Sunday, February 28, 2010

End of Another Month

So February will be over in just over 40 minutes. I've finally stopped work for the day and am relaxng with an old episode of Beverly Hills 90210.

I've done pretty well with this month's resolutions. First, spending/clothes: I started weak with the Lyell sample sale but since then, I've been good. I waited on a couple of items, only to decide I didn't really need them anyway. Although the snow and slush makes me want to escape to beautiful clothes, the reality of this month is snow boots, thick sweaters and cardigans. Not so glamorous.

I did get something yesterday at the Barney's warehouse sale but I spent less than $100. I bought the Jeffrey Monteiro red slouch dress--for $75. It's missing a button but otherwise perfect. Evan thought it looked great on--I tried it when we got home with a pair of purple tights and my Lola clogs. Evan's mother bought us some things too (or paid for them)--more in my next post--with photos no less!

I figure it wasn't a bad thing to booked the month with two good sales deals--both classics I'lll wear for years. I have a few covets for the spring, but they are limited--some fantasy items, some more sensible and everyday. But I am trying to "shop my closet" and wait to splurge on things I really can't live without.

As for work, I've really worked hard--to the expense of any leisure. I still have to reread two and half chapters of my book (I have seven chapters and an intro--just under 460 pages including endnotes). I've proof read and copy edited the book twice and hope this is the last pass--I even typed in all the corrections on all but the last three chapters. If I can get it in the mail this week, I can celebrate by writing my conference paper--the one I have to present in two weeks in L.A...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Week of Work

I've been so quiet recently because I am on the verge of finishing my book. Besides writing/editing/typing in corrections in my free time, I've started doing it in those snippets of time I use to blog (like office hours when nobody is coming in to see me). I'm hoping the book will be finished within the next week. Then I will photograph some clothes and throw myself back into this venture.

With February nearly over, I have done quite well with restricting my impulse to buy clothes. I have bought nothing since I got the Lyell jacket, which is my only February purchase along with the Rachel Comey worker pants--which are lovely.

Right now it's snowing and sleeting outside. So I'll be back in snow boots until the beginning of next week. This weather doesn't really allow you to be stylish.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Busy, busy

I may have a camera now (yay!) but I've been so busy this week I haven't used it yet. I'm hoping this is the last week I spend finishing up the book (before the inevitable round of more revisions). So I've been mired in pages of text, editing down chapters, cutting, pasting, correcting. One more proof read and (hopefully) minor edits. I want to send this baby out in the post on Tuesday--if all goes to plan, I'll be printing it up and packing it up on Tuesday in office hours.

Then I can get going on my conference paper, sample chapter for the second book proposal and all those other things that are not part of my career but actually part of my life! This is why I am still in pajamas at 3.05 p.m...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day

Although we also worked hard, Evan and I had a great Valentine's Day. On Saturday night, we got dinner and went to see a movie (Fish Tank--not as great as the reivews painted it). After that, we went to Whole Foods and got deserts (a fruit flan for me, a chocolate cake for Evan) which were yummy but certainly a violation of my diet. Alas, I managed to leave my favorite Steven Alan cashmere hat in the theater and it wasn't handed in, so I hope they made them again ths year and can replace it.

On Sunday, Evan gave me my gift--a Canon digital camera! So now I can finally take some photos to illustrate this blog. What a thoughtful and kind man he is.

I hope everybody had a great Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Vintage Inspirations

Perhaps it's teaching Hollywood Before 1960--where I'm currently spending several weeks discussing the early 1930s--or maybe it's a reaction against the snow piling up outside. Either way, I'm coveting the delicate clothing seen in backstage musicals like The Broadway Melody or Gold Diggers of 1933, the scalloped edge of a voile dress like the one worn by the daughter in Applause or any variant of hand knitted cardigans, silky tops, and silken gowns.


