Brighton Beach Memoirs

I want to feel the sand beneath my feet

June is always a fickle month. It’s not quite summer, but I’m already itching to go to the beach, to feel the sand between my toes, the sun on my back, and to spend long lazy days by the ocean or on the board walk, letting my cares drift away.

Down on the boardwalk

For a June birthday celebration we wove a nautical theme into a Saturday afternoon with clams at Randazzo’s Clam Bar in Sheepshead Bay (offering fried seafood that is, reportedly “the pride of Sheepshead Bay”), a walk along the board walk at Brighton Beach and a stop at Ruby’s Bar in Coney Island. In honor of all things sea worthy I pulled out my old favorite LL Bean tote bag and paired it with a very matching Built by Wendy dress.

This was the perfect outfit to show off my new Ellips shoes from designer Priscille Demanche’s Spring/Summer 2012 collection. She had a 4 day sale on my birthday and when I emailed her and said that I was offering myself a pair of her sandals as a gift she gave me free shipping all the way from France! What a darling! And hurry, she has organized a sale to benefit a charity of your choice on her past season collections just until Friday the 15th. Up to 60% off and a donation to a good cause! Shop your shoes at the Ellips site here (don’t hesitate to email Priscille if you are ordering from outside of France) and vote on which association should benefit here.

See you on the beach and the boardwalk this summer!

Thanks to my friend Heather Donahue for the lovely photographs!

High top sneakers, Killerfemme style

American Apparel t-shirt, Mavi jeans, Ubu ring, Asos “DENY” wedge sneakers. Photo by Danielle.

My latest favorite pair of shoes illustrate that I can never predict how my fashion tastes will develop. In the late 80s and early 90s all the cool kids had Air Jordan sneakers and they regularly shelled out large sums of their parents’ money each season to purchase the latest model. I was immune to this trend. Shod in moccasins, boat shoes or penny loafers from the Dexter Outlet I thought those high tops, with all their extra ankle padding, big tongues and laces were ridiculous.

Hello, beauties.

I have held on to this belief throughout the last twenty years and was never tempted to rethink it until I started seeing baskets compensées on French fashion blogs last fall. These shoes were  inspired by Isabelle Marant who put out some wedge heeled high top sneakers which sent the fashion world into a twitter. Naturally, this trend has quickly trickled down into fashionable retailers with more accessible prices. “Cool,” I thought, admiring les filles prancing around Paris in high comfort and style, “but really, not for me.”

Tough and stylish for the courts of Brooklyn

My resistance crumbled when Stephanie, always a source of fashion inspiration, posted about a “Marant-like” version of these shoes by Asos, and then later showed off several versions of them. Stephanie makes everything look good and wearable even to the less fashion forward of us. I finally cracked, especially because Asos was offering 10% off.

I’m trying my best to imitate an 80s advertisement

These shoes are a complete departure for me because I’ve always been a Converse or Vans sneaker girl. However, my first time wearing them out they drew complements from all over Brooklyn, from hipsters, metal dudes and fashion bloggers alike.

Let’s play defense!

Sometimes when we decide to try a new look we have to risk looking and feeling a little ridiculous.

I’m grateful to my fellow blogger and neighbor Danielle for helping me document these beauties on the courts of Sunset Park. You can check out her own photos on her Tumblr. I was tempted to call this post, “Jouez-vous au basket? Non, pas de tout,” but felt that was just a little too self-referential. What fashion risks have you taken lately? Do you think you’ll fall for the wedge sneaker craze?

I’m sitting this one out with my Kate Spade sunglasses

En Fleur!

Cardigan: Brooklyn Industries, Blouse: Jennifer Glasgow, Belt: H&M, Pants: Zara, Shoes: Soda (from Modcloth). Photo by Christian

There’s a few weeks in April and May that are fleetingly perfect. The sun is out, the breeze blows, you can wear stylish layers, but not overheat, and still not freeze if you happen to forget your jacket. Flowers pop and everywhere you look there is renewed energy, color and vigor. This past weekend was an oportune time to pay a spring visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens where, thanks to a strangely warm spring, the cherry trees and lilacs are in full bloom several weeks early.

