Strait City Trading Co

Strait City Trading Co

(www.StraitCity.com)
PO Box 132, Saginaw, AL 35137

Strait City Trading will be closed Wednesday, November 22 through Sunday November 26, 2017

No shipments will be made. Email and voicemail will be checked. Happy Thanksgiving!

News and Views

City on the Straits from across the Detroit River
View of the "City on the Straits" from across the Detroit River. Photo by Bob Rolfson

Nail Polish Color Daisy

(2011-06-24) A recent issue of WWD Beauty Inc contains a rainbow colored daisy with the petal colors keyed to nail polish colors. rainbow colored daisy. The caption reads, in part
Bright colors lift our spirits, and nail polish is a cheap, fun way to add a splash of energy to your life.

Our idea is that the same goes for a brightly colored fabric belt. Not only are they cheap, but they're also easier to remove than nail polish.

So, just for fun, let us follow the same 11 colors around the flower but match them up with canvas belts instead of nail polish:

  1. silver glitter buckle on lime green web belt
  2. medium green web belt and buckle
  3. aqua military-style cotton blend web belt
  4. river blue military-style canvas belt
  5. royal purple acrylic web belt and buckle
  6. purple military-style cotton blend web belt
  7. lavender military-style cotton blend web belt
  8. silver glitter buckle on risky red web belt
  9. light orange military cotton blend web belt
  10. glittery gold military web belt
  11. black flames buckle on yellow web belt

These belts may be view all together here.

Bright Block Colors

(2011-03-23) The center of the Milky Way is probably closer to us than the catwalks of New York, but we do love color. So Lucie Greene's article in the Financial Times style section caught our eye. Simple bright colors in large patches on designer clothing: Simple bright colors on catwalks. Ms Greene observes
The beauty of this trend is that pieces are predominantly separates, so even beyond the season of neon, canary yellow, vermilion and aqua, it is possible to imagine a time when you can deconstruct and tone down all purchases, thus endowing them with continued relevance. Worn together, though, the look takes gumption.
And if you're lacking that gumption, Ed Burstell, suggests an easier route: color-blocked accessories. Reading this advice, I thought of Fergie's look on Idol last Thursday night: primary colors on earrings and bangles with bright white dress as foil.

A brightly colored belt could work, too. A hot pink canvas belt, hot pink canvas belt or maybe flash green, flash green canvas belt. Or maybe a glossy turquoise leather belt would work: turquoise leather belt.

Subtle Signals

(2010-08-09) The colorful, infamous Candian financier Lord Black was released from prison last month. Photos appeared in the press of him emerging from the courthouse with Barbara Amiel by his side and surrounded by reporters. Here's an example: Barbara Amiel with Chanel scarf.

We were reminded of these photos by a scholarly article that appeared recently regarding the discrete signaling among the fashion cognoscenti. The idea, I guess, is that people use clothing and accessories to signal inclusion in a group. The problem with fashion is that the use of a logo to signal inclusion in an exclusive group is easy enough to counterfeit. One strategy to get around this is to encode the signal in such a way that non-members don't even know it is a signal.

There stands Barbara Amiel in the glaring light of the voracious press with perhaps the most famous logo in the world loudly emblazoned on her scarf. Is she signaling garishly? Personally, I'm reminded of Sigmund Freud; sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And a beautiful scarf is just a scarf. Her business is simply to stand by her husband.

Just a Glimpse

(2010-08-08) We often speak to our customers, but, being on-line, we rarely get to see what they do with their purchases. In spinning the tale of Mark Hurd's demise at Hewlett-Packard, the New York Times included this photo of Jodie Fisher: Jodie Fisher with rhinestone belt.

So there we have an example of what to do with a black rhinestone western belt like the ones we sell here. Faded blue jeans, black leather top–rather different than the (comparative) innocents captured by the Sartorialist below.

The Times article and credits may be found here.

Scott Schuman's wonderful eye

(2009-11-23) Scrolling through the photographs at the Sartorialist is mesmerising. Striking people, exciting colors, cool ideas. A couple of times we thought, "Yes! we can do something like that, too."

For instance there is this guy in Paris: Parisian with mirror buckle from Sartiorialist. OK, maybe the polished mirror buckle and semi-unbuttoned fly are a bit exhibitionist, but you could tone it down a bit like this: gunmetal oval buckle and black leather belt.

Or these rodeo girls in Las Vegas (Nevada, I assume): Las Vegas rodeo girls. The rodeo buckles are kind of big outside the corrals, but you could go from brass to glass: rhinestone belt with Diego Jones oval rhinestone buckle

Online Fashion Discounting

(2009-11-15) A couple weeks ago, the Financial Times ran an article on Vente Privee, one of France's successful internet retailers. A private buying club, Vente Privee employs 1000 people, most in the old La Monde printing plant, now painted pink, surely to the horror of the aristocratic ghosts that remained behind.

