Dear Philly: Why Do You Hate My Clothes?

things in my closet philadelphians hate

See? They’re not that weird. | Photo by Alixe Wiley.

It was a Friday after work, and I was meeting an old friend from high school whom I hadn’t seen in years. We were catching up over cocktails at a bar in Center City, deep in the thick of boy drama and family happenings and scandalous things that high school acquaintances have gotten into since we were 17, when I felt someone caressing my back. “Is that fur?” I heard a slurry voice way too close to my ear ask. I turned to see a frat boy past his prime and his crew of drunk dudes snickering. They’d obviously weighed in on how this interaction was about to go down. Drunk Dude #1 was still pawing at my fur vest and slightly perspiring, when I shot back in my most cutting tone, “I’m sorry, are you touching me?” He was the third person within earshot to make some comment about what I was wearing (but the first to cross into personal bubble territory). I’d been there for 20 minutes. Read more »

Here’s What Happens When You Spring for Your First Pair of Designer Shoes

Designer shoes 1

Behold, my first pair of designer shoes. | Photo by Lauren McGrath.

Until very recently, I considered designer shoes, clothes, anything, completely out of the realm of a possibility for me to own (unless found in a rare vintage shopping moment of glory). Let’s face it, I’m a broke millennial with student loans that eat my paychecks faster than you can say “I know guac is extra.” However, a recent trip to New York ended somehow in a euphoric train ride home clutching my first pair of designer shoes like a newborn baby, and no one was more surprised than me. 

It’s all Emily Goulet’s fault, really. I guess that’s what you get when you go to the Big Apple with a shopping editor. One minute I was at a showroom in Chelsea taking notes for a story, and the next I was falling truly, madly, deeply in love with a pair of embellished black booties. The location was Jeffrey, a non-threatening alternative to Bergdorf Goodman, with a cool selection of luxury brands—far too luxurious for me to be shopping there.

But there they were, the most beautiful boots I’d ever seen. “Dries Van Noten,” the salesman cooed, watching me quiver with joy as I ran my fingers across the funky iridescent stitching. I tried to play it cool, stealing a glance at the price sticker, but I lost all control of facial expression when I saw the number. And then I realized that this number was the markdown price—a 70 percent discount from the original four-figure cost. Emily told me to try them on anyway. (“If you were a shoe, you would be those boots,” she said.) I slipped them on, audibly sighing. They were dreamier than any man, ever.  Read more »

Confession: I Wear Maternity Jeans Even Though I’m Not Pregnant

maternity jeans

Heaven: Maternity jeans on sale at the Gap.

I could have at least four different-sized human beings shop in my closet right now, as it is filled with pants ranging from size 0 to size 10. They don’t vary in waistline as much as you’d think because we’re talking about the women’s clothing industry, after all, and a size 6 at J.Crew is in no way similar to a size 6 at Talbot’s. It’s not as though I gain and lose 30 pounds every month. I do, however, gain and lose about eight pounds every month, and that is not insignificant when you’re trying to put an outfit together. (Oh, menopause! When will you arrive?)

Last month, after another morning spent trying on and then shedding pants that wouldn’t button like a waterlogged molting snake, I took my angry menstrual self to the Gap for new jeans. I had recently given a bunch of clothing to Goodwill, and forgotten to keep some big jeans for the fat half of the month. As I browsed the tidy shelves admiringly (I used to work at the Gap, and still remember the folding process as exquisitely satisfying), I thought, “If only they made expandable jeans that would work with me throughout the month, like with a big elastic waistband.” I started thinking I should invent them and become rich. I saw myself on QVC with impossibly terrific hair, chatting with Isaac Mizrahi about the planets, my manicure superb. Then I walked to the back of the store and oh my god there they were I already invented them. In the maternity section. Read more »

Why Are Women So Furious About the Lilly Pulitzer for Target Collection?


A preview of the collection for Target. | Photo via Target.

No other designer collaboration has sparked as much vitriol as the Lilly Pulitzer for Target collection. The announcement was initially met with glee. Yay! Lilly! The bluebloods come down to earth! Red plastic Target would turn into a porcelain teapot of floral shifts! Lilly—God rest her soul—would surely be cheering in her grave at the thought of her clothing—a happy accident, really, the outcome of a fruit juice stand venture (to camouflage fruit stains, she fashioned simple dresses out of colorful floral-print cotton)—now being made available to the masses! Think about it: Instead of going to stuffy debutante balls, she rode donkeys. She’d want everyone to wear her clothes.

Not so fast. These people were misinformed. Lilly, a Palm Beach socialite, they said, would not be happy. In fact, she’d be “turning over in her grave!” Refinery29 rounded up 39 reactions from these furious Lilly die-hards, many of them sounding like classist, bratty sorority mean-girls.

Read more.

An Ode to ’90s Shopping: Delia’s, Wet Seal and Deb Closing Forever


Farewell, crazy capitalization. | Image via Buzzfeed.

I spent the majority of my childhood wearing clothing—nay, outfits—from Hartstrings, otherwise known as the matching mecca of the free world. Everything I wore from Hartstrings came in sets. Shirts matched jumpers matched headbands matched socks. I was like a little walking panel of wallpaper, swathed head to toe in florals, or strawberries, or whales.

