Saturday, March 10, 2012

Nostalgia Through Clothing

I'M IN THE MIDST of unpacking the mess I made after packing up my Brooklyn apartment and repacking it all into two TSA measurement-approved suitcases for a move across the country to Los Angeles. In an attempt to streamline my wardrobe, I have begun categorizing everything into three piles: take, save and take later, and give away. At the moment, the take pile is a towering mound of textiles, the take later pile is substantial, and the give away pile consists of several measly scraps that are either stained or completely ridiculous (see: 1970s psychedelic maxi dress of questionable origin with bell sleeves that is three sizes too small for me.) I've been playing tug of war between the give away and take piles, where I convince myself I absolutely must keep the vintage Lacoste dress (remainder from my Margot Tenenbaum phase) and the heart-print flippy mini skirt that I wore when I was backpacking through Europe. A pink and purple striped scarf that I purchased in my first month of living in Glasgow tugs at my heartstrings and screams "If you dispose of me, the memory of that time will be gone forever." And you know what? That frightens me. It frightens me so much that it has turned me into a clothing hoarder, staring down a closet of memories rather than garments which reflect the person I am today.
What's a girl to do? I'll probably never wear that dress I bought at a flea market in Paris for an astonishingly low price (I surprised myself with my bargaining skills in French,) the vintage size 26 Levi's that will probably never fit me again, no matter how much yoga I do, the dress I wore to city hall when everything seemed so much clearer, neater, and perfect somehow. How can I dispose of the ghosts of my wardrobes past without disposing of everything they symbolize?
Currently taking suggestions. Until then you can find me buried under piles of fabric.

Friday, January 27, 2012

What's That One About The Road Not Taken Again?

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 10
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back. 15
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Room With a View: Parts 1-6

I'VE LIVED AT fifteen different addresses between two continents in my 31 years. With each move I changed, grew, and learned some amazing life lessons.

1. 28 Island Street, Plainview NY 11803
This is the house I spent my childhood in. A wee house in the suburbs where I spent hazy summer days chasing after the ice cream man in my swimsuit, barefoot and still wet from the sprinklers. My best friend was a mentally disabled boy who lived across the street named Stevie. I stuck up for him when everyone else teased him. He had a Nintendo before me and taught me all of the tricks for Zelda and Super Mario Brothers. This is the house where my parents sat my sister and I down and told us they were getting a divorce. My father left a care bear on my bed the night he left.

Lesson Learned: Always be kind and see the best in people. Stuffed bears do not make up for poor parenting.

2. 78 Old Farm Road, Roslyn, NY 11577
We moved to this house in the summer of 1994, right before I began my freshman year of high school. I was an awkward teenager, starting the year at a new school with no friends. I had my first crush, my first kiss, and went to my first punk rock show when I lived in this house. My sister ran away from home and my mother became overbearing. I snuck out and went to see Elliott Smith play at Tramps. I had my first guitar lesson. In my bedroom, I found out Kurt Cobain died. I read Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" and felt like I'd unlocked an amazing secret. I holed up in my wayward sister's room where the computer was and spent hours on dial-up AOL (screen name: SillyXGrrl.) I wasn't Straight Edge- it was a reference to a Descendents song, Riot Grrl and Kim Gordon's clothing shop X-Girl. Countless hours were spent perfecting mix tapes for unrequited crushes.

Lesson Learned: Never ever feel pressured to conform. High school is hell on earth and life gets so much better after you graduate. If someone is popular in high school, there's a 99% chance he or she will wind up miserable and uninteresting. I learned this from a lifetime of watching romantic comedies (and seeing photos of former classmates on Facebook.)

3. Indian Quad Tower, 14th Floor. 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany NY 11222
Freshman year of college at a state university was insane. I dreamed of going to Bard, where I imagined myself surrounded by like-minded alts discussing French New Wave cinema. Instead, due to my mother's protests that state universities are "about half the price" of private institutions, I wound up at a massive party school that was architecturally gauche and where dudes wore Dave Matthews Band t-shirts. I had a roommate who was a hippie, and we experimented with a lot of drugs in this dorm room. I joined a photography club where I met amazing people who, like me, were more interested in art, film and music than frat parties and beer pong.

