Saturday, January 30, 2010


They had me at Worn-in Waxed Cotton…

Possibly the most talked about piece of the impending Signature Collection from L.L.Bean, is the new interpretation of their classic Maine Hunting Shoe, The Bean Boot. Replacing the leather upper with a weathered waxed cotton we are more used to seeing on a Barbour jacket, makes these boots just that little bit more modern and versatile. This is the perfect statement piece to illustrate what Creative Director Alex Carleton was tasked to achieve in this line. The result is simple, clean, clever, subtly updated pieces that remain connected to the core aesthetic of the brand. More relevant for a younger generation, yet not alienating to those who have grown up with L.L.Bean.

The mission of the Signature Collection was to take iconic elements of L.L.Bean’s style and reinterpret them into a collection of modern designs that update the traditional looks of this classic American institution. The range has around 200 pieces and will be a complete collection, eventually earning its own stand-alone stores, if all goes well.

Carleton clearly has the right pedigree for the job. After a stint at Bean in the 1990s, he has more recently created his own label of just this sort of styling, in Rogues Gallery. A native Mainer, Alex inherently understands the aesthetic of L.L.Bean and the practical necessities that underpin their products, not to mention people’s emotional attachment to the brand. For some, this must feel a little like messing with their Granny’s famous apple pie recipe. Well I say, move over Grandma, change is good!

Taking an historical approach to the collection, Alex Carleton studied the back catalogue of 98 years of Bean design to pick out elements he would reinterpret for this new label. The fit and style of these items such as a Madras Shirt, basic jeans and an Oxford Cloth Shirt-Dress have been updated to create a more modern fit, slimmer silhouette and edgier look. Contemporary every day dressing is the result here, with a collection that is not designed to challenge the consumer but to enhance their own lifestyle. This is not about reinventing the wheel, instead it is an evolution in style whilst keeping Bean's core values at the heart of the Signature Collection.

This fresh approach is one that celebrates the every day fashion that L.L.Bean is famous for, anchored in the traditions of a nearly 100 year old brand, whilst edging them into their next century. The Signature Collection makes the transition from country to town wear more natural, and takes advantage of the current trend for a resurgence in Heritage Sportswear from other classic American labels. The price point is one of the most satisfying things about this venture. Nothing will be much over $200 from what I can gather, and most items are priced to compliment Bean’s existing pieces (those new Bean Boots are $129). This makes the range accessible to anyone who already shops there, and enticing to those who are dipping their toe into these New England-design waters for the first time. And remember, L.L.Bean’s 100% Satisfaction Guarantee? Well it applies to all of this collection too, naturally.

L.L.Bean’s Womenswear offering has been firmly middle aged up until now. Unflattering high waisted tapered jeans, boxy shirts in pastel colours and an established monopoly on turtlenecks have characterized their offering. Not any more! L.L.Bean Signature breaths life into the feminine side of relaxed dressing. Wrap and Maxi Dresses with maritime prints of boats and buoys (and wildlife inspired prints of flying geese too), updated Shirt dresses in Madras and Oxford Cloth and the ability to steal the Men’s 5 pocket Jean for our own wardrobe, will satisfy the ladies nicely. And that famous Boat and Tote Bag? It has also had a little tweak, with a new salt washed fabric, new colour options and altered detailing. I am mourning the loss of the Monogramming option on this one but I appreciate I can’t have it all.

Set to launch in March, this is a deep breath of clean Maine air that is sure to establish L.L.Bean with a younger generation who have missed out for far too long. So, move over J.Crew, Woolrich, Pendleton…there's a new guy in town and his name is L.L.Bean.

(Photos courtesy of L.L.Bean P.R.)


50s Proper is the latest clothing collection from Anthropologie. Not only do they hit the vintage Preppy nail on the head, but the styling of this collection is delightful. Using a Library setting and reference to title each outfit, they have created an old school romantic collegiate feel to each look.

Atop the Mezzanine

Quiet Hours

Curriculum Study

They are just missing that Late Charges look...

This collection reminds me of the costume design in the movie Mona Lisa Smile. Arguably not memorable for it's storyline or stellar performances, but the styling of the characters in their 1950s-era women's New England College setting is spot on. Pearls and Cardigans, A line skirts and repressed Feminist ambitions everywhere you turn in this flick.

