And… Breathe.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The past couple of days have been a whirlwind of getting ready for my trip tonight. I haven't even had a moment to sit and write about all the things bouncing around in my head, like the new Japanese design publications I just bought (above -- plus, I got to order this one, which I saw in a love-at-first-sight kind of moment on A Bird in the Hand) or the terrific tie-dyed vintage dress I scored for $3 last week. I've been preoccupied with securing plane tickets, and resolving last minute snafus, and packing… and repacking (despite all the traveling I do, successful packing is something that continues to elude me. No matter how much I prepare, I always end up with too many jeans and not enough shoes.) I've been feeling so hectic and harried that I sometimes wonder if it is worth it.

But then I sit and think for a minute, and I realize that it absolutely is. Tonight I'll fly to New Delhi for the start of India Fashion Week, which is something that I would do even if I couldn't write any stories about it. It is exactly the kind of thing that fuels me: The fantastic designers on the verge of major recognition. The younger ones who are finding their niche and experimenting with design. Being surrounded by people who feel as passionately about fashion as I do; where I can turn to my friend Vinod at the end of a show and say, "Those pleats were absolutely amazing," and no one will look at me like I am a strange person.

I know I'm verging into cheesy Lifetime movie territory right now, but it's true – this is a side to the fashion industry that inspires me completely. I'm looking forward to sharing as much as I can this week (and even more later, after my articles come out – because I'm pretty sure my editors wouldn't love it if I scooped my own stories). The posts will be more sporadic while I'm away, but I have a feeling I'm going to want to share as much as I can. I'll probably start in a few hours, when my computer and I are happily settled in the (somewhat beloved) airport lounge. There's nothing like free tea sandwiches and bloody marys to kick off a trip.

A Particularly Manic Monday

Monday, August 28, 2006

Well, hey!

It was a jam-packed weekend in these here parts, but we'll get to that in a minute. First can I just say how much I love the pinafore-style dresses from New York label Mooka Kinney (above)? (Found via Shiny Squirrel, who found it via Clothes-Pin.) I'd been eyeing a similar style at the thrift store lately -- which I think is actually an old Japanese school uniform -- and I'm really tempted to go buy it now.

Now, some of you have found your way here because you saw us on Singapore's street fashion blog, The Clothes Project. We were thrilled to meet its proprietor, the very sweet K., not once but twice while we were out this weekend. First, she recognized us at the Shopaholic Aristocrats sale at Graze on Saturday afternoon (which seemed to be a huge success – there were lots of fantastic retailers, including great local vintage store Granny's Day Out). And then, we bumped into K. again later that night at Pluck during magazine's Haji Lane street party.

In any case, I was more than happy to get snapped for K.'s blog., even if I do look a little goofy. (It's a well-proven fact that very high humidity + my hair = extreme disaster.) I was wearing my favorite new dress and got quite a few compliments on it (why, thank you). But imagine my surprise today when I was walking by the Bugis outlet of cheap, trendy retailer This Fashion and they had a skirt version in the exact same fabric for… S$20. (That's US$12, and that is waaaaaay less than I paid for the dress.) Still, I never was one to turn down a good bargain, and so once I got over my disbelief, I bought the skirt version in red:

K. also tipped us off to the fact that Saturday night was the once-a-month flea market at Timbre and we were able to stop by to check that out as well. Most of the vendors were packing up when we got there around 11pm, but we did discover cute local jewelry designer Playground Love and bought a couple of her handmade pieces, including "Little Miss Brooch":

Their website says they will also do customized pieces, which has me plotting all kinds of fun possibilities.

And also on Saturday, I accosted a very nice salesgirl at Scarlet Living in Holland Village and demanded to know where she got her extremely cute, Orla Kiely-ish tote bag:

Turns out it's made by U.K. stationery company Paperchase, which is now selling at my local Borders Books on Orchard Road. So of course I had to go there *immediately*. They've got tons of fantastic, fairly inexpensive patterned products – wrapping paper, notebooks, cards and more – but, sadly, they are sold out of the bag. (To add insult to injury, the bag is a pretty great deal at S$36 – about US$20.) No matter how much I begged and pleaded and (lightly) threatened, it does not appear that they will be getting any more in stock over here. However those of you in the States might have better luck, as Paperchase is sold at quite a few select Borders stores across the U.S. If you are able to find us this tote, we will gladly pay you back and also be your best friend forever.

And finally! I also got my much-discussed coat back with its newly cropped and very cute sleeves. (I'm still thinking of shortening it a bit as well, per Urbanista's suggestion, but I'm very happy with the alteration.)

Now all I need is a freak snowstorm.

A Little Bit About "Fashion is Spinach"

Our most popular comment about the site has probably been, "You're making me poor!" We are both a little proud and truly sorry about that, though we'll be happy to meet you for a drink at the poor house, 'cause we're pretty sure that's where we're headed ourselves.

The comment we get almost as often is, "Ummm… I don't get the name." So we thought we'd take a minute and explain ourselves.

