Style

Packing for Paris

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)

5 Essential Pieces of Outerwear for Moderate Weather

Trench Coat

My favorite piece of outerwear, the trench coat is polished and highly versatile. Acquire a traditional, khaki-colored one that suits you in water-resistant cotton. It’s fine if you’re eyeing trench coats at Burberry, but, I don’t want to see you in the street covered in Burberry plaid. You should limit that to your coat’s lining. Here’s another example of what not to buy at Burberry. The name of the brand should only appear on your coat’s inside label.

Utility Jacket

For outdoor adventures in nature, you’ll need a utility jacket. Whether it’s waxed or unwaxed is up to you. When I lived in the UK, I wore my navy Barbour Bedale jacket on daily walks through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. When I’m stateside, I also wear a green utility jacket (sans wax) from J.Crew in moderate weather.

Activewear Jacket

I’m currently on the hunt for an activewear jacket that can be worn on brisk walks to and from the gym. Something that weighs less than a trench coat but is heavier than a disposable plastic poncho would be ideal. Also, I need it to be long enough at the back for my liking.

Vest

When it comes to acquiring a vest, you have two options: a puffy vest or one of lesser thickness. The puffy vest can be worn over sweaters, knits, and other tops with long sleeves. However, it might be too thick to tuck under another piece of outwear. I own one vest, and it’s on the thinner side, which gives me a lot of flexibility in the ways that I wear it. I especially like wearing it under my cape during the colder months.

Cropped Jacket

A jacket that pairs flawlessly with every or almost every dress in you wardrobe may be a little difficult to come by. But, don’t rush your search. (By the way, I’d steer clear of boleros and shrugs if I were you.) I own two cropped, military-inspired jackets in navy and camel. They pair well with my sleeveless A-line dresses and skirts.

Honorable Mention: Raincoat

I don’t own a raincoat, and I won’t be in the market for one until my next trip to Scotland. (The winds in Edinburgh will turn your umbrella inside out until you become fatigued and give up.) Stateside, I prefer to wear my trench coat in the rain with an umbrella and Le Pliage.

Works Sighted

Hearts and Found Elizabeth dress (on Etsy); Margaux Demi flats (platinum); navy cropped jacket (an obscure brand; purchased at a now-defunct discount clothing store)

Margaux Demi Flat

I’ve kept at least one pair of ballet flats in my shoe collection since I was in high school. However, it’s taken me quite some time to find what I would consider the perfect pair. I’ve come across two styles that meet my expectations, but today we’ll focus on the second of my discoveries, the Margaux Demi flat. (The other style, the Havana flat by Blue Velvet Shoes, isn’t available to ship to the U.S.)

I’ve never had a more glamorous shoe shopping experience than the one I had at the Margaux showroom in 2017. The business was located at 37 W 20th St. back then, and I’d made a special trip into the city for the occasion. (They’ve since moved to 387 Bleecker St.) Before the pandemic, I’d make up any excuse to be out and about in Manhattan. The building on W 20th was a high-rise with multiple business suites, and Margaux lived in number 1206. The plain, white hallway gave no indication of the beautiful decor beyond the door. The soft grey walls, the picket-fence-white shelving, the circular table that reminded me of a tree, the plush seating…all of this was surpassed by the sales associate who made sure I was trying on the proper size. Before departing the studio, I placed an order for two pairs of the Demi: one in black and another in navy/black. Having my shopping sent to me felt luxurious, like an experience from an era long gone.

When my Demi flats arrived, I put them to work right away. My two original pairs have since been put out of commission; they’re sitting in my closet awaiting new insoles. I recently purchased the style in platinum. In fact, I’m wearing them as I write this. They look pretty in the light of my desk lamp. Not only does the style’s low vamp accommodate my high instep, but the insole is comfortable and cloud-like. It has a little bit of a heel (not including the inside padding, I measured about a half inch). The grosgrain drawstring that is mean to be tied in a bow on top of the vamp isn’t just for show; it also functions. A feat of engineering indeed!

Works Sighted

Margaux Demi flats (platinum); Brooks Brothers Red Fleece skirt (old)

Easing into Autumn with Above-the-Knee Woolen Skirts

It’s that time of year when the daily temperature ranges between 50 and 70°F. The forecast leaves you baffled. You’ve put the summer-specific clothing away, but it’s not quite time to pull out the tights. You keep a few lightweight jackets and sweaters on standby in case the temperature plummets. Your winter coat is patiently waiting to be dry cleaned. It’s still too warm for your blazers, cashmere, heavy woolens, and boots.

