Stealthy Shopping: What to Find Where

From the bustling crowds to the onslaught of sale signs offering you the deal of your life, navigating the mall can turn from fun to frightening in a Donna Karan New York minute. Adding on the literally endless number of small boutiques, online retailers and trying to figure out what to find and where to find it can leave your head spinning.

You might run into the mall looking for a winter coat for an upcoming trip to the mountains and leave with a $300 pair of high heels and some lipstick. You might wander around looking for birthday gifts for your nieces and end up lost in an alarmingly dark and overly-cologned corner of Abercrombie & Fitch while One Direction slowly but thoroughly permeates into your innermost being. You might be the kind of person who goes to Target for toilet bowl cleaner and ends up leaving with a new pile of clothes that somehow look exactly like everything already hanging in your closet. Or you might have something specific in mind and try Googling “red blazer,” then end up spending the next thirty minutes learning about Communist fashions.

Whether you find yourself in an endless cycle of buying clothes that match everything in your wardrobe a little too well or wandering around looking for something until you leave the mall with nothing but a headache, here’s a compressed but comprehensive list of brands to check out and shops to zero-in on.

 

Women’s Basics:

When you’re looking for cute tees, a basic pair of cords for the weekend or a monochrome knit for work.

Uniqlo: For modern fits, cool styles and basic prints at reasonable prices, try uniqlo.com or look for a store in your area (There are now 20 US locations).

Zara: From little black dresses to classic trenches and plaid button-ups – Zara has all your closet staples, modernized and on-trend. The store has been gaining popularity in the US over the last several years but is still “under the radar” enough so you won’t be wearing the same top as Betsy from accounting, Jen from legal or Lisa in human resources. No one wants an office twin, even if it is that one cool chick from research and development.

Target: When you’re looking for a simple black tank to go under a cardigan or the plain white tee your mom urged you to bring for matching family Christmas photos (uh-oh), just head a few miles down the road to the nearest Target. Those simple staples and basics can actually be hard to track down at smaller boutique-like shops but are easy to locate at Target.

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Women’s Sweaters:

No need for a long list of boutiques or brands for sweaters.  Whether you’re conservative, bohemian, hippie or non-definitive, you can find what you’re looking for in just one place.

Benetton: No one does knits like Benetton – huge selection, great quality and tons of styles.

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Vacation:

You’re already paying for a vacation; you might as well be looking super-cute in all the pictures.

Calypso St. Barth: Light and airy, fun and funky – if you are looking for vacation splurge pieces or destination wedding wear, check out Calypso.

Wildfox Couture: If you want something ridiculously adorable to lounge around in on your next weekend getaway, check out Wildfox. Sold online, at local boutiques and Nordstrom.

Mara Hoffman: Mara is the queen of wild and colorful prints. Whether you’re lounging poolside or walking the streets of Constantinople, her radical threads will get you ready for whatever comes your way. Available at Bloomingdales and local boutiques.

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Workwear:

We can’t all be bloggers – here’s to all the ladies who actually have to get dressed in the morning.

Anthropologie: Conservative enough for the office, hip enough for the weekend and don’t forget they have a sale room in most Anthros – not just a measly sale rack but a whole room with lowered prices and sweet deals.

Trina Turk: Bring some sass to your office look with interesting fits, edgy designs and cool prints. Online and in Nordstrom.

Theory: When you’re looking for that one dress – the one to wear on your first day at a new job or to a huge meeting that’s been on the schedule for weeks – check out Theory. High quality meets exceptional fit meets super-chic.

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Denim:

Denim is sold everywhere nowadays. I’m pretty sure I saw a rack at the 7-Eleven yesterday. It can be frustrating knowing where to start when you’re looking for a specific pair or quality fit. Give these suggestions a try (if you haven’t already).

H&M: Once while going through my closet, I thought, “I really want a straight-leg, washed-out, almost-white pair of jeans.” I didn’t want to spend a lot because I have a decent assortment already, but I had a few outfits I thought would look good with that specific pair. Looking around online, I found that hm.com has the largest variety of what’s-trendy-now denim in practically every fit, style and color. If you’re wanting to try out a seasonally trendy style or more particular fit without committing big bucks to the look, try H&M.

