Life at the bottom of the Fashion Caste

Travel

Birthday Bash

Okay, so officially I’ve been 20 years old (young, I’d like to say!) for three weeks now. But I thought I’d post a recap of my really great birthday weekend just for fun.

A few weeks ago, P and I took a day trip up to Duluth, MN for some much-needed away time.

We also went to pick up my extremely amazing birthday gift! P got me a Duluth Pack, a world-renowned brand that campers, hikers, scholars, and your run of the mill hipsters have adored for over a hundred years. Their products are guaranteed for life and made exclusively at their shop in Duluth.

For ttylusa’s first edition of the now-weekly Kitties and Pretties, we went to shoot some pictures at Enger Tower (below), a park at the highest point in Duluth. It was a perfectly crisp, cool fall day.

Look at the incredible views! It was raining over in the south western part of Duluth, cool huh?

We weren’t there for long, however, when a sudden storm blew in from the lake and rained us out.

Afterwards, we took a great drive up Highway 61 along the coast of Lake Superior which has some outstanding views (above!). We took a late supper at an incredible restaurant called Pickwick’s; the meal was exquisite.

Besides the tantalizing menu, Pickwick’s is a great place to grab a bite as it’s story is entrenched in Duluth’s interesting history. It’s a little fuzzy but check out the picture of the night prohibition was repealed in 1932; the pub section still looks exactly the same. I love thinking of the droves of people who have passed in and out of this restaurant over the years. I’m a history nerd, what can I say?

After dinner we drove back home tucked inside of our cozy car, amid a deluge of rain.

On my actual birthday, I went to breakfast with my family at a favorite cafe and was later treated to tea and apple pie at home. Sometimes I feel a little too old for birthday gifts but my parents got me the complete French and Spanish editions of Living Language (similar to, and arguably better than, Rosetta Stone).

I was thrilled because I plan to one day enroll in the master class at Lesage in Paris to learn tambour from the legends whose work you see in collections from Balmain to Oscar de la Renta. Obviously that won’t be for at least four years but I’m going to start brushing up on my French in preparation!

At this point in my life, I adore birthdays. I use them as an excuse to be indulgent, spend time with friends and family, and maybe, just mayyybe, splurge a little on a shopping spree. What are your birthday traditions? Are you one of those paint the town red types? The hide under your covers, wear all black, pretend it didn’t happen types? Join the conversation in the comments below!

ttyl,

Maria Nichole

All photos courtesy of Peter Elliott Eaton


Kitties and Pretties: First Edition

Today I’m revealing to the world something that, up until now, I’ve only hinted at here and there. Think what you may, but aside from being a serious student, a lover of all things literary, fashion, film, and craft, I am also deeply pleased by the subject of this post: kitties and pretties!

It’s exactly what it sounds like, an absolutely indulgent, hilarious, wonderful subject that is simply a way to have some visual fun with this blog and throw a hefty dose of cuteness into the world amidst a whole lot of really bummer subjects. Enjoy!

Above, a box full of vintage earrings, all recently found and upcycled from clip-ons. Also seen are some vintage bracelets. A new favorite of mine has one of the ten commandments punched onto each charm; I can’t get enough of the kitschy Sunday school vibes.  It’s also proof that I never hesitate to add an element of humour to my outfits — I told you I’m a jewellery addict! And now for this week’s kitty…

Above is one of my favorite little kitties, Nola, a resident of P’s new house. She was adopted for free from an ad on Craigslist but everyone thinks she’s a Bengal. I love her to death because she’s so smart! She’ll play fetch for hours. See below for more pretties pictures.

Above, a vintage strawberry pin.

Well there you have it! Next up: the full scoop on my most excellent birthday weekend.

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


The Great American Road Trip Day Four: Omaha, NE

We finally made it to Omaha! I thought Iowa would never end. But seriously.

All you need to know about Iowa in one picture. Beautiful? Yes. Exciting? Not one bit.

Last night we camped out at North Overlook Campground on Lake Red Rock in Iowa. We didn’t get all of our gear set up until 3am–P and I are obviously novice campers.

 

The next morning we made a delicious campfire breakfast of eggs and potatoes and jumped in the lake for a swim before heading off to Omaha.

Here we’re staying with P’s grandpa Richard. The first thing he said as we trampled through his door in desperate search of air conditioning was, “Oh good, I was hoping you’d make it in time fore mass!” So off we went, sweat, lake-water-hair and all to my first Catholic mass just three blocks from Richard’s house.

Besides the overwhelming religious undertones, I am thrilled that we got to visit with Richard. He has had such an incredible life: a child of the dust bowl, a world-traveling member of the air force and navy during and after WWII, successful doctor, father of seven, and loyal husband.

