LIFE & STYLE
"It's the Simple Things in Life"
Most of us can agree that we have too much stuff in our lives. The popularity of books on organizing like Marie Kondo’s bestselling “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, the exponentially growing business of home organization services, and the congestion of “stuff” we see trucked to our landfills is indisputable evidence that we are a bit overstuffed with our stuff!
Erin Boyle, Lifestyle Blogger of “Reading My Tea Leaves” has risen to incredible fame by simply sharing how she lives in a 500 square foot apartment in Brooklyn, New York, with two kids. That is no small feat! One of her secrets to solving the Stuff Struggle is focusing on filling her home only with well made things that are truly useful and beautiful.
As housing gets more and more expensive in major cities around the world and every square inch of our home starts to really matter, everyone is asking how do we do more with less? While decluttering and minimizing in our homes are great steps towards unstuffing ourselves and making room for greater comfort, another avenue to consider involves enjoying some creative “More With Less” gift giving ideas. If you or your friends are moving towards minimizing check out this little gift list of life changing experiences to share during the special moments in your lives. Enjoy the making of memories instead of giving each other more stuff.
1. GIFT CERTIFICATES
The secret behind the perfect gift certificate is one that allows your friend to enjoy an adventure rather than an object they’ll need to find space for. Giving a gift certificate is super simple. Keeping in mind the recipient's interests and favorites, just go online and purchase one! Thinking beyond the traditional shopping gifts, many restaurants, coffee shops, amusement parks, movie theaters, and even home services offer them. If you know your loved one’s bucket list adventure, try catering your gift certificate towards that interest. Gift certificates allow the person to enjoy exactly what they want, which is just grand!
Who doesn’t love pizza!? The pickiest of eaters, vegans, vegetarians, kids, and adults all look forward to enjoying a slice. Almost every great birthday party I have attended with my kids serves it. Even those with gluten intolerance can now enjoy delicious gluten free versions. In LA we have some of the best Italian restaurants outside of Italy. “Pace”, tucked away in Laurel Canyon, “Medici” in Sherman Oaks, “Pizzeria Mozza”, “AGO” and “Terroni” near Melrose. In Toronto you can score the most authentic and the best Neapolitan pizza at “Pizza Libretto”. Wherever you live there is sure to be a revered pizza joint. For a dear one’s birthday treat them to a gift certificate so they can go enjoy a slice and think of you.
It is through the sense of sound that we can experience great happiness and joy. It’s so satisfying and uplifting to listen to favorite tunes, sing along, and even dance. Music we love attaches to our memories and years later hearing the same music instantly brings us back to those special moments in our lives. Since sound is so personal, a gift certificate to i-Tunes makes for a great and thoughtful gift. Your friend can choose exactly what she wants to purchase and listen to. If you know exactly what artist your friend enjoys listening to you can even gift tickets to a live performance by that artist. Either from their library or live they are sure to enjoy their gift of a musical experience. (youtube link to an old man going crazy dancing)
If your friend has in iPad or kindle, gift them an e-book certificate for whatever amount you like. If you know your friend prefers paperbacks and hardcovers, look for vintage printings from her favorite authors or give her a gift certificate to her local book nook or Barnes&Noble. A book is tangible, but it can also be shared or donated to the library after reading. The expansive world it opens someone up to is a priceless and memorable experience.
Gifting the chance to learn something new is very thoughtful and useful. While the gift satisfies the receiver’s curiosity about the world, the knowledge they gain will serve them for a long time to come. Take into consideration your friend’s interests and use the list below for some useful gift inspirations.
Cooking is a life skill that anyone would appreciate refining, even the most experienced of cooks, because there is always more to learn and discover. Consider your friend’s level of experience in the kitchen and gift them a class they will find useful. “Sur La Table” is a great place to start if you live in Los Angeles. In addition to your local culinary arts schools, check with your favorite restaurants and bakeries for group and private classes they may hold.
Foraging classes simply teach what wild plants that are safe to eat. Gifting your friend an opportunity to learn how to forage will not only get them out in nature, breathing fresh air, and meeting interesting people (group classes often take place on weekend mornings), but might even save their life one day if they ever get stuck in the wilderness without any food. Additionally, wild plants are extremely nutritious, full of incredibly healing minerals, nutrients, and enzymes.
