Archive for the ‘Home Decor’ Category

Domestic Goddess

In Accessories, Cocktail Dresses, Home Decor, Jewelry, Shoes on August 24, 2010 at 3:11 pm

I’m loving every aspect of my new Mrs. status — including housekeeping and homemaking and all the trials and tribulations involved therein.  (To my feminist-minded readership: don’t despair of my slightly I’m-down-with-1950s-era-female-repression  opener — there is an equal distribution of power in our little Magpie nest.  And Mr. Magpie cooks me dinner.  A lot.)  Mr. Magpie complains that I’m going to make him fat because I just cannot stop baking — first it was a peach-and-raspberry cobbler (both fruits are so cheap right now!), then it was bread pudding (we had leftover Italian bread and eggs quickly approaching expiration)…

Bread Pudding — image courtesy of Smitten Kitchen

and I just pored over my Nigella Lawson cookbook and am dying to try a few of her dessert recipes.  Of course, I cannot do anything without wondering how to do it in style.  I’m drawing inspiration from an unlikely coupling: the one and only Charlotte York of “Sex and the City,” paradigm of domestic goddess-hood, and Louis Vuitton’s 2010 season (both ad campaign and runway alike), which was brimming with uberfeminine shapes and ladylike separates hailing straight from the 1950s.

Charlotte York, uptown domestic queen

Louis Vuitton’s best ad spread…ever

Ladylike LV on the runway

Let’s start with some shirt dresses.  I’m in love with this navy classic (dubbed “The Jackie” — likely after everyone’s favorite Jackie O. — on sale for $112, TheOutnet), paired with uber-high, unexpectedly sexy Louboutins ($865, ShopSavannah’s):

I’d likely mix it up a bit by swapping out the tone-on-tone belt and subbing in a fitted black bow-front belt ($29.50, The Limited):

Black-on-navy just feels more modern, and the texture contrast is a welcome switch-up.  I like a chunky enorma-stud as the solo accent ($34.50, White House Black Market), with the exception of my wedding band and engagement ring:

If you’d prefer something a bit lighter in hue (you wouldn’t guess it from my past few posts, but we’re still more than a stone’s throw away from fall…), I just picked up an amazing oxford blue shirtdress from H&M ($29, thankyouverymuch) and am still tempted to snag this flutter-sleeve shirt-dress (the flutter just gets me — so feminine! — $29, Old Navy):

Pair with vintage Chanel pearl studs ($220, FarFetch) and a shocking red pair of patent pumps (Jimmy Choo, $665, Net-A-Porter):

Don’t forget a vintage-styled apron in coordinating red ($42, Carolyn’s Kitchen):

(Secretly obsessed with the way the flutter sleeve of the shirt dress echoes the flutter of the apron trim.  Loser over here.)  If, like me, you’re considering trying some of Nigella’s dessert recipes ($19.95, Chefs):

…might as well go the extra yard (i.e. channel Betty Crocker / Martha Stewart / June Cleaver / other fab homemaker) and pick up some pretty cupcake liners (from $3.75, Bake It Pretty):

Love a stylishly presented baked good.  (But don’t get me started on the Georgetown Cupcake craze.  If you live in D.C., you know what I’m talking about.  If you’re out of town: consider yourself lucky.  The uproar is baffling and slightly sad.  Mr. Magpie and I drive by the Gtown Cupcake shop all the time on our way into/out of the District and our eyes nearly pop out of our heads when we see the bajillion and three out-of-towners patiently waiting in line for a cupcake.  Que? P.S.: Insiders know that the cupcakes at Baked and Wired are way better.  And cut.)  Other options for hostessing and/or just feeling good while primping the home?  How darling and feminine and oh-so-chic is this updated housedress by Vanessa Bruno Athe ($123, TheOutnet):

Add this mixed media pearl-chain-and-fabric necklace ($185, Rachel Roy) — adore the pastel peach of the dress against the pastel lavender of the necklace fabric:

Pair with either these slate gray and peach D&G peep toes ($419, Bluefly) for a little contrast or go tone-on-tone by adding these lovely Butter brand slingbacks ($308, Endless):

The perfect topper?  This “Lady Cake” apron ($32, Anthropologie):

Charlotte York wore a similar style in “Sex and the City” (it was also from Anthropologie):

Speaking of Anthro — what an amazing spot to hit that slightly vintage, slightly fashion forward, slightly unkempt balance.  I’m particularly into this Jackie O-esque LBD ($98, Anthropologie):

The folded collar interests me.  As I mentioned earlier this week, I’m on the lookout for slightly left-of-center shapes and styles this season: eye-catching folding, draping, pleats.  Throw it into the mix!  I’d probably go for a super bright patent to pair with this staid dress, but…I’m also dying over these updated Ferragamo pumps (I’m impressed — the somewhat stodgy label managed to update its styling, hoisting its shoe styles out of grandma-only zone! — $584, Zappos):

Pair with these gold bow studs by Kate Spade ($45, Nordstrom) or perhaps these vintage-looking-though-inexpensive costume pieces ($12, Fred Flare):

Don’t forget a feminine wrist watch — this engraved Burberry option is luxe and ladylike in all the right ways ($475, Nordstrom):

And don’t forget the Domestic Goddess’s secret weapon: Benefit’s Bathina body balm ($28, Sephora):

I’ve been using this stuff for years, and it lasts forever and works like a charm.  It has a subtle musky-floral scent, glides on legs and arms, and leaves you looking glimmering and glamorous in the prettiest of ways.  When I need a little pick-me-up (especially when I’m feeling pale), I’ll smooth on some of my other secret weapon (LORAC’s TanTalizer firming body mousse — $28, Sephora) and then some Bathina — and feel instantly recharged.

This odd-print dress (retro-chic if I ever saw a fabric — $161, ModCloth) would also be an enticing pick:

You’ve got to wear some serious black pumps with this get-up — either the Ferragamos above, or these beyond perfect (and sorta throwback-to-Carrie-Bradshaw-circa-2000) Miu Miu pumps ($595, Barney’s):

These TopShop enorma-studs are the perfect addition ($25, TopShop):

And, finally, it just doesn’t get better than this precious “candy striper” ruffle-front dress by Mel en Stel ($350, Sunday Brunch Dress Shop — the second image below is a close-up of the darling print of the fabric) and a pair of glossy red Valentino heels ($695, Foot Candy Shoes):

You’ll definitely rule the roost in these get-ups!


For those of you wondering about the impromptu bread pudding whipped up late Sunday night after our trip to Charlottesville to visit my sister, who is currently starting graduate school at my alma mater, UVA — here is a modified recipe from Paula Deen’s collection.  I know, I know.  Not the most figure-friendly.  But delicious — and can be eaten hot or cold, for breakfast or dessert.  I also had all the ingredients on hand for this little dish (no grocery trips required!), which was an extra bonus!

