This time around, I’ve added a few brands suggested by readers, and consulted two excellent sites, The American Edit, and The American-Made Guide to Life for backup. As usual, chime in with any favorites you think I’d like in the comments, as there shall be a Part III.
CapitalEyewear Glasses The eyewear business, as many of you know, is big old racket controlled almost entirely by a single huge conglomerate called Luxxotica: it is because of them that frames, which really don’t need to cost so much, do. Capital Eyewear is an indie straight out of California happily defying Luxxotica’s iron grasp, and producing a small-but-compelling range of glasses for under $150. The wooden frames are something to behold, if not actually wear.
Catbird Jewelry The folks over at Catbird totally get the whole little-bit-of-accessible-luxury thing: I can always find something to desire while browsing their site, or on visits to their tiny-and-always-jam-packed Williamsburg store.
Clare Vivier Bags Turns out everybody’s favorite anti-status handbag is made right in LA. I’ve currently got their Sac Bretelle in heavy rotation: it fits all the necessities while remaining supremely lightweight.
Faribault Woolen Mill Co. Blankets, Throws, Scarves This Minnesota-based mill—going strong for well over a century—churns out some absolute classics. A throw like this could be at home in your home whether your aesthetic is midcentury, bohemian, or antiquey-American.
Heath Ceramics Tableware If an earthquake hit New York and all my dishes were destroyed, this is precisely where I’d go to start all over.
Organic by John Patrick Apparel, lingerie. A small but lovely line composed of classics made modern—the perfect cardigan, a live-in-it crewneck—and the most splurge-worthy camis and bias-cut slips I’ve yet to come across.
The Podolls Apparel This San Francisco-based line is notable mostly for the pieces they execute in handwoven fabrics from India and Japan: the prints are so good that they know to keep the silhouettes simple—just how I like them.
20X200 This brilliant online venture brings gallery-quality work by contemporary artists to the people. There’s also a pretty nifty vintage section, with work by such masters as New York street photographer Berenice Abbott.
Madewell is having a pretty nice 30% off event right now (type in KEEPCOOL at checkout), and my hoarding instincts are kicking in just looking at all the linen t-shirts up for grabs. Nothing hangs better than a linen tee.
It’s not every day that you see a classic Armor-Lux striped top marked down.
I had a working girls’s lunch with Tribeca Mom and our our friend Danielle yesterday in midtown to celebrate Tribeca Mom’s new job—she’s now the editor of Redbook—and even though she always swore she’d never want to be in the top spot at a magazine (and believe me, there are a lot of reasons not to want to be) she is all in and glowing. Most women who make it to editor in chief start wearing head-to-toe designer the instant they hit the corner office—they become editrix-bots—and I was pleased to note that this was not at all the case with TM, who had on her usual brilliant mix of high/low: a black textured a-line skirt from Club Monaco; a printed top from H&M offshoot Cos; and classic pointy-toe Manolo Blahnik pumps. And then this rather fancy-looking lady bag, which at first I thought was Gucci.
But which turns out to be Ecco, and on sale right now on Zappos. That’s my girl.
Considering what an excellent venue they are for stunning patterns—so much surface area!—I would do well to make room for some nice, full ladylike skirts on my style map. This abstract zebra print would look great now with bare legs, and even better come fall with black tights.
Just a smashingly gorgeous floral that could go ladylike or even kind of edgy, depending on how you had your way with it.
The thick band of of blue at the hem is what saves this skirt from too-girliness and gives it a necessary shot of sophistication. I’d wear it to a summer cocktail party with a just-pressed white button-down, some big gold hoop earrings, and my hair piled on top of my head.
I’m not so much of a bracelet person—they drive me nuts when I’m typing—but I love the way they look against summer-(fake)tanned skin. This clever pyramid tennis bracelet provides a nice stealth touch of punk.
I love when designers go all counterintuitive with eyelet and do it up in really clean, basic shapes, instead of going all fluffy prissypants with it. This Rebecca Taylor tee (also here on sale in limited sizes) has been on my mind since I saw it in her Madison avenue store earlier in the summer.
Black eyelet becomes immediately more sophisticated.
A slouchy option from Rachel Comey.
Flat sandals always feel a little too close to the ground for city wear—I walk a lot, and it’s nice to have at least an inch separating your feet from the filthy summer streets. But when I’m out in Sag Harbor—as I have been all this week—I’m either barefoot or wearing my K Jacques Marathon sandals, which I bought in Paris on vacation when the strap on one of the shoes I was wearing that day abruptly broke in convenient proximity to their store. Three years in and they’re still going strong: not bad at all, considering how trashed most summer shoes look by Labor Day. UPDATE: Here’s a very similar pair that’s available in lots of sizes if yours is sold out.
