Friday, July 24, 2009

Bon Voyage!

Departure day has arrived!
I'm not yet packed and that makes me VERY proud of myself.
Pour quoi?
Well, two years ago almost to the day, I was offered a full-time job in France.
My plan was to work there for two years, apply to grad school for Art History, earn my PhD and teach at a university for the rest of my days.
What a perfectly tidy plan, non?

But that was exactly the problem. I had always been someone who lived by-the-book. Three days before I was meant to move to France, I turned down the job. It was time to cut the strings, allow myself to freefall for a bit, and take some time to catch up with the person I'd become in college.

And I don't regret a single minute of the last two years I've spent in NYC. This City brought me The Bunny, some amazing job opportunities, countless memories with friends new and old, and the assurance that is undoubtedly my true home.

And here I am. Traveling to France to see if, perhaps this time, I'll soon be ready to move there on different terms.
My plane departs in a few hours and I haven't packed a jot. I think that shows some progress, don't you?

Tipping this (adorable Coach) beret to you....


P.S. This is my 99th post. Number 100 will arrive from Paris! In honor of the occasion, I'm planning to give away something delightful that I find in the City of Lights. More details to come...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Keep On Keepin' On.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the importance (and history) of the "Keep Calm and Carry On" adage.

And I mentioned this phrase alone could induce me to buy a Jessica Kagan Cushman bracelet.

As luck would have it, Gilt Groupe had a JKC sale shortly thereafter....

(I always love Gilt Groupe's packaging; it takes the "sample sale" aspect out of, well, the sample sale!)

Look at that lovely hand: So calm. Carrying on with elan.

In honor of the Tour de France, which I will be catching the tail end of this very Sunday in Paris(!!), here's a little treat I found on Etsy:

Only Wednesday? Already Wednesday? Either way only a single day now stands between you and Friday, and between me and Paris!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

PERMANENT BRUNCH Has Arrived, or I Have Died and Gone to Heaven.

Do dreams come true?

Do they come true in the East Village?

Yes and Yes a million times over.

After months (years?) of teasing me with its facade and its BLUNT (but delectably so) name, Permanent Brunch is finally opening on Thursday.

I bet you can guess at the menu.

And I bet you can guess where I'll be on Thursday evening....


Friday, July 17, 2009

Things that Make Me Smile

My first true love. Here are the books I'm currently reading, to varying degrees of success:

Here's a snippet from The Bunny's extensive bookshelves; when I saw this collection early on in our courtship I knew he was a keeper:

(Apologies for the low quality of my photos. I'm relying on my Blackberry until I buy a new camera cord, which is on today's to-do list)

2) Princeton's new Bridge Program
I heard this was in the works and received an official email today with the following description:
"Twenty Princeton students will defer the start of their freshman year at Princeton this fall to spend a tuition-free enrichment period abroad focused on public service as the first participants in the University's Bridge Year Program."
I wish this had been in place when I was there, so I'm glad that 20 students are going to partake in this wonderful opportunity. I hope someday every university will offer a similar program.

3) Cynthia Rowley's tulle skirt:

(It looks better in person, and I would buy it in black.)

4) Ivanka and Jared's love.
Seriously, read this article (props to CHW for bringing it to my attention). She's my shiksa hero, and their love story is one for the ages!

5) TAG's care package.
It arrived yesterday with a note telling me that I did, in fact, deserve to veg out a bit. Thanks for being so thoughtful, for understanding me, and for bringing a huge smile to my face.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cut It Out!

As you may recall, I have really been taken with the cut-out silhouette that's become increasingly popular in the last several months.

At my birthday party in April, I wore a cut-out Cynthia Rowley dress:

This spring, I've been enamored of my cut-out Ash shoes:

I have never had so many compliments on a pair of shoes in my life--old and young, straight and gay, fashionable and not; all kinds of people tell me they love these shoes! (And they're so comfortable I know I'll be an Ash customer for life!)
I'm seeing more and more cut-out pieces on the streets of Manhattan and in stores, and thought I should write a post about some exciting pieces in this style.

This YSL reminds me of my Cynthia Rowley...just, you know, many hundreds of dollars more expensive....

Givenchy cut-out booties.
(Brittany Snow wore these in pink on the Gossip Girl spin-off, below)

Speaking of pink....