Impromptu Bread Pudding

Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease a 9×13 baking dish with butter.  Cube day-old Italian bread and place in baking dish (Paula Deen advises for 3 cups of cubed bread, but I probably put more like 4.5 cups in there — I think it’d be too soupy otherwise.  Essentially, make sure the entire dish is covered with a layer or two of cubes.)  Whisk together 2 cups sugar, 4 eggs, 2 cups milk, and 2 teaspoons vanilla.  Pour over the cubed bread and let sit for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, mix/crumble together 1/2 stick butter with 1 cup light brown sugar.  Sprinkle this mixture over the top of the bread cubes just before popping it in the oven.  Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until pudding is “set” and top appears crusty and brown.

Deen includes a vanilla-and-brandy sauce for serving, but this seems over-the-top.  I just made some whipped cream — I always add a healthy dose of powdered sugar and a splash of vanilla for depth of flavor as I’m whipping.



The World Is Your Oyster

In Cocktail Dresses, Home Decor, Jewelry, Shoes on July 23, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Sometimes you’ve got to take your cues from the natural world.  I had originally conceived of this post as an homage to the pearl (probably my favorite “gem” — and also my birthstone) but quickly found myself drawn to pairing the luminescent pearl with the craggy grays of the oyster shell.  It’s a genius combination — and effortlessly modern, especially since I’ve sensed a return to mid-90s minimalism in some recent big name fashion collections.  Working with shades of gray is an easy way to achieve the modern monochromatic remix of mid-90s simplicity.  And here, below, are a few of my favorite pieces.

To begin: a feminized oyster gray dress by Derek Lam ($845, TheOutnet):

Now here’s the trick: offsetting the matte gray with the glow of pearl accents.  Though I’m typically against wearing flats to events marked “cocktail” or more formal, these mother-of-pearl adorned Giuseppe Zanotti sandals (on sale for $695, Shop the Shoebox) impart just the right amount of irridescence:

Then all you need is a little ivory clutch, some pearl-accented enorma-studs (I adore the Kendra Scotts featured below — $70, Max and Chloe), and you’re good to go.  I wouldn’t clutter the look with much else — your shoes are about as much bling as you need.

For a dress with a little less flounce and feminity, amp up the pearl presence.  Consider, for example, the J. Crew “Gracie” dress in light pewter ($189, J. Crew):

It is, essentially, the perfect wedding guest (or bridesmaid!) dress.  Elegant, sophisticated, and still fresh thanks to the unexpected color.  You can easily make the look more radiant, more lively by adding pearl accents — perhaps these  dainty, vintage-like pearl drops ($68, J. Crew) and this cluster pearl bracelet ($88, Danielle Stevens):

Or if you are more an oversized-cocktail-ring kinda gal (this little Magpie is), check out this Lee Angel bauble ($75, Net-A-Porter):

Or maybe just let this unbelievable clamshell Judith Leiber bag do all the talking for you ($4,395, Neiman Marcus):

(Side note: is it wrong that I’m almost as excited to be carrying a classic Judith Leiber clutch to the reception of my wedding as I am to be wearing my gorgeous wedding gown?!  Eee!  Fashion overload.)  You can get the look for (much, much) less with this La Regale beaded clutch ($38, La Regale):

While we’re on the subject of the shell itself (did you know some people collect them?  They are gorgeous!) — I just have to feature my favorite little Kate Spade ring (on sale for $82, Nordstrom):

The perfect accent to this Halston Heritage v-neck mini ($325, Net-A-Porter) paired with these pearl-accented t-straps ($69.95, Anthropologie):

Just don’t forget to keep the gold of the ring company — add on some gold-rimmed shades or a gold-accented bag for good measure.  For work purposes, don’t you live for this pearl-beaded Marni top (a cool $823, MyTheresa)?

Pear with a white pencil skirt (I featured this D & G yesterday — $80, Farfetch) and these killer Yves St. Laurent pumps ($409, MyTheresa) for a little edge:

(If those are too avant garde for you, the lower-heeled Miu Mius or the patent Michael Kors pair I featured yesterday should work just fine.)  All you need is a pair of enormous pearl studs and you’re ready to go.  Or maybe pair this See by Chloe top ($108, TheOutnet — love the scalloping along the neckline) with some white skinnies and a pair of pearlescent flats (Vivienne Westwood, $115, My Wardrobe):

If you walk on the bolder side and like the chunky jewelry look, consider throwing this Hive & Honey pearl cluster stunner on top ($68, Piper Lime):

Or perhaps this Wendy Mink be-pearled bracelet ($160, Wendy Mink) or Marta Per ring, if you’d prefer an accent piece rather than a front-and-center statement ($95, Farfetch):

Store your pearl gems in this lovely mother of pearl dish ($30, Jayson Home and Garden) — placed oh-so-coordinatedly beside your mother of pearl lamp ($348, Gumps):

As for decorating yourself: another office-appropriate styling option?  This ASOS ruffle-front dress ($68, ASOS):

Love the glowing blush color of the skirt.  Offset with this clover necklace by Soixante Neuf ($147, Bluefly) and its matching ring ($117, also Bluefly):

Love.  If you’d prefer a heavier look to your jewelry, you could swap in this Kate Spade oyster bay necklace ($158, Kate Spade) and it’s matching bracelet ($116, Nordstrom):

The color palette works well for the evening — and is somewhat unexpected.  You’d certainly be the belle of the ball, standing out in a sea of black.  Consider, for example, this floor length La Perla gown (yes, they do ready-to-wear now! — $595, Net-A-Porter):

Love the beaded, plunging neckline.  And when you’re wearing it — the world is your oyster!

Gold Rush

In Accessories, Cocktail Dresses, Home Decor, Jewelry, Shoes on July 21, 2010 at 4:09 pm

It’s probably fairly obvious that I’m obsessed with gold accents.  I feel like I’m constantly recommending a “hard cased gold clutch” and “oversized gold jewelry” — it’s just very now and it goes so well with my favored looks: the nautical, the neon, the glitzy, and — yes — the 1970s disco scene.  So this post is positively gilded: get ready for some 24 karat, let’s-go-for-the-gold objets d’art.  To begin: the classic Alice & Olivia Sequin mini (on sale for $346, ChickDownTown):

This dress has been around a few seasons and it ain’t going anywhere fast.  Perfect for Vegas, bachelorette parties, New Year’s Eve, and — well — anytime you need a little gold rush.  For mega-watt shine (and telling taste), pair with these sculptural Moschino heels (on sale for $408, Zappos):

There’s something fetchingly futuristic about them that I can’t quite put my finger on — but at 50% off, what a treasure!  Seal the deal with this hard-cased clutch (Menbur, $144, Endless) and a pair of faux rocks ($40, Max & Chloe):

You’ll look like a million bucks.  Of course, you don’t need to be as blinged out.  There’s a slightly more understated, less-Vegas-appropriate side to the gold tone.  It begins with this lovely Kors sheath ($663, The Outnet):

Pure class, especially with these bow-toe Kate Spade pumps ($285, Zappos):

It’s the perfect hostess getup, in my opinion — chic, slightly retro, and pulled together.  (I always find that a tidy, uptown, “Charlotte York”-inspired aesthetic is perfect for entertaining guests — you’ll feel on top of things, even if you’re running around at the last minute.)  Come to think of it — gilded serve-wear might be the Midas touch for effortless entertaining.  Imagine serving hors d’oeuvres on this chic platter ($145, Vivre):

