Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Very Crawley Christmas with the du Ponts – Part 3

At the end of Part 2, we left poor Lady Edith at the altar.  Sadly, we were not the first to do so.  Now, it’s time to take a look at Lady Mary’s most beautiful clothes (I've saved the best for last!) and relive one of her most beautiful moments, as we conclude our tour of the Costumes of Downton Abbey at the magnificent Winterthur Museum. 

Can we ever forget Lady Mary’s fabulous spider web dress? 

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Very Crawley Christmas with the du Ponts – Part 2

Welcome back, dear Readers, as we continue our tour of the Costumes of Downton Abbey at the magnificent Winterthur Museum.  In Part 1, I gave you a little background on Winterthur and the du Pont family, the American landed-gentry counterparts of the British Crawleys of Downton Abbey.  We began our Downton Abbey costume tour downstairs.  Now, it’s time to move upstairs to see what the well-dressed Crawleys are wearing. 

Let’s start with some of their favorite outdoor activities. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Very Crawley Christmas with the du Ponts – Part 1

It was a dark and stormy night………..just kidding!..........actually, it was a cold and rainy morning as we three ladies piled into Earline’s SUV to begin our journey across three States.  No sooner had we buckled our seat belts than the rain had turned to sleet.  But we were prepared for any eventuality; we had packed bottled water, trail mix and lots and lots of chocolate. 

And suddenly, there it was.  The skies had cleared, and its lofty spires glinted in the sunlight before us.  We had reached our destination – Downton Abbey!!

M-T and Earline at Downton Abbey

Thursday, November 20, 2014

‘Twas the Week Before Thanksgiving……

‘Twas the week before Thanksgiving, and my girlfriends and I are having lunch, as we do every year at this time, before strapping on our dancing shoes.  The annual holiday dance begins next week.  It starts as a languorous waltz, picks up speed and ends in a frantic tarantella.  But, for now, we will enjoy this quiet time with each other as we clink our champagne glasses and vow NOT to let the holidays leave us in an exhausted heap.  Two months later, over a postmortem lunch, we will clink our glasses again to celebrate our survival. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Slits and Fishtails – The Curvy Gals Best Friends

As an image consultant and style coach, I have had the great pleasure of working with ladies of all shapes and sizes over the years.  But……….and here I have a little confession to make…… curvy, full-figured clients are often the most rewarding.  Why?  Because, if I can help a full-figured woman see her body in a positive way and make the most of those great curves, it can change more than just what she sees in the mirror.  It can change the way she sees herself. 

Typically, she feels she needs to “hide” herself in her clothes.  If I had a nickel for every time I found a shapely pair of legs hiding under a shapeless maxi dress, I would be a very rich woman. 

Haunted by images of models with long, skinny legs, she is convinced her legs are FAT, when, in fact, they are probably far more shapely and sexy than those spindly things poking out of the fashion pages.  It’s usually easier for me to convince her to show some cleavage than it is to get her to show her legs. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Calgon, Take Me Away!!

Do you remember those wonderful "Calgon, Take Me Away!" commercials from the 70's and 80's?  

Do you have "Callgon, Take Me Away!" moments"?  I do.  Last week was one of mine.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween on Sycamore Street

It’s Halloween morning, and all the cats on Sycamore Street are up early putting the finishing touches on their costumes.  Rufus has been up for hours waiting for the man he lives with to get up and feed him, and he’s beginning to run out of patience.  Frankly, if the man didn’t have opposable thumbs allowing him to open tuna cans, he would have kicked him out long ago. 

Rufus decides to take matters into his own paws. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Waist is a Terrible Thing to Waste

From Wall Street Journal Article - "The Quest for the Perfect Pants"
I decided to do a quick trouser inventory of my fall/winter pants last week.   Waaaaay in the back of the closet I found two pair of high (i.e., natural) waist pants that I must have had for over 15 years.  I had completely forgotten I still had them. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Bright Coating for Fall

In a previous post (“My LittleWhite Jacket”) I expressed some mild surprise at the Pantone color choices this fall.  For me, they just didn’t seem to evoke the essence of the season.  Fall is all about cozy warmth and bright, burnished colors. 

This is more of what I had in mind for fall.

The deep, vibrant colors of autumn are the colors of the warm flush of romance and long walks with that special someone in a park ablaze with flame-colored trees.  Make the most of the experience by wrapping yourself in a bright fall coat. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Very Special Honor!

