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9 January 2018

The New Year's Resolution Every Sample-Sale-Devotee Should Make

I like these first days of the year and the crisp, fresh feeling of new beginnings that comes along with them. While some of you were overdosing on Christmas carols and cookies, I couldn’t wait for January 1st to write in my journal: “new year, new me.”

One of my new year resolutions in 2018 is to REALLY organize my closet. It was last year’s resolution too, and while my closet has seen worse days in terms of organization, it’s still far from doing what it’s supposed to be doing for me. It seems like I’ve been searching in vain forever for way to catalog my clothes. Did you know there are apps to help you organize your closet? I have tried them all. And I’ve failed each time. I typically find their methods to be labor intensive and the technology to be clumsy, so they inevitably ended up in my apps cemetery and I end up wearing the same two or three outfits over and over again.

When a new platform named Finery was launched, promising to organize styles and manage my existing wardrobe, I jumped at the opportunity to try it out. The difference between Finery and its many competitors is that it harvests data that already exists—a.k.a. my previous online purchases and organizes them into a visual catalog of items that can be used to create Polyvore-type looks. Purchases made in certain stores can be added after the fact with the easy click of a button.

Full disclosure: nobody’s paying me to give you the skinny on this app. So, here are my concerns with what seems to be an otherwise awesome way of fulfilling my new year’s resolution and sending me straight towards garment Nirvana.

  1. If you are a secret agent—or simply unnecessarily obsessed with email privacy—you might not like giving Finery full access to your email account. After all, this is the very crux of their operation; they have to go through your emails to find purchase receipts to locate the items that are potentially now in your closet.
  2. If you like second hand merchandise, or flash sites, you might not be able to find your purchases. As a bargain connoisseur and NYC sample sale whisperer, I do make a point of practicing what I preach and shop almost exclusively at NYC sample sales, Gilt, RueLala, and Yoox. I was rather disappointed to find none of my RueLaLa or Gilt purchases on Finery, which means I had to resort to inputting them manually… just like my other [now deceased] apps.

Ugh… Why is the world bent on making it so hard for me to organize my closet?! Despite these issues, I will give Finery a chance. I will also likely write a follow-up article to let you know how it went. I think resolutions are important, and while some of them (okay, most of them… okay, most of mine) fail, they provide what this article calls a “salient reference point” for setting a goal.

Take some time to reflect where you are in life, and identify the key obstacles holding you back from where you want to be. Be clear, set achievable goals and deadlines, and do your best reach them. Don’t punish yourself if you fail—even the incremental changes and smallest victories are worth celebrating. While the freezing temperatures and post-holiday-empty-wallet malaise might prevent you from going sample sale shopping this week, do come back.

We promise you a year of fabulous deals that might surprisingly assist you in sticking to your new year resolutions. That promise is our resolution.

Cheers to 2018!

Posted by Staff Writer at 12:51 AM
New York | Trackback |

18 December 2017

Journalism is a segregated landscape these days… particularly when the content is political. Full disclosure: this post is not political. But. The journalism in the realm of consumerism is equally segregated. What to believe?!

I have noticed a tendency (in both myself and others) to flock towards publications already aligned with my own beliefs. Midge Decter captured this phenomenon perfectly when she said,

“There comes a time to join the side you’re on.”

After all, it’s easier to immediately write off something that makes us ask ourselves tough questions. Taking things personally is a sure-fire recipe for a closed mind. It’s easier to buy into a philosophy that doesn’t challenge us at all. This not-so-cool tendency actually has an official name: confirmation bias. It is the  predisposition to search for things that confirm our preexisting beliefs.

I started ruminating on this topic after reading two articles about—you guessed it—shopping. The first is one of a string of similar articles in New York Magazine, entitled “43 Things on Sale You’ll Actually Want to Buy.” I am a bargain connoisseur, so no doubt my heart skipped a beat when reading those words. I read the article, but stopped before I clicked. I didn’t act on my preloaded, devotional belief in bargain hunting. Instead, I let my prefrontal cortex kick into action. It felt good. I reminded myself that New York Magazine most likely has an affiliated program and that the article was likely written with one motive in mind: to lure me to click and buy. Sure enough, I clicked just to confirm my theory and I was promptly redirected via an affiliated link to Moda Operandi.  

