Saturday, December 31, 2011

Should old aquaintance

Dear Kristin,

 And we all started to sing.

Record the whole thing.  Just like we did last year.
J. Benny

Friday, December 30, 2011

Warms the heart

Dear Kristin,
I know how you feel about her voice, but it's his silent shrug-giggle at the end that makes it worth the watching and rewatching:

We want this to be a true, true love.  At least for  the day.

Of course you've already seen this by now.  After all, it's been on the internet for two days.  Over 2 million views in two tiny days.  Today's news is now and forever yesterday's news. I like to think it doesn't matter, though.  That this duet will last, that we'll be here this time next year and every year thereafter.  Is that too warm-hearted for your blood?  I'd hug you if you were here.  Make you talk about yourself and be all sensitive.  It's just the mood I'm in.  You'd hate/love it.

I'm doing one of these this year:

 Woody Guthrie's New Year Rulins.  Found on Lists of Note, a site that's worth hours of your attention.

I don't usually. We were probably seventeen the last time I even made an attempt.  But this year I'm going to give it a go, treating it more like a 2012 to-do list.  Another one of my top tens.  I'm out of school, jobless.  I need to at least be checking things list off, things I can do myself while submitting to jobs and journals. I'm still in the fine-tuning stages, but perhaps I'll share a few of the less ridiculous ones once I'm done. 

And there will be another Songs for the New Year, Courtesy of the Old Year.  On that you can rely.

J. Benny

Monday, November 28, 2011


Dear Kristin,
These fellas, they really make it happen for me:

Today is the day I began thinking about the year's favorites--album, song, new band--and I'm not sure it got any better this year than Girls.  I'm going to give it a good hard think, because I'm a forgetful gal and because I like to organize and make lists for crossing off and checking and general future reference.  Forgetful, not fickle.  And with Spotify (thank you for forcing Spotify on me) so much of that I love is collected onto so many easily accessed playlists--around thirty album playlists and a few mixes.  (Do you want my Christmas mix?  It's still cooking, but should be ready for mass consumption soon.)  Meaning it's harder for me to forget.  And this Girls album is nothing to sneeze at.  It's great.  It just may not be Kanye West great or Tha National great, but it could hold it's own in any year.  Still, I'm not quite convinced this year has stacked up to last.  But I did I have this same feeling last year?  And is that a sign that perhaps there's something off with me--impossibly high hopes, so much looking forward to--rather than the music. The music which is great:

I actually meant to post this video weeks ago, because it brings me such joy.  (And that's to say nothing of the song itself--which brings me impossible joy.) And I thought, not only must I share, but I must count the ways in which I love:

1.  this boy is in a crop top, hands on hips, sassin' us
2.  he's so grabby and goofy and then there's the hair flip
3.  oh, God, his "come here babe, take a ride"--it's the most ridiculous
4.  seat dancing, like Charlotte D. would
5.  FIREWORKS.  he's in love and it's fireworks.
6.  and then his band is waiting for him in the woods!
7.  Brady Bunch screens.

The above kept me from sharing this sweet morsel.  Because enumerating takes time!  But it's ten minutes!  I get to replay my song, focusing on the best bits, but the effort!  Come on, JB.  It was very wrong of me to withhold the joy.  Laziness is so much evil and Girls are too good.

J. Benny

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Of course it was always this sad

Dear Kristin,
It's just more real at this speed:

Today I wore glitter shoes and a poppy:

Glittery TOMs.  Flower.
And ate a champagne brunch:

Here's hopping Jane St. J did the same, as it's her birthday.

J. Benny

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This is a blog for posting music videos every two days

Dear Kristin,
This happened in England: 

Big, Beautiful Bon Iver on Jools Holland

I wasn't there. But perhaps I could have been! This place just gets better and better, no?  All these crooning, closed-eyed men--so near.

J. Benny

P.S.  Don't you just love the final bing?  That's the level of attention, the detail.  The way the saxophone man breaks down, nearly falls apart.  And then it grows, grows, grows.  And Bon's face, his hands with "I never".  The man is in pain; he aches.  ACHES. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

This is not a blog for posting music videos every two weeks

Dear Kristin,
And yet, here we are again:

Stereogum described her performance as "ebullient. It doesn't get more ebullient than a backwards roll.