Lesson Learned: No matter where you are, you can always find interesting people if you look beyond the surface. Don't ever take mushrooms before going to an all-day music festival.

4. State Quad, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12222
Sophomore year of college was amazing. I lived in a suite with a fun group of girls, though my roommate was a bit mentally unsound and a bit of a bully. I fell asleep to the Smiths every night for a month and stayed up all night playing Dr. Mario on several occasions. Most of this year is a blur.

Lesson Learned: Staying up all night playing video games is a surefire way to be placed on academic probation.

5. 95 North Allen Street, Albany NY 12222
This was a two-story house in downtown Albany that had a porch and the first time in two years I had my own bedroom. I met the first love of my life when I lived here. I recently discovered that this house has since burned down.

Lesson Learned: When you fall in love for the first time, you won't remember much of anything else.

6. State Street, Albany NY 12222
I really loved this apartment. My room was so massive that I had two beds in it and the rent was less than $300 a month. It was my last year in Albany and I accomplished a lot living here, including writing the entirety of my senior thesis on women and hysteria in literature in two days. Here's where I barely had the courage to break up with the first love of my life. I still remember the look on his face when I told him I was leaving the country and wasn't planning on coming back to him.

Lesson Learned: Washing machines in apartments make life so much easier. Breaking up with someone, even if you're the one doing the breaking up, hurts like hell.

Up next: Parts 6-15, in which I leave the country, fall in love at first sight, and discover how amazing life in the UK is.

Transience is bliss.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Drive me insane, Christopher Kane

IT'S NOT ALL FUN AND GAMES here in TICWB land. During my last trip to the UK, apart from hanging with my awesome ladies and rummaging through the vintage shops of Brick Lane, I actually worked. One of my "jobs" was to attend the Christopher Kane Spring 2012 runway show.

I went through all my photos trying to find Kanye in the front row but no such luck.

As I was due to fly out right after, I was running late and non-gracefully entered the show just as it began, following echoes of the song "Video Games" by Lana del Rey. (Ubiquitous sidenote: What is the deal with this girl? She was being hyped up all over the UK and evidently fancies herself a bit of a modern-day Nancy Sinatra, but reliable sources tell me she's a poseur! Did I just say poseur?)
After spying Anna Dello Russo in the most exquisite sequined ensemble, I was able to concentrate on the models. The hair was perfect (messy chignons) and the makeup was minimal. The clothes were stunningly gorgeous. Said to be inspired by depressed teenagers in council flats, some of the looks were haunting juxtapositions between sadness and joy. The 60s-inspired flower power appliqués were tempered by the layered base of the garment.

Swing coats, A-line mini skirts, and shift dresses were all saved from being too sweet with origami folds and subtle cutouts. The florals were reminiscent of wallpaper you might find in a Swiss chateau or chalet in Provence. In other words: Right up my alley!

Crystal embellished pieces (including jeans!) were enough to make most grown women I know squeal with delight.

To finish off the looks, Kane had all of the models wear flat pool shoes. POOL SHOES, you guys! Totally flat, practical rubber-soled sandals that were coordinated to match the outfits. How refreshing!

My gut tells me these are going to be hotly debated this Spring. The Fug girls will most certainly hate them. Maybe if Chloe Sevigny gives her seal of approval, pool shoes will be the new Birkenstocks! (Which were the new Saltwater sandals. At least in my world.) Ladies, we are well on our way to a Teva revolution!

Christopher Kane is Scottish, and the show made me so proud to be a self-appointed honoray Scot. The metallics, floral prints and light-reflecting color palette had me feeling as if I was in an underwater, meticulously curated flower garden, lovingly tended to by a 1950s-era tiara-wearing Martha Stewart. (And I didn't even drop acid before the show!)

