Tag Archives: fashion

Rubber Rip-offs: Designer Labels Selling Melissa Knock-offs!

11 Jul

A few days ago, I was checking out several clothing sites when I took a double take on the shoe page. I saw soooo many shoes that looked awfully familiar, but with slight modifications. I realized quite quickly that these pieces were Melissa knock-offs, though ironically (in some cases) with higher price tags than those of the famous Brazilian brand. What’s more shocking is that I found some of these fakes on the sites of major labels. I’m accustomed to companies like Forever 21 copying brands for their lines, but high-end retail brands? Not so much. The question remains whether or not it’s flattery or the worst case of fakery. Only the courts will tell.

the real deal:

Melissa “Harmonic” Sandal ($25 – 50 USD)

Melissa “Bow” Sandal ($25-50 USD)

the fakes:

Valentino (yes, THAT Valentino), $295

Valentino, $102

the real deal:

Melissa Star Sandal (around $50-75)

the fake:

Marc by Marc Jacobs (I love this shoe, but it’s kind of a copycat), $140

the real deal:

Melissa x Alexandre Herchcovitch “Scarfun” Heels ($60-130 USD)

the fakes:

Gucci, $280


the real deal:

Melissa x Jason Wu ($50-100 USD)


Melissa x Vivienne Westwood “Lady Dragon + Bow” (price TBA)

the fakes:

Ted Baker, $69


– Retail DJ



What To Wear To the Sunday Summer Party

8 Jul

I’ll admit, those infamous rooftop parties on summer Sundays are not my fave. But now, they are a dime a dozen. Every restaurant, club, hotel, and even gym has at least one a month (though usually more) that your transitional friends (you know, the ones who just got into a serious relationship, marriage, or “the family way”) REALLY want to go to. Ao fim das contas, they are weird! The lights stay on. The mosquitos are everywhere. And what’s worse? Nobody really knows what to wear. The latter is a completely understandable wardrobe obstacle that I am going to tackle right.now.

1. It’s a Sunday. When I hear “Sunday,” I think “Church.” Apparently so do a lot of other people going to parties on Sundays because they get wayyyyy too formal. Don’t do that folks. The only praising Jesus you’re going to do at a Sunday summer party (SSP) is singing along with the black gospel shouter in some house track.

2. These parties often start mid-day and go until about midnight, complicating the day/night dichotomy. It’s not like you’re going to change clothes (and possibly makeup) mid-party, right? What to do about this…

3. They are outside. And in the summer in NYC, this means they are hot. Ain’t no AC on the roof, my friends. You want to dance, but you know that means you’ll sweat and your anxiety over this increases because all the lights are still on and there are still friggin photographers at these parties and…. and… ay caramba! calma.

4. You have work the next day, so unlike a regular nighttime weekend party, you can’t get tipsy and feel more confident in your get-up. You have to LOVE what you choose to wear and own it, possibly sans alcoholic assistance.

5. Finally, you can’t go ovaries out skank to SSPs because at the end of the day, you might see your boss or a co-worker or some person you have to network with because they tend to just be like that. These parties are not your run of the mill weekend fare, even though the promoters want you to think that. You DO have to dress a little nicer, but I’m not saying Easter Sunday nice (see above)

All that said, here are my thoughts on what may ameliorate a little of that SSP wardrobe anxiety.

1) Wear flats, but the cool kind. You might be there all day (again, they trick you because you drink less, and thus remain fairly aware of the time that has passed, but these parties last 12 hours, thus distorting your sense of the usual 4-6 hours of partying, max). Trust me, your feet will thank you.

Asos Lotus Flower Ballet Flats, $46.40 USD

Cooperative Applique Flats, Urban Outfitters, $34.99

Polished by the Waves Flat, ModCloth, $64.99

2) It’s going to be hot, so don’t wear something super tight. Think in proportions. If wearing separates, try a tight leg and a loose top or vice versa. If a dress, go for something a little airy. It doesn’t mean you have to look like a hippie, either. You can be sexy and comfortable at the same time.

Nine DXC dress, Uniqlo, $29.99 USD (only available in stores)

Belissima Dress, Shabby Apple, $78.00 USD

Strappy Contrast Dress, Forever 21, $22.80 USD

3) For makeup, choose a natural, more dewy style with iridescent highlighting and one dark line on your eyelid (where your lashes start). Choose a color one shade darker than you natural eye color (i.e. if you have green eyes, choose a brown; brown eyes, choose black). By going this route, your face will be ready for day and night without the hassle of stressing over the transition.

here’s a tutorial for “bronze”

and one for a more “natural” dewy look

– Retail DJ

What’s Old Is New Again

7 Jul

fica de olho, literalmente, nas feiras de antiguidades (keep your eye on the antique fairs, literally)!

