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Summer kicks

restrepo shoes at Jumelle

Here is the pair of shoes I most want this summer, staring back at me from the always-tempting window of Jumelle on Bedford Ave in Brooklyn.

Not that any of you noticed, but I usually write about books on Tuesdays.

I am straying from that path today, however, because I was so completely distracted by the above pair of shoes (seen in the window of Jumelle, a neighborhood favorite in the style dept.) Suddenly, all I can think about is the fact that it is finally warm, Memorial Day is upon us, and I can finally trade in my wool Adidas hightops for some cute summer kicks.

And the above pictured Dieppa Restrepo loafers are on the top of my list. Because they’ve got a little color whilst remaining neutral… a little pattern but you can wear them with anything.

But, of course, there are other contenders.

robert clergerie loafer

Neutral airy platform… what’s not to love about these Clergerie loafers?

Like these Robert Clergerie espadrille/loafers I spotted at Bird. All easy breezy with a platform to make you feel like you have something special going on without the least bit of discomfort that a heel might serve up.

bensimon tennis sneakers

The shoe that every cool french girl wears whilst strolling along the shores of the Riviera…

And then there is the classic Bensimon tennis elastic sneaker, which, to be honest, I don’t think would be all that good for actual tennis playing. But they will do quite nicely between the farmer’s market and the beach…

IX Style sandals

These sandals, by IX Style, are handcrafted in Guatemala by female artisans.

Last but certainly not least, these Huarache sandals won’t break the bank ($89!) PLUS a portion of your cash goes to helping impoversihed kids get clean drinking water. What’s not to love about that?

(Oh and of course there’s the new pair of Tretorns I have yet to buy…)

The shorts of my dreams

Tess Giberson shorts

Here I am, on Mother’s Day, actually, wearing the shorts of my dreams, by Tess Giberson.

I am flat out boring when it comes to shorts. Or maybe I should say classic. But I will tell you, when it comes to this summertime staple, I generally skew early 60′s prepster, choose one pair, and wear them for years (like 10 or 12) till they are threadbare.

Once said favorite shorts are no longer presentable, I save them, swearing I’m going to get a tailor to remake them, (like that’s ever going to happen) and then begin the search for my next pair.

Tess Giberson Spring/Summer 2014. Photo via Style.com

Tess Giberson Spring/Summer 2014. Photo via Style.com

A year ago, I ripped a huge hole in my last pair (remember the ones Proenza Schouler did for Target a few years back?) and I have been adrift ever since. That is, until I saw the most perfect shorts ever, in my all time favorite color of kelly green, striding down the runway in Tess Giberson’s Spring 2014 show. This was highly unexpected, as the word preppy is about as far from an appropriate adjective as one can get for Tess, and yet they were perfectly at home, sleek and simple, in the midst of a collection that in fact took much of it’s inspiration from the classic WASP style.

Hooray!! Problem solved! Until I went to place my order and discovered that, as not enough stores seemed interested, that style was not going to be produced. SO ANNOYING and shortsighted of retailers everywhere who clearly do not understand a great thing when it is hanging there in front of them. So I patiently waited till the sample sale, when I would hopefully get my hands on the pair from the show.

Well, the Tess Giberson Sample Sale came and went, and the shorts, which were about to leap into my waiting arms, were taken off the rack and sent to some magazine in the UK that requested them for a shoot. Supposedly the shorts would be mine when they were returned, but I was fairly certain I’d never see them again.

So while I didn’t give up hope entirely, I began to look around for other potential candidates…

Opening Ceremony's water print shorts.

Opening Ceremony’s water print shorts.

From Opening Ceremony’s own line come these crazy print denim shorts, evidently inspired by OC founders Humberto and Carol’s LA upbringing (which worries me a bit about kids growing up in the City of Angels.) Good shape, but a bit short for a woman of my… um… maturity level, lets just say.

christophe lemaire shorts

These linen Christophe Lemaire shorts are a good mix of style and comfort…

I checked over at Bird, which always has something I can’t leave behind, and saw these black linen shorts by Christophe Lemaire. Linen is always a nice touch, and the length is good. I almost brought these home, but I am personally still holding out for a more tailored look.

J Crew shorts

These J Crew shorts are kind of for when I die and come back as an English schoolboy.

Which brings us to J Crew… the obvious go to when it comes to classic style. And these shorts are almost perfect (in fact they might make the ideal back up pair, come to think of it) Really the only problem is that I was looking for a sort of medium length pair, as I’d been wearing Bermuda style shorts for the past 15 years and want a bit of a change.

And then the email of happiness landed in my inbox, resulting in last week’s trip to Tess Giberson’s SoHo shop for the pick up, and this Sunday’s gloriously warm weather, which was probably the first time I would have been able to wear the shorts anyway, what with this crazy cold winter/spring we’ve been having, made the whole saga worthwhile.

It just goes to show you. Patience and persistence does pay off. Even in the fashion world.

Going native

natives for kids

The ultimate summer playground-to-beach shoe. (They come in adult sizes too!)

And then, suddenly, spring was upon us and we looked through our children’s pile of shoes and realized that last year’s water shoes are no longer serviceable. And flip flops, whist cute, are a recipe for disaster when it comes to climbing rocks and jungle gyms and fences.

These are the things one learns as one stumbles through the epic adventure called parenting.

“Fear not!” we say to ourselves reassuringly. “For this is the year that we finally upgrade to Native for this purpose. Sure they are made of plastic,” we muse. “But lo, these kicks actually have some support, are flexible, and should last all summer long. As opposed to some other brands-who-shall-remain-nameless that had to be replaced mid-summer.”

Here’s to many sprints through the sprinklers and hours on the shore.

And the winner is…

Evelyn Cunningham

Evelyn Cunningham, civil rights reporter, special advisor to Nelson Rockefeller, women’s rights advocate and incredible dresser.

So I recently set out in search of my own personal style icon. Mostly, I just find myself inspired by my friends, but I knew there much be some more public figures out there for me to look up to, even at my ripe old age.

And then I found her. Or rather, I re-found her. I’ve been an admirer for years without ever knowing much beyond the photos in the Style section of the New York Times. My search is over.

In terms of personal style, Evelyn Cunningham is the woman that I most want to be when I grow up. She covered hard news about civil rights in the 60′s for the Pittsburgh Currier, a nationally distributed African American paper, she was a special adviser to Governor and then VP Nelson Rockefeller, she fought for women’s rights her entire life, and she looked incredible the entire time.

What I most love about her is that while she was out there in the world, fighting the good fight and clearly making a difference by helping to make the world a better place for so many people, she still had the energy and the sense of fun to dress with true flair. In a sea of black tuxedos, she rocked a hot pink floor length gown like nobody’s business.

The ability to see and understand all of the complexities and difficulties in the political and social universe, while also being able to acknowledge some of the beauty and fun that can be found through dressing up is the mark of a truly well rounded individual. We can all be forces for good whilst wearing bold prints and big earrings, damn it.

Shortly after Evelyn Cunningham died, in 2010, the iconic photographer Bill Cunningham made a little video tribute which is lovely to watch. A little inspiration for a spring weekend.

Bird at 15

mayle and Cornejo for Bird

Two pieces, designed by Jane Mayle and Maria Cornejo from the Bird 15th anniversary capsule collection.

Ok first of all, hats off to Jennifer Mankins for opening a little boutique in Brooklyn called Bird and sticking it out for 15 years. And she didn’t just stick it out, she thrived. She has built (with some help from her family and friends) a tiny but powerful empire of three stores, each one a jewel filled with colorful and life enhancing treats in the form of clothes, accessories and a bunch of other stuff like wallets and stationary and art by her friends.

It is a joy to visit, though very difficult to leave empty handed.

But, and here’s the kicker, she also had the foresight to cajole four of her favorite designers into creating special pieces just to celebrate her being around for so long. So there is now a special Bird 15th anniversary capsule collection with pieces by Maria Cornejo, Jane Mayle, Rachel Comey and Tsumori Chisato. The clothes are all amazing, which sucks for me because I want them all, which is totally unrealistic.

I also find this whole situation particularly exciting because not only have I admired Jane Mayle and Maria Cornejo’s work for, like, ever… but I have been lucky enough to count them amongst my friends for a good little while as well. I was heartbroken when the Mayle store shut down (and forced to drown my sorrows at the Zero Maria Cornejo sample sale) But now everybody is back, and right in my neighborhood in special limited edition glory. Beautiful colors and patterns and fabrics that are perfect for what looks to be the better-late-than-never arrival of spring we are experiencing today.

I suggest you all drop everything and go check out the goods if you are anywhere near a Bird store. Or, as it’s 2014 and who goes to brick and mortar stores anyway, you can always take a look online.

I myself am planning on doing both.

Monday, Monday – or more links about potential style icons

I have been searching for a new “fashion icon” (or to be more honest, trying to search through my jumbled brain to remember whose style I most admire) and thought I might share a few of my contenders with you all:

This video of Iris Apfel on One Kings Lane (she did a sale with them recently) reminded me of how amazing she is.