If anyone feels compelled to buy me any of the pieces from this collection next Spring, contact me for my address. You know I love you, dear readers!

PS Big massive thank you to my lovely friend Dan for a ticket to the hottest show of London Fashion Week.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Interview with Adele Bethel of Glaswegian wonder band Sons and Daughters

THOSE OF YOU WHO KNOW ME know that Glasgow, Scotland is my second home. I just got back from a visit there where I met up with my lovely, amazing and talented friend Adele Bethel.

Adele totally killing it with a gold lamé dress and T-straps.

Adele is the singer and multi-instrumentalist for Glaswegian band Sons and Daughters and has also played and toured with Arab Strap. She wore a vintage ice skater outfit on stage once.
Apart from making me the most epic lunch (Jamie Oliver recipe!), Adele and I gossiped about our shared love of Lula magazine, TV programs featuring awkward teenagers, leopard print everything, glittery eye makeup, Biba dresses and of course...TOUR!
With her insanely unique fashion sense, fun-loving spirit and expert artistry at applying false eyelashes, going on tour with Adele would be my dream come true. (Imagine the shared clothing possibilities!)

What is your favorite place to tour?

My favourite place to tour is Australia, love the people. Really adore Melbourne, great vintage shopping and little boutiques.One I came across was called 'quick brown fox' which had the most amazing and unusual shoe collection. I came home overloaded and had to put some of my stuff in Scott our guitar players suitcase which was interesting when he was searched at the airport and they pulled out a full length leopard print rain mac, he was mortified!

HAHA! I have totally been in that situation before. The man I was traveling with was not happy to be forced to pack five pairs of heels in his guitar case.
OK, next question! Best city you've been on tour for vintage shopping?

ADELE BETHEL: It's a tough one but I've got to go with San Fransisco. I have never on my visits there come away empty handed. I love Wasteland vintage on Haight St and of course Amoeba Records.I got a great 80's chanel mini leather rucksack in a store there for 90 dollars which I cherish.
(TICWB sidenote: Chanel rucksack? That exists? JEALOUS!!!)

What are your tour must-haves?

ADELE BETHEL: My tour must haves are comfy slippers, if we are on a bus I like to take my own duvet cover and pillow case, anything to make the insanity feel slightly more 'normal'. I always take a DVD wallet and my laptop with things like 'Freaks and Geeks', 'My So Called Life' and the O.C.I need my laptop to watch them as the rest of the band will not watch this sort of thing usually.If you are in a van I recommend stealing a pillow from a hotel to sleep on the journey and as you have no kitchen take healthy portable snacks so you don't feel like shit. Things like oatcakes, yogurts,cereal bars,soy nuts so you don't have to eat crap from a service station. Oh and strong painkillers for the inevitable hangovers!

TICWB: What are the best/worst parts of tour?

ADELE BETHEL: The best part of the tour is the show at night basically. It's such a weird existence where you spend most of your day so bored yet trying to have some 'alone' time. The show is the reward at the end of it.The worst thing is leaving your loved ones.

TICWB: How many pairs of shoes do you usually take on tour?

Ha! This is a hard question. It depends how long I am going for and where I will be going. If,for instance, I am going to the U.S and experiencing different weather climates my shoe collection is usually 'warm knee boots', 'fancy knee boots','day flats' 'day ankle boots' and about 3 pairs of 'gig shoes'. I'm actually much worse for packing different types of jackets and coats and that's when my suitcase space gets tight! Make up and toiletries are also my downfall, they take up a shit load of room.

Let's discuss the artistry in that eyeliner application, SHALL WE?

Would you prefer to tour with all women, or do you like having men on tour with you?

