Thursday, June 28, 2012

{Vintage} Fashion: Aged to Perfection

If you’re in the market for a pink polka dot one-piece circa 1964, look no further than Oakland’s Pretty Penny (where you can also consign). If felt hats and men’s button-downs are more your style, Mars on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley has what you need.

But, if you’re a true vintage junkie and nothing but a sweetheart neckline and floor-length crinolines will do, head to the Treasure Island Flea the last weekend of every month. The Flea features crafts, antiques, food trucks, live music, jewelry, specialty food, and all the Greece-inspired letterman jackets you could ever want. The market itself isn’t as large as I expected, but the quality of vintage items is superb. Just be prepared to pay accordingly.

Decades of Fashion

Decades of Fashion, 1653 Haight St.

For sheer quantity, the Bay Area vintage mecca is undoubtedly Haight-Ashbury. There are hippies, hipsters, and hobos, but also ponchos, pearls, and poodle skirts. Within a 3-block radius—between Haight and Ashbury and Haight and Shrader—there are seven vintage shops, plus a Crossroads, Buffalo Exchange, and Goodwill that also stock vintage pieces. My favorite haunts are Held Over, Decades of Fashion, and Wasteland (though Wasteland is moving in the direction of new, boutique items).


Summer at Held Over, 1543 Haight St. Gentleman, step away from the 50’s pastel short-shorts.

Now you know where to go, but how to find items tailored for the tall? I can often find dresses and blouses in large sizes, but pants and skirts, not so much (who has a 25” waist!?). And they just didn’t make shoes above about a woman’s 9 before the modern day (ask my mom and her overworked podiatrist). To help you find your fit, vintage retailer HeyViv! and the team at The Flourishing Abode offer tips about old-school sizing and clothing modification. Hint: find a good tailor!

Held Over

On my way to the men’s “Meat Locker” at Held Over

The past is always in fashion.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Street Style: Cousin Edition!


Who says Italians can’t be tall? // Elena and Sammie, 5’9”

Elena and Samantha—two of my very favorite people—enjoying a rare sunny day in Buffalo, NY. Keep looking lovely ladies!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Event: Madonna and an AK-47 at ArtPad SF

The Phoenix Hotel, as my friend Madi put it, is a Tender-fab diamond in the ‘loin’s rough. An oasis on skid row, its palm trees, Warhol-inspired pool, and mod sculpture garden cry out for a party. According to Frommer’s, David Bowie, Keanu Reeves, Moby, Franz Ferdinand, and Interpol have all graced the sequined halls and pleather lounge chairs of the Phoenix.

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The hotel already has local art in each of its 44 rooms, but staff cleared the decks on May 19 and 20 for ArtPad SF. Each suite was stripped of furniture and transformed into its own mini-gallery. Paintings, photos, videos, and sculptures filled every available space—including the closets and bathrooms.


Photo courtesy of

There were Jessica Hess’ photorealistic scenes of urban decay, Derek James Lynch’s sketchy landscapes, and Philip Lawson’s resin replicas of AK-47s. Madi even got to meet one of her favorite illustrators Paul Madonna, author of the comic series “All Over Coffee” and illustrator of A Writer's San Francisco: A Guided Journey for the Creative Soul.

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In a typical SF pairing of high-brow and kitsch, posh and irreverent, Zagat solicited input about its restaurant ratings in the courtyard, while Scott Scheidly’s paintings of Hitler and Kim Jong Il as gay icons entertained guests indoors.

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The finale of Saturday night’s ArtPad was a poolside modern dance show. Two women emerged from beneath their shrouds while a third painted their bodies (and everything else in sight) with black paint in what looked like Japanese calligraphy. I’m sure it contained some deep message about “birth and rebirth” and “writing our stories through action,” but honestly, I just sat back, sipped a drink, and took in the whole poignant, pretentious, playful scene.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Beauty: Bollywood Hair

I dye my hair red with henna–the same stuff that women in India (and street artists everywhere) use to temporarily tattoo their skin. Though it appears extra-bright in photos, the color looks very natural in person and I’m asked at least once a month how I like being a redhead. (I usually say we’re the ones who have more fun).

