How To Be A Successful “Maxxinista”

What’s better than a bargain? As a fashion-minded yet budget-conscious college student, I often find myself at stores such as Nordstrom Rack, Saks Off 5th, Marshalls, and, of course, my favorite place to shop- TJ Maxx.

Often, my friends are surprised to discover that a certain item I am wearing is actually from TJ Maxx. They usually say, “Wow! I need to go there with you next time!” It’s like my friends think that I have some secret way of sifting through their crowded racks. Although I really do enjoy “the hunt” for something unique and affordable at TJ Maxx, here are my tips to being a successful Maxxinista!

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

  1. Be selfish. If I am being honest, I have my most success at TJ Maxx, when I go by myself or with one other person (read: my mom) who doesn’t want to actually shop side by side. Looking throughout the store by yourself frees you from any distraction and let’s you focus on what you like!
  2. Have a game plan. Often times I go into TJ Maxx without one specific thing that I am looking for, but I still develop a game plan to keep me from getting overwhelmed and spending too much money. I start by asking myself what I might actually be in need of at the moment. Do I have enough workout gear to wear to class each day? Answer: I could always use more of that, so I definitely check out the activewear section. Dresses? Answer: Not something I see myself wearing in the next few months, but I’ll at least pass through to see if anything catches my eye.
  3. Not totally sure? Take it home to try on. The lighting in TJ Maxx dressing rooms can be harsh, so if there is ever a garment that I am not completely sold on, I buy it, to take home and try on with my undergarments, shoes and accessories in my room, where there is better lighting. If you decide you actually don’t like the piece, returns are TJ Maxx are super simple.
  4. Peruse Rent the Runway section. This piece of advice can vary depending on the TJ Maxx location. For example, two of the TJ Maxx stores by my home in the D.C. area has an expansive Rent the Runway selection; whereas, the choices are a bit slimmer at the TJ Maxx in Athens, GA. However, be sure to sit through these garments carefully, as you can find notable brand-name designers at such a steal! Pro tip: the Rent the Runway garments has a purple tag, rather than a white tag like the other merchandise.
  5. Don’t skip the shoe section! Seriously, some of my favorite pairs of shoes are from TJ Maxx. I have scored $60 Jack Rogers and $15 Catherine Malandrinos, as well as some unique shoes that I maybe would not have found elsewhere.
  6. Don’t get sucked in while you are waiting in line. TJ Maxx has a special talent for reading your mind when it comes to the products placed at the point-of-sale aisle leading to the cash register. Pumpkin scented candle? Gotta have it. A new shade of nail polish? Well, it’s only $3.99! Unless it is a product you truly will use often, don’t let yourself fall into this trap!
  7. Shop often. One of the biggest reasons I have success at TJ Maxx is the fact that I stop by the store, bi-weekly if not weekly. TJ Maxx gets weekly shipments so if you choose a day of the week that works for you and always go that same day, you are bound to find something new each time!

Happy shopping, fellow Maxxinistas!

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White After Labor Day: Social Faux Pas or Social Construct?

Early September marks Labor Day and the end of September signifies the official start of autumn, but does that mean you have to send you white pants or ivory blouses to the back of your closet?

According to Fitzpatrick (2009), the “no white after Labor Day” rule was socially constructed by members of society’s upper crust in early twentieth century, as a way to separate themselves. She says, “Along with a slew of commands about salad plates and fish forks, the no-whites dictum provided old-money élites with a bulwark against the upwardly mobile. But such mores were propagated by aspirants too: those savvy enough to learn all the rules increased their odds of earning a ticket into polite society. “It [was] insiders trying to keep other people out,” says Steele, “and outsiders trying to climb in by proving they know the rules.”

Thus, if you ask me, white after Labor Day is certainly acceptable, especially in hotter climates such as Athens, Georgia. Also, the queen of etiquette herself— Emily Post— debunks this myth. In an advice column on the Emily Post website, it states: “It’s more about fabric choice today than color. Even in the dead of winter in northern New England the fashionable wear white wools, cashmeres, jeans, and down-filled parkas. The true interpretation is “wear what’s appropriate—for the weather, the season, or the occasion.” Also, with the rise of reasonless dressing, this notion has even more credibility and relevance.

