Saturday, July 30, 2011

Labels...or No Labels - and A Long Weekend!

I don't think of myself as a "label whore." To clarify what I mean by that, I usually won't buy something just for the label or brand alone. When I shop I look for quality, and quality can be found in nearly every store, and at every price point. A "name" label doesn't guarantee quality of manufacture (whether of the materials or the ethics behind the manufacturing).

However, I have learned over many years (nay, decades!) of shopping that sometimes a name brand can be a good shortcut to quality. For example, I love finding second-hand Club Monaco* clothing because I know that a) the company is Canadian b) many of the pieces are made in Canada and c) they use high-end materials and pay attention to detail when the garments are made. No seam on a Club Monaco item I've owned has ever come undone; no hems have ever unravelled and no piece has ever shrunk funny when I've washed it.

When I shop in thrift stores, I know that if I spot a clothing item with a label on it that I trust, that piece of clothing is going to be a good investment.

I will admit, though, that sometimes seeing a "name" label at a cheap price just sends a shiver down my spine! Could it be a score?

*I have no affiliation with Club Monaco, receive no compensation from them and only mention them because I like their company and product.

Thursday - It Must Be Ralph

I found this dress by hand; meaning, I was scanning the racks at a consignment score and the colour caught my eye...and then the fabric caught my hand!
This dress is a rough-knit silk jersey. It almost feels like burlap, except that it's silk so it's soft and not scratchy. It was $28.00. It's a bit on the long side, but I'm envisioning it with some boots and a sweater in the cold weather.

Vizzini looks ready to attach my legs.

Isn't the colour rich? I am in love with this olive green right now.

Speaking of labels...
I see by their website that Lauren by Ralph Lauren sells for about $130-160, so I think I got a good deal. I've bought RL before and have liked the quality.

I was perplexed about the size at first: 1X because the dress (although a little large) actually fits me pretty good. Then I noticed that it had been professionally altered: it's been taken in by about 2 inches on each side of the top.
The shoes are my Fergalicious ones that I found at the Bay last year (last seen here).

My belt is a cheap one; not leather, but I like the style and it's nice and soft. The cuff was handmade from a local designer and artist.

I like to mix in some vintage:
My Grandma J's leaf necklace. I love wearing it. I actually forgot to pack earrings with this outfit - my lobes felt naked all day!

Now, this isn't normally "that" sort of blog, but I had to show my vintage slip:
I got this in a thrift store for $12.95. I love vintage slips. They are usually nylon, easy to wash and are beautifully tailored. This one kept me nice and snug in my freezing office all day, even though my arms were bare.

Dress (Lauren by Ralph Lauren, consignment), cami (Plum), slip (vintage, thrifted), belt (Le Chateau), cuff (SkinznHydz), necklace (Trifari, vintage 50s, Grandma J).

Friday - Sucked in by a Label

I have to admit, when I pulled this top off the rack, it was because I saw the label first:
The only Chanel I have ever owned was a bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume that my ex bought me. I used it to keep Othello from scratching our couches (it didn't work, but our house smelled nice!).

I tried the blouse on because of that label, and I liked how the blouse looked:
Vizzini was actually going under my skirt. He then proceed to try to climb my bare leg. What a devil!

The blouse was $25.00, which is not too bad. But would I still have bought the blouse without that Chanel label? I don't know...I might have hesitated. It was probably the deciding point on buying it. Does that make me a label whore? Do I care? Ha!

Seriously, I do think this is a lovely blouse. I love the blush pink colour, and the wrinkly fabric reminds me of overblown poppies. I also like that it shows off my tattoo a bit at the back:
All of the black lines on the top are elastic: the three at the waist and the one around the neckline (the neckline pulls down to an off-the-shoulder look which I am going to do at some point, just maybe not for a Casual Friday at work!).

I wanted to counter all that ruffliness with something bold so I went with my dark denim mermaid skirt (last seen here). I also wore my little short cowboy booties (these ones) which I'd sort of forgotten about.

I had to cover up for work so I donned my trust boyfriend blazer:
I wore it all day, and it's another example of a brand that I trust when I'm shopping. I met up with L and friends after work for dinner and took it off.

Jacket (Banana Republic, thrifted), blouse (Chanel, consignment), skirt (InWear, consignment), booties (Miz Mooz).

And now it's the weekend...the long weekend! Happy BC Day to my fellow West-coasters and Mainlanders, and happy [insert your province] Day to my other Canadian friends! I took Tues/Wed off this week, so I have some extra days - woo!

