The Stylist Alphabet: H is for…
H is for…
I opened a store so I could sell old haberdashery things (and other globetrotting finds & treasures), I have many a fond memory of haberdashery visits while growing up. My mother was great at sewing , so we would often be mathing thread to fabric and buying a quarter metre of material (she made beautiful quilts), plus ribbons for my pigtails.
My version of a haberdasher’s store is more nineteenth century than 1970s: all things attached to paper; sets of 10 mother of pearl buttons; glass-topped dressmaker’s pins; fabric tape measures and other needs; needles in tin casing; tailor’s chalk. All these things make up my sewing kit, and give me great pleasure whenever I mend or make something.
My thread often looks like a tangled mess ; put them in a loop on wire or string in colourways for ease & organisation. They look so pretty, keep them out as decoration. Shop my collection of twine & haberdashery here.
Years ago, I found a market outside of Paris, a jambon & brocante market to be exact. It was the best market I have ever been to, not just for the fabulous finds, but for the fact that at lunchtime the stalls closed, and shop owners pulled out their beautiful short-stemmed vintage glasses, linen napkins & silver cutlery to accompany their just as fabulous cheeses, oysters & ham (of course!). It was such a simple daily ritual that I have now incorporated it into my life, and love nothing more than sipping my Pouilly-Fuissé from one of these glasses. I have now collected them from around the world (not just France) and embrace their mix-&-match quality, and the stories & memories their purchase holds.
As computers and electronic messaging take over our lives more and more, its lovely to be reminded of the quirks and imperfections of handwritten letters and notes. This one, titled ‘How not to get that job: a success article’ is full of crisscross and editing marks, and was unearthed in a New York flea market, but you might find that your own family archives are full of written memorabilia ideal for framing or displaying. Shop my collection of stationary here.
A boyfriend and I had a secret language. When we needed to tell each other ‘I love you’, we would press our palms together. We though of getting smaller versions (of the outline of each other’s hands) on our shoulders so when we were sleeping at night, side by side, our palms would be pressed together.
I no longer have that boyfriend but am left with a fascination for hands. The protective hand of Fatima, a French door knocker of a hand clasping a ball, illustrations of sign language and shadow puppets, hands cast in metal and carved out of graphite to write with, wooden artists’ hands, the outline of a loved one’s hand on the wall in pencil, the wire outlines you push into gloves to maintain their shape, and even the simple saying of ‘fingers crossed’.
Hangers & hooks
Not just for coats & clothes. I use coat hangers to show off everything, including amulets, beautiful scarves, textiles and posters, which I hang from a picture rail or hook or bookshelf. I pick up old wooden & wire ones in markets and vintage clothing stalls. You can never have too many hooks. Although I do not have hooks on the back of all my doors, I use them much more liberally , to hang sponges and hammam towels in the bathroom, for mirrors on the stairway. Make a feature of them. I buy them on boards or as single sin salvage places. Shop my range of hooks here.
One of my favourite things. Many people would not take a second look at forgotten hardware, such as this, but for me it holds as much wonder as a treasure chest. The spectrum of colours that springs from a basic mix of ageing wood and tarnished metal is a perfect example of my foundation colours. It offers unusual alternatives for hanging or displaying things around the home: brass hooks, curtain rings, handmade wooden pegs, string and electrical cord, iron nails, brown paper tape, steel ship pulleys and shackles, and rubber bands. Shop my range of hardware here.
Wherever I travel, I buy a version of the Panama hat. It is part of my outfit and now I have many. On a trip to Ecuador, I visited the home of the Panama hat.