Thursday, February 26, 2009

In a Rut

Over the last month or so, I've added many discount Mayle finds to my wardrobe, but the weather has conspired against me. I have all these beautiful fall, holiday and resort pieces sitting in my closet, but sleeveless dresses and fine silk blouses are hardly suited to snow, biting winds, or icy days. There's also the occupational hazard of chalk dust--something I don't want to cover my new Helen blouse or Melia dress.

So I've ended up living in my usual winter wardrobe--Earnest Sewn jeans or denim skirt (over leggings), Steven Alan shirts (gathered, reverse seams and even Dalia layered over thermal long-sleeved tops), Inhabit and Club Monaco cashmere sweaters and cardigans (generally both) topped off with a Mayle coat--usually Vera--and my increasingly battered boots. I love every single item, but I'm starting to feel a little like I'm caught in a rut.

Yesterday, I purchased the Mayle Gaia harem pants and Agnes bag from Bird who are having an incredible 75% off sale (60% on accessories). These pants are one of the items I initially wrote off as insane: they are half constructed from jersey, have a little skirt flap at the front and are tight at the ankles. I may be tall, and my legs may be long, but I have big thigh muscles and my hip bones are broad, so I shy away from anything that adds bulk there. Jersey obviously has no corseting effect, so that's not something for me. I changed my mind, however, when I went into Mayle last week and saw Vanessa trying them on (she no longer works there but now designs really amazing jewelry, but unfortunately has no website yet). I tried them on and they worked. Obviously not with my battered boots and tights, but with sandals and bare legs, I could see that these would be a good addition for spring. Plus they are super-comfortable. Now all I have to do is work out something that I can wear with them. The cashmere sweater/Steven Alan shirt combo looks really stupid with something so floaty and soft.

Still, until the weather changes, I'll wear my uniform happily. I also need the temps to change so I can get these boots repaired so they will (hopefully) be with me for yet another year or so.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Mayle Shoes

With Mayle closing, I've been kicking myself about items I missed. One of the recent ones that I most regret was the reissue of the t-bar wedge sandals that came out in January. I have big feet--size 40--so usually I've lucked out and got items on sale, but that was in the past when Mayle made several types of shoes a season. These sandals were reasonably priced ($295). They looked comfortable and pretty--Mayle shoes usually fit me really well. But I was about to leave for the UK and I had to get Christmas presents for my family. I have two pairs of Mayle wedges already and several Sigerson pairs, so I thought I could wait. Of course, I returned from the UK convinced I needed these sandals in any of the colors only to find out they had all sold out. I could have maybe managed a 41, but no luck there either. If anybody ever spots a pair, please let me know. The same, of course, for Izolda in size 4, 6 or 8--the dress that got away. Thank you.

Of course, I should have known better. The price was right; Mayle has not made shoes for several seasons, and the closing down frenzy coupled with limited stock has caused items to fly out of the store. Even 2 1/2 years ago, I had to get my Monogram clogs the day they came in as they sold out in my size in one day. I don't regret the $440 plus tax I paid for them either. I've worn them a lot.

So, in memory of Mayle's fabulous shoes, I'm sharing photos of some of my collection. (I also have the cream wedges in black patent leather but can't find the box at the moment.) I love the flats--they are very worn as you can see, but I live in them during the summer. If anybody spots a pair anywhere in a size 40 or 41 let me know as these are the best sandals ever. The Monogram clogs are very comfortable too and I love my wedges. The Lola clogs are beautiful but barely worn. The patent leather is stiff and I need to find a way to break them in as I am determined to wear them one day. I've never worn them out of the house. Mary Kate Olsen has these too--another reason to admire their ugly-prettiness. They are, indeed, the jolie laide of shoes.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Steven Alan Finds

This weekend, I hit the Steven Alan President's Day sale at their UWS Outpost where all items were 25% off (continues through today, in store only). I bought two cashmere hats--a striped beret in red, green, gray and navy for my dear friend, Nicole and a blue bonnet for myself--and two Dalia shirts for me, one cotton in a big blue plaid, the other in an olive and cream crumpled silk. Both were beautiful (the olive green is a new favorite item). With the discount, I paid $94--the shirts were reduced to $39 which was a steal, especially considering they look so great with their beautiful balloon-like puffed sleeves. I attach some horrible pictures I took which do not do these items justice. I fear they--and I--look stockier than they do in reality. The silk drapes so beautifully but my mirror photography technique is perhaps not the best for this.

