Friday, October 30, 2009


This is a still from the last scene of Days of Heaven (1978).

Much has been lost—a brother, a home, a boyfriend or two—but there’s something so optimistic about these hair ribbons.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Dress; A Quest

I am looking for a day dress.

All spring and summer I live in dresses—the kind that have defined bodices and waists, then float away from the body, dresses that one can simply slip on, add sandals, and go.

But in fall and winter?

Yesterday I had a craving for a dress and went to my closet. But what was inside? Separates. Pencil skirts, jackets, cashmere t-shirts, cropped cigarette pants. Not one weather-appropriate day dress.

Why is this? Are fall and winter dresses too structured? Too office-y? Too button-y? Are the prints too reminiscent of department stores? Do the dresses tend to wear the person?

Surely there must be dresses that resist categorization, that have a flattering but not overly designed shape, that are in attractive solid colors.

Gentle readers, if you have any suggestions, just send them to my adress.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hoop Skirts at the City Opera of New York

Every great dress can use a little underwire support, no? Or perhaps hundreds of under, over, and middle wires?

These images are from the promenade of the David Koch theater at Lincoln Center, home of the City Opera of New York. Artist E. V. Day transformed dresses from the opera’s massive wardrobe into sculptures, installing them from perilous heights overhead.

And by the way, it’s OK to look up these skirts—you don’t want to miss the stunning petticoats and visible underlayers. But be discrete, kind sir . . .

Friday, October 23, 2009

An Ancestor Talks Trash

My lovely Canadian pal K-Line alerted me to one of my ancestors talking trash:

"I don't know if I should, but I judge people by their picnics"
--Lady Moyra Cavendish (1876-1942)

And speaking of picnics and trash, did anyone see the episode of Mad Men when the Draper family had a bucolic afternoon on a picnic blanket with lots of food and drink? To clean up, Don threw his drink container away (somewhere in the landscape, not in a garbage can) and Betty simply shook the garbage off the picnic blanket, leaving it to litter the grass.

Judgements, anyone?

In case you don't click on the link above, Lady Cavendish's quote appeared in the blog An Aesthete's Lament.

You can also make a Mad Men picnic avatar. This one is from a writer on

And I know that the photo far above isn't from MM. Hollister Hovey posted it on her blog in a series of vintage picnic shots. It's an idealized Draper family . . .

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New York Magazine's Approval Matrix Pronounces Bedlington Terrier Shoes "Brilliant" and "Highbrow"--But Renames Them

OK, New York Magazine: "disco lobster claws" isn’t bad, especially since you’ve focused on that reddish brown shoe.

(But it’s not Bedlington.)

Still—let’s be friends. Want to come write with me here at MissC? I know from lobsters.

Cavendishs End

Ahh, what a Helen Schlegel morning it’s been, or should I say a Paul Wilcox dawn?

Or perhaps a Victoria Kipps/Jerone Belsey sunrise, if you’re a Zadie Smith reader.

For in the encouraging dark of the other night, I experienced the rush of desire, which almost translated into a certain commitment; not pigs’ teeth in a tree, mind you, but clothes in a paper parcel winging their way from Virginia to me.

How very Forsterian was my experience, but I neither communicated my passion to my (fictional) sister via a telegraph, nor by a Smithian email, but—oh my goodness—by Twitter, and hence revealed my new love to the electronic universe.

During the dark, I became enamored of this silk tiered jacket (above) and this slim take on the Breton sweater (below). It's a long, lean fit in merino and both would be, I thought, great pieces for casual layering.

What I didn’t realize until the cool light of morning is that both items are buttonlicious.
I don’t mind the buttons on the sleeve of the Breton sweater (sometimes novelty annoys me), but the buttons on the back . . .

(visible only online)

could drive me mad if I saw them. Perhaps I could forget that they’re there . . . And maybe that’s what hair’s for.

Or perhaps that’s what the silk tiered jacket’s for. Of course, you can’t see its buttons in this photo, but online, they are larrrge. (Large buttons are usually a deal breaker for me, unless they have absolutely no whiff of “cute” or “fun” about them). Oy—how fussy can a person be?

So how will this narrative end? Not with a toppled bookcase and a new merging of the classes, but with a genial “to be continued . . .”

