Indie Alternatives

1. Secret Garden Vest 2. Tsarina Tee 3. Embellished Cavalry Dress

So by now, I think it’s obvious how much I love All Saints Spitalfields.  I’ve done more than one entry about the fabulous things they carry.  But how about if you love their stuff and just can’t (or won’t) justify a purchase of one of their amazing tees (see above)?  Well, I’ve found some lovely substitutes that I may like even just a wee bit more…

The first tee is a print made up of a collage of Audubon birds with jungle-canopy motifs–I bought this in an all0ver-print silk dress, and I absolutely adore it.

The second is a shirt I’ve been eyeing, and hoping it will get down into my price range (right now, the $45 clearance price tag is still too steep for a tee that’s not fair trade, made in America/indie, or organic–oh yeah, and I’m poor).

The third is a graphic of a horse skeleton, hummingbird, and some flowers.  Very Dia de los Muertos, no?  LOVE.  Remember that scene in Bedknobs and Broomsticks when the armor all comes to life??  Well, this isn’t really like that, but it makes me think of it for some strange reason.  Beautiful print, in any case.

And now for the alternatives:

$20 by Isotope at Etsy.com

Bird medley, anyone?  Check out this tee from Isotope at Etsy.com.  Chock-full of Audubon’s finest avians, and what a buy; only twenty bucks!

And may I suggest just cutting the ribbing off the neckline?  It looks so nice and kind of makes it look less Hanes-y, more girly.  I also like to trim down the sleeves.  I end up doing this to most of my normal-gauge tees.

Etsy has so many wonderful offerings in the way of original tees–they are always my first stop when looking for something unique.

“A Deer Wearing Gym Socks” $22 at Society6.com

Now if t-shirt #2 is more your speed (Ha! Animals in clothing, how droll!), check this tee out from CharmaineOlivia at Society6.com.  A slightly more goofy take on the concept–but it’s so friggin’ cute, how could wearing this not bring a smile to your face?

“Fox Confessor,” $22 at Society6.com

Finally, for my favorite tee alternative, we have Fox Confessor, by Lindsey Carr/Little Robot. It is a morbid montage that makes my black, black heart skip a beat!  $22 can’t buy me happiness, but it can make me want to get dressed in the morning!

This shirt reminds me of a time my boyfriend found a dead fox right along the shore of Red House Lake in Alleghany State Park (Paterson, you mook, KEEP THE PARK OPEN!!).  I was afraid to take it (for the fur, people, not some other dark purpose) because it was a young, healthy-looking male with no visible signs of trauma.  Rabies is not uncommon in WNY.  Instead we reported it to the rangers and let it lie.  ::Sigh:: I think about that fur… a lot.

Anyway, Ms. Carr’s paintings are to die for.  Her allegorical style is most attractive…  in truth, everything this artist has listed is beautiful–buy it all!

Simply stunning. “My Deer Friend Flight Dress” by MeAndOli

For those of us who cannot live on t-shirts and jeans alone… make dressing up for work fun!

Check out this line by MeAndOli at Etsy.com.  Their prints are so lovely, I can hardly contain myself!!  A very friendly seller, and she does absolutely beautiful work, as you can see.  Custom digi-prints (we know how much I love my digi-prints!) make for a gorgeous, unique line of whimsical dresses.  The pretty little number to the right is a silk and cotton blend; lovely and comfortable in all seasons!  And at less than half the price of an All Saints dress, it’s a downright bargain besides!

And finally, for that really custom item you’ve been looking for…

Pelican Briefs by SlipperySlopeBloomer, $311

SlipperySlopeBloomer transforms old underpinnings with nothing more than the humble Sharpy.  Audubon’s prints have n’er looked sae sexy!  What would I do with a pair of control-top briefs bedecked in pelican-y goodness?  Well, duh… I’d wear them with my…  …  um… tutu!  At my trapeze lessons!  Perfection!  Seriously though, I’d find somewhere to wear these babies!!  I hope there will be some more daily-wear options available in the near future! 🙂

Gannet Corset, by SlipperSlopeBloomer, $492

I’m also quite taken with the Gannet corset.  One could wear that over a nice tank with jeans and enjoy a night on the town!

Well, I’m spent.  I hope you’ve enjoyed my (mostly) more cost-effective/righteous-in-the-way-of-supporting-individuals-versus-corporations entry.  I invite any and all comments, and encourage everyone to send praise to and/or purchase from these fine artisans I’ve so proudly touted!   Cheers to all! 🙂

Madam? Meet Henri…

I went to Henri Bendel for the first time today.  Ladies, this place is like crack.  I saw that stupid movie, Confessions of a Shopaholic or whatever, but for a moment or two in those glittery walls, I understood what her problem was.  I walked outta there with so much dopamine in my system, I didn’t care that lunch was over and I had to go back to my sad, sad life on the outside.

