Italiano all the way

I have a handbag obsession. I rationalize it as the most effective form of therapy, but the truth is I just love bags. While there are designers whose visions of handbags have sent me over the moon, I have also had amazing luck by changing up my bag shopping ways: I’m shopping Italiano.

Not Gucci (but I adore Gucci) and not Pucci (love you too, Emilio). Instead, I’ve been on the lookout for “no-name” Italian designers whose work shows up on ebay for so ridiculously cheap, you can pick up a bag often for less than a price of a pizza! The allure of quality materials, stitchwork and hardware at such reasonable prices can drive me into a drool-inducing hours of window shopping via computer.

One lovely designer is Marino Orlandi, whose vision includes alot of bucket bags, but I was fond of this red, lovely crossbody who showed up in my life awhile ago for only $10. I love the crocodile imprint on the leather, and the Kelly-style silhouette is a classic that keeps me interested, no matter the season. I’ve paired this with a purple sweater, dark jeans and black knee high boots in winter and loved the red-purple pop.

One trick to searching ebay is to use generic terms such as “Italian leather” or “soft leather” as your keywords, that’s how I found this red lovely. If you’re open to new designers, and the possibility of some amazing quality leathers, you’d be surprised what this kind of keyword search can yield. Now sort your list by lowest price, and you’ll find the uber bargains right on top.

And don’t forget to click the box to “search descriptions” too. This alone can help you find lots of items that fall through the cracks, and therefore often don’t get bid against.

“Italian leather” keyword searching was exactly how I found my summer crush by Italian bag designer Cecconi Piero. Isn’t this pretty? It’s velvety soft, glove leather and just puddles when you set it down.

It all started on a vacation to Colorado in June when a painted leather bag caught my eye in a store window, but the $170 price tag kept me from nabbing it on the spot. But it haunted me, as only a collector can be haunted. However, when I saw this painted leather beauty by Cecconi Piero on ebay? I knew I’d found my replacement. This was only $40 and although it’s from a season ago, it’s in nearly pristine condition. On Piero’s website, his handbags average 260 Euros (roughly $360+) so I was particularly proud of my shopping prowess.

Here’s another trick to finding great ebay bargains: check for misspellings. For example, the Cecconi Piero logo looks like “Ceoni” Piero to the untrained eye. As a result, many bags get listed under this typo, and also do not get bid against because of it.

…And, it has ladybugs! Ladybugs have been my theme since the beginning of summer, when I began doing ladybug totem meditations, so seeing them here on my bag pleases me greatly!

Published in: on August 23, 2011 at 7:51 am  Comments (2)  
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The traveling ho scarf

Isn’t this the coolest scarf?

I love it. I wish you could hold it in your hands, and hear the stories it tells. Every square of this scarf was knit by another pair of Bravo Whores’ hands, in our traveling scarf project. The Bravo Whores is a subforum on the ravelry.com website (dedicated to knitting, crocheting, and spinning fiber) and we began this project in 2008. My scarf didn’t come home again until 2010, and over a dozen wonderful women made it happen. And, it was worth the wait.

It’s unique, it’s amazing, it is personal and it is fashionable. Each of us in the group chose the colors we liked best, but otherwise the yarns and designs were selected by each knitter to add their voice to the scarf.

And although the Bravo Whores didn’t plan it this way, I think it’s interesting that the scarves vaguely resemble the scarves that Project Runway Season One Winner, Jay McCarroll, used for his final runway show that season (below, far left).

Now is the time to say it loud, say it proud, “All hail the Bravo Whores!”

Published in: on August 16, 2011 at 12:44 pm  Comments (3)  
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A date night look

Date nights come around for my husband and I about every 6-8 weeks, and whenever they do? We live for the time we can spend paying attention to each other for a change, and to keeping our AllSpark alive (see? the kids are already creeping in again!)

Aren’t we adorable? Together for 19.5 years now.

Date night for me means a night to get dressed up and wear something pretty, for my man… and for me.

It’s a favorite ensemble of mine, and was deemed blog-worthy by several fashionista, Bravo Whore friends of mine. So, let’s take a moment to pull some items out of my closet!

The “Ariba” dress is by Diane von Furstenberg, and I rarely get a chance to wear it unless it’s the dead of summer because it’s a lightweight silk which was perfect for 98* weather that day. I’ve paired it with periwinkle tights and a black DVF cardigan for a theater outing last Spring, but that’s the only time this one’s seen the light of day besides mid-summertime. Its silk weight is light as air, and the cumberbund tie band fits snug on the torso, but loose on the stomach, making it so easy to wear, even if you’re sitting in a theater seat for a few hours after a big dinner.

