Thursday, December 1, 2011


Round-up of Gift Ideas---including recession busting selections.

words/images J. Ecochard

Cobra Team Jacket $420-hand dyed, hand distressed, limited edition-100

words/images Judith Ecochard

The Portland based, hip apparel company WICKED QUICK ( -  pays stylish homage to modern America's love of motor sports' racing---


shoulder/elbow detail

Any guy-even those without a driver's license- would add some Steve McQueen edge with the handsome collegiate style or leather motor jackets, comfy faded button downs, or cotton tees from the new Carroll Shelby Modern Vintage collection.

Exclusive to Kitson's---these Made in the USA separates---boost the hand staining, trunk wrinkling, sun fading finishes of authentic racing wear attire circa the 1960's ----

well someone who is cool and hangs out in a garage like the talented dudes on Pimp My Ride- who we worship and
Labels-look like they've been hangin' around in a garage for 50 years

$48 cotton slub jersey

 wish would trick out our functional but drab Subaru.

Grease Monkey jacket-hand stained, sanded, bleached $299
 PRICED: $48-$420

Humans with a flair for fashion-or the people in their lives wishing they had that trait---should check out the modern French label Surface To Air-that is getting to be very popular on both sides of the Pond.

At a recent showroom visit we thought the leather jackets-including the collab with Kid Cudi-and foot wear, well done----

Surface to Air

Leather slip-on-with nice braid edge

Every guy needs sun and weather protection from the top down-

Outdoor adventurers have relied on durable Tilley hats for years---and now this company offers men handsome fedora and stylish hat options that go anywhere a man might---with varied brim widths and fabrics available---all top quality and guaranteed to tough it out.

"Not your parents Dearfoams..." so we were told---and since this line of cushiony slippers/casual wear was totally new to us, we concurred. And were impressed with these house warming ped coverings-with the same foot conforming HD Memory Foam midsoles-paired with DriComfort™ moisture wicking and D-Flex by Dearfoams outsoles that flex with every step-all in casual loafer style uppers.


RED WING has a work boot tradition but we've been seeing this "purpose built" Red Wing Heritage footwear collection on 'white-collar' urban guys who sit at a desk all day- to earn the big bucks.

Classic dress/work boots, chukkas and oxfords are available- with rugged performance and handsome styling -made of the high quality Red Wing Featherstone or Copper Rough & Tough Leathers---all= top notch welts construction, contrast triple stitching ---- nice.

Two guys wanting better looking performance wear started AETHER APPAREL---and we agree with the MO of urban sleek techy tops/jackets that we previewed recently-with moisture wicking, weather resistant, durable construction.

crew neck -nice jersey lining

Weather proof Schoeller® fabrics...

Polo done well-of comfy 100% Supima Cotton Slub-slightly tapered-wear out or tucked in.

quick drying board shorts-inside key pocket-drawcord waist

drainage holes in pocket

Aether Apparel---makes women's adventure separates too----including these tops which we thought would wears well anywhere...

well done-hems, super soft Supima Cotton

HOWLER BROTHERS-is a new line of tech tough, performance wear that meshes good looks with the water way of life lived by fishermen/surfer dudes-AND that was one of our favs at the recent OR. (Review)

Our one complaint was the lack of women's tops that were equal to the men's=particularly the Magic Mesh polo---
pic from Howler ros website-in marine blue and 

Problem now solved with the moisture wicking, quick drying, sun blocking (UVF 45+) L/S Loggerhead shirt for gals---with the great features like thumb holes, right back pocket with eye catching zip---and lined with sunglass cleaning microfiber, Howling Monkey logo on the front that we think is cool, flat seamed, and very nice-a ribbon trimmed inner seam at the side hems for a pop of color AND a feminine fit-plus two inch zip collar. Laid back-sure---but well thought out designs---expect to see these tops on those in the know $65.

Durable Tilley hats-featured above-also  come in feminine wide brim options made of mold resisting, saltwater durable natural hemp and raffia...trimmed with ribbons -add style to sun protection and a "tough as nails" wear in a soft profile.

ETSY ALERT: This website offers talented designers/crafty types a venue to sell their home made wears. One of our favs... is vintage clothing destination VINTAGE SHAUN-with a nice section of men's Hawaiian shirts---and---  ASTRIDLAND-all made in NYC by stylist par excellence-Astrid Brucker---who we met serendipitously at a media preview elsewhere.

Grown-up versatile separates of mad from great fabrics---flatter all different body types...and really work as year round wardrobe additions.

Helping a full sized client on with the flattering grey Pollyanna Wrap Vest $128

Los Angeles is responsible for a lot of trends in this country---and the "Sheepskin Chic" boots-by way of Aussie surfers--- to be worn with everything...def came out of a west coast celebs' wardrobes---AND THEN just took off.

California's KOOLABURRA---offers plenty for gals rockin' the look...and some rather decent looking heel/wedge selections to entice those that think the flat boots are ---well, not for them.

Best selling-Haley $300

Haley Ankle $230

Sonora $230

Moccasin style-note the thick sheepskin lining-comfy and warm

Pilar #320, Elena $300, Veleta $290 (L-R)

TUMI makes a host of terrific, premium travel luggage, everyday haulers and business carry-alls par excellence ---and even with that guarantee-we would think twice about checking  as airline baggage on commercial flights---because they might just get "lost"---ahem.

Anyone who saw the Anna Sui S/S 2012 runway show---or knows anything about this glam fashion designer-knows her iconic gothic art nouveau butterfly and the colors-purple and black-are emblematic of the rock n' roll chick meshed with feminine girly ethos of the label.

How stylish then---the collab between these two....with the limited edition available at Tumi stores, select Nordstrom's, Isetan/Japan and Anna Sui stores.

Tumi Vapor™ International Carry-On case, Laptop case, Just In Case™ Tote and Shoe Bags.

Laptop case---protects though debatable what's worth more-this lovely case-or your laptop!

Tumi Ballistic tough---too!  $545

Armfuls of sparkling bangles-exotically embroidered slip-ons/slides...YES, we love. SAACHI STYLE -a fav of Oprah's Magazine too. From $20-$75 for bangles---pile on!!!!

Tough ti pick one-wear a bunch

There are plenty of flash sale sites---we favor Beyond The Rack for its variety of labels---fashion, housewares, footwear-for men, women and kids...with clearance sales of the flash sales too. Easy to navigate too.

Out of all the holiday gifts that we graced our gal pals with-yeah, we have great taste-of course- but even we were surprised by the absolutely gleeful reactions they had with the Body Shop body scrubs.

At awesome price points-for any budget, Body Shop-had a lot of want it options-judging by our recent visit to a nearby boutique-many great gifts ready to go-for everyone in the family.

Case in point-the handy make-up packs-including  instructions in the Smoky Eyes eye shadow palettes-available in gold/brown and grey/silver tones.

The SPARKLER in pink or golden glitter $24!- Glitter---one spray leaves a sparkle-fun packaging too

Holiday scents-we love this (and Vanilla Spice too) and use with the similarly scented bath gel after a swim-gets the chlorine order out!

Lots of stocking stuffers and gifts-under-$20 too!

Body Shop's Chase Aston shows how easy it is o layer shadows for day to night smoky eyes...darken the shadows via mix and matching and layering.

Great tip-take the eye pencil, dab in the powder for added sparkling effect on the liner, precisely.

Scents can be a tough buy for someone-but less of a risk if you know a person's fashion tastes.

John Varvatos attires the modern guy-  with a classic take on clothes for hipsters- And so his new STAR U.S.A. cologne-which we wear too-has just the right amount of crisp bold and modern aromas...with a fresh spicy citrus scent fused with woody green notes. Nice.

A stylish, cocktail swirling flirty fan of Kate Spade joie de vivre-and her handbags---would probably appreciate the TWIRL by Kate Spade eau de parfum- Roller Ball ($18)-easily stashed in one of the label's clutches. Fun, fruity floral-the rose-y aroma is perfect for a festive night out on the holiday party circuit.
image courtesy of Kate Spade

Self-giving is behind a lot of the shopping holiday frenzy---but along with that- is buying a gift where  100% of donations go to helping a worthy organization. H.E.L.P.---short for Hope, Education, Love, and Protection---has a What Loves Means Collection by Katie Cassidy---where profits go straight to several worthy Malawi programs that all benefit educational efforts in that African country.

Two new to us boutiques-offer many accessories, handbags, jewelry, home decor- that capture the exotic Asian destinations that we unfortunately won't be getting to for this New Years Eve's celebrations.

Bali made-Agabhumi has a wide selection of beach chic adornments for the island girl at heart...including terrific soft leather sandals named after rock icons (love the "Cher" gladiator on a wedge)...infinity scarves, embellished clutches....

tied dyed infinity scarves can be worn this way and that

grab a clutch-

turquoise stones 

Infinity scarf to layer over a tee-

SMART-Chris Burch has deep knowledge of how to do things right-as the "venture capital brains" behind the launch of ex-wife Tory Burch's fashion line, now empire--back in the day.

Stepping out with his own retail dynasty-we caught a few wares-now for sale at his new C. Wonder Spring Street/SOHO boutique- at a media preview back in October. (E-Commerce soon, we suspect).

Lifestyle home decor wares and items for the ladies- priced well and with many items customizable on the spot at the store-these made in China items are of very high quality...

ikat pattern dishes-our top pick

We have a feeling-this motorcycle ----is a fav of many who saw it----
C Wonder's answer to Harley Hogs

MARLIES DEKKERS hails from Europe-the Netherlands-where gals spend more on lingerie as a percentage of their wardrobe- than their brethren across the Pond.

Worth it---we saw a select selection -the Fall 2011 assortment inspired by Italian romantic jaunts- during NYFW---and marveled at the feminine designs, great materials and highly intricate constructions-with strappy trims that should be seen not buried under a blouse---

The "Undressed" collection ...mostly priced under $100-are less ornate but just as wonder celebrities like Lady Gaga and Rhianna have been wearing these separates as outerwear while performing.

Who new that a budget  minded prices-lingerie could be so sensuously girly?

BLUSH Lingerie=  sophisticated flirty intimates and sleepwear- at approachable price points.

Impressive---the lacy details, vintage and modern styles, and quality fabrics-like satiny silks and cotton blends---the Montreal based, Blush rivals the quality of higher priced Euro brands

Stocking stuffers can include the whimsical and the practical....

OUR IDEA OF A GREAT GIFT-a basket stuffed with travel size beauty products geared towards far-flung destinations---and the plane tickets too ha ha.

Unusual but appreciated----a beauty item in a matter of speaking---a cleverly designed- once boring but necessary-- toothbrush. These will pass through TSA security-no problem too.

RADIUS TOOTHBRUSHES-no surprised, designed by architects.
kids and toddlers versions with soft nylon bristles

With ergonomic handles and 3x more- the number of bristles, and flexible low pressure handles to give gums a break-  -Radius toothbrushes are a fun way to deal with a daily chore. Replaceable heads too -very eco!

Violight's Slim Sonic toothbrushes-are very portable easily slipping into any purse for clean teeth whenever, wherever.

At $14.99-and available in bright colors-Slim Sonic toothbrushes run on 1 AAA battery and manage to clean teeth with 22,000 brush strokes per minute!
ALSO-Violight makes bathroom ready Za Za Zapis toothbrush sanitizers in cute animal shapes---that zap away germs that can live on a bristles.

With all the sugary or artificially sweetened -so called "natural" food out there---we would welcome a good tasting, truly organic-no GMO eats. Recently, we learned about  Maine based GrandyOats Organic Granola--available in four absolutely delish types of granola to crunch on-anytime of the day.

Made from certified organic ingredients-unlike some of those other popular granola cereals out there with bigger marketing campaigns-(which surprise to us-are now owned by the giant food companies)...

GrandyOats is full of healthy, easily pronounced ingredients like sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds, goji berries (new!), hazelnuts, cranberries etc-sweetened with maple syrup, orange juice, and agave nectar.
Recyclable packaging too-we actually took a container on a hike with us...and devoured the whole thing at the summit with our BF----perfect for a tasty treat without the sugar headache.

Note-GrandyOats also makes Organic Trail Mixes...

Available nationwide including Whole Foods:

Another gift idea-actually-a great bridal shower item----is a ZeroWater filter/dispenser/ pitcher---

Even those living in decent water tasting locales---or those already Brita-ed/Pur-ed out---would appreciate this easy to use,  super duper filtered 5 stage system---as not only does ZeroWater get rid of any chlorine and teeny tiny dissolved particles "TDS" (we tested our water- with a TDS Meter---outta the tap---and came out with a.46 reading---ideal is 00)...

Amazingly-the ZeroWater filters out all that other stuff too-like cadmium, chromium, and lead-all of which we should def not be drinking in---but might be---as the plumbing in our building probably dates from pre WWII.

Our dispenser---a huge 23 cup one-was a snap to set up---just wash/dry the container/lids---open up the filter-screw in on the bottom of the lid---and fill the reservoir.
Note-it took a good ten minutes for the entire water dispenser ($39.99) to fill-as the ZeroWater filter is serious-a five step process! And taste-wise---def. refreshing and a noticeable difference.

Replaceable filters---usually after about 25 gallons worth of highly filtered water---retails four for $55.99

This Urban Premium "writing instrument"---gets the most use of practically anything we use for biz...and like spit clean, shiny leather shoes...adds polish to our everyday work day attire.

Parker gave some thought into its sleek, ergonomic design-with a metallic lacquer finish---and three types-roller, fountain and ballpoint pens---are all refillable too. $40-$65