So, it’s Saturday night. I’m supposed to hit a party with my BF in Brooklyn but I’m all kinds of exhaustified. I decide to be responsible (read: drink cocktails at my apartment instead of at a bar), tell the BF to have a boys’ night and settle in for an evening of total control over the clicker (“remote”, for those of you who didn’t grow up in Jersey).
Five minutes into vegetating, I remember Saturday night TV sucks monkey balls. Disgruntled, I select some program about Fashion Week on the off-chance it’ll make me give a flying fuck about the charade. Only after I’ve refreshed my double-vodka-splash-of-grapefruit do I realize the channel I’m watching is QVC. It appears I’ve stumbled on a fashion show comprised entirely of QVC apparel and accessories. Innnteresting.
Imagine, if you will, the textile equivalent of a diesel-filled eighteen-wheeler spinning out on a highway and totaling five cars before bursting into a fiery ball of toxicity. Except less sad and more fun, because no one dies or gets screwed over by their insurance or whatever. The QVC runway is the Fashion Week equivalent of a multi-car pileup – a ghastly, poorly lit parade of tacky, ill-fitting synthetics set to mind-numbing synthesized string instrumentation, and it’s taking itself verrrrry seriously. The melodrama of the event only adds to its inherent hilarity – even the models look like they’re about to bust a nonexistent nut laughing. I’m not watching so much as rubbernecking.
At the conclusion of the runway segment, I’m obvs too wildly entertained to tear myself away from the nylon/poly carnage. I ready myself for the product bonanza portion of the evening by splashing a little more vod (eff the grapefruit) into my Priscilla Queen of the Desert cup. Perky host Lisa Robertson fills the screen, clad in an overwhelming amount of red. I have no idea what she’s saying. I’m too busy gaping at the presence of Heidi Klum.
My first thought is, Wow, how nice of Heidi to swing by QVC’s party on her Fashion Week rounds and pretend she likes their jewelry! Except Heidi’s doing more than smiling and nodding at the pieces – she’s GUSHING with PRIDE.
I’m confused. Is it possible that this darling of the exclusive, uppity and uber chic faction of the fashion industry actually designs a line for QVC?
It is. As the glitz bombardment begins, I learn that Wildlife by Heidi Klum isn’t just a line of QVC costume jewelry – it’s a way for otherwise trend-shy women to dabble in fashion’s latest via the power of accessories. Gag me with a spoon.
First up, the Ombre Chain Bib Necklace. Heidi’s all kinds of psyched about it; Lisa is absolutely losing her shit. My eyerolls don’t do jack to dampen the onscreen enthusiasm: Both giddily don the bib chain and proceed to discuss its merits at length. This goes on for approximately four minutes.
At first, I’m non-plussed. It’s a bunch of chain linked together costing upwards of fifty bucks, and a generic interpretation of edginess to boot. Heidi and Lisa keep talking.
A great way to vamp it up without going overboard; The perfect hint of edgy; Dress it up or down; Look at all the necklines you can pair it with, it’s a fabulous with a low-V OR a Mock-Turtle; Rose Gold is very trendy right now; Eek! It’s even more wearable in Gunmetal!
Okay, fine, maybe the chain bib is kinda cute. Borderline cool. Still, it’s not something I’d look twice at if I saw it in a boutique.
The thing is, I’m not in a boutique. I’m in the comfort of my own apartment. I’m two vodkas deep, alone and just the teensiest bit bored. AND QVC KNOWS IT.
Retail value of $75.00; Call now, and snap up the Chain Bib Necklace at its one-time-offer price of $54.50! Lisa gets an update from her invisible earpiece, and delivers the news to the camera with intensity. We started with 400 offers, and we’re already down to 200. Heidi beams at the camera; the necklace glows right along with her. Lisa looks concerned, like she wishes she had an infinite amount of these offers so everyone could experience the unbridled ecstasy of the bib chain. If you’re going for the Gunmetal, we recommend picking up the phone immediately. We don’t want to see you miss out on this incredible piece at this amazing value.
The ticking clock flashes on the screen. One minute, thirty seconds left. Heidi says “versatile” about nine thousand times. I sip my drink and listen attentively to her adorable German lilt. I’d probably get it in Rose Gold, as I already have a lot of silver. Heidi’s right – that color’s totally In.