After years of matching, I rebelled. In sixth grade, I began poaching my dad’s jeans, lopping off a few inches at the bottom with scissors and then changing into them on the school bus.* I paired these pants—haphazardly paper-bagged on my waist with a weird rope belt—with marker-scribbled Vans and No Fear t-shirts (though, truth be told, I feared pretty much everything). I even owned a Stone Temple Pilots t-shirt, which was my prized possession for at least two years. In terms of fashion statements, it didn’t say much, but what it telegraphed was far more important to a pre-teen: “I listen to cool music” and, even better: “My parents let me go to a concert.”

Sometime during this stage, the Delia’s catalog began arriving at my house. It was like getting Moses’s stone tablets in the mail. This was the style bible, even more so than YM and Seventeen. You’d go to those magazines for very scientific quizzes that could predict whether or not your crush liked you back. You went to the Delia’s catalog to tune into the pulse of teenage fashion and culture. The styles were all very retro, but we didn’t realize that at the time.

“As a girl locked in the woods of Vermont, it was my access to mainstream America,” says my friend Jess, who now has a closet full of Chanel and Prada. “I had to have what Six was wearing. And avoid what Blossom had on.” Pause. “Wait, Six was the cute one, right?”

Read more.

Nordstrom Rack, Century 21, and the Future of Center City Discount Shopping


Logos via the stores. Design by Alyse Moyer.

There were rumblings for more than a year, and then, early last spring, they grew to a fever pitch. Finally, in late April, the announcement came: Philly was getting a Century 21, the fabled New York bastion of off-price designer merchandise. It was almost too good to be true. After all, only six months earlier, Nordstrom Rack — that department store’s off-price sister — had announced it, too, was planting Center City roots, in the old Daffy’s building at 17th and Chestnut.

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I Wrote Down Everything I Bought For One Year


Some of the buys that made my list.

In December of 2013, I issued myself a challenge. For one calendar year, I’d keep track of every single apparel item and accessory I bought. The idea came to me as I did my annual pre-new-year closet purge, a very serious affair that is as cathartic as it is enlightening.

As I sorted a mountain of clothes into Toss, Donate and Consign bags, I realized that my shopping habits were creating the sort of closet I didn’t want to have: one that was reasonably packed but not ‘thoughtful’ or ‘curated’ or ‘edited’ or any of those other buzzwords that fashionable people cling to. My walk-in is a whirl of colors, ruffles, fur, kimonos and caftans and is quite obviously lacking in anything that could be remotely considered practical. For every fantastic piece—a pair of gorgeous silk pants by The Row—there was an equally forgettable item—a pair of polyester-heavy pants by BCBG. I loved most of my things, but not all of them.

I’ve long recognized that my shopping modus operandi is pure impulsivity. I buy things when I am very happy, or very sad, or very bored. I buy most things when I feel a very particular sort of pang in my chest. The problem is that I get this pang over things that are appropriate for a life that I don’t actually live, i.e. a gigantic neon green Roksanda Ilincic ball-gown skirt that I had to own but have still never worn because one doesn’t wear neon green ball-gown skirts to places like work or CVS or Acme.

Read more.

Seven Fashion Trends To Embrace In 2015—And Three To Avoid


Which are you ready to try?

Another year, another long list of trends that will sweep through stores. And even if you swear that you don’t care about trends—which, yes, can feel alarmingly fleeting and curiously random—it’s impossible to completely avoid their influence. And this is where it gets tricky: Which are actually worth following? Sure, culottes seem like a good idea, especially when expertly styled in the pages of Vogue and on willowy street-style stars, but what about in real life?

Here’s a handy rundown of seven trends you’ll be seeing everywhere in 2015—all of which are worth adopting, and none of which will ever fade entirely out of style. (Proof: Platforms are back.) Oh, and just for good measure, I’ve also got three that you should probably avoid. Consider this your guidebook to looking fresh this new year.

Read more »

There’s an Actual Waitlist for This $1,750 Fendi Keychain


Back in July, word started to spread about the elusive Karl Lagerfeld Fendi keychain. Ringing in at $1,750, it was über-exclusive, could only be scored at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, and had already amassed a several hundred person-long waitlist. That series of descriptors isn’t uncommon for limited edition designer duds, but this is a keychain—a very expensive mink and fox fur keychain—but a keychain nonetheless.

Keep reading for 5 better ways to spend your dough.

Why Sneakers Are the New Heels — And 10 Ways to Style Them


My (calf-hair) kicks.

I’m five-feet-three-inches tall. Most people—even sometimes my very own husband—don’t realize this, because I spend approximately 93 percent of my life in very high heels.

I’ve been wearing them since I can remember, and as I’ve gotten older, my heels have gotten taller. It’s like taking off the training wheels, over and over again. You ditch the stubby square heels for kitten heels, then you swap these for taller but still walkable heels, and then you’re off on pin-thin stilettos, racing towards osteoarthritis and a life of Dr. Scholls.

But is the age-old equation—high style = higher heels—fading away? And if it is, where does that leave me and my shelves of stilettos, platforms and wedges? Can you really be stylish … in sneakers?

Keep reading for v. important musings.

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