20 posts categorized "Books"

The Language of Clothes

"In language we distinguish between someone who speaks a sentence well--clearly, and with confidence and dignity--and someone who speaks it badly.  In dress too, manner is as important as matter, and in judging the meaning of any garment we will automatically consider whether it fits well or is too large or too small; whether it is old or new; and especially whether it is in good condition, slightly rumpled and soiled or crushed and filthy.  Cleanliness may not always be next to godliness, but it is usually regarded as a sign of respectability or at least of self-respect.  It is also a sign of status, since to be clean and neat always involves the expense of time and money." 

The Language of Clothes
by Alison Lurie (1981)

The Language of Clothes by Alison Lurie

Or, if you prefer a more recent edition with a fabulous retro-looking cover and a new introduction about fashion today,  this was published in 2000...but it's paperback.

The Language of Clothes by Alison Lurie 2000


(First of what I hope will be many sartorial food-for-thought quotes from this captivating book.)

xx ~ Michelle

Books: A Little Something for Everyone

There seems to be no shortage of fascinating new book releases as of late.  Most titles were featured in the October issue of Vanity Fair/Fanfair/Flipping Out with a few of my own favorites thrown into the mix.


Cecil Beaton: The New York Years

Rules of Civility Amor Towles 

Rules of Civility: A Novel 
(I managed to snag one of the last of two signed copies at Edgartown Books last month!)


Preppy-Cultivating Ivy Style 

Preppy: Cultivating Ivy Style

Marilyn Intimate Exposures 

Marilyn: Intimate Exposures

Diana Vreeland The Eye Has To Travel 

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel


Jacqueline Kennedy Historic Conversation on Life with John F. Kennedy 

Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy



xx ~ Michelle

Halston & Karan...They Go Way Back

1970s Halston menswear inspired 3 piece suit & Donna Karan Fall 2011 
(quote borrowed from "The Berg Companion to Fashion" by Valerie Steele)
This 1970s Halston 3-piece khaki wool suit is on it's way to The Shoe.  Everyone knows menswear inspired suits are "in" for fall, but I also found it interesting how boxy the jacket is on this suit, another very fashion-forward current trend.  I also remembered reading this quote by Donna Karan about how much Halston inspired her work as a designer.  I finally found it again and realized that although the suit pictured above from her fall collection (far right) is different in many ways, the "simplicity, fit and the importance of uniform" is there and the same. 

Update:  You can find the suit here.

xx ~ Michelle

That's Just An Estimate

Russian Book on Byzantine Art Grogan & Co

Grogan & Company Auction:

in Russian; N. Kohaakoba, bears date on title page 1892; limited edition numbered 175 out of 200 copies; white cover with black and gold decoration, 14 1/2 inches

Provenance: The Collection of Theron Johnson Damon and George Huntington Damon

Estimate $100-200
Sold for  $83,375.00  (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

So the estimate was off just a little....
(photo & source: Grogan & Company .  Exclamation points mine)


xx ~ Michelle

Julie Powell and I

I venture to say I'm probably the last middle aged woman in the USA who can say she's seen "Julie and Julia" starring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Stanley Tucci.  I watched it tonight and have to admit it was above and beyond what I expected.   Julia Child was often found in our house, chattering away on the TV (in black & white)  while my mother sat at the kitchen table, sipping coffee, yacking on the phone with her sister (who lived upstairs from us, which left me, at a mere 5 years old, pondering the insanity of having to call her when you could just stand on a chair in the kitchen near the heat vent and hear what was going on up there just fine).

I don't remember ever tasting anything very divine at our kitchen table, which probably means my mother didn't really watch Julia to learn how to cook French food, but it was more about having another adult around in a sea of little people.  (I understood that concept completely once I became a mother.)  I, however, would sit about a foot away from the convex bubble screen of the TV and be mesmerized by her.  Her accent, her laugh, that she didn't ever worry about one of those pans falling from above and clunking her in the head, and her food.  Of course the swigs from the bottle of chianti always caused hand covered giggles, we would run into the kitchen and copy her, trying to outrun my mother as she screamed for us to "put that down!"   These are my memories of Julia.

If you blog and are trying to live your passion, whatever it may be, this movie probably struck a cord with you as well.  It brought back the trepidation of that first blog post~~of having the power to "PUBLISH" your thoughts, dreams, opinions, likes, dislikes, wishes, and words.  If you are a writer, this was your chance to, at the very least, have that creative outlet that is as necessary as dancing is to the dancer.  Powerful and terrifying at the same time. "No one is going to read this anyway" ~~ remember that?  I still face that demon from time to time.  And the supportive significant other....I'd venture to say that blogging and the narcissism it can foster (if allowed) has been guilty of, if not breaking up relationships then of putting a heavy strain on them. 

