Solo Lisa Reads: Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart

Before Carrie and the gals of Sex and the City were taking Manhattan by storm, Marjorie Hart and her best friend Marty Garrett were University of Iowa undergrads who ventured from the Midwest to the Big Apple for an unforgettable summer in 1945. Their rose-tinted memories form the basis of Marjorie's memoir, Summer at Tiffany. I first heard about the book via a publicist's email; intrigued by the synopsis and the nostalgic appeal of the story, I requested a review copy.

Marjorie and Marty found jobs as pages on the sales floor of the illustrious Tiffany flagship on Fifth Avenue--the first female pages at Tiffany. (A shortage of employable men during the war prompted this decision. Traditionally, the jobs were held by blue-blooded young men looking for "respectable" summer employment.)

The book chronicles their summer in loving detail. For modern readers, it's definitely an interesting glimpse into the past. I was captivated by the somber, sophisticated atmosphere of the 1940s Tiffany that Hart described, where male salesmen rapped glass countertops with diamond rings to summon the pages, who would take away items for repair or alteration. On any given day, a gangster or a Hollywood star would stop by to repair a watch or pick out a wedding gift.

Summer at Tiffany is also an interesting slice of social history with its firsthand accounts of life at the infamous jewelry store and the social lives of the girls outside of work. (Picture dances and double dates with cute servicemen and good times with friends on the town, as well as the indescribable excitement of celebrating the end of WWII in Times Square.) Of course, as a fashion blogger, I also savoured the descriptions of the clothes women wore during this era.

Author Marjorie Hart

Overall I really enjoyed Summer at Tiffany and found it to be a breezy fun read, perfect for the beach or sunny days in the park. Look for it in bookstores, visit the book's website, and follow Marjorie on Twitter at @tiffanylady!

Luxe Or Less: Floral Strand Necklaces

Summer has been one fickle season this year with some days feeling downright autumnal and others being seasonably warm. While I can't do anything to make the sunshine stick around, I can incorporate a few more florals and blooms into my outfits to remind myself that good weather is just around the corner. Marni's petal-embellished chain necklace ($325) is sophisticated and feminine with its ruffled pink blooms and black bows, and because it's only one strand, this necklace would look great layered with others over a button-down boyfriend shirt or shirtdress tunic. You can also double up the strand as a shorter necklace or wrap it around your wrist as a bracelet.

Of course, for those of us on tighter budgets, Forever 21's pearlescent floral necklace ($9.80) is a fun alternative at a fraction of the price--and it's just as versatile as its more expensive counterpart.

From Solo Lisa's Kitchen: Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

Mmm more lemony goodness! When I made the lemon ginger bundt cake, my mom said it was good but complained that the cake was too sweet, buttery, and rich. In other words, she wanted a healthier "light" option. I ended up making these lemon poppy seed cookies on Father's Day weekend for both my parents. At 72 calories for 2 cookies, this recipe from the June 2010 issue of Everyday Food magazine definitely fits the bill. Aside from the difference in calories per serving, the fact that this recipe is so much quicker than the cake makes it more suitable for everyday snacking. Serve these cookies with a cup of tea or coffee in the afternoon and you're good to go.

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda. In a small bowl, mix together sugar, egg yolks, poppy seeds, oil, lemon zest, and vanilla. Stir egg mixture into flour mixture until combined (dough will be dry).
  2. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake cookies until golden brown, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies while hot to wire racks and let cool completely. (Store in an airtight container, up to 5 days.)

Wood Reclaimed

Dangling Hearts earrings (Billy Would), $58

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? None if local jewelry labels Dominic and Billy Would have anything to say about it. Both of these lines use reclaimed wood salvaged from furniture designers, woodworkers, and factories. In other words, these designers rescue leftover wood bits and turn them into unique necklaces and earrings.

Dominique earrings (Dominic), $34

I purchased the 'Dominique' earrings from the LYNNsteven Boutique in Gastown and was amazed at how light they were. The bamboo squares are sanded and polished until they glow with an organic warmth, and their neutral tone and simple geometric shape make them versatile enough to go with a lot of outfits. If you like the drama of large earrings but worry that wearing them all the time will stretch out your earlobes, consider wood earrings. Materials like bamboo, rosewood, and exotic hardwoods can make a statement without weighing you down.

