Another fantastic find from the Oxfam in Ealing. This is a blast from my past; a J Crew fitted shirt, pre-Jenna Lyons, the company's ubiquitous Creative Director. The bespectacled front woman is everywhere right now but the J Crew look is one I've longed for since Jenna carried a babydoll rather than a Birkin. The very American East Coast preppy style - bright but sleek, feminine but sporty - was my aim in the mid-80s. While I don't row, ride, play lawn tennis or snow ski - the traditional preppster pastimes - I wanted to be part of the Crew crowd. The company that debuted in 1983 as a mail-order business was more affordable then than today, but as a money-strapped journalism student it was still out of my league. In the 80s I could only 'window shop' J Crew so it was a red letter day when recently I found this shirt down memory-lane for just £5.99.
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
I found this brooch at Mary's Living & Giving charity shop in Richmond at the weekend. When clothing or accessories capture my imagination they either transport me forward to a future wearing them or take me back in time to a light and shady memory of the past. This dragonfly reminds me of hot summer days at Lake Winona, the local swimming hole in the small Ohio town where I grew up. With its man-made sandy beach, well-stocked snack bar and diving dock in the deep end, Lake Winona was a teenage dream world. Situated among pine trees rather than palms, parents would drop a carload of kids off at the Lake for the day, leaving them to their own pent-up devises. We children learned to swim, budget our snack-bar allowance and enjoy the slice of temporary freedom we thought signalled our future independence. Huge dragonflies, their rainbow wings reflecting the Lake reflecting the Sun, silently watched us leave youth on the shore like a damp beach towel, as we floated toward something unknown. This winged wonder - made from pressed metal - was just £2.
Tuesday, 29 July 2014
I found the nude/pink silk slip from Noa Noa at Oxfam in Ealing and the dotty vintage slip from Madame Mim's in Bruges. While recently people watching it occurred to me that dress slips have gone the way of the horse and cart. And boot cut jeans. And landlines. Diaphanous dresses and skirts littering the high street shops lay claim to a sexier-than-thou look but I'm not sure their peek-a-boo appeal is really all that alluring. Sexy is as sexy feels. Pop on a dress slip and you immediately channel Elizabeth Taylor in the film adaptation of Tennessee William's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Sexy is equal parts confidence and imagination. While others won't know you're wearing the sensual silk under thing, you will. Your confidence sky rockets. Add imagination - pretend you're about to meet a young (or old for that matter), blue-eyed Paul Newman and all I can say is meow! The Noa Noa Slip was £4.99 and the dotty blue number was 7 euros.
Monday, 28 July 2014
I found this jacket, part of a French paper firm's uniform, at a tiny vintage shop in Deal on the Kent coast. I think it probably qualifies as 'normcore.' Normcore is what the Fashion Fluffs are calling the trend they've started that entails anonymous, 'normal' dressing. White gym socks and plain trainers with jeans typify this look. Apparently it's a way for super fashion insiders to disguise their ultra-knowing style sense by cloaking it in threads that send no discernible sartorial message. I'm tempted to celebrate this self-obsessed trend if only because I switched off to messages from the mainstream Fash Pack a few years ago. With normcore they've stopped sending messages? Three cheers for normcore! But the patronizing absurdity of it leaves me once again disappointed in an industry that never fails to wear its contempt for its audience on its sleeve. I add a bright coloured pocket square to this jacket and call it work wear with flare. Normcore? Snore. The jacket was £28.
Sunday, 27 July 2014
This is my mate Joe in Amsterdam, a man who introduced me to the honest simplicity of mid-Century modern design, among other things. I'm thankful he appreciates my love of colour and more colour, otherwise he may have never sent me this inspiring photo. I often find window shopping - just looking - the very best, inexpensive way to train the eye. The defined space of a window, combined with the urban activity of the street, creates shapes, lines and combinations that tell a secret story for the viewer alone. The colour pop of the hats against the brown-grey of the cobblestones encourages me to enliven my winter woolies with a slash of orange or peach. I'm keen to re-evaluate fashions I've previously dubbed 'summer only.' Could they have a winter style-life? Next time a shop assistant says, "Can I help you?" remember it's fine to studiously reply "No thanks, I'm just looking."
