Tuesday, July 31, 2007
When I was a little girl, I would carry my Mom's old castoff kisslock clutch around the house, and dream of the day I'd be old enough to carry a purse for real. I've never lost my love of handbags, and my family members' and close friends' eyes often glaze over as I describe the charms of my favorite bags with a glowing reverence more often reserved for great works of art. Carrie Bradshaw had her shoes; for me it's all about the bags.
I've flirted with status bags and "it" bags; yes I've been out on the town with Louis, Marc, and Nicolas. But it takes more than a fancy pedigree, a pretty face, or having been seen on the arm of a celebrity for me to get emotionally involved. It's that elusive combination of design, style, functionality and personality which certain bags possess that draws me in and hooks me.
I was introduced to Hayden-Harnett bags a couple of years ago through The Purse Forum. Several of the ladies there had purchased HH bags, and raved about the quality, the design, and most of all, the leather. So I took the plunge and ordered the Mercer Satchel in black.
Since then I've purchased several more HH bags including the Mercer Satchel in Chalk, the Hudson Triple Strap Satchel in black, the Havana Hobo, and most recently the Suki in saddle during their most recent sale.
Hayden Harnett was started by Toni Hacker and Ben Harnett in Brooklyn, NY, and they've recently opened a brick-and-mortar store at 211 Franklin St., Brooklyn NY 11222. (718) 348-2247.
HH bags are probably some of the best-designed, most ergonomic bags I've found to date. I can't believe the number of high end bag designers (yeah, I'm talkin' to you, Marc and Miuccia!) who can't be bothered to include cell phone or PDA pockets in bags that will set you back a month's (or three!) mortgage payment. Not only does every HH bag I've purchased have multiple interior and exterior pockets, including the wonderfully slouchy Havana Hobo, but they're easy to access as well. No fumbling with buckles or straps, and zippers are anchored well to make opening and closing easier. Most of the bags have an edgy "downtown" vibe, but without a lot of prominent hardware that adds weight and makes so many bags look dated after a season or two. There's a lighthearted quality to the designs that I find so appealing; they're more Besson than Bergman.
The quality of materials and workmanship are outstanding for bags at their price point, and the little details (like the luggage tags, chain charms and optional tassels) help give the bags a unique quirky charm. The leather is soft, distressed on most styles, and holds up quite well. The "chalk" (a slightly greyish white) is the one white bag I'm not afraid to take out. The texture of the leather really does seem to repel dirt and stains.
Their new Fall collection looks lovely too. I'm really intrigued by the Bungalow bag in Yam, and the Mimi Quilted Satchel in Lead. I think the Yam color, as well as this Mercer Satchel in Currant would look so great with this fall's grey pallettes. So much temptation!
In a world of overpriced designer "it" bags, Hayden-Harnett's creations stand out for their style, functionality and, especially, personality.
Edited to add: Pssst!!! As of 8/2 they're having another sale!!! Free shipping!!!
Sunday, July 29, 2007
The newest, Fraiche, has received a lot of buzz, and as I'd been told, is quite booked up. We were unable to get dinner reservations for Saturday night at the time that worked for our dining companions, so Doug and I went for a drink and to sample the bar menu before our dinner at K-Zo. We ordered a couple of charcuterrie plates, a nice prosciutto plate and the duck rillettes. We'd sampled the rillettes at Le Comptoir when we were in Paris in May, but the ones at Fraiche blew those out of the water. The prosciutto was also lovely, and both plates were served with wonderful olives (which we think are house cured). Fraiche also has a very special drink menu, the recipes all developed by the bartender, and utilizing secret ingredients from some intriguing bottles on the side of the bar. Doug ordered a Yellow Cab and said it was delicious and complex.
We then moved on to dinner at K-Zo, where we met up with Doug's brother and sister-in-law. We were seated in the the only booth, behind the beaded curtain. The chef/owner Keizo Ishiba was most recently with Sushi Roku, and the menu at K-Zo includes many cooked and French cuisine dishes, so your non-sushi-eating friends will have plenty to choose from as well. But it's the sushi that holds the spotlight for us. There is an extensive menu of daily specials, and we ordered primarily from there. My favorites were the Kampachi Carpaccio (thin slices of yellowtail drizzled with a light sauce and each topped with a thin slice of jalapeno pepper) and the Premium Toro sushi, which was so good we ordered a second round. We also ordered a large bottle of our favorite cold sake for the table. I can't remember the Japanese name, but it translates to English as "Chrysanthemum Water." Topping off the meal were an order of sesame ice cream and green tea ice cream.
We're determined to enjoy a dinner at Fraiche soon, and when we do I'll post my next installment of Foodies' Night Out.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Thursday, July 26, 2007
"Each generation seems to have a different idea of what is acceptable in
the workplace, and in this situation I was highly offended," says Cohen, who
works at a marketing firm in Philadelphia. "I was actually not allowed to attend
a meeting because my attire was deemed 'inappropriate.' People my age are taught
to express themselves, and saying something negative about someone's fashion is
saying something negative about them."
"The pendulum has swung," says CEO Jonathan Bloom. "We went through abut I don't envision that happening anytime soon at my company. Our people have grown accustomed to casual attire, and I don't imagine they'll give it up without a fight. I see more of IBM's attitude in our business.
too-casual period. … In the aftermath of the dot-com bubble, we tightened things
up a little. When we were very casual, the quality of the work wasn't as
Others are getting strict. In Auburn, N.Y., the city manager made
headlines in April when he banned most city employees from wearing jeans on
Fridays, a day that had long been reserved for casual attire. His office did not
return calls seeking comment.
Some companies, such as IBM, have thrown out dress codes altogether. Once
known as a traditional company of button-down shirts, cuff links and
suits, today it's a much more anything-goes approach.
"As society has changed, so has IBM," says Donna Riley, a human resources
vice president at IBM. "We do have a Birkenstock crowd in some of our locations.
Many years ago, it was a suit and tie for men and skirt, dress and stockings for
women. (Today's policy) says we trust our employees to use good judgment."
In an IBM research lab in San Jose, Calif., Dan Gruhl, 35, a researcher who
works in text analytics, typically shows up in flip-flops and shorts. He owns
only two button-down shirts.
"Having a relaxed environment encourages you to think more openly," Gruhl says. "Dress is part of a much larger culture.
It really encourages camaraderie."
Most of our staff are in their 20's and 30's, and most expect to be able to dress casually in the workplace. We don't work face-to-face with clients or meet the public, and most of the rest of the workers in our building are engineering and production types who more often than not come to work looking like they just rolled out of bed (cargo shorts, t-shirt, rubber flip-flops). We tried to revamp the dress code a few years ago to accommodate a more casual standard, but eventually had to abandon it altogether. We do however, have lines that are sometimes crossed, and we've occasionally had to ask people to go home and change. (I had to explain to one young woman why a tight tank top with the word "BOOTYLICIOUS" emblazoned across the chest in glitter script was not appropriate office attire.)
Our HR folks have even encouraged Management to dress down a bit in order to project a more"approachable" image to the staff. So I've dialed it down from pants suits through the "coordinated separates" and now often wear jeans (but nice jeans) on days other than Fridays.
But I remain dependent on The Jacket. Even jeans and a plain t-shirt will look pulled-together with a good jacket. I probably splurge a bit more on jackets now than any other article of clothing**, because of the power they have to make or break an outfit. Now with the weather too warm for all but the lightest jackets, I'm often feeling sartorially incomplete, and have on occasion resorted to wearing a blouse jacket-style over a t-shirt or shell. There's only so far into the casual ocean this femme will wade at the office.
*not to say that I didn't find some fabulous fun, quirky, unique items in my thrift store heyday. But a vintage bowling shirt didn't meet the benchmarks for "business attire" back then.
