Transforming a wardrobe misfit: part four

You know that piece you never, ever wear but also can never, ever get rid of no matter how much dust has settled on it? Our resident style whiz, Lisa, likes to call them wardrobe misfits. In this fourth episode of her quest to bring all those misfits center stage, the challenger—a bohemian vintage find—comes courtesy of Heather, one of our very favorite bloggers.

“Full disclosure: I’m prone to impulse buys that are pretty but often not functional. I found this cocoon top at a vintage store in Venice Beach, and it appealed to every beachy, bohemian fantasy I’ve ever had. But everything I’ve tried to wear it with feels frumpy—definitely not like the Carly Simon in Laurel Canyon vision I was hoping for. Help, please.”

“The top is certainly pretty, but it can quickly veer into costumey or hippy-dippy territory if taken at face value. Instead of enhancing the boho mood, I decided to swing the pendulum in the opposite direction by adding a serious dose of tomboy denim. Maybe this is what Joni Mitchell had in mind when she called her album Blue.”

Obviously, Lisa used Madewell items to get Heather’s wardrobe misfit in line: Denim Campsite Shirt, Skinny Skinny Jeans in Western Wash and The Peep-Toe Platform.

Carly Simon, eat your heart out.

Do you have a wardrobe misfit in your closet? Shoot us an email at and we’ll style our favorites.

The Children’s Book I’m Secretly Buying for Myself

by Heather Summerville (Brooklyn)

If I had enough wall space—and oodles of money—I would own all the beautiful illustrations in Woop Studios’ Collective Nouns in Pictures series. If the graphic design work feels somewhat familiar, it’s because the British designers behind the project spent nearly a decade on the Harry Potter franchise. This is their first collective work post Potter mania and, well, it’s pretty spectacular. Thankfully, the team has turned some of their best-selling posters into a book, A Zeal of Zebras. (I’m choosing to ignore the fact that Amazon claims it’s for children ages 4-8.) Can I fit 64 pages worth of illustrations on my wall? No. But I certainly have room on my bookshelf for this.

Paper Bagging It: A Seriously Foolproof Turkey Recipe

by Heather Summerville (Brooklyn)

Friendsgiving is a cherished tradition around my apartment. For those not familiar with the celebration, it’s the equivalent of a Thanksgiving feast spent with friends (instead of with your cranky Uncle Jack). We held our annual stuff-yourself-till-you-pass-out dinner last weekend, wherein my boyfriend and I cooked a 15-pound turkey—oh yeah, in a paper Whole Foods bag. And get this: We didn’t burn down the kitchen.

Full disclosure: I’m not much of a cook. I make a mean salad and can toast a piece of bread like nobody’s business, but let me anywhere near an open flame and bad things tend to happen. So the thought of even attempting to cook something as daunting as a turkey stressed me out for weeks beforehand—and even prompted me to buy a fire extinguisher, you know, just in case. My friend Madeleine saved the day, however, with this insanely easy, foolproof turkey recipe. She and her boyfriend came over to supervise my boyfriend and me as we prepared the bird—and truth be told, even though I really didn’t have to do too much, I could have cooked this turkey on my own—and so can you!

What you need:

4 oranges

4 lemons

3 heads of garlic

2 sticks of butter

2 cups olive oil 

Fresh thyme and rosemary


2 paper bags

What to do:

1. Slice your citrus into quarters.

2. Clean and peel your garlic.

3. Melt both sticks of butter and mix in olive oil.

4. Chop half your thyme and rosemary and add to your butter/olive oil.

5. Be sure to remove the neck and innards from your turkey.

6. Generously coat turkey skin inside and out with your butter/olive oil/herb mix.

7. Stuff the sliced citrus, garlic and remaining fresh herbs inside your turkey.

8. Double up your paper bags and place turkey inside.

9. Fold the open end of your bag under the turkey and place in a roasting pan.

10. Cook at 350°F for 15 minutes per pound.

11. Before removing your delicious turkey from the bag, check doneness by sticking a meat thermometer through the bag or opening the end and slicing into the turkey.

