Feeds:
Posts
Comments

IMG_20200319_104650919Here in the Bay Area we are under a shelter-in-place command. To help slow the spread of Covid-19 we have been told to stay home except for essential errands such as grocery shopping, medical appointments, and anyone who is working an essential job.

Others across the country are also doing their part by staying home. Here we are at a distance from friends and family, maybe miles and miles away, maybe just a few blocks.

I have an idea to lift our spirits! Write a letter. Who doesn’t like to get mail? We all do and yet it’s a rarity these days to receive a handwritten note or even a card. Earlier this year Papyrus closed all their stores across the country because of low sales. Hallmark stores also closed many of their locations. It’s sad to say that thank you notes, party invitations, holiday cards have all given way to social media.

I know several people in my life who would enjoy a letter. Something handwritten to say “I’m thinking of you.” It doesn’t have to be long. Even just a postcard with Hello on it could brighten someone’s day.

And here’s another idea – how about a letter writing lesson for kids, who are now studying at home because of school closures. Pull out some paper and colored pencils and have them make a card with a brief note to grandma and grandpa, auntie, cousin, godparent. Better yet, is there an elderly person in the neighborhood? Make a card for them and then on a walk (walking is good too) pop it in their mailbox. What a nice surprise that would be. Who knows, maybe they’ll write back.

Taking the time to sit and write a letter is a calming exercise. It forces us to stop and to think – what am I going to say? How should I say it? (Quiet reflection right now is a good thing.) It can be creative as well. Many letter writers draw on the paper or decorate with stamps and stickers.

Have I convinced you?

 

51tGfYjaB2L._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_She looked overdressed and dangerously hot, but sunstroke or suffocation had not yet finished her off … I still thought she would be better off without so many tunics. Perhaps in a fine mansion with marble veneers, fountains, garden courtyards deep in shade, a leisured young lady might keep cool, even swaddled in embroidered finery with jet and amber bangles from her elbow to her wrist. If she ran out in a hurry she would instantly regret it. The heat haze would melt her. Those light robes would stick to all the lines of her slim figure. 

Marcus Didius Falco, fictional character of the mystery novel, The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis.

I’m a fan of mystery novels, but good ones are hard to come by. A few years ago I listened to a BBC Radio 4 dramatization (starring Anton Lesser) of one of the Marcus Didius Falco series, which take place in Ancient Rome. When I recently had the opportunity to read The Silver Pigs, the first in the series published in 1989, I was hooked. Well-written for starters, and full of historical detail. Ms. Davis certainly did her research. She says that she had trouble getting published at first. Editors didn’t think a mystery set in Ancient Rome would be of interest. Ha! Now her books are often used in high schools as supplemental reading.

There are around 21 books in the series. Plenty to read while we all stay home to avoid COVID-19.

IMG_20200309_171318

Tools for staying healthy. (Thanks for the mask, Kit.)

Last week I was in the grocery store and noticed that people were going out of their way to keep a “safe” distance from one another. I had to chuckle to myself because that’s a regular practice for me.

The coronavirus or COVID-19 is causing a lot of anxiety. We all know, hopefully, the basics of trying to stay healthy – wash hands often and avoid anyone, as best we can, who is ill. Of course if we’re not feeling well ourselves, COVID-19 or just a cold, we stay home.

But I have some other tips that perhaps haven’t occurred to most people:

  1. Pens: I don’t use a store, restaurant, or bank pen. I carry my own and I usually don’t loan it to strangers but if I do, I tell them to keep it.
  2. Grocery carts/baskets: I haven’t used one of those in years. I put my purchases in the reusable canvas bags I bring with me. If it’s a big grocery shopping trip, then that won’t work so just make sure to wipe the grocery cart handle. Speaking of canvas shopping bags, it’s a good idea to throw them in the wash every so often.
  3. Pubic transportation: For starters, I don’t touch anything. But I also have a dedicated pair of gloves for the task if needed. I spray the gloves with alcohol after each use and keep them in a plastic bag. (I just read that Queen Elizabeth these days is sporting gloves in public. Good for her!) I also refrain from putting my purse or tote bag on the floor or on the seat next to me.
  4. Airplane travel: I’m with Naomi Campbell! I wipe down everything with a disinfectant towel – seat, screen, seat-belt, tray, etc.
  5. Public spaces: What to do in a classroom, conference room, work staff room? Before I sit, I wipe down the seat and table with a disinfectant towel.
  6. When I get home after having been on public transportation, or in any public space where I’ve had to sit, I spray my clothes with alcohol and hang them in the bathroom overnight. Just as as extra precaution.
  7. Finally, I keep hand sanitizer at an easy reach. I have noticed no matter how much I think/plan ahead something unexpected happens. Having the sanitizer in a pocket is helpful. (Such as, after using a store keypad. I hear those are covered with germs.)

This is what I do all the time to avoid colds and the flu and now the dreaded COVID-19. It seems to me that taking precautions during this pubic health crisis is the right thing to do for ourselves, our families, and our communities.

Stay healthy out there!

 

 

IMG_20200304_180839

In this French Court painting (c 1582), the ladies are wearing farthingale under their gowns to get that desired wheel shape. The men are sporting jackets with wide ruffs at the collar, breeches, and hose. 

