Tagged: accessories

My Closet: The Striped Tote + Paris By Foot

This I Wear | The Striped Tote + Paris By Foot
It’s August. Everyone has travel on the mind. A real vacation is not in the cards for me this year, but I am thinking about journeys lately. And this reminded me of a trip to Paris with my mom to visit my sister during an internship in Paris.

In America, so many of our cities are experienced by car. But in Paris, as in many European cities, the best way to get around is by foot: you walk, you eat some pastries, you walk more, you marvel over old churches and unexpected cobblestone streets, you walk a little more, and then you eat more fromage.

Neighborhoods change, people change, and atmospheres change as you walk. It is a journey in itself to experience the city by foot.

And it was my sister’s journey to Paris, one that she had dreamed of for so long, that I was most intrigued to see. I had heard stories of her suddenly being interested in salsa dancing late into the night and drinking wine by the river. Was this really my little sister!? But of course a foreign country and a city full of life is the perfect place to experience different sides of ourselves and different legs of our own journeys.

On one such meandering walk, my mom, sister and I stumbled upon a beautiful shop filled with stripes. Though stripes are easily associated with the French (the infamous sailor shirt!), these were more colorful and from the Catalan region of France. Inside, the variations were overwhelming. Colors that I never would have joined together suddenly had me questioning everything I believed about color. It was beautiful and overwhelming. I couldn’t leave without something, so I settled on a simple striped canvas tote. I had no idea that I would still be carrying it nearly everyday in the two years since the trip.

When we carry something so frequently, it takes on new meanings. My friend Carmen was delighted that the company’s name (Artiga) was so similar to her own last name. I often think of my favorite blogger oh joy! when I see it, because I know she loves a good stripe too.

But, at the end of the day, it is still the bag that was part of my journey with my mom and sister in a new place and a chance to be a part of my sister’s experience, one that I knew was so important to her. And I’m glad that despite all the wear and tear this bag has experienced, it’s still on its journey with me too.

P.S. I cannot find the name of the shop in Paris. But if you’re in NYC and interested in these famous fabrics, try Les Toiles du Soleil for the real deal fabric woven in France from a 150-year old company!

My Closet: The Liberty of London Scarf

This I Wear | My Closet: Liberty Scarf + My Mom

The year is 2000. I am in London on my first international trip with my whole family during my eighth grade spring break. I got my braces off in time for my passport photo and online shopping wasn’t what it is today, so my sister and I are feeling pretty cool as we shop UK-exclusive stores our friends will envy (well, once they find out they exist).

As this was in my pre-itinerary-making days, I just showed up where I was told to go. And my mom had an ambitious itinerary for us. She hadn’t traveled much internationally, and she seemed to be on a mission to see everything. This turned out to include churches, castles, museums, hot tickets to a performance of “CATS”, and most importantly, the iconic department store, Liberty of London.

I had no idea what Liberty of London was at the time. Since my mom is a quilter, she wanted her trip souvenir to be a few pieces of Liberty’s famous print fabrics for her next quilt project. Naturally, I thought that meant it would be a pretty boring shopping experience since my impression of quilting was that it was not so cool (though I have since changed this opinion!). But as soon as I saw the Tudor-style façade and stepped into the perfect world of unexpected and quirky design inside, I knew my mom was on to something. And sure enough, I became obsessed.

For so long, it was impossible to get Liberty prints stateside, so any sort of Liberty find was met with true teenage girl levels of enthusiasm. Now, the prints are ubiquitous; Collaborations with everyone from Target to J.Crew to Nike means the masses are wearing Liberty of London, and it’s likely they have no idea what kind of history they’re wearing. In fact, Liberty has been around since the 1880s and has been selling its iconic prints since then, typically on the lightest, finest cotton fabric I’ve ever felt, which is their signature Tana Lawn.

But while every hipster might be wearing these florals today, my mom was digging these prints back when most of those kids weren’t even born. So for me, Liberty has become inextricably linked with my mom. And when I scored this silk Liberty scarf in New York City of all places, I couldn’t help but feel the same teenage girl level of enthusiasm I felt when I first walked into Liberty at the age of 14, nerdy and naïve, only to be introduced by my unexpectedly design-forward mom to a whole new world of textiles, pattern and history.

