Monday, May 30, 2011

Summer Diet

I was recently on a course of medications whose side effects include possible weight gain. I've been exercising and eating sensibly but was horrified to find that some of the clothes that fit me just two weeks ago are now tight. I suspect this is a temporary thing, but it is pretty upsetting nonetheless. It will, however, mean that I can't buy clothing until my weight goes back down (it's always easier to pile it on than take it off) and it will also force me to be more imaginative in coping with the summer heat and humidity. Ironically I had just started to lose weight so this is doubly frustrating. Of course, I've packed it on where I am biggest--my back and thighs. At least I know the culprit but it still leaves me with more weight to lose and takes me back to where I started from.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Retro Guardian

I always like reading the Guardian (better in print than online but that isn't always possible). I also secretly enjoy reading old microfilm newspapers, even if it does take a long while to find anything you may need for research. So I was amused to find that the Guardian is celebrating its 190th anniversary with a version of to-day's paper, typeset as though it were 1821. It can be found at with live links, updated in real time--and you can even "entweet" it.

Early Sound Film Thursday

As part of my easing back into work, I started watching some of the films I want to use for the next book. In the early evening, I headed over to Brooklyn to watch the Clara Bow early sound film, The Wild Party (1929) with Ashley, Brittan and Taso. It was really great (and fun to watch with other devotees) and will be at least a footnote to the female group film chapter. Watching it made me feel quite sad about the premature end of Bow's career--her voice was good as was her acting. While I know that most of the rumours about silent stars' voices not working for sound were just myths, designed to restock studio rosters with cheaper and less powerful newcomers in the midst of the Depression and the costs of converting production/exhibition, it is so sad to think that many charismatic performers suddenly were faced with the end of their careers while still in their 20s and 30s. Still, TWP was very much worth watching and, for me, was another useful piece of evidence of the importance of the female group trope in women's films, with its significance for the feminine, the relational and discourses on both youth and identification. It also had some great clothes.

Later that night, I watched another early sound film, Show Girl in Hollywood (1930). As a side note, these films always strike me as constituting a period of their own, one possibly owing more to silents than pre-Codes. Perhaps part of this is fashion--obviously sound films from 1928-30 look more like they belong with late silents, but there's more to it than that. Some of it, perhaps, is the occasional use of intertitles which in themselves remind you that sound is still new and in its transitional stages. But some of it the mores and cultural references of the time--even two or three years makes a huge difference in this period of film history and the issues, fashion, culture of 1932 seems quite distinct from that of 1930, and, of course, the sound technology is radically different. The films also seem very self-conscious of their position, aware of the question of history as what were just movies were in the process of being bracketed off into a silent past, their modernity suddenly questioned as their status suddenly transitions to that of relic.

Now an almost forgotten curio, Show Girl in Hollywood was evidently more of a significant release in its day--as evidenced by a final technicolor reel (now lost--the only prints are in black and white). Color was not infrequently paired with early sound--it's almost as if the studios figured they may as well flaunt all their new technologies, especially in the new musicals that took greatest advantage of sound. SGIH starred Alice White (pictured above)--often promoted as a blonde Clara Bow--another flapper star from the 1920s who did transition successfully to sound but then made some wrong decisions (temporarily leaving the screen for romantic reasons) only to mismanage her career after it was blighted by scandal.  Like Bow, she certainly had the tough wise-cracking qualities that would have made her very suited to the pre-Code era,  while also being a singer-dancer (with the kind of rough singing voice that clearly was popular at the time but doesn't really work today).

Ironically, SGIH deals with a young girl's rise to stardom in Hollywood, but in a less sentimental fashion that is the hallmark of so much late 1920s/early 30s cinema, contrasting again with the more Classical films that followed. Indeed, the film acknowledges the industrial and economic system that produces quick rises and falls, where all talent is replaceable, and where stars of 32 can find themselves washed up relics. Here the film is notable for a fascinating piece of casting--silent star Blanche Sweet plays the role of the slightly older actress who finds herself living in luxury off-screen in a retirement that is more involuntary than the public believes.

