Portland Favorites – Eden: A Garden of Opulent Curiosities

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In this season of buying gifts and the occasional party outfit, I’ve been focusing on buying from local independent stores. I like supporting our local economy – it’s better for local people who make and sell things here, it’s better for the environment (in contrast to that sweater made in China I had my eye on) and I think it fosters a sense of community. In the weeks leading up to New Year’s Eve, I’ll highlight a few of my local favorites, starting with Eden: A Garden of Opulent Delights.

This little shop in the Pearl is so much fun to wander through. The proprietress, Cindy Rokoff, stocks the stores with a nice selection of books, jewelry, perfume, vintage clothing, and wonderful ephemera and oddities. The salespeople are really friendly but not at all overbearing or pushy.
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It’s hard to know where to start. The store has a nice selection of fragrances, including  Serge Lutens. The great thing about the store’s perfume displays is that they type up little cards that list the scents in each perfume. I can skip right by anything with patchouli or jasmine in it – really, such a great idea.There are scented candles, fancy shampoos, green lip gloss, and lovely soaps. The librarian in me likes looking at the nice selection of books, mainly art, fashion and design. You can also find bottle openers in fun shapes, Bolivian shawls, colorful pillows, a small selection of candy, and rugs.

My favorite merchandise to drool over is the small but stylish selection of vintage clothes, the jewelry, and vintage accessories. There’s a rack of Little Black Dresses of all kinds with a decent variety of sizes, a rack of vintage kimonos, and a rack of pretty coats. The prices are reasonable and you’ll be wearing something unusual and recycled. They just published their annual Holiday Look Book – it’s beautifully done.

They also carry Sonia Kasparian’s stunning Urchin Re.Design dresses, which she creates (upcycles?) from old vintage pieces. They’re couture quality, and beaded and decorated by hand, truly works of art.

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Then there’s the jewelry – it’s a nice variety ranging from modern silver cuffs to hand-crafted jewelry from local designers to vintage pieces. I tried on a vintage 1920s necklace with amber glass stones, and the modern statement necklace above by Kiowa Rose that incorporates old findings and stones.

My recent visit was a gift buying foray so I’m not going to reveal what I bought just yet. The store is great fun to wander through – if you’re near Powell’s, it’s just a few blocks away. Right now they have some interesting Christmas ornaments – scarabs, birds, and Chinese lamps. You can always find something curious to look at – the oddest is the stuffed peacock but the resin raccoon skull is a close second.

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Eden: A Garden of Opulent Curiosities
221 Northwest 11th Avenue
Portland, OR 97209

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Fall Wardrobe Manifesto

This oddly personal post makes me a bit uncomfortable for a number of reasons. I’m revealing a bit more than usual about some of my “issues.” I’m also showing how frivolous I am, knowing full well that some of my readers don’t have incomes and can’t even ponder these things. And I’m making a personal vow,which makes me feel…weird. But here it is.

As much as I’d like to own some of the beautiful designer pieces I’ve been drooling over and writing about for weeks, my real life clothing budget would likely not buy even one Elie Saab suit. This year I’ve decided to plan my fall wardrobe in the hope of saving money over time, being more coordinated, and not impulse shopping. Here, then, is my plan. I’m putting it in writing to motivate myself, and to promise my husband I will not be shopping just for the adrenaline fix or boring lunch hour. I’m also taking part in our firm’s Green Initiative, and part of what I want to do is be mindful of my purchases.

My Wardrobe Manifesto
-I’ve learned that I don’t have the social life for wearing lovely vintage dresses, so I won’t buy any more until 2012.
-I have more jewelry than any woman actually “needs” so I’m going to make an effort to wear what I have.
-My shoe collection isn’t gigantic (really!) but if I get my black boots resoled, and my brown boots cat-tongued, I’ll have no good reason to buy new shoes UNLESS I find kitten heels with a leopard print. PROMISE TO SELF!
-I have no excuse for buying a Halloween outfit – I have an amazing dress I can do something fun with.
-I have a pair of jeans that fit well and are flattering, so no need for new jeans.
-My t shirt collection consists of a variety of colors – I don’t need any more.
-I have scarves in varying weights and colors, so I need no more scarves.
-Lipsticks? Enough already!

Here is what I consider my perfect fall/winter work wardrobe. I work at a law firm, so too casual won’t work. And I AM a librarian…!