Karen Stephenson of Edible Wild Food
in Ontario, Canada leads an informative and fun “Wild Edible Food Walk” that ends with the group sharing a salad with the plants they’ve all picked with Karen’s help. My family has previously gone on walks with her and found her class to be illuminating.
*Here is a list from Eat The Weeds Blog sharing with us “101 Foraging Teachers” that instruct in U.S., Canada, and Europe.
The people behind “MasterClass” find “the best of the best” in any particular field and get them to teach a class, which they film and edit beautifully. This class is available online at MasterClass.com and can be purchased and watched anytime, anywhere. There is a page that allows you to “gift” a class. Whether your friend likes fashion, music, cooking, wildlife or film there is something to satisfy everyone’s interests. Steve Martin lends his expertise and teaches a class on comedy, Serena Williams teaches tennis, Jane Goodall teaches about conservation, Usher teaches the art of performance and later this year Diane Von Furstenberg will instruct a class on building a fashion brand.
Magic On The Go
Imagine you are sitting at dinner and conversation has stalled. Or you are out with your kids waiting for something, or other, and you bust out a mind bending puzzle or magic trick right there on the spot using simple things that are already around you, like salt or ice, toothpick or napkin. That special moment of sharing, bonding, awe and excitement is what inspired actor and award winning magician Steve Valentine to launch “Magic On The Go”, an ever expanding online collection of short videos that teach magic tricks from the simplest for a beginner to extremely complex for a full out pro. If your friend or loved one can use some “magic” in their life, gift them a subscription to this amazing and ground breaking new online school and community.
3. SPA SERVICES
Mom Friendly Spa
If your friend happens to be a new mom, sleep and time deprived, she will surely be overjoyed receiving a gift certificate to a spa day like one at “Spa Lé La” in Studio City, CA. “Spa Lé La’s” motto is “While the little ones play, you get away.”
They offer a variety of relaxing services, including nails, massages, facials, and hold on-site child care so her little ones can play while she even enjoys a luxurious bath!
Owner Trina of Facial Bungalow was inspired to pamper moms. “Spa Lé La” might soon come to where you reside. Look out for a “Spa Lé La” franchise coming near you.
Reflexology is an ancient technique of pressing on specific points on your feet and hands that help your body “release toxins”. This treatment would make a perfect gift for someone in your life who needs a little boost of energy and a lot of healing.
If you live in and around Los Angeles, I highly recommend you give “Soul Point Reflexology” a try. They issue pretty gift certificates and have specialists that will drive to your friend's home to perform a one hour reflexology session for $80. Contact them at email@example.com to for details and to book a session.
When there is a special occasion and somewhere to go, who doesn’t like to have their hair expertly blow dried? A gift certificate to “Dry Bar” is the way to go. With hundreds of locations across the nation, check their website for a "Dry Bar" nearest to where your TLC recipient lives.
4. HORSEBACK RIDING EXPERIENCE
Giving a loved one a chance to to experiencing riding on horseback and witnessing amazing views of the famous Hollywood Sign, Griffith Observatory, and surrounding downtown Los Angeles is sure to make a memorable gift.
At "Sunset Ranch" they get to saddle up for a one of a kind guided tour through the rolling hills of Griffith Park. This 5,000 acre park sits in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.
If you live outside Los Angeles, check your local listings to horseback guided tours.
5. MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION
“Magazine subscription gifts are like getting a hug from a loved one once a month.” That’s how it feels! A dear friend knows I love fashion and got me a year worth of subscription to “Porter Magazine” for my birthday. Every time it arrives I feel like I’m receiving a big, huge hug from her. I love “Porter Magazine” for not only covering current fashion trends, but also featuring interesting articles about art and culture and history.
Again think about what interests your friends and subscribe them to a magazine. If they like cooking get them Martha Stewart. If they live in California and love art, travel and culture get them Sunset Magazine. Whatever their interest; yoga, art, food, fashion, parenting, photography or travel, get them a subscription to a magazine that delves deeply into that topic. Oh and spy around to see that they don’t already get this magazine in the mail! While a magazine is a tangible gift if can be recycled or beautiful images from within it’s pages can be cut out and used to create an inspiring image board.
