Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas in Haddonfield

No matter where we are right now or where we’d like to be the rest of the year, that old song rings true as temperatures drop, expectations rise and Santa begins the pre-flight check on his sleigh. There is no place like home for the holidays.

And home for me is a small colonial town in New Jersey.

Fifteen minutes from Philadelphia, ninety minutes from New York and a world away in time, the historic Village of Haddonfield takes on a special magic every Christmas.

It all begins the day after Thanksgiving with candlelight shopping and weekend carriage rides through the center of town to the delight of young and old.

Now wrap up tightly and let’s take a stroll along Haddonfield’s main street.

First stop, the local fabric store where a group of carolers in top hat and muffler has stopped by to offer a hearty “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” in return for a warm smile and a hot cup of wassail.

Have they left Tiny Tim outside to warm himself by the fire of roasting chestnuts? Or perhaps he stayed behind to feed a shiny red apple to the carriage horse.

A few doors down we pass Accent Studio which features the work of local artists. The glow from the candlelight illuminates the beautiful glass creations displayed in the windows (Artists l/r:Richard Stava, Little River Hot Glass).

Shall we stop for a cup of tea at the Picket Fence?

This is a wonderful place to pick up every accessory imaginable for the perfect afternoon tea.


Here we are at the Haddonfield Floral Company where I buy all my flowers.

How can you possibly resist this adorable snowman with his little twig arms wrapped around a beautiful Christmas bouquet?

He’s even cuter than the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Don’t you just want to poke his fat belly?

And a little farther along Kings Highway we come to one of my favorite shops in all of Haddonfield, Georgie Girl.

This delightful, two-story boutique is a treasure trove of clothes and accessories with a decidedly European flair.

The second floor is devoted to gorgeous lingerie ranging from cute and cuddly to drop dead glam. Cynthia and her staff are as knowledgeable as they are helpful. I wouldn’t buy my lingerie anywhere else.

And………….want to know a little Christmas Secret? Rumor has it that Mrs. Claus, herself, is a regular customer. Who do you think puts the rosy in Santa’s cheeks???

And, of course, no visit to Haddonfield would be complete without wishing our oldest resident a very Merry Christmas.

The hadrosaurus foullkii was the first intact dinosaur skeleton every to be discovered. And she was found right here in Haddonfield.

I think she looks just fabulous for her age, don’t you?

Right about now your feet must be starting to ache. Time to stop by the Haddonfield Inn, pull up a comfy chair by a cozy fire, sip some mulled wine and feel the warmth of family and friends.

I hope you have enjoyed your Christmas visit to my town as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you.

Come back again very soon.

Until then, may I wish you and yours all the love and beauty of this joyous season.

(All photos courtesy of Town of Haddonfield's official website.)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Closet Therapy for Florence - Florence Learns How to Shop

In this final behind the scenes look at how Florence found her style, Fifi and I teach Florence how to shop.

Now that Florence had become an expert on her own body, her color palette and her own style, she needed to become an expert at shopping -- in other words, how to shop like a Pro.

Here are three of my top shopping tips:

1) Never go shopping without a list. Mother never went to the grocery store without her list and Santa never leaves home on Christmas Eve without his. In our first session, I gave Florence a one-page list of Wardrobe Basics, all of which can be found in Fifi’s armoire. We used it to determine what Florence had and what she needed, which was almost everything.

2) Never go shopping without lipstick. Sound silly? Not really. Store lighting is notoriously unreliable in determining color, especially in dressing rooms; therefore, your perfect shade of lipstick is a good clue as to whether the lighting has yellow or blue undertones. If your lipstick color looks “off,” check the color of the garment in natural light, if possible.

3) Never go shopping with friends. Do I even need to elaborate on this one? For the Pro, shopping is not a social, recreational activity. Friends slow you down and even the most well intentioned can have a negative influence on your choices. Just because she’s your best friend doesn’t mean she has any taste. Remember the last boyfriend who left her with a broken heart? He wasn’t even worth a broken fingernail!

In her youth, Florence had been a recreational shopper spending hours happily wandering around stores like this one with her girlfriends.

The mix of bright colors and patterns all thrown together in a cramped space is designed to catch the shopper’s attention, but ultimately the eye becomes fatigued by the riot of colors and the mind becomes confused about how to put pieces together.

This is a place to pick up an interesting piece or two (or not) to add to a great, classic wardrobe, but it’s not a place to start building that great, classic wardrobe.

This is where you start to build your wardrobe basics, in a spacious, well lit store like Talbots or Anne Taylor, where great classic pieces that won’t break the piggy bank are organized by style and color. Clothing modules containing pieces that all work together are grouped together, and mannequins display how to pull it all together with accessories. Since they’ve done most of the heavy lifting for you, you can tell at a glance what items to pull for the dressing room.

Working from our list of Wardrobe Basics, we pulled quite a few items for Florence in the warm, neutral shades that complemented her coloring so perfectly. And then and only then did we take a quick look at the “Sale” rack where we found a few pieces that worked with several of the items we had already selected. (The old Florence would have started and stopped at the “Sale” rack.). In under an hour, we had pulled together at least five mix-and-match clothing modules and Florence left not only not feeling exhausted, but dare I say exhilarated.

After hitting a few more stores, we came pretty close to completing our list while allowing for one or two “must have” impulse purchases; after all, I’m not totally heartless. Now it was time for a little fun -- accessories. At H&M we found some colorful, inexpensive scarves and fun jewelry. At a vintage consignment store around the corner we picked up some high end costume jewelry from the 50s for next to nothing. Vintage stores are a great place to find one-of-a-kind statement pieces that can add that all important je ne sais quoi to any classic outfit, and the quality is usually far superior to what is made today. By the end of the day, it was obvious that Florence now had the tools and the confidence to fly solo.

I am happy to report that Florence’s closet is now cured of its identity crisis. You can look in Florence’s closet today and get an immediate sense of the woman and her style. Fifi is very proud.

But, before I close the book on the Florence chronicles, I have one last update to share with you. Do you remember the handsome gentleman who asked her to help him pick out a tie? Well, it seems that Florence has been picking out Alan’s ties ever since that fateful meeting in the Men’s Department at Nordstrom.

This is my latest e-mail from Florence.

“Yesterday, Alan asked me to meet him in the Men’s Department at Nordstrom after work. He had an important meeting the next day and wanted my advice on picking out the perfect tie.

When I got there….no Alan, so I started browsing.

Suddenly, there was a tap on my shoulder and there he was holding a dress shirt in one hand and three neckties in the other. Sound familiar?

‘Excuse me, Miss’ he said, ‘but, which tie do you think goes best with this shirt? You look like someone who would know.’

As I started to laugh, he put a tiny blue box in my hand. ‘Florence,’ he said, ‘would you do me the honor of picking out my ties for the rest of my life?’

Suddenly the Men’s Department at Nordstrom was the most romantic place in the world!!”

Fifi, I think our work here is done.

To read the whole Closet Therapy for Florence series, just click on the titles below:

“Closet Therapy for Florence”

“Closet Therapy for Florence – Florence Learns about her Body”

“Closet Therapy for Florence– Florence Learns About Her Color Palette”

“Closet Therapy for Florence– Florence Learns How to Shop”