Contrary to run-of-the-mill jewelry: we can't get enough of these delightful charm necklaces!

Thanks to Netta for the tip. My friends and I are in a tizzy over these lover-ly little necklaces by Contrary on etsy, especially the badass necklaces that double as pocket knives and retractable scissors. So keen to have jewelry that hides a defense mechanism, or a useful tool. I like how they are photographed like characters in a stop-motion film.

I also love some of the stationary charm necklaces in Contrary's shop, like this adorable birdcage charm, and the whimsical silver tooth and pine cone. 

And here are some neat utilitarian necklaces for the practical among us:

10% off all Moop bags for their birthday.

Moop is one of those etsy sellers that caught my eye early and held my interest over a long time.  I was delighted to see that they're offering a discount on their very well-made, sturdy bags.  They are the opposite of "fussy," with simple lines and a straightforward practicality.

Now the only challenge is figuring out which style and color combo to choose.  Below you can see the Market bag, the Porter, the Messenger, and the Letter Clutch, among others.  Shop at their etsy shop.

Meet: ArtLab

Otherwise known as Patricia, a designer/artist of incredible pedigree, who operates out of the NYC area.  I've been following ArtLab's work on etsy for a very long time now, and have always found her designs fascinating, haunting, like a creature from a Tim Burton film, except perhaps less stylized and more faded.

I first mentioned one of ArtLab's pieces, "Disjointed Series No. 6," in an old Wearability Challenge post for Jen McCabe.
Honestly, I think conceptually many of her items skate the edge of wearability, as most of them are probably just a tad too unnerving to go out and about without feeling a little self-conscious about it.  But in a way the pieces are intensely wearable, made of luxurious, comfortable fabrics that move easily with the body, and assembled in rather modest, if totally unconventional, ways.  And few can find fault with the neutral color palette that makes all her clothing look as if it had sprung up from the earth.

I especially love ArtLab's way of naming her pieces.  So poetic and dream-like:
  • Andromache's Deconstruction
  • Athena's Head Covering
  • I heard you call my name, in a dream
  • Blues before sunrise
  • Revolutionary Girl
  • Obliquely crossing

DIY (or not): Obi-style corset belt

I don't remember the name of the etsy seller who first turned me on to obi-style wrap belts (unfortunately, she is now inactive), but I clearly remember the belts themselves: neat lines, intricately patterned Japanese fabrics printed in blacks, browns, reds and golds with sakura all over them.  They seem very forgiving of all body types, as the wrap style allows you to adjust them for a very snug fit (and will hide multiple pooches).

They made such a stunning, dramatic statement that I wanted to buy one really badly before I realized: this should be one of the easiest projects for the beginning seamstress, one who, say, had a reliable machine and yards of brightly colored fabrics at her disposal, and was ready to move on from cushions and curtains (like me!).  Since then it's been on that vague, someday-I'll-get-to-it list of things to do.

I recently had another nudge in this direction when I came across an even more inventive version by desirapesta, which looks a bit more like a corset.  But no more difficult to make, I think, if one measures and cuts carefully.  Then I totally fell in love with the ones made out of leather at LedThread...they are so sleek, so brightly colored, and so gorgeous!

I decided I really want to make myself an obi-style corset belt or three... first using the batik fabric I picked up in Kuala Lumpur, and then maybe if I can get my hands on some scrap leather and a tougher needle for my sewing machine!  I'll keep you guys posted on the results.

"Oh, Geo": Speaking of bespoke...

Ok, I know I have to find some other source of inspiration than etsy, all the time, but I'm on a roll here.  I eyed this skirt a long time ago in sohomode's shop, and it sat there for a while without getting picked up and I thought, is everyone crazy, because this skirt is totally fantastic!  So bold! I didn't buy it because of the whole no shopping for Lent thing.  Plus, the original skirt was way too small for me.

But months later when someone finally snapped it up, I was crushed!  I still wanted it.  So I messaged Louise Hedley, the designer, and she very gamely let me know that she had found just one last scrap of fabric just like this one (it was supposed to be one-of-a-kind) and could make it up in my measurements.  After a lot of back and forth on what, exactly, my measurements were, I finally dropped the payment today.  $60 for a bespoke skirt, I think, especially "limited edition" like this, is not bad at all.  I love the contrast of purple belt and bright yellow geometric print, and as long as I was ordering custom, I asked Louise if she could find a lime green fabric to use as the lining, because that would be fun!

Louise makes this pencil skirt in a range of prints and fabrics... check out the link above.  As for me, I am thinking of asking Louise for a knee length, simple A-line red tartan wool skirt (yes I'm already thinking of fall), cut on a bias.

The most kickass necklaces I've seen in a while.

I finally discovered the magic that is Etsy Alchemy, the feature in which you dream up something your heart desires, you post it, and people bid to make it for you.  It sort of hearkens back to the old days of bespoke and custom couture (except--it's totally affordable).  I put out a request for someone to make the grape cluster necklace I missed in an eBay auction last week, and within a few hours I got like 9 bids for it.

One of the artists who offered to make me the necklace was Bejeweled Bespoke, and when I peeked at her shop I was blown away by some of these awesome, bold designs.  My two favorites were a) her feather chandelier necklace (feathers hanging from 12" chains!) and the b) necklace of a million falling leaves.  I also love her "piece de resistance" chandelier earrings, even though chandeliers are so 2004 and I don't have my ears pierced.  It's all so poetic, and so dramatic, I can hardly stand it!

@jensmccabe Weekend Ensemble Challenge

Talk about working under pressure!  At about 1am I chanced across this note from jensmccabe on twitter:

@slimmette have ultimate challenge. Need weekend ensemble. Stat. Must be deliverable via overnight. Not too girly shirt; good w/jeans?

It was sent on 5/5 (mmyeah I rarely check twitter or FB) so I had quite a bit of time to make up.  I didn't even see the part where she said "not too girly shirt," plus I had no idea where she was going or the occasion.  So I guess this ensemble isn't going to be perfect.  Jen - next time leave a comment on Wearability and we'll get it right away!

Outfit 1: "Disjointed series No. 6" top from artlab. Rhombus earrings from polishedtwo. Kickass Report boots from

Outfit 2: Vintage secretary blouse from allencompany.  Tudor yellowheart earrings from orno. Red Tatiana T-strap heels from

Backups: Eyelet sample dress from makool. Kimono sleeve dress with pleated runner from lisarietz.

Handbag: I like this fun little Deena & Ozzy perforated satchel from

Whew--it doesn't even matter if Jen ends up wearing any of this, it was fun to put together =)  I'm going to bed now.


I'm an accessory person. It's so much easier to try something new by adding an accessory than by toying with the delicate balance of one's wardrobe. Since it's springtime I've been developing a bit of an obsession with flowers--in my hair, on my lapel, in my hat...wherever I can put them! Sadly, real flowers die much too quickly, but kanzashi last forever.

Kanzashi is a type of traditional Japanese craft which involves folding fabrics into "petals" with which to construct artificial flower arrangements. Etsy seller SecretLolita has some beautiful and elaborate kanzashi arrangements, so perfect for an outdoor gathering or special occasion. Hanami Gallery has a slightly different chrysanthemum style of kanzashi, but just as gorgeous.