There you go, my little list of gift giving ideas that cures over stuffiness and promotes thrilling adventures, deep knowledge, pure imagination, beauty, love and learning. And if you happen to spy some things on this list you would want yourself as a gift please feel free to share this article with your friends as a little hint that you want more adventure in your life and less stuff.
When I was a kid my parents would drag me to thrift shops to buy clothing to wear to school. We had recently emigrated from Russia and were penniless. Both my parents were working two jobs so my brother and I barely saw them. I was mortified to be at the thrift shop, choosing to sulk in the corner instead of looking for things I might actually like to wear. In the end my mom would choose clothing for me, but since our sense of style differed to the extreme, I was forced to give vintage shopping for myself a try. Rather quickly I got really good at it, finding truly unique and flattering pieces of clothing and accessories that would get me lots of compliments. Eventually vintage shopping grew to be a passion of mine and now I love to venture out for a fun afternoon of “treasure hunting”, whether I’m in my home city of Los Angeles or when traveling. It’s truly thrilling to me to find a one-of-a-kind piece for a bargain to add to my thrifty vintage collection.
Here are my “Top 6 Vintage Treasure Hunting Secrets”:
I love vintage jeans because they are durable, easy to wash in hot water and have that pre-loved look to them. Shopping vintage jeans allows you to inexpensively discover how various jean features look on your body. After I gave birth to my first child I gained a lot of weight and none of my jeans fit me. I was craving comfy jeans. Many times I’d gone jean shopping and a pair of jeans I tried on for a minute in the poorly lit dressing room looked and felt right, but weeks later I’d come to the conclusion that these jeans were unsuitable for my lifestyle as a mom and unflattering for my body type. Having learnt my lesson, I didn’t want to pay a fortune for brand new jeans, then lose the extra weight and not be able to wear the jeans anymore. Through vintage shopping I discovered my love for boyfriend jeans. I know! Where have they been all my life?!
My Vintage Denim Tips:
Take note of the jeans you love and why, and then eventually, when you know exactly what you like, what flatters you, and what you know you will wear for sure, see about investing in a nice new pair made sustainably.
Consider the following elements when shopping for jeans: straight leg, boot cut, slight flare, pencil, slim fit, high waist, low waist, light denim, dark denim, black, white, also consider your body shape. What features do you want to highlight? What features do you want to minimize? A good friend of mine recently pointed out to me she has short legs and wide knees. So, she discovered she looks good in and likes to wear short skirts with a bit of a flare to them to draw attention away from her knees and give her legs added length. This design knowledge usually comes with experimenting and vintage shopping is the most economical way to get this experience. You buy, you try them out (you need time to fall in love with a garment), if you like it, you keep it. If you don’t like it you can ask yourself “Why?” and donate the clothes back to the thrift store.
While on your denim search keep an eye out for overalls, jean jackets and jean dresses. As long as they are made from 100% cotton and have that authentic thick quality jean fabric, you are good to go. Vintage Levi’s, 7 For All Mankind, Citizens of Humanity, and True Religion are a sure bet. Stay away from really worn, stretchy, saggy jeans with funky buckles and stitching. Some authentic patchwork and embroidered jeans from the 1970’s are a goldmine if you find them, but replicas can look cheap. The more you shop, the more you’ll start to recognize the difference.
2. NATURAL FABRICS
Fabrics sourced from nature such as bamboo, wool, silk, cotton and linen, feel great on the skin and are easy to wash, which you’ll want to do when working with vintage clothing. Natural fibers break down easier and faster (which is great for the environment), but when vintage shopping you want to look for only gently used clothing made of plant fiber material. This may take some extra treasure hunting effort, but it can be done. People donate or resell clothing for various reasons and some clothing might even still have tags attached. People who donate their clothing might not like the way the style, cut or color of the piece looked on them, while you give it a chance and it looks and feels spectacular.
3. ANIMAL PRINT
I don’t think animal print will ever go out of style. There is something timeless about it. Wearing animal print goes all the way back to when we lived in caves and wore fur to keep warm. I imagine a battle with a wildcat back then, where the human survived, was a powerful reminder of the life and death cycle that rules the world. Any human who lived to tell the tale of fighting a wild cat went on to wear the animal skin with pride and gratefulness of being alive. We don’t need to fight wild cats these days, so a simple animal print or accessory will suffice. If you are getting ready to battle it out in the world of finance, business, or even surviving a trip to the park with your little ones, add a small element of animal print to help you tap into these primal powers. If you happen to find a vintage animal print made of natural fibers (replicated prints, not actual animal skins) kudos to you! If not, and you see one made with a mix of synthetic and natural fibers, for comfort reasons, make sure there is a higher percentage of natural fibers than synthetic one. And once you are done with this synthetic garment make an effort to properly recycle it.