Statement necklace lovers will find a lot to love about bib necklaces and pendants made from reclaimed wood too.

Statement Leaves necklace (Billy Would), $158

In Vancouver, Dominic is available at the LYNNSteven Boutique (225 Carrall St) and Billy Would is sold at Two of Hearts Boutique (3728 Main St), but you can also order directly from the labels' websites.

Would you ever consider wearing wooden jewelry? Do you have any favourite wooden jewelry pieces lurking in your collection?

Today's Outfit: Nicole Bridger Show @ Opus

  • Hat (Urban Outfitters)
  • Shirtdress (Aritzia)
  • Leggings (American Apparel)
  • Shoes (Faryl Robin)
  • Earrings (Dominic Design)
  • Rings (Wendy Brandes)
  • Chain wallet clutch, worn as shoulder bag (Chanel)
All work and no play make for a dull girl indeed, so when I received an invitation to the Nicole Bridger show at Opus last Thursday, I welcomed the break from my work and writing deadlines. It was also a chance to catch up with fellow bloggers Carolina (Closet Full of Nothing), Anya (I'm the It Girl), and Niki (A Haute Mess) while admiring the latest spring/summer 2010 collection from Bridger. As with her previous collections, wearable draped silhouettes and a neutral colour palette were the most notable characteristics of the pieces overall. I really liked the unexpected details on pieces such as hidden pockets in skirts and dresses. Due to the fact that the lighting was poor and I was having too much fun to concentrate on taking pictures, I don't have very many to share from the show.

Opus proved to be a cozy chic venue and the show was a small intimate one. The "runway" was just a pathway cleared through the crowd for the models. This season's collection was inspired by concepts of community.

The designer herself. Nicole Bridger recently won the Design Forward award from Fashion Takes Action, a group devoted to promoting sustainability in fashion design. Congratulations on all your successes Nicole!

Summer Shoes

From left to right: Kelsi Dagger, Bravo Browns (the jewels on the toe remind me of Miu Miu flats), Report, Pour La Victoire, Yosi Samra (with Aldo shoe clips)

In the age-old debate of heels vs. flats, I am most definitely a flats girl for everyday wear. Heels impart glamour and sassy attitude on the wearer; slip the right pair on and a woman suddenly feels taller, more powerful, alluring, as if she can conquer the world. But even when heels make you feel your most powerful, there's something anti-feminist about them too. They can reduce you to a hobbling mess if worn for too long. You find yourself strategizing how far you'll have to walk and when you can sit down and plan your social schedule around it.

I'm usually very good about putting my shoes back into their boxes after I wear them, but lately my ballet flats and flat sandals have been worn so much that I don't even bother anymore. They're dressy enough for long days at work that stretch into long evenings out on the town. After all, when summer finally arrives in Vancouver, I want to be the adventurous girl who's up for anything, not the girl who has to say no because it's too far to walk.

Which do you prefer to wear more, heels or flats? Does your preference change with the seasons?


Calling all crafters! Swap-O-Rama-Rama is happening on Saturday June 26th, 11am-4pm, at the Museum of Vancouver (1100 Chestnut Street). This clothing and craft supply swap lets the community explore reuse and creativity by recycling. Bring your clean gently used clothing and unused craft supplies to this event and get creative. Swap supplies with others. DIY stations with screen printing by Blim and sewing by Plush On Main will be there. Take as little or as much as you like! All unused items will be donated to local charities.

Admission is $6 at the door or $5 in advance.

Introducing Lara Presber, Architect & Fashion Designer

Fashion and architecture seem to go well together. I've already had the good luck of meeting two very fashionable ladies who also happen to be trained architects; now I have the good fortune of interviewing a practicing architect who's taken the plunge into fashion design, Lara Presber. Lara's work first came to my attention via a publicist's email, and once I saw the fluid lines and graceful draping of her work, I was intrigued. Lara was gracious enough to answer a few questions I sent her about her 2010 spring collection, which is currently available at body politic. Readers, meet Lara Presber.