When I decided to start this site, it was mainly to give myself a place to write about the kind of fashion, design and Japanese children's paraphernalia that interests me personally. If you've clicked around the site at all, you know that my day job often involves writing lots about the fashion industry in all different aspects, which I love and feel very lucky that I can (kind of) support myself doing. But sometimes, the things I would most like to write about – tiny new designers, small out-of-the-way shops, how best to wear your vintage ensembles – can't always find a home in major publications. It seemed a waste to keep all that good stuff to myself. And so, the blog was born.

It seemed fitting to "borrow" the name of this site from the 1938 book Fashion is Spinach by pioneering American designer Elizabeth Hawes (pictured above). If you've ever wondered what Hawes meant by the phrase, it might help to know that she apparently hated spinach. She's basically calling fashion -- what she defined as those ubiquitous trends that sweep the stores every season -- a big fat lump of yucky green vegetables. Hawes thought you should wear whatever you liked, whenever you wanted to -- and I couldn't agree more. Her famous phrase at the end of the book is, "Fashion is spinach… I say to hell with it."

(Now, it should probably be noted here that I actually really like spinach, and so, very fittingly, I also like some of the big trends that pop up every year, as evidenced by my well-documented love for Topshop.)

Anyway, in honor of Hawes and in an effort to try and properly carry out her legacy, we're going to be featuring great quotes from her from time to time. (And: If you can find a copy of Fashion is Spinach -- which gives a funny, frank account of the Paris-led fashion industry in the 1920s and 30s -- or any of her books for less than the current going rate of $80, then I highly recommend. In fact, I just scored a ridiculously cheap copy of Why is a Dress? on eBay the other week. And no, I don't know what the name means either.) But here are her first words of wisdom, which we have found to be a great thing to keep in mind when debating a should-I-or-should-I-not Urban Outfitters ensemble:

"Any dress which isn't in style for at least three years isn't any good to begin with." – Elizabeth Hawes

A Personal Fashion Milestone

I bought my first pair of pricey jeans this weekend. They're from Paige, and they were on the 50 percent off rack at Blackjack, but it's still the most expensive denim I've ever purchased. Until now, I'd always been perfectly satisfied with the Gap Long & Lean jeans that you can often find for $20 on the sale rack. But I tried these Paige jeans on, and they seduced me completely with their flattering fit and their slightly tapered leg. Truly, I'm not even sure they're any better than the Long & Leans, but the little voice in my head kept going, "...What a deal! …You'll regret it if you don't buy it… Do you *really* need to eat this month?" It is really hard to shut that voice up sometimes. So I bought them.

Introducing! Our Very Own City Shopping Guides

Friday, August 25, 2006

If you know me at all (or, really, if you've read this blog for more than one day), you probably have figured out that when I travel, I love to shop. I can't always tell you the best museum in the cities I've visited (though I do try to get to those types of places as well, especially the modern art museums… and not only because they always have the coolest gift shops). But I can love seeking out local designers and cool shops, and keep comprehensive files of my favorite locations from every city I travel to. (See my slightly obsessive but undeniably helpful business card storage books above – there's one for every place I visit regularly, so when I travel I can just grab it and go.)

Because of this, I get a lot of requests for shopping recommendations, particularly in Asia. My first suggestion is always the absolutely amazing Luxe City Guides (to which I've contributed in the past), which compiles the coolest shopping, dining and hotel finds for every major metropolis around Asia. But there are so many new places popping up all the time, and I wanted to highlight my own favorites -- from flea markets to fancy boutiques -- for anyone who's traveling to these cities or looking for something new to do where they live. Even if you're not travel-bound anytime soon, there should still be plenty of ideas to get you all hot and bothered.

If you have suggestions of your own, now or in the future, please send 'em along or leave them in the comments of the posts. Over the next few months, I'll be posting about my favorite stops (and keeping dedicated links to each city in the main left sidebar), and they'll be constantly updated with new suggestions and stores every time I hit the road. Which is pretty often. (Trips currently planned for the next three months include Delhi, Bangkok, Beijing, Tokyo, New York, Phuket and Burma!) Which is reminding me that I really want to buy some cute new luggage.

Okay? Okay. Let's get started.

Current available guides:
+Kuala Lumpur
+Ho Chi Minh City
…but more coming soon!

City Shopping Guide: Singapore

FiS City Shopping Guide: Singapore

Here's the very first installment of the Fashion is Spinach City Shopping Guides. [We suggest you head to the permalink and print this out to take with you.] Now, we try to keep these things up-to-date, but always advise that you double-check to make sure stores are still open before you head out. Have Singapore suggestions of your own? Add to the comments or drop me a note. Credit cards ready? Happy shopping!

Stop #1: Ann Siang Hill

This Chinatown area street has become a hub for some of the coolest stores in the city. Not-to-be-missed spots include The Asylum (22 Ann Siang Road, (+65) 6324 8264), an amazing graphic design firm-slash-boutique, which stocks design books, funky accessories from cool local designers like kwodrent and and their own unique products. I'm always completely inspired after every visit.