Truth be told, however, I’ve snapped up a collection of inexpensive gold lacquer chargers over the years ($4 apiece, Pier1) and they always look festive and more expensive than they appear:

I use them to creatively arrange cheese plates, rows of appetizers, and even glasses of champagne.  And serving champagne has never been as regal as it will be with these flutes ($128, Eden & Eden):

Back to decorating yourself, however: this Mad Men-inspired dress has all the panache you’d need for an evening of hosting ($123, ModCloth):

I’d pair with these similarly textured Kate Spade “Carlies” ($298, Kate Spade):

Those puppies would look equally lovely with this metallic-threaded lurex dress by Chloe (why does Hannah MacGibbon do everything right?  Her stuff is exquisite but delightfully wearable — $1,795, The Outnet):

Throw on this chunky gold statement necklace to “toughen” things up (Kenneth Jay Lane, on sale for $89, Piper Lime):

Perfect for a lady’s lunch, a meeting in the boardroom, or slightly-on-the-conservative side cocktail hour — especially when you’re keeping time with this expensive-looking — but affordable! — watch (ugh, love it, need it, want it — on sale for $76.90, Nordstrom):

And if you’re the hostess, you might consider arranging some buds in this gorgeous vase (matches your servewear above — bonus points! — $895, Vivre) and serving post-prandial coffee or tea in this  opulent teapot ($42, Jayson Home and Garden):

Don’t forget to fluff these fit-for-the-queen gold thread pillows ($175, Jayson Home and Garden):

Very neo-Versailles…though if you want to go the old school Napoleon route, imagine seating your guests on these over-the-top chairs ($515, Ivory Pearl Interiors):

Pretty luxe.  If you decide, after your guests leave, that you need to head out and let loose with cocktails and into-the-night dancing, slip into these “I’m ready to disco”  Louboutin heels ($1,195, Net-A-Porter) and throw your essentials into this to.die.for Amanda Pearl clutch ($1,595, Amanda Pearl):

Don’t forget to slip out of the collar necklace and opt for these swinging gold danglers instead (Roberto Cavalli, $615, Net-A-Porter):

Or overhaul the sheath altogether and opt for this glitzy-glam Pucci mini ($1,336, TheOutnet) instead:

Golden goddess material —  especially with some dramatic faux cils (Shu Uemura’s are supposedly the best — $20 a pop) and these kicky, dance-ready shoes (appropriately titled “Fire It Up” shoes — $49, Lori’s Shoes):

Don’t forget the perfect little hard-cased minaudiere (DVF, $295, Diani Boutique) and — just for fun — this bow ring by the one-and-only Kate Spade ($75, Nordstrom):

For those of us with an evening schedule that is less-than-packed with shimmery-little-dress occasions, don’t fret!  There are plenty of awesome ways of glamming up your daywear routine.  These two wear-everywhere totes are as good as gold: the first is by Tory Burch ($325, Foot Candy Shoes) and the second is by Kate Spade ($585, Kate Spade):

The lattice-work of the floral bag above reminds me of these perforated gold flats by Ciao Bella I’ve looked longingly at for awhile now (on sale for $59, PiperLime):

Alternately, glam yourself up regardless of your daytime activities with these gold-toned shorts (Schumacher, on sale for $152, MyTheresa):

Alternately, for a more ladylike look, consider this full-skirted Elizabeth & James wonder ($382, My Theresa):

With a prim, fitted white button down and the KJL statement piece above, you’ll be setting the gold standard!

Under the Awning

In Accessories, Beach Wear, Home Decor, Jewelry, Shoes, Sundresses, Work Wear on July 19, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Lately I’ve been daydreaming about buying a house in the traditional Virginia style — a mini Monticello if you will.  This is probably because I attended UVA (and consequently have the requisite fascination with all things Jeffersonian), grew up spending long weekends down at the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, VA, and spent the weekend of my proposal at the classic Virginia getaway Keswick Hall.  I’m particularly drawn to awning stripes — so graphic and vintage at the same time — which are all over the place in classic Virginia resorts, showing up in the form of wallpaper, upholstery, bedding, and — yes — awnings themselves.

The Great Hall at the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, VA

A Suite at the Homestead

In particular, I’m coveting a lovely little garden out back with this gorgeous wrought-iron backyard seating ($1,450, Garden House Decor):

The striped pillows make the look — and you can get the same look inside by jazzing up your couch with these awning stripe pillows from Restoration Hardware (on sale for $15.99 apiece):

And even those these awning striped lamps are made for kiddie rooms, I just may have to snap up a set to spruce up my soon-to-be-nautical-inspired living room in the newlywed nest ($62, Cheeky Little Munchkins):

The items above remind me of my absolute favorite tote of the summer, to be worn with the same laid-back, easy-breeziness that I affiliate with traditional Virginia style: The Tory Burch Stripe Canvas Tote (on sale for $136, Tory Burch):

Perfect for toting to the beach for a day in the sun, especially with a simple white or navy bikini — these days, I’m obsessed with the simple, flattering stylings of NYC-based Palma Swimwear ($65 for top and $65 for bottom, Palma NYC):

Of course, if you’re willing to take the bold stripe look a few steps forward, try this French Connection one-piece on for size ($76, Bluefly):

Perfect with an easy-on white caftan and a big canvas tote — and so is this two-piece version from TopShop ($50):

This pricier Undrest version is beyond precious…if only I hadn’t already sprung for five new bikinis for the honeymoon, I might make an exception and snap these separates up ($85 for top, $90 for bottom — Undrest):

Love the ruffling around the edges and the almost-bow shape of the bandeau.  Strike a similar (striped) pose by pairing a simple white sundress with these Burberry striped espadrilles ($395, Zappos):

Or really go for the bold with this ribbon striped Alice & Olivia frock ($396, Alice and Olivia):

For something a bit less formal, I’m absolutely bananas over the interesting open-shoulder design of this Ella Moss “Liberty Dress” (also love the navy-white contrast — $162, Revolve Clothing):

Love it with this gilded clover necklace by Tory Burch ($195) —

Although I got my clover necklace for far less from Stella & Dot and wear it constantly (it’s long enough to loop around your neck twice for a different look — $59, Stella & Dot):

As an alternative to the Ella Moss dress above, this ALC striped number is perfectly on point for this season ($295, Barney’s):

Layer on this “clover beaded” necklace ($145, Tory Burch) and pair with these perfectly summery Tila March sandals (around $220, Tila March)

Or maybe this slightly more offbeat Bernhard Willhelm cowl neck striped dress is more your speed — still getting the awning stripe vibe, but without the crisp and potentially stuffy preppiness of it all ($768, Farfetch):

As we inch towards fall, I’m thinking it’d be the perfect transition piece — just throw on some opaque black tights and a greige leather hand bag.  Anya Hindmarch has some unbelievable versions in the perfect greige color out — I saw her “Leland” style at Sassanova last weekend (one below on the left) and drooled over its soft leather perfection for a good ten minutes:

Before I get ahead of myself by leaping full force into fashion for fall (it’s far too hot outside to think seriously about autumn), let’s consider some additional summer separates featuring what I’ve dubbed the Virginia Stripe.  How perfect, for example, is this “Cricket Match Skirt” from ModCloth ($41.99):

Adore the bow — feminine without being TOO fussy.  I’d wear it with a simple black tank and some black flats for work (Lanvin’s classic ballerinas are on my lust list — $495, Net-A-Porter):

Pair with simple pearl studs for easy elegance.  Or wear the skirt above with these killer Kate Spade pumps — ay yay yay, I want these so badly.  The chiffon-esque fabrication leaves me drooling, while the stripes make for a perfect match with the skirt ($325, Nordstrom):

Or just punch up an otherwise straightforward outfit (I wear a breezy white dress once or twice a week, switching in bold statement jewelry to make it fresh) with these striped baubles from Kate Spade ($45 for earrings, $65 for bracelet — Nordstrom):

And though I’m admittedly not a fan of Tom’s footwear (sorry — love the cause, bud), I lingered over these Roxy Tortola shoes for awhile, captivated by their simple charm (on sale for $16.99, Roxy):

I think you might be able to pull them off if you keep the rest of your getup extremely tailored and borderline over-the-top preppy (I’m imagining crisp white shorts, an oxford, oversized pearls, and a structured Kate Spade tote).  And until I can afford to outfit my home a la Sara Gilbane (interior decorator extraordinaire — see below for pictures), I’ll just have to stick to awning striped accents and fashion pieces.

(Hopefully won’t be needing the nursery for awhile, but adore it nonetheless).  In the meantime, I can still show off with these awning striped, letterpressed calling cards ($171, Crane’s):

Striped perfection!

Back to the 50s

In Cocktail Dresses, Home Decor, Jewelry, Shoes on July 1, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Like my mother and my mother’s mother, I am constantly ripping pages out of magazines and storing them in an ever-expanding file of “things I like.”  Many of these I eventually forget about or ultimately toss in the trash, but every now and then, I’ll come across an image that I just cherish.  Kind of like those images in our collective cultural consciousness — the sailor returning home from WWII and kissing his girlfriend; Marilyn Monroe with her skirt billowing up; little JFK Jr. saluting his father’s coffin — images that capture a moment or a spirit so well, they earn instant icon status.  One of my all time personal fashion favorites has got to be this Oscar de la Renta ad:

Swoon.  I pretty much wish I could dress like that every day of my life.  (The digs aren’t bad either.)  When I re-encountered this photo yesterday, I was instantly daydreaming about a 1950s wardrobe, replete with full skirts, feminine pumps, and enorma-studs.  Essentially, all my favorite things rolled up into one placid decade where…well, not much happened (many now consider the 1950s a “conformist” period — perhaps relative to the rockin, rebellious ’60s.  However, the HBO series Mad Men has illustrated that beneath the calm, cool, collected appearance of the 1950s nuclear family, an inner angst was simmering).  At any rate, our concerns here will remain sartorial, so I’ll just jump right to it and present you with some lustworthy Betty Draper-inspired looks.  To begin: a perfectly polished Eva Franco polka dot dress with a flattering nipped-in waist ($258, Anthropologie):

Pair with black bow-toe peeptoes (Valentino, $695, Bergdorf Goodman), pearls (Tiffany Signature Pearl Necklace, $5,150, Tiffany), and a little top-handle doctor’s bag (I featured this bag a few day’s ago, but I just adore it — Anya Hindmarch, on sale for $778, My Wardrobe):

I’m also thinking that you’ll need an old-fashioned rotary telephone ($340, Conran) at home so that you can “ring” your friends for cocktail hour:

You might consider wearing this little strapless top with the high-waisted bow-front skirt by up-and-coming designer Sarah Seven ($280 for look, Sarah Seven — note that she custom makes every order based on your specifications and that, because Martha Stewart featured her in one of her magazines a few years back, she’s slammed with business and has a long waiting list; I know this because I tried to order one of her white “wedding” dresses as my rehearsal dinner dress but the wait would have been too long!):

The mustard yellow is pure kitsch.  Pair with these precious Kate Spade pumps (love that the bow on the sling back strap echoes the styling of the skirt — on sale for $227, FootCandyShoes):

Adorable, especially with these precious “Carsisi” earrings ($45, J. Crew):

Why not serve up some cocktails on a festive lacquer tray ($70, Decorative Things):

Maybe some Tom Collins or G&Ts in these festive green highballs ($20 for 4, Fishs Eddy):

And, to make sure your guests are reclining in comfort and style, cushion your couch with retro-cool pillows like this Thomas Paul style (this exact version is sold out, but check out his awesome printed alternatives from this season at Velocity Art & Design — they are usually between $70-$100/pillow):

For lunch at the club?  How about a 50s era madras dress like this little Lorick number ($322, Sunday Brunch Dress Shop):

I dream about wearing it with these Fendi pumps to give the look a slightly updated feel ($695, Net-A-Porter):

(I tried these on in Intermix the other day and my ankles essentially snapped in half.  Treacherous, but beautiful.  They are about 23 inches high.  Speaking of Intermix, you can get an extra 40% off their already reduced sale items right now on their site.  Slim pickings now.)  Add on this bamboo handle bag by Buti ($559, Forzieri) and these adorable sunburst-shaped enormastuds by Ylang23 Vintage ($180, Ylang23):

Another country club afternoon option: this Thread Social madras dress (on sale for $412, Honey in the Rough):

The madras colors are perfectly 1950s.  Wear with simple pearl earrings (Mikimoto, $190-$680 depending on size, Nordstrom):

And indulge in a summer game of croquet (I love this shot of Gossip Girl’s Chuck Bass):

You can buy your own set from LLBean for $129.  If you’re heading out for dinner and dancing — why not this killer Oscar de la Renta gown (I die over it — $2,790, Net-A-Porter):

Pin your hair up and add on this lace version of the Valentino pumps I’m so ga-ga over ($885, Saks):

And, to switch things up — spurn the studs and head straight for the dramatic with these Kenneth Jay Lane danglers ($180, Net-A-Porter):

Tres chic, ca.  Reminiscent of the amazing wardrobe in the film “An Education” (if you haven’t seen it — do it, if only for the fashion).

Back at home, slip into a comfortable shirt dress for your daily routine — I’m loving this little ModCloth number ($99, Modcloth):

Pair with these impractically high Louboutins ($735, Barney’s) and these awesome vintage studs ($298, House of Lavande)

And, while doing housework or baking up a souffle, tie on this retro apron ($32, Anthropologie):

Protect your hands with these patterned rubber gloves ($7.50, Fabulicious):

Housekeeping sounds a lot more fun when you’re all decked out…

Crab Feasts and Clam Bakes

In Accessories, Beach Wear, Home Decor, Jewelry, Shoes, Sundresses on June 28, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Over the weekend, I enjoyed my first crab feast of the season — one of the true delights of a D.C. / Maryland / Northern Virginia summers.  We spread out newspaper, steamed two bushels of blue crabs we’d picked up from the Maine Street fish market, doused them in Old Bay, and dug in.  Nothing could be better.

