How Do I Wear Velvet Without Looking Retro?

One of the biggest fashion trends for fall is velvet.  I have just returned from market in Las Vegas, and let me tell you, velvet was everywhere!  Some of you might be thinking, been there, done that, don’t want to do it again!  While I totally understand the strangeness of have a trend re-surface from a time when you were younger, there is a whole generation of young contemporary women who have never experienced velvet in their wardrobes.

You may be wondering how you wear the new velvet trend without looking like you stepped out of the seventies.  To keep it fresh and modern, manufacturers are doing fun things like pairing velvet with printed chiffon, especially florals.  The model on the right has a chiffon and velvet kimono with a floral print that is kept modern by pairing it with distressed jeans rolled to an ankle length and paired with shoe boots.  The velvet top on the left might have come straight out of the seventies, but it is presented in a new fresh way by pairing it with printed, skinny jeans.  Even though printed bottoms were also popular in the seventies, these are decidedly modern because of their animal printed theme, grey hue and skinny style.

These are both good examples of a fashion principle.  If you are wearing a retro trend like velvet, make sure everything else on your body represents a modern trend.  You would not, for example, want to pair a velvet top with high waisted, wide bottomed jeans unless you were intentionally going  for a seventies vibe in your clothing.  Instead, using on trend styles like boyfriend jeans, ankle length and skinny legged pants, and ankle boots, you can have a hint of retro without looking like you shopped from the thrift store.

Wearing velvet is a wonderful experience.  It feels amazing against your skin, and is a cozy fabric to put on in the dead of winter.  It does not need to be reserved for dressy occasions.  Velvet is a fabric you can wear any time by pairing it with the right bottoms.   If you have never had the pleasure of a velvet piece in your wardrobe, you are in for a treat!  Make sure you give one a try this season!

What Is Cost Per Wear and Why Should I Care?

cost per wearI’ve been in this business my whole life.  When I was three, I was here at the store sleeping under racks while my parent’s worked late into the night re-modelling.  I started working at the store when I was thirteen, and worked my way up the chain from the stock room to now being co-owner.  Over the years, much has changed in the clothing industry.  One of the most significant changes is the “throw away” clothing epidemic.  Does the word “epidemic” hit you as too harsh?  I’m not sure it is, and let me explain why.

I have customers tell me stories about how their mothers and grandmothers shopped at our store when having at least one “good” dress was expected.  It was their Sunday best, and they knew they would have to spend a little more, but that dress would have them looking their best when they wanted to “put on the dog,” so to speak.  The ideology was that when you wanted to look your best, you never settled for inexpensive or poorly made clothing.

Those generations calculated the value of an item of clothing on cost per wear.  This term provides you with the amount of money it costs you each time you wear the item, and it is a great tool for demonstrating why it isn’t always better to buy inexpensive clothing that you know you will have to replace in a year or less.   For example, let’s say you spend $60 on a blouse that is from a good brand that has a reputation for quality.  Any quality item of clothing will last you at least 3 years if you care for it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  If you wear it 2 times per month and expect it to last 3 years, then the cost per wear is $2.50.  Here is how I came to that number: 2 wears a month X 12 months in a year = 24 wears in a year.  If the top lasts for three years, you will have 72 wears.   $60 divided by 72 wears = 81 cents per wear.  Now, conversely, let’s say you spend $20 on a top that is cheaply made that will likely only last about 6 months if you wash it in cold water and hang it to dry.  Using the same formula, that top will cost you $1.67 per wear (12 wears in 6 months / $20 divided by 12 = $1.67).  So you can see that it actually costs you more to wear the cheaply made top than the more expensive one.

There is a false perception that when you spend more money on clothing, you are just paying for the name brand.  The reason certain brands cost more is because they have earned a reputation for quality.  That reputation comes from a consistent use of better quality fabrics and better construction.  These two together translate into clothing that stands the test of time.

