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Friday, April 17, 2015

Are all of you Anne Boleyn/Tudor history fans watching Wolf Hall on Masterpiece on PBS? I saw the excellent theatrical adaptations of Hilary Mantel’s historical novel Wolf Hall and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, in London last summer. The books and adaptations are about the rise of Thomas Cromwell, who rose from poverty to become adviser to England’s Henry VIII. A planned third book, The Mirror and the Light, will tell of Cromwell’s fall and eventual execution by beheading. I’m #sorrynotsorry I didn’t scream SPOILER ALERT about Cromwell’s death, but Wolf Hall and its sequels are all based on actual events that occurred in the 1500s, so you’ve had centuries to catch up on this ish.

Cromwell engineered Henry’s divorce from his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, and the king’s marriage to his second wife, Anne Boleyn (Wolf Hall). He then arranged Anne’s removal and execution when Henry fell in love with third-wife-to-be, Jane Seymour (Bring Up the Bodies). The ghost of Anne Boleyn probably had a good laugh when Thomas followed her to the executioner’s block.  Adding to her ghostly amusement would be the fact that Cromwell fell out of favor when — after the childbirth-related death of Jane Seymour — he arranged Henry’s politically astute fourth marriage, to Anne of Cleves. When it came to marriage, however, Henry was not a king of his time. He was all about love, not politics, and when Henry decided the new Anne was soooo not hawt and that he needed an annulment, Cromwell paid the price. The king quickly regretted Cromwell’s death, but that was of no help to Cromwell whatsoever. Too bad. Cromwell might have prevented Henry’s disastrous fifth marriage to Katherine Howard, who, like her cousin Anne Boleyn and Cromwell, ultimately lost her head over Henry. (Henry’s sixth and last wife, Katherine Parr, foolishly caused Henry some real aggravation over her ideas about religion, but lucked out when he died before he could do anything about her.)

I was fascinated by Anne Boleyn and Henry since I was about eight or nine and saw this famous portrait of her with her signature “B” necklace.


Anne Boleyn and her necklace.

One of the earliest designs I did — back in 2006 — was my interpretation of the Boleyn necklace in 18K yellow and rose gold with diamonds.


Click to see on my website.

It’s a big piece — the pendant is 2″ long — so people often comment on it. One question I often get is, “Why are you wearing a ‘B’ when your name is Wendy?”

boleyn layers

The Boleyn necklace layered with other pieces this year. Click to see on my Instagram.

I’m always like, “WAT?!” In case you’re still wondering, please refer to my last name, which can be seen at the top of this blog. B for Boleyn. B for Brandes. Another amusing question I get is, “Do you do all the letters?” That makes me want to respond like Oprah: “No! You get a B! And you get a B! And YOU get a B! Everyone gets a B!” But I just smile and say, “Of course, I do all the letters!”


Gorgeous client Melissa wearing her “M” Boleyn necklace and Papessa locket in 2008. Click for original post.

A more reasonable question is, “Why isn’t your necklace exactly like the one in the portrait?” The answer is that I like to do my own interpretation of historically inspired pieces. I feel that exact copies are best for museum gift shops. Also, I think the necklace in the portrait is kind of clumsy. We’ve developed a lot of new jewelry-making techniques since Anne’s time, and I took advantage of those to make a more refined design.

The 2″ long, 18K-gold-and-diamond necklace on a heavy chain is obviously an investment piece, retailing at over $10,000. But I couldn’t bear for any Boleynites to be deprived of a necklace (“You get a Boleyn necklace! And you get a Boleyn necklace!”) so, in 2008, I introduced a silver version without diamonds, priced these days at $660.


Gorgeous client Alice Olive took this photo of her “A” necklace. Click to shop for the letter of your choice.

In honor of Wolf Hall, my 2008 Boleyn necklace in silver is the April 2015 Jewel of the Month.


A customer once ordered her Boleyn necklace for her wedding day. That’s some interesting symbolism!


