As a fashion editor, I was often asked all sorts of style-related questions, from "What's the latest trend?" to "What's the color of the season?" But, the one query that consistently pops up is, surprisingly, much more simple: "Where do you shop?" The short answer? Everywhere. The long answer? ...How much time have you got?
First, I'm going to let you in on a little industry secret: It’s not where I shop but how I shop. When buying something new, your first concern should never be with label but more about whether it suits your style, your closet, and your lifestyle. Just because something is “currently trending” doesn’t mean it'll have a home in my closet. Don’t get me wrong, though — I L-O-V-E a bold, new trend just as much as any good fashion-phile. But, perfunctorily dropping an amount that's way out of my budget on a hot-right-now piece that'll only get one solid wear? Never. Again.
Being a former stylist, I learned a truly valuable nugget of wisdom early on, and if you want the truth, here it is: Fashion — real fashion — is a labor of love, and one that actually requires homework. Anyone can steal a look straight off the runway. But, it takes true talent to interpret the catwalks and formulate an original look (for both an editorial shoot or your own closet), and that oftentimes means mixing a little H&M with your Prada. Coming at clothing with an open mind and a willingness to experiment extends to what you shop for, too. Just as I’d never turn up my nose at a super-cheap find at a random market, I also wouldn't automatically discount a hefty price tag at a posh city boutique.
As an editor, I constantly review runway looks during Fashion Month and actually keep notes. I mark down what are short-term trends, like wedge sneakers, and what are more long-term or mega trends, such as spring’s wrap skirts. Then, it’s all about simple cataloging: The quick-turnaround trends I love that last only a season or two are dropped into the budget category, whereas long-term ones that'll easily transition into various events in my life – date nights, work, GNO, weddings, etc. — make the cut into my splurge column. That list goes into my phone, and I hit up the brick-and-mortars that satisfy both my budget and splurge cravings.
Also, being keenly aware of the stores that translate the trends directly from runway to retail is crucial. High-street shops like Zara or Topshop take direct inspiration from every major designer or brand, from Marni to Céline. I know that I can still attain the same clean lines, eclectic prints, or gotta-have-it trend there that I spotted on the runway, especially when I know that singular item could potentially put me on my own self-made “What was she thinking?” list two years from now.
Here’s where the real conundrum comes in — I’m an addict. A bona-fide, heart-pounding, hands-trembling, can’t-stop-the-shaking shoe addict who desperately joneses for vibrant color, look-at-me heels, quirky prints, floral explosions, and anything supremely feminine. Naturally, Charlotte Olympia, Sophia Webster, and Nicholas Kirkwood would be my besties, and in my dream world, they are. But, in real life, I take cues from their designs and opt for stores like Topshop or Piperlime to quench my thirst. Sure, those main-street substitutions snuggle up next to my real Kirkwoods, but the point isn’t about the have and the have-not sections in my closet. It’s about making well-informed decisions to finally possess the things I truly lust after, no matter how high or low the price tag.
The real trick is not defining my wardrobe by living solely in the moment, but looking to my future moments. Is this something that will see life outside my closet? No, then mark one for the pragmatic angel on my left shoulder. Will it last more than three seasons? Yes, score one for the habit-obsessed, well-dressed devil on my right shoulder. Will I slip up and occasionally step outside my personally mandated parameters? Possibly. Sure, having a closet bursting with Kenzo, Delpozo, and Katrantzou is my version of heaven. But, for now, my stylishly curated high-low wardrobe feels like home.