This is the only friend, the end

On the way home today I stopped to watch a dinosaur die. Not, you understand, that any time travel was involved. The dinosaur in question is the Carson, Pirie, Scott store on State Street in Chicago. I wasn't drawn in by the 70% off signs or the proclaimations that "everything must (indeed) go"...instead it was the architecture that was the attraction. The building was designed by Louis Sullivan and, on the outside at least, is beautiful. Inside the search for architectural integrity is more "Where's Waldo?" in nature. Find the marble water fountain...or the art deco air vent...the wooden panelling surrounding the entrance way. Look for the beauty encased in trash.
The reason that the store went out of business is obvious...there are only so many people who will buy Guess handbags or polyester suits...and walking through the departments was like a trip to the 80's. But even so, no matter how bad the merchandise, it is sad that the building will no longer be a department store. Condominums are in it's future.

As more and more department stores meet their maker the question arises, are they the retail dinosaur? In London, you can visit Selfridges and realize that department stores can work...and work well...but will they only work in London or Paris or New York?


The end of the world as we know it...

There are a lot of concerns related to fashion…am I spending too much? Will I wear this more than once? And the popular, does my bum look big in this? Now, according to the NY Times, I’m partially responsible for Global Warming as well! It’s a lot for a girl to deal with.
In the article, and underlying report, we’re told that “clothes – and fast clothes in particular – are a large and worsening source of the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming, because of how they are both produced and cared for”. There are also some suggestions on what can be done:

Barbara Kruger

Air drying clothes instead of tumble drying them – I’m ahead of the curve on this one as I hand-wash and air-dry a lot of my clothes

Buying more expensive and durable clothing that can be worn for years – this sounds like the ultimate rationalization argument, “yes, it’s expensive…but I’m saving the planet”

“Leasing” clothes and returning them at the end of the month so that they can be lent to someone else (like library books) – no, no, and no again

So, I was wondering…will this affect anyone’s buying habits? Would you turn your back on an item of clothing because you knew what it was doing to the planet? Would you lease your clothes?


The highs and lows

Sometimes you read something and it just makes you scratch your head and wonder what is happening. Now, I am a conspicuous consumer...I freely admit it...but occasionally even I have question the shopping Gods. For instance, I was browsing Colette's site and saw this...

The Proenza Schouler for Target collection comes to colette for a limited-time only !
The collection will be sold from february 19th to march 5th, marking the first time Target merchandise will be available for sale outside the U.S.
colette has carried the Proenza Schouler brand from its beginning and is excited to support designers Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough’s Proenza Schouler for Target collection.
Inspired by designers Hernandez and McCollough’s chic downtown style, the collection is comprised of silk and jersey dresses, tops in striking prints, swimwear, jackets, sweaters and skirts.
Thirty styles of the Proenza Schouler for Target collection will be available for fifteen days on the first floor of colette

Don't get me wrong, from the pictures I've seen the collection looks great...and this may be some kind of ironical statement but I don't think it is. For one thing, I highly doubt that the pieces will be priced similarly between the two stores. For another, the majority of Colette shoppers can afford the designers' main collection and don't need to buy the cheaper alternative (i.e. save some for the rest of us).

I'm probably being irrational...I enjoy a bargain and have happily bought items from some of the H&M collaborations and was planning on taking a look at the PS collection when it hit Target. Perhaps I'm just being a reverse-snob...


Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio

It's probably evidence of a very morbid outlook but I have an ongoing fixation with skulls. And even though I have a fair selection of "cranial couture" I still seem to need more. The latest thing to catch my eye are these Ildara flats by Pedro Garcia...from a distance, they're just black flats...but once you get closer a vast variety of morbid symptoms appear.

Cashmere sweater - Lucien Pellat-Finet (worn with vintage Gaultier puffball skirt), necklace - Chloe, scarf - Topshop, earrings - H&M


Baby, it's cold outside...