The number of offers left plummets from three digits to two. Maybe I’ve confused generic with versatile, maybe the bib chain’s lack of in-your-face badassness is what makes it chic with an edgy cherry on top. I could buy this necklace. No one is stopping me. I could say I got it on Etsy or eBay. No one would know.
The offer expires. I exit my trance-like state and wonder what the fuck just happened to me.
I’m the snobbiest of skeptics where home shopping is concerned. I’m immune to impulse buys, and I’m cheap in the dirtiest sense of the term. A fifty-four dollar necklace that was, in retrospect, totally meh should have been a breeze for me to resist. In any other context – boutique shopping, ebrowsing, whatevs – it would have been.
What was it about the chain bib necklace that made it so tempting on QVC?
Nothing. Because on QVC, it’s not about the necklace, cocktail ring, coat, skincare line or whatever else they’re selling. It’s never about the thing. It’s about establishing a connection between you and said thing. QVC dreams up a story of you and the thing, and delivers it with a warm smile and nurturing vibe. It swaddles you and the thing in a blanket of promise. Sartorial satisfaction, material bliss – it’s yours! All you have to do is pick up the phone. Like, now.
QVC brought me thisclose to buyer’s remorse by getting into my head. The real jaw-dropper is, I’m not mad at them. I’m impressed. I sat through the Wildlife segment in its entirety, playing with fire every time a new piece hit the screen, marveling their ability to make me love something I’d otherwise not give a shit about every single time. It’s quite the accomplishment. Particularly if the viewer’s a cold-hearted skeptic like me.
I’m too fascinated to stop now, which means a psychological experiment is in order. I drink vodka. I watch QVC. I allow myself to get irrationally sentimental about stupid material things. I write about it.
In the next installment, I’ll observe the selling powers of QVC maharajah Isaac Mizrahi. Stay tuned. Unless you think this idea blows or whatevs. Mwah.
I trekked to Queens the other day in search of new and noteworthy neighborhood thrifts (whoa alliteration overload – my bad).
My first stop was Second Best Thrift Shop in Astoria. On the organizational front, it was basically like Green Village Junk Shop, except smaller and with way less clothes. I mean, I guess it could be decent for furniture and/or glassware or whatevs, but if cheap thriftastic clothes are your thang, skip this sucker. Also: demerits for erroneous adjective choice in name. Pfft.
Sunnyside Thrift Shop was my next stop. Used, cheesy dresses at $15 or more? Beotch please. A tip for the idiots running this joint: You want to tag secondhand items that high and get away with it, you better have some semblance of taste. Underwhelming; overpriced; a big fat fail overall. Boo.
One of a Kind Thrift Shop was my last stop, and the only Queens’ indie thrift store that actually delivered what it promised. Tops from $3.00 – $7.00; dresses from $5.00 – $12.00; racks ripe with gently worn gems for the taking. See brandtastic finds below.
As I browsed the racks, I had a sneaking suspicion that something was missing from the thrifting equation. It wasn’t until the conclusion of my hunt that I realized what it was. DAMAGES! No missing buttons; no stains; no visible wear and tear; NADA!
I was impressed enough to compliment the owner, Aladeen, who’s basically the nicest dude ever.
One of a Kind has about five huge bins of $1.00 items outside its storefront on a given day. The dollar bins obvs would have been my first order of biznass, if they hadn’t been covered in plastic on account of the rain. Aladeen was kind enough to lug the bins inside for me so I could dig through them at my leisure. What a DOLL.
I asked Aladeen how he got into the thrifting business, and learned that he used to manage a Goodwill. I subsequently relayed the dismaying tale of the $39.99 make-up stained Calypso dress.
What was Goodwill’s rationale for putting damaged crap on the racks? “‘Let the shopper decide,’ that’s what the corporate retail experts at Goodwill used to tell us. I never thought it was fair.”
Thanks to Aladeen and One of a Kind Thrift, for proving that reasonably priced secondhand goodies aren’t yet extinct in NYC. Loves it!
So, flea markets kind of scare me. Mostly because they’re notoriously free of price tags.
