Is NOW a good time to buy real estate? Depends on where you are.

The cool thing about covering retail and consumer spending is that I get to stories on industries like real estate. And... truth be told, for the past 6 months I'be been hunting around for a place to purchase here in NYC. To say it's been difficult is an understatement. More on that later (I promise) but for now, check out the segment I did for MSNBC's The Cycle on this subject. From my extensive research and first hand knowledge, I discovered the following: 1) It all depends on where you want to buy. 2) The housing market is in direct correlation with employment. 3) Currently the market seems to be indicating that people are buying and building. 4) People are purchasing in "trophy" cities like New York, Miami & LA. Chicago is not included on the list.

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The Style File Daily Cheat Sheet

This Weekend's High Temps, J Woww's Fashion Sense, Hot Weather Clothing, Recycle NYC, and Givenchy Couture.

(wwd)Heat wave: what NYC wore when it hit 105°.

WWD has a recap of what NYC wore when NYC experienced the hottest weather in a long time. long maxi dresses,floral sun dresses, straw hats and SHORT shorts were among some of the fashion choices this weekend. Here's a slideshow of more pictures if you need ideas for the rest of the week, it's going to be a scorcher!

(wwd)Hot Times at Retail: Soaring Temps Drive Consumers to Stores

"Consumers throughout the Eastern U.S. sought relief from record-breaking temperatures Tuesday any way they could — including going shopping. As the thermometer topped 100 degrees in Manhattan and elsewhere, retail executives said traffic to their air-conditioned stores and malls was heavier than normal. Even the bedbug-plagued Hollister store in SoHo, which reopened Saturday, saw a large influx of consumers. The searing heat followed the warmest July 4th weekend since 2007 and the third-warmest June in 50 years. And the heat wave was forecast to continue through at least Friday, when temperatures are expected to dip to the more-normal mid-80s. Over the weekend, businesses in the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. experienced double-digit increases of seasonal purchases compared to the coldest 2009 period in a decade, according to Planalytics, which analyzes and publishes the weather’s impact on retail. While consumers on the West Coast were still waiting for summer to start and holding off on seasonal purchases, other shoppers were able to think about fall wardrobes and even boots — despite the heat. Retailers said that the gain in traffic and sales will likely last as long as the heat wave — a much-needed boost as consumers’ reluctance to spend increases along with unemployment and fears of a second recession. Cold water is likely to be splashed on retailers’ recent good mood on Thursday when stores report comparable-store sales that, while expected to show growth, also will stir concerns over margins and rising inventories going into the key back-to-school season. “We had high double-digit increases,” said Susan Davidson, president and chief executive officer of Scoop. “East Hampton was off the charts. They’re buying fall early, driven by designers like Azzedine Alaïa, Missoni, Michael Kors, Phillip Lim and Marc Jacobs. We’re selling Chloé shoes and boots. Also, swimwear, shorts and little dresses.” She said business was “off to a good start” on Tuesday." read more

(nbc)Pret-A-Re-Porter: NYC Launching Massive Fashion Recycling Program

Starting in September, New York City will launch one of the largest textile recycling initiatives in the nation. The aim is to make it easy to donate clothing, almost as easy as throwing it away. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans pitch almost 10 pounds of socks, jeans, shirts and sheets per year, per person. In New York, where 190,000 tons of textiles entered the city's landfills in 2008 alone, the plan would place 50 collection bins in high-traffic areas. "I moved three times in the last five years, and each time I ended up throwing away clothes," says 25-year-old Tracy Feldman. "It is just too hard to haul it all over the city. If there was a bin on my block, I wouldn't hesitate to recycle them." The city is taking bids for a 10- to 15-year contract with a nonprofit company that will be responsible for the bins. Goodwill Industries International is one of the companies bidding on the contract. "There has not been another program like this that we know of," said Goodwill spokesman Alfred Vanderbilt. "We think they are being very creative and we hope this sets a new standard." A Goodwill Industries survey of 600 adults in the United States and Canada found that more than half of people who donate clothing say they wouldn't go more than 10 minutes out of their way to make a donation. Robert Lange, the director of the Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling in New York, said his department discovered the same problem. "You can open a black bag at the landfill and see what looks like new clothing," he said. "It is easier to throw it out than recycle." Not all used clothing can be recycled into usable clothing — take those old, stinky sneakers and torn clothing. But that doesn't mean those items can't be donated. While Goodwill is mostly looking for clothing that can be resold, there are ways to recycle even the old tattered pieces. At Wearable Collections, a New Jersey-based textile recycling company, almost half of donations are good for resale, according to the owner. The other half is split nearly evenly between being used for rags for businesses like the automotive industry and being broken down for insulation. Less than 5 percent of the total is unusable and goes to the landfill. Officials say that if New York's campaign is successful, it could lead to a nationwide movement to recycle clothing." read more

(dailymail)J not so Woww! (we'll spare you the pictures)

Not that we would want to give her any more publicity for horrible clothing, but we are giggling a bit about the launch of her new line. When we ran into her at Fashion Week back in Feb. 2010 and couldn't stop gawking at her skin-tight clothes, we were slightly curious (just slightly) to see if she would actually follow through with her own line. Not quite sure if you would call this an accomplishment however.

