Sunday, June 15, 2014

Where it all began: A tribute to “Fashion is Spinach” (the book)


If you’ve not yet read the long-overdue piece on Elizabeth Hawes and her first book (and my blog namesake), “Fashion is Spinach,” you must you must you must. (Click here.) It’s titled “The Most Brilliant American Fashion Designer” — and we’re a little bit proud and very happy that Miss Hawes is finally getting her due. It made me reflect on my own history with the book (and this blog), which I’ve written about below. Enjoy.


Sometime on October 16, 2005, I came across a brief reference to "Fashion in Spinach" and pioneering American designer Elizabeth Hawes in one of the umpteenth fashion/lifestyle magazines I devotedly consumed (and still do) every month. It was a sly, insider-y reference -- clearly a wink-wink nudge-nudge to the small cadre of readers who truly loved fashion enough to know the reference, and while the exact source escapes me, I know it was October 16, 2005, because within minutes I had gone online and purchased the domain name, which I still own and to which proved to help be responsible for my own sense of style, many recognitions and my current career.

I had no idea what Fashion is Spinach meant or what Hawes' views were on fashion back in late 2005 -- it would be another few months after I bought the URL to finally buy an old, rare copy of the book, I think on eBay, for the relatively "bargain" price of about $50 -- but I instantly loved the quirky irreverence of the name. I had been toying with the idea of launching a fashion blog for months, but -- even through there were, compared to today, only a small number of them -- every "fashiony" URL I'd tried to obtain already been snatched up, though mainly by "squatters," who had quickly figured out that grabbing hundreds of domain names on the cheap could eventually pay off big-time if someone was willing to pay them for even just one of those .com names.

I myself had been blogging since 2000 on a platform called Pitas.com, which had launched in July 1999, one month before Blogger.com. (Unlike Blogger, it was not the beneficiary of a big, newsworthy acquisition by Google in 2003 for a still-undisclosed sum, though it's rumored to have been around a cool $1M. Which was probably insanely amazing back then, but a good indication of how far we've come in only a decade.) Back then, many of us "bloggers" were seen more as web-obsessed weirdos than “visionary early adopters" or anything remotely positive. I mainly posted little tidbits about concerts I'd seen or or things I’d purchased and, eventually, photos I took with the Brand New, State-of-the-Art 2-megapixel Canon digital camera that I splurged on in late 2002.

(In one now-hilarious incident, my blog got me called onto the carpet in Glenda Bailey's office at Harper's Bazaar, where I'd joined as a junior editor in fall 2001 shortly after she took over as EIC. Some back-stabbing colleague had found out I had a blog -- bring my readership to a whopping total of five, no doubt -- and promptly tattled to senior management, prompting the petrifying news that "Glenda had asked to see me." My intense fear quickly turned to awkwardness when it became clear that while the magazine’s senior leaders wanted to make sure this "blog" thing wasn't potentially problematic for the mag, none of them actually really knew what a blog WAS. Glenda, always incredibly kind, merely issued a gentle caution -- nothing like the reprimand, or worse, I'd walked in expecting. Likely the fact that I was bawling my eyes out softened any potential scolding.

Rather coincidentally, one of the interns who worked under me at the time, Nadine Haobsh, gained instant fame -- and a very nice book deal -- a few years later in mid-2005, when she was outed for penning an anonymous blog about being a NYC beauty editor and promptly fired. The insta-fame that followed or Nadine could’ve been for me! Except that in 2001, no one would have even known or cared. Except, of course, my five loyal readers. Hi, mom!)

But I digress. I launched FashionisSpinach.com -- with full attribution to Hawes -- in March 2006, and for several years, was devoted to it furiously. I was picked for some of the earliest fashion brand/blog integrations -- brands like Chanel and Gucci sticking a stiletto-shod toe into the blogger waters -- and eventually parlayed that experience into a new career in social media consulting, which I still do today. Ironically, that skyrocketing new career meant I no longer had ample time to spend on the blog, and while it's still there, it's been severely neglected for a long time. Unlike many of my early blogging peers, I can't bring myself to officially retire it.

