Monday, February 28, 2011

Taking On The Challenge

This morning I awoke to an e-mail from my friend Jean Rafferty. It was in the form of a challenge, or perhaps a simple request for information and/or confirmation. 

She said, "My choice is Reese Witherspoon in Armani Privé (from as much as I can see). It may have a non-visible, unqualifying bustle."

She then asked me which actress I thought looked best on the Red Carpet at last night's Oscar presentations.

I didn't stay up all night to watch the show, therefore I can only turn to the Getty images offered on the Internet (and shown here) which may not include a sublimely gowned and groomed actress I might have chosen. As those of you who know me well, and I think many of you agree with me, I really, really, really wanted to say, "Forget the rest, Helen is the best." Helen Mirren that is -- not Helena Bonham Carter for heaven's sake.  But my beloved Dame Helen turned to the other Helena's favorite designer, Vivienne Westwood, and disqualified herself from first place.

Do we like her new, short haircut? 

My favorite dress was the Art Deco-y inspired slither of beads by Naeem Khan worn by Annette Bening. However, I have a few words I would like to address to Ms. Bening: Please, please do something with your hair and that new, weird smile of yours -- I suppose it's to lift and smooth your chin and neck -- is more like a grimace and makes the cords on your stretched out neck look terrifying. Your welcome, any time.

Other favorites of mine include: Sandra Bullock in Vera Wang, Gwyneth Paltrow in Calvin Klein, Rhea Durham (Mark Wahlberg's wife) in Naeem Kahn and sorta, kinda, Halle Berry. Regarding Halle Berry's Marchesa gown -- not that anyone is asking me -- I would have ripped off that pile of tulle before leaving the house. It did make her look like she was walking on a cloud, but it also looked like a design afterthought and completely unnecessary. 

A special award should go to the sublimely divine Rodarte dress Natalie Portman chose.  She certainly knows how to rock waiting for baby.  Don't you just love the tassel earrings from Tiffany? 

Jean's choice, Reese Witherspoon. I agree, it's sober and elegant.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Next Week or La Semaine Prochaine

In no particular order -- it's so much fun to be whimsical -- here's what's on the agenda for the week ahead:

1.) News, Views, This & That

2.) I HOPE on-the-street -- I'll do my best.

3.) Questions answered with visual aids regarding the resort vacation you're taking and I'm not.

4.) Catching up on some lovely awards and re-distributing them your way after I profusely thank the donors for their kindness.

5.) Surprises.

Think of me tomorrow in the sous-sol of BHV. Yes they still have the birds -- or at least they did the last time I drove by as fast as I could --  and I agree that part is charming. 

A demain.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Weekend In The Country

You are all aware, without my having to mention the fact on every post, that I am living the most glamourous life one could imagine. My life is sort of a synonym for glamour or glamor -- both of them if you will.

Case in point: yesterday the lock/closure/thingie on the back door broke. Need I add that I happened to be the last person who touched it? I didn't think so. These are the sorts of situations that send My-Reason-For-Living-In-France into a tizzy which includes long discourses about the fact the thing was custom-made some 35 years ago (pre-moi), the company no longer exists, we'll never find the same thing, and since the handle matches other doors everything will have to be changed to keep the theme going, and on and on.

He's a Pisces and an architect which means I am then entertained by highly technical explanations on how this major problem can (and cannot) be solved. 

I suggested we simply put a large German shepherd on the inside looking out of the door and that's that. He ignored my very practical solution. 

As I was saying, oh the glamor, we are now embarking on the "hopeless" search for a replacement in our corner of the world. On Monday, because we know we won't find the thingie today (even though we've scheduled lots of time to waste looking), we will hit BHV in Paris. 

For me going to BHV (Bazar Hotel de Ville) in Paris -- and yes, I realize many of you love that place -- is the equivalent of a blood test when they can't find the right vein and have to resort to the one on top of your hand, except with a lot more people in attendance. 

I'm now trying to pull together an appropriate outfit that will reflect my enthusiasm for the project before me. I'm thinking black-on-black hits just the right note.