He graciously took us to dinner and I insisted on hearing his stories of London life shortly after the blitz. Turns out he lived in a hotel for a few weeks very near where I lived last semester in the Royal Borough of Kensington. It’s exciting to think that we’ve both walked down the same streets, connected in such a distant way.

P’s grandpa Richard (right) freshly out of med school with a friend.

Afterwards everyone was exhausted but I couldn’t hide my curiousity. P’s mother grew up in this house and it is saturated with memories of rich childhoods. Also, P’s grandmother Jean passed away over a decade ago but her clothes still hang in all the closets, making the space a quiet shrine to her memory. Portraits of her at glamourous dinner parties and family vacations throughout her life litter the walls and tabletops. She certainly was a fabulous woman. Every once in a while P’s mom will remember her as constantly emanating a JackieO vibe, American perfection in every way.

Jean and Richard

Turning down the bed in my (separate, naturally) bedroom, I couldn’t help but peel back the closet doors to see what remnants of this woman’s incredible wardrobe still remained. I was in the kid’s old room so not much to find, but this beautiful floral blazer and a very groovy chiffon dress. In a second closet was a gold mine of Richard’s tailored suits and amazing collection of Burberry oxford shirts. P’s grandma wasn’t the only one with a fine taste for clothing!

 

The best thing I found was this small book with a black and white picture of one of P’s aunts on the cover, arm and arm with a dashing young man. Inside was a picture of twenty or more debs, decked out in elbow-length gloves and white gowns for their Coming Out Ball. I couldn’t find a date or list of names of the girls, but the old glamour of this scenario still has me reeling. I love thinking that that night must have been such a milestone for those girls. I can’t wait to meet P’s aunt and ask her about the experience.

 

 

 

 

This fascination for generations past is the same motivation that pulls me toward the Victoria and Albert. I haven’t gotten anywhere near visiting all of the galleries and museums in London but whenever I find a spare hour or two, I constantly find myself gravitating toward the V&A. The collections never fail to tell a story, and I can’t resist the allure of the unknown. No matter how many times I wander its halls, I always find a room I’ve never seen before.

Next stop: Denver, CO

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


The Great American Roadtrip Day One: Chicago

The Great American Roadtrip has begun! We’ve just made it to our first stop, Chicago, IL.

Enter rush hour:

Currently over staying my welcome an open-air kitchen called Brett’s across from the Vale Gallery.

One thing that I love about this city is its true Midwestern roots. Here I feel comfortable tacking on my yes pleases and thank you very muches. Even the over-worked late-for-a-meeting power mom juggling the blackberry/iphone/ipad trifecta will always add a “please” after commanding soy in her latte (as just witnessed at Brett’s).

Even though it’s often overlooked, street style is alive and well in Chicago and the people know it. It may be more laid back than Milan or London, lots more business ladies in nice flats, professional guys loving the Naturalizer trend, but folks still look sharp in their way.

I’m always slightly baffled on the subject of the maxi dress. On a short frame, they drown me! Thus, I’ve sequestered these beautes to seaside vacays and cruiseliners. Thanks to the working women of Chicago, however, my mind has changed.

I saw hundreds of combinations of chic AND work-appropriate maxi dresses that beat the summer heat while remaining professional. I was so inspired, I had to make a Polyvore styleboard. Check it out below!

Next stop: Omaha, NE
ttyl,
Maria Nichole
MaxiRad

 


Snap dress / Alice + Olivia scoop neck dress, $195 / ASOS pointy toe flat / American Apparel kitten heel pumps / Hermes tote / Club Monaco clutch handbag / Rebecca Minkoff handbag / Mawi gem jewelry, $215 / Casio yellow gold jewelry, $61 / Tom Binns necklace, $1,475 / Mawi white pearl jewelry / Illesteva tortoise sunglasses, $255 / American Apparel round frame sunglasses / Club Monaco reversible belt

Vintage Adventure

In lieu of traveling all the way down to Chicago for the Rookie Road Trip stop at the Girls Rock! concert, Lois Louis and I decided our time might be better spent scouring the racks of the Twin Cities’ best vintage shops.

Wandering through our first shop of the day, Go Vintage!

This shop was INCREDIBLE. It was absolutely stuffed to the brim with an enormous selection all organized by waistline and era. There were more hats than I could count, and the small store was complete with an entire closet full of “please ask for assistance, don’t touch” clothes dating back to the early 1800s. The sales girl was sweet, not too pushy, not aloof either. Lois Louis and I agreed, she had a good vibe about her, a true vintage lover.

