Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Day on the (Small) Town: Jean's Birthday

We recently celebrated those two preeminent, pre-Christmas retailing events -- Jean's birthday and "Small Business Saturday" -- by hopping the Metro North train at Grand Central to the village of Cold Spring, New York, about 50 miles north of Manhattan on the Hudson River.

We had barely left the train when we passed this mailbox. What a great opening gambit!

Main Street, the main shopping thoroughfare, was already decorated for the holidays. Having everything on one street simplified our approach: we went up the north side of the street and went down the south side, checking out all of the antique stores along the way.

Like many of the establishments, Cold Spring Antiques Center consisted of a number of booths with different vendors' merchandise.

Valerie found these terrific vintage knitted polka dot gloves in the very first shop we entered, right at the bottom of the hill on Main Street.

Says Valerie, who strenuously objected to having this picture taken, DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME! Nature did not intend us to wear open knit white cotton polka dot gloves with plush orange wool (particularly not if the gloves have a petite satin rose glued to them). This photo is only to show the gloves - not to show you what to wear them with.

Here's the town police station. Judging by its size and location, the crime rate appears to be quite low.

As lunchtime approached, we spied this chalkboard menu and both honed in on the scrumptious-sounding apple chestnut bisque.

So we ate at Brasserie Le Bouchon, the French restaurant in this beautiful building. The food was terrific. We both ordered the apple chestnut bisque which came with a deliciously crusty round loaf of french bread, and a glass of bubbly - an absolute must if we were to toast Jean's birthday in style.

Once we'd ordered lunch, it was time to show off our finds. Jean got a great pair of cream colored cotton gloves covered with short gray dashes.

She also found these fabulous black knit gauntlets which, if extended to their full length, stay black, but if folded over (as shown here), have red cuffs. The finishing touch for a red and black outfit! And just to rub it in, we should say that everything we found was very reasonably priced.

Valerie also found white cotton Lily Dache gauntlets for $25 (not shown), and hemmed and hawed over them until finally deciding that the pale streaks of dirt along the folds might not come out with washing. They might come out, but we have to ask ourselves the question: will I ever actually make time to do that? Will they sit untouched in my drawer forever? If the answers are no for the first and yes for the second, leave them for someone who will show them the tenderness they deserve.

Valerie, bubbly, and soup. ("But Grandma, what a big hand you appear to have in this photo!" "The better to drink bubbly with, my dear!"

Antique Alley.

The shiny stainless steel and bakelite Art Deco barware in the window in Antique Alley glistened in the sun.

Next time we visit, we have to try Cathryn's restaurant. You can see why we'd want to do that.

Valerie in front of Nelsonville Antiques at 81 Main Street.

As the sun started to set, it was time to sit down and take it easy after so much window shopping. We had almost an hour before the next train was due, so we stopped into The Foundry Cafe for latte and cappuccino.

Here is their memorable menu board.

What did Valerie give Jean, you ask? Was it this gorgeously sleek black Corvette Stingray, parked tauntingly right outside the cafe? Naaaaah.

What is in the box? You will never guess in a million years.

Hint (BIG hint): It's the soundtrack for "Qui etes-vous Polly Maggoo?" (Who are you Polly Maggoo?). See? Told ya that you'd never guess!

Poor Valerie. Fooled again! Polly Maggoo is one of the most lauded movies of the 1960s - at least from a fashion perspective - but it has stubbornly resisted commercial availability. The Metropolitan Museum of Art showed snippets of it in the '60s room of its huge fashion retrospective several years ago. It captures the zeitgeist so well.

Valerie did a little sleuthing on line, and finally found it. Or so she thought. When it came time to wrap the gift, on closer inspection she came to think she'd gotten the sound track, not the movie itself, and was shocked and crestfallen. And how do you check, without opening the wrapping? So it's back to the drawing board. If anyone knows how we can get hold of the movie - tape or DVD - do please let us know. SIGH.....

As we finished our coffees, we buttonholed a very sweet man with a huge camera and asked him to take a picture of the two of us with a small digital. Beware of large cameras. They lull you into thinking that the owner is a trained professional.

We caught the 5:02 pm train back to Grand Central and then stopped in Cipriani's on the mezzanine in the great hall for a celebratory cocktail.
Even though we'd had a glass of bubbly over lunch, when our train arrived, a night cap (well, evening cap) on a balcony overlooking Grand Central Station seemed like the only appropriate way to end to a birthday celebration.

