Cheryl Shops Spring Shopping Guide: Bright Stripes

When I first saw Prada's spring/summer 2011 collection last September, my first thought was, "seriously, WTF?" The banana prints, the bright colors, the mixed all seemed just a bit much. The funny thing, though, is that Miuccia Prada is one of the great thinkers in fashion nowadays, and her collections always get the wheels turning in my head--there's a reason I frequently feature Prada as the inspiration for these seasonal shopping guides here on Cheryl Shops. That collection now stands out the most in my mind for spring/summer, and its brightly colored stripes are one of the trends I'm most excited about right now--funny how that happens.

For those of you who like to go straight to the source, there's Prada's Striped Top Handle Tote, which, of many standout bags from this collection, is my favorite. The colors are bright, but could almost function as neutral--they're versatile enough to complement everything from a beige dress to an all-out, head-to-toe hot pink and kelly green colorblock look. It should be noted, however, that in spite of this bag's four-figure price tag, it is, in fact, canvas.

Even though this Clements Ribeiro top walked the runway days before the Prada collection, it shares a mixture of stripes and patterns--was Miuccia conferring with the design community? Regardless, since this top already has a lot going on, it almost begs to be paired with a printed skirt, or something equally off-kilter.

Another look that walked the London runways days before Prada's show is this quirky Mirror Dress by Louise Gray. It's a good piece to wear if you want to make a statement, but don't want to go through the hassle of coordinating separates. This one is also a bit fancier--instead of overlaid prints, it's embellished with mirrored appliqu├ęs.

Marc by Marc Jacobs' Simone dress marries the bright-striped trend with the '70s look that's so popular (again) for spring. This is an easy way to wear the trend--it's pretty and breezy--without looking too fashion-victimy. After all, who doesn't love a sundress?

Kate Spade's Betty dress is equally easy to wear, but with an even more polished, pretty look. Granted, Prada is ladylike too, but this is much more approachable. Even if you work somewhere conservative like a law firm, you could wear this to work under a jacket, or on its own on the weekend. It just goes to show how many ways a trend can be interpreted.

This Jason Wu sweater reminds me a bit of the Prada bag above, and while it might not be super-bright, I think it would look awesome with a bright pink, purple, or green skirt. It's also a great transitional piece between seasons--I'd think you'd be able to wear it in all but the hottest summer (and coldest winter) temperatures.

If you're not sure this trend is for you, there's always what I call throwaway fashion, like this inexpensive Cooperative Monaco skirt from Urban Outfitters. It comes in a neutral navy and white version, but I like the green mixture--it's definitely springlike. Again, I'd suggest wearing this with something crazy on top, like bright orange or pink, but there's always a simple tee too.

In fact, you could pair it with Topshops's striped tank, which, as far as this trend goes, is pretty basic, and thus a good layering piece. I'd wear mine with bright skirts, but if you're feeling crazy, why not wear it with a patterned skirt or pants as well?

What the above tank would really look cool with, however is this Balloon Maxi Skirt from ASOS. While not, admittedly, an easy shape to wear, it manages to be unique but with a relaxed, summery vibe--I have a feeling I'm going to live in this skirt all season long. Miuccia would be proud.

Sample Sale of the Week: Zero Maria Cornejo

The very first time I went into Maria Cornejo's old store on Mott Street, the designer herself was working the sales floor, and as I shopped, she asked my opinion on everything--an experience that was equally engaging and intimidating. I find her clothes tiptoe the line between soft and hard, minimal and intricate, pretty and almost unwearable, and it's that delicate balance that makes them so exciting and coveted. (Did I say any of this? No. It was more like, "Oh, I like it!") In the grand scheme of things, Cornejo's clothes are still somewhat reasonably priced, but her one-day-only sample sale is a great opportunity to stock up on statement-making pieces that you'll wear forever. She's teaming up with Repetto shoes, and prices are up to 80% off, with 10 years' worth of archive samples starting at $50. 4/28; 11-5; 84 Wooster St. (Spring & Broome Sts.), 6th fl.

