Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Final Curtain

Happy New Year Everyone!
I hope you are all ringing in the new decade in style this evening. Yesterday I found out that one of New York and even America's most iconic establishments will be closing its doors for good after the clock strikes midnight. I remember my first dinner at the tavern when I was 5 yrs old. Mummy had taken me into the city for some christmas shopping and to sick the Rockettes. Even though I was sick as a dog with pneumonia I refused to sit this trip out. For dinner mummy took me to Tavern on the Green and I was totally blown away. This was the most magical place I had ever been (at 5) the lights the park the buzz of the city and being all dressed up having a grown up dinner was the highlight of the holiday season. Farewell Tavern, although you will be gone may your magic live in the hearts of all that enjoyed it. Here's to a Happy 2010 everyone see ya next year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bye Bye Burgee

I hope everyone had a very merry christmas. Mine was busy as always, the retail season between thanksgiving and xmas is a long road, between special orders and monogramming needs I have surely added a few more grey hairs. But all turned out well and everyone is happy. A Merry Christmas to everyone!

I have been craving a dog for the past few years, but living in an apartment and being single doesn't really create the ideal situation for a dog but nonetheless I have been wanting one. Growing up we were never a day in our house without a black lab in residence and at one point we even had two. I miss the love and sweet kindness of their eyes and their abounding love.

My boss has been having the itch for a puppy for sometime and we recently ran into a woman who had the most beautiful golden retriever and asked her about her breeder. She got her little love ball from this great breeder and maine and also knew of someone who was getting a puppy from the same breeders xmas litter. So we looked at some of the pics of the pups online and they were just gorgeous, some of the most handsome goldens we had ever seen. So one night we decided to make the trek up to Maine to check out these little lovies in person.

While of course they were all incredibly adorable we liked this one the best. He was a little redder then the rest and had the sweetest disposition. We decided though that it was a big commitment and we needed to make sure it would work out for my boss and her family. We also decided that we would name him Burgee, isnt that just the cutest! A few days later we called the breeder to say that we would take him and to give her the deposit and she said she had someone coming to look at him in 5 mins and that they we almost certainly going to buy him. We were crushed little burgee was not going to be ours. Well after a day of morning we decided it just must not have been meant to be. I love this picture of him though and yearn for another puppy to come along.

This was the other one I fell in love with but he was already sold. Ahh I love their little baby faces!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy 101

Many thanks to Miss Beth over at Social Climbers for tagging me. Even though today has been a sad day (post on that later) I am going to try to be happy and put together a little list of to top ten things that make me happy.

1) The fact that I have a roof over my head and food on the table makes me infinitely happy and grateful everyday.
2) My Friends
3) Going through my list of daily blog reads. It is always a treat to catch up each morning with everyone's latest posts.
4) Golden Retriever Puppies
5) Sliding into my glorious bed each night.
6) Summer
7) Working out and staying fit
8) Coming home to a clean house at the end of each day.
9) Taking a day to go shopping for myself, doesn't happen often but those rare occasions where I get to be very selfish and splurge on myself fill the happy tank (I think we are overdue for one of those trips)
10) Dinner at Zelda's in Newport with good friends. Wine, food and gettin crazy makes life sweet

I encourage everyone to make their own list of the top 10 things that make them happy!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Preppy Androgyny?

I have always considered the preppy look ESPECIALLY in the winter to be rather androgynous. In the summer I am constantly in bright colored polos with skirts or dresses but, in the winter with the low temps pants must often be utilized. As I mentioned in my last post (P.S. sorry for the infrequency there for the last week work is crazy and I have not had a full day off since thanksgiving.) I mainly opt for brightly colored cords in the winter months and pair them with button down shirts (collar popped) topped with a cashmere sweater and loafers to round it out. Now let me make it perfectly clear that I am by all accounts a "girly, girly" and lover of men (preppy men to be exact) just so there is no confusion. I will admit though that some mornings the only difference between me and my preppy guy crushes are the colors of sweaters, pants or blazers.

I love boys ties and especially a bow tie! However I have just never had the confidence to sport one ( have to say I still dont think I could). But I have been very interested to see some recent gender bending fashion choices.

