Filed under: Trends

Cleaning House… for Kooba?

imageAfter months of procrastination, I finally mustered up the courage to clean out my crammed closets to make way for the impending arrival of… twins! Yes, I’m expecting not one, but two little ones in January 2010. If it weren’t for the babies, I probably would have never pushed myself to do the deed. But as my friend Cindy said over lunch the other day, “You’re in nesting mode Dara,” to which I’d have to agree.

Case in point: I recently filled up 6 industrial-strength garbage bags with clothing castoffs – most of which I’m donating to Housing Works, simply to make room for the soon-to-arrive borders, as my husband and I jokingly refer to them. Yes, I’m a good Samaritan, despite the countless dollars of hard-earned cash I’ve wasted on designer denim (as if I’ll ever be able to squeeze into size 24 J Brands again), fitted Smythe blazers (they’ll never cover my belly button even after losing those pregnancy pounds) and Loeffler Randall shoes that I’ve sadly outgrown (a common, yet unfortunate pregnancy occurrence).

Perhaps the worst realization to come out of this so-called nesting ritual: having just sold 2 barely-worn Botkier trigger handbags along with a Foley & Corinna Jetsetter on eBay (pregnancy brain clearly prevents me from thinking straight), I’m now in desperate need of an equally stylish replacement bag – something roomy and timeless with an edge that I can tote around long after the twins arrive. Having perused dozens of websites (brick-and-mortar shopping simple isn’t an option when your tummy resembles a torpedo), I finally came across “the one” – this stunning Kooba tote (a.k.a. the “Ryder.”)

One glance at the sultry suede arm candy on and I instantly fell madly in love. While you can’t go wrong with the classic black leather and shimmery metallic silver versions, it’s the rich purple Ryder – a total power color that is sure to instantly spice-up my predominantly black and Belgian-inspired wardrobe, that I’m utterly obsessed with. Another reason why I’m smitten by Kooba’s Ryder tote: this wearable work of art gives me a permasmile just picturing it slung over my shoulder. Other must-have details worth noting include a magnetic snap closure (ideal for deterring pesky muggers), 2 interior cell phone pockets, a sturdy lining and lengthy double straps that sit comfortably on your shoulders (read: no slippage or painful red marks on your skin). But the ultimate pièce de resistance is the funky ‘80’s-inspired triangle frame that’s adorned with punk-infused asymmetrical zippers. What can I say… I’m loving anything with a hard-core rock ‘n roll edge at this pre-baby stage in my life. Guess that’s my way of rebelling. But I digress…

The Kooba Ryder, from what I can tell, also happens to be deep enough for stowing everyday essentials such as my iPhone, wallet, Thermos Intak, Trish McEvoy mini pager and dare I say those dreaded diapers and baby bottles. While you might scoff at the hefty $595 price tag, take it from me – this Kooba arm candy is sure to be a sweet investment.

P.S. In case you’re wondering, getting rid of all my excess crap actually felt rather cathartic. Which reminds me… I happen to have a few more castoffs available on eBay, including a lightweight patent-leather Bulga satchel with multiple pockets. Any takers? Simply drop me a line at

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Confessions of a “Recovering” Shopaholic

With all the hoopla surrounding the newly released film, Confessions of a Shopaholic, I thought it only fitting that I blog about the subject matter, especially given that 17.5 million Americans suffer from compulsive buying. Yes, myself included. While certainly not one of my better traits, I’m well on the road to recovery (as if I really had a choice in this economy?) and I thought I’d share some of the warning signs and preventative measures to help you or someone you know.

Just like alcohol and gambling for some, compulsive buying is an addiction and can be destructive to you and those around you… just ask my husband! “When it becomes repetitive and gets to the point where you’re actually craving it, that becomes a problem,” says Terrence Shulman, founder of The Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft & Spending.

Just so you’re aware, compulsive buying had its roots well before Sophie Kinsella’s chick lit novel became a best seller. In fact, the disorder was first identified by a German doctor in 1915 who referred to it as “oniomania” for the Greek term “onios,” which means “for sale.” Even the American Psychiatric Association is considering including compulsive buying in it’s updated manual of mental disorders.

