March 26, 2015 Linen: An abbreviated explanation

LinenBlog_2015_2Hayden Duster $259, Linen Tunic $179, Chandra Pants $159; linen stooks bundled in the field after harvest
by style contributor, Julie

It’s no secret that linen is the one of the most expensive textiles in the world. It’s also the oldest: once reserved for only the top tier of royalty and most bougie of bougie. Its ability to absorb and wick moister faster than most any other fabric makes it a natural for hot, humid tropical climates. Which is probably why when I think linen, my mind automatically goes to beaches, bronze bodies, deck shoes, and the faint sound of calypso music drifting in the salty breeze.  I think relaxed, kicked back, and sandy toes – but never do my thoughts drift to how difficult this easy breezy fabric is to produce. Needless to say, it’s no holiday!

Linen is made from the fibers that are found in the stem of the flax plant. More often than not, it takes countless plants to make a modest amount of fabric.

The stem must be separated from all other parts of the plant in order to be made into what we know as linen. Of course, now in 2015, we have modern day technology to help with the separation process, but traditionally this was done by hand. After the stems are separated from the other bits of the plant, the fibers have to be separated from the stem. Although these fibers are very strong, this process can’t be done in haste: any broken or smashed fibers are unusable. Because of this, a chemically-produced bacteria is used to eat away at the stalks and separate the fibers. After this separation comes, you guessed it, more separation! The fibers are combed to more definitively separate the soft and usable fibers from the stiff and hard unusable fibers. Finally the fibers are ready to be spun into yarn and then woven into their final textile state.

Phew! So after that very abbreviated explanation of how linen comes to be, can you really say that you don’t have a love and new found appreciation for one of the first fabrics known to man?

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March 17, 2015 Travel KC

Crestwoodby style contributor, Julie

Despite common perceptions about the Midwest, we have culture, education and much more than farms in the center of our country. In an effort to prove the fact that we Midwesterners have long moved past Mom jeans and Christmas sweaters, we remind our coastal friends that middle America is home to several major fashion brands. There is more than enough to explore and we couldn’t think of a better location for one of our stores than Kansas City. It’s a town full of rich history and extremely diverse culture.  The opportunity to experience everything from unique shopping to historical areas, to fine dining and incredible libations, awaits to intrigue you in this not-so-little city.  If you happen to have a chance to poke your head in and visit us, might we suggest some of our very favorite places that we locals love.

Antiques: The West Bottoms is a marketplace that houses a mind-blowing amount of antique and re-purposed retail stores. The cluster of tall brick and mortar buildings and warehouses which make up the market date back to the 19th century, and was an integral part of the river trade. What makes this area so unique is that many of the merchants are only open on the first weekend of every month. The streets are lined with food trucks, and street performers, and beautiful period music fills the air.  Lover of antiques or not, it’s a pretty beautiful experience in history.

The Perks: Kansas City is a coffee town! The streets are dotted with brew shops that offer flavors to fit every taste. Our favorite happens to be a little bit artisan with a slight unintimidating hipster twist. Thou Mayest Roasters was founded by two coffee lovers, of course.  This java hub is cozily nestled in a charming 110 year-old building with a massive bar on the first floor (they also do craft cocktails) and plenty of seating on the second floor. Beans are roasted on site, and you can watch your coffee brewed and filtered by hand, no fancy machinery here! Thou Mayest cares about your coffee, offering a TRUE coffee experience that is really hard to find.

Serious and Savory: Food doesn’t get much better than it does in the Midwest. And although Kansas City finds itself with more than its fair share of James Beard-nominated and award winning chefs, one holds our hearts and tastebuds.  At the helm of the Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange is Howard Hanna. This man isn’t just a chef, or an artist, he’s pretty much a food God. Biting into anything that Hanna has seen fit to put on a plate is like bliss passing through your lips. The building, again, has an amazingly impressive past, which is not forgotten in the décor. If dinner wasn’t enough, they also boast a secret basement speakeasy, named Manifesto. But I warn you, the list is long and the space is small, so if you’re feeling slightly 1920’s, make a reservation!

Block Party: A stroll down a Parisian sidestreet isn’t really an 8-hour flight away. The historic Crestwood Shops is a highly curated line of local merchants and restaurants offering unique clothing, cuisine, wine, antiques, home décor, and even flowers. Posh and artisan, our neighboring merchants at Crestwood offer an experience that is untouched by anything else in Kansas City. From the hard-to-find wines of Underdog Wine Co. to the exquisite fine English antique furniture found at Charlecote, you’ll be shopping like the locals when you meander down 55th street.