Saturday, 26 July 2014
Friday, 25 July 2014
I found these vintage heels at the Fara charity shop on Bond Street in Ealing. The brand, AM Ashmore, is elusive - research has uncovered nothing about it but they are marked 'Made in Italy' and boast leather soles. Quality, full stop. When I was young, growing up in small town America, the fashion rulebook said one should not wear white dress shoes before Memorial Day (late May) or after Labor Day (early September). The fictional fashionista Carrie Bradshaw in the TV series Sex in the City - an avid wearer of white heals any time of year - helped to loosen up the tight white restriction. Today, shoes of any hue 'Made in Italy' have extra cachet and we've Salvatore Ferragamo to thank for it. He landed in Hollywood at just age 16, setting up a shoe shop that stars the likes of Greta Garbo flocked to in droves. Later he returned to his native Italy and built a shoe dynasty. While these are not Ferragamos, they are bellissima! I wear them with rolled-up Levis. They were just £7.
Thursday, 24 July 2014
Wednesday, 23 July 2014
Lately I've become obsessed with foxes, urban foxes mostly. All around my Ealing home, these long, lean beauties prowl about, sometimes in broad daylight, to the dismay of many. While I occasionally worry for them, it seems my fear is unfounded. There's a big boy fox in the area who looks like he's eating for a family of 4. I half expect to see him up on 2 legs in the local Tesco buying a 6-pack of pork pies and sleeve of custard creams. When I was in high school the boys referred to good-looking girls, girls they liked and longed to date, as "foxes." Never foxy - that was old school - just fox. "That new girl who moved in on Woodhaven Lane is a fox." I'm determined to bring this descriptive term back into fashion. Gradually I'm referring to stylish women as foxes. "She's a fox in that sun dress and shades," and so forth, as needed. I wonder what 'style' describer you'd like to return to the lexicon?
Tuesday, 22 July 2014
Huntress in her natural habitat - a seaside salvage yard. Vintage rattan frame, £1.50, found at the Children's Society Charity shop, Pitshanger Lane, Ealing. Visiting family in Florida I couldn't resist re-purposing an architectural finial as a hat. But this goofy head shot is really all about the hair. The near perfect bob has been my calling card for a decade however it didn't come easy. For years I tried to grow my hair long and luxurious but never achieved more than mid-length and stringy. While living in LA, Long Hair Capital of the World, I re-read F Scott Fitzgerald's short story 'Bernice Bobs Her Hair' and my look was born. Today my bob's best friend is hair expert Bea, find her in Ealing, at Zero Zero Salon (CLICK). I wonder if your style has ever been inspired by literature, art or music?
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Monday, 21 July 2014
I found this Phaidon fashion book and Jigsaw seersucker trousers at the Oxfam just up the road from Hammersmith tube station. Wide legged, light weight and flat fitting, these are hot weather problem solvers (that's the trouser). 'Seersucker' came into English usage via a Persian word meaning 'milk and sugar.' The fabric was used in the American South to make cheap clothing for poorer people, but it attained a higher style status later when the literati and fashionistas of the 1920s began wearing it. In Britain, seersucker clothing was popular in the tropical climates of the then-British colonies. This summer staple will always put me to mind of Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in the film To Kill A Mockingbird. No matter its associations, seersucker says 'summer.' And for only a fiver these trouser said 'buy me.' The Fashion Book, packed with style inspiration and a great addition to my collection, was £3 (less than a glossy magazine). If you pop into this Oxfam, be sure to have a bite to eat at nearby Blanche Eatery, freshest salads in all of West London (blancheeatery.com).