With my Mayle Virginie shirt coming from eluxury's sale, I now have a great stack of plaid shirts. I love Steven Alan. The everyday comfort and quirky flair of their shirts really cannot be beat--and they make them in the USA.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mayle Pop Up Store

By now, we've all likely read about the next, all too brief incarnation of Mayle. As reports, the store will close on 2/28 (until then, what little of resort and holiday remains is 60% off). Then it will reopen 3/6 with very limited ranges of pieces remade from archival designs, sometimes in different fabrics (albeit from the archive themselves), some with additional detailing that Jane Mayle had originally hoped to add--or changes she'd wanted to make. New stock evidently will arrive each week. All very lovely and likely not in my price range. Pieces will go back to 2002 designs and feature many items from what was evidently one of Jane Mayle's favorite collections--Fall 03. I can't remember this one--anybody who has images, a lookbook or has any idea what this one looked like, please let us know.

In the meantime, what would you like to see in the collection? In a fantasy world where I'd won the lottery, I'd like to see the following, based on the items I remember or for which I have the lookbook:

Summer 05
flat sandals and wedges (the ones with the small buckle). I love them and have nearly worn two pairs of the flats out. I wish I'd gotten another couple of pairs.
green and lavender print dress (a-line with the stitched detail on the collar). This never went into production.
Cotton jumper dress as worn by Michelle Williams
skirt and pants in the same striped fabric--although these may be Summer 06
I have to find this lookbook--I think it is behind my dresser.

Summer 06
Anatole jacket
Claudie romper
Clothilde blouse in cassis
Liv dress
Ilaria shirt
Xandra Cardi
Ines Dress in noughts and crosses
Solange Shirt in either sky or marigold
Mala dress
Sylvestre dress in either marigold or sky
Isolde Dress in chestnut gingham

Fall 07
Izolda in either the pink or berry (I tried it on, the 4 just about fit and this was one of those that got away),
the Nica jacket from Fall
the Alyosha blouse in iris,
Jeanne bag in iris,
Fedosia jacket
Zofia dress

Holiday 07
Ishi top
Gia dress

Resort 07
Flavia skirt

Fantasies are so much fun! The reality is I'll never own most of these but I can at least carry on looking on ebay and dreaming that some of this will turn up.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mayle visit--and lots of new clothes

I got my VanJean package today and my pieces from Mayle. I've not had this much new Mayle since the legendary 2007 sample sale, and I doubt I'll ever get this much in one day again. To recap, from VanJean--Rocio in cream, Bebel, Thea in putty; from Mayle--Zora in black, Melia in black (actually, it's more a slate gray but I digress); Mirabelle in black (true black); Helen in Persimmon. As I type, I'm wearing Thea which fits pretty well--better than the black in Bird--although I'd love one more inch of fabric in the back! Photos will come. Suffice to say, it's like my birthday with all the tissue paper and hangers. VanJean did not charge me the higher prices, for the record. Everything fit too--even Bebel in size 6, which is an odd dress but I like it. This one is a paler gold than the one I tried on in Barneys, and it looks better against my skin. Evan even commented that he liked it, so that was good (no words on Rocio or Thea). He thinks it is quite hysterical that I have all these dresses and tops and am being such a girl about it all.

I got to Mayle about 5 today. It was still pretty busy but Elise and Christine said yesterday was mad and that it was a miracle I got through on the phone, albeit for the best. When I got there, the racks looked pretty bare. As others have noted, a lot of the stock has gone. No Marius, Asina, Jacinthe (all colorways gone), Astrid (again, all colors sold), Justinian, Allegra, Olympia or Hera. No Melia in black or Zora in persimmon. Also no Alix, but I am sure that never went into production.

Very limited indeed were Zora in putty (just size 10 left, I believe), Pia in black, Penilope, Zoia (only size 4 and up in both ivory/black, ivory/paisley), Melia in ivory, Mirabelle in ivory, Zenith (4 was the smallest and I think they only have goldenrod left, but I may be wrong), Cyra (only in goldenrod).