(Mona Lisa Smile images © 2003 Revolution Studios and Columbia Pictures, Inc.)


I have tried to resist posting any Valentine's themed cuteness too early, but this morning I thought I would give you a sneak peak at something I love. Smencils are scented/smelly pencils (get it?) made from 100% recycled newspaper. They each come in a biodegradable tube to seal in the freshness, which is just as well as they really do pack a scented punch! Stick a couple in a pen holder on your desk and you have instant air fresheners. Good enough to eat, the scent range covers fruits like grape, watermelon and orange and other treats like cinnamon, bubble gum, cotton candy and root beer. I don't know about you, but I have always had a passion for cute stationary and used to collect scented erasers and colourful pencils in my youth. Now, you can get them all in one and the scent is guaranteed for 2 years!

In time for Valentine's Day, they have launched the Smalentines Range, with scents like Vanilla Cream, Raspberry Truffle, Love Candy and Chocolate Mint.

Another newer addition to their range is the Smart Smencil. These peppermint scented pencils could aid concentration and possibly improve your intelligence!? Well, peppermint is thought to stimulate the brain so it could be worth a try.

So go on, get yourself a zero calorie chocolate hit this Valentine's Day.

Friday, January 29, 2010


...Acknowledging your own beauty.

"Yes, You're The Fairest" Print by vol25

Thursday, January 28, 2010


...That filthy habit.

"It's Light Up Time" Original Painting on Canvas by Kerry Beary

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


...Taking time out to have some fun.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


This week, I am loving...

1. "Fair Isle Fox" Print, Hillary Bird 2. Silky the Gray Fox, Felt Plush Doll, None Such Garden 3. Fox Felt Pillow, Alexandra Ferguson

4. "Vintage Tea Cup" Print, Skippy Designs 5. Button Coaster Set, Sarah Parrott 6. "Concentrate and Ask Again" Embroidered Wall Art, Tuesday Afternoon Tea

7. Candy Bird Peppermint Charm Necklace, So Charmed 8. Love Piggies Card , RUBY Recycled 9. "Je T'aime" French Girl Notecard, Rosy Designs Online


I have coveted a bib necklace (often referred to as statement necklaces) for some time now and finally took the plunge with this one (below) from J.Crew (at about 10% of the original cost I might add).

I wouldn't describe myself as an everyday jewellery girl, but when I do wear any it has to be bold and unique (preferably with some over the top bling). I don't go for real gems, instead favouring semi-precious stones and lots of sparkles. With a bib necklace you get all of that, and they are so easy to wear, no fiddly clasps and usually light weight. They literally become your outfit, perfect to wear with a simple t-shirt or classic tailored shirt. This is art my friends.

Selection from Accessorize

Mainstream retailers and independent artisans alike are all over this trend, and I for one am jumping right on that wagon in 2010!


...Getting deliciously clean.

Monday, January 25, 2010


...Looking on the bright side.

"Better Days" Print Set by Rifle Paper Co.

INSPIRED BY...Lilly Pulitzer

I just couldn't stop lusting after Lilly Pulitzer images once I started, so I decided to put together a collection inspired by her. Well, more precisely inspired by the colours, simplicity and classic styling of Lilly with a little dash of the Preppy life thrown in. It is raining ice outside, no kidding, so I could do with some dreamy thoughts of sun, sea, pool, pina colada...

That Lilly Look...
1. Bella Pagoda Umbrella 2. Wild Watermelon Two Piece, Anthropologie 3. Printed Tunic, Boden 4. Metallic Miller Thong, Tory Burch 5. Custom Tote Bag, L.L.Bean 6. Selima Optique® Aviator Sunglasses for J.Crew

DESIGN THERAPY: Lilly Pulitzer

My favourite colour palette of pink and green owes much to the vibrant designs and classic Palm Beach styling that many simply know as "Lilly". Lilly Pulitzer created her own unique clothing line based on bold colour contrasts, simple (but often busy) patterns and clean lines, epitomised in her Classic Shift Dress.