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Sunday, 20 July 2014
I found this large straw bag at the Fara charity shop just up the road from the Turnham Green tube station. I've half a dozen straw bags so did I really need to clutter my collection with yet another? It's unbranded, probably not very old, in reasonably good nick so I hear you ask, "But Huntress, what's so special about this one?" I'll tell you what - packability. This summer staple and carrier classic lays perfectly flat and will slip seamlessly into my suitcase. It's a multi-tasker too; a beach bag, shopping tote, and even a fetching summer evening-out bag. It checks all the box, or, well, fills in all the circles. Straw bags have reached iconic style status; they add texture, design history and a timeless air to any outfit. When you see 'em cheap, unique and well-made, I suggest you grab 'em. Or I will. This red rounder was just £6.
Thanks to Ealing Today, local on-line newspaper,
for featuring Huntress London in My Ealing
Saturday, 19 July 2014
This is my husband's band JB and The Wolfmen playing the 100 Club, the iconic gig venue on Oxford Street. These blokes are 4 of the most stylish men I know. Do they wear hyper-trendy fashions studiously lifted from the pages of Gentleman's Quarterly? No. They buy clothes they like, clothes that suit them and they wear their selections with confidence and gusto. Occasionally a woman is compelled to 'dress her man.' I was. Once. Ages ago when I suggested JB adopt a preppy, East Coast American vibe, his face said it all. "Anything for you baby, but not that." Today I champion his look, hunting for the 40s and 50s non-repeating patterned neckties he likes and topping up his selection of slouchy suits when I find them on sale. I also unearthed his pride and joy, a dove grey fur-felt Fedora. Most men - even those over 40 - aren't tone deaf to style. But you gotta' let them sing their own song.
Friday, 18 July 2014
I found these high waisted Pepe jeans at the Cancer Research charity shop in Ealing last week. They were a bargain so it never occurred to me to haggle over the price. But this week I watched a woman stomp out of a charity shop when the manager wouldn't sell her a dress for less than the marked price. My friend Susan, the very definition of discretion and manners, has been known to ask for and be granted a discount on charity shop fashions. If you seek to haggle, save it for items that are higher priced; Susan, for example, would never quibble over a 6 quid pair of jeans (in point of fact, she'd never buy jeans, not her look). I suggest you become a regular in a charity shop before asking for a discount. Loyal customers are more likely to be granted the little favours they seek. And if the manager is unable to accommodate you, thank her for considering your request. Real style starts with a gracious way and understanding manner. Yes, these jeans were just £6, no haggling required.
Thursday, 17 July 2014
I found this cotton Cornwall souvenir scarf at Spitalfields Market awhile back. It's a square of graphic gorgesous-ness that's done all and sundry. It accompanies me on every holiday I set out for serving as a snazzy pocket square, stylish neckerchief, dabber of a 'glowing' brow, drier of a rain-soaked bench, wrapper for a holiday trinket, picnic serviette and flash of colour tied to an otherwise dull handbag. At several stalls in Old Spitalfields Market and Truman Brewery there are large boxes full of wrinkled, but lovely scarves. Hundreds and hundreds of squares of silk, cotton, poly and wool. They used to all be a pound each, I think they've sky-rocketed to £2 but still a 'stock-up' price. Hand-wash, lavender and wear them liberally. This little Cornish cutie caught my eye and has stayed with me ever since. Do you have a simple holiday must-pack? Tell us, come on, carry on!
