Posts Tagged ‘oh the old days’
Loyal reader Nancy wrote in yesterday to say she was surprised I hadn’t weighed in on the passing of Loehmann’s, and to ask if I had any special memories of the place. And indeed I do, although they don’t involve any momentous scores, but instead, epic humiliation at the hands of my bargain-happy grandmother Gelta, for whom Loehmann’s was an opiate as powerful as heroin. It was the only place she would take me shopping, and one of the few where she would buy for herself, even though my grandfather was a successful man who wanted only for her to have the nicest things. Part of the horror of going to Loehmann’s with Gelta was that she had no filter, and this could spell trouble for an easily embarrassed 14 year-old girl in a communal dressing room. Like the time I’d just tried on a pair of white jeans with rainbows on the pockets and she started picking indelicately at the inseam, and announced, “Kimberly, these are TOO TIGHT IN THE CROTCH, ” loud enough that all of the women in our direct proximity actually turned around to see what she could be referring to. If the ground had opened up and swallowed me whole at that moment, I would only have been grateful.
That’s my memory. Now I want to hear yours. Was it something like an amazing Helmut Lang coat, like Nancy, or a markdown-crazed family member, like me?
Sometimes I see guys in their forties skateboarding, and I wonder if they know how ridiculously aging hipster they look. And then I totally obsess over something like this t-shirt—an exact replica of the one Debbie Harry wore on the second-ever cover of Punk magazine—and I am suddenly compelled to cut them some serious slack.
A friend’s Tunisian mother once taught me an old French housewife’s trick: if you lose something around the house, tie a knot in a kitchen towel and you will find it. This works surprisingly well, and—I eventually realized—for such a simple reason. You tie the knot and then trust in the knot, and trusting in the knot bestows freedom to go on about your daily business. It is only after your harried search of ever-less-likely locations ceases that the item in question presents itself, usually in a spot you never would have arrived at had you not simply gotten back to your routine. Because it was over the course of everyday living that you lost it.
This is not unlike how I feel about the sudden reappearance of of Indian block t-shirts. Back in my boarding school days, this was the single article of clothing that transcended classification: the scary hippie girls combined it with gauzy tiered skirts, beaten-in denim jackets, Chinese slippers, and the clove cigarettes that gave them all a faint aroma of baked hams. The preppy girls kitted it out with khakis, fisherman’s rope bracelets, and Topsiders—and on them, the Indian block t-shirt came off like a more exotic variation on a Lilly Pulitzer print. I acquired one or two, but they are long, long gone. And at some point over the past couple of years, I developed a deep desire for another. But this once-ubiquitous item had became impossible to locate. Which was confounding: in an ethnic print-hungry age, how could it be that nobody had thought to bring these back? After a while, I stopped spinning my wheels and moved on. And then last Thursday, as I headed up Ninth Avenue en route to the Rag & Bone sample sale, I saw this in the window of Calypso. Closer inspection revealed it to be the genuine article. I told the cute twentyish salesgirl how much I’d loved these in high school; how happy I was to find them again. “Yeah,” she said, “we’re getting a lot of that.”
Neitzsche may have called nostalgia “a blank check written to a weak mind,” but I say no harm done as long as your trips down the rabbit hole are precious and few. I loved the nineties in a way I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to say I loved another decade—mostly because I was young and carefree, probably, but also because the nineties were an inclusive, fun, all-around exhilarating time to be involved in the popular culture. And this Bikini Kill poster is taking me right back to the green-carpeted, zine-strewn tumbledown offices of of Sassy magazine, circa 1992, in the very best possible way. Profits from all sales go to benefit The Girls Rock Camp Alliance—and it was created in a very limited edition, so do not delay.
Do you guys have clocks in your homes? Because I don’t anymore. Not one. If I wake up in the middle of the night wondering how late it is, I need glance no further than the cable box. In the morning, my iPhone’s alarm wakes me, and throughout the rest of my apartment, I need never wonder the hour for long, because any number of gadgets artlessly blare it. I no longer tell time by looking at clocks, and that is too bad, because clocks can bring such excellent little moments of good design into our lives, and that’s something to preserve, no? This classic Nelson clock is so brilliantly early-space-program (maybe only in my mind though; it was designed much earlier) that I can practically taste 1964 when I look at it. For a less splurgy version, here’s a quite similar take for just $40.
Half trippy, half classic, and, from the looks of it, totally useful as a paperweight, too.
This one is sort of like the periscope of the most orangey-orange submarine ever.
