Beat the Heat—Styling Thoughts

Fourth of July, from the rooftop, waiting for fireworks . . .

Fourth of July, from the rooftop, waiting for fireworks . . .

Looking south toward downtown

Looking south toward downtown

4th of July ensemble: Zara lace top, Ines de la Fressange x Uniqlo navy pants with red drawstring, and red Castaner espadrilles

4th of July ensemble: Zara lace top, Ines de la Fressange x Uniqlo navy pants with red drawstring, J Crew straw bag, and red Castaner espadrilles

Close up of the Zara top

Close up of the Zara top

It is starting to be HOT out there, people.

I do very poorly in hot weather.  I grow overheated in temperatures as low as 76F, so when the temperature dial hits mid to upper 80s—or, gasp, the 90s—ouch.

Last summer after arriving in NYC, I quickly realized my summer wardrobe wasn’t working.  Striped St. James cotton t-shirts, skinnies jeans, and white Anne Fontaine tops might work well enough in Oklahoma when using air-conditioning 24/7 and never walking anywhere, but it didn’t work in NYC.  New York is sticky hot, too, which means you really don’t want much hitting the skin.  Since I was realizing this only late in the season, there was nothing to do but promise to fix the problem come this summer.

My solution: lace and eyelet tops + espadrilles.

And another Zara top!  I love these lace things . . . nothing is better in the summer.

And another Zara top! I love these lace things . . . nothing is better in the summer.

Ines de la Fressange pinstriped black pants + Zadig et Voltaire eyelet top + Lalique cuff and J Crew tote

Ines de la Fressange pinstriped black pants + Zadig et Voltaire eyelet top + Lalique cuff + Baccarat pendant + J Crew tote

That combo worked so well, I wore it AGAIN two days later. :)

That combo worked so well, I wore it AGAIN. :)  I added a fancy Lalique necklace and K St. Jacques gold sandals

Ever since the H&M Consciousness Exclusive collection, I’ve been adding lace top to my wardrobe as the summer solution.  First came the Zadig et Voltaire sample sale eyelet finds, one sleeveless and one cap-sleeved; I wear them every week.  Then came the start of the Zara sale, at which I grabbed a few lace-y tops.  Fast forward a week and a half, and I went back and grabbed more.

The Zara lace tops from this seasons sale

The Zara lace tops from this seasons sale

The Zadig et Voltaire eyelet top + Ann Taylor eyelet skirt

The Zadig et Voltaire eyelet top + Ann Taylor eyelet skirt

Why get so many?  Because add a little Cosabella bandeau bra, et voilà!  Instant cool comfort.  As in, the most fabulous hot and humid summer solution.  Yes, I’m showing skin . . . but once the humid heat hits, no one cares.

But if finding hot-weather tops was imperative this summer, finding hot-weather shoes was even more so.  My feet were in pain last summer.  Everything chaffed.  Everything tore up my feet.  I began to worry my feet could no longer stand up to city walking—when city walking is the activity I love best.  Then about two months or so ago, I tried something completely new: espadrilles.  Specifically: the cheap, cheap ones from J Crew.

My summer shoes: J Crew espadrilles, J Crew ballerinas,  K St Jacques sandals, Freed's of London ballerinas, and Castaner espadrilles wedges

My summer shoes: J Crew espadrilles, J Crew ballerinas, K St Jacques sandals, Freed’s of London ballerinas, and Castaner espadrilles wedges

I just get happy looking at this sunny collection

I just get happy looking at this sunny collection.  My feet are even happier.

The espadrilles are heavenly . . . the ballerinas still need a bit of breaking in.

The espadrilles are heavenly . . . the J Crew ballerinas still need a bit of breaking in.

I promised myself I would spare no expense to find comfortable summer shoes this year.  Little did I know to go cheap would be the best solution.  Aside from divinely soft Freed’s of London red ballerinas, my foot saviors have been the cheap as chips cotton espadrilles constantly on sale at J Crew.  The K St. Jacques sandals are also quite, quite comfortable on the stickiest of days, though my knees hurt like the dickens by the time I get home.  The Castaner wedges are good for short ventures, but I prefer flats anymore.