P.S.: I forgot to clarify, we own the aforementioned German shepherd. In fact we have two, though I'm not sure the 14-year-old can hold up the rear guard. (Sometimes I think we know each other so well I make assumptions and forget to give you pertinent details.)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Warm Weather Dressing Part IV

Mulling over yesterday's post about how I would pull together a capsule wardrobe for the resort vacation I'm not taking, I decided instead of seeking professional help to assist me in withdrawing from my black-all-the-time-almost-every-day neurosis, I would try to detox on my own.

I've taken what I consider a professional approach to my problem while at the same time assuming you may or may not suffer from the same malady and thus we could all profit, as the French say, from my treatment.

Charts and imagination are involved so I require your attention. It can be divided attention because it's not that complex considering the source.

Alrighty then, let's begin.

Yesterday's post for a sun drenched vacation was built around black and white. So, in the middle of the night when ordinarily I have nothing better to do than sleep, I asked myself this simple question: "Why couldn't you do the same thing with, say brown or navy for example?" 

And my answer to me was, "Well of course one could. You really are a genius." An hour or so later I fell asleep.

The Brown Approach:

1.) Travel in a brown pantsuit, white or pale blue shirt, brown and white striped seersucker waistcoat and ballerinas in brown patent leather. A shawl, to be discussed.

2.) Pack one or two pairs of white trousers (or your shorts or your capris or whatever you prefer, but at least one pair of trousers, please). In this case you could perhaps opt for beige pants if you're afraid of white.

3.) One pair of brown striped seersucker trousers.

4.) An appropriate collection of T-shirts and tanks in white, brown, beige and a color (back to that in a moment).

5.) A long skirt in browns and beiges.

6.) Two tunics. If you have great legs they are a super beach cover-up and they can be belted if you want a different feel.

7.) A brown T-shirt dress -- long, short, whatever you like. This is not a once-in-a-lifetime investment item so don't think of it as a LBD gone awry. It is something else entirely and packs like a dream.

8.) Two white shirts and another in let's say pale blue or pink or beige for example.

Sandals by Christian Louboutin and ballerinas from Tory Burch.

9.) Pretty sandals, another pair of ballerinas. 

10.) Jewelry of your choice, remember coral and turquoise look splendid with brown.

11.) Two or three swimsuits and two pareos. Note to self: the pareo is a bijou on vacation as an all-purpose cover-up.

12.) Two cardigans, one in brown, the other to be negotiated.

In Your Navy:

1.) En route: navy pantsuit, white or light blue or pale pink shirt, blue and white seersucker  waistcoat, navy ballerinas. Shawl to be discussed.

2.) White trousers.

3.) Blue and white seersucker trousers.

4.) Long, blue summer skirt of your choice. In the case of navy, maybe you would like a long white skirt?

5.) Appropriate collection of tanks and T-shirts, including white, navy, Klein blue and colors to be discussed.

6.) Two tunics.

7.) Two white shirts and another in pale blue or pale pink or lime for example.

8.) Pretty sandals and another pair of ballerinas.

9.) A navy T-shirt dress. Again, it's a great go-to piece and works with several above mentioned separates. It's not a long term investment, but it will pay for itself. Enough said.

10.) Jewelry and accessories of your choice, and may I point out once again turquoise and coral continue to keep on giving. Add some shells to the mix.

11.) Two or three swimsuits and two pareos. Make sure one of the pareos can double as a back-up cover-up for evening.

12.) Two cardigans, one in navy, the other to be negotiated.

Steel yourself, for the show and tell. Please use the color charts as reference. One, as you can see, shows the seersucker spectrum, the other cashmere (probably pashmina) color choices used here solely for demonstration purposes.

Coordinating colors:

In choosing your extra shirt, ballerines, tunics, cardigan, pareo, etc. think of all the tones that add tropical punch to your foundation color.

Brown loves: coral; certain purples and mauves; turquoise; fuchsia; pinks; some bright blues; beiges (of course, but not thrilling); and yellow if you dare for example. Don't forget brown on brown.

Navy loves: white (yes, I know, duh); other blues; lime green; pinks including shocking pink; fuchsia; purples and mauves; turquoise and maybe coral, maybe not. And, don't forget the chic of navy with navy.

**I know many of you don't have the same affinity for linen as moi meme, which I understand, but a lined linen jacket in a dark color I've found does hold its crisp shape with few wrinkles. If you are still not convinced you have chino, cotton and other blends that hold their own. As with everything worth owning, time and patience are usually involved in the hunt for the best. The wrinkle issue is one reason why I love seersucker.

All tunics are from Tory Burch.

News Bulletin!

Today's post is under construction. It involves a complex math problem with charts and, and. . . well, you'll see. It might be brilliant. It might be. 

Just back from Paris. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Warm Weather Dressing Part III

It's not that I wish this series to be "all about me," but to my chagrin I've discovered as I try to pull the story together I keep flipping back to "what would I take?"  It's sort of embarrassing. Talk about your unbiased journalist.

New approach. Let me tell you what I wouldn't include because the first rule of traveling, no, make that dressing period, is you have to have clothes you would actually wear. Makes sense don't you think? 

Can't get much more basic than that.

Here is an abbreviated list of clothes that I would -- admitting upfront the qualifiers, "probably" and  "unfortunately" -- not pack.

1.) Shorts of any length.

2.) Revealing sun dresses unless I kept them covered up at all times. Kind of a drag really.

3.) Cropped pants. On me they look like regular pants that I've outgrown. 

4.) And, alas, a bikini.

In my most charitable and loving heart, I hope all of you are folding the above mentioned articles into tissue paper -- you know, it prevents wrinkles and all that -- as you read these words. 

The following is what I would wear while traveling and take with me for the vacation, which, as I've mentioned, is totally virtual for me. No matter.

1.) Black linen pantsuit. 

(You're right, I should choose navy. Maybe next year when I don't go to a resort again.)

**Ummm, lemme explain: You see the white linen suit up there? That's the suit I would have, except in black, but I couldn't find it in black so please make the leap of faith. Merci par avance.
I wouldn't mind owning it in white too, but I'd still need the black. 

2.) White linen trousers.

Lose the rope.

3.) Black and white seersucker trousers. (Same thing, here and above, pretend you're seeing black and white stripes.)

4.) Black and white seersucker waistcoat.

5.) A collection of  long -sleeve T-shirts and tanks in white, black, Klein blue, one polo in Klein blue. One of the tanks will make a twin set with the below mentioned cardigan.

(I don't like short-sleeve T-shirts, except for polos which are not really T-shirts, I don't think they're chic. Let me know if you don't agree, or not.)

6.) A long, full skirt.

7.) Two white cotton shirts.

8.) Two classic tank swimsuits, with a medium leg cut -- neither the matronly long version nor the high on the cheeks Vegas showgirl interpretation. One in black, the other in navy (or brown).

9.) Two pareos. One cannot leave home without them. And, as you know, they're great cover-ups as in back-up shawls.

10.) One cashmere shawl in Klein blue.

11.) Two tunic tops -- one for shopping, the other more embellished for dinner. (The two shown here are by Tory Burch -- she soooo gets it.)

12.) Two summer light cashmere or cashmere and cotton cardigans, one in the same blue, the other in black.

13.) A black T-shirt dress, long or short. At the top from Talbots.


Panama hat.

Lots of coral and turquoise jewelry plus fun, wooden or plastic bangles.

Sunglasses (duh).


Bright blue patent leather ballerinas.

Black ballerinas.

Pretty sandals.

One cummerbund and a couple of grosgrain ribbons to work as belts. Yes, I might use a shell brooch as a belt buckle.

I'll shop for a new straw tote at a market when I get to wherever it is I'm not going.

With my suit on the plane I'll be wearing: My black ballerinas, white shirt, seersucker waistcoat, blue shawl. I'll have a large tote which is my handbag and a carry-on.

(In case you think I've over packed, I'm staying two weeks. So there.)

Ed. Note 1: Regarding the suitcase in the earlier post today -- and the read toes -- everything belongs to my daughter who is a Virgo. I was so amazed that I photographed it last fall.

Ed. Note 2: I have a few more items and coordination options to discuss in the final chapter of this saga tomorrow. I know you were expecting on-the-street pictures, but no one is on the streets. It's raining in Paris, boutiques near us are closed and everyone else is skiing. I'll make it up to you.

Warm Weather Dressing Part III

Off to Paris. Upon my return, chapter three of the riveting "What To Wear If You're Lucky Enough To Be Going To An Island" (even though some people are not) series will pick-up where we left off yesterday. 

A bientôt.

(In other words, I'm running late again.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Warm Weather Dressing Part II

As we (that's the editorial "we" because unfortunately I'm not going anyplace) continue to pack and prepare for sunny escapes, let's be practical for a moment.

Apart from choosing wardrobe items that will meld and multiply with panache, one wants to travel light. If the airline restrictions about size and weight for our luggage have taught us nothing else, it's that "yes we can" travel light with style. As with anything done well, packing for winter vacations takes intelligence and creativity.

With that in mind, a few "rules" to remember:

1.) Wear, as you are traveling, the more cumbersome pieces of clothing you feel you can absolutely not live without. Maybe it's a linen pantsuit -- or another material if you worry about wrinkling, personally I love linen -- sling a cardigan over your shoulders and toss a shawl, which will double for an evening cover-up, into your handbag.

(You know, if I were traveling in this seersucker pantsuit it would be either navy or charcoal striped.) 

2.) This is just me, but I always travel with a super large bag, like this one from Tory Burch. It's smaller than a tote, but I assure you, it can tote plenty of stuff. It's where I usually stow another sweater, a small handbag (which doesn't travel empty either btw, in fact nothing does including shoes packed in my check-in bag) and the usual: Kindle, notebook, pens, small make-up bag, agenda, large bottle of water, effervescent vitamin C, flip-flops etc.

3.) In the suitcase, there must be absolutely nothing that doesn't multiply the possibilities of something else. Otherwise, it stays home. A suitcase is not a closet. 

4.) Since sun is the destination, it's best to think layers. Two light sweaters instead of a single heavy one. Peel off or pile on as necessary. 

5.) You know the three shoe rule: one pair on your feet, two in the suitcase. (If you really want an extra pair of  flat sandals, for evening let's say, they take up absolutely no room in your tote/handbag or carry-on.)

Wouldn't these Chanel ballerinas be sweet with the suit I wouldn't be caught dead in? (Or, for you grammarians: The suit in which I wouldn't be caught dead.)

6.) Wear clothes you know are comfortable, your good friends. If you shop for something special specifically for your trip, make sure you're not going completely off your style personality. You might force yourself to wear it on vacation -- after all, you won't see these people again -- but it will no doubt languish in your closet upon your return.

7.) Only you know the fabrics you like. I like linen, seersucker and cotton. Not cotton pants or skirts with the exception of the long number from yesterday, but a collection of T-shirts and, yes, my white shirt would be an essential for me. Both look great with a pareo, the shirt tied at the waist, the pareo as a skirt. 

Imagine the possibilities of this adorable seersucker waistcoat -- skirts, pants, in all their incarnations, bare or over a T-shirt or shirt.

Depending upon the length and proportions of a sun dress, a shirt (again tied at the waist) or a cardigan can make it appear like separates. 

8.) Cotton knits, if you like them, pack beautifully.

9.) Your style dictates capris, crops, bermudas, jeans or trousers. This is your call. Wear or pack at least one pair of trousers though, they add a certain polish you may be happy to have in reserve.

10.) Since it has been a long winter in many parts of the world, think of how much fun it would be to slip into a dress -- long or short -- and/or a skirt.

11.) A few things you already know (but if I didn't mention them, you might think I didn't know):

  • Grooming, grooming, grooming before departure.
  • Pedicure in some wonderful color.
  • Major SPF products.
  • A fountain pen to write REAL postcards.
  • Serious, nasty ray filtering sunglasses.
  • If you have light skin, a self-tanner on your legs before you leave will put you in the mood.
  • Whatever you can't live without no matter where you are. 

Now is probably not the time to pack serious jewelry unless you are staying in a five star resort hotel with a vault or chez un ami. Think fake, think fun, think color, think sun, sea, sand -- shells, beads, etc.

Finally, as with all precision dressing, build your vacation wardrobe around a central color like black (I can't help it), navy or brown for example. Of course you'll be packing some white, but it might be dangerous, unless you never spill your tropical cocktails, to have an all white base.

Btw, please don't send me a "wish you were here" postcard, because I do wish I were there. And I'm not. 
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