Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Elephant in the Room

This has been a tough November. I'm not referring to the Thanksgiving turkey; Butterball never disappoints. I'm talking about the election... I could make other references to turkeys and goose eggs, but it's time to face reality.

The First Lady has always been an object of fashion fascination. Some First Ladies have been dismissed (certainly Bess Truman) if only for their fashion sense (Eleanor Roosevelt). Others have been pegged (Nancy Reagan for her James-Galanos-correctness); others have been swooned over (Jackie Kennedy you think???). Michelle Obama turned out a delightful surprise. Much has been written about her. I can only add she will be sorely missed.

Which brings us to... Melania Trump. The Melania backlash has already begun. Through no fault of her own (she didn't really help), her husband was elected. Melania was a beauty queen/model before being elevated to the third Mrs. Trump. Obviously she dresses for The Donald as her choices are form fitting on spike heels. In my opinion her makeup is too hard and masque-like. She never looks relaxed and comfortable.

The jury is still out whether she will be an active First Lady. It doesn't look like they will be leaving NYC anytime soon. Whether she spends most of her time in the ivory (and gold) Trump Tower or not, Melania will also have the responsibility to represent the United States on the world's stage.

Seventh Avenue and the fashion press are rumbling about who will "dress" her. The New York Times reported on this in Thursday's Style section. French designer-turned-New-Yorker Sophie Theallet got the ball rolling with a Facebook/Instagram/Twitter post calling for a boycott of dressing Melania Trump. She is a CFDA member (Council of Fashion Designers of America). A few other designers have publicly followed suit. Tommy Hilfiger said he would have no problem.  The Times made mention that his offices are in the Trump Tower.

Diane von Furstenburg, CFDA chairwoman and a Hillary supporter, had already urged members to try and help "on the eve of this new era" and to "embrace diversity, be open minded, be generous and have compassion" and to "be an example of good". Geez, I love Diane von Furstenburg.

The website Fashionista, in a piece titled "How we Plan on Covering (or Not Covering) Melania Trump's Fashion Choices" attempted to take the high road by staying neutral, adding, "We plan on having no part in normalizing the Trump family... we don't want to contribute to humanizing or making light of an administration that poses such serious threats to women, minorities, immigrants and more...".

The elephant is there, alright, and not just the symbol of the Republican party. As a blogger I don't feel I am a reporter. I have definite opinions, though I'm personally not the least bit influential. Though I may wish I could write about Hillary's pantsuits for the next four years, I have to say I am sympathetic towards Melania. This is another brouhaha I'm sure she didn't sign on for. I definitely believe that Donald Trump wanted to win but never expected to actually be President.

If any designers would step forward to dress him, I think they would do this country a great service. Right now Trump looks like an Ivy Leaguer gone to seed or a used car salesman trying to look successful. Voices from Shakespeare to Mark Twain have stated "Clothes make the man." I fear this would be a Herculean task. It doesn't appear anyone could make Trump do anything he didn't want.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

My Prince Has Come...

Prince Charming and you-know-who

For years I've wanted one of Ralph Lauren's military-inspired jackets but have never been able to find the right one. If I could swan into his Madison Avenue atelier I might, but I'm not that kind of gal. Something about champagne taste and a (domestic) beer pocketbook.

This is a look a stylish friend also loves. She has four of them, purchased through various combinations of ebay and the Ralph Lauren Denim & Supply shop. Our styles don't really mesh, but in this case we agree. I've tried on a few that may have made it to the sale racks, but nothing really said "go for it" until yesterday.

Prince TJ of Maxx

I found my "prince" hanging on the end of a random rack at TJ Maxx, that mecca for the beer-budget fashion-possessed. There wasn't another in sight. My size. Regular price: $245. Their price: $69.99. Aside: Marshall's and TJ Maxx are owned by the same company. Is it deliberate that TJ's fashion is more forward than Marshall's?

I'm a firm believer in the "it was meant to be" aspect of shopping. I've been able to accept defeat uttering that mantra. Yesterday was " It was meant to be!"

This type of jacket has been part of the Ralph Lauren canon for many years. It adapts it to his "moment du jour", be it English, Russian, Native American, etc. Lately it lands most frequently under his "Denim & Supply" label, which leans towards the fanciful/Boho/Americana look.

Marching on...

