I've been meaning to write this post for a good two (going on three) weeks now, but since we returned from our New York/DC trip things have been, well a little busy at work and on the book front. That said, I had such a fantastic time blowing my clothing budget in Brooklyn that I wanted to share. So better late than never yes?
I have to say, aside from a truly awesome pair of cherry red flamenco shoes, I didn't find much in New York that I was aching to buy. And while that probably sounds entirely ridiculous, let me qualify that by saying I saw plenty that I would love to buy in Soho, I can't really afford the prices shall we say. And while the discount shopping at Century 21 and the like was definitely something to experience, I can't say it was really my bag. This shouldn't be too surprising really, as my shopping tends to be at small boutiques here at home with a pretty strong bias towards locally made clothing and artisan bits and bobs. So it was that on our last day in NY we took the subway over to Brooklyn to check out the Botanical Gardens and avoid the mayhem that was Manhattan on a long weekend.
Now, I like to think of myself as a bit of a counter culture, consumption wary gal, but when it comes down to it: I can shop. And, to be totally honest with you, as we took that subway over, I was looking forward to the Botanical Gardens but feeling just a little wistful that I'd be returning home from NY with not much more than a pair of flamenco shoes to add to my closet. We had mapped out a few boutiques we wanted to check out in Brooklyn, and as we emerged from the Subway we decided to check those out before heading to the Gardens. Long story short: we never made it to the Botanical Gardens and I completely blew my budget inside of about 4 hours of what can only be described as a hardcore rush of giddy consumer insanity. We did not come anywhere close to taking stock of all that Park Slope had to offer in the way of boutiques and delights, so this is by no means a definitive guide. But, if you find yourself in Brooklyn (or near it) and you, like me, love boutique shopping let this guide be your starting point.
Loom: There are two Looms on 7th Ave. One is stocked to the rafters with knitwear -- James Perse, Splendid, Ella Moss, etc. -- the other, just a few doors down is full of accessories (purses, earings, necklaces, wallets, rings), stationary and other general cuteness. I picked up an Orla Kiely wallet and a very lovely little black clutch here, both of which I'm adoring.
Kiwi: Usually I'm not a pushy salesperson type at all, and don't get me wrong, Kiwi does not have pushy sales people. What it does have is really knowledgeable, helpful staff who know the store's stock like the back of their hands. We spent hours (no word of an exaggeration) in here being waited on by the staff, an experience I've never really had save shopping at Anthropologie with Alex and which I wouldn't have thought I'd love so much. Our experience at Kiwi began when I told the sales girl I was looking for pants in my size. She suggested I try on a pair that I liked so she could see how pants fit me and then from there just began bringing me things that I never would have tried on my own either because I would have assumed they would look bad on me (wrong!) or due to sizing (women's clothes are so messed up sizing wise and in one brand I can be a XS and a M in another). By the time we were done Lauren and I had tried on dozens of beautiful things: jeans, dresses, silk tops, tanks, tshirts, pants, capris, shoes, and on and on. We were honestly a bit stressed out by the time we had to make a final choice and if money were no object I could have easily decided to discard my entire wardrobe at home and started over. For real.
The clothes at Kiwi are pretty Anthropologie-ish I would say (if that's a thing, but I think you all know what I mean) and they also carry some house-line pieces designed by one of the owners.
Lisa Polanski's: I poked my head into Lisa Polanski's store while waiting for Lauren to finish up at Kiwi. Honestly, given the exterior I did not expect what I found. The shop feeling a bit like going into the backroom of a store, overflowing with shoes, clothes and boxes and despite being a pretty long and narrow store you can only fit about 4 people in it at a time (if you're willing to be very friendly). Lisa however has an incredible selection of what I'll call fashion comfort shoes -- Joseph Seibels, clogs, Terra Plana, Clarks, Privos, etc -- at crazy discounts. And she's got a pretty decent stock collection too. Lisa is also a treat to talk to -- definitely not a part of the gentrification of Park Slope.
