Friday, July 29, 2011

Cuteness Overload


Wow, new puppies are a HANDFUL. Our little guy is curious about everything, and we have to be ever vigilant to make sure he's not chewing on random items or jumping up and knocking things over. But he is one sweet, gentle boy alright, and very eager to learn and to please. We found out that San Francisco Animal Control was about to put him down, because they deemed him too "mouthy." Uh hello, ALL puppies are mouthy until they get some training. It just goes to show that the bias against pitties is staggering, even here in San Francisco where they're a very prevalent breed and we have so many great breed ambassadors. Hats off to Grateful Dogs Rescue, who stepped in just in time to save our pup!

The outfit is from last week. I'd been wanting to wear this top/cardigan combo again, but had struggled with how to make the outfit look different from the first time I paired them. The maxi skirt offered the perfect solution, though to be honest I think I still prefer the original outfit, and would probably wear it again verbatim. Hard to believe the original outfit is nearly 2 years old.

Cardigan: H&M
Top: Red Dress Shoppe
Skirt: Anthropologie
Shoes: Born
Bracelets: Cost Plus World Market

Mark and I are suffering from cuteness overload these days.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Puppy Has Landed

Well, it's official: we have a puppy! Puppy doesn't yet have a name, but that shouldn't stop you from admiring his cuteness. The shelter was calling him Chumley, but we figure he's going to end up being quite large and regal-looking, so we're trying to think of a name that will suit him when he gets older.


Right now we're fostering him to make sure it works out with Georgie, and in a month or so we'll finalize the adoption. He's a very sweet boy; a handful to be sure, but a quick learner and a big goofball. We think he's pit mixed with boxer, or maybe lab.

Since last night was his first night with us and we therefore didn't sleep much, that's about all I've got for you today. Regular programming will resume tomorrow....

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Suitably Fun


I wore this outfit on a day that I was going directly from work to meet a friend for drinks. Thus it needed to be comfortable enough to wear all day, and warm enough for the chilly evening without requiring me to haul around an additional jacket; it also needed to be suitably fun for an evening out. I thought the pirate flair of this outfit accomplished the fun element, while the stretchy layers and flat boots gave me the warmth and comfort I needed.

These ponte knit pants are incredibly comfortable, and have in fact become a staple for evenings out. They have the sleek, fitted look of leggings, but are thick and opaque enough to wear as pants. Plus, the stretchy waistband is comfortable after several hours of sitting down -- and even after several beers.

Jacket: Forever 21 (original buttons replaced with vintage ones)
Tunic: Asos
Scarf: Alexander McQueen
Pants: Club Monaco
Bracelet: Leslie Danzis

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ho-Hum





This was one of my ho-hum outfits from when I was still sick (I'm feeling better now). I've noticed that when I'm sick I tend to wear pants more often, probably because it's less work than dealing with tights and slips and all that. If we lived somewhere hot I'm sure it would be just the opposite; throw on a sundress and some sandals, and you're good to go. Out here it's almost never warm enough for that, so pants are the easier option because there are no additional leg coverings that need to be selected.

At any rate it provided the impetus to wear these cords again, which as you may recall are down to their last few wears. A careful examination of the nap proved them to be still wearable for probably a few more times yet. Next time I hope it's actual inspiration, and not illness, that brings them out again.

Top: Max Studio
Cardigan: Anthropologie
Necklace: Foxy
Cords: Marlowe
Shoes: Art Shoes

Monday, July 25, 2011

Approximation



Inspired by my flapper-esque Bastille Day outfit, I put together this outfit, which has 20's daywear proportions. When I think of daywear in the flapper era, I always think of drop waist dresses with pleats, a look that can be approximated by wearing a fitted tunic-length top over a knee-length A-line skirt. This approximation also tends to be more flattering than an actual drop-waist dress for some reason. What I was going for was just a hint of a 20's vibe, not an actual reproduction of the style.