4. VINTAGE BAGS
I asked my friend Candice, who is an award winning film director and wardrobe stylist on some of the most popular television shows out there, what her style secrets and tips are and she said she buys really simple clothing in dark colors and invests in accessories. Accessories pull the entire look together and a luxurious, well made, vintage bag is one way to do just that. We have a lot of stuff to carry: snacks, wipes, tissues, wallet, keys, makeup, sippy cups, etc. We carry so much stuff that countless stand up comedians have used our bags to build entire stand up routines upon. Let’s own it. We need a good, useful bag that makes us look stylish, and the best, most frugal, most environmentally friendly way to buy it is vintage.
*Check out “What Goes Around, Comes Around” for fine luxury vintage - including jewelry, scarves, belts (look for animal print!) and much more. Sign up to be on their email list for deals.
5. USE A LUXURY PIECE AS INSPIRATION
Take your favorite, perhaps most expensive piece of luxury clothing or accessory you own and use that as a jumping off point for your vintage shopping adventure. While browsing look for retro pieces with stories from another place and time and pair them with your favorite luxury item to create the perfect “High/Low Contrast” look. To create these contrasts simply observe what elements your favorite piece encompasses; for example, is it soft, light, bright, romantic, textured, tough, dangerous, playful, or simple, muted and dark? Whatever it is, choose contrasting design elements when looking for vintage pieces to complement.
Pair luxurious silk pants with a simple, form fitting t-shirt or try rockstar tight black faux leather pants with a soft white cotton t-shirt with a cute and cuddly image of a puppy. How is that for contrast!
“The High/Low Contrast” form of styling became popularized when Anna Wintour became Editor in Chief of American Vogue in 1988, and for her first cover with the magazine she decided to dress model Micaela Bercu in a very expensive bedazzled sweater and then contrast it with a simple jean. The look was so unexpected and revolutionary the printers had to double check with Ms. Wintour that they were printing the right image. Ever since then, the most stylish people in the world have relied on the “High/Low Contrast” when getting dressed.
What is a classic? Nina Garcia’s fabulous book “The 100: A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own” presents an in depth list of of timeless pieces of clothing and accessories. Simple to read and full of witty, fun fashion stories and gorgeous fashion illustrations, this little book is a classic every woman should own. The clothing and accessories Nina features in her book have been around forever, translating through every fashion season, and have set the standards for true classics. When you have some time, give the book a read and then head out to “treasure hunt” for the time tested pieces Nina features.
I hope you find my “Top 6 Vintage Treasuring Hunting Secrets” helpful and inspiring.
If the secrets I shared with you help you to create a fun, fashion look you are proud of, share it on Instagram with us and tag #LittleDailyGem in your post. #makevintagesexy #savetheplanetshopvintage #littledailygem
One lucky subscriber will win a complementary fashion consultation with me!
For additional style inspirations check out “The Sartorialist’s” blog where he features everyday people on the street, from all around the world, wearing really unique, trend savvy and fashionably fabulous ensembles.
Want to know more about the impact our fashion choices have on the world? Check out this informative blogpost from “Everyday Earthiness”.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE FASHION DOCUMENTARIES:
I was walking down Ventura Blvd. one sunny afternoon recently, when a simple sign printed on a plain white piece of paper reading: “Vintage pop up shop”, caught my attention.
“This is new.” I thought to myself.
This strip of Ventura Blvd., between Laurel Canyon and Whitsett Ave., has a lot of clothing stores, and the ones that do well stick around. Vintage stores in particular (like Cross Roads which is always buzzing with fashionistas ready to unload their wardrobes on consignment) seem to be springing up everywhere and this area is quickly becoming a Mecca of Vintage Fashion shopping.
I didn’t immediately notice the name of the storefront as I, filled with curiosity, entered the shop. Clothing was everywhere, hanging neatly, but packed tight.
