Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mini (As In Not Major) Fashion Update

By obsessively studying every minor detail of every single ready-to-wear collection, one can always find a repetitive undercurrent -- a mini trend, if you will -- that the unpracticed eye might miss. Mais, pas moi.

Let's face it, that's my raison d'etre. I'm here to unearth and spotlight what others might not see so we can be better than trendy -- we've long moved beyond that shallow aspiration. We can be chic, elegant, unique.

It is for that reason, I suggest: You need a vest. Yes you do. Beg, borrow, steal and if you have no other choice, invest in a vest. If you don't believe me, look at all of these photographs. You do not have to wear yours like a man with a cravat, personally I never would, but on some women it gives off that masculine/feminine vibe that can be very appealing. (Think Annie Hall.)

Pictured above: Dolce & Gabbana, Dries Van-Noten, Proenza Schouler, Armani, Dior and Hermes.

Let's not forget, there's nothing like a vest with nothing. If you don't like your arms, wear it with nothing under it, with a jacket over it. (You know what I mean by "nothing" I suppose. Most of us need a little support wherever we can get it -- consider that a profound statement.)

That's today's news. 

And the weather report, "more snow!"

Monday, November 29, 2010

News, Views, This, That. . .

Oh, happy day! It snowed through the night. When I threw open the curtains, the garden was sparkling white. Our almost 14-year-old dog started playing with the five-year-old, that's how ecstatic we are over here. All I need is a sled. 

My-Reason-For-Living-In-France said Pere Noel might bring me one.

Usually I tend to digress, now it seems I'm also regressing. But, no matter, some news from the front:

Animal Farm

At times I suspect I may be the last person in the world to discover something "new!" However, I also assume it's not possible that I could be alone. 

Consequently I must share my latest discovery, stuffed animals. No, no, wait, I wasn't a deprived child. Let me give you the background. Saturday night we had a small dinner party, and our friend Christine and her husband came laden with gifts. Absolutely incredible, a delicious candle, fabulous wine from their cellar, raspberry jam for My-Reason-For-Living-In-France (his favorite), and late in the evening, a teddy bear.

Let me make myself perfectly clear up-front, I am not one of those women who has stuffed animals on her bed. I may want a sled for Christmas but that does not mean I have completely reverted to childhood. 

BUT(!) and this is my discovery -- yours too, I hope -- my new teddy bear is not like any teddy bear I have ever owned, or seen, or heard of heretofore. My new teddy bear is in fact the equivalent of a hot water bottle. Yes, he is!

He is unbelievably soft, has absolutely no joints which is to say he can be manipulated in any form one would like and he is stuffed with lavender something-or-other. He smells dee-vine. 

As I said, a pseudo hot water bottle, once one is finished cuddling and smelling him, you pop him (or her) into the microwave for two to three minutes, remove and place wherever you are cold or have an ache or pain. Right now he's hanging around my neck. The heat is comforting, the lavender is soothing. Bliss.

Yes, of course, most people buy them for children, but what a waste of an ageless pleasure. 

(He is made by Intelex, a company in England.)

Pictured above are other members of his extended family.

Happy Feet

Elle magazine said recently if one would like to change everything by simply adding one special item this season, it would be these masked Repettos. (Of course Elle says this every week about one thing or another, but this time I agree.)

Last Chance (Almost)

Please remember to tell me, if you haven't already, if you would like to be in on the drawing for the giveaway of Betty Lou Phillips' gorgeous "French Impressions" book. 

 Bonne Chance!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Next Week or La Semaine Prochaine

On The Calendar For The Week Ahead

In no particular order:

News, Views, This & That

Fidelity & L'Amour (A newly hot topic in France -- I'll explain)

More Installments in the "I Would If I Could" shopping series.

A Mini Fashion Prediction -- within every budget, for every age.

On-the-street photos (or inside the stores photos where women are not wearing coats). 

A Weekend In The Country.

Can you believe we're almost in December? Time flies when I'm having fun -- with you.

A teensy confession (which is embarrassing for me to even admit, but we're among friends): When I see a new follower sign on for the ride, it absolutely makes my day. I'm always thrilled. Then, when I wake up another day and see one (or two this time) have left me, it makes me feel terrible, as if I've let someone down. So, I would simply like to say, "Thank you for the former and I'm sorry for the latter."

