Category Archives: America

San Francisco: Biking, Bridges and Blouses

Posing in front of the Golden Gate BridgeIt’s time for another San Francisco post! This time the backdrop for my posing shenanigans was the infamous Golden Gate Bridge – one of the most iconic man-made structures in the world.

On day four of our week-long holiday, we decided to see the bridge like true tourists – by bike. We took a bus from our apartment into the city and walked along the Embarcadero in the scorching hot sun until we reached Blazing Saddles, the bike rental company our guidebook had recommended. For around $40 each, Mr Ship-Shape and I rented hybrid bikes to take us across the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge, which I cannot recommend enough. The route to the bridge takes you around the coastline of the city and the views get better and better.

San Francico Bay It was hard work getting our bikes up the hill near the foot of the bridge, but I’m so pleased we did it, if only because it helped to work off the morning’s breakfast! For the five hour trip, which included a well earned scoop of ice cream and catching a ferry back from the port in Sausalito, I picked my favourite new purchase – this mustard polka dot blouse, complete with dinky gold buttons and a huge sailor collar.

I found it a couple of months ago at the Bristol Vintage Fair and, judging by the billowing sleeves and oversized colour, I think it’s either late 80s or early 90s. I couldn’t wait to bring it along to San Francisco with me, as sometimes it can be easer to road-test a new look or outfit on holiday, don’t you think?

Mustard blouse – vintage / ‘Boyfriend’ shorts – c/o New Look, Cabot Circus / Paisley scarf – vintage / White plimsoles – c/o Toast / Sunglasses – Primark

Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco.jpgPosing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.jpgBiking around San Francisco.jpgMustard polka dots and sailor collars.jpgGolden Gate Bridge turretManicured nails and sailor blouse

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Topshop dresses and Mrs Doubtfire addresses

The view from Alamo SquareAnd so the torrent of holiday-related posts begins! A couple of weeks ago I hoped on a jet-plane to join Mr Ship-Shape in San Francisco for a week of pancakes, prison tours and perhaps a little bit of shopping, too. I took lots of photos so expect a photo diary type post soon, but first, the outfits…

On our second or third day in the city, we walked from our apartment in Haight-Ashbury up to Alamo Square, a picturesque park surround by ‘painted ladies’ – rows and rows of Victorian pastel coloured wooden houses that frequent many a San Francisco postcard. Houses like these were used as a backdrop in the film Mrs Doubtfire, a fact I would not stop going on about, so much so that Mr Ship-Shape ended up driving me past the real house used in the film (2640 Steiner Street, in case you’re wondering) just to shut me up.

Topshop at Alamo SquareDespite the guidebook and every blog I’d read telling me that San Francisco can get pretty cold in the evenings, I packed as any Brit would do: optimistically. I picked up this tea dress in a Topshop sale last autumn, and despite wearing it out loads, including a couple of blog meets, I’ve never quite gotten around to photographing it. The mustard tights are a very old (but still going strong) pair from Primark, and the Chelsea boots are also Topshop.

If I look at all self-conscious here it’s because I’m trying to conceal the epic breakfast belly I developed on this holiday – that’s what eating a short stack of blueberry pancakes and a side of bacon every day will do to you… #sorrynotsorry

Floral tea dress – Topshop / Red paisley scarf – vintage / Black bag – clothes swap / Tan Chelsea boots – c/o Topshop, Cabot Circus / Sunglasses – pinched from Mr Ship-Shape

Postcard Row in San FranciscoTopshop floral dress and mustard tightsChilling out in Alamao SquareCalifornian flowersTurquoise sunglasses

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Oh So Sui!

Yesterday I went back to Target, primarily to get a memory card reader for my camera, but got a little sidetracked first by the Anna Sui for Target collection that I mentioned in a previous post.

The collection had been on sale when I first visited the store at the end of October but there was an even bigger sale on yesterday (I don’t think the older generation of Naples appreciate this hip New York look), so I couldn’t help but have a nosey through what Target had to offer.

Most of the gems I found were from the Anna Sui range, although sadly not in my size. I found a gorgeous retro woolen mini skirt in brown, cream and mustard shades which would have looked great with a pair of plum tights, along with a black lace Wild West inspired dress, both of which were too large. I often find pieces like this and convince myself that I’ll take up the hem or whatever but in reality they all just sit in a pile on my desk (for weeks at a time) so I figured I should leave said items behind.

What I did find however was this delicious blue smock with a black print and pussy bow collar, see above. The dress comes with a waist cinching belt but I’m not sure if I’ll use it or not as I quite like it as is, even if it does make me look like a French abstract painter… As M would say, ‘it just hangs there’ and is not in the slightest bit figure hugging but I just love that print over such a unique blue colour.

Perhaps it is being in a sunny climate but I seem to be attracted to brighter things at the moment. Hopefully an occasion will arise where I can wear it here otherwise I’ll have to fit it into my already bulging suitcase. By the way, after a an hour of rummaging and trying things on I did eventually make it to the photography department and am now the proud owner of a memory card reader, hurrah!

