Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Little Something For Your Holiday Hair

In Secrets of the Little Black Dress I revealed the perfect accessory for the LBD -- a crystal flute filled with Veuve Clicquot champagne. A perfect pairing and my personal favorite!

And so, if you followed my advice in that article, you have arrived fashionably late to the Holiday cocktail party wearing your perfect LBD. The champagne is chilling in a silver ice bucket while crystal flutes wait impatiently to be filled. It should be a perfect evening! But wait….no, no, no!! Something’s not right!! What have you done with your hair? The perfect LBD demands nothing less than the most elegant and classic of hairdos, the chignon. Just ask Audrey.

The high chignon is the most sophisticated version of the classic chignon.

There is not a hair out of place in this sleek up-do. Get your trigger finger ready on the hairspray for this one. You’ll need it.

If you have finely chiseled features, great cheekbones and beautifully arched eyebrows, this is the Do for you. Oh, and don’t forget the drop dead red lips. Your hair says, “Don’t touch!!” while your lips say, “Please muss!”

The mixed message is utterly intoxicating.

If you prefer to send a slightly softer, though still sophisticated, message to that attractive man in the corner who’s been sending you silent signals with his baby blues all evening, go for a deconstructed a/k/a a messy chignon.

This sweet, girl-next-door, low chignon holds the delicious promise that the slightest touch could make the whole thing come undone and you with it.

Now, what red-blooded man can possibly resist that?

Just as the LBD has her perfect accessory, the chignon has hers.

Nestle a beautiful flower in its folds and you have told the world that you are not only fiercely feminine, but utterly confident, because, my dear, if you wear a flower in your hair you will get noticed and you will love every minute of it.

Bzzz, bzzz, bzzz. “Who is that woman with the flower in her hair? She has such style and grace. Do you know her?”

And that attractive man in the corner who’s been sending you silent signals with his eyes will suddenly find his voice as he walks up to you and says, “I love that flower in your hair.”

You reply with a smile and your eyes meet over a glass of Veuve Clicquot. (Sigh!) Can this be Santa’s gift to you this Christmas? After all, you have been a very good girl.

Mr. Spencer had a dream. With the help of his little daughter, Fatima, he turned his inner city neighborhood into a garden paradise of plants and flowers so that his friends and neighbors and their children could see, smell and touch the beauty that Mother Nature can bestow upon us.

Although Mr. Spencer has passed on, his dream lives on in the artistic hands of his daughter.

In 2009, Fatima Spencer began selling her gorgeous handmade creations from a tiny apartment in Ohio. Today, FlowersFromFatima has become an international business. Each of Fatima’s fabulous hair adornments (combs, sticks, clips, head bands, bridal veils, and more) is fashioned with the love and devotion to detail that embody her Father’s spirit. They are quite simply the most beautiful things you can do for your hair.

And lest you think that you must have long hair to wear a flower, think again!

This picture of my Mother, Isabelle, was taken in the early 1930s when she was a highly sought after model.

The color version of this lipstick ad has long since been lost, but she kept the black and white shot in her portfolio.

My Mother’s innate sense of style was obvious even then. The addition of the flower was her idea.

Wear a beautiful flower from Fatima in your hair to your next Holiday party and be ready to start some buzz.

“Who is that woman with the flower in her hair? What style and grace! Do you know her?”

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Pleasures of the Table

The French writer Colette, a renowned epicure, once said that sitting down at table was like “un rendez-vous d’amour et d’amitié” – a rendez-vous with love and friendship.

I have always believed that when all is said and done, the most passionate and enduring relationship in the life of a French man or woman is his/her love affair with food.

For me, cooking for those I love is a natural expression of that love. “How do I love thee?” Let me cook for you and you will see, smell and taste how much I love thee.

There was a time when I hosted elaborate dinner parties on a regular basis. I regret to say that over the years my dinner parties have dwindled to a precious few in number as fewer and fewer of my friends can find the time or the inclination to sit down at table for “un rendez-vous d’amour et d’amitié.”