So—the summer heat solution seems to be: cheap as chips lace top + cheap as chips espadrilles.  What then about a bag?  Cheap as chips works there too:

J Crew woven basket tote

J Crew woven basket tote

A straw bucket bag is a classic summer staple, and this is a sturdy choice.  I can lug laptops (yes plural) and books to meetings, or a towel and pillow to the rooftop deck.  Occasionally J Crew offers a discount on them, so I encourage keeping a look-out.

 

What tips do you have for summer styling?

Posted in Daily Vestment, Vestiary

Holy Grails (Part One)—Jamdani

Hermès scarf catalogue Spring-Summer 2008, copyright Hermès

Hermès scarf catalogue Spring-Summer 2008, copyright Hermès

Hermès scarf catalogue Spring-Summer 2008, copyright Hermès—see the Jamdani stole on the right

Hermès scarf catalogue Spring-Summer 2008, copyright Hermès—see the Jamdani stole on the right

Hermès scarf catalogue Spring-Summer 2008, copyright Hermès—closeup of the stole

Hermès scarf catalogue Spring-Summer 2008, copyright Hermès—closeup of the stole

Hermès scarf catalogue Spring-Summer 2008, copyright Hermès—another spread in the same catalogue

Hermès scarf catalogue Spring-Summer 2008, copyright Hermès—another spread in the same catalogue

Hermès scarf catalogue Spring-Summer 2008, copyright Hermès—a beautiful warm toned stole with what looks like orange embroidery

Hermès scarf catalogue Spring-Summer 2008, copyright Hermès—a beautiful warm toned stole with what looks like orange embroidery

Hermès scarf catalogue Spring-Summer 2008, copyright Hermès—the beautiful model

Hermès scarf catalogue Spring-Summer 2008, copyright Hermès—the beautiful model

 

Holy Grails—aka the elusive pieces that taunt our dreams, spawn our nightmares, and when found, are pure magic.

Also known as: unicorns.

It would be hard to be interested in Hermès without soon developing a set of the holy grails.  Mine started quickly.  The first was the raspberry color of Jeu des Omnibus, which was displayed in Madison in April 2008 but all sold out when I asked.  I stalked the resale sights and bided my time until, finally, one appeared when I was able to purchase it.  It remains one of my favorite pieces, and just looking at it brings me joy.

The raspberry Jeu des Omnibus, however, was an easy sort of grail; given enough time, one was bound to come up.  Often this sort of easy grail comes attached to a higher-than-retail cost, but so be it.  You pay or you don’t—and in the meantime, you keep your eyes open for grails in the making as the new season’s pieces start appearing.  You don’t want to miss out yet again . . .

But this post is about the most exceptional of grails—i.e., the ones you don’t dare breathe a word about for fear of jinxing.

I have several of these exceptional grails, and I try not to think about them.  They don’t appear often, and sometimes never.  I sense that these are traded around on the private yahoo sites, much like how I try to pass along pieces to collectors at tPF or even here at AA.  And so I try to keep my list small.  Maybe a handful of desires, no more—and I promise never to quibble about details like price.  I either want it or not, can either have it or not.

Jamdani stole by Hermès in Ivoire/Brun . . . never worn

Jamdani stole by Hermès in Ivoire/Brun . . . never worn

Jamdani stole by Hermès — the information booklet

Jamdani stole by Hermès — the information booklet

Jamdani stole by Hermès — the story of the weaving process

Jamdani stole by Hermès — the story of the weaving process

One of these exceptional grails appeared a few weeks ago—a stole.  Really, a classic duputta.  This scarf was one of the unusual offerings during the Year of India, and while it was mentioned a handful of times on tPF, pictures do not survive.  The scarf book featured it twice, and the arrow struck me when I saw it back in 2008.  The Jamdani Stole of the finest cotton and silk mousseline.

I nearly wept when I saw it, not least of which because I didn’t live near a boutique (I was in central Iowa at the time), nor could I have afforded it.  Jamdani was one of the few weaving technique that escaped my research during the year in India.  I saw some examples that were wildly out of my price range, but I did not go deep enough into Bengal to find a craftsman from whom I could acquire a piece.  This is one of those techniques that haunted me for a long, long time—a whole decade by the time Hermès brought out this piece.  It was exceedingly rare and exceedingly refined.  The look is often simple, but that’s deceptive—the skill needed to weave in by hand these extra threads without the surrounding thread structure changing is so high I simply cannot fathom it.  Jamdani is a textile for the aristocracy.  It has been defined by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The Jamdani stole spread out . . . it sits on a treasured Rajasthani block-printed cotton muslin blanket also from India (the last of four I've used for over a decade)

The Jamdani stole spread out . . . it sits on a treasured Rajasthani block-printed cotton muslin blanket also from India (the last of four I’ve used for well over a decade)

This stole is a piece I never thought I would find.  I barely even breathed my wish all those years ago, so impossible it seemed to acquire.  I believe it comes in the warm peach-ish/gold color way, the ivory that I have, and a blue.  There might be more.  To say I dream of having all three . . . is an understatment.