These Margielas are my most-wanted shoe of the Spring, but even at the sale price I cannot justify them. Time for the Recession (and salary freezes) to be over!

Gorgeous Ralph Laurens are a great alternative to the obnoxious bootie that dominated shoe fashion last Autumn.

Rupert Sanderson's slightly more more conventional take.

Fendi Tuxedo Jumpsuit, with really elegant cutout details at the shoulder. '70s perfection.

AMAZING Prada cut-out boot-sandals!

Just Cavalli dress. Reminds me a bit of detailing on certain Herve Legers.

Alexis Bledel in a cut-out dress.

A great collage of cut-out LBDs and friends from WhoWhatWear.
And a few looks from the Fall '09 runways: HERE
Some cut-out styles verge on seeming too-'90s, so if you think you'd look good wearing it to the Peach Pit/to prom with Zach Morris, it's best to avoid, e.g. THIS.

Which are your favorite pieces?

UPDATE: My friend CPC informs me that Donna Karan first designed the cut-out shoulder long ago and coined the silhouette "The Cold Shoulder." BRILLIANT, no? I dare you to not be madly in love with DK.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I love Paris in the summer, when it Sizzles

Do you ever get excited when you check the weather forecast for a location you're traveling to and realize that the projection includes the dates you'll be there??!! That's what happened to me today!

75 and partly cloudy? I'll take it!

Just to answer some questions I've been asked regarding this trip: I have indeed been to Paris before and The Bunny once lived there for 6 months. When we were selecting our travel destination we selected Paris because we both prefer to visit a city where we've already made the exhausting and frantic trek to all the tourist sites and can spend our time relaxing instead. There are, of course, a million other reasons for us to go there: 1) It's Paris, 2) Our dear friends MLPC and FV live there, 3) The food....the food...., 4) Les Soldes are in Juillet!, and the list goes on and on...

I can hardly wait!

CJM at the Palais Royal in 2005 channeling Audrey Hepburn in "Charade."

Jusqu'a 9 jours....

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Food For Thought: Other People's Opinions

Apropos of nothing, I was thinking today about a quote I recently heard:

"What other people think about you is none of your business."

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? And Why?


Monday, July 13, 2009

Still no camera cord...but....

I had an amazing weekend. I wish I could post my photos to show you how fun it was!

Celebrated my co-worker and friend NDL's art exhibit opening at a shop/gallery hybrid on the Lower East Side. Though it may not be my personal aesthetic I can, as an art history major, appreciate N's fine work. Check it out here: Skull and Tree. Cheers to NDL!

My Princeton gals joined me for the exhibit and then we walked a few block over to the excellent LES resto, A Casa Fox. We had such fun. The food was delightful, particularly the empanadas which are the restaurant's speciality. The place is truly adorable and highly recommended. I should note that they take great care with their floral arrangements which add such a pleasant touch to an otherwise rustic-themed (Mexican Shabby Chic? It's quite cute) venue and I really find that attention to the small details wins me over every time. Wish I had the photos to prove it!

MVG and I had brunch in NoLIta at the adorable and delicious French-Moroccan resto Cafe Gitane. The waitresses wear matching green jumpers that are too cute for words. The food is fantastic; I had a mozzarella, tapenade and tomato sandwich on focaccia bread. The warm weather, bright sunlight and pleasant summer breeze coming in through the open door were magnificient. It was the PERFECT summer day.

Following brunch, MVG and I meandered through the shops of SoHo, the West Village (where we passed former Imitation of Christ designer Tara Subkoff), and the Meatpacking District (where I tried on literally every pair of sale shoes at Jeffrey), and finally worked our way to our final destination: The NY Kayak Company! Located at Pier 40 on the Hudson River, the NY Kayak Co. offers free kayaking to any and all who visit and sign a waiver. Typically there is a 20 minute kayaking maximum, but because the weekend was fairly quiet we were allowed to be on the water as long as we liked. It's incredibly pleasant to be in NYC but feel as if you're in the middle of a country lake (a country lake that happens to have a view of New Jersey...). We enjoyed an hour on the water and caught up on our girl talk. I highly recommend this wonderful and unique experience!

