Category Archives: fashion

my ’80s-inspired fall wardrobe

Most ’80s fashion trends can hardly be considered retro at this point — the ubiquitous legging is just one example of how that totally tubular decade has gone mainstream in today’s fashion. What was once old really is new again. Sure, there is still plenty to laugh about when it comes to ’80s fashion — most notably giant shoulder pads and an over-reliance on satiny fabrics. But after discussing with friends the awesome fashions from such notable working-woman-themed ’80s movies as Baby Boom, Mr. Mom and Working Girl, I’ve decided to dedicate my fall work wardrobe to the smart but subtly sexy stylings of women like Teri Garr and Elizabeth McGovern. Continue reading

online shopping experience #2

online shopping experience #1

For my second online shopping experience I went to another old standby: Endless.com. Endless is an Amazon.com site that focuses on shoes, handbags and accessories. I discovered the site this summer and have been hooked from the first purchase. The site lacks the cutesy touches of Piperlime, but it more than makes up for it in its most impressive feature: free overnight or two-day shipping on everything on the site. I mean, come on, you order a pair of shoes on Monday and they are at your house on Tuesday? That’s unbelievable, right? I used to think that in order to feed my online shopping habit I was going to have to live with the 7-10 day free shipping times.  Endless has revised my expectations…and while that’s great for them, it does take some of the luster off my other online shopping experiences. What can I say? I’m a very impatient person.

Here’s the low-down on Endless:
Site design: Again, it’s not as adorable as Piperlime. But that’s okay, because it is very functional. It’s easy to navigate — you can sort on any number of different categories, like size, color, brand, etc. — and  they do regularly promote certain styles appropriate for current seasonal trends. I’m embarrassed to admit how often I browse Endless’ shoe selection on my iPhone, but the fact that I do so on such a small screen speaks to the site’s ease of use.

Selection: Umm…yes. Knowing that Amazon built this site should give you an idea of what it has to offer. Endless carries most of my favorite brands of shoes, from old reliables like Nine West, Seychelles and Sam Edelman to new favorites like Boutique 9 and DV by Dolce Vita. The handbag department has many standouts like Marc Jacobs, Kate Spade, Kooba and Rebecca Minkoff. The site offers merchandise at a range of price points, and holds regular sales to knock a few extra bucks of your purchase. And with free (next-day!) shipping, you can afford to spend a little more on your shoes.

Feedback: Endless has a fantastic review system, which is not surprising, given its Amazon.com roots. I very rarely buy a pair of shoes from the site if they haven’t been reviewed, which is either a testament to how spot-on the reviews are or how increasingly paranoid I’m becoming in my purchases. Either way, the comments offer valuable feedback on sizing, comfort and quality — things that are good to know before you waste any more UPS truck gas.

Shipping: As I’ve mentioned several times, Endless’ free next-day or two-day shipping is the thing of legends. Like the Loch Ness Monster, I didn’t believe that such a thing could exist, or at least without paying for some rewards club card or spending $500 or something. But it’s real, and my most recent purchase is proof. I ordered two pairs of shoes on Sunday afternoon for my upcoming trip to Paris. They were waiting on my doorstep when I got home from work on Tuesday. If I had ordered them from Piperlime or Zappos I’d still be waiting. Instead, I wore this delightful pair of loafers that I got in part because they reminded me of one of my former students (and fashion trendsetter), Kendra Worsnup, to school today. Now that’s service.

Packaging: No frills here. But who cares, when they come the next day?

Returns: Endless makes returns simple. Just log into your account online, fill in the return code and print out a return mailing label. Pack the items you don’t want back into the original box, affix the label and drop it off at your local UPS store. They will email you when they receive the return, so you can look for the credit to your account.

Endless truly is a gem. I often find great deals and have discovered a bunch of new brands to satisfy my admittedly excessive shoe obsession. I can buy, try on and return a pair of shoes in two days — just like if I had bought the shoes in person. I would pay more for that convenience. But, thanks to Endless’ total awesomeness, I don’t have to.