We get together at restaurants for dinner from time to time, but it’s just not the same.

It’s not just the lack of time which has cast a pall over the pleasures of the table.

While the best of French cuisine can be successfully recreated in world-class American restaurants across the country, what is harder to recreate is the love affair with food that gets lost in translation.

Sadly, the American relationship with food has become increasingly dysfunctional. It has, in fact, become a love-hate affair.

“If you eat this, you’ll live to be 100. Who cares what it tastes like??!!”

“If you eat that, your arteries will clog up and you’ll die.”

“If you eat this, you’ll never get cancer.”

“If you eat that, you’ll get fat.”

The mantra of the American diner has become, “If it tastes good it must be bad; if it tastes bad it must be good.”

Now, I ask you, is that a recipe for romance?

This past Thursday, as happens once a year every year, women across America spent hours in their kitchens preparing to show those they love just how much they love them.

At Thanksgiving Dinners all across the country, families and cherished friends sat down together and each in turn, from the youngest to the oldest, was asked the traditional question on this national day of gratitude, “What are you thankful for?”

On Thanksgiving day every year Americans come the closest to sharing the French love affair with food, and for that my French-American soul is truly thankful.

All table settings courtesy of Hermès. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Secrets of the Little Black Dress

Well, Ladies, ready or not, here they come……………THE HOLIDAYS!!! So, before the madness sets in, no time like the present to take a quick inventory of your closet and see whether or not it can get you through the holiday party season with style.

In fact, now is the time to hunt up that little black dress that’s been waiting oh-so-patiently in the back of your closet for you to remember just how much you love her. And why do we love our LBD? Because no matter our size or our age, she always makes us look perfect.

I know, I know, I can hear your groans of boredom (“the LBD…yadda, yadda, yadda, excuse me while I stifle a yawn!!), but bear with me and I will reveal some of the secrets of the LBD that might just make you re-think this classic essential of the well-dressed woman’s wardrobe.

No discussion of the Little Black Dress can begin without at least a quick genuflection in the direction of the tiny Frenchwoman who invented it, Gabrielle Chanel (1883-1971). Known to the world as Coco, those who worked for her during her lifetime and who work for the house of Chanel to this day refer to her in hushed tones as “Mademoiselle,” in case she is listening. She started by designing hats, but soon launched her own clothing line inspired by the clothes worn by her wealthy lovers, her first financial backers. She adored the simple, clean lines and expert tailoring of men’s garments, and had begun to adapt them to suit her slight frame. As a result, she virtually invented the concept of casual chic, for which every woman owes her a debt of gratitude. And the Little Black Dress would be the final metamorphosis of the black school dress uniform and white collar that she had worn as a student in a Catholic orphanage.

“So, what makes the LBD so special?” you ask, and I am so glad you did. The LBD is so special because, quite simply, she goes everywhere and does everything. She is not just a party animal.

On Friday morning, she goes off to the office in a tweed jacket, cranberry scarf and black d’Orsay pumps; on Saturday afternoon she goes to check out the latest Dada retrospective at the Musée Beaubourg in a denim jacket and red kitten heels; on Saturday evening she meets her very special someone for a romantic dinner at Le Train Bleu in a creamy lace bolero and python pumps; and on Sunday afternoon she takes the train from Paris to the country for lunch with tante Germaine in a cashmere cardigan with antique buttons and grey suede T-straps.

“O.K. You’ve convinced me. So, how do I choose the perfect LBD for me?” you ask, and I am so glad you did. Beyond the fact that the classic LBD is sleeveless, unembellished and beautifully tailored, the secrets to choosing your perfect LBD can be broken down into the following three categories.

The Sheath v. the Shift

The sheath dress is designed to show off the curves of a well-proportioned (bust to hip ratio) small-waisted woman by lightly skimming over those curves. It’s your body proportion that counts here, Ladies, not your size.