Feeling claustrophobic, at first I wanted to turn around and leave, but an authentic 90’s Mickey Mouse sweater caught my eye, followed by a pair of jeans, and oth seemed to be talking to me, drawing me on an adventure into the past - not the pretend past that fashion sometimes takes us on when something that used to be trendy appears in stores for a brief second in a replicated version - I mean authentic, cool, original vintage clothing. Clothing with a real story.
Everything in the store was interesting. Clothing had labels that proudly said “Made in America” reminding me of a unique time in our history (1950’s - 1980’s), when the garment industry was powerful enough to single handedly decide who would be the next president.
I was like a hungry kid in a candy store.
I quickly focused in on four items, following my most important rule in vintage shopping: that pre-loved clothing be made of easy to wash natural fibers. I tried on a pair of light blue jean overalls, a white knee length dress with colorful embroidery around the neck and upper chest, a simple white sleeveless tank top, and a baby blue shirt with white flower embroidery. I was thrilled to find they all fit like a glove and they felt and looked great.
I start talking to Souren Ohanian, “Pronounced like to “soar” over a mountain”, he tells me. Souren is the owner of Chance Vintage and it’s he who finds all the cool and unique clothing out in the world and fills his little shop up with it.
Souren tells me:
“It’s a pop up vintage shop for now”, Souren says shyly, “but I think I’m going to stay.” So sweet and quiet, yet you get him talking about vintage clothing and he’s a force to be reckoned with!
He brings me a pair of jeans and excitedly tells me, “These jeans are over 50 years old. I can sell them in Japan for $3000.”
“Why don’t you?”, I ask him. “This clothing collection you have here, you can make a lot of money selling it.“ While places like What Comes Around Goes Around sell vintage jeans for $200, he’s pricing his at Chance Vintage for $40.
Vintage fashion is hot now. Top designers and celebrities with their own clothing brands are always turning to it for inspiration, even blatantly commercializing “knockoffs”. Souren shares with me that two high profile sisters had recently visited his shop to buy armfuls of vintage clothing. When he’d asked them what they were planning to do with it, they told him they planned to take the vintage pieces apart, study them and replicate them for mass production. This kind of replication is contrary to what true love and appreciation for authentic and unique vintage threads is all about. Souren tells me he is not only set on keeping it real, but also affordable for his clients.
Memories of my childhood were conjured up as I meandered through the aisles of clothing at Chance Vintage. I came across long 90’s dresses in flower prints, oversized sweaters, overalls in flower prints, and jean vests. The four new pieces I’d found for myself were once seemingly insignificant throw aways until Souren saw them for the diamonds that they are. These four pieces I bought have a new life with me. I love them and I cherish them and I welcome them into my storytelling wardrobe.
Chance Vintage is popping up in Studio City until August 27th.
90's flower print overalls just like the kind I used to wear. Seeing these brought back some memories.
Go rescue some authentic vintage clothing. Visit with Souren at Chance Vintage. Fill your closet with style that comes with love, memories, history, and character.
Dungarees Clothing Store (12230 Ventura Blvd. Studio City, CA) is letting Chance Vintage “pop-up” within its space until August 27th. The space is also shared by a furniture store and a really cool kids clothing store (if you have been looking to dress your little ones in something beyond bright and cute, this kids store has a wonderful selection of clothing in raven blacks). This little store front is a unique, big happy family and you can make it your one stop shop.
*FUN GEMS FOR YOUR VINTAGE VISIT:
While in the Chance Vintage area you can also enjoy:
Change Vintage as you enter the store.
This vintage Mickey Mouse and Goofy sweater from the 90's would pair well with a brand new sexy denim mini skirt and a pair of Doc Martins in chocolate brown.
Souren holding up a small flower print dress from the 90's that can also pair well with chunky Doc Martin boots in chocolate brown and a fringe purse.
Look at these beautiful Doc Martins! Crave!
Pre-50's denim worth thousands in Japan.
One of four pieces I picked up at Change Vintage. Baby blue (my go to color) 100% cotton shirt embroidered with white flower. I love this top so much.
“Little Daily Gem” interview with Souren Ohanian of Chance Vintage:
LDG: IT SOUNDS LIKE THE JAPANESE REALLY LOVE AMERICAN VINTAGE CLOTHING. WHAT DID YOU LEARN WHILE INTERNING AT ONE OF JAPAN’S LEADING VINTAGE CLOTHING STORES?
