Wednesday, May 22, 2013

In Which the Idiosyncratic Fashionistas Bib + Tuck

Bib + Tuck, an innovative website that eschews the usual pay-for-it model, and instead advocates the barter of what-you-have for what-you-want, sent us an offer we couldn't refuse. How would you like, they asked us, to put some of your clothes on our website for barter, and have us do a video feature on you?

Well! How could we say no?!

We each gathered together five things that we love, but have had to give up wearing, to see what Bib + Tuck would do with them. The folks at Bib + Tuck (their unique way of expressing Give + Take) had a fun assignment for us and our things: take them to a shop where we could pair our items with other fun and fashionable clothes and accessories to show them off to best advantage.

So in late April, Bib + Tuck snagged us visits to two of our favorite Soho/Nolita vintage shops: Amarcord and Marmalade, and off we went with our goodies.

To give you a taste of what happened next, have a look at the Bib + Tuck video. (We've made it small to fit our website, so when it opens, hit the little four cornered box at bottom right of the You Tube picture. That will give you a full screen view.)

Back to our story!

When we arrived at Amarcord, Bib + Tuck co-founder Sari Bibliowicz had an additional surprise for us: she asked each of us to style her with clothes from the shop - first an evening look and then a day-time look. What a great idea!

Here, Jean surveys the territory as we plan our course of attack.

Jean selected this red 1980's silk dress. She matched it up with a pair of shoes she brought for Bib-bing - size 7 Donna Karan black velvet high heeled booties (which Jean refers to as SIOWO -- Shoes I Only Wore Once) as well as black bangle bracelets, glass beaded necklaces, and plexi-glass sunglasses, all from Amarcord. We all agreed that sheer black stockings would put the finishing touches on the outfit.

Valerie pulled together this terrific daytime look, using a black 1980's Betsey Johnson strapless knit jumpsuit and a black nipped waist 3/4 sleeve Norma Kamali jacket. For accessories, she added a yellow glass bead necklace, yellow glass earrings, woven yellow, red and aqua knit belt, yellow and multi-color French (non-vintage) bakelite bangles, topped off (ok, bottomed off) with Jean's black Walter Steiger pointy-toe, kitten heel flat booties (also SIOWO). These are among the items Jean is Bib-bing, and let us mention here that most of our BIBS are already up on the Bib + Tuck website. Finding a hat to finish off this particular outfit turned out to be challenging. Valerie showed Sari this vintage purple hat as an example of a good shape for Sari and for the outfit (post-photo we placed it at a much more rakish angle, closer to the eyebrow), but the color was not a good match for the red and yellow already in play. What to do?!

Jean to the rescue! Change of plans! Keeping the base layer intact, Jean lent Sari her own red Amy Downs turban and round bakelite earrings. Valerie added low red leather heels and a red leather belt from Amarcord's display, then turned up the collar to frame Sari's face and complete the look. What great luck that all these shoes just happened to fit Sari.

To the same black jumpsuit and red shoes with Jean's red turban and earrings, we added a red, pink and black 1950s print bolero jacket and black, white and red bangle bracelets from Amarcord's racks and vitrines. Total time elapsed from one look to the next: about two minutes. See how quickly you can change direction?

The three of us posed for a final photo to memorialize our handiwork. This was truly a first for us, since we'd never had a -um - victim (other than each other) to style before. Like cats that ate canaries, we were quite please with ourselves. Of course, it always helps when you have a beautiful size "0" to size "2" victim and a resource like Amarcord's racks from which to select such dynamite vintage pieces! So now can we add stylist to our resume?

We have to give loads of kudos to Amarcord's Ashley, who knows her inventory inside out, and was wonderful to work with. She had to be three places at once while we invaded the store with the Bib + Tuck crew. How did she manage that, and with such aplomb?!

Our next stop was Marmalade on Mott and Grand Streets. Owner Hannah Kurland was a wonderful hostess, letting us comb her racks and try on clothes with abandon. Here, Sari models the pink and white hand painted cotton-lined silk dress that Valerie brought for Bib-bing, paired with vintage pink wooden mules from Marmalade.