It should never be too tight. As my Mother always says, "a dress should be tight enough to show you are a woman but loose enough to show you are a lady."

If you are larger on top (bust) or on the bottom (hip and/or thigh area), choose a sheath with an A-line skirt which floats out over the hip and thigh area, thereby balancing a larger top or camouflaging a larger bottom.

In general, the A-line is the most flattering and forgiving skirt shape a woman can wear, and it looks good on everyone.

The shift dress hangs perfectly straight from the shoulders and works well for women who do not have a well-defined waist or who want to conceal a tummy. The shift dress can also have a slight A-line flair to the skirt.

Neckline and Shoulders
While a small, rounded neckline is the classic LBD neckline, there are many variations from which to choose.

If you have narrow shoulders, a Bateau, or boat, neck, as in the sheath above, is more flattering and the shoulder seam should fall at or slightly beyond your natural shoulder line, thereby creating the illusion of wider shoulders. A small, capped sleeve, as in the shift on the left, can also visually widen narrow shoulders.

If you have wider shoulders and well-toned arms (Lucky You!) show them off with a shoulder seam that stops at the edge of your collar bone, inside your natural shoulder line, or go for a halter neck.

If your face and/or body are round, a square neckline adds a touch of angled geometry to your silhouette and is very elegant. By the same token, a rounded neckline softens an angular face and/or body.

If you are large busted, a V-neck will help to break up the bust line by showing more skin and opening up the décolletage area. The amount of cleavage you show is up to you!

Hem Line
Mademoiselle lived to see the miniskirt of the 60’s era and never missed an opportunity to voice her displeasure at the display of what she considered the least attractive part of a woman’s body – her knees. Mercifully, she did not live to see the return of the miniskirt. While I do not share Mademoiselle’s particular phobia, I do think that the perfect hem length for the LBD is mid-knee or one inch below the knee.

As to the perfect way to accessorize the LBD? I prefer the classic, clean lines of a crystal flute filled with Veuve Clicquot champagne.

And now you know everything you need to know about choosing the perfect Little Black Dress. Well, not quite. There is still one last secret to be revealed.

Since it is as much a concept as it is a dress, the Little Black Dress need not, in fact, be black at all. “Quelle horreur! What is she saying??” you are thinking. When is a Little Black Dress not a Little Black Dress? When it fits like a Little Black Dress but is in a neutral color that might just be more flattering to your skin tone.

While black is definitely slimming, it is not a color which looks good on everyone and can be harsh, particularly as we age. So, why not choose a deep-hued neutral tone that might better complement your coloring – chocolate brown, warm navy or slate grey??!! I own four LBDs – two are black, one is navy blue and the other is a deep hunter green, which does wonders for my red hair and ivory skin.

Or…..what about a fabulous jewel-toned amethyst or emerald green for that special holiday party?

And now you do know everything you need to know about choosing the perfect Little Black Dress, although let’s just keep that last secret between us in case Mademoiselle is listening. No doubt she is having enough trouble coping with the return of ladies’ knees.

Monday, October 31, 2011

My Life in Hats

While looking over some old photos yesterday I realized that, among other things, I had inherited my Mother’s love of hats. Normally I avoid posting pictures of myself on my Blog; however, I have decided to throw caution to the winds just this once and share with you a few of my favorite hats.

Here I am with my Dad in my favorite Easter hat. The entire outfit, including chapeau, was made by my Mother.

She may have made her career as an opera singer, but I never saw her happier than when she had a needle and thread in her hands. Sadly, I did not inherit her sewing skills.

Incidentally, this is the biggest smile you will ever get out of a Frenchman of my Father’s generation. Can you even imagine a big toothy grin on the face of Charles De Gaulle? Impensable !!

I, on the other hand, clearly had no trouble giving a big, gap-toothed grin on command.

A few years after that photo was taken I had my one and only brush with fame.