CV: I interned at their sorting facility in Sakai, Osaka, for a month and learned about the flow of their domestic used clothing. At the sorting facility I was exposed to their grading and sorting system where they decide which clothes make it to their stores and which factors affect their decision making process.
LDG: WHERE DO YOU GET THE CLOTHING YOU SELL AT CHANCE VINTAGE FROM?
CV: I source my clothing from secondhand clothing wholesalers who are supplied by the post-sale merchandise from Goodwill, Salvation Army, and other thrift stores.
LDG: I’M SO IMPRESSED BY THE VARIETY AND QUALITY OF THE VINTAGE CLOTHING YOU CARRY, AND CAN’T BELIEVE THAT IT WASN’T SNATCHED UP BY SOMEONE WHEN IT WAS AT GOODWILL OR SALVATION ARMY.
CV: Thank you. I know, it’s really thrilling to find these pieces of clothing and give them another chance to be seen by the world.
LDG: WHY DID YOU NAME YOUR POP-UP VINTAGE STORE CHANCE VINTAGE?
CV: Simply: because I strongly believe in chances. Whether it is the first, second, or third one, chances just play a big role in my life as far as personal appeal goes. But the reason why I named my company “chance” is because I want to make people conscious of the word and it's meaning, and aware of its relation to the used clothing industry, because billions of pounds of clothes end up in landfills and pollute the earth while my store offers the clothes, which did not end up in landfills a CHANCE to be worn again, to be a part of the entire cycle again it was once part of, but also to give the desired customer a CHANCE to be eco-friendly, make the world a better place by purchasing secondhand clothing. The word "chance" to me has a lot of versatility as far as perspective and scenario goes. My emblem is a pair of dice that show "7" (which is a winning pair) because every time you roll them you get a different outcome, but if you don't take your chances you will never get any.
LDG: HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT YOU WILL CARRY IN YOUR STORE?
CV: My internship in Japan taught me the proper mixture of different types of clothing that an intriguing and tasteful vintage clothing store is suppose to have, along with the specific price margins the store should be at. How I decide what to put I in my store is simply based off of what my own ideology of current trends is, and the type of clothes people are looking to find at the time. I keep my eyes and ears always open to stay way ahead of the trend.
LDG: ARE THOSE JEANS REALLY WORTH $3000?
CV: Yes. The LEVI’s 501 jeans I showed you and most pre-50's vintage denim pieces tend to quadruple in price -due to demand,- once brought overseas to Japan.
We are so lucky to have true American Vintage clothing right in our own “backyard”. Go find some! If you have the space maybe you can even start a vintage collection that will only grow in value over the years, just like fine art or wine.
I have been watching some amazing fashion documentaries lately (see list at the end of this article) and they made me realize that vintage shopping is not only fun, but is actually extremely good for our planet. Here are some of the astonishing points I discovered about the fashion industry after watching all these documentaries and why vintage shopping now is more important than ever:
On a more empowering and positive note: if our high demand for low priced, disposable clothing is contributing to this crazy vortex of waste and environmental degradation, then when we buy clothing made sustainably, with love and care, and shop vintage we can start to make a difference with our simple flexing of purchasing power.
Appearing in “The Next Black” documentary, Rick Ridgeway, environmentalist, mountaineer and Vice President of Environmental Initiative at “Patagonia” clothing company, reminds us how damaging ‘fast fashion’ is to the environment and why we should consider only buying clothing we actually need, fix it when it tears, and vintage shop. With vintage shopping, he goes on to say, no raw materials are taken from our precious earth to make a new garment of clothing. If we buy vintage until we can save up and purchase a few well made, ethically manufactured clothing items, with this one little purchasing choice we will force the garment industry to rethink the way it does business. This basic, yet important need of dressing ourselves won’t continue to damage the environment at the staggering rate it is now.
Creative and passionate people are working hard right now on revolutionizing the way clothing is made. Textile designer Suzanne Lee has been working with scientists to develop biodegradable textiles that are grown in vats of liquid, similar to brewing beer, or making kombucha, while Dutch fashion designer, Iris Van Herpen, is creating exquisite couture gowns using 3D printers (check out her latest “Aeriform Runway Show” and be blown away). If we can scale and support these efforts we can have an end product that is beautiful and biodegradable, which is exactly what we and our planet need.