Hopping from 7th Ave to 5th:
Eidolon: Eidolon is owned and staffed by women who design and make most of the wares it sells. I picked up a great pair of shoes here (not made by the owners) and Lauren tried on some gorgeous dresses here. By this point I was getting a bit freaked out by the fact that I had bought so much stuff my bag was becoming too heavy to carry, so I cooled it a bit on the browsing.
Flirt: Flirt is also an owner/designer coop kind of a place, though they also sell things not made in-house. We ended up at Flirt after asking a woman in Kiwi where she got the awesome skirt she was wearing. Their website describes the philosophy of the business thusly: "As artists ourselves we always wanted Flirt to be a place for women like us: creative, individualistic, unpredictable, and up for anything!" I'd say that definitely comes through, and we had a great time chatting with one of the owners about the struggles and rewards of running your own show. Flirt has also started up Home Ec classes where they teach basic sewing techniques that look like tonnes of fun.
Cog & Pearl: Ok, by the time we hit Cog and Pearl I was nearly done for. For real. Take a quick look at their website and you'll see what I mean. Cog and Pearl is like an artisan art gallery filled with gorgeous handmade jewelry, pieces of art, books, ceramics and more all which are for sale. That's right: you can take them home with you. If we had started here I would surely have spent hundreds of dollars here. As it was I was freaking out that soon VISA may give me a call out of suspicion of a stolen card on the loose at wee little shops in Brooklyn. I did pick up a ring and a pair of awesome earrings which deserve their own post.
Beata, the woman behind Rose Hip Designs, has got to be one of the loveliest gals I know. I've had the great pleasure of meeting her in person at my local farmer's market, and often run into her at my favourite local crafty events. In addition to being an all around delightful person, she's also as talented as all get-out. I always pour over her table trying to restrain myself from buying my darling god-daughter one of each of her gorgeous dresses, skirts and general kids clothes, and telling myself that I really don't need another bag/pillow/what-have you. This Christmas, however, when I saw her babushka dolls I could not resist. Could you? Really? (This photo here is very similar to the little gal I now have hanging by my desk). Beata has finally opened herself up an Etsy store today (I've been wishing she would do this for ages so others not able to make our East Van Farmer's Market could partake in her lovelies) and it looks like I'm not her only fan. I just checked and 49 of her 60 babushkas are already gone, so get yours quick! I'm trying to decide between these two friends for my gal.
If you spend much time with Alex she will bring you under her Anthropologie spell. In particular, her success at scoring the Anthro sale racks. Perhaps the best testament to this is that while visiting Seattle briefly last weekend we managed to run into Felicia (someone we met through Alex) in the sale rack, browsing the same racks. I was on a budget, but had my heart set on getting something that I could wear to our book launch party in the Spring. While I know it's ages away, I also know the time between now and then will whiz by, and frankly there are so many other things to do to prepare for that event, that knowing I have an outfit in my closet seems like a good thing to tick off the list. Not only did I get a lovely chocolate brown french party dress for $60, Lauren also spied these gold shoes on the sale rack which were (saldy for her) in my size. And 50% off. The whole ensemble makes me feel like I'm a little girl playing dress-up (in a good way), I think largely because I used to have a pair of gold, very sparkly shoes in my dress up box that had once belonged to my Nana. I adored those shoes in all their 10 sizes too big for me splendour and there's something about these that transports me back to those days of fantasy. Now, in addition to all the other planning that needs to be done, I'll just need to be sure to get a pedicure before the party.
