Flea Market Musings

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I had a wonderful time combing through trash and treasures last weekend at a few of New York City’s flea markets. Some of the booths were selling brand new, or never been worn linens, shoes or handbags. And they were lovely. But not what I want to see when I am in a dirty parking lot with sweat dripping down my back and harboring wishes of wearing a hazmat suit in such close proximity to some questionable merchandise. I want to see stuff I can’t see in Bergdorf’s circa 2018. I want to see items that are tacky, beautiful, cast away and foreign, and also yet strangely familiar.

One gentleman’s booth housed what may be the finest collection of household sterling silver pieces this side of the pond. Gleaming fish forks, apothecary jars with highly polished lids and water pitchers with bone handles elevated that nasty booth into what I imagine could be a well turned out estate. I was enchanted. And very inspired to polish my own silver collection–very soon.

There were trays of costume jewelry that broke my heart. Just imagining the pride once felt by the women who collected them. And here they were on West 25th Street languishing with no one to adorn.

Truth be told, I saw too many items I actually own from my own grandmothers hand me downs. Too many times I thought to myself, yikes, I have those candle sticks, I have that dish, I have that fake Hermes belt buckle (yeah, yeah). And items called to me from the past. That the very son I used to feed with a Barney spoon just like the one peeking up from a cutlery pile, had met me for breakfast just hours earlier, now a completely independent adult.

That’s the kind of flea market experience I want. To be transported by the crap from other lives, including my own other lives, to feel things I may never get to feel again or make sure I spend time making sure I do.

Dad Shoes

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I love how fashion can be completely anti good looking and sell it with a straight face. These chunky and clunky sneakers are very comfortable, make easy walking, and certainly are not going to send its wearer to the podiatrist. I think they are paired best with a wide leg so they stay in some kind of proportion. They are fresh and fun and if you purchase the Zara look alikes instead of the pricier Balenciaga ones, you won’t be making an investment you will regret.

Scent of Style

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Using a big vase of fresh fragrant flowers (Lillies always, please) is my favorite way to style a room with scent. A reed diffuser, candle or room spray is an easy way to add the olfactory dimension to a room without the upkeep of changing the vase water or picking off tired leaves. I’m thinking of a masculine tobacco reed diffuser for a den, patchouli candle for the bedroom, or a fresh verbena room spray for the kitchen.

Cross Body/Belt Bag

Wearing your belt bag as a shoulder bag or cross body isn’t that new. When I travel I have an old Gucci belt bag I sling over my shoulder when I have forgotten an evening bag. But, in the fashion industry this is a huge trend of the moment. Last year, the Wall Street Journal did a mens accessories feature and the fanny pack (as it’s known by its most unattractive name) quickly went diagonal. My large chested friends say it’s not for them. Some think it’s a young person’s look. I like it, it’s practical at keeping your belongings close. Last weekend, I tried the MZ Wallace quilted bag featured above in an airport retail store. The salesperson became unglued watching me fasten it across my chest. She didn’t get the memo or the sale.

Chains and Charms

harrowstyle photograph

I am ridiculously attracted to Instagram for inspiration. One of my favorite Instagramers is @henrydominiquejewelry. Amazingly beautiful necklace styling photographs that are so well curated. Taking different types of chains and lengths add to the dimension, while charms bring an intimacy of the wearer’s story.



Nothing anchors a room like a rug and nothing adds quick character to a space the way a rug does. I am partial to vintage Persian (modern day Iran) multi colored area rugs. The saturated reds and blues feel significant but in a neutral, non-invasive way. I like them paired with either antique or modern decor. While a sisal rug is hard on your bare feet, I like way it acts as a elegant cover up of a mediocre floor or a base for other rugs to be placed atop. Animal prints are also another great neutral. If you are spending upwards of thousands of dollars on a rug, you are going to want the rug to play chameleon for long time.