Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Let's Swag: Fashion Week and Fall Freebies

The Fall season is a great time for swag. I struck goodie bag gold several times during Fashion Week and the freebies keep on coming. Here's a list of my favorites:

1. The Ottavia et Emma party at the Bryant Park Hotel: I went on a whim with my party-hearty friend Adena. I'd been invited by the event publicist, but neglected to RSVP since the 9 p.m. start time was past my self-imposed party curfew. When we arrived at the hotel entrance, we were greeted by a long line of hopefuls. That didn't stop us. As soon as the security guard turned his back, we bypassed the line and slipped in. So far so good. Once we reached the actual doorway to the party, however, a second imposing security guard asked to see our wristbands, which of course we didn't have. A bit dejected, I started up the stairs and was homeward bound. Then I saw Bryce, the publicist who invited me to the event. I told her I forgot to RSVP and she said no problem.

She asked, "Did you get a gift bag?"

"No," I replied, shocked that she would so freely offer a gift bag.

"Did you want a gift bag?" she responded.

"Are you kidding?" I thought to myself, and said "YES" aloud.

We followed Bryce past the security guard who turned us away just minutes ago. Bryce motioned, "They're with me." I've rarely felt so V.I.P. Inside, the scene was impossibly crowded and we didn't linger long. A photog snapped our picture holding our generous gift bags, which included a black Ottavia et Emma canvas tote (I've been carrying it nonstop); a cute, long sleeved black Ottavia et Emma t-shirt; a Chambord sample (love those); and beauty products from Elizabeth Grant, O.P.I., and Gotham Skincare.

2. The Budget Fashionista fifth anniversary bash at Housing Works: As soon as I got in, a friend told me free jeans were being given away in the back of the store. I nearly knocked a couple girls over as I made a bee-line for the jeans, courtesy of Fashion Bug's "Right Fit" line. The jeans cater to each woman's body type ("Right Fit Red" is for moderately curvy women; "Right Fit Yellow" is for women with a straight shape from hip to waist; and "Right Fit Blue" is for curvy women with full hips), and using the forgiving system I'm a comfortable size 7. The night was full of other fun giveaways including an "I Love Shoes" canvas tote bag from Payless filled with plush thong slippers, Dashing Diva nail polish, and a copy of "How to be a Budget Fashionista."

3. Bond No. 9 "Andy Warhol" samples: I can't express how much I love Bond No. 9 perfume. I discovered the brand's popular "Bryant Park" scent a few seasons ago and have been a fan ever since. So I was thrilled when I scored a handful of samples of the brand's newest fragrance, "Andy Warhol," outside the tents during the Spring 2009 shows. I sounded like Britney as I pleaded with the kids handing out the samples to "gimmee more!"

4. Bag Trends "Arm Candy" party at Union Square Ballroom: Fashion Week is over, but the swag keeps on coming. I went to this handbag event and came home with a $50 gift certificate from Bag Borrow or Steal (renamed Avelle) of "Sex and the City" movie fame. You can rent designer bags for a week, a month or longer for a reasonable fee. You can also purchase used merchandise from the "Outlet" section on Avelle.com. With my gift certificate I "stole" a gently used gold clutch bag by BCBG (marked down 75 percent to $45). I also received a $25 gift certificate for Shoebuy.com and ordered a much needed pair of stylish and sensible loafers by Naturalizer. My Mom will be proud.