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bright Star, Big Meadow

I have not seen Bright Star yet, but this photo from it recalls the mood of my favorite opening scene in a film: the beginning of Howards End, when Mrs. Wilcox is wading through the damp meadow-y grass in her lavender silk gown. Of course this meadow is sunny and dry, but, you know--details!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Waving the Flag

What is it about the Union Jack that inspires designers?

I love it, myself, and have been experiencing shivers of delight with these creative designs. Above is Becky Oldfield of Lost and Found stitching together a gorgeous flag collage. I *love* the various faded blues and valiant reds that keep holding on to their color.

Below is a set of charming deck chairs from Lost and Found. I don’t know if I could sit in these, so content would I be to gaze upon them . . .

And Pattie Boyd showed up in the pages of T Magazine this weekend. Is that a flag-bearing Beatle on her nose?

Postscript: has anyone read Sarah Lyall’s The Anglo Files? In yet another convergence of design and desire, Mr. C. pointed out this book to me on the weekend.

Well, then: I’d better call it a night—before anyone’s attention starts to flag . . .

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mad Men(icures)

In a recent Bazaar article on new manicure colors and shapes, the author recommended looking to Mad Men for a longer, almond-shaped nail.

I remember being vaguely repelled by the manicures in MM, precisely, I think, because we’re supposed to be.

Consider Betty Draper’s hands in an early episode when she loses control of the steering wheel or can’t apply her lipstick: her clumsiness indicates her repressed frustration over her status as Don’s wife, and her awkward manicure punctuates that thought.

Indeed, Betty’s nails seem like artificial appendages that get in the way of everyday activities. She doesn't even eat supper with the family, smoking and drinking instead, as if managing a knife and fork is simply too difficult. Note, too, how her long nails curl up a little at the end, suggesting their inappropriate fit on her hands, the poor fit of her character to her life.

There’s also Glenn’s mother, who has long, red pointy nails, which, ahem, point to her being marked as a divorcĂ©e, a woman whose selfish actions threaten the other wives (could she have designs on their husbands?).

The manicures of the other female characters didn’t leave an impression in my mind. But if I were to follow Bazaar’s advice to emulate a Mad Men manicure, I might cheekily look to Betty’s hands when she’s shooting at the birds. In this moment of inspired Hitchcock one-upwomanship, Betty’s manicure is tellingly all but invisible as she finally asserts her authority.

Friday, October 16, 2009


I replaced a tired pair of black ankle-grazing pants yesterday, upon receiving a package in the mail from J Crew.

I can’t say enough good things about the Minnie pant.

I love the fabric, which is stretchy comfortable, but not too scuba. The length is perfect, as I can abide neither capris nor long trousers. Ankle grazing is perfect. NOTE: my trousers are a good inch longer than the ones in this photo.

And I was so happy to find a side zip, which gives a lovely, clean line.

There may be another Minnie-me in the mail soon—probably in charcoal.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Moncler: Warm but Cool

Could it be only yesterday when I was showing a photo of the beach? As the weather is turning cold and damp (was that sleet I saw on my windshield?!), my mind is quickly turning toward cold-weather wear.

Growing up in Canada, I found that attractive winter jackets were pretty much nonexistent, so it’s always a pleasure when I see something that’s not only warm but cool!

Moncler has caught my eye for a few seasons now. Above and below are images from its Gamme Rouge ad campaign, photographed by Steven Meisel. (The jacket below, with its strategic rosettes, reminds me of the iconic "hands" jacket whose designer I cannot recall. Was it Margiela, Watanabe, or possibly Miyake? Do please help, gentle readers!)

But visit Moncler’s website and you’ll find equally appealing photos of these luxe and witty (but never cute!) jackets. I’d go to an outdoor opera in these:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bath-ing Beauties

Yesterday, when looking for something, I found something else. And then something else yet again.

Here’s my first find, above, a “vintage” image of Angela Lindvall wearing a Tom Ford for YSL dress.

This was back in the day when YSL made that great brown suede Nadja bag (a rose) and he traced the rose through other items in his collection as well. I ordered the bag from BG, and thought it was poorly crafted (globs of glue on the seams—ick!).

I didn’t have the opportunity to try the dress, but I must have been smitten, because I saved the clipping all these years. And yes, I still like it!