TheFind Guest Post: Long Feather Earrings Are Taking Jewelry By Storm!

Despite the fact that I have multiple piercings in my ear (four in each lobe), I'm surprisingly not as adventurous as I could be when it comes to earrings. In fact, I usually stick to simple white gold studs or silver hoops -- maybe switching out the earrings in the front with fancier danglier and chandelier styles when an especially nice occasion comes along, or my outfit is in desperate need of accessorizing. So typically a somewhat out-there trend like long feather chain earrings isn't something that would normally suit my fancy, but somehow I'm intrigued! Feather-adorned accessories have been gradually resurfacing over the past handful of years, but often get written off as too earthy or too funky, but now feather earrings are going gung-ho with super long styles, some braided with shimmering chains or beads. Because of their length, they even double as hair accessories as they intertwine with long wavy locks for a cool woman-of-the-wild effect. Take a cue from all the trend-setters at Coachella and rock feather earrings for an, organic, boho-chic flavor this summer!

Pictured above: Lady Amherst Pheasant Moon Earrings, Urban Outfitters Cascading Feather Earring, Gilded Lily Goods Green Feather Bullet Earrings, ALDO Shulz Earrings, and Arden B. Linear Bead and Feather Earrings.

- Alex Gambardella

Content provided by TheFind in partnership with Cheryl Shops.

In These Shoes: Diane von Furstenberg Eva Sandals

Maybe it's because this winter seemed unusually cold and long, but is it me, or is spring taking its sweet time getting here? I know April showers bring May flowers and all that, but I've certainly had more than enough of this 50-degrees-and-rainy weather. I switched my closet to spring/summer last weekend, so my sweaters and tights are packed away, which has left me with lots of filmy dresses and bare sandals...and not the right conditions in which to wear them. So when I heard the temperature was going to hit 70 degrees today, out came my new striped miniskirt and my trusty platform sandals...and, of course, I was freezing until about 4 p.m. this afternoon, when the sun finally came out, but you know what? It was worth it. I may prefer winter clothes--fur, cashmere, flannel, oh my--but when it comes to footwear, there's nothing better than summer shoes: open toed, brightly colored, embellished, high-heeled, the whole nine yards--shoes like this delicious Eva sandal, a style featured on Diane von Furstenberg's tour de force spring/summer 2011 runway. While it comes in practical neutrals, the lime-green citron color is more fun, and definitely more springlike. I adore the oversize side bow--it's feminine and pretty, and after months of shapeless puffer coats and snow boots, who doesn't want to feel like a lady? The challenge, of course, is picking a non-rainy day on which to wear them (they're suede), but May is just around the corner, isn't it?

Sample Sale of the Week: Earnest Sewn

It seems nearly every week there's a new premium denim label on the scene, and while I'm always up for trying something new (especially if it promises an amazing fit), there's one denim house that I keep coming back to: Earnest Sewn. Their Harlan is my favorite skinny (although it's actually more like a cigarette), their Decca straight-leg is my all-time favorite fit, and while so far I've been striking out with flare-leg jeans, I have a feeling their Lau might be the winner. So I plan to head over to their sample sale, where, Sample Sally reports, women's jeans are $60 (2 for $50), samples are $40, and damaged jeans are $30. Earnest. Through 4/24; 10-8; 821 Washington St. (Gansevoort & Little West 12th Sts.), 2nd fl.

TheFind Guest Post: Butter London Spring/Summer 2011 Collection: Pretty And Punchy Polishes!