I was fortunate to watch how this mindset transformed one of my employees.  When she first came to work for us, she was in her late twenties and had completely bought into the throw away clothing mentality.  She told us, “I never spend a lot on clothes, and I don’t expect them to last.  When they fall apart, I don’t feel badly because I didn’t spend that much to buy them in the first place.”  Over time, she began buying our brands.  She started to see how better quality fabrics and construction really do make a difference in the way an item looks and feels on the body and in how it holds up to repeated washing and drying.  Being financially savvy, she also started to see that she was actually spending less money on clothes by buying better quality.  It was the cost per wear epiphany.  After working for us for the last several years, she has come to understand that there is a reason some clothing is more expensive and that that expense is not arbitrary but directly tied to quality.

Our grandmothers knew what they were doing.  They understood that a good dress made them look their best because it fit properly and had quality workmanship.  They also knew that spending a little more was necessary to accomplish this end.  Have some fun calculating the cost per wear on some pieces in your closet.  It is really eye opening.  It is also a great buying tool.

 

 

 

Travel Like A Boss!

Mom and I just returned from a market trip to Dallas, Texas.  Hopefully, you have already checked out my blog post on our Treska Warehouse tour.  If not, do it now so you can learn all about how a Treska necklace is made from start to finish!

Today’s post is on a different topic, however.  I want you, our precious customers and loyal readers, to know that we absolutely, positively, believe in the lines we sell at Fashion Crossroads.  How much, you ask?  So much that we wear them and use them when we travel!  You all know that we women take our very favorite things with us when we go on trips.  The ho-hums in our closets never see the inside of our suitcases and travel bags.  Oh no, only the coziest, cutest and most comfortable items get that special privilege.  For me and my mom and our trip to Dallas, those favorite things were Sympli and Vera Bradley.  Let me tell you why.

IMG_4216Sympli is the most wonderful line (not kidding) that I have ever worn.  It looks amazing because it has a fabulous fit, and it is oh so comfortable to wear.  Because you can pack it without worrying about wrinkles and because the line is so well thought out, you can literally grab two bottoms and three tops and have a whole week worth of outfits.  For example, I brought my Sympli leggings and mini skirt (I always wear these together) and my capris for my bottoms as well as a white pair of jeans.  Then I threw in my sleeveless Cascade Top (see picture above), my cold shoulder Nu Urban top, my Go To Tank Tunic and my favorite Sympli jacket.  These 7 pieces saw me through 5 days and took me from seminars, to show room floor, to dinner out on the town.

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When it came down to packing, both mom and I chose Vera Bradley travel gear even though we each have other options.  My mom took her Vera rolling carry on in black. She was able to push it through the airport with ease due to the four wheeled bottom.  I was able to lift it above my head to put it into the carry on luggage rack without breaking my back!  Yeah for me!

I took my Vera Grand Traveler soft sided bag, my Vera tote and my Vera cross body cell phone purse. You can see some of these items in the picture below.  The tote bag worked to hold my book, spare cell phone battery, headphones, files, Kind bar, and iPad while I was on the plane without being too bulky to fit under the seat in front of me.  The cell phone purse was perfect to sling across my body to keep my cell phone, driver’s license and credit cards handy and within reach while I was going through security and waiting to board the plane.  When it was time to get on the plane, I just took my cell phone purse off and put it inside the tote, and I didn’t have to get in a fight with the gate agent about having too many carry-ons.  Inside my Grand Traveler bag was the Vera hanging organizer that I could simply hang up on the back of the bathroom door and reach all my cosmetics easily without cluttering up the bathroom counter.  I also had my Vera jewelry organizer which kept my earrings and necklaces and bracelets in separate compartments (I love organization, especially when I travel). Then, while I was at market, the Vera tote worked perfectly as a brief case.  I have to say, I really do love these products.  IMG_4230

When I convince my customers to buy a product we sell based upon my recommendation, I take that very seriously.  Know that before I will tell you it is a wonderful product, I have put it though the test of my own life.  If we sell it, we believe in it!  We have just marked down a special rack of discontinued styles and colors of Sympli to 30% off.  (Mark downs in this line never happen so grab them while the gettin’ is good).  We also have several patterns of Vera Bradley that are 25% off, and we are expecting our new fall arrivals from Painted Medallions and Falling Flowers any day!

