The I Can Shop Anywhere Challenge: Round One

21

So the results of our little contest are in, and let me start out by saying that you ladies brought the goods. Judging was not always pretty, nor was it fun, but it was deeply educational—I now know where all of those kittycats-playing-around-the-Christmas-tree sweatshirts come from, for instance. Because you sent in so many entries, I’ll be doing eliminations in rounds: a new group every day, going from least to most challenging.  You wouldn’t want to take it all in at once. The mind reels.

L.L. Bean: Couldn’t be simpler to find something here—I’d probably even welcome an L.L. Bean gift card and spend it on a ton of their indestructible weekend totes. But I’ve also been toying with buying a pair of these classic  duck boots literally since I was 17 and saw how cool all the hippie/preppy girls at boarding school looked in them. Those same girls have all grown up, and they still look super-chic as they clomp around Manhattan in the rain and the snow in them every winter.

Talbots: If LL Bean personifies all that is the Maine and outdoorsy about the New England sensibility, then it’s safe to say that Talbots has Connecticut covered. It’s modest but not dowdy; more Laura Bush than Barbara, and nobody’s definition of  sexy. But this little pink sheath is just as wearable as it could possibly be.

Land’s End is tougher:  more outdoorsy, less classic. Thank God for their expansive swimwear collection. I love this flirty little flowery suit.

Vineyard Vines: “Whale belts and critter clothes galore,” pipes in  commenter Erika, and this does kind of sum up what Vineyard Vines is all about. It’s the go-to spot for the girl who wants to make double-sure people know that her look is PREPPY, and in a way that skews kind of prissy and sorority girl: seersucker skirts; polo shirts; totes with little crab prints. I did manage to find this cute pintuck top, however, which is not entirely unlike this little number.

Victoria’s Secret : “Clothing,” specified commenter Danielle. “Even in their non-lingerie department, it is totally boob city over there.” Not everything, Danielle. My friend Liz has been swearing by their cotton and cashmere wrap cardigans for years. This one is super-soft  (and comes in black and grey too). And it’s really cute: You’ve just  got to try very hard to recontextualize what you’re seeing and imagine the sweater separate and apart from the image.

Sundance  The Sundance catalogue fascinates me:  its aesthetic seems to be middle aged Santa Fe lady as focus-grouped by a bunch of 16 year-old girls in the Valley. Which means things can go very, very wrong.  Super-wrong. But I’ve got friends who consistently weed out great stuff there. Like this embroidered belt, which is just the thing to give a nice bit of pop to your same old boring summer khakis and white t-shirt.

NEXT UP: Chico’s, Midnight Velvet, and far more excitement than you can possibly imagine.

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21 Thoughts on The I Can Shop Anywhere Challenge: Round One
    Raina @ If the Lamp Shade Fits
    4 Jul 2012
    11:27am

    I’m going to purchase those Sundance boots for Sisterhood meetings at shul.

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    diane
    4 Jul 2012
    11:51am

    can that stupid long cardigan that wraps just go away…everyone sells them and they are so not special…

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      Eve
      5 Jul 2012
      10:47am

      I love them because they are like blankies… You can wear in public! They are like snuggies disguised as clothing.

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        KimFrance
        5 Jul 2012
        12:25pm

        That’s why I like them too, Eve. Also, they’re an excellent extra layer–as long as you get one that’s pretty light–when it gets hideously cold.

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    Jenny Krauss
    4 Jul 2012
    3:01pm

    Thank you for featuring my belt from the Sundance catalog. The belts are made by women in poverty-stricken rural Peru. My small, fair-trade company doesn’t get any press because I’m lame at PR so the mention is quite a treat. I’m also a girl of a certain age and love the blog!

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      Eve
      5 Jul 2012
      12:57pm

      This is so sweet!

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    mslewis
    4 Jul 2012
    3:02pm

    I’ve never been able to handle those long cardigans that wrap. They make me look like a homeless person because they flap all around me. Do not like.

    On the other hand, I have always ADORED those L.L. Bean totes. I have a large one with my name on it and I take it everywhere. I have a smaller one that I use as a lunch bag. Just very nice to have. A real classic.

    Talbots used to be one of my favorite places to shop but, lately, I just don’t understand them at all. They are currently having their big Summer sale and I can’t find anything that I want, not even a pair of shoes or a sundress. No wonder they are having major problems. They don’t seem to know their customer.