Most of the girls at the event (myself included) wore breezy sundresses to compete with the stifling June weather we’ve been having (upper 90s and what feels like 100% humidity — it’s stagnant out there).  Something like the Trina Turk Lucia dress in eyelet would be right on the money ($268, Nordstrom), although a bit dangerous given how dirty you get when you’re picking through crabs.

(Nonetheless, several of the girls wore white.  It’s OK to be impractical every now and then.)  Perfect with orangey-red nails (the Essie color below is aptly titled “ClamBake” — $8, Essie Shop) and a pair of nautical-inspired orangey-red wedges ($79.95, Steve Madden):

Love the sort of rough-spun, faded look of the wedges above, though I bought a pair of more finished looking tangerine-red wedges from Sassanova yesterday that are a tad more polished and oh-so-versatile (work, play, whatever!)

Another option for your summer seafood soiree?  This crab red eyelet dress ($65, Modcloth):

How adorable with a classic canvas tote (Tommy Hilfiger, $65, Endless) and some white Jack Rogers?

Alternately, go the cheeky route and try on these fun little Moschino crab sandals ($245, Sassanova):

Given the heat, shorts would also be a stellar option.  I love the deep azur blue of these upscale linen Cavalli shorts ($231, TheOutnet):

Pair with a white eyelet Cynthia Steffe top (on sale for $109, Bluefly):

I like the idea of adding some coral accents — maybe this chunky beaded bracelet (Carolee, $150, Bloomingdale’s):

Or this amazing gold toggle version by KEPDesigns ($225, KEPDesigns):

Both would look incredible with some simple gold studs, like these adorable sand dollar studs ($200, also by KEPDesigns):

If you’re dining seaside, consider layering a nautical bikini like this frilly little set by Undrest ($100 for top, $105 for bottoms, Net-A-Porter):

Wear beneath a crisp white eyelet cover up ($118, Anthropologie):

Alternately, wear beneath a striped, boat-neck tee (Day by Malene Birger, $100, Net-A-Porter) and a pair of crisp, sailor-inspired shorts (on sale for $41.99, French Connection):

Perfect with either some classic Sperry boat shoes ($79, Bloomingdale’s) or the Kate Spade Ines knot sandal in gold ($225, TheShoeBox):

Top it off with some gold anchor earrings ($175, KEPDesigns):

You might also consider a little navy-trimmed eyelet top (love the boxy fit of this shirt in particular — very Kate Spade –$34.99, Modcloth) with this sailor-detailed short denim skirt (Armand Basi, on sale for $90, TheOutnet):

If you’re into the nautical look as much as I am, you might consider outfitting your home with a few seaside decorations.  I’ve collected some marine life-inspired pillows over the years from Pottery Barn, but I’m in love with the vintage styling on these Thomas Paul pillows ($80 for the boat sketch version, 2BModern; $70 for the anchor version, 2BModern):

This retro-style wall hanging is also ideal in a galley kitchen ($159, Ballard Designs):

And how adorable are these little silver-plated critters ($28-$68, Williams Sonoma Home):

Anchors aweigh!

Mod Squad

In Accessories, Cocktail Dresses, Home Decor, Jewelry, Shoes on June 2, 2010 at 2:33 pm

As I prepare to outfit the newlywed nest, I’ve been spending some QT with various home design and decor websites and blogs.  I continually find myself turning to Jonathan Adler for his slightly kitschy, mod aesthetic.  Incorporating a piece or two of his seems like just the way to balance out my otherwise formal, feminine inclinations.  When I laid eyes on his funky, op-art set of needlepoint pillows ($165, Jonathan Adler), I felt totally inspired:

Somewhat refreshing and dramatic given the predominance of grays, camels, and other muted tones we’ve been seeing on the runways.  I’m instantly reminded of Twiggy and Edie Sedgwick and all of those doe-eyed, skinny-legged icons of the mid ’60s.  Twiggy, for example — say what you will about what she did for the modeling industry (she was a willowy 90 lbs and instantly earned cover girl status, transforming the standards by which all future models were…well, weighed) — had a cool look that, when properly translated to contemporary times, could really elevate the ordinary to the extraordinary.  (Refer to Exhibit A: Sienna Miller, the neo-Twiggy.)

How to adapt the mod-tastic look?  Let’s begin with a retro-chic trapeze dress.  Harvey Faircloth’s crisp-yet-dramatic version would be right on the money.  They seem to have removed their eBoutique capabilities at the moment, but I’m guessing they are preparing to either release a new collection soonish or are simply performing routine maintenance:

Though the ladies of the 60s wore little Mary Janes with chunky short heels, I’d stick to pointy toed flats and some classic wayfarers to round out the look.  The London Sole flats I featured in yesterday’s post (pictured here as well) are perfecto:

For a splashier take on the mod squad look, consider this polka dot dream of a dress by Michael Kors (on sale for $553, The Outnet):

Love the modified halter neck.  It’d look killer at work with your pointy-toed Audrey Hepburn flats and this chicly textured Kate Spade bag ($355, Kate Spade):

Push the look further with some white frames (Ray Bans, $135, 80s Purple):

With polka dots on the brain, take your mod self out for a night on the town with this to-die-for Prabal Gurung gown ($1,430, Kirna Zabete):

Are you swooning yet?  UGH, love.  (Gurung hails from Bill Blass; his eponymous line is relatively new to the fashion world, first debuting in 2009.  Love his stuff.)  I’d strut around in it, accenting with this fun little pom-pommed clutch by Sondra Roberts ($148, Nordstrom):

Alternately, slip on this equally swoon-worthy Jay Ahr number (on sale for $804, The Outnet):

For a real Twig-tastic look, pair with this dangling disco ball earrings by NOIR Jewelry, a favorite costume jeweler of mine ($75, Kitson):

I’ll admit I’m a tad intimidated by them, and would probably go the cocktail ring route, but — daring fashionistas out there: go get ’em, tiger!  For those on my end of the spectrum: I’m a click away from purchasing this fun little bauble by Kate Spade ($65, Bloomingdale’s):

For daytime, I’d throw on this LBTD (littleblackTEEdress) by Alexander Wang ($85, Kirna Zabete):

And then add this funky little “Must Love Dots” Kate Spade bag ($175, Kate Spade) and a pair of oversized shades ($10, 80s Purple):

Then I’d throw on a couple of bold, graphic black-and-white bangles (the first — $10, ASOS; the second — $48, Nordstrom):

I’d probably stick to the pointy-toed black patent flats, but Walter Steiger’s collection of stubby-heeled boots and pumps would be right on trend:

Steiger is a Paris-only man: he owns two boutiques that carry his line of excellently-crafted shoes and handbags, one on Fouburg St. Honore and the other on Boulevard St. Germain.  Very exclusive, very chic.  (Code: very expensive.)  The t-dress above is extra versatile, so you might also consider dressing it up with some heels, an updo, and this retro-cool Kate Spade minaudiere ($225, Kate Spade):

Yellow was, after all, favored by Twiggy herself:

Add on a pair of faux eyelashes (Shu Uemera is supposedly the best of the best) and these House of Harlow sunburst studs to complete ($35, Singer22):

The earrings would look just as perfect when paired with this little 60s-throwback by Miss Me (aptly called “The Mod Dress,” $92, Miss Me):

Love the way it’s styled in the picture here — simple patent flats and oversized, jet-black bangles.  Ideal.  And, now, I know it’s far from winter (it’s been hothotHOT in D.C.), but how perfect is this little collarless wool wonder by Moschino ($962, The Outnet)?

