weekend links: a reflection on personal style

Hello friends!

I recently listened to Ezra Klein’s interview with Kyle Chayka (available to read or listen via this free link) and then came across this article written by him in The Guardian. It resonated with something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently:

When we first moved to Madrid eight years ago I often felt a little disappointed at the decor of the restaurants and bars in the center of the city. Many of these locations were very plain–ugly, in fact–filled with old clunky tables and chairs and without much consideration given to the decor at all. I’m very visual, and my surroundings are important to me. After living in NYC and spending time in cities like Paris, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Berlin, and Vienna, these restaurants felt so unattractive to me. I wanted more creativity and light and general stylishness!

Over the last few years I’ve started to notice more attention is being paid to decor, both in new bars and restaurants as well as older renovations. But the design of these locations is not the homogenization that’s happened in so much of the world. I was commenting to a friend the other day how much I love that these places have stayed authentic to their Spanish-ness. So while they are updating their look and paying more attention to their decor, it makes me happy that they also staying authentically Spanish.

And part of it is me, too: I’ve learned to appreciate some the older decor that has been there all along and that didn’t resonate with me at first. I think was looking for the more homogeneous decor I knew from my previous life and had come to expect from a typical elegant or chic restaurant. But during my time here I’ve grown to enjoy the difference between French and Italian and Spanish style and to not want what I might find in Venice instead of Madrid. It’s not just my surroundings that are changing; I’m changing, too.

And that’s part of what Mr. Chayka was saying, too. While we can easily be influenced by what’s around us, by what we see on Instagram and what the algorithm is feeding us, it’s important to listen to your own personality and tastes too, to find what you love, what makes you who you are.

So what’s your style? What are you wanting to sew and wear this year? I hope I can help you find it or refine it if you’re looking for it. I think it’s something we can always be developing, playing with, and I’d love to go through that process with you a bit. Shall we?




  1. Susan

    I live in Seattle. There is some very sophisticated dining here. And then there are the neighborhood and/or ethnic places which are a bit more random and cluttered. I should start taking photos. I will send them when I do.

  2. Shari

    I personally like it when a restaurant, hotel, etc has a distinct personality, even if it’s perhaps to some tastes old-fashioned and quirky. There is too much homogenization in decor now thanks in part to social media. I just stayed at a Hilton in Scottsdale, AZ. The newish decor was grey, black and white and it had no soul. Thankfully, the all white kitchens and grey interiors are becoming less ubiquitous. Designers are using more color and vintage items and layering for texture and personality. It’s so fun to go into an old English pub and feel the grooves in an old table and think about all the people who enjoyed a pint with friends at that very table which may have been made by the pub owner from old barn.

  3. Erica

    These are some thought-provoking reflections on the globalization of taste. It does seem harder these days to travel to another country and find a truly novel coffee/tea house where you feel like you are in another country. Even with fabric shopping these days, there are some distinctive fabrics that are sold all over the world in big cities, or with international shipping these days, people can acquire the same stuff. Hmmm. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Nanci Cartwright

    I have always gravitated to classic styles of dress, as casual as I could get away with when younger. Now that I’m in my 70s and have been retired for 8 years, It’s mostly knit tops or cotton shirts, camp style or basic shirt style, with jeans or linen drawstring pants. In the winter it’s thin cotton cardigans inside the house, and wool hand knit sweaters that I’ve made, for outside, paired with Talbot’s corduroy pants. In the evening, the sweatpants come out when I do chair yoga after dinner.

    I quilt too and I have a lot of Liberty of London tana lawn for English Paper Piecing. i bought two lengths of tana lawn to make blouses with and have two of your patterns I want to try with them: Geneva and Verdun. I hope to get those made this summer for sure.

    So I would say that I’m classic casual which hasn’t changed that much since my teenage years. During my 56 years of working, I’d say that dressing also got more casual, which made me happy.

  5. Nanci Cartwright

    That should have been 46 years of working, not 56.

  6. I’m sewing craft aprons from your big book of patterns for kids. And making cookies & watching the packer /49er playoff game !

    Almost always I sew your kids patterns but have bought the adult patterns for granddaughters.
    Admittedly, now that I’m retired my sewing machine is out almost all the time to sew at will.
    A lifelong wish!♥️

  7. This immediately made me think of a recent article in The Guardian about the “sameness” of cafe spaces around the world and this spread of familiarity through social media

    1. Yes, that’s the article I linked to! Fascinating, right?

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