It always does. Just a quick trip to the sunglass shop on Spring Street for a small repair, then straight back home to work. But then there was the Splendid store just steps away. And even though I have walked past the Splendid store dozens of times and never been the least bit tempted to go in, lately, and on more than one occasion, I’ve been surprised—because I always thought their stuff was kind of junior—to learn that a top I’ve admired is theirs. They’re not the cheapest t-shirts out there, but they’re also not crazy pricey, and I have a crazy pricey t-shirt habit I’m trying to break. A visit felt like the fiscally responsible thing to do.
I wasn’t in the door a minute before I fell for this vintage circle whisper tee: the shape—blousy in both the front and back—is A-1 perfect junk-camouflage material, and looks like it could have come from Helmut Lang or somewhere else where it would have cost a good 30 percent more. In general I’m a fan of all of the tees in Splendid’s Vintage Whisper line: most really soft t-shirts these days turn out to have some sort of synthetic in them, but these are 100% cotton, super-thin, and so nice next to your skin.
Right next store stood Sam Edelman. Much like Splendid, a store that has tempted me never. But they actually make some pretty cute shoes at really good prices, and recently I’ve been curious to see if the quality is there and they might be worth covering. If I can rationalize anything in the name of this blog, it’s pretty much a go, so I popped in. It was summer sandal central inside, and I was drawn to these cork flip flops, dead ringers for this pair from French brand K-Jacques but way, way, way cheaper. I had actually coveted the K-Jacques versions, but had wondered if a flip flop wouldn’t be horribly uncomfortable when executed on a big old cork heel. Happily, I discovered, it is not. They’re cheap enough to buy in multiple shades—and come in quite a few—but I stuck with just the gold.
And now it really was time to get on home. Just a quick little foray to Saturdays Surf for my first iced cappuccino of the season and out. But in order to get there, I had to pass Madewell on Broome Street and Broadway, and even though I don’t inevitably buy something every time I visit Madewell, I can always find something to want. I gave myself a pass and went in. By now I knew I was getting a post out of this, and editorially speaking, three is always better than two.
Madewell’s got a partnership going with Austin retailer JM Drygoods; they sell the best Mexican embroidered clothes, and have a—and I hate using this word, but it really applies here—small and quite thoughtfully curated selection of other items, from chairs to soaps to candles, and you kind of want one of everything. At Madewell they’ve focused mostly on Mexican tops and dresses, and after a good deal of obsessing, I finally settled on this Oxaca Caftan. I am quite sure it shall get stained—dramatically and soon, and likely by my own hand. But for now it is perfect. As was that iced cappuccino.
My new local Sephora is on a particularly frenetic block of Lower Broadway in Soho, and it’s never not mobbed. Because of this, I have taken to leaving to the last minute my visits to stock up on essentials. So last Friday, when I discovered that my Josie Maran Argan Oil was down to its last few precious drops, I steeled myself for the journey.
True to form, the place was in deep lunacy mode when I arrived. I soldiered through the crowds to the Josie Maran area, procured my oil, did a quick scan of the shelf to see if there was anything new, and found this: Argan Infinity Lip and Cheek Creamy Oil. While the notion of oil on your lips might at first seem rather ick, the stuff actually feels really light and much less gloppy than gloss (alas, on the cheeks, I found it a touch heavy). I bought a tube in a shade called Always Cherry, which is actually as pink as it is red, and pleasantly sheer.
Until I was 40 or so, my makeup routine consisted of taking a quick mascara swipe at my lashes before I ran out the door. These days, mascara application is but one of several steps in my maquillage, and it is always accompanied by eyeliner. I mess around with new ones from time to time, but always return to YSL Eyeliner Effect Faux Cils Shocking, because instead of a brush, which can be so challenging for the unsteady-of-hand, it has an actual felt tip, and is therefore much more difficult to mess up. One tube lasts for an unsanitarily long time, and I was well overdue to pick up a new one, so into the basket it went.