Courtesy of Success for Solopreneurs
At the risk of tooting my own horn – TOOT!  TOOT! – I just had to share something really special with all of you. 

Cindy Swanson, creator of the brilliant Blog “Notes in the Key of Life” (I'm a regular reader!) recently took on quite a challenge.  This busy voice-over artist, radio personality, wife, mother and grandmother took up the Blogger “31 days” challenge to publish a post every day, on one topic, for 31 days.  Not as easy as it sounds! 

Cindy chose a subject near and dear to my heart – “Gracefully Aging.” 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Would You Ask This Woman Out on a Date?

While surfing the web, the other day, I ran across a very interesting article on E Harmony (an online dating service) by Dating and Relationship Coach, Bobbi Palmer.  It was obvious to me that the points she made in her article, “Five Big Online Dating Profile Mistakes Made by Women over 40,” were applicable to any woman of any age looking for that special someone on the internet. 

In a nut shell, Palmer tells us that your Profile is your calling card, so make it count.  Avoid a boring laundry list of likes and dislikes; sell your qualities and what you can bring to the table; don’t be too needy (“I want to be totally devoted...”); don’t be too independent (“I really don’t need a man in my life to be happy, but…”); and don’t be negative or too serious.  Keep your profile fun and light with a dash of humor. 

But, what really caught my attention, was the picture that E Harmony chose to illustrate the article. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What’s in My Make-Up Compact?

In a previous post, “Put Your Best Face Forward for Spring,” I recommended the Laura Mercier 6-well Customizable Compact ($10).  Just pop in six of your favorite blush and eye shadow shades, and you are good to go.  No more hunting through your makeup drawer.   I never travel without it. 

Would you like to know what colors are in mine? 

What's in My Customizable Compact?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Scam Alert – Are You the Target?

Today, we’re going to take a little detour on the road to style, so that I can alert you to an updated version of an oldie but goodie in the ever-expanding world of computer scams.

Last week, I got an e-mail from someone named Dave Wayne.  Mr. Wayne requested information on my image consulting services for his 17-year-old daughter, Anna.  He was in the real estate/construction business in the UK, but his daughter would be staying with his sister in the US. 

Something seemed a bit “off” with the language.  For someone with such an obviously Anglo-Saxon name, it was obvious to me that English was not Mr. Wayne’s native language.  Still, it’s not unusual for me to get inquiries from people from other parts of the US and abroad, who want to book my services while they are in the area, so, I returned his e-mail and referred him to the “Services” page of my website. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Wardrobe Got the Blahs? Let The Power of “3” Work Its Magic!

In the fall of 1998, a new television series aired about three pretty sisters in their mid-twenties who lived in a mansion in San Francisco.  Aside from their obvious good looks, cutting-edge fashion sense and the whole living-in-a-mansion thing, the Halliwell sisters seemed otherwise quite ordinary.  I mean, they had trouble finding and keeping jobs and boyfriends.  What young lady can’t relate to that?  In fact, they were anything but ordinary; in fact, they were the Charmed Ones, good witches who fought and vanquished evil every episode.  Each sister had special powers, but it was together that they and “The Power of ‘3’ ” were unbeatable.  By the following year, every teen-aged girl I knew had fallen under the spell of the Charmed Ones and The Power of “3.” 

The Halliwell sisters’ ability to triumph over evil is just an updated version of the mystical power of the number “3,” the modern incarnation of an all powerful holy trinity in designer duds who comes to the aid of man in his eternal struggle to keep the bad within him and around him at bay.  

But it may surprise you to know just how magical and powerful the number “3” is in the decidedly non-mystical world of our daily lives. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

My Excellent Adventure and How I Survived It

If you will indulge me, I am about to do something I rarely do – I’m about to share something intensely personal with you, my dear Readers, because this week is a week to celebrate and I’d love to include you in my circle of celebration. 

It all started six years ago following a routine diagnostic procedure.  I don’t think I need to spell it out in graphic detail --- O.K., I will --- it was my first colonoscopy, which I should have had at age 50 but had put off and off and off for years.  It was a beautiful June, and my husband and I were in Lyon for the wedding of the daughter of dear friends.  It was the most beautiful wedding I have ever been privileged to attend, but, let’s just say, I knew something wasn’t quite right. 

Things got pretty hectic when we returned home.  Mme Mère needed all my attention following a serious fall while we were away, etc., etc.  Suffice it to say that I finally got around to having that colonoscopy I had been putting off.   The results were not good.  Surgery was scheduled within the week. 