Other than making me think about how I could copy such pieces in my own sewing (with difficulty, I know, as these fabrics are tough to work with), they've also made me turn to some of my Lyell pieces, including the new jacket that I can't wear until it warms up. Here's a picture of one of my favorite Lyell dresses from 2005--the Bonnie and Clyde dress (taken from the lookbook as my camera is broken--the dress is far lovelier in real life, if a little longer than I'd like).

While I don't know if I can really dress like a showgirl from 1931 and actually go to work and teach a class, I love the way that fashion allows this kind of reinvention--a play with the construction of self, space and time.

Snow Day

I am not a fan of snow--sure, it's pretty at first but that lasts for minutes in the city. It's cold, slippery and stops you getting around. I'm not the best at balancing on snow and ice, even in my old snow boots from Wisconsin, so snow often means I fall over.

 But I am a fan of snow days. Sitting in and working on my book, cats at my side, seems a perfect way to while away a day.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lyell Sample Sale, February 2010

After my luck with the Jeffrey Monteiro sample sale, I was hoping for good things from Lyell but aware that Emma has greatly reduced her production this year. Last year I was distracted by Mayle (as were so many of us) and made it to the Lyell sample sale at 4 p.m., almost as an afterthought. Most of the good things (and there were good deals to be had) were long gone, but there was still a lot of stock left late in the day. The year before, I was at a conference in Philly, got the announcement by email and was still able to get back late on Sunday afternoon and get the black minidress I wanted and a sample of the green Claire dress that was more ornate than the production number. I've had decent luck at all these sales, getting items I coveted for good prices. Last year could have been the same but obviously, I had different priorities.

This year was different. I had a sense there wouldn't be the same kind of deals in the past when I went to the boutique and got my jacket on Friday--for many people, $260 is too much for a sample sale item. Not all the fall merchandise was going in the sale--the wrap blouse, crocheted dress and crocheted top were staying put in the store, as was the blouse with the little collar. The short sleeved sweater I liked was $140--too much for an item like that, at least given my need for warmth--and the fancy blouse was $180. The shorts and camis were the cheapest items from this season at $100 each. I like the shorts but realistically I can't wear them in very cold weather, nor can I wear them to teach. So I passed.

I got up on Saturday, bright and too early, ready to meet Caroline at 11 and find the deals. One of the things I've always liked about Lyell's sample sales (other than the good prices) has been the availability of lots of next season samples. Sometimes these haven't worked for me (size 4 Lyell can be incredibly small), but even then, I've had a glimpse into future offerings. There have also been smatterings of old stock, which can be nice too. This sale was different--very little new season stock (not surprising really--Emma only sells at her own store here and in Paris and maybe sells a little through Smith and Warren in Brooklyn). So no cancelled orders, returned stock or excess inventory existed. I'd already seen the items from Fall and got my jacket the day before, so I was after a couple of specific pieces--short sleeved cardigans from SS 09, items I'd likely missed out on as I chased down a few remaining pieces of Mayle, and any samples of interest.

I got to the sale at 11.15 and while I was relieved to see that there was no line, I knew within a few minutes that there was nothing in there for me. I wasn't alone here--the girls who got there at 11, or a few minutes earlier than that, had taken what little stock there was and were zealously holding onto it. Other than the coats--and current season pieces which were presumably priced far too high for most customers--there was little left, save a few vintage slips and a pile of cords. The sample boxes were ravaged, but it didn't appear there were many samples at all, let alone any for future collections. The one coveted item seemed to be a knit dress that some girl had already snagged with a scalloped white collar. Otherwise the merchandise seemed to consist largely of size 0, 2, 4 black pants, the box pleat skirt I already own two of from SS 06 that I live in, a few black and ivory tops with the small collar and halter neck from SS 09 and the aforementioned jackets, coats and sleeeveless cardigans from this fall. A few dresses from last summer and the resort 08 moonprint dress were in very small supply (one or two of each) and were much coveted by shoppers. Simply put--very little stock, very little of the dresses, blouses and cardigans many customers wanted to find and a very limited range of sizes--mainly 4s and smaller--meant that most people weren't going to find anything. I should add that some of the older stock was very cheap--Caroline got the linen romper I bought this summer for a mere $40, but it was the only one there (someone else got the black one for just $75).