Throw on over some black or (if you dare) colored tights and patent flats and you are set.  Mia Farrow would have easily worn something similar in her day.

When you’re done running your errands, head home to your swingin’ 60s pad, complete with this 1963 Eero Aarnio ball chair ($6,860, Hive Modern):

Curl up in it with your (super-retro) phone — $60 at Velocity:

It’s Austin Powers meets hipster meets Andy Warhol.  And I like it.

No Shrinking Violet

In Accessories, Cocktail Dresses, Home Decor, Jewelry, Shoes, Sundresses on May 25, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Is there any softer, more ladylike flower than the lilac?  If you’re lucky enough to live around lilac bushes, you’ll see them bloom in the next few weeks (they peak in late spring to early summer).

For those of us without daily exposure to the elements (or at least without exposure to areas of the world in which lilac bushes grow), the color has been in full blossom in the retail world for the past few months.  I don’t know about you, but I just can’t get enough of the dainty hue.  It instantly softens and yet enriches your look.  Consider, for example, this to-die-for 3.1 Philip Lim dress ($725, Blue and Cream):

I previously featured the same dress in an oatmeal linen color, but — don’t you die over this shade?  It’s unexpectedly feminine for the nearly utilitarian style of the dress.  J. Crew’s “Watercolor Garden Bridget Dress” ($285, J. Crew — the dress color is aptly titled “Lilac”) speaks much to the same point: an otherwise rather unfussy design is instantly softened and feminized with the violet palette:

You’d look delightfully ladylike in either of the above, especially if you opt to pair with some sparkling enorma-studs ($160, Ylang23):

For daywear, how about this lavender tiered chiffon tank by Kensie ($78, Piper Lime)?

It would look fresh with a pair of white cropped jeans and some unexpected flats (the ones below — on sale for $89, J. Crew):

While on the subject of fancy footwear: while it may seem dangerous or even reckless to invest in a pair of lavender shoes (how much use will you really get out of them?), I’d like to note that I snagged a pair of J. Crew Mollies in a lavender print and have worn them with innumerable outfits.  They look precious with a little lavender top but I’ve also used them to spruce up ivory/white/nudes.  Mr. Louboutin came out with a variety of styles in lovely lilac, but I’m loving these classic pumps by Elie Tahari:

I’d been eying them for awhile on Zappos but they appear to have sold out.  I believe you might have some luck shopping around in brick and mortar stores for them.  Alternately, take a look at J. Crew’s Pippa Peep Toe in “Dusty Lilac” — on sale for $149.  For the bolder out there, these Casadei double-platforms are ridiculous (on sale for 50% off or $322 at FarFetch):

You might pair with a sleek-and-demure cut sheath dress with oversized epaulettes for a Victoria Beckham streamlined look.  Something like this pale violet Valentino might work well ($576, TheOutnet):

For something a bit more toned down, how adorable is this little t-shirt dress by super-trendy brand MinkPink (Shopbop started to carry it, so you know it’s hot):

Snap it up for a recessionista-chic $62 at Pink Mascara.  Lovely.  It’d be perfect for work with some gray or violet pumps, but just as chic for gallery-going in some brown leather gladiators (for the boho look) or polished flats.  Erdem’s upscale variation on the blossoming lilac print would be just as charming (on sale for $396, The Outnet):

A just-as-pretty alternative to the real deal:

If you wanted to spruce up either, consider layering on this eye-catching Malene Birger bib ($260, Saks):

Though it’s bold by design, the white-on-blush palette leaves it remarkably feminine.  I adore it.  For just a little unexpected pop of color, I love the Longchamp in lilac ($125, Saks):

Don’t forget to stow a little lavender-shaded umbrella in case of spring rainfall ($28, Nordstrom):If you’re lucky enough to judge the showers, this happy little sundress by Calypso might be just the ticket for anything from an afternoon BBQ to a baby shower (also comes in a lovely soft daffodil color — $165, Calypso):

For great layering separates, check out J. Crew — they have all kinds of items in soothing lavender, from little brown-tipped cardigans and flats to this bright lilac tunic ($69.50, J. Crew):

Throw it over a white bikini and sport with a big straw hat at the beach or add to some white jeans and a big fabric beaded necklace.  If you’re into color-contrasting, you might even try the Stella & Dot “Uma” silk beaded necklace I raved about last week ($49, Stella and Dot):

Love.  It.  To conclude — because lavender has traditionally been used aromatherapeutically for its calming effects — let’s take the shade to the bedroom.  Accent with this soothingly-shaded lilac pillow by Thomas Paul (only $36 at Bluefly — and his pillows typically retail at $100 apiece!):

Decorate with this eye-catching print that Miss Big City (amazing, impeccable taste) pointed me toward ($29.50 unframed, closer to $100 with frame at Keep Calm Gallery):

The print pretty much speaks for the color itself: keep calm.

Addendum:  You may have noticed that my site got a little face-lift and now features my new logo (!) and a different color scheme.  Bear with me as I work out the kinks in the adjustments — it may take a few days to have everything as I need it.  Thanks for flying by!

Schoolgirl Charm

In Accessories, Home Decor, Jewelry, Monograms, Shoes, Work Wear on May 21, 2010 at 3:07 pm

With the resurgence of the navy boyfriend blazer (it was all. over. the. place. this season), it’s no surprise that the prep school aesthetic is back in a major way.  (Thanks, in part, to Blair Waldorf, Serena Van Der Woodsen, and the other cast of characters on the CW’s Gossip Girl.)

Just take a gander at Anna Sui’s Spring/Summer 2010 runway collection:

I spy with my little eye band uniforms, East Coast preppy madras, and cricket sweaters.  Are we headed back to school before summer’s even out?  Apparently, if designers like Proenza Schouler, Luella, and Rag&Bone have anything to say about it.  They received high marks for their 2010 spring/summer collections, which featured heavy-handed plaids, navy blazers, and other woolen school-child goodies.  Because I attended private Catholic school from 1st grade through high school, I’ll always feel a little sheepish riffing on what was once a daily uniform that I despised.  But based on the offerings I’ve spotted this season?  I might just have to forgo my concerns and enroll.

It all begins with a classic, gold-buttoned blue blazer like the Theory Blinn above ($415, Barneys).  J. Crew’s Wool McCoy ($298, J. Crew) and Ralph Lauren’s Thelred Crested Blazer ($290, Ralph Lauren) receive A’s as well:

If you’re petite, test out one of the Brooks Brothers Boys’ navy blazers — they’re the real deal ($228, Brooks Brothers).  For a slightly less expensive version of the shrunken, little-brother fit, I’m loving Madewell’s version ($168, Shopbop):

This summer, I’m pairing mine with nautical striped tees and crisp little white pencil skirts for work, but I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect short circle skirt to carry out a little fashion fantasy of mine.  Think, for example, how fresh you’d look sporting your blazer with the J. Crew Cavalry skirt in white or khaki (on sale for $49.50, J. Crew):

Reese Witherspoon went for the same look — and looked positively varsity in it.