In the past decade, Brazil has undergone drastic economic transformations that have led to an increase in the size of its middle class. This segment of Brazil’s population has used its buying power as a means of self-definition, with mass consumerism as evidence of not only their existence, but also their success. Though new name-brand electronics, homewares, and clothing are high on the wish lists of Brazil’s nouveaux riches, old items have emerged as the signs of true taste.

Labels remain a marker in one’s class status, as many imported goods and clothing brands such as Zara, Tommy Hilfiger, LG, and Apple remain inaccessible to a large majority of Brazilians. The Brazilian government insists on high import taxes to keep demand for foreign goods relatively low and protect its domestic market, though in recent years it has steadily encouraged its population to experience the world with both their eyes and their wallets. Subsequently, foreign marcas (labels) have lost a degree of their exclusivity among the pre-existing middle to upper classes. Additionally, the emergent avante-garde of college-educated, city-dwelling young people have contributed greatly to this process as they have sought to challenge the style status quo by establishing their own alternative.

the booth for Godoy Arte e Antiguidades

Style, in today’s terms, does not lie in an item’s newness, label, or location of origin. Instead, in large cities like Rio and  São Paulo, alternative youth subcultures and the “old” middle class have come to valorize vintage wares and antique furnishings over the often cheaply made newer options. This taste, however, has a high price-tag of its own, with many of the items costing well above their foreign counterparts, a reality that antiques specialist André notes is only somewhat eased by the internet. “You can go on the internet now and find an item sold somewhere else for less,” he noted. “Sometimes when we do pricing, we have to keep this in mind.” I met Andre at São Paulo’s famous Feira de Antiguidades (Antiques Fair) in Praça Benedito Calixto. His booth stood out among many of the others as it contained countless collectibles connected to one of my favorite subjects: music. He had record players and grammaphones in excellent condition for their age, all of which he restored himself.

André’s beautiful antiques booth

Curious about how André and other antiques connoisseurs acquired their goods, I spoke with several dealers behind the booths. Many had taken the items off the hands of those who had lost love ones and simply did not know what to do with their old goods. “In some cases, a relative dies and someone in the family will come here to sell their old things,” André noted. Andre, who declined to give his last name as he felt his goods spoke better for themselves than he ever could, also buys and sells items from his home by appointment. Other traders like Pedro Amorim, prefer to use the internet to acquire their goods. “I buy lots of things from the internet, but I sell there as well.” Pedro, whose collection of colorful restored rotary phones caught my eye immediately, is not afraid to use the computer as a point of trade. His page on Mercado Livre (a Brazilian site similar to eBay and Amazon) is always fully stocked, and his customers pay a pretty penny for his fluorescent phones; each one sells for R$200 ($100 USD) a piece.

Pedro Amorim’s fluorescent phone collection

For others, consignment sales came about through a personal hobby or out of love for all things vintage. Husband and wife team Thomas and Elizethe fill their Saturdays with booth sales in vintage clothes and accessories. Their all-leather vintage purse collection was a true standout. Each piece was in excellent condition and Elizethe had even upgraded some of the bags to include secret pockets for one’s cell phone or mp3 player.

Thomas standing with his vintage clothing collection

But vintage and antiques sales are not limited to Saturdays in Pinheiros, the neighborhood that is home to the Praça Benedito Calixto. In fact, there is at least one feira das antiguidades in all the major cities in Brazil. In Rio, the most popular antique fair takes place at Praça XV in Centro. Amidst skyscrapers and new buildings, vendors sell items from as far back as the early 1800s. Booths upon booths are filled with old coins, jewelry, clothing, and even military supplies! There are also sections along the margins of the fair where antique traders sell furniture in all conditions (as some buyers want to do the restoration work themselves). In addition to the fairs, there are several malls where you can find brechó (vintage) stores galore, such as the Galeria Ouro Fino in São Paulo or Shopping Cidade Copacabana in Rio.

brincos de pressão (clip-on earrings) from Rio and São Paulo

Though I have my own motives for attending these fairs (I am building a collection of clip-on earrings from each of the places I travel; see above), they are lots of fun to check out even if you have no intention of making a purchase. They are great places to learn more about a country’s history just by looking at artifacts from the past and excellent locations for people watching. Their food stations, complete with yummy lanches (snacks/quick bites) from various regions of Brazil, will keep your stomach happy as well!