Saturday in Black and White

This morning, I went to WW:
This outfit is a good example of finding quality that's not attached to a brand name. I found this top in 2009 and I've only worn it three times, exactly a year ago, here and here. It's a nothing name brand; never seen it before, never heard of it, never seen it since, but it's great quality and it's tailored really nicely.

This is my eyelet skirt that I just got (see here). It has no label at all, as someone removed it prior to dumping it off in a thrift shop. I was attracted to the good quality cotton, the three different patterns of the eyelet and the good cut. I would have bought it regardless of the label, if it had one.

L and I went for lunch today, and since it was sunny (!!) I wore a my thin corduroy jacket over it all: I tend to shy away from Gap items (although not Banana Republic, same company, how hypocritical of me!) because I find a lot of their clothing is not the best quality, but it's interesting that I still have many Gap items in my closet...ha ha. I rarely venture into Gap stores, because I don't like that all their clothes are made in China, although I seem to have no issue with buying them second hand!

Jacket (Gap, consignment), top (I.N. San Francisco, consignment), skirt (no label, thrifted), shoes (Kenneth Cole Reaction, consignment).

How do you feel about labels? Will you buy something just for the brand? Do you only buy certain brands, and if so, why? Has a brand label ever convinced you to buy something even though you might not have if it didn't have that label?

Food for thought...have a happy weekend!


  1. This post is interesting to me for several reasons as I am a tiny bit of a label whore. But I have noticed in the last year that when I am scanning racks with my eye and my hand, I frequently pull out items with a brand on it that says "St. Johns Bay." This is a JCPenney brand, but I simply won't buy it...because I think its cheap, even though time after time, the items pass all my thrift store tests. The Chanel blouse is a lovely find.

  2. That olive dress is lovely. You could always have the hem taken up, or add a longer skirt to make it floor length.

    I would have bought the Chanel top in a heartbeat. It's different enough from most $25 tops I see around that I think it'd be worth the price of uniqueness.

    Growing up, I was very anti-label and loved my thrift stuff. I didn't care where my stuff came from. As I've gotten into blogging and heavily into thrifting again, I'm realizing that labels can often help give you guidance as to, yes, quality and fit. I won't put down an item because it came from F21 or Gap if it's at Goodwill, because I know those companies already got that money, and my money is going to the workers of Goodwill.

    I will definitely lay down the money for quality shoes, and for me that means Brand. I've actually learned my Fluevogs are worlds apart in terms of quality compared to my Louboutins (which are confirmed legit). The Vogs are just sturdier. The fit is a little more wonky, but the brand name means that finding info on fit is easier than a no-name label from China.

    Finally, Design. Brands are created for the sole purpose of selling an idea. I will buy into the quirky fun of All Saints and Fluevog. It's often very creative, nothing like I can find in a retail store (where I live) and for me is well worth it to pay more for those special pieces to mix in with basics and thrifted items.

    So yeah, call me a brand-whore, but I like what I like and if it's a well-known label, I'm okay with that.

  3. I think that for clothes, I don't tend to care TOO much about labels (although I haven't yet ventured into thrifting) if I think the clothes are of good quality. That being said, I'm starting to also see which brands tend to fit well on my body, which is nice.

    In your case, I love both the Lauren dress (SO MUCH - I'm outright covetous), which is also a brand that I like on me. And the Chanel top is beautiful. How could you resist either, label or not? :)

    PS - Vizzini is adorable!

  4. You look good in olive green: the color suits you. And we share affection for vintage slips: not only do I have several but I enjoy wearing them more than anything else. Their silkiness, the way they hug and move over your body... in my opinion, wearing them is one of the nicest pleasures of being a girl.

  5. You look wonderful, as always, in your vintage and modern outfits! I love your LRL dress (I don't trust the size tag!) and that Chanel blouse is gorgeous, truly an outfit-maker. I wrote about labels and thrifting too, and I find that I'm a label-snob for pre-owned clothing. It does give you some level of assurance.

    Hello Vizzini, you little devil!

  6. I definitely shop with my hands when I'm thrifting now - I got my mom a $100 sweater for $3. Win!
    I love that Chanel top - I'm so glad you took a chance on it!!

  7. Since I grew up with homemade clothing and other very-cheap garb, the label issue is a loaded one for me.

    As a teenager in the '80's, there was huge pressure to wear certain labels. And for those who had parents who couldn't or wouldn't purchase these items... life could be difficult.

