Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Lavender How-to: First the Jacket. . .

jacket - Uniqlo
Ed. Note: Seriously, I can't stop wondering "how does she do it?" Janice of the spectacularly creative The Vivienne Files has more ways to mix up more things every day than anyone I have ever seen or imagined.

         Once again she is filling a void as I work through the last details. Now, let me tell you a secret, I think this lavender jacket is lovely, I really do -- for someone else. In fact, I would like to see someone wearing it, but that someone couldn't be me. Pink is another color that strikes fear in my heart, but I love pink. It's one of the prettiest, kindest colors out there. But, I just can't.

         However, tomorrow I shall show you a couple of surprising (!), for me at least, additions I just made to my black, black, black, navy, gray wardrobe. . .

         Thank you again dear, dear Janice.
Trench – Uniqlo, necklace – Brooks Brothers, tweed flats – Butterfly Dream, scarf – Mii Trame, brogues – Tod’s

Lavender jacket – Uniqlo, bag – Patrizia Pepe, pumps – Miz Mooz, bracelet – Atelier Swarovski by Christopher Kane, sneakers - Vans 
Trench – Uniqlo, scarf – Etro, shoes – Sperry Top-Sider, scarf – Hermès, boots – Acne 

Jacket – Uniqlo, sunglasses – Agent Provocateur, brogues – Repetto, belt – Ralph Lauren, flats – Betsey Johnson

Coat – Uniqlo, hat – Lisa Battaglia, boat shoes – Milly for Sperry, earrings – Alexis Bittar, loafers – Marc Jacobs

all clothes - L.L.Bean

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fatigue: Why Is Everyone SO Tired?

Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly being closely observed as she tries to get her beauty sleep.
         First it was stress, now it seems our latest universal complaint is fatigue. (Of course there is the obvious link between the two.) When well rested we're more likely to handle daily "challenges" (love that word) with equanimity.

        Scores of studies have examined the subject and more and more women's magazine are addressing the problem. This week's Figaro Madame had a multi-page article on the topic which I thought I would share with you. The editors and experts were not specifically concerned with sleep deprivation, but rather energy promotion. That's why I thought it was interesting (even though we know some of the tips they're telling us.)

        I'll skip over the section on the cosmetic tricks to hide the traces on our faces: i.e. blushes, lipsticks, et. al. I'm not convinced camouflage works that well except perhaps for those clever "paint on" liquid under eye products that hide dark circles. 

       Here then are "Les 7 Clés de L'énergie" (The 7 Keys to Energy):

1.) Listen: "Learn how to determine your energy limits and act accordingly to "dose" the amount of rest we need." (I'm absolutely paraphrasing this because it wasn't clear. I'm assuming this is the sense of it. I wouldn't have understood it any better in English; it wasn't a question of translation.)

If we switch to silk pillowcases at least we won't wake up with those nasty, though temporary, wrinkles we get with cotton pillow slips.
2.) Sleep: (Well, hello!) We sleep two hours less than our grandparents and less well apparently. "Sleep is when we recuperate neurons we need to function at our best." I guess they're telling us not to squander sleep.

3.) Move: "Physical activity produces DHEA [you know, that supposed magic youth hormone] which also helps reduce stress.

4.) Eliminate toxins: "Breathe fresh air, sweat [just a little, Frenchwomen aren't crazy over the concept], forget about alcohol, cigarettes, coffee and sugar. One night each week, go to bed early without dinner.

Protein and good fats in the morning (eggs, ham, cheese, whole wheat bread, etc.) In the late afternoon, dried fruit, chocolate, nuts because this is the moment in the day when our serotonin levels are at their lowest [the famous afternoon energy slump].

Do not eat meat and cheese in the same meal." Are these people French or what?

Prescribed by my doctor to give me more energy. It seems to work and I love the idea that it claims to "lutte" (fight) against not only physical fatigue, but also "intellectual" -- vive la France (!)

5.) Take a vitamin complex: "Because of diets, stress and just plain too many obligations, women may not be getting the vitamins and minerals they need, particularly vitamins C and B," Anne-Marie Roussel, professor of metabolic biochemistry at the University of Grenoble, said. 

Acai berries.

Goji berries (wolf berries?)
          Dr. Roussel suggests we add the following "pep foods" (her words): all varieties of vegetables, vegetable oils, oily fish, almonds, hazel nuts, walnuts, sea food and the "super fruits" -- goji, acai, and grenade (pomegranate).
6.) Drink, Drink, Drink: Lack of hydration saps energy. We should be drinking lots of water -- we all know that -- but also: herbal teas, green tea, fresh fruit and vegetable juices, in small doses, and chosen from the fruits and veggies of the season.

7.) Pleasure Is Important: At least once a day find a relaxing activity. "Arroser" (to water the garden, plants. . .) -- I'll translate here as re-new/maintain relationships with friends and loved ones. "L'amour, l'amitie, les rapports humains harmonieux . . ., cela vaut tous les spas du monde!" Indeed.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

N'importe Quoi

Interesting. . . I didn't realize.  This looks like a black and white photograph, but it's full color.
            Today truly is n'importe quoi or "whatever" or "nonsense". . . you get the idea. What I've collected doesn't warrant a full-blown  "News & Views" headline because it truly is what-ev-er.

         Let's start with our garden. As you can see, it's covered with about three inches of snow except under the giant pine trees. It has been snowing almost non-stop for several days and everything is beautiful, in a melancholy sort of way, and bracing.

        Moving right along, these colorful, frisky tights are support hose. When living in France one learns that the utilitarian need never be unattractive.

       While Google-ing for an example to be used as an illustration, I found this picture of Princess Grace. I saved it to show you because I think the neckline is gorgeous and immensely flattering.

      Barefoot and bizarre, by now you may have seen these shoes from the Celine spring/summer collection. In fact, I've been saving them for months in my special "News & Views" dossier. They now come under the heading of "better late than never." I find them sort of disturbing.
     For a touch of cowgirl chic pas cher, how about this black cotton blouse from Mango for a mere 15 Euros? "Western" is one of the trends for spring -- if you care -- and I think this would be a pretty, grown-up way to dabble.  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Think Pink. . .

An Alice & Olivia take on the classic trench.
Ed. Note: Off to Paris again today for yet another massage from hell. (I swear this is a research project and if there are anti-cellulite side benefits, all the better, but I'm not counting on that outcome and frankly I don't really care.)

       When I return, I'll do the final edits on the long -- very, very, very long -- chapter on skin. (But full of fab-u-lous advice and information of course. . .)

       Once again, the brilliant and adorable Janice, The Vivienne Files, is filling in with her usual panache. Today she suggests a pink coat. Would you? Could you?

Pink trench – Alice & Olivia, necklace – Miu Miu, wingtip sneakers – Odeon, scarf – Erdem, moccasins – Henry Holland

Pink trench – Alice & Olivia, scarf – Hermès, ballet flats – Taryn Rose, scarf – Dareen Hakim, oxfords – Even & Odd

Pink trench – Alice & Olivia, sunglasses – Ted Baker, rainboots – Merona, belt – J. Crew, boots - Acne

Trench – Alice & Olivia, hat – Kate Spade, loafers – T&F Slack Shoemakers, earrings – Wedgwood, trainers - Hogan
Pink trench – Alice & Olivia, pumps – Kurt Geiger, handbag – Mulberry, bracelet – 1928, boots - ChicNova 
all clothes - L.L. Bean

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A French Country Weekend

       Yesterday we went to the funeral of one of My-Reason-For-Living-In-France's closest childhood friends, a woman I liked very much for her joie de vivre and constant good humor.

        The mass was in the chapel of the Eglise Saint-Roch in Paris. The late Baroque church is immense, but all the way to the back there is a beautiful, intimate space with angels floating on what looks like blue clouds of thick frangipane watching over the alter and the worshippers. 

        Apart from the strength and affection friends and family bring to those who have lost a loved one, which always brings me to tears, I wanted to tell you two remarks the priest made that I thought might touch you as much as they did me.
The chapel inside the Eglise Saint-Roch in Paris.
        In his sermon he told us to say "thank you" more often, every day, to everyone, particularly to those we love who, he said, are often forgotten or taken for granted. He reminded us the importance of simple appreciation, expressed with mindfulness. "Don't ever regret, when it's too late, that you didn't say thank you for all of your blessings," he said.

      Then, toward the end of the Mass, he told us to remember that "absence is not a void." Yes.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Thinking Outside the (Pencil & Crayon) Box

          La jupe crayon or the pencil skirt -- it's not really important which language one uses -- we all know that bottom hugging, reputedly flattering to all figures number is supposed to take pride of place in our wardrobes, even when it shouldn't, some French arbiters of style maintain.
                          So, what do you think? How about one of each?

We say pencil, they say crayon (well, a crayon is a pencil in French), but we're talking about the same skirt.

         In my many interviews, some of the smartest French style consultants believe we should perhaps rethink flirty skirts which they believe can be more forgiving, more feminine, more fun.

Belting an ultra-feminine skirt takes it down a notch to a more sophisticated, less frou-frou look. Now it can be worn to work.

         They are very pretty floating around the legs and they encourage loping if one is so inclined. At the very least my experts say, "no woman should be without one or two" as a change of pace.

         Float-y/flowing skirts also add a softness to tailored separates: think leather jacket, turtleneck sweater, even a strict man's shirt and they do draw attention to pretty legs.

         If one has a small waist, largish hip ratio, sewn down pleats over the hips spilling out into pleats can be extremely flattering.

In order for a pencil skirt to "work" it must cup the derriere, which poses the obvious question: How many of us really have a derriere that meets the challenge cup?
         Sometimes pencil skirts can seem severe, restrictive while those flirty numbers can be so pretty as they move with a breeze and a carefree gait. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Charming Souvenirs

The incredible charm of the souvenir memories dripping off of a golden chain.
          In English, when we speak of "souvenirs" we are usually referring to "something given or kept" -- read tangible -- "as a reminder of a place visited, an event, a first love . . ." The second meaning of the word, rarely employed, is "memory" or the holding of an intangible moment in our minds.

        In French, it's the same, but opposite. A souvenir in normal first usage is a memory and the object used to trigger and honor that memory is the souvenir.

       Are you starting to think, "there she goes again"(?) wondering where my scattered brain is taking us today. It's simple: The memory of my lunch with my dear, dear friend Judy on Sunday who was wearing her charm bracelet on a wrist also decorated with gold bangles of various sizes.

      We played with her bracelet as she ticked off the memories related to the gold souvenir memory markers hanging off of the bauble. She had cats, some with jeweled eyes -- she's a cat person -- an Eiffel Tower, a simple disk engraved with an Indian love poem from her husband and many other charms.

Some of the charms, already on my bracelet: A golden heart that has my mother's baby teeth marks on it,  a baby shoe when Andrea was born and my first German shepherd (these are not my charms, but you get the idea).
           Instantly, I wanted to take my bracelet, dripping with souvenirs, out of my jewelry box, polish it and, after a long hiatus, start wearing it again. A little later, it also occurred to me that there is still room to add more memories on the chain that was once my great grandfather's watch fob and given to me by my mother.

      All the charm of the charm bracelet came rushing back to me.

     I have a French friend who has a gorgeous bracelet heavily laden with her memories, which she says has been one of her greatest jewelry joys. "It also makes gift-giving so easy for my husband and children," she told me. "When they can't think of a gift for me, they choose a charm. I cannot begin to tell you what the bracelet means to me."

      Curiously, my bracelet has no charms to remind me of Paris or France which seems odd to me when I think about it. I have more than 25 years of some of the happiest souvenirs/memories of my life stored neatly away in my mind and yet not one charm to show for them.

      Cliche or not, I think I'll request an Eiffel Tower for my birthday.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

It's All About The Coat

Trench - Burberry

Ed. Note: Off to Paris, to have another massage from hell among other things. Thank heaven for Janice -- The Vivienne Files -- for once again taking over this space with her magic. Look what she has done with one fantastic coat. It's hard to believe that after a major investment, i.e. the Burberry coat, the rest of the wardrobe comes from L. L. Bean. She really is a genius.

Red trench coat – Burberry London, clutch bag – Bracher Emden, pumps – Christin Michaels, bracelets – Dorothy Perkins, boots - Acne

Striped scarf – Brooks Brothers, oxfords – Costume National, scarf – Gucci, athletic shoes – Converse Chuck Taylor’s 
Necklace – Baccarat, wingtips – Rachel Antonoff for Bass, Scarf – Brooks Brothers, boots - Aldo
Sunglasses – Thierry Lasry, athletic shoes – Keds, triple-wrap watch – La Mer, flats - Ferragamo
Earrings – Kate Spade, bracelet – Ted Baker, athletic shoes – Vans, belt – Costume National, boots - Hunter
All clothes - L.L.Bean

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