October 27, 2013

Perfect Purses

Lanvin Happy Bag.

A fumie named Rachel posted the following query on my fragrance blog, Katie Puckrik Smells:
Hi Katie, I love all your perfume advice -- thank you for it! I also love to see your style: your cool blouses, hair and makeup, and vintage-looking necklaces. Just thought I would ask...I have been looking for a new handbag and am frustrated by the selection out there. May I ask what you carry -- I bet it would be something I would like. Thanks!

I started to formulate a response, but I realized that my thoughts on purses would far exceed the limits of the comments section. So nudged by Rachel (and thanks for the props on my style, Rachel!), I've decided to give my handbag filibuster some real estate on Mixties.

As described on the "Welcome" page for this blog, my personal style is "mixties": a blend of 20th century sartorial signifiers that conjure the aspirations of days gone by. For purses, I lean towards 70s preppy (natural tan, buckle detailing) and 80s glitz (studs, quilting, "off" colors).

On the preppy side of life, anything from the Coach Classics line will have one looking like an extra from Love Story in no time. I love their City Bag:

Coach City Bag.

I have one in British Tan, but it looks great here in Vermillion.

Another high-end preppy brand is Dooney & Bourke. Fashion slaves haven't yet taken D&B to their boney bosoms, which is one of the reasons I love the line. It doesn't feel played out.

Another reason I crave D&B is that they have a yachtload of styles with scores of colorways. You'll have to cruise their website to get the whole picture, but I've selected the Double Strap Tassel Satchel for ogling purposes here:

Dooney & Bourke Double Tassel Strap Satchel.

The drawback with the bigger Florentine leather Dooney & Bourke bags is that they weigh a good 2 1/2 to 3 lbs empty, so start practicing your arm curls now if you see one in your future.

My hot tip for snagging D&B's is to track down vintage ones online. Since the purses are so rugged and well-made, they're usually in great condition. And you can find discontinued styles and colors that will have connoisseurs giving you knowing, well-done-you nods in the street.

The good thing about the preppy look is that there are cute bags to be found at 1970s prices. L.L. Bean and Le Sportsac have scads of options, though most of Le Sportsac's prints have been stuck in a cul de sac of hellish whimsy for many years now.

Ever since I read Patricia Bosworth's biography of Diane Arbus years ago, I've savored the factoid that Diane carried a large, well-worn brown paper bag as her "purse". I seem to recall there was something about the softness and patina of the thick paper that she liked, as well as the paper bag being a quotidian object. Or maybe that's just what I like about the idea.

So when I happened upon Marie Turnor's "paper bag" leather clutches, I was really tickled:

Marie Turnor Dinner Clutch.

You can reference this look less expensively with a tan Leather Pouch from American Apparel:

American Apparel Leather Pouch.

I am goo-goo for American Apparel's chic'n'cheerful medium and large-sized clutches, available in a vast array of colors. These are my most useful "big night out" bags. I've got three: a dark grape, a deep magenta and a vivid jade, all in the medium size. I can fit glasses, book, lipstick, compact, wallet, phone, and my omnipresent cashmere wrap in one. I don't understand how! Quantum physics, perhaps?

A word of caution, though: it's best to check them out in person at an American Apparel store rather than buying online, because the quality of the leather varies from color to color and from bag to bag.

As we're now moving into the glitzy 80s part of the program, I draw your attention to the Lanvin Happy Bag pictured at the top of this post. I don't have one, but mmmmmmmmmm...a girl can dream. I would wear that yellow python showstopper with literally everything.

Let's have a little more Happy:

Lanvin Happy Bag.

I love the chevron pattern of the quilting on this one -- a different slant on the classic Chanel diamond pattern.

Slightly less debtor's prison-esque are the luxury offerings from Rebecca Minkoff. I have a black quilted and studded Mac Clutch, a generous gift from a dear friend. Here's one similar to mine in Cognac:

Rebecca Minkoff Quilted Mac Clutch.

And speaking of dear and generous friends, I have two others who intuited the very thing that would complete me, handbag-wise: a Louis Vuitton Totally PM tote.

Louis Vuitton Totally PM.

My lovely chums surprised me with it a couple of birthdays ago, and since then it has been my daily companion. The Totally PM is the perfect size for 5-foot-tall me -- it holds all the usual stuff plus bulky sun and optical glasses, and the all-important snacks -- without being too big. Because it's made of coated canvas, it's lightweight. The fact that it zips on top is great for security concerns.

And the quatrefoil LV logo, which dates from 1896, fits right in with my mixties aesthetic. C'est parfait!

My Vuitton tote had its own spotlight recently when it was featured on the beauty blog What's in My Handbag?.

What isn't in Katie's handbag?

Click here to find out what's in my handbag.

August 17, 2013

Get Smart Shoe Phones: the Original Mobiles




Get Smart made a big impression on me as a kid. I loved the urgency of the surf-spy theme tune, the "scccchhhhwick!" of the slamming doors as Max Smart strode down the corridor in the title sequence, and how coolly deadpan Agent 99 was (and the fact that her actual name was "99").

July 24, 2013

Craniosacral Therapy with Debra Morrice



I expend a lot of effort in my life at the moment. Not a building-a-pyramid, digging-a-coal-mine kind of effort, you understand. It's not like I'm going to come down with black lung anytime soon. But sometimes transitions (even positive ones like career developments and moving to a new country, in my case), result in effort -- to keep productive, to keep creating, to keep on keepin' on.

June 22, 2013

Aduna Baobab Fruit Pulp Powder




Move over açaí berries, goji berries and chia seeds -- there's a brand-new, tantalizingly obscure antioxidant in town, and it's baobab powder. Specifically, powder from the fruit of the prehistoric baobab tree, which grows on the savannahs of Africa and can live for up to 5,000 years. The tree lives for 5,000 years, you say? Already I'm sold on this stuff.

Baobab Fruit Pulp Powder from Aduna is the first I've experienced of this superfruit. It's a white powder that tastes like like a cross between grapefruit, vanilla and pear, which means that it's perfect for stirring into my morning yogurt. (It also comes in capsule form if you don't have yogurt, juice, or a smoothie to hand.)

June 18, 2013

Gary Hume at Tate Britain


The Cradle - Gary Hume

“If I can't see regret in a painting, then I think it's less than truthful.”

Gary Hume is an artist whose idea of perfect beauty is truth, no matter how awkward the truth may be. With high-gloss household paint, he makes enigmatic portraits and still lifes in which identifying characteristics have been re-focused, reproportioned, or removed altogether.

Yearning is always present in Hume's work, a reaching out to grasp some elemental quality of sex, death, or a woman. The melancholia is candy-colored, but the candy here is inedible, its dirty pastels grinding off acid yellows and prosthetic limb flesh tones.