Happy haze

Our flat
Living/dining room of our flat.

We are settling in to our new (temporary) life here in London, and everything—commuting to the office on the Tube, buying groceries at Waitrose, strolling around our neighborhood—feels surreal, as if we were suspended in this magical and yet very domestic dreamworld.

Guion bought himself a guitar yesterday, so he’s certainly feeling more whole.

Walking around the neighborhood on day one

Our flat is a short walk to the magnificent Regents Park. We walked there on Sunday in a jetlagged haze but still enjoyed all that it had to offer.

Regents Park on day oneRegents Park on day oneRegents Park on day one

Other mental notes from the first few days:

  • Working in the financial district makes me feel the most like I’m in New York but otherwise, the cities seem to bear little cultural resemblance to each other. The underground, for one, is incredibly quiet and neat. No one is singing or panhandling or talking on the phone or eating pizza. Everyone is stoic and discreet and perhaps a little on edge.
  • Everything is expensive.
  • A classic trench coat was a good purchase, and women here actually do wear them all the time.
  • The other thing all women seem to be wearing are these slim, black-and-white Nike trainers. I think every fifth woman I pass is wearing a pair. (I brought slim, black-and-white New Balance sneakers, so I am decidedly off trend.)
  • It is all very charming and part of me feels guilty about how emotionally easy the cultural transition has been. I expected it to be harder? More jarring? And maybe it will be, as we’re only a few days in…

View of St. Paul's

Can’t you see us bashing around London

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We shove off for our summer in London at the end of this week. After anticipating this brief journey for almost two years now, it feels hard to believe that it is time to go. And we will miss our life in Charlottesville, especially our dear friends, our pups (who will be having a ball at with Juju and TT in Davidson), and our garden.

I am excited about all of the glories that London offers a former English major (and a Woolf acolyte, especially), but I also looking forward to the mundane, domestic aspects too, such as pretending to be a local for a few months: taking the Tube to and from work, acquainting myself with office life, and getting to know our neighborhood.

I hope to post more regularly here with travel notes and photos. Until then, insert some insufferable British farewell here!

(Oh, Teddy, I’m not fashionable enough for London.)

Style icon: Amirah

Style icon: Amirah

One of the first things I noticed about Amirah, aside from her bright eyes, was her persistently perfectly selected lip colors. That, and she always looked dressed to either host a gallery opening or dance at a discothèque. Regardless, I’m delighted to feature her in the Style Icon series!

Amirah lives in London, where she works at Good Business, a boutique consulting firm. I’m grateful to Grace for introducing us, and I’m looking forward to sharing lots of gelato with Amirah this summer when we’re living in London. So, take it away!

How would you describe your personal style?

Slouchy structured. I think a lot about my silhouette and tend toward loose and boxy tops and dresses that don’t (I hope!) look shapeless. Same with trousers and skirts. I prefer structured over flowy or billowy, and though I often wear slim or skinny trousers, I very rarely wear an outfit that is totally fitted — I find it too restricting.

I’m also a huge fan of prints and pops of colour. Grace has said the things I wear look like they belong in a museum, and another friend has compared my style to “going to a different exhibition every day.” I think this is because I’m often drawn to things that other people would never try on because the shape is a little unconventional or the print “too loud.”

I also like to think my style is pretty consistent. Pretty much everything I wear is smart casual, and (much to my mother’s chagrin) I will wear the same clothes and makeup (often just a bright lipstick) whether I’m going to the office, to lunch with friends or “out” in the evening. I don’t really know how to dress “up” or “down.”

Style icon: Amirah

Has your personal style changed over the years? If so, why do you think it changed?

It definitely has! I’ve always been drawn to prints and the silhouettes, but I think I’ve gotten better at putting things together, and over time, my style has evolved into something more consistent.

The change has mostly come from being forced to purge my wardrobe regularly as I’ve moved around a lot over the past four years. Keeping a wardrobe of only things I love and wear relatively often has also made me a better shopper. Before, I would enter a shop and walk out with lots of impulse buys that seemed like good value, whereas now, I decide what I’m looking for (down to specifics like colour and cut) and try not to settle for less than what I’m imagining in my head. I will now also only buy something I can see easily working with things I already own.

Style icon: Amirah
What do you hope you communicate by what you choose to wear?

Perhaps something similar to what I hope to communicate when I talk to someone: that I’m open-minded but have a point of view, that I notice the details, that I’m able to blend in but not afraid to stand out.

What are some crucial pieces of your current wardrobe? Items you wouldn’t feel complete without?
  1. My black ankle boots. I’ve worn them every day since I got them (on sale!) a few months ago. They’re from Geox’s Ambhiox range, which means they’re totally waterproof (not just water repellent), and they’re the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned even though they have three-inch heels.
  2. Besame Lipstick in Red Hot Red. My new favorite red lipstick; it’s matte and pigmented and super moisturizing.
  3. My collection of printed trousers.
Style icon: Amirah

What is your most recent purchase?