J. Benny

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Dear Kristin,

There are limits to Spotify.  Thankfully, we have The Blog.

J. Benny

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Shaking it out

Dear Kristin,

Over and over. As we do.

J. Benny

P.S.  Obviously I was busy elsewhere in NYC when fashion week ended.  I do have more, collages of beautiful beading and 20s, high-society style fun.  But that will have to come another time.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Coats II, the Remix

Dear Kristin,
It's easy to make assumptions in the colder months.  This is why summer is so hard for me.  There's no cheating, no covering up.  Winter has its perks.  Obviously splendid coat = invisible splendid outfit beneath.  Shopping about town, a quick coffee at Ninth Street, a movie date in a dark theater.  Just slip on the coat and remember not to remove it.  And wear underwear.

Warning: the Donna Karan on the left requires pants.  Next up is Victoria Beckham, Derek Lam, another Victoria Beckham.  The coats, bags, and tight leather trousers were my favorites from her this year. 

J. Benny

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Pretty Dress is Like a Pretty Dress*

Dear Kristin,
That is to say, Ms. P knows pretty:

Jenny Packham.  Not among my brightest stars - as she was last spring - but these are still mighty pretty.  The last is a touch like a dressy gown version of an Erdem I once loved.  An old flame made new.
J. Benny

P.S. *A pretty girl is like a pretty girl.

Derek Lam in the Details

Dear Kristin,
Derek Lam started strong and ended stronger.  The final third looked something like this:

But four of the last thirteen looks

Sold.  But it's not my favorite collection.  It was strong from start to finish, but it wasn't altogether fresh.  The final thirteen, classic.  Surprising classics, not repetitive classics.  Which, by the way, was not a problem during the first half of the show either.  All the looks read like new classics, but not all of them felt as complex/detailed/present as they might.  I don't mean busy, just refreshing.  They were timeless, but not quite hard working enough.  Just good looking clothes.  Which is nice!  But not great!  If they'd all come down as well considered as the last chunk, this might have been The Show.  But thirteen does not a show make.  Accessories, though, can nearly make a show.  And these Lam provided to splendid effect throughout:


J. Benny

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Yesterday's Goods

Dear Kristin,


Monique Lhuillier.  Best dress yet.


My deep love of Altuzarra continues.


And a new Prabal Gurung fondness blooms.  Click to enlarge!  All photos from


Best coats yet.  From left: two  Alexander Wang, Altuzarra, Prabal Gurung

That is all for now.

J. Benny

P.S.  Except to say that, besides those two coats from him, I had a really hard time believing Alexander Wang's recent collection. There was a hot ski instructor vibe toward the middle that I thought fun, though impractical, and I almost bought into a dark burgundy leather mini with nearly invisible tribal* print detail, but ultimately couldn't.  It felt ready for Kate Bosworth, and while I love Kate Bosworth and wish I dressed like her every day, she's but one type of girl.  The very tiny downtown starlet kind.  And that feels like a niche group to me.  I actually enjoyed the tribal shapes in general, except that they often came down the run way looking like this:

I can't.
*Tribal looking, but not actually tribal.  Actually stadium seating maps.  So, okay, that's cool.  Also, how much do I love that he picked up on my WHITE POINTY PUMPS thing.  I love it so much, because we know it really is going to be a thing now. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Can she see me?

Dear Kristin,

J. Benny

Still Waiting on Spring 2012

Dear Kristin,

If we'd started Suno's Spring 2012 show with this look, I might have fallen in love:

Suno Spring 2012.  All runway photos from

In the past, I've found myself attracted to their prints in a kind of distant fangirl way.  Fan being the key word, I guess.  I'm a fan, meaning I love, but from a distance.  They were simply too loud for me to wear myself.  I'm sure I'd flip if I passed a gal on the street wearing all Suno, but I couldn't myself.  And, yet, I've been feelin' louder prints lately.  And Peter Som showed a floral pantsuit that almost shouted to be seen - and I'd absolutely wear it.  Today, tomorrow, to bed:

I enjoyed the electricity at Peter Som.  My favorite was a slightly boxy crop top over a waist hugging, floor length skirt.  Slit to there, Mediterranean  blue.  The colors were magic, the Charlotte Olympia heeled loafers both day & night, and the shapes were newish and largely flattering.  There is a fine line, though, between sweetly boxy and linebacker shoulders.  That third look, I'm afraid, is perhaps a little too close to crossing it.  But, as separates,  yes please.
Maybe my fashion wants are changing (they are) or maybe it's that Som's pantsuit matched.  Much of what Suno is known for is mismatch, and while it was there in this collection, it was tempered.  It didn't shout, but I kind of wish it had.  That yellow wrap dress was the brightest spot for me, a little lemon - actually as sunny as the collection got - and a robe to boot.  Because I think I'm developing a thing for robes:

Costello Tagliapeitra.  My notes were these:  1.  Satin!  So much like a fifties robe my Grandma MJ once owned, but shorter and flirtier and superbly tailored.  Something about the arms, the tight, pushed up sleeves, makes it lunch to dinner appropriate.  2.  Draping, draping everywhere.  And those white shoes.  3.  How is hangs.  4.  Pop!
Only disappointment: though not featured above, the theme was "City Flowers" and, sadly, I found most of the florals rather dusty, too much mothball.
And, oddly, white shoes.  Even pointy white shoes.  Ah, the circle of life!  So we meat again pointy shoes!  Remember how we loved them once, ten years ago?  And now I own not one pair of truly sharp edged shoes (almond toed, but not sharp toed), which means I'll need to purchase a pair, which is exactly what they want.  "They" being The Man.  Or men: Mr. Costello and Mr. Tagliapeitra.  Love them and their white shoes.  Here's another pair of great whites:

Photos from  The two on the left are both Prabal Gurung with white Manolo Blahniks.  The street wear jacket is L'Agence, which I hunger for, with nude Jean-Michel Cazabat, and the last is Chanel with those Manolos.

Jason Wu was lovely, but largely disappointing after last spring's spectacular showing:

I actually love these, the pink especially.  But last year there was this spark, some happy innovation, the new classics.  And this year.  Well, I had that exact chartreuse dress in mind for my trip to France.  Granted, I couldn't find it anywhere.  But if I can dream it, Jason Wu should have to dream it better.  Because he is better.  The shoes and general styling, though - a touch of welcome danger. 

I know.  It's pretty!  But I expected so much more.  I was also a bit let down by The Row, though they did feature a robe and had a show stopper of a show stopper.  There final piece, pictured on the right, is gorgeous:

Everything else in the collection reminded me too much vanilla incense and cleanses and haute yoga and Orientalism.  And the layers the Olson ladies are known for, especially off the runway, felt forced here.  Like they were afraid of just hitting one or two notes at a time, rather than layer upon layer.  As if we might be bored with the samey colors and textures.  Maybe, but I doubt it.  I wanted something simpler, I think.  Their final piece hit just two notes and it was a winner.  And I certainly could have lived without the scaly pants creeping out from under that robe/nightgown at left, though I do love me some scales and am certain they're striking on their own.  On their own. 

Another disappointment not wholly disappointing:

Definitely a step up from last spring's collection, which I almost hated.  Which is why I didn't go into it here, on Make Me Happy.  Because it did not make me happy.  And although I'm not exactly smitten with Rag & Bone's newest collection, I do feel like we're getting back to good here.  Maybe even great.  At the very least, it reminds me of greatness (a tiny drop of Proenza Schouler Spring 2011, perhaps).

Speaking of reminders!  My favorite collection thus far is a bit copy cat, a bit catnip. I can't put it better than wantable, buyable, right now.  The odd thing is, outside of Celine and Rodarte red (though they can't really copyright a whole color), I can't quite recall what it is they're copying.  I feel it in the colors and sizes and shapes, even in pattern - but for all my searching, I can't find the original source.  I'm not sure if that's because I don't have the proper internet search tools, or if, instead, the collection is a new classic.  It feels older, but isn't.  Little groundbreaking, but fresh enough to feel fresh, and classic enough to remind me of something, something:

 Great Interpretations. 
Can this be as good as it gets?  A collection that feels like a brilliant rehash, even if it's not? Stay tuned, my dear Kristin.