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      WCT
      5 Jul 2012
      8:55am

      I totally concur about Talbots. I used to find lots of useful things there but now I cannot figure out who they think shops there. I have given them up.

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        Eve
        5 Jul 2012
        12:46pm

        I just ordered two terry tunics from the talbolts sale. I’m going to wear them with big hair and statement earrings and pretend I’m in a Steven Meisel Versace campaign from 2000. I just need a giant white poodle.

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    Liz
    4 Jul 2012
    4:25pm

    I actually love the Victoria’s Secret t-shirt dresses. There is an orange stripey one that looks like an old Atari graphic. I get compliments on it from geeky indie dudes whenever I wear it.

    I’ve also had the same pair of duck boots for 20 years ( since high school). I wear them every winter and they barely look used.

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    Kathleen
    4 Jul 2012
    5:18pm

    Take the Bean boots to the next level with the Shearling lining – the best thing ever for winter footwear, even here in NYC.

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    Bex
    4 Jul 2012
    5:24pm

    Love those totes and now I want those duckboots! There are some cute things in Victorias Secret but the quality is terrible. I am gentle on my clothes but anything I get from there fades and pills after one wash. As for Lands End, their plain ballet flats are the most comfortabl I have tried, they are bow-less and cut to show some toe cleavage, their cashmere is pretty affordable and pretty good quality and their Canvas line has good basics. Excited to see what you pull out next!

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    Diana
    4 Jul 2012
    5:49pm

    I am fascinated by this challenge and the previous post that started it. Aside from the sites and catalogs that are considered challenges,I would like to know where the challengers shop. What are their go-to places for clothing? Favorite brands? What you actually purchase and wear,not just aspire to. It would be great to know where you live as well and if you want to suggest your age that’s fine too. I’ll start by saying that I’m old enough to have rocked my firstborn to sleep to Lou Reed on new vinyl. I currently live in Dallas and I love Nordstroms and Ann Taylor. I have jeans and casual pants from R. Lauren “Lauren” label and Gap. My closet looks like a Nine West shoe outlet. Challenges include looking well dressed but not dying of heat prostration or showing too much skin. Also being more aggressively pear-shaped than when Lou and I were youngsters. I realize I’m old enough to be your mother, but clothing blogs for women my age tend to be stuffy ( Ahem!)or so upscale as to be fantasy. I’m not going to embarrass all of us by dressing like a 20 year old but I like to synthesize what I see and filter it thru what works for me. Thank you.

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    Diana
    4 Jul 2012
    6:00pm

    It occurs to me that Lou Reed May not ring any bells as far as time lines go. Allow me:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkwD261MHsc. Walk on the Wild Side official video.Love that You Tube.

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    diane
    5 Jul 2012
    2:51am

    hi talbots is great for certain things, an extra emergency cardi in case you need one in a pinch in any color, same for t shirts, buy anything there that is preppy in black,white, cream, navy, and you are good to go, also some of there bags are chic oddly enough, and they stock from petite 0 to large sizes up to 18 so something in the store fits everybody which not only a good business model but good for women of all sizes. after years of avoidance the store has actually grown on me a lot. and no it is not avant garde, by anyones standards, but it just does the trick somedays. happy shopping D
    have you tried opening ceremony site?

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    Diana
    5 Jul 2012
    7:56am

    Opening ceremony looks like a lot of fun! Love the sale shoes!

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    Lorraine
    5 Jul 2012
    8:54am

    My best white oxford shirt ever is from Land’s End. The fabric is heavy but not stiff. And the price is great, especially compared to, say, J. Crew.

    Their swimsuits though…they say I give up. And yes, I will have the fries.

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      WCT
      5 Jul 2012
      8:58am

      I think that is a bit harsh on Lands End suits. I see them as offering some really nice alternatives to those of us whose bodies do not resemble that of a Hollywood 19 year old starlet.
      At soem point no matter what you eat, your body just doesn’t look like you are a9 any more.
      Frankly, though, all their models look pretty darn young to me. Still, some of their suits are both comfortable and reasonably chic.

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        Lorraine
        5 Jul 2012
        10:54am

        Mmm. You’re right. Unintended snark. I apologize.

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          Eve
          5 Jul 2012
          12:42pm

          I think this means we all get cake?

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    Tanya
    5 Jul 2012
    4:52pm

    Completely obsessed with this series. It’s the exact game I play when I’m shopping with my mom in the Midwest.

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Kim France

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.

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