Lately, in the interest of saving time, I have graduated (or regressed) from eyebrow pencils to Gimme Brow from Benefit. It’s actually a gel packed with microfibers that help create the illusion of a fuller brow, and it comes with the eensiest little applicator you’ve ever seen, and it is simple, simple to get right.
Then it was off to Zara across the street, because if there’s one Lower Broadway store that is more insane than Sephora it is Zara, and I suppose I figured that since I’d already gotten my head into the right place for Lower Broadway crazy, I might as well go for it. I saw some cute stuff—and as usual, found their selection of jackets and coats to be superior to anything else in the store; they’re just of a higher quality—and then I spied this little baby and just about died. It’s kind of Isabel Marant-ish, but reminds me even more of Dries Van Noten, who does such great things with ethnic beading and embroidery. And it’s got everything I dream of in that type of piece: strong, graphic patterns, a tight, bright color palette, and a clean, minimal cut. I grabbed one in a size medium, made for the nearest mirror, whipped off my coat and slipped the jacket on (my policy at Zara is to avoid the dressing room experience at all costs). It looked fantastic, but felt tight in the shoulders. I asked a nearby sales associate if they had any larger sizes, and she responded that it only came in small and medium. Under any other circumstances, this would inspire my righteous indignation—any retailer who makes a garment in just two sizes isn’t thinking right about the American market. But I was so obsessed with this jacket that all I could wonder was whether it might be worth it to give up a considerable amount of range of motion in order to wear it every once in a while. I didn’t buy it, but had a feeling I’d be back.
There were other stores I might have checked off my Lower Broadway list—Uniqlo, H&M, even the mini-Bloomingdale’s—but this seemed like a good moment to quit. So I cut over to Crosby Street, one block east of Broadway and largely untrodden by the Sohotic masses. There are some great, non-chain-y stores on Crosby—beauty emporium MiN New York, jeweler Jill Platner, designer Tess Giberson. All tempting, but I just kept walking, until I came almost to the end (technically, the beginning) of the street, where you can find the menswear and surf shop Saturdays Surf. I visit a few times a week, because they brew cappuccinos that taste just like Italy, have a staff of uniformly attractive young men, and let me bring in the dog. There’s also a courtyard out back for enjoying your coffee, and a young hipster DJ who is almost invariably playing the Doobie Brothers (ironically? I’ll never know). Some days I’ll linger, but today I got my cappuccino to go and kept on moving. Visions of that crazy perfect jacket dancing in my head.
I go way back with the ladies of Kirna Zabete: Beth Buccini and I worked at New York magazine together in the 90s, and I met her partner Sarah Easley the summer the store was gearing up to open 14 years ago. The two of them remind me very much of this 1964 Vogue photo of interior designers Mica Ertegun and Chessy Rayner: two chic women of exactly one mind. Except where Ertegun and Rayner were all clean, minimal lines, Easley and Buccini are a nonstop mad tea party of brights, prints, and as many accessories as their outfits will bear. It is not an exaggeration to observe that on any given day, between the two of them, their outfits have got every shade on the color wheel represented. I love them for this.
It is very easy to spend a great deal of money very fast at their new, behemoth store on Broome street. Like for instance, I’m loving the black, red and white on this Japanese-style floral print from Thakoon.
And I’m dying for this leopard print and polka dot fantasia.
I almost can’t even bear to look at this blanket jacket, I love it so much.
A complicated shape to pull off, to be sure. But I love the pink-on-red tweed, and the leather trim drives me mad with desire.
With tights, boots, and a sweater, this would be aces.