To change it up, we added a chunky bone-colored necklace and white shawl from Marmalade's eclectic stock for a very light and airy look. The dress is cut on the bias, a la Madame Vionnet, so it's floaty yet clingy at the same time.

Then, changing the look entirely, we tried a red hooded shawl for a much more exotic vibe.

Want to see the dress at its new online home? Click here.

Valerie brought a lightweight double layered (black on the outside and white on the inside) Italian knit turtle neck sweater for Bib-bing. 'Buttons' and 'cuffs' are part of the knit design. She matched the sweater with a variety of boots she went wide-eyed over. These ranged from graphic black and white giraffe print booties and silvery grey slip-ons to (quick, fetch the smelling salts!) Maud Frizon nylon mesh cap-toed boots. Again, the seemingly endless selection at Marmalade made this exercise enormously enjoyable.

Jean found this absolutely stunning Norma Kamali snap front batwing coat/cape with leatherette trim.  Look carefully and you can see a large round 'hole' carefully cut out and sewn up under each arm.

Both of us in Norma Kamali. We gravitate toward her instinctively, without even looking at the label. Valerie's elbow-length tie-up felt cuffs, which she's Bib-bing (you really need an extra pair of hands in the house to tie them up correctly), are from DKNY.

It's a first! Until we went to Marmalade, Valerie had never seen Jean in a red jacket. Meanwhile, Jean was too busy talking about her second pair of Walter Steiger SIOWO pointy-toed booties.

Valerie selected these fingerless gloves for Bib-bing. The text on them - I LOVE on one and I HATE on the other, is fabulous! (Makes you think of Robert Mitchum in the noir classic Night of the Hunter.) But by the time Valerie needs gloves, they need to cover the whole hand, and not just the palms and knuckles. She matched the taupe color of the gloves with one of the colors in this multicolored sweater/coat.

Just before we left, we spied a light straw Sally Victor hat on one of the mannequins. Neither of us could resist trying it on for size.

Wouldn't it look great with a white suit?

When all the hard work was done, we sat down for the interview that's excerpted at the top of this post.

Before leaving, Valerie took a picture of the whole crew: Jean, Sari, Hannah, the very patient and very helpful owner of Marmalade, Ilana Savdie, also of Bib + Tuck, who conducted the interview, Tyler, the able and helpful Bib + Tuck intern, Sarah, who put together our fabulous video, and a gorgeous visitor/stylist.

After handing off our items to Sari and her able colleagues to Bib for us, we quickly departed and headed to the Bowery Diner to collect our thoughts and relax in the late afternoon sun with a couple of aptly named tequila-based "Sunshine on my Shoulder" cocktails! Hasta la vista, Bib + Tuck, and thank you for a lovely day!

Wanna visit? Amarcord is at 252 Lafayette Street and Marmalade is at 174 Mott Street.

Ilana sent us an email to let us know we were also featured in the web version of Paper magazine!

Wanna see some of the other stuff we Bibbed?

Like Jean's gold claw earrings?

Or Valerie's natural straw Clergerie platform sandals?

What about Jean's black elastic booties?


  1. I love being the first to comment! Bib & Tuck is the best name ever, and I have requested an invite to join the site. This sounds like such a fun adventure that encouraged closet purging and out-of-comfort zone styling - how cool. Also, you are both wearing giant, fabulous pants that scream "AWESOME POSSUM!" (well, they would, if they could talk)

  2. Bib + Tuck is an amazing website! I have been using it for a month or two and have been able to Tuck some really great pieces so far. Love the video!

  3. I've just begun to investigate online bartering systems because as States line up to start charging local and state taxes for online sales, barter seems like the perfect solution. As usual, reporting by the IFs is fantastic! And, as usual, you are both impeccably groomed!

  4. Yes, the two of you are stylists! There was never any doubt. This was an amazing story and I'm off to visit the Bib & Tuck site.

  5. Glad to have found you via Polymer Clay Daily, of all things! I am a jewelry designer and most of my best clients are "women of a certain age" and they sure do know their style! I think you can only wear truly outrageous jewelry when you gain some gravitas. I'll be perusing your blog archive for sure.

  6. You Ladies are always an inspiration. Thank you !