J.Crew Martie Pant in Bi-Stretch Cotton

J.Crew Martie Pant, Loft blazer, Superga 2750.

The J.Crew Martie pant came into my life in March 2018. I acquired eight of them that year for fear that the design would be discontinued. (I’d suffered through the discontinuation of the J.Crew Minnie pant and wasn’t looking forward to repeating the experience.) Aside from the two linen trousers that I bought this past March, these are the only pants in my wardrobe. About two months ago, I realized that all of my Marties had expired except for one. I embarked on a quest to replace my beloved little black pant. (For the record, I also wear it in navy.) In an attempt to broaden my horizons, I tried on other pants from brands that weren’t J.Crew. Long story short, I’m now the proud owner of six new pairs of my favorite style.

I found the current version of the pant to be slightly longer than the version I’d purchased back in 2018. Cuffing the hems of the legs under once seems to do the trick…even though the little vents at the bottom disappear. I liked that I could wear the older version (pictured) with or without a cuff. The Martie pant is very comfortable on account of its stretchy composition (cotton/viscose/elastane), but it also retains its shape. I’ve worn them to work, on transatlantic flights, and for every occasion in between. They pair well with blazers, sweaters, button-ups, tee shirts, sneakers, and flats. This is the definition of a wardrobe workhorse.

Works Sighted

J.Crew Martie pant in bi-stretch cotton; J.Crew striped boatneck T-shirt; Loft blazer (old); Superga 2750 Cotu Classic Navy

Black Tights

Black and white winter outfit.

To say that I often wear black tights during the colder months would be an understatement. I wear them almost every day (when I’m not wearing my J.Crew Martie pant—more on that later). I used to wear tights in different colors when I was younger, but then I became partial to navy and black. I still wear my navy tights occasionally, but the black ones definitely get more use. To the girls who go out in winter with bare legs, écoute bien. Being cold isn’t becoming.

Once you determine which brand of tights suits you, you’ll have to figure out how to style them according to your body shape. For me, black tights pair well with above-the-knee woolen skirts and booties. I often wear these three items in black along with a top in a dissimilar color. I also like to wear black from head to toe with a skirt in a hue that stands out.

Works Sighted

J.Crew puff-sleeve top (old); Loft Outlet ponte skirt (old); A New Day 50 denier tights (black); J.Crew Factory suede booties (old)

The Breton Shirt

Navy and white, striped J.Crew shirt.

Named for the French region of Bretagne, the Breton shirt (or marinière) as we know it today was born in the mid-19th century. Fishermen in northwestern France wore Breton sweaters for protection against the elements, but a decree of 1858 established it as an official component of naval uniforms. The body of the standard-issue tricot rayé had 21 white horizontal stripes (20mm in width) and 20-21 blue horizontal stripes (10mm). There were 15 white stripes and 14-15 blue stripes on the sleeves. The term Breton shirt is now used to describe a wide range of cotton shirts and wool sweaters with any number of stripes.

Although we have some insight into the shirt’s history, a great deal of it remains shrouded in myth. The striped pattern may have been intended as a sort of marker in the event that its wearer fell into the ocean. The 21 stripes may have been symbolic of Napoleon’s victories against the British. I don’t suggest that you start counting and measuring the stripes of every shirt you come across. There are endless variants of this style. I recommend Saint James for the most authentic shirts. The brand has been around since 1889, and it still supplies marinières to the French Navy today. Amor Lux and Orcival are also viable options.

As long as you stick to Breton tops made of cotton or wool in classic colors, you’re bound to choose wisely. Don’t limit yourself to the three aforementioned brands. It’s best to get a decent overview of your options before buying multiples. I determined that there are at least 14 Breton shirts in my closet, and most of them are from J.Crew. All of them, except for one, have been heavily worn for many years. This reliable wardrobe staple pairs exceptionally well with slim black pants.