Like our company writ (very) large, Vente Privee does everything in house, from web site programming to photography to, apparently, fulfillment. Unlike retailers like us who distribute generic Chinese manufactures, they market designer brands and have Andy Warhol's Mao hanging in the CEO's office: Granjon with Warhol Mao portrait.

Despite all that, there is something familiar and charming in the FT reporter's take on the converted plant:

Endless racks of winter coats, blouses, evening dresses, baby clothes, men's sweaters, shoved into every available space, in the hallways, between desks, on stair landings. Where there are no garments, there are boxes of shoes in precarious piles, children's toys, kitchen blenders, down-filled duvets, angular sofas, lamps.

Far from Paris couture Granjon, the CEO, observes "Brands always talk about image. But really they want to sell large quantities." So much for Mao.

Brave New World of Neuromarketing

(2009-10-18) From the WWD "story of the week" a rather silly article that still manages to send a chill down my spine, recalling images of rats with electrodes protruding from their brains:
Brain scanning is being used to help predict how shoppers will respond to products and shopping environments. And firms ranging from teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co. to The Walt Disney Co. want to encourage the impulse to purchase, partly by stimulating the senses through smells, sound and light.

I'm reminded of an amusing note on Japan I read once. Vending machines for almost everything had become very popular. Apparently people sought respite from the elaborate social rituals involved in even the simplest face-to-face transactions.

It seems that the internet can serve a similar function. Surely, there is no substitute for seeing, touching, even smelling an article of clothing before buying it. But what if you know that scientists behind the scenes have engineered the lighting, piped in seductive sounds, even pumped the article with mind-bending scents, just to incite your desires?

Well, you can shop online. I personally turn off Flash and seek out sites that try harder to convey information than to manipulate me. And they are definitely out there; from big names to mom-and-pops, many websites are getting better at helping the visitor "see" their wares. Sometimes information really does want to be free.

Brand Names and Our Assumptions

(2009-09-06) An article Wiggling Their Toes at the Shoe Giants appeared last weekend in the New York Times. At the time, in memory of all the conversations I've overheard concening footwear for runners, I just chuckled and assumed a more benign attitude towards my older pairs. But then it struck me how this is a perfect case study of name brands in today's marketplace.

Psychologically, brands are the familiar faces in an otherwise bewildering universe of merchants shopping their wares. More than simply fashion, a brand can invite trust. The big running shoe companies certainly established such a position. Remember the Reebok commercials with guys in white coats?

Now, all we thought we knew about the benefits of running shoes, maybe we don't know at all:

But for all the technological advances promoted by the industry--the roll bars, the computer chips and the memory foam--experts say the injury rate among runners is virtually unchanged since the 1970s, when the modern running shoe was introduced. Some ailments, like those involving the knee and Achilles tendon, have increased.
Suddenly, it seems the face we trusted was just playing us.

This relates to what we do here at Strait City Trading. For the most part we offer simple clothing accessories, and none of them bear a well-known brand name. We can offer lower prices as a result, that's true, but at the same time we impose on the customer's trust. However, with brand names abusing customers' trust, it seems, at the very least, that the choices are not so stark.

Arts and Crafts Belts

(2009-01-26) From the NYT Pulse column by K Nelson, a wave of creative fantasy in couture belts. One photo of a collage belt from a Marc Jacobs model; wrap some cool band about waist and tie off with cord: Jacobs collage belt. Doesn't seem very practical, does it?

More believable are the belts in the second photo: Arst and crafts belts. Part vintage and part "artsy", still some striking ideas in color and texture.

Proper credits at this NYT permalink.

The Price of Imports from China

(2008-12-11) Trade with China has been much in the news this year, but the seminal publication this year has been The China Price by Alexandra Harney. Ms Harney went to great lengths to get information about economic activity in China that heretofore has been suppressed by China's government.

What emerges is a multi-faceted picture of a developing economy in the context of Chinese culture. In order to compete globally with low prices, China needs cheap labor. At the same time, China needs imaginative entrepreneurs and soundly engineered infrastructure in order to get goods to market. The former needs strong social stratification for a large pool of compliant labor while the latter needs a more flexible, educated and open society. These conflicting forces are beautifully illustrated by the story of young girls in a factory dormitory, one of whom leaves the factory and succeeds as a real estate salesman.

