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Saturday, 31 May 2014

FOUND - Pack A Map, Just in Case


I found this train case at a flea market in an old bus depot near the Piazza del Popolo in Rome. This Sunday second-hand extravaganza offers high quality hunting; sleek Italian chic including old Gucci and Versace can be found in abundance. Well-organized tables and racks of clothing, jewelry, housewares, cameras, kitchenalia and more make this a perfect prelude to Sunday brunch in Rome. I located the market through a Herb Lester map, CLICK HERE. Assuming you'll easily find a city's most famous hot spots, Herb's maps offer up a handful of interesting but lesser known shopping, eating and cultural stop offs. Like your passport, extra undies and sunscreen these maps are a must-pack for any city break. I loved this train case on sight but was already laden with 2nd-hand Roman treasure. Convinced I'd give it a miss, I asked "how much please?" anyway, certain its hefty price tag would see me off. But the case jumped into my arms when the stallholder responded "cinque euros." This luscious leather lovely was just 5 euros.                 

Friday, 30 May 2014

FOUND - Not Just a Pretty Face


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I found her in Bath UK, in the men's furnishings section of a shop called Vintage to Vogue (www.vintagetovoguebath.co.uk). She's a testament to the enduring appeal of ruby red lips and reminds me of the mascot atop the roof of The Kewpee, a burger joint in my hometown of Lima, Ohio. "Hamburger, Pickle on Top Makes Your Heart Go Flippity Flop" is the Kewpee's motto and I'm tempted to buy a Kewpee t-shirt emblazoned with this savory slogan (see www.kewpee.com). At this fast-food throwback the waitresses still wear white button-front dresses and sport hairnets and along with the best burgers in the world, they serve up slices of homemade pie; cherry, apple, pecan and peach. When 2nd-hand hunting, don't overlook peachy finds in the men's department. Quality leather bags, scarves, PJs, and little curiosities like her are often there for the taking. This porcelain lemon squeezer was sweet at just £10.                

Thursday, 29 May 2014

TRY THIS - Cool Cats Pass It On


This Lea Stein brooch was a gift from my friend Susan, one of the most stylish women I know. In the 80s, she designed and then hand sewed a line of dresses featured in Elle magazine that were a bated breath away from being picked up by Liberty, the renown London department store. She's given a few of these finely made frocks to friends - those with waspish waists and compact bust lines. I admired the brooch one day as it lay nestled among other goodies on a beautiful bureau in her bedroom and a year later she gave it to me for my birthday. I was overwhelmed; it's more than a gift, it's an artifact infused with "Susan-ness," and among my most cherished possessions. Sometimes a friend loves a piece so much more than you that it seems only natural that they have it. Look, I don't recommend passing on the antique diamond ring your granny gave you on her death bed, but gifting from your own fashion collection is the height of generosity. By the way, Lea Stein is a French artist and accessory maker born in the 1930s and best known for her compressed plastic jewelry. Her pieces are highly collectible and have a lovely future/past aura about them. You can pick them up 2nd hand for as little as £40.   

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

FOUND - Step Right Up To Your Style


I read recently in a glossy magazine that espadrilles are out, in fact the shoe choice of fashion nincompoops.  Really?  I've been wearing these summer classics for over 20 years.  Haven't they transcended fickle fashion and become a staple, like crisp white shirts or worn-in jeans? Espadrilles are the perfect hot weather/dress up-dress down/comfy walking/don't I look free and easy shoe. But a so-called fashion doyenne has decided, for a moment, they're not. And honestly, almost nothing makes me happier.  We should all rejoice when the establishment says our style choices are out of step.  Fashion is such a lamb-to-slaughter exercise. One sheep says 'wear this' and the rest of us follow, only to be quickly informed we're mutton wearing espadrilles! I say develop your look, tinker with it to include trends that speak to you and ignore the rest. I found these Castaner espadrilles in a 2nd-hand market in Rome (more on Rome market in future post). Castaners are the creme de la canvas when it comes to this summer shoe. They're one of the handful of fashion items I'll buy new - they start at £65 - although I much prefer to find them gently used. These purple wedges were just 7 euros.                  

