Monday, March 28, 2011

Bite Me, Christian Louboutin

It frankly takes quite a lot to work The Toad's ire up over fashion; usually I have a decent sense of humor and just make fun of the offending piece. But what if the designer himself is the offending piece?

I'm talking about shoe designer Christian Louboutin, who makes beautiful but miserably uncomfortable shoes that women often pay upwards of a grand a pair to purchase. In a recent New Yorker magazine profile, Louboutin was quoted as saying "...I hate the idea of comfort..." . He went on from there to describe a woman who was comfortable at home in her clogs as being drunk and puffy. I'd take comfy and a bit puffy any day over hobbling around like a defenseless prey animal (exactly how I feel in his shoes, even his flats). In protest, I present the most fashion forward Jack Purcell sneakers ever, co-designed by the cooler than cool fashion house Comme des Garcons. They're Jack Purcells, so you know you can walk miles in them (and run like a gazelle, too). Plus, that crooked little heart on the side is just the perfect amount of branding; I'll take it over Louboutins blood tinged soles any day.

Find these PLAY Purcells at Nice Kicks. And give Louboutin a protest kick, too.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bug Out on Creativity

As we rocket through our busy lives, sometimes it seems like anything approaching individual creativity and focus goes right out the window. I mean, I don't know about you, but it's hard to be creative when I'm stuck in my car on the 101.

Well, The Toad says you should make some time, both for yourself and the hard working, constantly carpooling women you know. Take this Basic Bug Craft Kit by new creativity company Doodlebugheart, for instance. This one box is stuffed full of craft and art supplies for adults looking for some creative respite from the insanity. Those of you with kids might think you already have craft supplies, but you'd be wrong, because who wants to touch your kid's broken germ covered colored pencils and ravaged paints? Not you! These are pristine and all for you, including scissors, glue sticks, ink pads, stamps, and Doodlebugheart's handy ideas booklet to jump start you on a project. Order a couple of these babies, invite some friends over, open a bottle of wine and have some fun.

I know for a fact that this sort of thing works, mostly because I attended an art evening organized by Emily Cline, the actual co-owner of Doodlebug. It was a blast. Each kit is $34, and Doodlebug offers workshops and other products as well. Check out the Basic Bug Craft Kit at Doodlebugheart today.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Wearable Art History

I have never been one to gravitate toward the idea of "wearable art." It brings to mind major eccentricity featuring clashing colors and wizard hats (don't ask me why).

This, however, is more of a wearable art statement. A simple black silk square tries to sum up modern art in a series of declarations. For instance, Pollack Owns Squiggles, Malevich Owns Squares (and maybe the scarf as well), Holzer Owns Slogans... you get the drift. You might not agree with all the scarf's assertions, but it makes for an interesting conversation piece, as well as an extremely wearable accessory (black goes with everything, after all). For the art junkie in your life it's a great gift, because it's art themed without falling into that art fashion category.

Find the Art History scarf at MOCA. It's certainly one black and white opinion.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cute Tape, Cute Everything

Normally, I simply feature one product per post, but I'm breaking that informal rule today and recommending an entire site.

The site's called Cute Tape, which only partially explains what it is. Yes, indeed, there is a plethora of cute tape on the Cute Tape site, but it also offers crafty and wonderful hang tags, reinforcement donut stickers, rubber stamps and other idiosyncratic stationery items. While these items are generally used to wrap gifts (and yes, you very well may want to purchase them for your own gift wrapping enjoyment), these things are perfect gifts on their own for someone who appreciates such things. Many of us have a secret fetish for elegant or quirky paper goods, and spend much time browsing in art and paper stores.  I myself am partial to a brand of pencil called Ito-ya, which is almost impossible to find. I hold my white Ito-ya pencils with the black erasers unsharpened in their own pencil holder on my desk. They are elegant and perfect and I am loathe to ruin them by actually using them. Someday I will find a decent online source for them and I will feature them... but I digress.

Anyway, the huge set of Japanese washi tape pictured here is really only the beginning for this site. Go to Cute Tape, look around, and buy that paper freak in your life something really exciting.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Treats for the Expecting

I'm sure you're thinking I've lost my mind, suggesting candy as a gift for a pregnant woman. But hear me out on this one, because there's some anecdotal logic behind the concept.

When I was pregnant, I had an insane craving for caramel corn. An expectant friend ate homemade, caramel tinged, brown sugar ice cream throughout her pregnancy. And, just recently, the chef Alex Guernaschelli (who I love because she seems to thoroughly enjoy food to its fullest) admitted to eating caramel apples constantly while she was expecting as well. What do all these foods have in common? Caramel! I think perhaps it's the secret to contented carrying. So when I saw these Suss Sweets caramel rolls (1/4 pound each of Vanilla Caramel, Sea Salt Caramel and Pecan Caramel), I knew it was the ideal treat for the expecting. You just slice off as much buttery goodness as you desire, and then rewrap the parchment paper. There's no tell tale individual wrappers lying around as evidence, littering the floor around the couch. Plus, pregnancy means a certain level of indulgence (you're going to gain at least 20 pounds anyway, so you might as well enjoy it every once in a while).

Find these rapturous rolls at Dean and Deluca. They're an unexpected treat.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Daylight Savings is Giving You the Bird

Sigh. How did we get to Daylight Savings again? This switch is utter torture. Losing an hour of the day is just terrible, both for the schedule and the body. And just try blasting a kid out of bed an hour before normal rising.

While an in bed catapult might be appropriate, I simply couldn't find one online. What I did find was the bird. Called the Early Bird alarm clock, this innocuous white timepiece wakes one gradually with cheerful chirps and worm calling. It seems a whole lot more polite than the usual alarms. Perhaps this way, you or your loved one won't be tempted to slam the thing repeatedly against the wall before drifting back into rebellious slumber.

If giving them the bird for daylight savings doesn't work, you could try more aggressive measures. The Clocky from Momastore comes to mind. But try the friendly feathered friend approach first. Check it out at Prank Place today.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Really Bad Spring Pants

I know that I'm supposed to be recommending, not ragging all over, things. But every once in a while I run across a fashion item that's just so heinous, I must share my outrage with you.

When I first heard that trouser cut pants were coming back into vogue, I was all in favor of the trend. Trousers tend to look good on many different body types, they are forgiving, and it's possible to eat an entire meal whilst wearing them without feeling like a stuffed sausage. But then I saw these baby blues, and my faith in spring fashion evaporated. What is going on with these pants? Why are they so high waisted, yet also waiting for a flood? What's with the extra long pockets, creating the appearance of the longest hips on earth? Why do fashion designers hate women so? And these are by designer Philip Lim, so they aren't any bargain; you'll shell out about four hundred clams just to look like Ed Grimley.

These high waters from Hell must be destroyed. For an up close and even more depressing look at them, go to Shopbop.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Effortless Spring for Fashionistas

It's no secret that The Toad has a minimalist, modernist bent in design, and that goes for fashion, too. I have tried to follow trends, but minimalism in clothing and person fits me better. And, if you're a fan of this blog, you're probably on the same page.

So let me just revel in how much I love Helmut Lang. He is a truly wonderful clothing designer. Because all his offerings are no frills and modernist, he has to depend upon cut rather than artifice. The results are surprisingly forgiving, even for those of us over 40. I mean, sure, his jeans are sort of tiny and silly, requiring a pre-pubescent size 26 body to pull off, but never mind those. I'm talking about tanks like the one at right (in a very blonde palette), which skim and flatter the body without clinging to nasty bits. Or, his beautiful knits, which seem to wear like iron and look great draped over just about anything. He's also showing long skirts this Spring, with deep slits, which I love but can't wear (I live in a neighborhood that's very Orthodox, so it's not really the hip fashion statement I'd like it to be).

The prices? Ok, some are over The Toad's limit. But for the fashionista on your gift list, the extra expense might be worth the overwhelming response you'll receive. Check out some of the new items at Shopbop.