If you just want to read about Anne Boleyn and the other first four wives of Henry VIII, I’ve got that too.  (I swear, someday I’ll get to the last two. It’s just taking me … years.)

You can also see how I’ve dressed as Anne Boleyn — post-beheading.  I’ve been painted as Anne Boleyn. I’ve visited her childhood home. The late, great Henry the dog was named after Henry VIII. FitzRoy the cat is named after Henry FitzRoy, the illegitimate son of Henry VIII. Purrkoy the cat is named after Anne Boleyn’s dog, Purkoy (the pooch features in the first episode of Wolf Hall.) Basically, if Anne Boleyn were still around, she’d be getting a restraining order against my ass. I “Stan” for Anne Boleyn!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

My mother’s father’s name was Sam Kay, but his three grandchildren knew him as Papa. During World War II — decades before he became Papa — he was drafted into the U.S. Army and stationed in Texas. These photos were taken in 1942 or ’43.


Papa in uniform.

He’d married my grandmother Ruth — aka Nan — not long before the draft.



Nan was able to visit Papa at Camp Hulen, formerly known as Camp Palacios, in Texas. Papa was armed and not-too-dangerous-looking. He had a killer smile, though!


Apparently, it wasn’t all war games at Camp Hulen.


Batter up!

My grandmother, who died last year, was always quick to tell you what she thought. She never held back, as you can tell from her caption on this next army photo. It says, “Fatso, no?”


I prefer “pleasantly plump.”

Luckily, he was never sent overseas.

Papa was born on May 18, 1919, in  New York City. His original last name was Kwalwasser. He changed it to Kay in the late 1940s when his first daughter — my gorgeous mother, BarbaraB – started kindergarten and kids made fun of her last name.  “People didn’t want to have Jewish/foreign names,” BarbaraB says. They wanted to fit in. To help his daughter fit in, Papa got her a new last name. (Meanwhile, when I wanted a cheap-ass Swatch watch to fit in when I was in school, did anyone buy me one?! I’m JUST SAYING, BarbaraB!) Papa would be amazed at the first names a lot of kids have these days. We’ve got everything from Apple to Zelig. Humph! Now I wish I had a kid just so I could have named him/her Kwalwasser Brandes.

Papa was a cigar smoker who had his first heart attack in the 1970s. He had another one in 1983. He was in the hospital for treatment when an aneurysm in the wall of his heart burst. He died from the aneurysm (rather than the heart attack as I previously said here) on Dec. 2, 1983, aged 64. It was three weeks before my 16th birthday on December 23. As I’ve written before, he insisted on giving me my birthday gift — a gold bangle — early. BarbaraB believes Papa did that because he had a feeling that he wouldn’t make it home.


Part of the engraving in the bangle.

You can’t see it in the photo above, but the bangle is engraved with the date on which he originally planned to give it to me: 12/23/83. I don’t think I’d had the bracelet very long when I dented it by hitting it against the corner of a desk in my high-school science class. I was devastated.


I can’t remember if I did this in psychics or chemistry class.

Now I like the dent. It’s part of the history of the bracelet. I often stack my Sweet-16 bracelet with the diamond bangles I designed myself and a Tiffany bracelet MrB gave me before I became a jewelry designer.


Wearing the bracelet and its companions at the Spectrum Awards in Tucson in February. Click for original post.

Every time I wear this bracelet, I think of Papa giving me that early birthday gift.

By the way, because I mentioned that Papa smoked cigars that likely contributed to his heart problems, I feel I should note that Nan smoked cigarettes for decades but lived to be 95 years old. She always was an exceptional lady!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I really know how to mix things up! Here’s what I wore to dinner last night.

kilt3resizeWhat Wendy Wore
Top: Versace (2004)
Skirt: Versace (2004)
Boots: Jil Sander (probably 2004/2005)
Earrings: My latest earring design

And here is the same top-and-skirt combo worn in 2012 (left) and 2004 (right).