"With her skimpy bikinis, tight miniskirts and plunging dresses, she's not exactly known for her sophisticated sense of style. And JWoww's new  'Filthy Couture' fashion line may have a looked a little trashy to some at its Las Vegas runway show. Models sashayed down the runway in tight padded lace mini dresses, ripped white jeans and clashing corset-style tops with plunging necklines. The Jersey Shore star's range of swimwear looked a little like lingerie, with chains added to one bikini and another decorated with black lace. 'For the bathing suits I wanted to go with a grungy, or sexy-grungy look with the chains, but I also wanted to keep it girly with the lace,’ JWoww explained to, adding that she found her runway debut ‘very unreal.’ The 23-year-old star sported a low cut pink lacy dress - her own design - at the event, held at Vegas hot spot Ghost Bar. ‘I’ve had this vision for a long time, and I’ve been in school for seven years doing it but I never thought it would come true.’" read more

A Couture Treat: New from Givenchy

Givenchy Fall 2010 Couture

"Death, religion, sensuality. Provocative topics for cocktail conversation, and for fashion, as well. As starting points for Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci, the themes made for an arresting, finely honed collection. Tisci’s three-part motif stemmed from what the designer called the three obsessions of Frida Kahlo (whose 103rd birthday is today, for those into such coincidences.) The artist’s fascination with the Mexican Day of the Dead inspired the skeletal lace tracings that recurred throughout the tight, 10-look lineup, delivering ample bravura."

Pictures from last night.

hitha-and-andrewAndrew and me

hitha-jen-and-andrew Me, the always handsome Andrew and the ever amazing Jen.

A fun fact about me: every night I have about three events I have to go to. Another fun fact about me: I usually go to the ones I absolutely MUST be at. Last night was one of those nights that wasn't a work obligation, meet and greet or something I was covering. It was just a fun night with my close friends. I loved it.

Everybody get Rowdy.

No, seriously. Dallas Austin's new-ish/re-launched collection "Rowdy" definitely makes you want to scream in good and bad ways. Rowdy is hitting stores just before the x-mas retail non rush and it's sort of forward thinking for someone whose roots aren't really in fashion. I spent a lot of time talking with Dallas about why he decided to re-launch Rowdy and why in the world he decided to open up a retail store when retail is suffering so badly and his response was "because my gut was telling me to do it." Okay.  While I'm not sure if opening a store and launching a collection is necessarily the best thing to do in this economic environment, I do admire Dallas for his drive and his unconventional way of doing things. Hello-he's a music and business genius! He must be doing something right.  Also, did you know his musical influences are mostly in rock and alternative? Think Bauhaus (shout out to Peter Murphy) The Cure, The Smiths, Joy Division, Sisters of Mercy and of course Alice and Chains? I almost fell over when he told me that. This collection, according to Dallas embraces all of that. Hmm.

OK I know what you are thinking. How can this POSSIBLY encompass anything 120 minutes-esque? Well, to be honest it doesn't. But there is a sort of ZZ Top/"Diddy runs the City" look and feel to it. I liked it.

My personal favorite- men's underwear with a pocket for God knows what on them. I'll leave it up to your imaginations.

Sneakers with instructions on how to roll a "blunt" on the side (Mom, if you are reading this I will explain what a blunt is later.)

I kind of dig the lightning bolt t-shirts. I wonder if Dallas will let me design lightning bolt headbands for him...

Yay Dallas!

Yay Jen!!

Zurich to NYC.

Why, oh why couldn't Swiss Air just route me through London to NYC?  This was my re-occuring thought before, during and after my flight back to Zurich. By the time I got to the Swiss Air terminal to catch my flight home I looked and was a train wreck after five straight days of no sleep and a CRAZY schedule. How do these execs. go globe trotting for weeks at a time?? Bananas! PS, Thank GOD for the Swiss Air lounge. I took over two couches, had five newspapers all around me and was typing away crazy e-mails to Liz Vap while laying down. It was PERFECTION.

The stairs to the Swiss Air lounge. Just. One. Escalator. Away.

Homeward bound. Finally.

Only in NYC.

[redacted] (11:19:40 AM): oh my god
[redacted](11:19:51 AM): there is a hipster guy outside my place
[redacted] (11:19:58 AM): smoking body
[redacted] (11:20:01 AM): with just pants on
[redacted](11:20:04 AM): screaming
[redacted] (11:20:15 AM): yelling at his girlfriend
 (11:20:19 AM): on something
Hitha(11:20:33 AM): what??
Hitha (11:20:34 AM): omg
Hitha (11:20:39 AM): what was he saying? was he freaking out?
[redacted] (11:20:57 AM): yeah
[redacted](11:21:03 AM): i was about to call the police
[redacted] (11:21:06 AM): but he is attractive



I love this picture. This was taken a couple weekends ago when my best friend Nicole (in the middle) the world famous and uber talented fashion photographer Abbey Drucker and I went out and then to  EN Japanese Brasserie for a little late night din-din.  Nicole is one of my best friends from college and like family. Because she lives in LA, it's hard for me to see her often, but lately we've seen a lot of each other and I am so thankful for that. I love spending time with Drucker too- she is beyond awesome.

How the Stars Partied Before the VMAs

With the MTV Video Music Awards on Thursday night, stars including Jessica Simpson, Vanessa Minnillo and Justin Timberlake have been in New York City all week to host parties, hit the clubs and collect swag from celebrity suites. Though the awards will be at Radio City Music Hall (check out the nominees here), PEOPLE hit all the hot pre-VMA events – which are sometimes as memorable as the show itself:

During the day on Tuesday at Marquee, celebs swarmed the Polaroid Lounge, cruising for the perfect freebee:Vanessa Minnillo sipped champagne while booking through the suite in a mere 15 minutes. Why? She was late for work. Still, she collected gear including a camera and a Sidekick, which may come in handy for keeping in touch with Nick Lachey when he's on the road.

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