Caroline was there at 11 and found a few items--when I got there, only the jackets, coats and the tops from SS 09 were left on the rails, along with vintage pieces and the sample boxes were empty. But she said that it wasn't great then. She just missed out on the knit dress we both admired and a red silk blouse from resort 08. She bought a pair of grey tweed shorts that looked amazing on her--she wears shorts a lot and they were a great investment for her--as well as the romper. But neither of us spent the way we had planned.

After that, we headed to Stuart and Wright to look at No. 6 dresses and Isabel Marant, but there wasn't too much in the way of reductions. It was only then I realized that their sample sale starts next week... So we had breakfast, which was yummy, at the Lafayette Cafe, headed back into Manhattan, and I went to the library and she went to Tisch, satisfied that we'd actually been pretty good with our money and still had a really fun day.

So Much for Economizing...

I rationalize this splurge because it is one of the pieces I've had my eye on all season. I feel the cold so I do wear jackets most items, save shoes, boots, sandals and cardigans. It's also very pretty but not too sweet.

I was very lucky and was able to pick it up from Lyell the day before their sample sale started as they had already marked down the new stock--just a stroke of shopping luck.  I'll report on the sample sale later today after I've finished writing my Japanese Horror film lecture, and write about my fun time with Marti, something she's already blogged about. But for now, suffice to say, I didn't find anything. Most of my covets were not going in the sale, had previously sold out in my size or were still way too pricey. Much as I like the matching tweed shorts, I don't really think I'd get enough wear out of them to justify the $100 sample sale price.

So my pants are on their way, I have some Jeffrey Monteiro finds and now the Lyell peacoat. Notwithstanding the Mayle drought, I do at least have some nice new finds.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Felled at the first post

 So much for my resolution. I saw Erica's post about the Stel's sale and couldn't resist getting these rachel Comey pants. I'd thought about getting them earlier in the fall, even though I've never seen them in any store. At a hair over $100, I couldn't resist, especially as I am very low on pants. Of course, I just hope they fit and look as good in real life.

Stel's sale wasn't the only threat to my resolution. It's the Lyell sample sale on Saturday and I'm meeting Caroline to see what I can find. I'd like to get one of the short sleeved cardigans from SS 09 if any are left, possibly the sleeveless sweater, and maybe a scallop peacoat (this would have to be the very last peacoat other than the one from SS 07 on my Mayle wishlist that will never turn up in my size). I am also interested in the wrap blouse if it fits and is cheap and the crocheted dress which I think may have sold out.  I very much doubt they will have much stock and expect I'll get very littl given that the press get the first bite. Besides her production was so limited this season that there won't be much to sell. I also suspect that a lot of the fall stock won't be in the sale. I got the final size 8 purple wool gathered skirt (which I wore today with my old Lyell polka dot blouse from FW 05 and a black J. Crew cashmere turteneck sweater), so even if it is reduced, it won't be in my size.

And I so need shoes. That one seems not to be happening.

Tomorrow, I get to meet up with Marti for lunch and shopping. It should be fun!

Monday, February 1, 2010

February Resolutions

This month, I'm vowing to be disciplined. I've kept my spending somewhat in check recently, partly as the sales haven't been sterling (except Jeffrey Monteiro), partly too because I haven't seen much that thrills me. It's February now and I still haven't found my winter shoes--I guess at this point, it's not to be.

So, my resolution for this month is to avoid spending on clothes and accessories (including little bits of J. Crew jewelry). Instead, I'm going to try to save and reserve any money for Mayle items on my long covet list. I've gone through a long dry spell with ebay recently, I haven't found anything at INA or other consignment stores in recent months. At some point, however, something I want is going to be out there and I will need the money that I could have frittered away on little accessories or additional cardigans.

My other resolutions include updating the blog more and getting more of my own writing done. Somehow these seem antithetical but I think I can do it. Both involve writing, after all.