There's still a tiny flicker of hope that one day, I'll regain both the time and the energy to resurrect it. I reread Fashion is Spinach every couple of years -- along with a few of Hawes' other terrific books -- and I'm always struck by the timelessness of her words and wisdom. She had the (still) rare vision to see that being truly fashionable was not about being the first to wear the latest trends, or blowing huge amounts of money to fill a standard McMansion walk-in closet with designer labels.

Instead, she counseled her clients to hone their personal style, find styles and silhouettes that worked for their bodies and their lifestyle and -- goshdammit -- wear navy blue if they wanted to wear navy blue, even if the almighty Parisian designers/demi-gods had declared the hue to be utterly, hopelessly out of style that season. (Because, for no particular reason, it had been determined that red was the only color stylish people should even think about wearing that season. Ohmygosh, you still like navy? Sacre bleu! A total fashion non.)

For decades after Hawes' day, her fresh perspectives on personal style were all but ignored. Typical American shoppers followed the proverbial style crowd like sheep; growing up in Delaware, I knew from a young age that you were nobody unless you had a little polo player embroidered onto your shirt or a pair of jeans from the Gap.

But now, the democratization of fashion -- sparked, in large part, by a long list of blogs (including a little help from even from Fashionisspinach.com) -- has elevated and celebrated creativity over conformity. Anything goes these days--just wear it with confidence. Now, 76 years after the debut of "Fashion is Spinach," it may finally be time for a follow-up with a more positive point of view. How do you feel about "Fashion is Chocolate Cake?"

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Um, well, hey.


Seeing it's been, oh I don't know, almost a YEAR since my last post, it seemed like it was high time I said hello already.

It would probably be smart of me to officially "retire", but I just can't bring myself to do it. (Even when I'm embarrassingly only delivering annual posts.) There's a little part of me that says, "yeah, I need a redesign, and yeah, I have no free time these days, but maybe just maybe I'll find some and pick up blogging again." I miss it. I miss YOU.

Of course, you can always find me around the interwebs:
Like on the Twitter (prob'ly my favorite social platform);
and the Instagram (photos of doggies galore!);
and the Pinterest (been pretty into it as of late);
and the Facebook (though Facebook's recent changes mean you'll probably never see my posts in your newsfeed. Gee, thanks, Facebook.)

In any case, it's been a crazy year. But I just got some amazing new Garima Dhawan dot prints from affordable art store Artfully Walls and I thought, "Hey! I should go blog about that!" So here we are. Feels pretty good, I have to say.

See you soon?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

{Sneak Peek} Inside my Apartment

I've been busy lately, especially with moving from my (tiny) Manhattan apartment to my (tiny, but cheaper) Brooklyn apartment. For someone with a closet as big as mine, this is not a small undertaking. On the upside: A new place to decorate! It's still kind of a mess, but I managed to capture a few snippets so you could see how it's taking shape. A full apartment tour to come when I get my act together (i.e., clean this place up and maybe even do the dishes).

Let's start here. Brass chandelier, spraypainted blue and hung in the living room:

I'm obsessed with dinosaurs lately (you'll see). Lucite box full of 'em.

Top of my dresser. My bedroom is full of all different shades of pink, from pale to neon. Loved these cheap, bright frames I found at Target.

OK, so also obsessed with neon pink lately. I took this white dressing table (and Ikea mirror) and gussied it up a bit.

An apartment is never complete without a proper gallery wall:

Why, look! It's mah puppies! And yes, I do dress them hipster-style in American Apparel baby tees.

If I had any energy, I would've cleaned this up for you. However. I did want you to see the awesomeness of this vintage hotel mailbox. (Bonus: Holds lots of junk!)

A bright pink T-Rex keeps watch over my bed.

My lifelong dream -- inspired my Alber Elbaz's own giant red dinosaur -- of owning a giant red dinosaur is now complete.

My collection of white ceramics and milk glass is becoming famous! (Or infamous! Whatever.) But you need some white when you're as color-obsessed as I am.

Aaaaaand... {fin.}

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

NYC Readers: Your Bergdorf Goodman Movie Giveaway!!


A week from Friday, the fashion star-studded documentary "Scatter my Ashes at Bergdorf's" comes out. But the night before -- on May 2 at 7pm, at a downtown NYC locale -- there will be a special sneak preview of the film just for bloggers, super-fans and a few lucky others.

