Thursday, September 13, 2007

Wherein Style Spy Makes Approving Noises and Opens Her Wallet

So today I hied myself to Kohl's to do a little research -- specifically, to check out the new line Vera Wang has done for the low-priced department store, called Simply Vera.

I like Vera Wang's design sensibility quite a bit. When I first heard 7 or 8 years ago that she was going to be showing a regular collection, I was afraid that everything was going to look like a figure skating costume or the ubiquitous strapless a-line wedding dresses she was most famous for. But she's a lot funkier than that. Her color palette is usually subdued, even somber, and she likes to play with shapes and layers. Her clothes aren't typically what you'd call sleek, but they are interesting and look very forgiving and easy to wear, and she obviously has a deep love of wonderful fabric.

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(Spring 2006)

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(Fall 2006)

She's a fan of the bubble skirt, Vera, and so am I. I wish more women would get over their knee-jerk hatred of the bubble skirt and embrace it. It is a friend to the pear-shaped (camouflage) and reedy (creates curves) alike. Yes, we all had a bad taffeta pouf thing that we wore to prom in the 80's. Does that skirt above look like your hideous electric blue Debbie Gibson homage? No, it does not. So again I say -- get over it!

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(Fall 2007)

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(Fall 2006. Pay attention to this dress. There will be a quiz later. )

She definitely has a vibe, if you know what I mean. And I like it. And I've been loving the ads I've seen lately for the line, and was ready to check it out. So how was it?

Readers: I went, I saw, I bought.

I bought this skirt:

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Which I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes my most-worn black skirt
this fall. (And I have a LOT of black skirts. I could wear a different black skirt/white blouse combo for at least a week without repeating.) The fabric is polyester, but it's a nice poly, with a good hand to it, and moves well. And what you can't see in this picture is that while the front of the skirt has all that foompety-foomp going on with those pleats, the back is a completely basic, plain a-line. I like this -- there's no extra fabric in the place where I definitely don't need any extra bulk, but there's still detail & interest in the front.

I also got this:

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Simple tissue-weight layering t-shirt that I'm in love with because the modal/silk blend makes it the softest thing besides Shine's tummy I've touched all day today.

(Unbelievably soft. If only I could make sweaters out of that.)

This t-shirt is the perfect sort of layering item that a gal who lives in a warm place like central Texas can use a bunch. It's nice & long, so it's going to stay tucked in, and it flares out at the bottom so it fits over my hips and doesn't bunch up at my waist. The sleeves are really loooooong, cut narrow, and have pretty high armholes, so you could wear this under anything and it's not going to bulk it up. I'm really digging this t-shirt.

I was tempted by this coat

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which is also available in black and is really, really cute on. It's unlined and doesn't have a fastener besides the belt -- a fall coat, definitely not a winter one if you live in a cool climate, but a really great piece. The website tells me it's no longer available, but there were plenty in the store.

And this dress is really lovely

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(look familiar?)

It's black jersey with a steel-gray silk panel in the front. Very soft, very flowy, very comfy. It could be worn with or without the belt, I think. A note: the website says this is a pull-on dress. It is not -- it has a back zip.

I thought the sizing of the clothes was pretty good -- I think of myself as a fairly medium-sized person and sure enough, the mediums fit me. I got the above skirt in a size 8, although I had to go up a couple of sizes in the pencil skirt that's part of the line, but no surprises there.

Complaints? Well, the color palette wasn't all that I would have loved. It's primarily black, white and and gray, with some muted purple thrown in. There is one blouse in a royal purple that's pretty, but the other purple items are all a very grayed-out version of the color, and those sorts of dusty colors look really awful on me. I would love to have had that t-shirt in a few more colors, and I'm thinking about going back for a white one and possible another black one, but the silver, dusty purple, and oatmeal colors would all be deadly on me. They're showing it in blue on the website, I think I might throw them an order for that. (I'm seriously smitten with that t-shirt, and I'm not one of those people who gets excited about t-shirts.)

Also -- it would be nice to have these things in women's sizes and petites, because the design really is quite nice. (If you are petite, you're going to have to be very careful with this stuff -- most of it is pretty long and has a lot of fabric. You'll run the risk of being overwhelmed by it. I find this a bit ironic, considering how teeny-tiny Ms. Wang is her actual self.) I'm seeing some industry reports online that the sales are actually exceeding expectations, so here's hoping that Kohl's will feel motivated to invest in expanded sizing. (Send 'em a letter! ) And everything is on sale now for 30% off, which will make it move even faster, I suspect.

As for the accessories...

The shoes were pretty good. I was actually kind of taken with these boots

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and there are some really cute flats. Shoes are leather, for the most part, and look nice.

The handbags, on the other hand, are not mostly leather.

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The store I went to had a framed, handled version of this little clutch and the shape of it was absolutely adorable. Unfortunately, it's made of vinyl, and it looks like vinyl, and the plastic of the frame is thin and a little cheap-looking. This bag was leather,though,

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and looked much nicer. It was a great everyday bag with a magnetic closure and the perfect length strap.

There are other accessories in the line -- various scarves & knitted hats & gloves, which are all cute but nothing really noteworthy.

All in all, I think they've done a good job with this stuff. It's not exactly YSL, of course, or Wang's regular line, but for the price point I think you won't be disappointed -- especially while this sale is running. Let me know what you think!


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Anita said...

Thanks for this post and all your informative reporting. I live in the *sticks* but actually pass a Kohl's everyday, so this is all good to know.

The Budget Babe said...

Thank you for the excellent, judicious, and thorough review of Simply Vera. The best I've read so far! In fact, I felt the same way:

Cheers :)