Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mama's Got a Brand New (Almost) Bag: Modalu Pippa Grab

Whee! Last Thursday I purchased a Modalu Pippa Medium Grab Handbag in Chili red off of eBay, and it arrived this afternoon! I LUUURRRRVVVEE IT. It's only been used a few times by the previous owner and is in practically perfect condition - just a scratch or two on the name plate and a small scuff on the leather in front. I got a great deal on the bag, much less than if I had purchased it online from the UK with the exchange rate, shipping, etc. The lady I bought it from also re-packaged it super carefully and included all of the original tags, dust bag, etc. Truly great purchasing experience.

Soft, supple leather...it smells so great!

I don't own a lot of handbags. I have a black Coach tote, a Louis Vuitton monogram tote, an olive green J.Crew quilted satchel, and a brown leather and canvas Men's J.Crew cross-body messenger bag that doubles as a laptop case. I also have a black evening clutch, a gold metallic evening clutch, and a small raffia handbag for summer events. This is normal for me with a lot of things - I buy one item of the best quality that I can afford and use it until it falls apart - and I'm VERY picky about the bags that I carry. Size, shape, hardware, etc.

Front zip pockets, great for keys and i.d. or transit cards.

I first read about the Pippa bag (yes, named for a certain princess's pretty sister after she was seen carrying it post-Royal Wedding) in a review on Capitol Hill Style. Belle raved about it's quality and utility, as did all of the commenters, so I have had Modalu's website bookmarked for months while I thought about what color I might want to buy. I knew I would want either gray or a great color since I have my other handbag basics covered.

Three zipped compartments, two large on the outside and a smaller one in the middle.

I liked the Shark and the Oyster colors (which sold out super quickly), and also the Sunrise Orange...but I'm always drawn to red in the end. Imagine how excited I was to see the Pippa bag in Chili on eBay, lightly used and up for bid. I'm an eBay newbie, so the BF helped me with the bidding basics and...I won!

Little gold feet on the bottom. This bag should wear really well.

It's been reviewed a bunch online (here and by Gigi here), so I won't go into a ton of detail other than to say that the bag is well-made, well-designed, and the perfect size for me. I usually don't buy a handbag unless it can fit a magazine or manilla folder so that I can use it for business trips and appointments.

Little seashells on the zipper pulls! I prefer gold or brass hardware since I mostly wear gold jewelry.

I cannot wait to find a home for all of my daily essentials in this gorgeous bag, and I know I'll love it for years to come!

What's your most favorite handbag? Do you like/own the Pippa bag?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Blogs That I Like: Celebrity Gossip, Academic Style

The Academy Awards are tonight! Hollywood Awards Season has always been my Superbowl (being forced to watch sports is my idea of cruel and unusual punishment), so I always get excited for this time of year and all of the great movies that are on tv. The stories, the costumes (oh, the costumes), the drama...both in front of and behind the scenes.

My love for movies and celebrity gossip began with my paternal grandmother when I was a little girl. I'd spend the night at her house and we would bake sugar cookies and read through her old Golden Age of Hollywood books like "LIFE Goes to the Movies". I loved looking at the pictures of the Classic Hollywood stars, but the stories that she could tell me about them rivaled the images on the page and on the screen. That's why I was so delighted a few years ago when a friend told me that I needed to read this blog.

Celebrity Gossip, Academic Style is written by a woman named Anne Helen Petersen. Anne has a Ph.D. in The History of Celebrity Gossip from the University of Texas-Austin. This alone pretty much makes her my idol, but she is also terribly insightful and funny, and incredibly knowledgeable about the topics upon which she writes. She also contributes articles on Scandals of Classic Hollywood to the terrific and terrific-ly funny ladyblog, The Hairpin, and I have lost myself for hours reading those stories. You learn so many fascinating things about the private lives of these stars, many of which were covered up or totally fabricated by the big studio publicity machines.

Here are two of her articles that I loved:

Ava Gardner: The Second-Look Girl

Cary Grant's Intimate Bromance

If you love movies, Old Hollywood, celebrity gossip, or PR spin, you will love reading Anne Helen Petersen's work. It's the perfect thing to get you in the mood for Oscar Night!

Images courtesy of The Hairpin and Celebrity Gossip, Academic Style.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Reviews: J.Crew Spring Rollout Purchases

I have managed to restrain myself from purchasing anything from J.Crew at full price so far this year, waiting instead to use my Spring Rewards card and the recent 20%-30% off promos to pick up a few items that have been sitting in my online shopping cart.

Pencil Skirt in Super 120's, Royal Violet

Schoolboy Blazer in Chambray

(OT: Do those shoes scream "boring, work-appropriate Navy pump, or what?) I really do love J.Crew's Super 120's suiting pieces, especially when they do them in pretty colors like this Royal Violet pencil skirt. Purchased it in my normal pencil skirt size. This wool skirt is very fine, soft, and lightweight, and fully lined so that the itch factor for me is a total zero. It's almost a 4-season skirt, with the exception of those summer days in Georgia when it's so humid that you want to peel your skin off. And speaking of summertime, I bought the Chambray Schoolboy Blazer with those kind of days in mind, as I often need a non-wool topper to wear over dresses and blouses at work. This blazer will also look super cute with shorts, a tank, and espadrilles on the weekends. Fits the same as my other Schoolboy blazers, and I like that the cotton chambray is crisp instead of rumpled.

Here's a better picture of the Chambray Schoolboy blazer.

Rugby Stripe Dress in Navy Grotto

Cotton shift dresses are some of my most favorite things in the world when it comes to casual wear, and I live in them after work when the weather gets warm. They are also the perfect thing to pack for a weekend trip since they take up a miniscule amount of space in your luggage and keep you looking chic and comfy while traveling. I've had other polo-style dresses like this one and have worn them all to rags through frequent use. The stripes make this Rugby dress fun and I love the flash of gold from the little metallic buttons. Purchased in Medium, which is my usual in J.Crew knits. There is a little bit of excess fabric on the bottom, which is normal for me when it comes to dresses. I really like the weight of the cotton fabric that J.Crew used here. It's not their tissue, vintage, or cotton pique...it's similar to the knit used on the Colorblocked Stripe Tee, and I'm a big fan of that top.

It's true that I bought this dress with warm weather in mind, but if you add tights, boots, and a blazer it becomes totally appropriate for an early Spring shopping day or Sunday brunch. Once I find the perfect pair of cognac leather riding boots (am hoping to pick up a pair on sale soon), I will wear them with this outfit. The belt is one that my sister bought for me ages ago at the National Quarter Horse Congress; it's adjustable and has become one of my most favorite wardrobe accessories :)

Typical zero-effort post-work/weekend outfit: dress and shoes (usually Weejuns, Sperrys, or Jack Rogers Sandals). This is also an excellent outfit in which to walk your dog, even if said dog is possesed by Satan as Bennett appears to be in this picture.

Aaaaahhh, loungewear. Flannel jammy pants, Hanes tee, and J.Crew cashmere - I love it so. Early Spring is the perfect time to pick up cashmere sweaters at very discounted prices, just as I did with this Cashmere Boyfriend Cardigan (less than $100 on Final Sale w/ 30% off...JOY). I know that a lot of people have had some quality issues with J.Crew's cashmere in recent years, but I guess I'm just lucky because all of my sweaters and cardigans have held up beautifully. I did have a featherweight cashmere cardigan that pilled like crazy, so I gave that sweater to Goodwill and won't be buying any more in the future. The 12-gauge knits or lower are the ones that I buy, and I generally stay away from cables since they tend to add bulk. I have enough bulk up top, thanks.

Did you buy any of these pieces from J.Crew's recent Spring rollouts? What's on your wish list?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Material, Girl: It's Supposed to Be Silk!