Happy travels, and don’t forget your Sympli and Vera Bradley!

Behind The Scenes: Treska

After being a women’s clothing store manager and owner for eighteen years, I was so excited to get to see the behind the scenes process of one of my favorite jewelry vendors – Treska.  On a recent buying trip to Dallas, Texas, my mom and I had the opportunity to tour Treska’s warehouse and get an up close perspective on the jewelry making process.  We also got to shop straight from the warehouse shelves – we were like two kids in a candy store!

The process Treska goes through to design their jewelry is meticulous and time consuming.  First they begin with inspiration.  I found this inspiration board outside the bathroom (probably because that is the place everyone would see it multiple times a day).  It was such a great example of how an idea blooms into something tangible.  Take a close look at the items included on the board.    IMG_4192You can see how it represents themes, colors and textures for a group of jewelry. This particular design is playing off earthy wood textures and the soft tans and pinks in sea shells.  What a beautiful combination that represents the soft pinks and neutrals so popular in fashion right now.   It also appears this group might have some feather accents as well.  Won’t it be fun to see the finished jewelry that arises from this inspiration board?

Even more fun than the board was meeting Treska’s chief designer.  She was a Bohemain mama, dressed in colorful cottons and a graphic tank and seemed right at home in a jewelry design office.  IMG_4207She took the time to show us some of the pieces they were currently working on and how every necklace begins in a box as a conglomeration of colors and textures that are then formed into a unique necklace.  IMG_4210

While we were in the design room, we also got to see a Treska employee doing appoxy on some pieces.  This process requires hand painting metal pieces with a cue tip to create a patina look.  As you can see in the picture, each one is done by hand.  IMG_4206

Once a design is finalized, two master copies are made.  One is then sent to China where Treska has their necklaces assembled.  A production sample is sent back, approved by Treska, and then that sample is used by the Chinese to make the individual necklaces which are then shipped to the United States.  It’s quite a lengthy process requiring Treska’s designers to work ahead.  While we were there, they were working on Spring 2018.

Outside the air conditioned design room, the warehouse sprawled.  There were rows and rows of shelves with boxes of beads and bobbles.  Readers,  I am telling you, there were hundreds of thousands of beads.  It was mind boggling.

As we made our way back, we came to more shelves with completed necklaces available for sale.  This is where all the fun began!  Up and down the isles we wandered, grabbing necklaces, earrings, and a few bracelets of beautiful Treska jewelry.  IMG_4194

In the end, we came home with a whole bag full of Treska priced with a special discount just for you!  It is out and on the floor, so you will want to hurry in to get the best selection! IMG_4258

Purse Fetish? Let Me Count The Ways!

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I love handbags!  If you think about it, a purse is a girl’s best friend.  What else do you have with you wherever you go that can always be counted on to have everything you need right when you need it?   A quick inventory of my purse demonstrates my point. Wallet, hand gel, brush, hair spray, makeup, Tylenol, allergy medicine, planner, tissue, sunglasses…no wonder my kids and husband are always asking me to produce what they need out of my magic bag.

I’m an organization freak, so my handbag either needs to have compartments or I use various small bags to keep everything handy.  I love it when my handbags have a key finder (long cord attached to the side of your purse that attaches to your keys), since keys are notorious for hiding so well you have to take everything out to find them.  A key finder allows you to just find the cord and then run your hand along it until, eureka, your keys are at the end.  Ingenious.

Another essential for me (and every other woman I know) is a handy cell phone pocket so you can get to your phone before it stops ringing.  Since my world is on my phone, I need to be able to find it…FAST!

Aside from those few necessities, I choose a handbag based upon what makes my heart sing.  If I am going to carry it every where I go for at least six months at a time,  I want to love looking at it.  I move in phases between carrying neutral purses that go with everything to carrying a handbag that is truly eye catching and makes a statement.  My go to statement purse is Anuschka.

