Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cold Weather....A Perfect Excuse

Yes, cold weather is a wonderful reason to break out the silly hats. (If you're wearing one, do send a photo.) I'd put this mutt's topper up against anything Jean Paul Gaultier can throw at a Paris runway.

Cold weather is also a fine reason to shirk one's anthropological duties, stay indoors with a hot pot of tea, and rummage through the 2009 photo files. I encountered the pup you see above on a trip to the snowy fields of Alaska, where I must say, the weather was a tad warmer than the freeze forecast tonight for our sunny South. My luncheon destination was postcard-worthy Seward....
...a Palin-free zone, though I did encounter one female politician. Vanta Shafer was mayor of Seward and now owns a bookstore on Seward's main street. She used to live in Chester, South Carolina.
I was pleased to find that Vanta has preserved her Southerner's penchant for bright colours....and flair for hospitality. And I have to imagine she's better prepared for winter weather than I. Dear reader, tomorrow I will venture out. For now, however, I believe I shall toss another Duraflame on the fire.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tyrone & Anastasia....At the Party

I met these two artists at a glamorous party hosted by the stunning Harriett Green. He was wearing a shirt from Nigeria, made of cloth that was printed using a wax-resist method similar to batik. She had on a chapeau and sleek leather jacket that garnered many compliments - and one complaint. A gentleman who tried to give her a holiday kiss groused that he'd wound up with a mouth full of hat.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Stephanie....Webster Street

Adorable Stephanie warmed up the room with her smile--and her peachy wool coat. (I do appreciate a break from the basic browns, grays and blacks.) Stephanie told me she found this--and two other coats--at Burlington Coat Outlet. "I got three coats for the price of about one and a half," she said, that smile stretching a tad wider.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Jean....Plum Pudding

At a pre-Christmas Day party, Jean and her husband Paul made my evening. Jean got the conversation started, politely drawing me in with a warm "you look so familiar, dear man. How do I know you?" Then Paul spoke up, and I was delighted to hear that accent: he's from England (and told me that on a recent trip back home was accused of having an American accent. Indeed!)

Though I was sorry to see the pair leave, my mood brightened when Jean donned this coat on her way out. "Why it's like 101 Dalmatians," said a young woman standing near me. Paul countered: "You know what we call that in Great Britain, don't you. We call dalmatians 'plum pudding dogs'." Next, I chimed in: "When I was a lad, we referred to our dalmatian by a name that reduces American middle school boys into a giggling heap--the spotted dick."

The young woman backed away. Jean rolled her eyes. Perhaps I should have kept that last tidbit to myself. Then Jean smiled and told me she bought the coat a few years ago, not in England but at Round Robin on Devine Street.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Feliz Navidad

My heart melted at the sight of this Honduran girl, Maria, on her way to school, Hello Kitty umbrella in hand.

Good for you old sap, you say--but what does this have to do with Columbia...or with Christmas for that matter?

My friend Hugh and a group from Shandon Presbyterian Church met this young lady while on a mission trip to Honduras. This year, in lieu of giving me cashmere socks for Christmas, Hugh has elected to make a donation in my honor, a gift of water pipes for one house in Honduras.
The Shandon group worked with a number of students, including cute Rosita, whose innate sense of style shines, uniform or no.

Hugh writes: "They live in an area called Guayabillas deep in the Olancho province. The village they live in is beautiful, a clear river running through with coffee plants and banana trees dotting the hillsides. They attend a one room schoolhouse to which Maria has to walk an hour – each way. Rosita rides to school on a burro because her mother is the teacher at the school. "

Just last year, both girls' families had running water piped to their houses. The Shandon Presbyterian group worked with Honduras Outreach, if you'd like to learn more.

As for this old sap, though I always welcome the gift of cashmere, this suits me even better. Feliz Navidad to Rosita, Maria, Hugh...and to you and yours.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ashleigh....Somewhat South of the North Pole

Perhaps I should file this under "Santa Unwrapped" or better, "Hidden Claus Revealed."

When Ashleigh first made her way through this holiday get-together, she was swathed in black; the Santa hat and red striped socks seemed an almost surly concession to the season. I was bemused, so asked to take a photo. "Okay," she said, throwing off her shroud-like wrap to reveal this snug red top with a plunging neckline--and it was as if the party had begun. To this, I say a toast! Blast the gift card; let's restore to Christmas the element of surprise. Cheers!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Anne....The Shop Tart

I am a fan of The Shop Tart. Often, when she blogs about what she is wearing, I long to rush out and see it. But one must be nimble to keep up with this busy woman, who seems always to be off to her next fabu wine tasting before I can clip on my sock garters and find my keys.

