My No-Purchase November Adventure

idle hands are the devil’s Gilt sprees

The Real History of Madewell, 1937

Last time I mentioned Madewell here you guys had a lot of feelings about so I am very excited for you to read this Dan Nosowitz piece, How Madewell Bought And Sold My Family’s History.

I stopped dead on Broadway, in the middle of the sidewalk, and stared, not up at the beautiful wrought-iron SoHo buildings, as would befit someone who’d moved to New York in the past month, but at an ordinary sign advertising a small clothing shop. The logo, a casual cursive scrawl with both E’s capitalized, jumped out at me like a beacon from a lighthouse somewhere deep in the back of my brain. That was the logo emblazoned on my baby clothes, the logo my great-grandfather created. It was, I thought, forgotten family history, the factories having shut down shortly after I was born in the ’80s. After a moment I took out my phone and called my mom and asked her what the hell was going on.

Nosowitz’s great-grandfather, a turn-of-the-century Russian immigrant, started the real Madewell, a workwear company (in the um, actual sense) in 1937. Mickey Drexler bought the logo, and the right to put “1937″ on all their shit, in 2006.

This piece is a wonderful reclamation of family history as well as a meditation on the (bastardized) notions of authenticity in consumerism. It totally upended my readerly expectations and I’m obsessed with it.

Clothes Are in the Top 5 Most Important Things of My Life, Maybe Top 3

Lauren Rodrigue likes clothes. We talked about that.

Sell My Old Clothes, I’m Off to Heaven

I came in with about 50 items and Buffalo Exchange bought about 35. Most were from J. Crew. Some were from Madewell and American Apparel. A few were from Forever 21 or H&M. Nearly everything was very, very gently worn—if worn at all.

The Search for an Unpillable Sweater

There is a gap between the person I am, and the person I want to be, and into that gap falls sweater happiness. I picture myself lounging in cashmere beside a fireplace while waving a volume of Lisa Robertson’s poetry, or fly-fishing in Scotland while wearing chunky cable knit.

Plus-Size Shops Vs Plus-Size Shoppers

There’s an uproar happening right now in plus-size clothing. Fashionista started it by asking a provocative/insulting question,

what if the problem with the plus-size industry isn’t with faceless businessmen, but with the customers themselves? … Sarah Conley, a plus-size blogger and retail consultant, explains that when retailers are approached by customers to feature more true plus-size models, the companies will often conduct tests. One such brand displayed the exact same clothes on a size 8 model and a size 14 model on its website; the size 8 model sold better every time.

“As much as we think we want to see people who look like us, it’s not really showing through in customer behavior, which is really unfortunate,” she explains. “I think that people who say they want to see a more diverse group of women, whether it’s body shape or size, they’re not always following those wishes and demands with their credit cards.”

In the same way, the higher-priced items that customers clamor for — items designed by big names, items with more tailoring and trendier items — “don’t sell.” There’s also the issue of impermanence: “Everyone I spoke with agreed that women who are told that their body shape should be considered temporary, always in need of a new diet or weight loss plan, aren’t exactly going to plunk down $300 for a dress that, ideally, won’t fit them in a month.”

Jezebel weighed in, so to speak, and gave Fashionista a succinct answer: no. For one thing, sez Jez,

When plus-size blogger Gabi Gregg launched a swimwear collection with Swimsuits For All, the line sold out in hours. Women were more than happy to spend money on fashionable garments designed to flatter their bodies. Again, how can consumers buy clothes that don’t exist?

I Was a Victim of Fraud and I Don’t Care

I didn't buy that gas.

What Are You Wearing and What Did It Cost

Bags seem to be the splurge of choice, followed by shoes.

The Costs of Things: Crop Tops!

Crop tops are back, and the New York Times is on it! In the most Style Section possible piece ever, the paper of record covered the phenomenon this weekend — and what the trend means, financially, for fashion-conscious consumers:

Midriffs are suddenly in America’s face — in a way not seen, perhaps, since a young Britney Spears was in regular gyration-rotation on VH1. Crop tops were all over the spring runways, from Proenza Schouler and Dolce & Gabbana to more moderately priced lines like Tibi and Alice & Olivia. They are stocked several racks deep at Zara, H&M and Forever 21. …

Mary Alice Stephenson, a fashion commentator, thinks the look now evokes refined elegance rather than the overt sexiness or exoticism it used to signal (see: “I Dream of Jeannie”). “The stomach is the new erogenous zone, but not in a vulgar sort of a way,” she said. “Yes, you can show your whole midsection in a bra top, but most of the styles only give you a peek. Regardless, it is making women frenzied about shaping up their abs.”

Now that we can actually and more easily Instagram our own belly buttons, it will add a new dimension to the term “navel gazing.” How exciting! But, for those of us daring to be fashion-forward, how expensive. The article goes on to list the lengths to which women are going to rock short shirts, including Pilates-type classes, ballet barre-type workouts, sessions with private trainers, and, DUH, plastic surgery:

Yes You Can Go a Year Without Buying Clothes! I Did It And So Can You

Do you think about new outfit ideas when you’re bored?