I first noticed the lady in bow tie look on the Rugby website. Now I get Ralphs look and I understand that in modeling for a brand like this they style the models to really so as much of the collection as possible. I think this outfit it totally adorable so it brought me a little closer to accepting the look.
Then one night one of the guests on some fax news show was a young lady about 25 and she was wearing a Red tie with a white button down with the tie tucked into her high waisted shirt and a cute pair of horn rimmed glasses. While Hannity was giving her a little grief over it, the look once again peaked my interest in the neckwear for women ensemble.
Then on A Curious Monogram a few weeks back he posted on the androgynous photos on Close Up & Private

  I think these outfits are totally adorable. I am infatuated with whimsical bow ties so I think the last pic is my favorite. The more and more I see this look popping up the more I am intrigued, but also have a few trepidations. So thats when I decided to consult the manual.
If everyone will open their textbooks to page 99 you will see there that we have a prime example of preppy androgyny.

These two are dressed almost exactly alike. This perfectly illustrates my point preppy men and women are both into well made, good quality, stylish and functional clothing that will last a lifetime. So while I dont think a bow tie is in my future I did branch out this week and wear one of my silk scarves styled as an ascot tucked into the neck of my white button down topped by a chocolate herringbone blazer with suede elbow patches and my hunter green jcrew cords with brown leather loafers. I loved the look so right now I think I'll stick with that and we'll see where we go from there.
I still cant get past my love of bow ties so I started to think how girls could use the idea in a more feminine way. I came up with the idea of having the part that goes around a mens neck made larger and wearing it as a belt with dresses. When you just tie a normal bow you dont get that effect but with a bow tie you would so I think it would be so cute with a solid colored strapless dress. Or how about bow ties made into headbands, could be really cute....

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Smathers & Branson vs. That other needlepoint belt company

Sorry for the week long blogging hiatus. Work is super busy this time of year and I have not had a day off since Thanksgiving, so I haven't even had much time to read blogs let alone post, I'll try to be better though I promise!

This is an issue that has been bothering me for some time now. Right around xmas time last year a new "preppy" needlepoint belt company came on the scene. Initially I was excited with the idea since Smathers belts are generally too masculine for me and I just thought that something new could be cool. I also loved the idea of the needlepoint headband, finally something for the ladies, and the belts were selling at that time around $125 which is quite a jump from the smathers at $165. Of course this was right when the recession was really starting to hit home for people and price is always king. So of course the Tucker Blair belts were selling well. However, then a few months later Tucker Blair started selling the belts exclusively on their website for $80. This is the reason as stated on their website that they decided to move just to online sales.

we decided to pioneer a new type of distribution model where the retailer isn’t the one that gets the value - the customer does!  “Brick & mortar” stores are great if you’re strolling through Georgetown on an idle afternoon, but with them come substantial mark-ups, limited selection and other customers trying on what will one day be your belt

Now I am all for a competitive market and fair pricing but I do have a problem with debuting your line in stores, having them promote it for you and essentially being the only way that your target market will be exposed to your porduct, THEN underselling your retailers online. the headbands were originally selling for something like $75 in stores but $50 on the website. Now they list the headbands at $40 and they are on sale for $25. Now this is where when you claim that you have the "best product on the market" at "the best price possible" I find that hard to believe when you have substantially reduced the price 3 times. What that really means is you have a cheap product that you are marking up to mark down.

That is all well and good and I am sure most people will say "well who gives a hoot you are getting essentially the same idea (note not the same product) at a lower price". My real grievance comes on the design level. When you take a look at the belt designs of Tucker Blair in comparison to Smathers & Branson all he has done is copy their designs or the idea of the design and maybe change the colors.
Lets examine the evidence:















As you can see the evidence speaks for itself. Check out each of their websites to compare more for yourself Smathers & Branson    Tucker Blair . Every single belt theme that Tucker Blair has done is a knock off of the Smathers & Branson theme. I mean this guy is not even creative enough to come up with his own themes. Then when you look at the quality of the stitches (you can even see it online) the Stitches in the Tucker belts are not as tight so they make the images look a little distorted. As well the thread feels gross, like a bad wool sweater.