A demain.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Weekend In The Country

!! Snow !! First-time-ever!!! I couldn't believe it! We have never had snow in November in all the years I've lived in France. Soooo, exciting!

I was absolutely giddy, meanwhile, My-Reason-For-Living-In-France pointed out that could mean oh-oh, "slippery roads when you least expect it, sort of like those wet leaves you spun on -- in three death whirls [he actually said that, though not at the time] -- the other day. 

"Except ice is worse."

He forgets sometimes I grew up near Niagara Falls, NY, and the last place I lived in the States was in the country outside Manhattan. Although one morning I did slide right out of the driveway, across the road and into the woods in front of our house when leaving late one morning for the train into the city, which made me extra late of course. But, here's the best part, the car didn't hit a tree. To this day, I don't understand why. 

Back on subject: It snowed on Thursday and Friday in the country and for a couple of hours in Paris yesterday. That's where I was in case one or two of you were wondering. 

Chez nous it dusted a few leaves, but not the ground. When I saw the flakes drifting in the air I once again slooooowed down (didn't slam on my brakes), pulled in front of our gate and started snapping pictures. I hope you can see the huge, fat, wet beauties. 

I'm sure all of you who live in snow country do not understand my glee. 

Hope your weekend is as lovely as ours.

A demain.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

News, Views, This, That. . .

Since today is Thanksgiving Eve in the United States and everyone is thinking about what they will be cooking and eating, I thought I would give all of us (even those of us who do not, or no longer celebrate the holiday) a post full of "little bites" of miscellanea which may be savored, passed over, or quickly tasted. 

Are you thinking, "What is it with her, once she gets on a metaphor?" Let me explain, that's what happens when one doesn't have an editor saying, "Whoa, calm down, enough already."

But never mind.

With headlines to help you with your menu, we're off. . .

If I Were A Man. . .

In 2006, Catherine Deneuve told Figaro Madame magazine the following: "Si j'etais un homme, je serais George Clooney."  ("If I were a man, I would be George Clooney.") 

Good choice I think.

If The Pants Fit

Phoebe Philo, the designer for the modern, invigorated Celine collections, has come up with a great idea, a sort of "trouser bar" where women can choose from five different models. All the styles are available through the year and include the following cuts: masculine; classic straight; extra-large with a high waist; pleats; or slim and shortish (skimming the top of the ankle).

Can It Be Returned or Exchanged?

Let's say, for example, someone near and dear offers you this horrible mink and pearl ring from Louis Vuitton. What would you do?

Pearls, But Not Really

Two new nail polish shades for spring from Chanel. Your choice. It depends upon whether you prefer black pearls or white pearls. You could put the black on your toes, white on your fingernails or the opposite and if you happen to be a fan of gray pearls you could probably mix the two.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I Would If I Could Part V: Les Chemises

Since minimalism is the guiding principle of my, "If I Could, I Would" shopping adventure, one blouse or shirt could change separates, a skirted or pantsuit into something entirely new, thus extending its investment with another.

Remember, all the clothes I've chosen last week and this week are for me, they cover my issues, literally, arms, thighs (just to the knee area), and not too, too dippy low in the front, i.e. cleavage is not my thing. I also take into account what I already own, as you would do as well if you were shopping. 

Next week I'll show you a few, mostly dresses, I thought were drop-dead gorgeous, but to my great regret, not for me. Perhaps they are precisely what you've been dreaming about these days.

And finally, remember, I'm shopping virtually, scanning the collections with the precision of a scientist looking through a microscope at every stitch and detail. Then, I take my favorites into my "dressing room" and whittle down. Above are my top three favorites and the single one I chose. And, below the rejects. I like all of these blouses and shirts, otherwise I wouldn't have chosen them, but unfortunately I can't have everything I want. 

C'est la vie. Even in my make-believe world I must display a modicum of discipline. (I really, really, really want that drape-y Armani Privé blouse in the gorgeous pinky fawn color. Actually, I may "buy" it and not tell you. . .)

And the winners are:

1.) Monique L'Huillier -- herself -- after her collection, wearing, for me the ultimate blouse. And the way she has put it together with the cummerbund and tuxedo pants is absolute perfection. I want it.

2.) Ungaro's peasant blouse -- I know, you're shocked (and yes, it's a print), but imagine it with Monique L'Huillier's trousers and cummerbund, red or violet satin shoes. Sublime.

