1932 Lincoln Judkins Coupe Hood Ornament

2014 Lake Mirror Auto Classic

“As far as I’m concerned, clothes shouldn’t make women into stereotypes; they should represent us, express what we really are. Traveling influences me, as do ballets, books, music, encounters with other people; in fact, just about everything influences me except what I see in the fashion world.”

–Alix Petit, creator of Heimstone

 

1934 Buick 60 Series Coupe Hood Ornament

1934 Buick 60 Series Coupe Hood Ornament

I love my glossies as much as the next shoe-obsessed girl, but there’s one source of style inspiration that the glossies, with all of their (coveted) glitz and glamour, can’t top–and that’s life. Usually, I am most enduringly influenced by the same sources as Ms. Petit, and this month, inspiration came in the form of the 2014 Lake Mirror Auto Classic in central Florida.

Rivets prompt me to add a bit more metal to this fall's outfits.

Rivets prompt me to add a bit more metal to this fall’s outfits.

For a girl who generally passes over details like broccoli on the way to a chocolate factory, I sure do have an affinity for them in clothes, dwellings, and cars, and it was the detail that caught my eye at this month’s show, inspiring some aspect of every ensemble as of late.

1938 Bugatti Type 57C

This 1938 Bugatti Type 57C makes me want to add a dose of rich cognac to every ensemble.

The Auto Classic showcases everything from American muscle to British roadsters, but every year finds me lingering over the exotics and Pre-war models.

Morgan Hood

Details such as hood ornaments and gear shifts conjure up the grace and elegance of bygone eras, driving the desire for those elements in my current wardrobe.

So if you notice me eschewing sporty pool slides and cheeky sweatshirts in favor of smooth leathers and shiny metals this season, don’t be surprised. Art imitates life (or perhaps vice versa?).

 

 

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Stationery Stalker

Earlier this week, I shared my recent desk “do-over.” In my pursuit of the perfect desk setup, I turned (as I so often do) to a life of voyeurism for inspiration. In the spirit of sharing my naughty habits, here are some of my favorite “famous” desks—which one inspires you?

Alison Rubke, Frou Frou Fashionista

Alison Rubke, Frou Frou Fashionista

Peonies are my favorite flower, and I love the grown-up-girliness of this set-up.

Mary McDonald's study, featured in Domino Magazine

Mary McDonald’s study, featured in Domino Magazine

 The bold glamour of McDonald’s study–couldn’t you spend all day here?

Hemingway's study in his Key West home

Hemingway’s study in his Key West home

 The cross breeze in Hemingway’s office is divine; the perfect morning writing spot (rumored by house tour guides to be Hemingway’s favorite time to write in this home).

Nate Berkus' New York home office

Nate Berkus’ New York home office

High-gloss black lacquer? Yes, please, and thank you.

I’m Gonna Sit Right Down | And write myself a letter

An understated palette of black, white, lucite, and metallics keeps the overall look calm and refined.

An understated palette of black, white, lucite, and metallics keeps the overall look calm and refined.

Does having an organized desk make me more productive? I don’t know, but it definitely makes me happy.

Having a desk that suits your personality can make sitting down to work feel a lot less like, well, work. I like seeing everything I need–sketchpads, journals, articles, notecards–at a glance and being able to immediately put my hands on it; I don’t work well with papers piled up haphazardly. To help me get more organized and actually look forward to sitting down at my desk, I’ve been doggedly searching for some glamorous desk accessories for the past few months.

 

Desk File Folders

Gold polka dot file folders by Kate Spade add a touch of whimsy.

My challenge with both clothes and home accessories is that I live in an apartment and love a minimalistic look, so every thing I purchase must earn the space it occupies. After trial and error with a few stationery brands and home supply stores, I finally found my dream desk organizer at Anthropologie in the form of a hefty lucite collator. Unlike trays, collators organize things in a vertical fashion, so I can thumb through recent articles, journaling supplies, and notecards in a flash. Bonus: this collator has handles carved into the endpieces, so on a whim I can move my supplies a different area for more artistic pursuits.

 

Desk Flowers

“I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.” –Emma Goldman

A silver dish for assorted sundries (flash drives, stamps, paper clips, and the like) keeps company with a lucite pen holder for maximum versatility. Even file folders are chosen with particular care, and the seemingly frivolous brass quail (picked up on a random trip to Goodwill) has an important purpose. It’s my equivalent to Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s “broken tip of a conch”—something tactile to fiddle with when my conscious brain is “stuck.”

To me, desk supplies are like an exquisitely unusual lining of a jacket or handbag—they may not be visible to many more people than the wearer, but just a glimpse of them can bring a smile to your face.

 

Paper Pusher

name crossed out

When was the last time you wrote a note? No, a Post-It doesn’t count (although it’s better than nothing).

Since the advent of smartphones and tablets, handwritten missives have largely fallen by the wayside. I’d an inkling (no pun intended) of how rare and special handwritten notes were becoming when I’d walk into acquaintances’ offices and see my colorfully jotted “Thinking of You”s tacked to their bulletin boards, but I didn’t realize just how out of habit many of us are until a concerned friend approached me about a personal note she had received from me. It seems the slash I drew through my last name at the top of the note caused her to think I had changed my name and was using up my old cards.

And who could blame her? We’ve become so reliant on text messaging and accustomed to signing our name on phone screens these days that signing our name to an actual piece of paper requires accessing that dusty region of the mind that also houses information on sending a fax or playing a CD.

As a result, notes are a great way to stand out in a sea of electronic communiqués. They say, “I took the time to write this down, to find a stamp in the craziness that is my handbag, and to look for an actual mailbox, because you’re that important to me.” Apparently, we’re missing that feeling of special-ness, because letter- and note-writing have experienced a recent resurgence—to the point where entire clubs are formed around writing and sending them.

Some Note-writing Basics

  • Invest in special notecards. I prefer personalized ones printed on heavy stock, purchased at my local stationer. These might seem a little expensive at the outset, but I find they usually come out to $.50- $.75 per card. I use my cards for all my written communication (even birthdays and anniversaries, etc.), so the comparison of 75 cents to the $5.00 I might spend on a card at Target ends up being very cost-effective (plus, it saves me time and stress because I’m not running out to the drugstore at the last minute 2 days before someone’s birthday). If monogramming isn’t your thing, there are plenty of companies like Kate Spade and Rifle Paper Company that are dedicated to creating high-quality stationery products with flair.
  • Get a decent pen Seriously. Life is too short to write with a nickel pen. My favorites are LePen. I like to think of my pen as infusing my voice into my written words.
  • Shell out a little cash for a roll of stamps. I have a few of them stashed in my wallet, in my car, in the envelope of stationery I carry in my work bag, and the remainders go in stamp roll box on my desk. That way, I’m never without one when I need it.
  • I once read that Princess Diana would set out a notecard and an addressed envelope before she attended a soiree. When she arrived back home from the party, she was able to compose a thoughtful thank-you to the host before going to bed (while all the delightful happenings were still fresh in her mind), which I assume was promptly sent out the next day. Embracing this concept has helped me avoid procrastination in note writing on more than one occasion.
  • Where do you write notes? Put your stationery where it can be quickly and easily accessed. This is another thing that will increase your odds of sending a timely note (I have some on my desk at home, in my work bag, and in a pile on my desk at work).
  • One of the best resources I’ve found for learning how to write notes is On a Personal Note: A Guide to Writing Notes with Style. I purchased mine through Hallmark some time ago,but Amazon now carries used copies–well worth the price.

My Instagram friend @papertams is a serious paper aficionado who, believe it or not, exceeds my affinity for note writing. She was kind enough to discuss with us some tips and resources for those intereseted in resuscitating the lost art of written personal correspondence.

 

Pen Pal Groups I Use:

  • Letter Writers Alliance
  • International Geek Girls Pen Pal Club
  • Postcrossing (this is great for people that love mail, but don’t want to write long letters. Postcrossing is about exchanging postcards all over the world and only require you to write a couple sentences on the card)

 

Trends in Snail Mail:

  • Handmade envelopes and mail art – Grab your washi tape, rubber stamps and stickers! Half the fun is decorating your mail. (Tons of inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest)
  • Sending extras – Tucking a little something extra into a letter is popular. This is usually something lightweight like a paper craft, a bookmark, a tea bag and napkin or a few fun paper clips.
  • Letter Writing Socials – People get together in a social settings and share stationery supplies, write letters and craft mail art. Socials that allow participants to utilize vintage typewriters are popular right now.
  • Swaps – Many pen pals will participate in mail swaps. Especially international pen pals. They will swap candy, crafts, and stationery products from their country. It is planned ahead and participants normally agree on how much they are willing to spend.

 

Tips and Advice:

  • If you decide you want to write to people outside your family and close friends, I highly recommend renting a P.O. Box for a couple of reasons.
    • Most pen pal groups will require you to provide an address. For privacy reasons, I believe it’s best to use a P.O. Box.
    • There are many snail mail fans that love to share photos of their incoming and outgoing mail on Instagram and blogs. It’s fun and I, myself, enjoy this. Most people do use proper etiquette and hide all address info, however I have seen the occasional slip where someone forgot to cover up an address or someone new to snail mail is so excited they upload a photo without thinking.
  • Set a mail budget and stick to it. If you fall in love with letter writing, the costs can easily snowball on you. Make sure you know the current postage costs and rules for domestic and international mail. Plan ahead.
  • Don’t expect everyone to write back instantly or at all. To give you an idea of my return rate, I sent out 100 pieces of mail over the summer. I received about 40 pieces in return. So make sure the act of writing letters and sending mail is something you really enjoy.
  • If a new pen pal asks you to participate in a mail swap, make sure they send their parcel first. If you ask a pen pal to swap, be prepared to send your parcel first. Unfortunately, there are people out there that love to receive and not send. So, the requester is often expected to send first.
Receiving a thoughtfully written note is such a rarity; why not put a little spark in someone’s day by sending them one now?

The Eyes Have It

This is going to seem like a strange piece of beauty advice coming from a girl who once purchased a palette of eyeliner powders and used only the brown, but I’m telling you—I swear by well-shaped eyebrows.

Perhaps it’s my Italian heritage (a Korean friend’s mom once told me I could be a model in South Korea because of my hairy arms), or my hair stylist’s intensity of belief in the difference it makes (“I love eyebrows!”), but such a seemingly small detail as having your brows shaped consistently can really change the overall look of your facial features.

However, don’t take my word for it—hop on Pinterest and search that ageless Italian beauty, Sophia Loren, and see if you don’t agree with me. Loren’s brows range at times from delicate to downright solid (I personally prefer them on the stronger side), but they never fail to frame her features perfectly.

Sophia Loren

Here are my five steps to perfect brows:

  1. Stop someone on the street whose brows you love (perfect strangers included).
  2. Tell them you love their brows and ask where they get theirs done.
  3. Immediately whip out your phone and make an appointment with said brow magician.
  4. Keep appointment (that’s a key step) and tip generously (because this person’s work is about to get you major compliments).
  5. Smile, because you are ferocious.

The Eyes Have It - 3

Now that you’ve been inspired by your amazing brows, try this simple but stunning look worn at the Spring-Summer 2014 Jason Wu Show. Or the incredibly polished cat eye seen at the Yves Saint Laurent Show.