J. Benny

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Follow, the Look

Dear Kristin,
I asked, "how much new music?"  
You said, "all of it."  
Instead, two songs.  Only the best for my girl:

 Coincidentally from Brighton

Thanks, Metronomy!  Speaking of looks!  New York fashion week has just begun, meaning the internet's fashion month has just begun.  It's a little bit like fortune telling, our first basic taste of Spring, 2012:

The early prediction I liked best.  Jenni Kayne, Spring 2012.  Pictures from
It's not going to change your world, this one.  But we must start slow, ready ourselves for the more complicated stuff.  This is the way fashion week works.  The first day, always, I'm worried.  I like what I see above, but I'm not moved, my heart is not raining Jenny confetti. But it will.  Faith!  In the meantime, this is my favorite from Thursday*, a collection from Jenni Kayne that's uncomplicated and very wantable and a swell introduction to slightly rethinking things.  Tweaking.  Longer lengths, an upright posture, that hint of slouchiness.  Jason Wu stuff, no?  Soft structure with a playful, almost boyish lean.  Only this time it's not your actual boyfriend's blazer, it's your mom's.  I'm not sure I need my pants to swallow my shoes, but I do like the late nineties, Manolo Blahnik/Carrie Bradshaw look of those silver sandals in the middle.  I want a pair in red.

And how.

J. Benny

*Thursday at 6 pm EST.  I am off to bed, thank you.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Dear Kristin, 

New soft soft Jamie sweater. 

Living Room.
 Tom Felton and Rupert Grint for Band of Outsiders

Living Room II

J. Benny


Uncovered here.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Good Music Day

Dear Jane,

And a quickie for you:

Because you gave me Washed Out and they're giving the world Chris Isaak.

J. Benny

Just this one thing, very quickly

Dear Kristin,

Have to:

J. Benny

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Try Outs

Dear Kristin,
Like we're trying out Google+.  We are trying out Google+, yes?  Because I'd rather not, but I'll bend if you want me to bend and it means I can watch movies with Nick while I'm in England and it's 5 pm here and he's home from work with whatever ailment has finally caught up with him and is bored with his solitary lunch, eating whatever ethnic food he's just had delivered.  Ya hear?  I'll do it for you guys.

So, this surprised me.  I like Beirut already, but this isn't Beiruty - Beiruty meaning horns to hop to and that man's foreign warble and POP! - and not in a bad way.  Just in a different way.  A little sprinkle of Billy Joel. He's using his voice like a voice and not like an instrument. There's a piano and a person singing lyrics you can make out.  Not at all in a bad way.

Perhaps that's why he looks so wonderfully bashful in the live version.

And because I'm in England and these fellas are beloved here:

Can she see me?

The live rendition is more J. Benny, and yet J. Benny likes it less.  But perhaps Kristin won't feel similarly.  Perhaps she'll like it more.  I guess, sometimes, I need a little more than a man and an guitar.  Rarely is still sometimes. 
Speaking of England!  Moody skies and cask ales!  On a pretty day I walk this windy town wearing a vintage blue blouse over a white slip I stole off my mom years ago and my chunky brown Target wedges:

The pre-France tryout.  It made the cut.
With a pink belt and a rock bracelet and my Kicks Ass.

This old slip is changing me.  I wear dresses now.
J. Benny

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Blow

Dear Kristin,
I heard this in a my local (pub) the other night, a splendid monument to drinking called The Lion & The Lobster.  I will take you there.  I will take you there and Jane there and Jamie there and Garrett there and my dad there.  Everyone gets to go there.  Everyone should, really.

A good song:

J. Benny

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Dear Kristin,
In a pub in the early afternoon, drinking a coffee, interneting.  Eavesdropping.  Here's a funny something I've noticed: rarely a day goes by that I don't overhear an America conversation.  We're talked about all the time.  Interesting, no?  Because I can't remember the last time, in America, I overhead an England conversation - and I can't help but worry if that's something of a bad sign.  Our not talking about other countries.  Like perhaps we don't look around us enough.  On the other hand,  perhaps I listened for it less in New York.  Regardless, one thing I do love here: the America conversations are varied, not one-note, one-feeling, one-subject.  Which is also amazing to me.  That we would come up in different ways every day.