Wednesday, 16 July 2014
I found this vintage cotton nightie at Le-Grenier, a small but perfectly formed 2nd-hand shop at 146 Bethnal Green Road. It's a feast for the eyes. Hand-picked, lightly-worn but interesting, story-laden and desirable Gallic clothing and housewares await you. Now I'm a westside girl, I rarely go further east than the Southbank, but over the weekend I made my way to Rich Mix to enjoy a new play a friend wrote and directed. Alighting at Bethnal Green tube station, I walked up the road marveling at the plethora of shops offering sparking saris of every description. The bold colour combinations, flashy trimmings and opulent weaves were inspiring. Then, with the theatre nearly in sight, Le-Grenier quietly asked me in. At the back of the shop on a small rail this simple cotton a-line frock presented itself. The peachy-pink trim, so feminine. The crisp white cotton, so inviting. It's just the prettiest thing I've owned in years. A bargain at only £20. Make your way to Le-Grenier, let's support London's independents.
Tuesday, 15 July 2014
I found these shoes at the Fara Charity Shop on Bond Street, Ealing. The boffins claim a woman who collects shoes is a frustrated traveler. And they may be on to something, because these patent pretties have left this traveler wildly frustrated. They're glorious; leather soles, sturdy construction, elegant shape. Even the laces are lovely and once re-heeled they were good to go. The label reads 'Bally Avant Garde' but all the research in the world hasn't uncovered a connection to Bally, the famed Swiss shoe company. The Bally label is traditionally block lettered not script (see inside shoe) and I can't yet find a past Bally line called Avant Garde. I'll joyfully wear these and appreciate their high style and superior quality but I still feel slightly cheated. The shoes haven't told me their story! Do you know anything about Bally Avant Garde? Either way, their price was no mystery - just £15.
Monday, 14 July 2014
I found this messenger bag at the Fara Charity Shop, just up the road from Turnham Green Tube Station in Chiswick. It's from Marimekko, the iconic Finnish design house. In 1951 the company staged its first fashion show in a Helsinki hotel; the bold print dresses on show were so popular that they sold straight off the models' backs. The company opened its first shop a year later. In '58 founders introduced Marimekko at the Brussels World's Fair, paving the way for the brand to skip over the Atlantic and make a splash in NYC. Americans go gaga for the happy graphic designs and by 1960 Jacqueline Kennedy buys 7 Marimekko shift dresses, appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated in one of them. The fashion glossies go mad for the brand. In 1971 the founder's son cuts up canvas to create the company's first classic bag design. This Marimekko bag, probably just 5 years old, has had some use but it's still sturdy, stylish and carries with it a rich design history. While a little worn, it carried a price tag of only £5.
Sunday, 13 July 2014
Saturday, 12 July 2014
Angelica Houston is a style hero for me. She's tall and wears her years well. So it wasn't surprising when I found her recently released bio a compelling read. Huston is the product of famed director John Huston and glamorous prima ballerina and model Enrica Soma. The book is full of fashion memories and a smattering of wonderful photos; Huston was a model herself in the 60s and 70s. She adored her mother and conjures up the woman for us by recalling her style.
"Dabbing on her perfume and sinking my fingers into the glass pot with foamy white cream called Creme de Bonne Femme; watching her stroke dark blue mascara into her eyelashes with a little brush...She had bought a dress from Madame Gres for the season. It was mauve taffeta, strapless, like a column. She wore it with a turquoise necklace. The affect was astonishing."
This is book one of two; the second expected in the next few years. Huston has plenty of story to tell and tells it with colour and honesty.
Tags: stylish reads
Friday, 11 July 2014
Common courtesy has become uncommon - rude is the new black. So I suggest we start properly paying compliments to friends and acquaintances in an effort to balance the books. How often do we say to ourselves "Ooo, her hair looks good" or "That dress really suits her?" Pardon me, I can't hear you? Mind your manners and politely verbalize your fondness for the fashions of a friend. Be generous with your honest praise and graciously accept the resulting appreciation. I found this classic etiquette tome in a used book shop inside a thatched roof hut at the back of a woman's garden in Harare, Zimbabwe. The casual book dealer was selling off her vast collection as a kind of on-going pension. I can't recall the exact price of the book, but it was a gentile figure I'm sure.
