Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rustic Romp or Urban Rumble?

The New York Moment is fabled, of course.  But what about the New York Juxtaposition?

Yesterday, departing American Girl with my daughters in the pouring rain, we began to pick our way through the wet and the dark (at 3:00!) up 48th Street toward 8th Ave.  As we passed a parking garage, a loud fight broke out, first of words, then of fists.

We shifted into reverse, me averting my eyes, until we saw a police officer sauntering toward the garage.  When we heard no further commotion, we carried on, eventually reaching our destination.

Some hours before the rumble, when the day was light, we had walked past an Anthropologie store, where a curious candelabra in the vitrine caught my eye.

"Fabled" this moment may have been, if only because the candelabra depicted a few Aseop's Fable-y animals piling on top of each other for what Anthropologie calls a "rustic romp."

We kept moving forward, my daughters ignoring the pottery animals, but the unusual design stayed with me enough to look it up on line.

In this New York Juxtaposition, I'll take the Rustic Romp over the Urban Rumble, though I don't think I'd welcome such a frolic on my dinner table when our stomachs are, you know, rumbling.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Plaid to Know You

Maybe it's in anticipation of "Auld Lang Syne," composed by Scotsman Robert Burns, but I've been checking out some plaid.

Today I tried on these cropped trousers at J Crew (had to make a pilgrimage to bricks-and-mortar to sort out my sizing) and have been happily imagining them with

a black turtleneck
(the obvious choice)

a faded jean shirt and gold loafers
(what I'd call a J Crew mix)

a breton shirt in black/cream or papaya/cream (like James Dean wore) topped with a black cardigan
(from my "mad, plaid, and dangerous-to-know" imagination)

J (in) Crew-dulous

Well, that *is* an overwrought pun above.

But it does represent my ongoing confusion over J Crew sizes. 

This week I brought a couple of J Crew pencil skirts (that I had purchased about three years ago) to the tailor to be taken in.  I also ordered some new pencil skirts in what I thought was an appropriate, smaller size.

I was surprised, however, when the new, *smaller* skirts were about the same size as the ones I just schlepped to the tailor.  Has vanity sizing taken another drop lately?

J Crew, I'm incredulous.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

DSquared2 Does a Figure 8

There is no snow on the east coast.  If I'd waited till noon to go running today, I think I could even have worn shorts (if I'd increased my pace a bit).

But I really don't want to tie my running shoes this week; I'd much rather lace a pair of skates for an outdoor glide.

Fellow Canadians Dan and Dean Caten of DSquared2 may have come to the rescue with their curious skating shoes (one boot is amusingly called Skate Moss):

Yet these rubber-soled faux skates are to me the shoe equivalent of Wii sports: they invoke the activity, but noone's going to qualify for the Olympics by wearing them.

Still, this Canadian appreciates the sartorial attempt at a quadruple Axel as Dan and Dean Caten go Skaten. 

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Blue Roses

The lush jewelry in this Prada resort ad reminds me of the "blue roses" from Tennessee Williams' Glass Menagerie

But there's no need for a gentleman caller here, we're perfectly happy with our own, feminine collar, spread to perfection.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Appealing Shoes

It's the oldest joke in the book,

but if I slipped on that Andy Warhol banana,

the white brogues couldn't have any more a-peel that they already do.

Alas, this brogue is for the gents, by Christian Louboutin. 

Although the editorial directs gentle readers to CL's website,

the shoes weren't up the last five times I checked.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Treading Lightly?

This weekend I dressed to take my daughter to a college basketball game (we like to support the womenz team!) and I noticed a gap in my wardrobe.

I'd put on a pair of cropped black cigarette pants and wasn't thrilled with my footwear choices: I like to balance a skinny pant leg silhouette with a substantial shoe and the one I had in mind was more weekday than weekend.

So I hopped on Gravity Pope's website, because it specializes in a kind of funky, weekend-y shoe, and engaged in research.

