Sample Sale of the Week: Raoul

Normally found at the likes of Shopbop, Saks, and Bloomingdale's, Raoul is a contemporary line of minimal-chic clothes with a work-friendly vibe. Find their fall '11, cruise, and spring '12 collections at their sample sale this week. 5/1-5/4; 10-7; 601 W. 26th St. (at 12th Ave.), ste. 1745.

Spring Shopping Guide: Pastel Pleats

After several seasons of bright, bold colors, and even neon more recently, the spring runways lightened things up a bit with pastels, notably at 3.1 Phillip Lim and Givenchy. However, it was Prada's kitchy 1950s-tinged collection and its accordion pleats galore that captured my heart. Mint green is definitely the color of the season, and while it's not a shade for everyone, thankfully there's baby blue, lavender, blush, and all manner of pastels to suit a range of skin tones. You can also find everything from jackets to pants in these pale shades, but here I'll focus on dresses and skirts à la Miuccia.

If you find Prada too intellectual, well, there's always Versace. Leave it to Donatella to make pastels sexy, right? The pleats on this dress lie in a single panel, so the effect is incredibly flattering and streamlined, perfect for those who are worried about extra volume on top.

This Tibi dress is lovely in that the color is so neutral and flattering (it's almost like being naked!), but the bright beading along the armholes livens it up a bit. Its fluid silhouette, however, makes it the type of shape that women love and men...don't.

Doo.Ri, on the other hand, makes looks that both men and women can love. This sateen dress has a super-flattering fit, from the draped bust to the fitted waist that softly flares over the hips with an asymmetrical pleated skirt.

Back to Tibi, this pleated sleeveless dress is a great choice for day—you can throw a cardigan or jacket over it and wear it to work. The shape is well balanced, with a demure neckline (again, work appropriate), and the minty-green color is right on trend.

This 6 Shore Road dress, however, is straight up flirty. with a flounce top. I love the lavender shade, and the price ($158) is very wallet-friendly too. Single ladies, this is the perfect date-night pick.

I've been Pinterest-ing photos of similar semisheer blush maxi skirts for what seems like ages; this BCBGMAXAZRIA pleated maxi is seriously just what I've been looking for. Like the Tibi dress above, it's a creamy, dreamy neutral color, but the fact that you can wear it with anything on top (blazer, T-shirt, etc.) makes it so much more versatile.

With its slightly boxy shirtdress shape this Topshop dress definitely takes strong inspiration from Prada. (For the more diminutive readers out there, it comes in yellow in petite.) Also very Prada: the fact that it's slightly sheer, making it just a little bit risqué.

Can't decide on a single color? This Topshop skirt lets you cheat a little, mixing lavender, mint, blue, and blush all together in a subtle pattern. Plus, bonus points for a trendy high-low hem.

And, of course, you can always count on Zara to interpret a runway look in a wearable and very affordable way. This dress is cheating a bit, in that it also features a dark dip-dyed effect at the hem, but that contrast between the mint and the black makes it that much more interesting—and easier to wear for the pastel-averse.

Sample Sale of the Week: Loro Piana

Loro Piana's cashmere is pretty much the finest money can buy, so buy more for your money at their sample sale, where cashmere knits, outerwear, accessories, and clothes for men and women can be had for super-reduced prices. Credit cards only; no strollers or children under 12. Through 4/26; 9-6:30, 9-5 Th.; 317 W. 33rd St. (8th & 9th Aves.).

TheFind Guest Post: Sheer Polka Dots For Spring Are Sexy Yet Sweet!

The fashion world loves polka dots these days, but even if you're not normally a fan of their throwback feel, there are ways to modernize the look that's sexy and sophisticated while still maintaining the print's classic whimsy. Sheer polka dot blouses give you the perfect balance of retro elegance and updated chicness, for a look that's lightweight, breezy, yet polished for spring.. The sheer sexiness of this Equipment 'Bailey' Mini Dot Blouse off-sets its conservative buttoned-up silhouette – pair with a lacy bralette underneath, if you're feeling daring, or a more modest coordinating cami. Tie-neck blouses continue to be in for the season ahead, so sass up your typical work ensemble with a romantic sheer top like this one from Forever 21 (just make sure you have the appropriate coverage underneath, of course!). And lastly, if you're looking for something a bit more dramatic, try this exaggerated-sleeve Haute Hippie 'Gypsy' Blouse tucked into a fitted skirt to balance its extra volume!

- Alexandra Gambardella

Content provided by TheFind in partnership with Cheryl Shops.

Sample Sale of the Week: Elie Tahari

Chances are you work in an office and need to look (at least somewhat) professional. If you're like me, sometimes you push the boundaries of corporate couture, but sometimes you just want to look pulled together, in a quietly luxe way. If the latter is the case, get thee to the Elie Tahari sample sale, where versatile, well-done work-friendly pieces for men & women are up to 70% off retail. Go with your coworkers. 4/17-4/21; 8:30-7:30, 10-5 S; 501 5th Ave. (41st & 42nd Sts.), 2nd fl.

