Monday, February 21, 2011

That's going to need three coats

It takes a special kind of genius to leave the Southern Hemisphere summer and fly to the Northern Hemisphere winter without a coat. I am that genius: I remembered to pack hankies, four different shades of lipstick, six different dresses, two pairs of boots and eight pairs of tights but neglected to take a coat.

I realised my omission when we were flying over New Caledonia. Too late to rush back home and grab the trench I had set aside especially. 

However, San Francisco was sympathetic to me and put on the loveliest spring time weather for our first couple of days. This gave me time to re-group and concoct several reasons as to why I might need to get more than one coat.   

My first coat came from Old Navy. It was marked at fifty dollars but after the myriad of discounts that seem to be routine at American checkouts, it cost $29.40. It is the best $29.40 I have spent - this cotton coat with its big pockets, imposing zip, secure press stud fastenings and sliver of blue floral lining kept me warm, dry and looking a little mysterious for the whole trip. 
What's more, it is featured in this month's Real Simple. I love that magazine and spend an unnecessary amount of energy wishing my life would resemble the clean and uncluttered style that glows from every page. And now, of course. it does.  

 Coats became a bit of an obsession for me. At the J Crew outlet store I came across this lovely peach number and decided that if Scarlett O'Hara was alive today she'd probably want this coat. Or maybe not - frankly it made no difference to how much I liked it. It was marked down from $160 to $80 but again at the counter that amazing discount thing happened and it was mine for $39.00. 

I've included a shot of the interesting vertical pocket where I will be able to stash liquorice allsorts, bus tickets or incubate plovers' eggs. 

Both these wonderful garments are cotton, light weight and feature hoods. I hate carrying umbrellas so the hoods are a very important feature for me. 

The last coat is a trench from Target. It was made in China, perhaps by a gay machinist. The boat on which is shipped over was no doubt manned by some gay people and I'm certain that gay people worked at the loading dock and at the distribution and the trucking companies who helped get this garment in to the store to be sold to the wider community, all of whom invariably have contact with gay people every day and some of whom who are gay themselves. 

So I was  saddened to learn today that US Target funded a political campaign that subscribed to anti-GLBT sentiments. Not cool, Target. You sell great stuff and the staff that helped me in your stores could not have been more respectful or friendly. I hope in the future you'll remember all your staff, customers and the communities in which you operate when you buy into political campaigns. 

It's a great coat. Every time I wear it I'll be making a donation to the one of Sydney's gay charities, as well as sending positive vibes to US Target to re-think their views and value the equality of the hearts and passions of all the millions of people who are connected with their stores. 

And a big kiss and a bunch of lotus to Sydney's Gay and Lesbian community who will celebrate their Mardi Gras party on my birthday. I hope it's perfect for you all! 

It's the little things

Next to hearts, my favourite symbols are stars. I love starry skies, I love to see a starry brooch on a coat, I love to see stars doodled on message pads. 

I especially love finding them in thrift stores, like these large silver earrings from the Out of the Closet thrift store in Los Angeles. They were in a basket on the counter with some scrunchies, a couple of plastic bangles and a broken headband. True, they're not really my style, and they were very tarnished, but I picked them for silver and could see they were made by hand, probably from a sheet of silver rather than moulded. I gave them a good polish this morning and rather liked their emphatic celestial statement. Not one I'd make every day, to be sure, but one I enjoyed on a hot bright Sunday.

 Nearby on the same counter, there was a plastic dish filled with cheap jewellery. I found this brooch in amongst the clatter. 
I thought it was excellent value for a dollar and am fairly certain it will find itself pinned against white or navy blue clothes in the near future. 

The best op shops always have a box or bowl of those little touches that you'll wear for years. A couple days later in the Goodwill store in Culver Hill (maybe?) I spotted this old gem under the counter, biding its time amongst a range of pendants and necklaces. 

Yes, the enamel is chipped and the brass is dull, but the design is beautiful and the wear she's endured makes her all the more lovely to me. Eight dollars was a lot (well, based on her intrinsic value) but I know I'll never see another like her. I wasn't sure how I wear her but I knew I couldn't leave without her. She would, I was certain, add a touch of history and romance on something I own sooner or later. 

I love the little touches. Everyone has their own little touch in some area of their life - adding garlic salt to their minestrone, finishing their grooming with a swipe of creamy beige lipstick,  wrapping a present with two different coloured ribbons. In all the blogs I read, it is the little touches that intrigue and inform me most. 

Another thing I've learnt about on the US blogs is Target. We have Target here but not as our American cousins know it. Our Target is safe and reliable and its range is limited. Last year I enjoyed the Target Liberty pop up store in Times Square but this year I found giant Targets on a our little road trip and did some serious Target trawling. I was mesmerised by the quality and range US Target offers. I found lots of little touches there, including this : 

It's the perfect spotty Saturday bag for keeping safe sunglasses and purses while you haul a huge bag around for groceries and vegetables. Better still, it was very receptive to a little touch of its own. 

Brooch + spotty bag = nice touch. 

The American thrift stores were good to me. In St Matthews Thrift store in Santa Monica (well worth a visit: great range, extremely well priced) I found three silk scarves that cost me a total of $2.50. 

The drug stores were just as helpful. Walgreens offered me touches of two of my favourite cheap cosmetics. 
I love both these products - they render my skin and hair quite pleasant to the touch. 

While the holiday is still fresh for me, I have to say - home is good. It's been nice, unpacking everything, allocating the space in the wardrobe, sleeping in my own bed, making my own breakfast with my own special touches. 
I miss the side order of toast with grape jelly, and I really miss sweet potato fries, but my sister-in-law (an accomplished artist and fabulous cook) made sweet potato salad today that more than satisfied that craving. 

There's beetroot, carrot and beans in there too. The recipe is from Neil Perry's book, but the almonds are her idea. I thought they were a lovely touch.