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.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

More Madewell

Madewell seems to have stepped up their game recently, which is perhaps the reason why there haven't been any coupon codes available since I've filled up my basket with items from my wishlist. I tried the white and black dress on the other day while I was on campus and it wasn't so hot--the white fabric is just a bit too much like sheeting and the dress is huge (so much so that a S or even XS might work on me). But I saw a few other pieces that I'm stalking, waiting for at least some of them to go on sale (and hopefully for a 30-40% off coupon although I suspect that's a while off). Madewell doesn't have the same amount of codes as J. Crew and the one currently available is only for swim, something I don't need right now.

This just came in and just as quickly went on sale. I'm not usually a fan of hippyesque items but this style of blouse appeals right now (I already have the navy/white stripe one from Madewell) and am sorely tempted by this one even without a coupon code.

Another reduced item I really like. Pros--it's a shape that works on my body right now, I love the embroidery, the colour is great, it's cotton-linen. Cons--some reviewers point out that it pulls on over the head and that the opening isn't wide. Hoping for a coupon code (chances are, I'm not going to have any luck) as I can see this one being a staple. Along with the top above, I'm really tempted to bite the bullet but I want to be good with money as I'd love another baby more than any dress.

My third reduced item. Love the colour--but do I need three such tops? I definitely need something in this red, however! And all would be good with my still bloated post-baby body.

Pros--perfect linen blouse for summer. Cons--it's white linen (there's a red which is even better but it isn't available in my size--L--as it's sold out). It's also not on sale and I know that perfect white tops turn ugly yellow very quickly regardless of how often you launder them or how they are washed.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


I'm working on a couple of new projects, using conference papers to build arguments, rehearse out ideas and combine into chapters. It's obviously more difficult to find as much time as I did before Severin but I feel more in control of my work and my voice now that I realise how to construct a book, particularly in terms of situating ideas within a broader conceptual framework. I'm getting excited about ideas, research and writing and hope to have at least another contract under my belt soon.

Here's a great image from the cover of July 1920's Photoplay. Archival magazines and trade papers are full of wonderful art and graphics that deserve to be shared.

Monday, May 26, 2014


When I was about 8, there was a hardcover book on my class's bookshelves that seemed incredibly unloved. It had a grey cover (the dust cover was long gone) and I noticed that it remained untouched over several months. After a while, I took pity on it and took it home (we had some kind of library system but the details are lost to time). It turned out to be the most inspired, funny and irreverent book--belied by its somewhat anodyne and syrupy title, Five Dolls in a House and masked by its plain cover. I think I must have kept it out for most of that year, and probably the year after that. I still remember reading it in my old tiny bedroom and the joy I had in the cockney monkey that lived on the roof and threw objects to the floor, the resident dolls' delight in cough drops and someone's efforts to eat the plaster food on the doll house plates.

The biggest mystery is why I didn't ask my parents to buy me a copy. Perhaps I did--from the looks of things, the last edition went to print in 1973 so it's possible it wasn't available.

A few years ago, I decided to track it down, not to give to any possible daughter I may have, but for myself. Thinking about having children made me revisit my own childhood and cherish some of its innocent pleasures. I decided to track down this book, only to discover that it's pretty rare and very collectible with the hardcover copies I wanted going for over £100 and paperbacks in the region of £30. I can't understand why it hasn't been reprinted as it seems well loved but I was able to get a copy for £8 plus postage on amazon and it will be awaiting me when I go home next month. It will be interesting to judge how it reads decades later, but I'll always remember the delight of discovering something so special between those orphaned plain grey covers.