It gets worse:

Smathers Key Fob

Tucker Blair Key Fob
Ok so not only is he copying the idea of the key fob AND calling it the exact same thing he is also copying the exact same style with the leather tab AND look at the little SB in script inscribed in the leather that is the same as Tucker Blair's TB logo. Which leads to even more similarities Smathers & Branso, Tucker Blair both companies have two names and smathers is in Bethesda, MD Tucker Blair is in DC. Its just too much!

Smathers & Branson Dog Collar 

Tucker Blair Dog Collar

Smathers Headband

Tucker Blair Headband

Now in all fairness I will point out that Tucker Blair did come out with the headbands before Smathers & Branson but once again even though Smathers was late to the gate they have a far superior product.

So as you have seen Tucker Blair is nothing more then a knockoff of Smathers & Branson, buying a Tucker Blair belt is the same thing as buying a knockoff coach bag (expect they arent being sold on the streets of New York... Yet) you know how the C's just aren't right on the knockoff and the lining is a crap nylon, thats the same idea here.

 The one good thing that I will say that has come out of the tucker blair brand is that once it came on the scene it gave Smathers & Branson a kick in the ass and they came up with some new themes and products.

Needlepoint Wallet (Daddy is getting this for Xmas)

Needlepoint Flask (Going in Mummy's stocking, believe me she'll use it too)

I think the Mistletoe Cummerbund is hilarious and if I say a guy wearing this at a party I would fall in love immediately

Coin purse

Ladies Belt

I just think that is it really wrong for someone to scope out the success of another business and copy it almost exactly. There was not a hole in the market for fun needlepoint belts so there is really no need for Tucker Blair. He was just not smart enough to come up with his own business model so he stole someone else's. Smathers has done a great job with their brand and continue to make and sell a superior product at a fair price. I know they will outlive Tucker Blair and I hope their sales are soaring  as people purchase the original preppy needlepoint belt.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

J.Crew Favorite Fit Cords

As I have alluded to before I am not so keen on jeans. I find jeans to be the ultimate casual wear, you just cant go any lower than jeans. (Well actually there are sweatpants and leggings) Yes I know these are modern times and jeans are everywhere and have become big business in fashion. Whenever we go to market in New York to do the buying for the store I am utterly shocked at the amount of denim lines on the out there as well as the fact that most of these lines are exclusively denim! These people reinvent the wheel in different colors and styles every season.
I know I am very much in the minority here, and that 99.9% of americans love jeans and wear them on a regular basis. I however hate them, have always hated them and will continue to hate them. Jeans are just so easy (many peoples argument in favor of) they require little imagination and to me give this air of "I dont give a s*%&"

I cant think of which is worse in my book, the fact that it has become appropriate for men to wear jeans to work or that women practically live in jeans these days. Lets take point one, I recently posted this article demonstrating how denim has weaseled its way into the workplace. I remember in high school that 90% of my teachers wore jeans to school. Seriously? You are at work, how do you wear jeans to work when you are a teacher. You are supposed to be asserting yourself to a bunch of pimple faced brats, this requires at very least proper pants, may I dare suggest even a tie? (Bow Tie?... No? ok I just had to try) Well I guess thats what you get for liberal california public school. It was a breath of fresh air to go off to a proper New England University where the men wore sport coats and trousers, with the occasional bean boat on a cold day. Have I made my point? Great, let me contiune.
As for ladies jeans are just lazy. I'm not saying they are totally inappropriate as I do own 2 pairs myself (and only 2 it will remain) one pair is the J.Crew matchstick jean which are reserved EXCLUSIVELY to be worn with my favorite Steve Madden riding boots. None of this skinny jeans will ballet flats, yuck. As well might I point out that they are called SKINNY jeans for a reason and that you must be skinny to wear them. I cannot tell you how many women I have seen squeeze there rather large behinds into these ill fitting "skinny" jeans which dont even cover their entire bum, resulting in the the sausage casing look... cute.
Lest I not mention guys who wear skinny jeans... the horror.
The other pair is the J.Crew Bootcut jean which I wear on my more causal days and only in the winter with a cashmere sweater. There are far too many fun outfits for the summer to waste them on jeans. Then sometimes when I am with my less preppy friendly crowds I will wear jeans out to a bar with a fun top or blazer (again only in the winter). Now don't get me wrong I am not saying jeans are a total no, no I just think that our society has become too reliant on jeans and too accepting, even encouraging of causal dress in the workplace.
Not only am I a huge fan of the hit show mad men but I think it might have a good effect on society, given its wonderful 1950's style wardrobes. Just think, would betty ever be caught dead wearing jeans, I think not. Don, jeans at the office? Please he wouldn't dare. Hoepfully this dress code will stay in effect at Sterling, Cooper, Draper & Pryce.
So my alternative to jeans has always been corduroy. It comes in an amazing assortment of colors and gages of wale and in the right cut is quite flattering. My preference has been to the J. Crew favorite fit style (the only "favorite" fit J.Crew pant which is a favorite of mine) Above I have pictured my three pairs in a cranberry color, hunter green and aubergine. Then I have a pair of hot pink Molly B. These are all fun and look great on and pull an outfit together while still looking like I give a damn. However, J. Crew is now making my life  that much harder by not offering the favorite fit cords this season. Which I am dying for in this rosy pink color