We've got a pair of tickets to give away to one reader to the special screening! To enter, just leave your name in the comments (NYC-, or those willing to travel to NYC-, only please) and we'll pick a winner early next week.

OK, now that you've left your name... What will you wear if you win the tix? For that matter, what will *I* wear? Decisions... {#GetScattered}

Monday, April 22, 2013

OB. SESSED. {with Emily Henderson}


My friend Kevin — he of Vintage Roadtrip 1 & 2 fame, if you've been following me for a while — has the best taste of anyone I know. Just look at his perfectly perfect living room above. (The rug? Swoon!) We're like design soulmates, except he's an utter minimalist and I'm a complete... uh, maximalist? (He also loves mint, and I haaaate mint, and we only just discovered this and the rift may never be fully repaired.)

But, really, on our Vintage Roadtrip jaunts (we're hitting Palm Springs next month!), we agree to work from opposite ends of the thrift store so we cannot reach for the same thing at the same time. I have a beautiful decanter on my bar cart that makes me feel super-guilty every time I see it, because I snatched it before he could in a Lewes, Delaware, church group thrift store. (That was, in fact, the moment we agreed on the opposite-ends rule. Now things are much smoother.)

But I digress. During a long-overdue catch-up session last week, Kevin turned me on to decorator/stylist Emily Henderson's blog and I'm smitten. I've actually been unknowingly admiring her work in HGTV magazine (my second favorite magazine, after Country Living), but now I'm gobbling up her blog archives like it's mah job.

I want *everything.* Literally, I was about to run to the thrift store earlier to look for ballerina figurines that I could spraypaint neon pink, when I sat myself down and reminded myself that a) I'm not really into ballet; b) I have no room for anything else anyway. Still. I will probably spraypaint ballerina figurines one day. Soon.

Enjoy.

Adventures in Woodworking


Having found myself with a little extra time lately, I've plunged headfirst into the World of Making Things. Whether it's slightly misshapen pillowcases or experimenting with spray paint, my projects have been pretty fun — and pretty educational. As in, I now know the wrong way to do a lot of things, from experience. {oof}

But my best work so far? This pair of benches, constructed from a few cut pieces of wood and paired with a vintage chrome-edged table from the Salvation Army. I drilled, I painted, I stenciled — and I dream of moving the whole thing out into the middle of my friends (and neighbors) Amy and Siwat's increasingly pretty backyard, sitting with friends, drinking wine and eating snacks under the big, leafy tree. I have a big imagination when it comes to entertaining.

Here they are in various stages. More, nicer pictures when that gathering under the tree is fully realized.

Monday, April 15, 2013

♥ ♥ Lemlem ♥ ♥



I'm always a little suspect of models (or actresses) turned "designers", but I fell in love with Liya Kebede's line Lemlem before I even knew it was hers (and judged it...). The woven fabrics, usually mixed with super-bright stripes, are made by weavers in Liya's home country of Ethiopia, and they're just gorgeous. I first spotted it at J.Crew, where they have a mini-collection (some pieces above), but there's even more goodness on the Lemlem website.

I may have even officially resolved to stop judging model/actress fashion lines, at least before I see them... maybe.

Friday, April 12, 2013

California, Californiiiiiaaaa, here we cooooome!


I am literally counting down the days/hours/minutes/nanoseconds to my Memorial Day vacation, a trip to Palm Springs with Kevin (he of "Vintage Roadtrip" partnership fame) and pals. Palm Springs = midcentury mecca, vintage bastion, retro retreat of sun, fun and 1950s architecture...

Of course, I started packing weeks ago. And while retro caftans and bakelite bangles are totally in the bag (so to speak) already, there are some other fun things I need/want/must have for the perfect throwback getaway. Teensy vintage convertible (and matching headscarf, because you know I have one that's been waiting for this very trip) to come.

From top right:
+J.Crew retro bikini (on sale currently!);
+Zara silver sandals (low enough to walk in; high enough to pair with floaty maxi dresses for dinner);
+Baggu sailor stripe weekender (um, obsessed with their new canvas bags) (also -- weekender? it's like what I carry everyday...);
+Gap neon pink shirtdress (for when you need to depart the pool and hit the vintage home stores)...

