Friday, December 19, 2008

Closet Case: Blaire Walsh

Blaire emerges from her own Narnia.

I met Blaire Walsh a few years back as a fellow Art History student on the sunset soaked streets of Paris, and I new instantly that she was also a fellow fashion lover. I think the first conversation we ever had was about Longchamp bags, which she was determined to snag and take home for lower-than-American Parisian prices.

Blaire's beautiful scarf collection: (l to r) a black and white silk floral from Galleries Lafayette in Paris; vintage Puccis; a wild Hermes.

Blaire has always been my sophisticated shopper friend. She has a closet full of fancy at bargain basement prices. Her pieces are pretty, detail-oriented, and versatile with an emphasis on quality. She has impeccable taste and buys with the long-term in mind, eschewing trends for classic wears.

A sweet Marc Jacobs sweater.

Blaire's interest in art and design definitely shows in her wardrobe, as well as in her career. To put bread on the table and shoes in the closet, Blaire works at The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission where she oversees the restoration of historic landmarks in the big city. I think it sounds very dream job (even though she routinely lets me in on the behind the scenes grit work). This means that she is one hell of a block walking/shopping partner. Did you know the Baby's R Us on Union Square is housed in three original row houses from the 1800's? Neither did I until I went for a walk with Ms. Walsh.

Blaire always wins the discount margin game we play. This Marc Jacobs dress was originally over $400, Ms. Walsh scored it for about $70 at a super Saks sale.

Blaire's a smart cookie. And, those smarts carry over into her closet. She is an informed consumer. She always knows about where the good sales are, sample and otherwise. She keeps up-to-date via daily inbox drops from Racked and Daily Candy. At sales Blaire routinely scores great pieces, like a smokey sapphire Marc Jacobs party dress, for way below retail ($70-something instead of $400-something).

In warm weather Blaire prefers skirts. I love the floral one at left. The one on the right was purchased for $1.99 on the clearance rack!

Blaire was raised in Jersey and has a roster of go-to vintage and thrift shops outside of the city, mostly in Asbury Park and Red Bank. Closer to home, which is now Williamsburg, she actually makes good use of the L Train and rails it over to Manhattan to raid the racks of Leohmanns, The Gap, Banana Republic, J.Crew, and Anthropologie. Even though the stores are common, Blaire's mix of quality Jersey thrift and big names keeps her looking polished and fresh.

The girl knows how to shoe shop! At top is a great pair of tangerine, wooden-heeled pumps from J.Crew; (bottom, l to r) a coral pair of strappy Nine West heels scored at Marshall's; a wicked pair of yellow, satin spikes from Forever 21; a much-loved pair of burgundy and black heels from BCBG.

Another thing to know about Blaire is that she gives and gets great gifts (so get on her good side!). With her eye for quality and her thriftiness, Blaire always seems to find the perfect little luxury to bestow upon her nearest and dearest. Her gift giving skills do not go unrewarded. From vintage jewelry to Marc Jacobs sweaters, some of Blaire's favorite pieces have been gifts. She and her friends scoop up vintage Pucci scarves whenever they spot them to have on hand for the next gift giving occasion.

When it comes to jewelry, Blaire prefers the real deal. Top is the ivory and gold flower charm her mother gave as a gift to her wedding party; below left is a 100" string of pearls draped over a vintage Vogue cover; below right is a c.1925 silver and diamond pin purchased as a graduation gift at an estate sale.

One of Blaire's keys to sartorial success is her process of deliberation. She will take items home to decide if they make the closet cut or not. She's fastidious about holding onto receipts (I swear I've never seen such neatly kept paperwork. I think she must iron them!) and takes full advantage of return policies; if she gets something home and just isn't feeling it anymore, back to the store it goes!

Blaire's box-o-receipts. So crisp!

Blaire actually let me in on the the decision making process, trying on a few items that she had recently purchased but wasn't sure of. Once she gets the items home, she can give them an audition with what she's got and see if a pair of shoes or the right belt might save a dress from the doldrums.

Blaire adds the perfect finishing touch to an okay gray dress, cinching it with her mother's turquoise belt from the '80s, which Blaire rescued from a family garage sale.

Blaire reviews a recent Banana Republic purchase.

Blaire's closet is well thought-out and edited. She doesn't have too many items that she doesn't love. The details are important and her strong preferences keep her collection distinct. She has a system, and it works. She knows where the goods are, and what's good for her. She said many people come to her for fashion advice, and you can certainly count me among the many. I trust her to tell me the scoop and the truth. That's invaluable and makes her more than stylish, it makes her a quality find!

A few more of Blaire's hits: A Milly top; one of her super-cute dry cleaning bags; a Velvet dress.

Thanks for the tour, Blaire!


Alyse said...

This is Blaire's sister, Alyse. I love your blog Anna! Nice work!
However, I really hope Blaire returned that hideous blue top with the awful golden thingy's. I'll be most shocked if she didn't.

Blaire Walsh said...

Ha! It was a dress and it did go back. That's why it's important to keep your receipts in shoeboxes!

Walsh411 said...

Love it Anna and Blaire! Of course I'm biased as Blaire's my daughter and Anna is one of my many "other daughters"! Glad to see Blaire inherited both my good taste and sense of order. :)

Anonymous said...

I think this is adorable! Also after reading this, I should offer to give away a few special fashions I've been holding onto to Blaire and Alyse and Jessie that no longer fit. I have a couture fringed one shoulder flapper style dress that I bought in a vintage shop in Red Bank when I was thin in the 80's. Also I have a Calvin Klein navy blue silk top and skirt with the tags still on from the Calvin Klein designer outlet in Secaucus. Come visit me some weekend and I will purge my clostes of the best, that unfortunately will never fit again. All my love to everyone,

kelly BD said...

Anna, thank you for opening the doors to Blaire's closet and world of fashion. Having known Blaire all of her life, I can add that she has always preferred having fewer items to fine items. Her collection of clothes and assessories are truly valued as pieces to her personal art collection. Blaire possesses a classic style with personal touches (Her mother's daughter). I need to clean my closet now.