Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Crazy, crazy

I can't believe how busy I am right now. I leave in less than 24 hours and j discovered this morning that I can't check in online on American which means I have to leave an hour earlier than planned tomorrow morning (as my flight leaves at 8.30 am, this isn't going to be fun).

I don't know if I can get everything done before I leave. I graded two classes last night and went to bed at 2 am. Every errand I've tried to complete today has turned out to be more complicated than I imagined. And I teach until 10 tonight too....

Have a great holiday everybody. I'll update sporadically from the other side of the Atlantic. I still don't know if Evan will join me--with BA on strike, the fares are insane and we may be apart until January. :( At least I'll have my family and old friends to keep me company in his absence.

Monday, December 14, 2009

No. 6

As I mentioned, yesterday Cindy and I found a couple of beautiful items in Barneys Co-op, specifically dresses by No.6. It took me a while to put two and two together and realize that this was the brand that made the much coveted boots.

On returning home without a No. 6 dress, I decided I wanted one. I looked at their online shop (http://www.no6store.com) and searched in vain for online boutiques stocking their dresses other than Barneys. Cheaper than Lyell, and more wearable for everyday, these are the nearest thing to must have dresses I've found since Mayle closed. They have a small collection, but there are several items I covet. Here are a few:



Today, I sneaked away at lunchtime, met Cindy in Barneys and picked up the London dress in black velvet, with floral silk sleeves covered in lace overlay. It is my Christmas present from Mum and Dad and was on sale. We both loved the mini dresses, but all the size 2s had sold out--they only do size 1 (2-4) and 2 (6-8).

This is my new dress. You can't really see the detail (Barneys has it online and there is a magnification function) but it is really beautiful--deep silky black velvet and silk floral sleeves and back covered in lace. It's certainly a collection to look out for. I think most of the dresses other than the one I bought have pretty much sold out in a size 2, but I'll be on the lookout for more items and report on my findings when I return to NYC in January.

Today's outfit? Functional. Stripey J. Crew long sleeved t, Madewell jeans, ankle boots, Fletcher by Lyell scallop cardi and Mayle Emanuelle jacket.

Rainy Sunday

Cindy was back so we braved the rain and checked out some sample sales. First, we looked at Rag and Bone. I always like the idea behind their work, their craftsmanship and some of their fabrics. I have a denim skirt from an early collection, which I like--especially for its details (lots of buttons at the back) but don't wear too often because it is a little stiff. I tried on a few things at the sample sale (which was heavily picked over) but the fit wasn't quite right. They seem to cut for girls without hips and also have a more monastic aesthetic (as Cindy put it) that isn't really me.

We then hit Helmut Lang--good discounts but still pricey and so not me--leather and masculine styles. The sale was right opposite the Target pop up shop--Cindy picked up the Rodarte ribcage dress which runs small and looked great on her.

The best items we saw were in Barneys. I'll post more on that later, but there were some new interesting items that made me feel more enthused about shopping.

After another trip to J Crew, we hit Macy's for yet more tights. Then home for fish tacos.

My outfit? Grey boots, Sienna Hue tights, black Club Monaco skirt, Lyell black scallop top, Club Monaco black chunky cashmere cardigan and my Odette. It rained so hard my feet were stained orange/red from the dye from my tights.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

... Saturday

I was up bright and early for my first ever Saturday acupuncture appointment. I will have to miss three weeks, so I decided this was the best course of action. Besides, my acupuncturist works miracles and I want to do this. It was her first ever Saturday session and she was fully booked. After I return, I'm going twice a week. I hope I can stick to my diet over Christmas and won't have to detox or anything, despite the temptation of English chocolate.

After that, I shopped. Toys R Us and Hello Kitty meant Times Square on what had to be one of the busiest and most tourist-laden shopping days of the year. After a little more Christmas shopping, I met Evan and we graded in Starbucks--for him, student papers, for me, the MA exams, before eating Vietnamese food (one of the lesser Asian cuisines in my opinion, especially in NYC) and heading to Trader Joe's then home.

