Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ring It Up

As a child I thought that wearing a ring on my left ring finger would lead to my never getting married. I don't know where I picked that up, but it stuck in my mind so much that rings weren't even allowed to be worn on that hand. Not that I wore many rings to begin with. They, like earrings, were the types of pieces I always lost.

When my mother comes to visit, she often brings me little gifts. Usually these gifts are rolls of quarters for my laundry, but recently she's given me two rings. The first she presented along with two teal plastic bangles. All had been purchased at the Marc by Marc Jacobs store. In the section near the front that catches your eye as you wait in line. I both hate and love that section of stores.

After a year of weight loss, the finger that the ring fit best was the one I previously considered off limits. But if there's anything the last year has taught me, it's that superstition is bullshit. Along with luck and fate. I've become all about taking things into my own hands because, otherwise, nothing will ever be accomplished.

Okay, maybe this revelation has only taken place in the past month or two, but almost a year of project work and temping and waiting for something to happen will do that to you.

Also the ring in no way resembles an engagement ring, so the six year old Samantha that sometimes pipes up was satisfied.

(Pardon my shitty cellphone pictures. My real camera's batteries are dead, and there are more important things to worry about at the moment. Like making sure that there is always Cherry Limeade in my refrigerator.)

Hidden within my most recent batch of quarters, which she had placed in a small purse covered in shells, there lay a new ring. A cocktail one. Large and sparkly. I contemplated it for a good four days before putting it on last night for an evening stroll through my little corner of gentrified Brooklyn.

It weighted my left hand slightly. As my arm swung at my side, there was a heaviness that I liked. Or maybe it was how the weight contrasted with the relative lightness of my right hand that I liked. I flexed my fingers repeatedly. I shook my hand to insure that it would stay put.

My original hesitance lay in its resemblance to a stone. The six year old flared up and shouted as loud as she could that I would be single forever. Oh, the horror.

I calmly explained to her that she was being ridiculous.

And then I decided what I would wear the ring with today.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mind the Gap

As a child, adolescent and young collegian, I spent a lot of my time searching the racks at The Gap. With summer at its height of mid-August discomfort, I would enter the store and pet the thin cardigans and bootcut cords while imagining the cool breezes and falling leaves to come. Near the end of college, Gap and I started down the long road to estrangement. H&M, with its cheaper and more fashion forward pieces, had moved to Boston. Second Time Around, with its never worn designer jeans for $60 bucks, was discovered. I grew up and out of a store that seemed to be running in place.

When I think about my closet now, there are still a number of pieces from Gap that I wear with some regularity. I found the only oxford shirt to ever really fit me there. It had darts and just a bit of stretch. Perfection when you usually find the girls straining against buttons. And so I bought a second one in a different color. Last year, during the summer of dress buying, I added three pieces to my closet. The beige pants, long forgotten, are all from Gap. And then there are the two jean skirts (kinda mini and very mini), the skinny jeans that still sit there even though they are far too big now, a pair of Long & Leans, a bluish-green military style jacket and a black pencil skirt that has never failed me. It wasn't until this year that I gave up on the store completely.

The growing apart was gradual, which makes it hard for me to pinpoint what went wrong. In part, I think they've changed too much. So maybe it wasn't running in place that pushed me away as much as a loss of vision and focus. Three different head designers in the last three years have led the brand I had once relied on for versatile staples to wander off the path. In the name of playing catch up with H&M and other similar retailers, it abandoned everything that had made it great before. Simple, classic pieces. Well-made and reasonably priced. Overly ambitious advertising campaigns with Sarah Jessica Parker and stars of the moment couldn't hide the shift. Last year my interest was momentarily piqued by a White Shirt collaboration with some of my favorite young brands including Rodarte. When I tried them on, the shirts were thin. Almost see through. The thread was already pulling. They seemed cheap and thrown together. Not at all like the oxfords I still had at home. If I wanted cheap and thrown together, I could have gone to Forever 21. At least it wouldn't cost me so much.

I think those shirts marked the real end of this rather long affair. They encompassed everything the place had become. They were no longer worth my time. Or my money.

Flat Foot

After nearly two years of trusty service, my favorite pair of flats finally died. Unlike every other shoe of that persuasion that I've owned, these didn't wear down to the nib in just a few months. They've been caught in several rainstorms. They've survived leaving one city and learning a new one. They've witnessed more job turmoil then I thought possible. But now they need to be replaced. Maybe when I'm not sad about their death, they'll receive a real eulogy.