White's character, Dixie, brings her back into pictures, showing us that Sweet also has the voice, presence and skills to work very well in sound--almost as another Depression era sophisticate like Irene Dunne or Ruth Chatterton. Indeed, if she'd had Chatterton's stage pedigree rather than the baggage of being a Biograph star with Griffith, it's possible that her age--mid-30s--would not be a problem. But strange as it seems to me, the days of Biograph shorts were just 20 years before the early sound to pre-Code years--something that clearly seemed an eternity at the time. In many ways, this film documents how that history was experienced--the teen players of yore could only be seen as historical relics even as they were still relatively young women. It was not an issue of technology, how the camera registered their looks, or voice, but rather the need for novelty and cinema's own assertion of itself as always new that ruined these careers. The memory of this past was always attached to these pioneer actresses and not so easily resolved as in SGIH.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


One of the big things I intend to do this summer is to maximize my unlimited yoga/pilates/zumba/dance membership. I have put on weight but because it was somewhat proportional, I didn't notice. I have to admit that I fell somewhat off the ladder when it comes to limiting sugars and bad foods, and all the good work I did seems to have slid away--or slid back. I'm currently wearing a Jeffrey Monteiro dress that was baggy in the top last summer and now feels a little tight. I think I've lost some of the weight (at least, that's what my fellow pilates/yoga/zumba classmates tell me) but I am pretty disgusted with myself.

I just got back from one of my bootcamp classes. I think my stamina is greater than it was, but I still need to lose the weight. As I was in agony while jumping and squatting, I kept thinking that the four squares of chocolate I had earlier really weren't worth this pain. Funnily enough, when I exercise, I actually want less food in the evenings--and I know I eat less in the spring/summer (this long cold spring-less spring hasn't helped me weight-wise in that respect). With my metabolism raised, hopefully I can burn off the fat that hides my muscles. I have, however, learned one thing--that pilates and yoga may make me strong but they don't cause me to lose the fat. I can't look toned with inches of flab covering me and even though I am good at disguising my weight, I really am not in the kind of shape I want. Part of me still thinks of myself as that size 2-4 skinny girl with long, thin limbs and a tiny waist who can eat anything but my body (and my reflection at the gym) shows me that that girl is only a memory.

Even though I can't necessarily get back into my early 20-something shape, I can improve my body. Ideally I'd love to have narrow thighs and hips again so I can wear skinny pants and flaunt my waist in narrow tops. Earlier this month, I saw a girl in the department wearing a loose draped grey t-shirt tucked into high waisted, very skinny dark grey pants, high heels and her hair in a ponytail. It was that simple and it looked that good. I wanted that outfit but then quickly realized that on my body, it would be worse than a joke--I'd look fat, lumpen, middle-aged and out of shape. Maybe my body will never look that way but it is a goal to have in sight--and one that makes me realize that I could also cut my clothing budget very easily if I could look that good in pants and a t-shirt.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Settling into Summer

I'm currently adjusting to not teaching--although that doesn't mean no work. Indeed, the beginning of the summer still feels a little like the semester as I have a couple of defenses scheduled for the next week or two and a few incompletes to still grade. I also have to get to work on my conference paper soon so the library is likely to become a regular fixture in a day or so.

I'm also making an effort not to spend. I know the best way to do this is to avoid all temptation--no shopping blogs, no window shopping, no magazines. But that would be no fun. So I've put a few things into shopping carts, left them there while I've gone off to do other things (like read Photoplay) and then realized I don't want them anyway. The lure of big reductions has to stop. I've fallen victim to that temptation too many times in the guise of saving and then received packages that may have ultimately been less than inspiring. I'm aware that some of these can be the best purchases in the long run as they fit in with your needs and become really great basics--a brown cashmere cardigan I got from J. Crew in their big winter sale this January initially seemed more like shopping cart filler but turned out to be one of my favorite and most useful items. But too often that hasn't been the case.

I do need sandals and shoes, and I should get some more yoga/pilates/zumba pieces (which doesn't really count). If it gets really hot, more cotton or linen dresses will perhaps be needed. But in the meantime, I'm making the most of some overlooked items I already own and enjoying them afresh. One particularly great rediscovery is a black silk just above the knee a-line skirt from Lyell's only holiday collection (I think it was 2008). I bought it because it went so well with the top below, but it has also proven itself to be a versatile skirt for this crazy humid weather, pairing well with plaid shirts, striped tops and other basics, as well as working with or without sandals.

