Archive for October, 2011

All Work And No Play…

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

It’s that freaky/fun time of year when dressing-up like someone else is encouraged, regardless of your age. (Although dressing like dead, outdated or imaginary dudes is something I personally recommend doing all year round).

As it’s Halloween month, BBC America’s been playing Kubrick’s The Shining seven or eight times a week, and re-watching it for the first time in forever has led me to seek out a little Cabin Fever Chic for my late fall wardrobe.

Faded plaid flannel would be the most Jack Torrance-ish shirting I could hope to hunt down, but the perfect 1979-ish print’s been hiding from me (somewhere deep in that snowy maze, I suspect).

This button down oxford from Club Monaco seems to suggest a shamed prep-school teacher turned hotel-caretaker though, and is just the right shade of old Colorado Tan. Woven with a subtle undertint, it almost makes the shirt literally “Shine”.

These red-soled suede shoes from Quoddy were my first steps toward my transition into a Torrance. I can just as easily see Jack pairing them with pajama bottoms and a cableknit fisherman’s sweater as I can imagine Wendy tying them on over some red tights and a corduroy jumper dress.

The real trick in turning into a 1980 Torrance though is wearing a thick, insipid turtleneck under just about everything.

And then accessorizing with either a roque mallet or a hatchet. (Club Monaco just sold out of theirs, so I’ve been walking around town miming that I’m clutching one instead).

I’m 167 pages into the original book now. It’s not as inspirational as the film, sartorially – but it’s sadder and not so sarcastic. And hopefully by the end I’ll maybe work out how to rock bloody bathrobes as ready-to-wear.

Until then, creeps, REDRUM and Happy Halloween!

New York Stories pt. 3

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Saturday morning we wandered through Brooklyn and into a new shop called Goose Barnacle where I shuffled through thirty or so assorted packs of Afro-jelly bracelets to select the perfect color combination.

At the Barney’s Co-op we met up with Yuko whose lovely New York life I’ve followed on the internet and Twitter for years. She suggested we walk to an old Pharmacy turned Soda Fountain which sounded super to me.

I tried to select something that wouldn’t ruin my upcoming stop at the Shake Shack, so I went for the Red Velvet Twinkie Sundae. While we snacked Yuko told us about the dream-like shopping in Japan, and we recounted our survival story of being stranded in Paris last Spring at the hands of the Icelandic volcano.

We stopped into a few more hipster-worthy stores on our way back to the subway. Yuko mentioned she doesn’t actually venture into Brooklyn that often because she has a hard enough time stopping herself from buying clothes and shoes and important stuff like that all throughout Manhattan. That’s pretty much half the reason to know and love her!

Another New York blogger, Kwannam, told me about the Cured Olive Shortbread Cookies at a coffee shop called Abraco, so later in the day I tracked one down and adored its offbeat amazing-ness. I think I’ll try and bake some at home myself, sometime sorta soon.

Our final day in New York began at Barney’s where I’d wanted to see their R&Y Augousti accessories since I’m never fast enough to add any of them to my cart when they show up on Gilt. I’ve totally got a thing for shagreen, and after leaving the shop without anything, we trekked all the way back later in the day and bagged one of the boxes above!

I’m always way early for everything, so while wasting time until our lunch reservation we walked past the Apple Store to witness firsthand the fan memorials to the life and work of Steve Jobs. I actually got pretty choked up seeing all the people weeping and hugging and laying down their tributes to the man who changed the world. It’s been such an exciting and impacting decade or so; I guess my almost-tears were a silent little “thank you”.

Needing a AAA battery for the plane ride home, we then darted into a Duane Reader drugstore, where I added a bag of Utz Potato Chips to my souvenir stash. Cuz you don’t see Utz in Minneapolis very often, and Don Draper did do their creative, after all.

The day’s main event was a grand tour of Bergdorf Goodman’s, the retail kingdom where the turban-crowned Kelly Wearstler is now reigning queen.

Having just added clothing and accessories to her brazen line of brassy home goods, our tour climaxed with a two-and-a-half course lunch in the Wearstler-designed BG restaurant.

The best thing about a vacation to a big city is you can curate it with only the topmost shops, and the snappiest snacks, and the most atmospheric eateries, making it as if, for those four or five days, you live in a time and place where everything is beautiful.

Cause that’s the kind of time and place in which we should all be living.

New York Stories pt. 2

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Our first full day in New York began at the Doughnut Plant. It wasn’t situated near any of the shops we’d assigned ourselves to visit, but when there’s playful Pistachio, Creme Brulée, and Peanut Butter Frosted/Jelly Filled doughnuts baked fresh in the city I’m waking up in, I’m gonna do whatever needs to be done to try them out.

The bulk of the day was spent in Soho. There were very few shops I cared to return to from my 2005 visit to New York, but Opening Ceremony was definitely one of them.

Although last time the shop was just a floor and a half worth of inventory, and now its spread out over two adjacent buildings with staircase after staircase leading to endless levels of sequin bow ties for him and lucite pumps for her.

The two-headed or pinata-topped mannequins throughout were every bit as kooky-cool as the merchandise. I’d thought about picking up a Carhartt blazer for myself there, but like every blazer manufactured anywhere in the Milky Way since the early 1920’s, even the Small was way too Not-Small for me.

To keep up our strength we stopped into the Mariebelle Chocolate shop where I ordered a hellishly hot Banana/Milk Chocolate drink.

