Sunday, March 16, 2014

Mi Closet, Su Closet, Beacon's Closet (or: We Let One Cat Out of the Bag)

Imagine how thrilled we were to be approached to do a photo shoot with Beacon's Closet, our up-to-now secret consignment store that has been the source of some amazingly stylish additions to our wardrobes.  We were encouraged to accessorize the outfits with our own jewelry, hats, shoes or whatever, so when we arrived on the day of the actual shoot, we looked like we were moving in.

First, with the help of the staff, we had a look at the vast selections at both the Williamsburgh and Manhattan branches.  Carly and Delcey took charge of our foray in Brooklyn.  We're a bit peeved with ourselves that that we weren't smart enough to take pictures then, while we were frantically trying to get through the wealth of interesting selections they brought us before closing time.  In the West Village store, Julia and Stephanie took charge during our Manhattan hunt several days later.  We were amazed at the variety of things they brought us.  Everyone has a good handle on the merchandise.

The day of the photo shoot (we took three trips in all), Julia and Carly, below, were our go-to people, but all the employees had been apprised of the project and were more helpful than we could ever have imagined.  And sooooo nice!

As you can imagine, for us sifting through racks and racks and racks of intriguing clothing is not a half-hour process.  There was so much stuff to comb through, and we brought our fine tooth combs.  Between us and the staff, we discovered all sorts of wonderful things, all of which we had to refine down to four outfits each.  Here are the results:


Our first outfits are black, of course! Valerie's dress (very similar to Donna Karan's cold shoulder dress of a few years back), paneled silk scarf with mother of pearl buttons and black suede platform shoes are all from Beacon's Closet. Likewise, Jean's leopard pillbox, Prada jacket, Rene Lezard for Bergdorf Goodman wrap skirt, Alexander Wang bag, Yves St. Laurent animal print kitten-heeled, lace-up shoes and domino bracelet are all from Beacon's.  The Illesteva Frieda glasses, black resin skull necklace, gold rings, vintage bakelite rings and fans are Jean's.

Ready for an evening out.  Everything is resale except the black and white striped bangles.

Here is a closeup of a domino bracelet that Stephanie, who'd done a study of our tastes by looking at the blog, collected for Jean.  Needless to say, Jean couldn't resist taking it home with her.

Our second outfits are combinations of black and red.  Jean wears a Kenar jacket, vintage faux Persian lamb pillbox, black with red polka dot pants, Prada boots and bag are from Beacon's closet. Valerie's black velvet coat by Giorgio Armani, half black half red sleeveless dress by Betsey Johnson, and red suede shoes all found at Beacon's.

Hat, earrings, gloves and bag from Valerie's closet.

Jean's glasses, earrings, resin and bakelite bracelets and rings are from her own collection.  We loved this photograph because it displays Carly's Zana Bayne harness.

Our third outfits are black and white or black and silver. Some of you will remember our post Say Yes to the Dress, in which Valerie showed a second hand dress she bought without trying on, and with little hope of ever having the opportunity to wear it.  Well, that dress was from Beacon's, so Valerie pulled it out for the shoot and wears it below.  Amazingly, it actually fit, although it really was much too long.  Stephanie declared it a one of a kind home made piece.  The really fun part of this ensemble was matching the silver ingot dress with the H&M fuzzy hat with little ears.  The ribbon jacket is another Beacon's item.  (Earrings, gloves, bracelet and shoes from Valerie's closet.)

Jean chose a Tsumori Chisato dress, puffy quilted necklace, open weave shawl and tube skirt from Beacon.  The Danil Khutorianskii faux ostrich collar, Amy Downs shark fin hat, vintage glasses, resin and bakelite rings and bracelets, and DIY Dansko clogs are Jean's own.

Here's a closeup of the bracelets, dress and textured shawl (which photographs much bluer than it appears in real life.

Our fourth outfits include coats. One of the pieces they put aside for us was this amazingly elaborate tapestry coat.  It's simultaneously fabulous and 1960s-Miami-Mother-of-the-Bride.  What fun to step outside one's comfort zone!  Ideally, Valerie would have liked a pair of Louis XVI shoes, but failing that, she picked the most baroque looking shoes she could find, which turned out to be these United Nude knockoffs.  The heels were VERY high for someone just out of surgical boot.  The feeling was one of walking on stilts.   Bugle-beaded pillbox hat and two-toned gloves are from Valerie's closet.

Jean opted for this Jean Paul Gaultier dark grey high collared wool coat with the most amazing stitching and pleating in the back, a vintage velvet hat with an Oriental vibe, and black slim cut crinkly satin slacks with drawstring waist -- all from Beacon's Closet.

The huge collar was SO much fun!

While we were filming on the street outside the store next to a large portable boiler in a container truck, tiny pieces of dust occasionally flew through the air and 90% of them landed on Jean's hat!  Quel horreur!  The lucite bracelets, Made Her Think skull necklace and Woodstock eyeglass frames are Jean's.

BEHIND THE SCENES (What led up to the shoot)

Beacon's has a generously sized basement, so that's where the extensive try-ons took place.  There's no actual dressing room down there, so Carly (left) and Julia (right) ingeniously put up a rope from the wall to one of the reserve racks, and then hung huge black trash bags across them.

Some of the Great Things That Didn't Make the Final Cut:

This gray velvet jacket with points at the thighs would definitely have made it in if it had had a matching skirt or pants.  The skirt and shoes are also Beacon's, as are the wonderful rainbow sneakers at right by the column.  They were too big, or they would have been a definite yes.

This Mickey Mouse print coat in camouflage colors was too funny for words.  Sooo tongue-in-cheek, but the cut was wrong for this body.

