Thoughts on Life

Letter of Rec #039: 19 good things

Tiny tea strainers, brocade shirts, a perfect dome ring and the best ballet flats are back!
by Leandra Medine Cohen
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ICYMI: I, of the still-imaginary Cafe Leandra, helped concept some actual food products (olives, apricots, a nut medley) that the new uptown cafe, Isle of Us made better than I could have, and we’re selling them as a picnic-in-a-box, which you can pick up in person if you live near the cafe (1481 Third Ave) or learn about/shop online here.

Good morning from Cafe Leandra. Feels like it’s been forever since we last spoke (under the surface), which is, I think, because our last Friday inbox hang was like 3 weeks ago and since then, my kids have had a two-week break from school (psychologically crushing at first, most likely bc of my own resistance, then absolute magic. There is nothing so satisfying as slowing down to match the pace of a 5-year-old’s and then emulating the thrill of a new experience with them — no matter how menial the experience. It starts as playing along but it becomes so natural).

I tried to take stock of what was different when they were off — how the seeming switch from I can’t stand this to I love this more than anything took place so quickly and in the end, I think it’s like my friend Claire says: hanging out with kids is like eating healthy. Kind of gross at first, but then it feels so good it’s addictive. The hardest part of being a parent for me has got to be the parts that require I keep them (and myself) on a clock. Getting ready/making breakfast/last min touch-ups before getting them to school is not a gentle process. Nice weather makes it more tolerable, but I’m already thinking of ways to soften the roughest edges for next winter when I know I’ll be closer to the hole.

Before their break, I also took a short trip to LA for 3 nights for my friend (and agent) Max’s wedding, which he held at a restaurant that featured a leopard print rug.

I spoke at the wedding, which was a lot of fun. I forget what happens to me when I have a microphone in my hand: a tender speech became the ultimate roast, goes back to tender and I sang a tune. It was the precise thing nobody asked for or, it turns out, wanted.

While I was in L.A., I had lunch at a great place that Lauren Sherman took me to in Silverlake called Botanica. (Consider this unofficial recommedation no.1 — I’m still dreaming about the medley of dips, pita, and vegetables I ate.)

She (Lauren) also blew my mind with some of her thoughts on the difference between NY and LA style (people in New York get dressed to go out, even if it’s just for the supermarket because this is an inherently social town to the extent that everyone walks around to get to places — not so in LA, so mostly when you see people, they’re in athleisure). I can see why and how a brand like the deceased Entireworld (the best sweatshirts ever) or the up-and-coming High Sport (the pants to end all others) can be like game-sees-game signifiers that an insider uses as their athleisure to appeal to their own. It is big Peacock energy in the most benevolent, natural and animal way. You know?

Before I jump into 3 good, California-adjacent things, you also have to know that:

1. Home of Hai’s ballet flats are back!

Get them while they’re hot because I suspect we have like, a week before they’re gone again. (I got green.)

2. On to California with the store Des Kohan. Went here because Alissa (High Sport) told me to — I think it’s the closest thing out there to a good “concept” store and made me wonder if the thing every Colette-copycat got wrong is that they either placed too much emphasis on the element of discovery (to the extent that none of the items they sold were practical enough to actually want to buy) or omitted the sheer thrill of discovering a new brand THAT YOU LIKE all together. Something about the range, display, and buy got me excited to think about what shopping can feel like IRL again. The online experience is just not the same and there aren’t enough examples of great multibrand shopping in person for the new age yet either.

3. I also drove to Ojai on Saturday to see a breathwork practitioner I am really into. Stopped in town on the way home to meet my friend (soulmate) Melissa and she took me to this tea store where I got this blend (I recommend getting the 6 oz pouch), which I have been brewing every night. 11/10 recommend if you are into notes of orange and bergamot and like chocolate — it’s like a citrusy, cinnamon hot chocolate, but as herbal tea.

That store was really something else. They make tea for your astro sign! I also got this tiny strainer thing from there for $7. Perfect if you’re too lazy to fill your own tea bags.

4. Seen and absorbed in Ojai too: Ranger Station’s room spray. The Leather and Pine scent smells a bit like if the Hotel Costes in Paris had a wellness arm.

a. And actually, on the topic of scent, I should include L’Objet’s newly launched fragrance too. I have worn the same roller stick for the last 5-or-so years. It’s very soft and feminine and these fragrances are not that but I have taken to the full bodied-ness of Bois Sauvage, which Elad (L’Objet founder) calls reminiscent of a run home after a heavy forrest rain but which I think is more daring. Like the way you imagine a room smells after euphoric, perhaps even illicit sex. Maybe I’m craving some adventure. Not sure!