Ladder resist tights from M&S. They are amazing! I’ve worn them four times at this point, and they still haven’t yet laddered which is a record for me.

Is there anything you’re on the hunt for right now?

A warm scarf that isn’t too long or too heavy and doesn’t make my hair staticky. Also slim (not skinny!), well-fit high-waisted black jeans.

Style icon: Amirah
Who are some of your style icons?

Iris Apfel. Keira Knightly’s character in Begin Again. My friend Noam for her consistency. My friend Lina for her elegance. Grace for her ability to wear anything well.

Style icon: Amirah
What do you most notice or admire in a well-dressed person?

My mama has always said, “It’s not what you wear, it’s how you wear it,” and I have come to agree.

I think being well-dressed is less about having the best good individual pieces (though of course having great pieces helps!) and more about combining them into an outfit that makes you look and feel comfortable and confident.

Thanks so much, Amirah! Delighted to feature you, and I’m excited to see you this summer.

Previously in the series: Grace.

Late summer

#woolenmills #homesweethome #rivanna
Rivanna River, a few blocks from our house.

August! So blissful. This month, we have no travel and no house guests and thus time just to BE at home. We’re finishing little projects around the house and yard, planning some perfunctory hikes, and spending our free time reading, dining with friends, preventing the hens from brooding, and walking the dogs.

Primary emotions lately:

  • Compulsion for domestic order is high. I’ve realized that sweeping the entire main floor after I get home from work every day really helps me calm down and feel like my world is safe and good. Today, for instance, I am sincerely looking forward to cleaning and reorganizing my calligraphy studio. I have a supplies situation that looks and feels like it is spiraling out of control.
  • Related to that sensation, the desire to keep paring down my possessions, namely clothes and beauty products.
  • Heaviness of heart when I think about the obdurate brand of American racism; have been thinking a lot about Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, which I think should be mandatory reading for all white Americans. I’ve also been thinking a lot about my very racially segregated community.
  • Desire to read more books. Desire to read all of the books that I own but haven’t read yet (rough estimate of 30 unread titles languishing on shelves).  Desire to read all the books in the public library, more or less.
  • Tenderness for my husband. Tenderness for the psychologically damaged Pyrrha. Marginal tenderness for the crazy Eden.
  • I am not ready to be cold all the time. Can’t summer stay a little bit longer?
  • Eager fear and excitement when I realize that our European summer is less than a year away now. (We will be living in London for three months next year. I’ll be working out of my company’s branch there, and Guion will get to come with me, because he can work from anywhere. Whee!)
Home (August 2015)
Dining room at midday.

Monday Snax

Shaun and Ann-Marie came to stay with us this weekend to celebrate Ann-Marie’s birthday and we had such a wonderful time with them: Great discussions, lots of food, a trip to Carter Mountain (Ann-Marie has a lovely set of photos from the excursion). We’re huge fans of them both and can’t wait to see them again soon.

Lunch at The Nook
Lunch at the Nook with Ann-Marie and Shaun.

We also got to see St. Vincent in concert at The Jefferson last night and she was incredible. She made me proud to be a woman. (Stephanie ran into her on the Downtown Mall yesterday. That makes me super-jealous.)

Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent. Marry me! Source: jessintheround

Snax, with handfuls of candy corn, which I unabashedly love:

Liz + Matt Married! A few photos of the wonderful bride and groom. We miss them and want them to come back from Italy soon! [You can totally spot the top of mine and Lulu’s heads in one shot… Score.] (Cramer Photo)

The Invisible Mother. Here’s something creepy for Halloween: The practice of covering up moms with oriental rugs and draperies while photographing children. (Retronaut)

Hitoshi Uchida, owner of J’Antiques Tokyo, and His Family Home in Kamakura, Japan. A gorgeous house of hodgepodge curious in the countryside of Japan. Don’t they all look so happy? (The Selby)

London Apartment: Converted School Gym. This looks like a totally awesome place to live, even if it looks like it’d be impossible to heat in the winter. Maybe they run gym classes to stay warm… (Paper Tastebuds)

You’ve Never Seen Book Art Like This Before. No joke! This is incredible. I don’t have the faintest idea where you’d begin with this kind of installation. (Lit Drift)

Is Your Link Old News? But if I ran everything on Snax through this application, I wouldn’t have any Snax to share… (How About Orange?)

DIY Tutorial: Moving Announcement Bookmarks. So classy! I don’t think I’d have the patience or wherewithal for this project (or any DIY projects, really. Not into that), but it’s great, all the same. (Oh, So Beautiful Paper)

Paper Dolls by Kyle Hilton. Would definitely play with these. (The Bluth Company)

Baby Goat Dances and Plays. Because we all need a little more happy baby goat in our lives. This will warm your heart on this cold October day. (Paw Nation)