March 15, 2018

Tweeds, Tattersalls, Feathers & Furs

Yes, I know… there are a lot of people out there who disagree with using fur in fashion, so if you’re one of them, just click away now.

I love this time of year because it’s the start of the racing season, beginning with the big one in England – the Cheltenham Racing Festival, culminating with the Gold Cup and the English Grand National. Then, here in Maryland, we swing into the steeplechase racing season with the Maryland Hunt Cup, and then towards the Triple Crown, and it ends back in England with Ascot in early summer. image

The Wednesday of the Festival is Ladies Day, and I love to scour the English newspapers to see what people are wearing to the races. Although the spectrum is broad, I tend to skew towards tweeds, tattersalls, feathers and furs. I’ve written about these styles before, here and here, so you can get a good idea of what I like.

Here are some of the top picks from this year’s Cheltenham Racing Festival.

This gal got a LOT of press! The hat was pretty amazing, and I love the obviously bespoke outfit.image

Orange was a big colour this year.image

More orangeimage

Feathers and fursimage

I love this tartan tweed cape lined with a silk scarf. I have a lot of tweed I could make into this!image

Very simple. Very elegantimage

Princess Anne in a 40-year old coat!image

It was very chilly and quite windy, but they’re dressed for it. image

The Duchess of Cornwall, aka Camillaimage

Completely classicimage

All vintage, but as elegant as ever.image

I have a hat like this that I wore to the Hunt Cup a few years ago. image

This might be a bit much for me.image

I might need to work a little harder on my hat this year!hunt cup 2016 (42)

To see more, check out my Pinterest page, What to Wear to the Races… Or Not and let us know which was your favourite outfit.

March 7, 2018


A few weeks ago, the local Junior League hosted their annual Trinkets & Treasures sale. I try and go most years because they really do have some treasures – here and here! This year’s treasure for me was a huge box of ephemera. image

If you don’t already know, here’s what ephemera is: 1: something of no lasting significance —usually used in plural. 2 ephemera plural : paper items (such as posters, broadsides, and tickets) that were originally meant to be discarded after use but have since become collectibles.

As you can see, there are a lot of botanical prints, which I adore. I scanned a lot of them into the computer and cleaned them up. I “inverted” some of the prints which made them look like old blueprints. Now I will have to think of some uses for them. Maybe teatowels, or stationery?

I “inverted” some of the prints which made them look like old blueprints. This is a fritillaria.double 8

Here are some of my favourite pieces from the collection.

Thistle flowersthistle2

More thistles7

Mountain LaurelMountail Laurel

Jack in the Pulpitjack

Poison Ivypoison ivy


Little micemice

I am still going through the box, which has several hundred pieces in it. I can’t wait to see what other treasures are there, and then decide what to do with them!

February 23, 2018

Going to Pittsburgh

I am giving a small talk in Pittsburgh in May, and will be spending a couple of days in the city. I have never been there before, but luckily, I have a tour guide coming along with me – my bestie who grew up there. However, she hasn’t lived there for a while now, and I am looking for some new and fun things to do, and places to visit. We are really only there for about 48 hours, and I have to be at the conference for some of that time, so I want to make the most of the trip.image

The conference where I am speaking is being held at the University of Pittsburgh, aka Pitt, which is an urban campus with some really gorgeous buildings, including the Heinz Memorial Chapel. image

What I’d really love to know about it some fun design/home stores, any architectural salvage places, a great restaurant for late afternoon drinks, places I shouldn’t miss, and anything else you think I’d like.image Yes, I know I could Google all of this, but if you’ve been reading Pigtown*Design for any length of time, you know better than the Google what interests me! Thanks, in advance, for your help!

February 14, 2018

Year of the Dog

Because Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar, it isn’t a fixed date. This year’s Chinese New Year begins on Friday, February 16th and lasts for about two weeks. Most cities have some sort of Chinese New Year celebration and it’s a lot of fun to participate. There are twelve zodiac cycles, each represented by an animal, and this year’s is the dog. There are also five element cycles and this year’s is Earth. The Earth Dog is persistent, meticulously attentive, with good fortune in wealth.

