"It's okay to be crazy, but don't be insane." - P. Diddy

Ankle socks with heels? Yep...fine...with you in theory...sense of balance and not having the colt-ish pins required to pull off the look withstanding. Ankle-wrapped slides with white ankle socks...like those from Prada's 2011 resort collection?


Just...no. I'm getting a One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest...I've just been given out-patient status...I'm not crazy, I just like setting fire to coffee tables...vibe. Combine that with a trailing white fur...arm full of bangles...and "this is going to look good on exactly 2% of the population" brightly colored, wide, elasticized belt...and the men in white coats can surely only be two steps behind...


"Never say never, for if you live long enough, chances are you will not be able to abide by its restrictions." - Gloria Swanson

The only problem with making firm, declarative statements is that unless you are also strong-willed and single-minded (i.e. someone other than me) you end up having to back-pedal a little. So, when I recklessly declared that "I am not a sandals girl" I should...in actuality...have probably added a proviso or two along the way...

The amended, and about as firm as a bowl of jello, statement reads "I'm not a sandals girl except...when they have enough straps to ensure that my feet will actually stay inside the shoes (thereby alleviating the constant dread that self and shoe will part company at some point during the day)...that the aforementioned straps are heavily embellished with burnished gold sequins...that there's a satisfyingly chunky zip at the heel...and that they're on sale"...because, should all those criteria be met, it turns out that I am a sandal girl after all.





"One of the best lessons children learn through video games is standing still will get them killed quicker than anything else" - Jinx Milea

You know you're a nerd (or, at the very least, have geek-ish tendencies) when you come across Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros wall decals...and, despite the fact that they go with nothing in your apartment...and would be about as of out-of-place as an icicle in a sauna...you spend a few delirious moments contemplating whereabouts you could display them in all their pixel-y glory...



"I know I am, I'm sure I am..."

As I get ready to watch England play Germany in the World Cup I'm almost forced to inquire where everyone stands on the idea of 'women wearing sporting jerseys for teams with male players'...to clarify, I'm not talking about wearing a Nike shirt to go to the gym or a hockey shirt to sleep in...but, rather, showing your support for your team by wearing a) a small size of the men's jersey, b) buying the women's fit of the same, or c) buying the baby blue or pink (because they're always baby blue or pink because that's what we girls wear, right?) ladies shirt.

Personally, I can't do it. I'll pledge my team allegiance with a scarf, a beer glass, or a particularly fruity chant but not a shirt...which the British side of my mind firmly classes as chav-y...a slightly bizarre piece of thinking given that I'm perfectly willing to wear a St George's Cross flag as scarf/cape for the morning.



"Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky..."

Time for another useful (exclamation...question mark) post...it's like a riddle "when does the practical become the covetable?" It can happen, as previously mentioned, with Hermès bracelets...it also happens when you take a length of durable water repellent fabric and enough drawstrings and toggles to strike envy into the heart of even the most pious boy scout and use them to create a dress whose ruching has the potential to be decidedly Baroque (in a muted way). I say 'potential' because all those drawstrings allow the wearer to adjust the length (and amount of swagging).

So...in a monsoon you can go long and plain for maximum rain protection...whilst in milder times short and swag-gy is a possibility.

Part of a collaboration between Slow and Steady Wins the Race and Portland's Stand Up Comedy...the range includes ponchos and shoes and is currently (and, as someone who's been diligently checking their site on a weekly basis waiting for it to happen, may I say finally) on sale. Thereby providing a spot of sunshine amidst all the rain we've been experiencing lately...



Cabbages...kings...Henry IV...and headbands...

"How many thousand of my poorest subjects
Are at this hour asleep! O sleep, O gentle sleep,
Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee
And hush'd with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber,
Than in the perfumed chambers of the great,
Under the canopies of costly state,
And lull'd with sound of sweetest melody?
O thou dull god, why liest thou with the vile
In loathsome beds, and leavest the kingly couch
A watch-case or a common 'larum-bell?
Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast
Seal up the ship-boy's eyes, and rock his brains
In cradle of the rude imperious surge
And in the visitation of the winds,
Who take the ruffian billows by the top,
Curling their monstrous heads and hanging them
With deafening clamour in the slippery clouds,
That, with the hurly, death itself awakes?
Canst thou, O partial sleep, give thy repose
To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude,
And in the calmest and most stillest night,
With all appliances and means to boot,
Deny it to a king? Then happy low, lie down!
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."
Henry IV. Part II



"...that wasn't a proposal. I'm just curious..."

