In the on-going rivalry between homemade and storebought, homemade wins out nearly every time in my book. Macaroni and cheese? Dude, obviously. I mean, have you had my mac and cheese? It’s fantastic and Kraft is shit. Cookies? Check check homemade. Halloween costumes? Okay. I always wanted the ones from the store but my mom, as usual, was right. They were cheap and always broke before you made it the second block and my brother and I always looked amazing when we went the DIY route.
And I like making/building things with my own two hands. It’s satisfying. And Made By You guarantees One of a Kind. Which is undeniably cool and great and so on.
Here, I’ve put together some easy, no-sew DIY-dress-yourself projects, all culled from unattainably high-end sources.
So look, the Outnet.com prices this Burberry trench at $928 ON SALE. Work the ombre yourself with either dye or bleach, depending on your starting point. Easy peasy. The dress is from Designers Remix and is also on sale but this one goes for EUR 153, which is some higher number in American dollars. I say, if you ever find a lovely silk dress at Goodwill, abandoned there and forlorn because of some unfortunate stain, take it home and splatter wine and/or ink on it. Totally. And instead of spending $600-$1200 on a pair of killer heals, just bling out a cheap(er) pair. You will find both chain and feathers at any craft store anywhere. And don’t overthink it. Hot glue gun. Fun and done. And that clutch? That’s just the awesome.
I am completey annoyed by Marc Jacobs. With few exceptions, what he does for his eponymous lines elicits one of two responses from me: “eh” and “ick.” And this sweater is fine, but for serious, who’s going to pay over $450 for this? You know what else you can get at Micheal’s? Rad, iron-on appliqués for, like, I don’t know, $10 or something. And the breton tee? We’ve already established it’s a ubiquitous basic. Moving on…
I will say this, however: After the immediate grief I felt upon hearing the news, I had a wave of extreme excitement, because I hoped/knew that we’d finally get more stories to read, and then I worried whether extreme excitement isn’t perhaps an inappropriate emotion in the wake of someone’s death.
But maybe that reaction is matched to the kind of writer he was and to the kind of stories he wrote: those of grief and meaningful losses, shot through with uncomfortable, anticipatory thrills.
One of my favorite Salinger stories has always been “For Esmé — with Love and Squalor” and Esmé always seemed like such a smart, free-thinking, free-wheeling, stand-up dame. The narrator calls her forehead “exquisite,” her eyes “blasé,” and her voice “the sweetest-sounding, the surest, and it automatically led the way.” He fancies her a “truth-lover” and “small-talk detester.”
Anyone can tell the first time reading that she grew up to be Katherine Hepburn in every movie ever with Spencer Tracy; that woman with the witty, intelligent, intriguing things to say and the “enviable poise”; one of those mad femmes who wear their awkward or odd features, wet hair or quick-bit nails, as well as their well-tailored wardrobe. She is privileged but tragic, like the female Batman.
And anyway, she’s just one of my favorite literary heroines of all time, a definite contender guest for that hypothetical, ideal dinner party. You just know she’d bring a fabulous bottle.
And only the day before that old man’s passing, my old friend Emily1 had left this message on Quick, said the bird’s facebook wall: “I love the unabashed love of sumptuous fur!”
So I was thinking about Emily and then I was thinking fondly of Esmé, and thinking then that maybe the two were similar in certain ways. They aren’t quite perfect matches but they’re both strong of mind and of will, and both say what they think to charming but slightly shocking effect.
Emily is a talented writer and thanks to her I’ve got some good stories in my own arsenal. For example: When we were still in high school, Emily (and our friend Nadia) came along with my family and me to LA and Palm Springs for spring break. At an open mic at some coffee house dive in the desert, Emily sang the Cars’ “Just What I Needed,” told everyone there that she was the love child of Gene Simmons, and shot out her tongue like a banner to prove it.
That same trip, she charmed the big black bouncer at the Viper Room in LA, over 6 feet tall and 300 lbs. if he was an inch and an ounce, and swathed in head-to-toe purple. He ended up writing us a note2 to give to the bouncer at the Whiskey-a-go-go and bouncer #2 let us in to the sold-out show for free.
Another story is that in college I visited her parents’ home in Oxford, Miss and we snuck onto Faulker’s property, even though it was closed for renovations, and smoked cigarettes on his porch.3 I imagined that literary hero doing the same in the same spot and almost died.
Anyway, this post is for Emily, and Esmé, and Salinger: It is Esme’s grown-up wardrobe. Full of fur and better than you. With love.4
1. Let me be clear that Emily is NOT old. She’s young. Like us. I’ve just known her a really long time.
2. The note read, simply, “Gino, Let my friends in. -Ed.” I think Emily still has the note. Ihave physical possession of the poem that was written for Emily, Nadia, and myself at the party we were invited to after the Gene Simmons Incident. True stories, all of these.
3. Sorry Mom.
4. “Are you at all acquainted with squalor?”