POV: You're a humble bookstore owner in New York. As much as you love summer, there's something about the crispness of fall in the city that just makes you want to buy school supplies. A backpack! A new bike perhaps? A bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils even! You always take the same route to your store, but today's a bit different. You swing by the bodega to pick up the end of the season's fresh sunflowers — they have your card on file so you keep cruising past. Down the avenue you go, to a looming intersection where a large store sign is being installed. "Who calls a bookstore 'Fox' anyway?" you wonder to yourself, peering into their covered windows where there's undoubtedly a chain coffee shop counter being mounted, alongside mass manufactured bookshelves in a very predictable (and boring) oak finish.
You sigh, just as a cab honking nearby startles you out of your thoughts. Now remembering the shipment of L.M. Montgomery books you've been expecting for weeks, you hop back on your bike to beeline to the shop around the corner. Breezing in through the front door, now looking for a vase for your sunflowers, your mind wanders again..."I wonder how L.M. Montgomery would write an email to a man she hardly knows...?"
Cultivate your life like a garden. Seek out the flowers that make you smile, whose scent bears fond memories. Appreciate the sun and the way it makes life dance at your feet. Embrace the rain when it falls, it strengthens your roots. After all, you decide where to ultimately plant yourself — make sure it's amongst those who only want to see you bloom, grow and stretch toward the sky.
Suddenly, one day it happens. You free yourself from caring what others think of you. The weight of their opinions, their judgements, their approvals and disapprovals is no longer a burden strapped to your back. And you find the freedom and the courage to dance.
Dearest Gentle Reader, If there's anything this jaded author loves more than the promise of a new social season, it's the promise of a new scandalous social season. For here in the ton, we all know the two go hand in hand, much like Queen and country. Best of luck out there, ladies. May the brightest Diamond outshine them all.
The ladies of the ton are wearing some beautiful pieces on loan from Nova Octo — if you're preparing for the social season ahead as well, be sure to use the code "KRYSTAL20" for 20% off your rental!
My favorite kind of people? The curious ones. The ones who ask questions. The ones who stop in their tracks to admire how the sky looks. Or perhaps to listen to a musician playing on the street, when others merely pass by. The ones who flip ideas on their heads and marvel at the result. The ones who pursue paths with vivacity. The ones who don't mind not knowing everything, because it means they have so much in front of them to look forward to. The ones who admire the unknown because it reminds them of how deeply gratifying mysteries can be to the human spirit. The ones who find beauty where others refuse to look. The ones who create beauty where others refuse to create.
We snapped these photos at the New York Public Library, one of my favorite places in the city for the sheer volumes of curiosity it holds within its walls, wearing an outfit I put together inspired by two trailblazing, independent and yes, curious women, Katharine Hepburn and Adele (specifically her latest Vogue shoot), in a few new favorite, collegiate-inspired pieces from Brooks Brothers.
I think it's easy to assume a beautiful life needs to be grand. Needs to be impressive. Needs to place you at the top of your game or your industry and needs to garner a social currency that supports its claim to beauty. But what if a beautiful life is much more simple than that? Much more quiet than that? Much more understated than that? Perhaps a beautiful life isn't one we construct carefully for others to admire from the outside, it's the one we build silently in our hearts that doesn't seek approval or praise. Perhaps a beautiful life isn't so much seen, it's felt.
Hope you're all easing back into the swing of things at a pace that makes sense for you. Remember, a little grace for yourself goes a long way! (I'm trying to remind myself of this often.)
A reminder for me and a reminder for you that crossed my path today: "Artists are not like athletes. We cannot win gold. We cannot beat other creatives. We cannot come first. Sport is objective. Our craft is subjective. Creating to 'be the best' is a waste of energy. Instead, create to connect to the people who need you. Because they're out there. Create in your way, because there is no right way. Take the pressure off and focus on your unique brand of magic." ~ Author unknown to me (but if anyone recognizes it, please let me know).
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Admittedly, I'm feeling quite defeated at the moment (for a lot of reasons actually that perhaps I'll write through soon, some personal, some professional) but until then, I'm going to try to repeat the above quote to myself. As driven as we all are to receive social media affirmation of our work, our thoughts, our ideas, I'm trying to remind myself that I'm not cut out to compete with people that way, especially when it comes to my craft. I hope you can see and come to believe that concept, too.
I know sales are a plenty right now and if you're like me, they're quite possibly a bit overwhelming. (Unpopular confession: if I have to hear the phrase Amazon Prime Day one more time, I might chuck my phone out the window.) Ever since last year, perhaps because of the pandemic and largely because of age, I've curtailed my spending when it comes to season over season investments, opting instead to either rent pieces where I can (Rent the Runway is still a favorite in my closet) or snag very specific pieces when they go on sale. I focus less on trends and more on gaps in my wardrobe and thankfully, each year, the gaps get smaller and smaller.
When it comes to summer sales, my cart fills up with white dresses of all sorts. Formal, casual and everything in between. As I was packing up this Tove dress I scooped last summer for our trip to Boston last week, I decided to check and see if it had been restocked for this season. I'm happy to report it is and it's delightfully on sale, to boot, along with a good handful of other white dresses.
Simply add a (safe, possibly spray?) tan to the mix and you're ready for the spoils of summer!
