Baby, you send me...

Is there anything that you can't get at Topshop? Is there? Okay, we all know about the clothes and the shoes and the accessories and I love the pick-and-mix candy selection but, Christmas cards? And with artwork by Julie Verhoeven...

50p can something this chic be so cheap?


Shopping Zen

And the mantra is..."saving for NY, saving for NY" So, a curse on the people at Net-a-Porter for the e-mail I received about their 40-60% off sale (open only if you are currently registered to and shopping from the U.S. website). It's taking every ounce of willpower I possess but I am turning my back on...

Vivienne Westwood Anglomania Dunbar flecked wool coat, a charcoal single-breasted flecked wool coat with a wide button down lapel, epaulettes on shoulders and button fastening flap pockets on front. The coat has a waist panel on back, button fastening cuffs and a pleat on back - down from $850 to $510
Chloe zip fastening cardigan, taupe cropped knit cardigan with a silver zip fastening on the front. The cardigan has four zip fastening pockets on the front, zip fastening at cuffs and wide ribbed waistband - down from $505 to $303

And the "wow" dress...
Alexander McQueen cowl-neck tweed dress, brown tweed below knee length dress with a cowl neck. The dress has long, fitted sleeves, is gathered at the side at the waist (which is fastened with a brass brooch) and a zip fastening on back - down from $1,075 to $430

Repeat after me, "saving for NY, saving for NY"...


J Crew...who knew?

I have to start off by saying that I am not a J Crew fan, mostly everything is way too preppy for my tastes. Having said that, I received a J Crew catalog in the mail and I was surprised by some of the pieces. They had definite possibilities...

Tartan Tuxedo shirt
Wool-cashmere mitten gloves
Felted wool skirt
Cabochon charm bracelet


The train, it's safer...Well, because there's no place to hide on a plane if anyone should recognize me...oh, you want me to jump off a moving plane?

My urge to romanticize travel is once again taking hold and a trip to New York in February has turned into a mini-version of one of the “Grand Tours” so popular with gentlemen of the 18th Century. Though I know it would be faster and cheaper to fly I will, once again, be spending the 18 hours or so (each way) necessary to do the trip by train.

And why? Well, apart from my fear of flying and the fact that the current state of airport security makes me feel paranoid rather than secure, the train is rather a nice way to make the trip. A cabin for two with chairs that turn into bunk beds…”provisions” for the journey (bottle of wine or portable bar, snacks, backgammon set, and a good book)…and the constantly changing view from the window. It’s like an extension of the vacation rather than just a way of getting from A to B.

Okay, it’s a long way from the stylish train travel in North by Northwest or one of the Thin Man movies but it does have a certain charm. Plus, as an added bonus, I don’t have to check any purchases that I make in New York…they can stay safe and sound in the cabin with me on the return journey…try that on an aeroplane.


On the buses...

I was waiting for a bus recently and noticed a new ad on the side of one as it passed by. A bright pink background with a black lace overlay the ad was for...La Perla. Now I can't help but notice a dichotomy here...the other advertisments are for McDonalds, or car insurance, or requests for volunteers to test new experimental drugs...but La Perla? A store where you can easily spend a few thousand dollars on lingerie and nightgowns.

What group of people are these ads marketing?

a) Businessmen who need to buy gifts and are desperate for any suggestion
b) Random heiresses who can't decide between a cheeseburger or a push-up bra
c) Katie Cruise nee Holmes

Answers on a postcard, please.


Scents of the season

I love a good, smelly, bath product and had to share about Kiehl's limited edition (through Christmas) body cleansers. The five scents are Pear Tree Corner, Amber, Cherry-Almond, Forest Rain, and Wisteria. I'm not sure how these fragrances tie in with the festive period...the only link I could think of was for the pear...Partridge in a Pear Tree (Corner)...but I'm probably just missing something with the others.

The Cherry-Almond is lovely though a little too sweet and sugary for my tastes but the Wisteria is, floral, clean-smelling. At $15 this is a great stocking-stuffer...or treat for yourself to help unwind after battling through the Christmas crowds.


All I want for Christmas...

I admit it, I'm a terrible person to shop for. I tend to know what I want and I hate anyone to waste their money so surprise gifts rarely work. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of surprises...unfortunately the reality is usually a let-down. So, each holiday I put together a wish list. After all, it may be better to give than to receive but isn't it also nice to receive something you actually want?