Just down the street is Style: Nordic (39 Ann Siang Road, (+65) 6423 9114), a fantastic smorgasbord of Scandinavian design products. It's where I first discovered such amazing products like Froso fabrics, Nudie Jeans and Filippa K fashions.

And down the street to the other side is the very pink Front Row (5 Ann Siang Road, (+65) 6224 5501) , which has an Dean & Deluca café downstairs and a boutique of fun fashions (including chic French clothing line A.P.C. and local Singapore darlings Woods & Woods) upstairs. Keep in mind: Most places are closed on Sundays.

While you're in the neighborhood: Just nearby, the Red Dot Design Museum -- a new branch of the original one in Germany -- is a fun place to find both coffee and creativity. For more shopping, turn left at the Scarlet Hotel onto Erskine Road for a few more cute boutiques like eggthree (33 Eskine Road, #01-08, (+65) 6536 6977) and Anthropology (not to be confused with Anthropologie -- they're not related). Or, head the other way past Front Row and walk down Club Street, which has several cool boutiques like Venue (44-46 Club Street, (+65) 6323 0640) and Vanilla Home (48 Club Street, (+65) 6324 6206).

A short walk away is Telok Ayer Street, where you can find pretty, photo-worthy shophouses and the lovely little Books Actually bookstore. (125A Telok Ayer Street -- up on the second floor, (+65) 6221 1170)

Where to eat: Despite its Chinatown location, Ann Siang is home to several cute French bistros, including Les Bouchons (7 Ang Siang Hill, (+65) 6423 0707). Or head down the hill and into the heart of Chinatown for great, cheap noodles and dumplings at Lan Zhou La Mian (19 Smith Street, (+65) 6327 1286).

Stop #2: Haji Lane

Singapore's newest hotspot for hip boutiques -- just one block over from Arab Street -- still feels like an undiscovered gem. I love the boutique/ice cream parlor Pluck (31/33 Haji Lane, (+65) 6396 4048) as well as nearby Salad (25/27 Haji Lane, (+65) 6299 5808), a neat emporium of black and white things.

In the past two years, there's been a growing number of fantastic new boutiques springing up on the street, like Soon Lee (56 Haji Lane, level 2) and Billet Doux (16A Haji Lane). They join old favorites like edgy little retailer White Room (37 Haji Lane); and two outposts of secondhand clothing store House of Japan (#55 and #78 Haji Lane) , which always has plenty of funky vintage finds -- including my beloved old Japanese kimonos. (But if I find there are no good vintage kimonos left after this, I'm totally removing the recommendation and keeping the store to myself!) Be sure to walk towards Beach Road at hit shops like 2 (at #2).The shops tend to keep odd hours and many are closed on Sunday and/or Monday, so your best bet is to go by in the late afternoon/early evening during the week or on Saturday.

While you're in the neighborhood: I like to poke around the shops on Arab and Bussorah streets for things like fabrics, wide-brimmed hats and baskets. On Bussorah street, right by the Mosque, there are a few cute boutiques -- pay no attention to the touristy junk outside and make sure you go in. A recent discovery was Grandfather's Collections (42 Bussorah Street, 6299 4530), a suprising trove of neat gifts and vintage housewares.

Or walk down to the Seiyu department store at Bugis Junction, which has a recently expanded outpost of minimalist Japanese housewares brand Muji (on level 2). There's a bigger Muji now in Paragon mall on Orchard Road and in Marina Square, but really, can you ever get enough?

Where to eat: One of my very favorite restaurant finds in Singapore is B Bakery at 15 Bussorah Street (just two doors down from the Kampong Glam Café). They serve light, fresh fare like salads, sandwiches and vegetable quiche -- and if you have room for dessert, their warm cinnamon buns are really amazing.

Stop #3: Orchard Road

If you're in Singapore, you'll find yourself on the city's main shopping hub of Orchard Road nearly every day. It's home to hundreds of shops (mainly big brands) and isn't generally cheap (but not much in Singapore is). First, let's get it out of the way: Topshop is at Wisma Atria (435 Orchard Road), and it is every bit as good as they say. If you're an American (and faced with the dismal dollar), the prices in Topshop in Singapore are actually cheaper than in the U.K. Stock up!

(Psst… Just downstairs from Topshop are more U.K. high street brands, like Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge. And local boutique Eclecticism – which has labels like J Brand Jeans and Orla Kiely – is also now in the building).

Okay, now that that's done: Next door to Wisma Atria is the Takashimaya/Ngee Ann City shopping center (391 Orchard Road). Level 3 is home to Japanese mega-bookstore Kinokuniya, a great source for amazing Japanese design and craft books (and just about any other reading material you could ever want. Their English-language design and fashion section is amazing!). One floor up is the Fourum, a hub for arts & crafts stores (including Art Friend, which is full of great crafty inspiration).

Just across the road is Paragon mall (290 Orchard Road), where I especially love the new big Muji outlet on the 4th floor and the darling Blue Canopy housewares store right next door. And way farther down at the end of Orchard (a quick cab or bus ride) is The Cathay shopping center, where you'll find great little boutiques like the recently relocated Déjà vu Vintage and adorable stationery shop woodwould.