A trip down Memory Lane…

As I wondered round the sprawling mall the other day, taking in the stores and swarms of angst ridden teenagers, I found myself travelling back through the years when my love affair with the (at sometimes questionable) fashions of the good ol’ US of A began as a teen. My aunt would give me Old Navy clothing for Christmas and birthday presents that I would wear religiously – the shining American beacon in my boring English wardrobe.

When I came to visit my aunt for the first time in New Jersey, at the age of 14, she took me to Manhattan for the day where I experienced Abercrombie & Fitch for the first time. Taken in by the all-American charm, I walked out of there with a maroon fleece zip-up hoodie that had navy piping and a small navy ‘Abercrombie & Fitch’ embroidered on the sleeve. The day ended with a makeover at Saks Fifth Avenue. A song out at the time called Summer Girls featured the line; “I like girls who wear Abacrombie & Fitch, I’d take her if I had one wish…” I wore my new American hoodie with pride for the rest of that summer and for many months that followed.

I was around 17 or 18 when I went to the west coast for the first time, with my friend L and her parents, spending time in California, Nevada and Arizona, hanging out in Vegas and riding around on the back of a Harley Davidson for the best part of three weeks. Cult shows and fashions were on the agenda and L introduced me to a store called Hot Topic. The chain of band t-shirts, cult clothing and comic books was like a revelation in my teens and I remember finding a Hello Kitty t-shirt and a Rainbow Brite bracelet, both of which were unattainable in England and that I treasured for years until the t-shirt became faded and the bracelet broke.

I don’t know that cartoon/logo tees are really my thing anymore but I love this ‘Nerds Need Love Too’ shirt that I saw in Hot Topic. It is just the kind of thing I would have worn in my teens, when Hello Kitty was, or perhaps just felt, more underground and ‘cult’ then it does today.

I’ll try and dig out some photos of my American adventures, pre-Florida, in fact I still have a pair of jeans I bought from American Eagle Outfitters from the California trip. Straight in the leg and plain blue in colour, they were the jeans I biked around Europe in a few years ago and that I wore so often I got the all-American rips in the knees that I had always wanted, but refused to pay for.

This I think, is one of the reasons I find it so hard to give up old clothes – clothes which have so many memories woven into them that I treasure too much to part with, despite stains, rips and general unfitting-ness. This is why I’m trying to enjoy what I have, using and wearing it now rather than waiting to ‘save it for best’, see excellent post by LLG.

Thrifty Thursday

After my weekend adventures at the mall and Target, I’ve been hankering for a slightly more diverse and quirky way to fashionably spend my dollars and today I hit gold, in the form of thrift stores.

For the uninitiated, the common thrift store is an American version of a charity shop or vintage boutique. Thrift stores have grown in popularity in recent years, thanks to the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker and Scarlett Johansson championing vintage on and off the red carpet.
I’d been to a few of these quirky stores the last time I was in New York and the look focused very much on leather, denim and retro inspired t-shirts – much akin to the young, hip vintage boutiques in Bristol and London.
Naples is a frustrating place for fashion: the majority of locals are either rich, old, or both, which means that fashion comes in the form of boutiques and exclusive department stores. Great for designer finds, not so great for my wallet. This is why the thrift stores are perfect as all the old people donate all their designer labels and there are plenty of Granny Chic finds to be had!

Gucci pumps, Escada blazers and a stunning pair of nearly new Docle & Gabbana brogues, above, for $75… there are some amazing finds to be had if you’re prepared to rummage, which I always am! Along with high end designers there were the more obscure American and Italian brands along with the likes of Ralph Lauren and Levi denims.
I visited three shops this afternoon, all just five minutes from the house that I had never noticed before. The lovely ladies at The Rose Garden and some gorgeous vintage jewelry and gave me a map with all the thrift stores of Naples on it (the Holy Grail of my fashion hunt so far). Their shop was divided into open plan rooms with menswear, accessories and womenswear, along with furniture and bridal gowns. All the staff were really helpful and super nice, even pointing me in the direction of other store I might like using said map.
Options and Audrey’s Attic were next and both were full of treasures. Options was where I found the D&G shoes, photographic evidence of which will be posted soon. A lot bigger than the other stores, Options supports a local domestic abuse charity which one of the employees told me draws a lot of contributions from the community. There was a real mix of clothes here and although one would need to rummage to find good clothes, accessories were displayed on tables and clear perspex units making them easy to locate and identify.

Audrey’s Attic is a ‘for profit’ thrift store and as a result it looked like more money had gone into the decor and the quirky vintage layout. The collection of vintage upstairs was simply stunning and the shop is run by a British couple who were very helpful when I paid them a visit! The vintage on sale spans from the 40s through to the 80′s with some amazing lace wedding gowns and 50s prom dresses, see photo above. There were treasures aplenty and I will definitely be going back next week and taking E with me – she is a label lover and I’m sure I can lure her in to my way of thinking with some vintage Gucci and Chanel!