Friday, December 22, 2006

Buy Curious: What to Wear to the Party, Plus, Buy Clueless

Fri, Dec 22, 2006 at 3:25 PM

'Tis the season for holiday parties. This week, Buy Curious scoured the East Bay on a quest to find the perfect party outfit. Check out the smashing head-to-toe look we put together at Anthropologie, the simple gold-embellished showstopper we slipped into at Jeremy's, and the casual-cool look from month-old Red Bird Outlet. Also, we're proud to introduce our first installment of Buy Clueless, the shopping advice column you've been craving. Consider it our holiday gift to you � and ask away!

PROWLING FOR THAT PERFECT HOLIDAY OUTFIT ... First stop: Anthropologie. A more-massive-than-ever sale is underway at the Fourth Street store, and we found it nearly impossible not to stop en route to holiday outfit bliss to snap up a set of color-splashed $1.99 dishes (originally $14) and festive woolly hats. Endearing sales associate Allison helped us choose this flouncy, sophisticated ensemble. We loved that it was something we'd never have picked out ourselves. Allison added a gold necklace, matching earrings and ballet flats and taa-daa � Tres chic!

    Cream and blue dress with velvet sash, Coven, $288 Sparkly crocheted mini shrug, Moth, $98 Pale gold ballet flats with bow, SF/NY, $148 Gold and crystal earrings, $59 Matching necklace $68

Where: Anthropologie, 750 Hearst Ave., Berkeley, 510-486-0705

Next up: Jeremy's. Crammed with designer leftovers from previous seasons and salvaged items with minor cosmetic flaws, this Elmwood store can be pretty hit or miss. But we definitely hit the jackpot with this smashing but simple Tory Burch dress embellished with gold pailettes at the neck and waist. It was missing one disk in the front, but other shoppers assured us we could easily rock the look anyway. (It's all about confidence!) What do you think? P.S. The store is currently having a big sale. Get there before the weekend madness!

    Navy wool dress, Tory Burch, $59 (orig. $325)

Where: Jeremy's, 2967 College Ave., Berkeley, (510) 849-0701

Red Bird Outlet. En route to Red Bird, one of the best upscale boutiques around, we tripped across its new outlet store, which is housed in the same block. We couldn't resist a peek at the roomy shop stocked with killer shoes, Ghost slip dresses, gorgeous tops galore, and ultra-comfortable cashmere James Perse sweatpants � all at about half off or more. For a low-key holiday look, we added a sparkly red tank, a crushed velvet coat, and four-inch platforms to our favorite pair of straight-legged jeans.

    House of Moy� black swingy coat $144 (orig. $360) Chan Luu red sequin sheer tank top $70 (orig. $175) Elisa Ferrari distressed gold platform shoes $238 (orig. $595)

Where: Red Bird Outlet, 2918 Domingo Ave., Berkeley, 510-848-5530

NEED HELP? INTRODUCING BUY CLUELESS Has a shopping or style quandary been eating away at you for months? Mere minutes? Whatever the case, it's time to end your agony. Starting this week, Buy Curious will tackle your fashion dilemmas in Buy Clueless, the East Bay's first online fashion advice column. One of us is a diehard shopper with a keen sense of style and a penchant for listening to metal. The other is a former fashion magazine editor who majored in psych back in the day. Advice is free, but following it may require forking over some cash. Send your query to buycurious@eastbayexpress.com.

Dear Buy Curious, Perhaps you can help me. My wife's birthday is in early January, and I'm trying to decide what to give her. Let me just come out and ask what I'm really wondering about: If I treat her well at Christmas, I don't really need to do much for her birthday, do I? Dinner and a card should do it, right? My new car payment is messing with the budget. Loving But Cheap

Dear Cheap, No dice. Because one of us blows out birthday candles mercilessly close to Christmas, we can tell you straight up that dinner and a card won't do it. If your wife's birthday were in April, would you still be trying to screw her out of a proper show of your affection? (Don't answer that. Just get in your new car, and go shopping.)

You're lucky that she's a practical Capricorn because that means she's not the type of woman to want � much less expect � the moon. According to one top, uh, authority your best bet is to give her something career-related, like a "sleek business card holder," or an experiential gift like ballroom dance lessons. Another online expert suggests that, "The rule with Capricorn gifts is: If it worked last time choose the same or similar present again this time. You see, Capricorns are sticklers for routine and won't be at all offended if they get socks every year." If you do go for the socks, though, make sure they're unique and durable. (For the perfect pair, book a cheap flight to Japan, where the number of sock shops inexplicably outnumbers the number of sushi joints three to one. Better yet, bring her along and forget the socks altogether.)

Finally, if you do wind up doing the card and dinner thing, be sure the card is homemade and the dinner is not.

XO, Buy Curious

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