Until then, virtual pretend shoe shopping!

For more formal occasions

Goodness I need a job.

Photo via

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Picking It Out, Trying It On

Bad moods have been abundant this week. Maybe it's just me, but whenever one large thing goes wrong, all of the small things follow. I've broken one glass, one necklace and now must watch as my cursor spins for five full minutes before iTunes recognizes my iPod.

How am I combating the winds that are intent on crumbling my tenuous house of cards? By intricately planning every outfit. There are two main rules that I have for myself. Firstly, I never leave the house in lounge wear. When my gym membership was active, I would put on actual clothes and carry my yoga pants/shorts/t-shirts with me in a bag. Of course, there are exceptions. Killer hangovers lend themselves to old jeans and collegiate sweatshirts, but those times are few and far between. One, because I usually stay inside eating eggs and guzzling water when hungover. Two, working from home means any forays into weekday drinking can be combated in private the next morning as opposed to laying on the floor of your office hoping that your boss doesn't walk in unexpectedly.

Secondly, I try not to spend more than 15 minutes deciding what to wear. I've never been one of those girls who had to change 12 times before going out. Sometimes I change one piece. Put on jeans instead of cropped pants. Switch skirts. Throw on a dress instead. But that's it. This habit is born out of the fact that I hate being late and have been held up far too many times by people who can't make up their minds. Also, I like sleeping in. I spent my entire childhood and adolescence begging my mother for five more minutes. I don't see the point in wasting that time being indecisive.

The past week I've been doing a lot of number one and almost none of number two. In the face of uncertainty, I've made a point to try and look as put together as possible. I scour my closet and my dresser for several minutes. I try on clothes and throw them onto my futon in frustration. I must look perfect. I must construct a wall of defense to keep away the questions. How are you? What are you going to do?

Right now, I'm wearing a black tank with a dangly necklace and a blue and white miniskirt that I've barely worn since I bought it on sale at Banana Republic last summer.

And where am I going? Blockbuster.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dress It Up

After spoiling you a bit with pretty frequent posting, things got a little hectic and crazy here at Maison de Samantha.

Okay, let's be honest, it's been a shit show.

But as none of the circumstances leading to Crazyville have to do with clothes, let's leave them behind.

It's been painfully hot here in New York. I've never liked the heat. Being born and raised in Boston, my favorite season is the fall. With its thin sweaters and cardigans and soft corduroy pants. During the summer, my hair devolves into a mountain of frizz. My fan can't twirl fast enough. Every item of clothing in my closet looks too heavy.

Until last year, my summer wardrobe consisted mainly of skirts, tops, jeans (cropped and full) and khakis. I stayed away from dresses. And shorts. My relationship with shorts is long and twisty and, occasionally, dark.

Dresses, however, had simply fallen to the wayside. As a child, I always loved them. I would spin until ill just to see the skirt float away from my body. I would put on frilly dresses and my little Mary Janes and tap dance with Ernie.

So it was last summer that I, flush with cash, decided to rediscover the piece of clothing that I had neglected for so long. I stocked my closet. Black dresses for interviews and play. Pinks and blues and patterns. Short and sparkly for nights out. Light and airy for steamy days. When I open my closet now, at least a third of it is packed with dresses. And unlike some of the pants and skirts and suits, all of the dresses get worn.

Their transformation from neglected step-children to favorites can be explained by a change in my mindset. I gravitated towards separates before because I thought they were more versatile. They lent themselves to multiple combinations. Dresses could only be worn in one way. Unless you like to shop at American Apparel. I, and my analytical mind, liked the numbers game one could play with skirts and tops and jeans (cropped and full).

But I was wrong. A different shoe. An ornamental belt. A jacket, a layering tank, your hairdo. All of these can change the feeling of a dress.

And so they have become the pieces I rely on most. When I'm in a rush. When I don't know what else to wear. When all I can think about is finding the nearest place with air conditioning.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Out on a Lim

Somewhat more reasonable. At least it will be when it's on sale. And it has pleats. I love pleats. I blame my Catholic school uniforms for this phenomenon:

I need to stop spending so much time at Net-A-Porter.

Photo via

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Necklace

I have a tendency to lose jewelry. Watches. Bracelets. Necklaces. When nervous or tired or telling little white lies, I fidget and eventually find myself without some bauble. When I'm wearing something important, I try as hard as possible not to touch it. My high school class ring, through some feat of nature, has been lost and found several times. Good thing, as it was, until recently, the only piece I wore with any regularity.