Today's high temperature was 32 degrees, which means it fell under two of the seasonal clothing categories:

1) a day when, much as you'd like it to be otherwise, fashion has to give way to warmth
2) due to category #1, and the layers it entails, most of your outfit is hidden from the general populus (which can be a good or bad thing) and is yours to do with as you will

Which meant a day of juxtapositions...on the outside a touch of Ali MacGraw in Love Story (tweed coat and striped scarf)...on the inside French vintage gangsta (Resistance RT sweatshirt "A COEUR VAILLANT RIEN D'IMPOSSIBLE" and a necklace from Club Monaco made from vintage diamante buttons found in a French market).

It's the sartorial equivalent of the Cadbury's Creme Egg...hidden under the chocolate is the weird yellow/white fondant...who knew?


objet trouvé

When I was a child I used to enjoy walking along some of the windswept beaches in Scotland, picking up things that had been washed ashore...wood, bleached and stripped of it's bark...pieces of glass, polished smooth by being rubbed against the sand as the waves hit the shore...once I even found a Sindy doll, battered and chewed, a true woman of the world.
Perhaps that's why I love Thea Grant's jewelry collections; they're an urban take on my childhood collecting. At the moment I'm leaning towards the bow bracelet or the NY subway token bracelet but the necklaces are very tempting as well...


Whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad…

A couple of days ago I had dinner with a friend and, not surprisingly, we got onto the topic of handbags. Without touching wood or clutching a 4-leaf clover or any other kind of lucky talisman I boldly announced that I was “doing really well and hadn’t bought a new bag in ages”. Lightening bolts didn’t start raining down on me as I made that statement but you could tell that Fate was just waiting for the right time…

I’d bought a copy of Nylon on my way to the restaurant but hadn’t had a chance to look at it. When I did my nemesis was waiting…

First off, I have to say that I’m not usually a fan of Burberry handbags, mainly because they make me think of concession stands at airports. (Sorry advertising execs, no matter how many children of the rich and famous are shown in the Burberry ads I’m still not an enthusiast.) This bag, however, is different. A wonderful mix of canvas and ostrich…perfect for the summer…with plenty of pockets to store all the flotsam and jetsam of life. This bag I need.


A flower by any other name...

When I first saw these floral headbands from Louis Vuitton I had two thoughts...

1) I could make that!
2) Do I want to make that?

I'm still caught in the middle on this...part of me says "how romantic and girly and belle-dame-sans-merci"-ish and the other part says "I'll look like a deranged bag lady".

Which way will I fall? Only time will tell.


I see a lily on thy brow
With anguish moist and fever dew,
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
Fast withereth too.


I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful—a faery’s child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.


I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She look’d at me as she did love,
And made sweet moan.

John Keats


Loco for Coco

The lovely folks at Decades recently added some 90’s Chanel earrings to their site. To me, it was like a car crash...I didn’t want to look but I couldn’t help myself. It’s probably guilt; I have some Chanel jewelry from the 80’s and 90’s that was my mother’s and the majority of it languishes in a drawer. It’s just so...big and...well, that really sums it up...big ‘n’ gold (actually, I should probably add that the earrings are clip-on and cause serious pain after about 2 minutes of wear).

In Decades-speak it all sounds so good...”make a you step from the backseat of your Maybach”...”if you don’t have these earrings then you really don’t have it all”...”they may be hard to wear...but (if you) want to look a little Hood, a touch of gold is all it takes to make the cross-over”.

Maybe it’s me, but I look at these earrings and see neither ‘hood nor having-it-all...I just feel like I’m about to become at extra from Dynasty. This is obviously the fashion roadblock that I need to overcome...maybe with a turtleneck...or a subdued outfit...or a bag over my head...I can actually wear these things.


A paradox, a paradox, a most amusing paradox...

I don't wear a lot of make-up...generally limiting myself to bursts of color on the lips or, of course, I got excited when I saw the gloss lacquers in shu uemura's limited edition Paradox collection.

Who could resist putting Radical Fuchsia, Irrational Purple, or Invincible Pink on their lips? Not I, said the fly.

To quote Mr. Shu Uemura...
"Perfect Beauty exists in imperfection. Paradox, where everything seems to be incompatible, you will find that every paradox results in beauty."


Something fishy...