As a girl with sad, brittle nails, it's not often that my tips are in tip-top shape... or even long enough to justify polishing them. But those rare times when they are lookin' good, I instantly become polish-obsessed! Nearly every day I'll end up switching up whatever shade I'm currently rocking -- from dark merlot and glittery gold to bright lemon yellow and even glossy nude -- I'm a sucker for new shades! That's why I can really appreciate a nail polish collection that's cohesive yet still packs an impressive variety of shades. Take Butter London's Spring/Summer 2011 collection, for example. While you wouldn't expect a powdery gray-blue (Lady Muck), gold-tinged green apple (Dosh), cobalt blue (Blagger), and pale pinks (Hen Party and Teddy Girl) to belong in the same color story at all, it somehow manages to work. It's punchy and bright but balanced with cool neutrals for an overall look that's reminiscent of your typical unpredictable April spring day - sunny then rainy, cloudy but vibrant! It's the perfect cure for polish addicts who love to switch it up!

- Alex Gambardella

MasstigeWatch: Calypso for Target, Uniqlo & more

The Calypso for Target collection is due in stores May 1st, and since that's nearly two weeks away, Target has released a lookbook featuring images of the entire collection--women's clothing and accessories, girls' clothes, and home items. There's a definite bohemian vibe, with strong tie-dye and elephant motifs running throughout. Fans of Calypso should be pretty happy, particularly if you love maxi dresses and ruffles; there are also some very summery woven tote bags and lovely beach hats. Clothingwise, my favorite item is this $36.99 dress, which I intend to wear as a swimsuit cover-up (I am incredibly in need of a new one); really, I'm the most enthralled with the home items, like the $59.99 pouf, a similar version of which Calypso Home sells for--I kid you not--$3,000. Prices range from $1.99-$79.99, and according to Racked, which has the full lookbook posted, quality is pretty high. Let's hear it for masstige!

Last week Uniqlo announced its upcoming three-part Designer Invitation Project [subscription required]. It kicks off with the return of Costello Tagliapietra next week on April 21, Charlotte Ronson arrives on May 5, and Vena Cava follows on May 12. Supposedly items will remain in stores until May 21; I have a feeling they'll sell out long before then, especially since every piece is just $29.99. The Cut has a full preview of the collection for your shopping-strategy purposes; hands off this Charlotte Ronson design--it's mine.

In shoe news, a reminder that the Swedish Hasbeens collection for H&M hits stores April 20; and always a favorite, the spring Pierre Hardy for Gap shoes are high-heeled, pointy-toed, colorblocked, and totally right up my alley. Fashionista has the scoop; shoes are due in stores mid-April, which means any day now!

If, like me, you're salivating over the Derek Lam for eBay crowd-sourced collection, good news: You can pre-order it now before it technically goes on sale to the public on May 10. And, finally, for the patterned-leggings fans out there, Topshop collaborated with Meadham Kirchoff, a London duo known for flowy, trippy, magpie-ish creations like, well, this. Proceed with caution.


Cheryl Shops with... Linda the Bra Lady

I think it can be safely said that by now we've all seen, or at least heard about, the infamous "Bra Revolution" episode of Oprah, in which it was revealed that 8 out of 10 American women are wearing the wrong size bra. I'm fairly vigilant about getting measured, so I was pretty confident going into my appointment with Linda the Bra Lady today. After attending a mastectomy bra-fitting class years ago, Linda Becker spent 20 years taming the ta-tas of Philadelphia women; five years ago she moved to New York and opened a shop at 828 Lexington Avenue. Her newest store, at 552 3rd Avenue (36th & 37th Sts.), where I had my appointment today, just opened on Saturday. Both locations stock some 250 bra sizes, and if for some reason they don't have yours--and, really, if they don't have it, who will?--they'll special-order it for you. They also sell matching undies and swimsuits in all manner of sizes as well. (Fun fact: her best-selling bikini tops are size 32 G, for "young, thin girls with nice full breasts," says Linda. "They come in and snap them up!") There's a chic waiting room in front, but, really, the magic happens in back.