I have dry hair, but henna has the added benefit of being a natural conditioning agent. Not only does it not fry my hair like chemical dyes I’ve tried, but it actually softens and defines my curls. It also doesn’t hurt that the total cost of a henna dye-job is about $8, compared to $50 and up for a salon visit.

They do make henna specifically for hair, which comes in a variety of colors, but basic bulk henna creates a reliable and vibrant red. My favorite purveyor of bulk henna powder is Lhasa Karnak Herb Co. in Berkeley, but any apothecary shop should carry it. Beware of cheap, boxed products from imports stores, unless your goal is traffic cone orange.

Before we get into specifics, a word of caution: henna is messy. It will stain anything it touches for more than a minute, so be sure to wear gloves and cover your work area with newspaper or rags. Also, don’t use any metal bowls or utensils to work with the henna because it can drastically affect the color.

Here’s how it goes:
1. Buy the right amount of henna for your hair length. I have very long hair, so I use 8oz for a complete coloring and 4oz for a root touch-up.
2. In a glass or plastic bowl, mix the henna powder with one part lemon juice to one part water until it reaches the consistency of yogurt. You may want to add a little perfume or scented oil to the mix because henna smells like hay.
3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it out over night (for at least 8 hours). Don’t refrigerate it. In the morning, you may need to add more lemon juice if the henna paste looks dry.
4. When you’re ready to apply the henna, divide your hair into manageable sections and brush it out. Put on plastic or rubber gloves and put Vaseline or cocoa butter around your hairline to keep the henna from staining your skin.
5. Enlist a friend to help you apply the henna, especially to the back of your head. Coat your hair from root to tip with the henna paste. Yes, it will be messy and you’ll get little flakes of it everywhere.
6. When you’ve used up all the henna and your hair is completely coated, tie it back and wrap a plastic bag around your head. You’ll have to leave the henna and the bag on for four and a half hours to let the henna set. This will be one of those catch-up-on-TV-shows-and-bake kind of days; you won’t be making any public appearances.
7. When the 4.5 hours are up, remove the bag and take a shower. Rinse your hair thoroughly and then shampoo and condition to remove the last bits of henna.
The red will be permanent and you won’t be able to dye over it with traditional chemical dyes. Dying on top of the henna won’t work because henna completely coats your hair shafts. But, henna for hair comes in many different shades, so you can always use more henna to switch back to your natural color. Some sites suggest removing the henna with alcohol and mineral oil, but I wouldn’t want to strip my hair that way to get rid of the color.

I wanted to brighten my ash blonde and I found the perfect solution. It’s pretty time-consuming and unglamorous, but I have no plans to go back. After all, who doesn’t want to be a redhead?


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Do-it-Yourself: Cuff Me

In keeping with last week’s theme of big, bright accessories, here’s a fun (and ambitious) lesson in how to make a metal neck cuff and bracelet. Crafter Geneva at A Pair and A Spare posted the tutorial in January in her weekly column for Harper’s Bazaar Australia.

The jewelry is made from aluminum flashing, which is normally used to help waterproof roofs. Geneva recommends 0.03mm flashing, but I couldn’t find anything thinner than 0.25mm at my local hardware store. So, I took her advice and ordered it here. I warn you now, flashing isn’t easy material to work with, but once you get the hang of cutting, bending, and “hemming” it, the project goes much faster. Remember to wear gloves so you don’t cut yourself on any sharp edges!

How-to photos courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar Australia
I did have to add an extra step between seven and eight. The metal was too stiff to easily curve around the can I used as a mold, so I took flat-nosed pliers and gently bent the necklace into a semi-circle. It did create a few tiny dints in the metal, but it was the only way to make the collar fit closely around my neck.

To make the wrist cuff, I followed Geneva’s first eight steps but added a ninth. I opened the “hem” slightly on one end of the bracelet, slid the other end underneath it so that the metal overlapped, and hammered the hem back down to hold everything in place.
The result was a light, futuristic set of cuffs that make me feel like Wonder Woman fending off a hail of bullets. Ka-pow!