Lisa: For readers unfamiliar with your work and your aesthetic, can you give a brief description of what your line is all about?
Lara: I use inhabitable spaces to inspire wearable pieces, meaning that each season I translate a building that inspires me into a womenswear collection. This can be anything from the history of the site to the building materials, overall geometries/structure, and colour palette.

Lisa: You were a working architect before you turned to fashion design. This strikes me as funny and remarkable because you're the third architect I've come across who really loves fashion. What prompted the change in careers? Why do you think architects are attracted to fashion? What are some of the most striking similarities and differences between both fields, in your experience?
Lara: I’m actually still practicing architecture, but only part time now as opposed to the other way around! I think that when you’re in a creative profession you really need to love what you do to be successful, and while I enjoy architecture, I love clothing design. I had always wanted to get into fashion, but it didn’t seem very feasible growing up in the Canadian prairies so I took the safe route and started with buildings instead.

I can’t speak for all architects, but I’m really drawn to the tectonics of the way that clothing goes together and how you can get a completely different look just by changing a fabric or even changing the direction of the textile, so I think it’s more accurate to say that I’ve been seduced by the construction aspect of the clothing more so than the fashion part. I deal a lot with structure when designing a garment, which ties back very literally to architecture. The biggest differences for me between the two professions are the timelines (6 month cycle versus 5 years) and the tactile nature of the execution; it’s so much more intimate with the clothing, to see it on the end user and see their reaction as well as take part in the construction. In both professions, I think we all really want to physically make things with our bare hands, but it’s only with fashion that I get to do this.

The Aqua Tower

Lisa: Your current collection is inspired by the Aqua Tower of Chicago. Why the Aqua Tower, and how did you translate design elements from a building into clothing?
Lara: I was in Chicago for a trade show a couple of years ago and opened the curtains in my hotel room to see this marvellous concrete curved fin on the next building over--it was so close I could have jumped out onto it! I couldn’t get that building out of my head so I knew that it would be the next basis for a collection. After returning home, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the building is the tallest of its kind designed by a woman-led firm, which sealed the choice. You can see the relationship of the colours in the silk print as well as the fins echoed in the tiered pieces. I like that the amount of glass and concrete you see changes depending on where you’re standing and tried to express that with revealing a different coloured silk under the charcoal tiers that move and flutter when you walk.

Lisa: What's next for you, personally and professionally?
Lara: I’ve just launched my first flagship store/design studio in Calgary earlier this year so I'm quite content at the moment with settling into this new challenge. It has been really wonderful to meet my clients face to face and learn what I can do to make the line even better. It has been a huge change for me so I think that I won’t be adding anything else into the mix for the next little while!

Want to see more of Lara's work? Visit body politic (12th and Main, Vancouver) in person or online to shop the colleciton.

Pink In The City

Join local modelling agency InspirationALL on Friday June 25th 5-9pm at Canvas Lounge (99 Powell Street) as they hold their third annual fundraiser for the Weekend to End Women's Cancers, Pink in the City. Dress to impress so that you'll be ready for the mini fashion photo shoot, pink carpet, and photo wall. Enjoy cocktails and canapés as well as complimentary salsa lessons; if you have two left feet, you can sit back and learn a beauty trick or two from Mink Makeup Artistry. And, of course, there'll be raffles and giveaways! Men and women are welcome to attend, but all the attention will be on the ladies that night--including that of the charming male models present.

Pink in the City tickets are available here for $20 if you purchase them before June 15th (that's tomorrow!) and $25 after June 15th. Each ticket includes a welcome cocktail, canapés, a sponsor gift, and cover for Canvas on Friday night if you choose to stay later.

Sears Robson Celebrates Their New Modern Shop With Free Gift Cards

I have a very exciting exclusive to share with Solo Lisa readers! Sears on Robson has revamped their ground floor retail space with the new Modern Shop, which includes on-trend and affordable brands such as GUESS, Buffalo by David Bitton, Kensie, and American Apparel. To celebrate, they're offering 50 lucky shoppers a $20 gift card to spend in the Modern Shop. All you have to do is stop by on Saturday June 12th at 1:30pm and provide the secret password (RENEW).

Happy shopping and have a great weekend!

