Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Something Old, Something New and Something Essential

Well, ready or not……….here it is!   With a nod to the past and a wink to the future, I’m ready to take on 2016.   


But first, a toast to you, my dear Readers.  May 2016 be a year of fulfillment and inspiration for all of you, as indeed your comments and e-mails continue to be for me, for which I am truly grateful.  


Something Old

My New Year’s Eve was spent with old and dear friends.  No matter what I wear on the outside, I always see in the New Year in red lipstick and red satin underwear.  It’s one of my little traditions.  Mme Mère always said that life does not trifle with a woman wearing red lipstick, and red satin underwear is just my way of adding an extra soupcon of insurance to the deal. 


My New Year’s Day evening was spent sipping champagne as we enjoyed the annual telecast of the Vienna Philharmonic welcoming in the New Year from the Musikverein in Vienna, Austria, hosted by the incomparable Julie Andrews.  In my opinion, there is no more beautiful or elegant way to begin a new year than by enjoying a Strauss waltz in the company of Julie Andrews, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Lipizzaner stallions of the Winter Riding School, the Vienna State Ballet and the Vienna Boys Choir.  Of course, the only thing better would be to be there in person, but the tickets are in such demand that I doubt that will ever happen.  Still, I can dream -- in ¾ time. 

Something New

Fanfare, please!!!!  The Pantone Color Gods have declared the following two colors to be the “IT” colors for 2016……….

Normally, I wouldn’t even mention spring colors in January, but Rose Quartz and Serenity are already popping up on retailer’s racks across the country, so I thought you should know. 
Zara is showing this rose quartz (They call it pale pink.), faux fur jacket, which, let’s face it, is really adorable. 


And this ModCloth necklace in Serenity, which they call “Dew,” is a great statement piece at a very reasonable price. 

My advice would be to incorporate the “IT” colors of the season, should you choose to do so, into your classic wardrobe of neutral pieces by adding them as inexpensive accessories.  It’s a great way to give your wardrobe what we call a coup de jeune, a touch of youth, without being head-to-toe trendy or breaking the bank. 

Something Essential

And while we are on the subject of the classic wardrobe, now might be a good time to revisit THE ESSENTIAL item that should be in every well-dressed woman’s closet – the Sheath Dress. 

Bateau Neck Sheath  - Anne Taylor

The sheath dress is designed to show off your curves by lightly skimming over them.  It’s your body proportion that counts here, Ladies, not your size.   

If you are larger on top or on the bottom, choose a sheath with a straight, rather than fitted, skirt, which skims over the hip and thigh area, thereby balancing a larger top or camouflaging a larger bottom. 

Your sheath should never be too tight.  As Mme Mère always said, “A dress should be tight enough to show you are a woman, but loose enough to show you are a lady.”  

V-Neck Sheath with Removable Belt - White House Black Market

I own seven sheath dresses in different fabrics, all of which fall between 1” and 4” above my knee, the best way to avoid the dreaded dowager effect when going classic.  Here’s what’s in my collection: 

1 Sleeveless V-neck in Black
1 Sleeveless Round Neck in Black
1 Sleeveless Mock Turtle Neck with attached fabric belt in Black
1 Sleeveless Round Neck in Navy Blue
1 Sleeveless Round Neck in Moss Green

1 Short-sleeved Round Neck in Light Camel with Embellished Hem
1 Short-sleeved Round Neck in Black-and-White Tweed

Classic Round Neck Sheath - Jones New York

While they all get regular workouts, without a doubt, my sleeveless, round-neck sheaths are the hardest working items in my wardrobe after my jeans, and I never go on a trip without one or more in my suitcase.  The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.  It’s the perfect “dress me up”/“dress me down” place to start for day or evening. 

Mock Turtle Neck Sheath - White House Black Market

Add a beaded or lace jacket, ropes of gold and pearls, a snake-skin clutch and a great pair of d’Orsay pumps and you will look and feel so-la-la chic at your next cocktail party. 

Lunch with the girls or a client requires something a bit more casual chic – perhaps a denim or tweed jacket, bright scarf and kitten heels. 

On my recent trip to the Philadelphia Museum (see “Risking the Wrath of the Gods and Other Treats”), I wore a silky, long-sleeved, black Tee over my green sheath, a long pearl and gold filigree necklace, a multi-colored scarf with black and green in it, black hose, green suede pumps and carried a burgundy suede satchel with black leather trim. 

I sometimes just add a long, over-sized blouse.  I have one in pale yellow that is slightly transparent, which is one of my favorites.  I roll up the sleeves, unbutton the blouse to the waist, add a chunky gold chain belt over the blouse and either a statement necklace or scarf and one of my Hermès cuffs.  So easy! 

The trick to adding layers to your sheath is to make sure that the sheath is not in a bulky material and fits perfectly.  Also, don’t forget that you can add interest by varying the length of your layers.  I call this adding levels.  For example, over the long yellow blouse, I might add a cropped denim jacket.  You get the idea. 

So, Ladies, if you don’t already have the essential sheath in your wardrobe, there’s no time like the present, with all those lovely post-holiday sales, to run right out and find your perfect sheath dress. 

And here’s a little musical motivation from the New Year’s Day concert in Vienna to get you started.  If the Radetzky Waltz doesn’t make you want to march right out and shop, then I don’t know what will……

Happy New Year !!


  1. A happy new year to you too Marie-Therese. I like the serenity blue not sure about the pink, I like bright pink this looks a bit muted and to be worn with care.

    1. I think the serenity blue would look stunning on you. The pink might work as an accent piece or accessory. We both know that colors can sometimes surprise you.

