I took the bus for the first time in America yesterday! And I did it without having a seizure. Snaps. I had my mother drive me into town (our house is about 20 minutes outside the “city proper”) and drop me off near where we thought the bus stop might be. I’d printed out a map, but I have no idea where anything in Charlottesville is, or what street it’s on. I immediately asked the first person who passed by where I could catch the free trolley and started walking in the direction he’d pointed. This as my mother was pulling away, shouting from the car window, “Do you know where it is?” On a college campus. At least she didn’t yell that I’d forgotten my brown bag lunch, or it would’ve been too surreal. Although reflecting on it makes me sort of feel like Hilary Swank or something. (Google her life story if, perchance, you didn’t catch it in the September ’10 issue of InStyle).
Throughout this whole moving-in process I’ve been thinking I want all of the furniture in my apartment to be white, but was overcome today by the desire to add a dark Kelly green into the mix…although, if it’s darker than regular Kelly green, is it still Kelly green? Ponder.
Speaking of pondering, I’ve written a bit of a novella below to proverbially explore my design sensibility. I’ve really gotten into the “Oprah-fied” journey aspect of this blog, now that I’m not literally bopping around the world, so I thought I would pose the question: why? Why are you (me) doing this? Why do you like what you like, or rather, why are you inspired by what inspires you?
I moved to Charlottesville in 2002, right before I started my sophomore year of high school. I was 11 at the time. Joke! I was 15. Coming from the distinctly laid back Bay Area I was shocked by the Charlottesville landscape – both physical and social. There were farms! People wore Birkenstocks! WHERE THE HELL WAS I? (I still wonder about that sometimes) But more than anything I was introduced to real preppy. Like, “I actually own a horse farm and I go to horse races and wear salmon chinos and Vineyard Vines polos.” In California, “preppy” style was American Eagle and Abercrombie. Sure, people wore those brands here, but they mostly wore J.Crew and brands I’d never heard of – the aforementioned Vines and Lilly Pulitzer. Everyone had a North Face jacket. I’d never seen anything like it. In my World History class one kid once declared the jacket a from of mind control because of it’s ubiquity.
I was taken over by this aesthetic. I bought Birkenstocks. I bought pale pink chinos. I bought Sperry Top-Siders. Egads Batman! I told one girl in my 12th grade English class that I’d had my top-siders “for awhile” when she asked, because they were just catching on as a Trend about that time and I didn’t want her thinking I’d copped a future frat guy’s swagger. This spell has since faded (thank JESUS), but the appeal of prep hasn’t gone anywhere.
Lilly Pulitzer’s Palm Beach lifestyle influenced the bright colors and vibrant patterns of her work and while I can’t relate to that on any level, maybe her patterns and prints and pops of color resonate with my tastes because of my Spanish heritage (people often mistake me for Cuban. I also get Puerto Rican.) Or maybe I was just an Indian princess in a former life (or maybe I’m one right now.) Regardless, I love paisley and pink and orange, and ever since Band of Outsiders first reworked the top-sider I have to say it’s become inevitably covetable, even though I don’t have a boat. So this is where I’m coming from, I guess, when I show pictures of Upper East Side penthouses and Park Slope brownstones. Preppiness isn’t part of my genes; I’m not a WASP, but yes, there’s something rather appealing about the freshness and glamorousness of the preppy aesthetic. There’s a whiff of the ocean to it, and a lot of good colors and most likely a great chandelier. But please, no woven critter belts, thank you.
Above: Me on the far right, in the throes of High School prepdom. Below: My more contemporary spin on the prepster, with a more neutral color palette and a visible ’50’s influence.
P.S. Check out this post over at Eddie Ross’s blog (Eddie Ross from Top Design!) about his day in NYC. Who’s a more enigmatic YouTube presence? Don’t answer that. And also also, for those House Hunters fans out there (I’ve been in serious HGTV mode lately), Eddie went looking through some houses in upstate New York approximately forever ago and I just found it, but I love it. Number two is my fave! Whaddya know, it’s a 1920’s colonial…