fred comes home empty-handed and itchy

My hair's a little shorter for the summer, so the geometric sides swing forward and tickle my nose if I bend my head, to eat, to read a price tag, to look like I'm concentrating. And my nose doesn't deal well with being tickled. Add to that, we seem to be having an unusually lengthy pollen and mold season, heat and rain having made trees and plants think they're super-flora, and I really belong home, under air conditioning. Unusually for this early in August, however, sale merch has been cleared out of most stores, and it's just not possible even to keep an appointment for an allergy shot without passing shop windows. Or doors. I report:

Anne Fontaine. Used to be my go-to place for great white shirts, but for the past few years they've been overdoing the black-and-white or black-white-red thing. Will post about them again when a great white shirt comes to the surface (cue theme from Jaws).

J.Crew. I have seen the Schoolboy and it is -- fill in sardonic political comparison of your choice. If it were stock, someone would be facing prosecution for dilution. It even looks shrunken on the hangers. Something must be wrong with the fabrics, too, because my fingers started itching when I did the fabric rub. Saw navy, saw gray, stopped there. Orange tees. Orange everywhere. A harbinger of a change in foreign policy? Also the Paramilitary Marching Mercenary Mini, I mean the Cavalry Skirt, seemed much shorter in person than it looks on the web site. Or do I just take up more room in it? I'm trying to be fair here.

Gap. Good Friends and Family 30% off sale going on now. 35% with BR or Gap card. Here's a link -  Gapfriendsandfamily

Banana Republic. The stock in my local - unimpressive. The stock at the BR where I found the Madewell was arranged more enticingly, but my fingers also cracked and itched from substances whose names end in  -on and -ester and -ate. And more orange.

Barney's. Heavy construction going on at the door. Kept moving.

Bloomingdale's. Still some sale stuff, some new stuff coming out on the floor. I usually have good luck with one or more of their Ralph Lauren or Lauren departments for basics, but not yet. And they have great sales, always did. So I'll wait.

Talbot's. Saw a skirt that looked like the J.Crew Paramilitary Marching Mercenary Mini, seemed long enough not to distract the troops. Cardigans, pants.

Madewell.  My mom used to accuse certain long gone department stores of having magic mirrors. She loved everything she tried on in the store, got it home, remorse, remorse. She also claimed to believe that mind-bending gas was piped through the ventilating systems of certain unscrupulous merchants, so that you thought you were taller, slimmer, more well-to-do. After all, she'd say, they add oxygen to the AC to keep gamblers awake and losing in Vegas, so how do I know that commercial science stopped there? How, indeed, because Mom's mirror guy or maybe the Vegas gas guy supplies whoever designs the cute folksy dressing rooms at Madewell. I bought something that I adored in one of the Manhattan stores, got it home, put it on, it looked like it was designed and sewn by my worst enemy. I know I don't have bumps where that thing put them. I returned it to a Madewell store in the suburbs, not wanting to risk another inhalation. The SA didn't want to take it. I pointed to sales tag, showed my receipt, she continued to protest: that store didn't carry that item, she might have to send it (gasp!) to the City. I suggested we get the website up on my iPhone and have a responsive reading of the return policy. That did the trick. Looked around, jean shirts, orange tees, cute-sy socks, balled-up scarves. Lots of rayon. Is this 1930's nostalgia? In 1930's and 40's lit, only cheap chicks wear rayon. The gals who get the job or the guy wear silk or wool or real uniforms. Left the credit on the card, felt virtuous. There's still another ParaMilitary Skirt on the website but not in store.


  1. I feel as though I were shopping with you and I too feel virtuous with credit on the card!
    I can also just imagine the itch from the suspicious fabrics. I am suffering allergies today too, oh even before I read your description of the handfeel of that Schoolboy. It's gone mad outdoors, too much heat.
    Stay in Fred!

  2. There a bit of a buzz over the button-front skirts but I don't like that 70's look. It's too trendy and I don't find it flattering at all. Curious, are you getting it?

  3. Thanks, Dani, I will. I'm hunting up some materials I found earlier about "utility" clothing of the WW II era, because that's what the skimpy cuts and dressmaking shortcuts remind me of.

    xoxo, I don't like these skirts because they look like the skirt version of mom jeans. And everybody has a version. When did we vote to wear uniforms? At least Chairman Mao's blue denim pajamas had a little style and a cute neckline.

  4. Hm, sounds like it was a disappointing shopping trip. It does seem like it is getting harder and harder to find good quality, stylish pieces that are still affordable. Have you tried Zara? I have find some really nice things there but the quality can be hit-and-miss. I laughed at your description of the JC Cavalry skirt. It did pique my interest momentarily, but have since decided it's a bit too 70s for my taste, and would probably looked dated again in a short while.

  5. Hi, Louise, I was more struck by how the Paramilitary Marching Mercenary Mini Skirt seemed to be everywhere - left out AT, booooring - than by any particular virtues of the PMMMS itself Agree about Zara, has good days and bad. Zara Home (Paris) has really cute tabletop and linens, they were supposed to follow regular Zara to NY some years ago. I guess they forgot.

  6. Sorry you had a not so productive trip.

    I did pick up a vintage trench from Ann Taylor recently and a dark navy (I actually think it is black) button front skirt jumped into my cart to try. It is a blend that I wouldn't normally buy, but the skirt is amazing on, so it will stay. It is more polished than most of these truly utility pieces. The trench was a winner too, but I did have to reorder in a petite.

  7. Fred, I hate when that happens. As much as my wallet is happy when nothing fits and nothing tempts me on a shopping trip it always makes me feel deflated and depressed.
    I actually just got the Cavalry skirt and I love it. I wasn't sure about the 70's trend but I am starting to feel it. I will post my take on JCA review thread.

  8. kitsmommy and ajc, this shows that (1) I should just go straight to the doctor and back when allergy shots are due, without stopping on the way, (2) individual style first and foremost depends on individual bodies, and (3) of course, Mom's Magic Mirrors will work both ways on me. That AT on the way to the allergy doc is never well stocked, to boot.

  9. This is hilarious, the paramilitary skirts would have been all the rage in ireland a few years back.

    I have just taken the Kitchenaid's portrait for tomorrow, by next week we'll be kissing in a photo booth together.

  10. Hi, Tabitha, can't wait to see you with your Love Machine!

    Yes, the only people who come up with more tasteless (and illiterate) names for garments and accessories than I, are those who work for the companies that actually produce them.

    Of course, PMS doesn't juststand for ParaMilitary Skirt.

  11. I hear you about allergies. I have been taking way too much Claritin this spring/summer! Thanks for the entertaining post!

  12. Hi, Rose, I think the worst thing about allergies is that I gain weight when I take antihistamines (sad but true!), so I try, really try, not to, hence the shots. Sigh.

  13. My sister has been getting her butt kicked with allergies this summer! When she visits my parents, they can't even keep the screen door to the backyard open without her sniffling and wheezing - this year has been bad!

    I don't think I've ever purchased a J Crew schoolboy blazer, but I've heard about their boxier than normal fit and low-qual wool this year - boo!

  14. Hi, Lisa, I find that when all the pollen/dust allergies are acting up, I'm also extra-sensitive to strange fabrics and mysterious metals. So this is either a good or a bad time to shop. On one hand, I really don't have a great time. On the other hand, I know for sure what I won't be able to wear. Guess on balance it's good to know in advance!


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