There’s no shame in my repetitive game! That said, my shoes did change between 2004 and 2012, and my jewelry varies from year to year. I also carried a different purse yesterday, though that bag didn’t make it into the photo.

I was laughing to myself as I got dressed last night, remembering how daring this kilt was when I got it. Those two straps around the back and that slit? Can you believe I wore something so provocative (with a black turtleneck) to my job at Lehman Brothers back in the day? I was one wild-and-crazy investment-bank employee who enjoyed doing many things!

I  acquired a lot of Versace while I was working at Lehman thanks to a stellar sales associate at Versace’s now-closed Madison Avenue boutique. She would call me when styles came in that she thought I would like. She’d even pull my size before she called. Whenever I longed for something that I couldn’t afford at the beginning of the season, as soon as the piece went on sale, she’d pull it and call me. It was very hard to resist that kind of personal attention. When she left to work for a different brand, her successor didn’t make that kind of effort and so ended my Versace purchases. I had learned a good lesson though. Now I email customers when I think they might like new designs, or when designs they’ve always coveted go on sale. (My friend Tina has really scored in the sales!) If there is any of my jewelry that you have your eye on, or if you you’re looking for a style that I might do in the future, holla at me at wbjewelry at hotmail dot com, and I’ll let you know when it’s your lucky day.

Monday, April 13, 2015

I’m pleased to see that US Magazine says white pantsuits are hot.


Click to enlarge.

I can shop my closet for that look. I have a white Versace pantsuit that I bought in 2003. The most recent photo I have of it is from 2007 and the picture is really tiny!

alek wek party

Click for original post.

Time to bring it out again and take a regular-size photo, I’d say!

UPDATED TO ADD: Before I wrote this post, I kept telling myself, “Mention Broad City. Mention Broad City.” Then I forgot to mention Broad City.

Broad City started out as a web series by Abbi Jacobson and and Ilana Glazer. It moved to Comedy Central, where MrB and I caught a number of episodes. We literally laughed our asses off each time. Literally! We have been assless ever since. Makes it very hard to sit. Anyway, in episode 2 of season 2, Ilana hires four interns to do her job, which she has no idea how to do herself. She celebrates by buying a “power suit,” which happens to be white, resulting in Ilana’s repeated, oblivious references to her “white power suit.”


Click the screen cap to watch the trailer. Suit comes in at 1:14.

If you want to be assless like me and MrB, you can catch up on Broad City here.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

The fifth season of Game of Thrones start tonight, and I’m so excited — as is the cast and Jimmy Fallon.

For those of you whose favorite character is Daenerys Targaryen, aka Kahleesi, I’ve put my 18K-gold Queen Min ring on sale for 24 hours only. A single dragon is etched into one side of the ring’s lemon citrine and, depending on which way you hold the ring, the dragon’s reflection appears and then disappears on the opposite side.


18K-gold and hand-carved citrine. Normally $6,000. Today, $1,000. Click to shop.

Only one of this style has been made. It looks fabulous worn with the koi-carved amethyst Queen Min ring …


Click to shop for the amethyst Queen Min ring.

… but makes a big statement worn alone too.

Shop now to get the sale price or forever leash your dragons!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Thank SO MUCH to gorgeous JCK Magazine editor Jennifer Heebner, who was working on a story about earring jackets when she discovered that my FitzRoy-the-cat earring jackets and birthstone studs were actually the start of a whole FitzRoy collection. She did a separate story about Fitz and his 18K-gold jewelry!


Click the homepage screenshot to read the story!

I’ve already posted the FitzRoy jackets with January’s birthstone, garnet, but I just photographed the ear climbers with six more birthstones. (Five to go!) Jennifer chose the citrine studs — November’s birthstone — for her story.

WB_CatEarrings_Citrine resize

Click to see — and shop — on my website.

I’ll have the amethyst (February), aquamarine (March), emerald (May), ruby (July), and tourmaline (October) versions up on my website this weekend. The rest of the birthstones will be coming soon.