While some "expert" bra fitters can claim to know your bra size just by looking at you, Linda uses the tape-measure method, which is more precise and results in far fewer returns. She measured around my ribcage, right under my breasts; the rule of thumb is to add 3 inches to that measurement to get the proper band size (4 inches if the number is even). Mine was 29-1/2, which Linda said means usually I'm a 32 but sometimes a 34 in brands like Wacoal, which run small--true on both accounts. Linda eyeballs cup size, and she guessed mine correctly--to preserve my modesty, I won't tell you what it is, but Linda did accurately assess that my right breast is a full cup size bigger than my left. She said because of my, er, unique situation, I should look for stretchy cups to accommodate my shape--non-stretchy cups will gape on the smaller breast and cause the bigger one to spill over. My other fitting challenge is that I have very sloped shoulders, so my bra straps are constantly slipping down; Linda addressed this by bringing me racerback and adjustable-strap styles, neither of which I'd ever tried before. I settled on a style by Chantelle (which happens to be my favorite bra maker), very similar to the above Icone Basic Spacer--the straps can crisscross, but even better for me, I can make them taper in at the back so that they don't slip off my shoulders! So while I was, in fact, wearing the correct size, I was wearing the wrong type of bra, which was just as bad. Problem solved!

As a bonus, Linda peppers her fittings with all manner of tips. I learned how to properly put on a bra (straps first, then hook, then lift your breasts into place--never yank the bra), that one should rotate bras daily and wear them 3-4 times before washing (preferably by hand), and that bras should be replaced every 6 months, especially if worn on a regular basis. For more tips, I highly suggest checking out the Linda's Bra School section of her website, which is rife with all manner of mammary-related (sorry, couldn't resist) information; there's also more on the Linda Unhooked blog, which is written by Linda and her staff. And while, of course, you can shop on Linda's website, I highly recommend making an appointment with Linda or one of her bra experts, all of whom receive at least three months of Bra School training. (Appointments are highly recommended but not required; all the stock is kept in back, so you can't really walk in off the street, pluck some bras off the rack, and go try them on.) A note for the modest: My fitting involved lots of toplessness, and Linda did help me adjust my girls several times in a true  hands-on manner--all par for the course when it comes to bra fittings, but worth mentioning for the uninitiated. It's literally a transforming experience--I can't wait to wear my new bra tomorrow!

FTC full disclosure: My new bra was gratis, however I will definitely be back to Linda's for a new bikini come summertime.

Sample Sale of the Week: Otte

One of the many things I miss about living in the West Village is the excellent boutique Otte, which is located right around the corner from my former apartment. It's small, but it has the perfect mix of clothes, shoes, and accessories from contemporary designers like 3.1 Phillip Lim, Inhabit, and J Brand--somehow the buyers always pick the best items from each collection, distilling the store into a term I kind of loathe, but in this case, it's totally appropriate: well edited. And so to take a trip down memory lane, I advise hitting their two-day sale this week, which features the above designers, plus Alexander Wang, Elizabeth & James, and includes--I quote--"lots of shoes." I'm there! 4/13-4/14; 10-7; 37 W. 26th St. (5th Ave. & Broadway), ste. 305.

TheFind Guest Post: White Shopper Bags You Can Tote All Year Long!

As much as the idea of trying to keep a white handbag clean completely stresses me out, there's something about white leather bag that's just undeniably luxurious. It's pure and smooth, and it just somehow looks and feels automatically luxe even despite a simple silhouette. If you can get past the paranoia of avoiding stain-prone substances like coffee, grass, or anything that might taint the appearance of a pure white handbag, I've compiled a selection of pretty white shopper bags so you can embrace the freshest spring accessories trend while you window-shop and run errands in style! What I love about white handbags, aside from their air of elegance, is that it's a form of white you can wear all year round -- before, after, or on Labor Day -- and the spring season is the perfect time to start!

Pictured above: Jimmy Choo Rhea Tote, Dooney & Bourke Dillen Large Shopper, Tory Burch Saffiano Tote, Alexander McQueen Faithful De-Manta Leather Tote, and Furla Handbags Piper East/West Shopper.

- Alex Gabardella

Something’s new at TheFind, have you seen it yet? Just launched Visual Search will make it easier to discover what you want to buy (those fab wedge espadrilles!) and where you want to buy it.

