By Martini Severin

It started out as an itchy throat. Knowing the signs well, I did what I normally do, I drank liters of orange juice, took Echinacea supplements and even ate copious amounts of red and yellow bell peppers as they are reputed to contain more vitamin C than oranges. Whether or not red bell peppers are more beneficial at stemming the onset of a cold, I didn’t know, but eating the bell peppers made me feel like I was actively providing my immune system with the energy it needed to win the war on colds. But wouldn’t you know it, the darn cold came anyway. So here I am writing to you as I cough, sneeze and wipe my runny nose with my new obsession, handkerchiefs. Yup, handkerchiefs!

Growing up in Haiti, one of the first gifts I remember receiving from my grandmother was a set of hankies for the occasional runny nose. I have since—over the past 20 something years—lost interest in hankies until I was browsing through vintage sartorial wonders at Oona’s in Cambridge. I had always carried a pack of tissues with me regardless of the seasons (winter equals runny noses for me) but upon seeing a set of flower print and white hankies, it occurred to me that I could stand to be a little more “green”. I recycle religiously, started composting two years ago (with mixed results I might add), and have purchased BP-free water bottles so that I don’t have to continuously purchase plastic water bottles. Using hankies seem like the dawn of something great! No more tissues used and thrown out after one use!

And since you can’t have just one hankie I bought half a dozen that day at Oona’s for less than $7. Over time, I acquired more in my visits to men’s shops and vintage shops around town. Half of them are new, some are made of linen, some are made of cotton and one made of silk. I have yet to get them monogrammed. That’s a project for another day. Maybe I’ll do it myself…

Being “green” is good and great, but since I also wanted to be hygienic, I opted to have at least a dozen hankies that I could use, put in the wash, or even hand wash for future use. I tend to switch them out at the end of the day. I keep mine in my glasses or sunglasses case so they are not swimming with loose change at the bottom of my handbag – definitely not hygienic.

Here are my favorite places for acquiring hankies. I’ve purchased mine over the years, but start early in the summer so that you can have a healthy collection for running nose season once fall announces itself.

For new hankies:

J. Press

82 Mt. Auburn Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-5:30pm

The Andover Shop

22 Holyoke St
Cambridge, MA 02138
Hours: Mon-Sat: 9:00am to 5:30pm

For vintage hankies:

Second Time Around

99 Charles St
Boston, MA 02114
Hours: Mon-Sat 10 am – 7 pm / Sun 12 pm – 6 pm
website & reviews


1210 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138
Hours: Open Mon-Thu,Sat 11am-7pm; Fri 11am-8pm; Sun 12pm-6pm
website & reviews

Streamline Antiques

1168 Washington St
Dorchester, MA 02118
website & reviews

Martini blogs on the Boston fashion scene at She goes in search of the latest trends and snaps shots of men and women around the city who really understand style.


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