GEAR | Pocket Knives

The Swiss may get all the credit when it comes to army pocket knives, but there are some pretty great folding knives made outside the borders of Switzerland. On Monday, while in San Francisco, I stopped in to Guideboat Co.—a really incredible store in Marin that opened seven months ago in an old lumber mill, and found myself marveling at all their pocket knives from around the globe. Some of interest include (clockwise from top left) the 2205 US Military Scout Knife ($29); the Japanese Higgonokami Knife ($45); The British Army Clasp Knife ($68); German Anchor Knife ($69).

SCENE | Hamilton Watch Company

Photos of women working at the Hamilton Watch Company in Lancaster Pennsylvania by Lewis Hine, 1936 via The U.S. National Archives.

I love how the history of American watchmaking is neatly reflected in America's history. Hamilton was founded in 1894 and marketed its pocket watches as The Watch of Railroad Accuracy; watches were once crucial to keep train travel safe. Then in 1917, Hamilton introduced its first wristwatch to appeal to men entering World War I. The photos here are tagged with Works Progress Administration, the largest agency of the New Deal (although I'm not sure the exact relationship between Hamilton and the WPA). During World War II, Hamilton stopped production of all consumer watches, shipping over one million watches overseas to troops, especially marine chronometers and deck watches for the U.S. Navy. In 1955, and this is my favorite one, Hamilton provided a "celestial time zone clock, permitting flight-type navigation" for the Astra-Gnome, a concept car predicting car travel in the year 2000. Eventually the company's title as an American powerhouse ceased as it ended all US manufacturing in 1969. The name is now owned by The Swatch Group and is manufactured in Switzerland, but it continues to draw from the original Hamilton portfolio of designs from the 1920s-1950s. While Hamilton is no longer made here, check out these photos of Shinola's manufacturers in Detroit, it seems history indeed repeats itself, even as it applies to American watchmaking.

MOMENT | Sherpa's Fund

You may have heard, especially if you are a big climber, about the massive avalanche that occurred on Mount Everest last week. Sixteen Nepalese sherpas were killed marking April 18, 2014 as the deadliest day on record for Mt. Everest. Sadly, the Sherpa community has suffered the brunt of lives lost on Everest and surrounding peaks in the Himalaya. It is a lucrative job (a Mount Everest guide typically earns about $125 per climb) that will continue as Nepali guides accept the risk to make a better income for their families, but this tragedy has illuminated how widows and families of the sherpas are left with just $400 from the government and rarely any further support. The Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation has been an established force in the Sherpa community since 2003, trying to lower the causalities by teaching technical climbing and mountain rescue skills. The foundation is currently working with Sherpa's Fund, a group of ten professional photographers who have donated their photographs, and are allocating 100% of the profits to those effected by the tragedy. You can purchase photos ($100 each) of the Everest region and simultaneously provide relief to a community in crisis. The sale ends Wednesday (4/30) at midnight, learn more and find the complete collection of photos here.

ACE | Alison Altomari

Meet Alison Altomari, one of California's youngest olive oil experts. She served as the marketing director for the California Olive Oil Council and currently works with the Los Angeles organic produce delivery service Summerland [15% off first order with the code TOMBOY15]. Last week she invited me into her Franklin Hills tree house to school me on all things olive oil. We swirled, sniffed, and took straight swigs of olive oil while she talked sources, varietals, and what it really means to be an Extra Virgin olive oil. Of course I was just as interested in her ensemble, her Cobra Rock bootsLevi's 606s, and that Gitman shirt pinned with a Kapital brooch from Japan. Yum!

But back to the oil! As an olive novice myself, I asked for Alison to compile a little guide for understanding and buying the ubiquitous kitchen staple. And good news for us, Alison and her fiance Jay Carroll are producing their own olive oil debuting this November, so stay tuned for that!

First, like wine, there are all sorts of factors the can effect the quality of the oil: weather, picking methods, storage time, the milling process, exposure to heat, air and light, the colors of the bottle, and time. And like wine, the majority of domestic olive oil comes from California.

To know you're getting a good olive oil follow these tips:

1. Olive oil doesn't get better with age, it gets worse. Look for the harvest, milling, or bottling date, an extra virgin olive oil is best used within 18 months of milling.

2. Do not buy olive oil that's in a clear glass or plastic bottle. Dark glass, tin, or ceramic protects the oil from light exposure, which effects quality and shelf life.