As we wound our way back through the West Village to get to the East Village, we noticed that Westville was offering Sloppy Joes; this is my favorite dish at my favorite restaurant and it is served only once in a blue moon. (Note: Westville and Westville East are my favorite restaurants in the entire City. To say that I've eaten there at least 100 times in the past 2 years would NOT be an exaggeration; if anything, it's an underestimate.) MVG and I split the sloppy joe and a piece of blueberry pie and took our full bellies back to the East Village where we lounged in my apartment and chatted until late into the night hours.

CMM and I met up at the Lilly store, then walked down to the French Institute's Bastille Day celebration on 60th Street between Park and Fifth Avenues. I had a waffle from Augustin's Waffles and CMM and I sat in Central Park while I delighted in the Nutella topping. We then worked off the waffle by walking down to Westville East (I wasn't kidding when I said I eat here a lot) at 11th Street and Avenue A (we walked at least 68 blocks and a few avenues) and were both famished (again) by the time we arrived. My friend MM from Princeton happened to pass by on the sidewalk and came in and joined us for a few minutes of conversation. Turns out she's in a new play that opens this week--go see it if you can! "I Stand for Nothing."

All in all, a great weekend. (Photos coming soon...)

Looking forward to this four-day week (Summer Friday this week!) and then...

Happy Monday,

Friday, July 10, 2009

Food for Thought: "Casual Friday"?

I laugh when I hear people discuss "casual Friday." In this day and age, how is a "casual" Friday a departure from the dress code on the other four weekdays?

People wear jeans to work. ALL THE TIME. Women wear relaxed dresses that reveal plunging necklines, open backs, and bare shoulders that are better suited to cocktail hour on a yacht (or, depending on the dress, to a bar in Jersey) than to sitting in a conference room. I know someone who introduced "Formal Fridays" to his company as a way to make Fridays special again since the "casual" theme was hopelessly redundant.

I think it's nice to relax silly standards sometimes. I appreciate that the dot-com era introduced a relaxed-cool philosophy best embodied by Steve Jobs' black turtleneck and jeans uniform. Why would he wear a suit when he's Steve Jobs? Who does he need to impress? I once heard that Sam Walton drove around in his favorite beat-up pickup truck despite his millions because if people judged him he'd just cry all the way to the bank.

BUT. Most people are not Steve Jobs or Sam Walton and should therefore contemplate what their clothes say about them.

I have always loved clothes for their transformative powers. Think about the fun of dressing up as a child. Consider Cinderella...Pygmalion...My Fair Lady...Pretty Woman...Clueless...the makeover in attitude makes a huge difference but the clothes can turn a guttersnipe into a countess.

F. Scott Fitzgerald wisely observed the following in his short story "Bernice Bobs Her Hair":
"When a girl feels that she's perfectly groomed and dressed she can forget that part of her.
That's charm.
The more parts of yourself you can afford to forget, the more charm you have."

I have always loved dressing up. I don't wear pants and don't even waste my time looking at them when I shop. Perhaps one day when I achieve Catherine Deneuve's physique I'll find some divine pair of sailor trousers or palazzo pants and go to town. Until then, dresses are the best fit for my body and my philosophy. A younger friend of mine wrote an email to me within the first few weeks of her freshman year at college and noted, "Whenever I wear dresses everyone always asks me why I am so dressed up; I knew you would understand."

Unless I put my best foot forward, I don't feel like I CAN move forward. In college I dressed up for exams, believing that if I felt ready to seize the day the test would be just one more item on my to-do list rather than the inevitable disaster I rolled out of bed in sweatpants to contend with.

I'm not suggesting that anyone buy into the gimmicks of the fashion world (just because I do it doesn't mean you have to). You don't have to spend more money than you can afford and you don't have to change who you are. But wearing sneakers, tshirts and jeans everywhere will hardly earn the respect of your peers. Don't be afraid to look great. Don't shy away from being perfectly put together. Embrace what's beautiful about the world and make every day lovely!

Happy Weekend!


Last night my lovely friend LAB and I had a WONDERFUL dinner at craftbar. Some restaurants coast for years on the momentum of their previously-established reputations or on the fame of their chef, but the several-years-old craftbar offered nothing but top of the line service from the moment I entered the door.

It's hard to describe good restaurant service without sounding trite (e.g. "The hostess opened the door for me") but my time at craftbar was composed of many of these shining moments that added up to a truly enjoyable and memorable experience.

Here's LAB enjoying her summer squash puree soup. Everything we ate was so excellent.