Jamdani stole by Hermès—detail

Jamdani stole by Hermès—detail

Jamdani stole by Hermès—detail

Jamdani stole by Hermès—detail

When this suddenly appeared on the well-known pre-owned site, my entire body were numb.  I didn’t believe it—like, really didn’t believe it.  I dug into a crawl space for my stack of scarf catalogues and start flipping.  Yep.  There it was, in the back of Spring-Summer 2008.  The exact same stole stared at me from the listing.  I still couldn’t believe it.  I breathed, then breathed some more.  Finally I clicked.  Quickly I paid.  It arrived today, a couple weeks later.

Slipping the Jamdani on . . .

Slipping the Jamdani on . . .

This stole might be one of the least ornate scarves I own, whether compared to my Hermès or my Indian textile collection.  I have nothing like it—because I don’t have another piece of Jamdani.  This is one of the larger stoles Hermès produces, so it is quite overwhelming.  The dimensions make it a true duputta, which is traditionally worn with the center covering the front of the body and the ends hanging over the shoulders and down the back.  The duputta is also worn as a head covering, especially in the glaring light of the desert, a protection I often availed myself of when exploring Gujarati and Rajasthani tribal areas.  I imagine it was made this size because of the looms used to weave them.

To speak of this piece’s preciousness to me . . . exceeds my skills with language.  I thank the fairies who made my wish come true.

The oddest thing is how this piece is part of a moment in my collecting.  Over the past few weeks, several key scarves have found their way to me.  And this is in advance of a highly anticipated scarf season at Hermès.  My scarf coffers are exploding with treasures.  This is the first—and most definitely the most precious.

Stay tuned for more . . .

Clapping wildly.

Posted in Hermès, Scarves

Le Koons

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Call me a good ole Kentucky gal, but when I hear “Koons” I can’t help but think hunting.  Ya know, like hunting koon, as in raccoon.  Yes.  I am from that sort of Kentucky environ.  Think coon tails on hats, camo, demolition truck rallies, rifles, etc.  Heck, when I was a cheerleader in high school, our coaches sent us wearing those super-short uniforms to a car race track to work selling programs.  I may herald from the “big city” down in those parts, but the school was at the edge of that big city.

One thing hasn’t changed from Kentucky to the New York City—people like hunting Koons as much as they do coons.  I’m talking Jeff Koons, one of the most famous (deliberately on his part) artists of our time and subject of the Whitney’s latest retrospective (and last grand exhibition at their historic building).  You can’t turn around, even at a bar while watching soccer, without someone sharing their abhorrence of Koons.  It’s a city-wide passion, which is rather interesting, or not, and likely in equal measure.  And it all underscores why Koons warrants a big show; him and his work really are important.

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Me, at the retrospective, Barenia Pico in tow

Me, at the retrospective, Barenia Pico in tow

Last week, I went to one of the evening preview parties.  It was quite the scene.  It seems the VIP night (that wasn’t my night) was really something—to the point the museum roped off parts of the exhibition so as to avoid further physical affronts to the work.  (People really will do anything for selfies + art.)  But on my night, people were plain just having fun, and that’s a super fantastic thing to see in an environment that often fosters a chillier attitude.  I loved it.

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014 (Don't you love the jumpsuit? It's an ageless look!)

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014 (Don’t you love the jumpsuit? It’s an ageless look!)

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Jeff Koons, preview night for his retrospective at the Whitney Museum, 2014

Jeff Koons isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  I’m fine with him; always have been.  I never (ever) felt some burning desire to write a paper on him, or even to reference him in my PhD comprehensive exams, but I feel happy there’s a Koons in the world making exactly this sort of art.  I’ve read reviews comparing his public work to the work of Kara Walker (the Subtley, post here), and well . . . of course I prefer Walker.  Of course.  But it’s like comparing apples to oranges.  They’re both fruit, but what a difference.  I’ll take both in my picnic basket, s’il vous plâit.

