Saturday, July 31, 2010
As I wrote in Part I, if you have ever been frustrated by the limited availability of patterns and fabrics of ballet flats, here is a perfect opportunity - custom made Allez! Ballet Flats from Eliza B..
Here is variation two of four. This combination, Natural Rafia, Pale Pink Ribbon Trim, matching monogram and a rubber wedge sole, is the most "summery" of the four.
They go well with some of my older Lilly(s). I can pair them with a cotton cardigan for casual wear in town, or a shift for parties. And the rubber sole allows for more flexibility.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
If you have ever been frustrated by the limited availability of patterns and fabrics of ballet flats, here is a perfect opportunity - custom made Allez! Ballet Flats from Eliza B..
Choose your own fabric, trim and sole. There is a seemingly endless array of combinations. I have tried four variations. Here is variation one.
This combination, Natural Canvas, Black Patent Leather Trim with a (Black) Leather Sole, works particularly well for both business as well as evening. These shoes are flattering, run true to size, and best of all, are made at the Leatherman Ltd./Eliza B. company headquarters in Essex, Connecticut (from whom I have been buying for decades).
Sunday, July 25, 2010
My third pair of Eliza B. ballet flats (see pair one and pair two) are a "Nantucket Red" with a great Navy ribbon trim and leather soles. These were also personally embroidered for me (see bottom picture for the message). I like these for late summer and fall in New England.
I took them to see some British cars. Here is how they looked.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
When choosing between items, I might ask, "Would it work on the Maine Coast?" For example, this tends to lead away from:
- Intense shades of pink and green;
- Florals, or bold patterns in general;
- High maintenance materials.
- Subdued colors such as navy, khaki, hunter green and white;
- Solids, stripes, tattersalls or tartans;
- Heartier items.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
|Even on the bowsprit, he was never without his camera.|
He always seemed to get a parking spot on York Street right in front of the store. Each visit, my father would wait for Gabe, the legendary (some would say infamous) J. Press salesman. I always remembered Gabe's desert boots. My father and Gabe would begin by verbally sparring with great enthusiasm. He liked looking around, but my father always ended up buying the same items: three-button suits; navy blazers; button-down shirts; seersucker, tweed, and pincord jackets; bow-ties; madras shirts; and whipcord pants.
I never knew if Gabe remembered my father’s size, or figured it on the spot, but always handed him the right suit. Ralph the tailor would take the measurements, though they seldom changed. I never saw any money exchange hands; J. Press had a house charge.
My father would then walk through the narrow connecting doorway to Barrie’s, the shoe store next door, again look around, and then buy the same shoes (cordovan Chukka Boot Shells) he always bought. Finally, he would take me for a hamburger on white toast at Louis Lunch.
Receiving an award at the home of Rhode Island Senator Claibrone Pell (I have always loved the madras/tweed combination).
The sad news of Gabe’s passing was delivered when my husband and I went to get a new suit a handful of years back. But J. Press has stayed the same. The same chairs are there. The same pictures are tucked away in the corners.
And the same uniquely fabulous suits are there. Now we go for the third generation. I cannot imagine buying a suit anywhere else.
Monday, July 5, 2010
Simply put, the ambitions of a marketing department do not a preppy store make.
The DNA of preppiness is forged through the crucible of authenticity. Specifically, companies go through rapid feedback cycles around successes or failures in authentic environments. For example:
- L.L. Bean’s focus used to be on outfitting outdoorsmen (sports). When customers came out of the woods and back to Leon Leonwood Bean with common complaints about their gear, improvements were made quickly based on function.
- Lillys, back in the day, were designed by a young Palm Beach matron for young Palm Beach matrons.
- J.Press’ survival depended on their Ivy League clientele (thus their flagship store was, and still is, in New Haven).
- Leather Man Ltd.’s headquarters remains in Essex, Connecticut, one the sailing capitols of the world.
- Patagonia is staffed by outdoor enthusiasts who test their own products (the company famously lets these employees off when the surf is up, and is fiercely committed to the environment).
- There is Barbour (see entry).
- Paul Sperry needed to not slip on the deck of his boat.
- Even Lands’ End was born out of the need to outfit sailors.
- Meanwhile Ralph Lauren, perhaps the exception here, is simply more competent, consistent and visionary than his competitors. This is especially appreciated given how few decent offerings there are for women.
In fact, whenever a company lets a marketing department call the shots based on demographic research and short-term whims of the fashion industry, you end up with “collections” like LL Bean Signature.
At best, J. Crew is "Preppy lite". At worst, it is to preppy what Pepperidge Farm is to a real farm. J. Crew is far more committed to trendiness than preppiness. Anyone can make a pair of khakis or a white polo shirt for a season or two. But those items are more often filler than loved.
See also Preppy Clothes: Loved New and Old