3.) Chloe -- well, obviously.

And the rejects (I do like all of them, but one must be reasonable):

1.) Dolce et Gabbana

2.) Dolce et Gabbana (are you paying attention, Pseu?)

3.) Isabel Marant -- big mistake.

4.) Dolce et Gabbana

5.) John Galliano -- I know, but strip off the weird accessories and you'll see the possibilities.

6.) Aquascutum -- immaculate with the French cuffs. There should be one of these in every woman's closet.

7.) Chloe -- imagine with black or navy.

8.) Armani Privé -- I may cheat on this one.

9.) Armani -- obviously not with my midriff sticking out. . .

10.) Celine -- with a nude body suit for heaven's sake.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I Would If I Could Part IV: Pantsuits!

Theoretically I'm truly in my element. Pantsuits! I love them. I am enthralled by the way they break apart, reassemble, add, multiply, divide. You give a pantsuit an assignment, i.e., an occasion, and no other combination in the closet executes the the mission with such aplomb.

Before you start thinking, "Maybe, but that's not true for all pantsuits." I admit, you are correct, but that's where individual style enters into the equation. They must be chosen with care and intelligence. They are the true workhorses of a wardrobe and for them to morph into multi-taskers, its essential to get the basics in house before venturing out to models that might not work throughout the day into evening. 

You have long ago decided upon your basic color favorites. Maybe you prefer gray or navy over black. Fine. In that case, make sure you have a clean, classic pantsuit in your personal palette, always pristine, pressed and ready to wear. The shape is your call, but the more precisely, well tailored without the bells and whistles, is always the best fallback choice for all occasions. Once your best friend is ready and waiting, you can add a new version every year or so.

If you want to take a gray flannel into evening, put gray lace under the jacket or a pewter lurex T-shirt, add strappy sandals or a jewel-toned satin pump; bijoux, small bag, and out the door. For navy, lace always works, this time it could be in white or cream or navy, of course -- so sophisticated -- and voila. For those of us locked into black as our basic, we already know the infinite possibilities.

On this virtual shopping expedition, I discovered there were not as many pantsuits available in the collections as I would have hoped. I did take many to my virtual dressing room as you can see. My three favorites are at the top. My rejects below. As you know from last week, I am only allowing myself one item from each category of clothing. Minimal is my mission.

And, the winners are. . .

Bottega Veneta

This may have been the most difficult decision to date. Strictly speaking, I more or less own the gray Chloe ensemble, including the coat, and also the silky Bottega Veneta although I have worn it to death and will have to have it remade. Therefore, the mix-up of camel and reddish brown, with the unique style of the jacket from Chloe is my final choice. I have never owned anything remotely like it and think it is remarkable.

And the rejects are:

1.) Marc Jacobs -- The princess style of the jacket almost made it into the finals.
2.)Hermes -- Yes, I know, very masculine in its presentation, but easily broken apart.
3.) Akris
4.) Balmain -- The cut of the jacket is all wrong for me.
5.) Akris
6.) Stella McCartney -- The tunic top is an interesting, unexpected twist on the pantsuit. And, yes, of course, with something beneath unless she would add a gray flannel dickie ( I love that word) for special clients.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Next Week or La Semaine Prochaine

On The Calendar For The Week Ahead

In no particular order:

News, Views, This & That

More Virtual Shopping -- pants, pantsuits, suits, evening wear, accessories. . .

On-The-Street (weather permitting)

And two reminders:  

  • As the holiday season approaches, please do not forget to invite your single friends to your parties and dinners. You could be giving the most thoughtful, generous cadeau of all without realizing it by allowing her (or him) to get dolled up with someplace to go. It's a priceless gift of joy. 
  • Tell me, if you haven't already, whether you would like to be in on the giveaway of Betty Lou Phillips' gorgeous book, French Impressions.
A demain.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Weekend In The Country

On our way to the market today I saw several pheasant couples having brunch in the fields near our house. Per usual, I had the same reaction to them as I do to chic women on the streets of Paris: slam on the brakes; pull over to the side of the road; dump my huge tote on the back seat of the car; start tossing stuff until I find my camera; and jump out of the car in preparation for the grand photo op.

By this time, not a pheasant in sight. My wild animal skills need polishing. I regret this picture is not mine, but you get the idea. My-Reason-For-Living-In-France, oddly enough, never seems to get used to these exercises. When in Paris, he usually says something -- at high volume -- like, "One of these days someone is going to kill you." And variations on that general theme.

(Speaking of slamming on the brakes, the other day on our way home from Paris -- in the pouring rain -- my car started to slide on slippery, wet leaves. And, what did I do? Exactly what you're not supposed to do. I slammed on my brakes. The car literally spun around three times and finished its pirouette on a hunk of concrete. Fortunately there were no cars in the vicinity to join us on the turns and no damage to my car.) 

I'm telling you, life with me is a laugh-a-minute.

Do have a lovely weekend.

A demain.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Une Petite Histoire

Today's post has nothing to do with what I had planned, but after reading the comment following yesterday's piece on cocktail dresses (see below), it brought back long, not forgotten, but stowed-away memories. 

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You say "For those who do not receive enough cocktail party invitations to merit one of these.. what are your thoughts about hosting a small/large cocktail party by yourself, without an escort? I mean, if one finds oneself at 55+ happily single, and way more often than

 not, excluded from many seasonal social functions because of the perceived awkwardness of attending sans beau. I suppose they assume that solo, I am unable to talk, laugh, and make an otherwise valued contribution to the gathering. What say you, Wise One?

November 18, 2010 8:59 PM

Normally, I don't like to get too personal in this space, mostly because my intention is to entertain you, not bore you with memories and experiences. But, it's the exceptions that make the rule, or something like that.

The question and comments from Anonymous (and reiterated by Carole) struck a chord that played in my head through the night and throughout the morning. This is a story about my mother.

She was a young widow, in her early 50s, when my father died suddenly. I was 10-years-old.

 (She was a femme d'un certain age when I was born.) She was tall, slim and beautiful, several times mistaken for Greta Garbo when she shopped or dined in Manhattan.

She never really recovered from losing the love of her life, but beyond that, she never understood the consequences of being a widow -- a woman without a partner. A threat, competition, a predator, all the characteristics she was incapable of being seemed to have mysteriously become part of her persona.

First the real estate agents started calling to see when she would be ready to sell our house. Then abruptly all the invitations to dinners and cocktail parties stopped. With the exception of two close friends, one a widow, the other with a husband who traveled most of the time, she was completely cut out of all social gatherings. 

She was deeply hurt to discover women, and couples, she thought were true friends, were not -- not in her current situation. 

To answer your question, Anonymous, that's exactly what my mother did. She was on her turf, the hostess, and she threw large and small cocktail parties. One of my favorite 

souvenirs is passing hors d'oeurves on silver trays at her parties.  She wore one of her great 

cocktail dresses or palazzo pants, a white shirt and jeweled Papagallo ballerinas and most important, she had a grand time. Sometimes she did cocktails and a buffet, but I can tell you, she knew how to put on a party. In those days, her friends were slugging back Martinis, Gimlets and Manhattans like there was no tomorrow. My mother liked Martinis. (I learned how to make them when I was eight.)

Little by little, she was invited to a few cocktail parties (maybe it was payback, but she didn't care) and the occasional sit-down dinner. 

One thing she learned from her experience as a widow was that if another woman's husband had intentions of straying, he didn't need an extra woman at table to push him into the act. Married men contacted her directly.

I had the same experience as a 30-year-old divorcee.

It's not my area of expertise to give advice, but what I shall offer here is the benefit of our combined experiences. Give parties, go to parties, talk your married women friends into dinners out with you (at the very least lunch), be open to meeting all sorts of new people (I don't mean to be banal, but sometimes we close down), and if some of you are married or with a partner, make sure you never, ever forget your girlfriends. One of my closest friends, a recent widow, whose husband was very sick for a very long time, told me she never neglected her friends and as a result they have not since neglected her.

A final note: My two best French friends, both married, do not feel it's necessary to have a boy/girl/boy/girl table. Often single women are invited and the men are charming with them and their wives are equally so.

Since it is practically impossible to add art to my ramblings, let me suggest the value of owning a tuxedo. You can wear it at your own parties, other's parties, out to dinner and the jacket looks superb with a gray flannel or black pencil skirt and the pants with just about anything. A major investment with major dividends.(You might think twice about wearing it the way Ines de la Fressange has, above, without a little something beneath. That could be a way to make your girlfriends nervous.)

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