Join it: Signpost and Pinterest

I joke that I need a social networking site to network all my social networking sites (got that?), because, as an enthusiastic Web 2.0 participant, I will pretty much join anything. Some I end up visiting daily (Facebook, Twitter), others more occasionally (Goodreads, Linkedin), and many rarely at all (Lookbooks, OnSugar). That said, some sites are more useful than others, and I'm always intrigued by those that fill a void of sorts in my life that I wasn't even aware existed.

Signpost can perhaps best be described as a cross between Groupon and Yelp; it relies on members to share deals, such as amazing happy hours or secret sample sales, and to vet them. Like Groupon, Signpost also has exclusive offers available for purchase; unlike Groupon, these deals tend to run for longer periods of time and the fine print is a bit more visible (then again, perhaps I've been burned by Groupon one too many times). For example, here's one for $120 worth of clothing for $60 at Heartbeat Style in Hoboken; there are also lots of enticing offers for cheap blowouts, fitness classes, mani-pedis, and the like. To encourage members to share, you receive Karma points when another user likes your deal, and you can then redeem those points for a discount on a for-purchase offer. In other words, the more good deals you share (and the more users like them), the more you can purchase. (I think I am making this sound more confusing than it is, but browse the site a bit and it all starts to make sense.) Signpost is free to use, as is its excellent iPhone app, which might just be its secret weapon. It's how I discovered that my local nail salon offers free cosmos with purchase on Thursday and Friday nights, and if there's anything better than having a free cocktail while getting a pedicure, I have yet to discover it. (Then again, maybe I will find it on Signpost!) Signpost is currently available for NYC, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco, but will hopefully be rolling out to more cities soon.

My other recent obsession is Pinterest, a site that's still in its early stages, but judging by how addicted I am to it, I have a feeling it will soon be...well, the next Tumblr. Basically, you install a little plug-in for your web browser that allows you to "pin" compelling images to your virtual pinboard. You can pin anything you like, from inspiring images to stuff you want to buy, and you can arrange your pins in any way you see fit. The social networking factor comes into play because you can follow friends (or just people you like--the site is pretty democratic), re-pin others' pinned items, and comment on items too. Really, I love the site because I read hundreds of emails, websites, and blog posts a day, and Pinterest is a way to catalog and organize everything I see that I like and want to remember. I also leave little comments on everything (although you don't have to), which makes Pinterest, by extension, a random, micro version of Cheryl Shops. Here's my page; you can check out my four pinboards (and, yes, that's me on the left, chomping on a piece of bacon) and see everything that's caught my eye lately. Since Pinterest is still in Beta, the site is by invitation only, however if you email me, I'll send one if you promise to follow me. And I'll return the favor--after all, you can't have too many friends (or, apparently, social networks).

Sample Sales of the Week: Noir, Kara Ross, Ted Rossi and Rachel Leigh

In times like these when it's not quite warm enough to bust out your new spring clothes, but you're dying to wear something new, jewelry sample sales can come in handy. (New jewelry is also a great way to update your look without a total wardrobe overhaul.) This week's top contenders:

Noir makes edgy, attention-getting costume jewelry, and at their sale, prices will be up to 75% off: $10-$95 necklaces, $15-$75 rings, and $5-$40 bracelets and earrings. 4/6-4/8; 10-7; 350 W. 38th St. (8th & 9th Aves.), 5th fl.

Score Kara Ross's exotic bags and gemstone-studded jewels at her sample sale. 4/5-4/7; 10-6; 225 W. 37th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), 15th fl.

Ted Rossi makes luxe leather, python, and Swarovski crystal jewelry and bags; you can score them for up to 70% off. 4/6-4/7; noon-6; 15 E. 30th St. (5th & Madison Aves.), ste. 300.

Rachel Leigh's trendy jewelry is 30-80% off at her cash-only sample sale. Snakeskin bangles are $15; a gumball ring is $25. 4/5-4/7; 10-5; 252 W. 38th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), ste. 902.