We're getting good at cobbling together our own drinks from menus. We've decided we like pureed fruit, which adds texture to a drink. Jean asked the waiter if we could have the peach puree from one cocktail mixed with the tequila from another (and no ice!). This sounded so good to Valerie that she very unoriginally asked for the same. They were yummy!!!

One of the best things about Cipriani's space is that it overlooks the main floor (great for people-watching, cocktail in hand) and affords a bird's eye view of the astrological mural on the ceiling restored a few years ago.

And so the used number is traded in for a brand new number, with all the coming adventures that implies.

What we're wearing:
Jean is wearing an Ignatius fleece hat; High Use coat; W118 by Walter Baker slacks and Undergound creepers.

Valerie is wearing an orange felt hat stamped Glenover Henry Pollak Co., orange costume earrings from the flea market, Cashmink scarf, black sweater (mostly unseen) by the late great Charivari (but found at a second hand store), unlabeled jacket, Comme des Garcons pants, Arche ankle boots.  A wasp pin can just barely be seen on her hat.  We're hoping no entomologists read this and point out the inaccuracies.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

LAST CHANCE FOR THE NEXT 88 YEARS... Just a reminder for those of you who like interesting numbers: two weeks from today will be 12/12/12! This is the last of these fun numbers -- you know there won't be a 13/13/13 -- so plan now if you want to do something to commemorate the day.

Need another day to commemorate? Or looking for an excuse to celebrate something? December 5, 1933 is the date the 21st Amendment was ratified, bringing an end to Prohibition. 12/5/12 doesn't quite have the same ring to it as 12/12/12, but if you'd like to raise a glass in honor of the 21st Amendment, do you really care?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Fashion Advice 5 Cents - Pier Show Shenanigans

Doesn't everyone want to give advice? And wouldn't it be great if we could get paid for it, too?

For us, that dream came true at the latest Pier Antiques Show where, as you can see, we charged 5 cents for fashion advice. The marvelous manager of the Pier Show, Jeanne Stella (who managed by sheer dint of will to open the show despite the ravages of Hurricane Sandy), initially invited us to give people our 2 cents' worth (so to speak) for the fun of it, but after Hurricane Sandy hit this region so badly, Jeanne suggested - and we agreed - that the earnings should go to the American Red Cross.

Valerie thinks Jean (IF Jean) must have been a carnival barker in a former life since she corraled all and sundry to make donations, leaning as far out of our booth as possible. "We're raising money for the Red Cross", she called out, following up with "We figured at our age we'd get more people with a fashion advice booth than a kissing booth". This drew laughs, smiles, more than a few $5, $10 and $20 bills, and several sales of our book, Life Dressing: The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas (of which, by remarkable coincidence, we just happened to have several copies). Since the main purpose was to raise money, we mostly schmoozed and dispensed candy. We often provided more fashion validation than advice when an inquirer was already doing everything right. Between us and the second shift, we raised about $150 on each of the two days.

Jeanne Stella herself and Tim John were the second shift. This photo gives you a better idea of the booth itself, with a colorful Sonia Delaunay-style background. We spent several hours at the booth on Saturday and on Sunday, and Jeanne and Tim John took turns replacing us.

Here are just a smattering of the pictures we took, both on and off duty:

Not just pretty faces - Barney and Susan Bellinger also had a booth at the show. Military enthusiasts will know, even without seeing the spike atop Susan's headgear, that she is wearing an old German helmet.

Lynn Yeager stopped by to show off her J. Crew kid's backpack -- in navy blue glitter, no less.  Later, we saw her making the rounds with Hamish Bowles.

This woman found a Bes-Ben hat. Having spent many years in Chicago, the home of Bes-Ben, she was quite familiar with the brand. This one even came with its box. Hat lovers know that original hat boxes are far harder to find than the hats. (Boxes get thrown away to save space, which is also why so many hats get squished!)

Cathy Anderson is an absolutely super role model for wearers (and prospective wearers) of hats.

Cathy wore this terrific chapeau on Sunday.

Although it was our job was to give advice, we also received some. Best advice we got? Helen Uffner showed us how she codes her various pairs of glasses, so she knows which is which at a glance. See the three dots she's applied with red nail polish? Do you have several pairs of glasses of different strengths or different glasses for distance and reading? Apply your own color coding!

At Sunset Boulevard, the booth right in front of our advice booth, a woman tried on this very daring dress.

