Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Fashion Snob's Dilemma

I'm a snob. I freely admit it.

This is not a new phenomenon. Ask my mom -- I have ALWAYS been a snob. I'm a snob about just about everything. I refuse to eat fast food. I have never watched "America's Got Talent." Don't even get me started on my beer & bourbon prejudices...

And yes, I am a snob about fashion.
Quelle surprise.

There are certain labels I cruise past without a second look in a store because I just do not want to support them, or worse yet, be forced to admit I'm wearing them if someone asks, no matter how attractive the item in question. (And no, I don't think I could get away with, "I do not recall." That may work for certain high governmental officials, but none of Style Spy's friends would buy it. They know I can recite the label, place of purchase, and cost -- the Fashionista's equivalent of name, rank, and serial number -- of every single garment I own. With the fiber content thrown in for good measure.)

One of those labels, like it or not, is "Jessica Simpson." There's a multitude of reasons for this, not least being I really don't love celebrity "designer" labels when I know full well said celebrity has nothing to do with the actual design. So typically I just swan past the Jessica Simpson shoes that are usually simply variations on knock-offs of Louboutins, anyway. But today I bumped into this:

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(click for link)

while looking at coats on the internets. (Yes, it's 90+ degrees here and I'm looking at coats, but that's a discussion for another day.)

What a pretty coat that is. It's so feminine and vaguely retro with that nice big collar and the nipped-in waist leading to a lovely swingy a-line.

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Nice trapunto detailing on the belt, and even the buckle is attractive. The fabric is a wool-poly-cashmere blend (only 10% cashmere, but still, every little bit helps). I've never seen a Jessica Simpson coat up close to know what kind of quality we're talking about, but the thing is on sale for $160, which is awfully reasonable for a winter coat. I have a bit of a quibble about the sizing, which ranges from XS to XL. I do not believe tailored clothing should be sized S-M-L, I think it should be numerically sized (8-10-12). S-M-L is for sweaters and athletic clothes. But it's more expensive to create garments in specific sizes, so many companies these days are copping out and taking the cheap & easy route. (And given the WILD disparity in numerical sizing among clothing labels these days, numbers are of increasingly limited usefulness themselves, aren't they? I mean, do we really think a Gap 8 is the same as a Theory 8 is the same as a Carolina Herrera 8? Ummm, no. But again, discussion for another day.)

So. The Fashion Snob's Dilemma: what is a Fashionista to do when she encounters the lovely item from the label she disapproves of? Does she swallow her Fashionista pride? Or does she cling steadfastly to her sartorial principals? What say you?

In the interest of full disclosure, the above coat is not actually on the menu for Style Spy, who is still quite deliriously happy with the winter coat she bought last year:

(It's so soft that you can actually see the softness, can't you? Sometimes I just crawl into the closet and stroke it. Which is not weird at all.)

Which coat is a gorgeous, gorgeous butter-soft camel Italian wool full-length single-button wrap number from Adrienne Vittadini. (It went to Paris in February and kept me soooooo warm, not to mention flaring out at the bottom in a hopelessly chic way as I strode across the Pont Neuf.) Living where I do, I'm not called upon to wear a winter coat all that often and once I buy one, it's good for several years. But I love coats and like looking at them and since others in the world need coats, it's my responsibility to do the research!

So: thoughts on the Fashion Snob's Dilemma? How do you handle it? Are there any labels you absolutely refuse to wear, and why? Style Spy wants to know!

Photos:, Style Spy

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Unknown said...

Ok, first, I have to agree. I have walked by the shiny-cheap-sparkly Jessica Simpson shoe display god knows how many times, because I just don't want to be the kind of person that wears Jessica Simpson shoes.

But. I am not going to be buying those Prada boots (They were prada, weren't they? Those little red patent ones that you liked that you couldn't find in red?). I'm just not going to spend that much money on a pair of boots. And last night while cruising the Nordstrom's website, I found myself looking at the Jessica Simpson copies in cobalt blue, and . . . considering. They're obviously one-season-only shoes anway. But damn, Jessica Simpson. Blech! And yet, they're blue. I am torn.

