FASHION FRIDAY: Transatlantic Traveling

Fashion Friday #fashionfriday

Maven here, writing from chilly London where my business name sounds like a joke (“Oh, you’re the English Maven? Maven of what? We’re all English.” Insert squinty eye.)

So, after lugging a giant broken suitcase all the way to our rented apartment in posh Maida Vale, I’ve come up with a few things it would be nice to have when one is crossing the pond. This takes into account the weekend spent in Dublin, which may have been the coldest, rainiest, funnest (I know) three days ever.

Side note: Dubliners are much nicer than Londoners. Must be all that Irish whiskey.


Did I mention it's triple-distilled?
Did I mention it’s triple-distilled?

Drunkify your phone with a Jameson Irish Whiskey case from seller matamucux. Having personally toured the Old Jameson Distillery in Dublin a few days ago, I can vouch for its all-around amazingness. They also harp strangely on the fact that Jameson, unlike other whiskeys, is triple distilled. Makes it smoother. Like you, when you use this phone case in place of a pickup line.

* Will not work on T-shirt-wearing slobs.

Accessorize your hangover with sterling silver cufflinks featuring an antique map of Dublin, from seller AnneHolman. They’re expensive, but when you consider the cost of a flight to Ireland, $119 starts looking pretty good. Just watch “The Boondock Saints” and pretend Sean Patrick Flanery is your boyfriend.

Icy stare of the Brits demonstrated here.
Icy stare of the Brits demonstrated here.

Now that I’m in London, I find myself wishing for some sort of glare-deflecting shield against British condescension. Enter this veiled fascinator from seller EllenMarieDesign, which has just enough birdcage veil to say, “Fuck off, I’m fashionable.”

(Really, it’s only some English servicepeople that seem to hate Americans. But I hear they hate the French much more, so I’m taking solace in that.)

Not to scale, unless you are a proton.
Not to scale, unless you are a proton.

If you’re still interested in visiting London after the last item, congratulations: have this cuff by seller JezebelCharms. It’ll keep you from getting lost while you wander around, too scared to ask for directions. Also, it just looks good.

Real talk: London is a lot like most other big cities in terms of diversity, sights to see, and residents’ friendliness. It’s just that here, everything is about a thousand years old, and they’re still mad King George lost the war.

FASHION FRIDAY: Clubbing for Introverts

Fashion Friday #fashionfriday

If you’re like me (you’re not), you like to go out. But you also like to stay in. And above all, you like to be comfortable.

Behold: a selection of Etsyness to make all three choices possible. Pro tip: Don’t wear pajamas to a nightclub. It’s unbecoming.

Just don’t look at her shoes.

Adding to my love affair with all things jersey (except the state and all residents, accents, and weather therein), this dress from seller PRIEMLOV has the fitted (sort of) silhouette that most associate with DA CLUB, but it’s made of stretchy, comfortable jersey fabric. So you can eat as much overpriced sushi as you want before tottering in heels to the private party next door. OR, wear Oxfords and read on.

What would the Victorians say??

Oxford shoes have become a thing lately, appearing with any and all outfits, at least for those of you with elfin feet. They’re better than heels for most things you do with your feet; walking comes to mind. At a monstrously unfeminine size 8, these bedazzled kicks from seller LazyBunni are pushing it a bit, but hey–we giants have to try.

Don’t worry, no math nerds will hit on you here. Or anywhere, really.

In the darkness of the club, introverts need jewelry that stands out. Try this geometric cuff from seller PeaceLoveBeach on for size; though a bit pink for my taste, it’s made of lightweight aluminum, so your arms won’t get tired from all the fist-pumping.


If you can never relax on the dance floor because you’re worried about your purse being stolen from the booth where you left it, take a deep breath and an Atavan, and also grab yourself this clutch from seller LaMuseChic. It’s got a wrist handle, so you can fling it awkwardly about as you try to Soulja Boi or whatever the kids are doing these days.

Have fun tonight! Or stay home and read a book. Whatever you do, do you.

FASHION FRIDAY: Teatime and Feminism

Fashion Friday #fashionfriday

Friday is for fancy things. And what could be fancier than tea? (Not kidding. Look up “high tea fashion,” or just trust me when I tell you it is SRS BZNS.) So for all your tea needs (teads?), I’ve rounded up this amusing collection of tea-inspired accessories, courtesy, as always, of Etsy.

Did I know it would end up being half biting feminism, half innocuous tea items? Nope, but fair warning.

What ribcage?
What ribcage?

Back to high tea–here’s how you’re supposed to look while you’re enjoying it, according to seller okbridal. Be careful not to actually eat or drink while in this dress, as you may destroy the impression that you are a delicate ladywaif.

You're nuts if you need this.
You’re nuts if you need this.

Did you know there was such a thing as a tea wallet? This thing from seller SewitGirl is exactly what it sounds like: a wallet to hold teabags for intrepid tea-drinking travelers. Sound like something you need? Absolutely not, unless you’re a total lunatic.

So simple. So happy.
So simple. So happy.

Next up we have a wacky little “kawaii” charm, which you can put on your phone, because that thing is probably not heavy enough. Made by seller Colorful2Creative, it’s a teabag! Modeled after the kind that makes delicious hot beverages, not the kind you get arrested for.

For those times you feel like making him a sandwich.
For those times you feel like making him a sandwich.

Finally, we all know a woman’s place is in the kitchen. Cement your domain with this feminine apron from seller stitchnquilt, imaginatively photographed in the backyard, where it will never get to go (unless you’re gardening).

What’s your favorite kind of tea? Want to get together and read Gloria Steinem over an herbal blend? I’m oolong-ing to hear your thoughts.


Fashion Friday #fashionfriday

Last week marked the first instance since the dawn of time beginning of Fashion Friday that I failed to supply you, my faithful reader(s), with a careful selection of excellent Etsy accessories, and an avalanche of snark.

Mea culpa! If only there were more hours in the day. With that in mind, here are a few Etsy finds to make you think you’re a time traveler. Who? Dr. Who. Just kidding; not a fan of that show, though I am partial to this necktie.

Back to the 60s? Yes please.

Lest you can tell I searched “time warp” on Etsy to get started, here’s a handmade skirt from seller BristolinBloom. She named it after the fabric pattern, which evokes the snow crash of a TV on the fritz (hat tip to author Neal Stephenson for coining that term, along with one of the best sci-fi lit books ever).

Be cog-nizant of your style.

Next up, this deliciously steampunk necklace from seller AbsyntheDesign. Does it tell time? No, but neither do you at the moment, remember?

What time is it? Club o’clock.

In case you do need to know what time it is when you materialize in pre-industrial America (read: wilderness), this killer vintage Kronatron watch from seller helenaaleixoglamour will provide both the hour and a nifty treasure with which to barter your life. Alternatively, journey back to the 70s from whence this timepiece came, and watch the ladies flock to you.

It is “essttential” that you spell your tattoo correctly.

Finally, write yourself a Memento-style note with this temporary tattoo from seller TattooKorea. It won’t actually help you remember anything, because it’s an inspirational Antoine St-Exupery quote, but you’ll look like a literary badass, which historically has always been cool. Just kidding–I just noticed the tattoo is spelled wrong. Don’t buy it.

Got time to comment? Do it.


Fashion Friday #fashionfriday

Now Entering Rainville, Population: Blah.

I can only thrust my feet into my sole (GET IT) pair of rainboots and sling on my raincoat so many times before plunging into a deep puddle of depression. Luckily, Etsy offers a few remedies, for those of you with play money.

Elegant waif not included.

This killer raincoat by seller BridgetBergmanDesign will make you into a rain pixie, or thunder elf, or whatever else you want to call “not looking like you’re wearing a Hefty bag”. Unfortunately, this dream comes at a…precipitously high price.


Hey rain. Let's tango.
Hey rain. Let’s tango.

Anyway, if your rainy-day budget is a little lower but you still want to feel fabulous, and you happen to wear a size 8 (ladies; sorry, fabulous menfolk), check out these vintage galoshes from seller purevintageclothing. Are they rain boots? Cowboy boots? Impermeable rubber shitkickers? Yes. Yes. Yes.

Olive a little.
Olive a little.

This geometric green Totes rain scarf from seller luola channels Grace Kelly straight onto your head/neck (I’m envisioning it draped over my perfectly coiffed hair, with a pair of oversized sunglasses and some poor schmuck to carry my many, many shopping bags). It repels the rain! It is made of magic.


Last but not least, I would kill a child for this Morton Salt Girl umbrella from seller REdesignkc. Look at my face. I’m not kidding.

What are you wearing to get you through spring showers?


Fashion Friday #fashionfriday

Guten magen, all mein little lieblings! This week’s Fashion Friday is sponsored by Anxiety Attax. I capitalized that phrase because I am totally starting a band with that name. It’ll be the next big thing; you heard it here first.

No, for real–and I think I’ve said this before–sometimes clothes can make a big difference in calming you down when life pelts you with giant rock-hard lemons. Here are my Etsy picks for ultimate comfort accessories and clothes (benzodiazepines not included):

What’s up, sloth? Oh you know, JUST HANGIN OUT

Seriously slow your roll with this soft jersey scarf from seller ZenThreads, which features the godfather of all “DILLIGAF” animals: the majestic sloth. Recently, I learned that sometimes sloths mistake their own arms for branches, grab at themselves, and fall to their deaths. But they’re not stressing about it, so why should you?

Going nowhere fast

Next we have socks, from seller GraceandLaceCo. Why socks? Because you wear socks when you don’t have a single obligation. Shoes are for getting stuff done. Socks, on the other hand, are for deliberate shirking-of-duties, or celebration when aforementioned duties are completed. The higher the sock, the more you chill. Time-tested, Lianna-approved. This pair has tassels, allowing your legs to double as cat toys.

Precipitously adorable.

If you feel like your parade is constantly being rained on, try pinning on this brooch by seller MySelvagedLife. Shaped like a cloud but made of maps, it’s a little reminder that the world is bigger than your current troubles. Clearly it’s working, because these little finds are on pre-order.


Since you’re presumably still naked after my first three picks, slip on this kickass vintage wrap dress from seller MEMORAREvintage. Its gorgeous blue will lighten your mood, and the red contrast lining makes it impossible not to start constructing your superhero background story. And it’s a wrap dress, so forget about sizing anxiety. I’m actually kind of worried about listing this here because I so badly want to buy it.

I would have written a post about how I really de-stress, but the word “CHOCOLATE” isn’t really a post by itself.

So how do you relax?

FASHION FRIDAY: Ch-ch-changes

Fashion Friday Logo

Welcome to the first Fashion Friday outside of Fan Quarterly! Like a baby butterfly, I’m spreading my wings and looking for better analogies.

In case you’re new here, I’ve been writing this thing called Fashion Friday for FanQuarterly.com for just over a year now. Fan Quarterly is soon to be no more–so I’m taking matters into my own hands. And the gloves are coming off.

Today’s items are inspired by life’s changes: specifically, moving house, marriage, menopause, and…actual coin change.

It’s called a “Samoosa,” probably because it looks edible.

Because I enjoy being hyperliteral, let’s kick things off with this change pouch by seller maykobags. In case you’re blind, it’s a triangle, which certainly sets it apart from conventional rectangular bags. Don’t just limit yourself to coin change, though! Imagine all the other things you could put in this little stash cache (which also comes in orange leather and black rubber): toothpicks, breath mints, nail clippings.


Next up is this necklace by seller walkonthemoon, made from an ancient artifact of public transit: the subway token. Gather round, children, and let me tell you of a time before MetroCard. Requisite glass jewel heart drives home the fact that you are in love with being nostalgic for things you never used.

I pause, you pause, we all pause for menopause!

You probably thought I was joking when I said “menopause” up above. I wasn’t. Type “menopause” into Etsy’s search and you get all sorts of herbal teas, elixirs, a weird “menopausal” nightgown (which appears to be no different than regular nightgowns. Maybe it’s made of rage?) and this impressive necklace by seller chichigemmes. It’s made of chunks of pink opal, apparently useful in aiding menopausal symptoms. Give it a try; chances are it’s more subtle than hot flashes.

Hide your face with lace!

Finally, marriage is a big change for most people. Something about that “till death” part is intimidating; I can’t imagine why. Ease your transition into being one-half of a yawn-inducing married couple with seller FleursdeParis lacy fascinator, perfect for a classy bride. Honestly, I’d get married for this hat.

Questions? Comments? Blinded by the new format? Think I should stop writing forever? Holla: lianna@theenglishmaven.com.

Eulogy for Ilya Z.

I met Ilya Zhitomirskiy in eighth grade. He was new to Lusher School, and sat, as alphabetical order dictated, at the last chair of the last lab table in Mr. Donolo’s homeroom. He was small, thin, and enthusiastic, with perpetually clogged sinuses. He made interesting sartorial choices. He had a Russian accent, which I thought was charmingly exotic. His last name was impossible to spell.

Ilya was not very popular at Lusher. Conversations with him would often turn into wild adventures through his plans for elaborate inventions or problem-solving schemes, and not many middle-schoolers had the patience to listen. But I liked Ilya’s snark and odd humor, his sharp sly grin when Mr. Donolo called on him for an answer he didn’t have. I liked Ilya.

I was sad to hear that Ilya would not be following most of our class to Ben Franklin High School, instead moving first to Massachusetts and then to Philadelphia to attend Lower Merion High. In the two years that followed, he and I occasionally reconnected by phone: rambling late-night conversations punctuated by his thoughtful silences. Ilya would call me out of the blue, leaving me long messages with a casual invitation to call him back. It touched me that he remembered me enough to keep in contact. I’m good at remembering old friends and acquaintances, but even if I weren’t, it would have been impossible to forget Ilya.

In 2005, after Katrina, I ended up at a boarding school just outside of Philadelphia. On a rainy afternoon after class one day, I rushed to the Newtown train station and rode the SEPTA into Philly, where I met Ilya on a wet street corner. He’d grown a couple of inches, but mostly he looked the same. He was wearing a green plaid shirt and rainbow-streaked jeans with writing on the back of one thigh. We spent the afternoon walking around South Street and the surrounding neighborhoods, ducking into galleries; I probably spent a lot of it talking about the storm and how I didn’t feel like I was fitting in at my new school. When it started to rain harder, we went to the station to wait for my train back to the suburbs.

Ilya and I sat on the tiled floor of the platform, watching damp passengers hurry by. Spending the evening with him had made me want more; I sat hoping for a kiss while the red minutes changed on the station’s digital clocks. It didn’t happen, and I got on the train feeling as if I’d missed a chance at something.

In college, Ilya called me a few more times, and once or twice I called him. I didn’t know that, briefly, he also attended Tulane. We lost touch.

Last month, I searched for Ilya on Facebook and sent him a friend request, which he accepted. I looked at all of his photos–he’s smiling in almost every one–but didn’t write anything on his wall. I don’t know why I didn’t write to him immediately, to ask how he was doing, what he’d been up to. I was reminded to contact him every time I looked at my own profile, which boasted that I was “now friends” with Ilya. I just didn’t click over.

Today, I went to Ilya’s Facebook page, finally intending to get in touch. I started to type, “ilya! how are you?” and noticed that the post below what I was typing included the words “RIP Ilya.” I was too late. Ilya died nine days ago, on November 12, 2011, at the age of 22.

It’s hard for me to believe that there’s no way for me to talk to Ilya anymore, even though we hadn’t spoken in several years. I don’t understand how someone can just cease to exist–that there’s no channel through which I can reach him, that he’s just gone. It seems impossible that the cheerful, quirky boy I knew in middle school, who became a caring, passionate, brilliant mathematician and hacker, could bring his own existence to an end.

I spent this morning crying at work. But I almost feel as if my tears aren’t valid, because I didn’t know Ilya as well as I could have, as well as his friends or family or others he cared about. It’s like my grief is embarrassing, too much, like I’m not entitled to feel this sorrow. My life won’t change in any tangible way because Ilya is gone; I didn’t know he was dead and it’s already been nine days. I wanted to do something, to share my pain, but my impulse was not to, because it might be offensive to others who knew Ilya better, who are grieving in their own ways. I know that it’s all right to grieve, but I feel crushed. I’m angry at myself. If there was even the slightest chance that my getting in touch could have changed anything–but I know better than to think of that as a real possibility. What if I had reconnected with Ilya, just in time to lose him permanently? His number is in my phone, and I want to call it. My heart is breaking for those who shared their days with him, who knew the man he had grown into, who recognized his amazing potential and his generous spirit. How can it be that Ilya will never smile again?

Ilya, wherever you are now, you are loved.