Etiquette · Fashion · Uncategorized

White Jeans, Diamonds, and Pearls: Fashion Rules or Fashion Faux Pas?

IMG_0608Growing up my Mother and Grandmothers lived by a series of  fashion rules they considered inviolate.

1.  No white after Labor Day or before Easter.

2.  The same rule applied to patent leather.

3.  Do not mix navy and black.

4.  Pearls were to be worn during the day and diamonds at night.

5.  Purses matched shoes.

Most importantly, you dressed to go shopping, do lunch, or go to the grocery.  Lululemon, was a definite no in the eyes of my Mother and Grandmothers.  I’ll never forget my sophomore year of college.  Sent home by the infirmary with strep throat, I arrived in sweatpants and a UNC sweatshirt; the outfit of any self-respecting college student.  My mother was horrified.  When it was time to return to college my Dad intervened on my behalf as I attempted to leave for the drive back to Chapel Hill in sweats. Mom was distinctly offended by my tee-shirt and sweatpants.  She ultimately relented to my Father’s wisdom that I would only be seen walking from the car to my dorm room.  Somehow this wisdom ruled in my favor.

I routinely break rules 3, 4 and 5.  My go to earrings are diamond studs.  I wear them day and night along with a necklace made from my grandmother’s engagement ring.  So much for the rule of no daytime diamonds.  Diamond hoops are my fall back to my studs.

My mother gifted me with beautiful pearls that are also part of my daytime rotation.  Interestingly enough, I rarely wear pearls at an evening event.  Maybe that part of my fashion education took hold?  More likely, I have dressy earrings I prefer for evening events.

I love navy.  I think that may be a southern thing but prior to living in New York, navy was a wardrobe staple.  Then I moved to the City.  There is something special about living in New York.  After about six months, I noticed that my closet was full of black.  Then I found myself mixing navy and black.  I love the combination.  Maybe it fits me, southern with a love of the City sophistication?  If the Parisians and Coco can mix navy and black, it can’t be all that much of a fashion faux pas, can it?

I routinely rebel at being matchy, matchy.  I usually select my bag based on what I need for the day.  I grab a tote for work days and a smaller bag when the occasion permits.  My bag tends to be in the same color scheme of my outfit but rarely matches my 👠 (shoes).

The white and patent before Easter and after Labor Day, this is the one rule that I find to be unshakable.  I love white jeans.  I live in them, as appropriate, in the summer but come Labor Day, they get put away.  For those that might suggest there is an exception for warm climates, it does not fly. Have you ever been to Charleston?  This is home to the maternal side of my family and the white rule stands firm no matter how high the needle on the thermometer registers.  Somehow the white rule is the one that I still see as a faux pas. It was enforced by my sorority with the clear indication that one should know better.   In the end, I guess some rules are inviolate.

P.S.  Lululemon is a regular thing in my house.

Fashion · Skin care · Travel

How to thrive when your bag takes a trip of its own!

 

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A good friend of mine always worries about the airline losing her bag.  I’ve never fully considered this until my most recent trip overseas.  On a trip that was jinxed from the start and when everything one might imagine going wrong does, what do you do when you finally sink down in a chair in your hotel room with  only your carry-on and a blizzard outside?

By the time I arrived at the hotel, I was exhausted.  I normally sleep on an overnight flight but sleep eluded me on this flight.  Then the re-booked connecting flights, the train, the weather and the new destination of London.  All I wanted was a hot bath and a change of clothes.  Of course the majority of my clothes were on a holiday of their own  – if only my bag could speak.

In my carry-on bag, I had basic essentials.  My makeup bag, brush, toiletries, a wrap I always include in case the flight is cold.  It always is. Things were not looking good for me.  While the idea of shopping for a new outfit is normally appealing, I’d been up for over twenty-four hours,  there was a blizzard outside, and evening was quickly approaching.  A quick word with the concierge and I was out the door to procure essentials.  Just down the block was a chain store.  I ducked into it delighted to find a clearance sale.  That might be interesting.  I grabbed a cotton tank, a long sleeve white tee, and a pair of leggings.