Of course it goes without saying that one of our favorite places to spend time soaking in some culture is the Nelson-Atkins Museum. Along with our most coveted hidden gems of Kansas City, there are many more amazing events, shops, eats, and experiences that set our city apart. So next time you find yourself deep in the heart of the Midwest, venture out and take it all in, who knows, you might fall in love with us!

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February 27, 2015 The Art Behind the Yarn

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See the beauty of these hand painted yarns in the Santa Monica Cardigan and Confetti Cardigan at PeruvianConnection.com.

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February 24, 2015 Effortless Parisian Chic

paris chic
Shoreditch Cardigan $169, Lotus Scarf $69, Dobby Stripe Vest $169
by style contributor, Julie

As a former stylist, and one who entrenched herself in Paris during the formative years of a fashion career, I can tell you there’s something undeniably enchanting about a French woman. The effortless chicness that seems to be in their DNA, and their almost too-cool-to-care simplicity is something that’s almost impossible to replicate. Trust me when I say that simply standing in a queue with such simple jaw-dropping easy elegance is very intimidating, and is a great exercise in self style evaluation.

Upon closer inspection, however, that French je ne sais quoi, that makes everything they do, from waiting for the bus, to sipping coffee al fresco, ooze a feminine grace – actually does seem to have some unwritten architecture.

Establish your signature style:
There’s nothing more organic and beautiful than staying true to who you are. Find the clothes that make you comfortable in your own skin instead of dabbling in aspirational pieces that might not fit your true self.

Wear clothes that fit:
Paying attention to the size on your tag is très passé. Perfect fitting lines, no matter what the number printed on the interior, is half the battle of French dressing.

Less is more:
Less is more is precisely Parisian. Less embellishment, muted watercolors, added interest through textured fabrics, or unique understated lines. Anything that screams flash is frowned upon in French fashion.

Put on some pants:
There’s nothing wrong with elegant dresses or nicely fitting skirts, but we’ve forgotten that a pair of perfectly tailored pants can be incredibly polished and comfortable.

Perfect accents:
The quintessential Parisian piece that must be hanging in your closet is a beautiful scarf. Of course it serves as a functional barrier between you and the elements, but it’s also an “I couldn’t care less” way of saying you completely do care. No French neck leaves home without one!

Dainty decorations:
Simple elegant gold necklaces, rings, and bracelets are a must don. But take heed, there are no statement necklaces or chunky rings that pass for Parisian.

The key to effortless dressing and staying chic is to remain ever mindful. Take “dress to impress” out of your vocabulary and replace it with a mantra of effortless elegance, and you’ve channeled your inner belle femme.

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February 16, 2015 Knit Tips: Caring for Your Sweaters

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Each Peruvian Connection sweater is an investment of time, materials and a bit of love. Knowing this, we think that caring for your sweaters is just as important as seeking them out and falling for them in the first place. Once you find the sweater you’ve been seeking, keep these tips in mind to keep your knit in tip-top shape.

Removing Pills

Sweater pilling is caused by friction, which could mean something as simple as your arm repeatedly brushing against your side. To remove these inevitable pills, use a sweater shaver to safely trim them away without damaging the sweater’s main fibers.

Cleaning Correctly

Sweaters needn’t be washed after each wear, but they will likely need to be cleaned every now and then. Always follow the label’s laundering guidance, and take these tips into account:

  • Always use cool water whether hand washing or using your machine, since warm or hot water can cause wool fibers to shrink.
  • Use a mild soap like our Luxury Fibre Wash, which has a natural, non-toxic formula that maintains the garment’s natural lanolin and oils.
  • Never use chlorine bleach.
  • Don’t wring or twist your sweater—press gently instead to remove any excess water.
  • Dry flat on a towel after smoothing out any wrinkles and seams.

Storing Smartly

First, forget using hangers: sweaters shouldn’t be hung up, as their weight will tug down on the hanger and leave you with a misshapen knit. Ideally, you would store any hand-knit or hand-loomed sweater flat, but you can fold or roll your knits for nearly crease-free storage that will help retain their shape.

If you’ll be storing your alpaca or wool sweaters, be sure to do some mothproofing: most dry cleaners will offer this service, but you can ward off bugs by first cleaning your items and then storing them in clothing storage bags (rather than plastic containers, which can cause mildew) with sachets of lavender or cedar blocks included.

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