Reggie Lampert: Is there a Mrs. Joshua?
Peter Joshua: Yes, but we are divorced.
Reggie Lampert: Oh, that wasn't a proposal. I'm just curious.

Charade, 1963

There's a scene...near to the beginning of the 60's spy classic, Charade...when Audrey Hepburn's character returns to her luxurious Parisian apartment, Vuitton luggage in tow, and discovers that everything is gone. The cupboards are, quite literally, bare...as are the walls, floors, and every other aspect of the interior landscape. Yet there she stands...impeccably dressed amidst the destruction...looking charmingly elegant, if a little confused.

I mention this because I could think of very little else when I gazed at the pictures of Celine's 2011 resort collection. There was the peeling paint...the bare, empty rooms...and the relentlessly chic young woman pacing the parquet.




There was even a prospective, and fittingly distressed, DIY consideration...in the shape of what can only be termed a tea towel bag...at least, by me, as I'm one of the few people who refuses to use a dishwasher and chooses to hand dry my pots and pans instead. The mind (rather inelegantly, I'll admit) boggles at what the original will cost when it appears on the shelves of Barneys or some similar abode...especially given that rather luxe dish towels can usually be found for under ten dollars...



Birds fly over the rainbow...

"Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true."


Of course...on the other hand...there's also the thunder, lightening, and oddly yellow light in which "happy little bluebirds" would fly only if they had a death wish...

The weather, this summer, is very odd...


"Quality means doing it right when no one is looking." - Henry Ford

You only really appreciate how well made something is when it takes several days...comprised in equal quantities of patience, swearing, and a high degree of hand to eye coordination...to take it apart.

When Mr. Heb grew tired of a rather snazzy, and subtly patriotic, shirt from the Gap I knew that I wanted to do something with the fabric. "This will be easy" said my (obviously delusional) inner voice...lulling me into a false sense of security..."you can unpick those seams in seconds". All I can say, now that the dust has cleared and I am nearly cross-eyed from staring at yards of white stitching is "HA!"...possibly even an "Oh yeah? Says you!"...and definitely a "You stinking little liar!"


For the shirt didn't just have single seams...or double seams...oh, no sir...those suckers were three deep. Sewn and re-sewn...so that the gentleman about town could rest safe in the knowledge that nothing short of an explosion would cause the disintegration of his shirting.

Not being one to admit defeat...at least not when my foe is a cotton shirt...I persevered...and ended up with a decent amount of use able fabric. The first project was an (embarrassingly easy) cushion cover...after the battle of destruction I needed simplicity when it came to construction...but I still have a fair amount left for some side projects. One thing is certain though...I will never...on any account...underestimate the quality of Gap's clothing again...



"To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man's life." - T.S. Eliot

It's a little difficult to type the words "useful" and "Hermès" in the same sentence...it's like suggesting that a seven course dinner is a "snack"...or that Buckingham Palace is a "quaint little pied-à-terre". Be that as it may, I do honestly think that their Jumbo hook bracelet (aka the birthday gift) is "useful"...in that the leather and gold will work with almost anything...and the classic design is more "understated luxe" than "ostentatious bling". Of course, I could be a little biased on this one...



A-Tisket, A-Tasket...

This summer I seem to be besotted by the classics...cotton...linen...leather...things that have a timeless quality and will, barring mishaps or stain-related incidents involving sunscreen or Slurpees, see me through many summers to come. The most recent items to catch my eye in this category are these French market baskets.


Practical...sturdy...kind to the planet...and so astoundingly 'right' that they'd invest a boring run to the store for some toothpaste with the charm of a stroll through a street market in the south of France...okay, that's maybe going a little too far...but you get the point...


"A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman's birthday but never remembers her age." - Robert Frost

A little bit of wishful/aspirational thinking in my vintage card selection this year...but, if you're not allowed a liberal dash of artistic license on your birthday, when are you?



This little piggy went to market...