Princess Grace of Monaco was to visit her hometown of Philadelphia and a big celebration was planned in her honor.

She would be welcomed by children of every nation wearing their native costumes. I was chosen to represent France and present a bouquet of roses to Her Serene Highness.

My picture appeared in the paper (I’m on the right) wearing the traditional headdress of the Alsacian woman. The huge black bow, courtesy of my Aunt in Alsace, was made of heavy satin with wires inserted to keep its shape. Wide ribbons ran down the back to my waist. The whole thing weighed a ton and needed an alarming number of bobby pins to stay on my little head.

When the big day finally arrived, we waited for what seemed like hours on a platform in the middle of Convention Hall. Their Serene Highnesses were running very late.

Suddenly the band began to play “True Love,” Grace’s theme song from her movie “High Society.” I turned to see this gorgeous woman float onto the platform. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Believe me when I say that no picture, moving or still, can ever do her justice. I barely took notice of the short man at her side, Prince Rainier.

The Mayor gave a welcoming speech, Princess Grace said a few words, the band struck up her theme once again and before I could even get the words “Votre Sérénissime Altesse” out of my mouth, off she went in a rustle of perfumed silk. In the interest of time, they had cut my part. I was devastated. I came so close…

Fast forward about 10 years to my summer of Gidget and Moondoggie.

My Moondoggie looked nothing like James Darren. He was a lifeguard on the beach at Atlantic City and he looked just like Brian Wilson of the Beachboys.

I had such a mad crush on him. This was his black fedora. He would wear it to shade his eyes while scanning the horizon. God he was hot!!

I got over the crush by fall, but I never got over my love for black fedoras.

Some loves are well worth hanging on to.

The blushing bride on her wedding day. Of course, there was no question as to who would make my wedding ensemble. It may have been my design but it was entirely my Mother’s creation. As soon as the lace arrived from Alençon courtesy of my Aunt in Normandy, my Mother set to work. Through the heat of a stifling summer, day after day in a small sewing room at the top of the stairs my Mother handsewed each bead and seed pearl into place on my beautiful Juliet cap. And somehow she even managed to find the time to whip up her own dress for the occasion.

And, of course, every woman wants to be Queen for a day.

This was the day I found the Fève in my piece of the galette des rois. In France, Epiphany, the Feast of the Three Kings, is celebrated every January 6th with the entire family.

The traditional cake at the end of the meal contains a small charm or Fève and the person finding it in his or her piece of cake is the King or Queen for the day.

Note that this comes at the end of a meal of many courses accompanied by many wines, hence the slightly jaunty (some might say crooked) angle of Her Majesty’s Crown.

And while we’re on the subject of royalty, I think I may have been having a bit of a Queen Mum moment with this hat.

This is the sort of style she always wore -- brim swept back with a flourish of feathers, fur, ribbons or lace on the right side.

The only thing missing is that wonderful royal wave of the hand and a handsome young footman in a black fedora to bring me my G&T.

Yes, I think I could definitely get used to that.

Well, folks, looks like we’ve come to the end of our tale and our trail.

And after a long hard day of rustlin’, ropin’, ridin’ and reminiscin’ there’s nothin’ like headin’ to the ol’ bunkhouse for some hearty victuals and a few swigs of Ol’ Red Eye, as in Cabernet Sauvignon.

Aaaah. There, that’s better.

Gosh, I hope I had a really good reason for wearing this hat??!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Conversation with Carrie - Why Is This So Hard?

Carrie (not her real name) arrives right on time for her appointment. She is a bright and pretty 30-something who has just been promoted to a prestigious position in her Company and my job is essentially to help her update, upgrade and polish her professional image.

As I spend some time getting to know her I quickly learn that while her career is on the fast track to success, somewhere along the line Carrie’s personal life has run off the rails. In and out of relationships since college, she has just ended an engagement with a man who, by her own admission, she should never have considered marrying in the first place.