As for my outfit, I dressed for the weather. Leggings, boots, Club Monaco gabardine box pleat skirt from about 5 years ago, striped J. Crew t-shirt, black Club Monaco thick cashmere cardigan and Odette. I think the days of glamorous dressing are on the wane--as it gets colder, the dresses are getting fewer airings. At least the milder British weather means they'll get another outing before the cold of winter really hits home. In preparation for this, I bought some J. Crew toothpick skinny cords in charcoal grey yesterday--just $29.99.

Such a Busy Weekend: Friday

I'm totally behind on blogging as I'm trying to rush to get everything finished before I leave for England and fit in as much socializing as I can before Tuesday. I finished my Christmas shopping yesterday (except for Evan--we owe each other two Christmas gifts and a birthday present each so we're obviously not great with gifts). I had to go to Toys R Us in Times Square which was dangerously packed--the escalators literally threw me into the people in front of me who could move because of the hordes of people ahead waiting for elevators. Not only is the store poorly designed, but it really showed me why sample sales make people wait outside. I know it is a bad economy but the crowds were insane and crowd control next to non-existent.

Onto other, more fun matters. Friday was frigid. My outfit really marked this--I was layered so much I looked several sizes heavier. I wore tights, my thick Danskin leggings (the best), my Stella McCartney for H & M wide legged pants (which are amazingly high quality and drape very well, despite being worn about 100 times and being a size too big), a tank, my thermal long sleeved grey top from Wisconsin, a black v-neck cashmere sweater, my thick chunky navy cowl neck cashmere Club Monaco sweater and Olympe (plus cashmere hat, scarf and red leather gloves). I don't think the temperature hit 32 and the winds were insane. After writing a final and starting on the MA exam grading, I headed into Lyell to meet Erica. She looked amazing--and baby Leon is the most perfectly adorable child.

Lyell have somewhat retooled their policies because of the economy and Emma's bad experience with retailers like Chicago's Jake, who took her inventory and then never paid her. She has drastically cut back her production so her designs are basically only available in the US at her store (and the inventory at Refinery 29 is that of the shop, although there is inventory in store that isn't available online). She's also doing gowns to order. The only way cheap Lyell will be available now seems to be through ebay or through the Urban Outfitters line, which is doing really well. There's also been some big celebrity buys, most notably Katie Homes who wore the beautiful short tweed scallop jacket and shorts outfit recently. I liked both pieces but passed because I don't really know how much wear I'll get from tweed shorts and the jacket is a little too similar to my older Lyell tweed peacoat from FW 06. I also discovered the pretty blouse I liked--the one in beige and black--doesn't really look good on me (the color is wrong and I would need a 10 in the blouse--the biggest remaining size is an 8).

Erica bought a lovely black jacket. I got a purple wool skirt--completely unexpected but very flattering. After walking Erica to the subway, I headed off in search of remaining gifts. I visited the Opening Ceremony sample sale--still a long line to get in at 4 p.m. Nothing great inside--lots of merchandise, great discounts but the clothing was largely ugly. After checking INA (no Mayle except the black glittery dress with puckers that they've had for months), I met my friend Rebecca and her son Charlie. They were in town for Rebecca's Ph.D. proposal defense (she passed!). I'm now on her dissertation committee and I imagine I will start receiving chapters this spring.

After a frigid day, I got home and we ate take out Thai. I still hadn't found a present for myself from my parents, and that is still on the agenda today... Hopefully it will get sorted out before I leave.

Congratulations Jane and Kathie!

On Friday, two of my closest friends got married. I'd have been there except they can't get married where we live and they are currently in Germany for a year (my friend Jane is a Fulbright Distinguished Professor and was my senior colleague at my last job). As Germany allows gay marriage, and as they will benefit from this as that's their home for the year, the girls decided to make their partnership of 25 years legal. I'll see them in England in a week and celebrate with them, but for the moment, I wanted to mark the occasion with this posting.

Here are the girls at their civil ceremony:

And here is their wedding cake:

Evidently the cake tasted very good. Jane said it was amazing to have their relationship sanctioned and recognized. This was something she hadn't really thought about before, a feeling she'd never had, even though she was all for gay marriage. I'm so happy for them.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Shopping: Nearly Done

Just a brief update before I head into school. Yesterday I took most of the day off to do some more Christmas shopping and to meet with a friend and then have dinner with my cousin, Alex and his friend who are on holiday in NYC.

I misjudged the weather--the cold snap (or winter as it's called) that starts today. Yesterday was actually quite warm as I discovered after I wrapped up in a number of layers that I ended up depositing in my book bag. My final version of my outfit was still too warm--Lyell scallop lace blouse from FW 08, black brocade high waisted tulip skirt with slight leopard print from Club Monaco, bought on sale on Saturday, sienna Hue tights, gray boots, Sveva and Odette. I met my friend Mike for lunch, spent two hours discussing academia, politics and our work plans, then bought the rest of Mum's Christmas present, presents for my sisters-in-law, and some gym shorts and argyle socks for me in the sale. I also got a fabulous J.Crew bracelet I've lusted after on sale--pictures to follow.

Then I met Alex and his friend Paul at Grand Sichuan then headed home. Today is going to be freezing--and long. I have no idea what to wear--a decision I have to make now.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Feeling Positive

It may have been cold today and I may have way more work to do than I have time, but I feel pretty positive that I'll get everything done--at least the things that matter. I had a great acupuncture session today (and I have another booked for Saturday--her first Saturday session since I've been going), so that might account for my greater than usual optimism.

I applied for a job I won't get today, but in reading through my application materials, I realized I have another book project that I need to write, will write, always meant to write. This one might even get me the job I want (if the femininity and early cinema books don't). The topic centers on effots to construct a transnational European popular culture (especially film/TV) during the formative years of the EU/EEC. Besides looking at material cultural practices, I'll look at the circulation of texts/stars/trends across national borders, and include a chapter on how this impacts on the relationship with the US (here I can insert my British invasion research). I have several conference papers on EU culture, femininity across borders (something that also appears in my femininity book). If I can do all these, I hope I can write my way into the job of my dreams. It may take a while, but I know I can do it. I think some of the readings for my German Cinema grad class also really helped here--and hopefully my genre and national cinema class will help me develop some of these ideas even further next year. Hopefully I can fulfill these plans and my other pressing dreams in the new year--or even in the waning days of this year/decade.

As it was cold, I didn't get to wear anything too exciting today. J. Crew stripey long-sleeved t, black box pleat Club Monaco skirt, grey Inhabit cashmere turtleneck sweater, black Danskin leggings, grey boots, Sveva cardi, Odette coat, Club Monaco red cashmere scarf and red/gray/white Steven Alan cashmere scarf. I fear we're entering the season of layering and my pretty items will not be worn for several months. I do feel the cold and I noticed some of my students don't--some were in regular t-shirts, cardigans and jackets. At least two others dressed like me in multiple layers so I'm not the only person who prefers to be a little more warm...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hotel For Dogs

I'm sitting here, post-Daily Show when Evan says "I have a movie for you." Looking up, I see he's started Hotel For Dogs from HBO (or Showtime) on demand. This was a film I wanted to see last year, not just for its cute factor (really, how could you not like the premise or the star canines--although Hotel for Cats would be better). Rather, I've always been in love with the title for its sheer descriptive banality. Titles are not a forte of mine, it's true, so I can imagine this was one of those working titles--let's just call it Hotel for Dogs until something better comes along. Clearly it didn't.

I don't know if I can watch the whole thing, though. Not just because of the irritating rapid camera movements and excessive use of wide angle lens, but because of the pathos and melodrama endemic to its premise--homeless animals. I think in another life, I'd be a child running a hotel for dogs AND cats. After all, I have to hug my babies every time an Humane Society or ASPCA spot runs on NY1 (and I have to reassure them that I am indeed a member of both).

Christmas Shopping

As the semester (and year) wind down, I'm finding myself typically short of time. Saturday I worked, Sunday I did some Christmas shopping and met my friends Alyssa and Gina for dinner. Gina moved to Pittsburgh earlier this year so I don't get to see her nearly often enough.