The Spring/Summer collection from APC is now online and as a huge fan of the label I'm depressed that there's not much that catches my eye. Not much, that is, except for these flat sandals in brown galuchat leather. I couldn't understand the $499 pricetag until I looked up "galuchat" and discovered that it is sharkskin or stingray skin and takes its name from Louis XV's master leather artisan, Jean-Claude Galuchat. Stingray usually makes me think of 1930's cigarette cases but these sandals are completely modern with no hint of nostalgia.

Sadly I think these will remain on the "to be admired from afar" list...and on my "to do" list I'm adding a note to stop finding expensive shoes...


Two minds with but a single thought

I've done some plaid posts recently...and I've done some yellow posts...perhaps a fitting way to move on and start obsessing about something new is this picture of a girl in Paris.

The core of the outfit is muted but the cape and bag add such a wonderful exuberance...


Bags...scarves...bags of fun

A while ago I posted about a handy little vintage Hermes booklet which I have that shows multiple ways to tie a silk scarf. Times have changed and technology now brings…the instructional video. I found four play-by-play scarf tying vignettes on Louis Vuitton’s website. Three of them are very basic scarf-round-neck or scarf-on-head examples that I didn’t think would be much of a thrill for anyone…even a scarf junkie like me.

The one below though shows how to create a bag from your scarf…technically a bag for your bag as the resulting scarf bag would be so easy for a pickpocket to pick that you may as well just hand your wallet to them. So, instead I’ll say it’s a decorative container for your bag…a way to carry a beaten-up but useful bag and have it look much nicer than it is…or a way to see more of the pattern on your scarf that you would if it was tied around your neck…in other words, utterly frivolous and lacking in purpose but fun.

What a good way to start the weekend!


Punk? Call it Filthy Lucre

I've previously referenced my miserly behavior when it comes to shoes. I wish it wasn't the case...and never more so than when I see a pair like these metal studded flats from Marc Jacobs. What more could an upscale punk princess ask for? These would add a subtle edge to any outfit but (and it is a massive but) they retail for $575. Massive gulp...deep breath...sound of Sid Vicious rolling in his grave...

My mind is now filled with ways to create budget versions...100 pyramid studs for $11.25 at Crustpunks...ballet flats from Free People $58-$78...


Death by...handbag?

Okay, a major exageration article on Yahoo regarding injuries caused by large, heavy bags made me wonder. Would I carry a bag even if it caused me pain? Regretably, the answer is probably yes...or "which bag?" at the very least.

The thing is though...I've never actually been "in pain" due to my handbag. I've wished that I'd picked a clutch...or decided that the Westwood plaid would have been better than the Cunard tote...but felt actual pain, no. Does this mean I am a freak with with a very high pain threshold? Well maybe, but let's look at a couple of the recommendations from physical therapists and ergonomics specialists quoted in the article...

Designers should "place a cute, educational caution tag on bags to inform of potential neck and shoulder dangers"...what woman who loves handbags would ever pay attention to a "cute, educational tag"? If a Birkin bag was radioactive people she would still buy it.

"If it (a big bag) is a fashion accessory, then occasional and symbolic use is fine."...two questions...what qualifies as occasional... once a week...once a month...will my "fashion accessory" no longer be in fashion by the time I can next use it? And, I'd like to hope (think) that I don't fall under the "symbolic use" category...I buy a bag because I love it. Yes, I'll love an "it bag"...but I'm just as likely to fall for a plastic bag if I love the way it looks.

Maybe the answer is what I'm putting in my bag as opposed to the bag itself...the essentials but not the kitchen sink...or maybe I just have superhuman strength?


Not so mellow yellow

At the moment I'm caught in a fashion quandary. In concept I like the oh-so-bright yellow that's making its presence reality...well...I am pale (very, very pale) and this is a color that just screams "wear me with tanned skin or suffer the consequences". So, if I do start down that yellow brick road I think small doses are the way to go.

If money were no object this patent leather B bag from Fendi would be fun. How could you possibly feel depressed swinging this baby around?
Coming swiftly back to reality (and a second, much more affordable option) this a-line skirt from J Crew has definite possibilities. Admittedly, it doesn't fall under the "small shot of color"'s more the "blast from the paint cannon"...but it, pardon the expression, caught my eye and now I'm considering it.