“Isn’t there anything out there,” she asks, “between the beer-swilling gamer who lives in his parents’ basement and the moody metrosexual who uses up my La Mer cream? Is that my only choice? Why is this so hard?” Why, indeed!

Most of the women I work with come to me during a period of transition in their professional or personal lives. Sometimes these transitions are exciting and wonderful and sometimes they are difficult and anxiety producing, so I often function as Mother Confessor as well as Image and Style Coach; I always keep a box of tissues handy. Increasingly I am seeing clients like Carrie, young women who are all wondering the same things…………………..

Was it always like this?

Why is this so hard?

Is it them?

Is it me?

The lessons learned while growing up in a neighborhood of rough and tumble little boys would come in handy when those once rough and tumble little boys began ringing my doorbell not to come out and play but to take me out to dinner. We knew what the rules were in those days, which doesn’t mean we didn’t break them. Still, the rules were there if we needed them. “I’m just not that kind of girl!” could be used when appropriate and most men respected it. Sounds laughably old-fashioned now to modern ears, even to mine; however, along with those outdated rules were the clearly defined male/female roles that went with them. The rules are gone; and the roles are gone.

While the rewards have been numerous, the price paid appears to be confusion. Today, young men and women don’t seem to know how to relate to each other; nor do they seem to have a clear idea of what it is they really want from each other.

A wise man once said that a woman marries a man hoping he’ll change, and a man marries a woman hoping she won’t. As the prison warden says to Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke, “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”

Or is it a failure of expectations?

Working with Carrie is a delight, and as we are going over my list of wardrobe basics, the must-have items that should be in every well-dressed woman’s closet, she suddenly laughs and says, “Do you also have a list of basics for Mr. Right?”

The amount of literature and internet sites devoted exclusively to helping men and women find each other, understand each other and live happily ever after is staggering.

Just this month, Madame Figaro interviewed a handful of 40-something Frenchmen for their take on Ce que Veulent les Hommes (What do Men Want). Their responses were interesting but hardly groundbreaking. Men have pretty much always wanted the same thing from women. If they get it, they’re happy, if they don’t, they’re not……nothing new here…….and that only confirms my admittedly unscientific theory based entirely on my own observations – women have declared the old rules null and void and are not sure whether or not to replace them and, if so, with what? As a result, both men and women are wandering around in a state of confusion.

In traditional western societies men were the makers of law, while women were the guardians of the culture. As such guardians, men took their cues from the women in their lives when it came to social interactions.

Maybe it’s time for young women to figure out exactly what it is they really want from men. Sit down and make a list of the things that are really important to you in a man. There isn’t a woman alive, myself included, who can resist the desire to make a few improvements here and there to a potential mate. Just keep this in mind…..it’s easier to fix clothing flaws than it is to fix character flaws.

The holidays will be here before you know it.

Along with your gift list, maybe you should make an even more important list and check it twice!

You never know.

Santa might just have something extra special in his sleigh for you this Christmas.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Bedroom Beauty Bar

We have the French to thank for the word entrepreneur. Unfortunately, we also have them to thank for the word bureaucratie, one of the two major killers of the entrepreneurial spirit, the other being the frivolous lawsuit, for which we have only ourselves and our legal system to blame hélas!

You’ve all heard the stories -- a little girl’s lemonade stand set up on her front lawn to raise money for pediatric cancer is shut down by the police because she needs a business license, peddler’s permit and food permit to operate, even on her own property.

The blizzard of government regulations that have blanketed businesses in just the last few years alone have many small business owners wondering if the American dream of owning your own business is still worth pursuing, let alone possible to achieve.

Is that “can do,” “where there’s a will there’s a way” entrepreneurial American spirit really in danger of becoming one more item on the list of “Things That Aren’t There Anymore?”

According to an article in the WSJ “Mixing Makeup for the Webcam” the next generation of budding beauty entrepreneurs, à la Estée Lauder, can be found right now in the bedrooms of America’s teen-aged girls.

In pink-and-white bedrooms across the country an array of beauty products competes for space with lacy pillows and stuffed animals as these self-proclaimed beauty gurus demonstrate for friends and increasing numbers of fans via webcam how to mix your own makeup and skin care products and custom blend colors that are just right for you.

Call me as “corny as Kansas in August,” but this makes my heart sing with “can do” optimism. These young girls are stepping up to the realities of tough economic times and saying, “Hey, I don’t need to spend a fortune on makeup to look my best. I can do it myself and for a lot less, thank you very much. Just watch me!” And their young fans are watching them by the thousands. I have always believed that not following directions can take you to much more interesting places. Just because it says a product is for “this” doesn’t mean it can’t be used for “that,” n’est-ce pas? Yes, Pa.” And I say, “You Go, Girls!”

Estée’s uncle was a chemist who specialized in beauty products and fragrances for women.

Drawn to his business, after graduating from high school she devoted herself entirely to Uncle John’s business. Her flair not only for naming products (e.g., Super Rich All-Purpose Cream and Dr. Schotz Viennese Cream), but for marketing and selling them to beauty salons and shops was so successful that she soon secured valuable counter space at one of New York’s most prestigious department stores, Saks Fifth Avenue.

It was at Saks that she would perfect the personal, hands-on style of selling that would make her an American success story. And with the introduction of her most popular fragrance, Youth Dew, a bath oil and perfume in one bottle, her international reputation was secured.

Could Estée Lauder have created her wildly successful and enduring international beauty empire with the same indefatigable energy, enthusiasm, intelligence, audacity and sublime chutzpah inherited from her Jewish immigrant parents if she had to do it all today? If I were a betting woman, and I’m not, I’d put all my chips on Uncle John’s niece.

There’s something in the American soil that makes us keep on trying and keep on hoping. It may lie fallow for a generation or so, but eventually that soil brings forth fruit and a new generation of budding entrepreneurs begins to bloom. Tomorrow’s Estée Lauder may be today’s teenager mixing up a pot of lip gloss in her pink-and-white bedroom. Only time will tell.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pump Up the Volume of Your Style in a Neutral Pump

Ever since Kate walked down the airport steps at LAX last July in a fetching pair of pointed-toe neutral pumps, the fashion world has started singing the praises of this quiet classic, and, although they may be late to the party, I say come on in, boys and girls, and kick off your shoes; it’s time to pump up the volume and pay tribute to one of the most flattering shoes a woman can wear.

Why? Well……………..

First, the neutral color visually extends the line of your leg, particularly with a pointed toe (and who doesn’t want to lengthen the look of her legs??);

Second, the nude/neutral color adds a naughty element to this nicest of lady-like styles; and

Third, it goes with absolutely everything.

Need I say more?

Here are a few of my quick picks for this season.

The Buffy heel in beige from Coach ($198) illustrates why the neutral pump is always in the running for Best Supporting Actress in any woman’s wardrobe.

Slip your tootsies into this stunning little number with its stacked leather platform and stiletto heel and you are instantly the Star of any show.

And that little stud detail on the heel gives it an unexpectedly sexy edge. This shoe is guaranteed to bring strong men to their knees with every step you take.

This crisscrossed peep toe pump, the Sashay, from Stuart Weitzman ($298) will add an oh-so-lady-like touch to any outfit you wear from skinny jeans to pencil skirt to your sexiest LBD.

And a dab of flame red on the toes will add a dash of movie star vixen to this flirty and feminine shoe.

Thinking of investing some of your capital in gold? At $50, this gold Anne Klein Pinchins pump won’t put even the smallest dent in your net worth, although the snakeskin texture will have everyone convinced it did.

The moderate heel height and cushioned foot-bed will have you running from high-powered meeting to high-powered meeting in total comfort.

And, do you remember that I said bows are really hot for fall?

Nine West’s Flax shoe ($60) comes in a variety of colors, but this deep honey is a real honey of a color in my book,

This sophisticated shoe is an inexpensive example of the classic pointed toe pump that you will wear for years to come, because no matter what you are wearing with it, it always looks so right.

If after all this you find you still need a little color in your fall shoe wardrobe, I totally understand.

May I recommend RSVP’s Rossana ($49) in burgundy (this season’s hot color!) patent?

This should be enough to punch up anything you can throw at it.

Think of it as a fall neutral and you can’t go wrong.

Now, aren’t you ready to pump up the volume of your style this fall with a great neutral pump? I know I am; in fact, I think I feel the urge for a power walk coming on…………I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fall Fashion Flash 2011 – Part 2

In my August post Fall Sneak Peak - And It’s One More Time, Again! I talked about the return of retro (isn’t that redundant?) and bows, ruffles and fringe on blouses and shoes for fall.

In Fall Fashion Flash 2011 - Part 1 I talked about this fall’s hot color, Bordeaux/Burgundy, the return of the skirt, the importance of the LBS (Little Black Skirt) and how to put a great outfit together for fall.

Now that we’ve put that great outfit together, what do we put over it when those fall breezes begin to nip?

This handsome L.L. Bean Cotton linen field coat (left) from their Signature collection has a cozy flannel lining and roomy fit. I just love the chamois detailing at the top and the vintage feel to it. Almost makes me want to grab my skeet rifle and yell “pull !” My guess is, though, that this will become your favorite run-around town, weekend jacket. And at $175, it’s definitely good value for money.

This great Jessica London military trench (right) is ONLY available in sizes 12-28. Eat your hearts out, all you Skinny Minis out there. Oh, wait….I forgot…..you don’t eat! This classic trench is designed to flatter you lucky ladies with curves, with its adjustable drawstring at the waist. The hood collar is detachable, it’s fully lined, and it’s machine washable……..don’t we love that? And, here’s the best part………..it’s under $100………..don’t we really love that !!

This swingy AB Studio double-breasted cape (Left) is vintage Boho meets city chic with its stand-up collar, epaulets and front button opening, which makes it easy on and easy off. It comes in black, is machine washable (love it!) and it’s available at Kohls for under $50. Are you in love yet?

O.K., I confess. I really, really have fallen in love with this Trina Turk Pan-am cropped coat (Right). Naturally, it’s the most expensive of the group at $398 and it’s the least practical in terms of how often you can wear it (it will get noticed and it will get remembered). Still, it is just so deliciously 60s retro with its ¾ sleeves, bold plaid (oh look, there’s this fall’s hot color, Burgundy, in there!) and big buttons.

It would definitely be perfect over an LBD or an LBS and/or black tights or your favorite skinny jeans. And wouldn’t this be a perfect time to pull out those vintage black leather opera gloves hiding in the back of your dresser drawer? Perfect. (sigh!) Available through Amazon.

You’ll see lots of slouchy, large-brimmed hats in the stores this fall. The French call them capelines and they are the perfect way to add a bit of je ne sais quoi to any outfit.

I admit to a real weakness for this most feminine of headgear, but it’s true that you do need a certain attitude or hauteur to wear them properly, and you also need lots of head room in your car.

If you spend your life being driven from point A to point B in a Rolls Royce Phantom, which is designed to chauffeur ladies who sip champagne and wear extravagant hats, then by all means these are definitely the chapeaux for you.

If, however, you spend your life in and out of your Mini Cooper, running errands, picking up the kids from school and juggling bags of groceries, the rabbit felt fedora on the left or the cute little cloche (an absolute steal for $17 at Old Navy!) on the right might be more your style.

Lest you think I am being entirely too conservative and practical in my fashion picks this fall, allow me to shake things up a bit with – les socquettes.

Call me crazy, but I think they are oh-so-cute on the right woman (very young to youngish) with the right legs (long and lean). And peaking over the top of a pair of booties, they just look so chic.

You will be relieved to know, however, that this is a fashion statement I am not personally prepared to make.

Well, there you have it, Ladies. I’ll be in touch soon with my impressions and thoughts on Fall Fashion Week in New York. In the meantime, just thought you’d like a quick update on my burgundy pencil skirt………….it still fits!! Benjamin Franklin was right; God does want to see us happy. Cheers!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fall Fashion Flash 2011 – Part 1

It’s fall Fashion mid-week in New York and everything and everyone has shifted into high gear. As for me, I am keeping a respectful distance while maintaining a watchful eye on the proceedings. More on that plus tard when all and sundry have folded their tents and the dust has settled.

In the meantime, while we wait for the weather to switch gears from summer to autumn, here’s a heads up on what you’ll be seeing on the streets of New York and Paris this fall.

This season’s hot color is Bordeaux if you’re French, and Burgundy if you’re American. Oddly enough, while the Bordeaux region of France is indeed famous for its reds, the Burgundy region is famous for its whites.

Hmmm. I’m just sayin’. Anyway……….

Burgundy comes straight from the cool color palette of winter and looks best on you Summer and Winter gals with pink and rosy undertones to your skin.

Does that mean that those of us who look best in the warm shades of spring and autumn should risk the ostracism of our fashion forward friends by avoiding Burgundy altogether (the color not the wine)?

Absolutely not! You may now breathe a sigh of relief.

For you Spring and Autumn gals (I’m a classic Autumn) who look best in warm colors, the trick to wearing cooler colors is placement. In other words, where you wear it is what counts.

The colors in your color palette, your most flattering, should be worn closest to your face: tops, scarves, earrings, necklaces and hats. Colors not in your color palette should be worn away from your face: skirts, trousers, bracelets, shoes and handbags.

Here are some examples of how to do it.

The young lady on the left wears a blouse in a multi-colored print of cool and warm shades with cool Burgundy being a dominant color. The green fedora picks up the warm green in the blouse creating a warm frame around her face.

The young lady next to her has added her touch of cool Burgundy in her tights, and should she opt to pull all her warm and cool colors together with a unifying accessory, she could drape this triple print scarf from Zara around her neck. Get the idea? Go ahead and have fun with this season’s hot color, cool Burgundy; just be careful where you put it.

By the way, have you noticed what all these young ladies are wearing? This season it’s all about separates. Remember the return of the bow blouse in my previous post? Well, what goes better with a great blouse than a great skirt, this fall’s most important must-have item.

And, on the list of essentials in any well-dressed woman’s wardrobe right next to the LBD should be the LBS, the Little Black Skirt.

These adorable Little Black Skirts are all available at Zara for well under $100, which makes them not only adorable but “chiconomic.”

The classic A-line on the left with the zipper detail is flattering on absolutely everyone and will quickly become your favorite go-to piece.

The versatile panel skirt on the right is figure forgiving for those who need a little forgiveness, especially in the tummy area.

And every gal needs a great black leather skirt in her repertoire for those moments when she’s feeling sexy and sassy.

And, this, Ladies, is how you put together a great head to toe look for fall ------

Start with a classic grey wool skirt;

Top it with a burgundy wrap leather jacket;

Add black tights and a trendy pair of black-and-white spectator booties.

Then, top the whole ensemble off with a black vintage cloche hat with a magenta ribbon that gives a great pop of color near your face.

Et voilà! -- Casual chic at its most charming. These pieces are available at H&M.

What makes this outfit work so beautifully is the harmonious use of cool colors and the mix of materials and textures which creates visual interest and movement.

All this has inspired me to take out my burgundy wool pencil skirt from several seasons ago and see if it still fits. But first, I’ll pour myself a glass of Bordeaux. I will either be drinking in celebration or as consolation.

Either way, I agree with Benjamin Franklin who said, “Wine is constant proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy.” And if God wants to see me really happy, my burgundy pencil skirt will still fit.