tennis whites

On September 6, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

Surely part of my love for tennis springs from our abiding agreement on the superiority of white.

stella mccartney adidas tennis dress

This is one of the Stella McCartney for Adidas Barricade dresses. There are a few similar styles, slight variations on this, featuring fitted torsos, flared skirts, asymmetrical netting details and stylish cutouts. Most are straight dresses (nothing built in) that come with a matching white bra and shorts. It’s a lovely, basic shape with interest created in the texture of the netting and the asymmetrical seaming.

stella mccartney adidas tennis dress

This one features an oval cutout in the back that’s a nice surprise (which proved impossible to capture with my phone…).


I appreciate this kind of designer collaboration. It adds a great injection of style to the host brand yet (usually) at a much friendlier price than the designer brand. So many compliments on the court wearing this.

adidas duramo watch

Adidas Duramo watch

Above: New Balance shoes, Wilson racket. There’s a white visor going on as well.

Anybody else watching the U.S. Open?

Coach Celia sunglasses

On March 27, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

It’s strange, the style of sunglasses I was scouring the internet for three years ago—thick but not too-thick white frames, aviators or pleasantly sculpted, lenses not too small, not too big, no nose pieces (hair-friendly)— to virtually no avail (save the Vuarnets) suddenly, when searched anew on a summer prep whim, are readily available.

Clearly I am ahead of my time.

Here is the winning silhouette from the latest search, Coach Celia sunglasses. [There’s a runner-up that may be joining the party later on, incidentally (or maybe it’s no coincidence?) also from Coach (Irma).] This gently arched shape, a softer version of a classic 50s style, has become known as the Audrey silhouette, I think thanks to Celine’s Audrey and Baby Audrey frames from a few seasons ago (and thanks to Audrey herself). It’s an easy shape, simple and I suspect flattering on many faces.


They don’t seem so rare, do they? But I tell you, I couldn’t find a pair of sunglasses like this a few years ago for anything. Giant bug glasses, blinged out aviators, yes, but something simple like this, and something simple like this for ~$100: crickets.


So pleased.

Zara scarf and coat, MAC Velvet Teddy lipstick (favorite nude of the moment), Dior-dupe double ball earrings (eBay).


Oh, and I’ve been wearing eyeshadow! Sometimes! Was completely inspired by this genius guest tutorial with Matthew van Leeuwen on celebrity makeup artist Monika Blunder’s channel (be sure to watch both parts). So many good tips here, like focusing the crease shadow slightly above the actual crease, right on the orbital bone, such that the shadow isn’t simply lost in the crease (as it is on my hooded eye). Instantly converted to this approach after the first try.



great find: Loyal Supply Co.

On March 24, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

I was returning from the Korean market in Union Square [too late to get donuts, sadly], preparing for a long Sunday wait for the bus back to Harvard, when I spied a door marked Loyal Supply Co., and next to it a window full of such miscellany as I cannot resist: small Farmhouse Pottery (which love, met their team recently at a design show and was so impressed) pieces, balsa wood airplanes, mysterious contraptions of leather and brass (keyrings? something cooler?), rustic soaps, beautiful scissors and rulers, fine pens and pencils and erasers and sharpeners, all spread out like jewels for the discerning craftsman.


You know those shops you enter and think, what do I not want from this shop? Or, similarly, I must be a patron of this shop. Loyal Supply Co., for me, is one such place.

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Here is their description of themselves:


Well said, no?

Especially this: useful, thoughtfully designed products make life more enjoyable and productive. Just so.

It was not easy, as my personal stock of supplies is superb and I had already spent my monthly supply budget (and then some), but I was determined to walk away with something. I settled on this lovely pencil set from The Pencil Company.


They had me at “one carpenter, one bridge, one white wax,  one no.2, one jumbo hex, and one jumbo round pencil”

Pencil names!

A bridge pencil I did not know! [For designing bridges? Does anyone know? Pencil aficionados?] Jumbo hex!

To think I’ve been missing out on such delights for so many years. I want a life the requires such pencils as these, with their warm, old-fashioned charm and modern, artisan-revolution aesthetic. Do you not?

It comes down to these details, in questions of style. The hair, the clothes, the bag, they are pieces in a larger—and, I hope, more grand—design. To live down to your bones, down to your pencils (and your plants, and the way you walk, the way you plan and execute, the way you turn your head), in your style. Not because you had to think about it, to decide on it (though you may have had to realize it) but precisely because you did not have to think about it. Not because it has been premeditated (though that can be the case, must this be then less authentic?) but because style is instinctive. Inevitable.

Yet, I believe, inevitable in a malleable sense, though perhaps what seems like malleability is only that peculiar kind of change which is not actually change, not most accurately change, but the sloughing off of extraneous possibilities to reveal an increasingly clear identity. And style born out of instinct (unquashed, not covered up or overcorrected) cannot help but be, at least in some sense of that slippery word, good.