So, now that you know you are allowed to wear white after Labor Day, how should you do it? Keep reading to find out!

How To Wear White After Labor Day
  1. Stick with the basic, tried-and-true staple in every woman’s closet— the white v-neck tee. Layered under a chunky sweater or worn with dark denim jeans and a lightweight scarf, this tee can be worn 365 days of the year.
  2. For the dead of winter, a white or cream wool peacoat can be a striking statement. Just as Emily Post emphasized, it’s more about fabric than color.
  3. Believe it or not, white jeans can certainly still be worn into autumn and in early spring. Pair them with a blouse, leather jacket and your favorite booties!
  4. Whether it be a fabulous studded clutch, a jacket or a mini skirt, white leather is a great material to utilize the color in the cooler months.
  5. Who doesn’t love a chunky sweater? And what could be better than a warm, cream or white sweater to pair with your favorite skirt and a pair of tights? Nothing.

While these are just a few ideas on how to style your “winter whites,” there are tons of ways to do so and still look fabulous. Forget the antiquated social construct, and keep those whites toward the front of your closet!


Fitzpatrick, L. (2009, September 8). Why We Can’t Wear White After Labor Day. TIME. Retrieved from content.time.com.

Remembering Margiela

Bonjour Paris! During my four days spent galavanting the streets of Paris, I visited numerous museums, monuments and other notable spots. However, my favorite spot was Palais Galliera, which is a fashion and fashion history museum. Currently, the exhibit consists of a tribute to the ever-creative Martin Margiela and his various clothing lines.

Margiela, a man of Belgian descent, attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and then worked as Jean Paul Gaultier’s assistant from 1984 to 1987. According to Palais Galliera’s information website, “Margiela’s conceptual approach challenged the fashion aesthetics of his time. His way of constructing a garment involved deconstructing it, exposing the inside, the lining, and the unfinished parts, and revealing the different stages of manufacture: pleats, shoulder pads, patterns, bastings and all. He pushed the scale of a garment to extremes, enlarging the proportions to 200% in his “Oversize Collection”, for example, or by adapting dolls’ clothes to the life-size human form in the “Barbie Collection”. He printed trompe-l’oeil photos of dresses, sweaters and coats and established a new form of “cloven” shoe inspired by traditional Japanese tabis, i.e. with the big toe separated from the others.”

Although I was familiar with Margiela’s clothing and aesthetic prior to my visit, I was amazed to see the clothing in-person and be able to analysis the minute details. Personally, I find it incredible that Margiela was able to design in such a unique, peculiar way and receive notability for that type of eccentricity. It seems as though attending a Margiela fashion show in Paris in the 1990’s and early 2000’s was not merely an event to display garments. Rather, it was an experience that married art, fashion, political occurrences, current events, human rights and forward-hiking ideas under one roof.

 

 

If you ever find yourself in Paris, be sure to make a stop at the Palais Galliera!

Where In The World Am I?

Trendsetter turned globe-trotter! Are you wondering why I have been MIA these past few months? I promise I have a good reason!

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At the top of the Duomo in Florence, Italy. 

This summer, I was fortunate enough to spend some time in Europe. I had the opportunity to live, study and intern in Florence, Italy for six weeks in May and June. I was enrolled in a course— Fashion Retail Management— and was the Assistant Manager Intern at FLY, which is a creative learning lab a
nd student-run boutique affiliated with Florence University of the Arts. With a wide variety of merchandise, ranging from student-made pieces, garments hand-crafted by emerging designers, consigned items and a selection of high-end vintage, FLY draws in a wide customer base and is a quite a unique retail space in Florence.

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In the Tyrrhenian Sea off the coast of Positano, Italy.

Whether it was styling garments with our target market in mind, re-merchandising the boutique, assisting in the buying process of the vintage selection, creating content for social media or trend forecasting for future merchandise, my role as Assistant Manager Intern was fast-paced and incredibly insightful. I gained valuable knowledge and honed relevant skills relating to managing a retail enterprise. In addition, I played an active role in planning an executing an in-store promotional event, Reinvention, which was held on June 19.