There are lots of nice things about not living in a large city. Relaxed pace. Less traffic. Lower cost of living. Friendly neighbors. But...I do miss the shopping. I used to live in Washington DC, just a short Metro or car ride away from pretty much any shopping opportunity that my heart desired. Now, the closest big city is over an hour's drive away, and it takes 45 minutes just to get from the interstate exit to the mall - a distance of about 1 mile. As a result, I do a lot of my shopping online (especially my personal retail crack, J.Crew). Online shopping is unsurpassed in terms of variety, but there is a much greater margin of error when it comes to the fit, color, and quality of what you see and what you get. There is only so much you can know about a garment from a little picture on your computer screen. Mistakes tend to happen. Free shipping and discount promotions are your friend. My most recent strange online experience involved this lovely blouse:

J.Crew Talitha Blouse in Vintage Berry, $110.00

The online description says:

"A clean silhouette rendered endlessly feminine in silk. Dress it up or down with equally effortless charm. We couldn't help but hide a contrast interior trim for a secret bit of wit—tucked into trousers or pencil skirts, it's our go-to blouse for polish on top."

I agree with J.Crew's description. It's not always easy to find pretty, colorful blouses to wear to work, especially those without buttons in the front which can pull and gape over my chest. And silk blouses feel divine and drape so beautifully. Imagine my surprise when I pulled my new blouse out of the box, and the tag read: "100% Rayon."


There is nothing wrong with rayon per se, but if I'm going to shell out $110 for a top it's going to be because hundreds of little silk worms died to make it. I'm willing to pay cash for their sacrifice. This blouse didn't feel like silk, either...it was sort of stiff and crispy. I was ready to call J.Crew and read them the riot act for selling me a sow's ear masquerading as a silk purse, to unleash my Appalachia and say, "Don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining." But I decided not to act like trash and keep my cool. I'm glad that I did, because the customer service representative was very sweet and apologetic, and was baffled as to why I would have received a rayon blouse, or a silk blouse with rayon tags, or whatever the heck it was. She immediately credited my account for the blouse and shipping fees, and then offered to send me a replacement that would be hand-checked for quality at the warehouse before it was sent to me. Now that's the J.Crew I know and love.

I'll probably never know exactly what happened with the mysterious Rayon Talitha blouse, but J.Crew corrected their mistake with minimal stress on my part and I'm satisfied with that for now. I'll be glad to get my new top in the mail so that I can wear it and enjoy the gorgeous feeling of silk on my skin.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Return of DOMINO!

After what has been a truly crap-tastic couple of weeks at work, my outlook for Spring has greatly improved with the news that Domino Magazine is returning on April 17th with a special "Quick Fixes" edition!!!

Like pretty much everyone else in the design community (and stylish people everywhere) I mourned the loss of Domino in a major way. There have been quite a few great online blogs and shelter mags that have followed in Domino's footsteps over the years, but nothing beats the original (and, for me, I like being able to tear out glossy pages for inspiration). Here's hoping that Domino will publish more special editions, or maybe return for good!

Image found here.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Delicious and Vegetarian Friendly: Rigatoni w/ Vegetable Bolognese

I've been a vegetarian for 13 years. In my senior year of high school, I decided to stop eating animals because I loved them, and even I was surprised at how easy it was to go meat-free and never look back (I do eat eggs and milk products = ovo-lacto vegetarian).

I recently stayed the weekend with a dear friend of mine who is smart and stylish and an awesome mom to two very busy little girls. She planned a fabulous meal for one night that we cooked together while talking and laughing, the main course of which was Giada De Laurentiis's Rigatoni with Vegetable Bolognese. The prep time took long enough that I wouldn't consider this to be an easy weeknight meal, and you definitely need a food processor to make quick work of chopping up all the veggies, but this dish was one of the best things that I have eaten in a LONG time - better than anything I've had in a restaurant in recent memory. Even my friend, who eats meat, commented that the vegetable bolognese sauce is so similar in looks and taste to the meat version that she could barely tell the difference between the two. I can't wait to make it again myself!