So yesterday, I took a bit of a risk. On Twitter, The Shop Tart reported: "today I'm rocking my dressy college look." I boldly Tweeted back that I'd like a photo of the ensemble. And the darling woman obliged!

Her son Xander took the pictures, and (one would expect no less) Anne provided the details: "sweater and tights from VanJean, skirt by Rodarte for Target, leather cuff bracelet from Hayden-Harnett, gold bangle from Carol Saunders years ago, ring is vintage, shoes are Italian brogues."
She also wrote, "including a shoe detail, because that's how I roll." And do look at these shoes, will you? Clever, I think, how she uses weighty wingtips to anchor her ballerina-esque skirt.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lorrie....Melrose Heights

Lorrie and her friends were strolling about the neighborhood caroling when I happened upon them at a four-way stop on Hagood. This young lady performed "Santa Baby" for me, there in the intersection. (Thank goodness I had taken my beta blockers.) Then the carolers invited me to follow them home for a hot buttered rum. Despite Mum's cautions throughout my boyhood to never take rum from strangers, I found I could not say no.

A chat in the kitchen revealed that Lorrie is a jazz chanteuse who has been in London these last few months. She's there studying acting at the same drama school that delivered us Larry Olivier. Along with her dazzling personality and stunning mane of red hair, I managed to note the sweater (chunky, yet not bulky) and the fur-trimmed boots (hers a saucy alternative to those ubiquitous Uggs).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Maxine....Maple Street

I met this lovely woman on her way home from a holiday drop-in. She looked positively gift wrapped herself, I thought, in this richly-coloured, sparkly jacket. And she seemed so at ease when asked by this old gent to pose for a photo. That, she tells me, is because she teaches yoga--at Sims and Arsenal Hill parks.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hilda....Knights Hill Road

Hilda had layered two marvelous sweaters, a cable knit under this eye-catching embroidered cardigan in a smashing colour. (And don't you like the shoes for a bit of a zing?)

I asked if I might take a closer photo to show the sweater's details...
"Not too close," pretty Hilda said laughing. To that I said pish posh.....

and proceeded to zoom in. Hilda says she found the cardigan at a Camden shop called The Clothes Tree.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Jana....Westminster Drive

Here on her all-American stoop trimmed for the holidays, does Jana realize that she is sporting "Tory chic"? The dress with matching jacket comes from my fellow Brit, Johnnie Boden.

Friday, December 18, 2009

May, Reid & Natasha....Plaid Tidings

A reader sent me this photo, thinking I might enjoy seeing that my old pal Reid is up to his usual tricks.

I do note that all three were wearing a bit of plaid, yes, but I'm most admiring May's sumptuous suede coat and Natasha's faux leopard beret. (The beret, I'm told, is an early 1990s find from Henri Bendel. "It was the only thing in the store I could afford," Natasha emailed me.)

Thursday, December 17, 2009


When I heard I'd be meeting a veteran newspaperman for lunch, I expected the worst--rumpled jacket, soup-stained tie, smelly socks, and perhaps even one of those dreadful green eyeshades. But stop press! The publisher of the Chronicle-Independent is a natty fellow in a cheery yellow sweater, blue shirt that brings out his eyes, and a well-tailored glen plaid jacket.

Over a lively lunch, he shared the good news about political cartoonist Robert Ariail, also a Camdenite, who has won the United Nations' political cartoon award. Mr. Ariail will be presented that award at the U.N. in the presence of Secretary Ban Ki-moon (not Sun Myung Moon, as I believed until Glenn gently corrected me).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fran....A Smart Coat

There really is nothing like a first-rate coat to make a winter day cheerful. No wonder darling Fran is so jolly. My attention was captured first by the shape--somewhere between a gentle A-line and a full-on swing, with a bit of a swoop to the hem in back.

Then I delighted in the details....

the high four-button placket....

and these fabulous bracelet sleeves....as you can see, the coat makes a simple white turtle neck and black pants seem rather special.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wade....Pea Coat

I'm afraid my photograph does not do this handsome young man justice. And perhaps, it is time for a bit of a confession: I am (well was, since I am now confessing) a closet viewer of The Bold and the Beautiful. (Yes, I know Aunt Dahlia, you are turning in your grave.) And Wade in his pea coat, I admit, reminded me of a character played by Jack Wagner on said soap opera...the sea captain Dominick Marone. Can you not see Captain Marone standing watch o'er his ship, cup of coffee in hand, just like this?

