Monthly Archives: September 2010

Stolen Says: Stone Street Oyster Fest

If you are in New York City surrounded by skyscrapers but unable to find your way through oddly empty and criss-crossing cobblestone streets, then you’ve successfully found the Financial District. Wall Street, Ground Zero and Century 21 are all places to know and visit downtown. On weekends, when the traders and investment bankers aren’t rushing around in their power suits and ties, FiDi is amazingly silent. But if you stopped by the neighborhood this past weekend, you would have heard a small ruckus coming from what is arguably the best little street in this money-making neighborhood – Stone Street.

On any given Thursday from Memorial Day through September, Stone Street is a great choice for happy hour. The bars (Ulysses’ Folkhouse, Stone St. Inn – to name a couple) that line the three-block hotspot have picnic tables out on the cobblestones and take their business to the open air.  This past weekend Ulysses’ Folkhouse and other neighborhood joints took the merrymaking up a notch with the annual Stone Street Oyster Fest!

I met up with a co-worker, AJ, shortly before 5:00 on Saturday afternoon. She and her friends had arrived a little earlier and staked out a spot – which was quite fortunate, because as I rounded the corner from Broad Street and saw the throng of happily buzzed New Yorkers drinking Guinness and shooting oysters from the shell, I was thoroughly convinced I would never be able to find her. I swore I saw her about five times as I pushed through the melee, but my eyes were only tricking me (it didn’t help that every other person was blonde, like AJ). Eventually I found her, and we jumped right in with the Guinness and the oysters. At $12 for half a dozen oysters and Guinness galore, what’s not to love?

The fresh oysters in a half shell – so delicious! With a squeeze of lemon juice and a splash of cocktail/tabasco sauce, they are one of the tastiest snacks you could throw my way. I almost couldn’t believe my luck when I learned there is a whole festival centered around these yummy creatures! (Naturally, though, this is New York, so… I can.)

For those who were not so keen on seafood, there was a wide array of other beer-appropriate food – delicious mac and cheese, pizza and fried veggie spring rolls.  AJ and E braved the crowd for a food run and returned declaring they had made a whole bunch of new friends on their way back from the food booth. Everyone wanted to meet the girls with all the fried goodness!

What better way to make new friends then to park at a random table with a of plate oysters? Sounds friendly and fun, but it can be quite the opposite. A guy randomly set down his plate next to us and started slurping his oysters without the slightest attempt at befriending us! Awkward. We bumped into old friends though, so this guy’s rudeness wasn’t really an issue. L disappeared into the masses for another glass of Champagne, and returned with M! I’m continuously amazed that in New York, despite it’s size, you’re always bound to run into someone you know when you’re least expecting it. I, on the other hand, had the more unfortunate experience of seeing an ex of an old friend instead of the old friend herself (is it bad that I ducked behind AJ so the ex wouldn’t see me??).

And that’s one of the things I love the most about events in New York. You never know who you may meet, or who you may run into!

All in all, it was a rockin’ event (crazy, slightly tipsy crowd included)!

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She Wears the Pants

Meredith Duncan Cubicle Chic

Pants don’t turn up very often on Cubicle Chic. It’s not that we don’t like pants (I love a good pair of jeans), but when it comes to putting together my office wardrobe, it seems to be so much harder to find pants that fit – skirts are just much simpler. With pants I have to worry about length, their fit at the hips and waist, the way they fall and what shoes will look good with them. Skirts are easier because length isn’t as much of an issue and they tend to sit more snugly at the waist. I’m not sure why this is, but I’m not complaining!

Meredith Duncan Cubicle Chic

Meredith Duncan Cubicle Chic

I love the crisp line right down the center of each leg! I think it satisfies my type A tendencies to see something so straight and perfect. However, even after just sitting in the subway during my commute, these perfect lines are criss-crossed with the worst of lines… wrinkles! The pants go from snappy to a little shlumpy, but this is one of the basic issues with linen. The fabric is probably better suited for casual pants, but the wrinkles don’t seem so bad when it means I get to stay a little cooler on a muggy summer day.

Meredith Duncan Cubicle Chic

New shoes! I got them at Aldo on sale and they are a great shoe for work. They match a lot of my wardrobe and they are comfortable enough. After my first day of wearing them I realized that they are a tad too tight, but I’m sure they will stretch out a little bit over time. Honestly, I think Aldo does their conversion from European sizing to American sizing wrong. I wear a size 10 and the sales clerk brought out a 40 – I couldn’t even fit my foot in the shoe! Has anyone else had issues with Aldo’s shoe sizes?