Plus, a bonus photo of the only one who stayed awake post-dinner, my puppy Hankerchief, in a turkey-feather necklace made by a crafty friend.

All photos by Ryan Hefner.

The House Is on Fire—What Do You Take With You?

by Heather Summerville (Brooklyn)

Delaware artist Laura Pritchett would grab paintbrushes, rain boots, an ax and an iPhone, among other things.

We’ve all pondered this conundrum at one point or another. And if you’re me, your mother would pose this question to you when she thought you cared too much about some material thing—like, say, a favorite sweater that was stolen and demolished by your younger sister. (It went something like, “Why are you so upset? Is that the sweater you want to be wearing if the house were on fire, Heather?”)

If emergency called, L.A.–based wedding photographer Leila Peterson would save these pretty things. (Spot our Perfect Chambray Ex-Boyfriend Shirt?)

Well, New York–based photographer Foster Huntington asks this very same question but with a much different aim. Beautiful in both concept and execution, his new Web-based photo project, The Burning House, features a daily photographic checklist of must-save items as documented by individuals from around the globe—from L.A. to the Sudan. In Huntington’s own words, “It’s a conflict between what’s practical, valuable and sentimental.” And though most of the submissions take a heaping truckload of artistic license (I somehow doubt I’d rescue a replaceable fountain pen, as one woman put on her list), The Burning House is a fascinating look at different people and cultures—and what they hold dear. 

If her house were on fire, Jakarta photographer Yongki Hermawan would pack these things and zip away.

A Peek Inside The Exotic World of Artist Lindsey Carr

by Heather Summerville (Brooklyn)

One of my favorites: Simius Religiosus by Lindsey Carr

A few years back, I had an obsession with foxes. The sly little creature’s likeness started to take over my apartment (and even some of my wardrobe) until I eventually had to put the kibosh on any more fox-related buys—though I made an exception for this Hunt & Gather Storyteller Scarf. It was during this seek-and-purchase phase that I first came across (and instantly fell in love with) Scottish artist Lindsey Carr’s dreamy paintings. (You might have seen her piece The Fox Confessor, which has started popping up all over the place in the last year.) Carr recently finished a new series of works that are simply breathtaking. The series includes fewer fox sightings but a whole slew of exotic monkeys—which, thanks to Carr, might be my new favorite animal.

Find out more about Carr on her site or purchase prints of her work here and here.

The Spa That Time Forgot: Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs

by Cristina Mueller (S.F.) & Heather Summerville (Brooklyn)

Blast from the past: Palm trees and ’50s fonts greet you at the entrance of Dr. Wilkinson’s resort.

Way back when, we were roommates, fresh out of college, living in a closet-size apartment in New York. (Let’s just say you get to be pretty close friends after three years of splitting 500 square feet between you.) Now that the majority of the continental U.S. separates us, we’ve instituted a “friendcation” clause in our relationship, which dictates a mandatory trip together at least once a year. So this past weekend, the two of us met in Napa Valley, California to visit the charmingly retro Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs in the tiny town of Calistoga. The motel and spa—opened in 1952 by this venerable doctor—is renowned for its mineral-rich, skin- and health-restoring mud baths. So we figured, when in Calistoga…

do as the Calistogans do. The treatment, as you can see, was very lo-fi: You slide yourself into a giant tub of what appears to be slightly wet mulch (which smells earthy, to put it nicely) and the aesthetician proceeds to bury you up to your neck. (Claustrophobics and quicksand paranoiacs, beware.) Then she applies a quick clay mask and places chilled cucumber slices over your eyes (wise move: I don’t think it does much to look at the mud while you’re in it), and 10 minutes later, she returns to dig you out and dunk you in your own personal mineral water bath.

With the treatment, you get access to all the facilities: steam room, two pools and—maybe our favorite part of the experience—a Paul Bunyan-size hot tub (above), which will fit you and 37 of your closest friends.

