A Day In Seattle

Here’s How I spent 24 hours alone in seattle.

In between Shoe School and a week in Vancouver, BC, I had a 24-hour stopover in Seattle where I got to do what I do best: traipse around a place on foot, with no companions. I was able to stop whenever I felt like it to take a picture without worrying that I was annoying anybody with all the dawdling. Best of all was the solo-shopping — yes I shopped! — with no one hurrying me along or silently judging my choices.


looking around

Having never been to Seattle, I was surprised by how much I liked it! I didn’t stray far from Pioneer Square, Capitol Hill, and the expanse of city in between those neighborhoods, but I still managed to pack in quite a bit of exciting architecture and art.

Seattle’s hilly terrain meant lots and lots of terraced concrete, walls, and gardens. I love the look of these stepped surfaces and the way the ground slopes on by. Lots of acute angles and surprising geometry to please the eye.

Some yellow-striped angles.

Some yellow-striped angles.

This series of bars on a slope.

This series of bars on a slope.

A gorgeously detailed maintenance hole cover.

A gorgeously detailed maintenance hole cover.

These plants pressed against a windowpane.

These plants pressed against a windowpane.

So much greenery. Love how this awning emerges from the canopy of leaves.

So much greenery. Love how this awning emerges from the canopy of leaves.

Excellent masonry details.

Excellent masonry details.

The vertical lines of siding, the grid of tiles, the boarded up windows, all rendered in cloud white.

The vertical lines of siding, the grid of tiles, the boarded up windows, all rendered in cloud white.

How each mass of building sits on its own chunk of foundation. Squares of blue paint on the terraced brick.

How each mass of building sits on its own chunk of foundation. Squares of blue paint on the terraced brick.

Bands of brick separating bands of glass.

Bands of brick separating bands of glass.

More terraced gardens descending the sloped street.

More terraced gardens descending the sloped street.

This funny over-grown hedge.

This funny over-grown hedge.

The screen-printed wave pattern on this Seattle bus shelter

The screen-printed wave pattern on this Seattle bus shelter

Another maintenance hole grate I admired for its linear pattern.

Another maintenance hole grate I admired for its linear pattern.


Shopping

Yes, I shopped! My favorite kind of souvenir is something I can take home and wear and remember where it came from each time I wear it, so before my arrival, I mapped out a slew of interesting-looking boutiques and vintage shops. But once in the city, I left room for chance.

My top two clothing spots in Seattle were Velouria in Pioneer Square (very approachable and friendly staff, featuring many sustainable and made-in-North America brands, with a wide variety of price points including more affordable sub-$100 pieces) and Totokaelo in Capitol Hill (also a friendly staff, but much higher price points and a high-end, minimal, designer-y feel). Both these places have online shops, but nothing beats shopping in person — touching fabrics, trying them on.

At Totokaelo especially, I was able to touch and try expensive things that until now I’ve only drooled over in photos. Especially on the heels of shoe school (yeah I said it 😂) I reveled in the opportunity to inspect high end shoes closely, to turn them over in my hands, to note the quality of stitching or other design details I found myself appreciating. And oftentimes when you actually try on something you’ve admired from afar you can immediately be like, No this doesn’t actually work, and POOF no more desiring that one thing. Or if you try it and are like YES MUST HAVE THIS, but know they are not in your budget right now (yes shoes can be expensive but worth it but also I have new thoughts on this re: affordability; to be continued), at the very least you can go home and save up or wait for a sale or find it secondhand, and now you know your sizing!

The vintage shops I visited left me mostly disappointed. They were OK, but didn't carry anything I could see myself wearing, even with modifications. I guess I've just lost my taste for the wild-patterned polyester kind of vintage that most shops trade in these days.

Velouria is a clothes & accessories boutique that carries lots of sustainable and ethical brands and has a more relaxed, playful feel overall.

Velouria is a clothes & accessories boutique that carries lots of sustainable and ethical brands and has a more relaxed, playful feel overall.

