I finally dragged myself out the door last night -- well, let me be honest -- my husband pushed me out the door last night -- to make the monthly Target run. Since we had been away for the past month, and there had been too many last-minute wedding details to attend to before we left, I hadn't made a proper Target run since mid-September. Upon our return to the States, I had been procrastinating, buying time each day with various excuses to run this or that errand, clean the house, or get groceries that I had forgotten. But now, we were dangerously low on toilet paper, the cat had no litter, and there was a very real possibility that we would have to clean our teeth with baking soda as we were down to our last squeeze of toothpaste. I was out of excuses and I would simply have to go. Even if it was Friday night. The movies would have to wait.
So it was with a fair amount of lethargy -- and with no excitement whatsoever -- that I finally waddled over to Target, full after a carb-heavy meal and with my usual after-dinner unbuttoned (but at least fully zipped) jeans. Upon entering, I was greeted with the requisite "dollar bin" full of little notecards and party supplies that is just another innocent way that Target manages to squeeze an extra $20 out of your trip (I could have sworn I only bought paper towels and bottled water -- how did I end up spending $40?). Tempted but resolute not to spend any more than I had to, I kept reminding myself that I was really, truly broke now after the expensive honeymoon shopping trip, a $200 hair dryer that I had to buy immediately upon return (because I blew up the old one as soon as I plugged it into the first London hotel room outlet -- there was literally a shower of sparks that flew out of the wall), and now a brand new pair of leather boots (however cheaply I may have gotten them), plus the new Victoria's Secret bra that I had already forgotten I had purchased. So no more wasteful spending if I was going to make it to the holidays. Not even from the dollar bin.
Sighing with relief, I proceeded further into the store with my newly found cart and pulled out my shopping list to examine. Let's see, dishwashing detergent, toothpaste, tissues, batteries ... where to go first? I know, let's keep walking ahead so I can check out the latest women's apparel. Wait, that's nowhere near anything else on my list -- in fact, it's completely on the opposite end of the store. Oh, it will only take 5 minutes. I just want to look quickly. Please....? Oh, okay. You win. But we're only passing through for 5 minutes, just to see if there are any cute workout pants. Yes!! (I regularly have conversations with myself -- sometimes, I manage to have silent ones).
As soon as I made that fateful decision, a host of temptations accosted me on the other side -- the women's apparel department, that is. Would you look at that gorgeous velvet and satin cocktail skirt. I wonder how much it is. It would be great to have something new for the holiday parties this year. And check out the sharp black mini-trench. A bit reminescent of the Burberry one I had just brought back. What's that I see? A luscious floral silk cami and a rich burgundy velvet skirt! Equally fetching on the next rack was a silver brocade party skirt and a lace-trimmed black cardigan. And oh my, that is a striking burgundy brocade cropped swing jacket -- I'll bet it would be swell with the burgundy skirt. Love the black pencil pants too! I would really rock the town in those topped with a furry leopard-print short jacket (see top photo).
Am I seeing things, or does the label on those pencil pants say "Behnaz Sarafpour"? And does that silk cami tag say "Paul & Joe"? What are they doing at Target? I had been faithfully flaunting my Isaac Mizrahi for Target finds ever since he started designing chic, elegant ready-to-wear at thrift-store prices 3 years ago (while simultaneously debuting an exclusive couture line for Bergdorf Goodman). But now, all these other runway goodies seemed to have hit the Target aisles. Thank goodness, too! Now, a girl could walk into Target for toilet paper and walk out with a Bahnaz Sarafpour evening dress, Paul & Joe jeans, Isaac Mizrahi shoes, Rafe handbags, and correspondence cards by Anna Griffin. Granted, Isaac Mizrahi didn't start the couture-to-chain-counter revolution. Lots of well-known designers have been producing less-expensive creations for the masses (remember Martha Stewart for K-Mart?). But, Isaac pioneered truly well-designed, couture-worthy cuts that could pass muster on 5th Avenue almost as well as on Main Street. This resulted in a much improved wardrobe in the closets of millions of working-class women.