Azaleas at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

In planning my outfit I wanted to dress to match the colors I knew would be in full effect and also dress to around comfortably. Azaleas, lilacs, cherry trees, tulips, and peonies are all in bloom right now…  I knew the color palate would be pink, fuchsia, lavender, magenta and rose, so I put together the hot colors of the season: tangerine and bright pink, with the print of the season: floral. It was the perfect time to introduce my new shirt by Canadian designer Jennifer Glasgow that I bought in Montreal. With transparent tangerine and floral prints its on trend and timeless. Also, do you like how my pants disappear into the azalea bushes? Finally, did you know you can check out the status of the cherry blossoms at BBG on their bloom map?

Photo by Christian

I love the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in any season, but in early spring it is over the top with color and flowers. It’s wonderful for a weekend morning wander with friends and as a word to the wise, if you get there between 10 am and noon on Saturday entry is free! What is your favorite thing to do in spring?

Walking among the cherry blossoms

Lilacs are on of my favorite flowers. Couldn't you just smell them all day?

Cherry blossoms and blue sky. I tend to take the same photos every year at the Botanic Gardens.

Celebrating under the cherry trees. Photo by Christian

Tulips at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Pants, Pants, Pants, Pants, Everybody!

Spring greens and leopard accents!

Blouse from H&M (forever ago), Old Navy "Rockstar" jeans, Matt Bernson heels, Squasht headband

Apparently fashion’s new bright, spring colors are helping revive the US economy and sales in retail are up. Though I am on a self-imposed shopping diet (it’s not going very well, does anyone know of a Weight Watcher’s like program to curb conspicuous consumption?) I could not help but succumb to the continued rage for color blocking, helped in part by some bright numbers from Old Navy (of all places!).

A little Frenchie, a little Rock

Zara jacket, Ann Taylor shirt (from Beacon's Closet), Brooklyn Industries Pans, Ana Alamedia heels, Leila Rowe necklace

Perhaps it is the transition between seasons, but I’ve also been enjoying new versions of my classic favorites – slim black pants and jeans – and have gotten my new favorite slims from Mavi, a classic pair of straight legs from Built by Wendy and slim black pants (with zippers on the ankles) from Brooklyn Industries. I’ve even wearing pants of all colors to work (gasp, Killerfemme, really?).

Have you succumbed to the bright spring colors? How do your outfits transition from weekdays to weekends?

Bright and bold

J Crew shirt, Old Navy "Rockstar" jeans, Miista boots

Bold for spring! Yellow pants and stripes!

Outfit details

Spring Accents Part II

Zara jacket, Vanilla and Lace shirt, Old Navy "Rockstar" jeans, Jeffrey Campbell shoes, Squasht headband, necklace bought at Cog and Pearl

Spring accents and lunch time record shopping

Details, with vintage LL Bean tote and newly purchased Grimes record

So yesterday after work I did some shopping. Bye bye clothing diet.

Chicago wrecked my shopping diet

Fluo accents + leopard shoes, ça va?

Mirror in Chicago hostel: Built by Wendy jeans, American Apparel shirt, Old Navy cardigan (with matching fluo chair behind me!), Matt Bernson slippers

Today I am in love with my new Built by Wendy jeans

Details of my Built by Wendy jeans

High-Style Hand Knit Woolens

Gaptastic infinity scarf hand knit by me!

I know, I know I wait until winter is on its last legs to share some wooly goodness with you. But rest assured, if you leave anywhere vaguely North the March winds are just as chilling as any other winter weather, so you still have a good few weeks to swaddle yourself in wool to keep warm. This year marks my return to knitting after a five year break. While my mother is a knitting expert, and I have an archive of one-of-a-kind sweaters she has made me since I was a little girl, I am a slow and imprecise knitter. I love making things, but I’ve never been able to retain knowledge about how to knit from one project to another.

However, for the second winter in a row I was seeing huge, soft, infinity scarves that engulfed their wearers in warmth and style and I wanted one. In December saw a grey, silky wool cowl at one of my favorite boutiques NOS in DUMBO, but when I inched in to look at the price I balked and declared, “I could make that!”

Another piece of wool I’ve been wanting to add to my collection is the perfect cable knit sweater. I reached out to my mother and asked if I might be able to commission such a sweater from her. In a beautiful marriage of technology and craft I put together a Pinterest board to share my cable knit ideas with her and she found a variety of patterns on Ravelry, a pattern sharing and social networking site for yarn crafters, for me to look at. Together we found the perfect pattern, which was in a book she ordered from Amazon! Ahh, the modern world.

