J.Crew

The Search for the Perfect Trench

As I pulled my trench coat from the closet (the first time since winter), I was reminded of a conversation I had with a friend about finding the perfect one. As is generally the case with clothing these days, the search for a trench coat requires work. This means ordering viable options online and returning what doesn’t suit. It is important to remember to mail your returns back to the retailer(s) from whence they came. The process is even more convenient if the brand(s) accept returns at a nearby brick-and-mortar store. I find it especially efficient to make all my returns in one day. You may find your perfect trench on the first attempt, but if you don’t, you will eventually. What matters most is that you do not compromise on size, fit, or color. If you have time, expand your search to thrift stores and flea markets, especially when in Europe. When you visit Paris, I recommend thrifting with Mariana. Bon courage ! These things can take time.

Works Sighted

Banana Republic Factory classic twill trench (sanded khaki) // J.Crew new icon trench (vintage khaki) // A.P.C. greta trench coat (beige) // Hobbs trench (navy)

J.Crew Factory trench (light khaki) // Lauren Ralph Lauren cotton blend trench (sand) // Barbour trench (light fawn) // Mango classic trench (medium brown)

Mango classic trench (dark navy) // H&M short trench (light beige) // London Fog (British khaki) // Everlane modern trench (beech)

Packing for Paris

I’d intended to settle my wardrobe for Paris in advance and not wait until the day of departure. But alas, that is not how the story unfolded As the flight time drew nearer and nearer, I decided to concentrate on packing the essential electronics: laptop, phone, watch, camera, chargers, and all accompanying cords. As for clothes, I brought two sweaters, a white shirt, and the Saint James/Martie pant uniform I’ve been wearing all winter. Et voilà ! No thinking necessary. I had clothes in my suitcase and time to get a mani/pedi before the flight. If I’d left something behind, I figured someone in Paris would sell it and searching for the vendor would lead to an adventure.

Works Sighted

An assortment of Saint James marinières and J.Crew Martie pants; Eyewitness Travel Guides: Paris // Alan Tillier; Cook Like a Local in France // Lynne Martin and Deborah Scarborough; a sketchbook from The Met Store; The Bigger Carry-On by AWAY

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961): Holly Golightly’s World

Ambitious Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) lives in New York City with her sweet orange cat. She spends much of her time in the company of others; some of her acquaintances are well-known members of society. Holly prefers to leave her less-than-glamorous past in the past. She recognizes the woman she has become in Manhattan but is open to self-improvement and emotional healing. She appreciates the finer things in life like a midday White Angel and browsing at Tiffany. She quickly assembles her polished outfits with minimal effort.

Works Sighted

bag // sunglasses // hat // cat mask // tassel earrings

pearl earrings // lipstick // perfume

croissant // tiara // dress // trench coat // nightshirt // sleep mask // guitar

paper cup // cat dish // whiskey // Champagne // heels // Kangaroo Fern // phone

silk flowers // diamond necklace // piñata // book

Saint James: An Introduction

Saint James: an historic purveyor of iconic Breton shirts and sweaters (marinières). Located in Normandy in the commune of Saint-James, the brand is superior for its expertly-crafted products.

I acquired my first Saint James marinières in Paris during the 2013-2014 holiday season. Back then, I wasn’t attuned to French cultural codes and entered the store without a proper “bonjour.” The saleswoman wasn’t rude, but she wasn’t exactly welcoming either. There wasn’t anyone else in the small shop at 44 Rue Cler, and the experience was highly transactional. (This location has since been permanently closed.) The result of the trade: two Galathee marinières—one white with navy stripes and the other white with royal blue stripes. My original shirts are long gone (donated to a thrift shop in West Philadelphia), but only because I now prefer a different size.

This past holiday season, I acquired four new Saint James marinières, and I’ve been wearing them constantly with my collections of navy and blue J.Crew Martie pants. Instant winter uniform! (The Martie has been discontinued, and I’m now in the market for a new style of slim black pants, preferably with a hint of stretch.) The Galathee II (in white/navy stripes and ecru/navy stripes) and the Meridame II (in navy/ecru stripes and ecru/navy stripes) turn heads every time I wear them, which has been at least four days out of every week since they were added to my closet.

Saint James originally produced wool sweaters for fishermen and sailors in the French Navy, and, to this day, the functionality of the clothing has been maintained. The fabric (wool for sweaters and cotton for shirts) and stitching are superb. A few months ago, I purchased a striped tee shirt from a startup that will remain nameless (at least for now); I have to put it on gently or else the seams will rip audibly. A Saint James knit (shirt or sweater) will last for years to come if cared for properly. Drying machines are off-limits.

Works Sighted

Meridame II (ecru/navy stripes) // J.Crew Martie pant (black) // Superga 2750 Cotu Classic (navy)

At the Moulin Rouge: The Dance (1890) by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Further Reading

I Visited the Saint James Factory in France, and It Gave Me Hope for Ethical Fashion” (EcoCult)

The Breton Shirt” (T.C.E.)

2022 Gift Guide

It’s time to buy something thoughtful for everyone on my list. Here are my highlights of the 2022 gift-buying season.

For Her

wreath subscription // nightshirt // mani-pedi kit

digital paintbrush // foldable yoga mat // shower steamer // shower steamer tray // body oil // book // lip gloss

Masterclass subscription // candle // matches // instant camera

red wine glasses // book // red wine stain remover // knife rests // travel belt

……….

For Him

tea and coffee alarm clock // eyeglass holder // book lamp // press vessel // point & shoot camera phone converter // table cornhole

gaming console // cashmere beanie // rapid beverage cooler // warming stone

digital photo frame // rain jacket // radio // dinner decision dice // magnetic bike lights

shaving kit // book // mini fireplace // flask flashlight // mechanical puzzle set // self-watering plant pots

Funny Face (1957): A Paris Collage

A collage inspired by Funny Face (1957)

Jo Stockton (played by Audrey Hepburn) works at a bookshop in Greenwich Village. She loves philosophical conversations and dreams of going to Paris. When Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson), editor-in-chief of Quailty Magazine, decides to stage a photoshoot at Jo’s place of employement, the shop assistant gets the opportunity of a lifetime. Enter: the dancing photographer Dick Avery (Fred Astaire). Suddenly the universe aligns to bring Jo to her favorite city where Champagne laced with Existentialism overflows.

Works Sighted

Jaxon Hats straw skimmer hat // Yves Saint Laurent trench coat // Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut

Diptyque Eau Duelle eau de toilette // J.Crew ruffle-collar shirt

Oscar de la Renta black dress // Saint James Breton // Bass weejuns // L’Oréal mascara // peonies from Arôm

Valentino heels // J.Crew Martie pant in bi-stretch cotton // Yves Saint Laurent concealer pen // Dior lip sugar scrub // Dior lip glow // Alexander McQueen dress // L’existentialisme est un humanisme // Christian Louboutin flats