I’m telling you, the lighting, the arrangement of each product, the music… even the smell… all worked in perfect harmony.  It was the Optimus Prime of merchandising.

I work for free.  I have no income to speak of.  Yet I almost lost my will completely and it took all the strength I had not to buy something.  Beautiful pave starfish rings (oh, starfish have been my summer obsession)… enameled songbirds… CEOLACANTH?/MUDSKIPPER? NECKLACES 40% OFF!!!  How did I resist??  Divine intervention, I suppose.  Actually, I convinced myself that since my birthday is in three weeks, there was the off-chance that someone who loved me verrrrrry much might have them waiting for me after the cake (ahem, yellow with real buttercream, please–they’re all on the second floor by the spiral staircase–shhhh!).

Bah.  Humbug.  It only hurts when I think about it…   I could make those things instead of spending an average of $150 for each one (even with the 40% off–ouch!).  But the question is… will I?  Nah…

These boots weren’t made for walkin’…

Arrgh!! And they're even MORE on sale now--WHY can't this boot be comfortable?!

So I broke down last Friday and headed out to All Saints to snag those lovely pony boots if they were still there in my size.  Well, they were (YES!!!!).  So I tried them on.  Um… I haven’t been that let down since  my first (and last) kiss with my good Lieutenant.

Ladies, those boots are horrifically uncomfortable!  Now, I’m the type who can ignore a little discomfort of the feet.  I’m a bloody fashion major, here.  But this was ridiculous.  No padding on the insole, nothing.  Now I would expect that in a $300 pair of boots the manufacturer could spring for a heel pod–hell, how ’bout just a little bit of high-density foam, eh??  Come ON, All Saints!  Those boots were on clearance because they HURT!

Even as I was trying them on, a woman next to me said, “Ooh, where’d you get those?”  And I replied, “They’re on clearance! Over against the far wall!”  She was so into them, she tried a pair on as well.  Both pair remained in the store that day.  Bummer.  I’m highly irresponsible when it comes to a sweet-arsed pair of boots, but even I couldn’t bring myself to take those puppies home.  ::Sigh::  So no pony boots for me.

She's just so cute I can't stand it!!

Instead I came home and ordered a bunch of Princess Choo Choo paraphernalia off Ebay to ease my as-of-then unsatisfied urge to acquire.  I’m not sorry–now I have a sweet appointment book in which to record all of my not-interviews and unimportant tidbits of everyday drivel.  But that drivel looks awfully nice with kitty faces all over it!

…buy yourself somethin’ pretty!

This weekend, my sister and I entertained a guest (Gratis en Vogue‘s R.C.).  We had a great time shopping, exploring, and lazing about for three days straight.  Of course, we took her to Kinokuniya (where I picked up the BEST inspiration book for jewelry), Crumbs (my new favorite red-velvet cupcake spot), and Anthropologie (big sale right now, ladies!).  But we also went down to Soho so that I could show her All Saints (512 Broadway, south of Prince), Topshop and Pearl River Mart.

Well, you already know what happened at All Saints–my ponygirl boots were on sale and I didn’t get them (there’s still time, I hope).  Topshop was chock-full of lovelies, and I was especially taken with their lingerie-inspired dresses–they looked like they jumped right out of those old Bonny and Clyde-type movies.  But the winner of the day was Pearl River Mart.  It’s like no other Asian import store I’ve ever been to.  Right away, I found this bag (LOVE IT!!!):

"First Lady of Fabulous" Tote, $13.50 by Blue Q

I know, you’re SOOOO jealous, right??  Three people asked where I’d gotten it before I even left the store!  This bag is made of recycled materials (grain sacks) by Blue Q, and %1 of sales supports The Nature Conservancy.  Beautiful!  It was all I could do not to snag a Blue Q wallet ($20) as well, though I did control myself.

If you don’t live in NYC, you can snag your own here: Mighty Michelle Shopper.

Pearl River Mart, $6.50 (Score!)

Last week, I suffered through the heat at the Governor’s Island Veuve Cliquot Polo Tourney, and spent nearly the whole time wishing I’d had a parasol.  I had been hoping to find one the next time I came to Pearl River, and was not disappointed.  The lower floor had many beauties to choose from–all under $7!  I came home with this guy:

Cute, huh??

Can’t wait to go back when I have more time to see everything!  This is THE place to go for fun novelty and last-minute or low-priced gifts.

One more store worth noting was called Callalilai, located at 518 Broadway (there are 3 other locations, as well).  They consider themselves a “Japanese-French fusion label,” and it’s easy to see those influences.  Prolly why I like it so darn much.  I found myself attracted to the Central-American-inspired dirndls ($109), each one different from the other, all sporting beautiful woven stripes of traditional and funky patterns.  I lusted after the “geisha” print dress, but eventually found myself driven out by the discordant strains of the Black Eyed Peas, “My Hump.”  Call me a snob, but I can’t stay in a store that plays horrible music.