Next up was the pharmacy.  While I had the majority of my toiletries, I still needed a couple of things.  This was beginning to be fun.  I had no clue what one would find in  a London pharmacy in travel size containers.  I grabbed what I needed and journeyed on to one more store for socks.  I desperately wanted to get out of my shoes and socks to the point it was becoming an obsession with me.

Essentials procured, I was back to the hotel for a wonderful dinner and most importantly a hot bath.

Three days later, my bag finally arrived; a bit worse for the wear.

I am happy to say, I love my new purchases.  They were serendipitous and basic but they worked with what I had.  The tee and tank were wonderfully soft.   I was able to pair them with the sweater I had in my bag and the cardigan I’d worn on the plane.  I eventually broke down and purchased a beautiful sweater I saw as I made my way back to the hotel after a visit to the National Gallery.  I confess, I probably would have purchased the sweater regardless of my situation.  The greater point being, I added for relatively minimal expense a few basic items which enabled me to thrive with what I had.   Did I really need a checked bag or is a carry on all I truly needed?  Here is the secret I learned – I was fine with what I had.

I confess, that I was elated when I opened my bag to find all the things I’d packed.  No more washing things out overnight and leaving them to dry.  Oh the conflict- minimal versus comfort!  I know what I will have in my carry-on for the next flight.  I learn and adapt.

So my capsul wardrobe ended on consisting of :  black  cashmere  turtleneck, grey cardigan, grey poncho style sweater,  white long sleeve tee, white tank, black leggings, and jeans.  The  color scheme of black, grey, and white served me well.  I was able to mix and match for the occasion.

Reunited !

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Fashion · Organization

What is your “It” bag?

IMG_0574Sex and the City made certain bags cult classics, if they weren’t already.  The Birkin and the Kelly are certainly “it” bags but I’m asking a more nuanced question here.  What makes a bag or a style of bag your own personal go to bag?  Confession time, I’m something of a bag connoisseur.  I love handbags and have since I was around three years old and was gifted a Chanel inspired bag as part of my Easter ensemble.  I loved that bag and cried and cried when I discovered my Mom “gifted” it to a younger child years later.

I have many lovely handbags but I find that, time and time again, I return to a particular type.  My personal “it” style is an unstructured tote.  The Louis Vuitton Neverfull and the Goyard St. Louis fit the profile perfectly and are the bags I return to daily.  This style is perfect for the “dump”.  In addition to wallet, phone and keys, it holds files, an iPad or laptop, leggings for after work yoga or Pilates or barre class and about anything else I think I’ll need between the time I leave for work and return home.  This style also makes a perfect carry-on bag.  I can’t count the number of times my St. Louis has been stuffed under the seat in front of me on an air plane.

While the unstructured tote is my go to bag of choice, I also have a soft spot for a hobo style bag and a bucket bag.  Goyard’s fidji / hobo bag is a favorite.  Smaller than the St. Louis or the Neverfull, the hobo bag is slightly smaller but still holds everything I might need sans laptop and has the added advantage of a zipper.

Next on my list of favorite bag styles is the bucket bag.  Celine’s cabas /tote is in my bag rotation.  The bucket bag is deep and the chief flaw is its depth.  It is easy for an item to fall to the bottom and get lost but it has the same advantages of an unstructured tote.  It is another “dump” bag.

Do you see the common characteristics?  My personal “it” style bag needs to be:

  • light because I’m going to stuff it;
  • discrete; and
  • able to accommodate the dump because I’m going to fill it with everything I need for a day in my life.

So what are the characteristics that make a bag your own personal “it” bag?

Fashion

The Capsule Wardrobe

I keep hearing about creating a capsule wardrobe.  As I understand it, the idea is to embrace minimalism and concentrate on quality pieces that work together to make fabulous outfits.  I love the concept but confess that I’m having trouble with the execution.

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This fall I promised myself that I was limiting my purchases to items that met two criteria.  The first criteria was that they were basics and quality such that they would stand the test of time.  The second criteria required that any item must work with things already in my closet.  This worked well.  I walked away from some lovely items knowing that I already had similar ones in my closet or that they would not stand the test of time.  The unintended effects were great as in money in my bank account and the re-discovery of items that I loved but were no longer being worn, like my favorite black cashmere sweater.  I’ve had a ton of fun mixing old, forgotten, favorites in with new pieces. I tend towards dimple pieces that I can accessorize with simple pieces of jewelry or a scarf.   I am sold on the concept of fewer quality pieces that stand the test of time.  I also realized that my favorite pieces seem to be those that I found in January at the clearance sales at Saks and Bergdorf’s.  What is better than finding a treasure at 75% off.

In thinking about spring, I’m now trying to decide what direction to take my capsule wardrobe.  For the winter it is somewhat easy, I lean towards  pieces in neutral tones of black, navy, red, and gray.  Cashmere is a favorite and add in jeans and leggings and I’m done.  Booties, boots, and ballet flats are a must for me.

So what for the spring and summer?  I tend to be slightly more casual in the summer than the winter.  I’m thinking white denim and J McLaughlin’s Catalina cloth?  Regardless, I’m embracing the less is more and staying  with black, white, blue and red and maybe pink and yellow or orange for the spring and summer!  Cotton replaces cashmere, otherwise, stay tuned.

Etiquette · Fashion

Cinderella Goes to the Ball

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Okay, I’m not Cinderella, but I do love to get dressed up and go dancing and have a night out every so often.  Doesn’t every girl have an inner Cinderella?  The shoes, the dress, the wrap, the bag, the hair, nails and makeup?  Let’s not forget the jewels!  So you are ready for the big night but there is one ingredient missing, Prince Charming.  So Cinderella went to the ball unescorted what’s holding back an independent, modern woman of today?  Absolutely nothing!  Go have fun, enjoy a great dinner and good friends, a great band and tons of dressing.  Oh, did I mention a fabulous pair of shoes!

Going to such an event is something of a treat.  You want the perfect dress and shoes and accessories.  The bill for a night out can begin to add up.  My trick is to invest in accessories that I can use again and again and find a relatively inexpensive dress.  I have two pair of dress shoes, the Carrie Manolos in black and a par of jimmy Choos in pearl.   They  are neutral and go with almost any dress.  They are my investment but  they get pulled out for every formal event.  For my evening bag, I scoured eBay and my Mom’s closet.  She has some great evening clothes.  I even discovered this amazing black cocktail dress from the 60’s that is now in my closet (don’t tell!).  On eBay I scored a beautiful black Judith Leiber bag that I’ve used again and again.  I also keep an eye out for costume jewelry pieces that can make a simple dress pop.  Two years ago, I received complement after complement on a “bubble” necklace of large clear glass beads.  Worn with a simple black gown and diamond earrings, the outfit was a hit.

Uber replaced the pumpkin coach and off to the ball I went for a ton of fun.  Hey, once a year it is fun to play Cinderella and maybe my Prince Charming will eventually show up.

 

 

 

Fashion

Brrr . . . It’s cold outside!

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I love a good snow and I’m a huge fan of winter but I’m also born and bred southern so when it gets down in the single digits, I’m happy to snuggle up by a nice warm fire and count my blessings.

Still, who doesn’t enjoy a good snow?  There is something I love about a good snowstorm.  I love curling up with a good book and watching it snow.  Even better when the pup snuggles in beside me.  Speaking of the pup, she loves the snow.  Who knew a miniature dachshund would love to play in snow drifts over her little head?

This leads me towards my outdoor wardrobe (and hers).  Kenan has her own wardrobe of coats and sweaters.  A lovely pink turtleneck sweater from Canine Styles and a cute red fleece coat for playing in the snow.  For me, wool gloves, matching scarf and hat with a down coat.  I have two to snuggle up in.  A red Canadian Goose and a black Moncler.  I know there is much debate about which is best.  I love both.  The Moncler has gone with me to Paris and Prague and kept me warm walking in freezing weather in December.  The Canadian Goose was purchased during a blizzard in New York and kept me toasty.

Footwear is key in bad weather.  My first year living in New York, I learned this the hard way.  Growing up sneakers always served as reliable for walking and playing in the rare North Carolina snows.  That first snow in the City proved I was not in the South anymore.  One block from my apartment and my feet and sneakers were soaked.  I went directly to Saks, did not pass go, and purchased a beautiful pair of snow boots.  I still have those boots and have added a pair of Hunter boots with socks.  Both keep my feet toasty and dry.

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Me?  I plan to enjoy this season.  Play with the pup in the snow all bundled up and warm in my outdoor gear and enjoy a good hot fire with hot chocolate or tea to defrost!

Stay warm!

 

Fashion · Travel

Shopping in Paris

IMG_9440I’m not certain if I am an Anglophile or a Francophile but I am mesmerized by Paris and London.  There is nothing like the lights of Paris or exploring the City.  I can and have spent hours and lots of steps just walking and ducking in boutique after boutique at my leisure.  December and Christmas is a wonderful time to explore.  The red flocked Christmas trees, a glass of champagne at the Ritz, or sitting at a cafe for dinner it is a perfect way to spend a few days at this time of year.

There is something serendipitous about what you will find and where you find it.  On my most recent trip I stayed at this wonderful boutique hotel in the triangle d’or.  I arrived from Atlanta to Charles De Gaule at 6 in the morning and made my way to drop off my bags.  It was snowing which added something special to the morning.  I dropped off my bags and headed to the Museum of Decorative Arts for the Christian Dior exhibit.  The exhibit was mobbed but entirely worth it. After lusting over Dior collections I made my way to a lovely cafe for the quintessential lunch of onion soup and much needed caffeine and then returned to my hotel for a nap.  Once refreshed I headed out to explore the area around the hotel and an idea of dropping by the bar at the George the V.

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The area is full of wonderful boutiques in addition to the known designers.  On my previous trip I discovered Davidor, a wonderful jeweler originally from Florida and now in Paris and Hobbs, a store with the most beautiful cashmere and leather goods.  The sweater I’d purchased previously from Hobbs remains a favorite.  Snowing again, a wonderful shop with a display of scarves and sweaters caught my eye and in I went.

Crimson (8 Rue Marbeuf or https:// http://www.crimson-cashmere.com) is a wonderful store with the most beautiful items of cashmere and lambs wool made in Scotland. Scarves, gloves, ponchos and sweaters to die for available for both men and women.  After trying on and selecting a beautiful purple cashmere sweater with the perfect twist on the classic crewneck design, I encountered this wonderful voice that simply could not have been from Paris.  The owner, Linda, is a delightful lady originally from Texas exuding this amazing sense of style.  She is as fun as her designs which are amazing.  After a delightful interlude in the store, making new friends in Paris, purchasing the sweater and gloves, sharing a gold dustedchocolate covered marshmallow, and armed with her advice regarding pickpockets, I returned to my quest for a glass of champagne at George V.  Thwarted by a full house and no room at the bar by everyone else that had the same idea and wanted out of the snow, I retraced my steps to a lovely cafe I’d seen and enjoyed a dinner of steak frites in traditional Parisian cafe style.

My trips to Paris have included other such wonderful discoveries from Dehilleran, a cookware store on steroids, to Christmas markets, pharmacies, and paper stores. A treasured souvenir carted home from Paris is a sheet of hand made paper framed in glass that hangs on my wall.  The best part of Paris is simply finding something unexpected.

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