A reader named Leslie got in touch in to say she was having a hard time tracking them down: “These appear not to be available anymore,” she wrote. “How can it be?” I believed it couldn’t possibly—and felt a generational obligation to investigate.*
Leslie had no cause for concern. Dr. Scholl’s Exercise Sandals still very much exist, although most of the newer models aren’t going to please purists: the soles are darker and look synthetic, its classic lines have been messed with, and the sole has a rubbery middle layer. All of this combines rather unfortunately to make them look like Dr. Scholl’s knockoffs instead of the real thing. For those, you’ll need to turn to our old friends at the Vermont Country Store where they’ve them in all their jolie laide glory, in blue, beige, and white, just like you remember them.
The ad is from a vintage issue of Seventeen, and I’m trying to figure out precisely how vintage: what do you say, guys? 78? 79? Possibly early, early 80s? That short denim skirt is throwing me off, but the parted-down-the-center-feathered hair of the guy to the left is pure 1978.
I’ve only been to Portland once, to call on some advertising decision-making types at Nike back when I had just become an editor in chief. I got to take in the spectacle that is the Nike campus, with its roaming packs of cheery lunch break joggers, and its famously well-stocked (and crazy cheap) company store, where I spent thirty very magical minutes. But that was it: we had to scoot right out of town and back to New York, and ever since, I’ve wanted to return. Portland strikes me as what would happen if Seattle and Brooklyn had a baby. But beyond all the crunchy PC loopiness, the bearded hipster gentlemen churning their own cheese, and children with names that are actually verbs; beyond all that which appears legitimately silly and lampoon-able about Portland, it also seems like a quite pleasant place to actually be. And even though I’m definitely in New York for the long haul, I’ve more than once thought it might be a nice place to live.
Portland also has a number of very cool stores, which is of course another reason why I want to visit. I think I could probably spend a small fortune at the nouvelle general store Canoe, for instance, starting with this very sturdy little tote, which owes all of its fabulosity to that red strap.
And a little cluster of these teardrop vases would be quite nice, no? They’re made by a local glass artist, and seem very Portland in that they are crafty around the edges, but streamlined enough not to come off hippie-ish.
Such a cool little modular storage solution for all your desk junk.
I use synthetic cutting boards now because they seem so much more sanitary, but truly, is there anything more elegant and old school than this? One could always just serve cheese on it, but Julia Child wouldn’t.
Were one to make a list of enterprises least likely to succumb to the twee treatment, hardware stores would rank somewhere at or near the top. But that’s pretty much the shape of things at Hand-Eye Supply, the retail arm of hipster industrial design magazine Core 77. They’ve got work gear at Hand Eye, but we’re not talking Dickies and Carhartt: everything is highly curated, from the shop coats from a 100 year-old company in Tennessee to the work jackets sourced from Sweden. That stuff is mostly for the guys, and it is all, of course, as suitable for the woodworking shed as it is for the the microbrew pub. On the cuter side of things, you can pick yourself up this special, custom-illustrated Hand-Eye Supply bandana.
I am forever opening packages with inappropriate implements—scissors, pens—and either destroying the implements or hurting myself. Possibly a nifty little pocket knife is the way to go.
Also: this leather -bottom bucket has dog toy storage written all over it.
Stand Up Comedy could easily exist on the Lower East Side: their stable of designers is just as esoteric as what one might find at, say, Assembly or Maryam Nassir Zadeh, and I even get a New York-ish not quite cool enough for our room vibe from their minimal, not entirely customer-friendly site as well. Still, they sell exactly the type of drapey, asymmetrical, possibly-not-the-world’s-most-flattering dress I lived in my last couple of years in an office, when comfort came first, and cool second.
Like exactly this: brilliant print. Very little in the way of a shape. Totally there.
I would have thrown this on with a black cardi and tights and worn in all winter.
There are a lot of these platform fisherman’s sandals around for spring. And every time I see them, I think of the type of girl they remind me of from high school. The one who hung out with the stoners but was secretly in all accelerated classes; who was kind of bitchy until she liked you, and even then always kept you guessing.
She wore an army jacket, pretty much every day.
And the ID bracelet that her boyfriend who already graduated gave her.
She knew who the Ramones were before anyone.
And her bag always smelled like pot and Tic Tacs.
…and Dr. Pepper Lip Smackers.
I’ve been finding chambray blazers all over the place, and cute as they are (and un-modern as it is for me to admit this) I look at them and all I see are 70s flashbacks. Thoughts?