Musings on San Francisco Shopping and Other Stuff

Monday, January 08, 2007

Pixie Boutique Shut Down by Gang of Denim Thieves

Ever wonder how those fantastic True Religion jeans you just spotted in your favorite shop for $380 can be purchased on eBay for a mere $100? There are only two explanations: either they are knocks offs or they have been stolen.

The demand for high-fashion, high-priced denim has ushered in a new wave of crime where gangs raid small boutique stores that have significant denim inventory, and then resell it for 100 percent profit on places like eBay. Sadly, my North Beach favorite – Pixie Boutique – has been repeatedly robbed and has decided to shut down as a result.

Pixie Boutique, owned and operated by the lovely Amy and Carol, has been in operation for more than three years on the corner of Grant and Green in North Beach. They carry a small but carefully selected inventory that includes a few designers that I have yet to find at other shops in San Francisco. I have scored several of my favorite pieces at Pixie including a reversible Kristin Kahle belt, a beautiful three-color gold necklace by local designer Ashley Morgan and my super favorite alice + olivia pinstripe pants with gold piping.

Over the past year Pixie has been robbed of $40,000-worth of denim, with $30,000 of that happening in just one break-in during the 2005 holiday season when Pixie had stocked up for the Christmas rush.

The gangs first broke-in by busting out the large, signature Pixie windows after hours, which were soon replaced with shatter-proof glass. After the thieves unsuccessfully attempted to break-in by cracking the windows (which again had to be replaced) the gang then started rushing the store while they were open but no shoppers where in side. Owner Amy found herself on too many occasion alone and being “cased” by the gang, who would drive by slowly in a Mercedes without a license plate (often glaring at her in the process), before deciding if it was an opportune moment. The gang completed five successful robberies, and three unsuccessful ones. The police were never able to catch them.

It’s a sad fate for Pixie and the North Beach neighborhood and brings to mind the adage: buyer beware! Those “bargain” jeans you find on eBay come at a much higher price than you can ever imagine…

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Are Yellow Stains Leaving You in the Pits?

I, for one, have had to throw out too many dress shirts, tees, and tank tops before their time because of that ugly, disgusting yellow stain that magically appears around the armpit of white, grey and pink-colored clothes. I’ve recently found out that this is caused by a chemical reaction of sweat when it’s mixed with aluminum. (Who knew there was aluminum in antiperspirant?)

In an effort to save us from the pits (!) of despair Adidas has come out with a new “aluminum free” deodorant that claims to provide the moisture control of an antiperspirant in a formula that is 100% aluminum-free. I bought myself a stick, called Adidas Absorbent-Deo, and have been testing it for the last few weeks. I wore it several times with all of my favorite would-be-yellow-pit-stained tops – a white James Perse tee, a gorgeous white shirt dress shirt from Robert Rodriguez, and of course my pink Mandalay dress (see posting below), and it actually works! I’m a huge fan of my Suave antiperspirant, so I only use the Adidas on days when I’m wearing a shirt that is – as I call it – “at risk.” However, the aluminum-free option is supposed to be better for you, so all the more reason to use it. My only questions is – what took so long?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Getting a "New Look" from Rosalie

Trying to describe “Rosalie’s New Looks” is a bit like trying to describe the color blue to someone who is color blind, but I need to give it a shot because it is a truly one-of-a-kind shop. Rosalie’s New Looks is located on the outskirts of North Beach at 782 Columbus at Mason and is owned and operated by Rosalie herself, along with her husband, her daughter and a resident cat. I must begin by saying that Rosalie clearly named her store several decades ago, because there is nothing “new” about Rosalie’s look, personal or otherwise. She dons a bouffant fall (sometimes only partially attached), thick black eyeliner and sky-blue eye shadow. Her store reflects her throw-back style with its plethora of men’s and women’s wigs (with the bouffant as the house specialty) along with a selection of over-the-top, statement-making vintage women’s garments from the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s.

Rosalie has a penchant for all things sparkly, funky and trendy, during their time, and the store is packed from floor to ceiling with these gems. The store carries only a partial selection of its clothing in the main area, but tell Rosalie what you’re looking for and she’ll rummage through her huge selection of garments in the basement, leftover from her the vintage clothing store she used to have across the street, to get you what you need.

Rosalie’s husband (who is about half of her size) can usually be found quietly combing wigs at one of the two beauty stations while her daughter, who is a rock-n-roll version of her mother with a few less teeth, does hair and custom wigs styling as well as beards and moustaches at the second station.

As with most used clothing stores, Rosalie’s has a unique odor. (Combine used clothes with decades of hair styling product and a cat box – what do you expect?) But what is unexpected is that Rosalie’s cash register is her ample bosom, so don’t be surprised when she dips into her bra for change. The credit card machine has been broken for years.