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

TRY THIS - The Original Fashion Icon



This classy lady came into my possession while working at a theatre outside LA. The office Christmas party invitation advised staff to bring along a "gift" - something we had but didn't want, and the more ridiculous the better.  At the party we each pulled a number from a hat, then in numerical order selected a pressie from a table full of weird and useless white elephants.  The moment I saw her, I was in love - had to have her but feared she'd go, pronto. God love loopy liberal thesps and New Age Cali kooks none of whom dare reach for a naff religious memento, especially in the month of baby Jesus' birth. Don't get me wrong, I never wonder WWJD? But I am privately spiritual and this woman, this lovely, hopeful but under-sexed diva seems to me the original fashion icon. I have several Marys who are right at home among my handbags and gladrags. She reminds me to add life to those things no one else wants and transcend sartorial time zones, to marry high with low and combine worn classics with the-best-of trends. Nothing is scared when it comes to fashion, nothing but a commitment to one's own style.  

Monday, 26 May 2014

FOUND - Small Town Delights


I recently found this beauty in the little town of Deal on the Kent coast. A hidden gem, Deal is the perfect weekend get-away spot, while lacking the white cliffs that distinguish Dover, its still awash in seaside charm. We'd booked tickets for King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys, a cool swing band playing the town's active arts centre, the Astor Theatre.  While enjoying the music, we found out a market was scheduled at the Astor the next day.  And as promised, 10 to 12 tables brimming with untold riches greeted us in the morning. The prices were more than fair and the stall holders were delightful if not shyly polite.  Deal also boasts a tiny 'old town' - a clutch of about 6 shops that are generally owner operated, full of vintage clothing and housewares (they tend to be open Thur to Sat only). You'll also find 2 or 3 charity shops where I've struck gold at least once, snagging a Pucci-inspired linen top that I gave to my sister (£3).  It's a long walk to Sandwich from Deal but flat and enjoyable.  More vintage/old stuff awaits you there.  The Royal Hotel in Deal is a cosy place to stay - book one of their rooms that faces out to the sea (www.theroyalhotel.com).  This huge butterfly brooch cost £7.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

FOUND - A Coach Trip to Childhood


I found this red Coach tote last week.  I find myself nostalgic for the brand.  When I was a kid, a friend of my mom's - Joan Forkin - carried a caramel coloured Coach; a chunky rectangle with brass hardware on a long strap. Mrs Forkin was half hippy child, half tough broad.  She had a wonderful vegetable garden and swore like a sailor. I can still see her over-stuffed Coach, always unzipped, with makeup, cigarettes and checkbook (now a museum artifact) sprouting from the top of the bag. Her Coach had a patina akin to washed silk, and I felt happy when I was near it.  It meant my mom and Mrs Forkin were near by too.  I've found a few Coach bags, circa Mrs Forkin, but none thrill me like this ole' red tote.  Its wear and tear connect me to women I admire and enjoy remembering.  I picked it up at the Ealing Oxfam for £14.99.          

Saturday, 24 May 2014

TRY THIS - Collect It, For Friends' Sake


For years I've collected fat bangles; big plastic, perspex, wood and bakelite bracelets.  Unique examples are easy to find and an effective accessory, 2, 3, 4 at a time.  Several of the high-end big-boys are showing armloads of colourful bangles (guess they've cottoned on to what I've known for yonks). Collecting a fashion bit or bob is a great way to keep your eye focused when on the hunt.  I spot various quality fashion tidbits as my bangle search becomes a kind of shopping stream of consciousness.  Focus (on a bracelet) begets focus (on say, a charity shop dress that inspires a new combination of bracelets).  Most importantly your collected item will become your go-to gift.  If friends and family know that big bangles bring a smile to my face, then giving me one is an easy way to make me happy. Offering people ways to make you happy is just common courtesy.  Silk scarfs, tiny beaded purses, brooches shaped like bugs, lacy socks, black gloves, mini perfume bottles, old postcards of Paris, rock concert t-shirts - anything.  I wonder what you collect?           

