By Nadine Kam
Nadine Kam photos
Among things I brought home from New York were a cropped sequin top from a flea market, a black sequin skirt from Loehmann’s and black sequin vest from H&M. I plan to wear them all together. Just kidding.
Packing for New York was easy. Figuring it would be good to represent Hawaii I brought along six Fighting Eel dresses, a Maggie Coulombe black wrap dress and cocoon wrap from Maggie Coulombe, a wool wrap from Jeanie Chun, Allisonizu denim pencil skirt and shorts, and hand-painted purple fish scale tote/clutch by Hazel Lee, keeping company with other items by Phillip Lim, DVF, Missoni, Rebecca Taylor and jewelry by Marni.
The trip was going to be pricey so I didn’t want to go there and feel like I needed a bunch of clothes, so my aim was to bring things so beautiful I wouldn’t be tempted to go overboard shopping.
Just before I left, though, I was struck by this nagging notion that I should have sequins and pulled from my closet the silver shrug, colorful bolero jacket and black tube top, below, that could be worn with casual basics. It was crazy because I only travel with one small carry-on suitcase and didn’t want to bring anything extraneous. In the end, I just brought the bolero jacket that I had cut down from a thrift-store dress, figuring I could wear it with jeans and a tank top.
I don’t usually wear these things at home because Hawaii sunlight being what it is, you’d end up looking like a disco ball walking down the street. To my delight, sequins were everywhere during Fashion Week, worn on jackets and vests of attendees, as well as on the runways, where touches of silver sparkle were everywhere. On the streets, the black sequins added a touch of gloss to matte black, just the antidote to breathe life into a city palette of neutral gray concrete and cement, as well as cloudy skies. It rained early during the events, and though temperatures averaged about 70 degrees, it did dip to 49 degrees a couple of days.
During Fashion Week, there was little time to shop, or eat, and when it was over, it had been seven days since I’d shopped. The first stop was Century 21, where I didn’t see much. I bought a dress and sweater top that I immediately wanted to return, but never had a chance to go back. After that, it was H&M where I saw fall’s green mini skirt that I absolutely had to have. Only problem was they were out of small sizes. I tried two other H&Ms in SoHo, and finally asked a sales person if there would be anymore. He said the display had already been out two weeks, so they were probably all gone. Two weeks! If there’s a retailer doing well, it’s H&M due to their combination of low prices (mostly $34.95 and under) and more-than-decent quality for the cost.
This is the green skirt that almost got away at H&M. You can dress the model with the Fashion Studio feature at www.hm.com/us. I just used it to also show one of the faux fur vests that were flying out the door; a bit impractical for us in Hawaii.
I also checked out Zara, which was showing heavier winter garb, so that was easy to resist when remembering that I would be coming home to 80- or 90-degree weather.
Sequin layering in a TopShop image.
After that, I tried two more H&Ms on the Upper East Side, thinking there’s probably less traffic there. But no, there were none there either. I was growing desperate because time was running out, so I had a salesperson try calling another store. Just then, a girl was returning a green skirt, which she said fit too tight at a size 10 and there was no way she was going to go up to a size 12. (The sizing of the Euro brand is unforgiving when it comes to American vanity sizing; their 6 is equivalent to our size 0 or 2, and 8 is a 4.) That was too big for me, but I tried it on anyway. I had to hold out for a 6 or 8 and eventually found an 8 in one of three busy Midtown branches, where I also found the small version of the black oversize top with animal pattern in gold sequins, below.
I also came home with this gold sequin top from H&M.
I ended up buying a whole lot of sequins and not much else, though I did find the one thing I wanted to get, a black jacket ($59.95 at H&M.) The two other things I bought were a black dress shirt and purple skirt from Uniqlo. And the last thing I was looking for before leaving was a sequined beret, but I figure I can find that anywhere.
The one piece that got away was a lightweight matte silver retro jacket from Topshop. Where other pieces I found were all less than $40, the jacket was $270. I had to think about it. I’m still thinking about it now that I’m home, and don’t see it online. Bummer. I really like it, but I’m still non-commital. I can’t imagine getting that much wear out of it. I have a partial picture of it below, on the left hanging in the TopShop dressing room while I also tried on a gold scalloped beaded jacket I don’t need. It’s always fun to try on, though.
In the dressing room at Topshop.
It was kind of sad to be going straight from Fashion Week to H&M, but it’s a problem designers and retailers face in the current economic climate. To even it up a bit, I did pay $300 for an Alexander Wang top at Aloha Rag, of all places, and that was due to seeing all the whites and cut-out designs on the runways, and the fact there is nothing similar available this fall, but for the new frugalistas, H&M has the prized combination of style and practicality that makes them hard to beat. Especially when you’re not quite sure you need one more sequined top.