In These Shoes: Jeffrey Campbell El-Carmen Stars & Stripes

While I am a fairly proud American (okay, maybe I say I'm a New Yorker when asked if I'm American when traveling abroad), I've never been one to wear the American flag as clothing, even though there have been some fashionable renditions over the years. I suppose I prefer to show my patriotism in other ways, such as by voting. However, this year I might start waving the flag for all-American fashion with these Stars & Stripes El-Carmen shoes from Jeffrey Campbell. I'm not going to mince words: They're incredibly campy. They look like something a superhero, or perhaps a patriotic stripper named Georgia Washington would wear. And yet, they have a sense of humor; they seem to take joy in the stars and stripes, which is refreshing, after so many self-serious "These colors don't run" T-shirts and politician-friendly lapel pins. The style is an update of Campbell's best-selling El-Carmen, with a formidable 2-inch platform and sexy ankle strap; if you're going to embrace the American flag as fashion, why not do it chicly?

Sample Sale of the Week: Ella Moss and Splendid

Being the week before a holiday weekend, it's a rather slow one for sample sales, but sometimes quality trumps quantity, and thus I am pretty psyched for Splendid and Ella Moss's one-day sale. Since both labels are known for easy jersey pieces, expect a lot of perfect summer staples at blowout prices; they'll have merch for women, men, and kids, all just in time for the real start of summer. 6/29; 8:30-5; 260 W. 39th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), 12th floor.

TheFind Guest Post: Quirky-Cute Charms From Privileged Jewelry!

Leave the chunky stones and glam bib necklaces behind -- according to NYC-based Privilege Jewelry, this summer is all about going simple and playful with whimsical charm pendants! Founded in the Fall of 2008 by fashion buyer Jennifer Ondyak, Privileged incorporates classic, delicate designs, modernized with fun, unexpected details like funny, cute charms to keep things young and fresh. Can't decide between all the whimsical pendants? Pick something summery and sweet like an ice cream cone charm or a surprisingly adorable hot dog in the spirit of summer barbecues, or express your inner bad-ass in the most delicate way possible with a mini pair of gilded handcuffs. Unlike bolder statement-making jewelry, this dainty chains and charms let you express a little personality without overwhelming your outfit. After all, with a summer season packed with such bold styles like flowing maxi dresses, loud prints, and the chunkiest wedge sandals, it's nice to have more subdued jewelry that lets you accessorize while still exuding plenty of sass!

- Alex Gambardella

Content provided by TheFind in partnership with Cheryl Shops.

Cheryl Shops...Montreal (again!)

It was almost exactly four years ago that MW and I made an impromptu trip to Montreal; we ended up there last week on our mini-moon of sorts (MW was actually there for a conference; I tagged along). We were in more of a university neighborhood this time, which was fine with me--it was more quiet than downtown, but easy to get nearly everywhere we needed to go. My shopping trips were basically conducted in short bursts while MW was off giving a reading or panel discussion, but here's what I hit this time.

While I normally do a lot of research on where to shop before leaving for a trip, my Montreal prep work consisted of crowd-sourcing on Twitter and looking stuff up on my phone at the airport before we left. Needless to say, my last-minute queries turned up TNT, which was conveniently a few blocks away from our hotel. Sort of like a mini Barneys, TNT has an appealing mixture of avant-garde fashion like Comme des Garçons, contemporary lines like J Brand and Elizabeth & James, and the best selection of French labels like Sandro, Isabel Marant, and Maje that I've seen outside of Paris. The lower level was all sale merchandise, currently 30-50% off. One thing to note: Here, as in many stores in Montreal, I found the salespeople to be rather prickly. But when in doubt, head next door to Calories, where service is much more friendly, and drown your sorrows in some tasty apple crisp or cheesecake. 4100 Rue St. Catherine Ouest, Westmount

MW's conference was close to Holt Renfrew, which is kind of like the Neiman Marcus of Canada. The Montreal store is much smaller than the Vancouver location, with the usual beauty and accessories on the first floor, designer on the second, and shoes, contemporary, sportswear, and lingerie on the third. You can find the major American players here--Marc Jacobs, DVF, Tory Burch, Michael Kors--but also European designers like Erdem, Marni, and Dries Van Noten. I fell somewhat in love with a bandage skirt by Pleasure Doing Business but decided against it due to its length, which left little to the imagination, and its price, which was still $99 Canadian. I also tried on two interesting Rick Owens-esque dresses by Line, which might be a private label; both were very drapey and flattering, but one was too small and one was too large. Service here was much more pleasant, perhaps due to its tourist-friendly location; then again, it was here that I perfected my first-speak-French, then-speak-English technique. 1300 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest

Ssense, which is kind of like the Net-a-Porter of Canada, has a fairly new two-story boutique in the Old Town (which, strangely enough, is not listed anywhere on the ecommerce site). They carry everything from Proenza Schouler and Givenchy for the ladies to Topman for the guys; unlike the excellent website, most items were of the full-price variety (except for some several-seasons-old Balmain, which, at $3,000 and up, was still way out of my price range). Considering its location is in a rather touristy area, I kind of wonder who shops here. 90 Rue St. Paul Ouest

One of my favorite shops, also in the Old Town, was Espace Pepin, equal parts art gallery and clothing boutique, showcasing the work of local artists and designers. The vibe is very artsy, with lots of relaxed crinkled linen clothes and oversized jewelry, but prices were reasonable, and I think it's always important to support local talent. It's also worth a visit alone for the adorable Saint Bernard who presides over the store. 350 Rue St. Paul Ouest

And while you're in the Old Town, I highly recommend stopping for a bite to eat at Olive & Gourmando. True, I hadn't eaten carbs in 2 weeks, but their sandwiches tasted like a little bit of heaven and their iced tea was like ambrosia. They also have pastry, homemade granola, jams, and Savon de Marseilles products for sale. 351 Rue St. Paul Ouest

Finally, our trip coincided with the opening of the Jean-Paul Gaultier retrospective at the Musée des Beaux Arts, so of course I dragged MW there on our last day. I would highly recommend visiting if you're in town (it runs through October 2nd); the exhibit focuses mainly on Gaultier's couture work, and the placards note how many hours each garment took to construct--being able to examine these works of art up close is truly a treat. The staging, if you will, is really innovative too--one section features looks rotating on a runway, and throughout the exhibit, talking faces are projected onto the mannequins' heads, which is kind of freaky at first, but an interesting way to present information and set a mood nonetheless. And because Gaultier is nothing without Madonna (or so she seems to think), the exhibit also includes several of the famous costumes he designed for her infamous Blonde Ambition tour. But bustiers are just a small (albeit important) part--it covers everything from punks to sailors to futurism, and all of it is exquisite and provocative. It will be interesting to compare with the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met, which, hopefully, I'll see this weekend; though both designers leave a lasting legacy of extraordinary fashion, both were considered the enfants terribles of their day. 1379 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest

MasstigeWatch: Versace for H&M, Albertus Swanepoel for Target, Eddie Borgo for J.Crew & more

In spite of the fashion press grumbling that consumers are growing tired of mass-designer collaborations, the masstige bandwagon rolls on, the latest (and biggest) news being that Versace is collaborating with H&M, in spite of the fact that three years ago, Donatella said she'd never do a mass line. Ahem. This one will be slightly different in that it's based on "iconic" Versace pieces, so for everyone's sake, let's hope that includes way-back archival looks designed by Gianni himself. Encompassing men's, women's, and home items, the first collection hits stores November 17, with a second round of pre-spring items on January 19. The Cut (and many other blogs) has a video preview; here are some still shots, courtesy of H&M. Considering Versace is not exactly Lanvin, are you excited or...not so much?

Hitting Target stores a few weeks earlier on October 30 are two accessories collections: 14 hats by CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner Albertus Swanepoel (all for just $19.99 each!), and jewelry from L.A.-based wire-wrapping pioneer Dana Kellin (retailing for $9.99-$49.99). I am actually really excited about the Albertus Swanepoel hats--Target's hat collabs tend to be among their more successful outings, mostly due to the fact that hats don't require leather (or in Target's case, fake leather), and I am a just a chapeau-lover at heart. The jewelry collections tend to be pretty solid too, so this is good news all around. More photos of both lines (the hat at left is currently available at Anthropologie) should be available in August, so stay tuned.

And because Target hasn't met a designer collab it hasn't liked, they've also announced a partnership with Josie Natori. The first of the two-part collection should hit stores in time for the holidays, with the second, Valentine's Day-timed installment arriving around January 1. Considering prices are $9.99-$34.99 for bras, panties, and chemises, I'm assuming this will be nowhere as luxe as her signature line; in fact, I'm expecting polyester galore. Still, I am a huge fan of Target's Gilligan & O'Malley boyshorts (3 for $12!), and so I will keep an open mind.

Finally, CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner Eddie Borgo's jewelry line for J.Crew is live, and as of now, all pieces are still available (as opposed to the super-limited-edition Prabal Gurung line, which sold out before I even had a chance to write about it). Prices range from $38 for a bow pin to $175 for a fringed necklace; my favorite is this $135 studded cuff, although I would gladly take any piece in the collection (or in his regular line, where prices tend to hover around the mid three figures). Now if only J.Crew will send out another one of those 20% off emails...