I've also worn my new Madewell blouse several times and love it. With all the rain we've been having, I've had to put my Coco clogs away for a few days but hopefully they will come out to play again soon. While today has been mercifully sunny (with overcast spells that threaten rain), we have barely had any decent spring weather and I keep coming back to my coats and sweaters even though June is on the horizon. How could this year have passed so fast?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Geek-ish Pleasures

It is officially summer (as in, classes are done and grades are in) so that means I'm sticking my toes back into research. The top priority really has to be the conference paper (which will also be part of the new book's conclusion) and as I have nothing written, I started looking for research materials yesterday. Initially, I was searching for articles to order on interlibrary loan, but then I discovered the marvels of google books. They have an inconsistent run of Photoplay, Moving Picture World, Motion Picture Classic and other periodicals from the 1910s--which made me super-excited. I also found some reform and social science serials and small books/pamphlets from the same period (many of them works I had out of the library for most of my dissertation writing years), which will be handy for book revisions--especially as I forgot them entirely in the subsequent years and could use them for small tweaks to various chapters.

By the end of the day, I was squealing with joy as I added these (free) titles to my google library. I never thought I'd own whole volumes of Moving Picture World from 1916 or Photoplay from 1915. I was planning to get an iPad 2 anyway for work (easier to carry to conferences and school for Powerpoint presentations), and now I can read these books on it, it will be even more useful. Sometimes I forget how much the 1910s thrill me, but just looking at these covers, their distinctive and dated use of English (replete with excessive use of hypenation and terms like motography, photoplay--or photo-play, kinematography) makes me very happy--in a very geek-like way.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Restraining Myself

Tonight I followed an auction for a blue Rachel Comey dress from a couple of summers back. I love the print, the lines and think it would have looked good on me. I placed my bid in the last few seconds, another bid, then another quickly followed. Perhaps they were from snipers, perhaps they were live bidders and I could have won, but instead I stopped. It would have been lovely and I would have worn it for sure, but I've been bad recently and sometimes, you just have to recognize that you can't have everything.

On that note, I am going to purge some items soon--never worn shoes (Prada, Miu Miu, Marc Jacobs) in size 40, my Rachel Comey silk sailor dress which never really fit me and was never worn (my big thighs make shirtwaister dresses difficult), a couple of other Rachel Comey and Mayle pieces amongst others. Watch this spot for details. I have yet to go through everything I have but I'm learning that to have more new clothes, I have to sell some of the ones I already own and don't wear/never wore.

And maybe that Rachel Comey dress, or another in that pattern, will come up again and make it into my closet.


One of my friends recently got a great new job, so we went out tonight to celebrate/mark the occasion (our schedules have been so busy that it took about a month). After my bootcamp style yoga/dance/pilates class kicked my butt, we headed off to Ayada Thai and had one of the most exquisite meals--we split chive dumplings, a steamed fish (red snapper, I believe) with garlic, lots of lime, chilis and cilantro, pad kaprao with vegetarian duck and fried catfish salad, complete with lots of green mango. It was indescribably good, each dish spicy and complex, yet also gentle and subtle. Then we walked back to our place and ate the icebox cake from Billy's Bakery--which drove Blue mad as he craves cream and butter. I let him have a few tastes of whipped cream as it seemed unfair to torment him so--his little nose kept tweaking and he couldn't be kept away from the bag, boxes and plates. He's one of those rare cats who can tolerate dairy (my other, late lamented blue cat, Lupin, was the same) so I let him indulge every now and again--but only in minute doses.

Given that I probably burned off a lot of calories and certainly sweated through my clothes (and audibly gasped in agony a couple of times), I'm not sure how wise my dinner choices were. But it was a celebration and I promised myself that I'd cut back (again) on the sweet stuff, fatty foods and other extravagances starting tomorrow. I have fresh salmon, cilantro, beans, brussel sprouts, limes and garlic in the fridge for tomorrow night's dinner, so that's a good start.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Grades are in, save for a couple of independent studies. I devoted yesterday to me--not necessarily in a pampering way but more in a recovery from utter exhaustion way. That meant acupuncture, zumba and meeting with a really great graduate student to talk about developing her paper into a longer project (it's certainly publishable as is but with tweaks it could get in a much better journal). I also caught up on some TV, watching the Gossip Girl and 90210 finales, both (spoiler alert) replete with sudden pregnancy cliffhangers. Both shows I think made a misstep in potentially breaking up two couples who are more dynamic together than apart--Chuck and Blair (so much better when scheming together) and Naomi and Max who were just delightfully sweet. Hopefully 90210 will ship off the annoying Annie and do something better with the Adriana character next season--it certainly is the show with the worst record for creating consistent characters and plot arcs, with its constant change in showrunners clearly evident.

