Tag Archives: Bills Khakis

Le Boutique Targét: No Longer Cool? Also, Prep-Friendly Flash Sales This Week

Hello-Hello, welcome to a Wednesday here at The Prepatorium.  Is everyone melting all aglow in the beastly warm temps?

Via BrandChannel.com

We begin with a question raised in today’s Journal; the paper asks if the store has become “More Target Than Tar-zhay?

A series of recent stumbles at Target Corp. has some retail experts questioning whether the cheap-chic discounter is losing its cachet.

The chain that made it trendy to shop for low-priced designer clothing and mod lamps while picking up detergent and toothpaste has been struggling to gain back its pre-recession sales strength.”

The story goes on to detail struggles the retailer is having getting customers to buy clothing and home items, two categories that not only provide higher profits, they helped set Le Boutique Targét apart from Walmart and other discount stores.   More from Ann Zimmerman’s story:

Some of Target’s struggles may also owe to the changing competitive landscape. Kohl’s Corp. and J.C. Penney Co. in recent years have taken a page from the Target playbook, adding low-price designer clothes from Vera Wang, Ralph Lauren and others.

We chat about Target with some frequency in this space, and have been vocal about quality concerns related to the company’s designer collaborations. We have also said the retailer still doesn’t seem to have recovered from Isaac Mizrahi’s departure, he had a very deft design sense that translated well for Target’s demographic. To be sure, there are still fun, fashionable items, like the Merona Rain Boots shown below.

Target.com

But the boots are not an original design, to say they are “derivative” of popular classics would be an understatement. There’s no question the collaborations have been very interesting to watch, but when it comes to the bread-and-butter styles the retailer needs to offer every day, the confident, whimsical touch seems to have disappeared. Back to the article:

“In the past year, middle and upper-end retailers bounced back while Target lagged behind. “Macy’s is winning in apparel and Bed Bath & Beyond has picked up a lot of market share,” said Ms. Shapira. Home furnishings are “doing very poorly at Target. In a world that no longer has Linens ‘N Things, you would think Target would have picked up some market share.” (Linens ‘N Things closed its stores in 2008 but exists online.)”

This makes us wonder, are you still popping in to shop at Target? Have you decreased your visits, perhaps transferred spending to other stores? Or is everything much the same?

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We have a few more retail-related tidbits, beginning with tough news for Talbots, the company’s stock was down yesterday by 40%. Women’s Wear Daily has more:

“…the company said sales and traffic have continued to “trend negative” so far in the second quarter, when it expects continuing high levels of promotion and markdown activity.”

“Increased promotional activity” is marketing speak for price cuts, while that can mean great savings for those looking for bargains at the struggling retailer, long-term it doesn’t bode well for the brand. This is how the Talbots’ home page looks today, obviously a promotion is underway:

Talbots.com

If you visit Talbots’ Facebook page you will see a broad range of customer comments on the ‘wall,’ many of them referencing quality concerns as well as design and/or style issues. Recognizing that human nature dictates negative comments will outweigh the positive, the Facebook wall still presents a capsule look at a troubled brand, we hope Talbots is able to turn things around.

Our other ‘shopping business’ headline involves Lilly Pulitzer’s new owner, Oxford Industries, that company also reported financial results this week. Those numbers were very good, exceeding already-positive expectations. Much of the increase came from solid sales at Tommy Bahama (also owned by Oxford), but Lilly Pulitzer contributed to the growth as well, here is more from WWD:

The company credited the sales growth to trendy spring and summer product, as well as to a burgeoning effort to expand the brand’s consumer base through digital and social media efforts.

Speaking of Lilly, many fans are headed to the Warehouse Sale that starts tomorrow in Pennsylvania; if not able to make that event, online discounter RueLaLa is doing another Lilly flash sale beginning at 11am (EDT) on Friday.

RueLaLa.com

For those not familiar with RueLaLa, the firm offers online-only sales; the invitation only (cough-cough) events run for a limited time, usually three days. A word of caution however, popular pieces can be gone within 2 -3 minutes once a sale opens.  (If in need of an invitation, just click here.)

There are actually several more prep-friendly events this week at RueLaLa, including a Sperry sale that starts at 11am tomorrow (Thursday, 6/9), as well as a sale of Bill’s Khakis and Atlantis WeatherGear.

Via RueLaLa

The Consort has a keen interest in the Bill’s sale, we’re guessing he will be firmly planted in front of his desktop at 11am tomorrow,  that’s when the sale gets underway.  In addition to the Lilly sale Friday, there is also a sale on Preppy Plates.  Because this could be confusing, we’ll recap the RueLaLa sales:

  • Thursday sales: Sperry Top-siders, Bill’s Khakis, Atlantis WeatherGear
  • Friday sales: Lilly Pulitzer, St. John swimwear and Preppy Plates

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A quick note about a new line of ties and scarves from a company called Figs. We mention them not only because they make handcrafted goods of very high quality right here in the USA…

Figs

We also mention them because of their philanthropic policies: for every tie or scarf sold a uniform is donated to a schoolchild in Kenya or Tanzania.  From a post in Valet:

“The brand’s founder, Heather Hasson, is an avid traveler and was in Africa a few years ago when she learned that many kids there weren’t able to attend school simply due to a lack of funds needed to purchase a requisite uniform.”