Today's Outfit: The Alchemical Ingredient

In cooking, I like to think of lemons as an alchemical ingredient, a magical fruit that somehow makes every dish it's used in taste a lot better. Cut up and stuffed into a roast chicken, sliced thinly and placed on baked salmon, used in lemon-flavoured desserts...the possibilities are endless when it comes to enhancing the flavour of whatever dish you're making and turning the dish into something magical.

The respect that I hold for the versatility of lemons is the same as the esteem in which I hold scarves. I admit, I was never a big fan of spring and summer scarves until recently. Most of mine were voluminous and/or woolly, more suited for the winter. Then I began acquiring silk and vintage scarves, lightweight but colourful affairs. They transform even the most boring lazy Monday outfit into something worth a second glance. Without the filmy purple paisley scarf, what I'm wearing would just be another jeans-and-tee look, nothing spectacular (although I do like the miniature round studs going down the front of the tee in diagonal lines).
  • Scarf (Winners)
  • Tee (Kenneth Cole via Winners)
  • Jeans (Mavi)
  • Flats (Yosi Samra)
  • Shoe clips (Aldo)
  • Pearl studs (Claire's)
Are you a fan of scarves? Do you have other "alchemical ingredient" accessories you swear by because they're versatile and can change the look of an outfit completely?

Noir Lash Lounge Et Al. Present The Good Life Contest

Say hello to your most glamorous summer ever with a joint contest hosted by some of Vancouver's hottest beauty service providers! One lucky winner will enjoy pampering all summer long. Just take a look at what the prize pack includes. Good luck!

THE GOOD LIFE PRIZE PACK (value over $1200)
Noir Lash Lounge - 2 full sets of eyelash extensions + 2 fills
Bombay Brow Bar - 4 brow sessions value
Blo Blow Dry Bar - 4 blo outs
Pure Nail Bar - 2 mani + pedi’s
Stripped Wax Bar - 2 “Essentially Stripped” packages: Brazilian + full leg wax
Anna Kosturova - $100 Gift Certificiate and a personal fitting with Anna Kosturova
Society – Dinner for 2 + champagne cocktails
Sanafir – Dinner for 2 in bed + champagne cocktails

1. "Like" all the participating companies or join their group on Facebook.
2. After you've liked the companies, type the following as your Facebook status: Dear @Noir Lash Lounge I want to live @The Good Life this summer. xoxo [your name]
3. You can enter multiple times, but no more than once a day, until the deadline of June 25th 5pm.
4. The winner must email for information on how to collect their prize.
5. All gift certificates expire Aug. 31, 2010.

Lace Appeal

The look of lace is growing on me this season. Blame it on Prada's ready-to-wear fall 2008 collection two years ago for making the world fall in love with the sheer stuff usually reserved for tablecloths and lingerie. It's feminine and flirty, demure and alluring, sexy without being over-the-top.

This summer, lace also makes for some very interesting layering options as retailers everywhere stock items with lace insets or all-over lace. Last week, I bought two lacy pieces from American Apparel--the leaf flower lace tee ($45 Cdn) and the sheer rib lace raglan ($50 Cdn)--and I've been excited about their layering possibilities ever since. Wear sheer lace over a cami in a matching colour for subtle texture and visual interest, or use a bold-coloured underpinning for added drama. Beige layers also work well, creating a deceptively risqué look.

Are you going to try wearing more lace this season? If it appeals to you as much as it does to me, here are some other stylish options to consider. Enjoy!

Byham tank (ModCloth), $32.99 US

Victorian lace back cardigan (, $34.99 US

From Solo Lisa's Kitchen: Lemon Ginger Bundt Cake

I'm still cooking every week, but lately I've fallen into the rut of making the same thing over and over because I haven't had the inclination or time to seek out new recipes to try. Two weekends ago, I tried something new and made a lemon ginger bundt cake according to a recipe from a back issue of Everyday Food magazine. The cake met with positive reviews from my family and coworkers, enough so that I felt confident making it a second time as my contribution to a casual dinner get-together. Its buttery, dense texture goes well with tea or coffee, perhaps as part of brunch or an afternoon snack, but I don't think I'd make it for an after-dinner dessert again--too filling and heavy after a big meal.

Here's the recipe if you want to try it out for yourself. Good luck!