… I would only add further that he ought to consider what appearance he wishes to have and what manner of man he wishes to be taken for, and dress accordingly; and see to it that his attire aid him to be so regarded even by those who do not hear him speak or see him do anything whatever. 

Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529), Italian courtier and Renaissance author.

This quote is from the book “The Courtier” by Baldassare Castiglione published in 1528.

In Fashion History class the first exam (of three) is behind us (yes, I did well!) and we are now studying The Italian Renaissance and The Northern Renaissance.

I found this quote in our text book, Survey of Historic Costume, by Phyllis Tortora and Keith Eubank. Throughout the book are quotes about fashion by individuals from different periods.

As for the quote – I say excellent advice for then and now.

 

EuJv2fZQ

When we think of American style, we think of among other things, jeans. More specifically we think Levi’s Jeans. But have we ever considered the story behind the iconic brand? It’s an interesting one and locals in the Bay Area have a unique opportunity to learn about Levi Strauss the man and his jeans.

IMG_20200225_110702961

Levi Strauss never wore jeans himself because in his day jeans were for manual labor workers and he was a businessman.

On now at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco is Levi Strauss: A History of American Style. Featuring over 250 items from the Levi Strauss & Co. Archives, this exhibit sets out to tell the story of German immigrant Levi Strauss and how he went from a dry goods merchant to THE man behind our beloved blue jeans.

Born in 1829 in Bavaria, as a young man Strauss immigrated first to New York to work selling dry goods. He then moved to San Francisco during the end of the Gold Rush to expand the family business.

Meanwhile, Northern California tailor Jacob Davis was hearing from workers that their pants were not holding up to hard wear and tear. He had an idea to place rivets at key stress points on the pants. He had the idea, but not the funds to push it forward. In comes Strauss and the two men worked together on a patent. That was the start of a business venture that is still impacting fashion today.

 

Included in this extensive exhibit are photos of Strauss’ hometown in Germany, decades of Levi’s Jeans advertisements, Hollywood film clips showcasing Levi’s, a 1974 Gremlin car with Levi’s interior upholstery, and many original Levi’s garments from early overalls to a leather jacket worn by Albert Einstein to an array of distinctive re-purposed Levi’s Jeans. It’s the largest public display of the company’s archival items ever gathered and it’s exclusive to the CJM.

One thing that struck me about the Levi’s story, something I had not thought about, is the evolution of jeans. Strauss was clever at expanding the desire of his product for the working man –  to the cowboy, to the teenager, and eventually to women in 1918 with “Freedom-Alls” and in 1934 with the first jeans line for women called “Lady Levi’s.” Beyond that, over the decades jeans became statement pieces for rebels, hippies, and rock stars proving that Levi’s Jeans have something for everyone.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

IMG_20200225_110653542_HDR

Strauss and Davis were granted their US patent in 1873.

In addition to the fashion story, Levi Strauss: A History of American Style is a local Jewish story. Lori Starr, Executive Director of the CJM says, “The exhibition will contextualize the Jewish experience for twenty-first-century audiences, offering insight into the history of San Francisco and its Jewish population, the story of an iconic element of American style, and the inventive spirit behind it all.”

Levi Strauss: A History of American Style is on now through August 9, 2020 at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission Street at 3rd St. in San Francisco. 

Don’t miss this rare opportunity.

 

 

It takes nine pairs of jeans to make one pair of my customized creations. 

Melody Sabatasso, Bay Area fashion designer.

 

In the 1970s, Ms. Sabatasso was an independent fashion designer just starting out with her own boutique in Marin County. Her personal daily style back then included jeans but she found she had nothing appropriate to wear to an upcoming wedding. So, she got creative and made herself a patchwork dress out of re-purposed Levi’s.

Her dress somehow caught the eye of Hollywood legend Lauren Bacall, who commissioned the designer to make an outfit for her. Ms. Sabatasso hitchhiked to the Huntington Hotel in San Francisco for a private fitting with Ms. Bacall. On the inside of the ensemble for the actress she wrote in red, Love Melody.

That was the beginning of a long and ongoing career in custom re-purposed denim outfits. Her creation for Ms. Bacall (pictured above) is part of Levi Strauss: A History of American Style, the current exhibit at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.

Check back tomorrow for my full coverage of this impressive fashion exhibit.

 

 

Image One: German Duke of Saxony sports an entire suit of Panes, which in this case there are no tufts of fabric pulled through – just the slashes. c. 1514.

Image Two: Queen Elizabeth I. c.1575. 

Image Three: A close-up of the Queen’s Panes with the added jeweled Sleeve Clasps. 

In the mid to late sixteenth century, there was a trend for Panes or Slashes – actual slashes in the fabric of an outer garment with tufts of the under-garment (chemise) pulled through. In some cases small jeweled pins called Sleeve Clasps were used to fasten the panes.

What a look! I almost like the entire suit best because the slashes don’t get lost among all the other busy embellishments the Queen’s got going on with her ensemble. (But, she IS the Queen so there’s no such thing as too much.)

If I were a fashion designer I would be inspired by panes. I envision a quilted coat – slim, not bulky – with slashes and the batting in maybe a bright color poking through. Stitching around each slash. I’m not sure that could even work, as I’m not a quilter, but anything goes in one’s imagination.