Sunday, November 21, 2010

Behind the Scenes of StyleLikeU; Holiday Gift-Giving Alert

Here we are on Friday night at MOMA's cafe, celebrating our Thursday, 11/18/10 video debut on StyleLikeU's website. You can view it for yourselves at We wanted to give you a glimpse of what went on behind the scenes. And, yes, in case you were wondering, we do look for any excuse to party. Life is too short. It's nice to have a partner in crime with whom to celebrate the little things! Valerie says: Jean came to our celebration straight from work and hatless, so I lent her my brand new Ignatius hat. How could we celebrate without?! Some hats won't flatter both of us; this one does. For the record, we both prefer this one backward. I wore another feathered favorite to MOMA. Jean says: greater love hath no (wo)man than to lay down her brand-new hat for her fellow (wo)man! (Valerie's recent purchase at the Philadelphia Craft Show was generously loaned for our spontaneous evening out). I paired it with black and white dotted metal earrings, matte black MOD OATH frames by Revue (from Fabulous Fanny's) and Kyodan jacket. Valerie's wearing an Issey Miyake coat and jacket, and an unlabeled gray velour hat.

Jean says: Last Spring, at the Vintage Show at the Metropolitan Pavilion, we were approached by Elisa Goodkind and invited to be interviewed and videotaped for StyleLikeU's website. Initially, I was VERY intimidated by the prospect of being videotaped in my own apartment and having to actually talk about my clothing choices. Luckily, since ours is a joint posting and Valerie went first, I had a little more lead time to select outfits and had the opportunity to do a joint interview with her. In addition to the video, they also took a number of still photos to put on the website. By the time it was my turn, I approached it with much less trepidation. Elisa's daughter, Lily, was our interviewer/videographer extraordinaire! She is an absolute sweetheart who put me immediately at ease. I'm wearing a vintage black felt 1940's "Hershey's Kiss" hat by Bellini Originals from Another Time Antiques, black and white striped Zara Basic Nautical Line jacket and Ralph Lauren tee shirt, vintage black and white bakelite and plastic bangles, black and white plastic earrings, black bakelite cube ring, black resin skull ring by "Made Her Think", black and white skeleton and red heart metal necklace by Enz on 2nd Ave. in the East Village and Moss Lipow glasses.

Here I am sitting in my living room on my Art Deco chrome sofa (which my cat DeeDee has recently taken to obsessively clawing!), basking in the shade of my vintage swordfish trophy, wearing a Norma Kamali faux leopard peplum jacket, Comme des Garcons wool jacket, Maria D. Del Greco hat with vintage bakelite pin, 1950's plastic red cherries necklace and earrings, Zara pants, Doc Martens black patent leather boots, Angela Caputi red resin bracelet, 1950s-60s lucite red starfish bangle bracelets, lucite cube ring, vintage black bakelite cube ring, and assorted resin and gold rings, Moss Lipow glasses.

Can you say Clown? Yes, they really are that wide! My vintage waffle cotton balloon pants labeled "Elon of California by Monica Tilley" with an additional Saks Fifth Avenue label were purchased years ago at a Metropolitan Pavilion Vintage Show. The vendors told me that they came from the estate of a woman who used to spend a month every winter in Puerto Rico and who had a different bathing suit for every day of the month. She left behind tons of resort wear. I paired these trousers with Born clogs and a black vintage felt hat by Jean Allen, acquired at my first and (so far) only clothing swap last year. It reportedly came from a thrift shop in Maine. My jacket is from Costume National on Howard St. I purchased my red resin Angela Caputi cuff from her shop in Milan about five or six years ago. For color and contrast, I'm wearing vintage red polka dot plastic earrings, assorted red bakelite and plastic bangle bracelets, black bakelite and resin and gold rings, and my ever-present Moss Lipow frames. The red with white skull felt bag is by Habla. (For a closeup of its sister bag in black, see our 1/17/10 entry "What's In the Bag, Lady?")

