Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Christmas

A little bit late but I hope everybody had a great day with friends and family. I was with my Mum, Dad, brother Giles and sister-in-law Carol (and their cat Mollie and dog Riley). It was all very lovely but I got a horrible cold, was running a fever and am now home contemplating a bath and some lemsip.

Monday, December 20, 2010


It may be freezing (Heathrow is effectively closed), and I may be grading but there really is no place like home.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Off to the UK

As my silence has shown, the last few weeks have been brutal at work. At times fun, energizing, academically rigorous, challenging, emotionally and intellectually rewarding, but hard. I think I've put in at least 70 hours each week and while I didn't burn out (a testament to my students as well as my choice of career), I didn't do anything else but work and sleep. I bumped into one of my students today and we chatted about our lack of sleep and the things we had to let slide (I refuse to give up on showers, for example).

I'd say at least it's all over. But it isn't. I've graded the one grad paper that came in but the other 43 are going to hit me soon. Likewise, I'm halfway through Media and Fashion. Thankfully my students write well. I've also got three dissertations to read. I'd take them on the plane but I'm already overloaded with gifts despite buying a lot of people books from I've packed very little Mayle (frigid temps at both ends make it unsuitable) along with sweaters, jeans, leggings and skirts--I've had to pull things out of my bag like Izolda that I would have worn but I still think I could end up having to check something despite my best intentions. The box of Graham Crackers I have for Jenny, Giley's Uglydoll and Sadie and Max's game and my Agnes bag have filled up my tote bag to the point that I don't think it will pass muster as my personal item...

So, I am off tomorrow morning leaving Evan to hold the fort and tend to the cats. Remy is still on medication (fourteen weeks and counting) and I hope he is able to wrangle her on his own. It's a brutal early morning tomorrow--my flight leaves at 8.35 am (all the better to prevent jet lag). I will likely blog in the interim, but until then, here's a picture of Peeps whom I will miss while I'm gone. She's currently wearing her chicken hat and drinking from my water glass. No cat loves water as much as her. And no little girl cat is as loved by her Mummy.

And not to leave them out, here's the fabulous, happy, elegant, confident and loving Blue and our little chubby, complicated, affectionate diva, Remy.


                        Remy, our green eyed girl, in her Elizabethan collar.

Yes, we do live in a cat house... Obviously I will miss Evan tons but at least we can talk on the phone. Maybe Peeps will talk to me but the other two are usually silent (except when growling at each other) so these photos will have to suffice in the interim.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Caroline's Mayle

Just a quick note as I am swamped beyond all measure writing grad school letters of recommendation, grading 40 papers and preparing lectures. Caroline's Reiko has sold--all other pieces (I believe) are still available. More Mayle for sale soon--and some other goodies too.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mayle for Sale

As promised, here's the first installment of some Mayle that's for sale. Caroline (complicatedskirt[at]gmail[dot]com) is selling this re-edition Reiko from the Ten Little Indians collection.

It's a size 4, fits a 4-6 (if it was bigger, I'd buy it from her). She's asking a very reasonable $175.

For Sale

I'll be posting a few more pieces of Mayle soon, but in the interim, Caroline has a few pieces of Miu Miu, Prada and others that she's selling. If you are interested, email her at complicatedskirt[at]gmail[dot]com.

First up is this Prada skirt:

It's a size 40 so should fit a 6, even a small 8. It's a shorter skirt and Caroline's asking $75.

Miu Miu dress:

This dress is a size 40 but it runs super super small and tight. $100 or best offer.

She is also selling this Thakoon dress.

While it is a size 6, this dress fits more like a 4. Again $100 or best offer.


I hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving weekend. We headed up to Boston (to Evan's sister's house) on Thursday morning and caught the Friday evening train back to NYC so we could give Remy her antibiotics. Thankfully, my cold had practically gone so I could enjoy eating and visiting. We also visited the Natick mall to get Hanukah gift for the children--so I visited several tween stores, making it the full mall experience. I also discovered that the NYC branches of stores like Club Monaco and Madewell are relatively large, even if they don't seem that way. So no temptations for me but it was fun and we had some success in our gift buying. Actually, I did get some yoga pants and a tank from the Gap fit line--for a total of $38.

After much anticipation and excitement, Ben, Brynn and I went to a matinee screening of Burlesque. We're all fans of 1930s musicals and adore Showgirls, so hopes were high. In the spirit of high camp and excess--despite the cold winds--Ben and I both worse sequins to the screening--his Halloween top my silver J. Crew miniskirt. We also prefaced the screening with a visit to Billy's bakery and bought deserts into the theater (coconut cream pie for me, pumpkin whoopie pies for Ben and Brynn). Let me say, neither the film nor deserts disappointed--both were sweet and somewhat ironic creations. At times, the movie was so good/bad, I felt sequins exploding from my heart. I have a soft spot for Christina Aguilera (a girl with talent unlike so many teen starlets, even if she goes awry at times). She can actually act and the film was a perfect vehicle for her sensibilities--at their best when she is somewhat retro, as she was in Burlesque. Granted the film had nothing to do with real burlesque, had little plot and was pretty much tailor made for gay men and their female friends, but that's what made it such perfect escapist entertainment for a cold late November day.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Update on Caroline's Mayle for Sale

The Barcelona has sold. She still has a Theodora, in case you are interested. I will be posting some more items for sale soon--Mayle and non-Mayle.

Monday, November 22, 2010

From the email archives--Mayle Sample Sale, June 2007

I am terrible about deleting emails as I think of them as a personal archive. Sometimes old emails were bulk deleted (my old hotmail account and NYU email had this problem as older email had to be sacrificed given limited memory).

Going back over some of my gmail for another purpose, I found an email to a friend documenting the now legendary Mayle sample sale from June 2007. I've redacted the personal info, edited for style, but basically here is the one from day 1--I went back on day 2 and it was even better (I got two pairs of sandals and a dress--if only I'd bought more!). I thought it might be of historical interest. So, here it is.

*  *   *

Mayle sale, I went. It was insane at first--I saw things I wanted in people's hands and had to stalk to get some of them. The line was down the block.

Sizes 2,4 and 6 were plentiful. 8s and 10s were scant. All the shoes (the Afrikana flats and the wedge versions as well as the older woven flats) were in size 42 so even I couldn't get them. Lots of the very high Pamplita boots.

What they had:

loads of pants, wool skirts and satin shorts. Some knickerbockers. Tons of sweaters--mainly the Barneys monthly ones. Coats--often really old ones as well as the Rolande from this season. As coats were $175 and it was insanely hot today, I passed. Pants were $65, shorts and skirts $50. Sweaters--all $90. I got the thick navy blue cardigan from the fall.

Very few tops--mainly the green version of the long sleeved silk shirt I have from last fall, and lots of odd samples and old silk tops in the brown and white print from SS 2005. Hard to list them--there seemed to be very few of any style--just consistently very small sizes. There were a few size 4 shirts from this season and last but they were all silk and they sold immediately. I was there at 10:30 and couldn't get near them. Tops were so small that I don't think they had any 10s at all. They were $80 and $95.

Lots of dresses--$125 each for day dresses, $150 for evening. Mainly they had:
--the Anais dress (lots of them) in black, cream, and cream with yellow trim. I got it in cream with yellow trim. Still some left when I left at 1:30.
--the beige silk Michaela dress with lavender flowers from last summer.
--the long red dress from the recent holiday collection (the ruffly long one like the one I liked that sold out). [comment from now--I was a fool not to get one of these!]
---the dress version of your cream puff blouse in black with a white detachable collar. Runs *really* small (I couldn't really fit in the 10). Tons of them. [this is the acetate dress from SS 07 and I can't remember its name off-hand]
--the brown and cream Valentine dress with ruffles from this season (the silk one). Also in the mustard color. Also had the sleeveless version
--the green t-shirt fabric drapy minidress from fall/holiday in tiny sizes
--the slk slip dress in orange, black and ivory from this season
--the black and the purple long sleeved eyelet dress from fall
--a couple of the bondage style dresses from this season.
--lots of long dresses in the brown and white from summer 2005

What they didn't
other than what's listed above, virtually nothing from this season
platform clogs

I got the navy cardigan, a black wool skirt for $50, the ivory Anais dress, the green cotton voile shirtwaist dress I wanted last year. I also got an orange silk Federica.