Jennifer didn’t limit herself to jewelry photos for her story: She included pictures of FitzRoy himself, meaning he’s now a true supermeowdel. One of those is Fitz’s famous “escape leg” picture, which — as of this moment — has 68,926 notes on Tumblr.

I described my FitzRoy pendant design to Jennifer for the story and now I’m awfully tempted to share a photo the wax model, but I’m going to be strong and save it until the necklace is done. (The FitzRoy ring will have the same look as the pendant.) In the meantime, you can read about how FitzRoy inspired a line of jewelry by reading the story on JCK.


Now I have to get on FitzRoy’s Instagram and brag to all our kitteh friends!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

I do love those old-school Minnetonka moccasins from my last post, but what’s a moccasin lover to do when she’s invited to a black-tie soirée? Upgrade to mirrored Gucci moccasins, of course!


$650, via 1stdibs.com. Click to shop.

These are my kind of crazy, but when it comes to online window shopping, I’m still more in love with the pink mullet skirt I ogled last week. Speaking of mullets, my hair guru Keith Carpenter touched up mine yesterday.


Profile view.

I can’t quit this hairstyle. It shows off one of my latest jewelry designs nicely, too. Those are my 18K gold barbed-wire hoop earrings. Better photos of those coming soon!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Yesterday’s post on knee-high gladiator sandals reminded me of my previously expressed love for knee-high Minnetonka moccasins.


Click for my 2008 moccasin post.

That inspired me to check Minnetonka’s site for gladiator sandals. They do have a couple of styles. Not knee-high ones, but you can get the ankle-high look at a reasonable price.

$59.95. Click to shop.

$59.95. Click to shop.

There are also summertime variations on the Minnetonka five-layer fringe boot.  There’s a wedge …


$67.95. Click to shop.

… a flat …


$52.95. Click to shop.

… and another wedge that might make you look like you have really hairy ankles.

$67.95. Click to shop.

$67.95. Click to shop.

The hairy-ankle one is my favorite. It makes more of a statement.

I’ve been thinking about summer versions of classic winter shoes for about a week, since a shoe store that I often walk past put a pair of bubblegum-pink Timberlands in their window. Warm-weather Timbs! I keep trying to take a photo from outside but my phone hasn’t been doing the color justice. It doesn’t look as bright as it should on my computer either, but maybe that’s my eyes/settings.


$130. Click to shop.

There are also Timberlands with summery floral tongues. I was amused when I first saw them but it makes perfect sense. Timberland has been hot lately — why not push styles that work when it’s hot outside? Besides, I can’t knock a summer boot because I bought a cream-colored canvas pair from Opening Ceremony last year.


Wearing my summer boots in California last year. Click for original post.

Those weren’t by Timberland, but they have that vibe, right? Speaking of Timberland, I did get a custom pair last year after falling in love with a knee-high style.


Seen in January. Click for original post.

Now that I think about it, in 2012, I blogged about (but didn’t purchase) knee-high Converse sneakers. I seem to be obsessed: All you have to do is make knee-high version of any regular shoe and I’ll want it.

In the interest of full disclosure, if you purchase any of the shoes listed here I get … absolutely nothing! Zero money! I don’t do that kind of business. The only items for sale on this blog are my own jewelry designs. Everything else is stuff I happen to like. Please take note, all of you businesses that email and offer to pay me a pittance to shill a completely random product. I’m not going to do it, though I always get a good laugh when you say you’re a longtime reader of my blog and I’d be a perfect match for your breast pumps or lawnmowers!

Monday, April 6, 2015

The title of this post refers to Mad Men and sandals, not Mad Men and the “gladiators in suits” populating Scandal. I admit that I have only seen one episode of Scandal, but I’ll have time to catch up now that MrB and I have gotten 72 episodes of Mad Men out of the way. We were so woefully behind that we had to spend the two weeks watching seasons 2 through 7A to be ready for last night’s final season premiere.

