Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Play with Your Clothes: Pocket Change


Jean is away, so Valerie, left to her own devices, writes:

I bought myself a Muji raincoat (above) for under $20 at the Museum of Modern Art.

Let me explain.

I had this really cool slicker (purchased for about 1/10th the retail price still attached to it) that I loved because it reminded me of the '60s, was REALLY waterproof (not just water resistant - who came up with that?), and had this wonderful funnel neck that I could hide out in. That's it in the photo below. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a bad choice because even though it was a size large I couldn't fit a coat under it. So it was cold in the cold weather as well as sweaty in the hot weather. You can imagine what happened in the rain with the funnel neck. (Please don't say 'umbrella'. I like to keep both hands free.) And because it just barely passed my knees, any rain that rolled off the raincoat ran smack into my pants, so by the time I got to work, my pants appeared to be ombred, to use the current lingo. (Lighter on top, darker where the rain had hit them.) And to add insult to injury, the pockets were cut on the diagonal and had no flaps, so anything I put in those pockets (like my glasses) got wet.

So I went out hunting for a big, lightweight, full length, waterproof raincoat with bat wing sleeves that I could fit a coat under, and came up with the Muji raincoat. It comes with a wonderful flat square bag that you can fold it up into, plus a detachable hood.

Only problem was, as you can see, there was no pocket on the right side.

And no pocket on the left side.

So I made a pocket.

Here's the "after" coat, with pocket in place.

Here's a full view of the new improved coat. You can see the lines where it was folded in its pouch of the same material.

Above is what you need to make a pocket. From left to right: a smooth flat plastic or glass surface (the larger the better - I had to make do with two rulers), a very thin plastic sheet from which to cut the lining of the pocket (a recycled plastic bag will work nicely), red masking tape for the outside of the pocket (any color will do, but isn't red best?), regular tape to help hold down the lining while you attach the pocket to it, a box cutter for precision cutting and a scissor for basic cutting. Make the plastic bag lining 1/4 - 1/2 inch smaller than the pocket on the left, right and bottom edges so the pocket can adhere to the coat. I made the pocket about 2.5 widths of masking tape, so I had to overlap them just a bit. Be careful not to lay the pocket completely flush with the coat surface, or the only thing that will fit in there will be a credit card. Make small gathers at the base of the pocket to give it some ease. (My mother would have gathered the pocket with perfect symmetry all across the bottom, but it would have taken her an hour to do everything. I did this whole project - except for the photographs - in fifteen minutes. My mother would be shocked to see the haphazard pocket her daughter made.) I put the pocket on my left, since I'm right handed, inside to keep the contents dry, and at waist height because I plan to put my glasses in it. I figured if I put it at chest height, or hip height, and then get in a crowded elevator, I might smash my glasses. They have a better chance of surviving impact at my waist!

Oh, to complete the look, you need a pair of edgy Sou Sou tabi boots from Kyoto (by way of San Francisco and then a New York resale shop). (See the sliding metal tab/buttons at the back?)

And of course you need a hat. (In this case, a vintage red mouton hat labeled Granite State Toy Co. Be sure to put your hood up.)

(Earrings from Jean's mom; top from H&M; gloves from Century 21; pants by Betsey Johnson.)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Jean's Excellent Palm Beach Adventure

On the Friday morning before the inauguration, as temperatures in the northeast were about to plummet to record breaking lows, Jean left Valerie behind and headed south to spend five days in Palm Beach Gardens with five college friends. Sweet!   It was very therapeutic to see girlfriends who have known each other since 1967. After 46 years, we have no secrets!  Stick around as I spill the beans on our adventures. (Click on photos to enlarge!)

Three of us arrived at Palm Beach International Airport from Newark Liberty Airport and had to wait for the other three's delayed flight to arrive from Philadelphia. While we were waiting, I noticed this great looking pair of women walking right toward me. Both ladies are named Carol and are from Toronto (how easy is that to remember!). The lady on the left recognized me and stopped to tell me how much she liked the blog and that she had a copy of Life Dressing, Joana Avillez' book of illustrations of me and Valerie. She also pointed out her Trippen boots (as if I hadn't already spotted them when she was 40 yards away!) and her terrific black trapeze top by Sympli. They promised to stay in touch and look us up when they come to New York City next year. Getting recognized in public? A terrific thrill.  Having it happen in front of my friends? Priceless!

Rogues' gallery: Mary Joy (our hostess), Ginny, Rosemary, Peggy with Elaine (above) and Jean (below). When we get together, we pick up right where we left off. We even finish each other's sentences. It dawned on me half way through the weekend that this is where I picked up my terrible habit of interrupting -- from this quintet. We interrupt each other all the time, and just keep talking over each other.

On Saturday, because rain was forecast, we flip-flopped our plans, decided to spend the day at inside events and made a bee-line to the West Palm Beach Antiques Show. It was a real treat to see a familiar face -- Adrienne Astrologo of  Lady Bay International.  She's in Florida for three months but will be back in New York City in time for the Pier Show in March.  To see Adrienne in action and view some of her many amazing handbags, check out her YouTube video:

Rosemary and Elaine scouted out D. Brett Benson's booth which had bakelite jewelry and this amazing Oleg Cassini feathered hat.