My two notes today, also a two in one:

The first I saw a French girl wear a version of a few weeks ago, though I couldn't replicate it until my own sweater and skirt arrived in the overseas shipment.  The next happened because I was cold.

Also, just so you know, I've been turning this over.  Shall we turn it over together?

J. Benny

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Brighton, UK

Dear Kristin,

It's only kind of the beaches.  The rest is the iced coffee.  Which is, in Brighton at least, an iced latte with iced coffee prices.  
It's not a frappé.
Because the truth is, well, it's a shingle beach.  Lovely to look at, surprisingly comfortable to sit upon, but not sandy.  As you can well see:

Brighton, courtesy of LCD Soundsystem
Must wear shoes.

J. Benny

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sometimes You Must Eat the Roses

Dear Kristin,
My new color:

Muli-color me.

Muli-colored Callahan:

Sounds like slate.

We should have slept in more cars:

Chartreuse, like spoiled gold. 

Sometimes you must eat the roses.

J. Benny

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

You haven't seen my ladybugs

Dear Kristin,
I even sleep with them on, they are so sweet, like being covered in stuffed animals:

Rock bracelet!  Old, from my gram.  And the American Apparel shorts you gifted me.

J. Benny

Sunday, May 8, 2011

"Look if you want me to start taking it seriously, stop saying its name" - Jeff Winger

Dear Kristin,
My two favorites, merging:

Community, the last of the season.  I spy with my little eye: a background of Laurie and Travis.

I'm not sure you know this, but Community and Cougar Town love on each other quite a bit:

Courtney had nailed it.

And perhaps soon, they will be as one.  And all will be right in my J. Benny world.

J. Benny

Me, lately

Dear Mom,
Look what I did:

I found a way to wear your kooky 80s sweater in NY's fickle-weathered spring.  I cut off and disposed of the shoulder pads, obviously.  And it is now my new favorite sweater.  It's helped me shake things up a bit.

I'm not exactly wearing the same thing everyday.  Not exactly.  But it's a bit like six conversations about the same thing.  A lot of navy, many a thick strapped platform, at least two different but very similar Earnest Sewn ankle crop jeans.  Both of which I purchased on Gilt for about $70.  Thank heavens.

Other points of interest:
That first look in the collage I wore yesterday; the dress I purchased last summer from secret store Shareen Vintage on my first visit; the top is Gap, circa 2001, and the shoes are oldish Pierre Hardy for Gap.

The next look features some capsule-collection work, too.  The dress is Costello Tagliapietra for Uniqlo (their first collection) and platform wedges by Cynthia Vincent for Target.  Wrap-around belt from Shareen Vintage.

The top portion of the following outfit, the third in the collage, is all Uniqlo (jacket is a Jil Sander collaboration).

Then we have Kristin's blue button-up bowling shirt and braided belt worn flipped, tan side (as opposed to gaudier gold side) out.

The fifth outfit features a navy version of the pink Urban Outfitters cardigan of my second outfit (on sale, $20) and a cream Victorian-themed turtleneck blouse which once belonged to my good friend Jamie T but now belongs to me.  Because I stole it.  At a clothing swap.  All's fair.

Boyfriend's aviators, lost in Houston, and a pin that once belonged to my grandma.
Finally, my three-year-old leather Urban jacket, Kristin's bowling shirt, my dad's old Levi's cut to 90s highwaisted short-shorts, a vintage Coach belt from the Brooklyn flea, and Gap city flats.  The perfect ballet flats, inspired by the original perfect ballet flat.

I made no mention of my Urban Outfitters flatforms in the above:

But here they are, on my feet.  As promised three posts ago.  And I'm no one if not a girl of my word.  (Very comfortable, though the straps have stretched out a bit, not least of all because I was once caught in the rain while wearing them.  Anyway, Urban restocked online but are reselling out fast, in case you're wondering and wanting.  They're down to just the black.)

