Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Window Shopping in Changing Times...

I find myself admitting to my addictions on this blog. As my very tolerant husband will attest to, I am addicted to online shopping, albeit the window kind. He'll peak over my shoulder and sigh "shopping again??'' to which I'll reply "nooo!! I'm just browsing!!". It's one of my favorite things to do, laptop on, well, my lap, in front of the TV while watching "Fringe"; "Fringe" Josh Jackson and cool old guy with perfect comedic timing meet fringe suede hobo bag on  I find it strange that I'm still so enamored with fashion, especially as I live in LA (jeans and tank tops in summer, jeans and other tops in the 2 non-summer months). I'm not socialite or a movie star so 'events' aren't often on my iCalendar. But I have loved fashion since I first bought a 400 page Italian Vogue when I was on a family trip to Europe at age ten. I lugged the massive magazine home, pilfering through the pages saturated with images of Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington draped in Versace (Gianni not Donatella). I found myself responsible for all Christmas shopping for both parents on behalf of both parents and handled myself very nicely at a Chanel boutique, aged fourteen, choosing a purse for my mom's 40th from a very condescending saleswench.  I continue to assist my mom and her check book by helping her plan and pack for various trips and stopping her from making any expensive 'trend based' purchases that the Holt Renfrew salesladies try to push (they generally cringe when they see me) but also fawning over that perfect ivory Fendi coat that I swear she would wear for ten years. I'm not saying I shop personally, well not like I'd like to (mostly due to the choice of career and my talent for doing work that I don't get paid for) but I have to admit- I'm addicted to fashion and the web only feeds my addiction.

November 2008 is not a good time to admit this 'problem'. It's almost taboo to admit that you went shopping and are really in to fashion, especially when the average cost of the seven dresses Jennifer Connelly wears in the new Marie Claire spread is $3100 (not counting the random $100 H&M dress).  Who would dare admit that spending that sort of money on one black dress in this economy is OK so how can we support the inflated industry!?  And anyway, aren't I supposed to be a sci-fi geek? Since embracing the true geek that I am, I've started to worry (regardless of the tough economic times) that my 'passion for fashion' isn't dissipating and being replaced by a World of Warcraft account. I keep thinking that to be truly geek worthy I have to give up my fashion blogs for comics. But I just haven't had the time (I mean with all my online 'browsing' and all) and maybe I don't want to. Fixating on a cluster of magazine tear-outs illuminating the perfect way to mix a vintage floral dress with a rockstar studded belt is heaven to me! It's something about the visuals and the balance of sillouette and style. I know that I should be hooking up the PS3 and checking out the demos but I just haven't gotten there yet. I have lookbooks to create! Maybe I can be the love child of Felicia Day and Julia Allison. They're both web goddesses who are creative, successful and entrepreneurial in spirit but for very different things. I just don't want to lose my geek cred when someone finds out that I went through the entire Paris Fashion Week slide show on the NYTimes site.

Maybe though, I should focus on how my love of fashion (is there another word I can use? I mean 'clothes' sounds so pedestrian) can function in this new world. In today's climate of economic worries, I'm bombarded with emails announcing sales and special offers codes for free shipping and 30% off. A recent Friday trip to Saks (just to pick up my visiting brother's girlfriend, not to shop) yielded a ghostly scene with pre-sale tags on almost everything and desperate salespeople clinging on to the few of us actually in the store. Shopping is just viewed as a heinous thing right now and people are raising their crucifixes at the site of a couture window display! Lord forbid we covet frivolous items like a new Balenciaga bag? I mean people are losing their jobs, so buy the damn bag at Target! But I digress (mostly because I love my B Bag, it makes me happy). The new trends are not about fashion but about simplifying one's life and not over consuming. Actually, people aren't consuming at all. I just got a newsfeed from, yes, a fashion blog ( with disconcerting news that General Growth Properties, the second largest mall operator in the country, may have to file for bankruptcy. No growth there- no one is shopping.

So we're at a cross roads: Over-consumption and the encouragement of it were (and yes I meant it in the past tense) integral parts of our way of life and in part responsible for the growth of our economy (and our massive trade deficit) as well as the ultimate downturn of it. $1100 Louboutin booties and $2400 Chanel 2.55 bags, as ridiculous as they sound, were a result of economics- the market could bear it. A sense of entitlement permeated our society where sophomores in high school thought it only reasonable that they should have Marc by Marc Jacobs book totes and all of us adults thought it our right to qualify for $700,000 mortgages. Magazines promoted the 'have it all' lifestyle through their 24/7 coverage of celebrities ('they're just like us!') and people forked over the plastic, confident that their home value had appreciated another 10% just in the time that they had been out at Whole Foods. Now that we are all in recession shell shock, we are compounding the problem by becoming vigilant commerce isolationists. Everyone is cutting back, even the few that don't need to, because it's what the media is now telling us to do. I fear it may take a few years and countless business casualties for us to peak our heads into the consumer world again without shame.

People in retail talk about survival of the fittest, both referring to stores and brands. There was exponential growth in the fashion world- at least 25 different denim lines are selling (or trying to sell) with price points in the $200's. Remember when se7en jeans first came out and they were $130? It was scandalous. And it was only 10 years ago. Now look what we're accustomed too.

Taking all this into account, I was just thinking about the perfect fashion filled day for me: first, I would be home (and not just because I don't want to be pelted with eggs). After an attempt at elliptical exercise, I would catch up on my DVR'd 'Lipstick Jungle' (I know, it's one of the four non sci-fi shows I watch, but it actually kinda is sci-fi when you think of it because those women can't exist in the real world). Then I would go through all my magazines- I have a two foot pile of Vogues, Luckys, Marie Claires and Harper's Bazaars (don't get me started on my decorating mag collection, that's for another day) that are (neatly) piled throughout my living room and office. I would then tear out and arrange the dog eared pages -which means that there is a 'look' that I like- into a Look Book (somehow, I'd have a nifty binder with countless clear sleeves at my disposal that I would use to organize the tear-outs into a cohesive bible of fashion storytelling). And then I would go through my closet and snap pictures of potential outfits inspired by those pages and upload them to my iPhoto, much like like Alicia Silverstone did in 'Clueless' (hello! almost a perfect movie so don't make fun of me). Finally, after re-organizing my closet, I would curl up on my very comfy couch with some form of nourishment and watch the entire 7th Season of 'Buffy' on DVD, periodically thinking about all the non-events that I would be able to showcase my outfits at. My laptop would probably be really close by too, just in case I needed to browse. That would be a perfect day without spending a dime. But that won't satiate my addiction forever and if we all zap ourselves every time we approach the Beverly Center, it may not be there when we're finally ready to return. But maybe that's a good thing. Hmmmmm. I just have a feeling that I'll still find my way to whatever fashion URLS are left when the dust settles. And hopefully the market will be a little more rational in what products and prices it chooses to bear. Until then use the code EARLYGIFT at Shopbop to get 30% off any and every full priced item until midnight tonight!  OK, "Hi, my name is T and I'm a online fashion addict...""Hi T..." Be back soon.

All Things T

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