Thursday, August 14, 2014

Madewell picks

Madewell has become my go-to store these days, surprisingly as I always found their clothes disappointing in person. I believe they have a new design team and I like what they're doing. Additionally, their clothes have the kind of ease (and washability) that works when you are running after a very active toddler. Here are a few pieces I'm likely to get if they are still in stock next time they have an extra percentage off.

It's cotton, a print, washable and has some interest around the collar. It also has pockets.

Not yet on sale, this one has mixed reviews but it's in cotton and has pockets. I'd definitely have to try it on as the other poncho dress they had looked ridiculous on, even in a size S (two sizes down).

This oversize lightweight linen cardigan is perfect--just what I need right now to cover my summer dresses when I take Severin out for a walk at 7 am or 6 pm. It's on sale but I need a promo to bite.

This one I own. It's so much nicer in person although it's more brown than orange-y red. I could wear it every day.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lauren Bacall

Just the other day, I found a website listing the decreasing number of surviving Hollywood stars. I confess I was most interested in the few surviving figures from the silent screen--surprisingly a couple of (then) teenagers from the very late 1920s are still alive, although none reached any level of prominence. Lauren Bacall was on the list, but she wasn't the oldest and it wasn't a surprise (although I had no idea her near contemporary Lizabeth Scott was still with us). Just a teenager at the start of her career in the mid-1940s, she was one of the younger stars of the Classical era. Still working, tough, witty and in charge of all her faculties and still attractive, she appeared to be indestructible, a centenarian in the making despite her smoking habit.

Of course, she wasn't. On balance, I suppose a stroke at 89 is probably not the worst way to go but the loss of such an iconic figure is very sad. Besides losing such a talented figure who seemed like such a great woman, we've lost one of the few remaining links to Hollywood at its finest. I shouldn't say this as a film scholar, but the more I see of contemporary American film, the more my adolescent belief that the beginning of sound and the Paramount decrees severely diminished cinema seems less prejudicial and more accurate. (I now allow for the genius of much 1960s cinema and the work of later auteurs like Stanley Kubrick). Obviously, there are great films from every era--Joe Wright, Michael Winterbottom, Wong Kar Wai and Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Sofia Coppola are always interesting/brilliant but they aren't exactly of the mainstream, which used to be so strong.

I remember watching To Have and Have Not as an undergraduate. I was resentful that we had to study the stodgy Howard Hawks as an auteur not the more thrilling Langs of the year earlier, but he did bring Bacall to prominence and showcase her at her most beautiful. Watching that film, it's amazing that this was her first screen work--her presence is so strong and composed and she is utterly compelling. By the 1950s, she had taken on a more down-to-earth persona that was perhaps a little too mature for a 20-something, which was, perhaps, a reflection of 1950s fashions and feminine ideals. But at the end of the day, you can see why the men in The Cobweb, Written on the Wind and How To Marry a Millionaire might have favoured her characters over her more glamourous, flighty and/or neurotic costars.

Throughout her life, Bacall could act, was beautiful, mythical and bright, had a conscience, a brain and latterly showed us all how to age with style and grace. I'm glad she was with us so long but wish she could have survived just a little longer. Rest in well deserved peace.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Zara picks

I'm still at a stage where I can't contemplate spending a lot of money on clothes. We're well past the  infant messiness, but I want to be able to play without worries in clothing that's both easy and machine washable and I don't want to feel that anything can be destroyed by a messy toddler hand. Recently Severin grabbed the back of my new dress from & Other Stories with a chocolate covered hand but it was machine washable (and cheapish) so it didn't matter and the stain washed out. I suppose my priorities have changed--I still love clothes but I want to save for the boy and any sibling I hope he may have.

For the autumn/late summer, I like these pieces from Zara:

I like the colour, I like the fact that it's a print (better to disguise any spills) and while I know it's synthetic, I'm inclined to buy this one now. With a cardigan, tights and boots, it will take me into November.

It looks comfy, elegant and useful but as it is black (and I've got too many black dresses), I may pass. But still a nice option for the new semester. I like the fact it's really drapey, especially after having a child.

This one is lovely. That said, I'm annoyed as it's one of those Zara pieces I loved and would have probably paid full price (and it's a steep $129 for a synthetic) but they chose to only make it in S and M. Why on earth would they do that? If you are tall, like me, it doesn't take that much to need a L at Zara. What a stupid decision on their part.

Love the fabric and the style. The colours reminds me of discount Rachel Comey. It's from the junio TRF line so I'm not sure if it will fit or if it will look too cheap but I may order it anyway (returns are free).

