Monthly Archives: October 2010

Bowled over for great men’s hats

Today’s guest post comes from a dear friend of mine, Justin Benton. I met Justin right after moving to Arizona. Even though we’ve both moved on, myself back home and Justin to New York (damn Yankee) he has remained like a brother to me. Justin also has a fantastic sense of style and offered to share something all southern gentleman should know about, hats. 

In praise of the Bowler; for the gentleman who doesn’t want to look like a member of the rat pack.
Not to denigrate the fedora; in all truth its about time men started wearing grown up hats again as opposed to something sporting a team logo and more appropriate for a ten year old. The fact is, however, the fedora isn’t for everyone, me included. The first hang up is that my head/face is just too big and round for a fedora’s angles. Its ok, I’ve come to terms with it. Secondly, some items demand a certain attitude to be pulled off effectively. I look as awkward and ridiculous in a fedora as I do in deep-v tees. For some people they’re perfect, the rest of us need to find our own way.
So, for those with equally unruly heads, or a similar affinity for classic pieces, I suggest the bowler (or derby, depending on your preference), like the one I recently picked up in preparation for a cold New York winter. The bowler has been around since the 1850’s and can truly be called the great equalizer. From the haves to the have-nots, ladies to gentlemen, the bowler has long been the hat of choice. More formal than a newsboy, but less so than a top hat, it’s a real hat for a proper gent.
I get it, in a country where a shoe will sell just because an athlete is paid to wear it, the bowler needs some “street cred”, as it were, some proof that it’s cool enough for your modern style savvy gentleman. Well, for confirmation that intelligence knows a quality hat I point to Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s Belgian sleuth who wouldn’t leave home without his. Would the comic genius of Charlie Chaplin be quite the same without the tramp’s derby? For those who like their style mentors a little more roguish, there’s always John Steed of the 60’s Avengers whose bowler kept him in the good graces of a cat suit clad Emma Peel, or more recently Jude Law as a raffish Watson in Sherlock Holmes.
Just like the fedora, the Bowler isn’t for everyone. You have to have a certain attitude and confidence to pull it off, and know how to wear it (never with sneakers and always cocked), but when done right it works wonders.
Note: Try Meyer the Hatter in New Orleans to achieve this look. Having been around since 1894 they won’t lead you astray!
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Slow Southern News

Ruby in Hammond is celebrating their 7th birthday from November 4th-6th. All shoppers will enjoy cake, champagne, and birthday gifts. Roll the lucky dice for a chance to win 70% off one item. There will also be a $7.00 birthday rack and everything in store will be 7% off. For more info visit Ruby’s Facebook event page

Gae-tana on Maple St. will be selling a limited edition Not Your Daugther’s Jeans to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation. For each pair of pink stitched jeans sold they will donate $20 to the cause.

Nutri-palooza, the furry fashion event that promotes using nutria fur, an invasive species, instead of letting the pelts go to waste will be making its debut in New York City. The Ogden Museum of Southern Art will be hosting a night of music, fashion, and film to celebrate. Everything takes place on November 12that 8:00pm and more information can be obtained by contacting Cree McCree or Sue Strachan or call 504.539.9616 for tickets. Admission is $10 for member, $15 for nonmembers.

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Rich Traditions

Choctaw Silver Works is more than just an online shop that sells handcrafted jewelry. It is also a marker of pride and tradition for the Choctaw people. Having made sterling silver jewelry since 1790 R.J.  is continuing his ancestors traditions not only in the form of adornment but he also creates gourd rattles and other ceremonial items.

For those unaware please give a brief description of the Choctaw Indians and the tradition of Native American jewelry.

The Choctaw are a southeastern tribe that lived prior to European contact in Louisiana,Mississippi and Alabama.Beginning in the early 1800’s and continuing through the Civil War era ,the majority of the tribe was removed from their ancestral homeland,their houses and crops burned and forcibly relocated to Indian Territory which is now Oklahoma.Almost one third of our people died along the way or within a month of arrival from starvation and exposure.This was our holocaust.Many Choctaws,fearing extinction, hid out in the swamps and heavily wooded remote regions of Louisiana and other southern states.Their descendants comprise the various bands of Choctaw who still reside here.Our family is enrolled in the Louisiana Band of Choctaw Indians,a tribe of almost 1,000 people whom I serve as a tribal councilman.Our family speaks Choctaw,dances in pow wows and is involved in various Indian crafts.
Choctaws of long ago enjoyed wearing shell gorget pendants,strings of freshwater pearl necklaces and anklets as well as copper bracelets.Early explorers wrote in their journals that Choctaws were fastidious about their appearance.

 When did you become involved in jewelry design?

I began making jewelry when I was 17 years old.I started out making stainless steel rings and pendants.They were plain and industrial looking with no stones in them.One day I made a large cuff bracelet out of hammered pewter with a carnation design chiseled into it.This stuff was a hit with hippies living in New Orleans.

What influences your work the most?

There are several things that continue to influence me to this day.One influence stems from my time owning an ornamental iron shop in New Orleans, where I replicated old European balcony railings,columns,gates and spiral staircases.Another influence comes from viewing old Caddo,Choctaw & Chitimacha jewelry in museum collections.My strongest influence of all comes from my own dreams.I quickly sketch them upon waking up so I won’t forget them.

 Where else can people buy your work, besides Etsy?
I sell my work at Louisiana venues such as pow wows and art sales.I also will be at the oldest Indian art sale in Louisiana.It will be the first Saturday in December at the Williamson Museum in Natchitoches on the campus of NSU hosted by Dr.Hiram Gregory.I also sell at the Louisiana Folklife Festival in July at NSU.

 Define southern style.
Southern people are known for their independent spirit.We don’t like being dictated to, whether in regards to fashion,cooking or lifestyle.We tend to question authority and enjoy charting our own course.We wear what is beautiful in our own eyes and decorate our home likewise.We stand out as different to the rest of the country and are glad for it.We buy what makes us happy!

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What Not To Wear in New Orleans

Do you have a friend or coworker whose fashion sense is so bad that it is having a negative effect on her life? Now is your chance for an intervention. The popular t.v. show What Not To Wear is coming to New Orleans in two weeks and is on the hunt for four women to win a total makeover. Candidates will receive a week long stay at a 5 star NYC hotel, $5,000 in clothing, shoes and accessories and a hair and make-up transformation. 

In addition the show is looking for local businesses to feature. For example if you nominate a coworker the business could be mentioned and shown on the episode, a great opportunity for everyone!

Image via TLC

“WHAT NOT TO WEAR” provides fashion intervention to people nominated by friends/family/co-worker as someone who desperately needs a style overhaul!  Fashion experts, Stacy London and Clinton Kelly then confront the person and reveal their plan to teach them “WHAT NOT TO WEAR” sorting through the person’s current wardrobe and providing them with rules for maximizing their best assets and personal style. They are given a Visa card worth $5,000, and its time to hit the shops.  After a consultation with Stacy and Clinton on these new clothing choices, along with a dramatic hair and makeup revamp, viewers will see a complete transformation and a stunning reveal. 

To nominate someone, please submit the following info to

> AGE:
*Include your info, your name, phone number and relation to the nominee!
*Attach AT LEAST 3 pictures of her that show her bad style

Remember to keep it  a secret! Part of the fun is surprising the nominee.

To see the dramatic before and after photos visit the official Web site

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Mannequin Mondays

Yet another obsession of mine that I picked up in Arizona is vintage western wear and cowboy boots are obviously on that list. Even though I don’t wear mine often I still lust over a good pair. I’m also a big nerd and have two books on the subject. (Buying hint: Look for boots with a hand finished sole. You’ll see pegs that lie flush in the arch, a sure sign of a good boot.)

Fortunately for those of us in New Orleans we don’t have to go far to channel our inner pistol packin’ mamma.

If you are in the market for a new pair Feet First  has a great selection of boots and just how I like ’em- fancy schmancy.  

I’m a sucker for a good inlay and these red, black and white beauties are no exception!
This pair from nicole is what I call a “fashion boot” in that an actual boot maker didn’t produce it. However they are equally as fabulous and I love that chain detail.
New Orleans, LA
4119 Magazine St.
(504) 899-6800
526 Royal St.
(504) 569-0005

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Laura of Xoelle is a Pensacola resident with a love of thrift stores, whipped cream, twilight walks, and traveling. She also happens to make really great bow ties and writing journals out of all reclaimed materials. Learn about how she sources her fabric and what her upcoming projects are.

harlequin freestyle bow tie Harlequin freestyle bow tie

So why bow ties and books?

Both are sentimental and old-fashioned and slightly out-dated.
Everything I make is very sentimental and personal to me.  I am an avid journaler, often filling up a journal in a month or two.  I’m particular about the type of journal that I use- particular enough that I started making them.  I started selling them to pay for the industrial equipment I purchased and haven’t stopped because I really enjoy it.  I make bow ties because my husband is a bow tie wearer.  I had been collecting vintage neckties since high school to gift to my future husband, and then I fell in love with the guy in the bow tie.  I converted the whole collection of neckties to bow ties.

retro lattice freestyle bow tie Retro lattice bow tie

Who is your average customer? Does he live in a particular part of the country?

My average customer is a 25-30 year old man who is anything but average.  He’s witty, intelectual, goofy, geeky, centered, and unconventional.  My own bow-tie-wearing husband quilts, rides a crotch rocket, plays the piano in church every Sunday, and mountain bikes.  I send bow ties all over the world but send the most to New York City, Washington DC, and Toronto, Canada.

Complete Denture Prosthesis recycled book journal Denture Prosthesis recycled journal
How do you select your fabrics? How do your reclaimed materials withstand the tugging and tying from use?

I source my materials from charity thrift stores.  I use mostly neckties, button-down shirts, and ladies skirts.  They are rugged!  Using reclaimed materials actually assures that they’ll be of a better quality than if I was using new materials.  As a small, by hand manufacturer I can use awesome materials that are otheriwse out of my budget, and get them in small quantities.  I only choose materials that can withstand the tying and retying of the bow.

The Literature of the United States recycled book journal 
Literature of the United States recycled journal
Tell us a little about your plans for the future.

There are exciting things coming in the xoelle world.  I’m starting to work on some photo albums on the book side, and more custom options (like embroidery and scrrenprinting) on the bow tie side.  Bow ties have really been making their way back into fashion so I’m sure I’ll be busy for quite some time!

pumpkin pie freestyle bow tie Pumpkin Pie freestyle bow

Define southern style.

Southern style is layed back and comfortable.  It’s all about wide open spaces and back porches and lights strung in a line.  It’s about putting the family and food in the forefront and staying out all night long.  Love it.

Xoelle bow ties and journals can be acquired from the following stockists:


OAK Boston
Aradia’s Closet
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What I Wore- Southwest Stylings

One of the things I picked up during my time spent in the southwest was a love of Native American jewelry. I’m obsessed to the point that I’ve studied various tribe’s signature styles and can identify a good chunk of stone vs. an inferior one or (worse yet) a plastic piece.

This necklace I happened upon secondhand in New Orleans however it is difficult to find turquoise, at least the good stuff, this side of Texas. It originally hails from Santa Fe, New Mexico.

This ring is my absolute favorite piece in terms of craftsmanship. And let’s face it large rings are just plain fun. My hands look really, really old here. I guess I can kiss those aspirations of becoming a hand model goodbye.

And since I bike to work most days there are a few items that I can’t wear so I wore this out for lunch and coffee with a friend.
 I mean I could wear this biking but I don’t think anyone would appreciate that image. When it cools down a bit I’ll put charcoal grey leggings underneath it but still won’t brave two wheels in it.

  I also have to point out that Rachael of Ordinarily Urbane has the same skirt as I do. 🙂 Check out her excellent blog to see how she styled hers.

Tank: Alternative Apparel
Skirt: Forever 21
Shoes: Antonio Melani via Ebay
Necklace and Ring: Buffalo Exchange in Louisiana and Arizona, respectively
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Halloween costumes- Get ’em while you can!

October is an amazing time of year  in the Crescent City. The weather is perfect and there is lots to do. This year alone, Voodoo Music Fest, a Saints game, and Halloween all take place on the same day.  This means lots of people will be in town, both locals and tourists alike, and everyone will be shopping for the same thing: costumes. I know that Halloween is more than a week away but hear me out: 


Our Aztec warrior costumes last year were a hit. I hand sewed practically everything y’all see here from recycled fabrics.

Whether you are hitting up Frenchman St. or trick or treating with the kids, a costume is a necessity. This is one of the few times of year you can get away with dressing crazy and not getting stared at (wait…this IS New Orleans), so why not take advantage?
Personally, my year revolves around two holidays–Halloween and Mardi Gras–and as any good New Orleanian knows, having a closet of costumes at the ready is a sign of a true local. Just in town visiting? Don’t sweat it, there are plenty of options for you.  Just don’t go the easy route by getting a “costume in a bag.”  There are several stores in town that cater to creative types as well as people who need help, and lots of it.

PARTY STAR Headdress
Party Star Headdress from Carnival Couture

Buffalo Exchange– Used and new costumes.
Miss Claudia’s– Used and new costumes, specializing in vintage.
Uptown Costume– THE costume shop in town. Gets packed the closer it gets to Halloween so don’t wait!
Fifi Mahony’s– The best wig shop in the city. Shop now for the best selection.
Funky Monkey– Used and new costumes, carries wigs year ’round and has a sizable men’s section.
Ragin’ Daisy– Funky and fun vintage picks, perfect for any occasion or Halloween.
Bloomin’Deals– Thrift store with a decent selection of formal wear, perfect for craftier types that can create something out of nothing.
Le Garage– French Quarter staple with a steady supply of vintage, often has a surplus of old Mardi Gras costumes and military gear.

Destroyer Leather Mask
Destroyer leather mask from Mr. Hyde’s Leather

Still in need of some inspiration? Y’all can view all of my previous costume posts here. Might I suggest perusing Miss Malaprop and Dramatis Personae for even more glittery, sequined goodness.

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Slow Southern News

Branch Out is running a special “buy three get one free” on all sale items.

Masseys Outfitters is offering 20% off a new pair of sunglasses (coupon code KHUMBU) now until Sunday October 24th. Oakley sunglasses are excluded from this offer. 

Image via

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Mannequin Mondays- Armoire on Magazine St.

As an average sized woman living in New Orleans I find boutique shopping either exhilarating or maddening. Depending on the owner small shops often cater to a particular style or body type leaving some people empty handed. Erin Hebert, owner of Armoire, decided to open her Magazine Street shop this past August and cater to a variety of shapes and sizes. Her stock has a wide range, from size 0 to size 20, and everything in the store has an affordable price tag of $100 and under with most pieces hovering around $30-$70.

A simple silhouette and bold necklace pairing is always a chic choice.

I spy my latest obsession on the left, one shouldered dresses!

I envision this hotness giving me a Kardashian tush. Unfortunately I think my flat derrière will remain as is, cute dress or not.

4222A Magazine St.
New Orleans, LA 701115

Mon-Thurs 11-6
Fri-Sat 11-7
Sun 12-5
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