In this closeup, visible against the graphic backdrop of a black and white polka dot skirt by Kedem Sasson (from Rosebud in Soho), are multiple black vintage bakelite bangles, Angela Caputi Alligator cuff, one white and two black resin skull rings by "Made Her Think", vintage black bakelite cube ring, assorted gold rings (family crest, signet ring, Sept 11 ring by Kirsten Hawthorne, college ring, wedding band). Nail polish: Brucci Nail Hardener #212, Romantic Red (available at Duane Reade and RiteAid).

Here I am coming and going at Valerie's May video shoot in front of her Marilyn wall hanging wearing my leather motorcycle jacket (purchased in 1993, which I wore years ago while riding on the back of a Harley Davison Astro-Glider in a Muscular Dystrophy Bikeathon on Staten Island), an Ignatius hat, black vintage jodhpurs (Merkins Riding Apparel, Philadelphia), black vintage bakelite cuff, Angela Caputi alligator cuff, Calvin Klein eyeglass chain, Moss Lipow eyeglasses and Dansko clogs.)

Busted. Celebrating again! This time, the fete is for the end of my shoot -- over Indian food at Heart of India. (Valerie's on the other side of the camera.) I'm wearing an armful of black and white bakelite and plastic bangle bracelets on one and the black resin Angela Caputi alligator cuff on the other; black bakelite cube ring and assorted gold rings (family crest, signet ring and two stackable rings by East Village jewelry designer Kirsten Hawthorne), vintage bakelite black dice earrings, and red metal heart necklace (from Enz in the East Village).

Valerie says: Jenny Joseph has a wonderful poem entitled WARNING. The first line of the poem reads "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple..." Here I am demonstrating that old women can sit cross legged and wear purple at the same time.

This photo looks so simple (should have spread the coat out in a semicircle for better effect, though). What you can't see in the photo is that I obsessively cleaned my apartment for about two weeks prior to the shoot. Windows one day, bathroom another day, kitchen another day... Not that these were all day chores, but it seemed like it when I came home from work only to put the rubber gloves on. This is the coat that goes under the white tubular knitting coat (see below). White gloves to do the white glove test on the apartment with.

This photo is included because my beloved octopus hat didn't make the cut on StyleLikeU. When it came to selecting my outfits for the shoot, I couldn't see the forest for the trees. Happily for me, Jean must have a photographic memory. She made out a terrific list of suggestions for me, almost all of which I adopted. (Jean says: For the full scoop on Valerie's octopus hat, see our 10/25/09 posting "A Hat of One's Own".)

This is another hat that didn't make it to the final cut. Hard to see here, but worn the intended way, this vintage '40s piece looks like it's adorned with two leaves; worn backward, it calls to mind Mercury and his winged hat. This is another one that Jean and I can both wear. Oh, and the cotton ankle ties are by Nuno, from MOMA. (Jean says: There is a pain-in-the-a** vendor at the vintage shows in NYC who unforgiveably accused one of us of wearing our hats backward. What a silly, silly man - who won't see the color of our money any time soon!) (Valerie interjects: In this instance, when Jean says 'one of us' she means none other than moi. I WAS wearing the hat backward, and I was FAB. That vendor is now my 21st century poster boy for the Know Nothing Party. [You can look 'em up!])

I'm including this because the felt cuff and wooden bangle don't show up on StyleLikeU. Jean called this my Tom Wolfe suit. I'm ever so flattered by the comparison, but I'll bet dollars to doughnuts Tom doesn't have half as cool a hat to go with his white suits.

Valerie says: Of course, once we finally appeared on StyleLikeU (six months after the initial shoot!), Jean and I had to alert all our friends to our latest 15-minute allotment of fame. One of the people I wrote to was Lisa Nishi, who designs extraordinary confections more or less out of thin air. Lisa e mailed me back with a photo of her own latest accomplishment: rescuing a great horned owl with a broken wing, which she took to an animal rehabilitation center. (We hasten to add that Lisa's coat is faux fur.) With the Christmas season upon us, if you don't need another tie or sweater, think about giving a donation to your favorite charity, or to your friend's favorite charity. Jean and I (since we also don't need another tie or sweater), will be donating to one another's charities of preference. If you would like to make a contribution to the rehabilitation of Lisa's owl, contact Two Rivers Wildlife Park, Animal Rehabilitation, PO BOX 6270, Marion Bridge, NS, Canada B1K 3T8.