TheFind Guest Post: Beat The Heat With These Neon-Accented Sunglasses!

I know it seems counterproductive to beat the sun's blinding rays with a pair of even more blindingly bright sunglasses, but sometimes fashion surpasses all logic aside! After all, these super-cool neon shades are hard to pass up! If you haven't already noticed, it's going to be pretty hard to avoid eye-popping neons for the upcoming spring season so far, so even if you're not much of a nu-raver – or still consider the 90s to be the worst decade ever (*gasp!*) – you might as well embrace the trend and use it to your own advantage. After all, neon looks awesome against a summer glow, so if you can't beat 'em, join 'em! To pull off this trend without looking like you bounced off the stage of Kids Incorporated (remember that show?), or worse - like you just bought your accessories from the local 99 cent store, the key is to stick to fashion-forward silhouettes or strategic neon detailing, so the look is edgy and chic instead of dated, stale, or cheap. For example, these GaGa-esque square shades are white hot, with the perfect dash of neon orange just at the sides. These circular-framed Karen Walker sunnies and Emporio Armani aviators take a similar 'less is more' approach when it comes to neon, keeping their highlighter yellow details to just the side panels. And if you're willing to embrace the neon-framed trend head-on with all-over neon, try out these Kate Spade Florence Broadhurst cat-eye frames for a sexy retro-modern look!

- Alexandra Gambardella

Content provided by TheFind in partnership with Cheryl Shops.

Spring Shopping Guide: Printed Skinny Jeans

Last summer, colored skinny jeans were the trend that took everyone by surprise—they were fun, budget-friendly, and easy to wear, not to mention the newest thing in denim in several seasons. For winter, colored jeans evolved into animal prints from snake to leopard to zebra. Now, for spring, denim designers have gone a step further with prints of all kinds. Pretty much anything is on the table—floral, ikat, lace, tie-dye—however there is definitely an art to wearing it. If you have long, thin legs, you can get away with almost anything, but for the rest of us, the key is looking for either an elongated, vertical print and/or a more subtle color scheme. Here are my top picks.

Balmain has been doing printed skinny jeans for several seasons, which gives the label a head start. The print on this pair was achieved by hand with bleach and strategically placed to shape the body, hence their four-figure price tag. One of my favorite parts is the concentration of detail at the knee, giving it a knee-pad effect.

Balenciaga's chevron jeans have a doubly flattering effect in that they layer on a naturally elongating chevron pattern in skinny stripes, further reinforcing the line. I am also a sucker for zip hems, which allow you to adjust the leg opening to your liking.

I can totally see Miu Miu's star-print jeans on Sea of Shoes—the colors and shape seem right up her alley.  This is an example of a pair without a natural vertical line, but the scale of the print is balanced enough to still be flattering. You can tell the leg is cut well too, which helps.

Current Elliott has been one of the forerunners in both the colored and animal-print trends, so of course they are killing it with this printed stiletto jean. Somewhere between an ikat and a Native American print, this print has a curved effect that works well with the shape of the leg. I can also attest that Current Elliott jeans fit incredibly well—they're one of my go-to denim brands.

J Brand's 810 twisted twill jeans have a more subtle effect in that the print is a two-tone acid-washed affair, and the shape is J Brand's best-selling 810 cut. And if, like me, the term "acid wash" sends you running, this the pair that's sure to change your mind.

Speaking of things I wore when I was younger, I thought floral-print jeans were something that should stay in the '80s, until I saw this cute pair by Alice + Olivia. The print is definitely a throwback, but the low rise and skinny shape keep them firmly grounded in the current day.

Asos, as you'd imagine, is a fabulous place to find printed skinny jeans at very affordable prices. One of my favorite pairs on the site is this River Island heart-print jean, because the hearts are so subtle—they look like polka dots at first, which are just as fun (if not more so). I also like that these have a more forgiving black background.

These Free People Ikat jeans are similar to the Balmain pair above, in that they have a leg-lengthening chevron pattern, but they're more colorful (though still subtle) and with a summer-friendly cropped length.

I will preface this last entry by saying don't judge, but I have a similar pair of Not Your Daughter's Jeans (mine are python print), and if you can get over the silly name, they really do fit amazingly well. (My tip: buy a size lower than what you normally wear.) This lace print is understated and flattering, and combined with the super-slimming effect, they're the perfect pair for anyone who's hesitant to try the trend. The only downside is that you will immediately want to buy several more.

Sample sale of the Week: Jimmy Choo

Jimmy Choo shoes are almost always sexy in an obvious way, but then again, you could say the same thing about several other high-end designer shoe lines. What sets Choos apart is this: They are surprisingly comfortable. So go, and score yourself some overtly sexy, spendy shoes at major discounts (they went for $250 a pair at the last sale). Expect crowds; I recommend more practical shoes for line-waiting purposes. But just this once. 4/12-4/13; 2-6 Th, 9-6 F; Metropolitan Pavilion, 123 W. 18th St. (6th & 7th Aves.).