With retailers’ aggressive discounting due to the disastrous economy, no wonder compulsive buying is even more prevalent than ever before. Everywhere I go it seems as if there’s a designer deal to be had. Even high-end department stores like Bergdorf Goodman are currently selling designer merch at discounts of up to 50% off…. something that was unheard of before. That, coupled with the recent trend of those time-sensitive luxury sample sale sites like and, serial shopping almost sounds justified.

Brave enough to ask yourself if you suffer from compulsive shopping behavior? Better ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have a closet filled with unworn designer duds with the tags still attached, yet still feel you have nothing to wear?
  • Does your monthly shoe allowance exceed your rent?
  • Do you return almost everything you buy? Yes, this is still a symptom of a related disorder (a.k.a. shopping bulimia).
  • When you’re feeling blue, do you seek comfort at one of the three B’s: Bloomies, Bergdorf’s or Barney’s?
  • Do you hide purchases from your significant other and lie about what you spend (sorry dad, you might want to search Mom’s closet!).
  • When you shop, do you feel a rush of euphoria mixed with feelings of anxiety?

If you answered yes to 3 or more of these questions, you likely have compulsive buying tendencies. For more information on symptoms and treatment, visit The Shulman Center For Compulsive Theft & Spending or

Do you suffer from compulsive shopping? Share your stories with the Fashion Junkie community.

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Spring It On!

Don’t get me wrong. I love living in the Big Apple. But having just endured several weeks of consecutive sub zero temps accompanied by snow and sleet, I’m desperate for a large dose of vitamin D. But since I can’t afford a ticket to the Caribbean anytime soon, I’ve resorted to virtual retail therapy: perusing luxury e-tailers like in search of colorful and flesh-baring pre-spring frocks I wish I had in my wardrobe. Admittedly, this fashion porn is self-inflicted torture, but who says a girl can’t dream every now and then, right?! But I digress. From drop-catch dhoti pants to bandage dresses to fringe-adorned footwear, Spring ‘09’s sartorial offerings are guaranteed to lift your spirits no matter how gloomy these economic times. 

Hip, Hip, Harem!
imageWhen it comes to bottoms, baggy is the buzzword of the day. The ones worth investing in for spring are Splendid’s M.C. Hammer-inspired harems (shown here). Note the characteristically low crotch (a.k.a. crap-catchers), which looks beyond smashing when paired with cutout heels and a cropped blazer. Strikingly similar to what I wore in the ‘80’s (if only I hadn’t donated ‘em all to Goodwill!), Splendid’s contemporary jersey version is undeniably comfy and cool. Plus, the fold-over waistband does wonders for concealing PMS-induced tummy bloat. Affordably priced at $115, why not treat yourself to all three hues (available in black, grey and white)… at least while they’re in stock. Better “bust a move” before they sell out! Splendid jersey harem pants, $115 at

Romper Rage
imageThanks to the return of the romper, “jumping for joy” will have new meaning this spring. Also referred to as the onesie, the playsuit, the catsuit and the jumpsuit, this ultra sexy evening staple from the ‘80’s has clearly made a swift comeback. Now perfectly acceptable to don during daylight hours, this silk “I Dream Of Jeanie” jumper from Myne, which has a skin-baring V neck and gathered T strap in back (meow!), is the one on my radar screen. The only downside with this trend: it’s a total pain in the arse when you have to pee. Myne Abbie Jumpsuit, $317 at

Bandage Dress
imageSlip into this slinky Hervé Léger bandage dress and you’ll look like you’ve just had lipo… sans the surgery. Just check out this photo of Beyoncé…not an unsightly bulge in sight? image

imageAnd in this photo of Victoria Beckham, her boobs and normally bony butt appear to have been given a lift. I know… it’s hard to believe that a combo of tightly woven rayon, nylon and spandex works like an instant tummy tuck!! In fact, after trying one on at Intermix, I confidently strutted around the store without having to suck in my gut. The va-va-voom neckline, criss-cross straps (in the back) and pops of fuschia, turquoise and hot pink are the pièce de resistance. Although a $990 price tag may seem unconscionable, Leger’s iconic curve-inducing bandage dress is still considerably cheaper than a trip to your plastic surgeon. Available at