It's pretty evident how much the economy has affected retail. Most of the stores had far less inventory than last year, discounts are minimal and shoppers aren't really interested in most of the full price merchandise. J. Crew was busy (although much of the store was not on sale and the most crowded area was by the not too interesting sale section), Banana Republic empty (given how horrible and over-priced the merchandise I wasn't surprised). Club Monaco was also pretty empty--again, the nice items weren't on sale and the reduced items were the ones attracting all the shoppers, many of whom weren't buying because the reductions weren't impressive and the stock dull.

Gina is temporarily working retain and agreed that the shoppers aren't shopping. People want the discounts from 2007-8 and the same quality of merchandise that was available then. Neither are being offered, shoppers have less money and they are leaving empty handed. She works at a well known national clothing chain and their takings on Black Friday were a fraction of their target.

I've barely ventured into the shops this year, largely because I'm too busy and also because these aren't places I usually shop (I also tend not to shop for men's clothing). I thought the sales last year weren't so great either. A lot of "cheap luxury" has vanished (stores like the Gap and Old Navy were stocking cashmere, albeit of dubious quality, but they aren't any more, although it is available in Macys). While I think the stores imagine they can tutor people into changing their expectations, so they'll spend more or adjust to lower quality, that didn't seem what the shoppers I saw yesterday were hoping to do--nor the people who shop where Gina works. I think this consumer battle is not going to play out quite how either side wants.

That said, I did find gifts for Dad, most of one of my brother's gift and half of Mum's. I already shopped for my niece so I just have to buy for another brother, two sisters-in-law and Evan before I leave for the UK.

As it was cold, it wasn't the most interesting weekend for outfits. Saturday I wore my new J. Crew thin gray and black striped long sleeved t-shirt, new brown Inhabit cashmere sweater, gray tights and black Club Monaco box pleat skirt (I also didn't leave the apartment). Yesterday I wore my Madewell jeans, J. Crew black and white striped long sleeved t-shirt, my new double layered Inhabit light brown cashmere sweater and Odette with my Jeffrey Campbell wedges and Steven Alan cashmere stripey hat.

Friday, December 4, 2009

More new arivals

In addition to working on another round of pesky job applications (that will be summarily ignored by search committees looking for the youngest, cheapest and trendiest candidate), I had a rare Friday treat. I met Cindy and Monica for lunch near Cindy's work. I wore my new Madewell jeans, a Pi organic striped long sleeved tee from Bird's sale this year, my new deep scoop Inhabit cashmere sweater, my old ankle boots (need to be replaced soon) and my brown tweed Lyell peacoat from FW 2006. The girls looked lovely as ever--Cindy in Mala, Monica in Nadege, and we had a lovely Thai lunch and chat.

I then headed off to J. Crew--I'd heard the long sleeved stripey tee shirts I love were on sale. Alas, I think others had beaten me to it (or maybe these are just more popular in NYC than elsewhere). I did find a pair of thigh high socks--I'd been looking for these for months but they had eluded all my efforts. I got the last pair in black--they were reduced to $9.99 which was great. If I can find a gray pair, I'll get them too, but I'm not hopeful. I went to a second J. Crew (Rockefeller Center) and did find a striped tee shirt, but it had finer stripes (black and gray) and wasn't quite the one I was looking for. It was very nice all the same and $19.99 so I was extravagant yet again. Mind you, this time last year, it was Mayle dresses and coats, not J. Crew t-shirts but it all adds up. I need shoes (desperately) but finding the ones I like online in stores and in my size (40-41, 10-11) eludes me. I have to find something soon as sandals and boots aren't a good substitute.

I received an email from Sephora with a $15 gift certificate inside so before heading home I picked up the Tarte lip gloss holiday sets. Tarte is free of parabens and other chemicals, so it's become one of my few default options. I don't want to take my big holiday set home as it is too bulky, so some of the lipglosses and my Korres eye pencils and deluxe eye shadows will have to be it.

I made one more GNC purchase (liquid cholorophyll) on my way to the F train. So far this week I've gotten L-Carnitine, Royal Jelly, co-enzyme Q-10, DHEA, baby aspirin, organic fish oil and various other supplements. At this point, it's quite comic looking at my various bottles on my chest of drawers. Hopefully they'll work!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

United Bamboo Cat Calendar

I forgot to mention this special delivery. Some of you probably read about the United Bamboo 2010 calendar, which features cats modeling special cat-size United Bamboo clothes. As soon as I read about it on racked.com, I contacted them to reserve one. I got an email yesterday around 1 p.m. saying these were available and as one was reserved for me, I had five days to purchase it. So, I ordered it before heading down to NYU to meet some students.