While you're in the neighborhood: Oh, let's face it -- if you're on Orchard Road, you are only there to shop your little heart out.

Where to eat: Um, where NOT to eat? Orchard Road has as many food courts and restaurants as it does stores. I always love the Shanghai-style dumpling hotspot Din Tai Fung for delcious pork dumplings (two branches: basement level, Paragon and level two, Wisma Atria). Our local readers also recommend the cheerful Project Shop Blood Brothers Cafe (third level, Paragon), the hip Marmalade Pantry (basement, Palais Renaissance, 390 Orchard Road) and its more casual sister spot, Toast (#02-11 Ngee Ann City). (I personally always grab sushi at the place behind the Topshop women's department on floor 2.) Another favorite for sandwiches and simple comfort fare is Cedele on the third floor of Wheelock (above Borders).

Stop 3A: Orchard Road extension -- for serious shoppers only

We would not recommend bringing your husband/boyfriend/potential boyfriend along for this one, but if you're a serious shopper (and a serious bargain hunter), you will not want to miss out on a visit to Far East Plaza (14 Scott Road), just off Orchard Boulevard near Wisma Atria. It can be a madhouse – we recommend you go on weekday afternoons for the least crowds and the best service – but it is also an amazing place to score inexpensive fashion finds and designer seconds, particularly if you're willing to root around a bit.

We always start at local boutique chain Bysi (ground floor, streetfront entrance), where trendy fashions – many of which appear at Topshop or Zara – are reproduced and sold for a fraction of the price. New pieces are added every Wednesday (if not more frequently), so regular visits are a must.

Once inside, we always beeline for 2cm (with branches on the second and third floor – the quieter third floor boutique is our favorite), where you can score incredible designer seconds as well as original items from the owner/designer, Vivian Cheo, who recently launched her own shoe line. On the second floor, Therapy and the two branches of Glitz are other must-stops, though many of the boutiques are worthy of a browse. It never hurts to ask if they can give a discount – most stores are manned by their owners and are usually willing to knock of anywhere from 10 to 30 percent off the price tag.

Other noteworthy stops in Singapore:
+A new favorite of mine is Stamford House (39 Stamford Road) near City Hall, where you can find great shops like the adorable Swirl (#02-05, 6338 5020)) as well as some up-and-coming Singaporean designers. Just down the street, the lovely Felt (11 Stambord Road, #01-08 Capitol Building) stocks more great finds, including fab Singaporean label Hansel. {And from there, you can pop over to the Raffles Hotel for your requisite Singapore Sling.}

What have we missed? If you've got a recommendation, please leave it in the comments!

*Last updated: December 19, 2007*

Please note: These guides are very labor-intensive and are meant to provide shopping suggestions to visitors and locals in each city. Please do not reuse or republish the information or photos without express written consent from the author.

Break Out the Bubbly…

We will probably need to go and knock on about a thousand trees after making this statement, but could it be that the site is working for everyone now? {Of course, if it's not working for you, please still let me know. I'd rather have my hopes dashed than have you navigate an ugly site.}

In any case, between the two laptops and five browser windows we have sitting in front of us, it appears that -- with the exception of a few glitches here and there -- everything is in acceptable working order. (Just make sure your browser windows are open wide for the full three-column effect. And the site still does look much nicer on Mozilla and Safari. If you don't use one of those by now, you should -- tabbed browsing is where it's at!) Anyway, I am quite chuffed with myself, if I can say that (I'm not British, but it seems like a very appropriate time to use the word "chuffed"). I am also thinking of taking myself to Topshop for a celebratory wrap sweater top with cap sleeves.

We now return to discussing things we know a lot more about, like shoes and bags and whether or not leggings are so over. Phew.

It's Friday! Hooraysies.

+Why, what better way to celebrate our slightly new look than by playing around with the concert ticket generator? Via the really incredibly cool Not Cot, where we are planning to spend part of the day looking through the archives at lots of beautiful and interesting things.

+So yes, we're tweaking our layout a bit. But remember -- we were blessed with (some) writing skills, and absolutely no tech-y skills whatsoever, and so really have just pieced this thing together. If something looks weird or isn't working on your browser, I'd be very grateful if you would let me know right away. (And then, I will probably pass it on to my darling brother-slash-tech support team, and beg him to help me some more.)

{Update} Oops, we already have a problem for those of you who are using Internet Explorer, who will likely find your right hand sidebar waaaaay down at the bottom of the page. (Safari and Firefox users should be good to go though, yes? Yes? Oh, please tell me yes.) Not to worry, the tech team is being called in. Please just bear with us through the weekend as we sort it all out.

+We've amended our weekend calendar to include the street party on Haji Lane on Saturday night from 6pm to midnight, where Pluck will be serving up free martinis. I'm not sure how well they're going to mix with the Bloody Marys from Graze, but what the heck, it sounds like fun. The party is the being organized by Flag Magazine, a cool little zine with lots of great fashion. See you there?

+If I can't have one of Mackenzie's beautiful paper poppy bouquets, this Atomic Bonsai Kit just might be the next best thing.