We first learned about the brand over at our friend Madeleine’s blog, Ms. Hasson is her cousin.  Click here to read more at Madeleine’s blog or here to see the Valet post in its entirety.

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For those seeking a little something for Father’s Day, we offer two random ideas, the first we fell upon while searching for something else entirely at Jack Spade.

The company offers several accessories with a nautical touch, including a business card holder and passport case in the firm’s embossed anchor pattern.

The second idea is one that The Consort and I love, Baseball Cufflinks created from an official MLB baseball that was used in an actual major league game.

J. Peterman

We found them at J. Peterman, at $150 they are not inexpensive, but they do look nifty.

Goodbye until next time!

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Filed under Collaborations, Lilly Pulitzer Paper & Gifts, nautical, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion

Lisa Birnbach Wishes She Was Betty Draper Sometimes

Hello-Hello, what a delightful Tuesday it has turned out to be, we hope yours is the same, filled with sunshine and lots of laughter.

It seems like a good time for an update on True Prep, there have been oodles of articles on the book, as well as loads of parties and book signing events, like this one at the Sperry Top-sider store in Kansas City.

Tim Umphrey/Getty Images

And this one at the Lilly Mother Ship store in King of Prussia.

Michael S. Wirtz/Philadelphia Inquirer

There has also been a significant amount of news coverage for many of the goings-on as well. We adore the way this Palm Beach Daily News story begins:

“In the beginning, there was pink and there was green. They mixed, quietly, beyond the fray of fashion magazines and designer mandates.”

Fortunately, the always-gracious Lisa Birnbach us fit into her more-than-busy schedule, we were able to catch up for a chat about the book’s progress and reader reactions.  We started out discussing the book’s popularity, something the author calls “humbling,” sharing that she has been “… surprised at how many people show up at things!”

She has also been taken aback by the intense affection people still have for The Official Preppy Handbook, saying she didn’t realize how much it meant to people, let alone the impact some readers say it had on their lives.

“The number of ‘you’ve changed my life’ stories people are telling me is amazing, I never expected that.”

Reading about the antics of preps getting together in other parts of the country is always fun, below we see two of our faves, Hopsy (aka Monograms & Manicures/Kappa Prep) as well as Miss Tickled Pink & Green at the Dallas event in October.

Photo via Kappa Prep

Discussion about the “commercialization of prep” as it relates to the book prompted us to ask Ms. Birnbach about products and brands heavily showcased in the new book and/or at events on the book tour.
“Is there some sort of quid pro quo with Brooks Brothers? Absolutely not. Not at all, there’s no cash exchanged for events being held at their stores, no. It’s very simple how this all happened, we were very late calling merchants to provide things to photograph for the book, and when I called Brooks brothers they decided they really wanted to get involved.”
The conversation digressed (at length) with chatter about some of the natty Brooks apparel Ms. Birnbach has been sporting at B2 book functions.  Your trusty correspondent has been a little gaga about several dresses worn by the author, especially the one seen below left in Adam Tschorn’s photo.  We think it is the Black Fleece Silk Button Back Dress shown below right. (For more on the Brooks Brothers launch party, click here.)
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Back to that nasty and oh-so-not-done conversation about True Prep and merchandising, there are products being marketed for which Ms. Birnbach does receive some compensation. The licensing agreement with Vineyard Vines is a good example of such an arrangement.

Vineyard Vines

The collection includes a True Prep Polo, a tie and Beach Bag.
We then moved on to the next topic, asking Ms. Birnbach about reader reactions to the book.
“Some people want more rules, there are people who are really not happy about the inclusiveness, this is the area that seems to provide the most controversy.  I don’t think it’s nice, it’s not appropriate.”
As an FYI, the harshest criticism the author can level at someone or something is that it “isn’t nice.”  And when discussing the “too inclusive” crowd, she is understandably emphatic.
“They are old school and they don’t like the way the world is shaping up, and the worst thing is, they spew and use new media and its anonymity to post their rage online, where they can say anything and be safe from other points of view. We have to draw a line in the sand.”
It is at this point where both Ms. Birnbach and TP commiserate about “how things used to be”.
“Life was much more pleasant, I did have to dress up to fly, I miss the soft-spoken courtesy in the world I grew up in. Now my kids know more about plastic surgery and violence and other things that I never knew about at that age.”

