Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Indecision & A Disparate Round-Up

Never too late to nag I always say. N'est-ce-pas?  

If you recall in elementary English classes along with hyperbole, metaphors and similes we also learned about repetition for emphasis -- remember (?) -- here comes the latter: SPF, SPF, SPF. And may I suggest, buy two of your favorite brand.  Mine is the Roche-Posay Anthelois XL lotion for two reasons: It was recommended by a top French plastic surgeon in an interview with me (a woman) and it's not gooky. The second one you keep in the car, or if you don't change your handbag every five minutes you could keep it there. This one is for the tops of your hands to protect them against those dangerous rays streaming through the windshield. Because you know what happens if you don't. Enough said.

I like the new, or at least to me, Roche-Posay tube meant for the nose, ears, collarbone, chin, eyelids, all those other quirky spots we might forget or need constant touch-ups.

In all things -- and no one knows this better than our role models, les French femmes d'un certain age -- and yes, I know I've mentioned this before: First comes discipline, then comes habit. 

This maxim of course applies to everything from sun protection to those "oh, no thank you, I couldn't possibly eat another piece of your delicious strawberry tart" moments. See what I mean? 

Another been there, discussed that subject: Self-tanning products. As I've said I am beyond maladroit in this department, or was until I found those individual towelettes from Comodynes. They're great for a full-on tan or just your legs so they can be released from their pantyhose hell. It's also fab for touch-ups. If I can do it; you can do it. No mess, no fuss.

And finally, do not under any circumstances forget your sunglasses. I'm amazed at the numbers of French women on the streets who don't wear them. Today for example, as I was watching how great they looked I was quite taken aback by this omission. The sun was blindingly bright and there they were squinting away, literally adding years to their faces. C'est fou.

This reminder is also my excuse to include those "don't you just love 'em" sunglasses from Cutler and Gross.

P.S.: Still haven't decided about my famous KJLane brooch. Called the woman in the boutique today -- we're becoming best friends -- who assured me she has three of them and not to worry and if some day I do make up my mind she'll put one aside for me. This is so unlike me, usually I go into a boutique make a quick sweep with my eyes and in less than 30 seconds move in or move on. Part of my reluctance is probably the fact it's not real and costs 170 Euros. I do like it though. . .

Patience, Patience. . .


Just walked in the door. Was in Paris all day where the weather is hot and sunny; the terraces overflowing and women of all ages are wearing long and short sun dresses with flat sandals. Every single toenail I saw was painted some shade of red. And many had you-know-whats dangling from their ears. . .

The post is coming shortly. 

Monday, June 29, 2009

White On White, On White, On White, Etc.

When we decide to decorate our warm weather wear with summer jewelry we tend to turn toward the natural, the unfussy, i.e. shells, coral, turquoise, even wood. Why is it we rarely think of piling on pearls when the temperatures soar? What's more natural than pearls? And what looks more real than pearls that aren't? And who taught us that masses of faux pearls are the ultimate in chic? Bien sûr: Coco Chanel.

My take on this, completely arbitrary, but nonetheless not without merit I believe is: Choose above mentioned naturals for day and in the evening switch to pearls -- and lots of them.

Next point, wear them with white. No matter what color your skin, nothing is more feminine, fresh and flattering than white and pearls in the summer. If you have the real deal, good for you. If not, run out to Target or its equivalent and grab a handful, the longer the better for multi-strand creation. And remember more is the operative impulse -- more, more, more.

Don't be prejudiced or prissy about how you wear them. They look equally stunning with a simple "marcel" (tank top) from Landsend or Eddie Bauer or any other pristine white T-shirt, with the exception of any short-sleeved styles. Think bateau, scoop, V necks. You're a grown-up now. If you have the good fortune to find a white summer dress, lucky you and remember a classic linen blazer with a white camisole or marcel plus pearls equals a night on the town -- just add sandals to your already pedicured toes. 

Important note: As mentioned above, no short-sleeves with pearls, the one exception -- depending upon your personality -- is a polo with that single strand of cultured pearls you received on your sixteenth or eighteenth birthday. Maybe for luncheon at the Country Club? (Curious how that concept doesn't really exist in France -- country clubs, I mean, because for the truly traditional, polos and that single strand definitely does.)

From the top: Mother/daughter white from Comptoir des Contonniers (if you want to see one of the strangest, most creative sites -- there is wonderful music so be careful -- click above); a maillot de bain from Celine, my thinking -- it stays tucked in, it holds you in and if the evening turns out better than expected you can throw yourself into the pool; pearls; a flitty, flirty blouse By Zoe; Mamie Gummer (you know, Meryl Streep's daughter who took over the Darel contract after Charlotte Gainsbourg) in a floaty, cotton gypsy voile number; pearls; two looks from Akris -- don't panic about the second one, put a white three-quarter or long-sleeve T-shirt underneath and push up the sleeves, then add pearls; more pearls; Laura Clement for La Redoute, buttonless jacket -- dump the gray, add white shirt or tee; extra- special asymmetrical linen blouse by Claudie Pierlot and a perfect break-apart, wear-together, wear-forever suit by Diane Von Furstenberg (subtract flowers, add pearls).