The ups and downs of Julie's year felt very much like my last five years operating an online vintage shop and blogging about my love for vintage.  As my 5 year Anniversary for Tales & The Shoe approaches, I realize that although The New York Times hasn't called, that I can count on one hand the blog posts that have had more than 10 comments and that I've never had readers send me gifts through the mail.....I am happy to report that I've "met" some wonderful people through my journey, that my husband has not left me over my vintage adventure and remains quietly yet constantly supportive, and my stats tell me somewhere out there are people who read my blog, or at the very least take a peek.  And above all, despite the ups and downs and joy and tears, I still love it.  And that's what Ms. Powell and I have in common. 

I'm certain Julie Powell continues to create masterpieces in her kitchen...because that year changed her life and she embraced the change.  And she has that adorable husband to cook for.

I'm certain I will continue to unearth vintage treasures.....because these last five years have changed my life and I have embraced it.  And I have you adorable readers to write for and shoppers to shop for.

Back to the cutting board....

xx ~ Michelle

Vintage Egypt: Cruising The Nile In The Golden Age of Travel

Vintage Egypt

A quick stop at Homegoods last summer brought into my possession this amazing book: 
Vintage Egypt ~ Crusing the Nile in the Golden Age of Travel by Alain Blottiere.

"Men in white suits and Panama hats, women with perfectly set bobs, billboards for Hennessy cognac, palm trees and camels: Egypt in the first half of the 20th century had an allure that felt European but was distinctly exotic. This intriguing book shows what life was like for the privileged classes in Cairo and Alexandria during the British occupation. Blottiere, a Frenchman who has written novels and nonfiction works on Egypt, assembles an amazing array of many previously unpublished photographs of private homes, museums, landscapes and street scenes. Black & white or sepia-toned, the photographs depict such snapshots as a picnic in a palm grove in the early 1900s, a 1920s costume party in Cairo and the crew of the film Fires of Fate standing in the Temple of Luxor in 1923. Blottiere offers varying commentary for each image, sometimes giving background, other times simply stating the subject, photographer and year. Brief essays shed light on the era's conflicting undertones of glamour and political fragility." (borrowed from Amazon Book Review)

xx ~ Michelle

Romancing The Telegram

Whenever I watch an old movie, or a new movie set in a by~gone era, I always hope for a "Telegram Scene".  Take, for example, in The Age of Innocence.   Newland Archer visits Ellen Olenska in her home and there is the heart~rending exchange between them:  he admits he is in love with her, and she with him, but she is a married woman separated from an evil man, and he is engaged to marry her cousin May...

(He's holding her. He kisses her and she kisses him back passionately. She breaks away and they stare at each other. Then she shakes her head.)

ARCHER: "No! Everything is different. Do you see me marrying May now?"

ELLEN:  "Would you ask her that question? Would you?. . . Newland.  You couldn't be happy if it meant being cruel. If we act any other way I'll be making you act against what I love in you most. And I can't go back to that way of thinking. Don't you see?  I can't love you unless I give you up."

(They look at each other for a moment more. Then Ellen picks up a bell and rings for the maid. The maid enters carrying Ellen's cloak and hat, and a telegram)

MAID: (in Italian) "This was delivered."

(Ellen takes the envelope, reads it and hands it to Archer)

MAY: (via Telegram to Ellen from St. Augustine)  "Granny's telegram was successful. Papa and Mama agreed to marriage after Easter. Only a month!  I will telegraph Newland.   I'm too happy for words and love you dearly. Your grateful cousin, May. " 

(In the drawing room at Ellen's house that night. Archer reads the telegram and crumples it up in disappointment. . . )*

*(From film script for The Age of Innocence, 1993 )

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton 

Ah, the power and romance of "The Telegram".  At an age when telephones were rare, email was the way a foreigner tried to ask for his mail when he was far from home, and texting was a word used by letterpresses and stationary houses in reference to font preference, the telegram was one of the foremost means of long~distance communication.  Treaties were signed.  Hearts were broken.  And everything else in between can be found typed onto those little paper remnants from the past.

Telegram Stop.com


Telegram Stop service 

Telegram Stop service (2)

Telegram Stop service (3) 
TelegramStop.com *

The guaranteed way to get someone's attention even in this very modern world.

*Thanks to "The Unusual Times"  for informing the gin~drinkers of the world about this...

xx ~ Michelle


Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart

"Be it a jewel or toy, not the prize gives the joy, but the striving to win the prize." 
~ Owen Meredith (Edward Robert Bulwer-Lytton)

While true in many instances of life, this may be one exception to Sir Bulwer-Lytton's poetic quote.  A few weeks ago I learned of a Give~Away via Lily Lemontree.  The host was Sarah of My Little Boudoir, and she was generous enough to host a give~away to win a signed copy of this fabulous book:  

Summer at Tiffany
by Marjorie Hart.

Having a rare spare minute or two, I entered the give~away and spent a few hours day dreaming (while ironing, that is)  about how great it would be if I actually won...just the cover photograph had sent me reeling into old~world New York...