My mom and I discovered this brand exactly the way every woman should discover a purse…we saw another woman carrying one, and after we had oohed and awed over it, asked her the name of the brand.  We have been selling these little beauties ever since. And when I say selling, let me just tell you that we have already sold 30 this year.  At an average price of $150 to $400 in a town of 55,000, that is no small accomplishment.  But the reason they sell so well is because they are truly the perfect combination of beauty and function.

Let me explain.  First of all, they are hand painted with beautiful designs in everything from landscapes and florals, to abstracts and nature.  After 12 to 18 months of use, a print is retired. Once this happens, it is never used again.  At this point, your handbag becomes wearable art. No one will ever be able to get your specific handbag again. Second, the leather is second to none.  It just gets softer and softer over time, making you want to hug it just to appreciate the utterly smooth lusciousness.  No kidding.  But my favorite thing about Anuschka is the attention to detail on the inside of the purse.  These handbags have the most well thought out insides of any purse line I have used or seen. The pockets are well placed and appropriately sized, making them utterly useful.  Often, Anuschka will add built in wallets and divider pockets that appeal to type A personalities like mine.  And, especially in their larger bags, they throw in little extras like coordinating make up bags and sun-glass cases.

Believe me, this is a purse to have a fetish over.  Just ask any Anuschka purse owner you know.

Becoming Her Own Person

I flung the soft white rayon blouse behind me; it’s Bohemian printed tassel floated in mid-air as it descended down into the growing pile of clothes in the middle of my twelve year old daughter’s bedroom floor.  Next came the vintage wash boyfriend jeans with their patched holes and cuffed bottom.  Grumbling to myself, I threw them with extra force, gaining some satisfaction when they crash landed into the pile, scattering it.  “Just wait until she comes home and sees this mess.” I thought to myself, smiling at the thought of her shocked face.  “She’ll treat her clothes differently after she cleans this up.” Last, I grabbed the long fringe sweater that, together with the cute shoe boots, completed the outfit.

It had all started innocently enough.  Looking for my daughter’s ballet clothing and shoes, I had opened the closet when I couldn’t find them.  As I surveyed the clothing, empty bags of chips from after school snacks, old school papers and other various bits of trash, a red hot fire began to grow in my brain.  Obviously, she had just shoved everything that was on her bedroom floor into her closet, closed the door and happily told me she had completed her weekly chore of cleaning her room.

But as I began tossing all of her stuff back onto the floor, I started to notice something.  On the bottom of the pile were all of these clothes that I hadn’t seen her wear in months. Worse yet, they were her cutest clothes, the trendy ones I had been especially fond of buying for her school wardrobe.  After all, being a boutique owner, fashion trends are my life.  I took great pleasure in seeing her dress in hip styles.  When had she stopped wearing these outfits, I thought to myself?  Lately, all I’d seen her wear was tee shirts and leggings.

I was still annoyed and perplexed when I picked her up from school later that day.  We chatted about school, as I laid in wait for a good time to mention the surprise waiting for her at home.  When the opportunity arose, I pounced.

“So, you forgot to get your ballet bag out for me.” I said, pausing to allow my daughter to think about where I might have looked for it.

Suddenly, the dawn of recognition spread across her face.  Shock and fear resonated from behind her eyes as, wide eyed, she asked, “So….did you go looking for it?”

“Yup.” I said it matter of factly, letting the “p” sound have extra emphasis and enjoying every minute.  I watched her face change as a myriad of emotions played across it then watched as she looked down and began twiddling her fingers.  “Any guesses what I found?” I added sweetly.

“All the stuff I shoved in my closet?” She answered, sheepishly.

“Yup.” I said again, again emphasizing the “p” sound.

“Sorry mom.  I didn’t want to clean my room so I just put it all in there.”

“Hmm, what do you think I did with all of that stuff?” I asked, smiling sweetly and looking over at her with my eyebrows raised.