The shoes are Dolce & Gabbana, they’re velveteen with rose print, an ebay treasure I nabbed several years ago for under $50. Here’s to having big feet! Sometimes, size 40s and 41s don’t get bid against as much. Always ask your seller to measure the insole if you’re bidding an item and uncertain of the fit. On average, look for items with .5″ longer insole than your own footprint.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m more of a bag girl. Here’s a purse pr0n shot, with two of my favorite things, to go with the shoe pr0n shot…

…henna and a great bag. My henna design (done by me, of course) is hard to see in this light, but the bag sure isn’t. It’s a Balenciaga City bag in the color called Ink (a tongue-in-cheek reference that it was bought with earnings from my freelance writing). Another amazing aspect of this color, which has never been offered again since Balenciaga used it in 2006: It’s purple in daylight, but tends towards black in low light, or at night. Because we were leaving mid-day, it was an easy day-to-night piece to carry.

Nice close up on the DVF rose print material too, by the by. You can see the periwinkle.

Hubby took this one before we left, a nice look at my hair, makeup and jewelry. I’ve given up on my hair (except for keeping it red) with the rationalization that people pay big money for Brazilian blowouts to create hair as straight and lifeless as mine is naturally. Hubby is a fan of bangs, and of me wearing my hair down, so….

Makeup was light, since our date began at 3 p.m. but I winged the eyelids a bit with black eyeliner. I made the “statement necklace” from 3 other necklaces I already own (I’ll be blogging more about the necklace, I promise). And, I matched it with a gold tennis bracelet, a pearl dangle bracelet in gunmetal, and crystal & gold hoop earrings.

If you could smell Chanel No. 5, you’d have my entire look for the evening encapsulated right here.

We had a blast too, I’m already counting the days until our next getaway.

Published in: on August 11, 2011 at 8:05 am  Leave a Comment  
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Tom Ford made me sunnies!

You remember when you were a kid, and you’d find those keychains/bumperstickers/magnets that had your name on it? And you’d search through the rack until you found your name, and then… that thrill when you saw your name there?

Yeah, I never had that. “Alissa” was never there, I dreamed of it though.

I admit, there’s still a little bit of that 8-year-old girl in me who thrills to see something with her name on it. So imagine how I felt when I found out about these…

Gasp! Why, it’s even spelled correctly! No Y, one L, two S’s.

Tom Ford, that darling man, made me some sunglasses! Wasn’t that nice of him?

I’m so delighted! Thank you, Tom! I love them! And, the best part? These beauties retailed for $600. But I live and die by the motto, “Never pay retail.” I nabbed this brand new pair on ebay for over 90% off retail.

SCORE! Here’s how happy I am about them…

A few tips on helping to authenticate your Tom Ford sunnies, if you find a pair that’s intriguing: Get familiar with the model by doing image searches on retail sites that carry the same model you’re shopping for. Read the exact text on the glasses’ inside arms and compare fonts for accuracy. Know which designer details to look for, such as the recessed “Tom Ford” plates at the exterior ends of the arms. And most importantly, make sure the left front lens has “Tom Ford” inscribed, in the correct font, to be sure your pair is authentic. This pair didn’t include these photo details in the ebay ad, but the seller provided more pics to my email upon my request.

Many buyers are too lazy to put in the research but for the intrepid shopper? It’s like hitting the jackpot! Another ebay tip: Set a search for your model and designer name, and be patient. For 5 weeks, every new pair of Alissa’s that were listed on ebay started at a price of $120 and up. When this pair showed up with an opening price in my price range? I stalked it like prey until they landed on my face.

Published in: on August 8, 2011 at 2:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“It’s the mooost wonderful tiiiime of the year…”

August might be my favorite month of TV. All good things return in August, including my Rachel Zoe, and of course Project Runway just started last week. It’s like all my dormant fashion genes get reactivated and suddenly my mind is swimming in the notion of finding wild prints to mix and silhouettes to explore.

It’s always too early to find a favorite on Project Runway when there are so many designers they barely fit on the runway. But Bert’s humor and his standout boxer short/dress made him memorable for week one. And I’m curious to see what Anja, the Miss Universe contestant who professes to only 4 months of sewing skills, can do. According to her, this week was her first attempt at making pants, and the judges loved them. Will her beginner’s luck run out, or is there a genuine wizard in the making we’re seeing?

Oh, blessed August… that special time of year that brings me back to life, and couture dreams dance through my head like sugarplums while I mix and match items from my wardrobe, and scour ebay for incredible deals. Oh blessed Rachel Zoe, who is pregnant like a Madonna this season and assuredly the most delightfully absurdly in love with fashion now that she has her own line to express herself with. I will reserve my opinion of her Brad-placement until I get a better look but my first impression was… meh. But, did I mention Rach is preggers?

This is the time of the year that I claim back some of my estrogen and force the boys and men whom I cohabitate with to learn words like “color palette” and “Irish linen,” while enduring runway look, after look, after blessed look.

And then, just a few weeks away from now, it finally arrives… the September issue. The culmination point of a year of ad campaigns and runway trends. The issue whose weight leaves dents in your legs as you page through it. Truly, there is much to be grateful for, my friends.

Published in: on August 2, 2011 at 4:16 pm  Leave a Comment