In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this month, I wanted to round up a handful of AAPI-owned brands — namely from the fashion and home space — to share with you all today. Some are old favorites of mine and others are new discoveries (I just ordered my first bottle of Brightland olive oil and I cannot wait for it arrive)! Of course, there are many ways (big and small) we can all get involved in the fight against Asian hate — I've shared a list of starting points here in this post, in case you're curious. But today, I wanted to focus on harnessing our spending power to stimulate the AAPI community, the benefits of which directly aid owners, help increase equity and generational wealth and overall, builds solidarity with AAPI people.
Of course, I'd love to hear about your favorite AAPI-owned brands — please leave me a comment below!
2. Petite Studio: Another New York-based brand, focusing on sustainable and slow fashion principles in designing and tailoring clothes for petite frames. Their summer dresses right now are especially darling!
3. Kinn: Classically modern jewelry pieces — both new and sourced vintage — at an attainable price point. All in-house designed pieces are made using solid gold that's regulated by the Responsible Jewelry Council and sourced from responsible, traceable mining organizations.
4. Dauphinette: I recently discovered this brand on one of my walks home through the West Village. Their flagship store is right off 7th Avenue at Bedford — and their window is full of delightfully whimsical pieces, each one using recycled and byproduct fur, leather, vintage and artisanal components.
5. Wing on Wo: A staple in the heart of Chinatown here in NYC, Wing On Wo is a shop of finely crafted porcelain wonders. Think decorative display plates, table centerpieces, delicate tea sets. Would make for a wonderful wedding present or housewarming gift.
6. Gossamer: Another new discovery for me — Gossamer is a finely curated vintage shop and rental service, specializing in the most beautifully ethereal dresses from the early 20th century to the 70s.
7. Brightland: Since we've been getting more comfortable cooking at home these days, I've noticed I get oddly excited about new pans, new cookbooks and yes, new olive oil, which is where Brightland comes in. Made at a family-run farm in California, their oil is never rotten, over-processed or fraudulent, with no fillers or artificial preservatives. Plus, the bottle is beautiful. Count me in!
8. Lu France: My online cart is already starting to fill up here! All handmade and ethically sourced home decor pieces, the brand works directly with artisans and small businesses around the world (from the Philippines to Montreal) and their selection is positively calming.
9. Bash & Sass: Founded by my dear friend and former Google coworker, Irene Lee, Bash & Sass is a gender neutral brand created for the "little minimalist" age 6 months to 12 years old. If you have a little one in your life, I dare you to browse through her selection and NOT find something you love. Trust me, you'll be hard pressed.
You all know, I love romanticizing things as much as I can. Trust me, if I can find a way to romanticize something as mundane as a grocery store trip or refilling your gas tank, I will and I often do. So when it comes to building a nighttime wardrobe — a component of our closets that I think is sorely undervalued and overlooked — I've slowly been redefining what that might look like for me, a woman with her head in the clouds at all times. After a year or more that's been dominated by all things comfortable and "quarantine-ready" I for one, realized how much I do yearn for lounge-friendly clothes that feel elevated, elegant and, dare I say, romantic.
Cue Une Femme New York — a female owned brand reimagining and embracing the long lost art of a woman's trousseau. What's a trousseau you ask? A trousseau is a collection of possessions, such as clothing, jewelry, and linens, that a bride assembles to prepare for her wedding day and for marriage.
I discovered Une Femme New York thanks to their dreamy Instagram page — and after DMing/emailing their founder and creative director, T.A. Rudder, I soon realized we're very much kindred spirits who appreciate a bit of whimsy and escapism in everything that we do.
Rudder is trained in both fashion illustration and manufacturing at New York's FIT and takes great care to not only produce pieces that embody stories all their own (each garment is named for a different literary character) but she does so with sustainability top of mind, using organic cotton, upcycled material, and dead stock fabric from luxury fashion houses in New York. I've rounded up a few of my favorite pieces below — but tell me, what's your favorite?
Oh, the elusive spring jacket. Light enough to show off a dress underneath. Warm enough to brave an inevitable spring chill. Usually ends up pulling at the heartstrings the most, because it's designed for aesthetic purposes, more so than functionality. It's only true downfall is that it's shelf-life is tragically short-lived. In New York particularly, there's a brief, fleeting window, usually occurring at the end of March through April, sometimes into May, where you'll pull these spring jackets out of the depths of your closet. Wedged between a puffer coat and that one long, sleeveless vest that you wonder why you still have — you'll rescue them for a breath of fresh air, a good steam to let out the winter wrinkles and perhaps an oyster date at Grand Banks, where the chill off the water will give you goosebumps (but the buzz of your chilled Sauvignon Blanc and said spring coat will save the day).
Where am I going with this? Well, over the years, I've accumulated my fair share of spring jackets, especially while living in San Francisco, a city where it's perma-almost spring, almost winter, one day of summer, year round. And I've learned one very important lesson: you don't need many of them. Trust me. I've made that mistake before. If you disregard leather jackets (because there is no such thing as too many leather jackets), my arsenal really consists of two spring jackets — two trench coats to be exact — one by Burberry and the other by Boden, the former in their Kensington cut, in a traditional "honey" color and the latter a deep navy, perfect for a nautical inspired look.
As for this trench you see here? Ah, well, that's the secret loophole I'm going to let you in on. When it comes to trench dresses — those that can serve double duty as either a dress or a coat depending on your mood and the fickleness of the weather— all bets are off. While I didn't snag this particular A.W.A.K.E. Mode dress to come home with me the other day, I have to say, I think my spring jackets would be quite fond of her, wouldn't you agree?