Tried on A LOT at Velouria, but this Jungmaven striped tee dress checked off an item from my wishlist — an easy, loose, office-appropriate everyday dress. Glad I know this brand now!

Tried on A LOT at Velouria, but this Jungmaven striped tee dress checked off an item from my wishlist — an easy, loose, office-appropriate everyday dress. Glad I know this brand now!

Also at Velouria, I discovered these Jennifer Glasgow tencel pants which were just dreamy. Big pockets, beautiful drape, breezey but polished with a little bit of elastic at each hip for a comfortable wear. I bought them, then went back to my AirBNB to change into them for the rest of my day. They also checked off a long-standing box, the one for a super lighterweight and comfortable non-jeans summer pant.

Also at Velouria, I discovered these Jennifer Glasgow tencel pants which were just dreamy. Big pockets, beautiful drape, breezey but polished with a little bit of elastic at each hip for a comfortable wear. I bought them, then went back to my AirBNB to change into them for the rest of my day. They also checked off a long-standing box, the one for a super lighterweight and comfortable non-jeans summer pant.

I LOVED this half-painted oak chair in the Velouria fitting room. Major inspiration for a DIY project on some chairs in my own life…

I LOVED this half-painted oak chair in the Velouria fitting room. Major inspiration for a DIY project on some chairs in my own life…


Totokaelo was a minimal dream, but wow the prices!  😵

Totokaelo was a minimal dream, but wow the prices! 😵

Shoe-spiration at Totokaelo. So many gorgeous and quirky pairs to choose from. I loved a pair of simple Robert Clergerie black slides.

Shoe-spiration at Totokaelo. So many gorgeous and quirky pairs to choose from. I loved a pair of simple Robert Clergerie black slides.

I tried on a pair of Gray Matters Mildred block heels that I’ve been in love with for years and found they were just as beautiful in person as you’d think. These are on my One Day wish list — size 40 please.

I tried on a pair of Gray Matters Mildred block heels that I’ve been in love with for years and found they were just as beautiful in person as you’d think. These are on my One Day wish list — size 40 please.

I loved these fluted glasses at Totokaelo. The ridges were actually on the inside, so there was a deceptive contrast between perceived texture and tactile smoothness. They felt light and delicate but caught the light like cut glass.

I loved these fluted glasses at Totokaelo. The ridges were actually on the inside, so there was a deceptive contrast between perceived texture and tactile smoothness. They felt light and delicate but caught the light like cut glass.

Even Totokaelo’s fitting room was cool and minimal.

Even Totokaelo’s fitting room was cool and minimal.

A design detail from the Totokaelo fitting room.

A design detail from the Totokaelo fitting room.

Fell in love with this silky rayon gingham dress by Ganni… yes I took it home. I think I've shared more photos from Totokaelo than from anything else I saw in Seattle so sorry but not sorry, that place is awesome.

Fell in love with this silky rayon gingham dress by Ganni… yes I took it home. I think I've shared more photos from Totokaelo than from anything else I saw in Seattle so sorry but not sorry, that place is awesome.


One of my serendipitous finds was Homestead in Capitol Hill. Perhaps even more so than a clothing store, you have to really visit a furnishings and home store in person to get the full idea of what they are peddling. Online, you might see a photo of an individual item on a white background. But moving through a three-dimensional space, you can experience it in a real setting, see it from all sides, feel the cool of marble or the nubby weave of a cushion. I love good design wherever I can find it. Unfortunately, it’s hard to fit a loveseat in your carry-on 😆

Banks of windows made Homestead a beautiful place to showcase all their plants and home goods. If I lived here, I might have bought one of the interesting plants.

Banks of windows made Homestead a beautiful place to showcase all their plants and home goods. If I lived here, I might have bought one of the interesting plants.

Or this six-sided marble plant stand!

Or this six-sided marble plant stand!


