Re-Tales: confessions of a shopaholic

Mini Fashion Junkie In The Making

Fashion Junkie Junior

Fashion Junkie Junior

Looks like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. At the tender age of two and a half, my daughter is already exhibiting common traits of a Fashion Junkie. Case in point: she throws a tantrum if anyone even attempts to choose her outfits and feels compelled to change multiple times a day… but not just because of mac ‘n cheese and poop stains. She’s beyond obsessed with leopard-print (Gap’s fedora is her current fixation) and jeggings, proudly prances around the apartment armed with a Hello Kitty polka dot purse, faux credit card, plastic tube of red lipstick and pretends to go shopping at “the store.” Thankfully Bloomingdale’s hasn’t entered her vocabulary yet.

But what really threw me over the edge were the words she recently blurted out after attempting to test-drive my 4” Miu Miu wedge booties; “I Want To Be Mommy!” While the statement was certainly flattering, it dawned on me that I want my daughter to love me for who I am (though I’m still trying to figure that out!)… not for what I’m wearing. With this in mind, I’ve decided to re-think my shopping strategy this season. Instead of making impulsive online purchases at 4am – the only time I can focus with twin toddlers in my house!, I asked myself, “Self: do you really need 5 more leather Mackage jackets?” Truth be told: I’ve been a compulsive shopper for years and admit it’s a BandAid solution for a much bigger problem. Read more about that in this blog post.

Now that I’ve hit the big “4-0,” it’s about time I grew up and set a good example for my twins, not to mention save for their college fund. As a result, I’ve decided to temporarily boycott boutiques & e-stores and start shopping in my very own closets. Yup…  I managed to snag separate storage for both my beloved footwear and clothes (thank you, hubby!). Much to my delight, I’ve discovered a veritable treasure trove of fashionable finds. Some items worth noting: Elizabeth & James pointy-toe snakeskin wedges purchased on Shopbop circa 2008 (sadly, never been worn), a teal Christian Lacroix lace dress that my insanely stylish Mom scored from Loehmann’s infamous backroom in ’98 (thankfully it still fits like a glove) and a mint-condition pair of Marc Jacobs T-straps in rich oxblood leather, which just happens to be the shade du jour. Maybe I’m way off base here, but perhaps someday my dearest daughter will appreciate the clothing sacrifices I made. Yeah, right… so long as it doesn’t affect her wardrobe.

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Filed: Fashion Junkie Junior, Featured Posts

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5 Fall Staples Worthy of Blowing Your Severance

Having recently lost my job due to a “company wide re-org,” I probably shouldn’t be thinking about spending a dime on anything other than basic essentials such as food and shelter. That said, with all those irresistible pre-fall fashions trickling into stores, how bad would it be to dip into my severance for some retail therapy? Come to think of it, isn’t clothing also considered a “staple?” Without further adieu, following are 5 fall wardrobe essentials I’ve been salivating over since getting the dreaded pink slip.

Peplum Power

Having just viewed all 5 seasons of Mad Men in 2 weeks (another benefit of having some time on my hands), I’m feeling the need to wear a Joan Harris-inspired power dress like this glittery peplum prize from Cynthia Steffe. And to think I found it at online at of all places?

Pointy-Toe Pumps

These killer patent-leather red pumps from B by Brian Atwood are pure perfection. Not sure how practical 4” heels will be whilst pushing 3 year-old twins around in a double stroller on the cobblestone streets of Dumbo, but can’t a girl dream? Pair these beauties with 7 For All Mankind’s new wax-coated skinnies in merlot and you’re good to go.

Cobalt Crush

I’m obsessed with electric blue (ideal for drawing attention away from my sleep-deprived under eye circles) and anything from French newcomer Maje (same owner as Sandro and Claudie Pierlot, a.k.a. SMCP Group). Right now I’m loving this fitted electric blue wool coat with supple leather sleeves. My biggest beef with this brand: the smallest available size is typically 36 (equivalent to a US 4), which means I’ll have to spend extra coin getting it altered to fit my frame. C’est dommage.

Bold Handbags

Most fashionistas I know are obsessed with Celine’s new “It Bag,” the Trapeze, which starts at only $2,100. Aside from the price tag (which would require me to take out a second mortgage), I personally prefer a lighter weight and more functional carryall to tote around my belongings. Enter Jerome Dreyfuss, a Paris-based designer who recently made his foray into the US market. Incidentally, I’ve noticed his jaw-dropping designs decorating store shelves at the likes of Barneys, Zoe and other online sites such as Shopbop, Ssense, La Garconne and even Saks. So much for that undiscovered secret! Certainly not cheap with prices ranging from $950+, but I do think his latest incarnation of last year’s Max hobo – the Etienne, is worth the investment. While available in black, forest green and dark grey, my personal fave is fire-engine red – an obnoxiously chic standout shade that happens to blend perfectly with the burgundy Iro biker jacket I’ve been lusting after.