“Threw it all away?” my daughter said, almost sounding hopeful.

“No… I put it all back on your floor where it started.  You can tackle the pile when you get home.”   We drove in silence for awhile.  She, I’m sure was thinking about the mess I had made, and I was trying to formulate my next question.  “Why, may I ask, were all of the cute clothes we bought you for school at the bottom of your closet?”

“I don’t like those anymore.”  She said, looking straight ahead.

“What do you mean you don’t like those anymore?” I responded with irritation.  “Do you know how much me and your dad spent on those clothes?  You liked them when we were shelling out all that money.”

“You liked them.” She said it quietly, still staring straight ahead.  “You talked me into them.  They just aren’t my style.”

I didn’t respond right away.  My mind went back to that day in Justice when we had done her school shopping.  Both my husband and I had just loved that cute Bohemian outfit with the boyfriend jeans.  She looked adorable, and we probably had forced it on her a bit.

“Well, what is your style then?” I asked, genuinely curious.

“I like sportsy stuff…you know Champion, Nike, and brands like that.”  She answered, looking over at me.

“Oh, okay.  Good to know.”  I said, and then changed the subject.  But as she continued talking about her day, I thought about style and how important it is as an expression of self.   My daughter was becoming her own person and trying out different styles and personas was all part of the adolescent exploration of self.  And, this was just the beginning of that process.  So she may not be like me and like dressing in the latest fashion trends, but I can take solace in the fact she will become who she was meant to be, an individual all her own.

 

Not All Cold Shoulder Tops Were Created Equal!

I have found my go-to cold shoulder top, and I’m so excited about it,  I wanted to share it with you!  Sympli has added a new top to their line called the Nu-glimpse top, and it is the perfect cold shoulder top!

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Nuglimpse Top By Sympli available in store or online 

Why so perfect, you ask?  Well, let me tell you!  As I have watched a myriad of women try on various shoulder exposing tops at the store, I have noticed that not all cold shoulder tops are created equal.  Some are too big in the shoulder, causing them to fit poorly on the arm or droop. Some make it impossible to wear a bra which means fiddling with a strapless bra or bandeaux (just kill me now).  Some show so much shoulder, women feel a bit naked and too exposed.  This is why I love this top from Sympli!  It has shoulder cut outs that are the perfect size, giving you the cold shoulder look, but in a way that any woman can wear.  I also love that this top does not show your bra, eliminating the hassle that so many cold shoulder tops pose. Best yet, it has a slight a-line cut so it doesn’t show any extra weight you may be carrying at the waist.

What is also amazing about the Nuglimpse top is that you get all of the other wonderful features of Sympli – no wrinkles, no fading and no stretching out.  This top will look this black and this great 5 years from now.  With Sympli, you just wash in cold water and hang to dry.  It dries wrinkle free, and you are off and running! The use of 12 oz weight fabric instead of 9 oz weight, means that the fabric drapes rather than clings to your body.  It really does look amazing on.  The fact that it is the number one selling line in our 5,000 square foot store is a testament to this.

There is the issue of price, however.  Sympli is not inexpensive.  This top retails for $124, but when you calculate cost per wear, it really is a great value.  If you just wore this top 1 time a week for a year, you would only be spending $2.58 per wear.  Given the fabric’s longevity, you will have this top for much longer than a year so the cost per wear goes down the longer you own the top.  Considering the fact that it is black, it will work back into your wardrobe easily.  Given that it is a mid-hip length hemline that pairs with any bottom, the styling opportunities are endless! That $124 doesn’t seem so costly now, does it?  That is the magic of cost per wear! Spending more on a really great item ends up costing you less than spending less and having to replace the item in six months because it has pilled, lost its shape or shrunk.  And as always, Fashion Crossroads offers a great layaway program too!

So, that’s my product review of Sympli’s Nuglimpse top.  It is my favorite cold shoulder top in my own wardrobe, so I am unashamedly recommending it to you!