Sample sale finds

Earlier this week, I hit up the Lutz and Patmos sample sale. It was not too far from NYU (in the meatpacking district) so I was able to go on the way to work, and did so twice. As the line is ending--and as I love high end sweaters, especially cashmere ones--I felt it was a more practical sale and one I could justify. Of course, the fact that it fit into my incredibly over-crowded schedule didn't hurt. I was able to leave 20 minutes earlier and fit it in. It also wasn't a Thursday-Friday sale (unlike Thakoon) so it didn't coincide with me spending all my time in class or office hours.

I went on the opening day, hoping to find a warm and chunky sweater I loved on La Garconne and the cashmere Sofia Coppola dress. Both were reputedly $150 and as the sweater was $485 and the dress $850, that was a steal. Plan was to grab both and leave. But when I got there, I couldn't see anything vaguely like the dress and found out, of course, that it was the first piece to go. I had better luck with the sweater and ended up getting one in dark green. It is very warm and a soft wool/silk/alpaca blend. Here's the photos from LaGarconne:

I also got a very soft black silk and bamboo round neck long sleeved thermal top that draped beautifully for $30 that originally listed for $175.

I went with Caroline who got a beautiful soft ivory cashmere sleeveless sweater and a soft gray cashmere sweater designed by Carine Roitfeld.

As there were to be discounts each day, and as a lot of stock was left, I decided to go in again on Thursday (the next possible day I could make it). Again, I went on the way to work but found a decidedly different experience. All sweaters were $25 but not much was left. Again, I had a plan--grab another of the thick sweaters above, maybe in pale gray or the light brown, and one of the cashmere long sleeved sweaters that Caroline found, pay, get out and get to class. But I had anticipated more stock--at least more decent stock. Much of what they had was old samples as befits the crazily low price.

I did pick up a very thick cardigan that will be useful on cold days inside or even outside instead of a coat on a not that cold day. It was reduced from $450 to $25 and has some nice details like the ribbon trim over the buttons. But it isn't as soft as I'd usually get, but I think it will nicely cut the sweetness of a girly dress.

I also picked up a v-neck waffle knit short sleeved sweater (another $25, originally $245) that's soft and drapes nicely. I am planning on wearing this over a striped long sleeved t-shirt.

Finally, after much searching, I saw a girl holding the sweater I had wanted. I asked her if she wanted it (I hate being that person but I also had to get to class). She wasn't sure she wanted it, as she was holding out for a jacket someone else had, and that person was holding out for a vest someone else had. So, she gave it to me, the other person then decided against the jacket and gave it to her, and then the person who had the vest decided they would be allergic to it and gave it to the other person so we all got what we want, which made me happy. Good deeds certainly produced a chain reaction--and I got to class on time.

The sweater (same as above) was in a light brown, was a S not the L I preferred but there was only a little difference in size. It was a sample and had a couple of snags but for $25 it was a steal. I prefer the dark green (just as well) but now I have two more sweaters for really cold days or for when I want to feel warm and snuggly.

It is amazing that every year I realize how few sweaters I have for when it starts to get really cold. Evan laughs at me for having so much knitwear but it is for all seasons and what works for a warm spring day is near enough obsolete when it is 30 degrees or less.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mayle for Sale

As promised, Caroline is selling some of her Mayle--contact her at complicatedskirt[at]gmail[dot]com if you are interested in any of these pieces.

First of all, she has a Theodora dress in black for $150 obo. It's a size 4. If it was a 10, I'd buy it from her...

She also has a rare Dalmatia silk bias cut Barcelona dress fro the Ten Little Indians re-editions. I have never seen this one before. It is a 6 and would fit a 4-6. Measurements are:
17 across the chest
15 across the waist
19 across the hips
 As it is cut on the bias the measurements aren't entirely accurate--it could be a bit more flexible and work for slightly larger or smaller figures, but probably wouldn't work for a size 8.
More to follow.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

And Now a Cold

So, I'd hoped this weekend would be the time to relax. My yoga studio is having an open house today--five hours of classes (short ones, 30 minutes, so you can try everything) along with 15 minute massages. All for $15. So I paid, signed up and came down with a cold on Thursday night. As much as I hoped it would be better by today, it's worse and I'm at home in a nightie, socks and sitting here with a box of Kleenex. My face is delightfully swollen and I'm reading posts about the H and M/Lanvin craziness and realizing that the red tulle dress in a size 8 is kind of me and will likely not be in stores by the time I feel up to going in. Indeed, I suspect nothing was left by the time I got up. I think this cold is my body's way of telling me to rest.

I would have loved to have gone to the Thakoon sample sale this week too but given that it was on Thursday and Friday when I spend all day in class, there was little chance of that. Hell, I don't even know why I'm thinking about the luxury of clothes shopping and going to sample sales when I can't even make it to the post office or bank. I now have run out of checks and have an expired check in my wallet so I think a trip to Citibank has to be in order on Monday.

I did hear that my paper proposal was accepted for our big annual conference (this year it is in New Orleans). It's not a huge achievement but the organization is capricious and has rejected its own president's paper in past years. I am happy to be going, especially as I plan to organize a mini bachelorette party for my dear friend Lisa there. It's the only real chance I'll get to do this before her wedding as we live on separate coasts (she's in Santa Barbara).

Monday, November 15, 2010

What I'd love...

I'd love to post more often, and present images of my findings, my covets, my photos and my outfits. But this semester has been brutal. Keeping up with the major tasks (like having lectures ready for classes, professional committee duties fulfilled, papers graded) takes up virtually every waking hour. I have new course preps across the board this semester and it isn't pretty. The last words I wrote for my own work were typed back in September. Back then, I thought it would be possible to scratch out a day or so for writing--something that now seems ridiculously optimistic. Now the smaller tasks are sliding--scanning articles, writing exam and essay questions, answering non-urgent emails (I get to the urgent ones, of course). I love the classes I'm teaching and the students have generally been great and largely patient--some of them are aware that the classes are very large (45 in my grad class) and understand that this must take up time. But I feel sorry for them too--the brutal realities are that higher education is under siege with even the most prestigious universities cutting back where they can. My articles used to be scanned by my research assistant but now I have none. And little things like that can derail you. The class sizes are the most obvious sign--45 grad students in one class is just too much for me to give them the necessary attention. In an ideal world, I'd have that time.

So what I'd love right now is a couple of days to myself to rest and still my brain. And then two days to clean house--to go through the piles of lecture notes, organize my dvds, get to the bank before all my checks expire and fold clothes. And a day to bake a pie, go to yoga, walk around the neighborhood. Then a day to do all the chores I remember when I wake up half way through the night and forget again throughout the day as one task crashes into another. And, finally, a couple of days to ease back into my research--make that a week. Without that time, I'll never finish this proposal and never get myself out of this time crunch. In academia as in business, the superstars get all the time they need to produce their work whereas the rest of us struggle with the day to day tasks involved in educating in an era where time and money are scant. I know my work has potential but finding the time to write is so difficult. At least I don't have new course preps next semester so maybe it will all be clearer then.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Midsemester Crunch

It's certainly crunch time here as is obvious from the lack of posts here. 45 grad student papers, 24 undergrad papers and ten Ph.D. dissertations all juggled for my time, along with the regular course preps. I am more than ready for the winter break but I still feel I haven't done enough of my own work to think about another year being over.

One temptation has been all the online sales. Today it was Steven Alan and the Gilt Tucker sale. I'm not a big fan of the latter but wouldn't mind owning one of their blouses. So far, all I have done is put items in my shopping carts. If they sell out, such is life, if not, maybe I'll want them. I know it sounds like an anorexic chewing food and spitting it out but I'm trying to exert some control. Next year will likely be a very expensive one and I want to save a bit of money. Plus there is Christmas coming up and I have no idea how much the airfare will be. Plus Lisa's wedding in Santa Barbara in April, so it all adds up.