Fringe Benefits
imageSaddle up, sisters! The new frontier in fashion for Spring ‘09 is all about… the “fringe.” Aside from the usual suspects like vintage-inspired suede jackets and vests, these trendy tassels can also be found dangling from a host of designer threads such as this Foley & Corinna nude flapper dress, V-neck tanks, satchels (this purple Botkier is my personal fave) and even shoes, like these jaw-dropping Christian Louboutin peep-toe pumps (shown here). Don’t you just love how the (suede) strands gracefully drape around the ankles but still reveal a hint of skin? An added bonus is their concealed platform, which enables even the spazziest of fashionistas to balance despite the teetering 4 7/10” heel. Available in midnight black and this bold magenta hue for the mind-boggling price of $1,095 at Recessionistas don’t despair… betcha it’s only a matter of time ‘til Topshop knocks ‘em off.

Crazy Cut Outs
imageNot that I have the disposable income to invest in any luxury designer items at the moment, but if I did, I’d definitely snap up these sizzling Yves Saint Laurent bondage-inspired cage boots, which sell for a steep $1,400. Aside from their obvious cool factor, Laurent’s luxe foot jewels let your toesies breathe so you needn’t worry about athlete’s foot and the accompanying stink. Buyers beware: with a stacked heel this exposed, you’d better avoid wearing ‘em whilst walking Fido in the park, if you know what I mean. Available at

imageFor recessionistas in need of a more wallet-friendly option, you can’t go wrong with these fierce $38 (I repeat, $38!) Abaeté for Payless gladiator sandals. Made from real suede, these cheap, yet chic shoes feature a padded footbed for added comfort and a convenient back zip. Throw ‘em on with a sexy catsuit and you’ll clearly have a “jump” start on your spring wardrobe. Happy shopping!

I’m curious… would you break the bank on any of these designer luxury items or are you putting the kibosh on frivolous purchases altogether due to the recession? C’mon, don’t be shy… share your thoughts with the Fashion Junkie community!

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Lancôme Ôscillation: Good Vibrations

imageAs a bonafide beauty junkie, I’ve come across a lot of “eye-opening” gadgets in my time, but nothing even comes close to Lancôme Ôscillation – the world’s first battery-operated, vibrating mascara wand.

I know, you’re probably wondering: “why on earth does anyone need a $34 dollar gizmo like this added to their everyday beauty routine?” For starters, this revolutionary black mascara is made from an ultra-moisturizing formula that has incredible staying power. But the biggest benefit is the built-in miniaturized motor that oscillates 7000 times per minute, giving you controlled and evenly defined eyelash coverage that doesn’t clump! The vibrating wand extends, separates and voluminizes lashes in just three quick and easy steps:

Step 1: Simply unscrew the cap and press the little button to activate the vibrating wand. You’ll hear a buzzing nose that sounds like an electric toothbrush. Make sure to hold the button down during application for a continuous vibration.

Step 2: Wipe the wand with a piece of Kleenex to remove excess mascara. I always do this before application for a more natural look.

Step 3: Place the wand at the base of the lash line, hold it steady and slowly glide it upwards from root to tip. There’s no need to zig-zag or use fast little strokes – Lancôme Ôscillation does all the work! Count up to five seconds (for each application) to ensure the best results. Notice how your upper lashes are thicker and longer… without any clumps!

Keep in mind: one quick coat is all you need for gorgeous, longer-looking and natural lashes. For a more dramatic result, simply apply another 2-3 coats. Just make sure to wait at least 30 seconds for the mascara to dry. You can also add the mascara to your lower lashes to really make your eyes pop.

Try Lancôme Ôscillation and you’ll never have to fuss with an eyelash curler,  falsies or bleaching agents again! Plus, it’s goof-proof, makes for a perfect stocking stuffer and is just plain fun!

Buy your tube of Lancôme Ôscillation at while supplies last.



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Holiday Retail Round-Up: The Final Push

imageTo deal with the sharp decline in consumer spending, apparel retailers are devising clever ways to move sale merchandise during this pivotal holiday shopping season. Arguably, the most critical period for retailers, the 4th quarter can make or break a company’s profitability targets for the year.