To show you how long I've been coveting my own, I bought an old marching band jacket at a thrift store in the '90s and wore it for a bit. It was quite stiff and unwieldy. Hard to imagine anyone playing a piccolo let along a tuba while wearing it.

Not only did my fabulous find scratch a long-time itch and arrive in time for Nutcracker season, I came home to this in the November issue of Harper's Bazaar:

Rare selfie moment


Friday, November 11, 2016

Women We Love: Leslie Caron

Is it? Could it be? I bet it is... Yes... It is Leslie Caron!
— my thoughts as I watched episode three of "The Durrells on Corfu", a  British import on PBS' Masterpiece Theatre based on Gerald Durrell's quasi-autobiography of his family on Corfu in the late 1930s.

The family is high-spirited and a bit madcap, maybe downright mean to each other at times. This may take some liberties with the truth, but the Durrells were in fact an unusual brood.

In character on Corfu

How did Leslie Caron, now 85, land on Corfu? She plays Countess Mavrodaki, a reclusive member of Corfu's aristocracy. The Countess gives the sweetly miserable adolescent Margo Durrell a job as her "companion". Primary function: reading sappy romances aloud as the Countess paints some pretty awful still lifes. Aside: The Countess' butler is played by Jeremy Swift, also Maggie Smith's butler on "Downton Abbey". Leslie Caron has a small role, but she is lovely. Her appearance reminds me how little we have seen her and how much we have missed.

Leslie as Gigi

Leslie was one of the "gamines" popular in the 1950s. She achieved movie fame in 1951's "An American in Paris" and went on to star in the musicals "Gigi", "Lili" and "Daddy Long Legs" as well as "The L-Shaped Room" and "Father Goose". She continues to appear sporadically in films, on stage and television.

Lovely Leslie was born in France to a Franco-American ballet dancer and a French chemist-perfumer. She trained to be a dancer from childhood and was discovered by Gene Kelly while appearing in Roland Petit's renowned ballet company. She's been married three times and has two children. A scandalous affair with Warren Beatty in the early '60s caused the break-up of her second marriage (to playwright Peter Hall). Her 2010 autobiography, "Thank Heaven", tells all.

Leslie with Warren

There is an interesting gamine connection. After Audrey Hepburn's death Leslie had a relationship with Gamine #1's long-time companion, Robert Wolders. And Zizi Jeanmarie, another '50s gamine still kicking at 92, was married to Roland Petit of Leslie's ballet company.

Audrey with Robert
Zizi Jeanmarie

If being a dancer contributed to these ladies' grace and poise, sign me up for lessons.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

How to Mix-Match not Mismatch

Not this...

Working at The Lovely Boutique allows me to eavesdrop on women's minds. In the brief course of a transaction I can often get a handle on what makes us tick. And believe me, we all have different tick-tocks.

The other day a customer asked if she could wear brown boots with the print dress she had just bought. I answered of course she could. The boots didn't have to match; they would blend. "Matching is easy for me", she said. "I have trouble with blending."

There is a difference. Matching means those two navies match. That red handbag matches those red shoes. It's really difficult to match navy— or black or any color. And matching accessories has been a no-no for so long, it might actually become Fashion again. For now, matchy-match is OUT.

So how does one blend??? In an era of very few fashion rules, there are some guidelines— helpful I hope.

Big + small(er) sideways

> Pattern
Pair big with small. Big with big equals sofa upholstery. Small with small is too ditsy to make the point. Certain rules still apply: Big on top if you are smaller there. Small on top if you are bigger there.


> Geometric vs. floral
Geometrics pair well with other geometrics. Likewise florals with florals. Exception: when you mimic coloration you can mix florals and geometrics. Let's call that the graduate degree. Animal prints work with everything.

Always exceptions...

> Color versus shade
Colors don't always have to "go together" in the traditional sense. The same grey value or shades of colors can work together. Squint your eyes; if the edges of the colors seem to disappear they are probably similar shades.

> Color chameleons
Sometimes colors take on more of a hue when they are next to another color. Taupes and greys can appear more lavender or more yellow, depending... Likewise, the light (incandescent vs fluorescent vs daylight) can make a difference. Argghhh!

Neutral rest stop

> Pop with a neutral
Just as three pieces make an outfit, the third piece in mixing patterns can be a neutral— a rest for the eye. This is the best way to get into mixing patterns if you are taking baby steps.

> Trust your instincts
Theories aside, if it doesn't work for you, it doesn't work. Period.

Likewise, if it does it does.