Ms Harney visited numerous other stress points of China's rapidly changing economy: wildcat coal mines, shadow factories, occupational health and safety advocacy centers. She studied the conflicts of the Chinese government, at once charged with attracting business and protecting its citizens, and of global corporations like Walmart and Timberland, who are driven by their customer base (us) both to pursue the lowest producer prices ruthlessly and, at the same time, to demand humane treatment of factory workers.

These issues affect all of us, but at Strait City Trading we have a more immediate view than most. Even the factories in Taiwan and South Korea that we buy from must operate knowing how easy it is to lose their business to China. When we pack an inexpensive accessory for a domestic customer, we understand the double-edged sword that made it possible. On one hand there is the young factory girl working interminable hours under marginal conditions, and on the other hand, global trade has lifted so many out of poverty.

Buckles Reveal Secret Narrative

(2008-05-09) Costumes of comic book superheroes, or their interpretations, are now on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Marking the occasion, an accompanying essay by Michael Chabon has appeared in the New Yorker and the Financial Times and in the Met's own publication.

The idea of the superhero's costume, explains Chabon, is to help conceal his origin. But,

no matter how well he hides its traces, the secret narrative of transformation, of rebirth from the confines of the ordinary, is given up by the costume. Often the secret narrative is hinted at with a kind of enigmatic, dreamlike obviousness right on the hero's chest or belt buckle, in the form of the requisite insignia. Superman's "S" shield only coincidentally stands for Superman: In fact the emblem is the coat of arms of the ancient Kryptonian House of El from which he descends.
Oops. Perhaps you, too, cannot resist the urge to let slip some hint your secret, superheroic hidden self: belt buckle for superhero.

The WSJ on stylish men's belts

(2008-04-21) The Wall Street Journal has offered some advice to help men update their belt wardrobe. According to Teri Agins (April 17), men's belts can be a fashion accessory that can provide a stylish fillip to a look. He suggests that
the garden-variety smooth leather styles with a thin brass buckle are too pedestrian nowadays. Instead, try belts with some kind of surface relief -- such as lizard, crocodile, ostrich or embossed leathers that resemble exotic skins.
To add a little spice to your look he suggests a contrasting rather than matching color for a belt, a dark burgandy belt can give a lift to a navy pinstripe suit, for instance. He mentions braided leather belts for khakis or colorful web belts that accent polo knit shirts.

So he's got you nodding along, I mean how rad is a braided leather belt? But then he mentions how Fred Astaire would wear silk neckties as belts to "impart a kicky look". Whoa! Who is this Teri Agins? I've seen neckties about the waist in Brooks Brothers, but the mannequins were decidedly feminine. But, ahem, I digress.

One might also consider new styles of buckles, perhaps a different metal (silver, distressed brass), perhaps a different shape (octagons, ovals), but avoid the designer logos. So toss out those worn-out belts and start building a wardrobe with a variety of styles and colors.

His article is accompanied with a photo from Nordstrom of several nice belts: belts at Nordstroms. And you will indeed find some very nice belts there. Then again maybe you're like me a few years back. Got my first job and immediately went to Nordstrom's in Fashion Island, Newport Beach and bought some clothes, including a nectie with the Yves Saint Laurent designer logo. My new boss, Perry K., immediately teased me, "We're not paying you enough to buy those clothes".

Well, if your boss isn't paying you enough to shop at Nordstroms, and you'd still like to reload your belt wardrobe, you might like to look at some of Strait City's men's leather belts.

Color, Lies and Digital Cameras

(2008-03-25) Big box stores and name brands may yet take over the world, but there is still an amazing power in a few technologies that have found their way into the hands of individuals. For us it has been the computer, the internet and the digital camera.

Our website and myriads like it, not to mention the behemoths like E-bay, are premised on a very simple idea: use a digital camera and descriptions to market products through the internet. Images are to be faithful representations of the product for sale. For better or worse, mass market cameras, like our politicians, temper truth with flattery. This is not usually a problem, but sometimes it is.

Our particular bugaboo has been the inexpensive olive green web belt. Starting out with our trusty Kodak DC4800, we just kept getting brown when we knew the color was olive. Iterations of camera settings and light sources, and even a move to more expensive Nikon SLR's just never changed brown back to olive.

Then finally, a light broke, so to speak. The Pantone bridge guide provides a palette of colors, each with the combination of red, green and blue that will reproduce it. That allows us to analyze the camera's "improvement" of the color space near a color of interest, like olive. A good pro/am camera like the Nikon then provides enough flexibility to nudge the color back to where it ought to be.

Voila! Olive: olive green web belt

See Red, fight HIV

(2008-02-13) OK, we ragged Damien Hirst just a little too much, and now I've got to take it back, well most of it any way (I'm sure he feels better now). I just read Peter Aspden's "Culture" column in the FT where he relates his visit with expressionist painter Howard Hodgkin. Sir Hodgkin, is one of the artists who have donated a painting to (AUCTION) Red at Sotheby's New York, Valentine's day. Take a look; it's quite appealing: House by Howard Hodgkin

The proceeds from the auction go towards support of HIV/Aids programs in Africa, and the auction is being organized by Damien Hirst and Bono. Aspden says of Hodgkin, who is 75, that he speaks "quietly, with deliberation and with the deadpan humor that only really makes itself felt in reminiscence." And Hodgkin of Hirst "I am sure he is not an opportunist. He seems to me someone who believes in art. You can't do those things cynically."

Much Maligned Stretchy Belts

(2007-11-21) One of our best selling products, the stretchy belt, just can't get respect. We frequently get calls from customers saying they were glad to find our stretch belts for sale online since they had not been able to find them in the stores.

No wonder.

Perhaps "Agent Booth" in the TV series "Bones" captured the problem. He was reminiscing on his high-school days and how cruel kids could be. In one vivid vignette, he described an outcast as wearing his father's "stretchy belts".

In real life, my own relatives have mocked our stalwart belts by pretending to use them as exercise bungee cords. On one occasion, dear friends came to visit, leaving with a few samples, and we got this wonderful card back from their young son who is already a fine designer/draftsman. Front: uses of a belt card, front. Inside: uses of a belt card, inside.

That's better. Moreover, we've had a yoga instructor offer testimonial that stretchy belts are not just comfortable but may even lead to better health by allowing freer breathing. At least he helped us breathe easier!

South Beach Glitter & Leather

(2007-11-04) Recently, we a boutique window shopping stroll along Lincoln Road Mall and Washington Avenue in South Beach. Oversize glittering skulls are still grinning from most every "local scene" display: skulls & leather in So Be display. So the Damien Hirst phenomenon is still running strong among the glitterati. HOWEVER, there are fissures. Double oversized dragons have entered store windows as have the fleur-de-lis buckles (not to mention the strange resurgence of the large black and white houndstooth): dragons and fleur-de-lis in So Be display. Seems strange this symbol of the Sun King and even scouting should surface here, but it's common enough that we have it too: fleur-de-lis rhinestone buckle.

Belting it out

(2007-10-31) Tatiana Boncompagni caught us up on belts in fashion in the FT weekend edition (10/26/07), although the feature photo of Jemima Khan in a "chastity belt" gave us some serious eye roll: Jemima Khan in chastity belt Still, there were some nice quotes.

"A belt controls all that volume a little bit. You need to have something to show there is the body underneath. People work out; they want to show they have a body even if the look is more voluminous," according to Valerie Steele.

Or, from Peter Som, "Belts are great for defining the new body-conscious silhouette thats becoming prevalent. Also, the addition of hardware on the belt gives an outfit that air of tough chic." And, no, he isn't credited for the chastity belt.

However, belts can go wrong, or, as Santiago Gonzalez puts it: "You need to be tall if you are wearing a really thick belt. Otherwise it will cut you in half." The remedy? Clear plastic! clear PVC guitar buckle fashion belt. "It highlights the waist but in a subtle way, like you're painting a gloss over it. And this way you aren't chopping the torso in two, says Anait Bian.

And finally, "I put a belt on with just about everything," says Amanda Miller. "They're like jewellery. They're the finishing touch."

Primary Colors

(2007-08-22) Well, it's official now. Simple, bright colors are in style. Here WWD shows primary colors Women's Wear Daily gives its imprimatur to brightly colored accessories.

Seriously, you can't get Ferragamo or Choo or Rossi here, but you can get some of those brightly colored fashion belts you've been seeing around: bright red fashion slouch belt. And you can do it for very little of the other primary color, green.

Diamonds and Dust

(2007-06-06) Ah, popular culture! First, rhinestone encrusted jolly roger belt buckles started showing up. Here're a couple: rhinestone encrusted jolly roger belt buckle. Completely over the top to my jaded eye. Then it seemed a jewelled skull accessory of every imaginable kind was to be found in every edgy South Beach boutique. It was all leading somewhere, wasn't it? Why, yes! To Damien Hirst's 'For the Love of God', a diamond-paved platinum cast of an authentic human skull with genuine human pearlies: For the Love of God. Happily, no blood diamonds were used, just sweat and tears.

Addendum: Look what showed up in the "underground" buckle market! It's not platinum; there are no diamonds; there are no real teeth; no actual human skull was used in casting. But it's got the idea, eh? rhinestone for the love of god skull buckle

May Charm

(2007-05-02) We've seen it twice, so we declare it to be a trend. Tiffany Company is selling charms right now; in particular they suggest a charm on your belt scarf or belt loop and illustrate with this New Yorker-ish drawing: Tiffany belt scarf with charm The local J. Crew window display also suggests a striped black and white sash belt to accessorize their "little black dress".

So there it is; striped belt scarves and sash belts are fashionable, and we've got 'em. Striped belt scarves are here:blue and white candycane belt scarf and striped skinny scarves are here: slim black and white scarf worn as a sash belt.

Taytu, out of Africa

(2007-03-13) Where do new design ideas come from? In this seasons Business of Fashion supplement to the Financial Times, Venessa Friedman relates the strange confluence of luxury houses and impoverished Ethiopian collectives. It started with a collaboration between the World Trade Organization and the United Nations Trade and Development Conference. They launched an African accessories company, Taytu, and hired Simon Cipriani to run it. His philosophy: "There is no way Africa can catch up with Asia, you need to work with what's there." He illustrated his point with this story:
We were looking for some women to do traditional embroideries on leather, and we found a collective in a very poor village. They said, "But we embroider textiles, not leather" They had never even heard the word "training"--forget going to this big training center. So, our designer went to them and after a few weeks they became more confident and said, "OK."

The results--pliable leather bags with leather floral fretwork appliqued and dripping off the sides; tie-dyed leather clutches; and black geometric embroidered pieces so hard-edged cool they look like they belong on the Givenchy catwalk--were taken to the Premiere Vision trade fair in Paris.

You can see some of these designs yourself as Taytu has its own website; just click here: taytu.com

Handbag Size and Class

(2007-02-28) Vanessa Friedman at the Financial Times shared a few personal remarks about handbags that resonated with us at Strait City. She starts with an observation, "Recently I have realised that powerful women carry either small bags or no bag at all," and cites women on the world stage like Hillary Clinton and Condoleeza Rice as evidence.

In contrast, she admits to having an enormous bag filled with

1) the essentials of life (wallet, bus pass, keys, phone); 2) various work papers; 3) a book to read on the train; 4) sneakers/work shoes; 5) make-up bag; 6) jewellery to dress up work clothes; 7) scarf; and 8) umbrella. During fashion-show time, when I often leave the house at 8am and return around 10pm, I also carry snacks, water, show tickets, schedules, maps and so on.
She is quite aware the other half looks down on such behavior, paraphrasing (disguising?) a New York socialite who finds these "fashion people with their big power bags" so distasteful she carries only a little envelope in pointed contradistinction. Ms Friedmans rejoinder?
Don't you know they are carrying around these bags because, unlike you, they have no town-car/butler/flunky, and must carry their lives on their shoulders!

There isn't much we can add to that except to note that, clownish caricatures seen on the occasional Hollywood starlet notwithstanding, larger totes like these leopard print belt on black are favored by customers at Strait City Trading Co.

Leopard Print: Chic or Tacky?

(2007-01-13) An article "How to wear leopard print" appeared in Marie Claire, November 2006, complete with photos of Debbie Harry, Britt Ekland and this famous one of Marilyn Monroe with Joltin' Joe Monroe in leopard print scarf, all decked out in leopard print. Their comment:
If ever there was a look that walked the fine line between chic and tacky, it's leopard print. Seen on the catwalks at Louis Vuitton, Prada and Luella, it can be distinctive and sassy. leopard print from Alexander McQueen For a subtle take, add a leopard-print accessory to a grown-up ensemble. For something bolder, but still elegant, try one of the season's printed coats. Worn well, leopard print is the last word in retro glam.

This page in Marie Claire caught our eye not only because it displayed an attractive ensemble featuring dark jacket and pants with a leopard print belt not unlike the one we offer leopard print belt on black, but also because it illustrated how the Atlantic is also a cultural divide. I somehow imagined the more reserved Brits seeing more colorful American tastes as, well, a bit tacky.

Fashion on the Cheap?: Where new synthetics and efficiency get you.

(2006-11-29) A stylish leather belt at Michael Kors' caught our attention this week. More because we have a similar belt than intrinsic beauty, admittedly. We mention it here because of how nicely it crystalizes the trade-off the budget-minded shopper faces these days.

First take a quick look at what we mean: here is a photo of the belt from the Michael Kors site: michael kors' leather loop belt, and here is a photo of the similar belt we sell:chinese synth leather loop belt

The Michael Kors belt promises all the sensuality of leather, but ours sells for less than a twentieth the price ($250 vs. $12 see here). Yes, leather hide lasts longer, but just how long does one need a belt like that to last? I, myself, often marvel at the nice leather-like textures modern chemistry has provided, and like most people, I am still coming to grips with the meaning of the economies of scale the Chinese industrial revolution has spearheaded.

Modernity in a fashion belt...

Chain belts follow trend: Even chain belts worn low on hip?

(2006-11-26) What is a woman to do? Belts are definitely fashionable accessories these days. Chain belts are certainly an attractive possibility when an outfit needs a bit of flash, especially with new designs, new combinations of metal and plastic and leather, even new materials like our new aluminum chain belts. On the other hand, belts are riding lower and lower on girls' hips these days while chain belts traditionally depend on the hips for support.

Here's one approach sent over by the good people at Max 969: chain belts worn low on hip. Although, the photo is obviously staged, our consultants say wearing chain belts so low is just fine. What do others think and see?

Lonelygirl15 revealed!: She wears a polka dot scarf.

(2006-09-13) The New York Times reported yesterday that the woman who plays lonelygirl15 has been identified as Jessica Rose. If you go there (and register!) you can see a true life picture of Ms Rose. And what is she wearing? A black scarf with white polka dots! Internal links to the Times go bad fast, so we've asked Leslie to stand in: Leslie as Jessica Rose wearing polka dot scarf. (A mannequin standing in for a stand-in for a fictional girl...)

A good hoax might help keep people realistic about the internet, both about how people can be duped and, more seriously, about how difficult it is even the net savvy to protect their privacy.

You can see out polka dot belt scarves here.

Mix and Max Design: Bags are big this autumn, literally.

(2006-08-31) So what to do with all that real estate? We had been thinking, "pick a motif," like maybe a quilted texture like here, maybe a big decorative zipper or two like here, or maybe an eye-catching flap closure like here. But, for those to the manor born, Burberry lets you have it all: burberry bag with quilt, zipper and flap.

Buckles and Shorts: Designer Paul Smith puts big buckle belt with shorts.

(2006-07-04) It's summer and it's hot, but you can still look cool with your big buckle belt; put it on a pair of shorts: Designers Paul Smith, Neil Barrett, Louis Vuitton put belts with their shorts. This image, stolen shamelessly from the FT, shows how Paul Smith envisions it. He recommends, according to FT's Damian Foxe, navy shorts for a restaurant lunch, white or beige for poolside or boat. Neil Barret, former head of men's wear a Prada, says his designs work "equally well worn with a linen or cotton blazer, a white shirt, leather belt and smart lace-up shoes".

OK, so you're not going to drop $200 on a pair of shorts. But if you watched Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada you might think even ordinary people on a tight budget can grab the ideas they like. You can also grab one of our new big buckle belts and see if the idea works for you. Why not?

Tying Ties and Scarves: Chance vs. science.

(2006-06-08) Some of our visitors come looking for ways to tie scarves, so we thought we'd pass along some quotes from Vanessa Friedman's recent article Scarf Secrets in the FT. She starts provocatively, "The scarf has to be one of the most inexplicably intimidating and problematic accessories in the fashion world," then asks rhetorically, "how in hell do you tie the damn things in that I-just-threw-it-on way? And how do you get them to stay tied, so you're not continually fiddling?" Explaining, she describes how a stylist from British Vogue had worn a scarf, it was a "black pashmina, it was twisted in some incredibly intricate but effortless way around her neck. It was Scarf Ideal, Scarf Utopia."

Then she describes her own serendipity. Running late she was unable to tie her scarf carefully; instead "I tossed one around my neck and sped out the door. The scarf slipped. I tossed. It slipped. I tossed. And so on. I didn't think about my scarf until, walking out of the restaurant, I caught sight of myself in a mirror. My scarf was perfect!"

Her conclusion?

There's no right way to tie a scarf. Believe you do it right, and so will everyone else. That's why French women, who often project an I-look-fabulous message so effectively that it seems impolite to doubt them, appear to have solved the scarf issue. They don't sweat the twists. And here's another thing: you don't have to twist at all; you can just drape, like an undone tie.

Of course, there is the other extreme. A few years back a couple of physicists mathematically analyzed tie tying and proved definitively there are exactly 85 different necktie knots. This diagram above is one of their discoveries: St. Andrew knot tying diagram.

The Brits view handbags differently

(2006-05-30) "Mrs. Moneypenny" writes a column about life and work for the weekend section of Britain's Financial Times. Recently she recounted how a reader from New York had castigated her for spending less than five minutes to choose a handbag and told her handbags were far more topical stateside. "No kidding!" mused Mrs. Moneypenny, observing that handbags are big business in the US as illustrated by Coach Inc. Coach, mainly a handbag company, had sales last year of $1.7 billion and enjoys a market capitalization of $13 billion.

Mrs. Moneypenny appears to have only one and she wonders of Americans "What are you doing with them all?" Her handbag advisor suggests keeping handbag contents in baggies to facilitate changing purses, but she remains unconvinced even this time saving trick makes it worth it.

As yet another illustration, according to the same FT issue, one may find more of Ipanema than Chelsea in the Biondi boutique off the King's Road. They appear to be outfitters for tropics-bound British globe-trotters, but the handbag above, thrust to the foreground in a photo of the shop, suggests there are cultural as well as value differences between British and American women.

On the other hand, the Vani purses that we stock at Strait City Trading illustrate the culture across the Pacific studying American women's passion for purses. These handbags seem quite practical in terms of space, material and construction. And the ornamentation seems like a study in American motifs: conchos, fringe, rawhide binding, buckles, chains--artifacts of the wild west, the high seas, and the open road.

American Idol and the iron cross:

(2006-05-08) Did you see Chris Daughtry sporting the iron cross buckle on American Idol May 2, 2006? We sell a version in our "big buckles" section. His looked completely metallic while our buckle has the traditional black interior and shiny edge (see the wiki article referred to below).

Strange symbol, that cross, resonant of medieval chivalry, Riefenstahl's heaving Nazism, and modern day bikers and rockers. Wikipedia has a nice historical review of the cross here.

And if you liked Paris Bennett's midriff butterfly, you might also like our butterfly buckle belt.

D-ring belts go high fashion:

(2006-03-19) Spotted in the Financial Times "How to Spend It" March '06 Fashion Supplement, in a Bottega Veneta layout, a handsome young model wearing a D-ring belt with jacket and tie. You can see the whole picture on line at their beautiful Flash site, bottegaveneta.com, (and maybe pop for a $260 wallet while you're there). That's the genius of the good fashion designers, taking simple everyday clothing objects and combining them in surprising and attractive ways.

Welcome to town, Leslie! New model, , signs on at Strait City Trading Company.

(2006-02-08) We brought her on to promote using our belt scarves as head scarves. She was a little "stiff" at first, caught in the glare of the lights here at high octane Strait City Trading, but she has had her moments. In this candid photo, caught during a shoot with Crooked River's Canon EOS Digital Rebel, she dons Crooked River's Michigan Tech cap, sweat stains and all. Yes, he took it back, and, no, it's not for sale.

Shipping News: New, cheaper, First-Class shipping option.

(2006-01-24) When you'd like to grab a quick, useful belt or scarf from the internet, how many times do you look at the shipping and say, "I don't care if it is useful, pretty, etc., I'm just not going to pay that much to mail a small item?"

Well, now we've got some relief for you at Strait City Trading. We are now offering shipping by regular mail. This can represent a significant savings for orders of one or two items. Read about our new shipping options here. You'll also see them presented automatically when you go through checkout.

Chain Gang: One score new chain belts arrive; prices slashed.

(2006-01-16) Chains make popular clothing accessories. Think about it. Guys often like heavy chain necklaces and key chains, and girls often like chains about their waists. Not all that glitters is gold, but we still like the glint and gleam that a chain can add to an outfit.

Well, we have just received a new shipment of chain belts for women. We have ropes and links chain belts, letters and mesh chain belts, rings and ovals chain belts. They won't be her long, though, because we slashed our prices and they are going to fly right back out the door!

One thing leads to another. It's the chain of events...

Postage Up, Belts Down: Postage rates rise while belt prices tumble.

(2006-01-11) You knew it was coming--with fuel prices skyrocketing, the Post Office was going to have to raise its rates. We don't own an oil well (worked on them, though) so we've tightened our own belts and reduced prices. We've reduced prices on sequin belts, pleather belts, belt scarves, and big buckle belts.

Prepared for New Year: New products, new server for Strait City Trading Company.

(2005-12-31) We've had a busy year-end here at Strait City Trading. Thanks to our customers, and a healthy, happy, prosperous new year to all our friends out there!

Spice of life: we've added a gallery of wildlife photographs by Bob Rolfson.

(2005-11-07) For some time Mr. Rolfson has let us use his cross river photograph of Detroit, the city on the straits, to grace our news & views page. We think it makes a visit to our site more pleasant. Now, Mr. Rolfson has agreed to let us post a small gallery of his wildlife photographs. Enjoy!

Cage Match! Elastic braided fabric belts from Strait City and Walmart compared head-to-head: elastic braided fabric belts from Walmart and Strait City

(2005-11-02) Many things are easy to do over the internet, like making travel reservations orchecking the weather. Some things the internet just hasn't helped with yet, like finding extraterrestrial life. Some things are needlessly hard, like comparing products from two different stores.

You know the dance. Very similar products from the same manufacturer appear on two different websites, but, lo!, they have different model numbers. What does the expensive model have that the cheaper model is missing? Probably not much. I'm looking forward to getting a copy of The Undercover Economist to understand all this better myself.

But what if internet merchants voluntarily put their products side by side? Like a voluntary Consumer Reports? We here at Strait City Trading are giving it a try. We're putting up our best selling elastic braided fabric belts against those we found at the behemoth of retailing. The result? As you might expect, there are trade-offs. But more than that, we put the belts side-by-side in a number of contexts so the customer can make an informed decision.

On the internet. Amazing.

New military-style web belts new cotton khaki military belt, lower prices.

(2005-10-20) Our new shipment of military web belts has been photographed and posted. It wouldn't have happened this soon without help from Leon "Crooked River" B. Well, actually, fate played a part, too. Leon and I were riding our mountain bikes on the Blue Trail at Island Lake State Park and both our bikes broke. So after a trip to the bike shop, and fun at an end, Leon came to the studio and together we got the new belts through production.

There are new cotton military web belts, new solid color military web belts, and new patterned military web belts, including new stripes, prints, and camoflage.

Prices on our standard military web belts have been reduced to $4.50, and D-ring belts have been reduced to $5.50. Factoring in our low shipping costs, and our careful display, this makes Strait City Trading Company one of the best deals on the web.

Belt Scarves or Scarf Belts? Depends on how you wear them.

(2005-09-20) A colorful fabric belt? Then you have a scarf belt. A long and narrow scarf to wear around your neck or hair? Then it's a belt scarf. Either way, we've just completed our new display of more than a hundred styles. Some are new, some just have a new presentation. For either new styles or standards, start here for chiffon, here for satin, or here for sequins.

Life Belt: life belt Some belts are more important than others.

(2005-09-05) I thought we were under water here at Strait City Trading Co. How stupid! Throw a life-belt to the people along the Gulf Coast. Start with the Salvation Army or the Red Cross.

Recent Changes at Strait City Trading Co: Like Jakob Bernoulli, "Though changed I shall arise the same".

(2005-09-03) We have experienced big changes in our supply process. On the bright side, we have some beautiful new chiffon belt scarves and satin belt scarves. Some are already on-line while others will be added daily.

Demise of the dress shop, a look at changing shopping habits in the Times.

(2005-08-03) Michelle Slatalla wrote this article reminiscing about her mother's dress buying and recounting her own experience buying from edressme.com. Of course, it is hardly reflective of shopping on-line--she was able to call the site's founder for advice (she didn't tell them she was with the Times did she?) and, most incredibly, a dress designer brought a dress to her doorstep within two hours of receiving an order! Still, her experience instills optimism that humans and e-commerce can co-exist.

What is it with sequins? 7 more color swatches of sequin stretch belts.

(2005-07-07) We're not advertising right now, but customers are still finding these belts. Truth is, we can't keep the sequin stretch belts in the warehouse, so I'm just putting up swatches of our colors. We'll probably be out of some of them tomorrow, I'm told, so don't dawdle if you see a color you like!

All that glitters: 3 new sequin sash belts now on-line

(2005-07-02) Black, gold, and silver with shiny sequins and 6 feet long. It's a long neck scarf; it's an audacious sash belt.

Showing our colors: 5 more colorful D ring belts available

(2005-06-30) D-ring belts are very popular. Look, for example, at the spring J. Crew catalog or check out their website for a big display and lots of ideas for combining D-ring belts with the rest of your casual wardrobe. Of course, if you found Strait City, you're probably thinking you don't have to pay $15-$30 for a simple but colorful D-ring belt. And you're right, you don't. Have a look.

15 new military web belts have been added.

(2005-05-26) We've been getting new styles and colors. We ran out of turquoise so that leaves 39 to choose from. Most of the new styles are multi-colored striped web belts, but we've also got a new belt for horticulturists.

The perfect swing: new golf motif web belt.

(2005-05-10) Head for the links! We've found a new source for this popular golfing web belt with improved leather tabs.

David Sedaris comments on the suitability of belts as gifts in the New Yorker Magazine

(2005-04-20) Seen in the New Yorker Magazine, April 18, 2005. David Sedaris is fantasizing leaving his companion and mentions
the tan-colored belt he gave me for my thirty-third birthday, back when we first met and he did not yet understand that a belt is something you get from your aunt, and not from your boyfriend, I don't care who made it.
We respectfully beg to differ, and, suggest that a belt makes a wonderful gift in any number of situations.

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