To Tie or Not to Tie: That is the Question

Thursday, January 31, 2008

We have an ongoing fashion debate in our household (at least, in as much as Mike will humor me about discussing style stuff) and that is over tie-neck tops. He finds them a bit too precious. Whereas I'm like: "Bows! Bows! Bows! The bigger, the better! Wheeee!"* Which is the immediate response I had to this highly adorable Marc by Marc Jacobs shantung vest, seen on ASJiNE. Thoughts?

And! Just as I was writing this, I spotted this totally awesome bow ensemble on Tricia's Wardrobe Remix recap (plus, it has a charming handmade quality that seems way more fiscally responsible than Marc's $300 price tag). I now declare myself to be firmly back on the bow bandwagon, any preciousness be damned:

*I'm pretty sure this is quite literally the reaction I have in my head, give or take a "wheeee".

Etsy Love

Design*Sponge has a nice little round-up of Etsy finds today. We don't know about you, but we find Etsy to be perfectly wonderful but completely overwhelming, and we're always really happy when people point us to the good stuff, like the retro print from JennSki, $39, above.

Share With the Group Friday: Currently on Thursday!

We looked at our Bloglines account this morning and realized that we now read 226 blogs on a regular basis – the overwhelming majority of which are fashion- and design-related (though we also admit we have a huge weakness for celebrity gossip and adorable kittens). We're adding amazing new blogs to the list every day – there's so much good stuff out there, we can barely keep up.

And so, we thought we'd ask you, dear readers: What blogs are at the top of your must-read list? We have too many favorites to try and name them all, so we thought we'd just list our newest favorites, in no particular order.

We're really digging:
--the inspiring personal style of Fashion Toast;
--the highly adorable Poppytalk, and her incredibly helpful Etsy Pick of the Day;
--Etsy's own blog Storque (featuring Tricia this week!);
--total fashion fun at That's Chic;
--and a new burst of Singapore street style at WAYW (we especially love the extra info in the snappy q&as).

OK, your turn. What blogs are burning up your bookmarks these days?

{Add to Friends t-shirt via Swissmiss. I just couldn't resist.}

Smart girls love fashion too

Gorgeous designs aside, the thing that always impresses me about Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte is their inexhaustible knowledge of obscure pop culture and historical references. They seem like they'd be awesome – if slightly intimidating – to sit next to at a dinner party. I'm especially enjoying their Top 10 Criterion Collection film picks, found via Cat Party. It's added a whole new dimension to my Netflix queue.

Their website is full of gorgeous photographs of the various stages of their spring 2008 collection. I only picked out a few favorites to show here, but it's total fashion eye candy. Definitely check it out.

One for you youngsters…

How much do I start sounding like Grandma* when I say that sometimes fashion just moves way too fast for my liking? {Bangs cane on ground.} I'm still buying pieces from this year's fall/winter collections; I'm in no way ready to start thinking about what I want to be wearing leading up to next fall. (Plus! There's still six months of gorgeously bright spring/summer styles to get excited about!) That said, I'm totally loving these images of the Lanvin pre-fall collection. So pretty and moody and detailed -- not to mention something to look forward to… eventually.

*Sorry, Grandma. You know I don't mean you literally. {Mwah!}

Perfectly poufy and party-worthy

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I really, really love this vintage-inspired party dress by Unique Vintage's own line, Grayson Sofia, via ASJiNE (whose regular "If I had a Sugar Daddy…" feature is threatening to make us very poor. So. Many. Good. Finds!) At just $98, it's completely reasonable and totally adorable. {Hmmm... though slightly less reasonable when you buy the $50 crinoline underskirt.} Now I just need a place to wear it. Ummmm… would anyone like to invite us to a party?

P.S.) I know it looks a little brownish, but it's actually black.

So. Incredibly. Splurge-Worthy.

Loewe is an LVMH-owned Spanish luxury brand that's really huge in Europe and Asia, but almost unheard of in the U.S. and nearly impossible to find (according to the website, its only American retail locations are in the San Francisco airport and Honolulu). Which is probably why it's so appealing to me – that, and the fact the Mulberry alum Stuart Vevers is now helming the brand's design team.

Walking by the Beijing store the other day, several gorgeous bags caught my eye – in particular, the "Fiesta" model (which comes in some fantastic super-saturated colors, including – special note to reader Kimmy! – a fab "strawberry" hot pink). I love the classic, oversized shape and the just-distinctive-enough leather link detailing. Perhaps I should start saving now for my next trip abroad?

P.S. I was trying to be good and didn't tempt myself by asking the saleswoman the price. Can any of my readers abroad check it out and share with the group how much it would set us back? Not including the plane ticket, of course.

P.P.S. After a *lot* of internet-ing, I'm reasonably convinced that the brand's name is correctly pronounced "Luay-vay". Although there are many people who insist it is pronounced more like "Loy-vay". Would anyone like to weigh in on this?