    Labels became pretty important to me in college, when I actually had money and a car to do my own shopping. I had no hesitation about getting those labels via Goodwill, though!

    At one point, the local Goodwill staff started holding back things they thought I would like, because I was in there all the time!

    At that time, I actually got a lot of guidance from my friend Jamie, who helped me learn which labels were reliable, which ones fit me best, etc.

    I'm still a work in progress.

  8. Interesting! I have brands I know serve me well and others that don't work, but it is usually issues of cut and fit than quality. And yes, there are others I won't wear because I am a snob.

    That Chanel top is wonderful, and would be so even without the label. I also really like the black and white with the turquoise jacket in the last day's outfit. I love crisp looks like that.

  9. Some brands just have better quality. It doesn't make you a brand whore. It makes you an educated shopper!

  10. A very interesting post. I have bought some things because of the label and then been very disappointed. I think the rule of thumb must be the fit first and then the fabric. Although would I have been able to resist a Chanel blouse? No.

  11. Great post and outfits! Some brand-names really guarantee good quality products... If only I could afford them! Ha! Kisses

  12. Great outfits! I don't want to sound like a naysayer but I'm pretty certain that Chanel label is counterfeit. The stitching is so shoddy looking! Chanel wouldn't have crooked C's on their clothing labels, would they? But real or not, it's a very cool top.

  13. I am soooo lovin that Chanel Blouse. But I am a chanel whore. yes. And labels can be a shortcut--but we still need to know what quality is--cuz they cheat.
    oh, and olive green is YOUR color,gf! That dress is tdf!

  14. That Chanel top is lovely!
    Personally, I don't care what the label says as long as the item appeals to me and is well made. But I will admit that thrifting a vintage jacket with a Stanley Korshak label in it (sheesh!-over 30 years ago!) DID set my little teenage heart aflutter. But less because of the name, and more because it was so incredibly well made. I still own and wear that jacket, which is at least 60 years old now.
    A testament to the labels that Stanley Korshak carries! (carried)

  15. Terri, it just makes sense to use labels as a shorthand to find good quality...and it's interesting to find those associations we have with certain labels that aren't actually true! Thanks!

    Megan, yeah, but I'm lazy and I probably won't do that! :) I used to be anti-label as well, but now that I thrift more, I have learned to go by quality alone (although I'm still so tempted by labels!). I agree: I like knowing that my money is going to a good cause, like St. Vincent de Paul or women in need. For shoes, I totally agree! Quality can't be skimped on. I will always pass over Payless brands when I'm thrifting - paying more for quality shoes is worth it!

    C&B, I think the balance is somewhere in the middle. Thank you!

    Ally, thank you! I adore vintage slips - they remind me of my mom and grandmother.

    Patti, thank you!

    Cara, it's the only way to go! I love the Chanel top, although now that I really look at it, I think it's fake. But I still love it!

    'Doll, I hear ya! The teenager/label thing is very loaded - it's all about the name, and not about the quality. I had issues with that back in the day as well (everyone had to have a Daniel Hechter sweatshirt!). That's awesome that your Goodwill did that for you!

    Kristen, they can be a good shortcut. I agree on the top, which is why I bought it, regardless.

    Kim, right on, sister!

    Wendy, thanks!

    Jane, it's a real education, isn't it? It's got be about the fit and quality above all.

    Dimi, ha! Thanks, sweetie!

    Anonymous, I think you are actually correct - the signs are all there. The label is not good quality, and it's sewn on with fishing line! I think it is indeed a fake. Agreed, it's still a cool top! And I will wear my fake with pride!

    Paula, thank you!

    Rita, that's a good rule! I love that little shiver you get when you know you've found a good deal! That's awesome about your jacket!

  16. As you can probably imagine, I am catching up!
    I loved the discussion this subject brought up as there were many interesting comments.
    Personally I WANTED to have labels while in high school or buy things from a CERTAIN store. I guess it was a time in my life when I did not understand that these things do not matter. I thought having Esprit brand and Pepe jeans could make me cooler and popular.
    As I have long passed that stage, if in thrift shops (which is very unusual as there are non here) i look for old items. Old fabrics, polyesters, old smelling garments, metal zippers...
    Also in thrift i search for brand labels, for example last week in Virginia I picked up two thrift items: one Escada blouse and one Marc Jacobs button down.
    I would have picked up the Chanel in a heart beat.
    While in regular stores, I grab what calls my attention and then look at the brand.
    I try it on and then decide. I must admit that if it is a good brand and it has a good prize the odds of me taking it home increase.


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