But let’s forget the art for a second!  What does one wear to a Koons opening?

 

Zara blue lace camisole, Carven blue and green lace skirt,

Zara blue lace camisole, Carven blue and green lace skirt, Baccarat crystal necklace, and (at least for this photo) JCrew ballerinas.

I'm loving texture this summer . . . and Zara has it in buckets

I’m loving texture this summer . . . and Zara has it in buckets

Carven's skirt feels like a dream against the skin

Carven’s skirt feels like a dream against the skin.

The bright red circle skirt, plus matching lace top, weren’t the only things I found in Zara come sale time.  I found more lace.  This top is one of my favorite favorite pieces now hanging in the closet.  It’s light as a feather, and with all the heat and humidity passing through NYC, I favor putting as little over my skin as possible.  The color is just a little bit electric, so it goes with a wide range of blue clothing while also adding a little punch.  The top has recently been reduced even further, so I suggest checking it out . . .

The pièce de la résistance, however, is the skirt.  Oh yes.  The skirt.  Carven really is my oh-la-la label, and maybe that’s because their skirts seem designed for my figure.  Carven is rather expensive, so I always wait for sales season; indeed, I generally wait for the second or third mark-down before falling in love with something.  This skirt was hanging by its lonesome in Barney’s, and I couldn’t believe my luck.  It was in my size!  My luck only increased upon discovering the blue of the skirt matches the blue of the Zara top.  I couldn’t have planned it better.

That the Baccarat golden scarab gleams with both lime and blue is the icing on the cake.

So I was gleaming a bit loudly myself—with all that electric blue, electric lime, and Baccarat scarab—when wandering the rooms of colossal colored steel sculptures.  Being surrounded by all that gleaming metal made me exceptionally happy for those couple of hours.  So much so, I went back to the museum for a special lecture by the curator of the retrospective.

Art days are good days.  Art nights are even better.

I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July!

Any special plans this month?

Posted in Daily Vestment, New York, The Arts

Picnic Attire, with Macarons, Linden Trees, and Views (Part Two)

Walking through Dan Graham's Rooftop commission at the Met

Walking through Dan Graham’s Rooftop commission at the Met

Was that incredible day wandering through so much of New York City really a week and a half ago?  Time is truly rushing by . . .

Continuing on from the last post, that Sunday afternoon was stuffed with delights, including the sweet kind, thanks to Ladurée.  And then we put our feet to the pavement and walked through Midtown, then back up, and finally over to a wholly new spot: Roosevelt Island . . .

One of the famous lions at the NY Public Library

One of the famous lions at the NY Public Library

Inside the grand NY Public Library across from the Rose Reading Room

Inside the grand NY Public Library across from the Rose Reading Room

I would love to walk up these stairs every day . . .

I would love to walk up these stairs every day . . .

Bryant Park, situated just behind the Public Library

Bryant Park, situated just behind the Public Library

The reading-only area of Bryant Park—here's the place to go with your books!

The reading-only area of Bryant Park—here’s the place to go with your books!

Just north of the library—the Algonquin, a literary institution

Just north of the library—the Algonquin, a literary institution

A beautiful building just north of the UN

A beautiful building just north of the UN

Queensboro bridge, looking east

Queensboro bridge, looking east

I'm on the Roosevelt Island Tram!  And I'm terrified of heights!

I’m on the Roosevelt Island Tram! And I’m terrified of heights!

Entering the Roosevelt Memorial at the end of Roosevelt Island (situated in the East River in between Queens and Manhattan)

Entering the Roosevelt Memorial at the end of Roosevelt Island (situated in the East River in between Queens and Manhattan)

The long lawn stretching to the memorial . . . so few people around even on a gorgeous summer day

The long lawn stretching to the memorial . . . so few people around even on a gorgeous summer day

The linden trees . . . the smells is heavenly  . . .

The linden trees . . . the smell is heavenly . . .

The odd thing about wandering Midtown East on a Sunday is how crazy quiet it can be.  Even relaxing, which is not the normal descriptive for a New York City stroll.  I was also delighted to learn that the eastern edge of Manhattan hosts a number of delightful neighborhood parks along the East River, providing a little piece of heaven for the residents.  This had a quaint feel, as if I were far away from the city and meandering through a New England town instead.