J. Benny

P.S.  Dear Kristin, I miss you.  Come back from Houston now, please.  New York really kicks ass without you.  (Imaginary tip of the hat.  IMAGINARY HOOK HANDS.)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A good day for dress

Dear Kristin,
I couldn't be more pleased with the showing at last Monday's McQueen-dedicated Met Gala.  I wanted something to cheer about, and I found twenty somethings to cheer about.  So, without further (or really any) fanfare, a scroll-down of my twenty favorites, in very particular order, smallest love to greatest.  Notice, though, that they are all loves.

20.  Kirstin Dunst in Chanel.  It's black springy and very her and occasion appropriate, while still being damn cool. And she's sweet-faced.

19/18.  Ashley Greene in Donna Karan and Naomi Watts in Stella McCartney.  Loved: both in frosty, ethereal shimmer that, when paired with such ladies - ladies who might otherwise play it dark and safe - ends up feeling somewhat (thankfully) interesting and adult.
17.  Alexa Chung in Christopher Kane, the only short dress (on an adult) I fell for all evening.  Simple, demure funk.  With silver discs like scales and pockets like waves.

16.  Diane Kruger in Jason Wu with Jason Wu.  And leg!  Loved: the dress as distinct parts, the nude longsleeve top splattered with something like Grandma's buttons.  (Although somewhat less like Grandma's buttons up close.)  You know it's an exceptionally good night when a lovely Kruger doesn't make the top ten.

15.  Vera Wang.  In a Vera Wang. 1920s-style neon yellow.

14.  Madonna in Stella McCarnety.  She looks glamorous and fresh and almost fun again.  Star detail = fun.

13.  Emma Stone in Lanvin.  I've long enjoyed dresses made out of what may be luxury curtains/bedspreads/couch-covers.  And those lips.  Pink lips, pink lips, pink lips.

12.  Peter Sarsgaard & Maggie Gyllenhaal. The two of them, together, make this.  Although Stella McCartney helped.  As did the clean lines and clean sparkle and clean countenance.

11.  What?  Not a top ten?  I know.  Zoe Saldana in Calvin Klein.  A lesson in refreshment.

10.  Lily Donaldson in Erdem.  Sleepwear made nightwear with a bold blue and Peter Pan collar.

9.  Sarah Jessica Parker in my only Alexander McQueen pick.  It's an understated McQueen.  Yes, I'd call this understated, simple McQueen.

8.  Bing!  Elle Fanning in Valentino.  Want to bring her home with me.  But that'd be kidnapping.

7.  The host, Anna Wintour, in Chanel.  Superhero Wintour in Superhero Chanel.

6.  A gal I hardly know holding my main squeeze Phillip Lim's hand.  Her name in Oh Land.  And this is the right way to wear basic white.  With long sleeves covered in yellow, protruding nubbins.

5.  Brooklyn Decker in Michael Kors.  She's beginning to look a lot less like a model and a lot more like an actress.  And Michael Kors is beginning to look a lot less dated, ho-hum and a lot more like a figure flattering, body-con Calvin Klein.
4.  Model Chanel Iman in Dolce & Gabbanna. I wish I could direct you to a close up of this one.  There's so much to like, so much classic, expert embellishment.

3.  Kerry Washington in Escada, looking as beautiful as beautiful is capable of looking.  Beautiful.  It's a little 70s prom, no?  The dress has a tiny bit of sparkle to it, as does that minaudiere.  And I do love me some pink lips, big hair.  Pink lips, pink lips, pink lips.

2.  There was much debate about Rihanna in this Stella McCartney dress.  Actually, it was less debate and more hate.  People wanted more RIHANNA.  And I understand that. But she also looks sexy and gothic (friendly, modern gothic) and Met appropriate.  This was not her show; it was McQueen's.  And, further in her defense, she does appear almost nude on one side. That's a wee daring.  And her butt.  It's the roundest butt in town.  And the red fishtail and turquoise earrings.  The most.

1.  Gennifer Goodwin in, wait for it, Topshop.  Well, Topshop Unique.  But that's still Topshop.  
And it/she kicks ass.  From head to toe.

Love, J. Benny

P.S.  As far as designers are concerned, though, Stella McCartney was the clear winner here.  Girl's got gorgeous range.