5. Before I leave California, one more thing re: the friend who took me to the astrology tea place. She works with an amazing organization called A Sense of Home that sets up and furnishes apartments for youth aging out of fostercare. If you want to get involved, here is the website. I’m dropping it in because of the conceit under which it was been built — their stats indicate that helping their clients get into homes that they feel excited and proud to live in has actually encouraged them to maintain home security. (50% of those who struggle with homelessness are former foster youth.) This relates so closely to my experience of beauty and aesthetics and the kind of motivation that it can unlock in a person. It’s a tricky topic because there is such a huge conflation between beauty for the sake of the self and beauty for the sake of optics/keeping up/frank denial of the self but I think it’s worth teasing out. More on this later. Donate to A Sense of Home

6. From social media: Abitu World. A brand that reached out to me a little while ago to introduce me to what they do. There’s a bit of Cecilie Bahnsen energy about some of it, but my heart’s with this shirt

And this jacket

Per item no.2 of this list, this is a good example of delightful discovery.

7. This ring (and this one) from Phillippa Greene, a jewelry designer out of Cape Town.

8. And this very fancy ear cuff from Adina Reyter. Saw it and loved it on one Ramya Giangola.

9. A sailor t-shirt by Bevza that Cereal Aisle member Jen Baransky dropped into the recommendations room in our group chat on Geneva last week.

T-shirt With Sailor Collar
$165 USD

Someone at TRR shot it wrong but uh, here it is for $55.

10. From the same place (TCA’s Geneva group, not TRR): these Mexican candle holders, found by Elisavet Fakou.

I think they convert to like, $25 a pop in USD. Great gifts.

11. Wait, one more from the love den that is Geneva — this from Sarah Mehani. She got this fitted grey t-shirt from Flore Flore and dropped the landing page on Matches into the recommendation room. These square neck tanks are great too.

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12. This one showed up on my Discover page and then I never saw it again, but I have been trying to cut back my oat milk intake because apparently I’m drinking 24 Oz of straight-up vegetable oil every day? I can’t go back to coffee the boring way though. I saw a Reel of this person blending a banana, almond milk, and ice and then pouring it over coffee concentrate, so I tried it earlier this week and thus a new milk was born. Praise be the coffee smoothie!

13. As for the rest of what’s good on the internet: Leset’s famous tank top is now a t-shirt. (You’ll want to wear it with a-line skirts, layered under button-down shirts and with jean shorts). It comes second only to the newly discovered item #11 on this list, which, in addition to the long sleeve shirts and tanks, boasts a very good t-shirt for the same purpose.

14. Miu Miu on The Outnet is so good right now.

Printed High-rise Wide-leg Jeans
$525 USD

I would like these pants.

15. To wear with this top?

Melitta Baumeister
Flared-Hem Seersucker Shirt Jacket
$805 USD

A whole $800, but if nothing else, seems like a good brand to watch and know!

16. From Cos: if you’re in the market for walkable white heels, it seems like these could be it.

Buckled Strappy Heeled Sandals
$250 USD

17. And this bag has been on my mind.

J Bag
$415 USD

Roomy but not too roomy

Think I’m officially drinking the python kool-aid.

18. I just got these white bike shorts from Live the Process too and have been wearing them a shit load with this striped shirt from Matteau which is great this time of year because it’s kind of like a sweatshirt. For that matter, the Attersee popover (navy and black) can do the same thing.

Striped Cotton-Jersey Top
$300 USD

19. And lastly, have you heard of Desert Vintage?

1920’s chiffon dress (left), $498, Guy Laroche trousers (right), $348

This, I believe, is what shopping previously-owned luxury should feel like — and to the chagrin of one’s savings account, it is probably what it should cost, too.

Cavalli tunic (left), $498, Gianfranco Ferré blazer (right), $598

More and more lately I have been thinking that with the normalization of shopping second-hand here, full stop, the fashion industry has a real opportunity to commit to more sustainable practices — environmentally, absolutely, but financially too: by treating mint condition second-hand fashion the way you would any other objet de thrill. You should be able to make a meaningful buck by selling what is already here. Just a thought for now but for the wheels of my mind are turning.

That’s it from me for this week. I loved how Olivia closed her guest recommendation last week with a song, so in the interest of that, I’m dropping in the track I’ve had on repeat this week.

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Signing off yours,