On another note, Caroline has some Mayle for sale and I'll be posting some items here in the next 24 hours. She's also got some other very desirable pieces for sale, including a pair of Miu Miu cat print heels, that I'll also be posting here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

One Bright Spot

I don't even want to think about the appalling results from last night and the stupidity of voters who think Republicans care anything about ordinary people.

But there was one bright spot besides New York's total Democratic victory. Welcome New York's first lady--Sandra Lee! Now I'm awaiting tablescapes at state functions and cocktail time at Albany, complete with her signature brand of semi-homemade food. I wonder if there will be a shortage of canned frosting and angel food cakes in Albany area supermarkets. I think we all need a laugh today.

If the kwanzaa cake wasn't enough for you, then enjoy the all-time classic tablescape--the one with the broken chair sprayed with gold paint.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

In Defence of Project Runway

...Or rather its winner, I wanted to say a few words. I thought Gretchen Jones delivered a disappointing collection, based on her first looks and what I've seen of her line mothlove online. But she deserved the win--all three collections were badly flawed or spotty and hers was, overall, the most promising. Maybe I want her to be more like Rachel Comey, or No. 6, or Isabel Marant than she really is--but the lines, shapes, textures all suggested a designer who was working in 2010-11, not one who made fun but somewhat 80s clothes (Mondo) or made a Chicos meets upholstery fabric line (Andy).

Reading a few posts across the blogosphere, including some from portals I thought were more connected with fashion (NY Magazine's The Cut,, has only made me more aware that the viewers for fashion-themed reality shows know little about fashion. And, really, why should they? The Food Network has made a celebrity of Sandra Lee, who clearly doesn't like cooking and whose taste in table decor runs to broken chairs sprayed gold, covered in fringe and upended on table tops. I liked Mondo too--and would probably have a lot more fun hanging with him and Michael C. But that doesn't mean that he should have won PR. Close call, yes. Online tantrums and name-calling from his fans when he didn't win, no.

The winners for Project Runway are often not the ones anybody in fashion would pick and while this season may have bucked the trend with its winner, I'm not sure that it was her best work. But the lack of knowledge about fashion that drives these comments irritates me, fashion snob that I am. No, Mondo's work isn't cutting edge, nor was Seth Aaron's, nor virtually any of the collections that have graced the show's stage. The girl Alison from a few years back, Leanne and Gretchen have been about the only fashion forward designers I can remember, the only ones with some kind of finger on the pulse who didn't make pretty dresses, costumes or dull department store wear. If you don't know anything about fashion, don't critique on that ground--you can say you don't like it, but not that you think it is old fashioned, lacks style, or draw invalid comparisons.

Season one may have got it right with Jay McCarroll, but largely because the show was still underneath the radar at that time and wasn't thinking about pandering to viewers who wanted a reality soap, nor to advertisers wanting satisfied consumer-viewers to buy cat food, cosmetics or car insurance. Chloe Dao's clothing made her models look like badly upholstered couches but showed that a nice face, inoffensive designs and recognition of audience tastes had already shifted the formula. Subsequent seasons may have delivered few recognizable winners outside of the PR fan circuit because fashion was not the primary objective in picking a winner. With two exceptions--Christian Siriano and Leanne (to my mind the most talented winner by a wide margin)--the winners have been anything from mediocre to comically bad--take, for instance, the tasteless fur-centric Eastern Eurotrash collection from Irina (painted as the show's bitch with some talent) or the tacky and dated Seth Aaron collection. Not surprisingly, these two returned to the anonymity from whence they came once the memories of their seasons ended, Henderson held dear only by the fans that loved his screen persona.

I preferred the first season of Project Runway when talent held firmer sway and the marvels of the workroom were center stage. Not that these figures weren't without personality--to pretend that was the case not only overlooks the marvelous Jay and Austin Scarlett,  the supreme villainy of Wendy Pepper and the already well honed conventions of reality TV. These shows are watched for their characters, something Bravo and Magical Elves knew long before the first audition for Project Runway. And, yes, I will admit to loving some of the show's characters, particularly Austin, Jay, Santino Rice and Chris March. Were they all good designers? Not necessarily, although their batting average was higher than most (including most winners).

As most reality shows now unwind in a convergence economy where devoted bloggers hold sway and can become important, even instrumental, parts of a show's reception, the worst tendencies emerge. The character-centered discourse I can understand and accept--it is the larger part of the rationale behind reality TV and most people wouldn't watch a group of quiet or dull talented workers sewing and sketching away, regardless of their disclaimers. Maybe I'm a total fashion snob, but I get more upset about the strange selections of winning collections. This time, as with Leanne, Jay and maybe Christian, the show got it right. If all three finalists hadn't failed to deliver, I'd celebrate more, but until then, I hope Gretchen Jones has a good career and would love to find a couple of her dresses from this fall--that is, if the collection was ever produced.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


This little number from No. 6. I hope I can get it on sale as a Christmas gift to myself...

Janie Bryant

So, yesterday's class did indeed benefit from a guest speaker--Mad Men's costume designer, Janie Bryant. I was very lucky indeed--the mother of one of my students (in my Media and Fashion seminar) is Bryant's agent, and the student was proactive and arranged her visit at the last minute. As a huge Mad Man fan, a scholar and fan of fashion and media from that period, I was beyond myself with excitement. So were my friends--two of whom, the incomparable Ben and Brynn--who came to class with me.

As with all of these events, it's difficult to walk that fine line between scholarly questions, fandom and requests for career advice. All three merged, with some success, as I found myself taking on a kind of moderator/interviewer role (sort of a James Lipton in pink tights). We started and ended with an episode of Mad Men--season two's "Maidenform," as a relatively large percentage of the students had never watched the show, to my surprise, I have to admit. Still, if I was 20 and living in NYC, interning and going to classes, I may not have watched either--my television viewing was at an all-time low during my undergrad years and that was well before the DVR.

Funnily enough, Janie Bryant said that the early 1960s wasn't her favorite period in fashion--not that she dislikes it, but she is currently into the 80s, 70s and 50s more--I imagine working with this period may have made it less novel for her. In terms of her own clothes, she was wearing what looked like some very expensive black leggings, amazing high heeled strappy tan ankle boots that looked like they were Chloe, a black sweater, white t-shirt and a beautiful (and expensive looking) black and white tweed jacket with some great vintage rings. Not very 60s at all.

It seems that Trudy Campbell is one of her favorite characters to dress (she prevaricated a bit on this)--she is modern and can afford to dress in more recent styles. Meghan wore the first mini skirt to be seen on Mad Men in the season finale. There was much discussion about Pete Campbell blue, about Trudy's pink baby doll maternity nightie (cut down from a much longer original), Joan's pen and sheath dresses (the pen necklace cost 50 cents at the Rose Bowl flea market) and Betty's struggles against her housewife role, seen in her sweetheart line crinolines and her occasional forays into more modern lines--particularly her black ensemble from Italy.

Also worthy of note, Janie Bryant's new book which I paged through. It's available from amazon and in my shopping cart as we speak--it looks really nice. And she's also doing a line for QVC that can be seen on November 1--I forget the exact time.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


It's midterm time and I am super busy with work, hence my silence. I may have a nice surprise for my students in Media and Fashion tomorrow and hope it works out so I can share the story here. Fingers crossed as if this works out it will be an amazing class and one I'll remember forever.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Ever since June 26-27 2007, I've regretted not buying certain items from the wonderful Mayle sample sale (I remember the dates not because I am obsessive but because they were the two days after my birthday). One item that increasingly appealed to me was the Valentine dress, which I initially saw as a bit too costume-y and precious for me but then came to look more reminiscent of something Anna Karina would wear in an early Godard film. Of course, by the time I realized I wanted it, I was not alone and any supply had completely dried up--a story repeated for so many of us so often with so many Mayle covets. As I have a broad back and shoulders and as Mayle runs small there, particularly in dresses with sleeves, I feared the worst: I would need a 10. Not only was I after a much coveted dress but in a size made in very limited numbers.

