Oct 31, 2010
Wise and frugal readers, you know I'm not much of a shopper. Yes, I practically grew up in Gimbels and spent more of my adolescence at Bloomingdale's than I care to remember, but now that I sew, I no longer shop for clothes. (The Salvation Army doesn't count, of course.)
But occasionally I do like to poke my head in some of New York's better department stores just to see what's going on. In fact, only yesterday I spent a good hour and a half in Macy's with Michael's parents (Michael's mother was shopping for a handbag), and a few days previous could be found checking out the wide array of face lifts and fake tans on display at Bergdorf's, in the company of French friend Anne.
On a secret mission alone, I recently visited my local Barney's Co-op. The Co-op is Barney's hipper sibling, mainly mens and womens sportswear, heavy on the designer denim and chic reinterpretations of men's work clothes that one sees everywhere these days: flannel shirts, Pendleton-inspired wool plaid jackets, work boots, etc. You'd think every fashionable man today was trying to look like a 1950 dockworker or oil rigger or something, albeit with skinnier pants and better hair.
I couldn't resist trying on a few things and luckily I had my camera.
Not to boast, but I can sew up a pretty respectable looking mens dress shirt. And so can Marc Jacobs apparently.
Very nice plaids in fabrics that looked and felt identical to what I find for $2/yd at my favorite fabric dive. And just like shirts at the Gap and the uniforms at Burger King, they come in Small, Medium, and Large.
Of course, Marc's are made in Sri Lanka, and why not? It's a lovely place.
The fit isn't great (I tried on the Small), but what do you expect for $188, perfection?
This blue and cream combo is made in Thailand. Same price. Same bad fit. Remember readers, I wear a vintage Butterick 36" shirt with no alteration whatsoever. I'm a pretty standard size.
The Gant brand, which I wore as a teen, has also been re-imagined: preppy chic and exclusive to shops like Barneys.
Here's their version of a classic tattersall plaid. I tried on size XS.
Better fit, but too snug in shoulders and chest. (That's the fit that's intended I assure you; it fit everywhere else.) A relative bargain:
I also tried an XS Gant navy wool blazer cut trim like a prep school uniform mistakenly thrown in the wash and dried on the high setting.
Very snug and nothing special.
Readers, is this fair? I mean, to sneak into a department store dressing room and gawk at the ordinary clothes at extraordinary prices?
For less than the price of that yawn-inspiring Marc Jacobs shirt, I could have bought a gorgeous Singer Featherweight at the flea market today. Could have -- I restrained myself.
Oh, wise ones, do you ever try on clothes at swanky stores merely to gawk and smugly judge? Do you feel compelled to buy something as a form of compensation to the store, if only a tube of Kiehl's Facial Fuel Energizing Face Wash?
There is something very odd about clothing pricing these days, especially when we're talking high-priced designer duds made in low-wage countries.
Oh yeah: so we're in giftware on the eighth floor at Macy's yesterday. You know Wedgwood, that most British of British brands, whose label reads, England 1759? (What American tourist didn't come back from the UK without a piece of Wedgwood?)
Made in Thailand.
I need more coffee.