Shift Dress from the Originals Collection

A little back story to get you going. Whilst working at a juice stand she had opened to sell her husband's oranges (he was a landowner, not farmer) she discovered a need for a simple cotton shift dress in bold colours to hide the inevitable juice splashes. No simple apron was good enough for Lilly! Soon, she was selling these dresses on the stand and their popularity encouraged her to design and sell them full time. Helped by having friends in high places (Jackie Kennedy was a close friend, and her privileged upbringing gave her all the connections she would need) her design became a sensation.

Another gorgeous Shift Dress. More here.

Simple in form and detail, the Shift Dress made unique by the prints and colours used, Lilly had put her finger on a style that was to become a sensation with the wealthy women for whom dressing down was not a familiar concept. She eschewed footwear for what she termed "barefoot elegance", needing nothing more than one of her dresses to perfect her look for any occasion. Quickly a firm staple in the Preppy wardrobe, it was during the 1980s that her styles had their most avid following, although her success began in the 60s. This style looks great on any shape, and as such Lilly created the ultimate utilitarian fashion piece. More here.

Some firm rules for wearing Lilly here. You have to have a killer tan to work any of her pieces. The brights will wash out anything but the most golden skin tone. If you have to wear shoes, wear flats, preferably a simple sandals. Wicker works well as an accessory, got a Nantucket Basket? Perfect! Or how about a simple tote? L.L.Bean naturally. Work the classic short/sharp bob to complete the look, maybe even a hairband if you want to get deep into the preppy thing. Could be too much...

Lilly Pulitzer Women's Wear Collection.

For the Minnies... (Lilly named her little girls' shift after her daughter).

Personally, I think that the current little girls' collection is the most reflective of vintage Lilly's style and taste. These little shift dresses are to die for.

Lilly retired in 1984, but her designs re-imerged in 1993 when she agreed to license her name to be used for a new line of women's and children's wear. She remains the Creative Consultant for the brand, which has recently launched a bedding range for Garnet Hill, along with producing clothing for men and an accessories line.

Lilly Love!

Lilly Pulitzer is a style icon and most definitely my kind of Gal.

Friday, January 22, 2010


...And Carry On! You know this slogan by now, and I have certainly given you my take on what this slogan means to me. Nowadays, this WWII propaganda slogan has been taken and adapted for any kind of situation and message you can imagine. I was recently pointed to an article published last year in the UK's Guardian newspaper, that captures the story behind this message of comfort and inspiration. Originally created to strengthen the British Nation's resolve during the Second World War, this article uncovers the recent discovery of the print and looks to it's most recent surge in popularity.

"For 60 years, the poster had been forgotten. Then, one day in 2000, Stuart Manley, co-owner with his wife Mary of Barter Books in Alnwick, Northumberland, was sifting through a box of hardbacks he had bought at auction when he saw "A big piece of paper folded up at the bottom. I opened it out, and I thought, wow. That's quite something. I showed it to Mary, and she agreed. So we framed it and put it up on the bookshop wall. And that's where it all started.""

The original poster, discovered by the owners of Barter Books.

To explain why this message has resonated so strongly with us in these modern times, the article interviews Dr Lesley Prince, a lecturer in social psychology at Birmingham University. His take on this message's popularity is that it delivers "quiet, calm, authoritative, no-bullshit voice of reason. It's not about British stiff upper lip, really. The point is that people have been sold a lie since the 1970s. They were promised the earth and now they're worried about everything - their jobs, their homes, their bank, their money, their pension. This is saying, look, somebody out there knows what's going on, and it'll be all right". Read the full article by journalist Jon Henley here. Great stuff.

For a unique take on this poster, the article points to a really creative version by Matt Jones, below. I LOVE this, especially with the wrenches in the crown. So clever.

"Get Excited and Make Things" Print, by Matt Jones

I can't say that I always love the various adaptations and spoofs of this message, I am kind of a purest for this message, but some of them are so inventive. I thought I would pull together ones that might interest you, and most definitely point to some of the things that certainly make me more calm!

"Keep Calm and Carry On Shopping" Tote Bag by Catherine Colebrook

"Keep Calm and Have a Cupcake" Print by Jenny's Bake Shop

"Keep Calm and Drink Martinis" Print by The Lobster Pot

For MANY more variations on this theme, start here. I guarantee you will be inspired.
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