The alternative being the bootcut cord which features too much stretch so that by the end of the day you have that saggy butt effect, that is just too cute. So back to the drawing board it is.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bananas for Birkin

One of my absolute favorite books ever is Michael Tonello's, Bringing Home the Birkin. Such a wonderful story of Michael's european adventures as an accidental Birkin broker. This book made me want to quit my job and take off on a european adventure in pursuit of this gorgeous bag tout de suite.

If you have not read this, it is a perfect fun little beach read as well as a great tutorial on the particulars of the much coveted Birkin.
I am at my wits end with struggling with toting my laptop back and forth to work everyday. I have the monster 17" mac book and even though it is a great computer it is very heavy and there are not any good laptop bags out there for 17" computers. Last year I got the Henry Brown Mimi bag in the light blue color becuase it was the only thing I liked that could fit the computer and was a little different.          
It has worked ok but I am still not happy and looking for a replacement. I think I am looking for something in leather or a neutral color nylon.
When I think of leather bags my favorite style has always been the birkin. Of course I know I will not be getting a Birkin anytime soon (that pesky little waiting list... for the waiting list) but a girl can dream.

I am really only interested in the calf skin bags, the exotics are a little too much for me, but god knows if offered an exotic I would snap it up.

The classic hermes orange would be my pick and at the 45cm size I think my laptop would just fit.

If I ever run away from home this would be the get away bag.

I mean if its good enough for Pharrell...
(P.S. I think the whole man purse thing he has goin on here is WEIRD!)

Back in the real world the large Le pliage would be the way to go. I enjoy the khaki color but am a little concerned with staining it.

The chocolate would solve that problem but its kinda a little blah to me

The billberry is a very interesting and fun color so that is up for consideration as well.
any thoughts or suggestions? I also liked the leather barbour bag I posted yesterday but I dont think it is big enough.
This problem is really starting to drive me nuts so I gotta get this figured out soon!

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Great Barbour Debate

So for a while now I have been lusting after a Barbour coat. Last year my boss was so kind and gave me a Liddesdale coat for christmas. However it did not fit properly so I wanted to simply exchange it for the proper size. Well that was easier said then done. I took it back to the store and they told me no problem they would order me the coat I wanted and give me a store credit for the return. Needless to say that was in january and I still dont have a Barbour coat. So I went back and, of course they still dont have what I want. So I am going to try having them order one for me again (I am ONLY going through them becuase I have a store credit there after this I am never shopping there again!) I am pondering whether I should get the Liddesdale which I personally think looks a little boxy on me or to apply the credit to a Bedale and pony up the difference? In truth I want both (I do live in New England, it is either raining or snowing here more then 75% of the time) So I know I will use them they are classics that will last forever.

Bedale, I like this lining best as well the other one they offer is too masculine

This is the Liddesdale I like in the beautiful olive

This one is also nice

Love the shooting vest

These are nice as well except I hate the lining of the last one

I would snag one of these as well

and I have learned you can never have too many brellies!

Also die for this leather briefcase! I wonder if my monstrous 17" laptop would fit in here?