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:

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.

The blood in my heart quickened when I saw these jewels by Arunashi

Affordable they are not ($1200 - $2500 on sale at But it's pretty rare that jewelry captivates my imagination so undeniably, and I find these Indian-inspired designs from Arunashi Jewelry to be exceptionally lovely, with their use of burnished 22K gold and smoothly polished stones that look like they're holding some beautiful secret.  Lavish and delicate, indulgent yet somehow restrained, and in colors that suggest some otherworldly, faraway place and perfectly reflect my mood this summer.

Perhaps they'll be mine.  Someday.

"Go big or go home." That's what Rachel Leigh's jewelry says to me.

I seriously need to build up a jewelry collection... I am still keeping gross little base-metal trinkets and beaded things I've had since high school and college.  Might be time to graduate to "grown up" jewelry.  And as long as we're looking at jewelry, why bother with delicate little bonbons when you can make a splash with a statement necklace?

I love how Rachel Leigh's designs edge on flamboyant, but still convey an elegant restraint in terms of color (or lack thereof), and consistency of shape, and texture.  There's something very beautiful indeed about a fantastic explosion of crystals clustering around one's throat.  And, on Gilt Groupe they are quite affordable indeed, almost all under $100.  Happy shopping.

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.

The Erickson Beamon necklace that Chuck gave Blair in Gossip Girl - on sale at

So I'm not really a diamonds kind of girl (too much controversy/conflict), and I don't know who has this kind of money to throw around, but I was pretty excited to see this necklace on sale at this morning. It's the same necklace Chuck got Blair for her birthday, after the first time they got busy in his limo.

There's only one left and it's $7999 (down from a cool $30K). Exciting.

A Test of Efficiency/Efficacy: Diary of sh*t I bought in the last 4 months.

Posted simultenously to

I feel like I'm spilling all my secrets. 

Don't think for one minute that, with all my mooning about beautiful shoes and things, I somehow lose track or control of my spending or, as I've heard some people say, "have nothing to show for it."  Au contraire, I know exactly where every penny has gone and try to make purchases through careful deliberation (doesn't always work, of course).

I definitely make mistakes - I'm still a fledgling shopper, still learning the ropes, still buying things I regret later (or immediately).  I know it will take some time, but what I'm really working towards is developing my taste, my ability to quickly assess fit, style, quality, and value--understanding what I like and what I don't like, what works and what won't, slowly getting more confident making this assessment, and slowly becoming faster at it.  

I've come a long way in the last few years--it all started when I realized that I was a) buying pretty stuff I didn't wear and b) not wearing it out of laziness, defaulting to jeans and t-shirts, and, even worse, c) not wearing it because I lacked confidence/self esteem.  I realized I didn't wear half the stuff I bought because I did not like calling attention to myself.  I have been very lucky to have always worked in offices that allow a lot of room for creativity.  I realized that if I could work up the nerve to pull off some of the stuff I bought, and get used to the attention it would bring, perhaps that gumption would seep into other areas of my life.  I also realized that it would be fun to to approach style as another form of self-expression.  As Garry tells me, "wear it and hold your head up!"

I digress.