So here, in no particular order, are my current fancies:

Repetto Paris - Metallic Bow 'Chignon' Ballerina
Repetto Paris - 'Bardo' Ballerina
Macrame tote - knotted cotton lined in black canvas and outfitted with three inner pockets
Buckled ankle-wrap sandals
Fred Perry - ruffle placket collarless shirt


Comfort me

This picture of Kate Moss chav-ing it up in the name of comedy got me thinking about so called "comfort dressing". Everytime I go out on the weekends I see numerous women in brightly colored, shapeless, tracksuits and I just cannot understand the appeal. Personally I haven't worn either half of a tracksuit since I was in school. I thought it was a hideous piece of clothing then and I was wearing it somewhat for the purpose it was originally designed (I've never been an athlete so I can't say I was giving it my all but I was jogging round a playing field and that has to count for something).

But enough of my reminisences, the question is...why choose something so uniquely unflattering? Bad in its basic form, even worse with wording on the derriere. There are plenty of clothing options that are comfortable and look good...jeans, cords, skirts, many choices.

Just say no to the Juicy!


"God Save The Queen"

I seem to have a recurring issue...coats that I love but that happen to only be available in another continent. The latest is this funnel necked, mohair, punk princess number from Topshop. I think this would look wonderful if everything else in the outfit was very "dressed up" and this was the one louche element - the necessary twist.

When there’s no future
How can there be sin
We’re the flowers in the dustbin
We’re the poison in your human machine
We’re the future
Your future
God Save the Queen

The Sex Pistols, “God Save the Queen,” (1977).


Yet another thing to do with magazines

Yes, this post is yet another suggestion for "things to do with magazines"...maybe I should just throw them away but...these things are expensive and, in the main, inspirational so how could I be so cruel?

The backstory is that I have been toying with the idea of making our Christmas cards this year (though I have yet to think of an idea that I actually want to use and time is ticking by). I found this kit at Paper Source...

...with decorative paper, cards, and a reusable plastique envelope template!

So, I'm thinking, wouldn't it be great to send a friend a letter in a Vogue envelope? Or pay your bills in a shoot from I-D? The possibilities are endless.


All bags great and small – Part III – Queen Viv

I have long been a fan of Vivienne Westwood clothes and bags (ever since my mother took me to the World's End store when I was a young girl). I respect her intelligence, her anarchistic spirit, and the whimsy that she puts into her designs.

The other night I was picking up some take out food and saw an older woman with one of the most gorgeous VW bags that I've seen...a large shoulder bag in a white tartan...she was wearing it with a grey tweed coat and the combination was so beautiful that I did something I rarely do and spoke to her about her bag (I always feel like a stalker if I go up to strangers like this, but in this instance I couldn't resist) worst fears were confirmed, she'd bought the bag a while ago in London.

So much for that, until I visited Viv's site and found the same bag in a different plaid. With the current exchange rate I am trying to talk myself down from the ledge but we shall see...especially as it would be a perfect addition to my current collection of Westwood bags.

This black leather clutch was actually my mother's. The hardware on the zip isn't the best quality but this is a great way to add a punk element to even the most conservative outfits.
The plaid Derby bag holds a surprising amount for a smaller bag, makes me feel like Alice in Wonderland, and is showerproof...I know this isn't the first thing that comes to mind when buying bags but I have a couple of bags that fall into this category and it's nice to have a fashionable, good-looking bag that you can carry when it's raining without having a nervous breakdown.
My final Viv bag is one of the Treasure Island bags from the F/W 05 collection. I love Liberty fabrics, so the combination of two of their prints and a Westwood bag was too hard to resist. Unfortunately this bag isn't one that can be used every day...the pale fabric attracts stains like a magnet...

The French magazine Jalouse is one of my favorite magazines, actually it may be my favorite...which makes it all the more frustrating that it is the most difficult magazine for me to actually buy. Today I was finally able to purchase the October edition. Normally a delay such as this in the world of fashion would be deadly but Jalouse manages to overcome all obstacles...articles on Katie Grand and Camille Miceli, a photobook by Sonja Kinski and a shoot featuring Alisson Mosshart of The Kills.

And the icing on the cake? A spread on accessories which includes a kissing-boy-and-girl pendant by Paul & Joe...suspiciously like the one I got from Urban Outfitters a month or so ago.

No wonder I danced with joy when I saw it on the shelves (sighting confirmed by an independant observer...I did, in fact, "dance...with joy").