With some hesitation and doubt, I moved on to read The New York Times article on how not to shop for a whole year.  As predicted, the article encourages us to take a break from consumerism. It goes on to recommend that we commit to the no shopping experiment as a New Year’s resolution. I have to admit the article had some interesting points. Still, I could very well start a debate in response on the large-scale effect this experiment could have, and what that might do to the economy and our beloved fashion and retail industries.

Instead, I’ll make another point. Every publication is still in the business of selling. They don’t know you, and they don’t know what’s good for you. You do. And if you don’t know quite yet, then you find out by reading both sides of the story and fishing out your truth from probably somewhere in the middle. Unless you have a shopping addiction that’s harmful to yourself or your family, you don’t need to stop shopping cold-turkey. Why so extreme?! You also don’t need to buy all 43 items listed on sale for the sake of bargain hunting.

All you need to do is shop responsibly.
What better way to do that than at a NYC sample sale?

It’s the last week before Christmas—A.K.A. Unofficial Procrastinators’ Shopping Week. Are you one such procrastinator?

If you left your shopping to the last minute and missed the online shopping cut off, here are some options to responsibly spend your money while still keeping the holiday spirit alive.

You can buy women’s apparel at up to 60% off at the Eileen Fisher Sample Sale and feel good about it as 100% off the sales will be donated this year to Eileen Fisher Leadership Institute.

You can buy the perfect gift—fragrances or candles—at up to 80% off retail prices at the TOCCA Sample Sale.

You can find Santa-worthy presents for kids at the Desigual Sample Sale.

For more options, check out the complete list of NYC Sample Sales.

And hey… I think it was Descartes who wisely said, “I think, therefore I shop.”

Make up your own mind when it comes to consumerism. Happy shopping!

Posted by Staff Writer at 12:55 AM
New York | Trackback |

3 December 2017

Stella McCartney made headlines this week when she stepped up on stage at the Victoria and Albert Museum to condemn her industry as being “incredibly wasteful and harmful to the environment.” She went on to demand significant changes in the way we produce and use clothes. Amen. It’s about time.

The designer joined forces with Dame Ellen MacArthur, a record-breaking sailor and environmentalist who became concerned with the rapidly depreciating state of the environment while sailing around the world. Upon returning home, she immediately set up the MacArthur Foundation in an effort to address this alarming issue.

The report published on Tuesday by the MacArthur Foundation revealed that this industry us shopping addicts love and support creates greenhouse emissions of 1.2bn tons per year, more than international flights and shipping combined. Ugh.

The solution offered by the foundation and endorsed by Stella McCartney has a four-point plan:

  1. phasing out substances of concern to the environment
  2. radically improving recycling
  3. using renewable resources with fewer damaging processes
  4. increasing the utilization of garments

While most of us are not industry insiders and can do little to change the way clothes are designed and produced, we can all become more conscious consumers by delivering on that final point: increasing the utilization of garments. I was personally shocked to read in the report that on average people wear an item only three times after purchase. Wait… what?! How is this even possible? Blame my frugal upbringing in a communist country, but I find this completely unacceptable and wildly upsetting. This is beyond wasteful for our environment and for our own wallets—it’s not in our world’s best interest or even our own selfish best interest!

As your Shopping Spirit Guide, I feel it is my duty to not only guide you through the myriad NYC sample sales, but also to help you become that shopping extraordinaire that makes only sensible purchases. Here is The Stylish City’s six-point plan to help you achieve that state of closet nirvana:

  1. Know your closet. I hate to admit it, but even I get surprised sometimes by the things that emerge (or perhaps, never emerge) from my closet. My resolutions for next year include a rigorous inventory of my closets. Yes, I have more than one. Don’t hate me—I am still learning to be a conscious consumer, too.
  2. Buy only good quality stuff. A good friend told me recently, “I am too poor to buy crap.” No matter your definition of “poor,” aren’t we all too poor to buy crap? Because what he’s really saying is: “I’m too poor to be wasteful.” And considering our current predicament, there’s honestly nothing anyone could ever do to afford to be wasteful.
  3. A bargain is a bargain only if you use it. I actually mentally perform ROIs on my purchases and I have concluded that despite being a bargain connoisseur, sometimes buying full priced items is cheaper in the long run… if the life of those items is longer and more productive than an item that was a “bargain.”
  4. Wait. And then wait more. I know sometimes it’s hard, but don’t make impulse purchases. Impulse buys are born from the part of your brain that screams, “Oooh! SHINY!” Not the part rooted in wisdom, logic, and intuition.
  5. There is no such thing as “retail therapy.” That’s just an intelligent marketing ploy  they want you to invest in. Spending money on pretty things will never fix your unrelated problems. Chances are that next morning you’ll feel worst.
  6. Buy things that complement items you already have. If you buy one item that is “completely adorable” but doesn’t work with anything you have, you’ll end up spending a lot more to create a new look.

