Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Is That What You're Going to Wear??

I am now going to do something I have never done. Today’s post is addressed to men at the request of a woman.

Do you remember my smart and pretty, 30-something client Carrie? (See “A Conversation with Carrie – Why is This So Hard?”) Well, I ran into her over the weekend. I hadn’t seen her for over a year.

“You look just great, Carrie, how is everything?” I asked.

“Let’s put it this way,” she replied, “professional life - high fives; love life - no fives.”

The latest in a series of dating disasters occurred last week, when the cute new guy at the office asked her out – dinner and a movie. She was excited. She put on her favorite, summer floral dress and coral wedgies.

When the doorbell rang, she opened it to find him standing there in baggy cargo shorts, wrinkled tee-shirt and flip-flops. Whether he realized it or not, his sloppy appearance sent her a clear signal that their date was no big deal – not as important as dressing up for the office and on a par with a night out with the boys.

“I was so deflated,” Carrie said. “I mean, I know it’s summer and guys want to be casual and comfortable and everything, but I spent time putting together a cute outfit, and he looked as if he’d just pulled his clothes out of a dirty hamper. He was nice enough, and this is not the first time this has happened; but, somehow, I guess, I thought he would be different. I mean, he always looked nice at the office.

“I know you don’t normally work with men, but do you think you could put something on your Blog for guys? I mean, I think they could really use a few tips, don’t you?”

Yes, Carrie, I definitely do, and now is the perfect time for me to have a little heart-to-heart with the boys of summer -- so here goes!

Fall will be here before you know it, Guys, and winter not far behind. Time to put away the baggy cargo shorts (my preference would be to burn them!) and flip-flops, hide your hairy toes and get your sartorial sh_ _ in order.

To get you started in the right direction, here’s a list of the Top 10 Wardrobe Items that should be in your closet, followed by a list of 4 Great Accessories guaranteed to get you the right kind of attention from the ladies.

1) The best quality, conservative Grey Suit you can afford. Make sure the fit is perfect. 

2) A White Dress Shirt in 100% cotton Oxford cloth, preferably without collar buttons, as this will make it less formal and more versatile.

3) A solid color Silk Tie (navy and/or burgundy) and a striped silk tie.

4) A well cut Navy-Blue Jacket or blazer is timeless and will take you from season to season. It instantly dresses up a pair of jeans or khakis.

Richard Gere - "American Gigolo" 1980

5) Perfectly tailored, Dark Wash Jeans can take you from day (with a jewel-toned polo shirt) to evening (with a dress shirt and jacket).

6) Khakis (fuller cut) or Chinos (slimmer, straight cut) in 100% cotton twill are perfect for casual summer and fall weekends.

7) A V-neck, Cashmere Sweater, preferably in a neutral (but don’t be afraid of color). It should hug the body. Avoid bulky, over-sized sweaters.

8) A great Polo in a solid color. Don’t button the top button and don’t pop the collar over your sweater or jacket.

Balmoral Oxford Ties - Made in Italy

9) The best pair(s) of black and/or dark brown, lace-up Dress Shoes you can afford. They go with everything and you’ll wear them more often than you think. Keep them well polished.

Classic Burberry Trench Coat

10) A belted Trench Coat in a go-with-anything neutral color.

Now, for the 4 Great Accessories guaranteed to grab a gal’s attention:

Vintage Omega Watch

1)  You may use your cell phone to tell time, but a great Wristwatch tells a lot about you. It tells a woman that you are a man of substance and taste.

There’s something about a fabulous watch on a man’s wrist that is oh soooo sexy!

 2)  Good quality Leather Gloves in black or dark brown. They should fit well. Leather gloves are classy and sexy on both men and women.

3) A light-weight, Wool Scarf (or 2 or 3) in solid color, striped or discreet plaid (fringe optional) is a must-have accessory.

Thrown over a blazer or trench coat, it adds a dash of swashbuckle to your look, and no woman can resist that.

4) And for that extra dash of country gentleman, slip a great Pocket Square into your breast pocket. (Pipe optional.)

The pocket square is a wonderfully insouciant touch, at once discreet and slightly bold.

It can be a great conversation starter without you having to say a thing -- “Hi, I just love your pocket square. It’s really great!” The rest is up to you.

In fact, the well-dressed man can let his clothes speak for him, which comes in handy when you can’t think of anything clever to say.

Will Smith Leaving Berlin Airport

Oh, and BTW, Gentlemen…lest you think well-dressed men don’t wear hats anymore??? Think again.

This is the way to rock a hat. Fabulous!

So, the next time you take out a special Lady, show her how special she is by taking care to look your best.

I promise you, you won’t regret it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Marilyn and Marlene

Sometime during the night of August 4th to 5th of 1962, America lost one of its most glamorous and radiant stars. In her Los Angeles home on Helena Drive, Norma Jean Baker, a/k/a Marilyn Monroe, passed away under mysterious circumstances at the tender age of 36.

As difficult as it is to believe that it’s been 50 years since her tragic death, it’s even more difficult to believe that were she still with us today, Marilyn Monroe would be 86 years old.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Hollywood Icon’s passing, MAC cosmetics will be launching a make-up collection in October in honor of the luminous star of “Some Like It Hot” and “The Seven-Year Itch.”

Frequently copied, but never equaled, Marilyn’s Look was an alluring synthesis of hyperfemininity (Marilyn) and fragility (Norma Jean).

Her most enduring love affair was with the camera, and it loved her back in a way that no man ever could.

Marilyn Monroe's Look was a collaborative creation with her favorite make-up artist and confidante, Whitey, whose devotion to her image remained beyond the grave. He took many of their make-up secrets with him when he died. A sadly prophetic request, she once asked Whitey to do her make-up if she should die first. He did.

Beyond the voluptuous body and the platinum hair, it was that fabulous face that really made Marilyn……..well, Marilyn. The make-up and application techniques to create that amazing face evolved over time and, eventually, took more than three hours to complete from the initial coat of Vaseline petroleum jelly, to give her face that dewy glow, to the final coat-after-coat of red lipstick followed by Whitey’s and Marilyn’s secret formula lip gloss ---- it remains a secret.

For a wonderful insight on how to recreate the Marilyn Look, make-up artist to the stars, Lisa Eldridge, gives a fascinating tutorial that lasts about 10 minutes (not three hours) and is worth every minute.

25 years before little Norma Jean made her appearance in Los Angeles County Hospital, Maria Magdalena Dietrich von Losch, made hers in Berlin, Germany.

“The Blue Angel,” a 1930 German film, would bring Marlene Dietrich to the attention of Hollywood and the world.

She became one of Hollywood’s most glamorous and enduring movie stars.

Despite the usual highs (box office dynamite) and lows (box office poison), her career spanned more than 50 years.

Born without Marilyn’s natural beauty, but with the same cunning camera instincts, she became an expert on angles, lighting and how to apply make-up to create the shadows and illusions that would become the Dietrich Look.

Although not openly discussed at the time, Marlene’s bisexuality was an essential element of the Dietrich Look.

Famous for her shapely legs, she showed them to great effect when sexy Marlene was called for. And then there was that deep, sultry voice with a heavy dash of accent.

In contrast to the sweetness and fragility of Marilyn’s sex appeal, Marlene’s was edgy and tough.

This was a gal who could clearly get you into trouble; but she was also the gal you wanted in your corner when trouble started.

And then there’s the androgynous allure of her most famous Look. Considered très risqué for its time, it caused quite a stir in Hollywood circles.

But when it came to the way she dressed, Dietrich had a very simple philosophy: "I dress for myself; not for the image, not for the public, not for the fashion, not for men."

It is my favorite Dietrich Look. Only Fred Astaire ever brought so much panache to a top hat and tails.

In 1937, Dietrich became an American citizen and spent most of World War II entertaining American troops in North Africa and Europe.

She was awarded the American Medal of Freedom, reportedly her most cherished award, and the French Legion of Honor.

In the 1950s Dietrich headlined her own cabaret show and took it all over the world.

After a nasty fall on stage, she gave her last live performance in 1974 at the age of 72.

After that, she made a brief guest appearance in a movie and was the subject of a wonderful documentary by the actor Maximilian Schell, which she agreed to do only on condition that she not be photographed.

At 83, no camera angle, lighting or artfully applied make-up could recreate the Dietrich Look, and she knew it.

Schell complied with her wishes and used only that wonderful voice, which alone can stir up images of the Blue Angel.

She spent her final years in seclusion in her apartment on the Avenue Montaigne in Paris. 

Sometime during the night of May 6th to 7th of 1992, Maria Magdalena Dietrich von Losch, a/k/a Marlene Dietrich, died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 90.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Little Friday Foot Fantasy

This fall, the Disney Studios will issue the “Diamond” edition in Blu-ray HD of the most famous rags to riches story ever written --  “Cinderella.”

And, once again, the most famous pair of dancing shoes ever worn by a fairy tale heroine will take center stage to the delight of little girls young and old.

To mark the occasion, Disney asked Christian Louboutin to create a modern version of the Glass Slipper. Be still my beating heart!!!

Louboutin set to work to create a shoe that was as light as a butterfly, as elegant as vintage lace and as transparent as tulle.

At a touch of his magic wand, Louboutin has reinvented the fairy tale princess’s celebrated slipper for the modern woman.

With its sheer lace embroidered with Swarovski crystals, sequin-studded heel and glittering butterflies poised delicately at either end, Louboutin’s “glass slipper” truly casts a magic spell.

You need only slip them on to feel like a princess who could dance the night away in the arms of her Prince Charming……well, at least until Midnight, anyway.

Only 20 pairs will be made and distributed around the world. The details of that distribution are still under wraps, but Disney has promised to reveal all sometime this month.

In the meantime, if you don’t have a Fairy Godmother or magic wand handy, you can still add a touch of magic to your tired dancing slippers. ShoeClips.Biz has a fabulous array of modern and vintage shoe clips that will make you feel like royalty for much less than a princely sum. Now that’s charming.