+Okay, I've got to go and see a man about a plane ticket. (I know I promised you vintage today, but it may have to wait until Monday. Trust me, it will be worth it!) Have I mentioned I'm headed back to India early next week? I'll be working on some stories and checking out what's new at India Fashion Week. Very, very exciting. Stay tuned!

Rainbow-y Goodness

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I think this is the perfect gift for anyone who loves color (me! me!): A wooden color wheel from Pottery Barn Kids. I would definitely put this on my coffee table and let guests play with it. But of course, that would mean I'd have to find a new home for the wooden cactus, and I'm not quite sure I'm ready to do that just yet.

Via Swiss Miss, which has just been jam-packed with great things lately. Seriously, the mobile green space? I love it.

Fun Package Day! (Again!)

I am, fortunately for tomorrow's postings and unfortunately for today's, in the midst of working on some big entries (vintage! vintage!) and a slightly new look for the site (which mostly involves me cursing the computer and e-mailing my brother every 20 minutes begging for some css help. /divs will be the end of me, I'm sure.)

But! I wanted to update with a few cool new things. Yesterday was a doozy for the mail bag:

--I received my eBay-purchased copy of iconic fashion film Qui Etes-Vous Polly Maggoo?. Which I am planning to watch as soon as my computer wears me down completely. It shouldn't be long.

--I also got my very fun new Paul & Joe Target kimono dress. I know there's a lot of debate out there about whether this dress is a hit or miss, but I'm really pleased with it. If only because finally -- unlike all the other Target/Forever 21/Topshop dresses out there that are rather scandalously short on me -- this is a dress that really works for a person who is nearly 6 feet tall (or about 180 cm, depending on your measurement preference), which I what I happen to be. And so, I am truly sorry if it is too long on the rest of you, but I'm rather happy. Look!

(Now, I do think that if you are shorter than 6 feet tall, you could take out some of the length by hemming this to the knee and it will still be very cute.)

And finally! I've been on a bidding rampage on eBay lately for old skeleton keys. I kept losing (who knew there was such a demand for antique keys?) and consequently, I got a little impatient one day and bid on a bunch of keys and so now I have a few too many. Also, I misjudged their size, so they are all somewhat smaller than I was hoping for. Er, whoops.

But my main objective was to string them on skinny ribbons or basic chains to make groovy necklaces. Very old-school latchkey, if you will. I love the result:

Unfortunately, I still have not yet received my very pink September Vogue. Boo.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I love this Erotokritos blue jersey dress from Le Train Bleu, currently on sale for $184. (And, according to an e-mail they just sent out to their mailing list, you can get another 30 percent off with the code "bissous".) Every time I click through their site, I have to stop and covet it for a moment. The color combination is just so striking; I've been in a very blue with blue phase lately.

If you're in the mood for more gorgeous finds, be sure to check the beautiful clothes by Augustine featured on Shiny Squirrel and the absolutely amazing paper poppy bouquets on Something Old, Something New. (I really would like some for my apartment. Bonus: They won't wilt!)

This Dress is Giving Me a Small Heart Attack

I am a little slow here, as this was posted several weeks ago on The Sartorialist, but can I just talk for a minute about how much I love this retro-style dress? This is one of those pieces that, if I ever found it in a thrift store, I would probably keel over right then and there. Love! {Okay, slightly jealous love, but love nonetheless.}

Vote for Change (On Your Walls)

I've always enjoyed perusing the fantastic t-shirts on Threadless, but I think I'm going to love Naked & Angry even more. It's by the same founders, only instead of t-shirts, designers can submit cool patterns to be voted on and possibly made into great stuff (like the inaugural hand-screened wallpapers above). It is – and we stole this phrase from the site, though it is something we would say – amazing patterny designy goodness.

Be sure to check out the designs currently up for vote (love the planes!). Via That's Hot.

An Alternative to the Basic Ballet Flat

These Edie Flats with cutout detail are just $30, on sale at Le Train Bleu. I am seriously sitting here and mentally debating whether I should purchase them immediately – they seem like a perfect change of pace from the typical ballet flat. Thoughts?

(Oh! The heels section has some fantastic deals as well. And! It's 30% off at Le Train Bleu until September 1st with the code "bissous". I really don't see how I could not buy these shoes now.)

If You're in Singapore This Weekend…

I'm really looking forward to Shopaholic Aristocrats at Graze, which will run from 11am to 5pm on Saturday. Here's hoping it's a perfectly sunny day, because sipping a Bloody Mary and sifting through goodies from Singapore's top retailers (including Trixilini, a store in the Meritus Mandarin shopping arcade that I love) sounds to me like a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. (I'm not so sure Mike feels the same way, but I am planning to bribe him with many, many Bloody Marys.)

{new!} On Saturday night, we're headed to have a free martini at Pluck, which will be serving them from 6pm to midnight. It's part of a street party on Haji Lane sponsored by favorite fashion zine Flag Magazine, and we bet it will be pretty cool.

Then on Sunday, I'm hoping to stop by to see what's new at MAAD, the market for artists and designers at the Red Dot Design Museum. It's been awhile since we've been by to check it out.

