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Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Look for Less - Gucci Crossover Mule Sandals

With their sturdy block heels, sporty stitching, and sleek leather finishes, the Gucci crossover mule sandals (a.k.a. Webby metallic crisscross sandals) first took the fashion world by storm as part of the Resort 2016 collection. In a myriad of modern colors including gold, shimmery pink, porcelain rose, and emerald, they've graced the feet of Miroslava Duma, Margot Robbie, Liu Wen and Solange Knowles. Fast forward to fall 2016, and these beauties are still shining brightly. They add instant glamour to a jeans and tee look, a fancy skirt and sweater combo, or a chic mini dress. I especially love this floral emerald style.

Gucci Crossover Mule Sandals Street Style

imagse via Pinterest

While the real deal may set you back about $595, there are tons of lower priced options.

Shop the real thing:

Here are my favorite styles at more affordable price points. Get the crisscross mule sandal look for less:

Monday, October 10, 2016

16 Expert Tips For How To Shop Kenzo for H&M

With the official release of the Kenzo for H&M lookbook today, fashion-hungry fans of the Parisian brand are able to see the collection in its entirety and are undoubtedly anticipating the November 3 launch at 250 H&M stores around the world and online. Now comes the hard part - selecting your favorites and counting down the days until we can get our hands on the colorful creations of Carol Lim and Humberto Leon. 

Preview the fun tiger prints:

kenzo h&m logo

Below, a look at my potential must-haves from the Kenzo for H&M lookbook. As someone who adores print and color, I'm drawn to the vivid florals and pattern mixing. Naturally, there are an abundance of tiger prints, dramatic silhouettes, and holiday-ready dresses.

Kenzo for H&M lookbook and shopping tips

Best outerwear:

Best accessories:

Here are my predictions for top sellers:

Here's what to buy for holiday gifts and items under $100:

Having shopped quite a few H&M collaboration launches in recent years, I'm sharing my shopping tips for how to score your Kenzo for H&M must-haves both in stores and online

October 22, 2016 update - See what's already for sale on eBay.

The Online Strategy

1. Learn the lookbook. Study the lookbook carefully to select your favorites, get outfit inspiration, and check the prices. 

2. Play favorites. Make a list or collage of your favorites to help you stick to your budget and prioritize your potential purchases.

3. Know when and how to shop. In the U.S., these collections launch online in the morning at a set time specified by H&M. In the U.S., they usually launch online at 8am EST. Unfortunately, the website has crashed in the past. Be extra prepared by using more than one web browser, mobile device, etc. Refresh your browser often and have patience. Expect some glitches and be persistent. Remember that patience is key. (If I was forced to choose between shopping online and in store, I'd shop in store. This allows you to try things on, see the sizing, and not have to deal with website glitches.) See H&M's tips on how to shop.

4. Save your info. As the time to shop online approaches, log onto hm.com and have your checkout and payment details saved ahead of time. Clear your cart of any items in order to streamline the checkout process. This reduces the chances of having your cart emptied of any out-of-stock items before you can click the "complete order" button.

5. Click quickly. Shop your top pick(s) first and s
ubmit your order right after placing in your cart. Do not shop and fill up your cart. Why? Once an item is in your cart, it's not reserved for you. In order to avoid an item being removed from your cart because it's sold out, you need to click quickly and complete your order! That's why I create a prioritized wish list and try to buy my top picks first. Online purchases are limited to one piece per style per person.

6. Stay social. Use social media channels such as Twitter and Instagram using #KenzoxHM for up-to-the-moment shopping updates, product info, and to connect with other shoppers. Find me on Snapchat, TwitterFacebook, and Instagram @thekeytochic for shopping photos, sizing info, and more. 

H&M store

The In-Store Strategy

1. Know where to go.  Plan your shopping well in advance. I've overheard people calling in sick to work just so they could get in line and shop. Be ready to stand in line on Wedneday night or early Thursday morning (see just how early in #3.) Once it's published, use the H&M store locator to find the H&M stores near you that'll stock the #KenzoxHM collection.

2. Phone it in. Be extra prepared by calling your local store the week before the launch to confirm if they'll carry the collection and ask them exactly where you should line up to shop.

3. Be an early bird. You know what they say about the early bird. Stores open at 8am (instead of 10am) on launch days. I've found in the past that if I arrive by 4am or earlier, then I'm able to get into the first or second shopper group. For example: for Lanvin, I arrived in line around 3am and I was #65 in line. For Marni, I arrived around 2am and was #27 in line (after several friends of shoppers arrived and took cuts in front of me.) For Isabel Marant, I arrived before 4am and lucky for me, I was in the first shopper group. For Margiela and Balmain, I was lucky enough to able to shop the fashion editor preview parties the night before the launch.