If you’re ever in Rio or São Paulo, I highly suggest giving these antique fairs and stores a go:

São Paulo:
Feira de Antiguidades de Praça Benedito Calixto; Pinheiros
every Saturday from 9 am to 7 pm

Feira de Antiguidades de Paulista (aka “Feira do MASP” (Museu de Arte de São Paulo)), Avenida Paulista, 1578; Bela Vista
every Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm

Galeria Ouro Fino, Rua Augusta 2690; Jardim Paulista
Monday through Saturday from 8 am to 8 pm

Rio de Janeiro:
Feira de Antiguidades de Praça XV; Centro
every Saturday from 8 am to 2 pm

Feira do Rio Antigo, Rua do Lavradio; Centro
first Saturdays from 10 am to 6 pm

Shopping Cicade Copacabana, Rua Siqueira Campos, 143; Copacabana
check site for individual store hours

– Retail DJ

F is for Frocks

26 Feb

Sheena Matheiken of the Uniform Project (http://theuniformproject.com)

Let’s face it: the weather is cray cray. It’s been snowing, raining, and sunny all in one week, which means getting dressed in the morning can be a bit challenging. What works best is layering of course, but adding layers doesn’t mean dressing in a collage of dull sweaters, long-sleeve shirts, and hoodies. You can dress-up your layers by mixing and matching short dresses with fun legwear, tanks, cardigans, and accessories in a whole host of colors. And don’t forget, cotton is your best friend during these awkward temporal transitions. This way, when weather swings you a curveball, you can shed a layer or two but still look great while remaining seasonally appropriate!

Here are some of my cross-seasonal favorite frocks:

1. “Fine in Dots and Lines” from Modcloth, $55 USD

2. “Brush Strokes Skater Dress” from ASOS Curve, $57 USD

3. “W’s Ponte Sleeveless Dress” from Uniqlo, $50 USD

4. “Silence and Noise Striped Bustier Dress” from Urban Outfitters, $59 USD

5. “Otta Dress” from Anthropologie, $168 USD

6. “Mariposa Grove” from Shabby Apple, $86

and for an all-weather party look:

Victoria Peplum Dress from Nasty Gal, $58 USD



– Retail DJ

Galeria Melissa Hits NYC!

23 Feb

Galeria Melissa SOHO ad campaign

Maybe I was sleeping under a rock, but I somehow missed the Melissa, the Brazilian plastic shoe line with which I can safely say I am fully obsessed, has opened an NYC store! I thought I was seeing things when I noticed the ads for a Galeria Melissa Soho store on the subway platform last night, but indeed, it’s true. The store opened February 8th!

While I’m an avid fan of its Sao Paulo store, I’m excited to see there is one just a stone’s throw away from Brooklyn in downtown Manhattan. Soho has always been the center for flagship stores for innovative clothing and accessory lines, but some of them haven’t fared well. Hopefully Melissa can “bring it,” and weather the storm with the brightness of its quirky rubber/plastic/pvc magic. My suggestion for its survival: frequent sales. As most of you may know, the US prices for Melissa shoes are a bit exorbitant, hence my hoarding pieces I buy at the Sao Paulo store (when I am in Brazil, of course) or via Brazilian friends. I pay up to 70% less when I buy them in the B, so it’s worth it. It’s also nice to get pieces “off-season” because they are usually heavily discounted. Doing that here might be a bit challenging, but I’ll see if I can work my magic.

As promised via the Retail DJ facebook page, here is my write-up on the newest collection: Plastic Paradise

This fall/winter collection (remember, southern hemisphere = opposite seasons) features a contrast of dark colors with lots of shimmer. Unlike previous collections, which relied primarily on texture differences to set itself apart from the summer lines, this fall/winter collection brings on the bling. Lots of pieces include a “basic” shoe and its naughty “glitter” doppelganger. This collection also features plenty of daytime pieces, included the adorable boat shoe “Moon” and the sleek cutout “Jean,” on which the company collaborated with designer Jason Wu to create. The line is fun, yet sophisticated, and overall left me with a ton of favorites. Here are my top picks:

01:45 "Star" (in pink)

I love the clean lines and soft colors this season for “Star,” a modified gladiator sandal perfect for spring and summer.

02:40 "Jean + Jason Wu" (in yellow)

I’m equally enamored with this cut-out skimmer by Jason Wu, which I could imagine contrasting very well on medium to dark skin or even with dark hosiery to help transition the shoe for a fall wardrobe.