A few weeks ago, Valentine appeared on ebay. It was listed as a small, but the photo revealed a size 10 tag. I emailed the seller and, yes, it was true--the dress was originally a 10, but had been altered down to a 4-6. The top was largely untouched. Everywhere else it was a different story. I kept an eye on it though, hoping it would be possible to alter it back. The seller warned me that the silk (a beautifully soft fabric) was fragile and the seams may not look good if opened back up. Still, I won the auction for a very reasonable price and the dress came on its way. It arrived yesterday. I tried it on and thought the worst for a moment--the back was tight. Then I noticed that the seams had been taken in--or, rather, two new seams added down the back, that finished just shy of the shoulders. Last night, I was exhausted after yoga and work, so I painstakingly unraveled most of the two seams (I still have some threads to remove from the top). I eschewed a seam ripper--the fabric is too fragile to risk it near a blade--and instead gently pulled threads, occasionally using a pencil. I just put it on this morning and it fits! I could not have sized down. There are puncture marks from the seams but they look like a decoration and I'm hoping judicial use of an iron will work some magic. Overall, though, I'm very happy with my find.

Monday, October 18, 2010


If these (dead) animals weren't over 100 years old I'd be mourning their loss (hopefully of natural causes). But the bizarre Victorian death culture/cuteness/insanity factor makes me want to visit such feats of taxidermy.

Kittens' tea party.

Kitten wedding.

Now on display at the Museum of Everything in Primrose Hill (until Christmas). I think I have to see if I can get a friend to go with me. But I still hope they all died at old ages of natural causes.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


In between reading about fashion, tie-ins, consumerism and cinema for my grad class, I've had a cup of tea and surfed over a few e-commerce sites. Here are some of the items I covet but likely will only enjoy looking at from afar.

Opening Ceremony par Robert Clegerie velvet heels. At $745, they are a little (or lot) too much for my budget but I am smitten with those straps and soft round toes, not to mention the delicious color. They also come in fucsia. I'm just hoping that somehow a pair in either color in my size goes on deep markdown at some point. Of course, I actually need a pair of Hunter wellies and a pair of shoes in which I can teach...

Rachel Comey Mummer boots. If I could be sure these would fit my wide feet and be comfortable, I'd find a way to get a pair. I could justify the patent leather as rain resistant--or I could try. Green and purple  are two of my favorite colors and I love the pairing. I can dream about wearing these with purple tights.

Rachel Comey dress from Domahoka. I love this fabric so much but, alas, Doris isn't stocking this one in my size. It will be another one to gaze on from afar.

I'm also frustrated that I can't find long sleeved, patterned above the knee dresses. Those were the number one non-Mayle dress item I was seeking this season but it appears that I'm on my own here. I know what I'm looking for but cannot find much that works.

Friday Meet Up

I've been horribly busy recently and likely will be swamped until the end of the semester. Work is unbelievable and I am barely keeping up. Other than yoga and acupuncture, I basically work, sleep, eat and try to keep up with class prep, grading and emails. My own research has basically bitten the dust which is beyond frustrating as I am so ready to write. I guess that book proposal will be finished at the end of the year, if not the beginning of the next one.

But I did have a nice break Friday night after a long day of teaching (basically 10-6.10 p.m). I met up with Marti who was in town for a work event, and then headed over to the East Village with her, finding some consignment Mayle on the way, none of it in my size. We had dinner at Supper with a large group of Mayle-related friends, including Jen, Thessaly, Alison and Muna. It was a lovely break and as always it was great to see Marti. I'm hoping that she will, indeed, be back in November (as looks likely).


So they arrived, if not without a little drama in the interim. After reading the comments, I thought it might be best to try a pair on. So on Tuesday, I met up with Caroline, popped into the pop-up and then quickly headed down to Creatures of Comfort and tried on the size 10. They fit. I guess all the RC shoes I previously tried on at the SS were there for a reason (and besides, were old). So I frantically called Le Train Bleu, went for a quick tea with Caroline, and then back to my office where I fired off an email to change my order. I have to say they were amazing and prompt. I am now the owner of the black croc penpals in a size 10. I love the color more and they fit me--likely far better than the 11s. Now I have my eye on the Barbaros, but I have to be a little more restrained as it will be Christmas soon and I have to get my ticket home.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Penpal Boots

I have been thinking a lot about the Mayle pop-up. Truthfully much of what's there is too expensive for me, so I may just stop at the one coat (already purchased) and the sandals. This does not mean I have a lot of money to throw around but it does mean that I can look for the pieces that are on my list of essentials for fall. I need ankle boots and rain boots and another pair of comfortable winter shoes so I don't wear my s2a flats to death.

I really want a pair of Rachel Comey Barbaro boots but with my wide feet I assume I will need an 11 (I've never been able to get my feet into (my usual) size 10 Comey shoes and sometimes boots run smaller). These don't appear to exist, at least not online, although I haven't given up on finding a pair. I did find a pair of size 11 Penpal boots at Le Train Bleu. With 30% off, they were $243 with shipping. The color wasn't my favorite but I think it will work. I just hope the size will too--as a size 10 with wide feet I am still a little wary. Here they are:

Now if these work, I am sure I'll need the 11 Barbaros! But I am trying to be good. I just have to wear shoes and boots I can stand in for a long time, what with teaching and the rigors of subway steps.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Billy's Bakery

I'm trying very hard to eschew junk food and sugar. Although I love English chocolate, it's relatively easy to avoid that temptation even though it is available in New York. Once every now and then, though, a girl has to have her treats. And so this weekend, we're off to Billy's Bakery--a place I sneaked out to just last week with my friend Ben. One of my favorite items is the ice box cake, pictured below.

It is as light and as delicious as it looks. But I might also be tempted by something else, like this:

Or maybe this:

Actually, if it was possible and if it didn't mean a sugar coma and nausea, I think I'd like all three.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

More Mayle

It's another busy week but I sneaked into Mayle before office hours--it is just two blocks away from work which may or may not be a good thing.

A few more pieces are in. The Sylvestre blouse comes in black silk, the ivory/pink silk and the floral used for the as yet unseen Leilani dress from the lookbook. It has a seventies feel (more Helmut Newton 70s with some romantic touches, rather than leisure suit 70s) and has a deep v-neck, covered buttons up the front and on the sleeves, a gentle ruffle around the neck and a ruffle detail near the top of the sleeves. It is fitted at the waist, has a peplum and slight dolman sleeves. It is very pretty but not too sweet and costs $495. It also runs big--a 6 was fine on me and the 8 drowned me.

A must-have military style coat is in--or rather the prototype is. Jane is making adjustments and it is currently only for pre-order. It made me feel glamorous and I imagine it may be another splurge.

A romper/jumpsuit has come in--again, the prototype. It has spaghetti straps with a kind of halter effect with another strap going around the back. It buttons up the front (covered buttons), has a pair of loosely draped ruffles at the front and skinny legs with buttons at the bottom that are cut like the leather pants with a slight ruffle. It is $575 and comes in black and in the floral used for Leilani and the Sylvestre blouse.

I also saw that they had some grey pants--one cropped with a deep cuff. As these were not on the rack I doubt they are the production versions. Most merchandise is still pre-orders.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


I know some people don't like being a bridesmaid but I've never felt that way. To me, it's an amazing honor to be asked to be part of somebody's wedding, and it offers me a chance to dress up. As a little girl, I always wanted to be a bridesmaid (the nearest I could get to being a fairy princess, I suppose), and I was quite impatient for the opportunity. When my Dad's sister married, I was the little bridesmaid but I had secretly hoped for a more ruffly dress than the simple long puff-sleeved lavender number I ended up wearing. In retrospect, it was actually a pretty and quite adult dress, but it didn't have as much seven year-old girl appeal.