Now… where to test this new strategy? Next week’s sample sales, of course. There are so many of them, we stopped counting at 50. These extra temptations plus the holiday frenzy makes us feel entitled to spend money—kind of like when we go on vacation and feel like we’re spending Monopoly money… so be wary of that in honor of our six-point plan!  

From $200 Italian coats at Cinzia Rocca Warehouse Sale to sterling silver jewelry with semi-precious gemstones and natural fiber textiles at below wholesale price (best place to buy a gift) at Paz Collective Holiday Sample Sale, or everything clothing or footwear at Tory Burch Sample Sale to socialite-worthy handbags at Nancy Gonzales Sample Sale, you can literally buy everything this week at one of these sample sales. But remember: with this much power comes great responsibility. Are you ready to venture into the belly of the beast (retail insanity) as a serious sensible shopper with love for your wallet and the environment?

We hope so.

We believe in you.

Happy shopping!

Posted by Staff Writer at 12:35 PM
New York | Trackback |

27 November 2017

Holiday Shopping is Hard—Don't Shoot The Sales Associate

Let’s face it: nobody sees sales associates as heroes. With the exception of Shopgirl, few movies feature a protagonist who lives this life. And yet… so many of us find ourselves working in sales—even if it was never the end goal.

Maybe you’re one such person. Maybe you thought you’d make it as an actress, but you decided to work a day job behind the counter just to pay the rent in the meantime. And then 10 years go by. You still identify as an actress, but it’s been years since you went on an audition.

This is a true story of a woman named Martha, whom I met years ago when I worked at the beauty counter of a NYC department store. Martha’s story is not unique. I encountered countless stories like hers. And yet… these stories are never portrayed on the big screen. Like an elephant in the room, they’re the stories most commonly lived but never discussed.

And then there are the people who decide to reenter the workforce, and think that the seasonal retail gig is their way in. They never foresee how brutal retail during the holiday season can be. So as the holidays approach… have some empathy for these sales associates and their unexamined lives. With the economy and consumer confidence on the rise, large retailers are excited for you to visit them online, but they’re desperate to get you in their stores, in the flesh. They’re also prepping their employment ads promising temporary sales positions that may eventually turn into permanent ones, but most only have enough bandwidth to focus on the near future—enough extra hands and smiles to handle the stressed-out holiday shoppers. Those seasonal employees will most likely be giving up time spent with family and friends to be in the store and earn that paycheck. Don’t forget their stories either.

As a TSC reader, you are probably a bargain connoisseur by now and you know better than to be anywhere near a mall on Black Friday or the week before Christmas. But we still encourage you to go visit the stores when you can and feel the glorious energy of the holiday frenzy. And when that frenzy turns to chaos in those brand name stores, sample sales are a breath of fresh air from it all. As always, we’ve got suggestions on that front.

Though there are plenty of clothing and shoe sample sales in New York this week, we must focus on home merchandise as we’ve stumbled upon the trifecta of sample sales that shouldn’t be missed. Trends quickly come and go in fashion, but tableware purchases are… forever? Considering how expensive they are, that’s how the saying should go, right? Here are three European brands synonymous with quality and luxury:

  • Baccarat Crystal is a French based company, located in Baccarat.
  • Waterford Crystal is named after the city of WaterfordIreland, with production in different European cities.
  • Lalique is also French and proudly carries the name of its founder, a renowned glassmaker and jeweller René Lalique.

A well-thought-out purchase at any of these sample sales could be enough to make your house feel more like a home… or tiny NY apartment more like a castle.

The Baccarat Sample Sale brings tableware, decorative pieces, lighting collections and a large selection of jewelry at 80% off.

The Lalique Sample Sale will feature select pieces from their interior design, decorative objects, jewelry and fragrance collections.

The Waterford Sample Sale has a wide array of formal and casual dinnerware and giftware, crystal stemware, flatware, lighting, collectible figurines and holiday items all discounted from 50-75% off.

Start decking your halls. Happy shopping.

Posted by Staff Writer at 12:15 AM
New York | Trackback |

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