Any Palm Springs stores I should not miss? Let me know!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Jenna Lyons + Pink Shoes = Major Uncontrollable Lust


I sort of freaked out over this video of Jenna Lyons' insane shoe collection. Next to Eloise (from the books), Iris Apfel and Katie Holmes-in-the-early-Tom- years (bobs4eva), she's pretty much my go-to fashion role model.

When I saw the neon pink cap toes on super-sale, I realized my closet needed them. OK, wanted them. Whatever.


Next up: Sussing out Jenna Lyons' facialist/face routine. Her skin! My gosh.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

S.W.A.K.

More and more, I skip trends and just look for pieces that I love. My regular haunts these days include several Soho consignment shops, where I can find beautiful designer pieces that are just a few years old for much less than their original cost. These are perennial pieces that I'll easily wear for years — not a fleeting trend. It feels right.

Oh, but then I do sometimes find a trend that I love, love, love. Enter the "lips print" — ever since Miuccia sent it down the runway on perfect pleated skirts I've lusted after it. (Also loving this season: the box clutch, the pointed-toe D'orsay heel, the army jacket.) Luckily, lips are starting to appear everywhere — even on jeans.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

On the second day of Christmas...*

So, yes, everyone was all "Margiela! H&M!" about two weeks ago, but being a normal human person (who happened to be on a business trip the day the collection debuted), I didn't go wandering into an H&M until this weekend to see if anything was left. And *was* it: I guess the fast fashion crowd isn't as into edgy avant garde as perhaps was hoped, cause almost every piece was fully stocked.

I had my heart set on the puffer coat above — which has the most fantastic funnel collar — but after an internal debate over whether it made me look like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man (not sure; also not sure that I care because it's pretty amazing), I settled on the horizontal dress (below, but in black). It looks like you're wearing a dress sideways, and it. Is. Awesome.

I'd bet things start going on sale as it gets closer to Christmas, so the marshmallow coat may still be mine...

*enough with this "true love" stuff, I'll just get it for myself...

On the first day of Christmas, I wish my true love* gave to me...

... some instantly covetable fashion items. Heavily featuring bows, naturally:

+Coach's legacy duffle in brilliant fuschia
+Target/Band of Outsiders adorable "Best Friends" ski hats
+J.Crew's giant bow sweater (drooool...)
+Kate Spade's abstract bow belt
+Madewell's Frankie pump in glitter

*Hmmm, it would probably help if I had a true love to be gifting these things, but. Oh, well.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Oh, and, did I mention?

I got pups! Here are my little rescue babes, Bandit and Izzy.

Rest assured, they have extensive tiny dog wardrobes already. Sort of like having little dolls around to dress up. Little dolls that pee and poo ... a LOT. Still: ♥ ♥ ♥.

Home Inspiration: Hatch-Meets-Hamptons

Friend (at least in the Facebook sense — uh, "friend"?) and Hatch Collection founder Ariane Goldman had her Hamptons home featured in a recent Lonny magazine and I just love it. I've been putting a lot of work into my own apartment lately (problem: it's really just too small to be "worked" on, hence the result is just a lot of extra stuff) but I'm refreshed by her simple, airy aesthetic.

As for Hatch? It's designed as maternity wear but works equally well for the non-pregnant. Their floaty, drapey Soiree dress is easily one of the prettiest pieces I own. I basically HAD to have it after seeing this photo. No idea how she got it to work as a skirt, but basically, it was love at first sight (of drape).

Also: hi!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

October 2012 Allure. Page 120. That's me!

If anything was deserving of a much-delayed blog post, 'twould be this: I'm featured in the October 2012 issue of Allure magazine (with Blake Lively, aka Mrs. Ryan Reynolds on the cover) as part of a "real people" fashion shoot. We all had to style our own outfit based around the same super-full, retro-ish Donna Karan skirt — which I already have about 30 versions of in my closet, thankfully. So basically, the problem wasn't what to wear, it was deciding on a final look. (I brought about 17 options to the shoot, and still ended up being photographed in what I wore there.)

