As I wondered round the sprawling mall the other day, taking in the stores and swarms of angst ridden teenagers, I found myself travelling back through the years when my love affair with the (at sometimes questionable) fashions of the good ol’ US of A began as a teen. My aunt would give me Old Navy
clothing for Christmas and birthday presents that I would wear religiously – the shining American beacon in my boring English wardrobe.
When I came to visit my aunt for the first time in New Jersey, at the age of 14, she took me to Manhattan for the day where I experienced Abercrombie & Fitch
for the first time. Taken in by the all-American charm, I walked out of there with a maroon fleece zip-up hoodie that had navy piping and a small navy ‘Abercrombie & Fitch’ embroidered on the sleeve. The day ended with a makeover at Saks Fifth Avenue. A song out at the time called Summer Girls featured the line; “I like girls who wear Abacrombie & Fitch, I’d take her if I had one wish…” I wore my new American hoodie with pride for the rest of that summer and for many months that followed.
I was around 17 or 18 when I went to the west coast for the first time, with my friend L and her parents, spending time in California, Nevada and Arizona, hanging out in Vegas and riding around on the back of a Harley Davidson for the best part of three weeks. Cult shows and fashions were on the agenda and L introduced me to a store called Hot Topic
. The chain of band t-shirts, cult clothing and comic books was like a revelation in my teens and I remember finding a Hello Kitty t-shirt and a Rainbow Brite
bracelet, both of which were unattainable in England and that I treasured for years until the t-shirt became faded and the bracelet broke.
I don’t know that cartoon/logo tees are really my thing anymore but I love this ‘Nerds Need Love Too’ shirt that I saw in Hot Topic. It is just the kind of thing I would have worn in my teens, when Hello Kitty was, or perhaps just felt, more underground and ‘cult’ then it does today.
I’ll try and dig out some photos of my American adventures, pre-Florida, in fact I still have a pair of jeans I bought from American Eagle Outfitters
from the California trip. Straight in the leg and plain blue in colour, they were the jeans I biked around Europe in a few years ago and that I wore so often I got the all-American rips in the knees that I had always wanted, but refused to pay for.
This I think, is one of the reasons I find it so hard to give up old clothes – clothes which have so many memories woven into them that I treasure too much to part with, despite stains, rips and general unfitting-ness. This is why I’m trying to enjoy what I have, using and wearing it now rather than waiting to ‘save it for best’, see excellent post by LLG
Perhaps you have some treasured tales of clothing you wore to death as a teenager. If so then post a comment or better yet send a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org
After my weekend adventures at the mall and Target, I’ve been hankering for a slightly more diverse and quirky way to fashionably spend my dollars and today I hit gold, in the form of thrift stores.
For the uninitiated, the common thrift store is an American version of a charity shop or vintage boutique. Thrift stores have grown in popularity in recent years, thanks to the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker and Scarlett Johansson championing vintage on and off the red carpet.
I’d been to a few of these quirky stores the last time I was in New York and the look focused very much on leather, denim and retro inspired t-shirts – much akin to the young, hip vintage boutiques in Bristol and London.
Naples is a frustrating place for fashion: the majority of locals are either rich, old, or both, which means that fashion comes in the form of boutiques and exclusive department stores. Great for designer finds, not so great for my wallet. This is why the thrift stores are perfect as all the old people donate all their designer labels and there are plenty of Granny Chic
finds to be had!
Gucci pumps, Escada blazers and a stunning pair of nearly new Docle & Gabbana brogues, above, for $75… there are some amazing finds to be had if you’re prepared to rummage, which I always am! Along with high end designers there were the more obscure American and Italian brands along with the likes of Ralph Lauren and Levi denims.
I visited three shops this afternoon, all just five minutes from the house that I had never noticed before. The lovely ladies at The Rose Garden and some gorgeous vintage jewelry and gave me a map with all the thrift stores of Naples on it (the Holy Grail of my fashion hunt so far). Their shop was divided into open plan rooms with menswear, accessories and womenswear, along with furniture and bridal gowns. All the staff were really helpful and super nice, even pointing me in the direction of other store I might like using said map.
Options and Audrey’s Attic
were next and both were full of treasures. Options was where I found the D&G shoes, photographic evidence of which will be posted soon. A lot bigger than the other stores, Options supports a local domestic abuse charity which one of the employees told me draws a lot of contributions from the community. There was a real mix of clothes here and although one would need to rummage to find good clothes, accessories were displayed on tables and clear perspex units making them easy to locate and identify.
Audrey’s Attic is a ‘for profit’ thrift store and as a result it looked like more money had gone into the decor and the quirky vintage layout. The collection of vintage upstairs was simply stunning and the shop is run by a British couple who were very helpful when I paid them a visit! The vintage on sale spans from the 40s through to the 80’s with some amazing lace wedding gowns and 50s prom dresses, see photo above. There were treasures aplenty and I will definitely be going back next week and taking E with me – she is a label lover and I’m sure I can lure her in to my way of thinking with some vintage Gucci and Chanel!
Stay tuned for accompanying photographs…
>I find it hard to believe but since I landed in sunny Florida over a week ago, I have only got around to exploring some of the shops and ‘the mall’ this afternoon. The biggest difference I’ve noticed so far is that, unlike in huge cities like New York, all the shops are contained in malls or plazas and are not particularly easy to get to on foot.
Like everything in America, the malls and shopping centres are big, big, big with a mix of high street and high end shops inside. Today I paid a visit to Marshalls
which is just like an American version of TK Maxx as it sells high end familiar and obscure brands at low prices (normally due old season lines or unsuccessful sellers).
I managed to pick up a wicked pair of New Balance grey and red running trainers, which can now replace my accent Nikes, while my friend picked up a cute pair of Emporo Armani sunglasses for $10 – bargain!
Next stop was Target
which I always thought of as an US version of Primark – cheap clothes and there for lower quality. The only time I heard of this popular American store was when Sarah Jessica Parker designed a (poorly received) womenswear line
for it back in 2007. I was surprised then, to find not only far more than clothing on offer but that it offers regular seasonal designer lines, and this time by Anna Sui
. The collection
has been inspired by the TV show Gossip Girl and featured trademark Sui design features such as lace and fringing, like this gorgeous grey t-shirt, above
The collection looked like it had been inspired by the wild west, with nostalgic saloon tassels and lots of high-neck cream and black blouses. Although I’ve never seen an episode of Gossip Girl I’ve been informed that each of the 19 pieces in the collection has been influenced by Sui’s favorite characters. Talking to Target press Sui said of the show; ” [Gossip Girl] is such a phenomenon and so fashionable, so I really wanted to create a collection reflective of the four main characters.”
The line came out in August so before I found my way to the shops it had already been put on the sale rack. Personally I’ve fallen for the grey t-shirt with black fringing as it it is simple but feminine – a classic Anna Sui look. As soon as I work out the bus system I’m going back to buy it!
More Ship-Shape and Florida Fashion updates and pictures to follow so watch this space…