Over the weekend Mark and I attended our friends' wedding up on Mt. Tamalpais. When we met up with our dog sitter to drop Georgie off, she had brought along an adorable pit mix puppy that she's fostering, and of course I instantly fell in love and have been obsessing about him ever since (I think the dog sitter brought him along expressly for this purpose). We've been discussing the pros and cons of getting another dog for awhile now; obviously it would be a lot more work and more expense and hassle when we go out of town, but it would also be fun for Georgie as well as a chance to rescue another dog who's in need of a home. Plus, twice the snuggling potential! Perhaps there's another dog in our future...


Top: H&M
Belt: Red Dress Shoppe
Scarf: Asos
Skirt: Noa Noa
Bracelet: Betsey Johnson
Tights: Hue
Shoes: John Fluevog

Friday, July 22, 2011

Jazz Age



Here's my Bastille Day outfit; this was right before I got sick (going out that night might have dealt me the fatal blow, in fact). My friends and I attended a Jazz Age Paris-themed literary event featuring local authors reading excerpts from 1920's books, an absinthe bar, accordion music, and a couple of really talented belly dancers who choreographed their numbers to 1920's songs. Upstairs was a tiny cinema where they were showing "blue" films from 1920's France. Whoa. Those were the days before waxing, for sure.

I put together the most 20's looking outfit I could assemble, using this old standby of a cocktail dress that I've had for years. It has a sheer, beaded black layer over a rich red lining. I even created the "bee stung" 1920's lips, but you can't really tell when I'm smiling, or smirking, or whatever I'm doing here. In all the photos where I attempted a serious, femme fatale face, I ended up looking like I was about to throw up, so I didn't post any of those.

Yesterday my mystery illness (Is it a cold or a flu? It has elements of both.) reached a climax, so I stayed home sick. That turned out to be a good call because I actually feel a lot better today after spending the day relaxing. Being home during the day is always interesting: yesterday I heard and saw San Francisco's famous parrots (their flight path seems to go right over our house); I observed first hand the staggering number of hours that Georgie sleeps during the day (16 hours is my ballpark estimate); I watched numerous hummingbirds jockeying for position at the hummingbird feeder; I also realized just how preposterously incorrect our weather forecasts are. At around 11 am I checked two different weather apps on my phone; both said it was currently 60 degrees, with a high of 66 expected. At the time our outdoor thermometer was reading 82 degrees. Do not ever believe weather forecasts for San Francisco. They can err wildly in either direction, but they're rarely ever correct.

Dress: Sue Wong
Necklace: from Nordstrom ages ago (it was actually a multi-strand necklace that I took apart and reassembled into one long strand)
Shoes: John Fluevog

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Writer's Block


For this outfit, I simply swapped out the bottom half of this outfit and tied the scarf in a shorter configuration. I just love how this cropped shirt makes even a casual outfit like this one look interesting. This is the last of my outfits from before I took a week off to spend with family and friends.

I'll be honest with you; since being back from my time off I haven't been terribly inspired by my wardrobe. For one thing I've been sick, which has left me feeling lethargic and decidedly unimaginative in the mornings. I've also been exceedingly stressed out at work, which hasn't helped. I've photographed only half of the work outfits I've worn since my break, because the rest were just too boring. I think I have the sartorial equivalent of writer's block.

Tank: layering tank
Cropped shirt: Asos
Scarf: Express
Jeans: Joe's
Bracelet: Nicole Miller
Bag: Michael Kors
Shoes: Born

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Latest News from the Audra Jean Etsy Shop

A number of people have asked me recently if I'm still making hats for the Etsy shop. The answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no, so I figured now would be a good time to give an update on the shop and highlight a few of the things that we've been working on.

Photos: Blioux photography, www.blioux.com

Mark and I have felt for awhile now that my hats and his leather accessories didn't mesh very well in the shop. The problem however, is that once you have an Etsy shop you cannot simply change the shop's name (one of the many idiotic things about Etsy that drives me nuts). As Mark's leather wares have grown in popularity, we were hesitant to move his stuff to a new shop and potentially lose our established customer base. And since the vast majority of the shop customers are there for the leather goods, we decided to make the existing shop exclusively his, even though it's still called Audra Jean. I do generate designs from time to time, but my biggest contributions to the shop these days are the photographs of the pieces on the dress form, and ones where I'm modeling the stuff (although I'd like to think I'm also Mark's muse). As my hat listings have expired, I simply haven't renewed them as we continue to think about the best option for migrating them somewhere else.