My time abroad not only provided me with the immersion and appreciation for a new culture, but also with a global perspective into the world of retailing.

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By the Eiffel Tower is Paris, France. 

In addition to the “work” I was doing in Florence, I certainly had time to “play,” too! My friends and I took numerous day trips and weekend trips to other cities in Italy, such as Cinque Terre, Chianti, Venice, San Gimignano, Pisa, Verona, Rome and the Amalfi Coast. Also, on my way back to the states, I made a stop in Paris for four days. After that visit, I have convinced myself that I need to learn French and move to Paris after I graduate this May…but who knows how realistic this plan is!

Now that I’m, back in the states, look forward to more consistent posts and updates. I missed y’all!

Seeing Stars

In this day and age, we all want to be among the stars. However, because this fantasy can only become a reality for some, the rest of us have decided to done stars on our clothing and accessories. From metallic stars added to a leather bootie, star studs emblazoned on a belt or even a star-print pajama set, this motif has taken over the mainstream fashion industry.

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Personally, I own a pair of jeans with black beaded stars embroidered on them and a pair of maroon leggings with stars covering the legs. Clearly, the star trend permeates both street style and athleisure. Additionally, I plan on purchasing Sheila Fajl’s Equulei Hoops, once they are back in stock. Although this infatuation with stars will probably only last another few seasons, I think it is such a fun and whimsical trend.

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A pair of jeans with black beaded stars embroidered from Lord & Taylor’s DesignLab line.          

Truly, it is incredible that such a familiar shape has been transformed into a fashion symbol in the present day. In elementary school, a star is something you strived to receive with kindness to classmates and turning in your homework. Nowadays, it seems as though we all can be stars…or at least wear them!

Boring Baubles? No Way!

Whether you need new jewels for your hot date on Valentine’s Day or want to treat your girl squad to something shiny, look no further! Jewelry designer, Sheila Fajl, has a variety of pieces, meaning that you are sure to find something perfect for you.

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Although the brand offers everything from necklaces and rings to handbags and chokers, my favorite items are the Sheila Fajl earrings. Most specifically, I absolutely adore the Everybody’s Favorite Hoops in Brushed Gold. I recently purchased the Shawn Earrings in Gunmetal and I think they are so unique yet still understated. Take a look at my gift guide to catch a glimpse of the brand’s variety of earrings— I hope you’re all ears!

If you like what you see (how could you not?!), head over to Sheila Fajl’s website to pursue the brand. However, be sure to shop via my link to receive 10% your entire order. Happy shopping!

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These Boots Were Made For Walking…

…and that’s just what they’ll do! Although it seems that snakeskin print has been in style for quite a few seasons and may be hitting its full maturity soon, designers continue to find new and exciting ways to implement this animal print into their garments. Most recently, numerous brands have implemented a snakeskin bootie into their collection.

Vince Camuto offers a Destilly 2 Bootie, Charlotte Russe carries Bamboo Faux Snakeskin Chain Heel Booties, Steve Madden created their US-CASH booties in a black and white snakeskin, Free People offers a Vegan Going West Boot and even Billabong created their Luna Ankle Bootie, which is the pair that I own! 

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2018.

Although this trend more recently infiltrated the mainstream with more affordable designers, it is not new on the runway. According to Perrie Samotan of StyleCaster, “Gucci showcased knee-high python styles on its Fall 2014 runway, cool-girl label Vetements had models wearing a handful of different colors and styles for Spring ’15, and Rag & Bone, Isabel Marant, and Chloé have each produced their own unique reptilian take.”

Because it seems as though snakeskin has been popular for a few years and continues to be seen on the runway and worn on the streets, perhaps it is here to stay, as more of a classic rather than a trend. Cordelia Tai of The Fashion Spot claims that snakeskin print is the new cheetah print and “you want to wear your faux snakeskin with neutral (or pastel) pieces and contrasting textures.”

Whether pairing with a white frock, distressed black denim or even a pencil skirt, snakeskin booties are truly a great item to have in your closet. In a sense, they act as a neutral, but truly do add so much fun to any ensemble. Who knows what snakeskin print item will be created next!