The first pair I considered was, much to my surprise, a clog in wolf's clothing: 

Or yak's clothing, or a Wild Thing's clothing, if I get all self-referential.  I'm not a clogger; wooden soles don't strike me as comfortable (never wore a pair of wooden-sole DKNY penny loafers I had in grad school), but there's something unaesthetically appealing about this motley shoe.  It's by Bosabo.

The second pair was equally curious, but again, that's what I wanted:

Made by Acne, this tall brogue has enough interest in the heel to keep me amused and enough tradition in the toe to complement my cigs. 

After all, my goal is not to tread lightly. Do gentle readers have any trusted clomp-about weekend shoes they love?

***BTW: the New Yorker cover above is from 1944!  So current, except the cigarette would probably be represented as cigarette pants today . . .

Whole-Cloth Quilting

The front
(Nani Iro for Kokka)
I'll be quilting around each flower.

The back
(Kaffe Fassett shot cotton in "Apricot")
An imperfect match, just the way I like it.

The binding
(Liberty of London "Tatum")
A quarter inch, all around.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Lemon Dressing

Back in the early-to-mid 1990s, Cynthia Rowley made some dresses from a delightful lemon print. 

I have one of them--a short shirtdress--tucked away in my closet, for as many years, and I think it will reemerge this summer.

When I think of Rowley, I therefore always think of lemons, so it was apt that the dress I admired in the recent Anthropologie catalogue turned out to be a "Citris" dress by Ms. Rowley herself.

This could be worn rightnow, and I would do so happily.

If I were staying within the Anthropological confines, I'd pair it with these curious boots,

and would dive into my jewel box for a brooch that looks like this one,

to pin on the waistband.

Not Rowley, but reminiscient in spirit.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Colour Wheel

This necklace by Monique Pean reminds me of

crushed pastels,

or mini globes,

with a postmodern ice age looming in some corners,

like a dollop of frosting.

Wild Things: Boots, Scarves, Sweaters

Yesterday my six-year-old son and I were both home with the flu. 

We watched a lot of European soccer, a little American basketball, and Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are

I adored the color palette in the film, with the softest beiges, greys, and linens against the Australian beach.

If I were to join the Wild Things gang, I'd wear these Louboutin boots.

I'd pair them with one or more of these textured scarves from Barneys,

But at a cost of $550 for this one, below,

perhaps I should just buy my own yak and trot her around.

My son, if he'd like to join us, could wear one of these sweaters, also from Barneys:

Fortunately, we have moved away from purple Barneys and on to heathery, feathery, cable-knit inspired Wild Thing monsters.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Miss C. Blunder chez C. Wonder

I was intrigued when I first saw the ads for C. Wonder in the New York Times

They reminded me a bit of ads for ABC Carpet and Home, possibly the most glorious home furnshings and fabric store across the pond from Liberty of London.

The initial "C" was initially encouraging, too, as I was in my ABC zone.

Now we're talking: ABC Carpet and Home
But then things started to turn: "C. Wonder" started to conjure up a knock-off of J Crew, which was, I think, itself a knock-off of J Press.

Next I saw the motor scooter, adorned with roses, kind of Liberty print meets Jack Wills. I was confused.

The scooter in Vogue

And then I learned that it was owned by Tinsley Mortimer's ex-husband.

Actually, it's not, and that is the "blunder" of my headline; it's owned by Tory Burch's ex-husband.

Ths shop itself, or shops, as they have popped up in affluent mall settings, seem to position themselves as an Anthropologie for preppies. From images I've seen (plan to visit a bricks-and-mortar shop over Christmas), there's a lot of shiny gold and orange among the products, perhaps an homage to Ms. Burch, and green. green, green on the walls and floors, perhaps to make one feel wealthy and youthful whilst shopping. 

Kind of Gatsby-esque, but lower rent than West Egg.

Would Jay Gatsby gaze upon the green door longingly from his dock?