The following is the e-mail I sent to concerned friends when I got home from the hospital. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My Little White Jacket

Have you taken a good look at the Pantone color palette for this fall?  What do you see….or, more precisely, what do you NOT see?

With the exception of Misted Yellow, Cypress and, perhaps, Aurora Red, most of the color palette draws from the cool colors of summer rather than the warm colors of autumn.  The last time I checked, radiant orchid did not appear in the fall color palette, and we autumn girls are only too well aware that the color orchid can play havoc with our skin tones (i.e., wash us out). 

Still……….there is a cool way to bring the cool tones of summer into our warm autumn wardrobes.  And here’s how….

Monday, August 25, 2014

Where Does a Woman Over 60 Find Style Inspiration? Right Here!

Other than a handful of stylish movie stars over the age of 60, style inspirations for those of us “Ladies of a Certain Age” are few and far between.  Where do “real” women over 60, who do not live in the rarefied world of Hollywood, go to be inspired? 

Well, a very savvy lady with an impeccable fashion pedigree has answered that question, and the result is a downloadable eBook entitled “Fashion, Style and Elegance in Women over 60.” 

I had the pleasure of interviewing the author, Patrizia Molechino, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that this charming lady and I are kindred spirits. 


Monday, August 18, 2014

How to Calculate the True Value of a Wardrobe Basic

You’re strolling through Neiman Marcus and you spy this adorable J Brand Denim Jacket.  You look at the tag and see that it’s a touch over $200, so you wonder if it’s worth the price. 

How do you know if you’re getting good value for your hard-earned money?  Just follow my simple formula and you'll know:

Monday, August 11, 2014

Summer Bright Makes Summer Cool

Labor Day (September 1st) is three weeks away, which means only three more weeks of lazy summer days, long cool drinks and bumper-to-bumper shore traffic.  My advice is to see summer out in a blaze of bright, sunny colors. 

This fun cotton beach bag from Manoush will look oh-so cute on your beach blanket, and it’s large enough to hold just about everything you need………..including………….

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Wild Side of Lady-Like – MEOW!

Talbots’ August catalog arrived with a sneak peak of what’s in store (double entendre intended) for fall.  They have gone WILD and married lady-like pink with animal prints.  It’s more of a “meow” than a full-throated “roar,” and I love it!!

The color Pink is a feminine, nurturing color that projects love, warmth and sexuality.   Pale pink comes from the summer color palette, and adding it to animal prints (the traditional mating call of the fall fashion season) is a brilliant way to transition to autumn.  It’s unexpected, and it works! 

I’ve selected a few of my favorites, which, you can be sure, I will be checking out at my local Talbots post haste. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Isn't It Time for a Change of Uniform?

Juicy Dreaming Diva

The cultural divide between Mom and her teen-aged daughter may be wider today than in previous generations, but there is at least one area in which they have found common ground.  They both love and live in their sweats.

While there are still sightings of casual chic on city streets, there is no denying that sweats have become the unofficial official uniform of the suburban American woman.    

I understand the need for comfort, but when did comfy and frumpy become joined at the hip? 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Little White Tee

White House Black Market
Among the hardest working pieces in a woman’s wardrobe, along with the perfect pair of jeans and the perfect LBD, is the perfect LWT – Little White Tee – especially in summer, when it becomes her favorite go-to piece. 

But it often seems that finding the perfect LWT is even harder than finding the perfect LBD. 

It should be a no-brainer.  We should be able to just order it on line or grab one off the rack without even trying it on.  After all, it’s just a simple white Tee -- nothing special, right?  Wrong. 

Finding your perfect LWT is a bit more complicated than that.  It is essential to try it before you buy it to determine the following:

Monday, July 14, 2014

Simple Summer Chic

Summer has meant a bit of catching up for me chez moi.  But, I have not forgotten about you, my lovely Readers.  I've got something in mind for my next post that I think you will enjoy. 

In the meantime, make it an eeeezy, breeeezy summer.  Keep it simple and chic.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

EKE!! I Had That Swimsuit Nightmare Again!