03:16 "Mulher Maravilha" ("Wonderwoman") (in blue)

I always coveted the red, pointed-toe version of the Wonderwoman Melissa shoe released a few years back! Now they’ve create a version with a more subtle silhouette at the toe box, this time a slightly rounded point, and produced the piece in darker colors appropriate for fall/winter.

03:57 "Virtue" (in leopard)

A loafer in leopard print? LUV. It’s funky yet work-appropriate. It also comes in brightly colored leopard prints as well (i.e. this shimmery turquoise style). And let’s be honest, an eco-friendly style sure beats the traditional horsehair versions!

04:30 "Moon + Jason Wu" (in green)

Another loafer in bright colors, care of Jason Wu, whose collaborations with the line have breathed new life into more traditional pieces. These work for all ages and are super comfy!

06:20 "Virtue Special" (in gold)

When I saw these, I immediately thought, “If Elton John were a shoe designer…” This super star of a slip-on is truly fun and comes in gold, silver, and many other glitter-laden styles.

05:32 “Ultragirl Glitter” (in pink)

Another glitter fave, this version of Ultragirl pushes the limits and is eerily reminiscent of Dorothy’s ruby slippers. There’s no place like Galeria Melissa!

06:25 "Electric" (in gray)

This flocked heel reminds me of a shoe I wore to a high school dance, only now with a little more edge. This punky yet formal heel encourages even the more subdued of us to find our inner vixen. It’s sexy, no-nonsense.

07:15 :"Celestial" (in yellow)

At first glance, I thought of Rumplestiltskin, who would have rocked these bright mustard heeled oxfords without hesitation. They are quirky, but also work appropriate and come in a variety of colors and textures.

7:51 "Incense Glitter" (in gray)

And last, but not lease, the sweet “Incense” heel in glitter mode. This comfortable heel comes with a rounded toe in the front and a surprise in the back with its double bow accents at the heel. This line comes in plain colors as well, but I have to say the glitter version is my favorite.

If you’re in NYC, check out the Galeria Melissa SOHO: 102 Greene Street, NY, NY

– Retail DJ

The Power of Love

31 Jul

Famed Brazilian jelly-shoe line Melissa has a new collection out for (Brazilian) spring/summer 2012! It’s a light, super-feminine line with lots of pastels, dainty details, and even Disney villainesses. It’s quite a contrast to the fall/winter 2011 collection Time Code, which showed its allegiance to the slick, structured stylings of 80s business attire. The Power of Love collection, much like many fashion items for the American fall/winter season, pays homage to the 60s and 70s with shoes fitting for anyone from flower children to disco divas.

Here’s the video “footbook,” along with a few personal favorites + clothes that fit the bill. For those of you in search of looks for next summer (when they will hit American shores) or vacationing in Brazil in the spring/summer, these looks will certainly offer a little inspiration:

Power of Love Footbook:

My favorites + matching looks: 

look #1


sparkle & fade micro mini skirt, urban outfitters, $34 USD


john & yoko graphic tee, forever 21, $16 USD

look #2


rock star jeggings, old navy, $35 USD


go sweet racer tunic, modcloth, $55 USD


year-round cardigan, eddie bauer, $30 USD

look #3


diane von furstenberg bellancia silk jumpsuit, sakf fifth avenue, $375 USD


cinberblock necklace in silver, kiel mead jewelry, $120 USD

more faves:

Continue reading

Trendspotting: Neo-Frump

2 Mar

Frump Diplomacy

Though frills are in style for spring (much to my chagrin), there’s also another trend rearing its head this season. Much to my surprise, frump is in!

Frump chic has managed to revive itself from the ashes following the hipster burnout of tongue-in-chee 80s cheese. Though the librarian look isn’t for everyone, it’s certainly easy to accomplish, fairly inexpensive (vintage, vintage, vintage!), and not costume-y if paired with the proper accessories.

For example, if you wear a longer, loose skirt, be sure to add in high heels; for slightly shorter, knee-length skirts, wear flats or low heels. It’s great for those of us who are penny pinching because with the right adjustments and accessory changes, the look can easily go from day to night with ease, and will be appropriate to all situations, be they dressy or casual.

Midi Leather Skirt by Whistles (ASOS)


Royal Introduction Dress (Modcloth)


River Liffey Dress (Modcloth)

Anadyomene Cardigan (Anthropologie)

Suede Pump (Urban Outfitters)


– Retail DJ

%d bloggers like this: