Party in the Front

As a companion piece to E-Jo’s Mullet Skirt, I give you: the Reverse Mullet Skirt.

(Wow.  It turns out I own two of these.)

Navy jersey reverse mullet with large black dots: from a Scandinavian shop in London during the summer sales

Brown-and-brown brogues: Fluevog (my first pair!)

Grey pin-striped linen skirt with awkwardly-placed pocket: Comrags

Blue suede shoes: Hobbs

This way, admirers can gaze longingly at the backs of my knees as I swan out of the room, which I do a lot.

Do you iron linen? I don’t.

NSFW: Thinking Cap

Later this week I am meeting up with my IPF and other grad school colleagues to attend the wedding of Dr. Rinty the Crusher and The Librarian.  I will be trying not to look too awesome so as not to upstage the bride (impossible due to her loveliness) but it is going to be difficult because I will be wearing this:

This is not a photograph of me but of the brilliant hat designer and builder, who has the most amazing Etsy shop, but she and I have the same hair so you get the idea.  I’m planning to look at least as kicky and alluring as she though I’m going to need someone to help me with my eyeliner.  I considered doing a trial run with my new topper when I gave my final exams recently–you know, call it a thinking cap–and I think many of my students would have loved the gesture but I work at a fairly small university and the likelihood of running into the Dean, who I’m pretty sure thinks I’m a little too quirky, is high so I resisted.

I regret that decision.

On Shopping: Ca$hmere, or why I’m not shopping at J.Crew anymore

A couple of months ago, in a rare move outside of my black cardi comfort zone, I bought this cashmere cardi online at J.Crew:

It was on sale, there was some kind of further promotion that may or may not have involved free shipping (rare to Canada) and I had long admired the colour and cut of these very cardigans in action on the exquisite and (sadly) now defunct  blog Orchids in Buttonholes.

When it arrived I was mildly disappointed that the colour was not quite what had been represented on-line–I was expecting a wine-dark purple and this is more grape juice than wine–but that is the nature of the beast of on-line shopping.  And it is still a lovely colour.  And the cut and the pearly buttons are just 50s enough to thrill me to the core.  In fact, the first time I wore it, with a pencil skirt of course, one of my colleagues remarked on my Mad Men aesthetic.  Dorky FTW, or so I thought.

After a single wearing, and not even a long day’s wear, there was a lot of pilling.  Too much for the price tag, even the sale price tag, of the sweater.  So I made enquiries at J.Crew and was told that pilling is a natural process for natural fibres.

Bullshit, J.Crew.  Do you think I’m some kind of idiot?  Pilling might be inevitable with natural fibres, but tightness of weave and knit in quality products should prevent pilling for some time.  And this amount of pilling after one wear is unacceptable.  The sweater, now a couple of months old, is so covered in pills that it looks shabby.

J.Crew has lost my custom.  And not just because of this experience, though this sealed the deal.  Items on the Canadian site are more expensive, apparently because the company is offloading the cost of producing a French site onto the consumer, but I am more bothered by the fact that J.Crew does not allow for customer reviews.  Had I known that this sweater would pill like it did, I would not have bought it, even on sale.  Little wonder that they want their customers to remain silent.

We are breaking up, J.Crew.  It was a very brief fling that began with your giddy entree into the Canadian market but this Canadian is worth more than you have to offer.*

But there is some good news.  I have had nothing but great customer service from Golightly Cashmere** (who I found thanks to a review on Passage des Perles).

I’ve had this Golightly Cashmere hat for two years.  I wear it every day of the winter and still no pilling. It’s really hard to take a picture of yourself in a hat, as it turns out.

I’ve had these Golightly Cashmere Arm Warmers for about the same amount of time.  I wear them almost everyday, indoors and out.  No pilling.  Plus hipster cred. And warm zombie arms.

Both Amid Privilege and Passage des Perles swear by Brora and Eric Bompard.  Not much more expensive than the full-price cardis at J.Crew and probably well worth the extra.  I’m saving up, and waiting for the sales.

Because I’m worth it.

Did you miss me StyleNation?

* To be fair, I don’t hate this shirt.

**This is an independent endorsement.  Golightly Cashmere doesn’t even know I blog.  Neither does my Mum.

Especially for you …

A post for our friend on the interwebs who’s having a rough year off the interwebs:

Homemade pickled things.  Because we would learn to pickle things just for you.

Homemade Pickled Things

Because you like to knit.

And isn’t there something so pleasing about skeins of wool in wooly colours?

Because you would rock these shoes!  Scallops!  Stripey heel!

 Because they’re cupcakes.  Do we really need to explain cupcakes?

Because it’s a clean, well-lighted place with the promise of a tropical drink.

And maybe a cabana boy …

Hang in there, our brilliant, stylin’ friend!  We’ve got your back.

Dispatches from London: Retail Therapy

Today I bought another pair of shoes.  From a fellow medievalist working in a shop.

It turns out the extremely charming Italian salesman had recently interviewed at the large research institution just up the road from the smaller college where I teach and had just completed a PhD in medieval Persian literature at UCL.  He is way smarter and has a much better academic pedigree than I.

This was one of those days–and there are many–when I wonder how I have a job at all.  I am lucky to get to spend my days in archives and my evenings at the theatre.  And my Sunday afternoon at Laduree with an old friend and violet-scented macarons.  And my nights  prowling the Thames in search of sleep in one of my favourite cities in the world.  I am lucky to have the job I have.

But I could just as easily be working in a shop too. I spent a miserable year in the late 80s working at Laura Ashley and looking like a flower garden had barfed all over me.  In fact, I wore a very similar pair of brogues to the ones I bought today with lace tights and a square-necked, puffy-sleeved, corduroy floral frock, with my spiral-permed hair caught up in a huge-ass velvet bow.  I was dreadful at retail.  It is a very trying job.    
I might work hard, at both the job I had before and the one I have now, but I don’t work harder than anybody else.  And hard work doesn’t mean I deserve this job anymore than anyone else.  And sometimes I wonder if I deserve it less … which is what keeps me up at night.  
Luckily there are deeply-discounted, Italian-made, kitten-soft, blue suede shoes that come medievalist-approved.  
I might sleep in them tonight. 

The Fool on the Hill

I went to a conference a few weeks ago that was on a beautiful university campus located on the side of a mountain.
Well, a hill, but a very steep hill. With a swiftly-flowing river at the bottom of it.
I wore this:
Black Shirt: J. Crew
Black Checked Skirt: All Saints
Camel Shoes: Stuart Weitzman

Photo Bomber: Vampire Cat








Paper Topic: collection of fifteenth-century East Anglian female saints’ lives (Sort of makes you wish you knew me IRL, doesn’t it?)

I blame the conference organisers for not mentioning that a pencil skirt and heels, while wholly appropriate for disseminating research in a public forum, is not appropriate wear for the mountainous terrain of the campus.  I nearly broke a lot of parts of myself going uphill in this Killer Outfit.  And then again, going downhill toward the swiftly-flowing river.

What do you do when your outfit might actually kill you?  

Black Cardigans Anonymous

My name is Dorky and I love black cardigans.
If Coco Chanel counsels that we should remove one item of jewellery before we leave the house, lest we seem overdressed, Dorky Medievalist counsels that we should slip into a black cardigan before we leave the house, lest we seem underdressed.
(What?  It’s not weird that I speak of myself in the third person.  It is, after all, only a persona.)

Black cardigans are the foundation and the signature of many of my outfits.  
Here is a tour of a few that I am currently rocking:

The Indispensable
This has a matching shell and skirt, which I wore for the second day of my interview for my current job.  The model might be wearing it better than I but would you trust her to teach you Middle English or make you a sandwich? 

( Hint: your answer should be “No.”)
Edgy Modernist in my department has the same twin set.  I would be lying if I said this didn’t make me feel just a little bit more awesome.
Black Cardigan: Comrags
Black Shell: Comrags

The Casual Acquaintance
Perfect three-quarter sleeves, cotton jersey and casual snaps.  
Snap indeed.  Black cardigan, you complete me.

Black Cardigan:  Cotton Ginny (from A-Dubs)
Graphic Tee: We walk

The Feminino
This was the first thing I ever bought from J. Crew, now in Canada.  
It pilled immediately after the first wearing; I’m underwhelmed, Jenna, underwhelmed.
Black Cardigan: J. Crew
Brown Tank: Jacob

The Twin Cherries
And I’m not talking about my boobs.  You didn’t know I was also a hipster, did you? 

Black Cardigan: Rock Steady
Grey-and-Black T-shirt: Gap

The Old Friend
This is a cashmere blend and cable-y.  
It is neither style-y nor shapely but someone always remarks on how great this sweater is.  
They are right.
Black Cardigan: Park Vogel
Top: Calvin Klein

The New Friend

A colleague of mine gave me this and she always notes how much she likes how I wear it when I wear it.
Black cardigans can make you friends.
Black Cardigan: Banana Republic, swapped
Turtleneck: Park Vogel
The Dark Horse
Or not-as-dark horse.  Baby steps, StyleNation, baby steps.
Grey Cardigan: Club Monaco
Pink Sweater: Banana Republic
Are you so freakishly loyal to a single item of clothing that you keep buying versions of it over and over again?  
Black cardigans are awesome, right?

Champagne Tastes: Wolford Marlene Tights

You already know how much I love tights, but these are a cut above:

One of my colleagues actually owns a pair of these and so I have seen them in person and they are absolutely divine.

And I don’t even like nude tights. I don’t even like to say “nude tights.”  It sounds unseemly.  (You see what I did there, right?)

How I would wear them: Definitely with a simple black pencil skirt that perfectly skims my knee at its prettiest and narrowest point.  Definitely after some kind of calf-defining calisthenics.
And definitely with a pair of Christian Louboutin Helmut pumps.

That I also do not own.

Reasons to hesitate:  If I laddered them–and, let’s face it, of course I (or the Vampire Cat) would ladder them–I would be distraught to the point of distraction and I would never be able to get any work done.  Can you imagine if I didn’t get tenure because I laddered my stockings?  That would be unseemly.  (You definitely saw what I did there, right?)

But here’s my question about Wolford tights:  are they worth the price of admission?  I have plenty of pairs of inky black, non-sheer, non-shiny, practically indestructible cotton tights (Life brand from Shoppers D) that cost less than $10 a pair.  They aren’t Wolford Matte Opaque 80 but they still achieve that Edie Sedgwick je ne sais quoi at a fraction of the cost.  What is the siren call of Wolford?

Of course, the Marlene tights are a whimsical work of art and maybe that’s enough to make you want to stop your ears. You know, those of you who don’t live with a psychotic cat.
Do you have a pair of Wolford tights?  Are they worth it? 

N.B. Wolford has not compensated me in any way for this post because, really, my legs are not those legs.  And Christian Louboutin doesn’t even know I have feet.