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The Gap [Jump]
Armani Exchange [Jump]
Banana Republic [Jump]
Ann Taylor [Jump]
BCBG [Jump]

Written and illustrated by Kathryn Martinez
Hello Fashion Finders! I must confess that the selections out in stores this month are rather bland and pretty uniformed, with many stores putting out their labeled variation of similar items. But I do love a challenge, the thrill of the fight, rising up to the challenge of the seemingly insurmountable!…sorry. Anyway, I put my eye of the tiger into hyper search mode, and from that hyper search, have enlisted a few good items for your perusal. So, check them out.
The Gap
Now that everyone has parodied those TV ads with the super-void models, the Gap's new print ad campaign shows happier models posed in various not-so-mellow-yellow states of winter-frolicking fun, but in a studio background void of scenery or color. Color is instead concentrated on their plain clothes, which I fear fail to give them life, and instead proves that even color can be exploited.
And so, I bypassed all the v-necks and bubble vests, and discovered that they are offering a few pretty good coats, including this waist-length leather jacket in antiqued black leather. It looks a little bit beat up, making it seem like you've just been in a bit of a rumble, Outsiders style! Do it for Johnny, Ponyboy! $175.00.
Secondly, we have a revamped wool Navy pea coat, in navy of course. It stops at mid thigh, is made of 73%-recycled wool (which is a rather refreshing thing to find on a label, let alone a label at the GAP), 22% nylon, and 5% "other," which kind of raises a few questions, but we'll let it slide. Anyway, it fits well, is heavy-duty enough to use when it gets super cold, and costs $118.00. Also comes in gray.
The last outerwear Gap pick is this two-tone wool/nylon short coat with a hood. The outer part is charcoal gray, the inner part light gray, which shows on the hood when you're not wearing it. It's a pretty boxy cut, allowing for layer build up in the colder months. $59.50.
Next we have a cotton white-collared shirt with buttons that end halfway down the front. I think this shirt also has good layering potential for the colder days. Plus there are nifty strings to tie at the cuffs, and who can resist nifty strings? $38.00.

Basic, black, boot cut pants have been a part of the same silhouette template we've all known and worn for the last 4 or 5 years. Enter these weird, sort of 80's looking faded brown, boot cut stretch cotton pants, which I think are a nice departure, and look interesting with a lot of the greens out this season. $48.00. (They are also available in two kinds of grays: charcoal or light gray, and also beige, the other established "new blacks.")




Armani Exchange
Armani Exchange is a store that I personally have never frequented, but thanks to that sophisticated Armani touch, I found it to offer slightly tamed versions of the latest trends, just enough to keep them "up to date."

The first item, a Merino wool turtleneck sweater, is very soft, very light and very thin in pale gray-blue. It's got delicate snowflake shaped holes at the collar, the bottom edges, and the sleeves. $88.00.

Next, is a gray wool hat with a cutout patterned  rim. I noticed that these cutouts are found on many wool items in a variety of the stores (see BCBG suit below). They remind me of playing with hole-punchers when I was young, trying to punch a hole into everything in sight, but I never thought to do it on clothes! $38.00.







Now, to the merino wool sweater in army green, a very nice color for fall/winter. Somehow, this green seems less army-inspired and more nature- inspired. Anyway, the sweater's got gray and brown stripes that run along the v-neck collar and merge down the front. Also comes in gray. $98.00.


The sheer gray silk skirt seems like a summer/spring item, because of its blue satin underlayer. However, the fuzzy hot pink mohair trim that ices the hem brings a snow queen element to it, making it winter-worthy. But be forewarned, if paired with too flashy a top I fear this may be something the nutty aunt on Sabrina the Teenage Witch might fancy (not that I openly admit to watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch!). $79.00.
The final item from A/X is their gray wool/nylon top with three-quarter-length sleeves. There are also dark gray elastic panels at the cuffs and back that graphically contrast in texture and tonality with knitted fabric. A striking specimen of a top if I ever saw one. $59.00.
Banana Republic




There are so many T-shirts out at Banana Republic. I could count T-shirts instead of sheep on sleepless nights! One stone T-shirt, two stone T-shirts, three stone T-shirts.… However, from the herd, a couple did manage to seduce my eye. The first is this one, which has three-quarter-length sleeves and comes in pale yellow, pale ice blue, pale pink, white, and black. $22.00.

And here's a  mid-calf-length skirt, on sale for $49.99. A great late-summer-to-fall transition piece, I think. Just add thick tights and boots. The skirt zips in the back, it's made of cotton/lycra/spandex, and comes in gray, black, or stone.

The other winner in my personal BR T-shirt contest is this long-sleeved, crew neck T with stitching showing down the middle. Comes in a yellow/brown heather, a reddish-brown, white, black, gray, and a pale blue-gray, and costs $16.99.
I also spotted this heather-brown quilted cotton top. Now I've seen this quilt thing not translate well into skirts, but as a top, the bulky comfort idea works well. It's like being wrapped up in your blankie all day. $58.00.
I am dedicating the last of the BR picks to a very neglected body part, our feet. These cutie ped-socks are made of a cashmere blend. And believe me, your feet CAN feel the difference! Available in black, gray, and a lavender-gray. $15.00.
Ann Taylor
Ann Taylor is continuing to offer strong user-friendly pieces including this cashmere turtleneck sweater that is so soft and supple, you just want to live in it. Available in black, charcoal gray, and a very nice pale yellow-green. $98.00.

Next is this scarf with velvet panels of gray, red, and black, or of blue, purple, and black. Artfully done and adds beautiful texture to any outfit. $68.00.

Now we're up to Ann Taylor's wool/nylon sweater in charcoal gray with a boat neck. The material is rather thin and has intricate designs incorporated into the knitting, giving the sweater a sort of spider-spun feeling to it. $78.00.
As you all know, I am a fan of Ann Taylor accessories, and I couldn't pass by this long leather bag of theirs. It's very deep, so you can feel safe that your papers and folders won't get squished inside. It comes in black and a lovely red. $128.00.
Lastly, I found these half-moon-shaped earrings in silver. They're small, have a clean design, but still retain an organic element. $25.00.
My final stop on the hunt for the finds was at BCBG, which has gained popularity during the last few years due to their ability to translate the designs and luxury of ultra expensive lines into a tad less exclusive, and perhaps more tangible interpretations.
A prime example of which is this short wool/polyester suit. The jacket is cut well: fitted and cropped, $182.00, and the skirt is short, $114.  A fresh looking silhouette for suits after all the knee length, minimalist suits of the past few seasons.
I love this olive green wool/poly blend suit! It's got silver thread stitched onto the lower halves of the jacket and the skirt, and contrasts so well with the raw-edge hems. And if that's not enough, it's also got smatterings of tiny cutout holes throughout the bodice of the jacket. Jacket, $274, skirt, $178.
Following the BCBG theory of translation of high end labels into accessible interpretations, is this pair of flat Mary Janes.  After two seasons of reworking them, BCBG now has them at the soft-ballet-shoe stage. This slip on pair are boxier, with a squarer toe, and the strap is closer to the toes, changing the proportion of the foot altogether. I find this shoe much more flattering for the leg than a lot of other flats, plus there are little red rhinestones at the ends of the straps. What more could you want in a shoe? Available in red or black, $110.00.
And there you have them. Enjoy! Whew! Meanwhile, I will rest up for next month's Top 5, as my eye of the tiger is weary…four stone T-shirts, five stone T-shirts…ZZZZZZZZZZZ.


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