Desperately Coveted, Part 491 of 1,237

For the past few months I've been majorly obsessed with the Christian Louboutin Simple 85 Pumps, particularly in a glossy hot pink. (But – fyi to Fashion Fairy Godmother - black patent would work really well too, and would be perhaps a teensy bit more practical.) I have to stop and drool every time I pass them in a boutique, most recently Beijing's amazing Lane Crawford department store this past weekend. Thankfully, they don't stock my size; otherwise, I might not have been able to hold myself back. Must… resist… round-toed amazingness…

When Coco met Mao…

I guess Karl Lagerfeld must have gotten inspired during his China trip for the Fendi Great Wall show last fall: The backdrop for last week's Chanel couture show (above) bears a remarkable resemblance to the oversized Mao jacket sculpture in Beijing's 798 art complex (below, and which I happened to walk by just the other day). I suppose we can just infer that both the Chanel jacket and Mao suit are iconic items, but I'm not entirely sure it's the cultural reference they want to be aiming for?

How do you say "fantastic deal" in Swedish?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

This amazing Japanese-published book of the works of Swedish graphic designer Olle Eksell was incredibly popular among the blogosphere last year – so much so that even Urban Outfitters picked up on it and stocked it for Christmas. But I guess the general crowd that shops the Georgetown UO wasn't privy to the hype, because a stack of the books ended up on the clearance rack a few weeks ago, where I've been watching them sit and sit. The price just dropped again to $9.99 and I finally swooped in a snagged a copy. It's really a fabulous book – plus I congratulated myself on my bargain shopping prowess by applying the saved $30 to a cute new top. Which itself cost $50. Hmmm, so maybe it wasn't quite the bargain after all.

*Random side note 1: While scouring the UO clearance section (as I am known to do), I got distracted by an employee taking a hammer to box after box of piggy banks in the basement corner. Turns out that UO doesn't ship non-sold items that are breakable back to their warehouses, so they literally just destroy them. With a hammer, apparently. The staffer told me that they do donate non-breakables to the Salvation Army, but the fragile items – like piggy banks – get smashed up and thrown away. Seems like an enormous waste, no? I'm sure those piggy banks could find a good home somewhere.

*Random side note 2: These images were cobbled together from around the Internet, but mostly here and here.

*Random side note 3: Don't despair if you don't have a well-stocked UO clearance rack near you. The book is only $32.36 from Amazon, which isn't too bad for such a gorgeous find, especially when you start taking into account all the expensive gas you're saving by not having to go pick it up. Yes, I am a master at self-justification.

Coming full circle

I treated myself to a little browsing session at Prada the other day (not to buy, just some very indulgent looking around.) It had been a while since I'd been in, and I went absolutely crazy over their latest pieces -- specifically, the skirts. Oh, the skirts! I love a swingy circle skirt as much as the next vintage lover, and this spring, Prada seems to have gotten it all right with the colorful patterns and thick fabrics and absolutely classic silhouette. Last season's pencil skirt wasn't really for me, and the maxi skirt is just too much trouble to bother with, but a full circle skirt – when done well and in the right proportions – is always just so completely feminine and gorgeous. The Prada ones are extra-amped (perhaps it's the stiffer fabric, or bit of crinoline underneath, or both) for an exaggerated, ultra-retro shape. *Love.*

I think the blue and red one is my favorite:

I'm kind of digging the crazy-funky men's loafers too.

We don't make mistakes. We have happy little accidents.*

So the other day, I accidentally mistyped "gmail" and ended up at the design blog, which is really quite cool. (Also a very smart ploy on their part.) I immediately got sucked in by this post on artist Jen Stark, whose paper sculptures have been featured around the blogosphere a few times, but whose work is so incredible that it's certainly worth another look. Imagine how amazing it would be if she used these techniques to make dresses?

*In the immortal words of the incomparable Mr. Bob Ross.

Start spreading the news…

It has been quite an incredible week over here at Spinach Headquarters. To start, we are back from our fantastic trip to Beijing, with two stuffed-to-the-max suitcases in tow, which have now exploded on the living room floor. (There was a lot of squeezing and squishing and somewhat unattractive grunting to get them to close.) Luckily, I suppose, there is not much laundry to do, as I managed to wear my charcoal gray, tunic-length, dramatically funnel-necked Ted Baker sweater almost round-the-clock this week (it being extremely cute but also the warmest thing we brought. Note to self: Arsenal of adorable little dresses and peep-toe patent heels not so practical for bitterly cold Beijing January.) We are very happy to be home.

Bonus good luck: The Super Shuttle dropped us off first! That never happens.

Then, we were alerted to yesterday's Newsday, which said some very nice things about us (toward the bottom, if you're looking). Excuse our happy surprise, but: wow. {update} Our co-"It blogger" and daily must-read Daddy Likey made us laugh out loud with the title of her post on the write-up.