In the meantime, let’s make vintage shopping cool and sexy and “treasure hunt” our own way to a fabulous closet!
Look out for My Little Gem: ‘The Art of Vintage Shopping: Part 2’ appearing on this blog next week, where I will share with you some clever vintage shopping hacks so you can build a fashionably sustainable closet. In the meantime check out these fantastic documentaries:
Do you have a friend or family member who is about to become a mom?
Are you a new mom and not exactly sure what you actually need and your brain is fried after putting the baby gift registry together?
Never fear. Little daily Gem in here to help.
Here is a list of things you won't find on most registries, but will save a mom’s sanity, conserve her precious time, buy her convenience, and most importantly, build everlasting memories. Whether you have been raising kids for a while now or just coming into it there is something for every mom.
Any of these items would make creative and thoughtful gifts individually, but you can also mix a few of them up or even bundle them all together. Place the items in a decorative basket or box that is neutral in style, so she can use it later for storage. Add a personalized, handwritten note, and she will laugh, she will cry, she will hug and thank you and remember your kindheartedness forever.
My awesome M. Gemis. I love that they are handcrafted from in Italy. I slip these on when I have somewhere important to go and need to look put together, but don't want to wear high heals.
My favorite riding boots. I love the faux "beat up" look of this boot. It gives off a vibe that it has been loved and worn for a long time.
Snuggling with Evie in my big cozy wrap sweater during the 4th of July symphony at the Hollywood Bowl. Yes, she slept through the fireworks and all the loud music.
Lifestyle lessons from the most romantic period in history.
Designers, artists, writers—any creative being—often seek inspiration from past eras. They might come across a small detail that tickles their fancy, one that will set them off on an adventure to create something fresh and new that speaks to us today. What time in history are you most inspired by?
My latest historic obsession is the time period in Europe between 1900 to 1914. These very interesting and lively fourteen years formed the tail end of the Edwardian Era. This is when fashionable women changed their outfits up to eight times per day, swapping out one elaborate, lavish and luxurious ensemble with another set of garments.
With the help of their maids, these women would be fastened into a tight corset then eased into layer upon layer of clothing and padding to achieve the look the day required. As the new century progressed, women earned more and more rights, respect and responsibilities. Naturally, their style of dress began to reflect and accommodate their increasingly busy lifestyles.
Being caged in a dress is not my idea of fun, but I do love how laid back and unhurried everything was during this time. This glamorous time was known as ‘La Belle Epoch’ or ‘The Beautiful Period.’
Fashionable women of leisure dressed up for everything—even to hand-write a simple letter. There was an outfit suitable for every sort of outing and occasion; a dress to dine in, to welcome visitors for tea in, for riding in a car and so on. By day each inch of the body, all the way up to the chin, was completely covered. By night women would titillate men with their deep décolletage. Accessories such as gloves, pearls and big beautiful hats were the perfect details to accompany the romantic mood of the time.
Back then people took scenic car rides, played parlor games and attended the opera and horse races. There were no cells phone, television or commercial air travel yet. Things took time to accomplish, and people used that time.
There are a few elements that I think could help bring the romance of the ‘La Belle Epoch’ into our hectic lives.
Here is my list of things I’ve taken from that time period and tried to sneak into my life. These tips have helped me slow down, tune in and express more of my romantic side and are sure to assist you as well.
1. Head to a leafy park to spend a few quiet hours reading a paperback book under a big, old tree.
Sure you can just read a book at home, but doing it while connecting to nature, breathing fresh air and allowing your mind to dive deep into a juicy story will truly recharge you. As you lie there on the blanket, consciously let all your tension seep down into the earth. Check out “Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern and “Love in the Time of Cholera” by Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez. These novels recount truly unique and beautiful love stories.
2. Invite a friend to afternoon tea.
There’s nothing better for our psyche than deep meaningful conversations. It’s good to put down technology once in a while and get some good old face-to-face social interaction. My Lemon Lavender Honey Tisane will help set the mood.
3. Take a horse-back riding tour or lesson.
Horses are so majestic and yes, I’m going to use that word again—romantic. These magnificent creatures have been serving mankind for ages. What a great way to connect to simple things in life by spending time with this amazing and sensitive animal. At the beginning of the 20th Century very few people had a car and when they did go for a drive they were surrounded by horse-drawn carriages. This was a very short and very special time in history.