Madewell: The next time you need a high quality, traffic-stopping, knock-them-off-their-feet pair of denim, look for a Madewell in your area. Go. Try them on. You won’t be disappointed. If there isn’t one around you, head to madewell.com and indulge yourself.

Lucky Brand: There is a ton of quality denim out there and a ton of brands doing cool stuff (Raleigh Denim and Made in Heaven, among others), but Lucky is worth mentioning because they have a great plus-size line. A majority of brands doing denim only range from waist measurements 24’’-32’’ while Lucky makes sweet styles, fits and washes for waist sizes up to 47’’.

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Women’s Boots:

Quality boots are like a fine wine; they get better over time. I think that’s how the saying goes.

T.J. Maxx: While I was “gathering intel” for this article I asked a few girlfriends where to shop for what and I heard “T.J. Maxx” a few times. They have tons of styles from quality brands for discounted prices. What more could a girl ask for?

Seychelles: Classic styles with a slight edge and modern flair – like metallic suede – Seychelles are available everywhere from Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom to amazon.com.

Coclico: An inspiring line doing cool things with locally-sourced leather, sustainability and timeless styles. These are the kind of boots you get resoled every few years and wear forever.

Modern Vice: Handmade in New York City, these boots speak for themselves and they have a lot to say. If you’re looking to splurge on a pair of lace-up snake skin, metallic polka dot or red fringe booties, then look no further.

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Going Green:

There is an unholy amount of waste, pesticide usage and energy spent pumping out our teams’ football jerseys, must-have denim jackets and favorite wool sweaters. There are several companies focusing on reducing waste or doing more to reduce their footprints. Here are just a few that deserve mentioning.

Reformation: Unreal clothing line designed, manufactured, photographed and shipped out of an old bakery in LA. They use only sustainable or repurposed vintage fabrics or fabrics purchased from other designers’ overstock, which might otherwise be thrown away. Their offices are green too – recycled hangers, eco-friendly lighting and everything in-between. Not only are they doing awesome things for sustainability – their clothes are gorgeous.

Komodo: This London-based line is certified carbon-neutral; they are educated and work on educating others about the eco-friendly fabrics they use. For example, I learned on their site that the amount of pesticide used to make one regular cotton tee is a “quarter-pounder’s worth,” and they are passionate about employee ethics and quality workplace conditions in their factories. Their clothes and the style are perfect for a long day in the office to a long night out with friends.

Kuyichi: One of the coolest things Kuyichi does is collect all stitching lines, leftover and waste fabrics and returns them to the factories, shreds them and turns them into yarn for new fabrics. They have a bullet-point list on their site of a dozen other innovative and eco-friendly techniques they use during manufacturing and beyond. And also, very importantly, their clothes are rad.

Green

One-of-a-Kind Finds:

Here is a kind of follow-up to “going green.” We’ve all heard the phrase “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” before, and vintage shopping is not only a way to put a unique spin on your wardrobe, it’s putting that phrase into action.

Thrift Stores: You might feel like heading to the mall in need of some retail therapy after a long and tiring week, but let’s be real; we all know that retail therapy can often lead to buyers remorse. A nice, quiet stroll sorting through the racks of your local thrift store might just lead to the find of a lifetime, a handmade treasure or one-of-a-kind gem, and that $6 price tag won’t leave you with any regrets or a week’s worth of ramen-only dinners to mend your broken budget.

eBay: Where else can you find a vintage silk sari, lime green velvet bell-bottoms and a baby blue gingham romper? Nowhere else but eBay. When you’re looking for that very specific, very eclectic piece of clothing, just type in what you’re looking for and see what pops up. Plus, when retro looks are currently in style and being pumped out by every shop at the mall, try going to the source of it all and finding the original fashions that are inspiring the trends!

 

 

LIGHTNING

By Misha Lazzara