For a day at the gallery or an afternoon lunch, I love the idea of pairing the look with some gold BCBGirls gladiators for a trendy take on the traditional style ($78, Zappos):

For something a bit dressier, slip into some patent navy peep toes ($249, PeepToeShoes) or maybe swap out the girlish Cavalry skirt for a rugby-striped, high-waisted Alice & Olivia circle skirt ($165, Net-A-Porter):

Need more full circle skirt ideas?  Check out this Erotokritos pleated version ($181, Farfetch) or the black “Barren” skirt by Diane Von Furstenberg below ($245, Saks):

And — if you’re a bit on the bolder side — check out this precious printed high-waist skirt from Mod Clothing ($69).  I’d pair with some heavy gold chains — maybe this Nicol knotted necklace ($220, Shopbop), this Giles and Brother ($295, Shopbop), or this Fiona Paxton version ($296, The Hip Chick):

Alternately, pair a Marc by Marc Jacobs primary-school styled blouse — Peter Pan collar and all! ($178, Shopbop) — with a tidy little skirt-and-jacket uniform combo (both by Diane Von Furstenberg, $325 for jacket and $185 for skirt, available at Diani Boutique):

Adorable with some heavy gold jewelry.  I’m thinking solid gold studs ($150, Shopbop), a “class ring”-inspired bauble ($295, J. Crew), and a chunky “I graduated!” gold watch ($250, Michael Kors):

I’d add on a slouchy brown Tory Burch modified messenger bag ($395, Saks) or structured Mulberry brief-case-esque Bayswater (the Lucien is equally as lovely — both are around $1k, Mulberry):

I’m so in love with the lines of a circle skirt, a fitted blouse, and some super-high heels, I think you could even get away with a full-on plaid skirt like this little Joie “Willa” (on super sale for $54 at PiperLime) with a prim little short-sleeved blouse (Y, $440, Forward):

But beware: you’ll receive fashion demerits if you’re in a straight-up kilt, as you’ll wind up looking too much like a college freshman on Halloween.  The proportions are crucial: you’ve got to have the hem hit just above the knee and the waist appear high and nipped-in.  Take your cues from buttoned-up-chic Blair Waldorf of Gossip Girl:

(If you’re loving the bow-collar white shirt look as an accompaniment, you can find a killer version by Max Mara at FarFetch for $151.)

If you’d prefer to avoid a literal take on the schoolgirl getup, there are some awesome variations on the navy blazer that will get you just where you want to be.  Consider, for example, this navy Ida double breasted car coat by king-of-cashmere brand Goat ($429, My Wardrobe):

I’d pair it with this cashmere, crested Burberry scarf ($295, Burberry):

But before I launch myself into the fall season (which can quickly happen when we’re thinking schoolyard fashion), let’s check out some other summer alternatives to the navy blazer.  Maybe this unstructured “sweater” version of the classic blazer by Splendid ($107, Bloomingdale’s) or a piped boyfriend sweater in timeless navy ($88, J. Crew or $79.50, Rugby) will suit your needs?

All would look extra-crisp and of-the-moment with skinny white jeans and some strappy brown leather sandals or — if you’re into the preppy style — some classic Sperry topsiders ($74.95, Endless):

If you’d prefer a slightly more feminine version of the topsider classic, I’m kind of in love with these Joan & Davids (I know, uncool label, but…so precious — $130, PiperLime):

Other add-ons?  A cheeky Anya Hindmarch canvas tote that reads “Homework” in schoolchild script ($120, Bloomingdale’s):

And then you’ll need a classic charm bracelet.  This vintage Chanel caught my eye ($1,550, Shopbop):

However, Marc by Marc Jacobs ($88, Zappos) and Ben Amun ($95, Max and Chloe) have much more affordable — and just as charming — versions:

And while on the subject of fanciful jewelry, I just adore this little La Mer ring watch ($58, La Mer Collections).  I’d probably wear it on a chain around my neck, but — how darling?!

Or maybe this crest-bearing “cigar” ring?  The coat of arms imprint is ideally suited to the boarding school prep look ($70, Couture Candy):

For after-school extra-curriculars?  I love the idea of trim little shorts, like these rosemary jacquard shorts (also come in canary yellow!) by Marc Jacobs ($124, Shopbop):

How cute would it look with a little roll-neck rugby sweater (this one is from the Crew Cuts sweater at J. Crew, $39.50):

You could also pair it with any of the many lovely bateau-neck tops that are out this season (check APC and J. Crew for options).  Alternately, imagine how precious this little madras top ($90, La Garconne) with some crisp white nautical shorts would look:

Both school’s-out outfits would look darling with some boat shoes or some gold or white Jack Rogers and a classic canvas bag ($17.95-$30.95, L.L. Bean):

Ideas for outfitting your home in updated prep school style?  Start with a tartan throw ($49 down from $150, Eddie Bauer) and accent with a super-cool “book box” ($49, Wisteria) and a vintage-style globe ($29.99, World Market):

Spruce up your couch with these awesome needlepoint pillows featuring prepster repp ties and belts by Jonathan Adler ($195 apiece, Jonathan Adler):

The pillows above remind me of the classic needlepoint belts by Smathers & Branson (one of the founders is the son of my high school English teacher — it all comes back to education):

I snagged the crab version above for my fiance last summer from Cape Cod-ready clothing outpost Sherman Pickey in Georgetown.  You can buy yours (for your hubby or yourself!) at the Smathers & Branson online boutique for $165 apiece.

And — just to round out your wardrobe — make sure you invest in some quality loafers.  I’m mad about these Tod’s mocs ($385, My Theresa):

And why not invest in a lady-like plaid handbag, like this darling Brooks Brothers frame bag ($74, Brooks Brothers)?

I feel as though Blair Waldorf would pair it with this Peter Pan collar sheath dress by L’Wren Scott ($2,206, My Theresa):

If the style is too dainty for you, Brooks Brothers also sells a larger structured tote version for $150.  Plenty big enough for your books, your pens and highlighters (to be stored in your Rag & Bone tartan pouch — $100, Saks), and your cheekily-titled notebook (the cover reads “Academics I Met and Liked — $10, Velocity Art and Design).

Let’s not forget your guide to etiquette and style: “The Preppy Handbook,” a tongue-in-cheek look at Waspy life originally published in 1980 ($23.95 and up for a used copy, Amazon):

(It’s hilarious.)  So study up!

After-School (or Anytime) Magpie Snacks

Because studying and shopping for just the right look can be draining, refuel with some of my go-to “after school” snacks.  First — my fiance’s absolute favorite treat: LU’s Petit Ecoliers (slabs of chocolate on top of buttery, crumbly cookies).  You can find them in most stores for around $4 a pack.