Art

I knew I wanted to hit up a good art museum during my 24 hours in Seattle, and I settled on the Frye Art Museum for two reasons: because it was right between my two main neighborhoods (Pioneer Square and Capitol Hill), AND because it had free admission. Perhaps a little practical in my decision making, but I got lucky and it did not disappoint. When I visited there were a number of contemporary art exhibits that were engaging and inspiring; I spent over an hour wandering through the halls of video installations, sculpture, printmaking...

I especially liked the current exhibit by Jane Wong, an Asian American artist and poet whose work examines her family’s experience with famine during the Great Leap Forward and the contrast of Wong’s experience growing up in America, land of plenty.

“In my dream last night, he was a golden beet in January snow.” My favorite line from the poem “A Cosmology” by Jane Wong. An altar frames the screen on which different poems would rotate.

“In my dream last night, he was a golden beet in January snow.” My favorite line from the poem “A Cosmology” by Jane Wong. An altar frames the screen on which different poems would rotate.

This installation by Jane Wong features lines of verse printed inside each of the many many bowls atop a large golden table.

This installation by Jane Wong features lines of verse printed inside each of the many many bowls atop a large golden table.

In addition to the contemporary exhibits, I was surprised by the big back room at the Frye. Imagine a big white room with maple floors, all four walls packed salon-style with hundreds of 19th century oil paintings. These paintings are from the original Frye family art collection, mostly German and European painters. This room was breathtaking. Every square foot of wall jig-sawed with gorgeous paintings and their fabulous gilded frames. If I wasn't pressed for time I'd have easily spent another hour here.

Four walls packed with art. The modern setting really highlighted the beauty of the old-world art.

Four walls packed with art. The modern setting really highlighted the beauty of the old-world art.

I really appreciate the way the paintings have been arranged with straight bottom and top edges and are packed like a ribbon of art in between. Also, this woman’s striped pants.

I really appreciate the way the paintings have been arranged with straight bottom and top edges and are packed like a ribbon of art in between. Also, this woman’s striped pants.

The detail and craft in the paintings was stunning.

The detail and craft in the paintings was stunning.

THESE PERFECT GRAPES. THIS LIFELIKE WOOD BOX. That’s a painting!!!

THESE PERFECT GRAPES. THIS LIFELIKE WOOD BOX. That’s a painting!!!

I’m weirdly attracted to all these gold floral frames.

I’m weirdly attracted to all these gold floral frames.

They rival the paintings for beauty and craft.

They rival the paintings for beauty and craft.

One more.

One more.

These red three-seater chairs 🤩

These red three-seater chairs 🤩

This woman's bomber/khaki/black sock/brown penny loafer situation.

This woman's bomber/khaki/black sock/brown penny loafer situation.

A funny thing about the Frye was that all the docents/security people looked like they should be in a cool coffee shop or whatever hipsters do these days. I’m so used to museums where staff-members wear identical suits or low-key matching uniforms, but here, they were all very young-looking and uniquely dressed. Like, one was a bearded guy in this tight-fitting tweed suit with bare ankles and dress shoes. You’d not place him for a museum employee except for the earpiece and his measured, controlled, patrol of the art space.

I also noticed many well-dressed patrons (and also everywhere in Seattle). By well-dressed I just mean really cool looking, like I really appreciated their style. I was a totally a weirdo and snapped some discreet photos because I admired their style so much, like this woman and her penny loafers.


After my visit to the Frye, I got tacos at Mezcaleria Oaxaca and was tickled by how they hung a salon-style wall of art as well. Good tacos too!

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So, would I go back to Seattle? Absolutely! It's actually one of the few places I've visited and thought, yeah totally, this place merits more exploration. Good food, good looks, walkable, and friendly.

And I know I’ve been teasing Shoe School for weeks now, but there is just so much to download and digest. So for now, I’ll leave you with this sneak peek at my final shoes, a pair of black lace-up oxfords built on a vintage speed-skate last. Until then…

Seattle light on my new, handmade shoes. With TaSsLeSsss!!!

Seattle light on my new, handmade shoes. With TaSsLeSsss!!!