Alright, maybe not....but I am mad for his mother, Jacqueline (Dominick's mother, not Wade's)...so do forgive an old man his flight of fancy.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Melissa....Wine on Wine

Dear reader, you should be so lucky as to share a glass of Velvet Devil with this adorable minx clad, herself, in a wine-coloured sweater and scarf. And should you be as clumsy as I, you'd also find the colour combination to be quite fortuitous. Apologies, dear Melissa. Do send me your dry cleaning bill!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sanders....All-Local Farmers' Market

For a moment, I thought it had been my good fortune to encounter a monk from the Order of the Black Knee Sock. But no, Sanders was not decked out in religious garb; he had dropped by our local Saturday morning market before heading out for a run.
This is, I take it, his basic running costume--the knee socks a regular feature but the hood up because it was a bit dreary outside. I like the red soles of his shoes; it's almost as if a red pen were used to underline him. And I like the attitude--a shopper loyal enough to venture out in the rain always makes a fashionable statement.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mary Kent & Margaret....On the Lawn

Holiday weekends do require a bit of patience and perseverance, don't they? It's almost enough to make one grateful to get back to work. I watched with some amusement as Mary Kent attempted to organize a crowd of 30 for a family photo.
At least she could count on sweet-natured Margaret for cooperation. Afterward, I photographed the photographer....
Mary Kent's sweater was knit with a pattern of bronze metallic yarn, which she echoed in her bronze leather bag. Well done. And I couldn't resist one more snapshot...
...this one, of Margaret in her romantic purple jacket with the charming flower-shaped buttons.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lane....Yellow & Black

Black is considered a safe choice, no? But for me, there is something daring about this combination: her dress, shoes, stance--even the way she looked at my camera--gave her an air of bold confidence.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lucretia & Caroline....Forest Lake

Lucky me to meet two beguiling women who seemed genuinely interested in my work. Later, I realized I'd not only captured a bit of their colourful personae in this photo, but also a snapshot of the purple spectrum.

Lucretia's bag is very near the shade of Tyrian purple, the original purple hue derived from from the mucus of marine snails (a tad disgusting but true--one wonders who discovers such things). Caroline's dress is more of a Han purple, the purple used by the ancient Chinese to decorate their terracotta army. And in between, there's Lucretia's leather jacket--royal purple, the shade worn by Europe's medieval kings.

Purple is a loaded colour....associated with pride, aristocracy, poison, the Thai solar calendar, and on more than one occasion, my prose. My favorite purple connection, however, is with the game of Snooker Plus, in which the purple ball carries a ten-point value.

Friday, November 27, 2009


I'm still getting the hang of your American Thanksgivings, though any occasion to dress up and dine well is fine by me. This year, I was quite proud of myself when I said in Cherokee "bring me a turkey" (which sounds something like Dough-nuh-dah-Go-uh-nee, if you care to try it). Unfortunately, no turkey materialized at the table; I had to go through the buffet line like everyone else.

There, to my delight, between the squash casserole and the rice pilaf, I bumped into Peg. The sight of her sparkling eyes and darling smile filled me with gratitude. I had not seen Peg for some months and she was lovely as ever--warm, vivacious, and of course, well-dressed. After dessert, she permitted me a photo but she insisted.....

...that she must first find a little lipstick. That rascal Mr. Peg urged me to capture her in action, so I did. I include the picture here as proof that Peg is stylish from every angle.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Reid....Dueling Plaids

Unlike poor Alexander Hamilton at the hands of Aaron Burr, no one was mortally wounded. Still I noticed a bit of a face off between my pal Reidy's scarf and jacket--and I like it. It's just the sort of jolt this gloomy building on the USC campus needs. Perhaps you can also make out the tiny bulls on Reid's tie (the symbol of Spain, I take it, not some form of sartorial commentary).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

AnnaBelle & Travis....Lady & Lincoln

I quite admire Ms. AnnaBelle's eye for fabric and this skirt (of her own design) is no exception. It goes nicely, don't you think, with this pair's youthful zest?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Clark....Lincoln Street

I often see this gentleman around town wearing the most charming little hats. After visiting his studio, I've now seen more examples of his refined sense of proportion--the perfectly sized lampshades for his intriguing line of lamps. It's been a while since I've tippled sufficiently to don a lampshade. Hats, on the other hand, I'm quite sober about endorsing.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Margey....City Art

I attended a dance performance at City Art's gallery where I discovered it was all about the legs. Though like me, she was just a spectator, this woman's seamed stockings could not be ignored.
Margey's saucy style didn't begin and end there, as you can see. As for those spectator pumps, I believe even the Duke of Windsor would approve. Though bootmaker John Lobb is said to have designed the first spectator shoe for cricket, it is of course old Windy who made them fashionable, back in the 1930s.