Zara's knitwear is actually pretty decent and this cotton mix sweater looks like a perfect autumn option, pulled over either of the blue dresses above or worn with jeans.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Sweetest Boy in Town

I'm at a conference in London and missing the boy but I'll be back with this sweet face and sweeter temperament tomorrow. I can't wait to hear his giggles and cuddle up with him.

Here's Severin on South West Trains examining his own photos on my iPad.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day

To Dad, to Evan, to my brothers and male friends, to all the fathers I know, Happy Father's Day. We spent today with Evan's parents and went out to eat at an Argentinian restaurant. Severin, a budding carnivore, tried some steak and chicken but preferred french fries, yogurt and blueberries. He enjoyed his first gelato (chocolate) on the hot and sunny walk home. Thank you to all those fathers who made this afternoon possible and will hopefully make that dream of another baby a reality too.

Above: Severin skyping Grandma and Grandpa with his Daddy.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


I'm trying not to look at expensive clothes and accessories. I'm saving for bigger things and I still have so many boxes of Prada, Miu Miu and Marc Jacobs shoes in their pristine never worn state. I realise that so many of the high end brands just aren't that comfortable, made for those who get a car to events and don't have to worry about walking around the city and taking public transport. I'm not buying cheap, but selectively looking at the higher end of midrange brands (Surface to Air, Fiorentini + Baker), none of which are inexpensive.

But these shoes caught my eye when Caroline and I were looking at expensive skirts at Barneys. Even at 40% off, they are over $500. While there are some left in my size, I'm not tempting myself by going to try them on. If it's meant to be at 70-80% off, I'll splurge but I doubt they will be there. Instead, I may just have to enjoy their beauty on a screen.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tocca Sample Sale, Spring 2014

It's been a while since I went to a sample sale--the last one being Tocca's Winter 2013. With a baby and a career, shopping has taken a backseat. Not just because I can't justify running around after a sometimes messy toddler in certain clothes, but because I just don't have the time.

I found it for Tocca (squeezing minutes out of my precious work time) because I love the brand--ever since I discovered Lyell around 2006, Emma Fletcher's dresses, tops, coats, jackets and knitwear have been among my favourites. Many of her pieces have enduring value and I was pleased when Tocca took her on in 2011 and then opened up their West Village boutique. Why it shuttered, I have no idea, but ever since, it's been really difficult to find her clothes. Tocca's website sells a selection but some of the nicer pieces aren't available there and there are very few online stockists--shopbop has it but only select pieces in the smaller sizes. Last December, I went to my very first Tocca sample sale far out on the West side. I hadn't been able to make earlier ones due to pregnancy, breast feeding and even being out of the US. I was pleased to buy three pieces (two black linen/silk blend tops with lace trim and a wool blend open jacket/shirt). I was frustrated then as the line runs small and the smaller sizes (0, 2 and 4) were filled with wondrous items but the 8s and particularly my size 10 rack featured few items, most of them dull, and some of them cut so small that the average size 6 may have just about fit into them.

I went to the friends and family portion of the sale with Caroline today. Not only were the 0, 2 and 4 racks bulging, again with pieces not available anywhere else that I'd have snapped up--loose silk tops and dresses in interesting prints, sweet blouses, lovely black dresses--but the 8 and 10 racks were beyond pitiful. Very limited stock and most of the great pieces were not represented. I ended up with a jacket I'd liked online ($100 down from $575) so that was a good deal, but it was painful to watch tiny-framed women trying on arm fulls of clothing that I'd have loved to buy but were not available above a size 4 (given the way Tocca cuts, that's really a 2).

I asked at the check out why the small sizes--even the 6 selection was pretty miserable--to be told that retailers only want these sizes. I presume that's wrong--especially when one of the major Tocca stockists told me she wanted the larger sizes, that those were in high demand, but the brand didn't make them. I also recalled the assistant in the W. Village boutique telling me that many customers requested size 12s or at least a size 10 cut more true to size.

I know I'm not the tiny girl I used to be. I know youth and thinness are prized in our society, but I'm appalled that a woman-helmed brand can't accommodate people over a small size 4. Granted the huge amount of very small sized clothing may have reaffirmed my belief that these sizes don't sell (Tocca's own website always shows the size 10s selling out first, in the items that are actually made this big, even though that may be because just one was made). But speaking to their staff it seems that the brand has just focused on the very smallest end of the market. As a loyal customer of too many years standing, it makes me feel alienated, angry and frustrated in equal measure. Granted I now have the cash to spend on other things or to save for greater goals (like a second baby), but something feels wrong. First world problems, perhaps, but hardly good for most women's body image.

Certainly, I think I might take some of the money I saved and spend it at Madewell or & Other Stories.  Or some other retailer that makes plenty of clothing I can buy in my size.