Tuesday, August 9, 2011

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’" - Fred Rogers

Sunday, August 7, 2011


As some of you may know, I'm generally engaged to somebody or other. And as you may also know, this means I have a wedding dress in reserve. (I'm being flippant because it's all very fraught and serious and full of heartbreak and happiness, really.) Anyway, the dress is a stunner and was made by Mary Adams. I'm ashamed to admit that I totally missed the book she did with Amy Sedaris (whose whimsical frocks she makes) last fall, The Party Dress. I have ordered it. I doubt I can sew anything as gorgeous as all that, but even if it's just to learn more about this fascinating, indomitable lady and her story it'll be money well spent.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dolls and Men at Yale

Growing up, Rumer Godden's sad, sinister, wonderfully detailed doll stories were some of my favorite children's books. What luck to find this (peculiar) 1980s TV adaptation on YouTube!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Petite Sophisticate Gets Dressed

So a friend of mine just suggested I share a few of my work-clothes resources. While I am by no means an expert, I have worked out a system that -- so far! -- has served me well.

First things first: I identified a basic silhouette/aesthetic to which I'd adhere, and ruthlessly threw away everything in my closet that didn't. Well, I didn't throw it away -- I gave it to friends. Working with my age/figure/hair, it seemed pretty clear I'd want to go retro -- but more minimalist and less Mad Men, if that makes sense. I decided to stick to a limited palette and keep lines simple and unadorned. Here's where I've gotten most things:

I splurged on a few pair of good, basic pumps, but I still got them on sale -- I made Google alerts for the styles I wanted and the word "Sale" and struck when they became available (I'd already tried them on for size in person.) I have one rosy nude pair from Rupert Sanderson and a taupe pair from Barneys Co-Op. I have my eye on a gray set from Common Projects, but it needs to come way down. I don't care for black shoes in summer.

I am not a bag person -- I usually just carry my TPR tote nowadays -- but I invested in a neutral clutch I can slip into my briefcase or tote and take out when I run to lunch or am doing something after work. (Again: Google alerts are your friend!)

Dresses Etc.:

My uniform is a linen pencil dress -- or pencil skirt and blouse. I got lucky on Etsy with a few vintage scores (which I then had altered at either Nelson Tailors or Seoul Tailor) but as we all know that's a crap-shoot, and I'm much more inclined to go for vintage-style, without the retro seaming or fabrication.

ASOS.com has been a lifesaver: specifically their linen pencil dress. I got these in a few colors, reinforced the hems, and am good to go.

Heartmycloset.com is an amazing Etsy site on which the seller works from vintage patterns to make custom dresses. Reasonable, beautiful quality, and unique!

J.Crew -- hey, if it's not broke. Their No.2 pencil skirt is flattering, basic, and comes in petite sizes. I also swear by their white blouses.

When I need to go a bit dressier, I tend to go for Stop Staring, Trashy Diva, or my beloved Betsey Johnson rose-printed seersucker, a birthday splurge I have not regretted once! For cocktail affairs, I get a lot of wear out of this BB Dakota number, which I got for a song at the late, lamented Inven.Tory.

(I am still on the lookout for the perfect belted jacket in my price range...)

Fall will of course be a whole 'nother ballgame, but I do have my eye on this:

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Just sayin

My sofa is really ready to be put out to pasture. I'd say we got out $75 worth, but still melancholy. Especially since I'm apparently at the point in my life where I'm drawn to furniture from Anthropologie.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Returns

Wonderful, lovely birthday. Slim, being the consummate good sport, allowed himself to be dragged to not only the McQueen show at the Costume Institute, but to Beautiful Darling at IFC. (Look, it was raining.) Add to this cake with friends and steak with the family and you have the recipe for a great 30th.

But unquestionably, this was the highlight.

We had emerged at West 4th Street (for breakfast at Joseph Leonard) and unfurled our umbrellas when a middle-aged Indian man approached us and asked us wheedlingly, in turn, if we'd give him our umbrellas -- never mind that he looked perfectly capable of obtaining his own. We said no.

"But I'm the baby!" he said, oddly. "You have to take care of the baby!"

Happy birthday to me.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Showtime: Or, On The Town With The Petite Sophisticate

There are so many good shows up in NYC right now: "VIENNA 1900: STYLE AND IDENTITY" at the Neue is unmissable -- a mix of art, design, multimedia that gives a general sense of the city's vitality at that time -- just for starters. Last weekend, we caught a really interesting exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum (worth a visit for the building alone, as it's housed in Carnegie's mansion): "Color Moves: Art and Fashion by Sonia Delaunay." I didn't know much about this artist prior to the show (save that she was married to Robert) but she was a prolific painter in her own right and an even more prolific designer of textiles and avant-garde clothing created along the principles of "Simultanaiety." (Her Paris showroom was even called "Atelier Simultané.")