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest and 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
  • 1/3 cup minced crystallized ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • confectioner's sugar, for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a standard 12-cup bundt pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, lemon zest, ginger, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and granulated sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; mix in lemon juice.
  3. With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture in three parts and sour cream in two, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until incorporated (do not overmix). Spoon batter into prepared pan, and smooth top with a rubber spatula. Firmly tap pan on a work surface to level batter.
  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. [My oven runs a bit cooler than most, so I left my cake in an extra 10+ minutes.] If cake browns too quickly, tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let cake cool in pan 30 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. (To store, wrap cake in plastic, and keep at room temperature, up to 3 days.) Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.

Wink Beauty Lounge Presents Mad Hatter BBQ

Happy weekend to all my readers and happy two-year anniversary to Wink Beauty Lounge in particular! If you're in Vancouver and you have nothing to do on Saturday, visit Wink for live entertainment, door prizes, swag, and gifts with purchases. This year they're also combining the shopping event with a charity BBQ; proceeds benefit the Street Beat Sandwich Ministries, which hands out thousands of sandwiches to the homeless twice a month.

Where: Wink Beauty Lounge (67 E Cordova)
When: Saturday June 5th, 3-7pm
Dress code: Wear your best garden party gear and your favourite hat
Cost: Free admission; Build-a-Burger station is by donation

RSVP by emailing

Product Review: Skoah Hydradew Mask

Last month I made an appointment with Skoah for my first facial ever and, on the recommendation of one of their skincare experts, purchased the Hydradew Mask ($40 Cdn). I'd been having problems with dry skin lately, and the Hydradew Mask promised to be an ultra-potent moisturizer. Its formula contains sea kelp algae and comfrey root extracts to replenish moisture and soothe skin without the use of oil or irritants. Use it 1-2 times a week, and the result is a taut hydrated complexion.

Although the price is steep, the product is worth it based on my experiences so far. The mask is a gel-based formulation that felt cool and refreshing when I applied it, tingly to the touch but never irritating. The instructions said to apply it and leave it on for 15-20 minutes, then wash off what wasn't absorbed into the skin. However, I found that when applied as a thin layer all over the face, it absorbed completely and acted as an ultra-potent moisturizer. The effects lasted for days afterward. Given how long-lasting the results are and how little of the mask is required to achieve them, the seemingly small container can actually last months!

To my Vancouver readers, have any of you tried Skoah's facials or products? What do you think of them?

Obsessed With...Vintage Vera Neumann Scarves

Remember the vintage scarves from this post? Well, I wore the blue-and-white polka dot scarf while shopping in Yaletown one day. In one store, a woman walked up to me. Her eyes were transfixed on my scarf as she asked me in a strange voice, "Did you buy that scarf in Japan?"

"No, I bought it from a vintage seller at a craft fair," I replied.

It turned out that this woman had an identical scarf which came from "a family friend" who printed the scarves in Japan. She asked if there was a signature on it anywhere and I said, "No...I don't think so." Curse my ignorance! If I had looked closer, I would've noticed the little scrawl in the corner. Fast forward a couple months, and while browsing for vintage scarves on Etsy, I came across many beautifully patterned numbers with the same signature. I realized after some further research that what I had was a bona fide vintage Vera Neumann scarf.

Vera was an artist turned fashion designer who began making scarves and patterned fabrics with her husband, a textile manufacturer, during WWII. What began as a cottage industry (they had a silkscreen custom-built to fit their dining table) transformed into a huge brand and company with a history spanning the latter half of the 20th century. Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe wore Vera scarves. How can you tell if a vintage scarf is a Vera? They're recognizable for their artistic and unique designs as well as the "Vera" signature in the corner. On some of her earlier designs, there's also a ladybug adjacent to the signature. (And yes, the designs were screened and manufactured in Japan for much of the company's history.)

You can read more about Vera's life and company on Wikipedia. I'm more interested in ogling her scarves. Good news for aspiring collectors: Many Vera scarves are affordable ($5-50 from what I've seen) and available on Etsy. I'm trying really hard to refrain from going nuts and buying all of them, particularly the ones with geometric designs.

Are you familiar with Vera Neumann scarves? Would you consider buying or wearing them?
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