I can't bring myself to splurge on something I might lose so easily. It's not like we're talking about a pair of jeans or shoes. Those I would notice right away. A bracelet that has slipped off, however, is always remembered far too late. In the past year, I've discovered the accessories section of H&M and have spent my time wearing and then losing/breaking multiple pairs of $5.90 earrings. I lose these pieces free of guilt. Without worrying about the cost or the possibility of hurt feelings.

There is one piece, however, that I would be devastated to lose.

I bought this Luella for Target necklace on a whim. I hadn't yet discovered my love of cheap accessories and didn't think much of it as I placed it into my basket. It sat in my Boston home basically untouched from the time I bought it in early 2006 until I moved to Brooklyn at the end of that year. Even after I moved, it sat next to unworn faux pearls and a necklace comprised of large yellow plastic beads.

For someone who usually dresses on the classic/conservative side, the necklace felt out of place in my arsenal. And, because of where it fell, it drew attention to my chest, which I wasn't really a fan of. That area does enough attention drawing on its own.

It wasn't until this year that I really started wearing it. And I haven't removed it all that often since then. Much like The Cardigan, I am wearing it in my profile photo. (It's a bit harder to see.) And though I've bought many necklaces during my recent cheap accessories glut, it is still the only one that I wear. It is immune to my fidgeting. I pull on it. Twist it around my fingers. Lift it up and watch it fall back against my front.

It doesn't fall off. It doesn't break. It goes with almost everything.

And that is why I love it. Because despite how I may try to get rid of it, it stays put.

McQueen for a Day

I kind of want to make love to this dress:

And I don't know why.

Photo via

Sunday, July 13, 2008

On the Rack

On Friday I found myself in midtown stuck between an early morning interview and a mid afternoon one. After sitting in Bryant Park for a quick sushi and chocolate chip cookie lunch, I decided to do a little window shopping. Or, more appropriately, trying things on with no intention to buy shopping. I made my way through the H&M at 5th and 42nd as well as the BCBG store before somehow wandering over to Saks Fifth Avenue.

I've never been one to fear expensive stores. I browse and glance and touch as if I am planning on actually leaving with that $1,200 purse. It's all about the fantasy. As long as I stay out of the sale section.

Unfortunately, Saks was covered with nothing but sale sections as every store from Old Navy to Chanel is in the process of dumping their summer selections in favor of the longer pants and heavier knits of early fall. I thought I was still safe from temptation, however, because of the current frailty of the American Dollar.

In front of the escalators lay my first obstacle. The bags. I veered clear of the sales bin and made my way for the full-priced choices lining the back wall. But something caught my eye. A bin of Marc Jacobs bags. They were pink. Supple. Pretty.

And they were around $400. As the girl across from me told her friend how much of a deal that was, I snapped a photo and began planning exactly how much of my hair I could sell in order to own this little piece of perfection.

I dreamt of that time long ago. Of the summer of 2007 when instead of freelancing and looking for internships, I had a full time job where dropping $400 on a life long investment piece would leave me feeling guilty for exactly two days before I promptly got over it. Oh, how I wished for those times to return.

But it's the summer of 2008, so I put the bag back in its place and rode the escalator towards the clothes.

To be honest, I've always been more of a clothes person. Shoes and bags are wonderful, but a comfy sweater or a twirly dress will get me every time. Too bad I was about to run into obstacle number two.

The sales racks on the clothing floor are much less scary for someone looking to keep their checking account liquid. The sales prices are still so prohibitive that you wouldn't dream of owning most of the pieces. Or so I thought. While making my way through the Givenchy and Nina Ricci, a red piece flashed for a moment in a sea of black and gray.

The picture I took with my crap cellphone really does it no justice. It was the softest thing that I've ever felt. Dolce & Gabbana. In my size. And around $400. Someone really wanted me to empty my funds that day. But I was good. I spent 20 minutes touching and holding and looking at the thing like a fool, but I was good. Even though it would have been great for the wedding I'm going to in August. And even though it was the type of dress that looks good when your weight fluctuates.

And even though it was perfect.

I looked at my cellphone to see that interview number two was only 45 minutes away and made my way back onto the street.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


When it's this hot, I like to plan fall outfits in my head. It cools me down almost as much standing directly in front of my fan does. These boots would go great with, well, everything:

Now, to scrounge up that spare $1,000.

