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Holiday Shopping 2011: Worse Than Usual

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You know Frank—he's been writing about menswear, sales, television, new shops, the recession, Lisa Loeb, the Golden Girls and getting blasted for Racked for almost two years. Well, we think it's time you got to know him and his quirky-irreverent views on life and fashion even better with his column: Love, Frank. Taking the form of an open letter and always signed with love, Frank will rant about whatever style-related conundrum he encounters in a given week. So buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, it's going to be ? Something.

The crap carnival that is shopping on Broadway via New York Portraits.

Dear Holiday Shopping,

You suck.

Fact: Surprising friends and loved ones with something special—something so very them—is a joyful, gratifying, and satisfying experience.

Fact: Doing so during the holiday season—when you either feel obligated, no matter your financial situation, to purchase gifts for everyone you've ever met and/or guilty for not—sucks.

Usually, I get over that initial gift-buying hump by buying a little something gorgeous for myself. And, usually, it works—filling me with shopping adrenaline and even about two or three minutes worth of actual holiday spirit.

This year I had my eyes on some banded trousers at Marni that I realized I had waited too long to bring home—they were gone! Calls were made; a single pair was unearthed—in my size! A visit was planned, and ? and, well, they weren't trousers. They were knit. They were essentially cropped long underwear with no button, no fly, no back pockets. They were $390 long johns.

So, no selfish holiday kick-off purchase for me. But, you know, shake it off, get the job done: Christmas shopping!

Except, well, have you been hitting the same bumps in the holiday shopping road I have? Mainly, that there's nothing really that appealing in stores; and—at least in terms of clothing—there are already no sizes left anywhere. And I'm not just talking about Marni.

To wit: How is it possible that at online and at the several Gap and Old Navy stores I've visited there are literally no pajama pants in sizes medium, large, or extra large? It's only December 14th—everybody buys everybody pajamas at Christmas! Replenish! Gap, Inc., there's your fatal flaw right there: You never have enough of what people actually buy. Yet you still have plenty of those skinny khakis in mustard (I got my pair in September).

Further: There are no cute scarves at Tommy Hilfiger. There are no cute iPhone cases left at Jack Spade. No-one has a decent pair of leather gloves. Sweaters are suddenly astronomically expensive. First inkling: A Watanabe sweater-knit blazer I had my eye on that I thought I might score if it retailed for under a grand? It cost nearly $2000. That’s an extreme scenario—but who is buying a (not that cute) sweater at Rugby for just under $800? And what idiot is buying a (really cute) sweater at Club Monaco for over $400? Prices like that are not within the realm of sanity.

And back to it being December 14th: It's December 14th! Why isn't anything marked down yet? Twenty or 30 percent off is not a discount—it almost (not quite) makes one long for total financial collapse à la 2008—walking into Margiela in November and being greeted with 40 percent reductions. So, what's the hold up? You'd think the reason would be brisk sales, big business—but our retail spies beg to differ. And if everyone's waiting for the sales, then when do those start?* And if nobody's actually shopping than why does it take 15 minutes to traverse a single block near Radio City, in Soho, at Herald Square, even at Bryant Park (where big names on the block BCBG and Original Penguin are not usually massive traffic-causers)?

It all brings me back to the main point: You, holiday shopping, suck. I nominate a focus on birthday gifts and/or gifting when gifting seems right; when perfect objects are discovered at imperfect times.

And I will certainly be vetoed.

So, back to the drawing board—shall I put myself in the spirit by buying myself a color-blocked cardigan at D&G, new caramel-colored Dr. Martens ,or wingtips with blue contrast laces at Ted Baker?

*(At least one such spy says at least one such top New York City department store gets marked down on the 19th.)

· Love, Frank [Racked]