It's always hard to see a photo of yourself (especially in full-page form!) and not critique it to the nth degree, but I'm totally happy with how this turned out. Good stuff! Thanks to the gals at Allure for including me and making it fun.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Not dead. Just. Incredibly. Busy!


So, I never meant for my moving-to-NYC post to be the start of radio silence. (Just the opposite! I thought NYC would mean the resurgence of the blog! However!) But moving to a new city, starting a new job, making new friends (and catching up with old ones), getting settled... you know how it goes. I'm feeling quite guilty about abandoning this poor site lately.

Likely, it's only mom who's reading this now (hi mom!) but let me say that things in NYC are going swimmingly. Especially fashion-wise. Because have I mentioned that I work in Soho? With hundreds of shops literally at my (work) doorstep? For a fashion lover, it is overwhelming. It is also dangerous on ye olde wallet.

So what's got my attention these days? Well let's see (clockwise from top left):

1. Basically, obsessed with cream boucle jackets. Zara has some amazing ones right now. (Uh, I may have bought more than one.) I heart this one in particular. Goes with everything!

2. Country Living magazine. It's completely filling the void Domino left in my life (plus, given me about 100 ideas for the new apartment). I loved this bedroom makeover.

3. I love unusual statement jewelry, and just got this Metropolitan Whistle to wear as a necklace.

4. Target has the best pillows. (And also stationery.) But especially pillows! Mustache and monocle for $10? On my couch. (I also admit to purchasing the pink and gray Sombrero Dog Pillow. Because, obvs, I didn't have one.)

And there you have it. I'm back! I've missed you.

Friday, March 09, 2012

New York, New York, it's a hell of a town...


Well, hello! Sorry to be so quiet lately. I was a little busy with this whole "move to New York in two weeks" thing. But one stuck moving truck, one new couch, two traumatized cats and about seven bottles of wine later (for relaxation purposes, of course), I'm feeling settled in the new apartment, at the new job, and in my new (old) city. It's good to be back.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine's Day! (For those of you who celebrate it...)


So, we're all like "Valentine's Day bah humbug," but that doesn't mean you have to be. Our pick for a great gift (hint, hint) is H.Bloom's Simon Doonan bouquet, complete with vase by Simon's hubby Jonathan Adler and Simon's fab new book. We had the chance to meet them both last week here in D.C. and they are just the cutest. (Plus, Jonathan and I went to the same high school... We bonded over Delaware stories.)

Here are Jonathan and Simon, being sweet and fabulous... It is hard to be bah-humbuggy around them...

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Vintage! Getcher vintage!


As promised, D.C. folks: In my move to NYC (next Friday!), I am purging my wardrobe of some fabulous vintage finds, so I can actually fit myself into my tiny Manhattan apartment.
What's sad for me is great for you:
First, this Saturday 2/11, at Cork Market (1803 14th St. NW) we'll be holding a Butler & Claypool vintage pop-up shop from 11am-5pm. It will be BANANAS. Come by, say goodbye, and shop your little vintage-loving heart out.
Then, just in case you can't make that, we (Spinach Vintage) will be popping up again at Mimilah (above Miss Pixie's) the following Thursday, 2/16, from 5-8pm. There will be wine and stuff, plus some very choice vintage items that I'm saving just for that night. 
Share the news! Hope to see you Saturday (or Thursday!)...

Monday, February 06, 2012

Sh*t People Moving to NYC Say


"I'm paying twice as much for half the space!"

 "I'm so frustrated, I'm considering Midtown East."

 "This is really considered a bedroom?"

 "Maybe I don't actually NEED a kitchen."

"This is the best city in the whole wide world, and I can't wait to live here."

All of these things have come out of my mouth this weekend, because — in case you missed it on the Twitter — I'm moving! To New York! In less than two weeks! (Hopefully, if all new apartment matters/moving issues are resolved quickly...) I am excited for the jolt of inspiration it will give the blog, and I'm excited to go back to one of my very favorite places in the world.

For you D.C. folks, there will be a massive blow-out Butler + Claypool vintage sale this coming weekend (Feb. 11-12) as I work to cull my wardrobe to fit into a tiny Manhattan apartment. You DON'T want to miss this.

For the rest of you, stay tuned! Exciting adventures and new fashion inspirations are on the immediate horizon. We are so excited!