Book Lover’s Halter Top

When my birthday rolled around this year, I was crushed that no one gave me any new vices. It’s so tedious to be stuck with ratty old peccadillos and failings!

But I understand: times are lean.

Forced to fall back on existing weaknesses, I decided to mark the occasion by checking out a few textile-laden warehouses—just in case I discovered something that could, with a little (delegated) prest-o change-o, end up in my closet.

Because that “delegated” part significantly boosts my post-cashier costs I make it a goal to avoid fabric stores. Whenever I do go, though, I make sure to follow one of Ms Mae West’s favorite strategies:

I generally avoid temptation unless I can’t resist it.”

Because clearance rack’d Missoni was in da house, I nabbed some for now—abracadabra, the Strawberry Fudge Ripple top—and some for way later. Unfortunately the gorgeous, densely woven, oceanic-hued silk I immediately gravitated to upon entry turned out to be (rather surprisingly) a Pucci. Once I saw the price, I reluctantly walked away. And came back. And walked away. [At least until my 40% off coupon kicks in and I can help enable Italian silkworms’ apparent Maserati habit.]

With the Pucci sidelined, I was on the hunt for another print that could be turned into an “I ain’t dead yet!” halter.

Why a halter? Because I’ve never owned one. Why a print? I guess I just want another punch on my recovering pattern-a-phobic card. Plus I’m SO WILD now that I’m 41.

Right when my Goldilocks side was kicking in, I found a print that reminded me of these marbled papers:

Surely they are kissing cousins if not full-on siblings?

Because I force my clothes to work hard for my money, you know damn well this halter will be used under business casual and regular ole business clothing. Even if that WILL make me feel as if I carry a copy of Cosmo in my work tote.

I have to admit that the halter’s print also reminds me—a bit, if I stretchhhhh—of some of the favorite book jackets on my shelf…

not to mention some of the delightful geometric endpaper designs I’ve seen.

Some of the Victoria and Albert Museum's deco-era endpaper collection (published in the 1985 book "Decorative Endpapers")

Which makes me think I need to start collecting books just for the intriguing covers and endpapers. Because while I devoured “Carolyn Keene’s” Nancy Drew mysteries when I was six, it was the pseudonymous author’s earlier Dana Girls Mystery Stories that got hit with the pretty stick:

The Dana Girls Mystery Stories started off with engaging covers (detail from 1937's "The Circle of Footprints")

If only the publishing industry would encourage today’s book designers to era-mix more freely.


I mean wouldn’t this early 19th century marbled paper look equally at home serving as the endpaper for the 30s cover above and the vintage Penguin covers below?

Though I wouldn’t kick these papers out of bed for eating crackers:

At least when I get my “Postcards from Penguin: One Hundred Book Covers in One Box” order in November I’ll get to wallow in design nostalgia.

Glimpse of Penguin's 1963 poetry series from "Postcards from Penguin: One Hundred Book Covers in One Box"

In the meantime, I’ll be wearing the hell out of my halter. If anyone wants to judge me by my cover, I’m pretty sure I’ll come out ahead.

PSA #1: Visiting Massachusetts out of the question? Peek at more of the Salem Athenaeum’s “Under the Covers: The Hidden Art of Endpapers” exhibit here.

PSA #2: While I’ve included several patterns above, the University of Washington’s “Decorated and Decorative Paper Collection” has a plethora of high-quality photos for online perusal.

10 Responses

  1. I love those paper patterns and your halter top! (I once bought a Dooney and Bourke handbag simply because it had a lining not unlike that first red print you featured.)

    silkworms’ Maserati habit – hah!

  2. I love everything in this post!

  3. You are a clever girl—you turn a new page on a garment and it sends you into ruminations on paper and books. LOVE! Enjoy your new top!xxoo

  4. Deja, Bingo, LBR —

    Thank you!

    I’m not going to admit how long I spent looking at all those gorgeous papers on the “U-Dub” site, nope.

    I *will* say that one of the (many) reasons we put “real” lino in the kitchen and bathroom is because I adore the marbled patterns!

    [Though they are better in the more colorful shades and I went very sedate.]

  5. Wow, the marbled papers are gorgeous, I’m intrigued by the end papers too and will definitely check out those links.
    How cool would some of the Penguin covers be, if available in larger print sizes??

  6. Struggler —

    Do take a peek! Both links have supporting text as well as eye candy.

    I’m excited about the Penguin postcards. They are already for sale abroad but not going live here til fall, so you should have your connections nab you a set if you’re interested.

  7. this posting is delicious! thank you for arranging all the marble-designs. I enjoy this posting!

  8. Glad you liked all the gorgeous designs, Paula (and glad you’re back by a computer these days)!

  9. Two years on, I still love that top!
    Isn’t it a shame there aren’t more fabrics inspired by book papers like these? As you say, crackers+bed = no problem.

    • Hi Pauline—

      Glad you still love it; I do too! I just wish I’d had a scarf made in the same fabric. I have to admit in my climate I get a lot more wear out of scarves than halters, ha!

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