Photo via

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


On a trip into my closet, I discovered a grouping of beige pants in a corner. Working from home lends itself to yoga pants and tank tops. When I travel to the local coffee shop, I tend to hop into jeans or a light summer dress. On the occasional interview, I pull out the New York Girl's favorite piece also known as the Little Black Dress. When I do want to wear pants on an interview, I go for my wide leg gray pinstriped pair. The three beige pieces sit untouched and lonely between the lumpy gray sweater that I have yet to take to Goodwill and a set of empty hangers.

I've decided recently that instead of buying new clothes, I need to become better at snazzing up what I already own. (Yes, I fully realize that I just said snazzing.)

After performing a close inspection of each pair by skipping around my apartment in them, I decided that only one was worth saving. The khaki color seems to be spiked with gray. A faint pink pinstripe sits there waiting to picked up by the right top. The leg is not wide, not straight, but just the right amount of flared. In the end, they're perfectly nice pants. Versatile. So why had they been neglected?

I remember exactly when I bought these pants. Almost three years ago now while casually making my way through a Gap*. I had to go to a job fair that I was dreading, and I couldn't stand anything that was currently in my closet. To me, these pants smell of frustration and resume paper. They still hold onto that scent after three years, two cities, various jobs and my mother ironing the life out of them. So I pushed them in the back. Trying to forget everything they reminded me of. But it might just be time to reclaim them.

*Most of my clothes are bought during similar wanderings. Whenever I go shopping with an exact purpose in mind, I either don't buy anything, or I buy something that I never wear. My closet is littered with planned shopping casualties.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Cardigan

For months, the February issue of Lucky sat in my bathroom. The cardigan on its cover model insinuating itself into my consciousness. It was red and cropped. Thinly knit. Perfect for spring days and cool summer nights.

Of course, the cover cardigan was overpriced, and I have limits.

Okay, maybe I don't have limits, but I do have limited funds. So the cardigan remained on Hayden Panettiere and out of my closet.

Usually that would have been the end of the story. Imaginary clothes for my fabulous wardrobe flit away, and I move on to lust something new and ridiculous. But the image of the cardigan stuck. Being from Boston and loving sweaters, hats and corduroys, my wardrobe has always been lacking in the spring/summer department. I have blazers and cute jackets but nothing light enough to wear as the days got longer.

One weekend a couple of months ago, I found myself wandering around a SoHo H&M with my visiting mother. And then there it was. The Cardigan. Not The Cardigan. But The Cardigan. In yellow. That scared me away from it at first. Yellow is not a color I own. Blues and grays and blacks and pink are my staples. But yellows and oranges are a no. I picked it up anyway and, after some haggling, convinced my mother that I had to have it.

If I were going to take the big leap into non-bulky and purely ornamental outerwear, I might as well get over my color anxiety as well.

And now The Cardigan rarely leaves me, much to the chagrin of my best friend. But it also receives the second most compliments out of anything I own.

First place is reserved for The Dress. But we'll return to that later.

(And yes, that is The Cardigan in my profile picture. Don't I look all cute and smiley in it? Though the smiley probably has more to do with the birthday vodka tonic I had right before that picture was taken.)

Cover via

Monday, July 7, 2008


The internet is already clogged with blogs. Blogs about sports and food and cats and babies. But I have a lot of time on my hands, so let's just throw ourselves into the fray here.

Maybe I should start at the beginning. My name is Samantha. Sometimes Sam. Never Sammy. Well, unless we share blood or you've had too much vodka. Like any number of little girls, I liked playing dress up, shuffling around in my mother's heels and putting on too much of her blush. I was particularly drawn to sparkles. Glitter. Shiny things. On trips to Filene's Basement with my mother, I would pass the time by counting every single dress with sequins. And we're talking the late 80s here. There were a lot of fucking sequins.

It wasn't until I reached college that I started to care about those things again. I spent large swaths of seventh grade on equating love of all things clothing-related to frivolity. Partly because I've always been far too serious for my age and partly because I liked hiding my weight from everyone.

But for the past four years I've been reading an obscene number of fashion magazines and annoying my friends by telling them far too much about the inspiration for the latest line from Balenciaga. I've slowly transitioned my wardrobe from juvenile and lumpy to youthful and streamlined. And because I should probably stop drunkenly telling girls in bars to get their denim skirts in a darker wash, I've decided to dispense my unwanted advice to the masses.

Or to the one person who will end up reading this blog.

And by one I mean me.