And now, we are slowly unpacking and slowly repacking in anticipation of heading off to New York this weekend. Because, as you may have guessed from our various elusive references these past few weeks, Gucci has invited us up to New York as part of the festivities for their New York flagship reopening (including a big party, co-hosted by Madonna. Um. !!!). We're excited to meet the other fashion blogger-types and catch up with the always lovely Susie Bubble, who has cheerfully been discussing outfit options with us via e-mail these past few weeks. (Er, because isn't that what one immediately starts obsessing about the moment one is invited to some big fancy bash?) No, we have absolutely no idea what to wear (okay, we have a few ideas, but we haven't quite made up our mind yet). And yes, we are really, really excited and somewhat amazed and a teensy bit bewildered. But mostly excited. Immediately upon arrival, we plan on jumping up and down on our fancy hotel bed and ordering a big pink drink with an umbrella from room service. In the Eloise spirit of things and all. Want to join me?

In the meantime, we return to our normal schedule of offering up lots of cute things and other fashiony musings.

More from China...

Monday, January 28, 2008

I've posted some of my China photos from this week over on the other site, if such things are of interest to you. The Bird's Nest + funny Beijing cab drivers = love.

Meet Eloise. She is six.

I can't say I have a lot of obvious fashion influences. I think I tend to cobble together lots of little ideas from a wide range of resources, whether it's more traditional sources like magazines, TV (mostly Gossip Girl these days, if I'm being completely honest) and people I see on the street, or a little more abstract sources like photography, art, all my traveling, even books.

Which probably explains why my current fashion hero is the adorably unique Eloise, star of the iconic children's book by Kay Thompson and illustrated by Hilary Knight about a funny little girl living in New York's famed Plaza Hotel. She's wildly creative, absolutely quirky, highly imaginative, very opinionated and completely adorable. Not a bad package to aspire to, no? Here are some shots from the book (my well-worn copy of which still lives on the bedside table at my childhood bedroom in Delaware). Plus: Pink pantaloon-style underpants? *Love.*

Wish you were here!

Friday, January 25, 2008

I was over in the central part of the city yesterday, and decided pop over to Tiananmen Square for a quick little photo op. Feelings on Mao aside, when I lived here I always got such a kick about having an international landmark practically in my backyard. It's still one of my favorite spots in all of Beijing – a place where you can see people from all over China, an area with so much history, and tons of guards in some fantastically cool earflappy hats. (Who don't like having their pictures taken, apparently. Sorry about the blurriness, but I think you can get the idea.)

Note to self: Find Chinese earflappy hat before departure on Monday.

Sweaters and sushi and Starbucks, oh my!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

+FYI, "Week o' China" is now officially "Day o' China, Plus a Few Scattered Posts". I'd forgotten how annoying the censored Chinese internet can be (I miss unblocked Blogspot!). Plus, I've been running around Beijing marveling at amazing architecture and working, working, working. Okay, and watching the entirety of Ugly Betty season 1. Can you believe I haven't seen it yet? *Love.*

+The kitties are apparently waiting for me at home with gifts of amazing faux fur shrugs from Junction Vintage (a small but sweet little vintage emporium on U Street, where I was coveting said shrug last week). I head back to the U.S. on Monday and I can't wait. I'm having a complete blast in Beijing – I seriously love this city so much; there is just something new and fascinating around every corner - but really, there's no place like home. Especially if home is even slightly warmer than the sub-zero temperatures and the absolutely blustery, bone-chilling winds we've been experiencing here this week.

+I must thank my fellow Singaporean blogger Chubby Hubby and his fab assistant Daphne for taking me to lunch yesterday at Hatsune (a.k.a. my favorite sushi place ever, thanks in part to a fantastic dish called the Moto-roll-ah. It is heaven on a plate, I tell you). Also, let it be known that ordering lunch for a well-known food blogger is more stressful than one should be in the noon hour.

+Susie Bubble and I are currently freaking out over the same fashion dilemmas. Which is kind of reassuring.

+And, have you submitted your votes for the Fashion Blogger Awards? I found it just insanely hard to narrow down. Don't say I didn't warn you.

+You must click here and here. Trust me.

+I am also a little embarrassed to report that I have been wearing the same sweater for the past three days. It is the warmest thing I brought, by far, so I will probably keep wearing it until I leave (or until it starts smelling badly of secondhand smoke and fried meats, whichever comes first). Yes, it is really that cold here.

I'm off to swill some coffee and think (rather excitedly) about what to have for lunch!

Week 'o China Starts *Now*

Monday, January 21, 2008

Howdy from Beijing! So far it has been a blur of dumplings and napping. I really thought I had this jet lag thing under control by now, but I've been incredibly wiped out since arriving and most productive between the hours of 3am and noon. Which is great for morning meetings; not so much for a full day's work. We hope to have the situation resolved shortly. There are so many cool things going on right outside that we definitely do not want to miss!

As a nod to our travel destination this week, we're going to be a little heavy on the Chinese inspiration, starting with the new Pirelli Calendar, via the fab Priya. Shot by Patrick Demarchelier in Shanghai, I particularly love the hazy, saturated colors and the deep textures to many of the shots. (Some of the styling – particularly that whole "chopsticks and flowers in hair" thing that tends to typify "Asian shoots" feels a bit… overdone, but it's still lovely to look at nonetheless. I mean, if you're going to go ahead and stick some flowers in your hair, at least they're a breathtaking spray of orchids. No?)

OK. Off to succumb to a sleeping pill and get a good night's rest. I've got places to go!