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Looking Smart

As a fashion editor, I collect oxymorons along with one of a kind beautiful fashion statements for my wardrobe. I am constantly on the lookout for both. My years in the fashion industry as a buyer, fashion coordinator and stylist have produced ingrained, career–sustaining habits of chronically casing the racks for bargains. And, I know that when I come across a truly must-have investment piece, I have the funds to add it to my wardrobe because of all the money I saved on my vast collection of truly great buys.

Binging on Bargains

So to me, thrifting and splurging are not mutually exclusive, but just a clever way to build a stock of well-cut and well-tailored treasures that I can put my personal imprimatur on with a measure of inspired accessorizing.

What I am not very good at is purging. I do acknowledge that some pieces with which I cannot part have long passed their best before date. That's either because I am no longer a size 8 or shoulders that wide will never come back in style, or I have never worn it since I bought it.

Soul Survivor

Recently, I realized that the reason I hang on to these pieces is that I know in my soul that they are a storehouse of scores that can be joyfully re-vamped and re-purposed. Or, they could simply be designs and silhouettes whose time for coming out of the closet hasn't arrived.

For example: three years ago, at SoBe Thrifty, my very favourite outlet in South Beach, I bought what must be a design school student's copy of a black bouclé Chanel style, signature boxy jacket, trimmed with the most garish gold braid ever made.

Why I bought the jacket (which all my devotees know I would never wear, but for some reason could never discard), was for the extra added embellishment of oodles of gold tone buttons, which although not authentic, sported the iconic interlocking double cees.

There were two rows of eight buttons flanking either side of the edge to edge cardigan, and four at the cuff of each sleeve. Sixteen plus eight, twenty-four buttons and the price of the jacket was $12.00, tax included.

You do the math. Fifty cents a button is a steal, even if they ain't real. Especially because I used those buttons to add signature impact to a marked down to $12.00, Tristan version of a knit cardigan Mademoiselle Chanel invented and wore at the seaside in Biarritz circa 1920. Mine is the jersey, 3/4 length black cardigan sweater. (Pictured above.)

SInce then, this sweater has fooled many an expert and is a treasured staple in my personal faux Chanel collection.

The Marvel of a New Indulgence

Nothing gives me an adrenaline rush like a bargain of this magnitude.

Except perhaps for what happened last Saturday, when I found my way to the Chanel boutique at Holt Renfrew on Sherbrooke West in Montreal and face to face with King Karl's Pre-Fall 2010 collection and a black bouclé, bonfide Chanel, boxy jacket trimmed with the most garish gold braid ever made. (Pictured above.)

Was I ever elated to recall that I never off-loaded the over-trimmed jacket that brought me hours of button-envy. I raced home to try it on with every CC do-dad I had. When I was done, I had out-coco-ed Karl.
And the "gift with purchase" is in telling and re-telling the story.
Now that's an indulgence that I can really endorse.

The episode makes me recall what my classy mother use to say about shopping:

"The stores can't stop you from looking."

I say, the stores can't stop you from looking smart.