I have another watery find too: this charming map of Bath:

My small then-family-of-three visited one summer. We went to the Pump Room, sampled some of the (awful!) sulphur water, and walked and walked and walked.

Would the YSL dress have been right for the restorative Bath waters? Probably not, but it’s pretty to imagine an updated Austen heroine wearing it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

And so To Bed

I’m almost ready to put my Bedlington Terrier/ Alexander McQueen historical shoe study to bed, so to speak.

The above image is seventeenth-century French, and exhibits some of that pronounced slope.

Below is a series of English shoes, with the one of the far right most closely approximating McQueen’s silhouette.

And here’s a forerunner of a Beatles boot, but it is vaguely Bedlington, with the silk fluff on the vamp:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Thanksgiving Colors: The Red and White Edition

In the spirit of Canadian Thanksgiving, I’ve been thinking about red and white combinations . . .

Below is some embroidered vintage linen from the online shop Beyond France:

And above is the cover to Susannah Frankel’s Visionaries.

Happy Thanksgiving to all literal and honorary Canadians!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

History, Herstory, Shoestory

Inspired by Make Do Style’s comment on my previous post, I engaged in a little historical sleuthing of my own.

Here’s an eighteenth-century English shoe that could be a model for the McQueen Bedlington Terrier interpretation that’s generating some stylish buzz (or barks).

It’s the slope of the vamp that interests me, which gives a moderate—or exaggerated in the case of McQueen—en pointe look.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Bedlington or Bedlam? Alexander McQueen's 2010 Spring/Summer Shoes

The other night Imelda posted a story on Alexander McQueen’s new shoe silhouette and I’ve been returning to those images again and again.

Although this shoe is probably unwearable at this height (12 inches?!), its shape is literally breathtaking.

Jolie laide? Perhaps.

But I love its clean lines, which are a welcome change from all the manic embellishment that’s currently on the catwalks.

And let's forget catwalks anyway, because these shoes are more suited for the dog park. Don’t they look just like Bedlington terriers?

(For the record, I once thought that Martin Margiela made Bedlington shoes. Must be the dog of the moment. And that moment too, obv.)

The Unflappable Flapper Top

This fall I ordered a piece from J Crew that I fully expected to return. The catalogue calls it a tiered silk camisole; I call it a flapper top because it makes me want to dance the Charleston.

I ordered the raisin shade and worried that the tiers might be unflattering because they don’t signal a defined waist, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I’ve worn this flapper top on its own with a pencil skirt, under a magenta cardigan with trim black trousers, and today under an aubergine blazer with the same pants. In fact, I’m wearing it so much that I just may consider it in another fall color—perhaps copper!

Do you ever buy/order something that you anticipate not working but are pleasantly surprised?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Feeling Blue

Way back when I worked in a corporate job, I wore a perfect blue shirt.

It was trim, had a collar, and was a flawless blue, the slightly chalky but vibrant Wedgewood-y color that was worn in smart offices during the late 1990s. I wore it with my navy trouser suit, with a gray flannel pencil skirt, with black pants, and always felt dressed.

My style is much freer now, having given up the corporate world for something more creative, but I still yearn for a perfect blue shirt.

I know that perfect white shirts are more the buzzphrase, but I’ve worn enough white shirts to last me a lifetime: during grades ten through twelve at boarding school (with a necktie!!), during summers waiting tables (and now I can’t imagine ever wearing a white/black combination either).

So I was cheered when I saw the above shirt at YSL. Sure, the collection has been critiqued as being too “minimal,” but this shirt could be quite maximal in impact, with its brilliant color, slight sailor feel, and puff sleeves.

Lobster Cuddlers or Lobster Claws? Someone's Full of L. L. Beans

L. L. Bean doesn’t usually grace the pages of my blog; I think of it as a practical shop for campers and hikers, but it generally doesn’t inspire me in terms of style.

But Linda Bean, an L. L. Bean heiress from Maine, has jolted me into action with her plan to rebrand lobsters and become the lobster queen of the east coast (my words, not hers).

Bean takes issue with what is commonly known to fishermen, fisherwomen, and diners across the globe as the “lobster claw.” To Bean, that term connotes something scary, and in her move to take over lobster fishing, lobster production, and lobster sales in Maine, she wants to rebrand (rename) the lobster claw.