Tribeca Mom and I had a date on Saturday—she was family-free for the weekend and itching for a walkabout, and I was happy to oblige. We enjoyed a little Mexican-Peruvian Brunch, and then it was off to Selima Optique on Broome Street. In a city full of chic alternatives to your usual mall brand opticians, Selima may be the chicest choice of all. They’ve got a surpassingly cool in-house line, a nice selection from other designers, and the kind of efficient and straight-up friendly service that keeps a person coming back. Which, as somebody with light sensitivity issues and a more-is-by-all-means-more outlook regarding the acquisition of new sunglasses, I do. Frequently.
To that point: what do you think of my new Ray Ban Clubmasters? I’ve wanted some forever, but the classic Clubmaster shape looks crazy on me. These are squarer, which somehow renders them softer and more flattering. Definitely less hipster than the original, but then again, so am I.
Here they are close up. Cuteness, no?
Tribeca Mom had a substantial American Express gift card burning a hole in her pocket, so we hit the Jerome Dreyfuss store on Broome Street—as excellent a spot as any for a splurge that’ll cost you nothing. Dreyfuss is Isabel Marant’s husband, and his bags work a similarly Frenchy-understated fashion insidery angle. I own one, a small grey leather number that makes any outfit I pair it with just a tiny bit cooler, and would die for another. But today was not about me. Tribeca Mom got this, and it is perfection: big enough to carry papers, but chic enough to bring along to dinner or a nice lunch, and made of the lightest leather. I can’t stop thinking about it.
In retail, as in romance, you are in love until you are not. Often, it’s tough to get at what went wrong; whether they changed, or it was you, or if it was just time. What is there to do? You accept, and you move on. Such was the fate of my relationship with Banana Republic. The last good time I recall—and I’m not just saying this in order to extend my cute love metaphor—was practically Elysian. I’m guessing the year was 2003, because I was wearing a camisole, blazer, and jeans that day, and I was very big on that particular combo in 2003.* I was browsing the Banana at The Grove in LA, doing my homework for a meeting I had the next day at Gap/Banana/Old Navy HQ in San Francisco. The store itself was bright and brilliant with color; the merchandising was spot-on, and most everything on the racks felt not just wearable—which BR so often is—but on-trend and really genuinely cool, too. When I spoke with the company’s CEO the next day, in the type of meeting where one is expected to discuss one’s own brand for a while and then praise one’s host’s brand at great length, I got to mean every word I said. It was a rare treat.
And then: nothing. Until Saturday, when the siren song of this yellow beaded tee beckoned from the window of a Banana Republic near my home and I was drawn in to take a closer look. It’s part of a collaboration with Milly, and is somehow chicer and slouchier in real life than as shown here, and because it was just $45, I made it my own immediately.
I also quite like this tunic: the print is great, and the colors are just slightly unexpected. Also: those are rather excellent elephant shorts she is wearing on the bottom, but they are both itsy-short and sold out.
But this elephant print scarf isn’t.
*The fact that I remember what I was wearing but not the year is a whole other story. Another day.
Most of my favorite indie boutiques are located at a safe distance from my home—to visit Bird, a trek out to Brooklyn is required, and to splurge at Blue Tree, I must travel all the way up to Carnegie Hill. But Castor & Pollux is not five minutes away from my front door, beckoning daily, dangerously. I want pretty much everything that proprietress Kerilynn Palmer stocks—hand beaded Alice Park tunics, diaphanous Gary Graham dresses, gauzy tops by Alasdair—and have a very tough time leaving the store without a shopping bag in hand. So I try and limit my visits, and when I do go to tell myself I’m just there for inspiration, repeating silently to myself just looking, just looking.
Alas, this almost never works, and especially not if Kerilynn is around, because we always get to chatting, and the longer I linger, the more I try on. It’s too bad that C&P’s website doesn’t feature more of the clothes they stock, because then you could get a better sense of all of its many and varied temptations. For that reason, you must be sure to put it on your Must To Visit list when you come to the city. Meanwhile, you can shop the gorgeous jewelry line that’s been created just for the store: I love the graceful but substantial shape of this bracelet, which is available with pretty birthstones too.
And these malachite studs slay me.