I just had to try it on. Here's a closeup which gives a better view of the detailing.  In a later post, I will wear the beautiful 1950's black satin and horsehair Oleg Cassini cocktail hat gifted to me on the trip by Rosemary, so stay tuned.

I met these two dapper gents in the Howard Price Fine Arts booth. (The eponymous Mr. Price is the one on the left.)  For more information on Howard Price Fine Art Panama City, Panama, click on the link:

The gentleman on the right (above) was kind enough to show me the bracelets fashioned out of silver and Anasazi pottery shards. Each one is different and wonderfully graphic.  (Valerie covets these!!!)

After the antique show, we drove to Pompano Beach to the indoor flea market on West Sample Street. It was huge and featured booths with everything from consignment and vintage outfits, to furniture, watches, clothing, shoes and health and beauty aids. We ate dinner at Spoto's, famous for its oysters. Ginny and Rosemary posed for a shot.

Mary Joy and Ginny -- and the oysters!

Elaine and I were roommates in our freshman year.

On Sunday morning, the sun came out, so we went to downtown Palm Beach, to Testa's, for brunch. Left to right: Ginny, Peggy and Mary Joy.

My inner celebrity beeper was going off like a siren in my head.  Suddenly, over Peggy's shoulder, I spotted writer Joan Didion at the next table!  She looked great. An author in her own right, she was the wife of screenwriter and critic John Gregory Dunne and sister-in-law of writer and investigative journalist Dominick Dunne.  Joan and John co-wrote the script for the film The Panic in Needle Park, produced by Dominick, which starred Al Pacino.  Joan was sporting the classic straw brimmed hat favored by many of the Palm Beach ladies of a certain age.

Elaine and Rosemary and I got into the act.

Our next stop was Whitehall, the Beaux Arts mansion that houses the Flagler Museum. Mary Joy, Elaine, Rosemary, Peggy and Ginny paused outside before going in for our docent tour.

Although our day-to-day styles are very different because of where we live and our occupations, because we were traveling in Florida in high season, everyone (even I) opted for color!

It didn't occur to me until I was home and editing my photos that I should have documented everyone's footwear. (Double duh!) Daywear shoes ranged from Mary Joy's chic Chanel flats to my black and white creepers. However, in the evening, half of the group actually opted for heels (Rosemary, Ginny and Mary Joy). I'm making a mental note to cover this in depth next time.

Now, on to the museum tour!

Built by Henry Flagler for his third wife (don't raise your eyebrows - he outlived the first two), Whitehall was amazingly constructed in only 18 months! Here is the grand staircase in the entrance hall. The tall columns are made of Vermont marble.

Here is the view if you look up. What appear to be frescoes are paintings on canvas affixed to the ceiling. These design innovations helped speed construction.

Flanked by a pair of Sphinx, Peggy takes a break on one of the benches in front of the main staircase.

Henry Morrison Flagler was a friend of John D. Rockefeller and both made their first fortunes from Standard Oil. Henry Flagler eventually built a railroad that ran the entire length of the state of Florida, from Jacksonville to Key West. At the time he started, southern Florida was very sparsely populated, so the railroad spurred population growth up and down its length. Unfortunately, a hurricane in 1935 devastated the tracks and it was never fully rebuilt.

The ballroom reflects the opulence of the era.

Although it was built rather quickly, there was no skimping on the detail work as evidenced by the flooring in one of the dining rooms.

Likewise, the ceilings were also ornate. What looks like wood is actually plaster painted to look like oak.

This coffered ceiling is in a hallway just off the billiard room.

In the center of the building are a courtyard and fountain fashioned after one in Florence, Italy.

The Marie Antoinette bedroom was one of our favorite rooms on the tour. Check out the ceiling and her portrait over the mantle.

We loved the flowered lampshades in that light and airy bedroom.

Separate from the mansion is a lovely skylit building that houses the Beaux Arts Cafe and Henry Flagler's private rail car.

This Tiffany clock graces the entryway. A number of Louis Comfort Tiffany pieces are in the main house.

Flagler's railroad car #91 has been restored and is open to the public.

I'm channeling my inner Eva Peron, from the observation deck.

Here is the sitting room. Note the tiny transom windows which provide additional light and ventilation.

In this room, sleeping berths fold up out of the way during the day. The Flaglers had their own separate bedroom and bathroom, equipped with a state-of-the-art "needle point shower" lined with perforated copper tubing so that the heated water shot out in tiny jets.

Sunday was just chock full of fun. From Whitehall, we headed to the Breakers, another of Flagler's Beaux Arts buildings, which was designed and constructed as a hotel. Guests who arrived by train went to the beach or "the breakers", so the name eventually changed from the Palm Beach Inn to the Breakers. Not exactly your Motel 6.

At the rear of the building beyond the patio are the beachfront and the sea wall.

In the Breakers' Seafood Bar, we had a lovely large round table facing the ocean. I love this photo of Virginia.

Rosemary, Mary Joy and Elaine.

Ginny and Peggy are my bookends.

We spent the rest of the time hanging out in Palm Beach Gardens, cooking and eating; watching the inauguration on TV; hanging by the pool or (my personal favorite) sitting in the jacuzzi. It was hard to say goodbye to the warm weather, palm trees and flowers and head north. Needless to say, it was a rude awakening when the pilot announced before we landed in Newark that it was only 16 degrees! Brrr.  For those of you who stuck it out to the end of this story, I do hope you enjoyed the journey!