I’m a chatty person by nature – the only time I ever really shut up is when I’m shopping. I don’t do banter, I don’t do bargaining; I dig, find, pay and move on. I’m in the zone. And asking myself Do I want this badly enough to hemorrhage my precious time and energy haggling over it’s price? is disruptive to said zone, so me no likey.
Once upon a time, flea markets might have been the exception to the everything-costs-more-in-NYC rule: Every time I hit a local flea, I’m forced to acknowledge this is no longer the case. Brooklyn Flea might be cool, but browsing a mishmash of vintage and handmade items in the $50 – $150 range isn’t my idea of a Saturday well spent. I’m equally non-plussed by the numbers at Hell’s Kitchen Flea and Chelsea’s Antiques Garage: Asking after prices tends to make me bitter, and I’m bitter enough as it is.
My general disdain for NYC fleas was called into question a few weeks ago, by a duo of lovely shoppers at my store. We were in the midst of trading tips on our fave thrifting spots when they started gushing about the market on 11th and A.
Shopper 1: It’s right around here, and they’ve got the sickest vintage dresses!
CJ: Okayfine, but what are they, like $25 a pop?
Shopper 2: Try $7.00. Ten bucks, tops.
CJ: No way.
Shopper 1: Yes way.
So I took their advice, and hit the 11th Street Flea Market (The Mary Help of Christians Church Flea Market, officially) on my next Sunday off.
My shoppers are the shiznat.There are two stellar vintage apparel booths at this particular flea: One’s in the back left corner of the lot, the other hugs most of the far right side. The good news? Every item at both booths has a visible price attached. The better news? Said price ranges from $3.00 to $10.00. Effing flea-tastic.
After browsing the larger booths and making off with some killer dresses, I was elated to the point of venturing into untagged territory.
At one of the interior booths, I spotted a pair of oversized orange aviators. Ridiculous, in the best sense of the term. I tried them on. I knew I had to have them. I braced myself internally, feigned nonchalance externally, and asked the seller for a price.
Well, they’re a little worn… and they’re so FUN on you… I don’t know… eight bucks?Doneskies.
Secondhand shopping convert Violet popped by my store the other day to dish about her latest resale finds. I begged her to email the requisite photographic evidence, and she happily obliged!
Violet recently hit up Crossroads Trading Co.‘s Brooklyn location. Deets on her uber successful shopping trip below.
I took 2 of my girlfriends out shopping in Williamsburg on Saturday. They’d never been thrifting before so I decided to take them to the resale shops in the area. My goals were mostly sweaters (for fall and winter), jeans, and blouses (esp. the classic white button down which my closet was lacking).
I got a pair of Paige jeans off the half-off rack. The ink’s a bit smudged (I left the tag on when I put them in the dryer to sanitize). But red ink says half off, so the it came to $13.25 for the pair ^_^. They weren’t in immaculate condition though (a little wear/fraying along the bottom and pocket but it’s not noticeable and as someone whose normally OCD about that kinda stuff, it didn’t bother me and I liked the jeans too much).
I also found this Burberry cotton/cashmere blend sweater turtleneck top. It fits my body perfectly and had a really interesting but simple design. It’s more noticeable when worn, but you can kinda see the fold design on the front bottom edge in the pics. It has the same folds on the sleeves. $20 ^_^.
I also got a Marc Jacobs red top. What attracted it to me was its super plush feel. I’m pretty sure it must’ve been a sample because of the sticker that was attached to it in the 3rd photo. Now, the top had a huge 2.5 inch rip along the shoulder seam and at first I was dismayed. But I knew since it was torn at the seam it would be a very simple fix so I showed the hole at the register and asked if they would knock off something for it. So it was reduced from 14 dollars to 7 dollars.
Before buying, I put it on hold (I usually put everything I want on hold when I shop so I have the day while I’m at other stores to think about it before I buy), went around the corner to a tailor, asked how much it would cost to fix that type of rip ($3) and if it could be done in the same day, then went back, bought the top, and had it fixed while I was busy shopping at other stores. So the top’s price came to $10 dollars instead of $14.
Love the story of the MJ top – she asks for a lower price on account of damages (smart, and ALWAYS okay), then has the top fixed while she’s shopping at other stores, and STILL ends up paying less than the top’s original price. Effing Cheap JAPtastic.
Thanks to Violet for the sharesies!