3. Look for the California Olive Oil Council’s seal to ensure it is certified extra virgin olive oil (for California oils). 7 in 10 imported olive oils in the U.S. that are labeled "Extra Virgin" failed international EVOO quality standards (U.S. labeling law has yet to define or enforce what the term “Extra Virgin” means.)

4. Store the oil away from light, air and heat, inside a cabinet or pantry is ideal, not the refrigerator or next to the stove.

6. Buy it fresh and use it up! The olive oil harvest in California (where the vast majority of domestic olive oil is produced) is in October and November. Buy a new harvest oil and use it within a couple months from opening the bottle.

Alison's buyer's guide

From left to right: For an all-purpose consistent oil and great kitchen staple that's affordable, opt for Corto Olive Oil Co. For a finishing oil for salads and soups and the like, Ojai Olive Oil is really nice. And for a more unique single-varietal oil, Grumpy Goats from Capay Valley will not disappoint. 

GEAR | Lotuff Leather

Lotuff seems to be peerless when it comes to 21st century American-made luxury leather bag makers. Their timeless aesthetic and dedication to quality is something we don't see too much of anymore. They've been on this blog before, but I couldn't help but post images from their spring lookbook created in collaboration with Barneys New York. All the photos were taken in Marfa, Texas (which in my opinion has some of the most incredible landscapes in the country) by Sarah Murphy and Stefaan dePont of Miles & Miles. Weekend inspiration for miles!

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NOISE | My Silver Lining by First Aid Kit

I've got a feeling First Aid Kit's new album Stay Gold (out June 10) is going to be my summer record.

BASE LAYER | Bar Soaps

By Kristi Head

There are endless options for bar soaps, from the mainstay and dermatologist-trusted Cetaphil cleansing bar to a small batch bar soap inspired by the birch and pine tar bars used in a traditional Finnish Saunas. Here are some noteworthy, useful, and just straight-up good bar soaps.

Clockwise from top left:

For the artist: The Masters Hand Soap ($3+) is a must-have near the sink if you're a painter, drawer, sculptor or use any skin-damaging mediums.

For the sensitive type: Mayron's Goods Sensitive Soap ($10) will let you wash gently with the simplicity of un-fragranced saponified oils.

For the detoxer: Hinoki Deitanseki Japanese charcoal cleansing bar ($19) is scented with Hinoki —that incredible wood old Japanese soaking tubs were built from—and it has activated charcoal that will draw out impurities like a magnet.

For the sophisticate: Rodin Olio Lusso Bath Bar ($32) is as decadent a bar soap can get as far as we're concerned. For a little hit of femme and an extra hit of fragrance this soap seduces with essential oils of Jasmine and Neroli.

For the one-soap-fits-all-my-needs type: Dr. Bronner's Lavender Castile Bar Soap ($4+) is something you probably already know about because it can be used for everything and does a great job. Useful for hair, body, clothes, and great to take camping, this is one bar we like to have on hand.

For the working stiff: Hudson Made Worker's Soap ($16) is great after a long day working with your hands, whether that's carpentry, woodworking, or paper-pushing, and it gives your hands (or feet) a heavy-duty clean with scents of tobacco, cedar and patchouli.

For the Japanophile: Chidoriya Azuki & Brown Sugar Facial Soap ($13) is attractive not just because the packaging is amazing, but the Azuki Red Bean powder has been used as a face wash in Japan for centuries. It has proved itself as a go-to way to improve skin texture.

UNIFORM | Tomboy Style x Tradlands Popover Shirts

What started with a pile of oxford cloth swatches on my desk, has become, months later, a fully-formed popover shirt. I'm not going to pretend that there's a "new twist on a old classic" here, it's just a perfectly classic shirt made from trusted classic materials. So, why remake a classic? Because frankly, it's not that easy to find a well-made button-down button-up shirt tailored for women and made from classic materials in 2014. And when I say well-made, I mean I don't want it to disintegrate after it's washed once or twice. I inquired to see if the San Francisco-based and American-made Tradlands would be interested in making the popover I craved. I've been a fan of theirs since word got out of their existance and they indeed were just as interested in the idea as I was.

And so, the rest is history! We made some popovers! Two to be exact. The Busby is a grape and white striped oxford cloth shirt named after my great grandfather of English descent. I love how this shirt is both proper and casual. The Ashburn is a solid white oxford with tortoise shell buttons which is named after the first dorm I lived in at Brooks School, it's a shirt I wish I had then because when you have limited closet space, this is a shirt that really can be worn with everything, multiple days a week even. Both are available at Tradlands for $167 each.

