Thursday, March 5, 2015

Every Day Cruelties


     A raised voice here, a nasty remark there, a thoughtless comment, a "harmless" observation. . .and chip, chip, chip these every day cruelties slowly, painfully, but surely destroy love.

          The other day while surfing the stations on my car radio -- yes, I even surf on that medium -- I heard the announcer say that, "Today, our guests will be talking about those 'small' hurtful every day remarks that destroy confidence and can eventually destroy a marriage."

          In the case of this program the focus was mainly on couples, the relationship in which one believes love and kindness trump the often difficult or heartbreaking events that are outside our control.

          Guests for the conversation included a psychologist whose expertise is in couples counselling, a psychiatrist and a journalist who investigated the common phenomenon.  Callers into the program related their stories. They explained how their partners regularly ridiculed them in private and public with condescending expressions, aggressive words and off-hand snarky rebuffs.

          "You're not going to eat that piece of cake, are you?" one woman used as an example of how her husband was browbeating her with remarks about the post baby weight she hadn't lost.

          Men were hurt most by remarks that diminished their sense of masculinity and from the number of male callers who told their stories, many women know how to effectively attack in that territory.

         Men, according to the women, were most apt to attack on several fronts: weight, general appearance, homemaking standards that didn't meet their criteria and emotional fragility as in: "All you do is cry. All you do is complain,"

         As anyone who has ever read a pop-psych article knows there are a few trigger words that are off limits when talking or arguing with someone. They include: all, always and never. One would be hard-pressed to find a human being whose comportment was all, always or never something and clearly that includes "all loving."

         The conversation was never about physical cruelty. It was entirely about how words hurt. Eventually the discussion broadened to friendships, work relations and the way in which parents and authority figures speak to children.

         The psychologist offered explanations for every day cruelty directed at the person we are supposed to love above all others: insecurity, unhappiness for myriad reasons, narcissism, ennui.

          Then add to the poison posturing two more distress inducing behaviors: silence and a refusal to listen.

         Of course the experts suggested straight-forward conversations as opposed to confrontations with the offending party, in which the "victims" explain how hurt, diminished and ultimately powerless and insecure every day cruelty makes them feel.

         The experts admitted that in their practices they see a disturbing facility many individuals have for wounding with words and somehow feel kindness is weakness. They try to explain empathy and the power of kindness and respect. Sometimes the therapy works, sometimes the pattern of every day cruelty is so ingrained in the construction of a relationship that love is lost. Forever.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

From LA to Paris: An Ode to The Jacket

The French fashion magazines are calling it a "veste bustier" so who am I to call it a blouse?  By any appellation,  I think it's absolutely beautiful. By Haider Ackermann.
    Today I'm participating in one of my favorite blogging endeavours, collaborating with my great pal, Pseu, the creator of Une Femme. (She's la femme in LA; I'm la femme in Paris. But you knew that.) We decide on a subject and no further elaboration ensues. I'm looking forward to reading her post.    

                                           La Veste
I'm shocked. I love this black and white bolero jacket by Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy and yes, I would break all of my rules and wear it.
          One can quibble over styles, embellishments and construction, but I think we can all agree about function: Jackets are the single article of clothing that "finish" an ensemble.  

          They set the tone. Think about it. Let's say, for example, you're wearing a pair of dark wash jeans or black gabardine trousers with a classic white silk shirt, let's choose the strict classicism of Equipment to set the mood. Now what? You need or want to add a jacket. What's your mood? What's your intention? What image do you feel like conveying? What statement do you need to make for a particular situation or occasion -- serious, playful, elegant, fashion-forward, professional. . .?

           Depending upon one's vestimentary objectives, it's a jacket's role to set the tone, add tailored polish or unstructured insouciance.

          Instantly a message is conveyed by our choice: blazer, jeans, tuxedo, bolero, kimono, safari and on and on with all the nuances on the themes.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions. . .
Let's see. . . I'll take the one on the upper right and the two in the center. There, that's perfect.
          By a certain age, we know which jackets are our best friends. Mine are the ones with construction, slightly shaped into the waist, and sufficiently long enough to cover my derriere without being too long. I discovered to my surprise that too long is counter-intuitive. Curious.

          When I interviewed many Frenchwomen for my book I discovered that they tend to buy the same jacket (or jackets) over and over. They know what flatters their figures and they stick to those shapes. No one knows they're wearing the same model because the fabrics, embellishments, colors and perhaps, for an exceptional coup de foudre, a pattern.

        I've done my due diligence by visiting the spring/summer 2015 ready-to-wear collections on-line  to see what the designers were offering. I discovered the usual suspects, i.e. blazers of one sort or another, and the apparent revival of safari jackets and kimonos plus myriad variations on denim.

Two blazers from Theory that fall into my definition of perfect.