Friday, 23 May 2014

FOUND - Seeing Things in Montana




My mom found these vintage sunglasses in Bruges last September. She and my step-dad came for a visit, and along with JB (husband to Huntress), we hopped the Eurostar to the little Belgian chocolate box that is Bruges. At a street market mom picked out these shades - she thought they'd suit me. I wasn't so sure. Their severe shape under my straight fringed bob might look weirdly intense. But as soon as I held them in my hand I knew they were quality. And there, on the inside, almost rubbed out were the words Claude Montana. Montana is the Crown Prince of the iconic 80s look. He invented enormous shoulder pads. While I wasn't convinced they were my look, I appreciated their significance. When I tried them on my mom loved them even more. Done deal - if she loved them on me, I knew I'd have the confidence to wear them. I was prepared to bargain hard with the stallholder. "How much please?" I asked. "Five euros," he said. Five! They were mine in seconds, no haggling necessary. If you go to Bruges, in addition to the street market, be sure to pop into Madame Mim's, my favourite vintage shop in all the world.  

Thursday, 22 May 2014

TRY THIS - Style Rags to Rich Style


My name is Anmarie and I'm a glossy magazine addict - a nasty habit I'm trying to break. I buy glossies in search of new ways to wear and style things I already own. Sadly what I generally find are expensive, experimental looks for women with unrealistic bodies. Will I ever learn? Yes! I've taken to buying fashion BOOKS (used, natch). Vogue published some great books in the 80s, and has issued a new range focusing on individual designers - Elsa Schiaparelli is a personal hero. At Christmas I asked family for Paris Street Style, by Thomas & Veysset, an informative new read with photos of real women. The 1990s series of books entitled Chic Simple (published by Thames & Hudson) offer great photos of entire outfits and I'm forever diving into the Style Book by Elizabeth Walker. One photo after another, spanning time and geography, it's like a blog in a book. I find great out-of-print books in charity shops and on Ebay for about the same price as a magazine and if I want a newly published book, I put it on my Christmas or Birthday wishlist. My growing collection of fashion books is a feature on my shelves, providing endless inspiration. I haven't gone cold turkey though. I've allowed myself one magazine - a subscription (way cheaper than shelf price) to Harper's Baazar.              

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

FOUND - Bloomin' Marvelous via Mary


I found this bag out of season at a Mary Portas Living & Giving Shop in Ealing, West London. It's huge, 24 inches across, lined in a silk/linen mix with a perfectly working wooden closure. While in mint condition it still has that special verve that comes with age. Everyone from Prada to Kate Spade are doing over-the-top straw bags but this treasure is happily unbranded. It marries up nicely with lots of the espadrilles in my vast collection and looks a treat with the cropped trousers my mom calls peddle pushers. Mary and her staff are in-the-know, so they stock particularity good 2nd-hand high street fashions. And Mary prices up vintage reasonably. Find her at www.maryportas.com/livingandgiving. I picked up this bit of flower power for just £25.       

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

FOUND - Boutique Brand For < £10


Today I found these incredible shoes. Unearthed at an Ealing Oxfam that I pop into about once week. That's the trick with charity shops, frequenting them consistently. When I'm on my way to work in the afternoon or out taking my Big Walk (10,000 steps a day), I twirl through my favourite local charity shops. Often, I find nothing but occasionally I uncover gold (or in this case purple and red). In finding these shoes, I have also unearthed a boutique cobbler who offers quirky quality, based in Edinburgh, with an on-line shop. I'd never heard of Helen Bateman but I knew on sight her's were quality shoes - made in Spain (see sole). Helen Batemen designs are bold, colourful creations, beautifully shaped and sensibly priced (new £85 to £135). Check out Helen's fancy foot work at www.helenbateman.com. Today's find is not perfect - these shoes have a nick in the heel and suffer some scuffing, but they are still very wearable and look crazy expensive. They cost all of £6.99 today.