Stamped in gold foil! My spirit pencils. And white. Yes. White always and forever.


challenge: interior design

On January 5, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

Modani, a furniture store specializing in contemporary designs, recently invited me to design a living room infused with my style. The idea is to begin with one of their modern sofas and build out from there, using their accessories or any others. This kind of thought experiment always interests me, underscoring the fluid, plastic nature of style and the sense of the word style that is universal, not limited to clothing or the presentation of the body but inclusive of the entire environment surrounding or belonging to the self.

When you begin to think about style in this expansive way, intimations of one’s style start popping up left and right, its influence revealing itself in every aspect of life. Even if you are not consciously thinking about it this is the case, even if you think you do not have a style, you do. Like an accent. If you do think about it, though, the number of variables up for consideration…endless. The potential for harmony and expression, endless. I have long thought about style in this broad way, a certain way of approaching the world that reflects a bank of principles I am acting on (not so easy to identify these) regardless of the application. That said, I seem often to be contradictory, both minimal and baroque, rustic and modern.

It’s almost more entertaining to design a theoretical living room than a real one as with interior design I always have difficulty making final decisions. They are more final and lasting (and expensive) than most fashion decisions, and not so many of us get to have multiple houses to design.

In the absence of an oxblood leather tufted sofa, I would perhaps go for something completely impractical, like this:


Modani phantom sofa

Having determined a white base (white walls, definitely, large windows), cream and pale wood accents seem inevitable, and texture becomes critical, the presence of interesting textures to balance the absence of color. Hardwood floors in a pale oaky shade (or whitewashed, even!) and a cream shag rug, say.


Modani Mateo rug

A few white leather footstools dotted about.


Modani Tedo stool

I completely fail to get the mania for throw pillows. I can see them being useful for certain lounging positions but the kind that are only for show and actually cannot be used (i.e. are uncomfortable to use)…I don’t get it. Art I get, certain tchotchkes I get, purely decorative throw pillows I do not get. That said there could be some cream brocade pillows on the sofa as well. I guess. And one of these Brahms Mount alpaca cotton throws.


Brahms Mount Alpaca/Cotton Herringbone throw

A low reclaimed wood coffee table with a simple silhouette, the contemporary sofa contrasting with the raw wood.

J. W. Atlas reclaimed wood coffee table

A grand spalted maple bowl wouldn’t go amiss here.

Spencer Peterman oval spalted maple bowl

Bookcases, surely. Perhaps something like this, or perhaps one wall custom built with shelves in some useful geometric configuration like this.

Modani Lugano Library case

So, one wall of books, one wall of windows, one wall mostly a generous passage into the kitchen, and perhaps above the sofa a large brush painting of plum blossoms. Something like this, but I am going to try to paint my own.



OR, the painting alone on a blank wall, and a large mirror above the sofa instead. Perhaps with a simple wood frame or perhaps with no frame, just clean edges.

A vase with some rotation of my favorite blooms, preferences for white and rosy shades. Peonies, snapdragons, tulips, ranunculus, orchids…


Simon Pearce Anemone vase

Hm, something to put the vase on…a vintage pedestal table along these lines. I like the idea of some elaborate touch that isn’t quite intuitive but that is still tied in with one of the thematic threads of the room.


This is a good beginning, I think. Now I’m thinking about the kitchen…

Modani images provided, other vendor images link to vendor pages

breakfast in bed

On November 14, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

To have a big breakfast in a big bed, this is my idea of a satisfactory morning.

I seem to do most things in bed. It’s one of the only pieces of furniture I have. A bed and several bookcases. Various sets of drawers. A drafting table. No dining table. One small stool at my dressing table and one office chair on which I store a hatbox and a pile of scarves, and never sit. I am not to that point of grown-up-ness that involves the owning of much furniture. My tableware doesn’t match, either. This is surely all down to commitment issues.


In the last few years I finally got all of the pieces together to have the white bed I’d imagined for so long (thanks, Ikea). I’d wanted it but hadn’t given it priority, so the buying of the ingredients kept slipping down the to-do list (usurped by skincare and jam and lipstick). Trying to do a lot of those things I’ve been meaning to do (ex. making baguettes today). I highly recommend this.IMG_6660

White on white on white. I cannot have too much white in a room. White walls, white ceiling, a mountain of white pillows, white duvet, white sheets. A sanctuary within a sanctuary.


More spelt waffles! J Crew silk camisole, Victoria’s Secret flannel pyjama pants. A good silk camisole is a solid wardrobe staple. A wonderful all-purpose underthing, luxurious against the skin, simple and elegant as a casual top or sleepwear. If you like to lounge (I love to lounge, though there seems to be less and less time for it), upgrading your loungewear adds distinct charm to the experience.