So today is the day to clean up, sort through papers, recycle stuff and go to another dance-aerobics-pilates-yoga hybrid class. And tomorrow, finish errands and start the serious business of writing and researching (I think I have to hit the microfilm room at Bobst for a few days to get this conference paper started). And on that note, I also have to book travel and accommodations and register--another (expensive) task for tomorrow.

Also, I am going to spring clean my closet. Some Rachel Comey that I've not worn will be posted here in the next few days, amongst other pieces (including some Mayle) that I'm just never going to wear. I have to create room for my new Mayle, Thakoon and Suno pieces.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I may have hit the halfway point--I may be slightly over it. It is tough to tell as I don't know the page count (grad papers are about 50% longer). But I do know I am tired. Grades are due in tomorrow and it looks like it will be another late night. I was nice to my students and gave them as long as I could--because they are good students and nice people and need the time too. It's always a crunch but this time it's worse as I had a migraine on Thursday that lagged over into Friday, preventing me from reading or doing anything online. Still, I'd rather just enter grading bootcamp and get the task finished so I can get back to my own writing this week.

Friday, May 13, 2011


While J. Crew has some exciting items for fall, Madewell shouldn't be overlooked. Its spring/summer collections have some great versatile pieces. I am seriously thinking about getting these sandals which combine the appeal and look of heels (especially from the front) and the comfort of heels. And with my faculty ID, the discount takes them below $110 so I'll pay lower NYC tax.

I also fell in love with this shirt, so much so that I bought it in navy (not available in this color online). It is soft, drapes just right and I think I will live in it, especially on hot or humid days. I doubt it will be reduced as it seems to be flying off shelves--four other people bought it while I was in there. I don't care if I see someone else wearing it as it's just that nice. The Madewell image below really doesn't do it justice. 


I have admired Suno's clothing for the last two seasons, albeit from afar as it was always just a little out of my price range. I've got a long list of covets from their resort and spring 2011 collection too, and would be happy just to own a few pieces.

I went to their sample sale this week, both times with Caroline, both times on my way to or from work. Yesterday we scoped out the merchandise and tried a few things on. Alas, some of my favorite items, including the dress Michelle Williams wore at Cannes, were simply wrong for my body, being a little too narrow in the back and constructed in fabric that had absolutely no ease. At $380 it was also a little too expensive for me at a time when I have some very big expenses coming up. Some of the tops were lovely on the hanger but again not really cut for my body--and the skirts were all too small.

I had a hunch (as I did with Mayle) that the reason the sale was so quiet was because the prices may be too high for recession-era New York shoppers. So on our way to NYU today, Caroline and I went by Suno and, sure enough, the prices were reduced by 50% as I'd hoped and semi-predicted (exactly as with Mayle). While some pieces appeared to have sold, likely even last night, the dress I wanted was there and for $132, was mine. I tried on the Michelle Williams dress and its ikat-esque print counterpart but neither worked--I was hoping that one may be cut an inch or two wider in the back but no such luck. It did look amazing on Caroline. So we each got our dresses and are both looking forward to the next Suno sale.

Here's my dress--I got the blue/purple/yellow/green colorway which is even prettier. It drapes so well and is incredibly comfortable.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


The semester is over (at least I'm done with the teaching part) but the insane work load has yet to abate. I just sent my book off to the publisher (at least I hope this is the press that will publish the work). I spent the day doing a quick proof read, catching a few typos, making a few changes, adding a paragraph and realizing that the final chapter really could do with another rewrite. At this point, though, time is of the essence and that rewrite is going to have to wait.

At least I can say the book is in, until the next set of revisions are due.

My dear students (and I mean that sincerely for they are a great group) are all currently working hard and a few papers have come in early, so that's on my list of work I have to do tomorrow. I'm also going in for another office hour--an abridged one for sure, but I'll be there in case people need to touch base.

As for the summer, my plans are to finish the book proposal I started some time back and get that one into the press. I also have four articles that are nearly ready to go and want to get them into journals. Then there is the conference paper I give in Scotland in early July that I have to write--and maybe I'll do the full chapter if I can. I'd like to see two or three of the five chapters of book #2 completed by August. If I can do that, I'll be happy.


It's tough living in New York during sample sale season, especially when you have publicly made a vow of shopping chastity, like me, and splurged twice the week before. My resolve will be tested in the next few days with the Suno sample sale. I have decided on what might be a compromise--skip the first, crowded and likely most expensive day and pop in when it is less crowded. Any of the sample sale panic and collective hysteria will have likely abated and I can make measured decisions about whether or not any of the stock is worth the investment.