Afterward, we took our newly mineralized selves to the neighboring town of St. Helena, where we proceeded to drink a bit more Hogwash than we intended and ate french fries and aioli under a fruit-laden fig tree. Life’s not half bad.

The doctor is in: mud baths, steam baths, mineral baths and more.

As They Say In The Boy Scouts: Be Prepared

by Heather Summerville (Brooklyn)

So this summer, something happened in New York that hasn’t happened before in the decade that I’ve lived here: We had an earthquake. Somewhere between the panicked moments of figuring out it was, in fact, an earthquake and trying to remember what to do—Get in a doorway? Crawl under the table? Stop, drop and roll?—I realized just how ill-prepared I was for any sort of disaster. There wasn’t a spare battery, flashlight, Band-Aid or antiseptic spray to be found on the premises. (I know, Dad. I’m sorry.) 

So the very next day, I ordered this first aid kit (above), which, in the world of first aid kits, is by far the coolest, most no-nonsense option you’ll find. Plus, it doubles as a piece of functional art when hung on the wall. It was created by the folks of Best Made, whose entire body of work mixes old-school design elements with salt of the Earth values. (You might remember their hand-painted axes people went nuts for a few years back.) Did I really need a designer first aid kit? No. But am I prepared for the next adventure Mother Nature throws my way? Yes. And that’s all that really matters (right, Dad?).

What the Heck Is Glamping?

by Heather Summerville (Brooklyn)

via Chantal Hughes

My sister and I recently had the following conversation via text message (the preferred method of communication in my family).

Sis: Hey. Have you ever been camping?
Me: Sure. Remember the cabin at Lake Burton?
Sis: No. Like, in a tent.
Me: You mean, like, no-bathrooms camping? No way. Why?
Sis: Because I’m going this weekend with my boyfriend.
Me: Is he forcing you?
Sis: No. It’s fun.
Me: It doesn’t sound fun.
Sis: Maybe you should try glamping.
Me: What the heck is glamping?

Despite its unfortunate name (a hybrid of “glamorous” and “camping”), glamping, as it turns out, is the boutique hotel version of camping in a tent. So you have the prerequisite tent and, of course, a rustic setting, but there’s also a bed, a bathroom and, in some cases, a fully functioning kitchen. (This I can do.) There are entire sites dedicated to glamping, which apparently has turned into a global trend (see for yourself here and here).

The epitome of glamping: La Pomme Perdue, near Biarritz, France.

So here’s how I feel about this: Sleeping on the ground and going without a shower for an entire weekend? No, thanks. Sleeping in a room-size tent with a proper bed? Count me in. (I’ll even bring the s’mores.)

Tandara Luxury, Sydney: Camping can involved a bathroom like this? Sign me up.

Caravan for One, Please: Hotel Hüttenpalast in Berlin

by Heather Summerville (Brooklyn)

Image source: Hotel Hüttenpalast

How cool is this? The Hotel Hüttenpalast has turned the sprawling first floor of a former vacuum factory into a makeshift indoor campground, where instead of hotel rooms, you reserve your very own old-school caravan for a night. (It’s like the grown-up version of having a tent in your room as a kid.) Each of the little suites on wheels is decorated in a different theme, from the bohemian Kleine Schwester (Little Sister) to the retro, tin-roofed Heartbreaker. Plus, there’s an on-site café and garden with rotating art exhibits. Accommodations start at a wallet-friendly 40 euros a night, making this my hands-down favorite spin on the affordable boutique hotel trend.

Meet the bloggers

Well, first off, there’s us. We’re an ever-changing group working on all sorts of creative things at Madewell. Designers, media mavens, tastemakers, industrious interns—the gang’s all here.

We’re really excited to share all the stuff—big or small, far and wide–that constantly inspires us. Hop over here and you’ll get the story on each of us.

But wait, there’s more…

We cast a net from coast to coast, sweeping up some of our favorite writerly women who we think are just so Madewell. (We have a hunch you’ll think so too.) Read up on the group, whose musings you’ll find mixed in with our own.