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced Hot Chocolate so thick it needs to literally be chewed, but now you at least know someone who has. I almost needed a damn fork to finish my “drink”.

Near the end of the day, my shopping dry-spell was broken at last when a mix-matched set of vintage Italian dishes were snatched up at Aero, and a sparkly slab of pyrite was unearthed at Evolution. On the subway ride back to the hotel, I started to realize I was going to need to base the success of my New York trip on something other than how many shopping-bags worth of sweaters and bookends I slammed into my suitcase once it was over. I vowed to enjoy my visit, and my hunt for new treasures, regardless of how much I ended up buying/not buying.

While still in Minneapolis, I’d made dinner reservations for Friday night at the Oyster Bar under Grand Central Station.

It seemed just the sort of place Holden Caufield would’ve weaseled his way into and then out of, filled with all sorts of over-drawn characters.

In fact we sat at a table next to two college prep pricks who, now that I think about it, I know Holden would’ve royally hated.

But watching the almost fictional-feeling Taiwanese tourists, and lackadaisical latin waiters, and jock-itchy jerks around you is exactly what makes dining at The Oyster Bar so Salinger-esque, and so New York.

New York Stories pt. 1

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

I’ve returned from my whirlwind trip to The Big Apple, having attempted to spruce up both my home and my closet through five jam-packed days of carefully scheduled shopping. I hadn’t visited the city since 2005, and I don’t recall exactly what was going on in menswear at that time – but the fact that I can’t remember probably says it all.

We stayed at the famed Algonquin Hotel, the oldest operating hotel in New York City where Dorothy Parker snarked her afternoons away at the round table during the 1920s. The entire lobby is essentially one large club filled with wheelers and dealers slowly sipping Manhattans before rushing back out again to rule our world.

The hotel is so old that the footsteps of thousands upon thousands of guests have worn down the marble stairs over the years into a rippled time-lapse image of time passing. The steps at Versailles in Paris were like that too, and I always find it beautiful; the way it makes one think about what lasts in this life, and what does not.

After check-in, the first day was spent in a string of stores not far from the hotel. First on seven full floors of the ABC Home department store…

Then at the epic Eataly emporium, filled with edibles both imported and in-house, where elbowing your way through the crazy-making crowds will reward you with fantastically floppy anchovy pizzas and sparkling Euro drinks.

Late in the afternoon I manhandled some mid-century pieces in the loft area of Nepenthes…

Then caught my reflection in a pair of crazy copper Duckie Brown wingtips. But after my first full day of treasure hunting, I returned to the hotel empty handed.

Our first dinner was enjoyed at Schiller’s Liquor Bar on Rivington Street.

There, in the candlelight, I tried to figure out if any of the old-looking subway tiles were original to the location. Stumped, I scanned the next day’s itinerary, hoping extra hard that a splurge-y purchase was just one good night’s sleep away.

Right About Now…

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

I’ve been wearing this approximate outfit almost every day built around three recent finds.

1) Pointer Brand Chore Coat that the Buckshot Sonny’s dudes hooked me up with last month. For a manual labor-like coat, I tend to actually feel a little more snazzed-up than usual when I slip this coat on and sorta snap up its collar. It’s maybe the extra crispy crunch of the coat’s duck canvas.

2) Imogene + Willie speckled cream jeans in the brand’s higher-rise and therefore more mid-60s feeling fit they call The Willie. They read bright ‘n white on screen but in person they’re more of a heather-ed oatmeal, giving the jeans a heartier, more hardware-store kind of feel I’m quite keen on.

3) And last, but prob’ly not least, a fresh pair of Red Wing 2126 boots. Apparently the deal with this style is that Red Wing stopped manufacturing them “officially” except for once a year, selling the small lot of them down around Texas where they’re especially popular. The 2126s come boxed with round, golden, workman laces, but I threaded in flat, brown ones off Amazon to make ’em a little more mysterious and less bulldozer-driver-like.

So 1, 2, 3 and I’m pretty much good to go each morning. I haven’t found a shirt, even in the shadows of my closet, that refuses to work well with the rest of this outfit.

RTH Shop

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

When I recently was sorting out which coast to select as the stage for a fall shopping spree, everything that New York has to offer was nearly trumped by the rough-hewn cool of a single Los Angeles store: West Hollywood’s RTH Shop.

I’m dead serious when I say I think I’ve had at least four separate dreams about visiting the shack-chic store since I stumbled upon it on the internet last fall.

The creative outpost for former Club Monaco, Polo, and J. Crew visionary Rene Holguin, RTH Shop stocks its shelves with a unique take on Americana that’s earthier and artier than the standardized Dean ‘n McQueen curriculum of USA cool.

Drawing from the beauty and materials of our country’s original artisans, the American Indians, RTH offers unisex leather and suede bags and accessories crafted on-site.

Tribal pieces carefully selected from around the world mix with RTH’s creations, layering with new and vintage ponchos and wide-legged pants to suggest the randomly rugged wardrobe Ansel Adams and Georgia O’Keeffe might have shared during one of their winters out west.

I purchased a trio of pieces from RTH over the phone in January and instantly found that even one little dose of Adobe-style cool  lends one’s outfit a unique and eclectic edge.

I’m aiming to finally step into the store in real life and make those four dreams of mine come true. If I can get New York Retail out of my system this fall, then next I’ll definitely be booking an extended stay in L.A. as close as I can to RTH.