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Bay to Breakers (almost)

May 18, 2011
by Rachel Elizabeth

On my San Francisco Bucket List is Bay  to Breakers, a “race” of hundreds of thousands inebriated participants who once each year cross the city in costume (or in the nude) from SOMA to Golden Gate Park in what has become a hilarious San Francisco tradition. This year it was supposed to rain and hail so Aug, Ted, and I hadn’t planned on going and didn’t plan our costumes in advance but when the sun came out at 9am we threw together all the strange apparel in the house and surprised each other with our new getups.

After a few mimosas with Tim and Kelly, the fantastic four headed in search of fellow revelers to celebrate the beautiful day.

If only we had known the race was over at noon, we would have left the house a little earlier and avoided an embarrassing strut through the civic center in our scandalous attire.

There’s always next year!

She’s the Gayle to my Oprah, but we’re not denying anything. (kidding, mom)

May 17, 2011
by Rachel Elizabeth

My roommate and tribal council member Teddy is super stylish and super silly so taking pictures of her before work is always a hilarious endeavor. We often go shopping independently and return with the exact same purchases, including this white blazer from H+M. Outfitted with our matching Theory leather dresses, Ted’s outfit goes desk to dinner perfectly and is the ying to my yang.

New money saving fashion tip…

May 16, 2011
by Rachel Elizabeth

James sporting a hoop earring as a bangle.

Not for those of us without dainty wrists, but certainly a good idea for those of you with 8 year old sisters who don’t have pierced ears and hence, a use for hand me down earrings: new bracelets!

Thrify, sister.

Only 9 more episodes!

May 14, 2011
by Rachel Elizabeth

Ben Jones: Professional Google Maps Model

May 14, 2011
by Rachel Elizabeth

New Member of the Tribal Council: Iris Apfel

May 13, 2011
by Rachel Elizabeth

As a child, Iris Barrel Apfel once had a screaming fit when her mother put a ribbon in her hair whose color didn’t match her outfit. So it comes as no surprise that the interior designer and co-founder of the textile house Old World Weavers grew up to become a fashion icon. “But I don’t like anything matchy-matchy anymore,” says the self-proclaimed geriatric starlet, who is prone to donning daredevil extravaganzas of pattern and color along with masses of clanking jewelry.

Apfel burst onto the international stage in 2005, when the Metropolitan Museum of Art put the octogenarian’s flamboyantly bohemian personal wardrobe—antique Chinese robes, haute-couture feathered coats, operatic necklaces, many of them made to her eccentric order—on display in its Costume Institute. And now she is literally taking her mix-master taste on the road, from advising fashion-school students to designing a forthcoming collection of costume jewelry.

Taking a break from stringing beads, Apfel—wearing pencil-slim blue jeans, a brilliantly embroidered Indian jacket, and armloads of rattling wood bracelets—sat down in her Manhattan apartment with Mitchell Owens, Architectural Digest’s special projects editor, for an afternoon chat. The topics of conversation? Everything from how fashion can be the most liberating thing around to why church vestments can make a most modern ensemble.

ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST: Some people, and I am not among them, find fashion talk to be foolishness. But you don’t.

IRIS APFEL: Clothes are not frippery. Properly done, they can be an art form. Throughout history clothes represented who you were; they are a great vehicle for explaining who you are. During the Ching dynasty, for example, what you wore and how it was made reflected your status in society. People could literally read your clothes like a book, just by its color and how it was embroidered.

AD: So what do your clothes reflect?

IA: Just me. I’ve never tried to be a rebel or upset anybody. I just figured if I pleased my husband, and my mother didn’t get upset, then I was okay. Fashion really is women’s liberation in a lot of ways. Look at how many women in this country are depressed about how they look and how they think they have to look! It’s really sad. And it’s not about money. People with a lot of money don’t dress as well as people who have to make do, who have to be inventive. Those are the people who are always more interestingly dressed, I think. Everything I do, I do with gut instinct. If I think too much, it won’t come out right.

AD: You’ve been dressing like this for more than 50 years; what is the reaction as you walk down the street?

IA: I never care much what people think. I honestly don’t; I don’t pay any attention to the fashion police. A lot of people, probably most people, dress for status, and think they are well dressed if they wear something that costs a lot of money. And they all want the same labels, so they all look alike, which I think is awful.

AD: Why do you prefer fake jewels to the real thing?

IA: My husband, Carl, is a very lucky man: Diamond necklaces don’t appeal to me at all. I prefer fun jewelry with big stones—so large they would be untouchable if they were real. Now, don’t get me wrong. I do appreciate Daddy Warbucks–size stones, like a big, flawed emerald. I love stones that are inherently flawed: rock crystal, turquoise with big veins. It’s like Rodin once said, “More beautiful than a beautiful thing is the ruin of a beautiful thing.” I think that’s a great observation, and most of the time so very true.

AD: You’re designing a costume-jewelry collection now; have you ever designed fashion or jewelry before?

IA: All my life I’ve done that, made things or had things made, both clothes and jewelry. I used to take those beige cardboard tubes that are used for masking tape and draw designs on them with black pens and wear them as bracelets. I have a whole collection of those. You can make all kinds of wonderful stuff. All you need is a little imagination. I don’t know what happens to people’s imaginations. We have it when we’re young, but so many lose it when we grow up.

AD: Well, it takes imagination to walk out of the house wearing a priest’s cassock, which you’ve done.

IA: Back in the ’50s, when I was in Paris on a buying trip, I found this positively beautiful ruby silk-velvet vestment at the flea market. It was like a big, floppy tunic, but stiff, and I put it on right away. I thought it was pretty swell. My husband started to scream, “I don’t want you in old clothes, people will think I can’t afford to dress you properly.” Really, he was carrying on like a madman. Just then Eugenia Sheppard, the fashion editor at The New York Herald Tribune, came waddling by, and she saw the vestment and said, “Isn’t this divine?” I asked if she would do me a favor: “Go and tell my husband.” And she did. So I bought it, and it was a sensation. I had some old silk velvet made into skinny trousers and ruby velvet shoes, and on top I wore a long string of turquoise beads.

AD: You have a big collection of Chinese robes, too.

IA: I have worn Chinese robes a lot and they were so cheap to buy. After the Revolution, French and English people who worked in China as missionaries or bankers left the country and took a lot of stuff home with them. Their children didn’t want them, I suppose, so I bought what I could find. I love Middle Eastern clothes too, especially Turkish things.

AD: But you have no problem with jeans.

IA: Only with what they cost. Have you seen the prices? Scandalous. I mean, yes, if they are embroidered or beaded or made special in some divine way, but honestly, jeans are jeans. I live in them most of the time, but I had a helluva time getting a pair of jeans around 1940, when I was at the University of Wisconsin. I thought I’d wear jeans, a turban, and some old earrings. So I went to an Army-Navy store, but you have to remember, back in those days, all the men in Wisconsin were the size of Paul Bunyan. Then the salesman told me, “Young ladies don’t wear jeans.” He wouldn’t sell me any or have them cut down. So I kept going back to the store, and they kept throwing me out, so to get rid of me, they finally ordered me some boys’ jeans. I love men’s jeans; they fit me better.

Read more:

Sun-Shiny Day

May 12, 2011
by Rachel Elizabeth

Sunny Days + Parachute Skirts=a match made in Heaven

Dress: JCrew (w/DIY Straps), Shoes: BRFS, Necklace: JCrew

How your American Girl doll shaped the REST OF YOUR LIFE

May 11, 2011
by Rachel Elizabeth

Teddy sent me this hilarious article from The Hair Pin by Chiara Atik and I couldn’t help but repost. I had a Samantha, I guess that explains a lot.


Samantha Parkington:
Did you know, when you picked her out, that Samantha was the cool one? Or were you simply drawn to her glossy brown hair, sophisticated accessories (she had a fur muff!) and rich demographic? Either way, every girl wanted a Samantha. If you owned her, you quickly learned the value of cachet.

By virtue of acquiring a status symbol early on (a Samantha doll was the designer jeans of third grade), you never quite had to worry about things the way other girls did. You therefore grew up to be confidant, capable, and nonplussed. You’ve always been well liked. You aren’t the funniest in your group, but you’ve never really noticed or cared. If you thought about it, you could probably recognize other women who had Samanthas. But that’s not that impressive: everybody can.

Molly McIntire:
If you had Molly, you probably wanted Samantha instead, but contented yourself with Molly because you too wore glasses, liked books, were bad at math, and would concoct various schemes to get attention. (Oh, Molly.) If you were a Molly, and had a Molly (as opposed to being a Molly and aspirationally owning a Felicity), you were imbued, then and now, with an immutable sense of self. At least Molly could tap dance, which is frankly more talent than any of the other girls exhibited.

As an adult, you’ve developed a carefully honed aptitude for sarcasm. You’ve gotten contacts, and a slightly edgy haircut. You still sort of want attention, but you deny it. You’ve thought back on your American Girl Doll, and tried not to be too resentful towards the person who gave her to you, who so obviously associated you with the descriptor “mousy.”

Kirsten Larson:
You probably got Kirsten because she was blond, or because you read a lot of Little House on the Prairie books. (It definitely wasn’t because of her “St. Lucia Christmas Outfit” … yikes!)

Whatever superficial motivation led you to choose Kirsten, you quickly learned that life as a Swedish immigrant in Minnesota is not all lingonberry pie and ice fishing. Not halfway through the first book does Kirsten’s best friend Marta die suddenly and tragically of cholera. This was shocking and horrifying. Obviously, you were used to cholera deaths (this being the age of Oregon Trail), but this time it was different.

You therefore grew up to be a bit more thoughtful, a bit more reserved than your peers. You also find yourself inexplicably drawn towards crafts like knitting, jam-making, and quilting. You secretly suspect that you’d manage just fine in a post-Apocalyptic setting, should things come to that. You were surprised and delighted to see some of Kirsten’s outfits come back into style in certain enclaves of Brooklyn.

Felicity Merriman
You had Felicity because of one or more of the following reasons:
A) you had red hair
B) You thought she had the prettiest clothes and accessories.
C) Fewer people had Felicity, and you wanted to be unique.
D) You actually wanted Samantha but your mom thought Samantha’s dress looked like the top of a peanut butter jar so you got Felicity instead. (Just me? OK.)

You grew up to have an affinity for lovely things, a possibly inflated sense of your own uniqueness, a teensy hint of self-righteousness (remember how she refused tea when they raised the tea tax? “Thank you, I shall take no tea!”), and a latent familiarity with Colonial Williamsburg.

Addy Walker
If you were black, you had Addy because your parents were trying to encourage positive self-esteem in a market saturated with white dolls. If you were any other minority, you had Addy because your parents were trying to encourage positive self-esteem in a market saturated with white dolls. If you were white, and had Addy, it was because your progressive parents were trying to encourage broad world-views in a market saturated with white dolls.

Though arguably the most likeable of all the characters, Addy is more of a racial totem than personality- or era-driven doll: Her story doesn’t exactly provoke a nostalgia for slavery, and her accessory was, no kidding, a gourd. (The significance is obvious — how little girls would make their dolls play with the gourd is not.)

Girls who had Addy grew up with an acute sense of the lack of diversity in early-’90s consumer culture.

No American Girl Doll
Your parents wouldn’t buy you an American Girl doll because $80 is a ridiculous price to pay for a toy, which would then inevitably lead to the purchase of multiple accessories ranging from the overpriced ($18 for “Winter Accessories,” consisting of tiny doll mittens and a hat), to the exorbitant ($56 for an “Ice Cream Set,” consisting of tiny plastic scoops of ice cream), to the highway robbery ($349 for a “doll’s chest,” a.k.a. tiny wooden box).

You grew up to be financially independent, level-headed, unspoiled, and still just a little bit resentful whenever you walk by American Girl Place.

Is there such thing as work-appropriate shorts?

May 11, 2011
by Rachel Elizabeth

I vote YES.


May 10, 2011
by Rachel Elizabeth

A note from Marni.