This week, my friend Lisa called me just before I left to teach and asked me to be a bridesmaid for her wedding this spring in Santa Barbara. I was delighted. We were grad school roommates and she is one of my dearest friends, even though distance (or time zones) and work prevent us from talking as much as we'd like. We always share a hotel room at our annual conference and this is a photo of us taken on the first day of SCMS this spring in the elevator. Just being around her is a joy.

I am so honored to be invited to be part of Lisa's wedding and eagerly wait to find out more about what it will be like--and, of course, what we will wear!

2 Great Jones

It has been another busy week. Teaching an overload and having three new course preps leaves me little time to myself. I have made sure I go to yoga three or four times a week but otherwise the second half of the week (Wed-Fri night) is solid teaching and Sun-Tues really is just course prep with the occasional bout of writing. I've learned to take Saturday off, otherwise I feel tired all week and my teaching suffers. Obviously I would love to pop into Mayle every day, especially as it is just 2 1/2 blocks from Tisch, but once I'm in school, I'm busy with students and I don't even think about anything else.

On Friday, after my Fashion and Media class ended at 6.10, I finally walked over to Mayle. The pop-up is in the lovely large space formerly used for the Samples for EcoCompassion store and has been remade to look quintessentially Mayle. Two very long curtains on circular rails constitute dressing rooms and have an elegant sweep. There is a candle burning, but this one is not the familiar Votivo Red Currant. Instead I heard Jane say that one of its ingredients was vevitier.

Jane was working the shop when I went in. I also saw Geri from Poupette, whose jewelry I love. I got a chance to talk to Jane and thanked her for coming back to fashion, even if it is just for a quick visit. She looked relaxed and very pretty and was as kind and graceful as ever.

More items had come in since last week. There are samples of the boots and the sandal clog, which comes in black, brown and black with a dark blue suede heel. The Bebel dresses--the long and short Stevie Nicks style lace numbers--are in. I was taken with the short one in leopard lace but its long and very wide bell sleeves are not compatible with my life of reading, writing and dealing with dry erase boards. If I had an event to go to, or a lifestyle where I had to dress up more, I would seriously consider buying it.

Other new arrivals included the Anais dress--a short sleeved v-neck dress with a ruffled front in the ivory/pink print and in black washed silk. It has a sash at the waist and rows of buttons at the sleeves. Alas, the 6 was the largest size in so far and while I actually got it on, the narrow skirt and slim fit made me look like a sausage in its casing. It is a beautiful dress and I am sure it will look a lot better when I get to try it in an 8 or 10. I suspect this one runs a little small whereas the Bebel runs large--the 4 was more than big enough on me.

The other new arrival was the black wool Marie-Helene dress. Somewhat form fitting, this frock has an open scooped neck, a near empire waist/high waist, a straight but not tight skirt with three panels at the front, the middle slightly shorter than the two that flank it. It also has button trim, including buttons fastening what may be faux pocket tops near the waist. It is an extremely slimming dress. It may run a little on the small side--the 10 was a perfect fit for me--but it is quite beautiful and very wearable. It only comes in black hence my hesitation about getting it. It costs $575 and is very well made.

I left wanting so much. I know I cannot have all that I want, but the sandals are a must have. They evidently run small so I signed myself up for the 11, per Jane's advice.

I am thinking seriously about the Marie-Helene dress but I hear the lace romper is now in and the indigo version also appeals very strongly to me. I'm eager to see the Leilani dress as well--the one from the lookbook with the medium sized flowers. I am not sure which one will come home with me, but I am very impressed with all the items I tried on. The short tweed jackets were also in--in pink and a pale burgundy color. They were quite lovely (the fabric is amazing) but they were cropped which is not something that works on my body. Perhaps that's just as well as it further limits temptation!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Downtown Pop-Up Details

The staff at Sigerson confirmed that the downtown pop-up would open this Thursday. It will be at 2 Great Jones Street in Noho--or, as I like to think of it, just by NYU.

Mayle/Sigerson Pop-Up: More Details

First of all, I have no images. They are not allowing photographs of the Mayle collection so much of what you've seen already either comes from behind the dressing room curtain (I didn't think about taking photos while I was in there) or from press photographers. There are also a few cellphone photos circulating but my dinosaur of a phone has such a low res camera that anything I snapped would be all but unintelligible. Still, this is a capsule collection and by now, every item in the shop has been photographed in some way or seen on the lookbook poster. I am hoping for a couple of surprises but given the description of this as a 30+ piece capsule collection, some quick counting indicates that there won't be many more pieces left to be unveiled. There may be some pictures following on Caroline's blog as befits her status as a pro and a press photographer. So I can only offer words.

First of all, the Sigerson Morrison store on 71st St and the corner of Madison Ave is a laboratory store, by which they mean they offer collaborations with other designers and artists. It has two rooms--the front is mainly Sigerson (I don't think they have their full collection though) as well as some jewelry and art. The back room is for Mayle, and there is also a rack of items in the space adjoining both areas, as well as a few pieces hung on the wall. There's also a small Mayle window display. The shop itself is not big so it fills quite quickly with Mayle shoppers. Staff are very nice and helpful but there is only one dressing room (not surprising as SM is a shoe store after all), an ad hoc affair behind the register where they have curtained off some space with a curtain made in the ivory/pink silk used for the ruffled blouse. Besides the Mayle, I also saw some appealing shoes which makes me think this is a good deal for both lines.

My insane work schedule made it impossible for me to get to the pop-up before Saturday (canceling class to look at clothes is, of course, a no-go). I missed out on seeing a few items--whether they have sold out entirely or have had stock reserved for the downtown pop-up, I don't know. I would assume the latter. The missing pieces were the lace romper, lace dress (often described as the Stevie Nicks dress--I don't know its real name), and the Chanel/Marant-esque blue jacket with zippers that I believe was the most expensive item at $920, along with the Nicks dress which was likely in that ballpark area. Obviously, I can't comment on these--I would have liked to see all three as they were interesting and the romper was somewhat appealing. I hope I will get a chance to look at them downtown.

On the plus side, stock had rolled in so Saturday's shoppers were able to take most purchases home with them. The peplum dress, the burgundy and green versions of the tie dress and (I think) bags and belts were still advance orders only--presumably more stock will trickle in next week.

Onto the stock, dresses first. There were two in stock, one yet to come and one (the long one) no longer on display. I guess there are four dresses in this collection, but maybe there will be another one or two specially unveiled for the downtown pop-up as there are supposedly new pieces coming in each week. That might also mean new fabrics, however. The black lace version of the tie-dress appears to have sold out (at least in the SM pop-up and, possibly, for now). Other colorways of the dress were available in a variety of sizes--up to size 10. But available sizes were sporadic and varied with the fabric choices--I don't know whether this was because they were still waiting for orders or had sold out their allocation of dresses or something else. I tried on the blue and the black top/ivory/gold/purple flower print versions of the tie-front dress, the former in a size 8, the latter in a 10. I thought it ran a good size small, with the 8 barely zipping up on me (I have a small waist and usually that's not the problem with Mayle or any other brand) and it was tight in the back despite the puffed sleeves. The 10 was a comfortable fit but it wasn't my style. I would literally only have been buying it because it was Mayle. At $520 plus tax, that would have been silly so I put it back. I didn't try on the other dress option--the peplum dress with a gathered front--because they only had the size 4 in stock. It looked small (an opinion confirmed by others) and would never have fit on my body. I think it was also $520 or thereabouts but it had no price tag. The "samples" are not true samples--they are identical to the production dresses and are sold for the full price. I image the peplum dress will come in other fabrics.

The more contemporary, less retro/classic dress pictured on the poster is the Kala or Lala dress (I heard both) and is not yet in stock. I thought it was the more interesting of the two day dresses and want to see it in person. I hope it doesn't have a narrow skirt as that would rule it out for me. It may also be ruled out on the grounds of price--I heard it would be over $600 which appears a little high as none of the dresses were lined. Maybe this one will be different, given its slightly higher price point.

The jackets were a mixed bag. So far, there are three of them, with the cropped jacket again no longer on display. First of all, there was a classic blazer with a nipped-in waist looked well made and while it wasn't necessarily what you'd expect from Mayle (at least in recent years), it does fit in with current trends while also having a certain classicism that could make it a great investment piece. It was around $350 and came in a brown tweed, pale grey wool, a darker grey and possibly a camel or oatmeal color. I forget the exact details.

Another jacket was, for me, the nadir of the collection. A v-neck, longer line, loose fitting piece made in a very lightweight knit/woven knubby fabric with a chiffon-esque lining and lace lined roll up sleeves, this piece was a head-scratcher. It had some of the bar fastenings from Fall 08 on the front (which hid snap closures) and just appeared to include too many disparate details. I tried it on, assuming it may be one of those pieces that came to life on the body but it looked even cheaper and sadder on. Maybe it's just me but I was baffled by it. It was over $600, money that could have been spent better on some of the really nice items--like the bags. It came in two or three neutral colorways I believe, including gray and camel.

There were either two or three tops (Caroline claims three and is probably right as I didn't look at these as closely). One is ruffled with a tie and was my favorite out of the blouses. It is $495 in most fabrics, $525 in a leopard print grey lace. It seems to run very big and was just too voluminous for me and just not what I wear. Still, the one in the silk with the pink print was particularly pretty and very well made. The other fabrics weren't as interesting, save the lace, and didn't seem to have as nice a drape. The top with the elastic waist and sleeves--or two tops that were similarly cut--was not for me, something I knew as soon as I saw the first pictures. I'm tall and elasticated waists ride up and just don't work no matter how pretty. I thought the tops--and the tie-front dress--were a lot like Lyell, esp circa 2005-8. They hit the spot where Jane and Emma's visions seem to mesh. The black lace top had sold out or was not on display when I was there. The tops seemed to be the most popular item--people tried on the dresses but walked out with tops and I don't think that was just because there were more tops in stock.

Coats. These were, in my opinion, the best deal, varying from around $700-900. I think there were three, but I was so in love with one that I didn't try the others on. I remember two clearly but seem to recall a third one. In terms of craftsmanship, these, the belts, the bags, the blazer, skirt and leather shorts and pants seemed to be of the highest quality--the same as or close to the quality of Mayle's regular lines. I got the Vera coat. It is the one pictured in the poster and it is $745 plus tax, coming to $811. It comes in at least four-five colorways--the grey heavy tweed on the poster, the softer and slightly lighter weight black tweed with a lighter fleck that I bought, a brown tweed, a light brown tweed that's like my Lyell jacket from 2006-7--I believe it is the same fabric--and, I think, an olive green wool. I'm fuzzy on these details and may be wrong. As with most items, all fabrics are the same price (the exception seems to be some of the lace items and some of the bags). I have the original Vera jacket from FW 07 which appears to be the inspiration, with its oversize fit, smaller collar that can be left open, folded back sleeves and signature thick half-belt and draped back detailing. This coat runs very big but rather than wearing it as oversized, I sized down to a 4 which fits me very well and has a slightly sleeker, mid-1960s, Mad Man-esque feel. I loved the colorway I got and the wool was so soft it felt like cashmere. I will wear this coat for years and it fits a nice hole in my closet--I had no tweed coats, just jackets. Length-wise, this coat came to just above the knee.

The second coat that I remember seemed to be inspired by the Fedosia jacket and the Fedosia coat from the final sample sale. It was--I think--$895 and was shorter than the Vera coat. It comes in a variety of plain thick wools like Fedosia and has a double breasted front and dolman sleeves with button detailing. It is pretty but I didn't dare to try it as I was already carrying the other coat around as though it were mine--not that I needed a coat on such a beautiful sunny day with temperatures well into the 80s.

I think there is another coat that was also 3/4 in length but have no memory of the details. I think it was also more than the Vera, but I could be hallucinating.

The other items of clothing that have yet to be mentioned are the leather pants with a frill detail that were around $900, leather shorts (same detailing as the pants) for around $560, and a black wool skirt. The skirt was very Mayle--fairly narrow cut, to around the knee, high waisted with some button detailing. I think it was just under $400 but it wasn't something I needed and it looked too narrow for my body. It was a nice skirt but not an obvious show-stopper so I imagine that accounts for it getting little coverage--and black is, of course, very tough to photograph. There were also two different t-shirts--white with the pop up design printed in black, pink and yellow. At $65 (I think) these weren't cheap and I am not really a printed t-shirt person. I think they also had unfinished wide necks but I could be wrong.

Including the lace romper and the dress that hadn't yet made it into the shop, there were 16-18 items of clothing either in store or on the lookbook. I imagine there are a couple more surprises left but probably not many more.

Onto accessories. There will be three ankle boots--one you have likely seen with buckles and straps, another flat plain boot and a higher heeled plain ankle boot. No shoes, no clogs. I am a little disappointed as I'd hoped for shoes but I hope Jane will produce new shoes again some day. The boots will be in the $400+ range, I believe, judging from what I overheard.

There are supposedly four belts. I saw three. Marti has pictured them on her blog and you've all seen how pretty they are. I loved the one with lucite apples--it is $295, can be worn backwards or forwards and is very well made. Like all Mayle belts, it runs a little small. This is the most expensive of the three. The third belt I saw was striped and resembled one of the belts from the last holiday/resort collection.

The bags round out the collection. There are 6 styles and two canvas totes.  They are great--but a little more expensive than we're used to. The most pricey is the newest bag--the JM bag and tote. It comes in a beautiful pebbled leather, a suede in dark jewel colors, including a wonderful green, and what appears to be a thick corduroy style fabric, all with regular leather trim. Both the bag and the tote are $720 I think, slightly cheaper in fabric ($695 or so). The other bags include Billies in black, a neutral camel color, wine and some other colors, including the green suede, baby Billies (I only saw the green suede with brown leather trim but know there are other colorways), new Billies which have a short strap, a rigid handle and studs on the bottom--they also have leather and suede bodies, with suede panels on the front as well as the sides. All are really nice. The Samira fold clutch has also been reimagined as a shoulder bag with a leather strap (a brilliant addition) and a leather snap closure on the front. It is $295 and comes in a striped black corduroy-esque fabric (used for the JM bag) and the blue tweedy/denimy fabric used for the cropped jacket. Canvas totes are $35 I believe. According to the poster, there will also be lace pouches.

All in all, this makes around 30-32 items, depending on how you count the canvas totes and t-shirts and whether or not I'm imagining the extra coat and top. It looks like there will be just a few new pieces--and other than the dress that's missing and the pouchettes, I didn't notice anything else on the lookbook to cue me into thinking that there are other major deliveries in store. Still, promotions promise the last week of the three will deliver the coat of your dreams--which may mean something else is afoot. We will only know when it is over, I guess.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Super tired

This week has been extremely busy, capped off with an MA defense this week. I couldn't even make it to the Mayle pop-up until today. But once I have rested a little, I will give a more comprehensive recap of my visit to 71st Street and my thoughts on the new collection.

Mayle Pop-Up

I visited the Mayle pop-up today with Caroline and bought a Vera coat. This is the coat featured in the poster, although the one I got was in a black tweed which is softer and draped far better. This coat runs big and is supposed to be oversized, or so I gather. But I got the size 4--I am usually an 8--as it seemed to fit a little better than the 6, although I am not sure there was that much difference in sizing.

It looks a lot like a coat from the mid-early 60s. It has a great half belt at the back and rolled sleeves (elements of Belda are also present). It felt so me that I knew I had to take it home. Quality appears comparable to older Mayle, maybe slightly less fine tailoring but not much difference.

The tie-neck dresses were not for me and I've never been one for elasticated waist tops so I'm hoping that the Alexa Chung black dress is still at Madwell.

 A full report of the pop-up will follow--the belts and bags are amazing, at least two of the coats are really great and there are some pretty blouses. Quality varies--some is better than Ten Little Indians, some comparable and other pieces not as well made. The leather pieces are beautiful. Jane also has a plain jacket/blazer which comes in multiple colorways and may be a good staple--it is reasonably priced at about $350.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Whither Mayle?