ADELE BETHEL: I like the fact there are 2 guys and 2 gals in the band, it's a nice balance. I've toured with just guys before when I played in Arab Strap and that was weird. On one hand it was nice as they treated me like a little sister and were very over protective but I love having Ailidh (Sons and Daughters female bassist) with me. When you open your make up bag and realise at 8pm you have lost your false eyelash glue, you have back up! It's also really fun to get ready together, we tend to colour co-ordinate with our dresses each night and always borrow each other stuff. It's like doubling up your wardrobe choices, pretty saweet!
(TICWB mental note: Only tour with females from now on!)

Can you please tell me a funny tour story or anecdote?

ADELE BETHEL: We toured in 2005 in the US for 8 weeks and over those 2 months I had vintage shopped my ass off so ended up going through 3 suitcases. The third was this huge red thing I bought on the last day in NY. I still have it, it's so huge I can get in it quite comfortably and zip myself in there. We flew from NY to Munich to start the European leg and our 2 pals from Glasgow who were tour managing and driving met us at the gate in the airport. I arrived with this thing and they were like 'for fucks sake adele, this is a 2 man lift'! They had to load it in the van every morning, god bless them. It was and still is referred to as 'fat albert' by the rest of the band and everyones heart sinks when I wheel it out of a morning to start a tour. I'm 5'2 I can't lift this thing, but I NEEED all of that stuff:) xxxxx

You know what guys? She's right. She does need all that stuff! Looking that amazing/beautiful every night requires a lot of wardrobe options for costume changes!

Sons and Daughters new record Mirror Mirror is out now on Domino records. It's brilliant. Buy it.

P.S. Adele, call me if you need a personal assistant for your next tour! You know I'd never say no to stopping at vintage shops even if we're running late for a gig! LOVE YOU!

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Test

I LIKE TO THINK of myself as non-judgmental and accepting of everyone. Having said that, I do have a secret test that I administer before I grant a person admission into my elite circle of buddies.

At some point on tour (usually in the beginning), I like to perform the test, and so far no one has failed. Thankfully. This is probably because I've been blessed by the road gods with lovely bands and amazing tours.

The test is simple.

Simply play one of these songs at full volume, and if the person in question does NOT sing along or appear to know what it is, de-friend him or her immediately. Done.


I realize that I may be called a music snob for this, but if you've never heard Pavement, I cannot call you my friend. These two jams, both off of Pavement's 1994 record Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain are perfect for singalongs about being drunk in the August sun, talking about how foxy Scott Weiland is and dissing the Smashing Pumpkins. Choose one, crank it up, and if the van stays silent, you might as well jump out and hitch a ride back to civilization.


What's that? You think Weezer still exists? Like, as a respectable band? Have you been living under a lamestream rock? Pinkerton is the last decent record that Rivers Cuomo & co. released. Any track off this record is a viable option for the test. If your van-mates try to say that they prefer that song "Island In The Sun," which was the theme for that Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen film, RUN. If they attempt to talk about that Red album, run even faster. Any talk of post-Pinkerton-era Weezer is unacceptable, unless you are wondering what Rivers has been smoking for the past fifteen years. Singing about shredding the cello and Japanese penpals who write on pretty stationary is encouraged, and will ensure you are surrounded by good peeps.


This is a crowd pleaser, and if the person in question hasn't heard it, you're fucked. An obvious choice when it comes to Fugazi, but sometimes I forget not everyone grew up listening to Minor Threat. You can throw on the song "Merchandise," which is a close second when it comes to Fugazi songs people love, and if finger pointing does not ensue, you know who you're dealing with. (Lamestream.)


If I want to make sure I'm in a safe environment, I play Riot Grrl music. If any variation of the term "angry woman" gets thrown around, peace out forever.

What songs you would use as a test before opening your personal velvet rope for a friendship?

Work It Grrl.


When I'm not on tour, I work in fashion. Sometimes I wind up doing things that aren't in my job description, such as filling in for the photographer when she calls out sick.

Here's style blogger/model Arielle resting before our shoot.

WURQ those Litas, girl. Tyra (and Ru) would be so proud.