Isaac's belief? "The only way I can substantiate doing the high stuff is doing the low stuff -- it's the democratic way. I get upset when it's just about expensive clothes." Me too! But what is the secret of Isaac's success? "American women are not dumb. They don't want copies of designs from last season... People aspire to high fashion, and they get it with this line. A bang for your buck!" There you have it, straight from the horse's mouth (courtesy of Shop Etc. Magazine, October 2006). At a star-studded fashion show in 2004 , he showcased both the Isaac Mizrahi for Target and Isaac Mizrahi New York fall lines in combination with each other. The funny thing was, some people couldn't tell which was which.
I've tested that theory, by the way, and it works. Not that I have loads of real couture to test, but I've got plenty of Target-couture that I wear side-by-side with prizes I've scored off the Saks sale rack -- and everything in between -- and frankly, I get as many (or as few) compliments on one as I do the other. Moreover, I've been on the giving end of such compliments, only to be informed that the cute handbag or chic blazer came from Tar-zhay. In fact, I have no shame in pairing Mossimo jeans with Manolo sandals, or Isaac Mizrahi for Target jackets with Marc Jacobs bags. I don't even mind mixing it up with the "lesser"Target brands (Xhilaration, Merona) if they go well with my higher society pieces. Fashion is about mixing it up, right? The important thing is that the pieces are cut well for one's body and fit properly, and certainly one take a $20 skirt to the tailor as easily as a $200 one. Which in fact I do, frequently. Sure, no one expects triple layering or hand detailing from Target, and I'm not advocating that everyone should buy their next interview suit there (though I've witnessed more than a few savvy gals who wear a Target coat like it's Tocca or a Mossimo suit like it's Michael Kors), but it's great for fun splurges and keeping up with the endlessly changing trends. Think of it as haute couture for the masses.
Needless to say, last night's battle was over before it started. I mean, how could I resist the spectacular faux-fur trimmed coat for $69.99? The outrageously stylish rectangular tortoiseshell sunglasses for $19.99 (see bottom)? The super-luxe velvet skirt with the satin waistband for $29.99? The deliciously divine red suede ballerina flats for $29.99? Or the ultra-chic black pencil pants for $34.99? I couldn't of course! They would have to come home with me. At least a few of them... So into my still-devoid-of-household-products cart they went. Unfortunately for my anxious husband (not to mention my poor kitty), I didn't make it to the household aisles for another hour.
But do you want to hear the worst part about it? My husband loved the new velvet and satin concoction! Just like he loved the new boots I just found a few days ago. And the $200 wool skirt I just had to have in Florence on our honeymoon. And the $600 Gucci bag I scored in Rome just a month ago (which I will admit was a good deal). And the $960 trench coat I bought in London 2 weeks ago. In fact, my husband loves almost everything I bring home. Instead of discouraging my shopping habit, he actually encourages it. On several occasions, he has shoved me out the door (every once in a while with cash in hand if I wasn't cooperating) to go shopping so he could carve out plenty of quality time in front of ESPN, Play Station, and some inexplicably addictive video game called Civilization. He brags to others of my shopping conquests. He convinced me to start a blog about my shopping adventures. Do you see the impossible odds I am up against? I can't not shop. Birds fly, fish swim, and I shop. Period. It's a damn good thing I'm such a smart shopper (European honeymoon splurges not withstanding).
Anyway, here are some of my favorite reasons to capitulate. Can you really blame a girl for falling in love with these gloriously cheap goodies?
Isaac Mizrahi Brown Silk Chiffon Dress, $59.99
Thank you, Tar-zhay for another almost guilt-free shopping experience. And thank you Isaac and Behnaz for making a girl look like a million for a hundred bucks. With prices this low, there is simply NO excuse to dress unfashionably this season!
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