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.

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.

The arduous journey of finding the ideal black jacket ends (quite happily) with: Nicholas K.

I am not sure why, but finding the right black jacket is incredibly difficult.  Months of scouring, neck-breaking work, really. And diligently sifting though a WHOLE LOTTA UGLY is not easy, I'm telling you!  Even ModCloth, with their 500+ styles of jackets, coats and assorted outerwear, failed me.

I made it a bit more difficult for myself, I admit, because I had something very specific in mind:
  • Short, hitting just at the top of the hips.  I have to be able to move around in it, you know what I mean? I have had it with long coats, seriously.  They totally get in the way of everything and feel much too formal for anything I ever do.  I have one long black wool coat (I call it my "opera coat") way back from my East Coast days and I can count on my fingers how many times I've worn it.
  • Bomber or motorcycle style.  I decided that the ubiquitous peacoat styles are not for me.  Warm they are, but it's hard for me to wear one without being tempted to wear tennis shoes with it, and thus look frumpy.  Not to mention they have to be impeccably tailored, and most mass-market merchants just aren't that good.
  • Mid-weight. I already have this giant puffer jacket with a huge, dramatic collar from BCBG for the coldest days (and the aforementioned "opera coat."  I actually go to the opera more often than one would expect from a cheapskate like me.  But that, of course, is because one of my good friends used to work at the LA Opera and throw me free tickets so I could act as a "seat filler."  Of course I would show up, in true LA fashion, in my jeans.).  And yet living in the Bay Area means a simple cardigan or cotton jacket simply won't do.  Basically, I need something to replace this natty Patagonia fleece (which I got for free, from work) I've been wearing all the time.  I mean, it's a good jacket, but only if I'm going hiking or doing something equally active.
  • NOT leather.  Prefer wool, cotton, whatever - as long as it's relatively easy to maintain.  Is it too much to ask for a bomber jacket that is NOT made out of leather, or leather substitute?  For real!
  • Some interesting detail.  This is probably the hardest criteria of all.  When it comes to jackets, there is a deplorable wealth of mediocrity out there.  Everything looks the same, that is, b-o-r-i-n-g.  So I kept my eyes open for some interesting thing - a cool collar, an interesting cut, an asymmetrical zipper, artfully arranged buttons.  When it comes to stuff you're going to wear every day, I say go big or go home.
Enter Nicholas K, who I think has made the most perfect collection of outerwear in existence, in his Fall 2009 line.  

His dresses and tops I wasn't such a fan of, but every piece of his outerwear collection is utter perfection, from the shape and silhouette to the slouchy, casual but still luxurious materials.  They are the incarnation of everything I've ever dreamed of in a coat, or a jacket, or a sweater cardigan.  It's like Nicholas K has a direct psychic connection to every whim of my brain.
Check out the rest of the line here. There's a LOT of pieces, each one of them unique and delightful in their beautiful little details, masterful cuts and natural styling.  It's the kind of clothing I could totally live in, if I were rolling around in money.  Because no, they are not cheap.  I first encountered the Kepler jacket, on a chance Gilt Fuse sale where they were going for $115 (down from $300 retail), but one second of hesitation cost me the purchase and they were sold out like that * snap *.  It was everything I was looking for: fabric, short, cool foldover collar, asymmetrical zip, ribbed hem and cuffs.  It was, in a word, perfect.

But of course, having found the perfect jacket, I had to be patient and bide my time.  I found the jacket at exactly one store, a quirky boutique called Petulia's Folly in Philly.  At the time it was on sale, but still too expensive ($229).  So I sat on it for a few weeks and sure enough, tonight I found they slashed the price down to $150.  I knew the time had come and I had to pounce.

And so, this little girl is one lovely black jacket richer.

Sock Dreams: They're really passionate about socks.

Having acquired a couple pairs of boots, I realized.... well, one cannot live on skinny jeans alone.  I'm getting fed up with the leggings/boots look that is so pervasive, so uniform, on the streets of SF.  The worst is that this look so doesn't work for the curvy-hipped among us, though you'll certainly see heavy-bottomed girls try to pull it off, with disastrous results. 

I'm thinking if you have a butt/hips to speak of, and you want to wear boots, your best bet is a weather-appropriate skirt.  But one doesn't always want to bother with tights, so enter the most sensible option: SOCKS

Up until now I've dismissed socks as an essential but kind of...ahem...pedestrian part of any wardrobe.  It wasn't an area that lit up my imagination. I have my white athletic socks and some ankle socks that go with slacks, and that's about it.
But then in my quest for socks, I came across Sock Dreams, apparently the premier place to shop for socks online. Let me tell you, these people know socks.  And they will hand-hold you through the process of choosing exactly the right look, fit, fiber content, and even sock accessories!  They review all their offerings and tell you the range of foot and calf sizes each sock will fit, as well as stay-up power.  

