Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Wide Legs and All, the Fourth

Still looking? Today is 4 in 1, four stores in one northern block of 34th Street between 5 and 6: Bebe, Express, Banana Republic, and Zara. Results vary, but, as usual, there’s no reason to leave the district empty-handed.

Get prepared to buy at Bebe even if you haven’t visited in ages. If the world’s least Rebecca Romijn-looking blogger can find clothing here, so can you. And if you like H&M’s big hat you’ll die for Bebe’s, or to be more exact you’ll pay about $50 more. It’s elegant in winter-white wool so good luck keeping this clean, but it looks incredible. Bebe’s jeans are well made and the fit is great for the rear view. But if you’re not into logo promotion, the blue wash denim with the silver metal patch ($129) isn't for you. Instead try the dark wash wide-leg with back pocket contrast stitching (also $129). And the blouse? For $79 it's irresistable in silk and just enough spandex to keep you snag-free on the subway, even while toting a big bag.

We love you Express! Once an integral part of every girl's gloried teenage mall years, and now a great source for work pants. Where else will we get our torn, sequined Flashdance shirts, um, I mean Editor jeans? These look good and are $69.50. The inseam is short on the jeans, but the black editor pant (right, $59.50) is longer and fits perfect. A great deal and an all-purpose pant.

The Banana cannot be visited without reminiscing fondly upon its safari days. Remember the jeep, the jungle beat, and the tropical flora? The clothes are practical as ever, just minus the rainforest trappings. This urban survival store has several jean options. No bells and whistles and the length, color and fit are all on target. The classic wide leg ($108) is soft, has a nice pocket detail and a pretty cuff that easily uncuffs. But don't you think Banana Republic should go retro on 34th Street, let the jungle reclaim the store so you can buy your jeans on safari? It could be nostalgic like a Kiss reunion but with khaki and monkeys instead of pyrotechnics and platforms.

Leave it to the Spanish to do WIDE-legs. Finally, not just flares or wider-legged, these Zara jeans are unabashedly big on the bottom. No, they aren’t bell-bottoms (see Spring 2008 Prada), because this cut has an even, broad fall. What style! But no one’s perfect, sometimes due to slightly itchy waist-bands and not totally great denim. For under $100 the trendy girl says defects, what defects? If you’re not that girl, Zara, of course, has other lovely finds, particularly in the jacket category. Try on the green plaid with the great collar. And Zara’s winter coats are so eminently buyable that they deserve your full attention for another day. Stay posted.

Bebe, 1 W. 34th Street, 212-594-8205
Express, 7 W. 34th Street, 212-629-6838
Banana Republic, 17 W. 34th Street, 212-244-3060
Zara, 39 W. 34th Street, 212-868-6551