Meredith Duncan Cubicle Chic

Meredith Duncan Cubicle Chic

Meredith’s Look:

Shirt: Banana Republic, $35

Pants: Zara, $30

Shoes: Aldo, $50

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The Gentleman: Lagniappe

Inspiration from Old Photos

There has been a lot of discussion on men’s style blogs in recent weeks about the reprinting of a book called Take Ivy. This slim photography book by Teruyoshi Hayashida first appeared in Japan in 1965. It features about a hundred pages of candid photographs taken at Ivy League schools and in New York City in the mid-1960s. The book apparently became something of an underground cult-collectible, with original copies going for thousands of dollars at auctions. With the recent success of the television show Mad Men and the renewed interest in early to mid-1960s style, Take Ivy received its first English language printing last month.

The Gentleman decided to pick up a copy of the book to see what all the fuss was about. All in all, it’s an interesting little volume. It struck me as kind of odd to be an American reading a Japanese book commenting on American style, but maybe that is part of its charm. The second thing that I found fascinating is the degree to which modern dressing is being influenced by styles from this era. Or rather, the general public is becoming aware that this type of classic men’s dressing never disappeared, and more and more people are turning away from trends and toward looks that never go out of style. Below are three photos which I found particularly enjoyable: one casual and two business casual.

This first photo looks like something I wore all summer: blue button down dress shirt (I usually wear my sleeves rolled up), patchwork madras shorts and a pair of all-brown Sperry Topsider boat shoes. What’s fascinating about this photo is that there is nothing about it that would look out of place or outdated if it were worn today, and yet it’s a forty-five year-old photograph. This is exactly the kind of timeless dressing that I try to convey in my Gentleman columns.

This photograph captures a group of college students walking to church. Each of the men in the photograph is wearing a sport coat with “odd trousers,” meaning trousers of a different color than the jacket. With autumn approaching, sport coats are an important wardrobe item to consider, so I will discuss them further in a future column. My favorite look is the man in the center with a button-down collar, slim black tie, light khakis and a brown tweed sport coat. I also found it interesting how each man in the trio is wearing a different collar style. Left: full spread, middle: button down, right: point. Finally, each young man is wearing nicely tailored, yet still casual, cotton trousers. Their pants are neither baggy nor hipster skinny. This kind of balance, I am convinced, is the key to timeless dressing.

The third and final photo that I want to showcase is what Take Ivy referred to as a grown-up Ivy Leaguer; that is, a man working on Madison Avenue. I love everything about this photo. The contrast between the light tan sport coat and the charcoal dress pants is fantastic. I also love the little red accent provided by the subtle pocket square. The brown trilby hat is excellent as well. Hats are an accessory that really need to come back in full force for gentlemen.

I really enjoyed this slice of Ivy League life through photographs from the past. If you’re interested in checking out the book, Amazon is selling it for a reasonable $16 . J.Crew is apparently also selling it in some of their stores if you are more interested in flipping through the book while shopping instead of buying it, as I suspect many people will be.

Next week: the Gentleman introduces you to a new style icon, the misadventure-prone British gentleman, Bertie Wooster, as portrayed by Hugh Laurie…

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Turtleneck and Pearls

This spread is one of my favorites to date! The contrast of corporate office style with the downtown graffiti background really makes a “Cubicle Chic” statement: have fun with what you’re wearing! I like to think that my messy pearl necklace and unconventional oxford heels relay the same message.

You may recognize my skirt from Cubicle Chic’s video interview on Lemondrop! It’s one of my favorite pieces to add to any blouse. The wide, double waistbelt detail makes it a true standout piece. Not only is this style flattering on any figure (really), but it also adds a little something extra to the outfit without having to worry about piling on additional pieces. While that’s something I am normally prone to do, sometimes simpler is better.

I was quite excited this particular day because it was one of the first days this year that felt like fall. Warm with a cool breeze –  doesn’t get any better than that! You know what that means… time to break out the turtleneck! A gray one. Who says you can’t wear gray with black? The colors I chose are just different enough to look sharp and sophisticated; if they were any closer, the colors would clash. As long as the shades aren’t too similar, I think a gray and black pairing is such a minimalist, chic combination.

Lindsay’s Look:

Turtleneck: Banana Republic, $45

Skirt: Zara, $80

Necklace: H&M, $13

Shoes: Modcloth, $38

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Finding the Right Watch

Written by Meredith

Is it just me, or have watches almost disappeared off of our radars? I can remember the days when we needed watches to be able to tell time, but those days feel so far away. With a cell phone in everyone’s back pocket, watches are no longer necessary items.

While at first it may seem like watches are another unfortunate casualty of society’s technological progression, this doesn’t appear to be the case. Once an item is no longer a necessity, it can become an accessory, and we love accessories. Instead of only wearing the same watch all the time, why not have different watches for different outfits? I’m not saying that we should all run out and buy seven different watches, but the next time I see a lonely watch sitting in the jewelry case at a thrift shop, I’ll probably take a second glance.