The designs are energetic, exciting, intellectually engaging.

Would I have worn them? Probably not -- it's not as though I go around swathed in Rei Kawakubo now. But in both cases, I can appreciate the artistry! If you can't make it to New York, this slideshow is pretty amazing!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


When Slim and I were in San Francisco a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon the lingerie shop of my dreams: "Dollhouse Bettie," which specializes in vintage and retro-style underthings and swimsuits. Normally I like having destination spots outside of NYC, but in this case I'm merely wildly envious! Luckily, they have a very good website.


Over the weekend, I visited the B's outside of Boston. They have the most delectable, delightful baby imaginable and while -- between Amtrak and the Boston Marathon -- the visit was all too brief, it was full of good conversation, delicious meals and one particularly lovely walk through the Harvard Arboretum. While flipping through a copy of Miss Dahl's Voluptuous delights (which we both agreed was a bit much), I was struck by one dress, in which Miss Dahl concocts a smoothie of some description. Ciara was kind enough to scan the image for me and I'm seriously considering having it copied, if I can find the same subtle shade of blue cotton.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It is a truth universally acknowledged -- and if it isn't it should be -- that if you go out looking your worst, you'll run into the last person you'd wish to see. Yesterday I was feeling feverish and lethargic and had spent the day in my Metropolitan Opera sweatshirt and a pair of moccasins (and, yes, pants) and when I decided to venture out, made no move to ameliorate the situation. I'd not walked a block when I relaized the arrogant folly of what I was doing: I turned around, went home, put on a little mascara and a respectable jacket, and as a result ran into no one but my friend Lily, which was a happy outcome all around. Lily is in the happy position of going to one of the city's most elegant and fashionable balls next month -- granted in a professional capacity, but still close enough to the action to determine exactly how short all the male stars are in real life. Last week I went over to her perfect bachelorette pad and we had a powwow: she's much taller than I but we wear the same dress size, so I offered up all my swankest duds and she's currently deciding between two -- a 70's-inflected black bias-cut with an asymmetrical ruffle shoulder, and a full-skirted 1950s chiffon number in pine green. Both look super.

I'd gone out in the hopes of tempting myself into appetite, and did indeed get the fixings for a dainty single-lady meal. But though I duly prepared a nice salmon filet and a little gem-lettuce salad, I wasn't very hungry and very much fear this is a real bout of something. Just as well Slim's on the coast, en famille.

Speaking of! Charlie and Maeve are coming out for my birthday. About the latter: I was feeling just fine about it until yesterday, when the Monday crossword offered up the following clue: "Person approaching middle-age." The answer? "Thirtysomething."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Paris Was Yesterday

There was a time when, for a taste of France, one had only to go to West 4th Street. Up until a few years ago, the infamous Claude ruled the roost at his eponymous patisserie, and buying one of his ungainly croissants was a minor gallic ordeal. Claude was unfailingly unpleasant, the coffee unfailingly terrible, the place lacking air-conditioning in the summer. But the croissants were good, and it was always entertaining to see people attempt to ingratiate themselves with the proprietor, invariably rebuffed. When Claude retired, he sold his business to a hard-working and kindly employee and things go on much as before, save that now the customer service is more or less normal and it's not the adventure it used to be. I happened to stop in for a pain aux raisins and one of those awful coffees the first day they reopened, just by chance, and the experience was fascinating. One fellow bellied up to the counter and said in a confidential fashion,

"Man, am I glad to see you. Claude was a piece of work. Came here every day for 10 years and couldn't get a friendly word out of him."

He was clearly looking for commiseration, but got only a noncommittal smile from the new owner, and went away with his desired status as "beloved regular" still very much in question. No sooner had he left when another man, who'd overheard, approached the counter with an equally confidential air.

"I heard what that guy said," he said, "and frankly, I never understood people like that. Claude liked anyone reasonable. You just had to act like a human being. I mean, he and I got along great."

He also was rewarded only with a vague smile, and it seemed clear that, despite the change in demeanor, the place's general no-favorites policy was in no danger.