If you're at any of these places and you spot me, be sure and say hello!

Favorite Fall Accessories: Mike & Chris Scarf

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I had (mistakenly, it turns out) thought the scarf detail on one of the Mike & Chris hoodies I recently coveted was part of the coat. But no! It's actually a separate piece, and available on GirlShop for $53. I am all about finding the perfect quirky, (fairly) affordable accessories to update my basics and so: score!

Hollywood Style

I managed to go to the movies twice this past weekend -- once to see The Break-Up, which was just released in Singapore, and once to see Lovewrecked, a teen romantic comedy starring Amanda Bynes and Marissa's first jock boyfriend from The O.C., which was so silly [some might say bad, but not me] that it wasn't even released in the U.S. Still, we have become so tired of the other teen stars (particularly after reading the September Elle cover story on the ridiculous behavior of Lindsay Lohan) that we have decided to throw all our weight behind the adorable Bynes and all her comedic facial expressions. Team Amanda!

(Oh, and we still like Hilary Duff too. Especially her very danceable new single.)

Anyway, The Break-Up. First: I cried for about half the movie -- it was just so horribly depressing and realistic, like living through a heartbreaking split. Second: I cannot believe that no one spilled the beans about the very prominent placement in the film of my very favorite band, The Old 97s! Yay for Rhett and the boys; it was probably the only time during the movie where I put down the tissues so I could bop along to the songs. [Note: My earlier endorsement of Hilary Duff should in no way reflect this band; they're actually quite rock-y and cool.]

Third: How great was the set décor in the film? Their apartment was full of such fantastic pieces – vintage-inspired fabrics and mid-century chairs and a really great black beady-looking lamp that I can't find a picture of (but I know I've seen that lamp somewhere. Where?). In any case, there's a Domino mag forum that reveals the origin of some of the stuff. Between the movie and Mizutamago's shopping wishlist for her new apartment, I'm completely inspired to do a little tweaking to my own place. My first order of business is finding the perfect mid-century (or mid-century repro) chairs, like this one from eBay:

Cheap! Cheap! Cheap! (And Cute!)

Every time I go shopping, I can't help by feel a little depressed about how expensive great fashion is nowadays. Even I can't afford most of the stuff I feature on the site (though I still find much enjoyment from coveting from afar). Still, I don't want you all getting too poor on me, so I thought I'd highlight some cool inexpensive finds out there at the moment.

Clockwise from top left:
Slouchy blue leatherish bag, from Windsor for $34.99. Found via darling The Perfect Closet, which features a bunch of highly covetable items (like this Corey Lynn Calter cowl top, which costs $142 and so therefore doesn't make the list, even though it is quite cute).

Elbow-length mittens (photo via a forum), price: as much as it costs to bribe your favorite knitter. When I was thinking about cropping the sleeves on my vintage swing coat (something I am definitely doing; it's at the tailor right now!), one of you asked if cropped coat sleeves aren't just a little impractical. Luckily, my cousin Jill had the perfect answer: elbow-length gloves. (There are some pretty leather ones in the new September Marie Claire, by the way. Very Prada-esque.) And then the other day, it dawned on me: Elbow-length mittens! I may dust off the knitting needles just to try this project -- I'm completely excited about these already.

Bunnyshop turned us on to these fantastic shiny black heels with white detailing which are -- wait for it -- $17.99 at Payless. (!!) Now, like all Internet shopping, you never know how cute/wearable/comfortable these things are until you can see them in person, but I really think these could be the steal of the season. Can anyone who has actually seen these in the store weigh in on their cuteness factor, please?

Vintage-style print satchel from Target, just $18.99. It reminds me of all those fantastic retro-print suitcases out there right now. Fun!

We will also give a small shout-out to this gray bodysuit, on sale for $19.99 at Urban Outfitters. Hear me out: I think this could be really cute with a tunic-length flowy top or short sweater dress thrown over it, paired with little ballet flats for a running around town on Saturday afternoon sort of thing.

Okay, back to listening to The Veronicas. So. Darn. Catchy!

More On the Cheap

You can't really talk about affordable finds without talking about online shop Fred Flare. Every once in awhile, I think it might be time to start becoming more minimalist and sophisticated -- but who am I kidding? I am a magnet for cheap, colorful stuff [some might say junk, but not me]. Fred Flare has been giving a lot of support to new and upcoming designers recently, which we like. We also liked these quirky finds currently up on the site:

And so, clockwise from top left:
Fun little camera ring, just $10. I don't always love gold, but I do love cameras. This might be kind of fun on a ribbon around your neck? Click!

Bold apple-print duffel bag, $24. A cute way to cart around after-work gym clothes. Not that we do stuff like that. (We're lucky if we make it to yoga once a month.) But we fully support the rest of you in your sweaty endeavors.

Colorful Tweet Tweet wallet. I am a little tired of birds by now, but this seems like it would take some of the sting out of spending money. At least you would smile a bit every time you reached for the credit card.