I'm not sure whether C. Wonder has a truly specific point of view, and would be happy to hear from gentle readers who have visited it.  In any case, I'll report back in the new year. 

S'Wonderful to think about going on vacation.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Joe Fresh: Intarsia Insider?

I confess: some mornings when I wake at 6, put on my running clothes in a hurry before going downstairs to get my three children off to school, I just might be wearing some of my garments inside out.  And when I return from my run and realize my style slip, I have a good laugh at myself.

Joe Fresh, the clothing line for the Canadian grocery store Loblaws, has recently taken this inside-out dressing to the check-out counter with its collection of Nordic sweaters. 

The above three sweaters on the right are knit in what I'd call a traditional style, but the two on the left (and the red-and-white one displays this characteristic more clearly) look to me like the inside of the sweaters on the right.

(As a reference point, I'm thinking of the inside of my own intarsia black sheep sweater a la Princess Diana.) Brilliant knitter-readers are cordially invited to tell me the proper terminology for this inside-out stitch/look.

Imagine the inside of this sweater.

Joe Fresh's sweaters are a tad too "holiday festive" for this Canadian, but it I were to wear the red one on the left, I might try it inside out.  On purpose.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Burberry Prorsum's Major Majorette Hat

This hat by Burberry Prorsum conjures up a Scottish majorette. 

I'd march over the moors,

twirling a baton made from a fallen branch,

keeping my sheep in an orderly parade.

Or I'd wear it with this:

in which case I would stay closer to home,

stalking the grand hallways of a castle,

enjoying the echo-y clip-clop of my heels.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hats for Thanksgiving: The Treacy Trilby Saga

If it's Thanksgiving week, it's time for my annual Treacy Trilbly post.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, gentle readers!

American Thanksgiving is a time for thanks and hats. Just go to your local elementary school this week and you’ll see children decked out in Pilgrim hats, playing with their fellow Indians in homemade headdresses.

I’ve always been a hat girl, growing up on Prince Edward Island, Canada, where the ocean breeze kept a chill in the air. There, my Scottish grandmother would bundle me in coarse tam o’shanters, made from scratchy undyed wool. During my university years in bilingual Ottawa, I graduated to French berets in jet noir; loden festooned with a raccoon’s tail (what was I thinking?); creamy cupcake pink.

On bitter days, and there were many, I’d pull the beret over my brow, slap on a pair of ear muffs, and ice-skate down the Rideau Canal toward my campus. I’d share the ice with various Members of Parliament (Parliament Hill was just beyond the university), their long winterized trench coats parachuting around them, their briefcases somehow not throwing them off balance. During her lunch break one senior MP would don a racing suit and make slow, steady strokes up and down the canal, stopping later at the stands selling deep-fried beaver tails, a Canadian winter delicacy.

I wore berets throughout my undergraduate and graduate education, from Ottawa to the United States. They were functional, fit my large-ish head, and, I liked to think, marked me as “other” in my new home: a beret was a subtle symbol of Canadian pride.

But this steady relationship was rattled when I went to New York City to visit my husband’s family one Christmas. After visiting the requisite art galleries, I always ducked into my favorite store, Bergdorf Goodman, to check out some living art—the impeccably dressed patrons who glided through the corridors—and, of course, the fantastic displays of merchandise. Getting somewhat lost among the mirrored walls on the accessories level, I took a turn and found myself gazing at a hat: a Philip Treacy design. To be exact, an asymmetrical trilby, with navy cotton exterior, pewter satin lining, silver unicorn logo on the brand, provenance England. I was smitten.

For a Philip Treacy hat n’est pas un chapeau. Rather, it is an idea. Picture Treacy’s former muse Isabella Blow wearing a large orange acrylic disk that overwhelms her face, a slender wedge of pie extracted for her mouth and nose, or a model wearing a sculpture—a representation of a gently askew tophat spelling out h-a-t in lissome, sky-scraping letters. But this Irish-born, London-bred milliner known as the mad Hatter for his confections also makes wearable fantasies; hence the—no, my—assymetrical trilby.

