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wonders never cease

Year / 2016

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I Shop Local Because ...

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Pink October Rolls into November

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Banned Books Week Redux

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Maker Camp: Sun Dye!

This sunny hot week, a lazy week between camps and family expedition to NYC, we decided to host our own Maker Camp. We were ready to try some projects we've had up our sleeves for a while. We invited a BFF, cranked up the Hamilton soundtrack, and got started. First up: the Sun Dye project we saw here and bought materials for years ago ... but never quite got around to.

Step One was setting up a shady spot -- a little harder than imagined on a 99-degree, super sunny day -- and spreading out materials: Inkodye paints, brushes, rollers, jars for mixing. Plus: shirts, tea towels and scarves for dying. Step Two: gathering foliage from the garden to spread on the dye-covered fabrics and create patterns in relief. (I loved that Lucy asked me to show them which plant matter was permissable for plucking; she knows the relationship between me and my plants pretty well.) Step Three: spreading sun dye on fabric (we used sponge brushes; it was tricky), then placing leaves and objects in a pattern. Step Four: moving the creation into the light, and letting it rest for about 15 minutes while the sun activates the dye.

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Why We Love DC

It's hard to escape this bizarre 2016 election. Among the (many) vexing issues: the frequently-invoked term "Washington" -- often cited with vitriol, occasionally with praise, but always with reference to a famous but not-the-whole-story capital city.

For most residents of the District, that "Washington" is as foreign as it is to folks in distant states. For us, DC is home. It's fun and challenging and exciting and currently very humid. It has scads of libraries, schools, museums, and a burgeoning creative class, all of which we are delighted to support.

I am proud to call DC my hometown. (I wish I could call it my home state.) And I am delighted that my DC business, which proudly supports local artisans, is now launching a couple of our own Made-in-DC product lines: DCProper (apparel) and The Proper Kind (paper goods with positive vibes).  We'll be telling you more ...

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Making Good Vibes

Hey there, friends.

I think we've all been touched this summer by all of the sadness and anger unfolding in the world. In the wee small hours, when dark thoughts come out to play, it can be pretty hard to shake a sense of hopelessness.

Though hardly original, my plan of defense is to greet each day with the goal of bringing as much good into the world as I can. Random acts of kindness, positive thoughts, good work in the community. Stuff that's important any time, but is actually important and theraputic in times such as these.

How are you doing? I'd love to hear your ideas and inspirations.

Peace and love to all,


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Sunday, July 3, 2016


As we ease into midsummer, we're looking forward to the lazy-ish days and fun escapes ahead, mindful that they'll roll by quickly. We plan to document get-aways and adventures -- our own and others' -- but first, we forge on with the second and final week of our 26TH anniversary sale and an Homage to the Aughts (which rolled by quickly). Our sale is reminiscent of the HUGE PATIO SALES that defined the first decade of this century in our Georgetown shop. We're playing our 22-hour play list of favorite songs we were listening to back then ... you can find the play list here. Hope you enjoy listening to it in your midsummer revelry.

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

26 Years!

So, maybe you've heard (because we've been making a pretty big deal out of it ... ), Proper Topper just turned TWENTY-SIX. Which is like a billion in shop years.

Needless to say, we're celebrating. 

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Mr. Reliable

This week's installment of Proper Style Picks,  by our own Mr. Reliable, Jake:

With Father's Day this weekend, I'm thinking about how glad I am to have three fatherly figures in my life: my dad, my stepdad, and my mentor. While I've had my ups and downs with all of them (but who hasn't, especially as a teenager?), they have always been reliable.

With their reputations of reliability, they deserve gifts with the same reputation this Father's Day.

I already expounded on the quality of Lisa B. socks in a previous post (but you should definitely give dad some); here are some other favorites you can rely on.

Rustico leather products are all hand-crafted in Utah, ensuring their reliability for years to come. (I use one of their Departure leather wallets and can report that it's worn in beautifully.) I like the idea of sharing special memories in a brag book, making a date to spend time outdoors with a golf or fishing log, or writing a travel itinerary and wrapping it up with a passport cover and luggage tag.

Is there a more reliable summer hat than one made from panama straw? (The answer is no.) Always hand-woven in Ecuador,

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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Spotify Summertime

Our weird spring weather has blossomed into summer, and a sunny swelter has gripped our city just in time for the longest sultry days of the year. We invite you to enjoy another of our in-store play lists from our Spotify account. It sounds just as good by the pool as it does holed up in an air-conditioned home, and it's appropriate for discerning listeners aged 5 to 95.

Log on, kick back, relax and try to stay cool. If you're looking for a good sun hat to stay shady, swing by and let us hook you up.

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Monday, June 6, 2016

An Ode to Socks

Today's Proper Style Pick from dapper staff member Jake:

Socks and underwear: gifts men typically dread receiving. Too often they are something needed, not wanted.

Recently, though, there's been a revival in sock love. Colors and patterns have reappeared --  much to my liking. As someone who loves color and appreciates quality, I was drawn to these new offerings.

But: I'm hard on my feet, and socks take the brunt of my abuse. I had come to accept that socks never lasted long in my life. 

Then I gave the Lisa B. socks we sell in the shop a try. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you they changed my life. 

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Summertime Chill

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Nick Offerman Can Canoe, Can You?

The sunshine spilling over our waterlogged metropolis is such a welcome sight today. Alas, it seems to be only dropping by for a quick visit and will be replaced by a few days more of grey skies and gross rain. This will undoubtedly put a damper on your big plans for the weekend, so we thought we'd turn you on to a product that might be of some interest to you.

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Spotify Your Life!

I love it when visitors to our shop compliment the music we play. We put together our sets pretty carefully, mixing up genres from the last six or seven decades, so I'm delighted to know folks are enjoying.

It occurs to me that there's no reason you can't enjoy our playlists wherever/whenever desired. Like our sporadically-published, themed playlists on this blog, we're also going to release the store playlists over the next few months. Use a Spotify account and feel free to join the party, starting with week one.


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Thursday, May 5, 2016

A Tale of Love & Mess

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

What Does Mom Want?

The eternal mystery for dads and kids everywhere: WHAT DOES MOM WANT? Still wondering? Here are my top picks, straight from my own mom brain: 1) time with family, 2) no more rain for a bit, and 3) an end to election season. But, golly ...  how to wrap?

I also know that any of these under-$100 goodies would be quite well-received, too. And we happen to be standing by to wrap up for MOM.

1. PRETTY CANDLES, delightfully scented, in beautiful gold or silver-splashed glass jars. (They've quite a nice story behind them, too.) Mom will adore them. Promise.

2. A PERFECT SUMMER DRESS,  made by artisans in fair-trade co-ops in India and Nepal, 100% breathable cotton.  All are washable, darling, and under $100. And: moms love pockets.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

From Senegal with Love

One of our great delights is being able to work with people we admire. In the case of Annica Ojermark Haque, we've had the chance to work with her on both sides of the table: as a member of our own staff a decade ago, and now as the founder/maker of Bapribap, a beautiful collection of hand-sewn African wax print garments that have just arrived in the shop this spring.

We subjected Annica to our PT questionnaire, and, because she is just that wonderful, she found time to answer:

How did you wind up in Senegal?
My husband is a journalist and we were living in Bangladesh before we came here. We wanted to move and had two (largely self engineered) options on the table—Senegal or Cambodia. After much deliberation we decided to go with the what we thought would be the biggest change and the biggest challenge. Unlike many expats I know, we moved on our own, and rather blindly. We are somewhere between expats and immigrants—its been a struggle in many ways but completely worth it. I grew up abroad, and spent my child hood in Africa (on the other side of the continent) so in many ways coming to Senegal felt very natural too.

What inspired you to start Bapribap?
I had always wanted to start a business and I took the move to Senegal as an opportunity to start something new and be open to anything. It can be very freeing to go somewhere where nobody knows you and you see everything with fresh new eyes.

Of course as soon as I saw all of the fabrics it was like I had no choice! I love everything about wax prints and I don’t think I could ever tire of them.
So it was really a combination of being inspired by the fabrics and not knowing where to shop for my daughter (big problem :)). I felt very strongly that these fabrics could fit into the wardrobe of any modern child anywhere on the globe.
Meeting Abi was also essential to being able to start this business and she has been a partner in this since day one. She had just graduated from fashion school so had a lot of the technical knowledge that I lacked and matched me 100% in terms of enthusiasm and that 'can do' feeling.

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Spring in the Air

Rejoice, good people, for spring has sprung in our nation’s capital! Let's throw off the shackles of our wintery layers and woolen socks and wiggle our toes in new grown grass. Trees are flowering, sleeves are shortening and the city's dotted with camera-wielding tourists. The wise horticulturists of the National Park Service predict an early peak for our beloved cherry blossoms, somewhere between March 18th and 23rd. That’s next weekend, friends. Here's a list of springy songs to help prepare us for nature’s annual art show. Each is paired with a favorite quote about Spring. As always, there's a more bountiful collection of songs on the Spotify play list at the bottom of the post.

1. Concerning Past & Future Conquests – Vandaveer

“What a strange thing! To be alive beneath cherry blossoms.” - Kobayashi Issa

2. Springtime – The Michelles
“The sun just touched the morning;
The morning, happy thing,
Supposed that he had come to dwell,
And life would be all spring.”

- Emily Dickinson

3. Mr. Songbird – The Kinks
“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” - Mark Twain

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

To the Women of the World

On International Women's Day, we salute a few of our favorite women-owned businesses. These companies are all committed to employing and empowering women artisans across the globe as well as here in the USA, and, happily, they also produce some of the most delightful goods we stock in the shop: Bapribap (Senegal), Victoria Road (New York and Pakistan), Raven + Lily (Austin and 8 countries), Worldfinds (Chicago, India, Indonesia, and Nepal)  and Mata Traders (Chicago, India and Nepal).

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Signs of Spring

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wonders never cease