Bean wants to call the lobster claw the “lobster cuddler.”

Now, I don’t mind the word “cuddler” when it’s associated with many L. L. Bean products: it fits a fleece jacket nicely; it aptly describes a cozy sleeping bag; it makes ear muffs, mittens, and hats sound appealing.

But lobster cuddlers? To eat?

I don’t want my lobsters euphemized. Call a claw a claw, please, because a claw is not cuddly. It’s sharp and snippy and delicious with melted butter.

Although Ms. Bean does not work for the fabled L. L. Bean company, I suggest that she take her marketing energies there, and transform camping lanterns into cuddly lights and tents into giant cuddlers. Maybe she could even make waterproof Snuggies for the chilly Atlantic lobsters.

I’d like to offer her her first memo: L. L. does not stand for “lobster lunch.”

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Getting Personal

Married SWF seeks gorgeous black fall/winter shoe for day-to-night wear.

Must be flexible enough to flit between pencil skirts and cropped black trousers.

Indeed you will be a heel, but please make sure that you are not more than four inches long. Height matters. A covered platform is welcome, though.

Super feminine shoes need not apply; I’m looking for an edgy, yet versatile fit.

Of course you should have a sole. I’m not partial to treads, but your sole should be thick enough that I don’t have to drag you to the cobbler on our first date, thin enough to be smart.

I’ve been seeking you for months now and, though I’m smitten with your cousin, the open-toe sandal bootie, fall is here and I’m looking for some warmth.

So, dear potential solemate, send me your photo tout de suite and we’ll set up a fitting.

Only serious inquiries, please.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Yellow Kid

UPDATED below!

I am immersed in yellow journalism this evening.

So here, reflective of this particular newspaper history, is a rather *sensational* yellow dress by Bottega Veneta. The yellow shoes and the accessories are a bit much, but the dress itself has possibilities.

And BTW, here's the original "yellow kid," who ignited the feud between Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Everybody Flora Kung Tonight . . .

Remember that song?! This editorial in Vogue reminds me of clothing by the 80s designer Flora Kung, known for her ruching and intense floral prints. (And shoulders.)

But even more they remind me of poring over Vogue in the 1980s, that decade when I finished boarding school and began university (and promptly left to work in fashion in Montreal).

I loved looking at Ralph Lauren ads with Clotilde, a vision in conch belts, Native American weavings and eyelet petticoats (above). And Karen Graham for Estee Lauder (till 1985) was enigmatic: too static to be attractive, she nevertheless held my eye with her almost alien clear looks (below).

But the ads I recall perhaps both the least and the most were for Lillie Rubin, the Florida boutique, begun in 1964, and which featured Flora Kung dresses as well as ads featuring Ms. Rubin and her daughter (named Lynn?), if I remember correctly. (Please do fill in any gaps if you can; I haven’t been able to locate any of those ads on the internet.)

While a few savvy bloggers are wearing vintage Kung, it appears that her influence is in the air for fall 2010. And I even read (on the internet, so it must be reliable!) that Ms. Kung, who left for Paris and gave up design when she turned 30, may be staging a comeback. I’d be interested to see how she interprets the decade to come.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My Three Gorgeous Girls

In the spirit of a weekly news roundup, here’s my take on the New York Times’ style section, both this week’s and last:

Did you read today’s story on baby joggers? I had two, a single seater and a double seater, which I used when I wanted to run.

But much better than the baby jogger was my wonderful Simo stroller, from Norway, with tall, thick wheels for snow, a detachable bassinet, and a luggage rack. And a baby, too, though she was not a gift with purchase.

The Times also reported on the resurgence of Robert Lee Morris, best known to me for his collaborations with Donna Karan in the 1990s. I liked his work then, so much so that I bought my beloved bulldog Marilla a studded Morris collar from his Soho shop.

Here’s Marilla, in her flirtacious pose, showing off the collar a little. There’s also a plump little brass heart charm hanging from it, but that’s hidden under Rilly’s delightful folds.

Did anyone mention Cowboy Kate last week in the Times? I have my own cowgirl at home, my middle daughter, who took her older sister’s boots (bought in Fort Worth, Texas) when she was three and wore them as hipwaders. Such anticipation of Prada fall 2010.

Back to our regular programming tomorrow.