Half awake, waiting for the coffee to finish perking just after 6:00 o'clock this morning, I opened my "mail" and found this:

Hi Michelle,

Good evening. I wanted to let you know that you were selected (using
random.org) as the winner of the signed copy of "Summer at Tiffany" on
If you'd like to send me your mailing address, I will get it sent off to you
this week.
Here is the link for the post as a reminder:
Congratulations and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Thanks for your

Best regards,



Oh joy of joys!!  The prize giveth the joy! 
Thank you, My Little Boudoir, you made my day!


xx ~ Michelle


To celebrate our anniversary, my DH planned a little get~a~way to Cape Cod.  Anyone who grew up in New England most likely spent at least one week of summer vacation "on The Cape".  My family spent many.  We would rent a little seaside cottage and literally live on the beach for the entire week. 
It was divine . . . if you were a kid.  In retrospect, being an adult and a mother now, I seriously doubt it was divine for my Mom.  Five kids covered in sand, constantly hungry & trying to drown each other in the surf is a far cry from divine.  Now I know why they always had a night out alone, without any kids.  She probably needed a week alone by that point. 

Antique photograph of children at the shore 

Then there's the traffic.  That's the "not~so~divine" part for the Dad.  You would think, after all these years, someone would figure out a way to overcome the ever~present traffic issue for visiting Cape Cod.  I remember watching my step~father at the wheel, he would start out feigning optimism, but there was that last bend in the road before you saw it:  miles and miles and miles of red tail lights flashing in the distance.  "I hope everybody used the bathroom before we left" was all he would say.  He inevitably had a migraine by the time we arrived at our little shack by the sea.  Not so divine.

Vintage traffic

As we made our way down Route 6, I started to wonder how the Kennedy's handle this traffic issue.  Perhaps they know some secret back road passage that lands them smack in the middle of "Le Compound" in Hyannis-port?   "Maybe they still helicopter in", said DH.  Must be nice, I thought, staring at the line of cars ahead.  I shifted my thoughts to one of the best things about going away: food.  Suddenly, I'm hungry. 

Gourmet Brunch Hyannis, MA Breakfast at Gourmet Brunch in Hyannis, MA 

Brunch at "GB" ~ the original Gourmet Brunch.  517 Main Street, Hyannis.  Trust me on this one.

The Puritan Clothing Company Hyannis, MA

A walk along Main Street, the kind of old~fashioned, brick storefronts with colorful awnings Main Street that I adore, brought us to this Massachusetts landmark store:  The Puritan Clothing Company.  Founded in 1919 by Mr. Abraham Penn.  His goal?  

To provide classic, impeccably tailored clothing and personalized service and each had to be of the highest quality possible in order to succeed.

A quick visit inside the store proved that, nearly 100 years later, they continue to employ this formula for success.  I observed as a client of the establishment was waited on by a store clerk who knew his shopping history, he actually knew when the gentleman had purchased the garment he was discussing.  That's impressive.  Mr. Penn would be quite pleased.  My heart went pitter~patter: old~world boutique style shopping with attentive & personalized service.  My dream lives.

Tim's Books Main St. Hyannis

Unfortunately, I didn't make it into Tim's Books, but will make a point to on our next visit.

JFK Museum Hyannis, MA

We couldn't leave without enjoying a visit to the JFK Museum.  A gallery of beautiful images of the Kennedy family, some practically life~size so it seems as if they are right there with you.  Various monitors playing brief films of "The Days of Camelot" give it a very nostalgic charm, not to mention a great peek at the fashions of the day.  That Jackie, even hanging around the compound or sailing, she always looked fabulous.

Jackie O sailing
(Photo courtesy of LIFE)

We continue down Main Street, and lo and behold:  PLUSH & PLUNDER~~a vintage clothing shop.  My DH rolls his eyes, but, as this is a romantic get~away in celebration of our wonderful marriage, with his hand on the small of my back, he guides me through the door . . .  he lasted about 30 seconds, but I could have spent the entire day.  This is one of those shops that you could literally spend a day in and probably not see everything.  It has an almost museum~quality to it, and yet it's very comfortable to shop in.  I met Aimee, who, with her mother, has operated Plush & Plunder for almost 30 years.  Well known and shopped by some of the world's biggest entertainment celebrities (Demi Moore, Cyndi Lauper, Lee Remick, Julie Harris, Rita Moreno, Debbie Reynolds, Carol Channing, Christopher Reeves, Jaimie Farr of "M*A*S*H," John Ritter, Lyle Lovett, Tim Robbins and Shania Twain to name just a few)  they've carved a niche that I could only dream of.   We chatted "vintage" for a bit, exchanged cards and I went on my merry way.

The Brazilian Grill 

We had an amazing dinner experience at Brazilian Grill.  Let the reviews speak for me:

ZAGAT SURVEY 2006/07/08
"Come very hungry and try to pace yourself  at this phenomenon in Hyannis.  Enjoy an endless stream of sweet servers bearing delicious sizzling meats"
FODOR REVIEW 2006/07/08
The Brazilian Grill is the most remarkable place to eat on Cape Cod. "

Again, trust me on this.  Even my DH was beyond impressed, and that's quite a feat. 
It was a great little "Get~Away" and now I'm ready to get to work for The Top Shelf Flea!!  I'll also be announcing my Spring Give~Away this week~end, so be sure to check back for details.

Cape Cod Canal




xx ~ Michelle