**except for handbags and shoes, of course. A great pair of shoes and a dynamite bag will make whatever your wearing look more stylish.
Friday, July 20, 2007
I was actually paying attention this year, and came home with some nice new wardrobe and makeup additions, most of which at a nice markdown. (Hey, we all need a couple of rationalizations to get through the day.)
I'd "pre-saled" (is that a verb now?) the MAC Brush Set and MAC Coral Lip set so went in to pick those up today, and in a whirlwind 45 minutes, came home with those plus a Laura Mercier Lip Plumper (which I really like--the color is sheer and makes my lips look smoother), and also with this jacket , (I'm so going to be known as That Older Chick With All of the Cropped 3/4 Sleeve Jackets.)
these shoes, (can you tell I'm loving grey this season? It's the new black!)
And some more Footpetals (essential if you want to go sockless and avoid Sweaty Foot).
The thing that I love about this Nordstrom's sale is that it's the new stuff, so sizes aren't picked over. I was actually able to find my size in everything I looked at today, which is nothing short of a miracle for a big sale. If I have a chance this weekend, I may go back and peruse some more. Or maybe common sense will prevail. Between this loot and the two custom bags I've ordered (more on that later) I'm going to be on a spending hiatus between now and December!
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Naomi Wolf was right.
I've been trying to streamline my skincare routine lately, and eliminate products that are unnecessary. I have my favorites; some are a bit pricey, others not so much. My skin has tended to be on the oily side most of my life, though I notice it's getting less so as I age.
Cleansing: I don't use soap on my face anymore, or purchase expensive cleansers. My #1 top favorite product is St. Ives Apricot Scrub. My skin isn't particularly sensitive, so I use this every couple of days. To remove what little makeup I wear anymore, I like Pond's Clean Sweep Towlettes. Other than that, I just rinse well with warm or cool water.
Sunscreen: During the day, I've started skipping the moisturizer and just using a heavy duty sunscreen instead. My current fave is the one I bought in France, and I've just found a way to order online from Canada (the active ingredient, Meroxyl, is not yet available in the US above an SPF 15). With the skin cancer that runs in my family, I've taken to wearing at least an SPF 50 daily. Neutrogena also makes a nice SPF 70, but I've found that it doesn't soak into the skin as well, and sometimes I'll notice some white streaks a few hours later where I didn't quite rub in enough.
Eyes: I'll cop to using expensive eye creams. I've tried the drugstore brands that everyone recommends, but have mostly found that the texture just isn't the same and doesn't soak in, or worse, the fragrances irritate the skin around my eyes. I don't have a lot of wrinkles, but have started getting the crepe-y, saggy skin above my eyes. The one exception to my preference for expensive products are the Olay Regenerist Dermapods. At first I thought, "what a gimmick!" but started reading some good reviews on beauty product blogs. I've been using these for a week, and they do really seem to work. I've never had much trouble with undereye circles or bags, but they do seem to smooth out the stuff I've got going on on the upper lids. You're only supposed to use them 3x per week, so in between I'm still using the pricey stuff (currently Clarins).
The only time I use a heavy duty moisturizer anymore is at night. I tend to find Lancome Primordiale Nuit works best for me. One jar lasts me several months. I did try the Olay Regenerist Night Recovery Treatment but again find the texture is a little waxy and it doesn't feel like it soaks in.
I don't use a toner anymore, as I've read in enough places that they don't really do anything except dry out the skin. I think I have my routine down to the basics. Mornings it's rinse with water, eye cream, sunscreen. Nights it's makeup removal, scrub (usually 4 or 5 times/week), eye cream and moisturizer. If I'm going to be outdoors and in the sun, I have an SPF 30 eye cream that I'll use instead of the regular.
There's only so much money and time I'm willing to spend on maintenance. I believe that aging isn't a crime against humanity, and will never be one of those women who goes to extraordinary measures to look younger. I don't have the time, and can't justify the expense.