In the end though, I think that the best solution for me would be some ballet flats. With jeans the color would be far enough away from my pallid pelt to cause any issues and worn with black tights I could do my interpretation of the dance of the bumble bee...


Good day sunshine

It is bitterly cold, a steady drizzle of snow is falling, and the sidewalk is slippery and mushy at the same time...and what do I find myself thinking about? Sunglasses. I obviously need help.

As I'm not being stalked by paparazzi there probably won't be many opportunities for me to wear new sunglasses in the near future but, as I'm obsessing about them, I may as well look at some of my options for when the sun begins to shine again. Sunglasses are one of the few accessories that I haven't overbought so, at the moment, I am actually limited in my shocked me too when I realized this...enough bags and scarves to start a shop but when it comes to eyewear...

The first couple of pairs that I have been looking at are from iWood and are handmade from substainable exotic woods. Not only do they look amazing but I get to salve my conscience and feel "green" as well.
Another nice bonus is that they are currently on sale...

The final pair that I've been admiring are from Karen Walker...

Yes, I do have a bug-eyed theme going but larger glasses suit me so...the "well dressed insect look" it is. At the moment this is just window shopping anyway as I'm cautious about buying glasses online (they seem to require being seen on the face before being purchased), and there's no rush...days like this make it seem like the sun will never shine again.


Tell me yes or tell me no

This definitely falls under the heading of "so wrong, it's right"...I can't help myself...something is drawing me to this vintage Leonard batwing jersey top at Decades. Great with jeans, interesting with a suit...gloriously tacky.


Service...or the lack thereof

Recently I've had to ask myself, whatever happened to customer service? Thankfully, I've rarely had an issue in an actual store but some recent online experiences have left me bemused...I am "virtually" (pardon the pun) waving my credit card in their faces and...nothing. To clarify, I'm not wanting perks...I just want someone to respond to a question. Here's what happened...

Case A
I wanted a pair of Repetto ballet flats but was having a hard time finding them. I spotted them on a website that had been recently hyped in several magazines. The website's sizing selection box was a little confusing as the size guide featured Italian and French sizes but the options box just gave the numbers, like "39" or "40". A sweater offers some leeway with sizing but really need to know what size you're actually ordering. So, I called their customer service number and left a message. I explained my sizing question and also mentioned that I would order a pair of shoes as soon as I got their response. No response that day. No response that week. I left the voicemail mid-December and, to date, no response.

Case B
I saw someone carrying a beautiful Vivienne Westwood bag and managed to track it down to a UK website. The company's shipping page didn't say whether they shipped outside the UK or not so I sent them an e-mail. Absolutely no response. Not even a "sorry, no".

What happened? Is it a case of out-of-sight, out-of-mind? Am I supposed to bombard them with calls or e-mails? If so, I guess I'm out of luck. I'm not going to be a fashion stalker and, to be quite honest, I'm not going to beg somebody to take my money. Fashion is fickle and, with so many choices available to consumers, perhaps online boutiques should consider how they treat potential customers....after all...

"Fool me once, shame on you
Fool me twice, shame on me."


1+1 =

Take one of my most recent obsessions, the trench, and add another, plaid...what do you get? This boat-necked coat from TopShop. Admittedly not the most practical trench in the world as more rain would probably go down your neck than would be kept off your body but, is practicality everything?


The need for speed

When I saw this picture on The Sartorialist it reinforced for me just how good a vintage Speedy can look. I say "vintage" because the leather trim on the newer bags is much paler and will never mellow to the same nut brown color as the leather on the older ones. At the moment it seems that the Speedy a bit of a fashion pariah so it's wonderful to see someone carrying one and looking so good...her companions accessories are also perfect, I'm usually not a huge fan of this style of Chloe shoe but in this instance it works.
My own Speedy just about falls under the vintage umbrella. It was actually my first "good" bag, purchased when I was 14 or 15 and used relentlessly. Happily, it seems to be virtually's been crushed, squashed, and sat's withstood rain and snow and, once it had been left to dry out, always looked as good as new. Well, I say "good as new" but it's gained a kind of worn beauty...


Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho…it’s off to work we go

The other day I saw a question that someone had posted in an online forum regarding the age old question of what to wear to work in a regular office environment (i.e. non-creative with potential dress code restrictions) and it got me thinking. This is something that took me a long time to come to terms with as I moved from a creative workplace, where I could wear anything, to a traditional-style office. Initially, and embarrassingly, I tried to “fit in” but the clothing wasn’t me and removing that part of myself made me miserable. We spend so much of our lives at work…do we really have to subjugate our sense of style all that time?

So, I came to a decision…I wear the clothes I want…”good” clothes (I’m not wearing trackpants and sneakers) and clothes that express who I am. It’s true that I look different from my co-workers and it’s also true that I get comments, both good and bad, on what I wear…but at least I feel like me. Ok, I make some adjustments to my outfits…if I want to wear something really funky I’ll tone down the rest of the outfit (I’ll wear my Pellat-Finet skull sweater under a black blazer or tie my McQueen karma sutra scarf so that you can’t see what the skeletons are doing unless you get really close). It’s “me-lite”…90% of the style, none of the calories.

I’m no worse at my job because I’m dressed the way I want to be dressed. In fact, I’m probably a better, and happier, worker because of it. Isn’t it time that companies realized this?

As Patrick McGoohan said in the cult 60’s television show, ...The Prisoner, “I am not a number, I am a free man!”.


Ask not for whom the bell tolls...

You know how it is? You like a specific "look" it into your daily style...enjoy it...and see it on (insert generic brand here)'s website and...the end is in sight. In this case the g.b. is Banana Republic. It's not that I hate Banana Republic; far from it, I've bought several things there that always get a suprised "you got it where?" when I wear them. However, as shown by the number of women on my commute home who were wearing capri pants and pointy-toed, high-heeled boots, once they feature a certain "style" it's seen on every corner. It's the fashion Starbucks effect.

It appears that the latest casualty will be the shirt-under-dress look, one of my personal favorites. Sure, it's a little nerdy am I. Plus, there are times when you want to wear your "pretty" dress without showing all that skin. But now, will I be faced with a sea of women...all wearing their office shirts under a dress? You hear that bell ringing? I think the answer is yes.


Pattern play

Elements of this dress and tunic from Australian design team Lydia Pearson and Pamela Easton of Easton Pearson remind me of the work of London based designers Eley Kishimoto...the patterns...the sense of fun...but then I took a closer look and saw the embelishments and knew that it was something different altogether.

Now I have clothes from two design teams to lust after when I want to change the patterns in my life.


Bags of plaid - redux

We now welcome a late contender to the "overpriced but adorable, is-it-plastic, plaid bag" debate. The early contestants...fantastically priced Louis Vuitton, funky DSM, and bag from the market on the corner are joined by...

Jack Spade's "Canal Street" (oh-so-subtle irony) New York bag. Strangely enough, this is the one I feel most offended by. All they did was put a Jack Spade tag on one of the regular plastic market bags...this is making the LV version look good, at least it's leather!


All bags great and small – Part VI - the inheritance

I've mentioned in previous posts that my grandmother was a very stylish lady. A subdued luxury oozed from every pore...though, of course, she would not have appreciated my use of the word ooze. One of her favorite phrases was that "a lady never tells her age"...well, if she wouldn't spill the digits she certainly wouldn't ooze...

When she died, I inherited her handbag. It's either crocodile or alligator (I've never been able to figure out which so if anyone knows, please let me know), lined with a toffee colored suede...and inside the bag, a large mirror covered in the same skin for "repairs". Originally a large, duffel kind of travel bag which became too worn and was salvaged into the bag you see in these pictures. Perhaps that's why I love travel...I'm always trying to recreate the ideal of that kind of may have been a duffel, but what a duffel it was.

Sadly, I use this bag infrequently...more due to a fear of anything happening to it than for other reasons. It is, after all, a very useful bag.

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