SCENE | The Starting Line, Milan 1952.

Photo of the Paris team (above) and the Dauphiné team (below) on the starting line for a women's scooter race in Milan, Italy, held on June 9, 1952. 

The circuit covered a distance of 260km (161 miles) and included 117 competitors from Belgium, Italy, France and Switzerland. This was its first ever women's-only event. I couldn't find if the race continued or for how long, but what a great intersection of style and sport.

GEAR | Chicory Smoking Kit

You may remember a few years ago a Q&A with Robyn Wilson of The Poor Porker. At that time, they were just starting out with a Sunday stand in Lakeland, Florida serving up begnets and chicory coffee to a line of loyal followers. Since then they've grown to include an online shop that sells their own slow-smoked small batch chicory ($8) that blends so sublimely with coffee (as well as ice cream, soups, spice rubs, etc.). I've been seeing chicory on menus in L.A. everywhere from Sqirl to Republique, it seems to be having a moment. 

I'm going to try my hand at some homemade chicory coffee this weekend with their liquid smoking kit ($45), we'll see how well I do. And! And! The Poor Porker also has an online vintage shop up that's worth a look-see (that Wrangler vest!).


BBC News reports on a 13 year old Mongolian huntress that may be the world's only female Golden Eagle apprentice. [Thanks, Iris]

Happy Easter!

Two young girls biked across the country...70 years ago! [Thanks, Cheryl]

Camera falls from airplane, lands in pig pen (sorry if I'm the last person to see this).

Nice little shout out from Nylon on the 2nd anniversary of the Tomboy Style book's pub date.

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Q&A | Krystle Kemp

Krystle Kemp is the fashion director of Need Supply Co., one of the preeminent sources for indie fashion labels with a sophisticated edit. I've long been a fan of Need Supply Co., but never thought of it as a real brick and mortar store based in Richmond. I just assumed it was part of the New York City online ether, but it's actually been a 3-D store since 1996. Need Supply Co. started by selling vintage clothing to Virginians and has grown incredibly since its days hawking old pairs of 501s. In 2008 the store went online and quickly made a global name for itself. Not only do they have customers all over the planet, but they also have a insanely beautiful biannual publication called Human Being Journal with their fourth issue forthcoming. Kemp, who is originally from Zimbabwe, has been involved with the store almost since its beginning, from working as a stylist, booking models, and editing photos, to becoming the women's buyer, to now the fashion director of both the store and magazine. Her latest look book, Elevated Basics, is pure genius.

If not in Richmond, I would live in...Cape Town, South Africa.

My dream vacation would be to...Bali to visit my friend Rika.

My current obsessions are... 

Food: Goat cheese with honey and sottocenere al tartufo (Italian cheese with truffles).

Music: Phosphorescent (Song for Zula on repeat), St. Lucia, and Jackson Browne.

Fashion: Fire Engine Red slip-on sneakers, Vans, culottes, Studio Nicholson, and all the great designers we work with based in L.A.: Jasmin Shokrian, Building Block, Shaina Mote, et al.

Retail Stores: Harvest, my neighborhood grocery store and Little Paper Planes in San Francisco.

I channel my childhood self when I’m running the New York and Richmond marathons this year.

The fictional character I most relate to is…Anne of Green Gables. 

If I had to be outdoors all day I would...go for a run in the sunshine, have a picnic with my 6-year-old daughter Zooey, or ride my bike.

My favorite quality in a man is...honesty and good manners.

My favorite quality in a woman is...confidence and worldliness.

I'm terrified of...cold water

My dream car is a...vintage Land Rover Defender. All the farmers in Kent, England drive the old Land Rovers.

My cocktail of choice is...a gin & tonic with a lemon slice.

My celebrity crush is...Phoebe Philo.

My beauty product of choice is...rosy blush from Ilia. Also into Argan Oil in any form.

My friends and I like good food, oysters, drink wine, and go for runs (not in that order, however.)

If I could go back in time for one decade it would be...Ernest Hemingway's 1930s Africa.

As a teenager I was totally into...Courtney Love, metallic lipstick, and things with dragons on them.

I tend to splurge on... food! I spend all my money on fancy cheese, truffle honey, and good wine.

My obsession with newness, learning, and what makes me have Tomboy Style.


Photo of actress Missy Farmer while shooting La Route De Salina by Philippe Le Tellier, 1969.

