Cheryl Shops...Upstate
Due to last-minute change of plans (and the fact that we were out of town nearly every weekend this summer), MW and I decided to spend our Labor Day weekend shopping. (Yes, it was even MW's idea.) Saturday we headed up to Woodbury Commons, one of my favorite places in the world to bargain-shop. I started out with a bang, scoring a gorgeous bra at La Perla for 70% off and a two-tone velvet short-sleeved blazer by Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent (yep, the same one Jessica Simpson has) at Last Call Neiman Marcus for $70. Then I hit a dry spell. BCBG, Gucci, and Theory were all out of control. Space (Prada and Miu Miu), Dolce & Gabbana, and Barneys were still too expensive; Chanel, as usual, had very little merchandise (how does this store stay open?). The store that used to have Celine, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, and other various LVMH brands now just has Celine and Pucci (all of which is still not marked down enough). New additions (since the last time I've been there, at least) include a Michael Kors store, a Sean John, and, coming soon, a Juicy Couture. Also new to me was the American Apparel; as you all know, I'm a huge proponent of American Apparel (well, for the fact that they provide a fair wage and good benefits for their workers, not for the fact that owner Dov Charney is currently being sued for sexual harassment by several former employees). The stock at the outlet is irregular or flawed, and while I saw a bunch of tees with holes in them, I scored five tanks and tees for a sweet $30. Finally, MW and I hit the Gap outlet on a whim; surprisingly, MW scored a pair of his favorite-style jeans for $19 and I got three pairs of work-friendly pants for $70 (all were from last fall's stellar collection, which I liked but which obviously didn't sell too well). Exhausted and in a shopping daze, we headed to our hotel...which was conveniently located next to a Target.

The front-desk lady at our hotel recommended we hit the Palisades Center, down the highway, for dinner. We took a trip down nostalgia lane and ate at the Cheesecake Factory (which was my favorite restaurant when I was in high school), which, let me tell you, is quite the hotspot. So while we were waiting for our table, I checked out the mall, which I had never heard of and which is freakin' huge--in addition to regular mall stores (Lord & Taylor, the Gap, the Body Shop, etc.), there's a Home Depot, a Target, a BJ's Wholesale Club, a Barnes & Noble, a movie theatre, and countless restaurants...and a roller coaster, a carousel, and a ferris wheel. So, of course, we had to go back on Sunday when all the stores were open. MW sat in the food court and conducted his nearly three-hour fantasy football draft, and I shopped. My observations:

1) NYC needs an all-purpose crafts store. I spent nearly an hour in Joann Etc. (a craftier version of Joann Fabrics) and scored cool, cotton/wool blend yarn for a ridiculous $5 a skein (it would be twice that at a yarn store in Manhattan).

2) I am way too old--in mind and in body--to shop at Hollister. Abercrombie & Fitch, on the other hand, had really cute stuff and pants that would accommodate my thighs.

3) Most of the stores at the Palisades Center cater to teenagers--trendy (Forever 21, Rampage), preppy (Hollister, the Gap), or trash-tastic (Wet Seal, Rave). Refreshingly, there are several teen-oriented plus-size shops.

4) I hate all the little carts all over the place, and the people who work there are obnoxious. Really, I am happy with my cell phone provider. So leave me alone and let me shop in peace.

5) I hit Forth & Towne, the new division of Gap Inc. geared toward older women. It's a lot like Banana Republic price-wise , but more classic and traditional style-wise--in fact, I felt like I was in Ann Taylor at times. We're talking "classic-rise" trousers, here. The accessories are nice, though. And I'm sure it will be a hit with the over-35 demographic being targeted. But for me, I'll be sticking with the Gap.

6) Speaking of the Gap, I got a cute pair of trouser-style jeans for $20. This being my fourth pair of Gap pants of the weekend, I've come to the conclusion that Gap pants fit me extremely well. Gap, please don't change your fit model. Thanks.

So that was my weekend of shopping (tax-free, I might add) upstate. But I'm glad to be back in the city so I can start shopping for fall. Speaking of which, I'm already hard at work on the Cheryl Shops Fall Shopping Guide, so look for it sometime in the next two weeks. (Next week is New York Fashion Week, which is going to take up a bit of my time.) Ah, the weather is cooling down, and soon it'll be time to bust out the wool and cashmere. Hayfever aside, fall is, to me, the most wonderful time of the year.

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