Shopping always brings this out in me…

Last Monday I went to Lord & Taylor (never a good idea) to see if I could use the 20% off coupon I’d found online, along with the credit card I rarely use.  My intent was to find a nice pair of pants or some kind of statement piece to assuage my need to acquire.  I figured, “Hey, I don’t have any money, but I’ve got credit!”  This is a shameful way of thinking, and I knew that going into it, but Lordy, sometimes a girl just needs some retail therapy!!

Well, I went to every floor, concentrating mostly on the BCBG, Nanette Lepore, and Lauren by Ralph Lauren areas… BCBG was beautiful but unpractical, Ralph Lauren had no pants with inseams longer than 33″ (WTH, I always used to be able to count on him for long pants!!), and Nanette Lepore didn’t seem to have anything left that I actually wanted in anything close to my size–which is very good, because it saved me about $500 for one particularly cheeky riding number.  I wanted it so badly I would’ve bought it a size too small, if they’d had it.  Thank God for unanswered prayers, eh? Um… yeah.

Leopard Belt Included...

Leopard Belt Included...

So, here’s that hot little number to the right.  The fabric was a fabulous nonwoven wool, done in a plaid that was distressed so that there were patches of nothingness (think motheaten or mangy–don’t turn your nose up, it was HOT!!).  The back has asymmetrical pleating to fall over the derriere just. so.  This picture doesn’t do it justice!  The problem is, the model doesn’t have enough ba-donk-a-donk.  However, there has never been a question (nor will there ever be) that I most certainly do.  I was literally, genetically made to wear riding habits.  If only I could wear victorian fashions everyday, I could feel like the sexiest thing this side of the Mississippi.

After a failed mission of last-resort through the gloves section,  I gave up and stalked off for home.  I would like to take a moment to say, what the hell are all of the models wearing for gloves?!  I mean, these girls are as tall as I am.  These girls have giant feet, too!  Big feet means big hands–size 9.5 for gloves, at least!!  So WHY, pray tell, WHY is an 8 considered an XL?!!  And just what, exactly, are the models wearing?  Because there is nothing to represent the taller percentage of the female population when it comes to buying gloves at Lord & Taylor. Nay, there is nothing to represent the taller women in any glove department anywhere!  Why should we be forced to slink around the internet on drag-queen websites for beautiful, albeit limited, accessories?!  Thank God for drag-queens!  Without their retail sites, I’d have never found a sexy pair of 6-inch platforms or elbow-length leather gloves.  I learned this secret early on, when I was around 18 years old and desperate for a pair of beautiful heels that didn’t look like they belonged to Frankenstein’s monster.  It has only been within the last couple of years that retailers had begun to realize that amazons around the globe were a cogent market.  And then the stock market crash happened last September and guess what?  Forget that, chaps–we need to concentrate on the masses!

No longer does H&M carry a plus-size selection.  No longer do many footwear companies produce 11’s or 12’s.  Say goodbye to longer inseams at Ralph Lauren.  “Why?” You say?  Simple.  Because companies feel that it is simply not cost-effective.  And sadly, they may be right.  My argument has always been that taller and larger women are so grateful when they find brands that fit, that they are instantly loyal, and often don’t bother shopping anywhere else.  However, this is the age when women are making sacrifices to extend their wardrobes… sending shoes out to be fixed (excellent!), and learning to sew buttons back on when they fall off just to get another season out of that blouse.  Ladies, this is wonderful.  No one was willing to put forth the effort to save their clothes for more than just one season, but now, the smart people are starting to look at clothing as an investment again, not simply a throw-away commodity.

There will always be the “cheaper, better, faster” Wal-mart-mongering a-holes looking to save a buck at the expense of the earth and the poorest-of-the-poor living on it, but I see this market crash as maybe just the redeeming event we all needed to learn that fashion doesn’t have to be disposable.  50 years ago, quality was paramount in clothing.  Even the discount clothing proudly boasted “Union Made” labels.  Most everything was produced domestically, the money stayed within the country, and families put food on the table by working in shirt factories, textile mills and tanneries.  Now we only have the ghosts of these once-great industries.  The equipment, strong, hundred-year-old behemoths that never broke down and remained dependable all those years, that same equipment, has been sold overseas.  That same equipment!  But you’ll never find the quality we once had, the skilled labor that came from a lifetime of pride in one’s work!  I have no ill will toward China.  They saw the potential where we dropped the ball.  And now, they are killing us with our own greed.

So the next time you walk into a Wal-mart, or a Zara , or a Forever 21, please just think of the true cost that you’re paying.  How many wearings before that seam rips and the shirt falls apart?  Divide that number into the price (this gives you cost-per-wearing), and you may start to think differently about fast fashion.

Email Me at StarsAndGartersWP@gmail.com