Occasionally I devote a portion of my time to contemplate one of the great mysteries of human existence: "What's your personal style?" I feel like I must fabricate a precise definition, or hyphenated phrase, on the off chance that one of those elusive roving photographers/trend-seekers from In Style or Time Out NY, or even Seventeen, stops me to take my picture and make me tell them how much my clothes cost. The fact that saddens me most about any answer I might have for a style-conscious journalist is that, though I live in New York City, and work practically in SoHo -- world headquarters of bias-cut skirts and teeny-tiny shoes -- I insist on doing most of my shopping via catalog. And not even catalogs like J. Crew that make clothes for people in their 20-somethings. We're talking dELiA*s and Alloy.
As a high schooler in rural Maine I used to scowl down the racks of thrift store t-shirts at the groups of sophomore girls decked out in teen-catalog wear. (They all seemed to be sophomores... eternally sophomores.) I had baseball tees and ugly loud pants just like they did, but I had acquired mine through diligent hours spent at the Goodwill. They had taken the easy way out. "Posers," my girlfriends and I would snarl under our breaths.
Alloy has managed to work its way into my subconscious, its striped polos and chunky pink rings equating themselves in my mind with all my fantasies of a Rory Gilmore adolescence. Between its pages, dELiA*s holds the answers to all the mysteries of Bring it On, all the teen yearning that Paul Frank tees and Roxy jeans embody. Perhaps it's an attempt to regain the ultimate-sparkly-American-Teen-Experience that I denied myself with all my black eyeliner in high school. Or maybe it's just the irresistible power of jelly bracelets. At least I haven't started wearing big shoes. --Sarah Feuquay