an ode to the boring summer dress

summer dressThe heat has returned to New York–the stifling, oppressive kind that makes me regret all manner of social and professional obligation. It’s the only time of the year I thank god it takes my apartment five minutes to get hot water because bless it, I just want to sluice that sweet and cold NYC tap water all over my fetid body. So hot that I say fetid and absolutely mean it.

This is the part of the season where I pull out a dress of absolutely no style and commit to wearing it, sweating in it, and otherwise making it a second summer skin, abused and unappreciated, until the temperature drops to the point where I no longer sweat through absolutely everything.

The dress is intentionally Not That Cute. If it were particularly cute, I’d be precious about it, and to be precious about a summer dress is to have a dress I’ll never wear in the summer. The moment I hesitate at the thought of my slick, sweaty body occupying a lovely garment is the moment I put on a shitty t-shirt instead. Instead, the summer dress is boring and basic and probably more than a little unflattering. I put it on as soon as I get home, stripping off my bra and any other layers that do little more than create dams of sweat. Underboob sweat is real and awful but with the Right Dress, it’s a problem quickly dispatched: just use the fabric of the dress you don’t give a fig about it to wipe away the reminder that your body and its functions are largely out of your control and we’re all just animals walking on hind legs.

Why not just wear the shitty t-shirt?, you might find yourself saying, as you sit in your own small pool of sweat, your window air conditioner sputtering out a meager breeze that could only be described as cool-ish. A dress offers the fewest points of contact, and in this world of 90 degree heat, points of contact = friction = heat and what the hell do we need that for, besides more sweating? A waistband in the summer is a personal comfort hellscape. Wear a boring dress.

Shop the dress you’ll essentially use as a sweat rag at Joe Fresh

the best ballet flat

best ballet flatsBefore leaving for France, I ordered a new pair of ballet flats, crossing my fingers they wouldn’t completely tear up my heels or leave my feet sore after an hour of walking. It was a gamble, but I was desperate to have at least one cute pair of shoes on the trip. (Yes, athleisure is a thing now, a thing to which I do not subscribe).

If you bought Cece ballet flats from J.Crew a few years ago, you’re then familiar with the holy grail of comfortable, stylish flats. But you also probably know the current incarnation of the shoes is not the same. I still have my old pair, but they’re fuchsia and suede, and I just wanted a basic black because… Paris.

So let me introduce you to Cole Haan’s Avery Flat, currently on sale. It has the Cece bendiness, but not to the point where it cuts into your feet. The footbeds are ultra padded, and the split soles have rubber “pods.” In pointe shoe speak, these are Gaynor Mindens. The cadillac of ballet flats.

I won’t make any miraculous, exaggerated claims about a pair of shoes. But you will be able to walk clear across Paris in these, and that’s pretty good.

Shop: Cole Haan Avery Flat

giverny, france

giverny
One of my favorite parts of our trip was visiting Giverny and Claude Monet’s home there. Giverny is a village in Normandy, located on the Seine, but it only takes 45 minutes via a TGV train to get there. Besides seeing Versailles, this was the day trip I was intent on doing, and I’m so glad we made it.hotel baudy

Once we got to the village, we stopped at an inn for lunch. Something I noticed right away in Paris was the pride of place: most windows in the city had flower boxes on them, or whole rose bushes growing from balconies. Trees were all extremely well-manicured, and every city park was beautiful, not just their green space crown jewel. So though we came to Giverny to see Monet’s garden, the rest of the village featured their own lush gardens, done in the English style. We ate en terrasse, enjoying the pastoral views and eating, as was usual at this point, entirely too much. monets garden

By the time we finished lunch it was closing in on 3, a time my travel book said was a good time to visit the gardens–most tour groups would be gone by then, and this was true. When I walked into the garden, I was glad I wore sunglasses despite the overcast sky, because I let slip a few tears. As beautiful as the highly-manicured French garden style is, my heart breaks a little when I see an English garden. The style tricks you into believing things could grow that way. This must be how I picture Eden; a garden touched not by gardeners, only god.monet's kitchen

This is the garden with Monet’s waterlilies. But Monet, of course, lived here as well. The rooms in the home are wonderful color studies, using traditional color pairings to amazing effect. The kitchen was probably my favorite: buttery yellow paired with a more manic citron, and the color of blue porcelain. Then there was a bedroom that used robin’s egg blue with plum and green, so unexpected and yet necessary. monet's sitting room

Then there’s this sitting room, that I have no doubt Miles Redd would do today. giverny poppies

Giverny felt like a pilgrimage, and far more vital of a day trip than Versailles. Maybe it’s because I’m so cut off from nature in New York, but this place is what my heart needed to see. Since coming back I find myself wanting a patch of dirt to call my own. I’ll work on a window box for now.

paris!

Bonjour! We’re heading to Paris soon to meet my parents for my mom’s 60th birthday. We’re spending a few days with them, then staying on for four more days to explore the city on our own.

Since this is my first time in Paris, I wanted to hear from you all on where to eat and shop. I’ve read the Gospel of Paris According to GOOP, but I want to hear from you all. What is amazing or unmissable? And please, do not spare any detail when it comes to desserts.

plans

staffordshire vaseWe’re taking a trip to Paris in a few weeks, so I’ve been preoccupied with planning that trip, rather than doing a lot of things around the house. The biggest project I’ve tackled was replacing all of the plastic blinds in the living room with matchstick shades. I painted all of the window trim before we hung the new shades, so everything looks bright and clean. The new shades make a huge difference, but I can’t wait for valances I ordered from Etsy to come–I think that extra layer will look fantastic.

We did meet up with some contractors to talk about the kitchen and bathroom, but we’re still waiting on labor quotes. Since we don’t want to move plumbing in our kitchen, it’s a much smaller job and one we can arguably do ourselves, especially with the help of my dad. But our bathroom is a sorry sight and, more importantly, would function a lot better with a different layout. I might be returning to school for a grad program next year, so we’re trying to think in terms of what level of chaos we can stand before and after that happens. Redoing our only bath means renting another apartment for a week or more; redoing our kitchen means living on delivery food. Thus we may be switching the order of these projects!

Oh and it’s totally springtime! Which no doubt means it’ll be 90 by the end of the month. New York!