It's undeniable that tie dye is back, and not just in the look I'm at Coachella! way or the traditional Japanese indigo way—lately I've been seeing the classic spiral tie-dye shirts that we all remember from summer camp, especially in monotones. And why not? Tie dye is still totally fun. I love these ultra soft unisex Jungmaven shirts ($67) made from a blend of hemp and cotton, they're American-made and manufactured sustainably.

GIVEAWAY | Danner x Beckel Canvas Collaboration Boots

There are a lot of great collaborations out there, but this collab is definitely one for the books! Two of Portland's most loved heritage outdoor brands have united in the form of a boot. Beckel Canvas, known best for their signature canvas tents and bags and Danner, known best for their well-made American boots, have partnered to create a classic Danner boot made from leather and Beckel canvas. The collaboration includes three men's styles and one women's style—which just launched today. In celebration of the launch, we are giving away one pair of the women's collaboration boot ($340)!

To enter the giveaway: Leave a comment below telling us where you'd take your boots if you won. We'll announce the winner here and feature a photo of the winner's favorite spot on Instagram too! Good luck!

The winner is lea who said she'd take her boots to "Acadia National Park in Maine, her family's favorite place!" E-mail me lizziegarrett(at)gmail(dot)com and we'll get your Danner x Beckel boot out to you! Congrats!

ICON | Elsa Martinelli

There is such an enduring appeal to Italian actress Elsa Martinelli. She was at once the European girl next door and a feminine bombshell, but always seemed to be landing roles where she was riding motorcycles, driving Jeeps, or loading rifles. She led the fabulous life of an international A-lister who even married royalty, but there's a genuine down-to-earth earnestness about her style all the same.

UNIFORM | Carrie Forbes

After discovering Carrie Forbes shoes earlier today at Dream Collective I had to find out more about these shoes! They've got classic lines but are hand-woven using an indigenous Moroccan technique, so labor-intensive that it only yields one shoe per day. This is Forbes' first time she's dipping into the shoe world after enjoying success as a former handbag designer. I tried some on earlier today and even though they're made from raffia, they've been treated with oil and water, so they're soft and perfectly comfortable. Check out all four styles and colorways and find a stockist near you right here. Or if you're interested in the Suite Loafer in natural (top left), you can get them online right here at Dream Collective ($226).

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GEAR | Lite+Cycle Urban Forest Candle

The world of scented candles is flooded with toxic, over-powering, unappealing crap. It's undeniable and unfortunate. That's why Lite+Cycle candles are such a breath of fresh air, literally. The line's creator Kristi Head (who contributes to the Base Layer column on this blog often) makes candles that are 100% conceived from plants and essential oils grown without pesticides or chemicals. Kristi used to live right inside Griffith Park (if you know the area, she was just a stone's throw from The Trail's Cafe) and her newest candle, Urban Forest, is inspired by just that—the wildlife and quietude of the park, the oasis in the center of urban clamor. The blend is of American wild-grown cedar (yum!), with notes of fennel, fir, and a hint of coffee—the perfect balance between zen-appeal and metropolitan exhilaration. Grab one right here ($40 for small, $72 for large).

WORD | Seven Sisters Style

Hold all my calls. I'll be reading Seven Sisters Style: The All-American Preppy Look ($35) by Rebecca C. Tuite for the rest of the day. It hit the book stores just this morning, and I'm quite certain it will be a classic style title for years to come. The author is a Vassar grad and fashion historian and we have been corresponding for years now on the subject of tomboys, American style, preppy culture, books, and countless other items. I can't say enough great things about Ms. Tuite who came to this project in such an honest and passionate way. In fact, in June of 2011, when her book was tentatively titled Vassar Style (a title still forthcoming!), she published one her interviews on Tomboy Style, and I've been anxiously awaiting her book ever since. The final result of her research is a thorough definition and celebration of a truly iconic American style, from saddle shoes to Shetland sweaters to the inherent spirit of the Seven Sister student. Each page is a journey through time.

"...A new epitome of the American Girl emerged. She was sharp as a tack, au courant, and brimming with youthful athleticism and vigor, and no women were bringing this ideal to life more than the Seven Sisters students, who gradually discovered an emerging sartorial freedom, a passionate interest in sports, and a penchant for masculine, athletic details in their trailblazing college attire." —Rebecca C. Tuite in an excerpt from Seven Sisters Style: The All-American Preppy Look.

Trivia question: Can you name all of the Seven Sister schools? Answer listed below the last photo.

The Seven Sister Schools: Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith, Vassar, Wellesley.