Works Sighted

J.Crew striped boatneck T-shirt; Warby Parker Durand glasses (Whiskey Tortoise)


The ultimate symbol of French cool (BBC)

A Classic in Stripes (New York Times)

How the Armor-Lux Breton Stripe Became King of Summer Layers (Inside Hook)

The History of the Breton Shirt, from Sailors to Chanel(Condé Nast Traveler)

From Coco Chanel to Alexa Chung: A Brief History of the Iconic Breton Stripe (StyleCaster)

Bake French Pastries in Paris: An Airbnb Online Experience

Choux Pastry (Pâte à Choux)

My first virtual day in Paris was spent making chouquettes via an Airbnb Online Experience hosted by Carlos of Aten-Te Aute. I signed up for “Bake French Pastries in Paris” even though I’m not skilled at waking up early on weekends. The class started at 9:00 AM Philadelphia time (2:00 PM in Paris). Not only was I awake and presentable when logging in to the Zoom meeting, but I also had all of my ingredients measured before the start of class…mise en place, as they say in the culinary world.

Aten-Te Aute offers several online cooking classes, but I couldn’t have been more pleased with the one that I purchased. It was my friend B. who suggested that we attend the experience together (which we did). She’s been meaning to perfect her pâte à choux technique. The third guest also joined us from Philadelphia. Carlos was a welcoming host. His backdrop, a colorful depiction of a lively, but intimate, café scene, created a cosy ambience. He checked our progress after each step; no one was left behind. On account of his knowledge and anecdotes of Parisian life, I’d like to take another cooking class with him. Carlos’s composed teaching demeanor made me feel calm and confident in the task at hand. I wouldn’t say that I’ve had as much French culinary training as Sabrina (played by Audrey Hepburn) in the 1954 movie of the same name, but I left the class with a newly acquired skill and a plate full of savory chouquettes to show for my hard work.

Packing for Paris

Trench coat, blazer, striped shirts, slim pants, A-line skirts, cashmere sweater, button-up, ballet flats, Veja Sneakers, boxy leather bag, and a cashmere scarf.

Paris is my second favorite city (surpassed only by London), and I’m heading there now. Goodbye Palombara Sabina. Thank you Nonna Angela and Mariana for my incredible stay. Let my virtual trip around the world continue! Here’s my itinerary of Airbnb Online Experiences:

My virtual suitcase is packed. Allons-y!

Works Sighted

J.Crew Factory schoolboy blazer; J.Crew 2011 icon coat; Italic Annie mini trunk bag; Cuyana alpaca scarf (heather light grey)

Everlane modern Breton tee; J.Crew Martie pant (navy); Veja Campo

J.Crew striped boatneck tee; J.Crew Martie pant (black); Margaux Demi flats (cerulean)

Eric Bompard classic V-neck pullover; Grace Karin vintage pleated A-line midi skirt (black); Margaux Demi flats (black)

Hinson Wu Isabella White Stretch Cotton Tunic; Grace Karin vintage pleated A-line midi skirt (navy); Repetto Lou ballerinas (lux patent leather beige)

Pasta with the Grandmas: An Airbnb Online Experience

Antimo Caputo 00 flour; eggs; Corelle bowl; Anchor Hocking measuring cup; Trader Joe’s Tunisian fouta towel.

“Making Pasta with the Grandmas” offers virtual cooking classes for various types of pasta. Each Zoom meeting is hosted by one of five Italian grandma/granddaughter duos. My lasagna class began with lively Italian music and was lead by Nonna Angela and her granddaughter Mariana. The event started at 5:00 PM Philadelphia time. Palombara Sabina was six hours ahead, but the time difference didn’t show on the presenters’ faces. Nonna Angela was an attentive instructor, and Mariana translated the directions for the nine guests in an upbeat manner.

In an effort to bring Italy to their students, the hosts played a video montage containing footage from the in-person version of the experience and scenes from the town. I imagined that the stunning Lazio landscape was right outside my window. We rolled dough by hand, made sauce from scratch, and, an hour and a half later, finally put our creations in the oven. The guests thanked Nonna Angela and Mariana for the delightful evening, releasing them from their teaching duties. My husband and I enjoyed our lasagna with salad, Chianti Classico, and S.Pellegrino. Dinner was straight from Italy.

I’ve spent a bit of time researching Palombara Sabina. Here are a few sights that piqued my interest:

Works Sighted: Antimo Caputo 00 flour; eggs; Corelle bowl; Anchor Hocking measuring cup; Trader Joe’s Tunisian fouta towel