A patron saint of shopping hasn't been designated yet, but I'm waiting. I've identified two patron saints of merchants, Saint Nicholas - no surprise there - and delightfully, especially for all the little ones who are wishing for a puppy or a kitten under their trees, Saint Francis of Assisi. Saint Anthony, the Finder of the Missing, doesn't seem to be associated with merchandising, which is a pity given all the profits that have vanished of late. Anyway, here are a couple of shots of Rockefeller Center, conveniently located between my doctor's office and Saint Patrick's Cathedral. And directly across from Saks Fifth Avenue, as it happens, but the Saks decorations this year are drawing mobs of people with phones, cameras, sticks, lights, tripods!
And yet I love the secular materialistic bustle in the streets, the self-conscious denominationally neutral displays and decorations, and the triumphant carrying home of shopping bags. Coming back from the bank across the street, with its jar of mints and extra-special cookies for good customers, doesn't do it. Here are some shots of the interior of Bloomingdale's, which this year is helping its ceilings live up to their potential.
The ground-floor ceiling extravaganza is best seen from the elevators. Outside, the window displays have a theme which I think was meant to be the 5 senses in seasonally related multi-media.
So, the things that were going to family (besides the $) were sent and have been received and hidden. But I still went for a seasonal wander, and - this may astound you - I bought a few things that just happened to fit me. The year-end markdowns started even earlier this year, and so did I.
Lauren Ralph Lauren suede workshirt. The suede is light enough that the garment can in fact be worn as a shirt, I like it with dark jeans or denim skirt, and with black silk tailored pants. Obviously, this shouldn't be worn while cooking (entertaining) or trying to amuse small children or frisky animals. Thank you for the considerate early email, Lord and Taylor, and for the great reductions and promos.
What to do with that coat. Coat drives began early this year, and the J.Crew double-cloth black wool trench was my first donation. I'm hoping it will keep someone warm if this winter ever turns to winter, and the cut of the coat is such that it could be perfect for a pregnant lady whose luck hasn't been terrific this year.
The great Fair Isle sweater smackdown. I perspire at the very thought of how many Fair Isle sweaters I tried on, in different weights and blends - veritable chemical cocktails in yarn form, I was afraid I might start to emit an eerie greenish glow. The result, for all-around comfort, with a visible but not garish design, was the J.Crew Tippi Merino Wool Fair Isle Sweater in the gray colorway. The Fair Isle design developed as a way to create a sweater that was 3 or 4 layers thick, for wear in cold countries. The yarns of the different colors are carried along on the inside of the garment when not actually participating in the decorative pattern. Thus, my winning sweater is merino and has a classic but not overwhelming design. The merino yarn keeps the sweater light enough to be worn under a coat or jacket without causing make-up meltdown. Second place went to the men's wool fair isle sweater with a background misnamed "Holly." The color was a definite blue with green overtones. The yarn was described as "wool." Huh. I'd call it "itchy." I liked the color combination, however. I also tried on the merino Tippi in the pinkish color, it did nothing for me. I passed by the heavier yarns and innovative arrangements of design since my life is not going to include skiing this winter. Nor, probably, if these crazy spring-like temperatures continue, will yours.
Here's a close-up of the winner:
Here's a close-up of the winner:
Here is a large wool scarf that I grabbed at the J.Crew Collection Store. I haven't seen it on the website yet. I loved the colors, the fabric is thick but lightweight, and - what can I say? It's a nice scarf.
It just occurred to me that the scarf may in fact have made it to the website but the colors got distorted by sloppy photography or willful monitors.
I also zoomed through Banana Republic and came home with two flannel shirts, which they were giving away. Almost. Very nicely made, 100% cotton, described as "our famous soft wash" which as best I can tell means real flannel, not that slippery thin stuff. The black-and-white is self-explanatory, the other is dark green with navy and black.
The next few days will be devoted to getting ready for Christmas dinner. We have just done a little work on the apartment, with a wonderful crew of Polish carpenters, Mexican painters, and Chinese stone men. Everyone worked carefully and professionally, didn't get in each other's way, and they finished on time so that one of the Polish guys could get home for what sounds like a much more elaborate Christmas feast than I could ever organize. The rest of the crew can't go home, for if they do, they won't be able to come back. I thank them for their good work, and I wish them the love and company of their families for next Christmas. Meanwhile I have to find all the things that I put away when I was clearing the decks for the project. It's the obverse of the hunt for hidden presents that once kept me and Sis occupied during late Decembers past.