4. Play the waiting game and respect the line. For people wanting to shop the Women's merchandise, H&M reps will pass out color-coded wristbands to the first 420 people in line. They do this several hours before the store opens, with each shopper group consisting of 30 people. Each group of 30 shoppers is allowed fifteen minutes in which to shop the collection in a secure and sectioned-off area of the store. They are strict, and with good reason. The fifteen minute time slot goes by really fast, with employees calling out the time at five minute intervals. It's hectic, crazy, and dizzying. This poses a dilemma if you want to shop both Women's and Men's first thing because the Men's area is open to all shoppers at 8am. Note that all people can enter the store at 8am. In between shopper groups, employees rapidly replenish the merchandise in five-minute intervals. Oh, in case you're not awake yet, there's thumping loud music via a live DJ. Expect long lines at the fitting rooms and people hoarding whole racks of clothes in piles on the floor.

HampM wristband

5. Preparation is key (but first, coffee). I bring a blanket/pillow, cozy jacket, phone charger, and plenty of snacks/water to stay energized and comfortable while in line. Bring coffee if needed. I have seen people camp out overnight in tents to be first in line for these collabs. Crazy, yes, and dedicated! For people who live in large cities, I'd recommend going several hours before the store opens if you're really motivated to shop. It really depends on your schedule and how much sleep you're willing to sacrifice. In my experience, stock varies widely from store to store, with flagships in metropolitan areas carrying the best selection.

6. Bring a buddy. A family member, friend, or significant other might be able to help you get the pieces you want and help you make purchasing decisions. "Divide and conquer" should be your strategy! Arrange to meet in line at the same time or go to the store together so you're not cutting in line and you can be in the same shopper group for maximum teamwork. The Lanvin for H&M faux fur coat and embellished tee would not be mine if not for a dedicated boyfriend. The same goes for the Isabel Marant pour H&M fringe boots, and I feel really fortunate! 

7. Check for go-backs and barter. If your favorite pieces disappear from the racks in a flash, be courteous, be patient, and don't be afraid to chat with H&M employees and other shoppers to politely trade to get what you want! Just respect the rules that they have in store.

8. Know your limits. There are quantity limits per person on these collections (it's 2 items per style in stores and 1 item per style online) to prevent buying in bulk, and the return policy time frame is shorter (as little as 6 days for purchases made in stores). Be aware of these restrictions in order to prevent any buyer's remorse. See the full return policies for online and in store purchases (click "how to shop.") 

9. Persistence pays off. H&M does not restock these collections, but you can still score your favorites. If you don't find what you want after the launch, check back for returns in the coming days, as many shoppers take items back to the store. Accessories can't be returned for hygiene reasons, so select them carefully. How about that buyer's remorse? Don't forget to check the customer service desk and clearance racks for returns in early and mid November as well. Call your local stores to ask what they have in stock and use #KenzoxHM on social media to buy/trade with others.

10. Consider main line Kenzo instead. With inflated resale prices on eBay and other platforms after the launch, you can likely buy main line Kenzo and Kenzo on sale for less than the marked up resale prices. Consider shopping the real deal (especially on sale at the outnet) or the alternatives below if you aren't able to get your #KenzoxHM wish list items.

Shop these Kenzo alternatives:

Shop Kenzo:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fall 2016 Winter 2017 Fashion Trend Style Guide

Sorting through all the emerging fashion trends each season can be a dizzying endeavor. One minute it's kitten heels, and the next it's all about the block heel. For fall 2015, suede reigned supreme, but this fall, velvet is stealing the spotlight. To help you focus on the top runway and retail trends for the fall 2016 and winter 2017 season, I've narrowed it down to twelve must-have styles. These key pieces work whether you're a fashion worshipper and you live for trends (like me), or your style is more classic and you just want to dip your toes into a new trend for an easy wardrobe update. 

fall 2016 winter 2017 fashion trends
Velvet dress // beaded choker // military jacket // cape bodysuit // bomber jacket // off-the-shoulder blouse // block heel boots // patched denim // midi skirt // cat bag charm // flap backpack // loafers

Catch up with my fashion and shopping adventures on social media @thekeytochic.

See more trends:

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Look for Less - Miu Miu Lace Up Ballet Flats

Every so often, a shoe comes along and turns the fashion game upside down. Maybe it's an ankle boot, studded heel, or comfortable sandal. This time around it's the super stylish Miu Miu ballet flats. With their mismatched laces and tough-girl buckled details, they add just the right dose of attitude and edginess to the perennially chic ballerina flat. Plus, how cool is that gingham lace-up ribbon? It adds a D.I.Y. vibe to the shoe that's unexpected and playful.

Miu Miu Lace Up Ballet Flats street style, Miu Miu replica ballet flats look for less

photos via Pinterest

The popularity of these flats amongst the street style elite combined with the ballet-inspired fall 2016 collection by Valentino means that they are right on trend and they're sure to inspire many budget-friendly versions. The Miu Miu flats can range in price from around $550 for this style to $890 for this studded style, with most versions (like this silver one) priced at $620. 

Shop Miu Miu:

The Look for Less

If you want to indulge your inner ballerina, and you dream of twirling gracefully like Misty Copeland, but don't have the budget for Miu Miu, no worries.  There are many ballerina-inspired styles at lower price points. Bonus: you'll have enough money left over to get a tutu, buy a bodysuit, or take a barre class! 

Get the look for less:

Ballet flats: