I challenge you, hipster Seersucker Social

self-described "alt-retro socialites" socializing

How? HOW is it so easy to predict these things? Honestly, if someone played a word association game for “fancy hipster garden party” here is what I would have come up with: vintage bicycle, ironic mustache, suspenders, snifter, fancy hats, faux fur. As a test, I also asked ironcityspy his opinion, to which he replied “the Great Gatsby.” Or as we know it, the 2010 DC Dandies and Quaintrelles’ Seersucker Social:

(photos courtesy of DCist)

The Dandies and Quaintrelles is a DC fashion club and the event was this past weekend. Sigh. So much…TRY. Look, I am not saying some of these people don’t look awesome. I mean, who doesn’t admire this commitment? But there is something about the concept: the trendy faux-antique photos from last year’s tweed ride, the finger sandwiches, the croquet, the ray bans, the fact that half of DC owns seersucker for serious, that makes it so… predictable.

The Decemberists would be proud

Afterwards, I half expect them all to ride their tandem bicycles to a food truck, take some vintage-contemporary juxtaposition photos with said truck, and ultimately end up at the Gibson laughing over fancy cocktails.

So with that in mind, my DC fashion avant-guard: I challenge you.

DCspy, the man in black

I challenge you to surprise me. That’s it. Muster your fashion-forwardness and come up with a costume party I could never predict through word association. If you succeed, I will give credit where credit is due and be less curmudgeonly towards your hipster-sensibilities. If you do not, throwback costumes, bicycles and PBR remain fair game.

Good luck, you princes of Maine, you kings of New England. I will be watching.

Sincerely,

DCspy

Internet and coffee sans hipster crowds? Try Steam Cafe

Sweatpants are A-Okay at Steam

So as I am currently “between jobs” (cough), I have become quite the tester of wifi coffeeshops. In general, I tend to evaluate them on a set of 6 criteria:

  1. coffee quality
  2. snack options
  3. hipster scale
  4. crowdedness
  5. background music
  6. availability of the internets.

For example, months back I blogged about MidCity Caffe, a wonderful option that scored very high in all categories, save it’s hipster scale reading of 7.0, which was due to the presence of 3 flannel shirts, a che hat and 2 NYT crossword puzzles being solved simultaneously. 7.0 is dangerously high.

I then started thinking about other options in the area, like Busboys and Poets, Tryst, Steam Cafe, and Kramers, and ultimately, it’s always the same basic face-off. Utilitarian vs. stylish, or in actual cafe terms, Steam Cafe vs. Tryst. Steam Cafe is the utilitarian model. And no, I don’t mean hipster exposed brick utilitarianism, I mean pure mall food court utilitarianism. Complete with hard chairs and grainy photos of ice cream cones. The Steam model is not trendy, but it is also not crowded. Family owned, classical music playing, the food is great but not that healthy. The internet works perfectly and sweatpants are welcome.

Juxtapose that with Tryst. THE Tryst. Open concept, hip tatooed cashiers, vintage comfy couches and chairs, very delicious coffee and food, and TONS of people. Definitely not the place for my fug olive-colored sweatpants. Music is usually good, but loud. Internet is perfectly accessible.

SO. Where do I go you ask? Where do I go if I need to use the internets with the company of a croissant snack ?? STEAM CAFE. In a second. Look, Tryst is great to grab lunch, take people from out of town, pick up some food to go. But to work? I just can’t do it. When I schlep my laptop around DC I need to know I will have a place to sit when I get there. I need to know I will have music at a decent volume, be able to look hideous and, because my computer is stone age, have an outlet to plug in to. Steam has these things, plus excellent paninis, plus staff that are unbelievably nice.

So if you need to work, you should try Steam. Just not on a weekend. We all hate people that camp out all day and only purchase one cup of coffee.

Big plans for the Dupont Underground and a bit of afternoon news

I know, you are confused. “But SPY,” you say, “today isn’t Friday,  why are you doing news”?? Well, half of it is for me. I had limited internet access in the Far East, so wanted to see what was happening around town. Also, I MAY have forgotten to post on Friday due to airplanes and deliverable due dates (yes, I do have an actual job) so this is sort of compensating. Also, this Dupont Underground thing is super interesting.

The Dupont Underground by Mika Altskan

Basically, there is an 100,000 square foot stretch of abandoned trolley tracks beneath Dupont Circle that the city is planning to turn into an art/cafe space. Per the website:

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Trends that need to disappear: Fancy Jumpsuits

So as I am sitting in Jakarta, i.e. one of the few places in the world where I could actually make it rain (seriously, the exchange rate is like 9000 Rupiah to the dollar), I started thinking about money. More specifically, all the clothes I would buy if I actually HAD money. Then I naturally started thinking about all the horrid things celebrities buy even though they DO have money. One item on that stupid trend train?  The fancy jumpsuit:

Oh jesus god the fancy jumpsuit. Fancy jumpsuits are one of those trends that come along, like high waisted tapered pants, JUICY ass-pants, harem pants, and no pants (i.e. leggings as pants), that I cannot understand. They are universally unflattering, encourage el camel-toe, and, though they come in different shapes and sizes, all end up looking either like superhero costumes, fancy pajamas, the wardrobe of Dynasty or a combination of the three. They are also guaranteed to be completely out of style in 6 months, which means they are only for those who can afford to light money on fire.

People. You are young. You have wonderful figures. Just slice the jumpsuit into a top and pants, make sure each is flattering, and we are in business. Do it for the rest of us who live vicariously through your millions. Please. For the children.

Earth Day and other events in the District

Now I know I normally do not comment on events. It’s because I am NEVER aware of anything in time for people to actually plan for things. However, since it’s Earth Day on Thursday (go planet!) and the DC international film festival and I am sort of “between” jobs (cough), I figured I would help you plan your week. You know, list 4 things to check out and 4 things to miss….

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Redeem Boutique, think Diesel but more interesting and eclectic

OK. So I haven’t really done a fashion post in awhile. Mostly because I haven’t really been BUYING things. Not enough benjamins at the moment. However, last week I did manage to snag these:

Cute no? The sandals I mean. They are gladiator, a blue and gray that is much more vivid than it appears via my canon elf. They are from Redeem boutique on 14th street. LOVE. Reminds me a good deal of Diesel but with more variety. Talked to the salesguy, he used to work at Diesel. Makes sense. A lot of zippers, draped tops, blue/black/gray/white/purple type of color palette, industrial, tailored jackets for the mens. Designers are from all over: New York, London, Korea, Canada etc.  Also, unlike other boutiques, this one is half menswear. Some beautiful shots:

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Best of DC winners and some DCspy opinions

Ok kids. The Best of DC results are in. Now, last time some DC results were in (i.e. my James Beard post), I thought I would get all bloggery and say “hey readers, let me know your thoughts!!” You know, because that’s what blogs do.

Yeah. You all failed. Basically, none of you commented except for empire state elitist who did not comment on the restaurants at all and instead talked about how much DC food sucks. Way to snark up the comments section.  ANYWAYS, learning from my mistakes, I have highlighted some of the Best of DC winners, MY thoughts, and could effing care less if you comment. take THAT…

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MidCity Caffé and the Blogger Coffeeshop Model

Many days I have walked past MidCity Caffé and wondered whether it got business. It’s located up a flight of stairs, not all that well signed, is small, people never walked in or out. It was the little engine that could of coffee shops of my mind. The coffee shop I loved being there but never actually supported by buying coffee from it (oh, you KNOW you have those things, ahem, Tonight Show with Conan o’ Brien, ahem, Snakes on a Plane etc, but I digress).

And then I went inside….

All the signs were there. Vintage utilitarian furniture, magazine racks filled with New Yorkers, maple syrup as a free coffee sweetener, young people in distressed demin typing on laptops, talking about how surreal it is that the Decemberists are on NPR now since they knew them when only 10 people came to their shows and it’s so ironic because of something something I can’t remember because I stopped listening because it was a super boring conversation and because I had REALIZED. MidCity Caffe wasn’t a struggling coffeeshop, no. It was a blogger coffeeshop. And it was doing JUST fine.

The kind of blogger coffeeshop that the bloggers probably hate me blogging about but the owners don’t because it’s actually a business.  Intimidated by the happy communal surroundings, I ordered a plain coffee (figured that was a safe and sufficiently ironic choice) from a genuinely nice cashier, and slinked back down the stairs to blog from the shadows of my studio.

MidCity Caffe has the blogger recipe down: the perfect mix of ambiguity, utilitarianism and David Bowie that will attract even the most diehard of bloggers. You know, like this:

Hipster Bloggers in NYC Habitat

Jesus. But more than that, it’s an excellent coffeeshop. The employees are nice, the coffee is good, the music is not overbearing, and you have a view of 14th Street. I have returned to MidCity probably 6 times since and will go back again. It really is a perfect little coffeeshop. Just come early or you may be waiting out a NYT crossword puzzle… and we all know how long that could take.

MidCity Caffé, 1626 14th St NW, DC 20009; (202) 234-1515 (will spymap), http://www.midcitycaffe.com/

Yes, cupcakes are effing trendy CNN

The fabric of the cupcake lifestle

OK. So those that read my blog know my pro-pie stance on the cupcake obsession. If you don’t, read my please not another effing cupcake store post.

Basically, I advocate for minority desserts. Yes, cupcakes are delicious, but many other desserts are delicious too and deserve more representation. Trendy foods are irritating.  First those Pinkberry-type yogurt things, now cupcakeries.

However, unlike pinkberry, CNN is saying cupcake have transcended the trend category and are part of the American culinary landscape. Cupcakes are a “passion,” a lifestyle, a part of who we are (see article here).

Come ON. Cupcakes are trendy. Period. It doesn’t mean they are not delicious, it means that if cupcakes were not trendy we maybe wouldn’t have 6 (Yes 6!) cupcakeries within 10 miles of each other in a city that isn’t all that big. So please, dear pastry chef, avoid the hype. Open a bakery. Provide me with fresh delicious bread that I can ruin in my attempts to cook things. Or maybe a croissant. Or a piece of pie. Just not another effing effing cupcake.

So I don’t jump the shark on cupcake posts, this will be my last for awhile, but I just couldn’t pass up the article. It was just right there. Taunting me.

I went to Ruff & Ready and all I got was this ottoman and this rash

First, let me say that I love Ruff & Ready. I have a TV stand, lamp, pictures and other things from there. However, Ruff & Ready is not for everyone, and I have been abandoned there many times by friends who can’t handle its charm. Well, I think it’s charm.

Ruff and Ready is a hipster’s dream. It is only open on the weekends. It is technically antique but has the stacked inventory of a thrift store. All prices end in the number 7 and the owner doesn’t know why, its just tradition. It’s not super cheap, but they will bargain with you. It is one of those perfect places that locals have known about for ages and new residents need to know about immediately. Some pictures:

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