Sample Sale of the Week: Olivia Harris and Gryson

Joy Gryson used to design accessories for Marc Jacobs (we can thank her for the iconic pushlock), then set off on her own to create quietly luxurious, perfectly smushy leather bags; her slightly trendier, lower-priced Olivia Harris line came soon thereafter. At her sample sale this week, both lines are up to 70% off (think $300-$400 for Gryson, $150-$200 for Olivia Harris). Joy indeed! 6/22-6/23; 11-6; 180 Varick St. (King & Charlton Sts.), #916.

Buy it: Clé de Peau Refining Fluid Foundation

A couple of months ago, I had my hair and makeup trial for my wedding (which is this weekend, for those of you paying attention). My hair was a resounding success; my makeup, not so much. Getting one's makeup done is one of those things that seems like it would be awesome, but nine times out of ten, at least in my experience, something tends to go horribly wrong. In this case, it was the mineral makeup that the artist used; apparently I am like the only person in the world who is allergic to it (this is now the second supposedly hypoallergenic brand that made be break out horribly). And so I decided to pull a Kate Middleton and do my own wedding makeup. I have a great eyebrow pencil (Kevyn Aucoin), favorite mascara (Diorshow), universally flattering blush (NARS Orgasm, of course), go-to lipstick (Armani in 21), non-budging black eyeliner (Make Up Forever Aqua Eyes), and a blendable set of neutral eyeshadows (mine is by Smashbox and is no longer available, but this palette is pretty close to what I have). I decided to upgrade my concealer and buy some foundation (which I never, ever wear), so based on the beauty accolades in this month's InStyle, I decided on Clé de Peau concealer and Armani Luminous Silk foundation. My first stop was the Clé de Peau counter, and asking for concealer turned into me sitting in the chair and getting a full face of makeup...which, to the saleswoman's credit, looked pretty darn good. (I wonder if she does weddings...) In fact, I looked so good, I ended up buying the foundation she used as well as the concealer.

Now, I take pretty good care of my skin--I have a regime, which I stick to religiously (and which I will write about in detail at some point, if you all are interested), and I've been getting facials twice a month (hey, don't judge!) at the excellent Joanna Vargas Salon. I thought I was one of those people who could get away without wearing foundation, but, let's face it, I'm well into my 30s now, and maybe I need a little extra help. I had shied away from using foundation in the past, because it usually sits on my skin and looks so unnatural to me, but, wow, apparently I've been missing out. The foundation that converted me is Clé de Peau Refining Fluid Foundation. Supposedly it has some high-tech polymers that automatically adjust the moisture levels on your skin; all you need to know it that it makes you look absolutely radiant. It evens out my skin, covers my pores, and--this is important--stays put all day. Like, today I went to work, took a walk at lunch, worked out after work, and it's 11 p.m. now and my skin still looks amazing. The saleswoman showed me how to apply it with a sponge, concentrating it where I need the most coverage (my nose and environs) and then spreading it outward to my cheeks and forehead, where I need less. I don't look like I'm wearing foundation; I look like a better version of me. Of course, perfection has its price, and as I discovered when I handed over my credit card, that price is $120. For the foundation. (The concealer is $70, which isn't exactly a bargain either.) And while my wedding has led me to justify spending more money than I probably need to on many things (see twice-monthly facials, above), I truly think this foundation is worth it. I've been wearing it every day since I've bought it (yes, even on the weekend!), and since one pump is more than enough to cover my face, I'm hoping it lasts quite a while. Regardless, skin is something that, like your hair, you "wear" every day, and I'd gladly spend $120 on a pair of shoes. (See how I justify things?) That's logic I probably should have applied to my wedding dress, but, hey, baby steps, right?

Top 5 Sample Sales of the Week

I'm taking next week off from posting, as I'll be mini-mooning in Montreal, so for next week's sales, I recommend checking out this comprehensive preview on Racked. But in the meantime, here are five promising-sounding sales for this week.

Who doesn't love DVF, especially at up to 75% off? Look for the legendary sample racks too; expect big crowds and long lines. 6/7-6/10; 9-6:30 T, 10-8 W, 10-7 Th, 9-3 F; 260 5th Ave. (28th & 29th Sts.). 

Always great for stocking up on denim, James Jeans are 50%-80% off. 6/7-6/10; 9-7:30 Tu, 10-6 W, 10-7:30 Th, 10-2 F; 500 Greenwich St. (Spring & Canal Sts.), ste. 202.

Dresses are $25-$200 and bikinis are $25-$85 at Mara Hoffman's awesome-sounding sample sale. 6/10-6/12; 11-8 F, 11-7 Sat, noon-5 Sun; 236 Elizabeth St. (Prince & Houston Sts.).