 Modeled by Nikki Dubose, Stylist: Francy Freixas


For the time being I do still take hat orders via the Audra Jean Etsy shop when they crop up. Sometimes people will dig up a past hat I've made via an expired or sold listing, and sometimes I get requests for custom work. Lately I've been doing lots of custom work for friends, neighbors, etc. which is always fun. Hats are a tough item to sell online; many people these days are not used to wearing hats and are uncomfortable buying one without seeing how it looks on them. It is likely that if/when I launch a new online shop it will focus mainly on fascinators and mini hats, which are one size fits all. In the meantime I'll be looking for brick and mortar shops in San Francisco (I do still sell a few things at Dark Garden) where I can sell my other designs.


Photography by Nick Mitchell
Hair by Angela Mitchell at Alter Ego Hair Design
Model Morgana www.threnodyinvelvet.com


In the meantime, Mark has steadily been building his portion of the shop into quite a business. He's worked with a number of professional stylists and photographers, from which we've gotten some beautiful images of his work modeled by the gorgeous ladies you see here. His work has appeared in Auxiliary Magazine, on Stylecaster, and most recently in Factice Magazine. Several of his pieces were also used in a theatrical performance called Secret Show, featuring Cirque du Soleil dancers. Click here to watch the amazing trailer for this performance; a couple of promo photos are below.


Photos: Anna Sweet


Mark has also caught the eye of a number of bloggers with vastly different personal styles. If you read Megan Mae you'll have seen her recently sporting a fabulous military + feminine look incorporating Mark's Genevieve bronze underbust harness. Darling MJ over at Dreaming Spires and Old Car Tyres has both the Jane Doe and Zoe harnesses, which she incorporates into her daily wear. Joy at Just Like Sushi sports the pretty Jane Light caramel-colored harness, our own beloved Sal wears the black Selena harness, and the lovely ladies at Singapore-based Monoxious have impeccably styled the Raven cross-strap harness, the Jane Doe, and the Annabelle double belt harness. The image below, featuring a custom piece Mark made, appeared in the street style section of the Dutch newspaper het Parool. This is just to name a few. It's amazing to see how many ways people style these pieces.


photography: marc van der zouw (Thanks, Suz!)


Finally, Mark has created a Facebook page, where you can stay up to date on what's happening at the shop, see customer appreciation photos, and so on. We actually need to migrate it to a different account so that the page has more functionality, but for now you can find us here. Don't ask me about Twitter; as talented as Mark is at working with leather, he's terrible at self-promotion, so it's taken us until now just to get the Facebook page going. I'm certainly not holding my breath for any tweets.

Stop by the shop and check out Mark's latest items, and be sure to "Like" us on Facebook. Stay tuned for further shop developments!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bare Legs Weather



This outfit came together perfectly in terms of colors and patterns, but wearing tights with this skirt was an utter failure. Sure, it looks good, but the skirt fabric sticks so readily to the tights that even with a slip underneath it was a huge pain to keep the skirt from riding up my legs when I walked. I adore this skirt, but it is definitely only suitable for bare legs weather. And bare legs weather is NOT what we are experiencing in SF right now.

This cardigan has proven to be one of those "how did I ever live without it?" kind of items. This outfit is the fourth time it's made an appearance on the blog, but since I bought it in May I've worn it many more times for casual weekend or after-work outfits.

Cardigan: Anthropologie
Top: Sisley
Skirt: Sisley
Necklace: Dana LeBlanc Designs
Bag: Coccinelle
Shoes: BCBGirls

Friday, July 15, 2011

Crazy Long Shirt


I saw this long, striped shirtdress on Asos and instantly fell in love. The fabric is very sheer and light, and I knew it would be great layered up for interesting office looks as well as more costumey outfits. As a dress, it really doesn't have a whole lot of shape, but worn open as a crazy long shirt I feel like it works really well. When I saw the picture on the Asos site, this is exactly how I knew I'd be wearing it.