My personal favorite is this squirrel tote by Ferdinand Home, $20. I once happened by the Ferdinand Home HQ in lovely little Portland, Maine, and have been smitten with them ever since. Anyway, the bag: Love the color, love the squirrel. (And! The Ferdinand Home site has even more cute stuff, including squirrels with drums.)


Monday, August 21, 2006

I've been spending an inordinate amount of time on Print & Pattern these days. We share a strong affection for all things Orla Kiely -- my car print bag (a slightly bigger version of this one, now on sale!) is among my favoritest fashion items *ever*. And then yesterday, P&P highly recommended this fantastic looking book on fashion textiles, so of course I had to go and purchase it immediately. Yay!

Anyway, I always think of the P&P site when I pull out my vintage bird-print book (above) – in true 70s form, its cover is a paper print of some old-school bird embroidery. I think it was 25 cents at the thrift store (and never used!). Now I use it to jot down all the fun things – funny quotes, cute pictures, favorite movie scenes -- that make me smile, so I have something cheery to pull out on those really bad days when you feel like poo. I usually feel a little better just by looking at the cover.

I'm off to run errands and have a little cafe lunch and drool over vintage fabrics at the adorable Pluck, so the rest of the posts will come a little later today. See you shortly!

You Know How I Love Games…

I might not have gotten out of my jammies today if not for Coquette's Carnivale of Couture, where everyone shares the fashion item they're most sad to give up at the end of the summer and the thing they desperately want for fall. It works a little differently for those of us who live in tropical climates, but you know how it makes us giddy to participate in these types of things.

And so. At left: I'd be most sad to give up my beautiful new flower-print dress, which I have worn almost constantly since it was purchased at the very cute Juliette, a fun little boutique I stumbled upon in the Holland Village Shopping Mall here in Singapore (it's store #02-02/03, phone: 6466 2527). Luckily, I don't have to put it away since it will be 88 degrees all winter here too.

At right: I would love an opportunity to wear some of my favorite autumn-appropriate vintage pieces that are just sitting in storage, like this fantastic gray wool tuxedo jacket (with tails!). I'm strategically planning some fall trips -- the U.S. in mid-October, Japan in mid-November -- that will give me an excuse to pull out some cold-weather clothes this year. Hurrah!

Desperately Coveted, part 31 of 763

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Lena Corwin recently posted about this amazing 3.1 Philip Lim double breasted box coat, but it is so gorgeous that it's certainly worthy of a second swoon. Yours for just $575, and currently only available in size 6 at La Garconne (which is, rather heartbreakingly, my own size. Now if only I had a spare six hundred bucks lying around). Still: drool.

Shag-adelic, Baby!

Tripper at Galler|b (who just happens to be the husband of Holly) is highlighting some of the great affordable art out there, which is perfect for those of us who tend to spend most of our money on handbags. And shoes. He recently did a post on Shag artist Josh Agle, who I love and whose retro-style artwork is perfectly suited for the mod fashions we're feeling right now. I thought I'd post a few Shag pieces for some style inspiration.

There's plenty more on the Shag website and the online store Shagmart. And! If you're in the neighborhood of Disneyland -- as we were last December {yay!} -- look for Shag's specially commissioned collection in honor of Disneyland's 50th birthday, exclusively on sale in the park. (I cannot vouch for that online retailer, but I wanted to give you a chance to see the wares.) The 11"x14" prints sell for about $20-$25 apiece -- and I am particularly smitten with the Tomorrowland image. Groovy!

Ack! So Cute!

I completely love these adorable alphabet illustrations that artist Steve Mack is creating every week for his blog. He'll be compiling them all into a Flash book at the end of the project, but I'd love to see a real book as well – it would be a great gift for all my friends who keep announcing that they are expecting. It's a regular babyfest around here these days!

{update} I am happy to say that Steve just updated his site (with the cutest letter "U") and said that there *will* be an actual book, sold through self-publisher (Unless some brilliant publisher offers him a deal first -- and I hope they do!)

Anyway, if you are birthing a small child anytime soon, you will probably receive this from me as a congratulations for your effort. I hope you like it!

A Little Birdhouse in Your Soul

Since birds are the new skulls/paisley/black this year, it seems fitting the birdhouses are getting completely cute as well. Also completely expensive. (Sigh.) Still, if you want to treat the little birdies in your backyard to some high-end digs, may we suggest one of these?

Clockwise from top left: Aqua egg-shaped bird feeder from Design Within Reach, $128. I've desperately coveted this for *years*. (It comes in three other great glossy colors as well.)

Funky new lantern birdhouse by Jonathan Adler, $150 (via shelterrific). Side note: Jonathan Adler went to my high school (a while before me, but still). I'm hoping this might merit some sort of We-Survived-Delaware discount one day.

I think everything from Brooklyn-based ceramics line Perch! is fantabulous, including their modern birdfeeders, $76 apiece. (And, I *still* need to buy their Shake-a-leg salt and pepper shakers!)

And finally, this perfectly round hanging birdball is from Target, via Swiss Miss. For [gasp, choke, wheeze] $89.99. C'mon Target! If you're not going to give us the affordable version, wherever will we find it?