Autumn is the most difficult season to transition into, and anyone who does so successfully deserves a standing ovation. My advice: ease into your cool-weather wardrobe. Start with your above-the-knee woolen skirts. Your lightweight button-up shirts will complement them well. As it get colder, you’ll want to add on warmer layers.

Works Sighted

Loft shirt (old); Brooks Brothers Red Fleece skirt (old); Margaux Demi flats (platinum); Fitbit Alta HR; GLDN Yue Necklace

Further Reading:

Brooks Brothers Red Fleece wool-blend trumpet skirt; Celtic & Co. Celt wool skirt; Boden Fairlie full mini skirt; Boden Poppy boiled wool skirt; Boden Eloise mini skirt

Basket à la Birkin

You may recall that my Kayu tote played an essential role in my efforts to savor the remainder of summer. Well, I’m pleased to report that I’ve gotten ample use out of it; I’m now content with moving into autumn. In my search for a simple bag that was appropriate for all seasons, Jane Birkin’s signature straw basket came to mind. The actress purchased the item in Portugal (so the story goes), and it was always seen dangling over her arm. It’s evident from photographs of the singer in the 70s that there wasn’t a place the basket wouldn’t go. It accompanied her on errands, to the seaside, and even on nights out with Serge Gainsbourg. It was with her no matter the season.

I considered a lot of baskets before selecting one of medium size from AlbaATN (on Etsy). It’s lightweight, and I’m pleased with its size and shape. I intend to pair my new addition with outfits that don’t require tights (they’d snag). I’ll certainly bring it on errands that don’t require me to carry too many items (e.g. picking up a lemon or two from the grocery store; not on days when I’m due to retrieve my alterations). I doubt I’ll be carrying it to dinner at Parc, but we’ll see. I’ve personalized the handle with a Ratti-print scarf to give it un certain je ne sais quoi.

Works Sighted

AlbaATN (on Etsy) Jane Birkin basket (medium); J.Crew Ratti print scarf (sold out)

Further Reading

At 70, Jane Birkin’s Style Is More Iconic Than Ever (Vogue)

Upgrade Your Summer Bag Game With Jane Birkin’s Signature Basket (Vogue)

Packing for Palombara Sabina

I’ll be making lasagne with Italian nonnas next month. Yes, I’m leaving Lisbon and heading (by virtual means) to Palombara Sabina, a commune located in the Metropolitan City of Rome (about a 60-minute drive from the capital city of Rome). Pasta with the Grandmas was started by Nonna Nerina and her granddaughter Chiara. As I’ve previously mentioned, prior to the current situation, Airbnb Experiences were only conducted in person.

Although I bypass many formalities of traditional travel during my virtual ventures, I like to pretend that I’ll be boarding a flight. This means packing my virtual suitcase, listening to music by artists from my destination country, and establishing a list of places that interest me. (Lately, I’ve been expanding my Italian playlist beyond Pavarotti.) Although I’ve been to the capital city of Rome before, I haven’t visited other areas within the Metropolitan City of Rome. Visiting Nonna seemed like the perfect place to start.

Here are a few online sources that helped me visualize this medieval town and the people I’ll soon be meeting:

  • This stunning visual compilation.
  • An aerial view of the hilltop town. (The older part of town is located on the top of the hill, and the newer part of town is situated farther down the hill.)
  • The municipality’s history as stated on its official website.
  • A video by travel vlogger Christine Kaaloa documenting her visit to Palombara Sabina and her experience cooking with Nonna Nerina.
  • An American mom’s commentary on her family’s experience cooking with Nonna Nerina (2:06; previously aired on TV2000).
  • An Italian talk show segment featuring Nonna Nerina and Chiara (previously aired on TV2000).

Works Sighted

J.Crew slim perfect shirt in Baird McNutt Irish linen (white); 3.1 Phillip Lim + Space for Giants belted asymmetric pleated cotton-twill skirt; Margaux Demi flats (black)

J.Crew slim perfect shirt in Baird McNutt Irish linen (French blue); Officine Générale Kendall belted pleated wool skirt; Superga 2750 Cotu Classic Navy

J.Crew slim perfect shirt in Baird McNutt Irish linen (navy); Gucci houndstooth wool-blend tweed wrap skirt; Gucci Marmont logo-embellished leather loafers

J.Crew 2011 icon coat; Cuyana alpaca scarf (heather light grey); Italic Annie mini trunk bag; Longchamp le pliage shoulder bag L (black)

Italic boxy cropped cashmere sweater (ivory); Grace Karin vintage pleated A-line midi skirt (navy); Margaux Demi flats (platinum)

J.Crew slim perfect shirt in Baird McNutt Irish linen (French blue); Loewe pleated linen and cotton-blend midi skirt; Margaux Demi flats (cerulean)