For this outfit, I created shaping at the waist using my wide elastic belt. Without it the dress is very straight and boxy. You can tell from the back view that I actually had to scrunch a lot of the fabric together in the back to make it hang the way I wanted; elastic is really the best sort of belt for this application because once the fabric is in place it will stay there.

The dress nearly skims the floor on the long side; in fact, without heels I think it would be too long. But I'm pretty sure I'll be wearing heels whenever I wear this, so I quickly vetoed my initial idea to shorten it.

Shirtdress: Asos
Top: Max Studio
Ponte knit pants: Club Monaco
Belt: Red Dress Shoppe
Boots: All Black
Bracelet: Betsey Johnson
Earrings: Leslie Danzis

             

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Happy Bastille Day



Whoops, I completely forgot to write a blog post today. Here's an outfit from before my time off. And that's pretty much all I have to say about it, because I'm off to celebrate Bastille Day. As we do in San Francisco. Vive la France!

Shirt: Promod
Skirt: Asos
Shoes: Michael Kors

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Juana



This was the outfit I wore when Mark and I went out to dinner for his birthday a couple weeks ago. It's notable mainly because of the necklace; it's the Juana skull necklace by Wendy Brandes. I had wanted it for ages and finally got off my duff and bought it when Wendy announced that her prices were about to go up because of the skyrocketing price of silver and gold. I'm so glad I did! The craftsmanship is wonderful, and those big sparkly sapphire eyes make the pendant really eye-catching. I wore it sans earrings so that the pendant would be the focal point.

Mark's birthday dinner was at Espetus Churrascaria Brazilian Steakhouse, and was incredible. Though I had lived right down the street from Espetus for years, I hadn't ever been until the other night. We gorged ourselves on delicious cuts of steak and other barbecued meats as well as an awesome array of salads and sides. It reminded me very much of the dinners, or rather feasts, that Jess and I had when we visited Buenos Aires. I was especially glad I wore stretchy, non-constricting clothes that night, because Juana certainly wasn't helping me clean my plate.

Top: Max Studio
Cardigan: Anthropologie
Ponte knit pants: Club Monaco
Boots: All Black
Necklace: Wendy Brandes

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What Was I Thinking?


I loved how this outfit looked, but holy crap was it uncomfortable! I hadn't worn these jeans in quite some time, and after a couple hours of wearing them I remembered why: they're way too tight. They were way too tight when I bought them, but I foolishly listened to the sales girl who told me they're supposed to fit this way. So sad; the jeans are adorable but they have to go. What was I thinking, buying pants that are a good 2 sizes too small?

Top: Mica
Cardigan: Anthropologie
Jeans: Dittos
Necklace: glass shop in Venice
Shoes: Bettye Muller

Monday, July 11, 2011

Getting Caught Up



I'm still getting caught up after my busy weekend, but I thought I'd better get some of these older outfits posted. For this one I reused the blue/burgundy color combo that caught my eye in the Christian Dior Fall line.

This necklace is tough to wear, because it requires a very wide open neckline, much wider than I typically wear. But I liked the way it looked with the blue color and the crane pattern, so I decided not to care that it overlapped the top in sort of a funky way.


Dress: Max Studio
Top: French Connection
Necklace: Rapsodia (Argentina)
Tights: Wolford
Bag: Foley + Corinna
Bracelet: Leslie Danzis
Shoes: Tsubo

Monday, July 4, 2011

Time Off


It's the 4th of July, which I'm not really celebrating in any specific way, but which qualifies as a holiday in my book for one important reason: I have the day off work. I guess that right there is reason enough to celebrate, right? But more importantly, I'm taking the entire WEEK off because Mark's and my family and friends are coming to town a few days from now to help us belatedly celebrate our marriage. And since preparing for all these visitors is going to require quite a bit of my time, I'm taking rest of the week off from blogging (and most likely reading and commenting) as well.

