Labor Day & Buckets of Bags

Two Picos: Natural Barenia Picotin MM (22cm) and Ebene Barenia with Caramel Chèvre Handles Picotin PM (18cm)

Two Picos: Natural Barenia Picotin MM (22cm) and Ebene Barenia with Caramel Chèvre Handles Picotin PM (18cm)

The two Picos with my other ardently loved bucket bag, the Market

The two Picos with my other ardently loved bucket bag, the Market

The three up close

The three up close

Happy Labor Day Weekend, people!

My own Labor Day Weekend is compromising much of said labor.  Sigh.  Still, I’m hoping that all of you are planning fetes galore.  If so—share the fun with me!  Do tell, what are your upcoming fun activities?

For those of you outside the US, allow me to share how Labor Day comes with a whole host of impressions and expectations.  While the turn of the season is officially a few weeks hence, Labor Day is America’s way of celebrating the transition from summer to autumn.  Indian Summers begin as children and college/grad students accumulate their school things, from pencils to new jeans.  Everyone starts to lust after preppy styling, from loafers to sweater sets.  In the mornings come the whiff of autumn’s coolness, though days heat up quickly still.  For many of us, this is the season of renewal.  We come to our lives with renewed focus, an ambitious autumn season on the horizon—with ambition understood loosely on occasion.  For me, autumn ambition for 2014 involves understanding the wonder of the espresso drink and machine.  I’m seeing a new passion in the future.  Plus, I need the caffeine.

The return to school has always involved the free-wheeling bucket bag for me.  I see no reason to change now that I’m an adult.  Autumn 2014 brings an overwhelming amount of opportunities to have coffee, drinks, and late lunches with clients and with new acquaintances.  Due to first steps into official “networking,” new adventures and relationships await.

I’m thinking these bucket bags will make the perfect arm candy for said adventures.  Yes?

Hope you’re off having fun!

Posted in Bags, Hermès


The view south to the new World Trade Center from the Empire State Building

The view south to the new World Trade Center from the Empire State Building

Hey, all!  Life is so incredible busy (and stressful) right now.  Talk about the effort to hold it all together!

But I’ve got a request from a friend.  Does anyone in the New York City area know of a modest room for rent for a young professional?

Thanks so much!

Back to work!

Posted in New York

Hermès Resource: The Silk Square

The Silk Square—a new resource for scarf lovers

The Silk Square—a new resource for scarf lovers

Even on a heavy work day, there are few things in life more fun than choosing which beautiful scarf to pull out of my boxes.  This morning it was the Mythiques Phoenix pareo in bleu nuit as I headed up to the roof deck to read for work.  The light cotton kept the wind from overly cooling my arms while not warming me over much.  Cotton and cotton/silk scarves are this summer’s discovery for me—I’m now wearing scarves far more regularly no matter the temps, as Hermès’s linen-light cotton/silk scarves feel ultra cool against the neck.

Thank you very much, each of you, for sharing in my delight as the scarf treasures mount over the past few months.  If last year was about editing the scarf drawers, then this year is about refilling them in a more strategic, even more delightful way.  I used the time in between to identify which sizes, materials, and formats felt most natural to my way of life—and most importantly, used the development of the wardrobe to figure out what colors were needed.  Maybe that’s why a slew of perfect pieces found their way to me: I was ready.  And, really, this may have been more fun than anything sartorial I’ve done in a long, long time.  I am so happy when I have a new scarf to play with.  This feeling started back when I was 20, visiting France and Paris for the first time, and only escalated during my year in India.

As I’ve been sharing my scarf finds this past month or two, however, a few of you have dropped questions and concerns in the comments.  I thought I’d address two today.  The first is where to find them—because too many horror stories about.

If that’s been plaguing you, huddle up.  I have a new resource to share.

One of the sad, sad events of the summer was Nancy’s closing up of, one of the best resources for Hermès collectors of bags, scarves, and jewelry.  Her prices were fair to collectors, rather than over the top, and she dealt exclusively with Hermès.  The loss of her store created a huge hole in the Hermès collecting world.

I’ve been waiting ever since for someone to step up and provide a similar resource.  It’s finally happened.  Allow me to turn your attention to THE SILK SQUARE, a new online resource for collectors of Hermès scarves.

The Silk Square is run by one of my favorite persons, the dear Glamazon who’s accompanied me on many dangerous (to the wallet) missions to H.  An avid collector of Hermès scarves and vintage bags, she’s well established on the Hermès sub forum of the Purse Forum, and she’s keyed into a large network of fabulous collectors herself.  When Kaleidoplace went dark, my friend lit up with an idea: To debut a scarf-centered site where collectors could re-home, purchase, and even perhaps swap (that latter bit is still under development) their silken treasures at fair prices.