About a week ago I posted about a Belstaff jacket that was being sold as part of an auction of the effects of Steve McQueen. Well, the auction results are in and they are astounding.

A pair of Persol sunglasses that were believed to have been worn by McQueen during the opening scenes of the Thomas Crown Affair sold for $60,000 (the estimate was $2-3,000).

The Belstaff jacket that I mentioned in my other post went for $28,000 and a denim baseball cap with a patch which read "Farming is everybody's bread & butter" sold for $2,500.

The problem with these "celebrity" auctions is that all common-sense goes out of the window. Items that were once owned by the famous and infamous can be found at antique dealers', from specialized dealers, even from eBay (though judgement and caution should be applied). Yet give someone a numbered paddle and add them to a throng of people similarly armed and caution is thrown to the winds. Admittedly you are buying something with a good provenance but, even so, will you ever be able to re-coup your investment?

Perhaps the clothing was bought to be worn. In that case, if they had the money, I say good for them..."real" clothes, bought to be seems like something Steve may have approved of.


Kiss me quick!

In 1936 Salvador Dali created his iconic lips sofa, based upon Mae West's similar attributes. For Christmas, Shu Uemura is offering its "Lips Unlimited Lip Set". Admittedly it is a little tacky...and does bring to mind a Robert Palmer video...but what's Christmas without a tacky element? Why else do I drag out my Best of Elvis CD housed in a pop-up Graceland? Please tell me...why?

The $65 set includes the bag, lipstick, liner, and gloss and is available at Shu Uemura.


Go fish!

The other day I was in Cost Plus and I saw these enamelled, articulated koi keychains and charms. My first thought was...wouldn't these make great pendants? Just remove the keychain ring or red cord, hang on a chain or ribbon and voila! Easiest "craft" project ever...

Then, today, I bought the December edition of US Elle and came across this article...

Don't you love it when this kind of thing happens? And I'm guessing Scarlett's jewelry costs a lot more than the $4.99-$6.99 I got mine for.


Columbo, Columbo...where fore art thou Columbo?

Many posts ago I mentioned the state of walking disintegration that is my trenchcoat. If it was still available in my exact size...or being sold in a store in the same country as I am (which would make returns easier in case of "sizing issues")...this would be the perfect replacement.

How cool is this Sonia by Sonia Rykiel trench? Even Peter Falk would be jealous...


It's going to be a goth, goth Christmas

(Sorry Elvis fans for that title...I couldn't help myself).

Rhetorical question, why do we spend so much on party dresses? Personally, I blame panic...sheer, blind, panic. How else do you explain the contents of shopping bags after last minute pre-party shopping? Why else do we all have a collection of dresses that were bought, worn once, and then hidden in our closets?

This year I am attempting to be thrifty and rational (fingers crossed). A couple of weeks ago we had a wedding to and I'm proud to say I didn't run out to find something "new" to wear. Instead I dove into my closet and came out with...a Marc by Marc Jacobs striped dress with a corset top, bubble skirt, and bow at the waist. When I first tried this dress on in Barneys I came out of the dressing room saying "Look, I'm the Statue of Liberty!". But with a boiled wool jacket from Banana Republic and navy suede flats I think I toned it down sufficiently for the reception.
That still left Christmas and all it's related bachanalia but I'm pleased to say that a few days ago I covered most of my upcoming party requirements with this See by Chloe dress which I picked-up on sale at 50% off plus a $20 off coupon. I think there are so many options for this I can't wait for the festivities to won't miss me, I'll be the goth girl under the mistletoe.


Painting by numbers

There's something magical about fashion illustrations...selected vignettes of stylish lives...

I love street art and one of my favorites is the French graphiti artist, Fafi. Fafi's women are cute, sexy, and fun.
Illustrator Kirsten Ulve's work is happy...even when they look like they're having a bad day things still seem to have an upside for her characters.
Fashion Illustration Now is a great "read". It features almost thirty different illustrators from sixteen countries and has something for everyone.
And for those of you who wish to become art, Colette offers a way to make yourself a Fafinette with the Uslu Airlines & Fafi Kit with two heart-shaped stencils and a pink or red ink cartridge.


Brand me, brand me...say that you love me

Sometimes something is so wrong it boomerangs back on itself and becomes right. Every time I go to eluxury I sneak a peek at this name pendant from Louis Vuitton which seems to be the ultimate definition of wrong/right.