No idea where Margey secured the rest of her ensemble, as I was fixated upon the stockings. Those she told me she found at Hip Wa Zee.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Marley & Shannon....Gervais Street

How does that go: "Lovely is the head that wears the crown"? Lest you think I encountered royalty sporting the crown jewels on a mere stroll down Gervais, allow me to clarify: the Misses were participating in Thursday night's Vista Lights. Along with their tiaras and excellent posture, I particularly liked Marley's winter white coat and pleated skirt ensemble.

I also took note of their sweet dispositions and good manners...perhaps because I've been watching that (very funny) television show about South Carolina's beauty queens called King of the Crown.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Soccer Fans....Stone Stadium

On a chilly night, the major fashion trend was whatever-it-takes-to-be-warm. This fan stood out in a sea of garnet, gray, and black sweatshirts. Her kelly green was not nearly as loud, though, as the collective moan in the stands when the Gamecocks lost the match in the final second.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Jewitte....Vista Lights

This woman's mod-ish look put me in mind of grand old times on Carnaby Street. Her dress, Jewitte told me with a shrug, probably came from T.J. Maxx: "Definitely nothing boutique-ish," she said. Her glasses are Cole Haan from 20!20 Vision in Five Points.

Monday, November 16, 2009


I watched this young man alternate between scribbling in a journal and cutting his steak in an odd little rhythm, in time (I'm supposing) to the music playing on his headphones. Seated at the rustic wooden bar surrounded by snowdrifts, he seemed appropriate in his hat, scarf, and fingerless gloves. I shivered, rubbed my hands for warmth, and ordered a hot toddy; for a moment, I believed myself to be in a drafty little tavern somewhere near the North Pole.

North Pole? I beg your pardon, sir. This was Harbison, still 60 degrees outside well after sunset. And that snow wasn't real; it was part of the holiday motif.

Daniel, however, was as genuine as they come. We chatted briefly, I reluctant to interrupt his solitude, he politely assuring me that he didn't mind at all. He offered that he was listening to music, reading his Bible, "and trying to figure some things out." No mention, though, of how the fingerless gloves figured in.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Christina....Red Shoes

Funny how it happens: you casually read about something and then it seems to turn up everywhere. I'd just read about the restoration of the fabulous 1948 film "The Red Shoes" when...voila...I see stunning red shoes on an even more stunning young woman.

Two aspects I admire here--first, Christina garbs herself all in gray, then punctuates with these crimson pumps (called "The Belinda Ornament Pump" to which I say "indeed"). Second, I delight in Christina's high/low combination--pricey shoes by Loeffler Randall, stockings from Walmart. Of course, don't we all look more stunning when we stand on a leopard carpet, this one courtesy of VanJean. (My thanks to Molly for yet another photo.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Derrick....The Vista

After this last bit of gruesome weather, I wondered if I'd ever leave home again. I was certain all of Columbia felt the same way. Then my friend Molly phoned yesterday to say not only had she ventured out but that she'd just encountered a snappy dresser. "Do take a picture," I begged.

Drenching rains and screaming winds left Derrick no worse for the wear. Perhaps it's because he's a fashion design student at the university. Coat from Banana Republic, hat from Target.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


When I looked at this photo, dear reader, I paused and scratched my balding pate: what, pray tell, is that woman doing with her hands? Then, aha, I remembered our conversation.

Molly recently attended a photography event in New York City. (No, this is not fallout from a workshop on posing...bear with me.) While in Manhattan, she purchased a skull pin from Topshop, which she's framing with her hands in this photo. Said pin is attached to a shirt she also got in New York, at H&M, for a fabulously low price...something along the lines of $7. The green scarf, she reminded me, matches her car.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Charlotte....Crossing Woodrow

Waiting for the light at Woodrow and Devine, I did a double take. My stars and garters, what a pair of knee socks. I had to catch up to the wearer, so I made a sharp turn, zoomed a block, and leapt (well, as much as I can leap these days) from my auto.
Charlotte was positively adorable head to toe with her striped shirt, alpine-esque legwear, zipper-pocketed skirt and zippered shoes. Then, be still my heart, she produced, yes, a Hello Kitty bicycle helmet. I am mad for Hello Kitty. I have no idea why.
Charlotte said socks (from Target) and helmet (from Walmart) were both children's department finds. "I'm actually a fan of the kids' section," she said. "Everything else was thrifted."

Charlotte told me that she, too, has a blog and understands the horror/thrill/emotional toll/etiquette quagmire of accosting innocent strangers to take their photographs. She makes some amusing observations and posts her cartoons (which delight me as much as her socks), so take a look.