References

Samotan, P. (2015, December 17). Make Snakeskin Boots the Next Thing You Buy. StyleCaster. Retrieved from http://stylecaster.com.

Tai, C. (2018, February 5). We’re Calling It: Snakeskin Print Is the New Cheetah Print. The Fashion Spot. Retrieved from http://www.thefashionspot.com.

A Fast Fashion Frenzy

Consumers often look for tags in garments to indicate the size, care instructions and fiber content; however, in November 2017, Turkish shoppers recently found more than the standard information in their clothing.

According to Associated Press (2017), “Shoppers at the fashion retailer Zara in Istanbul have found unusual tags on their garments — complaints by Turkish workers who say they have not been paid for the merchandise in the store.” Apparently, the notes read “I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn’t get paid for it”  (Associated Press, 2017). While unfair compensation is a major issue surrounding the fast fashion industry, it is not the only problem. In fact, Selin Girit (2017) reports that “Zara has previously come under fire when it was accused of slave and child labour, as well as exploiting Syrian refugees.”

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Despite this fiasco, Zara is still seeing growth. According to Walter Loeb (2017) of Forbes, “At the corporate level, the company has been busy, entering new countries and expanding its on-line markets.” Also, at the end of the fourth quarter in December 2017, “the business can minimize its markdowns and accelerate online service for its various divisions” (Loeb, 2017).

Personally, I rarely think twice about the creation of a garment or the implication of my purchase when shopping. I do actually care about the people who are manufacturing the clothing, but often, that process seems so far-removed from my shopping experience at a local boutique or shopping mall. Therefore, I believe that news headlines such as these may actually help change the dialogue surrounding the fast fashion industry. If more people increasingly become aware of the dangers of fast fashion and continue to read such disheartening headlines, perhaps it will be reflected in overall consumer behavior. Of course, this type of change cannot and will not happen overnight, but it is my hope that, as a global society, we are inching toward a more sustainable perspective.

What one source scornfully calls fast fashion, another source deems its customer service. In describing Zara, Loeb (2017) writes,  “The company operates with a very special kind of business model. Every division commits initially to a small quantity for fashion merchandise and then replenishes it in response to customer demands and preferences. This merchandising strategy enables stores to feature new and different products very quickly. Zara, for instance, can deliver a new garment in as quickly as 15 days – from design to store shelves in Spain and nearby countries. Delivery to the U.S. takes just a few days longer. That generates an excitement for customers that keeps them coming back.” While this on-demand model certainly keeps customers interested, it provides little consideration for sustainability, the global environment and, most importantly, those who labor to manufacture the garments.


References

Girit, Selin. (2017, November 15). “Turkey: Zara shoppers find labour complaints inside clothes.” BBC News. Retrieved from www.bbc.com.

Loeb, W. (2017, December 22). “How Inditex And Zara Are Winning, While H&M Is Losing.” Forbes. Retrieved from www.forbes.com.

“Zara clothes in Istanbul tagged to highlight labor dispute.” (2017, November 3). Associated Press. Retrieved from www.apnews.com.

Mad for Metallics

With only two days until Christmas, holiday festivities are in full swing. And what screams “festive” louder than metallics? Nothing, of course! Traditionally, people have always worn metallics—primary gold and silver— around the holidays.

Personally, I will be donning a shimmery ensemble for my family’s Christmas Eve festivities tomorrow evening. I plan on pairing LOFT’s Slim Shimmer Tie Waist Pants with a black Layered Ruffle Sleeve Sweater from SHEIN. To add just a bit more shine, the outfit will be complete with a pair of black and white Sam Edelman Mel Platform SandalsMini Madeline Earrings in white and gold from Mignonne Gavigan and a black fur-trimmed clutch that I picked up from Marshall’s in September. Dressing around the holidays is certainly more fun, especially when mixing and matching different metallic hues.

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

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Valentino, Spring 2018.