They seemed to have a fair number of the following left, although sizes might be limited: Zora in black (only up to size 6, I believe), Gaia pants, Thea in black and in putty (size 8 is the biggest), Kozma skirt, Athena in black and persimmon, Helen in black, Eunice pants, Lena dress (lovely but even my torso was on the short-side for this one), Zeta blouse (both in the black and putty variants), Otto coat, Theodora in black and persimmon--as long as you are size 6 or smaller (and this dress seems to run small), Ziggy romper in black and black multi in, I think, size 6 and up; Nia skort in black multi, Jemeen in ivory/black and ivory/paisley (small sizes sold out), Mirabelle in black, Senna, Rex pants (black and tan), Betto dress both in denim and gray, but only P, S, M; Phoebe top (gray and denim). Belts and bags are 30% off and, as such, there wasn't as great a rush. My thoughts are (and always have been) that Betto and Phoebe will end up in a sample sale (why did she ruin the design by using sweatshirt fabric? And that chain?). Other items that I doubt will sell include Nia, Lena, Zeta and Otto.

Tons of Dezra in smaller sizes. When I asked to try it on, Elise said that it had not come out right--it was cut too small in the ribcage and twisted in an odd way when it was on. She was right. I had to try a 10 which barely fit. There are a lot of smaller sizes in this one. You have to size up. Black is available up to size 6; ivory in all sizes.

It looks like nobody really knows what's happening with the final collection. Possibly one item per size per style (I can't think of a succinct way to say this--basically one style with five pieces, one in each size). It will likely come in in waves--one set released per week. Billie bags are likely a yes; monogram clogs likely not (Elise seemed surprised when I asked about this). But basically she says they don't know anything for sure and they haven't been told anything definite. Jane Mayle is working alone with only one person to assist her so there will be no lookbook and very limited availability. Indeed, I'm not sure that all decisions have been made. Certainly, recutting Astrid suggests that this dress will be around in more numbers than the one of each rumors indicate.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mayle Sale

So resort and holiday are finally 60% off and I am much poorer. Even though I teach all day today and cannot make it into Mayle, I called and got some of the items on my wish list. While Hera was gone (this was my number one must have, but it was nearly $600 full price) and Theodora had sold in the smaller sizes, I got Melia in black (a good basic with great details that fit me so well), Mirabelle in black because I love Pina and it is a similarly gorgeous and forgiving dress, Helen in Persimmon and Zora in black (maybe my number 2 favorite from Holiday). Stock was going fast so I'm pleased I made the call even though I didn't get to see what was left.

I go in to pick my pieces up tomorrow. Still no package from Van Jean. I suspect I am going to have to transfer funds from my money market account to cover some of this spending. Part of me hopes that the greatest hits Jane Mayle recuts aren't to my taste so I can save some money. I know that's unlikely, but still...

Friday, February 6, 2009

Loving Clothes: The Early Years

My very first day at school was somewhat accidental, with none of the preparation and anticipation most children experience. When I was four, I visited the school I was to attend but my father received a promotion and we moved (which meant I never got to play in the toy box that charmed me during that visit). Shortly afterwards, my mother took me with her to what would be my primary school to inquire about future enrollment. I started that day. My first memory was of a group of students dressed so alike I assumed there was a uniform--all the girls seemed to wear yellow turtlenecks and red and yellow plaid kilts. I can't remember what I was wearing but the nearly five year old me felt that they were badly dressed. I can't remember even seeing any boys as I stood in front of the class but they must have been there.

I could already read by this point, so that may have been a factor in the pleasure I took from looking at the pictures in the Ladybird books used in class. As I'd already been reading for over 2 years, these picture books were far too easy for me, but there was nothing else around. My two favorites were Cinderella, who had not one but three gowns for the three balls she attended. The first dress was pink lace, the second a deep royal blue satin with white lace and red ribbon trim. The final, and supposedly climactic gown was the only letdown--a fairly pretty but unremarkable white lace with golden embellishments (not unlike Michelle Obama's inauguration evening dress, now I think of it). I spent way too much time thinking about whether the pink or blue dress was better, and why the artist couldn't have gone the extra mile for dress three. I looked at all three and tried to understand the details, hierarchies of the dresses and admiring the genius of combining the deep royal blue satin with white and red trimmings.

Cinderella's clothing represented one kind of clothing--categorically something a five year old could not wear. But the rest of the Ladybird books, with their somewhat dated illustrations (this was the 1970s, the books were probably illustrated in the late 50s-early 60s) offered more wardrobe inspiration for this little girl. One book particularly grabbed me. A very easy read, The Party, was the tale of some little girls (and probably boys) getting ready to go to a party. Each girl wore satin Mary Janes that matched their short frilly dresses, all in different pastel and light jewel tones. Nobody I knew dressed like that for parties, probably because it was a different era, and maybe because nobody ever did, but these images shaped my ideal party attire.