Thursday, 10 July 2014
I found these Falke socks at a Cancer Research charity shop in Ealing, unworn and still in their original packaging. Falke is a German company founded in 1895; contemporary products, including gloriously coloured tights, are sold at Harrods, Harvey Nics, Neiman Marcus and other hoity-toity retailers. A wool/cotton mix, these socks are anatomically correct; there's a little 'L' on the left sock and 'R' on the right. In nearly every charity shop on the planet you'll find a basket of miscellaneous bits & bobs that the shop manager can't figure out how to display - that's where I found this fancy footwear. So step lively and start rummaging through baskets, boxes and bowls. These cost a pound a pair.
Wednesday, 9 July 2014
I found this handmade jewelry at Mary's Living and Giving shop at 2 The Green, Ealing. Fashioned from brass wire and polished tiger's eye stone, they've no markings so their story remains a secret. I imagine a young woman, maybe from Devon or the Kent coast, comes to London to work at a large law firm. While she's good at her job, within months of arriving she longs for the creative verve of home; her mother is a painter and her father fits out houseboats with custom-made cabinetry. In her youth she found her kooky, bo-ho family maddening so she turned to the stability of the law. But now she finds herself making jewelry that she sells from a stall at a Saturday flea market. This set was one of the first she ever made. She gave this and several other examples of her early work to charity shops when she received her first large order from a boutique on the Kings Road. She's keeping her karma in good order by giving back. I told you I'm prone to making up stories. These lovely flourishes, now full of fiction, were £6. That's a fact.
Tuesday, 8 July 2014
I found this ring in my mother's jewelry box. It's her high school class ring, a gift from my father, then her boyfriend. She graduated in '60, was married several years later and by '64 was welcoming into the world a baby daughter. My parents are no longer married but this ring recalls a time when they were young and in love. Chunky but nicely worn, it feels just right on my pinky finger. It's over 50 years old and still beautiful - a daily reminder that's never lost on me. My childhood was happy and carefree - I was 18 before my parents divorced - but trying to construct a single, unblemished memory of the two people who made me is tricky. They've now been apart longer than they were married, but together they're still my parents. I imagine the day my handsome, awkward father gave my stylish, lively mother this little circle of gold and the ring encompasses the three of us, if only for a moment. Do you have a fashion talisman for a time gone by?
Monday, 7 July 2014
I haven't bought new jeans in over 5 years. A key style item never bought new? Controversial, clever, crazy? In the past 10 years denim has shot up in price - £100, £200, even £300 for a pair of these casual trousers isn't unusual. Levi Strauss must be turning in his grave. Denim is a hard wearing fabric making it a perfect pre-owned find and these days styles are more versatile - we wear them rolled up, cuffed, faded, dark, ripped, frayed, straight, flared etc, etc. When I was in high school the rules around denim were so much stricter; you wore straight leg jeans, that dragged the ground, full stop. Long jeans were tricky for me, as I was 5'10", age 14. Now jeans are often worn to show off shoes making short denim not only acceptable, but au courant. When hunting, I seek out classic brands - Levis and Wrangler - but I try on nearly every decent pair of 2nd-hand jeans I find in my size. Fit is the key and often after someone else has stretched and washed a pair of jeans they end up perfect for me. The five pre-owned pairs here range in price from £8 to £20.
Tags: never buy new
Sunday, 6 July 2014
I found these Gucci loafers at The Black & White Shop, 21 Broad Street in Bath, UK. It's a great little place, featuring a mix of quality brands, vintage and just interesting stuff. It's primarily clothing but there are some fun housewares as well. On the staircase that leads up to a tiny men's department is shoe after shoe after shoe arranged nicely by size, although I spotted these classics in the front window. After you pop into The Black and White Shop, head just a half a block down the hill to The Pig and Fiddle, a laid back pub serving a pulled pork sandwich that's one of the best to ever cross my lips. The Gucci's were just £30.