One of the best places to go on a guided horse back tour in LA is at Sunset Ranch. This tour takes you through the Hollywood Hills, allowing you to soak in incredible views of LA and experience our vast city in a unique way. For those 8 years and older.
4. Go on a bicycle ride.
There is something timeless about a bicycle. This mode of travel has been around for centuries and learning to bike is one of life’s most memorable moments. Everyone can remember that special time they took off on their own without the aid of training wheels or a loved one by their side helping them to balance. No matter how old you are, riding a bike out in nature is exhilarating.
4. Spend an evening playing a good old fashion parlor game.
“Charades” is a well know parlor game, but one that is off the beaten path and the best ever invented is featured in “Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun” by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen. [Link] When we have guests over for dinner we love to play this game during tea and desert. It’s called “First Sentence.” All you need are some strips of paper, pencils and a few fictional books (as many as the amount of guests at the table). Each guest gets a book and takes a moment to read the title and description of the book on the back cover. The rest of the guests spend a few minutes dreaming up a possible first sentence of the book, while the guest who is the designated reader for the round writes the real sentence down on a piece of paper. Each guest initials their strip of paper, then the strips are mixed up and read aloud by the reader. The reader should read them silently to herself first to make sure she doesn’t stumble when reading them out loud. Everyone has to guess which sentence they think is the actual sentence from the book. If you guess it right you get a point. If someone guesses the sentence you invented you get 2 points. Your creative muscles certainly get a work out during this game and your tummy will ache from laughing—I guarantee it. There are many more fun ideas in “Unbored” to check out.
5. Listen to classical music.
Our family loves to blast The Piano Guys in the car and at home. Their first release in 2012 also titled The Piano Guys (the one with piano and cello sitting on top of the Grand Canyon on the cover) has stand out classical versions of many pop songs.
6. Enjoy the beauty of a Claude Monet painting.
Whether by looking his artwork up on line or carving out a trip to the museum take a moment to appreciate the paintings that were created during the height of the Bell Epoch. The Water Lilies truly represent the mood of this beautiful era. From the colors, to brushstroke to subject matter everything about Monet’s artwork is sweet, romantic and luxurious. With his Expressionist paintings, Monet tried to capture the fleeting nature of light and make us, the viewer, feel something.
"Woman with a Parasol - Madam Monet and her Son" Claude Monet 1875
National Gallery of Art
7. Attend a live music event.
Los Angeles has so many outstanding venues to experience a vast range of music, from the Walt Disney Concert Hall downtown to the open-air amphitheaters of The Hollywood Bowl and The Greek Theater to the more intimate spaces, there’s something for all tastes.
You can do all of these things fashionably, of course, by incorporating these 1900-inspired style elements that are still accessible today:
1. Sweeping Skirt
Nowadays some people call the sweeping skirt a floor-length skirt or a maxi skirt. Get yourself a maxi for the summer, ideally one that’s made of a light, breathable fabric such as cotton.
If a long skirt is not something you find flattering or appealing for your body shape, trade it in for a tea length/mid-calf length skirt. It will still have a romantic feeling similar to the maxi skirt, but will give your frame more length, especially if you wear the skirt with high heels. Maxi skirts come in various shapes: A-line to tubular, pleated with an elastic band. The narrower the maxi skirt the more length it gives you. The wider, the more attention is drawn to the ground, making you appear shorter as a result.
2. Scooping Neckline & Shoulder Reveal
Show off your neck and make it appear long and slender by sporting a white cotton t-shirt with a wide scooping neckline or shoulder revealing top. White goes with everything and it lightens up the face.
3. Cinched in Waist
Use a wide belt around the tiniest part of your waist to create the cinched in, hourglass silhouette that was all the rage during the Edwardian Period.
4. Fun Hat
Get yourself a big hat and decorate it with fake roses and violets (the two flowers that were super popular during the early 1900’s) and maybe go on a scenic bike ride.
Enjoy lace! The Edwardian Era called for a lot of lace. Lace has a fancy, feminine and delicate quality to it. Adding it to your outfit will instantly put you in a romantic mood. Wear a ribbon of it in your hair, or around your neck as a choker or find a delicate, white lace top. Just remember there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing” so contrast the lace you wear with something unfussy such as good old fashioned jeans.