So I’m not worried that Liberty prints are on trend now. Instead, I’m using it to my advantage to find pieces I know I’ll keep longer than the trend-seekers, because they mean something to me. Because when I wear my Liberty scarf, I can’t help but think of my mom, who informed my own taste and passion for design in ways that I’ve never fully given her credit for. And that will keep me wearing these prints for much longer than a season.

Nothing says cool like a scarf. For a little styling help, try Liberty’s own scarf-styling videos for the most creative tying/knotting/wrapping ideas I’ve ever seen. Start with this Youtube playlist, but a quick search will lead you to the other 20 or so tutorials.

My Closet: Lucky Charms

This I Wear | Lucky Charms

I am incredibly lucky. As a St. Patrick’s Day baby with a classic Irish last name, I know a thing or two about luck (and fortunately, the good kind). Luck is not something to be relied on; it isn’t very predictable, and it isn’t always instantly recognizable. Luck is best left to be something to be thankful for when looking back or hoped for if looking forward. But in the present moment, thoughts of luck can be comforting. And when I say “luck,” I mean gratitude for where we’ve been, hope for something big or small to get us where we are going, and a willingness to be open in the meantime. Those thoughts of luck can be much closer with a familiar lucky charm on hand. And when a lucky charm is wearable, it is even easier to keep hopes for luck near.

I have three lucky charms, but the real power comes when I wear them together. The first is the simple gold necklace I wear everyday. My mom and I picked out the necklace together as my college graduation gift during a trip with my sister to Hong Kong. Even I was unsure how often I would wear the double-sided pendant, but nearly every single day, I wear the necklace with intention with the Chinese character for “longevity” facing in, since I believe longevity comes from taking care of ourselves, and the Chinese double happiness facing out, because happiness comes from what we offer out to the world. As I put the necklace on recently before an important meeting, I rubbed it for good luck as I so often do, reminding myself to make my mom proud, since her support has helped me reach where I am in life to have such an important meeting.

My other lucky charms are new to me but by no means new, precisely the source of their luck. I never knew my great-grandmother but wearing a pair of her earrings, which she had passed on to my mother when her ears were first pierced decades ago and which my mom recently passed on to me, makes me feel close to her. I certainly never knew the original owner of the Victorian signet ring I recently purchased, but I can’t help but imagine its past: Was it a gift to her? Did it bring her any luck? Was it worn on any special occasions? (And how were her fingers so much tinier than mine?) I imagine the nerves of my great grandmother or my mother as they got their ears pierced, or perhaps the nerves my ring’s earlier owners felt as they went through life wearing the pieces of jewelry I now wear. And while I know with no certainty, I think they made out just fine.

The concept of a lucky charm seems silly on the surface. We are ascribing power to an inanimate object. But the real power of a lucky charm is not in the item itself, but in what it reminds us of. My lucky charms have never caused miracles, but they have given me the confidence I needed in times spent outside of my comfort zone. Whenever I’m unsure of myself, I look at my lucky charms and they remind me of who I am, where I come from, how I got here, and, perhaps most importantly, who helped me to get here. My triad of lucky charms calms my nerves and reminds me to be bold not just for myself, but out of gratitude for all of the people who helped me reach this moment of infinite possibilities. And when you feel like there’s a crowd like that behind you, you can’t help but be bold.

Comment below, tweet @ThisIWear, or email me to share stories of your lucky charms, perhaps to be featured in a future post!


My Closet: Flea Market bracelets + Sorting through the junk

This I Wear | Flea Market Bracelets

I’m a Pisces. This fact doesn’t matter to me but now everyone knows it. Why? Because I fell in love with some amazing vintage cuffs at a flea market, though you might just call them junk.

A few blocks from my old Manhattan apartment, there was a flea market that would take over the cafeteria and grounds of a school every Sunday. It was filled with exotic African beads and drums, fancy reupholstered furniture, old prints, and tons of junk. Occasionally, after I’d done some damage at the farmers’ market across the street, I’d walk through the flea market. Yet I never have much luck in finding things to wear at flea markets. I’ll pick up a few things, put them back down, and then pull out the hand sanitizer. My adventurous spirit is limited by the perceived grubbiness of such moments.