 

online shopping experience #1

I am obsessed with online window shopping. While I typically don’t step into more than five different stores in the mall, I regularly check at least 10 online shopping sites for deals. I’ve even gone as far to bookmark certain sites I read about in Lucky Magazine and elsewhere.  But I very rarely pull the trigger. I don’t know why I spend such an inordinate amount of time coveting items in cyberspace without buying anything, but I’ll chalk it up to the increased likelihood of buyer’s remorse over something I haven’t been able to try on, the hassle of having to ship an item I don’t want back to the store and, maybe, there’s a little part of my brain that is trying to keep my budget in check (or else that’s Tim’s voice). But mostly it’s the wait, oh, how I hate the wait.

I’ve already mentioned my wardrobe anxieties related to my upcoming trip to Paris. It occurred to me that this would be a perfect time to actually bite the bullet and sample some online wares, then share my shopping experiences with the 10s of people out there reading my blog. And it just so happens a package arrived today from …

Piperlime

This isn’t my first experience with this online boutique owned by Gap Inc. I am a Banana Republic cardholder so I first came to Piperlime through BR’s site. I like that all the same cardholder benefits apply — free shipping, the ability to earn points on the purchases and use rewards certificates for more savings — and that I can shop all Gap sites (Gap, BR, Old Navy, Piperlime and Athleta) at once and place one big order. Talk about streamlined shopping.

The entire Piperlime shopping experience is pleasant and easy.
Site design: The site is modern, clean and easy to navigate. 

Selection: Pretty insane. I could spend hours just looking at the shoes. I particularly like that items are sorted into editorial categories like “Girl on a Budget”. And though I’m not a bohemian chic waif who likes to wear big hats and even bigger heels, I have to admit I do feel pretty cool when I click on an item I like and see the “Rachel Zoe Pick” tagline. Yeah, I could totally be a celebrity stylist.

Piperlime offers a wide array of apparel, shoes and accessories in a range of price points. While the site probably trends overall toward the higher-dollar, there are frequent sale opportunities to find some decent deals.

Feedback: The extensive user reviews make this site incredibly user-friendly. Because you can’t try things on before you buy them, it’s helpful to have a few opinions to help steer your purchase decisions.

Shipping: My main beef about the site is true of most online shops: the standard shipping times. I placed my order on Jan. 23, got an email notification that my items had shipped on Jan. 25 and just received my items today (Jan. 31). Eight days is a long time to wait for new clothes.

Packaging: I know this will sound foolish, but this is one of my favorite parts of shopping at Piperlime. I am always excited to open the white box lined with an adorable green and white lime pattern. And the tongue-in-cheek thank-you card is the perfect feminine final touch. It really is all in the details.

Returns: The return policy couldn’t be easier — stick the items back in the box they came in, slap the return shipping label on the box and mark the correct return code on the receipt, tape it up and drop it off at your nearest UPS. As simple as driving back to Scottsdale Fashion Square after you realize the pants that looked great on you in the store mirror make you like a “sausage in its casing” — to quote my friend Jennifer — at home.

My most recent purchase included the first clothing I’ve bought from Piperlime. I bought two reasonably priced sweaters and a pair of beautiful but cheap black strappy sandals. The shoes are going back (too cheap), but I achieved success with the sweaters; both will make an excellent addition to my spring (and Paris) wardrobe. I am particularly pleased with a cream oversized sweater from Hive & Honey that will look adorable with skinny jeans or a mini.  In fact, I’m really smitten with the whole Hive & Honey brand of reasonably priced clothes, shoes and jewelry. This brand, alone, is enough for me to continue to shop at Piperlime.

I expect to shop Piperlime regularly in the future, and will likely venture deeper into their clothing and accessories options. When it comes to shoes, though, they will continue to face steep competition from Endless.com, the home of the free overnight shipping, and the subject of my next shopping post …

design inspiration from matchbook

I was going to post a link to the cutest darn web ‘zine, matchbook, but my former student, Kendra Worsnup, beat me to the punch on her blog, sincerely, kendra leigh. So instead I’ll link to Kendra’s blog so you can check them both out. It’s a double shout-out. And while I’m at it, here’s a shout-out to Issuu, the coolest online publishing site. My publications classes have found ample inspiration from the choices on Issuu, and there is plenty to like in matchbook’s design, as well. I can already see next year’s yearbook…

My favorite features in matchbook’s inaugural issue: obviously the literary gifts, sure to warm the heart of any English teacher (I’ve been coveting the Kate Spade The Great Gatsby clutch for months), and the 50 classics for your closet (see above), from which I will be assembling my suitcase for Paris. Well done, ladies! Looking forward to seeing what’s next from you.