“But then, we didn’t have access to so many things that we do now as far as careers and other things go… am I grateful for the opportunities I have had because of the way the world has changed? Of course I am, there is a part of me that is very pro First Amendment, and very independent as a woman, but there is a part of me that wishes for that world where we were polite, and people were admired for actually accomplishing something… sometimes it all makes me wish I was Betty Draper.”

Makeover by The Consort

Amen to that sentiment.

One nice thing about the book parties has to be the food, where else would one see Sperry cupcakes? (Thank you for the photo Miss Wendy!)

Wendy's Picture

And since we are talking about cupcakes we simply had to share these darling pink whales from the big party celebrating Vineyard Vines’ grand opening of its new store in Palm Beach Gardens.

Vineyard Vines Blog

We’ll have a look at some of the reviews for True Prep later this week.

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A quick note geared more toward the MOTH (Man of the House) in your life, the first involving a Princess fave, Bill’s Khakis.  In honor of its twentieth year in business, Bill’s is launching a special pair of khakis, the Camerton Twills.

Bill’s Khakis

A portion of proceeds will benefit the USO, another reason we adore Bill’s.  Our thanks to The Trad for the tip.

On that note we say g’bye until next time!

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Filed under Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, preppy lifestyle, Preppy People, True Prep & TOPH

What Khaki Says About You & Do What To A Preppy?

While the Princess takes a much deserved break she has asked me to engage our guests in conversation. I’m delighted because I have something I’ve been meaning to discuss. Khaki pants. Now you might think that is a fairly limited topic but something as versatile as a pair of khaki pants deserves a few moments of careful consideration. Pleats? Cuffs? Relaxed fit? We’ll touch on those points and discover what I think could well be the premier khaki trousers in the world.

Seen this look before? You certainly have. Likely on President GWH Bush. The pleated front is a more traditional cut than the flat front. It’s also more forgiving and there are many advantages to that as a gentleman ages. Something to think about: Excessive, voluminous pleats really serve no purpose other than to risk making a man look like a circus clown. There is great value in being subtle. The cuffs should range from an inch-and-a-quarter to a two-inch band. Always bear in mind that cuffs seem to work best for men with longer legs. The particular pair you see to the left are from Brooks Brothers. They are cotton-twill and could be yours for a mere $128. A bargain for a pair of pants that could well last for years. (photo Jeff Westbrook/Studio D)

How formal do you feel today? Do you put high value on a razor-sharp crease? Do you press your boxer shorts and socks? This is the look for you. The tab closure on these khaki trousers to your right creates an interesting, and sometimes valuable, optical illusion. If you have a waistline these pants will show off the results of all those crunches because the tab closure draws attention away from the buttons. Think of it as a decluttering device. Nice. I imagine these could be considered the most formal khakis. Depends on how sharp you like your creases. This is a great look and a steal at Dockers for just $70. (photo Jeff Westbrook/Studio D)

This is a look I love. Casual, unstructured and risky if you don’t have the body profile to pull off the look. These cotton trousers are from Gilded Age and are certainly worthy of your attention. They are slightly wrinkled and have a certain slouch that adds just a touch of panache. And that’s where the risk lies. There is a clear line between casual and sloppy. If you go down this style road you are best served to know which side of the line you are walking. Remember too that other people might see you on the other side of the line than you see yourself. Be careful out there… it’s a style jungle. Trousers from Gilded Age are $228 as shown. (photo Jeff Westbrook/Studio D)

You are more likely to see the khaki trousers to your right than any other style. They are a relaxed fit cut with wider legs and no creases. Comfort? Oh, yes. They are loose and easy to wear. Perfect for just about any casual occasion. Top off the look with some Sperry Top-siders in canvas or leather and you are making a confident fashion statement. The added bonus is that you can make this statement for a mere $49 thanks to your friends at Tommy Hilfiger. Time only serves to enhance the beauty of these trousers. A little fraying at the cuffs speaks volumes. (photo Jeff Westbrook/Studio D)

I promised you I’d make my pitch for the world’s best khaki. You and I both know that’s an opinion and if you have a different suggestion please include it in a comment. So here is my choice:

If you’ve never heard of this company then it’s time you did. Bills Khakis began as a bootstrap operation in inner-city Reading, Pennsylvania. They’ll tell you the rest of the story. Their clothing lines are sheer genius. The designs are true to the original military khakis. The trousers fit like a dream and wear like steel. You aren’t buying trousers – you’re making an investment and you’ll be glad of it. Trust me on this one.

BTW – want to make your own khaki trousers? Ask me how and I’ll send you a recipe.

I’m not sure how you were raised but I was always taught that it is impolite to kill people. I’m probably not in the minority on that point and for that we are all grateful. So how does one explain this?

This item was found on eBay. It has no bids. Proof that good taste will eventually win.

Thank you. The Princess is now stepping mikeside to entertain you. Good night.

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Filed under Prepalicious, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion