Friday, June 8, 2012

The Church Mouse

I have a strong emotional attachment to The Church Mouse thrift shop in Palm Beach - it is the birth place of my passion for all things vintage. At 9 years old, just when I was on the cusp of getting interested in clothes, my step-mother Hilary started taking me with her around to all resale shops. This might seem like quite a normal thing to do now, but at the time, thrifting was not cool, especially in Palm Beach. But Hilary wasn't from there, and she wasn't attached to the idea of having the newest, greatest thing. She was creative - a true original - and sincerely unconcerned with what anyone thought of her. She was in thrift shopping heaven in Palm Beach, where the well-heeled ladies gave away their beautiful clothes and furnishings to benefit the charitable causes they cared about. The epicenter of generous giving was at The Church Mouse, benefitting the Bethesda-By-The-Sea, the church where, in fact, my own parents were married.

Over the years, highlights from my Church Mouse purchases included a black satin Chanel belt with a bow in the back and a gold chain hanging off the buckle in the front, a few long jersey Halston dresses, brown lizard Gucci loafers with a fringe under the horse bit detail, a brown wool Courreges suit from the 60's, and stunning canary yellow Miss Dior feather "chubby." I can't tell you how exhilarating the feeling was walking in there each time, knowing the nearly guaranteed treasures that lay ahead to be discovered. It was too good too be true, and of course it didn't last.

Sometime in the late 90's I was in there towards the end of the August, when my summer savings were running low, and I came across a dead chic Balenciaga leopard jacket for $200. I wanted it so badly. But after a day of reflection I decided it was too expensive. Soon after I recognized my insanity (not that it wasn't too expensive for my budget, because it was, but that I had to find a way to have it anyway). I manically did chores around my dad's house to earn extra money and went back a few weeks later to get the jacket. It was gone.

Almost a year later when I was working as an intern for Patrick Demarchelier, Stephanie Seymour arrived on set one day, and the minute she came on set my heart sank and my eyes widened. She was wearing the Balenciaga jacket from The Church Mouse. I knew then that the Church Mouse wasn't my secret any more, but I still visit there every single time I go to Palm Beach hoping to find a treasure. Sometimes I do.

My nostalgia for The Church Mouse got a boost a few years ago when my Dad sent me some of my grandmother Beatrice's fashion illustrations to include in "I Love Your Style." Tucked into the pile of her drawings was a hand-drawn logo for the Church Mouse and an invitation to its opening in 1970, with the same logo printed on the front. I was delighted to discover that she had played such a meaningful role in its debut.


  1. A leopard Balenciaga jacket - it must have been amazing!! I cannot imagine ever finding something like that in my local thrift, although a few goodies have popped up that were jawdropping bargains.
    Stephanie should send you that jacket if she still has it!

  2. Amanda- I absolutely love reading your super chic blog. You have such an amazing eye for fashion and your posts are a great way to start the day. I recently read your article in The New York Times. I commend you on your decision to move to England. I can only imagine the creativity you will have from this amazing experience.

    When reading the article, I couldn't help but see so many similarities between you and my sister Carrie Livingston. She worked in New York and some of her clients may be many people you both have in common. She has become an internationally renowned Los Angeles based designer. She has worked for leading celebrities, business tycoons and financiers. However, she is a mid-west girl and has stayed very true to her values while still creating a process of design, fashion and beauty in the things that surround her.

    If you ever do a piece on your blog about design and would like some images please do not hesitate to contact me at
    We would love to help you in anyway.

    Thank you for continuing to inspire and create.

    Best Wishes to you on this next journey.

    Katie Komenda