I indulged in Tom's (as in Colicchio) famous veal meatballs and added orecchiette to round out the the meal. I truly enjoyed each and every bite. It was so much food that I could only eat half of my serving and wrapped up the remainder, planning on having an excellent lunch of leftovers today.

Three-and-a-half hours flew by while dining with the delightful LAB; I always have such a great time with her. Following our meal, we strolled to her apartment and then I took a long walk home, thinking all the while about how I couldn't wait to eat the meatballs the next day. Right before I turned onto my street I was approached by two homeless people who kindly asked if I would give them my leftovers. I am a sucker for such things and handed over the goods. (Maybe this builds up my account in the karma bank and keeps muggers away?)

Anyway, I woke up this morning still craving Tom Colicchio's epicurean magic. After very little arm-twisting I was able to get my co-worker to accompany me to 'wichcraft. Behold the magic:

That sly, come hither's 'wichcraft!

Next on my list: craft and craftsteak.
Thanks to our friend The Recession, there's extra incentive to visit the latter: "Halfsteak"!
Here's the description from UrbanDaddy: "From the goodness of his beef-loving heart, Tom Colicchio is transforming the front room of Craftsteak into "Halfsteak," serving the same gorgeous steak at half the price. As sweeteners, they've got Fried Oysters and a $15 ceiling for the menu."

Yes, please!
Happy Dining,

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What to wear to the TEA PARTAY?

I was just chatting with my dear friend and fashion advisor, TAG, about my feelings on Preppy fashion and decided to share my thoughts.

There are two flavors of preppy style that consistently turn my stomach:

1) Girls who follow Prep stereotypes to a T. You know the kind. They throw on an ill-fitting, too-thickly knit polo (or, depending on the season, a wonky cableknit sweater), a pair of unflattering madras shorts or a boxy mini-skirt, pull their hair into a sideways ponytail with a sloppy grosgrain bow, slip on some masculine flip flops and call it a day. If your outfit looks like a Halloween costume parody of Prep style, then you haven't given it an original twist. Your attire merely expresses how desperately you wish to be labeled in a category that doesn't exactly fit you. I am never impressed by this.
2) Girls who wear J.Crew head-to-toe. Personal style is about PERSONALIZATION. Letting Jenna Lyons dictate every element of your wardrobe selections is such a pathetic thing to do when the world is full of many wonderful options for your ensembles.

Jackie O. became the Prepsters' idol through her simple color palette and well tailored pieces. Not a hint of madras, pique cotton, or grosgrain in sight.

My absolute favorite fashion book ever, Women's Wardrobe, instilled in me everything I believe about style. One of the wise quotes in there explains that the *HINT* of nudity is so much more sensual and INTERESTING than the real thing. I couldn't agree more. And that explains why I love Preppy style. I adore the idea that things can be prim and proper with just a dash of naughtiness; that the line between propriety and misbehavior could be crossed at any moment. Why else would I love Lilly Pulitzer beyond all other prep brands? Have you seen her WILD and snarky prints from the '60s and '70s? Pick up a copy of the 50th Anniversary Retrospective Catalog or click HERE to view a short restrospective video: The woman was totally Bohemian, and a real envelope pusher in polite Palm Beach society.

I also think that this seeming dichotomy between proper and playful is what makes the white oxford shirt absolutely genius. It's always toeing the line. Take a look at this Estee Lauder Sensuous campaign and tell me that you disagree:

Murf's Favorite "Preppy" Places to Shop:
1) Burberry
2) Rugby Ralph Lauren
3) Kate Spade
AND, as you well know,
4) Lilly Pulitzer

Happy Shopping!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Coucou, mes amis! Je suis retournee!

I'm back! I cannot find my camera cord so I can't upload any photos from my adventures over the last week or so. Until I do, however, I'll leave you with three fun tidbits that have recently made me smile...they're all a little irreverent, verging on snarky:

"I wear my Sunglasses at night" sleep mask.

"Cute as a button" boutonnieres.
When my sister was in high school, she had prom boutonnieres/corsages made for herself and her date out of red chili peppers once, and baby carrots another time. I have always been a traditionalist, yet I couldn't help but admire that she took a boring custom and gave it an avant-garde twist.

Normally I don't like graphic tees, and would never wear something this unladylike, but this doesn't mean I can't appreciate a great variation on a theme, and the general snarky-ness of it all!