Let’s be honest, Ladies, the older we get, the harder it gets to find a flattering swimsuit.  Even if we’ve only gained a few (relative term) pounds since college, things start to shift, drop and jiggle. 
For my plus-size clients, just the thought of trying on swimsuits in the harsh glare of a fitting room bulb makes them break out in a cold sweat.  Not gonna happen. 
And, then, the grandkids want Nana to take them to the beach or the pool this summer, and Nana can’t look those sweet little things in the eye and say, “Darlings, Nana would rather stick a hot poker in her eye than be seen in a swimsuit.”   
So, Nana has to find a swimsuit that won’t make her want to stick a hot poker in her eye.   Fortunately for Nana, they’re out there, and here are five of my favorites. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

My Perfect Picnic

For the last few weeks, skies have been sunny and the humidity close to nil; in other words -- perfect picnic weather. 

Yves Saint Laurent and Marian McEvoy, future editor of Elle Decor, in Marrakesh (1977).  Fondation Pierre Bergé -Yves Saint Laurent/Guy Marineau
Whether you choose to lounge on a bright blanket and eat from colorful, woven baskets, à la YSL or….

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Pillow Talk Pillow

Can we talk?  It's time for some serious pillow talk, by which I mean a serious talk about pillows!  Any discussion of pillows must be approached with great delicacy, because the word itself is fraught with sexual tension.  Do I exaggerate?  I think not.  Pillows represent one of the great divides between man and woman.  Allow me to explain.  

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Digital Detox and Happiness Bytes

A few weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of working with two lovely ladies “of a certain age.”  I spent a delightful afternoon putting together outfits for Dorothy and Mary, two sisters-in-law, for a trip to London, the centerpiece of which was to be a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show. 

Both ladies are huge horticulture enthusiasts.  Dorothy owned the most charming flower shop in the center of town until she retired.  She now donates her expertise to the local Catholic Church, and every Sunday at Mass, and especially at Easter and Christmas, I say a silent prayer of thanks to the Good Lord for Dorothy’s beautiful flowers.  Not having a green thumb, myself, I am always in awe of those who do. 

At 4:00pm, precisely, we stopped for a well-deserved cup of tea served in Dorothy’s best china cups, and as I sipped my Earl Grey I felt warm and satisfied in the knowledge that this had, indeed, been a productive and enjoyable afternoon.  And the best part was – there were no cell phone interruptions!!  Quelle joie!  Over the last few years, the frequency of cell phone interruptions has made working with clients increasingly difficult, often stressful, for them and for me. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Fleet Week in New York - Kiss a Sailor

It's the 27th annual Fleet Week in New York, and I'm dressed for the festivities. 

Fleet Week in New York

Our young men and women in uniform will fill the streets of Manhattan until Memorial Day on Monday.  Memorial Day signals the official start of summer vacations and long, lazy, days spent at the seaside.  But, Memorial Day means so much more.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

My Spring Essentials Featuring the Leakey Collection

Spring Essentials

The French Touch motto, “Look Your Best; Do Your Best; Be Your Best” comes to life when Art meets African-made, sustainable jewelry and elegant, handcrafted products in The Leakey Collection. 

Spring means new beginnings and hope for the future.  Your support can mean a beautiful piece of jewelry for you and hope for these beautiful women. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The King of Bling

This weekend, I was invited to give the welcoming speech at a “Ladies Spa Night.”  I started by thanking the lovely ladies who put it all together. and then followed up with a big thank you to the person who made it all possible, but who, sadly, could not be with us to join in the celebration.  In fact, he has been gone from our midst for quite a while – since 1715, to be precise.  That person was Louis XIV, King of France, known as le roi soleil, The Sun King. 

During the 75 years of Louis’ reign, almost everything we take for granted in the world of luxury and beauty was invented, perfected or promoted through his royal patronage.  If it sparkled, glimmered or shimmered, if it made him smell good or look good, he wanted it, and most likely wore all of it all at once, hence the name “The Sun King.”  His dazzling persona radiated like the sun.  I like to call him “The Bling King.  If it had Bling, he wanted it. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It Was a Great Time To Be a Kid!

Had lunch with an old friend, yesterday, well…..old in the sense that we have known each other for ages and…..O.K., old in the sense that we are no longer young.  We may not move as fast as we used to, but our conversation runs wild, all over the place, and we still giggle like school girls.  Want to stay young?  Have a good laugh with a good friend as often as possible. 