Saturday, 5 July 2014
Is hunting on Ebay cheating? Yes, strictly speaking. The thrill of searching for pre-owned treasure is in the random, comme ci comme ca nature of an actual hunt. Virtual shopping is generally devoid of happy accidents as the laser beam accuracy of the Ebay search tool stifles the whirligig of chance. Don't get me wrong, I have a tidy list of items I search for on Ebay; Castaner espadrilles, Clergerie shoes, Marimekko, vintage Levis, 40s/50s neckties and shirt-waist dresses, among others. Often I'll find an item from my list that has potential but still isn't quite right (wrong size, price, colour, etc). Nonetheless I appreciate the seller's vibe; a photo and description is so intriguing that I click further to see what else the seller is offering. The hunt is on, randomness is reinstated. This handmade 'pipe cleaner' brooch was one of a pair found on Ebay. The other tiny lass, passed on to a friend, wore wide-legged trousers and wee green cropped top. The two cost £8.99.
Tags: 2nd-hand on-line
Friday, 4 July 2014
I found these toile de jouy cropped trousers at a road-side flea market on Anna Maria Island, Florida. Toile is a French word meaning 'canvas' or 'linen cloth,' and is traditionally a cotton fabric featuring French countryside scenes, often used for curtains and upholstery. These trousers however were designed by American Virginia VanOsdol founder of Town Toiles who creates patterns based on American life in places she loves, in the case of my crops, Nantucket. These really are a spectacular meeting of French tradition and bold Americana. You can find Town Toiles on-line at www.towntoiles.com, and while today the company makes home wares and fabrics, they don't appear to be making clothing anymore - these trousers are probably circa 1980s, given their high-waisted cut. I consider them a creative couture piece, wearable but nearly one-of-a-kind. They cost just $4. Oiu, Oiu!
Thursday, 3 July 2014
This is my mate Lucy wearing my fringy frock. And my Donna Karan coat. And carrying my little box bag. Geez she looks great, on her way to a fancy do. An actor - rich in talent, poor in cash - I offered her the chance to borrow rather than buy. So she popped round to my place a few weeks before the shindig, and over Campari and lemonades, I styled while she modeled. We were like something from the past brought forward enjoying boozy fun in the dressing up box. I'd a feeling her English Rose complexion would set this dress off a treat. I've always worn it with black tights but Lucy needn't hide her shapely pink pins. I'm tickled that my clothes had the chance to dance with another. Go on, lend your frock to a friend; both will be eternally grateful. You can find Lucy on Spotlight www.spolight.com71168703312
Wednesday, 2 July 2014
I found this red hat at a Trinity Hospice charity shop, 16 Bute Street, London, SW7 3EX - a well-stocked establishment near South Ken tube station. Aren't I every bit a modern day Minnie Pearl, the country music singer and comedian who always wore her hat with the price tag still in evidence? (I've removed it since.) This topper is fashioned from thin strips of leather, and is the work of famed milliner Patricia Underwood. Examples of Underwood's hats are included in the permanent collection at The Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute, proof that iconic fashion pieces are well worth collecting. A stylish thing to wear now, this scarlet chapeau is also a fantastic item to pass on to a daughter or niece and would easily re-sell for more than the purchase price. Underwood's hats have appeared in the films Sex in the City 2, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Sabrina. I find the shape of this hat reminiscent of those worn by Molly Ringwald a la Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink. I paid £15 for it.
Tuesday, 1 July 2014
This graphic vintage silk scarf was a birthday gift from my friend Monica; she's a fellow hunter, schooled in the promise of pre-owned. Living in NYC, she searches for finds that suit her understated cool lux look. This scarf was designed by Richard Allan; an employee of scarf maker Jacqmar, he bought the company in the mid 50s, giving it his name. Jacqmar was originally a London company that supplied silk fabric to Paris couture houses. The management realized they could make scarves (and profits) from off-cuts, and a classic was born. Look out for scarves marked with either name, they are becoming highly collectible.