Sunday, June 28, 2009

To Buy or Not To Buy: That Is The Question

OK, I'm back, feeling great and not having eaten anything for 36 hours, also feeling there's no time like the present to get back on my regime. Why should I pay lots of Euros for detox liquids at the pharmacy when I can so easily catch some random bug and let nature take its course? Best of all I'm not hungry and what good luck; this is the perfect season to be on a diet because delicious fruits and veggies are everywhere even in my own backyard (!)

Enough about me. Or rather enough about that subject.

If you've been with me since last Friday when I promised to get back to you upon my return from Paris, you may recall I mentioned we are now in full-throttle soldes, i.e. markdowns. This is always a dangerous time because one so often falls prey to that "oh, it's 50 percent off; I don't really love it, love it; but if I don't buy it this instant I might regret it for the rest of my life and of course it's 50 percent off" syndrome.  

Luckily the bug was sneaking up on me and I didn't have time to do anything rash, however -- yes, feeling woozy or not there is always a however in these sagas. I think I'm having a serious emotional pull toward the Kenneth Jay Lane brooch pictured above.

I first saw it while perusing the Net searching for examples of lovely clothes and accessories in blue (very big, obviously, or I wouldn't be talking about it), which I was preparing for a future post. I thought hmmm, I really, really like this thing. Then on Monday last, I saw it for real in Paris and thought, hmmm, yes I really do. On Friday I almost bought it. The woman in the boutique said to me: "It's so Jackie Kennedy, you know she had one just like it." Nope, I didn't know that. One way or the other that news does not weigh into my decision.

I'm going back to Paris on Tuesday and between now and then I have to reconcile myself to my one tiny qualm about what I otherwise think is a gorgeous, never in or out of fashion (perhaps investment in that case?) bauble. I think all the faux, rounded turquoise stones are perfect, but here's my hesitation: Do I really like the big, fat blue rhinestone smack in the middle, and why didn't he keep going with the faux turquoise? (Then again, maybe everyone will think it's an aquamarine or a blue topaz -- I just thought of that.)

The question about whether I need it or not is moot. Who needs a brooch?

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Have lots to tell you about my little sojourn in Paris yesterday -- including something I'm debating about buying, but I've caught some kind of bug and can't really hang around the computer long enough to explain.

A demain xo

Friday, June 26, 2009

I'll Be Back In A Flash -- Or Relatively Quickly

Off to Paris to run some errands; en plus it's the moment of les soldes so I might dawdle. But no crazy impulse purchases are anticipated. (But I guess that's the definition of "impulse purchase," i.e. unplanned.)

Merci for your indulgence.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

It's Free, It's Free -- It's True, It's True

You want it? You've got it. Je le veux,  je l'aurai -- I want it; I will have it.

The Hermes Kelly bag about which many have dreamed the impossible dream can now be yours. For. . . are you ready (?) 0, yes that's right ZERO Euros, or whatever currency you've calculated the price, which depending upon the materials used by the famed house of Hermes can cost minimum the price of a used car and maximum the tuition of a couple of years at an Ivy League university.

Like all things too good to be true, there's a qualifier. (Well, of course, what did you think?) You have to make it yourself. HOWEVER, Hermes will send you the pattern to cut and paste together.

You see, once again proof age has no importance. You will be returning, metaphorically speaking, to your pre-school days to make yourself something that only a sophisticated grown-up would be toting on her arm.

Go to the Hermes site and take several deep breaths because it takes for-ev-er to load-up. I suggest a manicure while waiting, then follow the directions to reach your goal of a lifetime: Choose bag; download pattern; print pattern; color (that's where you put your creative stamp on your new treasure); cut out the colored pattern, ever careful to stay on the lines; fold into the iconic shape and glue all the sides, bits and whatever together until -- ta-da, behold your very own Kelly.

Some of you I imagine are too clever for words and will figure out a way to do this arts and crafts project with a material that will produce a purse you can actually use as opposed to the paper/cardboard one which even with Superglu probably wouldn't hold much more than a lipstick and a handkerchief. It could always be an objet d'art I suppose, a party favor or a gift for a friend who already has a closetful of the real thing.

I would love like to hear back on this one. Tell me if you're going to do it and if so how and why. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rationing and Rationalization

What do French women love almost as much as their size 38 bodies and all the clothes they can wear as a consequence? 

Chocolate of course.

They usually measure their rations by squares. One or two max. Swooning with every nibble. No French woman of any age ever tucks into an entire candy bar. If a child starts to get over enthusiastic with her chocolat a reprimanding hand is ever at the ready to take it away. 

An enfant is never too young to learn one does not graze her way through life. Hand-mouth discipline starts before she can toddle over to help herself to a fistful of bonbons. That's why, by the time she reaches a certain age, moderation is a reflex not a deprivation.

This love affair with chocolate probably explains all the excitement in Paris about the graph bar created by the French group Designers 5.5 for the Barcelona based chocolatier Chocolate Factory. Below each bar on the graph you are informed about the number of calories you will be consuming. They run from a modest 34 calories to an over-the-top 272 calories. 

I've never been gifted in the math department -- although I'm sure many of you are and can perhaps explain this to me because I couldn't find the answer on my own -- which made me wonder: If you eat the whole thing does that equal 272 calories or do you add up all the bits and end up with an astronomical 1224 calories? (I just did the numbers on my calculator in case you're wondering.) 

In the meantime I continue to sniff my zero calorie chocolate stamps and search for the 3ish calorie Le Whif. (Please see June 10th and May 6th posts respectively if you don't know what in the world I'm talking about. Merci.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Few Of My Favorite Things: Part 10 or Something

I'm off again with a doesn't go together; has-nothing-to-do-with-one-another; may-or-may-not- be-hot, hot, hot, but I like these things anyway post. 

Inevitably as I find one-offs and something that strikes my fancy I set each idea or item aside to be thrown into these -- now weekly it seems -- jumbles of this and that.  So here we go:

The glass grape bracelet and earrings are a definite "just because." I think they're pretty, probably conversation worthy and fruity motifs are in, in general this summer. I thought these would be different -- and by extension make us appear clever and more creative than those merely buying into a produce trend -- also, I envision them as the ultimate vintage pieces. There's also a necklace (!)

You may recall I dissed silver nail polish a few posts back. That was before I saw beautifully pedicured, silver-toed tootsies in silver sandals. I'm holding fast to my position on fingernails, but there was something festive and "risky" fun about the toes. Sandals from the top: Bernardo, J.Crew and Christian Louboutin.  If, and believe me I understand, you're aiming for "ever-elegant and irreproachable" go for Chanel's Dragon.

This is not an endorsement, it's more like a "slipped through the net" when doing my bug post last week. Note spider plus her web on the Alian Milki/Delfina Deletrettrez sunglasses. They were supposed to be part of the insect round up, but somehow escaped. I couldn't bear the idea that you would be deprived of such a creative use of a creepy, crawly.

In passing. . . I found a long leopard cardigan a few weeks ago which I decided I really, really liked, as in the sense: "That would certainly look nice on someone, though not me." (I try not to be selfish.) As a consequence it went into my "this and that" folder. I've now decided I hate it so as you can see it's not here. I believe that is how we make terrible mistakes when we shop and buy things on impulse. I do not know one French woman, I swear this is true, who has had a bad impulse purchase. 

Monday, June 22, 2009

Here Comes The Bride. . .

Perhaps you've been searching for that petite "look-at-me" accessory for the summer weddings to which you have been invited. You know, that drop-dead, stop-them-in-their-tracks who cares what the bride is wearing sort of accoutrement? 

My feeling is there's no better place to start than at the top. Life offers few opportunities to wear a hat for pure decoration (or outrageousness) therefore we must jump on any occasion presented to us. 

Beginning with Sarah Jessica Parker and finishing off with Camilla all the chapeaux are from Philip Treacy.  The last two, discreet without being boring, would probably come under the category: "I can wear them for the rest of my life."

P.S.: I think a bride could wear the satin roses. And, depending upon one's personality, the others would be audacious choices for second, third, fourth. . . marriages. Furthermore, if a woman is on her fourth marriage she almost owes it to her audience to make a symbolic gesture of divine excess.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Keep 'em Small and Keep Them Off the Grass

When entertaining -- operative word "entertaining" -- these little fellows would be hilarious lined-up in parade formation blazing down the center of the table at an outdoor dinner party.

They're larger relatives are not funny in packs hanging out in the garden. For those who find nains (male) or naines (female) de jardin amusing, get in touch with me immediately. We need to have a chat.

As you know, if one wishes to live a beautiful life one must be prepared to make intelligent, discerning, sometimes difficult decisions. This one is simple: Don't.

The instant someone sees a nain  in your garden, it's over.  There's no turning back. Your reputation has been sullied for life. You might as well take the wheels off your car, set it up on cinder blocks and arrange your old appliances as modern sculptures and flower "boxes" in your front yard. 

Friday, June 19, 2009

It's La Fête des Pères

As you know my interviews for this blog have always been with French women -- what they feel, what they think, what they like, what they eat, what they wear, etc.  Exceptionnellement, in commemoration of Father's Day I thought it would be interesting, fascinating perhaps, to discover what the first man in their lives contributed to their character and personality. 

In this, yet another unscientific poll (I call up friends, stop women in the street, walk into boutiques, the usual), I posed the question: "What are/were the most important lessons you learned from your father, either through his words or by his example?"

My sample is more wide ranging than ever -- from age 13 to 70.

This is what they told me:

Caroline: Certainly nothing by direct communication. He has never been a talker. However, he has been there for me in other ways. For example, he knew I wanted to open my own pharmacy and I could have never realized that dream without his help.

Marie-Laure:  My father was in the military and I was always afraid of him. Everything was regimented in our house. On the other hand he taught me how to ride horseback and that is still one of my great passions.

Alexandra: I can't say he taught me anything intellectual although he encouraged me in my studies. He taught me how to drive a car and a tractor. 

Alix: He taught me to be radin (cheap, stingy).

Marie-Claude: He was generous and when I use that word I mean it in the broadest sense.

Patricia: He helped me be courageous and appreciate the value of hard work. He also showed me how to knit. (His grandmother taught him and he thought it would be funny to teach me.)

Claudie: Because of my father I love the sea. We would swim and sail together. It was wonderful. Now I've passed this love on to my son.

Danielle: I can't think of anything.

Claudine: My father was not at all open or communicative, but I always had the sense he was profoundly good and kind.

Anne-Françoise: He was rigorous when it came to morality, no matter what the situation. He insisted on correct behavior and politesse. He thought young women should dress modestly. Obviously I rebelled against that the minute I left our house.

Pamela: I have seen his honesty through his words and his acts every day of my life.

Aurore: My father is deeply honest and he is the one person I know, no matter what or when or why he will be there for me.

Dany: He was a silent man, but he was solid and made me feel safe.

Ava: He taught me to speak Hungarian, played the piano for me and told me wonderful stories.

Françoise: When I was young it seemed to me he talked only about the past and I never really listened or appreciated what he recounted. Now I regret my impatience.

Letitia: He was tender and full of joy; he explained to me it was a decision one makes to be happy and optimistic. He told me to have confidence in myself (ever a work in progress). Perhaps one of the most important lessons I learned was by watching the way he treated my mother with extraordinary love and respect. When I was a little girl he read me bedtime stories and at the end he would say: "Goodnight my beauty." 

Elise: I am the sixth of 12 children so as you can imagine my father worked hard and was exhausted when he came home. I remember when I was about six and ill with a fever and coughing throughout the night he brought me warm milk and honey and sat up with me until I fell asleep. I was closer to my grandfather, my father's father. He told me family stories and wrote poetry for me.

Marie:  He repeated over and over it was a waste of time and intelligence to do any task, no matter how small, in a mediocre way. He thought it was like cheating myself and lowering my aspirations. Throughout my life I saw him act fairly and kindly with everyone. I try to do the same. 

Andrea: The top ten list for mon pere. . .
  • Be polite to everyone.
  • Take time to enjoy a good meal (and wine!).
  • Be affectionate.
  • Learn to accept and give compliments.
  • Be generous.
  • Do small things you know will make someone happy.
  • Don't let a day go by without having dessert.
  • Have a warm and welcoming home.
  • Ask questions: You can learn something from everyone.
  • Talk to your dogs. They really do understand.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cherry Picking

This is what one would call a fashion "sub-category." Let me explain: Yes, it's present, but soon it will be absent so unless someone plans to buy you the Dior diamond and coral cherry earrings, go easy allocating your accessory budget on this minor movement.

Although the Stella McCartney sandals are kind of yummy, particularly when the nail polish is color-coordinated to repeat the fruit hue, they take a big bite out of the budget. Come to think of it, it might be a wiser investment to wear your old sandals and paint your toenails cherry red. 

Whether sub or staggeringly important I feel it is my duty to stay on top of the latest and the greatest, no matter how fleeting. I think you know my position on fads -- go lightly unless you have a solid trust fund or you're in the fashion business and the designers are sending them to you gratis. (Yes, that is the way of the fun-filled world of fashion -- at least for the magazines. Some newspapers forbid graft. I mean gifts. . .)

(An aside, as usual I digress: We have three cherry trees and off of every branch hang pits on stems. We've been told to put nets over them, that didn't work; hang CDs on the branches, waaaay too much work; and finally to nestle radios(?) in the bows. For all I know birds like music and furthermore who owns three radios? Bottom line: I had to buy cherries at the market.)

From the top: aforementioned Dior earrings -- and good luck to you; a dirt cheap belt buckle; cuff and sandals from Stella McCartney; Liberty print watch from Cacharel; and Revlon's famous "Cherries In The Snow."
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