I'm not sure if anyone actually spends the $2,470 needed to acquire this but wouldn't it be fun to wear (in a supremely tacky way) ?


All bags great and small – Part II – Balenciaga

When someone mentions Balenciaga handbags what generally comes to my mind are the motorcycle bags beloved by celebrities. While these bags are lovely they are just too ubiquitous for my taste. Isn’t one of the joys of fashion the ability to stand out as an individual?

For those of you who love the motorcycle bags though, and all other B-Bags, you could find no better resource for information than aterliernaff. This comprehensive site has everything…the styles, the colors, the detailed information to help you spot fakes.

Happily (for me), Balenciaga does realize that some people may be looking for something a little different. Equally fortuitous is that there don’t seem to be too many people who fall into that category as the two styles I have I found, on two different occasions, were heavily marked down (is there anything better than a really good “find” during the sales…is there?)

From the F/W 05 collection I have the East-West satchel in an incredibly soft, chestnut brown lambskin. This bag is great for travel…or those days when you just have to carry everything with you. The main body is lined in cotton and has one zip pocket and in one of the external pockets is the trademark leather covered mirror. I’ve crossed the Atlantic twice with this bag and used it regularly as a work bag (often in bad weather) and although there are a few scuffed or faded areas it’s holding up remarkably well. Plus, with this kind of bag I almost think it looks better when it’s gently worn.

The same cannot be said of the large, toffee colored, suede shoulder bag that I got from the S/S 06 collection. This is a true “luxury” bag…the suede is so beautiful that I am paranoid in case anything marks it and I only use the bag after I have checked the weather forecast online to make sure that no rain is scheduled. Apart from my neurotic behavior regarding stains the only other issue with this is the buckle closure…this is not a bag you open (or close) in a hurry. Fine if you’re a lady of leisure but not so good if you’re in line at the drugstore with 10 people behind you.


The Great Escape

Belstaff was founded in England in 1924. The company created waterproof garments for men and women, all with a phoenix logo. During the 30's Belstaff carved a niche in making wind-proof, rain-proof, sturdy clothes for aviators, motor cyclists, and the like. Since that time they continued to evolve and are best known for clothing for motorcycle enthusiasts, amateur and professional. A few years ago the company was bought by an Italian firm and they're trying to move into the world of fashion...last season's ads featured Giselle...this season's, Kate Moss...and stores in London and New York (as well as Italy).

I love classic travel gear, and the associations that it last time I was in London I went to the Belstaff store. Though most of the stock is made up of jackets there are other articles of clothing, footwear and bags. For such an essentially British brand you do feel strangely rich, tanned, and Italian when you put one of the jackets on. Plus, there's comfort in the knowledge that these jackets are only going to get better as they get more broken least that's what I told myself as I bought the jacket below from a very good looking, Italian sales associate.

The reason that I bring all of this up is that this Saturday, Bonhams in LA is holding an auction of property owned by Steve McQueen. Apart from his collection of vintage bikes, and other items there is Lot 64 "A Belstaff motorcycle jacket - Made of black cotton with four frontal pockets, brass button front closure, self-belt and black, blue and white plaid cotton lining; inside label reads "Trialmaster/Professional/by Belstaff/Made in England;" worn by McQueen when motorcycling."

The estimate on the jacket is $2,000-$4,000. For McQueen fans without that much spare cash the catalog, with color illustrations, is available in hardcover for $100 or in softcover for $55 (including postage).


Spin Cycle

People find different things relaxing...some do yoga...some arrange flowers...I like to handwash my clothes. Underwear, shirts, sweaters...if the label doesn't say dry clean, I'll try to submerge it. Part of this is an inbred condition due to the fact that I was brought up in a household without a washing machine, dishwasher, or microwave (a sad and tragic tale). But I do think that clothes last longer, and look better, when they don't have to suffer the ravages of a machine. Plus, there's the theraputic value of being elbow deep in suds...who said "wash your troubles away"?

Thankfully the fine people at Woolite recognize my condition...some may say they even pander to it. Woolite Original washes whites and colors and Woolite Dark is specially designed not to fade blacks or greys. Their website ( even has a fabric care center that gives hints for washing, drying, and caring for different fabrics.

Sweaters that don't have fuzzy balls on them after a few months or dark jeans that stay dark...surely that's worth a little manual labor...

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