I have to say that I am getting some good use out of last week's purchases. I wore my Mayle clogs for three out of the last four days and even taught in them yesterday. They are not as pretty as some of my shoes, or, indeed, as pretty as some of Jane's earlier shoes and clogs, but they have something about them--and they are comfortable. I also wore my Thakoon navy blue dress on Sunday when we took Evan's mother out for Mother's Day in Long Island. Although I snagged it on a J. Crew bracelet (must never wear non-fine jewelry with that dress) I think the snag will be remedied. And the dress is divine and comfortable. As for the rest of my splurges, I wore the blue Ana Lou jacket on Saturday for dinner (with a striped J. Crew long sleeved t, jeans and the Coco clogs). Evan liked it and reversed his initial decision about it being an unnecessary addition to my wardrobe. Then Monday I wore the Lala blouse and realized it was pretty, not too frilly and worked well with my black Rag & Bone pants and the Coco clogs.

Friday, May 6, 2011


To save money. To only buy items that really add value to my closet. To stick to my wishlists. To avoid temptation.


So I was bad today. Very bad. Nothing like having to eat your own words publicly, but eat them I shall. Before I went to bed last night I received the email about the Mayle pop up's 50% reductions. That put the items I wanted squarely at the right price point. I discovered the store would open at 10 so I went in before class--sacrificing some sleep and admitting to my students when I arrived that the only reason I was five minutes late for class was because I was shopping. During the break, I shared my finds with some of the lovely students in my lovely class.

Because the trains (for once) were amazingly efficient, I got there at 9.45 taking me less than 35 minutes door to door, and chatted with Cindy and Monica on the phone before going in. It was pretty much empty (about five of us), so that was a huge contrast to the last big sample sale two years ago. A lot of stuff had sold--rompers, dresses, blouses, but the coats and jackets were well represented--as were belts. Clogs were plentiful in 39 and 40, there were a few 36 and 41s (good for Cindy and I) but the 37 and 38s had gone. A few bags were left, a couple of small rompers, leather shorts, but I noticed a fair amount had sold since Wednesday.

So, here's my stash, replete with approximate prices. Suffice to say, the only things I can get this summer are Didion sandals if I find them on sale and S2A wedges. I am now back on my vow of austerity. It lasted four weeks and I think it can last longer next time.

Coco clogs ($208 + tax)
Green suede/black leather JM bag ($245 + tax)
Lala blouse (ruffled with tie front in ivory pink signature pop up print) ($183 + tax)
Irini military coat in black ($288.50 + tax)
Ana Lou jacket in blue ($275.50 + tax)

Pictures to follow. I am feeling really guilty. Should I have got Ana Lou and Lala? Do I need another bag? Perhaps not but this was my final splurge and the last brand-addiction I promise I'll ever have.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thakoon redux

As I manage my third cold of the last four weeks (a combination of flying and Evan and I both being around sick students) and work on my last historiography lecture of the semester, I keep thinking of returning to the Thakoon sale. This might be a bad idea--I searched through the affordable pieces and found two gems. Am I so greedy that I can't leave it there? I can't really go until after 4 tomorrow as I have a class and an MA defense and today is similarly packed. I think that's the problem with good sales--especially with brands that are otherwise out of reach. You think about what you save, not what you have just spent, and you fantasize that other amazing pieces are there if you just look hard enough. Alternatively, you think about splurging a little more on those items that you abandoned just a day earlier as a little too expensive, recognizing them instead as investments.

Anyway, to give you an idea of why I am obsessing, here is a version of one of the dresses I got yesterday. Mine was in a different fabric--a more wearable and likely more expensive wool/silk crepe, not georgette and was mainline, not Thakoon Addition, but this cut is very similar. My dress is slightly higher at the neckline and a little more draped around the hips (but without adding bulk--instead it camouflages bumps and bulk, possibly because it has an extra ruffle). This is clearly one of the label's favorite and recurring designs, and one that is incredibly flattering.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thakoon Sample Sale

On my way to a couple of defenses this afternoon, I hit the Thakoon sample sale, which was as stocked and quiet as's correspondent had reported. The staff were quiet and friendly as about five people browsed the large number of production samples which were all in good to immaculate shape. I tried on a few pieces (the samples seemed to run large) and snagged two dresses for a total of $250. It was my first big expenditure since very late March so I figured it was OK. I could have bought more pieces but settled on a muted fuschia wool-blend crepe dress with a bow-like detail and a navy draped crepe shift that made me look like a size 2. These dresses were beautifully cut--had I been a little smaller, I'd have ventured into some of the printed fabrics but most of them looked a little too small for me. I will take pictures and show off my finds--basically this was far better than Mayle where the dresses looked sad, dowdy, creased and cheap--and overpriced. I still liked the coats and jackets but again thought they were more expensive than they should have been. It was a cold, wet day and had the Ana Lou jacket and the military coat been a bit cheaper, I might have been tempted.