It’s important to remember, though, that not just any watch will work for the office. They shouldn’t be too large or too flashy, both which are common tendencies in watch design. In case you haven’t heard already, bigger isn’t always better, and you don’t want to blind your boss with your wrist bling in the middle of a meeting.

Watches as necklaces are also an increasingly popular option. You don’t have to look hard on Etsy or vintage-inspired shops like Modcloth to find plenty of whimsical pieces from which to choose. When deciding on one for yourself, I would avoid being both too cutesy and too overwhelming. You don’t want to come across as silly wearing some fairy princess necklace, but you also don’t want a huge, gleaming medallion hanging from your neck (both are available).

Another general trend in accessories is steampunk design. Steampunk is a genre of science fiction that focuses on the Victorian era (the time period when steam was the driving energy force in industry), in particular, how society at that time imagined the future. For jewelry, this means necklaces, bracelets, rings and watches that display their inner mechanics but with the addition of a few fantastical flourishes. Below is a good example of the steampunk style.

Photo Credit: CosmicFirely

I have several steampunk items favorited on my Etsy account. I love the intricate detail and imaginative design, and they kind of remind me of the style of Tim Burton films. Couldn’t you see Helena Bonham Carter wearing a pin like this? Functioning steampunk watches are rather expensive and usually a little much for the office, so I found two watches that echo the style by exposing some of their inner workings on the watch face.

In addition to overall design, one also has to consider the power behind the watch. There are your typical options, such as manual winding and battery power, but did you know that some watches are powered by the movement of your wrist? Self-winding or automatic watches do not need to be manually wound by the wearer because they have a special weight that rotates with the movements of the person’s wrist. This was news to me (am I behind the times?), so I had to include one. The Stuhrling “Wall Street” watch, below, is an example of this form of watch power.

There are a lot of cool watches out there, so it was difficult to choose just eight to share with you, but here are a few that I think would fit perfectly in a work wardrobe:

Top Row:

Kenneth Cole Automatic Skeleton Watch,$60

Vintage Zaria Watch, $45 (from Soviet Russia!)

Jacques Lemans Geneve/Gloria Watch, $350

Stuhrling “Wall Street” Skeleton Watch, $82

Bottom Row:

Modcloth True Love Watch, $25

Fossil Stella Mini Watch, $85

The Librarian Watch Necklace, $25

Modcloth Watch ‘n’ Soda, $30

One particularly awesome kind of watch that I wasn’t able to include in my collage of options is a twenty-four hour analog watch. Obviously, what watch doesn’t keep track of all twenty-four hours in each day? However, ordinary watches don’t display all twenty-four on their watch faces. The first such watch that I came across was the Navitimer Cosmonaute watch by Breitling (below), designed to be worn by astronauts because AM and PM don’t matter when you’re bopping around in space.

Price tag? We’re looking at $3,500, no sweat. To my disappointment, research into similar watches in the young professional-friendly price range produced nothing, so for now, I have to be satisfied with the mere twelve hour display.  Unless, of course, one of Cubicle Chic’s lovely readers has located the elusive twenty-four hour analog display watch shop…

 

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What’s Your Cubicle Chic?

Dawa Lhatsamtsang: The Financial Analyst

Cubicle Chic found a kindred spirit in Dawa! Not only does she work in the corporate world like yours truly (she’s in finance), but she enjoys experimenting with colors and styles in her work wardrobe, too. If Cubicle Chic ever needed a third stylish lady, Dawa would be the perfect fit!

Dawa brought along two of her favorite outfits to share with us because sometimes it’s nearly impossible to decide which of your looks ranks the highest. We all had a fabulous time snapping photos around the East Village and discussing the pros and cons of the workplace and commuting in New York City. Conclusion? Sometimes you get caught up in the gloomy and cynical side of things, but you have to keep everything in perspective and maintain your positive attitude. Plus, wearing a colorful blouse or cute heels to work can absolutely be mood boosters!

Earth Tones

What defines your personal style?

My style is classic – I usually go for smarts cuts and fits. But every once in a while I like to change things up and will go away from my comfort zone. However, I always like to feel comfortable in anything I wear. Anything that looks simple and easy is where I put my money.

What do you love about the looks that you wore for the “What’s Your Cubicle Chic?” shoot?