I know that I've previously discussed my love for Cost Plus World Market...probably to the intense irritation of those of you who live nowhere near one of their stores...but I can't help it. Simply put, it's a wonderland...I totter in looking for a British candy bar or a jar of curry sauce (though, truth be told, it's generally the former)...and I end up back at the cash register with my hands full of all manner of (generally inexpensive and therefore non-guilt inducing) things in addition.

Today's candy run led to the purchase of this (I'm sorry, much as I hate the term I can't think of anything else) 'ethnic' sunglasses case. Some people lose sunglasses...I lose the cases and can never find replacements that I like...this case will be perfect for lugging around my sunglasses this summer (assuming that I can keep it in sight that long).


And...because the walk from candy aisle...to sunglass aisle...to cash register took me past the jewelery display...a pair of 'gold' and 'turquoise' hoop earrings that look a darned site more expensive than their $12.99 price tag implies.


This little piggy cried "Wee! Wee! Wee!" all the way home


"Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning..."

"Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning, and the first thing that I knew
There was milk and toast and honey and a bowl of oranges, too.
And the sun poured in like butterscotch and stuck to all my senses."

- Joni Mitchell

PhotobucketConsidering that the thermometer is perilously close to "no boots unless the entire day will be spent in an air-conditioned environment" point...something that I discovered after an ill-advised stroll in ankle boots the other day...it's a bad time to be (theoretical) boot shopping.

On the one hand, there's the undeniable charm of Balenciaga's rumpled, brogue-ish, Chelsea boots...on the other, there's the fact that just looking at them makes me perspire (because mother said that 'ladies' never sweat...a fact that I disclose in a completely tongue-in-cheek way).




"How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank.
Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears; soft stillness, and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony." - William Shakespeare



"What then in the last resort are the truths of mankind?" - Friedrich Nietzsche

I removed the second line of Nietzsche's quote as it discusses the "irrefutable errors of mankind"...and, as I'm currently gazing at images of Balenciaga's 2011 resort collection I don't want to think in terms of errors. A floral pantsuit destined to be worn by the very thin, very brave, or the small number of souls who decided to save the pennies they would have spent on mirrors and buy Balenciaga instead...maybe...but actual errors...no.

Of particular interest...from a personal, inspiration standpoint as opposed to an actual "oh, look at this bucket of cash...I think I'll go shopping" one...are the demure, yet transparent, shirt dress...and the ladylike, yet exuberant, blouse and floral skirt combo. Both have that 'groomed yet funky' appeal which is so irritatingly difficult to attain...



"There was a perception that life here was - I won't say gray, that's hard for me - but beige." - Hanna Holborn Gray

Considering the amount of rain that's been falling recently it's no wonder that my thoughts are a little greige...the skies are grey...there's more mud than grass in certain areas of the park...and any light colored, summer-y fabrics which have wormed their way into my closet (against my better judgment) are in danger of becoming distinctly soiled.

No wonder that shades of greige's bag caught my eye...the canvas and white leather says "summer"...the fact that the canvas is black says "I know that I'm a stain magnet and am trying my best to be seasonal yet cautious".


"Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised." - Denis Waitley

I'm generally wary when scents are described by their makers as "surprising"...you might want to be entranced or intrigued by a scent...but when was the last time you wanted to be surprised by one?

For once, not even the skull on the packaging can convince me that a combination of black tea, anise, basil and citrus will be surprising in a good way...


"When a sinister person means to be your enemy, they always start by trying to become your friend." - William Blake

Regardless of whether you are a water nymph (à la Esther Williams in any of her 1950's aquamusical performances)...or a confirmed landlubber (like myself)...it's hard to not be attracted to this Sinister Gibbon swimsuit. At first glance the drawings have a restrained classicism...but then you look a little more closely and have to ask yourself why this particular gibbon looks so shifty...and just what the parrot did to incur its wrath?Photobucket


"Money is human power..." - the 3rd Generation Band

Take one part Liberty florals...one part 'message statement' à la Antoni & Alison...add a dash of 70's Ghanan afro-funk-fusion courtesy of the 3rd Generation Band...

And the end result is...a coin purse/make-up bag for the low maintenance/random small thing bag...which will enliven the inner recesses of your handbag for the very budget friendly price of $3.99.



