Dear Anthro: I'm still in love with you.

It's been a while since I made a serious visit to the Anthropologie site. I was a little burned out after the orgy of Anthro-induced spending I made last year, where I bought all kinds of things including a $200 trench coat (which I still like a lot, by the way). Looking back, that was entirely too much to spend on a trench of that sort. 

I'm not really sure what got me to go back this time. I think because someone at work sent around a link to the Free People "Vintage Loves" campaign (which, by the way, is totally absurd, especially the pricing!), and that got me thinking, and then I got an e-mail about Anthro's latest sale. So I made a beeline for the sale section, and picked out all the best of the best--and yes, I too noticed my penchant for whites, blues, and pale oranges.

Hot or Not? Draped jersey dress from Surface2Air

Surface2Air is another one of those impeccably easy-breezy French labels (like the absurd A.P.C.) that I feel like I should love.  I mean, Garance Dore herself swoons over it.  Surely if such elegant tastemakers endorse the company, then I should too, right?

As such, I came * thisclose * to ordering this dress tonight.  $69, from $150.  And I have my mom to thank for bringing my daffy head back down to earth (see below for our IM convo).

memom, are you still there?  what do you think of this dress: [link to]
me: i like it
KhoonI saw only the blue dress   that is ugly do U mean this blue one  or else
me: the blue one.
me: why is it ugly? i like it.
Khoon: it is ugle & wiere too  Not good @ all

In the end, it was the "wiere" backside of the dress that really made me scratch my head.

Mayle retrospective - I thought her sample sale was coming up, but as it turns out, the sale already happened a year ago.

So it's kind of unclear whether Jane Mayle is really truly out of business for good, because the lease on her store's retail space was supposed to have ended in February, but the site is still functional, and when you visit it, it's still advertising this huge sample sale, to end all sample sales, which happened April 24-25.  Last year.  It's a weird time-warp feeling to flip through the lookbook and sigh wistfully at all the beautiful things I missed out on:

Whatever the ultimate fate of the brand, I wish I could have been there.  Her clean-cut yet easily romantic silhouettes is everything we ask for at Wearability.

Could Camilla Staerk finally be finding her stride?

The thing about truly masterful designers (or artists in general) is that they continue to put out new things, play with new concepts and ideas, and yet you can tell almost immediately that it's their work.  There is a certain signature je ne sais quoi in what they produce that you recognize as uniquely theirs.  One might say this is how you tell an artist has come into his/her own and reached full artistic maturity.

I wasn't sure I could say the same of Camilla Staerk's early collections (she first landed on the fashion map almost 10 years ago).  They seemed a bit haphazard and scattered, meandering a bit, like a novice writer's narrative.  There were moments of sheer brilliance and offbeat moments that made you scratch your head a bit and wonder what she was thinking.

The last few collections though, seem a bit more focused, more purposeful and certain.  It's interesting I picked up on the writerly aspect of her work, as Interview Magazine described her work early last year as "dark, severe, literary, and modern." 

I don't know if I completely agree, because a lot of her pieces are also feminine, gentle, and fabled.  Hailing from Denmark, Staerk says she's deeply influenced by the mythology and stories of her home country, from the tragedy of Hamlet to the stark modern lines of Danish furniture-making.  At any rate she's someone I find interesting and will be following in the coming season.

I really don't get why everyone is so darn obsessed with A.P.C. (the French label)

I mean seriously, people.

Case in point: the girl who produces Camp Comfort, along with every single person in The Laws of General Economy community, they all seem to worship heartily at the alter of A.P.C. On Economy, if something gets posted for sale and it says A.P.C on the label, it's done for.  Girls trip over themselves to get a piece of the action like wolves tearing the last morsels of flesh off a downed caribou. I swear.

Disclaimers: 1) I do enjoy the down-to-earth style of Camp Comfort most of the time, 2) I am a rabid/avid follower of Economy and have bought two pretty cool items, and 3) I never owned a piece from A.P.C. and can't vouch for its quality or fit. But A.P.C., though exercising beautifully French restraint and looking mighty comfy, feels like little more than absurdly overpriced basics that you could otherwise get from Gap, or Banana, or J. Crew.  Observe:
Now, what makes it okay to spend $230 on a pair of overalls?  Is the cotton woven from the dried saliva of endangered Amazonian vampire bats?  Golden droplets of fairy-tears?  Tailbones of Ethiopian orphan babies?  I admit there are a few pieces in their new Spring 2010 collection that are lovely, like a few of the tops and dresses.  But there are other pieces that are downright grungy looking, and all I have to do is dig through my childhood closet to achieve that kind of look, thankyouverymuch.

Seeing the kinds of pieces that sell like hotcakes on Economy makes me think that people are indiscriminately and rabidly obsessed with the label without really evaluating the pieces individually for integrity and style.  I don't care what you say or who made it, I won't be duped into buying an ugly, expensive parka just because some fancy French label told me it was cool.


A philosophical question for fashionistas: At what point does gingham become buffalo plaid?

It was news to me when I discovered I'd been misusing the word 'plaid' (the actual cloth) when I really meant to say 'tartan' (the pattern).  In the same way, when you really think about it, most people use the terms 'gingham,' 'buffalo plaid' and even 'checks' interchangeably. They all sort of refer to this square-ish, plaid-ish pattern consisting of just two colors.  The only distinction I could make was that people seem to use 'gingham' when the pattern of squares is small, as with Dorothy's famous blue gingham dress, and buffalo plaid when the pattern is large, as in a flannel lumberjack's shirt.

