339054_fpx1 This has been declared the sesaon of shine and sparkle, but I’m noticing that the cheaper the dress, the more glitzed up it seems to be. Just walk through the INC department at Macy’s (warning: the preponderance of garish prints and gaudy colors can induce motion sickness) and you’ll see what I mean: dresses are bejeweled, besequined and be-over-the-top throughout the department. Some of them come off okay – the black numbers with jeweled trim can look fresh and fun. Just remember: the bigger the jewels or sequins, the bigger the embarrassment when they fall off at a party. I used a few such dresses, from Macy’s and smaller boutiques, this week in a fashion shoot (appearing in the Pioneer Press the week after Thanksgiving) and we ended up with several plastic stones on the photo studio floor. There’s a reason why it is said: less is more. That, and, you get what you pay for.

When I broke the news to my editor yesterday that eq-life is closing its last remaining store on Grand Avenue, she replied: “We already knew that, right?” In our hearts, I told her. The announcement of the planned November closing was made official only this week, but the writing has been on those sparsely merchandised walls for some time. The concept of blending health and technology in a setting that appeals to women was intriguing, but always somewhat confusing to the average shopper. Ipods, feel good books, organic vitamins, lotion and lattes? What is this place – a giant stereotype? Not only was the message a bit vague and condescending, there was no real reason to visit. The atmosphere felt institutional. And everything sold at eq-life could be purchased elsewhere. The company’s future seems to be shops within hospitals, which probably makes more sense. As for the gaping hole the store leaves at the primo corner of Victoria and Grand, my money is on Anthropologie…and another big fight from the chain-hating neighbors.

Fashion magazines are showing high waisted, trouser jeans this season, but let’s get real – on the streets, we’re still drooling over those tall girls with their skinny jeans tucked into killer boots. The look is timelessly chic. We got talking about this on Shop Girls last Saturday with the always sensible fashion adviser Kevin Quinn of StyledLife. He believes that even girls with meat on their thighs can tuck in – the key is proportion. First, the jeans. Don’t try to stuff your flared bad boys in boots. The girls who do this look justice wear seriously narrow jeans. Maybe you’d never step out in them without boots covering most of your legs, but that’s OK. Different pants for different shoes. Then, pick a top that falls about mid-rear. You want a lengthening effect without going so low that it cups the tush. Kevin suggested adding some definition by layering a shorter cardigan or jacket over the tunic top. Voila! You’re smokin’.

Burberry has opened a snazzy new shop at Mall of America. Yes, Mall of America. You’ll find it across from the Gap and Rainforest Cafe. Not exactly Fifth Avenue – or even the Galleria – but then, this hot brand is apparently looking beyond the obvious luxury retail corridors. Having long since closed its doors at Gaviidae Common (remember that?), opening at MOA is an interesting move. It speaks to the tourist traffic (especially international) that has no clue there’s shopping in the Twin Cities beyond MOA. And it speaks to the way this plaid brand has connected with young people. It’s not just about umbrellas and coats anymore. It’s high design, it’s posh, it’s glamorous. And the store exudes that, with bright lights, fast music and a floor to ceiling screen playing the latest Burberry runway show. Now the question is, will the typical Burberry customer step beyond Nordstrom to shop here? And will the rest of the MOA shoppers pay $550 for a black skirt? Even if it is totally adorable. Love to hear your thoughts.

Clear a spot in your viewing schedule ("Private Practice" is lame-o anyway) – Project Runway returns for a fourth season on Nov. 14. I’ve seen the first episode (perk of the job). The names are new, but the characters are starting to blend together – the plump and capable funny guy, the effeminate weirdo, the antisocial girl, the arrogant butch guy. Heidi Klum looks ridiculously good. Tim Gunn needs some new lines if he has even the remotest hope of escaping the caricature he’s become. Michael Kors and Nina Garcia are back for more (as if they’d give up the spotlight?). Even so, the show remains totally watchable and one of the best reality series on TV, whether or not you’re obsessed with fashion. Monique Lhuillier is the first guest judge and I’d tell you who is first to be booted, but Bravo would undoubtedly hunt me down and have me permanently muzzled. Wonder if they’d use cotton or silk?

At first, I was simply proud that my 3-year-old knows the word "mannequin." Then it became clear that we had a problem.

Suddenly, my faithful shopping companion is developing shopping fears, and they have nothing to do with anything rational, like being watched in the fitting room or store mirrors that disguise fat so you mistakenly think you look good in those jeans. Suddenly, my child fears mannequins. To the point that he couldn’t eat lunch at Macy’s Marketplace – an entire floor away from the nearest headless plastic figure. What’s so scary?

He cowered behind my leg during our entire visit to American Apparel (oh yea, it’s open in Uptown, and I’m not so impressed). He zeroed in on the one mannequin at Duetta when we stopped by the new South Minneapolis shop. I’ve tried telling him mannequins are just pretend, like toys or stuffed animals. That they are nothing more than hangers to show clothes. That they can’t hurt him. (I suppose they could, if he pulled one down on him, but since he’ll no longer step anywhere near a mannequin, that seems an unnecessary scenario to broach at this sensitive juncture.)

There’s no chapter on this particular issue in my parenting books.

So, I’ve become adept at holding bags and the now hefty child while browsing. I can take notes at the same time. Call me insensitive, but it’s my job. So I tell him to power through the fear. Mama’s got to shop.