(Personally, I like anonymity; I've been known to give places a wide berth if I feel my privacy might be compromised, and I hate anyone to feel compelled to give me special treatment. There was a gourmet takeout shop near the store where I used to stop for a jelly donut maybe once a week. The same young guy waited on me each time and one day, said, all jocular, "If this keeps up, we're going to have to roll you out of here one of these days!" Give me Claude's indiscriminate hostility any day.)

But for the true French 4th experience, you need to continue up the block to Ludivine, where everything is neutral and terribly Parisian and exorbitantly expensive. I buy my Nuxe products there, and lately have been stalking a pair of rosy-hued heels that the salesman and I agree are perfection, but whose price strains credulity.

All and none of which is to say, speaking of Paris, I'll be an editor of some description at the Paris Review come late May. After three years at a job I love, it was time for a change. I hope my friends from Jezebel will drop by. Although I'll, of course, still be here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Precious Moments

I made notes of some of my goings-on today.

10:02 am. Mom calls to ask where she should buy chocolates.

10:35 BD sends amusing flow chart; fwd to a few people and make Gchat status.

11:13 Rachel writes that she has found someone to match up with Wynn.

11:15 Write Wynn, tell him we have found him someone.

1:07 Make plans to see Fritz Lang film with Ramona.

2:30 Email discussion of future excursion to Brighton Beach nightclub.

3:03 Facebook with Jaime about Faithfull.

4:30 Email discussion of whether we should go to Russian baths while in Brighton Beach, decide we should.

5:02 Send image of dress I think she'd like to LD.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Few Favorites

I'll admit it: I love any feature or blog post where people list their favorite products. I'm an absolute sucker for them. So, just for fun and not because anyone asked and mostly because I wanted to use that graphic, here are a few of mine!

Face: I use Nuxe products, which I recommend highly and not least because (as I learned at a recent beauty party) most of what we used is absolutely crammed with mineral oil -- aging AND unhealthy! -- and this line is not. Plus, the prices are fine, it smells good, it's pleasantly French, and the packaging doesn't bother me.

Perfume: I have worn Frederic Malle's "En Passant" for about 8 years now, with "Lys Mediterannee" for dressy occasions. What Malle did is get top parfumeurs to design scents to please themselves. In their boutiques, you smell the perfumes in these little chambers. They're exquisite, and there's something for every taste. The clerks are also remarkably knowledgeable.

Lingerie: I am very serious about my underpinnings and my favorite brand is Princesse Tam-Tam, although it's increasingly hard to find stateside. The best boutique, bar none, is Winkworth in Red Hook. They're nice and fun and low-pressure and passionate about lingerie. I also like Brooklyn Fox in Williamsburg.

Stockings: Wolford, of course! Their stay-ups really stay up!

Hair: I like the cuts at High Horse and I use Devachan, having curly hair.

Monday, January 10, 2011


A little better! "Faithfull" just arrived in the mail, which hurts not at all...

2 funny things -- well, maybe not, we're all kindred spirits here -- but one of you mentioned Elizabeth Taylor, a STACK of whose novels, by chance, I'd just liberated from my parents' house. Meanwhile, as my friends can attest, I have been on a North and South binge for the past month, absolutely slavering over Mr. Thornton in the most undignified way!

I will report as the recs roll in!

Monday, January 3, 2011


It's that time of month when things get a little rough for me and, socially speaking, I have to pretty much go hermit, since it takes all my energy to get through the day and do my work and I become easily overwhelmed and despairing. Although I am inactive -- besides periodic walks and making myself dance every couple of hours (seriously!) by the end of the day I am drained...although like many people I have difficulty sleeping during depressive episodes.

Here is what I was wondering: I can't seem to find a book or movie to hold my interest, which might be my restless state, but I'd love to hear some good recommendations for things I can sink my teeth into. My friends here have never steered me wrong! Music, too, while we're at it...I have been finding Artie Shaw good for perking me up, and have been re-reading Separate Lives, which is of course good, but I'd love something a bit more immersive. No incest, please, I am not of the frame of mind for grit. Well, I guess if it were in a lurid, 13th Tale-like context perhaps I could handle it.

Don't think this is the fault of New Year's, which was quiet, or the weekend, which was filled with friends and good talk and a couple of nice meals. I was just due for a blue period. I find it comforting to write here; it does not require the effort of real contact nor does it worry anyone as does talking to my parents, who are good about not reading here since I explained to them I needed a private space for thoughts etc.

I have chicken marbella in the oven as I hoped the smell would be appetizing. Might try and go out tonight and hear some music but probably overly ambitious and would hate to be a drain on M. We'll see.