I highly recommend the Thakoon sale, however, especially if you are a size 2-4.

Mayle Pop-Up

The announcement of a third Mayle pop-up left me feeling underwhelmed. The previous two, quite honestly, were overpriced and the execution and design was lacking. That's not to say that there weren't some nice pieces. I love the Vera coat I bought from the second pop-up, and thought the coats were generally lovely and well made, but many of the dresses and blouses looked somewhat dated and the fabrics and manufacture were not what I'd expect from Mayle--or any other designer at that price point. Truthfully, they were more the level of Zara or Urban Outfitters--many dresses had no linings, the patterned silks tended to be thin, and the finishing and details weren't there.

I understand why the quality of the dresses/blouses was compromised--Jane was clearly producing in such limited numbers that there was no way she could maintain previous quality and have them be affordable. But therein lies the rub--if she wants to design, she should do so, but do it properly. There's a recession and few people wants to, or can, spend $500+ on a dress that isn't as well made or designed. It's clear that she wants to avoid the fashion cycle, and that I respect, but at the same time, her customers want something more--dare I say, better--than the pop-ups have offered.

Another peeve is the still high prices for Fall merchandise--pieces that have been available online for months. A few coats are 40-50% off, but this is too small a reduction given that it's May and that means Fall 2012 coats will be shipping in two or three months. I know there is a small coterie of customers who buy immediately, who have very deep pockets (like the celebrities that follow Jane), but once these people have purchased their pop up pieces, the rest of us are Jane's customers. If it hasn't sold, it won't sell at that price point.

All this reminds me of the ebay sellers who just continually relist items for months at the same (too high) prices without getting that the lack of customers means that their prices are way too high. If it hasn't sold by now, it won't at that price--and maybe it won't sell at all. I know people want to get a return from their investments, but sometimes, the market speaks and it does so loudly. If you want to sell, you have to price at the right level.

Now, it may just be that Jane will issue further reductions--I may also be completely wrong and everything might very well sell out at these prices. But my gut tells me (as does the silence online and the reports from the none-too-crowded pop-ups first day) that these prices are still too high--20% reductions on fall merchandise won't make people change their minds and spend--particularly as we all sense yet another pop-up will inevitably happen soon, that this one could run longer and the clothing will still be available, long after its initial charms faded, still waiting for customers who may very well have moved on and away from a brand whose new incarnation as a pop-up may have sullied its image.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

J Crew, Fall 2011

After chatting to Cindy, I revisited the images for J Crew's fall collection while taking a quick break from some course prep. When these came out some weeks ago, I decided I needed at least two of the structured bags and would do something rare--pay full price. I also thought some of the separates and one dress were really nice and hoped that J. Crew wouldn't do the usual and wuss out, making the items fit more of a middle American point of view and lose any of the directional edge that some of them displayed below. Here, then, are some of the pieces that I'm coveting and hoping to acquire this fall (I hate thinking this far ahead as I love the spring and summer).

This is a definite covet. I hope the dress isn't made shorter and that the fabric isn't scratchy (I also hope it comes in this lovely red and isn't a prohibitively expensive collection piece). I love the sleeves (I'm really into sleeves in dresses) and the whole 1960s vibe. This is a must have.

The purple pants intrigue me here--and I quite like the sweater. This may be a maybe, however, as I have large thighs (muscles that can never be dieted away) and thus pants aren't always my friend. Love the purple, however, and will look for one of their cashmere cardigans in this hue.

I like the styling here (I think I can use my Belda trench this way)--and the leggings really speak to me. Again, if they don't make my thighs look a mile wide, I'd seriously consider investing in them.

This bag--in another color--is a must.

And I am partial to this bag and these pants too. I'm eager to see more of these structured bags and to have one over my arm. The bag and the red dress could even be combined--and the leggings added to produce a more casual and artsy feel. These items make it easy to resist the siren call of the still over-priced Mayle pop up later this week.