It was the first time I seriously considered getting socks that went past my calves at all.  In fact, some of their socks go all the way up your thighs. And they all look so very cozy.  Brilliant!  One might call it my sock awakening.  Beyond wearing them with boots, I'm also intrigued by the idea of wearing knee-high and thigh-high socks with regular shoes, especially mary-janes, something I've never had the balls to do before.

I compiled some of the colors, textures, patterns, and lengths that I'm considering for your perusal.  Chevrons, solids, and stripes galore!

Someone plz stop me from buying up the whole Coclico site.

I've been tracking this site for a while.  I was a bit confused at first about what, exactly, the Coclico folks did.  I have some to the conclusion that they not only design and make their own beautiful shoes, but they also are purveyors of a handful of other fine shoes.

I think the shoes speak for themselves: poetic structure, sumptuous materials, lovely little details.  And they look rather comfortable.  Only drawback?  They are NOT cheap.  But never fear, many styles are on sale now at  I've got my eye on the esska mary-janes with the teal straps and the esska black boot.

My burning love affair with Cydwoq shoes, part 2.

I was waiting for permission from the Cydwoq folks to post these pictures of some of my favorite designs from their Vintage line...The Modern line is pretty great as it were, but there's something about the Vintage line that captures my imagination.

I love the details, the slightly offbeat yet organic shapes, and the undeniable integrity of these shoes.  Time to save up so I can add to my collection of one =)
Check out the full line of Cydwoqs here.

My burning love affair with Cydwoq shoes, part 1.

It's been a couple months now since I wandered the shops of Noe Valley and found myself in the Rabat Shoes boutique, and coming face-to-face with one of the most beautiful pairs of shoe craftsmanship I had ever seen in my life.

Before I begin, know that these shoes are much more expensive than I am used to. I mean, compared high-falutin' shoes from established designers, they are not that expensive (most of their shoes, even the boots, don't exceed $500), but for ordinary citizens who toil for their food and generally find it difficult to cough up more than $100 for things you walk around in, these shoes are expensive.

Cydwoq (pronounced "sidewalk") is an independent label in Burbank, CA.  It began with a man who likes to walk, and comes from a line of Armenian shoemakers.  Watching the video below, you come to understand that each design, and even each shoe, has a story.  
The reason the shoes are so expensive is that a) the quality of the leather is downright seductive and b) each pair is made by hand, by American workers.  American labor is expensive.  But beyond the quality of the materials and painstaking attention to detail is that undeniable, intangible quality of old-world depth the shoes have.  I felt it the instant I saw them, and knew I had something special on my hands.

The shoes in question are called Decade, from Cydwog's Vintage line.  They are a unique take on the classic oxford shoe, managing to seem very old and worldly-wise and yet modern at the same time.  I think it's the combination of the mottled, rich brown leather and the low-cut profile of the shoe.  They were on huge discount at Rabat (about 40% off), but still I hemmed and hawwed for like an hour, trying them on and waking around the store and staring soulfully at my own feet.  It was really no use though, because as soon as I put them on I felt they had been made for my feet, because they fit so perfectly.  I was utterly taken.

In the end, because it was one of two pairs left in the store, the lady kindly knocked off an additional $30 or so, and that did me in.  I bought them, but at about $180 including tax they are still the most expensive pair of shoes I've bought to date.

It took me a while to think of a good way to wear them, and I experimented with a couple other new things I bought recently: a little chambray dress I got for $20 from Therapy and plaid Look from London tights (quickly becoming my favorite pair!).  And a very old plain black cardigan I bought from Express back in high school, which I also love to pieces.

Meet: Nervous System, gorgeous design for the nerdiest among us

We got this via a friend, Chi Chiu, via Fast Company via  Which means several design blogs have broken this story, but it doesn't seem like any of the fashion blogs have picked it up yet.  We hope we're one of the first!
Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg, two MIT grads, started Nervous System as a side-project offshoot of their architecture projects.  They use generative processes, interactive algorithms inspired by natural phenomena and organic forms, to create jewelry that is at once beautiful and mathematical.  They believe so strongly in the fluid and infinitely customizable nature of their products that they make their open-source applets available under the creative commons license.

For those of us laypeople who have trouble understanding the esoteric language on their 'About Us' page, all we need to know is that the pieces are a unique blend of science, design, and art--made with sustainable materials and using ethical methods.  And besides the fact that they are lovely, they are also totally affordable!  I love it and will definitely be treating myself to a couple pieces this holiday season.

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