Monthly Archives: November 2009

The Alligator Industry Bites

“How can this industry fall out so quickly?” Stephen Bonnecarrere asked while tossing live alligators into bins at his father-in-law’s farm outside Houma. “It happened too fast.”

photo by Lee Celano for The New York Times

That, and more from this story in today’s New York Times about the market for alligator skins.

I wonder if an increase in alligator bites in the bayou will follow?

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Party Dresses

More than even the average occasion, weddings really beg the question of what to wear. They’re a special excuse to get dressed up, and see lots of people I rarely do, so I want to make it count! A few years ago–no, five years ago, my dear friend Mike asked me to be his last-minute date for a wedding in St. Louis–my hometown. I was visiting from California at the time, and didn’t have much with me. I wanted to go, but what to wear?

Mom? She descended the basement steps, dove into the archives, and emerged with this.

Remember Laura Ashley?

The British brand is not really what it used to be in the ’80s, which I imagine is when mom (pictured below) bought this.

She had kept it in beautiful condition, and it was the perfect fit for an August afternoon wedding, sipping Seabreezes at the St. Louis Country Club (seriously!) A good family friend, Mike had helped mom move years earlier, and probably carried the box that contained this dress–and many others, downstairs.

So it was nice that he appreciated it, and looked lovely himself in seersucker. But this weekend, he’ll likely be wearing a tux, as he will be the groom!

Tomorrow I’ll go from Vanity Fair, to an airplane, to the rehearsal dinner. (What to wear for that marathon? I haven’t the foggiest just yet.) But more importantly…what to wear to the wedding this Saturday?


Filed under closet case study, Uncategorized

Double Trouble

Yesterday, at the end of a really beautiful fall Sunday, my friend Erin snapped this photo with her phone. I liked it. It captured a contented moment with a full glass of wine and reddening leaves. I posted it to my Facebook account when I got home, which is something I don’t usually do. Then this morning, I realized a reason not to…

sart.striped SA

When I went to get dressed, I immediately reached for that same striped shirt (Steven Alan, made in USA, cut long and lean–his sample sale starts Thursday, by the way). Maybe I was hoping some of that Sunday vibe would seep into my week, and in any case, I got dressed quite late yesterday and Erin was the only one who saw me in that shirt. But then I remembered the Facebook photo, and briefly reconsidered my re-run.

How many people really look at those pictures? Would anyone notice? I know at least one person who will. Kristen Joy Watts: a Facebook and fashion-savvy photojournalist who has previously noted my tendency to keep favorites on a (very) short cycle. I’ll likely see her later at the CUNY Journalism School.

But I’m taking a stand, I’m not changing out of this shirt. Furthermore, I’m announcing to you that yes, I sometimes love wearing the same thing two days in a row. (I’ve noticed lots of fashion designers have this tendency too. Sometimes thinking about clothes all the time can suppress the desire to dress.)

I have a friend with a nightly TV show who writes down what he wears to ensure he doesn’t recycle the same outfits within two weeks. Can you imagine? Screw it. I’m embracing the re-run.


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Retail and Restoration

I went to a class called Restorative Yoga tonight. It was sort of like institutionalized nap-time, except the teacher kept waking us up to change positions. It left me sort of restored, but not as much my walk across downtown on my way home–stopping in a few of my favorite spots that, incidentally, specialize in restoration.


My first stop was Amarcord, possibly my favorite place for vintage clothes in New York. Their original location in the East Village provided one of my all-time answers to my eternal question, of what to wear: this cream-colored cotton top–sort of tent-shaped, with fluttery sleeves and a crocheted neckline. That, is what to wear.


I have no idea how long this blouse was around before it belonged to me, but it’s been around the world on my back over the last five years.

sart.crochet with jess

2005 in the East Village, I think.

I can’t remember now how much I paid for it, but, if you calculate the cost by dividing how many times I’ve worn it, we’re talking fractions of a penny per wear. (I can’t remember who taught me this trick but I like it.) The same trick would apply to these boots, also from Amarcord, three winters ago.

Tonight I tried on a few beautiful things at Amarcord’s fancy Lafayette Street locale, but this suede butterscotch coat was the best-in-show. (My apologies for the blurriness, this was spontaneous photojournalism, via iphone.)


I deeply sighed when I pulled this off the rack. At yoga they say you’re supposed to let thoughts of the past leave your mind, but this brought back memories of a vintage belted chocolate suede coat with a fur collar and cuffs I bought in college. It came from one of the giant Ventura, California thrift stores, where prices rarely exceed $20. At the time it reminded me of Penny Lane from Almost Famous. I was going through a bit of groupie phase myself, which may explain some of the abuse that jacket endured. By the time I finally donated it, it was torn, burned (though it had a burn or two when I bought it), and shedding fur.


(Some people sit on stools reading magazines in the bookstore. I bond with clothing in dressing rooms.)

The one I tried tonight was made in Italy–like the vast majority of Amarcord’s inventory, and in mint condition. It also cost a solid ten times what its counterpart did at the Retarded Children’s Thrift Store in Ventura. (Yes, that’s really what it’s called.) So, I snapped this moment to remember it by, and went on my merry way. It fit perfectly, by the way. I walked away. Breathe deeply and let thoughts of the past leave your mind.

I headed east into Nolita and hung a left on Mulberry Street. I passed the Young Designers’ Market, which I sometimes enjoy, but this lovely November evening, I was in no mood for weaving between the tables in gymnasium lighting.

Instead, I continued on to Sweet Tater, a perfect little den of vintage high-waisted jeans, cognac colored platforms, and original creations, like this charcoal woolen smock-y number. If you saw me last winter, there’s about a 50% chance this is what I had on.


I was anticipating a window at Sweet Tater with hay-bales, pumpkins, and perfect plaid shirts, but from down the street it looked dark. Did they close at 7:00? And then, I saw this:


Their neighbor, walking out the door with a chihuahua, said they had been gone for six months (Was there something I could have done? One more smock?), but he thought perhaps they were opening another store. I’ll extend my antennae for that and visualize. Autumn at Sweet Tater was a beautiful thing, and I always liked how one of the owners put a belt around my waist when I tried on floppy tops. I’ll just have to keep re-soling and re-heeling my favorite boots, also from the magical shop, until they (fingers crossed) re-open.


By then it was nearing 8:00, and I ventured further east, toward the subway stop at Essex and Delancey, resigning myself to window shopping along the way, but then…


The girls at Daha, on Orchard Street, were still there, eating leftover Halloween candy in the window. I thought I was done trying things on, until I saw these bronze heels.


They may not look like much here, but believe me when I tell you I’ve been searching for them–things always turn up when you’re not looking. I have a wedding to go to in St. Louis in two weeks, and the dress I’ve been saving for it (for three years–more on that later) begs for shoes just this height and color. And, as the shopkeeper noted, they’ll be great with jeans for going out. (Presuming, of course, that I do go out, rather than spending my Saturday evenings cataloguing my closet, window-shopping, and writing, in which case my Converse, pictured in the background, will probably suffice.) I tried them on:


I like going out. Sold, for $60. Look what I found in the display case when I went to pay:


Totally incredible, and not my size. (Exhale.) Just think how great they would have looked with that butterscotch coat I left behind at Amarcord.


Filed under closet case study, to market, Uncategorized

Sweet Dreams

“What to wear tomorrow?” I wondered aloud to Erin Dixon, of Dossier Style.

Dossier Journal

Photo by Gustavo Marx for Dossier Style: A New York State of Mind

“Think about it as you fall asleep,” she said. “That’s what I always do.”



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