OMG!  This skirt was marvelous - great color combination, intricate cutting and sewing (sort of a Renaissance page look), strips of little threads accenting the patchwork, and oh so wonderful lace ups at the sides.  The material had a bit of lycra for stretch, but there was no getting around the zipper, five or six inches of which had come unsewn from the seam.  Sigh...

The ladies at the Village store pulled this feather-light red and navy dress for Valerie to try. Unfortunately, it was too long for her even when she wore platforms, but it sure was way cool.

This All Saints Spitalfield's jacket has a very interesting cut.  Great for an evening out, or an all-around goth look.  (Imagine it with a flat black round hat with a wide brim.)  If life revolved around play, then YES.  But a working girl has to think of the P word: practical.

Having just recently stopped by the KTZ installation at Dover Street Market, we immediately recognized the brand when we saw this terrific black wool pencil skirt embellished with iconic white images that resembled in weight and texture the letters on vintage high school "letter sweaters". Since she never wears short skirts or even knee length skirts, Jean reluctantly passed on this skirt. The faux patent leather short jacket was quite fun and very reasonably priced.

When Delcey showed us this faux fur Opening Ceremony skirt by Creatures of the Wind, we both smiled.  Jean tried it on and loved it.  A tiny voice in her head, however, kept shrieking that she'd never actually wear it. The Comme des Garcon black 3/4 sleeve wool sweater would be a great addition to any wardrobe.

Another great idea that ended up on the cutting room floor was thism Y-3 skort. Although it is hard to see the leggings against Jean's opaque tights, they do extend about three inches below the skirt. They aren't connected to each other but are separate tubes each attached to the skirt. Although the thought of Y-3 was tantalizing,  this was a novelty item best left to the young.

Jean loved the tromp l'oeil effect of this Peplum by Yoshiki Hishinuma skirt. If you stand at just the right angle, the applique looks like trouser legs and the wearer lookes like Gumby in plaid slacks!

This Ann Demeulemeester striped knit top looked great at any angle.  Jean paired it with the faux lamb pillbox hat and her own skirt.

Bee Gees music played in her head as Jean donned this short jacket with shoulder pads adorned with sequined starfish. It screamed 1980s. But our self-imposed limit was four outfits, so it lost out to other equally stylish but more Jean-ish options.

When we initially toyed with doing a shoot in matching red coats, Valerie tried this shiny red with black polka dots rain coat, with the same velour hat that Jean and Carly wore.

We're SO used to it when people tell us they have no hats, don't know how to wear hatS or don't look good in them.  Poor Carly.  As soon as she uttered those words we were on her like ducks on a Junebug, delighted as mischievous little children to prove her wrong.  We put this velour hat on her -- one of the many that had been selected for us at the Williamsburgh branch.  Can we call it or what?

What we haven't yet told you is that this hat is EVER so '60s - it was originally designed to have that bubble look so popular back in the 1960s.  After we showed Carly how great she'd look in the hat we'd already reshaped to a sort of Chinese mandarin look (very simple - takes half a minute), and placed it on an angle over one eye, we asked her to wear it again the way it was meant to be worn.  OK, what's the consensus, readers?

Below is Stephanie, who first brought us to the attention of the Beacon's staff, for which we will be eternally grateful. The first time we had a long talk with her was at Opening Ceremony's runway show featuring Zana Bayne's harnesses during last September's New York Fashion Week. Stephanie is dressed head to toe in Beacon's clothing. The shirt, with airy architectural scaffolding in the shoulders that both of us oohhhhhhh'd and ahhhhhhh'd over, is by one of Lady Gaga's designers. Stephanie wore it to her birthday party later that same week.

If we'd seen this shirt before Stephanie did, the two us of, age notwithstanding, would have had a knockdown dragout fight over it (unless, of course, it turned out to only fit one of us).

Although we totally spaced on taking photos of the clothes and staff like Delcey at the Williamsburg branch, we did somehow manage to take a picture of Monty, her dog, dressed up warmly against the frigid weather. Turns out this dapper canine has his own Instagram account: #whatsupwithmonty. Check it out!

After the shoot, when we went back upstairs for one last loop of the racks, Valerie tried on an old red leather Manolo Blahnik shoe.  The red suede balls were a wonderful selling point, but the little kitten heel under a once-broken ankle had to be a deal breaker.

Here, Jean considers a Betsey Johnson sweater.  Her fashion radar can pick up Betsey Johnson from half a mile away.

Photo shoot photographer Carly and Julia stopped for a picture before moving on to their next project. At the end of the day, we were exhausted. We could only imagine how tired Julia and Carly had to be since they continued to work after helping us into a taxi.

Want to see more pictures?  Of course you do!

Carly - who's a fabulous photographer - took loads of pictures of us in our resale finery, and put it on Beacon's own blog.  Click here to link to more photos - and our interview with Julia.


  1. I am in love with/want so many things in this post! The outfits you selected are true to each of your styles and look fabulous. The red and black and the outfit with coats are my favourites (Jean, how could you leave the Gaultier coat behind???) I'm so glad that Valerie got to wear "the dress" and it fits her like a dream. Now that the secret is out, I want to go to Beacon's Closet on my next NY visit!

  2. OMG I AM IN words...can't think of anything to say except "WOWEE"


  4. Everyone was thrilled to have YOU 2 at Beacons+ The partnership was purr-fection!

  5. Ahhhh, this post is fabulous! So many great looks on both of you. Carly looks gorgeous in her hat both ways. Teaching younger people to wear hats is of service to the planet!

    Beacon's Closet will be mandatory on any NYC adventure in the future! My first introduction was to live for!

  6. What a FUN shoot! Valerie and Jean are amazing! Enjoyed every outfit combo and would love to see more hats incorporated into everyday fashions.