt to show it isn't really the status I'm buying or just another excuse to show off.  Feel free to let me know if I'm only kidding myself.

1) I refuse to pay more than about half off retail for these jeans.  I think my current upper limit is about $100, which when you think of it is not that much more than a pair of full-priced jeans at your usual BR or Express (though it is a far cry from my grubby $23 Gap jeans).

2) They make me feel more polished and grown up.  I think it's the tailoring that makes them decidedly un-grubby, and the slight heft, the weight of the fabric does a good job keeping my fatty little pooch in check (all that food comes at a price, eh?).  I guess you could say it buys me a little bit of confidence.  Which is what true fashion is about, in my humble opinion--some combination of self-expression and aspiration.

3) Butt pocket designs.  I'm sure 75% of the reason I love my Paige jeans so much is the gorgeous embroidery on the butt pockets.  They are a delightful surprise every time I catch them peeking out in the mirror, and they instantly elevate everything else I'm wearing.  When I see designer jeans with plain/bland butt pockets, I can't help but think, "Why bother?"

4) Fit through the thighs.  It's pretty inevitable that regular jeans, without the added lycra or tailoring, stretch out and sag abominably just under the butt.  I never used to notice it before, but now I see it everywhere, on everyone. One thing I've come to appreciate about my Paiges is their uncanny ability to cling to my butt.  Hah!  I don't think all designer jeans are created equal in this respect--I've really only tried on 1-2 brands so I'm not sure which have mastered it, but I've definitely seen coworkers (my coworkers are all obsessed with premium denim and refuse to wear anything else) wearing designer jeans that also sag abominablyAgain: "Why bother?"

5) A beautiful, confident drape.  See the pictures below.

6) Lovely washes--though many regular denim brands do this just as well.

Anyway.  I decided to educate myself a bit on some of the brands available out there, so I could begin to sort out my preferences.  Here are some ones I particularly liked:
  • AG, or Adriano Goldschmied - shown here are his 'Angel' and 'Legend' styles
  • Antik Denim - kind of risky with its mod-western styling, but I kind of like it
  • Stella Jean by Chip & Pepper - just an all around classic shape
  • Passion Jean by Goldsign - my favorites after Paige!
  • Standard Glory Jean by Habitual - I like the unique Maltese cross
  • J & Company - they have the most ornate/elaborate pocket design, and yes, I love it.
  • James Jeans - yup, the butt pockets
  • Paige jeans - practically perfect in every way
  • The Bellisima Jean by Rich & Skinny - lovely shape, bratty name
  • Good ole Rock & Republic - showing their Jaguar and Kurt styles.  R&R is definitely overworn though.
  • Classic Dojo Jean from 7 For All Mankind.  Also overworn but still rockin.

Anyone else have favorites they want to recommend?

As a side note, I am really liking the Gilt Groupe's offerings.  It's just barely within the price range I'd be willing to pay for certain items...not cheap (I still have to hem and haw about everything) but not impossible.  In other words, I'm doomed.

Early Fashion Friday: I hope this doesn't make me a 'fashionista'

My very stylish coworker just invited me to join Gilt Groupe (like the wordplay with 'guilt,' not so hot on the unnecessary misspelling of 'group'), an invitation-only site that posts 36-hour sales from top designers at sample-sale prices.  Emphasis on the 'sample sale prices'--who pays retail for anything anymore?

Current sales: Habitual, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Kim Seybert, Made Her Think, Alvin Valley, Lorelei, Herve Ledger, Chloe, Temple St. Clair

Let me know if you want an invitation...I get $25 if you join and buy something =D