      As ever, thanks for stopping by.

      Happy new year to you and yours, my Friend.

      Cheers, M-T

  2. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
    What a heavenly way to start 2016!
    I was in bed and it all passed me by... Not intentionally of course but I was very sick with the flu.
    But steadily improving and I am heeding myself for not going outside too soon. The weather went from summery temps on Christmas to rather nippy right now with barely above freezing.
    Yes, the sheath dress is always an elegant piece in our wardrobe!
    Sending you hugs,

    1. Ma Chère Mariette,

      Isn't that too funny. We had hot, muggy, foggy weather up north for Christmas. Only the last few days have been what I would term "seasonal."

      I'm so glad you are feeling better, ma chère. You really did have a dose. I had my annual Christmas cold, but it didn't slow me down.

      How many sheaths do you have in your wardrobe? I'll bet quite a few.

      Thanks for stopping by, ma chère

      Cheers and good health in the New Year.

    2. Dearest Marie Thérèse,
      Yes, I do have several of those classic sheath dresses. In Dutch we call it a 'nauw aansluitend jurkje'. Haha, if you translate sheath into Dutch it shows also a condom but that reveals the fit, close to the body!
      I was not up to checking on mine when I commented above.
      But here is my list:
      A boatneck sleeveless black/cream glenn plaid dress with black embroidered roses on, above knee and with jacket.
      A round neck sleeveless cashmere wool dress with silk leopard trim in cognac, above knee and with jacket.
      A silk v-neck sleeveless sheath in dark navy with cream roses on, knee length
      A black wool boatneck sleeveless sheath with red embroidered roses on with jacket, knee length.
      A silk brocade boatneck sleeveless sheath dress, made by me in a pink/lilac/blue knee length: http://mariettesbacktobasics.blogspot.com/2012/06/my-lace-crocheted-gloves.html
      Guess that's it!
      In general I do have more two piece skirt suits or pant suits and some other style dresses, non sheath.
      Hugs to you!

    3. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
      Had marked this post and wanted to react to it...
      So here it is: http://mariettesbacktobasics.blogspot.com/2016/04/wearing-my-escada-sheath-dress-with.html
      Happy weekend to you both!

  3. Happy New Year! What a treat that video was! I loved the "conducting" of the audience.
    Thank you for the tips on sheaths. I need to get myself out and look for some. I had a very nice black crepe for many years, but foolishly got rid of it last year, thinking I wouldn't need it because I hadn't used it for a good while. Big Mistake. We had several social functions I wish I had it for. Lesson learned.
    Mary Lou

    1. Isn't that a fun video? Clearly the conductor was having every bit as much fun as the audience.

      Oooh, so sorry you got rid of your black crepe sheath, but I'm sure there's something beautiful out there just waiting for you. Let me know how you make out. I love pictures, too.

      Thanks for stopping by. Hope to hear from you again.

      Happy New Year, Mary Lou

      Cheers, M-T

  4. MT,
    A wonderful juxtaposition of how opposites can merge as a whole; both old and new. Bidding the last day of 2015 with friends, the next day, I listened to Mahler's Autumn in Japan since it was a gray day and the tones were calm and quiet.
    I have special memories of Vienna- it's where I attended my first live opera- standing room only. Still, it was a long way from my maternal Grandmother's recordings of Rosa Ponselle. But it gave me a taste never to be quelled.
    Happy New Year to you dear one!

    1. Happy New Year, Dear Linda. I, too, am a big fan of Mahler and have come to appreciate his works even more over the years.

      I'm so glad I was able to evoke some special memories of Vienna for you. It's truly a wonderful city. I'd love to spend more time there.

      As to your Grandmother's recordings of the fabulous Rosa Ponselle...........well..............she will never be equaled, certainly never surpassed. What a voice that was!! I'm too young to have heard her live, but Mme Mère did many times.

      Hope this is a beautiful and inspiring year for you, my Dear Friend.

      Cheers, M-T

  5. Et une très Bonne Année à toi Marie-Thérèse. Merci pour la petite film de Vienne. Perhaps this year you will be visiting Paris which is returning to normal after recent events. However, we are all being watchful and careful but at the same time an atmosphere of solidarity exists between strangers. At least some good is coming out of what is horrific and disturbing.
    Bizzz, bizzz,

    1. Dear Swan, je te remercie de tes bons voeux du nouvel an. Much appreciated and I wish you and yours the same.

      My husband and I have been discussing a trip to Paris this year. He's always ready to pack a bag and hop the next plane to Paris.

      It is a time for renewed optimism, but also, as you rightly point out, a time to be watchful, careful and alert.

      Stay safe and, perhaps, we will meet in Paris in 2016. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

      Gros bisous,

    2. Re-bonjour Marie-Thérèse. It would be wonderful to meet up. Feel free to contact me and let me know your dates well in advance so that we can both make a plan.
      Bizzz, bizzz,

    3. When we make our Paris plans, I will definitely let you know. Look forward to meeting you.

      Gros bisous,

  6. Great post M-T! The "new" Serenity color for spring is very nice. I love just about any shade of blue (except baby blue). And thank you for the reminder - I am in need of a new LBD and a sheath would be perfect!

    Cheers and Happy New Year!

    1. I think that shade of blue, Serenity, would be smashing on you. No time like the present to find that perfect LBD sheath. It need not be black, however. I think a warm shade of navy blue (yes, navy comes in warm and cool tones) would be stunning on you.

      Have a happy, healthy and inspirational New Year, Cheri.

      Cheers, M-T


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