          Here's the thing though: Mostly I don't care what's on the runways except for liking the idea of being au courant about fashion trends. I've never liked safari jackets -- waaay too much going on, I have a couple of kimonos, but am not that crazy over them and I'm well-covered in the blazer department, if I weren't that's where I would seek out something new.

One of my favorite definitions of a jacket, this cashmere version from the Eric Bompard spring collection. (I would probably buy it in the other color on offer, navy blue.)
         I've discovered, because of my mostly country life, that I am far more likely to pop on a sweater jacket. I don't consider them cardigans because they are cut like jackets and give me the right pulled-together look that makes me feel comfortable and, one always hopes, stylish.          

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Stacking Up & Stocking Up. . .

Would this be a nice addition to the jewelry box? For more swoon worthy pieces from Ippolita. 
    You may recall that I lost all my jewelry, save for the single ring I was wearing, when we were robbed a little over a year ago. You may also recall that Charlotte was referred to by the gendarmes in their official report on the incident as "a German shepherd, but not a guard dog," which was a very good thing.

          I've moved on, although I still cannot help feeling bad about the beautiful things I once owned that were my mother's or MRFLIF's mother's, or my engagement ring. . .well, you know. Everything was, most of all markers of sweet memories, and they would have been passed on to Andrea and then Ella.

A Bounty of Baubles
What's not to love?          
          My best friend sent me a gorgeous cabochon ruby ring by FedEx the next day.  I wear it all the time and think of her. She gave me the best gift of all, a precious memory. Andrea gave me a pair of gold hoop earrings, again another priceless souvenir. MRFLIF said, "Here, take my watch." I refused, but I do borrow it from time to time.

Beautiful Baubles
I'm particularly attracted to the multi-colored gem stone cuffs. They would go with everything wouldn't they?
         I think at some point I may buy myself a simple gold bangle. I really loved my Cartier Trinity bracelet which was sitting on my bed table next to my Tank watch and my Mauboussin sapphire guard ring, but they are quite frighteningly expensive. I don't have any plans to replace anything because I now love jewelry in an abstract sort of way, as opposed to a desire to acquire.

Bijoux, Bijoux, Bijoux. . .
How about these for "every day" adornment? I can imagine combining several, like the  diamond embellished link bracelet in the center with the Cartier Trinity bangles and all the smaller diamond dotted ones, bottom right. Then, I would borrow the watch MRFLIF offered to give me and add it to the mix.
         With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to fantasize. Let me set this up for you: He walks in the door and says, "Ma cherie, please buy yourself all the jewelry you have ever seen that you think is beautiful. Start by category, bracelets first. Here's my credit card. Have a good time."

          Your response is not, "Oh, no I couldn't."  It's: "Thank you darling; I'll see you later."

          Then you jump in your car and drive to La Place Vendôme or a similar location in your environs that offers one-stop bijoux shopping.      

Monday, March 2, 2015

Keeping It Simply Elegant

Again, the one-bottom Stella McCarthy navy blazer with, below, more and more and more of the ways it can be worn. I feel as if I could play with her jacket and trousers for weeks, each day changing the details.        
     The simple elegance of the clean cut of Stella McCartney's navy suit makes it one of those exceptionally perfect day-to-day and day to evening investments that will never leave you wondering "what will I wear?" or worse, "I have nothing to wear."

From Day to Evening
Lady-like, but better.
         Similar pieces are available at more reasonable and yes, even more expensive price points, but the idea is to make dressing fun and most of all stress-free. That's the real beauty of these easy pieces.

From Day to Evening
The Olympia Le Tan "book" evening clutch adds just the right dose of humor.
          Imagine opening one's jewelry box, or probably more likely going to the bank and opening one's safe deposit box, and selecting what to wear from a collection of diamonds, rubies, pearls and sapphires.
From Day to Evening
The red satin ballerinas are back-up when you need a rest from dancing in red satin pumps
          The devil is always in the details, n'est-ce pas. . .?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A French Country Weekend

When I first decided to try blogging, my adorable niece, Catherine, set me up technically and Andrea sent me two books to help me get started content-wise. One wise bit of counsel was, "Nobody cares what you ate for lunch," that's why I think this cartoon is funny.
        A French jewelry designer was asked recently, "What is your definition of elegance?"

         Having worked in the fashion business all of his professional life, one would tend to expect him to cite something related to the fun-filled world of façade. He didn't.

         Elegance for me, he said, is, "La pudeur, une forme de reserve des sentiments."

         Pudeur is generally translated as "modesty" but it is more delicate and profound than that in French when used to describe someone's comportment.  It suggests discretion, a sort of code of privacy and respect.