These two women didn't need any fashion advice from us. Friends since childhood, they told us they'd gone to a talk featuring someone on a very well known TV fashion advice program. Afterward,  when they asked why the program didn't feature more women of a certain age, the program host's answer was: "I tried and tried to get the producers to feature older people, but they just weren't interested." Sigh...

Gordon Simpson, owner of Anartist, wore this fabulous polka dotted plastic art piece by avant garde artist Enrico Baj.

We fell in love with this child's chair at Darwin Bearley's booth, designed with as much love and thought as one would give an adult's chair. Doesn't it look like it was built for speed?

Some of the old Merry Go Round figures were breathtaking. It's wonderful that this carved and painted carousel ostrich was saved from the march of progress.

Sandi Berman of Deluxe, seen here in her booth, designed the black corduroy overalls she's wearing. It's hard to see in the photo, but the straps are two slim corduroy cords - much sexier looking than a single broad flat strap. Sandi said putting the booth together is hard work, so she came up with the idea for the overalls as a way to get the work done while still looking chic. Sandi was also wearing fabulous glasses, which we would have loved to show you. And check out her silver link necklace.

D. Brett Benson had this marvelous scottie dog bag by Emmanuelle Kahnh. And a great salesman, Kevin, who could win the annual Hemingway Look-Alike Contest. (We're saving his picture for our next great gray hair feature.)

Some of the people who came to our booth were just stopping by to chat, and didn't need any fashion advice. We might have to repeat this woman's photo at the same time we run Kevin's.

Everyone does have his or her own style.  Some outfits just make stronger statements!

Here are Lee and Vichai Chinalai at their booth.

Sandy Long and her friend Tucker Robbins made an appearance.

Loved the red boots on this woman trying on a monkey fur jacket from What Once Was.

This merry trio stopped by our booth for directions. The lady on the left had just purchased her gorgeous hand knit long sweater from one of the show's vendors.

In from Ohio for the show, Mo models one of several hats she tried that day. Check out her earrings made from ladies' garters.

Valerie scored these stylish black and white leather gloves from Gandia-Todd Antiques from Williamsville, VT.

Jean purchased this spiked off-white bakelite necklace from Sheila Strong at Fool's Gold.   She couldn't resist showing it off to Jeanne Stella.

Isn't this a dapper gent?

Here we are on Day Two reporting for duty!

This couple wore vintage. Don't you love the pillow she's holding?

Julius (left) and his friend also stopped by to say hi.

Bob Richter (PBS Market Warrior) and his pal came over to chat.

Filippo Gurrieri and Pervis Ross of Sunset Boulevard.

The ever fabulous Zondra Foxx.

The one that got away. Valerie tried on this terrific silver necklace with fish and shelled sea creatures at Audrey Flaschner Antiques.

On Sunday, Kirsten Hawthorne paid us a visit.

Check out the adorable "Goldliocks and the Three Bears" quilt from Carol Weiss' booth.  Carol pointed out that the bears on the quilt look a bit threatening, unlike bears of today, made to smile in a most un-bear-like manner.

These two hilarious items appeared in MTV's claymation productions and were for sale by Seaver McLellan Antiques from Jaffrey, NH.

One of our favorite pieces is this graphic 1930's wooden beaded bag with celluloid frame from Karen McWharter.

What we're wearing
Jean is wearing a vintage red felt hat purchased last year from Stacy LoAlbo of Incogneeto; Anne Klein silk jacket; W118 by Walter Baker slacks; Trippen boots;  vintage bakelite bangles, earrings and rings.

Valerie is wearing an unlabeled red feather hat; red celluloid earrings; Pleats Please shirt; Sonia Rykiel suit; red leather brooch by Tereza Symon's mom; felt bracelet by O-Matic,;red wood bracelet from Tokyo; sandals by Nicole.

Jean is wearing a vintage Donna Karan New York by Maeve Carr black felted wool hat; Norma Kamali black & brown striped top; Costume National pants; Pataugus Mary Janes; vintage silver metal globe necklace and vintage aluminum and marble earrings.

Valerie is wearing a two-toned blue velvet hat bought the previous day, labeled Mr. Arnold Lord & Taylor (feather added by Valerie, hat worn sideways); vintage earrings from Etsy with blue dot stickers from Staples; scarf by Plantation; jacket by Gloria Sachs; '80s silver cuff; contemporary base metal cuff; Issey Miyake pants; shoes by Arche.