I’m not a big shopper – at least in the sense of traditional “womanshopping,” defined as wandering aimlessly from store to store, leaving a trail of impulse buys. Rather, I’m a focused shopper – hitting stores about three times a year, armed with a list, and having done a fairly hefty amount of research before setting foot near any brick-and-mortar establishment, so as to limit the amount of time I must spend in said establishment. I also stand behind the “quality over quantity” premise, so while I don’t buy much, what I buy is generally not inexpensive. I tend to purchase things that are well made, thoughtfully designed, stylish but not overly trendy, and wear/use them (or display them – if we’re talking furniture and whatnot) for a very, very long time. As in years. And sometimes decades.
Despite my general disdain for the shopping experience, I take extreme pleasure in finding just-the-right whatever-it-may-be, particularly when it suits me just-so. My friend Erica is a stylist; three years ago, she helped me round out my wardrobe and, as part of the process, asked me to define my personal style. Without hesitation, I spouted “fresh and modern – with an edge.” (Think Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Claire Danes, Giada De Laurentiis.) In particular, I have a penchant for structured, streamlined pieces; anything black and silver; and metal adornments like studs, grommets, and zippers make me positively squee in delight.
While, as mentioned, I have a tendency to wear my clothes for a long time, I think every woman should have three “investment pieces” she can wear for a lifetime: a great trench, a fabulous bag, and a rockin’ pair of shoes. Of course, the trick with lifetime finds is that they need to be classic enough to wear forever, but still make a statement that’s uniquely YOU. Like any lifelong mate, this can be an arduous search.
I feel fortunate to have found two of the three in the past five years: in 2006, I bid on a Marc Jacobs Venetia bag (black leather with gray stitching, ivory suede lining, and silver hardware – natch). It was the day after Christmas, when most of the world was exhausted, broke, and overwhelmed with stuff – an ideal day for eBay shopping! I snagged the then-$1,200 bag for $350. It’s heavy as fuck but I’ll have it forever. It’s so beautiful, it requires its own chair at restaurants. On more than one occasion in New York, upon being seated and placing it gingerly on a chair, I announced to the hostess, “Marc needs his own seat.” (Only in NYC does this garner a sincere nod of understanding.)
The following year, I landed a big consulting gig and decided it was time to splash out on an awesome trench. I marched straight to the Burberry boutique in SoHo and declared my desires to the super-chic, attentive, and ridonkulously gay gentleman who approached me: “I need a lightweight black trench. Single-breasted. Chrome, brushed nickel, or titanium hardware. No gold. No buttons.”
When you’re serious at Burberry, you’re whisked away into the back of the store and placed on a platform where at least two associates dote on you with coats galore. I didn’t require much doting however – the first trench brought to me was perfect. At $600, it was at least half the cost of most Burberry beauties. Four years later, I’m still wearing it and loving it.
Which brings me to my final item – the shoes. I’ve not been in a hurry on this one because I think it’s a much taller order than the bag or the coat. At least for me. Finding a pair of shoes that meets my requirements – classic, while still uniquely me – isn’t easy. Most shoes are classic but boring (read: black leather slingbacks, however beautifully made they may be…ahem, Manolo) or outrageous and ridiculous (feather-adorned pink suede platforms…hello, Monsieur Louboutin). So rather than hunt, I just keep my eyes peeled.
And I do believe my answer has arrived on the feet of Katie Holmes in this month’s InStyle. If you’ve been paying any attention thus far, you’ll see why. They’re so fantastic, I’d wear nothing but them while naked in a bedroom.
Let’s just note for the record that I have five new projects in the pipeline. When one hits, I’ll celebrate by dialing 1-800-Get-These-Fuckers-On-My-Feet.