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.

BettyDraperBlue Scarf

Whenever I watch Mad Men, I discover my trust issues have trust issues. And is it any wonder? Because despite the evidence I’ve seen and the hopes I voiced about our freakishly warm and early spring, the last week has been full of 40 degree temperatures and lots and lots of puddles. Color me red-cheeked—given all I’ve been through in my relationships with Helios and Apollo, I couldn’t believe I’d been so foolish as to embark upon my  “gallivanting in grey” experiment before July.

But I stayed the course. [Loyally. Trustingly.] Surely I was jumping to conclusions about what this change in weather meant?

If only. In fact, just as in the past, these gods of sun and light were off making other pastures green; neither had plans to return anytime soon. I’d committed to wearing grey and white and black, true, but now they’d changed the terms of our contract and I was miserable!

So I guess it’s a good thing I’m not the same person I used to be. While there’s no denying that the shadow shades still dominate my closet, now I’ve got sunset hues and oceanic tints to boost my mood when the sky goes grim.

Alas, keeping the spring rain and cold from having their way with me means bundling up in my squid-ink blacks and bitter-chocolate browns—but I’ve finally learned that in order to establish my independence, I’ve got to be ruthless about stashing a little blue sky up my sleeve.

Offsetting weather-appropriate winter browns with calendar-appropriate blues an improvised (pardon: ARTISANAL) scarf ring made from an old silver cuff

This vintage silk scarf has some easily hidden damage in one corner (dare I suggest from cigarette ash?)