My hair’s default state is frizzbo, and the humidity out here is turned up to 11 at all times. When things get dire, I smooth on this Absolute Beautifying Potion from Davines—just a few wee drops will do.
I didn’t buy this Maria Cornejo silk jersey dress as an investment piece, but now I’m quite pleased to be able to rationalize it as such: it’s feather-light and comfortable as a caftan, and very dress-me-up-dress-me-down. Note the sleeves, which gently camouflage arm junk while still letting you feel like you’re going sleeveless.
My Sag Harbor packing philosopy: if it doesn’t fit it in my LL Bean tote it doesn’t go.
Tan towels from Kate Somerville aren’t cheap, but they’re so easy to use, and unlike other brands I’ve used in the past, turn your skin a color actually found in nature.
Earrings as big as a baby’s fist are so not in my wheelhouse, but these are a little touch of wacked-out magic.
Buying American is just good juju all-around: You have the satisfaction of knowing your purchase was produced in a safe, clean factory by workers making a decent* wage, and you’re supporting businesses, many of them on the smaller side, that have chosen to keep production—and jobs—stateside, when shipping them overseas would cost a fraction of what they wind up paying here. This means that prices of American-made products can run a bit higher than what’s produced overseas. But in my experience, so does the quality. Here’s a special pre-Independence Day roundup of some of my favorite domestically-made brands (I say “some” because a few really good ones got left out, so there will almost surely be a Part II). Please do weigh in with any personal—and especially local— favorites in the comments.
Billykirk Leather and canvas bags, accessories Billykirk specializes in rough-hewn, classic bags and clutches and totes, and even if you don’t think that’s your thing you may be surprised. It’s true that I love everything that contrasts black with blue, but I especially love how the two shades of blue mix with the black leather accents on this waxed satchel.
Emerson Fry Apparel and accessories It is not overstating matters to say I want every single thing from this line out of New Hampshire, which is very American classic with a nice dose of urban edge thrown in to keep things interesting.
Filson Luggage, outerwear, gear This outdoorsy brand is mostly aimed toward men, but they make fantastic-looking luggage that works for anyone. If I didn’t already own too many rolling carry-ons (have we ever discussed my rolling suitcase problem?) I would totally go for this elegant model.
J Brand Denim Definitely on the very short list of my favorite denim brands. I loathe when anyone swears that one jeans line or another has a “perfect fit”—bodies are so different—but these work on the skinny-assed and wide-of-hip alike.
Schoolhouse Electric Housewares When I describe this Portland-based outfit as utilitarian twee, I actually mean that as a positive. I’ve bought a couple of lamps from them that I love, and I came very close to snapping up some stools before (dejectedly) accepting that my my kitchen counter isn’t deep enough for any.
Steven Alan Apparel The only button-down shirts that don’t make me feel shlumpy and unfeminine are Alan’s reverse seam models: they’re shrunken but not in any kind of horrible cropped way—just sort of like a very well-tailored blazer.
Utility Canvas Canvas bags, quilts, throws Magazines give out a lot of tote bags at events, and by the time I got fired from Lucky, my entire family was totally Lucky-branded. I couldn’t have them all walking around to work and the beach and so forth advertising my former place of employ, so I went to Utility and bought a mess of new, unsullied bags for everyone. I’m an even bigger fan still of their bright and fun quilted blankets and throws.
*Although I hope we can all agree the minimum wage could use some work.
Zebra and snake prints have always struck me as the more warm weather-friendly, but the truth is, nothing pops against white like a good leopard print, and frankly I just don’t feel right if I go more than six months without showing you a fresh batch. For reasons I can’t discern, most sleeveless leopard tops are chiffon and sheer, but this one is cotton and nicely opaque.
A Madewell store just opened up around the corner from my mom’s place about a month ago, and because this could spell big trouble for my wallet, I try to exercise serious self-control on my visits. So I passed on this shift dress recently, but not for any good reason: it’s just the kind of unrestrictive, comfortable and desperately cute piece I like best on the hottest days.
Silk tees are just a beat more elegant than their cotton counterparts, and I like the longer sleeves here.
If not leopard print sunglasses during the summer, then when?
You’ve got to play it really careful with leopard-print heels—things can get really trashy really fast, even if they’re fancy and designer. But these classic Soludos espadrilles are just good fun.