We averaged a little more than five episodes of Mad Men a night, causing me to have many Mad Men-related dreams, some of which were Bert-Cooper-singing pleasant while others were falling-from-a-building disturbing. During my waking hours, I developed an intense appreciation for the work of costume designer Janie Bryant. I definitely want to go to the Museum of the Moving Image to see the clothes in person. I’m sure the gladiator sandals I spotted in season 6, episode 10 won’t be there because they weren’t worn by anyone important, but at least I got a picture of them on-screen.


Ignore the hookah — check out the foreground.

Mad Men‘s sixth season took place between December 1967 and November 1968, which was exactly the right time for knee-high gladiators. A famous photo of beautiful, doomed socialite Talith Getty wearing a pair was taken in June 1968.

I’ve had a passion for gladiator sandals since the mid-’80s.


My beloved, ankle-high white gladiator sandals in 1985. Click for original Throwback Thursday post.

I was thrilled when gladiators had a big moment in 2008 — the Los Angeles Times called them “ubiquitous.” The trend was propelled by celebrities wearing the ornate versions from Balenciaga’s Spring 2008 collection. Chanel actually did it earlier, prominently featuring a more traditional-looking, flat, knee-high gladiator in the 2007 Cruise collection shown in 2006. Mary-Kate Olsen was wearing the Chanel style in 2008, but the more outrageous Balenciaga sandal stood out more, both in its low and knee-high versions. Of course, ultra-fashion-forward Rihanna wore the latter style.

The knee-highs came in for a lot of criticism. The Fashion Police blog (not related to the E! Fashion Police show) asked, “High leg gladiator sandals: still ugly?” and answered in the affirmative. “Seriously ladies, stop wearing gladiator sandals,” begged the Audioshocker blog.

Even the ankle-high gladiator trend died down all too soon for my taste. But the style re-emerged in 2013. It was going even stronger last year, with celebs flocking to a flat Stuart Weitzman style that goes for about $400. I pined for those, but they had to be special ordered and I was worried about fit. I was happy to find less-expensive, ready-to-wear sandals while visiting Athens last summer. I was literally knee-deep in sandals there, though I suppose that sandals purchased in Greece should be called “Grecian” rather than the Roman “gladiator.”

Click for original post.

Click for original post.

You know I love a shoe style when I’m willing to wear a flat version!

I predict that gladiators will even more popular this summer. It’s always an indicator when Bergdorf Goodman devotes a section of its website to a specific trend. But Bergdorf’s 36 styles are blown away by Saks, which has 126 options. The look is also available at all pricepoints, with plenty of sandals below $100.

Fergalicious sandals are available for $69 at Macy's.

Fergalicious sandals are available for $69 at Macy’s.

All the stores are offering both high and low sandals, but I’m convinced the knee-high style is going to rule, and that last year was just a start. Last summer, I wondered why the high style was so much more popular than it was in 2008, and finally decided that uglier sandals — like Birkenstocks — had gotten fashionable makeovers, so why not gladiators? Plus, people had already been exposed to the high gladiator sandal in 2008. I think it’s an unusually slow-moving case of my “Never Is the Next New Thing™” motto: The styles that are most hated at first — the ones that make people say, “Never!” — are the ones that are hottest once our eyes adjust. We’ve adjusted!

Friday, April 3, 2015

We had two warm(ish) days in New York City this week, meaning our dreary winter might finally be ending!  Hopefully, this is my last cold-weather “What Wendy Wore” post for a while.

This outfit is actually from two weeks ago, when MrB and I had dinner with friends on a  29°F night. I didn’t feel too pleased with my look at the time, but I don’t mind it as much in the photo now.

moschinoresizeWhat Wendy Wore
Sweater: Alexander McQueen (2004)
Skirt: Moschino (2005/2006, previously seen here)
Suede boots: From Yoox.com (2008)
Jewelry: My own designs

Maybe I was just tired of winter clothes that night. Or tired of 10-year-old skirts. Or tired, period!

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