Find clothing & accessories from spring, summer, and cruise at the Ralph Lauren warehouse sale; credit cards only, no strollers or children under 12. Through 6/9; 9-6:30, 9-5:30 Th; Soffier Haskin, 317 W. 33rd St. (8th & 9th Aves.).

Party-friendly frocks, tops, and shorts are 50% off at the Kimberly Taylor sample sale, plus samples are $50-$75. 6/7-6/8; 10-7; 110 W. 40th St. (6th Ave. & Broadway), ste. 705.

TheFind Guest Post: Love It or Hate It: 70s-Inspired Flatform Sandals

No, you didn't read that incorrectly, and it's not a typo. Flatform sandals -- in the form of espadrilles, cork wedges, and even suede -- are the newly-revamped 70s style that's taking retro-modern platform sandals to new heights! Instead of a heightened heel, flatforms are simply elevated flats for a look that stays "level" yet manages to lengthen legs at the same time! They're undeniably comfortable, and won't have your hurting after standing in them all day at your next summer gathering, but still give you that trendy clunky look to off-balance a flirty skirt or girly sundress. While some styles take the trend a little more literally than others (think brick-like platforms as opposed to subtly-sloped wedges), the overall look is chunky and funky and definitely not for those looking for a delicate heel!

Pictured above: Jil Sander "Phoebe" Wedge Platform Sandals, Elizabeth & James Boca Wedge Sandals, Michael Kors Cork Platform Sandal, and Modern Vintage Platform Wedge Sandal.

- Alex Gambardella

Content provided by TheFind in partnership with Cheryl Shops.

Cheryl Shops Spring/Summer Shopping Guide: Sexy Espadrilles

There's something about espadrilles that's inherently not sexy. Maybe it's the fact that they're originally a shoe for peasants, maybe it's the earthy jute sole, or maybe it's the fact that they've evolved into chunky wedges, a style that, while comfortable, tends to make one's feet look like cement blocks. (And while I love a great wedge, ask any man and I can almost guarantee they will tell you wedges are just plain unsexy.) But this year, I've noticed a new breed of espadrilles that, gasp, actually have a separate, shapely heel. A high heel. Not only are they an evolution of this summer essential, they're also an evolution of the platform sandal, a style that, to my delight, just won't seem to go away. As an added bonus, many of the styles featured here are now on sale (I started this story before Memorial Day), so take advantage—after all, summer is just getting started.

YSL's Gipsy sandals have a fairly chunky heel, but the nude cage-like straps are decidedly sexy, with the vertical strap providing an extra-elongating effect and the contrasting heel drawing extra attention to one's feet. Which, if you ask me, is never a bad thing.

Also from YSL, and also called Gipsy, this style is even more overtly sexy, with ultra-bare straps and a daring red platform. This is a great option for someone whose style tends more toward the sophisticated, versus the bohemian.

These Lanvin espadrilles take the trend to another level entirely--for one, I had a hard time spotting the espadrille part (it's there though). For another, the two-tone snakeskin takes them to a whole other level of luxe.

The fact that these Tory Burch espadrilles are called Bradshaw is a pretty obvious reference, and yet I think Carrie herself would totally rock these out. The metallic color makes them a tiny bit trashy, and the 5-inch heel is hiiiigh, but this is Tory Burch we're talking about, and so there's something also simple and refined about them. I am glad these are finally on sale; they have summer party shoe written all over them.

If the above shoe is the Upper East Side, the Ashley espadrille from Schutz is totally Lower East Side. They're more than a bit funky, but with the sculpted heel, cutouts, and tomato-red color, they're sexy in that south-of-Delancey kind of way.

And while we're equating shoes with NYC neighborhoods, the Via Spiga Cain sandals might as well be the Village: in the middle of things, and appealing to pretty much everyone. Really, what's not to love about the bright shades and the simple buckle details?

I don't know about you, but I think it's kind of hilarious that Ivanka Trump makes shoes. That said, Ivanka is one of the classier Trumps, and her footwear manages to toe the line (pun intended) between trashy and tasteful. I actually quite like her Helios2 espadrilles, which are pretty neutral (hey, leopard is a neutral) but interesting too.
The Rachel Zoe-approved Baileysa espadrilles by BCBGeneration are pretty much a knockoff of the YSL style above, complete with the black heel, although not quite as sexy. Still, they're a solid contender, and a much more wallet-friendly option.

The Harajuku Lovers Kasi espadrille is the most budget-friendly option here and comes in a bunch of colors, although I like the red the best. As with most shoes at this price, it's made of synthetic leather, but the twisted T-strap is bare enough, and the pink sole gives a knockoffy nod to Monsieur Louboutin, patron saint of the sexy shoe.