During one visit, however, a vendor, whose stall typically consisted of a heap of unappealing clothes on a table, had a little basket filled with enamel cuffs. The mound of clothing was the last thing I wanted to touch, but this tidy basket of bracelets was intriguing. I found myself surprised to be exchanging my ten-dollar bill for a red owl cuff and a Pisces one as well. I am not particularly impressed with owls, and I don’t read horoscopes often or seriously. While I tend to have quite a lot of friends born around my birth date, I don’t think the zodiac sign is responsible for these friendships. These bracelets were cheap, their origins unknown, and their future with me curious. Yet something about them stood out to me from the minefields of junk surrounding them.

Sometimes, I see something I love or find inspiring, and it just happens to be junk. In the case of these bracelets, it is not uncommon for my wrist to be slightly green when I take off one at the end of the day. I’ve also stabbed myself with the owl’s feet one too many times. But how can you control what you love? You can’t.

Something is only “junk” if it means nothing to you. If it’s special to you personally, then price and quality are irrelevant.

And more often, it is hard to discover the special things or predict what we’ll grow to love when the surrounding junk is so overwhelming and noisy, whether you are in a flea market or a shopping mall. But at these moments, I tune out the noise, sometimes by stepping away to think, and then go with my gut. My motto always has been that if you don’t absolutely love something, don’t buy it.

Once I took these bracelets home and out of the clutter, often pairing the red owl with a simple neutral outfit and some red lipstick, the “specialness” was clear. Today, I love wearing them, they frequently start conversations, and I have never seen anything like them since. I could have negotiated the $10 price down, but they’ve grown to be worth more to me than the price paid. The value in the items is personal to me, not inherent in the bracelets themselves. They might be junk, but they are my junk.

But maybe that’s just the poetic Pisces in me talking.

My Closet: Ruby Earrings + remembering your favorite gifts

Favorite Gift: Ruby Earrings | This I Wear

What is the best gift you’ve ever received? I’m collecting responses for an upcoming holiday-themed This I Wear post and I’d love to share your story. If you already know exactly what your answer is, comment below or email me to share your story and include who gave it to you and why you love it.

We remember certain gifts for lots of reasons: the gift was useful or was something we absolutely love, or perhaps we remember the gift because of our relationship to the giver. In thinking about what to give this holiday season, I started to look to the best gifts I’ve ever received for inspiration. Immediately, I thought of the pair of gold and ruby earrings I’ve worn at least once a week for the 4+ years I’ve had them. These little bits of bling were given to me as a college graduation gift by my employer at the time. While it was a gift from the whole office (of three women), I could tell by the style that my boss Aimee made the ultimate decision.

I was 21 years old when I first started working for Aimee. She had just started her event planning business, and I was the first paid employee. I was still in college, but Aimee trusted me like no one had ever trusted me before. By the end of my year and a half, I had planned a wedding in Mexico for one of our clients, and I was barely over the legal drinking age. I remember the job as stressful, thrilling, challenging, and, most of all, one of the best experiences of my life. In fact, I’m convinced that my work experience with Aimee has not only helped me get every other job I’ve had since, but it has made me successful in all of them too. I was naïve and stubborn at the time, but Aimee helped me grow up. And now, as I inch closer to the age Aimee was when she started her business, I continue to see her as a model for who I want to be and the life that I want to have, even if event planning is not my career focus.

To receive such a thoughtful and beautiful gift from someone I respect so greatly felt more like I had received an award than a gift. Aimee was more than my boss; she had become my role model. And every single time I wear them, I think of her and the gratitude I have for the chance she took on me.

What if each gift we gave this holiday could have that same effect? It’s easy to get absorbed into the culturally-imposed chaos of the holiday season and forget the reason we give gifts in the first place: to show love and appreciation to the people who are important to us. Before you buy a last-minute gift card from the drugstore, think about what that person truly means to you, what they need and/or love, and how a gift might even remind them of your relationship with each other. It might still feel like a lot of pressure to find the right gift, but a little thoughtfulness can ensure that the recipient will continue to love the gift long after the holidays are over.

Feeling inspired now? Comment below or send the story of your favorite gift, whether it’s something you can wear or not, along with who gave it to you and why you love it. Just a few sentences will do! Your story might be featured in an upcoming post.

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