TheFind Guest Post: Suit Up This Spring in a Bold, Bright Blazer!

Blazers of all kinds – cropped, tuxedo, jersey, leather, boyfriend, you name it – have been a staple in both the office and more casual streetwear ensembles for quite awhile now, but this spring and summer they're getting the candy color treatment! Color is majorly in for the warmer months ahead, and a bold, bright blazer is the perfect way to jazz up the ho-hum of your workday or infuse some serious punchiness into your typical night-out ensemble. Coral, turquoise, yellow, and beyond – several spring-festive colors look surprisingly sophisticated when worn over a neutral-toned dress or even a basic tank and jeans with platform pumps. Of course, it's important not to go too overboard with color – make sure these blazers serve as a statement piece within your outfit. Too many brights fighting for attention within the same ensemble may have you looking like Effie Trinket from The Hunger Games... and I don't think the world is ready for the Capitol's fashion taste just yet!

Pictured above: Rebecca Minkoff Becky Jacket in Teal, Forever 21 Ruched Sleeve Linen Blazer in Coral, and Vince Camuto One Button Blazer in Blaze Yellow.

- Alexandra Gambardella

Content provided by TheFind in partnership with Cheryl Shops.

Recommended Reading: Girls of a Certain Age and Sea of Shoes vs. Texas Monthly and The Cut

Confession: I'm one of those girls who loved, loved, loved the magazine Sassy. I have nearly every issue saved (they're at my parents' house), and I devoured the excellent How Sassy Changed my Life. What was so great to me was that the magazine let its editors' and writers' personalities into the magazine, so much that I felt like they were actually my friends, or at least cool girls I could look up to. One of those editors was Kim France, who went on to edit Lucky, taking a similar tactic in bringing its editors onto its pages. Kim is no longer the editor at Lucky, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss her, so I was beyond overjoyed to see she started a blog called Girls of a Certain Age. It is very clearly her voice—cool, a little neurotic, honest—and while many of the posts are about shopping (everything from store reports to cool products), she also interviewed fellow Sassy alum Christina Kelly, and hopefully will continue that practice (where are Mary and Karen?!). The blog is geared toward women in their 30s and 40s, so obviously I'm the target audience, but I can't help but feel like I've reconnected with a long-lost friend.

Elsewhere on the blogosphere, Sea of Shoes and The Cut are engaged in a war of words over this profile of SOS's Jane Aldridge in Texas Monthly. Jane apparently had no problem with the article until this post on The Cut, snarkily analyzing the profile. Jane issued a rebuttal; The Cut responded. My take? The TM story is a pretty damn good profile—it's an award-winning publication, after all—and while Jane comes across as a can't help but admire her for knowing what she wants and going after it—successfully—at such a young age (she's 20), so who cares if she's not going to college? (Nor do I care that she drinks a glass of champagne in the story; I did far worse things at that age.) Jane is now claiming a bunch of quotes were taken out of context by The Cut, and that she was misquoted by TM; Texas Monthly stands by their reporting. Jane may be savvy beyond her years when it comes to her blog, but she's certainly showing her age when it comes to her lack of media training.

Win it: Affinitas lingerie!

Last week I blogged about pretty bras, and the lovely people at Affinitas Intimates were so excited I featured one of their styles, they're giving away a matching bra-and-panty set to three lucky Cheryl Shops readers! Awesome, right? Here's how to win:

The prize
A matching bra and panty set in your size—the options are the Parfait by Affinitas Anna Bra (in sizes 30D-40G), featured in last week's post and at right, with matching thong or hipster (in sizes S-XXL) or the equally pretty Affinitas Carolyn Bra at lower right (push-up or padded, in sizes 30-36A, 30-38B, C, 32-38 D, DD) with matching thong or hipster (in sizes S-XL).
How to enter
Leave a comment on this post below, and make sure there's a way for me to contact you, either by registering with your Google account, OpenID, link to your email address or website, or spell it out old-school (i.e. address at ISP dot com).

Bonus entries:
Get up to three (3) additional entries by becoming a fan of Affinitas on Facebook, following Affinitas on Twitter, or following Affinitas on Pinterest. Just note in your comment any bonus entries—honor system!

Rules & regulations:
The deadline for entering is 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, April 8, 2012. Cheryl Shops will pick three (3) winners at random. Winners will be contacted on Monday, April 9, 2012. If winner does not respond within three (3) business days, Cheryl Shops reserves the right to pick a new winner.

Good luck!

Sample sale of the week: Shoshanna

As you might have guessed from this post last week, I have trouble finding swimsuits. Or, rather, I used to. One of my go-to designers is Shoshanna, whose bikini tops are ingeniously sized by cup, rather than S-M-L. I will be stocking up for summer at her sample sale, where everything—swimwear, dresses, and separates too—is under $100. Stay away from the string bikinis—they're mine. 4/3-4/4; 10-6; 231 W. 39th St. (7th & 8th Aves.), ste. 422.