I was always a girl who loved my clothes (which is why it is so odd I don't remember what I wore to that first day in school). I wore my red wellington boots to bed one night when I was two--they were new, I wasn't going to take them off. I still remember favorite dresses, the best being the blue satin party dress with intricate fastenings that my grandmother made out of the dress my aunt wore as a bridesmaid to my parents' wedding. A former tailor and jeweler who loved clothing, Nanna made me the best, somewhat dated--in a good sense--outfits: 1940s and 1950s influenced playsuits (aka rompers) and that pale blue dress which was the nearest thing I'd ever get to a dress out of The Party.

Years later, my friend Alyssa mentioned that very Cinderella book and how much she loved it--she grew up up in Long Island, so it was strange such very English books were used there. Like me, she thought the white dress was a letdown and was torn between the pink and the blue. When I was home at Christmas, I thought I'd look for copies of Cinderella for both of us. It turns out it is a collectible, along with all the Ladybird books of that series and goes for over $100 in good condition. Scanning the collector websites, I discovered that the book with the party dresses was called The Party. It's not so collectible and one day I hope I can get it. In the meantime, I'm sharing some of the illustrations, none of them as luminous as in the books (the blue dress is particularly washed out). But if you ever see the Ladybird books from this era that circulated into the 1970s, check out the fashion.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Coplon's Package

After all the fervor over the VanJean sale yesterday, my package from Coplon's arrived. The Mitsuko top is beautiful--if anything, the Paradiso print appears richer than on the Eniko dress. The collar consists of folded over silk, similar to the folding on Harumi and Kiyoko and has a little hidden fastening. The back is actually really fitted so despite the flowing fabric at the front, the fit is small/true-to-size.

Harumi Kiyoko has a lot of the Eden print--most of the dress from the waist up is in Eden with a big panel at the front in the black skirt fabric, with folded trim details in the black washed silk used on Mitsuko. The skirt itself is a crinkly black--I think it is polyester--and it hangs with a slight balloon cut, probably due to the properties of the fabric itself. The back of the waist is encircled with braid and fabric gathering. It is a lot like Harumi and is really comfortable--I think I will get a lot of use out of it in the spring-fall. It works with boots and tights and looks good with flat Mayle sandals and bare legs, or tights and heels. It's one of those dresses that doesn't knock you out but that you end up living in, even as the stars of your closet wait for the right occasion to come out and play.

Now I have to wait for the VanJean box. I do so hope there is no hike in the prices as I would have to back out of all my purchases. I need that money--not just for Mayle--but for savings, IVF, and the everyday cost of living.

And, yes, I'll publish photos. I realize Harumi Kiyoko, like my pre-fall cardigan, were either not in the lookbooks or very different from the version shown therein.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

VanJean sale

Even though they had no Theodoras left (nor Hera), VanJean has an amazing sale. They just called me and I got Rocio from Spring/Summer, size 8 in cream for $50 and Thea in putty, size 8 (which I may have to get altered) for $120. I just hope they fit--if not, I think I can sell both on ebay. Of course, I have yet to put that cream Pilar dress in size 2 up on ebay, Evan's mistaken purchase from the spring sample sale.

Resort isn't on sale yet but they have Melia, Jacinthe in size 8, Mirabella in cream and several other pieces.

They said to carry on calling as the sale is huge. Even though I may not fit into Rocio, I had to take the risk (it may be an incentive to diet). I'm posting this now because I know that several of you may want to get on the phone to them right now. Keep calling as I suspect they have a lot more in the smaller sizes.

Also, they were very sweet and thorough, even offering to send me dresses to try on. Postage is only $8.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Brief VanJean update

I just called VanJean. They are really busy and cannot call me back today but this is what I found. Holiday on sale for 50%, resort is full price. I got the impression they didn't have any fall left, although if anybody else calls, correct me if I am wrong.

I don't know if this is as cheap as we'll get--I suspect better deals are out there, but I will pass on any information as I get it.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Few Not so Good Photos of My Mayle Dresses

I'm finally getting to it. I'm very much a neophyte here, as I usually take photos of others. Here are a few older pictures of some Mayle favorites, including Ignacia from Holiday 07 (worn on Evan's birthday in May) and my lovely blue acetate dress from Summer 07 worn at a conference in Santa Barbara last April. There's also a more recent efforts which leave a lot to be desired photographically--I do know how to take photos but this mirror stuff is not so easy... especially when the sunshine foregrounds spots on the mirror. I'm wearing Ludovine, but I'll post better pictures soon.

A postscript--it looks like I am wearing my Raisa coat from Fall 07 with my blue dress.