Anna Piaggi, the late great Italian Vogue editor took the concept of haute dressing to a whole new level. And Vogue.com UK has a great timeline of Piaggi-related articles for us all to peruse.

Isabella Blow was Alexander McQueen’s BFF and had an incredibly singular and architectural sense of style, but it seems the world was just a bit too much for her…

Bjork could be good, and not just because her name rhymes with jerk.

Is it weird to put one of your own friends on this list? I don’t dress anything like Sarah Sophie Flicker, but the way she puts herself together always makes me happy.

Then again, so do the outfits of my friend Jennifer Mankins

Or maybe I should just stick with the classics and go with Lena Horne…

So many choices, so little time…

Time for some new kicks


The classic tretorn, but in lime green suede. And really worn in.

My friend Wendy gave me these Tretorns about 10 years ago and I have worn them to death. Literally. And now it’s time for a new pair.

But instead of being exited, I am all sad and overwhelmed by the choices out there. I think I’ll just stick to my guns (traditionalist that I am) and go with the same brand…I mean, I’ve been wearing some version of these sneakers since I was in junior high school. But even then, there are lots of decisions looming.

Nylite florence

Nylite Florence… one of my many choices of Tretorn sneakers.

Do I go with the new Florance Broadhurst line and have crazy patterns on my feet wherever I go?

Club Monaco for tretorn

These collaborations with Club Monaco appeared in Esquire Magazine (which is where I got this photo) are more along the lines of the classic shoe.

Or do I just stick to the basic version? And even in that case, what color might I want? And do I stick with suede or branch out to canvas?

Oh who knows. I think I still have a little while before my current pair falls completely to pieces. Until then, I’ll just drive myself crazy trying to decide. And please don’t anyone suggest going with a different brand…

Summer is coming!! (Or so they say…)

a detacher

A Detacher Spring/Summer 2014. Photo from fashionsings.com

Ok maybe I’m going a bit fast, but the sun is out again today and I feel like I can imagine things like hot sandy beaches and cool ocean breezes for the first time in months and months.

So in honor of those fantasies, I give you something else to dream about: this beautiful bathing suit by the otherworldly line A Détacher. If, for some reason, the bathing suits I already own become lost in some kind of terrible accident, the silver lining will be that I will rush out and get myself this one as a replacement. Not that I am wishing disaster upon myself, but at least now I have a solid back up plan.

This is all assuming we get to put our winter coats away at some point, which is not a 100% sure thing at this point…

The real fashion show

Yesterday I live streamed the Michael Kors show. Which means, in English, that I sat at home, all comfortable at my own desk, and saw all that there was to see as far as that particular fashion show goes. More, probably, than I would have seen had I actually been there, as my certain standing room status would have most likely had me staring at the back of someone else’s well coiffed head.

And yet I got all caught up in it for a minute, craning to catch a glimpse of celebrities (how much Michael Kors does Michael Douglass really wear?) checking out the models, remembering somewhat wistfully a distant past when I walked the catwalks, wondering what it takes to be a DJ at one of these things (because I would of course have better transitions between songs, or so I tell myself) etc etc.

And then I start to hate myself for allowing the inevitable descent into the world of the fashion show scenesters and all it entails. Why do I care about any of this at all? It’s just a bunch of silly (albeit quite attractive) people prancing around (not even to the beat!) in costumes in front of a bunch of slightly older but equally well put together folks with digital cameras and notebooks.

Fashion is totally inconsequential, right?

And then I watch a video like the (short) documentary above, about a group of men who have taken the whole concept of dress-up, made it their own, made it political, made it into a uplifting expression of joy that flaunts all of the hardships they face in their everyday lives. And I see fashion for what it can be: a vehicle for the expression of our higher selves.

These men are living the most authentic fashion show there is. They are the captains of their own souls.

May we all take a bit of their spirit with us when we get dressed up, too.

Yesterday, at some point…

Tess Giberson down jacket

The brilliant and cozy 3/4 length down jacket from Tess Giberson’s FW 2014 show this past week.

This image is part of a new series in which I am posting single photographs that describe some moment I had during the previous day. Kind of like a not-quite-instant Instagram. Needless to say (and yet I feel compelled to say it) all photos in this series were taken by me, and as such, are © Brooke Williams 2014.

Ok so I actually took this photo last Friday, but it was yesterday at some point when I remembered that I wanted to post it. So there you have it. Baby steps. I’ll eventually become the timely blog post-er this crazy internet world has come to expect.

In the meantime, enjoy this lovely and somewhat quiet feeling moment of contemporary fashion. And then check out the whole Tess Giberson show for more things you’re going to wish you could have right now to wear during this insanely cold winter…