Perfect pencil skirt
I’ve found the perfect pencil skirt at Talbot’s! It falls just below my knee, is slim but I can actually walk in it, and it’s well made, with a wool lining.

Perfect black pencil skirt - Talbots

Cheetah or leopard print accessory
The leopard print belts at J. Crew and Talbots were nice but more than I wanted to pay. The ones at Forever 21 were cheap and hideous, and those at H&M weren’t much better. I hit pay dirt at Macy’s – $19.98 for an attractive, calf-skin belt that looks classy.

Cheetah print belt - Macy's

Dressy Loafer or Cheetah Print Pumps
Apparently no stores in Portland carry narrow shoes with a cheetah or leopard print. No kidding. I got tired of looking. I had visions of kitten heels with a pretty leopard print but it’s not to be. While I was at my last stop sulking, I noticed some attractive faux crocodile brown loafers. Hmmm. I tried them on, they fit, and they are now mine. They’re AK Anne Klein, not narrow but narrow enough to work. I walked around Bridgeport Village for hours and only had mildly tired feet.

AK Anne Klein faux croc loafers

V Necked Pullover Sweater (cashmere or merino wool)My 6 year old black cashmere sweater is looking frayed and sad, and I keep having to sew up the seams on the edges of the sleeves. I also have a grey cabled cashmere sweater that I’ll wear often. Last year I bought a camel colored merino sweater from the Gap but it has pilled terribly and isn’t aging well. I’m relegating it to weekend wear. I did find a pretty v-neck camel cashmere at Nordstrom for well less than $100. I also bought a cotton lipstick red cardigan to wear with my black skirt, tweed brown skirts, and black pants.

camel cashmere sweater

red merino cardigon

Deep red tights or thigh highs
No luck at all in this department. I’ve tried online and in stores all over PDX. What I really want is a deep red thin merino pair, but I’d settle for plain tights in the right scarlet color. I’m not interesting in paying more than $12 for nylon tights. I keep hoping Hue will come out with the right color. Not bright tomato red, not rust, not burgundy, but this color:

Red pull ups!

Brown pencil skirt
How I got this far in life without a nice brown work skirt is a mystery. I have a couple of nice tweed brown skirts, but not a plain brown one. I like brown and red together, and already have a pretty red sweater and lipstick colored cardigan to go with it. Perhaps a duplicate of the Talbot’s one in black? Or perhaps I need to make do with the tweed skirts. I’ll pull them out of the winter box and see if they still fit and don’t have moth holes.

Outerwear
I have a standard issue black trench coat that works just fine for rainy days, and a shorter cotton version from H&M when it’s chilly but not rainy. I don’t wear jackets very often, though I do have a wool black one, and a lovely merino wrap sweater/jacket that I bought in Brussels. I also have a cream leather one that I wear when I know there will be no rain or red wine in the vicinity.

So, fellow fashionistas, budgeters, or planners, what would you like to purchase this year? Do you try to incorporate your old wardrobe into your new? Do you try to make sure everything matches? Do you budget for the year, or shop as a hobby? I’d love to hear your feedback.

Tweed, Indeed!

I love wintry fabrics like wool, cashmere, and tweed, and live in the perfect climate to wear it for months on end. I’ve always liked tweed, but growing up in South Florida, it wasn’t practical at all. My first winter here, I bought a long tweed A-line skirt that I still love to wear. It’s 10 years old and I imagine it’ll last many more.

Tweed pants I like!

Tweed trousers are hard to find, at least in my budget range. First, they must be lined, all the way to the hem. I don’t understand why anyone would wear tweed wool pants that aren’t lined. Second, I don’t like belt loops, pleats, back flap pockets, or high waters. (Junior high trauma…”You expecting a flood?”)

This may be my lucky year, though. Talbots, which I’ve written about before, has come a long way in the past year. I’d long considered Talbot’s a bit matronly, but I’ve really liked their last few collections. I went into their store last week and saw the perfect pair of trousers. They’re lined, they have a side zipper, and the tweed is a warm brown. The fabric looks better in real life – it has brown, beige, and cream-colored yarns. It’s a herringbone weave, which I really like.

I think my brown faux alligator oxfords (brogues, richelieus?) and my plum wool sweater will make this a good fall outfit, and I’ll wear one of my purple brooches to pull it all together. Not that I’m ready for fall – I’m hoping for a really nice, late Indian summer.