It's not disturbing my concentration, but on a quick break from writing this chapter, I checked my email as I know the pop-up is supposed to open soon--with Sigerson having their Mayle room open this week. I've heard nothing and a google search brings up no more info. No poster/lookbook has arrived in the mail and there is nothing on the website. As I am so busy with teaching and writing this chapter, not to mention an MA defence and meetings galore this week, I actually hope the pop-up is late, that stock is plentiful and reasonably priced, so I can spend this week in the trenches and maybe buy something as a reward for getting my work done.

The Sick Kitten

We had an update on Remy's condition after she went to the specialist. She doesn't have TB (as I suspected), nor even leprosy but she does have a nasty bacterial infection. Thank you for all your well wishes. It looks like she will be fine but she needs to take her medicine. That's the rub. We waited up until around midnight for a delivery of three specialist medications from the vet but Remy will not take them. She has to be pilled twice a day and given two liquid antibiotics--and she refuses to cooperate. I have experience pilling a very sick cat (dear Lupin) in the past, and as feisty as she was (one broken cat piller, liquid antibiotics spat onto the wall, pills hidden under her tongue), Remy is far worse. We spent about an hour with her wrapped in a towel and that didn't work. Last night, I thought I got a pill into her, but she hid it by her teeth. So we're hoping a compounding pharmacy can rejig the meds so they are palatable to her. We're both completely swamped with work--to the point where neither of us has a day off, or even more than a couple of evenings off, per week so the little time we have spare is not enough to pill her. She is also supposed to have a powder mixed into her food to offset the effects of the antibiotics on her digestive tract, but this makes her refuse the food and go after Blue's dinner. As she's not taking her antibiotics either, I guess it doesn't matter.

Anyway, I wish she was as obedient as the tabby in one of my favorite very early films--George Albert Smith's The Sick Kitten (1903) which features a very early close up as an attraction, something Smith tried a couple of years earlier (with another Smith family cat) in Grandma's Reading Glass. Here it is in all its 35 second glory:


Saturday, September 18, 2010


Yesterday evening, after three days of solid teaching (and very little else, except insufficient sleep), I decided to check out the Alexa Chung for Madewell collection--or at least, what remained in store. I presumed Evan would be in Long Island with his family for Yom Kippur so rather than rushing home to the cats, I thought it was a good chance to sneak in a little window shopping.

Earlier in the day, I'd actually thought about shopping and what I really need vs what I want for the future. I'm trying to save--owning property at some point is important and I would prefer a house to an apartment so I didn't have to deal with neighbors waking up earlier than me and running around above my bed. And children are also a priority--so do I need yet another black dress?

Of course, it's easier to have willpower right now with the new Mayle collection about to be unveiled. Will I be able to afford any of it? What pieces should I go for (a patterned dress is my top priority, and I'd also like a dress with sleeves, should one exist)? It's tough to plan when you don't know what will be available and have even less idea of the price. Buying one item may be it, realistically speaking, especially with the other life goals I've set myself. But if the dresses are over $800, I may just be window shopping. Part of me wishes this wasn't happening, eager as I am to see it all.

Back to Madewell. I tried on the black velvet dress I loved. It is soft, lovely on but the length wasn't my favorite--an inch longer of shorter would be more flattering on my legs, but maybe with tights it would have been perfect. I decided to get it--it has sleeves, it fits my style, and even though I have misgivings that it would be immediately recognizable, I decided to go for it.

That was until I went to pay. Madewell are not offering the educator discount for this collection. With tax, the $178 dress would be nearly $200. So I showed some steel and passed. Maybe if I'd seen what Mayle had in store it would have been easier to pass, or easier to splurge. But I'm trying not to buy just because I love an item and I can. For the record, the quality was pretty good on all pieces. But somehow not getting the 15% discount made it cross the line. I don't necessarily consider the collection overpriced, but when you factor in NYC tax at nearly 9% it isn't cheap, and maybe is more expensive than it should be.

I'm still thinking about the dress, still half tempted to call the store and I know it has sold out online. But discipline builds character, right? And I have a lot of black dresses from Mayle and Lyell already. Just because I love something I shouldn't have to buy it, right?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Burst Pipe

Yesterday I was busy writing when I heard a light tapping. It had just rained earlier so I presumed it was more of the same. After a while, the sounds appeared more persistent so I went into the kitchen and bathroom to see if there was a dripping tap. The kitchen was fine, but when I went into the bathroom, it appeared that a bath tap was leaking--until I looked up and saw several major leaks in the ceiling, water all over the floor, my lovely shower curtain drenched and pieces of plaster melting away from the ceiling.

Evidently there is a burst pipe in the building--our downstairs neighbors have the same problem and, for once, it doesn't appear that our upstairs neighbors are the culprits (they tend not to put their shower curtain in the shower). Fortunately, the mess is contained to the bathroom but it's yet another thing I could do without at the beginning of the semester.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


We got some bad news yesterday that distracted us from the stress of the early semester. Evan took Remy to the vet last week because (we thought) she had some cuts resulting from (what we assumed) was a fight with Blue. These were incurred in May, had healed and then opened up again, possibly as a result of Remy licking them after the heat and humidity had irritated her skin. This hypothesis had always seemed problematic, not least because Blue is a sweetheart, even if he has his feisty moments. He may look like he wants a tussle, but he's never hurt Peeps and generally just enjoys a chase and tumble, like most young tomcats.

It turned out that poor Blue was indeed wrongfully accused. The results from tests came back yesterday. Remy's cuts are not cuts but a bacterial infection--possibly (best case) feline leprosy, which is (fortunately) not contagious and doesn't cross over to humans. It's also possible she has feline TB, a far worse diagnosis (prognosis is always guarded even if treatment is successful). It can also be contagious although many cats have a natural immunity (I hope my dear Peeps and Blue are OK). Obviously, it's very stressful for us, particularly poor Evan. She's an indoor cat who only eats Wellness soft food and has never been exposed to cattle or unpasteurised milk so it's somewhat of a mystery how she contracted this very rare condition. It is possible that the mouse she caught (and ate) two years ago is the culprit. Whatever the case is, she's off to the feline dermatologist at the feline hospital on the Upper East Side where, exactly two years ago, she was admitted for treatment of hepatic lipidosis--the illness that Evan's dutiful care helped cure (along with the $6,000+ in vet bills). She may need surgery and certainly she's going to have some heavy duty medical treatments. I am hoping for the best and trying to keep Evan's morale high. It's strange when you hope it's leprosy that's afflicted your cat--it is also slightly less rare than feline TB.

So here's to our chubby green-eyed girl. She's a fighting 19 lb-er and as sweet and feisty as they come. I so hope she is able to recover and that the next few weeks aren't too tough on her or her family of humans and fellow cats.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


If this is how the beginning of the semester feels, I don't know how I'm going to feel at the end. I'm teaching an overload--and tomorrow have no time off between 10 am-6.10 p.m. I just got home and am finishing the syllabus for the second class I teach tomorrow. I don't have time to xerox it in school so I have to print it out at home tonight. I just got in and have to eat.

It was cool today (and with the a/c at NYU, positively frigid). I wore my monogram clogs, a pair of toothpick J. Crew cords in an almost identical color and a loose ivory and grey patterned silk Club Monaco shirt and a boyfriend cashmere cardi in light brown. It wasn't the summery start to the semester I'd expected!

Alyssa and I may be going to Fashion's Night Out tomorrow--that is, if I am still awake at 6.10! I think I need to go to Madewell just in case any of the Alexa Chung sneaked in early. Still, if there is nothing I want, that's more for Mayle...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lace Rompers!

I've been INSANELY busy today--just about to eat dinner and then go to bed. I had to finish two syllabi--easier said than done when they are new classes and not conventional ones at that. One is Media and Fashion--fun but not a doddle as it isn't really an established field.