Second, OMG Adrienne Vittadini!! I am SO SAD that the line was subsumed into Brooks Brothers!! Every single piece of clothing I'm wearing today is from Adrienne Vittadini's F/W 2006 collection. Her clothes were, on the whole, so well cut and there was a lovely coherency about the collections that ran from season to season. Brooks Brothers, even though they hired many of the AV designers, just isn't any fun, and it isn't fashionable (except when you need a timeless suit in italian wool and are willing to pay the extra 15% in alteration fees to actually make it fit a *woman*), and GOD, they're just like Ralph Lauren, selling the exact same three suits season after season. I despair! And I don't know where I'm going to buy clothes now -- because fighting it out in the mall? Too exhausting. I want to go to one store - a smallish one - and buy everything there. Meh!

Anyway, back to your question. I think that it's occasionally permissible to buy something from a crappy line. I mean, even a broken clock is right twice a day. It keeps you mentally-flexible, if nothing else.

But I'm still debating over whether to buy those blue boots. *G*

Anonymous said...

Oh I agree 100 per I am a snob , I have only been to a store like walmart maybe 4 times in my life. I shop the labels that you do, if I see it in a mag or on fashion show I may buy it. Marc Jacobs is my fave. for autumn a few Canadian designer like Hillary Radley for coats and jackets. And to Viverras I find all Adrienne Vittadini always suits me. I was married in Chanel suit ,Carry a Chanel bag and Hermes. I have issues with shoes with a narrow ,high arch size 5.5 or 34, foot most high end ones are too big so I must have a perfect shoe so in desperation I wear sandals and boots. If you have last years Sept Vogue , look on the back page , yes I bought those fantastic boots. So I guess I buy many labels according to what suits me. I am only 5' tall and that is tricky. I need good clothing for confidence , is this the same with others?IMHO the hollywood stars are the worst dressed people,and know nothing about good fashion just showing off their bodies so never would I buy a label done by JSimpson.Very good question Aim k

r r s said...

As far as celebrity lines go, I don't have a problem with Jessica Simpson stuff because I expect it to be cheap, trendy, knock-offs. What I DO have a problem with is Gwen Stefani's LAMB line. Just about everything I've seen from the brand is overadorned or has "LAMB" in some incredibly conspicuous place. Yuck. And, I kinda feel like celebrity brands SHOULD be cheap.

Poochie said...

Oh Style Spy, I feel your pain. I've been there myself. I was actually going to write about the exact same thing (you beat me to the punch, you psychic!) because I debated about some Simpson shoes. I liked the style and color and they actually fit. But the shame - they are Jessica Simpson shoes. What to do, what to do?

In the end, I liked them too much, so I bought them. I just don't offer up who the "maker" is.

But I absolutely will NOT buy any Paris Hilton shoes. I do have some standards!


Christina Hughes said...

If you like it and can rock it (and it fits and is well made) I don't see why buying a normally un-supportable label is so bad.Your friends may know, but just swear them into a secret pact once you rip out the label. Of course I make or thrift most of my clothes, so I don't know how much my advice is worth.

Anonymous said...

I saw this coat as well and I'm debating buying it. I think it's really cute and as much as I don't want to support JS I am very tempted by it. I went online to see if I could find comments about it anywhere and that is how I stumbled across your page. Did you buy it? Did you like it? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

OMG! I can't believe someone else is having the same crisis of conscience as I am! I saw this coat in Macy's last weekend, tried it on w/o looking at the label and cringed in horror when I realized that it was Jessica Simpson. I'm not stuck on designer clothing per se, but I despise "celebrity" anything and it goes against the fiber of my very being to enrich the coffers of a woman that intentionally plays dumb. The only problem is that the coat fit like a dream and is absolutely fabulous! I tried to be strong but I must breakdown and buy it this weekend.