Thursday, September 06, 2007

back to school...for big girls

i have to confess that one of the greatest letdowns of my adult life is no longer being able to shop for "back to school" supplies. in fact, if i'm being totally honest, i used to get more excited about choosing my new folders, notebooks and pens than i did about spending my back-to-school clothing budget. sad, i know.

so now, when i hit the office supply store anytime after july 1 (since retailers are incapable of waiting until an occasion is actually imminent before they start marketing the &*%$ out of it), there's a pretty big part of me that's inexplicably drawn to the aisles and aisles of new highlighters, fancy post-its and, yes, even those old-school spiral-bound notebooks.

so, in honor of everyone who's secretly wishing they were picking out a new lunchbox this week, i thought i'd feature a few grown-up school supplies. after all, being an adult has its down sides, but at least we can afford more upscale office decor than we could when we were 12.

the first thing on my back-to-work list is some personalized stationery. i am such a sucker for fabulous stationery, i can't even begin to tell you. and much as i adore the classic, hideously expensive designs at smythson and mrs. john l. strong...really, they are hideously, inexplicably expensive. and, to be honest, they're a little too serious for my taste. so instead, i'll head over to iomoi, where they have a plethora of absolutely beautiful custom stationery options, with unbelievably cute motifs, at a price that's ever so much more reasonable. the only down side: so many options, i have no idea how to choose. but, i think i have it narrowed down to the crown monogram (because, really, i think we all know i'm a princess at heart), the island floral, the love lemons, and the little ladybug (seriously, how cute and girly is that?!). hmm....okay, so i still have some option-narrowing to do. the point is, they're gorgeous, stylish, and won't break the bank - now that's an equation i could have actually solved, back in my AP calculus days. (okay, who are we kidding...i so didn't take AP calculus...)

since i don't have a locker to decorate any more, i'm forced to try to make my office as stylish as possible...while maintaining some degree of professionalism, so that my clients can at least pretend to take me seriously. i worry about going too far down the "girly" path, but i think these vintage wire desk trays toe the line between chic and professional pretty darn well. not cheap at $58 each, but if you're lucky enough to have an office budget, well, i suggest expensing a few of these babies without a second thought! and, if an expense account is just a pipe dream at this point in your life, another idea i love is repurposing these rectangular aluminum trays from jamali garden as "in" and "out" around $15, these are truly chic and cheap, two of my favorite things! check out the green bamboo version too...

nothing really says nostalgia to me like fresh pencils and a pencil sharpener. seriously...i think pencils just have that "bygone era" thing going, in a big way (mostly because i can't remember the last time i used one). if you're in the mood to go old-school, you can go in style with this fabulously kitschy needlepoint pencil case (complete with pencils, thank you very much...) from jonathan adler, on whom i have to confess to having a major design crush. and, since most of us can't use the "i have to sharpen my pencil" excuse to get up and wander around the office like we could back in sixth grade, pair it with this super-fancy silver pencil sharpener, and you'll be the envy of everyone in your class.

i'm always looking for alternatives to my worst work-related habit: covering my desk with scraps of paper and post-it notes, all containing relatively important information, which inevitably fall off the desk, get buried under other paperwork, or just vanish altogether (i'm sort of convinced the evening janitorial staff occasionally steals some of them, just to screw with me). one of the solutions i've recently enlisted is to buy a completely fabulous and decadent leather notebook cover (that can be refilled), the theory being that if it really is completely fabulous and decadent, i'll want to carry it everywhere, which means i'll put all of my notes in it, which means they'll never be randomly strewn around my office, but will instead be completely and fabulously organized at all times. now, i won't say it's completely eliminated the piles of post-its, but it has dramatically reduced them. and hey, that's progress, right? you can pick up one like it at vivre.

or, if you just know you're a scrap paper person at heart, embrace your style by putting one of these subtle but chic magnet strips behind your desk. i love the bright orange color - hip without being too girly - and the teensy magnets (included) are actually you have a fighting chance at finding that phone number you wrote down on the back of a burrito coupon two weeks ago.

and, just because sometimes it's the little things that make me happy, i'm going to be buying a batch (or seven) of these adorable, handmade(!) paperclips. a mere $2 for a pack of 25 (or a whopping $2.50 if you want them in blue), plus you get to feel like you're helping out an indy artist.

happy back-to-school,, get shopping!