The Remainders of the Day

Thursday, August 17, 2006

How cute are these Vanessa Barrantes dresses from LES shop Lola y Maria? I am pretty much smitten with their entire dress section.

And! I finally got my hands on the revamped Marie Claire with Miss Maggie Gyllenhaal on the cover, and I loved it. I loved it so much that, for the first time ever, I signed up for a subscription (just $12 these days). In the past, I've found MC to be too predictable and less quirky than I generally like my fashion magazines to be. A little too much Nine West and Paris Hilton, if you will. But some of the changes to the magazine – the front of the book shopping pages (like the photos of models' off-duty outfits), the feature on how Muslim women shop, the revamped 101 Ideas section – seemed fresh and interesting. I give it two green thumbs up.

Design*Sponge posted a great little flickr tour of her new Pamela Barsky piggy bank hanging out around her apartment. Of course, now I want the piggy bank too. (It's so cute!) But what caught my eye even more was D*S's Amy Ruppel artwork (above), and so now I'm desperate for some Amy Ruppel for my own walls. Amy's next online art sale will start September 13 – consider my calendar marked.

Style Bytes had posted this picture above from Norwegian Elle, and it struck me immediately. Maybe because pretty 60s shapes are so oversaturated at the moment, this hippie 70s look seems very cool and fresh? (Sorry, I know, I know. We're still doing 60s! My ballet flats haven't even arrived; it's not time to move on yet.) Still, I wouldn't be surprised if the 70s come around next. I love the line of the long dress and the wide-leg jeans – it's a good alternative for when you're tired of looking like a lady.

Okay, back to the pretty, idealistic 60s. Treats & Treasures posted directions on making this ribbon-tie shawl and I think it would be so great over a little vintage dress. Preferably at a date at a drive-in movie theater, if possible.

For more fun crafts, I suggest you head to the new Craft Zine, from the creators of the always inventive Make, a website that Mike reads religiously. The Craft blog is run by Miss Coquette herself and has already featured lots of fun stuff like free vintage knitting patterns and how to make a very cool-looking garden hose vase. Also this really adorable plush S'more (below) by Heidi Kenney of My Paper Crane, which made us smile almost as much as the Cute Overload post where the fat Korean baby eats a puppy.

And finally! I love this DIY pencil roll from One Hour Craft. Of course, knowing me, it will actually take about four hours to make, but I think it could be the perfect thing for toting around my colored pencils. Which I really don't use for anything except random coloring. Though one day I hope to use them for fashion illustrations. Ah, dreams.

Fashion Movie Mania

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ever since I posted about my favorite fashion movies (and all of you gave such fantastic suggestions of your own), I have been obsessed with watching more style-focused flicks. My latest resource is to scour the list of Oscar winners and nominees for Best Costume Design, looking for suitable things to add to our Netflix queue (Mike, no doubt, is thrilled about that.) Next up -- that is, after Capote and the second half of Scorsese's fantastic Bob Dylan documentary -- will be Belle de Jour, the 1967 film by surrealist Luis Bunuel that's full of impeccable Yves Saint Laurent designs. I think that will be followed by 1966 Academy costume design winner Darling starring Julie Christie, which is all about the 60s mod. Shift dresses in bold vintage prints are at the very top of my fall shopping list (paired with flats, dark turtlenecks and tights when I'm in colder weather), so I'm looking for as much inspiration as I can find.

And! I just scored a copy of the 1966 fashion classic Qui Etes-Vous Polly Maggoo? on eBay (thanks, Lola is Beauty!). I paid more than I would have liked, but it's nearly impossible to find. What really sold me was the photo inspired by the film of Balenciaga-clad models in the new Vanity Fair style issue (the snap above, from page 362-363 of the mag). For more on Polly Maggoo, you can also check out this exhaustive screen shot flickr set of the film here.

If you have any other fashion film suggestions, please keep them coming in the comments...

More Things that Make You Go Hmmm…

There's been so much coverage (some might say too much coverage) of the Balenciaga riding hat in all the fashion magazines this season (including the July Harper's Bazaar, above). But it never crossed my mind that people might actually start wearing them in normal life. Now, I've yet to see any photos of people seriously sporting riding hats around town (and I think I might laugh out loud if I do – some items just shouldn't be touched), but Susie Bubble has found some Balenciaga-ish hat contenders on eBay and she's wondering if trendy shops will start carrying them next. Oh my.

Gray, Gray, my World is Gray (And Black. And Ivory.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Everyone is just all abuzz about the cheap, chic fall collection from La Redoute, aren't they? There's some pretty cute stuff (like the above pieces by Sophia Kokosalaki). Lucky Mag has been talking up La Redoute for a while now, but I only just ordered the catalogue a few weeks ago, after I saw this very cute Marion Hanania dress on Style Bytes. And then I saw it again yesterday on Susie Bubble's fantastic round-up of gray fall fashion. It's all about gray, kids. I do my best not to get sucked into too many trends but even I couldn't resist these dark gray ballet flats, $20 at Urban Outfitters, which were purchased yesterday morn.