"It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious." - Oscar Wilde

Making a wish list entry is satisfying enough...there's the feeling that you're not just randomly running hither and thither buying 'stuff'...you have (drum roll, please) a plan. Of course, it's even more satisfying when you can actually check something, regardless of whether it's big or small, off the list. I added the size reference because it would be harder to be much tiny-er than my most recent purchase and still be visible to the naked eye.

Still, 'vintage travel charm' was on the list...and vintage travel charm was what I got (working under the mandate that the charm in question should, preferably, be from some spot that I had actually visited and under the proviso that other charms may be added to the collection at some future date). Now I just need to work on all the other entries on the list...and the 'to do' list sitting beside it.


"The rain it raineth on the just And also on the unjust fella, But chiefly on the just, because The unjust steals the just's umbrella" - Charles Bowen

It may be making the grass greener...the blooms lusher...and providing the squirrels and birds with a combination sauna/shower...but the (almost daily) summer downpours are beginning to get me down. Cold rain I can handle...thanks to numerous layers and a British constitution...but I just don't know what to do when confronted with varying degrees of heat and rain...

One of these square umbrellas...a collaboration between Opening Ceremony and Parisian umbrella-fella Guy de Jean...would do the trick...the kerchief design and shape being a very seasonal combination.

Equally cheery...though not quite as user friendly after the temperature hits a certain point...the combined forces of my (newly acquired) terry cloth sweater and (old purchase that I wish I could get more wear out of) yellow rain jacket...



"The speaking in perpetual hyperbole is comely in nothing but love" - Francis Bacon

I tend to think that you're headed for trouble if you own a company and then pick a name for it that (somewhat boastfully) implies a certain level of quality in your products. The tag line's one thing...Mr. Wurst the sausage maker can include the line "Best sausages in the North of England" in his advertising blurb and everyone writes it off as a zestful piece of hyperbole caused by overindulgence in pork products...but if the same Mr. Wurst actually calls his product "Best Sausage" it tends to act as an irritant to the consumer. "It's certainly a very fine sausage", they think, "but I can't say it's the best sausage that ever lay next to a pile of baked beans and a piece of fried bread". And, instinctively, they now have a little less faith in Mr. Wurst's judgment and honesty.

Such was my mindset as I approached the online store of J Crew's sister brand, Madewell...ready to find any small flaw that would suggest the articles in question were not, in fact, well made.

Wanting to be through in my research...and being, as you know, somewhat of a sucker for anything covered in stripes...I ordered three items. #1, a striped flutter tee...which, truth be told, made the model look a little broad around the shoulders but was much more flattering in real life. #2, a thin (striped, once again) Terry sweatshirt...the cousin of which appears in pictures of my 5 year old self...it's hard to argue with the appeal of something that whispers of childhood, and summer, and the beach (even Scottish ones...where the wind blows...and actual sunshine is a rare occurrence). And #3, a pair of khaki, linen, ankle-zipped, pants...


Cynic though I may be I have to admit that all three items are keepers...basics with a little more charm than the term implies. And yet...the name still bothers me...their construction is...fine...closer to Zara than H&M...yet not quite worthy of the moniker 'well made'.


"It is an extra dividend when you like the girl you've fallen in love with" - Clark Gable

Finally (now that Blogger is operational again...self being one of the 'lucky'ones affected by the random outages that happened yesterday)...a little more love...or, Book of Love, to be precise...for those who asked. Just click to enlarge...


"Never ask a woman her age or her weight and never ask a snake handler if he's ever been bitten. It's not polite." - Ken Darnell

Slightly random...oh, alright...exceedingly random...but when the mind is flitting from A to P like a near-sighted butterfly it's hard to argue these things...

My neighborhood used to house...amongst the myriad of nail salons that seem to infiltrate any unused storefront like fleas on a dog...a shoe shop called Slithers. A store that I was never able to pass without unintentionally mis-reading the sign as (an admittedly misogynistic) "Slit hers". A trick of the mind that is unfortunately carrying over to this perfectly respectable snake print silk dress from Stella McCartney...