This morning at 9, the USPS person came with a big box. It was the calendar--lightening fast. It only has 6 photos. At $25 I suppose I had hoped for 12, but as a cat parent, I understand the difficulties of this task, unless the cat is Peeps and loves getting dressed. Blue and Remy regard it as a fate worse than death, one that no number of cat treats or cans of Wellness can warrant.

Anyway, the calendar is lovely, big and has a metallic cover. The cats are beautiful and look mighty fine in their outfits. And some of the profits go to the wonderful KittyKind rescue group (www.kittykind.org). I'll be smiling at those beauties for a year so I think this was a great purchase.


Today was a long and tiring, but not without fun. One of my undergrads loves Mayle and I helped her find a cardigan. Then she won an auction for an Odette coat, which made her really happy. I like bonding with her over these items. She had on her Rising Sun wedges and I asked to try them--they were so soft and comfy. I do need the 41 (her size) although I might be able to get away with a 40 if by any miracle they reappear. I wish I had got them last year...

I just got home to two new arrivals--the Inhabit cardigan and the first sweater I ordered with the round drapey neck. Both are really nice--super soft with a great drape. Both fit really well, and both are very similar browns although there is a clear difference. I am very happy with both. I thought the sweater was a risk but it is far nicer than in the photograph. So this is turning out to be sweater week--Evan can't get his head around the number of sweaters I already own and my continuing need for more. But I do wear them (he doesn't--men don't really seem to feel the cold) and try as I might, I don't think he understands different weights are useful for different weather. Today I wore Sveva  for the first time and I love it--soft, nice drape and beautiful details. I paired her with Eniko in Paradiso, a thin J. Crew black t-shirt, purple tights, grey boots and navy Odette.

I've been a bad girl this week. Yesterday, I picked up a pair of Madewell's skinny slouch jeans (size 27!). I went in to look at the sequin tank they have in one of their emails. It is lovely but I want the L and they are out (so I left my number). They had jeans on sale, so I tried them on (their prices are reasonable). They were nice but I decided to look at the skinny slouch hoping they'd work miracles on my muscular thighs. They did. I was stunned. The 29s fell off me in the hips/waist, the 28s were big too but both showed me how flattering these could be. The 27s weren't even tight but made my big thighs disappear so I got them. They are basically like skinny jeans with a little more give. I wonder what the 26s look like--I think I stopped before I went too far.

Then I looked in J. Crew who had some new and lovely jewelry. I also found the infinity bracelet on sale (I thought it was $29.99 but it was $39.99). So that went home too. Or rather out with me to my friend Allison's opening. She's doing a line of t-shirts and jersey items that are super-soft and organic, with a barbed wire print. I should have got one but I was feeling guilty about the tons of pieces I've got this week--and the lack of Christmas shopping that I've accomplished to date. Then I had dinner with my friend Mara and back home in the rain. For all this, I wore my black Filippa K mini dress, black chunky Club Monaco cardi (unnecessary as it was so warm), black leggings, grey boots, Odette and my rhinestone J. Crew bracelet.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New Month, New Sweater

The month hasn't started on quite the note I'd have liked--things I thought were in process unraveled and I'm back to the beginning. But I have done quite well with sweaters recently and today I added another gem to my collection--the Sveva sweater from SS 06. It's the one that's somewhat like Fall 08's Aiko, but has no zipper, is made from a soft wool blend, not cotton, has shorter puffed sleeves and is quite a bit longer (the Aiko stops at the pockets, unlike Sveva). Although there are marked similarities (the backs are very similar), the more I look, the more differences I find (like the two buttons on each side by the pockets on Sveva).

I got the lovely sable as you can see, so I'll have a lot of sweaters in this colorway now, including the Anita cardi from SS 06. Sveva is very cosy and I look forward to wearing her a lot. Apologies for the sideways photo--I can't work out how to rotate it.