Since it’s the Year of the Dog, I thought I’d entertain you with some recent pictures of my sweet little Figue, who continues to delight and entertain me! She has her own Instagram account, where you can follow along with her cuteness.

It is only recently that Figue has decided she loves being under the covers. image

She usually goes in head-first and then I re-arrange her.image

Figue and her Christmas hedgehog.image

My wonderful faux fur blanket from Halcyon House was not chosen to match the dog.image

Honestly, I can’t tell you how much she loves her little critters from ZippyPaws. She has hedgehogs, cardinals, bunnies, squirrels and these pigs.image

Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin)

Gong Hey Fat Choy (Cantonese)

Congratulations & Prosperity (English)

February 2, 2018

Antiques: The Ultimate in Recycling

I am working on an article about antiques, so I have had to really think about the role they play in our world and in my life. When I moved back to the States, I thought I would only be here for a year or so, but twelve years later, clearly that didn’t happen. I needed to furnish a house from scratch, as I couldn’t imaging living in an empty house. I started haunting antique shops, junk shops, yard sales, auctions and thrift shops in the hope that I could cobble together a decent living situation. image

What I didn’t want to do is go to Ikea, Pottery Barn or somewhere similar and buy a house’s worth of furniture. I knew it would not be the best use of resources in any sense of the word. If I did move within a year, I’d have things that I could sell at a reasonable percentage of what I paid for them, and if I stayed, I’d have pretty decent things that I hadn’t paid an arm and a leg for.

Slowly, over the course of a year, I found pieces I liked, starting with an almost brand new Ethan Allan sofa that someone who lived in a smaller row-house than mine, couldn’t fit through their front door. imageThis is the sofa that I ended up making a slip-cover for… a year after I learned how to sew! That’s Connor in front.image

Then I found an old steel barrister’s book case, and decided it was the perfect place to put my sweaters. image

An old dresser from my mother’s house, and an inexpensive mirror from a yard sale were what I needed to fill a corner.image

When I think about the things in my house now, very few of the furnishings are brand new. image

I like being surrounded by the stories of the items that I collect – after all, you’re really not going to have a story to tell about going to CB2… I can’t imagine living in a brand new house, surrounded by all new furniture. Or even having a new dog! But that’s probably because of the way I was brought up, and that’s my sensibility. What’s yours?

January 22, 2018

Shanghai Tang

When I had the Financial Times delivered on Saturday mornings, one of the things I loved reading was Sir David Tang’s Agony Uncle column. It was snarky, funny, intelligent and insightful. I also knew Sir David from his late, lamented shop, an outpost of which was in New York, called Shanghai Tang. It, along with Takashmaya, were two places I always visited in NYC.image

Sadly, Sir David died at age 63 last summer, and next week, Christie’s in London is auctioning off his possessions. Although there are fewer than 300 lots, their diversity represents Sir David’s broad world view and creativity, shown in his shops and restaurants. He was a well-known collector, and this auction features everything from artworks by Tracey Emin and Noel Coward, to fine china, furniture, and gorgeous pieces from Sir David’s quirky wardrobe.

Here are a few of my favourites.

Who doesn’t want an 87 inch leather Chesterfield sofa? image

Or this George, III Mahogany Exercise Chair. Apparently the cushions are spring, so maybe you bounce?image

Cartier silver-gilt pill box with Prince of Wales Feathersimage

Nothing says Victorian excess like a silver egg timer by Garrard.image

Lots and lots of luggage in one lot. Starting bid is just $1300!image

Wonderful picture frames.image

Diagonal Cartier watch. image

Tracey Emin piece on a linen napkin. Not a big fan of hers, but I actually like this one.image

Set of 20 silvered Louis XV chairs with green velvet. LOVE these!image

Sketch of David Bowie by Adrian George for the Sunday Timesimage

Partial set of china decorated with a gilt 'LZ' monogram for Luftschiff Zeppelinimage

You can view the entire catalogue here, and there are loads of fun things on offer!