'Sudden success in golf is like the sudden acquisition of wealth. It is apt to unsettle and deteriorate the character." - P. G. Wodehouse

My usual reasoning for "oh, how nice it would be to have a garden"...as opposed to the area which the real estate agent whimsically referred to as a 'deck' but which even in the rosy glow of the summer sun is best described as a wooden area which houses the trash cans, some disturbingly fat pigeons, and the occasional city raccoon who feels like doing a little mountaineering...runs along the basic lines of desiring a little piece of land which, while it may not be "Forever England", would spread itself to enabling a patch of grass and space for a few blooms and veggies. Currently, however, my longing for a little sod to call my own is occasioned by the outdoor games from Jaques of London. Life, it has to be said, would just be better with a large jug of Pimm's...a giant outdoor Backgammon set...quoits...clock golf...or the myriad of other exquisitely made classic games. Just the thought of it makes me want to dash round yelling "anyone for tennis?" like the bit-part actor in a 1930's play.


I know what you're thinking...a garden is not an absolute necessity to make this scenario work. Technically I could wander over to the local park with my giant dominoes or outdoor Ludo...but it's not really the same when you're worrying if the homeless guy under the tree is going to try and join the fun...or the golden labrador over yonder is going to run off with one of your quoits.



What do you get when you cross a cowboy and a Hawaiian dancer?

I've always considered it somewhat of a mixed blessing that, from a fashion shopping perspective, my neighborhood is somewhat of a barren wasteland. On the one hand, I can venture out...safe in the knowledge that my sole financial expenditure will consist of some freshly ground coffee, the odd bottle of Chianti, or any of the other odds and ends that comprise the Hebden diet™. On the other, it's rare that I'll be able to say "I was running out to get some milk and stumbled across the quaintest little store".Photobucket

Until today...when I was walking down the street and passed the Goorin hat shop which had just opened in the 'hood. Though...as Goorin first began opened its doors in Pittsburgh in 1895...I feel the word emporium would be a better choice. Wooden floors...antique furniture...and a reasonably priced selection of cardboard hatboxes (a rather elusive beast for those who wish to store their hats in modest luxury)...I was a mere voyeur, content to watch Mr. Heb try on fedoras and hombergs, until I spotted a hybrid. Part cowboy hat...part Hawaiian beach party...it seemed a perfect addition to my summer wardrobe...





"When you're away, I'm restless, lonely, Wretched, bored, dejected; only here's the rub, my darling dear, I feel the same when you're near"

I realize that it's an essential part of the summer experience...like your ice cream cone dissolving into a sticky mess before you've managed to consume a quarter of it...or your next door neighbor who practices for American Idol...in front of his open window...naked...at random times of the day and night...but why is it that you can change shoes no less than three times on a summer day only to discover that each pair will rub (and therefore cause agonizing pain) to a different part of your foot?

It's a test of endurance...a Japanese game show where only those impervious to blinding pain survive...a summer ritual...


"a-tishoo!, a-tishoo!...We all fall down." - nursery rhyme

"There's nothing like broadening your horizons", she claimed almost ironically. "Because in this way a singular fixation with skulls gives way to an addiction to stripes and a proclivity for gingham."

Which is why I find myself waxing lyrical about a gingham tissue holder...at one and the same time, the most useless piece of ephemera ever created...and a cute (and very inexpensive) pick-me-up for something that is usually relegated to a life of plastic-wrapped gloom in the bottom of your handbag.



"It takes a minute to have a crush on someone, an hour to like someone and a day to love someone - but it takes a lifetime to forget someone." - anon


Several years ago (actually, it's probably a few more than that...oh, how time flies) Barney's marketing boffins created The Book of Love...idealized pictures from the day-to-day life of a (pardon the pun) model New York-er. Slightly battered though it is around the edges at this point the BoL poster in my possession resides on the back of my closet door...slap bang in the middle of the mood board that (theoretically) provides inspiration whenever I venture inside.


The thing that struck me this morning is that...despite the passage of time...give or take the odd look...I'd still welcome most of the pieces from the BoL into my closet with open arms. Especially if the prices had remained the same...



"Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go." - Truman Capote

Falling under the category of "a great idea but..." are these Venezia travel rings...


The aged silver...and the vintage enamel travel shield charm...merge into the ultimate summer accessory...a constant reminder of the vacations that we yearn for as we perform the day-to-day tasks that seem all the more irksome when the sun is shining...were it not for the fact that something jiggling around on my finger would push me over the brink after about five minutes of wear.

A necklace, however, would be an entirely different matter. Which is why, as I type this, I'm simultaneously trolling eBay for vintage charms...

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