Marimekko has always made me think of my darling childhood friend Kate. I think it must be that the nostalgia hit those big over sized prints give me takes me right back to the early days of our friendship circa 78 when running around in terry cloth shorts and polyester t-shirts that exposed our little toddler bellies was de rigeuer. Kate and her family are currently visiting the west coast from Montreal and are in fact staying with us for a week right now (after a visit with her folks for Christmas). Somewhere between the rush of Christmas and the mild chaos of a three year old and a three month old (part of her entourage) we didn't manage to exchange Christmas gifts with one another until last night. She and her partner Adrian gave us this awesome Marimekko tray which Martin is trying to claim as his own (he does this will all things red). It's my first official piece of Marimekko, despite much oggling when we were in Denmark, and it has inspired me to try to take Kate to the new concept store they opened last Fall here in Vancouver. I'm giddy at the thought of the store, as another friend -- Ariane -- described it to me just last night (in a weirdly prescient Marimekko moment) and I'm sure I'll be as overwhelmed as she was by all the yummy fabrics and awesome prints... Oh the anticipation!
My mom has a dear longtime friend who, over the years, has been known to go into a bit of credit card debt here and there. Often paying off her Visa with her Mastercard, she would let these things run away from her for a while and then take drastic measures to pull it all back under control. Tried and true strategies like freezing your credit card in a glass of water, or having other people "babysit" it for a while until the bills are paid off. These days that kind of strategy doesn't work so well. I rarely pull out my credit card when making impulse purchases, as I make most of those online and I know the numbers off by heart. Danger Bay.
My latest transgression: fabric on Ebay. Who knew!? I had hear rumours of course, but last Sunday night I went on a hunt for a particular colourway of an older Amy Butler print that I wanted to make some of the holiday gifts on my list. I started with the usual online retailers -- ReproDepot and Purl Soho -- but when they didn't turn up what I was looking for I thought "what the heck, why not try Ebay". OMFG. Seriously. The fabric! The options! The colourways I thought were gone! And. Right now the Canadian dollar is kind of trouncing the US buck and that meant a potential wealth of savings. The more I bought, the more I could potentially save! So compelling. I held back to only 4 yards (with combined shipping of $3 no less), but I'll admit I'm starting to get a bit itchy for more. Then, I go and read at Hilary's blog this week that she's been buying Japanese fabrics from Etsy and now I think I may need to see if the bank will change my credit card number so I can bury it in the garden until next spring and safely refrain from getting in over my head.
I have a thing for clogs. I love them. They're comfy. I love the look of them, the sound of them on wood floor and I adore the many variations on the basic form. Like this one here. How great is this? I was looking for a new pair of clogs as a possible birthday treat and stumbled upon these. I am now fixated. Sadly, they do not ship to Canada, and buying shoes on line is risky enough without introducing additional shipping nuttiness. But still. So pretty! Also, it's November. In Vancouver. These are not Vancouver November shoes. They are, however, great shoes to day dream about on rainy days.
Time to order calendars for next year, and like most years I'm overwhelmed with the awesome choices the interweb offers. (I don't even bother looking at calendars in real life any more, knowing that I'll have a hard enough time choosing online). So far I've already ordered a Camilla Engman one (for the office) and I may need to have the Diana Fayt one again is looks so very charming in the kitchen. (Plus since I can't afford a Diana Fayt bowl this is my second runner up). Port to Port Press is putting out a calendar soon, and a quick search on Esty shows so many awesome options.
The new Ikea catalogue arrived on my doorstep yesterday morning, just in time for back patio coffee and browsing. Given how adverse to doing much more in the way of major renos to our house I currently am, I found myself focusing on wee details. Things like pots and lamp shades. Mirrors and bedding. Green seems to be the colour of 2008 for Ikea (as I know it is all over the darn place) and I was particularly thrilled to see their enamel cast iron pots are now available in green, which may just tip me in the direction of getting one in time for winter. I'm also lusting after a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, and hoping to get one in time for holiday baking. I've always been quite happy to live with my Cuisinart (though it's a smallish one), blender and electric beaters, but after spending two different afternoons baking over at Melanie's place I'm convinced that a Kitchen Aid is where it's at. Practically, I know that anyone colour is as good as the next but I must say a red one sure would look lovely with our red floors. And if you can't be so indulgent as to match your appliances with your floor, then what's the point right? Ha. Anyway, as soon as Felicia declared her intentions toward one I figured I wasn't alone in lusting after it's shiny red goodness.