Reader, I bought it. What else could I do? And I carried it down Fifth Avenue in its glistening silvery BG hatbox, feeling, perhaps for the first time, like a lady rather than the feminist scholar that I am. I, who critique Sister Carrie’s seduction by the snug little jackets in a Chicago department store, fell prey to the same siren song. And like Hortense, in another Dreiser novel, I wanted the hat so badly that my lack of cash didn’t stop me; whereas Hortense lures her boyfriend into purchasing her a coat with vague promises of affection, I used my BG charge card, with half-hearted assurances to myself that I’d pay if off in no time.

Geography, though, was the wild card I hadn’t counted on. Although my eccentric new navy asymmetrical trilby didn’t stand out on the fashionable streets of New York, it practically screamed “Outsider” when I returned to the Midwest farmland where I then lived and taught college. In the Midwest, where people pride themselves on four-post homes, three square meals a day, and unwavering moral values, asymmetry isn’t exactly a virtue. Rather, it makes people suspicious of you.

Usually I tend to court my outside status. I quite like to be contrary, and have ever since I was a teenager, when, yearning for the black velvet pants and pastel pink satin blouse that all my friends had, my chic grandmother returned from Montreal with forest green velvet trousers and a burgundy satin shirt. I wasn’t immediately sure about this combination, but quickly saw how one could work within a fashion concept while executing your own take on it. Couldn’t my asymmetrical trilby coexist with the John Deere farming caps and the German Baptist bonnets? After all, I’d worn a beret for many a year and the Midwest wasn’t exactly a bastion of French style.

But whereas my beret was looked on with grudging acceptance, my trilby was more a source of humor. Noone actually said anything directly, but locals would talk to my hat instead of my face, colleagues would be overly smiley when I’d stalk around campus. I felt self-conscious and soon found myself wearing my trilby only at home, happy to catch surprise glimpses of my reflection in the windows as I’d go about my evening. And eventually I put it away, nestled inside its hatbox, which sat at the bottom of my armoire, as I gradually forgot about it.

Until, that is, last November, when, in a burst of enthusiasm for cleaning out my closets via eBay, I rediscovered the box and its contents. I listed the hat on eBay, enjoyed a mild bidding war, and prepared to ship the trilby and box to its new owner, known to me only by her excellent feedback rating. But when I received the eBay-generated message containing the winner’s email and home address, a different kind of feedback quickly flashed in my mind. For the new owner of my Philip Treacy trilby was a Famous New York Personality of TV and Movies, she of the high cheekbones, sassy persona, and megawatt smile.

A celebrity bought my London-via-Bergdorf’s hat. A beautiful, edgy New York celebrity. We must be soul sisters! We could bond over our love of Philip Treacy hats! She would totally “get” me; we could chat over email like fashion insiders; we could meet, even, when I returned to New York on my twice-yearly pilgrimages! We’d go hat shopping together and she could show me how she sports my—our—no, her hat in the city and makes it her own.

Or I could mail her the hat with a note saying that I hope she wears it in the best of health. Which I did.

Like Chaucer sending his “littel book” out into the world, I sent my hat back to New York, where it is meant to be, with its citified asymmetrical attitude. Perhaps it will go dancing, to a movie premiere, to a little bistro. Perhaps one night it will even get tipsy (umm—symmetrical). And I am thankful that it is with its rightful owner, someone who can literally take the hat out of her closet, who can enjoy it out in public. And I can enjoy it too, from the distance of my imagination.

It’s not chilly enough here yet for my beret. But it will be soon.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Teacup Bedlingtons

If you take this:

and blend it with this:

You will most likely come up with this:

Teacup Bedlington

from the Sculptural Art of High Heels show in London

(And yes, I know there's a third ingredient, but schnakes are not permitted on my blog.)