However, the 2017 holiday has poised society to continue donning the shimmery hues into the winter, and perhaps even the spring. 2017 saw it’s fair share of metallic hues from Cara Delevigne’s silver scalp at the Met Gala to Kim Kardashian’s metallic Paco Rabanne frock. Nevertheless, metallics are certainly making the transition into 2018. S. Yotka (2017) of Vogue notes “Disco-worthy sequins might be the season’s most dominant trend. At Valentino, Piccioli closed the show with full-length dresses smothered in silver sequins. Look for them on the red carpet this winter.” Along with metallics on the runway, the trend will emerge more prominently in the beauty industry, too. “Award-winning colorist Jack Howard, of London’s posh Paul Edmonds salon, tells us the future is all about all things metallic — namely, silver and gold. “We’re beginning to see a huge increase in guests asking for metallic-inspired color in the salon,” he says. “I think that it’s partly due to the transition of the trend from glossy finishes to metallic on the catwalk. We’ve also seen the metallic element continued into makeup looks” (Murray 2017).

Additionally, the metallic hue knows no boundaries. As depicted below, sequins and shimmers can be found in a variety of garments— from jumpsuits and sweatshirts to clutches and booties. Whether you are mad for metallics or have been reluctant to try this daring trend, now is certainly the time to do so!

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

SHINE ON.


REFERENCES

Murray, G. (2017, December 14). “The 2018 Hair Color Trend We Did Not See Coming.” Refinery29. Retrieved from www.refinery29.com.

Yotka, S. (2017, October 1). “Everything You Need to Know About Valentino’s Rosy, Shimmery Spring 2018 Collection.” Vogue. Retrieved from www.vogue.com.

Slogan Sass

Slogan tees have certainly been around for a while in the fashion industry. However, more recently, designers have grown more creative and more progressive with their use of slogans on various garments.

According to Alyssa Hardy (2017), “What you wear can say so much about your personality and beliefs. Lately, with so much uncertainty in the world, brands across the country are coming up with ways to incorporate these causes into something that everyone can wear: the classic white tee.” Therefore, the slogan tee has certainly become a political statement, in addition to a fashion statement. Additionally, slogan tee dates back to the 1960s with the birth of individuality in the fashion industry, and survived through many decades of evolving fashion. Why are these statement pieces still relevant in today’s street style and runway shows? Racked author, Elyse Hauser, think that social media may have an influence. “Maybe that’s why the slogan tee has boomed in popularity during the Internet era. It’s how we talk to each other. Text messages. 140 characters or less. A new post every day” (Hauser 2017).

Perhaps social media is responsible for the continuation of this style, but also, the blossoming of brands that dedicate a major portion of their brand to slogan pieces may have made a contribution. For example, Wildfox features lines of graphic tees and slogan sweatshirts each and every season. With their global partnerships with brands such as Coca-Cola and Mattel, they are able to create quite popular designs. Personally, I just purchased a Wildfox slogan sweatshirt from the Marshall’s in Athens, Georgia and I cannot wait to wear it with leggings to class and over a swimsuit once summer rolls back around.

Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Additionally, major fast fashion retailers such as, Forever 21, H&M, Zara, Urban Outfitters, Nasty Gal and Asos, among others, all stock various slogan tees. On the other end of the spectrum, couture designers like Gucci, Dior, Paco Rabanne, Moschino and Givenchy have incorporated the trend into their recent collections. In addition to unique slogan tees for the individual, some brands designed these tees for coordination with a friend. For example, Show Me Your Mumu featured “Big Sis” and “Lil Sis” tees this season and last season they saw success with a “Fun Brunette” and “Smart Blonde” slogan tee pairing.

Slogan tees can tell a story. Whether that story is a political one, a personal one or simply a playful one, the message is seen by numerous people via a slogan tee. These garments give the individual the power to show what causes she fights for or if she is an avid coffee drinker. Some like to wear their heart on their sleeve, but others like to put words in its place.


References

Hardy, A. (2017, October 30). T-Shirts With Protest Slogans That Actually Help Causes You Care About. Teen Vogue. Retrieved from https://www.teenvogue.com.

Hauser, E. (2017, March 7). Sassy Slogan Tees Are Here to Stay. Racked. Retrieved from https://www.racked.com.