We talked about the present (the latest aches and pains), the future (her grandchildren) and the past; and we drank a toast to the good fortune of having grown up in the 50s and 60s. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Right Shoe for the Right Job

To know me is to know my love of shoes (See “Red Shoes and Glass Slippers”).   As a little girl, when others were looking forward to their Easter baskets filled with jelly beans, chocolate-covered eggs and marshmallow peeps, I was looking forward to a shiny new pair of Easter shoes.  I’m still that little girl who tingles all over at the thought of a new pair of shoes. 

As far as I’m concerned, it’s all about the shoes.  And choosing the right shoe for the right job can make all the difference.  Here’s what I mean:

Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring Trends – Can We Talk?

Last week began with snow and ended with rain, but today is a beautiful, sunshiny spring day.   Time to sit down with my blogger BFFs and dish about what we can look forward to (or not) this spring. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Put Your Best Face Forward This Spring

Spring officially arrived yesterday, and I couldn’t be more delighted.  Frankly, my love affair with winter was beginning to cool, and a spring fling is just what the doctor ordered. 

In my previous post Is There No Loyalty Left in the World?,” among other things, I talked about brand loyalty (or lack thereof) to makeup and beauty products.  I mentioned that, while I mix and match colors and high end/low end makeup lines, I am essentially loyal to my favorite makeup line, LauraMercier.   So, I’d like to introduce you to some new finds and some old friends from Laura’s line.   

Friday, March 14, 2014

Is There No Loyalty Left in the World?

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Beauty’s ‘Cocktailing’Hour, the author, Elizabeth Holmes, talks about high-end beauty junkies who spend a great deal of their time either on the internet learning about the latest make-up products and techniques or trying them out.  There was a time when a gal went to her favorite make-up counter at the local department store for all her beauty products.  My Grandmother wore only Max Factor, and my Mother swore by Revlon.  Today’s young beauty junkies not only mix and match products, but they mix and match product lines.  A frustrated artiste at heart, I’ve been mixing my blushers, lipsticks and eye shadows to get exactly the right shades for as long as I can remember.  But, I do tend to be loyal to my favorite cosmetic line, Laura Mercier (Read about My Three Make-up Must Haves).  Is Brand loyalty as old-fashioned as pan-cake make-up?  Is loyalty itself an old-fashioned concept?  Is there no loyalty left in the world? 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

10 Things You Thought You Knew About Losing Weight!

I used to begin my Workshops for Women with the following question:  “Who here is satisfied with their bodies?  Raise your hands.”  A nervous titter would trickle around the room while everyone looked at each other and smiled.  Not one hand ever went up.   Not surprising, really, since I have never known a woman who was satisfied with her body.  If I ever do meet one, my first greeting will be, “Welcome to Planet Earth.  I hope you enjoy your stay.” 

No, we have lots of complaints about our bodies, but the “biggest” (sorry!) seems to be about our weight.  No matter how great others tell us we look, we always want to lose 5, 10, 20 pounds (or more). 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Why I Stopped Fidgeting

Well, the long knives are out once again for the “Tiger Mom.”  And this time they mean serious business, as in the slicing and dicing of Amy Chua (a/k/a the “Tiger Mom”) and her co-author husband, Jed Rubenfeld, who have dared to take on some sacred cultural cows in their newest book, The Triple Package -- How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America.  Sound provocative?  Apparently, the critics think so.  I have not read either book, but I find the “controversy” surrounding them very interesting indeed. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Mind the Gap

Dance Recital – Age 6

I inherited my Mother’s gap between her two front teeth.  If you look closely at this picture you can just make it out.  I think this may be the last time I smiled with my mouth open until I got my braces off at the age of 14.  At my junior high school in the 1960s, orthodontic braces were “the” de rigueur fashion accessory.    Almost all my classmates wore them to correct gaps, crooked teeth, overbites and underbites.   In those days, it wasn’t unusual for a kid to wear braces for years at a time.  In fact, some wore them so long that nobody recognized them when they finally came off.  Is that you, Billy?  Wow!  I didn’t recognize you without a mouth full of metal.  I was lucky; I only had to wear them for nine months ----- the longest nine months of my life! 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I'm Back

“Don’t Bother Me; I’m Retired.”
Well….what can I say?  After all your lovely comments and e-mails following my decision to retire The French Touch Blog, the only sensible thing to do was to retire my retirement.  

The truth is, not only did I miss you, but I missed the joy of sharing with you.  So, let’s just call my brief retirement a winter sabbatical and move on, n’est-ce pas?  
2013 was a year of highs and lows (sadly more of the latter), and I bid it adieu with a sigh of relief.  
2014 started out on a high note………literally.