Dictionaries and wikipedia are not much help; they say gingham is a type of cloth that's usually woven in a checked pattern, and buffalo plaid is simply defined as "a broad checkered plaid pattern usually of two colors."  Which is to say, they are practically the same thing.  And yet they're not!
But let's get down to the interesting stuff, which is the fact that this pattern, especially in black-and-white, has been popping up everywhere.  

I was only moved to blog about it when I saw the beautiful way designer Christopher Kane applied the pattern in his Spring 2010 collection. The cuts, the silhouettes, the drape of the fabric, they are all gorgeously and daringly executed.  But what really makes Kane's collection interesting to me is that he cut the fabric on a bias, so the pattern falls diagonally instead of up-and-down.  I've never seen buffalo plaid (or gingham, as most people are referring to Kane's dresses) so graceful, so ethereal.  It's an interesting juxtaposition of luxuriously delicate fabric and really down-to-earth practicality.  

Of course, I don't expect to afford the real thing so I went off in search of some suitable plaid/gingham dresses that could substitute.  Here's what I found, though I have to say only a couple of them even come close to Christopher Kane's frocks (Scottish designer Zoe Watt's Brass Label being one of them- discovered on Also included some fun accessories featuring the buffalo plaid pattern, from a blanket to slippers to an adorable dog vest.
Clothing: 1. Brass Label collection 2. 3. Forever 21 4. ModCloth 5. Small Earth Vintage 6. Oasis 7. Philip Lim 8. Tambukiki on eBay 9. Urban Outfitters 10. Marks & Spencer 11. kensiegirl 12. American Eagle 13. Forever 21 14. Gap 15. Paul Smith 16. Hot Topic hoodie 17. PixieMarket coat 18. Plastic Island sweater cardigan
Accessories: 1. Old Navy umbrella2. Urban Outfitters throw blanket. 3-4. Aeropostale bikini top and bottom 5. Anthropologie bra 6. Etsy dog vest 7. Forever 21 hi-tops  8. Forever 21 slippers

Dilemmas: Incarnations of Black-and-White Tie Dye, the Dress and the Scarf.

Another of my personal fall trends (maybe they are better labeled as "interests," "fascinations," or "obsessions"): tie-dyed things.  I'm specifically drawn to the black-and-white variety, or its equally neutral cousins (gray-and-black, white-and-navy), because let's face it, I am not one to pull off the rainbow-hued hippie sort of tie-dyed T-shirt.

The concept first entered my consciousness through Lucky's end-page spread from Andrea Linett, the insufferably smug creative director who has been called "the horsey, manfaced ex-Sassy editor" by at least one vehement blogger.  I know, I hate her sense of entitlement too.  But I totally developed an infatuation with this tie-dyed cashmere scarf she featured in the some really old issue of Lucky. The very idea of tie-dyed cashmere was intoxicating - such a flippant, casual method applied to such a luxurious material.  The scarf, of course, was way out of my budget, but the idea stuck.
A month ago, my dear Annie sported a simple tank dress from Calvin Klein that was tie-dyed in the same way.  Of course, this girl can pull off anything, but it really looked good--and versatile to boot, the way she combined it with black tights and a belt. Then, I saw a glimpse of some tie-dye the other week while browsing through American Apparel.  Usually I am hard-pressed to find anything worth buying at AA, but the style of the dye almost exactly matched the one in Ms. Linett's spread.  And finally, I was reminded of this latent tie-dye obsession when I came across a beautiful, version of the tie-dyed dress in the tambukiki eBay boutique.

Now, I'm torn!  Do I get the simple shift dress from Calvin Klein (on sale now for just $20!)?  Or the giant and infinitely versatile circle scarf from American Apparel ($34)?  Or both?  Or do I bite the bullet and invest in one of the uber-extravagant cashmere versions ($200+)?

Meet: tambukiki (or, I'm pretty sure I've found a new addiction)

So there I was, minding my own business, doing a search on "purple coats" on eBay for a possible Halloween costume when I saw, at the bottom of the listings, a sponsored listing (read: AD!) for this other eBay seller who apparently had nothing to do with purple coats, tambukiki.  I was intrigued by the dress in the picture and clicked through.

I found myself in a veritable treasure trove of dazzlingly cute, pretty, wearable, and--best of all--totally affordable clothing!  Actually, what struck me first were the product photos.  They are certainly done with an expensive camera against a simple gray backdrop, and the seller includes no less than nine high-quality photos for each item.  By far the best product photos I've ever seen on eBay.  I don't understand why more people don't do this--it makes your stuff look so much better!
But beyond the photos, the styles themselves are so very cute, and so very unique, and the stuff seems to be decent quality for the price (I'd place it somewhere around Urban Outfitters or the nicer stuff at Forever 21).  I am dizzy with the vast selection tambukiki offers - probably around 1500 listings at any given time, so there's always something new and fabulous to discover.  It's taking a lot of self control for me to refrain from buying up her whole store.  For you, dear readers, I picked through almost all 1500 listings and bring you the best of my favorites list.

You can find tambukiki's eBay store here.  Happy shopping--I'll probably see you at the auction block =)