Rosalie’s New Looks is anything but boring with every piece just as unique and fabulous as the staff itself. Rosalie and team helped my husband and I pull together our award winning Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers Halloween costumes, providing me the dress, the handbag, two wigs and the a beard and moustache. I’m convinced that everyone should have a “Rosalie’s New Looks” in their neighborhood, but the fact that it’s one-of-kind makes it completely impossible, a bit of a tragedy, and me very thankful.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Look Like a Million Bucks in a Mandalay Dress

I've finally discovered how to look like a Hollywood starlet, and it’s easier and cheaper than you might think. The secret is Mandalay! It's an absolutely stunning line of special occasion dresses that are perfect for weddings, holiday parties or a night out on the town. Mandalay uses a combination of ribbing, lining and stretch-y fabric overlay to fit and flaunt the curves girls want to show, and hide the ones we don't. Many of the Mandalay dresses are adorned with just the right amount of rhinestones, sequins or embroidery to make them gorgeous without being over-the-top. I recently made my first Mandalay purchase at one of the few stores in San Francisco that carries this line – Paparazzi, located at 1424 Grant Avenue in North Beach. It's a pink lace cocktail dress with rhinestone detailing around the top and a gorgeous built-in back lace waistband that made me look skinnier than I was. The dress set me back around $900 -- a bargain since I looked like a million bucks. I've already worn it three times and I'll definitely have it my closet for years.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Extra, Extra! Scoop on a Net-a-Porter Sale!!!

My mole inside the fabulous couture net tailor Net-a-Porter has just tipped me off to a huge sale on a number of the CURRENT SEASON'S items - including Burberry coats, Chloe bags and Vera Wang cocktail dresses - that will be at 50 percent off! Markdowns will be effective Wednesday Oct. 25 in the evening and will run through 9am on Monday, November 6th. Simply go to, look for the "fall treat" icon and enter falltreat into the promotional code box at checkout to receive 50 percent off. I'm so there!

Fabulous New Concept Store - Neda by Bebe

I'm absolutely in LOVE with a new accessory store that has opened up adjacent to the Bloomingdales center in San Francisco called Neda by Bebe. It's named after Neda Mashouf - the vice chairman of Bebe stores - and it contains all of her favorite shoe and handbag designers, along with Bebe and its own Neda brand. This is the ultimate shopping destination if you want off-the-runway shoes and handbags from top designers, including Allison Burns (check out her new "Atomic" bag, named after Debbie Harry), Terry de Havilland, whose hard-to-find platforms are coveted by the ultimate fashionista Sienna Miller, along with to-die-for Giuseppe Zanotti evening shoes. Neda also has its own line of fashion footwear -- all hand made in Italy from fine Italian leather. The Neda line brings an added bonus - since there's only one store in the world you're bound to be the only one at the party wearing them!

Monday, October 09, 2006

My First Louis Vuitton Handbag

I’ve been ogling a Louis Vuitton handbag for months, visiting it at least three times in the store and looking it up online multiple times, however the HUGE price had kept me from the taking the plunge. My adoring husband, seeing my obsession, surprised me with the bag for my birthday! It’s the Manhattan GM, designed by Mark Jacobs. It’s a large doctor’s bag made with the signature Louis Vuitton canvas. It has two good-size pockets in the front with bold brass clasps and a wrap-around belt. I have to admit, I walk a bit taller when I’ve got my LV bag on my arm. It also gets me markedly better service and shops and department stores. Given Louis Vuitton’s classic styling and timeless design I hope to have this as the sole LV bag in my closet, with no need or desire to replace it. My next major bag purchase I want to be a different label, perhaps Chanel or Prada – but that’s someday far into the future when this bag is paid in full.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

West Coast Flagship Bloomingdale’s Store Comes to Downtown San Francisco

Nearly ten years in the making, last week my beloved Bloomingdales opened the doors on a gorgeous five-story flagship store in an old Emporium building right in the center of downtown San Francisco -- at Market and Fifth Street across the street from the Powell Street Cable Car turnaround. I was one of about 10,000 people waiting more than an hour for its not- so “exclusive” VIP opening on Wednesday, September 27 – a day before the general public was allowed in -- for a sneak peek. I’d anxiously awaited this day for more than two years ago, and was a bit disappointed upon my first encounter.

The basement had house wares including tabletop, linens and kitchen accessories. The first (and main floor) had shoes, cosmetics, jewelry and women’s accessories. The second floor offered traditional women’s designer labels including Chanel and Saint John. The third floor offered the trendier and more affordable brands including Diane Von Furstenburg, Nicole Miller, Theory, Nanette Lapore and Alice + Olivia. The top floor was men’s. Although beautiful, the new Bloomingdales offered all of the same brands that you can get at any number of stores in the surrounding Union Square area, including the four major department stores (Nordstrom, Macys, Saks, Neiman Markus) just blocks away. I did leave with my wallet a bit lighter and a gorgeous Nicole Miller overcoat and four James Pearse t’s, albeit a bit disheartened that I had seen it all before. I was hoping that Bloomingdales would bring some of the less obvious brands to the fifth department store in the neighborhood, but alas, a big department store is, after all, a big department store.

Local San Francisco shops – including Pixie, Two Skirts and Oceana Rain – can trust that locals and fashionistas alike will not be swayed by this new piece of eye candy. Under the glitz and glamour, Bloomingdales is just the like the rest. Local shops with new labels and fresh designers will still have my heart and my business.