I wore a green DVF wrap dress (don’t know the name of the dress because I snagged it at a sample sale), and for the second look I wore a burnt orange shirt with beautiful bowtie details and a beige skirt. I love the versatility of my DVF dress – I can wear it for an occasion, from shopping to dinner to a night out. It is fun and feminine! The orange shirt was also picked up at a sale, this time at J.Crew. I love the color of the shirt and it’s especially apt for summer! The color makes you look fresh and bright. The popular image people have is that women in finance can only wear gray, brown, blue or black (basically muted neutrals). This is true to a certain extent, but also false. I think women in finance wear clothes that span the entire color spectrum, especially during the summer! One of my favorite sightings was a woman at work wearing a hot red summer dress with a cinched waistline. It was all “va va voom!” but did not look inappropriate at all.

Do you have any signature or favorite go-to items you couldn’t live without?

A black dress from Zara! A black dress is like a blank canvas. It can be paired with any color! When I am in a rush, I usually wear my black dress and reach for the nearest cardigan without stopping to think of the color combo.

Where do you get your style inspiration?

I do not consider myself a fashionable person. I don’t follow trends. What I really look for in an ensemble is how the colors mix and match. I think part of my obsession with color has to do with my Tibetan upbringing. I grew up in small Tibetan Refugee Community in Northern India. Until my late teens, married Tibetan women in my town only wore the Tibetan Chuba (a Tibetan style kimono minus all the frills would be the closest comparison) paired usually with a blouse. I grew up watching my mother meticulously pair her blouse with her chuba. She always looked great! These women did not have a choice in silhouette, but capitalized on colors and always looked great. So I have always admired women with a great sense of color.

Have you ever made a fashion faux-pas that you now regret?

Yes! Too many to count. A lot of attempts at wow-inducing fashion gone wrong. I once wore a dark green silk dress with black tights and a neon green wedge peep toe. Black tights with a peep toe is fashion suicide on its own, but matching the dark green dress with a different shade of green shoe was absolutely horrific. I guess I was channeling a leprechaun??!

What’s the best part of living, working and integrating your style into your life in NYC?

The best part about living in NYC is that you have access to a lot of shopping options. The city has plenty of discount clothing stores which are perfect for a bargain shopper like myself. In addition, there are always a lot of shopping events happening in the city. The DVF sample sale is a riot! If you are in the mood to splurge, you have Barney’s and Bergdorf’s. You’ll never see me there! I also get my DailyCandy emails that give an update on sales and shopping events in the city. I also love the city because it almost encourages you to be more experimental with your clothes. I get that sense that there is no one judging you, however, a serious wardrobe malfunction obviously attracts a lot of furtive glances.

What’s the most difficult part?

The commute to work can be pretty ugly in the morning. There is a high chance your starchy white shirt will get dirty.

Any style tips for aspiring financial analysts?

A dash of color can be an instant mood booster!

How does being female in a male-dominated industry affect your sense of style?

I don’t think being a female in finance particularly affects my sense of style. Just being a professional, I think you have to honor some work fashion protocols which can be broadly applied across all professions. Fashion dictum at work – less is more, perhaps?

Iconic DVF

Thanks Dawa!!

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Stolen Says: Barbounia for Brunch

One of my favorite pastimes in New York City is brunch. Myriad sandwich boards line the streets advertising bottomless mimosas or three free drinks with prix fixe brunch. With all of these options, you’d think it would be difficult to chose, however, hands down, the brunch spot I visit and love the most is Barbounia.

Photo Credit: nymag.com

Chic, Mediterranean, arching marble balustrades and unlimited mimosas or bellinis for only $12.00 – that’s my kind of place. Unisex restrooms may come as a shock for first-timers, but the cool hues of the blue mosaic floor and the heavily frosted glass doors on the stalls make it a safe, comfortable zone.

Photo Credit: nymag.com

The mimosas and bellinis are impeccably made. The food menu boasts a tantalizing fusion of Mediterranean cuisine and American favorites. From Moroccan eggs cooked and served in a skillet with tomato sauce, paprika, garlic and lamb mergueza, to challah french toast served with creme fraiche and sprinkled with cinnamon, the food is to die for and well worth the $10-$15 you will spend on any given brunch item.

Located on 20th Street and Park Avenue, Barbounia is a perfect location for post-brunch wanderings through the Union Square market, the fountain in Washington Square or the L’Arte del Gelato for a refreshing snack in the West Village. Or, if you feel more inclined to do a little happily-buzzed sunbathing, it’s just a short ride on the 6 train to Central Park. Either way, its prime location only adds to the incredible place that is Barbounia.

Photo Credit: nymag.com

Of course, bottomless mimosas can be found all year round in New York. But there is something about sitting at that wooden table for parties of five or more with the floor to ceiling window panels open to let the outside warmth in; it gives summertime brunch a special place in my heart. Some of my favorite memories are of eating, drinking and laughing at Barbounia with all the amazing people I’ve come to know and love from all areas of New York City.

And so with this, we say goodbye to summer. Until next year…

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