Consumer spending this holiday season also sets the tone for merchandising strategies in fiscal ’09. Since it’s crucial for retailers to push overstock inventory right now, they’re pulling out all the stops. While some sales strategies are tried and true (e.g., gift cards, downloadable coupons, one-day-only sales, friends-and-family discounts and ramped-up rewards programs) this season offers some newfangled techniques to get consumers’ attention. Dara Fleischer of investigates.

Online Social Networking
US apparel brands are finally waking up to the benefits of low-cost, high-impact marketing and the viral buzz of online social networks. From setting up interactive, store-branded Facebook groups, flashy MySpace pages, viral YouTube videos and Twitter accounts, these targeted online tactics instantly help retailers attract new customers, generate site traffic and ultimately, sell more products.

imageFor example, New York & Company, a leading specialty retailer of women’s fashion apparel and accessories, recently launched a Facebook group that incorporates videos featuring “Trendy Not Spendy” holiday looks along with celebrity stylist wardrobe tips, must-have holiday merchandise, current promotions (e.g., take 30% off every purchase on Cyber Monday) and branded “NY Style Notebook” widgets, which enable would-be shoppers to receive the latest offers directly on their desktop. Daily bulletins are also posted on their Facebook “wall,” informing fans about holiday sale stock, gift-giving selections as well as how to receive 20% off their entire purchase. The ultimate goal: to get New York & Company Facebook (group) members to spread the word about these irresistible deals and ultimately, shop in-store.

Alternative Distribution Channels: Blogger Outreach
imageWeb-savvy fashion retailers such as Lucky Brand Jeans have begun courting influential bloggers to help boost holiday sales. The popular sportswear label recently reached out to Glam Media’s curated network of top-tier fashion bloggers (from over 700 leading women’s lifestyle websites) to write posts endorsing an exclusive Lucky Jeans holiday promotion. Each post, such as this one from Stiletto Jungle, included a blurb about the brand’s latest holiday offerings, an eye-catching image and the promo details.

Deeper Discounts
imageTo compensate for unsold Fall/Winter ’08 inventory and to make room for pre-spring shipments, luxury department stores across the country such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York and Bergdorf Goodman are offering deeper discounts than ever before. Mind-boggling discounts of up to 70% off (amounts previously unheard of) the original ticketed price are being offered. Even off-price retailers such as Loehmann’s, DSW, T.J. Maxx and Filene’s Basement are currently offering coveted designer merchandise for up to 65% off original department store prices.

Buy One, Get One Free
imageAccording to market research firm NDP Group, since stores are already offering up to 70% off and have mounds of inventory that merchants need to clear, retailers will likely be doing more two-for-one deals this holiday season. Pear, a trendy New York-based shoe boutique, is currently offering a “buy one, get one free” footwear promotion. And Gap Inc. recently launched a buy-one-get-one 50% off sweater sale for their online shoppers.

VIP Services
imageIndependent boutiques are being crushed by big budget department store promotions so they’ve been forced to come up with their own innovative ways to move sale merchandise. Owner Lydia Burd of Shop, a cult clothing and accessories boutique located in New York’s Lower East Side, started hosting weekly trunk shows, whereby designers like Siwy (founder of the cult denim label) stop by to educate customers about choosing a flattering denim fit. All the featured styles were marked down an additional 20% off exclusively for customers that night.

imageJackie Atkins, owner of nearby Pear as well as Plum, a high-fashion boutique, has also tweaked her holiday shopping strategy due to the crashing economy. “I’m offering customers more specialized services such as free styling sessions to make them feel special and ultimately shop,” exclaimed Atkins. If a customer buys something that’s suggested during the styling session, they automatically receive 50% off each item. Plus, if they spend $200 at Plum, they’re also entitled to a 15% discount at Pear.

Back To Basics
imageDespite all the new tactics and tools available, some retailers such as The Shoe Box, a contemporary New York-based footwear boutique, use a more traditional approach to push holiday merchandise. Store manager Sean Kirsch and his staff regularly contact customers by phone and send hand-written notes informing them of special promotions and in-store events. Explains Kirsch, “We’re making a concerted effort to stay on top of customers so they come into our stores to shop. At the end of the day, communication and consistent service is what sells.”


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