For my friends in the US, have a wonderful holiday and here's hoping you've got the day off too. I'll be back next week with more outfits!

Friday, July 1, 2011

San Francisco Travel Guide, Part 1: Shopping


As should be obvious by now, I ADORE my home city of San Francisco. I feel incredibly lucky to live here, as a result of both my own observations and experiences here, as well as comments I've heard from others while traveling abroad. Whenever I tell someone where I'm from, I inevitably get one of two responses: "San Francisco is the best place I've ever been!" or, "I've always dreamed of going to San Francisco!" And comments like that really help a person not to take their city for granted. I've been to a lot of wonderful places, but in the end none of them really feels like home the way San Francisco does for me.

So, having gotten a few requests from readers for a post about what to see and do while visiting  San Francisco, I present to you this mini travel guide to my own beloved home town. This will be a series in several parts, spread out over a couple of weeks. For the first installment I figured I'd focus on the topic foremost in many of our minds: shopping. I won't claim that this will be a comprehensive guide; it's just a collection of some of my favorite spots in town.
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Haight Street

Before I even get started talking about Haight Street, let me just make one thing clear: while the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood was once the mecca of hippies, and while a handful of stores in that area are still trying to capitalize on that history, San Francisco is NOT a hippie far-out peace-and-love granola-eating town where everyone is high all the time and there are vegan restaurants on every corner. I HATE that fucking image! Why can no one do a show about San Francisco and not mention hippies and tie dye and bongs? THE SIXTIES ARE OVER. I wish everyone could just let them go. 

That said, if you really want to see the dregs of what's left of hippie culture, I suppose the Upper Haight is the place to do it. Sigh. Despite that though, there really is some fantastic shopping in that area; I'd recommend going during the week if possible or before noon on the weekends of you want to avoid the crowds. If you want to get the full spectrum of Haight Street shopping in one day, start in the Upper Haight, and when the streets start to fill up with tourists and hipsters (or are those homeless people? It can be hard to tell.), make your way to Lower Haight to finish there (for more descriptions of Upper and Lower Haight, see this post). 

Some of my favorite shops in the Upper Haight: Ambiance (huge variety of designers and price points), Held Over (vintage clothing), Shoe Biz, John Fluevog, Goodwill, Decades of Fashion (high end vintage), Ruby (carries many local designers), Ceiba Records (steampunk/Burning Man styles), and Skunkfunk. As you go from Upper to Lower Haight, take a short detour down Divisadero Street to Swankety Swank (local designers), Prairie Collective, and Backspace. In Lower Haight proper there's a great import store called P-Kok, Lower Haters (locally-made art, clothing, and accessories), and new shops that seem to keep cropping up all the time.



The Mission District

The Mission District, once a largely Latino neighborhood, has morphed into Hipster Central in recent years. That doesn't mean it isn't worth checking out though; the hipsters rightfully love it because it's got cool bars, the best weather in the city (you'd be amazed how the weather can vary neighborhood to neighborhood in a city of only 7x7 miles), a wide variety of high quality restaurants, and you guessed it: great shopping. It also has one of the prettiest parks in town (Dolores Park), the old mission (which was one of the locations in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo), and lots of beautiful murals that adorn the walls around the neighborhood. I'll cover eating, drinking, and sights in other posts, but for now let's talk shopping.

Along the Valencia corridor between 15th and 17th Streets is the heart of the Mission's shopping area. Between Guererro and Valencia on 16th Street you'll find two of my favorites, Sunhee Moon and Candystore Collective; round the corner onto Valencia Street and you'll find Five and Diamond, which has the best variety of steampunk clothing in the city. Further along are MultiKulti, Weston Wear, and Therapy. In the other direction down Valencia (towards 15th) is a clothing-by-the-pound store, and ADS Hats. If you wander outside the 15th to 17th Street center, you'll find additional shops in the 21st to 24th Street area.