Jean says:
Having spent the better part of yesterday and today trapping kittens in an East Village backyard, in response to caring neighbors' concerns about getting them out before the cold weather really settles in, I just want to tell you how grateful I am for my neighborhood shelter ( Social Tees Animal Rescue at 124 East 4th St., NYC 10003 212-614-9653). Social Tees Animal Rescue (S.T.A.R.) is a non-profit, strictly no-kill 501c3 organization that takes abandoned animals from the kill shelters and provides them with a safe haven and veterinary care until they are placed in a proper home. As the economy worsens and city and state budget cuts deepen, public funding will decrease and animal shelters and rescue operations will depend even more on our donations. This year, skip the meaningless gift-giving and make a charitable donation in your friend's or family member's name. This holiday season, save a life. AND - remember that your donations are tax-deductible! (Photos courtesy of

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Or this?

Valerie says: While we are speaking about the holiday season, before the arrival of Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving, when some people schlep out to the mall at midnight to buy this year's equivalent of Tickle Me Elmo), we just want to say a word about buying gift cards, and that word is DON'T.

In this economy, if your friend is concerned about paying his (or her) electic bill, don't buy him (or her) a gift card at Christmas Trimmings, Inc. because you think it's important that your friend treat him/herself to a new tree ornament. In the photo above are the gift cards I received last year. Four of them still have money on them, so I have to keep carting them around till I can use them, and only at the places named on the cards (all of which are From Here to Eternity). The fifth, which I keep as a cautionary memento, has minus $14 on it because a clerk at a cash register scammed me. When I discovered this (while checking the balance of the card) the gift card company kindly said they wouldn't charge me for the scammed amount. I kindly refrained from laughing in their faces. (Above photo of avid H&M fans lining up on Fifth Avenue on a chilly November 19 evening 12 hours in advance for the H&M Lanvin line to go on sale.)

The stores where you buy the gift cards will LOVE you because they profit whether the cards are redeemed or not. Your friend, who continues to cart the cards around for a year looking for something to buy, will not love you nearly as much. Gift cards can't be returned - they can only be redeemed for products. Got an American Express gift card? Don't expect to pay your Amex bill with it. It's only good for products. So if you're not sure what to give your friend, there's a reason for the expression cash is king. It pays for groceries AND electricity AND gasoline AND your Amex bill AND this year's equivalent of Tickle Me Elmo (and it's so much more ecologically friendly than plastic).

Remember: friends don't let friends buy gift cards!

Jean says: Valerie's commentary bring out the little kid in me and reminds me of how much I loved getting a Christmas card from my Aunt Margie from Pennsylvania. Not just because it always contained currency, but because it was never a disapppointment. The amount didn't matter. It was what it was. There was no guesswork, no size or color or taste issues to deal with. REALLY. How many of you remember what a buzz-kill it was to get a fabulously wrapped present, only to rip off the ribbon and paper to find some thoughtful gift that was just so off the mark? Be honest, people, how many surprises turned out to be really fabulous? Cash gifts seldom disappoint. (Valerie says: YEAH!)

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Had our first visit from Tanzania this week! Way cool!


  1. Very cool blog and for some more Skull Rings you should check out;

  2. So many lovely items in your closets...I covet the cherries necklace, the clown pants and on and on.

    The bit about NOT giving gift cards has given me pause.

  3. I saw you ladies at the Pier Antiques show and wanted to say hi and that I thought you were rad but I was too shy, so I am saying it now!!

  4. Valerie says: Hi back, Rachel, and THANKS! Jean and I know exactly what it's like to be shy. We still have trouble approaching people too! Piece of advice: wear a GOOD hat. (Really!) A GOOD hat (and you see we're emphasizing GOOD - don't get a bad or silly hat) is as good a conversation piece as a puppy, with the added benefit that you don't have to feed it, and it's not forbidden by your building. :)

  5. Hello ladies! Remember me? I made my thrid post about my trip to NY, and you lovelies are in a few pictures:

  6. I agree with the gift card thing, they really aren't that exciting! Better to hand make something or really do some research and take a guess of what your gift recipient might like.