Second, we have my Magpie Munch — a slight variation on the traditional chex mix that I make regularly.  You’d be astounded at how quickly this stuff goes, especially when placed out during cocktail hour.

Magpie Munch

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix 3 cups corn chex, 3 cups wheat chex, and 3 cups rice chex.  Add some mini pretzels and garlic-flavored bagel chips (if you can find the mini ones, great!  If not, just break the larger ones into bite-sized pieces).  I usually add some other little munchy item — peanuts, rye bagel chips, goldfish, etc.  Meanwhile, melt 6 tablespoons butter in microwave.  Whisk in 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce, about 1.5-2 teaspoons Lawry’s seasoned salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder,  3/4 teaspoon onion powder, an 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay.  Because my fiance likes a little heat, I’ll occasionally whisk in some hot sauce.  Pour over the chex, toss to coat, and then spread out on foil-lined baking sheet.  Place in oven, stirring mix every ten minutes or so, until cereal is toasted (usually around 20 minutes, but sometimes takes longer).  Test taste a cereal square for seasoning.  I frequently add quite a bit more garlic powder and seasoned salt by sprinkling it on top and mixing, but always test first.  Yum!

A Room of One’s Own

In Accessories, Home Decor on May 20, 2010 at 3:09 pm

I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve always day-dreamed about a “morning room” — a place where I can read, write, and (though I don’t know how…yet) arrange flowers.  I believe I plucked this fantasy right out of the pages of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, but, come to think of it — it must have also been informed by Virginia Woolf’s extended essay, “A Room of One’s Own.”

(You can read the text in full at UVA’s eText Center.  It is a wonderfully articulate argument for a woman’s right to have the physical and creative space to do her own work, find her own voice, and exist on her own terms — in a time when such latitude simply did not exist for women.)  Perhaps the essay resonates particularly deeply with me, as I am one of five children and I grew up in a house where privacy was at a premium and finding ways to make my voice carry — to make myself heard — was a routine challenge.  When my elder brother visited a few weeks ago, he admitted to having claimed a small room in his house just for himself — a place he could retire to in quiet and solitude, whether to work or idle.  I’m on the same page.

Setting aside the emotional and intellectual benefits that such a space would afford, you know at bottom I’m interested in the visual appeal.  What would a Magpie Morning Room look like?  It would begin with a soft pink palette inspired by my favorite flower: the peony.

I’d invest in some lovely Cath Kidston printed wallpaper — I love the rose print in either the stone or pink ($30/meter, Cath Kidston):

Just look at what you can do if you coordinate the wall-color to her complementary line of fabrics:

I might, for example, upholster a traditional Pearson chair ($199, BallardDesigns) in either a matching or complementary fabric version of the wallpaper above.

Sidenote: I bought one of the Ballard Designs Pearson chairs — mine was a slightly different model with a curved top/back — and had it upholstered in a prim ivory and neutral fleur de lys-style print.  It is the perfect accompaniment to my room — it makes a statement but the palette is neutral so it doesn’t dominate.  Love.  And highly recommend.  An easy way to give a room some feminine personality.

I’d add in a pristine white wood desk (“The Meredith,” $499, Pottery Barn):

I’d then accent with shades of pink — maybe this amazing Noury Meadow Rug in the pink ($299-$2,039, Horchow):

And, for a pair of lovely guest chairs (I’m obsessed with these Gentry Chairs by Hickory Chair — the lines, the shape are just perfect), some bright throw pillows (the peony print — $36 apiece, Nest Living; the geometric print — $118 apiece, Trina Turk; the poppy print — $185 for two, Etsy’s PlumCushion Shop):

I’d seat the chairs around this awesome apothecary-style mirrored coffee table by Jean-Richard (“The Galla,” $1,829, Horchow):

There would, of course, be a stack of requisite glossy coffee-table books — I’d want Jeanette Montgomery Barron’s My Mother’s Clothes ($25, Kate Spade); my copy of Impressionists in Winter: Effets de Neige, which contains perhaps my favorite painting ever — an Alfred Sisley portrait of a quiet snow-covered country-scape ($32, Amazon); and Jose Andres’ Made In Spain because — well, he’s from D.C. and I love his food ($23, Amazon).  Eating at Minibar = apex of culinary life to date.

Alongside the stack of books, there’d be a constantly-replenished arrangement of fresh-cut peonies:

I’m crazy about the silver trumpet vase featured in the image above, though I’d likely use some of my monogrammed Pottery Barn julep cups for the same purpose — ($24 for plain; $30.50 for monogrammed at Pottery Barn):

For my desktop, I’m loving this stark white alabaster Ethan Allen lamp ($369, Ethan Allen):

I’d add in some beaded silver-plate frames  to tie in with the julep cups (also monogrammable — $29-$54 at Pottery Barn), this lovely Tiffany Atlas clock ($625, Tiffany), and then a stack of Kate Spade’s note-ready pads in peppy colors (I own these, and no one takes me seriously when I use them, but  I just love ’em — $12 for 3 at Barnes and Noble):

Oh — and, of course, I’d need a favorite candle to scent the room.  I alternate between Tocca’s “Florence” scent and Seda’s “Japanese Quince”:

On my bookshelves?  The hundreds and hundreds of books I’ve accrued over the course of my 25 years.  They’re currently scattered all over — some here in my cramped Georgetown apartment; others in the basement of my parents’ house; others in their garage; still others in a storage unit.  I want to herd them all and arrange them, intermixed with my keepsakes — a sterling silver piggy bank I received at birth; various Sevres porcelain trinkets I inherited from my grandmother; little Dutch girl dolls my father brought me back from Holland.

And even though I likely own a number of the titles, I would love to buy the Harvard Classics collection — a 51-volume anthology of the canonical works of literature in English originally published in 1909 (by Harvard president Charles Eliot).  They would just be an awesome heirloom-type collection to own.

On my beautifully wall-papered walls?  I’d mat and frame a couple of Genevieve Woodford’s acrylic cameo prints ($25/apiece, Etsy):

She does them in all sorts of colors (I’m partial to the mid-blue color, but pink would be perfect for my room — lovely!) and I’m obsessed with the old school scrolled borders.  I’m also sort of loving the idea of contrasting the rococo sensibility of the prints with some graphic pop art — not too much.  Just a little shock of modernity framed on a bookshelf or hung (somewhat irreverently?) around the room.  And because my fiance is pretty much hell-bent on having us buy a French bulldog once we tie the knot — this might have to be the one ($8 for an 8×10 print, Etsy’s ArtBarker Shop):

And then, of course, I’d need my reading nook — a cozy settee (this one is from Hickory Chair), likely reupholstered in a pink and white stripe, and a cashmere throw (on sale for $199, The Pashmina Store):

Perfect for snuggling up with a good book!


My online Stella & Dot trunk show is still up — but today’s your last day!

For access, go to:

At the top right of the page, click on “Can’t Make It to the Show? Find Your Hostess” and type in first name: “Fashion” and last name: “Magpie.”  Shop away!

Read my “It’s a Magpie Mini Market” post for styling ideas.