Having just opened, the site features a careful selection of pieces, most of them acquired by her from the recent Paris H sale this summer.  I have also given her two of my own scarves that just weren’t clicking with my wardrobe—a blue/green cotton/silk Les Cles 140cm and a blue/green Jeu des Omnibus et Dames Blanches 70cm.  Not only would I not hesitate to purchase from her, I trust her completely as a consigner.

Do go take a look at the treasures she has available.  The Silk Square also is offering a special discount code for readers of Aesthetic Alterations: use AAFRIENDS for 10% off through September 15.


And what’s the second topic to come up in comments recently?  The most challenging subject of collecting: When to let go?

As you realize, I regularly release pieces I’ve acquired .  I don’t go into a purchase thinking that’s going to happen, but sometimes it just doesn’t work.  The colors are usually why—like the two blue/green scarves now at The Silk Square.  They are the same color palettes—and I can’t easily incorporate that particular blue.  In general, I do not regret my choice to let something go, but I have a thought process before I decide.

1. Do I have to?  I’ll be upfront: If I could afford to keep all my Hermès even as I buy new pieces, I would.  No questions asked; I would never sell a single piece.

2. What piece would I ideally find for its place in my wardrobe?  If I let go of something Hermès, I replace it with something Hermès.  I identify what scarf format, size, color, or design would work better, then start to hunt.

3. But what if I’ve just lost the love of Hermès?  No, don’t worry—this isn’t me; I wouldn’t think such a thing.  But I know women who have/do, as well as women who worry philosophically about owning such expensive things.  Because this isn’t me, I would offer more general advice: If you have children or nieces or sisters (and don’t have to sell them for financial reasons), keep them for gifting now or later.  These are heirlooms.  Or, have them cleaned and pack them up to slip in a dark place, because in five or ten years, you may be inspired to wear them again.  Last, if you want to sell off your collection without knowing the reason why, then maybe it’s time to identify the thing you want to do or the the thing you want to collect.  I didn’t have an Hermès collection before taking up photography, but if I had had one, I would have sold it to purchase my stunning Hasselblad 203FE and equally stunning Mamiya 7.  Photography would have been worth releasing a collection.  As it happened, I just had to work my ass off.

I hope those thoughts help those of you debating the fork in the road ahead . . .

Where are you in the activity of collecting?

Posted in Hermès, Scarves


Croissants from Bel Ami off Madison Ave.

Croissants from Bel Ami off Madison Ave.

There’s something about working through the weekend that stirs up the must indulge attitude.

My indulgence?  An almond croissant AND a chocolate croissant.  I couldn’t make up my mind—so I took both.  :)

Which would you choose?  Are you an almond or a chocolate person?

Posted in Dining Out, Taste

One Jamdani, Two

If one Hermès Jamdani stole is fabulous, two is even more so...

If one Hermès Jamdani stole is fabulous, two is even more so…

This summer has seen an explosion of goodness in my scarf drawer as you’ve all noticed.  It wasn’t planned.  For a long time, I’ve been focused on editing down the scarf selection to my best, as well as on building a bag wardrobe.  The closely guarded secret—that of course I’ll share with you—is that many, if not most, of these Hermès bags cost less than a boutique-sourced Hermès shawl.  Yes, it’s true.  As a result, scarves can seem frighteningly expensive in comparison—which they are.  Expensive, I mean.  Absolutely.

So upon diving into this scarf fervor, I made sure to know what I want.  Part of that has been listening to what I need (sartorially, not existentially—I’m no minimalist) in the process of getting dressed.  Since late spring, this has been light-colored scarves.  Things to go with white, ivory, cream, and blush pink/peach.  That’s what motivated the first rush of scarves arriving in the mailbox, from the yellow Au Fil de la Soie to the Rosée shawl to the handwoven Jamdani.

I’ve loved having such light-colored pieces.  They get used often because so easy to grab, stuff in a bag, or drape around the shoulders while also feeling very fresh and summery.

Ivory and gold next to ivory and brown

Ivory and gold next to ivory and brown

The golden Jamdani stole shimmers in the light

The golden Jamdani stole shimmers in the light

So when the opportunity arose to acquire a second Jamdani, I didn’t hesitate, even though it is very similar to the firs.  Rather than weaving the jamdani motifs in brown, this second weaves them in with golden threads.  I find the difference striking despite the closeness of the two.  The gold is dressier, more refined; the brown feels more solidly connected to the fingers that hand-wove it and the earth cleaned by monsoon rains.

Do you wear pale shawls and scarves in the summer?

Posted in Hermès, Scarves