         Please, those of you who speak fluent French, how would you define pudeur? Perhaps his "reserve des sentiments" is the best translation/definition.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

For The Love of A Dog

When Ella Madeleine was here last month she and Charlotte fell in love with each other. Charlotte is a verrrry big girl. Ella  would stand in front of her and say, "Hi, hi, hi, hi. . ." and Charlotte would wag her tail and give her a big slurpy kiss on the cheek. 
         Random, I know.

          Yesterday I was visiting one of my favorite people. I don't know her. I'm talking about visiting her blog as opposed to a real life exchange, but reading her feels more like attentively listening -- with heart and mind -- to a gentle, articulate, private, strong, intuitive, intelligent friend.

          I don't even know her first name although it might be Candice judging from one of the comments I read chez elle. We have never exchanged an email. Our only communication has been through the occasional comments on our respective blogs.

          She has managed to accomplish something many of us talk about when we're together over a cup of tea or a glass of wine, and that is: "The Balance." We struggle a bit with how much we reveal about our day-to-day lives.  We ask ourselves and our blogging friends: Where do we draw the line? How much of our quotidian should we discuss out here in the wide, wide world of absolute exposure the instant we press the "send" button?

         We all know that there are bloggers who share what I consider embarrassing aspects of their lives. Some accept payment to do so. Some go so far as to invade the privacy, I'm assuming this, of their friends and family.  Many of the most popular bloggers have, it appears, exposed intimate aspects of their lives in this excessively public forum: being (unhappily) single,  meeting "the one,"  marriage,  children,  health problems, general malaise, and on and on.

         Where do we draw the line? How much do those of you who so generously take the time to read and sometimes comment on our blogs want to know about us?

These two glasses of wine have nothing to do with anything, they are simply a "device" to break up lots of gray text to encourage you to continue reading. 
        A great friend and I laugh about her harried life and how she still manages to create a gorgeous blog. "Sometimes there are a pile of dirty socks next to the bouquet I photograph and post," she said.

       Therein lies the balance I think. Most of the time we share the best; occasionally we'll talk about our disappointments, but basically we're here to entertain and maybe from time-to-time inform or recommend.

       All of our lives have their complications and challenges and sometimes they involve those we love who would be horrified if we exposed their stories in a blog post.

Another "device" with peonies, my favorite flower.
      I imagine you are wondering (once again), "When is she going to get to the point?"

      Yes, "For The Love of A Dog" . . . the woman whom I do not know, is considering getting a dog because she knows, like all of us who love dogs -- whether we can own one or not at certain points in our lives -- that they can change our lives.

      They bring joy, purpose, calm and love. I cannot imagine living without a dog. I think doctors should be allowed to put them on prescriptions Xanax, no, never mind: "Get a dog." Yes, they're addictive, but they do not contribute to memory loss, on the contrary in fact.

        She is a charming, poignant writer (with perfect grammar btw) who makes you feel the emotions she is sharing, for example click here.  

Friday, February 27, 2015

Playing Dress-Up In A Perfect World. . .

Stella McCartney's one-button navy blazer.
          Now, let me bring you into what would be my perfect world of dressing. All of these put-togethers work off of two impeccable pieces: slim gabardine trousers and a one button blazer that nips in slightly at the waist. Both are from Stella McCartney, which tells you immediately the price points.
Slim navy trousers from Stella McCartney.
        My exercise is to demonstrate the almost infinite possibilities of a well-made, and in this case expensive, navy blue suit that can be worn together or broken apart to up the possibilities. Of course it's possible to find good trousers and blazers at relatively reasonable prices, think J.Crew, Lands' End and many, many more labels I haven't explored.

Blue on blue on blue
In case, like me, even if there is the will there is no longer a way to wear those sky-high stilettos,  the Roger Vivier kitten heels would be just as pretty with this outfit. Maybe this is all too match-y, match-y for you, but I love blue on blue and masses of beads.

         My plan is to play around with these basics for a few days. You'll tell me if you get bored.  I'm hoping you won't because this is so much fun.

The navy blazer, again and again
Of course the Breton sweater from Yves Saint Laurent could be switched out for almost any other top, but I like this look.  Just can't get away from my blue on blue on blue.
       Imagine the places you could go with just these two simply perfect separates. Talk about dressing for success for all occasions. Next week I think I'll take them to a few chi-chi restaurants and a cocktail party.

        For the moment, I'm just playing as you can see. Please think of these ensembles as idea boards. (I admit though, I can't help wishing some of the pieces were more than ideas in my world, particularly the jewelry. . .) As I become more adept at this exercise, I promise to "merchandise properly" as they say in the retail business, translation: tell you where you can find the clothes and accessories.

The magic navy blue blazer
A choice of shoes, depending upon whether one tends to be more of a ballerina girl or a moccasin girl. Many of us are both.
       Please feel free to chime in with your ideas.
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