Skeins of Bel Aire yarn for the scarf

While I was home for the holidays my Mom and I went yarn shopping and after considering various organic yarns for my sweater I wandered around the yarn shop, Grace Robinson in Freeport, Maine, and found the perfect yarn for the cowl of my dreams. It was thick and soft, like petting a cat or grabbing a handful of clouds, if clouds were warm. It was 100 percent Merino wool by Bel Aire and the color was poetically named “Philly Fog.” I bought 3 skeins. I admit I had the yarn before the pattern, but my mom found me the perfect pattern on Ravelry, the Gaptastic Cowl. As a note, the yarn I used was a big bigger than the yard suggested for the pattern, so my scarf is even chunkier than the one in this pattern.

Crackers the cat helped me wind the skeins into balls of yarn

I had to get a little help from LJ to remember how to cast on and encouragement from Sabine, but I actually remembered how to knit pretty easily and didn’t even need a lesson to remember how to pearl!

Knitting lesson from LJ at Cake Shop, New Years Day

Of course my mother, champion knitter that she is, finished an entire sweater before I finished my scarf, but by mid-February I have been able to wear my two new high-fashion, handmade woolens – my lovely cable knit, organic, Oatmeal colored sweater made by my mother, and my voluminous grey cowl, made by me!

My beautiful mom-made cable knit sweater with a thrifted, handmade shirt, Mavi jeans and Swedish Hasbeens boots

My Charming Darling Winter Ellips

Ellips day

I can be a rather impulsive fashion buyer. Actually, instead of impulsive, let’s say efficient. When I see something that speaks to me that I know I can integrate into my wardrobe and if the price is okay (even if it’s a little too high, but the object is worth it) I try it on and if it works, boom! Mine!

Cables!

My new Ellips boots with a thrifted skirt, American Apparel tights (layered over black Calvin Klein tights), a blouse from Uniqlo with a new cable knit sweater made by my Mom!

However, their are some wardrobe additions that I stalk for months, waiting patiently until end of season sales so that they are within my price range. This was the case with the boots in this year’s fall/winter collection from the fabulous, French shoe designer Priscille Demanche and her label Ellips. The first morning of her winter sale I pounced on the pair I had been eying all fall. Low and behold, they were already sold out in my size! Someone had bought the last pair of my first choice at 12:01 am the day of the sale. Well. That kind of persistence deserves the shoes.

Fortunately, I had a second choice, which was really more like a tie, all picked out. Voila, here they are, my darling bottines bleuette. Like my other two pairs of Ellips shoes (lovely red and grey low heels and some strappy, color blocked sandals) they are incredibly comfortable and I can wear them all day, trotting all around the city with a flash of unique color and style. What I love about these lace up ankle boots is they go with practically everything – slim jeans, skirts, dresses, you name it.

Debut de bottines Ellips! Cc @mhcestmoi

What I love about Ellips is that they are beautifully handmade in Spain from all natural leather and are clever takes on classics. As such they will always look fashion forward and will never go out of style. Definitely a piece that is worth the wait. And investment.

Hi hi bottines Ellips! Today is a great day!

As a note for US readers: If you are unable to order from the Ellips site using the shopping cart function (it may be set up only to ship to France) just email Priscille – she will arrange for payment via PayPal and get your order to you right away!

Black Cat Attack

Photo by Dandy Prof. Charlotte Ronson blouse (I know, again), Urban Outfitters jeans, Jeffre Campbell Lita's, Melville House tote

I admit that when I brought my Jeffrey Campbell Lita’s I had no illusions that they would be the most practical shoes in the world. I secretly asked myself, “How much are you really going to wear these?” And, yet. I find myself wearing them often! Even to work! My co-workers have asked me, “Are you going to wear your cat shoes tomorrow?” And why not? In my opinion, the idea of fun fashion is to bring levity to the everyday. I have found, however, that the cat Lita’s cannot be worn with any other pattern. The supporting outfit has to be super basic, all black, or all neutral. Voila, here are just a few of the ways I’ve worn them.

Black cat attack

American Apparel dress, Hue tights, Jeffrey Campbell Lita's

A little bit of glam makes the world go round