Buyer beware: if you opt for the calfskin version, make sure you don’t wear it in the rain. I accidentally threw an opened water bottle inside my precious Max last fall and the burgundy leather turned a darker shade in one very obvious spot. I still haven’t forgiven myself for that faux pas.

Luxe Leather

With regard to outerwear this fall, it’s a toss-up between IRO’s bordeaux leather biker jacket and Mackage’s Mongolian-trim Kivi. I’m not the biggest fan of toggles (blustery winds often creep through the gaps), but think this beauty is beyond sophisticated. Sadly I have a slight fur allergy, but would be willing to put up with a rash and hives, at least for this season.

Dear reader: would you consider blowing your severance on frivolous fashion items? Feel free to share your stories/comments with the FJ community. I love hearing from you!

Fashion Junkie


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Filed: 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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Filed: Trends

Fashion Junkie in the Press!

Cynthia Cheng of Toronto-based Prospere Magazine, profiled yours truly in a feature story about my passion for fashion, unpredictable career path (from editor-turned-blogger to marketing director) and overall mission in life: to make the world a better-dressed place, one person at a time. Check out the Career Profiles section for more.

Dara Fleischer – Blogger, Marketing Director and Fashionista

Dara Fleischer, originally of Montreal, is a graduate of Ryerson University’s broadcast journalism program.  She has worked in a variety of different fashion-related publications and companies, including LOULOU magazine and Club Monaco.  She is currently the Marketing Director of Beyond the Rack, an online shopping club based out of Montreal.  Dara was one of the earliest employees of the company – the fourth actually, and is the only employee of the company based out of New York. She works out of a home office.

Prior to Beyond the Rack, Dara was the editor and founder of – an online style source for “serial shoppers,” including herself.  It was actually one of the earliest blogs online – before the term “blog” and “blogger” were in the everyday vernacular – and focused on the day in the life of a “shopaholic.”  The site was originally very bare-bones, but was revamped a few years later when it became Dara’s full-time focus.  Though Dara is now working with Beyond the Rack on a full time basis, she still finds time to update the site – it is her baby, after all. What’s very interesting is that though Dara has worked in the fashion industry for most of her career, she did not take one fashion course at Ryerson. Dara’s site also organizes shopping tours – called “fashion safaris

The Beyond the Rack site, which operates similarly to other shopping clubs like Gilt Group, gives members access to purchase designer items at a lower cost short time (ranging from a few minutes to a few days). In addition to luxury products, Beyond the Rack also offers items from more moderate priced brands.  Best of all, unlike other shopping clubs, Beyond the Rack delivers to Canada and the United States. What does Dara think of her job? “When you’re really passionate about something, it’s not a job – it’s not work – it’s something that gives me a sense of pleasure and makes me happy. If I can help everyone look great and feel their best, it makes me smile.”

Exclusive Deal for Fashion Junkie Fans! For your FREE Beyond the Rack membership, plug in the following promo code on the landing page: IHEARTBTR. Happy shopping!

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Filed: Interviews Celebratory Summer Maternity Sale!

imageCalling all Mom’s-to-be!, the luxe London-based line of maternity wear that I featured in this Fashion Junkie Fix (newsletter), is throwing their annual can’t-miss summer maternity sale starting today (Wednesday, June 3rd). With savings of 25% off their regular retail prices, the added weight gain almost seems worthwhile.

Having just perused the Isabella Oliver site, I thought I’d recommend a few spring/summer sartorial highlights you simply can’t afford to miss:

  • this body-hugging Ruched Tank Dress (pictured above – available in cobalt and black, originally $175)
  • this ultra chic Monaco Dress (available in crisp white or black, originally $185)
  • this flirty ‘n feminine Midi Kimono Wrap Dress (available in coffee and insignia, originally $240)
  • this slinky strapless Kelly Dress, perfect for a shotgun wedding! (available in tan and insignia, originally $280)

In addition to the insanely stylish roster of merchandise sold on the site, is also chock full of helpful tips and tricks for building your maternity wardrobe (the maternity No No’s are a must), a slick virtual maternity magazine and informative Style Notes. Also not-to-be-missed are the runway and how-to-wear-it videos, witty and informative blog (written by the company’s co-founders, Baukjen and Vanessa), cool interactive features like this downloadable style widget and my personal favorite: the Socialite tools (a.k.a. Twitter and Facebook fan pages). But I digress…

imageTo take advantage of IsabellaOliver’s blow-out maternity sale, simply use the promotional code ‘summer’ at checkout to receive your discount. Buyer beware: the code only applies to full-priced items (excluding the sale, cowshed skincare and lingerie). Better hurry… you only have until midnight on Monday, June 8th to score all of the fabulous savings. Happy shopping!

P.S. Make sure to sign-up for Isabella Oliver’s email newsletter for even more style secrets, exclusive sales, new collection previews and lots more!

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Filed: Featured Posts, Shop Talk