As I said, I keep close tabs on my credit card statement, the wad of receipts in my wallet, and the accumulation of "stuff" around my room.  I thought it might be a good exercise to do a recap/roundup of what I bought in the last few months, much of which you may have seen on this blog, along with my thoughts on each item.
April: Some may remember I gave up shopping for Lent.  As soon as Easter came, I bought stuff. A crapton of it.
  • Yellow bag: My first real-leather handbag.  From Marshall's. Besides being a steal, I use it almost every day.  Definite winner.
  • World According to Jess "crossword" case: It is a fantastic overnighter.  I love the separate compartment on the bottom for shoes.
  • Black hoodie, gray sweater, blue top from the Gap: The hoodie replaced one that was falling apart and will come in handy as soon as autumn hits.  The gray sweater I ruined in the dryer - but at least it was only $10 and may make some cozy armwarmers.  The blue top I absolutely love.
  • Shoshanna floral print dress: Huge mistake.  It is sized a true 4 (as opposed to the generous sizing at most chain stores), so I can't even zip it up.  I can't decide if I want to donate it, resell it, try to alter it to fit me, or lose a crapton of weight.
  • Franco Sarto clogs: I love them.  They were totally affordable, the grommets on the side add edge to any outfit, and they are so versatile!
  • RSVP silver sandals: They served their purpose (my friend's wedding).  At $13, does it really matter if I ever wear them again?
  • Frye lace-up boots: One of my most expensive shoe purchases to date.  I like them a lot, but still can't figure out how to wear them. (Help!)
May: This was a month of scouring eBay and traveling.
  • Cotton "tropical toile" sundress: I bought this dress from the fantastic Moule in the Pearl District of Portland, a fantastic purchase from an amazing retail store.  It was a one-of-a-kind sample, made either by Rachel Mara or Michelle Mason (the designer later decided to turn the design into a top instead of a dress).  It has a balloon-y silhouette, is light as air, and I love everything from the pattern of the toile to the black bands that define it at the top and bottom.  The icing on the cake was that it was heavily discounted, and there's no sales tax in Portland.  Score.
  • Black fedora: a random buy at the Saturday Market in Portland.  I like the way it looks/fits but have not figured out where on earth I can wear it with a straight face.
  • Vintage Selby loafers: From one of my favorite sellers on Etsy.  At $10 they were a steal, and I love the extra-long tongues and little gold hardware.
  • Vintage striped secretary blouse: It was also a steal, but it's a bit shapeless.  I need to figure out how to wear it without looking like a referee or a flight attendant.
  • Random jewelry: All purchased on eBay.  You all witnessed the deliberation over the owl, but the blue orchid was an unexpected find, and I was surprised at how much I love that splash of blue against everything.  The bracelets are fine, not super excited about them.
  • Custom pencil skirt from Louise Hedley: I was disappointed with the purchase and ended up giving the Etsy seller neutral feedback (she was very nice/lovely to work with but the color and fit was just not what I expected based on the item description).  Haven't worn it out but maybe one of these days.  Not worth the $ at all.
June: Showed a bit more restraint this month.
  • Plaid "farmer girl" shirt: I can't for the life of me remember the name of the designer even though I chatted with her for a few minutes at SF's Indie Mart.  She very cleverly cuts off the sleeves of things and arranges them in flower patterns on the chest.  I was debating between this and a vest made out of a repurposed blazer, but Garry was right that I would wear this more.  I do, and I love it!
  • Eva Brann cream crochet cardigan: It was the one thing I wanted to buy in all of Beacon Hill when I visited Boston last month.  The preppy, yacht-club style of New England does not jive with me.  I was surprised to find this unexpectedly romantic piece at Boutique Eskil.  It was expensive, but it's beautiful, you can't go wrong with a pretty white cardigan, and there's no sales tax in Boston.  Score.
July:  So far.  This does not include the sh*t I ordered last week from Anthro.  Including the enchanting dark bouquet dress.
  • Look from London plaid tights: The only thing at Jeremy's SF worth buying.  Sushmita and I thought Jeremy's was like a big, disorganized, and appallingly expensive version of Ross.  There were very few good deals to be had, and the selection was awful.  But I salvaged the day with this quirky find - they are super comfortable and lots of fun (and not pricey!).
  • Emily Katz "wish" top: One of the very few things I was moved to buy at the giant DIY flea market that was the Renegade Craft Fair.  Not only was this sample hugely discounted, but I got to chat with Emily herself for a while.  I'll be featuring her in a later post.
  • Elie Tahari snakeskin sandals: You already know all about this one.  They fit all right, but one major negative is that the slingback slips so easily off my heels.  I don't know if I should try to return them, if I just need to break them in, if I should get some kind of heel insert, or if I just need to totter around like a deer in them.