The big treat was finally taking the Tram over to Roosevelt Island.  The island is prominently visible from our building rooftop, but it’s taken nearly a year for me to grab the sky-taxi over.  You see, I’m terrified of heights.  Terrified.  My stomach was doing all kinds of flips—but as soon as we got off, my nose was greeted by a favorite scent: the fragrance of linden blossoms.  The south side of the island is covered with linden trees, and that made my day . . .

Under the Lindens . . .

Under the Lindens . . .

After Roosevelt Island, we stopped in for a beer—and promptly found ourselves with front seats to the US-Portugal World Cup soccer game.  What a thrill!  Several beers and chips later (the body groans . . .), we stumbled out on to the street with one last destination.

Bergdorf Goodman.

The windows entranced me earlier that day, so I went back as daylight faded to capture them all aglow.  The perfect ending to a glorious day and evening . . .

Bergdorf Goodman, June 2014

Bergdorf Goodman, June 2014

Bergdorf Goodman, June 2014

Bergdorf Goodman, June 2014

Bergdorf Goodman, June 2014

Bergdorf Goodman, June 2014

Bergdorf Goodman, June 2014

Bergdorf Goodman, June 2014

Bergdorf Goodman, June 2014

Bergdorf Goodman, June 2014

Bergdorf Goodman, June 2014

Bergdorf Goodman, June 2014

Bergdorf Goodman, June 2014

Bergdorf Goodman, June 2014

I hope you’re planning something incredible for Fourth of July coming up!  We’re staying in—it seems that the fireworks will be right in front of the rooftop garden.  Can’t wait!

Bergdorf Goodman, June 2014

Bergdorf Goodman, June 2014

Posted in Daily Vestment, New York

Picnic Attire, with Macarons, Linden Trees, and Views (Part One)

Dressing for a gorgeous Sunday out . . .

Dressing for a gorgeous Sunday out . . .

Collette Dinnigan embroidered skirt, Zara lacey blouse, Hermès Market bag and mousseline scarf, and Lalique cuff

Collette Dinnigan embroidered skirt, Zara lacey blouse, Hermès Market bag and mousseline scarf, and Lalique cuff

Conservatory Waters, Central Park

Conservatory Waters, Central Park

The past week concluded two over-scheduled months for work.  It’s Saturday, and I’m crashing.

It’s going to be a while to process what all happened over the past two months.  I feel like I’ve lifted my head onto to discover the green in the world.  When did summer appear?  I realize I stepped out for morning walks and took little breaks for pictures and shopping, but I’m not sure I took it in.  Much was fabulous about the work.  Projects I enjoyed spending morning, day and night on; an array of new authors with whom to work; even the final stages of a favorite project coming to fruition in the world after several years.  One black cloud popped up right at the end, of course, the parting of ways of me and a long-time client, though  it’s coming for a few months; after the author’s lack of success through several projects and agents, it might be time to throw a lot of things up in the air.

My summer through mid-September is already scheduled regarding work, which means there will be over-scheduled weeks to come certainly—but I’m hoping to carve out more time just for me.  My thoughts.  My dreaming.  Just whatever captivates.  There’s something exceptionally nice about being chased and desired professionally, about being useful in the world, in knowing you did a more than a solid hard day’s work.  Heck, that’s called the American gene.  But maybe it’s time for some laziness.  I would like to nest with color and landscapes and green.

But that’s not all.  How about views

Looking out over Central Park from the Met rooftop

Looking out over Central Park from the Met rooftop

Rooftop exhibition at the Met

Rooftop exhibition at the Met

… and gorgeous art

Turner

Turner

Bonnard

Vuillard

Klimt

Klimt

Ensor

Ensor

… and strolls through sculpture galleries as the sun shines through

The sculpture gallery of the Met

The sculpture gallery of the Met

Met Lobby

Met Lobby

… and best of all: French treats by the pond in Central Park.

Laduree treats: Rose and Peach Macaron plus a Palmier.  YUM.

Laduree treats: Rose and Peach Macaron plus a Palmier. YUM.

Conservatory Waters, Central Park

Conservatory Waters, Central Park

More in Part II . . .

I hope you’ve been having a beautiful time as Summer starts in.  How’s been the weather, the events, the sales?

Posted in Bags, New York, Vestiary