Anyway, I got the email about the Mayle pop-up just now and am salivating over the idea of lace rompers and silk patterned dresses. My poor bank account.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

More Mayle for Sale

Up this time is a blue cotton Araceli dress. This is size 6, worn once, briefly in the house, and is in like new condition. It is from SS 08 and was Jane's update of the legendary Elvira. It was also not photographed for the look book and is one of the more coveted pieces from that collection. Measurements are 17" bust, 14.5" waist, 19-20 hip (all flat across) and 35" length from top of shoulder. I will be posting this dress on ebay tomorrow so email me if you are interested.

Monday, September 6, 2010

New Leo Dress

I bought the pale blue Leo dress from Vain and Vapid for the summer and it is one of my favorites. Pretty and cool on hot days (at least relatively speaking), it's also something I plan to wear with dark tights, a camisole, cardigan and boots this fall. If I didn't already own it, I'd be tempted by the fall version which will be available from the Vain and Vapid shop today.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sort of Ready...

Other than going to yoga, I spent most of this beautiful sunny day inside constructing the syllabus for my grad class on the woman's picture. Perhaps it's because this does overlap with the new book project (on femininity and popular film/TV), I've spent ages on the reading. The students have three assigned text but the scholarship on woman's films is so dated--largely petering out in the early 1990s after a major paradigm shift in the field. I'm trying to have a mix of conceptual, historical, theoretical and textual studies, complete with some reception and institutional work. Alas, some areas are scantily covered at best. I've put 11 articles up on Blackboard and the syllabus really leans heavily on my reaearch--as yet in progress. It's going to help me cover some corners but I'd love to reteach this when the book is out so the gaps won't be quite as obvious--to me, at any rate.

Tomorrow, I just have to chose films. Some are already in there--films like The Group, Valley of the Dolls and The Best of Everything that are at the core of the chapter I'm currently writing.

Valley of the Dolls

Others are impossible to pick--how do you just cut a whole area down to one screening and a few clips? I'm starting with The Women. Nothing could be more perfect, right? Especially with its Technicolor fashion show (below).

Now time for Mad Men. My favorite show and it certainly is almost too perfect for my book, and my long-held love of the early and mid-1960s.

Barneys Warehouse Sale

As is our custom, Evan and I always hit Barneys Warehouse sale in its final days when the markdowns are high but the girls' pieces often very picked over. The men's floor is generally in much better shape--the racks are somewhat more organized, the merchandise doesn't have tears or pulls, and there is a lot more room. I'm not sure if this has something to do with the consumers or the retailer (Barneys was, of course, originally a man's store), but it makes me somewhat wistful when I head downstairs and see a well-stocked arrangement of near-pristine clothing.

I wasn't after anything in particular. I'd hoped that they might have some boots but nothing in my size (40-40 1/2) was wearable. Some pretty heels but at 5+ inches, they were more ornamental than anything else. I'd hoped to find some dresses, maybe Jeffrey Monteiro, Phillip Lim or some cheap Marni, but that was not to be. I saw one beaten up Phillip Lim dress, two old and worn out looking JM dresses and a few tops, but even had they been in my size, I wouldn't have wanted any of it. I did snag one thing--a blue and white Acne shirt--which was just $23. I would have dug deeper into the jeans pile (after the markdown, they were all around $20) but there was so little in my size and you really need a mirror to buy jeans and I couldn't face jostling with 20 or so other girls to get a glimpse of my reflection.

Evan had more luck. Two pairs of pants, a linen shirt and a blue Aretha Franklin t-shirt (which seemed to be his favorite find)--all for $49. All in all, we did pretty well. Not as good as the JM red slouch dress and purple Phillip Lim dress I got for less than $150 combined last time, but we're happy.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

96 degrees on September 1

All I need to say, really. Where did the year go?

Got it in.

Not only is it the run up to the semester starting (writing syllabi, meetings, etc--in other words no free time) but our annual conference paper call deadline was today. I got up, reread the proposal I and made a few changes and got it in by 11. Now I'm going into school. So much work to do that I'm even forgetting about Mayle's pop-up (temporarily, of course).

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

More Mayle for Sale

While I am deciding what to keep and what to sell, Caroline has emailed me with another dress she's selling. This one is the Mirabelle dress in ivory from Resort 08--until now, the final regular Mayle collection :). It is a size 6 and is $250 or best offer.

I have this dress in black--it's a great, easy and beautiful dress with such amazing details as the bow by the top of the neck. It works well belted or straight and is great for the 90-something degree days we're having right now.

If you are interested, please email Caroline at complicatedskirt[at]gmail[dot] com.

Thank you!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mayle Returns--More Details

So, here's the latest. There will be over 30 pieces in the collection, including the shoes. It debuts September 22 at 19 E. 71st Street--Sigerson's uptown store. Shoes will be designed by Jane but produced by Sigerson-Morrison.

Back to School

While I'm not quite back to teaching yet, the semester has begun in many other ways. Today I had a 10-12 meeting. I spent the weekend writing syllabi and gathering materials (books, dvds, etc.), a task I continue today, Then I have to activate the Blackboard portions of each class, post materials and syllabi and generally get back to teaching--something that will take its toll on my writing. 

Furthermore, our professional organization's annual conference submission deadline is Wednesday. After I've finished with this syllabus, I think I'm going to have to cut down the chapter fragment I'm submitting into a short proposal.

All this tells me fall is around the corner, yet the sun is blazing down and it is 90 degrees out there. I am probably not the only person who wishes it was still early summer. I love my students and I love teaching, but I also like the summer--long days, fresh fruit, warm breezes--and the freedom it gives me to write.

Friday, August 27, 2010


My Tripoli dress arrived from Diani today and it is beautiful--soft, lightweight cotton, fits tts, and it is a lovely shade of coral. I'm really pleased. If anybody is interested, they still have them in stock in sizes 4, 6 and 10. They also have other Monteiro for 80% off and are currently having a 50-80% off sale (with free shipping).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mayle Pop Up

As many of you likely now know, there will be a pop up shop and a shoe/boot line in collaboration with Sigerson Morrison this fall. I hope this is a harbinger of Jane returning to something like full time designing. I also hope Domahoka has the line so people can buy it from afar. I will be reporting the details as they come out and, of course, visiting the pop-up when my schedule permits to report on styles. As there will be a website and lookbook, we will all be able to see new Mayle again soon for the first time.

I imagine prices will be on the high side as this is a new and limited collection (and therefore higher production costs). I imagine it will be something like the pieces Jane has produced for Septieme Etage in Geneva, although probably around 30-50% cheaper. Still, I'm anticipating it may be $800-$1,200 for a dress (or even her old price points of $600-$900) so I won't be buying the whole line. Certainly, I'll have to parse the collection carefully to ensure I get the right items for my life, ones that complement my closet. Hopefully the shoes and boots will be in stores for longer than the dresses, given that they are a collaboration with S-M

Here's the email about her comeback--hopefully, Jane will return again soon, for longer than three weeks:

Hope everyone is well! I wanted to let everyone in on a little secret. Jane Mayle is making a comeback in the form of a pop-up shop in late September. It will last for about 3 weeks. Dresses, coats, tops, handbags, shoes, and boots. A full collection for Fall 2010! I have been happily assisting Jane on this project, and am excited to share the news with you. Along with this Mayle pop-up, Jane is also collaborating with Sigerson Morrison (uptown) with shoes/boots, and they will also be carrying select pieces from the line.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mayle for Sale, Part 4

Next up is the Danya dress from Fall 07, size 6, lightly worn--pictured above. This dress is in a thick winter lace with a wool top. I have three other dresses from Fall 07 in similar fabrics that I tend to wear instead of this one so I decided to part with it in the interests of a streamlined closet.

I am reluctant to let this one go. In the interests of full disclosure, the winter lace fabrics this dress is made from tend to pill very slightly--the dresses in the store were doing the same. This dress is no different--it has a slight nubbiness in places but it is not noticeable when on and does not distract from the dress's beauty.

I am having some problems with blogger so some of these pictures may not display as they should. I've pictured the back buttons and the front of the bodice to show the lace inserts in the side.

In terms of size, this runs true to size to a little large. It would fit a 6 or small 8.

If you are interested, please leave a comment below. Thank you so much.

Dress as styled in the lookbook--belt was not included.
Back of the dress