Hayes Valley

Tiny Patricia's Green park, which interrupts Octavia Street where it meets Fell Street, is at the center of the Hayes Valley shopping district. Once a neglected corner of the city that decayed beneath a freeway off-ramp, the neighborhood had new life breathed into it when the ramp was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and the city opted to tear the structure down rather than rebuild. Since then, Hayes Valley has undergone a complete transformation, and is now one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in town. Here you'll find high end shops mixed with neighborhood drinking establishments, excellent restaurants, some of the city's finest coffee served out of an old auto shop, and an innovative ice cream shop created from a ship's cargo container. Patricia's Green also features temporary art installations that made their debuts at Burning Man; the installation above is called "Ecstasy."

Along Hayes Street between Laguna and Gough are a bunch of great shops: Bulo (shoes), Lava 9, Duke et Duchesse, and several others. Just around the corner on Octavia Street, local designers Lemon Twist have a charming little shop. A few blocks away on Gough  (pronounced "Goff") Street, you'll find the best place to buy a San Francisco souvenir: Gangs of San Francisco. Forget about those dumb sweatshirts they sell down at Fisherman's Wharf; GOSF creates clothing that memorializes forgotten institutions of San Francisco's past, such as the Sutro Speedsters speed skating team, and the Bear Flag Rebels. Along the edge of the Patricia's Green is a tiny alley called Linden, where you can shop for the finest custom corsets in town at Dark Garden, and perhaps see some of my own hat creations as well.


Read more about the SF phenomenon known as the parklet here.

Noe Valley

Among locals, Noe Valley is known for its suburban feel; it's a little further away from the bustle of the city center, and it feels cleaner and quieter than other parts of town. People who can afford to stay in San Francisco after they have kids generally end up either here or in the Marina District. As much as I like to poke fun at people who live there, it really is a charming part of town, and one that's pretty well off the tourist path. It also boasts one of the finest restaurants in town; like I said I'll cover food in another post, but it bears repeating that Incanto is not to be missed. Make a reservation far in advance, spend an afternoon shopping in Noe Valley, and end the day enjoying one of the most phenomenal dinners you'll ever eat.

Along 24th Street between Castro and Church Streets is where you'll find most of Noe Valley's shops. There's another Ambiance store there, a number of other small clothing boutiques, as well as some cute antique shops, used book stores, and interesting handmade jewelry at Qoio.



Thrift Shopping in San Francisco

Some great thrift shopping can be done in San Francisco, but in general, expect to pay more than you're used to elsewhere. My favorites are the Goodwill flagship store on Mission Street, Clothes Contact (the aforementioned clothing-by-the-pound store), the Goodwill on Haight Street, and Out of the Closet at Church and Duboce. There's also Thrift Town on 16th and Mission Streets, but in my experience it takes a little more patience to find any real treasures there. The first two, as well as Thrift Town, can be wrapped into a Mission District shopping day (though the flagship store is a few blocks' walk away from all the rest); the Haight Street Goodwill is in the Upper Haight and Out of the Closet is a couple blocks away from the Lower Haight.

Another option would be one of several local flea markets. Every Sunday there's the Alemany Flea Market, which is free. On the third Sunday of each month is the massive Candlestick Park Antiques and Collectibles Faire, which is well worth the trip if your visit happens to coincide. There's a $5-10 admission to get in, but the selection is amazing and the prices are surprisingly good. Many vendors sell vintage clothing as well as other antiques. Finally, across the bay on the first Sunday of each month is the Alameda Point Antiques Faire, which is one of the largest flea markets around.
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Well, I think that ought to keep you busy; if you need more after all that, you're a far more dedicated shopper than I am. One final thought: I didn't cover the obvious shopping mecca that is Union Square, where you'll find all the big department stores, chains such as All Saints, Desigual, Urban Outfitters, and H&M, and high end designers such as Prada and Louis Vuitton. But my feeling is that you can get that same shopping experience in any big city; if you don't have those stores back home then it's worth a visit, but if it's a uniquely San Francisco experience you're after, you need to get away from downtown and head into the neighborhoods.