Prepping for Fashion Week 2008

The usual heels, but knock off the complaining

I cross the street and visit Express, where I am never even vaguely tempted to buy anything. Here I find the first leather motorcycle jacket of the season, an item with a curiously circuitous recent history: Kate Moss, who is idolized as a fashion maverick for mixing couture pieces with thrift-shop finds, included one of these jackets in her Topshop collection last fall, and everyone loved it. As I recall, it was around $300. For fully 10 times as much, Balenciaga has a similar jacket (OK, so the leather is softer) hanging on the rack at Barneys this season. And now here it is again, at Express, for a perfectly serviceable $248.

Last but not least, I toddle over to Forever 21, another place where I've never purchased anything, namely because 1) if you like something in the window, you can never find it in the store, and 2) everything is very tiny. (Could this because I am 90 years older than the average Forever 21 shopper?) As ever, the geniuses behind this place manage to combine trends in an effortless fashion—a plaid pleated skirt has a swirl of black lace extending from its hem; a polka-dot peasant blouse is a ghostly cousin of Gucci and Dries.

Unlike the other stops on my brieftour, Forever 21 seems to have jumped on another fall trend, with red-white-and-blue tote bags that say "Vote," a faux-faded T-shirt sporting the legend "Freedom Rocks," and, for a highly affordable $10.80, a slender, silky purple tee decorated with a peace symbol that would go far in sexing up a pair of slack trousers or a skinny skirt on a certain Tuesday in November.

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