I was so tempted by this gorgeous wicker purse with brown leather flaps and an adorable red bandana-patterned inner lining. Too bad I couldn’t bear to pay $55 for it. I had a feeling there would be better things to come.

If you have the bucks, or if you’re in the mood to browse, we definitely recommend Go Vintage. Find it here:

1560 Selby Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104 (651) 646-4455

The aforementioned sweet salesgirl pointed us down the street to our next stop, Lula’s. Here we found another wide array of well-cared for garments. The racks were pretty packed, however, which made it slightly difficult to search.

I did end up trying on an adorable denim dress that literally fit like a glove. I’ve never had such luck with the fit of a vintage piece. Was I smart enough to fork over the $35 for this gem? Nope. And I still regret it. Hindsight and all that, but now I realize that I couldn’t find a dress that fit that well even if I paid three times that amount. Good call, Maria. Seriously.

If you’re a size 0-2 and in the neighborhood, snatch it up before someone else does! Check out Lula’s here:

1587 Selby Avenue  Saint Paul, MN 55104 (651) 644-4110

Next we moved on to a joint called Everyday People, which boasts two locations, another in Uptown Minneapolis. It turned out to be less of a vintage shop and more of a consignment store. Nothing of note was found here, except some salespeople with a great love of Sam Cooke. If you want some used yesterday goods, visit:

1599 Selby Avenue  Saint Paul, MN 55104 (651) 644-4410

Our next spot on the list was the Savers between Selby and Uptown. Savers? you may be asking. Yes, Savers. Lois Louis and I have had the best of luck with the ever-stocked vintage section of our hometown Savers and we couldn’t wait to search through the sure-to-be-bigger section of the Minneapolis Savers.

Unfortunately, this Savers was bigger. Much, much, bigger. Overwhelmingly so. And without a substantial vintage section. We only lasted about ten minutes after half-heartedly sifting through their so-so jewellery section. We needed sustenance and a smaller selection.

If you have the time, patience, and hand sanitizer required to bear this massive second hand heaven, be their guest!

2124 East Lake Street Minneapolis (612) 729-9271

We agreed on one more stop before refueling for lunch. We ended up at Tatters Alternative Clothing, a confusing mix of new dresses and smelly used combat-style boots. A uniquely patterned (fancy-dress ladies drinking wine) polyester button-down was purchased and then we referred to the man behind the counter for a good, vegetarian friendly, place to eat.

He directed us to the Bryant-Lake Bowl, a bowling alley, bar, and cinema combo just around the corner. For such a cobbled together place, they did their best to source all of their veggies and meat from local farmers, which anyone can appreciate. And to further their credit, their chef makes a mean bowl of fresh tofu pad thai which was big enough to split and devoured nonetheless. Go there for a friendly atmosphere but inattentive wait staff.

810 West Lake Street  Minneapolis, MN 55408 (612) 825-8949

Afterwards, we were ready for some consistency in both sizing and air conditioning so we opted for the Uptown Urban Outfitters which was expectedly over-priced and hip but ultimately a good choice.

We didn’t end up hitting all of our destinations and I didn’t actually buy anything except gas and food. Next time we’ll definitely make a stop at Via’s Vintage on South Hennepin which was closed by the time we got there! Such a bummer. But overall, it was a successful day, which ended with the Hudson Fourth of July Fair, which we accidentally stumbled into.

Let me know if you’ve been to any other vintage shops in the Midwest that are worth the drive! I can’t quench this thirst!

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


Midsummer Muses

Image

image from karentorrisibeading.com.au

In preparation for my first semester at Central Saint Martins this fall, I’ve taken to indulging my crafty side. Check out the project I’m in the midst of right now:

(photo to come shortly)

Binge-ing on DIY sites and sifting through Youtube videos day after day, I have finally found something incredible. I had never heard of tambour beading until yesterday, and now I absolutely must try my hand at the amazing art form. It kind of seems like a dying technique, not many people know how to do it anymore. Even still, no machine has been able to match the intricacy and detail as a hand-embroidered tambour piece which is even cooler!

The art has been pioneered by French atelier Lesage and Co. They’re who you can credit the five plus digit prices to on anything involving beads, sequins, and haute couture. Case in point, this video:

And also this one:

Thanks to Professor Robert Haven from the University of Kentucky, I plan on taking a full tambour embroidery course from a friend of his in Kent once I return to England this fall. I CANNOT wait. In the meantime all I can do is drool over google images and dream up what kind of awesome creations I’ll be able to whip up. With lots of practice, of course.

ttyl,

Maria Nichole